Tiberius Rising

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 17 (v.1) - Condition Zero

Submitted: August 15, 2014

Reads: 376

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Submitted: August 15, 2014

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The two Specops laid prone in the thick foliage of the hashish farm. The Pakistani farmers were unorganized and placed the plants very closely together to maximise land efficiency, since they had very little growable land, they went for quantity over quality to hedge their bets. In the arid climate, it was very difficult for any agriculture to flourish. With the lack of proper terracing equipment, the farms were planted over rolling hills with jagged cliffs. The hashish farm took up approximately one square mile, sparsely spread out in between the badlands where nothing could grow, and ocasioanlly broken up by a farmhouse or shed, usually built from old wood or masonry bricks.

 

The Hashish farm was about a mile away from the cliff with the radio tower on top of it. Ramirez and Stryker barely had enough time after they parachuted to run to a nearby cave near the hashish farm before reinforcements arrived to check out the scene. They had hidden there for hours, waiting for the reinforcments to comb over the area and eventually leave, only leaving a few men to guard the location… which would be easy prey for Specops... but the enemy terrorist first responder recon team were persistent. Too persistent. Evidently, Stryker had pissed them off a little too much with that radio stunt. They were out for blood now… and Stryker was happy to oblige, but it was going to be their blood, not his.

 

Stryker merely grimaced, with Ramirez at his side. Ramirez was still unhappy that they had to leave Jenkins behind in order to escape, but they both knew that this wasn’t the time for it. “Boss… this is fucked. Like, really fucked.”, he whispered.

 

When Stryker and Ramirez finally emerged from the caves after hours of hiding, they were almost caught before Stryker had to take out a sentry. They’d tried hiding the body in the cave, but it was clear that they’d found the body by now. That was about a half hour to an hour ago. Since then, they’d been skulking around in the plantation, hoping to find some way out of the kill box that surrounded them.

 

After they hid the body, Ramirez gawked at the amount of foot mobiles in the area. The men could both hear trucks moving about carrying soldiers back and forth, barking orders to each other on their radios. These guys were much more organized and professional than the grunts they’d seen before… and worse, they seemed to know they were fighting against Spec Ops, and they adjusted their tactics accordingly. Whoever was leading these new Muslim troopers was clearly a tactical genius to match even Stryker.

 

“It looks even worse than when we hid. They’re fucking everywhere”, he said. “I know…” Stryker said. “Are you sure we couldn’t have just commandeered a jeep and blown this joint?” Ramirez said. “This double-tap doesn’t seem like a good idea now.”. The two crawled cautiously around, making sure to make as little noise as possible, zig-zagging between enemy patrols as they whispered back and forth. “Mind going over the plan again, boss?” Ramirez said.

 

Stryker grimaced, he was now very stressed out that his plan didnt go as he thought. His heart was pounding in his chest. “Enemies were supposed to show up. That’s the point of the plan… We cause a disturbance, we set off a few fireworks, then enemies show up to investigate… and then we take out those enemies. We get the defensive advantage and we get to ambush and surprise them. It’s called a double-tap, Ramirez. I planned this from the start… Guess I’d pissed them off a little bit too much” he said.

“You mind telling me about this shit before you do it next time, boss? No offense but I can’t read your mind. I knew you had a plan, but...” Ramirez began to say, but Stryker cut him off. “Plan? I don’t make plans, Ramirez, I make things happen. Plans are delicate. The enemy can find out your plan and out think you. I plan as I go.” he explained. The huge Mexican paused as he tried to work out Stryker’s words. “So you got an idea of how to capture Omar then?” he said tentatively.

 

“Simple… we draw him out and hope he takes the bait. That’s the whole point of the radio tower assault. I knew he was listening” stryker said. “Now our #1 priority is to escape alive. If we can get any intel on Omar, great. If not… then let’s just cut our losses.”

 

“These soldiers aren’t like any insurgents I’ve ever fought before…” Ramirez trailed off.

