• Published 23rd Apr 2013
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That Others May Live - CptBrony



Two USAF Pararescuemen must search through an unknown land to find their charge and make it back home alive.

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Prologue

That Others May Live

Airman First Class Jack “Frost” McDaniel and Lt. Harris “Duke” Sky walked around the airstrip at Pope Field, North Carolina. They weren’t talking; they were too busy taking in the sights. It was their first time there, after all. They had both gone into the Air Force after college. Harris had attended the United States Air Force Academy, where he boxed and excelled academically. He was considered one of the best fighters in collegiate boxing in the United States. He had every intention of getting to where he was. Jack, on the other hand, had been planning on going into finance after college. He was no sports star; he was pretty much an average guy. But he had been considering a military career for a long time, and when he learned about this, he was quick to go for it. He trained hard during college, but after, he enlisted instead of going in as an officer. He never thought of himself as a leader of men.

Now, here they were, joining up with the Twenty-fourth Special Tactics Squadron at their new home base. It had been hard to get here, but they made it. After seven years as Pararescuemen, they were able to try out and join up. Both made it, and that was where they first met. They were the only ones of their group to make it. “Wow. So, what do you think we’re gonna do first?” Jack asked.

Harris shook his head slowly, still dazed by being at Pope. “Don’t know. Probably more training?” It still hadn’t quite hit either of them that they were now in one of the most secretive units in the US Military. They had no idea what they should expect. “I bet there’ll be a whole lot more stuff on staying hidden and more first aid and serious medical treatment training.”

Jack nodded. “Yeah.” He thought for a moment. “I wonder what kinds of missions we’ll get?” Harris looked up to the sky. “No idea.”

An F-22 Raptor took off down the runway next to them, lifting off the runway and speeding off. They had to plug their ears when it flew by. “Let’s go!” Harris yelled, forgetting that the noise was gone. Jack nodded, and they ran away from the airstrip towards a hangar.

They ran all the way to the hangar, their training having made it easy for them to run nonstop for any short distance. Once there, they stopped and looked around. All around them, there were C130’s, among other cargo planes, and even a C5 Galaxy. “The sheer size of those things will never cease to amaze me.” Harris commented.

“Yeah. How humanity managed to pull that off is beyond me.”

Harris laughed. “And that’s why you and I aren’t engineers or technicians.” Jack shared a laugh, and they walked along the hangar’s outside wall.

They walked along the wall until they reached the door to the hangar. It was wide open, revealing the sleek form of a B-2 Stealth Bomber in all its glory. Under it were half a dozen technicians and maintenance boys making sure that it didn’t fall apart on them or stop being stealthy. Everyone in the military is important. “The techies are still hard at work I guess.” There was always a little rivalry between the Twenty-fourth at Pope and the techies. They would prank each other; in secret of course; couldn’t have the brass find out; they made jokes, and generally mocked each other. But both knew the importance of the other. Jack and Harris walked on, letting the techies do their jobs.

They walked to the back of the hangar. Their CO had told them to meet him there for a discussion on their futures in the Twenty-fourth. Jack had been very excited, while Harris kept himself calm. “I wonder what he’s got for us?” Jack wondered aloud.

Harris shook his head. “I don’t know man, but my bet is that it’s more training.”

Jack was fidgeting with his fingers. The anticipation was getting into his mind. But he wouldn’t let himself create any ideas of what to expect. “Probably.” he dismissed. There was a small room in the back of the hangar. Inside, Jack and Harris could clearly see their CO, Major Ash, but there was another guy there. Jack’s excitement turned into caution. “What..?” Harris shook his head and didn’t respond.

At the door, they knocked three times. “Come in.” an order came.

Harris looked at Jack, who let his hand float in front of him. “After you.” Harris cocked an eyebrow and led his buddy through the door.

Inside, there were two men, Major Ash and a man they didn’t know. “Major..?” Harris began.

The Major held up a hand. “Sit.” Harris and Jack did as they were ordered. The Major pointed at the other man, who stood wearing a decent suit and sunglasses. “This man is from the CIA.” Major Ash explained. “He needs us to do something.” Jack and Harris looked to the CIA man, shock prevailing through their eyes. “If you would, OGA?”

