Abu Kamal, Syria
Wednesday, 8:30 p.m.
Tariq Kazimi sat in a wooden chair as his aides scrambled to send the order. The word was passing through every telecommunications portal available. Hezbollah and Hamas were ordered to launch every rocket in their arsenals. He smiled at the thought of Scud, Zelzal, Shahab, and Fateh missiles raining down across the length and breadth of the illegal Jewish state. The inferno he was about to create would usher in the appearance of the Mahdi. Kazimi was certain of it.
Wednesday, 8:30 p.m.
General Telnikov pulled the harness tight as he sat in the seat of the Russian Hind gunship. The menacing helicopter lifted from the ground and flew over the ridge, quickly gaining altitude over the Bekaa Valley. His intention was to move as close as possible to the action on the border. Something had triggered the Hezbollah into an all out attempt to escalate the friction between them and Israel. The time had come to see firsthand what was taking place. Anyway, he was becoming weary of sitting in command headquarters on top of Mount Quarnat as Sawda. In fact, he was bored. But now, the helicopter flew southward with the side door open, and the cold night restored the feeling that the general was still alive and ready to fight.
The pilot’s voice broke into his reverie. “General, you must see this.”
Telnikov craned his neck to get a better view out the front windscreen. While strapped into the seat, that task was impossible. “I cannot see,” he spoke into the voice activated transmitter inside his flight helmet. “Swing to the east.”
The pilot eased the Hind to the right. The southern horizon came into full view. So did hundreds and hundreds of bright rocket trails. They were all heading into Israel from all along the Lebanese border.
“The fools,” Telnikov snapped. The Israelis had not cleaned out even a fraction of the launch points or stores of weapons. Recent reports had estimated that upwards of 80,000 rockets, with various ranges and payloads, had been stockpiled. He could see that the reports were true. The terrorists seemed to be launching all of them at once.
“Iran!” he spat. Then a thought came into his mind and he acted upon it. “Pilot, take an eastward tack towards the Golan.” He suspected there might be some previously undetected activity. He had to know what Israel was doing while all hell rained down on its civilian population.
West of the Jordan Valley
“Here they come, Dagger!” Rueben alerted his captain. He was flying off Moshe’s right wing and to the rear by about fifteen meters. Flashes on the HUD indicated the ignition of several medium-range missiles to the east.
Moshe whipped his head to that side of his canopy. He had failed to scan the skies as he should have. His eyes had been transfixed on the sight of Hezbollah rockets in the northern sector. The plumes appearing over Jordan were of a much larger and deadly variety. “Dog Pound—Dagger—we have multiple launches lifting out of Jordan, repeat—multiple missiles heading into Israel,” he transmitted to the combat air controller.
“Roger—Dagger—you are cleared for incursion and attack. I repeat, Dagger—you are cleared to attack.
“Dagger going red. What is the status of Slapshot and Jockey flights?”
“Slapshot and Jockey are heading your way,” answered the controller.
“Slapshot—Dagger—go high and cock your pistol,” Moshe radioed to the two flights of four F-16s coming up out of Ramat David. “Jockey, start pitching Mavericks and JDAMs from the north. Dagger will come at them from the south.”
Moshe and Rueben both went to afterburner and brought the nose of their jets to an easterly heading. Multiple trails of burning rocket fuel were rising into the night sky. There were more launch points than six Lightning fighters could take out.
“Dog Pound—Dagger—what is the status of Pile Driver?” he requested. His thoughts were to bring at least two more flights into the engagement, especially with the probability that enemy bogeys would soon be coming up out of Amman to fight.
“Dagger—Dog Pound—Pile Drive to commence at one—repeat, commencement at one,” came the response. The use of the word ‘one’ signified that Operation Pile Driver would begin in one hour.
“Dog Pound—Dagger—I’m making a situational request,” said Moshe. “I count at least two dozen plumes. We don’t have the fire power to take them all out before they reload.”
“Requesting the assistance of the 113th with their Hellfire missiles.” The squadron was scheduled for close-in support to Operation Pile Driver and the Golani Brigades tank battalions. Consisting of twelve Ah-64d, helicopter gunships known as Apaches, the choppers were thoroughly equipped as anti-tank platforms. Their different variations of the AGM-114 Hellfire missile served as tank killers, anti-radar destroyers, and also served as fragmentation explosives. These Scud launch platforms were nothing more than flatbed trailers. They would be no match for the disruptive Hellfires. Moshe was also thinking about the likelihood that his F-16s would soon be engaged in air-to-air combat. In fact, it was becoming clear that tying up the Israeli F-16s in the air would allow the enemy to continue launching Scuds against the civilian population. Little time passed before his line of reasoning was understood.
