I ran to the improvised front gate falling in beside the guard kneeling there as he returned fire into the growing dusk. “Corporal! Sit-rep!” I asked as I knelt next to him and leveled my rifle out toward a group of vehicles at the farthest edge of the Wal-Mart parking lot.
“Not sure, sir. Guard duty was ’bout the same as every night then Stevens just goes down. Looked like he was shot the throat…” I didn’t need to ask who Stevens was. I could see the bodies outside the gate already bled out. I eased myself between the Corporal and the wall and raised my rifle, resting the forward part of the stock on my left arm using the scope to scan the vehicles. It was only about 150 yards away, but I couldn’t see faces only feet and the top of an occasional head.
I continued scanning for a few moments seeing occasional muzzle flashes from under the vehicles and hearing the reports of rifles with no idea where the rounds were landing. Even though I didn’t have a great shot to take, I did have a .300 Winchester Magnum and that made up for a good deal of the cover my targets were hiding behind at such a relatively close range. I was watching the furtive movements behind the vehicles when the Norns stepped up and began snipping threads.
The first kill was pure luck. I happened to be looking at one of the trucks as one of our unidentified OpFor ran between vehicles, leaving his head exposed for a second as he passed by the truck’s sliding rear window. I almost missed the shot but just then time slowed to a crawl. As soon as I saw the bill of the man’s ball cap enter the opening I squeezed the trigger and the man disappeared from sight.At the moment I couldn’t actually say I had hit the man, only that I had fired and seen him drop.
My next opportunity came when I saw a head using cover poorly. The top of another ball cap peaked out just behind a mirror of a big truck, the kind used for hauling horses. I squeezed the trigger gently and smiled a bit when I saw the hole appear in the mirror and the hat get ripped from the head it had been on.
Within moments the entirety of the camp had turned out and began taking up positions around and on top of the Wal-Mart building. The people on top of the building allowed us to set up almost in an enfilade-defilade position.
Without a word from anyone firing began en masse. If I had to guess I’d say this was just random shooting as I wasn’t seeing a lot of enemy bodies dropping given the amount of lead we were sending downrange.
The OpFor group was larger than I’d guessed .Their reinforcements began to move up on foot in small groups from the road that lead to the Wal-Mart. I knelt back down and began to pick them off as quickly as I could. I wasn’t exactly Gunny Hathcock out here, but I was dropping people as fast as I could work the bolt.
I dropped the expended magazine and yelled “Reloading!” though I’m not sure to who. Everyone was busy dishing out their own personal size servings of whoop-ass just then. I slammed a fresh magazine up into the mag well and gave it a tap just to be sure but for some reason it wouldn’t seat. I pulled the magazine out and gave it a quick shake and a tap against my leg trying to get the rounds to settle into the magazine then realized I must have shot up every round of the .300 Win Mag I had. The rest of it was back at the Jeep in bag I hadn’t been able to take with me because of my knee. The magazine I held in my hand was filled with .338 Lapua which was mostly useless to me just now.
I cursed and shoved the magazine into my pocket. I pulled out the BFR thinking at least I could shoot fairly accurate from kneeling. I had a target lined up and fired. The shot came nowhere near the target I had selected.I took aim again thinking I might be able to walk a shot in. I took a second to slow my breathing and make sure adrenaline wasn’t giving me a case of the shakes.
I focused on one truck I noticed sitting at the far edge of the parking lot. The truck looked familiar for some reason. It was the same truck I’d shot through the mirror to get at the tango that had been hiding there. I gave the truck a long look and was pretty sure I was looking at a black Ford F-450 with most of the front end torn off.
“Cease fire! Cease fire!” I stuck the BFR back in my belt as I walked up and down the row of soldiers and armed civilians nearest me calling out “Cease firing!” until eventually the word started spreading down the line and the rate of outgoing ordnance dropped to a crawl.
