Friday 10, September 2021
Afghanistan, Kunar Province
Lieutenant Logan Kyle opened his eyes, letting his gaze wander over the interior of the Blackhawk helicopter and the camouflaged features of the seven Navy Seals. Each countenance was as familiar to him as his own face; brothers, not by blood, but by shared history and hardship. Their faces lay in shadows, red light lending them an almost demonic appearance. Yet as sinister and feeble as the lighting was, it was still strong enough to illuminate the inside of Logan's combat helmet and the picture he had taped inside.
Grainy and of low quality, just a snapshot taken with a mobile phone that Logan had printed out on paper, it showed an ultrasonic image with a little yellow note at the bottom. The fetus in the ultrasonic image seemed to scowl, as if it was not pleased that somebody peeked inside the privacy of its womb. The scowling was very familiar—Logan had seen it on his father's face often enough... and on his own. A family trademark if there ever was one. Written on the note was a message in feminine hand writing. It said, "Surprise! In two weeks you're gonna be a daddy... Love Selene."
Logan leaned back, running a gloved hand over his short-cropped beard and closed his brown eyes for a moment.
He was going to be a father...
"Hey, LT! Does Selene know you are looking at pictures of naked chicks while on the job?" Stormy shouted, smiling as broadly as a Jester. At 6 foot 7 the black-skinned giant was a good five inches taller than Logan and outweighed him by over a hundred pounds of solid muscle.
Logan opened his eyes, smiled innocently, and straightened his eyebrows—with an extended middle finger. The team broke out in raucous laughter and Stormy retaliated by blowing him a kiss, grinning knowingly.
He was having way too much fun with this...
Logan already regretted having told his best friend about the surprise Selene had sent him this morning; his coming-home-birthday-gift, as she'd called it. At least Stormy hadn't told the rest of the team about the good news... yet. This only meant he had something far worse in store for him...
"Hey Commander, what's with all the secrecy on this op, anyway?" Royal shouted, checking the camouflage paint obscuring his handsome features with a small mirror. Too proud of his good looks, he was the only man on the team who had not grown a beard during their time in Afghanistan. "It makes me nervous when the brass will only give us final orders in the air," he continued, "especially considering we were scheduled to go home tomorrow."
Commander Christian Beck, team-leader and Logan's superior, answered, "We're about to find out. Titan base has just made radio contact. Team, say hello to Admiral Bray and Kate Brighton, our liaison with Langley."
"Told yer the CIA wus involved!" Mack shouted, his voice heavy with an Irish accent. A smile split his ruddy red-bearded features. "Ye owe me five."
"Put it on my tab," Sawman, their team sniper replied calmly.
The admiral's voice came over the com-link. "Listen up, soldiers! Langley has a goodbye gift for you... Kate?"
After a brief moment of static, a soft female voice began speaking. "Hello boys. After all the work we had you doing since you took down al-Zaheid, I'm sure some of you already guessed what this is all about. Congratulations, tonight you'll cut off another head of the hydra. You're going to get Basrar-al-Hazred, the current leader of Ibaad al-Logar—the Servants of the Big Mountain—and the mastermind behind several biological and chemical attacks the Servants have executed over the past two years."
The SEALs cheered.
"Told you, wanker!" Mack shouted and gave Sawman a nudge. "Ye owe me another five!"
"Put it on my tab," Sawman replied, a thin smile on his skeletally thin features.
"How sure are we this Intel's going to pan out?" Logan said.
"Very," Kate answered. "Al-Hazred has approached a weapons dealer who is in our pocket. Apparently he is in dire need of some heavy ordinance, and since this is a large deal, he is going to appear in person—right under your noses, here in Kunar, tonight."
"Lucky us," Rawls uttered and gave the silver cross around his neck a kiss.
"Normally we'd want a lot more Intel before staging an operation of this gravity," the Admiral began, "but according to our sources, the Servants are planning something big..."
"How big?" Logan asked.
"That is on a need to know basis," Kate jumped in. "I can tell you this much, however... Our Intel suggests that they have been recruiting and assimilating other terrorist cells over the last few months. We also know for a fact that they were behind the spreading of a particular virulent strain of Ebola in Africa last year, and the Sarin-Gas attack in Turkey also goes on their account. Just assume that they are planning to bring the conflict to our doorstep."
The Seal's nodded grimly.
"What intel do we have on the target location?" Commander Beck asked.
"Nothing you have not already been briefed about," Kate said. "The place is called Mangwar, an old mining town the Russians stamped out of the ground some fifty years back; had forced laborers digging for Uranium all over the place—with little success as far as we know. There is an old supply depot smack in the middle of town and the meeting is supposed to take place there. It's pretty much the only structure that shouldn't collapse when you lean against it. Civilian numbers may be as high as three to four hundred people—all supposedly pro-American, so don't get too trigger happy..."
"As for al-Hazred himself," the Admiral said. "He's supposedly trying to keep a low profile, so we only expect half a dozen bodyguards with him, maybe ten." He paused, the silence emphasizing his following words. "We can't afford to fuck this up, men. We need to know a lot more about those sick bastards and what they are planning, so it is imperative that you capture al-Hazred alive."
"You heard that, LT?" Stormy shouted. "No kill-shots this time like with al-Zaheid!"
"Serves me right for saving your sorry ass," Logan replied with a smile.
"However, this courtesy does not extend to any of the bodyguards al-Hazred is likely to have with him," the Admiral added. "Take them out and make the world a better place."
"Now we're talkin'!" Mack shouted and eight fists punched the air.
A cry of adulation filled the Blackhawk.
YOU ARE READING
When Logan Kyle and his team of hardened Navy SEALs veterans are called upon to take down the leader of an extremist religious sect, they believe it is just business as usual. Little do they know that their lives and those of everybody else in the w...