Chaos Calls 02: First Rescue
Copyright© 2011 by Ernest Bywater
On the way to the farm where the two Damsels are being held we check out the other two sites, just because we have to pass them. We take care to move through the forest while well back from the road. At the trap farm nearest the valley we find three people are camped near to the farm while watching it. I smile on getting a good look at their leader, especially the ring on his left hand. We watch them for a full day.
Just before dawn the next morning I sneak into their camp to sit by the fire. I take care to move only when the one on guard is checking the other directions, and to be very slow in my movements. When the dawn filters through the forest canopy the guard puts more wood on the small fire in preparation for cooking their breakfast. The extra glow and the dawn allows him to see a bit more of the camp area. From the corner of his eye he spots me sitting there with my legs crossed and my hands in my lap. Startled, the guard says, “F•©king hell. How’d you get there?” That’s without his heavy accent, which I can’t copy into text for you.
His two companions come up out of their blankets with weapons in hand. Seeing no immediate threat they sheath their weapons, and stare at me. I smile at them, and say, “No need to be alarmed, Hero. We’ve similar duties.” Their leader glances at my hands. “The Brotherhood are killing everyone they see with a sapphire ring, so I keep mine on a toe. I gather you weren’t told before you left Crossroads.” I get a stare with a head shake no in reply. There’s over a thousand Brotherhood soldiers in the forest around here, part of a major trap zone set up to kill Heroes.”
“My Caretaker briefed me on extra troops in the area. But didn’t mention that many.” Well, that’s how I translate the sounds he makes.
“When you get back have her ask Mac to let her speak with Merry, she’s my Caretaker.” Noticing his glance at my face I say, “Don’t make the mistake of confusing youthful looks with ability. I use that on my enemies all of the time.” He grins. Hooking a thumb over my shoulder I add, “I’ve got some people setting up a base back that way, a bit. I’m off to hit the trap farm closest to the edge of the Brotherhood’s zone. If you can wait until I’m coming back through we can travel to safety together, after you make your rescue. Also, I’ll be happy to loan you a few of my people to help you with the rescue.” I raise my hand to make a signal, which gets a stunned look from the other Hero. The other two are startled when the bushes around the camp sprout armed people. I’ve one team out on picket duty, leaving sixteen to cover my back.
“Your troops are good. You special forces, I know those signs from working with them before.”
“I know the signs from training with my personal security forces at home, they’re all retired US Marines and US Special Forces. My Dad’s Aussie SAS, retired. I’d guess you’re from Northern Scotland and SAS or ex-SAS!” The man nods. “I’m Al Adams, I live in Frederick, Maryland, USA, at the moment. Feel free to give me a call, or look me up, when you can. I’ll be a few weeks getting to my target and getting my ladies out. If you can hold off until then I’m sure some of my local helpers will be glad to watch your back for you when you make your rescue. I can’t help you, but they’re not so restricted. Then we can travel together to a safe bank. I’m going to Junction before Crossroads, but you can cut out anywhere along the way.”
“Sounds good to me. See you then.” I nod yes, and stand up. Turning, I walk back into the forest, and move to where our ponies are.
Another week to the target farm, with one day spent checking the situation at the one between. We set up camp between the farm and one of the largest of the camps of the extra troops; it’s the last place they’d expect us to be. Leaving Jaycee in charge I move through the tree tops to set up an observation post near the top of a tree close to the farm.
We take turns watching the movements at the farm for four days. As well as the Damsels they’ve a camp of detainees just inside the forest where they stick anyone they find trying to leave the area. I’d planned a hit and git, but I now want those detainees out of there too.
The day we arrive a patrol of a hundred men ride out, it returns in the late afternoon of the third day. If that’s their schedule we should hit them just after a patrol has left. The returned patrol will be flaked out for most of the next morning. We continue to watch, and plan.
They’ve guards keeping watch twenty-four hours a day, every day, from inside every building. There are guards on the ground with more in the lofts of the barns. At night the loft has one guard who does the shift from after the evening meal until breakfast the next morning, which is just on dawn. There’s another guard in the barn at the ground level as well. The guard changeover routine is very slack, nor does the officer of the guard check his men. They don’t check them during the shift, either. A guard could fall asleep, and only his relief would know about it. They send wagons to collect supplies from a nearby town the day before a patrol leaves. One interesting aspect is the interactions between the guards indicates they don’t know each other, they seem to be a mix of units, but not assigned to specific duties along unit lines; not a good way to do things. It’s very unprofessional, but typical of what we’ve seen of the Brotherhood, so far. They seem like a bunch of kids playing at being soldiers.
