Scorpion's Reach 'Rescue?'
From the Author
George Orwell is reputed to have been one of the best writers of the twentieth century, and he certainly didn't like the way some of that century went. All the CCTV cameras we use today to track everyone's movements, he certainly had things to say about it, but one saying of his that isn't well known is this.
People can sleep safely in their beds at night because there are men and women prepared to do extreme violence to protect that safety.— George Orwell (attributed to)
This hub and all those in this series is dedicated to those men and women who put their lives 'on the line' so that I can sit and write about it so that we can enjoy the freedom and safety they've bought for us.
“A man of your skills Joey?” Jacko was almost laughing, “only three guards, and two more in the 'zone’, should be a breeze!”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence boss” Joey half joked back. SAS trained for this sort of stuff, but in a normal 'breach’ there'd be a whole team going through the door, in this one, there'd be just him and Sandy, and they weren't totally sure what was on the other side.
“Joey” it was Smithy spoke next, “those goons on the outside are doing an unpredictable pattern, looks like they know what they're doing that way, and they seem on edge if you know what I mean, like they're expecting someone?” The last part was part question, like there was something they might not have been told.
“Maybe I can explain that,” Sandy chipped in, she'd been quiet up until now, “about a half hour ago they picked up another helicopter inbound, so Mildred got London to start the Bank jobs, the chopper turned back and headed out to Sea, we think they've got a boat out there”
“Anyone looking for it?” Jacko asked.
“HMNZS Wellington, she’s returning from the Kermadec islands, she's bearing down on the area with a couple of RHIBs, we don't think it's a trawler, maybe a container ship, big enough for a helicopter to land on”.
“Who's giving the signal to kick off here boss?” Joey brought the discussion back to the 'here and now’ with a practical question.
“You will, when you take down the two bozos in with the hostages” Jacko replied, we move out as soon as we're done here, but give us an hour and a half for setup!”
“Okay, probably take us at least that to get past the three stooges, should be a good timeframe boss!”
“Then let's get started”
Smithy was the first to move out, everyone else stayed where they were until he called in. “Three, in position, looks clear.”
Next went Jacko and Mac, they had the furthest to go, and the longest to wait at the other end. Joey and Sandy had orders to give them fifteen minutes, then begin their approach, from that point on, in theory at least, everything should 'just flow’, it never does, but it should.
The first part was pretty easy, they were moving across solid rock, moving silently across the rock wasn't hard, it isn't if you know what you're doing, and experience had taught them well.
Joey led the way, walking at first in a semi-crouch, something soldiers call a 'monkey run’ for its similarity to the way Gorillas and Chimpanzees run using their knuckles on their hands as well as the feet.
They'd strapped the rifles over their backs, muzzles facing down. Using this method they were able to move faster than a normal walk, but slower than a run, more importantly, they kept low, blending in with the rocks around them. Joey was using his arms as they went to feel for any nasty surprises like trip wires, he didn't expect any, but that didn't stop him checking.
Trip wires can come in all ways, from the elaborate wire with explosives attached to the simple piece of number eight wire with a coke can filled with pebbles, an effective 'early warning device’.
They were wearing night vision visors which take the available starlight, by magnifying it a hundredfold you get enough to see most objects, they appear in a green haze, good for aiming and taking a shot, but not enough for the little things, it's always the little things that trip you up.
The first hundred yards they covered in about five minutes, stopping every ten to twenty paces to wait and listen.
“Ouch” Sandy whispered, “caught my bloody knuckles”
“You alright?” Joey stopped and turned around concerned.
“Yeah” Sandy sounded sheepish, “just clunked my bloody knuckles on a rock, that's all”
“Careful” Joey mockingly advised, “rocks are harder than knuckles” he chuckled.
“Watch it buster” Sandy retorted, “I've got a nine millimetre, and right now I’m happy to use it!” she joked back.
“And knuckles too sore to use it!” Joey joked, “seriously though, be careful, last thing we need is one of us getting incapacitated!”
They stopped, turned their night vision visors off, lifted them and checked her hand while their eyes came back to normal, it took fifteen minutes, the glove had taken the brunt of the scrape.
There was a good reason for deactivating the night vision, they’re great for getting you where you want to go without being seen, but as soon as a firefight starts they aren’t just useless, they’re downright dangerous.
Night vision gear takes the minutest amount of light and magnifies it at least a hundredfold. Do that to just a match as it’s struck and the guy wearing the night vision gear will be blinded momentarily! It’ll literally take about fifteen minutes for the sight to come back. Now put that in the middle of a firefight with muzzle flashes and explosions going off and you’ve got a recipe for disaster, and total blindness with people running everywhere, blind as bats and straight into the line of fire, that’s why the night vision gear comes off before the fight starts.
