Some weeks earlier there had been an issue with one of the women in Alexander’s Community. The woman – more of a girl, really, an early-20s Goth – was one of the less-skilled of Alexander’s retinue. She worked in his food collective, helping with the raising of the chickens; Smiley had provided them with a supply of chicks as a hedge against the diseases all domesticated birds were prone to and the Goth girl – Karina was her name – was especially good at running the chicken coop, possessing an aptitude in the maternal manner some women have for raising animals.
The coop at the Alexander’s Community had grown quite considerably so they began to trade with the settlement at Eastern Market. With the Alexander’s Community being located within miles of Eastern Market, it was natural that they would barter for goods: solar panels were something Alexander’s group found especially valuable, the Goths constantly expanding the size of their array. Eggs and chicken meat along with some of William’s marijuana crop made up their primary trade good.
To call what developed at Eastern Market a ‘Community’, William believed, was an over-elastic use of the term; there was no defined organizational structure, neither a centralized electrical network nor food service nor organized sanitation. It was really nothing more than a collection of people who congregated at a single defensible location to conduct basic commerce, the equivalent to a frontier trade post. But Alexander had traded cell phones with some of the denizens there so, even though Eastern Market was outside the boundaries of the Protective Association, it was still covered by the cellular network and thus integrated in the greater commerce web.
Karina got into the habit of accompanying the others on the trade trips. Although it wasn’t necessary, she was an outgoing if somewhat naïve girl in the manner of many females from a more unconventional social mélange, the type of person who was especially affected by the isolation the CNVE Outbreak demanded. After the first several trips she became complacent and allowed herself to get isolated from her group, lured away under some pretext which was never made clear but was undoubtedly false and malicious in intent.
The girl, who was quite attractive in the lithe and pale manner some Goth women can be, was set upon by a group of unsavory males, people outside their established circle of trading partners but still known to them. She was raped and quite brutally beaten, her eye orbit broken and jaw fractured along with some broken teeth. Apart from the brutality of the act itself, there was a factor of intimidation present, the assailants leaving the definite impression that she was targeted precisely due to her association with Alexander’s Community.
Karina was brought to the Club immediately after the attack, her jaw wired and her eye orbit repaired and impressions made for dental implants. Alexander and his people were incensed over the assault, regarding it – quite rightly in William’s estimation – as an attack on their entire Community. Apart from that, Alexander held it to be act of the basest sort of ugliness which offended his aesthetic sensibilities greatly so they immediately began to plan for their response.
But as Alexander and his people thought through the process they quickly realized that it would be a difficult and risky affair, the perpetrators doubtlessly expecting a reaction and probably even prepared for it. The matter naturally came up while discussing Karina’s medical treatment. Chris was the one who initially proposed a Crew from outside Alexander’s Community carrying out the reprisal, someone who wasn’t recognized in the Eastern Market settlement who could gain some element of surprise. Chris was familiar with Eastern Market from working at the afterhours clubs there so he was confident of their ability to conduct a workable operation.
The plan for this came together rapidly; Alexander, being of a prudent and even suspicious nature, had his people photographing both the location and the residents at Eastern Market from the very start of their activities there. The perpetrators and their associates were identified: a loose collection of ten to twenty people, a mix of men and women who were involved mainly in scavenging, petty theft and extortion from the most vulnerable of the Eastern Market’s population. They seemed, from the information gathered, to inhabit the remnants of a small shop towards the Fire Station, a short walk from the center of the Settlement around the parking lot.
William and Chris agreed to carry out the reprisal. They eliminated the option of a long range strike at once; they weren’t sure enough of the targets’ movements to properly locate the riflemen and besides there was too much traffic at Eastern Market to set up for such an attack with the proper discretion, to say nothing of the near impossibility of successfully engaging more than two targets.
They decided instead on what Chris called a ‘run and gun’ operation: a small team, four gunmen divided into two pairs, the first person in the pair ambushing the target while the second covered. “Like fucking Judge Dredd,” Chris summarized in his usually apt manner. William and Chris agreed that they would form the shooters and set to filling out their team. Recruiting the other two men took a while longer, settling on Guillermo and Jason Kowalski, despite misgivings about Jason’s experience.
