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June 1994

GI Joe HQ, P.I.T. III, Utah

Ripcord jogged along a corridor in the Joes’ underground headquarters toward the briefing room. As he reached the door, the paratrooper met Hawk and another soldier he didn’t recognise coming from the opposite direction.

“Sir,” Ripcord said, nodding politely since he wasn’t wearing headgear.

“Ripcord. This is Freefall; he’s our new paratrooper. He’s replacing Crazy Legs,” Hawk said, referring to the Joes’ para who had died in Trucial Abysmia, shortly before the Benzheen War.

“Nice to meet you,” Ripcord said.

“You too,” Freefall replied. He wore a paratrooper’s jumpsuit, coloured brown and green in a camo pattern, unlike Ripcord’s which was two-tone green.

“Let’s meet the rest of the squad you’ll be working with,” Hawk said, leading them in to the briefing room.

Inside the room, six men were lounging around, but stood and snapped to attention as Hawk walked in. Ripcord looked the men over, all looked like lean, fit paratroopers. Five were White, one Black. Five were dark haired, one was blonde. The blonde was wearing a paratrooper’s jumpsuit in two-tone grey camo pattern. The Black guy was wearing a silver and blue jumpsuit. Of the other four, one wore a tan and brown camo jumpsuit and had brown hair; one wore a green and brown camo pattern jumpsuit and had black hair; the next wore a two-tone brown jumpsuit and had black hair. The last wore a blue jumpsuit with silver trim and in addition to his brown hair, had a moustache.

“Okay, Freefall, Ripcord, these are Sky Patrol, the new GI Joe paratroop strike team. They’ve trained together to operate as a semi-independent unit, but for this mission, you’re joining them to boost their numbers. Sky Patrol, meet Freefall and Ripcord,” Hawk indicated the two men as he introduced them.

“Do we get to know who they are individually?” Freefall asked.

Hawk gave him a frosty smile. “I was getting to that part.”

The general indicated the blonde. “Air Raid. Sky Patrol’s parachute assembler and battlefield medic. He makes sure the chutes are safe and then patches you up if they fail.”

Air Raid smirked at the joke.

“Airwave,” Hawk indicated the para in the tan and brown colours. “Team’s communications specialist. His job is to make sure you’re able to talk to your air support.”

“Altitude,” the guy in green and brown. “Recon Scout. The eyes of the team.”

“Drop Zone,” the guy in two-tone brown. “Weapons specialist. He’ll make sure you’ve got a gun that works and ammo for it.”

“Static Line,” the black guy. “Demolitions. Blows stuff up.”

“And finally, Skydive, the team leader.” The guy with the moustache in blue.

Skydive nodded at the other two men, before turning to Hawk. “So, we’ve finally got a mission have we, sir?”

“You sure have. Take your seats, gentlemen and I’ll brief you in.”

Hawk clicked on a slide projector. The first photo came up on the screen, a large house set in the countryside of the Appalachian foothills.

“This house was raided last month by a Joe assault team. It was the main US operating base and safe house of the Coil, an off-shoot of Cobra.” Hawk clicked up the next image, one of several men outside the house in green, gold and black uniforms.

“The Coil is led by the guy in the centre, known only as Overlord. Intelligence recovered from the house confirmed CIA reports that Overlord is a former Crimson Guardsman, real name unknown, who absconded with a prototype assault vehicle. Overlord believes that Cobra Commander is leading Cobra in the wrong direction. He has recruited like-minded individuals from Cobra, as well as mercenaries from outside it, with the intention of usurping Cobra Commander, largely by undermining Cobra’s status as a sovereign nation and a legitimate power.” Hawk clicked on the next slide. It showed diagrams, photos and other documents scattered across a large table. He clicked through several more, which showed more plans, photos, and charts pinned to walls or to moveable notice boards.

“The Joes who raided the house were able to uncover Coil plans for a number of attacks; a bombing of the State Department, an airport mass shooting, a train bomb, a car bombing of a foreign embassy in the US and others; all of which would be pinned on Cobra. They also retrieved documents revealing locations of several safe-houses in the US and a few overseas.”

