EXT. APACHE – NIGHT
The helicopter pulls up a distance away from the JSS compound, it’s silhouette nearly invisible against the night sky from the ground below.
NIGHT OPTICS – APACHE
A mess of some 15 human forms move about, muzzle flashes popping off constantly, no rhyme or reason to any of it.
GUNNER
I’ve got an assload of people down there, can’t tell who’s who.
PILOT
(Hearing SSG Smith’s call in his ear)
That’s them on the radio. I’ll grab it, you keep scanning.
(A beat)
Blackjack 14 this is Reaper 12. We’re on station, what’s your status?
INT. BUNKER – NIGHT
SSG SMITH
We’re pinned down! Enemy inside the perimeter. We need help now or we’ll be overrun!
INT. APACHE – NIGHT
PILOT
Roger. Give me the disposition of your men and mark your position.
SSG SMITH
(On radio)
Two US. We have an IR strobe, standby.
INT. HMMWV – NIGHT
They drive much faster now, through the narrow streets of Baghdad toward the alternate rally point.
LEADER
(Intercom)
Kill the prisoners before we leave. No loose ends.
TEAM MEMBER #3
(Intercom)
It will be done.
Suddenly the Leader notices something up ahead. Barely illuminated in their headlights are two Iraqi Police Trucks, parked almost nose to nose, blocking the street ahead.
There are no exits or alleyways between here and there. They have nowhere to go.
The Driver takes his foot off the gas, slowing the truck.
INT. BUNKER – NIGHT
SSG Smith rifles through the pockets on the front of his vest. Nothing.
MSG Aldrich is up and firing again, ignoring the blood flowing down his face.
SSG SMITH
Have you got an IR strobe!
MSG ALDRICH
Side pouch!
SSG Smith opens the pouch while MSG Aldrich aims and fires, dropping a Sunni who exposed himself for a little too long.
SSG SMITH
Found it!
He puts strobe outside the bunker and clicks a button on its side.
SSG SMITH
Is it working?
(NOTE: you can’t see an IR strobe with the naked eye, it’s only visible through IR night vision devices).
MSG ADRICH
How the fuck should I know!
NIGHT OPTICS – APACHE
Suddenly a very bright flashing beacon appears in the corner of the screen, and the scene through the optics appears a little more ordered to us now. The SUNNI that MSG ALDRICH just killed is splayed out on the ground.
GUNNER
I got the beacon.
PILOT
Roger.
GUNNER
Fuck they’re close, I don’t think I have a shot.
PILOT
(Keying radio)
Blackjack 14 this is Reaper 12. We see the strobe but they’re too close to you, we don’t have a clean shot.
INT. HMMWV – NIGHT
The LEADER thinks for a split second, then makes a decision.
LEADER
(Intercom)
Speed up! Aim right between the two trucks! Gunner! Open fire on the police! Now!
Immediately the HMMWV jerks forward and the machine gun ROARS to life. Spent casings CLINK down into the crew compartment.
EXT. IRAQI STREET – NIGHT
A half dozen POLICEMEN wait outside the trucks. They could not have been taken more by surprise. The initial burst from the machine gun drops two of them. The rest scatter as HMMWV barrels down on them.
INT. BUNKER – NIGHT
SSG SMITH
They said they’re too close to us! They don’t have a shot!
MSG ALDRICH is still firing, valiantly trying making the best of a losing position.
MSG ADRICH
We’re in a fucking bunker! They can hit it and we’ll still be alright. Tell them to fire NOW!
INT. APACHE – NIGHT
SSG SMITH
(Radio)
We’re in a bunker! We have overhead cover! We need that fire now!
PILOT
Roger. Standby.
(to GUNNER)
What’d you think?
GUNNER
If they’re in a bunker they might be ok. If we don’t do anything I’m not sure they will be ok.
PILOT
Blackjack 14, Reaper 12. Get your heads down. Thirty mike mike on the way.
INT. HMMWV – NIGHT
The POLICE TRUCKS are right in front of them now. The Leader pulls the gunner down into the crew compartment. Everyone is bracing for impact.
EXT. IRAQI STREET – NIGHT
It is a terrific crash. The HMMWV, traveling at almost 60MPH, tears the front ends off both the Iraqi Police Trucks. Momentum carries it through the roadblock and into the empty street beyond.
