ZWR.com (unpaid) senior staffer and Philly.com (paid) Social Media Czar Ryan "PETZRAWR" Petzar was so excited about the discovery of Ed Wade's terrorist arms dealers novel that he... well... wrote a story of his own, in the fashion of Mr. Wade. It's below the jump, donkey face. Enjoy!
The sun hung high in the sky when Nate Mitchell finally came to, the wreckage of the helicopter still smoldering around him. Mitchell squinted at the bright sun that was filtering through the treetops above. How long had he been out? Ten, twelve hours? The last thing he remembered was the high-pitched scream of alarms blaring out of the control panel of the chopper in which he and his team were riding. Moments prior, an explosion rocked the tail section of the helicopter, a Sikorsky MH-60G ‘Pave Hawk’, sending it into a violent, uncontrolled descent.
And then... nothing.
Mitchell struggled to stand, but once on his feet his survival instincts kicked in. Immediately he began to scan his surroundings to try and figure out where he was and where he was supposed to be. Remembering seeing mountains passing below them right before the explosions and the presence of dense foliage all around him suggested he was probably somewhere in the Tigrovaya Nature Reserve.
“Shit,” Mitchell muttered. Tigrovaya is located mostly on the Tajikistani side of the Tajikistan/Afghanistan border and is well over 40 kilometers from tip to toe meaning that he could be anywhere from 20 to 100 clicks from Aq Tapa, the village intel suggested that Ru Bin Al-Amaro was hiding in. Worst of all, he realized that in order to reach Al-Amaro’s compound, he’d have to cross either the Vakhsh or the Panj rivers. Maybe even both if he was really unlucky. Once across the rivers, Mitchell knew he’d have to deal with crossing the Amu Darya Delta which at this time of the year was as dry as a bone.
“No sense waiting,” Mitchell said to nobody in particular as he started to form a plan.
The chopper had been pretty well destroyed and its contents were largely blown to bits. As best as Mitchell could figure, none of the Sikorsky’s other passengers had survived the blast which he suspected came from a shoulder-mounted 9K38 Igla rocket fired by one of Al-Amaro’s men somewhere in the mountains on the Tajikistani side of the border. The Igla, known to NATO forces as “The Grinch”, put a real hurting on the chopper.
Latest intelligence showed that Al-Amaro had acquired a surplus of the homing surface-to-air missiles from one of the former Soviet Republics. Al-Amaro had vastly overpaid for the rockets and they weren’t always the most effective, but when they worked, they worked damn well as evidenced by the widespread ruins of the Sikorsky. The Iglas were part of Al-Amaro’s plan to simply out-spend the region’s other warlords. His resources, once thought to be limited, recently appeared to be damn near inexhaustible.
Al-Amaro, plainly put, was a madman. He was wildly unpredictable; sometimes dropping off of the radar for months at a time, only to reappear following a massive arms-deal. Sometimes he’d acquire a stockpile of, say, Soviet-made rifles only to turn around and flip it for a stash of Chinese-made electronic counter-measure systems.
Mitchell’s team would just being to form a plan on how to deal with Al-Amaro when he’d flip a switch and then change tactics entirely. It was frustrating and despite having access to some of the best analysts in the business, Mitchell’s group was grasping at straws when it came to Al-Amaro.
The tipping point came when Al-Amaro appeared on a local Afghan television broadcast, smiling a broad, smug smile, his eyes concealed behind a pair of expensive, western sunglasses, showing off his latest acquisition: a high-powered ballistic missile system known as the JP-58 that was highly coveted by rival warlords. According to an intel source, the JP-58 system hadn’t even been shopped around for very long: Al-Amaro swooped in and made an offer that no other arms-dealer in the region was willing to match.
After the acquisition of the JP-58, it was decided: Al-Amaro would have to be stopped and Mitchell would be the one to do it himself.
After three days of strenuous hiking, Mitchell had finally stumbled onto the sole road towards Aq Tapa. He knew that, by this point, he was probably only about 10 clicks away from the Afghan village and he could reach it by just following the highway.
His skin was blistered and his eyesight fried from the sun. The heat radiating from the pavement felt awful and seemed to sap the last of his strength. Despite salvaging most of his gear including an Heckler & Koch MP5A5 submachine gun and plenty of ammunition, there was almost no food to be found. He spent the better part of the last three days surviving off handfuls of pistachios he was able to forage from the pistachio trees that grew in Tigrovaya.
Mitchell found himself in a daze trudging down the highway. To pass the time, he sang to himself. “Pistaaaaaaaaaaachios!” he cried. “Pistaaaaaaaaaaachios!”
Hours passed and as the sun began to slip below the horizon, Mitchell found himself falling into a trance-like state because of the heat and the lack of food and nourishment. Suddenly, his trance was broken as a wave of bright lights washed over him. Like an idiot, Mitchell realized that he had completely let his guard down while strolling down the highway and he had somehow let a truck drive right up to him. And now he was trapped by his own incompetence: he couldn’t run: there was nowhere to hide and he didn’t have the strength to get run anyway. At this point, he was just going to have to hope for the best.
The truck, a white Toyota Hilux pickup, pulled right next to him. In the cab were two men. Three more rode standing in the truck’s bed. The men in the cab had a brief conversation that Mitchell could barely hear. He felt the neurons in his brain struggling to fire: after 3 days in the desert, he could hardly think, let alone translate a foreign language. He was pretty sure the driver was speaking Dari, an easy guess considering it was the primary dialect of Persian spoken in Afghanistan, but he couldn’t make out the actual words.
The driver turned and shouted to Mitchell, who stood dumbstruck on the side of the road. His gun, thankfully, sat disassembled in his pack. He supposed that was the only reason that he wasn’t already dead. After all, he was pretty much walking right into his target’s hometown. The driver again barked at Mitchell, who flinched suddenly, realizing he understood the driver. “Kaysil jerden bolosuz!?” The driver was angrily demanding to know his name. In Kyrgyz. Mitchell’s heart stopped.
Al-Amaro, famously, is half-Afghan, half-Kyrgyzstani. Not the most common mix, but certainly not unheard of. And a good portion of Al-Amaro’s men hailed from Kyrgyzstan.
Just as Mitchell realized he was most likely talking to one of Al-Amaro’s soldiers, he was struck in the head by a rifle-butt and dragged into the back of the Toyota by one of the men standing in the bed.
Mitchell came-to gradually. As soon as he opened his eyes, sharp pain blasted his brain. He knew he was concussed and he was in a bad situation; after all, how many times has someone ever been knocked out by the butt of a gun only to awake to a pleasant situation? But it wasn’t until he realized that his hands were cuffed together, at his sides, and under the seat of the chair on which he was seated did he realize just how bad of a situation he was in.
Mitchell struggled to look around the room in which he was imprisoned but the lights were dim and his vision still blurred. Still, he could make out piles of ammunition and high-priced weapons stashed around the room. He was being held captive by the man he was sent to kill. Things couldn’t possibly be worse.