by Chris James
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On to Chapter Twelve
Rated Mature 18+
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The morning was quickly evaporating. Everything they had encountered so far seemed to delay their departure from the militia compound and Boze was growing impatient. Dawn had come and gone when the arrival of the FBI brought everything to a halt. They couldn't just drive off in the Humvees without causing a big stink and so they waited for a chance.
Captain Willows arrived and joined the briefing Matt conducted, walking them around the compound and through the various facilities. The militia prisoners were all awake by now and loaded in the prison bus when the phone calls began creating a tug of war over who had jurisdiction.
This was all such a waste of precious time, but the gathering of FBI agents finally headed out the front gate towards the mansion and Boze saw his chance. With a nod to Matt they took the Jeep and the Humvees out the back gate and up to the highway towards the Interstate.
Boze was in the lead vehicle and seemed to feel no reluctance in barging along, flashing his lights and honking the horn until people got out of the way. Ed only got brief glimpses of Bill following along in the Jeep but they were all exceeding the speed limit.
Rick was waiting for them at the airport gate and motioned the two Humvees on through while stopping the Jeep and pointing at Bill to park along the fence. Ed followed Boze right up beside the plane and was more than happy to shut the engine off and get out.
"Boze, you drive like a maniac," Ed said.
Rick laughed. "You should see him fly."
"Ed, the boys should go with you in the Jeep," Boze said.
"Why take the boys, and what about Bill?"
"We need BD to identify his brother," Boze said. He looked at the two boys standing beside the plane. "In case you haven't noticed, they've become inseparable. Not sayin' that's a bad thing, everyone needs someone."
"Oh, and Bill?"
"Back to the hotel with Andy and Mitch, he can hold down the fort and liaison with the cops. Let BD explain to Mitch how to keep track of the militia's position on GPS and they can relay that to us or the cops.
"Take Rick with you in the Jeep for security. I'll take a Humvee and two men, Terry can drive the others. Okay, let's saddle up and I'll explain along the way."
And so they dropped Bill at the hotel and headed out following Interstate 24 towards the northeast until they could pick up Colorado Route 67 south towards Victor. Rick rode shotgun in the Jeep with the two boys in the rear seat and all his gear in the back.
The team had loaded their packs in the Humvees and Tim saw the M-16 rifles and a few other odd looking weapons. Rick had brought his guitar case and stashed it in the rear of the Jeep. It goes where I go, Rick told him. There would be some guys in Langley, Virginia, who would be very upset if he lost it. Tim doubted that but Rick now held an M-16 between his knees.
All this firepower meant that Boze expected a confrontation with the militia, then Rick's phone rang and he put it on speakerphone.
"Here's the plan," Boze said. "We don't know where these guys are or where they have the bomb. Recon is going to take a while and we don't have any time left. My suggestion is that Ed find a place for his Jeep and hide out off the road about ten miles out of town. The rest of us will just barge on in there and see what we can.
"The Humvees will confuse them since I'm sure they will recognize their own vehicles. The last thing I want is a firefight surrounded by civilians so we'll have to lure them out of town. If we see that big truck then we'll back off. They can set those detonators off remotely if they want.
"The idea is to capture the opposing force if possible and get them to diffuse this bomb. If they set it off then all bets are off and we shoot to kill. The man we're after favors black fatigues as his uniform ... I want him alive. We can't count on the police staying out of this for very long and if we stick around town they might target us by mistake.
"So let's go see what these idiots are up to. Rick, you stay in touch with Bill and keep feeding us the coordinates of their GPS signals. Maybe they'll do us a favor and drive in our direction. Boze out."
"That's a plan?" Ed said.
"What else can we do?" Rick replied.
"Call Matt," Ed said, handing Rick his cell phone. "The police are supposed to have a detective up there already, maybe they've heard from him by now. Number four on the speed dial."
Rick dialed the number and waited until Matt picked up.
"Matt, Ed asked me to call you. Any word from your man in Victor?"
"Nothing," Matt said. "He doesn't answer his calls. The Captain is worried and wants to send a chopper up there to look around."
"We're afraid of spooking them into setting off that bomb," Rick said.
"Yeah, well the local cops in Victor were notified ... all three of them. They won't be much help. The force is too small to do us much good and they're mostly traffic cops. All they can do is ... wait one," Matt said.
Rick looked over at Ed. "I'm afraid they're going to send in a chopper ... "
"Rick?" Matt said. "It just happened. A bomb went off at the entrance to the mine. One of the local cops called it in and now they're busy trying to hustle people out of the area."
"Already? It's barely eleven o'clock, something must have spooked them. Do we know what kind of damage was involved?"
