by Chris James
Back to Chapter Nine
On to Chapter Eleven
Rated Mature 18+
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Boze and Jocko found the Charlie team standing in front of a wooden building about the size of a two car garage. A single roll up door was open and light flooded out into the otherwise dark landscape.
"This was the last building we checked," Charlie said. "I ran a flashlight around the room and…well, go look for yourself."
Boze entered the building with Jocko right behind. A rack of weapons lined one wall, but it was mostly empty. Ought to count those, Boze thought, it might tell them how many militia men were now armed. A workbench across the back held a vise and tools for gun repair.
The stack of large fifty pound bags against one wall caught his attention and the label stood out. Ammonium Nitrate stamped in red letters. Basically fertilizer, but also a terrorist's main ingredient in bomb making. There were only five bags now but the concrete floor showed where several other piles had once stood.
"Boze, look at the workbench," Jocko said.
Over by the vise were several dozen small cylinders not much larger than a shotgun shell, but behind them was a heavy metal box and on it was the symbol every soldier dreaded seeing.
"Radioactive material?" Boze said. And on closer observation the empty cylinders were stamped with the radioactive symbol and the name of the contents. Caesium-137, he read.
"Clear out of here," Boze said and pushed Jocko towards the door. They stumbled into the night and Boze waved his arms. "Back off…way off," He yelled.
They retreated back towards the barn and Boze stared around. "Charlie team, how long were you guys in there?"
"Less than a minute, Boss. Once I spotted those bags I knew we had trouble," Charlie said. "Did you see the scrape marks on the floor? Something heavy was dragged out of there, maybe barrels."
"Okay, the game just changed again," Boze said. He looked at his watch and was surprised that it wasn't even four o'clock. Jocko saw the look.
"State Police are due here at dawn to pick up the prisoners. Andy is supposed to be at the back gate by five to take the team back to the airport. Rick is still overhead…what do we need?"
"We need intelligence," Boze said. "Did anyone take down a guy dressed in black? That would be their commander and I don't even think he's here."
"We can ask the boy who was on watch," Jocko said.
"We'll do that. Someone lend me your communications unit so I can talk to Rick."
Charlie removed his headset and the power pack, handing it over. Boze slid it on his head.
"Rick? Are you getting any of this?"
"Just voice until Jocko stepped in the building and the video started making sense," Rick said. "You got a bomb factory there."
"Yeah…we need a hazmat team in here, pronto. I don't think Charlie team was exposed, they didn't touch anything. You better call your State Police contact and tell him what we found. If these assholes have constructed a dirty bomb we need to know where it is."
"Roger that," Rick said. "I'll call Captain Willows right away. They must have a hazmat team in Denver. Is there a place for a chopper to land?"
"Just outside the front gate to this place," Jocko said. "I'll make sure there's a clear landing zone."
"You guys are supposed to disappear by sunup," Rick said.
"I know…we'll let the Boss decide."
"They really do need to pull out," Boze said. "We have an hour…let's see what we can find out by then."
"Roger," Rick said. "I'll return to the airport so I'll be on the ground if you need me."
"That works, over and out," Boze said. Then he turned to Jocko. "Let's go talk to that kid."
Douglas was afraid. These men in black looked like government agents and Joab had warned them all that someday these guys would come in retaliation against all the Christian militias. The country had turned away from God and soon the Christians across the country would have to rise up and take it back in His name.
Monica had screamed and when Douglas had turned around he thought the devil himself had appeared. But it was a soldier in black and the horns on his head had merely been a pair of night vision glasses pushed up onto his head. Now he was the prisoner and Douglas didn't know what his fate was going to be.
He sat on the cot with Monica beside him, at least that was something. Douglas had never been good with girls but she was nice. His momma had warned him about the sins of the flesh and so he had always avoided close contact with girls…until this one had treated him so nicely.
A soldier stood in the door with an odd looking rifle across his chest. The man looked dangerous as hell, and then the one they called Ed came in the cell.
"What's your name, young man?"
"Douglas Parnell ... Sir."
"Come with me," Ed said, and then to Ryan. "Cut the tie off his hands, he's going to need them."
Ryan produced a pair of cutters from his pocket and clipped the cable tie off Douglas' wrists. Ed led the boy back into the control room where Boze and Jocko were waiting.
"Douglas, we have a serious situation here," Ed said.
"Where is your commander, son?" Boze asked.
"They didn't tell me where they were going," Douglas said.
Ed steered the boy into the seat before the desk and turned him to face the console.
"You can find him now, can't you?" Ed said.
"The commander and six men went off on a training mission. Up in the mountains somewhere, that's all I know."
