Unto the breach pos 4, p.40

Unto the Breach pos-4, page 40

 part  #4 of  Paladin of Shadows Series


Unto the Breach pos-4

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  “Yes, Kildar,” Sawn sighed. “As you will it.”

  “The Father of All will be with us this day,” Mike said. “Now move out. And when it starts, you’d better come a runnin’ like hell.”

  * * *

  She hadn’t realized that Kurt spent the whole night in the room.

  However, he apparently didn’t talk to Marina. She had heard the door open, footsteps and then a hand checking her shackles. Then a scrape as he sat down in the same padded chair Marina used. After that… Nothing. She couldn’t even hear him breathing over the sound of the rain and wind.

  After a bit, though, there was sound from outside the door and a knock.

  “Come.” She heard the quiet cocking of a pistol. Then wheezing. Fucking Yaroslav.

  “Has the girl been satisfactory?” Yaroslav wheezed. It must have been hell for him to just keep standing.

  “Fine,” Kurt replied. “What do you want?”

  “I have a buyer. I wish to sell her on.”

  “That’s fine,” Kurt said. “Do you want your money?”

  “I think we’re paid up,” Yaroslav said, nervously.

  “I think we’re a bit behind.”

  “If I get out of this room alive, I’ll be happy for the experience.”

  “Very funny, fat man. You can go. The girl has never mentioned her name. You don’t know it. And soon it won’t matter. You may leave.”

  “Good night, then.”

  From the sound of the footsteps, and the slight bump at the door, Yaroslav backed out of the room.

  As the door closed Katya heard the gun decock and a slight giggle.

  Fucking insane. And she was trapped in the same room with him.

  God damnit, Master Chief, where the fuck are you?

  * * *

  Hardly anything was moving in the town. Not surprising given the weather. The exterior guards on the target building were still out, but they were blinded by the rain and the light from the forward windows.

  Just as Adams thought that the door of the target building opened and one fucking obese motherfucker waddled out and across the street. He was out of sight quickly. Adams tentatively ID’d him as the pimp that Katya had been bought by based on the description from Vanner. He wasn’t sure what he was doing in the building at this time of night, but it didn’t really matter. If he’d still been in the building when they hit it, he was a target. Everyone in the building was a target except the detainee.

  Adams looked over his shoulder and gestured for the Keldara to take up pre-attack positions. Then he glanced at his watch. Fifteen minutes. Good time.

  Now to wait in the pouring rain. It was a fine night for killin’.

  * * *

  Mike slid down the hill cautiously, watching for signs of enemy snipers on this ridge and hoping his camo was holding. The Russians would have access to thermal imagery for sure and the Chechens might. So he was wrapped up like a mummy to avoid thermal signature, longjohns, fleece and gortex top and bottom, hands in thick gloves, coldweather mask over his face, balaklava and fleece-lined hood up with the hood drawn tight. They’d tested the outfit and while he still gave off a heat image it was muted and weak, a gray ghost rather than a blazing white beacon. However, even with the cold and lashing rain all the gear meant he was hot as hell. At this point his gear was so soaked he couldn’t tell where the rain left off and the sweat started.

  There was a click in his headphones and he froze. Slowly he reached down and pulled up his data pad, shielding it so the glow from the plasma fusion screen wouldn’t be visible beyond his position.

  Three points on the far ridge were now highlighted with the icon of snipers. Their “team” was unknown but they were overlooking the rendezvous.

  Mike enjoyed sniping and hated snipers. For all he knew, the snipers had already spotted him and would wait until he was in position, or the meet was already going on, before they fired. That’s what he would do. Let the target think he’d succeeded and then fuck him at the last moment.

  He clicked on the icons and upgraded their priority to first engagement then slowly slid the pad away. Gear stowed, he started his stalk again. He was just going to have to depend on the night, rain and coverage to avoid the snipers. He shunted all doubts aside and slid onward, belly down. But he kept as much concealment between him and the three snipers as possible…

  He wondered, briefly, how the rest of the mission was going and then put it out of his mind. He had good subordinates. They all knew their jobs. He could, had to, depend on them.

