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Topics - Sundance

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13
General Joe Talk / New fan-fic: Always Faithful
« on: October 07, 2014, 11:09:55 AM »
G.I. Joe Headquarters
P.I.T. III, Utah
May, 1996

Jarhead stood near one of the Quonset huts that formed part of the aboveground portion of the Joes? home base. The distant sound of the Tomahawk?s rotors was getting closer. Hawk, General Flagg and Duke were standing nearer to the landing zone. Whilst Hawk was the commanding officer, Flagg was his new Executive Officer. Flagg?s father had once been CO of the Joes, alongside the near-legendary General ?Iron Butt? Austin. Flagg was one of two new staff officers added to the Joes since the unit had been reformed.

As he awaited the arrival of the Tomahawk, Jarhead?s attention wandered back to his own history with the Joes.

Jarhead had volunteered for Joe selection in 1989, after learning, much to his disgust, that only four US Marines were serving with the Joes. After completing selection, he and some of the other successful candidates had instead been assigned to a secret joint GI Joe-CIA programme called ?Steel Brigade?. That was a five-year assignment as an undercover operative in a non-friendly nation to set up and maintain safe houses and equipment caches that could be used by the Joes or other Special Operations Forces in a given country. The Steel Brigade troopers were promised a position in the main Joe unit once their assignments were complete.

Four years into his assignment, Jarhead had nearly quit when DOD bureaucrats and misguided Generals had conspired to shut down the Joes, claiming Cobra was no longer a credible threat. Jarhead?s cell leader had persuaded him to stay. That had proved to be a lucky break for the Marine as the following year, his cell had been tasked to assist in locating the headquarters of the Red Shadows, a European terrorist organisation which had perpetrated the worse terrorist attack in American history with an assault on Washington DC. The GI Joe team had been reactivated by Presidential decree. When the Shadows? base had been assaulted, Jarhead had been part of the multinational assault team. He and his fellow Brigade troopers had since been promoted to the main Joe force.

Instead of being one of six Joes, he was one of five. Whilst Leatherneck, Gung-Ho and Mainframe had returned and two new Marines joined ? Jarhead and the marksman Hollow-point ? the infamous drill instructor Sergeant Slaughter had opted to remain at the USMC training depot at Parris Island to see out the rest of his hitch before retiring from the Marines.

Now, though, the US Marines were about to get their biggest boost yet in the Joes.

The Tomahawk helicopter descended smoothly to land amid a cloud of sand before its engines whined down. The dust cloud settled and eight new Joes stepped from the helicopter.

Jarhead moved closer to watch as Hawk greeted them.

The first man was a Black man who looked like he should be playing defence for the Vikings, Jarhead thought.

?Technical Sergeant Guardian Angel, sir,? he introduced himself. ?Pararescue.?

Hawk returned his salute. ?Welcome to the Joes, Tech Sergeant. Pararescue is role we?ve sadly not filled before.?

Guardian Angel smiled, ?Glad to rectify that for you, sir.?

The pararescueman moved aside, to show the next man in line, a white man in similar green camo. Unlike Guardian Angel, though, his beret was scarlet rather than maroon.

?Senior Airman Steel Rain, sir. Forward Air Control and Combat Air Control.?

Again, Hawk returned the salute. ?Welcome to the Joes. Congratulations to both of you; you?re the first enlisted Air Force personnel we?ve had in the Joes.?

?Thank you, sir,? Guardian Angel said.

?Who?s been doing your forward air control, then?? Steel Rain asked.

Jarhead noticed Duke cough and look away, seeming embarrassed.

?Uh, no one,? Hawk replied.

Steel Rain grinned. ?Well, then I can guaren-goddamn-tee your air support?s effectiveness is going to go through the roof with me on board, sir.?

?That?s why we recruited you, Airman,? General Flagg put in.

Steel Rain stepped aside. Next up was the first of the new US Marines, Jarhead saw. A burly white guy who looked no-nonsense, wearing a drill instructor?s campaign hat over his close-cropped black hair.

?Sir, Master Gunnery Sergeant Devil Dog, reporting as ordered, sir.?

?At ease, Master Guns,? Hawk said as he returned Devil Dog?s salute. ?Kindly introduce General Flagg and Sergeant-Major Duke to your team.?

?Sir, yessir,? Devil Dog replied, barely shifting his stance to ?at ease?. ?As well as myself as Raider team leader, my team includes Gunnery Sergeant Buccaneer, our machine-gunner.?

Buccaneer was another white guy, with brown hair. He looked like he worked out, but was nowhere near as burly as Guardian Angel or Devil Dog.

?Gunnery Sergeant Bullseye, our designated marksman.?

Bullseye was a slimmer, more athletic looking Black guy who saluted so slowly it was like watching a glacier move. He was the only one of the new Joes with a weapon, his rifle slung over his shoulder.

?Lance Corporal Long Wave, our signaller.?

Long Wave was Hispanic, with close-cropped black hair. Unlike everyone else, he carried his kitbag. On his back, he wore what was clearly a radio pack.

?Lance Corporal,? Duke cut in, ?Why are you carrying your radio? We have all your gear here.?

?Sir, my radio is not standard issue, sir.? Long Wave set down his kitbag and removed the radio pack. ?Sir, I am not just a signaller, I specialise in Radio Recon, which is tactical signals intelligence and electronic warfare. My gear is modified to suit my job, sir.?

Duke nodded, ?Fair enough.?

?Lance Corporal Landmine,? Devil Dog went on, ?Raider demolitions and EOD.?

Landmine was another white guy, with brown hair and a air of cynicism about him.

?And finally, but not least, Petty Officer First Aid, our Corpsman.?

First Aid was the only one not wearing Marine camouflage uniform, instead he wore tan fatigues and his blonde hair was slightly longer than the Marines. Jarhead figured this was unsurprising since he was a US Navy NCO rather than a Marine. The US Marines relied on Navy medics, rather than having their own. Which was something of an oddity, it had to be admitted, Jarhead thought.

?Welcome to the Joes,? Hawk said to all of them, ?Our new amphibious recon unit, the Marine Raiders.?

Hawk led the Joes toward the Quonset hut with the entrance to the underground portion of the P.I.T. III complex. As they passed Jarhead, he snapped to attention and saluted. Hawk, Flagg and Duke returned the salute, but Jarhead held it for Devil Dog. The Raider leader stopped.

?So, who?s this?? he asked, taking in Jarhead?s Marine issue fatigues and the Eagle, globe and anchor emblem on his cap.

?Sir, Sergeant Jarhead, Force Recon Marine, sir,? Jarhead answered.

Devil Dog looked over to Hawk, who?d stopped and looked around. ?You already got a Recon Marine here?? he asked. ?How come he ain?t in my team??

Hawk turned around properly to address Devil Dog. ?We have a few other Marines, here. I recruited you and worked with you to put the Raiders together to be a coherent, semi-independent group. Jarhead?s already spent time with the Joes, like the others. We might look at putting the others with you on ops as necessary, but for now, your Raiders team operates alone.?

Devil Dog shrugged, an unusual response. He looked back to Jarhead.

?So, how come you?re out here, son?? he asked.

?Sir, I came to welcome our new Marines and to celebrate the USMC finally reaching double figures on the Joe roster, sir.?

?Ten Marines?? asked Bullseye. ?Is that all??

?Yes, gunny,? Jarhead answered. ?Myself, you five, plus four others. Leatherneck and Gung-Ho, two riflemen. They?re both Master Sergeants. Sergeant Mainframe is a computers specialist and Staff Sergeant Hollow-point, a sniper.?

Steel Rain pushed past the Marines. ?So how many Air Force guys we got??

Jarhead threw a look at Hawk before replying, ?With you and the tech sergeant: seven.?

?Seven?? Steel Rain asked, incredulously. ?You got five flyboys in this outfit plus us two??

Hawk nodded. ?We did have more. We lost one pilot in Benzheen a few years back. Another was killed during the Red Shadows War. Our three astronauts were all Air Force, but they?re busy with NASA and didn?t return to the Joes. We?ve added one new pilot since the reformation; Freestyle, our first female pilot.?

Steel Rain and Guardian Angel exchanged incredulous glances. ?Damn, I thought the Joes had loads of fly-boys.?

?We had Navy aviators flying Skystrikers for us from the aircraft carrier USS Flagg,? Duke put in, ?But since she was transferred to the Navy, we don?t have access to them. Those pilots were never on our roster, anyway.?

?How many Navy personnel you got?? First Aid put in.

?You make twelve,? Duke replied. ?Six SEALs, one UDT specialist, a deep-sea diver, a Swick and two Naval assault specialists. The only Naval Joe we?ve lost is Admiral Keel-Haul, the CO of our carrier. He retired. The rest of the crew were never on the roster. We?ve added three new SEALs and the UDT specialist. Shipwreck, our sailor, retrained as a Swick during the year off.?

?What?s a Swick?? Guardian Angel asked.

?SWCC crewman,? Duke replied, ?Special Warfare Combatant Craft. Basically fast, heavily armed boats designed to operate in rivers and shallow coastal waters to deliver SEALs or other commandos to their drop off points or to extract them from a hostile area.?

?If we?re done lallygagging,? Hawk said. ?I?d like to brief the Raiders for their first mission. Jarhead, make yourself useful and show the newbies to their bunks.?

?Sir, yessir!? Jarhead barked.

Hawk led the way into the Quonset hut, heading down the hidden staircase to the underground portion of the base.

In a conference room, Hawk introduced the Raiders to Colonel Courage, the team?s operations officer.

?Colonel, kindly brief the Raiders in on the current global situation the Joes are facing.?

?Yes, General.? Colonel Courage was a Black full-bird colonel dressed in a neatly pressed Army service uniform, all his buttons shiny and his boots gleaming.

Colonel Courage explained how Cobra had been defeated by Action Force in Europe in 1994, forcing the survivors to relocate to Cobra Island, how the main threat over the last year had been the Cobra splinter group known as The Coil; how the Coil had been attempting to acquire nuclear and chemical weapons, only to be thwarted by both the Oktober Guard and Action Force. The colonel went on to explain how the Coil had kidnapped an American weapons designer, who was rescued by the Joes and how in recent months the Coil had taken hostage EU defence ministers in Sweden and Russian diplomats in Armenia.

He then explained that Cobra had been quiet except for hijacking an oil platform late the previous year.

Hawk stepped up to take up the briefing.

?This is where you come in. I don?t trust Cobra. They?ve been too quiet for too long. We expected them to spend time licking their wounds and rebuilding after the kicking they took in Europe, but not this long. You?re being sent into Cobra Island for a covert recon, see what you can find out. You insert via boat and will extract via same. If anything goes wrong, we might have to try pulling you out by air. Your rules of engagement are to only fire if fired upon. This is a black op, if you can get in and out without being seen all the better. Long Wave, you?re especially going to be trying to crack Cobra?s encryption on their communications and listen in on them,? Hawk explained.

?Sir, why us?? Devil Dog asked. ?You?ve got SEALs and Army Special Forces guys, why not use them??

Hawk smiled, ?I thought you Marines would be itching to prove how hot you are? It?s for two reasons, really. One: this mission is projected to last for several days, if not over a week. You?re going to have to sneak around across the island to investigate the airfield, the Cobra city and other facilities. That?s all going to take time. Time I don?t want us to be without either the SEALs or the Green Berets. Two: in the event this mission goes south, I want the SEALs and the Green Berets available to pull you out.?

14
General Joe Talk / GI Joe Spec Ops: The Raid: Q Force VS Headhunters
« on: April 10, 2014, 04:36:04 PM »
Q-Force submarine, Nautilus
Somewhere in the Caribbean Sea
15 July, 1996

The Q-Force submarine slid silently through the tropical waters of the Caribbean, her nuclear reactor easily producing the power to maintain her speed of twenty knots. The Nautilus was virtually silent as she headed toward her destination.

In the attack centre, the submarine’s control room, her commanding officer was standing at the navigator’s table with the six men of Q-Force’s elite Aquatrooper squad. Leviathan gestured to the map on the table.

“This is the island of Nueva Galicia, a small country in the Caribbean, former Spanish colony,” Leviathan began.

Immediately, five of the Aquatroopers turned to look at the newest member, Trident. The Spaniard stared back at the group.

Leviathan cleared his throat and the others looked back at him.

“Nueva Galicia gained independence from Spain in 1824, during the Napoleonic Wars,” Leviathan explained. “The same era when Spain was busy losing all it’s South American colonies.”

“Hardly our fault,” Trident interjected. “What with having been thrown into chaos thanks to that short Corsican.” He gave Shark, the French Aquatrooper leader a sour look.

Shark said nothing, but looked back at Leviathan.

“The island,” Leviathan went on, “is pretty small, smaller than Barbados for example. Population is 175,000. Military forces are nearly non-existent; they’ve got a Nueva Galician Defence Force, which translates as a battalion of infantry, a few mortar teams, some anti-tank weapons and an air component shared with the local Coast Guard and police force. Said air element comprises ten UH-1 Hueys, which they can bolt door guns on if needed.”

Fathom grinned at Leviathan. “So what do they need the bad boys of Q Force for?”

Leviathan reached under the map and pulled out a document folder. “Last month, the NGDF noticed a lot of planes flying into the northern forest region. A region with no airstrip or inhabitants. A squad of troops was deployed to the area. The squad spent a week reconnoitring the area.”

Leviathan pulled out several photos as he spoke, slapping them down on the map. “They found a camp belonging to the Headhunters, the South American narcotics cartel operating across the continent. The Headhunters had set up a rough field airstrip and were also building a small dock area. Machine-gun nests and mortar pits were already dug and weapons set. The squad leader kept an eye on the place for two days before bugging out with his men and calling for extraction. A larger force went in, a heliborne assault. They lost twenty out of the forty men. The Headhunters are heavily armed.”

The photos Leviathan had set down showed the camp, a piston-powered plane sat on the runway being refuelled, a pair of speedboats at the jetties and heavily armed Headhunters walking around several shack-like buildings and sandbagged weapons positions.

