Your decision to join Captain Frankland’s group provokes a mixed reaction among the original members of Dallas Colony One. They put on a brave face and applaud your courage, outwardly proud that one of their number will be part of his team, but they cannot mask their fear for you, not knowing what awaits you beyond the perimeter wall of the Fort Bliss stronghold.
Using maps and equipment salvaged from the military reservation and adjoining airport, Captain Frankland and Sergeant Haskell formulate a plan of action. At midnight, the team will leave the stronghold and attempt to slip unseen through the surrounding enemy cordon. After that the El Paso city ruins should provide enough cover for you to avoid the clan patrols as you make your way south towards the Rio Grande, where only one bridge across the river still stands—the Stanton Street Toll Bridge. The approaches are known to be guarded but the bridge itself is rarely occupied. The plan is to cross the river by this bridge, using a service walkway that runs directly beneath its central span.
On the Mexican side of the bridge lies Ciudad Juarez, the sprawling, derelict shanty town where Mad Dog Michigan (in deference to Santiago—the Mexican clan leader) has based his operations. The convoy of explosives is due to arrive there at two o’clock tomorrow morning. The team must locate and destroy the trucks and their deadly cargoes as quickly as possible, using contact mines. The resulting explosions are sure to cause panic among the clansmen surrounding Fort Bliss. They will also provide a clear signal to the colony, who will, by then, be ready to exploit the confusion and break through the cordon. Once clear, they are to follow Interstate 10, firstly north towards Las Cruces, and then west towards your intended destination—the city of Tucson.
For you, the real danger begins as soon as the mission is accomplished. Once the explosives have been destroyed, the team must hijack a clan vehicle and escape from Ciudad Juarez as best it can. If all goes to plan, you will rejoin the colony at the New Mexican town of Deming, 100 miles northwest of El Paso, at noon the following day. If the team fails to make this rendezvous the colony will continue regardless.
The few hours before midnight pass quickly. The colony uses the cover of darkness to prepare their vehicles for the breakout. Kate will be driving your roadster, and you use this as an excuse to spend what little time there is left before the mission with her, supposedly briefing her on the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the car. Everyone is aware that she already knows everything there is to know about your car but no one is insensitive enough to make any comment.
At five minutes to midnight, Captain Frankland calls you to join the team. ‘You take good care of my car, y’hear,’ you whisper, as reluctantly you free yourself from Kate’s tender embrace.
‘Only if you promise to take good care of yourself,’ she replies, her voice wavering as she tries to control the fear that is simultaneously tightening her throat and churning her stomach.
‘Don’t worry, Kate. I’ve got a feeling that everything’s gonna work out just fine. You’ll see. Tomorrow we’ll be together again in Deming.’
‘I hope so, Cal,’ she says. ‘I dearly hope so.’