Colombia, Ruins of Tocar 1900 hrs
Chris looked through the binoculars surveying the area. Nathan and Ezra were sitting in front of the tent they put up earlier, drinking coffee. Josiah was enjoying himself walking around the ruins. Chris knew, after reading Josiah's packet he got from the Colonel, that Josiah's background was in anthropology. Chris shifted his view to where Buck and JD were supposed to be but couldn't find them. He figured Buck must be on watch and was well hidden. Earlier he could see JD. The young man was working out better than Chris thought. Josiah had been right. He was a whiz with communications and Chris suspected he'd be even better with computers. So far each of the men he picked were doing fine. He knew the real test would come tonight when they went to free the hostages.
"Relax, Major," Vin drawled.
Chris turned his head towards where the voice was but couldn't see Vin. It was down right spooky how well Vin could hide in the jungle. Chris looked harder and spotted blue eyes peering at him from under a huge fern leaf.
"I thought you were sleeping," Chris replied.
"Tried," Vin said. "But with you moving around so much you kept waking me up."
"Ain't your fault," Vin said as he moved next to Chris. "I've always been a light sleeper."
"Guess you'd have to be in your line of work," Chris commented.
"Helps," Vin smiled as he looked through the binoculars. "They look down right cozy. Think they'll save us some coffee."
"They better if they know what's good for them," Chris growled.
"Hear that, Ezra?" Vin asked keying his mic. "Better save us some coffee."
Ezra didn't say anything but Vin watched as he gave them a two-fingered salute. Vin smiled then looked to where JD and Buck were hiding. The sniper easily spotted Buck. The mustached rogue yawned opening his mouth wide.
"Better cover your mouth when you do that, Buck," Vin said keying his mic again. "No telling what kinda bug will fall in."
Vin could hear JD chuckle over his headgear as Buck gave Vin the finger. Chris just shook his head amazed that Vin had found Buck so easily.
"Where is he?" Chris asked as he looked through his binoculars.
"Straight across the clearing," Vin said. "Then a little to the left. He's under that huge elephant ear palm."
"Hell, guess that's why you're the sniper," Chris said when he couldn't find Buck.
Vin took the next watch and Chris settled close by for a nap. It felt like he'd just fallen asleep when he felt someone shaking his shoulder. Chris opened his eyes to see Vin, Buck and JD looking down at him.
"Time to wake up, Cowboy," Vin said.
"Did he just call you a cowboy?" Buck asked amazed.
"I think he did," JD said.
"He really hates that," Buck said.
Vin just smiled and walked towards the ruins. Buck looked at Chris in surprise. The last person that called Chris a cowboy ended up in the hospital with a broken jaw. The Major gave Buck a withering look and followed Vin.
"What's wrong?" JD asked.
"Oh nothing," Buck said as he started walking. "Just not sure why Chris let's Vin get away with calling him cowboy."
"It's just a nickname," JD shrugged as he followed Buck.
"Last person that called Chris cowboy went to the hospital with a broken jaw," Buck warned. "So it's best if you don't call him that."
JD nodded and kept following Buck. When they got to the ruins they hunched down behind one of the walls. Josiah, Nathan and Ezra were all dressed in the camouflage BDU's and body armor.
"You look right nice, Ezra," Vin smiled.
"Yes, multi colored garments compliment me," Ezra said sarcastically.
"Want me to put on your face paint?" Vin asked politely.
"I think not," Ezra said. "I don't wish to be painted as a canine."
Vin shrugged and took the coffee Josiah was passing around. Vin watched as Ezra applied the paints covering his fair skin. He smiled as Ezra sighed dramatically as the southerner tied a green bandana over his hair. Chris got everyone's attention and went over the plan. Vin would go into the village first to check and see if any of Morales' men were in the village. If there were, he would eliminate them and report back. Once the village was secure the rest of the team would move in and get the hostages. They nodded that they understood and moved out. It was getting dark and they all connected their NVG's. They left the tents up in case someone came looking. This way it would look like there were people still there. Vin took point and Chris warned them to keep visual contact with the person in front of them. Chris sent Buck after Vin with JD behind him. Josiah came after JD followed by Nathan than Ezra. Chris brought up the rear covering their six. The sniper chose an easy path in the dark and kept them at a steady pace. Buck was following close behind Vin when the sniper suddenly stopped with a fist in the air. Buck stopped and repeated the signal it was passed down the line. Buck kept an eye on Vin as the sniper scanned the jungle in front of him. Suddenly Vin made a slashing motion with his hand and dropped to the ground. Buck gave the others the signal and soon the whole team was motionless on the jungle floor. JD was close to Buck and he could hear the kid breathing fast. As Buck gave JD's shoulder a squeeze he saw Vin slowly rise and make his way back to them.