“The local government put in a request to Action Force HQ for assistance. It’s taken the last two weeks to get the sub here and then get you out here,” Leviathan went on. “Your mission is simple: infiltrate the camp, eliminate the Headhunters and destroy any narcotics on site.”

“Just a straight up search and destroy?” Fathom put in. “Why not just whistle up some Skystrikers from Space Force or some of our own Ospreys and frag the place?”

Leviathan shuffled the photos and smirked as he pulled one out. “Glad you reminded me, Fathom.”

He put the photo down. The man in the photo wore square-lens sunglasses and had dirty blonde hair worn in a ponytail. Stubble decorated his face below the mutton chops on his cheeks. A sneer curled his lips.

“This is Gristle, believed to be the number 2 man in the Headhunters. He’s believed to be running the show after their number one guy was captured by the Americans. His real name is Danimal Rogers. Born in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Known to have worked up from a low-level thug to a mid-level enforcer with gangs in Jamaica before moving to the US and working with various gangs across the country before he was recruited into the Headhunters. His rap sheet is longer than your arm; arms smuggling, narcotics smuggling, murder, assault, illegal possession of firearms, drug dealing, tax evasion, driving without a license, grand theft auto.”

“He’s an ugly sod, too,” Riptide put in.

The other Aquatroopers all laughed at that.

“He’s the reason we’re sending you in and not just having someone like Tomcat drop a five-hundred pound care package of high ex on the place. The Americans want him alive, preferably in one piece.” Leviathan passed the photo to Shark. “Ugly as he is, memorise the face; if you see him in your sights, try not to pull the trigger.”

Shark studied the face before passing the photo to Fathom.

“If you ask me, we ought to shoot him just for that ponytail,” Shark commented.

Leviathan chuckled. “Regardless, we want him alive. Everyone else in the camp is expendable,” he paused as the photo made its way around. “We’ll drop you off one mile off the coast. You infiltrate via Stingray sea sled.”

“Weapons?” asked Fathom, as he often did during mission briefings.

“Suppressed weapons. You’ll need to take them down as covertly as possible to avoid getting swarmed. MP5SWF for most of the team. Who’s your sniper?” Leviathan asked.

“Me,” replied Manta, the Norwegian Aquatrooper.

“You’ll be interested to know we’ve got a Special Weapons Force modified version of the Arctic Warfare sniper rifle. The first examples went to SAS Force and Z Force, but Boffin’s boys finally delivered some to Q Force.”

“Nice!” Manta commented.

“I’d also recommend that one of the squad takes an SWF modified M4, to provide heavier support,” Leviathan said.

“I’ll do that,” Riptide put in quickly. “M4SWF with a 203 grenade launcher, thanks.”

“You did just hear him say ‘covert’ didn’t you?” asked Orca, the German aquatrooper sarcastically.

“Yeah. But if things go pear-shaped, we might need the extra ‘oomph’ of a 203. There’s no such thing as too much firepower.”

Orca shook his head as he turned back to Leviathan.

“We’ll be on station in…” Leviathan paused to look at the navigator, a Dutch lieutenant.

“Forty-six minutes,” the navigator replied, after glancing at his watch.

“So, get geared up and ready,” Leviathan ordered. “Dismissed.”

As the Nautilus arrived at the drop-off point, the six Aquatroopers were standing in the modified submarine’s hangar bay. More properly known as the dive chamber, the bay was part of the submarines hull, fitted out to carry a Sea Lion submersible or Stingray sea-sleds. Large doors in the sub’s spine could open up, allowing the smaller craft to deploy. The Aquatroopers had sealed the watertight hatches behind themselves and geared up in their black covert ops drysuits, instead of the normal bright yellow ‘high visibility’ wetsuits they sometimes wore; closed-circuit breathing apparatus which wouldn’t produce bubbles; flippers and waterproof bags carrying their weapons and other gear.

Hatches opened and water poured into the dive chamber, flooding the room, before the doors opened.

Over their radio headsets, the Aquatroopers heard the voice of the submarine’s diving officer, “Aquatroopers, clear to deploy.”

The team took hold of their sea sleds, shoving themselves upward with kicks against the deck, before starting the small crafts’ engines.

The six Stingrays moved quietly through the waters of the Caribbean. Chugging along at ten knots, it took them nearly ten minutes to cross the mile to the shoreline.

The six Aquatroopers grounded their Stingrays on the bottom, before swimming up to the beach. Crawling out of the surf, the team peered around in the darkness. No sentries or patrols were visible. They quickly stripped off their flippers and closed-circuit breathing apparatus before opening the bags to retrieve their weapons, helmets and night-vision goggles.

The team moved quietly up the beach on to the grass. Ahead of them was the Headhunters’ encampment. The airstrip was to the left, the buildings to the right.

Two machine-gun nests protected the end of the runway. No one was visible in the nests. The team moved up, both nests were empty. C4 demolitions charges were placed on the guns, before Manta moved off toward the wooden tower that apparently functioned as the control tower.

The sniper moved up carefully, finding the tower just as deserted. He took up station in the tower, flipping his night-vision monocle aside to use the sniper rifle’s attached scope.

“No sign of any sentries at the hangar,” he reported quietly on the team’s encrypted radio channel. “I see machine-gun nests at the other end of the runway. They look deserted too.”

“Copy,” Shark replied tersely, as the squad approached a large warehouse-like building.

The team moved in through a side door. Inside the warehouse were several large wooden crates Fathom found a crowbar and pried one of the crates open. Packets of drugs filled the crate.

“Holy Mother of God, there must be a couple of million Marks worth of drugs here,” Orca commented.

“I’ll say,” Fathom agreed. “Twelve crates, each crate…” he tailed off, clearly doing the mathematics in his head. “I’d say probably four million Marks worth. Or about eight million American Dollars, allowing for the exchange rate.”

“Set the C4 charges,” Shark ordered. “It’s all going up in flames.”

The team worked quickly to place C4 charges amongst the crates with remote detonators set.

The Aquatroopers moved out of the warehouse and along to the hangar next to it.

“You’re still clear,” Manta informed them as he scanned the camp from the control tower. “I see sentries at the walled house. Some movement at the canteen. Everything else is clear.”

The hangar stood empty, its doors open to the night air. Heading along the side of the runway, the Aquatroopers came to three large fuel tanks set off to the side of the hangar and runway. Riptide placed charges as Orca jogged across to the two machine-gun nests at the end of the runway and placed charges there.

The team moved onward, swing around to the north of the camp where several shipping containers sat. A swift search of them revealed most of them to be empty.

Ahead of them sat what was clearly the bow of a ship, cut off from the rest of the vessel and turned into a building. A quick check revealed it be a storeroom, housing food and cooking supplies. Shark planted a C4 charge in a machine-gun nest set between the storeroom and the containers. The team moved back toward the coast, moving quietly between two more storage rooms before they reached a barracks room, which was empty. They could hear the loud rock music playing in the bar and canteen further to the west.

Across the ‘street’ from the barracks the team found the Headhunters’ armoury. The team worked swiftly to rig demolitions charges to the building and to booby-trap the doors. Anyone trying to enter would not live long. Further along the pathway between the buildings they found the Headhunters’ communications facility. That was a far more grandiose name than it deserved; it was a shack with two radio sets inside, a tall antenna mast sitting atop the building. Another C4 charge was placed.

Moving on, the Aquatroopers came to another machine-gun nest and two buildings clearly made from the stern of a freighter. Oddly, the name on the hull parts didn’t match that on the bow storeroom.

“Hostiles approaching from the canteen,” Manta reported. “Looks like twenty to thirty of them heading your way.”

Shark looked at the others, they all looked tense, but ready.

“Fathom, detonate the charges.”

Fathom pulled out the detonator. He hit the button; explosions rocked the night.

“That got their attention,” Manta reported. “Headhunters coming out of the canteen. The warehouse is on fire, as are the fuel tanks.”

“Manta, start shooting anyone you can get a line on. Everyone else, get ready,” Shark ordered.

15
General Joe Talk / GI Joe: Spec Ops: Brownout!
« on: February 14, 2014, 03:38:07 PM »

Ishmali Emirate,
The Middle East
April 3, 1996

Alpha Dog sat next to the truck at the side of the Ishmali airbase’s main runway, trying not to do anything to start himself sweating. The one-time Delta Force soldier was now one of the newest members of the full GI Joe unit, after being a member of the joint Joe/CIA task force known as Steel Brigade. Alpha Dog glanced to his left to see Dusty, the team’s desert warfare specialist leaning against a convenient Humvee, apparently at his ease. Dial-Tone was listening to the local air traffic control frequency on his radio set as he stood sweating in the shadows. Captain Falcon, the leader of the team that had been sent here for a desert warfare training exercise, was dozing in the shade of the same truck as Alpha Dog.

Dial-Tone’s head suddenly came up. “Helicopter’s inbound. Five minutes,” he announced.

Alpha Dog suppressed a sigh. He hated hot weather like this. He’d been glad to be assigned to the cooler climes of the Caucus region in Steel Brigade. The team shuffled to their feet and collected their gear.

Moments later, an Ishmali Air Force CH-47 Chinook roared into sight, flared and then dropped to the runway near them. The twin-rotor helicopter’s rear ramp dropped and the crew chief stepped down it and waved to the Joes.

The team jogged across to the helicopter and quickly found seats. The Chinook lifted off at the crew chief’s word that the Joes were on board. Sitting in one of the seats already was Airtight, who Alpha Dog had briefly met back at the PIT, GI Joe’s headquarters beneath the Utah desert.

The other Joes pulled on intercom headsets as Airtight opened an attaché case and passed around manila folders.

“Welcome aboard, Joes,” Airtight said. “This mission’s a hot one, so excuse me briefing you.”

“How’d you get here so fast, Airtight?” Dial-Tone asked. “We left you back in Utah yesterday.”

“Two Skystrikers,” Airtight answered. “Ace flew me from Utah to France on one, with two in-flight refuellings on the way. An Action Force Skystriker got me from France to Ishmal with a brief refuelling stop in Cyprus, courtesy of one of the RAF bases.” Airtight grinned, “In-flight refuelling is nerve-wracking.”

Airtight gestured at the folders, opening one of his own. “The photo in the front of your file is of an experimental recon satellite, codename ‘Eagle Eye’. She’s nuclear powered, rather than relying on photovoltaic solar panels.” Airtight paused as the others looked at the satellite.

“She was hit last night by a meteor and crashed in the deserts of Trucial Abysmia, twenty miles south of an airstrip controlled by forces loyal to Colonel Sharif,” Airtight went on. “Our mission is to insert near the airstrip, locate the satellite and secure the onboard hard-drives and shut down the nuclear power core. Telemetry received by NASA and the Air Force indicates the core is unstable and may attain critical mass in the next five to six hours. Dial-Tone and I are the only ones who will approach the satellite inside the hanger it’s now in. Dial-Tone will secure the onboard data units; I will shut down the nuclear core. The rest of you will provide security.”

“Uh, what?” Dial-Tone asked.

“Don’t worry,” Airtight said quickly, “We’ve got Hazmat suits. You and I go in, you secure the data and I’ll work on the core.” He pointed to a large metal box next to him, “Lead-lined box for the nuclear material. It’s fine.”

Alpha Dog noticed that Dial-Tone didn’t look particularly reassured. So did Airtight, apparently.

“You’re the only guy we’ve got who can do this, man,” Airtight said. “It’s one of the main reasons Hawk picked you guys to do this, you’re the best one for the job of retrieving the hard-drives and you’re already close.”

Dial-Tone didn’t look remotely mollified, but simply said, “Fine.”

Airtight flipped to the second image in the file. “Second image is a photo from a KH-11 satellite of the airstrip in question,” he went on. “Single runway strip, a few hangars for MiGs and support buildings. Security appears to be a platoon of infantry, reinforced by three BTR vehicles.”

Alpha Dog was studying the image closely. The airstrip had a paved road leading to a gate on its north side, with two guard-posts. An unpaved road led to a smaller gate on the east side. A fence surrounded the complex. Four hangers were on the south side of the runway; a Soviet-built MiG-23 had been caught on the taxiway to the hangars. Tags on the photo identified the three armoured personnel carriers, as well as fuel tanks, weapons stores, barracks blocks, the ops building and so on.

“How are we inserting?” Dusty asked.

Airtight waved to the helicopter they were in. “We’re inbound now,” he replied. “Courtesy of the Ishmali Air Force’s Special Aviation Operations Squadron. Don’t worry, these guys are good. They trained with the Brits.”

“Don’t forget, we also hired instructors from your Night Stalkers regiment,” the crew chief cut in on the intercom.

Falcon grinned. “You boys didn’t try hiring Lift-Ticket did you?”

“Not that I know of,” the crew chief replied. “They hired guys after they retired.”

“ETA is two hours,” the co-pilot added.

“We’re landing near the airfield, the other side of a hill, then moving in on foot,” Airtight went on. “In, out as fast as we can, the helicopter will pull back to a holding point and come extract us as needed.”

“What’s our ROE?” Alpha Dog asked.

“Rules of engagement are that the whole airstrip is a free-fire zone. Anyone not us is a valid target.”

Trucial Abysmia
Two hours later

The Chinook hovered above the desert, allowing the Joes to trot down the ramp. It quickly lifted off and sped away, flying low.

Alpha Dog looked off to the east of the airfield.

“Hey, Dusty,” he called. “What’s that?”

Dusty followed his pointed arm. A brown cloud blotted out the horizon.

“Sandstorm!” Dusty called. “Get your goggles and scarves on!”

The team hastily donned the shemag scarves they carried as well as their goggles.

The sandstorm was barrelling across the desert at high speed. Dusty activated his throat mike.

“We can still pull this off, the sandstorm will cover us.”

The team headed out at a brisk pace across the sand, Dusty leading the way.

It took only a few minutes for the sandstorm to sweep across them and the airfield, swamping everything in a brown cloud of flying sand.

The team reached the perimeter fence of the camp, bunching up in order to keep one another in sight. Dusty led them to the small gateway, where they were easily able to duck under the boom barrier.

Dusty paused as he tried to get his bearings. The swirling sand made it easy to get lost.

