Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chapter 3

A test of Desert Heat – A Test of Time

Chapter 3 by Tobias Nixon

’85 Ford station wagon 19:02:09 18 km north of Mogadishu (west coast)

The Somali desert was hot. The aircon just never quite worked. Even when you had it cranked up high. At least that’s what the crew of American Special Forces troops holed up in a civilian station wagon thought. The legroom was cramped with boots and the space filled with assault rifles and webbing.

They were coming flying out of the desert on the main highway into Mogadishu. Twin dust trails spun up from behind the car. The reflection of the sun in the distance bounced off the boiling tarmac. Heat spun through every pore of each man’s body. Only eyes remained cool and calm. Unblinking as the city came into view.

It was then that the sedan left the road, and stated to drift along a side road that wound towards the coast and away from the city. They drove for another hour until reaching the dunes near the sea.

The thick tendrils of the sand the only sign of their passing. Within minutes the strong winds had covered any remaining tire tracks. The vehicle was a high end V8 turbo under the hood. It also had long range fuel tanks fitted under the chassis. The boot was full of enough arsenal for the five occupants of the car to take out a small town.

Sargent Henessy worked the open mike in front of him.

“Bravo-Two-Zero-Alpha. Reporting successful completion of movement through echo-two-tango. Proceeding with commencement to objective Alpha-One-Five-Zero.”

“Acknowledged, Whisky-Five-Zero. Your mission is cleared. Proceed to Alpha-One-Five-Zero.”

Alpha-150 was the wait point. Army intelligence had got wind of a meet up between some high levels. Of those in control of large parts of the capital Mogadishu, there was no greater terrorist group than The Deadly Eastern Wind. The terrorists were meeting with their pirate brothers at a remote and deserted point on the eastern Somalia coast line. The pirate teams operating out of this area were incredibly well organised and it was long suspected that they were simply more mobile marine based teams of terrorists. The source of income they provided from ripping off rich pleasure craft (these seemed to be quite rare now) and commercial vessels coming down from the gulf was still impressive. With the wealth of Somalia’s natural resources and its people in almost complete disarray the terrorists needed a source of wealth to continue operations against what was left of the existing government forces.

“Team get ready.”

“Sarge, are we expecting anything to come in hot?”, the youngest member of the team, nicknamed Ali Barba, Ali had the gift of tongues.

One of those gifts was Arabic, but he wasn’t expecting to need that particular gift, more his other an almost supernatural ability to nail pinpoint targets at all ranges, in all conditions.

“It’s possible, but Intel tells us the meeting isn’t scheduled for another three hours. We’ll recon the position then settle in with some snipers and a snatch squad and see if we can’t get close enough to their leaders.”

The Sarge lent back against the front passenger seat. His gaze long on the hot dunes disappearing into the side view mirror. Reflected heat seemed to amplify his thoughts.

“There’s something else boys. The targets may not all be Somalian nationals. Reports are that some of the heat signatures are pretty unusual. Too high to be human, was what Intel said. I want Ali Barba and Mikey on sniper duty. Ditz you and Diego take point as the snatch squad hidden in this shed here”,

He pointed at the digital map on his modified galaxy tab s. Army modified so that the encrypted coordinates could be automatically updated in real time no matter how intense the battle raging around them. Right now it calculated the distance between the tip of his finger and their destination. Distance, duration, time to each objective.

“Easy E, I want AA and suppressing fire from the high ground. This is going to go down. Everyone stay ready.”

Fixed stares became iron hard, as each man said his silent prayers.

“Whisky Five Oh, deploy.”

Sarge drawled from the front seat.

He had been monitoring the route on the virtual map and had his own mental countdown going on. Whisky-Five-Zero immediately burst from the vehicle, still under heavy brakes. Military boots tracks left heavy prints as the soldiers secured armaments from the boot then left single file at a fast jog towards the final recon point.

The squad were just shadowy wrathes in the sands. Each man had dug in under a tarp, then had the last guy standing, Easy-E give them a light covering on top. The results were impressive. Easy-E went back to the high ground, and lay down with his Stingers and light machine gun laid out to the right. To the left were a series of switches and a brace of hand grenades.

