Skip to comments.Terror at Foothill Mall: Excerpt from Trodden Under, Volume Two of Jeff Head's Dragon's Fury Series
Posted on 03/11/2002 9:40:20 AM PST by Jeff Head
Excerpt From Chapter One of Dragon's Fury - Trodden Under
Volume Two in the Dragon's Fury Series by JeffHead
Copyright 2002 by Jeff Head, All rights reserved
March 20, 2006, 17:55 MST
Outside of Foothill Mall
As Sandy walked out to her car with her three children she couldn't help but notice the chill in the air. The weatherman had forecast dropping temperatures and perhaps a late winter/early spring snowstorm for later tonight and tomorrow, and it looked like they might be right. No matter, her shopping was complete for Troy's, birthday tomorrow and he had decided to take the day off. What a wonderful day it would be, enjoying his celebration there at home with their three young children. The kids would be so happy that "Daddy" was home.
She was glad that he would be home too. She knew that the conditions that America faced were grave, but they seemed far removed from them here in the outskirts of Denver at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Just the same, it was frightening and she knew people on the eastern seaboard who had seen the fire and destruction of some of those attacks a few days ago who personally knew people who had been killed. She and Troy had watched the news reports in sober contemplation. They had witnessed one of the consequences of the new wat here in Denver with the increased security around the Capitol building and the airport.
"Apparently they are extending it a bit even out here in the suburbs," she thought as she exited the mall parking lot on the east side, away from the mountains and passed two military camouflaged HUMMV's that were pulling into the parking lot as she left.
"I've never seen the National Guard out here," she thought as she crossed onto Pearle Avenue that would take her to the highway and to her subdivision a couple of miles to the north. "But I'm glad they aren't taking any chances," she said out loud as she looked into her rearview mirror and saw one of the vehicles pull across the entrance, blocking it as the first few flakes of snow blew in a brief flurry between her and that vehicle.
As she turned onto the entrance ramp to the freeway and lost sight of the mall, she didn't know at the time that she, along with a few other vehicles, were the last ones to leave the mall safely that afternoon.
March 20, 2006, 17:59 MST
Outside of Foothill Mall
Manuel wished he could have interdicted that last vehicle that had just left the parking lot. The more of theses soft and fat Americans he could catch the better. But, he was disciplined and knew what the mission parameters were and would do nothing to risk the mission with any premature "antics". No, the mission would kick off at precisely 1800 hours just as he had planned it with his team leaders, and would then proceed from there. They had twenty-one minutes before the helicopters would arrive and extract them, and they had to make the absolute most of every one of those minutes in executing the operation as planned.
Manuel figured he had the resources and the people to do so. Ten HUMMV's, all purchased separately over the last several months from various dealerships. All driven to Denver after their purchase and housed in large storage units where they were painted in camouflage that matched the local National Guard units. Each vehicle now contained five camouflaged and heavily armed men, each of whom knew their part to the tee.
One of those units, an ambush/blocking unit, was taking up position on the freeway in the median by the underpass. It would interdict the inevitable "support" that would be sent by local authorities. Another unit was doing the same one-quarter mile down Pearle in the opposite direction at the other major intersection that fed the mall on that side. Each of these units had one individual dedicated to a RPG launcher who would make use of the twenty weapons his vehicle carried. The man serving as backup to the RPG launcher would operate the stinger missiles each unit carried if necessary. The other three men provided security by way of two M-16 assault rifles and a 7.62 mm sniper rifle. The local authorities would have their hands full trying to get past these units to the mall, and that was the entire idea.
In the parking lot, Manuel watched as his accompanying unit pulled across the entry they had just used to enter the parking lot. The same thing was happening at all four parking lot entrances to the mall. These blocking forces would be used initially to contain the civilian vehicles inside the parking lot where they could be engaged. Later, if required, they would engage any enemy units that got past the initial ambush and blocking forces. Each of those four units contained a similar weapons composition as the units out on the freeway and down by the major intersection, except no sniper rifle was employed, the security personnel for these units all had M-16 assault rifles.
Manuel now proceeded towards the front of the mall and the primary entrance, converging with one of the other units proceeding towards the other entrance to the mall on this side. Two more units were converging on the backside of the mall, towards the two major entrances there. Manuel's unit, and all of the units converging on the mall itself contained a light, 5.56 mm machine gun, which one of his men was now mounting on the top of the HMMV through a hatch that had been cut into the top for that purpose. Each of these weapons had over 5,000 rounds in belt fed boxes on the floor of the HMMV to be used for suppression fire at the front of the mall and then later in the parking lot. The assault vehicles also contained another RPG launcher and three M-16 assault rifles with numerous grenades and a large satchel of C-4 plastic explosives.
