Today's troops are tomorrow's veterans, a relative story.In no way is this meant to offend anyone. Thanks.
Major Fiske knew something was developing. He just had no idea what. The town they left hours ago, a desert town that was an enigma, and he was none too sure about his immediate vicinity. He would not bother the specialist, or the interupter for reports. Their night vision goggles monitored only one location focused on, at a time; that made 'easy' for short gaps of failure. He should have had of one of the two troopers give up their helmet. Rank has its privilege. 'Why didn't I come prepared for anything? You know better.'
"Sir! We've got some armored trucks coming our way," shouted the female specialist facing the road.
The Major didn't like the looks of the four, heavily armored trucks. On their tops were fifty caliber machine guns. They were stranded. "Specialist Brogue, contact home base. Ask if they have arranged any pick up for us. Tell them of the situation. Use code. Hurry."
The major kept his eyes on the approaching trucks. Strange how the desert always seemed to have a reflection from the clouds, or surrounding sand dunes. Just enough light to see them. His ears rang with the 'track-sounds' of something far worse than originally, spotted. "Arms at the ready. Cock, lock and aim!" he shouted, "Keep your eyes peeled. Someone gave them our location. This is a great time to sneak up behind us. We only see the four. We do not know how many are on foot." There were only four of them, him, Captain Halter, an Arabic speaking interupter, Specialist Elfaumend, and the already injured, only woman on this venture, Specialist Brogue.
"Major, the home base is not answering, sir," the female specialist shouted. "All I heard was something about a burning building, explosions, and someone shouting 'down the hole.' In between, a Lieutenant Jackson says they've been trying to rustle up transport, but he doesn't know if the civilians have done it. He's checking, but the convoy is a bit hard to organize, as they are under attack."
"Tell me about it," the major growled. Then had to suppress a laugh. This damn, desert hell-hole, its one hundred and thirty-degree temperature drops, and all of their religious problems over land; they were going to be the death of them all. He had never dreamed of dying out in the middle of anywhere. Hell of a way to prove that they hated Americans! Bring it on, I'm ready.
Time to get cranking. "Troops, we got an unknown situation developing here. Get yourself to cover. One shot, one kill. Do not fire unless fired upon. Our ammunition is very limited." His eyes roved the sand dunes, and a dirt road they drove off, then beyond. "Fire plans for the time being is to cover all three hundred and sixty degrees of our perimeter. There are four of us. Specialist Brogue, take the west-end of our vehicle. "
"Yes,sir." The specialist got busy, locking, loading, double-checking aim, covering herself for a battle. Training displayed itself, so did fear.
The Major didn't quite know what to make of their situation. Rubbing his chin in thought, he turned to face the in coming trucks. By all that was intelligent and holy, he ought to be finding cover. But that would be surrendering the initiative to whomever these guys were. He was no coward, not to these 'sand jockeys.' They could drive all the way up to their position, fire upon their ready, before anyone knew what hand they dealt. No, he would walk right up to them, pistol in the holster, loaded and ready, hand on its grip, and find out just what they had in mind. "We will soon see what their intentions are,' he said, stopping in the center of the dirt road, looking quite insane to his troops.
The lead, armored truck halted a few feet from him. The driver poked his head out. "What is going on here?" His accent heavily inlaid with Arabic charm, and eyes filled with curiosity. They strayed to his troop's perimeter.
"We had trouble."
"We?" Again, the driver's head turned to view the broken down hummer.
"Yes . . . " The Major broke off, wondering if it were entirely wise to endanger his troops, but no one was firing.
The driver pulled himself back inside of the armored vehicle, speaking in Arabic. Before this situation got out of hand, "Things look lively back near the town, what's going on?"he chatted. All the equipment, all of the 'techno' stuff, and still it came down to an army Major hanging it all on the line. The major walked along the side of the truck, then climbed up on the truck's step and peered into the cabin. Two guys sat there. At their feet lay two assault riffles. The driver grinned at him. The passenger went for his.
Major Fiske backed right off the step. Something went wrong with his balance. As he hit the ground, the back of the armored truck opened. More gun barrels stared him in the face. His knees had buckled without even a suggestion from his brain, and now his butt lay sinking in the sand. As he received thought, recovering from the fall, he shouted, "Hostiles!" Quickly he rolled himself under the truck and went for his pistol.
Right under an old-fashion hydrogen/oxygen fuel cell. Even as his body screamed at the new torture, his brain began shouting— explosives! 'Oh, hell no!'
Bullets began whizzing above him, both incoming and outgoing, he rolled himself right out from under the truck. Pistol out, he sent one round through the closest door. That ended the passenger's shooting. He remained the only gun pointed out this side. 'Got to help my troops!'
His knees water, Major Fiske used his right hand to pull himself up. The driver was barking orders even as he leveled his gun in hummers' direction. The major yanked the door open. As gun and passenger fell out, he fired two rounds at the driver's skull. Fear. His knees refused to support his weight, so the major dove into the bloodied seat and grabbed the release for the parking brake. As incoming rounds from his 'friendly' troops basically bounced off the armored truck, ripped holes in some gunners from the other trucks and this one, the entire rig broke free. That brought a few screams from the gunners standing behind the armored truck.