Desert sands, 22:01:23 25 km north of Mogadishu (west coast)

Three hours later. Late afternoon cast long shadows across the sand. The ocean not far distant by the  rumbling sound of crashing waves. Two cars from opposite directions converge on the ambush point. Tall men dressed in soft white flowing robes and dark rich skin get out of a silver Mercedes. Native Somalians’, these presumably are the terrorists, Easy-E thought. As the only team member with line of sight he was tasked with giving the encrypted voice comm start operations. This group of men walked with casual intent, swinging their AK and M16 assault rifles jovially about, talking quickly in Arabic.

The second group were just as casual but clearly more comfortable at sea. This group was more eclectic, consisting of a Moroccan, two Yemeni’s, an Egyptian, two Somalian’s. But it was clear the older taller Somalian was in charge. He didn’t quite have a skull and crossbones, well not quite. The guy had obviously watched too many pirates of the Caribbean movies though. He had long dark dreadlocks  platted with small sun bleached bones, Easy E guessed hand or foot, anything else human was too big. The pirate captain’s clothes were a multi coloured assortment of garish labels stolen from rich wardrobes, the pants were a sturdy black hemp kept up with rope that also kept up the contrasting styles of this modern pirate just nicely.

Each member of Whisky-50 waited and listened to the “chatter” from two parties. Their leaders were arguing. An automated translation program filtered the signal and provided a rapid if sometimes inaccurate interpreter.

“Captain you and your crew should be congratulated for finding the suitcase undamaged. The deadly wind of the east will not forget your contribution.”

The terrorist leader seemed kind almost fond of the captain as he lent in and gave the traditional greeting. His smile would soon turn to a deadly crease of concentration. The terrorist leader was not a man one negotiated with easily, if for that, at all.

“There has been a small complication. The syndicate will not sell for less than $5 million US dollars. Recovery of the cargo was not without significant risk and loss of life. We were not told the boat would be carrying heavily armed guards.”

The terrorist leader’s eyes began to burn. Burn into the captains skull. The captain was blissfully unaware of the hatred being directed towards him. He extinguished a half smoked cigarette in the dirt. Bending back up he smiled at the terrorist leader, knowing that his words carried weight. In the desert the man with the water was king.

“That is Unacceptable. You were made aware of the risks when you were asked to hijack the old frigate Mary-Magee. The cargo in that suitcase is not easily fenced, be reasonable we are offering you a lot of money.”

The captain didn’t seem to hear him. His eyes were blinded by greed. If the terrorist leader didn’t pay, his crew of cutthroats’ next stop would be a meeting with a US forces contact that could facilitate negotiations with the CIA. Given what he’d seen on the boat he could guarantee they would be interested. He didn’t really care so long as he got paid.

“Terrorist leader plainly the suitcase is valuable, we assume at least one other much less preferred client will want this suitcase “back”. Therefore what you say is somewhat ingenious. I couldn’t care less what your group thinks, if I don’t see the $5 Million, this suitcase is going back to the boat with my crew.”

“But surely you can understand? We previously agreed on $2 million USD. It is simply not possibly to arrange an extra $3 million for you without warning.”

“Haw! The very fact you contemplate a larger payment tells me something very useful. I’m beginning to see that Dibra was right when she told me to take it straight to the fencers in Morocco. I did not as we have had many honourable dealings in the past Terrorist leader.”

The terrorist leader’s head went red. His already scary countenance dominated by blood shot puffy eyes, skin pulled tight, and a jaw wide, jawboning his adversary before unleashing his final verbal tirade.

“You fucking cur of a dog. Dog shit eating Scum! Don’t you understand? We must have that suitcase tonight!”

So saying he ripped a throwing knife out of the robes at his front and threw down at the captain’s feet. The knife flew hard and straight embedding itself in the captain’s right foot.

“Ahhhhhhhh! You bastard, kill these fools!”, the captain roared, attempting to walk backwards, raising his hand pistols. The lights of the cars were suddenly killed. Easy-E had thought both groups were with their respective leaders but now it appeared at least one member of each group had remained with the cars. As per the original orders the snipers would be lining up primary targets in their night vision scopes. Snipers should be just about ready to...

“Wait!”, the Sarge screamed over the comm line, encrypted static burbling before and after, “This feels like a trap to me. If you’re the captains men killing the lights is a good move as it causes confusion in the terrorists, but why would the terrorists kill their own light, they don’t have scopes and there’s no moon light in the desert tonight. Stay hidden.”

Indeed, thought Easy-E, the only man with a clear line of sight in the blackness.

