*pit* *pat* *pit* *pat*
Ye know… I used to like the rain. So I got muddy…a bath or a swim could and would fix that. It’s when you are trying to be sneaky or get the hell out of dodge that it becomes a curse with a blessing…
We left that house early the next night, Phantom as quiet as a mouse and twice as tight as a snare drum. There was just something that was bugging him and it was starting to carry over to the rest of the team. The two lovers were part of the problem, I’m sure… but they were out cold and cuffed to each other. At least when they awoke in two days, they’d be happy about that. But the fact they were even there… that was the itch and the bitch.
Needless to say it was Not Good for the team to be buggin… but as it turned out, we had a very good reason in the end.
Traipsing up the mountain, we hit the agreed rally point a pair of klicks away from the target. Bustin’ out a map of the AO, Scottie held the map for the LT to parcel out responsibilities. We had gone over it before but it never hurts to hash it out again.
Abdul and Tiny were the close-cover men for this op, their RPK and SAW being our heavy guns, capable of cutting down lots of baddies… or at least keeping heads down. Tiny was also the Demo guy so if we needed to blow something, he’d have to break off and come do his job. No biggie but we were not expecting to blow anything this trip other than the occasional door or diversion.
Hayseed was the Lone Gunman, his SDM-16 being wicked accurate and the boy himself a scary marksman. It would be his responsibility to pick off anyone giving us too much grief or put a nail in the Target if we couldn’t get him. Judging from the map, a barn a quarter-mile away should be sufficient for that job.
Me and Tiger paired off with an SAS man apiece, our firepower supplementing the suppressed guns of the UK boys. Sterling’s are nice but a tad underpowered… not that our M4’s are much better but they aren’t stopped as easy by furniture. Add in I had the under-barrel blooper, most discussions we would have would be short.
The LT would ride piggy-back with us till we got in, where he’d be the one to do the tagging; his Russian dart gun (a gift from the Spetznaz boys we trained with in Moscow- long story there) being damn good for it as it delivered an electric shock and sleep drug at the same time- thirty seconds or less, according to the russki’s.
The plan, as it was, was to slip in close and observe the place, looking for his Scummy-ness and move to extract. The next night was when we’d move in and do the deed. Pays to recon in case somebody miscounted bodies or something.
Things went from bad to worse…
We managed to get up to that barn with no problem. No body home either, which made it great for the resident redneck and a nice fall-back point. It was when we did our sneak in the rain up to the dacha that we found out why things seemed too good.
The place was crawling with Serb gunmen.
Instead of the thirty or so guards and possible armored car, Scumbag had twice that and a pair of BMP’s sitting in the courtyard. Add in the two towed ZSU 23’s and it made for a really bad day if you got caught on the receiving end.
Well… this was a pickle.
Phantom convened a mini-conference with us back in the barn when we cleared the place. “Ok… it’s apparent someone fucked up here…” He said, more than a touch of anger in his voice. “I know the answer already but I wanna make sure… How much in the way of egg crackers do we have?”
I did the math on the 40-mill ammo I had. “I got three HEDP and two willy; the rest is frag.” I have never felt so naked before…
Irish, Hayseed and Scottie shook their heads. They had notin’ as they were not demo or anti-armor specialists. They killed people, not tanks.
Tiger reached into his pack and pulled out a satchel charge. “I got this but someone got to get really close.” God bless the little bastard for insisting on being assistant Demo guy.
Tiny looked up from the notebook he carried. “I can gimmick about four anti-armor charges but they are back deck or tread only kind-a-things. No way I am punching through the front with C-4”
Phantom nodded. “Ok… we got enough to do this but it will be dicey at the absolute best. Tiny, set up your charges and hand them off to the breachers; its going to be us that has to do this. Archer,” He said, looking at me. “Don’t you miss…”
“Who me? They are big as Master Chief’s Ego. Just no way…”
A grin. “Just sayin’, alright?” Turning back to the rest of men, Phantom just shook his head. “Intel screwed the pooch on this but its doable. We proceed… just make sure everyone’s crap works right before we head in tomorrow night.”
A chorus of agreement and we broke to check gear and get rest before tomorrow nights festivities. Looking at my gear, I could only hope nothing else went silly on this trip.
:: Archer, Hayseed… one to your two o’clock, ten meters::
::check; got him::
::Tiny, watch your eight, mate::
::Epsilon, Lead… stand to::
Sixty seconds passed… and the eight of us all tensed up, fingers on triggers and small beads of sweat mixing with the light rain that was *still* falling…
Rotten weather… at least it helped us get in close.
