Read A New World: Taken Online

Authors: John O'Brien

A New World: Taken (4 page)

I swing the nose around to the east keeping below the camp’s line of sight and far enough away that I believe the sound of our engines and rotor won’t be heard.
 
Hopping over various tree lines and buildings, we make our way around, looking ahead through the camera before our next hop.

“Whoa, what’s that?”
 
Greg says as we settle behind one particular line of trees.

I look down at the screen and see movement in a large clearing ahead in the distance.
 
Working with the zoom controls once again, I see people scattered across the field.
 
Some appear to be working on fields that have obviously been plowed while others seem to be working on structures in various states of construction.
 
The people, for the most part, appear unarmed with others standing around are obviously armed.
 
Yellow school buses dot the entrance.

“What’s that look like to you?”
 
I ask Greg.
 
I have my own ideas from years of experience in the field but perhaps my view is biased.

“Well, it could be that those standing around are keeping guard and a watch out for those working in the fields and buildings, but I would think they would be more on the perimeter if that were the case.
 
Instead, they seem to be focused inward so my best guess is they are guarding the people working.
 
Their stance and positions are more in line with people guarding prisoners,” he says after looking at the screen for a moment.

“That’s what I think as well.
 
That sort of fits in with the apparent attack on Gonzalez and the kids,” I reply.

“Yeah, it does fit in with the overall theme.
 
So do you think they’re capturing people to work on their farm or whatever it is up there?”
 
He asks.

“So it would seem,” I answer.
 
“Let’s work our way further south and east around this and come at the camp from the north.”

“Sounds good to me.
 
I count about twenty guards and at least fifty people working.
 
It’s hard to get an exact number from here,” Greg says.

“That’s about what I have.
 
It would be hard to assault with the guards inter-mixed the way they are,” I say edging the aircraft back after recording the scene.

“Yeah, there might be some collateral casualties depending on the guard’s reactions,” he replies.

“Let’s see what we can see from the other side and regroup,” I say hating to even voice those words.
 
I am wanting my kids back and to see how they are but know that this has to be played right.
 
Rushing in could make it much worse.
 
We swing further south and I relay the latest information to Lynn along with my thoughts.

“Okay, Jack, just don’t get it in your mind to go in and play hero,” she responds.

“No worries, we’re just going to get video and survey the camp,” I say.

“I know you, Jack, just make sure that’s all you do.
 
We’ll be standing by,” Lynn says.

Edging around the entire area, we come up on the camp from the north, stopping a distance out but where we can get an effective picture of the layout from the this side.
 
It looks pretty much like the south with towers and fencing.
 
The only difference is the fence’s closer proximity to the buildings as opposed to open fields on the south side.
 
I’m not sure how they are keeping the night runners away just using a chain link fence but they’ve survived this long so they must be doing something right.

Completing our surveillance, I circumvent the camp to the west wanting to get an overview of the entire surrounding region.
 
I’m pretty familiar with the area but I want to get a better picture and leave the recorder on as we pass by on our way back towards Lynn.
 
I feel very reluctant to leave and I have a knot in the pit of my stomach but I know it’s for the best.
 
Still leap-frogging along, I set the camera on thermal looking for any outriders from the camp remembering the movements I saw previously.
 
Nothing shows up but in the event they do have people watching the roads, I know back ways in to avoid them.
 
I let Lynn know we’re on our way back and eventually spot the heated outlines of the Humvees in the distance parked on a side road.

“Lynn, let’s regroup back at base, look at the footage, and go from there,” I say coming to a hover close by.

“Copy that,” she responds.
 
I see soldiers gather in the vehicles and turn back towards Olympia.

Greg and I are mostly silent on the quick flight back to Cabela’s.
 
My mind is racing through ideas and scenarios, keeping some and discarding others.
 
What I really want to do is sneak into the encampment and bring Gonzalez and the kids out.
 
I store that away.
 
I am eager to get back and get a plan underway.
 
My landing on the hard surface is indicative of my anxiousness as I compress both Greg’s and my spine with the firm landing.
 
Team members left behind to guard our sanctuary are gathered outside waiting to hear any news.
 
I’m sure they have been monitoring the radio but we didn’t really say much over it.

The rotor winds down slowly, far too slowly for my liking but they eventually come to a stop and I hop out.
 
I pull the tape from the Kiowa and walk to the crowd gathered.
 
Giving a quick synopsis of what we found, I stroll inside and gather several camp tables together in the middle of the first level.
 
I ask Bannerman for a laptop from the several he has acquired during team outings for supplies along with a VHS player we acquired from Fort Lewis.
 
Hooking up the player to the laptop, I plug the tape in and test it.
 
The imagery isn’t exactly like the high definition we had become used to in the last years before the change in the world but it is clear enough for what we need.

Greg and I, along with others looking in over our shoulders, begin to go through the recorded footage, waiting for Lynn and the other teams to arrive.
 
We begin mapping the encampment to the best of our ability on a large sheet of wrapping paper Bannerman procured.
 
Frank begins taking notes as we discuss the layout.

A surge of engine noises drift in through the open doors signaling the arrival of the other vehicles.
 
The faint sound of doors banging closed follows shortly thereafter.
 
