We were in the sh*t. There had to be inside intelligence for the NKs to be pinpointing their attacks this precisely. Seems to happen to us a lot, getting screwed over by the higher ups. Chances are that Jung, the NK Prime Minister had a leak within his unit who was operating with the insurgents. We needed a change of plan. Sitting in this little cave wasn't going to get us anywhere fast and Korea was halfway around the world. The quicker we got out of here the better, DC might not even be safe right now so we damn well needed a new plan of action here. I stopped thinking and looked up to discuss with the team but it appeared at least two of them were preoccupied enough. I just stared for a moment in decided disapproval. Jagan and Beth. Seriously guys... get a-
"Get a room," Dani took the words straight out of my mouth. The couple broke apart embarrassed. To be fair to them I'd be pretty embarrassed in their position too. The look on Scarecrow's face was pretty comical. I almost burst out laughing. That's when we heard a sound outside the cave.
I signaled everyone to get down. They were instantly alert, five weapons trained on the cave mouth.
"Stay quiet," I whispered. "Nobody move, nobody fire unless I give the command, we can't risk more soldiers hearing our gunshots."
We lay in wait, utterly motionless. Two men walked past the cave mouth. They'd been tracking us but weren't quite sure of the trail. Both were armed with AK-47s with shortened barrels for forest and close quarters combat, full body armour and big machetes strapped to their thighs. They moved slowly and cautiously but hadn't noticed the cave entrance yet, their backs were turned looking the other way, examining the debris we'd probably left from our fall. Careless. Dani and I were closest to them, I signaled her to move and slowly raised myself off the ground. We were both in crouching position in the cave mouth, not a few yards away from our target. Once we stepped out of the cave they'd hear our footsteps on the foliage. We'd operate using speed, aggression, and surprise. SAS. One of the most basic principles of close quarters combat, and part of the reason the British armed forces are the best trained in the world. I glanced at her and saw burning anticipation in her eyes . I nodded at her. Then we sprang. Covering the space in less than a second I tackled my man to the floor and ripped his weapon from his grasp. He looked up at me with a hint of confusion and surprise under a layer of outrage and battle adrenaline. I clamped my hand over his mouth to stop him calling out and with my other hand unstrapped his machete from his leg and stuck him with it. I turned to Dani as she finished off her man. I could see one of his arms was bent the wrong way and his neck was broken. Brutal.
Just as I started to relax I caught a glimmer of light out of the corner of my eye coming from a ridge about half a mile away.
"Dani! Get down!" I scrambled for her and dived on her as a bullet whizzed through my hair, just missing the both of us. We rolled back into the cave as cover, the rest of the team staring at us questioningly.
"Dani, you are a goddamn sniper magnet," I said to her with not a small hint of sarcasm.
"It's not like I can help it, I didn't see the laser marker," she retorted.
"Relax, it wasn't your fault. In this environment laser sights would be impractical so chances are they're not using them. Also I didn't hear a gunshot so they've got silenced weapons which means they would've been damn near impossible to find had I not seen the sunlight reflection from the scope."
"We gonna take 'em out Sherlock?" Crow cut in anxiously. He'd been missing out on the action recently and I could tell he was hankering to whack someone.
"Easy, Scarecrow. We'll get 'em."
"Why can't we use the enemy weapons and fire back?" Beth suggested.
"No, they're outside the effective range of those weapons and besides we'd attract a lot of attention with the noise we'd make. Crow and I will head off and take them down, you guys need to move. We can't stay in the same spot for too long. Use your own weapons before the enemy ones, unfamiliar technology can be dangerous. Take their body armour and machetes. Could save our lives out here. Let's move."
"Oh and Beth, Jagan?" They looked up as if they'd been expecting me to have a word with them. "Try to stay professional."
"Maintain radio contact, keep us updated on your position, come on let's get going."
Beth, Jagan and Dani took off bearing east using the sun as guidance. Crow and I headed for the ridge due north.
