Chapter 04

Copyright© 2016 by Ernest Bywater

Second Gang Attack

On the first Wednesday in September Hard Ball is picking Pat up at school today. Erin and Gunny are in Eagle Pass and they don’t know how long their business will take them. Thus the change in routine. It has no real effect on Pat because all of the pickups look the same and they all know the place where he waits for them to collect him.

Hard Ball is a little delayed so Pat is looking around the area while waiting outside the school. He notices four people in a car parked on the other side of the road up to his right. Pat notices it because where the car is parked there’s only open land on either side of the road, but it does give them a good view of the school. He looks down to his left and he sees another car in a similar position on this side of the road. He wonders what it’s about. Pat turns to look up the road to his right since whoever is collecting him will come down the road to turn around in the entrance to the school car park then stop on the side of the road to pick him up. When the pickup comes down the road Pat sees you can’t tell who’s driving the truck due to the window tinting plus the hat and sunglasses they’re wearing. He can see the driver is wearing BDUs, but that’s all. He has no idea who’s at the wheel until they stop and he can see Hard Ball’s face when he turns to look at Pat while he gets in.

Normally Pat gets in the front seat, but today he opens the back door and he gets in while saying, “A couple of strange cars full of people are watching the school. Just drive away like normal. I’ll take a good look at them when we pass them.”

“Right, Pat. When we get down the road you may like to get some of the persuaders ready,” is Hard Ball’s reply. He watches the traffic as he pulls out behind a bus just after it leaves the school.

Pat is looking out the rear window. The car down there pulls out to drive up the road. He turns back to look out the side window before they reach the other car. He sees four early twenties men of Hispanic descent. One in the back seat is on the phone, but what worries Pat is he can see the neck of the driver while he’s turned to look down the road for traffic coming from behind him, he has a tattoo on his neck the same as the three Pat had the fight with in the diner a few weeks back.

Turning back to the front Pat reaches over to release the back of the seat beside him so he can reach behind it. Reaching into the space now open he gets out two bags to place them on the seat before pushing the seat back into its locked position. Pat waits until they turn right onto the highway before he gets down the M1.30 calibre carbine. He’s not sure how Hard Ball got this rifle as there are original and replica M1s around, but this is the only one Pat has seen with the thicker pad on the stock and in full camouflage colours with both the composite stock and the metal work, even the magazines. There’s a swing-away scope attached and a webbing sling under the rifle instead of on the side. Pat works the slide to put a round in the chamber, removes the magazine to replace the fifteen round magazine with a thirty round magazine from one of the bags. He places the carbine on the seat beside him then he puts a web harness with four more long magazines on top of it before slipping the short magazine into his pants pocket. Next is to lift the twelve gauge shotgun down from the gun-rack to put a round in the chamber of the Saiga 12, replace the round in the ten round magazine, reseat the magazine, place the gun on the seat, and put a harness with five more magazines on top of it. Like the other guns it’s in full camouflage colours with a webbing sling.

With the guns ready for use Pat starts getting the two of them ready by getting Hard Ball’s combat armour out from under the passenger seat. Pat leans over to drop it over Hard Ball when he leans forward. Pat leaves Hard Ball to adjust the armour and to finish strapping it down while he gets his own body armour out of the bag sitting at his feet. They move this bag from truck to truck as needed. After putting on his body armour Pat puts on the armoured arm and leg covers made for him, his combat harness goes over the top, next is two Bond Arms Defenders into their holsters, and last is his radio earpiece which he plugs into the unit on his belt before he puts his seatbelt on tight. He looks up. Hard Ball has his earpiece in as well and he’s telling Sarge about their situation.

They’re miles out of town but still passing a lot of farmland. Pat looks behind them and confirms both of the cars are still back there following them. He wonders what they’re up to. Whatever it is they’re up to the men in the cars are going to be surprised at the reception they get when they do make their move. But it worries Pat why they’re waiting. Hard Ball also expresses concern about their delay in taking action.

