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DownInTheHole

Flashbang - GTA: Borders

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DownInTheHole

A flashback mission narrative, split into chapters, revolving around one of the protagonists, former U.S. military officer and drug smuggler Kaelan Kowalski, in the Grand Theft Auto: Borders concept that I might post in the near future. Gonna write a another one for the second protagonist if I have the time.

Flashbang

Chapter 1: Search And Destroy

2005, Turkmen Valley, Afghanistan.

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The hard-edged tires grazed against the bristles of sand as the two Crusaders picked up speed, leaving behind them a continuous, thick cloud of dirt as the large contraptions, built like miniature fortresses unscathed by time nor tide, rolled on down the mountain. Approaching the bombarded asphalt of the long stretch of highway, they made a hard right onto it, rolling past burnt-out wrecks of buses and cars long forgotten and neglected by an endless war, as the winds grew stronger by the second.

 

In the back seat of the first Crusader sat First Lieutenant Kaelan Kowalski, who began lighting up the Redwood he kept in his vest pocket for a while, winding down the rear window lazily as he tossed the used match out. Top 15% at OCS, a skilled marksman and one of the steadiest hands at Combat driving, his efforts were soon rewarded with a 4-year stint down at Camp Johansson, Santa Domingo (dubbed Camp Sh*thole by his compatriots), working admin for the 2nd U.S. Raiders Division and a warm welcome to the endless bureaucracy of the military hierarchy.

 

“Semper Fi my ass.” It was all the man had to say about this. When the opportunity for a tour down in sunny Afghanistan came running through, he went right for the kill and took it, supported and backed by the word of his wife of 6 years. Sure beats the life of endless paperwork, f*cking around with recruits and sh*tcanning AWOLers.

 

On the wheel was Staff Sergeant Dominic “Dom” DeShayes. Born and raised in the saccharine aftershave of Vice City, the man himself was likewise transferred to and stationed at Camp Johansson, where he soon became acquainted with his direct superior, a buddy whom he could depend his life on.

 

Situated in the other jeep were Corporal Remy Barker and Private First Class Harlan Stanley, not that any further introduction was needed. Both men hailing from the American South, Barker played the observer of quiet contemplation to Stanley’s foolish bruiser, and the platoon seemed to hold a consensus to this.

 

Reaching the charred end of the stick Kowalski tossed the finished cigarette out of the window, as the bombastic strings of “Walk Away From Love” came swelling through the jeep’s stereo. The officer checked his watch and weapon, it was 1748 hours and close to sundown and three days on the job, and still no sign of Major Harlow.

 

“This op’s turnin’ to sh*t. Ain’t nothin’ round here since the last two thousand clicks.” Said Stanley over the line. “Major’s probably getting’ his ass torn out by them hajis.”

 

“You ain’t wrong there, Stanley.” Laughed Kowalski, checking his battle rifle for defects. “Unfortunately, you can thank high command for handing out to us this clusterf*ck of a detail, so I’m afraid we’re not going back to camp till we find that man.”

 

“F*ckin’ waste of time, man.” Snarked the private, his voice noticeably irritated with the sudden fluctuation of static.

 

“Ever since we touched down on the damn sand we’ve been doin’ nothin’ but handin’ out footballs and bottles of waters to f*ckin’ kids and guardin’ latrine. We ain’t seen any proper action in the last two months. Every asshole captain we’re s’ppose to search an’ rescue winds up dead anyhow. So what makes you think them dune coons ain’t killed our man Major Harlow?”

 

“Motherf*cker, you say dune coon one more time,”  Replied Dom, smirking. “I might just knock that ‘vee off the road, pull you out and clip your dumb hillbilly ass!”

 

“Just makin’ conversation, sarge.” Laughed Stanley. “I got nothin’ but respect for the African-American community! Ain’t nothin’ personal about that!”

 

“Private, speaking on behalf of everyone, we can all safely assume that everything that comes out of that mouth of yours is personal!”

 

“Alright, can it ladies.” Interrupted the officer, checking his map and listening to the scanner for coordinates inside the Crusader. “I just got word that there’s some village along the freeway that’s populated by some insurgents, must be where the Major is.”

 

“And why the hell didn’t they mention any of this sh*t before, Kaelan?”

 

“You know how it is, Dom. Intel ain’t easy to get especially in parts like these.”

 

The private hollered over the line, much to the chagrin of everyone.

 

“Now ain’t that just a blessin’! With all due respect, sir, it’s about f*ckin’ time we got some action!”

