24 Season Zero: Day of Reckoning

Chapter 5

11:30 AM – ARIEL SHARON HIGH SCHOOL, TEL AVIV, ISRAEL

A red haired girl in the group caught Rachel's eye because of her WVU sweatshirt. "Love your shirt, I'm actually applying to WVU for next year."

"Thanks! You'll love it. We're always one of the top five parties schools in America!" the redhead said with obvious pride. She introduced herself as Erika Rogers, a sophomore from the Columbus area. She also mentioned she was a cheerleader for the West Virginia Mountaineers. "We're crazy about football. Even if you're not at first, you will be after a semester there."

"How do you like Israel so far?" Rachel asked.

"Well…just….different, you know?" Erika said. "This is only my second time outside America. First time was Cancun. At least in Mexico I was able to speak a little Spanish, here I don't know any Hebrew besides shalom." This was supposedly the Jewish "homeland", but Erika definitely wasn't feeling it. This was a world away from her split level house in Ohio or the bustling college scene of Morgantown. "I am having an amazing time though."

"Nothing to worry about, I've helped with lots of these tours and not many are fluent in Hebrew except those who went to private Jewish schools in the U.S. I'm sorry all this is happening during your trip. I'm glad you chose to visit us instead of just going to Florida."

Erika told her as they walked into the building, "Florida costs money which I pretty short of right now. I met my dad for the first time two years ago and he's Jewish. I know all about the Irish stuff from my mom, but I've always wondered about this side of my heritage. I find the ancestry thing really interesting, especially how even though my dad's side is from Czechoslovakia they're also from here in a way. Then I saw an ad for this in the WVU student newspaper. I was like great deal, why not?"

GIVITAYIM DISTRICT, TEL AVIV, NEAR THE MILITARY BASE

Osama pulled his station wagon back into traffic, heading up a small hill toward the Givitayim military base. He could part of the military compound from the streets below, including the Israeli and American flags flying high above the main buildings. The neighborhood was obviously frequented by the soldiers stationed at the facility. Osama turned into an alleyway as he saw two Jeeps and a tarp covered truck with the insignias of the Israel Defense Forces on them. "This is it," he told his men who got out of the station wagon, removing a covering from the rear of the vehicle, revealing two Bazookas and an anti-tank missile launcher. "Wait until they are past us."

A couple minutes later, the small IDF convoy went past the alleyway. Osama turned and saw a civilian walking toward the alley and gasping as the sight of the weaponry. He quickly fired two silenced gunshots through the man's heart. Osama and the two other attacked quickly made their way to the main avenue and aimed at the convoy. Osama fired the shoulder-launched anti-tank missile, a white smoke following it as it hit the tarp truck, killing ten soldiers on board. Soon the other terrorists attacked with the Bazookas, destroying the Jeeps. Two wounded soldiers crawled from the wreckage, screaming in pain. Osama went over with his AK-47 assault rifle.

"Please, don't kill me," one of the wounded soldiers begged.

"There is a price for occupation, kafir," spat Osama.

"Please….I have never served in the territories….."

Osama waved his arms around at the street around him. "All this here is occupation. Free Palestine!"

Osama fired a burst of automatic gunfire, killing the man, then did the same to the other surviving soldier. His men then fired an anti-tank missile into a crowded apartment building, sending glass and pieces of concrete raining down all over the street. They fired some more and unleashed a wave of bullets on the crowds of fleeing civilians.

BASE COMMAND

Captain Christopher Henderson immediately turned his head out the window when he heard the first explosions, then saw the black smoke rising from the neighborhood just outside the base.

"Sergeant!" he ordered as he walked out of his office, seeing Sergeant Darius Greene coming up the stairwell. "We need to be on combat stations now, we're under attack, this is not a drill."

"Yes, sir."

Greene went into a comms room and send the alert out while sirens blared around the base. A mile away, on an apartment balcony, the terrorist Aziz unleashed another wave of anti-tank missiles. One of them hit an IDF transport helicopter as it was coming in for landing at Givitayim. The missile impacted the tail, tearing it off, sending the helicopter into an uncontrolled spin. Soon the chopper slammed into the tarmac, exploding in a fireball as sparks and wreckage destroyed several other aircraft on the ground. Another missile hit the control tower, sending the burning bodies of soldiers stationed their sailing through the air over a hundred feet to the concrete ground below.

Henderson quickly got General Adi Wasser, the Israeli commander of the base on the phone.

"What kind of hostiles are we dealing with?" Henderson inquired quickly.