  They were good. He was good. Time to odie.

  * * *

  Vladimir Yaroslav waddled to the small room he had been renting and quickly stripped off his clothes. As he pulled off his watch he gave it a brief glance and then dropped it on the bed. He was on very short time.

  The fat suit unzipped in seven places and was off in less than a minute. Finally. It was one of the worst disguises he had ever affected, but very effective. Nobody noticed anything but the fat. Getting the smell of rotting flesh from obesity necrosis had been tough but he’d finally found just the right mixture of scents.

  Pulling off the mask, J stretched, his own self, whoever that was, for three seconds. Then he started getting his next mission face on.

  Islamic clothes went on then a false beard, the prophet being big on beards. The old wig came off and a new one, long, black, lanky, went on. Shoes with the backs pushed down. A different, cheaper, watch. A scar on one cheek. A small silver ring inscribed with the symbol of a crescent moon. But mostly it was the attitude. He was suddenly a person from an Islamic society. Maybe a fighter. Maybe the scar was from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Many men in the region were scarred who had never held a gun.

  A packet of perfectly forged papers went into a pocket, money bag around his neck and out the door he went.

  Down the street a Lada, virtually identical to every other Lada in the former Soviet Union, was parked on a side street. A Chechen gentleman had purchased it for cash five days before and it had been sitting ever since. A couple of street urchins had been paid by a different man, a Russian, to ensure that it wasn’t stripped to the frame.

  Hadit Temiz climbed behind the wheel and with a brief prayer to Allah that the infernal machine would start turned the key. The Allah cursed vehicle came to life and he pulled out into the wind and rain.

  At the main road he turned right, south, and headed to his next business appointment, secured two weeks before, in Azerbaijan. He’d have to remember to take the unmarked left fork in the valley ahead.

  He tried to put out of his mind that as he went through the intersection he was going to have guns pointed at him from every side. Hadit Temiz did not know that.

  In moments the Lada carrying Hadit, a Turkmen vendor of sundry cheap plastic nicknacks a selection of which were in the trunk, disappeared into the rain and darkness leaving nothing behind of Vladimir Yaroslav but a fat suit lying on the floor like the shed skin of a snake.

  Chapter Thirty

  Mike stayed still in his hide as an out of tune Lada puttered to the south. From the sound of it, it took the fork headed for Azerbaijan.

  But that wasn’t what he was listening for. That was the sound of multiple engines coming from the north.

  He’d found a nice little hide, a dug out portion to the streambank which was relatively flat and just about covered in bushes. First he’d slowly laid out a heavy ghillie blanket then slithered under it, snuggling into the comforting mud of the bank. Once under that he’d divested himself of some of his encumbering gear; the blanket was thick and lined with mylar to keep from letting loose any heat.

  Once prepared he settled in to wait. When the vehicles, they sounded like small trucks or SUVs, pulled to a stop he still waited. He could hear the group deploying, quietly and professionally. They dropped into the streambed and walked down it, within a foot of his position at one point, without noticing that the pile of junk along the side of the stream was something
other than a pile of junk. The night was still awfully dark and he’d have been hard to see in daylight much less under NVGs. For that matter, the patterning of the cover under the strips of burlap was a digital pattern designed to defeat NVGs. To a night vision system it simply didn’t exist. It was part of the pattern of pixels. If they’d scanned carefully with a thermal imager, they might have noticed him. But NVGs were worse than useless.

  The fedayeen were, as normal, late. When he heard the second group of vehicles he pressed the transmitter and started the countdown.

  The next was art rather than science. The other group of vehicles approached. Their lights would be on. Even if they were tactical lights they would partially blind the group Russians. And as the Islamics deployed the Russians, even though they each had a sector they were supposed to be watching, were going to be casting quick glances over their shoulder…


  He stood up and casually walked up out of the streambed, fiddling with his zipper as he did.

