After I spoke with Gunny, I could say I was pleased. Very pleased…
She had gotten on the Company Net and raised Fisk to tell him that we appeared to have managed. He in turn told her he was shaking loose 1st Platoon as well and if he could convince Battalion, a platoon of tanks since the Indiantown Gap thrust had made it to Harrisburg not long after we left.
Their arrival allowed him to try and send after us. There still were no airmobile assets, as they were tied up with something north of the city up by the Rockville Rail Bridge and over at Duncannon, even further north. In any event, the presence of man-portable surface to air was something that would hinder use. Daytime would be the earliest he knew we ‘d get it. But Roach and crew would be here within the hour, hopefully.
But the news of reinforcement on the way meant we had to hold, which was the downer part. Or find something more defensive in nature as here was not exactly the best option. The houses across the field were actually a much better option. 150 meters in the dark was a bitch but if they couldn’t see you, they couldn’t shoot you. Always a plus in this environment.
The decision to move… wasn’t hard. But I had to send like a third of my combat strength to secure a house or houses over there. And the choices… were difficult and not wanting to dilute firepower was a thing. But I also needed to stop wasting time- the Other Side was going to grow balls any minute and make moving moot.
“Fuck it…” I muttered and looked at Gunny. “Abuela, take Reed’s squad and your brood across the way. Those two condo rows in the middle there… secure ‘em. Better spot than here. We can watch the bozos here alright; Not enough building here for my liking.”
“Understood… Jefe, those buildings aren’t much better.” She replied as she motioned her troops to head for the Uparmored vehicles. “It’s light construction…”
“I know… but they are a little more proof against bullets and there’s furniture to get in the way too,” I replied. “Anything helps… and its more than here.”
A nod. “Ok. Be ready to move when I call you, Jefe. We only get to do this once, Si?”
“Don’t have to tell me twice…”
At that, Gunny and her crews jumped back in their vehicles and hauled ass over to the aforementioned buildings while I had available hands get ourselves ready to un-ass. Reed had half her squad beat feet across the strip to support Gunny. It was dark and where they crossed, the low light plus cammies benefited them from being seen too easy, if at all. If the other side had night vision, all bets were off.
Just then Li’s voice came over the comms. [Senior, the otherside wants a say again…]
Shit. I called back to her. “See if you can keep them honest for another three minutes, Li. We will be ready to scoot then.”
[Sure…] was her reply. [Wish I had a Barret though. They have light armor with them now. Two BMP.]
This night was getting even more fun. “Noted. Update me when they start to close. Football field soonest.”
Turning to Josias, I made a decision that I was sure to catch shit about later. “Joe, how many AT4 do you have?”
The Mennonite paused. “Three. Why, may I ask?”
“Gimme two; I’m about to do something Gunny will give me shit over…” I replied. “Bimp is inbound and you guys need the covering fire. I also want you to take the prisoners…”
Josias nodded. “I understand, Senior. They will be watched like a hawk does a mouse before the stoop.” He said. “And make sure you don’t miss. Its my understanding amor does not like being shot at with anti tank….”
A chuckle; a Mennonite joking? What was this world coming to? “You think?”
A quick transfer of equipment and I told Johnson to go with McCade. He had the space on his vehicle and would put himself with Gunny if something happened to my dumb ass. Some shooting began as Li began to pick off a few and the MG on 3-6 opened up some. The weapon troops also began to fire, a few controlled bursts to make the other side pause a bit.
I had both AT4’s to hand when I got to the building corner. A glance to Reed as I prepped the launcher. “MA2, pass the word. The moment I fire this fucker, I want everyone moving. Gunny will have the houses ready by the time you get there, if they aren’t ready now…” As I said this, I head Gunny across the network indicated buildings taken. “…whiiich they are now.”
I could hear more shots coming from the advancing DCP troops…. Of which I think more than a few were actually Russian. Lifting the launcher to my shoulder I waited a minute. After a quick peek to see where that BMP was, I looked behind me to make sure backblast was clear. It was then I noticed Reed had grabbed the other launcher. “Goddamn it…”
“Not gonna let you have all the Fun, Senior…” She said with a silly-ass grin as she opened the sights on the weapon. “As you’ve said, don’t have your troops do anything you aren’t prepared to do- and you won’t get a second shot otherwise if you had to do it yourself. So let’s Get to work- times wastin’…”
“Damnit…” She used my own words on me. Ah well. Returning to the task at hand, I peeked one more time, saw where I needed to see…. And then at the count of three, ducked back out with the launcher up. Acquired target… then fired.
The missile- more like a really big anti-armor grenade attached to a rocket, sped from the launcher and lit the night air with its exhaust as it cleared the tube. Flying more or less true, the warhead impacted with the oncoming BMP and detonated, cleanly slicing into the machine’s armored front and killing the APC fully as its turret popped like a zit.
