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They moved quickly now, all attempts at stealth had fallen by the wayside. There were only four of them, they moved in a file up the narrow trail, they had abandoned all pretense at stealth but not yet all caution. They moved quickly, in sync, as men who lived and fought together were wont to do after a time but the gaps between them were never less than ten meters. These hills were crawling with their enemies and so they did not want to present too easy a target. At a signal from the point man they came to a quick halt, each taking what cover they could on the steep trail. The team leader moved up to consult with the point man, feeling terribly exposed on the mountainside with dawn fast approaching.

"What's up Griff?" Tomlin, the team leader, whispered. Griff's response was a subtle shake of the head. A bad sign, Griff hadn't survived on point this long without a nose for trouble. Tomlin gave him a minute, knowing they really didn't have the time but knowing better by now than to rush Griff to judgment. Griff gave the signal to wait and took a small 5 meter sprint to a boulder just ahead, he paused there a moment and then pulled himself up the steep mountainside for about ten meters. Tomlin kept his eyes on the trail ahead, Chuckie was covering the rear, and Federev switched from watching the left to the right every ten seconds or so. No one said anything or betrayed any sign of lagging confidence. This small four man recon team had worked together all through Iraq, they had each of them survived by placing their faith in their brothers, now the mountains of Afghanistan rose above and fell below. They'd been running for about six hours now, they'd come under fire as they had been moving toward the Khyber Pass. The mission was not a typical LRRP (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol), for one their squad had been broken down and deployed as fire teams which for extended jaunts like this one wasn't unheard of but it wasn't necessarily typical either. Each team was taking a different route over the border into Pakistan, they'd link up on the far side, compare notes and then redeploy among the hills in four man teams again. The idea was to cover a lot of ground and hopefully avoid contact all together, there was supposed to be, according to the intel weenies a training camp in their designated patrol area. So they were supposed to find it and tag it for the airdales.

Of course everything had to go to shit in a hurry, a whole fucking platoon of Taliban fighters had shown up just as they started their climb, they'd been exposed for just under a minute. It had been unavoidable, there hadn't been anyplace better to hit their chosen trail. It seemed like an hour before the bird-call came, Tomlin answered with a few much less skillfull tweets of his own, recieved a response and turned back down the trail to signal Federev with the mini-glowstick he had under his tongue, Federev clicked over the comm once. Message received and relayed, the comm click would alert Charlie to look back. In a few minutes they had pulled themselves up to join Griff, once everyone was up Griff moved off on a small narrow trail, it rose for about ten meters then doubled back on itself for five more ending in a cave mouth. The wind was whistling out of the cave, which meant an exit or a chimney of some sort but it was hard to tell which it might be. They pooled into the cave mouth and finally started talking a bit more openly over their tactical mikes. All you really had to do was sub-vocalize, the odds of being heard were slim but to a man they could recall their Instructors drilling into them not to trust in the tech so much they couldn't do without it. So in school they hadn't had them to use and so had been forced to come up with novel ways of communicating, even in the dark. Also as a result they were forced to get to know one another, you had to be able to read your teammates body language, be able to pickup on the nuances of each man you fought beside. So if the comm failed it wouldn't matter.

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