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CC Afa had shaken Sandy awake, gently, as they commenced their descent into Auckland. He had left the reservation at twenty-one thirty Tuesday and was arriving at oh five thirty Thursday. Strange things, the dateline and time-zones. It was only a thirteen hour flight.
He had showered and dressed in the rather classy suit CC Afa had laid out for him to greet immigrations and customs.
The message from HAL came through “Senator, Lieutenant, Citizen Adam Gooch has requested our help.”
“Sandy, would you join me please?”
The Senator was in his lounge, with Red.
“Sandy, if you have no objection I will take overall command of the platoon today. You will retrieve Abel Gooch with Abel troop. Bravo troop under Sergeant Max will med-evac Citizen Adam Gooch.”
‘Nah, I don’t mind at all Senator.’
As they landed he had a glass of juice and a bite to eat. Next thing he knew there was a customs and immigration official on the plane. His black Tongan diplomatic passport was handed up by CC Afa, and the officials left. Tongan? Sandy had no idea how he had become a Tongan diplomat.
Two minutes later, Sandy and the Senator were talking with Gunny, Sergeant Max, and Corporals Dave and Afa.
‘Sergeant Max I want Citizen Adam Gooch back here, quick as you can. Take your troop. Wait one. HAL, are you there?’
“Good morning Senator. Did you have a pleasant flight?”
‘Yes. Thank you for asking. What is happening with Adam?’
“He is currently in his lounge with a TV presenter and her cameraman. He has been shot four times with a Glock pistol. One wound, to his shoulder, affects his combat readiness. There is considerable confusion among the attacking force of police. We have a team of lawyers that have just arrived on site.”
“Can you order the police force to maintain a perimeter only, and can you then block further communications to it?”
“I can fake a call to the on-site commander from Commissioner Hedge and can then overload their communications hub with ten million communications per second.”
“Do that, please. Sergeant Max, what do you propose?”
“My troop drives to that location. We kill everyone who might be hostile, and return here with Citizen Adam Gooch.” Sandy liked the plan.
“That will be plan B. HAL do we have a trauma surgeon that we can call on in this town? If we do, can he make a house call here? We will transport Citizen Adam to the plane where the surgeon can patch him up. He won’t be making his court appearance.”
“Certainly Senator. If you would like to get Sergeant Max and his men on their way, the surgeon will be here in the mobile field hospital when they return.”
“HAL can I speak to the lawyer please?”
“Please hold. I will put you on a conference call with him and those at the house.”
“So Sergeant, you are to recover Citizen Adam Gooch from his house. No guns, but Corporal Dave you will take anti-personnel drones with orders to fire upon and kill any person who points a firearm at any of the team. Send recruits Nellie and Jane in. Dismissed”
Corporal Afa looked up from his tablet.
“Senator, Adam Gooch is appearing in courtroom one of the Manukau District Court at ten hundred hours. Ground floor. He is not currently being in police custody. In fact…” and he brought up the live feed from breakfast TV. They were replaying the shooting of Adam by the terrified cop, with the studio announcer providing a summary of the events.
“Your call is ready, Senator.”
‘Good morning. Who is on the line?’
“Colin Coffers, Queen’s Counsel, retained to represent Messrs Adam and Abel Gooch in these proceedings. Am I speaking to the Senator?”
“John Jones, Simon Bell, Matt Grace, and Diane Fort for Mr Gooch. We are outside his house.”
“Yes, Mr Coffers you are. One thing at a time. I have sent a team to Mr Gooch’s home. They will retrieve him and bring him to me at the airport where he will be seen by a trauma surgeon. He will be treated and you will deal with his court appointment please.”
“Jones speaking. That will not be possible. The police are here to arrest him.”
“I am sorry if I was not clear Mr Jones. The team I have sent is a combat team. They are armed and expecting to exchange fire. Mr Gooch is coming here. The only uncertainty is the body count at the house. That is for you to control.”
“Has Mr Gooch been arrested yet Jones?”