"We're not sure yet," Wasser answered in heavily accented English. "One of our convoys was ambushed in the neighborhood, over twenty of my soldiers were killed."

"Jesus Christ, and I'm seeing another missile launch from the east, from my 4 o'clock…..we're taking cover now. I don't know if they have the schematics and building plans to this base."

"We're sending more forces out. We believe they may try to breach the security, that's always a possibility. They're sending some Navy aircraft from Ashdod just in case."

"General Wasser, I can send my teams out to engage the hostiles. We don't have control over the sky yet. I need your authority to pursue and engage the terrorists."

"You have it! Keep me updated, Captain Henderson!" Soon an armored personnel carrier leaving its parking area also suffered a direct hit, instantly killing every soldier on board.

FITNESS CENTER, MILITARY BASE

Lance Sizemore was in the weight room doing a heavy muscle workout when the skylights shattered, then a rocket hit the room, sending metal beams crashing from the roof. Lance immediately dove away from the machine, the weights clanging to the floor. He had his gun in a moment, as did the other soldiers in the facility. He received the order from Henderson to prepare to leave the base and engage the attackers in the neighborhood outside. This was not supposed to be happening, Lance thought to himself. He heard stories of US military bases under attack in Iraq and Afghanistan, but this was completely unexpected. Somehow, terrorists had managed to launch a coordinated assault deep into the Israeli heartland. Lance quickly pushed these thoughts to the back of his mind. Didn't matter how he ended up here, but he was now at war, and he was ready to fight for the men around him.

GIVITAYIM STREETS

"Osama, they are sending forces your way. Also our team also needs to switch positions!" Aziz radioed. The jihadis on Osama's team were packing up and going toward a different floor of the apartment building.

"Are you sure? The Israelis will never attack you from that far with their mortars or airstrikes. They may not care about our martyred women in children in Gaza, but they will not risk killing their own civilians."

"They'll send commandos here, we must keep moving. We will be in another overlook position soon. How are things there?"

Four police cars now pulled up with their sirens blaring. Osama fired a rocket straight into the first one, destroying it and sending two of the other cars flipping over and over onto the street. The other Palestinians unleashed a full volley of AK-47 fire, cutting down the officers who tried to make it to safety. More military units were approaching.

ARIEL SHARON HIGH SCHOOL

Rachel was finishing up her presentation as Jack also listened. He loved her engaging personality so much and couldn't wait to be with her back home. She could really hold an audience and would make a great teacher someday, Jack thought.

She finished her PowerPoint presentation with a picture of her and some fellow soldiers making goofy faces at the airport food court plus the obligatory one with her and the stewardess in the jet engine. "So that's the internal security division, specifically Ben Gurion airport. We also have resources on other kinds of positions but I hope that was interesting. If you're lucky, I might see some of you again at the airport when you're flying back."

Next up was someone from a combat brigade who had served in anti-terrorist operations in the West Bank. After this, the American visitors would join half the regular student body for lunch and Rachel would be giving the Hebrew version to the juniors and seniors in the auditorium.

"Hey that was interesting," David Glick, a 21 year old New Yorker attending the University of Michigan said to Erika. "I want to come here and fight. This terrorism against our people is insane." Unlike Erika or some of the others in their group, David grew up in a heavily Jewish area and had a strong ethnic and religious identity. In the Northeast everyone seemed to have a very ethnic identity, whether you were Irish, Italian, Polish, Chinese, Mexican or whatever. He faithfully attended a synagogue his entire life and was involved heavily with the Jewish community on Long Island. It enraged him to see anti-Israeli protests on campus put on by a coalition of Arab, Muslim, and liberal student organizations.

"I guess I should be glad the girls aren't put in combat positions," Erika remarked. "But you could have joined the Marines a few years ago, hero."

"Wouldn't have made the cut, but it's so inspiring being here, meeting these soldiers." David also wanted to act tough, since he had wanted to make advances on Erika since the beginning of this trip. David didn't care that already mentioned having a boyfriend in Morgantown that she's been dating for a year despite the flirtatious advances of Division I football players. He wouldn't mind driving from Michigan to Morgantown to see her, he thought. He lowered his voice. "Can't believe this girl actually admitted she wanted to abandon Israel and marry a goyim. I thought this tour was supposed to inspire us to be more Jewish and to return to Israel."

"It's a heritage and immersion stuff, not all of them have to push something. Rachel there was just being honest about herself, nothing wrong with that." Erika replied. She was having a great time here, but she would never dream of living outside the United States away from her family and friends and everything that was familiar to her and neither would most people here with them. She also completely understood Rachel for wanting to go to America. The proud Mountaineer cheerleader really hoped she would end up at WVU.

