Hot Velocity(2)

By: Elle James

The world erupted.

T-Rex was flung backward, landing hard on his back, the breath knocked from his lungs. Stunned, he lay for a second, staring up at the stars overhead, shining like so many diamonds in the sky until the dust and debris from the blast obliterated the night. Then he remembered how to breathe and sucked in a huge lungful of dust. The popping sound of gunfire came from above and all around.

T-Rex rolled toward the shadows of a building and bunched his legs beneath him. Bullets rained down around him, kicking up puffs of dirt near his feet.

Raising his weapon to his shoulder, T-Rex scanned the rooftops through the cloud of dust.

A man stood above him, aiming an AK47 in his direction.

His ears still ringing, T-Rex pinned the man in his sights and fired. One shot. The man fell to the ground, his weapon clattering on the rocky street.

T-Rex quickly scanned neighboring rooftops and the road ahead. Nothing moved there, but the world was pure chaos behind him.

He spun and ran toward the others, his heart hammering in his chest, his head still spinning from the detonation of the concussion grenade.

His men were pinned to the sides of the building, by a single fighter wielding a machine gun from his position near to where his comrade had been standing when T-Rex had taken him out.

T-Rex knelt, aimed, but his vision blurred. He blinked, gaining a clearer shot. His finger tightened on the trigger. He fired one round, and the fighter fell, dropping the machine gun to the street below.

Farther ahead, three of his men were exchanging gunfire with two fighters hiding out between the buildings. How the hell had they missed them?

Their training kicked in and they leap-frogged, providing each other cover as they worked their way to the fighters and knocked them out, one by one.

T-Rex hurried to where Gunny lay in the rubble of the building damaged by the grenade.

The man lay so still, T-Rex’s gut knotted. He bent to feel for a pulse. At first, he could feel nothing. He held his breath and shifted his finger. That was when he felt the reassuring vibration of a heartbeat. Quickly scanning the man’s arms and legs, he noted the tears in his clothing where shrapnel had penetrated. None of the wounds was bleeding profusely. If Gunny had sustained an arterial wound, T-Rex was prepared to apply a tourniquet. But he hadn’t.

Chief Petty Officer Miles Kieslowski ran up to him. “Sir, we got incoming enemy reinforcements. We have to get out of here while we can.” He stared down at the man covered in dust. “Damn.” He glanced up into T-Rex’s gaze. “Is he...”

“Alive. But I don’t know the extent of his injuries.”

“Let’s get him out of here.” Kieslowski started to lift Gunny. “Kenner is on the radio, calling in for pickup.”

“No. I’ve got him,” T-Rex said. “You cover me.” He handed his rifle to Kieslowski. With his hands free, he pulled Gunny to a sitting position and then draped the man’s body over his shoulder. Straightening, he felt the strain on his back and legs. But nothing would stop him from bringing his man out. Never, in all of his skirmishes, had he left a man behind. He wouldn’t start now.

With his burden, T-Rex hurried toward the designated extraction site. As he emerged from the village into the open, he spotted several trucks in the distance, stirring up dust as they barreled toward them. In the light from the moon, T-Rex could tell the men loaded in the backs of those trucks all carried weapons.

The thundering roar of helicopter rotors sounded nearby as the aircraft rose up over the hill behind the village and landed a couple of hundred yards from where T-Rex had stopped to catch his breath. The other marines from his team knelt behind him, firing at the village, as more enemy fighters came out of hiding.

T-Rex had one goal: to get his men to the waiting chopper and out of there before they were outnumbered. As he reached the helicopter, he gave over Gunny’s care to the medic on board and turned toward his team.

Several of them ran toward him, while the others returned fire, backing up as they did. When they were out of range of rifle fire, they ran toward the aircraft and leaped in.

T-Rex stood beside the vehicle, helping his men board. When the last man was in, T-Rex climbed in, yelling, “Go! Go! Go!”

As he settled into his seat, he noted the trucks had stopped short of the village. Several men climbed out carrying long narrow tubes. “They’ve got RPGs!” he yelled.

The helicopter couldn’t move fast enough for T-Rex. It lifted off the ground with its heavy load of souls on board and swung back toward the hill.

They had just made it to the ridge when an explosion went off so close, it made the chopper shudder.

Instinctively, T-Rex ducked.

They made it over the ridge and dropped out of the line of sight of the truck and the RPG-bearing fighters.

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