Puppet Shows and Shadow Plays - Session 3b
With the sheriff down the tunnel, SETH gave RAPSCALLION a wink. They both jumped at the deputy, SETH trying to choke him, and RAPSCALLION attempting to punch him. The deputy dodged both attacks, yelled for the sheriff, and backed out of the cave.
RAPUNZEL grumbled, and she and ROBIN both pulled their guns, pointing them at the sheriff. SÁBADO decided everyone had gone crazy, and they were all going to be shot, so he quietly snuck down the tunnel, up the ladder, and out the hole.
Sheriff Colorados put his hands up and backed up against the wall. “You’re making a big mistake here, Agent Anderson. You know that.”
She cursed SETH under her breath. She knew this was all going wrong, and she didn’t see a way out of it, but she kept her gun pointed.
“We need that bag, Sheriff. Look inside, and you’ll see what I mean.”
The sheriff told her that it was evidence in a murder investigation, and it would be inspected at the station. The FBI would have access to it, but it fell under Apache Tribal jurisdiction. Meanwhile, the deputy was still backing down the path, gun in one hand, and walkie-talkie in the other. “Request immediate backup. The FBI is attacking us!”
Yeah … That wasn’t going to look good in the official report. The sheriff took a deep breath, and in the most confident, imposing manner he could muster, he spoke. “You really don’t want to do this, Agent Anderson. Neither of us wants this, and it’s not worth it. Put down your guns. We’ll all head to our vehicles, and return to our respective homes, headquarters, or where the hell ever, and we’ll calm down. We can forget this ever happened, and after that bag has been checked into evidence, you are welcome to examine it.”
That was a better deal than she could have hoped for, and it seemed like the only way out without totally botching the investigation, their careers, and their lives. She agreed, and everyone put away their weapons. It was a tense walk back down to the vehicles, but everyone drove away safely; everyone but SÁBADO.
Agent SÁBADO had decided his best chance at survival was to walk back to civilization. He looked around for a moment, and then he proceeded in exactly the wrong direction. The forest got denser around him, and after a while he paused, took stock of his situation, and again chose exactly the wrong direction. Then it happened. A twig snapped. Something tightened around his ankle, and he quickly found himself dangling upside down from a tree.
It wasn’t long after that when he heard something behind the tree from which he was suspended. He saw something out of the corner of his eye climbing the tree, and he twisted to see. There he saw the largest Apache he’d ever seen, covered in mud and grinning at him. Something whipped from the man’s mouth and pierced SÁBADO’s neck. He felt himself weaken, but he fought off the tranquilizer.
Agent SÁBADO instinctively grasped for the tentacle-like tongue and got a firm grip. The Apache growled, and holding the tree with his legs, he drew a large, serrated hunting knife. SÁBADO punched at the man, but he missed. For his part, the Apache swung the knife at the dangling agent, but he too missed. Apparently, knife fighting with your legs wrapped around a tree and someone holding your tongue makes things a little difficult.
Agent SÁBADO knew he was in a jam, but he remembered his gun. It was still in its holster, and so he drew it and fired. At point blank range with a heavy pistol, half the Apache’s head splattered away. The IRS agent was only a little shocked when the man shook off its wound, sending gore and brain matter flying.
The large Apache swung his knife once more, catching SÁBADO in the collar, and leaving a deep, nasty gash. The agent screamed a curse in a mix of Latin and Spanish, biting back the pain. A second shot from his pistol removed the rest of the Apache’s head. There was now nothing above the jaw, and yet he continued to fight after a brief stun. The tongue jerked free and retreated down the exposed wind pipe, and Agent SÁBADO fired again, catching the man square in the chest.
The headless Apache dropped from the tree, rolled, and stumbled off into the woods as SÁBADO struggled to stay conscious. He tried in vain to pull himself up, and the best he could manage was to swing over to the trunk of the tree, and hold on. He muttered quiet prayers as his blood poured forth from his wound. It was getting so cold, and he just wanted to sleep, but he kept himself going with his prayers.