Next to him, Airtight fumbled in his webbing gear and pulled out a small gadget with a screen at the top. A blue dot was on the screen at the ‘two o’clock’ position.

Airtight nudged Dusty and showed him the screen. “Satellite’s this way.”

“Lead the way, Airtight,” Dusty answered.

The team moved off again.

Five minutes later, they’d crossed the small airstrip to the hangar. The main doors were closed, which suited the team. Dial-Tone and Airtight moved to the side of the hangar and found a smaller personnel door. They quickly pulled out the Hazmat suits Falcon and Alpha Dog had been carrying and put them on as the others kept watch.

Once in the suits, Airtight led Dial-Tone to the door. Alpha Dog watched as Airtight carefully opened the door before sticking his head in and peering around. After a moment, the pair disappeared inside.

“Dusty, move over to the other side of the hangar,” Falcon ordered. “Keep watch. Alpha Dog, stay here. I’ll check the rear of the hangar.”

Alpha Dog nodded and moved closer to the hangar and hunkered down, trying to get out of the worst of the storm.

The Delta operator wondered how long this was all going to take…

Inside the hangar, Airtight and Dial-Tone had entered the vast building devoid of guards. The satellite sat in the middle of the hangar, surrounded by lights atop poles. The pair moved closer, Airtight holding out a Geiger counter.

“Low level leakage,” he reported to Dial-Tone. “Better to keep the suits on, though.”

“Copy,” Dial-Tone replied. Airtight noticed he looked nervous, but seemed determined.

Dial-Tone moved carefully around the satellite before stepping closer. “Looks like they’ve already opened up the hatch where the data banks are stored. I’m going to get closer and check them.”

“Fine. I’ll get on with checking the power core.”

Dial-Tone examined the satellite’s innards, peering into the interior with a small penlight.

“It looks like they’ve already pulled the hard-drives,” Dial-Tone said. “That’s going to be a problem.”

Airtight didn’t respond at first, he was too busy unscrewing an access panel on the satellite’s side.

“Try looking in the office upstairs,” Airtight said, gesturing toward a set of stairs at the side of the hangar leading to a small office above the ground. “I’ll keep working here.”

Dial-Tone hurried over and up the stairs. Airtight finally opened the access panel the power core was visibly damaged; the Geiger counter began clicking much louder. Airtight backed away carefully and pulled out a long set of tongs. He kicked open the lid on the lead-lined box and then gingerly unplugged the power core, placed it in the box and kicked the lid shut. As Airtight snapped the latches closed, Dial-Tone ran back down the stairs, a pair of computer hard-drives in his hands.

“We might have a problem,” he told Airtight. “I’m not sure if they’ve cracked the hard-drives.”

Airtight swore. “Better let the Captain know,” he said. “I’m done here, anyway.”


Alpha Dog heard the door opening at the side of the hangar as the winds began to lessen, he turned to see Airtight and Dial-Tone step out and begin to strip off the hazmat suits.

Alpha Dog turned toward Dusty at the opposite side of the hangar and whistled. Amazingly, the veteran desert trooper heard and turned, Alpha Dog waved to him.

The pair rendezvoused with Airtight and Dial-Tone as Falcon reappeared.

“The locals may have cracked the hard-drives’ encryption,” Dial-Tone told them, “They had them wired up to a couple of desktop PCs and seemed to be trying to access individual files on them.”

“Great,” Falcon said, sarcastically. “Did you do anything to the computers?”

“Sure, I pulled out a magnet I had in a pocket and did my damnedest to wipe the hard-drives of the computers. I dunno how well that worked, though.” Dial-Tone shrugged, “I could go back in and frag them with a charge or something to be sure.”

Falcon shook his head, “No, we need to get out of here,” he said. “The sandstorm’s abating. We better book before we get spotted.”

“Gotta agree with that,” Dusty said. “We better move out.”

“Lead the way, then, Sergeant,” Falcon said.

Dusty led them off.

The team was halfway to the gate when one of the soldiers in the guard post came out to look at the abating sand. He shouted to his companion before bringing his AK up to bear.

Alpha Dog didn’t hesitate, he snapped up his own assault rifle and fired a three round burst that hit the guard square in the torso and dropped him into a pile of sand next to the guard shack. The other guard must have hit an alarm button as sirens began to wail across the base. The second guard came out of the shack and opened fire.

The team all dropped to one knee and Falcon, Dusty and Alpha Dog opened fire at the guard almost simultaneously. Nine rounds hit the guard, killing him completely before he barely got a chance to fire.

“Keep moving to the LZ!” Falcon shouted to Airtight and Dial-Tone, “Alpha Dog and I will cover you!”

Both commandos pivoted on their feet and looked for targets.

Several Abysmian soldiers were running toward the Joes, none in range of their assault rifles.

Dusty shouted to them, “We’re at the gate, I’ve got you covered! Fall back!”

Alpha Dog glanced to Falcon who nodded and they both turned and ran to the gate.

A shell flew overhead and blew a geyser of sand into the air. Alpha Dog dropped to the ground and squirmed around to see a BTR armoured carrier rolling toward them, its 20mm cannon fired again. This time, the shell blew a hole in the fence.

“Kilo 7-7, this is Delta, request immediate evac. We’re under fire from a BTR at the edge of the airfield and need immediate extraction,” Dial-Tone radioed to the Chinook.

“Delta, 7-7, we’re on route, but you’re going to have to take out the BTR, we’re not armed.”

“Copy, 7-7,” Dial-Tone answered.

A third shell dropped short of the guard shack.

Alpha Dog opened fire at the armoured personnel carrier, aiming for the driver’s viewport. The bullets bounced off the armour around the window, chipping paint, but not much else.

Next to him, Dusty unslung the AT-4 anti-tank rocket launcher he’d been carrying. He pulled off the protective caps from both ends, brought it up to his shoulder and fired.

The rocket slammed into the APC checking its advance, shoving it sideways slightly.

The turret began to move in the Joes’ direction.

“RUN!” Dusty screamed.

The Joes immediately split up, running in several directions, so that the APC couldn’t target all of them at once. Alpha Dog actually ran toward the BTR, pulling out a fragmentation grenade from his web-gear. He pulled the pin and hurled the grenade at the BTR’s turret. The grenade detonated as it struck the gun, wrecking it.

Alpha Dog immediately span around, nearly falling in the piled sand from the storm, before sprinting away from the BTR carrier.

Dusty and Falcon covered him as he ran toward the guard shack. The trio then sped after Airtight and Dial-Tone who had hunkered down further away from the shack.

The heavy thunder of the Chinook’s rotors began to beat the air as it sped in low across the desert, dropping lower still to pick the team up. On the airfield, one of the MiGs was taxiing to take off.

The Joes sprinted toward the Chinook as it pivoted around. The rear ramp was already down and the commandos ran up the ramp without breaking stride.

The heavy-lift helicopter lifted off as the MiG reached the end of the runway.

As the twin-rotor helicopter thundered across the desert, the MiG-23 ran its engine up to full power, before the pilot tripped the brakes and the ‘Flogger’ began it’s take off run.

Halfway down the runway, the MiG’s engine choked on the sand it had sucked up through the intakes and it flamed out, causing the fighter to roll to a halt near the end of the runway.

The Chinook gained altitude and sped away from the airfield as the Abysmians tried to drag the MiG clear of the runway.

Two hours later, the Chinook landed back in Ishmal without any incident. The Joes disembarked from the helicopter, which was taken off to be refuelled, whilst the crew had a break.

An American C-130 Hercules was parked near the helicopter’s landing spot. As the Joes began walking toward it, they were met by Colonel Courage, an immaculately dressed Black officer in Army class A uniform. The Joes saluted him.

Courage returned the salute. “Welcome back, Joes. I just got here from Germany. We’re flying you back Stateside with that precious cargo.”

“Thanks Colonel,” Airtight said, handing him the lead-lined box. “Could you carry that on to the plane? My arm’s getting tired from holding on to it.”

Airtight walked off, smiling to himself as Colonel Courage tried to hold the box as far away from himself as possible, a distasteful look on his face.

“Don’t worry, sir,” Alpha Dog said, “It’s harmless.”

“Mostly harmless,” Dusty put in.

“Mostly,” Dial-Tone agreed as he followed Airtight.

The colonel exchanged a look with Falcon, who hid his amusement from the Joes’ operations officer. Colonel Courage was well known for his fastidious attention to detail and neatness. Pulling his leg in subtle ways had become a source of amusement for the much less buttoned down members of the Joes. Falcon started to say something, thought better of it and simply headed for the transport, leaving Colonel Courage to follow, still holding the box at arm’s length.

Once the Joes were on board, the C-130 took off, heading east toward America.

16
Malaysian Aerospace Convention
Malaysia
November, 1995

Simon Masters stood in front of the large screens running the advertising video for his company, bored, but trying hard not to show it, as his prospective customers watched.

“ArmsTech Systems is proud to be the fifth largest supplier of military hardware to the United States Armed Forces,” the voice over began. “In addition to supplying night-vision gear and communications equipment to all American services, ArmsTech is also supplier of several vehicles to the US Special Operations unit known as GI Joe.”

After a rotating graphic of the company logo, the image changed to show footage of various Joe vehicles created by ArmsTech. First on the screen was the Wolverine.

“ArmsTech supplied GI Joe with the Wolverine multiple launch rocket system vehicle,” the voice over added as the footage showed the Wolverine launch several rockets and obliterate targets on a firing range.

“The Slugger mobile artillery vehicle,” the footage changed to show the Slugger firing a shell, before panning to show a target building being obliterated.

“The Armadillo mini-tank,” this time, the footage was clearly shot by an amateur and showed the Armadillo speeding through a fun fair, firing at a four-wheel ATV.

“The H.A.V.O.C. assault vehicle,” the footage was again of a firing range, with the HAVOC driving across sand, firing its main guns.

“The Mean Dog and Desert Fox assault vehicles,” more footage of a training exercise with the two vehicles firing their guns.

“As well as co-operating in the development of the Eliminator, Dominator and Marauder vehicles for the Battle Force 2000 group.” The footage showed the Battle Force 2000 vehicles moving across grassy terrain firing at targets.

“ArmsTech Systems are also proud to be one of the leading suppliers of vehicles for the multinational Action Force unit,” this time the first footage showed back-painted Wolverines with yellow trim ripple-firing rockets at several Cobra tanks on an African plain, destroying them. Next it showed green-and-black camouflage painted HAVOCs firing at Cobra Maggot artillery vehicles near an oil terminal. Then it showed similarly painted Armadillos speeding through what was clearly an East European town.

Next to Simon, the Malaysian defence minister leaned closer to him, “Impressive footage of the Action Force vehicles, Mr. Masters.”

Simon turned to him, “Yes, they were far more happy to supply declassified footage to us than the Americans. We had to buy the footage of the Armadillo from a gentleman in New Jersey at a premium price.”

The video continued. “Now, ArmsTech Systems are proud to announce their move into the field of unmanned aerial vehicles, semi-autonomous aircraft capable of operating with no onboard crew.”

The video accompanying the announcement showed animated footage of a sleek black aircraft flying at high speed before pulling into a high-G turn, diving toward the ground and firing two missiles at tanks.

“The XQ-21 Blade is a turbojet powered drone capable of carrying up to 1000 pounds of weapons in two internal bays, carries a 20mm machine-gun in the nose and mounts a sophisticated sensor array, including a multi-mode pulse-Doppler radar, telescopic TV camera, forward-looking infra-red camera and a laser designator. Maximum speed is five hundred miles an hour, with a dive speed of six hundred. The Blade can execute high agility flight manoeuvres including pulling Gs that would kill a human pilot.”

As the voice over spoke, the drone was shown executing sharp turns, climbs and dives, dropping bombs on a bunker, firing air-to-air missiles at a fighter jet and launching a missile into a radar dish.

“Supporting in-flight refuelling, capable of being air-launched from the wing of a large transport and with a low radar cross-section, the Blade is a versatile platform for any country’s Air Force. The internal rotary launchers also allow the same Blade to engage air targets before striking ground vehicles or positions.”

The drone was shown refuelling from another plane, before executing a steep dive, firing an air-to-air missile at a helicopter and then launching a missile at a tank.

“The XQ-21 Blade, coming soon from ArmsTech Systems.”

The video concluded with the company logo once more. Polite applause followed.

“I look forward to seeing the actual Blade drone in operation,” the defence minister said. “Rather than a fancy cartoon and a mock-up,” he indicated where a carbon-fibre life-size model stood behind them.

“The first four prototypes are already being assembled at the factory in Idaho, sir,” Simon replied. “We will be flying the first at the American Nellis test range early next year.”

The defence minister smiled politely, shook his hand and wandered off to another exhibit.

Simon sighed and wished he could head for bed; his jet lag was catching him up.

That night

Simon cleaned his teeth before gratefully climbing into bed and was soon asleep. He didn’t hear the door of his room being picked. He didn’t hear the door open. He didn’t hear the man slowly creep in, take a syringe from his jacket and then inject him.

The man in the suit hauled Simon out of the bed; glad to see he was wearing pyjamas, before slinging Simon over his shoulder.

In the corridor outside the room, two more men in suits waited, carrying automatic pistols.

“How did it go, Massacre?” asked one of the men, quietly.

“Fine, now shut up and get down the stairs.” The man addressed as Massacre was one of Overlord’s newest recruits into The Coil. He was an assassin, recruited for his skills at quietly and covertly killing people. This was the first time he’d actually got so close to a target and then rendered them unconscious instead.

The two Coil troopers led the way down the stairs to a waiting van, they limbed in and headed off.

The next day
Location: Unknown

Simon woke up with a start. He rubbed his eyes and looked around. He suddenly sat bolt upright. He wasn’t in his hotel room. Instead, he was in a concrete walled room, lying on a wooden framed bed with only a mattress to lie on.

Simon climbed to his feet and moved to the metal door. Locked. No surprise, he thought to himself.

He hammered on the door with his fist. “Hey! Let me out!”

After a few minutes of hammering and shouting, he heard footsteps.

The door opened and Simon backed up. Two men entered the cell; both wore green, gold and black uniforms, a two-headed snake emblem on the bandoleer across their left shoulder. A third man followed them in, crowding the small cell.