"What was it?" Chris asked quietly.
"A jaguar," Vin smiled. "Female with two cubs. Didn't want to scare her."
"Oh but scaring us is okay," Buck accused.
"No telling what she would have done if she saw us," Vin said.
"A real jaguar," JD said in awe. "Would have loved to seen her."
"Let's move out," Chris suggested. "This isn't an ecotour."
Vin smiled and took the lead. They hiked for another half-hour when Vin stopped. They could see the thatched covered huts through the jungle. JD stumbled into Buck as he tripped over a root. Vin quickly looked back at the slight sound and JD mouthed 'sorry'. They gathered around Vin as he handed his sniper rifle and MP5 assault rifle to Chris.
"Give me ten," Vin said. Chris nodded and Vin disappeared.
"That is extremely un-nerving," Ezra commented.
"Just wait 'til he comes back," Josiah said.
"Hell, we'll never know when he does," snorted Buck.
"Exactly," Josiah smiled.
They waited patiently for Vin to return. Chris checked his watch and Vin was do back any second. Vin wouldn't sneak up on them, not this close to the village.
"Vin coming in," the sniper said over the radio. Vin materialized between Buck and JD causing them to jump.
"Jeez!" JD exclaimed.
Vin smiled and squatted in front of them. He began to brush away the leaves and debris to reveal the dirt. The others gathered around him as Vin began to draw
"The village is clear," Vin said quietly. "There are villagers posted as sentries," Vin pointed out two spots by the hut the hostages were in. "They also have two villagers sleeping in the hut with the hostages. I can put the ones outside to sleep but the ones inside will be a problem."
"Damn," Chris cursed. "Alright, Nathan, Buck, you take care of the ones outside. Vin and I will take the ones inside."
"What about the hostages?" Ezra asked. "If they wake and decide to call out the villagers will be summoned."
"Damn, Ezra, why can't ya just say we'll be screwed," Vin smiled as the others laughed.
"Ezra has a point," Josiah said. "There's no way we can take the ones inside without alerting someone."
"There is one way," Nathan said. "I asked Travis for this just in case."
Nathan handed Vin a small pistol with tranquilizer darts. The sniper smiled and turned to Chris.
"Piece of cake," Vin said.
"Alright, Buck, you go with Vin," Chris instructed. "Put the villagers outside to sleep then watch his six while he shoots the ones inside from the window. As soon as they're down we'll move in and bring the hostages out."
They all nodded and moved to the edge of the clearing. Vin led them behind some huts then over to the one close to the hostage's hut. Vin had them wait there then motioned for Buck to follow him. Buck moved in close like a watchful shadow. The first villager was sitting next to the door and Vin took careful aim. He pulled the trigger and Buck wasn't even sure Vin hit him. Buck smiled as the villager slumped back against the wall. The other sentry was walking back and forth, by the hut, when Vin shot him. He slapped his neck then fell to the ground. Vin moved quickly to the hut and peered inside. The sniper could tell which were the villagers by the clothes they wore. He took aim and fired, as Buck stood close by watching his back.
"All clear," Vin said over the radio.
The others moved towards the hut and quickly entered. Vin moved quietly to the female and put his hand over her mouth as he touched her shoulder. She was startled awake and Vin never saw the rock in her hand as she swung her hand up to connect with his left temple. Vin slumped across her legs as she screamed.
"Shit!" Chris cursed as everyone woke at her scream.
"Rain! No!" said an older black man as she went to hit Vin again.
"What's going on?" one of the other hostages asked.
"Everyone take it easy," Josiah said. ""We've come to take you away."
"It's about damned time," Ian Thomas said.
"We can't let you take them," said and old man at the door holding a lamp.
"We can't go with you," Rain said as she tried to wiggle out from underneath Vin. "They'll kill the villagers."
