When the DOGs hit a target, we do not fuck around. We aim to fuck you up.
As my initial fanatic fell with my bullet leaving an escape route for his little-used brain, Han popped the skull of another. Cabel, Landra and Phteven triggered their launchers at the same instant.
Where Landra and Phteven's 40mm grenades were significant, peppering men with clouds of high velocity shrapnel that slashed veins and arteries, Cabel's thermobaric warhead really went off with the typical thunderclap you expect from bigger bombs. Limbs were literally shorn from torsos.
While our grenadiers reloaded, Han and I engaged more targets with our SVDs, sweeping for people who either showed signs of adept calm in the face of a lightning artillery attack or who sought to form an anchor of leadership in response to our lightning strike. M203s and RPGs don't reload as fast as they do when you have a film editor on your side, and without a propane jet, they don't bloom into magnificent fireballs on the silver screen. What they do, in reality, is erupt in a burst of smoke and pulverized concrete or dirt, and release splinters of steel that cut through ballistic nylon and into skin and muscle.
The gore is not always external, mostly churned up under the punctured skin, and usually only when you're about five yards from a 40mm shell, ten for a thermobaric detonation from an RPG. This was the kind of stuff that made for evening of the odds. Even so, Cabel and the others continued their intensive hammering, a wave of artillery that had wrought panic and confusion as well as lifeless bodies. By the time was done with my second SVD magazine, the RPG had, including the opening volley, spoken four thunderbolt words in its uniquely authoritative voice. Phteven and Landra had, between them, emptied a dozen HEAT rounds into the compound. There was still a lot of space where targets were merely wounded, and so far only twenty visible DASH gunmen had been ravaged by shrapnel.
Wounded DASHers screamed out in ragged, wet wails, thanks to tattered lungs or faces. Killing the truly evil always brought me extreme satisfaction, but the process itself is ugly and grisly, the same sort of mess that makes watching sausage packing a turn-off to fine wursts and other delicacies. Blood and gore and the stink of spilled organs, combined with the cacophany of suffering wails could still bring an edge of disgust to my heart.
That disgust was replaced with the image of a 12 year-old Pashtun villager who was made into a sexy toy for an uncountable number of DASH troopers, all of whom giggled and cackled with glee, even after her arms hung from her shoulders like limp noodles, and her purple and swollen face no longer flinched from the pain inflicted upon her. My stomach churned inside of me, bile working its way to the back of my throat, and I was back to giving zero fucks about how badly the fanatics suffered. Their cries and sobs became a balm to the searing heat that twisted in my minds eye as the poor girl's corpse was turned into a toilet for these sniveling scum.
I also stopped going for head shots. Destroying their brains ended their suffering, while a shattered pelvis or an obliterated abdomen meant they were too hurt to continue fighting. If they still could lift a gun, I aimed for collar bones and shoulders, high on the body, making their trigger fingers useless.
It was about this time that I noticed Han shooting cleanup for me. My victims only got a small taste of suffering and torture before his precision marksmanship sliced through their brainstems and ended their existence in this world.
As soon as the mad minute ended with the high explosives, Cabel transitioned to his Pakistani issued FN P90 - a nice little submachine gun holding fifty rounds of bullets only about 2/3's of the length and velocity of a standard M-4 rifle. For him, it was enough to wade down into the melee. Landra merely needed to change her grip on her own Pak rifle to engage in close quarter mayhem.
I maintained my elevated position over the compound, dropping big Russian thirties into faces and chests now that my ire had lessened. Anyone whose gaze wandered toward the gate which my team approached took one hot pill ending their threat.
Of the nearly fifty outside in the courtyard that my squad observed, about half of them were already down, leaking from fatal wounds and no longer doing so much as twitching. Another dozen sported non-mortal, but fight stopping wounds, and the remainder sprayed their AK-47's and M-4 carbines high and wide, muzzle flashes making themselves fine targets.
That was the weakness of a lot of jyhadists. They believed that Allah would guide their bullets on target, if not their own macho force of will. Having a full magazine of 30 rounds reinforced the illusion that blazing away from the hip was somehow effective.
