Chapter 1: Moving Out
Atticus smiled; after three months of Green Beret training, he was finally going in. Looking around at his squad, he remembered his days at West Point, and how he had graduated as a Captain, ready for combat, only to be offered an unresistable offer to become a Green Beret.
Checking his pack, he found six loaded clips for his M-16 rifle, four grenades, one week worth of rations, plenty of water and his radio. Zipping up his pack, he looked at his squad. Seated inside the belly of a large airplane, all fifteen Green Berets look exceedingly nervous. Atticus pulled out his map and examined the carefully planned mission. First, they were to land and regroup. Once that was done they were to make their way towards a terrorist training facility which they had to locate and destroy. It sounded easier than it was. Due to heavy anti-aircraft weapons all around the terrorist training facility, they would have to be dropped thirty miles away, and make their way there on foot. They would be struggling through extremely rocky valleys and startlingly high mountains. Upon arrival, they would have to lay low until the perfect moment. They could only call in air support twice, as the regulations from headquarters allowed.
Atticus looked at his watch. Two minutes to drop. His heart was pounding and he lowered his Dark Knight visor. It allowed him to see in the dark; he would need it, as it was pitch black outside. One minute to drop. Looking nervously around him, he observed his men lowering their visors and tightening any straps in sight. Thirty seconds to drop. Atticus swallowed. His eyes flicked from the drop light to his watch. Fifteen seconds, the drop light turned red, and all of the men jumped to their feet. Ten seconds, Atticus’ legs were stiff, after this drop, there was no turning back. Five seconds, Atticus’ hands were so sweaty he could feel them through his gloves. The light turned green. Snapping into action, Atticus pulled back the door and patted his men’s backs as they jumped out. As commanding officer, he was last. Turning, he saluted the pilot, and jumped.
Hurtling through the air, Atticus saw some of his men’s parachutes opening below him. He pulled his string, and felt a brutal jerk as his parachute opened. Sighing to himself, he whispered, ‘this is it.’
Chapter 2: Disaster
Atticus was only peacefully floating through the air for a moment. Seconds after he pulled his string, the rattling of machine guns broke out from the ground. He could see that they were about fifty yards away from his landing point. Bullets whistled by him and he uncomfortably pulled out his knife, ready to cut his lines as soon as he hit the ground. Some of the first men out of the plane had already reached the ground and firing heavily at their unseen assailants. Atticus was five feet from the ground when he cut his cord. Feeling Earth beneath his feet, he yanked his M-16 out of it’s’ case. Leaving his pack on the floor but stuffing a few clips of ammo into his vest, he rushed to his men. He smacked their guns in silence to tell them to stop firing. If they ran out of ammo early, it could mean disaster for the entire operation. All of his men had now landed, but bullets were slicing through the air. They could not coordinate squads or radio with such fire. Furious, Atticus grabbed three of his men and ordered them to follow him. He moved off into the night with them behind him. He knew that he had to rid his squad of these assailants or it would spell doom. Pulling the pin on one of his grenades, he hurled it right into midst of the blazing weapons.
There was a tremendous explosion, followed by screams. Looking at where he had thrown the grenade, he saw several bushes on fire all around it. Clearly the blast had frightened the terrorists, for they had fled into the night.
Grunting, he returned to his squad. One man had been seriously hit, and two others had been wounded lightly.
“This is terrible,” he said to his second in command, Lieutenant Staley, “we can’t trust this man to move thirty miles!”
Lieutenant Staley replied, “No… however, if we leave two men with him they can carry him to one of the mountains and radio for a helicopter.”
“I was thinking that myself, but that means we lose three men. I think the other two wounded might as well board the copter as well, because we can’t afford delay. That’s even worse because we lose five men.”
“All the same, it’s our only option,” Lieutenant Staley frowned.
After setting up radio contact with everyone in the squad, the group transported the wounded about a mile, and set up a temporary camp. They could not stay in the same place, as the terrorists would undoubtedly return, with reinforcements. The next day, they would send off the wounded with their two man escort. It was horrible for Atticus, having to chose two escorts for the wounded; men who had been as eager as he was to have their first mission. It was truly a disaster, he thought, ‘Now the terrorists know we are here, so we have to stay concealed as well as possible. Assuredly they will double the guard on the training facility as well, because they know we intend to destroy it.’
