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"Christ, it's turning into a sodding convention down there,"
Jackal's zeroing shots had sent the enemy apoplectic, and from the looks of things they'd also been alerted to the presence of the Royal Marines, who had been told to go firm, or hold their positions, by the company commander.
There certainly were a lot of the fuckers. There were blokes in robes and pyjamas flooding out of houses, from behind rocks and trees, so many and so fast that it seemed they were almost materialising out of the darkness. That old chestnut about moths to a flame wasn't very appropriate in this instance, Dice found herself thinking. It seemed Alpha One Zero had become a magnet, and the insurgents were extremely pissed-off iron filings.
In and around the village, dozens of muzzle flashes were winking on and off like faulty lightbulbs as the insurgents opened up on where they must have roughly guessed the Marines were. They seemed to be relying on the school of thought that the Yanks favoured – if I fill every square inch of the air with lead then I'm bound to hit something sooner or later, right?
Wrong, thought Dice, smiling wolfishly to herself as a quote from a war movie she'd watched with the lads a while back came to mind. The grunt dies for a thousand poorly-placed rounds. The sniper dies for that one perfect shot.
In this instance, that couldn't have been more true. It was standard procedure (not to mention common fucking sense) to spread out in a firefight, to avoid bunching up and preventing one target; the Marines were spaced roughly five metres apart from one another, and shielded not only by the village wall but also the wadi in which they had taken up firing positions. A wadi is an Arabic term for a dry gully or riverbed, and it provided a trench of sorts that offered the Marines protection from the worst of the incoming fire. Short of a lucky direct hit from a rocket-propelled grenade, they didn't have a lot to worry about.

The steady crack of the Marines' concentrated fire, punctuated by the intermittent thumping of their light machine guns, seemed somewhat weedy in comparison to the sporadic and sustained bleating of enemy fire coming their way; what the insurgents didn't realise, however, was that the assault force was just a decoy.
It had taken Dice a while to figure it out herself, but at long last it was starting to make sense why they'd been loaned that AC-130 in the first place, and why Jackal had been assigned to their unit in the first place. Like all soldiers of his ilk, he was schooled not only in the art of sniping but also of Forward Air Control (FAC), meaning that he not only had the authority to boss the Great Big Tank In The Sky around but also the know-how required to co-ordinate an effective strike. All they had to do was rely on the enemy's own bloated egos, and the stupid bastards would bait the trap for them.
It wasn't long before Jackal scored his first kill. With a little help from Dice, he managed to draw a bead on a target who was making a particular nuisance of himself, popping off RPG's from the second-floor window of a house before ducking out of sight to reload.
"He's at your eleven o'clock, mate. You see the smoke trail?"
"Last house from the left, yeah?"
"That's the one. You wait, he'll pop his head out any second now."
Speak of the devil Dice thought as the RPG man surfaced again. She watched as he shouldered the launcher, and for a moment she noticed him hesitating as though trying to decide who or what he wanted to shoot at first.
The very thought sent a surge of righteous anger through her.
You terrorist cunt.
"You got him?"
"I got him."

Jackal fired.
Dice saw the results of the impact first-hand through her spotter's scope. First there was a technicolour explosion of blood and flesh; then a split-second later there was an explosion that sent a massive gout of flame spewing upwards, taking most of the roof with it. The insurgent's finger must have tightened around the trigger of the launcher on reflex when the round struck him, for the RPG had evidently struck the roof, hopefully taking out a couple of his mates with it. She let out a long, slow whistle as bits of burning masonry rained down, the gutted building belching pillars of smoke skywards.
"Fucking hell! OK, so...two-man RPG team and probably a couple more squirters on that floor...that must've been at least three or four more kills, eh?"
Jackal shot her a cheeky wink. She guessed that meant he was smiling, but that bloody mask made it impossible to tell.
After a few more kills, the VHF crackled into life and the company commander's voice came over the net, punctuated by a series of tremendous bangs that seemed to echo as Dice heard them first in the distance and then again in the static-laced transmission from their company commander -
"Rifle One, this Alpha One Zero Al-"
BANG.
"-taking indirect mortar fire down here–"
BANG.
"–there any chance you could do something about it? Over."
BANG.
"Negative, but I think I know who can. Stand by for CAS, over."
"Acknowledged. You have my express permission to hit these bastards with whatever it takes in order to stop those mortars. I repeat: the village is now a free-fire zone for anything outside of Danger Close. Affirm?"
CAS meant Close Air Support, and just as different types of bullet have different range, penetration and stopping power respective of their size, each piece of ordnance launched or dropped by an aircraft has its own minimum safe distance. For example, the "No Fire" range of a 105mm Howitzer is 700 metres; if you're within 200 metres of the target it's called "Danger Close", and if friendly troops are within the blast or ricochet radius of a Spectre's armaments then the crew must warn the friendlies and ask for clearance before firing.
"Roger that. Cleared hot for anything outside of Danger Close. Will relay, over."
Jackal thumbed his radio again, switching frequencies with the deftness of a piano player in the midst of a practised concerto.
She allowed herself a small smirk at that image; somehow, Jackal didn't strike her as the musical type. His voice had a rough, gravelly quality to it, making every other word sound as if he was about to start growling – was he a smoker, Dice wondered?

