Chapter 2: With Nothing to Lose.
"War is delightful to those who have had no experience of it. "
- Desiderius Erasmus,
"We need to get out of here, and fast." David muttered into his knees. He was sitting next to a wall with his knees to his forehead grumbling about what had just happened. Stallard was pacing back and forth trying to figure out what had just happened, Delouise was straing into space aimlessly and the rest were either looking at one another in shock or checking their weapons to see if they were still in working order.
The radio converstaion only took place about 40 seconds ago.
"What the hell do you expect us to do?" Tracey asked him, his eyes expecting answers. David couldn't give him a straight answer.
"I-I.." he stammered. "I don't know." He let his face sink down to the ground. He felt like a failure.
"What do you mean, you don't know?" Tracey demanded. "You're our goddamn CO, and you DONT know what to do?" "Pathetic" he sneered. I stood up and slammed him against the railing of the balcony overlooking the courtyard, leaning him over it and threatening to throw him off.
"What has gotten into you man?" "We're all in the same fucking boat here, either you talk to each and every single one of us with respect or atleast try to hide your useless anger." I glared at him.
I saw the fear that he was clearly trying to hide pour from him in the form of tears. I knew how he felt. Sometimes you can't hide your emotions and to be quite honest, I felt like breaking down right about now. I stood him back onto his feet. He instantly lost his footing and slumped to the ground. I don't blame him, being almost thrown over a railing can give you a scare.
"We need to stick together on this." I told him while pulling him back onto his feet again and looking at him reassuringly. The nice moment didn't last long.
"Get inside, now!" "Chopper!" Delouise hollered. We didn't waste any seconds and instantly ran down the stairs leading back into another hallway. This part of the Fortress seemed barley untoched. An eerie silence suddenly covered the Fortress, excluding the chopper hovering overhead. Miller quickly peaked through an opening in the wall and turned back to us.
"It's American, an AH-1." "They're looking for us." he said coldly, tightly grasping his firearm. But the bad news didn't stop there. Two Hueys quickly followed and came to a halt over the Courtyard.
American soldiers quickly rapelled down and gathered on the Fortress floor.
"We need to get out of here!" Stallard hushly exclaimed. "I saw stairs leading to a sort of basement on our way in, this way!" We complied and followed him being as quiet as we could possibly be. We came to a halt by the double doorway that leads straight into the courtyard. The soildiers were still being briefed and I managed to catch the conversation.
"Alright listen up everybody, we need to find the war criminals and bring them to Hayzelden, theres a nice price on their heads. Charlie Squad, Delta Squad, search the upper floor. Baker, Reefson, you're seraching the bottom floor with me. Report anything out of the ordinary immediately. Subdue and shoot on sight. Move out."
"This way!" Stallard pointed towards the lowering stairs leading to the basement. We wasted no time and when the soldiers cleared the courtyard, we moved out. Just at the bottom of the stairs there was something that looked like a drained pool and to our right, there were stairs leading into the Fortress tunnels.
"Wait here" I motioned everyone to halt. I slowly made my way to the pool and looked around the corner. I backed away instantly. I pointed my finger towards the stairs and told them to go. I had an idea.
Once everyone had made it down the stairs I slowly pulled a claymore out of my pack and placed it onto the ground, arming it as soon as I placed it. But something made me stop cold. It was the Conversation the two soldiers were having.
"I hate this place" the soldier said. "Tell me about it" the other soldier replied. "Isn't it your sons birthday tomorrow?". The soldier smiled "Yeah, hes turning 11 tomorrow." The other soldier patted him on his back.
"Don't worry man, this is your last Assignment anyway, you're leaving for America in a week and you can celebrate with him then." he changed the subject afterwards. "Let's just find these guys and bring em' to Hayzelden,
it shouldn't be that hard to find them, they have nowhere to run, we have the entire Fortress surrounded."