A few miles further on they reach what Gunny refers to as ‘The Pond Bend.’ Along here Eagle Pass Road runs between some large ranches and it used to be dead straight. Where it ran over a creek they built a dam to create a pond so now the road goes in a bend away from the dam for a few hundred feet and back to the road. The scrub here is much thicker than the rest of the roadside scrub due to the extra water in the area of the creek, so you can’t see the road past the middle of the bend.

Just after they start along the curve away from the straight line they see four cars pull out from the left side of the road to set up nose to tail across the road and the sides of the road. The cars had been out of view due to the scrub on the inside of the bend. Pat glances to the sides of the road and he can see some men moving up from deeper in the scrub in the ranch properties. Hard Ball says, “I’ll hit the cars hard, but I doubt I’ll be able to break through. Cut them down while you can.”

Pat lifts the shotgun up and he rests the end of the barrel on the door of the open rear passenger side window at the front of the space as he aims it a little forward. He slips the safety off, and when it looks like the nearest man on the right will be hit Pat fires, then he continues to pull the trigger to fire the shotgun until the magazine is empty.

The ambush is well set up: four men in the scrub on each side of the road with their pistols out and the four cars blocking the road with two men behind each car pointing their pistols at the approaching pickup truck. Now they need only wait for the truck to stop so they can grab the two prisoners they’re being paid to capture. The leader of the group is happy and proud of how his men have set this up and he sees it’s going well until the first boom of the shotgun causes his first man on the other side of the road to be thrown back into the scrub with a red chest. As the second shotgun blast goes off he realises the truck isn’t going to slow down and stop. Now he’s not so sure this capture of the woman and boy will be as easy as they all thought. He opens fire on the truck.

Hard Ball slams into the blocking cars just a little left of the middle, thus most of the pickup hits the front of the third car and a bit of the back of the second car. The cars are shoved back and the pickup pivots with the tail coming around to the right due to the way it hits the cars.

Just after Pat fires his third round the truck hits the cars. Because he’s belted in tight Pat doesn’t move much, but his arm and the shotgun bounce just as he triggers the fourth round. The first three men Pat shoots are hit in the chest with the birdshot and they fall back into the scrub to die due to no longer having working lungs. However, the jostling of the hit causes the shotgun to bounce up and the fourth blast takes off the man’s head in a spray of red mist. The truck pivots on the impact point so Pat’s shotgun’s point of aim now moves along the line of cars while he continues to pull the trigger. All of the attackers are firing their handguns at the pickup, so the sound of their fire and the noise of the bullets hitting the truck can be heard between the blasts of the shotgun.

The truck pushes the two hit cars back from their positions. The two men behind the second car scramble backwards while shooting at the pickup truck until they get caught by the line of Pat’s shotgun blasts removing all their interest in actions along with their chests after having done the same to the two men behind the first car. The initial hit on the second car doesn’t move it much, and when the pickup ends up hitting it on the side most of the energy is spent, so it isn’t pushed much further. The third car in line is another matter. The bulk of the energy from the hit by the pickup truck is transferred into the front of the third car so it’s violently shoved backwards. The two gunman at the car are knocked down. Unlike the pickup the cars don’t have an extra high ground clearance so when the car is pushed over the men they’re hit in the face by the side of the car just when they start to get up again. The violent hit breaks many face bones and it shoves bone shards into their brains.

Pat lets go of the shotgun when the eleventh round is fired. He feels the truck stop just as his left hand grabs the front of the M1 carbine so he hits the seatbelt release with his right hand before taking hold of the rear handgrip of the carbine. His hands tell him where the carbine is so he lifts it up while he looks all around him. The pickup has come to a halt at about a forty-five degree angle across the road with what’s left of the nose pointing to the left. He can see two men behind the fourth car with guns up and shooting at the front of the truck while another four men are in the scrub on the side of the road firing handguns at the pickup truck. Pat can hear the bullets hitting the truck and even glass breaking, but no bullets come close to him.

