THE LAST SHAMAN
Sacred circle; one style.
After the first warning of a possible arrival of the unknown strangers; the next morning dawned with a sense of foreboding.
Everyone in camp seemed to feel that things were about to change, and not for the best. Navajo had just finished collecting the corn pollen and was surprised by the well developed cobs, of which there was only one per stem; again very strange.
The rotation of the pairs of guards had gone on for the last two months which allowed people like Fenton to carry on with other work. He now had the small damn almost finished; this would supply both water and a small amount of power from its outlet.
With the alert from the two boys on the closeness of a large gang of unknowns; the community set about preparing for the worst. Everyone had a place and a job to do should they need to defend their homes.
Liam Sr. had put a lot of thought and work into their defences; with the help of everyone, they now had all of the tree top platforms finished and disguised. The track leading into the clearing was booby trapped with claymores and could be fired manually from either of the platforms set back in the trees.
Philippe and Liam Jr. had their own hidden nest up on the ridge behind the clearing; from there they would be invisible and, even though it was about 600 yards and down hill; they would have a good target area.
Small bunkers and fox holes were well spaced around inside the tree line as well as having the solid buildings themselves for protection. For the defence of the farm building and stock pens; Liam Sr. and Fenton had come up with their own version of artillery.
From inside the tree line and well hidden from sight, Dean, Carl, Tristan and Michael could fire their would be mortars; these consisted of a thick metal pipe with a diameter just great enough to slide a grenade down without letting the trigger handle release.
The pipe had a strong spring welded to the base which was pushed down and locked with a rough trigger; next the grenade would be place in the pipe with just enough space to pull the pin out; it would then be dropped completely into the pipe.
The firing was simple and safe; with a foot, one of the boys would release the spring; it would then fire the grenade up and out; as the grenade came free of the pipe, the handle would be released and the grenade would have five seconds before it exploded far away from the boys.
They had practiced a lot with stones that weighed a similar amount as the metal grenades and, after measuring the various distances out from the farm house; had a good idea where they could send their little metal gifts down on an enemy.
There were also many ground traps which consisted of a hole dug down about a foot and covered over with leaves and grass; there was then a plank filled with rusty eight inch nails set in the bottom; they had been sharpened to a degree where they would easily pierce a boot sole; a very effective sentry for the unwary and those who tried to sneak in un-announced.
Added to the help of the four boys and their mortars; Running Horse and Walks Slow would help inside the homestead along with the three boys and Felicia, who had now almost become part of the household; mainly in part with John.
It was not only the arrival of Running Horse and Jonathon Blood, but also the distant sound of roaring engines in the still morning air that alerted everyone of what was to come. Running Horse immediately left the clearing to make the fast run to the farm house to support them; Walks Slow had already left and the four boys were even now setting up their small artillery.
Philippe and Liam Jr. were quickly making their way up to their hide; as soon as they moved into the trees they became almost invisible in their Gilly suits and their training by Joseph on how to move in silence made them like ghosts.
Liam Sr. began to set all the others into their respective places; he was in little doubt that they could well take losses if the numbers approaching them were anything to go by; all he could hope for now was a little help from above. They had prepared as best they could and he felt this would be their true test; as the world got harder to live in if unprepared, they would probably have to face moments like this more often.
Everything in the clearing had been put under camouflage; the spare trailers and tankers were now well hidden; for anyone entering the clearing that did not know what was there; it would look like a small number of people had tried to make a home. There was little to indicate how much the clearing and its people were prepared for their coming.
Ravenhawk, Joseph, Robert and Navajo were all up in the tree platforms and well hidden by their own camouflage; from the platforms they would be the first to see the new arrivals; each had control of six claymore mines which were set against tree trunks along the entry road, they faced both forward and backwards so that, if fired, they would hit the front and rear of the attackers.
All four boys were also armed with M14's and for three of them, new bows for silent work; only Robert had opted out of using a bow, he was not familiar with them but had carried and extra rifle for back up instead; side arms and knives were also an essential part of their weaponry.
The narrow access track to the clearing had been partially covered where it met the main road; there were logs and brush to hide its entrance although a determined person could find it if looking hard enough; the newcomers were looking very hard.