This egotistical pride wouldn't let them clamp the weapons to their shoulder and stabilize against recoil, minimizing spread while firing on full-auto. To them, iron sights or optics were crutches.
Meanwhile, Han and I, firing one bullet per trigger pull, hit what we aimed at about two shots out of three as our targets scrambled for cover.
Pheve closed in from his side entrance, equally under Han's overwatch. Though his and Landra's rifles were both capable of full-auto, they pulled the trigger once for each bullet dispatched. Even with this, neither left their target with less than two high velocity pills burning inside their organs. At ranges under 100 yards, the 5.56mm NATO round could cut through many forms of body armor like a butcher knife through cardboard. On entering the fluid mass of the human torso, those .22's would somersault, ass over teakettle, tearing apart flesh in their wake like a blunt-bladed circular saw. The wound tracks were nothing less than horrific.
The P90 which Cabel, Han and I chose for a lightweight backup to our heavier main guns behaved similarly, but with a third smaller charge and mass. Even so, the bullets moved at 2000 feet per second, and in the little FN, spat out at 800 rounds per minute. For fifty round magazines, that was enough of a match in close quarters with demonstrably less recoil than the M-4 on full-auto.
Off in the distance, I heard Phteven take on a particularly troublesome target with his grenade launcher. How did I know it was troublesome? Because if you, as an experienced soldier, can't solve it with a controlled pair from a carbine, and you opt for High Explosive Anti-Personnel, you know it's a pain in your nethers. The packet of ka-boom went into one Quonset window and the rusted old structure seemed to take a deep breath before all of its windows shattered. Dazed and bloody men staggered out of its main doors, where Han and I split the new choice of targets. These DASHers were in the middle of getting dressed, some in their underpants and holding an AK, others with their shirts half buttoned and dangling off of shrapnel bloodied chests.
They were slow, easy targets, but if we'd given them the chance, they'd recover their wits and shoot any enemies in sight. Each buck against my shoulder was another coffin lid slammed in repayment for a little girl lost. There'd never be enough of these maniacs to be worth one young life ruined, let alone the trail horror they smeared across the Hindu Kush in blood, tears and semen. But every one I killed here was another life that would be untouched by their vile predation. Boys and girls would grow up in a world where rape and torture was not their "contribution" to the jyhad.
They lumbered like zombies until the marksmanship of two Marine riflemen took the walking out of the walking dead.
Cabel paused long enough to smash a group huddled at the base of the DASH dish. While the RPG-7 warhead didn't do much to the steel structure keeping it erect, the underside of the curved surface provided the shrapnel plenty of ways to bounce. Fanatical gunman wailed from high velocity metal, at least until Landra popped anyone still standing with controlled pairs from her M-4. Anyone else who menaced my fireteam was split open by the impact of one of my big Russian thirties. I bought Cabel and Landra moments to reload their guns both large and small.
Cabel then turned his attention to a Quonset. The shell sizzled through the front door, and rusted metal swelled as if it had inhaled, then shrunk under the violent forces of a thermobaric detonation. Eroded holes in the metal shell ruptured and spewed blazing hot gasses. DASH troops near those sudden vents of volcanic heat barely had a chance to howl before the vast temperatures seared their lungs into useless, shriveled sacks.
If your crimes bring the DOGs upon your misbegotten head, we'll bring the flames of Hell before we punch your tickets. If there's nothing on the other side, well, at least we gave you a taste of what you truly deserved. If there is a place where your damned soul resides, give Old Scratch my regards.
Cabel was right, at the rate this battle went, we'd need battlefield pickups to keep in the fight. My SVD was nearly depleted of ammunition, which was just as well. I hadn't developed an attachment yet to the big rifle, and it was twice the length of my little FN submachine gun, and a foot longer than an AK or an M-4 with their abbreviated 14-16 inch barrels. The big Russian warhorse was not suited for close work.