Hawk clicked up the next slide. “One of those is this building, located in the Pakistani province of Waziristan. The building is used as a base for acquiring and storing arms and ammo before they’re smuggled to America and for the making of bombs.”

The building was located among several smaller buildings. The photo showed armed guards visible on the flat rooftop.

“The building is in a small village in a narrow valley. There’s no way we could risk an air strike against it, too much chance of collateral damage. Plus the difficulty in getting a fighter in and out unharmed. Similarly a ground assault is out of the question. We can’t risk contact with the Pakistani authorities, we believe they’ve been penetrated by Cobra and/or Coil operatives. The Agency has officers in country. One of their contacts was able to get us this photo and a floor plan. The destruction of the building is your mission.”

Hawk paused. The paratroopers were listening intently. “ You will fly on board a civilian aircraft chartered out of Oman to India. Over-flying Pakistan, you jump out, parachute in and proceed to the target. An Agency contact will mark your DZ and guide you in. The contact will also extract you from the village and get you to the Indian border, where you will be collected.”

Hawk switched to the next slide, showing a floor plan. “The building is three floors, ground level is believed to be their operations room, radio room and garage for a truck. The next level is the armoury and the bomb making room. Top floor is the barracks and rec area. It is critical that the armoury and bomb factory are destroyed.”

“What’s our rules of engagement?” asked Skydive.

“All Coil personnel are expendable, terminate with extreme prejudice. Do not engage Pakistani forces except to extract yourselves from their vicinity. Do not engage Pakistani civilians.” Hawk looked around. “The Coil is an emerging threat to the US, gentlemen. Let’s squash them before they emerge any further.”

Hawk clicked off the projector. “You have three days to plan and rehearse the assault. Then you deploy to Oman for the infiltration flight.” He looked around the group. “Your CIA contact is named Sunil Rahim. Challenge code is ‘Archangel’, counter sign is ‘Michael’.”

“Archangel Michael?” Freefall asked.

“Patron saint of paratroopers,” replied Air Raid.

“There’s a patron saint of paratroops?” Drop Zone asked, surprised.

“There’s a patron saint of a lot of stuff,” Ripcord replied.

Three days later,

Over Pakistan

The transport plane was a corroded rust-bucket of a Transall C-160. It was stacked full of cargo being flown out to India, with the eight paratroopers crammed in, sitting on crates. For the last ten minutes, they’d been breathing from their bottled oxygen, flushing the nitrogen from their blood, before the jump. Now the US Air Force Spec Ops loadmaster kicked Altitude’s boot. The recon scout would be the first man out. He looked around at the loadmaster who held up two fingers. Two minutes to jump.

Altitude passed the message on, holding up two fingers to the rest of the group. They were wearing black para jumpsuits, the better to hide them in the fading light. Each of them had their M16 assault rifle strapped to their right side, ready to be pulled clear and used on landing if needed. The oxygen bottles were strapped across their chest. Helmets were cinched tight, goggles covering their eyes, masks over their noses and mouths. A small backpack with their gear in was hooked to their belts, they’d release them after the chutes opened, allowing the gear to hit the ground first. The bags contained additional ammo, night-vision goggles, water bottles, radios and demolitions charges.

The paratroopers moved to the rear ramp, following the loadmaster. The red light was on. The loadmaster lowered the ramp. The green light lit and the team began walking forward and leaping off the ramp.

Freefall loved this part of a parachute jump, diving through the sky like a comic-book superhero, arms and legs close in, knifing through the air at speed. He passed Altitude, who was using his arms and legs to brake his descent. Freefall levelled off, the wind roaring in his ears, despite the helmet he wore. Now he was falling flat, the adrenaline still bursting through his system. He brought his arm around and checked his altimeter on his wrist. The numbers were steadily dropping. He glanced up, seeing the rest of the team above him. He spread his arms and legs to brake himself, allowing the rest of the team to pass him, dropping faster.

