Introduction: In a sense there is a connection to this story and several other non-magic stories I’ve written. Two characters from Mike and Ashley show up briefly. They would be Mike and Ashley. This story, Like “Mike and Ashley”, “Discovery”, and “Cynthia and the Queen of Knight” takes its storyline from the work of someone else. In this case, a production by an Italian fellow named Joseph Green. The story is 16 chapters in length plus an epilogue. I’ve done as much tweaking as I can. Any errors are mine and I will gladly accept constructive criticism; as long as you’re nice.
Anita, never one to turn down a challenge, finds herself in The Horn of Africa leading a team that is tasked with slowing down Al Shabaab, a brutal radical faction. She very quickly proves how good she is as she is awarded the Army’s second highest recognition for valor. Anita is not particularly proud of what she did; however, most believe it was the right thing.-->
This work is copyrighted by the author and any publication or distribution without the written consent of the author is strictly prohibited. This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of the characters to persons living or dead is coincidental.
They spent the next day and a half burying the dead. Somehow two children, a boy and a girl had been missed. They had called in a chopper with some able bodies to help bury the dead. The two traumatized children were taken back to the main camp where hopefully they would be taken care of until they could find a place for them. The cattle and sheep, and based on their count, a number of female children had been taken by the attackers to an as yet unknown place. They would begin the tracking process as soon as they could.
The area had not been that particularly active over the last year, and most of the intelligence interest had been elsewhere. That didn’t mean that someone, or something, as this case may be, wasn’t watching.
“Jesus, I ain’t never seen anything like it, Captain, and I’ve seen a lot. They tied the elderly up and just blew their brains out. They just decapitated the men and boys. I hate to think of what’s happenin’ to the women and girls. They just buried the babies alive. What sort of people would do something like that?”
“Sarge, they’re not much different in many ways to many people back home. They have their set of dogma, and they repeat it often enough that they believe it even though it is against the very basics of the religion they grew up with. They call themselves Muslim, but they certainly aren’t. They aren’t much different than the folks back home who call themselves Christians, the ones who preach racism, misogyny, bigotry and subjugation of women. They could switch religions and you would hardly know the difference.”
“Colonel Leach said they’re on the run and that there are only a few isolated factions that are on the verge of defeat.”
“Pardon my French, Sarge, but the Colonel is full of shit. He’s just repeating what he was told to say. We leave this area tomorrow, and the same crap will be going on from here to eternity. The only way for this shit to be over is if the religious big wigs get some sense and take a stand for humanity. We can’t fight their religion. They will have to change from the inside. I don’t see it happening.”
“So this is a lost cause?”
“Maybe, maybe not; perhaps someone with enough charisma on both sides can pound some sense into the population. They’ll never change these murderous sons of bitches though. So I guess we’ll just have to kill them.”
Thankfully, even though real people hadn’t been paying much attention to the local intelligence, it was all on record. Someone a couple of levels above Anita started searching the recent archives. It was all there. The satellite imagery had it all. It wasn’t contiguous data, but there was enough that they could piece together what group had attacked the village and to where they had retreated. It was a rather simple matter to place the high altitude drones in ‘orbit’ over the area and start a continuous stream of data back to headquarters before forwarding it to Anita and her detachment.
Anita’s detachment was not the first to be given the assignment to ferret out the Al Shabaab terrorists, if terrorists was the right title for them. Mao called them guerillas. They were much better equipped than the guerillas of previous generations, and they had the advantage of superior reconnaissance; not nearly as good as the US Special Forces, though. Bill Hardy was considerably senior to Anita, and in fact had a line number for promotion to major. He and Anita had great respect for each other, and there was absolutely no professional rivalry or jealousy. They were first and foremost professional soldiers dedicated to the mission, whatever it was at the moment. As much as they had their personal beliefs and politics, that part of their lives had to be put aside.
Colonel Teitler was old school but he didn’t get to be a full colonel by being stupid, not that some who had reached that rank weren’t. The selection process wasn’t always perfect. He had three of his detachment commanders sitting around a table in the tent that was their headquarters at the moment. In spite of the heat, each was nursing a cup of GI coffee. It was 5:00 AM.
“I picked Captain Hardy to be in charge of this little operation because he is the most experienced. I don’t mean to take anything away from either of you, Captain Dillon or Captain Okoye, because you’re going to be mostly on your own, although I expect you to maintain close communications with each other and with the recon folks. Our imagery tells us there are about forty of the bad guys plus about the same number of women and young girls being held in these two larger tents,” he said pointing to the drone imagery taken the night before. “There are also about 50 non-combatants living around that little oasis,”
“As we know, they have their eyes in many places. So any activity on our part will probably be reported to them.
