Trevor Cole crept down the muddy slope on his belly, shielding his movements from the target house four hundred yards away. Flipping his bag of his back, he pulled the Nightforce spotting scope out and removed the two protective lens covers. Te makeshif camo paintjob was chipping of in few places from hard and strenuous use but as Cole stufed the lens caps back in his bag and slowly inched back up the mound, resting the scope on the hill and adjusting the focus, he knew he could trust its vision. Trough the eyepiece, he was able to look into the window of the drab cabin in front of him as if he was standing right outside of it. Te view of the interior was blocked by old tattered drapes that hung across the window, but distinct shadows of all diferent sizes and shapes moved back and forth across it. Te target was inside.
Cole scanned the surroundings of the cabin, the sound of the rain pinging of the barrel of his Daniel Defense V1 rife next to his ear. Ping. Ping. Ping. Suddenly, there was movement in the clearing, stealing Cole’s attention from the sound and back into the mission. Te back door of the cabin opened and the six men stepped outside onto the wet grass.
Te rain had slowed and small amounts of light were now sneaking through the trees as the sun crept higher into the sky. Teir faces were all freshly shaven although according to the surveillance photos, they all had full beards just one day before. But there was no doubt, this was their men. Te six men faced eastward on their knees and began to pray. Watching them through the spotting scope, Cole wondered what they were praying for. Was it forgiveness? Or more likely, perhaps they’re praying for the strength and courage to carry out their cowardly plan? Cole thought.
Cole and his team didn’t know the details of the six men’s plan, only that they were planning one of the largest attacks of terror in American history. Teir orders were simple: capture the HVT, High Value Target, for questioning and collect intel. Everything else was collateral damage.
Cole looked around to check on his men. Te four operators hidden amongst the trees was not your typical military or law enforcement force. Ofcially, the team didn’t exist: never had, never will. Tey all lived normal lives although, nobody really knew what they did for work. Construction or maybe they were based out on deep sea oil rigs-that’s what they let the neighbors tend to think. It was easier that way. Let them have their blissful ignorance, never really knowing that the boogeyman could be living down the street from them. Te four men would watch people walk around back at home, looking at Facebook or with headphones in, oblivious to the world and the dangers around them. Even with all that’s in the news, terrorist attacks and school shootings every day, the world is blind, sucked into their phones, thinking nothing could happen to them. Tat’s the world we live in now, Cole thought. Tere is a war being fought in our backyards but let’s see what celebrities think about climate change.
As the six men fnished praying and walked back inside, Cole knew now was the time to strike. Tey had to be careful though, and fast. Tey didn’t have the luxury of fghting like they were in Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria like they had in the past where the sounds of war were all to common. No, this mission was in the deep south of Louisiana. Of course, there would be shooting, the sound minimized by the sound suppressors on each of their rifes, but too much shooting and too much time would attract unwanted attention. If they were caught, they were on their own. Cole and his team were all well aware of this fact. If they were captured the United States Government would be forced to deny any knowledge of the team. We are a highly trained, highly secretive group. We execute our mission without faw and nobody will ever know that we were there when we’re done.
Cole keyed up the Harris RF-335M-STC radio. “Nick, you and Max are on over watch. Me and Scotty are gonna move closer. I’ll radio back when in position.”
“Copy that,” Nick Matthews’, the team sniper, voice crackled back through Cole’s headset.
Cole crouched and slowly disappeared into the thick swampy marsh land, Scotty following close behind. Moving through the pancake-batter-like mud, the same mud the team fought through the night before while making the long fve mile walk to the target, was gruelingly slow. At least the rain had stopped. Cole thought. Afer what seemed like hours, but was actually only about 45 minutes, they were nearing the edge of the Spanish moss-covered trees that sat 30 yards away from the side of the cabin. Parked in front of the cabin sat two white vans, the type kidnappers drove in the movies. Only, Cole knew these weren’t going to be used for something as simple as that. Tese vans were most likely packed full of explosives, ready to be driven into a crowd and taking the lives of as many innocent people as possible.
