Chapter 12 - The Battle of Eagle Rock
Bingo pulled his Suzuki dirt bike up to the gate as the rest of the column caught up and began milling around behind him. He put the kick stand down and walked over to the keypad. He took off his night vision goggles and pulled out a mini-maglite to get a better look.
Jed jumped out of one of the 4X4’s and said, “So. You think that you can beat it?”
Bingo said, “Yeah probably. Most of these gadgets have four digits codes. Most people make them simple so they’ll remember. This pad has been here a while and the numbers 3, 6, 7 and 8 are worn. I’ll have it in a minute.”
* * *
Brian passed Jimmy on the way up the stairs. Jimmy was carrying one of the Bushmaster rifles and said, “Game time.” The old friends bumped fists as they headed to their posts.
He rushed into the study and saw the bikers milling around the gate. One of them was playing with the keypad and the security system had dutifully reported that an incorrect entry code had been entered at the main gate.
Brian quickly grabbed a blank DVD and put it in the drive. He clicked record in the software so that there would be a record of the events of the night.
He picked up the radio mike and keyed it, “Sierra Hotel, this is Eagle Rock. The raiders are at our gate. If you’ve got a plan, now is the time.”
“Eagle Rock, this is Sierra Hotel, two gunships and two Blackhawks just took off ETA 5 minutes to your site. Their call sign is Bouncer flight.”
“Eagle Rock, this is Bouncer Flight, we copy. We are on this channel.”
Brian replied, “Stand by. We are deploying to defend the site.”
Brian switched modes to the side channel the portable radios were on. “All stations report.”
The security system reported another failed entry code entered at the main gate.
The radio crackled, “This is Tom. The mines are hot. Jimmy and I are buttoned up in the barn.”
Bobby entered the office carrying a pair of sweat pants. He said, “I got your back.” He tossed them to Brian who was wearing the boxers he slept in.
Ronny entered right behind him carrying both of the Mini-14s. He handed one to his brother and said, “We are going to take our positions on the roof.”
The security system reported another failed entry code entered at the main gate and warned that the next one would lock out the front gate terminal.
Brian keyed the mike and said, “Tom- I’m going to open the gate in sixty seconds. The Guard is five minutes away. I’ve got to change modes so keep in touch through Bobby.”
Brian changed the radios mode and got, “Eagle Rock, this is Bouncer 1. What is your status?”
Brian replied, “We are about to engage the raiders.”
“Eagle Rock, negative, negative. Hole up, we’re minutes away.”
“We’ve got to Bouncer One. We can’t afford for them to damage this facility. We’ll keep frequency open.”
Brian saw that whoever was playing with the gate codes had just crapped out. The system had locked out the keypad at the gate. He clicked the over-ride and opened the front gate.
* * *
Bingo saw the gate key pad turn green and heard the lock mechanism click and the gates began to open.
Jeb said, “It’s about time.”
Little Mike asked, “Shouldn’t those bad codes have locked you out?”
Bingo sneered as he got back on his dirt bike and said, “Rich people have nice toys. That doesn’t mean that they are smart or know how to use them.”
He took the lead and motioned for the rest of the column to follow.
* * *
Brian keyed his mike, “The hostiles are moving. Five trucks, 3 dirt bikes. Maybe thirty hostiles. I see three rocket launchers, AKs, long rifles and maybe machine pistols. They are using low-light goggles. Lead element is passing number 8 now.”
* * *
Gaddis was aboard Bouncer One and listening with dread as the situation unfolded. In seconds five teenagers were about to go toe to toe with a bunch of thugs with at least thirty murders under their belts and he feared the worst.
* * *
Brian keyed his mike, “Lead hostile is stopped at the road block. The rest are clumping in behind him. Tom, stand by on number 8.”
* * *
Bobby and Ronny slung their rifles and climbed up to the roof from the sun porch. They took cover and loaded their rifles.
In the barn Jimmy went up to the loft and opened a storm shutter. He took the safety off of his Bushmaster rifle and was ready.
* * *
Jed got out of his truck and walked up behind Bingo. He looked at the rockslide and saw that it was fresh. He said, “Somethin’s wrong…”
* * *
Brian turned on the flood lights temporarily blinding the men in their low-light goggles. He turned on the public address system and said, “Halt! You are trespassing on a federally protected facility. Drop your weapons and surrender immediately. You are in a remote controlled mine field.”
