Refreshed from a decent night’s sleep in one of the finest suites at the San Ignacio Resort, Henry repacked his backpack, focusing his energy on this mission as if on assignment from his superior officers. He had taken the time the previous evening to train the teenagers in some basic reconnaissance skills and strategies.
The poorly organized and cocky teenagers were under the mistaken impression that knowing how to shoot a Brocket Deer with a compound crossbow or stalk and kill a gibnut qualifies them for tactical guerrilla warfare.
Henry saw disaster ahead if he didn’t take action. He divided them into teams of four and assigned each team a sergeant. Not knowing the kids in advance, he operated on instinct, eyeballing which of the four boys was most likely to take charge.
He made sure each team had at least one hunting rifle or compound crossbow. Thankfully every young man owned a hunting knife and knew how to spear an iguana from twenty yards away.
Henry grouped two teams of four into squads and assigned a staff sergeant, then pulled together two squads into platoons and designated a lieutenant to each platoon. Those two platoons made up his company of thirty-two hot heads ready to take on the world and rescue their girlfriends and sisters.
What could have been a logistical nightmare quickly organized into his dream team of soldiers. Inexperienced soldiers, but soldiers, nonetheless. Confidence replaced cockiness and the boys were motivated by love and duty.
Each squad was in charge of one woman or teenage girl, performing the double duty of bodyguards and carriers of provisions. These exhausted girls who’d returned the previous day from trekking this very path were risking their lives to return to the same place they’d recently escaped. He refused to ask them to carry any weight. They should have been convalescing.
Once the remaining girls were rescued, one platoon would escort the girls home immediately and the other platoon would stay and take down the kidnappers.
Machudo was designated as Henry’s first lieutenant and asked to watch everything he did. If something happened to Henry, Machudo needed to take charge. No pressure there.
This could work.
Or this could be a disaster.
By the end of the day, they’d know one way or the other
Henry swung his organized backpack onto his shoulders, clicked the chest strap into place then headed out of his suite to go find the lovebirds and humanitarian aid workers.
“You look battle-ready.” Whitney’s voice welcomed him when he stepped into the hallway from his hotel room.
Henry turned to find her leaning against the wall wearing sturdy clothing and a backpack of her own. “You as well. Where the heck did you get the change of clothes?”
“We have gear in the Jeep all the time in case we have to pick up and move in a hurry.”
“Your organization is impressive.”
“Keep those bars on your shoulder, Captain,” Whitney said. “We need you right where you are.”
“Yeah, well, if I lead a company of amateur soldiers into battle, I may not have a choice. Those bars might be ripped from my shoulder the minute I step on U.S. soil.”
“We’ll cross that bridge when or if that happens,” Whitney said. “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, but you know where to look for us if you find yourself out of a job.”
“I’d be honored to serve at your side.” Gone was the flirting from the night before. This was a serious conversation and declaration of commitment to one another. Henry hoped he lived through the next few days so he could explore the potential relationship he felt developing between himself and Whitney Olson.
Before the discussion could get any deeper, Kisa and Joab emerged from a suite down the hall, Felicia and Aaron from another, and Xavier from the third. His team of vigilantes headed down the hotel elevator intent to make use of the full service breakfast before driving back up the mountain to lead a team of young men into the wilderness guided by two frightened girls.
What could possibly go wrong?