Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer First Class Ryan Wolfkill had been around the world. For twelve years he has been serving with SEAL Team Six's Delta Team. He's seen it all, assassinations, security detail, high risk and high value target extractions and not to mention, sky diving from 30,000 feet and diving out from submarines. But, what happens when you have to answer for a mistake of a few?
On April 4th, 2014, a small, but secure, bank in Rome was a target of a terrorist group. Their objective was to retrieve a high explosive compound for their latest suicide bombing streak. Delta Team was sent to prevent it from happening.
"Are we going to be back before dinner?" Jolt, the team's demolition specialist asked. Four men sat inside a civilian Audi Q7 Full-sized SUV. Each one of the men were dressed in civilian clothes, tweaked with armor plate carriers, rifles, pistols and holsters. Jolt always had his trusty HK416 fitted with a holosight, foregrip and laser. Where ever he went, the weapon was with him. Whatever he needed dead, the weapon would do his bidding.
"Might be just in time for apple pie," Recoil, the team's close quarter specialist replied with a small chuckle. Recoil was dressed in a long sleeved gray turtleneck and matching pants. He didn't like the feeling of the sun sizzling his skin. Recoil was holding his favorite Mark 48 Mod 1 machine gun, the offshoot of the M249 but with more firepower.
"The missus will probably bitch about how you guys are always being late anyway. Might as well enjoy the fun," Grass said, our team's newest recruit from the other teams. He was the only one in the entire SEAL Team Six that was single. He wore a QuickSliver T-shirt and cargo pants, carrying the capable UMP Sub Machine gun.
"Now, now Grass. Do not butt clench because the three of us are married and you're not," Guardian, Wolfkill's call sign, said with a laugh. He wore an olive drab tee with khaki combat trousers, next to him was his favorite and specially selected FN F2000 Tactical Rifle.
Grass grumbled in frustration as the three seniors laughed at him. Blocks ahead, the police had sectioned out two blocks from the bank as the robbers had opened fire on anyone trying to get into the bank. They had left several Italian SWAT members dead and threatened to execute the hostages they were holding inside. Delta Team had the pleasure of working with Black Team, SEAL Team Six's snipers. Four of them had set up around the bank and had maintained eyes on the men inside.
"Black One, Delta One," Guardian heard the radio crackle in the SUV.
"Delta One, Black One, send. Over," Guardian replied, slowing down the SUV as the four approached the police checkpoint.
"Eyes on ten tangos equipped with what looks like Russian spec AN-94s. Black Team counting twelve..." there was a short pause, "no eighteen hostages, break. Black Team will continue to report as situation develops."
"Roger that Black Team. Delta One out," Guardian replied halting the Audi at the checkpoint.
"Interrompere questo è un posto di blocco della polizia," one of four policeman said, walking up to the vehicle.
"Mi scusi," Guardian said and pulled out a small identification card.
"Oh, I'm so sorry. Right this a way." The police quickly waved the four through realize they were the special forces being sent in. Guardian slowed the vehicle down to a crawl and expertly made his way towards the rear of the bank. So far, no one knew they were there and he had to move quickly to get inside before the robbers had known they had slipped their net.
"Delta One, Black, friendlies approaching the bank's rear," Guardian reported as he parked the vehicle at the bank's rear door.
"Black Three, eyes on you. No tangos in sight. Continuing overwatch," the SEAL sniper quickly replied.
"Alright, everyone out. Get your game face on," Guardian ordered, stepping out of the driver's seat.
"Jolt, take point and recon the door for a breach. Grass, Recoil, form a defensive perimeter and make sure no one stumbles onto us," Guardian said and pulled up a small balaclava from his shirt.
"Roger that Boss," Jolt replied and pulled out a small tube. Inside was a camera connected to Jolt's personal data pad. Jolt reached under the door, feeling the small space between the floor and the metal door. He slid the tube in and activated the sensor.
"Nothing. Only one long corridor," Jolt reported.
"General Russo, we are outside the bank and are prepared to breach. Are the NOCS in place?" Guardian spoke into the radio. General Russo was the commander of the Counter-Terrorist NOCS, special unit within the SWAT Team and he was overseeing the entire operation in coordination between the SEAL Teams and the Italian Police.