  Over all the rest of his gear he had a Russian military issue poncho. The weapon he’d chosen for the op was a BIZON 7.62x25 submachine gun. The weapon was a favorite of Russian special operations groups, firing a 7.62x25 bullet from an integrally silenced barrel. Heavier and less accurate than the silenced M4, it was still a pretty good weapon.

  AS he’d guessed, the former Spetznaz were armed with a motley collection of personal weapons. He spotted two Makarovs before he was even up on the flat.

  “You should have taken a piss before we left,” one of the guards growled, turning back from a glance over his shoulder at the Islamics. The guy was just about covered in frag grenades. Personally, Mike hated the things. He used them when he had to but never carried more than one unless absolutely necessary. He’d seen too many people frag themselves. This fucker clearly loved the damned things. Stupid fuck.

  “Tea,” Mike muttered back. Over the last year his Russian had gotten perfect and while accented, the accent didn’t sound American. That was because it was a Keldara accent. But the Russian would have to be quick as hell to notice that in the middle of an op.

  Suddenly, Mike was just another of the Spetznaz guards. Several of them sported ponchos virtually identical to his. Same gun, same walk, same wariness.

  Just one problem.

  The two groups had stopped about sixty yards apart. That was fine, there were Keldara positioned on the far side of the engagement. The two groups would pincer the meet as soon as Mike initiated. But Mike had intended to get to the package and take it down then initiate. It was the only way he could be sure there wouldn’t be a nuke dropped on his head.

  The problem was that the principles, and a select group of guards, was moving to the no-man’s land in the middle of the two groups. On the Russian side there were four guards, Sergei Rudenko and Arensky. Arensky was carrying what Mike presumed was the package, a briefcase. On the Islamic side there were four guards, these guys encumbered with bags but still with their hands on their weapons, Al-Kariya the Al Qaeda moneyman from the bulk and another guy, slimmer, nobody Mike knew about.

  There was no way that Mike could approach that group. Too much ground to cover. Too open. Too obvious.


  Mike wandered one way then back, looking up at the woods where the Keldara waited then stopped by where he’d come out of the stream. Three of the Russians had gathered there, not exactly taking advantage of the shelter of one of the Mercedes SUVs they’d come in but close. One of them was the guy who had challenged Mike’s “bathroom trip.”

  Fuck. This was gonna suck.

  As he approached the group his C2 device buzzed, once. Adams was initiating. Out of time.

  He reached over, casually pulled a pin out of one of the frags on the guy’s harness and then pushed the man, hard, into the group.

  Two steps and he was rollling across the hood of the Mercedes SUV, hitting the ground on the far side on both feet and aiming into the group of principles.

  “Lasko! Go!”

  * * *

  Lasko had been continually adjusting his aim based on his read of the wind and, ignoring the sudden crash of multiple grenades, his finger stroked the trigger as soon as he heard the “Go” command.

  “Target down,” Sion muttered. “Shift right. Sniper on ridgeline. Target down. I lost the third one.”

  “Jackrabbiting,” Lasko said. “Back… ”

  There was a thud next to him and looking over it was clear that Sion was not going to be drinking any more beer. Or, what was worse, doing any more spotting.

  He was already down as the next round cracked overhead.

  “Right,” Lasko muttered. “If that’s the way you want to play it.”

  He had two more hides prepared. Time to play the game.

  “Sniper teams, engage targets in valley,” Lasko said, thumbing his throat mike. “I’ll take the enemy sniper.”

  * * *

  Mike triggered a burst into the group of principles, trying for the distant figure that he assumed to be Sergei. The man was next to Arensky, anyway. Arensky and Al-Kariya were easy to spot. Neither one of them looked as if they knew what to do in the firefight that was erupting around them.

  What he got, instead, were the two guards who moved to place themselves by the principles. It was the right move but it cost them their lives.