"What were they driving?" Boze asked.
"They took a two and a half ton truck and a Humvee," Douglas said.
"You guys are all loaded down with technology, aren't you?" Jocko said.
"I ... I suppose."
"I bet all your vehicles have a GPS system in case you need them. You probably know how to find these guys, don't you?" Ed asked.
Boze took a seat beside Douglas and stared at the boy. "Douglas, your men are off in that truck with a nasty bomb in it. Pretty soon this whole place is going to be swarming with police and FBI agents so you have a choice to make. You help us find this commander of yours or you'll be going to prison for a long, long time."
Douglas looked like he was going to faint and Ed decided to make the choice easier for him. "We need your help to save innocent lives. None of us knows what your commander has in mind but we need to find him and learn why he is doing this. I don't know Barry, but you do. His actions will damage the entire church, you have to help us."
"My momma is a deacon in the church," Douglas said. "If anything happens to that it will kill her."
And with that he placed his hands on the keyboard and typed in a command prompt. The graphic of the compound and the security system disappeared.
"I just disarmed the security system," Douglas said. He continued typing and another display came up. This time there was an overlay of a mountainous region and soon two dots appeared near the foothills. He backed off the image and Boze could read the name of the nearby town.
"Cripple Creek? Where's that?" Boze asked.
"Expand the image some more," Ed said.
Douglas did as requested and there to the right over several ridges was a vast area of excavation. Beside it was the name of the town: Victor.
"This is no coincidence," Boze said. "That name has come up too many times. What is their fascination with Victor? We already ruled out robbing the gold mine."
"But if they set off a dirty bomb there no one would have access to that mine for years," Ed said. "They must have a reason, but more importantly, why now?"
"I don't know, Sir," Douglas said.
Boze put a hand on the boy's shoulder. "I'm sure you don't, son. Soldiers are rarely given the reasons why they are ordered to do something. I don't think you're a part of this."
With that he motioned the others out into the hall where they could still see Douglas sitting at the console, but the boy was in a trance, shocked by the actions of his commander.
"This is the only computer setup we've found in the compound," Boze said. "My troops have to pull out of here and the police will soon take over. Hate to say this, but we need BD down here to look through the system.
"He's hacked into the militia database before so he has a better chance of getting in quickly. We need a timetable, some idea of when they plan to explode this bomb and where if possible. Rick, you still there?"
"Yes, we're going to land in about five minutes," Rick said. "I've heard everything you've said."
"Notify Andy that the pickup time is still on for five o'clock."
"He's already on the way."
"Jocko and the guys will return to the plane, but tell Danny he's on hold for the moment. I hate to do this but we may need the muscle to catch these bad guys."
"Roger that," Rick said.
"Get Bill to drive Tim and BD up here to the compound. They need to be here before the police arrive if at all possible so they better leave now," Boze said.
"Where do you want me?" Rick asked.
"Stay with the troops for the moment. Get them re-armed, the nice guy image just went out the window."
"Roger. Coming in for a landing, will standby for further orders. Out."
"Jocko, take your men and check the prisoners one last time. Make sure they have unrestricted breathing, don't want any dead bodies when the cops get here. Then head for the rear gate, Andy should be waiting. I'm sorry to keep you around, but I don't know how much force it will take to bring these guys down."
"We'll be with the plane. I can get Danny to cook us some breakfast while we change out of these outfits. Just call with orders."
Boze nodded. "We may need transport out of here once the cops arrive, but I saw two nice Humvees sitting out back."
"Stay in touch," Jocko said and gave Boze a smile. "Come on, Ryan, time to leave."
Boze looked at Monica who was standing in the door to her cell. "Your ride home will be here soon…why don't you go keep Douglas company until they show up."
Monica smiled and headed for the control room. "Did I forget anything?" Boze asked.
"I suppose you expect us to go find these militia idiots and take them on before they explode whatever device they have in that truck," Ed said.
"Well put, you'll make a fine soldier," Boze said with a grin.
"Oh no, not again. Been there, done that."
It was five-fifteen when Bill came bouncing across the roadway towards the main gates to the compound. Boze was standing there when the Jeep pulled up.
"Good Morning," Boze said. "My thanks to you for whatever part you had in arranging our rescue. Ed is a bad poker player and I was getting bored."
"Rick said to bring the boys pronto so here we are. Are you waiting for the police?" Bill asked.
"I am, and a hazmat team ought to be arriving by helicopter any minute. Why don't you take BD and Tim over to the barn and Ed will explain what's needed." Boze smiled at the two passengers. "See, boys, now you're involved. I can tell that pleases you by those smiles."