Frowning, Atticus reflected that this had not been the ideal start for his first mission.
Chapter 3: And So It Began
By 3:30 A.M. all the Green Berets were up and ready. Atticus was instructing the two escorts and the two able wounded men which peak they were to reach. He would call the chopper by 4:00, and it would arrive by 6:00 at the peak, when the sun was just rising.
Atticus radioed to headquarters, “Headquarters, this is Beta 4 Squadron we are calling to request a chopper to pull five men out of coordinates 2.35, 2.36, 2.34, 2.37.”
Headquarters replied, “Five wounded men already? Surely you can’t be serious.”
“I’m dead serious, and don’t call me Shirley.”
The headquarters radioman smiled at the joke and replied, “But seriously, you have five wounded already?”
“Yes sir, well, two are escorts to make sure the three get to their pick up point. Can you get a chopper there by 6:00 a.m.?”
“Yes, it will be there.”
“My men will have a big red flag.”
Atticus turned to the five of disappointed Green Berets, wounded and unwounded. “Alright men, keep a bright eye! You five will live to at least your thirties now!” The five men smiled. “You know your instructions,” he said, “Be careful, and be sure to be flying that red flag!”
Atticus then turned to his able-bodied men, all a little disgruntled at the departure of five of their squad.
“Ok fellas, let’s get those terrorists back for wounding our guys!”
The men cheered as quietly as possible, so as to avoid detection, and rose to their feet, ready to march. Taking the lead, Atticus marched along the right side of the dark valley, looking at his map occasionally. No lights were shown from the men, and he could only see his men by using his Dark Knight visor, which all of them had equipped. Complete silence was maintained, and they tramped through the valley quickly.
Chapter 4: Behind Enemy Lines
Abdullah was a typical truck driver of northern Afghanistan. He was one of those men who just minded his own business and said: “No problem,” whenever asked to do something, even though he had no intention of doing it. Today he was speeding along his typical route, a pathetic road that went from Kabul to Abu-Igad, a small village that relied on his truck’s cargo. Abu Igad also happened to be the village nearest to the Terrorist Training Facility, and most of the trainees came from that village.
As he drove along the dusty road, a man emerged from the mounds of rocks on either side of it, and held up his hand. Abdullah stopped the truck, because the man had a gun. The man walked around to the driver’s side of the truck, and then suddenly pulled Abdullah out and onto the ground.
Abdullah struggled, but it was in vain, the man’s iron grip soon had his hands behind his back. At this point, several other men walked out onto the road. They spoke in English.
“What should we do with him now Atticus? If we keep him with us as a prisoner he could jeopardize our cover at Abu Igad.”
“True, but I don’t want to kill him for no reason.”
“Leaving him here would be like killing him. No water, miles from refuge.”
“Well we need his truck. Let’s tie him up and toss him behind some supplies. We’ll keep him bound and gagged until the end of mission.”
Then the men piled up in the covered back of the truck, and Atticus took the wheel. They were soon driving along the dusty road, nearing Abu Igad by the minute.
Chapter 5: Abu Igad
As the Green Berets drove into Abu Igad in their hijacked truck, it seemed deserted. Sand swirled around in the empty roads, and shuddered houses baked under the heat. Then, suddenly, someone screamed in Arabic. Instants later the road was filled with people who swarmed out of the houses. They were clearly expecting their shipment of supplies.
“This is bad,” Atticus cursed, “We have no idea where to go, eight guys in the back, and a hostage truck driver. Those people aren’t going to miss that. It’s probably first come first serve for the supplies.”
Lt. Staley frowned, “I know. We’re gonna have to fake an accident and crash into that warehouse. In the confusion, we’ll take the guys and the hostage out. Hopefully no one notices.” “I’ll be the truck driver, because I speak Arabic, so I’ll stay with the wreck until I can get away unnoticed. Thank goodness for this brown pigment paint we all have on, they’d suspect us in a minute.”
