The Horsemen

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic

Gabriel Freeman, a US military special operative working on a mission, goes through a devastating failure and ends up in a cell. He plans to escape and take vengeance on the man that caused him to wind up there.

The Horsemen

By Jonathan Isaac

Part One: Containment

Life is one thing that is not meant to be trifled with, but some people just ignore that fact.

“Your name is Gabriel Michael Freeman, correct?” I just sat in my chair, looking up at the security camera in my containment cell. “Is it?” The question was asked to me again.

“Who’s asking?” I asked as I finally looked over at the person who was questioning me. Before I looked I could tell that the voice belonged to a woman, but I couldn’t tell what age. I saw that she was maybe around her late thirties, but I could be wrong.

“What happened the morning of September 12, 2054?”

Mission report:

September 11, 2054

Baghdad, Iraq

Gabriel Freeman ‘Azrael’

“Seraph Squad”

Infiltrate and Acquire

11:48 P.M.

 

“Positioned as planned, sir,” came through my radio.

“Hold position until I give the code word.” was my response.

“You ready, Gabe?” I could hear General Holtre booming through his end of the mic.

“Do I get a choice?”

“Smart soldier. Good luck Seraphs.” said General Holtre.

 

“You said earlier that they would wipe your memories after every mission, but how do you know that?” The young woman brought me out of my day-dream remembrance of the start of my downfall.

“I thought you wanted me to tell you a story?” I said as I smirked. 

“I’m asking you a question, Gabriel; whether you answer it or not is not my problem, but it could just get you out of this place.”

“I never had all my memories wiped. They left some in so I would remember who they were, who my team was, and what I was to them.”

“What were you to them?”

“The Angel of Death...”

 

“Light it up!” I screamed from my head mic.

“You’re still in there! We will not risk losing our best killer in this military since ‘96!” came the booming voice of the General.

“With all due respect, sir, this decision is not in your hands,” I shouted over the mic.  “Morgan, blow it!” With that, the entire building around me came down as I ran to an open window. No more than three stories high, I jumped. From there everything went black. What I thought I knew about the world and about the people I was close to, vanished.

I woke up in what looked to be something like a hospital room. The clock on the wall read 9:32. From where I was lying I couldn’t tell what had happened. There was a strange tingling feeling in my right arm. As I looked at it, I saw nothing more than a stub. “Wasss… goins on, doctor?” I tried to speak but my speech was slurred.

“Just lie down and close your eyes. You took a big hit from that building.  Your team spent the whole night searching the wreckage for you.”

“Where is everyone else…?” I pushed myself up only to be held down by the doctors that were treating me. “Where’s my team?!” I shouted as I tried to free myself from the grasps of the doctors and scientists bustling around me. I thrusted my full weight up and came crashing down onto the floor. I jumped to my feet, but was still too groggy to resist.  My thrashing was useless. I was sedated.

 

“Is there a scar or something on your arm to show the previous damage done to it?” Once more I was interrupted. I rolled up my sleeve and cracked my right thumb back. Air rushed out of my arm as gears and gyros were at work.

“Science ruined me.” I told her. I pushed my thumb back into place and my arm closed. “Do you want to know the full story, or are you going to keep asking me crap all day, because I have an escape planned for 4:30.”

“Sure you do, and I have a date at 5:00.”

“Then I guess we’re both in a time crunch, so let's get this over with.”

Mission Report:

December 28, 2060

Baghdad, Iraq

Gabriel Freeman  ‘Azrael

“The Four Horsemen”
Extermination

7:14 A.M.

 

“Freeman, do you copy? When is your team going to be ready?” scolded the Colonel.

“We’ll be ready when Sanchez sets up to flank from the tower, Colonel.” I replied.

“Ready when you are, boss.” Sanchez was the newest member of ‘The Four Horsemen.’

“Finally!!! Freeman we’re sending you dark now! Don’t fail me Horsemen!”

“Go right ahead, sir.” A switch could be heard flipping on the other end of the mic and my body disappeared. Three more switches were heard and the rest of my team disappeared. We were the four horsemen. The bringers of the apocalypse, and life… was at a standstill.

 

“How long has it been?” a voice said from the other side of a door.

“About six years sir.”

