View Full Version : Memoirs of a Company Man
Dec 30th, 2011, 07:41 AM
i've hit a bit of writers block with The Survivor, so i decided to switch gears and work on another story that i've had rattling around my brain for a while. so let me start off by saying that this is a work of fiction, the people and events depicted here are fictitous and any similarity to any persons living or dead is purely coincidental. but it would be cool. so i'm going to start off with an ever expanding glossary of terms so people won't get lost.
The Symphony of Destruction: song and lyrics by Megadeth
The Company: slang for CIA
CIA: Central Intelligence Agency
1SG: 1st Sergeant
Q course: qualification course
Green Beanies: slang for Green Berets
Secret Squirrel: slang for Special Forces
SFG: Special Forces Group
SFC: Sergeant First Class
ODA: Operational Detachment Alpha
LTC: Liutenant Colonel
1st SFOD-D: 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta
USSOC: United States Special Operations Command
MARSOC: Marine Special Operations Command/ note: they call it the Marine Special Operations Command, but they still fall under USSOC
Hard Targets: enemies who have some form of cover. whether that's a hard surface to hide behind, or a hostage, they are hard to take down without unacceptable losses.
"Time"... Mark: lets operatives synchronize time peices. saying the time to set it to and then mark tells everyone when to start their watches again.
"But sir, that's Charlie's point" "CHARLIE DON'T SURF": line from apocalypse now
Haaji: slang for a middle eastern man
ATACS: Advanced Tactical Camo System
Mess: Mess Hall
DiFac: dining facility
GP Medium: General Purpose mid sized tent
SSG: Staff Sergeant
TSgt: Technical Sergeant
SMSgt: Senior Master Sergeant
TACP: Tactical Air Control Party
GySgt: Gunnery Sergeant
MSgt: Master Sergeant
CPO: Chief Petty Officer
SCPO: Senior Chief Petty Officer
SEAL: Sea, Air, Land Team
I'm your Huckleberry: line from Tombstone
CQB: Close Quarters Battle
PDW: Personal Defense Weapon
PTT: Push To Talk
GMV: Ground Mobility Vehicle, a suped up High Mobility Multi Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV)
CLU: Command Launch Unit the base unit for the Javelin Missile system
Time is a Luxury: Quote from Enemy at the Gates
AO: Area of Operations
Guardrail: Multi sensor airborne intelligence gathering suite
HVT: High Value Target
Well That was Pretty Ninja: Quote from Medal Of Honor Video Game
203/M203: Rifle Mounted Grenade Launcher
FOB: Forward Operating Base
Thoughts of Us: Line from the monologue of Aldo Raine in Inglorious Basterds
HALO: High Altitude Low Opening
DZ: Drop Zone
Butter Bars: Slang for Lieutenant
SME: Subject Matter Expert
Just like the pied piper
Led rats through the street
Dance like a marionette
The Symphony of Destruction
I fear this title may be somewhat misleading: I didn’t actually come up through the CIA. I am US Army 1SG John Welsh. I joined the Army when I was 18 with ranger school in my contract. I was a dirt eater, a ground pounder; I marched with the Queen of Battle: I was infantry. And after two years of kicking in doors, leading the way, and getting my metal tested like few others, I was given the opportunity to audition for the Green Berets.
I tackled the Q course in one go. Getting a shot at the green beanies at such a young age was not unheard of, but that coupled with my excellent performance in selection and the Q course made me a rising star in the Green Berets, and someone the higher ups felt they needed to keep an eye on.
My first duty station as a secret squirrel was with the 5th SFG, and after a couple years there I moved on to the 10th SFG. I never stopped learning along the way: in the 5th I learned Pashto and airborne assault techniques, in the 10th I learned German and urban warfare. From the 10th I moved to the 3rd SFG where I learned Somali and the finer points of working with Indigenous Forces. After 7 years in special forces I was 27, had attained the rank of SFC and was the Senior Special Forces Medic of ODA 395.
We had just come back from a mission in Zambia where I’d broken my leg: we faced off with a Chinese special forces team and showed them why we were the best in the world, but I got cocky and made a mistake. My best friend at the time and comrade, Devil Driver, saved my life, but it still cost me two months of action. I went up to New York to see some family just before I returned to active duty and when I got back I was called to see MAJ Tomlin, the commander of the 3rd.
When I arrived in his office, there was another man there. He was introduced as LTC Henson and asked me if I wanted to join the Unit: Delta Force. Officially 1st SFOD-D, Delta Force was another piece of USSOC, like the SEALs, or MARSOC, or the Green Berets, they were just more secretive. I jumped at the chance to join the elite of the elites. So after selection and Delta training, I spent another three years doing the do in back alleys across the world. The CIA didn’t come into the picture until my last mission with the Delta’s.
Jan 5th, 2012, 12:30 PM
We got orders to do a job on an oil rig, and we’d be taking in some CIA spooks with us. The gist was: terrorists were holding an oil rig and waving their guns in the air like they were hot stuff, and...
Jan 12th, 2012, 12:51 PM
King wasn’t the biggest soldier I’ve ever worked with, but he was still a very large man, certainly bigger than anyone else present. As such, he was our designated door kicker. The one aspect of door kicking that Hollywood got right was the use of two men. Where space permits, it is better to have your door kicker off to one side so he has time to ready himself to enter, therefore your first man in will on the other side of the door from your kicker to capitalize on the speed and surprise aspects.
King slung his M60 behind his back and drew his pistol as he got ready to kick in the door. When clearing rooms, speed and mobility trump high cyclic fire rate and a large magazine. Phish and G-Man also drew their side-arms as Chief pulled out his screw driver and loosened the handle so the door could be kicked in.
I stood beside King and when Chief was done I nodded to King, “Knock on the door.” King planted his size 13 right next to the handle and the loose door handle shattered, pieces flying all over the bottom landing, and then I was through, followed closely by the rest of the team. We climbed the stairs slowly always making sure to keep an eye on the stairs above. I glanced at my watch, 15 minutes until it was time for us to be gone. We slowed as we neared the top of the stairs and listened: we heard nervous South African voices.
I motioned to Shorty, Deacon, Monkey, and Patches to prep flash bangs, and everyone else to prepare to take down the room. I counted us down from three.
We were up and sprinting into the room, not going for the kills, but instead going to takedowns. There were seven men in the room. Five survived. We tied them up and knelt them down on the floor with ten minutes to spare. I had King and G-Man grab the one who seemed to be the leader and bring him to the section of balcony that looked out over the ocean. I looked him in the eye and introduced myself as Soul sister. He acknowledged me.
I said, “We’re looking for the accounts information you had with you. now, you tell me where it is, and you can walk away. We get to shore, and you’re free to go.” He stood there for a moment, staring at me, then spit in my face. I used my glove to wipe my face, “Suit yourself,” then I pulled my sidearm and shot him in both knees. I grabbed his vest and threw him into the water over 600 feet below.
I pointed to the next one as I looked at my watch. Eight minutes, we had to hurry. They pulled the next guy in line up to me. I made eye contact, “You guys are mercs. You’re not here for some ideological reason, you’re here because someone paid you to make a point. So, you tell me what I want to know, and you can go, k?” he nodded, “Great. Where is the account info you guys had with you?”
He pointed at a wall safe, “Ok, now what’s the combo?” he told me and I had G-Man verify the contents of the safe.
G-Man pulled out a bag with a computer, “Looks like this is it.”
I nodded to the terrorist, “Thank you for your help, unfortunately, there is no room on the chopper.” And with that I put a bullet between his eyes. Four bullets later and we were on our way to the heli pad with the intel. I checked my watch: two minutes. There was a Chinook waiting for us on the heli pad with a ranger squad pulling guard. We were lifting off as my watch hit zero. I walked to the front with the pilots and told them they had five minutes until a bomb went off and he throttled up and moved us out. Five minutes later, nothing happened.
One week later I got called into LTC Henson’s office. When I walked in, I was surprised to see G-Man there with a thick file under his arm. I walked in and saluted, “Sir, 1SG Welsh reporting.”
Henson returned my salute and motioned for me to take a seat, “I think you remember Mr Law.” I nodded at G-Man, “I’ll let him fill you in on the situation.”
G-Man handed me the file. Being in special forces, you learn how to read an intel file, but it still wasn’t my forte. The most I was able to pick up was that there was one man funding a bunch of different organizations. After a minute G-Man spoke up, “I assume you can get the gist of that file. The intel we retrieved from the oil rig confirmed reports that different terror organizations were being funded by one man.” He set a picture on the desk, “This man, Isaak Praskoviya. Old Russian money, old school communist, thinks we’re still fighting the cold war. When his father, Borislav Praskoviya, bailed out of Russia at the end of the cold war, he took about half of Russia’s money with him. They’ve been off the grid ever since, but Isaak has decided since 9/11 that now is the perfect time to get back at the U.S.” He pulled out a list of recognizable terrorist organizations, “He’s been spending a lot of money backing these orgs with only one stipulation: they make it their priority to hurt us.”
I put the file on the desk, “This is all very interesting, but what does this have to do with me?”
G-Man looked at Henson, then back at me, “Well there’s a lot of politicking going into the snatch, the joint chiefs want it to be a military team, but the director of the CIA wants it to be one of ours. Plus there’s some kind of international law dealing with his arrest, still being a Russian citizen. The point is we need to pull in an Army element, and you’re it. Well, you and a couple of other people. You’ll be working with a MARSOC, a SEAL, and a TACP. You’re support will be a CIA team. You’ll get more details on the job when you get to the sandbox, that’s where you’ll meet the rest of the team.”
