A lot can happen in 2 years. The Chinese Scouting Branch had been replaced by a larger, sturdier main force of the Chinese Army in the newly conquered America. They've effectively subjected the American citizens to totalitarianism. Those Americans that can fight do. While the Chinese are seen everywhere they haven't covered the entire American West allowing rebellion cells to hide out in the vast wilderness. The East is not so lucky as most states were hit hard at the invasion's beginning. Ohio is the only state east of the Mississippi to remain out of total Chinese control. It hasn't been easy to keep that title though.
July 20th , 2020, downtown Columbus, the old state capital was being renovated into the main hub of the rebellion. The state courthouse was is a state of distress from a battle, now almost 3 months old, between the now famous Minutemen and the Chinese. While the parking lots and parks were speckled with tents and vehicles of the makeshift rebellion camp with the campfires still smoldering, on the steps of these destroyed ruins stood two men. One was a short man, his face showed the stress of war, but his personality was still cheery. His worn loafers rested on a busted concrete step. Gone was Lee's blazer jacket, it became full of holes and the summer heat made it impractical. He traded it in for a police-issued combat vest over his untucked shirt. His flat cap was still around but it too had seen some wear. Next to him stood James. He made sure to keep his Aviators shinned up and Abercrombie shirt in pristine condition, even though his arm had a scar caused by the shrapnel of battle and he had a slight limp from a round taken in his leg back at Wright Patt, or the Battle of Wright Patt as it was referred to in rebellion circles around the country. It was that battle which brought them to the courthouse steps. They were looking at a brass plaque poorly nailed up to the wall. It shared the wall with other plaques commemorating heroes of the rebellion. One plaque had an inscription hammered in dedicated to Timber Pete, it read as "a humble logger who started the fight". Another, larger plaque had a list of names, names of all the fallen rebels. But those weren't the plaques that brought James and Lee here. They were looking at one inscribed, "Robert Paulson, Marshal of the Minutemen".
"Hard to believe. Our buddy was someone worth remembering?" Lee commented with respect.
"I figured he'd be doing good just to get an employee of the month award?" James joked. They continued to stare at it until a voice broke the silence of the camp,
Geiser and Wilcox. Report down here." The two looked to see the
Army colonel from Wright Patt, now an unofficial general,
flagging them over. The general liked to think he had command
over Lee, James, and the Minutemen militia, he wasn't, but they
played along for the sake of the country. The US military was
still scattered and unorganized as it was two years ago, but some
soldiers were able to make it back to the states from afar under
the radar, and squads were starting to come together to regain
some hierarchy of
military cohesion. The two started down the steps to answer the
general's call. "I have a mission I'd like you to accept." the
duo made sure to listen intently, "We seem to have a good hold
down here in southern and central Ohio, in no short thanks to you
and your fallen friend. Our boys up north aren't having as great
luck. Chinese warships have sailed into the Great Lakes and
hammered our docks. Our Navy has been out of commission and our
jets out of Wright Patt are busy running relief to farther out
west." Lee could almost predict how this conversation will end,
"Think you and your boys could march on up and even the odds in
our favor? Now, before you answer, I'll make sure you boys get
transportation and supplies for all your men. Send some of my
troops and those supply trucks there," the general pointed
towards some large, camouflage, flatbed trucks, "What do you say?
Still got some fight left in you or did it all go out with the
cowboy?" the general, a hard military man, issued a rude
challenge that Lee didn't appreciate, but it was a challenge none
the less. Lee responded in a measured, stately, yet soft
"Sir, you know we avoided the manslaughter of your men at Wright Patt and we fought hard here at Columbus to retake the capital." Lee tried to make the general regret his remark. The general raised his hand in surrender.
"I know you boys have gotten us out of some tight pinches, but I know how two years of fighting can ware on a man, especially untrained civilians. So if you guys are going to head up to Lake Erie you better head out soon, the reports from up there aren't promising." With that recommendation the general headed off to organize his troops and left Lee to take hold of his Minutemen. Lee looked over his shoulder at James behind him. Lee's face showed a mixed feeling of regret for accepting the general's orders and excitement to get back into the fray of battle.
"Man, I was hoping for a little downtime. We've always been marching somewhere to get shot at for the last 2 years it seems." Lee divulged his inner thought.