“Seems like longer than that since we lost our angel.” Raihn, Sanchez, Diaz and I were standing outside the door listening.

“Sounds like the old General has some stress in his hand.” said Diaz. I waved at the door to signal Raihn to arm a detonator. Once it was armed we darted to the back of the hallway and hid around the corner. Raihn detonated the bomb, and the door blew off.  We ran into the door and held the two people at gunpoint. Diaz on the General, and Sanchez on the other one. Raihn and I looked around the room for a file that we were supposed to collect and return to the Colonel.

“Freeman… over here!” Raihn held out a file to me. I opened it and out slid a picture.

“What’s this?” Raihn said. She picked up the picture and examined it for a few seconds before putting her hand to her mouth and dropping it.

“What’s that?” I asked. I picked it up and looked at it. It took me less than a second to see that the picture was of me and… the General… that we… had… hostage?  I looked over at the General, and he at me.

“What’s this!?” I shouted as I shoved the picture in his lap and put my gun to his chest. “Tell me what it is before I turn your chest inside out!”

“I haven’t seen that picture in a long time. I’m surprised you don’t recognize that handsome devil.” said the General.

“Stop playing! Who is this!?” I demanded.

“It’s me and you, six years back. Me and you… Azrael.” He gave me back the picture.

“What’s going on in there?” shouted the Colonel, “We lost visual!”

“Mission is a no go, we are coming home.” I replied over the mic.

“Why!? Was the file there!? Is the General dead yet!?” Some commotion could be heard on the Colonel’s side of the mic. I cupped my hand to my head as images of an explosion and a conversation across mics ran through my head.

“Freeman?” asked Diaz, “you ok man? You’re looking a bit jacked up.”

 

“The last thing I remember is collapsing onto the floor and blacking out, and the next thing I know, I’m in here for God knows how long before you come in and talk to me.”

“You said you know what happened.” said my questioner. I looked up at the clock.  It was 4:29, and counting.

“Looks like it’s time for me to make my great escape. I warned you.” A flip of a switch was heard and my body disappeared entirely. “I told you I would…” my voice echoed around the room.

I got through the door of the cell and into the city.  Standing outside was Diaz.

“Diaz?” I said.

“Yeah boss?”

“You got the chopper?”

“I sure did.  It’s up in the mountains.”

“Is everyone else there?”

“Oh yeah.  Everyone’s eager to see you again.”

“Tell them to bring it here and pick us up.”

I was riding in the helicopter, armed with a Tac-40 and an M16, and flying over a vast desert.  The helicopter flew up over a hill and my target came into sight.  I shouted to the pilot, “Sanchez!  Keep the heli here and be ready for our run out!”

We slid down the rope and landed on the top of an all too familiar tower. I whispered, “I’m coming for you… you can’t escape me now Colonel.  No one escapes Death.”

 

Part Two: Take the Tower

With my Tac-40 at my side and my M16 in my hand, I set foot on the top of an all too familiar tower. With Raihn and Diaz at my back, we made our way down through the top of the tower. Our enhanced genes were deactivated for the moment, but I didn’t care. I wanted the Colonel to know that we were coming for him. I wanted him to live the last few moments of his life in agony and fear of what I’d do once I found him.

We swept the whole tower, floor by floor, until we came to the base. Our time was limited, but I had no doubt in my mind that the Colonel would soon be a dead man. We had gone down each floor, leaving none alive. Some say that Death carries a grim scythe, but personally I prefer the cold grip of a semi-automatic. Now, all that was left, was floor number one.

The large steel door blocked us from entering into the final floor of the tower. For a normal man, this door would have been impassible. But for us, for The Horsemen, there is no object made by man that can keep us away. “We’re going in loud,” I told Diaz, “arm the detonators.” We ducked behind cover as Diaz blew the door clean off its hinges. Moments after the door blew off, a spray of gunfire shot down the hallway. We stayed behind cover as bullets flew past us. I motioned to Raihn to ready her flashbang grenade. I closed my eyes and covered my ears as Raihn tossed the flash down the hallway towards the gunfire. Three seconds later, the gunfire stopped.

