Scorpion's Reach 'Assault'
From the author
In the last episode we left off with Sam and Hene taking a beating from their captors for simply trying to communicate with each other, the beating didn't work, the message was passed, "Stand strong, stand tall!"
The team has arrived on the Island, but the time-frame has been moved up significantly, are they too late?
Let's get to it and find out.
"Another fine mess you've gotten me into!"
The hoods were still on, but the change in pitch from the engines told her they were coming in to land, the smell of salt in the air suggested it was either on or near the coast, but the foul smell of rotten eggs was so bad it was almost choking.
“What the hell is that?” she thought to herself, “It’s absolutely disgusting!”. She was trying hard not to retch up, partly through fear it might cause a reprisal. It never occurred to her it could actually be a natural smell.
“White Island” she heard Hene whisper next to her, at least that’s what she thought she heard him say, “Only one place in the”
“Silence” there was a shout above the drum of the rotors, and a sickening thud that she could only guess what happened, Hene’s silence seemed to indicate she’d guessed right, he’s been either clubbed or pistol whipped and knocked senseless.
“You’ll get chance to talk soon” the voice they’d heard earlier giving the commands spoke up, “then you’ll be begging us to listen, and spare you” there was almost an amused note to the voice, as if he’d found something funny to say.
Right there and then she knew she had a choice, she could let the fear take hold, panic and give them exactly what they wanted within a few minutes, it would be over quickly after that, with a nine millimeter bullet to the brain, or she could fight back, and do it by not even thinking about what was going on! Literally by ‘going to her safe place’
Sam’s ‘safe place’ was the old movies, not the fifties and sixties movies, but the old Laurel and Hardy movies, the classics, and right now she had a picture of Ollie Hardy sat in a pile of dung with Stan beside him saying, “Well, that’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me in!”
She started to laugh, she had no idea why, it didn’t make sense, but she just couldn’t help herself, she ‘saw’ with her mind’s eye the confusion on the faces of her captors, looking just the way Stan Laurel used to look when Ollie said those words, that made her laugh even more, even though the hood was still there, you can’t stop the imagination from seeing things, even if they aren’t really there! She saw the look of consternation and bewilderment on their faces, or at least the imagined look, and it felt good, knowing she was ‘sticking it to them’ telling them “Go screw yourselves!” They were going to make a fight of it, and to hell with the consequences.
Hene had been fighting his own demons, he’d been trying hard to ‘hold it together’ thinking he had to for Sam, he was dazed from the pistol whipping, which made the laughter sound even stranger, but dammit, he just didn’t ‘give a toss’ anymore! He was going to make it as hard as he could and to hell with the consequences, they were going to fight back with the only weapon they had, he reverted to chanting a prayer in Maori.
The 'Maori warrior'
"Let 'em stew"
There was a slight bump, and a change in pitch of the rotors, next hands were reaching across them and unclipping harnesses, a pair of hands reached up and cut the plasticuffs that had been attached to the roof, their hands were numb, but that didn’t stop Hene from launching out at the nearest one, knocking him off his feet, he tried to run, but the boot laces were tied together and he sprawled on the earth, two kicks came in, one from either side.
“Try anything like that again” a voice spoke, it was a Kiwi one, “and I’ll gladly do you here and now!”
“And you won’t get what you want!” Hene shot back as another kick came in, he stopped struggling, but he’d shown there was plenty of ‘fight’ still left in him.
Two others were on top of him now, one of them grabbed his hands and wrenched them back, behind his back, plasticuffs were put back on and pulled tight, next they grabbed the cuffs and used them to lift him, nearly breaking his arms in the process.
Sam heard it all, she wasn’t scared, neither of them were, they were in that ‘zone’ when you know bad stuff is going to happen, you can’t stop it, but you’re gonna take as many of them down with you as you really can, no matter what happens, kind of the “We’re outnumbered two to one, we’re outgunned and totally surrounded, GOOD I’ve got them right where I want them!”
They were more careful taking Sam out, they grabbed hold of her hands before they cut the ‘cuffs’ off, and as soon as she was out of the aircraft they wrenched her to the same position as Hene As soon as they had that one each grabbed the plasticuffs and started dragging them off backwards.
The pace was fast and more than once one of them tripped, their captors didn’t slow down, they just dragged them along until they could find their feet, and then kept dragging them until finally a voice said, “In here!” they were thrown forward into a heap, then silence.
“Leave them there for a few hours” Fish told the others, “the sun and thirst should soften them up” he wasn't interested in their comfort so much as 'getting the job done’ and a bit of heat stroke followed by cold temperatures coupled with a healthy dose of fear worked wonders in that area. Their paymasters wanted to know what the police knew, and they wanted the information fast.
