Global Reach

July 2011 Near Khowst Afghanistan

Fareed Ackbar was a patient man.

Of course, that was only natural. An impatient man does not become a Master Sniper.

The Kites and Buzzards wheeled overhead in the thermals as he lay in concealment on a hot, dusty ridge in Afghanistan.

Had they seen him lying still, among the rocks, they would have circled and come to investigate.

They had seen many dead men in the last few years.

Fareed spared a glance upward. "Wait, Brothers." he subvocalized. "Soon, soon you will feed."

His Dragunov sniper rifle was warm to the touch. The rest of the team chided

him to get a more modern rifle, but he had used the Dragunov for two decades. Getting ammunition was sometimes a problem, but he and the Dragunov had been through much together.

They'd go through this last operation together, and he and the rifle, they would retire.

Fareed was already feeling old and tired.

He'd have retired already, but he had begged for this mission, this one last mission.

He'd pulled rank, but Fareed had many admirers in the command structure. The Commander had finally granted him permission to take this shot.

Fareed studied the dust devils as the wind played idly on the road.

The heat waves and dust devils told him about the wind. That was a part of his job. He'd only get one chance at this, so he wanted to do it right the first time.

As he lay there, awaiting his prey, he pondered the long, strange road his life had taken.

A Cairo native, he had left the fetid, crowded slums of his home. He had journeyed far. He found a new homeland, a new life, a renewed faith to believe in.

And, along the way, the boy who had never touched a rifle became a master of the long kill.

Moussa Khan, his spotter, twitched and pointed. An observer might not have noticed that either man had moved, but this team had been together for several years. They'd worked out a secret body language between them. It was not telepathy, but something very akin to it.

Moussa's East German Zeiss binoculars augmented his phenomenal eyesight, but soon enough, Fareed could see the small trail of dust that indicated the approaching convoy.

He waited with the patience of a cat watching a mouse hole.

A short time later, the convoy approached the ambush point.

Moussa found the target first, and pointed him out to Fareed.

Fareed looked down the scope at his target and saw him. He allowed himself a snarl as he saw the face of the Hated One.

That one rode in the front seat of the second vehicle.

Fareed memorized the face. The arrogance, the pride, the curled lip of a man who considered himself a Great Man. He would fix that, soon enough.

The car moved along, and passed the white stone that Fareed had left as a range marker.

Fareed smiled the first smile he had allowed himself in three years.

He gently squeezed the trigger

Unlike most snipers, Fareed loaded his own cartridges. Trying to obtain good quality Russian-made rounds for the Dragunov was too much trouble. He preferred to use the Dupont products for his important shots.

A rifle of the Lesser Satan, bullets and powder of the Great Satan. Fareed found it absolutely appropriate for this occasion.

The Boxer primer ignited the Hercules powder, and 271 grains of diplomacy jumped to life and flew down the long barrel, straight and true to the target.

Fareed smiled as the bullet cracked the windshield. The Hated One had only a fraction of a second to look up as the windshield shattered and collapsed. Fareed's second shot flew through the hole his first bullet had opened. It hit right at the base of his throat, the top of the "Sniper's triangle".

Fareed had a glimpse of blood splattering the windscreen as the driver veered over to the side of the road, far too late to save his passenger.

Fareed' shot had been a signal. The rest of his team opened fire on the convoy. AT4s hit the other vehicles, turning them to fireballs as shrapnel ripped through vehicles and men. The men in the vehicles had only a short time to decide.

The ones who made the safety of the shallow roadside ditch screamed as claymore mines and roared and ended their lives.

Remain in the vehicles and burn, or step into the firestorm and get shot. The men of the ambush team only allowed them those two choices.

In less than thirty seconds, the last of the enemy was dead, and the gunfire ended.

Fareed waited for two minutes, silently watching the wreckage for movement, but there was only the crackle of the burning vehicles and the sighing wind.

The Kites whistled and the buzzards called. This was a game they knew.

Smoke, and still bodies lying on the ground.

Soon they would eat well.

He would have waited longer, but his team needed to get in, get the DNA sample, get the photographs and video, and get out before the reaction force showed up.

He cautiously stood up, but there was no threat from below.

His team stood up and they all went down to the ambush.

There was one alarm as the team moved to the kill zone.

One of the men fleeing the target vehicle was still alive.

*Tough buzzard* thought Fareed, as he looked at the man's guts. A piece of shrapnel had torn open the man's intestines. They trailed behind him in the dust. It was a wonder the man hadn't died already, but he was not long for this world.

Fareed laughed aloud. It was a harsh, braying sound, the sound of a man who had not laughed in years. He poked Moussa in the ribs, "Beard of the Prophet! We got him of them."

The man muttered something in Arabic as Fareed came up. "I'm thirsty."he said.

Fareed answered graciously ""It would be a waste to give you anything. You will be answering to Allah for your crimes very soon.""

The one eye of Omar widened as he heard the Cairo accent. ""Why?"" he asked weakly.

""My daughter and son-in law both worked at Cantor Fitzgerald."" said Fareed.

"Rot in hell, you worthless piece of carrion." he added.

Mullah Omar tried to say something, but his last worded were smothered by his own blood. His mouth moved weakly, but only bloody foam came out, and he died.

The Lieutenant got to the car first. The body was slumped over, the burnoose had slipped off, but he grabbed the greasy mane of grey hair and looked into the face of the Hated One.

"Yep, it's him alright." Said Commander Clayton Thomas in his west Texas drawl.

"You shore 'nuff sent him to the Great Beyond, Chief." Clayton was an Annapolis graduate, but the further into the field he got, the more he sounded like an oil field tool-pusher…which was what his father, and his grandfather, and both of his brothers were.

Chief Warrant Officer Fareed Ackbar, a 32 year veteran of the US Marine Corps, looked into the face of the man that had haunted his nightmares for ten years. He spit. "F**kin' bastard. Wish I could have taken the chance to capture him alive. Give me my choice; I'd have made him die long, slow and messy."

Corporal Moussa Khan looked at the man. "Hey, Chief, it's better this way. The bastard's dead, we leave him for the carrion eaters and go on."

Fareed took a long pull at his canteen. "You're right, we're Americans. That's the American way. Kill the SOB, end the problem, and get on with life."

Lt Thomas smiled, "I recall correctly, Chief, you need to get retired and go take care of those grandkids of yours."

"Helos inbound in two minutes." called the RTO.

"Time to go." Agreed Fareed, as he went home, to his wife and grandchildren in Florida, to live the rest of his life.