“Get someone up to the roof and tell them to stop shooting!” I grabbed a civilian near me and yelled an order I didn’t know if he was capable of carrying out, but I didn’t have time to do any hand holding. I started calling out for Starke who was a bit further down the line than I had walked.
Starke was taking the cease-fire call as an opportunity to deal with the M-16 he was carrying which had double fed on him in the midst of the fight. “Starke! I need you to go get everyone to stand down.”
Starke finally cleared the malfunction in his weapon before he agreed. “Sure thing. What’s going on?”
I winced slightly “I think I might have just shit the bed here. Just try and get everyone calmed down.”
Starke gave me a shrug and headed off to make sure everyone had the order. I began looking around for towel or t-shirt or anything large enough to serve as a white flag. I finally found a civilian who was wearing a dingy, sweat stained A-frame shirt and told him to surrender it or risk getting shot by the OpFor, or if they couldn’t be arsed, I’d find someone on this side to do it.
The man looked more than a little perplexed, but took off his shirt and handed it to me. I made a quick search for a broom or something I could use to keep the soiled garment away from my face. It’d be cool if I could use it as a flag pole too, but fire from the PLM was picking up speed and I had to give up the search.
With no firing coming from our side I walked back to the gate and stuck the shirt out giving it a wave. Firing from the other side must have hit a lull about then and I took it as a sign that my decision to sue for peace had been accepted.
I stepped out and waved the flag over my head and felt a weird tugging sensation in my abdomen. Awesome. I survive the firefight unharmed only to pull a muscle during the surrender.
I continued walking forward for a bit, waving the t-shirt over my head while hearing the occasional shot being let off. I was about a quarter of the way to the PLM’s improvised cover when I heard someone from their side yell out “Cease Fire!” I saw heads poke out over the hoods of cars. One of those heads belonged to General Leader and it began moving toward me.
He walked at a brisk pace. I was glad because I suddenly felt very tired. The muscle I had pulled felt like it was on fire. I put my hand on my abdomen to apply some pressure to the muscle and felt a warm, sticky substance there. My hand came away bloody and breathing suddenly seemed like chore.
I staggered a few steps as I tried to turn around before I fell to my knees.
I was surrounded pretty quickly by people from both sides. There was a tense stand-off going on out in the middle ground. Starke rushed out and began hauling me backward by the sleeve of my BDU shirt. Others from the MVDF camp were trying to help him while maintaining a defensive stance with the PLM.
“Starke!” I thought I yelled but apparently my voice wasn’t all that loud. “STARKE?!” I tried again this time grabbing his wrist with my free hand.
He wasn’t listening, instead focused on dragging me back to the camp. I had a brief surge, from adrenaline or some other substance I didn’t know. I managed to turn to the point where Starke had to drag me almost face first. I manage to get to my knees and fully grab his wrist. He finally stopped pulling for a second.
“They’re not enemies . . . ” Starke must have thought I was in shock as he started trying to drag me back once more. “Adam! Damn it!” Starke stopped again.
“What the fuck? What? What’s so important? You’re shot in the gut here how about you just hold off on the long meaningful conversation until you get patched up?!”
I ignored him and pointed to General Leader. “He’s the head of the PLM . . . not an enemy.” Fuck, why was it so hard to talk? The words coming out of me felt like cement blocks being mixed in my mouth and turning solid as I spoke. I suddenly felt weak, weaker than I could ever recall and was overwhelmed by nausea.
I noticed now there were bodies all over inside the camp. People were running around tending to the wounded. It was a scene of pure chaos, but I had to get through to Starke. “Truce . . . declare a truce. Go meet with them. . .”
“Yeah, fine! I’ll give him the fuckin’ keys to the city if you’ll just shut up and let me get you taken care of!”
I relented and things got really fuzzy. I heard Starke say “asshole” but if it was directed toward me I couldn’t tell. I couldn’t tell much of anything except that I seemed to be floating, no longer being dragged, but facing down, looking at the pavement moving below me as I floated along.