I appreciate the exploration of conscience, ethics, and morals. You are inviting us to ponder, in advance of need, just what personal and religious boundaries we truly own. "Bad guy pointing gun at wife? EASY"
Sniping from a distance at perps "not in the act of evil"--not so much.
Garen and Bekka stayed in position while the other three maneuvered around in their retreat back to the theater. They could watch the stirred-up people. No one down there seemed to really understand what was going on for quite a bit. Each were looking for some of the intermediate leaders to take a chunk out of.
Their whole goal was to stir things up and get them on the reacting part of the curve for the time being. They didn’t do anything over towards the theater or the other buildings they were using yet. The fatigue factor was a tool and a weapon if you knew how to use it right.
Bekka was tracking a person walking near the building giving orders and talking on a satellite phone. She kept watching him, hoping and willing him to stop for a minute or two. She was going for the Hollywood shot. It would potentially make things even more chaotic. She was in luck, he was standing still, yelling into the phone. Bekka put all her focus, all her hours of practice into this shot. The biathlon gun was up to the task as well. She shot the phone.
Garen got into a groove. He pumped five rounds into the torso of one sentry, put in another magazine and waited. The guy who came to relieve him was trying to drag the partially conscious guy back towards the building, all the while looking around franticly and shouting for help. Garen dumped five rounds into his lower back. The next guy coming out the door to help took a couple rounds in random places as he ducked back inside. The two he dumped in the parking lot lay there squirming for quite some time. Garen was long gone by the time they came out and got them.
Garen was reviewing things so far in his head as he made his way back. The 22s were working well. They weren’t necessarily killing them. Instead, they were a mobility and combat effectiveness kill. If they got to a hospital, they would probably live. They had the option to pull out, abandon the area and live. The longer they waited to do so, the crappier their chances were however. A tumbling 22 to the abdomen will open up intestines, liberating the contents into the other tissues. Peritonitis is quite painful and would only get worse, then followed by septic shock. This was a multi-day process and will be quite demoralizing to witness. Shots into the thoracic cavity won’t necessarily instantly kill or incapacitate either. A lot of it depends on the structures violated. At the least, it can puncture a lung. The hole on the outside will be tiny and hard to find. It won’t be the real air leak collapsing a lung. It will be the hole in the tissue itself. It will leak air from the bronchioles and the air sacs within the lung into the space around the lung. With no way to plug a leak there, unless they have someone trained above a normal paramedic level, it will probably keep collapsing until it leads to their death hours later as they struggle to breath.
The other big factor for the bad guys was they had no idea who was out there, what they wanted, how many were there. They will be losing their minds for the next however many hours it will take before they start generating some intel on who has shown up. They will hopefully find the fake shooting positions. This will activate the ego and the rage rather than plotting and strategy. Meanwhile, his crew will be resting, fueling and resetting for the next surge of activity. To have a good idea on the activity while they slept, they had the cameras set up to record the stadium. They will see what goes down, and then they will strike again.
Angelique couldn’t sleep any longer. She was that kid always moving. She had laid there in the theater after she woke up, trying to get back to sleep, but it was futile. Instead, she went poking around down in the cubbies and crannies of the stage and backstage. There was still quite a bit of theatrical gear such as set flats and props. She came across a few things that set her mind racing. She had a plan.
It took some time and scrounging, but she finally had an idea and the stuff to pull it off. An hour or two of frantic building and she was putting the final touches on her creation when Bekka came out on stage to see what she was doing.
Bekka was intrigued with what she saw. There were a few drums sitting together in the middle of the stage. On top of that was a cardboard box with neat handwriting in permanent marker made to look like commercial printing. Several road flares were bundled together with electrician’s tape, along with a circuit board, complete with blinking light and antenna. Angelique was finishing a sign on a chunk of plywood. As Angelique moved back to survey her handy work, Bekka could read the sign.
She had to laugh. It was perfect. Angelique saw her and started to explain her idea.
“I woke up early, so I was thinking and I wondered what we could do to shake those guys if they were chasing us. I thought if they thought we were leading them into a trap, especially one with a big bomb, they might turn tail and run back out of the building. What do you think?”
“Angelique, I think it is brilliant. We don’t want them in the theater, but if they come, this might get them to not come back in. Where did you get all the parts?”