"Yes, they are in place. Do not worry Guardian. We will not interfere with your operation," General Russo replied. Guardian gave a satisfied nod to Jolt whom was working on the door breach. He pulled out what looked like greenish clay from his backpack. With careful and practiced hands, Jolt molded the clay on the door hinges then, he plugged two wires into the clay before giving Guardian a thumbs-up.
"Stack up," Guardian whispered. The four split up into pairs and pressed themselves against the walls on both sides of the doors. Guardian and Jolt were closest to the door with Recoil and Grass bringing their rear. The four tense their bodies.
"Breaching," Jolt reflexively said and squeezed the detonator. The green clay strip went off with a soft and gentle, pop. The metal door slammed into the granite floor as Guardian and Jolt rushed into the hallway. The men were pressed against the wall, moving to cover the hallway in an effective crossfire. On the end of their barrels were thin metal cylinders to suppress the noise and flash of their fire.
"Corridor clear," Guardian reported and continued pushing forward into the hallway.
"Delta, Black One, we have activity," the radio crackled as Guardian held up a fist to stop the team.
"Send it," Guardian replied. He stopped right before a metal door. Slowly, he circled the door and stopped at the other side to let Recoil get the biggest field of fire.
"One of the tangos look agitated and ordered his buddy somewhere. Tracking...tracking, yellow, yellow, red, no solution," Black reported. Guardian grabbed the doorknob and pushed the door inside.
Recoil rushed inside.
Guardian heard a female yelp as he entered the room next. Inside the room was a single female, she looked a bit older than her coworkers. Two of which were male and were pointing what looked like M9 Beretta pistols at Recoil. The four of them were at a short standoff. One of the two male workers noticed Grass taking aim at him from outside the room and tried to adjust his aim.
"Drop your weapons!" Guardian ordered. The two men hesitated. Guardian could see their uneasiness with three heavily armed men pointing high powered rifles at their foreheads.
"Are you American?" the female asked, pushing her two coworkers aside.
"Identify yourself," Guardian stated as he shifted his aim. Male or female, he wasn't going to let someone seduce their way out of this situation. Worse, with the explosive material in their possession.
"I am Gina Mancini, manager of this bank. These two are my bodyguards," she said with an arrogant and pompous accent. He hated the woman in control, more so if they were someone who thought everyone below her was nothing but a savage animal.
"Recoil, check the lady and the two grunts," Guardian ordered. Recoil nodded and walked over to manager while Guardian was busy contacting General Russo. The manager gave out an earful of insults as Recoil patted her down. Her bodyguards did nothing to intervene, they seemed to see it like some sort of payback.
"General," Guardian said simply.
"What is it Guardian?" he replied.
"We've got a Gina Mancini here claiming she's the manager of the bank," Guardian reported as Gina shrugged Recoil off after the short pat down.
"That is correct," General Russo said.
"I'm going to keep her here until your units clear the bank," Guardian said, it wasn't a suggestion, it was a statement.
"Will do Guardian."
"Secure the manager," Guardian ordered, "we're leaving her to NCOS."
"You can't leave me here!" she cried out desperately.
"Let's go," Guardian brushed off the comment.
"Who are you to tell me, Gina Mancini, that I'm going to sit here and wait with a bank full of robbers?!" the manager retorted. Panic and fear turned people into desperate animals, ready to do anything to get free. SEALs don't feel that. The reason is because they are what sends people into a spiral of fear and panic.
"I could fucking shoot you and leave you here to rot," Guardian growled in frustration, "I work for a unit so elite, you would be but a little shit stain in the world compared to what we do."
The bank manager was frozen. Maybe she wasn't used to scolding. What Guardian could see was that her coworkers were snickering behind her back. She probably did the exact same thing to them on a daily basis. He didn't regret anything. This was his job. He was a SEAL Team Six member. Guardian and Recoil walked over to the door, closing it shut.
"Good day," Guardian said before using his multi-tool to lock the room from the outside.
"Good riddance more like it," Grass scoffed.
"Black, Delta, alert," Guardian's radio squawked, "one times foot mobile headed your way."
"It's about to get really fucking loud," Guardian stated and pulled down his goggles, activating his weapon's laser. The four focused on one large metal door at the end of the hallway. This area seemed to be where the information technicians and technology staffed worked. It was the perfect area for computers. The area slightly sank underground and the air was cool.
