Stolen Liberty: Behind the Curtain, страница 1
BEHIND THE CURTAIN
THOMAS A. WATSON
Copyright © May 10, 2018
THOMAS A WATSON, WILLIAM ALLEN &
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
A special Thank you to the following people for all your help:
Nicholas A. Watson
EDITED BY SABRINA JEAN
This book is a work of Fiction. People, places, events, and situations are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or historical events, is purely coincidental.
This book may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in whole or in part by any means, including graphic, electronic, or mechanical without the written consent of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Thank you for acknowledging the hard work of this author. If you didn’t purchase this book or it wasn’t purchased for you, please go purchase your own copy now.
Well here it is, over a year’s worth of work from myself, Will Allen and M.C. Allen at long last. I wanted to do this story with them for a long time. We actually talked about it three years ago but each of us had so many projects going at the time we had to schedule this into the works. I love this story and the characters and can’t wait to see where this will lead. When I do a story, I do the beginning and the end. Well, this time I only did the outline for the beginning and a very rough outline for the end. Will and M.C. have been adding to the end and it is still evolving. I have to say, I love working with the brothers. When I approached them the only stipulation in taking this project was Tina has the final say and both looked at me and went ‘Well duh dumbass’. In my part of this book I’m dedicating it to all of my fans who have made it possible for me to become a full-time author.
Thomas A Watson.
Full credit for this story idea must go to Thomas A. Watson and I am proud to be invited to play in his playground here. This was my first effort writing something as part of a group and I thoroughly enjoyed not just the writing but also the opportunity to hang out with some really interesting people and bounce ideas around as we fleshed out the story. For me, writing this book also gave me a chance to learn more about a unique group of individuals who have sacrificed so much in the name of liberties the rest of us take for granted. I want to dedicate my part of this book to the United States Army Rangers, past and present. Thank you.
When Thomas Watson asked me about working on this project, I’ll admit I was not only shocked, but terrified at the prospect. I couldn’t wrap my head around something this amazing could ever just drop into my lap. I wanted to honor all of the members of our armed services who put their lives on the line every day. I served with Charlie Company, 82nd Engineer Battalion out of Bamberg, Germany, and we lost three brave souls in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. Three others in that ill-fated squad suffered horrendous wounds, but they survived and walk among us today. The last member of the squad didn’t suffer so much as a scratch, but in a way, his demons tormented him. He was my roommate at the time, and his nightmare screams still haunt me. Sean D., wherever you are, I hope you are well and in a good place.
For my Brothers.
Cast of Characters
Randy Gibson (aka Shadow) – Machinist.
Lena and Oliver (Mom and Pop)-Randy’s parents.
Cody Marshal (aka Baby Face) Does odd jobs for the trio. Lives with them and has a room at each of their homes.
Charlie Tucker (aka Book)
Robbie (aka Blaster)
Aaron Peterson (aka Cobra. Hates snakes.) Wife Elizabeth (Liz). Kids: Andre 9 and Eli 6.
Bert Travis (aka Pirate)
Frank (aka Wheat) dead and Kristi Wheaton (six years older than the trio) Kids: Clark and Emily
Tabitha (Kristi’s younger sister) Husband: Dillion Greenway. Kid: Chase.
Victor- stalker that the boys went and talked to then beat the shit out of for bothering Kristi.
Winston Zimmer – Korean War vet. Widower, old man who lives next to Randy. One that owned the retreat.
Captain Winnfield- CO in the Stan and now Colonel.
Nangarhar Providence, Afghanistan
Trying to pull air into his burning lungs with the high noon sun overhead, Randy spun around, dropping the body he was carrying and bringing up his M4. Seeing movement on the rocky trail, he held the ACOG sight steady and saw the figure wasn’t wearing fatigues but was carrying an AK47. Squeezing the trigger, he watched the hadji drop, rolling into a ravine.
“Shadow, we aren’t stopping to play!” Charlie shouted at him, running past and carrying a body over his shoulder.
Moving his aim, Sergeant Randy Gibson, aka ‘Shadow’ to his team, saw another hadji and squeezed the trigger.
“Dude, you heard Book, and I can’t carry another one. Move your ass,” Robbie said, running past while carrying a body over his shoulder.
Slinging his M4, Randy picked up the body of PFC Griffin, moving it onto his right shoulder. Getting to his feet, he struggled under the weight to follow Robbie in a jog.
He was in the 75th Rangers and had moved out five days ago with fourteen men to take out four HVTs, high value targets, in the eastern part of Afghanistan in the providence of Nangarhar. When they’d taken out the targets last night, it had pissed off a lot of their friends. Since 0310, they had been trying to break contact without luck.
Of the fourteen, only eight were still moving. The others were dead and being carried out. Some, like Pirate, or back in the world known as PFC Bert Travis, couldn’t even hold a weapon, but they still bore the weight of their fallen and kept up the pace. They believed in the creed that no Ranger gets left behind. They were now running on a rocky, barren ridgeline under the crest, following a narrow trail.
Holding the body on his shoulder tight, Randy jogged past Robbie. “Eat me, country boy,” Robbie huffed with a grin, watching Shadow close the distance fast to Charlie. “That boy can run like a gazelle.”