He handed me my orders, I was on loan to the CIA. No longer was I 1SG John Welsh, I was now Agent Welsh. The orders specified that I would be flying into Bagram, then catching a separate transport to the operation staging area. I looked up at G-Man, “Afghanistan? Where is this guy at?”
G-Man looked up from leafing through the file, “Pakistan.”
Feb 1st, 2012, 07:13 AM
“But sir, that’s Charlie’s point.”
CHARLIE DON’T SURF!
I stepped off the bird and stretched my legs. It had been some time since I’d been on assignment in the sandbox, but Afghanistan still looked like Afghanistan. There was a haaji walking around pushing a food cart past soldiers and every now and then one would stop him and he’d pull out a pre wrapped cold cut sandwich. I hadn’t eaten since I left the states, and my stomach was reminding me.
I pulled a five out of my pocket and walked up to the food cart. When they were on base, vendors took US money because the army would exchange it for them before they left, usually at a little higher than the standard rate as incentive for them to take American money. Plus it kept soldiers from having to hold onto too much muj money. Haaji pulled out a sandwich that looked like it’d been in there days, but I was so hungry I’d have eaten road kill. I ripped the plastic off the soggy sandwich and dug in. it wasn’t the most appetizing thing in the world, but at the time it was pretty good.
From across the tarmac I heard, “AGENT WELSH!” I turned my head and saw a man in a set of ATACs without any kind of unit identifiers or rank. I figured this guy was my CIA contact, so I waved.
He jogged over to me, ignoring the wind from the inbound/outbound C-5s. He slowed as he approached and shook my hand as I continued to munch on my sandwich, “Agent Welsh, I’m Harry Lind, I’ll be your CIA contact in Bagram. I’ve scheduled you a flight out to the staging area, but it doesn’t leave until the morning, so I figured this’d be a good time to get you up to speed.”
I cut him off, “Do you mind if we hit the mess first? Much as I love a soggy sandwich, I just don’t think this is gonna do me.”
He nodded, “Sure thing, follow me.”
The DiFac may not count as 5th Ave fine dining, but it’s nowhere near as bad as most people think going in. Especially for the price. You can get more food, and a more varied and balanced meal, than a supersized Big Mac for about two bucks. Two bucks can generally get you a heaping helping of an entrée, two generously portioned sides of your choice, some type of bread, and free refills on your drink. When you’ve been in the field eating ham and limas, or cheez omelet, the DiFac is 5th Ave fine dining. Especially for the price. What most people complain about is the MREs, and those have gotten infinitely better since I joined. Young people just don’t know how good they have it. Napoleon said an army runs on its stomach, and the Army took notice of that wisdom.
We got to the DiFac and got in line for today’s special, and everyone’s favorite: lasagna. The DiFac doesn’t make the best lasagna I’ve tasted, but it’s still pretty good. We got our chow, got our drinks, and sat down at a table that had a few soldiers already at it. As we were going to the table, I noticed that the whole DiFac was abuzz with one word: Pakistan.
As we sat down I looked over at the young soldiers who were hunched over their trays talking quietly across the table. I leaned towards them and spoke loud enough to be heard over the din around us, “So, what’s the word gentlemen?” As odd as it was for me to be injecting myself into their conversation, I think they thought it was odder that I called them gentlemen.
They sized me up, then the one on my side of the table leaned towards me, “What are you, new?”
I nodded, “Just landed like, 30 minutes ago.”
The soldiers both nodded in understanding and the other said, “Well you picked a bad time to come out to the suck. Word around base is, in a few weeks, we’ll be rolling tanks through Islamabad.”
I slowly turned my head towards Lind as I said, “Reeeeeaaaaally?” He blessed his food and ate his corn, deliberately ignoring me. I looked back to the soldiers, “So, Pakistan huh?”
They both nodded conservatively, “Yeah, word is, they’ve been aiding terrorists launch attacks against American targets. Nothing confirmed, of course, just rumors, but the rumor mill has never been this precise about anything that wasn’t pretty solid.”
I nodded and returned to my food. This wasn’t just extreme rendition, we were going to war.
An hour later I was sitting in a CIA controlled, secure briefing room. Lind stood at the front giving me the whole dog and pony show. He clicked a button and a projector in the back turned on casting an image of Isaak on the far wall. Isaak was mid 40’s with brown hair that had a ring of white at the bottom. He had a neatly trimmed beard that was also white and contributed to the look of the white ring. A large scar streaked from the center of his forehead to the left from when he was supposed to be executed in China. Because the Pakistanis wanted his money, they pulled his bacon out of the fryer on that one. His left eye was also dead, though according to Lind, not from the Chinese incident. Apparently, that was Spetznaz. Somehow Praskoviya had managed to keep his love for his country alive, despite the numerous attempts on his life. That’s when Lind told me that he blamed the west. If it weren’t for the multiple scars, he might’ve been attractive, as it was though, with his physical condition and devoting his life to the downfall of the U.S. he had no family.
Mar 26th, 2012, 01:22 PM
Lind clicked the button again and we moved on from personal history. A map of Islamabad appeared on the wall next. There was a red box around sector two, and Lind clicked the button again and the picture changed to an enlarged picture of sector two with another red box encompassing a street labeled “Street 35.” The picture changed again and this time you could make out buildings. And one of them had an X on it. It was a building on street 35 next to Allama Iqbal Park. Lind pointed to the X, “We have intelligence that this is where Praskoviya is basing his operations. The plan as it stands is that the Navy and Marine Corps will launch simultaneous attacks at Karachi, Omara, and Gwadar. At the same time the Army will roll across the border, straight for Islamabad, blitzkrieg style. We’re going for full on overwhelming force. It’ll take about three hours to reach Islamabad and be ready to go in, during which time the Navy and Air Force will be laying a heavy Shock and Awe style pounding on Islamabad. We’ll be stopping about 3/4s of the way there to top everyone off. They will hold at one side on the edge of the city while you and your team skirt around and slip in. After thirty minutes, the assault will commence.”
He paused to make sure I was following. “More intel will be provided once we are at the staging area and you and your team will plan the incursion into the city and the extraction of the target.” I nodded. “Alright then, we’re on a helo first thing in the morning to Jalalabad, get some rest.” And just like that the briefing was over. I had some time to kill so I hit a few games of ball, and then sacked out. 0500 I was up.
0630 I was in the DiFac when I saw Lind. He was yawning and tired looking. If that’s what would happen working with the CIA, I’d rather stay with the army. I had a steaming cup of black coffee in one hand and a tray with scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast in the other. I walked up to Lind as he staggered through the line and took a deep pull on my coffee. After spending several years drinking the boiling motor oil that passed for autobahn black coffee, army joe seemed rather tame. Not that I was complaining, I used to load my coffee with enough cream and sugar to give an ant diabetes, and blonde and sweet doesn’t look as intimidating as black and bitter.
I drained about half the mug, then smiled at Lind, “Morning sunshine, you look like someone interrupted your beauty sleep.”
Lind yawned at me, bleary eyed, “Agent, I’ve never been a morning person-and is that coffee? Where did you get it?”
I gave him a look of concern and nodded to the coffee. “How long have you been on this base?”
He yawned again, “About two hours longer than you. I don’t normally work off of army bases, in fact this may well be my first overnight stay on a base… ever, so I don’t really know where things are or how the base operates. Also, I normally work at night doing field surveillance, so it’s hard for me to sleep at night.”
I shrugged, “Well, I’ll get you a cup o’ joe.”
Lind called after me, “Two creams, three sugars.”
I held up my cup as I walked away, “Black, gotcha.”
We finished our breakfast and reported to the airfield. Our flight was rolling out at 0730. We walked across the tarmac to where a Blackhawk was warming up, the rotors spinning lazily beneath the radar dome. There were four marines in the passenger compartment a gunner on either side, and two facing each other from front to back.
The whine of the engine picked as we approached. We made it to the open door and I was getting ready to climb in when Lind put a hand on my shoulder. I turned around and he leaned in to yell over the helicopter, “This is where we part ways. The rest of your team will be at the staging area, and another agent will meet you at the tarmac. Good luck agent Welsh, and God speed.” And with that he turned around and walked away. Shame too, I kind of liked Lind.
I turned around and climbed into the Blackhawk as the rotors reached full rotation. I sat facing the front of the chopper and the marine I sat next to handed me a headset. I put it on and heard his voice come through the earpiece, “Agent welsh I presume?” I nodded, “The flight is going to be about an hour and a half, just sit back, relax, and enjoy the tunes.” He pointed at the marine across the troop bay who bent down, pulled an old school boombox out from under his seat, definitely not standard issue, smacked it a few times, then hit play. It was a Vietnam playlist. Every song you ever heard or may have heard in a Vietnam movie was playing off this thing. And it was loud. Loud enough that we could hear it over the chopper.
I chuckled in my seat and the guy across from me smiled and nodded, and that’s when I noticed his helmet: he’d drawn the peace sign and born to kill on his helmet. I cocked an eyebrow and looked around at the other marines: one had animal mother stenciled on his helmet, the only black guy on the chopper had a snowman drawn on his helmet holding its crotch. Snow balls, cute.
I looked over at my bench mate, “So what do they call you?” he looked confused so I pointed to each marine in turn, “Joker, Animal Mother, Snowball, so what do they call you.”
He nodded, “Gomer.”
I saw full metal jacket, I know what happened to Gomer Piles, “Why do they call you Gomer?”
