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|Hell & Gone by Henry Brown
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(Call it men's fiction, action-adventure, military thriller or even a war novel...but Hell and Gone is not about Iraq or Afghanistan.)
0443; CAMP ALI EAST, NUBIAN DESERT
Two more bodies lay in the boat, now. That made four...no, five of his men dead already. More than he'd ever lost on a single mission.
With a whistle and pop, an aerial flare ignited above. Cavarra closed one eye. The early morning moon was already so bright, his night vision goggles dangled from his neck. This new illumination was blinding. As the flare floated down under a small parachute, shadows changed shapes and sizes as they pivoted about in a ghostly carousel. Hundreds of waves on the Red Sea reflected flashes and flickers.
They're checking to see what survived the barrage, Cavarra thought. He balanced atop a dock pillar and panned the camp with binoculars. The moonlit carnage reminded him of WWI photos taken after Verdun or the Somme. It might have appeared peaceful in the blue-white light, were it not for the mangled bodies and equipment strewn over the almost lunar landscape.
The binocular lenses drew in light from the moon and stars, but light pollution from the flare cloaked the activity west of the camp in a fog-like dimness. Cavarra watched the shadowy hulks out there swarm, plod and shuffle around until he got the general idea: The enemy armored force was forming into a semicircle while infantry dismounted behind it. Within minutes skirmishers would begin to advance through the wreckage toward Cavarra and what was left of his squad.
But there must be bad guys already here. Somebody had killed his men. Survivors from Ali's garrison? Most likely. They couldn't all be dead or fled.
Cavarra passed the word for everyone to rally at the boat. He checked his rifle and took off to find the hot potato himself.
As he strode past the armory someone stepped around the corner right in front of him. Another flare popped overhead and Cavarra froze.
It wasn't one of his shooters--all except Mai were accounted for. This figure was shorter than Mai, and much, much thinner. It was a pimple-faced boy brandishing a smoking automatic rifle and a metallic suitcase--the hot potato.
An enemy. But he was just a kid.
The boy's Kalashnikov burped out screaming hot lead.
One bullet punched right through Cavarra's ballistic armor and erupted white-hot havoc in his torso. He fell backwards, landed on his butt and fumbled with his Galil. The suitcase streaked toward his face from the side and connected with the force of a runaway train smashing through a dynamite shack.
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