Chapter 1-4 can be found HERE.
Chapters 5-8 can be found HERE.
Chapters 9-12 can be found HERE.
Chapters 13-16 can be found HERE.
Chapters 17-19 can be found HERE.
Chapter 20 can be found HERE.
By E. J. D’Alise (Disperser)
Copyright 2004 – 2013
My shots were instinctive, taking out but the guy with the sword and the guy standing around, figuring the four men holding Guy and Vince would be slow to react. I was wrong. They all had some training, because they dove and rolled behind pews as my shots hit their marks.
One almost immediately came up with what looked like a Karasnikov. Bad news, as his bullets would easily go through most of the cover around me, while mine would likely be stopped or at least deflected by the pews. However, before he could shoot, the back of his head exploded out. He looked at me with a surprised expression for what seemed a long time, and then slid down and out of sight. Lucky for me Ed’s men were also good shots.
I ducked behind the altar as Ed’s men split up, and went to the sides of the church. As I leaned up against the altar, I hoped the minister had splurged for some good, solid marble. Three of the Cardinal’s men were still out there. By now, my adrenaline had kicked into high gear, and I was working with tunnel vision. All I could see was the spot where I last saw the Cardinal’s men hide. I sank down, took two quick breaths, and forced myself to calm down. My thoughts clearing, I peered around the altar. Those few seconds had helped, but now I had no idea where anyone was.
Shooting erupted half way down the church; shots exchanged from concealed positions. I could see a shoe sticking out from one of the pews, and that person was shooting toward the side of the church. I glanced over to see one of Ed’s men using a column for concealment. I put two bullets into the visible shoe. Someone yelled, and the shooting stopped for a second.
Something impacted the marble near my head, and a chunk of rock nearly took my eye out, hitting my cheekbone. I rolled back and instinctively checked my face. There was a little blood, but no serious damage. The shot had come from above, probably from the mezzanine where the organ was mounting a silent vigil on the carnage. My two companions would be covered by the overhangs, but I was a sitting duck.
“Most of your men are dead,” I yelled out. “Our reinforcements will be here in just a few minutes. Surrender, or we’ll give no quarter.”
There was no response. The church stood quiet, with only an occasional intake of breath, probably from the guy with the wounded foot. The seconds ticked by. Damn, I should have learned the names of the guys I came with. I could not very well yell out ‘Hey you, Ed’s men!’
A voice from above broke the silence. It was the guy from the mezzanine, and he sounded young. “I have all three of your guys in my sights, and if they move I’ll shoot them. I want you and your men to come out and put down your weapons. If you don’t, I’ll shoot them. You have five seconds. Four. Three. . . .”
“Listen up!” I yelled. For a shameful moment I had a passing thought the guy could take out Guy, leaving Toni all for me. It’s amazing the kind of garbage that passes unbidden through a person’s mind.
“You shoot them, and I can guarantee that when we capture you, it will take you a full 12 hours to die. Your screams will keep the town awake and give them nightmares for the rest of their lives. And if you happen to die before we get you, that will be the treatment for all the prisoners we now hold outside.” I took a deep breath and continued, “Got any friends out there? You now hold their fate in your hands.”
“DC? Need help in there?” Joshua’s voice came through the partially opened front door.
“Joshua,” I answered, “did you hear what I said?”
A brief hesitation, then a strong “Yes”.
I continued, “Those are my direct orders if I don’t survive. If this guy shoots any of us, I want the prisoners to regret ever having been born.”
With that, I took a deep breath, and stood from behind the altar. My gun was pointing to the floor at my side.
“Throw down your weapons, and you’ll all live through this.” Personally, up to this point, I had no plans for any of the soldiers to survive the day. But I was willing to trade their lives for the lives of our men. “I guarantee it.”
Seconds ticked by. I had located the muzzle of the shooter up in the mezzanine, and it was pointed in my direction. I just stared in his direction. The gun wavered, and then lifted. The guy stood, threw his weapon aside, and raised his arms.
“You heard him,” he yelled, “drop your weapons.” A few moments later, one other man stood with their hands up. Wounded foot just crawled out from behind the pew.
I hoped no one heard me release the breath I had been holding.
“Joshua. Bring some men in here.” Ed’s men were already advancing toward the prisoners, keeping them covered with their rifles. Two of Joshua’s team raced up to the mezzanine to escort the other one down. I put my gun down and ran to Vince and Guy. They staggered upright, so I bypassed them and reached the person on the floor. Ted had not moved throughout the whole ordeal. I turned him over, and examined him for wounds. I did not see any.
“They knocked him out when they rushed us.” Vince kneeled next to me. “The flash grenade blinded us, and we did not see them until they were on top of us.” I felt Ted’s head, locating a good sized bump on the back of his skull He’ll have quite a headache, and maybe a concussion, but he was alright. I laid his head down gently, and stood up.
Joshua was now standing next to me.
“Report?” I asked. I could not bring myself to ask about casualties, but Joshua knew what I was interested in.
“Five wounded, no dead.” I nodded in relief.
“And their side?” Joshua looked down at the two dead Cardinal’s men.
“It’s pretty bad out there DC. With these two, there are seventy-five confirmed dead; fourteen from the two patrols, and sixty one here in town. Our guys have never seen that many dead people at once.” He hesitated. “Some were young, and some were women.”
His voice was low, and he suddenly sounded like a tired soldier. All of our people wore somber faces, and some where ashen. For some, this was their first exposure to killing, and this could be considered a massacre.
Even Ed’s men were subdued, and they probably had more exposure to killing than any of my men. At that moment I felt proud of our group. Not so much for the killing, but because of their reaction to it. I did not want to serve with anyone that enjoyed taking another man’s life.
“How many prisoners?” I asked, as the guy from the mezzanine was brought to stand near the other two.
“Twelve, counting these three; six are wounded, and one probably won’t make it back to the compound for treatment.”
I nodded. “Did we get the sniper in the tower?”
Joshua looked uneasy. “Yes. She’s the one that is badly hurt.” He looked into my eyes. “DC, she’s no more than sixteen years old!”
With that the guy from the mezzanine moved forward, an action that nearly got him shot.
“That’s my sister!” he yelled.
“What’s your name?” I walked right up to him as I spoke. We stood no more than a foot apart as he answered.
“They call me BJ. My sister’s name is Claire, but everyone calls her Clay.” He swallowed, and then added. “Can I see her?”