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2132: Decimation

Updated: Feb 15

By Devika Hardikar


The Russian cargo ship rocked gently in the calm Indian Ocean, the port side dipping down every so often over the white tipped waves. The sky was black. It always was. Only occasionally giving way for stars and the moon to glimmer over the water, before quickly drawing back the curtain. 

A black military dinghy crept up on the vessel ten miles away, filled with five Navy SEALs. Noah Clay, fiddled with his comm system clipped to the stap of his vest as he sat in the middle seat. He could barely make out the shape of the cargo ship ahead. “Getting antsy there, Clay?” 

Noah glanced behind him to see Trenton Reyes tightening his belt and adjusting his lofty black mask. Noah gave him an uncharacteristic chuckle, 

“Nothing phases me anymore Reyes.” 

“Right. Nothing except that conversation between you and the captain yesterday.” Reyes laughed and clapped Noah on the helmet. Noah remained less than amused. “Nah, the captain doesn't bother me. All I was saying is that I could have completed this mission on my own with my eyes closed.” 

Amusement glimmered in Reyes’ eyes as he yanked on his mask. 

“Look, I know you don't support this horrendous operation, but don’t be a fool. And don’t try something stupid. You’ve been here long enough to know what happens if you do.” Noah leaned back and cocked a slight grin, his dimples growing more and more noticeable. 

“Me? Stupid? Never.” 

“It wouldn’t be the first time you disobeyed orders now would it?” 

“If I didn’t know better, I’d say that you’re starting to sound like Captain Dwight Himself.” 

They fell silent as they drew near to the ship. Its wide body was impressive, especially against the small Navy dingy. Multi Coloured crates were stacked high on deck, towering over the murky waters below. Adrenaline made Noah’s insides quiver as the point men cast their hooks over the side of the ship. Quietly, the team clipped themselves to the cable wire and began scaling the broad surface of the ship. Noah waited impatiently as the 

three men ahead of him took their precious time moving up. Finally, he was on his way to the top. He pressed his rubber boots firmly in place after each step and swung himself over the railing onto the deck. Another voice cackled in his ear. 

“Are we a go, SEAL team 7?” 

Another voice, the commander of the squad, answered. 

“Affirmative.” 

Noah looked up at the dank sky. He could faintly make out the blink of a helicopter above the cloud cover. There was a faint pop and the class around the captain’s area above the main deck shattered. The captain or whoever was unlucky enough to be inside, was dead. The team was ready to move in. Noah shook himself. This was a pointless suicide mission. Apparently the military had picked up radio chatter that there was a group of

Bolshevik terrorists on board the cargo ship, as well as its leader, Dimyan Egor. The chopper in the air was most likely going to take out the other terrorists while Noah’s group extracted the elated to be held for interrogation. It sure seemed like a good plan, but there was not a chance in hell that Egor could out willingly. Or unarmed. Russian terrorists were smart, and they wouldn't be moving location on a cargo ship without being prepared for some kind of military attack. 

Noah had confronted Capin Dwight multiple times before the mission to simply bomb the entire ship. Easy. A dead bolshevik leader was sure to hurt the rest of the group around the world. Captain David, however, refused to even listen to Noah’s reasoning. Noah moved with his group along the railing of the deck and they went underneath the first floor, guns raised. Noah ran a finger over the trigger of his DMR that he affectionately named Flo. They came to a floor where more storage crates were kept, one on top of the other. "Reyes, flank left." 

Noah glanced at Commander Smith, who was signaling to his friend. Reyes sneaked forward, covering the area. 

The rest of the team spread out, taking soft, measured steps. 

"Clay," the commander whispered in his ear, "Move up, this area's clear. Air Team is in position." 

Noah did as he was told and inched forward until he came to the end of the long row of crates. He turned the handle of the door slowly before entering. The others were close behind. The Air Team couldn't fire until Egor was secure. 

"Team 7, do you copy?" Captain Dwight asked. 

"Yes, sir." Commander Smith replied. "The storage deck is clear, moving in." They made their way down near the barracks of the ship, where the men would probably be sleeping or playing cards. There were two rooms separating them from the targets. 

Captain Dwight was stationed on board another ship fifty miles away, watching the whole operation on a thermal camera, so he knew where every warm body on board was. The cameras could detect the individuals, but not identify them. They had to find Egor before the Air Team could destroy the other terrorists. 

Noah was following behind Reyes when he noticed movement at the far end of the hall. He squinted in the darkness, but couldn't make out anything specific. "Hold." He whispered urgently. The team slowed to a stop. "Movement at 4 o'clock." "Clay," The captain's voice made Noah stiffen. "We don't have time to go chasing rabbit trails tonight. Are you sure you saw something?" 

