“The hit came only a few miles outside of Green Valley. We’d been hanging back behind a pair of Old Dominion semis, pacing them. As the semis rolled past the rest area outside of Green Valley, one of the two pickups we’d seen earlier darted out and T-boned the trailing truck.

The truck jack-knifed across the road, the trailer swinging around to block both lanes as the driver struggled to maintain control, doubtless rattled by the impact. Smoke rose from sqealing tires, and it looked for a second like he was going to be able to hold it, but then the right side tires came off the pavement and the truck rolled on its side, the trailer skidding on the asphalt a little farther before coming to a halt.

Nick reacted immediately, swerving toward the median, aiming to get around the stricken tractor-trailer and out of the kill zone. It was exactly what he should have done, and it would have worked if the driver of the box truck behind him hadn’t panicked.

He didn’t lose control right away, but he swerved so hard, while stomping on the brakes, that when his tires hit the gravel of the median, he lost it. He’d slowed down enough that the wreck wasn’t that catastrophic, but the box truck tipped over and slammed on its side. And just like that, we were stuck.

Even as the dust cloud billowed up from the impact of the box truck spilling over, more pickups and a couple of Crown Victorias of all things came tearing out of the rest area. They didn’t do a drive-by, but swerved to line up side-on with the convoy. Windows down, the thugs inside the vehicles opened fire.

I’d had about five seconds to take in what was happening. So had Larry. It was enough.

Larry cranked the wheel and mashed his foot on the accelerator, turning our Expedition to face the storm of gunfire. In the unarmored SUV, the only hope we had to survive was to put the engine block between us and the bullets. Both of us were wearing low-profile plates under our shirts, but there are plenty of ways to get shot around plates, especially when you’ve got a bunch of Uzis, Tec-9s, and a couple of AKs blasting at you.

The SUV almost tipped over, but Larry was good enough to keep it under control. I had the jacket off my 870 and was bringing it up even as I ducked down below the dash to avoid the slashing fragments of metal and window glass as the windshield shattered under the hail of bullets. I could hear the engine screaming as more rounds tore up the radiator, but that engine was keeping us from getting perforated with it, so I didn’t mind. I got my head just high enough over the dash to point the shotgun, and opened fire myself.

I’d loaded with rifled slugs. It still wasn’t going to reach out as well as a rifle at this range, but it was better than buckshot. I got the front bead in the vicinity of one of the windows that was spitting flame and fired. It wasn’t a good shot; it was more of a “get something heading downrange at those assholes” shot, but it got the message across. I don’t think they’d been expecting to get shot at. The fire slackened a bit as they ducked for cover.

Larry had his own shotgun up and resting on the steering wheel now. He cranked three shots as fast as he could pump the SuperNova. Fortunately, there wasn’t much of a windshield left to hinder the slugs.

More thunder announced the guys in Jim’s Expedition opening fire. I glanced out of the side window to get a picture of where Jim’s guys and the rear box truck were. The box truck was halted halfway on the median, in a still-settling cloud of dust. That driver, at least, hadn’t tipped his truck over. Jim’s SUV was pointed at the bad guys, just like ours, and Jim and Little Bob were leaning partway out of the side windows, blasting away with their shotguns. I caught a glimpse of Ben and Derek piling out of the back, staying low, cradling their own weapons.

“Push!” I yelled to Larry, who still had his foot on the accelerator. He complied, rolling our increasingly shot-up Expedition toward the ambushers. We were only a few feet away now.

The abused, wounded engine screamed and smoked as we surged forward and slammed into the Crown Vic in front of us. I rocked forward with the impact, recovered, and shot the dazed, tattooed gang-banger across the crumpled hood from me in the face. I shifted fire to his buddy, who was blinking blood, hair, and bits of brain and shattered bone out of his eyes, and gave him the same treatment. Larry extinguished the car’s driver and passenger with a pair of shots so close together they almost sounded like they made a single noise.

The pickup in front of the Crown Vic suddenly surged ahead, as the shooters in it apparently decided that they had bitten off more than they could chew. Larry thumbed four more slugs into his shotgun faster than I could load two, and cranked off another pair of shots, shattering the pickup’s rear window even as it fishtailed away from us, its rear tires spinning on the gravel. I concentrated on the third pickup behind the car full of rapidly cooling corpses, smashing the rest of my shotgun’s tube through the windshield and into the driver and passenger, both of whom were trying to get a shot at me while taking shelter from the fire coming from Jim’s truck.

A few more shots, and then everything went quiet, aside from the Crown Vic’s horn blaring from the ruined head of the driver lying on it.”

Another Snippet for You

Peter Nealen

Peter Nealen is a former Reconnaissance Marine and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. He deployed to Iraq in 2005-2006, and again in 2007, with 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Recon Bn. After two years of schools and workups, including Scout/Sniper Basic and Team Leader's Courses, he deployed to Afghanistan with 4th Platoon, Force Reconnaissance Company, I MEF. Since he got out, he's been writing, authoring many articles and 24 books, mostly Action/Adventure and Military Thrillers, with some excursions into Paranormal Fantasy and Science Fiction.

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