The terror cell had been able to purchase more explosives than they needed for their objective and had actually sold a portion of the material to another, unrelated group bent on destruction. That they didn’t know or agree with the goals of the other group meant nothing to them. That sale, though, brought them to the attention of the Mexican Federales and, consequently, the antiterrorism unit from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The group that bought the material got away, but not before leaving the terror cell open for a raid.
The antiterrorism team had set up a base of operations for the raid a few blocks away from their objective. Spotters were already in place watching the building, accompanied by sharpshooters in case things got out of hand. The bad guys weren’t going anywhere without the good guys knowing it.
As the team members prepared their equipment, so did Mike. He needed to make sure everything was ready to go. He had to move and capture images quickly. He couldn’t waste time on a faulty piece of equipment. For his own protection, Mike was dressed in battle fatigues and body armor, loaned by Commander Light, the leader of the antiterrorist team. At 6 feet 2 inches, with broad shoulders and closely-cropped hair, Mike looked as if he could very easily fit in with the group.
Once the team was ready, the members moved as a single unit to a back entrance of the warehouse. They maneuvered into position to get as close as possible to the second-story room where the terrorists were holed up. Waiting in a stairwell, just below the door that led to the intended target, Mike did his best to stay out of the way and let the troopers do their job.
“Man. You’re nuts,” one of the men whispered to him out of the side of his mouth, without taking his eyes off the door ahead of him. The first men that would go through the door were using electronic surveillance cameras to confirm how many men were inside the room and where they were. They didn’t want any surprises when they burst inside. “At least we have guns when we do this. They shoot at us, we shoot back. You can’t even do that. You’re either crazy or ballsy. I’m still not sure which. Maybe, it’s both.”
“You do what you do and I do what I do. That’s how it goes,” Mike replied, just as softly. “I’ve been shot at before. Can’t say I ever get used to it, but I just think about doing my job and I trust that I’ll be all right.”
“You say so, man,” the trooper replied with a shake of his head and a slight grin.
“I’m not the one going through the door first, you are,” Mike said to break the tension a little bit. “You guys break up the problems and I let other terrorists know you’re out there doing your job. I want the good guys to know what you’re doing, too,” Mike explained as he checked over his cameras one last time, a little bit self-consciously. “Like I said, you have your job to do and I have mine. I don’t even think about it.”
The other man chuckled, smiled, and turned his attention back to the door above them. Mike Scott was very serious about his work and his words came from the heart.
While they waited, Mike took a few images of the team. The whisper-quiet shutter on his Nikon D4 digital cameras held no risk of the noise giving away the position. He was able to capture, he hoped, some of the tension, and determination, on the faces of the team as they waited. It occurred to him that he could be photographing the last minutes of someone’s life and he felt the responsibility of doing it right.
Above, by the door, Commander Light gave the signal. The team members were all tense, but ready to move. This was what they trained to do. As one body, they stood and moved up the stairs. The first two men advanced and positioned themselves on either side of the door, with a battering ram held between them. The rest of the team members prepared their weapons, and disengaged the safety mechanisms. They slid their blast goggles into place. On a final signal from Light, the two men with the battering ram smashed the flimsy wooden door off its hinges.
The noise created by the single stroke from the heavy ram was the signal for a second team of men to enter the room from the outside. That team consisted of three men who crashed through the windows after they had repelled down the outside of the building from the roof. As they came through the glass, these men fired stun grenades into the room careful to avoid the explosives in the room, timing their entrance to minimize their own exposure to the detonations.
Mike ran as quickly as he could up the stairs, but, for his own safety, he was at the end of the line. After the initial thunder from the grenades faded, he heard shouts directing the men inside to drop their weapons and get down on the floor. Then he heard the distinctive sound of the response when one of the terrorists inside decided not to comply quickly enough and opened fire with a fully-automatic machine gun. It had to be one of the terrorists, Mike reasoned. Soldiers and professionals never use full auto for handheld weapons. It’s too difficult to control. Then Mike heard the response as several of the troopers crashing through the door returned fire with tight, controlled bursts. The raid was over almost before it started.
A moment later, Mike heard the “All Clear” signal from inside and he stepped into the small room. The smell of cordite from the weapons and the stun grenades was still acrid in the air. Mike had a camera to his face, photographing the scene.
None of the antiterrorist team members were injured in the raid, but three of the terrorists lay dead on the floor. Two others—they must have been right on top of the stun grenades when they went off—were still alive, but they were rolling around on the floor holding their ears. Their hands, faces and ears were bloody from the concussion and shock.
Flooding Hollywood is available in softcover and on Kindle. It is also part of the Mike Scott Boxed set.