"Of course I did," Noha growled, and then added curtly, "sir." 

"Sir, we need to get in here fast. We'll let the Air Team take care of the rest." Commander Smith refuted. 

"Affirmative." 

Noah huffed angrily. There was probably someone ready to snipe them from behind and they still moved forward. 

He'd noticed in the four years that he'd been with the Navy that no one else questioned their superiors. Why? They were human too; what if they were wrong? He watched as they proceeded to the next room and he decided to take a few steps back. 

He glanced apprehensively as his team moved forward without him before dashing to the other side of the hallway, rifle close to his chest. He saw the light from a door being

opened and closed down another corridor and crawled forward. Did the Bolsheviks already know they were there? 

"Agent Clay, you are out of position." Captain Dwight snapped. 

"Sir, there is someone over here. I'm covering my team while they clear the next rooms." 

"I don't have any further movement on my cameras, son. Everyone we need is in the barracks, except for the deceased captain and a few of the kitchen staff." "But I can see someone!" 

"You are going against orders, marksman. I will not tolerate this behavior." Noah hesitated. He knew someone was down there. So maybe it wasn't anyone important, but what if it was? 

"If you take one more step," The captain said evenly, "You are out of this mission and will be temporarily discharged." 

Noah clutched his gun tightly. It was time someone took him seriously. With a gulp he yanked his earpiece out and moved forward. He stayed low and went quickly down the hallway, opening the door to a fire escape. He caught a glimpse of a figure jogging down the metal grated stairway, about halfway down. He immediately noticed a large bulge under the man's hoodie. 

Noah's eyes widened. 

Forgetting about how much trouble he was in, Noah rewired his earpiece. "Captain Dwight, do you copy?" 

Only static followed. 



Noah swore under his breath. They'd disconnected him. 

A small part of him told him to go rejoin the squad, but his feet were already making their way down the stairs. 

No, he thought, if they want to think I'm crazy, that's their problem. 

He followed the elusive figure down to the boiler room. Puffs of steam hissed from the metal pipes that surrounded the maze-like room. That's when Noah's adrenaline turned to fear. If this guy was really a suicide bomber... 

Noah whirled around, doing a complete 360. He'd lost sight of his target and now he was trapped in a room with him. Why had he followed him down here in the first place? A million mistakes jolted him to the core. From all the training he'd received, how could he have been so stupid? 

"Kto ty?" 

Noah spun towards his six, lifting his gun. 

A young man with a close-shaven beard stood behind him, fingers twitching at his sides. He looked extremely nervous. 

"American?" He asked, his Russian accent thick. 

Noah gulped. Should he shoot or would that alert the other terrorists of his position? He'd endangered their mission enough already. 

He didn't have to wonder for long, however. 

The man gave Noah a measured stare before lifting his hoodie to reveal a box of wires and explosives strapped to his chest. 

His gaze was still locked on a frozen Noah when he muttered, "V svobodnyy mir." To the free world.

Noah pulled the trigger of his rifle several times, pelting the man with bullets to the chest, but the detonator had already been set. 

The man slumped forward, face first, as blood oozed from his back. 

Beep...beep... 

Noah didn't waste any time. He tore through the broiler room, dodging protruding pipes and being blasted in the face by hot steam. 

Beep...beep.. 

The door to the fire escape came into view as Noah pumped his legs harder. He was about to reach the handle when a deafening blast flung him to the ground. All around him pipes exploded, sending shrapnel everywhere. The smell of gunpowder and smoke assaulted his nose as he tried to pick himself up. He managed to wedge the door open and crawl into the fire escape. Alarms began to blare throughout the cargo ship as Noah stumbled back up the stairs. 

His ears rang and his thoughts were foggy. He had to get to his team before He heard the sound of another blast somewhere else on deck. 

His jaw went slack. 

No... 

The first explosion had been a signal. Now the entire ship knew that the Navy was on board. And they were prepared. 

As Noah made a mad dash up the stairway, his thoughts sped along with him. Had they placed these kamikazes all over the ship? If it underwent many more blows, the whole thing would sink eventually. 

Through the chaos ,Noah heard shouting in his comm again. He thrust it in his ear to hear voices yelling back and forth. 

"We need an extraction team." 

"Abort mission!" 

Dread filled Noah's entire being. "This is Marksman Noah Clay, I have information. Do you copy?" 

The rest of the radio lines were immediately silenced to make room for Noah. "Copy." Captain Dwight said, his tone strained. 

"There are suicide bombers on board and they know we're here." Noah's voice hitched. "We've been compromised."

A string of curses ensued. "We need to get this squad out before the whole thing blows. Air Team, do you copy?" 