Then the team finally reached the altitude to deploy their chutes. Freefall felt the familiar kick in the chest as his descent was arrested following the familiar fwump-whump of the opening chute filling with air.

The team steered their rectangular chutes toward the LZ, which was barely visible below in the night. The commandos released their backpacks, allowing them to fall free. One by one, they touched down in the field, running as they hit to control their landing.

The team worked quickly to bundle up their parachutes, remove their oxygen bottles and masks, before Drop Zone and Airwave dug a hole and they buried the gear. The paratroopers fixed their night-vision goggles to their helmets and moved out.

Altitude spotted a figure at the edge of the field, fifty metres away, the man called out, “Archangel! 

“Michael!” Altitude replied. The group moved to the nearest gate, at the side of a road.

“Good evening, I’m Sunil,” the man said. He wore plain green trousers, a worn brown shirt and carried an AK-47 assault rifle.

“Skydive, team leader. You got transport?” he asked, not wasting time on pleasantries. 

Sunil nodded, “This way.” He led them to a battered looking truck. Skydive got into the cab with Sunil, whilst the rest of the team clambered into the back.

“It’ll take ten minutes to get to the village. Don’t worry, it’s not far,” Sunil informed Skydive.

The truck drove through the night, unmolested, arriving in the village just outside the ten minutes Sunil had said. He pulled the truck into a side street six blocks from the target building. The paratroopers moved out, heading down the street, hugging the buildings to avoid anyone spotting their approach.

Altitude led the way down the street, his rifle up as he constantly scanned the street, his head moving as he checked and rechecked the street. The village was quiet. No lights were on in any of the houses or the few scattered shops, even though it wasn’t long after sundown.

He raised a clenched fist to halt the team one block from the target building.

“Sentries on the rooftop,” he whispered. “Two of them.”

“Allow me,” whispered Drop Zone. He worked quickly to adjust the large night-vision scope on his M16 and then flipped his night-vision goggles out of the way. Dropping to one knee next to Altitude, he took aim at the rooftop. One of the sentries was walking toward the back of the roof. The other was walking toward the front. Drop Zone took aim at the one walking forward. A single suppressed, subsonic round dropped the Coil sentry with a headshot. Moving quickly, Drop Zone took aim at the second sentry and fired, just before he moved out of sight.

“Sentries down, roof clear.” He flipped his NVGs back into place.

The squad sprinted to the front of the building, stacking up on either side of the door to the garage. Freefall moved to the front door, pulling out a lock-pick. He worked quickly to get the door open.

The team moved in, quickly, splitting up to seek cover. There were no guards inside the garage.

“Static Line, Drop Zone, move to the armoury and secure it,” Skydive ordered. “Airwave, take Ripcord and secure the radio room. Recover anything you think might be useful; codebooks, computer discs, that kinda thing. Air Raid, you and Altitude move to the top floor and keep watch for any activity that might compromise us. Freefall, you and I will cover the ops room.”

The team split up, each pair heading for their assigned tasks.

Freefall followed Skydive across the garage into the corridor that led them into the ops room. The room was unoccupied, the computers turned off, all the paperwork obviously filed away.

Skydive looked around the room. “Grab anything that looks useful, like I told Airwave and Ripcord. I’ll cover you.”

Freefall nodded, unslung his backpack and unzipped it. He set to work grabbing discs, CD-ROMs, and a few tapes before opening a file cabinet and flipping through it. Anything that looked remotely like a plan, an organisational chart or a diagram he shoved into his bag until it was full.

“Give me your bag, sir,” Freefall said, “This place is an intel gold mine.”

Skydive tossed his bag to Freefall who went to work filling it with more paperwork.

On the middle level of the three, Static Line and Drop Zone had found the armoury and the bomb assembly room to be empty as well. Drop Zone began setting charges in the armoury on several of the larger weapons and on the structural walls. He moved to the bomb making room and placed charges there on several chemical stores and in boxes of detonators.

As he finished, Air Raid and Altitude came down the stairs. “I’ve rigged charges on all the doors,” Altitude said. “Just like you showed me, Dee Zee.”

