CHAPTER THIRTEEN PART SIX INTO THE LATAL GORGE
minimal adult language
SNOW KINGDOM SYNOPSIS: Two soldiers from the United Northern Alliance, Colonel Castille Tasca and Master Sergeant Rambika Maseru, have undertaken a clandestine mission deep into Snow Kingdom territory to test a new agent designed to kill coca plants the source of the Snow Kingdom’s cocaine, the very foundation of its power and wealth.
Scavenger: General term referring to various groupings of people living outside the areas of the predominate cultures. Found primarily in South America south of the Amazon River with smaller groupings living within various sectors and zones in Northern and certain zones within Sub-Sharan Africa. Used by the Snow Kingdom to guard their more remote areas from Alliance raids. Used by the Greater Kingdoms to raid surrounding War Lord and Tribal territories.
DBS: Acronym for Drop and Bury Site
Scav(s): Abbreviation for Scavengers
WORDS PART FIVE: In Part Five, 889
SO FAR: Tasca and Maseru have entered the gorge and are moving forward along its left wall. Maseru’s frustration is growing as the Colonel tries to rationalize why the Scavs haven’t attacked.
From Part Five
One thousand meters into the gorge Tasca stopped and waited for Maseru to pull even with him. “Sergeant, switch your scanner to the thopter and tell me if anything strikes you as unusual.”
“Yes, sir. Let me adjust the clarity. There, that’s good. No, sir. Nothing jumps out at me but judging by your question, you do.”
“I’m not sure, Sergeant. My gut tells me the number of Scavs watching us has increased significantly since we entered. I’ve never known them to remain hidden this long. We should have seen them by now, especially with only two men.”
“Understood, Colonel, but to your first question. There appears to be a lot of dead plants above us on either side. I know you’ve seen them. A bit strange if you ask me, sir.”
“Yeah, I have. There were a few plants above us on both sides when we entered. The thopter confirmed some farther down the gorge about two hundred-meters in front of the DBS, but nothing like the heavy concentration above us now. That strike you as unusual, Sergeant?”
“Yes sir, it does. I say we press on and see if the plants stay where they are.”
“All right, Sergeant, make it so. The sooner we can confirm this, the better. We need numbers and locations. If our assumption is correct we can react to neutralize the threat.”
Nothing stirred in the oven-like temperatures, the ground ahead shimmering in the heat-distorted air. The shade from the left side of the gorge provided little relief from the scorching sun, their only consolation the fact they were closing in on the DBS. Eyes darting between their scanners and the horizon, they moved forward.
They had covered six-hundred meters with no signs of the Scavs. Struggling to keep his frustration in check, Tasca stopped and ordered Maseru to scour every meter of the gorge floor with his thermals. “If we see anything resembling a cooler signature, engage the imager, Sergeant. If it’s a Scav we’ll kill the son-of-a-bitch. Maybe this will force them to show their hand.”
Maseru smiled. He had waited since they approached the gorge to hear the Colonel’s words. “It’s about Goddamn time, sir.”
Yes, it is. Remember one shot, one kill. No need to show more about our weapons than necessary.”
“Not to worry, Colonel. I won’t need more than one to make the kill.”
Tasca grinned. “Of that I have no doubt, Sergeant.”
After searching, and seeing nothing of any size with a cooler signature, Tasca looked at Maseru. “I know they’re ghosting us, Sergeant. I can practically smell them. I think I know why the thopter hasn’t seen them. They’re disguised as dead plants. I’ll bet my pension on it. Have you noticed the deeper we penetrate the gorge the more dead plants we see above us on either side?
“Yeah, now that you mention it, I did. The plants we scanned above us on both sides appear to be the same in number, far more than we saw when we entered the gorge or what we detected down from the DBS. You thinking what I am, Colonel?”
Tasca felt a brief moment of satisfaction. It made sense why they were unable to see the Worlar Scavs. “Yes, Sergeant, I am. They ‘re disguised as plants. No other explanation makes any sense. Unless I’ve missed my guess the deeper we go into the gorge the more plants we’ll see. I figure the first of group of Scavs we spotted will attack from behind. The ones we detected farther up the gorge from the DBS will attack from the front. It’s the ones shadowing us that’s the Goddamned kicker. Logic would dictate there’s some access points to the gorge floor. The question is where?”
“How can we be certain, sir. Maybe they’ll split their forces, with half joining those at the rear, with the remaining going to our front. If they have access to our flanks it gives them a tactical advantage.” Maseru looked at the top of gorge wall to his left then his right. “We need to know how many are above us, sir.”
“Point taken, Sergeant. I’ll change the thopter’s altitude to one-hundred-and-fifty-meters, full magnification, maintaining the original search pattern. If I’m right, once they see it, they’ll try and shoot it down. With the first gunshot, I’ll bring it up to eighth-hundred meters then repeat the maneuver on the opposite side. If I’m right, both sides will be lousy with Scavs. Let me make the adjustment . . . there that does it. Now we wait and see.”
“Hopefully not for long, sir. If they’re where we think they are, then we can set up a defensive perimeter once we secure the DBS.” With Maseru’s last words, they watched the thopter descend toward the top of the right side of the gorge.
The images from the thopter left no questions. “You seeing what I am, Colonel?”
Affirmative, Sergeant. I’m pulling it up before they notice it and resume the original search pattern. No need to bring it in low on the other side. We’ve got a good idea of how many are on our flanks. The question is when will they attack? They’ll could fire on us from above to pin us down while they attack from our rear and front. Either way it’s going to be a shit storm, Sergeant.”
“And then some, Colonel. The thopter show approximately ten on our left flank with about the same on our right. Judging by the earlier scans I estimate maybe five to ten behind us and another eight to ten ahead of our position.”
If your numbers are accurate, I’d say were dealing with just one outlier clan, about forty to forty-five Scavs. Either they’ll attack soon, from all sides, or they may wait until we’ve reached the DBS. Hell, of a situation we’re in, hey Sergeant?”
© 2017, Raymond Tobaygo. All rights reserved.
The author has granted WritersCarnival.ca, its affiliates and syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.