 

The sun had just set, and the twilight sky offered a dim light. Stryker and Ramirez cautiously peeked their heads out from the thick underbrush of the hashish fields, rifles at the ready. The tall plants offered excellent concealment. Silent as hunting wolves, the two heard footsteps in every direction as militants searched the nearby area with flashlights mounted on their AK-47’s. The militants were now coming in full force in every direction. The first responders knew Stryker was nearby the radio tower, and they were searching for him. “Alright, Let’s start to move toward the enemy vehicles. If we can hijack one and get out of here, we’re golden. If we can kill some enemies, even better.” Ramirez nodded. “This Juggernaut armor ain’t exactly good for sneaking, commander”, the huge Mexican said. “Yeah… shit, you’re right.” The two men sighed. “Back to the drawing board, eh ese?” The Mexican said. “Yeah… fuck. We just keep digging our hole deeper, don’t we?” Stryker admitted.

“It’s what Spec Ops do…” Ramires said. "Keep pushing our luck... But our luck's ran dry, man. We gotta get out of here…”

“SSSH” Stryker whispered hastily as a guard began to walk near them. The footsteps grew closer. The two men laid prone, holding their breath, clutching their combat knives and hoping to God they wouldn’t have to use them. The guard walked right up to them, but didn’t seem to notice them, sweeping his gun back and forth horizontally and never thinking to look down.

Stryker was relieved when he knew the guards were using flashlights. While they are useful in some situations, flashlights deaden your cone of vision to a very narrow area and ruin your natural nightvision, leaving you unable to use your full field of view. Worse, the flashlights give you away to anyone who might be in hiding. It’s a beginner’s mistake to rely on flashlights and other light sources, but a very common one. Even one brief flash of light is enough to completely destroy your nightvision and it takes another five minutes of black to adjust. Stryker’s nightvision was almost blinded several times by distant flashlight flashes but thankfully his eyepatch was able to act as a back-up. In ancient days pirates used to use eyepatches because even if their nightvision was ruined on one eye by a flash, they could just take off their eyepatch and still have perfect adjusted nightvision on their other eye. It was like a back-up option in case of emergency. This is why Stryker always wore one on missions, just in case. As another bonus it looked pretty badass too, but that wasnt the point. Stryker always made sure to paint over the black leather eyepatch whenever applying his camoflague so that it didn’t stick out and reveal his location.

But none of that mattered now. Eventually, after a long silence. the man walked past. Luck smiled on them once again, and the two hoped it wouldn’t be the last time. “These are a lot of soldiers. Too many, if you ask me. “ Stryker said. “I get the feeling we’ve really caught the enemy attention here.” Stryker added: “I’m going to try to get a better view… cover me.” he said. Ramirez merely nodded.

Stryker retrieved a snake cam from one of the pockets on his chest rig and plugged it into his wrist-mounted PC. Snake cams are a recon device consisting of a metal “snake” made of interconnecting metal rings, with the “head” of the snake replaced by a fiber optic camera. Originally designed for SWAT teams to look for enemies underneath doors, they were designed to “snake” underneath the door frames and provide live cam footage to the viewer so they could get visual on a room before clearing it. Stryker’s was a custom-made piece, the kind of thing you couldn’t find in a catalog; it’s frame was retractable and could extend distances of up to 3 ft, allowing the user to peer through air vents, etc. Even better than a hand-mirror, these snake cams didn’t reflect light, and therefore were much better to use without giving away your position to an enemy. They could accurately peer around corners, even through small air vents or cracks in walls without giving any indication or alerting the enemy. Stryker activated his snake cam on his PDA and used it to climb up the nearby hashish stalk. The stalk was about 4 feet tall, and after climbing to the top, the snake cam was able to get a visual of the surrounding area. However the snake “head” was so small and non reflective, nobody could see it… but Stryker could see Through it with his Wrist-Computer. This allowed him to scan the nearby area.

