Crosshairs Excerpt

Time to gear up,” AJ called out.

As they began to gather their gear, Mac glanced over to Kayla. “Hey, Hot Stuff. You need any help over there? This being your first op and all.”

Kayla looked up from her pack and met Mac’s gaze. “Hot Stuff? What the hell, Mac?”

“What? Logan said you didn’t really like Sweet Cheeks. We figured Hot Stuff would be better.” The rest of the team snickered, but quickly stopped when she glared at them.

“Y’all seriously thought Hot Stuff was better than Sweet Cheeks?” She looked over at AJ, Logan, and Brian. “I need to have a chat with your wives and Chris. Don’t think you’re getting out of this Trace. I’ll have Mia take care of you for me.” She stood with her hip cocked to one side, hands on her hips, and with a saucy smile when she said, “Alright, Mac. You can call me Hot Stuff if I can call you Pretty Boy or Sexy Devil.”

“Honey, you can call me whatever your little heart desires,” Mac said with a sweet, flirtatious voice causing everyone to laugh again.

Still chuckling, Logan ordered, “Comm check.

“Loud and clear,” Kayla responded then kissed the engagement ring she wore on a necklace and tucked it back under her shirt. The rest of the team verified their comms were working properly as well. It would really suck if they couldn’t talk to each other in the middle of a battle.

An hour later the team was in position. While they waited for Al-Said to arrive, there was some light banter going on. Anything to break the tension while waiting.

“Hey, Hollywood. When are you and Hot Stuff going to spar again? I need to make some extra money betting against you,” Trace whispered. With the sensitive communication gear they each wore, a whisper could sound as if the person was right beside you.

“Like you can talk. I believe she’s kicked your ass just as much as mine at this point but let me check my schedule. I need to make sure it doesn’t interfere with my date with Mia.”

“Fuck you, Hollywood.” Trace was not happy with Mac’s comment.

“What? I didn’t think you two were together which makes her free game, right?”

“Hell no, and you damn well know it. Hot Stuff, if I give you a hundred bucks will you kick his ass for me right now?”

“With pleasure.”

“Hey now. That’s not fair. What’s wrong, Slim? Can’t fight your own battles?” Mac shot back chuckling.

“I can take you any time, any day, and you know it. I find it more amusing when you’re getting your ass kicked by a girl.”

“There’s a compliment in there somewhere I’m sure,” Kayla fired back. She heard the entire team laugh quietly. Just when the conversation was getting interesting, Kayla thought. “Shadow. I have movement heading toward the house.”

“Roger that,” Logan came back. “Everyone, stay sharp.”

They watched as five men exited the two vehicles. “Confirmation. Al-Said exited vehicle one,” whispered Mac. “I see four guards.”

“Roger,” Logan responded.

As Kayla watched Al-Said interface with the guards, the hair on the back of her neck started to rise. Something wasn’t right. She couldn’t put her finger on it exactly, but something was nudging her. Call it spidey sense, 6th sense, or just plain gut instinct. Something was wrong with this setup. This may be her first mission with Alpha, but she could still read people and Al-Said’s body language was all wrong. Not sure if Logan or the guys would listen, but unwilling to take the risk, “Shadow, something isn’t right here. I know this is my first op, but something isn’t adding up. Al-Said’s body language is off.”

“Hollywood, Doc, you have some of the best instincts I’ve seen, what’s your gut saying?” Logan asked Mac and AJ. He didn’t mention the concern he and Brian had after meeting Mohammad since he wanted an unbiased opinion from his guys. Besides, concern or gut feeling wasn’t enough to abort a mission like this.

Mac responded first, “I agree with Hot Stuff. Something isn’t adding up here. Five guards could be normal, but there’s next to no security around the property. No cameras, guards, fence, nothing. As paranoid as Al-Said is there is no way in hell he would visit a place like this with only a few guards. We didn’t have good satellite photos during planning, and I hoped like hell our source was solid, but now I’m not so sure. How solid do you think he is?”

