please carry on here.
cheers vivek !
CHAPTER - ONE
“Two to One. Target sighted. Inbound and jolly. Over”
“One here. Copy. Standby.” The ‘Lt-colonel’ spoke into the mouthpiece of his UHF radio, avoiding any sudden movements. Then he pulled up his binoculars and again started to see the terrain in front of him. The dust cloud was clearly visible now, coming from behind the peaks around which the road took a bend. The cloud was a good distance away, so that even on the binoculars it was nothing more than a small sight. But it was there, and it was coming this way. This one was a big target, and something for which the team of five were cooperating with a sister team in the region.
It was to be the most audacious job so far. To complicate matters, this wasn’t exactly the ideal terrain for this kind of job. The ‘luckier’ teams had their areas of operations assigned where there was thick forest cover, and they were happily creating merry hell for their opponents. But that was why the Lt-Colonel had volunteered for leading this team. The other teams had young officers leading them in action. But the two teams here had the most difficult of tasks, and that was why the two senior men were leading them forward.
The Lt-Colonel was a lot younger than his peers but still much older than his men and he knew it. But that was why he insisted on every man in his unit, young and old, to be as fit as humanly possible. As his men had come to realize, the limit of ‘Humanly Possible’ as interpreted by their leader was very much higher than what they would have imagined and the dropout rate had been high from the volunteer pool. All that meant was that by the time a man passed the grade for this job, he was already way ahead in terms of fitness than most men his age. Many had questioned the need for such a regimen but out here it was all paying off. Quite handsomely too, if I do say so myself... The team leader thought.
The situation demanded the best of men even under normal circumstances, and it only got worse. The biggest enemy here was the weather, followed soon after by the terrain. With the amount of killing potential within these two enemies, the actual human enemy didn’t even come into the picture, but was still something to be wary of, as all had come to realize in the last few weeks. At the moment, however, the skies were clear, and the ground and the air severely cold. There was no snow yet, but it would be there after a few weeks, if the forecast was accurate. At night here it became colder than anything anyone could even imagine, much less endure. Before he got here, that is. But that was why the job required and demanded the best of the best. The selected men were unique for the region, and under no circumstances meant to fight anywhere else...
It was dark now, and the low light intensification goggles were working wonders for the team when they moved, allowing them to see the ground in front of them before they stepped on it. But for long range vision, the moonlight was sufficient to give them what they wanted to see. The moon was partially out tonight, and it allowed both teams to see the dust cloud even in the night-time and from extreme distances.
The dust cloud was much closer now, and the first signs of smaller dust clouds within the larger one were becoming visible, allowing the two teams to identify the number of vehicles inbound on the convoy. Okay, that’s four…No…Five Vehicles…and the first one looks like one of the newer models…Oh well…let’s see what it can withstand. Should gain some good intel from this attack…
The Lt-colonel removed his binoculars and rubbed his eyes again. We have been out here for too long. Must not get complacent. Must stay alert at all times, Damn it! The teams had been out here long enough. They had hit a few targets worth mentioning in the time they had been here, and that was more than what the sister team had achieved. The team’s targets had included an isolated enemy military checkpoint on the highway through this region which had been manned by a squad of enemy troops. His men had raided this post in the dark of the night and killed all of the enemy soldiers with bursts of silenced gunfire in under a minute. They had taken no prisoners and shown no remorse, but they had taken all the documents present inside the office of the dead enemy officer. The documents had shown them all they needed to know about the convoys planned to cross this week along this section of the road and thus given them the time line details to plan this attack.
The raid on the outpost had been clean and efficient. The bodies had been removed and all signs of combat cleared over. The team had made sure that the now dead enemy officer did not make his last desperate radio call to his base to issue a warning. Not that he hadn’t tried...the Lt-Colonel thought.
When the Colonel had slammed open the door of his office during the raid, he had found the young officer with his hands reaching for the radio. They never got there. Three bursts of automatic fire had sent him reeling and crashing down to the floor under the impact of the bullets. Another burst had punched five holes on the radio sets and made them unusable. And that was that. No more radio calls. No aborting of this convoy which was now clearly within the view for the two teams, and no enemy troops beating the bush trying to locate the teams.
Of course, by the time this attack was over, the entire Infantry Division garrisoning the region would be out of their bases and looking for the culprits, but that couldn’t be helped. In any case, one of the first attacks conducted by the teams had been way to the north, and it had been a spectacular one at that.