After some days of observation we work out a plan. We get set to make the rescue, starting that night.
A couple of hours before sunrise I wake, and go through the treetops to get as close as I can to the largest barn. This one has three levels with a guard in the loft and one on the ground floor: That puts a full level between the two. After finding a suitable tree with a branch suitably higher than the open loft door I climb up to the branch, and set my cape for gliding. I run along the branch as far as I can, and launch myself at the building. It takes only seconds for me to glide across the ten metres between the tree on the edge of the forest and the loft door.
The guard is sitting on a chair close to my left side of the doorway. He’s looking down, watching the ground near the forest tree line and the fence a few metres this side of the trees. He doesn’t see me until I’m on top of him. His head comes up, reacting to the dark shape moving at the edge of his vision. He has no time to yell before the knife in my left hand slashes across his throat. I’m so low I’m unable to pull my legs up to land on my feet, so I settle for gliding in a bit further to slide along the hay lying on the floor. Ouch, no damage, but a rough landing.
Getting up I move to the guard, and strip him. Dragging him into the far corner of the barn I hide his body behind some old tools and things stored up here. Several minutes later I’m wearing his uniform over my gear, and I’m doing his job for the rest of this shift, after spreading a lot of hay about to hide the blood spilled when I killed him and he fell over.
When dawn is breaking my relief arrives, and I hand over the post. A quick trip down the ladders, and off to the kitchen for a simple meal of porridge and bread with a mug of watered wine. All of the night guards are sitting down eating, and none question my right to do the same. That confirms my thoughts about the guards being of mixed units, and not knowing each other. It’s very simple for me to break off after the meal, and to go to the main house. No one challenges my right to do so.
We already know, from our observations, the Damsels are being kept in a room on the top floor of the main house. Inside the main house is the first spot where I see any movement control security other than the perimeter defences. They’ve people at the top of the stairs checking those going to the next two levels. I soon leave the building.
I spot a group of soldiers supervising some detainees taking food to their camp for their meals today. I join the group to get details on the security at the camp, and in between. On our return trip the officer in charge resets traps for anyone on the trail. The uniform is enough to keep you safe, once you can get into the compound.
A visit to the shower area and my uniform is a lot cleaner, so am I. I’m worried about being spotted, due to not having work to do. So a trip to the kitchen to do some KP (kitchen patrol) is my next task, the last place they expect someone to hide out is on a punishment detail. The next two hours are spent preparing vegetables for both the midday meal and the evening meal. The food for the troops is done by a different set of cooks to the food for those at the house. The cooks and house staff have their own set of meals as well. The troops get a watery stew while the others get something a lot more substantial. Assured anything I do to the food won’t harm anyone other than the troops I take an opportunity to pour concentrated magnesium hydroxide (a laxative) into the stew being made for both of today’s major meals for the troops. That should keep their minds on other matters. Merry got it for me after I thought to ask for it: it’s a common medicine and not a weapon, so there’s no issues. When the next punishment detail arrives, and we’re dismissed, I leave with them. At this point I find a nice spot to hide to take a nap for a few hours.
I wake up just before dusk, due to the sounds of the returning patrol riding in. I smile when I see so many troops moving to and from the latrine. Keeping out of their way I go to the side of the main building, and move under the front porch. This building has three levels with the middle one having a verandah you can walk out on, it makes a covered porch for the ground level.
Under the porch, hidden in the shadows cast by the setting sun, I climb the corner of the building by using my high tech non-metal claws. In a moment I’m just under the verandah, and listening to two officers talking above me. A moment later they turn, and go inside when called for their meal. I move out, and continue up the corner of the building in the dark of the new night. I’m soon beside the roof cavity air vent, and prying the cover off. After another minute or so I’m inside the building.
Just after I climb through the vent I find a baffle, followed by three more. The area is brighter after each one. Stopping to examine them I realise they’re intended to stop any light from showing out through the vent. Once past the fourth baffle I can see light coming up through the ceiling of the floor below, enough to see the length of the building. It’s a dim light, but more than enough to see what you’re doing. There’s a set of boards down the middle of the building with other sets about halfway in from each side, cross boards in the middle of each room connect the rows. Someone set this up to spy on those below. I wonder who, and why.
