CHAPTER SEVENTEEN PART THREE
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
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FROM PART TWO:
Tasca watched Maseru make for the front of the outcropping and disappear behind it. He stared at the supplies around him. Alone with his thoughts, his mind continued to assess the problems he knew they’d encounter. Some choice, hey Castille. Carry more ordinance to counter the Kingdom’s pursuit through Worlar or Martuzian territories or enter the Dune Sea carrying enough water to by-pass the first spring. Either way it’s a long Goddamn hike in this heat. Even with the moisture traps and urine converters, water may still be a problem. Each route has its obstacles, the question is which one increases our odds to complete the mission? He spat to one side. Whatever I decide it’s still a long shot. Shit. We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
Maseru touched the scanner’s communication button. “Colonel, I’ve got movement on both lines. I need you to look at this, sir. Damned odd, if you ask me.”
Maseru’s words broke Tasca’s concentration. “All right, Sergeant, what do you have?
“Movement I think you’ll find a bit strange.”
“All right, show me and be quick about it.”
“Yes, sir. Coming your way.”
With little effort Maseru made his way around the outcropping until he reached Tasca.
“What the hell are they doing, Colonel?” He handed the scanner to Tasca.
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Tasca studied the images from the thopther. “Best guess, the lines are opening to allow part of their war Council to study our position. Once they’ve reached a decision, they’ll flank us on both sides, and, once in position, attack from all points.” He handed the scanner to Maseru. “Return to your position and let me know the moment the any council members appear. I want numbers and how they’re dressed. Don’t move until I tell you to. Understood, Sergeant?”
“Got it, sir.”
“All right, Sergeant, go.”
Returning Maseru’s salute, Tasca watched him move around the outcropping and disappear from sight. It’s only a matter of time before they show their hand. You must finish sorting the supplies we’ll need to reach the spines. I hate this Goddamn feeling, like rats trapped in a maze with no way out except through the Scavs. All right, Castille, enough Goddamned bitching. Just do it.
Minutes passed and still no movement through the center of either line. “Colonel, I don’t see anything. I think it’s deliberate attempt to get under our skin. Shit, I hate all this waiting. Why the hell are they stalling?”
“I don’t have an answer, Sergeant. They’ve never waited this long before an attack. You’re probably right. It’s just a damned tactic to unnerve us, nothing more. So, stay calm, understood?”
“Yes, sir, calm as all hell.”
Tasca studied the line with his teledars. “Where the hell are y. . . Shit, I’ll be damned.” He watched four Scavs move slowly through the middle of the line. “They’re part of the council, all right, but there’s no Chief. He has to be with the other line. Sergeant, do you have any movement?”
“Yes, sir, I do. I’ve got five Scavs that stopped about two meters in front of the line.”
“Is any one dressed differently from the others?”
“Yeah, one, sir. He’s wearing a dark red blouse and some sort of hat made from bones.”
“The one with the red shirt is the Chief. The shirt is drenched in blood of his enemies. I figure we’ve no more than a couple of minutes before they move on us. I want you to position yourself halfway up the outcropping as close to the center as possible. For now, you’ll target the Chief then the rest of the council. I’ll do the same on my side. If we kill the Chief and most of the Council, it should force them to regroup before they press their attack.”
“How long do we wait, Colonel?”
“Until I give the order to fire. They’ll move towards us until they feel they’re close enough to use their rifles. They’ll lay down suppressing fire until they’ve flanked us on both sides, then charge our position from every angle. Once they set off the thermals, one of two things will happen. They’ll either be incensed and press the attack, or retreat and count their dead and leave us alone. My gut tells me they’ll attack with a vengeance.”
Maseru smiled. “If that’s their choice, I hope we kill every fucking one of the bastards.”
“Hopefully, but check the scanner for movement. If any of the council survived, make quick work of them, then concentrate your fire on the approaching line. I want you to scorch every last one, is that understood, Sergeant?”
“Yes, sir! With great pleasure!”
“Figured you’d like the order. Just don’t get over confident. I’ve seen these scrawny bastards put up one hell of a fight. So, if there’s hand-to-hand remember that.”
“Yes, sir. Why are they making no attempt to hide their movements? It was as if they want to be seen.”
“They do. They know they have us outnumbered, so their show of force is meant to scare us. If you’ve never heard a Worlar’s battle yell you’re in for one hell of an experience!”
“Maybe, Colonel, but I don’t think they can be worse than the freaks we fought in the outer tracts. I never heard humans make noises like they did. Christ, it still chills me to the bone.”
“It did the same to me, but a Worlar ye –”
“Colonel, several Scavs from each line are moving towards both sides of the gorge.”
“Shit, they are. It appears they’ve changed their tactics. All right, set your position. I’ll be on the other side of the outcropping almost directly behind you.”
“Yes, sir. Aside from the Chief and his Council, I don’t see any movement from the lines. Looks like they’re waiting for them to get into position flanking us before they move forward.”
“It does, doesn’t it. Once the Scavs are inside the kill box I’ll arm the thermals, then only God knows what will happen next.”
“True, there’s no way to tell how they’ll react once they explode. If I were them, I’d get within range of their rifles and try to pick us off while the others make a full-on charge. They think it’ll keep us pinned down, but with our armor it won’t. Your assessment, Sergeant?”
“I agree, to a point, sir. I believe they’ll lay down suppressing fire as others on advance. They’ll maintain this maneuver until they’ve reached us. Essentially they’ll try and hit us from all sides.”
“I, agree. Don’t use the plasma rifles until the lasers are drained.”
“Good hunting, Sergeant.”
“And you as well, sir.”
© 2017, Raymond Tobaygo. All rights reserved.
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