“Dagger—Dog Pound,” broke the air controller, “multiple bogeys are coming up to meet you. Pull off the Scuds and engage the MiGs. I repeat, engage the MiGs. The 113th fixed-wingers are on the way.”
“Slapshot and Jockey, you heard the order,” Moshe transmitted to his fellow pilots.
“Give us the word, Dagger.”
“Slapshot, move to the north and engage whatever appears in that sector,” Moshe ordered. “Jockey, take the eastern set of MiGs high and head-to-head. Frisbee and I will take them from the south, and then deal with whatever comes out of Queen Alia Airport.”
Clicks sounded in Moshe’s headset as the six aircraft moved to engage.
“Boss, I count eight bogeys,” said Rueben.
“Frisbee, move out a mile,” Moshe ordered. “Take the two to the east. I’ll take the two on the inside. Jockey and Slapshot will get the rest.”
“I’m on it.”
“After we launch, we are heading for Queen Alia,” Moshe continued. “Use your Mavericks to destroy everything you can on the ground. We’ll both drop our GBU Paveway right in the middle of the runway, you copy?”
“Let’s do it. Frisbee is going hot!”
Under the Old Roman Orthodox Church
Seventeen men and women had arranged their chairs in a circle. They were toward the rear of the shelter in one of several small meeting rooms situated among the living quarters. Ty couldn’t help but be astounded by not only the level of comfort that existed, but the functionality of the bunker. The walls were painted in gentle earth tones. Many were adorned with murals depicting heroic moments in the life of the nation. Carpet covered the floors. A public galley was available to everyone, and it was well stocked. There was even a sickbay manned by IDF-trained civilian medics.
Israel had long ago learned to live with the ever present reality of eminent attack. The nation made the best of that reality by providing livable quarters for all its citizens, having the ability to sustain the population for days on end should a prolonged attack occur. Ty could think of nothing like it in America. The only comparable shelter provisions he could recall were the left-over nuclear fallout shelters in American cities. Most of those had been converted into warehouses, or simply locked up and forgotten.
Ty looked at the faces of the group and marveled. Blake was singing, and they were all soaking in the words and the melody as if they’d rarely heard anything like it. Tears were visible in many eyes. Several hands were upraised in unabashed praise. One woman had quietly lowered herself to her knees in deep worship. The sight brought a lump to his throat, especially when he gazed at his wife. Her eyes were closed and she was unaware of how her love for the Lord was being received. These folks from Celebration Center were not only being touched Blake’s gift, they were full participants in the praise she was offering.
A hint of regret tugged at his heart. Why had he never allowed himself to be introduced to such an authentic style of worship? Why had he been bound in religious liturgy rather than learning the joy of simply sharing his heart Jesus? He wondered what kind of character and depth his congregation would have had if only they’d been shown something different than what had been passed down by their parents and grandparents. Would a deeper congregational love for the Lord have changed anything that happened?
As every pastor understood, all churches experience some level of conflict. Two people living in close proximity tended to produce fireworks from time to time. It was only natural for a multitude of different personalities to clash with one another. But that was no excuse for things to get out of hand like they had for Ty in Plattsville. He clearly saw how a lack of genuine love for Christ among the people had allowed personal preferences to spiral into shameful conflict. Worse, his own shallow spirituality had added to the problem.
Emotion caused a lump in his throat as he thought about the death of his mother. He still felt the weight of her body lying in his arms as she exhaled her last breath. Would she have died if he had only learned to express his praise and worship as Blake was doing now? He began to feel the heartbreak again, something that had been buried beneath the joy of uniting with Blake. Then his ears began to hear the words his wife was singing. And when I come to die, give me Jesus. Give me Jesus, give me Jesus. You can have all this world, give me Jesus. His mother would have loved that song, and with the thought, the floodgates of his grief opened wide.
At first he felt as if he needed to leave the room, the tears were flowing so freely. But he noticed that no one was paying any attention. They were lost in worship, not caring what others thought. So, he stayed and let the hurt pour out.
