We moved single file, me on point with Dog at my side, Zemeck behind me with Rachel and Martinez watching our rear. First step was to take out the roving sentries. I’d already gotten one of them on the way to meet up with my group, but there were two more that I’d spotted. Both were armed with AKs and needed to be taken out before we began our rescue effort. Leaving guards running around behind you with automatic weapons is never a good idea.
I heard the first guard before I saw him. We had angled over to be close to the wall farthest from where Katie was being held and as the man walked he dragged the heel of each foot on the carpet. In the tomblike silence of the cavernous building it was easy to hear him coming. I signed for the group to stop, held a hand in front of Dog’s face to tell him to stay and moved forward to meet the man.
As I spotted him around the corner of a row of ATMs he was just pushing through a door into a men’s restroom. Padding silently, I ran up and pressed my ear to the door. I couldn’t hear well, but managed to pick out the sound of his zipper coming down, followed a moment later by the glassy tinkle of a urinal being used.
Raising my rifle I pushed the door open with my shoulder and stepped into the brightly lit room. The man stood with his back to me, legs spread apart and hands in front as he relieved himself. His rifle was leaned up in a corner, well out of his reach. He hadn’t heard me enter the room and died with a bullet in his head. The body collapsed to the floor with more noise than I liked, but overall it was a very quiet kill. The new Sig rifle was every bit as silent as Zemeck had made it out to be.
Exiting the restroom I formed back up with the group and we began hunting the other guard. I had observed them making full circles of the perimeter of the casino floor, so I knew he’d be coming along in the wake of the one I had just killed. We stayed one row in from the outside wall and moved forward to meet him.
Covering almost half the distance to the holding area I called a halt when I heard voices approaching from the front. Crawling laterally I took a peek down the perimeter row and was dismayed to see four men strolling towards us, all armed with AKs. This was not how they’d been patrolling when I’d been snooping around, and while I had no doubt that Zemeck and I could quickly take the whole group, I was afraid to risk one of them getting a shot off and alerting everyone in the building.
I pulled my group another row away from the wall and quickly told them what was coming our way.
“You need them distracted so you can get close,” Rachel said. “I’ll take care of that.”
Rachel was still wearing the extremely short shorts she had used to distract the Rangers at Tinker so we could escape, and now she reached up and peeled her vest and shirt off, leaving only a thin, nearly transparent tank top covering her bare breasts. Handing her clothes to Martinez she went down our row until she was past the approaching men. Zemeck and I moved to a corner at the perimeter row, rifles up and ready.
“What are you doing here?” We heard one of the men ask in surprise a moment later.
“I was lost and this looked like a good place to hide. Are you the Army?” Rachel was getting quite good at putting the right amount of ‘ingenuous’ in her voice.
“How did you get in?” The same man asked.
“That door right back there.”
That was our cue. I knew they were already facing away from us, looking at Rachel, but now she would be pointing at an area behind her and all of them would be looking for a door that they had somehow missed.
I was closest to the row, Zemeck tight against my back with his left hand on my shoulder. When I moved he came with me, both of us stepping into the open, rifles already up and ready. As one we fired, the two outside men dropping from headshots that killed them instantly. We adjusted aim and both fired again as the first set of bodies hit the floor, the remaining two dying instantly as well.
Rachel stepped around them and ran to us, retrieving her clothing and gear from Martinez. She dressed as we started moving again. I had originally planned to head directly across the casino floor once the second sentry was dead, but something had changed to send four of them together. Maybe they were all friends and had decided to keep each other company, but I wasn’t going to bet ours and Katie’s lives on that assumption.
We circled the building but didn’t encounter any other guards, roving or static. Soon we were opposite the guard that was sitting outside the door marked as private. His post was around a corner from the guard watching the captive women, as were the doors into the kitchen area where I’d heard movement earlier.
Ignoring him for the moment we kept moving, turning into a new row to stay hidden. It didn’t take long to reach the well-lit poker room where the women were being held and I wasn’t at all surprised to find the guard sound asleep, head tilted back and snoring. I intended to rescue all of the women that were being held, but I took the time to single out Katie and make sure everyone knew which one she was.
Moving on we came to a stop in front of the two glass walled rooms that were full of people sacked out in sleeping bags. We had already discussed the plan and Martinez took up position. If things went well we’d take out a couple more guards and make a quiet exit with Katie and the other women. If they didn’t, Martinez was there to make sure these people weren’t able to join the fight.
Back at the sleeping guard, Rachel, Dog and I stopped as Zemeck continued on. When he was in position to take out the guard at the private door he’d let me know over the radio and we’d both attack at the same time. He and I would then clear the kitchen first, followed by the private room while Rachel and Dog woke the women and got them ready to move.
It took him a couple of minutes then I received a single click over the radio. I clicked once in response then began counting in my head as I sighted on the sleeping guard. When I reached five I pulled the trigger, punching a bullet through the man’s forehead. The body was already relaxed and supported as he slept and other than a twitch from the impact of the bullet it didn’t move, remaining seated in the chair. Rachel and I both went into motion, her heading for the closed glass door that opened into the room, Dog at her side, as I headed to meet Zemeck at the swinging doors into the kitchen.
We arrived at the same time, each of us putting our backs against the wall on either side of the opening. First Zemeck, then I, we leaned forward slightly and peered through the oval windows into the large room beyond. Zemeck shook his head to indicate he didn’t see anyone but I held up two fingers.
There was an older woman and a large young man seated at a long stainless steel counter. They looked to be halfway through a meal. The meal I’d heard them preparing earlier that had smelled so good. At the sight of the food my stomach growled loudly in complaint of being so empty.
Zemeck looked at me and pulled a face. I was sure he had something incredibly witty to say at my expense and was glad we were in a situation that required stealth. Taking another look, each of us confirmed that nothing had changed. With a nod I held up my left hand, three fingers extended. I began folding a finger into my fist at regular intervals, Zemeck bobbing his head as I reached each count.
When I folded my second finger in I moved my hand to the front grip on my rifle. We bobbed our heads in unison for the one count, moving on zero. I was first through the door, immediately moving to the right as I sighted on the male, Zemeck following through right behind me.
The woman noticed us first, her fork clattering onto the stainless steel surface. The young man looked up, froze for a beat then went for a pistol that was holstered at his hip. I squeezed the trigger twice and he fell to the tile floor, dead. The woman looked down at him for a long moment then turned her gaze back to us and took a sharp breath.
Maybe she was going to scream, maybe not. Regardless, Zemeck and I both thought that was what she was about to do and the last thing we wanted was noise that would wake up the sleeping people. There were over fifty of them and I didn’t want to have to fight them, nor did I feel the need to kill all of them. The thought flashed through my head in a fraction of a second and I pulled the trigger in tandem with Zemeck.
Both of us had gone for headshots and the woman pitched backwards off her stool, dead before she hit the floor next to the body I’d already put there. I was starting to turn to go to Katie but spun back at a noise of someone moving deeper in the kitchen. Zemeck and I looked at each other and spread apart as we started to move farther into the room.