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JA2 Short(Long?) Story[message #204501]
||Sat, 20 December 2008 14:59 |
Location: Ohio, USA
|Author General's Warning: I've never written in the first person before. I hope this doesn't suck. Let me know what you think.
"I suppose I start from beginning. I am born; my mother and father raise me. We are poor persons. In small village, far from city. We are lucky. All over Americas, people are living in cities made of scrap and trash." Thinking about this, I take the cigarette from my listener and pop it between my lips. After leaning in and taking a light from his steel lighter, I take a long draw, then quickly yank the vile thing away and cough violently. He looks at me, confused.
"I am no smoker," I explain. "How you enjoy this? This is terrible." I cough again. He laughs and smacks my arm.
"Hell of a sight, seeing you gagging all over that coffin nail, big guy."
My name is Catan. That's just how it sounds, too; the missionaries that came to our village when we were very small taught us English, and how to properly write our names. Nobody in our village reads or writes, really. Not in our native language. We are so far out in the country, a tiny place with farms and hogs. Quiet. Simple. Even though the missionaries taught us English, and numbers, and reading and writing, I stay with my mama and papa and farm. My papa, he gets sick when I am only fifteen. My mama wants to send me to the city to study, but I need to stay and run the farm.
Farming is good. It is clean, and honest, and beautiful. It is not simple, as many believe. You must plant the crops at the right time, and carry large amounts of water, when the rainy season is bad. You must consider the slope of the land where you plant things. Some plants like wet ground. Some will rot and die. You must think how to rotate the land to care for the soil. You must have enough to provide for yourselves, and to sell for things you need. Tools, and a real glass window to put on your house, and a young mule. You must care for the old mule when you do not make a good season, and cannot afford a young mule. If you do not care for the old mule, your next season will be much worse.
So this is my life. Twenty-four summers come and go in my life, and twenty-four more promise a simple, content future working the land. We are Adam and Eve. They taught us about Jesus too; and Adam and Eve, and the Garden of Eden. And the fruit from the tree. And man must pay for this sin of disobeying God, by working the land, and to return to the dust we come from.
Me, when I am finish hauling the fruit of the Earth from the soil, and biting into fresh tomato, I think this is God's greatest gift to men.
Then again, not everyone is over two meters tall and able to carry a lame mule on their shoulders from the field to the barn. For man like me, though, there is no greater joy than to work the Earth with my strength, and to have the Earth give back the reward of my work. Alison has always call me 'farmboy'.
"Alison? An American? Is she good looking?" My friend takes a drink from his labelless bottle.
"Alison has a square jaw, stubbly cheeks, greasy hair, and a scar running down side of his face."
This is why I love books. The power of the word is to put man in awe. OR kill man's buzz. I continue my story.
So, I am happy man. Life is good. No television. So much simpler than life of outside world. Then, this outside world decide that our simple life is not good, and Warlord comes to our countryside.
You see, near our village, beyond our fields and the forests, is a sandy desert area near the mountains. The missionaries teach us as children that the high mountain blocks rainy clouds coming from sea, so on other side is desert. Well, man who is only known as warlord comes, builds a giant compound, at base of mountains. Brings soldiers. Starts digging oil from desert. And then terrible things start to happen.
Soldiers come to our village. They kill old Juso, because they can. They take Juso's grandchild - she is only fifteen - and leave village. They have guns. We have machetes. Our village is small - they have more soldiers than we have people. For first time in my life, I know despair. When I learn this word in English as a boy, I do not understand it. But now I do. All we have is one old, old Russian rifle. Bolt action. They have assault rifles. Machine guns.
There is no longer a mission in our city, but our village chief, he leaves for two days to go to Christian mission in larger city, so they can get the government to help our village. Meanwhile "The Warlord" takes three more women from our village. Their fathers try to stop the soldiers. They are shot, brutally, and their bodies burned. When the chief returns, we know it will not stop, for the Prime Minister is already fighting with this warlord elsewhere in the country. He is very, very powerful. We find out that all he can do, is to contact the United Nations and NATO. And, the chief explains to us, these things take a very long time. Two days pass quietly, then two jeeps with soldiers come to our village at sunset. We are watching for them now, and we all hide in our houses. We have planned to kill the soldiers with knives if they attack our women again.
Coto, one of my friends, he has the rifle. The old men taught him to shoot, since he cannot work in the fields as normal. His legs do not work right, from a disease as a boy. He carries himself around on crutches, but he has no stamina. So, he is our sharpshooter, and watches the fields for coyotes. He sits in the window of the chief's house, rifle propped next to him. I am beside him, with a machete. Looking around, all the men are determined.
Then they arrive. After shouting for booze, and generally making a ruckus, a few of us come out without weapons and give them some of our fine spirits. We generally make conversation with the soldiers and try to appease them and make them go away. There are about fifteen of them and they all have automatic weapons. None of us want to fight them. But then, after taking a long draught of a bottle we shared with them, an important-looking man with a fancy beret looks at the chief.
"Where are the women? My men say your village is so much more lively with pretty women running about." I look at his eyes. They are cruel, terrible eyes.
"You must understand," says the chief, looking at him, "that some of the men who have come here, they have taken girls from us. Their fathers were killed. We do not have wealth, but we are good farmers, and we make fine wine. We do not want to fight with your people, but we cannot allow men to come here and steal our daughters." He stands there, in his dusty, tanned breeches and shirt, in front of their commander, who is probably twenty centimeters taller, wearing kevlar body armor, an assault rifle on his back. "Tell me, young man...do you have a daughter?"
At this point, I look at my friend. He has now poured some of his alcohol in a tin cup sitting next to him besides our fire, but he has entirely forgotten it. I suppose I am not too terrible at telling a story, which is odd. I've never done such a thing before. I smile a bit and continue.
"No, I don't have a daughter." The white man speaks our language in a crisp voice. He almost makes our words sound British. He looks amused at this question, and approaches our village chief, our oldest, wisest man, and looks down at him (although I could easily crush this man with my hands if they did not have guns).
"So, how about you ask the people to open up their doors? Surely your men and women all have things to be doing. It's not even sun set yet." He rests his hand upon the German pistol in his belt holster. (At the time, I didn't know the pistol was German, of course).
The chief shakes his head and runs his fingers through his old grey hair. "I can put what happened before to our lack of communication. But our sons and daughters, they are the only treasure we have here. We will open our arms to you in friendship, but you cannot take from us the only thing we value." He looks up at the man, with his old calm eyes. "You do not have a daughter. You cannot understand what your daughter means to a man."
Suddenly, the pistol comes out of the holster with lightning speed and the white man pistol whips the chief across the side of his head. He falls to the dusty ground, a cut across his temple and blood starts to run into his hair and on his face, within moments.
The man looks around and calls out in a loud voice. "I want everyone watching from their window, to see the price you pay, when you do not obey Warlord. I am his messenger, and this is his message." The rest his men, mostly men who look like our own countrymen, have their rifles and submachine guns out and ready. The white man points his vintage German pistol at the chief's head, as he struggles to stand. It looks like the finger of Satan himself, it is pointed with damnation at our leader, for he challenged the devil.
I look at my friend. "Do you know that supersonic catridge from gun means it travels faster than sound?" He nods.
"So, when gun is fired, the bullet travel so fast, it is already come and gone before you hear crack of bullet or report of rifle." He nods again, and I continue.
So just as he moves to train the pistol on chief's face, an unexpected thing happens and I nearly jump out of my skin. Before I ever hear the gun fire, the white man's head snaps to the side and he spins to the ground, and it is all mess and gore. Someone screams. A loud metal sound can be heard over the sharp crack of Coto's rifle. It is funny, seeing a man die like this for first time. All of the soldiers drop to a knee, guns trained, looking around. One of them snaps his head and gun toward chief's house as Coto slams the rifle bolt forward, and fires. My friend falls back, the rifle falls, and the soldiers run to the house.
A minute later, everyone has taken cover. I am too numb to act. If I pull the machete from my pants, they will just shoot me. Someone pulls me beside a house, but I stand there in plain view, watching as they drag my friend into the street. He is bleeding from his leg and arm. One of the men is barking orders. Professional soldiers. Chain of command, they call this. And he is propped up on his knees.
In the Bible, the Archangel Michael wields a flaming sword when he battles the fallen angel Lucifer. And, as if descending from heaven, a noise becomes louder and louder over the shouting of men and commotion in the street. A din, a racket, that none of us have ever heard before. Like a car motor, but different, and louder, and also a beat like a drum, but a thousand times faster, and as the flying metal beast roars out above us, beating up dust from the street in our town, a thousand times louder.
I smile and nod. "Yes, it was terrifying to see. It send the soldiers into a frenzy, too." I sink back into my memories and continue.
Yes, the helicopter lands and the rotor begins to slow down as the engine is cut. All of the soldiers have guns trained toward it. I slowly creep out into the street, as none of them are looking at Coto, who has collapsed forward. I know he needs to stop bleeding or he will be too weak to survive. And suddenly, a woman voice, as crisply pronounced as the dead white man, booms across the town. It was like the voice of angel.
"Drop all your weapons. Get in your vehicles. Leave immediately. If you do not, you will be shot. You are here against government law. This is your only warning. You have ten seconds."
The men look at their new commander. Nobody can be seen from the helicopter. He shouts a command and they all open fire. Bullets riddle the sides of the helicopter, some make blast of sparks as they bounce off. People in their houses scream and hide. I break into full run and scoop up Coto, who is light as basket of fruit and run, behind the soldiers, stumbling to get behind building. I slide behind a house near two other young men, armed with large knives. I yell at them to get cloth bandages and water. I need to yell twice with all the gunfire. Then it ceases.
The soldiers begin to creep towards the ruined helicopter. There is no motion from it, other than the sound of fluid from some broken line pouring onto the ground.
Then the flaming sword of the archangel descends. I am holding my shirt over Coto's left arm, which is bleeding very bad, and watching the men in the street around the corner of the house. And I notice another soldier, in black fatigues, spring out from between two houses twenty meters from the helicopter, behind the soldiers. A few men start to look around toward the audible boot steps. Then a large handgun comes up, and a series of explosions. A blazing cross shoots from the barrel of the gun. Its huge top rail snaps back. A turning soldier sprays blood from his neck and simply falls limply to the ground. Some dive to the ground. Some raise their guns. Three more die in eye blinks. The archangel's sword blaze fire again and again, the sword cut through the armor and heart of its enemies without even touching them. Seeing the gun was different from Coto's shot, where I do not see the weapon fired behind me. It is unreal. But unlike when the soldiers come to our town and attack our people, with their evilness, this angel is striking down enemies who have swords of their own, who are evil. Then one of them gets their gun up and it belches fire.
The submachine gun sprays fire into the dirt. An instant before, the front of his face erupt with mixture of all of the stuff inside head. He falls, gun ends up firing down into ground as he does. And as others raise their gun, the angel disappears between two houses across town street. Then wrath of God himself seems to fall.
The roar of a machine gun fills the town. Bullets spray onto soldiers. More die. The rest scramble on hands and knees, and hide behind jeeps. They see another soldier in black on roof of chief's house, destroying jeep with machine gun. And they return fire. The man rolls and dives right off roof.
It seems like only moments later. All the men behind the jeep lay dead. The angel with his huge, blazing sword in hand appears and slays them. As the angel stops in the middle of the street, looking along the sight of massive pistol, I get a good look. It is a woman! The body, the curves - even with body armor on, I realize this.
The men have come back with Coto's mother, who learned medicine from the mission when her son was a young, sick boy. She is cleaning her son's wounds and bandaging them. I stand up and step into the square. Three soldiers in black are there, standing and talking. Then I see a soldier in camouflage - and I see his face. It is one of the Warlord's men. I open my mouth to scream a warning. The gun come up. It is too late.
And from the house beside him, before gun can fire, a giant black shadow flies at him with amazing speed. The shadow, like a huge black bear, lashes out and the gun is ripped out of the man's hands and flung ten meters. He turns to raise his hands in defense; his head snaps back as the black-shrouded figure strike out again. Speed and power like this, I have never seen. The man is hurled off his feet and rolls in the dust. As the giant man - he is fourth soldier in black - walks towards him, soldier leaps up and runs. The others have dove for cover, and are bringing weapons up. The soldier leaps into ajeep over windshield. He desperately tries to turn the jeep on. His effort is rewarded with a repeating, whining sound as jeep struggles to start. It never does. The big man reaches the jeep, and the big man tear the soldier from the jeep with one arm and throws him to the ground, then slams a fist into his face, and the man lay still.
As I walk out into the street, with chief's house behind me, I notice the dead white man. I look back. Then I look past dead man at jeep. And I see why the jeep won't start.
Coto's shot went through the white man's head and through front fender on jeep. Later that day, I learn what is a carburetor, and that car does not start good with 30 caliber bullet hole in carburetor.
I shake my head and look at my friend, who is listening still, very intent, as he ladles some kind of stew that smells of curry onto a earthware plate. "It was very educational day for me, you see. My life was never the same."
I take the plate and fork and smell the food. "Smells good."
People are coming out of their houses. The sun has now set. Dusk is starting to settle in. The forest animals are starting to make sweet summer music. But there are fifteen dead bodies bleeding in the street of town. Blood soaks the dust. Several of our people were caught by bullets from the soldiers' wild fire. There is a ruined helicopter in the middle of the street.
I look, and the chief is walking beside me as I walk up to the black-clad soldiers, who remove their helmets. I am very surprised - two of them are women. They are both tall for women, but not as tall as the men. One man has uncut black hair to his shoulders, and is neither thin nor muscular. He has the machine gun. The big man - up close, I see he is not as tall as me. But his muscles are huge. I am surprised he can move so fast. He also has dark hair. One of the women has long black hair, she has it tied up behind her head. She carries a long rifle.
The angel with the blazing sword, her eyes are very blue. She is less tanned than the rest, though they are all white people. Her hair though, is red as fire, and falls out in a long, long braid when she take off her helmet. Her gun is in her left hand, her first finger rests against the side of trigger guard. She is still looking around as if expecting more devil soldiers to leap out. Inside, I feel as if her gun, that blazing sword, could cut down an entire army. Something in her stance, in her eyes, it makes my blood cold, and sends shiver down my spine.
The only thing is, I do not know if the shiver is bad or good, you know?
After a broken introduction in our language, I speak up in English. "I am Catan. This is chief Juan. I speak good English. I can talk for us." I relay the chief's words. "Chief thank you for saving young boy, and saving the village from the anger of those men." I tilt my head back toward the house. "He wish you to come into his house, we will prepare you some food and drink if you need, and talk."
The black-haired woman steps forward and inclines deeply to the chief - a sign of respect in our village. "I am Operative Wraith, team commander." She nods to me. "Your translation will be invaluable, Catan. Extend our gratitude towards your chief's hospitality. And introduce me, as well as Operatives Monk and Justice," she said as the indicated the larger, then the smaller, man, "and Mayhem." She waved her other hand towards the archangel. Mayhem. It was an English word or name I was unfamiliar with at this time.
"We are private contractors, hired by your government." I am puzzled.
Now that word I understand. I translate for the chief, and loudly enough that nearby onlookers could hear. The chief bows deeply to operative Witch, and nearby people start talking in whispers. Abotu the mercenaies. We go to Chief's house. I look back. The men are stripping the soldiers of their guns and armor. They are carrying the bodies away, out of the main street. We will later come up with where to bury them. It is important for us to bury our enemies - many in the village still believe that enemies you defeat in war must be buried or their spirits will haunt you and your children."
In the present time, coming out of my memory, I see the curry is no longer steaming hot. I mix it a bit and eat several bites, leaning back against the tree where I sit, in our camp. "This is very good. Better than what they dish out here." He laughs. He is done with his first plate already. This is the benefit of being the listener. He refills his plate, and we eat in silence for some time.
It is better for stories with a satisfied stomach, anyway.
Re: JA2 Short(Long?) Story[message #204586]
||Sun, 21 December 2008 20:01 |
Location: Ohio, USA
|Flying in a helicopter is like flying inside a waterfall. Less the thousands of tons of water crushing you. But you sure can't hear. It gets into your teeth, it seems. Or maybe it was just a beat up old helicopter with loose bolts. I'm not a helicopter mechanic, I can't say.
With the headsets we all had on, though, we could still hear each other if we covered the mics and yelled into them. It had been mostly quiet during the flight, except the local backwater helicopter pilot the government dug up on short notice frequently giving us flight updates in English that would have been hard enough to understand if sound waves weren't slowly liquefying my brains. At least he was a competent flyer and the UH-1 good old UH-1 helicopter made me feel like a Marine in Vietnam.
I remember looking over at Wraith. She was resting her head against the wall, apparently unconscious, breathing slowly. I know her better, though. She's always like this before mission insertion. Not me. I'm so fidgety, I almost can't sit down. The ETA was fourteen minutes last update from Gomer Pylot up there. That means that, in fourteen minutes, we could be plunged into a life-or-death situation. These are the things I thought about - that I always think about - before mission insertion.
Justice is looking out the window of the Iroquois helicopter, daydreaming. And Jonie is looking green around the gills. Jonie hates flying.
I smile at the thought. Jonie always makes me laugh. Right now, though, I'm so bored I could explode. I cup the mic on my headset, and virtually shout into it, "So did you hear about that insurgency in that one country? Boon-dock nowhere country on the edge of the ocean. Can't remember the name. Sounds like Aruba or something."
Wraith reaches up and flicks the switch on her headset. Justice looks up and nods. "Arulco, actually. I was reading into that whole mess. Apparently the Queen who took over was a real monster. I'm talking Third Reich genocide mixed with new-age dictator. Assassinated her husband - the president - and declared herself ruler for life. Before that, country had a pretty forward-thinking government system."
I nod, and Justice goes on. "The thing is, the president, he escaped the assassination, which is the problem with knocking people off with RPGs. Kind of hard to tell if you got it right. He leaves the country and recently put together the means to remove his wife from power. I guess the one who actually took the contract from this Chivaldori, they took some absurdly small amount of money for the job. Got A.I.M. heavily involved, along with that new outfit that Speck Kline started. Did you know that Dorian actually turned down the job from the guy?"
