Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Gunslinger Series; The Sweeper

The lone man shivered in the wind as he waited on the low mountain peak surrounded by towering jagged mountains reaching twelve to fifteen thousand feet; his 4X4 pickup parked at the side of the clearing its nose just showing from the thick timber; pulling his collar up higher he checked his watch again.

Four O’clock in the afternoon, the helicopter was two hours late; not really late but at the far end of the window of time they’d given him. The wind was starting to pick up; it’d be dark in an hour.

He heard the chopper before seeing it; loud really digging the air, coming in fast as the rotor beats shook the air around him. Just clearing the near timber at top speed the chopper dropped just inches above the low grass and spotty brush; risky and radical flying at this altitude. Nose coming up high the rotor blades chopping the air sending curtains of snow flying as it compressed the air at full power; standing on its tail dropping speed the roar was deafening. Hovering no more than a foot off the ground a man jumped down from the open door of the black hawk pulling a heavy backpack from its restraining straps; reaching back inside the hovering chopper the man dressed in full camo pulled a large gun case to the open door; opening the case he withdrew a huge black military type sniper rifle; closing the case and pushing it back into the chopper he stepped slightly away from the bird and waved to the pilot; the chopper shot straight up into the sky hard banked and raced towards the near trees clearing them with no more than two feet.

Shouldering the heavy pack, rifle at port arms the man walked to the startled man standing in the small clearing; he was covered in snow, bits of dirt grass and rocks clung to his clothing; it had been a minute and a half of shock and awe, now standing in front of him in full battle gear with two very large automatic pistols hanging from each hip, every inch of camo uniform held some type of gear in pockets or strapped tight to chest arm or leg, a digital eye piece covered one eye attached to his helmet, a small antenna from the right side reached four inches above all else. Unsnapping the hard plastic lightly ballistic face shield and pushing it to one side he introduced himself “Jameson; Delta retired.” He didn’t offer to shake the man’s hand.

The hired gunslinger had arrived.

Fourteen murders in the last six weeks; seven of those being the small town’s Law Enforcement Officers, Mayor and City Manager; they needed help fast. The town of High Forks, Alaska hadn’t had a murder in twenty years and the usual crime consisted of DUII’s and an occasional fight at the one and only bar in town. Everyone was scared to death; it fell to the town’s water commissioner Jim Parker to call for help everyone else was dead. The Sheriff’s Department and the State Police declined to intervene since the total financial collapse had taken all their funding; hire an outside agency he was told, there are lots of them available now.

On and off the phone for two days, waiting for call backs no one was interested in High Forks, Alaska; two different agencies told Jim Parker to call Reaper International they did hard jobs and had highly skilled people available for a price, a high price.

The phone of Reaper was answered on the second ring; placed immediately on hold Jim Parker rolled his eyes into his head, same treatment he got from everyone he’d called. A deep voice came on the line after two minutes holding “What’s your problem, don’t leave anything out.” Was all that was said; forty minutes Parker talked into what could have been a dead line except for the very occasional “go on” from the deep voice. “Five hundred thousand, you have that kind of money?” Stammering Jim Parker said they did since they’d finally got a payment from the new diamond mine just outside of town two weeks ago. “We’ll be in contact and have boots on the ground in three days.” The phone went dead in his hand.

Yesterday in a brief and crisp call on his home phone at nine pm at night Jim Parker had been told when and where to meet Reaper’s people; the call lasted thirteen seconds. “Oh okay.” Parker said into a dead line; he never thought how they’d got his home phone.

“You’re it; just one; we’ve got fourteen dead. They must have thirty guys on they’re payroll.” Jim Parker said in disbelief as the wind gusted hard making him take a step backward. The sun had left the sky and the temperature dropped by five degrees, colder with the wind chill.

“You have the paperwork?” Jameson asked ignoring the scared man.

“Ummm Um yes; right here.” Pulling the ten sheets of paper out of a heavy envelope Parker handed it to Jameson. “The Attorney the city uses wrote it up just like we we’re instructed, word for word.” Jameson signed the last page sliding half the papers back into the envelope handing it back, the other half went into a breast pocket.

