Jack went over the top of the ridge and disappeared. When Kelly and Sally were close to the top of the ridge, they went low and slowly crawled up to where they could see Jack’s boots. Shadow moved into the brush and lay down. With Sally on one side of Jack and Kelly on the other, they took in a panorama of the camp. Jack told them it was 150 yards away. He pointed out where he wanted them to set up in a good concealment. He passed out short-range communications gear and said, “Use this stuff sparingly. Can’t be worrying about low batteries. The guys down there probably won’t have any intercept capability but let’s be safe and keep our messages short. Stay here until I get a good look at the people in camp. Remember to keep your binoculars lenses out of the sun.”
Jack watched the activity intensely and then motioned for the girls to come in closer. Once they were close, keeping his voice low, Jack said, “First complication, three of the men down there don’t belong. Their footgear, clothing, even their jackets and hats, wouldn’t be worn by any respectable hunter or mountain hiker. Now the kicker, they’re wearing what I think are badges on their belts. I can’t make out the badges but those are not local cops and certainly not sheriffs. They are probably from the east and I would bet on Baltimore where the head or at least the regional head of the kidnappers is a Baltimore chief of a police unit.”
Kelly asked, “Can we shoot a cop?”
“Not unless we have to. Those cops are bad. No way a legitimate chief would send three detectives to a Montana shooting camp. We can’t wait them out. They’ll be here until the captives are shipped onward and/or Jim closes the place up and moves out. They might not even be cops. We’ll have to watch for the doughnuts.”
Sally said, “Don’t make me laugh out loud. I’ll wet myself. I’m struggling now.”
Jack smiled. “It will soon be dark enough for secret pissing. An old problem for snipers lying motionless in a hide. While we have the light, memorize the camp layout. We’ll move tonight or tomorrow morning early. Move out to your locations. Be alert for Bobby and maybe one guard going to check on and maybe feed the captives, if any. I’m sure they’ll carry a light. Before we move I want to know if there any captives and where they are. We need to locate all the guards. They may not believe we would be here yet so they may be careless. I like our odds. Jim is the only one to worry about. He can shoot, has and will kill, and has good outdoor tracking and moving skills. The other three will probably just get in his way. You’ll probably never hear me say this again, shoot to wound the cops. A wound or two will stop all of them. Did you hear that, Shadow? Bite but don’t kill.”
Shadow, lying like a lion ready to pounce, looked at Jack and then turned back to watching the camp. Nightfall came and the activity and the players on the stage went inside. An hour after dark, Jack heard the back door to the lodge open and bang shut. In the light spilling from inside he could see two people. One is certainly a woman, most likely Bobby. The other is too small to be Jim and must be one of the eastern cops. Jack asked Kelly and Sally to stay put and watch the lodge and call him if anyone else came out. When Bobby and the guard passed in front of Jack high on the ridge, he and Shadow kept pace with the light. A slightly used game trail ran along the top edge of the ridge making the going easy, even at night. No need for any night vision optics. Twenty minutes later the light stopped and went out. Jack moved until he and Shadow were directly opposite where the light disappeared. Shadow’s ears perked up and, focusing, Jack could hear some sounds coming from the darkness below them. Jack took out his compass and shot an azimuth down the ridge to the activity below. All was quiet for ten minutes, then the light appeared headed back to the lodge. Jack waited and Kelly’s voice said, “Both of them are back inside.”
Jack stroked Shadow’s head and said, “Let’s go big guy.” Shadow led off down the ridge. Jack could hear him maneuvering through the brush. He knew Shadow would find the exact spot where the people moved off the path. Jack thought, They can’t be dumb enough to have a path leading directly to their prison. It must keep going somewhere else. We need to know where.