The Battle of the Ark

February 8, 2010
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The Red Sea is a misnomer. Its warm waters are a dull green shade, like most of the ocean. On a map, the Red Sea can almost pass for a wide river, wedged between Egypt and the Arabian coastline. However, Benrali Muraneiz and his Israeli crew couldn’t see either shore from their position in the waters. And all the better. Each coast held Israel’s sworn enemies: Egypt to the west, and Syria, Jordan, and Iran to the east. However, Benrali’s aircraft carrier and his seven escorts, comprising of battleships, frigates, and a minesweeper, could easily fend off any opposing navy. They were safe.

Benrali, feeling refreshed by the brisk sea air, walked stridently into the massive hull of his ship.

The ship was a Kilo-Class carrier, adopted from American and British designs. Its looming forestructure and large armament of heavy caliber guns were an intimidating sight. The ship was so large, that it could fit thousands of crew, though not necessarily comfortably. The crew jokingly named the ship Ark, referring to Noah’s ark and how hundreds of animals were herded onto it.

Benrali reached his cabin towards the front of the ship. Unlike many captain’s accommodations, Benrali’s cabin was like a house from classical Sparta. There was very little furniture, and the walls were as blank as paper. He had never married, and his family had been killed instantly by a truck bomb, disintegrating the entire city block.

Benrali sat on his bed, reading a book. He treasured it more than anything else in his life. Its blue velvet cover and gold tassel blended perfectly with its wooden cover. It was his Torah. He had received it at his Bar Mitzvah, his coming of age at ten. The pages were yellowed, and the ink on the pages was smeared, but it was worth more than any amount of money to him.

Suddenly, Benrali was interrupted by a loud banging on his door. Three knocks exactly. Probably an enlisted man.

“Enter,” croaked Benrali. At 62, Benrali still had a commanding voice about him.

A young man stumbled into the room, looking jostled. His beige hat was askew, and his eyes were slightly dilated.

“What is it, boy?” demanded Benrali.

“S-Sir,” stammered the man, “An urgent message has been transmitted from Echo 5. He asks you to come quickly.” Echo 5 was the main battleship’s call sign. Benrali’s carrier was Wrigley 1.

“Very well,” Benrali said, setting his Torah gently on the bed. He walked briskly towards the radio room, nudging the enlisted man aside.

Benrali stepped into the radio room. It was demonically lit by sharp, siren-like lights. They illuminated million dollar radio equipment, taller than Benrali’s six-foot frame, and had many blinking switches. Benrali snatched the ancient phone on a radio stack and pressed it to his ear. At first, all he heard was static. Then came gargled and frightened voices burst from the receiver.

“Benrali, this is Echo 5! We’ve been sabotaged!” The words hit Benrali like bullets from a Gatling gun.

“Echo 5, give me a SITREP.”

“Benrali, there is a mass…” The words were cut off by a vibration of sound that sounded like a bomb blast. Then the line went dead.

Benrali tried the other six ships, but his communications were out. The main comm tower was on Echo 5, which was probably heading towards the bottom of the sea. The phone slipped from Benrali’s fingers, hitting the ground with a crack. After a silent minute, Benrali barked an order to everyone in the room.

“Get Nav. on the line and tell them to head west to the Egyptian coast. Echo 5 has been attacked.”

“But si-“

“No questions asked!” shouted Benrali, “The Egyptians will not have the firepower to attack the Ark. At this moment there are bound to be enemy ships chasing us.”

“He’s right,” said the radio man, Ben-Tzvi, in his oddly deep voice, “Fifteen PT boats at our 6 approaching at a high rate of speed.”

“Spool up the guns,” commanded Benrali, “Hold the boats off till we get to Egypt. There I will transmit an SOS. Now go!”

Benrali raced up the decks to the crow’s nest. At his high vantage point, he could see about fifteen small boats. They appeared to be moving faster than his ship’s highest speed, which was forty knots. After watching for ten minutes, he got a call from the main watchmen, Shenhav.

“Sir, those are not the Egyptians.”

Benrali stared in surprise at the sea. Not Egyptians? It didn’t make any sense.

“Explain yourself.”

“Sir, they are flying the Iranian flag.”

The Iranians! This was bad news for Benrali and his ship. The Iranians had devastating firepower. They had already sunk Echo 5, and worse was to come.

“Full speed! Full speed!” yelled Benrali. “Fire the cannons!”

