Kildar, p.14

Kildar, page 14



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  "I need to see the elders," Mike said. "And Oleg for Kulcyanov."

  When the group was gathered Mike waved at the equipment.

  "There is one forty-horsepower tractor for each family," Mike said. "Most of them have a forklift attachment, a dozer blade, a bush-hog, a hay cutter and a couple of other minor attachments. Spread them out to your houses and barns. The big tractor is for the farm in general; there will be a harvester and some planting devices delivered next week. Each family gets a truck and an SUV. The SUVs are for the fathers so they can move around and they can let people use them as they wish with one exception: they are also for the use of the militia when we get it going. The militia has first call on the SUVs. The pallets have general tools that Genadi thought would be of use. There are shovels, hoes, axes, chainsaws and other items. Distribute them equally among you. Yes, I own them, but you are to use them as you would use your own tools. Use them to cut wood until we can do something better for heat, use them in your gardens. Do not think that this is debt; you will surely use them in service of the farm in general as well."

  "Kildar," Father Shaynav said, nodding at him. "We thank you for these items."

  "If the farm has good tools, good seeds and good people, it will prosper," Mike said. "There was no way that we'd be able to make anything better without the proper tools. Next week the trainers will be arriving. They will take a few weeks getting acquainted and looking at the land to figure out where to do training and some projects I have in mind. With the tractors many of the young men will be available for training even during planting. When the trainers get here I'll come up with a schedule and get it to you. While we are still unable to work the fields, however, we'll start introductory weapons training with some of the Keldara. I'll run it, starting tomorrow," he said, handing Oleg a sheet of paper.

  "That is a list of the first group to be trained," Mike said. "I would like to see those men at the caravanserai tomorrow morning about nine. Genadi has another list of Keldara who will start training with the tractors tomorrow. Put the gear away today and I will meet with those men tomorrow."

  Chapter Eleven

  "Oleg, Vil, Pavel, Sawn, Padrek, Yosif," Mike said, shaking hands with the group when they got to the caravanserai. Each was from a different Family and each had shown enough intelligence and initiative in the time he'd known them that they might make good leaders for the militia. "We need to get some gear and set up some stuff. Petro has some wood to set up target boards. For today, we'll probably just work on setting up the range up here. Oleg, you brought the Kulcyanov tractor with the posthole attachment and a wagon?"

  "I did," Oleg said, his normally somber mien breaking into a grin for a moment. "I liked driving it."

  "We rode up in the wagon," Vil added. "I felt as if I was being lazy."

  "There will be work enough today," Mike said.

  There was a cargo door to the cellars on the north side and Mike led them down to the cellars, then over to it.

  "Oleg, get the tractor and bring it around," Mike said, looking at the pile of material he'd gathered near the opening. "We'll start hauling this stuff up."

  "What is this?" Vil asked as he picked up a large and heavy cardboard box.

  "Steel target system," Mike said. "You'll see. I should have gotten Dutov up here."

  They loaded up the tractor, then hauled all the material over to the long lawn on the south side.

  "I'm going to want to berm all these walls eventually," Mike said, directing Oleg over to the wall. "But this one will be first. It's going to take a beating in the meantime."

  He started setting up the range, occasionally consulting a layout he'd drawn. On the west side he dropped steel targets for a pistol range along with the materials for a rolling target system, then set out more target materials for a rifle range on the east. The rifle range was only going to be about sixty meters long, which wasn't nearly enough, but it would do for "around the house" practice.

  Using the posthole digger attachment on tractor they set up wooden target stands and settled the bases of the steel targets. Both of them they set in concrete from bags of Quikrete Mike had gotten from the hardware store. It took most of the day to finish setting up the range to Mike's satisfaction, including having Sawn and Padrek set up shooting tables from raw boards. As with any project, they had to go back to the house for stuff Mike had forgotten and at one point he sent Pavel to the hardware store for more Quikrete and nails.

  By the end of the day, though, they had a decent fixed range to shoot at.

  "Okay," Mike said as the sun was going down. "Back here tomorrow at nine to start classes in weapons."

  "We can be here earlier, Kildar," Vil pointed out. "We are up at dawn."

  "So am I," Mike said. "Running. Nine."

  * * *

  Mike was shaved, showered and fed when the Keldara turned up. In addition to the six that had been there before, Oleg had brought another Keldara, an older man, maybe forty or fifty although it was difficult to tell with the Keldara, who was thin and hard looking.

  "Lasko has some experience with shooting," Oleg said. "I hope you don't mind me bringing him. He is very good."

  "Most of the time you have to retrain people who think they can shoot," Mike said. "But we'll see. Let's head down to the cellars."

  Most of the weapons were still in boxes and Mike had dragged a couple out of the locked storeroom where they were secured.

  "This is the basic weapon that the militia will be issued," Mike said, cracking the seal on the wooden box and opening it up to reveal some silver pouches, each with the outline of an automatic rifle. "They used to ship these things in Cosmoline, which is a bitch and a half to take off. Fortunately, just about everybody's gone to vacuum pack these days."

