"Ray, get on TAD-6 and TAD-7; Walt, get up on the berm and man the Mark-19. You have the thermals?" Espera does. "Warm them the fuck up and use them. Why the fuck are you two standing around with your dicks in your hands? Don't you have teams to take care of?" Pappy and Espera are relieved. "Iceman's back." Brad heads to the line, calling orders over his shoulder. "Find the reporter, Trombley. If little Miss Rolling Stone gets run over by an Iraqi tank, Ray's band won't make the cover." Trombley runs off and Brad levels his gun at the horizon. "They're moving," says I think Christeson. "You can see it." Everybody runs around, wondering if they should tear down the cami nets and fill in the holes, and through all the talking, Brad just sights the lights and figures it out. "So we're unsupplied, 24 hours ahead of the next nearest Marine, and now the Iraqi Army has found us. I like the plan, Brad. It works for me." Brad lowers his gun. "It's a town." Ray stares out, dumbstruck. "And it ain't moving."
Ray's mouth hangs open; Walt asks if he's sure. "It's autokinesis. You're seeing the involuntary muscle movements of your own eyes." Ray blinks wildly. "Those lights aren't going to come any closer than they are. It's a fucking town. Thirty, forty kliks out there at least. How far out did Alpha call this?" Walt says it was called in as like fifteen, and Brad and Ray laugh quietly. Espera's running up with the thermals as Brad -- having solved the entire problem in the thirty seconds he's been awake -- tells him it's bullshit. "There's no armor." He walks on, and Espera drops beside Ray as the air support begins bombing the imaginary location of the imaginary army, halfway between the town and the unit. "Well," says Ray. "Apparently the United States Air Force thinks Brad Colbert is full of shit." They watch the dirt explode; there's nothing there. And by "nothing," I mean, "maybe some people." Just not the enemy.
Alpha Two wanders around the giant holes they left behind, where no enemy ever was, trading insults and recriminations. They're looking for a reason, but there is no reason: it's just autokinesis. A mass delusion that there was something to fight. "Eleven thousand pounds of bombs. That's some serious shock and awe," one says. Fawcett takes wilder and wilder calls from the LT, begging them to justify the attack. One, the gunner I think, holds up a TV antenna, laughing hysterically. "Check it out, y'all. That's all that's left of a hajji tank! You'll get the Navy comm for this one. We could have been overrun!" Burris tells him to fuck off, and tells the team leader, Fawcett, to just make something up. "Damon, don't be a pussy. Fucking call it in. Let's give the LT a tank. He can get his medal, we can get the fuck out of here." But Fawcett won't do it, because that's a combat jack. That's working backwards through the system, pretending there was justification for the attack and trying to fill in the blanks retroactively, which is stupid. "Assassin Two, this is Two Three. Over. We've covered three grid squares, we have nothing. I say again, nothing. How copy?" The gunner guy decides to keep his antenna, maybe pick up some X-Games on his nonexistent TV. Fawcett gets the call that they're being extracted from the non-field of non-war they called in, and the Corporal muses: "If there'd've been tanks here, that would have been fucking cool."