Fantasy/Science Fiction
George Mavro
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The Empire

09 January 2014
Master Sergeant George Mavrakis stood atop the machine gun cupola of the armored Humvee and scanned the terrain with his binoculars, looking for anything out of place, that could indicate a Taliban ambush or an improvised explosive device (IED). His Humvee was the lead vehicle, escorting four supply trucks to a small communications outpost, located 50 kilometers north of Bagram airbase, Afghanistan. He had been assigned to the 455th Defense Squadron for almost a year and was due to rotate back to the states next month. So far his tour had been relatively uneventful. Except for a couple of rocket attacks on the base by the Taliban, he had never fired his weapon in anger. He was hoping it would remain that way. Unfortunately fate had other things in store for him and his squad.
“Another twenty minutes and we’ll be there, sarge,” said Staff Sergeant John Smith, a tall blond haired youth from Arkansas. Smith had worked in a machine shop, but after 9/11 he enlisted in the US Air Force.
George had sat down back down in the passenger seat and had given the M240B machine gun back to the gunner, Airman Leroy Davis, a skinny black kid from south Chicago, who joined the air force to get away from the gangs.
“I’ll be glad to get off this road, John.”
“Me too, sarge.”

The convoy was beginning to climb up the mountain which would take them to the communications site. Neither George, nor his driver saw the slight depression on the road they had driven over. It contained a buried IED, an ex-Soviet 150mm shell.
A loud explosion rocked the convoy, as the lead and the last duce and a half including their passengers was blown to pieces. Gunfire erupted almost immediately from the side of the tree lined road. “Step on it Smith and get this vehicle turned around.” Davis opened fire towards the vicinity of the ambush, keeping the Taliban’s heads down.
Jones gunned the Humvee, as the roof mounted M240B machine gun began spitting out 7.62mm rounds at over 800 per minute. George called out to the rear Humvee Zulu two, to find out their status. It had taken up position to defend the surviving vehicles shooting at the Taliban, trying to save what was left of the convoy. By now Smith had turned the vehicle around and headed towards the others. George watched as an RPG round took out another one of the Trucks. Fortunately the crew had abandoned the vehicle and was running towards Zulu two.
“Sarge, look over there. I see three Taliban technicals heading this way. Looks like they got pretty large guns mounted on them. They’re probably 14mm heavy machine guns.”
“Those will rip us to shreds. We got to get the hell out of here. Head towards Jenkins’ Humvee.”
“Zulu one, this is Zulu 2. It looks like we also have company coming from the rear, two more techincals. We have the two survivors from the second vehicle on board.”
“We’re screwed.” George was about to give the order for everyone to dismount and make a last stand.
“Sarge, see that small road thirty yards to the left? I say we take it. We stand a better chance running, than staying here.”
“Go for it, Smith. They’ll be on us in less than a minute. Zulu 2, follow us and tell the surviving duce and a half to do the same.”
Smith gunned the vehicle and headed down the small bumpy road he had discovered, followed by Zulu two and the surviving truck. “If this is a dead end sarge, we’ve bought it.”
“Keep driving, just don’t wreck us.”
After driving for several miles, they saw a rusted sign with red Cyrillic letters. “It looks like it was left by the Russians when they were here. I wonder what it says.”
“I don’t know Smith, just keep driving.
After about another mile of driving the road ended in a large clearing at the side of the mountain. They could go no further.
“Shit, it’s a dead end. Looks like there is a large mine shaft up ahead, sarge.”
“We’re all going to die here,” Airman First Class Janie Harris, an attractive blond haired twenty two year old, shouted out in terror.
“Don’t worry, we’ll get out of this,” George said trying to reassure the rest of his squad.
“Pull the vehicles into the mine. Zulu two, follow us inside. We’ll fight from in there if we have to.”
