GI Joe Headquarters, UtahHawk walked into the briefing room in the underground base of the GI Joe team to see the strike team he’d selected was already seated and waiting. Hawk looked across the table to Hit&Run as he headed toward the front.
“Get the lights.”
The light infantryman nodded and flipped the lights off as Hawk turned on the slide projector.
The first slide was a photo of a man with a strange looking gold helmet on, with a monocle in his right eye and wearing a green and black tunic. A gold-coloured cloth mask obscured the bottom half of his face, like a bandit in an old cowboy movie.
“This is Overlord,” Hawk began. “Former Crimson Guardsman who has left the organisation. According to our defector, Stratton, Overlord left a few months ago after disagreeing with Cobra Commander over the direction he’s taken Cobra in. CIA has picked up chatter in the mercenary and independent espionage communities that Overlord’s been recruiting personnel. Until now, that’s all we’ve had to go on.”
Hawk hit the button for the next slide.
“This is a house in the foothills of the Appalachians. A joint FBI-ATF investigation has uncovered evidence of it being used by Overlord’s new organisation. The house and its property are owned by a corporation called International Logistics Company. That, we think, is a front. I.L. Co. is an anagram for Coil, which a CIA informant reported was the name for Overlord’s group.”
The slide showed a two-level house set amongst trees with the smaller mountains of the Appalachians in the distance. Hawk cued up the next slide. This one was an overhead map of the area.
“The house came to the attention of federal authorities after a pair of hikers heard automatic weapons fire and followed it to the edge of the property where they witnessed several uniformed men conducting target practice. They reported it to the FBI, believing that the men might be terrorists of some kind. The FBI and ATF investigated and discovered the house’s ownership and the tax forms filed for International Logistics.”
Hawk quickly clicked through the next few slides, showing property deeds, tax forms and other legal malarkey.
“FBI and ATF mounted a covert surveillance of the house and property,” Hawk went on, as the next slide loaded. This was a photo showing several men in green and black uniforms, wearing black masks, carrying sub-machine guns. The next few slides showed more of the masked men, on the property.
“They concluded the house was definitely of interest and began digging into the company’s records more deeply.”
The next slide showed three helicopters parked in a hangar at a small airfield.
“International Logistics maintains these helos at a nearby airfield, where federal agents counted a minimum of sixty personnel present at all times. It’s likely these are Coil troops, capable of supporting defence of the house.”
The next slide showed Overlord outside the house, talking to several Coil troops.
“We believe Overlord to be present at the house. You are tasked with assaulting the house and capturing Overlord if he is present. Your secondary objective is to gather any materials at the house which might provide further intelligence.”
Hawk clicked off the projector and Hit&Run put the lights back on.
“Beach Head will lead the assault team. Ambush and Lowlight provide over-watch. Mainframe, if they have any computer’s present, your job is securing them for study.” Hawk looked around the group. “Questions?”
Spearhead put a hand up. “What are our engagement rules?”
“Shoot to kill, capture Overlord, everyone else is expendable.”
Repeater raised his hand. “What about the airfield?”
“We’ll have federal agents monitoring that for launch of the helos.”
“What’s our extraction plan?” Beach Head asked.
“Lift Ticket will extract you from the house in a Tomahawk. Wild Bill will be on station to provide close air support for the extraction in the Locust.”
Appalachian foothills, Georgia
Shortly before dawn, next morning
Ambush and Lowlight moved into position, moving carefully to the top of the ridgeline. Bother were wearing ghillie suits to make them harder to spot amongst the undergrowth. Ambush carried his scoped assault rifle, whilst Lowlight was carrying his usual sniper rifle. The reached the ridgeline, set up their weapons and adjusted the scopes to sight on the house.
Behind them, the assault team was moving along a narrow path. Beach Head was behind Spearhead who had point. Recoil was bringing up the rear, with Hit&Run and Repeater in the middle with Mainframe.
“Sniper team in position,” Lowlight reported over his radio.
“Strike team, go,” Beach Head ordered as they moved down the hillside, away from the sniper team’s position. “Engage Coil troops on sight.”
“Roger that,” Spearhead said as he moved ahead.
“Solid copy,” Hit&Run added as he began to move out to take the flank position.
Spearhead was moving ahead, keeping his eyes out for Coil troopers among the trees. Suddenly he felt something catch his leg. He glanced down, expecting it to be some bush’s branch, but he realised it was a tripwire.
“Down!” He screamed, throwing himself to the ground.
