The whining roar of the jets firing up drowned out even the blast of the gunship cannons. Fuel poured into the hot engines, blasting fire as the afterburners lit. Metal groaned and the craft shot skyward, slamming its passengers into their seats.
Chizon gritted his teeth, fighting the acceleration blackout. His knuckles went white. Entry and extraction were the worst parts of any mission; relying on someone else to keep him alive wasn’t something he did well. The only thing protecting the passengers from enemy fire was the pilot’s skill and the aircraft’s armor.
Of course, he had to admit that protection wasn’t the only thing that mattered. Return fire was equally important. The craft shook as the gunner opened up with his cannons, laying down suppressing fire. Chizon’s smile was cold. With two gunships in the air and raining high-explosive rounds on the forest, the Russians didn’t stand a chance.
The pilot leveled off, speeding the craft west, away from the battle-zone. A few seconds later, the thud of the cannon ceased. Glancing around, Chizon could see that the whole platoon was as relieved as he was. They’d survived extraction.
Someone started a cheer, but the captain raised a hand, a frown flickering across his face.
“Hold it, lads. You hear that?”
The compartment went quiet as the soldiers strained to hear. A crackle from the pilot’s speaker drew their attention.
“We’re free and clear, guys. No tails and no missiles, either. Good extr…”
He broke off as something exploded in the distance. For several tense moments, the blasts continued, with no word from the pilot. Finally, the speaker buzzed again.
“The Russians just shelled their own encampment, gents. Looks like you made yourselves too unpleasant to keep around. The whole place is a big crater already, but the shells are still coming down.”
Hydraulics hummed and metal squeaked, then a rush of wind battered the platoon. The loading ramp was opening. They stared out, eyes wide as they watched the defenses they’d just evacuated dissolve in a blaze and cloud of smoke. Rounds still screamed out of the sky, pounding the wreckage into dust and ash.
Benz shot a strange look across the compartment at Chizon.
“Whose cards just hit the table, sir? Yours or theirs?”
The captain looked back at him, expressionless.
“The world’s afraid to call my bluff, sergeant.”
What do you think?! This excerpt is the fifth scene from Chapter Four, right in the middle of the action. Here’s hoping you enjoyed it!
Toss back a drink for me when you get to the mess hall.
I’ve got to dive back into the gritty job of editing this beast!
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