Then he heard the words of his mother, words that were left hanging at the moment of her death. Ty could hear her voice in the depths of his heart. He could see her eyes looking into his own. He could feel the urgency of what she wanted to say. “Ty, he told me you would see the coming of the Lord. The Rapture, you’ll see it with your own eyes.”
Ty’s reached and covered his face with his hands as he fought to bring his emotions under control. The message seemed so real, yet so tangible. Her last words reflected her character and love. They were words of hope. It was only fitting that a message of such magnitude would be delivered to him by the woman who’d loved him the most. That was how she was, always full of hope. Maybe it was time to emulate her life through his own just a bit more than he had. The past was the past. He could not change it. The time had come to move forward into the new life God had given him.
He wiped away his tears and looked again at Blake. She had finished her song and Ty realized a peaceful silence had replaced the music. The people were waiting for something. Better yet, they were waiting for someone.
Ty glanced at Ingrid sitting opposite him in the circle. Her eyes were shut tightly and her forehead showed a level of strain. He sensed that something was about to happen, something he’d never before seen or heard. His heart picked up a few extra beats.
Just then, Ingrid opened her eyes and scanned the circle until she looked directly at Tasha. “Guys, we need to pray for Moshe and those who are with him, and we need to pray right now!”
“Oy gevalt!” Rueben cut loose over the radio. The expression was laced with fear. Suddenly, the young pilot’s customary vibrato was gone. “Dagger, we’ve got trouble.”
“Dagger—Dog Pound—Multiple bogeys coming your way. Repeat—we count twenty-six F-2 Saudi Typhoons at your three o’clock position, bearing 275 degrees,” transmitted air control.
Moshe immediately saw the danger. A surge of adrenaline moved through his body. The F-2 Eurofighter, designated the Typhoon, was a multifunctional, twin-engine fighter developed by a consortium of European nations. The aircraft had proven victorious in training engagements against US Air Force F-16 Falcons and F-15 Fighting Eagles. Only the F-22 Raptor had played the Typhoon to a draw. The jet had the capability of sustained supersonic flight without the use of afterburners, and had a top speed of Mach 2.2. It carried the same armament as did Moshe, with the addition of the AIM-132 ASRAAM, a power-packed missile with a range of twelve miles. The Typhoon was as capable in every way as the F-16 and probably more so. The only variable would be in pilot skills. Still, there were sixteen of the sleek killers heading directly toward him and his wingman.
“Dog Pound—Dagger—what are we doing about this,” Moshe requested. He was less than twelve miles out from Queen Alia air base and had been preparing for his attack run when Rueben had shouted.
“Dagger—the 12th out of Ramon is loading up right now. Two alert flights are up and on the way. All other flights will be heading your way within three minutes,” Dog Pound answered. “You are ordered off the MiGs. Come to a heading of 090 degrees and engage.”
The Saudis had joined the fight.
“Not with a JDAM and a set of Mavericks on my wings,” Moshe responded. “In twenty seconds I’ll have that problem solved.”
“Roger—Dagger—but do not hold over the target. Get dropped and get moving.”
“Frisbee, drop your tank in a hole, pick a launch pad somewhere, and get rid of your ordinance,” Moshe ordered his wingman. “Slapshot and Jockey, open up on the MiGs. If you have any air-to-air ordinance remaining after your first salvo, join our little party with the Typhoons. Otherwise, get back to base and reload.”
Both flights responded in the affirmative.
Moshe punched off his big JDAM bomb and let it fall to the rocks below. He was now in range of Queen Alia air base and immediately designated his only two IRIS-T, anti-radar missiles onto the signal. Once the tone was steady he triggered the flight stick. Both missiles rocketed into the night sky. Five seconds of flight had brought him close enough to the airfield to use his infrared night vision equipment. He quickly recognized a fuel truck near a group of fighter aircraft. He punched up his AGM-65 Maverick missiles and fired them both. With a twitch of his right hand on the stick, Moshe brought his Lightning to bear with the oncoming Saudi aircraft.
Unbeknownst to the F-16 pilots preparing to engage the Typhoons, every base in Israel was launching its fighters. Not only had the Saudis entered the fray, but so had the Egyptians from the south. All points of the compass were about to be filled with aerial combat.
Jimmy Root Jr
Author: DISTANT THUNDER and the AWARD WINNING MAGOG RISING
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