 

As Dom began to adjust the vehicle tail light he instantly recoiled back at the sight of two white pickup trucks, Technicals from the looks of it, driven by shemagh-clad men dressed in Kevlar.

 

“Ask and ye shall deliver.” Sighed Kowalski under his breath. “Stanley, get your ass up on the rattler and take up a firing position, looks like we’re on the right track!”

 

Pulling the hatch open, the officer grabs hold of a large magazine, chambered with about 200 individual 5.56mm rounds, before shifting his head out into the open. Taking cover behind the layer of protection, with bullets narrowly rushing past the top of his standard issue helmet, sounding like several whips cracking at once, Kowalski loads the magazine into the heavy machine gun fixed on the Crusader’s roof, and begins to take aim.

 

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Here the player takes control of Kaelan as you open fire at the men chasing you while Dom takes the wheel, driving towards the village in question. The color palette is desaturated yet high-contrast and grainy with white tones, like a 90s era photograph of the Gulf War as seen in a newspaper, giving the shootout an almost dated feel. As you and Stanley both unload rounds against the enemy more seem to take their place.

 

“sh*t man, there’s gotta be a f*ckin’ shisha parlor nearby ‘cause I ain’t seen this many towelheads!”

 

“Just shoot them, Stanley! Take cover if you have to!”

 

Bullets fly and bodies roll as the Technicals tailing the jeeps begin to reduce in number, with the occasional fireball caused by the explosion of the pickups. Insurgent vehicles begin to swerve and lose control, toppling over frantically like uplifted cakes before conflagrating into a fiery mess. The presence of these vehicles soon subsides, and a small village, surrounded by greenery, can be seen in the distance.

 

“Any of you hurt?” Said the lieutenant, turning the machine gun forward.

 

“We’re doin’ just fine, sir,” Affirmed Barker with a stronger Southern twang than Stanley. “The village ain’t too far now.”

 

“Keep on the lookout, fellas. There might be more of those assholes planning an ambush there.”

 

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Stopping about two and a half clicks towards the village, the men got of their vehicles and continued their trail on foot. Something felt off about the village, there was no one, not even civilians, walking the streets, and high bundles of what appeared to be grain pouches surrounded the doors of the sandstone-carved buildings that circled what looked like the town plaza. Surrounding the village was a vast, yet picturesque field of canary yellow poppies, almost untouched by the war.

 

“Keep your eyes peeled, and take point. This sure as sh*t weren’t a coincidence.”

 

Taking cover from behind a stopped fountain, the section took their time to analyze their surroundings; the corrugated windows were open, yet angled in an artificial manner, almost as if it was recently tampered with, light, yet audible footsteps in the sand and murmurs were heard across the street where the men were and the vehicles that they passed by were hot, the sound of engine diminishing as time went by.

 

“Ain’t no surprise that this is a set-up. What do you want us to do, sir?”

 

The officer pondered momentarily, before coming to a final decision.

 

“Stanley and Barker, you two put in some suppressing fire on that building on the right. DeShayes? Throw in some smoke over there.”

 

The men did as they were told, and unsurprisingly it drew out the attention of the insurgents in hiding. Armed with Russian rifles and shotguns, the posse of about 15 men fired from the windows and rooftops, as the soldiers rushed through the smoke. Shooting a few men off the rooftops, Kowalski takes cover behind a column located within a hallway of a relatively large building adjacent to the plaza, gunning down a couple more saps that couldn’t fire a pea gun to save their lives, before rushing to an even narrower hallway, where the men eventually rendezvoused.

 

Behind the door at the end of the hallway was the sound of three men conversing frantically, one of them speaking in broken Pashto. One of the more fluent speakers sounded furious, almost as if a betrayal had just happened.

 

“Guess this must be the room where the Major’s hold up in. Barker, you’ve got a shotgun, do the honors.” 

 

“With pleasure, sir.”

 

Firing two rounds into the hinges, the Corporal kicked the door down, only to be introduced with a small torrent of bullets from the smart end of a compact assault rifle, the force of the gunfire propelling him backwards against the wall. The rest of the men dispatched the insurgent in question, as Stanley went back to help out his brother-in-arms.

 

“Barker, you goddamned sumbitch.” Said Stanley, checking his buddy for any entry wounds. “What happened to the first rule of breachin’ a f*ckin’ door?”

