The book is set in 2024, but this chapter describes a secret operation gone awry during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. A special forces team is sent to recover some unusual artifacts and a surly, mysterious alphabet agency operative from the National Museum of Iraq.
The book is fast-moving and this chapter provides an excellent preview of the excitement and mysteries that are to come.
Copyright Ray Davis 2015
Chapter 1 – Operation Original Sin
(April 9, 2003 near Karbala, Iraq. 01:12 hours) Lieutenant Lucas M. Biggs, U.S. Army Special Forces, looked at his watch with agitation.
“Where are the damn GMVs?” he questioned aloud.
His six-man team was assembled and waiting for their ride. He had orders in hand and a mission to accomplish, but the GMVs were 12 minutes past due. Operation Original Sin – what a strange name for an operation, he thought. The reason for the name eluded him, but he was brought back to the moment by the approach of two vehicles.
“All right, mount up. Keep your COM connected. I’ll share our orders once we’re mobile. Stevens, Washington, you’re with me. Taylor, Dragon, Williams you’re in GMV 2.”
The two vehicles moved cautiously down a dark and dusty road snaking its way towards Baghdad. There were numerous perils, despite the fact this was deemed a secured area. The retreating Iraqi Army had mined many of the roads leading to Baghdad to slow the allied advance. There were still roaming bands of Republican Guard who had taken to guerrilla operations against allied rear positions.
Once in Baghdad, the team would have a perilous drive across the city toward the target. Though rumors were rampant that the fall of Baghdad and Saddam Hussein was imminent, the city was still checkered with pockets of Iraqi Army and Republican Guard resistance. Even where the military presence was gone, street gangs had armed themselves with abandoned military weapons and were roaming neighborhoods terrorizing them.
Fires burned throughout the city; the result of fighting and people without power trying to stay warm. Looting was rampant. Biggs knew this was a very dangerous mission. This is what he signed up for. This is what he told the recruiter he wanted to do seven years ago. This was his way giving back to his country for the freedom it had given him.
The team must have sensed the danger, as they were strangely silent for the first 20 minutes of the ride. Each man looking into his soul, thinking about his training, and wondering what was to come. As the GMVs entered the outskirts of the capital city, Biggs knew it was time to share the mission with his team.
“Biggs to GMV 2. Do you read?”
“Loud and clear, Lieutenant.”
“As you can probably tell, we’re headed into the heart of Baghdad. Our target is The National Museum of Iraq. We are on an extraction mission. I was in Major Anderson’s office when the orders came down. I can tell you they came directly from CENTCOM.”
Biggs paused and then continued, “Here are the orders. Proceed to the National Museum of Iraq and at all cost extract an alphabet agency operative named Cutler and any and all cargo he deems necessary. Cutler’s status is unclear. At last report, his situation was precarious due to a large Republican Guard contingent near the museum.”
“How many hostiles are we likely to encounter, Lieutenant?”
“Cutler reported 30-50 Republican Guard in the immediate area. We’ll want to be stealthy and quick. Get Cutler and his contraband and get out.”
Biggs had a homing device to help the team locate Cutler once in the museum. He studied a Google-like map of the building’s interior.
The GMVs turned off their headlights and rolled slowly up a side street adjacent to the museum. The map indicated a side entrance along this street.
“That’s it,” Biggs called to his driver, “Pull over right there.” The vehicles squealed to a stop on the darkened street.
Teams in both vehicles donned their night vision goggles and checked the operation of their weapons and COM. They waited for what seemed like minutes. Finally, Biggs gave the order to dismount. Dragon and Washington took the lead. The team climbed some stairs and entered the museum through the side door. Moving in two-man cover teams, they worked their way toward the beacon. Biggs directed the advance using hand signals.
The museum was dimly lit, which seemed odd considering the power outages throughout Baghdad. The massive structure was silent and strangely untouched by the ravages of the bombing and street-to-street fighting. Cutler’s beacon indicated that he was located in a large room two floors below the main level. The map showed a stairway half way up the main hall.
The team moved stealthily up the left side of the hall toward the location of the stairwell. These missions always had moments of uneasy anticipation. You simulated as much as you could in training, but there was no way to replicate that spring-loaded feeling you get when your life is on the line. One moment you had to be ready to exhibit calm, clear thinking and in the next unleash unspeakable violence. Biggs could feel a lump forming in his throat and his heart banging away in his ears. The breathing of his team was audible. Something didn’t feel right. Suddenly, there was a loud crash and the sound of running and shouting coming from the far end of the main hall. Biggs identified it as Iraqi Arabic. The commotion reverberated through the hall and seemed to be coming toward them.
“Geez! Go, go,” Biggs called, as he waved his team toward the stairwell door now visible just steps ahead. The team descended the stairs quickly and efficiently; Dragon providing rear cover in the event they were followed. Down two floors and through another stairwell door, the team found themselves in a pitch-black corridor. Biggs ordered the team to switch on the flashlights attached to their M16 rifles. The hall was lined by what appeared to be a series of reinforced vaults fronted by heavy steel doors.