Bouncing Betty mines erupted from the ground as he hit the deck, spinning up into the air.
The other members of the strike team had already dived for cover at Spearhead’s warning.
The mines exploded, showering the area with their razor shards that ripped through the trees and bushes. Some of the shrapnel pinged off the team’s helmets and body armour.
“Sound off!” Beach Head hollered.
“Recoil in the green.”
“Mainframe shaken but okay.”
“Spearhead’s embarrassed but fine.”
The team got to their feet, but had barely shaken themselves off when gunfire began raining down from the ridge to their left.
“Ambush!” Beach Head screamed. “Targets left side! Left side!”
The Joes began returning fire.
Suddenly there was the whistle of incoming shells before the trees and bushes exploded.
“They’ve got this area presighted for mortar fire!” Recoil hollered.
Smoke grenades began to explode ahead of them, blanketing the woods with thick smoke.
“Counter-attack into the smoke!” Beach Head yelled. “Push, push, push!”
The Joes ran forward, firing from the hip. Mainframe struggled to keep up as he ran, carrying his portable computer along with his kit.
“Mainframe, you’re gonna get hit by a mortar! Lose them in the smoke! Go, go, go!” Beach Head shouted as he ran past.
A Coil trooper loomed out of the smoke, a sub-machine gun levelled at Mainframe. He fired his MP5 sub-machine gun one-handed, wildly spraying a burst into the Coil trooper’s chest.
The team moved ahead of Mainframe, engaging a dozen Coil troopers before emerging from the smoke cloud.
“Two vehicles leaving the target building,” Ambush reported over the radio.
“Don’t let them get away!” Beach Head yelled back.
“Roger, firing anti-tank weapon, danger close.”
Beach Head turned toward the driveway, where two small SUVs were racing down the unpaved track.
Hit&Run sprayed one of the vehicles with bullets, but they pinged off the bodywork.
“Anti-tank weapon, danger close!” Beach Head shouted, “Get back from the road!”
“Bloody hell, those vehicles are bullet-proof!” Recoil shouted as he fired his own M16 at the SUVs.
A rocket slammed down out of the sky, obliterating the lead vehicle before a second rocket blasted apart the trailing vehicle.
“Moving vehicles neutralised,” Lowlight reported calmly. “Be advised, we have not, repeat we have not spotted Overlord and no one else has left the house. Those jeeps may have been decoys, over.”
“Roger that,” Beach Head replied, finally speaking more normally. “We’re advancing on the house.”
The strike team moved forward. A pair of Coil troopers opened fire from inside the house, but they were cut down by Repeater’s machine gun.
“Breach and clear, go, go, go!” Beach Head ordered.
Hit&Run and Spearhead moved to the front door, taking positions either side, as Repeater and Beach Head moved to cover them, whilst Recoil watched the team’s backs and Mainframe tried to stay out of the way. The computers specialist was breathing hard and hated to admit it, but he was out of shape and unused to all this running around.
Spearhead slapped a shaped charge on the front door, the charge detonated, blowing the door in, splintered wood flying everywhere as he and Hit&Run pivoted in through the door, weapons up.
A Coil trooper charged them from the door to the kitchen. Hit&Run cut him down with a burst from his M4. Another was charging forward from a room at the rear. Spearhead shot him, the burst taking the gunman in the face, before pivoting right and dropping another Coil trooper springing to his feet from behind a desk.
“Front room, clear!” Spearhead called as Beach Head and Repeater moved in to the house.
“Recoil, make sure no one leaves through the kitchen,” Beach Head ordered as Spearhead kicked in the door of the office off the front room.
“Kitchen clear,” Recoil reported seconds later.
“Hit&Run, clear the upstairs with Spearhead. Breach and clear any locked rooms.”
The two infantrymen moved up the stairs, checking a mezzanine seating area was clear, before checking the bathroom. They cleared the first bedroom, finding a room bare of anything except a dozen sleeping bags.
As the pair moved to the second room, a Coil trooper threw open the door. Spearhead fired, dropping the gunman before he could react.
The final bedroom was locked. Hit&Run slapped the breaching charge on the door. The door exploded and Spearhead leaped through the door, dropping a Coil trooper crouched by the room’s sole bed with a burst of fire. Another Coil trooper was charging toward him from the en suite when Hit&Run shot him.
“Top floor clear!” Spearhead shouted as he and Hit&Run moved to the top of the stairs. “Two coming down.”
On the ground floor, Mainframe had already sat down, opened up his portable computer and was getting to work on the Coil computers.
