We reach the top. On the road, there are broken cars - smoking and damaged BMD-1 vehicles. No longer afraid, the soldiers run around them. The mountains surround on both sides, as if squeezing a narrow road. But the shooting is no longer heard, the battle is over. Now we will go down, mount the vehicles and go home.
“And at home, the mountains are quieter, more beautiful, calmer,” says Lyokha, looking around and sighing lightly.
“But I don’t have any mountains at home,” I laugh, “I wouldn’t be able to see them, damned ones, forever.”
“You don’t understand anything...” and, without finishing, Alexiy falls back, and I fall next to him. The sound of a gunshot echoes in the distance.
A sniper killed you, Alexiy. The bullet hit your left eye, but the right one remained open, you didn’t even have time to close your mouth. And neither of us heard the shot.
- Lyokha! - a soldier is rushing towards him.
- Lie! - I shout and hide from the sniper behind Lyoshka’s body.
“We’ll catch him, this bitch!” - I shout to the fighter. - "You - start shooting with the PKM! Burst, pause, burst. And so on until you run out of ammo. He will look out for you and shoot. This is where I'll catch him. Understood?"
Burst! The second soldiers from Alexiy crew is shooting at the opposite mountain, his machine gun is shaking. The bullets comb through all the pebbles, all the suspicious places where a sniper could be hiding. I am lying with my RPK-74S mounted on a bipod, without blinking, until my eyes start to hurt. I look at the mountain. It's not going to work. The distance in a straight line is about seven hundred to eight hundred meters. Too much for an aimed shot from my RPKS, but enough for a rifle with good optics. Another burst. PKM bullets cut mountain bushes, crumble and scatter stones.
The only hope is that the sniper will not hold out - either he will start shooting or he will try to change his position. The machine gun shoots another burst. There are now four machine guns scratching the mountain. The guys crawled up and started hunting for the sniper. But I can see nothing, there is no movement. The mujahedeen had hidden from us. He doesn't want to participate in this duel. From the road up the hill the soldiers began to march in a straight line. Not many, about ten people. These are not ours, meaning they are not from our company. Apparently, the guys are from the fourth battalion. Clearly, they will inspect the area and look for the sniper. There's no way he can get out of this. If he starts shooting or moving around, he will reveal himself. If he lays down quietly, they will find him. He cannot withstand ten automatic rifles.
The Mujahedeen knew it and he decided to take this risk. He wanted to leave, even under fire. Something flashed behind the stone. He has appeared a little, and... Holding my breath, I smoothly pull the trigger of my RPKS. A short burst of three rounds. Yes! Got it! He twitched. I hooked him. He wants to crawl away, he moves slowly, very slowly. Another burst. Well, now he twitched and fell silent. I didn’t watch how his body was torn apart by bullets from four machine guns. 7.62mm PKM, when a burst from it hits the body, it tears the flesh into pieces.
I take out a bandage, moisten the gauze with water from the flask and wipe Lyoshka’s surprised face. A little blood came out of him, the bullet hit the brain and went through. I close his right eye. I bandage his face, untie the cape from his RD-54 and wrap him up. I don’t feel anything: I have no regret, no grief, no tears. Only emptiness. But we are going home together.
Another cape is given by the second soldier from the team. We use this cape as a stretcher. They took it by the edges and they carried the body.
And you, Alexiy, you are not heavy at all, it’s not hard to carry you, it’s just inconvenient. How inconvenient, because we were friends. Other guys are like that... colleagues or comrades, but you were a Friend.
"Killed?" - asks an unfamiliar tall captain, nodding at Alexiy, when we went down to the vehicles of the fourth battalion, and, without waiting for an answer, gives orders:
“Give him to the others, right there,” he points towards the truck from the approaching company.
We carry it to the vehicle and throw Alexiy into the back. There, in a row, lie the bodies of the dead, wrapped in soldiers' shrouds. The truck smells of sour and fresh blood and carrion. In the heat of the sun, the corpses quickly decompose, the battle has been going on for two days. Those that are already smelling are the first to be killed. You, Alexiy, will be demobilized with them, not with me...