September 08, 2005

Chapter 21

As the elders were contemplating what to make of the raiders' successful trip around the city, there was a knock on the door, and Jacob entered the conference room.

"Did they make it?" he asked.

Everyone nodded, and Miriam moved away from the monitor so he could take a look at the raiders' celebrations. Both the camp by the gate and the wagons at the bottom of the hill had bright fires going, with food roasting and people talking animatedly.

"Are we on for tonight?"

"Last we heard, yes," said Miriam.


The council meeting was calmer than usual, as James went over the plans for the evening's expedition. Even Catherine seemed to accept that the raiders might now be easier to handle, though she still bristled any time the farmers were mentioned in the plan, and objected to having Matthew monitoring the situation directly while James and Helena each led a group out to deal with the raiders.

"I'll be in a better position to issue orders if anything comes up," said Matthew.

"Yes, and you'll be further away from the council's wisdom," replied Catherine.

"There's room there for four people, easily. You can be there, along with Margaret and Stephen. If we need more wisdom, we can reconvene here."

Catherine nodded, and they returned to the planning.


"It's time," said James, entering the conference room. Jacob, Isaac, Abigail, and Lemuel stood up. "We need to go over the plan first, and then we'll blindfold you to take you through the city to the lower encampment. Which two are going to the lower group?"

Abigail and Lemuel nodded.


Jacob's night vision goggles were heavy, as was the armor the city had provided in case things didn't go as planned. He and Isaac were sitting on a bench watching the citizens, for once all dressed in black, preparing their weapons and communications.

"It's just a sentry at the top, now," James reported. "Everyone else appears to be asleep."

He looked at his watched, then tried the radio. "Helena, are you in position yet?"

"Yes," the radio crackled back. "We'll be moving out on schedule. I'll beep you when we've reached our position."


Helena's beep came late - perhaps the snow had slowed their progress.

"All right," said James. "It's time to go."

He came over to Isaac and Jacob with blindfolds. "I'm sorry," he said, but we can't let you know exactly where our exit is. If we need to retreat, you can just follow us, but I think we'll be using the main gate for our return."

He tied the blindfolds on the two of them, and citizens took their arms to guide them. They heard a door opening, and walked down a long corridor, everyone moving as quietly as possible. At its end the group paused, and a quiet cranking sound was followed by a rush of cold air. Jacob found his hands guided to a metal ladder, and began climbing. Citizens helped him get off the ladder, and guided him for a long walk through snow.

Eventually they stopped, and the blindfolds were removed. The Army of God was between them and the city, and they were facing the backs of the raiders' tents. James pressed a button on his communicator, and signaled two citizens to head up the hill, in order to knock out the sentry before he could raise a warning or catch on that the city had responded.

"Ten minutes," said James. Half the group crossed the road quietly to the woods on the other side, taking Isaac with them. Once the time had passed, James signaled for everyone to put on their goggles, and move up the hill. Jacob followed at the rear of the group, watching the tents at the top of the hill carefully.

The group divided again at the raiders' two rows of tents, hoping to knock out every tent simultaneously. Jacob positioned himself on the edge of the woods so he could watch both groups.

James stood next to Jacob and raised his hand. The groups moved out. Each tent had two citizens at its door. James lowered his hand, and the citizens dove into the tents, a quiet pop from their guns indicating that they were anesthetizing the raiders.

"Didn't expect that, did they, Jacob?" asked James. Jacob shook his head. There hadn't been any shots or screams. They moved forward into the camp, and Jacob saw Isaac coming across to meet them.

Jacob looked into a tent. Two raiders were asleep, turned on their fronts while citizens bound their hands and legs. It was the same in the next two tents, and the citizens were pulling the raiders from the tents and stacking them in front.


Even Catherine was grinning in the control room. The city had never faced this many raiders before, but both camps were now secured. All of the raiders were unconscious except for a few children, who were bound except for the tiniest of them. The expedition was gathering and stacking the raiders' weapons, wrapping them in tents.


Upstairs, the elders could see that the two camps had been taken, and were praying mostly in thanks, partly asking for forgiveness for their community's participation in the mild violence.

Miriam, checking one last time to make sure that Jacob and Isaac were all right, left for the barns to finalize the preparations for the prisoners' holding area.


"Pretty clean, eh, Isaac?"

"Yes, Jacob - surprisingly quick."

James was on the radio again, asking that the front gate be opened.

Isaac wandered toward the campfire to look at the raiders more closely, and Jacob turned to follow him when he felt a knife at his throat and a hand reaching from behind to pull him backward.

"Quiet," hissed the raider. Jacob stayed silent. The raider pulled him back into a tent and took Jacob's night-vision goggles, putting them on himself. He took Jacob's radio and locked it in a trunk. He pointed a gun at Jacob and put his knife point at Jacob's back.

"We're going out the back of the tent," he said.

Jacob nodded, pulled up the back edge of the tent, and climbed through. The raider stayed right behind him. "Woods, there, fast" he said, pointing with the gun. Jacob moved quickly into the woods, the raider following close behind.

"Deeper in," said the raider. Jacob walked forward through the snow, stumbling on the brush occasionally as he went. "Deeper... stop."

Jacob stopped, and the raider pulled his arms behind him, then tied them tightly with a bit of rope.

"Thought you'd take on the Army of God?" asked the raider, who pushed Jacob hard to the ground. Jacob spat snow out of his mouth and tried to get up.

Posted by simon at September 8, 2005 09:52 PM
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