It was the first week of November, 2020.
Dan suppressed the curse that he'd almost vocalized.
He checked his six and saw that the rest of his small team was still well concealed.
Dan reached around with Don's left hand to ensure that the tether to the towed equipment sled was still straight.
What an absolute, total fuck-up! This completely degrades the usefulness of any phrase like "cluster-fuck'!!!
Yeah, and what the HELL are we doing here!
Just shut the fuck up, Don! We've got serious things to deal with, here...
Dan returned to regarding the target. He had seemingly acquired the ability to suppress the personality of his host body. He exercised that for the time being.
Thus, Don seemed to keep his 'quiet' overlook on Dan's actions.
And Dan worried about what he was confronting. Jeeze! This makes a school hostage situation look simple!
Dan couldn't avoid thinking about that middle school he'd entered oh so many years earlier. He'd ended up practically single-handledly killing off a bunch of Jihadis. He'd barely managed not being identified and subjected to an investigation by the national media. However, the post-incident debriefing had almost been his undoing. Still, clear-thinking heads had come to control matters and he'd avoided being exposed to any ultimate, out-of-control level of national intelligence gathering...
He again checked their progress and found that Chief McEwan was almost invisible to even Dan's systems. The Chief was about as hard to read as any operator who Dan had ever encountered. The man's skin was nearly as dark as the darkest of any he'd ever encountered. And his expression was about as expressive as slate or carved ebony. Chief McEwan's lack of expressiveness went right along with his lack of apparent visibility.
Sergeant Burkhalter was nearly as well concealed, but more of his equipment was visible to Dan. Which wasn't exactly all that unexpected. The sergeant was carrying more personal gear than the other two. Dan suppressed a sigh, as he knew that Burkhalter was new to this level of operations. Only, Sergeant Burkhalter had been described as an "enfant terrible" by his previous commanders. He was supposed to be one of the best at what he was trained to do. He was both an infiltrator and a sniper. He had broad shoulders and huge arms that tapered down a thinning chest to slim hips. His legs looked spindly in comparison with his upper body.
Chief McEwan was simply a known, quality operator seconded from both the SEALs and Delta Force. He'd been temporarily separated from the last force while recuperating from an injury. Sergeant Burkhalter had excellent references from known commanders. Only, he was nearly wholly and totally green in reference to real operations. Thus, they were a scratch crew forced to work together due to circumstances.
It was too damned bad that the majority of Delta Force was presently situated about halfway around the globe. One could wonder about how that had come to be. Dan suspected that a matter of misdirection might be involved in how the preeminent counter-terrorism unit within the US came to be deployed to southwest Asia when three terrorist operations were discovered to be underway in the southeast US.
He again checked the view of the target and was mildly surprised as his two companion personnel joined him at their 'overlook' of the target. He looked to their rear and found their two sleds right there besides the one he'd drug up to the designated overlook point. The three sleds had both wheels and runners. They were narrow and could be used to drag a load too heavy for regular carriage by personnel. Their load was simply too heavy to be carried along with their respective personal weapons. Chief McEwan's training and the availability of an superiority weapon with which he was rated expert had determined their weapons choice and loading.
Dan returned to regarding their position. It wasn't all that much of an 'overlook'. The sandhills found in the upper coastal plain of Georgia just weren't much to work with. Once in awhile you might find an outcropping of truly ancient sandstone. But, otherwise - you just crawled through the underbrush and tried to avoid the worst of the briers and pointy ends of palmetto fronds. Watercourses were banked with pebbly shoals of sand. It was neither the sandy loamish soils of the true coastal plain or the clay-covered rocky Piedmont that was found above the Fall Line. Oh, and you did worry about all four types of poisonous snakes found in all of North America. And, too - along the creeks & ponds you watched out for very quick and mobile logs that possessed big, sharp teeth.
They were lucky, as the target was situated on a slope leading down into Horse Creek. That tributary of the Ogeechee River was as yet sparsely populated between Georgia Routes 17 and 21. And they did have available to them one of the few sandstone outcroppings that were found along the upland banks of Horse Creek. From a review of topo maps and satellite imagery, they had noticed its elevation and position relative to the target and had made it a planned waypoint on their approach.
They were supported by the emergency response teams from the surrounding Bullock, Burke, Emanuel, Jenkins, and Screven Counties. Those personnel were deployed further back from the target. Georgia State Patrol roadblocks were situated even further out from the site. The GSP was conducting standard ID, insurance, and intoxication checks while simultaneously looking for anyone suspicious heading toward the target. They were backed up by local deputies from the Sheriff's Offices involved and by police officers from the nearest municipalities. The inner perimeter of the local responders was focused inward towards their target. They were watching for any action by those situated at the target. So far, it seemed as though no one within the site had been tipped off to the presence of the forces surrounding them.
Unfortunately, the Georgia state team from the GBI was deployed near Rome, in Floyd County. They had a separate emergency northwest of Atlanta that just couldn't be covered by that state agency and what was also occurring near the Ogeechee River.
Worse, the FBI team that Dan had previously trained and worked with was engaged with a similar scenario in the Norfolk, VA. area. That one was very near to the Naval yards in Newport News and near Hampton Roads.
So, he'd gotten a trained senior NCO from out of the Charleston Naval Base and a less-trained trooper from Fort Stewart.
Thus, there was an entirely uncomfortable paucity of well-trained anti-terrorism responders available to deal with a situation in southeast Georgia.
However, there was a Ranger strike team sitting on ground nearby at a sod farm in adjacent Screven County, between Woodcliff and Thomasboro. Eight Blackhawk troop assault ships and four AH-64 Apache attack helicopters had been forward deployed in case a major assault became necessary. Two platoons of Rangers were ready to drop onto the target. The four gunships were equipped to engage both ground and air targets. They were just across Horse Creek from the location where Dan and his crew were evaluating the situation.
Something did indeed seem to be afoot. Added to the absence of Delta Force, then the simultaneity of the two other known attacks was causing him to wonder about expanded patterns of terrorist attacks within the continental U.S. and an international aspect to planning that might have been designed to draw away Delta Force from North America.
Only, the group of supposed terrorists along Horse Creek had decided to hole up in a spot that was decidedly susceptible to frontal assault and especially vertical envelopment. Of course, perhaps this place was simply meant to serve as a misdirection and obvious target for the usual local forces.
If they had had a real nearby target then it would have been Plant Vogtle in adjacent Burke County or the Savannah River Plant across the Savannah River in South Carolina. The first was a nuclear power plant. The second was a nuclear weapons production facility and nuclear waste storage site. And, SRP did have its own small army composed of security specialists and combat-capable forces. Dan pondered those alternatives and passed his worries up the line via his encrypted radio link. An attack in Jenkins County, Georgia was just too weird for him to fit into any attack rationale other than one meant to provoke a disproportionate and mis-directed outcome by local responders.
Still, the recently developed and four-laned Savannah River Parkway had caused a significant population growth in even mostly rural Jenkins County. A new elementary school had been erected near Horse Creek between Millen and adjacent Screven Counties. That was just another indicator of population growth.
What if the plan had been to attack the new school? Was it meant to be the point of a mis-directed response to a terrorist attack? Maybe then the real attack would have gone in closer to the Savannah River and against one of the nuclear facilities. Or, maybe - against both of them.
Dan ran that scenario through the back processes of his mind as he continued observing what he could see spread out before him. Again, he passed those thoughts back up his communications link to the FBI agent who'd ended up being the onsite commander for this growing incident.
.... There is more of this story ...