Ten seconds later, the 60-caliber guns fired, shaking the ship like an earthquake. The massive bullets screamed through the air towards the PT boats. One hit its mark, sending one of the boats flying into the air like a child’s toy. A greasy fireball emerged from the wreckage. The rest of the boats returned fire with their large machine guns.

Boom boom boom boom boom boom was all Benrali could hear. Then the rounds struck the ship. Benrali fell to the ground as the massive bullets dented the hull all around him. He endured the terror of the massive booming from his cannons and the smaller bangs of the Iranian’s 50-calibers. Then suddenly, he got a beep from his radio.

“Sir, we’ve hit the coastline.”

Relief filled Benrali. He shouted over the bullets, “Ok. Abandon the ship. Take the guns with you and hold your position on the beach. Stay there until we get reinforcements, clear?”

“Affirmative, sir.”

Benrali crouched behind a sand dune on the beach, Steyr AUG in his hand. The bullpup rifle was one-of-a-kind on his ship. The rest of the crew either had FAL carbines or G3 assault rifles. He could hear the sporadic gunfire from his men, as the PT boats approached. If the Israeli crew didn’t have their beach head, they would’ve been cut down by the Iranians’ machine guns. As it was, the Iranians had trouble making progress up the beach. Eight of them had been killed, and sixteen wounded. The Israelis had suffered no casualties.

Benrali fired his gun empty. He had a little experience with guns, but what he had mainly came from indirect training from the Israeli Secret Service. However, he had never faced this combat scenario and was having trouble conserving his ammo.

About five minutes later, he heard distant gunfire. It was coming from the Egyptian mainland. This was odd, Benrali thought. The helicopters carrying reinforcements should have landed within range of his men. Also, the sound of the gunfire was strange. It wasn’t the customary German automatic weapons he was used to. They sounded like Russian cold war era rifles, such as the AK-47. He chanced a look towards the sound. The men with the AK’s dawned brown and green military cargo uniforms, not the black spec ops fatigues the Israelis wore.

Suddenly it hit him. These weren’t friendlies at all. They were Egyptians. And by the looks of their clothes and goggles, he guessed they were the infamous Unit 777, which had dealt brutally with airplane hijackings, and were now the Egyptian Special Forces. Benrali went prone as bullets whizzed near him. One grazed his foot, radiating pain through his body. He crawled to a new defensive position. He shrieked into his tough plastic radio, “The Egyptians! They are firing at us! Get down!”

Panicked, Benrali shot wildly with his AUG. The rounds would never hit the Egyptians, but they were forced to get on the sandy ground, which bought Benrali some time. He combat rolled to a new dune. Several of his men had been shot in the back, killed instantly. Benrali ignored the bloody scene and loaded his grenade launcher. He aimed quickly, and fired at the Egyptians.

Immediately, four of the twenty Egyptians were killed. Another three had been badly wounded by the concussion and lay on the ground, moaning. Benrali kept up the fire, when suddenly, he heard a jet-like noise above him. His short glance showed him that the noise came from MiG fighter jets. Then the bomb they dropped exploded.

Benrali was instantly unconscious, and was thrown nearly thirty feet. All the bones in his left leg shattered, and he was paralyzed. He awoke from the blast. Everything around him had a grayish tinge about it, like an old movie. The bullets flying through the air were buzzing bumble bees, threatening to sting him. Yelling men could not be heard in his delirium. Sand billowed around him, engulfing his body. It hit his eyes like nails. A ringing noise filled his ears, and everything was moving in slow motion. Benrali was nearly fatally shell-shocked, and he lay on the ground in pain. A soldier dragged him behind the safety of a dune. Then Benrali blacked out.

He woke up inside of a helicopter. His head ached worse than any bullet wound. Luckily, he could feel his legs again, though he wished he couldn’t. He didn’t cry out in pain, but merely whimpered quietly. He thought about what had happened. The Iranians had been taken out easily, but the Egyptians had had MiGs. It seemed completely backwards. But once again, the Israelis had defeated two formidable forces on their own. It hit Benrali. His country and his people had defeated some of the most dangerous countries. He believed now that Israel could defeat any country. It was all in the motivation and the determination, not the firepower or numbers.

Benrali Muraneiz, along with twelve other men, died in the Battle of the Ark. They had defeated three times as many Iranians and Egyptians in the battle, and saved their carrier.

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