As their vehicle pulled right up onto the sidewalk leading to the mall entrance and skid to a stop twenty feet from the doors, departing shoppers scrambled to get out of the way. Two of them, an elderly man and his grandson, were unsuccessful and were crushed as the vehicle skid over them. The backlit digits on Manuel's digital watch turned over to 1800. As it did, Manuel clicked the hand-held mic he carried twice to indicate that all units should commence as planned.
March 20, 2006, 18:00 MST
Main entrance to Foothill Mall
Officer Frank Acosta was on patrol duty in the front entryway to the mall this evening. He typically enjoyed duty at the mall as it rarely required more than the apprehension of an occasional shoplifter or the arbitration of youth arguments. As Manuel's vehicle slid to a stop outside the entrance, Frank noticed the movement out of the corner of his eye through the glass doors and turned to see what was happening. For an instant he was frozen as he saw what appeared to be a National Guard HMMV outside and two National Guardsmen jumping out of the vehicle with assault rifles. His right hand went to his holstered pistol and un-snapped the retainer. With his other hand he keyed his lapel mounted mic and said,
Almost immediately there was a response, "Go ahead, this is dispatch."
Frank began to respond, "Dispatch, Officer Acosta here, I've got a National Guard HMMV loaded for bear at the main mall entrance, two soldiers are ..."
... and then it all hit the fan.
Manuel's man on top of the HMMV began laying down suppressing machine gun fire directly through the glass doors, sweeping the weapon and steam of bullets across the entire mall entry hall. Immediately, there were the agonized screams of the wounded mixing with the screams of the terrified.
Frank's training kicked in and he instantly threw himself to the ground while pulling out his service pistol. He rolled towards an information kiosk for cover. He was trying to bring his weapon to bear on one of the men coming through the door. At the same time he again keyed his mic and, as he watched a fleeing young teenage girl fall to the floor in a limp and bloody heap as she was stitched across the back, he yelled into his mic.
"Officer needs assistance, automatic weapon fire at the front ... "
But that was as far as he got.
Manuel had noticed the officer dive to the floor and roll towards the kiosk as he came through a door off to Frank's left. While Frank was frantically trying to bring his pistol to bear on the man to his front, Manuel calmly fired a three round burst into Frank's side from fifty feet away. He then walked directly over to Frank's thrashing body, kicked the pistol away and fired another two rounds into Frank's head.
The initial attack was having the desired effect of driving the shoppers back into the mall. Manuel was sure that the same was occurring at the other three mall entrances as he heard the muted firing from those assaults. Manuel and his comrade quickly cleared the few small stores here in the entry way, killing all civilians left in the entryway itself and tossing hand grenades into each of the stores before entering them and doing the same to anyone they found alive.
Within ninety seconds, their entrance was cleared. A third man entered the entry hall with the C-4 while the machine gunner on the HMMV turned his concentration on the parking lot and sidewalks behind them. Moving carefully, with Manuel and the others providing cover up and down the main corridor of the mall, he moved toward the supporting columns at the end of the entry way and set the package next to one of them. Once there, Manuel came over next to him, knelt down and quickly keyed his hand held mic three times. Within fifteen seconds he had three single keys back, informing him that all three other teams had successfully cleared their entry halls and placed their charges. Manuel keyed his mic twice more, counted to three and then set the charge for forty seconds. He and his two men then quickly exited the mall, all the while watching the C-4 charge they had left next to the support column. At twenty-five seconds, they climbed back into their idling HMMV and the driver immediately backed out of the mall entrance and screeched to a halt in the parking lot some 200 feet away.
As Manuel's vehicle skid to a stop, a tremendous explosion rocked the front of the mall and a cloud of dust and smoke shot out of the entrance towards the parking lot. Debris rained down and a portion of the front of the two-story structure collapsed. Almost simultaneously, three similar explosions erupted from the other three entrances to the mall, with similar effects. Manuel looked at his watch ... 18:03.35.
"Three and a half minutes ... excellent," thought Manuel as his team now took up positions around their HMMV and amongst the vehicles surrounding it. They began to concentrate on anyone coming out of the emergency exits of the smoldering and now burning mall and any vehicles or persons near them, indiscriminately shooting them down and using the RPG 's to create burning infernos and hulks of occupied vehicles trying to escape. As they did, Manuel heard the first sirens approaching.