"Zero Alpha, Rifle One. Alpha One Zero has troops in contact; Alpha One Zero Alpha requesting air support. Over."
"Zero Alpha copies."
Via the Ops Room, Jackal guided the AC-130 crew on to any promising targets Dice happened to spot. They were spoilt for choice; everything and everyone in the village had been declared hostile, but it was the important to prioritise. To their immediate front – 12 o'clock – she could hear the whump of the mortar firing, followed by several more muffled thuds. There was no point taking out random shooters when there were a couple of mortar crews dropping rounds on the heads of her mates down there. Silently, Dice urged the gunship's crew to hurry up, and as if in answer the Ops Room back at Camp Bastion came on the net again.
"Rifle One, Fourth Horseman has identified enemy personnel and mortar tubes in the village and will use 40mm's to neutralise."
"Zero Alpha, Rifle One-One; acknowledged."
It would take the OC himself to sign off a Danger Close strike, but in this instance the threat to the troops on the ground was minimal. The Forty Mike-Mike packed a hell of a punch for something that was about the size of a can of Coke and she certainly wouldn't want to be anywhere near it when it hit home, but by her estimation the rest of Alpha One Zero were about 300 metres away, and in good cover.
Jackal and Dice had distance and elevation on their side, and as luck would have it they also had an excellent view of the proceedings.
Five rounds came down in quick succession, and even from a distance the results were inherently spectacular to Dice in the way that all friendly air support is to ground-based infantry units. First came the muffled thud of the Howitzer firing, then the rhythmic booming of the rounds as they hit home; the explosions reminded Dice of enormous, glowing flowers as they blossomed outward, illuminating the silhouettes of the village's simple mud huts and spewing a deadly volley of shrapnel outwards before wilting into nothingness.
"Fucking have a bit of that, you bastards," Dice whispered. If Jackal echoed the sentiment he didn't show it; his voice was as devoid of emotion as his covered face.
"Fourth Horseman, Rifle One," he radioed the pilot. "BDA. Repeat: BDA."
He was asking for a Bomb Damage Assessment - basically, he needed to know how effective the strike had been. Was the fire mission successful? Did the target merit an additional strike? Was there a good effect on the target? Even with a good line of sight on the target area, all the smoke and shit that had been thrown up by the explosion meant that it was hard for the sniper  team to ascertain what was the situation on the ground, whilst the AC-130's forward-looking infrared (FLIR) camera was capable of detecting heat even through fog and smoke. It was just a case of checking to see if the bodies were getting cold or not.

"Delta Hotel, Rifle One," the gunship's Fire Control Operator replied. "BDA: There's nothing left alive down there." A pause. "Correction: one adult male crawling away from the blast site." Then, presumably, to someone else- "You gonna get him? Wait- correction: He's stopped moving. Unsure how many KIA's but we're seeing lots of little heat spots down there."
Dice grinned. "Heat spots" equalled body parts, and whilst no-one could say for sure how many fighters they'd neutralised with that volley she was pretty confident that it must have been at least six.
Not like anyone's keeping score though, right?
"Rifle One be advised, we're coming back around for another pass. You've got us for ten more mikes of playtime; still picking up a lot of movement down there, over."
Jackal was about to reply when a clamouring in the village silenced him. Dice could hear it too; the harsh, incessant, and unmistakeable chattering of a heavy machine gun, audible even over the din of the Marines and insurgents already exchanging fire, and as their scopes swivelled back and forth in a search for the source of the noise an urgent yell of "Vehicles inbound!" buzzed over the VHF.
"Everyone get your fucking swedes down!" the speaker added, forgoing radio protocol as a lethal hailstorm of bullets raked the dirt around the wadi. The Marines didn't need telling twice, but even though the wadi afforded them some cover from the incoming fire they were now pinned down by the incoming fire, meaning they couldn't move or even mount an effective counter-attack.
"Rifle One, Alpha One Zero Alpha," came the company commander's voice once more over the radio, urgency creeping into his voice as the transmission progressed. "We're taking heavy and direct fire down here. Multiple positions."
Then things went from bad to worse.
"Contact casualty. Two men down. Wait out."