"Where are all the bodies?" Tim asked.
"No bodies, the prisoners are still sleeping…must have been a long night on guard duty. Now you better go see Ed before the cops arrive. I hope you find what we're looking for."
Bill drove the Jeep towards the barn, following BD's directions. It was spooky in among the trees and deathly quiet. The sky in the east was turning from gray to beige as the sun began to rise, dawn would soon be here. Bill parked outside the main doors and they all climbed out.
Tim studied the way the barn sat and realized the militia had probably dismantled it board by board to build the bunker beneath it. BD had not seen the building since he was a kid. He hefted his backpack and began to follow Bill.
"Down here," Ed yelled from the doorway at the bottom of the ramp and they headed down towards him.
"Tim, my man," Ed said, and gave him a hug. It was awkward because Ed had an automatic pistol in a holster slung over his shoulder.
"You planning to shoot someone?" Tim asked.
"Confiscated weapon from one of the militia. Come on, I'll introduce him."
Bill shook hands with Ed and followed him down the ramp. So they got a prisoner of their own, he thought, and he's awake. Monica was standing in the doorway at the end of the hall and BD rushed towards her, throwing his arms around the girl.
"They were looking for you and wanted me as bait. I told them it wouldn't work but they didn't listen. I didn't think you would ever find me ... " BD put a finger to Monica's lips.
"Hush, girl, everything is all right now."
Douglas looked up as all these new people walked through the door, and then he recognized Brian. They stared at one another for a moment.
"I didn't know you were in the militia," BD said.
Douglas nodded. "My uncle talked me into it because I have computer skills."
"Is this the device Joab uses?" BD asked.
"Yes, Barry had to show me all the security features."
"Barry is Joab? I should have known. Damn, that explains so much," BD said, and then he looked at Ed. "What is it that you need?"
"Barry took a militia group into the mountains to Victor and we have the GPS signal pinpointing their location. But we also found some bomb making materials here in the compound and some of that material is radioactive. Why would he go to Victor, what's there? And if he does have a bomb up there when is he planning to use it?"
"My grandfather was born there, but you already know that," BD said. "Barry has been fixated for years about our family history. But a bomb makes no sense, it's all open land."
"Something is happening up there," Ed said. He pointed at the computer keyboard. "Go do your thing."
BD turned to Douglas. "This is just a peripheral device ... do you know where the mainframe is?"
"At the cathedral I would guess, but this is hardwired to a server and the church is too far away. The server must be over in the Bishop's mansion."
"That's where Barry would have an office, it makes sense," BD said. "So let's see what big brother has been up to."
He began to search programs and files, noting that there were far more entries in the server than he had been able to find in his father's accounts. Barry's private account was listed under 'David's Fortress,' a name BD had seen before in emails. But he didn't have the password.
BD pulled his backpack open and lifted out the laptop. He booted it up and searched through his programs until he found what he wanted. With an empty flash drive he downloaded that and then pushed it into the USB port on the desktop unit. With a few keystrokes the program began running.
"What is that?" Douglas asked.
"Password cracking tool ... it might take a few minutes. Barry isn't clever enough to have encrypted his files. He was probably sure no one will ever get into them, but he's wrong." The graphic on the screen stopped running and the password appeared.
BD laughed. "Romans 12:19, I should have known," He said. "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. What an ego…Barry must think he's God."
"We are all God's instruments," Douglas said. "Barry says that all the time."
"Well in this case he's wrong."
Barry's files included one named Victor and it held dozens of documents. The one that caught BD's eye was simply labeled 6/12.
"That's tomorrow's date," BD said.
"No it's not, tomorrow is already today ... this is the twelfth," Ed said.
BD opened the document and they were presented with a copy of a newspaper article. The subject was Pioneer Days and how the governor was going to give a speech in Victor about the founding of the mines there a hundred and twenty-five years ago.
"Oh no, the governor," Bill said and reached for his cell phone.
BD began searching the other documents and copying many of them to the flash drive. Then he paused and Ed groaned as a schematic for a bomb came up on the screen. It showed a fifty-five gallon barrel loaded with fertilizer and several other ingredients. Ed had seen enough and went running out of the room to find Boze.
Bill was out in the hallway on his phone trying to reach Matt when Ed rushed by. The connection was bad so he moved towards the exit ramp to get a stronger signal. Finally he got through.
"Matt ... are you guys on the way?" Bill asked.
"Yes, we secured the prison bus from Ravenswood and I'm about five minutes away ... are you there?"
"I am, thank goodness," Bill said, and then he went on to reveal what BD had uncovered.