He shrugged, “They say I’m slow.” He shrugged again. I thought about it, he did talk kind of slow. I relaxed a bit. He had a point, might as well enjoy the tunes.
Mar 28th, 2012, 01:26 PM
We landed in the middle of Gimme Shelter. I got off the chopper and Gomer gave me a thumbs up, said something into his headset, and the chopper lifted away for some other location. I walked off the helipad and down into a small portable building with the letters C I A stenciled on the side. Discreet.
There was a soldier standing in front of the door with a gun and a clipboard. I guess rejection from this nightclub was a serious deal. I showed him my ID and told him my name and he ran a finger down the list until he found me, tapped the clipboard, and opened the door for me. I walked in and found six guys sitting around with coffee, talking over some maps. As soon as I walked in, they folded the map and stopped talking. They all looked at me but only one spoke, “Can we help you?”
I felt a little awkward, apparently being on the list doesn’t get you the all access pass, “I’m John Welsh. I’m here about the job.”
They visibly relaxed and the map was unfolded, “Oh, agent Welsh. Yes, come in and grab a seat.” I sat, “We were just discussing the mission parameters.”
They each looked like they had seen more field time than the entire body of the special forces community. These guys looked like they had been doing it since the cold war, and still liked to get their hands dirty. I’m a very tough individual: I’m strong, tenacious, resourceful, fast, everything you need to be a great combat operative, but these guys had a look in their eyes that made me feel completely green again. It was a look that said that they could, and would, kill me the moment I so much as considered getting out of line, and there wasn’t a one that would even think about so much as tossing in his sleep over me that night. Yet they were completely friendly, and that is why they are called spooks.
They passed me a cup of coffee that was blacker than homemade sin. I didn’t think it was possible for coffee to get that dark, or strong, but I drank it. It made me miss autobahn black coffee. They caught me up on the discussion so far: the main force would be coming in from the west, while we would skirt around to the south and enter the city. After that we would be able to call in minor air support, but we would largely be on our own. We would be updated on the positions of the invasion force in case we needed to fall back, but our objective would remain the same.
Along with the discussion were ample amounts of BS. These guys sounded like old construction workers shooting the breeze over beers, except they talked about killing people instead of construction. One told me a story. He had to “retrieve” a Columbian drug lord from the clutches of his enemies so he could be interrogated back at some CIA base. so he snuck into the drug cartels base and got the guy, but somehow an alarm got tripped. So now he had to make his way out without either him or the target catching a bullet. Well, he shot his way to a jeep, hotwired it and drove ricky-tick to the airport where a CIA plane was waiting. They made it in one piece, but only barely. At some point during their escape, the targets shoe had come untied. So they’re walking to the steps of the plane when the target trips and hits his head on the steps and scrambles his brains. Died right there on the tarmac, mission over. His biggest complaint about that mission: he didn’t get his bonus.
So after about an hour of sitting there listening to non-wartime war stories, one of the operatives looks at his watch and signals to the others, “Time to go.” Then to me, “The rest of your team should be arriving in the mission room as we speak.” And with that we were making our way through the staging area.
The whole base was alive, an absolute beehive of activity, every part in its place working efficiently. I missed that buzz in the air that signaled that an op was about to go down, that electric feeling that everyone had but no one could acknowledge or it would be gone. It was better than that coffee I had earlier.
We made our way to gp medium and were waved inside by guards at the “door.” There was a large table in the center of the tent with a battle field map, and 7 other soldiers. The closest of which was a man I knew.
SSG William Roman call sign Devil Driver. I walked up to him to show him some love, “Bill Roman, where the hell did they dig you up?”
He gave me a hug and laughed, “10th SFG my man, how have you been holding up? How’s the leg?”
I patted my leg where the break occurred, “Like it never happened.”
We spent a few minutes catching up while everyone settled into the gp. After a few minutes, Specter, one of our CIA handlers, got my attention and, starting with me, introduced everyone on the team, “This is US Army 1SG John Welsh, call sign Soul Sister, Delta force. His buddy here is US Army SSG William Roman, call sign Devil Driver, 10th SFG.” He pointed to the next man, “US Air Force TSgt Michael Shane, call sign Moon Man, Para-rescue. This is US Air Force SMSgt Joseph Quartz, call sign Dirt Digger, TACP. Next is USMC GySgt George Bailey, call sign Big Dog, MARSOC. Here we have USMC MSgt Kwamie Mbadinuju, call sign Priest, also MARSOC. Next is US Navy CPO Kevin Abernathy, call sign Bugsy, SEALs. Finally US Navy SCPO Richard Halls, call sign Ogre, SEALs.”
After the introductions he brought us to the center, “Alright, so what we’re going to do is plan the extraction.” He dropped a book on the table, “Here is a list of the assets at your disposal, along with the battle plan. Get to it.”
Over the next three days, we planned and prepared. We were ready.
Apr 25th, 2012, 12:22 PM
“Well, didn’t think you had it in you. Shall we?”
I’m Your Huckleberry
“Why Johnny Ringo, you look like someone just walked over your grave.”
I love guns. A man’s selection of firearms when heading into a combat scenario can tell you a lot about a man, and Special Forces tend to get carte blanche when picking their treats from the candy store. Take me for instance, I am a CQB specialist. Put me in a tight space and I am one of the most lethal men in the US Army. I carry a Mk18 Mod 0 with an EO Tech XPS2 Zombie Stopper with an HHS II so I can still reach out and touch somebody, a UTG Deluxe Ergonomic Foregrip, a Beamshot TRIZM R laser and infrared sight and illuminator, and a Surefire V2 Vampire Tactical Light. I also carry a M1014 Joint Service Combat Shotgun with an EO Tech XPS2 Zombie Stopper (you say why, I say why not) and a Surefire V2 Vampire. I am a master of the quick-draw.
My man Bill Roman, aka Devil Driver, preferred to put a little distance between him and his target with his M16 A4 with M203 40 MM grenade launcher, an ACOG, a Tactical Light, and an Infrared Illuminator. We worked really well together. Aside from meshing really well as people, our approaches to combat complimented each other: when the enemy was at a distance he could engage while I advanced, but when we hit a house I was the go to man, speed and surprise, and that’s how I liked it. I was curious to see how the rest of my team filled out.
About the second day into planning the op, the last four guys for our squad arrived. They were all CIA spooks with varying degrees of field experience and specialties. These men are still allegedly active field agents so I will only be giving their call signs. Odin joined the company when they were still committing original sin, he may well have helped Cain dispose of the body. He was missing his left pinky and the first digit of his right ring finger and had more scars than skin it seemed like. The man had to be pushing 60 but he was in better shape than some of my active duty Special Forces team members. What color was left in his hair was blonde and he had these piercing green eyes. Odin killed more men than cancer, and that’s gospel. Odin was one of our weapons specialists and I had a feeling that he had more time on any individual weapon he chose, than the rest of us had on all weapons we’d ever fired. He could knock the eyes out of a jack of spades at 100 yards using his M60. I couldn’t even see the jack of spades at that distance.
The next was an engineer. Mouse was a short guy who looked very scrappy, and unlike Odin, seemed fresh out of the spook academy. He was a little squirrely but I thought that in a pinch, he’d be the one to get us out of dodge. He was scrappy and looked serious, but clocking in at 5’ even, it was a little hard to take him serious. Still, he conducted himself like he knew what he was doing, and I had no doubts that his skill set would come in useful. He was also built for close quarters and for that he carried a Knights Armament Company PDW.
Next I was introduced to Munky, our tech expert. Munky looked like your average computer nerd, except that upon closer inspection it was clear that he was in very good shape and not just some skinny kid with no muscle mass. He wore glasses that seemed too big for him, and his clothing hung loosely from him. His hair was a bit longer than usual and he seemed a little introverted. And he came with an AC-556, with optional leather seating upgrade.
The last addition to my team was Sydwinder, our intelligence officer and sniper. Sydwinder looked like he was on his way to becoming like Odin. He had a bunch of scars crisscrossing what you could see of his skin, but he looked about 20 years younger than Odin. He had a strong jaw with scars running in different directions that indicated he was either terrible at his job, in which case he probably wouldn’t be here, or he had come back from missions that he had no business coming back from. He used a Tactical Weapons Solutions .308 rifle.
Apr 26th, 2012, 12:56 PM
Because you can’t just throw a brand new team into the field, we went and did some kill house training. Then we did some force on force using simunition. Here is my evaluation.
In the kill house we did individual runs first. I took the house down first, moving fast and aggressive. Next was Devil Driver, who decided to take the house down with his sidearm. He was smooth and efficient but also a little cautious, as I knew he would be. Next came Moon Man.
Moon Man was a simple man from the south. He reminded me a lot of another operator I worked with in the berets called Hillbilly. He stood about 5’ 11” with a shaved head and blonde stubble covering his face. Moon Man was a very vanilla guy and wanted nothing more complicated than a Mk16 Mod 0. As soon as he stepped into the kill house, the quiet reserved guy from the briefing room was gone. He attacked the house with a religious fervor, it was not a kill house for him, but a house of worship. Moon Man spoke in tongues as his rifle barked orders for the targets to lie down, every command met with a response. He stepped out and the zealot was gone. I was impressed. If he brought the same fervor to the battle field, he would make an excellent comms specialist.