“Ground floor secure,” Recoil said.
“Top floor secure.” Spearhead changed magazines on his assault rifle.
Beach Head nodded to Hit&Run. “Take Recoil and check the basement for enemy activity, breach and clear, go.”
The two infantrymen moved to the staircase at the side of the kitchen.
“Beach Head seems very serious,” Hit&Run commented.
“Hm,” Recoil grunted. “I think it’s because he’s finally commanding an op without Duke or Flint looking over his shoulder.”
Recoil pulled out a flash-bang and flicked the pin clear, “Fire in the hole!”
The thunder-flash bounced off the wall of the staircase, before hitting the floor of the basement and exploding in a bright light and overwhelming roar of noise.
“I got your back, Recoil,” Hit&Run said as Recoil moved around the corner of the stairs and into the basement.
The pair moved to a small laundry room, which was empty. They moved to the narrow corridor leading away from the main basement room. Two locked doors, one either side.
“Left or right?” Recoil asked, grinning.
“Right,” Hit&Run said, slapping his next breaching charge on the left door.
The door exploded inward, to reveal another room with sleeping bags on the floor, a pair of large glass doors at the back and three Coil troopers running out them.
The two Joes shot them in the back.
“Beach Head, we’ve got a boat house down on the shore of the lake. We’re going to check it out,” Recoil reported over his walkie-talkie.
Hit&Run reloaded his M4 as he and Recoil moved down the path to the boathouse. A large wooden sailboat was inside. The Joes exchanged a shrug after checking inside it and jogged back to the house.
“Boathouse clear,” Hit&Run reported before setting his next charge on the last door.
Beach Head’s acknowledgement was drowned out by the door exploding. Recoil shot the one Coil trooper in the room.
“Basement secure,” Recoil reported. “We’ve found their arms cache.”
The room was indeed an armoury, with racks of assault rifles, sub-machine guns and automatic pistols on the walls, a pair of light machine guns stripped for cleaning atop a work-bench and several boxes of ammo, grenades, mines and demolition charges.
“A veritable cornucopia of mayhem,” Hit&Run commented. “Let’s hope we don’t need any of it.”
They headed back upstairs to where Beach Head was watching Mainframe work.
“No sign of Overlord,” Hit&Run commented.
Hawk’s voice came over the radio.
“Beach Head, this is Hawk. What’s the situation?”
“About thirty hired guns, but no sign of Overlord, sir,” Beach Head answered.
“Perhaps our intel was off,” Hawk commented.
“Well, the quality of the intel’s about to improve,” Beach Head answered, looking around the front room, where diagrams, photos and other documents were pinned to moveable boards, the walls and scattered across the desks. “This place is a damn goldmine.”
“Roger that, Beach Head. Have your team collect everything you can for an operations playbook. Names, contacts, places, everything.”
“Already on it, sir,” Beach Head replied. “Mainframe’s on the computers already and Spearhead’s photographing everything.”
Hit&Run looked around to see the pointman was indeed taking photos of all the boards and the documents, careful to avoid touching it as much as he could.
“Good work, sarge,” Hawk said. “We’re ready with the extraction force as soon as you need us.”
Lowlight’s voice cut in over the radio. “Be advised, you have a large concentration of hostiles moving in from the southeast, they’ve just breached the perimeter! I’ll try to thin ’em out before they get too close.”
Beach Head looked annoyed, so far as Recoil could judge his expression behind the balaclava he wore. “The Coil are going to do everything they can to stop us getting out of here with this intel. We need to give Mainframe time to crack those computers. Hit&Run, Recoil, cover the south-east. Repeater, cover the front door. Spearhead, you and me cover the west. Move!”
Sniper rifle fire and the odd burst of automatic gunfire punctuated the quiet of the area as Ambush and Lowlight fired on the advancing Coil troops.
Hit&Run and Recoil moved to the windows looking out on that side of the house. They could just about make out the Coil forces’ bright green uniforms among the trees.
“Hostiles closing in,” Hit&Run shouted. “Firing!”
He and Recoil began taking out whichever target they could see. Some of the Coil troopers began firing back, bullets slapping into the wooden house’s walls.
“I’ve got eyes on an RPG team moving in from the south-west!” Ambush warned them.
“Got it,” Repeater replied. “RPG team moving in from the south-west.”
The Ranger opened fire with his hip-mounted machine gun, bullets spraying out to cut them down.
The Coil troops were making faint progress, either being gunned down by the Joes inside the house, or sniped by the team on the ridgeline.
