12 December 2000 1300H. Midtown South Manhattan.

Mid day, the weather began cooling, with occasional wind gusts. Maks’ convoy kept their momentum, punching out of the ambush and eager to make distance. Soon they’d be in some other gang’s territory, right?

The 4 vehicles pushed north, then east, toward the Penn Plaza.

They encountered gangs, not once, but twice.

The first gang encounter, it was potshots from nearby buildings. Rhonda Lowery’s pickup took a round [suspension, ½speed]. And the 2nd Humvee took a radio hit.

No little thing, that. Maks loves his radios.

The convoy plowed ahead. Further up the street, they encountered another gang.

I rolled their reaction. I told my brother that it was “like Broadway“. Gang members along the street threw objects. Even a handaxe stuck in the tail Humvee’s fender.

At the corner before the One Penn Tower would come into view down the street, Maks had the 4 vehicles halt. Lowery radioed back to Maks, asking if they could change the pick-up tire, which was ribbons by this point. He told her to wait on that. Maks was looking for a bivouac spot for the vehicles nearby, preferably under cover.

Luck didn’t smile on them. The pillars were tight in these old buildings. No opportunities to safely push into a first floor with the vehicles. However there was an empty lot across the street, with good cover from the east and south. The streets nearby were deserted.

They backed the vehicles into the lot, arranged like like herbivores guarding young from a pack of wolves. Lowery had her XO set up a perimeter, with 5 of her men covering different approach angles. One helped her quickly change the pickup tire. The Humvee tire was also changed at this time.

Maks had the damaged M240 MG pulled from the Humvee, replacing it with the recoilless rifle. He also had a tent pitched, and made trinkets available to sentries for gifts to bribe. Carrot, as well as stick.

Maks was prepping up for a recon on foot. It would be the Core Four (Maks, Wojciech, Barna, and GD William). Mary would be staying, along with Pratt and Doc. Maks was in a “trust nobody” stance by this point. He asked them to keep their eyes on Lowery’s people, as well as for hostiles.

Mary said this would be a good time to have Rhonda’s crew do their census forms during downtime. That would keep her embedded with the rover team.

The Core Four made their way south on foot. Lowery had reported snipers atop the Penn Tower, as well as the roof of the nearby Hotel. His team headed south, on the east side of the street. This would shadow them from the tower much of the way.

The first block, they spotted nothing, high or low. Second block, nothing.

And then Maks’ head exploded, followed by the sound of the distant rifle shot, echoing off the nearby highrises.

A series of bad rolls.

Rolled a 10 for the unseen marksman’s shot. [Hit].

Which group member? 3. [Maks]

Hit location: 1. [Head]

Wojciech shouted at BA and GDW to take shelter in the adjacent burned-out storefront. Maks’ body lay in the street. His friend of many years.

He had no idea which building the shot came from. They were sheltered from their target buildings. This was from somewhere else.

Wojciech radioed back to the bivouac, updating the other party members, that they would likely be here until nightfall.

The earthly remains of Maks would have to wait until then. Trying to retrieve the body now would just get somebody killed.

Barna Aron got Wojciech’s attention, indicated he’d just spotted movement down the street to the west…

It was bound to happen sooner or later. My brother said he was surprised Maks had made it this far!