Monday, November 2, 2009

Nano 2009: Chapter 1

Moving quietly, the five men of the assault squad crept up to the wall made of sand-bricks, crouching down for cover behind it. A sixth man was already there, and he was peering through a long, slim tube that protruded above the wall, which was just over waist height. Pitching his voice low, the leader of the squad leaned in and whispered, “Report.”

“Activity is as previously described, sir,” the scout said. The captain nodded, and he made a hand motion. Immediately the group split into two; the scout and another soldier moving with the captain to the left, the other three heading around the wall to the right.

Another hand motion, and all of the soldiers lowered down their night vision goggles, engaging them, flooding their vision with green lights that grew brighter as they detected a form of heat. The three-story building before the soldiers was made of the same bricks as the wall, and as a result, was quite good at insulating heat, revealing little of the Taliban mujahideen inside. However, the two on the roof were quite thoroughly revealed to the captain’s eye.

The scout was already lowering his rifle and taking careful aim, concealed by the shadows of the building and his carefully patterned desert camouflage. The captain knew that one of the other soldiers would be doing the same. After a few seconds, both the bodies on the roof crumpled noiselessly.

Afterwards, the captain moved quickly up to the building itself, his soldiers following. The other group of men slipped around to the rear entrance, both snipers leaving the rifles behind and picking up suppressed sub machine guns. The captain reached out and carefully tried the doorknob, but found it locked. He attached a tiny, shaped charge to the latch and then waited for a moment.

“Captain, we’re prepared to breach,” a voice whispered into his ear, through the small microphone there. He nodded and whispered back, softly.

“Ten seconds,” he responded.

He counted to ten, slowly, and then pressed the small button for the shape charge. There was a soft, dull thud, and the door creaked open. The captain’s size ten boot kicked it hard, and it flew open. He and the other two men rushed into the door. There was no power to the building, casting most of it in shadow. The suppressors emitted dull whomps as the soldiers shot the several men in the room, rapidly, before any of them could grasp for their AK-47s or other weapons.

After a few seconds the other assaulters joined up with the soldiers in the front room. “All clear, captain,” the Welshman leading that group reported.

“Take your group upstairs. We’ll take the basement.” The Welsh sergeant nodded and moved to the stairs up, whilst the captain headed to the stairs down. He led his two followers down, slowly, making sure the snout of his MP5 was pointed forward.

The loud noise of an AK-47 reverbrated from above, and the captain paused, hoping his soldiers were alright. Then he kicked open the door before him and charged through, sending small spurts of 9mm rounds at the guards in the room, men easily identified by the larger robes they wore. Lifting up his night vision, the captain moved to the small cells set in the walls.

Seven women and one man were locked in the tiny cells. The women had instinctively curled away from the cage with the sudden noise of the door opening and the onset of violence; the one man looked unconscious. Moving in close to the cages, the captain whispered softly to the prisoners. “Stand back…move him away from the door.” The captain and one of the other soldiers attached more of the tiny explosive charges to the locks on the cages and moved back. After a nod, both men detonated their small charges, causing the cage doors to swing open with a loud squeak.

“There you are, lass, it’ll be alright now,” the captain said. The nearby woman recoiled a hint, for a moment, but the quiet Scottish brogue of the leader seemed to calm her a bit. He reached out for her hand, and she got up, slowly, shuddering as she rose. He smiled to her. “Come with us, lass, and we'll have you kindly on your way.”

One of the soldiers moved to help pick up the unconscious man. His face was thrown into relief for the first time as the captain removed his nightvision, revealing how badly beaten and broken the fellow's face was. He didn't wince, but he moved to usher the others towards the stairs.

The radio crackled for a moment. “Sir, the rooftop is clear. Evac choppers are on the way.”

“Understood. We're on our way.” The women shuffled up the stairs after one of the captain's men, followed by the two people supporting the unconscious, well-abused male prisoner. The captain went last, following them up the three steps of stairs to the top floor, where the other soldiers met up with the prisoners, assisting them up the ladder to the roof.

A helicopter was moving in slowly towards the roof, which was fairly wide and open. The soldiers had the prisoners hide on the edge as the chopper was waved in by one of the men, whilst the others moved to the various edges, watching carefully.

It was difficult to hear over the whir of the chopper, but after a moment, one of the soldiers turned his head, and called out, loudly, “Trucks, sir! Two trucks coming in!” The captain scurried to the edge indicated by the lookout, hefting up his MP5 as he peeked over the small lip on the side of the building.

“Sergeant, get those people on that chopper!” he ordered the Welshman. “Everyone else, suppressing fire on those vehicles!” Both of the trucks were Toyotas, stripped down and with a heavy machine gun mounted, and both guns started to fire their thick rounds after they realized they'd been spotted.

Sand bricks exploded as .50 calibur shells smashed through them, while the soldiers returned fire, their much lighter weapons spurting down from atop the building. Their fire was far more accurate, and one of the first rounds took out one of the gunners. Taliban warriors spread out from the trucks, holding up Kalashnikovs, firing them randomly at the soldiers on the rooftop.

“Sir!” came the voice of the Welsh sergeant. “Time to go!” The captain waved away the other soldiers, standing up and emptying his clip at the enemy, turning to dash for the helicopter, as the side of the building exploded. The next thing he knew, one of his soldiers was pulling the captain into the side of the helicopter, holding his body in as the aircraft pulled away from the crumbling brick building before another RPG round lashed out through the air.

“Hold on, sir! You're gonna be fine!” someone said. The captain noticed pressure around his stomach, and looked down. His nightvision goggles were gone, and he could see thick liquid seeping out around someone's palm. Moving hurt, and he tried to move his arm, only to feel a stabbing pain just below his elbow. Something was broken.

A needle punctured his thigh as one of the soldiers hit him with a suchet, and immediately the captain felt the pain subside. The sensation of leaving his body slowly took hold, and after a few more moments of morphine-induced delight, he lost consciousness. The helicopter flew on.

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