"Cover fire!" I yelled as gunfire slammed into the ground all around us. I dove behind cover, slamming my shoulder into the ground, as Nick and Corbin laid down covering fire before diving under cover themselves. I grimaced but propped my rifle over the rock and laid down more fire as Caroline and Emily sprinted to the next set of boulders.
Nick and Corbin jumped up next, launching grenades toward the building as they ran toward Caroline and Emily, sliding into cover gracefully. I waited a few seconds before I heard the 'pfft 'pffte of silenced gunfire from ahead of us and with a nod to Katie we took off.
Two steps before making it to cover, I felt a tugging on my leg as a round hit the holster clipped on my thigh. Ignoring it, I slid into cover behind Katie and everyone else. I popped back up and fired a grenade from my launcher towards the compound, hitting a window as someone popped up with an AK.
I laughed and said, "Guess we aren't going in quietly. Time for plan B. Hit the house hard!"
Corbin took that meaning literally and popped off a LAW from behind a rock, blowing a large hole in the outside wall. I laughed and radioed, "Try to keep the houses intact somewhat please. We would like to get some intel from them."
Nick just laughed and replied, "Yeah yeah we know. We'll try our best. Now, let's do this."
As gunfire slacked off, Nick and I tossed flash bangs over the rocks and everyone jumped up running toward the house as soon as they went off. As I slammed into the wall next to the door, Corbin kicked in the door and I slipped through the doorway, Corbin right on my six. My rifle tracked across the room almost automatically, dropping two gunmen on my side of the room as Corbin landed a headshot on a third gunman. Quickly pushing through the room, Corbin took lead, heading deeper into the house as we heard more gunfire erupt outside.
Cursing at our luck, I followed Corbin. Quickly searching the rest of the first floor we headed towards the stairs as a grenade dropped from the second floor. Grabbing Corbin's vest, I dove into the bathroom as it went off blowing a sizeable hole in the wall. Jumping back to our feet, Corbin poured fire up the stairs from his cover at the doorframe. As he reloaded I tapped him on the shoulder signaling I was ready. He slapped the bolt release on his rifle and headed up the stairs sliding along the wall.
Reaching the second floor landing, a single gunman was slouched on the floor, a nice hole in the back of his head. Kicking him out the way, Corbin pressed on and into the first room. With the first room empty, we listened as automatic gunfire came from the next room. I took lead and headed down the hall tossing a grenade into the room and shielding myself back from the door. As the grenade went off, Corbin pushed the door open again and shot two gunmen on the floor, still shocked from the grenade.
I nodded to him as I radioed, "Objective one taken. House clear. Moving on."
Caroline radioed back, "We're pinned down at objective two. Seems to be at least twenty gunmen in the house."
I clicked my acknowledgment and Corbin picked up two RPGs from the corner, his head cocked at me as if to ask if he could blow them up. I just smiled and nodded, heading to the room on the other side of the hall overlooking the inside of the compound. I aimed out the window, as Corbin quickly took aim at the upper floor of the second house. Dropping the grenade right through an open window, he smiled as the room exploded. Quickly dropping the RPG and grabbing the other one, he shot the second round at the door, blowing it off the hinges. I laid down fire on the upper windows as my team rushed forward to the wall.
Corbin dropped the launcher and headed for the stairs. After emptying my mag into the second floor, I followed him down the stairs. Scanning the courtyard as we watched Nick enter the building last, I followed Corbin out the door and ran toward the second house. As gunfire slammed into the ground all around us, I cursed and fired randomly into the second floor windows. The sound of gunfire kept itself steady as the insurgents started fighting inside. Corbin and I entered the house where several gunmen were lying in the hallway dead, their guns kicked away. Corbin headed toward the stairs as gunfire continued to erupt from the second floor. Seeing Nick at the top of the of the stairs, Corbin jogged up the stairs.
Nick continued pouring fire down the hallway as Caroline peaked out from the first bedroom. Gunfire slammed into the doorway and she ducked back in cursing loudly I fired several rounds down the hallway to cover her and managed to hit one of the insurgents. With fire still coming down the hallway, Nick cursed and dropped his empty mag and reloaded. I kept my fire up as Caroline reached out the door and managed to drop another insurgent.
