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Month Seven: Cade - The Detail


Jager

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It was ten past one as Michael Paul Alistaire watched his charge move across the University Commons. Cinder, his principles codename, was talking to three of her fellow students and moving slowly toward her Early American History class. She had ten more minutes to cover the distance, so there was no big hurry. Michael again scanned the area. The other agents of the detail were spread out in their standard pattern. SSSA Donna Phillips meandered five meters in front of Cinder, looking out for any unusual activity along their path. SSSA Dawn Vandenberg was to the right, about three meters away from Cinder. She was scanning Ashton Hall which the group was paralleling. SSSA Brenda Taylor had the street-side. She was watching the traffic patterns as well as looking for any suspicious parked vehicles on the street that formed the left side of the rectangle they were crossing. Senior SSSA Alistaire had rearguard. About five meters behind Cinder, not only making sure no one suspicious was tailing the Detail, but also backing up the rest of the team.

There were three difficulties with this assignment. First off, the President’s daughter, Patricia Dalton, Codename Cinder, was an attractive nineteen year old on a campus with a 62% male population. Boys naturally looked her way. The Detail naturally noticed people looking at their principle. This made for a thousand and one distractions.

Difficulty two was the very fact that this was a University, with literally thousands of students moving in all kinds of directions, plus tall building, trees, constant traffic. There was simply too much visual and auditory information for any four-person team to take in. They had to make snap judgments on which movements and sounds they would ignore, which person looking Cinder’s way was just a gawkier, not a stalker, and which opening window was some student or faculty member clearing the air in a room, and not a shooter. Added to that was the fact they were in New England in October. Everyone wore a coat or jacket of some kind, as well as some kind of electronic appliance in their ear and a backpack over one shoulder.

Third on the list was the routine of it all. They were in week five of the semester. Though Cinder’s scheduled changed day to day each week, it was still the same buildings, streets, and student body. It was difficult to not become complacent. The team rotated positions on a regular basis. They knew all the cubby holes and blind spots by heart. There were not security warnings, no threats, and the world actually seemed relatively quiet for once. They did their job and did it well. Of course, today would be very different.

Michael noticed something at his eight o’clock. Some people running across the street. Something in the back of his mind screamed ‘Gun’ and he began spinning. In the same instant, Brenda caught the movement of two ‘students’ coming toward her. They were acting disciplined and were in a hurry. As the two students’ began opening their jackets, she went for her pistol. Donna caught the movement from Brenda and turned around. She had to back Brenda’s play as well as get the principle to the ground. What she failed to catch was the girl coming toward her, pulling out a mini-Uzi. Dawn also caught the movement. She was the team’s best shot and closest to Cinder, as she drew her piece, she shouted “Foxtrot” into her communicator. Foxtrot was the codeword for an assault on Cinder’s team and went to the Response Team three blocks away.

Michael backed up a three steps, drew out is .40 S&W and focused in on the assailants coming across the street. Two men, with black ski masks, and AK-74’s, are running to the cover of the street vehicles. Michael caught the second man before he made it. A headshot and the man went spinning to the ground. The first one made it to a van and was drawing a bead on him.

Brenda outdrew the two men coming right at her. They had Uzi’s, while she had her own .40. She shot the first man in the chest, knocking him down. The second man she took through the chest right above the sternum. This man was dead before he hit the ground. The problem was that both men had body armor. While she had bypassed the second man’s protection, the first man was still active, even if he was falling. His Uzi sprayed up from waist high, arching up. Three bullets hit Brenda, taking her in the stomach, right lung and right shoulder. Brenda’s body armor took the first two hits and sent her sprawling backwards. The third bullet rendered her shooting arm useless and caused her to lose her sidearm as she fell.

Donna caught the action around Brenda as she sprinted toward Cinder. She drew a bead on the man Brenda had downed, but not killed. Right before she pulled the trigger, pain ripped through her calves and thighs. The girl behind her was hosing her down were she knew the Secret Service Agent wasn’t armored. As the girl swung up to shoot Donna in the head, her own head exploded.

That shot came from Dawn, who was also closing in on Cinder. One shot, on the run, was what she had trained for. Dawn was screaming at Cinder “Down, down!” She also noted Michael’s shot, though she couldn’t tell who, or what, he was shooting at with only a glance. What she didn’t see was the four armed men storming out of Ashton Hall at her back.

Cinder and the girls around her were just starting to realize that something was wrong, though they didn’t know what. Even as the echoes of the first shots reached them, they didn’t know what those popping sounds were. The girl closest to Brenda felt something breeze past her head, but didn’t understand she had come within a few centimeters of being dead.

The shooter at the van took aim and fired. Michael was going down on one knee and taking his own aim. Michael’s shot took the shooter through his left eye and blew off the left quarter of his head. The shooter’s shot took Brenda under her left arm and entered her chest cavity at over 500 meters per second. Caught between her front and back ballistic armor, the .5.56 round bounced around her insides until stopping in her right lung.

As the first man began to sit up, Dawn took him in the upper chest with a double-tap. Both shots were just above the body armor. A quick assessment of the situation told her she that something was terribly wrong with this situation. Dawn realized there had to be gunmen behind her, but her first duty was to Cinder. Dawn tackled Cinder and bore her (and two of her friends) to the ground.