This man looked older, wearing a more elaborate uniform and a monocle in his right eye. Unlike the two guards, clearly guards with their sub-machine guns, the guy in the monocle wasn’t wearing a black balaclava. Instead, he had a gold coloured bandana across his mouth and nose like a bandit in a cowboy movie.

“Greetings, Doctor Masters. I am Overlord, leader of the Coil. I apologise for the means by which you came here, however I have urgent need of your services.”

Simon frowned at that. “Oh, yeah?”

“Yes. I have been forced to change some of my recent plans due to failures by my associates, so I want you to build me a drone,” Overlord replied.

Simon didn’t like the sound of that. “You want me to build you a Blade?”

Overlord shook his head. “Nothing so elaborate or sophisticated,” he answered. “Come with me.”

Overlord walked out the cell. One of the guards waved Simon after him with his gun. Simon reluctantly followed, the cold concrete floor felt rough on his bare feet.

Overlord led Simon outside the building they had been in and across to a large garage style building. As they walked across the grassy compound, Simon noticed they seemed to be in a rainforest or jungle.

Inside the garage, were two men in similar uniforms to the guards’, but with helmets on.

“These are two of my Mech-Snakes,” Overlord said, waving at them. Seeing Simon’s confused expression, Overlord stopped walking.

“The Coil is a group which has left Cobra and struck out on its own,” he explained. “You’ve heard of Cobra, I assume?”

Simon nodded, “Yeah, I remember hearing about the abduction of Doctor Burkhart, the creation of Cobra Island and the mess after the Joes were involved in the Cobra Island Civil War.”

Despite the mask, Simon could see Overlord was smiling. “Yes, well, as I said, my group has left Cobra behind. Whilst Cobra Commander names his forces ‘Vipers’, mine are ‘Snakes’. Instead of Techno-Vipers, these are Mech-Snakes, as in mechanics. They may lack your MIT and CalTech education, Doctor, but they are trained engineers and mechanics. They will assist you.”

Overlord led Simon to a series of workbenches and tables. A small turbine jet engine sat on one; another was decorated with components of several cameras, computer circuit boards and other parts.

“I want you to build a drone. It doesn’t need to be smart, agile and able to dogfight like the Blade. It has to be able to fly, to fire missiles and to be piloted remotely. There’s plenty of fibreglass around here,” Overlord gestured to sheets of the stuff propped against the wall. “To make your fuselage. I shall return in a week to inspect your progress. Fail and you will die.”

Simon looked at him incredulously. “You want me to build a drone in a week, in a garage with a BOX OF SCRAPS?”

Overlord winced at the shout. “No I expect you to build a drone in three weeks in this garage. I’ll simply be back in a week.”

Simon glared at Overlord as he turned and walked away.

“As I said, Doctor, fail me and you die,” Overlord said over his shoulder.

GI Joe Headquarters
PIT III, Utah
Two days later

Hawk watched the team walk into the briefing room, having managed to arrive before them for once.

Leading the team in was Captain Falcon, the Green Beret looked at ease; his promotion seemed to sit well on him.

Following him was Spearhead, the point man seemed to be still proud at his qualification as a Green Beret during the GI Joe team’s deactivation.

Hit&Run followed Spearhead. The light infantryman looked like he was wondering what the mission held.

Muskrat came next. No doubt the swamp fighter was wondering what his role would be, perhaps forgetting his background before the Joes in jungle warfare.

Lowlight, the team’s sniper and night spotter was next, looking more like his usual self after shaving off his ill-advised beard and reverting back to his natural blonde hair. Hawk tried to remember the bet that the sniper had lost that led to him dying his hair, but his memory failed him.

Repeater followed Lowlight, the older man maintaining a stern expression.

Last of the team that would be on the ground was Tunnel Rat, the light machine-gunner probably didn’t realise it was his EOD training they’d need this time.

Finally, Freestyle entered and shut the door behind her. The Hispanic fighter pilot stood out from the rest of the team, not only as the only woman, but also because of her green flight suit. Freestyle was one of the newest members of the Joe team, having only joined in recent weeks.

“Good morning,” Hawk said as they took seats. He activated the computer linked to the briefing room’s large wall-mounted screen. The first photo appeared. It showed Simon Masters.

“This is Doctor Simon Masters, a graduate of CalTech and MIT, who is the CEO and lead designer for ArmsTech Systems, one of the five biggest military suppliers for the US military and creators of several of our vehicles,” Hawk began. “Masters was attending an air show in Malaysia when he was kidnapped three days ago. Masters’ personal assistant raised the alarm when he didn’t answer his door at their hotel. Local police checked security camera footage and found this,” Next to appear on the screen was a photo of Massacre carrying Masters in the hallway.

17
Off Topic / happy new year
« on: January 01, 2014, 08:40:52 AM »
one and all!

18
Off Topic / MERRY CHRISTMAS!
« on: December 25, 2013, 02:14:48 AM »
Have a good one, Joe Bros!

19
General Joe Talk / GI Joe Spec Ops: High Seas Hijack: SASF V Black Dragons
« on: December 14, 2013, 02:45:30 AM »
Action Force Operations Base
Australia
November, 1995

The six SAS Force commandos sat in the briefing room, waiting for the secure link to Britain to become active. They’d been deployed to Australia as part of a training exercise when they’d been notified of an urgent mission.

Finally Beaver, the Canadian swimmer/canoeist, saw the screen was showing an animated rotating SAS Force insignia.

“Comms are up, gentlemen,” he said just before the logo was replaced by Eagle in AFHQ, Birmingham.

“Good day, gentlemen,” Eagle began. “I’m sure you won’t mind curtailing your training for a real mission. We’ve received disturbing intelligence from GCHQ and an MI6 asset in North Korea. Before I get to that, I’ll fill you in on some brief back-story.”

Beaver heard Wraith, a Norwegian member of his squad, snigger and turned to glare at him.

“Last month, an SAS Force team assaulted a camp in Somalia belonging to the mercenaries known as Skull Squad. The camp was a transhipment point for chemical weapons smuggled out of Iraq and destined for Europe. The Coil planned to use them in some kind of attack. You all know about the Coil, right?”

“Yes sir,” Beaver replied as Stakeout, the Liverpudlian leader of Boat Patrol, simultaneously said, “Sure do, boss.”

“Good. Saves time. Last week, we were notified by the Oktober Guard they had thwarted an attempt to hijack nuclear warheads by the Skull Squad mercs. Russian intelligence and the presence of Coil FANG helicopters supporting the mercs confirmed the warheads were meant for the Coil. GCHQ intercepted a radio conversation between Overlord and another man at the end of last week. Overlord was mobile, somewhere in Eastern Europe, so they couldn’t pin down his location. The other party was harder to track, the signals boffins reported the message was bouncing off multiple satellites and ground relays. We do know who it was, however, if not where they were. The man was the commander of another, older, mercenary organisation known as the Black Dragons. They’re a cadre of saboteurs and spies who little has been confirmed about, beyond their existence when Action Force captured four of their number in 1991. Overlord’s conversation with the Black Dragon commander consisted largely of a request for ‘supplies’. Said supplies were not elaborated upon, but they agreed to meet in Pyongyang four days ago,” Eagle explained.

Beaver glanced around. The others were all listening intently.

“An MI6 asset in North Korea relayed a message to London. He saw sixty men, mostly Westerners loading an Iranian-flagged freighter with chemical barrels. He believed the barrels to contain chemicals used as precursors to chemicals weapons. Your mission is to intercept the freighter at sea, confirm the presence of said chemicals and ensure they are removed from the vessel or destroyed.”

“What are our rules of engagement?” Stakeout asked.

“Crew expendable,” Eagle replied. “You’ll be flown out to the ship by helicopter and extract via same. The freighter’s underway, two days out of Nampho, in the East China Sea.”

“It’ll take time to get that far from here, sir,” Beaver pointed out.

“That’s fine. Try to reach it before it enters the South China Sea. Should give you a few more days. Information is being forward to you via fax on the ship’s layout and so on for mission planning. Eagle out.”

The communication link was cut off.

Four days later
Luzon Strait, 200 miles south of Taiwan

A severe thunderstorm was raging across the Luzon Strait as the Iranian freighter slowly rumbled its way south toward the South China Sea. Lightning flashed around the skies as rain poured down. The black MH-60K Black Hawk helicopter was nearly invisible in the darkness as it approached the wallowing freighter from the stern. None of its formation lights were on, the flight crew were using image-intensifying night-vision goggles to see, no cabin lights were on.

The Black Hawk was part of a trial into its use by SAS Force. Four had been transferred to the unit from the US Army. This was its first combat deployment.

Evac from Z Force was flying the helicopter, since he was trained in its use. Sitting along side him was Rose, the British Tomahawk pilot.

“Sixty seconds to target,” Rose called across the intercom. “Stand by.”

Stakeout was sitting on the floor of the helicopter cabin, feet dangling out the door. He was studying the freighter through his own night-vision goggles.

“Stick to the plan, guys,” he said over his own intercom headset. “Drop me, Beaver and Wraith at the rear. Frog, Archer and Barracuda drop in once we’ve secured the bridge.”

“Copy,” Evac replied.

The MH-60K hovered above and behind the ship’s superstructure. Stakeout tossed the rope he had on his lap out the door, allowing it to swing free from the anchor-point above his head on the side of the helicopter. He pulled off his headset and plugged in one of the earpieces from his personal radio.

“You’re clear to drop!” Evac shouted.

Stakeout slid down the rope first. Wraith and Beaver followed him down.

“Weapons free,” Stakeout said.

The three commandos moved around the superstructure to the front of the walkway outside the bridge. The three crewmembers on the bridge were clearly visible in the bridge’s lights. The three commandos fired through the glass, killing the three crewmembers.

Stakeout led the team back to the bridge door, which he opened. The trio moved in, pausing only to flip up the NVGs out of the way.

“Bridge secure,” Stakeout reported on his radio. “Team two, clear to descend.”

Stakeout led the way to the door at the other side of the bridge that lead to a stairway, then headed down it, his suppressed MP-5SWF up and ready. Wraith was close on his heels, his own weapon at the ready.

On the next deck they moved along the corridor, weapons at the ready. Reaching the crew quarters, Stakeout eased the door open slowly, before they stepped in. NVGs back in place, they moved to each sleeping crewmember and shot them.

“Crew quarters, secure,” Stakeout reported over the radio.

“Team two on route to engine spaces,” replied Barracuda, his French accent contrasted with Stakeout’s Scouse.

“Team one, moving to secure radio room.”

As they descended to the next deck, they could hear someone singing badly in Norwegian.

“Wraith, take point,” Stakeout ordered.

The other man moved to the front of the trio as they moved along the passageway.

Wraith cocked his head as he listened to the slurred words. He paused as he reached a corner and then leaned out. A crewman was stumbling along the passage, clearly so drunk he could barely walk.

Stakeout stepped up to Wraith as he sighted on the crewman.

“Last call,” Stakeout muttered in Wraith’s ear.

Wraith fired a three round burst, dropping the crewman. “Bottoms up,” he muttered back.

The three commandos moved along the passage to the radio room, which was empty. Stakeout emptied his magazine into the radios before reloading.

“Radio room secure,” Stakeout reported over his own radio. “Moving to the cargo hold.”

“Engine room secure,” Barracuda replied. “Moving to hold.”

The six commandos linked up outside the door leading to the walkway above the first cargo hold.

“Wraith, you’re on point. Frog, cover our six,” Stakeout ordered.

“Sierra Six, this is Blackbird. We’re at joker fuel. Returning to the ship. You’ve got about one hour until we return,” Evac reported.

“Copy that, Blackbird.”

Wraith eased open the door to the walkway. The hold beyond was lit by a pair of lights in the ceiling. Several Black Dragons were visible below.

“Weapons free,” Stakeout said. Wraith, Archer and Stakeout opened fire at the Black Dragons, killing six of them before they had a chance to move. Frog, Barracuda and Beaver opened fire next as the others reloaded.

Two Black Dragons managed to grab AKM assault rifles, but were hit by bursts from four of the commandos before they could even fire.

“Hold secure,” Stakeout announced. “Move up.”

The commandos moved along the walkway to the door to the next cargo hold. Wraith opened the door and moved through. Two Black Dragons were on the walkway in front of him. He dropped to one knee, firing as he did. The lead Black Dragon fell backward into the second. Stakeout came through the door behind Wraith and spotted three Black Dragons on the walkway opposite them. He opened fire as Barracuda stepped through the door.

The second Black Dragon on the team’s walkway shoved aside his dead comrade and struggled to free his AKM, as Wraith moved up and shot him.

Bullets were now pinging off the hull-plates as Stakeout, Barracuda and Archer exchanged fire at the ten Black Dragons below who’d been sat around several fold-up tables, playing cards, chess and other games. Frog and Beaver threw hand grenades at the mercenaries, which blasted apart the tables and three of the Dragons. The others were rapidly cut down.

The doors at the end of each walkway, leading to the final hold opened.

Wraith immediately opened fire, emptying his magazine in several bursts as Black Dragons started to rush through the door.

“Movement right,” Archer reported as he fired at the Black Dragons across from them.

Beaver and Frog shot several more of the mercenaries as the others reloaded.

“Targets down,” reported Frog.

“Hold secure,” Beaver added.

“Tangos down,” agreed Wraith.

“Move up,” Stakeout ordered.

Wraith led the way to the still-open door. He slowed as he approached it.

“Stand by,” Wraith said, pulling out a flash-bang.

“Ready,” the others chorused.

Wraith pulled the pin, threw the grenade and then slammed the door shut.

The boom was still audible despite the closed door. Wraith pulled the door open before dashing through.

Four Black Dragons were on the catwalk on their knees, stunned by the flash-bang. Wraith immediately shot them.

Sitting in the middle of the hold was a pallet with six cylindrical drums on it.

“Looks like our package,” Barracuda commented.

The team scrambled down a ladder to the floor of the hold. Archer picked up a clipboard on the top of the crates.

“Korean, by the looks,” he said, before handing it to Stakeout.