An explosion of lights came on in the main house as some shouting began. As I had a fairly good command of Serb, translation usually fell to me.
<Get the Guards up! Now damn-it!! Radovan’s boy told him he had seen some Americans a day ago; they beat him up and raped his girl… They might be here now!>
Aw suck… Not only is this blown, we get accused of extra curricular too. Don’t that beat all? ::Lead, Archer. We’re fucked::
::Epsilon Lead…. DO IT!!::
Not what I was expecting… but it would work.
Stepping out, I snap sighted the -203 into the nearest BMP and fired. The 40-millimeter charge arc’d over the space and slammed into the rear hatch where fuel was kept on these things (whata stupid place). The round’s explosion neatly tore into the fuel tank and set it off like a howitzer, sending shrapnel everywhere and anywhere.
I could see single men dropping from around one of the ZSU’s, head and throat shots. Hayseed is a scary dude with that thing…
Moving along side Irish, we hauled ass across the courtyard and towards the stairs to the porch. Irish pitched the mini-charge Tiny had gave him into the second BMP, its back door open and a body half in it.
Good thing too as the turret on the beast began to slew towards us when the charge went off. Said slew immediately stopped as screams could be heard slightly over the din of weapons fire.
Getting to the porch, the four of us spread out and picked targets as LT hit the doorway at a run. With a solid boot to the door jamb, he kicked it open and dove in firing his SD5. Scotty ducked in after him then Irish, leaving me and Tiger to hold the doorway.
Out there in the mess, I could hear the sounds of several RPK’s and the lighter ripping sound of Tiny’s SAW. A cascade of AK fire was prevalent too.. but not as worrisome as most of it was not pointed at me.
But some was and that where Tiger n’ I got busy.
On my fourth mag change, the LT came out with Scumbag over his shoulder. “Head for the garage!”
All of us beat feet for the Dacha’s detached garage, a good sized three door/two story affair. I could see Abdul and Tiny there already as we hit the already open side door.
Inside was a pair of motorcycles and an older Toyota Landcruiser. Well… it *was* big enough but did it have gas?
While Tiny and Abdul kept heads down, I scurried over to the SUV as I expected to get told to-
“Jim, get that bitch running; no way in hell we are getting out on foot!”
“Step ahead of ya, Boss,” A crash of window glass as I busted it to get at the doorlock. Tossing my rifle to Irish to use, I climbed in, leatherman in my hand to hotwire this baby.
Weapons-fire picked up and the wood door of the garage started to get holes…
“C’mon Laddie… the native are getting’ a wee restless!!” The thump of the 203 punctuated Irish’s brogue. “Verra Restless, really…”
“Almost got it…” I yelled as I finally got the stink’n glow-plugs to kick in. Damn diesels… five seconds later, she fired up. “Done!! Everyone get in!”
::Hayseed, cover us on our evac- we’re in the red Toyota.:: Phantom said into the network as he threw scumbag into the cargo area. “Jim- everyone’s on the bus!” He yelled as he dove in too.
The second the LT landed inside, I floored it through the doors. Splinters everywhere, I immediately felt the thump of two unlucky gunmen bounce off the bumper as I hauled the truck around for the gates out. I really hoped they were open…
“Shit!! Brakes!” Yelled Tiger and I mashed them once; good thing too as the smoke trail of an RPG round beat us to the gates and blasted them to hell. Well, if they weren’t open before, they were now.
“Nice of them to open the door don’t you think?” I hollered as I floored the accelerator once more and raced out of the place like we stole something.
Which, come to think of it, we did.
An hour and at least two destroyed pursuing GAZ jeeps later, the border of Serbia and Bosnia approached. Looking down at the fuel gauge, I was not too happy- I had less than a quarter tank left and at least another hundred K of driving to go.
In the rain, at least we could avoid air pursuit but it was the ground we were worried over; we can only go so fast and there was only us. We needed to get another twenty klicks closer to the border before Air Evac could be called… or so LT was being told.
“What do you mean we are on our own?!? We got wounded, the package and we are being chased by some determined hounds… Can’t a Pave Low get in here? Or the Pave Hawk out of Bondsteel?” A few second pause as the LT listened to the other end. “Oh you are kidding me, right?” Another pause. “Crap. Ok… we’ll get closer but you gotta get us some air or something. We are almost Bingo Fuel and not much better on bullets either.
A longer pause. “Ok… We’ll be there. Make sure the French are.” Hanging up, he stashed the satphone. “Find the next road to Pljevlja and follow it. Goes near a railroad line and we are to follow that towards the border.”
“You’re kidding… right?”
“No… I wish I was.”