“No Mr Coffers he has not”
“Then you get your butt inside that house right now and make sure he is not arrested. He can come and go as he pleases for so long as the police don’t touch him.”
“No buts. Go now.”
“Bell, do we have a copy of the paperwork.”
“No Mr Coffers we do not.”
“I need that emailed to me right now. I have a court appearance in a few hours. Senator, I will get Mr Gooch out of the house and on the way to your location.”
“Thank you Mr Coffers. I have another matter to attend to for the next wee-while. Would you mind dealing with Mr Nelson on my behalf until I can get back to you?”
“He will meet you at the Courthouse. Could someone be outside for him?”
“Senator, Founder, we have a problem.” Corporal Stan from Charlie troop interrupted.
“What is it Citizen Corporal?”
“There is something amiss at the secure facility where Abel Gooch is being held. It seems like a riot. The local guards have lost control of the wing in which young Mr Gooch is being held.”
‘No restriction on force. I want that boy out of there. Load up. When can you leave?”
“One minute Senator”
“Very good. CC Afa could you bring recruits Nelson and Jane in please? Oh, and HAL, could I have diplomatic passports for Mr Adam Gooch and his family? No rush, so long as they leave here with Citizen Nelson…Mr Coffers are you still on the line?”
“Yes, Senator I am”
“Sorry about the interruption. But that does bring you up to date about my other matter. By the way, you will find that Mr Adam Gooch bears a diplomatic passport issued by the Kingdom of Tonga. Thank you for your services.”
Hang up. “HAL, can you sort the entry records out for me?”
“As we speak, Senator.”
“Thanks, I owe you one.”
“You owe me four thousand eight hundred and thirty seven Senator. But your credit is good around here.”
“Ahh, Sandy your recruits are here.”
‘Gidday. Sightseeing is off I’m sorry.’
‘The Senator has a job for you.’
“Him, is he the Senator?”
‘Yes, Nellie, he is the Senator.’
“OK. Gidday Senator.”
“Good morning Citizens. Have a look at the news broadcast. You two are going to be point on a mission to Manukau District Court. You are going in as lawyers. Mr Coffers is our lead counsel. He is waiting for your call. Give him the passports for Mr Gooch and his family. They will be ready before you leave. Have something to eat before you go. We are here to rescue two of our citizens, Adam Gooch and his son Abel. If they appear in Court this morning something will have gone badly wrong. However, I need eyes there just in case we have to extract either or both of them from custody. Do not, I say again, do not attempt an extraction without checking with me first. Is that understood?”
“What’s a Court? And what’s a lawyer? Do I get a rifle? Can I shoot them?”
Busy, busy, busy. Sandy walked to the back of the plane, and out, down the steps. They were parked inside a large hangar. Door closed. Abel troop had debussed and were loading up a van. Next to the van was a decent sized car, black.
‘How many vehicles do we have Gunny?’
“The Senator is taking the limo, but the sedan is here for you. The rest of the troop will travel in the van”
‘That’s fine. CC Afa is with me. I’ll need a driver. Gooch. Armed. How many drones?’
“I’ll be escorting you, Sir. Corporal Afa will drive. Four drones. All surveillance anti-personnel. Two have bullets, two missiles.”
‘OK. We’re gone. The rest of the troop can follow.’
Golly, it was already eight o’clock.
There was a lot of information for Sandy to get his head around on the short trip to the secure facility.
The display showed an overhead map of the facility and a floor plan. CC Afa was able to tap into the closed circuit TV feed as well as the radio communications between staff on site.
The drones arrived on station within a few minutes. Their immediate job was to locate Abel using the signal from his biochip. There. In D block. He had barricaded himself into a cell, and there was a group of perhaps twenty targets outside trying to start a fire.
The radio chatter was not reassuring.
“D block sealed off Warden. They are rioting in there. It seems that inmate Gooch is the target.”
“Standard protocol. Do not attempt to rescue the inmate at this time. The cavalry is on the way.”