I liked the FN, not because it was two feet long, buttstock to muzzle, or held fifty rounds, but because it was a bullpup that ejected straight downwards. As a southpaw, it's hard to get a really compact fighting rifle that doesn't have a castrated barrel, like the M-4. My favorite, the old AUG from Steyr could give me a full twenty inch barrel in only two and a half feet of gun. But I had to decide which shoulder you would fire it from and set up the ejection port for that shoulder only, otherwise I'd get some hot brass upside my cheek.
I put the FN to work. Landra and Cabel gave me covering fire, but I still used my height advantage to good effect, triggering bursts in order to encourage DASH heads to stay down. I finally slipped through the ragged gates. Together with my fireteam, we dug deeper into the ex-Soviet Base.
We laid out a storm of fire amidst all of the enemy chaos. Be it from grenades-shattered ear drums or shrapnel wounds, or just their stubborn insistence on shooting from the hip, they fired just to make noise while we aimed down sights and peppered every face that showed itself in the vicinity of a firearm. No DASH member would walk out of this hell hole unless they played dead for a few days, then crawled out of the Hindu Kush on their belly. It might sound racist, but not a single male Arabic face would remain untouched. DASH was racist in their policy of who they allowed in, so there were no Persians/Iranians in the group, and it was rare to see Pashtun locals who abandoned their tribesmen to associate with these maniacs.
DASH also showed no mercy to any of their victims, male or female, young or old, Muslim or Infidel. They raped, murdered, tortured and left vast swaths of nations in terror due to their fanaticism.
Thus, any adult male with a gun who was not immediate family - read that as one of the DOGs - was sentenced to death.
Yes, the Constitution and Bill of Rights guarantee freedom from guilt by association, but here in the mountains of the blurry border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, even in this remote location, the members of DASH knew who they allied with, and were incontrovertibly complacent in their crimes against humanity.
That death sentence was delivered swiftly, and I personally didn't golf a foxtrot if some of my targets were left alive and groaning, which also violated the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.
Somewhere in the chaos and mayhem, Cabel had located his favorite Soviet-style light machine gun, the drum fed RPD. Now, my mountain of Viking redneck was a full on volcano. Instead of lava flows and pyroclastic clouds, he erupted with controlled, short bursts of 7.62mm x 39mm COMBLOC fed from a 100 round belt contained in a snail-shell shaped drum. He'd also located a sack of such drums, and he wore it around his neck like an amulet, but even with hundreds of rounds on hand, Cabel remained conservative with the firepower he had on hand. Two-, three- or four-round bursts slashed into his targets, not the long, sloppy sprays from the hip you see so often in movies. No, Cabel folded himself down over he sights of the gun, stabilized the stock to his shoulder and held on with both hands. He would not waste a single round if he could help it.
Landra punched out another 40mm shell and the thunderclap of its detonation floored a group of DASH gunners that had attempted to flank us. Two of the killers died instantly, and others fell, slashed bloody, faces tattered by shrapnel as sharp as razor blades. Some died quickly, and others screams in pain. Landra left them to their howls as more aggressive opposition surged into view.
I knew she wouldn't get back to them, but I saw one with enough arm strength left to reach for a handgun. My P90 had already run dry by this time, so I went to another loaded gun. My Pakistani-origin Beretta 92 seemed to hop into my hand on the fast draw. Remember back when I said I am all about that Beretta life? This is why. The Beretta is fairly light, not heavy on the hip, but it feels good and weighty in the hand. 9mm rounds barely register as recoil for me, and this ensured a tight, controlled pair on the one who reached for his gun. The crisp single action was so smooth, it was really no more effort to tap out four more shots to pop two other wounded guys.
Whoops, I guess I do possess a few fucks about shredded masses of fanatical hamburger.
Or, maybe I just hated to hear the squeals of agony they bleated.
Gunfire rattled toward me, and once again, I was glad for the cultural egotism that lead to sloppy shooting habits. I was safe from hot bullets in my guts, but rounds plucked my pant leg. I didn't have time to reload my P90, so just kept doing work with the Beretta. Controlled pairs popped into each of the three shooters who'd rushed me. They stopped firing, but because they didn't fall fast enough, I ripped off another half dozen rounds. With a 17 round magazine and one in the pipe, I'd accounted for eighteen shots, all on target, but now the Beretta sat in my hand empty.