"Camo up, Scarecrow, we're gonna need to be invisible."
We smeared mud on our faces in stripes so that our outlines were broken. We'd lost our DPM woodland stripe clothing in the plane luggage but we had khakis on so they'd have to do. We both covered ourselves with as much foliage as we could, sticking it into the hems of our clothing, into the rims of hats, into our belts. It looks stupid, but trust me, nobody cares if they can't see you at all.
Crow and I moved like ghosts through the trees. We knew the snipers would be somewhere up on that ridge, hidden in the ferns and grasses with a good sightline over the forested area. We took a longer route, skirting around them and doubling back. It didn't matter how fast we got there, we'd never move faster than a bullet if we were seen. We dodged between trees, never moving higher than at a crouch except to cover open ground fast. We communicated only by hand signals, pushing through thick ferns and deep leaf litter as slowly and quietly as possible. We hoped most of our noise would be masked by the sounds of the forest, the ambience of animals and birds coupled with wind interference should make it a lot harder to detect us by sound. As we neared the ridge the trees started to thin nearer the top, the light streaming through the branches at an oblique angle. The perspective became pretty difficult which meant that it'd be both difficult to see us and tough for us to see them. They'd picked a good sniper nest.
"Heads up, two tangos on the ridge." Scarecrow had spotted them. I followed his gaze and spied two soldiers in full camouflage lying in a little depression in the long grass at the top of the ridge. It was a typical sniper team, one spotter, one rifleman. The spotter scouts for targets with binoculars and the guy with the gun does the rest of the job.
"Get their attention, I'll flank from the right."
"I always get the best jobs don't I," said Scarecrow.
We crawled all the way. We were too close to them to risk any sudden movements. I could smell the deep earthy scent of the forest floor as I shuffled along, the dank, damn texture on my hands almost comforting, the loudest sounds I could hear were birdsong and my own heartbeat. I reached my position behind the sniper nest and radioed Crow.
There was a shimmering flicker in the trees. The spotter and the sniper both turned and focussed on it. Too bad for them. Crow's mirror shone sunlight straight into their scope lenses momentarily blinding them. Then I attacked from behind, killing both of the while still dazed, breaking their necks as quickly as possible.
Crow reached the sniper nest in a matter of moments.
"Could've saved some for me pal."
I picked up one of the rifles. It was a long range anti-personnel weapon, designed to kill people from miles away without them knowing you were even there. Scarecrow took up the other one.
"Foster, I'm having this. Don't even try and stop me."
It was a heavy rifle. This one chambered a larger calibre round which enabled it to pierce steel sheets, bulletproof glass, even tank armour. No kevlar vest would stop these bullets. I could see why Scarecrow liked it.
"Looks like we've got some action for you already Steve. Ten O' Clock low, enemy patrol. They're tracking Beth, Jagan and Dani."
"How can those guys be so careless?"
"It's got to be Jagan's wound. He's bleeding so there may just be a trail of droplets that he's leaving behind. He's probably cut deeper than we thought."
I lay down in the sniper nest and looked down my scope. The weapon was very long but light for it's size. It was painted in green and black camouflage stripes, Scarecrow's was painted in a brown woodland hue. I worked the bolt action on the rifle and checked its ammo. I had three magazines, five shots each. Fifteen bullets. I flicked my mic on again as Crow settled down beside me.
"Jagan, Beth, Dani, come in. You've got men on your trail, suggest an ambush. Likelihood is they're following the blood from Jagan's wound. Crow and I will provide sniper support, keep heading east. From up here we can see the outskirts of the city. You'll hit a river if you keep going that direction, we can rendezvous there. Right now you need to take out those patrols behind you. Over."
My stream of commands was met with a simple reply. "We got this."
I curled my finger around my trigger and steadied my rifle, Crow next to me doing the same. You're right Beth. We're SCIT. We got this.