11:45 AM

Jack and Rachel's phones rang almost simultaneously with emergency alerts. They excused themselves as the combat soldier continued speaking to the American students. They went out into the hallway, looking out at the courtyard outside. The high school was three stories around a central courtyard with a pond in the middle, with two additions, plus the cafeteria and auditorium.

Rachel spoke with her command again. "Jack, Givitayim is under attack!"

Jack nodded as it was confirmed by Henderson. "Sir…..I can head back as soon as I can….."

"Your R and R is over. We have a crisis on our hands right here. Where the hell are you?"

"I'm with my friend from the IDF. We're north of…..."

"Just make sure you're secure and get back here down. We're under attack from two directions, remember the simulation, report to rally point Charlie outside the base in case this still isn't taken care of. And hurry the hell up, Private Bauer."

"Yes, sir."

MAIN ENTRANCE, ARIEL SHARON HIGH SCHOOL

"What's that, we didn't know there was a delivery," the young female soldier at the security desk said. Her partner got up in surprise too, heading out to check it out. Suddenly from both sides of the door, more than ten Muslim terrorists entered, shouting "Allah Akbar" and "Death to infidels" in Arabic. Nakkash Bin Rahal fired a burst into the male soldier, then turned the gun on the woman, killing her before she could speak again.

"Malik, come with me to the office. Bilal, you and your team secure the auditorium. Khattab, head to the cafeteria now. Farad, bring me the Americans. Yallah!"

The staff in the main office panicked at the sound of gunfire but within seconds, Nakkash and several other terrorists stormed through the door, shooting two secretaries in the chest along with a student waiting to speak to an administrator. On the other end of the office suite, more terrorists attacked the security control center, quickly mowing down three soldiers and demolishing several computers, the smoke of burned electronics and gunpowder filling the air.

Nakkash kicked open another door and saw the principal along with one of his staff members, a middle aged woman who screamed in Hebrew. Another terrorist grabbed another hostage, a female student.

Nakkash grabbed the woman by the neck and slammed her face into the assistant principal's desk. The other terrorist, a bearded, menacing looking Muslim with blazing eyes pressed the muzzle of his pistol against the neck of the whimpering student.

"We won't kill you if you cooperate. Where are the Americans?" Nakkash demanded, looking at the name on the desk. "You will tell me, Mr. Goldberg, or this sharmoota dies!"

"Go to hell, you fucking haji scum and fuck Muhammad!" the woman screamed. "You can do what you want, but we won't ever surrender to you people!" Nakkash pulled the trigger, sending her brains and skull matter flying into the principal's face.

"Now that you know I am serious, Mr. Goldberg, I will repeat myself one last time. Where are the Americans?" Nakkash shouted with rage, his eyes wide with fury and zealotry. His adrenaline was pumping, and he was exhilarated by the killing he had done. He felt the presence of Allah in him as he entered the building and killed the soldiers and office workers. This was different than fighting Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip or duking it out with rival Palestinian factions. Here, he was bringing death and terror to the enemy's doorstep. Soon, Israel and America will bend, because the will of Allah was unstoppable.

"They….they're in room 118! Don't hurt them, they have nothing to do with your cause."

"That depends on the Israeli and American governments," Nakkash replied, "But we only want the kids. Don't want to deal with too much resistance." Nakkash shot the principal through the heart, the man collapsing backward into his chair. He then turned to the female student, shooting her through the chest as well and shoving her body onto the table. "And just to prove how serious we are."

Nakkash and his terrorist squad went through the office suites, making sure every single person in there was dead. "I want a secure line to all the news networks and to the Prime Minister's office. I also want the American ambassador present."

"What about President Ryan in the White House?" a terrorist asked.

"No, we will put these American lives in the hands of the Israeli government," Nakkash told him. "They are Jews, but they are still U.S. citizens. One of them may be worth more than twenty of the other hostages. The Israelis will do anything to avoid lots of dead Americans and offending their closest ally."

FIRST FLOOR HALLWAY

Jack and Rachel suddenly heard the gunfire as they made their way down the hall toward the entrance to head back to Givitayim in a hurry. Jack glanced two terrorists rounding the corner.

"Over there! Don't move!" they heard screaming in a thick Arabic accent. Jack grabbed Rachel and pulled her with him as he ducked behind a doorway. Rachel began shaking and crying. Jack took the M-16 from her and got ready to fire.