After a slight movement of the carbine Pat has the barrel on the side of the door while aimed at the nearest of the gunmen. He fires, shifts to the next man, fires, shifts, fires, and he continues until all six in his view are down with a bullet in their chest. Pat gets out of the seatbelt, opens the door, grabs the harness with the extra magazines, rolls out of the truck to take a kneeling firing position beside the truck, he shuts the door behind him, takes aim at the two cars bearing down on the scene, and he readies to open fire on them. While he waits to see what they’ll do he wonders if they can see him. His BDUs are the same colour as the truck so they’ll have a hard time telling him apart from the truck, especially when he’s so much smaller than an adult and they’ll be expecting an adult to be the only one to fight back. Pat is also very concerned about Hard Ball because he didn’t move after the truck came to a stop. However, that’s an issue for when the immediate danger is over.

The two cars stop about thirty feet away with one going to each side of the road. As soon as they stop three men get out of each car and all of them have a gun in their hand. When they start to walk toward the scene the two drivers get out of the cars. The man on the left of the group speaks to the others and raises his gun while it’s pointed at the pickup. That’s all Pat needs to know: they’re armed and pointing guns at him. He fires, shifts target right, fires, and continues to shift right while firing at the next target while they start to scatter at the same time as they fire their guns down the road. Pat wonders what they expect to do while firing without taking the time to aim, but it makes no difference to him. He picks them off one at a time while ignoring the bullets coming his way. He can hear some bullets hitting the cars but he has no idea where they’re hitting, let alone which car. Eight shots later Pat stops to evaluate the scene. Two dead to the left of the left hand car, one in front of the car, and one beside the driver’s door. Another beside the right hand car, one on the road in front of it, and two on the right-hand side of the road.

Pat stands, looks around, turns, looks at Hard Ball, grimaces at the sight of the bullet hole in his throat, turns, and goes to check on each of the attackers to make sure they’re dead. While moving from the truck he places a call on his belt radio to give Sarge an update of the events at the pickup.

When Pat finishes telling Sarge about the situation Pat is almost done checking the enemy dead. Following Sarge’s order Pat turns his radio off, switches his cell phone to use the earpiece, and punches the code for the Emergency Services. When they answer he says, “Sheriff’s Department, please,” and he’s put through. He gives the Sheriff’s radio operator his location then he says, “Multiple armed attackers and there’s over twenty dead.” At first the operator doesn’t want to believe him, so she asks a few questions to confirm he’s the registered owner of the phone he’s using, then she puts a call in for the nearest deputy to attend the scene and she also places a radio call for the Sheriff to attend as well.

The operator tells Pat, “You’ll have to wait at the scene. A deputy is about fifteen minutes away.”

Pat makes a half grunt and half snort sound before saying, “It’s too far to walk home so I’ve got no choice about waiting.” He hangs up. A moment later he’s back beside the pickup and removing both the guns Hard Ball has on him as well as his body armour. Pat removes all but one round from the normal magazine for the M1 carbine and he swaps the magazines over before removing the swing-away scope. He puts the carbine on his shoulder, picks up the web harnesses of spare magazines, slings them over his other shoulder, reaches in to get his combat bag, and walks around the cars to stand on the other side of the ambush site. He starts taking off his extra protection to put it back in the bag. It’s only then he sees one of the arm guards has a mark on it to show a bullet had skipped off it, and he wonders how come he never felt it at the time, he shrugs and continues to take his armour off.

