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it's been so fucking long since I've uploaded anything on here that I spent so much time forcing myself to remember to choose the category, gallery destination, links and polite requests for equally polite criticism in the comments that I forgot to fucking title the damn thing.

I also realise on retrospect that I never gave Charlotte Madison, Britain's first female Apache helicopter pilot and author of Dressed to Kill, a book that is as well-titled as it is well-written, the proper credit for providing the inspiration for that final segment of the chapter.

and by inspiration I mean if it wasn't for her I'd probably have absolutely no fucking idea what I was doing because I've never been deployed with an incident response team before. I can't even lie I just straight-up lifted some shit from her account because I tend to look upon military nonfiction just as a frame of reference even if it's laid out in the format of a story.

say what you like about books, but the early works of Chris Ryan and Andy McNab have, between them, given me more useful trivia about the SAS than all the websites on the internet that I've ever visited.

but I digress. I've been gone a goddamn fucking long time and believe it or not I actually quite missed some of you (if not the site itself. my deviantwatch is still filled with crap that you have to sift through to find the occasional gem, be that a user or an individual piece of art)

a lot's happened since I've last been here. I've been to the States twice to see my girlfriend, DennouParanoia, got a job, seen the Guardians of the Galaxy movie (which was even more hype than I'd dared hope for), finished several video games, moved house, been to the London Comic-Con (and cosplayed!!), had a birthday

oh also DennouParanoia (who is an incredibly talented artist, and I am in no way biased) is open for requests right now so if you fancy having something drawn then drop her a line

that's about all I have to say for now. have an excellent day/night/weekend/week, depending on what applies whilst you're reading this!
  • Mood: Artistic
  • Listening to: Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1
  • Reading: Dressed to Kill by Charlotte Madison
  • Watching: Game Grumps
  • Playing: Marvel: Avengers Alliance
  • Eating: ham and cheese baguette
  • Drinking: Coke
Jackal planted his boot on the corpse's shoulder and gave it a hard shove with his heel.
"Definitely not a native. Probably Chechen."
"We found two of his mates in the kitchen," explained the Marine who'd led them to the house. "Well, one and a half. Same deal as this guy. Caucasian. Red hair and beards."
Dice wasn't interested in the colour of the man's skin or hair. Her gaze was magnetised to the chest rig he was wearing. It wasn't the kind of cheap Russian one you saw most insurgents swanning about in, but a modular tactical rig like Jackal's, with a Kevlar bib to carry a small arms protective insert (SAPI) plate and a Pouch Attachment Ladder System, a network of heavy-duty nylon strips that allowed the wearer to customise the layout of their pouches. Slotted into the front and side pouches were magazines of 5.56 NATO ammunition, which was uncommon but not unusual; gun collectors had been modifying AK's to accept M4 and M16 magazines for years, but the dead insurgent hadn't been armed with an AK. The weapon they had literally taken from his cold, dead hands was an M4 Carbine, and it was the Real McCoy- not some Chinese knock-off.
"His mate was wearing this," the Marine said, passing something to Jackal. A patrol belt, with a PALS grid just like the vest. All the pouches contained ammunition and equipment that was Western in origin: pistol magazines, a medical kit, chem-lights, pens, batteries for night vision optics.
Several grim looks were exchanged, but nobody said anything.
"Doesn't make any sense," Jackal said as he stooped to examine the first mangled body.
"Yeah, no shit."