Spearhead and Beach Head were firing on the Coil troops coming from the west as well as Repeater. Behind them Mainframe had given up trying to access the computers and was busy unscrewing the case of one of the PCs instead.
Lowlight’s voice came over the radio circuit again, “I have eyes on additional hostile forces moving in on your position. They’re approaching from the solar panels east of the house.”
“Roger that,” Recoil replied. “I’ll try to cut them off as they come through the trees!”
Automatic weapons fire clattered about the house as the Joes kept up their fire.
Hit&Run changed magazines in his M4 and then announced, “Last mag!”
“Everyone sound off your ammo state!” Beach Head hollered.
“Two mags left,” called out Spearhead.
“Two hundred rounds and falling,” Repeater said after checking his ammo belt.
“Three mags,” Recoil reported.
“I’m down to two, as well,” Beach Head said.
“I’ve still got five for my MP5,” Mainframe called out.
“Hit&Run, grab us some ammo from the armoury. The rest of you, try to conserve ammo. Repeater, I want you to swap the MG for Mainframe’s gun. We might need that baby for when we evac,” Beach Head ordered.
Hit&Run ran across the room, into the kitchen and headed down to the basement as Repeater moved back from the front door, lowered his light machine-gun to the floor before moving to grab Mainframe’s MP5 and his spare magazines.
In the basement, Hit&Run found a pair of black holdalls. He looked through the magazines, found several boxes of 5.56mm ammo in NATO standard mags and shoved them into one of the bags. A box of 9mm NATO STANAG magazines for sub-machine guns went into the second bag, along with a bandolier holding 40mm grenades suitable for Recoil’s M203. Hit&Run then found several landmines in two boxes and stuffed them in the bag as well.
Back in the main room, Hit&Run began sharing out the ammo, handing the 9mm ammo to Beach Head and Repeater; the bandolier of grenades to Recoil before splitting the 5.56mm ammo between Recoil, Spearhead and himself.
“I’m going out to mine the eastern approach, that’s where they’re concentrated,” Hit&Run told Beach Head. “Give me some cover, okay?”
“Roger that, mate,” Beach Head replied. Hit&Run hefted the bag and then headed for the kitchen’s door.
“This is Ambush, we’re starting to take return fire here. We’re displacing, you’re going to be without sniper support for at least ninety seconds.”
Hit&Run ran around the back of the house before moving to the east. He began carefully working his way along, planting Claymore mines and Bouncing Betties in a firing line behind trees and the odd fallen trunk, boulder or other obstacles. Gunfire crackled around him. He suddenly heard the sound of helicopters in the distance. Turning, he saw three Bell Twin Huey transports flying in.
“Enemy transport choppers coming from the south-west,” he reported over the radio.
“Hit&Run, use the rest of your claymores to cover the west side of the driveway and fall back to the house,” Beach Head ordered.
“Roger, I’m moving.”
As the light infantryman ran, he heard several of the mines exploding behind him as the Coil troops advanced.
Inside the house, Beach Head used the brief respite of reloading to turn to Mainframe. “How you getting on?” he asked.
Mainframe was busy unscrewing the fourth PC’s case. “I’ve pulled the hard-drives from the computers. It was taking me too long to try cracking their security. This way we can take the important part and do it at our leisure back at the PIT.”
“Good thinking,” Beach Head said.
The three Hueys hovered a good ten feet off the ground, their side doors opening before some ropes were thrown out.
“A case of cold ones to whoever can hit four of them before they reach the ground,” Beach Head said.
As the Coil troopers began fast-roping out of the helicopters, the Joes opened fire.
Hit&Run crashed in through the kitchen doorway, startling Mainframe.
“Hey, you’ve got the bag still,” Mainframe said. “Good. Grab the hard-drives and put them inside. I’m nearly done here.”
Hit&Run grabbed the indicated parts and stuffed them into the hold all.
“Hawk, this is Beach Head, we’re ready for evac. We’ve got hostiles around us, we’re going to have to fight our way out.”
“Roger that, we’re lifting off now, will advise.”
Mainframe took his MP5 back off Repeater who heft his light machine-gun once more. Explosions shook the house as the Coil troops reached the second minefield.
“Lowlight, this is Beach Head, we’re getting ready for evac here, what’s your situation?”
“We’re ready to evac. We’ll make our own way out and call in for pick up from another LZ. We’re not going to be able to get to you easily from here.”
“Copy, be careful,” Beach Head replied.
