No, No, No!

"No. No. No!" Brock yelled as the helo started taking sporadic fire from one direction once low enough for them to fast line into the clearing. Unfortunately, the rotor noise alerted and attracted the attention of a small group of the tangos to their location. Now they would be forced to leave the rookie just when they thought they'd save his hide.

Refusing to leave Clay to a possible fate worse than death, Brock, of the opinion, in this case, that it would be better to ask for forgiveness than permission, seized the dangling rope with gloved hands. In a blink of an eye, Brock began his descent. If I survive this, Jason will have me running the hills until the end of time and probably kick me off Bravo, and that is before the brass will likely court-martial me for disobeying orders. But at this moment, Brock also believed the life of his teammate, his brother, was worth whatever price he would pay.

Shocked for only one second by Reynolds' dropping with Cerb attached to his chest, Sonny grabbed the line and followed him down.

Trent huffed at the rash actions and reached for the thick rope, but Ray's hand clamped on his bicep.

Ray shouted, "What do you think you're doing?"

Trent's decision to answer Ray in any way, shape, or form changed the instant Jason followed Sonny down, without ever bothering to inform HAVOC of their intentions. Instead, Trent wrenched his arm from Ray's hold, grasped the rope as bullets pinged the fuselage, and followed the master chief into hellfire. Yep, we'll all be facing disciplinary action.

The only one with an ounce of hesitation was Ray. He couldn't believe his eyes—but his heart had no problem accepting the conduct of his brethren. "You only die once," Ray said to no one since his team was all on the ground. He also reached for the fast line and silently prayed they all made it out of this without paying the ultimate price or cratering their careers. The helo was rising by the time he made it to the end of the long rope and had to drop the last five feet—his brothers covering him by maintaining fire at the trees.

This time Bravo ran toward the fight and neutralized the threat quickly. However, their relief was short-lived when the pilot communicated, "I'm losing fuel too fast. Must've taken a hit in my reserve tank. Sorry, boys, gotta head back to base."

"No. No. No!" Clay repeated as his situation went from bad to worse. Not only did his laser scope peter out, the infrared beam flickering twice before it disappeared, but his NODs batteries died too. Now in total darkness, the walls seemed to close in and squeeze his chest, making it difficult to breathe.

He tried digging his fingernails into the earth above him to create a handhold, intending to claw his way to the top, but the dirt only crumbled and rained down on his helmet.

"Work the problem," he muttered to himself, but no new solutions presented themselves to him.

"I'm truly fucked. What a stupid-assed way to die. I'll be listed as MIA, and the guys will never know what happened to me. Guess I don't need to worry about being kicked off Bravo now. So much for expunging Ashhole's footsteps … I'm the one who's been erased."

Though the mantra, 'never out of the fight,' rang in the back of his mind, Clay assessed the reality of his current situation and recognized his prospects of being found were rather bleak and most likely non-existent. There had only been a slim chance of Bravo glimpsing his bat signal, but now that was zero, and without a light to guide them to his below-ground spot, he would never be found.

"Damn … I'm in my grave."

"No. No. No!" Lisa muttered shortly after the repositioned CIA satellite came online.

"What?" Mandy asked as she returned with two coffees after arranging with someone who owed her a favor to allow them to use the CIA's infrared satellite since the Air Force Captain had denied them the use of a drone. She only wished she'd called in the marker earlier—the team wouldn't have been blindsided if she had.

Frustrated by two things, Lisa turned to take the offered cup. "For a brief second, I saw an infrared beam and recalled when Clay fell in the basement and sent up that light show for Ray. It might've been Clay, but it disappeared before I got a lock on it. And now this …" she pointed to another laptop screen.

"The weather report just updated … that huge thunderstorm is rolling in hours earlier than forecasted. Clay's going to be drenched, and if he's alive, in for one helluva cold, miserable night. And the guys are going to have a rough flight back to base."

Her gaze moved to the pompous cake-eater who was more concerned about missing the HVT than about a missing SEAL. A spurt of hatred rose as she said, "Krasbuckle will likely ground the helos, so Bravo is gonna be thoroughly ticked off they can't return to find—"

Lisa abruptly halted as, "Bravo One to Havoc," crackled through the comms.

Both she and Mandy turned towards the mike as Blackburn said, "Havoc, go ahead, Bravo One."

"Be advised, Chalk One took fire and is losing fuel. Had to lighten the load for them to make it back. All Bravo elements are on the ground and Charlie Mike to what we believe to be Bravo Six's location."

"Good copy. Find our boy. I'll arrange a secondary exfil once you locate Six." Eric raked a hand through his hair, the raised arm successfully hiding his features. Relieved, he silently applauded their action and began thinking about how he would save their asses from Captain Krasbuckle's reprisal.

Lisa stood and reached for the mike, as she said, "Exfil might be a problem; need to give the guys a weather update." Though Blackburn gave her a quizzical look, he handed the comms to her. "Bravo One, you're in for a soaking … storm coming faster than expected."

She wanted to add, 'unlikely secondary exfil can occur tonight,' but refrained, leaving that part to Blackburn to sort out. That's why he got paid the big bucks, well, bigger paychecks than her for sure … and he was damned good at getting whatever Bravo needed and keeping the guys out of hot water.

After giving the handset back to the lieutenant commander, Lisa resumed her seat and caught a glimpse of the infuriated captain and decided Blackburn was grossly underpaid for the shit he had to put up with. Refocusing on the screen as Blackburn spoke to Jason, she received a text with their GPS location from Ray, and it seemed to be near where she thought she had seen the beam.


Sorry about the long wait and short chapter ... life hasn't been kind to me lately ... too many curve balls sent my way. I hope to post more regularly and longer chapters moving forward. Happy reading.