A few minutes after Pat finishes taking his armour off Sarge pulls up in his pickup, followed by Bubba in his. All of the hardware except the carbine and shotgun is put in Bubba’s truck and he leaves to get it out of there before the authorities arrive. Sarge turns his truck around then he walks around to sit on the tailgate with Pat to talk over the shooting while they wait for the Sheriff and his deputies to arrive. After going through everything with Sarge it’s a lot clearer in Pat’s mind so he gets his school-bag out of Hard Ball’s pickup, gets out an exercise book, and he starts to write it all down. When he’s finished he writes another copy. He signs both and Sarge signs both as witnessing Pat’s signatures.

Twenty minutes after calling emergency services the first deputy is on the scene. He walks around it slowly shaking his head while often looking over to where Pat and Sarge are sitting. The deputy speaks into his radio for a long time then he walks around to join the two sitting on the tailgate. The deputy says, “Sarge, Pat, the Sheriff will be here soon and he’ll take your statement. It’s a damn shame about Hard Ball, but I’m glad the scum who killed him died as well.”

Both Pat and Sarge know this deputy from the diner incident, and Pat says, “So am I, Billy, so am I! The tattoos on those scum look to be the same as the ones from the diner. Are they?”

Billy turns to Pat as he replies, “Looks like it to me. But I’ll leave that to the experts to declare.” Pat and Sarge nod their agreement. They all sit and chat about other things while they wait, because there’s nothing they can actually do right now except to stop people from interfering with the evidence at the scene.

Several minutes later the Sheriff turns up with the crime scene team following him. When they get out of their cars the Sheriff says, “I know we don’t get a lot of traffic along here, but clear up one side so I can let what does come along through.” The team leader waves a hand to acknowledge the order while she continues giving her own orders to her team. The Sheriff walks around the blockage to join the three at the pickup, and says, “Right, Pat, tell me about it!” Pat grimaces before he tells him the full story and hands over the written statement. The Sheriff nods, hands the report over to Billy, and says, “There’s half of the report. You best check the cars to see if they’ll drive, then order tows to get those that won’t drive out of here. Make sure you have drivers for the rest.” Billy nods yes, stands, and moves off to talk to the crime scene team leader before calling in for three trucks and extra drivers for the vehicles.

After a moment the Sheriff says, “Sarge, I’m told this gang is linked to Santiago. They’re not big, but are vicious. He won’t like losing so many of them. He seems to not like your people. Do you know why?”

Sarge sighs then says, “I think it goes back to the drug shipment he didn’t get smuggled through our ranch. He lost a lot then, and the only one who was identifiable by him was Erin, until the diner incident.”

“So you think they were after payback on Erin at the diner and now Pat for what happened then?”

“Yes, Sheriff, I do! Erin is the one who usually collects Pat at school. All of our trucks are the same and you can’t identify the driver until you get right up to it. I’d bet they thought Erin was driving today and had planned to take out both Pat and Erin. I’d prefer you don’t let people know it was Pat who took them down with Hard Ball’s guns.”

The Sheriff nods yes and says, “They had thirty-eight in the gang when they set up in Eagle Pass. With three dead at the diner and the twenty-four dead here there’s only eleven left. None of them will be happy about what happened here today because most of them are related to the rest.” He sees Pat is very tired, probably the let down after the combat adrenalin rush, so he adds, “I’ve got all we need from you, Pat. Why don’t you get in the truck, lay the seat back, and take a nap. I can’t let you go until the crime scene team are happy there’s nothing else to ask you about.” Pat nods yes, then he does as suggested.

Twenty minutes later the bodies on the right-hand side of the road are put into body-bags and moved out of the way, along with the right hand cars. There’s been no other traffic yet, but there’s now room for it to go around as long as it’s not a tractor-trailer rig. As soon as they finish with a body it’s bagged, tagged, and put on the side of the road. The cars are also moved to the side of the road after they’re processed.

