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'The Fighting Sycamore' - my first attempt at creating a short story


Thors Hammer 5 / 60  
Mar 3, 2012   #1
The Fighting Sycamore

The tree shattered in a violent mess, splinters split thru the back of the Oak and released a deep thud that resonated down the stump and into the frozen ground. WHIZZ - went another - THUNK - not a second later homing in just above the first, splitting the tree and crashing it forward. My spotter was nested not one hundred yards ahead as I watched the tree fall just an inch shy of his life. The two shots echoed outwards crossing the crisp landscape catching my attention to the tree-line on the other side of the field. Then I saw a flash - CRACK- my barrel crimped like warm butter, kicking back the stock straight into my shoulder dislocating my arm immediately. I was dazed, but managed to roll over onto my back and tucked behind a tree. My arm killed as I yelled "Fuck, my rifle's gone...Dan you hear me...Pop smoke!" I reached over and grabbed the M40 and cracked it by putting the barrel under one leg and over across the other, pushed down with one arm and placed a smoke round in and snapped it shut. I sent three rounds up one after another and five seconds later couldn't see a thing. "My foot's stuck, can't get up, fuck where is he, I'm open." I could smell his fear, and knew we were in deep shit. "Dan, I want smoke up one every thirty, got that? Dan, listen, do you hear!" "Yeh, smoke every thirty, but I only got four!" My heart raced like a horse track, I could hear the lub-dum rhythm pacing forward as I grabbed my C-8 carbine and a satchel of grenades, and sat there for a second to just catch my breath. I looked down and seen a crimson trail melting and quickly felt as if I was going to puke, but seen that it was only a chunk missing from the palm of my hand where the barrel must have had sliced it open upon the impact.

I remember taking time to notice a leaf still hanging on to its branch for dear life while waiting to be gone with the wind. It was radiant red and its veins were of the richest purple, it waved gently as if it knew that I was looking at it. Then, wasted of its value, it broke free and drifted into the smoke. I remembered at that moment my senses exploded with a spice of urgency, and all that was prime-mortal took over. I had no time to radio help, and even if I did I would be compromising a larger picture, so I turned back over on my stomach and sprang up on my feet in a crouch position, and tried leaping each leg up high over the waist deep snow almost walking like a penguin, and beat down a channel as I went. "One up Sarge - looks like no wind." "Keep the smoke in the field; he's on the other side just underneath those pines to the right of the foot path." "Check Sarge, but can't see-um, hurry up though, he might have thermal." "Get the Barrett geared out, sabot rounds, I'm coming" I said. It was crazy, the snow was thick and heavy which made each step as if walking through coagulating concrete. At that point, it dinged on me that there was no way to cover the distance swiftly between me and Dan, and even if I could, then what, the scope got us both crossed.

The brown smolder stirred through the trees and was dispersing slowly baring the tall silhouettes of standing forest set apart from one another, looking like they were ready to come alive and spring into battle. I moved to the next tree down the slope which felt like an hour, the nippy air was burning the insides of my bronchioles as I snorted it back to keep breathes. I knew that once the smoked cleared I wouldn't get another chance, and neither would he. All I could think about was how much I wanted not to dye, that my boy would miss his dad, and how I would miss him, my home and friends, my family, and it drove me ire at the thought of resting there. My one arm was useless at that moment and dangled in my suit, the other gripping the framework of my assault rifle as in started springing leaps and bounds to close the distance through the icy smoke-show. I considered quickly just what had happened and realized that the three shots all missed there mark, which by snipers standard is inconceivable. Sweat beaded out on my back and my chest tightened in that thought. I remember it felt like having the vastness of the earth close in on itself around me in a blanket of horror - but I knew I had no choice, the depth of the snow had recently closed off our way out and that snow-shoe was our only option back, but not in a firefight, that would be senseless. Then, "творить!" which I knew meant 'move!' That's what I remember hearing anyways, as the forest came to life and shifted around like phantoms in the mist winking and sparking their orange eyes. I had no time to stop; I just kept straddling thru the snow as if I was running past a swarm of angry bees, the air filled with the buzzing of little stingers trained to repel me. I bared teeth and cut through the piercing horde bringing my rifle down level and popping out a tri-burst, the hot lead found its place squarely in the chest of a the figure in front, leaving him opened up like a shaken soda pop. My pose shifted left and again I squeezed, TAT-TAT-TAT - This time decapitating an individual like at a medieval Tee-ball game. Dan was yelling "their flanking us, and threw a white phosphorous grenade that landed between two more shadows emerging from the turmoil; 4.5 seconds later spreading the red-hot RP granules over the immediate area burning the solders lungs as they gasped in panic while being lite ablaze. Their screams where sounded of a full speeded train with barred brakes on the track, and their legs buckled beneath their weight collapsing in a charred frenzy. The fiery air flamed out as he threw another which exploded midair over-top of two more warriors as they unveiled their cameo winter whites through the smoggy cold, and they too, were set to fire like watching a huge flare being struck lite in methane gases. A sphere of red scorching granules showered outwards like an exploding star diffusing its gamma rays across the galaxy, and shockingly liquefied the faces of those attackers leaving their screams gagged in their own juices.