“He was given to us by one of our three-letter agency friends, so your guess is as good as mine,” Logan answered.

“Shit,” AJ said. “Could he be playing both sides?”

“Who the fuck knows. OK, here’s the deal. This is the best shot we’ve had in the last six months, and we have confirmation he’s here. We’ve had shit intel and shit missions before. Let’s do our job, get this done, and get home,” Logan announced. “We go in 3…2…1…Execute.”

Trace and Logan were the first to reach the house. Brain and AJ reached the back seconds later with no one the wiser.

Mac watched the team from his sniper’s nest covering them. “Movement in the house and around the east perimeter. At least five more tangos.” Mac knew they could handle the number of assholes they spotted so far, but too many more could be a problem.

“Same here on the West,” Kayla said. “With more from the north. Moving on your locations fast. Shit. Were we set up?”

“I have multiple bricks of explosives,” AJ calmly stated.

“Reaper, can you disarm?” Logan asked.

“Sure, but I can’t promise there aren’t more elsewhere in the house.” Brian moved in to disarm the explosives as AJ silently took care of a guard and dragged him out of sight.

“Do it. We aren’t letting this fucker get away if we can help it. Slim doesn’t see any trip wires or explosives on our side. We’ll make entry when you clear your explosives. Hot Stuff, Hollywood, cover our asses and take down any fucker that gets in the way,” ordered Logan. “From the sounds of things, the party is about to get interesting.”

“Roger,” Kayla and Mac answered.

Weapons fire rang loud in the night air as the tangos finally saw Logan and Trace. Mac and Kayla laid cover fire taking out as many bad guys as they could. The guys on the ground had decent cover, but it wouldn’t last long; not with the number of assholes coming out to play. “Clear,” called Brain.

“Entry in 3…2…1,” Logan commanded.

Trace broke down the front door at the same time AJ broke down the back. Kayla and Mac continued to lay down cover fire taking down one bad guy after another. After what seemed like an eternity, Logan, AJ, Brian and Trace announced one after another, “Clear.”

“Shit. The house is empty. What the fuck guys? Where in the hell did he go?” Brian sounded pissed.

Mac answered, “Hot stuff was right. This was a setup from the start.”

“Everyone out now. Hollywood, Hot Stuff cover us,” announced Logan.

Mac recognized the telltale whine of a mortar and yelled, “INCOMING!” Logan, AJ, Brian, and Trace busted ass out of the house just before the mortar hit.

“Hollywood, I have more movement on all sides. We need to get the guys out now. As much fun as I’m having we don’t have the ammo to keep this up forever,” stated Kayla.

“Yeah, I know. Shadow, come in. Shadow, damn you, if you even think about dying down there I’ll send Hot Stuff to kick your ass! Now answer me!”

Again, with the threats about me kicking someone’s ass. What the hell? Like you said earlier, there’s a compliment in there somewhere. Gee, thanks conscience. No problem, glad I could help. Kayla mentally rolled her eyes at herself as she continued to cover the team.

Logan rolled to his side, the wind knocked out of him and coughed. His voice was gravelly when he answered Mac. “I’m here. We all made it out, but Slim is down. We need immediate evac to the secondary extraction. Rendezvous at point Bravo.” He coughed again before he said, “Call it in Hollywood.”

“Alpha Command, Alpha team. Request immediate evac at secondary extraction. Expect rendezvous in approximately 20 mikes. Over.”

“Roger, Alpha. Secondary extraction. Approximately 20 mikes,” someone at command acknowledged.

Brian tossed Trace over his shoulder, and all four men hauled ass away from the house.

“Hot Stuff, you see the glare?” Mac asked.

“Yeah, I got ‘em.”

“Any day now would be nice.”

“Patience is a virtue Hollywood. How about showing a little? I figured an all-around badass like you would have a bit more.” Kayla took a deep breath and released it slowly as she pulled the trigger. “Sniper down.”