It takes about fifteen to twenty minutes for the Mark 1 Human eyeball to adjust to low light, when it does, it’s not as great as the night vision gear, but good enough to aim a weapon in a firefight and make sure you take the target out, Joey and Sandy had a trick or two up their sleeves, an old WW2 trick a mentor of Joey’s once taught him, he went to work.
The 'real deal'
'An old trick'
Taking a piece of chalk out of his pack Joey reached over and touched the muzzle of Sandy’s weapon with it, literally just by the front sight, he lightly coated the front sight in chalk.
“What the?” Sandy began.
“Take a look down the sight” Joey urged her, “an old trick from a Commando I once knew.”
Sandy did, she looked down the barrel, it was faint, but there was no mistaking she could see the sight! “Well, I’ll be”
“No you won’t” Joey shot back, “This’ll keep us alive, not send us there!” He did the same to his own weapon, only when he was satisfied did he put the chalk away and call Smithy.
“Three, this is four” Joey clicked the radio on. “ We’re in position, can see one bogey, where are the other two?”
“Three here,” Smithy came on, “ones in the southern building, the others patrolling the other side, you're good to go”
“Roger that” Joey clicked off, He left his weapon with Sandy and drew out his commando knife. Moving stealthly he left Sandy’s position and worked his way round behind the sentry, it took about two minutes.
Sandy took her MP5 back and took up the ready position, she had a ‘bead’ on the sentry who was coming their way, just in case things turned to custard.
“RHIB crews are ready boss” the NCO in charge, a 'leading hand’ with the insignia indicating 'combat specialist’. He looked only slightly older than a teenager but he was in charge, and giving the orders, turning to the rest of his crew he switched channels on his radio and spoke to every man and woman in each boat, “final harness check folks, make sure you're secured to the deck of your boat!”
Each one was wearing a lifejacket, that was mandatory, each was also a good swimmer, but that isn't going to save you when you're tossed out of the boat like a piece of flotsam! Preventing that were two rugged canvas ties attached to the deck by sturdy metal clips, and at the other end two 'quick release’ clips with adjustable pins. The idea was safety, not comfort, and everyone swore by them, the last thing you want is to be plucking some idiot out of the water while some lunatic Somali pirates are taking pot shots at you!
Four half inch steel cables held the boats to two winch arms each, two cables per arm, the outers attached to one side and 'inners’ to the other.
“Lifting” they heard the operator's voice in their headsets, “clear, extending” was the next.
As soon as they were clear the side the operator began their descent. “Set your engine to one third speed, he gave the command to the other helmsman.”
Each boat had a crew of six, the 'helmsman’ had the wheel, she was the most experienced, then the gunner on the fifty cal. The 'boss’ was part of the boarding party along with three others, usually one of which is the medic and another the linguist. They worked in silence, only speaking when spoken to, each one thinking through what they were about to attempt.
No one on the boats thought it strange that they had an officer on the landing party, but they weren’t the ones in charge on the boats, yes they ran the ‘operation’ but they didn’t know the ‘kit’ like the men and women operating it did, it was the person who knew the boats best who was in charge.
Launching a boat is enough of a challenge, it's got its dangers under the most ideal conditions, that was, broad daylight, light wind, perfect weather and good visibility with the ship stationary. They had none of the above!
There was moonlight, but also rough seas, visibility wasn't great, and their ship was motoring along at eighteen knots. The captain had ordered the slowdown even though it meant they'd take that much longer to get there.
“You don't even get this kind of crap facing pirates” he heard the helm mutter, she'd done two tours with the Te KAHA in 'pirate alley’ as the horn of Africa, off the Somali coast was known.
“Keep your eye on the gauges” he shot back, looking round he saw they were in the water, clicking the radio onto the ship frequency he called, “boat in the water, release the cables?”
“Go for release” the winch operator replied.
He signalled the men nearest the cables, as soon as he got the 'thumbs up’ from all four he called back, “cables released, boat is free”
“Roger, and good hunting”
Turning to the helm, he gave the order, “peel off, full throttle, as soon as we clear the ship set course two three zero.”
“Peeling off,” helm replied, they felt the surge as the twin three hundred horsepower outboards roared to life, the force pushing them back on their feet, everyone was strapped in, but that didn't stop them grabbing hold and hanging on 'for dear life’, less than fifteen seconds elapsed before the helm shouted above the deafening noise, “course two three zero laid in skipper”
A quick glance round confirmed the other boat wasn't far behind. Flicking to the bridge frequency he gave the call, “Commencing the hunt.”