“Any retreat, if they decide to try will have to be either up this canyon or down the canyon. They cannot retreat to the east. That cliff won’t allow it. What I think is that we block their exits north and south, then attack from the west. We’ll have the drones in position, and they’ll soften them up at your direction.
“Any comments, so far?”
“Colonel, I think we should take out as many of their vehicles as we can. The drones can do that. I don’t think they’ll let any of their captives near the vehicles. I doubt if any of them can drive, as it is, but they might be worried that some might be able to.”
“What’s your point, Anita?”
“They won’t use the prisoners as human shields for the vehicles; however, I’m sure they will as soon as we begin to close in on them.
“Do we have anything more on who these murderers we’re chasing are?”
“The latest intelligence suggests that their leader is Osama Hammami, AKA Abu Mansoor al Amriki.”
“No shit, so that’s where the son-of-a-bitch disappeared to.”
“You know who he is?” Captain Hardy asked.
“Yeah, I know who he is. I went to school with him from the fifth grade through high school. He was one nasty ass hole who tried to make my life miserable because I was gay. He let up a little after I broke his nose. It was worth the suspension, but it cost me the valedictorian position. I lost track of him after high school, not that I was looking for him. He had a distant cousin who came over here a long time ago. He was moving up in the ranks, but stepped on too many toes. They took him out in 2013.
“So, he took his cousin’s name. That figures.”
“This is not your battle, Anita,” the Colonel said. “Don’t let your personal feelings get in the way of the mission.”
“As much as I would like to take him out, I won’t sacrifice the mission. That always comes first.” Anita’s thoughts weren’t exactly in line with her words.
The terrorists weren’t exactly caught off guard. Several caught sight of the incoming rockets and sounded the alarm seconds before the first rockets hit the six trucks. The thought was they would hit the tents that didn’t hold the prisoners; however, the latest images indicated that many of the prisoners had been moved into the tents holding the terrorists. So instead of selectively targeting the tents with guided bombs, they would just have to selectively target each of the enemy fighters. The odds had definitely a bit in favor of the enemy. Anita was not pleased at all about the shift in their advantage, if they even had one. Bill Hardy’s detachment took most of the return fire; however they incurred no casualties in the first few minutes of battle. Although one of the men received a nasty knife wound when he killed one of the sentries. They closed up the cut and he pressed on. He would wear the scar proudly.
One thing working in their favor was the terrain. Several small gullies ran between them and the camp, and the bottom of the wash afforded a bit of protection. Unfortunately, it afforded the same protection to the other side.
They had expected a nasty battle, and they weren’t disappointed. Technology was on their side, fortunately. The goal had been to save as many of the hostages as possible, but they all knew there would be losses even if things went their way, and even that wasn’t a sure thing. Their first break came when they managed to separate a fairly significant group of the enemy from the rest. Captain Hardy alerted the ‘watchers’ in the US and elsewhere. They launched an anti-personnel rocket that had a fairly short effective radius. It was basically like several well placed hand grenades. Ten men died and another 15 were taken out of action. Hammami had lost two thirds of his men in two seconds.
There was no question what would happen next. Hammami and his men resorted to human shields.
“Bob, Bill, Eddie, Elijah, do you think you can get to that little ridge?” Anita said as she pointed to a spot on the rise behind the camp to the east.
“Yes Ma’am, er, Captain. What do you want us to do?”
“Hammami is getting desperate. He will want to kill as many of the hostages he can before he loses the battle. If he does what I think he will, he will make a big display of killing them. I want you to take out as many of the enemy as you can.
“When Hammami knows it is a lost cause, he will try to make one last heroic statement. On my signal, I want you to take out the two men on either side of him without hitting the hostages. Do you think you can do that?”
“Yes, Ma’am. Head shots?”
“Preferably. I’ll signal when I want you to fire.”
Anita coordinated with Captain Hardy and Captain Dillon what her plan was. Captain Dillon thought they should just firing into the enemy and try to save whomever was left.
“That will be our objective if this doesn’t work. If we can save more hostages, it will be worth it.” Captain Hardy responded.
Dillon and Hardy’s detachments kept Hammami’s troops busy as Anita’s four snipers crawled their way to the small out crop that projected from the cliff behind the camp. They were soon in position.
Hammami did not disappoint them. He knew the game was up, and he had only one thing on his mind, and that was to spill as much blood as he could. By this time he was down to nine men from what they could tell. Four had retreated to the tents holding the prisoners, and under orders previously delivered, brought out their captives along with four more of Hammami’s men. Things did not look quite as good as they had a moments before. The forty or so prisoner would be decimated if they didn’t do something and do it quickly.
“Bill, I have do something, or we’re going to end up with just a lot of dead people. If they’re all dead, we lose. I am going to create a diversion. If it doesn’t work, try to save as many as you can.”