“Nice shot. Slim may be out of a job yet.”

“Good thing he’s currently passed out. He may take offense to that statement, Hollywood.” Kayla smiled as she continued to lay down cover.

“Shadow, sniper down but still a fuck ton of unfriendlies on the ground. Suggest you pick up the pace. Hot Stuff and I will be leaving our nests shortly.”

“Roger. You heard the man, let’s move.”

Kayla and Mac continued to lay down cover fire while the four men moved faster. Once they had cover from some buildings, Logan called, “Hollywood, Hot Stuff, head for rendezvous now. See you in a few.”

“Roger. We’re on the move,” Kayla answered.

All six team members met at point Bravo and headed out to the extraction point together. Logan on point, AJ next to Brian who was still carrying Trace, with Mac and Kayla bringing up the rear.

“Anyone following?” asked AJ.

“No, we’re clear for now,” responded Mac.

“Good. Reaper put Slim down. I need to check his injuries and stabilize him before we make things worse.”

“Do it,” Logan ordered.

Brian laid Trace down, and AJ got to work with everyone watching his back.

“How bad?” Logan asked while he scanned his area for more enemy.

“He’ll live. Looks like mostly shrapnel wounds and some burns from the explosion. Someone may have gotten a lucky shot off too; bullet burn left bicep. With him still unconscious, I’d add a concussion to top things off. I dressed what I could and gave him some pain meds. He should be good until we get to the extraction point.”

“Roger that. Hollywood you’re up for Slim duty. Reaper, stay close to Hollywood. Doc you cover our asses with Hot Stuff. I have point.”

“Roger that.” Once Mac had Trace situated the team was on the move again.

Making their way out of Duma was, to say the least, nerve-racking. The house was on the outskirts of town but still in an urban area which they had to clear to reach the secondary extraction point. Kayla felt like a sitting duck waiting to be picked off from any direction. Including from above.

“Shadow,” Kayla whispered, “I spot half a dozen armed men trying to flank us on the right. We’re also being watched from the rooftops.” What a cluster of a first mission! God, I hope all missions don’t go to shit like this.

“I see about the same on the left,” AJ added.

“Anyone behind?” Logan asked.

“Not directly, no, but with the buildings, we can’t determine exact numbers or positions,” AJ told him.

“Fuck!” Logan quietly exclaimed “Alpha Command, this is Alpha One. We are less than five mikes from secondary extraction with approximately a dozen tangos attempting to flank on both sides. One injury, stable. Request contact with helo to inform of hot LZ.”

“Alpha One, Alpha Command. Copy last. Will inform of hot LZ.”

“Roger. Out.” Logan replied. “Let’s pick up the pace.”

“I hear the helo. Those assholes are going to hit hard as soon as it’s insight. We’ll be sitting ducks while loading,” AJ stated.

“Yup. Just another day in paradise,” Logan answered.

As expected, the enemy began to fire as soon as the Black Hawk was in sight.

“Reaper, 3 o’clock,” Logan announced telling Brian to look to his right for the enemy.

“Got it.”

“Hurry the hell up!” The side gunner yelled as he laid down cover fire from the .50 caliber machine gun mounted on the Blackhawk at the side door.

Bullets were flying at everyone and everywhere. There was no cover or concealment for the team since the extraction was in an open field. Good thing the assholes were all shit shots.

“Hot Stuff, get in and cover us,” Logan yelled. “Hollywood you’re next with Slim.” Kayla jumped in the helo then turned around to help Mac load Trace. Once Mac was in, they began to cover the others again.

“We’re in. Come on you three,” Mac told Brian, AJ, and Logan. All three men jumped in.

“Everyone’s accounted for. Go! Go! Go!” Logan yelled to the pilot.

The pilot nodded and began to take off. Brian saw someone pick up a rocket-propelled grenade and shouted, “RPG!” Kayla shot the asshole, but not before he launched the RPG.

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