Biggs studied his museum map. “There is no way out of here except back up that stairwell,” he announced. “Taylor, Dragon you cover our six. We’ll find Cutler.” The two men set up and readied themselves to take out anyone coming through the door.
Biggs and the rest of the team worked their way down the hallway and around a couple of corners. Finally they saw a dim light emanating from an open vault on the right and positioned themselves outside the half-opened door. Biggs signaled on three. He counted down with his fingers three, two, one. They pushed through the door and leveled their weapons at a line of crates near the back of the vault.
“Who’s there? I’m armed,” came a strong voice from behind the crates.
“Mr. Cutler?” Biggs questioned.
“Yes. I’m Cutler. Who goes there?”
“Sir, I am Lieutenant Lucas Biggs. We are here on orders from CENTCOM to extract you and your contraband from the museum. Sir, please step out in front of the crates and keep your hands visible.”
Cutler stood slowly, holding his hands up in front of him. He was a shockingly, tall stalky middle-aged man with almost over emphasized Nordic features. Even in the dim light, his eyes pierced everything he looked at. Biggs was surprised and a little unnerved by the man’s size.
“Sir, do you have some ID?” asked Biggs.
“Do you, Lieutenant?” came the curt, aloof response.
Biggs stared at Cutler. Cutler stared back. “All right, Mr. Cutler,” Biggs finally said, “We’re here to get you and your contraband out of here. We believe there are 30-50 Republican Guard in and around the museum…”
“More like 500, Mr. Biggs,” Cutler blurted. “It’s going to take two of your men to carry the contraband,” Cutler ordered, pointing a large crate in front of others. “It weighs about 200 pounds and the contents are fragile. They will need to leave their weapons behind.”
Biggs questioned, “What is the contraband, sir?”
“The contraband is none of your business, Lieutenant. Suffice it to say that Saddam thought what is in this crate could save his regime. It is far too important to the world to let him control it.”
“Excuse me, sir. My men are risking their lives for this crate. There are only six of us. We may have to deal with an unknown number of hostiles. My men are not leaving their weapons…”
“Lieutenant, I’m not going to argue with you. What are your orders?” Cutler asked, as he moved around to the front of the crates and used his size to his advantage.
“To extract you and your contraband, sir.”
“Were there stipulations in your orders?”
“At all risk, sir.”
“Then I suggest you follow your orders,” Cutler commanded menacingly and took a step forward. His size alone intimidated, but Biggs held his ground. Biggs’ men leveled their weapons at Cutler and looked to their leader for an order, but the standoff was cut short by a frantic message from Dragon.
“Lieutenant, we have hostiles.” Biggs heard the sounds of automatic weapons fire over his COM.
“Dragon, Dragon,” Biggs shouted. There was a static-laden pause on Biggs’ radio.
“Sir, two hostiles down,” Dragon reported, “We’re fine, but I’m sure they reported our position. We need to get out of here.”
Biggs looked back to Cutler and made snap decision. “Washington, help Mr. Cutler carry the crate.”
“Biggs,” Cutler started.
“Mr. Cutler, we have one way out of here and that window is closing. This is my best offer. Grab an end!” Biggs shouted, determined stay in command of the situation.
“Dragon, do you read?”
“We’re moving out. We have Cutler and the contraband. I want to move up one level rather than back up to the main level. There is a stairway near the main entrance. We’ll take that stairwell. Radio the GMVs to meet us out front.”
“Roger that, sir.”
“I want you and Taylor to clear the way to the next level. We are 90 seconds behind you. Biggs out.”
“Let’s move, gentlemen.”
Cutler glared at Biggs and then grabbed one end of the crate. They hurried back up the corridor. Biggs and Stevens leading the way, followed by Cutler and Washington carrying the crate, and Williams bringing up the rear. They reached the stairwell.
“Dragon, Biggs. Are we clear to the next level?”
The team arrived at the next doorway. Dragon and Taylor were waiting.
“Smoke the stairwell,” ordered Biggs.
Dragon pulled a M-18 smoke grenade from his pack, pulled the pin, and rolled it into the stairwell. He confirmed it was working and closed the door behind them. They hurried across large gallery toward the front of the building. Out of nowhere, they came under fire from the far side of the vacuous gallery. Only the darkness prevented them from being wiped out. Washington dropped his end of the crate and took cover with the rest of the team. Cutler dragged the crate to safety and took a bullet in the leg for his trouble. Biggs noticed Cutler’s leg was not bleeding from the wound. Just then, the sound of a klaxon-like alarm began blaring through the hall.
Biggs scanned the far wall using his night vision. He could see gunfire coming from holes in the wall. The fire was heavy and continuous.
