By Craig Sheeley
As I walked into the small office and shook hands with the occupant, I noticed the open, thin glass-paned window behind him. Taking a seat, I gestured to the window and said, "I'm rather surprised, Colonel, at the lack of defenses here at the University. In a city with the high duel rate that this one has, I would've expected some heavy defenses."
Colonel Jeff Stevens smiled confidently. "Few people want to start a fight around here. They know old Al's manned at all times." He must have seen the confusion on my face, for he explained: "The Haig Mk 3 tank out on the lawn. It's fully operational. And armed. Just last month it stopped a runaway truck. Only needed one shell."
"I see. As you know, Colonel, I'm here to find out about MADD, but a little background on you, first. How old are you, and what is your position here at Southwest Missouri Military University?"
"I'm 30 years old, and hold the position of instructor. My main course load is American History, but I teach European History - most Middle Ages classes - and hold courses on Strategy and Logistics for the military students."
"You are also an AADA-registered duellist, Colonel?"
"And have been for 5 years"
"About MADD. What is it, exactly?"
"To be precise, the 1st MADD is listed as an auxiliary scout and recon unit. Our duties consists of fast reconnaissance, covert probes, - we're a little less obvious than the usual National Guard scout car - and quick-response firepower where it's needed. Not that we'd be much good against heavy units, of course - but our vehicles are good enough to handle the average APC."
"Very interesting. So you are actually a formal military unit composed of autoduellists."
"The first in history," he confirmed proudly.
"How did the unit come to exist, Colonel? The details of the unit's origin are a little vague, outside of Missouri."
He frowned. "You could find all the details you'd want in any of the news archives in this city, but since I'm one of the founding members, I'll save you the time.
"Last year, on July 11, the New Madrid fault over in the Missouri Bootheel decided to release some tension. The quake was 5.3 on the Richter Scale, as you'll remember. We only felt a tremor here, but a lot of old bridges in the state were fatally weakened by the shock. The main arteries of road travel were cut.
"Here in Springfield, there was some panic. The geologists were predicting that this quake was only a precursor of the big quake; the big quake's supposed to make California's quake of 2015 look small. All the news channels were carrying warnings about what was going to happen when the big one hit. Naturally, there was a panicked exodus.
"The National Guard was called out to handle the situation. Unfortunately, most of the Guard from the area was up in Fort Leonard Wood, on maneuvers. With the cut bridges, they couldn't get down to us. Anyway, most of them were needed to quell the riots in St. Louis up north. Still, that left us without troops, and the police couldn't handle the situation alone. Then General Moody, the administrative head of the University, decided that we Guard members who were faculty would take a hand. He gathered volunteers from the student body, armed them from the armory, piled them in private vehicles with one instructor for every 20 kids, and sent them off to control panic and prevent looting.
"Most of these vehicles were street cars, with a couple of school buses. Adequate to handle pedestrian looters, but not the heavy stuff. Those of us who were duellists decided to lend our street vehicles to the militia and use our duel vehicles on patrol, to help out the police cars. It was a good thing we did. The added firepower sure helped convince some of the local gangs to change their minds about going on rampages, and when the Parkwood Gang showed up from Joplin, we needed our duelling cars, as well as the help provided by the two police cruisers and the chopper full of militia that joined in the fight. As for the end of the Parkwood Gang, well, the Battle of Battlefield Mall is well-documented enough.
"After the crisis was over, and the geologists at New Madrid declared that the quake had actually lessened the chances of a big quake, the militia quietly went back to their classes. A lot of kids got a lot of citations; we Guard members got promotions - those of us responsible for the demise of the Parkwood Gang got salvage rights - that's what provided the money for my CAN/DID duelling car.
"HQ was impressed at the capabilities of a unit formed of duellists, and approached us with the idea of making duellists members of a new, permanent unit. Thus the 1st MADD was formed. It was originally called the Mobile Auxiliary Duellist Detachment, but we got the name changed."
"So MADD started out as a combat unit."
"We still are."
"How is MADD organized, Colonel? Who are the members?"
"MADD is really a cadre unit; there is a permanent core of about six members, officers all, and around 20 semi-permanent members, who are enlisted men. We're getting bigger all the time; it's a good assignment for us, and one of the elite groups in the Missouri National Guard. The members are all part of the guard as well; that's a requirement. The other requirement is that each member must have fought in one confirmed AADA duel, since we're affiliated with the AADA."
"Why is MADD such a good assignment?"
"For lots of reasons! When you go on maneuvers, you get paid to drive your own car, power and ammo are paid for, you don't have to be crammed into a truck or chopper, it's gruelling practice - better than anything but live combat - and you get paid for doing it, just like regular maneuvers. And the best benefit of MADD is the 'insurance': Nobody picks a fight with a MADD member. Like our motto says, 'If someone gets MADD, we get even!'"
"What do you see in MADD's future, Colonel?"
"Well, we hope to be able to host the AADA Midwest Regionals some year, out at the Hammons Fairgrounds. And we'll continue to grow: We already have off-road capability and a general-purpose chopper, which is maintained by the National Guard, bless 'em!"
"Do you think other units like yours will be formed, Colonel?"
"Probably not in Missouri. In other states, who can tell? But no matter what, MADD is the first military duelling unit, the Texas Rangers notwithstanding."
"Thank you, Colonel, for this interview."
Colonel Jeff Stevens is an Ace autoduellist, with four arena kills and nine confirmed total kills.