“Good. Let’s go down to the ground floor.”

The team reassembled on the ground floor. Drop Zone moved around, planting charges on the walls.

“Charges are set. They’re all ready to blow.”

Skydive nodded. “Let’s move out, then.”

Suddenly there was an explosion above them, rocking the building.

“Move! Move out!” Ripcord yelled. “Someone blew one of the charges upstairs!”

The team charged toward the doors, Freefall snapped up his M16 and shot out the hinges, slamming the doors open as he collided with them.

The commandos ran along the street, then Drop Zone hit the detonator. The building collapsed in on itself, as the interior walls were destroyed.

Lights came on in several of the nearby buildings. People started to come out the doors 

Some of them were carrying guns.

Some of them wore Coil uniforms. 

“Oh, Dag!” Ripcord cursed. He brought up his rifle and shot one of the Coil gunmen.

“RUN!” yelled Skydive.

The team ran as the Coil troops began firing at them. Freefall twisted around and fired a burst back down the street, which threw off the Coil troops momentarily, before he turned back to running.

“What I wouldn’t give for a goddamn Dragonfly right now,” Ripcord cursed.

“I’d rather have a damn Tomahawk!” Freefall replied. “We could be extracted.”

Bullets whizzed past them or struck the street at their feet, somehow missing them.

Up the street, a large truck sped toward them. The team dived behind a pair of parked cars as the truck skidded to a halt. Sunil leaned out the window.

“Get in!” he urged them.

Drop Zone and Static Line laid down some covering fire as the rest of the team scrambled aboard. Ripcord and Freefall pulled back the canvas cover on the truck’s back to fire down the street over the cab. Air Raid and Altitude hauled Drop Zone aboard then Static Line as Airwave slapped the cab’s back.

“GO!” he yelled.

The truck lurched back into motion, moving along the street backwards as the Joes opened fire from the cargo bed, until Sunil swung the truck into a three-point turn and then sped out of the village as the paratroopers opened fire at their pursuers from the rear of the truck.

The truck was a mile down the road, outside the village when the sound of engines behind them made Static Line turn to look back.

“Contact rear!” he yelled. “Contact!”

Static Line brought up his M16 and opened fire. Behind them and closing fast were eight Coil Ferrets, the quad bikes manned by a pair of troopers each. The Coil troopers on the lead pair of Ferrets opened fire from the back of the vehicles with Kalashnikov assault rifles. A few rounds pinged off the back of the truck.

Static Line, Altitude and Air Raid returned fire. The driver of one of the Ferrets was hit and fell off his quad bike, as it swerved into the grass at the side of the road. Another Ferret ran him over before the driver could avoid him. The Ferrets were swerving back and forth across the road as the drivers tried to avoid getting hit. 

Drop Zone pulled a pair of grenades from his bag and pulled the pins out before hurling them out the truck.

They detonated short of the Ferrets, but made the drivers swerve as they exploded.

Another driver was hit, falling off his vehicle. The rider pulled himself forward to grab the handlebars only to be hit himself, the Ferret running off the road.

Drop Zone threw out more grenades, one bounced along the road and detonated, flipping a Ferret over on to its side, throwing the riders off. A second detonated under a Ferret, blowing it up.

The four Ferrets were swiftly joined by another six, racing up the road behind the truck.

“Wonder why they’re not using their guns,” Ripcord mused as he took Static Line’s gun from him and the other man took Ripcord’s. Ripcord worked to clear the jam in the rifle.

“Maybe they’re not fitted,” Skydive said.

"They’re fitted,” Air Raid replied. “I can see the big guns on the side.”

“They must not be loaded with ammo,” Drop Zone said as he stood up, bracing himself, with his feet apart. He took aim with his night-vision scope and fired, his burst missed the Ferret he’d aimed at as the driver swerved, but took the driver behind in the face. The driver fell off the quad bike.

“Last mag,” Altitude called as he reloaded. Skydive began pulling his own magazines from his web-gear and shoving them into Altitude’s. Drop Zone nearly fell over as he tried to fire a second time.