“Paint and markers were already here, I scrounged around for the drums, then pained the Gasoline logos on them, and a random cardboard box with the C4 in marker was easy as well. The flares came from the truck, and the circuit board with flashing light was one of those industrial air fresheners. You know the kind, they have a can of spray inside and a timer that blinks a light to indicate the rate the timer is set to. I stripped it out of its plastic housing and stuck it up top. The ‘antenna’ is a piece of coat hanger stuck in a marker body and painted black.”
“And the sign?”
“I figured we were kids pulling tricks on stupid adults. They would feel superior, having tricked the bad guys into coming into their trap. They would want to gloat. I’ve got some stuff to simulate pressure plates and tripwires so when we run through or they try and sneak in, they get deceived from a distance and don’t even get close to this thing to find out its fake. So, what do you think?”
"I think it’s a hell of a good idea. Keep it up. I’m going to go get some food started for us. Everyone should be up and eating within the hour.”
Angelique went back to the finishing touches of her creation.
During breakfast, they all watched the video of the day activities of the bad guys. It looked like they were franticly working on finding the shooters. There was also a huge amount of frustration at the pile of unusable vehicles. The activities were also significant to their planning by showing the pattern of the defenses being built and visited. Three vehicles also came and left from someplace else. They appeared to be some of the ones seen at the forest camp. By seeing the route they drove in from, Bekka began extrapolating the possible routes they are using to get to the forest camp.
The motor pool was now guarded by at least six people at all times. This seemed to be one of the chief concerns of the bad guys. It would also make one of the most lucrative targets for both eliminating manpower and curtailing the mobility of the counter operations.
To accelerate the process, they figured to break into two teams plus an overwatch/ops coordination person, who would be on the long gun if needed. This meant the overwatch would be Bekka, Garen or Allyson. Kara and Angelique didn’t have the long range skills for the job right now.
Allyson was first up as overwatch. Garen and Angelique went to one position, while Kara and Bekka went to another. Just before they left to get into position, they had a quick powwow for the tactical changes to expect from Garen
“Alright, they may have gotten smart and scooped up some things to make our lives hard. Be on the lookout for covert use of night vision gear. If it shows up, sing out so we all know. Worst case, drop a couple of the IR strobes behind you. The random flashes will shut down their goggles constantly to make it hard for them to use. They also may have grabbed some vests. Aim for the soft spots. Just below the belt line, arm pits, neck, and the face and head if necessary. The cat is out of the bag that people are shooting at them, but still with 22s. We can get by with this a little while longer, I think. Soon, we will have to bump it up. As soon as we drop those guys at the motor pool, we take out the cars. I’m thinking it’s time for a couple of the jars of fire.” Then Bekka chimed in.
“The other thing that might happen is the motor pool might be bait for a trap. Everybody” she swiveled around to make sure everyone was paying attention to her “Everybody needs to be cautious today. They are out to stomp this little rebellion flat. They are thinking kids are doing this. We don’t want to spoil their illusion too early. Everybody take a quick look at Angelique’s handy work on the stage and how the room is prepped. If we have to use it to break contact, I don’t want you surprised by things with the bad guys at your heels. Allyson, you have the camera feeds going to the laptops, keep us up to date on anything you see we need to know about.”
The room was quiet for a few moments then Garen broke the silence.
“Everybody keep safe. If it doesn’t look right or feel right, just walk away. We make them fight on our terms, we don’t fight on their timetable. Stay focused on the goal, which is to come back in one piece.”
There was a last minute gear check before they moved towards this night’s work.
“All teams freeze!” Allyson’s voice came over the radio. Both teams had just gotten in position to hit the vehicle yard and were preparing to open fire when she called.
“Akbar, Hathcock times two. Acknowledge.” This was answered by a pair of static breaks over the radio. They were following their comm plan and transmitting as little as possible. They had planned for this. It was a trap, and they had at least two snipers waiting in ambush for them. This also meant that the bad guys probably had some form of armor on. They didn’t look to be fully uparmored so it was probably police style vests, designed for pistol rounds and thin enough to fit under lighter clothing.
Bekka and Garen were the designated shooters for the potential snipers. They had the most accurate of the 22s and had the most time behind them. Kara and Angelique were lining up on the six guys by the trucks. They were to shoot for the hips or the face, both of which would be outside of normal concealed armor coverage.
