Team Freedom: Operation Skyline (Chapter 3)

I wrote this in high school. I now find it humorous. I offer no further commentary and, like a good exegetical scholar, will let the text speak for itself. Enjoy.

 

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Sunday morning dawned cloudy, it was a typical Seattle morning. There was a drizzle of rain outside as the four friends prepared for church. By the time they were ready to leave, the drizzle had turned into a steady downpour. They piled into Chase’s truck, and Jake told him how to get to the church. It took them a little under fifteen minutes to get to the church. When they got there, the place was packed out, they had come to the eleven o’clock service. There were not enough places for them to sit together. They all went to separate seats. Chase was sitting in the middle, two seats in from the aisle. An older couple was sitting on his right and a family with four kids on his left. Then the singing began. Chase didn’t know any of the songs, but he tried to pick up on them as they went along. After the singing, the pastor came to the front and began to speak. The man did not seem content to stand in one place behind the pulipit. Instead he moved about the stage as he spoke. His sermon contained the right amount of humor and seriousness to keep people interested. As the sermon neared an end, his voice dropped, his voice was quiter, but it had a passion, and fire to it. As Chase listened he could tell that the man believed every word he was saying. The words he said stirred Chase to the depths of his soul,

“Imagine for a moment that a father, a perfect, sinless father. Creates a world, a perfect, sinless world. The Father creates people, two people, man and woman, they are perfect, sinless. God creates man with free will. One day the creation, disobeys a direct commandment of the Creator. The creation becomes sinful. The sinless Creator has to have a way to redeem his creation. The Creator loves his creation so much that he comes up with a plan to send his Son, His perfect, sinless Son. In order for his creation to be saved, His only Son, His sinless Son, would have to die for the sinful people of a sin filled world. The Son would take all the sins of the world upon His shoulders, and He would die, the only sinless human that will ever live, died because of my sins, because of your sins. The Creator has done all this for His creation, and all He asks is one simple thing. All He wants you to do is believe, believe that His Son was sent from Heaven, believe that He was sinless, believe that He died, and believe that he rose from the dead on the third day. Because this sinless man died, we can be saved, all we have to do is believe. God made it so very simple, that it is hard for us, in our complicated society, to accept the simple, yet complicated and profound, gift of salvation. When Jesus died all our sins died with Him, when He rose, our sins stayed dead, but he proved that he had power over sin and the result of sin, which is death. In the closing moments of this service, I’m going to ask you a question, a simple question. Are you ready to believe? You can be saved right where you are this morning, or you can show the world that you are ready to accept salvation by coming forward, to the altar and kneeling in humble adoration before God, telling Him that, yes, you do believe. If  you feel ready to make this decision, don’t hesitate, come to the front where we can pray for you.”

The pastor stepped down off the platform and stood next to the altar in front of the church. Several people began making their way to the front. Chase felt his stomach tighten, something inside of him seemed to push him to his feet. He stood for a moment, then he moved into the aisle and walked down to the front. He knelt and laid his head on the altar. He felt a tear slide down his cheek and watched it fall on the wood. Just then he felt a big hand on his shoulder, he turned his head enough to see who it was, Jake was kneeling beside him , his eyes were misty as he said,

“Chase, would you like me to pray with you?”

“Jake,” Chase said, barely above a whisper, “This is what I have been missing my whole life, that empty spot I have always had, I can already tell that this is what I need to fil it. Would you, could you, pray with me?”

Jake’s eyes were not just misty any more, now the tears flowed freely down the face of the big man, this was the moment he had been praying for since the day he had met Chase, it had finally come. Quietly Jake began to say a prayer that Chase repeated,

“Dear Jesus, I know I have sinned. I don’t deserve your forgiveness, but I am finally ready to accept it. I believe that you died on the cross, I believe that you rose up from the dead, and I believe that because you died you gave us grace. I accept that grace now, as I ask you to become the Lord, the center of my life. Thank you Lord, Amen.”

Chase looked up, on his face were tear stains, his eyes were red and puffy, but one could already see a change, just from the look in his eye he was obviously a different man. Jake stood up from where he was kneeling, Chase did the same. For a moment the two just stood there looking at each other, two grown men, both with tear stained cheeks and puffy red eyes. Jake took a step forward and embraced Chase. Then the two men returned to their seats. They were suprised to find that Jose and John were not where they had been sitting. Chase glanced towards the front of the sanctuary. There he saw the two kneeling side by side, the pastor had moved off the stage and was praying with the two men. After about a minute John and Jose stood up and started walking towards Chase and Jake. They all walked to the back of building and then out a door that led to the parking lot. Outside the sun was peeking over a dark cloud. Rain was drizzling, and a rainbow stretched across the horizon. The four men stopped for a minute and just stood in silent wonder. Their whole life’s story was unfolding before their eyes in a spectacular display of nature. Each one of them felt free, they felt that they could finally see all the colors of the rainbow, they had finally found the piece that had filled the hole in their souls. Slowly they walked to Chase’s truck, they piled in and started heading towards the Outback Steak House. After making it through the slow Sunday afternoon traffic, they pulled up and found a parking place just as a car was pulling out. The place was packed out.

