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Story Oh-Dark-Thirty
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  1. #1
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    Oh-Dark-Thirty

    FMJ

    An orbital observation platform running in autonomous mode detected movement in the allegedly neutralized zone and pinpointed a wrecked command post as the most likely source. Drone observation of the command post in visible light could not confirm the orbital platform data but long stand off observation in infra-red indicated multiple heat sources where none should exist.
    The six members of the team moved silently across broken ground in the pre-dawn darkness to the side of an exposed foundation. Free falling from high altitude and parachuting to land twenty three hours and ten kilometers away hopefully aided an unseen approach to their objective. Continuously monitoring the radio frequency bands as well as low light and heat reconnoiter continued to indicate they were alone. They arrived within a kilometer of the remains of the command post without contact and undetected. Known only by their black project name, Harvest, the six highly trained individuals utilized stealth equipment to specialize in covert operations under darkness.
    Alpha, the assault squad leader could communicate with and see each squad member’s position on the Heads-Up-Display visor of his helmet. Baker, the newest member of the team, was their sniper and her high power rifle was equipped with night vision and infra-red. Charley was their advanced armament guy and could place a variety of small smart missiles and rocket propelled grenades on target from outside the active perimeter. Dog was the CAED, the communication awareness and electronic disruption guy that kept the team informed of any evolving threat situation. Echo was their demolitions and IED man and Fox rounded out the team as their medic.
    The level of technology deployed in the last thirty days indicated that an unknown player had joined the conflict that could potentially change the course of the war.

  2. #2
    sounds very intensive.......

  3. #3
    interesting start

    hope it evolves more.

    Dosadi
    Dosadi

    III


    My family & clan are my country.

  4. #4
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    Evidence of an attack with advanced weaponry on mechanized armor or air support would dictate a high level of response and there were times when intel could only be verified by boots on the ground.

    Alpha instructed Baker to locate her sniper nest to cover the southerly direction of their approach and gave her instructions to call out targets to squad members. Baker would have a fifteen minute window to set up before the squad would leave for the command post. Charley was given similar orders to set up an assault position from the adjacent quadrant to provide support fire for the team if needed.
    Alpha, Dog, Echo and Fox would advance on the target. Dog monitored for communications chatter and would disrupt it if necessary to confuse the objective. Echo would support the mission objective with demolition and watch for booby traps so Fox could make sure they all came home in one piece.
    As Alpha received green ready signals from Baker and Charley on the HUD in his helmet visor, he gave the GO signal for the remaining team to advance. After fifteen minutes of steady, but stealthy approach, they came within view of the command post from the cover provided by the edge of a large shell hole. Alpha contacted Baker in her sniper nest for a range estimate rather than risking laser range finding that could alert the occupants in the command post of their presence.
    “Baker, how do you read our range?” Alpha sub-vocalized into the throat mike on the tight beam radio used by the Harvest team.
    “I read you at two hundred and thirty-five meters of the command post,” replied Baker from her sniper nest vantage point.
    “Bearing?” asked Alpha.
    “I am directly over your left shoulder at one-ninety degrees magnetic,” Baker replied reading data from her scope.
    “Charley, you good?” asked Alpha.

  5. #5
    I like what you have posted so far and will be looking for more.

    Wayne
    Last edited by stjwelding; 06-16-2017 at 03:26 PM.

  6. #6
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    Yep, looking for more.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  7. #7
    More please

  8. #8
    Still reading
    Dosadi

    III


    My family & clan are my country.