I did not know that. Rather surprising, considering the lack of freelance work at the time.
"Dorian told me it was a fool's errand - a total suicide mission. Forwarded Chivaldori some contact information in case whoever he hired wanted to commission us as part of a larger attack force. But he didn't want us to try to take a country over with four people." Justice slouches in the corner and looks back out the window. "I guess the climate was perfect to spark total revolt. They got in with the local rebellion in the country, the only real remaining organized resistance. And they hit some backwoods towns, and the people there who work in the silver mines end up turning over their profit to this mercenary company. By all reports, it was a total bloodbath between this queen's soldiers and the mercenaries. But in the end, they took the crazy bitch down."
That's even more surprising; it sounds exactly like the kind of mad errand Dorian would get us into.
"Estimated time arrival is five minutes."
I smile. Vincent D'Onofrio should know that he has a spiritual hispanic brother who flies helicopters. As fanciful as that is, however, it's time to go - very soon. I run over all the words I memorized on the flight. Then I grab one of the hanging loops, stand up, and grab my gun. Time seems to speed up and slow down all at once. It is a psychological condition I've described in numerous head shrinking episodes Dorian arranged for me. As far as any of them can tell, my brain just processes information and responds to pressure in strange ways. According to one very reknowned suit-and-moustache model (apparently he has a Ph.D in neurology, also), everyone's brain works differently. And sometimes, someone's brain ends up wired in such a way that they excel at certain things.
Supposedly, this ties in to my ability to memorize things, and why I can speak five languages when most people struggle to learn two. And why I react so fast in the middle of a firefight and notice absurdly obscure details. As long as it keeps keeping me alive, I haven't got any complaints that my brain doesn't work like everyone else's.
"Estimated time arrival, sixty seconds."
Last chance. Nothing more to worry about, though. You can only prepare so much. Everyone is ready, and standing now. I tap on the bulletproof window next to me. At least, they -said- it's bulletproof. I press my cheek against it, and there it is. A thatched-roof hamlet straight out of some boring-ass movie about thatched-roof hamlets. And pigs. There must be pigs.
Of course, it is the simple desire of probably ninety-nine point nine percent of all living people in the world to be able to live in peace. You want food, water, and shelter. Some people cite clothing, but those people are stupid or redundant because clothing is just a form of shelter. Don't tell them, that, though. They will cite their expertise at you.
And so, this is why we have a job. Because ninety-nine point nine percent of all living people on Earth want nothing to do with guns, power, war. They are ambitious enough to work themselves to the bone to ensure the procurement of these things that make their lives secure and content, but they don't strive for more. Of course they'd love if a million dollars fell in their lap, but why go out and try to make a million dollars, when you can have a thatched roof and pigs? That's serenity, right there.
And then there's the other point one percent. Of this pecentile (it's one in a thousand, Mack), probably seven out of ten of them are bad apples. Now I'm not talking about the dreamers, or the capitalists, or the people who get rich on the toil of their own backs, or by becoming some corporate puke bag. Those are another tiny cut of the 99.9, that end up with wealth and power, and most of them get corrupted by it and become bad apples, too. But that's capitalism. This is politics, not economics. And we're talking about the people who cause massive shifts in government, coup de etats, conquerors, Alexander the Greats. He really wasn't -that- great, he was just a pretty good general and got lucky a fair bit. Thanks to his qualities and luck, he redrew the lines more than many others did. Then his fifteen minutes on stage ended and someone else redrew the lines again. See, these are the people I'm talking about. And they're rare. And more of them are probably selfish than not. I cite human history for my 7:3 malevolent:benevolent ratio. It's roughly two versus one. And thanks to the bad ones, and the good ones making bad chices, human history is soaked in blood. Of course, if the ratio was much worse, humanity would have ended up wiping itself out by now, I think.
The good news is, the ninety nine point nine favor the three over the seven, because they're the ones who don't just promise to preserve the peoples' thatch and pig, they actually do it. The evil ones last long enough for the people to figure out that they're evil. There's exceptions like Stalin, but they're the exception. He lived in a unique time, when weapon technology multiplied the temporal power of those who controlled militaries, but information technology had yet to proliferate and empower the common person. But, no, most of them, the people will drop them the second they realize that they're not good for the people. Survival is powerful stuff.
And then there's the times when the evil ones have enough power to protect themselves from the people. When they have their own people, and resources to keep them going without the peoples' support. And guns. Lots of those. That's when governments have to step in and put a stop to the antics - unless the problem is the government, of course, like that Arulco nightmare. Ultimately, however, even when governments are paralyzed by indecision, bankruptcy, or coercion, there are always freelance soldiers. Private contractors. Conflict resolution. And if enough people are angry, and everyone has one pig, and each pig garners enough wealth to procure ten U.S. dollars, then by golly, those people have their own army.
There's one dusty, wide dirt lane running through the middle of the town. The houses are arranged in two rows on either side, with extra houses sticking out here and there. Then there are fields, with all sorts of green things growing. And pigs. I knew there would be pigs. I'm sure our Huey, now slowly lowering towards the ground where Wraith is directing the pilot to land, is scaring the pigs. They'll be okay later, though, once we turn off the engine.
As an interesting side note, there are fifteen armed men gathered in a group near the rough middle of the village. There's also a dead soldier in the road. Looks like the villagers bit back. People should pay more attention to my assertions about people, and how fast they'll turn on you if you threaten their pigs. One of the locals, in plain peasant clothes, is on his knees in the street with his hands behind his head. It looks like there was about to be a public execution.
My finger tightens on the trigger guard. There's going to be a veritable cornucopia of public executions in a minute here.
All of the soldiers have organized, some are near the jeeps parked in the road, others are near houses. The helicopter shudders as it touches down, and the pilot cuts the motor and we all leap out of the far side of the helicopter from the enemy. Wraith, Justice, Jonie, and the pilot all run behind the nearby house. With the way the pilot landed the chopper, they are not likely to be seen, and the Huey had tinted glass windows mounted on it so they couldn't see into the vehicle. It's also just after sunset already, so it's a touch dusky out. I walk up to the open cab door and reach in, taking out the handset for the speaker mounted on the vehicle. Figuring the rotors have slowed enough at this point, I recite the line I memorized in case we encountered resistance.
"Drop all your weapons. Get in your vehicles. Leave immediately. If you do not, you will be shot. You are here against government law. This is your only warning. You have ten seconds."
With that, I drop the handset and run over to where the rest of the team are. I slap a magazine into my gun and cock the rail. Wraith signals Justice and indicates the big house at the far end of the street. He takes off. We exchange quick signals and then she starts climbing up onto the low roof of the house we're hiding behind.
At just that time, gunfire starts to shred the helicopter. Good thing the Army gave us permission to get the thing busted up. Too bad they didn't have a minigun around. This would have been over by now.
I run down seven houses. I counted already where they were. I peek around the corner anyway, and, yes, there are a handful of targets there, advancing slowly toward the helicopter with guns raised. Looks like MP5s. My vest should be able to stop the 9 mil parabellum rounds. But you never know in this business.
With that lovely thought, I break into a run, coming out from between the close-packed houses in a moment. They start to turn around, and I figure that's plenty of warning. My thumb pushes the tape-down button as I take aim, and a red dot appears on the chest of the one on the left. I lift up just a little bit. At fifteen feet I'm not worried about missing. I'm just worried about penetration.
Good thing he's not wearing a gorget. The bullet passes dead center through the side of his neck. They start to scatter like leaves, like it's going to matter in a turkey shoot like this. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the casing eject. It's traveling pretty fast. Everything else is all slowed down. I snap my aim over to one of two men who aren't dropping to the ground or diving for cover. He almost gets his gun up before I put a round into his nose. I haven't got time to aim at his partner. I just shoot him in the chest.
The funny thing about high-power full metal jacket bullets is that they kill people wearing body armor. It's a good thing, too, because he was shouldering his sub and taking aim already.
Now that that's out of the way, I just pan across as I run toward the houses on the left. Crack. The gun spits a round out, the rail flings back slowly, another casing comes out a bit faster than it should. The last shot was sloppy, but this one hits the vest dead in the left breast, heart level, and the goon collapses.
That's when I notice a black hole. It's not a pleasant sight. Black holes capture light in space. On Earth, they occur because you can't see down the barrel of the gun pointing at your face. The gun hits the soldier's shoulder right in the cradle. I start to dive, but it's probably too late.
Then the middle of his face explodes towards me and he pitches forward. The gun goes off. I hit the deck and roll behind a house.
Let me tell you, even with armored inserts, the impact of a 9x19 FMJ, while not the most powerful cartridge out there, hurts like the dickens. Three hurt worse. The disadvantage of feeling like everything is slowed down is that your nerves work just fine. I slam my shoulder against the wall of the house and shove myself to my feet. My chest burns, but the ceramic insert took the shots without any serious issues. I snap my gun around. No pursuit. Looking out into the road, I can see tiny meteorite tracer rounds zipping at a downward angle toward where the enemy is. Justice's machine gun continues to spit death, and I see enemies hiding behind a jeep. So I run around the far side of the houses and run. One. Two. Three. I cut hard to the right, through the narrow space. I already know where I am. I hear 5.56mm rounds shredding against the vehicle. And I burst out into view again. My finger squeezes the trigger. One. Two. Three. Four. The rail sticks back in the open position as the magazine empties. My free hand goes to my other hip and I look around, unclipping the strap over my other gun from the stud. I creep out into the middle of town, counting bodies, as I let the magazine drop from my gun, load a new one, and yank the rail so it snaps forward. My count reaches sixteen.
Moments later, I get two other calls of affirmation in response. Wraith and Justice appear from between buildings, rifles in hand, their eyes still sweeping the perimeter. I look for a place to stand where I'm not going to get blood caked on the soles of my boots. Justice nods.
"I took the south side after I had to jump off the roof. No contacts."
Wraith peers around. "Nothing from the North, either. Looks like Monk is still doing a perimeter sweep." She looks at me. "Did you get a count?"
"Sixteen up, sixteen down-"
I freeze. My head slowly turns south. I see the body of the man who was lying dead in the street when the helicopter touched down. Seventeen.
I hear a footfall. A man's voice yells out. I look over my shoulder, start to drop toward the ground, and shove Justice into Wraith as hard as I can. I try to tuck into a roll. I see the man with his gun trained. Two black holes in one day. Never a good thing.
And then Jonie slams into him. Instead of bullets passing by my head, the rifle does, as he tears it from the man's hands, flings it, and knocks him to the ground. The good news is, of course, that we get one alive now. I stalk in the direction the man is stumbling, Jonie calmly following him at a walk; I keep my gun up in case he tries to draw a pistol. He doesn't. He dives desperately into one of the jeeps and starts to turn the ignition. I flick my aiming laser on and take a careful bead on his chest.
The car won't start. Jonie rips him out of the jeep, knocks him out, and binds him. While this is going on, we make a quick second round of everyone around the street, and make sure all the soldiers are dead. They are.
I signal the pilot to come out and give him brief instructions, to make sure the villagers don't kill our captive, to find out if any of them are seriously injured, and to keep an eye on him. I hand him a service revolver I pulled off one of the bodies. He looks immensely uncomfortable with it in his hands. I feel better that he has it, in case the man wakes up. I pat Gomer on the shoulder and he trots off. At least he seems to have military discipline.
It was too easy, really. It makes me nervous. Yeah, we almost got shot there, right at the end, but that was my mistake and carelessness. There won't be any repeats like that. I undo the chinguard and yank my head free of the helmet. After a firefight, my head always itches like crazy.
I click the horizontal slide sandwiched between the front of my trigger guard and the magazine in front of it to the left, safing it. Then I keep my left index finger on the small button, prepared to push it back to the right. Just in case.
A big man - a REALLY big man - with the deep olive skin of these people, and a smaller, hunched, old man with white hair, approach us. I begin to form an introduction, hoping that I'm even anywhere in the ballpark of correct with the sentence structure. The big man speaks, in accented, but clear, English. He introduces himself - Catan - and Juan, the chief of their village. He relays the chief's thanks and offers of hospitality. Wraith thanks him politely, introduces us. I'm only half paying attention, still scanning the village. It doesn't look like any of the people who are coming out, and staring at us, are dangerous. But you've got to watch them, all the same.
So we are invited to the chief's house for tea and crumpits. Or whatever passes for tea and crumpits when you have red blood instead of blue, and pigs. I make a detour on the way, and give the pilot some basic instructions on getting the GPS phone to catch a satellite this far out in the sticks.
"Once you do," I finish, "get a hold of that city nearby. Pejan, right? Get a hold of operations command there with this number, here's the code phrase." I write it. "Tell them to send a medical team, preferably by air, as fast as they can. There're wounded civilians here." I smile. "Hopefully when they get here, you'll have enough rank to commandeer their helicopter and send them back to town with one of those jeeps."
I slap Gomer Pylot on the arm again and trot off, looking back only to say, "Make sure our sleeping friend doesn't try to wander off."
Inside the house, my team is already sitting on the floor at a low table. It's probably rude, so I holster my gun, but I stay standing, leaning on Jonie to annoy him. A few of the village's other men are standing attentively near their chief. They have machetes looped through their belts.
A younger girl, who probably takes care of the village chief's home, is in the small, sectioned off area for cooking. The rest of these houses probably have a cook fire in the middle of the single large room. It's...almost cozy.
"Let me run down with you, chief Juan, the basic situation we have here, and our objective." The big guy translates for Wraith, the chief nods. I'm going to be nodding here in a minute. Off.
Wraith talks slowly and big guy starts translating as she speaks. He's one sharp tack, that one. His English is excellent and he can translate while he listens. That one got formal education somewhere - no way he just picked that up around town when English speakers were about.
"Essentially, your government is mixed up in several conflicts around the country with Alanzo Cora's forces - the one who calls himself Warlord. He's a brutal, vicious man, but he's got guts and charisma, and makes promises. A lot of people are following him, especially because your Prime Minister can't seem to remedy the problems with poverty in your cities. People will latch on to anything that gives them hope - even if it's a false hope." She takes the earthen cup of what looks like tea that is placed before her, and sips. "Thank you."
Wraith pushes a lock of hair out of her face before she goes on. "We're aware of your government's situation. It's not an easy one. And now this jackal has moved in, and he's gaining power. It doesn't help that the army is taking up money that could be spent on humanitarian aid in order to mobilize troops to fight Cora. Our operations commander, Dorian Pearson, has been monitoring this situation for a few months now. He forwarded his recon to the U.N. last week, and your Prime Minister lodged a formal request for help about two months ago. He called Dorian directly two days ago. Between our commander's information and the immediate need for a response, Dorian managed to weasel a contract out of the U.N. by stating that it may take some time to complete, and that we'd do it without payment upfront if the U.N. would vouch the funds. Nothing like giving beauracrats a chance to delay payment to get them to make all sorts of promises. Anyway, here we are."
The chief begins to speak, and after a delay, big guy begins talking in English.
"We are most grateful that your commander has put his hand into this and is helping us in good faith, with only promises of politicians in his pocket. He also would like thank him directly, when time is right, and this is finished." He stops while the chief's thoughts fulminate in his brain. "Chief want to know how four soldiers, even with your obvious skill and bravery, are going to take on Warlord. He has built place like a castle here."
"We are hopefully going to be getting a detachment from your own army's special operations. Since Cora set up his drilling rig out near here, we actually have some intelligence on the location. We have given the Prime Minister and Grand General Ontiveros some other information that will help them get your national senate to approve an operation. Actually, the proceedings should be finished by now. With any luck, we'll get a call and the operatives we've requested should arrive late tonight." She looks around at the men. "Do you have anyone with military experience?" Big guy shakes his head even as he translates. Juan just nods to him.
"We have no one who have ever been a soldier. Coto, my friend you save when you arrive, he is mark...markman?" Wraith smiles and nods at him, and big guy continues. "Many men here skilled with a blade. But only about six know how to use gun. We have one gun for village, old Russian rifle. It is for guarding from coyotes. Coto teach me how to aim and shoot, though I am not very good. So Coto, me, and four other men, we know how to use gun, but we are no soldier."
Wraith puts her chin on her hand and is quiet for a while. "Your friend Coto the marksman, he was injured, no?"
"The white man who leads soldiers, he knocked down chief and pointed gun at him. Coto shot him. Soldiers fired on house, Coto gets hit, but his mother says he is sleeping now, breathing ok. He will be ok - but he cannot fight. When he was boy, he have Polio."
It's here that I notice that the servant girl has finished cooking, and is putting everything onto a large tray. She's maybe fourteen years old and a slight thing, and there's no God damn way she's going to be able to carry all that. She makes a few futile attempts to lift it with any stability. Oi. I push off of Jonie's shoulder and head over to the kitchen area. I say a few words in their language, and then heave up the heavy tray on my shoulder. It smells surprisingly good, and I've got an appetite. I tell the girl to bring the plates, and carry the heavy tray to the table, sliding it down. The villagers are looking at me with surprise, which is just as well, because the conversation has stopped. I look down at big guy.
"Hey there, big guy - where is your friend at? Operative Monk is a battlefield medic; he should have a look at him." I get directions from him, and look meaningfully at Monk. We excuse ourselves. When we get outside, I look up at him seriously.
"He's going to need more than bandages before this is said and done."
Jonie nods. "I know what you mean, Senny. He shot a man. It doesn't matter how you do it or why you do it. He's probably about twenty years old. And anyway, I want to make sure he's got properly dressed wounds. Our packs should be by the house near the Huey. Can you get mine?"
Naturally. I head off to get his medical bag. He's better at talking to people. If the kid is awake, I'm not going to be any amount of comfort. I remember the first time I shot a man. I didn't feel a thing then, and I don't now. Shrinks explain it all very neatly. Smart guys, those moustache models.