The two Humvees and the duce and a half pulled into the mine shaft. The vehicle headlights shined into the tunnel, illuminating a small road that went deeper into the mountain. Once the vehicles had gone about fifty yards into the mine shaft, George had everyone dismount and take up fighting positions at the entrance of the mine.
“Here they come, stand by to fire. Airman Green, aim for the lead vehicle.”
“Got it Serge.”
The mineshaft echoed with the noise of rifle fire. The lead Taliban pickup disintegrated, when it was hit by a 40mm HE grenade fired by Green’s M203 grenade launcher. The other Taliban quickly moved to a safer location and began returning fire.
“We’re trapped here,” Technical Sergeant Jenkins, a fifteen year a security force specialist with two previous tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan said.
“Kinda looks that way.”
“I was unable to get out a radio call to Bagram, nor reach the communications site, due to the signal being blocked by the surrounding hills. I don’t know if anyone heard us.”
“The com site should have picked us up.”
“Not if the Taliban took it out.”
Commander Hamid, a gray bearded older man, blessed the prophet for his successful ambush against the infidel. His men had attacked the American communications site and destroyed it before the infidel could call for help. The attack on the site had been quick and brutal, helped by two of the Mujahedeen who had been posing as Afghan army guards. One of them had blown himself up in the radio room and the other had opened the gates before detonating his explosive vest in the machine gun bunker, taking many of the infidel defenders with him. Before killing all the surviving Americans he had taken his pleasures with one of the female soldiers. She had told him that a supply convoy was enroute to the site during the short but brutal interrogation.
“Commander Hamid. Blessed is the prophet. We need to either quickly kill the infidel or leave. Sooner or later the Americans will send out one of their deadly gunships to check on the convoy and the communication site,” his second in command said.
“You are right Hassan. The infidel can probably hold out in the mineshaft until help arrives.”
“That mine is cursed my brother. There are demons in there. Some say the shaft leads straight down to hell.”
“I have an idea Hassan, which will send the infidel to hell. Fill one of the trucks with the remainder of our explosives and chose a volunteer to drive it into the mine.”
“I will see to it at once, my brother.”
The rate of fire had tapered off in the last few minutes. George was wondering if the Taliban were leaving, fearing an American rescue mission.
“Sarge why do you think they pulled up that lone vehicle?” Technical Sergeant Jenkins. His second in command asked.
George knew right away, as the vehicle began to move forward. “Shit they’re going to ram the tunnel entrance with explosives. Everyone fall back! That truck is going to blow. Run!”
George began running backwards as he and others shot towards the speeding vehicle. George dove for cover, just as a bullet struck the driver causing the detonation of the 200lbs of explosives, as it entered the mouth of the tunnel. The blast went upwards, causing the roof at the entrance to collapse, sending hundreds of tons of rock down blocking the opening and effectively sealing everyone inside.
“Allah be praised! Yes, my brother. Jamal is now in heaven,” Sayed said.
“They may have survived the explosion.”
“Then I hope Allah will be merciful to them. Let’s leave.”
George woke up with a ringing in his ears. A flashlight belonging to Jenkins was shining in his face and most of his squad had gathered around him. “Are you okay sarge? We were worried for a moment; you were pretty close to the blast.”
“Except for ringing in my ears I think I am fine. How is everyone else?”
“The driver of the shot up truck may have a broken arm but except for some minor cuts and bruises, we’re okay.”
“Well we aren’t getting out the front entrance. Hopefully there is a rear one. You would think the Russians would have a rear exit. Let’s get to the vehicles and drive inside as far as we can. This part of the tunnel is pretty unstable and may further collapse.”
They had not driven more than 50 yards when the tunnel ceiling weakened from the explosion began collapsing behind them. It would now be impossible to dig them out without bulldozers and explosives. Ten minutes later, they entered a large cavern filled with equipment and boxes.
“Well look at that!”
“That is rather strange, Smith. Let’s check it out.” They stopped the vehicle and got out. The vehicle headlights shined on the cavern wall over 100 yards away making eerie shadows.