INT. HMMWV – NIGHT
What a mess. The Gunner is splayed out between the Driver and the Leader. Ammunition, spend shell casings, supplies that were tucked away inside the vehicle are now scattered throughout the interior.
Recovering from the jolt, his hands bloody from the crash, the Leader looks out his side-view mirror to assess what just happened.
LEADER
Don’t slow down! We have to make room for the others!
EXT. IRAQI STREET – NIGHT
The other HMMWVs navigate the opening at a slower speed, but there is something akin to a path now. It’s entrance marked by the horrific bloody remains of the two Policemen killed in the initial engagement, and whose bodies the lead HMMWV had to run over in order to get through.
INT. BUNKER – NIGHT
SSG SMITH
INCOMING! GET DOWN!
SSG Smith pulls MSG Aldrich from the opening into the center of the bunker. Both assume the fetal position as the first rounds from the Apache impacts outside.
EXT. JSS – NIGHT
Absolute carnage.
30mm rounds tear into Sunni bodies, ripping one in half.
Debris flies, concrete crumbles.
A Sunni points his weapon skyward and fires.
Rounds pepper the bunker.
NIGHT OPTICS – APACHE
Crosshairs over a moving target. The CLICK of a button, and explosions follow. An arm is blown off. The target isn’t moving anymore.
Nothing is moving anymore. The crosshairs pan around, searching the compound.
Suddenly a file of 30 men come into frame from the opposite side, away from the explosion.
GUNNER
Holy shit! That looks like a whole platoon of them.
PILOT
Hold on. This is a JSS, those could be Iraqis.
INT. BUNKER – NIGHT
An eerie quiet. The shooting has stopped.
MSG Aldrich raises his head slowly and taps SSG Smith on the shoulder.
They both get up and grabbing their weapons, poke their heads out of the bunker.
PILOT
(Radio)
Blackjack 14, this is Reaper 12. We see about a platoon size element closing on your position over.
As he speaks, IRAQI SOLDIERS swarm the ground where the battle just took place. MSG Aldrich lowers his weapon and glances at SSG SMITH.
SSG SMITH
(Radio)
It’s ok. They’re Iraqi Army.
PILOT
(Radio)
Roger. We’ll stay on station for a while, looking for squirters.
EXT. BUNKER – NIGHT
An IRAQI MEDIC finds MSG Aldrich and starts looking at his face, but he waves him away.
BG Bahaa, directing the belated counterattack, comes up on the pair.
BG BAHAA
Are you ok?
MSG ADRICH
We’re fine. I think the Apache got ’em all. But MAJ Thomas is missing.
BG Bahaa’s eyes widen. He moves out smartly and starts yelling at his soldiers.
BG BAHAA
Get two men covering that hole! Search the compound for survivors! Look for a missing American!
INT. IRAQI POLICE TRUCK – NIGHT
The Iraqi Police Chief takes stock of the unbelievable scene before him. Blood and guts on the ground. Two of his trucks nearly cut in half. No HMMWVs in sight.
IRAQI POLICE CHIEF
Stop here!
EXT. IRAQI STREET – NIGHT
The IRAQI POLICE CHIEF gets out of the truck and wanders, mouth agape, around the scene.
The FOUR REMAINING POLICEMEN slowly emerge from their hiding spots and stumble towards him.
One of them goes up to the IRAQI POLICE CHIEF and begins to explain, but he hold out a hand to stop him.
IRAQI POLICE CHIEF
Not now. We need to find these men.
EXT. ALLEYWAY – NIGHT
The HMMWVs are stopped in a dark, deserted alleyway. The TEAM MEMBERS are all out of the trucks now, shedding their uniforms revealing a second set of normal street clothes underneath.
Their weapons are in a pile next to the vehicles, and they all place their uniforms into a large plastic trash bag.
The LEADER supervises, already out of his uniform, and keeps an eye on the street behind them, looking for the police.
INT. IRAQI POLICE TRUCK – NIGHT
The truck moves slowly as the IRAQI POLICE CHIEF scans the sidestreets, searching for his quarry.
Noticing movement down an alley to his right, he yells at the driver.
IRAQI POLICE CHIEF
Stop!
Peering into the darkened alleyway he can barely make out the outline of a HMMWV.
