An excerpt from the new novel Simple Machines, written by 1st Ranger Battalion veteran, Manuel Carreon. -Jack

The target building is 100 meters to my front. The distance can be covered in about fifteen seconds by my men, but under this gunfire those short seconds would be suicide. Instead, I instruct them to focus on the rooftops and the RPK automatic weapons that have spun into the fight. My boys are in pairs, most of them kneel down behind cover with their backs against each other; one faces the target building, while the other scans the rooftops looking for opportunities to present themselves. They look focused and are settling into their environment. I’ll give them a few more minutes before the call for assault.

The gunfire from the rooftops suddenly stops. I look to Q and the confusion on his face confirms the silence. Marti seems lost as he scans the ledges in every direction. A sharp sting of terror suddenly fills my mind. Something is coming. Soldiers are all the same, whether they are from America or Afghanistan. We share the same DNA no matter on what side we fight, and just as my men would slow to catch a peek at a car wreck, our enemy on this day does the same.

The battle pauses, muscles tighten in preparation for the inevitable impact and my fear swells. “Lock it up men, fresh magazines,” I sternly call over the radio. The action takes half a second and for these soldiers requires no more thought than swatting a fly and allows their eyes to continue scouring the surroundings. The massive iron-gate standing guard over the target building creaks in movement and the air fills with the sound of locking weapons as my men turn ready.