"Tell me about it bro. But we are kinda fighting on borrowed time. We stop, the Chinese will start." James tried to level, which was usually Lee's job.
"Well, I suppose we have to round the old Minutemen up and get up to the lake?" Lee said half-heartedly and then he judged what James would say next by the look on his face.
"Ya know who we need to lead this army again?" James followed prediction.
"Right, I know man. Rob. It's been 2 years though, and we've brought them this far. I mean, sure, we weren't the military junkies that Rob or Tony were, where ever the Hell that redneck ended up, but we can take them up to Erie. Our boys haven't been in a real battle for about, what now, 5 months? We've been bogged down here helping clean up the capital, and trying to get some rest." Lee asked and James nodded his head in agreement, "And Tori is out somewhere running the clean up." Lee and James headed over to the Minuteman corner of the rebellion camp.
Across the capital city Tori was 'running clean up' in a torn up city residence. She had stayed with Minutemen all the way up to Columbus. She never took a life while riding with the Minutemen, instead she became adapt at basic field medicine. Once the fighting eased after the seizure of Columbus she started rebuilding with other civilians. Not everyone was a fighter, those that couldn't instead helped build. While Tori wasn't skilled in plumbing, electric work, or construction she was a natural leader. After she got the utilities up for the camp, it didn't take long for most people to view her as the "Mother of the Civilian", a name she wasn't fond of, but proud to have it nonetheless. Were it not for her old friends Tori would've never been this deep in the rebellion. Had they never stopped at Skyline she wouldn't be here in Columbus with people counting on her. She could've still been in Wilmington. Maybe that was a blessing in disguise. Fate put her here in Columbus, she was working on building a small oasis for the civilians.
"Alright, let's try to get these people some running water. Do you have the towers back in usable order?" Tori asked one of the plumbers.
"Yeah, no. This one ain't like the one over by the rebellion camp. It's got a a locked up value just underground. We ain't got the tools to bust it open." replied the soaking wet man.
"We've got some electricity back up in the northeast corner. Just enough to run the necessities, not much else boss." butted in a young electrician.
"Good, see if you can boost any more power from the generators. I don't know what to tell you about the water tower? Just fix it." Tori answered the question a bit rash, but it was tough to be in charge. She handled the stress of leadership, and the war, the best she could. Every once in awhile she'd look at the gold cross that hung at her neck. 2 years of war have different effects on people. Tori remembered where that cross came from, but if anyone asked she told them, "It was my grandmother's". She tried to forget Rob. He was just a knucklehead, a lovestruck fool. That's what she told herself to push the tears back, she didn't like thinking about Rob.
Lee and James cruised through downtown and passed the camps of other rebellion cells. They had Americana names like "Washington's Raiders", "Green Mountain Boys", and "The New Confederacy". They had reached a small city park that was claimed as the Minutemen barracks, the "Minuteman Park". As the war dragged on and news started to spread, the Minutemen gained a mythic status around revolution circles. They were the first major civilian army to continue a successful campaign against the Chinese. To add to their lore most still kept their original issue Springfield rifles, the sign of a true Minuteman. As the duo walked through the damaged iron gates and onto the burnt green grass James headed away from Lee.
"You go ahead and round up the gang. I'm going to get the stragglers from the diner." James explained his sudden leave. Lee didn't get to respond before James limped out of sight. Lee wished James would've stayed around. While he was made the leader of the Minutemen, by default of Rob's death and Tony's disappearance, Lee wasn't one. Lee had the wrong charisma for leadership. He walked over to 'the Tank'. The old Dodge Aspen had seen it's fair share of battles and then some. Some free time in Columbus gave Lee the chance to repair his prized muscle car. He replaced the old bullet riddled Navy blue body with a cool Sapphire blue and the original 13'' had to be replaced by some new 15'' chrome rims. Looking at his pride and joy you would never guess there was a war going on, save the 50 cal machine gun now properly mounted to the roof. Lee opened up his driver door and blasted the horn to get everyone's attention.
"Well. Hey everyone. We've got a new request." Lee spoke to the crowd in an almost unserious tone, "There are some fellow resisters fighting up in Lake Erie. The general knows that we are a reliable force and wishes for us to reinforce our brothers up north. He's even going to loan us a couple trucks and troops." Lee finished and the Minutemen mumbled around as they began to clean up to prepare for shipping out tomorrow. The war had worn some of the spirit off of the famous fighting force, they were still just regular people. James reappeared to Lee's side, with no other fighters.