  He pulled out one of the pouches and slit it, pulling out an AK variant.

  "This is the Skoda AKMS," Mike said, jacking the slide back and checking the barrel. "Anybody know what I just did?"

  "Checked to see if there was a bullet in it," Lasko said.

  "A round, yeah," Mike corrected. "A bullet is the little lead and copper bit that kills. A round is the shell, propellant and bullet. Any time you get handed a weapon, the first thing you do is check the breach." He closed the breach and tossed the weapon to Oleg.

  Oleg lifted the weapon in interest and started to rotate it.

  "Oleg," Mike snapped. "What's the first thing you do?"

  "You didn't find anything, Kildar," Oleg said, puzzled.

  "It doesn't matter," Mike said. "Check. The. Chamber."

  Oleg jacked the slide back and a round came flying out.

  The Keldara muttered a curse that Mike didn't quite catch and looked at the Kildar angrily.

  "I palmed a round and dropped it in when I was closing the chamber," Mike said. "It's a very old trick. But I bet you'll never forget to check it again. Everybody grab one of the rifles and get them out of the foil."

  The other six got their weapons out and Mike was pleased that all of them checked the chambers as soon as they were clear of the foil.

  "Okay, set them down for now and let's get some ammo," Mike said.

  The ammunition was stored in another locked room and Mike pulled out a couple of cases of 7.62x39 along with a case of magazines.

  "Let's go," Mike said when they had all the materials.

  They headed up to the range and loaded mags, then laid the guns out without mags in the well.

  "The way the military teaches about weapons is to have you learn everything about them first, live with them, sleep with them, strip and clean them and then, maybe, they let you shoot them," Mike said. "I think they go about it all wrong. Earplugs," he said, handing them out. "Always wear earplugs if you can; shooting will take away your hearing in a heartbeat. Now, one thing you have to do with a weapon is zero it. Everybody shoots differently, so every weapon has to be zeroed to their particular form. Oleg, you first."

  Mike showed him how to take a good solid shooting prone positio
n on a tarp he'd laid out, then walked him through trigger squeeze and sight alignment.

  "Okay, slip the magazine in the well like this," Mike said, showing him the proper sequence. "Jack back the slide and take your first shot."

  Oleg followed the directions and lined up the target. It was a standard five point shooting target at twenty-five meters. He took his first shot and it was high and left.

  "Do two more," Mike said, watching the shots through his binoculars.

  Oleg put two rounds in close to each other and the other was a flyer.

  "Okay, you're high and left," Mike said. "The second shot was a flyer, you flinched or jerked the trigger, I can't tell which."

  He zeroed Oleg and the other "leader" types, then got to Lasko.

  "I can zero," Lasko said, getting in a prone position.

  He took three shots, slow, and all but the first seemed to miss. But as the Keldara adjusted his zero, Mike took a closer look at the target through the spotting scope. He could swear the hole looked too large for a 7.62.

  "Did you just put all three shots through the same hole?" Mike asked, quietly.

  "Yes," Lasko answered, just as calmly. "I am adjusted, now. May I continue shooting, Kildar?"

  "Go," Mike said.

  Lasko fired five more shots, all of them making a single large hole in the bull's-eye.

  "Okay," Mike said, nodding. "You're good. Very good. Where'd you learn to shoot?"

  "I am the family hunter," Lasko said. "We hunt, a little. I am the best shot in the Keldara," he added with quiet pride. "This gun is not so accurate, though."

  "No, it's not," Mike said. "Okay, troops, you go ahead and blaze away. Lasko, give pointers. Stay on semi-auto; the first guy that goes full auto gets kicked out of the class. I'm going into the house for a couple of other weapons."

  Mike went back to the cellars and got a couple of gun cases and cases of ammo. One of the cases was heavy enough and awkward enough, he had to put it in a rucksack to carry it back.

  "How's it going?" Mike asked Lasko when he got back.

  "They are fair," the older man said. "They have much to learn."

  "Well, we'll see if you do," Mike said, setting out the cases and ammo on the rifle range. It was still too short for what he wanted to do but it would work for zeroing. "Come on over here, Lasko."

  He opened up one case and pulled out a Mannlicher 7mm sniper rifle with a 10x scope, then opened up the other and set out a Robar .50-caliber bolt action with a 20x scope. Last he set up a spotting scope.

  "Start with the Mannlicher," Mike said, showing the Keldara how to set up the bipod and take a good position, including setting up the straps. "Bolt action, five rounds. Comfortable with the scope?"

  "I love it," the Keldara whispered. "May I load, Kildar?"

  While the other six were blazing away, Mike showed the Keldara how to zero in the scope and use the spotting scope. It turned out that Lasko was a fucking artist with the Mannlicher. After he was comfortable with the weapon, Mike went back over to the others. He corrected a few bad habits they were developing and then ran them through alternate shooting stances. He moved them off the shorter range and over to the longer, pulling up the steel targets and having them engage those.