Before moving any further, Cole and Scotty took a minute to scrape the thick, heavy mud from the soles of their boots in an attempt to gain more traction. A gun fght is the last place you want to be falling on your face and becoming an easy target. “In position,” Cole reported.
“Copy, I’ve got movement at the back door.” Nick replied. “On your shot.”
As an ex-Navy Seal sniper, Nick was a master of his craf. In all of Cole’s experience, he found snipers to be an odd bunch of men. Defnitely someone you want on your team, but just diferent. Nick Matthews was no exception. His attention to detail was amazing, never missing even the tiniest of specifcs. Before a shot his routine was the same, much like a ball player who would listen to the same songs before a game or a boxer who would throw the same fve punch combo into the air before every fght started. Nick would steady his breathing, taking in slow deep breaths. Use his tongue to tuck his chewing gum down into his bottom lip much like a chew of tobacco. His eyes grew cold, focused on the target through his glass.
Cole could hear the six men inside making all sorts of noise. Probably loading magazines and cleaning the guns they are going to be forced to use a bit earlier than planned. Cole thought. One man stood in the doorway holding an AK-47 he had picked up afer the morning prayer, not knowing the sounds of the early morning birds chirping in the distance would be the last sounds he would ever hear.
Suddenly there was a loud smack as a bullet zipped right through the mans face, just to the lef of his nose and under his eye. His head snapped backwards as a grayish-pink mist sprayed from the back of his head and the man crumbled to the ground. An eerie silence fell for a few seconds before a window shattered as a second round sliced through the glass and connected with the back of another target’s head.
Cole detected movement as a man ran out of the front door of the cabin shoeless, in the direction of the two large vans parked in the front. Cole swung his rife around placing the red dotofhisEOTechsightright between the man’sshoulder blades. He broke the four-pound trigger twice. Te man crashed into the side of the van as he fell, reaching for the door handle. Te other men still inside the cabin started fring aimlessly through windows, doors and right through the wall hoping to get lucky. Without a visual target, Nick and Max continued to place shots into the house, keeping the men inside pinned down while Cole and Scotty made their move.
Cole and Scotty moved up to the side window of the house while the men inside were occupied by the barrage of bullets around them. Cole punched the glass out with the barrel of his rife, swinging it side to side to clear the jagged pieces before climbing through. Scotty climbed through the opening frst, his small athletic frame efortlessly maneuvering the gap and landing cat-like on his feet. Once inside, Scotty took a knee covering Cole as he followed him inside. Cole’s entrance wasn’t near as graceful; being a bit larger at a little over six foot and muscular, it was a tighter ft. His right foot getting hung on the window frame, causing him to lose his balance a crash onto the foor, his Crye Precision knee pads cushioning his fall. Te smell of burnt gun powder and blood flled the small rooms of the cabin as they both prepared to move into the hallway. “You making it?” Scotty asked with a small grin, his incredibly white teeth shining bright against his thick black beard, as Cole regained his balance. Cole took life with ease so when-ever the team had the rare upper hand, gun fght or not, they took their chance to let him know it. Cole simply replied with a small smile of his own.
“We’re inside. Hold your fre,” Cole said into his radio as he and Scotty moved down the narrow hallway.
Approaching the end of the corridor and into the opening of the main living space of the cabin, Cole could see two men crouched down under the windows clinging onto their weapons and mummering quietly. “Allahu Akbar.” Oblivious to the danger walking towards them. Another man was sat away from the others, cowering in the far corner not holding a weapon but a cell phone. Tis was their man. Tis was Imaad Shareef.
Sweeping around from their hiding spot, Cole put two rounds in the chest of one man under the window and Scotty followed with two rounds into the other. Tey both instantly aimed at the third man crouched down in the corner.