"Rachel! We need to move before more of them get here!"

"Yallah! Yallah! I see two soldiers, kill them!" an Arabic voice screamed.

"Dammit!" Jack cursed. He reached around the corner and fired blindly. He had to pretend this was not real, that it was a training simulation, in order to not panic more than he already was. The two terrorists ducked into opposite doorways as Jack reloaded. Jack cursed at himself for wasting those bullets but at least he distracted the two hostiles. He could hear voices and footsteps from all around now including distant ones from the far end of the hall in the other direction.

Jack turned the corner and was a moment faster than a terrorist in rounding the corner from a doorway. He caught a glimpse of the terrorist's lower leg and shot it, blasting the bone apart. The terrorist fell down screaming and cursing in Arabic, holding his leg as he collapsed to the floor. Jack burst a burst into his head. The other terrorist on the left end of the hall stepped out from his hiding spot, firing a long burst of automatic weapons fire. However Jack had slid along the floor and the terrorist's bullets instead killed two of his comrades approaching from the opposite end.

"I need you to provide some cover fire!" Rachel was still frozen. "Dammit!" he cursed again. Jack aimed at the firing terrorist and took him down with a burst to the chest. He fired down the other end of the hall, killing another terrorist.

He grabbed Rachel. "C'mon, we're almost out of bullets on this gun. I know you're scared. I am too, but you need to remember your training. Remember these scenarios. There's gotta be a simulation you've done for a similar environment during your basic training. You're great with this gun, I saw your Facebook video from the range. We can do this."

Her mouth quivered as tears poured from her eyes. "How can this be happening to us?"

"I don't know, but….." There is more shouting down the hall. Jack grabbed her and headed down the opposite way. Jack fired again, engaging several terrorists in a firefight. "Rachel, we're gonna get out of this together, I promise you. I need you to trust me, please."

She nodded. "Okay, Jack. I'll…."

"Where would the armory be in a typical Israeli high school?" Jack asked, picking up an AK-47 from a fallen Hamas fighter and handing the M16 back to Rachel. "I need something better than this Soviet Russian shit the terrorists use. Rachel, listen to me and stay calm."

"There's always one near the main office," Rachel said. "Another one in this building at the start of the South Wing, I saw it coming in. Once we get to a secure spot I can try to get in contact with command, have them send us the schematics to the building."

"We'll go for the South Wing. The main office will be one of the first areas the hostiles will want to secure. All the stuff downtown was a diversion including the assault on our base. This right here's their primary target. It's what my gut tells me."

They dashed down an empty stretch of corridor. The students were either in the cafeteria or the auditorium. There's got to be insider information given to the terrorists, Jack thought. They wanted all the hostages in a few spots vs taking the rooms one by one.

ROOM 118

David was more inspired as the combat presentation went on. He was surprised Erika wasn't as ethnically minded as he was. Maybe it was different where she was from. Columbus had its various ethnic groups but nothing like the New York area. It seemed more like the kind of place where everybody was just American. It was probably the same in West Virginia, except with more elements of Southern culture mixed in. He liked Erika nonetheless, even if she was too much a product of her suburban Midwestern upbringing. He really wanted to hook up with Erika, one day convince her to come back with him, but if that didn't work, he also didn't mind being in a unit like Rachel's with lots of females. Of course it wouldn't be a combat units, but there were pros and cons to everything.

Suddenly the door flew open as Farad and three other gunmen burst in shouting in unintelligible Arabic and broken English. Farad immediately shot the soldier giving the presentation as his men took positions along the walls of the room. The teacher quickly surrendered and put her hands up in the air but Farad turned the gun on her and killed her anyway. Most of the audience began screaming and covering their heads.

"We only need so many grownup here, right?" he said in Arabic, laughing. His men followed in their sadistic laughter.

"You fucking bastard!" David shouted. The others in the group all urged him to be quiet.

Farad slammed his fist into David's face, sending the young man from New York flying backwards over a desk, his face bloodied. He fired a string of bullets into the ceiling then went over to David, grabbing him and jamming the gun into his stomach. "You think you are tough, you American Jew swine?" Farad pointed at the dead soldier who had been giving the presentation. "That was a trained Israeli war criminal. He could not stop me. You think you can stop us?"

David shook his head and winced in pain. Farad spat on David and spoke to the group.