“Where the hell is he?” Mildred was getting desperate, the team were just about at the island and there was still no word on where Murray had disappeared to!
“Boss” it was Cody called out, “think I might have something” he shouted out, “Patching it through to you now”
“Don't bother” she sprinted over to his terminal, grabbed the spare headset, utter into his machine and looked at the screen. “Talk!”
He moved the mouse, he had and audio file open, “this just came in on the sat phone we're monitoring, it's not a number we've seen before, but it's definitely a burner, and voice recognition says ninety five percent sure it's Murray!”
“Finally some good news, where is he?”
“Still getting the final details, but it looks like he's about twenty nautical miles north of Tauranga, possibly heading northeast”
“Let me know when you've got all the information, especially the kind of boat he's on”
“I'm already checking out whether he's stolen the boat or what” Cody worked the keyboard, his fingers moving at almost blinding speed, “I should have you an answer in the next couple of minutes”
Mildred couldn't wait for the answer, she was pacing up and down the room, another voice came on the line. “Boss, I've got something you're not gonna like, we've got another, I think it’s a Gremlin inbound to the island”
A ‘Gremlin’ is an unidentified call sign, but where a “Bogey is one you’re really unsure of, a ‘Gremlin’ is one you’re pretty sure is a hostile, on the island, it was possible they were tourists, but highly unlikely, much more likely to be hostiles.
“What? Where from?” She shouted as she headed for the one who spoke, it was one of the girls.
“Just came up on radar, about fifty miles north of the island, Judging by speed and direction, they'll be there in less than an hour!”
“SHIT” she almost screamed, “where'd it bloody well come from?”
There was only one place it could have come from, a ship, or something like that, “mule ship?” She didn't wait for an answer, “where's the Wellington?”.
Here come the 'cavalry' (Okay, it's the bloody Navy, and going like two 'bats out of hell')
“Update!” Mildred demanded, almost shouting as she came round the banks of computers, it'd only been fifteen minutes since the last 'update’ but she'd had to go onto the secure line with London, and things change fast.
“Scorpion team are at the staging area” ponytail called out, “they're doing a 'recce’ as we speak.”
“We sent them all the latest?” It was a question more than a statement, everyone knew it didn't matter how much information they had, nothing was going to happen until the team were confident they had whatever they needed, and every one of the 'enemy’ were accounted for. The only time that might change was when either the team were confident of the situation, or the enemy started shooting hostages, then all bets were off!
“What about the rest?” She positioned herself so she could see the large screen that dominated the main wall. “What's the Wellington's situation?”
“She's made good headway” Mark replied, he'd been the one watching her.
“She's just a hundred and twenty miles from our mystery guest, and making a shade over twenty six knots” he sounded puzzled.
“What's the problem?” Mildred picked up on the puzzlement, if her team was worried, then she was!
“Oh probably nothing really” Mark began a reply, “just the books says the 'protector’ class is only capable of twenty two!”
Mildred actually smiled, “you should know not to believe everything in government papers, especially when it comes to 'specs’, but make sure you adjust everything to read what we want it to!”
Mark smiled back, slightly embarrassed, he should have known that was the case, you never tell your enemy exactly what your kit can do, only what you think they want to hear, and they usually want to hear their stuff is better! It's the spy’s job to find out if that's true!
“How long before they launch the RHIBs?”
“Skipper says just over an hour and a half,” it was Cody spoke this time, “and before you ask,” he went on, “it'll take them forty five minutes to reach the target.”
“Going like two bats of hell” Mildred muttered quietly, not quietly enough though.
“When the day is done, and the sun goes down, I’ll be going like a bat out of Hell. What we pay the big bucks for isn’t it Ma’am” Cody couldn't resist the quote and comment. She let it slide, they were all feeling the stress, a bit of humor never went amiss.
Navy 'RHIBS' (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) in action. Take note of the words at the beginning.
Or just enjoy the music.
"Finally, some good news?"
“What's the range on those things?” She asked curious, fifty or so miles from the target seemed a bit far, for such a small boat that is!
“One thing you'll realize boss” Cody cut in, “call those boats 'small’ to any of their crews, and they damn well skin you alive!” he was concentrating on his computer screen, but still half watching her. “I did once, I was in a Navy bar in Davenport, believe me, it was a bad move!”
“They may be only about twenty five feet long, but the aluminum hull fixed to the inflatable sides gives it a stability most bigger ships can't match, then throw in two three hundred horsepower outboards and you've got a boat that can 'go like the bloody clappers’ in a serious sea storm, clip on the fifty Cal's, and I'm beginning to feel sorry for the other poor sods on the other end!”