Ninety minutes after the Sheriff’s arrival he gets a nod from the leader of the team collecting evidence. He stands and says, “Sarge, get out of here and take your young warrior home.” Sarge nods yes, stands, closes the tailgate, gets in the driver’s seat, and goes home. The Sheriff looks up to see four of the cars being driven off by deputies while three tow trucks are loading up the damaged vehicles and a group are loading the dead in the back of a van. Ten minutes later the last of the others are driving down the road while the Sheriff looks over the scene, and he snorts when he realises there’s no visible evidence of all the death here, just some marks in the dirt where the cars drove off the road. He slowly shakes his head in wonder at how Pat did so well to defend himself by killing his armed attackers. The Sheriff sighs, gets in his truck, and he goes home.


Since it was clear Gunny and Erin couldn’t get there in time to be of any use they were told to finish what they were doing in Eagle Pass. On getting home Pat takes a nap, thus it’s not until after dinner he’s able to sit down with everyone to talk about the attack.

Everyone recognises he’s affected by the event, but not as affected as he was by the shootings to save Erin or the river battle. Following those events he learned how to deal with death, both the death of a friend and with the death of people who attack him. Thus he’s able to handle this event better so he doesn’t need as much intervention support as before. However, they all do give him support because he does still need some.

The discussions move from the attack to who’s behind it and how to deal with further attacks or to stop them from happening. After much talk they decide the only way to stop this is to close down the source: to eliminate Señor Santiago. None are happy with the idea, but they all realise it’s the only way to stop the attacks and the deaths of friends.

Tomorrow Gunny and Sarge will visit across the border to look at the hacienda of Señor Santiago while Erin and Bubba will take Pat to school then check out the house the rest of the gang are living at. The other task Bubba has to do tomorrow is to organise his half-brother’s funeral once he gets a date the coroner says he can have the body.


Pat is a little subdued at school the next day due to the events. Last night’s local news mentioned the attack on the road along with the deaths of twenty-five people, but they didn’t mention Pat being in it due to him being a juvenile. Although many people in the area know Hard Ball only a few know he lives on the same ranch as Pat, so none of the students at the school link Pat with the attack. However, some of the staff know of the link and they watch Pat to see how he’s handling the death of a close associate without knowing Pat was at the scene of the attack. The school staff note Pat isn’t as involved in class as usual, so they accept his attitude as him being sad at the death of a close friend.

Bubba is told Hard Ball’s body will be released on Friday so he goes to the funeral parlour to organise the funeral for Saturday week and he also contacts the VFW Post about their involvement in the funeral. After a little shopping with an early lunch Bubba and Erin stop by the house they’re told the gang lives in. After driving by they stop down the road to give it a good examination. They soon notice several men in the backyard of the house talking and drinking while sitting around on cars and chairs. From their actions it’s clear the young men are angry about something. After a few minutes Erin drives away while Bubba keeps an eye on the house. When they find a spot where Bubba has a very good view of the backyard through the yard of another house they stop and back up until they have the best view of the young men they can get from there.

About fifteen minutes later the young men get up and move to their cars. They drive the other way so Erin turns around and follows them from well back. Several minutes later the men park in the car park of a fast food store, get out, and enter the store. Erin drives into an empty block of land beside the store and parks beside another vehicle parked there. A few minutes later the young men walk out of the store with bags of food, go to their cars, get some beers out of a cooler in the back of a pickup truck one is driving, and they lean on their cars while they eat and drink. They soon finish the food, but they stay there drinking beer.

Several minutes later two Sheriff’s Deputies drive into the car park in two cars. They get out and walk over to the young men. The talk is getting a little heated when Erin says, “I’ll be back in a moment. I need to have a piss.” Bubba smiles at her earthy language which is typical of her, and he nods in reply. Erin gets out of the truck and walks toward the fast food store because it’s the nearest place with a toilet she can use.

One of the young men sees her walking through the car park, shouts out, “There’s the bitch,” and draws a gun from under his coat. Hearing the shout has Erin turning to see what’s happening as Bubba gets out of the truck in response to the shout. Both of them see the man who shouted bring up a gun at the same time as the two deputies see him produce a gun, so all four of them go for their guns. Seeing them go for guns has the rest of the men reaching for their handguns.