Matt groaned at the news. "And just when I thought my day couldn't get any worse. I'll see you in a few. I have to call the Captain."
The sound of a helicopter thundered over the compound and Bill looked up as the large Sikorsky S-92 swung over the trees and landed in the clearing beyond the main gates. Several members of the Hazmat Team emerged, dressed in bright red Tyvek suits and right behind them was the SWAT team.
Boze left his position beside the gates and approached as the engines on the copter shut down. Once there he began speaking to several of the men who looked like they were from outer space in those suits. Ed stood back, unsure if he wanted to get involved. What he really wanted to do was get the hell out of there and go looking for the rest of the militia.
The hazmat men carried several cases between them and followed Boze through the gates. The SWAT guys followed along and took note of the bunker off to one side.
"You'll find some militia members in that bunker," Ed said to the trooper with the stripes on his sleeve. "They ought to be waking up any time now."
"Armed?" The sergeant asked.
"They were, but they're all tied up and waiting for you now."
The SWAT team headed for the bunker as Boze led the hazmat team through the trees towards the shed and the dangerous contents. Ed was about to follow when the sound of vehicles on the road attracted his attention.
The prison bus rolled through the gates followed by a half dozen state police cars and a large SWAT truck. Some party, Ed thought and then he saw Matt pull his car to the side and step out. They hugged and Matt looked him over.
"You don't look any worse than the last time I saw you," Matt said.
"Thank you. Where's the Captain who's supposed to be leading this parade?"
"He got distracted by your news about the governor. The speech wasn't going to be given until a rally at noon so Willows has put a stop to the delegation that was supposed to leave Denver at ten o'clock and head up there. You guys saved the day for him and he might give you a medal."
"No medals, I have a trunk full of those worthless things," Ed said.
"We need to contact the local authorities up in Victor," Matt said. "Any idea what we should tell them?"
"Come down to the bunker and I'll show you," Ed said.
Boze was calmly pointing out the locations of the bunkers and the bunkhouse where the troopers would find the militia men sleeping off the effects of the drug. The teams spread out as the leader of the hazmat team stepped out of the garage building and came towards Boze. He shed his hood and he was revealed to be a she.
"Caesium-137…nasty stuff in large quantities. The radiation levels are pretty low in there so I doubt if you received much exposure. Wendy Phillips," She said, pulling off her glove to shake hands.
"Bozeman Tibbett, Boze to my friends," He said returning the handshake. And what a pretty hand it was. Just like the rest of her.
"We think these militia guys constructed a dirty bomb and have dragged it up to Victor in the mountains," Boze said. "We found schematics for a bomb on the militia's computer."
Wendy nodded. "They probably have, we found a box of detonators in there on a shelf. With the amount of Caesium in those small containers I doubt if this bomb will do much towards spreading that material around. The bomb itself is likely to do some damage but as for radioactive fallout it won't spread very far. Where did they get those containers?"
"I have no idea," Boze said.
"They look like source capsules from a teletherapy device, specialized medical equipment. The Department of Energy tested several types of bomb devices and determined that the blast is far worse on property damage than the spread of contamination might be. The psychological factor however…"
"I get the picture," Boze said.
"Well, we'll haul the capsules out of here and do a complete sweep of the property to make sure they don't have another stash somewhere," Wendy said. "You aren't with the State Police, are you?"
"Nope, a security consultant with Homeland Security."
"Wow, you guys were right on top of this."
"It pays to be vigilant," Boze said. "It was nice meeting you, Wendy, but I better go see that the troopers round up all the militia."
"Sure ... Good Bye," Wendy said.
Damn, Boze thought. The woman had stars in her eyes the moment he had mentioned Homeland Security. He'd seen that look before and it usually got him laid…but not today.
Douglas was being escorted up the ramp when Boze got back to the barn. He held up his hand and the troopers stopped as he smiled at the boy.
"You were cooperative and very helpful, Douglas. I'll make sure that goes in the report the judge will see."
"Thank you, Sir," Douglas said. "I'm sorry."
"You made a mistake, but you admitted it. I think your momma would be proud," Boze said. "Have courage, son."
Douglas smiled as the troopers marched him off towards the bus. The boy would join the other nine behind bars, but there were still a handful left and they were out there in the mountains. Boze knew he didn't have to go after them since it wasn't his job any more. But he had a plane full of experts who were far more capable for this task than the cops.
BD had finished copying all the documents he wanted from his brother's files and was closing up his laptop. A State trooper was now in the room looking at everything.
"Boze, this is Corporal Mack, he's the IT specialist."