The BMP behind him saw where we fired from and was just slewing its turret around when Reed’s rocket hit him. This one was a little high but struck the vehicle turret, wrecking it like a tin can to a shotgun….
“Time to go!” I called and we ran for the hatch of the Stryker. Brand was ready for us and pausing to let the last of the Weapons team on board, he tooled over to the end of the building to get Li. And she was there the moment he stopped. Jumping on top of the Stryker, she was caught by one of Reed’s men and helped inside as Jake floored it.
The other Strykers were already across the runway and in positions to provide covering fire as we raced across the strip and open ground. Jake did the smart thing and zig-zagged some… which had the benefit of dodging an RPG. And detriment of making me want to lose my dinner. If I had eaten, of course… which come to think of it, I hadn’t.
It was a good thing we left where we were. The other side had mortars. Well, light ones, judging by the small explosions on the building we departed from. This was going to complicate matters… and really make for a long half hour or so.
If Roach got off quick. Army Bureaucracy gotta be no different than Navy… though I’ve seen more Army officers willing to gamble if lives on the line. And ours definitely were….
We dismounted behind the houses and Jake set the Stryker up for a quick evac. The MP5 was now slung on my back and I had my AR to hand. It was strictly a Semi Auto job I brought with me when I came down the mountain in March and unless you knew what to look for, it was hard to tell otherwise. TF Lancaster let me keep it as it freed up a normal rifle for someone else… and it used the same rounds as everyone else. In a pinch, I too could do the Designated Marksman thing ‘cause of my ACOG. Not the best for it… but right now, beggars can’t be choosers.
I got inside and found Gunny, noting the light amount of troops. “Where is everyone?” I asked as I looked at her quick reloading a magazine.
“Jefe, I spread us out some. In here, next door and the building behind us. I have Li there with her rifle. This way, she’s the last to leave if we have to move. The second squad fire team is in the building in front of us. I’d like one of the SAW’s up there too- they might need the fire power.” Gunny was all business in describing where everyone was placed. She knew her shit. “They are the point of our stand… and well, we get to cover them if they gotta fall back.”
“Good deal. We just gotta worry about their light mortars… they lobbed a bunch at the last location…” I commented. “These buildings look strong enough to take some hits, but they are still going to be a problem.”
“Si, they will… but here’s hoping where they shoot from can be seen. Those little mortars have no range..”
“That’s a hope…” I replied as I held up my rifle. “I’ve something for when they do…. What’s ETA?” Weapons’ fire was heard across the way where we were. Seems like the DCP found their balls for sure.
“maybe thirty minutes by now. Kingpin said he was sending help right away.” She replied. “And everyone has been told to hold fire as long as possible other than Li.”
A grimace. “Thirty minutes… its gonna be a long half hour…”
And for the first five of it, it was relatively calm. The DCP bombarded the last site several more times before sending what looked like about two platoons of troops to assault it. For me and the rest, it was a study in how they moved and functioned…. And I confirmed my suspicions about who was out there. Very Deliberate Movement and they looked like they were fairly competent. So it was either Militia trained by Professionals (ie Ex-Army) or it was Little Green Men/Wagner Bois.
When a few minor explosions occurred in our old center defensive position, I heard Josias belly laugh from downstairs. Seems like my Godly Squad Leader knew a thing or two about booby traps… and took the time to leave something behind. I knew it would serve to make them cautious… and maybe a little mad.
And if they came at us mad, they’d make mistakes as anger clouds judgement. Never Ever Fight Mad…. If you can help it.
[Senior, Li] the twang of my Designated Marksman was heard in my ear. [You said leadership is still a priority, right?]
Tripping my mic, I answered. “Of course. Leadership, heavy guns and those mortar assholes. Why?”
[Got one who seems to have a pair of guns with him all the time.] She answered. [permission to take the shot?]
“Li, your discretion. We gotta hold here long as possible so any advantage…” I answered. “Use your grey matter… I trust you.”
Li was silent and about eight seconds later she called back. [Messy shot…] She sounded green again. [And they are currently scrambling, dragging him off. I think he was important…]
“Sounds like it; good job.” I replied. “Pick off a few more if you can.”
Not long after that, the other side began to advance across the runway. When they got to about a football field away is when our rifles started firing. And the DCP troops responded with 3 to 5 second rushes, shooting from the ground, a few smoke grenades…. these guys *were* trained. Which made this a battle of professionals.
To me, that was a plus… as I knew some of their playbook. That they didn’t have anything heavier than light mortars… was a help too. At least, that we knew of.
