Alpha, p.8
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       Alpha, p.8

           Daniel Schmidt

  Chapter 8

  Carlos kicked me awake.

  “The Prophet has spoken,” he simply said.

  I sat up, squinting from the light he suddenly turned on.

  “The Prophet?” I asked, having never heard this before.

  “The Prophet has spoken – it means we have a mission,” Carlos said pulling equipment out of our closet.

  My stomach sunk in at the word of a mission. I would have to tell Luke. Communication with him had been hard. I had been with the squad about two weeks and we were always together. We ate together, exercised together, trained together, and when we had free time we played football, video games, or cards together. I had only been able to call him twice and our conversations had been brief because I really had nothing to tell him. I was no closer to knowing where the kidnap victims were or if these guys were planning an attack.

  “What’s the mission?” I asked.

  “Sarg will brief us in a minute; just get your stuff ready.”

  I pulled my gear out of the closet, taking my time to ensure Carlos left the room before me. Once he did I pulled out my phone and sent a text message to Luke that we were going on a mission, whatever that meant.

  I felt a little conflicted as I pulled my gear together. I was becoming convinced these guys weren’t terrorists. They had not preached any ideology or hate to me. They did not speak ill of the government, all of them were former military, most of them were very patriotic, and it didn’t make sense. Their motives did not seem sinister, although tonight might prove otherwise. A knot formed in my stomach.

  I sent Luke another message stating I had no idea what we were doing or where we were going. He responded with, “Figure it out.”

  I walked downstairs and into the garage. David and Carlos were already there, and Walter was checking their gear. I stood next to them and Walter looked me over. He made sure I had my guns, radio, and bullets in all my magazines. He then did a radio check with me and seemed satisfied. Sergeant Barnes came into the garage a few minutes later carrying overhead photographs of a house. He spread them out on the hood of a truck and the squad gathered around, along with Christine who had no weapons but carried a medical backpack. He counted heads and then said, “The Prophet has spoken.”

  There was some cheering and Sergeant Barnes held up one of the photographs. It showed a house at the end of a cul-de-sac with woods to the rear. He pointed to one of the houses and identified that house as the target. He didn’t give us an address. He then held up another picture, which was a closeup of the house he had pointed at. He pointed to different sides on the house, identifying the front, back, and side doors.

  “Our mission is to make entry into this house, secure the package, and get it to the extraction point, same as always.”

  Sergeant Barnes paused for a moment and held up the photograph showing the cul-de-sac.

  “We’ll leave here and use forest service roads to come up behind the house, using the wood line for cover.” He pointed to the wooded area behind the houses. “We’ll stop about 600 meters out and I’ll set one team up on security around the house and come back for the rest of you. Once I return we’ll move up and the breach point will be at the back door, secondary will be the side door.” He held up the closeup picture and pointed to the two different doors. “Exit will be the back door and then back to the trucks.”

  Sergeant Barnes pointed at Walter. “Walter, your team will go in first and secure the package. The rest of the squad will come in right behind you. We will leave here in twenty minutes.” Sergeant Barnes then motioned to Christine.

  I had learned she was the squad medic. She spoke loudly for everyone to hear. “I’ll be with Sergeant Barnes. If you take a casualty, call it up over the radio and mark it with a red chemical light. I have one folding stretcher and my usual bag of goodies. Double check yourselves for tourniquets and remember to use them if you get hit.”

  Who were going after that we would have to fight our way in?

  Sergeant Barnes spoke again. “We’ll be on channel 7 tonight. Call signs remain the same. Challenge is ‘eagle’, password is ‘wagon.’ I say again challenge is ‘eagle’, password is ‘wagon.’”

  Sergeant Barnes looked at his watch and said, “I have 0132, we leave at 0152 hours. Any questions?”

  None was asked, although I had more than I could count. “Team leaders check your guys and get ready to go,” Sergeant Barnes said, followed by a clap of his hands.

  Walter slapped me on the shoulder and I followed him to the corner of the garage. There he handed me a breach kit. The breach kit pack held a big pair of lock cutters, a pry bar, and a battering ram. The backpack was very heavy with all three items – carrying it was the job of the new guy.

  “Don’t put it on ’til we get out of the trucks.” Walter pointed to a dark grey Chevy Tahoe. “You’ll sit behind the driver’s seat. Keep this pack on the seat next to you.” Walter looked over my gear again and had me brief what Sergeant Barnes had just told us to make sure I understood everything.

  “The important thing to remember is that challenge and password,” Walter said. “We don’t know what the package looks like, could be male, female, young, old, green, we don’t know. What we know is that when we yell out ‘eagle’, the package will respond with ‘wagon.’ If you come across anyone who doesn’t respond correctly, kill them.”

  The passwords struck me as odd. If someone knew these passwords, they were definitely expecting us. “Any Legion in the area?” I asked.

  “Probably, they always seem to show up. Another thing, if you see the Alpha don’t bother with a challenge, empty your magazine into him, and then reload and put another one into him. You remember what the Alpha looks like?” Walter asked.