Atticus looked up, the warehouse was coming. Staley banged on the window in the cab of the truck, signifying for the men to be ready to move. Suddenly Atticus swerved dangerous to the right, shaved the fence off a large pen of goats, who proceeded to stream out onto the road, and then crashed deeply into the warehouse. Instantly, he jumped out, Staley pretended to be slouched on the wheel, and the troops dashed out of the truck, and into the warehouse, which was fortunately deserted. Atticus and the men ran to the far end of the structure, and kicked through a door. After dashing through a few deserted alleyways, they were at the edge of town. Hurriedly, they found cover behind rocks and trees, and waited for Staley, hoping he would see the door, and anticipate their location.
As Arab villagers rushed to survey the damage caused by the crash, Staley stumbled out of the truck’s cab and cried in Arabic, “It’s ok, God willing; who wants some camel milk!”
Staley then proceeded to jump into the truck and hand out free supplies, under the pretence of repaying the town for the damage caused by the crash. This soon created a frenzy, with more and more villagers simply jumping into the truck and taking handfuls of food. Staley, seeing that he could slip away unnoticed, did so as quietly as possible. He saw the door, and then made it to the end of town. Right as he was about to make it to cover, there was a shout from his left. A patrol of fighters were making their way towards him. Staley stood, one hand in his disguise, fingering the desert eagle he had there. It was equipped with a silencer, and he knew he could probably take out four of the eight patrol members before being stopped. Unfortunately, stopped meant killed, and he didn’t want that to happen, so he waited, hoping they would not give him trouble.
About fifty yards away, Atticus was watching Staley. He and his men all had their silenced weapons aimed at the Taliban fighters, and when they’ve got a shot, Green Berets don’t miss. Staley stood in the road, his feet rooted in place. The insurgents came up to him, and began asking questions, none of which he could hear. Suddenly, one ripped off Staley’s scarf, revealing his face. He could hear them shout “Ah-ha! American!” He knew Staley would start shooting, and that would mean death, so, he fired his weapon. After his men heard Atticus fire, they all fired. Instants later, Staley had his gun out, but was surrounded by wounded or dead men, lying prone on the floor. He swung around, and saw Atticus gesticulating for him to hide the bodies. This Staley did, placing them under a sandy hill, and then collapsing rocks and sand over them. He then ran up into the trees, and met Atticus and the rest of the troop.
“That was close,” was all he said.
Chapter 6: Search And Destroy
After the close call with the Taliban fighters, the Green Berets, still carrying their truck driver, made off higher into the mountains, providing themselves a good view of the entire town, and the small pathway that led to the cave entrance of the terrorist training facility. Laying out some satellite images, Atticus pointed to the cave entrance, “That’s what we know. We’ve got a cave.”
Staley pointed to small path that led along the mountain and into the cave entrance, “Here’s an alternate path… we should probably use that if we intend to go in.”
“Right, I’m taking two men with me to go survey the cave, maybe go in it if there’s no guard. We’ll have radio contact with camp the whole time. Anyone?”
Two men, Corporal Corse and Sergeant Moore raised their hands.
“Alright, lets go, hopefully we can stay along the ridge here as long as possible, then climb directly down onto that path.”
The men nodded affirmatives, and they moved silently out. As the moved along the ridge, Atticus checked back with Staley and the others, who were monitoring their progress with binoculars. There was no movement near them or near the cave reported. After about an hour concealed movement through the sun, they arrived directly above the path. Atticus radioed to Staley, who informed them that the way was clear, no insurgents in sight. Atticus nimbly climbed down the slope, and upon finding footing at the path, walked silently towards the cave entrance, followed by his two men. He knew that they were about 10,000 feet away from support, but he knew that there were at least three snipers with the Green Berets who assuredly had their sights trained on the cave entrance. If there was an emergency, they would provide some support. Atticus told Corporal Corse to stay low and provide cover with his M-4 if there was a confrontation at the entrance. However, Atticus and Moore made it to the entrance without any problems. After signaling for Corse to move up, Atticus put on his Dark Knights like sunglasses, and peeked into the cave. There was no sign of life or movement. Flicking the control on his Steyr AEG to full auto, he moved into the cave, followed by Moore and Corse. About 50 feet down the tunnel, they were astonished to find a huge stockpile of C4, grenades, bombs, and ammunition, a big dump of it. Atticus smiled, ‘Idiots,’ he thought, ‘They think that when soldiers move out, they’ll just take some ammo or grenades as supplies, they don’t realize that I can blow that up and take out their main entrance in a matter of seconds.’