While the truck's rollback spoiled their shooting and aim, Major Fiske emptied his pistol through the driver's side window, taking down hostiles who were trying to get back to shooting at his troops. When the automatic closed open, the major grabbed for drivers' assault riffle. Numb, dead fingers didn't want to let go. 'You don't need this in hell, ' but the Major became more persistent. Not much more, but quite enough to pry it free.
Snatching a spare magazine, Major Fiske rolled out of the truck's cab and lurched and flopped his way to the rear, hearing a lot of rounds coming from overhead. Usually he was tough on troops who shot high. Today, he prayed they would.
The driver and the passenger from the next truck were just getting their weapons out. He didn't try to aim, but walked a burst across the hood and through the windshield. They died not even knowing what hit them, having never expected a frontal attack.
Adrenaline finally cut in. Leaping onto the front bumper of the second truck, Major Fiske sent a long blast through the cab's rear window and into the gunners in the back. He was changing out the magazine when he heard a click behind him.
One gunner had stayed low, been missed, and now had a line on the major's wide=open back as he pulled back arming the handle. "Dumb, devil American," he grinned.
And dropped forward his weapon, dead from the bullet between his eyes.
"Thought you might need some help sir," Specialist Brogue gasped as she bounced off the fender of the rear truck. Her dash in had not spoiled her aim. Thank God for small miracles! He knew he should be pissed, as women are not allowed this close to combat, even as an 11 bravo by trade. Instead, the Major tumbled off the bumper, his knees no longer caring how much adrenaline was pumping through his bloodstream. Specialist Brogue caught him as he went down.
From the perimeter, Captain Halter shouted," Okay, people, you can keep dying, or you can drop your weapons now and live. Your call, but until we hear something, we're going to keep firing upon you. Do you understand?"
Whatever surprise the trucks might have once has been long gone. Their advantage slipping away, and they knew it, as well as these Americans. The hostile fire was growing intense, and from the holes appearing in the windows, dirt and some of the truck angles, the Major's troops got some serious aimed rounds in. In the rear of the fourth truck, there was another scream, followed by, "We surrender American dogs, we surrender. Stop shooting. "
"Cease fire," the Major croaked. The only one who could speak fluid Arabic, Specialist Elfaumend stepped from the perimeter, speaking the terms of being an American hostage loud enough for most to hear within a good earshot. He also instructed them as the Major instructed him, to "Come out slow and with your hands above your head. One at a time."
Four against many, what are the odds of that? And now they had to care for prisoners. His troops kept their eyes peeled and riffle trained on the hostile. When all exposed themselves as ordered, the two specialists went about frisking then down, making sure someone hadn't forgotten to mention a concealed knife, pistol or grenade. Everything went according to army-prisoner protocol.
A bleeping noise. Crackle-fizzle. Specialist Brogue grabbed the radio on her web belt. "Ariel Seven to home base."
"Home base to Ariel Seven, we have just come back up. Unable to send transport, "static interrupted any more of the messages. Specialist Brogue cursed, trying her best to get the radio to pick up a half-decent signal.
"Check these trucks for weapons, then have the prisoners toss off any explosive devices, gently. Let's get up and moved into the box as soon as possible. There may be more of them."
Specialist Brogue extended the radio's antenna.
"It will give away our position," Captain Halter warned, moving in close so the prisoners would not be able to hear.
"Settle down kiddies, come home," he said into the radio, hoping the signal received. "Don't play with fire, or you may get bit. Settle down into the sand, and speak no more until I get home. Sssssh" He snatched the radio from Specialist Brogue's hands, then snapped the antenna off and tossed it down into the sand.
"They want us to cry home and never come back. Never to cause them trouble again, and they never thank those who help them. We must make clear that their daydreams and illusions will not stand. We are not their enemy." Pulling out his personal mapping generator, he plugged it into the truck's display casing. A flashing light appeared, showing them which direction to go. "We must follow that beckon. Brogue you watch the back with Elfaumend, Major, Sir, no offense, but you're not driving again."
Elfaumend continued to verbally press the prisoners, his ability to speak what they could, his heritage. They all looked at him as if he were a filthy traitor. Remaining silent, expect for a few snide comments about lawyers and how screwed they four were when they got into an American prison camp. Elfaumend refused to go silent, keeping up what his orders had been.
Hours later, they arrived in a perimeter of troops known as a 'box' or 'the box.' Once the four of them had their prisoner's locked up, they could finally relax. Wounds were patched up, dehydration eliminated and food settled into their gullets. Their relaxation would be brief, and their explanations would begin.
Major Fiske and Captain Halter instructed the two lower ranked troops to keep their silence. They would follow orders, like they always did. They would tell their families 'hummer accidents' and always be haunted with the truth. Lawyers would dance upon their lives, and court marital their thanks. Years of prescribed sleeping pills and being told that they are crap . . . Or will it end like this?