They walked to the door, a waiter standing at the door handed Jake a small pager that would vibrate when there table was ready. They waited for about fifteen minutes before the pager finally vibrated in Jake’s pocket. They walked inside and went to their table. Since they ate there so often, most of the workers knew them by name. They nearly always got the same table, except for times when the place was especially packed. They liked to sit by the window that let them view the cityscape. Each of them oredered a steak except for Chase who was in the mood for pork chops. Each ordered a tall glass of iced tea. As they sat together waiting for the food, the coversation was about one thing, what had happened earlier that day.  Jake started off the conversation,

“Guys, you don’t know how many nights I have laid in bed and prayed for this day.”

Chase looked up from the tea he was sipping, “Well your prayers paid off, and what can I say, everything my life was lacking, I found in a short five minutes on my knees, praying to a God that I always knew existed, but had never acknowledeged.”

“I know what you mean Chase.” Jose chimed in, “the instant I stood up from where I was kneeling, I felt that the hole in my life had been filled.”

John who had been quiet spoke up, “I always knew what I was lacking, but I thought that I could do enough good to earn my salvation, it only dawned on me today, that unless I am absolutely perfect, I cannot be saved on my own. I finally acknowledged that I was imperfect and could not do it on my own.”

Just as he finished talking, the food arrived, the men busied themselves in eating there various steaks. As they ate, the conversation drifted to what they were hoping would happen in the future,

“Truth be told guys,” Chase said, “I’m starting to seriously look for someone to spend the rest of my life with, the pastor today invited me to come to a group that they have at the church for people in their twenties, and it sounds like a good chance to get to know some girls.”

Everyone smiled, Chase had always been the romantic of the group, but each one had to admit that marriage never been far from their thoughts the last few months. None of them were dating at the time, but each one felt they were ready for a longterm relationship. Although none of them were especially good looking, each one had characteristics that they thought were above average. Chase had a beatiful smile. When he smiled, the edges of his eyes would crinkle up and you could tell he was genuinely happy. His eyes were also attractive, with a grey\blue-green color that seemed to change between the three.

Jake was the most muscular of the group, if a girl ever wanted to have a gentle giant, Jake would be the perfect one. On the outside he was tough looking, but on the inside, just as sensitive as a child.

Jose was darker complected then any of the others, and his brown eyes always had a sparklebof mischief in them. He could make just about any person laugh, even if they had nothing to laugh about.

John although quiet, had a great personality, once he became comfortable with a person he would support that person and help them in any way they needed. He was always very modest about his knowledge, and didn’t flaunt it to get attention.

Each man had something special about them to give them a special appeal. As they continued to chat over their food, the pager at Chase’s hip beeped. He looked at it quickly and said,

“Guys, looks like we get our first mission, we need to report to the police station as soon as possible.”

Jake got up and paid for each meal, then he walked quickly out of the restaurant and ran through the parking lot to the truck. Chase pulled out into traffic and drove as quickly as was safe to the police station. When they arrived, they piled out and walked into the buliding. A man greeted them and escorted them to a room. They entered the room and about a half dozen eyes followed them to their seats. Several men whispered to each other as a man stood to speak,

“We are dealing with a crisis so I’m going to get right to business. I have called these four men here because they have been personally reccommended to me and are said to be some of the best in their fields. We are dealing with a multiple hostage situation. A group of about twelve men entered a hotel in downtown Seattle early this morning. These men proceeded to take roughly twenty hostages. They are apparently a local gang that needed some big money fast. They are demanding ten million dollars by twelve tomorrow night, if they do not get it, they blow up the hotel and all the hostages. So we need to act fast, these four men hold the fate of over thirty others in their hands. If  there is any person here who sees any reason why these four should not take this mission speak now.”

No one said a word, the man looked at the team, “Gentlemen, the man outside the door will take you to a room where you can get you gear. Your mission starts at twenty\_two hundred hours. Goodluck.”