Moving back downstairs, I went straight to Gunny, who was next to Parsons. He had his drone controller out and the wee thing was flying around outside. Its picture was in the stereotypical Low Light black and White thermal… which means we may not get the beastie back- that mode ate battery life.
But it showed a lovely picture of what was coming as well as what was going on across the way.
The DCP had rallied by the hangars after their aborted rush, the field was littered with dead or the dying- us in our prepared position had messed up their charge and there was no more running our way. There was resistance from the strip area though- not everyone on the ground was dead or even wounded… but of the thirty that had charged across, I had doubts more than ten were capable. Kind of a slaughter… but they hadn’t set up MG’s to cover. But they had easily another fifty or so men out of line of sight which was worrisome.
That lack of MGs was being addressed though- on the video, we could see at least four men with RPKs setting up inside a couple of the Colts. Not that the machines would stop a bullet but that whole Gotta See Me thing…. Thankfully, nothing heavier than those was seen… and of course, those damn Mortars, which had now started falling on our area.
Parsons, as if he read my mind, sent his drone looking…. And found one, by the front offices. Li might have a shot…
“Li…” I activated the platoon comms. “Front building, near the corner. Mortar Team”
[On it…] She answered. [Shifting for the shot…]
On the video, the Mortar Team prepped and fired a round about every ten seconds… which was the time it took Li to shift, acquire…. And in a friggin’ Hollywood stunt, put a round into the mortar ammo which one man was about to drop into the tube. Not that it vaporized the team… but they were not going to be doing much of anything after the point-blank explosion. One in a million shot… and it just bought us time.
“Wicked results, Li. Good job.”
Moving through the condo, I ducked through the hole in the wall into the end unit where one of my SAWs and a pair of rifles were covering the runway approach. Ducking down, I brought my rifle up to scan with my scope… the small areas of burning buildings being a help. After informing the gunner that the RPKs were in the Colts, I lowered my weapon and began heading out when the next rush started.
Rounds smashed into windows and walls, causing everyone to duck. And my men waited until the rushers got closer before shooting. A Second Mortar started dropping rounds on our area and I ordered the Strykers to join the party… we needed to crush this charge too and their guns would help.
The streak of an RPG was seen and heard, the munition crashing into the roof of the end building I had just left. Cursing, I reversed course and crawled back into the smoky and lightly burning end room, calling on the net for additional hands. Reaching the spot where the SAW was, I noted the wounds on the gunner- head trauma and what looked like a neck wound. A quick feel for a pulse got nothing and I moved to the next man, one of the handful of female troops I had.
She was still there and still breathing… groaning in pain. “Can you move?” I yelled as a couple of troops crawled into the room to help me.
The wounded troop answered. “I can…. Sit me up… so I can shoot…” She managed as she flailed a bit to move. I noticed her arm was at a shit angle and multiple punctures. “Clarke… we gotta get you out of here.”
“No… I have… Russians to Shoot…” Clarke gasped out.
She wasn’t thinking straight… and I could not blame her as I was there once myself, except it was Taliban at the time… Goddamnit. “Clarke… they will be there for later. Right now, we gotta get you out,” I told her, thinking what I said was a variation on what was said to ME some eight years ago.
At this point, the other rifleman who been up here, Specialist Cat Jones, called out. “Senior Chief… get her out. I’ll cover.” Cat moved some of the rubble off him, grabbed his rifle and returned to a firing position. He was a mess… but not as much as PFC Clarke.
The two troops who crawled in each grabbed under a shoulder and pulled Clarke out of the rubble and back towards the doorway. Doc was already in the hall waiting to do his work. While that happened, I brought my own rifle up and looked through the scope out across the way. I wanted a little blood right now…
Scanning, my ACOG was not meant for night work but then, there was juuuuusssst enough ambient light from both the moon and weapons fire to figure where to shoot. And I was lucky enough to see an RPG man lifting his weapon to send another our way. “Bite me…” I snarled and shot.
And it was nice to see I could still hit the broadside of a barn…. As my round slammed into the man’s chest, narrowly missing one of the rounds for the RPG stowed there. Collapsing, the man accidentally shot the launcher and its round spiraled away from us and towards some of their own men on the field. Its detonation making sure some of the downed troops were now truly dead.
[Senior!] Gunny’s voice was heard across the network. [Time to leave!. Front position already moved…]
Acknowledging her with a pair of clicks, I called over to Jones. “Jones… Time to Go!”
He answered as he reloaded. “I heard, Chief. I ain’t going…”
“Shit… yes you are…”
“Senior…” He replied as he continued to shoot. “If I move, this piece of wood in my side will come out and I’ll bleed out,” A pause. “Lemme do the thing…”
My brain was fucking SCREAMING at all this and also was admiring the fucking pluck Jones had. I hated leaving anyone behind and I now know how Phantom felt after that shitshow by Kandahar…. “Jones… you didn’t say anything about being wounded. Are you fucking sure?” It was a reasonable question- I already knew the answer as I’ve taken field medical courses… but I had to ask.