Moving to the first room on the right I take care when I lie down on the boards to look through the small holes. None of the holes are large, nor can I see much from any one hole, but the overall effect of looking through a group of holes is a good view of the room, and what’s going on in it. I quietly move along the planks checking what’s in the rooms. The first six of the front rooms are bedrooms for officers, the clothes they leave lying around make that clear. They’ve doors to allow access to the hall, while the middle of each group of three also has doors to give access to the room on each side. The seventh room is the width of the building with a partitioned bed area, it’s the room of who’s in charge. The rooms along the back of the house are the same as the front ones. The first three are officers’ bedrooms while the three near the master bedroom have the hall doors barred, and three soldiers in them. Two of them have three women in them too. The room nearest the master bedroom has a door to the master bedroom, and houses three good looking locals in their late teens or early twenties. The third along has three Cassandra women in it, they’ve a subtle difference in looks. While moving along the boards I see each room has an odd shaped section with a handle in the middle of it that’s located in the corner of the room nearest the hall and the main bedroom. It takes me a little while to realise they must be access panels of some sort, because below them is the room’s built-in cupboard.
After checking everything out I settle down on the boards over the master bedroom, getting comfortable while I tie myself into a position, because it wouldn’t do to roll through the ceiling during the night. My plans call for action tomorrow, not tonight.
The next morning I’m woken by the bustle of the patrol preparing. I sneak through the baffles to look out the vent on the side nearest the latrine, and smile at the heavy business it still has. The dose I put in the food yesterday should be worn off by now, or almost worn off. But it should leave almost all of them exhausted and tired with their systems low from the frequent bowel movements, a mild dehydration, and tired through lack of sleep. Their responses should be off and slow, which is the aim of drugging them with a laxative. I snack on the dry food I’ve got while I wait for the patrol to get well away, they leave just after breakfast. While I wait I watch what goes on in the office / bedroom below me. There’s not much happening, only the officer handling some paperwork.
Mid-morning an officer and three men enter the commander’s office. The middle man has his hands tied. They sit him in a chair, and tie him to it. The captain explains to the Colonel the man is a spy, but he has a patrol to finish so he’s leaving the man with the Colonel to deal with. I smile, because I recognise the tied-up man. Last time I saw him he was in command of a Special Forces combat strike team, but he wasn’t with the team when I saw them in Japan. The Captain leaves, but the two troops stay, at the order of the Colonel.
After the Captain’s departure the Colonel speaks to the soldiers, and it’s soon clear all four are from Earth: two soldiers and a clansman as the officer. Shit, now the Ku Klux Klan are in on this with the Aryan Brotherhood. I don’t like this. They talk to the prisoner for a while, then take turns getting their lunches, one at a time.
Before lunch the Colonel lights the fire in the office fireplace, and puts some sharp steel rods in it. It’s clear what he intends the after lunch entertainment to be. While they move about I make ready too. The biggest danger to my mission is the trio in the main bedroom below, so they must go first. This also has the bonus of saving the prisoner. I wait near the hatch to that part of the room, since this room has two hatches. My triple crossbow is in one hand, and the other is on the hatch handle.
They do what I’m waiting for. The colonel goes to the fireplace to get a hot rod for his torture, his back is to the room. One of the soldiers has a hold of the prisoner to make sure he stays in his chair, and the third is leaning against the wall. I won’t get a better chance than this, so I act.
Lifting the hatch I lean down so my head and right arm are through the hole. The crossbow comes on target, and I fire as the standing guard turns toward the motion. I target the other soldier, and fire when he looks up at the slight sound of the first bolt going on its way to target. The first bolt strikes the throat of the soldier as the Colonel turns, and says, “What’s that?” I fire at him when he speaks, and the second bolt pierces the forehead of the soldier holding the prisoner. The colonel is turning his head when the bolt enters his back just below his neck. All three are falling at the same time. The prisoner is stunned at the sudden change.
A quick turn, and I’m dropping onto the cupboard below the hatch. While I lower myself to the floor I wink at the prisoner while saying, “Semper Fi.” I know I’ve no right to say it, but it’s the best thing I can say to let him know all is well.
He smiles when he says a quiet, “Oorah.”
