"Razor" Prologue 1991
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ROOFTOP, KARKH DISTRICT, BAGHDAD: 1991
"Target is acquired, Wolfsden. Repeat, target is acquired. Over." Lt. John
Grey Crow said into the handset, the rest of the squad crouched in the deep
shadows on the roof of the building. The sky over Baghdad was lit with
anti-aircraft search lights and flares to try and minimize the advantage of
the Allied stealth aircraft that was bombing with such efficiency. The CIA
communications puke was double checking the encrypted comcast signal, over
the briefcase sized SATCOM system, and Crow found his lip curling in distaste.
"You have grid reference Echo Delta four two six niner three eight five
niner pinpointed. Confirm." John waved over Specialist Watts with the map.
Watts checked the location against the GPS on the SATCOM rig to be sure. He
nodded and Lt. Grey Crow keyed his handset again.
"Roger. Echo Delta four two six niner three eight five niner."
"Very well, Wolfpack four. Paint the target. ETA is approximately six
"Six minutes, Wolfsden. Confirmed. See you at the dust-off." John keyed off
the handset, and the Agency man began to repack the equipment. "Marion, six
minutes. Get to work."
"Yes sir." Specialist Marion Watts hoisted up the boxy laser and adjusted
it on his shoulder. Built to throw a beam of focused light up to three
thousand metres under optimum conditions, it created a beam along which the
cruise missile would hone in on and follow direct to its target.
According to their briefing, the target in question was a bio-weapons lab,
where the Iraqis were attempting to produce bio-weapons to unleash as they
left Kuwait. Obviously, the Allies were not keen on this happening, and the
US Army Rangers had been tapped to infiltrate Baghdad and paint the targets
located by Allied intelligence for neutralization by cruise missile
bombardment. It was an extremely dangerous mission, and had to be kept
absolutely secret. According to CNN and all reports, the smart' bombs were
self guided, homing in on their targets via sophisticated computer brains.
In reality, they required a man on the ground to act as a pathfinder, and
if the Iraqis learned that, Baghdad would become a death trap for those men.
"After the target is neutralized, we move to the school, correct?" The CIA
man asked, and Grey Crow resisted the urge to slap him. Didn't the man
listen at briefings.
"No, Agent Sung. Sgt. Sagatuk is reconing the building first. Once he gives
the signal, we can move. Hopefully before the target is reduced to rubble."
Lt Grey Crow said, adjusting the M- 16 Commando carbine on his shoulder and
mentally wishing that Sung would just disappear. The CIA had insisted on
sending one of their men with each team, to safeguard the prototype
encrypted communications gear they had been supplied with. However, no
matter how good they might be with encryption and scramblers, the agents
weren't Rangers, and their lack of training showed quickly.
"Right." Agent Sung nodded and sat back against the wall, wiggling his toes
inside the combat boots and occasionally running a hand over the case with
the SATCOM inside, like a father soothing a child.
Lt. John Grey Crow snapped his PVS-4's back over his eyes, and his world
was transformed into a green tinted reality by the night-vision goggles. He
swept back and forth along the allies and the streets, silent from the
curfew. Watts shifted slightly, easing the laser into a more comfortable
position. John turned back, stalking over to the doorway leading from the
roof and opened up the audio channel on his PRC-77 handset.
"Baer, Quested. Sitrep?"
"Clear." Baer said first, his gentle bass rumbling over the headset. He was
at the turn in the stairwell, about halfway down, the big M-60 slung and
ready incase they were compromised. John touched the tone on his com,
enough to hear Quested in the background.
"Clear." Specialist Janos Quested was down by the street. It would be his
job to secure the street as the rooftop team cleared the building, and to
demo the lab if the missile failed. Lt. Grey Crow nodded in satisfaction.
"Acknowledged." He keyed off the set and settled down to wait, watching the
second hand of his chronometer crawl forwards.
"Lieutenant." Sagatuk's soft, shushing voice came over the com.
"Route is clear. Ready to penetrate at command."
"Acknowledged. Hold for command."
Four minutes, three minutes, two minutes, one minute. He got up and tapped
Agent Sung, jerking a thumb towards the stairwell. The CIA man nodded and
loped off to join Baer. John tapped Watts shoulder, and the man nodded. At
thirty seconds, he killed the laser, knowing that the missile had acquired
the target on its own system and was angling in. Both men hit the
stairwell, and rushed to the bottom. Quested was in the street, M-16
tracking back and forth for movement.
There was a soft whoosh sound, like a hammer striking a pillow, followed by
a roar as the missile slammed into the building they had targeted. The
night was split by the thunderous explosion as the two story building
erupted in a fountain of rubble and fire. The Ranger team dashed across the
street, slipping through the hole in the fence that Sagatuk had cut. There
was a dead Iraqi soldier lying in the shadow of the door, blood seeping
from the wound on his back. Grey Crow wondered for a moment why they'd have
a military guard on a school when they reached the doorway and cleared
through it into the school garage.