"No, I mean those Chechens being here. Doesn't make any sense."
Dice gave Jackal a funny look. Chechens were Islamic, a despised minority in the Northern Caucasus region of Russia, and so it didn't strike her as being the least bit odd that they should choose to side with local insurgency, even if it was on a strictly mercenary basis. She'd even exchanged fire with Uzbek and Pakistani insurgents before now; it just wasn't often that you got a chance to get this close. In any case, it seemed to her that the presence of Caucasian fighters was about the least unusual thing about this whole situation.
"I didn't mean in this part of the country," Jackal continued, a split-second before she was about to open her mouth. "I meant right here in this building. Doesn't make any sense to have a three-man detail in this place. There's nothing here- nothing worth guarding anyway, and the windows don't offer any decent sight lines. Why weren't they up on the roof if they were so dead set on- no, check that. Why were they so dead set on guarding this building in the first place?"
What Jackal was saying made sense the more she thought about it, and in turn the situation itself made less sense.
The nagging feeling that something about this operation wasn't quite kosher had returned in force, like a persistent itch that she just couldn't scratch. They'd already swept most of the village, and although they'd turned up a shitload of bodies and a lot of guns and other contraband they'd managed to gain very little in the way of solid intel. A few mobile phones and personal radios, fairly sizeable amounts of cash and drugs, a wrist-mounted GPS locator like the kind you could pick up on eBay, a couple of dog-eared and almost definitely forged passports, another one that had been twisted to a blackened mess by flames, but no hard drives, no laptops and certainly no USB drives.
Not the kind of operation you send a company of Royal Marine Commandos supervised by a special forces operator to carry out, and certainly not one that justified the presence of a Nimrod and an AC-130. Dice's first thought was that it could have just been bum intel, but her instincts, and the Western kit they'd found on the dead Chechens, told her otherwise.
The living conditions in the building were basic, but that was nothing unusual in this part of the world. There was no sofa, no flat-screen TV or air conditioning- just a flimsy-looking wooden table, a couple of tin mugs and a cooking pot containing the congealing remains of what looked like some kind of meat curry (the blackened embers on the stove had burned out long ago). The one vanity was a traditional Afghan carpet hanging on the wall, hand-woven and decorated with intricate octagonal patterns; the once-vibrant colours had been washed out by a thin coating of dust, and there was nothing covering the stone floor besides a few matresses and bedding rolls. There were, however, a couple of pillows, a rare luxury that the fighters rarely afforded themselves, doubtless out of some kind of macho pride.
Dice mopped the sweat off her brow with the back of her wrist, rolling her aching shoulders. The thought of sleep was almost painful after going so long without it. Worse, she'd been lugging around 45 pounds of equipment for the last three hours, and without the rush of adrenaline from combat to keep it at bay fatigue was starting to set in. She slouched backwards against the wall, thinking wistfully of the half-finished packet of Lambert and Butlers under her pillow back at Bastion, and then stopped as a gradual realisation clawed its way into the forefront of her slightly shell-shocked mind.
"Jackal?"
"Yeah?"
"I think we've got something."
The special forces man crossed the room in three strides, examining the carpet for a moment as Dice stepped back from the wall. She slapped her palm against it three times, but rather than the hard, flat smack of her hand impacting stone there was a muffled thump, as though the surface behind it was-
"Hollow," they said, nearly in unison.