  I ran my hand over the top of my head from ear to ear. “Crest across the helmet, like a Roman Centurion.”

  Walter nodded his head. “You’ll do fine, just don’t shoot anybody you’re not supposed too.”

  My team loaded up into the Tahoe, while the others loaded up into an older four-door truck and an SUV. Through my earpiece I heard Sergeant Barnes making radio checks with the team leaders. Carlos was driving our vehicle and Walter sat in the front passenger’s seat. David sat in the back with me, the heavy breach pack in between us. As we waited a new feeling of dread crept into me. I needed to find out who the Legion were. Carlos had said the Legion weren’t the government or the cops but who else could they be?

  As my mind raced, I thought of the day I would have to put these guys behind bars and I became sick to my stomach. The last few weeks had been fun, I had grown close to the rest of the squad, and I liked most of them. They had not tried to convert me to some ideology, they had not tried to brainwash me, I had seen no evidence that they were terrorists, and this made my job even harder. They just seemed like a good group of guys.

  In all my previous undercover gigs, it was so easy not to like the people around me because they were bad people. I wanted to put them behind bars. They laundered money, bought, sold, and used drugs, and scammed innocent people. They had no respect and no sense of duty, they stole, and they were usually dirty, horrible people. They were so easy to hate, and so easy to put behind bars, but this group was the exact opposite. I cursed under my breath.

  I was pulled out of my train of thought as Carlos accelerated out of the garage, following Sergeant Barnes’ vehicle. I looked behind and saw the other vehicles pull in close behind us. Sergeant Barnes led us down dirt roads, most of them in poor condition, for about an hour. We traveled without lights, and when we finally stopped, I heard his voice come over the radio telling us to kill the engines and dismount.

  I dragged the breach kit out with me, and then heaved it onto my back. The shoulder straps dug painfully into my shoulders as I found a tree to kneel down behind. David positioned himself nearby on my left; Carlos took up station on my right. Walter came up behind me and pointed out the other
teams as they took positions on the opposite side of the road. There was enough moonlight for us to see each other and I saw Sergeant Barnes disappear into the woods with the first team.

  I thought about pulling out my cell phone and trying to figure out where we were but decided against it. It would be hard to explain why I needed to use my cell phone right now.

  With the breach pack digging into my shoulders, it seemed like Sergeant Barnes was gone for an hour. In reality, he was probably gone twenty minutes. When he returned, he signaled for us to follow. Walter got right behind him, and then Carlos, David and then me. The rest of the squad filed in behind us. We made two columns and at nearly a run we went forward. After a hundred meters or so I could see lights through the trees.

  As we drew nearer to the lights, we slowed, taking our time and ensuring we didn’t make too much noise. Sergeant Barnes led us to a gate in a wooden privacy fence. A two-story house rose behind it. He pointed to the gate and gave us a thumbs up. Walter reached up and opened the gate. It swung in and he quickly moved through it, taking the left side. Carlos ran behind him and he went right, followed by David who went left. I followed and turned right. We spread out in a small yard and found no one. Walter signaled towards the back door. As we approached we closed in together until we were touching. Carlos felt the doorknob and found it was unlocked. He nodded to the rest of us, and then pushed the door open.

  Walter moved in, activating the light on his MP5. David followed, taking the opposite direction. I followed David, and Carlos was right behind me. We found ourselves in a dining room with a kitchen in front of us and a living room to our right. We quickly cleared the kitchen, and then moved on to the living room. The house was completely dark and we searched every corner with our lights. After the living room, we stopped at a hallway. Sergeant Barnes had followed us in with the rest of the squad and he directed them up a flight of stairs to clear the top floor. Once they reached the top of the stairs he motioned for us to continue. I found myself up front and stopped at the first door I came too. Walter stepped around me and quickly checked the door handle –

  it was unlocked and he threw the door open.

  As I went into the room I activated the light on my rifle. I went to my left and made sure I checked the corner before swinging my rifle and light towards the center of the room. As I did, I saw someone sitting on the edge of a bed. I yelled out “eagle” several times and the figure returned my challenge with the password “wagon.” She did this several times with her hands raised. The rest of the team had followed me in and their rifles and lights were all trained on the figure.

  The figure was a young woman, but that was all that I noticed because my attention was immediately drawn to her eyes. Her eyes were like nothing I had never seen. They were a bright and rich… purple. She stared straight at me, her purple colored eyes betraying no sign of fear. The woman repeated the password several more times and I kept staring at her, mesmerized by these purple eyes. I felt a hand push down on my rifle. It was Walter.

  Walter keyed his radio to tell Sergeant Barnes we had located the package. He then pointed to the one window in the bedroom and told me to cover it. I took one last look at the woman and then moved to the window. I brushed the curtains aside to view outside. I saw a dark street, illuminated by dim streetlights. Sergeant Barnes came into the room. The woman had not yet moved from her seat on the bed. Sergeant Barnes spoke to her in a hushed voice, and then he placed his hand on her shoulder. I looked back out at the street, and then back at the woman.