Lynn and the other team leaders crowd around the small screen as the images are replayed numerous times.
 
The camp layout is eventually put down on the paper and plotted along with the outlying farm.
 
The farm, while looking through the images, has a similar chain link fence surrounding it.
 
There doesn’t appear to be any of the tower structures nor do any of the structures appear to be living quarters.
 
From the buses parked at the only entrance, it’s apparent they drive over to tend to the fields from the nearby high school.

“Well, thoughts?”
 
I ask after watching the video replays for about an hour.

“Looks like they have about thirty armed guards between the camp and the fields.
 
There may be more depending on whether they have shifts and a night watch,” Lynn says starting off our conversation and planning process.

“And those lights along the perimeter indicate that the camp is lit at night, assuming of course they are functional and have power,”
Drescoll
chimes in.

“I noticed the guards at the field weren’t paying too much attention to the perimeter but more focused on the people working.
 
But that is only from a moment’s observation,” Greg says.

“And all that is working with some basic assumptions, that they are treating the people as prisoners and using them like slave labor.
 
If our assumptions are incorrect, and I’m not saying they aren’t, then we could be making a big mistake,” Horace adds to the conversation.

“I think we’ll have to work with the assumption that they aren’t up to any good with the way they ran Gonzalez, Robert, Michelle, and Bri off the road.
 
But I could also be biased here,” I say in response.
 
My gut clenches with the thought of the kids still being held captive and being taken like that.

“I agree,” both Drescoll and Lynn say.

“Until we know otherwise, we’ll have to operate with what we know,” Lynn adds.

“Agreed.
 
I see very few options.
 
One, assault both places at once.
 
Two, assault the main compound and wait for the buses to arrive and take them as they come in.
 
Three, conduct a night assault on the compound.
 
Four, take the farm, then the compound and hope they don’t radio in advance.
 
We could use a jammer if we find their
freqs
and if they are using radios.
 
Five, infiltrate at night and either bring Gonzalez and the kids out or take everyone out.
 
Assuming they need rescuing that is.
 
Six, pull up and negotiate.
 
Or, we could do any combination of these.
 
It basically comes down to an assault, infiltrating, or talking to them,” I say.

“With the assault, we could consider the use of Bradleys or Strykers but that would up the risk to others around,” Lynn adds.

“I would love to go swooping in there and have it over and done with quickly but we don’t know what their reaction will be with the people they have.
 
I hesitate to use the word “captured” but that’s the only way I can think of it considering what happened on the road.
 
It would seem they capture others to use them for their slave labor,” I say.

“We can’t forget about the night runners.
 
That pretty much leaves night operations out of the question,” Franks adds rubbing his chin thoughtfully.

“True.
 
We don’t know what they’re doing about those.
 
Those fences won’t keep any night runners out for long, especially with the gaps between the towers,” I respond.

“How about using the M-110’s?
 
We could sneak up pretty close to the field, have teams take out those they can from a distance using the silenced 110’s, and then assault with frequency jammers in place,” Greg mentions.

“All great ideas.
 
Everything depends on what their reaction would be towards the assumed prisoners.
 
Will they turn their guns on them?
 
And there is also the variable of collateral casualties with a direct assault.
 
I think we should take a small team and observe to find patterns.
 
I think we’ll come up with a better plan if we take a closer look for a short time,” I say.

“So, what are you thinking then?
 
Take the helicopter and observe daily?”
 
Lynn asks.

“No, I was thinking more of taking a small team and observing.
 
I know a hill that overlooks that area with plenty of cover.
 
Plus, there’s a back way in so we can get into position without being observed.
 
I also want to know what the night runner activity is like at night and how they’re dealing with it,” I answer.

“And that small team wouldn’t happen to include you would it?”
 
Lynn asks knowing fully well that I intend to be a part but voicing her concern in a roundabout way.

“Um, yeah, I was thinking I would take Red Team to scout it out for however long and come up with a plan based on what we find,” I reply.
 
“Oh, and I’ll be taking Greg along.
 
I’d take you but we still need to get a lot done here before winter sets in.”

“Now why is that such a surprise?”
 
Lynn says with a grin.
 
And with that, our gathering breaks up.

I notify the rest of Red Team, giving them a synopsis of what happened and what our plan is.
 
We begin loading supplies in the back of the two Humvees we plan to take.
 
We would fit in one but two is better in case of a breakdown – two is one, one is none.
 
Plus, we’ll need room to stretch out as I don’t know how long our little excursion will take.
 
I am terribly anxious to get going and be there as if my proximity to the kids will help.

Finished with loading gear, Lynn, Bannerman, Frank, the team leaders and I gather.
 
The goal is to talk about our next phase hoping to secure long-term survival needs and prepare for the winter months.
 
We have plenty of MRE’s and food we’ve scavenged but we will still have to scavenge more from the darkened buildings if we are to make it through.
 
Water shouldn’t be a problem as long as we have power.
 
The sun won’t be as prevalent and with the days getting shorter, we’ll be relying more on the generator if the sunlight won’t keep the batteries charged through the solar panels.
 
We also need to begin building fencing for cattle and horses along with stables, barns, a greenhouse, chicken coops, and farming areas.

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