I've just encountered a US Coast Guard vessel with some fairly tense crew aboard. They had me covered the whole time with rifles and wouldn't let me get closer than 40 feet.
The conversation was shouted, but in short they don't know what's going on either - chain of command is broken and they're looking after themselves. They have a secure dock nearby but wouldn't say where. I gave them the address of this diary and the officer in charge - Becker - said he would look it up.
I'm under way again now, they gave me some possible locations where I could find fuel with minimal risk so I'm going to try those. I've seen a few abandoned vessels in the area and I guess that's what the Coastguard was doing - making sure none of them were a threat.
A thought just struck me. Those rifles the Coastguard were carrying were mostly M4 Carbines. But the weird thing was the grenade launcher underneath. And one of them was sporting a Barret Model 95 with the military dressing up - which in the US is a SWAT or sniper weapon only - certainly not used by the Coastguard. And the M203 grenade launcher slung underneath the M4 is military issue only too. Makes sense to restrict it's use. Boats can be fragile environments, and when firing into one, a grenade or the BMG round fired by the Barret would cause a lot more damage than you wanted. Hard to rescue immigrants or seize drugs off a sinking boat.
So this coastguard unit have either merged with or at least plundered some kind of infantry or special forces outfit. The men on the boat had a fairly casual competence with handling the weapons. A kind of easy familirity that comes from years of handling, stripping, firing and training with a weapon. I knew it because I'd had the same familirity with my own through 24 years of service.
Just heard some garbled radio traffic. Sounded like a firefight and when I stuck my head out of the main cabin I could hear faint echoes of gunfire. Heard screaming over the radio. Thought for a minute. I'd left them 25 minutes ago doing ten knotts, but this thing could do better than 30. Came about and pushed the throttles smoothly up to their stops.
It took 6 minutes to get close enough to make out that the coastguard patrol boat had itself tied to a super-yacht. There was no sign of life on either. I circled boat vessels carefully, my Ithaca shotgun wedged between my knees - a round in the chamber ready for a snap-shot if I saw any of the Infected. Still nothing. I gave a blast of the horn and waited. Nothing.
Tied up to the patrol boat and jumped aboard. It wasn't a big vessel, and I cleared it in nine minutes. Deserted. But plenty of useful kit on board.
I decided to check the super-yacht. Big mistake. Barely had I jumped over than a berserker rushed me. I got off one shot at close range which caught it's shoulder and span it around even as it was cannoning into me. We both went down on deck and I rolled away quickly. The Ithaca was laying in the gap between us - I lunged for it and grabbed the handle. Brought it up to bear as I was racking the next round into the chamber. Didn't bother with a head shot with it coming towards me again; fired at the chest counting on the mass of lead to push the thing back whilst I racked another round.
Then I took the head shot.
Five dead coastguard crewmen. I didn't know for how long, but I didn't want to find out. And one who was unconscious - looked like Becker. A quick check showed no bites, but he'd slipped on blood and banged his head. Knocked him right out. Heaved him up onto my shoulder and across both boats, nearly dropping him twice. Dumped him in a spare cabin on my yacht and roped his hands loosely to the bedframe. Put a bottle of water in there. Locked the door.
Went back to the patrol boat and picked up an M4, a Barrett, a Sig pistol and a ton of ammunition for all of them. Raided the sickbay and the galley. Then rigged up a bowser to pump fuel across. Found a load of jerrycans and plastic fuel drums. Stowed them on my boat and topped them all up. I figure that's enough to reach NYC.
The whole plunder exercise took just over two hours which was about as long as I wanted to stay there. By the time I cut loose and got back under way, there was some pretty annoyed shouting from the cabin below. I shouted through the door to him. Explained I needed to be sure he wasn't infected.
I guess I'll know in another four hours or so.