As they continued their hunting trips, the stags moved lower onto the plains below the cave entrance. This morning, fresh snow had fallen the night before.
“The Stags will move today to find other sources of food. Let’s hope today will be a good day of hunting.” said Christopher.
As they set out for a day of hunting, Natalie was in the fighting positions for the day watch. When she saw Bryan and Christopher leave the cave she radioed, “There’s a small herd moving from the west to the east along the road to the fruit trees. They are a good 17 kilometers from them.”
“Roger, we’re taking a truck to beat them to the fruit trees.” said Christopher.
Bryan and Christopher jumped into a truck and headed to the fruits trees some fifteen kilometers away. When they reached the house, they parked the truck on the eastside to prevent it from being seen.
Christopher radioed, “Where is the herd now?”
“They’re still walking on the road about 10 kilometers away, they are still at their same pace.”
“Bryan, let’s take a position 50 meters to the south to be perpendicular to the herd as the walk down the road. We’ll have a better angle to pick our targets.”
As they moved into position, the herd continued down the road. When the herd was within range, Christopher whispered to Bryan. “Call your target, we need to shoot at the same time.”
“I have the stag at the front of the herd.”
“Good, I will take the one walking in the middle. On the count of three. One, two, three.”
The two shots rang out as one, dropping two large stags immediately. Christopher took aim once again as the herd sped off. At 300 meters, at a full run, he dropped another stag.
Bryan amazed at Christopher’s aim, “Where did you learn to shoot like that?”
“I’ve had plenty of practice shooting at fast moving targets. You get the truck and I’ll get to our kills. We’ll get the farthest one away first.”
Bryan slung his hunting rifle and ran to the truck. By the time Christopher reached the last stag, Bryan was pulling up.
“Let’s load all three in the truck. We can dress them at the house.”
As they were loading the second stag, the radio crackled, “There are two mobiles moving toward you. They are having a hard time getting through the snow.” said Natalie.
Christopher radioed, “Roger, how much time do we have?”
“They’re moving slowly, you have fifteen minutes before they reach the fruit trees.”
“Roger, we have one more to retrieve and then we are heading to your position. Do you have your sniper rifle in your fighting position with you?”
“I carry it like I use to a purse. It’s always with me.”
“If they follow us, you may need to eliminate one or both of the mobile drivers and stay low.”
Christopher and Bryan quickly loaded the third kill in the truck and headed to the cave. As Bryan sped to the cave, Christopher radioed, “Are they following us up the mountainside?”
“No, their mobiles are stuck in the snow 200 meters from the fruits trees. I think they ran off the road. Wait, they are getting out of their mobiles.”
“How many are there and what weapons do they have?”
“It’s a man and a woman. There’s a small child with them in a child seat in the back of the second mobile. I can’t see any weapons yet.”
“Is there anyone chasing them from a distance?”
“No, the road is empty as far as I can see on both sides of the mountain.”
“Get to your truck. When we get there, we will go back to see if we can help them, but I want the three of us there with weapons just in case. Have our helmets, vest and small arms ready by the time we get back. Have Bud and Claudia take the watch from inside. They can keep us posted while we are helping the family.”
“Roger, heading there now.”
When Christopher and Bryan arrived, Natalie was standing in the bed of her truck watching the family moving toward the house with the fruit trees. Christopher and Bryan jumped out of their truck and quickly donned their helmet, vest and small arms gear. Soon the three sped back to the stranded family. When the man and woman saw the truck speeding toward them, they ran back to their mobiles.
“When we reach the family, stay behind the doors pistols only and keep them low. I will approach them to let them know we are friendly. If they draw weapons, you know what to do.”
They stopped the truck five meters for the mobiles. As the doors opened Natalie and Bryan assumed their defensive positions, Christopher walked slowly to the mobiles.
His rifle slung with his hands in the air to show them he meant them no harm. When Christopher was a meter from the mobiles two doors opened rapidly with the man and woman firing a pistol and a shotgun. Christopher dropped and rolled behind a mobile as Bryan and Natalie neutralized the threat. After the sound of gunfire subsided, only the cries of a small four-month-old girl could be heard.
Christopher jumped up to check the status of the man and woman. They were dead. Natalie had the girl in her arms covered in blood.
“Is she shot?” asked Christopher.
“No, it’s her mother’s blood. Why did they fire on us?” asked Natalie as tears welled up in her eyes.
Christopher hugged Natalie, “Honey. Those people were scared and desperate. Desperate people always make the wrong moves. We did nothing wrong, we only defended ourselves. Get the little one in the truck and keep her warm. Bryan and I will search the mobiles and then burn them.”
As Natalie tended to the little girl, Christopher and Bryan searched the mobiles to find another shotgun and two more pistols and a hundred rounds of ammunition for each. Bryan also found clothes and toys for the little girl. Bryan put the weapons with the girl’s clothes and toys in the truck while Christopher put the bodies in the mobiles and set them on fire. As they headed to the house, Christopher watched in the side mirror as the flames fully engulfed the two mobiles. As they were getting out of the truck Sylvia ran outside to meet them, I heard gunfire are you three alright. Christopher hugged Sylvia, then told her the story of the encounter. As Christopher was finishing the story Natalie, tears running down her cheeks, came to them holding the blood drenched little girl.
“Is she hurt?” asked Sylvia.
“No, she just needs cleaning up and a good meal.” said Natalie.
“Let’s take her inside Natalie and get her cleaned up and fed.” said Sylvia.