PROMIS: South Africa, excerpt #2

24NOV81

0057hrs

Sheets of rain belted down on the rural African village.

Dressed in native garb, they were soaked to the bone leaving them with no doubt that they were in for a long and chilly night. Hands tightened around the pistol grips of AK-47 rifles, their eyes scanning the shadows not illuminated by the lone street lamp. Silently, they cursed themselves for not having one of their operatives sneak into the operational area and shoot the light out a few days prior to D-Day.

Sean Deckard walked towards his team mates, doing a final sweep of the area before waiting for the final order to come in over the net that would launch their mission. James and Robin waited at the corner of a walled off compound, crouching in the shadows between mounds of trash. The rain water seeped into the garbage, the black run off leaving a stench in their noses that was ubiquitous in the third world hell holes that they were used to working in.

“What you doing?”

Sean turned to see an old man who had approached as near as he dared, his footsteps muffled by the soft ground and the steady hum created by the rain.

Sean grunted, waving him off with an offended hand. Infiltrating close to their objective in indigenous clothing with black is beautiful cream smeared on their faces, the disguise would hold up at a distance just as long as no one actually expected him to speak in the native tongue.

The local staggered off, hopefully writing his presence off to a drunken mirage.

It was almost H-hour. They were still waiting for the call, no signs of hostiles. Sean checked the safety on his rifle one more time before coming around from behind the compound and joining the rest of his team.

Pursing his lips, he made a low whistle, letting his friends know he was coming. Just in case. They were all on edge. Everyone had a lot riding on this mission.

Robin looked up at Sean as he knelt down next to them. He was hugging himself in a futile attempt to keep warm.

“I’ll be happy to get this over with and go home,” the Rhodie whispered.

“What are you talking about,” James looked back. “We are home.”

Deckard knew there was a ugly truth in the Australian’s statement. None of them would ever be worth a damn at any other line of work other than soldering.

Lesotho was an independent but landlocked state north of both Ciskei and Transkei. The African National Communist’s terrorist wing called MK had been using the small country as a staging ground for attacks for years, taking advantage of Lesotho’s sovereign status and jumping back across the border after each strike.

That situation would end tonight.

“If this is home then what do we have to go back to?” Robin asked.

“Nothing,” James answered. “This is what we do so we might as well be good at it.”

“That and it beats sucking the farts off bus seats in Johannesburg,” Deckard interrupted.

“Any second now,” James had the radio’s handmic held to his ear, waiting for the correct code word that would launch the sixteen assault teams spread out through Lesotho.

They had crossed the river at dust, making a stealth infiltration into the small country and proceeding on foot. Pilot teams had walked the infiltration routes several times over during the last month to make sure that each team could flow to their holding positions within the bounds of their time line. The assault elements ranged in size from two to twelve, depending on the size of the objective and expected resistance they might encounter.

Sean, James, and Robin had been brought back together as one since the conclusion of the Rhodesian Bush War over a year prior. The Colonel in charge of the mission had done his best to group individual Recce operators with those they had established trust with in the past. Everyone needed to bring their A-game, no mistakes could be afforded on this night.

Steam began to waft from their soaking bodies, the rain refusing to let up.

A hiss of static sounded over the radio, a muted voice spoke.

“Big Bang,” James whispered. “It’s a go.”

Robin answered by drawing a suppressed .22 pistol and shooting out the street lamp. Blending into the shadows, the three commandos trotted down the street to their objective building. Bounding up to the door, James provided security with his AK at the ready while Sean moved up and placed small knock-knock charges on the front door connected by a length of cordex.

Sean thought he heard Robin say something just as he detonated the charges, something that sounded like, I hope we’re good at this tonight.

The explosives popped and James stepped up to provide one of his tree trunk legs to knock the door the rest of the way off it’s frame. The sound of similar blasts echoed across the country side. Recce teams were hitting their targets throughout Lesotho, terrorist leaders, propaganda ministers, financiers, smugglers, and anyone else who support terrorism was getting some unexpected house guests.

Robin tossed a flash grenade through the door and the team flowed in behind the blast.

Sean cleared right, his rifle muzzle sweeping across the first room as James opened fire, a fire storm of bullets passing inches from the American’s flank. A lifeless body rolled out of bed, a pistol slipping from limp fingers.

Another terrorist came flying in from an adjacent room, the machete in his hand swinging on a downward arc destined for Robin’s head. Sean put his AK into action, pouring a burst of fire into him at close range. The machete wielding man spun around in a macabre dance of death before collapsing to the floor.

Tonight they were good at this.

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