The Scouser stared at the ideograms and then said, “Sure as hell, it’s not Cockney.”

Frog had bent down to examine the drums. “Chemical warning notices in English and Korean,” he said pointing.

“Let me see,” Barracuda said, squatting next to him and pulling a small notepad from his web-gear.

Barracuda examined the warning labels, checked three pages of his notebook and then looked up.

“Bombardier gave me names of chemicals it was possible they were shipping,” he explained to Stakeout.

“Yeah?”

“Oui,” the Frenchman said. “I’ve got matches. Same names.”

“What’s the next step?” Frog asked as he stood back up.

Stakeout checked his watch. “We’ve got about twenty-five minutes until Evac gets back. We need to get these drums up on deck, so they can be loaded aboard the Black Hawk and got out of here.”

The team got to work, moving the pallet with the drums on into the centre of the hold underneath the hatch in the deck, opening the hatch and then using the ship’s crane to hoist the pallet up to the deck.

As the Black Hawk helicopter approached the freighter, Stakeout contacted Evac on his personal radio.

“Chemicals are all secure, Evac. We need you to hoist them aboard the helicopter, so we can get them back to the ship safely,” Stakeout said.

“Roger that,” Evac replied. “Stand by, there’s some bad crosswinds coming off the ship.”

The Black Hawk was now pacing the freighter as it continued to sail on through the storm-tossed sea. Evac had the helicopter in a near hover just off the freighter’s port side.

Rose suddenly called out a warning, “Unidentified aircraft inbound!”

Evac immediately pulled the helicopter up and away from the freighter.

“Two fast movers, coming south at high speed,” Rose went on. “We’re being illuminated by air-search radar!”

“Stakeout! Bogey fast movers inbound, we’re aborting the pick-up,” Evac shouted into the radio. “Stand by!”

The two fighters screamed past over the helicopter and the freighter.

Evac managed to keep the Black Hawk steady in the turbulence from the fighters and the winds of the storm.

“Tracking fighters,” Rose reported, “They’ve still got their radars on, ECM panel’s calling them Chinese Q-5 strike aircraft.”

Evac swore. “They may be carrying anti-ship missiles.”

Rose looked across at him, before hitting her mic, “Strike team, we suspect fighters are Chinese jets with anti-ship weapons, stand by for immediate pick-up!”

On the deck, Stakeout and the rest of the team were straining to see the two fighters, which had looped around and were now speeding in from the south.

The Black Hawk was drifting back toward the freighter when Wraith suddenly saw two flashes of light in the sky.

“Shit! They’ve opened fire!” he yelled. “Get down!”

Evac pulled the Black Hawk away from the freighter as the commandos ran toward the superstructure. Rose had warned him of the missile launch as Wraith had yelled his warning.

The two anti-ship missiles slammed into the side of the freighter, detonating above the waterline. The freighter heeled to the right, before rocking back to the left. The commandos were thrown off their feet by the explosion. The two Chinese fighters sped away to the north.

“Sierra Six, this is Blackbird, come in!”

“The ship’s sinking!” Barracuda yelled. “She’s taking on water!”

“We need to get out of here now!” Archer yelled.

“Sierra Six, come in dammit!”

Stakeout hauled Wraith to his feet. “Blackbird, this is Sierra Six, we need immediate evac, get down here now!”

The Scouser turned to Wraith who had dropped to his knees as the ship rocked as something below decks exploded.

“On your feet, soldier! We are leaving!”

The Black Hawk began to drop toward the freighter’s deck once more.

“Frog, get some C4 on those drums! Blow them up before we go!” Stakeout shouted.

Beaver moved to help Frog as he pulled to small shaped charges from his web-gear.

The Black Hawk hovered only a few feet off the deck; Archer and Barracuda ran across the deck and scrambled aboard. Frog and Beaver soon followed, with Stakeout and Wraith bringing up the rear. Barracuda hauled Beaver aboard with little dignity, the pair crashing on to the helicopter’s deck as Archer grabbed Frog’s arm and pulled him on to the helicopter.

Another explosion shook the ship as Stakeout and Wraith reached the helicopter. Evac slid the helicopter forward to compensate and Stakeout leaped on to the Black Hawk, before turning back to Archer.

The freighter rose up toward the helicopter as it hit another swell. Wraith stepped easily into the Black Hawk.

“Frog, blow the charges!” Stakeout shouted. The SBS commando hit his detonator and the drums exploded.

“Evac, we’re all aboard, go!” Barracuda called.

The MH-60K immediately pulled up and away from the freighter as it began to break apart and slip beneath the waves.

“I guess the Coil are going to need another way to get their chemical weapons,” Beaver commented as he flopped down into one of the seats at the side of the helicopter.

Barracuda snorted. “Maybe they’ll give up and try something else instead.”

Wraith slammed the door shut against the wind and the rain. “Let’s just hope next time, we don’t have to board a bloody freighter in the pouring rain and then get it blown apart under us, eh?”

“Too right, mate,” Frog agreed. “Let some other poor sod deal with it.”

The Black Hawk flew on, rain lashing against it in the darkness.

20
Russia
November, 1995

The ‘Yastreb’ attack helicopter cruised through the Russian skies five thousand feet above and three miles behind the trucks it stalked. The attack helicopter, a heavily modified version of the MiL-28, was tracking its prey thanks to a telescopic camera in the nose. Together with the forward-looking infrared camera, the Yastreb could track targets from miles away and direct its weapons on to them easily. The two-tone grey striped paint scheme marked it out as an Oktober Guard helicopter.

Seated in the rear pilot’s seat, Daina maintained a loose grip on the controls. A repeater screen showed her what the TV camera was aimed at. In the front seat, her new co-pilot/gunner was watching the trucks like an eager bird of prey. Volga was one of the newest members of the Guard, recruited specifically to work with Daina in flying the Oktober Guard’s helicopters. General Iron Bear had insisted to Red Star and Daina it was high time they had a proper co-pilot for Daina, instead of using people cross-trained from other roles. It hadn’t taken any time at all to persuade Daina herself. The recruitment process had taken much more time as many of the male Russian helicopter crews were, in Daina’s words, sexist pigs that wouldn’t serve with a woman pilot. This meant they’d instead recruited Aliona Rhianoff, one of the first women to complete attack helicopter training for the Russian Army. Taking the codename ‘Volga’ from the river in her home city Volgograd, she had become Daina’s new ally in providing helicopter support to the Guard.

“You know, I could easily destroy those trucks with one of our missiles, even from here,” Volga said.

Daina grunted, “Yeah, but we don’t want to scatter nuclear material across the countryside, do we?”

“There is that,” Volga agreed. “We could take them out with the gun turret,” she added.

Daina shrugged, “I know, but Red Star’s hoping these Skull Squad mercenaries are going to meet Coil troops.”

“I would think stopping them getting away with the warheads was more important,” Volga replied.

“There is that,” Daina agreed, “But Red Star’s concerned about why these mercs stole the warheads. After the intelligence we received from Action Force about the attempt to smuggle chemical weapons into Europe, Red Star’s concerned the Skull Squad mercenaries might hand the warheads to the Coil and cause chaos detonating the warheads in Europe and point the blame at Russia.”

Volga grunted. “I hate politics,” she commented.

“It’s not really politics, it’s more about making sure we don’t get blamed for a terrorist attack and a war starting with the West,” Daina replied.

“I suppose,” Volga agreed. She checked the clock on her console. “Time to report in.”

Volga switched from the intercom to her radio, “Yastreb calling Kuvalda One, do you read, over?”

“Kuvalda One copies, Yastreb,” came the reply from Katya, the Oktober Guard’s radio operator and signals intelligence specialist.

“Target vehicles still proceeding along highway as reported, Kuvalda. No change in situation at this time.”

“Copy that, Yastreb. Report in again on schedule or if situation changes, Kuvalda out.”

Two miles west of the town of Chernygory, the vehicle with the call sign ‘Kuvalda One’ was rumbling along the highway, trailed by Kuvalda Two. They were new vehicles in the Oktober Guard’s armoury; eight-wheeled armoured carriers with a pintle-mounted triple-barrel rotary machine-gun and four anti-tank missiles on the roof. They carried seven personnel; driver, gunner, radio operator and four troops in a separate rear compartment.

Kuvalda One was being driven by Sergeant Misha, with Red Star manning the gunner’s position. In the rear troop section were Ruslan, the EOD specialist; Big Bear, the anti-armour specialist; Wong, the sniper and Sergei, the covert ops specialist.

Kuvalda Two was being driven by Yuri, the paratrooper. Lt. Gorky was commanding the second Kuvalda from the gunner’s seat. Nikolai, the recon specialist was at the radio position. In the troop section were Akula, the commando frogman and the other three new members of the Guard: Pasha, the desert warfare specialist; Artem, the Arctic warfare specialist and Dr. Vladimir Chigvintsev, the medic. Shortly after the Guard had rescued Sergei from the Black Dragons, the previous month, General Iron Bear had informed Red Star they needed to have a doctor on the team. The colonel had gone along with the idea quite willingly, given the state the undercover operative had been in when he’d been rescued.

Artem and Pasha had joined around the same time, with Iron Bear reasoning that specialists in those environments would help the team’s training and capabilities.

The two Kuvalda assault vehicles entered Chernygory and rumbled to a halt, just as Volga radioed another update.

“Kuvalda One, this is Yastreb. Trucks are entering Chernygory from the east. Probable destination at this time is the train-yard. They’re heading north-east toward that part of town.”

Katya relayed the report to Red Star.

“Head for the rail-yard, best speed,” Red Star ordered, “Relay that to Two.”

Ten minutes later, the two armoured vehicles rumbled into the car park next to the rail station. The Guard members debarked from the vehicles and assembled with Red Star.

The colonel took a quick look around. “Wong, you’re Team One. I want you up on the water tower on over-watch. Big Bear, take Artem and Pasha and get to the roof of the terminal building. You’re Team Two, on fire support.”

The four soldiers headed off.

“Sergei, Team Three. I want you in civvies loitering in the northern freight loading area. Nikolai, Team Four. Same for you, but over in the south freight loading area. Gorky, take Yuri and Misha and secure the terminal. Stand ready to reinforce as needed, you’re Team Five. Akula, you and I will be here with Katya, Vladimir and Ruslan. We’re Team Six, the command post.”

The commando frogman didn’t look happy at the news, but said nothing as Red Star inspected his PKM light machine-gun.

Katya set aside her AK-74 and set down her radio pack and began setting up her equipment. Vladimir set down his medical pack and leaned casually against the armoured vehicle.

Five minutes later, Volga reported that the trucks were approaching the train yard from the north.

Red Star immediately ordered Nikolai and Team Five to the northern freight loading area.

Sergei watched as the trucks came into the area and pulled up next to a freight car already sitting on the tracks.

“Team Three to all teams, I have visual on trucks,” he reported over his radio. “They appear to be planning to load the warheads on to a freight car.”

“Roger that, Team Three,” Katya replied. “Confirm warheads and Skull Squad troopers when you have visual.”

Sergei didn’t have long to wait as six Skull Squad troopers, dressed in tan uniforms with tan helmets on, dropped from the back of the first truck as the driver got out. Moments later, more Skull Squad troops climbed down from the second truck.

Then Sergei recognised the man climbing down from the second truck, Sergei Eduardovitch Kamarov, the Alpha Group soldier turned mercenary the SVR had confirmed was working for Major Bludd’s small army.

“Alpha target spotted, repeat, Team Three has Alpha target in sight,” Sergei whispered urgently.

“This is Team One, I have a clean shot on Alpha target,” Wong reported

“All teams, hold fire, we want him alive,” Red Star ordered.

“Team Four is moving to Three.”

Sergei hoped Nikolai didn’t draw any attention to them as he crossed the rail yard.

As Sergei watched, Kamarov directed his men in offloading the first of the nuclear warheads they’d stolen from the decommissioning plant.

“Team Three has visual on warhead.”

“Team One confirms, warhead identified,” Wong agreed.

The Skull Squad troops began to move the warhead on to the freight car.

“Team Three, Team Four is at your six, approaching,” Sergei heard Nikolai report as he kept his eyes on the mercenaries.

Nikolai appeared next to Sergei, standing in the shadows of a broken down passenger car on a siding.

“Team Five, move up to join on Team Three. Stand by to move in.”

Both Nikolai and Sergei were watching the Skull Squad troops through the iron sights of their assault rifles as the mercenaries moved the warhead further into the freight car.

Moments later, the two soldiers heard Lt. Gorky over the radio. “Team Five moving in from the south, standing by to capture.”

“Move in and apprehend targets.” Red Star’s terse order was followed by Gorky, Misha and Yuri moving around the freight car, weapons up.

“Halt!” Gorky shouted. “You’re under arrest!”

A Skull Squad trooper in the back of the truck immediately grabbed his AK47 and opened fire.

All three Guards dropped to one knee, barely avoiding being hit.

Nikolai and Sergei both opened fire with their AKM rifles, cutting the mercenary down.

More of the Skull Squad began drawing sidearms or grabbing Kalashnikovs and opening fire.

The Oktober Guard troops returned fire, dropping four of the mercenaries in a hail of fire as Kamarov ducked between the trucks and ran for it.

A sniper shot rang out, taking out a Skull Squad trooper as he leaped from the second truck, with a RPK in his hands.

Next Big Bear cut loose with his PKM from the roof of the terminal building, hosing the engine block of the first truck. As Skull Squad troops tried to return fire at him, Artem and Pasha dropped them with their own weapons fire.

The gun battle continued for a few more moments as the Oktober Guard cut down the Skull Squad mercenaries.

“Yastreb to all teams, we have a visual on Alpha target. He is running east toward the parking lot across the street from the train yard.”

“Roger that, Volga,” Sergei replied. He sprinted from cover, Nikolai close on his heels, heading toward the gates of the freight area.

Kamarov disappeared into the car park as Sergei and Nikolai ran out the train yard gate.

“Team Three, Alpha target is crossing the car park, east-southeast,” Volga reported to them.

The two soldiers sprinted across the road and into the car park.

On board the Yastreb helicopter, Daina checked the radar screen as she kept the helicopter in hover high above the area.

