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Rumble in the Jungle
07-10-2012, 04:13 PM
Join Date: Jun 2012
Rumble in the Jungle
The light of many screens provided the main illumination in the small room, yet the figure addressing them was still mostly in the shadows.
“Then we are all agreed. Greed and ambition blind those who lead. What power can shake the G8? What corporation can bypass the Fortune 500? What enterprise can give pause to the mafias, syndicates and gangs of the world? We shall, and in chaos, opportunity.”
With a wave of his hand the screens went blank. The figure left the room, walking down the narrow passage way along steel grate floors, down a ladder, and entered his small chamber.
“And they’ll do it with their own money,” he said to himself, chuckling.
17 1000R Jan 20XX
The room was bare except for six chairs, in which sat men of military bearing but wearing civilian clothes. They addressed two men standing in the entrance, wearing the uniforms of a colonel and a master sergeant.
“Good morning gentlemen. I’ll cut to the point. How familiar are with the Democratic Republic of Congo?”
“Not very,” replied the Colonel.
“Well, you will be. The two of will be heading up a task force investigating some troubling activities in the interior. There seems to be some non-state-controlled arms manufacturing and distribution going on that we weren’t aware of, which is counter to our interests. You have a recon and intel gathering mission. Depending on what you find, you may be cleared to eliminate specific targets.
The Colonel nodded. “Who do I liaise with? AfriCom? SOCOM? The ambassador?
The men in civilian clothes glanced quickly at each other. “None of the above; you report directly to us. There’s an intel liaison in location, along with a civilian freighter to provide logistic support. You’ll have a cover as an industrial group. Keep a low profile. Your liaison has made contact with a local arms dealer we’ve used in the past. You’ll get a budget to buy mission essential equipment. Keep track of what you spend. Colonel, here is your mission tasking packet. There’s a contact number in there. Call in 24 hours for any questions, and 48 hours after that call again to provide a mission brief. Sgt Wilkinson, you can collect the personnel files at the door. Transport is arranged for you to get to Fort Jackson, where you will meet your command.”
The two men left the room, collecting a thick packet as they went. They passed through a maze of hallways, clearing various security checks along the way. The Colonel turned to Sgt Wilkinson.
“We’ve never met. Colonel Abernathy.”
“Master Sergeant Wilkinson, though most people call me Stalker. Tell me Colonel, do you have much SOF experience?”
“No. I’ve done work with a variety of light divisions in a variety of theatres, and have had some interactions with SOF, but never in direct command.”
Stalker grunted. Having opened the packet, he flipped quickly through the enclosed files. “I’ve done some unconventional things, but this is an . . . unusual task. Looking through these files, it looks like we’re an ad hoc group, pulled from every service. A good leavening of operators, but a bunch of line types too. And every service is represented so we’re going to a mix of SOPs. We’ll need to run a short, sharp training session to get everyone up to speed.”
“What about jungle experience?”
Stalker flipped back through a couple of the files. “Not much. We’ve got a couple of guys from the training centre. They’re my first choice for setting the standards.”
Colonel Abernathy was running through mental checklists. “Any legal or financial people?”
Stalker paused, running through his own checklists. “No, it doesn’t look like it. But I think I know a couple of boys who might be able to help. Plus, there’s someone I worked with years ago who I’d like to add to the list. He’s probably with ACE in JSOC right now.”
Colonel Abernathy smiled. “What are the troops doing now?”
“Looks like they’ve been left to their own devices.”
Hawk sighed. “Start drafting a training plan based on contact drills, leadership training, navigation, shooting and regional awareness. Finish with a jungle ex. Everyone has lots of low intensity conflict experience, but some of these African countries have surprising amounts of artillery. I want the troops to get a battle inoculation with rockets. I’ll arrange that. Hit up your contacts for legal and accounting. I happen to know your colleague’s commanding officer. I’ll see if I can free him up for this task.”
An MP guided the two towards a waiting car. “Sir, this car will take you to your aircraft.”
Stalker and Colonel Abernathy looked at each other, then got in.
07-10-2012, 10:51 PM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Auburn, ME
Interesting. Very well written. Can't wait to see more.
07-11-2012, 01:58 PM
Join Date: Jun 2012
18 1100R Jan 20XX
Stalker held a phone to his ear and jotted notes while waiting for an answer on the other end. Finally, a voice replaced the sound of ringing.
“Pine? It’s Wilkinson.”
“Wilks? Stalker? Man, I haven’t heard your voice in what, two years?”
Stalker did the math in his head. “Yeah, about that. What are you up to these days?”
“I’ve been climbing Piz Badile. I thought I’d try out some classic climbs with classic gear - wool, Tricouni nails, an old Primus No 5 stove.”
Stalker laughed. “That’s why we called you Alpine. How are you funding those expeditions?”
“I’ve been doing the books for a publishing company.”
“How would you like do a little more work for Uncle Sam? It’s more on the financial side than the trigger side, but it has to be more interesting that that publisher!”
There was a long pause.
“Sounds tempting. I’d have to give my boss appropriate notice, but tell me more.”
Stalker smiled and checked off a box on his sheet.
Colonel Abernathy pulled into the Spring Lake IHOP parking lot, parking beside a convertible Mustang. A powerfully built man in a jeans and leather jacket leaned against the hood, but straightened up, smiled broadly, and grasped Abernathy’s hand in a firm handshake.
“Great to see you again Clay. SAMS seems like a lifetime ago.”
Colonel Abernathy matched the squeeze, and clapped his friend on the shoulder. “It certainly does seem like a long time.”
The large man frowned slightly, then pulled an envelope from his jacket. “Here are his details. A year ago I’d have told you to pound salt, but . . . well, he had a string of bad luck. Several consecutive missions went sideways, and then he was the sole survivor of a helicopter crash. He just kept rolling snake eyes. Anyway, he spent six months in a Singapore hospital having half his skeleton replaced with rattan bones. I doubt he’ll ever talk again. Anyone else would be headed towards a medical discharge, but this guy . . . He should still be in hospital, but he walked out a few weeks ago. Just before you called I received another call – from the cops. He’s in Florida. He walked into a biker bar on the edge Port St Lucie and took it apart. Put a dozen guys in hospital, and then calmly let the cops cuff him and put him away. I’d punt him from the unit for that, but if you want him, I can transfer him instead.”