Erin can see the man with the gun is looking at her while he turns a bit to his left to aim at her, so she throws herself backwards to his right while she draws her own pistol. The man fires just as she hits the ground. His bullet misses her and she has no idea where it goes. Erin aims and fires, hitting him in the chest. There’s a flurry of shots, three more of the men go down and both deputies go down as well. Erin shifts aim and fires again, hitting one more of the young men just before another flurry of shots sound off and she hears some bullets hit the ground near her. She shifts aim and fires again. The shot sounds a lot louder and longer than normal due to the others shooting at the same time. The last of the young men are all hit and one is hit so hard he’s thrown over the boot of the sedan beside him, later the coroner finds three bullets in him.

Erin quickly gets up, puts her gun away, and shouts out, “Bubba, get my kits out of the truck,” while she races to where the deputies are. One of the deputies is bitching abut his ribs: he has two bullets in his vest. The other is bleeding from his left leg and he has a bullet in his vest. Erin gets a field dressing out of the kit she has on her belt and applies it to the wound while shouting, “Forget the med kits, Bubba! Get an ambulance for the deputy.”

Bubba swears while he turns around and takes the two kits the three steps back to the truck. He puts them on the back seat, gets out his phone, and he calls emergency services. When they answer he gives them the location before asking for an ambulance for a shot deputy as well as for the Sheriff to attend the scene.

The other deputy slowly sits up and says, “You’ve got to learn to duck better, Billy!”

Billy groans and says, “I got hit in the thigh, how the hell do you duck below that, Pete?”

Erin grins as she says, “When you know they’re that low you jump up to let them go under you.” Both deputies laugh at the picture of people jumping up and down during a shooting. Erin adds, “Both of you got hit at close range. The vests saved your lives, but you probably have a broken rib or two. So be careful moving about until they x-ray you.” Both of the deputies nod agreement with her instructions.

Billy says, “Bloody Corpsmen, always telling you what to do!”

Erin laughs as she says, “That’s because Jarheads are too dumb to get out of the rain without being told to. Hell, they have to be told when to eat and how to chew.” Pete laughs at their conversation. After tying the bandage tight Erin gets up and she goes inside the store to use the toilet.

The ambulance soon arrives. The paramedics check the wounded and take them to the hospital to be checked and treated by the doctors.

The Sheriff turns up just behind the crime scene team. He sits in on the interviews with Erin and Bubba while letting the investigating deputy handle the interviews. When the deputy moves off to interview a few witnesses the Sheriff says, “Well, it looks like this gang won’t be up to attacking anyone else. Why were you here?”

Erin glances over at Bubba, turns to the Sheriff, and says, “We came into town to do a few business things. When that was over we went by the house where the gang lives to see what they were up to. When they loaded up we followed. They came here. We parked over there to watch them. We were after information about their activities. However, when I had to go to the toilet they saw me and went to shoot me. Then all hell broke loose and everyone was shooting. We weren’t after them.”

“OK. I believe you, mainly because Sarge isn’t here as well.”

Bubba laughs and says, “If we’d been after them it’s Pat you need to watch for, not Sarge. Pat is really pissed at them while Sarge is just a bit annoyed with them.” The Sheriff glares at Bubba, sighs again, stands, and goes off to talk with his deputies. All three know he’s not going to do anything more about this, mainly because there’s nothing more to do or can be done about it. When the Sheriff is far enough away Bubba says, “It’s not what we came to do, but I’m glad it’s done.” Erin nods yes in reply, because she agrees with him.

In the afternoon they tell Pat about the shooting when they pick him up. He simply smiles in response. Sarge and Gunny give the same response when they’re told about the incident.