When I get there, the mother is outside. I reassuringly tell her that Jonie is skilled at medicine, and that he just wants to make sure everything is all right with the boy. She thanks me, and I hurry inside, because the woman is obviously about to cry. It bothers me when people are upset and cry, since I've got absolutely no skill at being empathetic. Makes it frustrating when I can't do a God damn thing to help them.
"Mayhem, can you get out some fresh gauss? I'm going to want to clean these again. Looks like once she got him in here, she gave it a wash over with boiled water. Gunshot surgery isn't the same as when Paco gets his foot run over by the donkey's plow."
I can't stifle a giggle, and take out the gauss, then, seeing that he isn't doing anything delicate, smack him lightly in the head with the duffel before I set it next to him and hand him the bandages.
"All things aside, this boy's mother would make a hell of an ER nurse. Let me get something to make sure he doesn't wake up while I'm taking care of this. The arm was a graze, albeit a deep one - the leg isn't completely stauched."
After an hour of work by lamplight, Jonie's washing his hands in a basin the woman brings, and the boy's getting a bit of color back into his face. I found out that he's actually twenty-three years old, but due to his frailty, he looks maybe seventeen. He's got a face like a cherub. He probably needs some advice on how to leverage that, and he'd have girls swooning over him. He's probably going to wake up in the night, and I tell this to his mother. Jonie's going to stay somewhere nearby, since the boy might have an emotional episode when he wakes up. I find out that, like his big friend, the kid speaks English. That means that I get to sleep tonight. I'm jet lagged all to hell, and now that the last sunlight is bleeding out of the sky, I'm feeling it.
We return to the chief's residence and find out where we can get fed, since the rest of everyone has eaten already. Fortunately, the serving girl set aside a healthy quantity of food for us. Jonie and I eat contentedly in silence in the kitchen area. All of the meat and vegetables and fruits are cooked and spiced and it's all great. Makes me wonder why we process everything in America into a partially-hydrogenated fructose soy artificial and natural number thirty-twobdenumsolimonomate. In the wealthiest country in the world we eat food that slowly poisons us while these people in comparative poverty have foods unspoiled by science.
Of course, without science, there's chronic disease, and death, and the like. The world is seriously screwed up.
The serving girl and most of the men are gone. Just the village chief and his translator are still here, finalizing details of the operation with Wraith and Justice, and planning how they can render assistance without just sending villagers to get shot up. The problem, of course, is that I haven't been there to come up with all of the good ideas, like right now. I set down the bowl of tortilla soup-like stuff and walk over to the table.
"-and it's going to be hard, but there's still resistance in the senate. Probably Cora's got some politicians in his pocket. We're getting a few squads of special forces, twenty-four in total. It's a thin crew, but I figure we can make something happen."
"We will help with anything we can do to be helpful to you. Our world is overturned since this man brought evil of war here."
She looks up at me quizzically as I cut in. "Yes, Mayhem?"
I pat her on the shoulder. "Think obvious." I look over at the big guy. "Hey there kid, you're about the size of a moose." He looks at me blankly and I glance sidelong at Wraith. "They've never seen Rocky and Bullwinkle." She sighs. No sense of humor. I look back to the big guy.
"Moose are, for the sake of simplicity, very large. And you're a big man. In fact, I bet you could hold down a machine gun real well. Which is good, because when you're outnumbered, one great way to multiply your firepower is by using machine guns to use BIG guns to lay down suppression fire and light up hardened positions, flushing them out of their cover."
He looks at me seriously, with his big, amber eyes. Weird eyes - they're almost like bronze. And he nods. "I know basics of firing a gun. You show me how to use machine gun, I will help you."
I pat Wraith on the shoulder. "It's going to be up to the kid and his mother, but if he's mentally and physically fit when we hit them, your young friend with his marksmanship might be very helpful as well." I look at big guy seriously. "You should be there tonight, in case he wakes up, especially if Monk is patrolling. His mother seems like a strong woman, but he may not be rational when he comes around. It's a major shot to your mind and emotions, the feeling of killing. And he blew a man's head open today. He will need a friendly face around."
This is secondhand information for me, personally. But he nods. "I will stay with him. You are very considerate."
That's completely absurd, but I give him a smile, hoping it's not entirely patronizing. "You're a fine friend there, big guy."
He gives me a look. "You may call me Catan."
Now I give him a wry grin. "I know."
A quiet knock comes at the door. I draw one of my pistols, unsafe it, and place my hand behind my back. Jonie walks to the door and opens it a little. He looks a bit confused, then understanding comes to his face. He opens the door, and several men enter, dressed plainclothes like the people here. They have big, primitive rucksacks, which they set down. They speak rapidly to the chief in their language, and big guy translates.
"This is Colonel Behar, operation commander for First Special Division. I can make translation if it is needed still."
A tall man approaches the table. "It is alright, young man, I speak fine English." Actually, his English was perfect. I notice these things. He and Wraith made formal introductions, which I stick around for. Then I dismiss myself to make some patrols while the soldiers situate themselves and the Colonel and Wraith discuss mind-numbing, shit boring details. And I can get first watch out of the way. If I'm lucky, I can be asleep in the house they've made up for us before I can get drawn into it. Otherwise, it's going to be a hell of a long night. Hopefully I can get a GOOD night's sleep.
Re: JA2 Short(Long?) Story[message #204812]
||Wed, 24 December 2008 14:30 |
Location: Ohio, USA
|It must have sucked to be Buddha.
What, with this "I am awake" stuff. Well I'm awake, local time is four thirty. Ante-meridian.
Sometimes you just can't sleep. Now I'm no night owl like Wraith, and it's not like I have nightmares plaguing me with, like, guilt or anything. But after the first watch I was so whipped that I think I slept too hard, and my body thinks it's time to be awake. Well, it's not.
So it looks like the big guy is going to be studying the finer points of machine gun operation with Justice. Hah. Finer points.
Jonie has already started working with the Ravens on the finer points of their game plan, and no, he's not trying out to play football in Maryland. Who the hell would want to be that close to the densest concentration of politicians on the planet? Apparently Obi-Wan Kenobi never visited D.C. before Mos Eisley spaceport. The Ravens, of course, is the code name for the most elite special operations unit this side of the Gulf of Mexico. They've got cred - trained by the United States and Britain after a tidy liberation war and democratic government installation. They've been keeping the peace here for, oh, twenty years now. Of course, nobody knows when the peace has been kept - that's sort of the point. Well, they're all into that crazy ass ninja stuff. Jonie taught me a lot about it, I just stick to the parts of the program where you snap the guy's neck before he can redecorate your face in 9mm. Those guys are also expert marksmen, electronics and explosives ordnance trained - the whole enchilada (did that sound racist?). While there's far too few for what we're getting ourselves into, I can't think of many SOCOM units on the planet I'd rather be horridly outnumbered with.
The problem is, they're also experts at not getting woken up at four AM - sorry, make that oh-four hundred. Now me, I've got an itch.
Sometimes, something just starts to bother me. Now, I don't really remember my dreams much, but according to some funky sleep test some moustache model ran on me, I think in my sleep. Yeah, that doesn't sound too spectacular, but apparently my subconscious brain works out little things while I'm sleeping. Not that I can remember what conclusions my other self reaches when I wake up, so it's more or less a useless oddity. Actually less than useless because when something bothers my subconscious, my conscious brain remembers that part - the fact that there's something that should be bothering me.
So it's now four-thirty and I'm officially bothered, and it's not the hot and bothered kind. If the itch was that simple, scratching would be less of a concern. I sent Wraith back to bed, not that she sleeps much anyway. But she'll go off into some strange out-there mode and think up some brilliant battle strategy. You can't trust a sniper to do much but come up with acute plans formed out of severe routine boredom (and safety). Well, that and ventilate faces, engine blocks, and various miscellaneous undesirables from ranges that would make the sharpest-eyed hawk squint. So she can have her braininess and her finesse. I don't have time. The more time you spend thinking, the more time the enemy spends reacting.
Watch is supernaturally boring at this time of night. And yes, that was the word I intended to use - people keep calling me a linguistic genius, after all. Whatever. You're so bored while patrolling at four-thirty in the morning that your mind starts to play tricks on you. To make matters worse, I've got an itch. And when I get an itch, it has a rather good track record for presenting an opportunity for it to be scratched.
There are several members of the Raven unit patrolling as well, so we've got a decent perimeter going. But I'm still walking around with this feeling for foreboding, like something bad is going to happen any moment. That's why I've got one of my guns out, with the safety off, ready to rock and roll.
So then I notice something and freeze, just as I'm about to walk around the southeast corner of the southeast perimeter house.
There are three men there, dressed in black, silent as the night, and facing the other direction. I press myself back against the wall. Going for the radio is a bad idea, as there's no way I can even be quiet enough to get a message out without alerting them. I could just come around the corner and blow them all away, but if there's more spooks in the bushes nearby, I'm going to be dead meat. Too bad self-preservation and direct action rarely see eye to eye. I like direct action.
I begin to creep away in the other direction to achieve a safe distance and alert the rest of our forces, and turn headlong into a big, big spook. Next thing you know, two of them have pounced on me, and I'm pressed against the wall, hand over my mouth, gun disarmed from my hand. They whisper something in my ear in their tongue - crude enough that even I don't really care to repeat it. They drag me off, carrying me away from the village and the hope of potential salvation.
Not that, as a soldier, you can ever completely rely on someone else to save you. You need to work in concert, as a unit, but bad stuff happens in combat, and planning goes out the window as soon as you unexpectedly realize that they've got a howitzer. I've been seperated from my unit before, and the thing you have to do when all your plans fly out the window is let your mind clear, assess the situation, and act instinctively, fluidly. Don't think. Thought leads to doubt leads to fear leads to panic.
My mind has already assessed the situation as they continue to march me. There's at least five men, armed, and they've captured me. We've already moved close to a half mile from town, and that's a conservative estimate. They have both of my guns. It looks grim, and doesn't show any sign of getting better. This walk continues for a little while, until my mental step count reaches well beyond a mile and I give up on keeping count. The good news is, they've gone through all this trouble to capture me, so they either want information or are looking for a good time. Hopefully it's the latter, as the former would mean highly trained soldiers and the latter means poorly trained soldiers - medium trained soldiers would have just shot me dead in the first place, so even the highly trained ones are generally easier to deal with.
They overthink things.
We've entered the woods south of the village. Nobody has spoken yet. Finally, one of them orders me to stop in English and the gag they stuffed in my face is removed. Their goon leader speaks in a thick accent. A Russian mercenary. Apparently, he's not fond of General Winter.
"If I so much as think you are raising voice to yell, you will die. You keep head about you, woman, maybe you live through tonight."
They risk training a flashlight on me, which I avert my eyes from as much as possible to avoid ruining my visual acuity when it goes out. Some low-power fog lights are turned on on a nearby jeep, illuminating the small clearing in low light. We're surrounded in almost all sides by thick foliage - this 'forest' is more like a jungle, it seems. I smile as sweetly as I know how, and reply diplomatically.
"Don't worry, when the hammer comes down, it won't matter whether you've killed me or not. Seventeen goons died today. How many more do you have? If you boys are smart, you'll cut tail and run like cowards. At least you'll be alive in a week."
Six of them. Honestly, only six? I won't even have to worry about changing magazines. One standing ten feet away from me has my guns, as well as an MP-series fitted with a suppressor. Same weapon as the rest, except possibly the one behind me. I finish concluding this information just as he kicks my knee out from behind me and shoves me to a kneeling position.
"There you go, a position more suited to you, сука." He smiles. "I would prefer to avoid harming you if we can avoid it. So, who are you? What do you know? You should be smart enough to know what information I seek, if you are smart enough to talk back with guns aimed at your head."
He called me a bitch. Well, now I'm going to extra special kill him. I can't have the truth getting out. "Well, there's three battalions of the army heading down along with some armor that NATO lifted in. The United States is fond of loaning countries like this firepower to squash bugs like your Warlord. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you remove senators from decision-making processes. As for me, my name is Mayhem, and if you're brave enough to untie my wrists, I'd be more than happy to show you why."
They laugh at me. Laughter is good. It means they think they're in control. They're only in control until the bindings around my wrists come loose.
"You're lying about the soldiers. You are one of the American mercenaries the Prime Minister hired? I must say I dislike choice for women used as soldiers, but admire American taste." He smiles, walking over to the man with my weapons, and takes one from him, holding the huge handgun in his hand, admiring the velvety matte finish. He draws back the slide, and catches the round that pops out, then raises his eyebrows and whistles.
"You certainly fight with a man's gun. Are you able to stay on your feet when you shoot this?"
I shrug. "Untie me and let's go to the shooting range. I'll give you boys a weapons demonstration on the proper methods of controlling a high-recoil weapon. You all might even have some hair on your chests by the time I'm done with you." Mildly degrading is probably the way to go. Defiant, but not overly offensive. Challenge their masculinity enough to get it to take over their logical process. At this point they all just laugh at me. Comrade Bigman snaps his fingers.
"Search her. If she resists, cut off clothes and then search her. When you are done, untie her wrists."
I'm yanked to my feet, although not as brutally as one might expect. I love sexism. Anyway, they probably figure they're going to make some sport of me now, knock me out, and take me back to base camp. There's two mens' hands running over my body, and they're sufficiently ignorant, clumsy, and brash to get me annoyed. One hand running down my back finds my custom Glock 21, remodeled for .45 Super, kitted out with accessories, and he pulls it out of the holster in the back of my pants. A moment later, going down my legs, they find the knife in my left boot and my lighter Glock 30, which they pull out of the boot holster. What they -don't- know is that when I was ordering my .45 ACP glocks to have remodeled to handle .45 Super, I was hit by a fit of indecision and had Glock send me all three guns they chamber in .45. Now, I'm not a squanderer, so I made a special ankle choker that supports my ultralight, ultra slim, 1.13" profile Glock 36, which is nestled between the inside of my G30 holster and my leg. God praise the Austrians. Some people might discriminate, claiming bastard off-shoot Germans, but not me. They spawned Glock.
After they finish their inspection, which thoroughly covers all areas of my body that I couldn't practically conceal a weapon with any modicum of comfort or accessability, I'm thoroughly annoyed and the air stinks of testosterone. Finally they untie my wrists, with unsavory expressions bespeaking minds full of absurd notions of them 'getting some'. I sigh. I've decided that these are well-trained soldiers playing the part of poorly trained soldiers. This sort of unprofessionalism just doesn't cut it in my book.
"Out of curiousity, if I had screamed bloody murder and made a ruckus while Meatbags A and B were having their first experience with the female body, were you going to gun them down along with me?" Meatbags A and B look thoroughly offended, and Operative Comrade is flabbergasted that I'm not only unfazed, but treating him look like an idiot. "In fact, you are aware that you've wasted an absurd amount of time and that the trackers in my company are going to come down on your heads anytime now? You know, in our unit, we have a running kill tally and I'm losing to my partner by 5 kills. I'd better deal with all of you guys before he gets here."
The Russian's mouth opens and closes a few times, and I can feel the heat coming off his face. He storms up to me and punches me, hard, in the stomach. That one hurt like hell - which is perfect. I double over, cough, hit the ground, and curl up, with my right arm clutching my stomach. I even throw in a half-hearted whimper for his ego. My left arm, which is underneath me, slides down between my legs to my ankle, and I stealthily slide out my G36 and keep it palmed against my forearm in the near-dark. Now would be a good time to mention that, as an interesting aside, Glock safeties are built into the trigger, which is a completely absurd principle as safeties on guns are designed to protect innocent people from idiots and random chance, and having a safety that pulls with the trigger fails both these trials. That said, it means that there's no audible click from a manual safety switch prior to firing.
God Praise the Austrians.
The Russian tells his men to 'be quick' and walks the jeep, probably getting a handheld to report to his base. Be quick? They've got no idea - they're going to be discharging fluid sooner than they hoped. One of them moves up and stands over me, leering. I smile as his hand goes to his belt, and say in my most sultry voice, "Let me help you with that."
I reach up, grab his belt, yank myself up, and knee him in the groin as hard as I can. Comically, the belt comes loose just as I complete the manuever and his pants drop, which is fine by me. I slam my elbow into his face, turn, and step-sidekick at the one behind me, slamming the heel of my boot into his nose. With that I bring my foot down, take two running steps, and snap a roundhouse kick into the man who had the audacity to belt on my guns. The two near him react, one grabbing me from behind before I can wheel behind the guy with my guns, so I smash his nose with my head (advantage of being shorter) and decide to let the cat out of the bag. I reach up behind me as his head snaps back, shove the Glock under his chin, and splatter his brains out of the top of his head with a 185-grain metal jacketed bullet exiting the barrel at 1400 fps. I imagine it's going to leave a nasty, permanent burn scar on his chin, too. I slide an arm around him as he starts to slump, spin around and press my chest against his, reach over him, and put one round in the face of the last soldier I haven't engaged, just as he manages to bring up his sidearm and fire a round into his dead comrade's back.
With that, I shove the body at the one recovering from me smashing his nose with my boot, who is running towards me as he goes to draw his gun. The body crumples to the ground in front of him and he trips. Whipping the slim Glock around, I discharge the third round just below the neck, my favorite short-ranged 'sweet spot' for its wide profile and generally poorly armored nature, on the boy with my pistols. He already had one of my guns trained on me (I'm surprised he was strong enough to bring it to bear quickly enough) and was trying to find the safety. Pantsman, alternatively designated Meatbag B, begins to worry me, so I give him a look and sure enough, he's spent his seconds well since I pantsed him. He's not only recovered but has drawn his sidearm. I dive towards him at an oblique angle, tuck into a roll, and feel the shockwave of a bullet graze my ass. Instead of coming up out of the roll, I let myself unroll onto the ground and smash his gun to the ground with a rolling axe kick before he can regain his target picture. With the hand pinned under my boot for a moment, and at least a few fingers crunched, I reach my arm out to Tripsy, who is untangling himself from the body three feet away from where I lie. He looks up as he struggles, which is helpful, because it's easier to give them one 'between the eyes' from two inches when you can see their eyes. I bring my arm back around and shoot Pantsman in the head. Five up, five down.