The cacophony of the vehicles now filled the morning stillness; there was no doubting that there were a large number of men coming and they did not sound friendly; the four boys waited in silence. High up in their trees, they could just see each other and the ground below as well as the main track leading to the clearing; all communication among then was done with hand signals taught by Joseph and Ravenhawk.
The loud sound of engines at full throttle eased and the boys could just hear the softer rumble of idling engines; the large gang had stopped at the small roadblock at the entrance. It did not take long for the boys to hear a number of the engines begin to leave along the main road towards the farm section.
While it was assumed that the gang did not know about the farm, they would only have to ride along the road before they would see the work done recently and put two and two together; it looked as though they were all going to be busy, there would be no hope of supporting each other if both were attacked together.
Liam Sr. had set out a plan for their defences; it was solid enough for most things but he had left a certain amount of slack to allow the boys to make changes to suit the occasion.
Ravenhawk was the first in line of the four platform hides. From his vantage point he could clearly see the start of the track to the clearing. Ravenhawk watched as the cavalcade of the gang stopped and looked at the small roadblock.
He was surprised that they did not look like a stereotypical biker gang; there were no patches and most did not even wear leathers. It was a mixture of quads as well as two and three wheeler bikes, added to this were a few small trucks and cars as well as a larger heavy truck at the rear.
Ravenhawk could see what looked to be more than fifty men, all rough looking and most were bearded with long unkempt hair; they were dressed in a variety of clothing from worn leather to chequered shirts and jeans with other combinations thrown into the mix.
Ravenhawk watched as the man he assumed to be the leader stepped forward to look over the roadblock. He did not look all that tall but he was well built with wide shoulders and a belligerent look on his face; he did not look like a man to be trifled with.
Ravenhawk watched and tried to listen as the man began to give orders; first he selected about fifteen men to continue down the road to look ahead; those, Ravenhawk knew would come across the farm land; he felt a little better knowing the boys at the farm could at least handle that many on their own if all went to plan.
The leader called for others to start to clear the roadblock while he looked carefully around. There was a tension in the air that would have made anyone suspicious and the new times only made it more apparent.
While others cleared away the blockage, the leader stepped over and walked a short way down the track keeping his eyes on the ground as he did so; unfortunately there were reasonably new tire tracks showing. Ravenhawk watched as the man traced the tire tracks ahead of him.
After moving only a few yards, the man turned back and called for his men to work faster; Ravenhawk just caught his words as he made his way back to the gang.
"We got something here; there's tire tracks leading into the woods; could be another farm settlement, might even do us for the winter."
Deep inside Ravenhawk's stomach there was a growing knot of anger; for this stranger to assume he could just take what others had built was not going to happen if he had anything to say about it.
The blockage was now cleared; going back to his motor bike, the leader revved the engine and put the bike into gear; all the others followed his example.
There was no intention to just go roaring in, as much as the idea seemed good to the men but, they were not about to go into a place they had not seen. The leader had assumed that anyone who had gone to all the trouble of trying to hide their presence was not going to just let them come in without a fight.
The leader sent four men ahead of him; they rode side by side in pairs. The riders were told to take it slowly and watch for any traps while the others hung back to let them get a bit of a lead. If they were given the all clear then they would follow the four in front.
The four boys in their hides did not make a move; if need be they would let the four go right into the clearing, they would be well watched by those hidden there and Liam would know what to do.
The boys had been told not to waste the claymores; they were better used when a large number were close together. Each tree that held claymores had a small marker tacked high on the trunk although the boys knew exactly where they were but it gave them a better focal point when they had to use the mines.
The claymores were disguised by scrub and bushes so were impossible to see from the track and the boys in their hides were just not in a position where anyone would look for them until it was too late.
Ravenhawk watched and waited as the sound of the four bikes receded down the track and around the small bend before the clearing; the main part of the gang stayed at the entrance looking around for any danger; they were oblivious to the four hides high in the trees and the watching eyes of four very determined boys.
The sound of the four bikes lessened until they were just a muffled sound in the distance. Ravenhawk assumed they had made it to the clearing and were surveying it for trouble. Neither Ravenhawk nor the others could hear anything from the direction of the clearing but they knew that Liam would be the only one the four riders would see.
