Taking the NVGs, Alex carefully glanced at the approaching tracking party. Out of the corner of his eye he saw some objects by the trucks carcase that could be of use.
"Come on." He hissed breaking cover and sprinting to clearing by the truck. Paulo and Camilla climbed up in confusion and ran to catch up with Alex. The teen crouched down several times and seemed to be collecting a few objects, which in the darkness they couldn't identify.
Alex turned back to the tracking party, which he estimated to be about five hundred metres away before returning to his bewildered friends. Their mouths dropped in surprise when they saw what he carried back and handed to them.
Alex handed each of them an AK-47 assault rifle and several of its curled thirty round magazines.
Catching their horrified expressions he held up his hands and explained.
"If we fire at them, it will make them stop where they are and take cover. By doing that we might buy enough time for the others to come pick us up."
Paulo and Camilla still looked unsure and Alex felt he needed to elaborate further.
"We can't run or hide from these guys, so we either we kill them or scare them into keeping their heads down until the others arrive; I know which way I'd prefer to do it."
Camilla looked at the weapons that he had found and outlines of more scattered on the ground nearby. Those earlier troops must have dropped them as they fled the explosions, She noted in a mixture of disapproval and gratitude.
The girl gingerly held the heavy weapon, inspecting its condition. Camilla knew how to use firearms from her time living on the farm and she had actually used the AK before one time to scare some men off the property. It is quite an elegant weapon in its simple design, Camilla conceded and she remembered the flawless rapid fire it had delivered.
Simple was the key to the AK-47 assault rifle, very versatile but also extremely hardy, capable of working in almost any conditions. Her grandfather's one had been completely buried and dug up before, to work perfectly after only a light clean. She did not look forward to their coming task, but she recognised its necessity and practicality in delaying the enemy's advance.
The ultimatum delivered, Paulo looked at the rough machine in his hand, quickly figuring out how it worked. He felt dirty, as he held the weapon awkwardly in his good hand; he realized it was the first real time that Alpha Force had taken up arms and actually fired at people. The thought did not sit well with him at all and like Alex, he was determined not to hit anyone with the deadly 7.62mm rounds.
With his wounded hand he slotted a magazine into the obvious recess it belonged in. Understanding the principle behind the rifle, he then used the two free fingers on his bad hand to draw back the cocking lever and release the working parts forward with a clash. The noise of the well-oiled metal sliding sent a shiver up Paulo's spine, as an armor-piercing round was chambered.
It's noise brought back the last time he had heard it and seen the loading drill carried out; in the shed when the soldier prepared to kill Amber. Hopefully this ends better for me then it did for him, Paulo grimly reflected.
The other two seemed confident in what they were doing and started counting their magazines, before lying down in separate bushes about twenty meters apart.
Paulo noticed that Alex was lying with a much larger looking weapon that had a round mag clipped to bottom, which looked like a small barrel.
"RPK-74; light machine gun." Alex explained casually, before winking.
"I'll start this off shall I?"
Trust soldier boy there to be excited at a time like this, Paulo thought sarcastically rolling his eyes.
The British teen was indeed excited to be firing a machine gun for real, something he had dreamed of many times since he had first applied for the army over a year ago. With his rejection, he had thought that he might never get the opportunity after all. Alex had never considered he might have the chance while facing down a real enemy force.
With deft hands Alex drew back the cocking lever on the side of the weapon before smashing it forward again and raising the weapon to his prone shoulder. An ear-splitting run of cracks tore the night air, as he unloosed a sustained torrent of automatic fire in the enemy's direction, just above their heads.
The men dived frantically for cover, as the rounds sprayed overhead. The two large dogs that were held on leads, were released in the haste to return fire.
Alex felt like his shoulder had been ripped out by the recoil of the weapon and he moved the stock to a better-cushioned position before firing again.
Bullets immediately began to blindly tear back in Alex's direction by the confused soldiers.
Paulo and Camilla gritted their teeth and fired off rounds of their own, adding to the chaos.
Li couldn't help but notice the difference between the helicopter they had just boarded and the one they had arrived in. The biggest difference being the soldier in a blue helmet that stood at the open door, manning the impressive looking machine gun. A second man in a blue helmet had helped them in before getting down to business. He took the small USB drive from Hex and plugged it into an onboard computer setting it to transfer, before instructing the pilot to fly to the coordinates that Amber provided him.
With the chopper lifting into the air the man introduced himself as Major General McGarvey of the NATO coalition forces. He quickly explained that the increasing evidence of war crimes was forcing the rest of the world to intervene with the regime in Solambia. The piece of evidence Alpha Force had just provided was quite possibly the last nail in the despot's coffin.
The friends smiled at each other, glad that their hard work had made a difference.
Their smiles quickly turned to concern and fear, as the pilot announced that he was getting reports of small arms fire at the pick up point.
The smell of gunpowder was heavy in the air, as the three friends doused the enemy position with suppressing fire. Not a single enemy was hit, but the combined fire of the three weapons was enough to keep their heads down and to stop them advancing much closer.
From his position of cover, the rifle in Paulo's hand shuddered with each round that was propelled from the barrel with a deafening crack of gunpowder. He braced the weapon against the tree, unwilling to put his broken fingers through the shockwave of each shot. A little thrill of excitement raced through his chest, as each bullet left the weapon and despite the grim situation he found he strangely enjoyed firing the weapon high above the terrified men. The more he depressed the trigger the more rounds fired off at once and the greater the buzz, the beautiful mechanics of the device working smoothly in his hand made him a little giddy.