All the men stood up, the team was escorted to a different room where they were given their gear. Each man was given a H&K silenced 9mm assault rifle. Each man was given a Glock 9mm for a sidearm. Chase and Jake were given flash bangs and frag grenades. John and Jose were given flash bangs and kits to aid them in disarming the bomb. All were given light body armor.

All of them had hoped to go to church that night, but it didn’t look like that was going to happen. So they all stayed at the police station, the hours passed slowly as they waited for the clock to reach the appointed time. Finally a man came and got them, it was time. They were taken to a black car and told to drive to a red house about three blocks from the hotel, from there they would approach on foot.

As the car drove through traffic Chase spoke up,

“Guys, I don’t think it would hurt if we said a prayer before we did this.”

The others nodded in agreement.

“Dear God,” Chase started, “Right now we wanna thank you for the opportunity you have given us to help people. We pray that you would give us strength in this situation, please help us to make the right decisions, please help no one to be hurt. Amen.”

It was obvious that the prayer had helped to ease some of the tension that the group felt. Throughout the whole thing they would be working as one team, only splitting up if absolutely neccesary. Chase was about to speak when the driver spoke up,

“We’re there guys, good luck.”

The men got out of the car and stood in the cool Seattle night for a few moments, then they began to move in. The plan was to enter through a basement loading ramp where trucks unloaded supplies for the hotel. From there they would move carefully to the lobby where all the hostages were being held. Then the hard part would be trying to free them.

Silently they covered the three blocks to the hotel. When they were within two hundred yards they stopped. Chase pulled out a set of night vision goggles and looked around the area. From where they were at only one guard was able to be seen. That guard was on the opposite side of the building so they voted to just leave him alone. Chase motioned for them to continue moving. So they started running around the side of the building, once they reached the backside of the hotel they could see the loading ramp. The problem was there was a guard there, and there was a light on a pole that illuminated the whole area. They only had one option, get rid of the guard. Jake made a signal with his hands that said he would handle it. The other three would cover him. Jake moved his big frame into the shadows along the side of the building. For nearly a minute, the three others lost all sight of Jake. Then they saw him moving just outside of the circle of light on the ground.

From where Jake was standing the man was about ten feet away. To far to move in without being seen. He needed a distraction. Feeling the ground, he found a fairly good size rock. Picking it up, he threw it across the parking lot, across the circle of light, and into the shadows beyond. The rock clattered along the pavement when it hit the ground. Then Jake made his move. With his pistol drawn, he sprinted towards the man. His powerful legs covered the ten feet with incredible speed for such a big man. As he got about three feet away the guard heard him and began to turn, but he was to late. Just as the guard brought his gun up, Jake grabbed it and roughly wrenched it from his grasp. The man was stunned for a moment, and it was that second that Jake needed. Bringing his gun back, he brought it down hard on the mans head. There was a thump, and the man crumpled under the blow. Jake pulled a pair of handcuffs off his side, then he grabbed the mans arm and drug him over to the lightpole. He cuffed one hand put it on one side of the pole, than he did the same to the other. The guard was out of the way. Jake figured that his blow would keep the man out for a few hours at least. He motioned to the others, and they ran over to him.

“Nice work Jake!” John said

Jake smiled and said, “I was suprised that my heart’s thumping didn’t give me away, I’m just glad I didn’t have to do more than hit him over the head.”

Chase smiled but became serious, “Well, we better get moving, a lot of lives are at stake here.”

With that the group started down the loading ramp into the dark storage area of the hotel. As soon as they were inside, all of them flipped on a small, but powerful light connected to their heads by a band. They looked all across the room, no one was in sight. Jose spotted a door and quietly the group made their way over to it. John tried the knob, it was locked. Blowing up the door would be to loud, they would have to pick the lock. John pulled a small kit out of a pocket. He pulled out several small tools and went to work on the lock. He had a hard time holding the tiny tools because his hands were sweaty. After several minutes, he got the door unlocked. Chase looked at the group then nodded his head. Quietly he opened the door. He carfully looked out into the hallway of the hotel, at one end, he could see the shadow of a guard positioned around a corner. He motioned for the guys to follow him. Slowly, quietly, they moved down the hall. When they were about twenty feet away the shadow moved! The man was moving around the corner towards them, he only had one option if he didn’t want to shoot the man. Putting his gun in a holster he sprinted the remaining twenty feet. The man was just coming around the corner when Chase got there. Chase was not big, but he was fast, and when he slammed into the guard, it threw the guard into the opposite wall! Chase fell to the ground, but was up in a flash. When he had hit the guard, the man had lost his gun. The guard stood up with hatred burning in his eyes. Suddenly the guard flew at him with a flying kick he had only seen in martial arts movies movies. Chase dropped flat on the floor and the man flew over him. Chase rolled over just as the man came down where he had been. Chase got up in time to get in position. The guard approached him, and threw a hard punch, Chase moved to one side and the punch missed, as the guard was off balance he grabbed the man’s arm and pulled him to the floor. He put the man in a painful hold as he took a set of handcuffs from his side, he cuffed the man and took him to a closet and locked him inside.

