Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.
The south Texas sun had long since been replaced by the dull light of the harvest moon, but the day's arid temperatures still lingered. The bright orange disk in the night sky appeared so close that one might reach out and touch it. The wind had refused to blow for days, only serving to amplify the heat. Despite the miserable conditions, they were relieved. This would be their final patrol before they returned to their redoubt on the tip of South Padre Island for a much-needed respite. The members of the Texas State Guard's First Regiment were indeed soldiers, but few of them had real combat experience prior to this. The Alamo Guards were mostly known for their work in the aftermath of hurricanes and occasional support on the border. They took their new role in stride, as best they could, but none of the men in the squad had signed up for action like this. They had removed their name tapes early in the operation after reports surfaced that some of the soldiers' families had received death threats. Now, they communicated strictly with code names.
The three-story adobe-style mansion rested on two acres just north of Lasara. It had served as their forward operating base for the past week. The estate was surrounded by fallow fields on three sides and the small southwestern town to the south. The view atop the high, flat roof was better than anywhere else for miles. The home's cast-in-place concrete walls provided excellent protection from small-arms fire, and the surrounding eight-foot, brick wall afforded them additional cover and security. In short, it was as perfect a location as was available. They wondered who the previous owner was, and if there would ever be a time when he could return. Pictures still hung on the wall: group shots while on vacation, during holidays and other important moments in the life of the now displaced family that once dwelled there.
The owner's decision to install an indoor swimming pool was now a welcome reprieve for the weary soldiers, and a boost to morale in between patrols. It helped wash away the memories of the south Texas heat, and fierce gun battles with men known for their vicious treatment of prisoners. The Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel had formed an uneasy alliance to push the gringos north. Once the Americans were sufficiently broken, the cartels would divide the spoils and territory amongst themselves. The Z-G, as they were commonly referred to as now, had developed a brutal reputation for flaying prisoners alive. This infamy had resulted in a ma.s.s exodus of locals.
The unit's squad leader, now referred to simply as Barrett, leaned over the billiards table in the salon. He examined several aerial, topographic and road maps spread out haphazardly in front of him.
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