I was close enough now to see that Dan's leg was pinched under a fallen branch that was ripped from the adjacent tree as the first one fell. He lay there protected by a sand bag that he had placed next to the base of the broken tree with his M249 SAW pointed down range and had already started suppressing arc firing into the woods around. The 5.56 casings were melting a hole next to the bag that it was resting on. I literally jumped on his back diving for cover which startled Dan for a second as he wheeled his Kabar round stopping short of my larynx. "It's me fool" I said, "save it for them." He was panic sickened but still sensible enough to quickly shift back to the event. I opened the satchel and emptied out a handful of M67 fragmentation grenades and grabbed one while chewing out the pin, throwing it past the smoldering remains of the first kills, exploding shards of steels in every direction and hitting the last man scuttling forward. It lifted him straight off the ground and scattered him backwards, he was screaming and twitching on the soft ground and I could see his spoils soak into the snow. We just lay there, waiting, listening to his agony roar out. I then grabbed my axe and crawled up besides the big gun sitting beside the bag, and leaned over it and swung down onto the flesh of the limb, separating the tree it in half with two mighty blows. It swung back and Dan groveled free, scampering to reposition himself with the saw. I dropped the axe and flipped the scope cover open settling back to prone with the 50cal. "Soon as that smoke clears, get ready for hell" I said.

We had slipped in the night before on intelligence recon to snap pictures of the warlord Salman Radoejev about six miles north-east outside the village of Novogrozninski. Dan had been setting up claymores all night and I dug two foxholes and filled the sand bags with the extra dirt. We had set forward camp about a half a click away from the rustic aerodrome and were waiting it out for his MI-24 to drop down and land. We had received Intel saying that he was landing there at the secret hold-out in attempt to plan out the attack at the Georgian president Eduard Sjevardnadze in early 1998, and we had already confirmed that he left his base in Moscow and was in route. We spent the rest of the morning before dawn scouting around to make sure no centuries were going to get to drop on us, but somehow they just seemed to become visible from straight out of thin air. Spetsnaz were famous for lying under the snow for days before a fight, freezing as one with their environments until the moment before action; and the snow was as thick as flies all night as we swept back and forth looking for trails and clues of things to come. All awhile we were in the belly of the beast, an ambush to catch the catcher. We had been fooled into thinking that our invincibility was gladiatorial and acute senses polished like Medals of Honor, but we were so wrong. They let us set up, and were probably watching all along, waiting for a cue or something.

Then, like the looming of an approaching drum-set, the sky opened and pounded us with the intense chopping of the three-blade fully articulated main rotor of a gunship settling with its multi-barreled cannon swinging around round looking for it targets through the smoke. The fuselage door opened and a rope dropped down to the ground, and the first man whirled down. Dan immediately squeezed off a ten round volley, plugging him off his rope and he fell to the ground. We could see the gunner in the lower forward compartment look our way as the Gatling cannon followed his line of sight. I paused, waiting for the space between heartbeats - lub - steadying myself in despair, peered down the scope left-eyed thru the dot and placed it in the pilot cockpit window and released the hair-pin trigger - dub. The Quarter pound titanium slug slammed into the armored widow bucking the helicopter wildly and it yawed round. I was shouting to Dan "get the Stinger out, come 'on," Dan leaped forth and picked up the twelve pound FIM-92A Weapon, but the helicopter yawed back to the left again ready to shoot, there was no time. I released a second round at 2800 ft. /s - this time piercing through the compromised reinforced glass just about where the first struck. Inside the windows of the second compartment went opaque and the gunship started spinning clockwise as the anti-torque rudder controls went limp. It was about twenty feet from the ground and pirouetting downwards like a giant steely sycamore seed, it landed and almost flipped on its side but righted as its blades innately powered down to neutral stasis. Two more soldiers got out of the back and hit the ground running forward guns shelling. It was Hollywood to the bone, their bravery, that can only be acknowledge with a quick death - as already one was being rattled through and thru. I waited for that beat in my neck that I had grown used to listening for prior to committing that fastidious clear-cut shot. I saw the reddened eyes of my opposite blink while slightly obfuscated by the his steamy frozen pant, and then sunk into the trigger, releasing the furry of a bull straight back again into my left shoulder, almost knocking that one free as well. I watched as his head detonate like a popping balloon scattering its skin all about. Now, the turbo shaft engines where whining at low throttle and the bird lay rested on a 30 degree angle set out in the clearing about 60 yards. The Blades where rotating just under lift-velocity cutting the air into squalls sounding like the flapping of a thousand wings stroking collectively. All we could do was take aim and wait.