“This place gives me the creeps, “said Sergeant Thompson one of George’s squad leaders.
“Yeah, me too. Let’s look around, maybe we’ll find something useful. It’s strange that the locals and Taliban have not looted this place.”
George spotted a metal door; he opened it and went inside. The room was full of what looked to old main frame computers and monitors. It appeared to be some type of control room. Papers were strewn all over the floor. “Hey Sergeant Mavrakis, I found a pretty large generator and there is plenty of fuel available to run it,” Sergeant Thompson said.
“Can you start it, Ken?”
“Possibly, if I grab the jumper cables and use the truck battery. Electronics is my hobby.”
“Okay, then, give it a try.”
Fifteen minutes later, after several attempts the generator which had been sitting idle for almost 25 years came sputtering to life. “You did it Thompson.”
“Let’s see what happens when I throw the switch.”
“Do it.”
“Here goes nothing.” Thompson threw the switch and the cavern lights came on. “We got juice! Wow look at those cables and electrodes running into the ceiling. I wonder what that is all about?”
George walked in to the computer filled room followed by Jenkins. One of the main frames was coming back to life. “I can’t believe these computers are still working. The Russians left Afghanistan over 25 years ago.”
“The cavern air is pretty dry; there is no humidity to cause them to corrode. It also looks like the Russians left this place in a hurry.”
“This is strange,” George said as he watched data streaming on the monitors. “I think the Russians were doing some type of research and experiments in here.”
“I believe you’re right.” Jenkins pulled out his compass and showed it to George. “Ever since we entered this place my compass is going crazy. The needle is spinning in circles.”
George pulled out his compass and saw that it was doing the same thing. “This mountain must be some type of giant electromagnet.”
“I also found what looks to be a barracks. It has running water and beds.”
George heard footsteps and saw a very attractive dark haired woman, most likely in her late 20s, approaching him. She was wearing Captain’s rank. He also noticed that she had on medical corps insignia. “Hello mam, I believe we have not met?”
“I am Doctor Anna Marone. I was a passenger on the surviving truck. I was scheduled to replace the doctor on the communications site.”
“I am Master Sergeant George Mavrakis, commander of this motley crew of sky cops and this is my second in charge, Technical Sergeant Matt Jenkins.”
“Pleased to meet you and thanks for saving our lives.”
“Don’t thank me yet doc, seems were stuck in here for the time being.”
“I set Sergeant Ross’s arm. He’ll be fine in a couple of weeks. What is this place anyway?”
“Looks like the Russians were doing some kind of experiments here.”
“Wow! That was over 25 years ago.”
“Sergeant Mavrakis, come here.”
“Excuse me, doc.”
George walked over to where Airman first class Thomas Capone, a dark haired pimply faced teen from New York was standing. He was holding what looked to be the sniper version of the Mosin Nagant 91/30 bolt action rifle. “Look in these crates, sarge. They’re full of Ak-47s and other types of weapons along with tens of thousands of rounds to go with them. George looked in another crate and it contained RPGs.
“Don’t screw with the RPGs they may be unstable. Bring the Nagant and a case of ammo.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t mess with them, sarge.”
“George turned around hearing footsteps. It was Sergeant Thompson. “Sarge something is weird here. I followed the wires into another room and found hundreds of batteries in array linked together. They are building a charge.”
“I wonder what for?”
“I don’t know, but they could send one hell of a charge into this mountain.”
George thought about what Jenkins had said earlier about the compass. “This mountain probably becomes a giant electromagnet once the juice starts flowing. The Russians were probably conducting some type of military experiment here.”
“You’re probably right sarge.”
“How long before those batteries are charged?”
“Probably a couple of hours with all the juice that generator is putting out.”
“Let’s have some food and then see what we can do with that juice. Maybe if we charge up the mountain, Bagram may detect something and send a rescue party.”