Colonel Abernathy nodded. “Do that. Thanks.” He got back in his truck, and leaned out the window. “Enjoy your pancakes!”
Stalker was frustrated that his day had been spent on the phone instead of training with the team. SSgt Sneedon had led a brutal PT session to start the day, and PO2 Forrest was currently running everyone through instinctive shooting drills. Lieutenants Pulaski and Falcon and Sgt O’Hara were scheduled to give country briefs that evening. The phone finally rang, and Stalker eagerly lifted it to his ear.
“Sergeant Talltree speaking, Sir.”
“Sergeant Talltree, this is Master Sergeant Wilkinson. I’ve been speaking with your sergeant major. He tells me good things about you. He’s probably been vague on why I wanted your time.”
“He was, Master Sergeant.”
“Well, I want you for your unique combination of soldier skills and legal skills.”
Sergeant Talltree cursed. “No thanks Master Sergeant. I didn’t join the Army to write legal briefs.”
Stalker laughed. “And I don’t want you to write legal briefs. But I do want someone who can occasionally translate legal jargon into something soldiers can understand, and who can provide advice to the commander.”
Sergeant Talltree was silent for a moment. “Why don’t you get a JAG, Master Sergeant?”
“Because I want someone who can handle himself in a fight. And I assure you, you’ll get a chance for a fight on this op. What do you say?”
There was a long silence, and Stalker thought perhaps the connection had been lost. He held the phone closer to his ear just in time to hear Sgt Talltree yell “AIRBORNE!”
Stalker grinned and checked off another box on his sheet. He glanced at his watch. There was still time to get to the range.
Colonel Abernathy approached the airport, and made one more phone call.
“Zullo, it’s Colonel Abernathy. I’ll be gone overnight. Let Stalker know I’m bringing in his friend, but it may not be all good news. We’ll see. How’s the training going?”
The stocky major delivered a brief report on the day’s activities, and those scheduled for the next day.
“Shorten the ranges by an hour and insert a navigation refresher. It will pay off in the Black Hills, which will pay off in the trees. Now, I’m sending you some notes on the mission for planning purposes. I want to see your courses of action when I return to compare them with my own thoughts. Finally, I have some special projects for the officers. Have Pulaski research armour battles in sub-Saharan Africa. Focus on the south and west, but also look into Egypt-Eritrea. Have Falcon research Wendell Fertig, to include a biographical sketch, his techniques for raising indigenous forces, and his jungle tactics. Get Leilaloha to provide an update on activities out of Manda Bay and Lemonnier, and their potential relevance to this mission.”
“Will do Sir.”
Colonel Abernathy hung up, emailed a document, then walked to the ticket desk to buy a ticket to Florida, and two tickets for the return.
Major Zullo turned to Stalker, who was running an rag over his pistol, to pass the message.
“The Colonel’s watching us like a hawk, isn’t he?”
Stalker reassembled his pistol. “Yup. I’ll tell Selkirk to get ready for tomorrow.”
19 0930R Jan 20XX
Colonel Abernathy thanked the police officer, then walked down the row of cells, stopping in front of one. Three men lay sleeping on hard metal cots. A fourth was doing chin-ups from a pipe. Abernathy watched him silently, counting off twenty before the man dropped and made his way to the bars. His chest barely moved in spite of the exertion.
Abernathy looked over the fit form, noting multiple scars disappearing into his shirt, and the badly damaged face.
“Did you get your voice back?”
The man shook his head.
“I’m Colonel Abernathy. I’m working with Master Sergeant Wilkinson, who I believe you know.”
The man nodded.
“Your CO has transferred you to my command. Now, you’ve got a choice. You can continue to bust up bikers, but as a civilian, or you can fight for Uncle Sam with me. Which is it?”
The two stared at each other for long moments, and then the scarred man held up two fingers and pointed at Abernathy.
“Good call. Let’s get going.”
Last edited by LowTech; 07-12-2012 at 10:25 AM..
07-12-2012, 10:24 AM
Join Date: Jun 2012
10 2100R Feb 20XX
After weeks of navigating the Black Hills, long and short range shooting, patrolling through the Everglades under the harsh attention of Recondo and Gung Ho, medical refreshers, intelligence analysis sessions and country studies, the team was coming together. Competition and rivalry between the services and individuals evolved into competition between sections, and common drills began to gel. Nicknames had become the norm.
Hawk sat at the head of the table with Stalker, Claymore, Steeler, Torpedo, Falcon, Psych Out, Doc and Scarlett down the sides.
“So to summarise, the advance group will fly into Kinshasa to meet our contacts. The cover is that we’re the advance security detachment for Transat Minerals. We occupy a false-front office and accommodation complex, and conduct surveillance and reconnaissance within the city. The main body, under Claymore, flies into Brazzaville three days later and links up with the freighter, the Jane. That group will be prepared to conduct recon in the more remote regions, noting that freighter movement is restricted to the leg of the river between the rapids. Claymore and Beach Head will fly on to Pointe Noire to meet an off-shore arms ship. You’ll buy our arms and collect additional intel on inland DRC arms activities. They’ll be flown by DC3 to an airstrip east of Kinshasa for loading on our own freighter. The pilot’s details are here.” He passed a file to Claymore. “Any final questions?”
Everyone shook their heads.
“Good luck, and I’ll see you in a few days.”
11 0300 Feb 20XX
Stalker turned around and looked down the aisle of the airplane. Scarlett, Steeler, Clutch, Breaker, Mainframe, Alpine, Airborne, Tollbooth, Wet Suit, Dusty and Recondo – it wasn’t a large team, but would be sufficient for the initial activities.
