First Strike "Abort"
From the Author
First of all apologies for being away from this story for so long, Kinda got waylaid by a bug that I'm just getting over.
Having said that it gave me time to finish the story off and right now it's with a couple of beta readers to give me some feedback on the story flow and the like.
When we left the team they were last in position in the village with enemy armour approaching and both London and Command in Erbil were 'having kittens' (A polite way of saying they were crapping their pants) at the prospect of the firefight likely to erupt.
They've been given the order to abort the mission, but Scorpion one know the consequences, and they don't like it one bit!
Let's read on and see what happens.
How do you like it?
(From the previous) Ayn Al Asad Airbase, Erbil, Iraq.
"Shit" Burke' ripped the headset off and threw it against the wall, "that's all we bloody well need, a bunch of bloody ragheads turning up" spinning around to face the nearest computer operator he bellowed, "find that bloody convoy!" turning to the rest of the group he carried on, “Give me options”
There were seven in the room, four computer operators, four RAF personnel officially manning the stations operating the drones doing the reconnaissance work for the Kurds and Iraqis, though they weren’t actually flying the machines, that was being done somewhere else, there was also one signals person manning the communications along with the CO that made six, and one civilian, or at least that’s what everyone presumed he was, he was the only one wearing ‘civvies’ after all.
"Got it, sir." One of the operators, a young female blonde Air force pilot officer shouted out half in triumph and the other half due to nerves, this was her first time on the console, she had control of the cameras at least, even if she wasn’t actually flying the thing.
"Ordinance?" Burke demanded, he may be RAF, and he may have been a pilot, but that meant diddly squat when it came to things like hardware and firepower that a drone could be carrying, his rank was the equivalent rank of a lieutenant colonel with the Army. He looked around the room wanting an update in what weapons systems the 'Reapers' were carrying.
“Reaper one camera to pilot” the young officer tried contacting her pilot, she had no idea where he was, and normally you didn’t call them, but she tried anyway, “I’ve picked up multiple hostiles on the ground, do you have ordinance for dealing with them?”
“Reaper pilot negative” the voice sounded as if they were only a few yards away, in reality, they were three thousand miles away, probably in Britain, “Our screens show only air to air”
“Say again” she demanded of the pilot.
“I repeat” the pilot came back, “Negative for air to ground, I only have air to air”
“What’s he say?” Burke cut in, “do they have air to ground hardware?”
"No, none sir" she turned and faced the squadron leader, she continued nervously, "we're only rigged for recce" the boss already knew it, but frustration and some panic was beginning to set in, especially if they had anti-aircraft weaponry, they could end up losing a very expensive bit of kit, Reaper drones aren’t cheap.
"What about airstrikes?" he looked over at the comms officer, she shook her head.
"Nothing in the area sir" she was the only military person in the room who wasn't RAF, she was Army, the insignia on the uniform indicated Royal Signals, "too great a risk of friendly fire sir"
He looked frustrated, they had a column of 'heaven knows what' bearing down on the rescue mission and all hell about to break loose with no way of stopping it, "ABORT THE MISSION" he shouted at the comms sergeant, "send the abort code, DO IT NOW!"
"No" Chambers shouted and lunged for the console, but before he could intervene the message was sent. Rounding on the officer in charge he let fly, "Wing commander Burke, have you any idea what you've just done?"
"I just saved those men's lives" the wing commander began to reply.
"You just screwed the British government and signed the death warrants of those aid workers!" Chambers was in no mood to be nice, "not to mention putting your entire team in jeopardy, you just seriously pissed Scorpion one off, not something I’d recommend"
You seriously want to annoy these guys?
"I just saved my men"
"I just saved my people" Burke retorted without turning round, looking directly at the radio operator he went on, "take a look at that convoy" he pointed to the big screen, it showed the recent arrivals, "third and fifth vehicles, see anything familiar?"
Chambers stopped for a moment, the two vehicles looked like Humvees, but with strange boxes on the roof of each, "they look like anti-tank missiles" he wasn't sure.