“Sarge, I can report no casualties from either side.”

“What about the pirate captain?”

“He is nowhere to be seen. Wait...”, Easy-E pressed his right eye into the receptacle of the night vision scope. Somewhat disbelieving he stared harder to confirm his earlier judgement. “Sarge, pirates are missing. The man we identified as a terrorist leader earlier appears to be in charge. Wait..”, Easy-E scanned the surroundings near the group.

“I can see a dead body of to the side of the pirates vehicle. I can confirm it is the captain. Ah-Haar, he’ll be disappointed not to have had a watery grave dah Capt’n Blackbeard will.”

“Lose the wise cracks Easy”, Sarge focused his breathing, it was the time before combat when his nerves pulsated like this, blood to be spilled, the responsibility of command. But he needed clear thoughts, something was not right out there among the dark dunes.

Desert sands, 22:10:10 24.6 km north of Mogadishu (west coast)

The terrorist leader stroked his thick black beard. He was lying face down on a dune less than five hundred metres away. Away at the bottom stood an off-road bike, tied to it, a shiny silver case. By now the pirate captain would be on his way back to the small clipper that would make the run back to base. Carrying $50 million in diamonds.

He looked down with night vision goggles at the chaos unleashed. They had planned this operation, but had only expected the Americans to watch by satellite. That they were here already with an armed response told the leader everything. They would risk international outrage to get the silver suitcase back again. He had several contingencies, but the warriors below were tearing his guys to shreds. Time to even the odds. He reached for his small mobile. Touching it he activated an encrypted web based chat service. Each time the user account was brand new.

“Activate Archangels. Allah Akbar.”

The terrorist leader stretched to his full height and with that he scooted back down the dune. Kicking the bike’s clutch hard he gunned it back towards Mogadishu.

Desert sands, 22:11:05 25 km north of Mogadishu (west coast)

Sarge got them ready for battle,

“Listen up troop. We assault in 5-4..”

someone else took up the count, “3-2-1”.

Like well drilled soldiers it started with a distraction, Easy-E opening up on the engine block of the terrorists’ car igniting it in less than five seconds with armour piercing ammunition. The fuel line caught, and a giant fireball exploded from the direction of the fuel tank, causing the back half of the car to jump into the air.

As he turned the barrel to increasing his personal terrorist body count, the twin sniper positions opened up on the group by the car who on hearing he explosion had scattered like frightened ants in the hot noon sun. Nowhere was safe. The long barrelled thermally scoped experimental AR-18 rail guns ripped there targets apart.

“Double kill!”, barked Ali Barba.

Mikey swore, then made a 500 metre kill look Eaasy. The rail gun made no messy explosion the bodies just dropped like potato sacks. He had been waiting to get a double kill with the new rail gun. It’s lethal penetration capability on soft targets made it ideal for punching through wood and light building materials into infantry.

As the mayhem reached its zenith, the three remaining men exploded from their hidden positions in the sand. Even rising bullets were flying. Each squeezing the contents of a clip into those running from the car ten metres away. It seemed to be a wildly successful ambush if for one small detail, they needed some Intel to keep the desk jockeys happy.

“Easy, report have you got a visual on the remaining enemies?”

“The terrorists are accounted for, six dead.”, Easy said, and the Sarge’s assault troop checked the bodies in front of them.

“The pirates are nowhere to be seen, but that’s odd, I swear I see the Moroccan pirate from earlier in the outfit of that terrorist leader.”, Easy-E was tracking his scope across the dunes now, searching for any trace of movement.

The Sarge had moved straight to the terrorist leader and was checking the body with his free hand. The others had now formed a defensive triangle around him.

“Mutha fucken cocksucking whore!” he roared. “We’ve been played. That terrorist leader is on the loose. Who knows where the pirates are. Ditz hold the pirate captain up in the air. Easy, that look like the Pirate Captain to you?”

“No sir!”

The Sarge, pushed a tab on his Bluetooth squad link secure comm. Transmission switched to include the squad on a call patched directly through to USSCOM.

“Requesting immediate close range imagery at Alpha-One-Five-Zero. Pan thermal for targets vacating the vicinity.”

“Confirmed, I have the sat-link; he is in egress by motorbike back toward Mogadishu. Time to follow n bag em boys, everyone mount up now!”

The assault team moved quickly past the burning wreckage of the cars, and got going. The hunt was on!