12 1815A Feb 20XX
Even in the evening the heat and humidity struck like a hammer. The airport’s air conditioning was either off or not working, and the press of humanity made finding the luggage carousel a challenge. The group pushed forward, and Tollbooth caught sight of a shirt louder than all the rest. The long haired blond man was holding a sign reading “TRANSAT MINERALS.”
“You’ve gotta kidding me,” Tollbooth muttered, then tapped Stalker on the shoulder and pointed. The group adjusted course towards the blond man, who offered a thumbs-up, and started jabbering away.
“I knew you were the guys I was waiting for. Hot here, isn’t it? Listen, the bags are over here. I got a couple of kids who will load them up for you. We got two vans. You’re gonna love this place. The food, oh man, wait ‘till you try the food! And the music!” He clipped Hawk on the shoulder. “You guys’ll be shaking your backsides when you see the nightlife here. C’mon!” He paused his stride for a moment. “Oh, hey,” he patted his chest, “Phil Provost, but just call me Chuckles.”
Clutch took the toothpick from his mouth and seemed about to say something when Steeler grabbed him by the arm to guide him towards the baggage. “Not now Lance.”
Within a few minutes bags were rounded up and a small army of children ran them to two vans. Chuckles handed out small notes and candies, while the team loaded up the vans. A muscular man in a short-sleeved tan shirt and sunglasses sat behind the wheel of the second van.
“He’s the straight guy,” Chuckles said, pointing to him. Dusty and Steeler both reached out and grabbed Clutch, while Scarlett stepped behind the van to hide her laughter. “That’s Conrad Hauser, but you can call him Duke.” He turned and leaned towards Stalker. “It’s short for Doogie.”
Duke shook his head in exasperation, and the rest of the team climbed in the vans, not quite sure what to make of their reception. The two vans navigated the chaotic Kinshasa streets, eventually pulling up to a compound on the edge of the city. Having dropped off their bags, they assembled in the main room. Duke and Chuckles had a series of maps and photos on the wall. Chuckles picked up a pointer and began the brief.
“I’ll start with the regional map. Congo is experiencing tribal and ethnic conflicts in these regions” he pointed to various regions on the map. The weapons production of interest is around the great lakes. Of interest here in Kinshasa is Ares Manufacturing, which has spent the past couple of years developing the industrial base to domestically manufacture a range of light jeeps, trucks, tractors and bulldozers. They know a lot about the conflicts, because their parts and assembly plants are located in the vicinity of some of the fighting. They have a warehouse and distribution point down between the docks and the rail line. It’s permanently guarded and appears to have a sophisticated surveillance and alarm system. Ares has effectively taken over the Sanaga Hotel where they house all their guards. They’re a tight-knit group and a tough bunch to target for humint.”
“Is Ares involved in the conflicts?” asked Hawk.
Duke stepped forward. “We don’t know. As Chuckles said, they have their own security here in Kinshasa, which is armed and on good terms with the local police and military. Presumably they have security at each of their plants and with their shipments. Everyone does, though. But Ares’ arrival roughly coincides with escalation of violence in certain regions. We don’t know if that’s causation or correlation, but it makes them our initial point of interest.”
“What about the government?” asked Hawk.
“Well,” said Chuckles, “the Ministry of the Interior should be monitoring this one, but to date there have been no attempts to investigate. That suggests either ignorance, which is possible but unlikely, or compliance. That in turn suggests either an official policy or bribery. We’re working on monitoring phone and banking traffic of key ministers and civil servants, but there’s a lot to cover and only the two of us.”
Alpine stuck his hand up. “Ares must bank locally and pay taxes. Where do they bank, and have you pulled any records from ministry of finance?”
“They bank with the Kinshasa Bank of Commerce, KBC. We haven’t gone into tax records, but they have been on the receiving end of some very generous incentives to develop their factories. And they have good relations with a number of key government, military and police leaders.”
Alpine jotted notes and turned to Mainframe. “It’ll be worthwhile doing some background checks on those persons of influence.”
“We’ve set up a meeting,” Chuckles continued, looking at Hawk, “between you and the Ares sales representative. Buying local sounds good and gives us an ‘in’ with the company. It also sparked some interesting telephone traffic between Ares, various government departments, an inland location, and an Eastern European location. It was mostly encrypted, but we’re working on refining intel from those hits. They also put in some confirmatory calls with the Transat ‘head office.’”
“I wonder what kind of reaction we’d get if we asked Ares to sell us weapons,” Hawk mused.
“An interesting one, no doubt,” noted Duke. “As representatives of a ‘mining company’ you’ll be expected to meet with a couple of ministries here in Kinshasa before heading inland. We’ve already laid the groundwork for the right stamps so you can carry side arms and shotguns. Crew served weapons will raise eyebrows. In the interim, we have a small armory here. Six pistols, two SMGs, two rifles, plus some NODs and radios. You’ll also need comms. For your official comms you will require a stamp from the Ministry of Post & Telecommunications to clear the frequencies. Ares sells radios with their vehicles and can hook you up with that too.”
Hawk turned to the group. “Take tomorrow to get familiar with the city. Then we’ll refine the search. Scarlett and Alpine: investigate the bank. Breaker and Mainframe: review the sigint. Airborne: review government dealings with Ares and the local security companies. Clutch and Steeler: investigate alternate vehicle providers. Wet Suit, Stalker and Duke: start coming up with plans for infiltrating KBC and the relevant government ministries. Recondo and Dusty: go over the local intel on the conflict areas of interest. Tollbooth and I will meet the Ares rep.”
Chuckles motioned. “One last thing. At some point this is going to move inland, and no doubt there will be a dust up. There’s a friendly merc helicopter crew that does some lift and fire support in the area with a Hind. Couple of American pilots and one massive door gunner. When we get to that stage we should bring them onside.”
Hawk nodded. “Ok. Let’s go to ground.”