Immediately he spotted a series of floodlights near the cluster of farmhouses about a quarter-mile to the west. The enemy had them rigged up to mobile generators and were using them to try and make it harder for the Spec Ops to hide. They seemed to have turned the farmhouses into a temporary base of ops and the large barn was clearly the HQ.  Looking around carefully Stryker caught a brief glint of something in the farm house rooftop. He knew a sniper squad when he saw one. He cursed internally. When he glanced to the edges, he saw the situtation wasn’t any better. On all edges of the hashish plantation were guards patrolling the edges with floodlights hooked up. This meant that if Stryker and Ramirez tried to leave quietly they would surely be spotted and killed, if not by the patrolling guards on the edges of the plantation, than by the snipers.

“...Fuck”, Stryker whispered, retrieving the snake cam again. When he looked back at Ramirez, he met a cold gaze from behind his Juggernaut helmet. His face was concealed entirely by the thing, making him appear inhuman. Since the helmet had no pathway to the mouth except a rebreather, the voice module was necessary for anyone to hear when the wearer spoke. One side effect was changing the wearer’s voice to a low, robotic menacing growl.

“What if we pretend to give up? Or something?” Ramirez’s voice croaked, letting out a dry, self-depricating chuckle. “You really think they’d make it easy for us to escape? No offense sir, but I’d rather go down in a blaze of glory than rot in a terrorist prison camp for 10 years.”

“Don’t talk like that”, Stryker said. “Nobody else is going to die today.”

“The mission comes first, Boss”, Ramirez said. “Let me stay.” He said. “We both know you’re a better ghost than me. You can sneak past ‘em. I’ll link up with you later.”

“Link up with me? How? This is a fucking killbox. You’re outgunned and outnumbered, and there's no way you can sneak out of here, even without that suit... you're a heavy gunner, not an infiltrator.”

“Way I see it, either I survive, we both go home and link up at base camp for some beers… or I don’t, and we link up in hell, and it's on the house. Like you said, double-tap, right?” Ramirez said, his cold words muffled and distorted by the voice changer on his Juggernaut suit. “Hell… if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s starting shit, boss. I’ll be the distraction. You head off… and you finish the fight for me.” Stryker began to hear footsteps in the distance… but his body was frozen. He was in shock. Unable to think straight.

Stryker merely stared at him, trying to conceal his emotions and remain professional. His sadness at knowing his best friend might not survive. His at the world for making this happen, his rage at himself for allowing it to happen like this. But there was no way for both of them to survive… Not like this.

“I won’t let you die, Ramirez!” Stryker said, a little louder than he should have. “One man is enough for today!”

“Marines don’t die, boss. They just go to hell to regroup” Ramirez said, laughing to himself again. And in that sentence, Stryker knew there was no way to talk him out of it. There was a clear path he could sneak down, and escape the situation, leaving Ramirez to die. As a commander, he knew it was the right option. But as a human being, he was terrified.

For the first time in his life, he hesitated... just long enough for a patrol to approach the two. A second later, he was blinded by the flashlight mounted on an AK47. “I found them!” the Muslim shouted in Farsi, and leveled his gun at Stryker's head, standing tall above him as Stryker laid on the ground concealed. “Not so fast, gringo!” he heard a muffled voice cry out, as the 7 foot tall terror of a man stood up from behind the Muslim and rammed a huge knife through his chest, his blood spurting out right at Stryker. The knife pierced straight through his lungs, draining his breath before he could even scream. The body fell on the ground, and Ramirez stood tall before Stryker as he laid on the ground, paralyzed.

“RUN, YOU LOCO BASTARD!! RUN!!” Ramirez yelled, his voice like a demon.

Stryker got to his feet as nearby alerted soldiers began heading toward their location, flashlights sweeping back and forth like car headlights about to run him down. He turned heel and ran faster than he’d ever run before. The Commander was at his limit. His body and mind were blank, the civilized part of his mind having just died. The only thing left in him was absolute terror… the two slowly mixing into an anger that burned like wildfire in his eyes. This was the beginning of the end.


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