IRAQI POLICE CHIEF
This is it. I want this place surrounded.
EXT. ALLEYWAY – NIGHT
The LEADER sees the POLICE TRUCK stop at the entrance to the alleyway.
LEADER
Everybody move now!
The last man hurriedly sheds his uniform and follows the others as they move quickly down the alleyway, away from the POLICE TRUCK.
TEAM MEMBER #3 comes up behind the LEADER.
TEAM MEMBER #3
The prisoners.
LEADER
Kill the American. Leave the Sunni. They will deal with him.
INT. COL ROBERTS OFFICE – NIGHT
Peering over a pair of reading glasses, COL Roberts hunts and pecks the keyboard of his computer.
There is a knock on the door.
COL ROBERTS
Come.
The Young Officer strides in, more confidence in his step now.
YOUNG OFFICER
Sir, we have a DUSTWUN.
COL Roberts takes off his reading glasses and looks up.
YOUNG OFFICER
It’s MAJ Thomas.
COL ROBERTS
Get everybody up. I want him found, now.
The Young Officer leaves and COL Roberts picks up the phone.
COL ROBERTS
This is COL Roberts, I need to speak with the CG.
EXT. ALLEYWAY – NIGHT
A swarm of police trucks descend on the abandoned line of HMMWVs, their flashing lights illuminating the alleyway.
Iraqi Policemen on foot advance on the HMMWVs, scanning for signs of their owners.
Once it is evident that there is no one in the area, the men relax.
One raises a radio to his lips.
IRAQI POLICEMAN
There’s no one here, the trucks are abandoned.
IRAQI POLICE CHIEF
(Radio)
I’m coming in.
INT. OPERATIONS CENTER – NIGHT
The room is buzzing with furious activity as COL Roberts walks into the room.
He gets a nod or two of respect as he walks up the stairs toward the Young Officer’s station, but everyone is just too busy.
YOUNG OFFICER
(on the phone)
With all due respect it doesn’t matter what raid you had planned for tonight, a DUSTWUN takes priority.
He slams the phone down.
YOUNG OFFICER
Fucking Johnson.
He catches a glimpse of COL Roberts and makes a motion to stand as he approaches, which COL Roberts waves off with his hand.
COL ROBERTS
Give me an update son.
YOUNG OFFICER
Sir, we’re linked via VTC with division. The Battalions are setting up checkpoints to stop traffic out of our sector, and we have every ISR asset in theater tasked to us right now.
COL ROBERTS
What about the Iraqis?
YOUNG OFFICER
The JSS is doing what they can, under the circumstances.
COL ROBERTS
Their circumstances don’t concern me. Get the Iraqis to set up checkpoints. Now.
EXT. ALLEYWAY – NIGHT
The POLICE CHIEF marches through a crowd of policemen. He stops when he sees the weapons and uniforms in neat piles next to the vehicles, and bends down to pick one of them up.
IRAQI POLICEMAN
Sir! You need to see this.
The policeman looks down into the trunk of one of the HMMWVs, a flashlight illuminating the inside.
The Police Chief comes over, and follows is gaze.
The body of MAJ Thomas lies there, gagged, hands bound behind his back. Three bullet holes dot his chest.
Blood pools on the floor.
IRAQI POLICEMAN #2
I have a live one here!
The Police Chief follows the sound of his voice and sees Jamal being pulled out of his trunk by two policemen, his hands still bound behind his back.
IRAQI POLICE CHIEF
Put him in my truck.
(to the Iraqi Policeman)
Get everyone else out of the area. You stay behind and call the JSS. Tell them you found this during a routine patrol.
The Policeman nods his head and flips off the flashlight.
INT. IRAQI POLICE TRUCK – NIGHT
The POLICE CHIEF guns the engine and takes off. Jamal in the passenger seat.
JAMAL
Can you take these cuffs off?
The Police Chief says nothing, and negotiates a turn, bringing the columns of the Grand Mosque into view right in front of them.
JAMAL
Where are you taking me?
EXT. GRAND MOSQUE – NIGHT
Ali and Bloody Knuckles smoke in silence. Ali spots headlights approach and puts out his cigarette. They both duck behind a column and watch the Iraqi Police truck park a few meters away.