"So. What, what are we doing man?" James giggled out. Lee looked over at the beach bum. Something didn't seem right, but Lee couldn't put his finger on it just yet, and he needed to load up the Tank. Lifting up the trunk revealed a satchel still laying in the corner hidden behind boxes of ammo and food supplies, no one has ridden in the trunk for two years. Lee pushed it back farther and loaded up their tent.
Swamp Ghost. That was a name feared by the Chinese soldiers charged with patrolling the American South. No soldier that ever met 'it' returned alive. The Swamp Ghost was the only American the Chinese truly feared, soldiers sent into the swamps of Louisiana were sent to a death sentence. A small group of four soldiers were trudging through the waist high water of the humid swamp. A thick cover of Cypress trees cut the sunlight into patchy rays that casted onto the green water and the mosquitoes were thick around the soldiers. The soldiers paid little to the constant bites their faces showed worry for the animal they didn't see. One soldier tapped his comrade's shoulder and motioned him to take lead. They slowly crept along listening to the mosquito buzz, gator hisses, and water ripples. A soldier stepped into some deep mud that stirred up a snapping turtle. The turtle grazed the soldier's foot causing a nervous jerk. The soldier pointed his rifle down at the water and blindly fired into the swampy murk while yelling at the top of his lungs. The other soldiers grabbed him and shouted some Chinese at him. After his clip was emptied he took a long breath and walked up with the rest of his squad. The tension was mounting until a horrific sound broke the ambient noise. The long howl of a wolf echoed through the humid air. The soldiers stopped dead in their tracks and looked around only to see trees. One soldier fell dead, disappearing into the water. The other three began to fire randomly into the tree line. Another one silently fell dead. No gunshots were heard except the ones from the Chinese. The last two soldiers went through all of their rifle ammo when they felt a tap on their back. Both dropped their rifles into the water and went for their pistols as they turned to see who it was. What the soldiers saw froze them up. A tall man, his skin was leather tan from months of the swamp. On his chest, one bandoleer of homemade knives that held up a ratty sleeveless black tee. A black bandanna covered his mouth and nose from the mosquitoes. In his hand sat a Remington 870 shotgun. The soldiers stood with their mouth agape in horror. The "Swamp Ghost", known by his friends as Tony, fired off the shotgun and the last two Chinese in the swamp sank into the water. With his deed done Tony headed back to his shelter. It was just a little shack that sat suspended above the swamp. Before the war it was a bait and tackle shop, now it was the base of a madman. The shop was remodeled, where once stood fishing rods and buckets of night crawlers now housed swords and gator jerky, Tony's staple diet. Over a useless fireplace hung a Winchester 30-30. Tony sat down in a wicker chair and pulled a bottle of Jack from a crate.
"Okay, it's time for us to start our trip up to Lake Erie. I see the best route as taking Interstate 71 up to Sandusky, Ohio." Lee's finger followed the road up on a map that had seen the wear of a pocket laid across the Tank's hood. The sun had risen on Minuteman Park and the dew still sat on the grass.
"Yeah man, sounds like a great idea, we just better get up to them warships." James agreed. Lee still found something off about him.
"James, you enjoy talking, go get the Minutemen ready to move. I'm going to grab some gas for the Tank." Lee ordered. James took it and left to the Minuteman convoy. He could hear the Tank's V8 roar to life. The Minuteman still rode in civilian trucks, they had been beefed up with sheet metal to protect those that rode in the beds. They were lucky to hold on to the truck driver from Washington Courthouse. He found a trailer the Minutemen used as storage for all their camp supplies. Most of the Minutemen were helping load up that trailer.
"Yo everybody!" James hollered to the crowd, "We are going on are way now. Time to, like, load up the trucks and start up the Interstate towards the lake." With that the Minutemen began to load up into the trucks and revved up the engines and James sneaked away. Lee was down the street at a gas station. The 'clean up' crew had gotten the pumps working to keep the rebels mobile, but don't expect to get a bag of chips from the carry out. Lee looked over at another pump to see Tori filling up several cans.
"Hey, what are those for?" Lee asked trying to start a conversation.