March 20, 2006, 18:04 MST
I-225 Overpass outside Foothill Mall
A lot of fire had been going on near the parking lot entrances and over towards the mall itself. Hernando could hear the intensity of the various team's firing as they concentrated on the vehicles making for the parking lot entrances, and as the assault teams cleared the entry halls in the mall. A few RPG explosions were heard as well, and then, just a moment ago, the tremendous explosions of the C-4 in the mall itself as all four charges went off within a second or two of each other. Smoke was now pouring out of the mall and the rate of fire was picking up again as the four assault teams now in the parking lot began targeting vehicles and people there and their rate of fire added to that of the units at the entrances to the mall parking lot.
"OK, compadres, any moment now and it will be our turn. Be ready." Hernando told his team as the sounds of approaching sirens were heard.
"Sounds like two or three over there on the other side of the mall and several coming up the freeway," thought Hernando as the sounds approached and he could discriminate where they were coming from.
As he thought this, he saw several flashing lights come around the curve in the freeway one half mile to the south and east of them. His orders were clear, engage the responding units as they pass on the exit ramp, do not announce your presence prematurely with a frontal attack ... ambush as many as possible before they stop to engage you.
Sure enough, here came four local police squad cars around that turn. Their dispatcher had routed them together as they responded to calls from security personnel and officers at the mall. In their rush to get to the mall and with the shadows under the overpass, they did not notice Hernando's team in the median under the bridge. All four turned off their lights and sirens as they took the exit. Hernando's RPG launcher was right next to Hernando tracking the lead vehicle, with the launcher extending over the hood of the HMMV. As that vehicle got about half way up the exit ramp, Hernando patted his man on the shoulder and an RPG round rocketed towards the lead car, just as the officer driving that vehicle, who was clearly visible, turned and stared wide eyed towards his impending doom and towards Hernando's team. As he raised his radio's microphone to his mouth, the PRG punched through the door and exploded, creating an instant explosive crematorium for that officer and his partner.
Hernando and the other security man immediately began raking the other three cars with their M-16's. One of these, the second in line, veered to avoid the raging wreck in front of him, caught the rear bumper of that vehicle as it careened off the roadway, and flipped right up onto its top, sliding down the embankment of the exit ramp and coming to rest no more than fifty yards from Hernando's team who poured fire into it for a second or two until it was clear that the two officers inside were dead. While this was happening, the RPG launcher had lined up on the last vehicle and fired another round. That vehicle had fish-tailed off the road and was just coming to rest with its back facing the ambush team when the RPG entered the trunk and exploded, sending the trunk lid spiraling wildly seventy-five feet into the air and creating another inferno inside that vehicle.
Within a few more seconds it was over. One officer in the last vehicle had gotten out of the wreck and returned a few rounds of ineffective pistol fire before being cut down by Hernando's sniper. All seven other officers were killed in their vehicles. While this was occurring, Hernando's RPG launcher and the other security man had successfully engaged an Ambulance and a Fire Truck that were responding to calls from the mall. They were following several hundred yards behind the police cars. Those two vehicles were now burning hulks, their occupants either dead or dying, and the smoke from their wreckage now adding to that of the police cars.
With this action, Hernando's team began engaging, indiscriminately, every vehicle on the freeway. Very quickly, for hundreds of yards in either direction of the overpass, the freeway became littered with destroyed and burning vehicles, and the bodies of their occupants.
March 20, 2006, 18:08 MST
On I-225 southeast of Foothill Mall
Lieutenant Gary Douglas was getting more alarmed by the moment. The radio traffic was filled with short-lived, frantic cries for assistance and calls of "officer down". He could clearly see the huge cloud of smoke billowing from the vicinity of the mall over the top of the berm along the side of the freeway as they started around the sweeping curve that led to the exit off the freeway to the mall. There was also smoke rising from the vicinity of the freeway itself where he knew those four local cars had last been heard of over near the exit. The hairs stood up on the back of his neck as that thought sunk in.
"Pull it over Charlie, pull it over in the ditch right now!"
Deputy Charles Duncan pulled their Tahoe over and rapidly came to a halt as the other two Sheriff's Deputy vehicles with them followed their lead. Lieutenant Douglas grabbed the binoculars he kept in the glove compartment and the Rueger Mini-14 rifle from the rack in the back as he got out.
