*Song for this chapter-- "Warrior" by MRKTS.*
“Good evening, if you’re just tuning in here with CNN, we’ve got a live report on a developing hostage situation in Absaroka County, Wyoming. At this moment Federal and local authorities are in a standoff against a group of human traffickers who, we believe, have a group of as many as 10 women and young girls held hostage. We’re going to go live now to the scene and speak with the FBI agent in charge of the scene.”
The blonde anchor turned to better face the camera, brow gently furrowing as the call connected.
“Hello, Agent Fallwell?” she greeted, a trained, concentrated look of concern on her face.
“I’m here ma’am.”
The man’s voice was smooth and evenly pitched, warm like honey, and the woman smiled in return.
“Excellent, what can you tell us about the situation?”
“We’ve got a group of men here holding a number of young women hostage in a semi-trailer. We’ve been attempting to negotiate, with little success. These are dangerous men, members of a gang known for their brutality towards women, but we are doing everything we can to get the women all out safely.”
The news anchor nodded and stared solemnly at the camera as the live video showed the scene; a dusty white semi-trailer was parked in the middle of the highway, a roadblock ahead of it and a cluster of large black SUV’s circled loosely around it.
On the ridges surrounding the road were men in black, pointing sniper rifles at the semi, the men in the SUV’s pointing weapons back at them from behind tinted glass, the air so still you could feel the tension through the television.
“So, you don’t expect this to be resolved soon?” the blonde anchorwoman asked, frowning deeply.
“No ma’am, these men, they have no regard for life. It makes it difficult to negotiate.”
At that moment one of the doors at the back of the semi slipped open and a figure was pushed out from inside, falling limply to the pavement. The door was quickly shut again and the camera panned in on a bloody figure lying too still on the ground to still be alive.
“Shit,” the FBI agent swore, and the anchorwoman looked nervous, eyes darting around the studio.
A moment later all hell broke loose.
One of the men in the SUV’s started firing at the snipers and soon gunfire was being returned, bodies were falling out of vehicles, and the back of the semi opened again, another body of a woman pushed out to fall against the pavement.
“Oh god,” the anchor breathed, eyes wide as saucers.
Over the still connected call they could hear the tinny sounds of women screaming from within the truck, their pleas for help reverberating over the line as bullet holes were punched into the metal.
Gunfire thundered louder as the return fire from law enforcement focused on the SUV’s and the cab of the semi, and a lone figure in a POLICE vest darted forwards through the no man’s land toward the truck.
The anchorwoman inhaled sharply, fingers closing around the edge of the desk, “Oh my god, it looks like, oh god,” she murmured, unable to complete her thought.
Bright red hair fluttered behind the person, lean legs churning as she ran forward, her motion cut short as gunfire rang out and her body stumbled back under the force of the impacts.
The anchorwoman gasped loudly as the female officer on the screen fell to the ground, “Oh my god. It appears that a female law enforcement officer has just been shot. Agent Fallwell, are you still there?” she demanded.
On the screen another figure darted forward and grabbed the shoulders of her bulletproof vest, dragging her out of the line of fire.
A rusty streak painted the ground.
ONE YEAR EARLIER
Longmire for Sheriff—Honest and Integrity”
He saw the signs everyday for two months before the special election, listened as people gossiped and debated, wondering if having another Longmire as Sheriff was really the best decision.
Without a real challenger though, Cady Longmire had won in a landslide. She seemed just as surprised as anyone else by the results, if her doe eyed look on election day was any indication.
Mathias couldn’t, or rather, wouldn’t, say if he was looking forward to working with the new sheriff when asked by local journalists—many of whom had known very well about the long-standing mistrust that ran between the old man and the tribal police.
He wasn’t going to poison the well before they ever got a chance to work together, and Cady already knew how he felt about her dad. There wasn’t any need to make things harder than they had to be.
A lot of the good will Cady had gained with her legal clinic had been spent when she had foolishly gotten herself involved with Catori Long and her kidnapping of Tate Dawson.
Part of Mathias understood why she had done what she did, but another part, a larger part, was despairingly angry that Cady was still so oblivious to the pain and anguish Native people had suffered since the first white colonists appeared on the distant eastern shores of this country and had perpetuated into lasting damage on their psyche and way of life.
She was a smart woman, but she was white. Ultimately, she didn’t understand, couldn’t.
The word and the law of the white man had been gospel for generations before his people had finally realized it meant nothing, and he wasn’t about to repeat the mistakes of the past when his people needed him now more than ever.
His people were slipping into the shadows, receding into history, resigned to text books and memories faded with age. Soon, there would be little left of their culture but what had been stolen and perverted, made popular by movies and television.
Like wolves circling a weakened animal, the world circled their weakened reservations, watching and waiting for the day they could finally bury the bones of the First Peoples in the red dirt they had been consigned to generations ago so the earth could be split open and plundered for its natural resources and wealth.
Mathias was tired of fighting, of battling for every scrap of land, every inch of dirt and ounce of oxygen that was soaked with the tears and sorrow of generations before him.
But if he didn’t fight, who would?