Solemn Vow: Chapter 4
All hell suddenly broke loose from a firestorm of small arms fire erupting from across the compound to our front, courtesy of our A-Rab hosts. The night sky instantly filled with green and orange streaks as tracers marked the trajectory of bullets fired from our unfriendly acquaintances. A loud explosion close to T.C.’s location briefly illuminated the area. I stole a quick glance above the mud wall. It did not take long to realize either I miscounted the habudabis at this soirée, or whoever was paid for the information did not use all his fingers and toes when doing a head count. The second scenario seemed most likely.
The starbursts from T.C.’s squad’s silenced weapons flashed along the right flank in response to the poor reception they received. The chatter of automatic weapons grew into a cacophony of sound and dazzling light display as more explosions from grenades and an occasional RPG ripped the night fabric. Our buddies decided not to play fair as the beating pulse of a large caliber machine gun rose above the furious fighting. We went to ground on a low rise providing the barest of cover and returned fire.
“This wasn’t supposed to play out like this, Mac.” Owens shouted over the sound of the pitched battle.
“Looks like they knew exactly when we were coming, Kyle,” I shouted. “We stay here, we’re dead. I’ve got an idea. You and I will circle around on their left flank.” It was apparent the enemy had no formal military training. They would shoot and run. Stick a rifle barrel above a wall and unleash a burst. But that didn’t mean they were not capable of killing. My squad continued advancing behind the cover of the low walls to our front. Stealing a glance off to the right, T.C.’s team was taking heavy fire and making little headway from their initial position toward the objective.
“Mind sharing your idea?” Kyle hollered to be heard above the clamor.
“No time. Just follow my lead.”
“Alright, Cap. But I don’t want you sticking your neck out unnecessarily. Besides, I don’t want to have to carry your sorry ass back if it gets shot up,” Owens smirked.
I felt that familiar grin curl to life on my face although I knew there was nothing funny about the situation. “Just do your job and you won’t need to.” I slapped a hand on Owens’ shoulder. “We’ll be back before you know it. Alright people, lay down some cover fire on my go. Kyle, you’re with me.”
We ran off to the left in order to move into a flanking position. Unexpectedly, a half dozen hajis appeared from nowhere. My hand snagged Owens’ sleeve and I yanked him to the right while unleashing a full magazine. Four hostiles dropped instantly and Owens took care of the others. We continued on meeting heavy resistance and taking down opponents. Something grazed my right wrist, but I ignored the sting as we ducked for cover behind a mud wall.
Jumping up, I tossed a grenade over the next wall and fired at two towel heads rapidly approaching from the left. The air buzzed with the sounds of angry hornets just as the explosion took out three goat herders behind the wall.
My squad unleashed another fusillade of hot lead at our hosts, dropping tangos as quickly as they could. The sound of shouting men and dying screams of Johnny Jihad pierced the air. The scene looked staged, as if cut from a Hollywood action drama filled with all kinds of special effects, but no one was serving popcorn. In its place were copper jacketed slugs looking hungrily for targets.
We both reloaded and moved out, firing on the run in the face of withering fire. On the heels of our footfalls, a heavy whooshing sound split the night. The explosion caused by the RPG lit the darkness in a burst of white light thirty yards behind us as shrapnel buzzed through the air. I caught a quick glimpse of our A-Rab friend and fired off a burst in his direction. He ducked back down behind the mud wall as the battle continued to rage all around.
Streaks from tracers, angry hornets with lethal stingers, and explosions continued to rock the battlefield. It began to happen again as times before. A part of myself became detached from the situation. The world slowed, sounds muffled, and my senses redlined to a state of hyper awareness. It felt like I could see everything with extra clarity. I have heard of things like this happening to others. But I was not about to argue the fact it saved my ass on more than one occasion.
Bullets chewed the ground at our feet, sending up small geysers of sand. Owens and I somehow made it to a position on their left flank. We set up a field of fire, taking out opponents as soon as we saw them. Persisting on, we made our advance unscathed to the first building, save for the flesh wound on my wrist.
I tossed a glance around the corner of the building and surprised two bearded gentlemen. The looks on their faces indicated they were not necessarily happy to see me, so I emptied the remaining portion of my M4’s magazine as a departing gift. At least they would get to heaven and be surrounded by seventy-two virgins. Thinking about it though, that many women is way too much work not to mention the added drama. From the looks of these guys, they were not exactly GQ material. How would any unspoiled Arab hottie be attracted? Beyond my comprehension was the best I could do. So if you bought into that crap, great. My best guess? These two fellas were just stone cold dead.