Chase motioned for the others to join him,

“The lobby is down the next hall, but we wanna try and get at it from the balcony above the lobby, so we’ll wanna get in that elevator across the hall.” Chase said as he pointed to the doors for an elevator.

The men walked over and Jake pressed the up button. In about twenty seconds, the elevator appeared and the team got in. The doors closed and they headed to the second floor. The doors opened, a guard standing outside the doors turned bring his gun up! Chase brought his gun up and there was a muffled pop as the silenced weapon fired. The guard fell to his knees, looked at the men, then acted as if  he was trying to say something, then he fell on his face. Jake walked over to the motionless form lying on the floor. He felt the neck for a pulse, he shook his head,

“He’s dead, you did what you had to Chase, lets just hope we don’t have to do it again.”

All of them looked a little pale, that was the first time they had ever seen someone get shot. They walked on down the hall towards the lobby, they could see the railing for the balcony about fifty feet in front of them. Chase looked at each member of the team, this was it. They moved on down the hall, when they were within twenty feet, Chase motioned that they should turn on their radios. Getting down on his hands and knees, he crawled the rest of the way to the balcony. When he reached it, he came up on his knees and peeked over the edge. It was a ten foot drop to the floor, it looked like all the hostages and been locked in the conference room. There were about ten guards in the lobby. Chase got back down below the railing, he whispered in his radio,

“Go ahead and crawl over here quietly.”

The men did that, and within a minute, they were all together.

“Here’s the deal,” Chase whispered hoarsely, “Jose, I want you to jump off the balcony right above the doors to the conference room, you should be able to drop right behind the registration desk, that will give you cover. Jake, I want you to go over to the left side of the balcony, from there you can drop behind a bookshelf and cover Jose while he tries to pick the lock to the room. John, I know you are perfectly capable, but we need someone up here to cover us from above. So I want you stay up here, ready to toss down a grenade if you have to. I’ll lead the initial attack. I’m going to toss down two flash bangs, one into each concentration of guards. As soon as they hit the ground, I want you two to jump down and get in your places before those go off, as soon as they go off, I’ll jump down behind the main desk. John will pop up and cover us all. You got it, this is our one and only chance, lets not blow it, for the sake of all the hostages.”

All heads nodded, Chase motioned with his hands, and all the men went to their spots. When they were all in place, Chase counted quietly in the mic of his radio,

“5,4,3,2,1! He stood, a flash bang in each hand, he threw one into a group of men, then he threw the other into another group of guards. Jose and Jake leaped over the balcony and fell to the floor below with their guns drawn. John stood up from behind the balcony, and Chase put his hand on the balcony and heaved himself over. As soon as Chase hit the floor both flash bangs went off. All the guards fell to the floor holding their eyes and ears. Some recovered and picked up their guns, those who had guns began firing at the places where the men were hiding. Suddenly gunfire erupted from the balcony, Chase saw a guard fall to the ground, the others scrambled for cover. Chase stood up and fired into the group, wounding two! He saw Jake fire and another man fell. Chase saw a man shooting at the desk Jose was behind, he fired at the man and saw him fly into the wall and sink to the floor. He watched as the five uninjured guards threw down their guns, and came out from their places of cover. Chase motioned to Jake who came out and quickly handcuffed each man, injured or not. Then he took them to a corner of the room to guard them. Jose had just got the door to the Conference room open. He heard a shot as Jose fired into the room, there was a muffled grunt, and the sound of a person falling on the floor. He walked over to the door, Jose’s fast hands had saved his life, a man had been waiting for him.

“Jose,” Chase said, “escort these people out to the parking lot, take John with you, and call the police let them know they can come on down.”