The P90, with its oddly mounted magazine, takes a little over three seconds to eject and load a new one in optimal conditions. Standing in the middle of a blazing firefight, that wasn't time I could afford. My training and familiarity with the Beretta, however, let me instinctively rip out a spare mag for it from my holster pouch. I stabbed the magazine release with my index finger to remove the empty box, gravity slipping it past the rising reload aimed right at the empty hole it once filled.
Seventeen more shots for the Beretta, and a trip of the slide release brings the gun out of battery, and feeds the top round in the magazine into the breech. All of this is done in a shade under a second.
Just in time, I saw a frantic figure escorted by a group of smaller men. This guy was not dressed for battle, and his guards weren't wrapped in Afghan wool and battle harnesses, but black BDU's and heavy vests. A bunch of folks, neither DOG nor DASH, drew my attention as they rushed to the shelter of the main concrete blockhouse. They sought the protection of thick walls and steel doors.
"HAVIT!" I bellowed, temporarily forgetting that I was in hands free radio contact with my team. Havit was shorthand for "High Value Target" and is a hell of a lot faster to say than HVT. It let them know that I broke formation to pursue.
The oddball's guards had ushered him into the blockhouse, and one remained behind to pull the heavy armored hatch shut. My Beretta and I ended his use as anything other than a doorstop. His torso landed to keep the door ajar, his face on the ground in a growing puddle of crimson and spongy mass.
Another heard his teammate fall and turned to engage me. His eyes were on me, but he was still in the process of bringing the muzzle of his weapon to bear as the rest of his body followed his gaze. I put two pills through his face too, and he crashed down to his back. I crawled over the two corpses and into the old communication base. One more gunman was visible at the end of a corridor, and he opened fire. Even though I moved quickly through the fatal funnel of the doorway, his bullets struck the steel hatch, shattered, and bounced off of my head and neck.
Needless to say, the moment I felt impacts, I dropped to my belly and played dead. Blood flowed from where bullet fragments struck.
My ear hurt like hell, and I found out it was because of a petal of copper jacket stuck through the cartilage. I found more splinters of lead and twisted jacket all along my neck and shoulder. They were blunt, but they struck with sufficient force to cut through Afghan wool and into my skin. The petal came out of my left ear, not without an inspired stream of tears down my cheeks, but the shallow lacerations on my back seeped thin blood. I also had full range of motion with my left arm, so I'd live. I also had a half dozen new souvenirs of my visit to the 'Stan.
I also had enough time to reload my hungry, empty SMG, and topped off my Beretta.
Finally on my feet once more, I took a look at the corpses of the bodyguards in their wannabe SWAT uniforms. My Beretta didn't leave much of their faces to identify right now, but I had my digital camera with me. The blood could be cleaned off in photoshop for better facial recognition. I also plucked a couple of plastic storage bags from a pocket. My tomahawk gave me the right index fingers and thumbs of both gunmen in hopes that they would show up on an AFIS search. Each bag kept the fingers segregated from the other man's. It would also work to store some DNA just in case.
Criss-crossed with nicks and cuts from gunfire and shrapnel, and with bruises up and down my legs and ass from skidding down a slope, I was less than 100% for a solo hard pursuit. However, I could still put one foot in front of the other, and my aim didn't look to be off or my grip trembly. The sore thumb sticking out in the middle of nowhere spurred me on. Men in black and a guy in a business suit jangled my Spidey senses to no end, so I rolled out in hot pursuit, balls out to pick up on him.
A pocket full of digital photos and human fingers might give me some handle on who the oddball was, but the man himself would be a much more illuminating target, especially since the guys in black were hired professionals. The guy who'd taken shots at me and bounced shrapnel into my neck was a clue to that. The fragmented bullets were a big clue. Most of these terrorists out here get cheap mil-spec FMJ ammunition, the kind of shit available off the back of Russian and Chinese army trucks disappearing from inventory. The gunman who'd popped off at me used hollowpoints, which shatter on contact with steel, but when you smack a guy in an unarmored part of his body, they tear bigger, nastier wounds inside flesh and bone. Pros like that level of "stopping power" edge, because bullets that don't deform leave small, neat holes as elastic flesh puckers back, even in the wake of a .45 caliber slug.