Garen was the first to find one of the snipers. “Set”
A moment later, Bekka was on target with hers. “Set”
The positions were high in the buildings where most people wouldn’t think a 22 would reach. It wasn’t they couldn’t reach, it was most wouldn’t try. Bekka and Garen had spent hours at a time playing on their land with these two rifles. They were able to consistently hit at 300’. The round is capable of inside of 5” groups out to three hundred yards. Granted, there wasn’t a lot of energy left at that distance, but snipers wouldn’t necessarily be focused if they were taking rounds themselves. With a flight time of over a second, multiple rounds will be in the air before the first even land. The hope was to once again injure and enrage.
After the second set, Allyson counted to two, then said over the radio “pickle”
Both primary shooters whipped off the six rounds in their rifles as quickly as they could cycle the toggle bolt and get back on target. As soon as the sixth round was in the air, each told the other shooter with them that they were doing a reload. This was the signal for Kara and Angelique to dump their thirty round magazines into the six guys at the cars. They split it up. Kara was going right to left and Angelique was going left to right. Kara was trying to put five rounds into the face of all six while Angelique was taking the blow the belt shots.
Allyson was watching the action on the screen. It was like some of the drone footage she had seen. She could see the effects at about the same time the two snipers started dancing around like they were attacked by angry bees. One of their rifles fell off the platform. And both of them were having nothing to do with looking for the shooters.
The six at the vehicles were collapsing, screaming and writhing around. Garen and Angelique were in the position closest to the vehicles and pulled the second attack. They used the water balloon slingshot to launch a couple of Bekka’s concoction; a chlorine puck taped to the bottom of a glass jar filled with a flammable petroleum mixture which when combined burst into flame with noxious fumes to boot. They volleyed three of these into the vehicles, starting a good amount of flame and chaos.
The next part was more dangerous. Garen and Angelique had to get out of where they launched from. The route they were running went right past a good clear opening in front of Bekka and Kara. In essence, Garen and Angelique were the bait for a linear ambush by Bekka and Kara. Great for those initiating the ambush, sometimes bad for the bait.
Four guys burst out of the building, giving chase to the running figure while three more went to the casualties at the fire. Evidently they had bigger plans than just the snipers.
Allyson was back on the air with a sitrep.
“Runners have tails. Recovery crews at the fire. At the forge, ready to assist.” Allyson was still in her little fully enclosed bubble on the boardroom table in the department store. They had moved it close enough for her to have a decent field of view for her rifle to reach out down the alley across the way where the teams were working. She could see the screens and follow the action, but was ready to send out rounds if needed.
The four chasing Garen and Angelique were closing in they thought. As they drew even with Bekka and Kara, both opened up with the 22 carbines. Each got fifteen rounds sent their way. Most hit due to the close range. Kara darted out to where they were on the ground. She dumped several rounds into each of their heads and scooped up their AKs. She left a present before she started down the alley. Bekka was right behind her, having dumped thirty rounds of 22 mag at the three trying to help the first six. Bekka looked at the present Kara left behind and laughed out loud as she tried jogging to the alley to join Kara. Kara had left a note on one of them, pinned there with a junk knife they had picked up somewhere. The note read:
The four shooters joined up a couple blocks over and regrouped. Garen noted Bekka was moving a little slower than he thought she should. This helped color his next suggestions.
“Alright guys, everybody good?” Garen got nods all around. “OK, they just took a good sized hit. When they venture out, they will find all the ‘high school drama’ stuff we left in the shooting holes. They will be cautious however. I think they might be hurt enough or pissed enough to call in their extra bodies from the forest camp. What do you guys think?” He looked around the circle.
Angelique was the first to speak. “I don’t know, but they should be feeling something by now.”
Kara was next. “They thought they had a good trap, and it not only failed, it hurt them in the doing. Now they will either try to be smarter, or they are going to lash out. I don’t know which, but we should avoid being a target for them to lash at.”
Allyson came over the headsets next. Garen had included her in the discussion over the radio. “Looking from here, between last night and this night, they should have lost in either killed or injured between 15 and twenty bodies. That’s a lot for them to soak up. If the count was accurate, we should have them down somewhere between a third to a half of their bodies. If I was the boss, I’d bring as much as I could to bear and smoke out the problem right away before I became completely ineffective.”
Bekka was nodding as they all spoke. She was still hurting from the effects of the ribs. She was trying to not show it, but she knew Garen knew. She was the next to speak. “We have hurt them pretty bad, but now they are a pissed off bunch of people. We need to accelerate the process. If we don’t, they may decide it’s just not profitable to stick around and they leave.”