Moving past that, they came onto a large open space, where, sitting in groups, were several insurgents. They sat together, eating, sleeping, and talking, completely oblivious to the three Americans observing them from the shadows. Atticus noticed another, larger, tunnel leading away from that open space, and saw another open space behind it, where it appeared that some men were training. ‘So this is it,’ he thought. ‘These two little caves are the source of some of the craziest terrorists around.’
He knew there were probably a few other caves in the network, maybe a food room, a sleeping room, and a prayer room, but he realized that he and his men might have been overqualified for this job. Silently, standing, Atticus backed slowly away from the opening, turned, and walked towards the cave exit. Suddenly, there was a radio call, Staley was screaming at him on the other line.
“There’s about twenty armed men moving up the main path! They’re thirty feet away! Do you copy?”Atticus suddenly realized the huge danger that he and his two men were in. It was a straight tunnel, no crannies or side alleys to hide in. The only cover possible was the pile of munitions. Desperately, he looked around, and he realized that every second he delayed; the noose was tightening around his neck.
Chapter 7: Escape
Staley looked through his binoculars. The group of insurgents was 20 feet away from the cave entrance now, there was no way that Atticus could escape the tunnel without being seen. He toyed with the notion of using his snipers, but that would only make the group more alert if some of the shots missed. They were 10,000 feet away, after all. Staley looked up, in the vain hope that there was a strike plane somewhere in the sky. He saw nothing.
Atticus was furiously looking around. Could he pretend to be a terrorist and greet them at the entry, as if he was a guard? No, he couldn’t speak their language. He thought about going back and attempting to blend into the crowd in the first opening, but he realized that the insurgents there would probably greet him as he emerged from the darker tunnel. It appeared that his only option was to fight his way out, but that would alert the terrorists and jeopardize the mission. Finally, he resolved to attempt to pass himself off as one of them and greet the patrol at the entrance. However, as he told Moore and Corse, they were to be walking hurriedly towards the exit, as if they had orders, possibly giving the incoming patrol the message that they did not want to stop and have a chat. Atticus breathed deeply; the patrol was probably ten feet from the entrance now. Five seconds later, he began walking towards the exit. He could see the patrol silhouetted against the cave entryway, and he could hear them talking. They were inside the cave, he was ten feet away from them. A few dropped their weapons or clips on the munitions pile and kept walking, talking merrily. Five feet away, one of the men in the front greeted them, “Salama Lacum,” Atticus hesitated, he couldn’t remember the reply. Moore stepped in, “W’alacum as salam.” The two groups passed by, nodding at each other, nothing else was said.
Staley heaved a sigh of relief as Atticus, Moore, and Corse exited the cave. He had expected a firefight, and was very relieved that Atticus had found another option. After the three Americans had made it fifty feet from the cave, they started running, and made it up to the ridge that they had walked along to gain access to the cave. Looking around, he suddenly noticed a great commotion in the village. Looking carefully, he could make out a group of armed men, maybe thirty of them, all looking miserable and dusty. They were shouting and gesticulating in Arabic, and though Staley was about a mile away, he could make out one word that was being repeated by the soldiers and the townsfolk: “Americans.” Staley knew that there was no other expeditionary unit, Marine, or Army division within fifty miles. They were deep in Al Qaeda Territory. The only unit of Americans nearby was them. Then, it hit him; those must have been the men who attacked them during their drop. The Green Berets had driven them off and obtained a truck while these men probably had to walk the entire way, that’s why they arrived later. Just as with Atticus, Staley realized the impending danger that the squad was now in. The insurgents in the cave would realize sooner or later that they had sent out no unit of three men, that there was a missing patrol, and that there was a large number of Americans in the area. The newly arrived unit would probably greatly stretch the number of Americans so as to make themselves look better, but that would only mean that the guard at the cave would be larger. He would have to tell Atticus as soon as he got back. This situation greatly required attention.