"Like hell we can't," Ian exclaimed.
"Everyone just shut up!" Chris growled. "Nathan check Vin."
Nathan nodded and moved over to the attractive black woman who was rolling Vin over onto his back. As Nathan got closer he could see a small amount of blood on Vin's left temple.
"I didn't mean to hit him so hard," she confessed. "But he frightened me."
"I bet, Miss..?
"Rain Montgomery," she said. "The older man is my father Eban. The man with the dark hair is Mitch Kinkade. The red head is Cory McDonald and the man arguing with your leader is..."
"Ian Thomas, we know," Nathan said as he checked Vin.
"You came to rescue him?"
"All of you, but he was the main reason we were sent here."
As he talked Nathan put some peroxide on gauze and wiped the blood from Vin's temple. He could fell a lump starting and knew Vin was gonna have one hell of a headache. As he took care of Vin, Nathan could hear Chris arguing with Thomas. Nathan instantly disliked the man and he had a feeling Chris did also. Nathan was happy to see the wound had already stopped bleeding. He asked Rain to hand him another gauze when he felt Vin begin to stir. Nathan was taken by surprise as Vin rolled away from him and quickly stood up with his back to the wall and a knife in his hand.
"Whoa, easy Vin," Nathan said as the sniper swayed on his feet.
Chris moved over by Nathan to reassure Vin in case he thought he was in danger. They watched as Vin took stock of everyone in the hut. When Vin realized the situation was under control he lowered his arm and slid down the wall until he was sitting on the floor.
"What the hell hit me!" Vin demanded as he rested his head on his up drawn knees.
"I'm afraid I did," Rain answered.
"I don't know, Junior, not very manly getting taken out by a pretty little thing like her," Buck teased.
Vin gave Buck a dirty look as Nathan asked how many fingers he was holding up. Chris and Buck both turned back to the chief.
"How many men does Morales have?" Chris asked.
"Would twenty scare you?" Tastanagi asked.
"Think we can handle twenty," Buck said.
"What kind of weapons?"
"What you are carrying," he replied. "Some larger guns, a jeep with a powerful machine gun attached. Regular army issue."
"We've been watching and notice he only sends a few men to check on the hostages," Chris continued. "Does he always follow this pattern?"
"Yes," Tastanagi answered. "Usually no more then five. He doesn't consider us a threat."
"If we eliminate the advance party, Morales will investigate when they don't return," Ezra said.
"That's what I was thinking," Chris said. "But would he send all his troops to see why the others didn't return?"
"Don't know," Buck admitted.
"We could always take the fight to them," JD suggested.
"We don't have enough weapons," Tastanagi said.
"Morales' men will supply the weapons," Chris said.
"So you think he'll send a few first?" Josiah asked.
"It's what I would do," Chris said.
"So as we take them out we end up with weapons," Buck smiled. "I like it."
"Then what do we do with them?" Vin asked as he walked over with Nathan's help. "Ain't like these villagers will know what to do with them."
"We show them," Chris said appraising Vin. "You alright?"
"I'm fine," Vin assured him.
"Like hell you are," Nathan disagreed.
"How bad?" Chris asked looking at Nathan.
"He doesn't have a concussion," Nathan said. "But he is dizzy and should be lying down."
"Take him some place and knock him off his feet," Chris ordered.
"Chris!" Vin protested as Nathan led him away.
"Tie him down if you have to," Chris said and Vin gave him the finger.
"This I have to see," Buck laughed as he followed.
"Take JD with you," Chris said. "The four of you get some sleep. The rest of us will keep guard and come up with a plan."
"Come on JD," Buck said and the younger man followed.
Chris turned back to the chief and got to work on a plan to stop Morales.
Colombia, Indian Village 0200 hrs
Chris walked to the hut where the others were sleeping. It took them about an hour to work up a tentative plan for the following day. Ezra and Josiah followed him to the hut. The chief had said there was no need to mount a guard but Chris felt more secure if they did. Chris entered and wasn't surprised when he felt a gun pressed to his side.
"Nice to see you too," Chris said.
"Just making sure, Pard," Buck said.
"How's Vin?" Chris asked when he saw Nathan was awake and sitting next to a small lantern.