“There’s a false wall,” Biggs shouted. “They’re firing from behind a false wall. We’re about 50 feet from stairwell. It comes out near the front door. Dragon, roll another M-18. Taylor, lay down covering fire along that wall. Give us 20 seconds and then make your way toward the stairs.”
“Now, Dragon.” Dragon rolled the smoke grenade across the floor. It popped and smoke began to fill the gallery. Taylor sprayed fire along the far wall. The rest of the team began moving along the wall toward the stairs. Cutler did not mention his leg and he and Washington reached the stairs first with the crate. Stevens and Williams went into the stairwell ahead of them, but a hail of bullets coming from above and below turned them back.
As Dragon and Taylor retreated toward the door, more than a dozen Republican Guard raced across the gallery towards them, firing as they ran. First Dragon went down and then Taylor. More Iraqis emerged from behind the wall and began closing on the team near the doorway.
“Taylor, Dragon,” Biggs screamed into his helmet microphone. No response. Their escape cutoff, Biggs was trying to come up with a brilliant plan.
Washington was struck in the forehead and fell forward. Bullets were now coming from the advancing Iraqis in the gallery and through the door at their back. They were about to be overrun. Biggs braced himself for the inevitable. He was hit in the right shoulder and then the left knee. He felt himself hit the floor. The pain pulsed through his body. He could see Washington, Stevens, and Williams lying on the floor. The blur of Iraqi boots moving around him. This is not how he saw it ending when he signed up seven years ago.
He caught sight of Cutler sitting against the wall. He’d taken several more bullets, but was awake. He was fiddling with a device on his wrist. Cutler pushed a button on the device and a pillar of bluish-white light engulfed him and the crate of contraband. Cutler and the crate vanished. Then the light enveloped Biggs and he lost consciousness.
Biggs awoke strapped into his seat in the GMV. Stevens and Washington were asleep in the seats next to him. The driver was also asleep. He looked at his watch. 06:32. What the…? He checked his GPS. Their location showed as 38 miles southwest of Baghdad. The night before suddenly came rushing back to him. He checked for his wounds, but found not a scratch.
“How can that be?” Biggs asked aloud.
He woke the others in his vehicle and then radioed the other GMV. He instructed everyone to meet outside the vehicles. No one showed any signs of their injuries. The previous night lingered in the air like a violent, hideous hangover. Everyone remembered the events of the raid on the museum. Everyone remembered the firefight and trying to escape. Everyone remembered Cutler. Where was Cutler? How did they travel almost 40 miles to the middle of the desert without any memory of it? How were their wounds healed?
Biggs asked, “Did anyone else see the bluish beam of light?”
Not one member of the team recalled the light.
Biggs felt a lump in his throat and struggled to choke back tears. “All of you were down. I was down. I was sure we were all dead. Just before I lost consciousness I saw Cutler activate a device on his wrist. A bluish light filled the museum. The Iraqis were frozen. I mean, they weren’t moving. I saw Cutler and the crate disappear. I lost consciousness and then I woke up here.”
Dragon said, “Lieutenant, I’ve heard of shit like this happening. We can’t report this. They’ll say we’re whacked! They send you for counseling and you wind up wasting away in a psych ward at Walter Reed.”
“How can we not report it, sir?” asked Washington. “How do we explain that we failed our mission?”
Biggs noticed a large cut on Washington’s thumb. “Washington, where did you get that cut?”
“When we came under fire, I dropped my end of the crate and cut my hand.”
“All the rest of our wounds were healed, but not your hand. I wonder why.”
Biggs became aware of something round in his pocket. He reached in and pulled out a small polished stone with writing on it. It had strange writing all over it that looked like hieroglyphics.
“What’s that, sir,” asked Washington.
Biggs peered at the piece for a moment. “I don’t know,” he said.
“Sir,” Stevens said, “Three o’clock.”
The team saw three military police Humvees racing across the desert towards them. Biggs stuffed the item in his boot. The vehicles pulled up alongside the GMVs. A MP major emerged from the lead vehicle and approached the team.
“Lieutenant Lucas Biggs?” asked the major.
“You are under arrest for the theft of two GMVs and the equipment contained. You and your men will have to come with us.”
“Sir, we are on a classified mission authorized by CENTCOM,” Biggs protested.
Biggs looked incredulously at his men and then back at the major. He was tired and baffled. His training to obey kicked in. “Yes, sir.”
Ray Davis is an author, thinker, and advocate for human freedom and potential. Anunnaki Awakening: Revelation is his first novel and the opening salvo in speculative fiction trilogy exploring ideas about human origins and human destiny.
Anunnaki Princess Inanna enlists the help of White House correspondent Maria Love to end an age-old deception keeping humanity from reaching its full potential. Maria and Inanna battle political forces on both their worlds and beings from a higher dimension to reveal the secret and usher in a new era on Earth. must uncover an age-old deception keeping humanity from reaching its potential. The fate of two worlds and two races hangs in the balance.
Get your signed first edition copy of Anunnaki Awakening: Revelation or download the Kindle version from Amazon.