“Badge?” Jameson asked.

“Oh yes” Jim Parker handing Jameson the badge and swore him in as the new chief of Police for the City of High Forks, Alaska.

“My truck is over there; we can make the ten miles into town in about thirty minutes. I have a place for…..” Jameson cut him off.

“I’m sure they’ll have a welcoming committee waiting for us; you take the truck I’ll make sure they see that I’m not with you; you should make it back without a problem. We’ll be in touch in a few days.” Jameson said. Turning away he slowly walked towards the far timber away from the truck keeping to the center of the clearing in plain view. During the pop up to clear the timber before landing the pilot saw two men hiding in his DHMD helmet display two hundred yards east of the meeting point; signaling to Jameson they were well informed and waiting for him.

Entering the timber Jameson reached down twisting the knob on his radio; switching to roam he pushed the ear buds deeper into his ears. The radio roamed the frequencies going immediately to any signal it picked up. “No, only one; he’s heavily armed and went into the trees towards the south. The idiot from town is heading back alone, over.” Another voice “Are you sure he’s going south; what the hell’s he doing?” Smiling Jameson switched the radio off and removed the ear pieces; he’d sweep south three hundred yards turn east, then another three or four hundred yards turning north, towards trouble.

DBI mining was a front for an organized crime group out of Florida; head quartered on the outskirts of Miami. The city of High Forks had made a huge mistake demanding their tax money and threatening to take DBI to Court to get it; the final straw was telling them they would be closed down in thirty days unless the tax payment came in. Nearly every person on flight 1066 from the lower forty eight was a gunman hired by DBI; arriving just seven weeks ago they’d been busy clearing up the company’s problems. They figured the city would call for help and they’d make ready to clean that problem up too; the tax payment was a little attempt to keep the mine in the clear during the dirty work.

One hour in the foot deep snow and Jameson made the final turn heading due north; he expected to walk into an ambush within the hour. He took a seat on a stump, had dinner in the dark and studied the map to DBI’s mine and compound.

Pulling the thermal imaging goggles down over his eyes the forest turned a bright green in the moon light. Switching to IR (infrared red) he looked for heat signals coming from ambush sites. Coming over a slight raise along the hill side he picked up two faint red imagines in his goggles; high and to the right tucked up and under a rock over hang with thick brush hanging down from the rocks above he could now clearly see two men carefully hidden amongst the boulders. From their position they could monitor the slim valley as the trees thinned out prior to another raise in the little valley floor. Jameson slid up under a thick brushy area; sitting his rifle on its bipod legs he pulled the heavy pack off his back. Loosening several straps released a shortened version of a standard laws rocket. He pulled and extended the tube popping up the sights on the Laws upper curve and turning on its circuits. The sight pulsed green; moving up sixty yards he leveled the rocket for its fifteen second flight. Aiming above and behind the two men figuring the weakest point in the rock over hang he slowly squeezed the trigger; surprised by the launch, the rocket flew straight and true hitting deep behind the men in the rock over hanging face; not a loud explosion but enough that the fragile rock collapsed covering the two men in tons of falling rock; the mini war had started.

Returning to his pack and rifle Jameson quickly threw on his heavy pack and ran across the shallow narrow valley to the far side about a hundred and fifty yards to the left of the ambush point and maybe fifty yards beyond it. Finding a hollowed out area between trees he laid out five magazines and a half dozen forty millimeter mortar shells; he was ready for what he expected to be the coming battle.

Watching six red wavering shadows sneaking through the thick timber was like watching ghosts; moving slowly and carefully they fanned out five to eight meters between the team members. To Jameson it was like watching a training film from basic training; it was clear these men had not worked together before; they didn’t keep in line and had to stop for a straggler to catch up with the line of men working towards the falling rock they’d heard. Unable to make contact via radio they knew they were walking into an ambush but had to keep moving carefully taking cover every few feet.