Corbin grimaced next to me as a round hit his chest plate, making him take a step back. Our radio barked as Katie said, "Deploying C4. Going to blow through the wall."
Nick clicked the radio to acknowledge and leaned back behind cover. We all let our fire falter out as an explosion echoed through the top floor. Gunfire erupted again and we heard a flash bang go off. Nick started firing down the corridor as he moved to the room Caroline was in.
Corbin followed him a few seconds later while I stayed put on the landing as gunfire continued between the rooms. It finally started to taper off as Corbin tossed a grenade into the last room. The grenade went off and the gunfire ended. After a few seconds, Corbin peered out the door and unloaded a full mag into the room before pulling his pistol and entering. Two more pops and it was all done.
Caroline came out the room and towards me. She smiled and said, "They're gathering the few books and hard drives left intact in there. Katie practically blew up the whole fucking wall."
I laughed as we headed back down the stairs. We looked around the first floor for anything useful, but it was pretty devoid of anything besides dead bodies and sleeping bags. There was even a guy with a sleeping bag wrapped around his legs with several rounds through his head and chest. I grimaced a little as Caroline walked around him and scanned out the window, keeping an eye out for anyone we had missed.
Emily radioed down, "We've got everything wrapped up. Heading down."
I pushed the transmit button on my radio, "Hippogriff One, this is Hit Squad One. Come in."
My earpiece squawked, "This is Hippogriff One. Ready for extract?"
I answered, "That's an affirmative. See ya at LZ alpha in 10 minutes."
Caroline leaned back from the window and headed toward the door as everyone came trudging down the stairs, Corbin and Nick carrying two duffel bags on their back. I nudged my head toward the door and followed them out the door, stopping only to toss a white phosphorous grenade into the building. No sense in leaving behind any evidence. Katie did the same as we passed the first house.
Passing the compound wall and crossing back into the desert, we picked up the pace and start humping our way toward the extract a mile out. As Caroline set a quick pace, we arrived in just under five minutes and spread out to cover the LZ, watching for anything odd.
I radioed in, "Hit Squad 1 at LZ."
Two squawks came from the radio in acknowledgment as our Osprey appeared on the horizon. Coming in low and fast it blew up a dust storm behind it. I yelled, "Osprey incoming."
Everyone ducked their heads as the plane kicked up dust around us and settled down onto the ground. I waved everyone toward the dropping ramp and scampered in behind them. I radioed, "We're in. Take us out of here!"
Before the ramp could even shut, we were up and moving away from the clearing. Nick set down the duffle bag and unclipped his rifle as the plane shot upward. He dropped onto one of the seats and sighed.
I dropped into my seat next to Caroline and felt the tension leaving my muscles. Emily finally broke the silence, "Well that was fun."
I smiled, "Yep, it's always nice when they go as planned. Did y'all find anything interesting in the stuff Katie didn't blow up?"
Katie just flicked me off but at least I got a smile out of her. She said, "Nothing popped out at us as vital. As for the room, I just didn't realize the walls weren't concrete inside! The stupid intel report said the house was concrete! Next time, I'll leave blowing us all up to Corbin."
Corbin huffed, "Use too much C4 one time and you never hear the end of it!"
I laughed, "Dude, you blew up the entire house. And it's not like it was small house. It was a freaking villa."
He just smiled and leaned back, putting his hands behind his head. Emily just snorted and leaned up against him, laying her rifle on the floor. The radio squawked again, "We're forty minutes out from Hogsmeade. Hold on tight and we'll have you home soon."
I laughed at our pilot Tim. His kids had gotten him the Harry Potter books for Christmas and ever since then we had been using code names from them. I really wonder what the brass would think of us if they tapped into our comms.
Caroline just laughed and yelled, "Well I want some butterbeer when we get there!"
We all laughed and the silence took over again as we all decompressed from the firefight. Most of our trip passed with us just chatting quietly between ourselves and relaxing. Suddenly the Osprey banked hard and our radios squawked, "Suit back up. Hogsmeade is under attack. We're going in hot."
Several groans echoed around the cabin as we all jumped up and started pulling spare ammo and gear from cases strapped against the walls. I shoved new grenades into the pouches on my vest, tossing several to Corbin and Nick before taking new mags from Caroline.
