“Five Minutes!” The sound of the Jumpmaster rang out in the cargo area of the C-130.
In the plane, the men of Second Section, Team Epsilon of NATO’s Hunter Cadre stirred. And grumbled.
“Damn it… messing with my beauty sleep.” Hayseed groused as he got off his back and the packs.
“Like it ever helps, Hayseed,” The voice of Tiny, the team’s biggest (as in broadest) man, tossed out. “I don’t think anything can help you…”
“That’s not what your woman said; she-“
“.. she said she was stunned by how small you are and how could any woman outside a doll even feel it… Don’t deny it, she took pictures.”
Laughter reverberated as Hayseed tossed a ration pack at the explosives man. “Very funny…”
I shook my head at their antics. Every mission, this ritual happened. Either ‘tween Tiny and Hayseed or Me and Tiny or the Lieutenant and Tiger. A way to get rid of jitters… at least before an op.
And especially before a jump. No sane man jumps from a perfectly good airplane… unless there is a couple hundred other guys with him.
In our case, there was only eight of us- the afore mentioned guys, Abdul the Turk (all seven foot of him) and the two SAS-types Scotty and Irish… and as a Black Ops team made up of volunteers from the USSOCOM and the 22nd SAS of the UK, sanity really was questionable anyway…
Checking each other’s snaps, tethers and packs, we gave the Jumpmaster a “thumbs up”; we were ready.
* * *
Ready for what, you may ask?
Well… when the UN and Nato finally intervened in Kosovo, the first really good bits of info came out into the harsh light of public eyes over some of the lovely atrocities being committed against the Muslims and other residents of that rather mountainous portion of the former Yugoslavia.
Of course, those acts predictably enraged more than a few folks… but no open mandate was given to respond. At least *openly*.
Ye know… You can say what you want about Slick Willie Clinton; he does know right from wrong occasionally, despite what the newsies say. Putting out an Executive Order detailing the need to help bring the butchers- or at least those that gave the orders- to justice, he gave us a rather distinct job
Or at least deliver the verdict personal-like.
Other members of NATO agreed… which is why we have the make-up we did. Me, the LT and Tiger were Seals; Tiny and Hayseed were Green Beanie and Ranger respectively; Abdul the Turk was from their version of the SAS and the two Brits were, of course, the Real SAS.
This was to be our fifth mission together; the first one being something of a bust some ten minutes short of the drop and the rest mostly quiet affairs gathering intel. This one, we got the clearance to do some legitimate house-cleaning… and tackle one of the known butchers scouted the previous mission.
Oh yeah… this was going to be real interesting. It’s not often a soldier gets to go after a fuck like this guy- a real baby killer too- but when it happens, I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t do his best to cap the bastard. So of course he’s wanted alive.
Which is why we were going in… Oh yeah, we were ready. Not a single one of us (including Abdul, who was a hard-hearted bastard too!) thought this guy deserved to live free… so we spent the last two missions looking for his sorry puss. And this one was The Mission.
This fuckhead comes with us or earns a Nine-Mil getouta-jail pass. No in-betweens…
We all readied for the leap into the air, first man out being Hayseed followed by Tiny, The LT, Abdul, Scotty then me and Irish together.
A very pregnant pause… then the light went Green. “Go GO GO!!”
And out we went…
I should have known there was going to be a problem with this drop; too many things had gone right enroute to it.
Favorable winds, dark as Sin night, perfect Canopies… Nope, everything was going right; which meant Mr Murphy was looking for something to fuck up on one of us.
AS I got closer to the turf below, I reached down and popped the quick release for my gear bag. Hearing the satisfying “click” of the snap, I began to picture in my mind what was to come next.
What came next was distinctly not on the Schedule of Events… as my bag struck something- rather someone- below.
“<Hey, What the he->”
I landed and immediately tucked as I released the chute from my harness. The low shouts and the scurry of booted feet on the dirt-n-rock terrain only made my desire to get my USP out… or at least my damn knife.
Snatching out my blade, I saw the outline of a Kalashnikov-wielding son; not anyone of us. So realizing I needed to do something before he thought about ripping me in half with that thing, I whipped my knife at him and hoped for the best.
The knife flew true, I was to discover later, as fear does occasionally do neat things with one’s accuracy. But as I tossed, I immediately saw I was in a bigger world of hurt as this guy’s buddies were nearby.
But not long for the world as a bit of Arabic was called out into the night (Abdul’s voice, I think) and the low stutter of the LT’s SD5 and one of the SAS Sterlings dropped the guy as he turned.
AS I scrambled over to the pack, my pistol out, I head out of the darkness the challenges we had agreed upon before take off.
“Grunt” I heard Hayseed call out quietly.
“Swabbie” came Tiger’s reply as the short Filipino weapons man slithered out of the dark near me, his M4 up and scanning.
Hayseed slipped into a kneel next to me as I got my own M4 out. “Told you packing that thing in the pack was gonna be the death of you, Archer.”
“Yeah yeah… but not this time. It’s why I keep you around.” I was not amused by Hayseed’s needling but the M4/203 combo was a pig to carry and I liked being light when I landed in case I had to move.
Like this time.
The LT appeared like the Phantom of his call-sign. “I believe this is yours, Jim.” He said as he handed me my knife.
Irish commented from the darkness. “Bloodly nice throw, mate. Right between the eyes…”
“Yer kidding,” I said as I shouldered my pack, with all the extra toys and the retrieval kit.
“No he isn’t Jim. Nice toss…”
The LT nodded. “You’re welcome.” Looking up at the rest, he motioned. “Ok… lets get a move on.”
As we moved out, I thought about that throw. I suck at darts… and throwing knives I am not even that good… but I managed to hit and kill the guy. Right handed too… and I’m left handed.
If I was a superstitious sort, I might have worried about that kill… but I wasn’t and I didn’t.
((End part one))