Jackal tore the carpet down and tossed it aside, exhaling hard through his nose as the outline of a doorway behind it was revealed.
"Clever bastards," Dice whispered, a note of grudging admiration in her voice. "How long d'you reckon it would've been until we found this?"
"I can't believe we missed it the first time round," Jackal replied, in a way that suggested he was mentally kicking himself. "Let the OC know," he told one of the Marines, who nodded and headed back outside to notify Morris.
Dice watched as Jackal reached into his trouser pocket and produced a stubby folding knife. He dropped to one knee, flicked it open, and slid the blade - which was no longer than his thumb - into the crack between the hidden panel and the wall, slowly tracing the outline of the doorway.
"No tripwires," he reported, after a tense moment of silence.
"So how do you want to do this?" Dice asked, letting out a breath she hadn't realised she was holding.
"Well, since neither of us can see through walls I'd say our best bet is to do a hard entry. Stack on me."
Dice and the other Marines readied and steadied themselves as Jackal got into position. Door breaches were usually carried out using either a shaped explosive charge or a shotgun loaded with specially-designed ammunition, but there was no need for any of that shit in this instance. He just took a few steps back and drove his boot hard into the wooden surface, splintering it with a couple of kicks and demolishing it with a third. Broken pieces of panelling clattered nosily to the floor.
Dice tensed, waiting for...what? A hail of gunfire to tear them to shreds? A heroin-fuelled insurgent to burst from the shadows like some imagined monster from her childhood?
Whatever it was, it never came. Instead there was silence, an absence of noise so intense that it created a yawning vaccuum hungry to be filled by the sound of her breathing. Her heart drummed a tattoo against her ribcage, blood pounding in her ears. The inside of the room was black as pitch, and as she drew in a breath she tasted dust at the back of her throat.
More silence.
"Night vision on," Jackal said quietly.
As one, they flipped their night optics down over their faces. Dice and the other Marines wore the standard-issue Head-Mounted Night Vision System (HMNVS), a monocular which could be hand-held or mounted on a rifle or helmet. Jackal wore a pair of Panoramic Night Vision Goggles, or PNVGs. The US Air Force had experimented with the goggles in the past, and they had recently been adopted by ground-based special operations units. Simply put, they allowed the wearer to see more by giving you a wider field of view by using four lenses instead of the more common two. In the green hue of the night vision device, the goggles gave Jackal an alien, bug-eyed look; in fact, with his head and face hidden by his helmet and balaclava, Dice found herself thinking that he looked like something out of Star Wars.
Staring at the back of Jackal's helmet as the muzzle of his rifle took the lead, Dice followed him through the opening. The PEQ-2 on his rifle stayed off, an IR filter covering the lens of his torch so as not to interfere with his night vision. The room was larger than she'd been expecting, long and rectangular like a hallway instead of square like the one they'd come from. The floor was carpeted with all kinds of rubbish, from empty burlap sacks to wooden boxes, and as her night vision afforded little to no depth perception she found herself unable to stop her boots crunching and rustling the debris underfoot.
To her left stood a plastic table, and atop that was what looked like a bomb-maker's workshop. There were several mobile phones, wired to plastic bottles and held in place with duct tape, about a dozen bricks of Semtex and a container full of tennis balls, several of which had already been cut in half. There was a laptop, a half-empty box of nails, rolls of tape, scissors, pliers, batteries, an alarm clock, plastic bags, lengths of detonating cord...everything an enterprising terrorist needed to send some poor bastard home missing a limb or worse.
She glanced over to Jackal, who hadn't lowered his weapon. Then, with a jolt, she realised what he was looking at.
At the far end of the room was a man, strapped to a chair and slumped forward, either dead or unconscious. He was barefoot, a black hood over his head and a large, dark stain down the front of his shirt. Through the night vision everything looked green, but Dice didn't need a closer look to know that it was blood.
"Zero, this is Jackal. Come in."
"Zero copies. Send, over."
"Be advised; location secured, but we've found a room hidden behind a rug on the wall. We missed it on the initial sweep. There's a bomb factory in here, and a guy strapped to a chair."
Keeping the beam of the torch on the man's face, Jackal pulled off the hood with his left hand. The man had a round face, with a prominent jaw, large ears, a badly swollen eye, a broken nose, and two coagulated streams of blood starting at his nostrils and meeting in his beard, which was matted with sweat and claret. At first, the beard and the clothing made Dice think he was an Arab. It wasn't until Jackal spoke again that she realised her mistake.
"Caucasian male. Late 20's to early 30's. Judging by the smell, he's been here a while."
At first Dice didn't realise what what Jackal meant. The man had obviously been badly beaten and likely tortured, but he wasn't decomposing. Then she leaned closer to get a better look at his face, and grimaced as the stink of human excrement hit her nostrils. He'd been sitting in his own piss and shit for days.
"Interrogative; what's the severity of his injuries?"
Jackal reached out with his free hand, extending his index and middle finger as though miming a handgun and applying pressure to the hollow of the man's neck.
"The Fully Monty," Jackal said grimly, his fingers still on the man's carotid artery. "Looks like a T1. Vital signs absent- no, wait. Correction; I've got a pulse. It's thready, but he's still alive."
You poor bastard, Dice thought as Zero's affirmed that they'd received Jackal's last transmission. God only knew what he'd doing to get himself captured by this lot. Until now, she'd only ever heard stories of what happened to prisoners in this neck of the woods; it wasn't often that either side got the chance to take any.
"What's the status of that IRT?" Jackal wanted to know.
"Two minutes out," Zero replied.

