Instant recap: As Marcus prepared for the Fed invasion, a former Solarian Sodality member got tricked by an enemy into betraying them, providing the legal ammunition the government needed as a pretext to move against the group.
11. The Burning Cross
FBI agents arrived at Soul Haven, backed up by an ATF squad. They were received peacefully, as per Marcus’ instructions. A few people were arrested on “suspicion” warrants, but no credible evidence could be found against anyone on any charges, including child abuse. Nevertheless, proceedings were begun to shut down Soul Haven on false accusations of drug use, trumped-up violations of the land-use code, and a complaint by their only non-friendly neighbor, a wealthy developer who had designs on the property.
As Marcus also wished, the kindred told the Feds that he was in Cascadia, and a larger contingent of agents came to call there. Again they met no resistance at the main buildings. The vast scale of the property showed them the futility of attempting large-scale arrests, and led those in charge to conclude that an effort to close down the colony could invite long-term guerrilla warfare. Following Marcus’ orders, the Cascadians told the agents that he was “hanging out” at the Alamo with “a few close friends”. The convoy set out for it, but its leaders soon discovered that the vehicles were not equipped to penetrate the rugged terrain, and suspected that they could be driving into a trap from which there would be no retreat.
The force withdrew, and the government spent some time on aerial reconnaissance. At length the peaceful hills were invaded by a large platoon of Humvees and armored trucks manned by heavily-armed agents. They didn’t get very far along the narrow dirt road before the lead vehicle was destroyed by an explosion. The battle had begun, and there was a long delay as a squad reconnoitered for land mines. They found a few and detonated them; the passage was deemed safe now, and the convoy proceeded. But in the next quarter-mile another truck got blasted, and the explosion clearly came from the woods beside the road. A squad scoured the area and found no hostile forces; the leaders concurred that it could only have been a roadside bomb which had exploded even though the truck hadn’t rolled over it. Thus did they get their first inkling of the sophistication of Marcus’ defenses ~ for in fact the Solarians in their fortress were monitoring the advancing vehicles electronically, and had remotely triggered the bomb at the right moment.
Again the invaders withdrew, and the next advance was led by a tank. After only a few minutes on the access road it was demolished in a larger explosion by a ballistic missile. Marcus had plenty of them at hand, and his crew wiped out half the Federal force before they could make good their retreat. Next the Feds attacked from the air with heavily-armed helicopters, but before they could get within effective range one of them was downed by fire from anti-aircraft guns and another by a missile. Then for the first time in history a U.S. Air Force fighter jet attacked an adversary on American soil. The Solarians fired missiles but the jet evaded them, swooped in and destroyed the launchers.
Now the tanks and trucks were able to advance to the walls of the Alamo, and there began a furious siege which lasted for several days. Though they were able to keep the enemy from entering the building, the defenders suffered heavy casualties. On the sixth day Marcus decided that it was time for the group designated for escape to make their exeunt through the tunnel. Many of them implored him to be allowed to remain with the suicide squad for the last stand, but he was adamant and wouldn’t second-guess any of the choices that had already been made. After a lingering farewell embrace with Marcus, Saxon joined Victor and about two dozen other fighters, and they filed into the mouth of the tunnel. About halfway along they remotely detonated the entrance in the basement, hopefully leaving no clue for the agents that the tunnel had ever existed.
Marcus ordered his remaining forces to cease fire and lay low. The ground floor had long ago been abandoned, and after several hours of silence a squad of agents battered open the front door and cautiously entered. Marcus gave them a minute to spread out through the large living room, then on his order all the fighters began shooting through the floor with their high-calibe rifles. The intruders below were cut down in their tracks, and those who managed to scramble back out the door were easy targets for Marcus and his men firing from the windows.
The battle had become a stand-off, and on December 8, 1984, the federal agents firebombed the White Alamo. Marcus and his few remaining comrades were forced onto the roof by the flames, where they were fired upon by helicopters. One antiaircraft gun had survived the earlier assault, and the defenders shot down one chopper, after which the others retreated. The fighters continued to exchange fire with the agents on the ground even as the flames rose to the top floor.
At length Marcus witnessed the rest of his men getting picked off by the enemy, and he was the last man standing. He continued to fire furiously at the agents even as the flames swirled around him. Meanwhile, a contingent of non-combatant Solarians were flying high over the scene in an unmarked helicopter, and were astounded by what they saw. The Alamo had four wings, one of which was longer than the others, so that the building had the shape of a cross when viewed from above. With binoculars the kindred in the chopper could see Marcus on this burning cross battling his adversaries to the bitter end. Finally the flames hit the ammo cache, and the cross erupted in a gigantic fireball.
Those who had escaped through the tunnel were now at the shelter in the woods below. They heard the explosion and saw the black cloud rising over the hilltop. Saxon wept, as did even the strongest of her brothers in arms.