May 2019 Issue #5 (Theme: Transitions)
The Op, by Nathan Bush


I lay completely still, hardly daring to breathe.  And despite continuous training, my pulse soared well above my rest rate.   I could feel the pounding deep within my ears growing in volume, until it blocked out all other sounds.  I swore that if it increased even just one extra beat per minute, then my heart would simply explode, ending everything I’d worked so hard for in a flash. 

Finally, through a mixture of determination, breathing techniques I’d been coached on, and a silent plea toward Heaven, my blood flow slowed to a crawl, and the anxiety creeping in took a backward step. 

I slowly and methodically took stock of my surroundings through strained auditory nerves and what little vision I had past the tall grass that concealed my inert form.  I checked the area in quadrants, starting at my one to three position and continued til I returned back to twelve. 

Thankfully, I found no presence close enough to my position to be a current threat.  But how long the situation would remain in my favor was unknown.  In my experience, nothing was ever assured, no matter what the powers-that-be claimed. 

The more calm my nerves became, the more I was able to process of my environment.  In my own silenced state, I could make out a whispered conversation some distance from my twelve o’clock.  The sounds were too far away to be helpful, other than being able to note the presence of at least two warm bodies.   They didn’t appear to be moving, as their voices were neither getting louder, nor diminishing. 

filed the information away, and continued my sedentary recon.  Movement at my eleven brought a brief flare up of adrenaline as I felt the ground reverberate ever so slightly at the passing of another body. 

I inched a hand toward the butt of the Beretta housed in its thigh holster, while I simultaneously gripped the M4A1 at my side, finger already curling around the trigger. 

The third target slowly passed by and joined the position of the previous two, still conversing, and entirely oblivious to my presence.  With luck, the situation would remain acceptable until such time as I could move into a more tenable position to conduct my part of the op. 

Somewhere, distantly out of my sight line, on the far side of the field I currently resided in, was a walled compound.  Inside said compound, according to our best intel, was my number one mission parameter.  Jose Torres was known to be the head of the Droga Cartel, and currently the most wanted drug lord of Colombia.  His operation was purportedly moving more than a half billion in cocaine a year across the border and into the streets of America. 

The soldiers loitering outside would be nothing more than collateral damage.  Though that made them no less of a menace to me or the rest of my team.  Well paid soldiers, especially those that feared failing a man as callous and coldblooded as Torres, would balk at nothing in the performance of their duty.  Our satellites had produced plenty of intel on the training facility run by Torres’ number one subordinate, Sami Silva.  So, I knew that it would be far from a simple matter to get past the men between me and my prime target. 

did, however, take great consolation in the fact that five of my closest brothers were spread out over a quarter mile radius, with the compound being the hub.  And I knew they were just as ready and eager for action as I.  A couple maybe more so. 

Lieutenant Doc Hallstead and Staff Sergeant Rueben Goddard were always the most vocal when it came time to pour out hell on earth, as they referred to any action against a target.  And they were definitely som of the best at what they did.  Not that the rest of the team members weren’t overqualified for the job.  Those two just seemed a little  more eager to enter a firefight as any of the others. 

And this op had all the makings for exactly what they were after.  Plus, this one had a special meaning for Doc.  Sometime during the past year, when Torres had popped up on the intelligence radar, Doc’s younger sister had OD’d while at a high school party.  Though it was accidental on her part.  Some douchebag had laced a tray of cookies with cocaine, and the deadly product had been traced directly back to Jose Torres and this particular compound. 

took several minutes to painstakingly reposition myself and checked my HUD display.  It was getting near our go time.  In fact, mere moments separated me from engaging the enemy.  A quick glance at my display screen showed me the entire team was now in position to strike at the newest head of the drug fueled hydra masquerading as human beings. 

When the action started, no quarter would be asked for, nor given.  Our orders were to strike fast, first, and fervently.  No prisoners.  No survivors.  Not that I expected any of these soldiers to surrender.  It was no more in their makeup than it was in ours.  It would be a fight to the death.  Either theirs, or ours.  And I had no intention of letting it be ours. 

As I preparementally, one last time, a COM check came through, initializing the ten second count down to the op’s final push. 

I steeled my nerves, tossed up a quick supplication for a successful mission, and readied myself to transition from silent observer to hell bringer.