10 Hours to Deadline

"Hey Aaron?"

"Yeah, Brian."

"What the hell are we doing up here?"

"These guys have better radar than most industrial nations do. So, we gotta go really high up to get in undetected."

"Yeah, I got that part. The part I didn't get was the part about getting thrown into low orbit and having to sky-dive from 60 miles up!"

"Whassa matter, Brian, afraid the suit's gonna fail?"

"…A little."

"Don't worry about it. Only yours will."

"Ah, $!#."

"Get ready. We're thirty seconds out."

"Good to go."

"Thanks Davis."

"We're ready."

"Alright let's DO THIS!"

Four tiny dots fell from the rocket, slowly at first but gathering speed with each passing second. When they entered the atmosphere and their suits started to glow, two voices could be heard yelling, "LEERROOYY JENKKIIIINNNNSSSSS!!!!!"

All at once, everything was silent. At least, it was until Aaron turned on his iPod and started playing "Crawling in the Dark". All the other boys looked at Aaron, who was in the middle. Aaron looked around, and asked, "What?"

Laughing, the others went with it and started nodding their heads to the music. Within thirty seconds, everyone was mouthing the words, reveling in their adrenaline rush and in the titanic battle that was sure to unfold.

Ten minutes later, all four parachutes opened with a thump, allowing the boys to see that their suits were, in fact, red hot. Brian laughed and said, "We're smokin' hot."

Aaron grinned, and replied, "Touché."

Simultaneously, all five suits exploded, flinging the still smoking ceramic plates that made up the suits away from their occupants, leaving the five teenagers with enough weapons and ammo to wage a small-scale war. Which was exactly what they were planning to do.

When they hit the ground, all they did was jettison and hide their parachutes, since they didn't want to let everyone know that they were coming. Yanking their weapons off their backs and yanking back on the charging handles made a symphony to Aaron's ears as he checked over his own weapon. Then, he sniffed, and noticed an extremely unpleasant smell. He looked around, and saw that he was standing in the middle of a massive pile of rotting human feces. He looked up at the sky, and said, "Son of a …."

Slowly, Isaac walked forward, took his glove off, and sank it into the freshest-looking pile. After leaving it in for a second, he yanked his hand out, washed it off with some water, and said, "It's still warm. Whoever dropped it off must still be nearby…."

"…Giving us a way in," said Davis, who usually was on the same wavelength as the short Brazilian. "Lovely. Let's go."

Devon, however, raised a hand and said, "Hang on. I gotta take a leak."

Everyone cracked up as Devon did his business, then for good measure, tossed an incendiary grenade in the pile, quickly turning it into a massive, burning pile of feces. Aaron rolled his eyes, slipped his helmet on, and asked, "Okay, now can we go?"

Fifteen minutes and several cracking of skulls later, the squad drove down in a Renault truck they had "liberated" from its previous owners. Brian and Aaron were in the cab, while Davis, Isaac, and Devon were in the back, hidden under a tarp. They came out of the forest, and Aaron said, "Whoa."

The compound in front of them was almost a half-mile in diameter, with multiple guard towers with snipers and machine guns, electrified fences, minefields, and tanks patrolling the perimeter. Davis let out a low whistle, and asked, "How the hell are we even going to get into there? We'll get slaughtered before we get a hundred yards from the minefield."

With a Machiavellian look in his eye, Aaron replied, "We'll break down the front door", as he pulled out a satellite phone and dialed a number. After several seconds, he said in a business-like tone, "Chris? It's Aaron. We're going full convent. Bring in everything, but only target the perimeter and outer buildings. We'll deal with the main fortress."

As he put away the phone, Brian asked, "How long are we gonna have to wait? We only got three hours before the deadline."

Aaron replied, "Don't get your knickers in a twist, Brian. Just sit back, and enjoy the playground of destruction," as warplanes began coming in from all directions with guns blazing. The tanks exploded first, instantly turned into scrap by Maverick AT missiles launched by a full squadron of A-10 "Tankbusters". Coming in immediately behind them, A-6 Intruders came screaming in at 500 miles per hour, dropping GBU-32 JDAMS into the guard towers, sending concrete blocks and steel rods flying everywhere like a grenade. Those unfortunate enough to get caught out in the open were torn to shreds by the basketball-sized shrapnel flying everywhere.