The man sat down in the chair right behind him. “Thank you.” he replied, not facing the Major. He was staring straight at the two PJ’s before him. “I have a situation that I need to be resolved without becoming directly involved in.” Jack and Harris looked at each other. “Before I go into the details of the mission, let me give you some background.”

OGA put his elbows on his knees. “The CIA has been conducting secret operations in Pakistan for quite some time. We operate there in the search of terror cells and terrorist training camps.” He stood up and walked over to the wall. Reaching up, he got his hand on the bottom of a rolled up map and pulled it down. “We have spies, sure, but the men who I am referencing are the Special Activities Division. SAD operatives are working around the world every moment of every day. Even outside of wartime, they’re out there.” He pointed at Pakistan. “We know that there are training camps for terrorists here in Pakistan. SAD goes in there and takes out the camps and anyone in them. Now, that’s where the trouble starts for us now.”

He turned around and looked at the PJ’s. “One of our men was going on a lone reconnaissance mission. His job was to get in there, find a suspected camp for Al Qaeda cells, and report it in. From there, we would send in a team to take out the camp.” He paused, waiting for a question.

“So why are we needed?” Jack asked.

OGA looked to Major Ash, who looked back. “The man we sent in hasn’t reported in. We aren’t sure what may have happened.”

Harris leaned back in his chair. “So why don’t you send in some of your guys to find him? Why would you need us?”

OGA sat back down. “The CIA doesn’t exactly use the ‘none left behind’ prospect. When a SAD operative goes out, he does so because he doesn’t operate with any indication of being American. It gives us plausible deniability for why a foreign operative is in a country. We can say that it wasn’t us.”

Jack looked at OGA in disbelief. “So you just abandon them if they get caught?”

OGA nodded. “That’s what they join up for.” He continued. “Our SAD operative has gone missing, and I want you to find him and bring him home.”

Harris and Jack looked to OGA, then to Major Ash, then back to OGA. “If they sign up for this, and you’re one of them, then why are you trying to get him back? Doesn’t that go against your SOP?”

OGA looked to Major Ash. The Major also looked pretty curious about this. “This operative happens to be one of my best friends. I understand it’s a conflict of interest; that’s why I came to JSOC. You guys live for this shit.” Jack sat back, but Harris couldn’t help but feel slightly offended. What did OGA mean by that? “You’re job is to go in and rescue our guy. So now, that’s what you’re going to do.” The PJ’s looked to Major Ash; he looked back at them. “It’s up to you boys. I can’t make you take on an unbooked operation for the CIA.”

Harris looked at OGA, then turned to Jack. “Let me talk to my guy here.” OGA nodded and walked over to Major Ash, presumably to talk about whatever they would be needing. Meanwhile, Jack and Harris were talking on their own. “Do you think we should take the op?” Harris asked. He always asked for Jack’s input. Teamwork is essential to an effective team. “I mean, it’s kinda odd. This isn’t exactly a normal op.”

Jack looked to OGA, who was now arguing with Major Ash. “I think we probably should. This guy is in the SAD; probably originally from JSOC. He must be pretty valuable to the CIA, and to national security.” Harris couldn’t argue that point. He nodded to Jack, who nodded back, and they turned around.

“We’ll do it.” Major Ash turned around to face his boys. OGA wore a smile.

“Alright.” the Major said. “From now until the end of the op, you’ll be under his command.” The PJ’s looked at OGA, taking in his elated countenance. This would be interesting.

*********************************************************************************

A week after the meeting, they found themselves in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. This was the same place that the raid on Bin Laden was staged from; appropriate.

The brutal midday sun beat down on the Pararescuemen as they walked from the barracks of the base to the hangar. They were lugging most of their gear with them. Harris carried a 4.7x30mm MP7 PDW for his primary and a 5.7x28mm FN Five-SeveN for his sidearm. He carried ten mags for the MP7 and ten for the Five-SeveN. Other then that, the only things he carried were first aid and survival gear, like a blowout kit, his knife, water, some food, and his plates. Jack carried a 5.56x45mm HK416 assault rifle and eight mags, and a 9x19mm Sig P226 pistol with eight mags as well. On his thigh, he carried his prized CRKT FE9 Combat Knife. Like Harris, he also had things like a blowout kit, water, some food, and his plates. The rest of what they would need was in the hangar already.

