Early/Mid Twenty-first Century A.D. (Gregorian)
Four armor-clad ghosts crept down the rubble-strewn alley. Calling the hard-packed dirt strip between two- and three-story hovels a ‘street’ was an insult to decent roadways everywhere. The team paused, several buildings short of the target.
They waited, silent. A dog barked several streets over. No further sound. The target was a typical run-down multistory family home found in Arabic cities across the Arabian Peninsula. Inside, according to hot intel was an HVT. One Saeed al-Shiri, number two terrorist leader in Yemen, supposedly rested inside.
Mark Chappell, aka Fuse, the team leader broke squelch twice on his radio.
“Eyes on the back door.” Came over his earpiece. “Light source at the window. Possible blacked-out room. Negative movement.”
Fuse clicked once in acknowledgment.
Seeing and hearing nothing to alert them, the men moved to the main entrance. Marty Hicks, aka Duo was point man. He stationed himself just off the door. The men behind squeezed up, hands gripping once. All set. Duo tried the door, the latch clicked open.
He shone his infrared light into the crack, checking for sensors, booby traps, or whatever. Nothing. Looks like mister dirtbag either wasn’t home, or relied on anonymity for his security. Not good enough tonite motherfucker. Duo pushed the door open completely. A quick pie around the door revealed the empty room. Odd.
The team flowed inside. They swept the first room under night vision, using IR lights mounted to their battle rifles to illuminate. Moving quickly, they swept down the hallway beyond. A thick curtain covered the end. A sliver of light at the floor indicated a lit room beyond.
John Morgan, aka: Pancake now at point, held up a fist. The team froze in place behind him. He listened for a minute. Signaled three voices beyond. He signed for a flashbang. Duo palmed one, indicated ready.
With a jerk, he forced the fabric aside, tossed the grenade into the room beyond. A pause, as the cylinder went off, the team moved. Pancake took one side, Duo the opposite. In an instant, they snap-shotted the layout. Three men in linen thawbs (or dishdashahs) stood around a chair. Two were conversing while the third rigged something under the seat. Tied upright was a young girl with blonde hair. Pancake knocked over the video camera on a tripod by the side wall as he swept around. Duo pushed the flag hanging opposite, assuring himself no one hid behind.
Fuse followed his men into the room. The three operators evaluated the men, noticed the sword one carried, the AKM held by the other and the fiddling the third engaged in. The flashbang had stunned all three, giving the four operators the precious fraction of a second they needed to effect entry, read the room and take action. All three rifles spit lead, dropping the Yemenis.
Pancake saw the wires leading to something in the third man’s hand.
“Moving!” He called out.
“Move!” His teammates responded, but he was already slashing the girl’s bonds.
“Bomb!” He shouted as he did.
He whirled, pulling the girl from her seat. He put his armored back between the civilian and whatever device lurked under the chair. His mates, too crouched and covered.
A heat flash followed by the blast wave and a shrapnel cloud. It flung them against the nearest wall, peppered their backsides with metal. It hurt, they were wounded but would limp away.
Pancake wasn’t so lucky. He was much closer. The explosive took his legs off at the knees. He collapsed, turned head toward the door they’d entered. His helmet bounced off the wall, slipped loose. He covered his head, kept the other wrapped around the now screaming girl.
The team paused, let the dust settle. They turned as gunshots opened from the hallway, where Ben Hull, aka: Numb, their fourth guarded their backs. Hornets speared the dust, whacked Pancake’s head and protecting hand. Numb’s answering sound-suppressed rifle ended that conversation.
“Man down.” Duo called, moving to support his teammate.
“Copy.” Fuse replied. He glanced down the hall. Numb still held position at the base of the stairs. Another Yemeni body crumpled at his feet. Numb kicked an AK down the hall toward his team leader.
“Clear?” Fuse asked.
“So far. Can’t see up.” Numb answered.
“Duo, can you hold this while we finish the top?” Fuse inquired.
“Go.” He said, already busy with tourniquets and combat gauze.
Fuse moved back down. He and Numb swept up the stairs.
“Arch-angel,” Duo spoke into his radio, “have one down. Non-ambulatory. Head wounds. Stand by for evac.”
He continued searching, checking the girl, too.
“Have one package. Female. Ambulatory wounded, as well.” He finished.
“Copy.” Came the response. “Rolling QRF and vehicles now. Back door in two minutes.”
Just enough time to finish clearing the house, grab whatever intel they could get and vanish into the night.
