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Keep your head down

Marieke J. Treloar

When every man, ever presented to her had been a boy then along came a man.

She had encountered him before when he was just a green lieutenant, who had been lost and alone in a war-torn city.

He had no fear a stupid state to be in, to her way of thinking. Silly idiot was about to have his head taken off.

She and her sergeant had watched from their concealed roof top in astonishment as the obviously very green yankie marine was decoyed away from his platoon.  Lured into a side alley by a distraught woman.  After leading him a merry chase she had detonated an I.E.D. that had rained debris down on him collapsing a wall and separating him from his men.  

The settling of the blast saw him raise from the dust like the cliché phoenix from the ashes.  Though big and young she knew that without her intercedence, he would be off to meet her long passed Scottish Sinn Seanair (grandfather) in a matter of moments.

He was about to come face to face with the enemy.  They were a nest of vipers and no matter how big and strong, their numbers would overwhelm him.  She had seen what they had done to their perceived enemy and she would not let it happen to this man.

"F@#ken cluster f#@k." She muttered and went to raise from her concealment.

"Damn it, Captain, get your bloody head down." Her Sergeant hissed grabbing at her arm to pull her back down.

"Sorry sergeant not this time."

"Captain!" Her sergeants growl no more than a whisper was full of anger and concern.

Looking into her eyes her sergeant sighed and released her arm. “This will be f@#ken fun, what do you want me to do?”

“The usual!" She grinned.

 "Yes, perform a f@#ken miracle." The Sergeant retorted.

"Once I get close, just open up the gates of hell." She smiled and stuck out her hand.  “Nice knowing you cousin.” 

The sergeant took her hand and they shook, their ritual goodbye in case neither returned.  "Nice knowing you too but you better bring your arse back, or Nanna is going to whip mine."

She threw her a devilish grin and replied. "I know."

Ripping off her Yowie suit she donned a hijab. The dark fabric obscuring all.

She made her way carefully over the debris of the buildings. Their strewn contents a testimony to the destroyed lives this meaningless conflict had created. The fabric of the garment hindering her progress.

Her training had only enhanced her natural stealth. She thanked Sinn Seanair for taking her hunting as a child. It never made a difference to him if his grandchildren were girls or boys. He made sure they all had the skills of survival. She smiled again to herself.  The cunning old fox more like the skills of battle, he had prepared her well for her calling.

A bullet whistled past close to her head causing her to duck. She had not heard the shot but only felt its impact on the stone wall next to her.

She froze.  ‘DAMN IT’ the shot had been a warning, she had almost walked straight into the nest of scum bag insurgents she was trying to save the Marine from.  They had doubled back and were now coming up on her rear.  Clever little sergeant she would have to get her for that one later.

She closed her eyes for a brief moment taking a deep breath an act she immediately regretted, she could now not only hear them but smell them too.

'What the hell did they never take a bath?' They smelt like a rotting roo that had been in the Aussie sun for a week. Only her control stopped her from puking up her guts.

By now she could have run the area blindfolded as they had been scouting it for more than a week.  Knowing full well that there was only one place that could be used as a safe extraction point if they could reach it that was.

Sending up another prayer to her Sinn Seanair she muttered softly.  “Come on you old Scottish fox I know you don’t want us up there yet drinking all your single malt.” Her prayer answered at the feeling of a cool breeze against her vailed cheek she smiled, time to secure her pray.

The sergeant would not break radio silence until she had him in her hands and she had an open alley to traverse first.

Hunching her shoulders like a little old woman she grabbed a stick and proceeded to hobble up the alley way, towards the place she knew he was hiding. Seriously hoping no one would look at her feet, no way she was taking off her boots for any man.

She started to mutter under her breath, counting on a man’s inbuilt survival tendency that sees them avoiding crazy women. Even these insane radicals were not that stupid, so much for their patriarchal shit. Her Arabic was passable ‘just’.

Once she was level with where she knew he was hiding, she dove into his lap, pushing him further into the building where he was secluded taking him by surprise.

He was on his back attempting to fight her off.

"Quiet," she hissed placing her hand over his mouth. Immediately stilling at her command.

She brought her face close to his ear. "All hell is about to break loose. Stay on my heels like shit to a blanket or you will die."

She saw his eyes widen.  He went to speak, and she struck him in the chest to silence him. He relaxed under her.  God, he felt so good, it had been too damn long since she had any fun.  

