Ramat David Airbase
Monday, November 16
Colonel Natansky, Commander of the 117th Air Wing of the Israeli Air Force stood beside the large map at the front of the briefing room. “Men, the pot is stirred,” he began. “With Dagger Flight sending two Turkish aircraft to the bottom of the sea we’re seeing action around all our borders. This is just what we thought might happen, but it’s surprising to see it develop so quickly. In fact, that Turkey would sortie its fighters against an unarmed, diplomatic jet caught us off guard.”
“Do the intel-spooks have a guess as to why Turkey attacked?” Rueben Cohen asked.
“They have no idea, at least not one they are willing to share. My guess is there’s a mole, but as I have no evidence, you did not hear me say it. However, we have a more immediate concern.” The colonel turned and highlighted the city of Amman Jordan. “This is the latest intelligence twist. The lead elements of the Iranian army have turned southward, and are headed straight for Jordan.”
“Sir, I thought Jordan was keeping its distance from this so-called coalition,” Moshe stated. “What changed?”
“The Ayatollah-in-Chief, that’s what changed,” answered the colonel. “He has decided that any Islamic government that doesn’t fully support Iran is nothing more than dung. Kazimi is backing those words by re-routing his forward divisions toward Amman. Much of their Russian-made air force began arriving last night. There’s no way Jordan can stand up to one hundred thousand fully mechanized troops. So, they’re bowing to the Ayatollah’s jihad.”
“That’s not all. Egypt is also stuck in a vice, although they seem to be resisting at present. Their problem is coming from the radical jihadists within the lower echelons of the government. Evidently, extremists began rioting in the streets right after the Ayatollah’s fatwah and things are becoming politically unstable in Cairo. We don’t believe it will be long before the Egyptian army stages a coup. They will displace the moderate regime and establish a purely Islamic State, and I’m talking radical in every way. With one little edict, a whole new list of enemies has been presented to us. Rather, a list of old enemies has resurfaced with a vengeance.” The colonel’s eyes were beginning to broadcast the danger his men would soon be facing.
“What are we going to do about it, Colonel?” Rueben actually stood to his feet in a combination of anger and enthusiasm.
“Just cool your jets for a minute, Lieutenant. I’m not quite done with the bad news.”
A series of slides were projected onto the screen revealing the Jordanian Royal Air Force base just outside of Amman. The pictures were taken at night, probably by a Mos’sad agent placed near the end of a runway. Every snapshot included two fighter jets on a glide slope for landing, sixty-six in all. The planes were a combination of MiG 21s, 27s, and 29s. The colonel finally spoke. “This is our fly-in-the-ointment, gentlemen. Not only that, but the Saudis have taken a war footing as well. Their fighter aircraft are being made fully combat ready with more urgency than we’ve ever seen in the Arabs.”
The room went silent. The implications of what they were witnessing carried an enormity beyond anything these sixteen pilots had experienced. Not since the 1973 Yom Kippur war had such a malevolent threat arrayed itself against Israel.
Moshe shook his head and grunted. He knew what was coming. Everything about it had already been written. Still, seeing it take shape at this unbelievable pace gave him a surreal sensation.
The slide changed to a situation map of Lebanon and northeastern Syria. A large Libyan armada was ready to port in Tyre with a huge tonnage of armaments. The Port of Tartus in Syria appeared to be a massive parking lot for Russian and Turkish naval vessels. The Russian-led coalition was rapidly taking shape.
“Colonel,” Moshe asked, “Are the Russians responding to Iran’s change of plans? Do we see any activity that would indicate that coalition members are having a spat?”
Natansky’s eyebrows crinkled as if he wondered how Moshe could have come to that particular conclusion. “Not that I’m aware of. That would be a welcomed twist if it were true. You must understand that what we’re seeing just came down the line of communication. I would imagine the Russians are just as surprised as you.”
Moshe could sense a deeper emotion coming through the colonel’s voice, but remained quiet long enough to take a couple of slow breaths before he spoke. “Okay, Colonel. May I be so bold as to say ‘Out with it?’ We’re all big boys here. What’s really going on?”
Natansky shrugged in resignation. “As of noon on the day after tomorrow, all leaves are cancelled. The base will go into lockdown until further notice, and alert duty status will commence for all personnel. I’m sorry men. Except for those who are on duty today, you all need to go home and say goodbye to your wives and families.” Natansky held up his hand just as the pilots were beginning to stir. “It gets worse. Only base personnel will be allowed to remain at Ramat David, so those of you whose families are housed here need to get them moved to an alternate location.”
Moshe was stunned. He and Tasha had been unable to occupy their Haifa apartment because of the blast. Now, she was being displaced again. “How long will this lockdown last, Colonel?” he asked.
“Until further notice, but I suspect it will be this way until we deal directly with these threats.”
“Meaning the Iranian air force is about to become target number one. I wouldn’t be surprised if something is in the works for Egypt, the Saudis, and our other jihadist friends as well.”
As dread filled the pit of his stomach, Moshe glanced at his wingman and saw a wide grin.
Monday, 2:00 p.m., Local Time
Ty splashed cool water on his face then rested his palms on the edge of the vanity so he could stare into the mirror. His hair was a jumbled mess. A tired face with two days-worth of stubble stared back. His lack of sleep had left bags under his deep blue eyes, but there was no removing the smile on his face. He remembered how his friends had used the term “wedded bliss” from time to time, but he hadn’t known what they’d meant until the last few hours.
He leaned back to the doorway of the small bathroom and absorbed the site of his new bride. She was sleeping in a cocoon of sheets and pillows on the bed. Her blond hair rested haphazardly on her bare shoulders, and he detected the hint of a smile on her face as well. He could hear her breathing softly, rhythmically in the stillness of the room. His heart was full and overflowing with joy, even with the background of sorrow they’d gone through.