  Sergeant Barnes took out what looked like a large cell phone from his pocket and held it up to the woman’s face. He took pictures of both her eyes, and then looked down at the device. I guessed the device was able to analyze them much like a fingerprint. I had seen bigger more cumbersome ones used overseas to identify bad guys. After a couple of seconds Sergeant Barnes stood, keyed his radio, and said the package was secure and for us to get the hell out of there.

  I looked out the window again and a couple streetlights away I saw someone. My heart nearly jumped through my throat as I saw an unmistakable crest running across the top of the person’s head. I instinctively ducked so only the top of my head and rifle were exposed out the window. My heart, after seemingly jumping through my throat, now started slamming in my chest and fear surged through me as I stared at the figure several hundred feet away.

  It was the Alpha no doubt and it stood motionless under a streetlight. I saw the outline of a rifle slung on his right side, the crest running across his helmet, and the mask that covered his face became even more distinguishable as he turned his head to the side and then quickly turned back to look in my direction. I knew I had been told to shoot on site but he was pretty far away to make a good shot with the silenced MP5, at least that’s what I told myself. In truth I knew I would have to answer for anyone I killed and I really didn’t want to do that. Then I changed my mind, knowing if I didn’t shoot it would cause the squad to doubt me, something that could be even more dangerous. I took aim at the ground next to the Alpha, fired off several rounds and then yelled.

  “I got an Alpha down the street, one hundred meters!” I fired several more rounds, glass spilling down onto my arms and chest.

  Walter rushed over to me and I pointed. The Alpha still stood motionless under the streetlight. What was he doing? Why would he expose himself like that? I saw the Alpha point towards the house we were in and armed men ran across the road in front of him. Since I was crouched, Walter was able to stand above me and he started firing at the Alpha. I fired several more rounds, but the Alpha did not move.

  Barnes yelled at us to move. Walter pulled me away from the window, fired several more rounds, and then pointed to the door. Walter came over the radio, informing everyone where we had seen the Alpha. As I passed the woman on the bed, I looked down at her and my eyes met hers again. His bright purple eyes struck me again. I passed her and moved out the door.

  There was a sense of fear now that everyone knew the Alpha was in the area. I led the team, along with Sergeant Barnes and the woman with the purple eyes, to the back door. We waited for the other team to exit first and then we followed. We sprinted towards the woods and Sergeant Barnes told everyone else to move back to the vehicles. The team that had been outside came over the radio and said they had fired on the Alpha and it disappeared behind a house across the street.

  I heard several men cuss around me. We stopped a hundred meters into the woods. My team formed a protective circle around Sergeant Barnes, Christine, and the new woman, who had not even had time to put on shoes. Our outside guys came crashing through the woods and linked up with us. They were out of breath and I could detect fear in their voices.

  Sergeant Barnes then had the teams alternate running towards the vehicles while the other faced the houses to discourage any pursuers. My team stayed with the woman with the purple eyes. As we neared the vehicles, Sergeant Barnes pulled out the device he had used to take pictures of the woman’s eyes. He pushed a couple buttons, and then told our team that we had a pickup location.

  Once back at the vehicles, we quickly sped off, the woman with the purple eyes going in Sergeant Barnes’s vehicle. Each of us rolled down our windows and Walter had us pull out the M4 assault rifles from the back. I passed Walter his and then took mine, checking to make sure a round was in the chamber before I stuck the barrel out the window. I got the sense that this was far from over.

  We careened through the woods, without lights, towards an unknown pickup location. We had to double back several times and it was nearly an hour and a half before we came screeching to a halt near an open field. Sergeant Barnes yelled over the radio for our team to cover the far side. We threw open our doors and Walter led us into the tree line and we sprinted to the other side of the open area.

  Once there, we spread out, facing away from the open field. I still had my M4 assault rifle and f
elt much more comfortable with it – its bullet would reach much farther and had a much greater punch. If the Alpha came, the more powerful bullet would take him down, if it had to come to that. I hoped it didn’t. I knew why the Alpha didn’t go down when I shot at him – I missed on purpose but wondered about Walter. He had shot at the Alpha too, but it didn’t budge. I guessed the silencing effect of our MP5s slowed the bullets down, meaning we either couldn’t reach the Alpha we had been shooting at, or it had thrown off the aim.

  It wasn’t long before I heard several helicopters overhead. They quickly descended into the open field behind us and were gone soon after. Sergeant Barnes came over the radio and told us the package was delivered and we sprinted back to the trucks. We once again raced off and I could still sense fear in the voices over the radio and the tense conversation in the truck, all of which centered on the Alpha.

  This was all too unexpected; there were things Luke was not telling me or things he didn’t know. What was happening didn’t make any sense. Women with purple eyes, men with crests running across the top of their heads – none of it made sense and I knew I would have a lot of questions the next time I talked to him.

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