"Lieutenant, why are we stopping here?" one of the other deputies asked as he got out of his vehicle and hurried over to the Lieutenant's side.
"Doyle, take a look at that smoke coming off the freeway there around the bend. A few moments ago four squad cars went barreling around that corner towards the mall ... and no one has heard from them since. Tell the others to set up a perimeter right here clear across the freeway. Stop all traffic here. Then, you come along and catch up with me and lets do a little recon," answered Douglas, "just make sure you stay low for God's sake."
Lieutenant Douglas kept low to the earth on the side of the berm as he made his way forward about a hundred yards. Finally, he reached a point where he could just see around the bend to the exit ramp. What greeted him was a scene of destruction and carnage. Another hundred yards in front of him was the burning wreckage of the Fire Truck. Beyond that were several wrecked and burning cars and over on the exit ramp were the burning remains of the police cars. There were a number of bodies strewn over the median and up the sides of the freeway where people had tried to escape. A few people were still moving behind vehicles. One noticed him and began waiving frantically to him for help. Shots rang out and that individual slumped over and fell to the ground. This caused the Lieutenant to notice the camouflaged HMMV down by the underpass, less than a half mile away, from where the fire was coming from. He also noticed he was in their line of sight.
Immediately he realized he needed to move back a few hundred feet so he had the side of the berm marking the curve on the freeway between him and the individuals by the underpass. Slowly and quietly he did so. When he was within thirty feet of his objective, his friend and fellow county deputy, Doyle, came into the line of fire from around the curve. The Lieutenant quickly made hand motions for Doyle to get down and to go back, but it was too late.
Back by the underpass, Hernando was attracted to movement beyond the burning Fire Truck. He saw what looked like a State Patrolman moving there, just coming around the bend.
"Rodrigo, there, beyond the Fire Truck." he yelled to his sniper as he also noticed the other officer, a little closer to them and very low to the ground moving away.
Rodrigo turned, sighted in on the first officer who was beginning to crouch down and fired.
Gary Douglas heard the small "SNAP" as a bullet passed by him at supersonic speed. He heard the audible "SPLAT" as that bullet impacted and watched as his friend fell backward and hit the ground.
"Crap!" exclaimed Gary as he dodged and weaved the thirty feet to his friend.
Another bullet passed near him, and then another, the audible "crack" of the rifle following hard on the heels of the bullet's passage. He picked Doyle up by the collar and dragged him around the bend far enough to be out of the line of fire. He noticed the trail of blood from his friend as he sat him down and quickly ripped open his shirt and removed the kevlar vest that had been punched through by the high velocity bullet. As he applied compression to the wound high on Doyle's left breast, he keyed his mic.
"Dispatch, officer down on I-225 approximately one half mile east of the exit ramp! Need medical assistance immediately. Setting up perimeter here, we cannot get to the mall. We have several tango's at the underpass of I-225 and Pearle. See if Air-1 can get a look at these people."
"Acknowledged, will advise all units. Backup units, EMT and the Sheriff are all converging on your location. Air-1 will be over your location in thirty seconds. I will divert him to make a pass over the underpass. Dispatch out."
Gary could hear the helicopter now as another two deputies came up and one of them took over for him on Doyle's wound. Looking up and around, he located the Sheriff's office helicopter as it came in at about 1000 feet.
"Air-1, this is Lieutenant Douglas, what can you tell me about those tango's under the bridge."
"This is Air-1, we've got them, there appear to be four or five ... my God! one of them just fired what looks like an RPG at a civilian vehicle approaching from the north. Ah, they've destroyed that vehicle. ... Okay, we're back on the tango's ... clearly four of them ... no, there's a fifth coming out from behind that HMMV ... wait! he's got a ... hold! ... we're going to be busy here."
Douglas had scurried on his stomach over to where he could get a line of site on the underpass. As he did, there was a loud "WHOOSH" and a cloud of backwash smoke billowed out from the underpass. A small missile rapidly rose from that position to Air-1 and impacted the engine of the helicopter. The helicopter immediately lost power and began to gyrate and oscillate widely as it fell, burning.
"Mayday, mayday. This is Air-1, we're going down ..."
The transmission cut off as Air-1 impacted into a subdivision across the freeway producing a brilliant fireball that rose into the sky on that side of the freeway.