They walked through the hot climate pondering what may await them in Pakistan. Neither spoke; there was little to be said yet. Jack wondered what his first mission with the Twenty-fourth would feel like. “This is crazy!” he thought, but in a good way. “I’m going on a top secret mission to retrieve some OGA guy from another country.” He thought about what consequences there might be. “If we’re caught, we’ll die. But if we succeed...” He had no idea what would happen when they returned. No credit, but certainly some prestige among their fellow airmen. Harris, on the other hand, was thinking about how to counter any trouble that they may encounter.

If we run into Pakistani forces, out best bet would be to run and gun. Terrorists? Probably kill ’em.” They were looking for a guy whose job was to hunt and kill terror leaders and such. A few dead terrorists wouldn’t be so bad. “Civvies? Nothing, I think. But it will all depend on the ROE.

Their thoughts were cut short by a voice calling out to them from up ahead. “Hurry it up, guys! You’re on a timeline!” They both looked up; OGA was standing in the hangar door, clearly unhappy with the PJ’s timing. They looked at their watches simultaneously; they were far from being late.

They walked up to the OGA guy, whose name they still didn’t know, and likely never would. “We’re ready.” Harris said. There was no point in arguing with the man about the fact that they were actually early. His friend was lost in Pakistan; of course he was short.

“Good.” OGA replied curtly. He led the PJ’s into the hangar. “Alright, before I get you on the plane, let me talk to you about what I was discussing with some higher-ups earlier.” Jack groaned. It couldn’t be good. “Relax. You’ll be flying in on this C130. Then, when you’re over your target, you’ll jump, obviously. Once you get your feet on the ground, you’ll start your search for my guy. Odds are,” he said, pulling out a map. “He’s somewhere around here.” He was pointing at a very mountainous area of Pakistan, almost towards the border with India. “He was looking for terror cells that were planning to distract the world by attacking India, then attack the US.” He handed Jack the map. “He landed around there, we believe. When you find him, get out of the area and activate this beacon.” He handed them a small radio. “You’ll have to get out of the mountains because, for whatever reason, comms aren’t working out there.”

Harris felt uneasy about that. Comms not working, a SAD operative going missing and not being heard from... something was up. “Sir, if you don’t mind my asking, what’s going on? This is the weirdest op I’ve ever heard of for PJ’s. What’s going on?”

OGA looked at him through his large sunglasses. “We don’t know. That’s the rough part. We can honestly say that we have no idea why this is happening. That’s why we’re sending you in.” Harris and Jack decided not to take it the wrong way. “When you’ve activated the beacon, we’ll send in a stealth chopper to get you. Odds are, we’ll send it from Jalalabad, and it’ll bring you back there. If not, from and to India.” Harris nodded. Jack bunched his face displeasingly. “You’ll be fine. I can only hope that my guy is right now.” The PJ’s looked at each other.

“Don’t worry.” Jack assured OGA. “We’ll bring him home.” That was a promise the the aimed to keep.

They all started walking over to the C130 in the hangar. Not wanting to walk in awkward silence, Jack struck up conversation. “So, what other stuff did you discuss while you were talking with the higher-ups?” he asked OGA. Harris looked at him with a face that said, “Really?”, but OGA chuckled.

“The ‘Good Idea Fairy’ decided to pay us a visit.” Jack blinked. Harris groaned. “No worries; I kept her at bay.” Jack stepped forward and walked next to OGA.

“What did she bring us?”

OGA started to laugh. “Well, some genius thought that we should drop you from a B2, so that you wouldn’t risk being shot down. Another guy suggested sending you in with six guys from SFOD-D or DEVGRU. I explained that this was a small operation that needed minimal people involved; more people could get harder for this op. Another guy suggested using Stealth Fighters to take out potential enemy targets before you dropped. That idea got scrapped immediately. Those were easily the dumbest ideas, but there were certainly others.” Suddenly, Jack and Harris really appreciated this OGA guy running the op.

They were next to the plane. “Alright. When you drop, it looks like there’ll be some cloud cover. We’ll spend the next few hours getting everything prepared and quadruple checked. We’ll be off the ground at 2100. See you then.” The PJ’s nodded to OGA and set about checking all of their gear.

*********************************************************************************

The time for departure came quickly, though it didn’t feel so for Jack and Harris. Everything else that they needed was in the C130; parachutes and some small things, like bribing money and some tech. The tech included night vision, satcoms, thermal scopes, radio coms to talk to each other, and a laser for marking locations for a satellite. They also received some other gear; two flash-bang grenades each, one frag each, and one flare gun each. They put it all in their battle-rattle and took their seats in the plane.