"He's alright," Nathan assured him
"He doesn't look alright, " Ezra said when he saw the snipers pale face through the gaps in the face paint.
"Ezra's right," Chris agreed.
"I've been waking him ever hour," Nathan explained. "Just to make sure he was alright."
"Until Vin threatened to shoot him if he did it one more time," Buck chuckled.
"Yeah," JD laughed. "that's when Buck took his guns away."
"Vin doesn't need to go out," Nathan said as he gathered his weapon. "Let him sleep."
"Alright," Chris agreed. "Come get us an hour before dawn."
Chris went over and lay next to Vin. The sniper was sleeping on his right side and Chris could see the goose egg lump on his left temple. The lump was already a vivid purple that clashed with the green and black face paint. Chris stretched out on his back and listened as Josiah and Ezra settled nearby. Chris forced himself to relax and was soon asleep.
Colombia, Indian Village 0500 hrs
JD walked to the hut to wake the others. The sun wasn't up yet but it could be seen peeking through the trees to the East. JD stepped into the hut and was taken by surprise as his arm was twisted behind his back.
"Sorry, son," Josiah said and let him go.
"How the hell is a body supposed to sleep around here," Vin complained as he sat up.
"I must protest also," Ezra added. "The accommodations are deplorable."
"This isn't Clubmed," Chris growled as he sat next to Vin. "How ya feeling?"
"Feels like I got one hell of a hangover," Vin answered. "But a strong cup of coffee should fix that."
"How about a whole breakfast?" Buck asked as he stepped aside to let Rain and some of the other village women enter. "I've even got warm water so ya's can get washed up."
The three women placed dishes of eggs and vegetables on the floor with some empty bowls. The two village women left and Rain started handing out the bowls. They all sat down and Nathan moved over to check on Vin.
"Nathan, you better leave me alone until after I eat!" Vin growled as he knocked the medic's hand away.
"Fine!" Nathan cried. "When you keel over from a brain hemorrhage don't come crying to me."
"Hope you're takin' notes, Kid," Buck laughed.
"Oh yeah," JD said as he spooned some eggs into his bowl. "Don't mess with Vin when he's hurt. Don't piss off Nathan or he'll let you bleed to death. Josiah is quicker than he looks. Ezra likes his comforts and you'll chase anything in a skirt."
"And what about the Major?" Ezra asked.
"Just do what he says, no questions asked," JD said.
"Yeah right," Vin mumbled.
"What was that Vin?" Chris asked raising his eyebrow and Vin ignored him.
"See, Chris, I told ya the Kid was smart," Buck laughed.
"So what's the plan?" Vin asked after gulping down the weak coffee.
"Tastanagi says Morales only sends a few men to check on the hostages," Chris said. "We'll take then out then wait for the next bunch."
"Sounds easy enough," Vin nodded.
"Vin I want you on the high ground," Chris said. "Just in case someone tries getting away. If we can take them unharmed we will."
The others agreed and finished their breakfast. When they were done they got cleaned up then they all scattered to various buildings in the village. An old abandoned church was in the village, left over from previous missionaries. It was the tallest structure and that was where Vin headed. One of the villagers gave Vin a boost up to the roof and he took cover behind the bell tower. The church offered a perfect view to the hut where the hostages were kept. Vin watched as the hostages let the villagers tie their hands behind their backs. Vin watched as Ian tried to protest but Josiah's presence made him give in. The hostages were put in the hut and now all they had to do was wait.
Buck and JD had taken refuge behind some rain barrels. Buck could see that JD was nervous.
"Just relax Kid."
"Can't," JD sighed. "I've never done anything like this before."
"You've been through the combat training," Buck said.
"Yeah but this is different," JD said. "I might have to shoot real people with real bullets."
"You might," Buck agreed. "Just remember don't get fancy and shoot to kill. 'Cause that's what they will be doing."
"I know," JD said licking his lips.
"Just remember," Buck instructed. "Set the rifle to controlled bursts. Don't need you holding the trigger and emptying a full clip into one guy. Stick close to me and if you need to reload call out and I'll cover you."
"Okay," JD nodded.
"You'll be okay," Buck said patting JD's knee.
While Buck was trying to reassure JD, Chris was watching the compound. Ezra was his partner and he just wasn't comfortable with the intelligence officer.