Slapping a fresh mag into my 416, I checked my pistol as Corbin pulled out the SAW from a case at the front of the cabin. Slapping a belt into it, he loaded it up before moving on to the second one. I watched as he quickly loaded both of them and propped them up by the side door.
Caroline and Katie were talking quietly between themselves as Nick and Emily started opening up cases looking for the LAWs and the new Milkor MRGLs in the back of the cabin. I shook my head and took pity on whoever decided they wanted to attack Hogsmeade.
Time radioed backed, "Two minutes out."
I grabbed my radio and tapped into the base frequency. I listened as radio calls for help echoed through my headset. I pushed the transmit button and said, "Hogsmeade, this is Hit Squad 1. We're coming overhead in under two minutes. What can we do to help?"
Colonel O'Neill radioed back as gunfire sounded over the radio, "We're pinned down in several buildings! They haven't breached the fences yet, but they're firing into the compound and raining down RPGs on us. Can you drop in behind them or draw fire for a minute or two? That'll give us time so we can regroup."
Nick said, "How about dropping Katie, Caroline, and I off behind them? You, Corbin, and Emily can stick to the air and hit them with the LAWS and SAW. Should give them the time they need. Plus give you a better view to direct things."
I nodded and radioed our plan in to the Colonel. Nick briefed Tim and then headed to the back ramp with Caroline and Katie, grabbing parachutes from the bank on the wall. Corbin handed me a SAW as Emily picked up a sniper rifle and headed back to the ramp.
Tim called back, "10 seconds to jump. Ramp clear." The thud of the ramp sliding down shook the cabin as it locked in place. Snapping my night vision goggles down, I looked out the window as half of my team jumped, deploying behind the ridge. I felt a little discomfort splitting up, but quickly shoved it down. Nick would take care of them. We had bigger problems.
The buzzer sounded and they stepped off the ramp, dropping out of sight and into the fight. Tim's voice came over the radio again, "Heading over the ridge now. 15 seconds to contact. Strap in guys, this isn't going to be smooth."
We all quickly clipped in to the safety lines as we came up over the ridge and got a view of the base. Pockets of gunfire erupted from different spots on the ridge, an RPG exploding against one of the buildings. I radioed to Tim, "Take us up high! I want an overview."
By our stroke of luck, the Osprey didn't attract immediate attention and we all held our fire just marking targets as we rose quickly upward. Finally getting a full view of the base, I radioed the Colonel, "You have attackers on both the east and west ridges sir. RPGs are coming only from the east. Nick is moving to engage the east ridge. We'll take the west."
Colonel radioed back, "Copy. We'll move as soon as the gunfire slows."
I picked up one of the new Milkor MRGLs and radioed Nick, "You guys ready?"
Two clicks gave me my confirmation and I broadcast, "Weapons free guys."
As soon as I said it, Corbin and Emily started raining fire down on the targets they had marked. I fired two grenades at a flash of light from an RPG, blowing a sizeable hole in a boulder. Corbin kept firing, keeping the attackers pinned down behind the rocks. I saw gunfire and took aim as a fighter popped up, firing and blowing him several feet from cover.
Ducking back toward the ramp, I scanned the west side as grenades exploded behind the rocks. Nick must be lobbing grenades over the ridge while Caroline and Katie pick off fighters. Not a bad strategy at all.
Seeing several fighters cowering on our side of boulders, I pointed them out to Emily and she went to work, quickly ending several of their careers. I laughed as she whooped and continued firing. I scanned the ridge but it seemed as if everyone was under cover. I crossed back to the doorway as Corbin stepped back to reload. I aimed my rifle out and peppered a few rocks to keep heads down. No sense in letting them shoot at us.
Corbin finished reloading and started concentrating his fire on one of the boulders, driving the fighters from behind it and then dropping them as they ran for better cover. I aimed at one of the highest boulders as rounds came slamming into the Osprey. Cursing I drew back from the window. Checking Corbin over as he kept firing, I aimed again fired the last two rounds. They blew apart the boulder and sent the two fighters who had shot up the helicopter flying. Corbin finished them off with several shots to each of them.
The Colonel came over the radio, "We've established a perimeter and gunfire has pretty much stopped in our direction. You guys good?"