07-13-2012, 10:27 AM
Join Date: Jun 2012
13 1500A Feb 20XX
The Ares office occupied the third floor of a downtown six-storey building. The floor was divided into ‘Light,’ ‘Transport,’ and ‘Construction’ wings. Office workers manned telephones behind laminate desks and the walls were decorated with photographs of Ares manufacturing processes and finished vehicles on the roads or worksites. A receptionist invited Hawk and Tollbooth to have a seat, and offered them glossy Ares promotional literature and coffee while waiting for their appointment. After a few minutes a dark-haired man with a scar running up his cheek to his eye, wearing a lightweight grey suit strode up to them, hand extended.
“Heinrich Eisen,” he offered, taking their hands in a powerful grasp. “Please come to my office. I hear you wish to do business.”
His office contained simple furniture, with a phone on his desk and no sign of a computer.
Hawk opened. “That’s right. Transat Mining has a potential interest in several regions in the Congo. I’m in charge of the advance group, which is a mix of security, geological exploration and logistics. We need vehicles, and one of Transat’s corporate social responsibility planks is to lease local. Since you offer the opportunity to lease vehicles actually manufactured here we decided to start with you.”
Eisen smiled broadly. “I’m delighted to hear it. So, what are you looking for?”
“Well,” Hawk continued, “the initial order will be small. We’re looking for the equivalent of six Land Rovers, two Unimogs, two motorcycles, two ATVs, a bulldozer along the lines of a D7, with trailer, and an armoured car. We’ll also need some spares for local repairs, particularly tires. Tools, such as sand ladders, bridging ladders, high lift jacks, ground anchors, extra shovels. And we’ll need radios. I understand you can help navigate us through the relevant ministries for that.”
Eisen noted these points and nodded. “We can help with all of those. Unfortunately not all will be locally manufactured, as our full range of plants aren’t running yet, but you will be happy, no doubt, with our products. I recommend against a flat bed for the bulldozer. The roads here are almost non-existent and you’ll spend your whole time getting unstuck. Frankly, you would be better off with a wheeled front end loader until you settle on a specific location for exploiting. The armor will be decommissioned surplus. I can negotiate that through the government on your behalf. Communications will not be a difficulty.”
Hawk leaned forward. “We have one more concern. Given where we’ll be working, we would like some weapons. We’ve acquired licences for some side arms, but something with more punch would be good deterrent.”
Eisen stiffened. “I deal in utility and construction vehicles, not weapons. I have connections in the government to ease the acquisition of permits and licences, but not in violation of national laws.” He paused, breathed deeply, leaned back in his chair and put the tips of his fingers together. “I do offer an alternative suggestion. Why not hire a local security company? Or even Ares? We have managed security for our plants and could expand to cover your business too. We have very good relations with the government. As relative newcomers, you may find there are difficulties you are not yet aware of. You have done well acquiring the right stamps and permits to date, and we can of course help with permits for communications, but sometimes . . .” He let the phrase hang.
Hawk nodded. “My company considered that option, but concluded it was preferable to keep this internal. I believe it had something to do with insurance.”
“I see. Well, I can offer the following vehicles.” He pulled out a series of documents. “Here is a list of our prices, including options packages. I can also provide a contract outlining our warranty policies and pricing for future purchases based on volume. I can have the vehicles ready for you within the week. The armor may take a little longer. Now, I can offer a few other services too. First, you will encounter many small rivers. We can lease TMM bridges. You will also need a camp. We can arrange modular containers for living, ablution and work spaces, and we can provide airlift through a variety of fixed and rotor wing aircraft, including Mil Mi10 for heavy lift. Perhaps when you are ready we could airlift in your bulldozer.”
Hawk smiled. “Your services extend beyond what I had initially understood. As your products are unknown to us, we would like to test drive them first. When can we arrange that?”
“Tomorrow afternoon. I will have one of each vehicle at a driving circuit on the edge of town.”
“Excellent. My legal and accounting experts will review the paperwork in the meantime.”
They all rose and shook hands, and Eisen had his secretary escort them from the offices.
Upon returning to the compound Hawk and Tollbooth compared notes with Clutch and Stalker.
“Toyota, Mitsubishi, Peugeot, Renault, DAF, Ural . . . no wonder these guys are so messed up. They have crap rides,” Clutch fumed.
“More to the point, no one can provide a fleet of like vehicles, which would make maintenance and support a nightmare,” Steeler noted.
Stalker scratched his head. “You know, if you can make jeeps it’s only a small step to make armoured cars. And if you can make bulldozers, like the one we have on order, it’s a small step to making tanks. Ares just strikes me as being a little too smooth for this neighbourhood.”
Hawk frowned. “It’s one thing to make a chassis. I haven’t seen any local capacity to build turrets or fire control systems or even armour plate. And there’s a big difference between welding thin sheets of soft metal and thick slabs of plate.”
Stalker nodded. “True. But we don’t have any other leads at this time. Might as well have Alpine run the Ares company history and dealings.”
Breaker walked into the room smiling and chewing away on his ever-present bubble gum.
“Thought you’d like to know we picked up a bunch more electronic traffic from Ares shortly after you left. Most were encrypted, but again to KBC, to Eastern Europe, and to the interior – somewhere in the vicinity of Isangi. One unencrypted call to the Ministry of Transport and Communication Channels about the vehicles and radios.”
Hawk rubbed his chin. “We need more info. Wet Suit and Recondo – you’re doing night surveillance on the warehouse. Breaker and Chuckles – you’ve got the Sanaga hotel. Breaker, try to set up some permanent tap. I suspect comms discipline will be tight at the office, but may slide at the hotel. Stalker and Tollbooth, you’ve got the office. All I want from those targets is pattern of life. Guard schedules, police patrols, that kind of thing. Steeler, Dusty and Clutch will be the mounted reserve.
14 0200A Feb 20XX
On a rooftop across the street, small antennae hid among the cluster of rooftop wires and pipes. Chuckles watched the windows through binoculars, and adjusted a laser microphone as he saw activity. Breaker monitored a frequency scanner. He shook his head in disgust.
“Nothing. These guys have tight discipline. It’s going to be a long night.”
He shifted his attention to charting the various antennae in the area, the phone and power lines, and locations of junction boxes. He turned to Chuckles.