Dice bit her lip hard enough to draw blood as the SitRep was read out. One of the Marines, a new recruit from Essex who Dice hadn't spoken to more than once or twice, had been caught by a stray round from an enemy machine gun. The other, a Scottish Marine by the name of Eddie Tait, had been shot by a sniper armed with a Dragunov sniper rifle – nowhere near as powerful as the Barrett but still a seriously nasty weapon in the hands of someone who knew how to use it. The bullet had entered through the side of his body armour, just under the armpit, bounced around inside and taken out a bit of his right lung on the way out.
Dice liked Eddie. The light machine gunner for his section, he was a big, scary-looking fucker from Glasgow who stood at about six foot two and had a beaky nose and piercing eyes that made him look a bit like a hawk – not that anyone would tell him that to his face. Dice hadn't been able to understand a fucking thing he was saying the first time she'd heard him speak; because of his Glaswegian dialect and thick accent, every other word with him was "wee" or "aye", and everything he said came out as a guttural rumble on account of the fact that he smoked like a chimney. However, in spite of his intimidating appearance he was one of the nicest blokes Dice had ever met.
When she'd first joined 40 Commando she'd taken a lot of shit from some of the other guys in the company who saw her either as inferior, or an opportunity to get their willy wet, or both. Eddie had always looked out for her on and off the battlefield – aside from discouraging the persistent twats who wouldn't shut the fuck up and leave Dice alone, the gentle giant had also been more than happy to share his smokes with her. He'd said that she reminded him of his little sister.
The thought of having to explain what had happened to Eddie to that sister – and whatever other family he had back in Glasgow – made Dice feel sick.
"Listen," another voice said, laced with desperation and static from the background noise, "There's fuck-all we can do. We can't move an inch – we need some fucking help down here!"
Hearing your mates panicking is always unpleasant; being unable to do anything about it doesn't help.
"Copy that. Stand by for sniper support."
Jackal took his thumb off his radio's transmit button and glanced over to Dice, taking his eye off his rifle's scope for the first time since the casualty report had come in.
"D'you want to take this one?"
"You what?"
"Do you fancy doing a bit of sniping? I'll spot for you."
Despite the urgency of the situation, Dice grinned. She didn't want to look unprofessional in front of Jackal, but she was chuffed to bollocks at the prospect of getting to fire the Light Fifty – much less take out some of the bastards who'd shot her mates.
"Oh, fuck yes. Pass us it here, then."
"Take your thumb off the stock," Jackal warned her as she dug the rifle into her shoulder. "And grip it good and tight so's it doesn't recoil off your shoulder and crack you in the jaw."
His tone was warning, but not patronisingly so; so far he hadn't once talk down to her or assumed that she needed to be spoon-fed, and she liked that.