Next was Dirt Digger. Dirt Digger would be handling our air and fire support, one of the best in his field. He was a fit man with joyous almond shaped eyes and an easy smile. His mother came from Korea and his father from China, so he was short at 5’ 2” but had to be pushing 175 lbs. All muscle. He carried a FN P90 to the starting line. Dirt Digger crouched into a low walk and raced through the house taking down each target in a spray of fire. He took corners smoothly and slammed through doors with his shoulder, putting his mass into it. Every room was an exercise in balancing speed and efficiency.
Next in the pit was Big Dog. He certainly lived up to his name at 6’ 1” and very muscular with tattoos almost from head to foot. His arms had prison style sleeve tats depicting an epic struggle, on one side was good, and on the other was evil and on his body they clashed. Rumor had it that he would make the people he worked with characters in his tattoos, and as they survived they would be fighting victoriously, but if they fell in battle he would memorialize their deaths on his body. I couldn’t help wondering when I saw him changing his shirt once, if I would wind up somewhere on there. You could see where things had been inked over to be replaced with a fallen comrade, or to have someone who got out of the game move off to the side and support away from the battle. His body was an ever changing canvas, and it kept him sane in the action. Big Dog carried a Bushmaster ACR, a balance between power, precision, reliability, and versatility. Big Dog moved into the house with an earth shattering presence. The targets almost dropped before he shot them as he moved through the house like a force of nature, every footstep threatening to bring down the house, the violent presence of his countenance seeming to be the only thing holding it up. He would make a good team sergeant.
After we made sure the house was still structurally sound, we sent in Priest. Priest was a solidly built black man who immigrated to the US from Jamaica. He already earned his citizenship and so now was in the Marines for the love of it. He kept tight corn rows and had random bits of scripture tattooed all over his arms, scripture about everything from trusting in the Lord, to the armor of God, to resting in the Lord. Priest was a calm man and had a tattered bible always in his back pocket. During free moments he would pull it out and read from it, meditating on the knowledge contained within. He was a loving man, who rarely raised his voice and always thought through his actions, no matter how quickly a situation developed, thanks in large part to his genius 170 IQ. The man was brilliant, well read, and one of the greatest men of faith I’ve ever met. He felt his calling was not academia, but service to his country. Priest carried an American classic, the M16A4, an homage to American ingenuity, and one of the best designed rifles in service today. He entered the house at a very calm pace, not reserved, just not hurried. He moved from room to room in the house like he was taking a stroll, each step measured, each shot a bulls-eye in the center of the head. He stayed cool under pressure, he took his time, but everything was spot on. And he was one of the best medics in the field, by far better than me. He could outperform most doctors. In fact, he turned down several requests by the Marines to enter training to become a surgeon.
Next up was our other medic, Bugsy. Bugsy was a good old boy from Chicago, but because of Chicago’s famously corrupt politics, he could no longer stand living there, though he did still love visiting the windy city. Bugsy stood at 5’9” with short brown hair. He was an everyman, decent looks, built, charming smile, you’d think he was a snake oil salesman if you didn’t know he was honest, but his face just had a quality of honesty. He rolled with a M14 Rogue with a full auto mod, allowing him to take out targets at range, while still giving him the edge over other full sized rifles in close quarters. Bugsy’s first occupation was as a sniper, and it showed. He took the house with care and caution. He applied speed where necessary, but he was all about taking it slow and easy. He had one of the slowest times, but still very respectable.
Next was Ogre, our other weapons specialist. Ogre was a big black man from New York. Clocking in at 6’ 5” he stood well above everyone, easily pushing 350 he could knock down walls and kill a man with a punch. Not as massive as another operator I worked with named Barbarian, but still pretty dadgum big. He carried around his M60 like a toy and had it outfitted nearly identical to Odin’s, the only real difference being in name brand. Where Odin was almost half Ogre’s size but could still lug around the M60 without problem, Ogre walked around like it wasn’t there. Ogre had to duck into the house, being careful not to hit his head. He maintained a brisk walk, but with his massive stride it was like he was jogging through the course. He showed a high degree of weapon mastery, a welcome addition to the team.
Then it was Odin’s turn. Odin walked into the house with his M60, and walked through the course like Jason. He never ran or picked up his pace past a walk, but he got the third highest time for the day, and every shot was a kill, in three round burst. His degree of mastery in the house was unnerving, but I suppose that’s what comes with nearly 40 years of covert ops. It was like watching an artist at work; every movement advanced the goal of making the kill.
Next up was Mouse. Mouse had something to prove. He lined up and about sprinted all the way through the house. He double tapped every target center mass without so much as slowing down, reloads on the fly, sliding, jumping, vaulting, climbing, it was like an acrobatics show, a true showcase of skill. I found out later that in his free time he made parkour videos and posted them on youtube. He always covered his face, and took care not to give away his location, but if you knew him, it was obvious. He managed the second best time of the day.
Then Munky went through. Munky was definitely the slowest, and most cautious, but he never put himself needlessly out there either. Skill doesn’t mean a thing if you run headlong into a bullet. Munky may have been the slowest but he always considered the best way to tackle each room, and he still managed what would be considered a very good time in regular infantry units.
Finally, Sydwinder went through. He didn’t use his sidearm like Devil Driver opted, but stuck with his TWS .308. Even with a sniper rifle, he landed right in the middle of the times with only two misses. Not exactly easy, but any of us could go through with a sniper rifle. Still, impressive.
Next we did it in teams: first three teams of four, then two teams of six, and finally one team of 12. Everyone gelled, no egos, no status, no pissing contest, everyone did what was expected, but then I expect nothing less of the best warriors our nation has to offer. I won’t bother with details of the force on force, I already said we were the best in the US.
We loaded our GMVs with everything we might need going into the city, from Javelins to Spider Man Band-Aids (Munkys request). We checked and double checked everything, and then it was zero hour. Time to go. Time to prove to them why we were the men for this particular job.
Jun 28th, 2012, 12:30 PM
The air force had been pounding on Islamabad now for the past two hours as we drove through Pakistan. The Marines were engaging a military force just to the south of us, buying us passage to the...
Jul 11th, 2012, 06:33 AM
Everyone piled out as quickly as possible and tossed every piece of gear we had through the doors and windows of the building immediately to our right. It took us about two minutes to unload the GMVs, mostly because we weren’t being careful with the equipment; we were just trying to move it as quick as possible. When we had everything we needed and most of what we wanted we beelined into the building, and not a moment too soon as the T-80 rolled around and blew the hell out of the GMVs.
We had escaped into a three story Pakistani home that housed multiple families. When we were in our gelling process, we had already broken down into teams.
While standard US Infantry squads break down into three fire teams of four, a special ops team breaks down into two teams of six. This may be viewed as a disadvantage, except that each team can, if necessary, operate completely autonomously from the other team, and even breaks down further into three man maneuver teams. So what you wind up with is essentially two fully functional squads, just a little smaller. Team alpha was myself, Devil Driver, and Munky on the maneuver element, and Moon Man, Odin, and Priest on the fire element. Team bravo was Big Dog, Dirt Digger, and Mouse on the maneuver element, and Bugsy, Ogre, and Sydwinder on the fire element.
As the smoke settled I rallied alpha, “Grab some javelins, we’re going up stairs to see if we can take care of this little tank problem. Bravo, keep the first floor secure.” We went upstairs to the third floor, which was much smaller than the second and let out onto the roof. The six of us spilled onto the roof and helped Odin ready a javelin. I moved over to the edge to see where the tank was now, and that’s when their gunner saw me.
Before I could shoot him, he disappeared through the hatch, closing it behind him. Suddenly the tank started moving , the turret whirring to bring its main gun to bear. I back peddled from the edge, “Uh, we should hurry.” Everyone looked at me, and then worked faster.
Odin got the missile on, and then said, “The CLU is cooling.”
I nodded to the edge of the building and he got up and switched the view finder to IR and started looking for his target. The tank stopped moving but the turret was still going. The CLU beeped to signal that it was ready and Odin worked to sight it in on the tank. He found his target, pulled one trigger, then the other. After a moment the missile launched, just as the barrel of the tank stopped. Odin and I turned and dove from the edge as the tank fired, taking a huge chunk out of the building. And then the javelin streaked down and we were met with a large and joyous “BOOM.”
We walked over to the blown edge of the building and saw that the turret of the tank had been blown clear off, laying upside down next to the tank. my ears were ringing, which is why it surprised me so much when three Apaches flew overhead.
I looked back and pointed at Moon Man, “What’s the word?”
He was listening to his handset intently when he looked at me and gave me a thumbs up, “They’re our support, they say pop smoke.” Devil was on it and Moon Man was back on his handset saying, “Friendly’s marked by red smoke.”
I walked over with Odin, “At least one tank to the west, maybe more.” Moon Man relayed this to the air support who began flying in circles around us. We watched as they located the tank and then fired hellfire missiles until it presumably stopped moving. They made a few more laps around us in an ever widening circle until they found another tank, disposed of it, and determined that there was nothing left to be done. Moon Man gave me the all clear.
It was surreal to suddenly go from pulse pounding adrenaline to calm seas so quickly, and still not be through the most dangerous part of the mission, but I got over it. We headed back down to join the others and found them watching the entrances to the building. I rallied them to me, “Alright, so what did we lose in the GMVs?”
Big Dog stepped forward, “Me and Sydwinder went through the stuff while the others secured the entrances. It looks like we just lost some minor stuff: some MREs, some minor electronics equipment, anything bolted to the GMVs of course,” he grinned as his eyes stopped on Munky, “and Munky’s Spiderman Band-Aids.” Munky hung his head and sighed, this gave us all a good and much needed laugh.