Without waiting, I roll onto my right hip, reach out, grab pantsman's leg, and yank myself across him. I had already seen the Russian out of the corner of my eye aiming at me, and I fire before he finishes taking aim. It's a bad shot and the bullet whizzes past his face - I was aiming for his right shoulder so he'd lose grip on his gun - but he tucks and dives for cover anyway. I roll past Pantsman and behind a tree. I curse vehemently under my breath, as it's the closest available cover, but in the wrong direction from my guns. Bullets tear into the tree very near my body and I feel more validated in my choice, and I dive beyond and slip behind another tree.
It's not -that- bad; A Glock 36 pistol holds 6 + 1 rounds, chamber plus magazine. I slide my finger along the extractor, which protrudes a bit when a round is chambered, and feel the reassuring bump. One bullet left. I pop my head out and look around, then look up.
Commander Bigshot (I haven't decided what nickname is best for him yet, but rest assured it will be some variation of this) creeps along, in the barest light afforded by the Jeep's headlights beyond the range of the clearing. Admittedly, he's rather quiet. He spins towards a noise in a thicket near to him, and his tactical flashlight goes on, illuminating the bush. Too bad I'm above him on a low tree limb. I silently come off the branch, and land on his gun, my right foot at the back of the suppressor and left foot on the back of the receiver. The gun goes off and he yelps, his trigger finger snapping as I ride his weapon to the ground. I throw out an elbow to silence the annoying sound, nailing him in the teeth, and he falls back, as I've already pinned his left foot down with my own. I walk up beside him, step on his left wrist, pinning the hand down, take quick aim, and shoot off his left index finger, eliciting a justifiable scream. It's not just pain - it's mutilation, and not something you can easily suck up, seeing as your finger has been liberated from your body on a rather permanent basis.
With both of his trigger fingers dealt with, I relieve him of his sidearm anyway, roll him over and slam his face into the ground. Then I quickly search him, finding, to my delight, a pair of the quick-tie police binders in a thigh pocket, and roughly put his mangled hands behind his back and bind him.
I get out another pair of binders and deal with his ankles. Running is no funning. Then I sit on his back and smile, ejecting the magazine from his Colt .45 and pulling back the slide, ejecting the last round. I deliberately reload the magazing to my Glock, slam it up into the handgrip, chamber a round, drop the mag, add another, and reload. Then we talk.
"State your name."
"Iosef Ivanovich Tyurin. You can have that much, devil-bitch. The name of the man you killed. But you get no more."
I sigh again. What a morning. "Please don't make even the most vague stabs at morality with me, I have absolutely zero problem with killing, torturing, or otherwise mangling you. If I had a shaker of salt on me, I'd be pouring it in your left index stub. Speaking of which, how long before you bleed out? That simply wouldn't do."
So I find a lighter on his person, gather some brush, and make a small fire. I'm not too worried about being found - the Ravens will eventually get to the lights on the jeep, and far before Cora's yokels do. But I work deliberately, using the ample carpet of dead plant and wood, until I get a small, hot blaze going. I steal one of Comrade Shovinstuff's gloves (that one's a keeper) and put it on, then heat the metal buttplate of his magazine. I do this at an angle where he can't exactly see what I'm doing, keeping pressure applied over his wounded finger with my free hand and some cloth from a sleeve. After I'm satisfied, I break the silence.
"So, would you like me to bandage your hand before you slowly bleed to death?"
He swears at me in Russian. Sounds like a Ukranian dialect. Rude.
"I'll take that as a yes. Do you know what cautery is? I don't have one handy for a demonstration, but it's an old-style tool used for heating, to cauterize a wound."
"I know what a cauter is, devil woman."
"Alright, good, that'll prevent me drawing a diagram." It's not dawn yet, so that would have been a bit challenging, and annoying. "Anyway, as I said, I don't have a cauter but I've been working this little hot little fire here, and I'm fairly sure that the buttplate from your sidearm's magazine will do the trick." I spin around and straddle his back, facing his head, and lean down over his ear.
"Let's play a game. Rule one is I don't care how loud you scream, because it's only going to bring MY men here faster, and nobody's out here to help you, are they, flyboy? Rule number two, I know how to treat a dog, and when a dog is good, you reward it by giving it a bone. When the dog is bad, you punish it by searing its finger, blown off by a forty-five caliber bullet and looking pretty nasty, shut with a red-hot piece of metal." I switch to Russian. "Rule number three is, if your dog calls you a filthy word, which you've done four times thus far, you smash the dog's head off the ground. To be fair, I already did that once." So I grab his hair and smash his face one, two, three times into the ground. "Simple game, really."
With that, I turn around and grab his hand, forcing his bloody stub out straight.
"Who is Warlord's contact inside the Senate who informed about the troop deployments?"
"No thank you. Since that technically doesn't fall under Article III of our rules, we'll resort to article IIB." I jam the red-hot plate on the magazine into the stub. I've never done this before, but I couldn't tell you if it sizzles, because he screamed the whole time, rather loudly, as flesh, veins, and raw nerves get burned shut. After a few moments I take it off, and see to my satisfaction that it's still oozing blood.
"Go to hell."
"That's the business of men who order other men to gang rape women." I set down the magazine with the end in the fire, pick up his empty sidearm, and smash the stub with the dovetail rear sights. I love high profile sights. This mostly undoes the effects of my brief cauterization and it starts bleeding nicely again.
"I'm not going to let you bleed out on me here, comrade. So now I've got to make sure I get this wound closed up again, since you got me riled up and I opened it back up. So, will it be bandages? Or are we taking the low road?"
This treatment continues for a few minutes, before I find out that he didn't know who the inside contact was, that there's a few hundred men deployed at Warlord's advance oil drilling base, and confirm Dorian's reconassaince regarding the alternate entrances into the compound. Plans are already starting to formulate in my mind, and I elicit a promise from my new friend to draw out a functional aeriel-view sketch of the compound's various levels, as before, we had no interior intel to go on.
Really, getting mugged by a group of cock-driven soldiers on a recon night mission and dragged two miles out into the woods to be interrogated and violated seems like an out-and-out 'L' in the scorebooks, but if you keep a positive attitude, an open mind, and a staunch stomach for torture and the smell of burning flesh, you can always turn things around into a 'W' in the bottom of the ninth.
And that, kids, is the moral of the story.
[Updated on: Thu, 25 December 2008 12:37] by Moderator
Re: JA2 Short(Long?) Story[message #204832]
||Wed, 24 December 2008 20:04 |
Location: Lacey, WA, USA
And that, kids, is the moral of the story.
LOL!!! What a great read!! Wow!! Keep up the good work Buzzsaw!!
Re: JA2 Short(Long?) Story[message #204885]
||Thu, 25 December 2008 15:39 |
Location: Ohio, USA
|"...and much had been planned. Men of Night Ravens get settled in at old, empty houses from Mujan's clan, who leave town to move to city. Americans take Juso's house, small, one-room house. They do not complain, though they are men and women. I take them to place outside village, where thick grove has been grown around a pond along stream. This is place where clothes and body can be washed - we have no running water. Place where drinking water is taken, farther upstream."
Spicy curry burns pleasantly in my belly. I haven't eaten this good in quite some time now. I fold hands over my stomach, and slouch back against smooth tree bark.
I take chair to Coto's house, and fall asleep sitting next to his bed. I try to keep awake, but this lasts maybe five minutes. I have feverish dreams, where men are shot. I see the white man, a hole in one side of head and gaping wound in other. I see men die again and again. But finally, I slip into comfortable, dreamless sleep.
Then I am rocked awake by shouting. Coto's mother is hysterical. My friend, he yells over and over about the man's eyes. I tell her to keep him in bed, and I run outside, to the next house. Operative Monk is staying in there this night, with young man, unmarried. I open the door and run to where the mercenary sleeps on cot. I put a hand on shoulder to wake him, and moments later find myself forced to knees, a burning feeling running up arm, and a blade against my neck. A moment later, he releases me.
"I apologize, Catan. You get used to sleeping in unsafe places." He speaks quietly, and stands up from the cot in near silence. He has only a thin blanket, and is nearly naked - our summer nights are hot by summer daytime standards for some Americans. In moments, he has light pants and shirt on, and we return to Coto's house, where the boy has settled down to holding himself and staring blankly at his wall. I am stunned to see Coto in so much pain. I do all I can.
"Coto? Coto, it is Catan. This man is one of the Americans who have come to help us drive the Warlord away. He wants to speak with you, in English. He says he understands some of your pain, and hopes he can help be someone to talk to." He looks at me with haunted expression, almost pleading for me to help him, but I shake my head.
"Coto, I have never had to know what you know, now. I wish I had advice, knowledge, anything that can help you. But these people who come to us, they are good people, I think. And this man, he has known what it is like to kill for a first time. He knows what haunts your heart tonight. I...I do not." I shake my head and pat Coto's arm, and my small, frail friend nods.
"Thank you, Catan. I will speak to the man, in English. Please, return to your house and sleep now. It is still some hours before dawn."
With that, I grip his arm lightly, the thin, but tough arm of a man whose arms have helped carry him for whole life. And I return to my home.
I later find out that Monk and Coto talk for hours into night. Me, I find sleep, restful sleep, finally. But even in sleep, I find worry in my heart and dreams. And again, when I finally am sleeping well, and peaceful, with no dark dreams, something again wakes me, and it is not yet morning.
Shouting is coming from outside. Official voices, in my language. Night Ravens. Someone is missing. An American. Mayhem.
The archangel, she is gone. I jump out of bed and run outside, jumping into cloth shoes and pulling on shirt as I go. I find closest Night Raven.
"Sir, excuse me, what has happened-"...but I cannot finish as he cuts me off.
"You, young man. Catan, right?" He speaks precise English. "One of the American mercenaries has gone missing. We are locating some clues right this moment. We do not know what has happened but this could be very bad. Do you know the land around here, to the East, towards the Warlord's base?"
"You will come with us." He slams a submachine gun into my hands and points at a few things. "Folding stock release. Safety switch. This one toggles between semi-automatic and three round burst. There is no full automatic fire. Magazine release." He flicks it, and catches the magazine, shining a light on it. "There's a bit of a wiggle with these when you reload." He demonstrates, then points at a small handle. "Charging handle. If you load a new magazine, you must pull this all the way back and release it before the gun will fire, it puts a round in the barrel from the magazine." He pats me on the shoulder. "Come on, let's see what is happening."
I understand most of it, but safety switch? My English is not the best at this point in my life, and I do not know what safety is. Our Russian rifle does not have one.
"Sir, what is safety switch?"
He looks at me, and smiles knowingly. "Your village has a Mosin-Nagant rifle. Fine piece, considering Russia's poor manufacturing standards in that era, it's still a good gun. No safety though." He points back at the small switch. "Toggle this up, the gun will [/i]not[/i] fire if you pull the trigger. Toggle it down and your gun is hot. Try to keep it safe until you think a fight is imminent."
Then he sticks an extra magazine in each of my pockets, and starts to trot off. I clumsily put the carry strap on gun over my shoulder, and follow him. Moments later, we are with many Night Ravens, who are now speaking in rapid, quiet English.
"We have located traces of a fight. Southeast corner of town, it looks like Mayhem was surprised by several men, there was a bit of a struggle but not much. Then footprints head roughly south by southeast."
"So she didn't make any sort of defection move?" The night team's commander, man who conscripted me, has worried look on face. I am angry at this, but it is not difficult to understand. These are federal trained soldiers. They fight for country. The Americans, they are mercenaries. They fight for money.
The first man shakes head. "No, I think these mercenaries aren't going to be switching sides for money. Far too professonal. I got my hands on the dossier the commander had faxed over about their outfit. Impeccable service record. There's also several instances where Interpol or CIA traced communication between their leader and various blood lords and other undesirable characters. He has, to a man, turned them all down."
The commander snorts. "Mercenaries with ethics. Perhaps miracles do exist."
We leave the town briskly, thirteen of us. The Night Ravens are all deadly quiet, I try to keep up without making more noise than a bull cattle. It is not easy, however. After a few minutes of light jog, I finally master art of keeping gun from banging noisily around. Soon after, we lose any sight of trail of enemies. The emptier parts of fields around town leave only little traces to follow. The men stop for a moment to think.
"Excuse me sirs, but I think they head that way." I point. They all look around at me.
"Why is that, young man?"
"Because, I realize which way we go. There is rocky dirt that way, we never cut back forest that way to make field, too much rock in ground, so we cut back forest more in other directions. That way is much closer to forest than any other way around village, so they probably want least distance in open fields."
"It's a bit of a guess, but a good one. Move out!"
It seems as if an eternity pass while we run, faster than before. Without a trail to follow, we are not slowed down. I do not run out of breath - I sometimes run with heavy baskets and tools, to see how fast I can finish my work for the day. It is, though, only several minutes we are running. We are hopeful to catch men soon, to get a trail when we reach the forest. The tracker, he says that the men walked as far as trail could be seen, and that when trail disappears, it is not likely that they run. Running footprints are deeper, more likely to disturb ground. Easy to follow.
Soon, we reach the edge of the forest, and commander signals us to slow down, and crouches, pulling goggles over face. Then he holds up gun and flips switch. I see other men turning on goggles too, and pressing switches on guns. My gun has a switch, but the commander has not explained it to me, and I have no goggles. So I leave it alone and stay in back, but crouch down all the same.
After a few moments of sweeping around, he signals. We move out, at a slow, cautious pace, until we are in the forest. Soon after, the tracker taps commander on the shoulder.
"We have tracks, sir.", he whispers. "Quite a lot of broken fern, and depressions in the carpet." Commander nods.
I look at my friend. "This is, truly, about most tense moment I have ever experienced in my life. We are in dark forest, I barely can see, we know enemy has passed along, we do not know where they are. Needless to say, when two gunshots are fired in distance, I nearly crap my pants."
He laughs. "I can only imagine. It must have been hell on your nerves out there. I can't imagine being in a blackout situation like that - no combat training."
This is a good assessment. And, as I say, I nearly soil myself. The men all drop to their knee, guns fly around, as more gunshots ring out. Within ten seconds, it is over.
One of their trackers points. "That direction. Move!"
And the Night Ravens take off, running fast through the forest. I have to run almost as hard as I can to keep up - I spend much time in forest when I am young, I know it well. But it is dark, and branches slap me in the face, so I keep an arm up to protect it. A few minutes later it seems, above the racket of our not so quiet running, one more loud gunshot pierces the night's quiet. And the Night Ravens run harder. Something is still happening, they do not want to lose scent of their prey.
Soon after this, eerie noises echo through the woods. We are getting closer, definitely we run in the right direction. Several more times, the noise is heard - and I begin to realize, it is man screaming. Something terrible. Maybe a jaguar? They have not been seen in these woods for many years. Then I realize - there is more terrible predator in these woods, one who has been awoken and dragged out here.
Finally, we see light. As we are closing in, the men slide their goggles up at some loud, whistled order and flashlights blink on, illuminating forest in wild, hopping lights. Now I can see better, and we start making better time.
Then we come to a place I know - just ahead there is a clearing. Risking making a mistake, I call out loudly, and the men stop. The commander looks around, putting a finger to his lips, but I run up to him and whisper in his ear.
"Very soon, there is large clearing, surrounded by thick bushes and trees. When we are boys, we clear out much of area and plant biggest ferns we can move, to make clearing where we can play boy games." He nods.
"Good work, Catan." He raps two fingers against gloved hand quietly, then makes hand signals to his men. They fan out, and lights go out. They approach clearing slowly now, deadly quiet. Shortly after, they reach perimeter, and peek through bushes. I sneak up as quietly as I can, and look in.
A jeep has low lights on, putting clearing in a light glow. There are men, looking very killed dead, laying in the clearing. Two are on top of each other. One has pants around ankles. It is bizarre sight. I look around. The men have moved wide around the clearing. In the low light, I can see one enter on the far side, not far from jeep, crouched low with gun waving around.
Then he is flattened to ground by a figure landing on him from tree, gun pulled out of hands and placed under chin. My thumb, which is sitting on safety of gun, pushes switch down. The figure peers at him, then a woman's voice laughs out, piercing the night, and she puts the gun down.
"Don't worry boys, I took care of everything for you, just in time for you strapping young lads to hide the bodies and carry the loot." It's Operative Mayhem. All of the dead bodies belong to the men who abducted her. I'm stunned. She took down many armed men, and she is unhurt. The Night Ravens enter the clearing, guns waving around, then one gives clear signal and they approach the woman, who is helping up operative she flattened. She cocks her hip to one side, and speaks business-like.
"We've got a half dozen suppressed Heckler and Koch UMPs, and some M1911 knock off pistols. IR tac laser/lamps, cheap NVGs. Decent stuff for a covert op - really though, I'm impressed they use the same caliber in their sidearms as their main gun. Professional types, these." She looks around. "Three native men, two Asians, one Russian. Looks like handpicked stuff from Warlord's men. Anyway, we've also got a Dragunov-series sniper rifle here - Wraith'll be overjoyed - and a flare gun and several shotguns in the jeep. Oh, and one live Russian, who's sleeping like a baby after I sedated him. I had to remove one of his fingers, and then we played twenty questions with a hot metal brand. I think that about covers the news update. I'll disclose what I found out when you boys get me back to base so I can clean the viscera off of myself. But right now, one of you boys had better give me a coffin nail. The rest of these punks smoke some serious cheap shit - I wouldn't be surprised if it's standard issue along with the rest of their gear. "
I am shocked, standing there at the edge of the clearing with a submachine gun in my hands. It is then that I hear a rustle near me, and I slowly turn my head, as if that will make me more quiet and less noticeable.
There are men there, creeping towards clearing. But the rest of Night Ravens were not with us, and were not supposed to follow us. But they could be them. One of them peeks into clearing, sees Night Ravens and Mayhem standing there, then makes signal, and other men approach. They shoulder their guns and I see lasers turn on, aiming towards men in clearing.