  Sergei snatched the case away from Arensky and picked him up by the collar, pounding towards the nearest vehicle as the mujaheddin closed in around Al-Kariya and began firing at the Russians.

  Suddenly it was a free-for-all. Both groups, highly suspicious of each other, thought that they had been betrayed. The Russians were laying down fire on the fedayeen as the fedayeen backed up to their vehicles. Rounds were cracking downrange in both directions as Mike leapt to his feet and began pounding towards the retreating Russian.

  Mike had counted on that. He figured when things went south, especially if it was from fire within the area, they would start fighting each other.

  Neither group noticed, until too late, that they were being attacked from behind.

  * * *

  “Back!” Rashid shouted, drawing a pistol out of his robes.

  He couldn’t see who had fired but the explosion looked as if it must have been a rocket launcher and some of the Russians were down. The pig Sergei Rudenko had dragged the doctor, and the smallpox, away. The Russians were clearly attacking them, it was time to run.

  “Protect Al-Kariya!” Haza shouted at the same moment, dropping to a knee and firing at the Russians on the other side of the open area. The fire from the SK-74 was short, controlled bursts. He fired twice then rolled to the side towards the riverbed, up on a knee, two more bursts.

  Rashid grabbed the money-man by the arm and started backing away, firing his pistol in the general direction of the Russians.

  “Come Haji Al-Kariya!” Rashid said but Al-Kariya had already picked up the hem of his robe and turned to the rear, breaking into a rather fast run for a man of his bulk.

  The fedayeen guards were moving forward, their training in such a situation to be to counter-attack then withdraw. They were having to fire around the principles but they were all more than capable of doing so.

  Rashid made it to the relative safety of the first pick-up in line and ran to the rear, dropping down and fumbling for a magazine.

  “We must get the smallpox,” Al-Kariya said. He had dropped into the mud of the road next to the younger financier and was panting heavily. “We must.”

  “The money is in the road back there,” Rashid snarled. “We have to get that.”

  “To the devil with the money,” Al-Kariya said, hefting himself to his feet as the last of the fedayeen dashed forward. “The smallpox is what matters!”

  “Haza will get it if it is possible,” Rashid assured him. “I will go forward and tell him.” The younger man had just seated the magazine, it was not a natural thing for him, and looked up into the barrel of a weapon.

  “Tell him what,
pray?” a camouflage clad figure asked in passable Arabic.

  Rashid carefully set the pistol on the ground.

  “Uh, sayyidi, you might want to raise your hands. Very slowly.”

  * * *

  Mike pounded across the open area, trying to look like a guard closing in to secure his principle. As he did, he started taking fire from the fedayeen, some of it damned close.

  “Uh, guys,” Mike panted, keying his throat mike. “I could use some fucking FIRE here! And be aware that I’m in the middle of this gunfight!”

  * * *

  “Move! Move!” Sawn shouted as the Keldara boiled out of the streambed.

  They were practically on top of the rear Russian vehicles. The Russians were concentrated on their firefight with the fedayeen and at first didn’t even notice the fire coming in from behind. Guys were dying in the rain. When a person’s hit, they generally fall forward whether they’re hit from the back or the front. And most of them had guys behind them firing past them. Most of them were snuggled into the dubious cover of the trucks, anyway. As were the fedayeen.

  Sawn bounded forward and triggered a three round burst into the broad back of a Russian crouched into the wheel-well of one of the Mercedes SUVs. The fighter slumped into the wheel and his weapon fell to the ground out of slack fingers.

  As Sawn moved forward, shooting another Russian in the back who had been firing around the next vehicle in line, Sawn’s number two pumped another burst into the Russian, just to make sure.

  Some of them seemed to notice the fire from behind them, a few turned around. But by then it was too late. The Keldara were bounding forward in two man teams, spread on either side of the trucks, engaging targets with their backs turned who were concentrated on firing to their front. It was almost too easy. It wasn’t a firefight, it was a slaughter.

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