Read 2nd Earth: Shortfall Online

Authors: Edward Vought

2nd Earth: Shortfall

 

2
ND
EARTH

Shortfall

 

EDWARD & EUNICE VOUGHT

Text Copyright 2011 Edward & Eunice Vought

All Rights Reserved

Dedication

 

This book is dedicated to the pioneers and the survivors of this world.

To those who defy the odds, no matter how overwhelming they may be.

Those that refuse to give up no matter what the world or Mother Nature

throws at them.

1

The noise in the rescue helicopter is almost deafening. That’s okay, because the ear protection we are wearing makes conversation all but impossible. That is if we had anything we wanted to say to each other. We received word of this mission less than an hour ago, when the GPS signal from a downed pilot started sending out the distress signal. There has been no contact other than the signal, so everyone on board knows that we could be running head-on into an ambush. It wouldn’t be the first time and probably won’t be the last, unless we get very unlucky this time. I’ve got my lucky Indian head nickel, so I know I will be going back. Not that anyone would miss me if I didn’t come back.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not feeling sorry for myself. It’s just that my parents died when I was seven and the couple that raised me after that, died three years ago, when the Marine base they were living on in Okinawa was attacked by terrorists. Actually they were American Marines that were sympathetic to the cause, whatever that means. They managed to escape the military police and made it to North Korea where they were given political asylum. As soon as I heard about it, I took leave with two of my SEAL team buddies and we just happened to run into the three men who killed Gunny and Ma Horton. Whatever cause they were willing to kill for, didn’t seem so grand when they had to die for it. I have never heard such begging from grown men as I did that day. We barely got out of Korea alive that time.

I’m sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Jon Gorman. I used to be exclusively a Navy SEAL until about six months ago. Some of my SEAL buddies and I were asked by the Navy to work with the Air Force Para-rescue teams. We took the training, at least the medical part. We were already the most elite fighting force in the world and have been taking missions with this unit for the past three months. We are not what you would call close as a team, but we work well together and that’s all anyone can ask of a team like this one. I was trained as a medical corpsman anyway, so it wasn’t that much of a change for me.

His coordinates tell us that the pilot is down in the city, I hate urban fighting. There are so many places the enemy can hide and still have a good field of fire. We are getting close to the location where the distress signal is coming from. I look at LT. I have to remember that you don’t know these guys the way I do. LT is short for Lieutenant Mason. He’s our team leader and a very capable fighter, with his hands or any weapon. He is smiling at me and giving us a thumbs-up. That’s his way of telling us that everything is going to be okay. There is nowhere to set the chopper down close to the signal. It looks like the pilot may be in an alley behind some blown out warehouses. We drop the lines and two of us are down on the ground in a matter of seconds.

The gunner is standing by while we look for the pilot, we can see where his plane went down. From the looks of the plane this is not a military pilot, it’s probably one of those civilian guys, who make millions off our government in these wars. It doesn’t matter, we have to get him out anyway. If he gets found by the rebels there won’t be enough left to take back with us. We have to find him now. It’s kind of hard to sneak anywhere with a personnel carrier the size of the one we have. I shine my light down the alley expecting gunfire at any second. I can see a body up against the wall behind some big boxes. LT warns me it might be a trap, unfortunately as far as I know; there is only one way to find out.

We head down the alley and sure enough it’s our pilot, only it’s not a man. It’s the most attractive pilot I have ever seen and she is unconscious. I come up beside her and can see the blood on her face and on her shirt and pants where she has obviously been injured. The biggest difference in saving lives in a war zone and in a civilized city is the care we can give the injured person. I know she may have back injuries and internal injuries, but if we don’t get out of here pronto we will all be standing at the pearly gates together, discussing what we should have done rather than getting us all killed. I grab her by the shirt, raise her up, and throw her over my shoulder. She lets out a gasp, probably from pain, and we are headed back to the chopper. A stokes is waiting so in she goes and is being lifted up to the door so we can get her inside.

