On New Year’s Day I began this blog as part of a resolution. Today I am posting my one hundredth post. I’d like to thank all of you who have welcomed me and made this possible.
And what better way to celebrate the big one hundred than with a blogfest entry? This one is for Raquel Byrnes’ Primal Scream Blogfest.
They met no resistance as the swarm of black copters entered hostile air space. Following a tight vector, they moved fast and low over the breakers between a littered, white sand beach and the sunlit blue vista of ocean and sky.
Curled into his seat, long legs pulled up close against his chest, O’Neill felt the anxious anticipation that seemed to have become a part of him simmer just beneath his skin. Felt that edginess and tension spark between the others like an electrical current arcing within the confines of the ship.
The pilot’s voice sounded in his ear. “Two minutes.”
He pushed to his feet and watched the squad do their weapons check. Fifty pounds of gear and ammo. Grenades and grenade launchers. Shaped explosive charges. M-16s all around.
“Hang on.” The warning came harsh over the comms as the pilot wrestled with the controls and the helicopter bucked hard in the turbulence of a sky that was on fire.
O’Neill braced and watched Afram and Diallo go through their silent personal rituals of preparation and last minute mental checklists.
The ship slowed just as he finished his own brief final run through.
Hit the ground. Find the hatch. Blow the hatch. Cover their asses.
Pulling on his gloves, he flexed his fingers, triple checked his weapon, and rehearsed his choreographed moves.
Hit the ventilation ducts. Cover their asses.
Find the elevator. Hit the down button. Cover their asses.
He stood and moved carefully with the rest of the team to stand next to the door as the ship moved down over the city and approached their target site.
Search the tiers. Cover their asses.
He braced again against the sudden change in pitch as the helicopter hovered over the brown storm of swirling dust kicked up by the rotating blades.
Find Zoë. Cover her ass.
Under his flack jacket, his heart pounded in his chest and over the sound of the rotor and engines, his pulse roared in his ears.
Out the way you came in.
Don’t fuck this up.
Everything sharpened into vivid relief. Looking around, he saw Afram tap his helmet with two fingers. O’Neill reached up and lowered his faceplate as the copter hovered and silently began counting down.
Going to get Zoë. Gonna bring her home.
Then they were through the worst of it and pilot flared the ship, settled it gracefully, and screamed his final instructions over the comms as the hatch dropped open.
“Go. Go. Go.”
O’Neill followed Diallo out the door, in position, weapon ready. He barely registered the hazy heat shimmering like a wave, the trails of smoke that hung in the heavy air, or the plumes of ash rising in the burning orange distance as he scanned for targets and threats.
Afram took point, moving quickly toward the ventilation shaft. Reaching the hatch that led inside, he put a shaped charge in place before retreating a safe distance. When it blew, they followed the blast, diving inside.
Ninety seconds later, moving in formation, they had worked their way to a grille. Afram braced and kicked it out. Diallo tossed a high velocity shaped charge down the hole. The blast came almost immediately and then they were moving forward, dropping down through the hole and firing on guards as they landed in the main control center.
Weapons fire lit up the room as O’Neill rolled to cover under a console, counted, then came up to spray continuous fire in his target window.
“Elevator,” Diallo hissed over the comms when it was over.
Afram stood and pointed to the far wall. Stepping over bodies, the tall male commando led the way to the door and hit the call control as they flattened themselves against the wall and waited.
It was empty when the doors opened and the ride down wasn’t long.
Coming out, Afram was back on point and they were moving in formation down the tunnel, scanning for resistance in their target windows. Fifteen seconds later, an explosion and shots from a side tunnel indicated they had finally found it.
Gun fire jumped across the junction. As he hunkered down against the wall, a second explosion came from O’Neill’s left.
He rolled across the junction, popped up to lay down suppression fire as Afram and Diallo took up position and began firing at their targets. Two explosions in quick succession had his ears ringing, but even so he could still hear the sound of someone screaming instructions.
He looked across at Afram, who nodded and snugged his rifle to his shoulder and began laying down cover fire that lit its way down the tunnel as O’Neill pulled a grenade.
Squeeze. Throw. Dive.
The shock of the wave sent him into the wall and O’Neill heard more missiles go off as he rolled again and took out one guard in his target window. Shots to his right alerted him to a missed target. He popped up from cover and squeezed off five shots. In his peripheral vision he saw Diallo off to his right, taking out another guard while scanning for other threats.
The next explosion, when it came, deafened them all.