“Damn,” she cursed, “Volga, we’ve got three slow-moving targets coming in from the west. Low altitude, looks like FANGs or Flight Pods.”

Volga’s head came up from peering at the TV monitor relaying the camera view of Kamarov running across the car park.

“We better intercept them, then,” Volga said. “Arming gun turret.”

The Yastreb pivoted around and sped away.

“Yastreb to all ground teams, we have inbound airborne targets. We’re moving to intercept, you’re going to be without air support,” Daina reported over the radio.

The big attack helicopter raced east above the town and crossed into the open countryside.

Ahead of them were four FANGs; Volga identified them with the TV camera.

“Green FANGs,” she told Daina. “Gold stripes on the rotors, gold guns and gold coloured rockets.”

“Sounds like the reports we had on Coil vehicles from the Joes,” Daina commented.

“Gun is mine,” Volga said, making sure Daina knew she was taking control of the weapons systems. “Monocle is on, gun armed.”

Daina nodded to herself as Volga used the helmet-mounted sight to steer the gun turret and readied the weapon.

“You’re clear to fire,” Daina told her.

The other woman wasted no time, as soon as her crosshairs flashed red with a lock, she fired two ten round bursts from the 30mm gun. The bullets punched a series of holes across the side of the lead FANG, hitting below the pilot’s seat and across the rear-mounted engine before striking the rotor blades. The FANG immediately began trailing smoke and plummeted toward the fields below.

Daina whipped the Yastreb around in a tight turn, climbing slightly as she did, to put the FANGs below and in front of the helicopter. Volga steered the turret toward the trailing FANG and fired another ten round burst, smashing holes in the compact helicopter’s tail boom. The destruction of the tail boom wrecked the FANG’s anti-torque capability and sent it into a flat-spin before crashing.

Volga lined up the cannon on the third FANG. The pilot was savvy enough to start S-turns to try and throw off her aim, but Volga simply switched over to full automatic fire and sprayed the FANG with thirty rounds, leading the target so that the FANG simply flew straight into the line of fire, killing the pilot, shredding the engine and hitting the tail boom.

The fourth FANG pilot pulled his craft around in to a turn, before climbing into another tight turn, trying to come around toward the Yastreb. Daina chopped back the throttle, pulled back on the cyclic stick and kicked the pedals to slide the helicopter around at an angle, lining the FANG up in Volga’s sights straight ahead. The Russian immediately fired, the cannon blazing out ten rounds that shredded the pilot, engine and rotor mast. The FANG plunged from the sky.

“All targets destroyed,” Diana reported. “Skies are clear.”

In the car park across the street from the rail-yard, Sergei and Nikolai had Kamarov cornered.

Kamarov was backed up against the chain link fence at the edge of the car park. The two commandos had split apart and were covering him with their weapons.

“Surrender, you traitor,” Sergei ordered him. “You can’t take both of us out, you can’t escape.”

Kamarov’s eyes flicked from one to the other. Both were aiming their AKMs at him with steady arms and unblinking eyes. Kamarov realised the Guardsman was right, there was no way he could shoot both of them, it would take at least three seconds for him to turn from firing at one to hit the other and these two looked so cool that they were just as likely to fire first and panic at their team-mate being shot second.

Swearing inwardly, Kamarov safed his Makarov pistol and then ejected the magazine before dropping both. He slowly raised his hands.

As he put them atop his head, he saw more of the Oktober Guard rushing into the car park. Two of the Guard, he noted, were carrying light machine-guns. Definitely no way out of this he mused to himself…

Overlord’s base of operations
Location: Unknown

Overlord was looking over his plans for the attack he’d been plotting for months, simultaneous strikes on six European capitals with weapons of mass destruction. Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Rome, Brussels and Vienna. All would be struck at the same time. If only he had the damn weapons.

He turned at the sound of running feet outside the ops room. One of his Commo-Snakes charged in the open doors. Overlord had insisted on his Coil troops adopting new names for their roles, not aping Cobra’s ‘Viper Corps’. Commo-Snakes were the communications and signals intelligence operatives.

The Commo-Snake wore green fatigues with black belt and holster like most Coil troops, but his green Tele-Viper’s helmet marked out his role.

“Sir!” the Commo-Snake shouted, “We’ve just intercepted a message in the clear from an Oktober Guard team in the field!”

Overlord raised his hands, palms down. “Calm down, Specialist. Lower your voice and deliver your report with some decorum.”

The Commo-Snake took two deep breaths before continuing. “Intercepts by a Coil group in Russia, sir. Four of our FANGs have been destroyed responding to a request for assistance by a Skull Squad mercenary. The Oktober Guard have captured someone they called ‘Alpha Target’ and report the nuclear warheads stolen by Skull Squad have been secured at Chernygory rail-yard. It seems Major Bludd’s men have failed again.”

Overlord swore under his breath. “No doubt ‘Alpha Target’ was the Russian member of Bludd’s so-called elite cadre. That’s four of his six ‘elite cadre’ he’s lost in two months since we intercepted reports of the capture of Lyle and Shaw and Lukaas’ death.”

Overlord turned away from the Commo-Snake for a moment. This would necessitate a change…

“Contac the leader of the Black Dragons,” Overlord said, turning back. “Let’s see how HIS organisation fares in supplying my needs.”

To be continued…

21
Off Topic / aaaaarrrrgggh...
« on: November 11, 2013, 11:44:44 AM »
i've done something to my right wrist and my heel of my hand is swollen. went to the doctor's, he said the ligaments are inflamed. it's agony. i've got ibuprofen to take. i'm having to use my left hand only to use the PC.

don' be surprised not to see me for a few....

22
General Joe Talk / GI Joe Spec Ops: The Hunted, Joes VS Skull Squad
« on: November 06, 2013, 03:43:21 PM »
GI Joe HQ/P.I.T. III, Utah
August 1995

Hawk stood with Flint, Ambush and Hollow-point in the PIT’s briefing room, looking at a map of Kalingaland.

“A source with the Agency has confirmed Lyle is hiding out in this village in Kalingaland. Since the government declared all Skull Squad members to be traitors and the organisation to be a terror group along with Cobra and The Coil, he seems to have gone to ground. Action Force have already tangled with Skull Squad once,” Hawk explained.

“Oh?” Flint looked up from the map, where Hawk had indicated a small village near a river.

“Last week, they raided a Skull Squad camp in Somalia, where they were transporting chemical weapons from Iraq to Coil operatives in Europe. They captured one of Bludd’s British associates, Robert Shaw, and killed the South African, Neils Lukaas. But like I said, Lyle is our priority. An ex-Green Beret trained in demolitions, covert ops, insurgency operations and a highly skilled hand-to-hand fighter is too dangerous to be allowed roaming around the world associating with terrorists,” Hawk reiterated.

“Does the Agency source say where in the village we find him?” Ambush asked.

Hawk shook his head. “Two possible locations, a building near the edge of the village and another nearer the centre.  The whole area is crawling with militia troops, fighting against the government. Since the Crown Prince’s referendum and subsequent abdication, trouble’s flared up again. Democracy is struggling to take hold. The Kalinga Rouge has been waging genocide in the highlands. Bitter about losing the civil war and more bitter that they did badly in last year’s elections. The whole village is a non-permissive environment and should be considered extremely hostile territory. The government won’t know you’re going in.”

Hawk traced the route of the river to the border. “You’ll insert via Zodiac from the Commonwealth, cross the border on the river and then make your way into the village.”

Flint looked at Hollow-point. “So, looking forward to your first mission with the Joes?”

The Marine sniper gave him a brief smile. “Sounds like fun,” he said completely deadpan. Flint smirked in return.

Hollow-point was one of a number of new members of the GI Joe team since they’d been reformed during the Red Shadows’ assault on Washington earlier in the year. A former range instructor at Quantico’s Marine training centre, Hollow-point was one of two snipers added to the team, but one of only two Marines, along with the former Steel Brigade member Jarhead. Hollow-point had recently returned to the US following a stint in Bosnia on a secret operation and had yet to get rid of his long hair and beard he’d grown during his time in the Balkans.

“Flint, you will lead the team,” Hawk went on. “Hollow-point, your job is over-watch. Ambush backs up Flint to capture Lyle.”

The three men nodded.

“You fly out to the Central African Commonwealth tomorrow. This is a black operation, so no dog-tags, no US clothing and you’ll be taking Soviet-bloc weapons,” Hawk told them. He turned to Hollow-point, “I hope you’re familiar with the SVD Dragunov.”

The Marine nodded, “Yup. Used one in Bosnia.”

“Talks a lot, doesn’t he?” Flint commented to Ambush. The other man grinned under his bushy moustache.

“Makes a change from some Joes,” Ambush replied.

“Well, you need to remember not to talk too much on the mission,” Hawk said. “But you’ll have these,” he took out a small radio with two cables attached. “Latest from ArmsTech Systems. Throat mics that will pick up any quiet speech, in-ear headphones to allow you to hear better, plus digital scramblers and encryption to insure no one can listen in. They’re a step up from our normal gear. You can hear someone talking from a hundred yards like they were whispering in your ear.”

“Cool,” Hollow-point commented.

Kalingaland
Shortly before dawn, the next day

The small rubber dinghy drifted down the river, Flint had cut the engine. The small boat bumped against the bank. Flint slowly climbed from the boat, followed by Ambush, Hollow-point bringing up the rear.

“The village isn’t far from here,” Flint whispered. “Hopefully Lyle will be there. Keep it silent. Let’s move.”

The three men moved quietly through the short grass toward the village visible ahead. Flint was dressed in a brown rough woven shirt and British Army camouflage-pattern trousers and cheap sports shoes. Ambush wore a floppy-brimmed bush hat, a green tunic and tan trousers with similar sports shoes. Hollow-point wore a short-sleeve blue sports shirt, a knock off of a European soccer team, his jeans were similarly an illegal copy of an Asian brand. His sports shoes were also fakes of a designer label. A plain black baseball cap completed his ensemble. He was barely sweating, despite the pre-dawn heat.

“Vehicles approaching,” Ambush warned as he saw two pick-up trucks rumbling along a track to their right. “Get down.”

The three Joes dropped prone in the grass.

“Don’t… move…” Flint whispered.

One of the pick-ups halted and a militia member climbed down, speaking to his fellow passengers before the truck drove off. He began wandering toward the three Joes, his AK47 held loose in his hand, a cigarette dangling from his mouth.

Hollow-point tensed as the militiaman approached. Then he saw Ambush slowly pulling a knife from his belt. The militiaman stopped right next to Ambush, but even as he looked down, the concealment specialist sprang to his feet, whipping his knife up and stabbed the militiaman in the throat. Ambush lowered him to the ground.

“Move,” Flint said, quietly.

The Joes stood up and began moving forward once more.

Within moments, they were near a house at the edge of the village.

“Two hostiles, eleven o’clock,” Ambush whispered.

Sure enough, two militiamen were dragging a third man from the house. One shoved the man to the ground, as the second picked up a can of petrol. He began sprinkling it over the cowering man.

“They’re going to torch the poor bastard,” Ambush whispered, looking at Flint.

“Let’s light them up, before they light him up,” Flint replied. He lifted his AK47 and Hollow-point moved up next to him.

“Allow me,” the Marine said.

The man with the petrol can was standing over his victim, talking to him. He produced a lighter.

Hollow-point put a round through his head. He swiftly pivoted on his foot and dropped the second militiaman with a second round.

The victim stayed put, looking horrified, as the Joes approached him. He suddenly leaped to his feet and ran off, not looking back.

“You’re welcome,” Ambush growled.

“Quiet,” Flint said. “Move up.”

The moved onward, passing a group of four militiamen lining up six villagers in front of twelve more militiamen.

“There’s too many of them for us to engage,” Flint snarled, before the others could say anything. Indeed, two of the militiamen in the firing squad carried Soviet RPD light-machine guns.

“We need to find Lyle and get out of here,” Flint went on. The trio passed on. Behind them they heard the clatter of automatic gunfire. Hollow-point looked at Flint. The Warrant Officer looked like he was ready to disregard his own words and go back, but he kept walking.

All three Joes' heads turned at the sound of approaching vehicles and loud music.

“Get down!” Flint snapped, dropping to the ground. The Warrant Officer crawled into the darker shadows of the nearest building. Ambush seemed to melt into an alley as Hollow-point threw himself over a wall.

“Don’t do anything stupid,” Flint’s voice sounded in Hollow-point’s ear as he lay in the ditch he’d dropped into.

Hollow-point couldn’t see the vehicles, but he could just make out the sound of three engines, they sounded like Toyota pick-ups, under the blaring rap music. The Marine frowned, recognising the familiar sounds of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s ‘1st of tha Month’.

The sounds faded as the vehicles moved away.

“Clear,” Flint said. Hollow-point carefully got to his feet and climbed back across the wall as Ambush and Flint came out of their hiding places.

“Let’s move,” Flint said, heading off.

The three Joes jogged along the edge of the village. Finally, Flint slowed down and they approached a ramshackle shed missing its doors at either end.

The three of them moved toward it, when Flint whispered, “Hold it.”

Ambush waved Hollow-point back as Flint lowered his Kalashnikov on its sling and pulled out a combat knife. A militiaman walked past the door to the shed. Flint’s arm shot out, hauled him back into the shed before he could react and then Flint slammed him into the shed wall before stabbing him. Hollow-point watched as Flint lowered the body to the ground, not out of respect, but necessity that the corpse didn’t make a lot more noise.

“Move up,” Flint said.

“I see the first target building,” Ambush said.

Hollow-point turned to see the building Hawk had shown them a photo of up ahead. The whole village seemed to be subsistence-level poor with a rough and ready construction. Some kid of watchtower was to their left.

“Ambush and I will advance. Hollow-point, you’re on over-watch,” Flint said pointing to the tower. “Get up there and cover us.”

Hollow-point nodded and jogged to the tower, scrambling up the ladder at its side as Flint and Ambush headed up the street.

In the tower was a dozing militiaman. Hollow-point pulled out his K-bar and slit the guy’s throat. Shoving the body aside, he knelt down and brought his rifle up, looking through the scope as Flint and Ambush flattened themselves against the wall of a house.