“Our best bet may be to tap their lines. I wouldn’t do the junction box itself, as they can check that, but maybe we can get the line where it leaves the pole.” He pointed to a rat’s nest of overhead wires. “And the nearest cell tower is over there,” he pointed to the distance. “I can spoof their cells with a meaconing antenna. Then I just need to set up an algorithm to sort through all the traffic at that tower. In the meantime, we can plant cameras covering the front and side entrances to record the pattern of life.”
“Sounds good. That will free us up for other work. I’m still trying to talk my way into that hotel. I’ve got a line on some cheap booze that might get me into the bar.”
“Well, if you get inside I’ll give you some bugs to plant.”
Out in the middle of the Congo River, Wet Suit navigated a small boat through the dense traffic, while Recondo kept thermal binos on activity on the river-side of the Ares warehouse and its pier, noting the guard shift schedule.
“They’re vigilant. Physical patrols keep all approaches under surveillance at all times,” he whispered into a mic. “They patrol the building perimeter and the fence line, occasionally with dogs. I can also make out the IR* security system. They’re better armed than your run of the mill guards.” He picked up a camera with an image intensifying lens and started to take photographs. “The foot patrols have pistols and Jatimatic SMGs.** Static guards have G3 rifles. Each patrol has NVGs.*** Each patrol has comms.”
Wet Suit checked a frequency scanner.
“Got it,” he whispered, as one of the guards raised a radio to his mouth.
Stalker and Tollbooth stood in the alley shadow, watching the office building. No lights were on, all blinds were shut. There was no sign of external security beyond the locks on the front door and the bars on the windows. Police pickups did, however, patrol past the building about twice every three hours.
“So what are the other businesses in that building?” whispered Tollbooth.
Stalker flipped through a notebook and compared notes with the window signs.
“Pan-African Architecture, Ruga Accounting, Norwood & Shaerd Legal Service, Limete Pharmacy, Naja Hana Video Corp, and Local Hardware. It’s a mixed bunch alright. Scarlett’s looking for any connection between the businesses.”
Tollbooth ran a laser mic across the windows.
“All I got is what sounds like a portable radio on the ground floor. There must be a night watchman inside.”
“Well, let’s see if he ever does any rounds.”
Back in the compound, the remainder of the team stared at maps, blueprints and reports. Clutch leaned back in a chair with his feet on a table, flipping through a magazine. Steeler looked over his shoulder.
“What’s that you’re looking up?”
“Parts. I rebuild pony cars. Right now I’m doing a ‘73 Barracuda,” Clutch replied without looking up.
“No way! Got a reliable source?”
Across the room, Scarlett coughed and motioned to Steeler to get back to work.
Clutch continued, “I just search through scrap yards mostly. I was all the way up in Warwick getting parts from Specht’s Salvage Yard just before this all happened.”
“What else have you done?”
Clutch flipped the page. “I started with a ‘57 Chevy. Worked on it behind my Uncle Arnie’s gas station after school.”
Dusty put down the government report in French he was reading through. “I was more into bikes. I fixed up a BMW R75 a few years ago.”
Scarlett slapped her hand on a table. “Boys! Get back to your homework!”
The three looked at each other, then returned to work. Clutch caught Scarlett’s eye and winked.
“You’re cute when you’re angry.”
Scarlett swore under her breath.
IR - Infra Red
SMG - Submachine gun
NVG - Night Vision Goggles
Last edited by LowTech; 10-07-2012 at 08:56 AM..
07-13-2012, 10:45 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Northern Michigan
nice orgin story so far.
07-14-2012, 11:09 AM
Join Date: Jun 2012
14 0730A Feb 20XX
Scarlett laid a paper report in front of Hawk and started her brief. The other team members sat in the background.
“The executive summary of last night’s surveillance activities is that Ares has more security than other comparable companies, and tighter discipline. Otherwise, it largely confirmed what we suspected. Those of us back in the TOC* took advantage of the time,” she paused slightly, glaring at Clutch, and continued, “to broaden the search. First, there appears to be no connection between the other tenants of Ares office location and Ares itself. Nor is there any apparent connection between the building owner, Chokoloskee Realty Inc, and Ares.”
Hawk held up his hand to stop Scarlett. “An American company?”
“Yes Sir. Privately held. Most of its holdings are international. It has an odd portfolio, without any kind of regional concentration. I couldn’t find any connection with arms dealings.”
Hawk motioned for her to continue.
“Next, we followed up on the transmission to Isangi. Ares conducted a regional assessment there, but did not build a plant. I pulled imagery of the area, and there is no sign of heavy industry. In the past few months the government has pulled out all security forces from that area. I haven’t been able to track down the reason or a formal record of the decision. Third, research into KBC came up empty. They either keep their records on a stand-alone system or in paper, so no way of getting into their correspondence with Ares, or anyone else. Finally, Breaker has proposed a cell phone meaconing op, and tapping a fibre optic line. He can brief on that.”
Hawk scanned the images. “I already like the plan. How soon can you do it?”
Breaker’s gum bubble popped in surprise. “Well Sir, I could get started on meaconing tonight, but I’ll have to periodically move the gear. Tapping the FOCA** will take longer.”
Hawk nodded, tracing one of the maps with his finger. “Good. The next step will involve getting access to the KBC records.”
Airborne leaned forward in his chair. “As your legal advisor I feel compelled to tell you that in this jurisdiction, breaking into banks is a felony. As a soldier who hates legal briefs, I’ve always been curious about robbing banks.”
Hawk smiled. “No robbery. We’re just encouraging freedom of information. Steeler, Clutch, Dusty, Tollbooth – you’re up for test driving today. Tomorrow we’ll meet the Jane. Within a week we should have our vehicles and weapons. Be prepared to head up river to Isangi. We ought to learn what’s keeping the government out of there.”
14 1445A Feb 20XX
Clutch skidded the jeep to a halt in front of the Ares reps. His Ares co-driver unwrapped his hands from the dash and he carefully climbed out, braced himself on the hood, and threw up violently. Clutch laughed, swung out and looked under the wheel wells.