Mikey began to move his scope to the left tracking the assault team as they made their way to the car. A gigantic explosion rocked the car to from the right. The whole car jumped a foot from the ground, as the team dove to take cover across from the car. Diego was off to the side, and he never saw the two pirates that came at him from behind. Five bullets, three through the throat from the first, two through the chest from the second. Honour be, honour thee, the others silently echoed the chant.

These weren’t your grandpa’s pirates. Their preferred choice of weapon the humble AK-47 original. Sold out of an arms dealer with gun shop huts along the beaches of western Yemen. The Sarge needed to act fast. Before his teams’ rage revenge motive turned things into a blood bath. He was holed up with Ditz near the car.

The dead lifeless body of Diego was just metres away but it might as well have been a mile. The distance cut by the field of fire from the remaining pirates. They seemed content to keep the squad in position.

A giant ruse to keep the high tech Americans from completing their mission. Sarge should have known the pirates and terrorists were collaborators. The Intel had been solid for months that these two groups had staged joint operations. The terrorists acting as buyers for some of the pirate gangs harder to store items, and excess weaponry.

The snipers moved. The angle was useless with the pirates camped behind the car, they would have to take out the only ride out of here to ... “Sarge what if were to take the pirates car? Do we have permission to destroy our vehicle?”

“Do it, now!”

“Roger that.”

The snipers moved through a 90 degree field of view until they had located all of the pirates via thermal vision. Easy relayed in advice from his alternative angle to their right halfway down the highest dune on the high ground facing the killing field. Ali Barba moved his right eye into position. Focused his breathing. Stopped his breathing. Moved his right hand with deadly precision into place. Now the kill shots. Mikey acted as spotter calling in the changes in height and distance.

“Target acquired. Shoot to kill!” Ali’s finger curled, and holes started to open up in the side of the car. Precision holes that the rail gun ripped at half an inch in diameter. The effect was amazing. Crouching bodies became falling corpses. Their cover completely comprised the remaining pirates broke hastily from cover. Ali Barba cut two more down with another double kill. Easy E opened up with his light machine gun as the final two pirates ran from cover. Bullets spilled onto the dirt surrounding him, the hot gun was throwing out metal slugs at a voluminous rate that tore through the walking corpses of the pirates. Heads popped back, as bodies fell to the ground.

“All enemy within range of close range sat scans are accounted for. Only the leaders of each group appear to be missing, Sarge.”, Easy-E was back in contact with imaging.

“See if they can track down Capt’n Blackbeard. Tell ‘em mission parameters have changed, where going after the Terrorist leader. We believe he is in possession of the target.”

“Sarge I thought capturing the terrorist leader was the target?”, queried Ali Barba over the comms. Already he and the other two were jogging down the dune hill kit shouldered, Easy just ahead of them.

“This mission is top secret, even I have no idea what is in the suitcase. Capturing that terrorist leader alive with the suitcase is our top priority. All I know is that we got sent because the contents of that suitcase cannot under any circumstances enter the capital Mogadishu.”

The squad were soon in hot pursuit. The car they occupied was considerably slower than their own car, but made good progress, and, crucially had fuel in the tank. Easy was cruisin’ with one of his RPG’s shoulder mounted and half hanging out the rear left window. It was probably all that saved them. Several seconds later they saw what looked like twin flares descending at incredibly speed through a high altitude arc. Swooping lights, with the glint of what was it thought Sarge? Steel? No!

“No!” – he screamed.

Easy-E reacted without thinking he dropped the hammer on his RPG pointing in the direction of the flares. Massive percussion sounds exploded in their ears. The peace of the desert was ripped apart as a fireball exploded from within the pitch horizon. Still one to go.

The driver Ditz never even blinked as he took extreme evasive manoeuvrers. The car swung violently to the left from the road to the flat desert sands beyond. It raced as though the road was a snake. In truth it was. Ditz was running full speed perpendicular to the road.

The lights were advancing through the western sky rapidly now. Mikey spoke aloud to crack the intense and paranoiac atmosphere that was building within the car. Surfaces seemed to drip with humidity, pulses raced.

“Aircraft, 3 o’clock. Assume approach hostile.”

Data streamed into the Sarge’s pad, the others crowded over.

Easy-E had got his other RPG out of the window. This one was gonna have to count. Easy-E placed his weapon arm on the top of the car, draping it across his other.. face focused on targeting the approaching lights.