"Oh. We haven't gotten power up across the whole residence area. Most of our electricity is powered by home generators, and those don't run on fumes." Tori responded. There was an awkwardness between the two caused by the past.
"I, ah, see your still wearing it." Lee dribbled out as he stared at a particularly interesting piece of chipped pavement. Tori's mouth twitched a little before she spoke,
"Yeah, it was my grandmother's." Tori accidentally rambled through the rehearsed line.
"Really? Is that what you've been telling people? Seems a tad disrespectful." the measured tone returned to Lee's voice. Tori blushed with embarrassment at her mistake,
"Sorry, I just don't like having to bring Rob's memory back up."
"I suppose we all have our ways of handling grief?" Lee chimed in. He was never one to get overworked by what people say.
"Rob never really meant anything special to me when he was alive. He was just a summer fling. But after Wright Patt, after all that? I cry every time that scene plays back in my head. It was terrible." Tori's red face started to drip tears. Lee left the side of his car and went over to Tori. He put a friendly arm around her shoulder.
"As Rob would've said, 'war isn't a pretty thing', or something like that?" Lee consoled. The pump clicked and Lee had to attend to his car, "Me and James are taking the Minutemen up to Sandusky. You want to roll with us again? You were our best medic." Lee closed his gas cap.
"No. I have to respectfully pass. They need me around here." Tori answered as her tears started to clear.
"Right. You're their 'mother'. Forgot you had that title."
"I wish more people did." Tori retorted. At that Lee waved to Tori as he got back into the driver seat. As Lee drove back to pick up James and meet with the convoy he thought about his own statement, 'how do I handle my grief?', Lee was a man, crying was not an option. The war made fading out of society into a depression out of the question, he was too busy, too important. That was how he dealt with it, by moving along. He knew Rob well, he was a fighter, a maverick. He'd want Lee to continue the fight against the 'Chi-Coms', and that's what Lee planned on doing or else he wouldn't be heading up to Sandusky. Then again, he thought of that satchel still stuffed in the trunk. What purpose did it serve? All that was in it was some ammo for a Colt .45 no one had and a couple MRE's no one dared to eat. Before Lee got a chance to sink deep into his philosophy he pulled up to the waiting convoy of Minutemen. The Army general walked up to Lee's window.
"Son. I can spare you 2 flatbeds and 15 troops to bolster your 40 Minutemen. You guys have the order to mobilize ASAP. After you guys head out I'm taking my remaining troops out to Indiana. The Reds are spread out thinner to the West than to the East."
"What about the people here?" Lee didn't like leaving a large number of people defenseless.
"I'll make sure to leave plenty of troops here. Going to pull some of my boys out of Wright Patt to march West." the general eased Lee's worries. As the general finished his statement James appeared as he opened up the passenger door and crawled into the back, "You boys be safe." the general saluted both civilians and walked away.
"Yeah man, you too dude." James replied. Lee geared the Aspen into drive and roared to the front of the convoy. He pulled away and the Minuteman convoy fell in behind him, "Just like the old times ain't it?" James asked.
"I suppose you could say that. It's a little quieter than it used to be. Tori doesn't ride shotgun anymore and we don't have two rednecks in our trunk. It really isn't the same actually. We've fallen apart. I don't feel that same spirit we used to have." Lee sank back into his philosophy. James let out a wheezy chuckle that dribbled into his next sentence,
"That's some deep stuff man. Yeah, we are all that's left. Huh?" James didn't seem all there, even if his statement made sense. Lee turned on the radio, still one of the best ways to get the news. Brian Williams still delivered the news, but no one knew where from. The Chinese had control of all mediums, except the underground cells.
"Last week the Chinese pushed farther into our western states. Inside reports show another possible surge of soldiers to land on the California shore by month's end. Other reports have been released that small band of our US Army are sneaking home from the Middle East Wars. Ohio is still standing strong against the Chinese thanks to the strong resistance cell formed there on day one, but that is being threatened by Chinese ships in Lake Erie and small movements from occupied Pennsylvania. Still no reports of what's happening in the Deep South. This is Brian Williams. The date is July 21st, 2020. Stay tough America." Lee clicked the radio over to some classic rock and keep his thoughts to himself. His thought, 'This isn't the same anymore'. James didn't say much more, he laid down on the bench seat and took a nap.
After a half hour of driving the convoy came up onto a small town, Sunbury. Lee slowed the Tank down to get through the maze of busted streets. The town long emptied. The library, Aldis, and local music shop all sat ghostly quiet along the street. As they drove up onto the main crossroads in town three large Chinese assualt trucks appeared from the rubble of old store fronts and blocked the convoy in. Lee looked back to a sleeping James,
"Hey. Hey! James. Get up. We've got trouble." As Lee blarred that sentence he had to quickly duck as the Chinese machine gun turrets sprayed the convoy, allowing the enemy soldiers to disembark. "Come on! I just got the paint job redone!" Lee hated that his prized car was being shot up, again. The Army trucks were behind the Tank in the convoy. Troops began to jump out the back of the covered flatbeds. Some ducked behind abandoned cars, others couldn't dodge the steady machine gun fire that tore away at the trucks. Minutemen from the back of the convoy were able to jump out of the beds and flank around through old alleys. While the Minutemen were just civilians they had picked up a few tricks over the years of fighting. Lee was hugging the floor of his car and James was groggy at best, gunfire didn't startle him anymore, laying on the seat. They were pinned down unable to fire back as the windshield shattered above them. The troops behind the cars popped up every once in awhile to blind fire a few rounds from their M16. Some of the Minutemen in the beds leaned their rifles up on the roof and fired off rounds to draw attention from the flankers. The Minutemen were finally able to flank to the Chinese rear. The Chinese were caught by surprise, like shooting fish in a barrel. The machine guns were silenced and Lee peeked up to see the Minutemen had dispatched all of the soldiers. He turned around to see the Army trucks torn to shreds and the drivers murdered. James rubbed his eyes and leaned up from the bench seat.
"We just get shot at bro?" He asked half asleep. Lee didn't answer. Instead he grabbed his M40 sniper and went to check on the troops, he was a leader now.
"What's it all looking like?" Lee asked a nearby Minuteman. The middle aged man replied,
"Well, I'd say we got all the Asians. Our Army support had dwindled down to about 5 now. Thought we trained those boys better than that?" Lee nodded his head in understanding and headed towards the Army men.
"What happened with you guys?" Lee didn't understand why the troops had been so amateur.
"We had to engage the enemy and prevent any civilian causalities." the colonel spoke up.
"Listen, I know nothing about how military operates, but we aren't just helpless lemmings. If we are all still here alive I like to think we know what we are doing?" Lee's words mixed a feeling of demeaning to the soldier and off casted, as not to sound to mean.
"Don't worry. We've got this covered..." the colonel started in till Lee interrupted,
"That's why you just lost ten men?" Lee wanted that to be mean.
"... Our trucks have been trashed. We'll take up in the beds of your trucks." the colonel finished his statement ignoring Lee's remark. Lee had a sudden distaste for the brash troops. They weren't like his Minutemen.
"Alright man, just pick a truck then. We'll be moving again soon." Lee walked back towards the Tank, most the Minutemen had finished looting the Chinese for ammo and supplies and were heading to their trucks. Lee opened up the door of his, now windowless, car. As he sat down he happened to look back at James, who quickly threw something out of the window. "What was that man?" Lee asked, questioning James' morals.
"Oh, that bro. That was nothing. Just a bullet shell I pulled out of the upholstery." James was always good with a quick, and semi-believable, story. Lee knew this fact though, and wasn't fooled, but he had to keep the rebellion moving. And so they rolled off again towards Sandusky.