“Jeez…” Hayseed said, his arm starting to leak again from the seven-six-two he took getting in the Cruiser. “Of all people to rely on, it’s the Frogs!”
“Could be worse, Gustav,” Abdul said as he reached over with another bandage out of Irish’s bag. “It could be the Italians…”
“Not funny- Ow!”
“I dinna care if its fairies…” Scotty said, nursing a graze on his head as Hayseed was being patched up. “We gotta get thare and in one piece.”
Grunts of agreement came as I spied a truck depot on the side of the road. “Then we need a change of rides, guys” I said as I steered over towards it. Stopping in front of the gate, I waited for Tiger to get out with his pistol and pop the lock.
Once popped, I drove in and headed for some vans off to the side. Anything at this point was better than the shot up and almost out of fuel Cruiser. “Ok… This bus is toast. Time to transfer…” Hopping out, I went to driver side window of the van
As I got ready to smash a window once more, I noticed the door was not locked. Smiling, I opened the door and looked inside. Noting the logbook and the various foodstuffs in a cooler, I pointed it out to the LT. He nodded and grabbed Scottie; they were going to check the main building’s offices…
“Well look at this shit…” Hayseed said as Tiny opened the door to the back. Inside was a bunch of crates containing lots of items of interest. Cigarettes, fruits, can goods… and a box of nine-mil ammo along with some pistols- Glocks by the look of them.
“Well… sometimes crime does pay,” Tiny said as the sound of gunfire was heard.
A second later… ::Relax… he resisted. Got the keys though:: Phantom said. ::Get everyone aboard::
Once Phantom came out, we headed out. Holding up a lock, he motioned to stop at the gate. Grinning I did so and he quick locked the gate behind us.
Climbing back in, he motioned to drive. “Get us out of here Jim…”
Three hours later, we were rumbling along a rail track heading towards the border when we ran out of service road. “Crap.” I said as I threw it into park. “I hope the Evac knows about this.” Getting out, I went to the back door and walked right into the business end of FAMAS held by a rather bedraggled and dirty looking female.
“Freeze Monsieur,” She said. “I’d rather not have to blow out your spleen”
Glancing around, I could see we were busted. Six rifles were trained on us from various points and while some of us had guns up, not all of us did. Oh god I hope this was the Frogs…. “Sure thing, doll… Got nothing better to do right at the moment.”
Nodding and giving a slight smile she shifted to take in the entire crew, who have been very quiet- rather smart, as this was decidedly not the time for violence. “Zo…” she continued. “Who would be Phantom?” Ok there was some hope- maybe Missy here was sent by the French.
“That would be me,” Tiger stepped up, all five-two of him. “What you want?”
“The real Phantom for starters, Monsieur… though I give you points for trying.”
The LT gave a short wave. “Ok then… If you know who you want, then why ask?”
A smile. “Because I have a message for you and you in specific; it seems the Belgian in charge of the Detain and Intervention Directorate wishes to speak with you about your methods… You are to go straight to Brussels, Le Commandant, when you get back to friendly ground. .”
Phantom smiled. “Oh that’s rich. We got ‘im and he has problems with my methods? He can wait as we got someone to take in here and my men to look after. Jeez… and its Lieutenant, Mademoiselle.”
A sly smile as she motioned for her people to lower weapons. “Oui. I understand and I did not get it wrong. Our ride should be here-“
The sound of a pair of Gazelle Gunships pierced the air as they roared down the rails, bounding around the bend a mile distant. Behind them, a Puma paced along. Splitting apart, the gunships took up local station as the third chopper flared to a landing nearby.
“-Right about now.” A grin as she pointed towards the now grounded transport chopper. “After you, Monsieurs…“
Well, it was a fun ride back to Bosnia and from Bondsteel to Belgium. The French took our charge into custody and jetted him off to the Hague while we sat around licking wounds and wondering what sillyness was going to come up next.
Phantom got promoted from Lieutenant to Lieutenant Commander… and was promptly transferred away from detached duty with NATO. The others also were pulled back to their various commands except me.
Me? I wound up staying in Europe going to work for the Company because of my language skills on an Extended Detached Duty Tour. It seems the Cold War never really did thaw as much as folks thought and Sarejavo was turning into the new Bern or Vienna; a hotbed of spies, lies and well, you know… Since I spoke the local languages and Russian, I was a commodity they wanted around. I also saw E6 out of all this. Something I didn’t expect, that’s for sure.
So, I had a new job, new rank and would be drawing a second salary (double dipping is always nice) once I completed Diplomat and Spy school come the Summer of 2001.
Little did anyone know how the world was going to change not long after that.