The Tribulation Soldier Part One Excerpt
(Jeremiah 1:5) “…Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee: and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and ordained thee a prophet unto the nations…”
The Tribulation Soldier Part One – We were now into our fourth day of patrols and we’d covered much ground already and gradually we were working further and further out from the Colony which made us all a little sharper. We knew that the further we went on patrol, the more unfriendly groups we’d encounter so it was important that we all kept our eyes peeled but at the same time, we remained as visible as possible. The next settlement we were to visit was a bit of an unknown, Patrick had visited them before on two occasions, but we’d never really touched base with this group. All we knew was that Patrick had said that they were a lot more savage than some we’d met, so he would need to go in first to speak with the Elders. On this patrol, we took along Patrick’s white 4X4 so that he could visit the settlements first and then wave us in if all was well. This made me nervous, but Patrick assured me that he’d done this many times, without an armoured convoy.
“Alpha Dog this is Wolf One, okay Patrick, are you set mate? Remember three, two and one finger-signals for trouble?” “All set Major, heading to the settlement now and yes Matt, I can remember the hand-signals, I’m not that old!” We gave a little chuckle at his last remark; Patrick was an ex-Royal Marine and knew the hand-signals well but we needed to confirm all actions on an operation like this. The hand-signals were a simple way of us knowing what kind of situation Patrick was in, three was for all good, two was for concern and one, was for standby, when a fist closed we knew to respond with force. ATV1 would be his immediate back-up as they’d parked up before first light, close to the settlement so if things went wrong, they were close enough to respond. They would be the first on the scene, if there was a drama, they would accelerate hard towards him and at the same time, the fire support group (FSG) would open up firing to cover him. So although Patrick was going in alone, he had a lot of firepower backing him up. For this one, I decided to remain in the APC with FSG so that I could monitor the situation fully on the APC’s onboard multiple surveillance cameras. The two monitors I kept my eyes on was a shot of the overall picture and one which would be focused in on Patrick. Patrick knew to keep himself in an open position so that we could see him and remain outside until things were secure. It also gave us a clear view of his hand-signals so that we could react as quickly as possible. We also had him on coms’ so that we could hear the situation on the ground and Lucy online to cover us all and call out any threats.
“Wolf Pack this is Alpha Dog, approaching the settlement courtyard now, I’ve got three men coming out of the north building approaching my vehicle” “Alpha Dog this is Wolf One, are the men armed?” I got no response other than a couple of clicks over the airwaves and it was obvious he couldn’t respond verbally. With the three men now standing in the open, we could see Patrick moving toward them with his hand in the air as a greeting, I could clearly see the two finger signal. “All call-signs, this is Wolf One, two fingers, ready.” We were all tense and ready to move at a moment’s notice, it all looked okay but obviously, Patrick could read the situation better than us. He stood for a minute or so and we could hear them speaking quite clearly to Patrick through his coms’. “You are the missionary man from the refugee camp eh? Are you armed? Do you have a weapon?” “Yes, my name is Patrick and I’m from the Colony, we’re here to hand out supplies and food for the settlements close by, we thought we might come to meet you sir.” “You are giving food to people Patrick? We hear you are a soldier Patrick, we’ve heard you have soldiers who are killing people, is this true Patrick? Are you a soldier?” “No sir, I’m a missionary with the Christian Mission on the Colony, we are here to help people.” I was amazed at how friendly and calm Patrick was considering we were all so tense, even his body language was calm despite the fact he still had his hands in the air. Suddenly we heard a voice shouting a quick command from the same building, we couldn’t make it out, but as they spoke, Patrick’s hand-signal changed from two fingers to a one finger signal. “All call-signs this is Wolf One, standby, standby.” I was straining to see the body language of the three men, they looked quite relaxed but we couldn’t see the men inside the north building which made me nervous. “Wolf Pack this is SDF Command, suspect on the roof of the north building, two suspects inside copy?” “Rodger that Lucy, keep eyes on his movements.”