"Cut the lights," Guardian ordered. Grass nodded and tapped at the PDA mounted under his left arm. The cool air felt crisp as Guardian took a deep breath.
"Thirty seconds," Grass whispered calmly, tapping away on his PDA. Nothing moved. The bank seemed fairly sophisticated, how did these guys manage to infiltrate, Guardian didn't know, his job was to eliminate them and make sure the explosive was safe.
"Five seconds," Grass said, waiting for his PDA to hack and assimilate into the bank's control system. Brushed aluminum walls and granite floors reflected the harsh tungsten light. Both were good at deflecting laser beams. He knew that his team was trained enough not to muddle their aim and shots.
"And..." Grass said, elongating, and, for dramatic effect, "lights out."
The hallway instantly became pitch black within the blink of an eye. Guardian reached above his eyes with trained accuracy for his monocular right eye night vision goggle. Mounted to his OpsCore helmet was the PVS/AN-14 goggle that was able to turn the darkest of nights into day. It's only disadvantage was that it couldn't see in complete black out environments. Guardian had a solution and came ready.
He squeezed a small pad in front of the foregrip to activate the infrared torch that bathed the entire corridor in a blinding, invisible greenish light. The metal doors slid open to reveal one individual. Dressed in a suit and grayish pants, he walked inside. His heels clicked against the floor in silence. Words escaped his mouth in a language which seemed like Pushtu. In his hands and close to his stomach was the AN-94 Russian Assault Rifle. His eyes were wide-open and clearly spooked.
"Hey buddy," Grass whispered, making the man jump.
In that instant, four bright green beams shot out from the darkness and dotted his chest. Guardian's rifle coughed thrice. The man's chest exploded into a mist of darkened black before crumpling into the ground, his rifle echoing with a clatter. Two shots in the chest and once in the head. The SEAL's famous double tap. Guardian and Recoil stood up from their position opposite of the pair's wall.
"Sad bastard," Jolt said, "didn't even stand a chance."
"The only rule in combat," Guardian chirped, "is to fight dirty to win."
Jolt's hand hovered over the dead robber's eyes and closed them for eternity. Cold, accurate, precise and above all lethal. These were the words that described SEAL Team Six.
But, this did not mean they weren't human.
The team of four continued moving. Through the door, the electricity resumed. Guardian looked back at the dead body. Blood pooled out from underneath the corpse, the shining granite smothered by red liquid. Like rivers, the stream of blood flowed freely. He moved on without regret and no emotion. Emotions affect judgment, muddled judgment leads to death and death was not what he wanted.
"Tango down," Guardian reported.
"Roger that Delta," the radio crackled in reply, "the men in the main lobby are getting restless. He's holding up one of the females in a choke hold. Pistol is pressed to her temple."
"We need to move faster," Guardian whispered underneath his breath.
They ascended a set of spiral stairs towards the main lobby. Guardian could hear the fearful pleads of the civilians and their tearful sobs. At this point, any soldier would have a reaction. Something like a tug at their hearts, making them want to save the poor souls faster. Guardian did not. He was involved in operations like these hundreds of times over. Nothing was new.
"Break, break, break," the radio crackled again, "we have five blacked out vans moving towards the lobbies. Multiple snipers have set up on adjacent rooftops. Is this the NCOS?"
"NCOS, what the fuck?" Grass muttered, the four of them reaching a wooden door.
"General Russo, what's happening?" Guardian asked.
"General Russo. What. The. Fuck. Is. Happening?" Guardian asked with a frustrated tone in his voice.
"I'm sorry Guardian but the Italians will take it from here. We believe that you have done enough, stand down." General Russo replied with a confident tone, Guardian knew how this was going to down. More dead civilians.
"General, pull back now. If you don't, there will be a fucking blood bath!" General Russo had already decided to ignore Guardian.
"Fuck. We need to do this now," Guardian grunted and stacked up by the door.
"Four flashbangs, first volley on three, second volley on four," Guardian explained, seeing his teammates nod.