  9. #9
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    “Over your right shoulder, three hundred seventy-five meters on one-seven-oh magnetic,” came Charley’s calm response.
    “Dog, we good to go?” inquired Alpha of the CAED.
    “Quiet and clear,” returned Dog over the tight beam.
    “OK, let’s go knock on the door and see if anybody’s home,” joked Alpha as he slowly stood while reviewing the team data streaming in on his HUD.
    “Movement!” barked Baker over the tight beam as she keyed the squad alert at the same time.
    “Fast chatter on the X band, looks like telemetry data, disrupting,” Dog said quickly as Alpha hit the dirt in the bottom of the shell hole.
    The raucous buzz of an auto-cannon erupted from the base of the command post throwing a dual stream of hyper-velocity flechettes and green tracers into the top of the bank of dirt surrounding their make-shift fox hole.
    “Full spread on the way,” replied Charley over the tight beam as he launched two miniature armor piercing high explosive HEAT rounds and two anti-personnel rounds in quick succession into the opening at the base of the command post. The resulting series of concussions stopped the continuous hail of deadly flechettes as a series of secondary explosions below ground ripped open the side of the command post causing the structure to lean precariously.
    “Targets!” called Baker as she quickly fired over a dozen precision rounds into targets as they tried to flee the inferno within the command post.
    “All units withdraw to five hundred meters! Baker, Charley! Cover us!” Alpha called out on the tight beam squad frequency as another more powerful secondary explosion below the command post rocked the ground throwing dirt high into the air as the sun came up over the horizon.

  10. #10
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    Ten minutes after the last secondary explosion rocked the structure; fire continued to burn somewhere below ground sending up billows of black smoke and ash. The team cautiously approached the ruined command post again as Dog confirmed radio silence and Alpha led the squad to the side of the structure. Even though the dead outside the structure were burned and riddled with anti-personnel sub-munitions, it was obvious they were not human. Too many limbs.
    Alpha recorded images of the alien dead, collected samples of weapons, a copy of the telemetry data Dog recorded before the attack started and uploaded the report to Command via orbital. We didn’t have long to wait as Command relayed back priority orders for us to double-time to a rendezvous with a tilt-rotor fast transport to evac us from the area because an N strike had been declared so we got out fast. Echo was major PO’ed because he wanted to stay and watch.
    Last edited by FMJ; 06-18-2017 at 02:25 AM. Reason: Continuity

  11. #11
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    Thank you FMJ.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  12. #12
    Dang it! Keep it coming!

    Good stuff.

  13. #13
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    This wasn’t our first rodeo with an N strike munition but our experiences had been limited to tactical nukes ranging in size from a backpack MNM, or miniature nuclear munition, used on single targets like hardened bunkers or railway bridges up to neutron devices to eliminate enemy personnel within a hardened structure and inflicting minimum collateral damage. When the general squad alert tone sounded in the evac zone, the Harvest team members reacted immediately going to a defensive posture, and to their credit, only afterward looking to Alpha for the explanation. Alpha received a priority Command sequence on his HUD and quickly replied over their tight beam, “Flash Warning!”
    Even with heads lowered behind auto-darkened helmet shields and closed eyelids, the world suddenly turned a ferocious white. The tight beam unexpectedly went EMP auto-safe immersing the Harvest team in an uncomfortable silence until the initial flash subsided. Accustomed as they were to the team’s constant live feedback, whether it be just breathing or sub-vocal comment between team members in their headsets, the eerie silence was disconcerting. Alpha was already hand-signaling the team to crouch and take cover as the tight beam came back on with a loud crackle. The thermal wave arrived several seconds later followed by an over-pressure blast wave and the continuous dull roar from a roiling mushroom shaped cloud on the horizon.

  14. #14
    Thanks for more of your story looking for more!!!!