Noah didn't waste time listening. He sprinted down the hallway, navigating his way to the barracks where the rest of his team had been heading. 

Another explosion from the deck below shook the ground. 

He tore through two rooms, not stopping to clear the area. If his squad died.. He burst into the barracks area, expecting to find a room full of terrorists demolishing his team. Instead, it was empty. The room was a mess as if the whole crew had evacuated within a matter of seconds. Rows of bunk beds were overturned and leaning against one another and papers were flung everywhere. A body was sprawled across a fold-out table, blood staining the cards on its surface. 

Noah crept closer, simultaneously pulling out a picture he'd been given of the suspected Dimyan Egor. 

With a cringe, Noah turned the bloodied face towards him. Sightless eyes stared back. 

Dimyan Egor. 

Noah immediately recognized the cause of death as a rifle shot to the skull. Who would have shot him? Why? 

Suddenly the door behind him was flung open and two SEALs entered, guns poised. "Clay?" 

It was Reyes. 

"Captain, we've got him." The other man, Jasper, said. 

"Wait, what?" 

They moved forward and grabbed Noah by the arms but stopped when they saw Egor's body. 

Jasper surveyed the wound. "I would've never thought it of you, Clay." He growled, and then spoke into his radio, glaring at Noah. "Sir, hostage target down." "We have to get out of here." Reyes said coolly. 

Noah followed them down a hallway towards the boat waiting in the water. "This was all a trap; we've already lost one man." Reyes said, jogging next to Noah. "Who?" 

"Commander Smith." 

Noah felt like throwing up. "But-how? The thermal cameras-" 

"All kamikazes, they dispersed as soon as the first explosion went off and they're tearing this ship apart." 

As if on cue, the wall next to them exploded in a rain of fire and rubble. Jasper collapsed to the ground as blood sprayed from his temple just as another blast exploded in front of them. 

Reyes pulled Noah along. "No time." He gasped. 

They ran full-speed down the hall, squinting in the dust. Noah's head spun as they came into the open. The huge crates towered above them, blocking the chilly ocean wind and creating an eerie silence. 

Captain Dwight’s voice buzzed in Noah's ear. "We can't send the Air Team in for extraction. You're going to have to find the dinghy without aid." 

They rounded a corner and stopped dead in their tracks. A SEAL was lying on his side in a pool of his own blood.

"That's...that's our whole team." Reyes whispered. "We're the only ones left." Another explosion erupted, except this time it was closer. Much closer. Two more were set off in rapid succession. 

"They're blowing up the cargo crates!" Noah yelled, jerking Reyes into a dead sprint. They ran for everything they had as crates burst apart all around them. They managed to narrowly dodge most of the blows, until one detonated right next to Reyes. 

Despite the bone-shattering noise, Noah heard a scream tear through the debris. He looked over to see Reyes on the ground, blood spurting from where his legs were supposed to be. 

Noah dropped his gun and immediately bundled his friend in his arms, his breaths coming in short rasps. Reyes groaned and screamed in agony and Noah only made it a few steps before a blast sent him toppling to the ground. 

"Leave me!" Reyes cried, his words pinched. 

Noah stared down at his friend...or what was left of him. Both of his legs were completely gone and he was bleeding out fast. 

"Captain, we've gotta get help down here!" Noah shouted into his earpiece out of sheer desperation as he held back a sob. There wasn't a response. 

Reyes stared up at him, his face charred and half melted from the fire. His mouth vaguely formed the word Go before his body relaxed and went limp. 

Tears streaming down his face, Noah stayed low and began weaving through the maze of exploding crates. 

The dinghy should have been somewhere nearby. There wasn't enough time to get down there safely, anyway. 

Noah narrowed his mind, focusing on his speed, and running straight forward. He ignored the crates bursting with dangerous shrapnel around him and aimed for the bow of the ship. Shards of wood and metal scraped and stabbed his flesh as he pumped his legs harder. He used his momentum to leap over the ship's railing and propel himself overboard. 

For a split second, everything went in slow motion. As the black water hurtled closer, he saw the glow of orange fire reflecting on it. In a twisted sort of way, it was beautiful. Serene, almost. 

As soon as he hit the surface of the ocean, pain rattled his bones and all the lights blinked out.


By Devika Hardikar



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Pradeep Hardikar
Pradeep Hardikar
Jan 20
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Wow! Something so different, Loved it.

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Nikhil Hardikar
Nikhil Hardikar
Jan 16
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Way to go Devika !

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Saloni Rane
Saloni Rane
Jan 15
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Yes.

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Mahi Naikawadi
Mahi Naikawadi
Jan 15
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Well written

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Neoma B
Neoma B
Jan 15
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Amazing work

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