At least, into what should have been the school garage.
"Hallie " John growled, and the big man just shrugged.
"This is where the school garage should be, Lieutenant. Blame
Intelligence." Sgt. Sagatuk said, sweeping left and right with his rifle.
The room was white and tiled, like part of a hospital. Grey Crow motioned
the team and they moved forward like wraiths towards the steel doors at the
far end. There was a security lock in place, but the explosions had
disrupted power in the area, leaving it dead. Grey Crow was about to force
it when Sung stopped him.
"Wait. These places often have independent power supplies. Let me try." The
CIA man moved forward, and pulled the casing off the lock. Two tiny lights
blinked in the middle of the wiring, indicating that power was on. Sung
pulled a tangle of wires and circuit boards from his pouch, and clamped two
alligator clips at points along the circuitry. He carefully snipped two
wires, and a light flickered green as the door unlocked. Quested opened it,
allowing Baer to step in, M-60 in front.
"This is new."
The squad entered the room, clearing the corners and doors before scanning
around the contents. The room was a pristine environment, counters all in
brushed steel and stacked with all manner of medical equipment. Along the
one wall was row after row of giant freezers, each with a large
BIO-HAZARD' label in Arabic stamped on it. Grey Crow looked around the
room and frowned.
"Agent Sung, it might just be me, but this looks like how a bio-weapons
labs should look." He said slowly.
"I know. Which means "
"The folks in the States are going to watch a cruise missile blow up a
primary school on CNN during breakfast." Lt. Grey Crow finished, the word
FUBAR running across his mind.
"Orders, sir?" Watts asked.
"Alright." Grey Crow mulled for a second. "Our job was to level the
bio-weapons lab. That's what we do. Quested, what do you need to bring this
"Geez..." Janos turned slowly around the building. "Shaped charges to blow
the bottom floor. Offset satchel charges on each wall from the outside.
Primed with det-cord, set up on a time fuse firing system. Say, every stick
of C-4 we've got, and twenty minutes."
"You've got ten. Take Watts and Baer. Sergeant, this lab has to have some
form of transport. Truck, jeep, golfcart. I don't care what. Find it, and
see if there is any other security." John ordered. They all nodded and
left, each focused on the job they had been trained to be the best of the
"Lieutenant, look at this." Agent Sung had one of the clipboards in hand,
and was flipping through the contents. "I think we found something else."
"These charts. This isn't chemical or viral research. It looks to me like
they're working on genetics." Sung went over to the freezers and opened one.
"It really doesn't matter."
"I think it does." Sung leaned forward, checking the labels in the freezer.
"No, Agent Sung, it doesn't. In ten minutes, we are leaving, and this place
will be a bad memory."
"I can't allow that."
"You have no authorization to countermand my mission orders, Agent."
"Wrong again." Sung said, pulling out a sheet of paper. "Directive 353-F.
As the senior intelligence officer on the scene, I have the right to assume
command and issue orders in the case of the potential involvement with
assets relating to national security."
"Lieutenant, we didn't find a weapons lab. This is a genetic research lab.
Look at the samples in here. Unless I've guessed wrong, Saddam is
attempting to bring genetically modified humans into this theater." Sung
rubbed his chin for a moment. "Totally in violation of UN Accords
concerning augmented humans."
"Mutants. This lab is designed to try and make mutants. It's pretty
advanced too. This is a goldmine."
"In seven minutes, it's a crater."
"No, we have to get these samples."
"Agent Sung," John almost lost his temper. "We are deep in hostile
territory on a deadline. Any minute, the Iraqis will sort out what's
happened and start getting teams out to the bombed sites. If we're still
here then, we're dead."
"We take what we can carry." Sung's eyes darted around, and he smiled. He
rushed over to the one end of the room and came back with a pair of thick
cases in his hands. Sung laid them on the counter and opened them. Inside,
carved out of dense packs of foam insulator, were secure carrying slots.
"Start moving the samples into these. Take the ones with this designation."
Sung held up a vial and pointed to a piece of bright red Arabic script.
Grey Crow swallowed an obscenity and began to fill the cases.
"Now, I need some disks." Sung muttered to himself as Sagatuk re-entered
"Lieutenant. One other guard. Got him at his post, but his headset is
squawking. Good chance that we'll have company shortly."
"You found transportation?"
"Supply truck. Looks like an old ambulance. We'll have to drive it into the
ground, but it should get us back to the evac point."
"Good. Help Agent Sung over there."
"We need to get these samples and computer files out of here." Sung said.
"Only it's going to take me a few minutes at least to crack the encryption
on the computers before I can download. I can't think of a way to go faster."
"Are all the files on the computers safe if they get turned off?"
