I am an ex soldier and I spent time in the Middle East among the Kurds. I loved writing this story as I could tell part of my story.
From the author
A big thank you to all the folks who've followed the story faithfully and put comments in to help with it's development. For me it's been a huge and yet rewarding learning experience that I've loved every minute of.
Hope you enjoy the story.
Now where were they?
From the previous
‘Crack’ they froze, Sniffer’s coat was standing on end, his ‘hackles’ up, a low growl coming out, the noise they’d heard that had seemed to deafen them was just a twig breaking, but it had broken under a human foot, and it wasn’t one of theirs, that meant their pursuers were close, close enough to need to be a damn sight more careful than they were being, Sandy indicated it’d come from the left, to their south, and it wasn’t far away.
Both had full magazines, both could see the river about half a mile away, so near, yet so far. “Only one thing for it” Joey whispered into the mike, Sandy was amazed it was still working, “When I say run for the border and don’t stop for anything”
“What?” Sandy stopped and looked at Joey; she didn’t like what she was hearing.
“I’ll be right behind you” he reassured her, somehow it didn’t sound that way.
“No” she was emphatic in her reply, “If we go then we go together!”
“Sandy” Joey spoke softly, “I’ll be right behind you”
“After you’ve done the ‘John Wayne’ and taken out the bad guys right?” she asked pointedly, “It’s crazy, you’ve no flaming idea how many there are, and you want to effing bayonet charge them or something!” She stopped for a moment, cocked the AK and said, “If we do it we do it together! And don’t bloody argue!”
“Okay, but as soon as we’re through we run like shit for the border! Deal?” he held out his hand.
"Get ready to run for it!"
She took his hand but instead of shaking it she said “deal” then reached in and kissed him full on the lips, “that’s for luck” she said.
“I think there’s five or six of them,” Joey whispered, “we can’t take ‘em all, the idea is just to rattle them so we can get as far as possible before they open up” he shifted slightly, “as soon as you hear ‘em firing start weaving and running in a zig zag, but not predictable, got that?”
“I expect the Hind will show up when that starts happening, when it does you keep going, I’ll deal with it”
“With what?” she was about to ask, then she thought better of it, “I don’t want to know how!” was what came out.
Another crack told them the pursuers were getting closer, possibly only a few feet away, Joey gave Sniffer’s leash to Sandy, he’d recovered it when sniff attacked the last one, “Ready to get out of here boy?” he spoke to the dog, “You keep Sandy safe for me will you?”
The leash was a good long one, but for this Sandy would need to hold him on a short rein as they couldn’t afford for him to get hit by s stray bullet of theirs, she adjusted everything and nodded to Joey, they were ready.
They waited for the pursuers to show themselves, they didn’t have to wait long, one of them came out from behind a tree about ten feet away, he was met with a hail of bullets in a scything motion as they both sprang forward screaming at the top of their lungs, both of them emptied their magazines and reloaded before they reached the main group, then they ran as fast as they could.
The Hind was making another searching pass as they broke cover and ran for the border less than a few hundred yards away, Gregorovitch was screaming at the pilot to “Turn this heap of shit round” as the pilot banked hard, he didn’t see the two shadows low on the horizon following the river and closing fast, but they’d seen him.
Closing fast, but is it fast enough?
Still five miles out! too far?
“Hawkeye, this is Hood” the radio burst to life, Simpson pressed the mike, “Go ahead hood”
“Hood, we have the Hind on visual, looks like he’s busy searching, possibly engaging your friends”
“Roger Hood, are you in range yet?”
“Hood negative for the Hellfires, but the sidewinders are a different story, we’re still about seven miles away”
“Shit” it was Jacko that spoke, “They’re still what, five miles out? This’ll all be over by the time they get there!” he was highly frustrated.
Watch an Apache's view
One option left, and it's a long one!
Joey didn’t have time to think about what he was doing, the Hind was making another pass, Sandy had almost made it to the river, he had to buy her those extra few seconds no matter what happened to himself, he dropped to a kneeling position and flicked the weapon to ‘grenade launcher’ he had no idea whether what he was trying was going to work, but hell, he had to try something.
The Hind helicopter is five tons of flying armour almost all of which is forward and downward facing, even the most advanced anti armour weaponry just bounces off the armour, but there is one weak point. It just takes a hell of a lucky shot to get it with a grenade launcher that doesn’t have a great sight.
The Hind also carries eight fully armed soldiers in a rear bay, when the door is down they deploy out the back, when they’re out the door takes a minute to raise, Joey saw that the door hadn’t properly closed as it passed overhead, he broke cover to draw the helicopter off.
Sandy saw him run and almost stopped herself’ he was heading away from her, what they hell was he doing?
Just then the helicopter passed overhead and ‘opened up’ the 30mm canon ripping ground up every few inches.