“I think you should leave, we don’t need your help you need to leave” “Yes okay, thank you for seeing us, I hope we might meet again soon.” Without warning one of the men began to slowly draw up what looked like a handgun from his side with a smile on his face, we all focused in on Patrick’s hand, still one finger, “All call-signs this is Wolf One, standby, standby.” We could hear them laughing as Patrick walked slowly backward and then, he began to turn still with his hands up and made a calm walk over to his vehicle. Suddenly, Patrick’s hand closed to a fist and immediately, we began to see him zig-zag away from the men but they opened fire and then, Patrick dropped to the ground hard. Even before I gave the ‘go-go’ order, our ATV Gun had opened up as soon as Patrick moved and dropped the three suspects in seconds but they’d already got shots off and Patrick was down. The backup ATV was almost on the scene as we raced toward the courtyard in the APC with Russ getting himself out of his Armour. I felt sick, I couldn’t believe Patrick was down, how the hell did they hit him? Even the best marksman would have had trouble hitting a moving target with a handgun, I couldn’t understand. Patrick though had reacted exactly as he was trained to do as a Marine, “Oh man, come on Patrick, say they hit your body armour mate come on.”
As soon as the APC stopped I opened the doors, my job was to cover Russ as he made his way to Patrick with another lad behind us carrying a stretcher. The other lads would fan out, assess the situation and cover us. We stopped at the edge of the APC and I could see that one of our lads was lying on his side beside Patrick to cover him. All the while automatic machine gun rounds bounced off his Armour but Patrick was safe. I knew our lad would be fine, it would take much more than that to penetrate our Armour but we needed to get to Patrick quick. I managed to catch a glimpse of one of our lads returning from the south side of the courtyard and was now firing stun grenades into the north building to proceed straight inside with another behind him. I knew we were as covered as we could be so we moved from the protection of the APC and ran toward Patrick. At this point, my mind was focused on covering Russ and checking the area as we moved.
Russ was in a vulnerable position, only wearing light body armour and helmet, but he couldn’t move or work on a patient with our Armour on, so I’d remain fixed to Russ. Lucy called out that the suspect on the roof was moving to a firing position and as we got closer, we came under fire from the rooftop so I continued covering Russ knowing that Lucy would drop the target. Lucy took over the mini-gun on my right shoulder and with one short burst, the threat was neutralized. We got to Patrick and I could already see blood on his right shoulder and he was lying quite motionless, but I couldn’t think of his condition yet, I needed to cover Russ and get them back to the APC as soon as possible. “Right lads move, move.” I could see Russ already turning for the APC so we grabbed an arm, pulled Patrick up and made for the back of the APC, his head was up as we moved, a good sign. As we got round to the back of the APC, Russ was already getting his tools to see to Patrick. The APC was heavily armoured and there were no weapons we knew of in this area that could penetrate, it was a thicker version of our Armour made from a classified metal, we’d seen it tested many times so we had no concerns inside. The APC also acted as a field ambulance if required and was kitted out as well as any emergency vehicle, it had everything needed to treat a casualty and stabilise them.
Once inside I began to assess the situation outside, all the lads were doing their job as they were trained to do, they needed very little instruction to secure the area. “All call-signs this is Wolf One, report.” I got a few ‘all-clears’ but one. “Wolf One, this is Wolf Six inside the north building, we have two suspects held up in the back, we can’t cross the floor, it’s too unstable, Wolf Seven and Wolf Eight are on the rear, there’s a metal door between them and the suspects.” “Rodger that, Wolf Seven listen-in, proceed into the room with caution but we need these lads alive, repeat, we need them alive for questioning, rodger?” “Rodger Wolf One.” I could hear a smash as Wolf Seven and Eight crashed through the rear and then, a volley of gunshots rang out. “Wolf One this is Wolf Seven, clear. We have one detained and one seriously injured, a round must have ricocheted” “Rodger Wolf Seven, I’m coming around.” With that me and another lad ran for the building making our way around the side to the position of Wolf Seven. He already had one on the ground and the other suspect was on the floor of the rear room clutching his stomach area. “Russ this is Wolf One, prepare for a hostile combatant casualty with a gunshot wound to the stomach” “Rodger Wolf One.” I knew the APC was capable of multiple casualties and although this suspect could have been a bandit, he was still a human being, so we’d always treat them in the same way. After I’d checked him for weapons or explosives I picked the suspect up in my arms so that his knees would be close to his chest, covering the wound to his stomach and with Wolf Eight covering us, we moved quickly back to the APC.