After having a meal of MRE rations, George and the rest of the squad began exploring the abandoned Russian facility. They discovered several rooms that had been workshops and machine shops and several more store rooms containing military supplies storing scores of barrels of diesel fuel for the generator. An hour later they all met in the control room to discuss their options.
“Okay everyone, I don’t know what this place is, but from what I can tell the Russians were conducting some type of experiments with electricity. This entire mountain is a giant electrical conductor. I am proposing that when those batteries are fully charged up, we send a charge through the mountain. It may cause enough of an electromagnetic disturbance that it could be picked up by Bagram. If someone is looking for us, they may just find the tunnel entrance and dig us out.”
“That will take days.”
“Yes it will, Airman Harris but we don’t have any other choices other than try to find a back way out through the tunnels. We have food, running water and the Russian ventilation system is working, so we don’t have to worry about the air running out. If anyone has a better suggestion I am all ears.”
“What if the mountain blows up?”
“I don’t think that is possible Airman Davis. There is nothing explosive in the rock.”
“How are they batteries, Thompson?”
“This gauge is showing 100% charged.”
“How do we start the show?”
“I don’t know. Press enter on the keyboard maybe?” Thompson hit the enter key. “Well that didn’t do anything. Wait a minute this thing has started a countdown. Ten seconds, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0.” The lights flickered but nothing happened.
“Nothing,” said George. “Wait I hear something. Sounds like high pitched shrieks.” The noises started getting louder and louder, causing an intense pain in their heads. Everyone collapsed to the ground holding their ears. All of a sudden the lights flickered out. The pain kept getting worse. George could see strange brightly lit objects hovering above them. They looked like ghosts or demons. The last thing he remembered before passing out was one of those ghosts passing right through him.
George opened his eyes. The lights had come back on and he had a hellacious headache. He glanced at his watch. It was almost 5 AM. They had been passed out for several hours. Several of the others also began to stir.
“Is everyone okay?”
“Oh my head,” Jenkins said.
“What happened? Did anyone else see those horrible things that were floating in the air above us?”
“I don’t know what happened doc and yes I saw them too.” Everybody else said the same thing. Let’s try and get the hell out of here. This place gives me the creeps. Jenkins, load up the vehicles. Take those RPGS we may need them and the guns. We don’t want to leave them for the Taliban.”
“Okay, sarge.”
“The Humvees may also need fuel by the time we get out of here. Top them off and load a few barrels on to the truck. Once we load up, turn off that generator. We don’t need any more surprises. This one was bad enough.”
An hour later the duce and a half had been loaded up with additional weapons and ammunition. “Okay everybody, mount up let’s get out of here. Thompson shut off that generator.”
With a turn of the switch the generator went dead and the cavern was again bathed in darkness except for the light generated by the three vehicles. Zulu1 led the way thru the tunnels. After about fifteen minutes they reached a dead end. The way forward was blocked by a rockslide. “We can’t go any further sarge we’re trapped, “said Airmen Green his driver.
George did not reply he just looked at the blocked tunnel. For a moment he though he saw something out of place. “Zulu 2 shut off your lights. “You too, Green.”
“What, sarge.”
“Green, shut off the vehicle headlights!” George got out of the Humvee and walked towards the rockslide. He did not imagine it, a slight rays of light was penetrating trough.
“We can get out. I can see light shining through. Bring one of the RPGS.”
“Sarge, it might bring the entire tunnel down.”
“I don’t think it will cause an additional cave in. Bring the RPG.
“Wait a minute, there is a better way to clear the rubble. There’s C4 in the duce and a half. We were delivering it to the site to clear out a ruble strewn rocky area, to build another antenna. I am an explosives expert,” said Staff Sergeant Larry Williams.
“Okay Williams, have at it.”
Thirty minutes later, Williams had set the charge and was ready to blow it. The vehicles had been backed up to a safer location. “Fire in the hole!”