Sting of the Scorpion Part 15: "Pressing Home"
From the Author
We're nearly at the end of the story, and what a wild ride it's been! The team have had just about everything that can be thrown their way coming right at them, yet somehow they manage to keep on towards their goal.
I want to say a big thank you to all you people who've followed the story so far as you've been a great encouragement to keep the story on track and keep pressing forward towards the goal.
I actually had no idea how the story was going to work out as I had one ending planned but as the story had gone on it's become obvious that it wasn't going to work out that way, so we have an ending that wasn't in my plan at least, we probably aren't gonig to get there this week, but lets see what happens.
Thanks for visiting
From the previous
Message for the General
"Any of you speak English?" Jacko asked as Chambers moved round the back of each Prisoner, he'd finished dismantling the weapons and had found some Ziploc ties intended for securing prisoners, that was exactly what they were going to be used for, except not the prisoners they were meant for.
"A little" one of the soldiers, a very nervous looking corporal replied.
"Tell your officer I have a message for your General" Jacko paused for him to translate, as soon as he stopped speaking Jacko went on, "We're not 'terrorists' or murderers" he paused while the soldier translated, "that's the reason you're being spared, but the people you are working with are!" Jacko carried on, “Those men in the fortress at Alamut planted the bombs in Istanbul, using them to kidnap a British diplomat, and they killed so many just to get at that diplomat, surely they must have known we’d retaliate!” he paused for the man translating to catch up.
“We have no quarrel with the people of Iran” Jacko started off again, “but if you try to stop us from reaching safety make no mistake, we will not hesitate, DO YOU UNDERSTAND?” he shouted the last part, all the prisoners rocked back at the ferocity he used. They understood all too well!
They were trussed up and going nowhere, but Jacko wasn’t finished, “We’ll leave you some water and supplies further down the road so that you can get out of here, but we’re taking the transport.” He stopped and turned back to the soldier, “make sure your General gets the message” then he turned back to the vehicle, “Okay boys let’s mount up”
Joey and Sandy
The sun was descending over the Western mountains as they entered the tunnel. They were still in the container, but had pulled the doors so that to the casual observer they looked as if they were closed
Joey told Sandy to "get some shut eye" as they'd need to be rested up when they left the train; it was going to be a long hard run for the border. He spent the time cleaning and checking the weapons, they’d used about a magazine each from the Commando and the Kalashnikov, but they’d been able to restock the AK so things weren’t too bad, they were in a good situation with the ammunition.
Grenades were a slightly different story, Joey’d used six grenades in the trap and was down to only two left, but he still had a full load for the grenade launcher.
Squealing from the tracks was what told him they were slowing down, the train was applying the brakes, not sure if there were any signals that they were obeying he decided to get ready for the worst.
“Time to get off” Joey shook Sandy back awake, she’d dozed off for about a half hour, it’d felt good to have even that short sleep. “We’re getting close to the border”
“Where are we exactly?” Sandy took a moment or two to come around; they were still inside the container and had closed the doors.
“We’ve been on the train an hour or so” Joey replied. “We were sixty miles from the border when we boarded, so I reckon that makes us about ten to fifteen miles from the border and near to the rail yards where customs check the freight before sending it into Iraq”
“So why not stay on?” Sandy thought ‘surely if the train’s going into Iraq it makes sense to stay onboard’
“Customs” Joey replied without a hint of a rebuke, “You can bet a pound to a pinch of salt they’ll be checking for us, as well as all the other stuff they check for! Besides, I think they just stopped the train for a specific search, before Customs gets here, if you know what I mean!”
Here's the whole book
It was Sniffer who alerted them. One minute he was fairly relaxed, the next he was alert, ears pricked up, hair on his back rising and letting out a low growl.
Joey took hold of his harness and gently got sniffer to lie down, he managed to cover the dog's snout and stop him growling or barking. They'd heard nothing, but a dogs hearing is so much more sensitive than a humans, whatever he heard can't be good.
As Joey was getting sniffer to relax, he'd done his job. Sandy slowly opened the container doors, there was just enough light to see the tunnel.
"They're searching the train" her voice was just above a whisper. "Still a ways up near the front, but they're checking everything"
"They'll have the exit covered for sure" Joey answered her unasked question, "we'll have to think some other way, meanwhile we can't stay in here.
Just then Sandy whispered " I've got an idea but we’ll have to move fast, come on get a move on" she grabbed the padlocks and handed two to Joey, "you clip the top two on, I'll do the bottom two"
Seconds later they were out, the compartment closed and they were moving.
They were totally still, not daring to move even the slightest finger as the searchers marched past. Even sniffer seemed to understand that movement now would result in instant death at the hands of merciless men, not that he liked Joey holding his snout so tightly; they could still hear the occasional low growl in protest.