"You don't trust me," Ezra stated.
"Never really trusted intelligence officers," Chris admitted.
"Then why did you ask me to join the team?"
"Seemed like a good idea at the time," Chris smiled.
"I see," Ezra frowned.
"Actually the intelligence you gathered was always accurate," Chris added. "I never ran into problems when I went on a mission where you gathered the intel. Figured you might be useful."
"I'll try to live up to your expectations," Ezra replied dryly.
"All I ask is for you to do your best," Chris said.
"They're coming," Vin said over the radio.
"Alright this is it," Chris said glancing around. "Just remember if it comes down to a fight be careful of the villagers."
They all watched as a jeep came into the village with four men. The jeep had a machine gun mounted in the back with one man standing by the gun. The other three men were armed with AK 47's. The stopped the jeep across from the church and Tastanagi went out to meet them. One of the men started talking in Spanish. The chief nodded and walked towards the hut the hostages were in. The one soldier followed the chief while the others stayed by the jeep.
"I have a clean shot Major," Vin said.
"Alright, take out the guy on the gun," Chris instructed.
A split second later the soldier by the machine gun toppled out of the jeep. Vin's silenced Remington 700 had done its job.
"Move in now!" Chris shouted.
The six on the ground sprang into action as Vin covered them from the roof of the church. They quickly surrounded the soldiers. Chris was never able to give them the option to surrender as the soldiers opened fire. Buck shot one and Josiah got the other. Chris turned to see the last soldier grab the chief and hold a gun to the old man's head.
"Drop your guns or I kill him."
"Vin," Chris said into his mic.
The soldier looked frantically around then all of a sudden his head snapped back. There was a look of surprise on his face as he fell to the ground dead.
"Jesus," JD gagged and looked away. Vin had shot the soldier right between the eyes.
"Are you alright?" Chris asked the chief.
"Yes, thank you."
"Not gonna get many weapons off them," Buck said as he turned one of the soldiers over.
"Well have to make do," Chris said.
"Eleven guns against twenty aren't' very good odds," Ezra pointed out.
"What if we make them think we're more than that," JD said out loud.
"And how do you plan to do that, JD?" Buck asked.
"I don't know," JD shrugged. "Maybe we could make dummies or something."
"I like it," Josiah said thoughtfully.
"Might work," Nathan agreed.
"If we put sticks or something in their hands to look like guns," Buck added.
"Guys," JD said in surprise. "It was a stupid idea."
"No, it's not," Chris said. "It could draw their attention away from us long enough to get off cleans shots."
"Way to go, Kid," Buck said ruffling his hair.
"Quit it," JD protested but they could all see the smile on his face at Buck's praise.
They weren't sure how long Morales would wait before sending more soldiers. Tastanagi organized the villagers to gather clothing and straw to make the dummies. Nathan set up a hospital at the church and with Rain's help gathered cloth for bandages. Once everything was gathered they all helped make the dummies. Ezra attracted all the children since he promised to show them card tricks if they did a good job. Vin took some of the villagers to a clearing and showed them how to use the guns. Chris sent Buck and JD up the road to keep a look out. Josiah was piling boxes and crates by some of the huts for them to hide behind. Ian Thomas followed Chris around complaining that they were sent to rescue the hostages not protect the village. Chris finally had enough of his bitching and punched him. Ian fell to the ground and Chris walked away. The late afternoon sun was hot and Chris wiped his face with his bandana.
"Nice punch," Vin said with a smile as he walked over to Chris.
"Can they handle the guns?" Chris asked as he tied the bandana around his neck.
"I think so," Vin said. "I put the AK-47's on single shot so they'll have to pull the trigger every time."
"Good we don't want them emptying a clip with one pull on the trigger," Chris said.
"Guess all we have ta do is wait," Vin said.
"Guess so," Chris said. "How's your head."
"It's alright," Vin said touching the lump. "Ain't never been knocked out by a woman before."
"First time for everything," Chris smiled.
"I reckon," Vin chuckled.
"Chris, someone's coming," Buck said over the radio.
"Ezra!" Chris shouted. "Get those kids somewhere safe."
No one panicked when Chris shouted. The women gathered the children and they disappeared into the jungle. The men went to the spots assigned to them and got ready. Vin scrambled up to the roof of the church and took cover behind the bell tower. Everyone was ready as a truck came into the clearing in front of the church. Ten men got out of the truck and fanned out.
"Where are the others!" the leader shouted.
When he didn't get a response he gave orders in Spanish and some of the soldiers moved towards the huts. Chris gave the order to take them and the fight began. Vin took out two but couldn't get a clear shot as Morales's men moved in between the huts. He slung the Remington on his back and climbed down from the church. Once he was on the ground he pulled his MP5 off his shoulder and moved quietly along the side of the church. Chris was able to take out two before he had to pull one of the villagers out of harms way behind some barrels.
Josiah had his hands full covering Nathan as he helped drag an injured man behind one of the dwellings. Just as Nathan pulled the man to safety one of Morales's men appeared around the corner. Nathan quickly brought his rifle up and fired. Josiah turned to offer assistance but saw Nathan had everything under control. The medic knelt next the injured man and began to check him over as Josiah stood guard.
Buck looked frantically around for JD. They were separated when the fighting broke out and Buck was worried. He edged along one of the huts and peered around the edge. He saw two of the enemy was positioned behind some of the boxes shooting at the others. Buck took a deep breath then stepped from behind the building firing. He shot the two men since they were taken by surprise. Buck left them and went looking for JD.
All the training never prepared JD for something like this. When he was separated from Buck he almost panicked but realized the others were counting on him to pull his own weight. He cautiously walked through one of the opening between the huts when one of the soldiers appeared in front of him. JD pulled the trigger and emptied his clip. They were so close that when the soldier fell he knocked into JD and pinned him to the ground. JD lay there a second surprised he wasn't dead. He rolled the body off him and stood up on shaky legs. JD saw the blood and wiped at it with his hand. He looked at the blood on his hand and quickly wiped it on his pants in revulsion. JD put another clip in his rifle and went looking for Buck.
Ezra took cover behind the boxes Josiah stacked earlier. He didn't have a clear shot at anyone and waited. Ezra was taken by surprise when one of the boys he showed card tricks to darted out from under one of the huts. One of the soldiers saw the boy and took aim on the child. Ezra didn't even think as he stood up screaming and firing his weapon. The soldier was thrown back into the side of the hut. Ezra searched for the boy and saw him hiding under the hut by the dead soldier.
"What are you doing here!" Ezra demanded lifting the boy to his feet.
"I was worried for you," the boy said. Ezra was about to scold the boy when Chris called for a head count.
"Vin here, I got two."
"Buck, ditto, two."
"I got two so that leaves one more left," Chris said. "So keep and eye out."
"You stay close by me," Ezra said grabbing the boy. "You understand?"
Ezra moved carefully between two of the huts with the boy close on his heels. He made his way towards the church. Ezra stopped at the edge of the hut and looked around. He saw Vin walking cautiously around the church when he heard the truck's engine begin to rumble. Ezra saw the truck start moving towards Vin.
"Vin! Look out!" Ezra shouted.
Vin heard the truck at the same time Ezra did and turned to try to get a shot. He never got one as the truck came hurtling towards him and he quickly rolled away and lay still. From Ezra's point of view it looked like the truck hit Vin and threw him to the side. Ezra's shouts had brought the others but he was the first to reach Vin.
"Vin!" Ezra called as the truck sped away. The sniper lay on his back looking up at the sky.
"I got hurt less working alone," Vin complained as he sat up.
"Don't move Vin!" Nathan yelled as he ran over.
"He didn't even hit me," Vin said as Ezra helped him to his feet.
"I don't care I still want to check you over," Nathan said as he took Vin's arm.
"Leave off, Nathan!" Vin growled and pulled out of his grip.
"Go with him, Vin," Chris ordered.
Vin grumbled as Nathan led him away. Chris turned to the others and was surprised at all the blood on JD.
"None of its mine," JD said quickly when he saw Chris's look.
"Now what?" Buck asked.
"Morales will come with the rest of his men," Chris reasoned.
"I think he'll wait until morning," Josiah declared.
"I think so too," Chris agreed. "I want a patrol throughout the night. We also need to get those dummies finished and more barriers up."
They all nodded and moved away to get to work. Chris looked around the village and shook his head. This was just supposed to be a simple extraction. Now they were fighting for their lives to save a village.
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