OGA was across from them. “Alright, from now on, you’ll have to refer to each other by your callsigns.” He waited.

“Frost.” Jack said.

“Duke.”

OGA nodded. “Alright.” He gave a thumbs-up to the guy by the front, who returned it and went to the cockpit. A few minutes later, the plane started up. “Okay, so here’s what we’ve got.” OGA started. “Weather reports indicate a cloud bank that’s been hanging around the area for a while. Unfortunately, you’ll have to jump through it.” Frost and Duke looked at each other. “From Pakistani weather reports, the clouds are still about five thousand feet above the ground. That’s still enough time for your HALO drop.” The planes engines started up, and the C130 lurched forward on the runway. “You’ll be looking for this man.” OGA shouted over the engine, presenting a picture. The man in the picture was tall, wearing a skydiver’s outfit, and had a bunch of tech on him.

“He had no weapons when he dropped, since we didn’t want to risk anything on a simple recon mission. Turns out, we were right.” Duke took the photo. “We’ll drop you in the same area where my guy dropped. Start searching from there. When you find him, use your satcoms to contact us, and we’ll come get you.” Duke and Frost sat back as the plane took off right as OGA finished talking.

They spent the rest of the flight in silence. Duke was checking his own gear, while Frost was admiring his FE9. “Have you ever seen a more perfect knife?” Frost asked rhetorically.

“No, actually.” It’s a nice knife.

“Yeah. Curved edges to prevent people from gripping the blade. Finger grooves to keep it in my hand. Anodized steel for a stealthy black finish. I tell you, it’s amazing. You have to get one.” Duke went back to his gear. He should get one after the op.

About twenty minutes after takeoff, the pilot got on the intercom. “DZ in ten mikes.” Duke and Frost got up and checked each other’s rigs. When they finished and gave their okays, they moved to the back of the plane where the door was.

“Remember who you’re looking for!” OGA shouted. The door started to open.

“Five mikes to DZ.” The red light on the side of the cabin glowed angrily.

“And the rules of engagement are to get my guy the hell out of Pakistan!”

The light turned green. “GO GO GO!” the intercom shouted. Duke went out first, followed immediately by Frost. They looked down as they fell; OGA wasn’t kidding about the clouds. Even though it was night and it was dark, they were still the darkest things around, and they didn’t look very welcoming. They looked especially bad when there was a flash of lightning from underneath.

They didn’t tell us this would happen!” Frost thought, pissed off. He was about to be killed in a lightning storm because the CIA couldn’t keep track of its own people or check the damn weather report. Duke, meanwhile, was thinking tactically. “We’ll hopefully be safe until we hit the ground.” he hoped. He wasn’t a weatherman, so he didn’t know if the lightning would hit them mid-air.

When they first contacted the clouds, it felt like someone had shoved them hard on the whole front of their bodies. The clouds were bizarrely thick; they shouldn’t be able to get so dense that you can touch them like that. The trip was short, but incredibly unpleasant. Lightning flashed around them, blinding them for just a moment. Thunder boomed around them. It was as if someone had set off a stun grenade next to them. When they were finally clear of the clouds, they looked down. The ground was fast approaching, much faster than they were told to expect.

“Deploy!” Duke shouted into his radio. He and Frost deployed their chutes, being yanked up by the sudden reduction in speed. There was no wind or rain; apparently, it was a dry lightning storm.

“Boss, I thought that they said it would be raining.” Frost said into his radio.

Duke looked around. “They did. And they were wrong.”

The ground was fast approaching. When they landed, it they had to roll upon contact since they hadn’t lost enough speed. So far, nothing had gone quite according to plan on this op. “They also said that we would have more space between us and the ground.” Duke nodded. Immediately, the two went about packing up their chutes. Unfortunately, since they did have US logos on them, they had to pack them up in a carriable fashion. Once they were done, they put the packs on their backs and looked west.

“You wanna start in that direction, boss man?” Frost asked. Duke looked out there. In the distance, there was a small town with some lights.

“Sure. Let’s get moving.” They started trekking through the mountains towards their destination, heedfully walking through the unfamiliar terrain, vigilant of their surroundings.

This journey was going to be a long one.

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