Ditz drove the car, now parallel to the road and once they were once again in pursuit of the terrorist leader.

The pad was showing disturbing images. The aircraft appeared to be unmanned drones. Armament level was assumed to be lethal to infantry. These must have been the unusual heat sigs registered by the high level scan earlier mused Sarge.

The drone came screaming in.

At three hundred metres it levelled its descent. The car started to swerve violently from side to side, moving in big twenty metre arcs.

At two hundred metres the retractable machine gun barrels extended from their pods.

At one hundred and fifty metres the bullets started to trace a path along the ground towards the car. Bullets chewed up the dirt in two neat little rows as the nose of the drone dipped and then rose towards them.

One moment they were tense cats coiled inside the car, the next two dozen bullets had crisscrossed the cabin. It was shooting fish in a barrel and they all knew it. Incredibly only one of them was hit. Mikey took the hits like a champ. His massive front rower body relaxed as the first two drove deep into his chest, the back seat was suddenly awash with blood. The final bullet was enough. It ripped right through the roof and into his skull.

“Poor damn bastard never stood a chance.”, Sarge grunted. The others clung to his words, seeing your mate murdered in front of you was soooo fucked. Ali Barba just kept swearing, until Sarge eventually had to give him the look to shut it.

Easy-E was the only one not to witness the gruesome killing. His body was tensed half hanging from the rear left window. Guiding the sights of his RPG through a tight arc as the drone ran past its target to circle for a another kill run. He waited, he knew he had only one chance. This was the only weapon that could damage something moving so quickly. Even so its evasion was superior to a regular aircraft, it had no need to slow down a human. The drone could pull 15g’s on the fly, then back up for another change of direction time after time. It meant he had to wait till the drone was committed to another attack run. Just at the end of its turn arc, just about now.

“This is for Mikey you metal piece of shit”, said Easy-E as he thumbed the trigger squeezing tight, holding steady guiding the rocket towards its destination. The drone had just come out of its turn and was heading back towards the car. The rocket came smack bang straight into the front of its nose, resulting in a colossal explosion that ripped the metal bird apart. Clearly it hadn’t just been carrying bullets. From half a click away they could feel the warmth of the explosion wash over them.

Terrorists leader bike 22:31:09 2.9 km north of Mogadishu (city limits)

The terrorist leader knew he had a healthy lead on the Americans. Even so he did not have any intention of relying on his benefactors air support. At forty he was a veteran of the gulf wars, insurgencies in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Palestine. He had fought in Lebanon, blown up bridges in Syria and most recently helped with operations against the Turks. To survive as long as he had, meant that he was a man that always planned meticulously and then assumed the worst.

He never went anywhere now without two contingency plans. His entire life was given over to battle, and so his every move was calculated on the premise that his world was a battlefield. Now these Americans had got wind of his plans. Somehow. How had they? Who had talked?

No matter it was too late now, soon, very soon from the chaos would come a new Somalia. One.

One that was? Hmm he didn’t really know. Then his heart felt heavy and invisible tears soaked his mind. One that was not a warzone for his people. One that was not a living hell of starvation, or a place of casual brutality, or of the intercine warfare or murders that were left to be unpunished. From this lawless hell would come a new Somalia. It’s people deserved another chance. They would be given the means to build a new society.

Knowing you were winning was never the same as winning, unless you were Charlie Sheen the leader reflected. He ripped the throttle down and the bike accelerated an extra five kilometres an hour to eighty kilometres. The fastest that he dared given the sandy uneven terrain. He needed to get to the capital before sun up.

Terrorists car 22:31:26 5.3 km north of Mogadishu

The Sarge had rolled Mikey’s body forward in the passenger seat. He had carefully placed a poncho over the body. The mood was incredibly sombre but also focused. These men were elite soldiers. Each knew the risks of his chosen field. Each accepted the dangers without question. Nothing prepared you for the gut retching feeling of sudden death.

The men sat stoically. No one had congratulated Easy-E. It was as though they had all pulled the trigger and downed the bird. The shared sense of revenge was all that kept Ali Barba from cursing once more.

Ditz didn’t hold back, “Fuck!! Mutha fucker has turned again he’s heading to the northern edge of the city.”