Jameson saw three men making a common mistake coming together in the dark, too tightly packed together making an easy target; he dropped a forty millimeter mortar round into the short tube under his sniper rifle and aimed to the center of the closing group; as they approached each other in the dark he pulled the trigger. POOMFF…… the mortar shell left the tube making a short arched path to impact. Exploding sending all three flying in the air Jameson found two other men lined up in his sights as the mortar lit the surrounding area in its flash detonation. Walking the heavy rounds from his rifle across the two silhouetted men they were clearly mortally hit. Waiting patiently Jameson found the last surviving man low crawling towards the safety of the boulders; glowing bright red in his sights he squeezed the shot off.

Keeping track Jameson quietly said “Twenty two” knowing the number left might be higher; he was enjoying himself; it would get tougher as the next day or two went along.

Moving to an over look of the DBI compound Jameson wrapped himself tight in his sleeping bag and thermal blanket; they’d have to step on him to find him leaving no thermal image in the night.

Waking Jameson slowly and quietly unwrapping from his cocoon he found a team of three fifty yards to his right slowly moving through the thick brush. Jameson let them move away; he opened three breakfast meals and stuffed himself; it would be a long day.

Pulling an Iphone from a breast pocket he waited as it silently powered up; “Twenty two; at the compound” he text and powered down the phone. For the second time since waking up he checked every component of his rifle, magazines, pack and pockets making sure everything was where it needed to be; he was ready.

Moving to the area in the woods the DBI team had just walked along he found they were using existing trails; dropping his heavy pack Jameson laid out a path of personnel mines they’d trip if they returned on the same path; he figured in twenty minutes they’d be running back taking the same trail; big mistake.

Sliding down the steep hill into the compound he noted very few people moving around the area; they must have nearly everyone out looking for him leaving the compound totally under staffed. Moving silently he made his way to the opening of the diamond mine; he could hear machinery running deep in the mine but not a single person around the opening and elevator shaft. Stepping into the mine shaft Jameson placed explosives along the top of the elevator spool and against all the electrical equipment; making his way outside he stuffed a large chunk of C4 under the huge generator that ran all the power for the complex. Standing and turning he stepped into the chest of a worker heading to check the elevator controls; Jameson downed the man shutting his scream off with a single swipe of his gloved hand against his windpipe; dragging the man to a hiding spot he covered him in a tarp. Moving to his left he found another target ripe for explosives; the C4 stuck tight to the bottom of a five hundred gallon tank of unleaded gasoline that supplied power to the equipment; the little antenna stuck out of the C4 waiting the signal to send the electrical charge to set it off just like all the explosive charges Jameson had left around the compound and mine shaft.

A string of explosions went off high above the compound; five in total in quick succession. Jameson knew it was the personnel charges along the trail he’d laid. Setting them in a line, he wired them so if the team returned along the same trail from the direction they had been moving they’d walk into the trap; as the leader of the group set off the last mine in line all the mines along the back trail would go off exploding along the trail killing anyone following the leader. “Seventeen”

Running at top speed Jameson moved away from the explosives he’d hidden setting up two firing lanes; one running down the length of the compound, number two covering sixty yards of open area to his left. People flew out of the buildings as the explosives went off on top of the hill to the east; twisting spinning on fine threads he tightened an eighteen inch silencer to his large bore rifle barrel extending the length by nearly a third. Sighting he knocked down any armed workers starting in the far distance and working forward; man after man was dropped never knowing that others had been shot behind him. To his left two hired gun men stormed out of a small building, rifles at the ready; Jameson took both with head shots dropping them in place. Moving he ran past a long Quonset hut throwing grenades through the windows as he ran. Turning up a brush filled gully he slowly and quietly made his way to a small clearing; looking down four hired guns were standing next to the unleaded gasoline tank. Jameson pushed the clicker; the explosions rocked the compound sending concrete and bricks flying in every direction; smoke poured into the sky.

