37w, 1dHuman in Equestria
A line in the sand.
24 November 2016
"I guess this is it huh LT", Ryan cast me a baleful look, "People are gonna know what you did here Mike" I smiled as I leaned against the truck, "Somehow Ry I don't think so"…..
4 years ago…
NSW Training Depot
BUD/S class 285
I can barely see from the sweat pouring into my eyes, we've been up since Monday and the instructors show no sign of letting up. "C'MON BOY! I KNOW YOU WANNA QUIT" the lead instructor roars in my ear, but I won't quit and he knows why…
I was engaged once. She was anything and everything I could've asked for in a woman and many a night I sat awake wondering what an angel like her was doing with someone like me. One morning about 3 weeks after I had proposed she called me from work and asked if I would meet her for lunch, that there was something we needed to talk about.
The tension was thick as we sat in silence for a few moments, then almost as if a dam was breaking she began, spilling out the truth to me. She had, for years, dreamed of joining the military. I encouraged her to pursue her dream assuring her it wouldn't change anything between us.
A few months later I was kissing her goodbye as she boarded a plane headed for Afghanistan, She was part of a Medevac aircrew stationed out of Bagram AFB. For months her wing conducted operations supporting various combat missions, I won't say I wasn't a wreck the whole time but the happiness in her voice every time she called, joy at doing something that really mattered, overrode most of my fears.
The night she died I was at work, always at work… her brother told me her helo had been delivering supplies to an Army Special Forces team in Khost when the FOB had come under heavy fire, that my angel had given her life dragging a wounded SF soldier out of the fray.
My whole world had been shattered, for months afterwards I refused to leave the house. It got to the point that my family had called in a psychiatrist specializing in trauma to try and bring me out of it. I still find it mildly amusing that my salvation appeared at the mall of all places, in the form of a US Navy recruiter called Petty Officer Taylor.
And so here I am, pushing for all I'm worth. Determined to get some serious payback, I had no idea what I was in for…
Present day minus 20 minutes
I looked up snapping out of my daydream and into Chief Riley's grinning face, "What's up chief?" I shot back over the roar of the choppers blades,
" We're dark and 15 mike from the target AO, in case you weren't listening"
I nodded and began checking my gear, first my primary: a MK18 CQBR (An M4 carbine cutdown to a 10.5 inch barrel for ease of movement inside structures), my secondary: a Sig Sauer P226 9mm handgun (fitted with a Surefire X300 weapon light, damn thing was so bright I had blinded an insurgent in Iraq the year previous… burned that asshole's retinas out) and various odds and ends of the special operator, grenades, IR strobes and the like. Once my weapons and gear were accounted for and verified hot ( A round in the chamber saves one from being super dead… in the words of my weapons instructor),I ran over our objective and mission parameters.
About 16 hours ago Langley had received viable Intel that Muj were going to try and sneak an old SS18 Thermonuclear warhead into Afghanistan, bad business indeed. A nuclear blast inside the country would destabilize the region yet again and derail the peace talks in progress between moderate Taliban leaders and the new Afghan government, now for the good news, 5 hours ago my team had been pinged by NAVSPECWARCOM that the highers had found a convoy heading to the border under cover of night, A quick check had confirmed that, yes these were our guys and they had the package in tow.
So now the men of Gunfighter Platoon, SEAL Team 10 were en route to lay down some serious hate, There was Ryan our team leader and one hell of an officer, Andrew the team's chief and 2IC, Bobby, a sniper and medic, Jackson our comms and weapons man, and me. My name's Michael, my nickname "Azazel" or "zaz" was given to me years ago by my best friend, most people hear and think of the demon from the bible but the literal translation is "The Immovable Mountain" at the time my father was undergoing treatment for Leukemia and I was steady as always, a rock if you will for my loved ones. Hence "Azazel".
Now 10 minutes from our objective all chatter inside the chopper ceased as we put our game faces on, ready to kill and ready to die, it's a job we take seriously.