"Try again" Burke replied, "vehicle-mounted stingers, better known as anti-aircraft missiles, you think I'm sending helicopters anywhere near them you can think again!" He turned to the radio operator, "I'm not risking the loss of my aircraft, give the abort code."
"But sir" the comms operator began, she was looking directly at the Wing commander, "standard operating procedure is".
" I know what the S.O.Ps are!" he blurted out, "and the presence of those missiles overrule the SOPS, anything within three miles those things will takedown, now do as I ordered," he slammed his fist into the nearest desk, glaring at the operator he went on, "or do we relieve you of your duty" he was in no mood to argue. "now send the bloody code!"
"But sir" she tried again, "the RV is east of their position the enemy is east of them too so they'll have to go around them, sir."
"Much easier if the enemy doesn't know they're there don't you think?" He was being sarcastic, " as in no damn firefight! Now send the code, THAT'S AN ORDER!"
London England. MI6 HQ
"Have they reached the objective yet?" The well-dressed man asked as he entered the room, he was a very distinguished-looking gent for whom one look confirmed he was part of the British establishment, it was a look Sir Michael Smith had spent many years cultivating and was as far from real life as you could get.
“The recce team is there now sir” the operator, a young redhead with a slight accent that most wouldn’t notice answered, “they’re observing the place as we speak,” she didn’t even turn to acknowledge him, she was staring intently at the computer screen, “The main force won’t be there for another eight hours, Though I think we might have a problem sir”
“What problem?” that statement stopped him in his tracks, he had been heading for the coffee pot, an ever-present item when Sir Michael was around, “and what main force?”
“We’ve just got the feed from Iraq sir” the operator went on’ she half-turned at the same time as tapping a few keys on the screen, the camera zoomed out, “about three miles east of their position sir, a new convoy just arrived and stopped right where we don’t need them”
“Explain” was all he said. He’d reached her desk by now, but not before he’d poured a cup, he put it down beside Sandy and went back to get himself one.
“Armoured convoy, six ISIS vehicles, all Humvees, looks like two of them are equipped with vehicle-mounted Stingers sir” she stopped for a moment to allow him to absorb the information.
“The RAF is having kittens sir regarding the Stingers,” hse went on, “Burke already tried to call the team, giving the abort code”
“WHAT!!” he was almost around to her side of the computer. The government had made a promise to the Swedes on this, a foolish one he’d thought at the time, but still, one they’d do well to stick with.
“I said tried sir!” Sandy stopped him, “the team’s gone dark, possibly radio silence”
“Is there any way we can contact them?”
“Sir, we only have listening capability, everything else is being run by Iraq” she looked directly at the Director-General of MI6, it felt strange for her, telling her boss what they could and couldn’t do, she’d only been with MI6 a year or so and was still getting used to the way things were done.
No one was sure just what capabilities ISIS really had, they captured a lot of equipment the Coalition forces had given Iraq, including surveillance, direction finding and radio jamming equipment, but no one was sure if they knew how to use it, and even less appealing was finding out the hard way that they worked out the DF equipment when they sent a couple of shells whistling your way’
The RAF worry about the stingers was a concern, Intel said there wouldn't be any anti-aircraft fire in the area, the Stinger missiles had a ten-mile range, a couple of Apaches could deal with them, but that meant asking the Army Air Corps for help, something the 'Brylcreem Boys' hated doing.
"Do we know why they're gone dark?" He asked as he sat in the seat beside Sandy, she passed a headset to him, he didn't bother putting it on, there wasn't any point really if the team was in radio silence they wouldn't respond to anyone, and if the radios we're faulty they were all screwed.
"No sir" Sandy replied, "the team told us about the convoy, then it went silent" she looked directly at him, her expression saying she expected to get some form of blame.
"Are you sure it's not just the comms link at our end?" Sir Michael wasn't quite believing her, "satellite went down or something like?" he knew some of the biggest military balls ups have been through faulty radio equipment, the last thing they needed was this operation going 'tits up' and four SAS soldiers being taken by ISIS.