When Atticus returned, Staley brought him up to date on the situation, and pointed to the dusty group of insurgents who were now making their way towards the cave.
“We’re going to have to strike as soon as possible,” Atticus frowned.
“We’re also going to have to figure out what to do with this numbskull,” Staley pointed at the truck driver.
“When we move out we’ll just free him. His story won’t matter once we’re gone.”
“Good plan, but what should we do now? If we call in some Harriers, they’ll blow the entrance sky high, especially with that pile of munitions. We probably won’t be able to get in with all the rubble. We have to get as much information as possible, remember.”
Their mission was to locate and destroy the facility, while obtaining as much intelligence as possible.
Atticus frowned, “This is what we’ll do. If the Harriers hit the munitions and then use the rest of their missiles, we’ll have a clear entrance. Any rocks that collapsed onto the passageway will crumble from the rockets. We’ll be waiting a couple hundred feet away, and after the jet pulls out, we’ll move in. The first cave and the initial passageway will be obliterated, but everything else should be intact. We go in, get any intelligence available, take out any surviving insurgents, and move out.”
Staley didn’t really like the plan, but it was their only option. They had searched the aerial images of the town. After they had located the main entrance, they could not find any others, although they were sure there was at least one. He would have preferred taking the cave without air support, but since there were no other known entrances, this was most efficient.
Chapter 8: Tonight, we strike!
“Alpha two 9er this is Beta 4. Over?”
“Beta 4 go ‘head.”
“Calling to report a strategy to scavenge and eliminate terrorist hideout at coordinates 2.89, 2.90, 2.88, 2.91.”
“I’ll alert the general. Hold on.”
“Hello Beta 4 this is General Akilles. What is your status.”
“Terrorists are located. We have a strategy to scavenge and eliminate, sir.”
“Requesting one Harrier jet to fire all missiles into a hole in a cliff 60 yards north of coordinate point 2.90, sir.”
“Is that the terrorists’ location?”
“It is, sir, they have stacked a heck of a lot of munitions right at the entrance.”
“I’ll give you the go ahead. Harrier pilot will be scrambling in 5 minutes. He should arrive by… 1900 hours.”
“We’ll be waiting.”
“Alpha two 9er out.”
Atticus looked at Staley. Everyone else looked at Atticus.
“Well, get ready everybody, I want night vision goggles equipped and everything packed up now. We’ll hit the terrorists, jog back here, pick up our stuff, and then jog to our extraction point.”
Fifteen minutes later, the Green Berets had organized all of their packs into a small group hidden behind some bushes. They had all of their equipment on, and were ready for combat. With Atticus leading them, they jogged along the sides of the mountains, careful to remain unseen from the village.
“Beta 4, do you copy?”
“About two miles from your coordinates, moving in fast. Are you in place?”
“We are. Ready and waiting.”
“How big of an explosion is there going to be?”
“Pretty big, stay a good distance away from the opening. They have C4, grenades and ammo sitting right there.”
“Never said they were smart.”
“Alright I can see the village. I’m going to come down right in front of the cave. Get ready.”
Atticus put his radio down and listened. He could just hear the jet. He knew it was coming closer. Suddenly, he looked up, and there it was, maybe 2,000 feet above the cave. Harrier jets are one of the only jets that do not actually need a runway to land; they can stop dead in the air and hover downwards. The jet, deploying its hover ability, usually used for landing, began descending. 1,500 feet, Atticus crouched up against the rock he was using for cover. 1,000 feet, he checked his Steyr AEG, the light was clipped onto the rail, as was the laser and the scope. His night vision goggles were just above his eyes, ready to be lowered at a moment’s notice. 500 feet, the jet was getting quite loud now, and suddenly an insurgent appeared at the entrance of the cave. The fool didn’t look up until the jet was a mere 100 feet above the cave opening. By now the sound was deafening, and the man didn’t have enough of his wits about him to start shooting. He just stood and stared.