Brian sat back in his seat, eyes wide open, mouth gaping. Slowly, he said, "That was the coolest thing EVER!!!"

Grinning from ear to ear, Aaron said, "Game on, fellas."

Aaron, Isaac, Devon, and Davis all raised their weapons as Brian gunned the engine of the aging truck, willing it to get to the main building as the engine started to miss. Aaron glanced back in the rearview mirror, and yelled, "Davis! How the hell did you get your Minigun out here?!"

Davis replied, "That's for me to know and you to figure out."

Aaron shouted as the truck drove through the ruins of the main gate, "What're you gonna do, kill everything in sight?"

Davis answered, "Pretty much."

"Uh, guys, we got a problem."

"What'd you do, take a dump in the front seat?"

"No, seriously, look."

"Oh shit, INCOMING! Everyone out, NOW!"

Frantically, all five teens threw themselves out of the truck and got a hundred feet away before the RPG slammed into it and turned it into a massive grenade. As the concussion threw the boys onto their stomachs, Aaron yelled, "Davis, suppressive fire! Isaac, Devon, on me! Brian, pick off anyone Davis doesn't get!"

Davis immediately opened up, sending a hundred 5.56 rounds toward the RPG man, who was hit by most of them and turned into a pink mist as the RPGs on his back exploded. Brian flipped his rifle to semi-auto, and dropped two incoming gunmen with well-placed rounds as Aaron, Isaac, and Devon moved to the building.

Yanking out what looked like a folding door frame, Devon yelled, "Fire in the hole!"

Devon set up the door frame as Isaac and Aaron took up positions on either side of the door. Once the frame was set up, Devon stepped back, and hit the detonator. With a dull thud, the frame exploded, blowing the steel door off its hinges into the mass of gunmen standing in front of it. Seeing them out of the corner of his eye, Davis swung around and fired a short burst into the mass, painting the hallway red with blood. Without even noticing the new décor, the small group swept into the building, guns primed and ready to send red-hot lead flying.

Aaron said into his radio, "Davis, Brian, we got you covered. Get your asses in here!"


"On my way."

Aaron and Isaac stood on opposite sides of the ruined doorframe providing cover fire while Brian practically flew into the building, while Davis lumbered with surprising speed behind him. Once they were inside, Aaron and Isaac ducked back and reloaded their weapons.

Devon flipped up a pair of goggles from his helmet and said, "They're on the third floor. Every other floor has a significant number of grunts in it. What're we gonna do?"

Aaron looked at Davis, and said, "Davis, cut a hole."

Isaac said, "Wait a second. As soon as Davis blows the hole in the floor, they're gonna start shooting them. Then it's game over."

A moment of silence followed. Slowly, Isaac asked, "What if we send someone up through the hole? You know, to keep them busy while the rest of us get up."

Brian spoke up, "It won't work. The winch on the grapple cannon can't handle any of us with our armor and gear on, even Isaac. So whoever goes up is either going up with either no ammo or no armor, both of which will result in the death of them and whoever goes up."

Another long silence followed, punctuated by the sound of explosions from outside.

Slowly, Aaron started taking his armor off his legs. Brian slammed a hand onto his shoulder and said, "Hang on. We'll find another way up…."

Aaron raised his hand, and everyone stopped. Slowly he said, "I'm sorry, but I can't wait any longer for us to come up with a better plan. We've been giving them planning for the past two years. We're less than forty feet away, and I'm not going to wait any longer! Brian, get the grapple cannon ready!"

Devon handed Davis the infrared goggles, who hooked them up with a barely audible click as Brian pulled the bazooka-like grappling gun off his back and readied it as Aaron took off most of his armor and set all of his weapons down, except for two tonfa-like blades that covered his knuckles with the blade running along his forearms. Everyone looked at Aaron, almost asking if he really wanted to do it. He gave a small nod, barely moving his chin.

Davis braced himself, and began spraying the ceiling with rounds in a circular pattern. As he completed the circle, five circle cut-outs fell through in clouds of dust and landed with thuds in front of the teens. Once they hit the ground, Brian stepped forward, sighted quickly, and pulled the trigger, launching the piton into the ceiling of the third floor. Almost before it hit, Aaron hit the winch, and he flew up as a black blur.