Owens tapped my shoulder and came around in front of me kicking the door of the building open. He surprised three guys who were probably bartering over a few camels or Salim’s daughter, ending their business dealings with a quick burst of gunfire.
“Mac,” Owens shouted over the noise. “I’ll take that building on the left. You go right.”
“Be sure to give them my best.” I called out in the wake of his footsteps.
A line of bullets stitched across the door frame of the building I was about to enter. “Son of a bitch.” I drop and roll, come up firing. Flames spit from the business end of my M4CQBR. The short barreled M4 did its job and took out Sharif and Hibiddy Jibiddy, or whatever the guys’ names were. I searched for any of their sadiqis lingering in the immediate area, hoping to invite them to the same party, but found none.
Owens found himself engaged in a game of kill the camel jockey when I kicked the door to the building in. The near total darkness came alive through the NVG’s. I took it all in at once. Lying in a heap in the corner was the colonel we were supposed to retrieve and three grinning strangers, all of them intent on ensuring I did not see my next birthday.
My vocation trains you extensively for scenarios just like this. Kind of like an arcade game where those little ducks float by except these ducks had guns. In the end it is all about who shoots first, and more importantly, best. The first two were recipients of a couple three round bursts. The third guy got off a shot I heard whistle past my ear when I decided it was time for this sand monkey to visit Allah and his brothel of virgins.
I called out Kyle’s name into my mike. “Found the colonel. Why don’t you come and join the party.”
“Little busy right, now. I count four hajis. Three at my ten and one at my two o’clock position about twenty yards out behind a wall. They got me wedged in. I could use a little help.”
“You really should be more careful about choosing who you play with,” I quipped. “Sit tight.”
The colonel looked like he had been invited to a party and used as a piñata, fortunately one that had not broken open. It did not take a medical degree to see they worked him over pretty good. “Colonel,” I said, shaking his shoulders to arouse him from his semi-consciousness. “Colonel. Can you hear me?” Through the slit of a puffy, purplish-black eye, he stared up at me in the dim glow of my flashlight. His attempt to sit up caused him to wince, followed by a grimace spreading over his battered and swollen face.
“Who are you,” he croaked through bloodied lips.
“McGann. Your taxi driver. Word has it you’re an important guy and need a ride home. I’m going to get you there. In the meantime, take this.” I handed him my Sig. “You got one in the pipe and ten in the well. You see anybody but me come through that door, feel free to play Wyatt Earp at the OK corral. Got that?” He was slow to respond and then a hint of a grin creased his features before I took off.
Peering outside the door, my gaze shifted over the terrain to see if anyone would notice me stepping back out to finish up my night on the town. Relieved to find no one lining me up in their sights, I took off around a corner of the building and ran smack dab into Omar. He had me dead to rights but his gun jammed. He reacted instantly. Attempting to finish the job, he swung his weapon, hitting the barrel of my M4. It flew unexpectedly from my grasp.
My new friend bulldozed into me and I took the brunt of his full weight, my lungs emptying in a loud whoosh. It felt like a train plowed into me, but that was the least of my problems. When his meaty hands wrapped around my throat it became clearly apparent this venture wasn’t going well. The snarling image of his face caught my attention as he grunted and ground his teeth.
My hand shot out with two outstretched fingers. I missed the mark, namely his eye, as his head bobbed out of the way. Omar could give T.C. a run for his money size wise. His arms were the size of tree trunks and little time remained before this outcome soured. The increasing pressure on my throat caused stars to gather at the corner of my vision. My right hand groped for the knife on my belt. I managed to find it as unconsciousness loomed closer. I did not think from that point. The urgent need to breathe and animal instincts inspired my next reaction.
The razor sharp steel of my Gerber Mark II sank deeply in the flesh beneath his ribs. His eyes widened in disbelief. His mouth fell open soundlessly. I felt his hands slowly lose their grip and I could finally take a breath. The son of a bitch just sat there, a fiery hatred in his eyes. “Get off me,” I screamed. The big guy just stared, once fervent eyes dulling as death approached. I pulled out the blade and rammed all six and a half inches of steel to the hilt severing his aorta and ripping through heart muscle. Omar grunted a final time and air spilled from his lungs. Blood oozed from his mouth and he toppled over backwards. “About damn time, you bastard,” I yelled, kicking myself away from the dead body.
(To be continued...)
Solemn Vow © 2016 by William Beck. All Rights Reserved