I chuckled for a few seconds, then back to business, “Alright, so we’re good on gear. Mission is still go so, any suggestions on wheels?”
Odin pointed out a window, “You can always count on the Pakistanis to have an abundance of cheap Japanese trucks, I say we ‘requisition’ some transportation. I would suggest 4 trucks if we can find them, help spread out the weight of the equipment.”
I nodded, “Alright, let’s go find some vehicles.” We split the team; alpha would find trucks while bravo secured the equipment. It took about 20 minutes to find and hotwire trucks that had full or nearly full tanks, but eventually we had 4 Toyota pickups of various colors lined up outside waiting for us. 10 minutes later and we had the gear loaded.
We loaded up and wove our way down the streets, keeping our heads down. It took many twists and turns but eventually we found our path. We crossed a bridge and then, at the end of the road, we saw Allama Iqbal Park. We were just one street over from our objective.
Praskoviya’s house was at the end closest to the park, so we would wind up swinging around the end of the block and pulling up into his drive way. We took it easy so as not to spook him, plus the trucks weren’t exactly handling the weight of the equipment well; the shocks were bottomed out.
We pulled up in front of the house and unloaded. I signaled bravo team to circle around and enter from the rear and break squelch when they were ready. We moved fast. Alpha was set to breach in 30 seconds, bravo in 40. Bugsy broke squelch and Devil Driver kicked in the door.
Munky and I were through and in the living room with Priest and Odin close behind. It wasn’t a big house, but there were still lots of places to hide. The living room had a couch, a recliner, a TV a closed door on the right wall and an open doorway looking into the kitchen. I signaled Priest and Odin to grab the closed door while Devil Driver and Moon Man secured the front entrance and Munky and I made our way to the kitchen.
Through the door we went, Munky checking left, “Clear left,” and me going right. There, movement at the other end of the kitchen, a figure stepped around a corner and I snapped to the target, finger on the trigger. Big Dog was staring at me, barrel pointed at my chest, finger equally on the trigger. We recognized each other at the same time and lowered our weapons with a nod. Dirt Digger and Mouse came around the corner after him. On the back wall of the kitchen was a closed door leading to yet another room.
We stacked on the door, Big dog ready to enter, Dirt Digger standing by to open the door, me behind Big Dog, and Munky behind me. Munky squeezed my shoulder, so I squeezed Big Dogs shoulder, and Big Dog nodded to Dirt Digger. The door was open and we were walking through like conga line. I followed Big Dog with my hand on his shoulder until he was clear of my line of fire going left freeing me to hug the wall to the right. It was a study. It had books, papers, a computer, but no Praskoviya.
Sep 21st, 2012, 11:49 AM
Vodka is a luxury we have. Caviar is a luxury we have. <br />
TIME IS NOT <br />
No Praskoviya. We cleared the whole house, ripped up carpet, beat on walls, nothing. He was in the wind. <br />
I threw the TV...
Dec 18th, 2012, 11:29 AM
Munky, who was the first into the stairwell, was leading with his gun and as soon as they walked in he unleashed a salvo of ten rounds, drilling them to the wall. That’s when the third soldier stopped in the doorway.
Munky shifted and fired, but the enemy was already backpedaling through the doorway, yelling. I moved up past Munky pulling out my M1014 JSCS and leveling it at the door. After a few seconds the door opened a crack. As soon as it did I pulled the trigger as fast as I could, peppering the door with shot. There were several yells as the door shut, then several more enthusiastic yells, followed by the detonation of a grenade which kicked the door open.
With my shotgun empty I motioned to Devil Driver and Munky to advance as I switched back to my Mk18 and keyed my mic, “Bravo, hold fire, friendlies coming out behind the tangos, over.”
The fire ceased as Devil moved to the open door way with a flash grenade in hand and tossed it through yelling “FLASH OUT!”
The flash popped and Devil swung through the door and right as Munky went left. Fire resumed as I went after Munky, Odin went after Devil, and Priest and Moon Man went forward. The enemy was disoriented after both the frag grenade and the flash grenade and easy pickings. After a few seconds of confusion, and one tango superman-ing off the roof, we stood alone on the roof.
I stood on the roof thinking while my team walked around and checked the bodies. He wasn’t here. I knew before they told me. He was on that chopper, and we were about 30 minutes too late. My only solace was that maybe we’d be able to get something from the intel we’d collected.
I turned and circled my hand in the air, “Alright boys, pack it up, we’re going back empty handed.” I motioned to bravo team, “Head downstairs and check out the intel there, might be something useful.” Big Dog nodded and led his team through the door we had come through.
Moon Man walked up behind me, as I was looking down at the trucks, “Big Bird is in the AO. They spotted an airfield to the east; it’s small but seems to have a lot of activity. They said there are several choppers and a significant Pakistani military presence. They’ve also spotted several small airplanes.”
I turned, “They haven’t taken off yet?”
Moon man spoke into his headset, listened, then shook his head, “No, according to big bird, it doesn’t even look like they’ve finished preflight checks; they’re not even warming up yet.”
I rubbed the stubble on my chin, “How far away?”
“About 12 kliks east.”
I nodded, “Call command, we’re going to the air field.”
Dec 19th, 2012, 10:33 AM
Gentlemen, we just took an airfield.
WELL THAT WAS PRETTY F***ING NINJA
Getting to the airfield was very boring, and not really worth writing about. It involved a bunch of procedure, and a 30 minute drive. Since some important things did happen, I’ll sum it up: we were given additional names to look for at the airfield, but the main target was still Praskoviya. We were to keep an eye out for Jabruk al Somad, Mahmoud Kalpar, and Sadar al Falani. We were also informed that the airfield had some pretty intense security, but with Big Bird on overwatch, I liked our chances. Ultimately, the decision was deferred to me, as the in field commander, if I felt the intel we had was solid enough, we could come in, or we could pursue Praskoviya and friends. We went to the airfield.
We drove fast, reckless fast, and after about 30 minutes, the airfield was in sight. As we approached we got word that the two planes were warming up. I sent word through Dirt Digger for Big Bird to cripple the planes. From over head we heard a dull but rapid thudding, and a moment later we heard the impact on the planes. Now they knew we were inbound.
I told Dirt Digger to have Big Bird clear the gates for us and they dropped the 120mm howitzer and several 40mm rounds. As we tore through the gates I radioed bravo team, “Move around to the runway and secure the birds,” and after an affirmative from Big Dog I told my Team, “We’re taking the Gatehouse, be ready for heavy resistance.” As we approached the gatehouse, bravo broke off to the left and went around the building, meanwhile we began taking fire from the gatehouse.
Bullets skipped off the pavement that stretched around us, some of them digging into the metal of the truck, but Devil kept driving full speed. Odin, who was standing in the back of Priests truck, began returning fire.
Suddenly we were skidding to a stop and I had the door open and was on the move. Devil Driver rolled out of the cab and around the bed bringing up his M16 with his finger on the 203 and put a 40 mm grenade through the double doors like he was tossing a coke can in the trash. What glass was left in the front double doors skittered across the pavement as the 40 mm detonated killing two, we found out later, and ringing the bells of everyone else on the first floor. And then we were moving as a unit through the double doors, Munky on point.
Munky, who was fluent in Urdu, began yelling for them to lay down their arms, but with the 40, they couldn’t hear a nuke, much less a 5’ 2” kid from Texas. I broke right shouldering my M1014 and placing the biohazard sight on the first guy I saw. He was swinging around a counter brining his AK 103 into play. The problem with shooting right handed is that when you have to turn left, it takes longer to get the gun into play, which is why I am a firm believer in training to be ambidextrous. I’m sure the guy I was sighting down on would now agree, since when I pulled the trigger I blew his mind.
It was like some sick Abbott and Costello routine, the guy I brained with a shotgun shell fell forward revealing a mess on the ground behind him, just as his buddy came around behind him and slipped on his buddies brains, smacking his own head on the counter top. He didn’t move anymore, but I put a shell in his chest just to be sure. What a way to go. It would’ve been funny had it not been so tragic.
I turned back to the room as soon as I had finished with tweedle dee and tweedle dum, but the room was clear. Priest called over that he found some stairs. I walked over and prepped a flash bang. The stairs went up several steps to a landing, then turned and went up the opposite direction. I used my free hand to load two more shells into my M1014, then shouldered it and trained it one handed leading up the stairs. As soon as I saw a clear opening to the second floor, I tossed the flash and ducked back yelling my warning to my team.
And I was up and charging through the door. Two men were trying to clear their eyes and were holding AKs. Four shells later, both were laying dead and there was one other door across the room, a flight lounge by the looks of it.
I turned to call for my team to stack up on the door, when suddenly I felt my left arm jerk slightly, and that’s when I heard the chink of spider cracking glass.
I was on the floor calling “SNIPER!” I was shocked, I’d been shot, I thought. I reached over and checked my arm as Priest combat crawled over to me. Sure enough, blood, it wasn’t spurting though, so at least that was good. I thought.
Priest moved my hand and tore my sleeve to get a look at it. Already I could feel my head clearing the shock of being shot, it wasn’t like going into shocked from trauma, it was more like being surprised, where your mind goes a little blank and you can’t think what to do. Priest finished wrapping my arm and patted the wound (what a jerk), “You’re good Soul Sister, he grazed the inside of your arm. It took a little skin, and some meat, but you’re fine to go on.” I nodded and then motioned Moon Man over. I was fine, but the hand gesture still hurt.