No more than two minutes past and we decided to move in on the front gunner that had un-latched his door open and stuck his head out for just a second before deciding to button-up tight, boxed inside. I guess he knew that he had no chance after seeing his comrade's fall like bricks. You could see the chin-turret orbited backwards just a few feet shy of its line of attack. At that moment we moved - Dan grabbed the SAW and me with the carbine. We scooted thru the snow coming up the rear with our heads on a swivel, until we got up underneath the beast and felt the downwards power like the wrath of a tornado washing snow everywhere making it hard to see and tearing my eyes. I dropped the M-8 and pulled out my Colt, where Dan went ahead and while my arm was over and protruding past his shoulder for close quarters combat. As far as I knew, the gunner was unwary of us and looked to be on the radio as we peered in thru the bubbled canopy, the front door was on the left side witch made a two partied blitz seem like the practical choice for attack, as my target would be on the inside of my left field as we approached. The latched was recessed but it didn't lock as chopper theft was not in its designers minds. The wings protruded out about eight feet on either side carrying two pylon rocket pods underneath each. The extension was about three feet off the ground making us duck under as we crept up alongside of its fuselage and readied for the draw.

Dan reached up and popped the hatch handle open and swung back the armored door and took the element of surprise right to him, the gunner was wearing his flight helmet and had his com-breather mask un-snapped, he turned round surprisingly grasping a Škorpion 9 mm sub-machine-gun and letting loose its entire 20 round magazine in two seconds 2 seconds flat. All of which went straight by our heads completely missing us. I pulled the trigger sending a 45.cal right into his gut, where he gushed blood straight out of his mouth as if to say you got me. Dan grabbed him and pulled him out of the cockpit by his neck, and drew out his knife to finish him horribly. Then I yelled "stop, its friggin Salman, frig." I knew my mission inside out, and it didn't include engaging the prime target. "Dan, where screwed" I said, I will never forget that feeling of not knowing what to do next. "Tie him up" I said "and throw him in the back, were all leaving together and real fast." I ran around the other side and un-buttoned the hatch door, climbed up and removed the jacket of the pilot before I dumped him out. I turned the jacket inside out and wiped down the windows with snow and sopped it up with the jacket the best I could. Then got in and straddled the cyclic, closed the door and knocked in the front lower window pointing to the com helmet that he needed to retrieve from outside. Dan sprang out and back in an instant as if he wanted to leave just as every bit as much as I did. I pulled back on the collective eyeballing the HIS indicator and watched the vertical velocity indicator climb to 2 m/s and immediately applied counter torque trying to keep my tail straight. The accelerometer was spiking to +2g's which was not good in a bird built like a tank. I settled out gently handling the controls like a new born baby, until we were atop the canopy. I remembered how thankful I felt at that point for my stint as a mercenary in Africa, giving access to the whole of the Russian arms, including the experience piloting a Hind. I pitched forward about five degrees and rolled out slow and easy, fumbling for the control switch on the cyclic that switched gun control to the pilot. CLICK. I applied left torque helping coordinated a combat turn and selected the rocket weapons mode switch to burst length. I was in ingress back to the little village on the other side of the field knowing that it was likely that Salman's contacts were still there. I keep an air speed of 55mph and at nap of the earth until I seen the structure and yawned slightly right while pressing and holding the fire button on the cyclic. From both sides at once, rockets poured out like porcupine quills hell-driven on obliteration. They exploded into the structure and littered the area with 98 explosions. The entire area was ruined, so I yawed south and digressed out back the forward remote operations point. I got on the radio and signaled ahead that they would be receiving sensitive cargo from the north via borrowed Hind express. It was about a half an hour cruise back in which I wasted no time covering on the cause of the possibility of MIG interceptors, so I went NAP all the way back. I broke into sight of the FROP and blinked my strobe on and off twice, signaling my intention to land, and swung down in a break-turn, dropping straight on the pad. We were surrounded by weapon wielding GIs and four Leopord-2 tanks all strategically circling us, trained to fire. I powered down the Hind put my hands on my head, so did Dan.

At that point the soldiers opened up the hatches and pulled us both out, flipped use over kissing dirt and zip tied our hands together. They popped the rear hatch and dragged Salmon out doing the same to him. And now I'm here with you sir, that's what I remember sir, can I go? "Thanks son, you are a testament to all soldiers everywhere, go."
AMB2064864 1 / 6  
Mar 24, 2012   #2
It is an interesting read - as former military, a lot of it seemed familiar as I was reading. I feel that a short introduction to your main character would be a nice touch. As I was reading, I kept wondering, "Who is this guy? Why is he there? What are they doing?" I am sure many other readers would be wondering the same thing, so working in an introduction may prove helpful. Also, period instead of comma in your first sentence. Finally, Oak does not need to be capitalized. :) That's all that sticks out to me right now.


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