In the clearing, Liam listened and then watched as the four riders came into the open; the area had been cleared of the two lodges and the sacred circle had been taken away and stored in safety; the ground was now open and with no cover for anyone save those hidden in the buildings and foxholes.
Liam opened the door of the main cabin and stepped out onto the stoop; his M14 was very obvious in his hands. Liam took only one step out from the door and then called to the four riders.
"This land is taken, you're not wanted here so I suggest you turn around and leave while you still can."
The four riders looked at the solitary figure on the stoop; they could plainly see he was well armed but was he alone? One of the riders looked at Liam with a little scorn; it was plain to see he had no respect for a single man with a gun in his hands; after all there were four of them and plenty more back down the track.
The other three riders were looking about for more defenders but could not see or hear anything; the clearing was starting to feel like a graveyard. The silence was becoming oppressive and there was a stillness that they could almost feel on their skin.
The man Liam had called out too looked around once again; the situation felt a little off but he could not put his finger on it; was this single man the only one here?
Perhaps there were others but they were away working at this early hour; it would be just like the farmer type to be out working the fields at the earliest hour. Perhaps this was the only person here; the man decided to try and find out.
"I don't like your odds, old man. Anyone else here or are you trying a bluff; if it's a bluff then it won't work; there are plenty more of us than there are of you. Now old man; why don't you put that gun away and we will let you leave in one piece; this place will do us nicely for the winter and you can have it back next summer."
"Not going to happen sonny; now get back on your machines and leave while you can."
"OK old man, you win this one but don't say I didn't warn you. You have about ten minutes to pack your things and get out of here before the rest of us come looking for bear."
"You had better bring a damn big bear then sonny."
Liam stepped back into the cabin and closed the door. Once inside, Liam took up his radio and gave three clicks; Philippe would know that he was to be ready as would everyone else. It now looked as though a fight was unavoidable; it was time to load for bear.
Liam watched the four riders through one of the gun ports as they turned around and left the clearing; he knew that at best they had ten minutes; a sudden thought passed through his mind; what about the farm, were they ready?
Liam decided to call on his radio and see if the others were under any form of scouting or if they were already under attack.
Collin answered the radio call; he along with the rest were well placed inside the solidly built farm house. Collin was closest to the radio when Liam's voice broke the tense silence.
"Farm, you OK over there?"
"Yes, we've got some visitors down at the corrals but they haven't started this way yet. I'm not sure if they can even see us in the trees but it looks as though they are going to look around anyway so I wouldn't hold my breath about staying unseen." Collin replied.
"OK, keep your heads down unless you have to. Are the four boys ready in the trees?"
"Yes, they have signed in and are ready if it hits the fan."
"Good, tell them not to let any of those guys get too close; if they have to they are to use every grenade they've got to keep those guys as far away as possible."
"Will do, I'll call if things get nasty over here."
"If it gets nasty for you then we will also be in a shit load; best keep your eyes on the job at hand than worry about us. One thing, if you do get clear then you can send the four boys back here with their grenades to help but only if you are truly clear."
"OK, thanks Liam; we're ready for them, we only have what looks to be about fifteen here."
"Good, then watch yourselves, these guys are not playing hop scotch."
At the start of the track, Ravenhawk watched as the four riders rejoined the main gang. There was a pause as the gang members took the time to check their weapons. Ravenhawk saw a mixture of rifles, shot guns and hand guns; there were also a number of very vicious looking machetes being waved around.
Ravenhawk could not quite hear what was being said but the gestures of the leader made it plain that they were going to try and take over the well supplied community in the clearing; Ravenhawk waited for the first move.
The first move did not take long; once the men were ready, the leader sent them ahead with himself staying around the middle of the pack.
The bikes and vehicles began their travel down the track; the narrowness made them stay no more than two wide and only in single file for a heavier vehicle, not the ideal for the claymores but it would have to do.
Ravenhawk got ready with his firing lines; Liam had told them to wait until the enemy were bunched between two sets of mines before setting any off; hopefully it would catch them both in the front and the rear; a devastating attack if done right.
Ravenhawk waited; he did not want too many to be still back by the entrance so it would mean the track would be congested with those in the front close to the clearing and those at the back just starting; he planned to get those at the rear with is six mines; it would help to block off any retreat.