They’d just had enough time to lock the container and climb back under one of the oxygen tanks as the searchers made their way methodically along the train, both of them had their weapons at the ready but reality was in a situation like this it really was a last resort as death for all would be almost certain.
The searchers were speaking mainly Russian, but some rattled off in German occasionally, usually a cuss at their commander, a guy called Gregorovitch, Sandy recognised the name, Joey looked at her inquisitively but she made a gesture that said “Later”
Two of the searchers drew level with the tank they were hiding under, Joey shrank back even further into the shadows, unseen yet watching every move, ready to react and try to give Sandy the best possible chance, thought even that wouldn’t be all that great in the situation.
“Nothing here” he heard one voice say in German, his German was passable, everyone in the Army spends time in Germany and learns at least a smattering of the language, at least enough to order a ‘Beer and Fries’ if nothing else! “I suppose those arseholes in charge got it wrong AGAIN!” the voice continued, they heard faint agreements down the line and some laughter at other comments he couldn’t quite make out. He could see Sandy’s face, she was smiling too, it seemed she understood German as well!
The ATV turned out to be a Chinese ‘knockoff’ of the American Humvee, right down to the armour plating on the floors against IED’s that’d proved so devastating in Iraq and Afghanistan, the motor didn’t quite have the acceleration the American ones had, but it had some serious ‘grunt’ for hauling heavy loads over the rough terrain they were travelling, and the serious firepower they had ‘up top’ was some heavy equipment.
“Smithy” Jacko called out above the noise of the cab, “What’s our situation with the Ammo?” they knew it had to be good as they could hear the whistling of a man who was very happy, just like an adolescent kid who’s just got the fastest motorbike on the block!
“She’s a Chinese version of the fifty cal boss” Smithy came back, “and so far I’ve got two boxes of ammo, both full and unopened, along with the belt that was in the gun, I’d say about three thousand rounds altogether!”
“Shiiiit!!!” it was Chambers let out the expletives, “What were they trying to stop, a team, or an Army?” he looked across at Jacko who was concentrating on the road.
“All they knew was we made a hell of a mess of Alamut!” Jacko replied without taking his eyes off the road, “besides, they may have had all the toys, but they weren’t anticipating using them! At least that team wasn’t”
“How long you think it’ll be before they find out we took their ‘toys’?”
“Hard to say really” They were all hoping ‘never’ but that wasn’t reality, “depends on how long it takes those boys to get free!”
“You honestly think the Iranians will back off?” Mac chirped in.
“Not a chance!” Jacko replied, he’d suggested the idea of sending the message back (and letting the men live) but none of them really thought it would work, the best they thought they’d get out of it was confusion as to why and what purpose, “But we had to try!”
“But those men can be put back in the field!” Chambers pointed out the fallacy.
“Only after a severe bollocking by the C.O. which will waste his time and then having to go back to the armoury which will waste more time and money for the Iranians, by which time it’ll be all over!”
Kill an enemy and it takes two men three or four hours to bury him and it’s over, but wound or confuse him and it could take ten men months to sort out the mess! The key to winning in their situation was cause havoc and confusion! Cause so much trouble the enemy literally doesn’t have a clue where they are and is ‘chasing his tail’ all over the place long after ‘Elvis has left the building’ if you know what I mean, that had been the plan with the message!
They were within fifteen miles of the border when Jacko pulled the vehicle over and took out the Satellite phone, there was a pre-arranged number he was to call, let it ring four times and hang up, that was the signal for ‘extraction’
What was chasing them now?
Checkpoint "Oh Shit"
Rounding the corner their fears were realised as they came face to face with a checkpoint, a tracked Armoured Personnel carrier with half a dozen men in, sat at a road checkpoint and about four or five bored frustrated looking guards, the APC was reinforcement for the situation, they hadn’t been rumbled yet, but even just approaching the checkpoint meant that discovery was inevitable, and they had to get through.
“You” Jacko looked directly at Chambers, “Head down and sodding well stay that way!” he shouted, there was no time to be nice, “Smithy, on my mark take the APC first, Mac, when he starts” he nodded in Smithy’s direction, “Level the guard building, I’ll bowl the men in the road, that should get us through at least, then it’s all bets are off and we race for the extraction site!”
He approached the checkpoint slowly at first, then about a hundred yards from the barrier he floored the gas pedal and screamed “NOW!”
An ear shattering roar came from above as Smithy opened up with the fifty cal, the men in and around the APC stood no chance whatsoever as the cannon shells tore limb from limb, at that range the one inch armour plating on the APC gave way to the massive velocity of the shells that ripped through it like a can opener opening a supermarket bean can, and with less resistance. The guard hut was engulfed in a ball of flame as two grenades fired from the grenade launcher exploded taking the whole building out, men were running screaming, diving for the nearest cover, but not sure if that was going to be next. Jacko aimed the vehicle between the roadblocks knowing full well that the barrels in the road were actually concrete ‘tank stops’ that if he hit them head on they would literally stop them in their tracks and throw the team clear through the windscreen, the only way was to ‘bounce’ through them with glancing blows, effectively like a bullet ricocheting off them and carrying on through, that was the plan what plan there was that is!
