Note: Reason being held as hostages is to force the turnover of the bridge from the Navajo Police. Rewrite addition. Drop Map at first stop? Add dialogue?
We went back to running. This time it was only for 30 minutes. Barely enough time for me to get back into the groove. We scrambled up one of the many washes coming off the mesa. In doing so we startled a rattlesnake basking in the sun. Nobody broke stride, we just gave him some room and kept moving. We hit the lip and instead of us popping our heads up like a bunch of curious gophers I stopped short and waved my squad down. Second squad I directed to take up position at the bottom of the wash.
I really hoped no one was on guard up there, or especially many others on guard. They would have the high ground and we would have to push them off it, then be exposed to the building across the road. Keiku had given me pop up feeds and it had looked clear. I quit buying into feeds telling me everything was looking good until I personally had seen the ground with my own eyes.
"Hit me again Keiku."
This feed was the same as the others. I could tell by the resolution and detail that it was coming from the hawk. Crows were never that good. Their attention span was .02 seconds and invariably something shiny distracted them. Hawks were a lot better but every once in awhile they would spot something edible on the ground below and go into a dive. The first time that happened to me I stopped dead in my tracks startling the squad I was leading and braced myself for impact all the while muttering "Shit! Shit! Shit!" It was a mix of exhilarating and terrifying because it was so real and so sudden. Mostly terrifying.
I studied the school and the area around it and tried to think of a plan. We were approaching the school from the back. It had covered walkways painted faded blue, undoubtedly one of the school colors, they joined the two square equally faded white cinder block boxes that were the structures. The second box was two stories high. It held the gym, lockers, and a handful of classrooms was my guess. The first box, to my right was a one story building where the rest of the classrooms and admin people would have their offices. The second story roof had two men with scoped wooden stock hunting rifles, probably .270's watching. The other buildings roof was empty.
The front had the entrance to the school blocked by a school bus as was the grass area that was free of obstacles so no one could do a vehicle rush. Since birds didn't have x-ray vision I couldn't see inside the buildings let alone have an idea of the floor plan. The floor plan I wasn't worried about. Once you orientated yourself inside planned structures like schools the location of everything fell into place. I was pretty sure that someone was in the bus next to the one blocking the entrance. The main entrance would have a strong enemy presence. More than likely set back down the main corridor and barricaded. I had seen the sparkle of broken glass in a number of places below windows. It was amazing the school had managed to keep glass in the windows for so long but then this area was lightly touched by PowerDown compared to the coast and the big desert cities like Phoenix.
I motioned for the 2nd squad Captain to join me. He acknowledged it, said something to one his people carrying one of the sledges strapped to his back. He slid it out of its sheath and went back to watching. The Captain scrambled up to me. As he drew almost even with the rattlesnake he pivoted, took a step towards Mr. Snake and whipped that sledge down like it was weightless. Mr. Snake took it hard. He tossed the now flat headed rattler down to his squad and finished the rest of the space between us. He joined me and the other Captain, squatting on his heels next to me.
Once I would have thought spending time with a group and barely speaking a word unusual. It was the norm now. I had met, commanded, and buried people who I spoke, at most, 20 words with in a week. The better, and longer a team worked together the less words were said. We hadn't spoken really but everyone of these guys had been chattering away to each other every minute we had been together. Body language, facial expressions, how they moved, how their gear was worn, the state of their weapons and their choices in them, all that added up in my head. I had interviewed them along the way and they had done the same to me. Now it was time to see how they preformed on the job.
It was map in the sand time again. Since I was going for detail I used the tip of my bayonet to etch my sketch. The building remained the same. Now it was time for the master plan.
I drew a sweeping half arc out our left. "Barrett. Roof, then windows with broken glass. One round below. One to the right side." I continued the arc. "Have him stop and go. Cover the buses and us."
I looked at them. They both nodded.
"Me and the two with the sledges go here." I indicated the side of the gym building. "We open the wall."
"When you see us go in you move to abandoned buildings, then, at your discretion, take the center. Clear it, then go for the parents. Split them into two groups. When we come out with the kids push parent group one in front. Make sure they know that I won't tolerate them breaking from the group for their kids. Explain why they have to be in front."
I stopped here and looked at them. I needed to know two things. Did they understand what I wanted and could they stomach it? They did. They didn't like it but that was tough shit. I wasn't to thrilled about it either.
We'll herd the kids behind them. Push the second group of parents in tight behind an around them. I want them surrounded by adults." I paused, then continued, "They don't want to cooperate than leave them behind." I didn't add that mine would be left behind and dead.
"The buses are the way out. Start them, one is probably good, they both look like wood burners, load them up and go."
"The Navajo Mountain Chapter House. I want to push them towards Rainbow Bridge. If they are going to make a stand we might as well do it in the holy land." I grinned. That had rhymed quite nicely. "Arm the parents when and if you can. Questions?"
The two Captains looked at each other. Then the senior one, at least he was older, said, "Sir. It's an honor to be here with you and we want..."
"Save it Captain." I told him. "Get the Barrett man moving and lets do this."