The other four boys watched as the cavalcade passed them; Robert was closest to the clearing and would be the first to fire his mines, it would be the signal for the others to set theirs off.
Time seemed to stand still as the multitude of riders wound their way along the narrow track; Ravenhawk was almost ready to fire at the rear of the mass of bikes when he heard the first shattering bang of Robert's first mine blow apart the silence of the woods; from then on it was like a scene from a horror movie.
The boys had fired off only half of the mines and, when the smoke and dust had settled a little, they could see the mayhem they had caused.
The small ball bearings packed into the mines had been nothing less than death dealers; there were torn bodies and smashed bikes all along the track.
As the boys looked down from their high perches, they could see that, while the mines had caused devastation, there were still plenty of men left to carry on the fight; some were wounded but still dangerous; at a quick glance, Ravenhawk thought they had accounted for at least fifteen men with others wounded; a few of which would be well out of the fight.
The gang now knew that the track was a trap; those that could, dumped their bikes and took to the trees on foot while some tried to ride their bikes into the cover on each side of the track; the four boys in the trees took up their rifles.
It was now a game of cat and mouse; while the boys high above were out of sight and hard to pin point, it also meant the men on the ground could spread out and dodge from tree to tree and find cover wherever it was.
Over at the farm house they heard the first ringing explosion from the mines as did those men down by the corrals. As the men looked around for the source of the explosions, one of them glanced towards the farm house; no one knew what the man saw but he called to his friends and pointed in the direction of the cabin.
All of the men ran back to their bikes and spun them around facing towards the cabin; as they pushed the bikes forward, those in the cabin caught the sight of four small black balls flying through the air.
It was no surprise to those in the cabin that the four grenades exploded high in the air; the four semi mortars had to have been at the maximum elevation; even with the air sprayed with shrapnel there were no hits on the riders although it did make them dive for cover in the long grass.
Every rider let their bike plow on without them until they fell over in the grass; the riders were now afoot and twice as dangerous. The six in the cabin watched as one of the riders took command; using hand gestures, the man got his men to spread wide apart in a semi circle; those in the cabin got ready for the attack.
They watched as the semi circle of men began to move forward; far out on the open grass land were five large stones, on the side facing the cabin was bright red paint; this marked the two hundred yards, they waited for the men to reach the marks.
Back in the trees, Dean watched as the men moved forward; their first salvo had been almost out of range and so they waited; with the men now spread out in a line it was going to be harder. Dean felt foolish for firing too soon and was cursing himself under his breath for ruining a good chance to catch a lot of them grouped together; he only hoped and prayed his actions would not cause someone to be hurt.
Dean went around the four mortars and checked the settings; Fenton and Liam had made them so they sat on a small plate with a leg like brace at the front, there was a simple bolt that could be slid into one of four holes to adjust the elevation for distance; it was simple but ingenious; another gift from Fenton.
Dean and the other boys knew that the number three slot was just over the line of five red painted stones; they would wait for the men to reach near them and then fire their second salvo.
Dean had got the boys to spread out and turn the mortars to cover the line, it would not give them the concentration but the wider spread would cause all sorts of doubts in the approaching men.
It was noticeable to those in the cabin that the leader of the approaching riders was no fool; he would get a few men to run forward while the others were partially hidden in the long grass. Once those few runners were in place, a few more would advance leap frogging those who went first; it was a tried and true tactic of a military man.
Slowly the men moved closer to the red painted stones. When the first few made it just short of the markers, Dean let lose his next salvo; this time they hit the ground and bounced about before exploding and sending a large spout of earth, stones and grass into the air.
A loud scream from one of the men lying close to the red markers let them know they had at least hurt one of the attackers; it was time to let them know they were really under the hammer. Dean gave the soft order to fire everything they could as fast as they could.
The attackers now lying with their heads buried as deep into the ground as they could get were suddenly inundated with small black flying missiles. For those watching, it seemed like a torrent of black balls came rushing out of the thick trees.
When one hit the ground to bounce and roll before exploding; the others could see that more were already in the air; those hiding in the grass could only hug the ground and hope for the best as the small missiles peppered the ground around them.