The jet pilot was now perfectly level with the cave, and he stopped his descent. He smiled. He had lost a friend two weeks ago when a surprising number of insurgents suddenly attacked his Air Force Base. He fingered the missile control, allowing the site to fix onto the pile of munitions that he could now see just inside the entrance. Then, he let loose. There were a total of ten missiles on board the jet, and each streaked in perfect order directly into the cave entrance. The first rocket nailed the pile of munitions, and the second hit the man at the entrance, bearing him backwards, before exploding into the munitions. A tremendous explosion resulted, blowing huge rocks in all directions. The pilot didn’t even flinch and kept sending missiles towards the cave entrance, which he could no longer see. Five large rocks actually hit his plane, but none caused seriously damage. He could not even see his missiles hitting the cave entrance anymore, but he could hear them. Finally, after he had used all of his rockets, he radioed Atticus.
“Beta 4, you have five seconds, do you want me to strafe the cave with my machine guns?”
Atticus was coughing and sputtering on the other end, “Uh, no I think we have a clear entrance… but… just to be save why don’t you give it a couple runs.”
The pilot proceeded to fire both of his heavy machine guns directly at the entrance, which he could not just make out through all of the dust. There were some heavy rocks in the way of the entrance, but they dissolved under his guns.
“You’re clear, Beta 4, I’m outta here.”
“Get yourself a coke for me, man. Wish us luck.”
The pilot pulled his plane up and out of the dust caused by his attack. He kicked on full power, turned and flew right over the Green Berets, then disappeared into the sky.
Chapter 9: Moving In
Atticus stood up. He knew he had several minutes because anyone inside that cave would be so stunned and shocked by the explosions and vibrations that they would be totally frozen in fear and surprise.
His men stumbled to their feet. None had ever been so close to the awesome power of a fighter jet firing full force at a target. None of them ever wanted to be again. Luckily enough, there were no casualties even though one soldier had the side of his helmet shaved off by a flying piece of rock. He was trying to watch the missiles hit the entrance and had poked his head out from behind cover. He was a little shaken, but was still able.
“Let’s go! Move, move, move!”Everyone began running up towards the cave. The entrance had been blown up, and the current entrance was ten yards farther into the mountain. The men charged through and immediately snapped their night vision goggles on. The cave was pitch black, all lights having been extinguished by the blast. What they saw was a pitiful sight. Men were rolling on the ground in agony, blood streaming from their ears or wounds. Others lay dead, riddled by rock shards. The Berets found several desks in the first room and ransacked them, stuffing any papers into bags they carried at their sides. Others ran forward into the next tunnel, and found that it branched off into four separate caves. One was a mess hall, another was a prayer room, another was a sleeping area, and the last was a training area. The last was the largest of all, and Atticus, after sending two men into each of the other rooms rushed with Staley into the main training room. Several terrorists were on their feet, and as Atticus fired the first blast from his AEG, they all opened fire in random directions. The Berets hit the dirt and began firing rapidly at the terrorists, who they could see quite well. Atticus’s AEG rapidly dispatched two of them, but more and more kept picking themselves off the floor, where they had been thrown by the explosion, and joining the battle. He could hear gunfire from various other rooms as well, and hoped no one had been wounded or killed. Bullets bounced off the rock walls and Atticus ran along to a new position. Here he blazed away at several terrorists, and then moved on. He knew his men were following the same strategy, being everywhere at once, because he could see them with his goggles, stealthily moving forwards and backwards. Despite the superior numbers of the terrorists, they were no match for the Green Berets. After several minutes, all of the terrorists in the room were dead or severely wounded. Like Navy SEALS, Berets aim for the head, and they don’t miss. Atticus found some boxes in the corner, and after throwing the first few to the side, he found a small one in the center of them all. When he opened it, he found that it contained a small laptop and a large number of files. He wondered how the terrorists got power to the laptop, but left that question to the philosophers. The men he had sent off to the other rooms had arrived to help and were now mostly ransacking the training room. He shouted to them if they had cleared the other rooms, and they confirmed that they had. It took several minutes to go through everything in the training room, most of it was old weapons and training dummies with American flags taped to them, but some boxes appeared to contain important information. Just to make sure, Atticus and Staley checked all of the other rooms for survivors or important documents. There were none; his men had done a stellar job.