Chapter 1 - Heated Mess
Ever come across someone who you believe is your heart and someone who is your soul? How could you ever decide which one would win the war of all inner turmoil? Does it come in an easy decision, or does time play a part in the final verdict? It’s not always certain, clear, or clean, but life is anything but fair when it comes to matters of the heart.
For one individual, such a matter will carry out in life, but how he arrives at the ultimate decision is not a path he would have ever found so easy.
It all begins with the war in Iraq, things about to be a hotbed of pain and destruction.
“Hey, mom, how’s it going?” Cory greets his mother via Yahoo chat webcam.
“Oh, there ya are, son, can you hear me, okay?” Mrs. Dubois speaks loudly into the microphone, excited to see him in uniform.
“Perfectly, so how’s CJ and Tara?”
Thrilled over this new way to keep in touch, Mrs. Dubois goes into a rant. “I finally had my heart to heart with her over that letter, and she feels so bad about it. Tara’s going to be here later. Would you like to talk to her and try to work things out?”
Cory gives the indication he’s thinking it over with the expression written on his face.
“Not really, mom. You know I’m here for another couple of months. I have decided that I’m not signing a new contract. I want to come back to the states for medical school.”
With squeals of delight, Mrs. Dubois can’t contain herself.
“Oh yes! I don’t care where either. I will come to visit you every chance I can. That is such great news!”
Cory smiles for the first time without sarcasm.
“Yeah, I guess it’s time to pick up where I left off in high school. I know it’ll be great not to have to do PT every day anymore.”
He makes his mother laugh, nearly spills her coffee.
“Just having you home and no longer worrying about you is good enough. I could care less about you going to school. I only want you home where you’re safe.”
Cory begins to breakdown the plan with sounds of a ruckus stirring outside.
“Well, I have my goals, mom and… Captain, what is it? What’s going on? Hey, you can’t…”
He moves away from the camera, causing his mom to stir in the chair.
“Cory…son…are you alright?” Mrs. Dubois listens and hears screaming and yelling in the background.
“We’re a hospital, not a prison. If you want your men, then take them...” A male voice screams.
Right before the connection goes dead, she overhears the sound of gunfire, accompanied by high-pitched screams of despair.
Out of nowhere, a group of Taliban fighters rushes the CSH (Combat Surgical Hospital pronounced as CASH), taking hostages after their Captain was taken into US custody. The World Courts required that he be patched up from the skirmish.
“Where is he? Where is he?” One of the men screams in Arabic at a female nurse.
“Tell me now, American swine, or I will kill you!” He continues to yell with an AK-47 pointed between her eyes.
“I-I-I-I don’t know what you’re saying. I’m sorry, I-I-I don’t speak your language. Please don’t kill me!” She begs with eyes closed.
He continues to scream in Arabic, unable to speak a single word of English. When out of nowhere, Cory tackles the gunman and struggles to get the weapon. The scuffle is intense, but Cory uses his position to push the weapon straight into the assailant’s chest, getting it from his grip.
Able to hold one of the Taliban fighters, Cory has him get to his feet and turn around to head out where more of them have gathered the hospital staff. When Cory has the man step out, he calls out to get his cohort’s attention.
“Weapons down, or I will shoot him!” Cory orders trying to keep himself hidden behind the man.
Within seconds they open fire, spraying their own man with bullets. Cory leaps backward to get out of the line of fire and tries to fire back, but the clip attached to the AK-47 doesn’t have much ammo. After the shooting stops, Cory rushes the men hoping the other soldiers will assist in resistance.
“Cory, stop!” One of the doctors calls out then has his face hit with the butt of an AK-47. Cory is shot a couple of times and left lying on the floor, beginning to gasp for air.
With no one else left to stand in the way, the Taliban fighters begin to shoot a video and send it out with a male nurse. He rushes to a Jeep and makes his way to the nearest Army depot checkpoint.
“Help! Hostages from the 4288 CSH unit have been taken, hostage! We have patients there and others injured!” The male nurse screams after he slides to a stop at the MP check station.
“Come with us, and we’ll handle it from here!” One of the MP’s reply as they guide him from the Jeep taking the videotape to play for the commanding officer.
The MPs rush inside with the video and an interrupter watching as demands are written down in English.
