CHAPTER THIRTEEN PART SEVEN INTO THE LATAL GORGE
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.
ASAP: Acronym for As Soon As Possible
DBS: Acronym for Drop and Bury Site.
K: Acronym for kilometer
Scav(s): Abbreviation for Scavengers
WORLAR: Scavengers occupying the land in and around the Latal Gorge
WORDS PART SEVEN: 942
SO FAR: Tasca and Maseru found the Scavs above them camouflaged as dead plants. Estimating Scavenger numbers to be over forty, they speculate where and when the they will attack.
FROM PART SIX
“And then some, Colonel. The thopter shows approximately ten on our left flank with about the same number 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 only one outlier clan, about forty to forty-five Scavs. Either they’ll attack soon, from all sides, or they’ll wait until we’ve reached the DBS. Hell, of a situation we’re in, hey Sergeant?”
WORDS PART SEVEN 942
“You could say that, sir, but we’ve been tighter ones than this.”
“Yeah, we have. We’ll hug the wall until we’re even with the DBS. Since there’s no need to search the top of either side of the gorge, I’ll have the thopter hover at eight-hundred meters over the rock outcropping where the map indicates the container’s buried behind it. At this height, the thopter will allow us to see the tops on either side and what lies ahead and behind the outcropping up to several Ks. The DBS can’t be much further. While I monitor the thopter’s feedback, you’re to scan for the DBS’s meglar pulse. We should be in range soon. All right, Sergeant, three-meter interval on me, go. If you think we’re threatened, kill them.” Tasca’s last words were deliberate. He needed to give Maseru the mindset of not reacting to a threat, but of becoming one.
“You won’t have to tell me twice, sir.”
Maseru’s reply brought a slight smile to Tasca’s face. “That, I figured, Sergeant.”
Positioned over the outcropping, the thopter showed no increase in the number of Scavengers following them as they worked their way towards the DBS. Having faced greater odds before, it was the terrain, or more precisely the gorge itself, that would give a distinct advantage to their enemy in the upcoming conflict.
Sun-scorched kilometers passed without incident until the meglar pulse detector on Maseru’s scanner blinked slowly. “Colonel, I’ve got lock on the DBS. It’s located where the map said it would be. Do you confirm, sir?”
Tasca pointed his scanner in the same area and immediately locked onto the pulse. He smiled. He wanted the DBS to be near the outcropping so they could use it as a redoubt. With their fire power, he was confident they’d repel anything the Scavs threw at them. “Affirmative, Sergeant. How strong is your lock?”
“True, at one-hundred percent, Colonel. I make it about eleven-hundred meters ahead and to our right, but closer to the left side of the gorge. The scan shows the width of the gorge at that point to be two-hundred and seventeen meters.”
Tasca’s thoughts, on hearing Maseru’s words, were laced with concern. Though the DBS was no more than twelve minutes out, they would be in the open for nearly one hundred meters. “Okay, Sergeant. We’ll hold for the moment. Use your thermals to search the area around the outcropping for Scavs?”
“Yes, sir, switching to thermals.” Maseru studied the area near the outcropping. “Let’s see . . . ah, I see the beacon, but no heat signatures in front or behind the outcropping.”
Good. The thopter confirms the area’s clear of Scavs. I’m bringing it down to two-hundred meters and increase magnification to maximum. If there’s any Scavs we missed, we’ll see them.”
“I hope so, Colonel. I believe the Scavs we passed when we entered the gorge are still above us, but following at a distance. The question remains, at what point will they enter the gorge? By my calculations, if its farther down, they’ll be over one k from the outcropping, giving us more time to react. If it’s closer, then I hope you’re right about them being piss-poor shots.”
“About a five hundred-meters into the gorge I saw one, possibly two entry points on the right side. If the Scavs use them, they’ll come at us from behind. The question begs, where will the Scavs above us enter the gorge? The thopter showed two possible access points up from the outcropping. One’s about six-hundred meters ahead on our left, the second, just under eight-hundred meters, on our right. If they’re entry points, which I believe they are, the Scavs above us will join forces to attack and secure the DBS.”
“So, based on your assessment, we’ll likely have the same number of Scavs behind and in front of us? Like I said before, it just keeps getting better, sir.”
“Look at it this way, Sergeant, you won’t have to wait much longer for a fight. If we hear weapons fire before we reach the DBS, they’ve either spotted the thopter or, from past experiences with the Worlar, they’re doing it to shake us, to force us to show our hand. The only thing I can’t figure is why they haven’t engaged us from the top of the gorge to pin us down.”
“That’s strange, sir. From some reason they’ve no desire to lay down suppressing fire to keep us against the wall. My bet, they’ll wait until we’re exposed then open up.”
“Then it’s essential we reach our objective asap. If they haven’t determined why we’re here, they’ll know soon enough.” To Tasca’s way of thinking, the Scavs would act as he’d anticipated due to their tenuous agreement with the Snow Kingdom to be its eyes, ears and executioner. He was banking on the Worlar’s curiosity, their insatiable appetite to secure supplies not under the Kingdom’s influence. “What’s in the container will give the Scavs an advantage over other bordering Scavenger clans until the Kingdom corrects the situation. I’m activating the holo map. If it remains dead on, beyond the site, the gorge continues for another ten k’s then bends left for another nine before ending at the foot of the dune sea. With any luck, we should out of it by zero-two hundred.”
“The magic four-letter word, luck.” I think the Scavs might have something to say about that, Colonel.”
“Then let’s make damn sure they don’t, Sergeant, besides we’re capable of making our own.”
“True, sir, but we’re going to have to make a lot of it to get through the gorge intact.”
© 2017, Raymond Tobaygo. All rights reserved.
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