Then the car swerved once more and was flying of a low lying sand dune through 2 feet, before bottoming out the suspension. The bike was somewhere ahead. The pad was feeding higher resolution pictures now that they were in the same grid as their quarry. Alarmingly another car was approaching on an intercept trajectory with the bike. It looked like they would meet before the team could catch up. Ditz floored the car, desperate for extra speed. Ahead the car and bike were drawing close.

As the Sarge watched both vehicles drew closer but never slowed to a complete stop. The icons for each vehicle shifted slightly, Sarge immediately order a more detailed analysis to see what had happened. A couple of seconds later the screen updated with high resolution photos of a silver briefcase being passed into the car. Then both were speeding off in opposite directions.

Sarge was starting to get really suspicious, none of this made any sense. He ordered another scan of the bike. It still had a silver briefcase. What the hell? He wondered if the switcheroo was deliberate.

High tech drones, awareness of sat imaging, it seemed incongruous that terrorists that fought with low tech AK’s had access to sophisticated tech and training. Maybe command had this one all wrong. Something was missing. Something he just couldn’t quite pinpoint. Command responsibility. The pressure to lead. His drill instructor was on his mind.

<Drill yard, Kentucky SEAL training facility> 15 years ago>

The voice of old Jed, “When so m-thing dohn’t loook right, it ain’t! Now keep your eyes peeeled for Charlie.”

“Stop the car now!” Sarge ordered.

Ditz pulled over. Brakes schreeched, as he rammed his foot onto the pedal.

“Ali Barba out.”

Ali stepped out into the cold desert sands. He removed his kit and the car was off again. No questions only a solitary figure, trekking to the top of the nearest king dune. By chance this happened to be in the same direction as the departing car. The cold skittish grit kicked up from the wheels and spat into Ali’s face. He didn’t care. He popped broad shoulders, puffed his impressive pecs, and set off at march.

Terrorists car 22:32:45 3.5 km north of Mogadishu

“Callin’ it in Sir. We are pursuing the operative rec name “Blackbeard” instead of the primary.” Sarge barked into his comm uplink.

“What makes you think the other car is the pirate?”

“Just a hunch” chewed out the Sarge, annoyed now at his comm link.

“The primary target is classified shoot to kill, the briefcase cannot fall into the wrong hands. What is your contingency?”, said an encrypted voice.

“Yes sir. I have left my remaining sharpshooter to reccy with chopper inbound to final point of termination.”

“Acknowledged. Chopper is inbound on gps beacon in two minutes mark. At current speed estimate point of interception at 0.5 km from city outskirts. Your man will have one shot only.”

“He only needs one. He’ll make it.”

“I hope so” (for your sake) Sarge finished in his head. He then opened another channel back to Ali Barba. A secure data transmission got him up to date.

Ali whistled softly through the link. “Even I have limits my friend.”

Sarge thought of his friend in Australia. Now seemed to be as good a time as ever, so he said to Ali in what he knew was a terrible Aussie accent, “She will be right mate.”

Ali immediately lightened up.

“Sure thing Sarge” (normal self)

Sarge and Easy scanned the surroundings with their night vision goggles whilst Ditz focused steadfastly on the road, or lack thereof ahead. Up till now every five hundred or so metres they had been seeing small clumps of desert bush but not much else.

Suddenly they were closing in on the pirate vessel. The pirate car screeched around. Taking a massive right turn on the desert floor. Ditz let them get close then slammed hard on the brakes. Both cars were at standoff one hundred metres apart. The US soldiers stayed relaxed and in their vehicle, while the motley crew inhabiting the other car quickly dispersed.

But it would be completely wrong to say that those soldiers had been lazy or brazenly stupid. They were simply extremely cunning.

Quite intentionally Ditz slammed the manual gear stick into the lower right of the H working the pads so that the car positively leapt backwards. As the team made steady distance away from their quarry, the quarry in turn took chase in pursuit.

Thus set the trap was sprung, the explosives left by hand to detonate did so. And in the ensuing aftermath men still walked albeit dazed in stupor. The US team had deployed chemical grenades. They were taught during classified sessions that targets would be “Doey” once overcome and could then be subdued.  This proved the case. Only the leader of the crew who had been standing back somewhat distant seemed unsubdued. Instead he was cackling like a madman.

The leader laughed as Ditz tackled him to the ground.

“What’s so funny you dirtbag?” Ditz screamed at him, he wanted to say “You killed my friend. You fuckbag why did you do it?” but he knew he wouldn’t.

