Abandoned by their superiors, with over two dozen of their comrades dead or missing, and on the verge of panic, the remaining gunmen in the compound had holed up in the main house, figuring it would be easier to defend.
They had been wrong.
Retrieving their sniper rifles, Gomez and Tavarez had returned to their original position on the mound behind the compound's fence, and from there focused on any movement within the mansion. In less than a minute, they had managed to cut down three of the terrorists hiding in the house.
Tavarez had been responsible for two of the casualties, one shot in a leg as he moved through the first floor’s living room open area, the other just below the throat as he had finished climbing up the stairs to the second floor.
Gomez’s marksmanship, however, had been the most spectacular, hitting a gunman twice as he sprinted through the balcony. The first of his two bullets had struck the man sideways, wounding him between his left upper shoulder and his chest, and spinning him around. The subsequent shot, fired a fraction of a second later, had struck him nearly in the center of his chest, piercing his heart and killing him instantly.
While Gomez and Tavarez kept the terrorists at bay from the front of the house, Lucas, Doel, Michael, and Ojeda approached it from the left side, and Myers, Hazard and Correcaminos from the right. By that time, all of them were carrying AK-47s appropriated from the terrorists who had been shot.
It was now up to the two groups to wrap up the attack.
* * *
Myers’ group first retreated to the alley that connected the compound to the gate of the property—where Negrón had been shot—and from there ran toward the side of the house. They had expected to receive hostile fire from the second floor, but none came.
Leaning against the mansion’s outer wall, the men slid towards its the rear, but midway along the way came upon a closed a metal door.
“I’m going to try to open it,” Myers said to his two companions, who were standing behind him, looking up to detect any movement in the rows of glass paned windows lining the house's second and third floors. They were all closed, though.
The American grabbed the door handle, and it turned easily.
“I’m going in,” he whispered to Hazard, who nodded.
Myers pulled the door open, and waited several seconds. Then he rushed inside.
“Correcaminos, Hazard, you can come in,” his two companions heard him say through his PTT communicator a few seconds later.
Hazard and Correcaminos quickly entered the house, into what was clearly the laundry room. They saw Myers standing by the room’s opposite end, and hid behind the small room’s washing and drying machines.
Myers was looking into what appeared in the semi darkness to be the kitchen. He carefully examined the kitchen area, and perceived no movement. He breathed in deeply.
“Okay,” he whispered to his companions through his PTT, “I’m going in.”
Raising his rifle to his face, he rapidly stepped out of the laundry room and into the kitchen.
He had managed to take only a few paces, however, when a person walked in from the other side, nearly stumbling into the advancing security man.
Not pausing, Myers slid forward and struck the right side of the man’s face with the butt of his rifle. The gunman’s head snapped back and he stumbled on his feet, only to be struck a second time by the American, this time squarely on the face.
With a muted “Huh!”, the man collapsed to the floor.
Several shots rang out from the dark dining room beyond the kitchen, cratering the wall next to Myers and showering him with bits and pieces of tile and concrete.
The American would have gotten shot had not Hazard, who had moved up behind him, pulled him back into the kitchen after detecting the shooter’s dark figure moving in the dining room.
Taking cover behind the walls of the kitchen’s entrance, the two men fired back towards where the flames of the gunman’s AK-47 had been flashing, silencing him.
However, more men who had heard the commotion quickly gathered outside of the dining room, and directed a barrage of gunfire into the kitchen, forcing Myers and Hazard to step back.
“We have to get out of here!” Hazard shouted over the din.
Correcaminos and Hazard retreated into the laundry room and took positions behind the washer and the drier, while Myers hid by the laundry room’s door frame.
“Wait for them to come. Don’t shoot ‘till I tell you,” Myers whispered to the others.
Someone turned on the light switch of the kitchen, and after a few brief flickers, the room was flooded with white neon light.
Myers noticed the large glass window over the kitchen’s sink, and spoke softly into his PTT’s microphone.
“Gomez, can you see the window that just lit up?”
“We see it clearly,” the SWAT captain responded, from his position in front of the mansion.
“Shoot anyone you see moving inside.”
One of the gunmen fired several shots from the dining room, some of them hitting from the kitchen’s wall, others striking the washer with various consecutive metallic clangs, one of them shattering the washer’s glass door.