I bellow in English at top of my lungs, "ENEMIES!!! BEHIND!!!" and, pushing the stock of submachine gun into cradle, I look over top of the gun, since is too dark to use sights, and pull the trigger. A loud sound, bang bang bang, rings out, two bullets hit tree and one hits man in side. Yelling ensues in my language, and I see guns sweeping around towards me, and I dive behind tree fast as I can.
To this day, I must praise God that tree was too big for bullets to go through. Gunfire shreds bark, chips wood, the entire forest is like chaos. Then I hear shouts from the clearing, and more guns join chorus. My head starts to hurt. But I cannot wait. I roll around tree, into tall fern at edge of clearing, and look down my gun towards enemies. Their guns do not flash fire as bright as I would hope, but I see what I think is enemy and fire. Same triple noise, a thrum that is alien to me, bursts out as three shots fly from barrel. I can see that I miss, but I also see shadowy figure run for cover.
I hear in English, "FLARE!". I do not know this word, so I am blinded for a moment when something hits a tree above enemies, and bursts into bright light. Yells of pain and surprise from some of the Warlord's men, who do not speak English, and get blinded by the flare. I come up from my crouch, and someone runs into me full-speed from behind.
"Och! Oof! Hell!" Whispered curses. "Moose? Is that you?" It's Mayhem.
"Hey, big guy. Take this, pull this, and throw it in the middle of them. You've probably got a hundred-twenty on your fastball, so give it to 'em good. Then cover your ears and close your eyes."
She runs past me, holding her forearms over ears. There is a big gun in each hand. I pull where directed and hurl the object at enemy men. Then I close my eyes and put my hands over my ears hard as I can.
When flashbang goes off, it still rattles inside of my brain. I am dizzy briefly, though, and I open my eyes, blink, and I see several soldiers lying on ground, stunned and in pain. Others look around, try to find target to fight against. I realize the boom bomb is for surprise, so I suddenly make up my mind and run at them. I push my gun back into cradle on shoulder, and as I come near the flare, the red light shines over receiver of gun. I line up my sights and squeeze trigger. The enemy at other end shakes as bullets all enter his body, and slumps. I aim and fire again. Man lying on ground has three bullets enter his back. I see one stumbling man aim his gun at me and I drop to knees, fire. He fires. A bullet hits my shoulder, my gun shoots him in chest. Bullets are not coming from Night Ravens in clearing, but I can still hear guns. More fighting.
I jump into run again, fire a burst at another enemy, then another. The light is good enough; their men are stunned. I am not. I fire again, missing a man who dives to the ground, then I lower my gun and shoot, and drop to one knee as a bullet from his gun tears into my leg. I fire faster, taking little time to aim, and some shots miss. It is easy, though, and more bursts come from my gun.
Then I take aim at last one I see before me and pull trigger. Gun goes 'click.' I fumble with lever, magazine drops to ground. I grab one from pocket, yank it free, shove it into gun, wiggle until it clicks, push gun against shoulder, grab charging handle -
His gun is pointed at my face, and I see laser. It is over.
Then I see a blazing cross of flame behind him, and bullets burst from front of body in spray of blood. I can't believe she could pull trigger so fast. They seem to all hit him at same time. Mayhem runs up, putting new magazine into pistol.
"They've got you out here in the middle of the woods with no God damn vest, flashlight, or night eyes? Who the f*ck do these boys think they are?" She shines a light on me. "Your leg is frigging bleeding. Keep your ass in the grass and only use that thing if you NEED to!"
Mayhem starts to run, then stops, looking around quickly, and looks over her shoulder.
"Nice shooting, buckeroo."
I don't know at this time what a f*ck, a frigging, or a buckeroo is, but I understand the most of the rest, and I pull myself over to a bush, sliding under big fern leaves. Then I remember my gun, and pull charging handle. I know it is ready.
Then I sit, trying to stop leg from bleeding too bad, and listen to the sound of gunfight. A boom bomb goes off - it leaves my brain a bit mixed up, but it isn't too bad from distance.
I just shot men. It's strangest thing of my life. Before, I had nightmare, when I saw men die. When our people were killed by soldiers, I was not close enough to see. When soldiers were killed by Coto and mercenaries, it was most unsettling thing I ever see. The pictures are burned in my head that night when I sleep. That night? As I sit there, I realize this is only hours ago, but I talk about it like ancient past.
I feel nothing.
No anger, no sadness, no fear. Most of all, I feel no regret. Thoes men, they are men who help Warlord, who hurt innocent people. Maybe some of them, they are same men from before who shoot my neighbors, my friends. Who kill Juso - he told me stories, Coto and I, when we were little boys. And then they come, like scorpions in night, to kill people who come to help my village. No, I do not kill them because I want to, I did not kill them because of anger. I did not shoot those men because they killed my people, or because they were evil.
I shot them because they were about to shoot good people.
Good? But the other people, the Night Ravens, the American - they are soldiers like these people. Mayhem has killed six men, like it is nothing. Maybe good and evil, they are meaningless. I realize then, sitting in this bush, that these men, maybe some of them are very evil men. But probably many of them are young men who think Warlord can help them.
They probably think they do the right thing. And that their enemies are evil. Maybe Mayhem killed men who they were friends with, who they grew up with. I do not know.
But, I do know that, even if these men are not bad men, they are men on the wrong side. They follow a bad leader. They do bad things because they think it will be best in the end. And maybe in the end, Warlord even wants to make things better, make things that work, for all people.
But I doubt it. And even if it is true, I will not be one of the people he walks over to finish his goals.
I am shaken from my thoughts by footsteps running my way. I hear men shouting in my language.
"Get back to the jeeps! Retreat! These American devils are too strong!"
I peek out from under the fern. Three men are running almost straight towards me. I could let them go, but...
Maybe they get back to Warlord, he finds out about Night Ravens. Maybe he attacks village with all his forces. I do not know. Maybe one of these men kills Mayhem, the archangel, at battle when we attack. They are more enemies we must fight. My mind is already made up.
I take aim, and fire. The first one snaps back as second and third bullet catch him in neck and mouth. In the fading light from flare, I see him crumple. Then I turn, firing again, three shots hitting next man in chest. He falls. Third man dives to ground and fires wildly at me, and I lay flat, aim, and pull trigger several times. Then his gun stops.
I dare to put head up, and I can see him, lying near where flare is. My bullets hit him in face. I get up, and stumble towards the clearing. There are no more sounds of gunfire, I hear men shouting in English. Night Ravens. They are confirming all is clear.
I yell as loud as I can manage, "Clear!" as I stumble in their direction, and I can hear men walking towards me. Then I leap out of my skin as a single roaring gunshot goes off to my left. I spin in time to see the man I shoot in chest before fall to ground. Mayhem switches off laser on her gun, and lowers it.
"Never give an 'All clear' until you've checked the bodies of the men you put down, especially if you shoot them center mass." She has walked forward and rolls the body over on its back. She points.
"Hard ceramic insert, type III bullet-defeating armor. Kevlar vest carrier. This is a bulletproof vest. Most of them weren't this well protected." She rips his jacket open and pulls out something large, a thick ceramic armor plate I have not seen before. It looks like tombstone.
"Still, make sure they're all dead before you signal your allies. If one is left alive and people come over, an automatic weapon could mean wounds or death for you and your squad." She sighs and hands me the armor plate. "Hold on to that. I'm going to have these ops field strip everything useful off these goons, then we're going to get the f*ck out of here before it gets worse. Three Ravens are down - one might not live. The enemy wasn't ready for the backlash of our counterattack. And you did one hell of a job, all things considered. You probably saved all our lives, Catan."
I stand there, staring. Then she slaps me on my thigh near the bullet wound and I yelp. "Get moving over to the jeep. You're going to need suture on that leg. You'll live, though." I nod and limp towards where the Ravens are gathered. If my leg is needing surgery, why does she slap it?
I may never understand this American woman. But she has already taught me much valuable information. I am surprised, thinking how angry she was to find that the Night Ravens brought me. They did not tell me to come and fight with them, they want me as a guide. I just find that I need to fight anyway.
I must talk to her about this, later. There is much I need to ask her. But first, I will speak to her teammate. I am going to practice using squad machine gun with Operative Justice tomorrow morning. Then I realize it is this morning, and that I've noticed first sunlight strong enough to reach through canopy is making clearing a little brighter. I reach the place where injured Ravens and medics are, and slump to ground, leaning back against jeep. One of them looks at me. It is team commander, and a medic is working with a bad wound in his side. He grunts.
"I didn't...I apologize. I did not mean to get you in the middle. I just wanted...unh...some help finding the American. How many...did you take down?"
I think back, running through the events in my head. I remember that I hit seven times, miss three times, then reload, then the three men went past. "Ten men. No...it was nine men. I shoot one who is wearing this, in the chest. Mayhem, she killed him when he tried to shoot me from behind." I show him the ceramic plate, and he grunts.
"Some of them were pretty well armored. We're going to have to take this into consideration." He looks around. "Are we done field stripping yet? We need this stuff for analysis. It's going to help, too, if we need to arm the townsfolk. Get the damn lead out, I want to be tucked in bed and sucking my thumb in twenty minutes, men! Find the keys to their vehicles, and load up. Get Maro on a stretcher. If he doesn't make it, it's coming out of your salary for the next year! Step it up!"
The soldiers, who were already working as fast as they can, they work faster now. Soon we are all safely in Warlord's jeeps, driving through forest as fast as soldiers in front can make good enough trail to pass. It is slow for a little while, then we find old road ruts, and the rest is fine.
Mayhem is sitting next to me. She has body armor off, with cold pack on her stomach. She has medical kit, and is treating bullet wound on my shoulder. It is only graze wound, but it is bleeding a lot, almost as bad as leg. She tells me small artery is hit. So she stabs needle in bicep and my shoulder goes numb, then she starts to work. I still feel it - it hurts, but not so bad. After a few minutes riding like this, she breaks the quiet.
"So how do you feel? Just today, your friend, he shoots a man to death. Now you've taken down a whole squadron to yourself. How do you feel?"
I look down at her. "I do not know. There are some questions I need to answer. This war - I read about it as a child. It does not make sense to me then. And now, it makes less sense to me. It changes whole view about right and wrong."
She shakes her head. "How do you feel, though?"
And I understand what she means. "I...I do not feel anything for those men. They are both my enemy, and they are soldiers. They must be ready. They must know they put their life in danger. And they follow evil man. Maybe they are not evil men themselves. But there cannot be time to seperate them. I must either kill them, or I, and you, and these men would have died. So, I do not feel anything. I know that God must have them now, and he will know if the men were good, or bad. He must care for them now. I can only do what is best for my people, now. There is nothing else for me to worry of."
She is now rolling a light bandage over my arm. "You've got your head on straight, big guy. Let me tell you something. War is hell, and I've seen some of the worst of it. You have to be inherently selfish in war time. You need to think about yourself, your comrades, your country, your mission. The others must do the same. If you are on a battlefield and unprepared to die, well, then you are dooming yourself. Nobody is ever all the way prepared. But, you've got to stay objective. You don't get a choice of who to fight. It would be better if all the good people were on one side and the bad ones on the other. It would make it easier for most." She shakes her head. "But when I looked into your eyes, after it was all over, I could see, clear as day, that you're not fazed. You're not different at all - and killing, and war, and death, it changes people. Shocks them into something else, different from before."
She looks at me. "But you, you are not like me. I wasn't changed because...well, that's complicated but basically, doctors say that my mind is incapable of processing emotions like guilt. I don't feel a thing because I can't. But you...you're not like me. And yet somehow, you are okay right now."
Mayhem shakes her head, and turns away. She does not say anything for the rest of the return trip. She just looks out across the fields as we enter them, and the morning light slowly illuminates the land that my people have spent their entire lives making fruitful and good. But there are no problems, and everything seems right in the world for this short moment.
And from what I remember, we make it back to the village in a little less than nineteen minutes."
[Updated on: Thu, 25 December 2008 15:41] by Moderator
Re: JA2 Short(Long?) Story[message #204999]
||Sat, 27 December 2008 14:30 |
Location: Ohio, USA
|Darkness is the answer.
The problem is not the issue of destroying the serpent's head. Even a serpent who hides in its cave must sometime come out for food. And when the serpent shows its head, you sever it.
The problem is that the serpent, if very cautious, may not poke its head out for a very long time, and time you do not have. So, with our superior technology we need to assault them at night, when they will at a disadvantage, even with greater numbers. The risk is committing to a night strike, only to find that the serpent's head is not there when we enter the cave. But it is a risk we must take, for we cannot play a game of waiting.
We are outmanned and outgunned. So our only chance of attacking a fortified, walled position surrouned by coverless open terrain is to attack under the cover of darkness. And now we have what we need. The man we captured before, he was just a grunt, and the sum of his knowledge wasn't worth the rope used to tie his wrists, much less the time spent extracting it. However, Seneca has captured a ranking officer in service of the target. And his intel, if it's good, is going to be very useful.
I set up the sattelite link and place a call to headquarters. It's a bit early, but there's not going to be time today to place calls. There is too much work to do. So, after a lengthy series of rings, Dorian picks up the receiver just before I get sent to voice mail.
I smile. "Good morning."
"Wraith? Holy hell, it's not even seven in the morning. You could at least wait until dawn. You're lucky I keep the encrpyted line in my room." He yawns loudly. "All right, everything looks kosher. Let's have the report, young lady."
This elicits a smirk. "For the record, it's summer on this side of the ball. You should get a cottage out here for the wintertime, old man. Now, there's a lot to cover. First and foremost, our flight to visit the shepherd found wolves accosting the lambs, but we drove them off with zero sheep lost and sixteen wolves down. We also caught one and put a muzzle on it. It howled not too long after. Wile we weren't able to acquire the sandbags you wanted, he had a bunch of selfish mongrels nipping at his heels; however, we found some well-trained birds that are going to help with the cleanup here. Other than that, the weather is balmy and the locals are a peach. A couple young men speak pretty good English, so our tour has been most enriching. Oh, and Lady M got lost this morning, but with the help of the birds' keen eyes, they found her out in the woods. Managed to get their hands on another wolf, too - and it howled a pretty interesting tune. Anyway, we're looking to finish our tour here pretty soon. If we get the delivery that the sandbag guy promised us, we should be finished with the cleanup soon, and if we hit my timetable, we'll be stateside in forty-eight. How was the football game on Sunday?"
"It was a good matchup, but our team came out on top. Looks like that signing bonus rumor is getting finalized faster than we thought, so there won't be any problems with the players next year, if the organization opts to re-hire. Now we just need to make sure they win the big game."
"Well I can't wait to watch the highlight reel from this weekend's game. Anyway, I'll let you know how our beachcombing expidition goes as soon as possible. Any way you can get that overhead we talked about?"
"That's a negative right now, it all depends on whether the big Gen will let me use his magnifying glass. If anything changes, I'll send you a letter, so make sure you keep an eye out for it."
"Roger that. Get back to sleep. Over and out."
I hang up.
Seneca walks in as I'm breaking down the uplink, looking frazzled and holding some kind of cloth to her forehead. "Did you call Big D?" I nod to her.
"Apparently our proponents in UN pushed through for a contract settlement. Very hush hush. So that's one good angle. Oh, and we're not going to have an eagle eye during the strike, unless something changes."
She shrugs. "That's fine. It would help, but we're working on strategic advantage right now. If all goes well, we're not going to need any battle uplink data. And the locals weren't too keen on the idea but the Ravens got back one of the bodies from yesterday and doctored it up a bit. If Warlord hasn't sent a party to the location already, they're going to make sure that it'll take a forensics expert to prove that it isn't the Russian's body." She peers about at all the small windows. "Where's Justice?"
"He got up early for once, he's out finding a place to use as a range with that local kid for his crash course in support fire training."
"Good." I look up to see she's stripping off her clothes, then notice that she's still wearing the bloodied, filthy stuff she rode back into camp with, and wrinkle my nose a little. "Seriously?"
Mayhem shrugs. "I wanted to deal with the Russian as quickly as possible and make sure that we covered up his abduction. But I couldn't wear that for even a second longer." She gets into some cheap throw-away sweats and selects a full set of clothing along with it. "But I couldn't do it for a second longer. I'm going down to wash at their pondy-thing, right this f**king instant. It actually sounds quaint and relaxing. And Catan said he'd make sure that no villagers come down for a little while, at least. Their ideas about privacy vary wildly from our own, it seems."
With that, she tips a salute to me and turns to leave.
"What exactly did you do to the prisoner to get him to sing?"
"Oh, never you mind your pretty little head off about all that. I probably could have gone a route that didn't involve any permanent bodily harm but I was feeling rather karmic at the time, and anyway, I simply inflicted the most pain I could without seriously risking his life." She smiles sweetly as she walks over to me. "Between you and me, I should have blown off something more creative than half of his index finger. Would have gotten the bad ideas out of his head." And with that, she pats me on the head patronizingly and walks out.
"Just don't overdo it, we do have a reputation for cleanliness and precision." I get a dismissive wave in response and sigh. There's nothing I can really do with her. She and Alison are the main element of our strike team, but they're both a bit of loose cannons. In the interest keeping Mayhem happy, I arranged several large explosions in our battle plans, and when a truck delivered supplies for the Night Ravens, an extra coffin-sized crate of goodies for her was included, so that'll take up most of her day and prevent her from slaughtering the enemy wholesale before we can execute a plan that'll avoid massive collateral damage.
Not that we have to worry overmuch about Warlord's compound. After we deal with him, the compound is going to get taken out anyway. Looks like the Prime Minister has decided to start playing a material war, since it's Cora's only strategic weakness. Good thing we had that talk.
I look over the drafts of the compound one more time. I've been looking over them for half an hour now, and it's all pretty straightforward, but I don't want to miss anything. I feel like I've got it all down pretty well, though, and I tuck the plans away. It's time for breakfast, but I don't feel hungry right now. The morning's events have me spooked. On a whim, I leave the house and walk across the village street, greeting the villagers tenatively in their language as I pass. They are all polite enough, but you can just tell when someone is put off by an armed soldier wearing full body armor and carrying combat weapons.