"No sir" Sandy sounded sheepish, "Cheltenham assures me the equipment at our end is fine" she paused to let that sink in, "at the other end" she went on, "they either turned it off, or something broke, either way, we lost comms with the team on the ground".
A real life rescue, they plucked over a hundred out from under Libya's noses
"Screw the orders, it's showtime!"
The village was little more than a couple of dozen houses, actually calling the place a village was a bit of a stretch, it was more like a country hamlet without the pub, but had a mosque for a church, but it was a village, or what passed for them in this part of Iraq. They were little more than mud-brick huts, each one with its own tiny walled-in courtyard where the women would do the cooking in seclusion.
North of the village was the compound, a road (the only one apart from the main road ) led south into a central area where it met the main road running east-west, the perfect ambush spot.
Joey worked fast, he had two claymore mines, both of these would be remotely detonated by Smithy once the right vehicles were in the 'kill zone' they would block any avenue of retreat, or reinforcements getting there.
The Padmini is the UK version of the American Claymore, a mine that can be set to go off in one direction, making it the perfect weapon for their ambush, Joey had brought three, two intended to be used in the ambush and one as a backup, he knew exactly where he was going to use the backup.
"Mines set boss" Joey whispered to Jacko as he passed his position, "remember the sixty"
"Got it" Jacko replied, they all knew what he meant, the mine was perfect for this job in that you can control the direction of the blast, "how far?"
"Fifty metres boss" Joey assured him, "both facing inwards, will kill everything in that area."
"Use the last one to make sure those buggers" he nodded towards the convoy still a couple of miles away, "make sure they don't spoil the party!"
"Roger that boss, gimme five minutes" and Joey was off running.
He ran almost to the edge of the village, he had one left, each mine had its own set of stakes, so he didn't need to worry about attaching them, he flipped the two stakes out from the bottom of the mine and drove them into the ground.
Next was a ball of cheese wire, or at least that's what it resembled. The tripwire had a small hook on one end, he hooked it into a small pin at the top of the mine, then began reeling the wire out.
The grenade pin can take some pressure before coming out, the last thing he needed was for it to come out right now, that would detonate the device and it wouldn't be a pretty sight, the claymore was named because it’s inventor an American of Scottish ancestry wasn’t just thinking of some Celtic pride when he developed the weapon, he knew it was a weapon with awesome potential, but potentially devastating when used properly.
As soon as he got to the other side of the street he looked for a place to attach the wire, there was a power box from when the village had electricity, he used the handle on the box and pulled the wire reasonably tight.
'Good job I don't have to hide this stuff' he thought to himself as he finished the bodge job, at least to him it felt like a job only half good enough, he knew it would do the job, but that didn't stop him wishing he could set things that properly.
The mines were anti-personnel mines, a British variant of the M1 Claymore meant for killing or maiming combatants, but not so good against armour, even the Humvees armour would stop the blast, but Humvees are wheeled vehicles, take the tyres out and you immobilise the vehicle, that would not only stop their victims getting away, they would also prevent help getting there. It was the Hummers weak point, and the point Joey intended to use to their advantage.
"Six vehicles" Smithy's report was concise, "numbers one three and six have heavy machine guns, look like .50 calibre"
"Roger" Jacko acknowledged, "distribution?"
"All guns manned" Smithy replied, "four x rays extra each in numbers one, four, five and six, two each in two and three."
"Roger that, what about our pax?"
"Split between vehicles two and three" Smithy replied, "two in the first, three in the second, all bound and blindfolded"
"Roger that" Jacko came back, "inform us when"
"Showtime" Smithy cut him off, "they're on the move, SHOWTIME"
And that's all for now folks
I've got to make the break there so that HP likes the length of the hub, but rest assured the next instalment will be out in a few days.
But here's a question to think on. They've been given orders to abort the mission, doing so puts the hostages in mortal danger, but to disobey the orders could put them all in greater danger, what would you do?
There is no right or wrong answer, I just want you to have a think about it.