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The end of a broken relationship.
There was no room for error, not from anyone; but there was also a feeling in the room that everybody was willing to do everything within their power to get the mission done.
After a deliberate pause, allowing every single person in the room to take in the impact of his words, Colonel Ray continued the briefing as the slides shifted to a geographical overview of a small village at the base of a mountain range.
"The enemy will be meeting in a compound just outside this village. Our Global Hawk will be in the area, fully armed, watching closely and ready to take them out. However, we will also need to insert Special Forces in case anything goes wrong, or if one of the five doesn't show up to the party. B-52 and B-2 bombers, callsigns Bane and Slaughter respectively, will be standing by for direction from our black ops teams on the ground."
The Colonel cleared his throat, looking intently out into the crowd, "This is where both Pave Low Squadrons come in. Reaper Squadron will fly them into enemy territory as already briefed. Be on guard; you will be in deeper territory than you ever have before. Ghost Squadron will stand by with Para-Jumpers, ready to fly off of alert if things go south and medical assistance is required.
"The bombers, A-10's, Pave Hawks, and just about anything else with rotors or wings will be controlled by Watcher, our Airborne Command Center, so stay up on the radio frequencies."
He signaled for his executive officer to kill the presentation. The screen immediately went dark. Looking over the crowd, Colonel Ray stood tall and said, "Now, listen to me carefully. This isn't Vietnam; we aren't carpet-bombing the town. The high-precision GPS-guided munitions will limit the collateral damage. So, once the bombs drop, we expect retaliation. Most in the local town are loyal to the insurgents and will not hesitate to come out of the woodworks and take a shot at you. Even if we are fortunate enough to have a low casualty rate tonight -- God willing -- this operation has the potential to change the face of the war. In most ways for the better, but in some ways, for worse. Leaderless fanatical disciples have the potential to be unpredictable. Taking the terrorist leaders out will help in the long term, but the short term could prove a difficult and painful road."
A hush fell across the crowd.
"Remember why we are doing this and who we are protecting back home. We're protecting all of our brothers and sisters in the United States of America, but it's bigger than that. Think for a moment. Each one of you has someone back home that you love; just like every other American, you are protecting them as well. Who is that person that you're trying to protect the most?"
Luke thought about his parents, his sister, and most of all he thought about Kaylee.
The Colonel continued, "Intel has reported that over the last two months, we have found and raided three separate terrorist locations, each one with plans in motion to attack the United States." After a brief pause, the Colonel yelled, "OUR HOME COUNTRY! Trying to kill our brothers and sisters. Trying to take away our freedom. Trying to hurt those we love. That should piss you off. It pisses me off.
"Remember we have a unique opportunity tonight to cripple the terrorist regime. I've laid out the mission briefing, and now each and every one of you must carry it out. Success depends on you. Am I clear?"
In unison, the group roared out a thunderous, "Yes, sir!"
"So again, maintain sharp focus, fight like you've trained, and remember why we are doing this. We do this so our country will stay safe, so others may live, and so others back home may sleep peacefully even with the knowledge that there is a monster out there. They sleep peacefully because they trust us to protect them from that monster. And we WILL NOT FAIL them. Good luck, and Godspeed."
Colonel Ray departed the stage, walking down the aisle as the entire room snapped to attention.
"Carry on," he said as he left the hangar.
Patton and the rest of his crew looked at each o