More aimed fire. “Senior… I said nothin’ cause she was worse off than me. And I was an EMT and I know how bad this is. I might live through this as long as they don’t toss a grenade in here… but only if I don’t move much.” More shots. “She was the priority… “
I knew he was right (which didn’t help) and I also knew the odds of him being alive when we got back, if we got back. “Damnit Specialist…” I cursed as I shoved a pair of mags at him. “We’ll be back, no matter what.”
A weak laugh. “I’m counting on it…”
I backed out of the damaged room, rage contained over leaving anyone behind. No one did that… it was part of the Code; We Leave No One Behind. No one in Uniform ever willingly broke it either- it usually took some serious shit to force it or a really dumb command to do so before it happened. And well, that was something that pols never understood…. And likely never would.
Doc was in the hall, Clarke evaced out already. “Senior…”
I held up a hand. “Robinson is dead; Jones can’t move and said he’d cover us….” I answered the unspoken question. “Said he has a piece of wood in his side and he’d bleed out by the time we got him out.”
“Doc… man said he was an EMT and knows the deal,” I said. “I’m inclined to believe him and right now he’s covering us.”
“I know, Doc… I know…”
Calling over the net to Gunny as I moved, I informed her of what was going on. She too had some choice words but she quickly contained them too. After telling her I’d meet her at the door, I punctuated this by actually getting to said condo door.
Johnson, who had been monitoring the Company Net, perked up. “Delta One, Delta 3 Romeo,” I heard him say as he lifted a hand to his earpiece. A few seconds and he turned to me. “Senior! Reinforcements are less than three out- they say they can see the tracers!”
I glanced at my watch- had it really been a half hour? And when I noted the time, I realized it not only had but was pushing thirty-five minutes. Looking back to Johnson, I told him. “Outstanding. Let them know we’ll hold off on leaving. But faster they get here…”
Johnson tossed a thumbs up and relayed the information. After a few seconds, he spoke up. “Delta 1 Actual said he wants his toy back…”
I laughed as did Gunny and immediately we moved everyone to the fallback building where Li was. The next three minutes were going to be a long one hundred eighty seconds… but Roach was almost here with the Cavalry. How much, didn’t know… but two platoons of troops was a damn sight better than one.
And we could secure things better for wounded evac too. I had more than the two I physically saw… and they needed to be seen to.
It was then a bunch of shouting, and some pistol fire was heard from Josias’ currently open-in-the-rear Stryker. That could only mean one thing….
Running over with my own rifle to hand, I looked in and saw Josias with a wrench in hand and one of the Suits free of his zipties. He was sprawled on a troop seat, the Beretta sidearm my squad leader usually carried on the deck-plate and said Squad Leader bleeding from an apparent graze to his head. The other suit was plastered against the side of the APC, covered by two of his squad.
“What the ever-loving fuck?” I hollered as weapons fire resumed from our fallback positions, the Strykers that were not busy with this fuckery were engaging with their MGs.
Josias answered. “It would appear our guests do not like our Hospitality, Senior Chief,” He pointed at the man on the troop seat, currently unconscious. “That one tried to kill me while the other attempted to run. Thankfully, the Lord provided me with the ability to prevent this one from getting a good shot.”
I looked at the wrench in his hand. “And a forgotten wrench handy enough to bean him with….” I said. “Where is the Pilot?” I then moved to the guy being covered by the two squaddies.
“Inside…” Came Josias’ reply.
Shifting my rifle to my bad arm, I reached out with my good hand and snatched an Ear. Dude yelped hard and tried to escape but failed as I had a death grip on it. “Struggle and I fucking rip it off….” I snarled and frog marched him by the ear (and two rifles covering) into the building- the door being held open by a smirking Reed.
Moving dude inside, I practically shoved him into a closet, where he collapsed on a pile of clothes. “Stay there… you come out, you will be shot.” I said and slammed the door. I still hadn’t questioned dude but after the Cav got here, there would be time. Still wasn’t sure it was our boy… but miracles did happen.
Shit, this entire run so far was a damn miracle.
The other one was dragged in by a pair of troopers Followed by Josias, blood streaming some down his face. The two men had re-tied loose suit’s hands back up and they sat his ass in the corner. Once seated they then POW’d him. He wasn’t going anywhere.
“Get doc to look at that….” I told Josias as a markedly large increase in weapons fire was heard outside…. To include an automatic grenade launcher and the sharp report of an MGS main gun. Sweet Jesus…. That was a welcome sound.
It did make me wonder though – who did Roach bring with him?