Was I going to kill a father? My heart ached at the sight of seeing his wife and son having one of their most important members of the family being returned in a casket. I picked the Claymore back up and put it in my pack and instead, pulled a flashbang from my Uniform. "I'm not going to kill this man" I thought to myself. I pulled the pin, through it around the corner and ran towards the stairs. I heard the men scream, it was still a scream of shock and pain, but I was relieved of some sorts that I didn't kill them. I stared down the long streching tunnel. I saw Stallard putting down the last od his C4 on the Tunnel roof.
"Get over here Mitchell!" he shouted at me. I ran as fast as I could and just as I reached Stallard, American soldiers pured down the stairs. Without a second thought, their Weapons light up in a barrage of gunfire. I dove behind a barrel and looked over to Stallard. He had a desperate look on his face. Secinds later I saw the Deamans Switch in his hand. My stomach tied into a million knots. He looked over to me and stiffly smiled.
"Meet up with the others, i'll hold them off." I couldn't leave him there.
"I can't leave you here! We can do this another way!" I cried. Tears were streaming down my face. I didn't want to lose another man. He looked at me. "It's the only way we can stall them." "Tell the others I didn't make it."
He tossed me his dogtags. He motioned for me to go.
"Give me covering fire, i'll meet them head on." When the gunfire had died down a bit, both of us popped up and unloaded what we could, trying to get them to duck.
He looked at me one more time and ran towards the soldiers. I looked back one more time and saw him draw his sidearm. He unloaded his clip and before being able to reload, he was gunned down in a barrage of bullets.
He was still kneeling, clinging on to life by threads. The Assignment leader turned to him and drew his 44. Magnum. He smiled at Stallard and pulled the trigger. His brains splattered onto the floor behind him.
That's the last time I ever saw Stallard. I've only seen him around in most battles I was fighting in anyway. But he seemed like a brother to me more than ever. Come to think of it, everyone that went on this mission was now like a brother to me. The 7 of us that were left now are the only ones I can trust. I cleared my head and looked at the tunnel one last time. All I saw was a big concrete wall where Stallard placed the C4.
I looked the other way and saw Tracey wave me over.
"Wheres Stallard?" he asked me. I silently shook my head and gave him the dogtags. Tracey's expression went dark. Unshed tears were forming in his eyes. I gave put my arms on his shoulders and looked at him.
"He's in a better place than any of us now. We have to keep moving." I said, trying to calm him down. A voice reached us. I was the voice of David.
"We found something that can get us out of here!" "It looks like a sewer entrance."
"Common'" I patted Tracey on the back and walked him over to the opening in the ground.
"Stallard?" David asked. "No" I replied, trying my best to sound strong. I was tired and all I wanted to do was slump onto the ground and cry myself to sleep. I fell into my thoughts as David and Aarons were trying to get the sewer grate open.
Why us? Why would Hayzelden pick us for a mock Mission so he could arrest us? I tried my best to think of any Event that linked us all to Hayzelden. But I was quickly ripped out of my thoughts.
"Mitch, we've got the grate open, let's move!" David said while tugging at my arm. It was a small hole and we wouldn't fit through with our packs on.
"Packs first." David ordered "Only take what you really need, the extra load will only exhaust us more."
I took off all I didn't need. Extra ammo, rations, whatever we had more than enought of we needed to ditch.
"Aarons, keep the mortar, we might need it for later." I said. Aarons silently nodded and strapped the mortar back over his shoulders.
Feany, who hadn't talked for a while, managed to get a tone out of his mouth. "Where do we hide our supplies?" he muttered.
"We destroy them." David answered. The exhaustion was taking a toll on him. He had bloodshot eyes and was on the verge of fainting. Nonetheless, he wasn't going to let it get to him. We piled up all our outsorced material and David lined it with C4. He had some remnants left over. He set it up and we climbed down the triggered the C4 and a large thud was heard above. We reached the bottom and Feany lost control of his bowels. I dont blame him. It smelled of burning and decaying flesh down here.I remembered the greenhouse. It had a small hatch leading downwards. So this is where they kept the older bodies. This was bordering on genocide. We all exchanged quick looks and pressed forward but we were quickly stopped by a large metal door.