Shrapnel flew around like busy bees as it found any stray body part not protected by a mound of earth or larger boulder. The leader gave the order to try and rush the cabin; he was well aware that if they stayed where they were it could be the end of them.
The men began to make short rushes forward while also trying to avoid being hit by the torrent of grenades. The advancing men must have breathed a sigh of relief when the saw the grenades exploding behind them; finally they were in the clear, or so they thought.
There was a lull in the explosions of the grenades but it only lasted as long as it took the four boys to readjust their little mortars to the last setting. At one hundred yards and amid the new firing from the cabin; those men left without injury or not dead were suddenly under attack from the air once again.
At the clearing, things were just as hectic as the first of the gang made it through the trees; the greeting they got from the fortified cabin and dining room set them back on their heels; they now knew they had bitten off more than they could chew.
The attackers were now under attack from both the front and the rear; from their hide high up in the trees, the four boys kept up a running battle with those trying to get to the clearing. Those that made the clearing were now finding it also was a trap and they were taking casualties and had nowhere to hide except for the trees; and they were not even safe.
From high on the ridge, Philippe and Liam Jr. were taking carefully aimed shots at anything that showed itself; the gang suddenly found that it was no easy matter to keep arms and legs out of the line of fire from above.
It took a couple of daring gang members to finally break away and make for the far side of the dining hall; once in the trees, the two men made their way towards a back door at the rear of the hall; at least now they thought they could hit back.
The volume of fire from both sides increased; cries from the wounded were often met with silence from the already dead. The leader was now also in the middle of it all; even as he thought about their situation, he knew he had made a bad error but was not in any position to do much about it but try to win this fight.
As his men dropped around him he began to doubt any of them would walk away this time; they had been able to do as they pleased for over two years and had never expected to meet with this sort of resistance. He had to do something or they were all lost.
The sight of two of his men making it to the trees and working their way to the rear of the large hall was a boost to his confidence; if they were able to get inside they could cause panic and, if they were lucky enough to take a few of the defenders hostage; they could well win this one yet.
Consuela was at her usual place behind the counter of the kitchen; on the bench beside her sat the sawn off 12 gauge; Consuela was no fool but felt her place was at the stove to keep the defenders fed. The back door shuddered under the weight of an intruder and then flew open to reveal a man with an automatic in his hands; Consuela's size and weight belied her speed as she spun around while grabbing for the shot gun.
The man took a split second to see inside the hall; it was to be fatal for him; as he lifted his automatic and fired two shots at the large Mexican looking woman, he saw the formidable sight of two black barrels aimed in his direction.
His first shot hit Consuela high in the shoulder; this spun her around faster and brought her own shot gun in line; as the second shot hit her in the side with a glancing blow; Consuela fired both barrels.
The first barrel caught the man full in the face and sent him careering back into the second man; he in turn was spun to the side and only caught the second barrel in his left arm, but it was still enough for the buckshot to tear his arm to shreds and send him back against the door jamb. Slowly he slid down the door dropping his automatic on the floor beside him as he grabbed with his right hand to stem the flow of blood; as yet the shock had not hit him and he looked at the large women now lying on the floor with something akin to horror.
At the sound of the door being forced and the shots behind them; three little sets of eyes turned towards their Nana, which is what all the kids called Consuela. Little Bear was the first to realize what had happened to his Nana; the one person that always had hot cookies waiting for them and always had that nice smell of fresh baked bread about her.
As Little Bear turned and yelled out, Gorge and Maria also turned and saw their Nana on the floor with blood on her usually spotlessly clean apron; what happened next only went to prove that you never underestimate the power of a child's anger or rage.
For the wounded man on the floor by the door; it was as though he was watching a movie in slow motion and he did not like what he was seeing. Three little kids; one dressed like an Indian but with light skin and very blonde hair was standing with two other little kids; the look of sheer unadulterated rage on the three once innocent faces made him shudder inside; what was to happen next only leant more fear to his already badly injured body.
Seemingly from nowhere, there appeared three large and dangerous looking knives in hands that should have been too small to hold them; three pairs of eyes that had the look of total unbridled anger pulsing from them, turned in his direction; there was little time for anything else as the three charged the man on the floor.