The trip was very short, so it didn't dull his senses or his anger as he cut down two surprised gunmen with slashes to their throats before the other ten gunmen turned and leveled their weapons at him. Strangely, though, they didn't open fire, as if they were waiting for something. The hostages' eyes lit up at the sight of Aaron, and three out of the four squeaked in happiness.

With a squeak, the only door opened, and a thin man stepped in wearing all black. Aaron's eyes widened in shock, then furrowed as he raised his hands in a fighting stance. The man reached into his coat, and pulled out a Ruger Mk II, pointing it at Aaron's forehead. Aaron cracked a grin, and said bitterly, "Well, this truly will be Abel versus Cain."

The man smiled in turn, and replied in a voice very similar to Aaron's, "Touché. It ends now, in a hail of gunfire," as he racked the slide on his gun. Aaron replied clamly, "Then you'd better hope that I'm dead when your clips run out, because if I'm not, none of you will live long enough to reload."

The man laughed, and said evilly, "I doubt that. Good-bye, bro."

Aaron knelt down and crossed his arms in front of him as every gunman opened fire with their various handguns and submachine guns. Hundreds of rounds slammed into Aaron's forearms and chest, almost knocking him back down the hole. But he slammed the toe into the floor, effectively stopping his backward motion. From there, he just kept his head down and let his arms and chest take the brunt of the impacts.

The gunmen ran out of ammo almost at the same time, and instead of immediately reloading, they simply lowered their weapons and looked to see if he was dead. The man waved his empty gun at the still-kneeling Aaron and said, "Make sure he's dead."

Slowly, two of the ten gunmen walked forward until they were a mere foot away from Aaron. They looked at each other, as if arguing about who would actually check. Finally, one of them stuck a finger out, and poked Aaron deliberately.

Slowly, Aaron's head came up, blackened and having several deep cuts, but nonetheless, alive. He took a deep breath, which knocked his chest plate off, and said, "My turn."

Both arms swung, and the two gunmen went down with their throats slashed. Aaron's arms snapped back forward, throwing the blades into the chests of two more gunmen as he struck another in the throat so hard that the man's neck broke with an audible crack. The man somehow managed to reload, and began shooting, hitting two more of his men in the throat and head in the process.

Isaac and Brian burst into the room with guns spewing lead from their hips, catching the other two gunmen in the back and killing them almost instantly. Once they were down, their guns snapped to the man, who still had his Mk II pointed at Aaron. Isaac stepped forward, and said, "Joe, drop the gun right now or I will shoot you. You don't want to do this."

Joe laughed bitterly, and replied, "Trust me, I want to do this. I've been waiting all my life for this moment, and I'm not going to stop just because a little Mexican pile of shit told me not to do it."

Aaron sighed, and said, "Then you leave me no choice, brother."

He leapt forward, screaming with animalistic rage as Joe calmly opened fire, hitting Aaron in the shoulder and chest before Aaron slammed him into the wall with one hand on his throat, lifting him off the ground. Speaking softly, Aaron said, "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned," as he crushed his brother's windpipe, and let him drop to the floor, dead.

The pain hit him like he had been thrown into a brick wall. His arms and chest burned from the hundreds of rounds that had been stopped by the boron carbide. He reached into his shirt, and pulled out two tiny smashed bullets. He cracked a grin, and started toward the hostages. Isaac and Brian started to free them with their combat knives, taking care not to aggravate the injuries they had endured while in captivity.

As soon as she was freed, one of them ran over to Aaron. She was short compared to Aaron at five foot four, but exceptionally pretty with dirty blonde hair and vivid green eyes, which welled up with tears as she practically tackled him with a fierce bear hug. Taken completely off guard, Aaron tumbled to the ground, and hit the ground with a groan as his ribs, cracked from the bullet impacts, protested with sharp, jabbing pains. All throughout the room, similar scenes were unfolding as Isaac caught his girlfriend in a sweeping kiss that perfectly suited their mercurial personalities and Devon twirled his in a very dance-esque fashion. After two years, everything was as it should have been.

A soldier walked into the room wearing US Army fatigues and toting an M4A1 assault rifle. He looked around at the battered, dirty, and tired teenagers, and asked, "Who the hell are you?"

With a wide grin on his face, Aaron replied, "We are the Motley Crew, sir, and damn proud of it!"