“Dusty – you have GOT to give this thing a spin. It’s amazing. I tried to break the suspension on the washboard, the uneven climb and the rock garden and it took it in stride.”
Dusty was busy trying to get one of the reps to pose in a photo with him by the truck.
“Why don’t you take it for another loop? I’m going to give the truck a drive.”
Clutch turned to the rep. “Hey, sounds good to me. Wanna hop in for another ride?”
The rep turned pale and backed away.
“No no no. No, listen, you know the loop, you take it yourself this time.”
Clutched whooped, hopped back behind the wheel and hit the gas. The jeep took off leaving rooster tails of mud. Clutch whipped the wheel through the first turns until he was out of sight of the main group. Slowing to a halt, he reached into his pocket for a spray bottle and plastic sheeting. A quick spray of the dash highlighted the Ares rep’s full hand prints, which were transferred to the plastic sheet. Tweezers collected a scrap of bloody hair from where the rep had slammed his head off the door frame. The plastic bags went back into his shirt, and with a howl of glee he threw the jeep back onto the course.
Steeler walked around the armoured vehicle a second time.
“Òk, I give up. What is this?”
The Ares driver laughed.
“It’s a god-awful nightmare of a Frankenstein creation is what it is. You’re looking at some local mash up of a VAB, a BTR and an Alvis Stalwart.”
Steeler stared at him in stunned silence.
“I’m serious mate. Lookit, she leaks fluids all over the place, she makes some spooky noises, and she wouldn’t pass a safety inspection in the rest of the world, but she runs. I’ve never seen anything like it myself. Anyway, if you want it, it’s yours. The locals don’t want it because they hate doing maintenance.”
Steeler gingerly climbed into the cab and looked around. Cursing to himself, he hit the master switch and engaged the engine.
“Let’s see what she does.”
The rep climbed in beside him.
“If you’re feeling lucky you can try swimming her too.”
The scissor bridge slowly extended under Tollbooth’s control. His Ares rep nodded in approval.
“You got the knack quickly. Impressive.”
“I grew up around machinery. Never met a vehicle I couldn’t master.”
The whine of a dirt bike engine interrupted them. Clutch was climbing into the cab of the truck as Dusty disappeared down the trail on the bike. The Ares reps were clustered, shaking their heads.
Steeler, Clutch, Dusty and Tollbooth gathered, chuckling at the sight of each other. They were covered from head to toe in dirt and grime, except for streaked patches where their goggles had been.
Steeler turned to the lead Ares rep and shook his hand.
“We’ll be passing on our approval to the boss. Our compliments to your whole team. These are solid vehicles.”
The Ares rep smiled.
“Have you decided on the dozer or the loader?”
Tollbooth nodded. “We’ll take both.”
Clutch dug some dirt out of his ear with his toothpick.
“Hey, what do you call that jeep?”
The rep glanced over at it and back at Clutch.
“We’re marketing it as the Vamp.”
* TOC - Tactical Operations Centre
** FOCA - Fibre Optic Cable Assembly
Last edited by LowTech; 10-07-2012 at 09:00 AM..
07-15-2012, 10:11 AM
Join Date: Jun 2012
15 0900A Feb 20XX
Hawk, Alpine and Airborne sat in Ares’ offices, reviewing contracts.
“Everything seems to be in order Mr Eisen.”
“You are fortunate. We have the vehicles in our warehouse, and all the permits were approved in near record time.”
Hawk glanced out the window.
“I noticed that there’s a lawyer and an accountant in this very building. Do you ever outsource any work to them?”
“No. We do all of our work in-house. Though I hear they provide passable service, should you ever be in the market.”
“On a related line, we’ve been checking out a few local banks in order to manage local payroll and expenses. We’re thinking of KBC. Any thoughts on them, or others.”
Eisen thought for a moment. “We’ve done some work with KBC. They’re perfectly reliable and you’ll have no trouble with them. Now, how can we arrange delivery?”
Airborne referred to his notes. “Pier 17 tomorrow morning for loading on the MS Jane.”
Eisen rose and shook hands.
“I wish you success, and look forward to future business with Transat. Should you ever need anything, the invoices include our office phone, a sat phone number and an HF frequency, all monitored 24 hours a day.”
15 1330A Feb 20XX
Cutter had been getting worked up waiting for this meeting, and immediately launched into his complaints.
“This ship is old and worn out. I get that it fits with the mission profile. But it needs a crew of about 25. Instead, I have a third of that, and a bunch are Army types. Hell, my mechanic is an AFV* mech. She gets diesel engines, but has been busting her ass to figure out these particular ones. I’ve got a mouthy machinist, a catatonic diver, a shore defender, a deck hand/rad op who wants to outdo everybody, an electronics guy who is trying to rewire the whole ship on his own, and a firefighter. Now I’ve got your whole clag aboard, and most of them don’t know bow from stern. If you’re going to come aboard you’re all going to have to pitch in to make her run. I don’t care where in the world we are. I run an AL East ship, and I can’t do that with an AL West crew.”
Hawk blinked. “Right. Well, we load the vehicles tomorrow and then head straight out to pick up our weapons. From there we’re heading upriver to Isangi. We’ll do crew famil while underway. I assume Claymore has already left.”
Cutter nodded. “You probably don’t know this. The ship came with a broken down HMMWV in the hold.”
“Huh. I’ll tell Steeler. Put together your training plan and give it to Lt Falcon. He’ll make sure it’s followed. See you tomorrow.”
15 1900A Feb 20XX
Scarlett pointed to the faces projected on the screen.
“It took a while, but we’ve traced the various Ares reps you got biometrics on. They’re all Scottish, all British Army vets, all with honourable discharges. None have criminal records.”
“It seems an odd coincidence that they would all be Scottish, doesn’t it?” asked Steeler.
“Well, Herr Eisen certainly isn’t. I’d peg him as Austrian,” said Alpine.
“I’ll run his name and photo through the databases again.”