"Pull!" Guardian grunted. He pulled the pin on his cylindrical grenade and waited. He counted, one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three. Slamming the door open, he lobbed the grenade with all his might and saw the small greyish tube tumble towards the center of the room. He ducked behind the wall and covered his ears. He heard a fizzle, then a loud bang. His hears rang as the flashbangs detonated with the loudness of a jet engine close up and the flash of a thousand suns, enough to blind one person for a short amount of time.
"Help me!" One screamed rose above the chaos.
Guardian and his team sprung into action, storming out the door with rifles aimed. Guardian started going through the steps in his mind. Five tangos, where did the other four go? He shrugged of the thought and concentrated on the ones in front of him. One was holding a teenage dressed in a casual tee and jeans, the pistol pressed to her head. He focused on the one closest towards him. The poor bastard was looking over the bank teller's counter, eyes shut to combat the bright light from the flashbang with his rifle pointed towards the ground. The rifle coughed. Two in the chest and one in the head. His head smacked against the granite top and tumbled into the ground.
"Tango down!" Guardian screamed and shifted.
The one next to the door was already in the process of falling towards the ground, his chest having three bullet holes and head disfigured by what he guessed was Recoil's powerful Mark 48 Mod 0 machine gun. He eyes moved to another trio standing watch over the hostages. They were recovering from the flashbang but no fast enough. Guardian aimed his little red dot on the man's chest and tapped the trigger twice. He saw the robber fall backwards like he was hit with a strong punch to the chest. With just enough time, he readjusted and fired a bullet straight into his head. The two beside the downed hostile was quickly taken out by Jolt and Grass.
"Stop or I shoot her!" a voice, Arabic accent heavily laced, yelled. Guardian froze and turned to see the one taking the teenager hostage had recovered with the girl fearfully holding onto the stranger's arm.
"Drop the weapon!" Grass yelled, taking point.
The tango made no move up tried to shield himself behind the defenseless female.
"Drop the fucking weapon!" Grass yelled again and took a step forward.
"Don't move any closer or I shoot!" the robber screamed.
"Black Team?" Guardian asked.
"Black, Delta, I have a solution. Yellow, try to move him a bit more to the right," his radio responded.
"Black Four, Delta, we have black vans stopping at the front of the bank." Guardian circled the man's right to force him to turn. That man did just as Guardian hoped he would, now Black One would take the shot and Guardian's team would continuing clearing the building but that wasn't the case.
"Green, I have the solution. Firing..." Black One didn't have time to finish his transmission.
One loud bang shattered glass in the entire room. Guardian's vision went white, his body told him to go rub his eyes to clear out the flash. His training told him to stand ground. And he did just that. The ringing in his ear blocked all noise. He stood still focused on what was in front of him. Slowly, the vision and hearing returned to him. It was a good thing he wasn't near the epicenter of the blast. But something else happened. One gunshot rang out among the confusion. The distinct sound of a pistol, one that he had hoped to never hear.
"You fucking bastards!" Guardian shrieked, seeing the teenager's body slumping into the ground.
Adrenaline poured into his body, making time slow to a standstill. The tango still too confused to understand what he did, not to mention blind and deaf. He wasn't angry at the tango, oh no, he was angry at the NCOS. The ones who triggered the hostile to pull the trigger from a twitchy nerve, the one who fucked up the operation and the one who single handedly want to glory hound. He aimed at the tango and poured his entire thirty round clip magazine into him, his rage falling out like a water as he let out a warcry so fearsome that even the lions would rather go back into the den than face him. His rifle clicked empty. Guardian was about to turn around to scream at the NCOS but something slugged his stomach.
Guardian was lifted free off the ground just as his left arm went numb. He felt his back smack against the ground, hard. He felt his ears ring, his eyes looking at the aluminum brushed ceiling with fluorescent lights. Guardian could have quit, stay lying down on the floor and looked at the pretty architecture. He was a SEAL and SEALs don't quit. He pushed himself off the ground and felt his left arm burn before sharp pain shot up his spine. Guardian looked at his shoulder to see blood pooling out from the wound, he didn't care. Block out the pain and push onwards.
"Contact front!" Jolt screamed, firing at the missing four tangos.
Guardian aimed and squeezed the trigger. The rifle recoiled against his good shoulder. Even with one arm down, he could still kill. They were trained for everything. The first of them went down, then the second, each one crumpled down like a domino. Each were killed without mercy. Guardian paused, he was panting. The energy required to fire off the rifle with one arm and the other injured took quite a toll on Guardian.