Report Talks

After the meal they all gather to hear the report on Santiago while they look at the photos of his hacienda. Although they call it a hacienda the place is more like a compound. The bulk of the property is still a working ranch and farmland with many of the workers living in small houses near to where they work. However, the main compound is in three sections with an eight foot high wire fence around the whole compound. A section with warehouses and vehicles also has an eight foot high fence around it while the main house and the small section of worker housing have only a three foot adobe wall between them.

While pointing at the relevant items in the photos Sarge says, “You can see they have lookout towers on all of the outer perimeter fences but they’re only about six feet off the ground. The area around the fence appears to be cleared off every few years and it’s allowed to grow until it gets too high. The area around the warehouse is heavily protected with guards and sensors while the other fences appear to have only some infrared and motion detector sensors. We observed them react to a large bird in the air near the compound but not a small one. They ignore the small animals while reacting to the large ones. I think they either have sensors being fed to a computer with some threat parameters or are watched by a person who knows the threat parameters. I doubt a man could get close to the fence without being challenged. There’s clearly no internal security for the main compound, just for the warehouse area.”

Gunny adds, “The only way I can see to get in is through the main gate, and then we’d probably have to fight our way in.”

Erin glances over at Pat a few times because it’s clear he wants to end this. They all do, but it’s getting to Pat more than the rest of them because they’re a lot more used to just having to wait things out. Then she has a thought and she asks, “What’s the actual size of the animals they react to from the sensors?”

Gunny half frowns as he says, “They reacted to a bobcat in the sensor zone but not a javelina. Why?”

Pat looks up, grins, and says, “We don’t need to take out the whole compound or everyone in it. We just need to eliminate the boss and his top men for us to be safe. The rest will then fight over what’s left and they’ll leave us alone.”

Sarge says, “True! But how does that help us?”

Erin looks at Pat, they nod to each other, and she says, “A man can’t get in, but a boy can! Some C Four with radio detonators and the job’s done, if they can be properly placed.”

Sarge and Gunny rock back in their chairs while Erin, Bubba, and Pat grin. After a moment Gunny says, “I don’t like putting a job like this onto Pat, but it seems he’s the only one who can get in. Taking the fight to Santiago is safer for us, in the long run, than it is to wait for his next attack. Tomorrow afternoon teach Pat how to use the explosives. We’ll check the site more during the day and look to penetrate Saturday.” They all nod their heads in agreement and get on with plan details.


Pat’s day at school is more like a normal day while the rest of them cross the border to give Santiago’s compound a closer look with the intent of Pat penetrating the compound. After school Bubba gives Pat a short course in handling and setting explosives because Pat doesn’t need to know it all, just how to set and activate the pre-set charges he’ll have with him for the job. Bubba sets up ten charges which are just large enough to kill someone close to them. The plan is to mine some furniture.

The attack is discussed while they eat dinner. Pat will have his two Defenders plus his .22 calibre carbine and a pack of explosives along with some field rations and his canteens. One problem comes up and they discuss delaying the attack for two weeks because of the problem.

Sarge says, “I was using the ‘long ear’ to listen in on the guards’ talk and I heard they expect some cartel big wigs tomorrow night so they’ll have extra shifts with the extra security from lunchtime tomorrow.”

Note: Long Ear is a directional microphone for eavesdropping.

Pat isn’t happy with such a long delay. He grabs some of the photos they have of the inner house compound and he studies them for a place to hide through the day. After a few minutes he puts one in the middle of the table and says, “What say I take extra food, water, a shovel, and a sheet of black plastic. I can dig a trench between the bushes and the low wall in the garden then bury myself to hide through the day.”

Sarge and Gunny look at the photo, then Gunny says, “You’ll have to stay absolutely still all day. Can you do that?” Pat nods yes. “To do this we have to go in tonight, so you’ll be there for twenty-four hours.”

“I know. But it means we get it over with now. It also means we can get the people pushing Santiago at the same time.” He turns to Bubba, “I think I’ll need more charges. How quick can you make more of them?”