Somehow, by some miracle the ‘gods of war’ shone down on them that day, and they made it through the whole checkpoint, the Humvee ‘knockoff’ showed it was almost as tough as the original and made it through almost intact, though they all swore they’d wear seatbelts in future and Jacko was NEVER to be allowed to drive on British roads ever again!
Smithy's opinion of Jacko's driving
“After that piece of shit boss” Smithy was almost laughing at the fact they got through, a nervous laugh, “I think I’m going to have a word with my mate at the Driving school and see if we can get you some real lessons!”
"Any good news for a change?"
“Smithy” Jacko replied, “I was going to say if you could do better you’re welcome to try, but we damn well need you on that gun! We’re going to have company all the way now!”
“Thanks for the heads up boss” Smithy replied, “But they’re already mounting up, there were a couple more vehicles hidden and they’re pretty pissed!” Just then a huge explosion almost rocked the Humvee, “Did I point out they’ve got a sodding Scorpion?”
A Scorpion Tank. British built and sold to the Iranians in the late 1970s still the fastest tank ever built with a top speed of over a hundred miles an hour! Armed with a 76mm gun, and a 7.62mm ‘ranging’ machine gun it was a serious opponent, there was no way they could even think of outrunning the damn thing, but it does have one weakness. Armour or lack of it! The Scorpion’s armour plating is only just over an inch thick, it relies on its speed as its main defence! In a fast moving battle that can be a huge advantage, but only if the enemy don’t know its weakness!
“I’m not going back to deal with that!” Jacko replied. “Any chance you can take her out on the move?”
“There’s a depression ahead boss” Smithy shouted a reply just as the machine gun on the tank opened up, they heard the last of the shells as they hit the back of the vehicle, not penetrating as the Kevlar plate protected them, but enough that the gunner in the tank could see he’d got their range. “Get her in there and we can take her as she comes over the rise!” they were going flat out now, Jacko swung the wheel hard right just as they heard the boom of the main gun, the Tank was about two hundred yards behind and closing fast, she was well ahead of the other two Humvees following, they were now less than ten miles from the border. The shell impacted right in the track where they would have been if they’d kept the same course. As soon as the shell landed he jerked the wheel hard left and headed off on a new tangent. Two or three more shells and erratic driving from Jacko was all that kept them from being obliterated, they’d never complain about bad drivers ever again!
They went into the depression just as another shell whistled overhead and exploded about twenty yards in front of them, the shockwave rocking the vehicle, but the weight of the Humvee kept her on the road, all they could do now was wait.
The one weak point for any tank is their underbelly, the underside of the tank only usually has mines to deal with, so the armour plating tends to be that much weaker there, it’s the one place that manufacturers feel they can save on weight and still retain the awesome capabilities the tank needs, it also leaves as ‘Achilles heel’ in that as the tank is climbing out of places it needs to get literally ‘half way out’ before it’ll ‘flop’ back down, that few seconds is when even the greatest monster is like a beached whale, take it then and it’s totally helpless, unable to fight back, or even move! That was the plan.
Smithy opened up with the fifty cal, it tore into the ‘soft underbelly’ of the tank and a couple of shells actually made it into the engine compartment disabling the engine, she was out for the count, unable to move and unable to use her gun, the crew were worse than useless now, the only hope they had was stay inside the tank and hope for the best.
The three of them let out a huge cheer, all except Smithy who was watching the horizon, “Boss, he called down, I wouldn’t get too excited if I was you, the rest of the Humvees are hot on the tail, and there’s six more hairy arsed ragheads closing fast! Three at two o’clock and three at ten o’clock!”
“Smithy, you got any good news for a change?” Mac shot back as they got under way again; it was going to be bloody tight making the border.
“Mac” Smithy came back, “You take the two o’clock buggers, I’ll deal with the ragheads in the other group, they’re about four hundred yards and closing fast. “Any luck on raising our taxi out of here boss?”
“We should be just in range now” Jacko replied. “Let’s call the cavalry”
A closer look at the Scorpion
And that's all for now folks
Things are getting a bit 'hairy' for the team, but it's time to leave them for now as they sort out how to battle the latest threat and find a way through.
Joey and Sandy haven't been discovered yet and Jacko is calling for an 'extraction' so next week we'll see what happens. Thanks again for the visit and I hope you enjoyed the story this week.
leave a comment either here or on my FB page.