15th June 2009 - 03.46am - Somewhere on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border
They'd been sat there on the side of the mountain watching the village for what seemed an eternity. They felt cold, stiff and were getting bored. Through their night vision googles and binoculars they could make out the main compound to the left of the village largely made up mud huts and ramshackle outbuildings.
It had been a long flight into Kabul for the four ex-special forces mercenaries, and an even longer 120 kilometres in the back of the world's oldest lorry on what weren't even roads but rock filled dirt tracks.
Meeting their Afghan guide Khizar south west of Kabul near the border the five trekked for two days over some of the most mountainous terrain in the world, moving mostly by night and hiding through the day to avoid the Taliban and Al Qaeda boys whose territory this was.
Whilst part of Pakistan the border regions were run by the Tribal Leaders and Warlords who had business on both sides of the border and who surely must of had Bin Laden and his associates in their top friends on Facebook.
Westerners, and especially armed Westerners were not welcome round these parts and there wasn't a hotel in sight with crisp white sheets, comfy beds and a bar which did hot meals. Here they were out on their own, on a deniable op, meaning if the **** hit the fan they weren't getting any back up from the Western governments which sent them little over a week ago.
For a five figure sum, each man was selected for his own skills, and each knew each other by face from the time they served in the SAS regiments in Hereford. Only now they were working a little closer together and were on first name terms opposed to a nod in the mess at the barracks.
Bradley, the larger guy of the group had been a boy soldier signing up the day he left school with no qualifications. Fero, originally born in Hungary was the tech savvy of bunch with as much electrical kit equipment strapped to him as he could carry. Wood was the sniper, a born hunter who spent more time outdoors than indoors in his life. Then was Newsome, the elder of the group who had a weird fascination with things which went bang or boom.
"Our intelligence pinpointed this location 36 hours ago" Khizar the Afghan guide and former Northern Alliance soldier said in bad English.
They had been watching the village from 500 metres up the mountain since they moved into place 5 hours previously and all they had seen was the odd shepherd moving his flock from one side of the village to the other and an occasional flicker of light as window curtains twitched or were blown by the wind.
"When we get info on a new location we move, until then stay flat and dig in for the long run" said Bradley.
"I'm dying for a brew, anyone want one?" whispered Newsome pulling out ration packs from his bergen.
The small cave three metres behind them was home for the night, no mod cons and possibliest the world's bumpiest floor littered with stones and rocks not even a Taliban needing a turd would venture up to the remote outlook they found earlier the previous day.
"Wait!" said Wood who was looking down his high powered binoculars attached to a mini tripod in front of him. "We have movement in the compound, multiple targets, all armed by the looks. Why aren't this lot in bed like the rest of them?"
"I see them" said Bradley eyes glued on the twenty metre by twenty mud walled compound. "Looks like they're off for a bit of a gander to patrol the perimeter, either that or they're off to the local 24/7 garage we must of missed on the way here."
The eight guards carrying AK47's chatted to each other for a minute or two, sharing cigarettes before a louder fatter man came out a compound building barking orders at the smoking group. They split off into pairs, two standing on the gate while the two other pairs slowly patrolled the outside compound walls. The final pair took a walk into the small village disappearing behind a pair of small buildings.
"Looks like a patrol, but what they are guarding is anyone's guess. Could just be opium dealers, but don't see much of their produce in the yard or in the small barns. Could be bagged in some of the buildings we can't see the front of." said Wood.
Newsome came back from the cave carrying a handful of metal mugs filled with steaming tea. "Here you go lads, get this down your necks."
Khizar waved his away with a look of disgust on his face "I do not like your English tea". Newsome looked at him with raised eyebrows, while passing a hot mug to Fero who still was playing with one of his gadgets intently.
Then from the ground below, maybe only a hundred yards down the steep incline a noise......