Correcaminos prepared to fire back, but Myers motioned him to stop and to continue to hide behind the dryer.
“Hey! Anybody in there?!” a voice shouted from behind the farthest entrance to the kitchen.
Myers looked back at his companions, and placed a finger over his lips.
“You can’t win, you know!” the voice said. “Give up, and we won’t kill you!”
The gunman’s statement was followed by a lower, unintelligible protest, and the urgent sound of somebody else shushing him.
“Are you there?” the voice urged, impatiently. “I’m going to count to ten, and then we’re coming for you! One!”
Myers slipped his Sig Sauer pistol into the belt behind his back, and then threw out his AK-47 into the kitchen.
“I’m giving up!” he shouted, stepping out from his hiding place and standing with his hands raised in the laundry's entrance. “You’d better not shoot!”
“A gringo!” the man shouted back. “Well done! How many more are with you?”
“One more,” Myers answered. “He’s wounded and can’t move!”
“Tell him to throw out his weapon.”
“You promised you will not kill us,” Myers said in a fearful voice.
“Yeah, we won’t kill you if you give up.”
Hazard signaled Correcaminos to stay where he was. He placed his rifle on the floor, and pushed it past Myers’ feet onto the kitchen floor.
“Is that all the weapons you have?”
Hazard took out his Glock pistol and pushed it into the kitchen.
“You’d better not be fooling us, or we’ll shoot the gringo!” the bodiless voice warned the Governor’s bodyguard.
Two men appeared within the opposite kitchen entrance, and pointed their AK-47s at the American.
“Tell your friend to come,” the man who had spoken to them before said. He must have been in his early forties, with a broad nose, squinty, distrustful eyes, and a large mouth mostly covered by a full black beard. A round, golden earring dropped from his left ear. He wore a white, V-necked t-shirt and underwear shorts. Probably one of the men who had been sleeping in the trailers when the raid on the compound had begun.
“Like I told you before, I will have to help him,” Myers responded, beginning to lower his hands, and turning his head to look back at his companion. “He can’t move.”
“No, no! Stay where you are,” the half-dressed terrorist said. “Pascual, you get him.”
Pascual, a younger, dour looking man with a receding hairline and a wrinkled forehead, cast an unappreciative glance at his companion, and began to move towards the laundry room. The bearded man also advanced a couple of steps, in order to keep sight of his American prisoner and step over the discarded rifles.
The kitchen’s window exploded in a hundred shards of glass, and several bullets slammed into the kitchen, one of them smashing the bearded man’s jaw, another thudding somewhere into his body.
In front of him, Pascual fell backwards and crashed into the oven, his eyes open with surprise, his spine severed by a bullet, his rifle slipping off his dead hands.
Almost simultaneously, Myers drew his Sig Sauer pistol from his belt and dove head first into the dining room. Two men hiding behind the wall stared at him in astonishment as he slid on his back and shot them both at point blank range.
“Gomez, Tavarez, hold your fire!” he heard Hazard say to the SWAT snipers through his PTT.
The American bodyguard joined his associates a few seconds later, carrying his AK-47 and pushing his Sig Sauer back into his belt. Correcaminos stood up from behind the dryer, holding on to his undischarged shotgun as if it was a lifejacket in a sinking ship.
Leaning under the kitchen’s shattered window—in case Gomez and Tavarez had not received their last message—Hazard and Correcaminos cantered to the dining room table, and waited for more men to come. None, however, did.
Meanwhile, Myers examined the last two terrorists he had shot. One of them was dead, face down on the floor, both of his arms lying straight by his sides like those of a clumsy diver. The other was sitting against the wall, breathing with great difficulty, trying to cover with his hand a wound in his upper chest that bled profusely through his fingers.
“Help…help…me…” he said in a piteous, barely audible voice, looking up at the American.
Myers felt an involuntary surge of sympathy for the dying man. Then the gunman stopped breathing.
“Let’s wait for reinforcements,” he told his two companions, who stared back at him with grateful relief. “Lucas,” he said into his PTT microphone. “We’re into the mansion’s dining room. We’ll wait here for you.”
(Chapter LII will be posted on Monday, October 19)