Raining in her raging libido and quickly bringing her mind back to the task at hand she commanded in a biting tone. "Understand.”

He nodded. 

She put her hand up and counted down with each finger 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. The ground rocked violently, and debris fell.  It sounded like a mortar had detonated mere feet from the entrance of their concealment. 

Then another and another they were quickly followed by automatic weapons fire.

She stood offered him a hand and pulled him to his feet. He was more attractive close up. Which surprised and pleased her greatly. He was covered in dirt and looked like some Greek Adonis that needed to be washed clean. She licked her lips.

Thank god for the hijab she thought as she felt her cheeks heat.

She turned and started to navigate the interior of the demolished building they were in.  They would need to go the long way around to ron de vu with her sergeant at the designated extraction point. An intact roof top, two treacherous blocks over. Okay it was cardio time.

She did not look back to see if he followed, she was giving him the chance but he was a big boy.  A very big boy and he would follow or not. After the first block of jumping, dodging and swerving debris she had her answer. She could hear his steady strong breaths. ‘Good he was a fit one.  Maybe….,’ she stopped abruptly her thoughts interrupted. 

Spinning and grabbing him she pushed him back into a darkened doorway.  Forcing his back into the wall. Shit, he was as hard as granite. Her whole body was pressed up against him. Every last long thick inch of him. She looked into his deep brown eyes and through the netting of the hijab, noticed how surprised he looked.

She waited as the small group passed them by unobserved.

Pulling on his webbing she dragged him back to the street and immediately started to sprint.  They had three minutes to make it or not and her mind was already working out contingency plans.

This would be f@#ken close.  Too close for her liking and her sergeant was going to be very pissed if they missed the chopper.

Making it to the ground floor of the extraction point, they now needed to climb.  The stairs to the first floor had been blown away by some previous conflict.

Sharp jagged points of steel reinforcing offered both hand holds and obstacles. She jumped and dragged herself up hand over hand until she could get a foot hold. She gasped softly and cursed as a shot of pain ran through her. She had dragged her belly over an unseen piece of sharp metal. ‘Crap that hurt.’

Ignoring the pain, she continued, turned only to see her Military man pull himself up with ease.  Without hesitation she gathered the fabric of the hijab that hindered her legs, the folds also hiding her injury. The warmth of her blood had already begun to soak the thick fabric as she started to sprint up the remaining four flights of stairs. Thirty seconds until extraction she could hear the incoming black hawks she knew if she did not make it, they would be screwed.

Automatic gun fire peppered the wall above her head.

'F@#k they are such bad shots. If you can't kill me with one shot, you will never have a chance' she thought.

"One bullet one kill." Sinn Seanair's favourite saying. 'You never know when you are going to need them so don’t waste them lassie.'

One more flight of stairs and ten seconds before EVAC. They were both breathing hard and she felt herself start to falter.

He was right behind her now. Not asking he just gathered her into his arms and kept moving her weight barely slowing his progress. He had her cradled in his arms like a child.

“Ah shit,” she would never live this one down.

Kicking the door open at the top of the stairs he walked straight into the sights of her sergeant's side arm.  The woman had toted all their gear to the evac point in anticipation of the bug out.  An AMR 50 cal rifle slung over one shoulder with the Captain’s beloved weapon a L115A3 Sniper Rifle inappropriately called ‘Lover Boy’ over the other. Her Sergeant had joked on more than one occasion that ‘Lover Boy’ had given the Captain more gratification and satisfaction than any man ever could. 

"For f@#k sake put me down." She cursed.

"I don’t think so Ma'am." His voice rich and smooth.

"Don’t call me 'MA'AM'!" She almost shrieked, then commanded "it's CAPTAIN, Lieutenant." 

Her sergeant did not bother to hide her amusement, only collecting the rest of their gear preparing for extraction.  Huffing to herself, she would definitely never live this down cradled like some helpless child in his arms.

Before another word could be uttered a black hawk swooped in, hovering a mere foot from the rooftop not landing.

The sergeant ran for the helicopter, screaming. "What the hell are you waiting for? move."

They climbed into the black hawk.

Her sergeant sat bemused as the young lieutenant pushed her hands away from her belly, ripped the hijab away to take a look at the wound before grabbing a field dressing from the pocket of his fatigues.