The dim shack is mostly empty; it's an old abandoned hut that hasn't been used in a while. The two Night Ravens standing outside, however, bely its unassuming appearance. I walk over and sit on the floor next to the bound man. He does not look up at me. His hands, tied in front of him, make me cringe. One index finger is splinted, the other is bandaged, and, well...half missing. I understand where Seneca is coming from - but it doesn't make it alright in my book, even if it's impossible to deny the effectiveness of her methods.
"Hey there soldier. What's your name?"
The mercenary looks up. "More devil women? Go away. I have told everything I know. This is the truth."
"I'm not here for that. You've had a rough time. And while war is hell, it doesn't make it any lighter to watch another mercenary get banged up. Ours is the worst position in this business, really." I look him in the eyes. "Are you a Vodka drinker?"
Boy, did that surprise him. "Da. And I could use a stiff drink, with morning I've been having."
I whip out my bowie knife and slice the bindings on his wrists at the knot. I'm really not intimidated by this battered soldier with two seriously injured hands. Even if he made a move for my knife, I'd just hit him in the bandages. So I sheath the blade - I left my guns outside. And then I hand him the paper sack I brought over with me. He hastily unfolds the top and pulls the paper down. Inside is a sealed bottle of Absolut.
"I think I am hallucinating right now. But I will drink all the same."
I offer a tin coffee cup. "One of my men is a Vodka guy, but he won't notice that's missing until we're on the flight back to the States. And then I'll just hope the plane keeps its bar stocked." I smile. "I am Wraith, our team commander. Who are you?"
"Iosef Tyurin. Former young, bright officer in twilight of Red Army days. I did not like the restructuring, so I left, and I've been working in hot zones in Asia, Europe, and the Americas ever since. I do not go to Africa, though - is hell hole for a soldier." With his cup of Vodka carefully poured, he takes a long draught, and instantly seems to relax. Apparently, you can take the Vodka out of the Russian but you can never take the Russian out of the Vodka...or something.
"Well, if Operative Mayhem had shot you to death, it wouldn't be a concern at present, but since you're a prisoner of war, it's my job as the operation commander to make sure your rights therein aren't violated. Of course, since this operation does not exist, you don't have any, but we're going to do what we can regardless."
"I am not a saint, and I am not here to play 'good cop', but you've got some serious considerations. You've betrayed your employer, albeit under threat of torture and execution. Returning to him is not a viable option in my opinion, but it's one I'm going to offer you."
He nearly chokes on his Vodka.
"Anyway," I continue before he can interrupt, "your other options are pretty simple. You can seek amnesty with the government here, and I put in a good word. Things aren't too terrible here, it'll probably be alright, but I know that Cora has spies in high-ranking positions and since you'd be detained until this conflict settled, they might find cause to take you out while you're in detainment. It's an option, however. Alternately, if you aren't wanted for any crimes of war or felonies by Interpol or the U.S. Federal government, I can offer you passage as far as the United States on your way to your destination country of choice."
He eyes me. He is void of trust, but I know my offer sounds like a new lease on life to a condemned man. Actually, it is. Of course I'm serious; it's simultaneously a courtesy to try to help this man and a way to control him. If he thinks his best chance at keeping his heart pumping is to keep his head low and let us get him out of the country, then he's less likely to try to break out and kill or hurt people in the process. And quite honestly, what I've heard of Alanzo Cora tells me that even if he did escape, his best bet would -not- be returning there. The man is a monster. Now, people say Seneca is a monster, but they don't know her. She's unethical, not amoral; she has a firmer grasp of right and wrong than the average joe, and she does what she thinks is correct. It's her dehumanized view of the enemy that frightens me, and leads to her brutal, effective methods of dealing with them.
Which is why I'm dealing with a Russian mercenary right now with one index finger broken and the other shot off with a pistol, cauterized with improper methods, and possibly infected - which I'm going to ask Jonas to take a look at, which he'll do despite his inherent desire to snap the Russian's neck for his conduct. I'm not too happy about that either, but it's war, and bad things happen during wars. Commanders throughout history have let their troops do distateful things to lower enemy morale and keep up that of their men. So, Jonas is going to give it a serious look over, because I tell him to.
The Russian has finished the Vodka, and pours a second cup before capping the bottle back up. "First cup was for the pain, second cup is for the nerves." I smile and nod.
"Anyway, Mr. Tyurin, I know what it's like out there for a lot of freelancers, and it's a vicious, ugly business with only one retirement option - make a lot of cash and get the hell out. But it's a trap, in its own way." I look at him seriously. "I know ways you can get in touch with people so you don't have to sell your gun to every filthy two-bit dictator who thinks they can run their country better than its incumbent government. When this is all over, I'll give you some information and you can think it over."
The Russian looks at me solemnly, and nods, then takes another drink. "You know, the other woman - Mayhem. You look just like her. Your hair is different, and your eyes...well, I have never seen eyes like the ones on that woman. But...other than that, you look like sister to each other."
I laugh. "I've been told that by many people, actually. The truth is, honestly, that we could hardly be more different."
Tyurin finishes the drink and I rebind his hands properly. "Need to make sure you don't break out and cause any sort of ruckus, you know. If there is time today, I'll stop by this evening and see if I can't pinch off some hooch for you to go with your food." I pat the Russian on the shoulder.
"Anyway. Keep your head low and we should all be out of this untidy little war soon enough. You're not as young as you used to be, Mr. Tyurin. Hopefully you've got a nice bank account in Switzerland from all these working years. Maybe you should think about a nice house in a country with a nice climate. And beaches, if you go for that sort of thing."
With that, I exit the hut, turn, and nearly walk headlong into Seneca. She looks at me, ice blue eyes boring into me.
"All freshened up?"
"Oh, yes. I highly recommend it. Yesterday was pretty excitable, and it's hot here, and you know how your armpits get." She makes a sour look at me. Completely insufferable. "Anyway, I won't tell Justice that you pinched his best booze. He'll find out himself, of course. How is he?"
"Less shaken up now that I let him get a nip of Russian diplomacy." It's completely impossible to read her. However, it would seem, at least from how she's acting, that she's not harboring any anger toward our prisoner, which is good. I'm going to keep an eye on her anyway.
"I regret shooting off his finger, a little." I look at her, and in no way mask my general inability to believe that statement. Her return look is annoyed. "In an academic sense. I probably could have just cut him, or used a toe. Those are less useful, though I hear some armies won't take you if you're missing your little toe. Balance issues. But, you know, now that I think about it, it's not something I can just undo, is it? Heat of the moment, and all that. Anyway, you should definitely have Monk look at the injury. It's not that I don't trust the Night Ravens' battlefield medicine, but honestly, we all got shot to shit out there this morning. Professionals or not, I don't trust them to have completely given him the best treatment they could have - like making sure there's no serious infection in his wound."
Completely unpredictable. Remorse? No. Mayhem doesn't identify, much less empathize, with other people. There's a completely practical reason for her interest. All I can guess is that her thinking is the same as mine, about keeping him under control. If she hadn't given her word that she would let him live, she would have probably just put a bullet in his head when she was done with him. But since she did, I'm sure she doesn't want that to backfire.
Cold and calculating.
So I'm off and I find Jonas, who is finishing up rounds with the wounded Ravens. Thanks to him, even their severely injured soldier should live. He shipped out with the empty supply truck this morning - along with the captured peon from yesterday, who is going to go to jail. I'm sure the penal code here isn't the best, but it's not something I can, or need to, have on my hands.
I've got more than enough.
"Operative Monk, can I have a minute of your time?" He nods quietly, taking off surgical gloves and washing his hands thoroughly in a basin. We walk out into the fields, keeping a bit of distance from the working farmers.
"I'm a bit concerned with the prisoner. The wound that Mayhem gave him could have serious health ramifications if not properly cared for." He's already stiffened up a little bit, despite his impeccible self-control. I do not betray the fact that I've noticed. "Anyway, can I count on you to give the injury a serious examination to make sure that it's being handled as best as we can, and to make sure he's not going to lose a hand to gangrene?"
He nods, but does not speak. Jonas isn't a loquacious man in the first place, and I've just good and pissed him off.
"Thank you very much. After that, get some rest - we've got a planning meeting at noon. I heard you were up all damn night, practically, with that young man and Mayhem going missing. How is he?"
He does not respond for a few moments. Jonas is one of those rare, disciplined people who always gathers his answer before he speaks.
"Coto is deeply affected by his experience. There is little anyone can do to reconcile this for him. It is a difficult thing that changes many men, and considering the psychological nature of an individual who has lived a life of simplicity and peace, it may be too much for him to handle for a very long time. I doubt he'll ever pick up a gun again."
Which is sort of like Jonas. He refuses to use guns. Not that he can't handle one - he's quite a good shot. But he has not picked up a gun in a long time. He's wicked with a blade and exceptional at hand-to-hand combat; has an extensive knowledge of medicine and battlefield surgery, among many other talents. Which is why he's in a business like this, on a team like ours, despite the fact that he refuses to use guns.
That, and because I can rely on him.
So, knowing that the Russian is going to be properly looked after, I head off to find Alison.
Finalization of plans at noon. Need to look after townsfolk's concerns. Make sure the Russian gets fed properly. I should probably get a coded message out to the Prime Minister. Check up for status updates from Dorian. And I should probably calibrate my gun, oil up, fire off some practice rounds to sight in, and clean it. Then I need to handle logistics with the Ravens' commander and go over all our intel again together to make sure we're not missing anything.
At least I won't be idle.
Re: JA2 Short(Long?) Story[message #205006]
||Sat, 27 December 2008 16:34 |
Location: Ohio, USA
|"The bad news is, you're rougher'n diamond out of a mine. The extent of your formal training with firearms is hand-me-down knowledge practiced on a Mosin-Nagant bolt-action rifle with iron sights and a thirty second crash course in the user interface of a modern firearm at four o'clock in the morning."
"The good news is, you took out nine bogeys out of ten hit in thirteen bursts in the middle of a night fight, total chaos. The fact that you kept your head on your shoulders, literally and metaphorically, in a crisis situation, means that I know that I can rely in you to keep your head again in a battle. And quite frankly, I've fired machine guns, and I've fired Mosin-Nagants, and there are a lot of machine guns that are more comfortable than those Russian shoulder-busters."
I grin and scratch my chin. "So, Catan, we got some serious artillery supplies in this morning, and I've got a classic here." I push the lid off the long crate and extract the Heckler&Koch HK 21E .308 caliber machine gun. You could probably kill an elephant with this thing if you hit it with the stock in just the right spot on the head. Hefting the burly machine gun, I offer it to my trainee. A humongous hand wraps around the middle of the gun and he picks it up like it's a long rifle. I bet that Mosin-Nagant looks like a toy in his hands. I extract an ammo box and we spend a few minutes covering the basics of machine gun use.
"Hollywood's classic stereotype of heavy infantry weapons is that you spray and pray, and usually perforate your target. That's sort of the goal, but there's a lot that goes into it. First off, you need to be able to physically manage the recoil and keep your sights on the target. I'm not even going to broach the first topic with you other than to say that, due to the weapon's weight and internal mechanisms, you're going to feel less recoil per shot than on the Mosin rifle, even though the cartridges are of similar dimensions." The guy hasn't said anything yet, so I'm hoping he's understanding everything I say. He seems smart enough, and has good English, so I trust he'll pipe up if he needs anything.
"The difference is, you're going to be getting socked in the shoulder at a rate of, oh, eight hundred or so times per minute. Which brings us to our second point - target picture."
So I cover all the practical knowledge I can share with him without going into esoteric stuff, and stay on topic. Instruction, it isn't really my thing. Good thing machine guns are, and frankly, any gun you need two hands to hold feels natural to me, be it bolt-action, semi, full auto, or a laser cannon. Whenever we get laser cannons, you better believe I'm going to be the first to buy one.
"So the last thing I want to cover is the practicals of this guy here. This is from the Heckler & Koch company; most guns I opt to carry are HK or modified to function like them. Unlike that sub gun you used this morning, you have one selector switch here." I indicate it. "Safe. Semi-automatic. Three-round burst, which I hear you're intimitely familiar with. And fully automatic. As you can see - " I heft another 21E out of the box, "this wonderful German design means you need only pause for a split second to switch your fire mode. The barrel is quick-change because, as a machine gun, this bad boy is going to get hot if you need to keep putting boxes through it."
Less than ten minutes later, we're all done with the boring crap, and the gun is loaded. Earlier this morning, I found this spot, a wide vista away from any particular farm, with a steep hillock about a hundred yards from our current position. So I took the Glock telescoping, adjustable hand shovel (they think of everything) that Mayhem gave me for Christmas (she got it free because of all the damn Glock crap she orders) and dug out a nice section, deep enough to function as a de facto bullet trap for even the most paranoid safety lobbyist, considering there's no civilization for ten miles in any direction. To my delight, I found a high clay composition not far below the surface. And, if I do say so myself, the target is quite a nice androgynous 2m tall human shape. Glock makes nice shovels.
"Well, we've got a bunch of ammunition, so why don't you take it for a spin? You'll never get to change a hot barrel if you don't heat it up.
Catan smiles, a little bit of a boyish smile, puts on his ear protectors, and shoulders the giant gun from a standing position. I open my mouth to point out the attached bipod, which we covered in our lecture, but the four-part selector goes 'click-click-click' and I cover my ears.
Eight seconds later, the end of the belt feeds. Catan drops to a knee, safes the weapon, and gets another box on there in an impressive time. Good grief.
"Alright, let's go take a look at it." I can see from here that he kept the weapon on target virtually the whole time, and a minute later when we get there, I confirm visually that lost control at no point in the firing. I'm not surprised - his strength is enormous and he holds the gun as naturally as anyone I've ever seen. Using a little field trick for gunner practice, I unfold the spade, schluff off a few inches from the clay, then slap it back on and smack it back into place, leaving a smooth face on what looked bullet-riddled a minute ago.
"Alright, let's go practice burst and semi-automatic fire. If you're good with iron sights on a Mosin rifle, you should have absolutely no problem with 30 cal NATO at two hundred yards from prone and knee."
After a bit of practice at one hundred yards, the barrel's gotten toasty, and while it's well within operating range, we change it hot for practice. Just as we chamber up, someone speaks from behind us.
"Good morning, gentlemen. I see you're working hard."
It's Wraith. I stand up and turn around. "Morning, Commander. I'm not sure he's cut out to be a machine gunner."
Catan looks at me confused, as does Wraith. "I figure you give him a DMR and hide him in a tree, and he'd make an even better sniper. He's putting three-round bursts on target without any difficulty at 100 yards. It's like "boom! headshot" but with three booms."
I look at the big guy. "On second thought, scratch the part about the tree." But I shrug. "But honestly, I think we will be prepared well within the timetable you presented us, no problem. Hell, this guy will be a better machine gunner than me. He's so strong, I bet he could fire the Iron Crosses like a couple of toys."
She looks at me with an arched brow. That's high praise, coming from me. But after a few moments, Wraith nods.
"How are your injuries, Catan?" She looks at his bandages. The big man shrugs.
"They hurt, especially my leg. But I will not complain; the Night Ravens say they have brace that will help keep stress off leg if I need to run. I probably cannot run with more than sixty or seventy kilograms in this state." He shrugs, looking as if that's a shameful thing. Shit, I weigh ninety kilos. Good to know he can haul my ass out of the frying pan if I get shot all to hell.
"Excuse me, Ms, um, Commander Wraith. I did not have chance to visit him this morning, I took time to sleep for few hours. Is Coto well?"
She shakes her head, and replies sadly, "He's emotionally drained. Physically the man is fine, but who knows how long it will be before he's okay, on the inside?" She brushes away a rebellious hair that found its way out of her overarching cosmotological tyranny. "How about you? Mayhem told me in her debriefing that you took down nine soldiers in close-quarters combat this morning, in addition to giving a warning and cover fire that may have saved the entire unit. But do you feel alright? You killed men; you were shot twice."
"I...there are many things, questions in my mind of this new thing, called war. But I have no questions that I must defend my village from murderers and tyrants."
Let me tell ya, I'm glad as hell to have this guy on our team here.
"All right. If you have any change of heart, I'm not going to blame you, but make sure you have it, and inform me of it, before twenty-hundred if you do. That's eight o'clock this evening. Don't have too much fun out here, boys. Oh...and make sure to save some ammo for the battle." With that she turns and strides off.
It's good having a person like Wraith as team commander. Her head is so put on right, to the point that you have to wonder if God pulled out special calibration tools when he made her. That way, I can worry about blowing away a hillside for target practice with a machine gun. Yep, good thing I have the fun job.
Speaking of which, grab the second HK and load up. This thing is the Mercedes of machine guns. I'm not going to miss out on the fun.
"Alright buddy, let's go. First one to draw a visible line around their side of the target wins."
With that, I lean heavily into the machine gun and take aim. It may be controllable by 7.62 NATO standards, but that's in comparison to rifles and machine guns that are out-and-out painful to fire in automatic. And then we draw lines around our target.
A couple hours later, we've worked on marksmanship in semi and burst at and beyond ranges we can expect to see in combat. Catan's ability to control the gun means that, even though I'm still a better shot, he can put more hits on the target because the damn thing doesn't seem to recoil in his gorilla hands. After that, we spend some time on suppression fire.
"Suppression fire is probably the most important role of machine guns since their inception as infantry weapons, emplaced or otherwise. Now let me tell you, a lot of people think that you just gun down large amounts of soldiers with machine guns. This is partly true, and they are very deadly. But you can't expect that, just because you turn your weapon on an approaching platoon, that they're all going to fall like overripe fruit from a tree. More importantly, you can control their actions with your gun, by playing on the single most powerful overriding human instinct - survival."
I've got a fresh barrel and belt. I nod towards our target, now three hundred yards distant. We've been lugging around machine gun ordnance all morning. "There's a bunch of soldiers down there, and they're coming at you. At this range, in full automatic, you're not going to stop them all, but you've got men moving to flank them. To control them to give your people a better position, you do this."