Tony woke up to another morning on the swamp and went about his usual morning routine. He pulled out his long sword and began to sharpen it while chewing some gator jerky. The dragon handle that once adorn this great sword had busted off and was replaced by a homemade cypress wood handle. Most his swords had been replaced or repaired. To say Tony was a changed man after 2 years wouldn't be a good statement. Tony was crazy before the war, the fighting just gave him a legitimate reason to delve deeper into his madness. He lived now only to kill any Chinese soldier that was foolish enough to enter his swamp. He kept his swords sharp for all those unlucky fools, which meant he started every morning sharpening his blades. After several hours of whittling away Tony sensed something off. Most his mornings he could hear the sound of a crane and the nutria rats. The swamp was oddly silent today. Nothing stirred but the waves of mosquitoes. The Chinese were going to try something. Tony dropped his stone onto the nearby table and tied on his bandoleer. He went over to a shelf and started picking up his swords and the Remington pump action. Something outside a near window caught Tony's eye. He saw a whole Chinese battalion trudging through the murk towards his bait shack. Tony slipped the Remington into his back holster and ran over to the cold fireplace. He pulled the Winchester down from it's perch and ran back over to the window. The glass shattered into the water when the rifle butt went through it. Tony started firing at the soldiers and watched them drop. This caused the soldiers to move hastily and disperse from their rank and file formation. Tony rushed out onto his deck and watched the soldiers fumble around his swamp. Bullets started to rain down around Tony and his shack. Tony ran back into his shack. As he charged across the floor bullets whizzed in and out of the old wood building. He grabbed a box of ammo and started his way back to the door. With his hands full Tony used his combat boot to bust the door back open. As he ran across his deck he saw the Chinese getting closer. He threw the box on his air boat and then pulled the Winchester back up. Chinese soldiers started to close in on the shack. That didn't bother Tony, it never did. He dispatched those that tried to take him with the sentimental rifle. He charged back into his shack another time and returned with a crate full of his gator jerky. He threw that onto his boat next to the ammo box. Up on the dock Tony untied his mooring rope as bullets whizzed by and more Chinese soldiers charged up the deck. Some of the soldiers were totting large flamethrowers and fired the flames feet into the air. Tony chuckled at this sad attempt to out gun him. He saw a flame soldier heading towards him with a squad. Tony pulled a small knife from his belt and gave it a throw. The blade embedded itself into the flamethrower tank. The resulting flames scalded the nearby soldiers and caused them to scream. Tony hopped back onto his boat and laughed as he watched the soldiers scramble like mad chickens. He couldn't enjoy the show long and he fired up the large boat fan and began to speed across the swamp. As the air boat passed through the swamp outlet to the Mississippi several Chinese rafts picked up his trail. The motorized rafts gained on the swamp boat. Bullets started to plink off of the old boat. Tony grabbed his shotgun in one hand and fired the bird shot into the inflatable rafts. The air whistled out as the soldiers abandoned ship. Tony threw the drive lever forward and the boat thundered forward in front of the rafts. He pulled the fan ahead of a raft, the little boat was tipped over by the massive gust of wind. The last raft pulled up along the air boat and two soldiers boarded. Tony tied down the drive lever and jumped down from his driver seat to greet the soldiers. As the boat sped down the river with no driver Tony fought against the soldiers. He threw his weight against one causing the Chinese rifle to topple off the side. As the second rifle started to raise Tony grabbed the barrel with a free hand and pulled it away from the soldier. The Chinaman didn't let go of the rifle and ended up following it over the side of the boat with the other rifle. A stray left hook caught Tony's chin. Tony spit out a tooth and looked at the soldier that just punched him with a look of death, followed by a right jab. Tony deflected the next punch and pulled a dagger from his bandoleer. He took a wide swipe and caught the soldier's cheek. The soldier shoved a fist into Tony's gut. Tony retorted by slashing at the soldier's gut, but the body armor stood up against the dagger. The boat was still flying down the river with no one at the controls as the two exchanged blows. The two fighters were being tussled around until a choppy wave came up in the river and threw both of them to the floor of the boat. They rolled around, each trying to get the upper hand. The soldier was on bottom when he kneed Tony in the groin. A yelp accompanied Tony's fall to the side. The soldier got above the injured man and raised his fist high above his head. Tony reached his dagger out and jammed it into the soldier's calf, just above his boot. The cursed some Chinese and limped over the side of the boat. Tony slowly stood back up and hobbled over to the driver seat, it would take awhile for that pain to fade.
The general had just left Columbus with most of the US Army. Tori was left with just a few soldiers and a small group of non-Minuteman rebels to help defend the civilians in case the Chinese show back up again. She was still working on getting the water up in the residence. The plumbers had been beating on the busted value for the last several hours to no avail. While Tori spoke with some plumbers and looked over some paperwork a black man approached her. He was one of the refugees, a bad back kept him from fighting with the resistance. His short dreadlocks were dirty from the surrounding environment and his purple polo had it's share of patches.
"Hey! Lady! We ain't got our trucks in today. What the Hell?" his voice trumped the noise of everything else. Tori turned around and had to look up to make eye contact with the man. Tori had had a long day and responded in a snarky tone,
"I don't even know who you are?"