“Thank you Lord,” he whispered.
Blake stirred ever so slightly on the bed, opened her eyes, and smiled at Ty.
“Hey, gorgeous,” he said.
“Hi,” Blake answered, “What ya doing?”
“Just staring at the most beautiful creature on the planet?”
“Mmm,” she frowned, and then buried her face into her pillow. “I look terrible.”
Ty stepped to the bed and tucked his lithe body into the sheets beside her then began to trace an outline of a heart on her shoulder. She squirmed. He bent down and kissed the spot.
Her face tilted upward from her pillow so his lips could easily find hers. Ty kissed her deeply as she snuggled into his arms. They lost themselves in contentment and silence for several long moments.
Finally, Ty spoke. “If you don’t mind, I’m going to go out and get a lay of the land for a bit. I need to get a feel for what we’ll be doing the next few days.”
“I don’t mind,” Blake yawned. “You don’t care if I stay behind. Tasha and Moshe said they were going to stop over this evening to see how we’re doing. I think I need to get ready. What time is it anyway? I’m kinda lost.”
“It’s just after two. Didn’t get much sleep did we,” Ty’s grin widened.
“Not much. I didn’t expect this mild-mannered preacher to be such a Casanova.”
“Casanova? I was thinking more like Tarzan.”
“Nah, you’re perfect. I’m glad I snagged you,” she giggled. “You know you’re caught for life now, don’t you?”
“I’m glad, but I’m still going out.”
“Alright, just don’t get lost.”
“Lost? Listen to you.” He reached down and tickled her until she cried for mercy.
“Okay, Okay, just go!” she wiggled until he rolled off the bed.
Fifteen minutes later Ty was walking up the street toward the center of Husifa. Moshe had given him a rough idea as to where the refugee station was located and Ty wanted to see it firsthand. According to Ben, this would be one of his main tasks over the next few weeks, that and sharing the Word with the folks at Celebration Center.
The first thing Ty noticed was the number of people walking along the main avenue through Husifa. He knew the blast zone was just off this mountain to the northwest in the area of the port of Haifa. He’d also expected to see masses of people in a state of homelessness. But there was no rhyme or reason to the movement he was witnessing. Some were headed eastward down Mt. Carmel in an obvious effort to escape the congestion that was present. Others were walking toward the center of town, which appeared to be the area in which the refugee feeding station had been set up. But he also noticed many individuals pulling carts overflowing with personal possessions, and they were headed back in the direction of the disaster.
Ty stepped into the flow toward the town. No one seemed to pay any attention to the fact that he was an American. He was sure his features would have given away his nationality, if not his more modern clothing. But nobody cared. He could see that many of his fellow walkers were fully concentrated on surviving and not so much on who they were serving with. The faces he observed held little emotion beyond a hard look of resignation. His first thought was that this must be how the Israelis had coped with so many years of danger, threat, and war. But then he became aware that just as many Arabs were a part of the mix.
Ty was impressed at the lack of animosity between the two people groups. Maybe shock was a better description; shock that the Jews and Arabs, both in dire need of assistance, had somehow found equal footing. The equality was based on need, not power, not control, not some sort of religious superiority. They were all hurting on the same level. The dignity of each was being challenged. Hope appeared to have been stricken from every heart. No energy remained for hatred. Hurt and pain had replaced all other emotions.
As he neared the plaza he began to realize the enormity of his mission to this country. This was not some short-termed opportunity to see the Holy Land. It was a rescue mission, and the mission wasn’t to save a nation, but to touch the unique individuals that made up this little pocket in the Middle East. But there were so many, and here he did not have the technological amenities he had while dealing with the Kansas City disaster.
“My God, where do I start? I don’t even speak the language of these people?” Ty groaned within himself.
As he looked at the multitude of faces, his surroundings seemed to change. He continued to walk along the same street, but what he saw was a rocky mountainside high above an inland sea. He shook his head in an attempt to counter what he thought were the effects of fatigue, but every direction he looked thousands of people filled his vision. There were men, women, and children, and a large quantity of elderly folks. He realized he was seeing an ancient image simply by noting the way they were dressed. Robes, simple woolen garments, wrapped turbans on men’s heads, and scarves on the women caught his eye. Many of the people were barefoot. Others wore leather sandals and crude, flat shoes. He heard shouts of anger and saw gestures born in frustration. Folks weren’t just milling around haphazardly. There was a unity about what was happening. The more he watched, the more he realized the crowd was forming up for a little uprising.
Suddenly, someone within the vision gave a shrill whistle. Ty’s attention was drawn to the bottom of a slope. There, among several large boulders, was a particular group of men. There were twelve to be exact. They were waving their arms and directing the crowd to sit. Slowly, the people began forming into groups of forty or fifty then they began to sit.
Ty understood what he was seeing in the vision. His heart began to race as he noticed one lone figure standing among the rocks below. He knew who it was. He saw the hands take a large, flat piece of bread and lift it into the air. And then the man broke it and laid the bread in a basket.
The next thing Ty saw was the multitude of people laughing and eating. They were the same people who’d been agitated just moments earlier, but were now filling their stomachs with food. A sense of contentment had replaced their anger. And then it was over. The vision was gone. Ty found he was still walking toward the center of the town.
There was no clap of thunder, no strike of lightning with what came next. Never before had he heard God’s audible voice, not until that moment. The simplicity of the awesome moment struck his heart. “Just break the bread and give it away. I will multiply your efforts.”
Ty refocused his eyes ahead toward the plaza and saw a makeshift soup line situated at the far end. He knew it was Ben’s feeding station, and with the knowledge came an infusion of God-given compassion. Without hesitation Ty headed straight for his new charge.
Jimmy Root Jr
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