"We were going to seize the computers in here until BD explained that this is just a peripheral device and the server is probably up at the mansion. I don't suppose anyone has been up there yet?"
"I doubt if they even knew we were here until the copter landed, Corporal. It's still early," Boze said.
"Yes, sir, but we don't want them destroying any evidence."
"How true. Perhaps you can take a few of your friends up there and knock on the door. I'm sure they'll be glad to see you."
"Oh I doubt that," Mack said. "The sun is just coming up."
Boze looked at BD and Tim. "Gentlemen, shall we go have breakfast?"
Ed was standing at the top of the ramp with Monica, Matt and another trooper.
"Monica didn't want to leave without saying good-bye," Matt said.
"I called Mom and woke her up," Monica said. "We have to go to the barracks later on today and make a statement…maybe she'll calm down by then."
"Don't count on it," BD said and gave her a hug.
She shook hands with Tim and then turned to Boze. "What's going to happen to Douglas?"
"He'll be locked up for a good while, but he gave us valuable information and probably saved some lives. The court will take all that into consideration. If you want to keep his friendship until he gets out then you might consider writing him letters with your support."
"I'll do that, and thanks," Monica said and turned to the trooper. "I'm ready to go now."
"So what's the new plan?" Matt said.
"Victor, as soon as we can get there," Boze said.
"You're not going alone ... "
"Nope, not a chance," Boze said. "These militia guys are playing for keeps now."
"We have a detective up there undercover, Ed knows him," Matt said.
"T-Bone, but he doesn't know anything about this, does he?" Ed said.
"No, we haven't been able to reach him, but we'll keep trying," Matt said. "Stay in touch. The only reason we aren't going up there in force right away is that we don't want to spook these militia guys and have them set off that device."
"I'm afraid that's what they have in mind anyway," Ed said. He then handed Bill the keys to his Jeep. "Be careful with my baby."
Bill smiled and headed for the Jeep, motioning to BD and Tim. "You coming?"
"Can we ride in the Humvee with Boze?" Tim asked and Bill nodded.
"Back to the airport?' Ed asked.
"Yes. You ever drive a Humvee?" Boze asked.
"Been a while. The military model drives like a truck."
"And it doesn't have a stereo system. Follow me," Boze said.
It was almost a hundred miles to Victor through the mountains. It would take a while to get there, perhaps too long.
Lieutenant Bonetta slammed his shoulder against the door of the truck one more time. It was a useless gesture, the door was locked tight. Even if he did get it open he was bound hand and foot, no way to stop from falling to the ground and busting his head wide open.
He had been in town only twelve hours when he noticed the truck which seemed out of place at the back of a grocery store parking lot. Of course the town was pretty crowded with some kind of parade and a celebration of Pioneer Days gearing up for a good time. Maybe this vehicle had something to do with that…but he didn't think so.
It looked odd, and the odd things always needed investigation. It had to be an Army surplus vehicle but it still had the camo paint job which some civilians liked to show off. Then he had seen a guy in fatigues walk up and climb into the cab. The truck drove away and T-Bone followed in his used Chevy Camaro borrowed from the State DEA…those guys always had the best undercover cars.
The truck had headed out towards the mine access road. The plant and mining operations were closed today for the holiday. He'd seen a sign saying the governor was coming to town for a speech at noon. The streets would be crowded for hours because the parade was at ten. So if this truck was in it why was it heading to the mine?
It happened so fast T-Bone barely had time to react. From his blind side this Humvee flew out of an access road and slammed into the right rear of the Camaro, spinning him around. The air bag went off and by the time T-Bone had disentangled himself from that mess there were three men with M-16 rifles pointed at him.
So this was the militia Captain Willows had asked him to find…well, they had found him instead. He was dragged from the car, disarmed and tossed into the back of the Humvee where other hands held him down and he was bound hand and foot.
They drove for a while and then he was pulled out of the Humvee and seated in the two and a half ton truck which was parked by the mine entrance. One of the militia guys cuffed his feet to the bottom of the seat and then gave him a smile. The man's uniform fatigues were black without any rank, except there were these two gold crosses on the lapels.
"Have a Blessed Day, Lieutenant…what's left of it…oh, this is yours," the man said and tossed T-Bones' State Police identification on the floor of the truck. "Show that to the devil when you reach the gates of hell."
The door was slammed shut and locked…that was two hours ago and it was hot in the cab of the truck. The sun was rising higher and T-Bone guessed the morning would soon be over. By now he figured the militia guys were not coming back.
They were probably after the governor, he had to do something. T-Bone banged his shoulder against the door, but it was futile…and then he heard a loud click…
On to Chapter Eleven
Back to Chapter Nine"
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