“Here’s what they want, Colonel. They want a top surgeon to do the operation on their tribal leader. They also want ten thousand dollars in American currency and a crate of modern American assault rifles. If these are not met within 72 hours, then they will begin to kill each person in the hospital and rape the women then slice their throats for their misdeeds against Allah.” The interrupter mentions looking back at the Colonel.
With a stern expression on his face, the Colonel walks away, returning to his office. He shuts the door and uses the satellite phone to call for reinforcements.
“General Hust, this is Colonel Childers from Checkpoint 354 outside of Herat. I have a situation, sir; I have members of the 4288 CSH who have been taken, hostage. I need your Ghost Recon Team.” He informs command as they devise a plan.
“Done! I’ll have them dispatched soon enough. In the meantime, Colonel, have your MP’s head back to distract the hostage-takers. Try to negotiate until my team is in place.” The General explains in a cool and rational tone.
“Copy that, sir, Colonel Childers out.”
The Colonel exits his office and gathers six of his best enlisted Military Police soldiers.
“PFC Mandell, Specialist Reid, Corporal Fisher, Private Parker, Sergeants Cofield, and Mitchell, you men are being sent to the 4288 CSH hospital. Try to talk these men out of there, and whatever you do, do not use deadly force! You are to wait until the Marines send in the Ghost Recon Team to sanitize these assholes.” Colonel Childers informs the men as they gather around a Humvee then speed toward the hospital.
Within a half-hour, the six men are parked in front of the hospital. Sergeant Mitchell uses the bullhorn to draw the hostage-takers attention.
“Hey, inside the hospital, your demands are being discussed as we speak. We are here to prove that the staff inside is alive and well.” He begins in Arabic and continues for several minutes in three other commonly used languages for that region.
Slowly the door to the hospital opens, and one of the men exits and holds a knife to a doctor’s throat.
“No changes to our demands! If they aren’t met soon, we will kill everyone in here and ourselves in the name of Allah!” He screams in his native tongue and pulls the doctor back inside.
Back within the hospital walls, the staff is held hostage; one of the nurses that have been interested in Cory scoots over to check on his condition.
“Cory, hey Cory, it’s Sabrina. Please say you’re alive.” She whispers while nudging his shoulder.
She listens as he groans just enough to be heard.
“Hang in there; I’m going to sneak to the other room and get some bandages to stop the bleeding. Don’t die on me!” She says while he struggles to breathe.
As she darts from the room, Sabrina quickly gets pressure gauze and bandages. Before the men holding them hostage return from the front of the hospital. She treats Cory, but before she finishes, they find out what she’s doing and stop her dead in her tracks.
“Please let me help my friend! He doesn’t deserve to die; he has a little boy back home. Cory needs to be with his son.” Sabrina pleads in English.
The plea goes unheard as they point the barrel of their weapons and motion for her to head into the other room.
“Don’t you hurt her, or I’ll kill you!” One of the doctors calls out as he gets to his feet.
The men laugh as the one leading them opens fire, killing the doctor unloading the entire clip into his torso.
“Dumb American fool!” The hostage leader says, “Take the woman into that room there and have your way with her after I have her first. Stupid infidels, not having armed guards here. How stupid can they be?” He mumbles as his men laugh and escort Sabrina into the other room.
The others left alive are horrified when they listen to Sabrina scream in pain and plead for them to stop. The assault goes on for over an hour before silence fills the room. Outside, the MP’s sent to keep an eye on the place don’t like being left to sit there without help.
“I can’t take this; we have no eyes on the inside. We don’t know if anyone is even alive!” Sergeant Mitchell expresses before he punches the Humvee.
“Chill, Jordan, we have to sit here and wait. We have orders, Sergeant!” PFC Mandell reminds him as he sits in the vehicle with a canteen on his thigh.
Jordan, a tall, well-built, dark-haired man from Georgia, is in his 20’s, paces back and forth impatient, and slings off his battle uniform top.
“We will not sit here and wait much longer. If the rescue team isn’t here within another hour or two, we will devise a plan and rescue them. Something doesn’t feel right, and I swear I could have heard muffled screams a bit ago,” Jordan says.
As the desert sun beats down on them, the resurgence team is flown into the checkpoint base. Once they arrive, they’re given details from the male nurse, who is still shaking in fear.
“There’s about a dozen of these guys, and they mean business. They came in guns a blazing and shot up a surgical technician and, and, and…” he’s cut off by one of the Ghost Recon soldiers.
“Relax, all we need to know is if they have any bombs or explosives-rigged around the CSH unit.”