I stood up from behind my cover and advanced towards the doorway. Inside the room were six men, once armed with state of the art automatic weapons, now kneeling on the floor trying to find their way around. I looked through the six men on the ground, but none of them were the Colonel. Diaz and Raihn joined me in the room. “Where is he?” Diaz asked. I looked at the control console on the far end of the room. There were monitors lining the wall with the feed from a security camera rolling on each one. As I looked I heard a voice, “My angel has returned to me.” The camera feed on the monitors shifted to the top of the tower. The Colonel stood with several other men in front of the security camera.

“You were trained well Gabriel, but I cannot say the same about your friend here.” The Colonel stepped aside and two men approached the camera holding Sanchez by the arms. “You should’ve stayed in your cell Freeman. Maybe then you wouldn’t have your teammate’s blood on your hands.” I watched helplessly as the Colonel pulled a gun on Sanchez and pointed it at his head. “Boss…” Sanchez whispered, “make sure he ends up in hell with me.” I couldn’t look away. I stood in terror as the Colonel executed my friend. I dropped to my knees as I watched the Colonel board our helicopter and fly away from the tower. We were stranded, surrounded by the stench of death, with no way away from the tower. 


 

Part Three: Rescue, Recuperate, Redeploy

For days, Raihn, Diaz and I had to survive with what we could find. Food and water was limited, and hope began to fade as the sixth day or being stuck came to a close. We paid no attention to the slowly decaying around us. All we could think about was surviving as long as we possibly could. The only occupation we had was burying Sanchez, and that was all said and done in a matter of moments. The only chance we had for rescue, was a partially broken comms system that needed repairs. Diaz worked day and night, but mostly to no avail. The only frequencies that we could intercept from the comms were just some jumbled up radio talk show broadcasts.

After eight days of limited to no food, rationed water, and being surrounded by corpses, Diaz hit the jackpot. “Hey boss,” Diaz said, “I think I got it!” Raihn and I looked over Diaz’s shoulder and sure enough, he had intercepted a United States special forces frequency. We sent out an SOS signal and waited for a response. Finally, things were looking up. After a few hours, we heard the roar of a military transport plane. Diaz undid his work on the comms as Raihn and I made our way to the top of the tower for exfiltration.

A group of spec ops soldiers waiting for us on top of the tower. As we approached them one stepped forward and introduced himself, “My name is Sgt. Coleridge. We got here as soon as we could after we heard the distress signal, but I have to be honest, I thought there’d be a more… interesting turn of events.” I shook the Sgt.’s hand and said, “You showed up just in time Sgt. We’ve been stuck here for days with no way out. As for action, you boys are just about a week late. I’m Freeman, head of The Horsemen special forces squad.” Sgt. Coleridge smiled, “I’ve heard a lot about you Freeman. Word is you’re more dangerous than the grim reaper himself.” I smirked, “You could say that.” I pointed to Diaz and Raihn, “These two are also part of my crew. The fourth one we lost during infiltration of this tower.” “My condolences Freeman. At least you three survived. Now, what do you say we get back to HQ?” I followed Sgt. Coleridge to the transport and strapped myself in for the long flight back.

It felt good to be back on familiar ground, but I could still feel the missing pieces of the puzzle tugging at the back of my mind. We had lost a good soldier and barely survived ourselves, but I guess that’s what we’re bread to do. We go in, we fight, and we either make it out alive, or die trying. We had a soldier’s funeral at HQ for Sanchez, but throughout the whole ceremony I could only think of his last words. ‘Boss… make sure he ends up in hell with me.’ I whispered to myself, “His sins will not go unpunished my friend.”