 

The two men entered the room, and was soon greeted by the sight of the Major. The man, dressed in standard issue desert tan garb, save for the dead man on the floor next to him, was fine. With a smoldering 9mm Pistol in hand, Harlow took a puff of what looked like a joint from the ashtray near him. Around the room were bales of what appeared to be a grinded plant-based product, stacks of the stuff taller than either DeShayes or Kowalski.

 

“…You alright, sir?” asked Kowalski, lowering his weapon.

 

“Yeah, yeah… I’m fine.”

 

Looking over at the dead body, and the bales, Kowalski had one other thing to say.

 

“All due respect, sir. You mind telling me what just happened?”

 

“Save it for later, lieutenant.” Said Harlow, holstering his gun. “Meanwhile, I need a favor.”

 

“And what’s that?”

 

“See those jerry cans next to those bales? I need some help with pouring the gasoline all over this building, we’re gonna light this place up.”

 

“I don’t think we have time for that, sir. We need to get an evac down here asap and one of my men’s wounded.”

 

The major walked over and observed the severity of Barker’s injuries, with Stanley applying salve and pressure on the obvious shoulder wound using a field bandage. He was hurt, but hurt just enough to survive, all thanks to the Kevlar.

 

“He’s gonna be fine. Hell, he might even be up for a discharge. He can finally go home and all that.”

 

Walking back into the room, the major slid the jerry cans across the concrete.

 

“Anyway, consider this a personal deed for me, and start pouring gas on those bales.”

 

The lieutenant’s face turned progressively sour. This seemed more like the words of a drug baron than a Raiders Major. Then again, what else did he expect? This kind of bullsh*t wasn’t new. Drugs have been ran since Vietnam, and it’s not like Major Harlow wasn’t going to just let him and Dom live if they didn’t abide, and vice versa. How the hell were they going to justify the shooting of a rogue U.S. military officer, or a frame-up? It was just too much paperwork.

 

“The stuff here’s worth at least a quarter million, and it’s going to go up in flames, thanks to that son of a bitch over there, can’t stop running his mouth and all.”

 

“Yeah, looks like you got a major problem, sir.”

 

“Look, I’ll promise to make it worth your while. I’ll contact the camp, make it look clean and all. All you gotta do now is burn this sh*t and then call in that evac of yours. I’m not one to break promises, lieutenant.”

 

Reluctantly picking up the jerry cans, the three men proceeded to pour the gasoline all over the room as Stanley slowly pulled the Corporal out of the building. A matchstick was lit, and the gas did its job. The three men walked out of the burning building, acrid, pitch black smoke slowly billowing from the opening in the roof, Kowalski approached the Crusader and begin to contact HQ for evacuation.

 

“Major Harlow is safe, the coordinates are…”

 

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As the sky began to turn dark, the prominent xenon lights of the evacuation convoy, consisting of one Cargobob and a couple of Buzzards, descended upon the plaza. Medics rushed out of the giant whirly and placed Barker on a stretcher, as him and Stanley began their last dialogue.

 

“Cheer up, asshole.” Smiled Stanley. “You’re gonna be liquored up an’ drownin’ in pussy once you’re back in Soto.”

 

“F*ck you, man.” Laughed the wounded young soldier weakly, giving the bird as the stretcher went up on the rail. Stanley then turned his back and rejoined his superiors for the debrief.

 

“What the hell’s goin’ on? Why the hell did y’all two burn that big ass building?”

 

“We’ll tell you about that later. Major wants a word with us.”

 

Speaking to the pilot momentarily, Harlow walked over to the three men and smiled.

 

“Kowalski, DeShayes and Stanley, huh? Thanks for all the work you’ve done today. I’ll speak with HQ and put in the good word that you men did well.”

 

“Yessir.”

 

“I’m running into something big soon, I’ll tell you three more about it once we’re back at camp. If you ever feeling sick of doing these recon sh*t jobs, you can choose to work with me. There’s some big money to be made in this business.”

 

“We’ll think on that, sir.”

 

“Keep your ears open, and we’ll take that this conversation never happened.”

 

 The major and the three men soon went their separate ways, with each party entering a separate Buzzard, as the Cargobob began its airlift of the Crusaders. The three men unbuckled their helmets and slumped backwards against the surprisingly cushy netted seats of the helicopter, exhausted off their asses, and yet in the midst of all the fatigue, Stanley mustered the energy to ask the same, yet salient question that wasn’t answered earlier.

 

“So what did y’all do, really?”

 

“We burnt down a building full of drugs.”

Edited by DownInTheHole

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