Needle in a haystack

“You don’t understand,” he said.

“Yes I do, I get it but you can’t take the shot from that angle” his captain said. She was more experienced than he. And had been in more battles. She didn’t need to remind him.

“Roger that. Green 2 pulling back”, he replied.

She felt relieved but frustrated. They may have just missed their turn to complete the task.

“Let’s try this again. Green 4, it’s your turn”, she stated over the airwaves.
“Roger that. Circling around into position”, green 4 said. No with a bit of trepidation in his stomach. It was different being second in line to complete the task, now the pressure was on him.

As his plane descended within the few seconds into position, he relied on the computer systems to update the exact location of the target. Not a large target. A needle in a haystack, if you will. A quick fly-by and no one would be the wiser. Actually a brilliant location for the enemy to hide the armory storage. Never would have been found if not for the quick thinking of their insurgent on the ground.

Weeks in the making, probably years, but never easy. The progress was slow and specific. Never revealing identity. Never phoning home when undercover like that. Even getting the information back to the team was multiple layers of messages. Secret words or phrases that meant nothing to the common person, but in the right location and the right time would be translated into the details the team needed. He completed that task just two nights before and was now running across the mountain range to get away before being located and killed, for sure. A two day headstart and he assumed he would be far gone by the time his team got the message and engaged the mission. He couldn’t look back.

“Psssh” the sound of static breaking in the radio sequence. Not a squelch, but more like a sizzle. Everyone was used to it by now, having trained with it. You never payed attention to it anymore. “In position now”, said Green 4, in a very casual voice. “This is like popping bubbles in a bathtub”, he said to himself under his breath.

The low murmur of the targeting system as he approached, increased. If he waited too long, progress would be lost and they’d have to try again, wasting more time and putting the team in jeopardy. Teams in the air and on the ground.

Meep, meep, meep. The sound was increasing in volume and well as frequency. “On track”, he reported to his team. Captain could see every bit of his targeting system from afar, all systems stayed in sync and she could see what he was seeing on his screen.

“Don’t forget the adjustment for the wind differential as you enter the causeway between those cliffs”, she reminded the young pilot. Not wanting to miss this opportunity.

“Roger that. Compensating thermal updraft systems. Check”. As a low hum from the system engaged.

A flock of birds flew over his head. He heard the sound coming again. Another pass? What happened the first time? Must have missed. He wasn’t happy to see that. He really better move now if there was a miss and now a second shooter, they will notice he is gone for sure and start on foot. With enough time between explosions for a few men to come look for him. A swig of water and a moment to look at his footprints in the sand. Uh oh, they might find him for sure. But he can’t stop now. Maybe a brief backtrack but he has to keep moving.

Captain was accustomed to missions like this. She knew there was never time to stop and think. Only react. “PPssshh, I see you now”, a crack in the lines and a strange message.

“Keep the lines clear!” She enforced over the line. Wait, the team knew that. This was different. A small welp in her stomach and thoughts about the safety of her team.

MEEEEEEEEEEP, the computer indicator of Green 4. Lost? Lost.

“We’ve lost number 4, ma’am”, said the program controller.

“Pull the others out. Send that message now”, she stated. With haste, but not panic. There is a difference and must. She must not show stress to your team. They must have a level of confidence and comfort, even when losing members of the team.

“That shall be the last attempt from you”, the voice appeared again.

“Switch to alternate channels. And can we get a report from the ground?”

The mystery voice again, “We have your channel’s decoded. We have your spy in sight. We’d like our package returned. We will not let you destroy our storage building”.

“We don’t play games with the enemy. You are being tracked and you will also be destroyed”, she sounded a bit over confident, but she believed every word of it.

She switched to a private direct line to the Corporal. “Corp Mahony, can we get movement toward the source of that disturbance? Keep radios clear. I only want the simple progress. I want it don’t quick and let’s get out of here and go home”.
“Roger ma’am”. From the other end of the line.

In a low whisper “you heard her”. Let’s snuff out the problem. This time pieces of shrapnel fell from the sky. He knew was it was and a small tear wrapped his emotions. He was driven by revenge now.

Quiet steps. Quick movements to keep their cover and 3 of them moved through the cover of the trees. Was it enough? Could they find the enemy before one of them was killed?

Oct 21, 2020
Quick on the draw
Needle in a haystack