Jameson found a hidden spot under heavy brush overlooking the remains of the compound; smoke boiled up from nearly every building and the mine shaft entrance. People moved in quick runs expecting killing shots to rain down on them from any direction. Pulling out his thermal blanket and using his sleeping bag as a pillow he laid down for a nap; it was going to be hours before his next targets arrived.

Waking from the beat of rotor blades Jameson could see the helicopter swing around and land on the far side of the compound hidden behind one of the buildings that remained standing. From his perch on the hillside he looked directly down on the main office area; spreading his sniper blanket in front of him he covered the loose dirt protecting the ground from the muzzle blasts keeping the dust from flying up showing his hide. It was a short wait; no one expected an attacker to stick around after leveling a compete compound; Jameson laid out the tools of his trade.

Coming from around the far side of the main office building was a group of eleven people; the most important leading the group with lesser members trailing in the classic example of who’s who in a entourage of important people. From three hundred and fifty yards looking through the high powered scope Jameson could read their lips; body language and arm waving showed the level of anger the top bosses were displaying to the lesser managers. Hired guns surrounded the group trying to look dangerous but failing in every sense of the word.

Jameson lowered the cross hairs placing them on the crime bosses right temple; waiting for just the right moment the boss and his number one lieutenant lined up perfectly; sending the round down field at thirty seven hundred feet per second the heavy bullet hit the crime boss just behind his sunglasses splitting the right bow exiting the left side of his head the bullet continued the two feet hitting the lieutenant in the right temple exploding his head like a ripe melon. Both men dropped in a heap at the others feet in mid sentence. Sending two quick forty millimeter mortar rounds from the lower tube on his rifle Jameson dropped them both left and right of the group knocking down at least seven into the dirt. Bringing the scope to his eye he followed escaping hired guns putting one round on each as they tried to escape the killing field. “Five” Jameson whispered to himself.

Moving farther up on the hill side Jameson found a bushy area overlooking any number of routes from the heavy timber leading back to the compound area. He didn’t have to wait long as five armed hired guns moved quickly down an established trail heading back to the diamond mine. Silencer still in place Jameson rested the heavy rifle on its bipod legs following the last gun man in the line with the scope cross hairs steady on the man’s head; man after man dropped quietly in his tracks as the silenced rounds found their mark. “Zero" Jameson wondered. He preferred to leave at least one or two to report back that all the others had been killed; it sent the message clearer than just no one ever returning. He’d have to hope he’d missed finding at least one.

Moving south along the steepening hill side Jameson found the spot he was looking for; calculating the shots would be in the neighborhood of fifteen hundred yards he studied the winds between him and the sitting helicopter on the distant pad. Using his shot calculator Jameson came up with the numbers. Digging into the heavy back pack he found the incendiary rounds for the rifle; pushing them into the magazine he made a personal bet on how many rounds it would take to get the job done. “Three” was his bet.

Scope on full power he held high and three clicks to the left adjusting for the wind between him and the chopper. He could see the emblem on the side of the chopper “DBI Mining” in nice bold letters.

Sending the first round he studied the vapor trail as it flew towards the sitting chopper; hitting just three feet forward of his aim spot the incendiary round exploded the rear window sending sparks flying in every direction. Following up with a second round before the winds changed Jameson made a very slight adjustment and sent the second round.

The two second flight time the bullet pierced the thin skin and disintegrated inside the left fuel tank; the helicopter exploded in a flash of flames; seconds later the whoosh of the explosion reached Jameson. Pulling the Iphone from his breast pocket he sent the text “Pickup; ready” Thirty seconds later came the reply with time and coordinates.

Checking his map Jameson had some hard hiking to do to make the pickup point in time.

High Forks, Alaska got their town back; six days of funerals followed a time to rebuild their community; the crime organization that caused so much pain was taken over by a rival gang after killing most of its members. DBI mining closed for good; High Forks bought the mining rights for pennies on the dollar setting up a steady income for the city and good jobs for its people. Jim Parker ran for Mayor and was elected in a landslide that November.

Jameson code named “Sweeper” caught his pickup and disappeared into the night heading for his next assignment.

From the Ramblings



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