I knew this was going too smoothly. Just as she gets to the door we are under fire. LT and I are returning fire on the ground while our gunner is opening fire from above. LT is in radio contact with our pilot so he tells him where the fire is coming from. I have no idea how anyone can hear with the noise from the helicopter and the gunfire, but they do. The pilot swings the chopper around about ninety degrees and fires a couple of missiles into the third floor of one of those warehouses. The gunfire stops long enough for LT and me to get pulled back up to the chopper and we are on our way out of there when the gunfire starts again. Now we can take care of the pilot or at least see if there is anything we can do for her.

She has what appear to be two bullet wounds on her torso and her head appears to have hit something, either when she crashed or when she got out of the plane. I open her blouse and check out the wounds, the other guys are checking out her breasts and yell at me when I cover her everywhere except where the wound is. Both bullet wounds are clear through and don’t appear to be life threatening. The one low near the abdomen doesn’t have any odor of bile or bowel, so it probably went clear through the fatty area on the side of the organs. The other one is through her shoulder. I start an IV, which is kind of like threading a needle while riding a bull. I manage to get it going and take her vital signs. I call the base hospital where we are taking her to let them know what we found and see if they want me to do any more.

She is starting to come to when we land at the hospital and are taking her off the helicopter. When the nurses take her from me, they tell me I should see someone about that bleeding on my arm. I glance down and see that I must have come closer to getting my ticket punched tonight than I realized. The worst part is that a perfectly good uniform shirt got torn and blood stained. I follow them into the hospital and check out my arm in the mirror in the men’s room. It’s no more than a scratch; add that scar to the long list that is already on my body somewhere. I go out to one of the aid rooms and put some antiseptic on the wound to prevent infection and one of the nurses going by puts a bandage on it for me.

With that taken care of I stop by the room where they are treating the wounded pilot, just to make sure she is going to be okay. I am not accustomed to seeing women in these rooms. There is no modesty for the patient when the doctors are working on you in the hospital. I know they are too busy saving lives to notice that sort of thing. The only other time I saw a woman with this little clothing on was in a magazine that Ma Horton tanned my hide for looking at. I turn my head so not to be looking at the pilot and ask one of the nurses, whose name is Kathy, how she is doing. She notices that I am uncomfortable and just has to tease me.

“Jon, don’t tell me you are embarrassed seeing a naked woman? I would have guessed that a stud like you would have a different girl every night. I’ve been wondering when I would get lucky enough to be one of those girls myself. How about it, do you think about what I look like naked?”

She is successful. I can feel my face getting hot and I just know I am turning bright red. LT sticks his head in just in time to hear her comments, now he has to put in his two cents worth.

“Kathy, you know that our little virgin SEAL is saving that part of his anatomy for the right young lady. Although if he really wants to see what you look like naked, I can give him some pictures.”

I don’t know if he has pictures of her or not, but since I can’t get a straight answer from anyone in here, I may as well leave. I go out of the room, much to the delight of anyone who heard the conversation. I am so glad that I have two weeks leave coming so I can get out of this war zone, for at least a short time. I can handle men in just about any situation, however when it comes to women, I lose every time. I am beginning to believe that in spite of what Ma Horton told me, there are so few people in this world with morals when it comes to sex that we are considered freaks if we have any. I have to go to the debriefing room to tell what took place on this mission. I will never understand why because we have to tell the C.O. and then write it up, and the report goes to pretty much every officer on the base.

Back at the barracks my roommate is typing up his report on his laptop computer. His name is Timmy Nolan. He’s from somewhere in New York. He teases me about the look on my face when I opened that pilot’s blouse. I tell him I expected her to have something on under the shirt. He is two years younger than my twenty-four years, but he always talks to me like he is my mentor or something.

“Jon boy, you live a very sheltered life. Why don’t you let Papa Tim take you out some time and introduce you to some real girls? Not the ones you read about in the magazines you are always looking at.”