  "Okay, everybody," Mike said. "That includes you, Lasko. I'm going to show you why you don't go on full auto."

  There were three silhouette targets that had been set up at fifty meters. Mike had Oleg take a standing position with his AK.

  "Okay, Oleg, I want you to use a full magazine to engage those targets," Mike said. "Single fire, the whole magazine. Shoot one for a bit, then the other, then the other."

  "Yes, Kildar," Oleg said, puzzled.

  "Try to do it fast," Mike added.

  Oleg lifted the weapon and engaged the targets, firing fast but keeping on target. When he was finished with the course of fire, Mike walked the group down to the targets and patched them. Twenty-five of the thirty rounds in the magazine had hit the targets.

  "Okay," Mike said when they were back at the shooting tables. "Now, I want you to take the weapon and put it on full auto. I don't care how you hold it, just blaze away at the targets."

  "Very well, Kildar," Oleg said, grinning a bit. He put the weapon to his shoulder, set it on full auto and hammered out the whole magazine in about two seconds.

  "That was fun," Oleg said, smiling faintly.

  "Sure is," Mike said. "Now set the weapon down and let's go find out how well you shot."

  When they checked the targets, there was one round center of mass in the left target, another in a shoulder of the same target and the other two hadn't been hit. They patched those and went back to the shooting tables.

  "When you fire, the muzzle climbs," Mike said, picking up one of the weapons and demonstrating without firing. "When you're on full auto, the muzzle climbs out of control. You may get one round on target, maybe two or three if you train for it, but if you fire off the whole magazine you're going to hit damned little."

  "I see that," Oleg said, frowning.

  "There's a way to fire on auto," Mike said, picking up a magazine and inserting it. He lined up the left-hand target, leaning into the weapon. He hit all three targets with quick three round bursts, moving back and forth until all the rounds were expended. "Let's check the targets."

  When they got to the targets, they counted the holes and thirty out of thirty were in the targets. All of them, moreover, were in a narrow area from the upper chest to the head and the pattern of the bursts was clear, neat, triangular shots.

  "Father of All," Vil said, breathing out.

  "One of them was a nick," Mike said, shaking his head. "I'm way out of practice. But the point is, if you just blaze away, you miss. Stay on single shot. We'll practice burst, but in general, stay on single shot. The other point is, you're not going to be sitting in the houses with your ammo. You're going to be moving and you have to carry it on your back. And there aren't any helicopters to bring ammo from God. If you go blazing away, you're going to shoot yourself dry. Conserve your rounds, service your targets and make every shot count."

  "Is the bigger gun a machine gun?" Vil asked, pointing at the Robar.

  "No," Mike said, shrugging. "I probably shouldn't have gotten it out. But . . ." He considered the targeting possibilities and shrugged again. "Oleg, grab the box of ammo, Vil the Robar and Lasko the spotting scope. We're going to need more range to zero it."

  He took them back to the house and up to the balcony overlooking the harem garden.

  "This will do," he said, setting the Robar on a table and unfolding the bipod. "Lasko, spot my rounds on the third zero target." Mike loaded a magazine in the weapon and took a good sight picture on the target. The scope was strong enough that the bull's-eye filled most of it.

  "Right, high," Lasko said at the first round. "Low, left, just outside."

  Mike took five rounds to get the weapon zeroed in to where his last two went perfectly through the X ring. He replaced the magazine and loaded, then swiveled the weapon to look down into the valley.

  "What time of year is it?" Mike asked, noting a small group of deer down by the stream. "Spring. Any hunting laws around here?"

  "You're looking at the herd?" Lasko asked, looking through the spotting scope. "That is nearly two kilometers away."

  "Which one?" Mike asked. It was a long time since he'd shot at this level and he wasn't sure he could make the shot. But he was sure enough to try. Even close would be impressive at this range.

  "The bigger darker one on the left," Lasko said, quietly. "That is the buck. He has nothing to do for the rest of the year but eat. He's skinny now, though. He'll be very tough."

  "I'm making a point," Mike said. "You can have the meat if I'm on."

  Mike looked down into the valley at the trees and tried to gauge the wind. About seven knots from the southeast. Range . . . if the deer was a meter and a quarter or so at the shoulder he was 1500 meters based on the measurements in the scope. Mike wished
for a moment he'd gotten a laser range finder out. There was one sitting in the equipment room but he hadn't expected to need it. He adjusted the scope and considered his target. Even with the 20x scope the deer was small at this distance. He took a slight breath, breathed out, drew back on the trigger and timed the last bit of squeeze for when his heartbeat was off.

  The Robar cracked and Vil sighed.


  "Wait," Mike said. A moment later the deer took a step forward, then fell to his knees and over on his side. The slush beyond him was red with blood. The other deer sniffed at it for a moment and then trotted away in confusion.

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