“Hostiles approaching, five metres,” Flint said over the radio.

Hollow-point didn’t have time to make many adjustments to his rifle’s scope; instead he lined up a snapshot and fired, hitting the first of the two men in the throat. He quickly lined up his second shot as the militiaman turned to his stricken colleague. The shot took its target in the temple.

“Tangos down,” Hollow-point whispered.

“Two more from the west,” Ambush reported. “Take them down.”

Hollow-point adjusted his scope as he turned before lining up his shot. The two men walked into line with each other as Hollow-point fired. Both men dropped.

“Nice shot,” Flint said. “One shot, two kills, never seen that before.”

“I’ve never done that before,” Hollow-point replied.

“Moving up,” Ambush said as he led the way along the street.

Hollow-point made another adjustment to his scope as he tracked the pair up the street.

“Another patrol on the street, take ‘em out quick,” Ambush said.

The Marine sniper fired, quickly adjusting his aim to take the trio out in rapid succession.

“Moving,” Flint reported.

The pair reached the door, quickly separating either side of it.

“Breaching now,” Flint said, before kicking the door in. He and Ambush disappeared into the building.

“Clear,” came Flint’s voice over the radio a moment later. Hollow-point tried to relax, as he realised he was tensing up.

“Clear? This place is bloody deserted,” Ambush replied.

23
General Joe Talk / GI Joe: Special Ops: Men of Action
« on: November 04, 2013, 02:33:34 AM »
GI Joe Headquarters,
PIT III, Utah
May, 1994

Skymate was lounging in a chair in the briefing room when the door opened and Hawk walked in followed by three other people. Skymate stood and saluted.

“At ease, Skymate.” Hawk waved to the other three. “This is Skymate, formerly of the Australian SAS regiment. He was due to join Action Force, but we managed to sign him for a temporary detachment to get our Air Commando team stood up.”

The two men and one woman nodded politely.

“Skymate, allow me to introduce Super Trooper,” Hawk went on, gesturing to a muscular dark hair man who looked like he should be playing front row for a Rugby team to the Australian.

“Super Trooper’s the product of a secret advanced commando training programme the Joes had running. We combined training from the SEALs, Delta and ISA to train a squad of commandos who were capable of operating independently on all kinds of clandestine and covert operations. Unfortunately, the course was so tough it had a 97% failure rate before the final week. Of the three final candidates, one died in a training flight with a Skystriker and the other failed. The captain here is the sole graduate.”

Skymate looked him over; he certainly seemed like he’d know how to handle himself in a fight.

Hawk turned his attention to the other two, as did Skymate. The man had close-cropped black hair, a scar up his right cheek and was leaner than Super Trooper, but looked like he worked out. The woman was equally trim, with a blonde mullet hairstyle.

“Meet Agent Natalie Poole of British Intelligence and her partner, code-name Action Man.”

Skymate frowned as he stared at them. “Hang about, I know you! You’re that bloke off the extreme sports documentary on ESPN! You won the Paris-Dakar Rally two years ago and I heard you won some martial arts contest in China too!”

Action Man nodded. “That’s right. I also skydive, snowboard, do biathlon and rock-climbing and scuba dive. I also ran the Marathon Des Sables.”

“And you’re a British Intelligence agent?” Skymate asked incredulously.

“Yes. Think about it; I’m airborne and frogman qualified, a crack shot, I can drive vehicles in off-road environments and can move about in many hostile environments and I’m trained in hand-to-hand combat.”

Skymate mulled that over. “Huh, good point.” He looked at Natalie. “Aren’t you his girlfriend and trainer or something?”

She nodded, “That’s my public role, sparring partner and frequent trainer and support team leader. I’m actually his partner on operations.”

Skymate looked at Hawk, “So what do you need little old me for?”

Hawk looked at Natalie. She pulled out a photograph.

“This is Wolfgang Greenholtz, an East German biochemist. He was working on a biological weapon for the East Germans to be used in the event of a Third World War against the West German government. Cutting edge stuff, design to infect specific people only,” Natalie explained.

“Okay, sounds nasty.” Skymate looked at the photo. Greenholtz was a grey haired, thin man with the look of a scientist who didn’t get out much.

“Here’s the scary bit,” Natalie went on. “When the Berlin Wall fell, he fled East Germany. MI6 had him on their radar as a person interest thanks to an agent in the Stasi, East Germany’s secret police, so we tried to find him. We finally located him last month, in South-east Asia.”

Action Man pulled out another photo and handed it to Skymate. “Greenholtz has holed up in this fortress,” he explained. “Sitting on a plateau surrounded by triple-canopy tropical rainforest with around two hundred mercenaries protecting him.”

“The only open ground for miles is a hundred yard square devoid of any cover smack-dab in front of the main gate. The plateau cliff is impassable. We tried. Recon over-flights by a variety of small planes were tracked by a radar unit located in the east tower. A night time fly-by was tracked by a spotlight,” Natalie explained. “Visual recon confirms the presence of a ZPU anti-aircraft gun. A helicopter assault is out of the question without attack copter support. Which is impossible in the country he’s hiding out in, which we believe is tacitly supporting him.”

“Parachute insertion is also out,” Action Man took up the thread. “The only possible landing zone is the open ground in front of the fort. Which invites becoming a target for the mounted machine-guns on the walls. A ground assault would similarly be inadvisable unless undertaken by a main battle tank.”

“Why don’t you just toss a couple of cruise missiles at the place?” Skymate asked. “Your subs have got Tridents, right? Take off the nuclear warhead and frag the place.”

Natalie shook her head. “Too risky. There’s a possibility biological agents could be released into the eco-system in that kind of attack.”

“So how do you plan to get in?” Skymate asked.

“That’s why we’ve come to you,” Action Man replied. “There are very few people who know how to use hang-gliders in military operations. You’re the best one we can find.”

Skymate smiled, “Thanks for buttering me up. I presume the idea is to hang-glide into the central courtyard of the fort? That’s certainly possible. Minimal radar profile in the gliders means you’d be barely visible to their radar. Do it at night, increases the risk, but also makes it harder to spot you visually. Especially with black gliders and gear. Silent, so you wouldn’t be heard coming.”

He fell silent as he mulled it over. “You want me to teach you?”

“Not exactly. We want you to lead the insertion and then back us three up in the assault.” Action Man considered his next comment. “I’ll be honest, we spoke to Space Force, they’ve got this jetpack squad they’ve been developing, but they think it’s impossible, but we’re counting on you to do this with the gliders.”

Skymate glanced at Super Trooper; he didn’t look convinced. He looked at Hawk who seemed completely uninterested.

“Okay, it’s going to take a few weeks to train you to fly the gliders, though. At least two just for the basics of launching, flying and landing.”

“The basics are all we need,” Natalie said.

“What’s the plan for extraction?” Skymate asked.

“We’ve got two options there,” Action Man replied. “Either extraction via helicopter once we’ve taken out the ZPU or we blow the wall out and abseil down the cliff.”

Skymate snorted. “Whilst hoping the mercs this guy’s got don’t cut the ropes? I’d suggest helicopter extraction. What are you using to launch?”

“A Hercules.”

“A Herc? Oh, well that makes it harder. See most hang-gliders have a wingspan of over fifteen feet. That’s going to be real hard to fit in a Hercules,” Skymate looked pensive.

“Are you saying it won’t be possible?” Natalie asked.

Skymate grunted, “Using the jet-packs might be easier. Although, I do know of some guys working on something else that might be useable.” He grunted, “Actually, I can think of a couple ideas. I know some guys working on jumpsuits with wings between the torso and arms and between the legs, which allow you to glide after jumping from an aircraft. I don’t think they’re workable at the moment. The other idea is called a wing-pack. It’s basically a backpack with three-foot wide wings attached. The guys I know have at least two working examples.”

“Would we be able to get use of them?” Natalie asked.

“Not bloody likely,” Skymate said. “Unless you want to go to the bother of retrieving them.” He shook his head, “No, our best bet is to see if we can create our own.”

“What will you need?” Hawk asked.

“Lightweight material for the wings, harnesses to attach them to the jumpsuits and standard HALO gear. We’ll have to parachute the last few feet.”

“I’ll get started on getting the gear together,” Hawk said, before leaving.

Two weeks later
Over Utah

The C-130 flew through the air in a lazy turn. Slipstream was flying with Wild Bill in the co-pilot’s seat for this final daytime exercise. The blue sky and sunshine made it an excellent day to go flying.

In the rear of the Hercules, the four commandos were standing ready to jump. Drop Zone from the Sky Patrol team was acting as the jumpmaster. The four team-members wore matte black jumpsuits, boots, helmets and gloves. Similarly coloured body-armour, shin, knee and elbow pads were worn over the jumpsuits. Strapped to their backs were the lightweight carbon-fibre composite wing-packs. They were seven feet wide, hanging from just below the neck to just below the buttocks. Attached to the wing-packs were the team’s low-altitude opening parachutes. The wing-packs were attached to the team’s webbing gear with quick-release catches to allow them to be removed easily.

Skymate was the only one of the four not carrying a Heckler & Koch MP5K submachine gun. Instead, he had a bow strapped to his chest, along with four arrows in a quiver attached to the bow. He also carried a black boomerang on his right hip and a Browning Hi-power pistol on his right thigh. The other three had their MP5Ks strapped to their chests. Whilst Action Man and Natalie both carried the Hi-power in holsters on their right hip, Super Trooper carried a Colt M1911 pistol instead.

Drop Zone suddenly turned his head toward the cockpit, his hand to the headset he wore, then he turned back to the commandos and raised a single finger, bellowing “One minute!”

The red light came on next to the lowered rear ramp. The commandos moved forward. Then the red light flicked off and the green light came on. The team walked off the ramp.

The commandos had dropped out of the plane over two miles from their target, a square marked out in the desert sands, which represented the compound. Their glide ratio meant that for every foot they descended, they travelled sixty-five feet horizontally.

Action Man glanced left and right. Natalie was on his left, Super Trooper to his right. Skymate had the lead.

The four of them powered through the sky at speeds of over a hundred miles an hour, slowly losing altitude as they glided silently across the desert.

Finally, they deployed their parachutes as they reached the point where they need to and drifted in to land inside the target.

The four commandos pulled off their oxygen masks and wing-packs.

“Looks like we’re nearly ready,” Super Trooper commented.

“Looks like.” Skymate nodded as he bundled up his parachute. “We’ll see how the night jumps go.”

Two days later
Somewhere in South-east Asia

The Hercules had penetrated hostile airspace two hours ago, flying high over the rainforest. They were now approaching the jump point.

The same crew were aboard the C-130 as the ramp whined down and the red light came on at one minute to jump.

The team moved forward toward the ramp.

After the night jumps, the team had made a few modifications to their gear. Super Trooper was now carrying four frag grenades in his web gear, whilst Action Man and Natalie both carried two frags and two flash-bangs. The latter pair had also made a minor change to both their wing-packs and their jumpsuits. Whilst Skymate and Super Trooper wore no markings on their clothing or gear, the two British agents wore a small circular patch on their upper arms; it displayed a logo they had painted on the upper right side of their wing-packs. The logo was a stylised A and M joined together, the A coloured orange, the M black, with the A on a black background and the M on grey.

Skymate rolled his eyes behind his goggles as he remembered how they’d insisted on adding the logo.

The green light came on and the thought went from Skymate’s mind as he walked forward and stepped off the ramp.

Blackness surrounded them; it was an overcast night, no moon or stars to make them visible as they flew across the sky.

The carbon fibre wing pack was radar transparent. Their own bodies would not reflect enough radar energy back to give a return that would show up.

Action Man’s heart pounded in his chest as he flew across the night sky, feeling more exhilarated than even a normal skydive did. This was like being a superhero and he loved it. Unheard by anyone else, he let out a scream of delight.

24
Action Force Headquarters,
Birmingham, England
August, 1995

Eagle entered the briefing room to see the team he’d ordered to assemble was waiting for him. Quickfire, his number two man for several years, would lead the team. With him, as usual these last few years, were Kukri and Boonie, two of Quickfire’s SAS Force commando squad. Also present were Desert Rat, SAS Force’s desert warfare specialist; Sparrowhawk, the Belgian paratrooper and Bombardier from Special Weapons Force.

“Good morning, gentlemen. I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is we’re winning the war against Cobra. Cobra Europe was hurt badly by Operation: Cheetah and has yet to fully recover, even after four years. Infighting between Anna Conda and Hades has hurt them as well. The North American arm is hurting as well. The Joes kicked ass until they were disbanded, last year. We kicked Cobra’s backsides in Eastern Europe, hurting them further. They’re hiding on Cobra Island, licking their wounds. The South American arm has been hurt considerably, both by Task Force 282 and by the Red Shadows attacks earlier this year. More good news there; no sign of the Red Shadows since we kicked their backsides out in Georgia. If Black Major did survive, he’s going to be licking his wounds and trying to recruit more Shadows.”

Eagle looked around the group, smiling.

“So, what’s the bad news, Colonel?” asked Boonie.

Eagle’s smiled disappeared. “We’ve been tracking the rise of a new threat. The Coil. A splinter organisation of Cobra troops.”

Eagle turned on the computer at the desk where he was standing and then the wall-mounted monitor that was linked to the computer. He cued up a photo.

“The Coil is led by this man, known only as ‘Overlord’. He’s a former Crimson Guard.”

The image was obviously a surveillance photo taken at a distance, showing a man in a goofy looking gold helmet, a gold bandana across his mouth and nose and wearing a monocle and a green uniform.

“According to intel from the Joes, Overlord split with Cobra shortly after Cobra Commander’s return to the organisation, stealing a prototype assault vehicle in the process. Overlord then spent several months recruiting Cobra members who agreed with his views and mercenaries willing to join his cause,” Eagle went on. He put up a new photo showing three men in green and black uniforms with black masks.

“Many of these Coil troops are well-trained and well armed. The Joes found out about them thanks to the FBI discovering a safehouse in the Appalachians,” Eagle explained. He cued up another photo, showing a large house set among trees with mountains in the distance.