"Offices for the mine destroyed, broken glass all over the town. No deaths reported yet. The Pioneer Days parade had just finished and most of the residents were on the far side of town from the blast. We're scrambling resources from Centennial and Denver, especially the hazmat team."
"Then the militia is done in Victor and the only way home is past us ... I need to call Bill," Rick said.
"You guys be careful," Matt said. "Help is on the way."
Rick immediately dialed Boze on his phone and Bill on Ed's device. He waited until they were both on the line.
"News flash, the bomb was set off, no deaths reported yet," Rick said. "Bill, we need to find these militia guys, what does the GPS tell you?" And with that he pulled a map out of a pocket on the leg of his fatigues.
"You there?" Bill asked. "GPS shows a return on highway 64 near the base of Cow Mountain. That's the back way out of Victor. Where are you?"
"Still on Interstate 24, but coming up on the town of Divide where 67 breaks off and heads south to Cripple Creek. Are they moving?"
"Yes, but not very fast. That's a two lane road out there. Mitch has a Google image pulled up and the highway winds all over the place. They still have about eight miles to go on Highway 64 before they reach 67."
"So they're about twenty-four miles away," Rick said. "I see a real big horseshoe loop in the road about ten miles ahead of us past the entrance to the state park ... that's where we should ambush them."
Boze took the turn off the Interstate and headed south on 67. He was going much too fast but the little convoy kept up with him.
"There's little traffic, but I see a few houses along the side of the road," Boze said.
"That horseshoe is in a wooded area with some pretty steep cutouts on either side," Bill said. "But halfway around the curve there will be a small access road coming up on your left."
"Thank God for Google Earth," Rick said.
"Send the Jeep in there first and Terry can block the access road with his Humvee," Boze said. "I'll shut off the road and we'll bracket the highway from the cover of the trees. You handle fire support from your side, Rick."
"You think they're just going to stop?" Ed asked.
"I doubt it, but the Humvee is going to throw them a curve ball and we'll already be in position."
Boze was doing seventy and soon passed the entrance to the park, a quarter mile down he slowed just as they started into the curve and reached the access road. Terry pulled up behind him as Ed maneuvered the Jeep on past and pulled into the access road. As was his habit he travelled a short distance and turned around facing back towards the highway.
Terry pulled in front of the Jeep and the troops bailed out. Boze pulled his Humvee across the road to block traffic and his guys headed for the line of trees. With a steep ditch on one side and trees on the other this was the perfect point for an ambush ... and they didn't have long to wait.
"You guys stay with the Jeep," Rick said and followed Terry.
A Humvee rounded the curve, came to a screeching halt and sat there. Boze stood at the front of his vehicle and pointed his M-16 at the militia's driver behind the wheel. The doors opened on the vehicle and men began spilling out. One of them took a few shots at Boze and all hell broke loose.
The armor on the Humvee deflected a lot of the bullets but the windows shattered. There were six men in the vehicle and Boze saw one of them dressed in black. But three of them ran for cover and scrambled over the guardrail along the side of the highway and down into the ditch.
Shots from inside the Humvee were aimed at the trees, others towards Rick and Terry. Sitting in the back seat of the Jeep BD and Tim felt pretty helpless until a bullet hit Ed's windshield.
"This isn't safe," BD said, "we're sitting ducks." With that comment he opened his door and scurried over to the ditch beside the road.
"Come back here," Ed yelled, but the boy was gone. "Shit," and then Ed lay flat on the front seats.
Tim was about to join BD in the ditch when he decided just being under cover wasn't enough, they needed a weapon. He crawled over the back seat and immediately saw Rick's guitar case. Better than nothing he thought as he opened it up. A second bullet hit one of the side windows on the Jeep and Tim ducked low as he pulled the air rifle out of the case.
Suddenly the shots outside ceased and Tim eased up to see what was happening. Through the shattered windshield Tim glimpsed a figure in black climbing out of the ditch and pulling BD with him. The man had his arm around the boy's neck and was holding a pistol to BD's head.
"I'll kill him," Barry yelled. "Surrender or the boys dies."
Boze stepped out from behind the Humvee and held his rifle over his head. "You can't escape, Commander, the police have shut down the highways."
"If I'm going to be a martyr to my cause then Brian will go with me," Barry said.
"Let's talk about this," Boze said.
"No talk, birdwatcher ... the Lord guides my hand."
The pistol in his hand was a very old looking revolver, Boze noted. No slide to pull back, no safety either. The hammer wasn't cocked so the pull on the trigger would be difficult and take time. But Barry was keeping BD close, no chance for a shot because they might hit the boy.
Barry stood there awaiting a response ... and got none.
"Lord grant me the strength to do thy will," Barry said, and then behind him he heard a soft pop.