"Delta Three, we have a man down. Man down," Recoil reported.
Guardian turned around, dread creeping into him. There he was. Grass. He was on the shining black floor with blood pooling out from underneath him. Recoil was next to Grass, pulling the plate carrier off of his body. His t-shirt was soaked with blood but one spot was drenched with so much blood, it was black. The bullet had entered through his abdomen and exited his back. His mouth was beginning to foam with blood and his breathing was staggered between choking on the red liquid and air.
"Someone get me a fucking doctor!" Guardian's voice cracked, the fear of losing his man filled his mind. The NCOS just stood there looking at the four.
"Fucking medico, capire? Medico!" Guardian screamed, kneeling next to Grass.
"Look at me," Guardian ordered and smacked Grass on the cheek, "fucking look at me Grass!"
His eyes slowly focused on Guardian's face, a smile slowly forming from his blood slick lips. Grass laughed. Blood spittle erupted from his mouth, his body starting to racket from his cough. He could feel the blood blocking his airway. The red liquid pooling out by the number into his throat. Grass wheezed for air, his right hand caught onto Guardian's t-shirt sleeve.
"Don't..." he wheezed, "it's not...your-"
Grass coughed once more, his body shaking violently. He was going into shock.
"Fault..." Grass managed one last word.
Guardian felt the pressure on his good shoulder disappear, Grass's grip fading. Grass's chest rose, then stopped. His hand fell to the floor. It bounced once and never moved back up again. His fingers uncurled with no strength left. Brown irises dilated to stare into the void of the unknown. The blood in his mouth no longer bubbled or sputtered, it dripped down the corners of the young man's mouth and slid towards the ground. Grass was no longer living, he had passed on. Into what Guardian hopes were the embrace of the other fallen SEAL brothers.
"Fuck!" Guardian screamed and slammed his fist into the ground next to Grass's head.
"Wake up Grass," Guardian howled, waiting for the young warrior to snap his eyes open and take a breath of fresh air.
"Grass!" Guardian screamed in a pained voice.
A hand fell on his good shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. Guardian looked up to see Recoil's reassuring emerald green eyes staring back at him. They conveyed words no other would notice. Only those who were on the same path as him would understand. The three knelt down in silence, tears falling out like an open tap and onto their brother's lifeless body.
One silent moment for the fallen.
Moments later, Guardian inhaled a deep breath. His eyes snapped open and devoid of tears, emotion and unwanted sadness. Guardian's gloved hand hovered over Grass's face, sliding down the warrior's eyes. His eyes were now closed forever in an eternal slumber. Jolt had brought over a stretcher in which the three moved Grass onto. The green fabric, now dripping with blood, was hoisted upwards by Grass's teammates.
Four others stood by the door. Dressed in the black clothing and each with an M40 Sniper Rifle, Black Team waited for their fallen comrade. Guardian walked up to them and saw the four briefly touching Grass's head, muttering words for their own.
"May the seas be calm and the wind still," one whispered and walked away.
"Be on an eternal patrol brother. We'll be right there with you soon after," Another said.
Guardian nodded with silent respect for their highly trained brothers and moved towards the Audi. Behind the bank, was General Russo. He stood with four other NCOS member equipped with MP5 sub machine guns. They looked like they were waiting for an explanation where one wasn't needed.
"What happened back there Guardian?" General Russo asked and stepped forward.
"Let me fucking tell you what happened," Guardian's rage had burst into the flames of a thousand suns.
"Your team went in there knowing that my snipers and our assaulters had it covered," Guardian pressed his bloodied left hand into the General, his pain being suppressed by his willpower.
"This is what happens when you glory hound General," Guardian stated and saw Grass's corpse being loaded into the back of the Audi Q7.
"The mistake of a few are being answered by many."
Grass, the dead teenager and the many that had died before the SEALs got to them. The General and his gloryhounding led to the death of many innocents. General Russo stood stoic, his mind at ease with the decision that he sent the NCOS in early. He would spin off the story to boost his popularity. The teenager that sacrificed her life to stop the bank robbers.
As for Grass, he would go unnamed, undecorated but, remembered by the few that he served with. For the mistakes of a few will be answered by many.