Behind them, an AK47 barked and Randy saw dirt kick up around him. “Thank you, God, for having idiots shooting at us on full auto,” Randy mumbled, passing Charlie.
“Don’t piss God off or He might tell the hadjis to switch to single shot and they could actually hit us,” Charlie snapped. “We’ve had enough FUBAR on this field trip.”
Passing Platoon Sergeant Wheaton, Randy glanced over. “You need to move because none of us can carry your big ass, Wheat,” Randy said, passing him. Randy was 6’2” and weighed a lean 224 lbs. Wheaton was four inches taller and forty pounds heavier.
“I’m going to beat your ass when we get back,” Wheaton panted, adjusting the body on his shoulder.
Reaching the front of the group, Randy put Griffin down and pulled his M4 up. He snapped off two shots and watched another pursuer’s body drop. “They are really pissed off, Book. You and Blaster need to move it,” Randy pressed his PTT (Push-To-Talk) box, call
“Talk to Blaster. He’s the one who left the claymore mines for them,” Charlie called back.
“Fuck both of you, I was spreading goodwill,” Robbie huffed over the radio. “Not my fault they didn’t like the fireworks. Besides, Book is the one that started this shit with his sniper rifle.”
“I hit my targets, bitch. Each one saw the pink mist,” Charlie snapped back.
“Boys!” Wheaton shouted over the radio.
“Boys! We are hard charging airborne rangers; not PX Rangers!” Robbie popped off.
“And I’m an Airborne Ranger Sergeant First Class!” Wheaton snapped. “Close your crumb catchers and move. I’m tired of playing with these towel heads.”
As the group filed past him, Randy kept his aim behind them, shooting tangos as they ran into the ravine. “Blaster, do you have any more claymores?” Wheaton called over the radio.
“When have I ever not had explosives?” Robbie shouted back.
Letting the comment slide, Wheaton barked, “Ahead, the trail narrows. Book, peel off and cover him. Shadow, hold there as long as you can to slow them down. Then put asshole to elbows because we aren’t coming back to get you.”
“First you want me to run, then stop. You need to make up your damn mind, old man,” Randy popped off into the radio, grinning. Wheaton was the ‘old man’ being thirty, as the next oldest were Book, Blaster, and Randy at twenty-four. None of the others, living or dead, were a day over twenty-two years of age.
With a big grin, Charlie ran past Randy. “You know calling him an old man pisses him off.”
“Yeah and life sucks ass, Book,” Randy laughed, squeezing the trigger and watching the hadji pitch over to crash on the trail.
“Want my SAW?” Robbie asked, running toward him.
“Hell no, Blaster, I like to send out my love one shot at a time,” Randy answered, squeezing the trigger and dropping another body into the ravine.
Running past Randy, “If a bullet has your name on it, that’s one thing. I address my love ‘to whom it may concern’ when I blow their asses up,” Robbie snarked as he chuckled.
Dropping down on his right knee, Randy saw four bodies, a hundred yards back, run into the ravine. They all stopped, seeing the bodies Randy had already taken out. “Thank you,” he grinned, squeezing the trigger rapidly and watching impacts on all the bodies.
Dropping the empty magazine, Randy tossed it in his dump bag and pulled a fresh one off his vest, slamming it in. Like Charlie, Robbie, and Wheaton, he was wearing a forbidden, self-purchased body armor vest with his gear attached to the webbing that ran around the it. The military demanded its troops to wear the IOTV, Improved Outer Tactical Vest, but that didn’t matter to the team. They had seen with their own eyes, the vests they were wearing stopped bullets and weighed ten pounds less, and pounds equaled pain.
Aiming down the ravine, he caught his breath as twenty hadjis ran into the ravine. “Shit,” he mumbled and started squeezing the trigger, moving the crosshairs to different hadjis.
It seemed the more he shot, the more poured into the ravine. “I’m out of here,” Randy finally huffed, since the hadjis were adding faster than he could subtract. Bending down, he grabbed Griffin’s body and threw it over his shoulder. The only thing on Griffin’s body was his uniform and boots. Like the other dead members of the team, they had stripped them down to save weight. Taking off in a dead run, Randy pressed his radio toggle. “Guys, they have a shitload of friends coming.”
“Count,” Wheaton panted over the radio.
“I took out fifteen, but more came into the ravine and I stopped counting at twenty,” Randy replied, forcing his legs to run. “They are fifty yards behind me. Just thought you would want to know because I’m passing you.”
Seeing the narrow gap in the trail, Charlie skidded to a stop and laid the earthly remains of PFC Eric Blakely on the ground and pulled his M110 up to his shoulder. Stopping beside Charlie, Robbie set Spec4 Horowitz’s body down and yanked a bag from his vest. “I need two minutes,” Robbie said, yanking a claymore out.
Seeing Randy two hundred yards back and running like the hounds of hell were after him, Charlie looked over at Robbie. “You have one, and I’m going to be hard-pressed to buy it for you,” Book told him, then put his eye on the scope. Hitting his scope with his clear combat goggles, Book moved his head back some. In the rocky hell of the Stan, goggles were needed to protect the eyes from the rock chips the bullets threw up.