    Wayne

  15. #15
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    “What in the . . .?” called Echo into the crackling static on the all-squad tight beam. “What the hell did they use? An H-bomb? That had to be five megatons!”
    “Not one of ours.” Alpha replied.
    “Wha.…?” Echo replied in disbelief. “Whose was it then?”
    “Orbital verified the detonation coordinates as the command post Charley was lobbing HEAT rounds into an hour ago to save our butts from that chaingun. Either the fire finally reached the magazine or somebody hit the big red button to prevent any evidence from being discovered,” Alpha explained.
    “We were right at ground-zero for almost an hour,” whispered Fox. “We’re lucky to have made it out of there alive.”
    Alpha quickly added, “Hey Fox, here’s another warm fuzzy for you. You do realize the report I uploaded through the orbital was encrypted but the evac order I received from Command wasn’t, for some reason.”
    “Yeah . . . so?” replied Fox quizzically.
    “Well, my point is this. There are probably off-world players in this game that are willing to use canned sunshine and now they know exactly where we are.”
    “Whoa! Time to go!” called Charley.
    “Harvest team!” called Alpha. “We are out of here, quick and quiet! Use low power line-of-sight tight beam only. Dog, passive monitoring only. Keep the chatter to a minimum. Double-time, ladies.”

  16. #16
    Thanks for the new post.

    Wayne

  17. #17
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    Thank you.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  18. #18
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    (2)

    Perhaps due to their quick exit from the evac zone or the extreme endurance levels developed by their special operations training, the Harvest team managed to cover enough ground to mitigate the direct blast effects of the next nuke detonation. The team hit the dirt instantly in the white flash bulb glare of the second nuke shot. The tight beam crackled but mercifully refrained from going EMP auto-safe from the smaller tactical nuke. The explosive report of the detonation followed seconds later followed by another roar.
    “Ha, just a firecracker! They only had one of the big ones, I guess,” joked Echo while he shielded his munitions pack with his body.
    “Or they thought they knew our location,” reasoned Alpha. “Any bets on that shot being directly on the evac zone?”
    “I won’t take that bet,” Dog replied dryly. “All dirt-side chatter ended with that second shot.”
    Alpha added, “It could be just the lingering effects that multiple nukes have on the upper atmosphere, but the synchronous time stamp in my HUD ended with that second shot also. From my current position, neither Command nor Orbital is still operational, if they still exist.”
    The team held their cover positions in the dirt while their visors cleared and a sudden gust of wind-driven dust marked the passage of the meager blast wave.
    Into the drawn out silence, Baker asked in a small voice, “How much trouble do you think we are in, Alpha?”
    “I don’t know yet, soldier,” replied Alpha in an uncertain tone the team members seldom heard from their commander.

  19. #19
    Thanks for more FMJ Looking forward to more of this story,

    Wayne

  20. #20
    More coolness

  21. #21
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    “If this is only a tech glitch affecting comms via Orbital, we’ll be fine as long as we keep our heads down till the dust settles. When Orbital solves the comms problem and comes back on line connecting us to Command, we’ll be golden.”
    Echo commented drily, “Then again, if that big nuke was the first shot fired in a bigger war and they took out Orbital next, we could possibly be the last humans alive on this rock that have firsthand knowledge of an alien race willing to use advanced weapons to remove the evidence of their involvement here.”
    “Always the optimist,” Dog added sarcastically.
    “And,” Echo continued, “They might still be looking for us.”
    “We’ll get through this as a team.” Alpha reminded them to stay on low power, line-of-sight tight beam only with no laser range finding and passive monitoring only for comms.
    Baker scanned the sky for surveillance drones while Charley and Echo set up a multi-layered perimeter defense. Dog monitored comms but continued to confirm radio silence within their line-of-sight limitation. With the quiet, the adrenaline wore off and fatigue set in. Alpha set up the watch and told everybody to eat and stay hydrated. “No stims except for the second watch, everybody else get some shut-eye.”
    When the twin moons rose over the distant horizon, Dog relieved Echo on the first watch. The eerily silent planet had troubled Echo at first with no birds or animals and no bugs except for some small many-legged worms.