Moon Man crawled over, “I’m going to draw his fire, you two figure out where he’s at.” They nodded, ok so they understood what I was doing; now I had to figure it out. Oh, that’s right; I was trying to get shot again.
I sent them to opposite far corners of the room and they waited. The plan here was that I would pop up into the window, he would sight in on me, and then I would duck, hopefully before I got shot again. When I ducked, Moon Man and Priest would pop up and search that direction for a few seconds to figure out where he was shooting from.
I’m up, he sees me, I’m down, this time I heard the crack of the sniper rifle, the shockwave of the supersonic round passing over my head. Moon Man and Priest were down, another shot, I was rolling. I’m up, he sees me, I’m down, CRACK!
“Got him!” I glanced over to Moon Man, “He’s in the air traffic control tower.” Oh, that explained it. I rolled, I’m up, he sees me, I’m down, I took in the scene quickly, next to the gatehouse was a hangar that obscured the view from the tower of not only the first floor of the gatehouse, but also my team on the tarmac. I rolled.
I’m up, he sees me, I’m down, but Moon Man and Priest were both up immediately after me lining up their shot’s. Priest fired five shots and then stopped, a second and a half later Moon Man fired one shot, “Got him! He’s down.” I’m up.
I stood slowly and pulled my binoculars out, quickly finding the tower, and then the top floor. He was down alright, I could see him from here, sprawled on the console he’d been trying to use to steady his shots.
I glanced back at the stairs and there was Odin, M60 on its bipod, trained on the unopened door. I gave the rally signal and everyone joined me stacking on the door, refocusing our attention.
I shouldered my M1014 and leveled it at the knob, we could probably kick it in without trouble, but I was done expending extra effort. The shotgun bucked against my shoulder as the knob and jamb shattered in a spray of buck shot. Odin kicked the door open as Munky swung in, only to find two martini glasses standing empty on a table and two bodies on the floor. Wait, those guys were alive.
Munky talked loud and clear, “Stay down, no sudden moves, keep your hands where we can see them. Munky and Odin flex cuffed them, then came the bags. we picked the up and put them in their chairs.
I walked over and pulled the bag off of one of their heads. I pointed in his face and yelled, “AYMAN AL-ZAWAHIRI! AYMAN AL-ZAWAHIRI!”
He shook his head frantically, “Sadar al Falani.” I nodded and replaced the bag.
I walked over to the other one and removed his bag, but he was way ahead of me, “Jabruk al Somad, Jabruk al Somad.” I nodded and replaced his bag.
I turned and nodded to Moon Man, “Well, I’d call that a positive ID on two, call it in.” the tarmac had been quiet for a while so I looked out a window: Bravo was laying out bodies and trying to ID them. I keyed up my mic, “Big Dog, Soul Sister, any luck?”
Big Dog looked up to where I was and shook his head, “No, no joy. I don’t think they’re here.”
Suddenly the doors on the hangar began opening.
Jan 3rd, 2013, 11:57 AM
I watched as Big Dog brought his gun to bear on the hangar, “CONTACT!”
The whole team scattered across the tarmac as they doors reached their full width and the whine of a small twin prop whirring up to speed spilled out. Along with four Pakistani soldiers.
I tapped Priest on the arm, “Watch the prisoners.” And then I was moving to the stairs, “Odin, Moon Man, suppress the enemy, Bravo is out in the open. Devil, Munky, on me,” and we were off, tearing down the stairs as the chatter of Odin’s M60 joined the din of gunfire echoing off the buildings outside. We raced to the back of the building and crashed into the door letting us outside.
Raced is a relative term, for someone fleeing for their life, racing can mean a full tilt sprint away from danger. For soldiers running to the gunfire, it means something more like a measured jog where you can maintain situational awareness, and maintain positive control over your weapon. For Special Forces soldiers who are naturally gifted warriors and spend every moment they are not in combat, training and preparing for combat, it usually means a swift jog, borderline run.
I hit the crash bar on the back door and spilled into an alley between the gatehouse and the hangar. At the corner stood a Pakistani with a PKM machine gun who was steady on the trigger. My gun was up and his was down.
People often call suppressors silencers, but this is a misnomer and conveys the Hollywood impression that a suppressor makes your weapon as silent as slitting a man’s throat. Now, while this might be very close to reality for a .22lr, it is a fallacy with regards to anything else. A suppressor suppresses the sound, but it is still quite noticeable. So when I fire my suppressed Mk18, it sounds less like a rifle, and more like Ogre slamming a dictionary on the table, still somewhat loud, but not nearly as loud as it would be otherwise.
Another soldier came out of the hangar at the sound of my gunfire and layed on the trigger, stitching a tattoo of fire along the pavement, and forcing me to dive to one side. Devil Driver, the next one out the door, had his gun shouldered and was sighting down when the man came out of the hangar, and squeezed the trigger. Three red flowers bloomed on the man’s chest causing him to misstep and fall backward, flailing his still firing gun into the air. Two miles away, a 7.62 round shattered a window. This is me kidding.
As soon as I hit the ground I was ready to fire, so I kept aiming at the corner until Devil could clear it. As Devil walked by me, I sensed a foot by my head, and suddenly I was being lifted to a kneeling position. As he passed, Munky reached down and grabbed my harness and helped me up. Once on my knees I got to my feet and proceeded to the corner just in time to see the twin prop roll past us and begin heading down the runway.
I keyed my radio and yelled, “SHOOT THAT THING, DON’T LET IT GET OFF THE GROUND!” as I began unloading my Mk18 at one of the engines. At this point it was already rolling at a good clip, and still picking up speed. Everyone turned and started shooting after the plane, trying to draw a bead on one of the engines. The problem was, that as it moved away, at an ever increasing speed, our bullets were going under or over the wings, and because of limited magazine size, it was difficult to make on the fly windage adjustments. The only ones with a chance were Odin and Ogre, and they didn’t seem to be finding their mark either.
As the plane began lifting off I called a cease fire. I shook my head and swore to myself, two out of four wasn’t terrible for flying by the seat of our pants, but our primary target was still in the wind.
After about twenty minutes we had secured the rest of the air strip and called in a Chinook to haul us out. We were told to hurry up and wait and they’d get to us when they could. In the mean time, Big Bird would stay in range so they could offer fire support if we needed it, but other than that they were being repurposed. So, we were on our own for a little bit and just had to sit there until someone got to us. Down time, now what do we do?
I had Bravo take a break, grab some chow, drink some water, maybe get some shut eye, while Alpha stood watch over the prisoners and guarded the stairs going down to the first floor. After our run in with the tanks, clearing the school, and taking an airfield, my boys had exactly zero juice left, their adrenaline had been tapped and they were starting to get fatigued. Fatigue means sloppy, and sloppy means dead, so it was time to catch a break.
It’s important to understand the flow of combat. Soldiers start on a plateau, usually a little elevated above their resting heart rate, but otherwise alert, maybe a little nervous (ok, always nervous, and usually not just a little bit), and ready for action. Once the action kicks off, adrenaline kicks in full force. Adrenaline is an interesting chemical, for an untrained inexperienced civilian, adrenaline can induce a state of near panic, as the mind doesn’t know how to handle the heightened receptiveness the drug induces, but for a trained and experienced soldier, adrenaline heightens alertness, sharpens the hearing, and heightens the reflexes. The problem with adrenaline is that once it has run its course, the soldier experiences a near debilitating crash. This is usually when the tide of a battle shifts and can result in the famed come-from-behind victories. Food, water, and a quick cat nap are easy and effective countermeasures for dealing with the post combat crash.
After about an hour and a half, Bravo informed me they were feeling refreshed and ready to go, so we switched. I sat down with Devil against a wall in the flight lounge and we broke open some MREs while Munky laid down using his pack as a pillow and nodded off. Priest sat in a corner next to Odin and read from his bible, then prayed, then read, then prayed. It was comforting to see such a man of faith. Odin broke down and cleaned his M60. The man looked as alert as ever and I was pretty sure that he could be napping and none of us would ever know it. Moon Man pulled out some headphones and listened to some southern rock. I know, he told me.
After I finished eating I leaned back and drifted off to a nice nap. After an hour, and with the sun setting, I felt I light tap on my shoulder and I was awake. Moon Man stood over me, “Soul Sister, Command just radioed, they’ve got a bird inbound, said it’ll be here in about 20 mikes.” I nodded and he helped me to my feet.
I stretched a little as I walked into the other room, “Alright, everyone up, we’ve got a bird inbound and we’re out in 20. Let’s get our package ready and rally downstairs in 10.”
15 minutes later Dirt Digger walked over, “Sis, they want smoke.” I nodded to Moon Man who pulled out a canister with a green stripe and indicated it to Dirt Digger. “Roger that Raven 2, deploying green smoke to mark our position.”
Moon Man stepped outside just as the gentle thrum of chopper blades began to filter in through the shattered windows. He popped the top and tossed it onto the tarmac. Dirt Digger talked on the radio for a few more minutes and finally gave me the green signal. I told everyone to move out.
Within 30 minutes we were strolling our prisoners through a FOB set up at the staging area. Right past everyone, and into our little CIA tent.
Jan 10th, 2013, 11:40 AM
And the German will be sickened by us, and the German will talk about us, and the German will fear us. And when the German closes their eyes at night and they're tortured by their subconscious for the evil they have done,
IT WILL BE WITH THOUGHTS OF US THEY ARE TORTURED WITH
We sat in a briefing room located in some nondescript building placed conveniently on scenic Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. Two weeks after the invasion of Pakistan and the CIA and Army Intelligence were still pouring over the intelligence we secured.