Hearing his que, Tom detonated mine number eight. It exploded with a thunderous roar and dropped two of the raiders at the tail end of the column with shrapnel. It also blocked the raiders escape with a wall of fire.
* * *
Bouncer One saw the explosion from 15 miles away. Gaddis swore and keyed his mike, “Eagle Rock, are you OK? We just saw an explosion your location?”
* * *
The raiders weren’t used to their victims fighting back. They were furious. They all grabbed their weapons and rushed the rocks of the roadblock.
* * *
Brian said, “Let them have it Tom.”
Brian keyed his mike and said, “Bouncer One we’re fine but the raiders probably need a change of underwear.”
Tom started at number one and detonated all seven of the remaining mines. While the building was still shaking from the blasts, he grabbed his rifle and went up the ladder into the loft.
* * *
Twelve of Jed’s men made it across the rocks before the rest were consumed in a fiery maelstrom. They were furious that five kids would dare take them on. They came around the mountain in a murderous rage planning to rush the compound.
When they came around the curve and the house and barn came into view, they were immediately taken under heavy rifle fire. Two of Jed’s men dropped on either side of him before the survivors took cover in brush by the road.
Jed took stock of the situation and saw that the rifle fire was coming from the roof of the house and barn. He took one of the AT-4 rocket launchers and gave the other to Bingo and said, “You get the pricks on the roof, I’ll take out the barn.”
* * *
Ronny saw a guy with a rocket launcher pop up from the brush beside the road, took careful aim and fired. Bingo’s head exploded into a pink cloud of mist.
* * *
Tom saw the man targeting the barn and fired a burst from the FN-FAL hitting him squarely as the rocket left the launcher. Tom yelled, “Take cover!” as an explosion rocked the barn and knocked him down.
The explosion stunned Tom momentarily. He could still hear the familiar crack of the Mini-14 rifles from the roof of the house next door and the angry buzz of the Uzis that a few of the raiders were using.
As he gathered his wits he heard the rotors of a helicopter buzzing overhead and the angry growl of its mini-gun end the battle decisively.
His radio crackled and Brian said, “It’s over guys. Stand down.”
Tom stood up and realized that he had been cut by flying debris.
He said, “Jimmy, are you OK?”
He saw that Jimmy was down behind some boxes and he was bleeding. A fierce looking piece of shrapnel was stuck in his calf.
He keyed his mike and said, “Brian, get a medic to the barn! Jimmy’s been hit.”
* * *
Gaddis stepped out of the Blackhawk onto what could only be described as a battlefield. There was a line of wrecked vehicles burning on the road and hostile bodies lying in the road. The façade of the house was pitted by bullet holes. His troops were moving quickly to secure the area.
Dutch Kerstan followed him out onto the grass and said, “Colonel, they just called for a medic at the barn. Jimmy Ross has been hit.”
Colonel Gaddis yelled, “Medic to the barn!” He took off running and a trio of his soldiers accompanied him. A medic grabbed a stretcher out of the second Blackhawk and started running toward the barn.
As they arrived, the big metal door was opening and Tom came out with the FN-FAL slung over his shoulder holding Jimmy cradled in his arms. Both were bloody and tattered. Tom’s face was cut and the white t-shirt that he was wearing was bloody. Jimmy was grimacing in pain and holding out his right leg. The medic came along and opened up the stretcher. Two of the soldiers grabbed the stretcher and Tom gently put his little brother down on it.
Gaddis said, “Tom you look like hell.”
Tom replied, “Yeah but I’m betting the other guys are looking a whole lot worse.”
Gaddis said, “Let’s get Jimmy to the hospital. You can fill me in on the way.”
The medic gathered Jimmy and Tom into Powell and Kerstan’s Blackhawk. Gaddis gave his men orders to secure the site and boarded the helicopter. Brian insisted on accompanying Jimmy to the hospital and in a few minutes they were airborne. The medic gave Jimmy a shot that calmed him down and made him a lot more comfortable. During the short flight Brian and Tom gave a wide-eyed Colonel Gaddis an account of their preparations and a blow by blow account of how the battle progressed.
They arrived at Sierra Hotel about 3:00am. The base was a large tent city with various trucks and equipment set up in a chaotic patchwork that covered at least 10 acres. The medical staff took Jimmy on a stretcher with Brian close behind. Tom followed them into the Emergency Room and came face to face with Doctor Farmer.
