Busy day at our local Ikes – annual Hog Roast. The post I wanted to finish on “Training the way you fight” will have to wait until I’ve recovered on Sunday! Oh, and grandkids are coming too . . . . . recovery may extend into Monday! Meanwhile, I offer “Demons” in the place of real content. Hope you enjoy!
Sam had had a chance for the adrenalin to be flushed on his walk back from Doc Thorton’s office. E had walked him all the way home, letting him cool down. He enjoyed her gentle voice as she had sought to calm him. Had he been one of the humans who rode him, he would have had a deeper understanding. That said, he understood that when E had raced into his stall that he would be called on to give her all his strength. He complied without hesitation, pushing his body nearly to its limit. While E clocked it as about five miles, Sam gauged it in muscle fatigue, the very edge of being fully winded and a sweat soaked coat. When they had met Thumper and Malud on the trail he smelled their fear, the blood and the sweat of the humans on them. It was obvious things were not as they should be.
Even with the urgency of the moment, he and the other horses were held to a fairly brisk walk. The smell of human blood was rich in his nose but the reassuring voice of E and the other riders kept them all at bay. Eventually they reached their destination. E dismounted while Malud and Thumper were lead to what he assumed would be their stalls and a night’s rest. He was asked to stand and wait. With a pragmatic huff and a bit of a shudder, he allowed his body to rest and doze . . . .
“Sam, time to wake up boy” came E’s soft voice. She had been “his” for his entire life, from the time he left his mother until this very night. She had taken good care of him and he had long since pledged his life to her as well. “Time to head for home.” And so it was, their walk completed, she removed his saddle, blanket and bridle. She gave him a bit of a nudge and he slowly walked to his open stall, anxious for the snack that would surly follow. Soon E entered, brush and hoof pick in hand. She brushed the streaks of sweat from his coat, checked each hoof carefully for embedded rocks, pebbles or a crack. Her work done she gave him a small flake and a bit of grain along with his favorite treat . . an apple.
“You did great tonight Sam, thank you. I can’t think of any other horse I’ve had in my entire life with the power to get me to Willie and Frank as quickly as you did tonight. I’m in your debt! Sleep well friend.”
He truly loved the sound of her voice as weariness overtook him. He bowed his head and was quickly fast asleep.
As E walked to the house, she let the events of the evening wash over her. She tried her best to contain her fury – she saw Fred as part of her family – and someone had FUCKED WITH HER FAMILY!! Their current condition was as it should be . . . dead, dead, dead. It did little to quench her anger. She saw Buck and Wraith tied to a couple hitching posts near the front door. The flicker of her Gramp’s kerosene lamps was visible through the front screen door and window.
“Bill, Marion – any preliminary thoughts? How the FUCK did they get 12 miles inside our county with not a whisper of their presence??? Willie and Fred got off pretty damn lucky tonight!” E could feel her blood pressure spiking again!
“How are the kids E? And where’s Willie, thought she’d come back with you.” Brad had his “calm down” voice on, one she’d heard plenty throughout their years together.
E expelled a snort! “Really, little shit told me she was claiming Fred tonight, an early 16th birthday present. Thought the boy was going to pass out, and not from the boo boo on his leg either!” A smile crept back to her lips. “Fred’s fine – got a good ass chewing from Doc, seems like he doesn’t want to lose a promising apprentice! Willie got a tourniquet on quick; he lost blood but not as much as he could have. Seems George Talbot saved their asses, I was ordered to invite he and Sylvia to Sunday dinner!”
Marion spoke up quickly . . . “Close E, but not the whole story. True George put one of the raiders down with a clean headshot, but Willie dropped the first shooter. Put two in his chest dead center – right into a nice chunk of steel. Primitive, but effective. Her third shot caught the raider just below his nose – hit his “good night switch” and dropped him in a heap. He hadn’t even twitched. George said all he heard was three gunshots in about a second. She’s a hell of a shooter!”
“So where are these assholes now!” demanded E.
“They’re on a slab in Docs morgue. It’s late E, we’ll go through their gear and do some backtracking tomorrow. Two scouts – gotta say that can’t say anything good! Get some sleep E, I’ll hit it hard in the morning!” Marion rose and poked Bill – “Time to put Buck and Wraith in the barn and hit the sack hun, long day tomorrow!” Bill looked at his parents – “Night guys, I’ll go out with her tomorrow, we’ll find some answers.” They headed out to bed down their horses and then head off to their bungalow.
“She asked him to join the force yet?” E was looking at her husband, wondering if their daughter-in-law had worked on their son a bit more. Brad was clear in his heart that Bill would take his place. Bill’s heart was in running the farm. “Even in today’s world, fathers and sons still struggle with each other” she thought.
“Don’t know E, higher priorities, don’t ya think? God, twelve miles inside our county with no inkling they were here. Got a million questions we are going to have to answer, and quick. Let’s get some sleep, morning’ll come early!”
The last place E wanted to be was in bed! She wanted answers, she wanted to flush the adrenaline that was still in her body, she wanted to shut down all the “what-if’s” that were flying around her mind. She knew they’d come tonight . . . . they always did when she was keyed up! “Fuck!” she said as she climbed the stairs with Brad. He knew what was coming, she knew he’d hold her through it.
June, 2049 Northern Africa - Operation Ramrod
“Demon 62 – White Knight 45 . . . copy?”
“Roger, copy 5x5 White Knight. Looking for the bunny rabbit – you see it out there somewhere?”
