An explosion knocks him against a wall. He barely sees, through the smoke, men running about, hauling rubble off of men's bodies, checking pulses. He sees some men screaming in pain. Others shouting to one another. He sees them, but all he hears is intense ringing.
Half the mess hall is completely gone, all that is left is fire and rubble. It only takes about 60 seconds for him to snap out of the initial shock. He jumps up. Others will tend to the wounded, as his hearing returns more bombs are hitting other buildings.
This band of head wrapped miscreants has found upgraded weapons, Russian no doubt. Ash shoots out the building, down the road to the artillery unit. He grabs his rifle and heads for the highest building.
He can see the launch area where the rockets are being fired from. He takes a deep breath in and slowly breaths out to stead his body. Through the long range scope he can see about 20 of them. They only have two missile launchers. They have very little cover, firing from open desert, mostly hiding behind their Jeep.
He fires two rounds back to back, taking out both missile launchers, exploding in the handlers face. Ash then begins firing one round after another as the attackers fall like Coke cans on a fence post. The bullets hit their targets with extreme prejudice and quick timing.
Three remain. By the time they realize what has happened they are cowering behind the the vehicle. Jeeps are great vehicles for driving through tough terrain quickly, but they are build light, not armored. He sees one peek through the glass, one shot, gone.
The other two attempt to climb in the vehicle keeping their heads down and drive away. The problem with that, is that both seats are occupied, both seats are easily identifiable. He doesn't need to see them, only the back of their seats. Two. One. The Jeep speeds up as it drives erratically, then crashes into an outcropping of rocks.
Theron Ashlund sat sipping on his large java chip blended ice coffee. Even if it was -20*F outside, it was his favorite drink. Sitting in the Grounded Cafe' Ash stared out the window at nothing in particular. Images flashed before his mind, images of wars, actions taken to defend his homeland.
That was a long time ago, when he was Colonel Theron Ashlund USAF; that was the old Ash. Now he was just Professor Ashlund PhD. Due to his groundbreaking thesis on The Rise and Fall of Terrorist Dictators and his litany of military awards, he could have had any seat in the country. But he chose to be Dean of Military Science at Southern Oregon University (SOU), Ashland OR. It seemed fitting. #RaiderUp! He wanted to escape the lime light of Harvard, Yale, or West Point. Of course his ROTC students still called him Col. Ashlund. But his non military students just knew him as Prof-Ash, which eventually just melded into Profish.
There were very few lectures or spot lights these days. As Dean, Ash's job primarily lay in administrative work and policy, plus a few session counseling the younger professors. He was quite over qualified for the position, but he ran a tight department.
Ash noticed the faces of the people he passed as he walked down the street. Hurried. Busy. Faces buried in their smart phones as they walk by. So oblivious to the world around them. He took a deep breath of crisp mountain air. The leaves had begun to fall, most had turned shades of orange and yellow already. Winter was coming.
He turned off the street between two old buildings, and walked up a well worn path into the woods, into refuge from the masses, to home. It wasn't a mansion by any means, but splurged some. 2,500 sqft, 4 bedrooms, a home theater, game room with pool table. Yes sir, he had a fine cabin in the woods. All to himself. How he'd managed to live here ten years and still not have a single friend invited over was mystery to even himself. But he liked things just so. He liked the solitude. At least that's what he told himself when the feelings of loneliness crept in past his shield.
Ash took a seat on his second story balcony, overlooking the hills and lake. He stared at nothing in particular for several minutes. Then laid down in his hammock and fell asleep for the rest of the night. Yes sir, he had a fine cabin.
We're Air Force Special Tactics, and our motto is "First There...That Others May Live."
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