  22. #22
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    Dog monitored all the normal comm frequencies used by Orbital by procedure to pass the time, but found nothing but static. Adding the whole X band to the scan itinerary on the transceiver where he caught that fast chatter at the command post this morning would only increase the spectrum scan interval by a second or two so it seemed like a good precaution. Especially if that band was key to hostile comms or telemetry, then detecting intelligence there could give them a much-needed heads up that hostiles were in the neighborhood.
    Without Orbital continuously streaming a detailed sitrep for the whole hemisphere, Dog felt isolated, cut off and alone. Maybe Alpha was right and this is only a comms glitch or a high energy atmospheric anomaly. If that was true, he could transmit a request on the unit frequency at full power for a sitrep or request extraction and they could get off this rock. But Alpha’s orders are like commandments handed down from on high, obeyed without question and on at least one occasion yesterday, the difference between life and death itself. He would monitor comms passively as ordered. The rest of the second watch passed quietly without incident within Harvest Team’s defensive perimeter.
    Charley relieved Dog at 0200 unit time for the third watch and cradled his sleek magnetic rail launcher to his chest for comfort as he scanned their perimeter out to the horizon and the dark skies for threats. He had just completed the full perimeter sweep maybe, five times when he thought he heard a metallic sounding scrape followed by a clang, way outside their perimeter. He waited until he had movement on his night vision before he hit the squad alert and the team silently formed up behind him.

  23. #23
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    “Where?” Alpha whispered.
    “On the ground, about 30 degrees right of that crescent moon. Metallic sound and movement,” whispered Charley.
    “Baker, what have you got in your scope?” Alpha whispered to the sniper.
    “I don’t see anything on that, wait...oh, shit! I see it now. It’s a mech with treads, maybe only a meter long with a bunch of sensors on top. It’s radiating heat like crazy and it’s headed this way!”
    “Baker, stay on target. Dog, comms off. Everyone else scan the perimeter. We need to find out if that’s a solo recon mech or part of a swarm,” Alpha informed the team in a barely audible whisper. “Echo, if it is a solo recon, it might not detect us. Those sensors look like they were set up to locate RF sources and it’s too hot itself to search in infrared. It might pass by as long as it doesn’t blunder into our perimeter defense. Can you disable our perimeter without using a wireless remote?”
    “Affirmative, just give me the word,” Echo said holding up a small pair of wire cutting pliers.
    “Not yet, I still want a hot perimeter if we’re looking at a swarm.”
    “Roger that,” agreed Echo.
    “Any other contacts?” Alpha whispered and the team responded with a chorus of quiet negatives.
    Alpha moved soundlessly to the sniper’s elbow before inquiring, “Any change?”
    “Negative, still headed this way and it’s hot,” she replied without looking away from her scope.
    “OK, what I think we have is a single recon mech with an unshielded fission reactor in the drive unit,” Alpha said turning to sit beside the sniper as all eyes turned to stare at their Commander.

  24. #24
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    Unshielded does not sound good to me, don't know why. Thank you.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  25. #25
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    “Fox, we don’t have a lot of time, from a medic’s standpoint, how close is too close for a hot radioactive mech?”
    “Whew. Okay, the thing is, in the last couple of minutes, I have seen a steady rise above the background radiation, such as it is, but I’m not really seeing lethal intensity numbers. For comparison, if that was a fuel rod lying on the ground out there, I’d be pegged already. Maybe the mech is just poorly shielded and radiating heat for some other reason.”
    “You willing to take that chance?” whispered their commander.
    “Yeah, I trust my gear, but if I see a rapid change on the survey meter, you’ll be the first to know,” replied Fox. I know contact with high rad is bad medicine, but the dose from a short term high rad and a long term low rad exposure can be similar, with similar effects. Time, distance and shielding still apply, but we have no shielding.”
    “So basically, our only defense is a shorter exposure?”
    “Yeah, that’s about it,” agreed Fox.
    “Baker, any change?”
    “Negative, still on our heading and glowing.”

