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The Silent Service: Ohio Class
By H. Riker
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 H. Riker
All right reserved.
Tuesday, 27 May 2008
SEAL Team Detachment Echo
Near Bandar-e Charak, Iran
2204 hours Zulu
Lieutenant Christopher Wolfe dropped behind the illusory shelter of a boulder outcropping, scanning the ridge crest above and behind them, his H&K MP5SD at his shoulder. Through his night vision goggles the sky appeared as a pale, luminous green backdrop, the hillside as a black and rugged silhouette. No sign yet of--
Movement! A figure, dark green against the sky, emerged from behind the ridge, wearing a short-billed service cap and carrying an AK-47. Wolfe shifted the aim on his H&K; his NVGs revealed the otherwise invisible spot of red light marking his aim point, which he planted squarely on the target's center of mass. He tapped the trigger, and his sound-suppressed weapon gave a stuttering hiss, sending a quick-spaced three rounds into the target just as it emerged fully from the cover of the hilltop.
The target flopped backward, the AK flying end over end through the night.
"Echo One-one," Wolfe said, identifying himself over the Motorola strapped to his combat harness. The needle mike secured just in front of his lips transmitted every word to the other members of his squad, and to his far larger audience elsewhere."Contact! North ridge, bearing zero-zero-five. Tango down."
In Wolfe's specialized lexicon, tango could mean either terrorist or target. Usually, in his line of work, the two were synonymous; this time, though, he wasn't facing terrorists, but an enemy far more dangerous to him, his men, and his mission.
"Echo One-five," a voice said over the speaker in Wolfe's ear. One-five was Machinist's Mate First Class Danny French. "Multiple contacts, at two-eight-zero. Tango down! Correction, two tangos down!"
Tangos to the north, tangos to the west. The bastards were moving to cut the team off from the sea.
"Echo One! Fall back! Fall back!" Another target appeared on the north ridge, and Wolfe tapped him down. "On the double! Move!"
Chris Wolfe was a SEAL, a member of the elite naval commando unit deriving its acronymic name from the words Sea, Air, and Land, the elements within which the Teams routinely operated. From their first day of Basic Underwater Demolition School--BUD/S--SEALs were hammered with a particular piece of life-saving indoctrination: The water is your friend. When you're in trouble, get to the water.
SEAL Team Detachment Echo One was in very bad trouble now, but the sea was less than a mile away.
The question was whether they would be able to reach it in time.
Special Operations Watch Center
1704 hours EST
"Thank you for coming down, Captain," the intelligence analyst said. "We appear to be watching the proverbial shit hit the fan. Thought you would want to see. . . ."
Captain Thomas Garrett sized up the speaker in a glance--a small and wiry individual with a bushy mustache just barely regulation in its exuberance. The three gold stripes above the cuff of each sleeve identified him as a naval commander, a rank not usually given access to the deliberations held within such deep and clandestine electronic fortresses as this. The bulky eagle and trident pin on the breast of his uniform, however--his "Budweiser"--marked him as a Navy SEAL. His name was Carl Berkowitz, and he was one of the Navy's premier spooks in the ONI--the Office of Naval Intelligence.
"I do indeed, Commander," Garrett replied. "Thank you."
A dozen men and women sat at as many work stations around the basement communications center, with a dozen more high-ranking officers--admirals and captains, generals and colonels, most of them--watching over their shoulders. Several civilians were present as well, some in suits, some in shirtsleeves. Most of the audience's attention was focused on a single large display screen on the wall, a green-lit monochrome image of several men running down a steep hillside, viewed from high overhead.
"So what's going on?" Garrett asked. He'd known the op was going down tonight, but no details.
Berkowitz pointed at the monitor. "We're aborting. Two hours, seventeen minutes into the op. Damn it."
"Echo One ran into some unexpected opposition. We think it's Pasdaran. A Guards unit that moved into the area without our seeing it. Our people have been engaged in a fighting withdrawal back to the beach."
Garrett watched the scene unfold on the screen. The detail, even with infrared imaging, was startling. He could see the individual members of the SEAL unit designated Echo One working their way rapidly down the hillside, two men moving from one position of cover to the next while two more held their ground and covered their retreat, then switching off in a deadly game of leapfrog. But another four weren't playing. Garrett could see two men, each hauling another in a fireman's carry across their shoulders.
Two casualties. It could have been worse, he thought. Then he added to himself, But it might get a hell of a lot worse, too.
Voices crackled from speakers overhead, voices ragged with exhaustion and edged with stress.
"Okay! We're set! Move! Move! Move!"
"Echo One-one, Echo One-seven! Shooters! Shooters on the north ridge, more shooters on the crest to the west! We're taking fire!"
"One-seven, One-one! Never mind the shooters! Just keep moving!"
One of the technicians made an adjustment, and the image zoomed in on one of the SEALs. Though grainy and taken from an awkward angle overhead, the image clearly showed a man in combat vest and balaclava, wearing a night vision headset and carrying an H&K MP5SD submachine gun, the heavy length of its integral sound suppressor unmistakable. The man was crouched behind a boulder, loosing short, precisely controlled bursts of fire at an off-screen enemy. Garrett could see empty cartridges, aglow with heat, spinning clear of the weapon's receiver three at a time. The picture drifted, zoomed in and out, then pulled back to show a broader view once more.
"Good detail," Garrett observed. "Satellite?"
Excerpted from The Silent Service: Ohio Class by H. Riker Copyright © 2006 by H. Riker. Excerpted by permission.
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