"Convoy sighted, final approach to target" the pilot shouted over the team freq.
Ryan caught my eye and nodded, I gave him a quick thumbs up as the helo dipped closer to the deck. The moment the skids touched we were out, weapons up, scanning the immediate are for threats, when nothing presented itself we began to move, double timing it to the target location just over the next dune.
The first thing I saw upon cresting the small hill was an insurgent staring me in the eyes, his AK slung on his shoulder, 2 years of training kicked in immediately and I dropped him like liquid with a double tap to the head. The fight was on as the insurgents tried to rally around their vehicles and mount an effective defense, but no one can shoot like us, and they were put down without incident.
Now we had the difficult and nerve-wracking task of making safe a 30 kiloton warhead, we were about 5 mike (or minutes if you prefer) into our search I came upon a bone chilling sight, the weapon itself, armed and active, to make matters worse it had been played with, mercury tilt switches all but assured detonation if the warhead was jostled in any way plus what I believed to be a microwave transmitter attached to the side of the casing itself.
Now the tilt switches were concerning but the microwave emitter was goddamn terrifying, as it functions on proximity, and the fact the weapon was armed and counting down proved beyond a doubt that I had passed inside it's envelope
"LT! GET THEM BACK" I yelled as loud as I could, I didn't want any of my guys to get near this fucking thing,
"What's up Zaz?" Ryan shouted from about 25 feet away
"Microwave switch LT, it's active and counting down, we've got about 8 mike left" I called back,
Ryan's face went pale " Any way to disarm?"
"Not a chance LT, get the guys outta here if you haul ass you can clear the blast zone".
"We don't run Zaz, and we don't leave men behind" Ryan affirmed, his face set in a mask of grim determination
" Ry, Maggie needs you and I won't have you guys kill yourselves on my account, now get the FUCK out of my AO Lieutenant!" I barked
Ryan stared back for a second, indecision playing on his face before Chief Riley put a hand on his shoulder, "C'mon LT, we gotta move"
Ryan snapped out of it and gave the order I'd been hoping and dreading to hear "Nighthawk 03, this is Gunfighter 1, we need emergency extract, we've got live nuclear ordinance down here! T-minus 7 minutes and counting!".
I glanced over at him " I guess this is it huh LT?"
Ryan shot me a baleful look "People are gonna know what you did here Mike"
I smiled as I leaned against the truck "Somehow Ry I don't think so".
I looked at my brothers standing 30 feet away, might as well have been the moon for all the help they could offer," Go guys, take care of my folks" I smiled and they offered a nod here and a short wave there as they double timed it to the waiting MH-6, there was no time for heroic goodbyes, that shit only happens in movies. The second they were away I looked inside the truck, 5 minutes and counting.
"Sonofabitch" I muttered, "Well I guess since no ones around…" I dug inside my IBA (body armor), pulled out a beat up pack of Camel's and lit one up, savoring the last smoke I would ever have, each drag seemed like a gift from god as I waited for the inevitable.
I risked a look at the weapon, 15 seconds…14...13...12, in that moment I felt completely at peace.
10... I wondered what they would say when I was gone
9...I hope I was a good man
8... I hope it doesn't hurt
7... Heaven or Hell?
6... No sense worrying about it now…
Detonation… my whole world was consumed for an instant by a blinding white flash then… nothing…..
What the hell..?
I felt grass tickling the side of my face, I cracked one eye and saw brilliant sunlight, I wiggled my fingers and toes almost afraid to try and assess the damage, nope all accounted for. I was in a forest, lush foliage and massively tall trees as far as the eye could see in every direction under a beautiful blue sky all but devoid of clouds.
Off in the distance I could barely make out what looked like the turrets of a medieval castle. "That's a plan" I muttered to myself.
"Get to the structure, check for inhabitants and figure out where I am".
I'd deal with the ridiculously unexplainable feat that was surviving a nuclear blast later, for now I better get walking….