I drop to my knees, plant the bipod on the ground, and fall prone, take quick aim down the irons, and spray. Even at this range, the powerful .30 cal makes visible work into the hillock, peppering it with controlling fire.
"Try to cover the area the soldiers are in. Make them all dive for cover. This is why you put a machine gunner in a defensive emplacement with two crew to change the barrel and belt, and a spotter, instead of four marksmen with highly accurate rifles. If I've got a gun crew and ideal equipment, I can take a large number of soldiers and completely deny them the ability to move across an open area without large numbers of casualties. This can force retreat, and with sufficient emplacements and clever tactics with your own field infantry, you can even force the enemy to surrender - or throw themselves into a suicide situation where their casualties are maximum, and your own are minimal."
By the time the sun crests in the sky, I feel that Catan is more than ready to take my place in the rearguard. I guess I'm going to have to get acquainted with my old assault rifle, because I'm going in hot with Monk and Mayhem.
I casually wonder how the Night Ravens are going to feel, kitted out with their tactical assault rifles, IR spotting gear, an everything else, running around with a guy without a gun and a woman wielding two pistols that deserve a zip code apiece to themselves. It doesn't really matter - they're professionals and aren't going to act the slightest bit different. But it's got to be strange for them all the same.
It's not so bad - after all, half of the Night Ravens got to see the aftermath of Mayhem, just before seeing her in action. I doubt any of them have serious objections as to our efficacy, and if they do, I've got a feeling that the guy who's been spying on Catan and I perforating a human-size target from 300 yards and generally tilling under a hillside, well, he'll make sure his commander and squad hear all about it.
Good stuff. I hope the guy watching us is good and intimidated.
We pack up, march back to the supply crate and jeep, and hoist the godawful heavy sunuvabitch into the back, then ride it back to town. We're going to break for lunch, then clean the hell out of these HKs, although I'm personally confident we could probably run thousands of rounds through them without running afoul. In an operation like the one upcoming, you have absolutely zero tolerance for stupid preventable mistakes. By the end of the day, I figure we'll cover some U.S. Marine standard indoctrination - 'This is my rifle. There are many like it....'
Nah. from my point of view, that stuff is seven tenths true, three tenths brainwashing. That's why I'm in the private sector. Anyway, if I get my way, one of the Ravens' designated marksmen in the rearguard will be assigned to supplement both Catan and their machine gunner if they have to use their MGs in heavy fire - which will only happen if and when we are running like hell. That way, they won't have to stop firing but for moments.
Because if this seven foot mule can really haul a seventy kilo kit, I'm gonna have both those HKs strapped to his back.
See, the perfect machine gun emplacement has two machine guns - you can concentrate the firepower, then when you start to heat up and/or run out of ammo, you can alternate so that you never, ever have to stop laying down the rain.
I snap out of my reverie, we're nearly back to town. Ugh. Strategy meeting. If I didn't have concerns I actually cared to voice, I'd tell Wraith we needed several more hours of field work. But as it is, we'll have plenty of time. At least I get lunch out of the deal. In fact, I think I'll go nab that bottle of Absolut I so carefully packed, and have a cup of Vodka with my lunch.
Re: JA2 Short(Long?) Story[message #205009]
||Sat, 27 December 2008 16:55 |
Location: Ohio, USA
I'll move this to the archives section down at the foot of forums page , (short stories by ja fans , hint ,hint )this week when I've time . Pretty good though !
But Lockie, I just want to be a rockstar! Not that being added to a preexisting post within a forum located at the foot of the forums page isn't more than good enough for me, but you can't derive an interest group without some front page exposure
Which is why, when I finish writing my novel, I'm going to do something so ridiculously interesting that news reporters will be tempted to write articles on me and, thus, make mention of my book in the press
It's all part of the grand master plan.
.........that, and I couldn't find the short stories section when I looked so I thought this was as close as it gets.
Which may illustrate my initial point...hehe
hmmmmmm, The calm before the storm.
Indeed. But don't worry, the storm is coming. I'm actually scratching up an outline, and it may go through a couple of drafts. So far I've just been writing as I go, which is what I mostly do.
EDIT: EDIT: OLDNOOB
I am the ultimate game balancer
What makes you the ultimate game balancer?
I've been meaning to ask you that for like a week now.
[Updated on: Sat, 27 December 2008 17:00] by Moderator
Re: JA2 Short(Long?) Story[message #240436]
||Wed, 23 December 2009 01:55 |
Location: Ohio, USA
|My story, it is reaching its climax now. A few others have come to join, and listen to the tale of Catan the man, before he becomes Catan the warrior. I'm up on my feet now, and I feel the excitement of a good story in the air.
"It is now three in the morning and the night is still. Except for one thing. As we move across the wide open stretch towards tall fortified walls and barbed wire fences, spot lights sweep toward our group. We often stop, in case a light might come too close to our party. It take twenty minutes - and after all is done, we have dug shallow fox hole. I am in this hole with three Night Ravens. We have two machine gunners and two marksmen. Our orders are clear and simple. We have little cover - we are to support team's retreat from the base and avoid revealing our position to enemy. At my right, the mountains tower up into the sky, a blackest shadow that cover all stars. This is maybe half a kilometer from where we lay. Another ambush party waits between Warlord's base and trees, the Americans' team commander is there.
Leading the assault into Warlord's base is Mayhem, and Monk. Justice is also in this group. He tells me before we leave that I can do his job better than he can, and requested to Wraith to join in base entry. Then he sticks two machine guns on my back and explains to me how to run machine gun crew. Fifteen Night Ravens are going with them. But there are hundreds of soldiers in there. I lay there in the sand, and experience time slowing down as the wait becomes like forever. I begin to wonder what the angel, Mayhem is thinking. They are probably within seeing range for soldiers, close enough to almost feel electricity on the tall fence."
...I raise my hand and flash several quick hand signals back to the team behind me. Quick as you please there's three men up at the fence, with special equipment. Clever beavers that they are, they have the grid section disabled in moments and a space cut. We slip in like thieves in the night (which, in a sense, we are) and they unroll a section of special insulated fence, which is almost seamlessly worked in place over the hole. Of course, when we're running like rats with a fire lit behind their ass, we'll be able to just tear that section off - or shoulder right through it.
My Iron Crosses are fully equipped tonight, each one feeling like I've got a full size rifle belted at the hip. I draw one and slide my NVGs back into place, taking note of the guards' patrol pattern atop the wall. We all press against the wall, far too close to be in the range of illumination when a spotlight sweeps past again. A minute later, the lonesome pair of guards patrolling here make their round, eleven feet above our heads. As they walk along the wall away from the sheer mountain face, we creep towards it, then quickly scale the wall there. What were these dips thinking, building a wall into a mountainside, no matter how steep?
Justice and and his strike team drop down to the sandy ground inside the compound proper. Jonie, myself, and two of the Ravens dressed in the usual attire of Warlord's men crawl along, and we occupy the recess on the inside of the wall walkway where a steep staircase leads down into the compound. Justice has already slunk to the base of the staircase - almost a ladder, really - and I make a funnel of my hand over the lamp on my gun, and quickly flash out a message in morse code. He gives me an affirmative signal and leaves one man at the base of the staircase to watch for any approach. However, since the guard should not change for another thirteen minutes, we should have plenty of time.
We haven't long to wait. A few minutes later, shortly after a spotlight beam sweeps past, the two patrolmen walk right past us. Jonas moves like a snake, slithering up behind them, with one of the Ravens right behind him. The other Raven and I sneak along, a few yards behind, with suppressed pistols in hand, just in case.
But then the two strike, and within moments both of the guards lie dead or near enough, necks broken like chickens. The bodies are dropped off of the wall outside, at the base of the mountain. Then our two Ravens take position patrolling the wall with the enemies' rifles, and Jonas and I drop down to the courtyard. I give a few more signals, and we get the charges set in place with haste and precision. Everything is still quiet - they don't yet know that they've got a coiled adder in their bed yet.
The kill tallies are going to find out within the next ten minutes that they are kill tallies. Just as soon as we've covered our escape. Not that I don't trust my dear commander - she's probably had her sights trained on the same soldier's head for the last forty minutes.
I gently work my right index finger across the trigger, feeling it twitch with sufficient tension. Laying flat on a stone slab, one of the few rocky outcroppings in this whole mess, with a full cold camo net to match the stone in the cold desert night - it hasn't been my idea of a fun time. Just for kicks, I start to switch my sights between one target and the next, seeing how quickly I can zoom in on one enemy's head. When a light begins to sweep in our direction, I switch back to my primary, and only let my rifle swivel to keep my crosshairs on his face.
Not that there's a serious chance of detection at seven hundred fifty yards, but this isn't the time to give up caution.
Beside me are two others - the Ravens' best designated sniper and the other young man from the village, who had suddenly come to me and insisted that I let him help. Surprisingly, it had been after Mayhem, of all people, had gone and looked in on him. The wonders will likely never cease. As shorthanded as I am, I got him acquainted with a high power scope and a semiautomatic sniper rifle.
Beneath us are two more Ravens, resting against the base of the outcropping, ready to spring around and ambush any enemies who try to compromise our positions. And while normally I wouldn't dream of putting three snipers in the same place, this barren landscape is so devoid of elevated vantage points that this seven meter high lump in the middle of the flat landscape was the only real option.
Suddenly, I nearly leapt out of my skin - my satellite uplink phone vibrated against my hip. After my heartbeat slowed, I detached it with as little motion as possible and slowly brought it to my ear.
"Hello?" I whispered into the device. "Dorian, now is not the time!"
"Yes, Wraith, I understand that. But I just wanted to let you know that the eagle is in flight." He relayed to me the uplink information, and I quickly started preparing a morse-vibration message for Seneca, who was already inside the facility. I hung up without a goodbye as Dorian finished, and called the Raven commander.
"Colonel - yes, I know, yes it's urgent!" I was whispering furiously into the phone. "You need to know, the eye in the sky is open. Everyone on every team needs to get on the tactical feed - we'll be getting real-time coordination from our operations director. No, he's already up and running in the capital. We're talking sub-millisecond lag times. Get all your teams up and running. Our timetable is staying on schedule, and we have seven minutes. Yeah. Wraith out."
I booted the notebook at my side and began to furiously work to get the uplinks activated. I tried to remain stone still while working, wishing this had all been ready an hour ago...
Wishing I could be muttering complaints, I silently fumed as I got my ear gear linked in and clicked in to Wraith. Waiting silently in the darkest place we could find, at the mountain's base beside a concrete building, our seven-man team had spread out slightly and concealed themselves behind crates, a jeep, and the like. Monk and Mayhem, as always, were side by side. I looked over my customized G36C, feeling it in my hands. Wraith had politely declined to let me bring my automatic shotgun, but I did have a lightweight South African military shotgun slung over my shoulder, with six each of doorbreaching and double 00 rounds loaded in its twin barrels. It's amazing what you can get for three kilograms these days.
With that comforting feel weighing down on my right shoulder, We sent several silent signals in the infrared. I had the team fully logged in well before Wraith's affirmative chirp came back in my helmet earpiece.
I flicked my carbine to burst fire. It was time to go.
"The man next to me has a laptop computer, and we are all watching a perfect satellite view of entire compound. Already I had made sure my earphone is working right. To stop boredom, we switch to view from gunship plane giving surveillance from high in air. The countdown clock in corner of computer screen fast approaches zero - and with only a few seconds left, a flash of light appears at the top of zooomed out view from aircraft.
Within small tiny piece of second of clock hitting zero, the rocket hits the compound's north wall and tiny soldiers go up in flames. Computer man switches back to satellite local views, quickly changing feeds and watching local views of all areas of compound. Soldiers begin to run every way in complete craze of activity, organizing against attack from outside. Just as they are making ready, the northern group who make the first attack with the RPG, they use satellite link to launch mortar rounds. And in moments, more explosions are going off - some in midst of soldiers, others destroy floodlights, which come crashing down and make further chaos. And then, in our ears, we hear Mayhem's voice come in quietly, but clear."
Justice and Jonie flank me as we move through the darkness. In other parts of the complex are screams of the dying, shouts of command, and soldiers running wild. As we stealthily make our way through the dark, our two disguised agents on the ramparts man a floodlight and begin communicating on the enemy radio channels, along with the pair of guards who had just arrived to relieve their watch. Soldiers began pouring out of the central complex, in various states of preparedness. Things were forming nicely.
You see, the thing about the modern fortified structure is that the portals by which one may enter or exit the structure are designed to be as severely resistant to bombardment as the rest of the structure - when they are closed. Most of the time, it is assumed that people will not be using the door while bombs are raining down.
This couldn't be any further from the truth now, and the well-aimed, low-trajectory mortar that we had been bracing for strikes one offshoot doorway dead on, taking out a couple of enemy soldiers and blasting the entryway wide open. And, wearing our fire-resistant assault gear, the team runs as quietly as possible along the building wall and plunges into the breach. On the inside of the emergency mess hall door, with fires burning in numerous places and men shouting, I see several running towards me. Before they can fire, I raise my low-caliber, suppressed Glock 18 and fire a quick burst through the closest one, feeling Justice's fire from behind my shoulder, and two others contort as the .223s from his carbine plunge into their chests. As three others come out of the kitchen, firing sidearms, I dive behind a mess table, shots whizzing past me the wrong way.
I look down, and see a bullet hole in my vest, and feel the usual pain. And everything begins to slow. I holster my silenced 18 and pull out my custom made pistols, the Iron Crosses.
Rolling out and coming up to my feet guns first, I watch in slow motion as three of the Raven operatives on the team put down the enemy with a blindside attack. They had moved fast - exceptionally fast. With all weapons free now - no point in silencers anymore - I creep up and clear the kitchen.
"clear." Looking over my shoulder, I give the Ravens my best reproachful look.
"Good work, fellas. How about next time I get abducted in the night, you move that fast too?"
After disarming them with a smile, we move out, with Justice taking point and Jonie bringing up the rear. One operative operates a small GPS with a real-time map making sure we don't take a wrong turn.
"Confirmed! Jinettes are clear!"
I breathe a sigh of relief. Colonel Behar's team had successfully evacuated their position, moving rapidly away across the open desert. In the meantime, Seneca, Alison, and Jonas had inserted their team into the compound and are already moving towards the warlord's presumed location - making a secure evacuation toward the rooftop helicopter pad.
I unsafe my rifle. Part of our plan, necessarily, is multiplying the perception of force. I sight in, while the spotter beside me calls in the necessary adjustments...and I simply push the round out of my rifle.
I see the target spin, a burst of hot light leaping from his chest on my infrared goggles. Inhaling, I focus as the rifle beside me fires. I quietly call out a target once more, take my spotter's adjustments, and release another round.
I turn and aim at the next target, as does my co-sniper. We take our adjustments, and our rifles each report once. Two soldiers recoil, stumble, and drop from the ramparts. The other two with them duck and run along the ramparts, covering their heads.
Two wolves among the sheep.
I take aim on a target of opportunity, while simultaneously focusing my attention on the fleeing 'soldiers.' As they run past a pair of men along the ramparts, I fire. Not only does my tar get fall, both of the men they are running past convulse and drop, and the two operatives dive down as if to cover themselves, after gunning the men down from close range with suppressed pistols. In this mess, nobody will ever be the wiser.
In the meantime, Dorian's voice continues to come quietly out of the multiband that I have monitoring all of the tac channels. With a full war room at his disposal, he is the master coordinator. And when I hear his voice in my ear, telling me that a soldier is aiming an RPG in our direction, I home in on him, and before my spotter can even begin to rattle off corrections, I fire. There is nothing zen or cathartic about a rocket propelled grenade aimed directly at you, so I flick a switch on the side of my rifle and hold down the trigger. His weapon flashes. My weapon recoils. I don't really have time to do anything but scream - RPGs move a lot slower in the movies than in real life.
Looking around the corner, I finally see what we've gone through all this trouble to see Alanzo Cora. I smile. Such an inconsiderate host. And surrounded by a few dozen soldiers, armed to the teeth.
I signal the squad, then tap out a code to Wraith. 'Rainmaker'.
Justice flanks quietly across the darkened hallway, as a lone flickering light is the only source of illumination besides a few flashlights trained on the direction the group is moving in. As we thought, they are headed for the roof. My hands run over the cold steel of my pistols, and anticipation sets in.
This is going to be a bloodbath...and I can't wait.
I see Justice adjust the NS2000 shotgun so he can access it almost instantly if he empties his 36C's clip. I see monk draw a pair of throwing knives and crawl into the hallway on all fours like a jackal. I see it all so slowly. But then I start to itch - and reflexively look at my watch.
It should have rained by now.
Looking over at Mayhem, even with our NVGs on, I know she can see my worry. Monk is in front of me now as we have advanced to another hallway crossing the one through which Cora's party moves, inexorably, toward the roof and his helicopter. I wave Mayhem's group on, and she and the Ravens are across the hall from us within moments. One of Cora's men spins and scans the hall with a flashlight - too late. I move my wrist up to my mouth as Mayhem reflexively puts a hand to her left ear.
"We need to make a move, something may be wrong with Wraith or the plane. If either is the case we can't expect help - if the former is the case, we need to get to her. Fast."
Mayhem, for once, looks a bit uncertain as she ponders the options, but then she nods. We prepare to go, when suddenly, Dorian's voice in our team's ears halts us.
"Spearhead, this is command. Grassy knoll has been hit, I repeat, RPG hit. Hit was indirect - front of knoll - but no report has come in yet. Over."
I realize I'm clutching my gun and my blood has run cold as ice. "Command, Justice - we coded in Rainmaker. But with our friends on the knoll uncertain, we should defer...the bird may be our only hope of extraction. Can they send smaller raindrops, and assure leaving the goods intact? If not, we will just forget the goods, we can confirm goods have been delivered to Charon and extract with the bird. Over."