At least that limited the hostiles to a group of thugs, until the cavalry, whatever that was, showed up.
‘Gunny, how far out is the rest of the troop?’
“Five minutes, founder.”
‘We will make the rescue ourselves. The troop will cover our exit.’
“Sir. Thirty seconds out.”
‘CC Afa, I want the drones to remove the exterior wall of D block and to kill every inmate able to pose any threat to Abel. I want to park this vehicle outside the wall, walk inside, and walk out with Abel.’ Oh yeah, Sandy had seen lots of movies. He knew how this was done.
“Understood it is, Founder. Kill every inmate able to pose any threat to Abel?”
‘Kill them all. Let God sort ‘em out.’ He’d always wanted to use that line. It was one of his favorites. Anyway, none of that China raid stuff where the drones let someone be captured was going to happen here.
Five seconds before they came to it, the fence in front of them was demolished by an explosion. The drones were onto it.
‘Gunny, with me. CC stay here.’
Gunny Shane and Sandy exited the vehicle and walked toward the exterior wall of D block. They were thirty meters from the wall when it was hit by a rocket. The explosion left a large hole through which Gunny and Sandy walked side by side.
Inside, the two bullet drones had killed a number of young hoods. Others were looking up, trying to identify the source of the bullets, and were dying where they stood.
Gunny and Sandy walked in, side by side, and directly to Abel’s door.
“Abel Gooch. I am Citizen Master Gunnery Sergeant Shane Gooch of Uso Dex. Your father has requested that we retrieve you. Come out and with us please.”
There was some noise behind the cell door, and then Abel appeared, with a towel around his waist. He leaned on the door.
“Gidday. Pleased to see you. I think I’ve been cut.” He turned to show two stab wounds to his back, one on his right side, the other lower down on his left. Blood all over his back, and the towel was red behind.
Gunny Shane moved forward, lifted Abel over his shoulder and began walking out the way they had come, stepping over and around several bodies.
He was still a few meters from the hole in the wall, when Sandy following him, walking backwards so as to keep the hoods in view saw men in black, eight of them, come through the door to the block. These were combat soldiers. They split, took cover.
‘Gunny, soldiers to our rear.’
“More commandos is coming round the side of the building.” Corporal Afa over the radio.
‘Have the drones take them out. Bring the car to us Corporal. Put Abel down Gunny. It’ll be faster if we both support one shoulder. Abel you gotta run man…How far out is the rest of the troop, Corporal...and how did those men in black get here?’
“Ninety seconds lieutenant. Recommend you is taking cover. The attacking forces is being in enfilade very soon.”
‘Negative. We’re leaving and the rest of the troop is to prevent any pursuit from this location.’
“Understood you is. One bullet drone is exiting the building. The other is engaging the commandos in there, as they is attempting to move forward. One missile drone has fired at the group coming round the side of the building. The second bullet drone will engage that group as it emerges from cover. The second missile drone is searching for their vehicle and will destroy it when found.”
‘Destroy any vehicle capable of transporting the troop of commandos. Not just the one that got them here.’ Yep, Sandy had seen lots of movies. He knew how things happened.
“Understood you is.”
They met the sedan fifty meters from the wall of D-block. Afa placed the vehicle between then and the attacking force. Sandy pushed Abel into the back seat and followed him in. Gunny sat up front with Afa. They passed the rest of the troop in their van one hundred meters from the jail.
HAL’s voice came over the net.
“Founder, with your permission, once the site is secure, I want the dead commandos fingerprinted and photographed and pictures of their dog tags too.”
“In position now Lieutenant. Advancing. Photography by missile drone…Missile drone is destroying a United States military helicopter, Lieutenant.”
‘Have the van follow us back to the airport Corporal. One kilometer separation. Monitor all radio chatter please CC; military, police, prison, and media.’
“CC? Is you talking to me?”
‘Yep, that’s you Citizen Corporal Afa.’