"We are taking control of this building! All of you, put your hands in the air and stand up now!" A few girls were whimpering and Farad fired onto the floor next to them. "I will not repeat myself again! Yallah!" The hostages nodded in fear. Farad waved his assault rifle around pointed to his Arabic inscripted bandana. "You know what this means? I means we are all prepared to die, so do not provoke us!" Farad screamed menacingly. "Now, my American friends, welcome to Palestine."

SCHOOL EXTERIOR

Another team of terrorists entered through a different door, going past the athletic fields to the back entrance of the auditorium. Malik split his team so they can surround the auditorium, while Bilal's men approached the cafeteria in a similar fashion. Malik yanked open the cafeteria doors from the outside and stepped in along with six more of his armed militants. Malik saw three teachers monitoring the cafeteria and immediately shot them in quick succession, sending students screaming and rushing toward the doors. More terrorists arrived at the interior doors. Malik fired a long burst of automatic gunfire into the ceiling, sending plaster falling all over the students and lunch tables. Two cooks rushed out of the kitchen and were cut down by gunfire.

"Everyone stay still! If you try to escape, we will kill you! If you do not follow our commands we will kill you! Is that clear?" Malik screamed, firing into the air again with a crazed expression on his face. He waved his gun around as his men swarmed the room like a group of angry bees, threatening the students with their guns. Several terrorists also held grenades in their hands. "You try to escape, you die! You challenge us, you die!"

ARMORY

"We don't have much time," Jack says. "Those bastards are everywhere."

Rachel took out her IDF keycard and spoke in Hebrew again to IDF command which had reprogrammed it to give her access to the weapons cache. The keypad clicked open and they entered a small room with M16s and MP5's. "Okay, we're in. Let's lock and load."

"Allah akbar!" they heard a scream as three terrorists sprayed the room with gunfire. A grenade was tossed in their but Jack caught it in midair and hurled it back. The two charging terrorists were surprised at the grenade coming at them and couldn't respond in time. It exploded less than five feet from them, tearing their bodies apart. Rachel rose up from the damaged windows separating the armory from the hallway and fired a burst. Blood spurted from the third terrorist's chest and he collapsed to the ground.

"Oh my God," Rachel said, still shocked but coming to her senses. Jack couldn't describe the relief he felt as she transitioned from panicking girl suddenly in a terrorist crisis to a trained soldier, albeit one who had never intended to see combat. "Jack, okay, they…" she breathed more evenly now. "These are the schematics for the school, I have it on my phone. There's a bathroom not far from here, with access into the ventilation system. The concrete should block whatever heartbeat sensors the terrorists might have."

Jack nodded. "Good thinking. Okay I see where the men's bathroom is, we need to make a dash for it. We have several hostiles approaching. They're still not in complete control of the school yet."

"On my count," Jack said. "1…..2…3!"

Jack and Rachel both emerged from the shattered armory, heading toward an empty math classroom that was a shortcut to the corridor with the bathroom. They both opened fire on a terrorist down the hall, taking him down then ducking into the classroom where a terrorist was in position. Rachel's magazine was out but she pulled out her Glock sidearm and shot the man between the eyes, a blob of blood appearing on the wall behind as he dropped dead. The entered the other hallway where more hostiles were present.

"I'm going to draw their fire, you take them out!" Jack said. Jack reloaded and fired two bursts toward a stairwell, forcing a terrorist to duck and retreat momentarily. "C'mon," Jack waved frantically.

Rachel followed his lead and the two reached the bathroom just as more hostiles closed in. Jack took out his sack, one he got from the armory. He removed an explosive charge and placed it beneath a toilet as he helped Rachel up into the vent first. Arabic screaming could be heard coming down the hall.

"They must be in here! Finish them off!" someone yelled in Arabic. Jack had studied Arabic extensively before and during his joining the military. Rachel, on the other hand, knew nothing of the language but it wasn't hard for her to guess what was being said. Jack finished arming the Claymore mine and the two retreated through the large, wide air vent.

Three Arabs approached the bathroom door from the hallway. The first man opened fire into the bathroom in a wide arc. Windows and porcelain sinks and mirrors all shattered into thousands of pieces, clinking onto the linoleum floor. "Looks clear," the first Arab said.

"Up there!" another terrorist pointed at the vent.

The first Arab smiled and chuckled, taking out a grenade. "They must have overestimated us. Let's flush them out."

The terrorist henchman pulled the pin out of the grenade but before he could toss it into the air vent, Jack detonated the Claymore mine. A wall of fire covered the entire bathroom, burning up all three men and shattering windows overlooking the school's courtyard. The explosive force was such that the three terrorists could not be easily identified by their comrades.


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