These men moved like tall, dark shadows through the ash and continued to stoke fires in all parts of the compound. Still choking on the smoke, Sal tried to reach Blas. What could he do? Blinded by the ash, he could identify only one man who held his ground and looked past the wreckage. It was Joseph who stood and surveyed the chaos his men brought to the Mission compound.
“Let me at him,” Sal said. Joseph guarded the bodies of Blas and Brother Jayme. Sal tried to move toward Blas to rescue him. Joseph and his raiders surrounded the space, swinging burning clubs and keeping everyone back.
Sal crawled on his hands and knees. “I know about you: these men are not converts, they’re under your control,” Sal said. He was convinced Joseph recruited the men to win back the Mission lands.
Sal gripped the dirt and felt heavy blows landing on his back. Pain shot from his spine through his legs. He had to make it to Blas and drag him to safety. All he could move were his arms and shoulders, which he used to drag his limp body forward. With just inches to go, Sal prayed to awaken from this nightmare. Then everything went dark.
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