The target had been an enemy communications center on top of a peak to the north of this region. It had been catering to both the local civilian and military communication needs. Since it had been the first target on the list for the Lt-colonel’s team, the enemy hadn’t been expecting them. They had hit it during the night and caught the guards outside relaxed and not alert. With them taken care of, other team members had burst into the building, silenced everyone as they went down floor by floor, and made sure that the military equipment was left untouched.
This had allowed the team’s Comms-Specialist to determine what all he needed to know about the enemy Communications network before they had left, blowing up the relay station as they left. With that explosion, however, the enemy force in the region had instantly mobilized, and had begun searching the local region. But by that time the Lt-colonel and his men had traveled far to the south. This meant that the enemy force was searching way to the north when they had hit the small outpost along the road to the south and now were poised to hit the convoy coming below them on the Highway.
“One to Two. Target jolly. Thirty seconds...” The team leader spoke slowly into the radio transmitter. His eyes never left the road and the convoy which was approaching that one special spot along the highway. The response was a whisper and nothing else.
And then there was the silence. The calm before the storm…
The Lt-colonel reflected that this was probably the first time in half a century that someone from his side had managed to even be where his men were now, much less doing what he was about to do. It was just too bad that he couldn’t talk about it to anyone afterward. Assuming he survived to talk about it in the first place…he reminded himself
Just then the unsuspecting convoy finally reached that one spot on the road and a flurry of activity erupted among the attackers…
“One to Two. This is it! Light them up!”
The explosives specialist in each team reached for the cover of their firing triggers, flipped it open with their thumbs and then depressed the button to its entirety…
There was a gap of about a quarter second during which there was no action, causing the heartbeats of the attackers to come to a stop…and then there was a massive flash in the darkness that overpowered the dim light of the moon…then another…then another, after which the flashes became almost continuous. Then came the shockwaves along the ground followed by the thundering noise as large orange-yellow balls of fire rose into the sky one behind the other along a stretch of the road that had been occupied by the unsuspecting enemy vehicle convoy only a second ago. The clean painted military vehicles were now black, burning pyres and hulks. Just as soon as the fireballs had emerged, they vanished, leaving behind a drifting cloud of smoke and dust, and five fiercely burning vehicles…
The debris had been thrown all around. Amazingly, a crew member from the APC in the front of the convoy stumbled out of the turret hatch moments before flames poured out, hurt badly, and fell on the ground next to his vehicle. As the attackers watched, amazed at the miraculous escape of an enemy in front of them, the injured survivor began to drag himself away from the burning hulk of the APC and started to move back along the road, hoping to meet friendly forces up on the road to the north. That the nearest friendly forces were at least several dozen kilometers away from him was not a concern for the desperate enemy soldier.
It was almost sad, the Lt-colonel thought, and decided to put that man out of his misery. He picked up his rifle and fitted the magnification scope on his assault rifle before raising it up on his shoulders and then started to take aim on the enemy soldier on the plain below him. It took him a couple of seconds to fix his aim and was about to depress the trigger when his target collapsed on the road and stopped moving. The Lt-colonel lowered his rifle and looked at that small speck lying on the road below before removing the scope and tucking it away in his pack and ordered his men to pack up and move out. Nobody spoke a word. There was no time for it. They had a job to do, and a long way to go. The explosion had probably been seen by a lot of people in the surrounding hills. This was now an unhealthy place to stay.
As the team members put on their low-light goggles, put their backpacks on and pulled their rifles up, a UHF call came through for the Lt-colonel. It was the 'Major’, who commanded his second team and who was also his second-in-command. Out here he was ‘Two Actual’.
“Two to One. The fires are burning. Next one’s by the Playbook?”
“Roger, Two. Catch up with you guys later. Good Luck. Out” This was where the two teams were to separate out and move towards different targets. The Lt-colonel gave the radio back to his Comm-Specialist and signaled his ‘Point’ man to move out. His Comm-Specialist had a question for his CO: “Where to now, sir?”
The Lt-colonel just smiled back. He felt like smiling. They had had a good night. The fact that they had just eliminated several dozen enemy troops in a convoy in the blink of an eye was no longer on his conscience. If they had wanted to live, they should have stayed in their own country. But this area is mine. Step on it and you will die… the Lt-colonel reflected.
They now had a very long walk ahead of them. The Lt-Colonel looked back at the camouflage paint covered face of his men standing before him.
“The job’s just begun. Let’s move out.”
The moonlight was a problem, but they had no choice. As the team began their long walk to the south-east, they disappeared within the long dark shadows of the hills surrounding the plain. The team left behind five burning wrecks of what were military vehicles on the road in the plain below, otherwise known as the Chinese National Highway-219…