“I can’t remember; it’s all a blur and unreal, sir. I can’t recall seeing any, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t carry any in after they sent me out.”
A firm hand is placed on the terrified nurse’s shoulder and mentioned to relax.
“It’ll be fine; we have this handled.” The Major in charge of the team relays. “Men, suit up. I need a map and the layout of the land. None of these ass clowns make it out alive; can I get a HOOAH!”
“HOOAH!” The team calls out as they pick up their gear and head out.
Back at the CSH unit, the MP’s grow more impatient. Just as Sergeant Mitchell is about to break orders and attempt to sneak inside to do the job himself, the Ghost Recon team arrives.
“Stand down, Sergeant, that’s a direct order!” The Major cries out as he’s the first to approach the team of MP’s.
“Copy that, Major, but with your permission, sir, I’d like to join your team in sweeping the grounds and eliminate the enemy.” Sergeant Mitchell expresses during his salute.
“Denied, you are to remain here with your team and allow us to handle this our way.”
Sergeant Mitchell can’t help but express his anger towards having to sit out.
“To Hell with that, sir! I might be out of line, but these are not regular fighting soldiers. That’s a hospital unit, and if there are more injured…”
“If there are more wounded inside, Sergeant, then they will need assistance which is where you will come in until reinforcements arrive! Now stand down before I have one of my men here put you down!” The Major says eye to eye with Sergeant Mitchell.
“Alpha team roll out, use strike package one with radio silence, and do not go live unless you have no other option.”
“SIR, YES, SIR!” The team cries out in unison as they collect their gear of small arm weapons.
In almost no time, the team is met with gunfire once the door swings open. They’ve been ambushed as the Taliban fighters immediately engage.
“Psst, Sergeant Mitchell, now would be a good time for us to go behind here. We can surprise these sons a bitches from behind.” Sergeant Cofield explains, motioning to follow him.
“I have an ex-girlfriend who was assigned here last year, and she used to sneak me in every now and then through the back when she worked nights. Come on, let’s help these guys out.” He continues as they hunker down, running along the blindside of the hospital.
They don’t waste time entering the building. Once inside, they stay low to avoid detection and check on the hostages that are tied up and gaged.
“Don’t make any noise. We’re here to assist the Marines trying to make their way inside. Just stay here, and we’ll be back shortly.” Sergeant Cofield says as Sergeant Mitchell continues to assess the situation.
“They’re scattered about the room; they have four stationed in there. I say we stay low and come upon them and take them out quietly. No firing, get something to jab into their throats.” Sergeant Mitchell suggests as they look around the room.
“Hey, look! There are some surgical packets there. Maybe they have some scalpels or razors; we can use those.” Sergeant Cofield mentions taking a couple of the packs quickly to avoid exposure.
Once they break open the packs and each takes a scalpel, then snakingly approach the rebel fighters and quickly strike before they can alert their cohorts.
“Four down; God only knows how many more to go.” Sergeant Mitchell whispers as he tries to wipe off the blood from his hands.
“We got…” Sergeant Cofield stops dead in his tracks when he sees Sabrina strung out in the corner of the room.
She’s dead and naked with stab wounds all over her body. Blood covers the corner and sends Sergeant Cofield into a frenzy.
BASTARDS!” He cries out, taking his sidearm from the holster, and charges into the next room, emptying the magazine.
“Lawrence, wait!” Sergeant Mitchell yells and follows behind, firing his sidearm to help kill the rest of the men fighting the Marines.
Once the fire battle comes to an end, Sergeant Mitchell returns to the room where everyone else is bound, and the doctors quickly begin to work on Cory. On the other hand, the Major is furious and struts into the room where both Sergeants stand, ready for an ass ripping.
“I done told you, two idiots, to remain outside and allow my men to handle this situation! What if they have rigged a bomb or had on suicide vests? What if they had some sort of trap? I’d have more bodies on my hands! Speaking of which, look at your hands; they’re stained in blood. That blood will forever be stained on your hands, and may our God have mercy on your souls. PFC Mandell, take these men into custody. I will have charges brought up against you for breaking the chain of command along with other various charges that broke the UCMJ.”
Both Sergeants are taken into custody by their fellow soldiers and placed into the back of the Humvee. The Ghost Recon Marines begin to clear and help the hospital staff with those who were already patients and wait for word on the injured surgical technician rushed into surgery.