Fear struck the man as he tried to pick up his pistol with his bloody and now slippery hand but even he knew he was too late; Maria struck first and drove her knife deep into the man's leg, next was Gorge as he slashed wildly at the man's stomach; but it was Little Bear that did the real damage as the man screamed in pain and fear.
With both small hands on the knife hilt, Little Bear drove the knife with all his strength into the man's chest totally ignoring the man's fist flying at him; it never made contact as the searing pain in his chest caused him to buck wildly, almost throwing the three little rage filled devils off him.
It did not stop there as the three little ones continued their frenzied attack on someone who hurt their Nana; no one, not even God was allowed to hurt their Nana.
It took the superior strength of Liam Sr. to pull the three little, rage filled dervishes off the man; it was far too late to try to save him, not that Liam really wanted to; with calm hands he turned the three little ones away and into the waiting uninjured arm of Consuela; she had managed to get back on her feet just as the three had hit the man.
With her one good arm she tried to hug all three as she led them away to a corner while Liam bundled the two bodies out the door and set about barring it to any further intrusions; from the front of the hall they could still hear the well placed shots of the other defenders.
The clearing was quickly becoming a charnel house as the well hidden defenders took toll of the attacking gang; there was little mercy shown as every shot was taken carefully and with only one intent; they were not going to leave a single attacker to make the choice to ever come back.
Out in the woods; the four boys had taken another toll; at a signal from Ravenhawk; all four boys dropped their climbing rope that got them up to their hides, and slid to the ground; their rifles were for now left up in the hide.
The four boys now set about using age old skills that were almost ingrained from birth; using every bush and tree at their disposal; the boys advanced through the woods; they were not after prisoners. When needed, they used their bows; at other times they went in close and made full use of their combat knives if the gang member was wounded. There was little thought by the four boys of offering any clemency; these men had come to take what they had all built together; it was not going to happen.
Spreading out the boys worked slowly forward to where they could still hear the sporadic shots at the clearing; there was still some cleaning up to do.
At the farm house the situation was less hectic; the continuous shower of grenades and the accurate fire from the cabin had finally decimated the attackers. The leader was now just a crumpled mass on the grass and it was left to one of the others to lift his hands in the air to signal a finish to their attempted attack.
Dean called out for his three friends to stop firing and they all turned to look at the effects of their home made mortars; it was not a pretty sight; the four boys stood up to make their way towards the cabin as the door opened and Collin with James at his side stepped out while being covered by the others inside.
Of the attackers there were only three left uninjured or dead; of the injured there were only two still breathing but well beyond having any ability for fighting.
Collin called for the three to step clear of their dropped weapons; when this was done, James carefully moved forward but made sure he was not in the firing line for Collin or the others. James carried a large bundle of cable ties in one hand; it took only a few minutes for the three men to be bound helpless and kneeling on the clear ground at the front of the cabin.
John and Felicia went out to look at the two wounded men lying in the grass; for John it was to be a shock, not the sight of the men wounded so badly by the shrapnel of the grenades; but by the tigress hidden inside of his girlfriend Felicia.
Felicia knelt down and looked at the two wounded men; with a glance up at john; she stood up and took out her Glock side arm. Felicia showed little to no emotion as she placed a single shot into the head of each man; looking over at John, she said.
"I couldn't have saved them, this is more humane or they would have suffered for a few more hours and still died."
John could not believe his ears; he had always thought of Felicia as a soft and caring girl; or at least that was how she had shown herself whenever they were alone together. John made a mental note to never piss her off.
The two returned to the cabin where the three men were suddenly very afraid after what they had just seen Felicia do; it did not go unnoticed by anyone there.
The small group was quickly joined by the boys from the woods; the captives could not believe they had been bested by a group of young teen kids; it only made them wonder what was going on over the other side of the small ridge. The sound of firing had diminished and were now only intermittent shots; it took only a few more minutes and then there was even silence from that side as well.
As they stood and looked down at their three captives; the sudden sound of Collin's radio disturbed their individual thoughts and the silence that had surrounded them.
Collin took hold of his radio and answered Liam's call.
"Are you all OK over there Collin?"
"Yes, it's all over for us, we have three captives; what shall we do with them?"