As the Iraqi Police Chief emerges from the driver’s side, they steps out from behind the column.
ALI
You’re late.
The Police Chief opens the passenger door and pulls an actively resisting Jamal out.
IRAQI POLICE CHIEF
The American is dead.
He pushes Jamal forward.
JAMAL
Let me go! I am an Iraqi Army…
He recognizes Ali.
Ali throws a right cross, instantly dropping Jamal.
ALI
(to Bloody Knuckles)
Take him downstairs.
INT. OPERATIONS CENTER – NIGHT
COL Roberts surveys the activity and the data pouring unto the big screens in front of him.
His cell phone buzzes, the called ID says it’s BG Bahaa.
COL ROBERTS
This is COL Roberts…yes General…I see…
(taking out a pen and writing)
I’ve got it…thank you.
COL Roberts passes the slip of paper he’s just written on to the Young Office.
COL ROBERTS
Send a patrol to this grid.
The Young Officer looks from the paper to COL Roberts, who rises.
COL ROBERTS
The Iraqi Police just found Mark’s body.
He turns and walks out of the operations center.
INT. GRAND MOSQUE BASEMENT – NIGHT
Uthman and Jamal hang from the ceiling by their wrists. Their faces bruised and bloodied.
Bloody Knuckles is there along with the other two henchmen. Their hands are clean.
Ali’s hands are bloody. He wipes sweat from his brow as he catches his breath.
ALI
How does this end?
UTHMAN
(barely audible)
Kill us.
ALI
The Sunnis have ruled Iraq since I was a boy. You have massacred us, imprisoned us. Why?
Ali picks up a blood-encrusted machete leaning against one wall and sits down.
UTHMAN
(louder now)
Kill us.
ALI
Both of you? He is innocent, so he says…but how is that possible?
Ali studies the machete, running his fingers down the blade.
ALI
Two more will die tonight. And then?
EXT. ALLEYWAY – NIGHT
AMERICAN SOLDIERS approach the HMMWVs, the area deserted now.
A SOLDIER finds MAJ Thomas’ body, signals the others.
Camera flashes pierce the darkness. The soldiers take pictures of the scene.
Two SOLDIERS place a body-bag in the back of a HMMWV.
SOLDIERS collect more evidence and pictures of the scene.
INT. ALI’S BEDROOM – NIGHT
Ali enters the darkened room and begins to undress. He sits down on his side of the bed and notices something off. He runs his hand toward his wife’s side. It’s empty.
INT. MAYA’S BEDROOM – NIGHT
Ali pokes his head in the room and finds his wife curled up on Maya’s bed, Layla at her feet. Ali climbs into bed with her and caresses her hair with his bloodied hand.
MAYA’S MOTHER
She’s not coming back.
A long moment passes.
ALI
I found the man who killed her.
I hit him. Over and over and over and over. His face. His stomach. My hands. They hurt. Then I cut off his head. And here we are.
INT. C-130 CARGO BAY – MORNING
An ARMY CHAPLAIN, wearing vestments and carrying a copy of the Bible, stands in front of a casket draped in the American Flag.
COL Roberts and MSG Aldrich kneel at the foot of the casket, their heads down.
COL Roberts places a coin on top of the flag. Both men stand up and walk back down the ramp of the aircraft.
EXT. BAGHDAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT – CONTINUOUS
COL Roberts and MSG Aldrich march between two ranks of soldiers on either side of the aircraft. Neither say a word, their faces hardened.
In one motion, both ranks execute a facing movement and start marching away from the aircraft, as hydraulics begin to whine and the ramp moves upward.
INT. ALI’S OFFICE – MORNING
His office has returned to it’s former glory. Clean, plush, and cool. Ali drinks chai and smokes a cigarette.
The door opens, and Ali stands to greet Hossein and Ahmed as they come into the office.
Ali smiles, the other two don’t.
HOSSEIN
Your mission failed.
ALI
The American was kidnapped, yes?
HOSSEIN
How were they found?
ALI
A random patrol. This is Baghdad. Police are everywhere.
HOSSEIN
We should talk about the future.
Maya’s Mother opens the door but stops short when she sees Hossein and Ahmed on the couch.
ALI
My love!
He rises and greets his wife, kissing her on the cheek.
ALI
(to Hossein)
Please, stay and have some chai. We have some things to do.