Sergeant Max and his troop had it easy. They did not stop at the barricades set up to block off Adam’s street. The police officer manning them was wise enough to jump aside as the truck rolled through.
Two officers were run over as the truck, horn blaring, drove up onto Adam’s front lawn.
Sergeant Max’s six soldiers debussed and strode towards Adam’s front door. Policemen moved aside, not knowing what was happening, and within thirty seconds Adam was in the van and gone. Mrs Gooch was not at home. She was at her parents’.
Ms Tree and her cameraman were left, standing outside the house, with Jones, the lawyer.
The Senator had left by the time Sandy arrived back at the airport. He traveled to the city, with Red, in a spacious black limousine with the second Gooch, Marty, from Bravo troop, imposing as hell in a black suit, sunglasses and an earpiece, upfront with the driver.
Sandy hadn’t noticed the security guard at the gate on the way out. He’d been too busy studying maps and things. He noticed him now. The barrier arm stayed down and the guard moved toward the driver’s window, CC Afa’s window. CC Afa didn’t slow. The barrier arm lifted, and they were through. That was weird.
Back in the hangar there was a lot going on. A lot. A tent, yep it was a tent, was inflating over in one corner. CC Afa drove that way. Sandy was a bit worried about Abel. It looked like a lot of blood. Sandy had taken off his jacket, and his shirt. He knew about applying pressure, but it wasn’t that easy, not on someone’s back when they were sitting up. He’d tried wiping away the blood, but that hadn’t really worked. He could see one wound was kind of spurting. Kind of. Every second or so, like a ripple of blood would overflow out of the cut. He wadded his shirt up and had Abel hold it in place. There was another wound. It was bigger and blood was just leaking out of it. The kidney was under there someplace. That’s where Sandy put his jacket. No way Abel could get his hand round to apply pressure there, so Sandy was pressing on the jacket.
The car stopped. Gunny was out and around to Abel’s door. Two seconds and Abel was out and onto a trolley.
Sandy got out. Citizen Sergeant Harley was coming over to him. Nellie and Jane were running across. But, the man in charge was a tall, lean Alpha, standing beside a medical gurney. A citizen major according to the blue holographic insignia Sandy could see above his shoulders.
“Lie him here on his front thank you soldier… Medic, I want vitals. I have the trauma pack. Inserting 14 gauge line into antecubital fossa. Done. Opening saline pack. Using contents to wash the back. Two wounds of note. One superficial. Small bleeder. Clamped in passing. The other wound is over the left kidney. Will need to be explored in theatre. Triage category delayed. Twenty minutes theatre time required. What are those vitals?”
“Patient conscious. BP one ten over seventy, pulse fifty-two. Pupils equal and reactive.”
“Thank you… Soldier, my name is Major Bolton. I am a trauma surgeon. You have a stab wound to your back that I need to have a look at in theatre, and another small wound that needs a stitch or two. There is another patient inbound, but I think I’ll have a look at you now… Let’s move. What about you son, is that your blood?” Mr Bolton was talking to Sandy. What blood? Sandy shook his head.
And they were gone. Into the tent. Citizen Sergeant Harley was there, standing at attention. Nellie and Jane were there, not standing at attention.
“How come you lost your suit? That your blood? You shoot anybody? We gotta get going Jane. There’s shooting and stuff out there.”
CS Harley explained that the tent Sandy had seen was a mobile field hospital, normally stored in a container in the hangar. Bravo troop had recovered Mr Gooch and was ten minutes out.
Nellie and Jane were off, to Court. Sandy wasn’t sure why. All they had left to do now was deliver those passports. Both Adam and Abel Gooch were going to be here. But, orders were orders. He went back into the plane, had a shower, and put a uniform on. He liked his uniform, especially the pip which said he was a lieutenant.
There wasn’t a lot to do. Mr Adam Gooch arrived, and got taken into the hospital tent. The Senator was still at his meeting.
HAL asked if he wanted to look in on the Manukau District Court video. Yep.