Bubba grins, “Before you finish dressing for the op.”

Sarge looks around the table and they all nod yes when he makes eye contact with them. None of them like sending Pat in, especially so early, but they know he’s the only one who can do this as a clean operation due to his size and the training they gave him. Sarge nods too, so they all go to get ready. It’s a lot more than just getting Pat ready because they’ll all be in the field for the whole time he’s there. They’ll take turns watching the compound to provide Pat with back up and to help him to get out.

Half an hour later they’re ready to move out. Pat’s pack now has a cut-down trenching tool, a black body-bag, a monocular, food, water, an inflatable pad with pillow, twenty-five charges, and a radio control to detonate the explosives. He has wire cutters and monofilament in the pockets of his night BDUs. He also has a black cover on his rifle and a black insulated blanket to put over himself to confuse his heat signature when crossing the danger area. The others are in their usual BDUs with what they need to hide and get through the day while they wait clear of the compound. They all have their body armour on under their combat vests, their radios on their belts, and the earpieces in their ears with large floppy hats on their heads. It’s dark when they move out then it takes them a couple of hours to jog and walk to the Santiago compound.


The group stops behind a knoll about a hundred and fifty yards from the fence. A nod from Pat to Sarge, a return nod, and Pat walks around the knoll toward the fence while the rest move to where they’re going to set up to hide for the next thirty or so hours. Sarge and Gunny take first watch to keep an eye on Pat while he gets into the compound.

Pat walks upright until he’s near to the area where the brush was cut down in the past. Then he gets out the blanket, wraps it around himself, bends over and slow jogs across the area as he goes from bush to bush. He’s just over halfway across when he hears Gunny say on the radio, “Go to ground.” Pat squats down in a nearby depression, and waits.

In the watch tower nearest to where Pat is one of the guards is at the infra-red scanner and he says, in Spanish, “It looks like we have coyotes out there tonight.”

His partner asks, in the same language, “Are you sure?”

“Not really. They could be cats. Two targets too small to be men out there. Dogs, big cats, coyotes are all likely. Too big to be javelina and way too small to be even a small man.”

“Then forget them. The last man to shoot at a coyote at night is still in punishment detail after three months. You don’t disturb the Patrón without a better reason than a coyote.” His partner shrugs and moves the scanner to another part of the search area they’re responsible for.

Gunny is watching them through his binoculars which amplify the available light, so he sees when the guard moves the scanner on and he says, “Clear. Continue.”

Knowing where Pat is Sarge watches him and says, “He’s moving.”

Pat continues on his way to the fence. On reaching the fence he moves to where an upright is beside a bush inside the fence, squats down, and touches the wire with the back of his hand in the way he was taught. He feels no power in the fence wire so he has a closer look at the fence.

A little later Pat identifies where a wire is woven through the fence wire close to the ground. After more looking he finds another near the top of the fence. He hasn’t the gear to test them, but he guesses they’re a wire to set off an alarm if they’re cut or broken. Most people would cut it when cutting the fence wire down low or break the upper one while climbing over the fence. Pat selects a spot about a foot above the lower wire and he cuts the fence wire for a four foot section of fence so he has about two feet of uncut fence above and below his cut when he cuts the fence where it crosses the upright. He pulls one side out a bit, reaches through to place his pack on the ground, then his rifle, and finally he squeezes himself through the small gap he creates by pulling the fence out from where it should be. He reaches back to grab his blanket and he slips it on again. He pulls out the monofilament and he starts at the top of where he cut the wire to feed it through the uncut links to pull the fence wire back together in a way to make it look normal. He has to reach around the upright post while he feeds it from one hand to the other through the links and back again. It takes a few minutes to get it done, and it includes a loop around the post in the centre before he ties it off.

A moment to slip his pack back on, pull the blanket around himself, take the rifle in his hands, and crouch run across the patrol road along the compound fence. He slows down once he’s in the scrub on that side.

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