“Roger that Demon, 5 clicks out around the little hill at 90. ETA 5 minutes. He has friends.”
“Understand White Knight, it’s a party. Thank you sir.”
“You set Deke?” E glanced at her spotter out of the corner of her eye. It was their first mission as a stand-alone team. She was anxious to notch a kill as only a 19 year old newly minted sniper could be. They were part of operation “Ramrod”, about 60 clicks SSE from Marrakesh. They had come into the local airport like gangbusters in the middle of the night. White Knight had done a quick NOE – lights out flight to a ridge overlooking a shitty little road that passed through the valley below. One of their boxes to check was to ice a high-value Al Qaeda operative, Mohammad Al-bin Kaheir. That was her target . . . her first target. So here she and Deke were, baking their asses off in 120 degree heat of the mid-day sun.
“Range to the Rock of Gibraltar?” E asked “five six zero yards E, wind zero, down angle 30” They had been over this a number of times since daybreak, her scope doped, her position fixed, scope resting comfortably in front of her eye. “Roger that, thank you.”
“Demon 62, 2 clicks, should see their column about . . . . now.”
“Roger White Knight, have 5 vehicles – two heavy, thank you”. E calmed herself, slipped the safety, focused on the center car, rear right seat. She could see the described clothing on what appeared to be a man the right size with a full beard. She’d have to assume their intel was solid.
“Deke, two heavies. They are going to be supper pissed when I ice this guy. Be ready to shit ‘n git!”
“Roger that E, roger that.”
“Demon 62, White Knight 45 – 1 click out, all yours, I’m out.”
“Roger that, thank you.”
“Visual confirmed E, couple old duce and a halfs front and rear, couple of “Ma-duces” front and rear vehicle, light guns on the pickups, car is driving with windows up – must have air, maybe up-armored windows.”
“Roger that, target acquired. Time until “the rock”?
“30 seconds out . . . . 20 . . . . . 10 . . . .”
“I have him . . . . . BLAMMMM!”
“No Joy, No Joy!!”
“No Joy, No Joy!!
BLAMMMMM, BLAMMMM, BLAMMMM
Deke was glassing the center vehicle and saw the window finally shatter on the third rounds and saw two rounds shatter the body of the right-side passenger.
“Scratch one rag-head!”
“Demon 62, White Knight 45 – you kids seem to have royally pissed of a bunch of folks down there. Suggest you enter your shittin’ and gittin’ phase of the operation. Pickup LZ Tango, pop smoke when on site.”
“Roger that White Knight – out” replied E – and they were outta there. Deke on point, E checking their six on the way out. LZ Tango was about three clicks North East – seemed farther now than it had at 2AM this morning.
“Hussle ass there Deke, I suspect at least a couple of our guests will want to pay us a visit as soon as they can scramble up our little hill here!”
“I’m booking E, I’m . . . . BBBUUUURRRRRAAAAAPPPPPPPP! E noticed she was covered with a pink mist. About that time a couple tangos came charging around a bend in their path. E dropped to a knee and hammered the first two - the remaining quickly drew up short and hauled ass to cover.
“White Knight 45, Demon 62 – SHITSTORM, I SAY AGAIN, SHITSTORM!!: 311053 BY 74025 . . . . 311053 BY 74025. MAN DOWN, MAN DOWN”
“Roger Demon 62, Cobra45 lifting off, on site 10 minutes, one zero minutes”
“Roger that – gonna need a change of panties when we get back.”
“DEKE!! GOD DAMN IT – DEKE!!” E saw nothing move, he was crumpled where he fell.
BBUUURRRRAAAAPPPP!!!! Rock shattered about a meter in front of her. At least these guys were using the spray and pray method, the two dead encouraging them to proceed slowly!
BBBAAAARRRROOOOOOMMMMMMMMMM! The concussion stunned her for a second – long enough for another tango to make the corner to collect some dues for his dead comrades. Rolling right to her stomach E iced tango number three.
“Demon 62, Cobra 45 – 5 out”
“Roger that, goose that fucker a bit!”
Tango four rolls out, RPG locked and loaded! A short burst sent him on to his virgins.
“Demon 62, Cobra 45 – pop purple smoke”
“Roger that” as E popped a pin and threw it out just beyond her cover.
“Demon 62, hug the ground baby, I’m here”
And the path, rock, ground 25 meters down range exploded in a barrage of 20 mike-mike simply erasing that part of the world off the face of the world. It was a glorious sound.
“Cobra 45 – cease fire, tangos down, tangos down” E breathed a sigh of relief.
“Demon 62, roger that. I’ve got CAP, White Night 45 – clear for extraction”
“Cobra 45 – White Knight 45, roger that”
E scanned the area as the Blackhawk came in to pick her and Deke up. A crewman jumped out, dropped his M4 on its sling and lifted Deke in a fireman’s carry. She followed him to the door, slid her ass in and leaned against the bulkhead.
Deke was looking at her – a gaping hole in his shoulder, blood soaking around the edges of his front plate, his legs doubled behind him . . . . his face white . . . .
And the sobs came . . . . wracking her body while Brad held her. “Fuck Me!!” she thought . . . over 40 years ago . . . .
“Deke?” Brad asked softly as he held his sobbing and sweat soaked wife.
“Yeah . . . just one of my demons that visit now and then.
Brad’s embrace strengthened. “I’m here babe, I’m here . . . . get some rest.”
Thankfully, sleep returned – this time is was peaceful and sound . . . .
There would be more demons to come . . . .