Joey dived behind a rock just as the rounds got level with him, rolling and coming up he let fly with the grenade launcher, the first two bounced off the door of the helicopter, but the third found a crack between the door and the helicopter.
It went in, passing the door housing, past the armour plating and on into the pilot’s cockpit, found a solid surface in the instrument panel where it finally exploded engulfing the whole of the cockpit in a white hot heat, Joey saw the flames burst out of the cockpit windows just half a second before the fuel in the tanks burst into flames and a fireball thirty feet across sent bits of helicopter flying in all directions, part of the shrapnel came hurtling his way, he just managed to dive for cover as the main part of the helicopter came crashing down.
Sandy heard the explosion and stopped dead, she turned just in time to see Joey swaying and fall, “Joey NOOO!!!” she screamed as she turned and ran back, she skidded to a halt literally scooping his head up, he was barely conscious and in a bad way, “Don’t you sodding well dare die on me you arsehole” she screamed, tears rolling down her cheeks, she would have hated him for it if she’d had time to think, but everything was just going crazy.
“Guns are online boss” Jenny’s crewman spoke. “You or me?”
“Thanks Jimmy” Jenny replied, you fly the plane I’ll deal with the targets” she flicked a switch and her helmet display came to life, from now on everywhere she looked the Gatling canon would follow, all she’d have to do is press the button on the joystick. “Sidewinders are live, I have missile lock” she was speaking over the radio, then she saw the explosion, “Hawkeye this is Hood, the Hind just got taken down, and it wasn’t us, repeat it wasn’t us!”
Jimmy took the chopper down and increased the speed, the other chopper was following on their right, they saw the encounter with the Hind and were stunned when the Hind exploded, “Remind me never to argue with that guy!” Jenny said referring to Joey, she saw the soldiers on the ground still planning to press home the attack now he was down, she opened up on them with the Gatling, it was a one sided competition, the other chopper saw the other Hind and decided to send a message, they opened up with the Gatling canon, bullets ricocheting off the armour plating.
The other Hind got the message, two Longbows against one Hind were not good odds, so he turned tail and got the hell out of there!
“Hawkeye, this is hood, you’re clear to land” she called out as the Lynx came into view. They went straight to where the two were.
The Lynx didn’t have time to land before Jacko and Mac were out of the chopper, Mac took one look at the situation and threw open his medical bag, he began treating the wounds immediately, they looked pretty serious, but there was no way he was saying that.
“I don’t know Joey” he started, “A bit of a scratch and you’ve got the girls falling over you!” he started binding the wounds up using a couple of field dressings.
All Joey remembered was Sandy’s tears as he faded, he began a thought that it was nice to see before oblivion came knocking.
The Lynx came in low and fast, the pilot could see the Longbows, one was giving chase to the Hind, not engaging but making sure it stayed well away, the second was banking at the edge of the flat ground, ready to come back.
Small arms fire was coming from the right. "Gunner in the left, medic ready on the right" she ordered.
Smithy had the GPMG (General purpose machine gun, known by soldiers as the Gimpee) and mounted it in a stand, clipping it to the floor he fed the ammo belt in and slammed the housing down, cocking the lever, "ready" he shouted.
"Stand by" the pilot brought the chopper over the two figures, they could see one was down, but had no idea who.
The gun blasted the rocks where the fire had been coming from. Splinters flying everywhere, the Longbow had made its turn and was coming back to join in giving the suppression fire. The occasional shot was still coming from the rocks, but mostly the Russians were keeping their heads down or trying to get out of there.
Jacko and Mac didn't wait for them to land, as soon as they saw them underneath they jumped, Jacko almost landed on Sandy and took up a defensive kneel watching for any movement. Mac threw her aside "out the way lassie" he tried to be gentle but there was a bit too much urgency, "Let me work" his hands moved with lightening speed, finding out where Joey's wounds were and which was most important.
“Shrapnel in both the shoulder and abdomen” Mac began, “they’re the worst, the head wound’s just a nasty knock” Joey had a nasty gash above his right eye. “He’ll need surgery and a blood transfusion.” He looked up, “corporal, where’s those bloody field dressings I told you to get me?” two field dressings came flying out of the body of the Lynx, the crewman, a corporal also climbed out of the helicopter.
“Can we move him?”
“As soon as I’ve got these field dressings on” Mac didn’t even look up, he was busy unpacking the larger field dressing, he took the outer packaging and making sure it was still clean he applied the outer package to wound in his abdomen with the inside directly touching the skin, that way the sterile waterproof side stayed sterile, then as soon as that was on he took the bandage and began binding the dressing to the wound, there was shrapnel in the wound that he was careful around but he left it in the wound as that was a problem for the doctors at the nearest hospital, not for the Battlefield!