"Keep them there; I'll come over just as soon as we clean up a little here."
"OK, is anyone hurt?"
"Yes we have a couple but nothing too serious; I'll tell you more when I get there."
"Thanks Liam, see you soon."
Running Horse looked at the three captives and then gave Walks Slow a glance before talking to the others grouped around.
"These are some of the men that ambushed us; they belong to us for payment of Silas and the other boys they killed."
John quickly spoke up.
"I agree with you Running Horse, they should be given to you all to avenge Silas but; we have to ask the council; it is up to them to give sentence on these men and not us."
"We could just take them; I don't think you would want to fight us over them."
"That's true Running Horse; but we all agreed to the council and to follow their rulings; if we just kill these men without asking the council then we are no better than these men are."
Running Horse looked at all the others one at a time until he got back to Walks Slow.
"What do you say Brother; Silas was your blood, you should decide."
Walks Slow thought about what had been said; deep inside he would have liked nothing better than to have the three gang members to himself; however he also had given his word to support the council; it was a dilemma between his blood and his honour. Fortunately for the three captives, Walks Slow's honour won out.
"We will take them before the council; it is for them to decide the punishment."
Running Horse just nodded and accepted what Walks Slow had decided; he was after all the one who had lost blood to these men.
Everyone from the farm set off with their prisoners; the shooting from the clearing had now stopped and all were hoping the battle was over. It surprised them all that it had seemed like only minutes but, in fact the battle had raged for more than an hour.
The peace of the woods had returned as they made their way over the small ridge and down into the clearing.
The sight that met them was no better than the one they had just left; the bodies of the dead gang members were still lying on the ground, in front of the dining hall were two more captives being guarded by Joseph and Navajo.
As the farm group walked into the clearing, they were just in time to see Philippe and Liam Jr. walk through the trees in their gilly suits; even the two captives were surprised to see how young all the defenders were.
On the stoop of the dining hall sat Consuela; she was being attended by Melisa, alongside sat Manuel with a fresh bandage showing on his left leg; the only other injured person was Antonio.
Ravenhawk stood close beside Antonio with a look of rage on his face; Antonio had a blood stained bandage around his head but seemed to be alert and well aware of what was going on around him; it did not detract from the opening and closing fists of Ravenhawk as he glared at the two captives.
The smell of death hung heavy in the air as the clearing filled with everyone; it was plain to see there would be a need to start the clean up very soon; although it was now into the first days of fall; the sun still had enough heat to cause problems with the dead.
With all that would have to be done to clean up the mess caused by the attack; the problem of the five captives came up; what to do with them? There were too many bodies to be buried for them to have some standing guard permanently over the captives.
It was Dean that saw and resolved the problem.
"Liam! We have an empty container, why not put them in there and lock the door until we finish; its metal and the doors can only be opened from the outside?"
Liam Sr. turned to Dean.
"Yes that would solve a lot of problems; come on we can open it now and get them inside then start on the clean up; I'll get the digger started."
It was late in the afternoon before the gruesome task was finished; the worst part was collecting those killed by the claymores; the many bikes and vehicles used by the gang were the next thing to work on. The machines that were too badly damaged were to be set aside and stripped for future parts; those that were useable were marked to be put under cover for their own use when needed; it was quite a collection.
As everyone sat around in the dining room to try to talk over what had happened; it was very noticeable that those injured in the attack were being hovered over by their loved ones. Ravenhawk especially would not let Antonio out of his sight even though the head wound was not too bad and Antonio was now sporting an unnatural parting in his hair under the fresh bandage.
The two brothers, John and Samuel then brought up the next problem; what to do with the five captives.
Walks Slow spoke up when they were mentioned.
"They were the ones who ambushed us; we have agreed that their penalty should be a matter for the council to decide."
The council members looked at all of those gathered in the dining hall; after getting a nod from each and every one, Ravenhawk stood up.
"We will feed them tonight and hold a meeting about their future tomorrow morning. We all know their guilt but it has to be a fully agreed penalty by everyone here before we can take any action against them."
The nods from everyone else confirmed his decision; the five captives would now face the full community for their past and present actions. Although nothing was said, there were some present that would have been happy to end it all for the captives before dark.