“Listen to Salem brothers” said Mustafa quietly. His deep voice echoed in the silent room. The stench of sweat and fear mingled with cigarette smoke. There was a tense silence in the room full of warriors, well men with guns really. Despondent, desperate men who had little to lose before the civil war and less so now. Bedraggled, torn shirts stained with sweat hung over soiled worn pants, with boots covered in concrete dust and dirt.
Heads hung. All around the small two story building that they called HQ men were lost in their own thoughts. Finally one spoke. Farag was his name. “We listen brother Mustafa, we listen. But Allah blessed be his name I am fearful despite your reassurances, they have more men and they have the Tank! We. We have nothing!” His voice rising in fear.
Amadou spoke next. “Farag is correct. We have Toyotas with guns, they have armoured troops carriers, and machine guns.”
It was spoken quietly. But everyone stopped. Yes they were little more than a rabble, but they feared that voice more than the Loyalists.
“Today is the day. If we die, so be it. Without this town, and the oil beyond it we cannot pay for weapons from the Imperial Western shit across the Med.”
His voice rose as he spoke. His bloodshot eyes bored holes through all those that dared eye him. None held his gaze.
“We Stand or Die today.” Dust shimmered through holes in the ceiling and roof 2 stories above as his voice resonated thru the building. Thick curls jutted from his head scarf. His wiry frame was scarred from what no one knew and no one had asked.
“But” Said a wavering voice in the shadows.
His hand shot up. “Silence!” …………….”Incoming” He roared. He ran for cover, others cowered in place.
BM-21 Rounds crashed into their building with uncanny accuracy. They had decide to use the two strongest buildings as their mutually supporting strongholds. The Loyalists figured as much. Salem and his men had been pounded from one part of the Cyreniaica gateway town to the next. They had to hold.
Salem was dazed, the building around him had collapsed, like so many before. Nothing withstood the enemies fire for long. He shouted into his walkie talkie -“Hold your fire, hold your fire’.
He could no doubt here the crack of the recoilless gun and yammer of the .50 cal mounted upon pickup trucks.
He was trapped in the building with the squad.
Outside he could hear the BTR’s approaching. As the arty gave way he knew the BTR’s would unload the enemy. He staggered around ears ringing, shaking men to action. “Move, Move” he screamed at them. Still they hesitated from shock and fear.
Down the street, the Recoilless Rifle fired at the rapidly accelerating Tank. twice the operator fired. Twice they missed. Then again as it rounded the building. A lucky round wedged it self into the turret. The explosion rocked the surrounding buildings. A cheer went up. It was short lived.
Two BTRs opened fire wiping out the crew. Another Technical nearby took a little fire, their driver turned tail and ran.
Back in the “HQ”, Salem looked about himself. So it would be here. He would die here, fighting his very brothers with weapons bought with oil dollars from his enemy the Infidel. “Allah be praised” he whispered. “fear me brothers, you will dine alone and none shall mourn your greedy souls when they rot”.
The first two thru the door took bullets in the chest, their hydraulics broken, and smashed they died quickly if not painfully. His men were starting to gather themselves, but it mattered not.
It was too late. He was pleased that he would kill something, the BTR’s could have all sat back and ground them to pulp at range, instead one closed in.
He laughed as the grenades rolled and bounced into the room. “Allah Akbar” he roared, and pulled the cord on his vest…..
The rest of the Technicals and Mustafa drove away. Marja al Brega was lost.