Delta Force had moved into position. All the Nic perimeter elements were dead. Quietly dispatched. The dark camp lay ahead. Each man had a job to do. Each knew their role and their team mates roles.
The rehearsals had been exhausting as they were on a short window of opportunity. The Red Roof Inn was a fond memory. All of a sudden, gear selection second guessing at the warehouse came to the forefront. No one one could worry about that now, no one did.
The Intel appeared to be exact, based on what the Operator could see. Nice for once.
The slender sniper nicknamed Cracker…..slowly slid his long barrel out through the lush fronds . He had his shot lined up, he was very close, he waited to pull the trigger, he perspired in the sticky pre dawn heat.
LNL, Act of Valour 1985….Its not what you think.
Earlier that day;
“This is USS Inchon, Roger that. We are Oscar Mike for Mission Atlantis. Over and out” the Captain of the Inchon looked over at the impassive face of Captain Jones, as he placed his headset on the map deck ” Jones is not your real name I take it?” “No sir.” said the jungle camo faced officer.
” Good luck regardless” Said the Capt’n of the USS Inchon. “Something tells me you will need it. Your gear and team are all at the ready station. Code for extract is…” “Nautilis” Interrupted ‘Jones’, “see you before lunch.”
They landed far enough out in a steep valley at 3am, that no alarms would be raised. The march out of the valley would be the easiest part of their day.
“WTH are we rescuing paranormal cultural anthropologist for Cappy?” Said Hudson as he crept along thru the jungle with Jones and the team ” Bud I dont ask questions, they are US citizens first, and wasters of tax dollars 2nd, now STFU and focus.” Said Captain ‘Jones’. Hudson muttered “my ass is paranormal”.
Each man lined up his shot and took it, as the hour rolled over. Jones and the squads rushed towards the first building whilst Hudson angled away to cover their flank. Down the trail the sniper had shot 2 or 3 of the Nics, and the SAW gunner was suppressing the rest. Heavy fire was exchanged.
They stormed in, flash bangs thru window apertures, looking for VIPS, selecting targets and shooting anything with a gun. Hostages typically cowered during operations like these, none were ever the heroic type. It made target selection that much easier.
Jones, and his men made short work of the enemy in the huts. No wounded.
In the corner in a wooden cage, the two VIPS were manacled together. Both had been beaten. But not too badly. “Cutters” Said Jones.
Suddenly fire erupted outside. He turned to address his team “You two shield them, he said pointing to two team members “the rest of you lets finish this.”
Approximately 15 Nics were carefully approaching the buildings, they now rushed in.
Several were dropped on the close, things quickly degenerated into an actual Melee, knives, pistols, weapon butts were all used savagely. The NICs surprised the Delta Force team members with their ferocity. DF have not been involved in the main fight for the homeland soil as World War III boiled over to sovereign US soil.
They were learning first hand that the Nics were no ordinary militia force. They fought hard, and pretty smart. Better than the Salvadorians Jones had encountered in the 70’s.
Jones saw a teammate go down as he drove his blade into the face of a combatant. His heart darkened. These bastards better be worth it he thought. He booted his knife free and and shot the man who was pummeling the head of his team mate with the stock of an AK-47. Both bodies were now lifeless.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw the beret of DF. Hudson! He came in behind the Nics, capped two in the back of the head at close range and knifed another before they knew what hit them.
That man has timing I’ll give him that. Thought Jones.
Outside the rest of the team cleared the other huts. They had lost 3 of their own.
“Atlantis, we have our fish send the Nautilus”….said the Operator. He looked at Jones.
“Nautilius …really? Who designates these mission names.” Jones shrugged his shoulders and said ” Gentlemen – lets hit the extract with the package. We need to bring our brothers too. Hustle”.
He knelt by each one. closed their long staring eyes. He had lost more men than he wanted. It was always that way. One was too many. He stared hard at their faces burning an image into his mind. Promising to never forget. Promising to lead better for those that live on the next mission.
The LZ was quiet. It was all very quiet. They first heard the hum of the Little Bird. It buzzed by in the early morning sun. Taking up an overwatch position atop the hill. Jones and his men hunkered down with the VIPS on the reverse slope. They had the angles covered and they waited for the transports.
In the distance the unmistakable sound of pickup trucks. They came barreling out of the jungle. Jones ran to the crest of the hill to check it out.
“Shit”. He said. Rockets flared, the chain gun whirred. It was over before it began. One pickup slewed sideways movie style avoiding rocket fire. Jones was non plussed. He watch as men ran in the OPEN towards them. He looked back at the VIPS. Who the fuck are you people? He thought.
“Team Alpha, interdict that truck, take out the leadership Cracker” he said into his comms.
“I’m taking the shot Jonesy, relax” The sniper murmured. The crack of the TAC 338 echoed.
” You missed….again” Was all Jones said. The Nics hit the dirt, looking for cover and fired blindly. A wobbly RPG round fell into the trees a 100 yards from the Huey loaded with its package as it left the now Hot LZ. The Nemo family of scientists were now safe.
Mission accomplished. The Little Bird made short work of the advancing Nics in the open, the second Huey was loaded with wounded and dead. Cracker boarded the Bird, looking for the RPG “hero” as they were now calling him. Thru the scope he could be seen slumped against the rear wheel. Bleeding out. The rest of the men loaded up on the remaining Huey.
Cracker was on point in the Little Bird. He scanned the lush edge of the Jungle.
Was that a flash of movement? He focused more intently.
What moves that fast he wondered? Dark, powerful larger than a bear….But there are no bears in Central America he thought….Perched on the edge of the running board, skimming the tree tops the sniper could almost reach out and touch the trees with a pointed boot. Nosing down the tail coming up they started to accelerate away. The Huey trailed away behind and to the right.
Jones sighed. Another mission down. More lost men than he had a heart to admit. He looked at the other chopper as it too put its nose down to head back to the USS Inchon, where hot chow and a shower…”What the Hell ” he shouted, automatically leaning and pointing as he watched the little chopper ahead lurch as if struck a massive blow! He saw the sniper entwined with large dark hairy looking mass plummet towards the trees, the chopper spun crazily.
Exploding in a ball of flame, oil, munitions and flesh consumed. “evasive, evasive, hold on” came over his head set. Their Huey banked hard and up, and away. Jones craned his neck for a sighting of his man. “We need to go back for Cracker” Jones said. “That is a negative Captain, We are mission override from the Pentagon. Stand down is the order.”
Madness he thought. Madness. The world has gone mad. I’m going mad. What did I just see? Was all Jones could think. What the hell fell into the trees with Cracker?
Maybe the rumors are true? This was more than another “just another war” he thought.
His eyes burned, he closed them and let the choppers thumping vibe rock him to sleep. Too much for now, with adrenaline pumping through his veins. So many men lost….
The last 5 months had seen the world change, alliances change, nukes used. It was too much. He had lost too much, killed too much and watch men and family die. Now this?