"That looks painful." Her sergeant grinned.

"Really, you think. Give me a headset." She ordered.

Her sergeant handing her one without delay.

"Commander ferals have infested our house, bring it down.  No family present." The quick coded message would see them joined within moments by two Australian F18 super hornets coming out of the sun.

Sheltering her eyes the sergeant asked. "Is that 'Bluey' and 'Wombat'.

"Yes." She grinned. "The house party is about to start, pity we had to pick up a damn hitch hiker or we could have stayed and played too." She looked pointedly at the lieutenant.

The black hawk landed, on the pad closed to the Command tent, a stretcher and medics were waiting to take her to medical.

"I can bloody-well walk." She pushed them away.

"Really, Captain." Her sergeant smiled.

"Get on the damn stretcher, Captain." His words a growl of command. Damn where did this bit of gorgeous steel come from.

"What?" She questioned. Not asking again he gathered her up and placed her down gently.

‘Shit’, she really was never going to live this one down.

"I'll go report Captain, get yourself sorted." Pulling on the young man’s arm she continued. "Come on Lieutenant they will want to hear what you have to say."

He reluctantly followed her sergeant.

"She’ll be fine, nothing much would put her down, you saw that wound most would not have been able to walk let alone run up three flights of stairs." She added.

"How do you know where she did it?" he enquired.

The sergeant smiled and pulled her shirt up slightly. "Because I did the same thing just not as badly as she did."

He looked at the matching wound on the sergeant’s belly.  True the injury was not as deep as the Captain’s, to him it looked as though it would need stitches.

"You need to get to medical too." He spat, immediately trying to herd her towards the medical tent.

The sergeant laughed. "Not bloody likely, I have some super glue with my gear that will take care of it."

After the debriefing, she escorted him to another helicopter. "This will take you back to your camp. For f@#k sake keep yourself out of trouble next time we might not be there to pull your fat out of the fire." She ordered. Her words almost lost with the noise of the helicopter.

After they had left the ground he watched as she snapped him a quick salute that included a cheeky wink.

Turning to the airman he asked, "Who were they?"

"Oh, there known as 'Double-Trouble'." The airman grinned.

He looked puzzled as the airman continued. "Their cousins from the Australian outback. You’re lucky. They normally don’t come out for anyone. Best recon team we have. They have been in and out of places that would have your gonads seizing up. Crazy bitches though. Don’t mess with them a couple of boys tried some shit on the Captain and found out the hard way why she is as deadly close up as she is at a mile away.

That sergeant too. She might be only five foot six, but she can bring you down to size. Keep on their good side, is all I am saying. If you are their mates, they would go into the pits of hell to save you. They did for a crew about a month ago and looks like they did for you too.

"What do you mean are you telling me it was only the two of them that got me out." he was having a 'WTF' moment. "What? I thought."

"Yeah, I know, amazing isn’t it how two crazy little dingo’s like that can make the enemy think they are surround by a whole f@#ken battalion.

"Who are they?" He enquired. "Sorry lieutenant, that’s classified. They are number one and two on the insurgents hit list so no names only rank. We call them 'Captain' and 'Sergeant' that’s all we need to know."

He was dropped back to his base and was immediately led to his base commander.

"Nice to see you made it in one piece, lieutenant your men have been going ape shit." The commander grinned. "Then again. Looks like you didn’t need their help."

"No Sir, I did however have assistance from two of our Australian comrades." He would never take the credit where it was due to another.

"Yes, I know, as soon as we were informed 'double-trouble' were with you we knew you would be okay. By the way their commander sends his thanks. They had been trying to get the two of them to come in for a good week." his commander laughed.

"What?" he could not hide his surprise.

"Apparently the 'Captain' had been refusing a direct command saying it was too dangerous for an extraction and they didn’t want anyone getting hurt unnecessarily."

"How long had they been out there?" he asked.

"Well over a month." the commander answered.

"Just the two of them." Astonished at their resolve.

"Yes. Would have loved to see them in action apparently they are two of the best."

The Lieutenant whistled and answered. "I would say that is the understatement of the century, by the way Sir, is the Captain alright?" it would have devastated him if he was alright and she was not. "That belly wound of hers was pretty bad."

"Yeah, seems she is already back in the lines and stirring up trouble as usual." The commander roared with laughter before continuing. "Well Lieutenant what have you learned from your little adventure?"


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