"Get eyes on the vehicle on the right. Your two o'clock."
The insurgents were using technicals - open-backed civilian pickup trucks with mounted. Jackal had seen them used by everyone from American special forces in Iraq to anti-Gadaffi fighters in Libya, and back when he'd been operating in Africa he'd learned that despite their shortcomings they were a status symbol of sorts amongst Somali warlords. Their main advantages were speed and mobility, which had made them popular to clandestine forces, but they offered very limited protection and were no match against heavier vehicles such as tanks – or a Barrett .50 cal.
Dice's lip curled as her scope framed the gunner hunched over the technical's turret – it looked a bit like an AK-47 but bigger, belt-fed and mounted on a tripod, with a fearsome-looking muzzle and a box magazine with a seemingly infinite ammo capacity. The guy must have been firing for about a full half-minute now and he'd not once stopped to reload.
"Got it."
"Do the gunner, then put a round into the engine block – put the fucking thing out of commission for good."
"Alright."
The Barrett bucked against Dice's shoulder, the recoil kicking up a cloud of dust, and Dice was unable to suppress a smirk as the round hit the gunner in the chest, hurling him off the back of the flatbed and literally knocking him out of his sandals like a puppet on strings. The effect was strangely comedic, and she bit down on the urge to laugh.
"Good hit. No more gunner on that one."
"OK. Adjusting."
The ammo box in her sights, Dice's finger tightened around the trigger again, but instead of the tremendous bang he'd been expecting there was a hollow-sounding metallic click.
"Ah, shit! I'm out. Need a mag change."
"Check my bag. There should be...hang on. Try these."
Jackal pawed through the bag for a second, then passed a couple of magazines to Dice. Rather than having yellow or red tips, however, the rounds in them were grey-tipped. He didn't say what they were, and, not wanting to spoil the surprise, she didn't ask.
"Same again. No change wind speed or target position. Fire when ready."
There was a thunderous boom as Dice squeezed the trigger, and when the round impacted the technical it ploughed straight through the casing, igniting a small fire and scaring the shit out of some cheeky sod who'd been using it for cover.

"Christ!" Dice said breathlessly, "What the fuck was that?!"
"Armour-piercing. It's got a strengthened casing and a specially-tipped nose so it does more damage, and a bursting charge in the body to finish the job."
"Fucking sweet."
She emptied the rest of the magazine into the technical's engine block, rupturing the fuel tank; after a second it exploded, peppering the insurgents to either side of it with razor-hot shrapnel and burning it down to a charred skeleton.
"Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention – those grey-tipped rounds are bloody expensive, so don't use to many or my QMS is going to do his nut."
"Oh, all right tightwad. I won't use any more."
The ghost of a smile played about Jackal's lips beneath his balaclava.
"I'm only joking. Knock yourself out. The-"
Whatever else he had to say was lost in the thunderclap of an explosion somewhere close to the two snipers. It was so horrendously loud that Dice couldn't even pinpoint whereabouts it had been until she felt a stinging barrage of tiny rocks peppering one side of her face.
Shit, she found herself thinking. That was definitely Danger fucking Close.
The third chapter of Call of Duty: Bullet Points. If you've been waiting since I submitted the last chapter for this update, I apologise for the wait and hope it's been worth it. If you've not read the previous chapters, I strongly advise you to do so.

The first chapter can be found here: [link]
The second chapter is here: [link]

Comments and constructive criticism are always welcome, so don't be shy about pointing out anything you think I could improve on - that's the whole reason I started this project in the first place.

Chapter four is currently in the works.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series is © Infinity Ward
"Jackal" © *metalzerofour
Elizabeth "Dice" Hankard © ~JJesseh
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:iconlightiningdragon:
LightiningDragon Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I feel that the text was a bit fast-paced and heavy to read. But I might be at fault since I have a habit to read too fast. That's all the criticism I can give.
Anyway, good stuff :clap:
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:iconmetalzerofour:
metalzerofour Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Yeah, this chapter is a lot more...intensive than the last two. The other ones were pretty short by comparison, and for some reason dA doesn't allow for 1.5 line spacing so the text does look sort of bunched up.

Thanks for the critique, anyway. And the :+fav: too.
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:icontombslug:
tombslug Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
stop
leaving off
at
cliffhangers.

but anyway, very good a++ as always! next chapter please.
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:iconmetalzerofour:
metalzerofour Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thy will be done.
Reply
:iconcysanic5:
Cysanic5 Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013
Awesome, as per usual!
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:iconmetalzerofour:
metalzerofour Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks, mate. More on the way.
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:iconmotor-cunt:
motor-cunt Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
All i can say is... It was sooooo definetely worth the wait! I think its awesome, so keep up the good work! :)

Ps sorry i cant write a critique because i read the story again and again, but cant find anything you have to improve on ^^; lol
Reply
:iconmetalzerofour:
metalzerofour Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Don't say that. We can't have my ego getting too big now, can we?
Reply
:iconmotor-cunt:
motor-cunt Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I dunno :shrug: but i swear i cant find anything you have to improve on...
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