"Spearhead, command. Rainmaker will dispatch as many targets as possible. Call in to me the moment the goods make their way onto the roof, to give the Rainmaker an ID. Copy? Over."
"Spearhead copies, over and out."
Our six-man team skulks down the hallway, fingers on triggers. We are nearly at the roof access at the top of the compound. The idea is to get Cora out alive, to lend the government power to end the struggle - but I have no idea whether Wraith is okay or not. I look over at Mayhem and make a circle motion with my wrist. She nods and flashes a hand signal to Jonas and the others behind me. Then the Iron Crosses come up.
It's stunning just how quiet an ear-shattering roar can be when you're focused. You just....don't really register it.
Six ear-shattering roars later, the rear echelon of Cora's phalanx drops dead to the floor and I dip back behind the corner as they return fire with a vengeance. Cora shouts to them in English, leaving six more behind to fight us as the others run break neck for the roof.
I look over. Justice takes three rapid breaths. I've seen him do this before, just before he does something -
It's too late. Jonas grabs out for him, but he's already out of arms' reach.
With a crazed yell, Alison shoves off of the wall he's leaning against out into the corridor full speed. He unloads the entire magazine from his 36C, pulls the trigger on his underslung launcher, sending a frag grenade at the enemies, and, without missing a beat, throws his rifle at them and brings the shotgun to bear.
And takes a barrage of shots and slips on the concrete as his feet continue but his torso slows down, falling unceremoniously on his back and discharging a door breaching round into the ceiling.
As the Ravens come around firing into the smoke of the frag grenade, Monk leaps into the hallway like a panther, sliding across the slick finished floor and reaching Justice in a blink. I am just coming around as he comes running back with the smaller man in tow, pulling him to the safety of cover to assess his injuries. Meanwhile, the gunfire has stopped. The Ravens and I creep forward in near silence, and pass over bodies. Clearing them one after another, we pass through the smoke.
The hallway is clear - but another crosshall is just ahead. With trigger fingers itchy, we continue, all the way to the hall, and peering slowly into it at an angle, the Raven spotter and I clear both directions.
Then two rifles shatter the silence, one near and one far. One Raven grunts in surprise and falls back against the wall, holding his shoulder. Up the corridor, an enemy contact falls dead, taken out by another Night Raven just as he shot.
Seeing the door for the roof access hall perhaps thirty feet further, I signal the team and move out quickly, moving down the hall with a steady pace. We clear the last two intersections with alacrity, and come to the desired door, near the end of the long third-floor hallway. Damn - this place is like a friggin hospital. Odd through now....the door has a small window set in it. Light pours through the small window. Slowly, I come up from a crouch and look through.
To see Cora step up through the hatchway onto the roof. I comm in.
"Command, Mayhem. The goods just hit the rooftop!"
Groaning, I take account of everyone around me as my brain begins to settle down, no longer rattling around inside my skull. The RPG attak was a miss - sort of. We are all alive, Coto is not injured, and neither of the Night Ravens are hurt badly enough from being hurled off the back of the outcropping to be incapacitated. I force my thoughts into order and comm in. "Command, this is the Grassy Knoll. We're all fine here, but there was a bit of a brush fire. Over."
"Wraith...are you still able to cover? Over...." Dorian.....sounds shook up.
"Affirmative command. Over and out."
I comm in to Foxhole for a status check.
"-we lost most of our gear here, Foxhole. Yeah, status report."
"Jinettes were pursued by vehicles as predicted. The Wolves made it off the north wall, joined both vehicles, then commandeered them. Jinettes made it completely clear, and Wolves are skirting the desert's edge, and should be in position at the south fence in less than six minutes. Spearhead keyed in for Rainmaker, but they and Command have edited that plan and are commencing surgical strike now. Cora should be isolated on the rooftop within moments. Status check complete, Foxhole, over.
Not so bad. Running to Coto, I help him up and throw his small arm over my shoulder. He clutches me - and his rifle - tightly.
"Alright, let us move out. We need to find a location to support Foxhole. Extraction could be imminent, and we're way behind. Go!"
I smack my hand against the hatch door with frustration and scream. Of course, Cora be so devious. The hatchway could be locked from either inside or out - and not openable from the other side.
I spin and raise one pistol - Jonie and Justice come running into the hallway. Justice is limping. I walk up to him, furious.
"You stupid, lowlife, crack-dribble son of ammhph!"
He thrusts a hand over my mouth and signals with his other.
Soldiers coming at us from behind. I gasp and step back, then think. No - I don't think. No time for any more thinking.
I just let go, and let my instincts do all the thinking. I whisper into my local comm.
"Everyone into that wing there!" And I turn around, unzip my vest, and pull out several bricks of C4 and tape. Slamming them up onto the hatchway one after another, I tape them in place and flick on the detonators. Running out into the hallway, I can hear the bootsteps coming towards us. I pull out my other two bricks and fiddle with the channel on the detonators, then adjust my comm.
"Command, this is Spearhead. Are the goods isolated yet, and are they clear of, oh, five meters from the door? Over!"
"Negative, affirmative, over."
Cursing, I throw the bricks down the hallway, managing to land one just into a side hall of an intersection and the other smack in the middle of the intersection a meter away. I scurry into the other side hall and look at Jonie.
"Cover your ears, y'alls. You may notice an unpleasant sound."
I look to Justice, who is laying out, peering around the corner with a square of polished steel he always carries and has hastily taped to the end of his shotgun. He has his right hand up, which shakes lightly. I look at him for a moment.
He is in a great deal of pain right now...I can see he is bleeding from several partially staunched wounds.
Hmph. Serves him right for being a jackass.
Suddenly he brings his arm down like a guillotine. I press the button.
"Many things happen at once. We are hearing two jeeps coming toward us, circling to go to southern fence. A ball of fire explodes into sky on fortress roof. Whole building seems to shake. The south part of compound explodes in mass of flames, destroying small armory, touching off other explosions. Wraith calls in to us, she is moving team to backing up position to give more fire support. I wonder to myself how anyone is paid to make plans for battles. These plans do not work. A real general, I think now, must be paid to fix plans once they surely break.
The explosions and the fighting, these have mostly stopped. Some soldiers are still left out in compound, they try to make sense of nonsense. Hundreds have died, their house is exploding all around them. On satellite feeds, some have dropped their weapons and are running wild out of breaches in compound walls, fleeing into desert with hands on heads. But many are still thinking, and organizing. One man seems to make orders. The men organize into units and begin to move."
Someone brings me a tin cup filled with water. I drink it slowly, collecting my thoughts and ridding myself of my parched throat. Then I conclude my tale.
Bursting onto the roof first is a Night Raven operative. He goes down in a hail of gunfire, but shoots dead an enemy target in the process. Justice and I jump out and lay flat, acquiring targets and firing. Four still stand. Jonie and both of the others have made it onto the roof, and we have scattered, taken shelter behind vents, whatever we can find.
Agitated as hell and wanting this all to come to a close, I yell in their native tongue.
"Stop this now, we are leaving with Cora! End this now and we guarantee you all amnesty and asylum! You have ten seconds to choose whether to live or die!"
As if in response, I get hurled from my hiding spot as a grenade shreds the ventilation duct cap I am hiding behind.
And I'm on my feet in a flash, cold pain and rage gripping me. I roll right as bullets coming at me slow in flight, take aim, and come out of my roll on one knee with a clear picture.
In my molasses-slow version of reality, their ten seconds was up long ago. Not to mention these brash little teats just blew me up.
I squeeze my triggers, both Crosses in automatic, and fire belches from them. I watch in beautiful slow-motion high definition reality as one's neck squirts blood and another's head seems to find its way into an invisible blender as he takes several in the face. A third soldier is struck through the eye with a throwing knife and the last just sort of dies as two Ravens and a Justice cut him down with combined firepower.
Cora reaches behind his back and pulls out a big pistol. A Desert Eagle. In the interest all the trouble we just went to just to keep him alive, we scatter for cover instead of just making a smoothie out of his commie ass, and I have to flatten to the ground to avoid the unexpected barrage. Seven plus one shots later, another Raven is hit and Justice is struggling to drag him behind a wall. The chopper is spinning up its engines. Everything is a cacophany of sensory overload.
Then all of a sudden, my entire world returns to focus. Jonas pounces on Cora before he can reload, smashes him in the sternum, tears the gun right out of his hand, and spins behind him and stabs him in the side of the neck with something - a large dose of tranquilizer. Not willing to wait on capillary action, Jonie spins the smaller man around and hits him in the side of the head. Really hard.
I run up beside Monk, holding out my gun first. Mayhem joins us, and we take a running leap into the helicopter. I barely get my feet planted before it starts to lift off. Somehow I keep my footing and manage to get to the cockpit. The pilot looks over and up at me - and down the barrel of a shotgun.
Casually, I point back down to the ground.
Minutes later, the team's injuries are being tended to as it slowly lifts off the roof. Cora is bound tightly and strapped in, unconscious. I myself have had worse injuries in the past, but I figure I can get them tended to. A Night Raven is flying the bird, and Mayhem is keeping tabs on the pilot.
I hold my wrist up to my face, wincing as Monk disinfects a shallow glancing shot in my arm.
"Command, this is Spearhead. We have the package. We will deliver it to the DZ directly. Repeat, delivering directly. Spearhead has acquired wings, over."
"Spearhead, this is command." Ah, it's good to hear you, Dorian. "We acknowledge
and are awaiting the package's arrival. What is your-"
I can't hear anything he's saying all of a sudden - the chopper shudders as a flash of light and heat illuminates the night for a split second. The entire world is spinning, and people are holding on for their lives as the helicopter careens toward the ground. We must have lost the tail, RPG or something. Maybe one of cora's men planned to take him out in his chopper. My earpiece is gone, the side of my head feels hot, and I'm in a daze. Then I realize my legs are dangling out of the helicopter, which is peculiar. That wasn't happening a minute ago. I look down - Jonas's legs are wrapped around me. I look up, and he's grabbed onto part of a seat. Seneca grabs onto a handle at the other door of the helicopter - a Raven, whose name escapes me, saved her by grabbing her ankle. I look up and grab onto a similar bar near me, and slowly pull myself into the belly of the wounded bird, and simply hang on as the world spins faster. At least we don't have too far to go to the ground....here's hoping we hit some two foot deep sand....
Finally, everything stops. I leap to my feet, letting Ali go. The wind is quietly whistling through the wreck of our helicopter, and I pause for a minute to breathe deeply and recenter myself. As my thoughts come into focus, I first find Sen - she is fine, standing up slowly. Ali, he is bleeding from the side of his face, but looks lucid. Then I take account of our team - everyone is alive, but Operative Pihalco was thrown on impact and is holding his leg. Clearly broken. Nato was shot several times taking the roof and is breathing shallowly, in critical condition. Fortunately for him, we strapped him down before taking off. Our third operative walks gingerly from the cockpit.
And I can hear shouting. I signal to Seneca and Ali and begin unstrapping Operative Nato's makeshift gurney.
Alanzo Cora is unconscious still. I'm tempted to take him out, here and now, so he's not a burden to the team. Looking away, I finish preparing Nato for travel. I hear Seneca's voice in my ear.
"Spearhead to Foxhole and Knoll. We are earthbound, no team casualties, and the goods are intact. We are going to need fire support. Evacuating towards Foxhole at our best possible speed. Foxhole, Knoll, please acknowledge!"
"Grassy Knoll acknowledges, over."
"Affirmative! Spearhead over and out!"
Within moments, we are out of the chopper, running slowly. I've got Cora - he's really rather light - thrown across my shoulders and I'm dragging the gurney. It's not that bad, even though it's hard to keep my breathing under control with the windy night whipping up sand. Pihalco is making the best time he can leaning on his comrade and jumping on his one good leg. Seneca and Alison are watching behind us. Then we start to hear the shouts of men, gradually moving in our direction. I do not know how they are pursuing us in the night, or even why, but they are definitely more mobile than we are.
"We are creeping across the sand, four of us. Somewhere behind, Wraith and other snipers have found a place to shoot from. Then shooting starts - I duck without thinking. But it is still far away. Spearhead team is under attack.
I hold up machine gun, looking into darkness. I see only tiny flashes of light, maybe a half kilometer away still. Without any spoken words, our team is moving faster now. Then, three seperate gunshots come from behind us. Other guns stop for a few seconds, I can hear yelling now. And with goggles on, I think I see our team coming straight to us in darkness.
Far too soon, gunshots are starting again. Raising machine gun to my shoulder, I make guess at wind and distance and pull my trigger, shooting maybe forty shots in direction of enemy. Again their guns stop. We drop to our knees and aim, waiting. Then people start to talk in ear, breaking radio silence.
"This is command. Scans are in, the enemy is spreading out. They are trying to outflank Spearhead. Rainmaker is going to try to lend some support."
Gunfire begins again, more fierce than before. We start firing, then lay flat as other shots come at us. Wraith's team shoots again, and I see a small number of guns respond from Mayhem's team. The enemy, they are closing in.
Finally, Operative Monk and Night Ravens pass by us. Several are hurt. I do not see Operative Justice or Operative Mayhem - they must be the ones fighting. I get up slow to a crouch and reload my gun, preparing to give support fire. And then I see them, two bodies running towards us, and they are firing behind them. The angry shouts of enemies are behind them, and bullets fly past us without warning.
"Foxhole, fall back! I repeat, fall back!" It is the voice of the archangel. In the dark I can see the crosses of burning fire exploding from her guns. I dive into the sand again as I feel gunfire almost hit me. Someone grabs me and pulls me toward the forest, and I slowly stand up. I hear the voice in my ear once more.
"Spearhead to Command, get the rain falling now! We are outgunned and outmaneuvered! All of our personell are clear of the enemy! Light them-"
Her voice stop, just as I see her fall to ground. Operative Justice, he stops nearby me, turns, and is spun down to ground as bullets hit him. Someone next to me grabs him.
"Catan! Let's go!"
Guns fire all around me, bullets, and a grenade explodes somewhere. I look around. And then I run.
I run straight at enemy. I run harder and faster than I ever run in entire life. I hold up my machine gun and fire like crazy man. Like the jackrabbit, I change my direction as I run, but I am running still towards same place as before.
I get to her - she lies on the ground, holding a hand - still with her gun - over her stomach. The archangel turns toward me, pointing the gun my way. I dive into the sand beside the archangel, Operative Mayhem.
"Come, we must go now."
I pick her up. She is lighter than I think she will be, for one so mighty. With my left arm, I hold her against to my body and run as fast as I can. More voices are shouting, they are closing in. I hear the engine of a car - soon they will find us. Lights from headlamps, they cross over us as I run on, and then back again. I hold up machine gun, fire blindly out behind me. One light goes out, but they keep coming, and bullets start singing again as they go past. Then I feel the burning again, in my right shoulder, and drop my gun. Still I run on, but I know that it is all over.
And then whole world behind me, is blaze of light and noise and heat. Yells become screams, and soon the voices are farther away. But I do not stop. I never stop running until I see Operative Monk and Commander Behar running to me. Finally my feet refuse to work any more. I stumble, turn my body and fall into the sandy dirt, near the edge of jungle, still holding onto Mayhem. My right shoulder is on fire as I fall on it and I am gasping, the world is blurring, out of focus. Then I hear her voice, quiet, but not in microphone in my ear - I lose that long ago.
"Big guy, that was the dumbest thing I've ever seen anyone do." Her arm, which is around my neck holding on, squeezes me tighter, and she whisper into my ear.
"............and that is the ending to my story. We go back to my village, but things, they are different there for me. I have seen war - real war. It is after that that I decide to leave the village, go with the Americans. I can use the money to make lives better for people in my village and country."
I nod to myself, looking at small group who has listened to my tale. I could do this for a living.
"With Warlord alive in custody, the government quickly makes others surrender. Those who do not fight each other, and are easily beaten. The war, it come to and end in weeks. All credit goes to 'Army special forces', not to the Americans or Night Ravens. They do not exist, after all.
Coto, he stays. He is changed like me, but remains to watch over his village. The Russian, he leaves country with us, and goes to work for Dorian Pearson. And now, my travels, they have led me here."
Here. I look down at shackles, holding my legs. This man, Ahman, he has treated me well here. But others, they walk away. Ahman looks at me sadly. He is dark man, blackest man I have ever seen. He is pirate like the other men here, but different.
"It does make me sad that your story ends here, my large friend." He pats me on arm again. I shake my head.
"It is okay, every story must have a last page." I look up. Tonight is full moon. I smile and look at Ahman.
"What time is it?" He checks watch - it is one minute until midnight.
"Do not worry, Ahman. My story, it does not end here. You do listen to my story, yes?"
He nods, puzzled.
"Good. Then perhaps you will understand advice I am about to give you."
I lean over, place a large hand on the man's shoulder. He is not armed with a gun, but he is not scared of me. Only confused. With large smile on my face, I whisper quietly to him.
I flatten myself out on the ground. A shack nearby, without warning, explodes into fireball in the night. Ahman lies flat next to me, covering head with wooden dinner plate.
For minutes, sounds of automatic rifles, bombs, and shotguns continue. Men die, screaming. I lay still. Finally, everything stops, except occasional gunshot. Bootsteps approach us, four figures in black enter pavilion I am waiting in, and I sit up. I realize my hair is a mess, I am dirty, clothes are torn. I stand slowly, signalling that Ahman is not armed. He is lucky he is only a cook.
Mayhem removes her helmet, smiles at me.
"Hey there, Moose. I see you got our message. Sorry it took a week." She kneels down beside me. Soon my legs are free. I look at the Commander.
"Wraith, this man is Ahman. He is cook in camp here, he treats me well. He is not fighter, and I think maybe he has good information." She nods, speaks to her microphone.
"DZ is clear. Let's get out of here."
Mayhem wraps her arm around mine and pulls me down. She whispers in my ear.
"We've got a lot of work to do. Someone sold us out."
I look at her seriously, nod. Soon we are on board helicopter. Someone within U.N. betrayed us.
They should have done better job.
Current Time: Wed Dec 12 21:48:45 EET 2018
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