“You’re doing what!?” I paid no attention to the Sgt.’s questions. All I could think about was going after the Colonel. As I neared the barracks, Sgt. Coleridge finally stopped me, “You know it’s a suicide mission Freeman. If you go after him you’re not going to be coming back.” I looked at Sgt. Coleridge, “And what if I don’t go after him? I can’t live with myself knowing that Sanchez died because of me. I was the one who wanted to take my revenge on the Colonel, my team was just following orders. At the very least, going after him will clear my conscience.” I pushed past Sgt. Coleridge. “Then you’re not going alone Freeman.” I stopped and listened. “If you’re chasing after the Colonel, then I’m coming with you. I didn’t save you from that tower just so you could go out and sacrifice your life again.” “Sgt., oftentimes what seems like bravery, can just be straight fear. When the adrenaline pumps through your veins, and your only thought is on your next move, you don’t have to worry about the consequences. Then when the mission’s done, you look back and see your mistakes. You see where you went wrong and what needed to be done better. I’ve looked back too often and found myself wondering what could’ve been done better, or what we should have done rather than what happened. I may be the embodiment of death himself, but I still feel pain. I’m so used to seeing the death of my enemies, that I wasn’t prepared to see the death of a friend, and that’s something that I can’t see again. So thank you for the offer Sgt., but I’m going after him alone.” “I wasn’t asking for an invitation, Freeman, and I know I’m not the only one who thinks the same way I do.”

I tossed and turned as I layed in the barracks. Throughout the night, visions and dreams of the tower flooded my subconscious. It was like I was living the whole event all over again. “My angel has returned to me…” I kept hearing that haunting voice of the Colonel, picking at my mind as I slept. “You should’ve stayed in your cell… maybe then you wouldn’t have your teammate’s blood on your hands…” I was pulled out of sleep as my subconscious pulled the trigger on Sanchez. The light glared through the barrack’s window and threatened to blind my vision. I looked around. I was alone in my room. I buried my head in my hands and brushed my hair out of my face. With each passing day, the nightmares and the memories got worse. I knew that if I didn’t begin hunting the Colonel, I’d tear myself apart.

“Sgt. Coleridge,” I approached the Sgt. and looked him dead in the eye, “If you’re sure you want to risk your life, then start preparing. We leave as soon as we can. Gather the rest of the soldiers that are willing to risk following me to the abyss and meet me at the landing strip in two hours.” I shook his hand and turned back to my barracks to prepare to leave the base. We didn’t have permission to leave, but nothing was going to stop me from going after the Colonel.

I watched as Sgt. Coleridge approached the landing strip with a small army behind him. Among the soldiers following were Diaz and Raihn. I shook his hand, “How many did you rope in Sgt.?” I asked. He looked back at those following him, “Barely over a dozen Freeman. I hope it’s enough for you.” “Oh it’s more than enough.” I looked over the soldiers that Sgt. Coleridge had brought. Many looked ready to follow to the end, but not all of them. I paced back and forth, inspecting each and every one. I split the soldiers into two groups, those who were ready and part of the mission, and those who weren’t. By the time I finished, we only had six remaining. I had not only chosen based on looks and physique, but also on the specialty of the soldier. We had Diaz and Raihn, my two closest friends. Diaz was an amazing techy, and Raihn was a darn good marksman. Of the other four that I chose, there was a sniper, a demolitions expert, and two pilots. After what happened to Sanchez, I didn’t want to take any risk of one being left alone. “The rest of you can go back to your barracks. These six will be the only ones coming with Sgt. Coleridge and I.” Sgt. Coleridge watched as the rest of those he had brought left, “You’ve sent away some mighty fine soldiers Freeman. I hope you know what you’re doing.” I looked at him, “Easier to sneak past an army when you don’t have one.”

We strapped ourselves in as Doxon and Mccallops, our two pilots, began preparation for take off. “Where to sir?” Doxon shouted. I called up to the cockpit, “The tracking system on the helicopter he took went dark somewhere over North Africa! Let’s start by looking there!” The engines began to roar as we entered the final stages of take off. A minute later, we were up in the air and on our way to the Sahara desert.

I grouped together the soldiers that had come with me. In the back of the transport plane, I showed them my plan. “The helicopter went dark somewhere over Morocco, so that’s where we’re going to start. We lay low there for a little while well we do some recon so see if the Colonel has been there. If, after a few days, we find that he hasn’t been there, then we move on. The Colonel isn’t all cold and heartless, he enjoys the finer things in life, so we can rule out any city that isn’t the capital or that doesn’t have connections in some way to Europe or the United States. Any questions?” I looked around. One of the rookies, the one training to be a sniper, raised his hand. “What is it kid?” I asked. “If we find the Colonel’s base, what do we do next?” It was a valid question, and one that I had just barely begun to think about, “You report back to the group. I’ve been contemplating different approaches to getting inside the base, but I don’t have a solid idea at the moment.” The rookie nodded. “What’s your name kid?” I asked. “William, William Donne.” “I hear you're quite the marksman William. You may even take over Raihn’s job.” I glanced over to Raihn. She was not impressed, but still she let out a little chuckle, “Maybe you will kid,” she said to him, “one day.” Raihn patted him on the back as he smiled at her and nodded his head. I’d only known him for less than an hour, but I felt like I was already able to understand how he ticked, and honestly, he was very much like myself when I started in the military.