Nick radioed in, "I think we've pretty much cleared the east ridge. Care to fly over for us Hippogriff One?"
Tim took us out of hover and banked over the ridge. Emily said, "Looks clear from up here. Go ahead and move in and check."
Nick acknowledged and I radioed the Colonel, "We'll stay airborne until we are sure it's clear. Can you send a team to sweep the west ridge?"
The Colonel replied, "Sure, they'll be out there in a minute. They've got IFF beacons on, so don't shoot them."
"Copy." Corbin continued scanning the ridge but his posture slackened a little. For the next several minutes, we continued to watch for any signs of fighters, but besides a few gun shots to finish off fighters, we didn't see much.
Finally the Colonel radioed, "We've got control of the west ridge. My teams are establishing observations posts now. Come on down."
Tim took us out of a hover and started into the landing pad we had next to our barracks. Settling onto the ground, we waved bye to Tim and Derek and jumped down out the side door. Jogging out of the rotor wash and into the barracks, we found the Colonel waiting for us.
Hanging up on his satellite phone, he turned to us and said, "Well, welcome back. I must say you have pretty good timing."
We laughed and I said, "Glad to help Colonel."
His face tightened and he replied, "I just got off the phone with central command. They want us all out of here in 24 hours. Since we've been found, it's no use staying here anymore. Better to get out and find a new place. You're being recalled to HQ in Washington until we can setup a new base. Can you be ready to go by then?"
We all nodded, knowing we could be packed in under an hour. Most of our gear was already in the Osprey and even that gear could be replaced from several caches around the world. I replied, "We'll be packed and gone way before that deadline, sir. Most likely we'll be out of here in the next few hours. But, we do have one problem. We think we stumbled upon some high priority intel, possibly even plans for a strike on the US."
The smiled dropped from the Colonel's face and he said, "Anything concrete?"
Caroline replied, "No sir, just maps and radiation procedures. We've got hard drives and such with more intel hopefully. We'll get them to the techs and hope they come up with something soon."
He nodded and shook hands with all of us saying, "It's been an honor to serve with you and your team. You are one amazing group of soldiers. I hope we see each other again under better circumstances. As soon as you lot turn 21, drinks are one me."
We laughed and thanked him for everything he had done for us as Nick, Caroline, and Katie came trudging in. The Colonel shook their hands and told them the same thing as us as we started dropping our gear into different cases, packing up as we went.
They thanked him and started undressing also with both the Colonel and his aide leaving. Caroline asked, "So should we take the Osprey up to Europe and grab the 747 in Paris or just take a military plane back?"
I dropped the last of my tactical gear into the Pelican case and replied, "Take the Osprey up to Paris. I hate the odd looks we get on military planes."
Nick agreed, "I fucking hate that. I mean we have probably seen more action than everyone else on that plane and they look at us like we're little kids playing soldier."
Katie just shrugged, "It's just how it is. I always spend the time thinking how I'd take down everyone on the plane. It makes me laugh to think of throwing those big guys around."
Nick looked at her oddly but just shrugged and gave her a kiss on the forehead before continuing his packing. Katie smiled and locked her case up and stacked it next to mine. I grabbed my go bag as everyone else finished up and pulled out my satellite phone.
Calling Tim I waited for an answer, "Hey, are you guys good to fly us up to Paris? Maybe you take us up to Paris and then Derek can get us back to Washington? They want us back at HQ ASAP."
"Okay cool. I'll get a pilot from command in Paris then. As long as you guys are good to get us up there. Cool see ya in thirty."
"Alright guys, let's get all this stuff squared away in the Osprey. Girls, can yall get this intel to the analysts and arrange a pilot for Paris?"
The girls nodded and headed out the doors as Nick looked at me and just said, "You always make us lift the heavy stuff don't you?"
Corbin just laughed and said, "Toughen up you pansy. Come on let's get this shit packed up."
I laughed and just grabbed a case and headed out the door. Propping the case up in the Osprey I stopped on the way back and looked up at the stars. No matter where we went, they were the one thing that didn't change. There was a small comfort in that. I shook myself out of it after a few seconds and headed back into the barracks, trying to ignore that dreadful feeling settling over me.