Then several things happened very quickly.
Dice's ears registered the sound of a mobile phone ringing. The bottom seemed to drop out of her stomach, and her blood turned to ice water. Jackal screamed something that could've been bomb or run or both, not so much pushing her out the door as throwing her, knocking the wind out of her. For a moment she was in limbo, half her brain screaming at her body to act while the other half worked frantically to try and figure out what to do, knowing that it was pointless anyway, that they were fucked-
And then a split-second later, it happened.
The blast wave didn't just knock Dice off her feet. It picked her up and threw her, scooping her up in a maelstrom of heat and noise and pain. Debris smashed into her back and side plates, battering her unprotected limbs, breaking skin, drawing blood. As a kid, she'd lost one of her front teeth after being hit in the face with a cricket ball; the sensation could've been called similar, except it was magnified a hundredfold, and instead of the pain being concentrated in one place it was in a hundred different parts of her body. She'd lost all sense of direction, only realising which way was down when the ground rose to meet her, smashing into her like a giant fist and sending pain lancing up her right side.
Then she opened her eyes, though she didn't remember closing them, and as her consciousness returned the pain accompanied it. Her mouth tasted like blood and dirt, and she couldn't hear anything except what sounded like a high-pitched dial tone, a single unbroken note in her ears that kept going and going and just wouldn't stop.
Fuck. I can't feel my legs. Fuck. Fuck.
It was shock. It had to be. The reason she couldn't feel anything from the waist down was because she'd lost both her legs and she was in shock. Should she look, she wondered? No. She couldn't. Fuck. She couldn't. Images of jagged splinters of bone and tendrils of severed arteries protruding from the mangled stumps of what used to be her knees flashed through her mind's eye, and she felt her gorge rise as another wave of the shakes took hold of her.
She was aware of movement beside her, dust billowing as a human head slammed into the floor a few feet away, mercifully still attached to a pair of shoulders. A British forces-issue combat boot was pressing down on the man's neck, the muzzle of a rifle inches from the back of his skull.
She didn't understand why there were zip cuffs around Alan's wrists until she saw that one of the Marines was wrestling a dusty Nokia from his fingers, and realisation hit her like a sucker punch.
Dice had once caught the quiet Afghan interpreter looking at a photograph of his family, and had plied him with a cigarette and a stick of chewing gum in order to see for herself. He'd smiled shyly when she'd said his little girl was beautiful, asking her in English if she had any family of her own. He'd always wanted to go to England. He said he'd seen photos of it in a book while studying the language at Kabul University, and had always wanted to visit Stonehenge.
"I'm sorry," the interpreter kept saying, his dark eyes watery. Dice couldn't hear his voice, but she could see his lips moving, repeating the same thing over and over as though imploring her to understand. "They made me do it," he was saying. "They made me."
She opened her mouth to say something, but what was supposed to be you bastard or something similar came out as a strangled cough that was barely audible even to her. Her throat felt as though someone had been rubbing it with sandpaper. For a minute she felt as though she was going to be sick, and wondered if she might choke to death on her own vomit like Jimi Hendrix. That was no way for a Royal Marine to die, she reflected.
The next thing she knew, hands were hooking under her arms, lifting her onto a stretcher as rotor wash billowed around her, dust particles stinging her eyes as her mates stooped to shield her from it as best they could. The ringing in her ears was subsiding, replaced by the prop of the chopper's blades and the urgent voices of the people around her, men and women wearing camouflage and rubber gloves. She could barely make out what was being said above the pounding of the rotors and the din of the engine, hand signals spelling out a dialect she couldn't understand and lips shaping numbers and words that meant nothing to her.
When the next stretcher was brought on board, she didn't recognise the body at first, mummified as it was with field dressings and tourniquets. One of the IRT members hovered beside the stretcher as two Marines set it down, holding aloft a bag of clear fluid marked with an O; the IV line trailed below the bag, disappearing beneath the dressings like a snake trying to evade a predator. The other medics swarmed like worker bees, hooking him up to important-looking machines and moving with all the grace and precision of synchronised swimmers even in the cramped confines of the chopper's belly. Naked from the waist up, what little could be seen of the man's face was caked in filth, fresh claret glistening around the edges of the raised, black lumps of dried blood on his nose and cheeks. The rest of his head was covered in bandages, the neck brace beneath his chin reminding Dice bizarrely of the lower part of a medieval knight's helmet. His torso was spattered with blood and muck, his chest, shoulders, and upper arms pock-marked with lacerations that varied from the size of papercuts to deep, ugly gashes like those you'd expect from a knife attack.
It was a phenomenal effort for Dice just to raise her arm high enough to reach Jackal's hand, and the act of simply curling her fingers to squeeze his brought tears to her eyes for reasons unrelated to the physical trauma she'd sustained.
Telling him to hold on was as pointless as it was painful, but she did that too, and for a fractional moment she was positive she could feel his hand tightening around hers.
Bullet Points: Chapter 7
oh hey guys look it's that chapter of Exit Wounds that I've been saying I was close to finishing for like the past year