The Ranger turned to the rest of the team, “Extraction point is the field down the hill to the west. The Coil troops are between it and us. Don’t get pinned down, keep running and only fire at what you have to.”
The rest of the team nodded.
“Let’s do this,” Beach Head said.
Hit&Run led the way out the door, Spearhead close behind him. The pair had point since Hit&Run knew where the mines were.
The team sprinted across the house’s garden, scrambled over the fence and into the western field. Coil troops appeared from around some stables. Repeater slowed enough to fire his machine gun in a pair of short bursts to send them diving for cover. Recoil fired a grenade in that direction to put them off as well.
The team kept running.
A small force of Coil troops intercepted them at the top of the hill; Repeater gunned three of them down, before the others shot the rest.
Suddenly a mortar shell exploded behind them. Beach Head staggered, nearly falling over, but managed to stay upright.
Two more mortar rounds dropped off to their right. Another landed closer to the left. Spearhead was knocked off his feet, but scrambled back up.
“They’re bracketing our position with mortars, keep moving but watch your back! Go! Go! Get to the LZ! Keep moving!” Beach Head shouted.
The team barrelled down the hill as two more shells exploded near them.
The Joes ran on, into the field where the evacuation helicopter was due to arrive.
“This is Hawk, we’re two minutes out, what’s your status?”
“We’re taking mortar fire and need air support!” Recoil shouted as another shell landed near by.
This time the shell landed close enough to lift Mainframe off his feet and slam him back down hard.
Beach Head hefted the Marine to his feet. “I’ve got you, Mianframe, hang on! Wild Bill, I’ve popped red smoke in the treeline! Standby to engage on my mark!”
“Roger that. I have a visual on the red smoke. Standing by,” the pilot replied as his Locust sped toward the field.
Beach Head fire a burst back toward the pursuing Coil troops, before guiding Mainframe onward. The Marine was starting to come around.
“Wild Bill, you’re cleared hot!” Beach Head shouted once he was sure that he and Mainframe were far enough from the smoke.
“Roger that, cleared hot. Guns, guns, guns.”
The tiny single-seat helicopter roared over their heads before cutting loose with the side-mounted twin guns. Trees exploded as the shells ripped through the Coil troopers.
Ahead of them, the familiar and welcome sight of a Tomahawk greeted them as it pivoted overhead before dropping toward the ground.
Hawk stepped down the rear ramp as Recoil, Hit&Run and Spearhead ran toward it.
The three infantryman passed Hawk without comment. Repeater crouched near the helicopter’s tail, his machine gun ready as Wild Bill danced the Locust across the sky, firing his guns at the Coil troops. Beach Head helped Mainframe to the rear ramp.
“Is he alright?” Hawk asked as they reached the ramp.
“I’m not sure,” Beach Head answered. “He got thrown about by a mortar explosion.”
Hawk waved to where Stretcher was sitting further forward. “Get him checked out by the medic.”
Hawk turned toward Repeater, “Move your ass, Ranger, or you’re getting left behind!”
Repeater sprang up, span smoothly on one foot and ran up the ramp.
Hawk keyed his intercom headset. “We’re clear, Lift-Ticket, get us out of here!”
The Tomahawk lifted up and dipped its nose as the veteran pilot flew away.
Hawk closed the ramp and moved forward.
“Where are Ambush and Lowlight?” he asked.
“We need to pick them up,” Recoil answered, wiping sweat from his face with his sleeve. “They opted to evac a different way, rather than trying to link up with us.”
Hawk headed for the cockpit.
“Lowlight, this is Hawk,” he radioed. “What’s your location?”
“Ambush and I are on the western shore of the lake. We managed to avoid the Coil troops, but we could use a ride out of here.”
“Roger, stand by and we’ll find you.”
Hawk looked back at Mainframe and Stretcher as Lift Ticket brought the Tomahawk around.
“How is he?” Hawk asked.
“Slightly concussed, shaken up with some cuts and bruises, but he’ll be fine in about a week.” Stretcher didn’t look up from where he was putting a dressing on a gash on Mainframe’s arm.
“Good, we’ll pick up our snipers and then head back to the airfield to refuel.”
Beach Head took Spearhead’s camera from the point man and the holdall from Hit&Run.
“We got the hard drives from their computers and photos of their plans. Hope it was worth it,” Beach Head said.
“If we stop even one Coil attack, it’s worth it,” Hawk replied. “Good work everyone.”
Recoil didn’t hear him; he’d already nodded off to sleep.