We had really come together since the operation in Islamabad. Going into the operation, we had come together as professionals, and experts, to form a highly skilled team that could work together to accomplish the mission, but since we had been through it, above and beyond what we were initially expecting, and had seen each other operate, we had started to come together as a unit, and as friends.
When we got back to our tent in the FOB at Islamabad, our CIA handlers immediately began interrogating our prisoners. It didn’t take long, but it did take a pretty sweet deal to get the location of an airfield at the absolute edge of Tajikistan, one that didn’t officially exist according to Tajikistan. None of that conspiracy nonsense, it was built in secret and never reported by direction of Praskoviya, or so it would appear.
Immediately we were in a Chinook and flying there, only to find we were about an hour too late. We alien abducted some of the airfield bosses and took them back to our CIA brain probers. It took two more precision strike operations to gather the intel to put all the pieces together, and then we were spending a week on our fourth point of contact waiting for the next operation to come down.
Finally, we were called into the CIA controlled briefing room to learn what Langley had discovered from our hard work. We sat talking amongst ourselves for about 20 minutes until an old friend walked through the door.
I turned as the door opened, and there stood Jeremiah Law, AKA G-Man. I laughed, “What are you, haunting me or something?”
He raised his eyebrows with a curious smile and chuckled, “The CIA is like an amorphous alien from a strange world. We adopt a form that will most easily facilitate our business. Since you already know me, I have been selected by the collective to represent our interests.” I must have had the most confused look on my face as he immediately burst out laughing, along with Odin, Munky, Mouse, and Sydwinder, and said, “I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Like the other veteran CIA operatives in here, I’m on the Praskoviya task force, and have been for about three years.” CIA humor, I never quite got it.
“Alright boys, I have been officially authorized to tell you, that you have been doing one hell of a job out there. I mean shazaam. But we’re not done yet. We’ve located one final base of operations and have actionable intel that this is where we can find Praskoviya, or at the very least find out where he’s gone to ground.”
G-Man threw up an aerial photo with some markings made on it. It was a compound on the Coast of the Black Sea near Gudauta in Georgia. The compound was fairly large, almost like a military base, and was very remote.
G-Man circled a point further along the coast on the smart board, “This is your insertion point, you’ll HALO in and infiltrate from the North West. This is an eleventh hour operation, we don’t know a lot of specifics about the base other than what we’ve picked up from the sat photos.” G-Man began circling different buildings in the compound, “This looks to be a garage, from the sat surveillance we’ve determined that this is a cafeteria, this building over here looks like an armory and this one next to it looks like a training house, we see arms coming out of this one going into this one and going back, so be mindful if you see a lot of people going for this building, you may be compromised. These three buildings are barracks, this one looks like the staff quarters, cooks, janitorial, stuff like that, this one looks like the guard and training quarters, and then this smaller one looks like it’s for the more important people on the compound. This is where you’re going to want to look for Praskoviya.”
G-Man started drawing lines connecting things, “From the DZ you’ll move along the coast to the compound. Once you infiltrate the compound, you’ll need to secure a means of escape and secure the principle. If Praskoviya is not on site, you’ll need to secure any intel you can, and anyone you think might be able to shed some light on this conspiracy we’ve stumbled upon.” He pulled out a thick manila folder and dropped it in front of me, “The details are all here, you guys plan the op, I’ll be here to answer any questions.” I nodded.
Special Forces don’t operate like other units. Other units are assigned a mission and told how to do it, some planner sits with aerial photos and maps and plans an op and then sends the specifics to the unit that’s carrying it out. Spec Ops crews are given a mission, an objective, the parameters of the mission, and then told to make it happen. Because of the level of experience and skill present in Special Forces soldiers, any planner who tried to properly plan a mission for a SF unit would under utilize them, as has always happened in the past. It’s kind of like the joke that’s told to butter bars fresh out of west point: how do you hoist a flag up a ten foot pole with a five foot rope? Tell your platoon sergeant to do it, come back in an hour, and don’t ask questions.
We distributed and passed around the materials and began to formulate a plan. First and foremost, stealth was at a premium, we had to be quiet, and we had to be quick. To that end, we would all deploy with suppressed side arms and primaries, where applicable. We would be splitting up to accomplish speed. Bravo would hit the motor pool to secure us transport, and disable the others, then move over to lock down the barracks and prepare to ambush, in case we tripped the alarm, while Alpha would rig the armory with C4, and then move to the other barracks to secure the principle. We moved out at 1930 hours.
0030 hours local we were flying in the back of a C130 over the Black Sea. It was rather loud in the back of the plane so we didn’t talk much, but we were prepped. We were all HALO qualified, but for most of us, jumping wasn’t our preferred method of insertion. My personal favorite has always been fast rope from a Blackhawk. Except for Moon Man. Being para-rescue he jumped constantly, and was just as at home plummeting through the air as he was watching a game with a beer.
Next to me, Priest bounced in his harness reading through his Bible. I swear, in the many years I’ve worked with him, I’ve never seen him read anything else. We were nearing the DZ and the guys were starting to rouse, checking gear, checking each other, checking gear, then checking gear again. When you’re jumping from 35,000 feet, you want to be pretty sure.
I looked up from the deck across the bay to Munky, who had this cat-that-ate-the-canary grin. I smiled and yelled to be heard, “What are you smiling about?”
His grin grew wider, “Right now, all across America, gamers are having a wet dream about this very moment.”
I, and everyone else that could hear him, balked, “Don’t tell me you’re one of those gamer geeks.”
He shouted, “BATTLEFIELD LIKE A BOSS!”
Everyone laughed, and Priest spoke up with a smile, “You know that right now on the East coast, it’s 1530, right?”
This garnered more laughs, “Whatever, in a few hours they’ll be having a wet dream about this.”
Bugsy was a few seats down from me and he spoke up, “Don’t you get enough of that in your day job?”
Munky hollered back, “Nah, it’s just for fun, although I do get a little pissed. I’m a boss in combat, but on Battlefield, I’m lucky if my KDR breaks even.”
I felt a tap on the shoulder, our flight attendant bent down so I could hear, “We’re nearing the DZ, jump in 10.”
I missed whatever Munky said next, but apparently it was ridiculous enough that even Odin was cracking up. I smiled, then stood up to get everyone’s attention, held my hand up next to my face, palm outward, then slowly turned my hand onto my face covering my mouth and nose. Masks on.
Then I secured my oxygen mask in place as one by one the others performed the action back and then secured their masks. Game time.
We rode in silence for several more minutes until our airman at the rear held up a five. Five minutes. We all stood and started shuffling to our positions. The airman started unlocking the back ramp and after about a minute it was open and you couldn’t hear anything anymore. I keyed the mic in my mask, “Mic check.” Everyone responded. The airman threw up a three zero, which I relayed over my mic, “30 seconds.” Go.
Now I was free falling. I tumbled end over end, just letting myself fall, until I was clear of the planes backwash, then I leveled out and checked on my squad. They were all in freefall. Since Moon Man did HALO jumps on his way to breakfast, he would be the highest, keeping an eye on everyone else for any problem. Gotta love the SME.
We fell for minutes. 35,000 ft is a long way down, and we didn’t want to open high to reduce the risk of being seen from the ground, so we had to fall a while. I checked my altimeter: 20,000 feet. 15,000 feet. 10,000 feet. 5,000 feet. 2,500 feet.
I pulled my cord, and all of my inertia went straight to my crotch. I was fairly certain I wouldn’t be having kids any time soon. I looked up at the rest of my squad, all opening successfully. And then I saw Munky go plummeting past me, fighting with his chute.
Like a rocket, Moon Man was in hot pursuit, dropping like a guided missile. He performed a controlled midair tackle into Munky’s back and tumbled with him for a moment fighting with his chute. I watched Moon Man wrap his legs around Munky and then go for his knife. He struggled and twisted, working the back of the pack, trying to free the chute. They were quickly running out of sky.
Then, Moon Man pushed Munky away, starting the chute manually, then fell free to let his chute deploy fully. Moon Man fell a few more precious seconds as he sheathed his knife, then flared his body as his chute deployed. Gotta love the SME.
A few minutes later we had all made it to the ground, and Munky was severely shaken. He couldn’t even stand yet. Moon Man and Bugsy were checking him out to make sure he was ok. After making sure the rest of my men were ready, I walked over and extended my hand to help Munky up.
He looked up at me, so I asked him, “Game enough for you?”
Jan 28th, 2013, 01:18 PM
He rolled over and puked. I put a hand on his back until he rolled back over, “There, all out of your system?” He nodded, “You’re not gonna compromise the mission?”
He shook his head, “I’m good Sis. I’ve only done 7 HALOs, never in combat, and none of them have gone that wrong. It threw me a bit, but I’m good to go.”
I nodded, “Everyone up?” my headset rang back to the affirmative. “Gear up; we’re Oscar Mike in 30.”
I almost wanted to go over the plan one more time, but there was no need, it wouldn’t do any good and would only betray my own case of the nerves. It’s usually perceived as a bad omen when the first leg of a mission almost ends in disaster. But these guys were (and still are) professionals, and if they can’t get it right, no one can.