As soon as Joey’d given his rifle to Sandy he slowly and silently drew his dagger out, Sandy actually did a bit of a double take, ‘How the hell?’ she thought. ‘Maybe Jacko and Mac?’ Joey wasn’t going to be telling, right now it was better than using a silencer.
The sentry was about fifteen feet away, he couldn’t see them, they were in a ditch, Sandy was watching every move, even the slightest hint he saw them and she’d open fire, he didn’t. He stopped, looking around he reached down into the jacket pocket, took out a pack of cigarettes, took one out, returned the pack to his pocket, reaching for his lighter he started sauntering off as he took the lighter out and lit the cigarette, it reminded her of a condemned man before a firing squad (like in the TV adverts she used to watch as a kid) taking his last cigarette, savouring one of earth’s last pleasures before going to meet his maker, and that’s exactly what was happening.
As soon as he started to saunter off, Joey rose to a crouch, he waited a few seconds to make sure he wasn’t heard, then slowly began the advance.
Sandy kept the rifle trained on the sentry the whole time, she was literally covering Joey if anything went wrong, if it did then they’d only get one chance before all hell broke loose.
The sentry kept on his saunter, Joey’s moves were fluid, almost graceful, (if death can be delivered with ‘grace’ that is) and quick, neither the sentry or Sandy heard anything, one second he was enjoying the cigarette, the next there was a hand over his mouth and something sharp going into the back of his neck, at the base of the skull, the next second all feeling below that point ceased.
He tried to reach up and beat whoever it was doing this, but his arms refused to move, he tried screaming in his mother tongue, but the voice box refused to co-operate, the bowels relaxed, as well as the intestines, he could smell the foul smell of faeces and urine, but couldn’t feel a thing, it’s a horrible feeling knowing you’ve crapped your pants yet can’t feel anything! He didn’t even feel the legs buckle under himself, only that he was prone on the floor and unable to move, that’s when he realized that the lungs weren’t functional, he was dying and there was nothing he could do about it.
Joey withdrew the dagger as he dragged the guard to the nearest hut, out of view of any others that might pass. Then, pressing the com he spoke softly “Clear”
"Showtime in five"
As soon as she heard the words she was on her feet, ready to sprint for Joey's position.
“Stealth, not speed!” Joey's whisper was almost a hiss, it also felt a bit like a rebuke, or maybe she was feeling dumb for not thinking of it herself. “Too much haste will get us killed” Joey went on, “noise is the critical thing, as in none at all”
Sandy didn't reply, it felt like a rebuke, but she knew Joey, and she knew that was the last thing he was thinking of, she took the magazine off his rifle, cocked it and passed it to him, showing him the empty chamber, even then, in the middle of a combat situation safety was paramount, as soon as he saw it, he took the rifle, replaced the mag, cocked the weapon, checked the safety was where he wanted it, clipped the mag back on and slung the rifle over his head and shoulder.
“Look at this!” Joey whispered as he removed the 'vest’ from the now dead sentry, “police issue by the looks, but not New Zealand police!”
“Let me have a look” Sandy held out her hand, Joey passed the jacket over, “you're right.” She said, “look here” she pointed to the Kevlar plate, “it's the wrong size for here, looks more like those the cops in the US use!”
There are different types of 'bulletproof vest’ on the market, from the basic one that'll protect you from a knife and some small arms, right through to the serious ones that'll stop just about anything (but still give you seriously cracked ribs)
A US police issue 'vest’ is in the middle, and pretty much means 'shoot for the torso’ (as most cops are trained for) is a waste of time as all but the most high powered rifles will just 'bounce off’ and they'll be up returning fire before you're aware of it.
“Scorpion team, this is four” Joey clicked his radio on, they were supposed to be on radio silence, but this was important, “be aware, bandits are wearing US police issue vests,”
“Roger that” Jacko replied for the rest of the team, “we're in position”
“Roger that” Sandy cut in, “Showtime in five”
And that's all for now
Sorry folks, but that's it for this week, I got so excited that I just kept going and we're up to a few thousand words, so it's time for me to stop.
By the way, the next story in the series is coming along nicely and will probably be ready for publication around Christmas, but that's something else.
On a sad note< I just want to say that this week has been a sad one on the world stage with terrible things happening in the Middle East, this hub is dedicated to those men and women who risk their lives making sure that atrocities, like we heard about this week, don't go unpunished.
I'm not asking for your opinion on that, just as General Patton once said, "Be thankful that such men and women lived"
Have a thought, leave a comment