He kept the dressing tight so that would keep pressure on the wound and restrict the blood flow from the wound, he didn’t want to cut blood flow off totally, just restrict it so that there wasn’t a lot of flow, stemming it totally was a problem for the doctors too. Next he did the same to the shoulder, as soon as that was done he signalled the colonel and Sandy, “Let’s get him in the chopper” he shouted above the noise of the engines, “and get the hell out of here”
Smithy was still manning the machine gun, but resistance was almost non-existent now and they’d stopped firing, instead the Russians could be seen trying to retreat and get out of the line of fire, he’d stopped firing but was keeping a wary eye on them, the second Longbow was also back with them and both attack helicopters were doing the same.
“Let’s get the hell out of here” It was Jacko ordered the pilots, “Where’s the nearest hospital?”
“There’s a medical station on the base at Kirkuk” the pilot replied, “about a twenty minute flight”
They were just loading the unconscious Joey as a black shadow darted towards them; Jacko instinctively swivelled and raised the rifle.
"No" Sandy screamed as she lunged knocking the rifle just as Jacko pulled the trigger, the round went harmlessly wide, "The dog's with us" she shouted above the noise, an angry defiant look on her face that took on a sinister glow.
"What the hell?" Jacko didn't get chance to finish before she cut in again.
"That dog saved our lives twice in the last couple of hours!" She nodded in Sniffers direction. "So he comes with us, AND DON'T BLOODY ARGUE!" she calmed down a little, "His name's Sniffer, he's one of the dogs they were using to track us, the rest I’ll explain at the debriefing, but it will have to wait"
Sniff had jumped into the chopper and laid next to Joey, somehow he knew Mac was trying to help Joey, so he was letting him near, but he was barking like crazy out the door on the other side, clearly warning the Russians to stay away, not that they were considering anything else. Everyone else climbed in and they were away.
Aftermatth, a few weeks later
Sandy was nervous, and annoyed with herself for being so. She couldn't explain it and thought that people would laugh at her for it, but she felt like a teenager with a 'crush' and it annoyed her.
Yet at the same time she was beginning to enjoy the feeling, the feeling that someone had finally penetrated the armour she'd put around herself, she was annoyed that Joey probably had no idea just how much she was thinking of him.
Joey's injuries weren't as serious as they'd looked, Mac had been right about that, it turned out the most serious were the blow to the head and the leg where a piece of shrapnel narrowly missed the femoral artery.
It was the wounding that showed her she actually did care about this boy! He was a couple of years older than her, but there was something 'boyish' about him she hadn't figured out yet.
Joey wasn't much better, he’d liked Sandy from the start, but the last couple of weeks had been pretty intense, he knew it was the real her and not the masquerade he'd seen, but did she like him the same?
"She's way out of my league" had been his thought on more than one occasion, and he
couldn't get past the idea that she should be 'dating' some officer and not an 'average soldier' but there was another part of him that said. "Stuff the sodding rules, why can't we be an item?"
He'd just finished packing his stuff when there was a knock at the door, it began to open.
Joey was glad he was sitting down as Sandy entered, his stomach tightened and he was sure if he was standing he'd be weak at the knees seeing her. He struggled to his feet, almost falling over.
"You ready?" She spoke quietly; she had a beautiful soft accent he couldn't quite place.
Sandy was wearing a one piece sleeveless dress that came to just below the knees. The deep blue of the dress complimenting her deep red hair and giving her skin the appearance of pure alabaster, her sparkling blue eyes shone like diamonds, he opened his mouth to speak but no sound came out, he just nodded, then plucked up the courage. "Sandy" he began, "I need to say" that was as far as he got.
She took a step forward, held up her right index finger and gently pressed it to his lips. "I know what you're going to say?" She was quiet but firm, "here's my reply" and with that she stepped so they were toe to toe, their eyes locked, then she slowly reached out with both hands and took each of his hands in hers.
Gently she moved them so his hands were round her waist, then she let go and gently reached up, taking his face in her cupped hands she placed a long and sensitive kiss, pulling away she looked him in the eye, Joey was in a daze, "I know all the reasons why not" she said, "but I really don't care about them, this is what I want!" She stopped there and waited.
"But Sandy" he began, he didn't recognize his own voice, he was so nervous it was almost a whisper. "What will" was as far as he got.
"In case you forgot" Sandy interrupted, "You're not in the Army at the moment! So that 'fraternizing' rule can't apply can it?" She looked into his eyes; she could see his confusion dissolving into the mist. "Besides well never have secrets between us, will we?"
"We'll never need to" he replied, then stepping closer, his hands moved so he was no longer holding her but gently caressing, their faces almost touching he spoke softly, "then here's my reply" and he gently kissed her, a long lingering kiss that grew in intensity with every heartbeat.
From the Author
What a ride this series has been! I hope you've enjoyed reading the story as much as I've enjoyed writing it.
When I first started writing it I thought that the story would be a 'one off' but the more I've gotten involved in it and put it onto my screen for the world to see the more I've realized that there's so much more these people can tell us about their world and the things that go on there.
I'd love to hear from you and hear what you think of the story. Leave a comment.