Deckard heard the screams when his hand grenade detonated.

The Operator had been driving his cell of Nusra fighters hard.  They kept pushing Deckard deeper and deeper into no man’s land.  He had nowhere else to go.  It had become a running gunfight, Deckard finding a position that offered good cover and concealment and offering an attack that would stall the enemy, if nothing else.  He could nickle and dime them, but only slow the gunmen down for a few minutes at a time.  Deckard never saw The Operator, but knew he was there, leading the jihadists at gunpoint.

When the grenade he had thrown exploded, he could hear the yelling of at least one Nusra gunmen caught in the blast.  It was the kind of primal scream you hear from someone critically injured, from someone who is dying on a battlefield.

He turned and ran through the debris littering the streets and jumped over the twisted metal of what had once been a car before disappearing into what was left of a bombed-out apartment building.  Ducking down, he shifted under a collapsed wall and kept moving.

Something slammed into Deckard’s chest.  The next moment he knew, he was on his back and looking up at the ceiling.

“Not bad, Johnny Rico,” a voice said.  “Not bad at all.”

Deckard reached towards where he had dropped his rifle but a booted foot kicked it away.

“I cannot help but admire you Deckard.”