But that was for pistols and submachine guns. Meaning these bodyguards aren't packing heavier, which is bloody stupid for a visit to a mountain region.
The suit himself stunk of money, and not legit cash either. His wealth came straight from the sewers, either from dope or human trafficking pipelines, or worse. It didn't escape my notice that the camera we found with the DASH patrol was a brand-new high definition professional grade model.
New video equipment for a rape and intimidation patrol and these strangers here meant that someone other than DASH profited from live gang-bangs and murders. Sure, the thugs who do it get the monstrous pleasure of destroying a young girl against her will, but the deep web price of $8000 per video and the number of perverts who take advantage of it added up to suit-boy and his rent-a-SWAT team as representatives of the distributors.
He felt that was to me, and just the sight of him turned his sick vibes into spiders crawling up and down my arms.
I'm no psychic, but I've been a DOG for a decade and both a Marine scout and a Chicago cop before that. Years of investigations and operations helped me string the facts together. You simply do not climb into the Hindu Kush without a desperate need for big money. There were few products here worth a bullet in the brain and bones picked over by vultures. Goats and their wool made for comfortable clothing, but this bum wasn't Tommy Hill-fucker. Poppy fields stretched all across Afghanistan and the opiates within could be picked up in the larger cities with Pashtun in-betweeners.
Picking up your very own army of terrorists in Afghanistan itself was idiotic. All you had to do was to visit a city with major slums and a population of broke, hopeless young men. That's how the Crips and Bloods could assemble armies in the hundreds of thousands from LA to New York.
No, these guys showed up in the asshole of the planet with brand new camera equipment, and not a single one of the DASH troopers paid attention to their retreat. People do not come here with guns without a nefarious purpose. I mean, fuck, the DOGs and I were here in a wholly illegal incursion into a sovreign nation with intent to murder "citizens," not just Afghan, but Pakistani supporters.
Hanging out with DASH terrorists was the shit icing on an enormous stinking turd cake. I had plenty of questions, and to get my answers, I had to smash my path through the remnants of his rental army.
The gunman who'd fired at me, peppering my hide with bullet fragments was back ahead of me. He fired again. He cut loose with what sounded like a pistol-caliber submachine gun by the sound of it. His burst was short and focused, and sizzled through air I'd occupied only fractions of a second earlier. I dove barely ahead of his attack, and from the way he recovered from the recoil of his first salvo, I knew he was a professional. This time, however, I went to my belly with my P90 extended in front of me, firing before he could. In my haste, I mashed the trigger, and five-seven vomited out of the barrel at 900 rounds per minute, give or take a few, and the gunfire went on for far longer than a professional's return fire should have. I was in a hurry, because this guy was fast. The spray was sloppy and unfocused, but luckily for me, enough of them crashed into his knees and shins to drop him to the floor. He crashed and lost control of his gun, his face smacking the floor we now shared.
I pulled the trigger again and watched the lower third of his face disappear, this burst tighter and much more controlled. He ate my bullets, but they must not have agreed with him, as his arms flailed and clawed at the tiles. Blood puked through shattered lips, clogging any attempt to scream. I'd likely missed his brains and spine, but my swarm of five-seven had cut through into his lungs. Any attempt to speak would be useless as air sacs are deflated by hydrostatic pressure, and brachial arteries flooded the inside of his rib cage.
That kind of death was not pretty at all.
Hell, most of the death I've dished out is ugly and nasty, not the clean, clinical bullshit you see on TV. At least I had a chance to stop his spastic gropes, my last burst turning the top of his skull into a pop-open hatch.
I stayed low, crawling on my knees to see if there was anything of salvage to identify the goon I'd just killed, but all the bullets I'd punched into his face didn't leave anything identifiable. Even dental records were shot as his lower jaw had exploded, many of his teeth cracked out of place.