Imaad wasn’t as unarmed as they thought as Cole spotted the glint of a pistol in the hand opposite of the cell phone. “Drop the gun and get on the ground,” Cole yelled. Cole could see the look in the man’s eyes. Te look he had seen many times before. Te deep black gaze of a man that truly hated what was standing in front of him. Te man lifed the phone, ending the call, and tossed it to the foor. Ten Cole saw it, the look in the man’s eyes changed. Right then he knew that whatever answers Imaad had, he wasn’t giving them up. As the phone crashed to the ground the man immediately raised the pistol, placing it under his chin and pulled the trigger. As the bullet passed through his brain, the man’s entire body locked up, frozen in pain and crashed back against the wall and slid to the foor.
“Shit,” Cole said as he lowered his rife. Scotty walked past Cole and picked up the phone that was laying just a few feet from the puddle of blood gathering around the man’s lifeless body. “We’re clear,” Cole called over the radio.
Hearing the call, Nick and Max soon entered the house through the back door. Tey stepped over the bodies in the doorway and their eyes instantly landed on what was lef of the crumbled-up man in the corner. “What happened?” Nick asked.
“Son of a bitch shot himself,” Cole said. “Let’s gather as much intel as we can and get the hell out of here.”
Te place was disgusting. Each of them walked through the rooms, moving between bodies, picking up cell phones, laptops and tablets, maps and any paperwork they could fnd. Cole walked out of the front of the house and approached the rear of the two vans parked outside. He pulled the latch and swung the rear doors open on the frst van. Inside was one of the largest car bombs he had ever seen. Tree 55-gallon drums flled with some sort of explosive loomed from the van foor. Te three barrels were strapped together by thin metal bands and on top of the central barrel was a small black box with wires running from it and toward the dashboard of the vehicle. Te second van contained the exact same set up. Cole was far from a bomb expert, he lef that to Scotty, but he had been around enough to know that this one was not good.
Footsteps squished on the sof ground as Scotty jogged out of the cabin to join Cole and whistled under his breath as he looked into the open doors. “Oh shit, that’s a serious set up there. Tese guys meant business. You want me to rig it up?” “Yeah, go ahead. It ought to be a pretty good thump. Hey, get some pictures frst,” Cole said, patting Scotty on the shoulder as he started walking back toward the house.
Two small black helicopters zoomed over his head and came to rest on the ground behind the cabin. “Tat’s our ride,” Max called from the inside as he and Nick emerged from the cabin. Max was carrying a large canvas sack full of the intel they had gathered. With the large bulky sack slung over his lef shoulder and his rife hanging of his right, Cole couldn’t help but think he looked like a mix between Rambo and Santa Clause.
“Vans are ready to go. I’m gonna rig the house and we’ll be good,” Scotty said as he walked back into the cabin. As the rest of the team walked out of the door and toward the two waiting helicopters, Scotty pulled the pin on a black tubular canister and tossed it in to the furthest corner. He did the same thing fve more times, tossing each of them in to diferent locations and then walked out.
As the men sat into the two MH-6 “Little Bird” helicopters, six fashes of light could be seen going of simultaneously through the windows. Te birds lifed from the ground, as the house became engulfed with fames and thick black smoke rolled into the air, the sun’s rays fghting to fnd a way through the looming plume of smoke. Te helicopters climbed straight up and above the trees before nosing forwards and speeding away. Massive amounts of wind pushing down from the blades swirled the thick smoke and parted it as they few through the black mass.
Te men set in silence, the loud roar from the helicopter’s engines flling the air. Cole stared out of the large open side door as the early morning sky passed by, the adrenaline draining from his body. Te ride home was normally a time for high fves and celebration of another successful mission. But Cole remained quiet, fghting of the monsters inside that continued to claw away at him. All the faces of death he had seen rushed through his mind, one standing out more than the rest. Cole laid his Ops-Core helmet beside him, rested his head back against the cool metal skin of the bird and closed his eyes.
As the two helicopters disappeared over the horizon, the vans detonated, sending two massive freballs into the air.