I remind him that it is him always looking at those magazines. He tells me I still need to meet some girls. He tells me when we get to New York he will make sure he introduces me to some of the girls that he dated in high school. I ask him about his sister, he has a picture of her on his dresser with the rest of his family. He always shakes his head no and tells me that his sainted sister will never become serious with a Navy SEAL. He says that would be almost as bad as letting her marry an Englishman. Timmy’s family is Irish and from what he has told me about them, they are great people. I will be meeting them in less than a week. When we finish our reports we head over to the chow hall to get something before they close. LT is there and tells us that the pilot is going to be sore for a while, but will be fine. She asked him to thank me for her and asked if I would mind stopping by the hospital, maybe tomorrow, so she can thank me herself.

Naturally this conversation gets those two going with several potential scenarios involving me and the pilot. Believe me, none of them are worth repeating and you don’t want to know what they are. Back at the barracks I am asleep almost as soon as my head hits the pillow. I remember a time when a mission like that would keep me awake for hours, going over every detail in my mind and wishing I had done something different. I have finally learned to take Gunny’s advice. He always told me to forget anything that you can’t change because thinking about it will drive you crazy. He said to plan for everything that can happen before you get to the drop zone and then do what you know is the best thing to do. The only thing you take away from a mission is the person you are rescuing and any information that will help you avoid mistakes on future missions or in your life.

The next morning I stop by the hospital to see the pilot. She looks much better than she did last evening. She is younger than I thought she was. We talk for a little while and she says she thinks she is going back to the States when she gets out of the hospital. All the money in the world won’t do you much good if you die trying to earn it. I think that’s good thinking. I wish her luck and head to the HQ building for a meeting that our Commanding Officer called for this morning. The whole team is here. LT and Tim ask me if they hear wedding bells. Naturally everyone else wants to know what they are talking about, so I get harassed until the C.O. comes in and asks for our attention. He tells us that we have been chosen to extract a civilian delegation that has fallen into the hands of a rebel force that is holding them for ransom. We are going in right after dark to get them out.

Our unit commander tells me I will take the high ground and cut down any resistance that the team may encounter. This is what I did with my SEAL team. I use a fifty caliber rifle with a heat sensing scope. I can see through walls if there is something warm on the other side and that gun will shoot through cinderblock walls like they are not even there. The guys on the team started calling me God, but I didn’t like that, so they started using the name Zeus when they call me on the radio. We spend the next several hours getting ready. We are studying the layout of where the hostages are being held and getting all of our equipment ready. This type of mission is the kind that can definitely cost someone their life. In situations like this, all it takes is one person to do something stupid and the whole team, along with the hostages, can be killed. We pretty much know that our team will do what is required. It’s the hostages that are the unknown factor.

Finally it is time to board the helicopter to take us to the destination. It is a couple of hours away and we have to be dropped off a couple of klicks from the location and walk in. When we get there, I look for a water tower that is supposed to be in this area and sure enough it is there. However, there is one small problem. It is lying on its side. Someone blew the darned thing down. The next highest place is the roof of the building across from the location where the hostages are being held. Great, now I get to work my way up through a building that may be full of the enemy and then find a spot that I can hide from sight in. LT must be reading my mind because he tells me since it’s as easy as that, he expects me to be in place in five minutes. I tell him if he doesn’t hear from me, he can go ahead and start without me. He smiles and tells me he has faith in daddy Zeus. The others echo his sentiments and I head into the building to get to the roof. I do notice a fire escape on the outside, so when I have to come down I can get down quicker that way.

By some miracle, I manage to get all the way to the roof and even find a place to shoot from without being too public. Three of the team members are positioning themselves at ground level, while the other three are getting ready to go in after the hostages. I can see into the building from my position and have the hostages in sight. They do not look any the worse for wear; they are dressed like rich kids. Don’t ask me to explain that, but they are. From where I am I can’t see what the others will run into when they go in the building. I don’t see any people between the door and the hostages, but they may be just far enough away from the wall for me to not be able to see them. We are in constant communication as the three team members make their way up to the hostages. They do encounter one of the enemy and take care of him with a knife. When they get to the hostages they kill the two guards watching them before they know what hit them, and without firing a shot so far. This may go better than we had any reason to hope.

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