Wet Suit and Duke stared at blueprints of the KBC.
“We need internal imagery. We’re going to have to get inside walls, so we need paint chips, screw heads, conduit types . . .”
“Maybe we can film a few appointments and meetings with the manager and staff.”
Hawk walked into the TOC. “Alpine, Airborne and Breaker – you’re staying back here with Duke and Chuckles as the Transat rear link. Develop the SigInt picture, a network analysis of Ares and the government and business officials, and any banking info you come across. Everyone else comes on the ship and heads upriver. And Breaker, figure out where Ares monitors its comms. We already know it’s not the head office. It’s probably the warehouse, but confirm that.”
AFV - Armoured Fighting Vehicle
Last edited by LowTech; 10-07-2012 at 09:02 AM..
07-16-2012, 08:34 AM
Join Date: Jun 2012
16 1500 Feb 20XX
The crane operator lowered each vehicle into hold of the Jane under the watchful eye of Cutter, Steeler and Shipwreck. Inside the hold, Clutch, Dusty and Rock n Roll quickly manoeuvred the vehicles to make room for the next, and to have space to work on them. Once the four jeeps, two Unimogs, the APC, bulldozer, loader, two motorcycles and two ATVs were parked, Clutch grabbed his tool bag. He popped the hood on a jeep and started to examine the engine. Dusty started to do the same with a second jeep, while Steeler slid down a ladder and rolled under a Unimog on a creeper. Clutch stood back in confusion.
“Hey - my wrenches don’t fit.”
Dusty laughed. “The nuts are metric.”
Clutch swore. “Metric? My kick ass Vamp is Euro-trash? Next you’ll want me to wear cycling shirts and watch Formula 1.”
Dusty turned to Steeler, who had rolled back out from under the truck. “You know, he’s never even noticed the Grid Girls!”
Steeler grunted. “You only take it seriously if it burns gasoline, don’t you.”
Clutch started pacing back and forth, waving an oily rag in the air. “Hell no. There are some great top fuel engines out there - nitromethane. Shoulda seen some of the cars down in Bakersfield. Hot rods built with classic car bodies, custom chassis, cranking 3000 hp. Biobutenol is amazing. The NHRA is going to have to revise the length of the track so those babies have room to brake!”
Dusty shook his head. “That’s great if you want to drive in a straight line. Ever look into Dakar? Pharaons? Raid de Himalaya? Man, Alpine and Hit n Run would be all over that one.”
Clutch pointed an accusing finger at Dusty. “You know nothing about the joys of street racing.”
“And you’ve never been in a banger rally,” shot back Dusty.
Clutch tossed his ratchet back into his bag and looked into the wheel well. “We should install some on-board hydraulic jacks.”
Dusty leaned into the back of the jeep. “Drinking water tanks with foot pumps would be useful too.”
Clutch shook his head. “We’re in the jungle - not the desert.”
“Ok - enough chatter,” Steeler interjected. “Let’s finish these inspections.”
A couple of hours later they wiped the grease off their hands. Flash and Shipwreck were leaning on a railing, watching the work. Rock n Roll was soon finished going over the bikes and quads and leaned on one while watching the others.
“They aren’t bad looking. I’m not sure I trust a new locally manufactured vehicle, but we can give them some more test drives to find the bugs.”
Steeler nodded. “How about the HMMVW?”
“The brakes are out. Blown master cylinder. Dead alternator. No fuel filter. The steering box is also wonky, and it’s leaking oil. And this APC is a mess.” He turned to it and started pointing. “The turbo is shot. It needs new struts and tie rod ends. Hub seals need replacing. Engine coolant temperature sensor cables need replacing. So do the coolant hoses. I have no faith at all in the transmission, and it’s leaking just about all of its fluids.”
Flash walked over to the group. “I’ll have a go over the electronics. I can fix up the wiring.”
Shipwreck joined in. “Give me the parts specs. I’ll run them through the 3D printer for new gaskets. It does good metalwork. We’ll see how well it does hoses and cables.”
Steeler laughed. “I think you’ll have to measure them all yourself, based on this monster’s pedigree.”
“I’d like to look at that engine,” came a female voice.
Heads turned, and Clutch dropped a wrench on his foot.
“Sweet mother of road kill . . .”
The coverall-clad woman tucked her hair behind her ears, climbed on the APC, and started to examine the engine.
Shipwreck pointed a thumb at her backside. “Meet Courtney, our very own grease monkey cover girl.”
Clutch’s mouth hung open and his toothpick fell to the floor.
Rock n Roll held his hand up. “The bikes all look ok.”
17 0730A Feb 20XX
Stalker looked over the assembled soldiers.
“I’ve posted the new squadron orbat. There are three environmental troops, a specialist troop and a headquarters troop. But that’s largely administrative – useful for organizing bed spaces. Specific ops will call for a mix and match of capabilities.
Amphibious Troop (K-Bar)
Dismounted Troop (Arrowhead)
Hit & Run
Mobility Troop (Scorpion)
Rock n Roll
Mutt & Junkyard
19 0100A Feb 20XX
Lt Falcon, Ripcord, Crazy Legs, Spirit and Recondo lay in the tree line, watching the open field. Crazy Legs held the radio to his ear.
Falcon touched Ripcord on the sleeve.
“Time to go.”
The two ran from the trees and started to light the paraffin pots that marked the half-mile rough landing strip.
“I’ve only ever done this with IR strobes,” Ripcord muttered.
“Me too,” replies Falcon. “But they’re all on the plane. This method is still in the books.”
“Ah yes, the Junior Woodchucks Guidebooks.”
“Hey – if it works it works.”
“I have the bend in the river, and am picking up the runway lights,” came the voice over the radio.
“Roger. The ground is firm and smooth. No wind,” replied Crazy Legs.
The blacked-out Dakota made a smooth landing, and upon reaching the end of the rough landing strip turned around. The rear ramp was already opening, and two heavy trucks broke out of the brush to start cross loading. Claymore and Beachhead and two crew member started pushing crates down the rails, while Night Flight and a second crew member started pumping fuel from drums into the plane. Rock n Roll, Bazooka, Outback, Gung Ho and Steeler started breaking the loads down and loading them into the trucks.