"Yes. Why?" Sung asked. Sagatuk drew his K-Bar knife and sliced through the
power cord, hoisting the hard drive on his shoulder and carrying it out to
the waiting truck. "Good idea."
By the time the demo team returned to the room, the rest of the samples had
been loaded. Watts looked at the pile of equipment in the back of the truck.
"What, we're taking souvenirs?"
"Shut up and get in the truck, Marion." Grey Crow growled, stressing Watts'
hated first name. They piled in, stepping around the cases and the hastily
stacked computer towers. Baer wedged himself in the front seat, the M-60
tucked between his body and the car door. If they ran into trouble, he
could unship the weapon in seconds and lay down a blanket of fire at anyone
trying to stop them.
The truck careened into the street, jinxing left and right around the
parked cars. Sagatuk wrenched around the wheel, and they swerved off into a
side street, barreling down the narrow alley. Behind them, there was a
white flash, and a yellow-red cloud of flame rose up in the sky. The
explosion had gutted the centre of the building, and the walls, now
unsupported, were blown inwards, toppling in a ruin of brick and steel.
Sagatuk kept the truck moving in a crazy path, taking random streets and
alleys, moving indirectly but steadily away from the city. They finally
cleared the outskirts of Baghdad, and bypassed the checkpoints, running the
truck across the broken ground. Sung held on to the computers as best as he
could, hoping desperately that the jarring wouldn't damage them. They had
turned to the east, going over the train lines leading south and speeding
away from the grain fields and irrigated farms that surrounded the Iraqi
capital. While the area was still on alert, the ambulance shape of the
truck gave them a sort of unvoiced pass and they quickly entered the
harsher cracked grasslands. The truck jumped and bounced, the undercarriage
unfit for the type of hard-scrabble land they were driving across.
They were still a klick from the evac site when a ditch tore the front axle
away, and the truck shuddered to a grinding halt. The team leapt from the
vehicle and quickly distributed the extra computers and cases between
themselves. Grey Crow motioned them forward, he and Baer keeping there rear
secure in case of encounters. The kilometer of scrub and sand was eaten up
just before dawn, as they descended on the bulky shapes of the UH-60
Blackhawks. Only two of the four were there, the others dusting off as they
were filled. A brace of men rushed up to greet the Rangers, and a stockier
man came to the front.
"Do your shopping for the month, John?" First Lieutenant Harlen Eckers said.
"No sir. Orders from the CIA."
"Orders? Where is that little jizmball?"
"Under the case." Sung was getting the computers into the copters, yelling
with the co- pilot.
"I told you! We don't have room!"
"Then you goddamn make room!" Sung shouted back, red faced and furious.
"Agent!" Eckers said, coming up behind him. "The mission profiles didn't
include cargo. We don't have the extra room. Each of these birds have been
stripped down to gas and Rangers."
"Then leave a squad to be picked up later."
"Rangers do not leave men behind." Eckers hissed.
"I don't give a fuck. Those cases and computers are a matter of national
security. Which means they're worth more than you, me and every man here.
Either they go, or no one goes." Sung said.
"You don't have that authority."
"No, but when we get back, I will make my report to the DDI. He will make
his report to the Director, who will make his report to the President and
the Joint Chiefs. At which point, our President, who just happens to have
been the Director of the CIA, will have you court-martialed for gross
incompetence." Sung snarled.
"You little discharge." Eckers said, and was moving forward, towering over
the little man when one of the co-pilots came up.
"Lieutenant, we have to leave. Now."
"What about the extra gear?" Eckers said finally.
"We think we can arrange it. It'll be tricky, and we'll have to dump gear
to do it." Both men winced at the thought of leaving equipment behind, but
there was little choice.
"Alright. Strip down everything. I want it buried and boobytrapped. You
have ten minutes. Make it happen. As for you " Eckers turned back to Sung.
"You better hope what you have is that valuable, or I'm going to personally
nail your ass to the wall."
Sung turned his back on the Ranger and trotted over to the other agent in
the group, securing the supplies. With dizzying speed, the Rangers stacked
a shallow pit full of stripped weapons, supplies and ammunition. Quested
and Willis, the two demo experts, laced the pit with C4, and set the whole
pile to go up in a lethal cloud if the three pronged pressure fuse of the
Bouncing Betty they eased on the top was disturbed. The sand was spread
back over and ruffled, so it looked no different from the other sandy
breaks in the flat.
The Rangers jumped on the Blackhawks, which took off with a flat whine.
Lieutenant John Grey Crow sat on the edge, his harness locked to the side
rail and his feet dangling over the slowly lightening terrain of Iraq. His
eyes found Baghdad again, a cluster of lights in the distance, and as they
fled, he felt a brief moment of finality. Grey Crow wasn't sure, but he
felt in his bones that he wasn't leaving one thing as much as heading
towards something else. The Blackhawks sped into Allied airspace, leaving
Grey Crow to his thoughts in the dry dawn.