Ft. Bragg, NC
Twenty four hours later
“Oh yes!” Krystal Morgan exulted. “Keep going baby!”
She was flat on her back. Her partner, Jerry started up their second round of fucking. He peeled her thighs from his waist, bent the blonde housewife in half. Lying full out on top, he hammered her into the mattress.
Krystal wrapped her arms around her calves, held the jackknife position for her lover. She’d taken up with Jerry during John’s previous deployment, tired of his repeated, lengthening absences. Their son, Derrick was a high-school mistake and the only reason she stayed married. John had been a baseball player, class president, pushing for a West Point appointment. Krystal was the social strap-hanger, always orbiting, never in the inner circle. Two fumbling seventeen-year-old virgins found each other, gave up their cherries and Derrick was the result.
Krystal’s father demanded John do the right thing, and he agreed. A year later, college plans ruined for both, John enlisted. He vowed to make officer in four years, the same length of time it would’ve taken if he’d gotten into the Academy. Instead, John’s Ranger Battalion deployed to the always-tumultuous Middle East for the start of the Israeli-Persian War. Sergeant’s stripes resulted from that. Another deployment two years later and he made Staff Sergeant.
Five years in, he was almost finished with college classes. Not quite as fast as he’d planned, but he was still on track to hit Officer Candidate School. Green to Gold was much faster than college ROTC. Then the recruiter had showed up at his required leadership school. John needed that course to make the next rank, or for the OCS packet, so off he went.
He returned from school determined to apply to Delta. 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, aka Delta, aka the Unit, aka Delta Force (the D-boys hated that one). Rangers routinely provided infantry support for Special Mission Units and other Joint Special Operations Forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Trying out for an SMU was the ultimate warrior test.
That was their first big fight. Now all of a sudden he didn’t want to be an officer, but some super-commando? Fine, go off and get himself killed, see if she cared. Another deployment while the Army considered his packets, she had three one-night-stands during that one. It was her first time cheating on him.
Delta Selection actually kicked off just after he returned. She and their young son got maybe a week with him before he disappeared for that. He didn’t call her at all for a month. So, she arranged for a regular booty call with a randy single Lieutenant over in the Eighty-Second. That kept any of the nosy unit wives from getting wind.
When he went active with the Unit, he turned into a ghost. He slept, showered and ate the occasional meal at home while doing his initial Operator’s Training Course. Other than that, she never saw him. He never noticed she kept up her outside affairs.
Now on his second half-year overseas deployment and she had a fun, reliable bed partner in Jerry. He did some office job on post, was an officer, just promoted to Major. Since he kept a small stable of randy wives, he never lacked for pussy. Yet none of the women had to worry about him pressuring them. If a husband was around, he just waited for them to cycle back out to the sandbox.
This morning, Jerry stopped by after making some excuse at his office. He knew all the ways to be “out checking” something or other, and so could make house calls while other men were at work. Krystal met him at the door, naked under her robe. He plastered her against the entryway, carried her naked body to the bed and fucked her raw.
He’d just started their second round of illicit pleasure when the doorbell rang. She ignored it, dug her fingernails into his ass-cheeks. She urged him on, heedless of anything else.
He slowed to a stop, though. She realized whoever it was was alternating between knocking and ringing the bell.
“They’re not going away.” Jerry told her. “They can see the car. Maybe even hear us. You need to find out who it is.”
He rolled off.
“Dammit.” She cursed. “Stay here. I’ll get rid of them. Don’t move, I still want my second helpings. Where’s my robe?”
“I think you left it by the front door.” He remarked, not looking at her.
“Shit. I’m blaming that on you.” He chuckled at that.
She pulled on panties, shorts and a t-shirt. Closing the bedroom door, she peeked out a window. A chaplain and Lieutenant Colonel Devalle stood on the stoop. Her chest tightened. Struggling to catch her breath, she yanked open the front door.
Her husband’s Commanding Officer started to speak.
“No!” She interrupted him, shaking her head in denial.
“He’s—” He tried again.
She sank to her knees, hugged them. She refused to listen.
“Alive.” Devalle finished.
She didn’t move.
“Ma’am.” Devalle reached for her. “He’s injured. Grievously. He’s in the air right now, MEDEVAC-ed from theater, on his way back to the States.”
She just stared at their shoes. Shiny coroframs for the chaplain. Actual shined leather for Colonel Devalle. Different shoes. How odd.
“Ma’am?” Devalle touched her shoulder. She jumped. Looked at him.
“May we come in?” He asked.