"Dispatch, Douglas here. The tango's just shot down Air-1! Advise all air units to stay well clear. They used some kind of shoulder-fired missile. We're going to need heavy support here to move these guys, I repeat, heavy support."
With that, the Lieutenant and two of his deputies began using their Rueger Mini-14 rifles to trade fire with Hernando's men.
March 20, 2006, 18:13 MST
Orchard Subdivision, Near Foothill Mall
Eldon Hightower ran to the berm. There were five of his friends with him. All of them were armed with their hunting rifles. A Sheriff's helicopter had just been shot down and crashed burning into the Orchard Subdivision off of Pearle and across I-225 from the mall, his subdivision. He took just a second to look back and be sure that it had crashed well clear of his own home and family.
Eldon had been in his backyard staking out the location of a new sprinkler system he planned to put in this summer when all of the shooting and explosions had started taking place over by the mall. Upon hearing all of the firing, he had first run to the berm overlooking the freeway just in time to see the attack on the initial responding squad cars from the HMMV under the overpass.
Eldon had not hesitated. He had served as a Ranger in the Army for eight years. He ran home and grabbed his hunting rifle, a Savage .308 with a 4X12 scope. As he ran to his house, and as he returned, he had called out to friends and neighbors who were also coming out of their homes to see what was going on.
"Terrorists are attacking the mall!" he'd cried, "get your rifles, they're taking out the police on the freeway as they arrive. They need our help!"
Many who heard Eldon quickly ran back into their houses and began calling the police themselves, adding pressure and traffic to an already tied up circuit. But several others had done just what Eldon suggested, and had in turn, as they dashed towards their homes, called to others to do the same. Wives and children were fearfully asking what was going on as husbands and older brothers ran into their homes, grabbed their hunting and assault rifles and handfuls or boxes of cartridges and ran out their doors.
Now, Eldon and five others were the first to arrive back at the berm, take up positions along it, and begin firing on Hernando's men under the bridge just as Lieutenant Douglas and his deputies opened fire from up the highway. Behind Eldon and these five, another ten or twelve men would be arriving within a few seconds, and a lot more were coming behind them.
"Stay low to this berm. Fire your rifle and then roll over a few feet before firing again. Shoot at the nuzzle flashes from their weapons and at that HMMV. If we provide enough support and cover fire, the officers down there, and hopefully the Guard, will be able to take these suckers out."
Eldon had lived in the suburbs of Denver for ten years. He had moved here and taken a job after getting out of the service because he figured it was the right mix of good work and proximity to the hunting and fishing which he enjoyed. It had never disappointed him in either regard. Even though Denver was a growing high-tech and cosmopolitan community, it was still a big city on the edge of the Rocky Mountains and a lot of hunters like Eldon lived here. And each of them had a high-powered rifle similar to the one Rodrigo was using over at the underpass ... and they all knew how to use them. Others simply enjoyed exercising their 2nd amendment rights on weekends at shooting ranges. Either for fun, or for matches, these individuals were also proficient shots.
Now, here in Denver, from across I-225 near the Foothill Mall, like in Idaho a few days before, the real purpose of the 2nd amendment to the U.S. Constitution regarding the people's right to bear arms became clear once again. Soon, a tremendous volume of fire was being directed at Hernando's men by the underpass from the berm near the subdivision.
March 20, 2006, 18:16 MST
I-225 underpass outside Foothill Mall
It was time to go. Hernando knew that in a few short minutes, the helicopters would be coming to extract them all. The trouble was, Hernando and his two remaining men were completely pinned down and incapable of "going" anywhere. For the last two or three minutes, the amount of fire being directed at them had increased tremendously. Some was coming from the officers down the freeway where he was sure the local authorities were gathering their forces to try and push past him. But that was the plan, and he had believed he could handle that until he had to leave.
No, what was pinning him down and had killed Rodrigo and his RPG launcher was the increasing fire coming from the direction of the berm over by that subdivision. It had started right after they had shot the small helicopter down. Sporadic at first, it had grown to a fevered pitch very quickly and had now incapacitated their HMMV, their ride out of here. They had fired many RPG's in the last few minutes towards that berm in an effort to break up the volume of fire. Hernando was sure they had killed a number of those people over there ... but the rate of fire and the numbers of people didn't diminish, they both just kept increasing. He was sure there were no less than a hundred people over there firing on him now.
"Where in Diablo's Hades did they all come from?" he muttered to himself as he clicked his microphone three times in quick succession, and then repeated that signal four times to inform Manuel that his team was in deep trouble. "How could they mobilize such a large force so quickly?"