At some point, Agent RAPUNZEL thought to text Agent SETH: You have SÁBADO, yes?
SETH’s reply: No. Thought he was with you.
RAPUNZEL swung the pink SUV around and headed back for the cave. It occurred to her that she hadn’t seen him since they were all up there, and he hadn’t left with them. He must have gone out the back. Once at the cave, R-Cell headed up the ladder and out the hole. Looking around, they tried to think of where SÁBADO may have gone. RAPUNZEL decided she was sure he’d have gone back to civilization, and so she headed off … in exactly the wrong direction. This happened to be good, however, as it was the same direction the IRS agent had gone.
They eventually came across him, still up in the tree, still struggling to stay awake. RAPSCALLION climbed quickly up, and cut him down. ROBIN did some quick patch work, and they moved him back to the SUV as quickly as possible. It took a while to get him to the hospital, but he was still alive when they made it. He was immediately admitted to the ER and taken for surgery.
RAPUNZEL texted SETH to bring him up to speed. The reply was this: Keep him under observation. He may be our suspect now.
On this revelation, Agent RAPUNZEL called Major Garrett to arrange for a State Police guard. SÁBADO was handcuffed to his bed despite the fact that he was heavily sedated, and RAPUNZEL had him officially listed as a person of interest.
RAPSCALLION stayed with SÁBADO in the hospital, and ROBIN and RAPUNZEL went to the FBI lab to send the fingerprints and shells for analysis. Everyone else returned to the hotel to calm down and relax.
It was about 3:00 AM when RAPUNZEL got the results from the FBI lab. The shells were casings from a Lee Enfield Mark III rifle, a sniper rifle of British make. The prints belonged to one Master Sergeant Emmanuel Santana, an Apache. Santana was Delta Force and he served in Afghanistan and Iraq before going AWOL in 2004. He hadn’t been heard from since.
Agent RAPUNZEL cursed, and then she called SETH to inform him that they were up against an Apache Rambo.
Shortly after that, she received a call from the Apache Tribal Police. It was Sheriff Colorados, and he sounded shaken. He told her he hoped everyone had cooled off a bit, and though he was still not ready to trust her, he needed her. The station had been hit. It was in flames. There were three dead deputies and another body, headless from the jaw down. The evidence from the cave was missing. He had salvaged the security camera tape but hadn’t watched it yet. She said she was on her way.
RAPUNZEL alerted Agent SETH, and both cells sped to the Apache Tribal Police headquarters; all but SÁBADO who was drugged and under guard, and RAPSCALLION who was sitting with him. When they got to the scene, it was just as the sheriff had described it. The three deputies had been scalped, and the scalps were in the possession of the headless man. He was most definitely dead.
RAPUNZEL asked if her team could watch the tape, and Colorados agreed. He was busy with disaster control, so he would trust her to handle things carefully. She agreed they would. They took the tape back to the hotel, and watched it in the VCR in the hotel conference room.
The headless Apache stumbled in, feeling around with one hand, and carrying a hunting knife in the other. He found a deputy, cut his throat, and scalped him. He repeated the process with the other two. As he was finishing off the third, a black SUV pulled up out front, and three men in black suits stepped out. They entered the station to see the scene. One shouted, drew his gun, and fired. The headless Apache turned and stumbled their direction. One black suited man dove at the headless thing, tackling it. They rolled around a bit, and things got a little confused. Agent RAPUNZEL clearly saw something come out of the headless thing’s neck and force its way into the black suited man’s mouth. The body then went limp and collapsed as the black suited man rose and attacked his former allies. It was obvious they were going to lose the fight, so the other two men fled to the SUV, driving off at a quick pace. The one remaining man calmly put on his sunglasses and walked into the evidence locker, emerging with a green canvas bag over his shoulder. He walked off into the night.