Monday, January 12, 2009

The Operation: Pt. I

Part I of the personal narrative I wrote as a senior in high school of one of my big family's crazy adventures! 

I shifted my legs underneath me just enough to keep the blood flowing, yet my body remained hunkered down, ready to spring into action at any given moment. I could see the very beginnings of daylight peaking over the hills in the east as dawn approached.

"What time is it?" asked Clint in a low whisper slightly behind me.

"Five-thirty," I replied.

"Come on, guys," Seth encouraged as we'd all been doing throughout night. "Thirty more minutes. We can make it."

I knew he was right, if we could hold out these last thirty minutes we'd be safe and the only camp who'd survived Him.

 I couldn't figure out if the past eleven and a half hours had gone slow or fast. All I really knew for sure at that point, as I squatted with my three allies between our tent and the jeep Holly happened to have parked in the ideal spot to create a barricade, was the night had not been what I'd anticipated.

The seventeen of us who would be maintaining camps through the night had met with the base command operators at 6:00 the evening before where we were assigned stations and positions and given a code booklet (which for confidential purposes will not be included in this documentation).

They'd prepared us for what we'd been expecting months in advance of the operation; a night of communication between the four camps to Base Command reporting all activity in the area. At the most, we may have predicted an attempted infiltration, but nothing more.

But there we were, one hundred percent alert crouched low to the cool wet ground, ready for anything.

"Ische! Askrabo ton bihn!" cried the grungy prisoner lying face down in the grass beside Seth. He spoke gruffly, in a gibberish language none of us could identify.

"Shut up," Seth ordered him, giving him a shove of authority.

Our other prisoner remained quiet as Holly kept him down. He must have been nervous, knowing there was little time left for him to be rescued.

The four of us kept our backs close, surveying the surrounding area in all directions. Holly held her flashlight secure but off. We'd found out earlier in the night having it on when not necessary only attracted the enemy to our exact hideout. Clint had disarmed our prisoners and was keeping their weapons safe. My radio was close at hand ready to call in for engagement confirmation.

Seth looked more intense than anyone. His sweaty hands gripped his gun tightly. While there was only thirty minutes remaining, we all new that meant we were in the greatest amount of danger yet. Our adversary would be making it's final attempt to take out all four stations. We had to survive.

I had begun the night as Delta Camp's Commander. For the most part we'd kept good order with little or no commotion. Still we'd been exceptionally prepared. Hearing the reports coming from the other teams had warned us we were in more danger than we'd anticipated when setting up camp.

We only had one infiltrator. He'd almost caught us off-guard, but fortunately, our gunner, Clay, had been quick on his feet and sharp with his aim. We'd captured him and had him sent to Base Command.

It was nearly 3:00 when my transfer took place. A Bravo team member was being sent off the grounds all together, leaving Bravo with only three rangers. Our Delta team, being the only who hosted five, was ordered a move. Brendan would take over as Commander and I was to wait for one Base Command's vehicles to transport me down the road and across the waters to my new location.

Upon my arrival, I was quite nervous. Previously, I may have been accompanied by two of the youngest members on duty that night, but Brendan and Clay had been mightily skilled and we'd preformed well together at Delta. Bravo welcomed me with two shivering campers next to the fire and the gunner wrapped warmly in a blanket as if ready for a bed time story. They were sitting ducks and I was about to join them.

Luckily things did not remain so dead-beat. I fired up the spirits of my new ranger allies and Holly welcomed me as Co-commander. But things outside of Bravo were darkening.

"Alpha has been compromised," came a voice over the radio. "It's a mess out here. They're down. The camp is down."

Fear shot through me. Holly, Clint, Seth and I passed looks of terror and confusion. We couldn't figure out what it meant. They'd been... compromised? What did it mean? How severe was it actually? How did it happen? There were so many questions being shouted back and forth.

"What's happened to Alpha? What's going on?" Brendan's voice from Delta transmitted the questions the rest of us were afraid to ask.

We all anxiously awaited the reply. Those were our friends, teammates. They were protecting the main entrance to the land. With them gone, anyone could pass in freely!

Static on the radio seized our attention. "You are on a need-to-know basis only," ordered the very strict in tone from Base Command.

The reply had shut out all hopes for an explanation or reassurance that everything was under control. Things were serious, whether we liked it or not, so we knew we had to get serious.

The one-way entrance to Bravo Camp was very much to our advantage. We set up an observation system with Holly and I shining our flashlights directly down the entrance path. Ten meters in front of us off to the side Seth stooped low behind Holly's jeep, gun in hand. The tent, which we'd all accepted would not be used this night, sat behind him with the fire on the other side. Clint was diligently keeping our light and heat source going.

The night was quiet and the chatter on the radios had died down as people had gotten tired and realized the severity of this operation.

It was the firewood delivery that did us in. Our supply running low, we'd called in a request for additional.

"I hope they come soon," Holly told me sitting on the cooler by my side as our flashlights shone brightly ahead. "Then we can relax for a bit."

The headlights from the white diesel truck coming down the lane relieved the four of us. It brought a sense of security to us all to see faces from Base Command to inform us of the status the other camps. Little did we realize we were more at risk then than anytime.

The delivery truck was ready to head out and make rounds to the other sites. Directing the driver's backing-up towards the jeep, I heard distinct movement in the shrubs behind me.

"Holly! Holly, get over here! I heard something... just, just watch my back."

She walked over quickly, but confused. Seth followed her, the gun ready.

"I don't know...," I said. "I think I heard..."

"Aaaah!" came the cry from behind as a heavy hand came down on my shoulder pulling me backward. I felt it more in my gut though as a fear seized me. He'd leaped from behind the jeep before Holly or I could do a thing about it. The split second after he'd done so, another masked man shot out from the shrubs I'd heard the movement in.

Failure consumed me as I realized what had happened. The pace of my heard hadn't slowed. Then we remembered we had Base Command there. The two men had infiltrated our camp, but not defeated it.

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