"This just gets better and better." I muttered under my breath.
"How do we get through this?" Miller asked.
"I have an idea." David answered. "Mike, shoot at the hinges with your shotgun." Mike was Aarons first name. Aarons pulled out his shotgun and slid a magazine into the gun. It was a Saiga, a Russian built Shotgun but damn,
it was beautiful. He motioned at us to move back and took aim. 3 consecutive cracks filled the air and the door came tumbling down. I wish I hadn't seen what was behind it. It was a furnace room. But it was used to burn the prisoners bodies.
"Oh my god." Delouise gagged. Feany vomited again. We had to get through this room, but we didn't want to dive deeper into this horrendous chamber of torment.
"Everyone try to hold your breath." I said, trying to keep my bowels from spewing out. The room was littered with charred remains of civillians. Not even children were spared. I felt the sudden urge to shoot any Russian I could find. This was absolutely sickening. Once we got through the room we were faced with yet another hallway.
"This is the 4th hallway today, I hate always." Feany mumbled, still feeling sick to his stomach.
"Well let's keep moving, there has to be an exit around here somewhere." I told him.
Nothing exciting happened for the next hour or so, it was just one long hallway. Suddenly we were greeted by a gash in the door infront of us. Sunlight was caressing my face. I embraced it for a few seconds and snapped back to my senses.
"We've made it out of the Fortress." I exclaimed. My hopes were raised that we were going to survive this after all. But they were soon suppresed by the memory of the entire US and Russian Army wanting to kill us. Dread filled my body quicker than the speed of sound. What was on the other side? I feared that soldiers were standing on the other side, ready to gun us down. David didn't waste a single moment and pushed the door open.
The light blinded us for a few moments and after regaining our daylight vision, we were relieved. The door had led straight into a Forest. We had Nature on our side again.
"We'll use the Foliage to our advantage. We clear the immediate area and set up camp somewhere." David said with relief in his voice. We were all glad to get out of the Fortress, the Tunnels and especially the sewers.
But some of us weren't so lucky. Summers and Stallard were in a better place now. I envied them for some reason. They didn't have 2 armies on their tail trying to kill them. They were probably sitting somewhere in the clouds being served a cold beer by smoking hot ladies. That thought made me laugh inwardly. I seized my train of thought once more and kept moving with the rest of the guys. We walked for what seemed like an eternity when we noticed we were going slightly upwards, onto a small mountain. It started to rain again and we were drenched in minutes, making walking as trechearous as ever. Walking got increasingly difficult until we came across what seemed to be a cave.
"How long have we been walking?" I asked David.
He looked at his watch. "About 2 hours, I think we've deserved a break." he pointed towards the cave. "This seems like the perfect place."
We were all glad just to get out of the rain. I dropped my pack and slumped myself onto the ground. I was happier than ever to get off my feet. They were burning. Beside me, Aarons was asleep already. I smiled at the fact that we've been in this cave for 30 seconds and hes already napping. David quickly left the cave to scout the area around us. A few minutes later, he came back in.
"I see nothing but forest all around me, aside from the Tehran Broadcast tower, but it's as small as my fingernail." "I think it's safe to start a fire if we manage to find some dry wood." "But for now I think you guys need some rest."
"What about you?" I asked him while sitting up.
"I'm going to stand guard for a bit, I need to clear my head anyways. Tomorrow we can work everything out."
He sent me a relieved look and I quickly returned it. "Tomorrow" I mumbled as my head slumped onto my rolled up pack. Tomorrow seemed so far away. All I could do for now was close my eyes and get some rest. I closed my eyes and dreamt of home. But the visions of home and being with my Family soon were replaced by something I didn't expect to see. I though I had put it behind me. 'Karkand' I muttered in my head. I suddenly knew what could've been the cause of all this.
*I deeply apologize for the Short chapter. Next chapter I will focus specifically on the dream Mitchell is experiencing which could clear things up for everybody. Until next time!*