He heard the unmistakable "thud" of a hit to the body behind him and turned in time to see his backup RPG launcher, the man who had shot the helicopter down, fall back with a bloody, puckery hole in the center of his forehead. Crouching low, he moved to the support pillar for the underpass behind their HMMV where his last man was still firing. This man was wounded in the thigh and had applied a tourniquet to slow the bleeding. As he tried to take cover, Hernando felt a stiff "tug" at his shoulder and fell down. When he tried to move, he noticed the blood pouring down his shirt from high on his shoulder. His collarbone was shattered and he knew that the pain would soon set in. The bullets were coming more rapidly now, scores of bullets impacting all around them.
Hernando reached with his good hand and pulled out his electronic transmitter. It was meant to be used when they departed in the helicopters, to activate a demolition charge of C-4 in their HMMV and destroy it in an attempt to insure their security. Each team had one. Now, Hernando knew he was going to have to use his before the helicopters ever got there.
Talking to his last remaining team member, Hernando said, "My friend, we have done all we could. These gringos didn't get past us eh? We took out a lot of them too. That helicopter of theirs going down was a sight to see! But, I am afraid we are not going to make it. What do you think? Should we go out together in a last flash of glory?"
Hernando noticed that no more weapons fire was coming from his friend. Turning his head to look toward his last man's position, Hernando was greeted only by the flat, vacant stare of the dead
"Such a shame ... such a fine young man," thought Hernando. That was his last conscience thought as he pressed the button on his transmitter and his mortal world ended in a hot, fiery flash, not unlike those his team had been dealing out to others over the last ten to twelve minutes.
March 20, 2006, 18:20 MST
Parking Lot of Foothill Mall
Over in the parking lot of the mall, in front of the now ruined main entrance, Manuel heard the four Bell Ranger helicopters approaching. That sound diverted his attention from the rising cloud of smoke he had just seen mushroom up from the direction of the overpass on the freeway. He had heard the signal from Hernando indicating he was in trouble and unable to comply with the egress. That had been followed less than thirty seconds later by the explosion Manuel recognized as the self-destruction of Hernando's blocking team HMMV.
"That was an incredible volume of fire over there from calibers and weapons of all sorts," thought Manuel, "too bad Hernando my friend, you will be missed, you were one of the best," was all Manuel could allow in passing for his friend and comrade in arms at this point. If he survived, there would be time enough later to properly mourn the loss.
Manuel had received similar signals from the blocking team on the other side of the mall, and from the parking lot entrance team closest to that location. Those had occurred one after the other just before Hernando's signal and there had been no other word from them, just a lot of firing, some RPG and other explosions and then nothing. Manuel assumed the worse. Through those signals, and through those sounds, Manuel had tracked his enemy's movements towards him.
Manuel ran over the figures in his head, "Three teams unaccounted for and probably down. Two teams on the other side of the mall still fully engaged and unable to break-off and withdraw. Four teams now converging on this position."
He had cleared an area for the helicopters to land and established a final perimeter for defense for when they loaded. Manuel had already keyed a code to the helicopters waiving one off ... there would be no one to board it anyway and it was senseless to bring it down in such circumstances. Manuel knew it would be far better to use that last helicopter as his eyes above the fray.
Then the other three helicopters were landing and men were boarding their designated aircraft. Each of the helicopters had been painstakingly painted to match local TV station helicopters in color and even in designation numbers. Each of them had been legally purchased over the last five years by legitimate "front" firms, financed through multiple "blind" accounts that were the mastermind of financial personnel in the employ of Hector Ortiz's aging statesman friend. Tracking those accounts back to their real source would prove impossible. Each of the helicopters had been reported "stolen" by their "legitimate" owners the day of the attacks on March 15th. The confusion and massive amount of investigative work required for the attacks themselves had hampered sufficient attention being directed at these individual thefts to tie them together in time.
Now, as they loaded, Manuel and five others provided the final security and directed several bursts of fire at approaching Sheriff's vehicles, squad cars and a couple of national Guard HUMMV's that were now entering the parking lot on this side of the mall and trying to converge on his position. When he felt he had gotten their attention and they stopped and took cover, he motioned to his men and they all boarded the last helicopter, which immediately rose, at a very high rate of ascent into the air. Hernando carefully waited as several vehicles converged on his HUMMV's that had been left behind. When the first three vehicles pulled up to the HUMMV's and men with assault rifles began to pour out, he pressed all of the self-destruct transmitters simultaneously. The resulting explosions caught these three vehicles and their occupants inside the blast radius and caused the others to stop and take cover at a safe distance.