The 'RHIBs full name is Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat, they were first designed in the 1960s by the British Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) a volunteer lifeguard institute that has a kind of quasi government standing as an unofficial Coastguard. They’re built for rough seas, and long range, it’s when they come into their own.
The Irish Sea and the English Channel are some of the roughest stretches of water on earth, so when they decided to build a lifeboat that could actually get out to a shipwreck they had to be tough and fast. Someone at some point had the idea of getting an aluminium hull for strength, sticking two inflatable sides on it, to prevent water filling it in heavy seas and sticking a huge outboard motor on the back. The result, spectacular! A boat that can go anywhere, racing in at nearly sixty knots (seventy five miles an hour), do a three sixty degree turn in their own length (twenty five feet) and make her crew of very experienced seamen very ‘green at the gills’.
As soon as they saw it, the British and US Navies said “We want them!” and pretty soon every navy in the world had them,
The Wellington had two, both twenty five foot long, with gun mounts and two three hundred horsepower outboard motors that powered them along at nearly sixty knots (officially fifty five knots) and were perfect for the rough seas they were in, not only that but they had the agility of a ballerina on steroids and pack a punch.
“I take it you’ve seen them in action then?”
“Hey, after an insult like I gave them” Cody replied, “Punishment was going out on harbour patrol the next day, man I was as sick as a dog after the fifth pirouette! And scared shitless when we left the water for the tenth time as we were going full bore in fifteen foot waves! Hell, even the bloody ferry wasn’t running that day, but the bloody Navy insisted it was ‘perfect for training’” he waved the index and second finger of each hand in a gesture that said he was quoting ‘verbatim’.
“So getting the Navy to the scene isn’t going to be a problem then!” It was a statement. “All we can do is wait until the team are ready”
"Thanks for the vote of confidence boss?"
“Listen up folks” Jacko spoke into the headsets, they were in the Staging point, Joey, Mac and Sandy were in a defensive position watching the side approaches while Smithy and Jacko had been watching the front. “Looks like they’ve got two camps here” He carried on, “One to the South, that’s where the hostages look to be, they’ve got two guarding them directly and three more patrolling where the huts are”
“They’re in the huts Sandy cut in, “That's where the GPS trackers put them.” We’ve got ten huts altogether, probably with booby traps in”
“That’s why you and Joey get the good jobs” Jacko replied, “Smithy. You’ll make sure they get a ‘clean approach’ the come and assist us right?”
“I take it we’ve got the fun bit then boss” Mac chirped in, “Joey gets to rescue the hostages and play the hero, while we do the real work and take out the rest of the cutthroats and pirates here!” they all gave a little chuckle as Mac wasn’t so far from the truth.
“Yeah” Jacko sighed as he came round to that point, “Shit, no one expected they’d have a bleedin’ warehouse here!”
The ‘other camp’ was on the Western side of the Island, only about four hundred yards away, but totally different to the Southern side.
The original settlement had been on the Western side, back in the nineteenth century, but an eruption took the whole lot out, and no one was ever found from the eruption, however, when the companies came back, they kept the mine on the western side and built fresh huts on the southern side, the result was that the miners lived in the south, but every morning they’d take a boat over to work the mine in the west, eventually someone put a small path in, but it was perfect for storing the contraband as tourists came to the huts.
The mine was ‘off limits’ and supposedly sealed, but no one questioned tour operators going out there, and while the tourists were looking around, someone was picking up the ‘other supplies delivered by ship, then they flew back to the mainland none the wiser for sitting on a couple of hundred grand worth of cocaine or heroin!
“So far we’ve counted fifteen” Smithy cut in, “But there could be more, and they’re well armed, looks like they’ve got Uzis and the like, I even saw a couple of AKs”
“What’s the intel on these people?” Joey asked, Sandy hadn’t said anything, but maybe Jacko had been briefed.
“Nada” Jacko replied, “All we know is they’ve got three Asians in jail in Auckland and a bunch of bikers in jail somewhere else, no idea who these might be, but best guess is Triads, and that means anything from street thugs to SF guys on the payroll!”
“You really know how to make a guy’s day don’t you boss?” Joey joked back, they were all tense, black humour works wonders in situations like this for relieving the tension.
“A man of your skills Joey?” Jacko was almost laughing, “only three guards, and two more in the 'zone’, should be a breeze!”
And that's all for now folks.
Things are certainly 'ratcheting up' there aren't they, by the way, the words at the beginning of the video, can you tell me whom they're attributed to? I think you'd be really surprised, I know I was. But they are true, and this is just a story to give you a feel of what it's really like for those men and women.
Enjoyed the story, leave a comment.
Bye for now