When I arrived I could see that Russ had already removed Patrick’s body-armour and was working on him, as we entered, Russ moved to the other side and cleared a space. I placed him on the raised surface, Russ then moved over and lifted the suspect’s jacket to reveal a pretty severe wound to his stomach area, after a few moments Russ passed me a thick bandage, “Boss hold there, keep pressure on the wound” “Rodger that.” I looked down to see the very scared face of our suspect, he was looking at me in despair and was beginning to panic so I removed my head armour and got closer to him. “Hey, hey, listen, do you speak English?” “Yes sir, yes, I don’t want to die, please I don’t want to die, I am not a bandit, I am not, please save me, please.” I changed my tone to a softer tone, “Come on, calm down, come on now calm down, we will help you.” He was in a lot of pain, Russ moved back over to the suspect and jabbed a morphine injection into his arm and then quickly turned back to Patrick. “SDF Command, this is APC, Lucy do you copy?” “Copy Russ go-ahead” “Lucy we require an urgent medevac, sixty-year-old male with multiple gunshot wounds, hostile male approximately thirty, GSW to the stomach.” “Rodger APC, proceed to landing zone Extraction Site Charlie, repeat LZ Charlie over” “Rodger, we’ll move in two minutes, two minutes.” My heart sank, I couldn’t see Patrick from my position, but I needed no other explanation, he must have been in a bad way for Russ to request Lucy send the heli’. I knew the North Sea Fleet was close to the Norway Coast to provide air cover for our operations and I visualised the Chinook Crew powering up to come our way. At one hundred and fifty mph they would be at LZ Charlie in fifteen minutes, we were ten minutes away, it was time to move.
“All call-signs this is Wolf One, we’re evacuating in two minutes to LZ Charlie, repeat two minutes LZ Charlie.” As a troop we had multiple landing zones designated for each mission for just such a situation as this, minutes could count so it was important we could move quickly to an extraction point. I could see on my HUD that all of the lads were back in the vehicles and positioning to move the convoy, we just needed the okay from Russ to make sure Patrick was stable enough to roll out. Russ moved over to my side and strapped down, our now calmer suspect to the bed while he gave the all clear to move. “All call-signs roll out to LZ Charlie, LZ Charlie.” With that, we rolled out of the settlement, leaving a trail of destruction behind us, but we had two seriously injured causalities and no time to clean up. “All call-signs this is Wolf One, did anyone see the weapon used to drop Patrick?” “Rodger Wolf One, it was some kind of rapid-fire handgun, I could see it on the ground next to the suspect with a long magazine attached” “Rodger that.” That explained why Patrick had been hit so easily and in so many areas. I looked down at my friend, he had an oxygen mask on and I could see him smiling with his hand stretched out to me, I grabbed it in an instant. “How are you old man? Thought they’d got you, don’t do that to me again” “What’s Russ saying mate, how bad am I?” “You’re speaking so it can’t be that bad, yes mate, you’ve got four entry wounds some of the rounds must have bounced off your body-armour. Lucy has a Chinook on its way, we’ll hit the LZ, then you’ll be taken to the RSN Broadsword Aircraft Carrier out in the North Sea.” “Matt son, Matt, remember three terrible events will happen, but God will use them to draw you to Him, He will require a service of you.”
“Excuse me boss” Russ interrupted and moved back in quick to work on Patrick a little more so I turned back to our suspect. “How are you son, how are you feeling?” “My name is Fredrick, I am not a bandit, I’m not sir” “Fredrick listen, you’ve got a severe gunshot wound to your stomach, a helicopter will be coming soon to take you to a hospital for treatment, do you understand?” “Yes, yes, I am not a bandit sir please.” “Fredrick let’s get you fixed up, come on hang in there, try and stay calm….Lucy what’s the ETA on the heli’?” “Two minutes Major, two minutes over” “Copy that Lucy.” I could feel the APC slowing and turning back off road, drive for a short while and then come to a halt. The convoy stopped and the lads all fanned out to secure the LZ for the Chinook. The Chinook was a huge twin-rotor helicopter and was ideal for moving injured soldiers quickly but they came in hot and had a powerful downdraft so landing and getting our causalities on board safely wasn’t as easy as it sounded. I moved outside and I could see the Chinook hugging the lie of the land and within moments it drew to a hover position then came down slowly. We all bent down on one knee and continued scanning the area to cover the heli’ from any threats. I could see the rear door drop as it came down and the loadies popping their heads out giving instructions to the pilot. As soon as the Chinook hit the ground, its rotors slowed a little and at the same time, Russ and the lads carried the two stretchers straight on board. Within moments the lads were out with the patients on board, the Chinook powered up again and took-off with my friend. I sat bent down for a few moments and almost said a prayer. “Wolf Pack, this is Wolf One listen in, Alpha Dog has multiple gunshot wounds and is in a stable condition thanks to Russ, he was talking before he left, so let’s hope he’s going to be okay. SDF Base, this is Wolf One, returning to Settlement Foxtrot, Lucy scan our route, Wolf Pack, let’s roll out.”