“Anita, are you out of your fucking mind?”
“Probably, but we have to try to put a stop to this shit.
“Bob, Bill, Eddie, Elijah, cover me. Hopefully, I will catch them off guard enough, so that they won’t know how to react. If they shoot me, just take out as many as you can.
Anita found a stick about two feet long that must have come from a tree up the wash. There were few trees as it was in this god forsaken land. She took a white handkerchief and tied it to the end of the stick. She stood and shouted in Arabic, “Hammami, you know this is a lost cause. Give up and let those women and children go. I can assure you that you and your men will be treated fairly. You don’t stand a chance.”
“You Americans are so brave. You fight us with weapons we can’t see. You are cowards. Not one of you is brave enough to face us man to man. Allah is on our side. He sees you as the cowards you are.”
“Hammami,” she said in English as she approached him, “you are the biggest coward of all. You hide behind these women and children. Then you blame us for their deaths. In your skewed brain you justify having us killing good Muslim people because it is “Allah’s” plan to rid the world of infidels. When in reality, all you want to do is rape women and children, and kill as many Americans you can for no reason than you are one sick mother fucker.”
“Who are you? You’re very brave to say such things with all your cowardly warriors hiding behind rocks and gullies and in the air where we can’t see them.”
“I’ll tell you what. I’ll fight you unarmed. If you can beat me, we’ll let you and your men go. If I win, you will be our prisoners. You will be treated fairly as prisoners of war. In either case, your prisoners go free.”
Hammami had been wondering who this foolish soldier was. He had to have been young as he spoke with the voice of a youth. Yet he wore the insignia of an American captain.
“Go back to your mother, child. This is a man’s war. You have no business here.”
“Osama Hammami, get rid of the phony Arabic accent. You’re as Jersey as I am. It’s just that I never picked that accent up. You wonder who I am. I’ll show you.”
Anita shed her protective vest and BDU shirt; leaving her in her BDU trousers and T-shirt. Her breasts suddenly became very evident. She wore an athletic bra, but there was no hiding her femininity. She stood quietly ten feet in front of her adversary with a smile across her face. It wasn’t a happy smile.
“Who the fuck are you? They are sending a woman to do a man’s work, not that a woman could ever do a man’s work.”
“Your memory isn’t very good, although it never really was. So, you never did anything about that broken nose of yours. What did you tell your men; that you broke it defending Allah’s honor?”
Hammami suddenly realized who she was. “I should have killed you when I had the chance.”
“That’s right, you should have killed me when you had the chance, not that you really did. I’ll tell you right now, you should give up before you lose face in front of all these witnesses.
“No weapons, just hand to hand.”
“Gladly, you muff diving bitch.”
“Okoye, he still has a knife,” Captain Hardy shouted.
Hammami lunged at Anita with the knife he’d produced from its hidden scabbard. She was not caught off guard. Other than being big, stupid and uncommonly brutal, Hammami didn’t have much going for him. It happened in a flash. The knife went flying, and Hammami was flat on his back nursing a severely sprained or broken wrist.
“Why you fucking whore, I am going to kill you.”
“You just tried and failed. Also, you should be speaking in Arabic so your men know exactly what you’re saying, what you’re going to do to me.”
Hammami struggled to his feet and faced Anita who hadn’t moved since planting him on the ground. He rushed her with the idea of crushing her. He probably outweighed her by fifty pounds.
Anita’s challenge had already accomplished its desired results. The men from the three detachments quietly moved in. It was all over but for the fight going on in the sand in front of them. Hammami was so enraged, he had no idea what had happened. His only objective was to kill the woman facing him. Once again, it was over in seconds. He was flat on his stomach and Anita had an unbreakable lock on his head and neck.
“Time to call it a day, Hammami, “Anita said in Arabic. “Your men have already given up. It’s time for you to do the same.”
“Never, you daughter of Satan. Kill me. You don’t have the guts.”
She broke his neck. “Go to your 77 virgins or whatever it is.” And after a brief pause, “I probably shouldn’t have done that.”
Anita walked back to her uniform and gear and donned them. She walked a few hundred feet away and looked at the setting sun. Then she returned to help with the wounded and burying the dead. The choppers would be there shortly.
A somewhat sanitized version of the activities that day went forward to higher headquarters. It had all been recorded; however, the higher ups decided not to release the recordings to the public. The final outcome was that Anita received the Army Cross. She wore the ribbon, but would never discuss it. It had not been her proudest moment.
Six months later, she was back at Fort Campbell.
Anita reminisces about what happened to her after she returned to Fort Campbell. She is taking a two day trip from Kentucky to Reston, Virginia, where she will be starting a new job. They aren’t all pleasant memories
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