I lock the door, and cut the prisoner free. He rubs his wrists while I retrieve my bolts. I nod at the dead, “Strip ‘em and arm yourself, Gabar One.” That surprises him. “I hope you don’t mind my initial greeting, but I thought it’d make you feel at home. You know me as Smilodon.” He nods yes to my orders, smiles, and gets to work. I keep whispering while I reload my crossbow and check the room for valuables and information while he strips the dead. “All of the valuables and metals on the desk, please. I need the resources for other work here. I’ve still got my main mission to do, but you can help, because I’m in the rescue phase.”
He nods again, “I’m Gunnery Sergeant Michael Sanders. It’s good to be working with you again, although you did have me wondering what was happening with the Japanese and Russian that night.”
“Sorry about that. Once we got in the strike mission became a rescue mission, and we had to let some live. So I felt a little misdirection would help. This one is a mixed recovery mission.” He nods yes while he works.
Between the two of us it only takes a few minutes to give the split room a thorough check, and we have a nice collection of weapons on the desk, alongside two large saddlebags of local money and some maps.
“Gunny, the next room has three female prisoners and three guards, then a room of three guards, and a third room with three women and three guards. We have to take the guards without alerting the rest of the compound. I can get the guards from in the roof, but you’ll have to enter to strip them. I’ll go up and give you a sign, then give me twenty seconds to get set, OK?” He smiles, and nods yes, so I turn, and climb back into the roof, replacing the hatch once I’m in the roof again.
I tap the ceiling above Mike, and move to the next room. We time it well. I pop the hatch just as he opens the door. The guards turn to the door, giving me easy shots. All are falling before anyone except Mike knows what’s going on. He puts a finger to his lips to indicate for the women to keep quiet. One opens her mouth, and another users her shoulder to shove her onto the bed, hard, and says, “Gag her, she’s a spy.” Mike is quick to deal with her. After a moment’s work he’s handing me my bolts for the next room. I reload while he strips the dead.
The next room is even easier, the three soldiers are playing a dice game of some sort. So the two opposite me are dying before the third is aware there’s a problem. A check shows the last room is an issue, these three guards are the most alert I’ve seen. They’re probably a select team.
I go back to the room with Mike, and we’ve a talk. He returns to the first room to get a normal crossbow. I’ll take two, and he’ll take the third. The rest is an anti-climax, but it could have been very hairy for me. When I pop the hatch all three turn to it, and raise their crossbows. Then they all turn to the door when Mike enters. I get my first shot off before they think to look back. When they turn to the sound of my shot Mike fires while I fire my second shot. All three down, no troubles. If I’d tried to take all three myself the third would’ve got me. So I’m very happy Mike turned up when he did, almost as happy as he is about my appearance in his life today. He told me he doesn’t like being tortured. The Damsels are a bit surprised about two men rescuing them.
I drop into the room, approach one woman, and start setting her free while I say, “We’ll soon have you out of here, Lydia Councilwoman of Cassandra.” She smiles, and I turn to the woman Mike’s freeing. “I know you, too, Sandra Accountant of Cassandra, but not your friend.”
Lydia smiles, “That’s Alice Cleaner, they brought her in eight days ago. The day after they told us Hero Al was on his way to his death in an attempt to save us. They were surprised our rescue was given to a new Hero as his first rescue, so are we. But we’re glad you’re here.”
“Yes, the Brotherhood don’t realise I’m the Hallmark Hero.” Mike laughs while the ladies give us puzzled looks.
Mike says, “Hallmark is a greeting card company at home. Their slogan is ‘When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best.’ It implies there are none better.” The ladies smile when they get the joke.
I continue, “We still have a lot of danger to deal with. The area is saturated with enemy troops, but I’ve a good support team to help us. First, we must cleanse this compound and release the detainees. That will take a while, so you need to stay hidden in this building until we have the area cleared.” They nod yes, and I turn to Mike while untying Alice. “Gunny, we’ll clear this building and the guards to the front gate. My people will be watching the gate. They understand Special Forces hand sign, so we can call them in to get to work on the rest.” He smiles while he nods his agreement. I doubt he’s smiled so often on a mission before. He must love all these nice surprises.
We go back through the rooms stripping the dead of valuables and usable uniforms. We leave the female spy tied up. The women change into guard uniforms. Mike and I exit the Colonel’s office, and deal with the four guards in the hallway. We’re able to walk up to the first two to stab them in the throat while we shoot the other two with normal crossbows. Back to the room beside the Colonel’s office to check it, and kill a sleeping officer. Too many enemies to worry about prisoners. Several minutes later the top floor is ours with three more dead officers lying in their rooms. We stack all the plunder on the desk.