Thirteen

Col. James Reign of the United States Marine Corps, callsign Crazyhorse, could just about make out a large hexacopter on the horizon. It was making headway toward the pickup point, and his men were ready. As he surveyed the scene from the control tower, he could see three light blue CPC Osprey tilt rotors loading up and preparing to take flight.
Col. Reign cursed under his breath and picked up the radio. "EDC flight one, do not leave, we have reports of SAMS in the area." He hollered over the airwaves, struggling to make his booming voice audible over the sound of the straining engines. "A weasel flight is coming to clear them out, ETA three minutes." Possibly the longest three minutes of his life, he thought as he sought to find any extra inch of leverage to convince these men to wait.
A gruff accented voice came back. "We're not going to die with you cowboy Americans!"
Great, thought Crazyhorse. Your funeral. Outside it’s a perfect storm of mortars, shells and tank. This dumb CPC punk decided to throw in a bit of anti-American sentiment to really help the situation. If he made it out of here, Col. Reign decided, he'd be sure to give that guy a piece of his mind.
The three CPC Ospreys climbed into the air, and just as they were rotating their blades forward to leave the area, three surface-to-air rockets shrieked through the air. The stinger missiles picked off the three V-22’s one after the other.
From the MRAP, the blooms of fire filled the sky. Debris rained down on the runway. As the MRAP approached the rendezvous point, Gideon played with the brake pedal. He still had one hummer on his tail.
BOOM. A shell exploded less than two feet from the side of the vehicle, rocking the whole machine to its chassis. Out of the corner of his eye, Gideon saw and cursed a Saudi M1 Abrams tank. It trundled out from between two aircraft hangars and began to line up a second shot.
"Looks like I'm playing myself at this game" muttered Gideon. Violently, he swung the MRAP around a full 90 degrees and drove straight towards his assailant, relying on the element of surprise to buy him some time.
As the tank's turret rotated wildly to match his change of course, the Abrams suddenly erupted in a ball of flame. Pieces of shrapnel whizzed past the viewing plate of the MRAP and Daniel swore he could feel the heat of the fireball. Seconds later, the Humvee that pursued them also exploded. The trio’s F-35 Lightning II savior roared past, just twenty feet off the runway, targeting a nearby AA battery with its next missiles.
"Thank God for the cavalry!" whooped Gideon as he spun the wheel, put his foot to the floorboard and raced towards the hexacopter which was coming down for a landing on hot tarmac.
The Durandal XR34 MRAP’s automation system registered that it had interfaced with the hexicopter’s computer and was ready to automate the docking procedure.
Unsure whether he was still being pursued, Gideon kept the gas pedal pressed down and rocketed into the cargo bay of the aircraft. A zoom and click of the magnetic locks told him that the MRAP was safely secured.
Daniel, Gideon and Thierry stepped outside their XR34 and into the cargo bay of the USAF Emerson Aerospace C-6 Hexacopter. Around them, Marines streamed into the aircraft, including their new friend, Colonel James Reign.
They were never happier than when the hexacopter spun its six massive blades and roared into the dusty sky.

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