“I hate shoddy work,” Robbie spat, already setting the claymore up.
Taking a deep breath, Book held the crosshairs steady behind Randy. When the first hadji appeared, he squeezed the trigger. The hadjiman jerked back when the bullet hit him in the face. Barely moving the crosshairs, Charlie squeezed the trigger again, dropping another.
“Fuck me,” he gasped at what could only be called a gaggle of men as they ran into his scope view.
Holding on a target, Book stroked the trigger, knocking one down and then moved his crosshairs across the group, dropping a body with each shot until his bolt locked back. Changing magazines, he saw the rest dive for cover while he shoved in a new magazine.
“I’m here,” Randy called out, running up the small knoll they were set up on. “Now I’m gone,” he said, running past them and jumping over the tripwire Robbie had over the trail.
Bullets started kicking up the dirt around him as Charlie took a slow breath and squeezed the trigger, hitting another in the face. Charlie felt rock fragments hit his cheek. A man beside the last hadji shot, peered over a boulder beside the trail and Charlie hit him in the face for good measure.
“You don’t have to hit them in the brain can, they aren’t zombies!” Robbie shouted.
“If they can take a 7.62 to the head, then they have earned the right to kick our ass,” Charlie mumbled, squeezing the trigger rapidly and dropping four more. “You done?” Charlie barked, seeing the rest of the attackers drop down again and the gunfire stop.
“Bitch, I’m waiting on you!” Robbie shouted, and Charlie turned to see Robbie adjusting the body he was carrying on his shoulder.
Jumping up, Charlie grabbed the body he was carrying, pulling it onto his left shoulder and stood. Seeing Charlie was ready, Robbie jumped the tripwire. “Don’t hit it or we are dead,” Blaster said with a giggle. “It’s a special message of love.”
“You have serious problems,” Charlie grunted, jumping the tripwire. Gunfire slowly picked up behind them while they ran down the small knoll and around a bend in the trail. “Just what did you leave back there?”
“Everything I had left. A claymore, two pounds of C4, and a hundred feet of det cord with a phosphorous grenade,” Robbie huffed out as Charlie ran past him.
Hearing that, Charlie leaned forward pushing his legs hard. “You still good covering our six?” Charlie asked, pulling away from Robbie. He didn’t want to be close when that little surprise cooked off.
“Hell yeah, that’s why I carry a gun that can fill the air with lead,” Robbie snapped back, keeping a ten yard gap between him and Charlie.
Rounding the bend, they saw the others ahead still running, or more appropriately, jogging as fast as they could. The human body could only move so fast carrying so much weight. Everyone had dropped their main packs, so they could carry the fallen team. The only things on their backs now were the small packs with the hydration bladders. Everyone’s bladder had long ago been sucked dry, but the packs had room to hold a small amount of extra gear, which they’d stuffed with ammo before dropping their main packs.
A thunderous explosion sounded behind them, then screams filled the air. Rocks started rolling down the hillside in a steady crescendo. “God damn it Blaster! I said one claymore!” Wheaton screamed over the radio.
“That shit was getting heavy and I was going to have to drop it soon, so get off my ass!” Robbie shouted back.
“Shadow, are you in the lead?” Wheaton called out.
“Find us a spot to stop for two minutes, so I can get on the radio,” Wheaton ordered.
“You can’t use the radio and run? How did you get out of Benning?!” Robbie shouted over the radio. Charlie laughed but had to agree with Blaster on that.
“Little boy, I can’t hold the directional antenna, my rifle, a body and run, so excuse me!” Wheaton shouted, and Charlie didn’t need the radio to hear that.
Charlie slowed and turned to Blaster. “Blaster, lay off Wheat,” he said in a low voice. “He’s had enough shit for one day.”
“I know, that’s why I’m giving him shit,” Robbie said, huffing. “I don’t want him thinking this shit is on him. If he’s bitching, he’s thinking like a Ranger should.”
Not sure of the reasoning but thinking it sounded good, Charlie nodded and picked up his pace until he was ten yards in front of Robbie.
“Got a spot,” Randy called over the radio.
“Hold there and set up security. If you can, when Babyface gets there, move up and check ahead of us,” Wheaton said on the radio.
“Shadow is a corn-fed country boy and can run like a deer,” Robbie huffed behind Charlie.
Randy stopped and put Griffin down, scanning ahead. Hearing footsteps and heavy breathing, he turned to see Private Cody Marshal, aka Babyface, trotting up and dropping to his knees before collapsing onto his face. Moving over, Randy grabbed his shoulder. “You have to stay alert and be tired later,” he said in a low voice. “You are a Ranger and a breed above others, so you must embrace the suck.”
Cody gulped in air and grinned at the slogan, giving a nod. Randy looked down at the wound on Babyface’s hip and saw the dressing was stemming the blood flow. He wasn’t the only one not carrying a body of a comrade, nor the only one that was running wounded. So far, only Randy, Robbie, and Charlie weren’t wounded, but the day was still young and there was plenty of suck yet to embrace.