The flechette struck him in the neck with a mighty sting and Barry tried to pull the trigger. His body was numb and wouldn't follow his commands. BD felt the grip around his neck loosen and he stepped away as Barry crumbled to the ground. Looking up he saw Tim with the air rifle held to his shoulder and grim determination etched across his face.
"Get down," Tim commanded, and they both hit the dirt, but it wasn't necessary.
Three of the militia had been killed in the first fifteen seconds of the shooting, and now the other two stood up and dropped their rifles, hands reaching for the sky. Boze rushed over to the boys and helped them to their feet. BD went over and rolled his brother onto his back.
"Is he dead?" BD asked.
"No, just sleeping," Boze said. "We'll let the Feds decide if they want to kill him."
Ed crawled out of the Jeep brushing shards of glass off his shirt and out of his hair. "How did Joab get over here?"
Boze looked down at the ditch beside the road. "He must have crawled through that culvert under the road and come up on this side right beside where BD was hiding."
BD reached over and picked up the pistol, snapping open the cylinder and removing the bullets. Boze looked at the gun in BD's hand, a Colt of ancient manufacture.
"This is my grandfather's gun," BD said. "A family heirloom. Barry must have taken out of my father's study."
"Well he won't need it now," Boze said, squatting down to check the pulse in Barry's neck.
A shadow fell across the body and Boze looked up. "That was some fine shot, Tim," Rick said.
Tim turned and handed the rifle to Rick. "That's the last time I ever plan to shoot anyone."
BD threw his arms around Tim and began to cry which made Boze smile. "He's okay, it's just the shock setting in."
The sound of the State Police helicopter echoed off the ridges and valleys around them as the large Sikorsky set down on the highway. It only carried two passengers and one of them was Matt. Moments later a small string of State Police cars pulled up and Boze began to feel uncomfortable.
The nighttime assault on the compound would be difficult to explain but this was far worse. Rick and the guys were assembled between the Humvee and the Jeep when Matt walked up and looked around.
"What a mess," Matt said looking down that Barry's sleeping form. "Is this the ringleader?"
"He is, this is Joab," Boze said.
"A terrorist and a murderer," Matt said. "They found the remains of Lieutenant Bonetta in the bomb truck ... not much left to bury."
Matt looked around at the gathering of his troopers who were taking the remaining members of the militia in custody, and he looked at the dead bodies.
"I think this would be a good time for you to leave," Matt said. "Just put your rifles in Ed's Jeep and I'll get them back to you later. The copter will take you to the airport and you can disappear. Too many questions will be asked and the Captain is working up a suitable story for the media. So I guess this is goodbye."
He shook hands with Boze and turned to Rick, looking at the case he held dangling beside his leg. "What's that?"
"My guitar," Rick said. "I never go anywhere without it."
Matt laughed, knowing the lie was all he was going to get. And then he remembered seeing the case before and the rifle it contained. He looked back down at Barry. "So who shot this bastard?" He asked.
Rick nodded at Tim. "He saved a life, that's the sign of a good soldier."
Matt nodded. "He will have time to tell me all about it, but you better scram."
There were a few hugs and Boze led his troops towards the waiting helicopter. Bozeman Security was off the job and flying away into obscurity. Let the police explain this any way they wanted.
Tim and BD stood and watched the helicopter take off and head back to Colorado Springs. Then they turned to Ed who was staring at his Jeep in disgust.
"Oh well, the windows were dirty anyway," Ed said. "It's going to be a windy drive home."
"Did somebody call Bill and tell him what happened?" Tim asked.
Ed handed Tim his phone. "He would probably rather hear it from his son."
Several ambulances and a coroner's wagon joined the already bustling crowd of authorities. Ed began to pull the remains of the windshield out of the frame as police technicians spread out marking where the shell casings had fallen. Matt and several troopers carried Barry over to the ambulance and lay him on the gurney, and then he was handcuffed to the railings.
Ed finished his cleanup and climbed in the Jeep, happy to note that there was no damage to the engine. Tim was still on the phone with Bill and slid into the passenger's seat while BD sat in back. Matt waved as Ed drove back onto the highway and headed north towards Colorado Springs.
Behind them in Victor the Pioneer Days events were cancelled as all afternoon various agencies of the federal government responded to the crisis. Helicopters and trucks swarmed the small town as the residents gathered in groups to talk about what had happened ... no one was really sure.
FBI Hazard Teams, Homeland Security investigators and FEMA personnel spread out around the town questioning people. The sight of strange men in white space suits with little devices in their hands only fueled the speculation. Why would anyone in their right minds want to set off a bomb in Victor?
If Barry aka. Joab and the God's Chosen had been trying to make a statement they failed miserably. All the townsfolk knew was that their way of life had been disrupted and the mining operation was closed indefinitely. The only benefit was that all these new mouths needed to be fed and the restaurants stayed open late.