I feel like I should apologise to the three or four of you who actually give a shit about this series for making you wait but by this point it'd sound more like a joke than anything and to be quite honest I'm just bloody relieved I've got it done and also oddly satisfied with the finished product

I give it about a week before I start nitpicking things and hating this and how long it took to churn it out.

admittedly the entire concept is a little heavy-handed but at the end of the day this is a Call of Duty fanfiction not the works of Shakespeare.

if you'd like to point out anything you think I could've done better and spare me the trouble of having to be my own critic that would be absolutely swell; just make sure that rather than just saying "I don't like [thing]" you say "I don't like [thing] because [reason]".

as always, you're strongly advised to read the first chapters of this story if you want any of this to make sense.

the first chapter is here: [link]
here's the second: [link]
the third is here: [link]
the fourth one is here: [link]
chapter five is here: [link]
and chapter six is here: [link]

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series is © Infinity Ward (I don't even know why I'm bothering to credit you assholes any more given how much you've made me hate the series and pretty much become the reason I no longer have any muse for this shit)
"Jackal" © ~metalzerofour
Elizabeth "Dice" Hankard © ~JJesseh
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it's been so fucking long since I've uploaded anything on here that I spent so much time forcing myself to remember to choose the category, gallery destination, links and polite requests for equally polite criticism in the comments that I forgot to fucking title the damn thing.

I also realise on retrospect that I never gave Charlotte Madison, Britain's first female Apache helicopter pilot and author of Dressed to Kill, a book that is as well-titled as it is well-written, the proper credit for providing the inspiration for that final segment of the chapter.

and by inspiration I mean if it wasn't for her I'd probably have absolutely no fucking idea what I was doing because I've never been deployed with an incident response team before. I can't even lie I just straight-up lifted some shit from her account because I tend to look upon military nonfiction just as a frame of reference even if it's laid out in the format of a story.

say what you like about books, but the early works of Chris Ryan and Andy McNab have, between them, given me more useful trivia about the SAS than all the websites on the internet that I've ever visited.

but I digress. I've been gone a goddamn fucking long time and believe it or not I actually quite missed some of you (if not the site itself. my deviantwatch is still filled with crap that you have to sift through to find the occasional gem, be that a user or an individual piece of art)

a lot's happened since I've last been here. I've been to the States twice to see my girlfriend, DennouParanoia, got a job, seen the Guardians of the Galaxy movie (which was even more hype than I'd dared hope for), finished several video games, moved house, been to the London Comic-Con (and cosplayed!!), had a birthday

oh also DennouParanoia (who is an incredibly talented artist, and I am in no way biased) is open for requests right now so if you fancy having something drawn then drop her a line

that's about all I have to say for now. have an excellent day/night/weekend/week, depending on what applies whilst you're reading this!
  • Mood: Artistic
  • Listening to: Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1
  • Reading: Dressed to Kill by Charlotte Madison
  • Watching: Game Grumps
  • Playing: Marvel: Avengers Alliance
  • Eating: ham and cheese baguette
  • Drinking: Coke

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metalzerofour
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:iconmaster-dust:
Master-Dust Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2014  Student General Artist
Shit, favs all over the place

So, somehow I'd not watched you on this account
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:iconrenegad3spectre:
Renegad3Spectre Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
happy birthday!
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:icond3z3r4y4h:
D3Z3R4Y4H Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
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:iconmarkdobson:
MarkDobson Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2014
Thx for the Faves! :)
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:iconprodigious-singleton:
Prodigious-Singleton Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Thanks for the favorites!
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:iconjoe-roberts:
Joe-Roberts Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks for faving Halo :)
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:iconmetalzerofour:
metalzerofour Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
My pleasure. I'm a big fan of your work.
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:iconoreckk:
oreckk Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks a lot for the fave!! :) If you want check out my gallery ;)
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:iconhangmen13:
Hangmen13 Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2013
Thanks for the favs, and long time no see!

Hope to see you around more often on DA.
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:iconmetalzerofour:
metalzerofour Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Here's hoping. I'm a hair's breadth from finishing the newest chapter of Bullet Points, but starting and finishing stories are always the hardest parts.
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