The pirate just stared at him with a smile in reply. Ditz pushed away from him and grabbed hold of a silver suitcase that he had been holding in his left hand. He flung it back towards Easy, he then used that arm to spin the pirate around. He deftly pulled both arms up at the elbow into a nelson lock.

The pirate started to laugh again.


Easy went about opening the case. In so many tens of seconds his electronic wrist tool had already cracked the lock. The case opened under its own motion. Inside was ten million US dollars. At least Easy-E was pretty sure you couldn’t fit any more cash inside. Sarge whistled toothlessly.

“What a fortune ai boys?”

Easy snapped the case back shut and retreated to the car. Throwing the case on the backseat, he pulled out his machine gun.

Sarge said to the pirate,

“Unless you want my boy here to toast all your dazed looking comrades, I suggest you unload with us on what the fuck is going on.”

The pirate sneered back,

“You’re picking on the wrong players Sergeant. My people died for this country, and will continue to do so until you are all gone.”

“Sorry not interested”, Sarge sounded flat.

“Boys give me your comms.” They did so. He stomped all three sets into the dirt. Busted tech good no more.

“Kill them all Easy!”

“What! No, you cannot do what you say?!?” screamed the pirate leader. His eyes were white with naked fear. His legs trembled. Suddenly his seaborne cockiness evaporated.

Easy-E held his machine gun two handed dominant position pointing down at this targets. It was a heavier grip to master. He squeezed the trigger briefly, bullets spat down at the leaders feet.

“Ok! Just please do not kill. Come I will show you.”

The others hustled him to the car as Easy went about using the butt of his weapon to knock the other pirates unconscious. Driving back to base, a relaxed Easy-E sat back on the seat, stretched his muscled frame and reflected that now was the perfect opportunity to see whether his buddies would object to a few US denaros going missing between here and base.

Chopper, 22:38:01 0.55 km from outer city districts of Mogadishu

It was coming in low, really low. Ali was perched ready to respond. The clear night made the game so electric he thought. The bike rider ahead was speeding on looking straight ahead. The chopper slowed and rotated slightly to give him a full field of view. His gun arm adjusted and he used his knees as stabilisers.

The rifles thermal scope registered the target. The target bobbed up and down constantly due to slight variations of movement from the chopper and the extreme distance of the shot. Breathing out he held his breath and calmly squeezed the shot. The terrorist leader was spun from his bike. He flew head over heels, rag dolling towards the ground. The bike ditched into the hard sands, along with its cargo.

Without thinking he grabbed a rope already attached to the side of the cargo bay and flung himself from the chopper. Because they were so low, by the time he came to a stop half way down the rope he was nearly at the bottom. He broke fall landing lightly and immediately began sprinting towards the bike.

At that moment, noises went off in the cockpit and the pilot began screaming about incoming missiles.  Down below Ali could only suspect that this too had been a trap. But he had no time to lose, this silver suitcase needed to be returned. He climbed aboard the bike, dropped the clutch and gunned it back towards the open desert.

The chopper exploded in mid air. Its flaming wreckage tore from the sky and came crashing down towards the ground troops. They fired impotently past the wreck into the night, at the faint sound of a dirt bike at maximum engine revs.

Desert floor, 22:45:03 0.5 km from outer city districts of Mogadishu

Elements of the Deadly Eastern Wind gang moved back towards Hamid’s body. The terrorist leader had been in charge of a team of ten originally. Now only two were left. Such was the burden of operational success reflected the leader Urqa. The remaining men would be reassigned to other important missions. Some would not return. It was as Allah willed it.

Hamid’s last request to Urqa had been to check his body. A slightly odd request but one that Urqa obeyed. He had his men carefully pickup the dead body of Hamid and bring it with them. As they went to pick him up, Urqa reached down and pushed his left hand through Hamid’s jacket.

“Allah be blessed!”, Urqa was in shock.

It was the object Hamid had been after. So, it was not in the silver suitcase after all thought Urqa. Hamid’s last act of defiance against the soldiers had been to secret the object on his person. Urqa smiled picking it up carefully and wrapping it in his own jacket.

“We return to Mogadishu at once! Ride out and summon everyone immediately. I don’t care if you have to wake them up, assemble everyone at once.”

Men dispersed to the four corners of the city, while Urqa and a small band of elite cadre walked back towards the city centre.

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