"That should hold them up for another few minutes," he thought. "At least until they get their EOD people in to check out the wreckage. By then, we will be far away from here."
Manuel keyed in the last order on his mic and all four helicopters, flying at just over one thousand feet towards the west, immediately split apart and dropped below five hundred feet. They then embarked on their own separate, weaving and diverging paths to the northwest, west and southwest towards the mountains and their separately planned escape routes.
March 20, 2006, 18:21 MST
25,000 ft and ten miles west of Foothill Mall
"Sky-watch, this is Bolt-cutter, I have four tango's diverging and heading for the mountains on the deck, dropping below angels one."
The flight of two F-15C aircraft had just taken up position to the west of the mall and well up into the overcast. They had been vectored there from their duty station covering the Denver International airport by their AWACS controller, Sky-watch. Each F-15C was armed with four sidewinder air-to-air heat seeking missiles and four Sparrow air-to-air radar guided missiles. Their rules of engagement (ROE) had been clearly communicated while in route. Let the tango's clear the subdivisions and then take them down at the first opportunity where their destruction would not harm innocent civilians on the ground. Bolt-cutter transmitted to Sky-watch.
"Sky-watch, Bolt-cutter will track and engage the two northern-most targets designated tango-1 and tango-2. Sword-man will track and engage the two southern most targets, designated tango-3 and tango-4. How do you copy?"
"Sky-watch copies four by four."
As the helicopters made there way towards the mountains and their desperate effort to use the steep, narrow canyons to help cover their escape, they began to approach landscape that was less and less inhabited. As they flew over steep foothills, or barren washes, where no dwellings were located, one by one they were each turned into twisted, burning and exploding masses of wrecked steel, wire, plastic, fiberglass and flesh by the missiles from Bolt-cutter and Sword-man.
Bolt-cutter had no problem destroying both tango-1 and tango-2, but was drawn a good distance off to the north while targeting and destroying tango-1, placing him out of range for shots in support of Swrod-man. Sword-man had to make a fairly wide swing to the south to target tango-4 when it came over terrain compatible with his ROE. After firing and destroying tango-4, he planned to circle back and take out tango-3. But tango-3's flight path kept it over inhabited terrain, right into one of the many canyons leading up into the mountains from the foothills. In fact, that canyon itself was heavily built up with some of the most expensive dwellings in the Denver metro- area, well up into the mountains. By keeping below the ridgelines on either side of the canyon, tango-3 disappeared from Sword-man's, Bolt-cutter's and Sky-watch's radar screen. In addition, they passed into heavier overcast, making visual tracking from the fighters above impossible.
This was no accident. Tango-3 was Manuel's helicopter and he had personally laid-out the flight plan to maintain there flight over inhabited territory right up into the mountains. Other teams had opted away from this, feeling that to do so would make it too easy for citizens to track their progress by site and sound for too long. Manuel had been less afraid of the civilians than he was of the AWACS and any American fighters that might interdict them in time, and he had urged the other team leaders to do likewise. But, the need to separate during their egress and the feeling of the other team leaders that a direct and quick flight to relatively rugged and uninhabited terrain was best had dictated otherwise
"To their destruction," thought Manuel as he noted the loss of each of the other helicopters. These local Americans, despite the surprise and destruction, had reacted quickly.
As Manuel's pilot gained a little altitude and dashed through a low divide, they passed out of the lavishly built-up canyon filled with expensive homes into a larger, but more rugged and less inhabited one. Staying just below the cloud level, they zigzagged and weaved between canyons along their escape route. With every passing minute, Manuel's planning was vindicated by the very lives of the seven men with him. They would be the only members of the attack on Foothill Mall to escape alive.
March 20, 2006, 18:45 MST
Parking Lot of Foothill Mall
Lieutenant Gary Douglas surveyed the scene in front of the main entrance to Foothill Mall. Between here and the battle out on the freeway, he had lost three deputies killed and another injured. Two of those deaths had occurred right there, where the remaining terrorists had left their Hummer's after boarding their helicopters and leaving. One of his vehicles had rushed to the scene as the helicopters took off to try and prevent their escape and see if there were any wounded that they could take into custody. In the rush and intensity of the moment, they had not even considered booby-traps. It had cost them their lives, along with three other officers from the local police department. It was not something any of them would soon forget when dealing with such attacks.