The radioactive contamination was limited to the immediate area of destruction around the mine entrance and office complex. That was bad enough since it would take months to clean up. But if Joab had wanted a larger spread of radioactive dust then he should have placed the truck out in the soil of the open pit where the rising particles from the explosion would have spread out further.
Victor would look like an occupied camp for several months while Barry and his militia sat in the federal lockup in Denver. That would allow the FBI to question everyone and put together a picture of why this event had occurred. But the investigation wasn't limited to Victor. Prompted by the list given them by the State Police, the FBI spread out across Colorado with warrants to arrest each and every militia member.
The Radisson was sorry to see the members of Bill's party check out of the hotel. A costly stay Bill decided until he discovered that Boze had put most of it on his company credit card. He was sure to get a return on his money when he billed the manufacturers for field testing their weapons. Bill wouldn't be surprised if he learned Boze had put them all down as consultants for the business.
Andy and Mitch returned to Denver, and a somewhat normal life. Mitch had not been idle while the others were off chasing the bad guys. He had been analyzing the documents BD had downloaded on that flash drive. The accounts of the church were many layered and the assets salted away in several holding companies, most of them run by Barry.
Mitch discovered the purchase of medical equipment ostensibly to be donated to clinics in several third world countries the church supported. This had to be the source of the Ceasium-137 used in the bomb. BD and Ed had been interested in the money trail because it would probably lead back to the church and the Bishop. It only remained to be seen who knew what and when.
Bill and Tim returned home with BD in tow. While the FBI investigation churned away in the background BD would stay away from his family. The time would come for a confrontation with his parents, but until then he wanted nothing more than time to think ... and be with Tim.
That moment on the road when Barry had threatened to kill his brother had a profound effect on both boys. Tim knew there was something special about BD. For now the boy had no place to go and Tim was sure Bill wouldn't object if he shared the bedroom.
BD sat quietly in the back seat with the Colt cradled in his lap and pondered his brother's actions. The pistol was a clue ... otherwise why carry something that was so old it might just blow up if it was fired. Barry was an enigma, a puzzle BD knew he had to crack. Perhaps he had never known his brother at all ... and so he started talking.
"Victor was founded in 1890, just after the gold fields were discovered. My great-grandfather began working in the mines right after World War I and started his family there. In the 1930's the mines were booming and he became a foreman. But the Second World War shut down the mines and poverty struck the town.
"After the war some of the mines reopened, but it wasn't the same. Labor was cheap and the owners of the mines cut wages so the only recourse the miners had was to go on strike and try to stop the work. The miners had a union, but just like fifty years before the politicians sided with the owners and used police to disrupt the strike.
"The only one who became obsessed with that history was Barry. Time and again he tried to get the story out of our father and he refused to talk about it. That made Barry angry but he continued to work for the church."
"Is that motive enough for his actions in Victor?" Bill asked.
"It can't be," Tim said. "I can't imagine the owners of the mine are the same people as they were fifty years ago."
"My father probably knows a lot more, but how do we get him to tell us?" BD asked.
"I don't think he will have much choice once the government puts pressure on him," Bill said. "We're just entering the first phase of an intense investigation. My only desire it to keep you boys out of it."
"BD is going to stay with us," Tim said.
"I can't impose on you like that," BD said.
"Bill won't mind, you can share my room."
"Is ... is that okay with you, Bill?" BD asked.
"Yes ... Tim seems to like your company. But you'll have to surrender that weapon because it makes me nervous."
"I can do that," and then he laughed. "You have all these friends with guns and they make you nervous?"
Bill smiled and looked up at BD in the rear view mirror. "I work with criminals and far too often I've seen the effects of what a gun can do. Tim understands."
BD was shocked that Bill would so openly talk about what Tim had done to his step-father. Tim turned around in his seat and looked at BD.
"If you own a gun you have to be prepared to use it, otherwise why bother having it? I don't like guns ... although I kinda like that air rifle Rick has. In the right hands a gun is a tool but so many of the people who own them don't use them responsibly. You see what happens when guys like these militia idiots have assault weapons."
"Three of them are now dead," BD said. "Maybe the others will learn something from this."
"You would think ... so what's on the agenda?" Tim asked.
"Home, food ... and then I would like a nice long nap in my own bed," Bill said. "This is still going to be a busy month. You have a birthday coming up."
"Really ... how soon?" BD asked.
"June seventeenth ... it's a Monday," Tim said. "But since the day before is Father's Day I thought we ought to combine them."
Bill reached over and patted Tim on the leg. "We can do that ... what shall we plan?"
Tim shrugged. "Something very simple I hope."
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