“When the Joes raided the place, they uncovered information on several Coil plots and safe-houses. One of these was a bomb factory in Pakistan. A Joe team took the place out a month after the mission in Georgia.”

Eagle cued up another picture, showing a three storey building in a village.

“About a month after that, The Joes were disbanded. Hawk passed information to the FBI and ATF and those agencies were responsible for raiding the Coil bases in America; bases in various cities including Dallas, LA, New York, Chicago and Miami. The Coil is not done. They’re changing tactics and changing targets.”

Eagle put another photo on the monitor. This one showed a man with close-cropped black hair, an eye-patch and a thin moustache.

“This is Major Sebastian Bludd, former member of the Australian SAS Regiment and late of the French Foreign Legion. Currently operating as a mercenary. Bludd has operated under contract for Cobra, but split with them shortly before their defeat in Europe,” Eagle explained. “Major Bludd is now known to have formed his own mercenary unit, known as Skull Squad. Intelligence gathered by the DGSE and SIS has identified a total of six SF trained mercs working with Bludd.”

Eagle cued up photos of all six men together.

“Sergei Kamarov,” Eagle said indicating a blonde, blue-eyed man in the top left image. “Ex Alpha Group Spetsnaz. His dossier says this guy is a brick outhouse and not someone to be messed with. Hand-to-hand combat is his speciality. He’s a mean bastard.”

Eagle pointed to the next picture, top middle. “Mark Johnson, ex-SAS. One of the best in the regiment who never applied for AF. Sniper specialist.” Johnson had close-cropped brown hair and green eyes. Stubble decorated his chin.

“John Lyle. Ex-Green Beret. Demolitions expert. You can bet the Joes will want to bring him in now they’ve been reactivated. He’s another hand-to-hand expert.” Lyle had intense blue eyes and black hair.

The bottom right picture was next. “Daniel Macomb. French 2e Regiment Etranger Parachutistes. This one’s a nasty one. Kicked out of the Foreign Legion for his treatment of prisoners in Rwanda. The DGSE say he may have met Bludd there. Specialises in commando operations. As well as torture.” Macomb had brown hair, brown eyes and a scar down his right cheek. A sneer curled his lips.

Eagle moved to the middle bottom picture. “Robert Shaw. Former member of 3 Para. Kicked out for repeated insubordination. The file on him says he’s a narcissistic loudmouth who thinks he knows it all. If you slot him, no one will miss him; his parents died in 1983. Widely despised in his platoon. Believe it or not, he’s a field medic.” Shaw had a smug expression on his face, short ginger hair, green eyes and a lot of freckles.

“Finally, we come to Neils Lukaas. South African. Former member of their 44 Pathfinders. Racist doesn’t even begin to cover it. He was kicked out after it emerged he’d raped female prisoners in Angola, tortured men and children and got into fights with two Black members of his own unit, nearly crippling one. His speciality, aside from being a grade-A snot, is recon and infiltration. Feel free to do the world a favour and put rounds in him, too.” Lukaas was brown haired with pale white skin like milk. He looked angry in the photo.

Eagle cued up another photo. “The rest of Skull Squad is made up of gunmen from various mercenary and militia groups from Africa, Central America and South America. How long Lukaas will last with them remains to be seen, given his attitude. Regardless, Bludd and this sinister six are training them up for operations. This camp in Somalia is their current base.”

The photo, clearly taken from a high altitude recon plane, showed a series of buildings inside a perimeter fence with guard towers at the corners and at a gate.

“The camp incorporates IR decoys, radar lures and laser reflectors to discourage a precision missile or bomb strike,” Eagle explained. “Not that it couldn’t just be carpet-bombed with freefall bombs.”

“So why don’t we just bomb the place?” asked Desert Rat. “Send over a few Skystrikers and take the place out?”

“Because DGSE have a mole in Skull Squad who has informed them that the mercs have taken delivery of chemical weapons smuggled out of Iraq, destined for The Coil in Europe,” Eagle replied. “Hence our interest and hence the briefing on both groups.”

Desert Rat looked at Bombardier. “So, that’s why the science nerd’s here, then.”

“Exactly. Bombardier’s the closest we have to an expert on chemical weapons,” Eagle told the others. “He may have served as a Patriot battery commander, but we recruited him from the US Nuclear Emergency Search Team. He’s also worked for the DOD in the disposal of chemical weapons.”

“Which was why I was sent out to deal with that cancer-riddled idiot who hijacked the train of nuclear waste in 1988,” Bombardier said. “I was recruited when Ironblood had tried to steal nuclear materials. I stayed on, helping Boffin deal with his experimental weapons and occasionally dealing with nuclear terror threats.”

He turned his attention to Eagle, “So what are we dealing with? Mustard gas? Sarin? Tabun?”

“Sarin,” Eagle replied. “The mole says that Skull Squad took delivery of approximately thirty canisters which he was informed contained binary precursors for Sarin.”

“Are we going to have to wear the Noddy Suits?” Boonie asked, referring to NBC protective gear.

“Gas masks should definitely be worn,” Bombardier said. “Full suits might be an idea, too.”

Boonie, Desert Rat and Kukri groaned. No one liked wearing the Nuclear, Biological, Chemical protection gear.

“How do we deal with the Sarin?” Quickfire asked.

“Easily,” Bombardier replied, “Since it’s a binary agent, we only need to open the canisters and release one of the binary elements.”

“When do we deploy?” Quickfire asked Eagle next.

“Day after tomorrow. According to the mole, they move the canisters at the end of the week. We need them dealt with before that.” Eagle looked around the group. “Any more questions?”

“Are we doing this without Bodycount?” Boonie asked. “It seems odd after these last few years not to be working with him. I’ve actually warmed up to the guy.”

“Bodycount’s still on leave and won’t be back until the weekend. You should be back home by then,” Eagle replied.

“Is that why I’m here?” Sparrowhawk asked. “Filling in for him, since he’s the fourth member of Quickfire’s squad.”

“Yes, I know you’re putting your squad together, but we could do with another guy in the mix.”

“How are we deploying?” Quickfire asked, cutting back to business.

“You fly out to Kenya and stage from there to the camp via Tomahawk. A forward operating base will be established at the same time, twenty miles from the camp to refuel the Tomahawk, which will remain there until you call for extraction. You’ll also be covered by a recon drone, which Lightning will operate.” Eagle looked around again. “You’ve got today and tomorrow to plan and rehearse your assault plan.”

Two days later
Shortly before dawn
Somalia

The Z Force Tomahawk flared out and went into a hover, dropping to three feet above the barren scrubland of Somalia’s border region. The six Action Force troopers jumped from the helicopter and dropped to one knee, weapons at the ready. The Tomahawk lifted up and turned to had back west.

Boonie immediately took point, carrying the M16 assault rifle all the team except Desert Rat carried. The desert warfare specialist was carrying an FN MAG light-machine gun.

Desert Rat and Kukri were on the flank positions of the team, Quickfire and Bombardier in the middle, whilst Sparrowhawk brought up the rear.

They set out at a steady jog, heading northeast toward the camp. Dawn was fringing the horizon.

Twenty minutes later, the commandos were nearing the camp as first light broke the horizon. They quickly halted, pulled off their packs and took out their NBC suits and gas masks. The six men worked quickly to don the suits and respirators before putting their packs back on and grabbing up their weapons. Special Weapons Force had modified the suits to have a small radio headset in the hood, allowing the team to communicate clearly.

The small drone orbited over the camp, having flown into the area earlier. It was one of Special Weapons Force’s creations, a compact drone the size of a normal bed. It had delta wings, a small pusher propeller and a short rudder. Mounted under the nose was a ball turret, carrying a forward-looking infrared camera, a visual light camera and a laser range finder. A retractable millimetre-wave radar unit hung from the belly.

“Team, this is Lightning. I’ve got you on visual from the drone. I see two sentries in two towers on the east side. FLIR shows no sentries in the western guard towers.”

“Copy that,” Quickfire replied.

Boonie brought up his M16 as the team approached the nearest guard tower. He fired two rounds, dropping the sentry. The team leaped over the two-foot high razor wire fence. Boonie fired at the northeast guard tower, dropping the sentry there.

“That got their attention,” Lightning reported. “Multiple hostiles exiting building to your 3 o’clock.”

Quickfire, Desert Rat and Sparrowhawk turned to see the gunmen come running before they engaged them with a near unison cry of “Contact!” over their radios.

“Move out!” Quickfire ordered. “We’re too exposed here, we need cover and we have to find those chemicals!”

The team moved in bounding cover to the nearest building, which Kukri kicked in the door of. Inside was an empty briefing room. The team moved through it toward the opposite door. Desert Rat went out the door first, laying down a sustained burst of fire to put off the Skull Squad troopers.

The team moved quickly to another shack like building. Inside the shack was the mercenaries’ dirty laundry. The team abandoned the building, moving to the next. The next building was a mess hall. They moved swiftly to the rear door and exited.

Three buildings later, they found the chemical canisters. Bombardier went to work, opening and examining the canisters, using kit from his backpack to test the contents.

“Jackpot,” he reported. “These are the binary components of Sarin alright.”

Directing Boonie to help him, Bombardier worked quickly to open the canisters, pouring out the isopropyl alcohol into a large bucket. Once the alcohol was emptied from the thirty-two canisters, Bombardier next pulled out a thermite grenade. He ordered everyone out of the shack before pulling the pin and throwing it into the bucket.

The squad ran from the building as the grenade detonated, igniting the alcohol and blew the shack up.

“Multiple hostiles moving to intercept you on your northern flank. Watch yourselves!” Lightning reported over the radio.

The Skull Squad mercenaries intercepted the team near the perimeter fence. Ten of the gunmen were cut down in seconds.

Lukaas was among the group.

He shoved aside several of his men, aiming at Quickfire. The German commando simply snapped off a three round burst, dropping Lukaas to the floor.

“Hostiles on your six!” Lightning shouted.

Behind them were several yells. The Action Force team split their attention. Desert Rat, Quickfire and Boonie continued to fire forwards; Bombardier, Kukri and Sparrowhawk turned to the rear. They engaged the Skull Squad mercenaries with several bursts of fire.

“Good shooting, team, looks like you’re clear.”

There was the roar of an engine behind the group. “What was that?” asked Sparrowhawk.

“FLIR just detected a vehicle starting up,” Lightning reported. “Two hundred metres to your north. Looks like someone trying to escape.”

The team turned in the direction indicated. A battered and rusty Land Rover sped out of the garage and raced toward them. The team scattered at its approach, firing at it. Bullets pinged off the sides, others shattering the windows.

In seconds the old vehicle was past them and racing off into the desert.

Quickfire keyed his radio. “Fennec, this is Quickfire, we have a Land Rover escaping from the camp. Need you to pick us up and then pursue.”

“Spinning up, stand by.”

The team took the opportunity to strip off their NBC suits and gas masks before the helicopter sped into sight. The large transport dropped to the ground and the commandos scrambled aboard.

Within moments, they were speeding after the Land Rover, which was barrelling along at fifty miles an hour over the rough terrain.

“I’ve got a visual on the jeep,” Fennec told Quickfire, as the commando leaned between the pilot and co-pilot seats.

“Can you put us down in front of it, to stop it?” Quickfire asked.

“I can do better than that,” Fennec replied. “My gun,” he added to the co-pilot.

“Your gun,” the co-pilot answered.

Fennec flicked a switch on the control stick, before quickly reaching up to swivel a monocle sight on his helmet down into place over his right eye.

On the helicopter’s chin, the 20mm multi-barrel machine gun rotated to point to the left, where Fennec was looking. The jeep slid into the edge of Fennec’s field of view through the monocle. He pulled the control stick’s trigger, firing a ten-round burst.

Six 20mm shells slammed into the jeep’s engine, smashing it apart. The remaining four missed the Land Rover, thudding into the dirt beyond the vehicle. The Land Rover skidded around, before flipping over on to its side, then rolled on to the roof and sliding several feet.

Fennec safed the gun, brought the Tomahawk into a hover and then dropped ground-ward. The helicopter halted a few feet above the ground and Quickfire, Boonie and Kukri jumped out and sprinted across to the wreck.

As they reached the Land Rover, Robert Shaw was crawling out of it. He looked up to see the SAS Force commandos aiming their M16s at him. He spat out blood, coughed, then spat out a bloody tooth.

“Where are Major Bludd and the rest of the scheisse six?” Quickfire asked.

Shaw frowned, “If you mean Johnson, the Frog, the Russkie and the Yank, they’re not here.” He coughed again, before spitting out more blood. “Lukaas and I were the ones running this op for him. He’s elsewhere.”

“Too bad,” Boonie said. “We already slotted Lukaas, we’ll just have to make do with you.”

“Who else is in the Land Rover?” Quickfire asked.

“Two locals. They’re dead,” Shaw replied. “Killed when we rolled.”

Boonie moved forward and hauled Shaw to his feet by his collar. “Oh well, the Brits will be happy we nabbed you at least, since you’re on the wanted list.”

Shaw grimaced as he stood up, “What wanted list?” he asked, wobbling.

“The list of wanted terrorists. Skull Squad got declared a terrorist organisation in about twenty-five countries two days ago. Britain, France, Germany, Russia, South Africa, America, Australia, Italy… Well, the entire EU and NATO and a few others,” Boonie guided Shaw toward the helicopter, the mercenary grimacing with every step.

“Damn, I think I broke my leg,” Shaw cursed.

“That’s the least of your worries,” Kukri said. “Any known member of Skull Squad has been branded a traitor by their home governments. You’re facing treason charges as well as terrorism offences.”

Shaw swore, spat more blood and then collapsed. Kukri and Boonie hauled him upright, making sure to keep their sidearms out of reach. Sparrowhawk and Bombardier hauled him into the Tomahawk before the commandos climbed aboard.

The heavy-lift helicopter climbed into the sky, turning to head west toward Kenya.

“Quickfire to Eagle. Mission accomplished and we have a surprise gift for you… Robert Shaw. Alive, but wounded.”

“And it’s not even my birthday, you shouldn’t have, Quickfire. Tell your team well done. Debrief back in Nairobi. Eagle, out.”


The Coil and Skull Squad will return…

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