This is a work of speculative fiction. The events, places, and people are all fictional. Any resemblance between any real events, real places and real people, and those that appear in this work is strictly coincidental. We'd waited too long. Not that we had much choice. We were in no position to exploit our victory. We needed time. Time to consolidate and take a breath. Time to gather intelligence so we could be smart and careful about our next steps. But as I sat in the bush on the hillside overlooking the storage facility where the Kirwan Terrace gang kept all the food and other loot that they had collected, my thoughts turned to Dunkirk and how different things would have been if Germany had kept the pressure on. I mentally shook my head to clear it of random thoughts and concentrated on the matter at hand. The compound that contained the storage facility occupied a couple of acres and was surrounded by an eight foot tall chain link fence. Concertina type razor wire topped it, held by angled arms. The compound held three steel buildings. The one we were interested in was nearest the road, nearest the housing community which was a short block away. Up on the hill, Frank and I were on the far side of the compound. We'd found a hide site that gave us a view of the main gate, several entrances and shipping docks of various businesses. I noted that the battery store where I traded for the solar panels seemed to be intact. Most importantly, we could see the front of the building the gang bangers were using. And this is how I knew we'd waited too long. Lavell's patrol returned from their reconnaissance mission the previous morning. He debriefed me and the other team leaders and we started our planning. Plans and contingencies in place we geared up and headed out last night. We drove, using the abandoned vehicles that the 'bangers had no use for any longer, to within half a mile. Juice and his men stayed with the vehicles while we walked the rest of the distance. As we neared, we split up and moved to our various kick off spots. Yesterday, according to Lavell's intel, there were only seven people guarding the facility. Looking down on them now, it was plain to see that in the last 24 hours they'd been reinforced. Or had they? I noticed a couple of red splotches here and there, a couple on the wall of the building and a several more on the ground. “Whatcha make of that?” I asked Frank, keeping my eye to the scope, my check cradled on the gorgeous walnut of the Winchester model 70's comb. “The blood stains? Looks like there might have been a change in management since yesterday.” “That's what I was thinking. Now I'm wondering who we're dealing with.” “Does it matter?” Frank replied from “Sure. Is it someone we want to pick a fight with?” “Why wouldn't we?” he answered a question with a question. “One, they might be better than us. Two, they might not be enemies.” “They look like friends to you?” I looked at the sagging and bagging pants, enormous T shirts, and prevalent amount of red on display. They were well armed, Aks replacing the Ars we were used to seeing. This was a totally different group. Discipline was none existent. Two separate groups were huddled around joints, getting high. Four others walked along the inside of the fence line. You could tell their hearts weren't really in it. They would stop and talk when they met each other, sometimes for minutes on end, before resuming their patrol. Five hung around the entrance of the building, lounging indolently. We had waited too long and another group had moved in while we sat at home making plans. Playing it safe. I beat myself up over taking too long, of being too cautious. Did it matter? I wondered. I ran the numbers and the odds, trying to work out likely outcomes. I laid there, watching through my scope, taking the measure of the opponent. So what if it was a different gang? Did it matter? There might be an advantage in that they were new to this ground. I watched and evaluated. There were seventeen of them that we could see. Four on patrol, seven smoking weed, leaving five hanging at the entrance and two in a makeshift shed by the gate. They looked the least happy. The shed did little to keep the tropical sun off of them and they were baking in their poorly conceived shelter. The bush grew right up to the fence on the outside, even using it for support in some places. Over the course of many difficult hours, Lyle's team had snaked their way through the dense foliage until they just a few yards away. Their job would be to neutralize any patrol, cut their way through the fence and infiltrate when the distraction occurred. Stan's team occupied a small abandoned house diagonally across from the gate. Lavell's reconnaissance had shown the house to have been empty long before our current troubles. Many windows were missing, so getting inside would be a breeze. Stan would follow on and follow up on Juice's breach of the gate. Except we'd waited too long. Our not so enormous prisoner who was shedding weight like an iceberg in our Caribbean waters, was waiting with Juice. At the appropriate time he would drive Shocka's black Expedition with Juice's team hidden in back, up to and through the gate. We hoped that the surprise of seeing their long lost comrade, in their boss' vehicle would get far enough inside the guards' OODA loop that they would do something silly, like let him in. If not, Juice was prepared to encourage our prisoner to drive on through the gate. So much for that plan. This was a different gang, they might know our prisoner, but they'd know him as a rival, and enemy, a member of the gang whose warehouse they had just taken over. “Sierra, Lima, Juliet, this is Zebra Six, opfor has changed, understood, over?” I let go of the push to talk button and waited for the replies. I got three sets of double clicks. “Hold in place until I re-evaluate. Roger?” The three sets were repeated. “Now what?” Frank's question annoyed me, mainly because I didn't have a answer. We had enough men to take the gang bangers. I wasn't worried about success. I was worried about blood. Ours. I wanted our casualties limited to as few as possible. For any number of reasons I couldn't afford any injuries. I thought about the people I had available. Lyle, by the fence, his team armed with the HK UMPs. One of his men had a Benneli M4 and one of the grenade launchers. Lyle had the silenced Glock. I trusted him to take out the sentries quietly. Stan had another of the grenade launchers and the rest of his team had Ars. Juice didn't have a launcher, but he did have the other Benneli auto scattergun loaded with 00 buck. The other three men with him had the rest of our UMPs. Stocks folded, they were easier to deploy from the vehicle. The vehicle it didn't look like we'd be using. I'd worked through several different scenarios, cursing my intuitive mind that made working out linear progessions as difficult as holding onto a greased anaconda. I'd get two or three steps into a plan and lose focus. It's while I'll never be more than an mediocre chess player. Intuitively I kept coming back to one iteration of the plan that felt like it had a good chance of success. I started formulating how I would communicate this to the team leaders when Frank interrupted me. “Hear that?” I didn't hear anything. But then I'm a firearms instructor in his mid fifties who spent too much time at loud concerts and working with a chainsaw, so I wasn't surprised that I didn't hear anything. But I trusted Frank. Blessed by the gods, he's naturally athletic with incredible reflexes and senses to match. I'm not sure which of us gets more frustrated when he points out something for me to see which I’m not capable of unless I have binoculars. So when he said he heard something I believed him. “What is it?” “Truck. Diesel” I waited a few seconds and then, sure enough, I heard it too. The noise got louder and louder and finally we could see the box type delivery vehicle turn off the main road two blocks away and head towards us, red bandana flying from the radio antenna. I cursed as all the mental effort I'd just put into planning flew out the window. “All teams, this is Zebra six, we have a truck inbound. Stand easy. Over.” I got the clicks that I'd expected. As the truck approached, the gate guards ran and opened the barrier so the truck wouldn't have to wait. They quickly closed it behind it and resumed their positions. The truck lumbered across the yard, turning and then backing up to the loading dock. The large bay door rolled up and two men exited the building. Men we didn't know existed. They waited on the dock while the men from the truck joined them. They dabbed up and bumped knuckles and chests all around, big grins on their faces. One of the men that had been in the building gave orders and soon the indolent idlers were hard at work, shifting items from the building into the truck. They didn't mean to hold this facility, just empty it. I wondered how much they gone with already. Not much I could do about it now. All I could do was stop the hemorrhaging. The time for waiting was over.