The three of the four gunmen coming out of Ashton Hall began firing on the run. The fourth stopped and took aim at the wounded Donna. A three round burst took Donna in the upper thigh, hip, and buttocks, shattering her pelvic region into so much bone splinters, broken blood vessels, and shattered tissue. Gunmen Three and Two hip-fired at Dawn. Three missed Dawn but put three rounds into the torso of Cinder’s standing friend. Two’s shots were more accurate, taking her in the back and shoulder and into her life-saving armor. The third shot, though, took her right below the ear and came out right beneath her right eye. Gunman One, also shooting from the hip and on the run took aim at Michael. Fate intervened. Two students, slightly more aware of the danger they were in, ran away from Cinder … and into the path of Gunman One’s fire. One bullet took the front-runner in the stomach, but the other two shots made a mess of his backpack.

Michael turned and began racing toward Cinder. His senses soaked in the scene. Brenda and Dawn were down. Donna was screaming in pain and shock. Four gunmen had emerged from Ashton Hall and were firing at him and the principle. Gunman One was trying to track Michael as he ran, so Michael rewarded him with a .40 slug in the left hip. Tracking his fire from there, Michael brought Gunman Two and Three into his sights. He squeezed off two more shots. Two’s head ballooned out as Michael put a bullet through his cheek, but the other round merely clipped Three’s shoulder.

Cinder began screaming. She tried to sit up, but then she saw Dawn’s face, or what was left of if. Dawn was dead and the impact of someone she knew being shot terrified her. Oddly enough, the other two girls with her found the wisdom of lying flat on the ground and stayed put.

Gunman One saw two of his company flop down, probably dead. Three was on the ground, but his gun was pointing in the general direction of the target. One spotted the remaining agent and fired off a burst. Michael took one in the thigh and another in the groin, which was thankfully armored. Michael stumbled but came on.

From Michael’s viewpoint, it was now two-to-one odds. He was wounded, with a pistol. They were untouched and had assault rifles. They had paramilitary training, while he was one of the Secret Services best field agents. Good enough to draw the Presidential Protection Detail. A cold rage began building up in Michael; he belonged here; Cinder was counting on him to protect her; and these fuckers had killed his friends.

Michael’s first action was to leap onto Cinder, pressing her down on the sidewalk with his back. He also snapped off two more shots at Gunman Three at the same time Three fired at him. Three’s bullet’s took Michael in the stomach, left breast, and left shoulder. In a detached manner, Michael realized that his left collarbone was shattered. Michael’s bullets took Three in the back (armored) and on the bridge of Three’s nose, ending that man’s life.

One was also firing at Michael, and Michael took a grazing wound to his left hand, another in the stomach, and the last bullet in his right forearm. The bone was shattered and the shock attempted to render Michael unconscious. His rage sustained him. Michael’s .40 S&W fell from his useless hand, though leaving him little in the way of staying alive.

This was the point were Michael’s extensive training and dedication to his craft came into his own. Michael knew he could never reach his ankle piece, but he instantly noted that he was lying halfway across Agent Vandenberg’s body. He swung his left hand around to her ankle gun, a small .22 Beretta, while cradling his left arm with his right elbow. For an instance, Gunman One thought he had already one. The last agent was wounded and down, without a firearm. He moved forward rapidly toward the target and let his eyes flicker up for a moment to the street. Gunman One smiled as he saw the getaway van pull up and another member slide the van door open. When he flicked his eyes back down, Gunman One was looking down the barrel of a .22.

Michael squeezed off two shots into Gunman One’s head and watched him spiral back away and fall down. The pain was seeping through Michael’s resolve, but he knew his job wasn’t over yet. He had to get Cinder to some kind of cover.

“Come on, Cinder,” Michael rasped. “We’ve got to get you to some kind of cover.”

Michael drew Cinder up, keeping his weight on his unwounded leg. As he did, Michael saw the van and the man kneeling in its open doorway ... and that man’s gun. Michael had just enough time to put Cinder behind him as the man opened up. The gun’s rounds took him square in the chest, slamming him to the ground. His sole conciliation was that Cinder was beneath him, still safe.

Michael tried to raise up the .22 in his left hand through the pain of his shattered collarbone. The guy in the van was out and running at him. Michael took his chances and began firing. The guy opened fire, too. Michael felt pain in his chest, neck, and ear. The world started graying out and the pain faded. Michael took aim at the blur coming at him and fired until his gun was empty then the world went dark.

Michael woke up in the hospital. He felt numb all over, which was probably a good thing. His left side was in a shoulder cast and his right arm was in a cast from his wrist to the elbow. Under the sheets, there was a bulge were had taken the bullet in the leg, but at least he still had a leg. None of that really mattered to Michael, though. He rang the buzzer for the nurse. The wait was interminable.

The nurse came in with a big smile her face. Before she could speak, Michael asked, “What happened to Cin … Ms. Dalton.”

The nurse’s smile grew even bigger.

“Settle down, hero,” the nurse said. “You saved her. You and agent Vandenberg took down the last terrorist and the police caught the getaway van’s driver two blocks away. The President himself was here earlier. I think you are going to get a medal of some kind.”

Michael barely heard most of what she said after the “You saved her”. What mattered most to him was that Cinder was still alive. His team had done their jobs and saved her life. With that, Michael fell back into a deep, peaceful sleep.

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