“We’re nearing Morocco sir! Where do you want us to put ‘er down?” Mccallops said. “I made my way to the cockpit and sat in one of the empty seats. “Put it down near the Atlas mountains. We can use them as cover to both hide the plane and as a place to camp out if necessary.” “Yes sir.” I strapped myself into the seat and yelled back to the rest of the soldiers, “Strap yourselves in, get ready to land!”

 

Part Four: Under the Moroccan Moon

We tried our best to keep off of the radar of any suspecting eyes, but with a military transport plane flying high, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone spotted us along the way. We were flying an unregistered aircraft that we had commandeered from a US military base, so if any attention was drawn, it was from our own country. Mccallops and Doxon set the plane down deep in the Atlas mountains, far from any potential prying eyes. We unloaded our gear, set up camp and met for one final debrief. “Doxon, Mccallops, I want you two to stay here with the plane and the camp. If someone did follow us, then we don’t want to leave this all unguarded. Stay out of site, and stay safe. As for the rest of us, we’re going out tomorrow, bright and early, to try to hunt down this pitiful excuse of a man."

The night came without sleep for me. No matter which way I turned, I always felt something pulling on my mind. I stood up and began to pace around camp, but I couldn’t shake the feeling from my head. I had a knot in the bottom of my stomach, a feeling that something just wasn’t right. It might have been the anticipation of being so close to catching the Colonel, or it just might have been plain old fear. One of the rookies, the demolitions expert, was keeping watch. “Can’t sleep boss?” he said to me. “I just got one of those feelings. Something isn’t right Bennet, but I just can’t seem to put a finger on it.” “I know how you feel boss. It’s not the same thing, but if it makes you feel better, I felt the same way when I started to think my ex-wife was cheating on me. Not a fun spot to be in.” I knew Bennet was trying to help, but to be honest he wasn’t the best at it. I patted him on the back and said, “Why don’t you go get some rest, I’ll cover the rest of your shift tonight.” “Thanks, boss.” Bennet made his way to the inside of the plane and layed down in a sleeping bag. I looked out over the horizon, even though there was no horizon to see. Throughout the whole night, I didn’t get a wink of sleep. Whenever the time for a shift change came, I told the new watcher to go back to sleep and that I’d take care of their shift. I sat by myself, pondering, planning and contemplating the events of the upcoming day.

Watching the sunrise over the Atlas mountains calmed my stomach, just slightly. The combination of fiery oranges and deep, golden yellows turned the sky into the most beautiful display of art that I’d ever seen. The cool of the night began to fade away as the rising of the sun seemed to bring new life to the breaking day. 

We sat around a small table, eating some of the food we’d brought as rations. As we ate I layed out the plan, “Alright, Raihn and Diaz, I want you two to go scout into the far side of the city. Move around unnoticed just in case. Doxon and Mccallops, you two are staying here to protect the camp. Radio us if something comes up. Donne and Bennet, you two are doing the short range recon. Go out, look around the closest edge of the city, then make your way back when you’re done to help Doxon and Mccallops. Sgt. Coleridge and I are going to make our way into the heart of the city, so Raihn and Diaz, we’ll stick with you halfway, but you’ll go on ahead of us. Does everyone understand their assignments?” No questions were asked. “Good. Now let’s back all this up and get ready to move out. If the Colonel is here, he won’t wait long before moving onto another location.”

We unloaded the two trucks that we had brought over in the transport and split into two groups, those going far and those staying close. Raihn, Diaz, Sgt. Coleridge and I took one, and Donne and Bennet took the other. It was going to be about a nine hour drive from where we were in the mountains to Rabat

 


Submitted: November 10, 2020

© Copyright 2020 Jonathan Isaac. All rights reserved.

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