I heard a stream of uninteligible hatred spew from the lips of another pseudo-SWAT moments before I reflexively threw myself up against a wall, still prone. Bullets smashed the tiles where I'd laid, and I hit the wall with a grunt. Some piece of kit banged right into my lower spine and kidney hard, and reflex once more took over. The P90 splashed the last of its load in the direction of my enemy, and I suddenly wondered if my assessment of my shooting skills was still valid.
This was the second time in about four minutes that I was stuck with an empty gun in my paws, which was about as good a paperweight as any, but not much more than that. As it was hooked onto a sling, it wasn't even good to throw at someone as distraction.
One advantage I had was that the twenty or so I'd ripped off sent the last gunman into retreat. I swung the P90 around my back on its sling and dropped back down to my Beretta. This will teach me to go with something easier and faster to reload, like an Uzi or a Brugger and Thomet or an M-16 platform.
In the end, it doesn't really matter how someone trying to kill me dies, but it's a damned inconvenience. A couple of more bullets got real close to my center mass, my thigh searing hot as a bullet goes through and through the outside, and my ribs jangled as my harness' Kevlar vest component turns a thoracic wound into a nasty fucking bruise. I have no breath in my lungs from that hit or hits, but the Beretta 92 is an extension of my left arm.
My foe takes three rapid fire to his chest, and his black SWAT armor saves him for a moment. I let my aim rise, and my fourth shot slashes across the corner of his jaw, just under his ear. The guy snarls and twists away from me.
He puts another burst out, and I take two more in my chest, this time a trauma plate neutralizing the impacts even better and much less painfully. I pushed my gun's muzzle down and hammered him in the groin and thighs, firing the handgun so fast, my finger got tired and a small pile of brass formed before rolling flat. Deprived of his legs, he still managed to catch himself on one forearm, all the while, he fired his weapon with his free hand. Granted, his aim was shit, which only hurt me more as my right arm stung from another "near miss" that split skin.
I got tired of this bullshit with him and ripped my tomahawk from its sheath. Kevlar is great at dispersing the force of a bullet impact, but against a chopping edge moving at around seventy miles an hour, it was just cloth. The head wedged into his shoulder where it met the neck, and only contact with spinal bone stopped its advance. I ripped the hawk free, and ended up in a shower of bright arterial blood. He was fucked good and royal, but I brought the tomahawk down once more, crushing his collar bone as I put all of my weight into it. He was done, and I looked down at a face which, while splashed all crimson, didn't have any bullet holes in the middle.
I pulled my digital camera once more, recorded that dead mug, and looked at what he had. I hadn't used all the ammo for my FN yet, but it was time for a battlefield pickup. I was just too damned clumsy. He had something that looked like an MP-5, except all of its controls were laid out like a miniature M-16. Some local variant on the model? Didn't really matter, as the safeties and magazine ejects worked like the M-16 I cut my teeth on as a Marine way back when. Old school, and in use in more damned countries than I cared to count. It worked, and it loaded faster than my FN. And honestly, I sort of liked its feel. It was familiar to me. I tore off my P90 and the pouches for its magazines, replacing them with the German chatterbox using snap hooks to mount them on my harness. The whole process took a half of a minute, and in that time, no one came looking for the latest of the SWAT gunmen I killed. Either the last guy was smart and hung with the principal, or he was scared and looking for the back door.
I unhooked a mini-mirror from a pocket and checked around the corner. It was clear, and I pushed forward once more. I noticed there were no doors down the corridor where the last killer had burst. There was a stairway down, and I edged to the top of the steps, and saw the man in the suit, all alone. He hammered on a closed steel door so badly his knuckles were split and bloody. His hair was a sweaty mess, and when he heard me clear my throat.
Blue eyes stared up to me from a face slathered in a patina of terror.
"God?" I asked. "No. He doesn't dirty his hands with shit like you."
I fumbled a flash card from a pocket. It was empty, but I wanted to know his reaction as I threw it at his feet.
"No. When it comes to people who want movies like yours, He sends me."
The suit went pale, then threw up on the floor.