Priest walked over to me, “Soul Sister, before we move out, I would like to gather everyone and say a prayer, if you would allow it.” At that point I’d have taken every bit of help I could get, so I called everyone over. Priest had us gather in a circle and put our arms on each other’s shoulders, “Our most gracious Heavenly Father, we come to you this day to ask your blessing. Lord, we do not wish to take the lives of these men; we wish instead that our mission here may be accomplished without bloodshed, but we know that may well be impossible as we live in a fallen world. Father, grant us safety as we seek out to complete our mission to protect the innocent from their oppressors, grant us wisdom to complete our mission with the minimal violence and bloodshed, and steady our hands, so that if it should come to violence, our aim will be straight and true. We lift up this day to you, and I lift up all of these men, we give you blessing for this glorious day. In Jesus name, amen.” I remember this prayer the most clearly of everything else from that mission. It is a true soldier’s prayer.
Priest’s prayer was very sobering. Monkey no longer looked ill, everyone looked calm, I even felt calmer. It was time to go to work.
My breath misted in front of my face as we watched and waited for the patrol to pass. The wall extended down to the beach and then cut along the water line to a dock where there were guards posted, and then continued on the other side. There were two guards on the dock facing each other talking. I considered neutralizing them and entering the compound that way, but the patrols checked in with them, and it seemed like there was one out every 15 minutes or so. We were quick, but we didn’t want to be rushed.
We came up to the wall behind the kill house and looked over just in time to see the patrol of four round the corner and proceed along the west wall. We had to be quick. We moved to the wall and Big Dog and Ogre put their backs to the wall and provided a leg up for Devil Driver and Mouse. Devil reached the top with a pair of tin snips in hand and cut the concertina between two of the posts. Then he and Mouse used gloved hands to retract the wire and duct tape to secure it.
Devil and Mouse were both pushed up so they could straddle the wall facing each other. Every man then took a running step, planted their foot in the hands of Big Dog or Ogre, and was hoisted over by Devil or Mouse. We vaulted the wall in quick succession, two at a time, until everyone made it over and Mouse and Devil dropped off the wall. 7 minutes from start to finish.
We reformed teams, I waved the go signal to Big Dog, and we were off. Off to the races. Alpha went west while Bravo went east. We approached the corner of the kill house that the patrol went around and I peeked my head around. All clear. We moved around following the wall and keeping a careful eye on the corners to the front and rear. There was some gravel underfoot which, despite the Groucho walk, sounded like your neighbors upstairs stomping in at 0300 in the morning. At least to us.
The Groucho walk is a technique used by military and law enforcement to create a stable firing platform when on the move. It utilizes the legs to absorb shock from movement and keep it from transferring to the weapon. A bonus of the technique is that the operator can use the foot roll, where the operator rolls his foot to the outside, and reduce noise from walking as well. Sometimes you wind up on carpet and nothing can hear you. Sometimes you’re on gravel and the dead are popping out of their graves to tell you to keep it down.
We approached the other corner of the kill house and I peeked around to make sure it was clear. Nothing there. We moved across the small expanse to the armory to find the door so we could set the weapons to blow. We walked around the building until we found the door, locked up tight. Devil motioned me over, “Soul Sister, I need you to grab my tools out of my bag for me.”
I walked over, “They in the same place they always were?”
“Yup, second and fourth.”
I unzipped the second and fourth pockets on his assault pack and pulled out two small kits, one labeled “LOCKS” and one labeled “HARD LOCKS” and handed them to him. He cocked his head back, “I need the bolt cutters too, there’s a padlock here.” I unstrapped them from his pack and handed them forward.
Devil set his lock kits in a pouch attached to his vest and worked the bolt cutters around the curve of the lock, applied pressure, and the cutters did their work. He handed them back and I re-strapped them to his pack. He pulled out his lock kit and opened it up, then bent down so the knob was eye level. He pulled out a small flash light and shone it into the lock, then sighed and put that kit away. He pulled out the hard locks kits and opened it up.
From inside he pulled out a titanium shim, a hammer, and several other tools I didn’t recognize. I walked over to the corner to make sure we were good on time, and then I heard a thud from the door. I turned back and he had broken the jamb apart with the shim. I shook my head; clearly the hard lock kit was the bigger hammer solution.
And then the door was open and we were moving in. Munky, Devil, and I swept the armory with our side arms, but there was no one inside. Devil Driver swung his pack off as he knelt and set it on the ground. He held up a hand with all the digits extended and spread and whispered, “5 mikes, I’ll have this place rigged properly.” Properly meant: nothing but the foundation left. And then only if it was a good foundation.
Munky and I walked outside to help watch the perimeter, and found Moon Man hoisting Priest onto the roof. Once up, he stayed low and swept the area from his vantage point. Over comms I heard, “Patrol on the move, 10 mikes out.” This presented a slight problem.
To the casual observer it would seem that we had five minutes until they arrived, but line of sight doesn’t work that way. We had 10 minutes before they reached our position, but any strange noises, or odd shadows, would bring them around much quicker. In five minutes, we could have a running gun battle through the camp because someone caught a glimpse of us. We wanted to be long gone before they got anywhere near us.
“Devil, you hear that?”
“Affirmative, gonna double time, be out in two mikes.”
I motioned Munky over and dug through his pack. I found what I was looking for in a side pouch: industrial strength double sided adhesive. I peeled the wax paper off of one side and placed on the mating edge of the door. Devil walked out and I peeled the other side and shut the door, as Priest reported, “Patrol, 75 meters, north east, seven mikes out.”
I rallied everyone to me, “Priest, did you check the path forward?” He nodded, “Good, it looked clear?” Another nod, “Alright, I’m on point, and remember: ROE is to engage only when absolutely necessary, we don’t need to fight our way out if we don’t have to.” Nods all around. Good, now to continue the mission.
I stepped around the corner of the range, between that building and the staff quarters, and moved slowly along the wall to minimize my profile. I approached the corner of the building and glanced around to see if it was clear, and saw three soldiers walking around the corner of the cafeteria.
I jerked back around the corner and held up a fist, which then immediately transitioned to an open palm pointed down leveled at my hip. Stop and low. I crouched down and fished a small compact out of my cargo pocket, a woman’s foundation kit, and opened it. There was no makeup inside, but there was a mirror, and I slid that mirror around the corner, at about ankle level, and wiggled it around until I found the patrol. I whispered into my mic, “Patrol, 15 meters, north, wait one.”
I continued to watch for a few tense moments. This wasn’t the patrol Priest spotted, that was a wall patrol; these guys were patrolling between the buildings. Priest must not have been able to see these guys because they were hidden by the cafeteria. After several seconds, their course was clear, they were going around the range, the long way, which meant they wouldn’t be heading our way just yet.
I stood and put the compact away, then leaned out a little so I could watch them more clearly. They disappeared around the corner and I gave the go signal. Now we had to be quick, we were in the path of a patrol. I stepped softly but quickly. My Mk 18 was slung across my back and I had my P99 DOA in my hand. I could feel the sweat sliding down my face despite the cold.
We moved between the guard quarters and the cafeteria, and hugged the cafeteria wall. At the end of the path we were on, I could see a round building that seemed to be the center of operations here. There was an alley on the right that separated the guard quarters from the officer quarters.
We came to the alley and looked down it to clear it, and saw a screen door hanging slightly ajar. I motioned for Munky to follow me, and then for everyone else to maintain over watch while we investigated. We walked side by side down the alley, guns trained on the screen door, walking swiftly, but cautiously.
We walked up to the door and saw a closed door on the other side of the screen door. I grabbed the handle and slowly pulled it open, trying to reduce noise. Munky reached in past me and slowly turned the handle, and when it gave he looked at me and nodded.
“Soul Sister, Moon Man, patrol, 30 meters, west, approaching.”
I glanced down the alley and saw my team huddled at the corner, “Door’s open, come on down, we’re going in.”
A few seconds later my team was walking through the door and into a kitchen. I used to have an aunt who lived in Texas. She inherited her house from my great great great grandpa who settled the land before Texas’ war for independence. He built that house with his own two hands, and developed that land into a prosperous farm. It never recovered from the dust bowl in the dirty thirties. That’s what I thought about as we walked through the door into the officer quarters. It was an intense sense of displacement.
We walked in quietly and cleared the kitchen, closing the door softly behind us. We spread out and explored the several offshoots from the kitchen, but the one that looked most promising led to a small foyer with some stairs.
Suddenly we heard a loud thud upstairs and some shuffling, and finally some footsteps accompanied with some hurried talking. Priest speaks Georgian fluently so he translated to me, but he missed the first part.
”ჩვენგვჭირდებაგადაადგილებააღჭურვილობაშევიდაCa nada, before the whole operation dissolves entirely.”
I glanced at Priest, but he was sure his translation was right. Two men came down the stairs as we hid in the shadows around them, “Praskoviya needs the equipment, but those Americans keep intercepting our outposts.” They turned off the stairs and headed for the door, “There is even suspicion they know of this place. We need დატოვოსდადატოვოსსწრაფად.” Their voices became unclear as they went out the door, and were greeted by the patrol we were dodging.
We needed to follow them and keep listening. Praskoviya clearly wasn’t here, but these guys seemed like our HVTs.
We walked across the foyer to a closed door and I opened it and stepped inside.
There were three men sleeping inside. As we entered they began to rouse, but Odin, Priest, and myself drew our knives and dispatched them silently.
“დასადუნდაწავიდეთ? რუსეთშისადაცჩვენნადირობენ? Or perhaps to Europe, or South America? We have nowhere to go. No, our course is to contribute to the operation as planned from here. If the Americans come, they may come.”
We rushed to the window and opened it as silently as possible, letting Priest slip out first followed by myself and then the rest of the squad. We followed them to the operations center where the patrol broke of and went to a side door, and our HVTs went in and up a set of stairs.
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