Jose nodded and did as he was told. Within a matter of minutes the hostages were all out in the parking lot with a group of police. Police came in and took the Chinese radicals into custody. After all the building was cleared, the team looked around the lobby. There were bullet holes all over the place, most of which were near the places where they had been for cover. As they looked around, a man on the top of the balcony stood up, and a grenade came whistling through the air. Jose saw it first and yelled the warning, all four of them dove behind the main desk. The grenade went off with a deafening bang. Jake pulled a flash bang from his belt and threw it up on the balcony where the man had been. The man saw it and leaped off of the balcony. As soon as the man jumped, the flash bang went off, the force of the explosion knocked the man out while he was still in the air. He hit the ground with a loud thud! The team walked over to the man, he was still alive, but appeared to have hit his head in the fall. Chase radioed for an ambulance, and they waited for it to arrive. When it did a group of about twenty police officers arrived, they would go over the building completly checking for bombs. The team walked out into the chilly Seattle air, they looked up at the sky, it was bright from the lights of the city. They each one breathed their own prayer of thanks.  Their first mission had been successful!

As they walked through the parking lot, a man in a car motioned to them, they walked over,

“I’m supposed to take you guys back to headquarters, so hop in.”

The team got in the car and made themselves comfortable for the short ride to the police station. When the car pulled into the parking lot, the team noticed something, TV lights, reporters, and cameras were scattered all over the area.

“What’s going on?” Chase asked the driver.

“Oh, I forgot this was your first mission, the media likes it when a group of people rescue another group of people, so you get to tell them what happened.”

Chase was speechless, he had no idea that he would have to put up with the media when he signed up for the job. It looked like he would be the one who would have to handle it, since he was the leader of the team. He was not looking forward to it. Sure he thought it would be nice to be on TV, but then he would lose some of his privacy.

The car rolled to a stop, and the driver got out and opened the doors for the men. As soon as they had gotten out of the car, they were swarmed by reporters, cameras, and microphones.

“We understand shots were exchanged in the hotel, was anyone injured?” A reporter shouted.

Chase looked half scared as he was swarmed by nearly a dozen reporters with camera lights glaring in his face,

“Uh, two of the radicals were killed, and several more injured, and as far as I know, none of the hostages hurt.”

Many more questions were shouted at the group of men as they made their way through the parking lot to the main doors of the police station. Finally after wading through a sea of media, they made it to through the doors, and into the quiet of the lobby. A man was waiting for them to take them to a room for debriefing. They were led into the room, and the door was shut behind them. The man who had given them directions earlier stood up to tell them how they had done,\par

“You guys can go ahead and take off all that body armor while I tell you how you did. First off, your performance was better than any first time performance I have ever seen in my entire time in this line of work. What impressed me most was you prevented any civilian casulties, and you protected yourselves from being hurt. Now about the gangsters, it looks like this was just a small part of a bigger group, if that is so, you may have a whole campaign on your hands. I could make this team responsible for bringing the rest in. From your experience today, I trust you learned that the men you are dealing with know what they are doing, and they are willing to go any to length to meet their objectives, even killing police officers. We think they were trying to get money to start a new drug ring. They may have under pressure from someone higher up to come up with the money. I believe that is probably why they were desperate enough to take so many hostages and to choose a hotel which is not a good place to stage something like that. Hopefully that was the end of the drug ring. Most of your work will be along these lines. I hope you never have to  truly turn into an anti-terrorist team. Terrorists are usually even more ruthless then these gangsters. Not to mention better trained and armed. It’s nice to know that if any terrorists decided to try anything here in Seattle that we’ll have a team on hand trained to deal with them. Well, I guess that is about all, you all take a day off to rest. If an emergeny comes up and we need you, we’ll get ahold of you. I don’t say this to very many people, but I’m proud of you guys, you proved today that you guys really do know what you are doing. You also proved that you can handle yourselves in a tough situation. All those are necessities to your jobs. Enough with the preaching, good job tonight.”

“Thanks Chief,” Chase said, the others echoed his response

When they left the debriefing, they all felt like they hadn’t slept in days. Less than an hour of work had fatigued them so much, that none of them felt they could drive back to the house. Chase asked that a man drive them home. Once a man was found, the guys piled into a car and the driver pulled out into the traffic and had them on the way home. It was about a ten minute drive to where they were living, but in less then five minutes in the car, they were all asleep like babies. When the car pulled up to the house, the driver had to wake each man and practically walk them into the house. Finally, they were home. They were all so tired that they walked into the living room and went to sleep on whatever piece of furniture was closest. Chase sacked out in an easy chair, Jake was stretched out on the couch, Jose had laid down on the floor, and John had sat down at the kitchen table and with his head laying on the table and was fast asleep. They were not just tired physically, but they were very mentally tired, with that combination, any place was good enough to sleep. So in the darkness of the cool Seattle night, four men slept, they had survived their first mission, they could not even dream what the future held for them.

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