Dr. Farmer gave Jimmy a quick look and said, “How are you doing pal?”
Jimmy said through a silly grin, “Whatever they gave me, I feel great. Don’t throw out my scrap iron. I want it for a souvenir.”
Doctor Farmer ruffled his hair and said, “You’ll be fine. I’ll make sure that you get it.”
He gave Tom a quick look over and said, “How are my boys?’
Tom said, “They are just fine. I can’t tell you how much help they’ve been. What are you doing up here?”
Dr. Farmer said, “Things are calm in Colorado Springs so I thought I’d help out the Guard. Jimmy will be OK but we’re going to have to do a little minor surgery. You’ll get him back with some stitches and a scar.”
Tom gave an enormous sigh of relief. “Thanks Doc. He’s grown out of the annoying little brother phase and I’ve kinda gotten used to him.”
Doctor Farmer said, “He’s not the only one who has done a lot of growing up lately. Let the nurse here take care of you and I’ll take care of Jimmy.”
* * *
Tom got a few stitches too. He didn’t realize how banged up he really was. The nurse pulled out half a dozen small pieces of metal out of his various wounds. His own clothes were pretty much shredded and one of the nurses gave him some BDUs to wear. He took a shower and dressed.
He sat with Brian as they waited for Jimmy to wake up and they both nodded off for a while. A little before dawn they were invited to breakfast and ended up in the officers mess eating with General Broderick and Colonel Gaddis. Tom and Brian were both barraged by questions until Brian remembered what he had in his pocket.
He pulled out a DVD in a jewel case and put it on the table and said, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
General Broderick had the DVD loaded on the television that was set up for watching the news. All of the officers having breakfast watched the entire engagement unfold several times. The first time they watched in silence. The second time they cheered and gave Tom and Brian a standing ovation. Many of the officers had seen the bloody carnage left behind by the raiders.
Dr. Farmer joined them at the table and said, “Jimmy did fine. The shrapnel didn’t go deep or cut any arteries. He’s patched up and we can send you home in a little while.”
Tom said, “Thanks Doc but shouldn’t he stay in the hospital overnight?”
Dr. Farmer said, “Ordinarily I’d say yes but there are a lot of cases of smallpox being treated here and it is hard enough to isolate in a real hospital. In theory even with a vaccination if you are sick or hurt, you can still pick it up. If things were ideal, I’d like to see this hospital dedicated to smallpox cases and another set up to handle trauma.”
Tom said, “We’ll be sure to take good care of him.”
Dr. Farmer said, “When you take him back in a little while, I’m going to ride with you. I would like a chance to see my boys.”
Tom grinned and said, “It’ll make their day sir.”
Farmer stood and said, “I’ll see you in a while.” Brian followed Farmer out in hopes of seeing Jimmy.
The mess was clearing out and Gaddis left with the doctor leaving Tom and General Broderick more or less alone at the table.
Broderick said, “Tom you did good today- real good. From everything that I’ve seen and heard, you did everything right. You used the terrain, you were resourceful, you used your head and you took care of your men.”
“I usually have this talk with young officers under my command but I think it applies to you too after what happened today. In the hours and days ahead you are going to wonder if you could have done anything different. You’re going to blame yourself for everything that went sideways. Speaking as someone who has been there, don’t do it to yourself. You did everything that you could. Forgive yourself and move on. It’s the only way you can make peace with it.”
Tom said, “Thank you General.”
* * *
Doctor Farmer accompanied the boys back to Eagle Rock on the return flight.
Tom and the Doctor spent the trip discussing the possibility of setting up a pure trauma mobile hospital at Eagle Rock.
Brian spent the trip chatting with Jimmy who was still pretty loopy from the pain medication.
When they approached Eagle Rock in the bright day light, Tom was shocked by the aftermath of the battle. The hulks of the vehicles destroyed the night before were still smoldering on the road and the Guardsmen had assembled a makeshift morgue for the dead raiders.
State Troopers had arrived and were attempting to identify the raiders and their victims by the stolen guns and vehicles.
As soon as they landed, Bobby and Ronny saw their father ran to him. He grabbed one in each arm, picked them both up and hugged them tight.
Brian and Tom helped Jimmy into the house and got him into bed. Exhausted, all there collapsed on the spot and went to sleep.