Allyson was confused and spoke up. “I thought that was what we wanted? They leave and all is good, right?”
Bekka’s voice was soft and sad. “The problem would be they would feel the need to kill all the witnesses. There are still people in the stadium blissfully ignorant of the subterfuge and horror surrounding them. These guys might feel they cannot allow them to live when they leave. No witnesses. That was probably the plan in the first place. A little Jim Jones beverages after they feel they had gotten all the ‘marketable products’ they had come for. I don’t think these guys were going to set up a base for long term operations. There has been no other activity towards that end. Nothing on the waterfront, no presence at the airport, they were just here to loot for their own preferred commodity.”
Garen picked up where she left off. “No one has fought back like this before, probably. We need to keep them off balance and keep hacking them down. If we don’t put an end to this, the rest of the people of the city, or what’s left of them are done for, and they might then either just move on down the coast and strip the people out of the next town and the next and the next. They will get stronger and stronger, then maybe come back again to find the leftovers and the holdouts.” Everyone was quiet for a few moments. Garen began again.
“Let’s shift crews and work the next hit. Kara, you and Angelique have the youngest legs for a run. My idea is to have you two move down a few blocks to the choke point we found for their route into the city from the forest. Take two of the AKs we just got and all the mags we scooped up for them. Hit the vehicles as they come in. the goal is for them to vanish. The wished for reinforcements that were called for never arrive. If they never hear of them being hit, they just fall off the planet, would be best. If one or two make it through, oh well. Use the AKs so if they get through, there’s a tie in to the ones we took. Kara’s recon only found no more than two or three vehicles at a time out there so it shouldn’t be a big convoy coming in. More than one vehicle, hit the rear one and vanish unless you can pull off the ambush just right. Make sure your bail out bags are tight and get out as soon as you can. Worst case rally point for anybody cut away from the herd or unable to get back here or we are overrun will be the Center. Allyson, you have been on the long gun for quite some time tonight. When we get upstairs, I figure you can rack out, I will rack out and Bekka, you assume overwatch for the last of tonight’s op? Then Allyson and I will be fresh to do the first morning hit. What do you guys think?”
Bekka went through it in her mind, trying to find flaws. Finally she realized they were looking at her.
“OK, this can work. This will have to be a mid-morning or later hit though because if you and Allyson are the team, that puts me back on long gun. This also means as soon as you guys get done with the morning hit, you hit the rack because Garen,” she nods at him, “will be back on long gun overwatch. Ramping up the effort will only work if we can keep the rest/work cycles in check. They are going to try and trap us, track us and kill us. If it smells like a trap. It is a trap. We have to be careful.” She seemed to run out of steam and stopped.
The crew moved out towards the theater, anxious to get some food and move into the next phase of their operations. The clock was ticking.
I hate that Garen felt the need to shuffle some things around to not have me doing a run and gun right now. I hate even more that he was right to do so. If I had needed to really run when Kara and I were leaving the shooting site, I don’t know how long or how fast I would have been able to go. I know the answer would be as far and as fast as I could, but Kara would have felt the need to be there with me if I couldn’t. My injuries could have cost her and I our lives. I can do a lot still but broken ribs are still broken ribs.
He saw and knew I was hurting and didn’t want to call me out on it. He also knew after our earlier confrontation that I will not be benched and will let him know where the line is. He also knows I am too stubborn to listen to my body sometimes. I just want to get this done soon. I need, no, WE need to get back to our little hillside and prep for winter. It can be cold and miserable. It will be doubly so this winter.
I want to get this over soon for Angelique and Allyson as well. This is their first rodeo of violence. The sooner it’s over with, the sooner we can work on the putting it into perspective stage. They have been forever changed by this whole event, along with their entire world. For the rest of us, in some ways it was like coming home. We can help them adjust, if they are willing and receptive. The longer this fight goes, however, the harder it will be to defuse some of the damage being done. Losing them to the demons is not an option.
We have to work hard, fast and accurate. If we screw any of it up short cutting, not all of us will make it through.
We trust you will make the entire book available to your appreciative fans at some future date--if you can find a way to avoid some of the terrible perils and frustrations of authorship. This deserves to be found and savored by a wider audience.
This is an important entry into the "body of PAW" works--it informs, it educates, it moves its readers to highs and lows and serious reflection.