He grasps his wife’s hand and leads her out of the office.
INT. BG BAHAA’S OFFICE – MORNING
BG Bahaa is perched behind his desk, hooka pipe in hand, pleading with COL Roberts.
BG BAHAA
I understand your position, but my soldiers won’t. If you leave now they will think you are abandoning them.
COL ROBERTS
My hands are tied. We’re just down the road. We can still support you.
BG BAHAA
And the other projects?
COL ROBERTS
If it were up to me I’d stay right here with you for as long as it took.
A knock on the door and a US SOLDIER pokes his head in.
US SOLDIER
Sir, they’re all packed up and ready to go.
COL Roberts nods and stands up.
COL ROBERTS
(to BG Bahaa)
Why don’t you come to the FOB later this week and we’ll have dinner.
EXT. JSS – MORNING
HMMWVs and 5-ton trucks are lined up outside the JSS. The 5-tons filled with equipment and supplies.
A bulldozer works on the other end of the compound, closing up the hole blasted in the wall.
A crane hoists a jersey barrier unto the back of a flatbed truck already filled with them.
SFC Smith and SSG Smith close the tailgate of a 5-ton truck.
MSG Aldrich stands nearby, supervising. COL Roberts walks up next to him.
COL ROBERTS
Is that everything?
MSG ADRICH
Yes, sir. We got it all.
COL ROBERTS
Let’s go home.
INT. JAMAL AND A’ISHAH’S BEDROOM – MORNING
Clothes and other personal items and strewn about the bedroom. A’ishah packs a suitcase.
INT. BUS STATION – MORNING
A’ishah, suitcase in hand, steps up to the teller and lays a few crumpled bills on the counter.
A’ISHAH
Tikrit.
INT. BUS – MORNING
A’ishah, suitcase in her lap, sits jammed against the window. The bus is almost impossibly crowded with people and belongings.
INT. TIKRIT HOUSE – MID-DAY
An ELDERLY IRAQI WOMAN somberly greets A’ishah at the front door. They embrace, and A’ishah places her bag on the floor.
A’ISHAH
Where is Rahman?
ELDERLY WOMAN
He is out back.
A’ISHAH
Does he know?
ELDERLY WOMAN
We haven’t told him. But he knows something is wrong.
EXT. TIKRIT HOUSE BACKYARD – CONTINUOUS
10 year old Rahman dribbles a soccer ball, sending a shot the wall that bounces back toward him. He smiles as A’ishah comes out the back door and runs up to hug her.
RAHMAN
Has daddy come home with you?
A’ISHAH
No, Rahman, he hasn’t.
RAHMAN
When is he coming back?
A’ISHAH
I need to talk to you about your father.
RAHMAN
Why?
A’ishah moves to a lawn chair and motions for Rahman to sit. Rahman picks up the soccer ball and follows.
A’ISHAH
Uthman won’t be coming back. He is dead. He was killed.
Tears form in Rahman’s eyes.
A’ISHAH
Your father loved you very much. His last thoughts were of you. He told me how proud he was of you. How you wanted to play football for Iraq.
Rahman sobs, turning the soccer ball over in his hands.
RAHMAN
How did he die? Did someone kill him?
A’ishah is just as emotional now.
A’ISHAH
He was a brave warrior for Allah. His spirit will live on forever.
RAHMAN
Who killed him?
A’ISHAH
Shia.
Rahman’s face hardens. He stands up, and viciously drop kicks the soccer ball over the backyard fence.
EXT. GRAND MOSQUE – MORNING
A garbage truck backs up to a pile of half-burned garbage, steadily beeping as it moves.
The truck’s back end rises, releasing a fresh pile of garbage from the opening in the back.
EXT. GARBAGE PILE – CONTINUOUS
Garbage pours over the headless bodies of Jamal and Uthman. In seconds they are completely obscured.
EXT. GRAND MOSQUE – CONTINUOUS
The truck pulls forward, having dumped the last of it’s garbage, and it’s back end descends once again.
Gas can in hand, a MAN exits the cab and pours the accelerant unto the garbage pile.
He backs up, lights a match, and tosses it at the pile, instantly lighting it.
The man watches the black smoke ascend, joining the many dozens of others surrounding the unfinished mosque.
FADE OUT: