Monday, January 12, 2009

The Operation: Pt. 2

Our adrenaline was pumping more than ever now with a little less than two hours remaining. The area had cleared out and it was back to the four of us when I thought I'd heard more movement from the same spot our last enemy had come from. The consideration that I was now only paranoid came to mind, but was quickly dismissed. It was too risky. We jumped in front of the jeep where Seth had been stationed previously. The tent guarded our backs and the pond was to our right. The suspicious hedge sat opposite us, behind the jeep.

We sat still for sometime, awaiting any sign of what may be hunting us. Time passed and no more noise was heard and the light of our flashlights could find nothing that seemed live or human.

 "Maybe it was just an animal," Holly suggested.

 It was another consideration all of us were making, but were still too scared to take our attention off the brush. We continued radioing the status to Base Command who could be of no help on verifying what was going on.

"HEY! Did you see it? The red light!" the exclamation jumped out of me without a second thought.

"I did! I did!" Clint yelled. "I saw it! It was his laser!" . . . "We've got you covered! Come out with your hands in the air!" Seth ordered.

Our enemy refused though. Seth maintained watch in his direction while Holly and I kept close eye on the fields to our left. We all knew these spies tended to come in pairs and never alone.

POP! POP! POP! Seth's gun fired grabbing our attention. The man had leaped from his position but done so too quickly for any of us to see where he'd landed himself.
I became totally aware of my surroundings at this point. Where could he have possibly went to? I was shaking and found myself slipping around the curved sides of the tent along with Holly and Clint. I was clueless now and felt there was nothing I could do. He knew exactly where we were sitting and we didn't have the slightest notion which direction he'd be coming from.

Now, I still can't tell you how he did it... perhaps too many years of watching combat movies. Seth never forgot his duty as the gunman and remained ready. With nerves overtaking the other two and I, his sudden demand made us jump.

 "A flashlight! Give me a flashlight!" he commanded swiping Holly's from her hand. He bent down even further shining the light under the jeep. Before I could even get a glimpse of what he might be able to see he told us.

"He's under the car!" His cry came out muffled by the sound of his firing gun. He was relentless on our foe, and cries came from beneath the vehicle. Seth did take him out, but from that point on we were paranoid, letting every slight noise scare us.

During our fiasco the same attacker who'd taken out Alpha earlier in the night had compromised Charlie Camp. He attempted an attack on us later, in which neither of us succeeded, but we knew with the departure of our camp the man would be heading for the last one on the list: Delta. We'd tried our best to warn them.

"Delta, this is Bravo Commander Holly. You guys need to be ready. They're coming for you next. Be alert!" she warned. Grief overtook us shortly thereafter as we heard the sounds of the gun firing from down the valley and the loud cries. We knew before the report came across the radio. He'd compromised Delta.

And then we had thirty minutes left. We'd been hit again, but our keen awareness had allowed us to take the two agents captive. The fog from the pond beside us restricted our view but the light forming in the sky was slowly making up for it.

 "Attention all camps," the voice of base command called from my radio. We were all eager to hear our instructions. "We are making a communication change. All radio contact is being switched to gold. A check will be made in five minutes. All stations switch to gold."

One look and I knew we all were thinking the same thing. . . . "What's gold?" Clint asked.
. . . "I have no idea," I admitted. We'd only been given the code key that night. There was no way any of us could have had the entire thing memorized.

"We left the codes by the fire," Holly said in panic. "We're going to have to go get it or we can't switch!" We all knew she was right. But the fire, along with the answer to our question was sitting right out in the open. A perfect target.
"I'll go get it," volunteered Seth.

 I immediately disagreed. "No. You can't. You're the gunner, you've got to stay here."

"Clint, you go," Holly ordered.

"Why me?" The youngster looked at Holly with a scowl upon his face, hating to be bossed around.

 "Just do it Clint, you're quick and you're the smallest," she told him with frustration.

"I'll cover you Clint," Seth reassured him with a pat on the back.

"Okay," he finally accepted. Taking the order from Seth seemed easier for him.

His run back and forth went safely and we made the radio switch just in time.

We crouched back into the position we had been in for nearly two hours. And just when we thought maybe our night of suspense had drawn to a close, crackling slipped to our ears. He was back. He was in those same bushes all of our attackers seemed to find as the perfect fort.

Seth began yelling demands at Him to come out. There was no way he was going to defeat us at this point. We were perfecting this drill. Yet, by then, defending our camp was no longer Seth's goal. He wanted to take Him down. He had succeeded in compromising all of the camps and Seth would have none of it.

 How everything happened is still somewhat of a blur in my mind. As we watched closely for any movements He tried to make, suddenly we saw a silhouette with it's hands slowly raising in the air standing just outside the field on the edge of the road.

"What's he doing?" Holly asked in a panic. 

"I don't know," I replied equally confused. My heart rate was quickening. He had to have some master plan. Was he even alone? "Is he surrendering?"

Just as we came to believe this to be true, the silhouette turned making a mad dash into the fog. I had no time to think. Seth shot up from his low position, standing tall now firing into the mist. My head was in a whirl when our gunner then took off at a speed I'd never seen him present before. He disappeared into the whiteness as well as his crazy firing continued. It blasted loudly, nonstop like that of a machine gun. What was he doing?

We were all freaked out and on our feet. "Seth!! Seth come back!" Holly shrieked after him, terror spilling from her voice. "He's going to kill you!"

Though there was none other than that of his gun, noise consumed my ears and energy pumped through my veins like never before that night. We were so close, so close to ending this thing, and what was he doing?

 Then there was a cry and the firing stopped. The three of us stood out in the open for the first time in hours no longer worried that we were free targets but now had our eyes glued to the lane both our ally and enemy had vanished into.

Then we saw him. Running towards us Seth had a smile stretching from ear to ear.

"I got him!" he cried joyously. "I was running out of CO2 but I hit him before I went totally out!"

We all began to talk at once after that. We had ten minutes remaining until our drill was over, but we knew we were no longer at any risk.

"Yeah, I have plenty of paintballs left," Seth explained still on cloud nine. "But my CO2 canister is empty. That's why I was just firing away. But I hit Uncle Jeff just before it went dry. I didn't even know what I was shooting at!"

"Yeah, we heard it!" Clint exclaimed. You could see the exhilaration of the young boy clearly in his face. I was really proud of the eight-year-old for holding out the night as well as he had and without arguing much with his older sister.

"Did you hear Holly screaming?"

"I didn't hear anything really!"

 I even had to admit, I was impressed with the combat skills my brother had shown through the whole night, and never had I seen him move so quick as he had when taking off after our Uncle.

A celebrated cry was made when my Dad's voice from Base Command informed us it was 6:00 and we were done. Everyone broke camp quickly, eager to return to my grandmother's gazebo where the base had been set up.

Enthusiasm buzzed in the atmosphere upon the arrival there, where all of us cousins reunited after the adrenaline-pumping night. Daylight had broke and stories were being exchanged right and left from cousin to cousin.

"We set up a trip wire all the way around..."

 "The only reason we got compromised was Josh's CO2 ran out..."

"...and then he whistled me, and I was like 'Crap!' I had no idea he was back there!"

"Then Drew fell asleep so..."

"I just ran, dude!" I heard Seth telling his triumphant tale over and over.

The stories from one camp to the next were endless and everyone wanted to tell their version. But I was more amused by my uncles' stories of crawling on their bellies through brush and briars all night attempting to take us out. Here they were in their forties and fifties, still out playing army games.

 The entire night was a rush I'd never experienced before. My dad and I had planned this camp out for years in advance but not even he had anticipated the end results to be so successful. As tired and dirty as we all were, the one thing everyone was saying was "We've got to do this again next year!"

My family may sound a little unusual... but that's because we are. And that's what I love about it. It didn't matter who you were or what you did that night, none of us can or will forget it. And who else can say they've ever done such a thing?

Just ask Holly, for instance. She would say if it had been a boring night.

"Oh my gosh," she said to my camera that morning before leaving for home. "I loved it! I'm a girly-girl... I thought I would hate it, but it was awesome! We've got to do it again!"

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