“Airwave,” Skydive said as he finished giving Altitude his ammo, “Call the extraction bird and find out their position. Freefall, find out how much further we have to go from Sunil.”

“Raider 1-1 to Kilo 8-8, do you copy, over?” Airwave called over the radio. “We are inbound to RV point, pursued by Coil ground vehicles.”

“Sunil says we’re about twenty miles out,” Freefall called. “He also says we’re running low on gas!”

“Kilo 8-8, Raider 1-1, we’re twenty miles from LZ, low on fuel and under fire from Coil vehicles. Request immediate air support and extraction!” Airwave called more urgently.

Raider 1-1, this is Kilo 8-8,” came the familiar voice of Lift Ticket. “We’re holding position two miles from LZ, stand by.”

Air Raid turned from firing at the Ferrets. “Tell them to hurry up! I just spotted a STUN coming up the road!”

“Confirm that STUN,” Drop Zone said. “I have a solid visual.”

The STUN, a three-wheeled high-speed vehicle, was roaring up the road toward them.

Air Raid, Drop Zone and Altitude blazed away at the vehicle as Static Line fired at the remaining three Ferrets. The STUN opened fire with the side-mounted twin cannon. Sunil swerved to avoid the fire, explosions pitting the road beside the truck.

“Kilo 8-8, we’re now taking fire from a Coil STUN, requesting immediate close air support and extraction!” Airwave yelled into the radio. “Current position is grid 5620-11-78!”

“Kilo 8-8 is inbound, weapons hot. Mark your vehicle with a light so we can spot it,” Lift Ticket replied. “Estimate two minutes to your position.”

Airwave acknowledged the reply before fishing in his bag and pulling out a strobe light the same size as a soda can. He flicked the light on, which flashed an infrared beam, before pulling small ball of poster putty from a pocket and using it to attach the light to the truck’s cab.

The STUN fired again, missing the truck as Sunil swerved once again.

Raider 1-1, visual your position. Confirm hostiles still at your six?”

“Affirmative!”

“Roger, engaging.”

The heavy thud of the Tomahawk’s rotors was briefly drowned out by the roar of the 20mm multi-barrel gun in its turret. All of the remaining Ferrets were shredded in seconds by the ten-second twenty-round burst.

The STUN swerved off the road, barrelling on to the grass to avoid the wreckage of the exploded Ferrets.

“Kilo 8-8, firing Hellfire. Danger close!”

The small laser-guided anti-tank missile streaked toward the STUN on a small cone of fire. The missile blasted the lightly armoured vehicle apart.

“Great shooting, Kilo 8-8, that was Delta Hotel!”

Delta Hotel was a euphemism for ‘direct hit’.

Roger, we’re landing. Stand by.”

The Tomahawk flared out and touched down ahead of the truck. Sunil brought the vehicle to a halt and the Joe paratroopers climbed down and jogged toward the waiting helicopter.

Skydive paused by the driver’s door. “What happens to you?” he asked Sunil.

“Don’t worry about me, Skydive,” Sunil replied. “I can walk to the next village and steal a car.”

Skydive shrugged and ran to the waiting helicopter. The Tomahawk lifted off in a cloud of dust and sped east toward the Indian border. Sunil watched it go before starting up the truck and driving off much more slowly. The Joes mission may have been over, but he still had work to do…

Notes

I wrote this story basically to use the entire Sky Patrol team since they were never featured in the Marvel US comics, for what ever reason. Freefall wasn't used either, but I'd already used both him and Static Line in 'War of the Red Shadows'. This was an opportunity to make good on a line of narrative in that story that he'd been part of the Joes, just not seen. For my purposes, the Sky Patrol are a crack airborne insertion recon team and don't use or have the various chrome redeco vehicles that were part of the toy line version. I re-named Airborne to Air Raid to avoid confusion with the pre-existing character by that name, ironically using the name Hasbro gave to the original Airborne in the recent toys. The story furthers the Coil story arc started in 'The Coils of the Serpent'.

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