With the team selected they set to fleshing out the details of the plan, the techniques and tactics. They knew they couldn’t go in heavy or they would generate too much attention and surrender the element of surprise. They decided that an ambush with pistols would be best. William added the detail of using disguises; after deciding to leave behind the ARs and web gear, the team eschewed their usual Hospital Security costs and dressed in the scrounged gear more appropriate to the venue.
They all understood that they couldn’t appear unarmed, such a thing both too provocative and too suspicious so they openly carried some more downscale weapons. William and Guillermo carried some cheap revolvers in belt holsters while Chris and Jason carried long guns on slings: Jason, a double barrel shotgun and Chris lever action rifle. As they rehearsed, William realized that the open carry had the advantage of allowing them to access their ‘real’ firearms less obtrusively; when a person who isn’t openly carrying reaches into their jacket people tend to think they’re reaching for a gun, he noted, while someone who is openly armed doesn’t arose such suspicion.
Apart from William, each carried their usual side arms: Chris his H&K USP in .45ACP, Guillermo his SIG P228 and Jason the Glock 23 that the Crew presented to him upon his graduation to Shooter status. William however changed from his usual Browning High Power to his Glock 19; since there was no need for the suppressor and he would be drawing from inside his coat, he decided that the hammerless design of the Glock would be an advantage. At first he wanted to use one of his 33 round magazines but ultimately decided against it; the extended magazine was awkward to draw and printed too much through the coat, so he settled on a 19 round G17 magazine.
In the week leading to the attack Alexander made certain to have a constant and conspicuous presence at the Market; not as an attack but more as a ruse to fix the target for a long enough period of time to guarantee their movement once the real team was in place. On the appointed day, the four men went to the Market, driving a cheap scrounged vehicle and milling about, giving the appearance of small time barterers. Each had earpiece speakers and throat microphones that Alexander and his people fabricated and wandered about unobtrusively, the pairs taking turns standing at the points by the northwest corner of the common area where they could observe the approach of the targets.
By about noon the targets appeared; Chris and Guillermo spotted six men – including four of the rapists identified as Karina’s assailants – walking towards the common area in two groups of three separated by a short but prudent distance, undoubtedly alerted by some means that Alexander’s people had left. Per their earlier agreement, William and Jason began moving towards the targets, guided by Chris and Guillermo, the team agreeing that William and Jason were far less intimidating in appearance.
William led Jason to a point in the path of the six and stopped to make conversation in the doorway of a shop trafficking in plastic bags filled with a suspiciously grey shredded meat. As William bantered with the traders, Chris kept up a constant stream of instruction, keeping the pair aware of the target’s location without the need to directly watch and encouraging Jason to remain calm. William looked at the six momentarily as they passed, a simple glance of the sort natural to the circumstance then resumed his conversation, reaching under his coat as if to get something to show the traders.
Just as the sixth of the targets had walked past the doorway, on the street off of the curb, William drew his Glock. He leveled it at the target in the center, one holding a shotgun about five meters ahead of him. He shot the target in the back of the head, shifting his aim even as the body was still falling.
William continued firing, now aiming at the center mass, shooting the closest in the back, noting with relief the spray of blood that accompanied the impact of his bullet. At least that one didn’t have body armor, he thought, shifting his aim to continue shooting.
By William’s second shot Chris had joined in, from a greater distance but with equal effect. Chris’ first shot struck the second shotgun wielding rapist in the side of the head as he turned to bring his weapon to bear on William. Within ten seconds, all six of the targets were on the ground, William and Chris standing over them putting anchoring shots into each head as Guillermo and Jason brandished their pistols at the bystanders, deterring intervention.
After all the shooting was done, they stood over the bodies, pistol smoke hanging in the cold air, William and Chris reloading as Guillermo barked warnings at the witness. Then they walked off, nervously but purposefully, each brandishing their pistols at the bystanders. As they strode away, William half expected gunfire to resume; but instead several among the crowd began to clap, either applauding the demise of their nemesis or, he thought, just expressing appreciation for the show.
Hearing their reaction, William stopped brandishing his pistol and raised his hands over his head in a gesture of acknowledgement, his loaded Glock in his right hand and his left hand open as if waving. “That’s all folks,” he called out, smiling and nodding.
Chris laughed. “Thanks for coming,” he called out, holding his USP at a low ready, “You’ve been a great crowd.” Then the four rounded the corner and started walking quickly to their Extraction Point.