A resounding click replaced the usual bang, as he quickly expended the thirty round magazine. Drawing back the cocking lever and fumbling with his bad fingers he ejected the warm, empty magazine to slot in a fresh, full one. He released the working parts to slam forward and squeezed the trigger for the thrill to start again.
On the ground a new sound drowned out the deafening small arms fire and Camilla looked up to see a large helicopter approaching quickly. Dropping the horrible weapon she had been forced to use, the girl reached into her pack and drew out a chemical break light identical to the one Hex had used. She quickly cracked it, shook it and dashed off to find the others.
Camilla found Paulo on the other side of the tree having a blast, quite literally the boy was firing his weapon one armed into the distance carefully avoiding anything that looked remotely human. The loud sound and the joy of the working parts excited the boy and he didn't notice the girl tapping him on the shoulder for a few seconds.
When she got his attention, he too dumped his hot weapon and they quickly moved at a crouch in the pursuit of Alex.
Alex lay in the bushes about twenty meters away, carefully aiming his gun trying to take out the two fierce dogs that had slipped their leash and bounded towards their position. While he was reluctant to shoot the approaching soldiers, Alex held no such qualms when it came to firing at their vicious half-starved canines. At about a two hundred meters he managed to cut down the first one, which tumbled over with a yelp, but he had lost sight of the second animal.
Alex glared down the length of his barrel, his eyes scanning for any movement at all. The rustling in the bushes to the side of him caught the teen off guard and he was still looking down the gun when the attack dog pounced.
The heavy mongrel slammed into the prone boy's side, rolling him onto his back and bounding around for another attack.
Alex didn't have a chance to sit up, before the beast was back; it's jaws snapping for his throat, it's rancid breath huffing in his face. He locked his hands around its neck and struggled frantically to keep the gnashing teeth at bay. In a fit of desperation he managed to kick the dog forward and off him, giving him a chance to find his own feet.
Fear curdled his mind, as the low primal growl issued from behind him.
He turned to see the feral animal crouched low in anticipation of another spring. Getting a good look at the beast for the first time, he was stunned at how wild it looked. Jeez was its mum a bloody hyena? He thought, eyeing the creature's broad, mangy shoulders and its long yellowed canines that were exposed during its dangerous, low snarl.
The dog lunged itself forward off its powerful back legs and hurtled towards Alex. Time seemed to slow as the animal, that was nearly as heavy as him, flew through the air; he only just had time enough to bring his arm up in defence of his throat.
The strong jaws had no choice, but to clamp down on the exposed arm.
A sickening snap echoed out of the dog's mouth, as it's powerful teeth closed together, digging deep into the flesh and snapping Alex's radius and ulna in an instant.
Alex's world exploded in pain as his arm was crushed by an immense primal strength. The muscles of his body turned to jelly and he dropped to his knees as the pain radiated away from his ruined arm. His whole body seemed to be held in paralysis by the complaining of the sinew, muscle and bone trapped in the beast's mouth.
Paulo and Camilla found Alex just as the massive dog pounced at him.
"NOOOO! ALEX!" Camilla screamed, rushing forward only to be checked by Paulo, as rounds whistled through the air around them.
"Get to the chopper!" He shouted at her, pushing the girl towards the descending vehicle.
"But Alex.." She protested.
"I'll help him.." Paulo assured her, before pushing her again.
As the helicopter lost altitude, it struck Amber how dangerous it was landing in a bullet filled environment, her mind flitted back to their earlier ride in and she shuddered. As if reading her mind, a voice came across the microphone obviously intended for the door gunner.
"Weapons cleared hot."
At this command the man on the turret opened up, spitting down savage licks of fire on the broken force below them. The disorganised band below was riddled with large calibre rounds reducing their bodies to broken, bloody carcases. With brutal skill, better optics and efficiency the gunner silenced the enemy fire that was coming from below them, before the skids touched down.
Hex leapt from the vehicle, despite the Major General's objections and ran across to roughly drag Camilla back to the vehicle.
"Paulo, Alex!" She shouted at him and pointed towards the shadows by the tree.
Alex thought he was going to black out from the pain in his arm, when the pressure suddenly slackened. He blinked, trying to comprehend what had caused this relief.
Paulo stepped back from the fierce animal after delivering a solid kick to its flank and prepared for another one.
"Spit out my friend you bastardo monster!" He yelled at the animal, as he smashed his boot into the brute's side, causing it to recoil and whimper.
Paulo was usually the biggest animal lover of the bunch, but this love was bypassed by a greater need to rescue his injured friend. The crippling pain in his own side seemed a small price to pay to save Alex. The grip on Alex's arm lessened again, as the dog became divided between targets.
The reduction in pain cleared the gathering mist in his head and with his only good hand Alex drew his knife. With a final plunge of effort, he drove the blade up under the dog's powerful chin and into its brain. Vice like jaws instantly released his broken arm and the teen finally passed out from the trauma.
Paulo and Hex sprinted to their fallen friend, hoisting him up under his armpits, before retrieving his knife and dragging him to the helicopter.
Rotors whined as the pitch increased, dragging the heavy helicopter with its weary and broken passengers up into the sky, homebound.