But, as bad and as heart wrenching and painful as those deaths were, they were nothing compared to the carnage in the mall or its parking lot, or out on the freeway or over at the major intersection on Pearle. Carnage that was almost impossible to comprehend here in suburban America ... unless you had experienced it yourself as the Lieutenant had done.
"These bastards came here to kill as many civilians as they could," he thought, "and they succeeded, my God they succeeded!"
There were twenty-three dead terrorists here around the mall, including the five that had been killed out on the freeway. Police officers and their second SWAT team (the first SWAT team had been ambushed over at the intersection on Pearle) had wounded and captured three more on the other side of the mall. Lieutenant Douglas was certain that they would not have killed many terrorists at all, and that they likely would not have captured a single one if those citizens in the subdivision and a number over at the intersection had not gotten involved and helped. The amount of fire that subdivision had rained down on the terrorists over on the freeway had prevented their escape and had saved deputies lives. Lieutenant Douglas was certain of it ... even if it had cost a number of those civilians their own lives in the process.
"God bless them and rest them," thought the Lieutenant, "it makes me proud to be an American."
He did not really want to know how many civilians had been butchered here in the parking lot, or in the mall, but it was his job just the same to find out. It looked to be several hundred dead, and an equal number injured. Quite a few people were coming out of the mall now, as the fire department fought the fires burning there and as it was clear that the danger of being shot down while trying to escape was past.
At least they had been able to prevent all of the terrorists from escaping here, and apparently the U.S. Air Force had gotten a lot more. As he reflected on this, the Lieutenant could not help but again reflect on the help rendered by those brave citizens. Those terrorists at the freeway and at the major intersection would have surely kept his men, the local police and the few National Guard who responded in time from disrupting their plans. Citizen involvement in this overwhelming circumstance was not something Lieutenant Douglas would ever forget.
From dispatch and from other officers and civilians over the last few minutes, it was now apparent that the attack here on Foothill Mall was not isolated. It was now all over the news networks that another mall south of Salt Lake City and the Los Angeles International Airport had also been attacked in similar fashion. The Lieutenant knew he did not have the time to worry about or consider that now, there were still too many people needing help here and too much work to be done before he could even consider finding out more about those attacks ... and before he did, when he was finally done here, he was going to go home and hold his wife and children for a long time.
Have finished Chapters One and Two of Volume Two, Trodden Under, they are currently being reviewed/edited and I am starting Chapter Three this week. This makes me about 20-25% complete with Volume Two which I plan to get published by the end of May.
Volume One, Breath of Fire, continues to be sold and marketed in the hopes some large publication house will pick it up.
As always, I look forward to FR comments and discussion. Thanks Jim for letting me keep people up to date.
They work in the darndest of places.
Here's the kind of things I do in the "weather" up here ....
It's ranked 50,000 something on Amazon.com. Looks like you are doing pretty good. I'll order a copy next week.
Order one and make the "signature" request in the instructions box. Also, be sure and put "Freerepublic" in that box so a donation will be made to FreeRepublic from your order.
I'll be happy to accomodate the signature, though for the life of me I don't know why anyone would want to mess up a perfectly good book with my John Hancock. LOL!
Actually, the answer to your question is a simple, no.
The reason is that I can work from any number of locations ... inside or out ... and do.
When it get up into the hundreds ... I'll figure it's cranking.
Anyhow, I look forward to your order and hearing what you think. Hope it's an enjoyable and thought provoking read for you.
And BUMP back.
... my point being - you need to get out of the 'bunker' more. This piece reads more like a nighmare than a 'novel' - perhaps that's your intent, a kind of militant Stephen King piece.
BTW - your 'radio traffic' looks VERY Hollywood-ish ...
You can use a credit card at Amazon, but then I can't sign it (no big loss there) and FR doesn't get a donation.
If the Form is not working, there must be some incompatibility with the browser. It works fine on mine, but I am IE on Windows ME. I'm just going to take out all of the "erorr checking" java code in that form and use the old Mark-4 Eyeball when I get the notification.
If you want to order through me, just send an email to me using this link with the info (full address, qty, instructions, etc.), including the "FreeRepublic" and request, and we can go that way. That's all the form does anyway is send me an email notification that a check is coming to the address on the order form. Then just mail in the check to that address on the order form.
Sorry for the inconvenience.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.