Outback cursed as he hefted a crate to his chest. “A forklift would be nice right now.”
Within forty minutes the load was transferred, the Dakota was airborne, and the trucks were headed back to the shoreline. Flacon and Ripcord extinguished the lights and the pathfinding team took up rear security.
In the lead truck, Rock n Roll turned to Gung Ho.
“Man, I’m sure glad to finally get some weapons. I don’t like the idea of being out here unarmed.”
Gung Ho looked surprised. “Pour quoi? Did you forget to bring a knife?” He patted the Ka-Bar strapped to his boot.
Last edited by LowTech; 08-05-2012 at 07:18 PM..
Reason: The "orbat" sequence is added to give readers an idea of who is in the team for reference.
07-17-2012, 08:43 AM
Join Date: Jun 2012
19 0900A Feb 20XX
Clutch walked down the corridor with a crate of parts and wires and diagrams. He collided with an opening door, knocking over Trip Wire, who fell into Scarlett. Scarlett dropped an armful of books and papers, and started scrabbling to pick them up. Clutch set his box upright, stepped over Trip Wire, and bent to help Scarlett.
“That’s a lot of books there. What’re you reading?”
Scarlett continued to pick up papers. “Keep walking Clutch.”
“No really, what’re you reading?”
“Correspondence courses. Keep walking Clutch,” Scarlett muttered.
“Night school . . . so, math? geography? economics?”
“Clutch - get lost.”
Clutch grabbed one of the books from Scarlett. “What’s this? Library science?”
Scarlett punched Clutch in the kidney and grabbed the book back.
“Hey everyone,” Clutch shouted. “Scarlett’s going to be our naughty librarian!”
Scarlett kicked Clutch’s feet from under him and stormed off.
“And she likes it rough!”
Trip Wire shook his head.
“Clutch – who taught you to act like a man?”
Clutch propped himself up on his elbow. “My shop teacher, my football coach and Asa Baber.”
Trip Wire got up and walked away.
“You might want to re-read those magazines,” he said over his shoulder.
23 0830A Feb 20XX
The team lined the deck of the Jane, wind whipping around them as the white-painted Hind helicopter landed. The three crew climbed out and made their way to the RHIB, piloted by Topside. Once aboard the Jane they sat at a table on the deck, looking at the curious faces. The pilot stroked his thick mustache and tilted a Cavalry Stetson to the back of his head. He wore cowboy boots, jeans and had an enormous belt buckle showing the Texas flag. The stocky man beside him wiped sweat from his brow with his beret, and placed his shotgun at his feet. The enormous, heavily muscled crew chief crossed his arms, looked from face to face, and broke the silence.
“What do y’all have for breakfast?”
Shipwreck jumped to his feet. “I believe it’s my turn. Powdered eggs and coffee coming up.” He spun on his heel and disappeared down a hatch.
Hawk leaned forward. “I’m Colonel Abernathy. Conrad Hauser gave us your contact info. I’m still not exactly clear on how you provide services to the UN, but I understand you may also be available for additional work.”
The man in the Stetson grinned. “William Hardy, but I go by the call sign Wild Bill.” He jerked his thumb to his right. “You can call him Flint, on account of how tough he thinks he is.” He jerked his thumb to his left. “You can call him Roadblock, for obvious reasons. Now, as for how we work, it’s pretty simple. Our contract with the UN calls for a set number of aerial patrol hours per month. With 72 hours notice we’re on call to support specific UN patrols. As for where we patrol . . .” he spread his arms. “For a negotiable fee we could log a patrol somewhere convenient to you.”
Flint scratched a bicep. “Fees cover fuel and ammo expended, plus a hazard bonus depending on the level of risk. We can also lift small teams of up to six pers, or two stretchers.”
Stalker rubbed his chin. “Where do you guys bunk down?”
“We move around. Sometimes a hotel in one of the towns. Sometimes in a UN camp.”
Stalker nodded. “We can’t compete with hotels, even the ones around here. But I’m sure a bunk here, with showers and American-standard toilets, would be preferable to a UN camp.”
The three exchanged glances. Flint nodded. “That might be a factor in pricing.”
“I think I’ll check out the galley before going firm,” said Roadblock, and he headed after Shipwreck. “I’m not so sure about those powdered eggs.”
Roadblock joined Shipwreck in the galley.
“What are you doing with those powered eggs?”
Shipwreck looked up.
“Scrambling 'em. Thought I’d do ‘em fancy with some Tabasco.”
“Give me that bowl.”
He rummaged around the galley, added a splash of milk, cut up some onions and peppers and mushrooms, and started making omelets.
“So what are you guys really doing out here?”
Shipwreck stared at Roadblock, shook his head slightly, and then said “we’re trying to figure out who’s arming all these factions. What brings you out here?”
“I was getting a little disillusioned in my last line of work. You know there are companies – not the security companies, but resource companies, manufacturers, that kind of company, and they have larger security forces than most armies? They actually influence American policy, and I was a little tired of being a part of that.” He folded the vegetables into the omelets. “America has ignored this whole continent for decades. But the industries, they’re moving in, and playing their own divide and conquer game. That seemed wrong to me, so I’m trying to impose a little peace on a small area. Give the locals a chance to lead a normal life. Have their own version of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
“Sounds a little idealistic to me.”
Roadblock stopped what he was doing and turned to face Shipwreck.
“I joined the Army because I was an idealist. I left because I was an idealist. I’m doing this because I’m an idealist. The red, white and blue may not be everyone’s idea of home colours, but the ideas behind the flag are worth spreading.” He transferred the omelets to a plate.
“Well, if you fight as well as you cook we’ll get along just fine.” Shipwreck extended his hand “I’m Hector Delgado, but everyone here just calls me Shipwreck. Don’t ask.”
Roadblock smiled and took the hand. “Marvin Hinton, but as the man said, call me Roadblock.”
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