  26. #26
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    Hmm, split up and let it go between? Can they move without the mech detecting them? Lots of questions so little time. Thank you.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  27. #27
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    “Hmm, I wonder. Dog, shut down everything.”
    “Everything, Alpha? But we’ll be blind,” the CAED reasoned.
    “All of it. Visors, comms, night vision, thermal, even Fox’s radiation meter. Now, do it.”
    A dozen key strokes later, Harvest Team descended into an unfamiliar darkness. The silence of the dead comms was disconcerting when they went EMP auto-safe after that first big nuke, but coupled with the total loss of augmented vision, they felt suddenly immersed in an inky subterranean dark, lost and alone.
    “Any change?” Alpha whispered close to the sniper’s ear.
    “Affirmative, it stopped dead. It’s just sitting there now. But how did you know my optics would still work without the visual boosters.”
    “My job. Your gear will still work to cover us when all the rest of this happy horse shit has gone in the crapper. That’s why you still have conventional shells with metal bullets, primers and chemical propellants without a single electronic part in the firing mechanism. When all else fails, you’re our ace in the hole, soldier.”
    “Proud to be a member of the team, sir,” Baker said under her breath, smiling.
    “Do not call me sir, soldier. My designation is Alpha. You and Charley have the watch, everyone else try to get some rest.”

  28. #28
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    Nice stand off, the team can get some rest and figure out how to exfiltrate. (however you spell that word) Thanks FMJ.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  29. #29
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    (3)

    Just before 0500 unit time, a false dawn suddenly and silently brightened the northern horizon nearly to the brilliance of midday. As Baker held on target, Charley moved to Alpha’s side to carefully wake him.
    Alpha quickly arose and followed before settling in beside Baker and gazing at the horizon. “Another one?” he asked.
    “Yup. Getting to be a habit,” Charley replied sarcastically as he sat cross-legged on the ground. “I almost got a chance to be bored.”
    Baker’s sudden intake of breath drew their attention to the sniper. “What’s the mech doing?” Alpha asked with interest.
    “It just did a one-eighty and took off towards that light,” Baker replied. “If it wasn’t for the dust the treads kick up, I probably couldn’t see it at all anymore.” After another moment, she groaned and slowly lowered the sniper rifle, “and I can’t feel my arms.”
    “I would imagine, Echo and I will take the watch, you two crash. I want to wait for full light before we move out in case our little friend decides to double back on us,” Alpha explained.
    After Charley and Baker fell out, dropping to the ground exhausted, Alpha woke Echo who sat on a rock next to him, yawning.
    “Want to play a short game of connect the dots?” Alpha asked the demolitions man.

  30. #30
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    Thank you.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  31. #31
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    “Thought you’d never ask,” Echo replied with a grin. “You figured out what’s going on?”
    “Maybe, but first, you need a sitrep. There was another nuke somewhere over that horizon and our mech did a one-eighty and took off towards it.”
    “Shoot, and I missed it! But the mech is gone?”
    “Yep, and I think,” Alpha replied. “That mech was trailing our comm signals before we reached the evac zone and I think it actually rolled through what was left of the zone after the second nuke.”
    “Still trailing our comms?” asked Echo incredulously.
    “Yep, and got seriously crapped up in the process,” Alpha added.
    “Okay, that all figures. The interval between us leaving the evac zone and it showing up is about right, too. But why would it turn tail and leave?”
    “I don’t have a firm answer for that one yet, unless its program will only let it loiter for so long without a signal to track and it was recalled.”
    “I hope you’re right,” Echo added seriously.
    Last edited by FMJ; 07-21-2017 at 04:06 PM.

  32. #32
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    Thank you, good thinking on the leaders part, cut all emissions and see if it goes away.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  33. #33
    Thanks FMJ very good story, looking for more when You can.

    Wayne

  34. #34
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    “Do you think we’ll ever be able to use the visors and comms again?”

    “I don’t know but I am almost certain that mech was tracking the visual boosters in our visors or the tight-beam comms because it stopped dead when Dog shut everything down,” Alpha stated flatly.

    “I thought the whole advantage behind the use of our tight-beam technology was that it was undetectable,” Echo reasoned.

    “Supposedly undetectable. I can’t help but wonder how much intel was intercepted and used to set up that little nuke demonstration we almost saw up-close and personal.” Alpha responded. “Our first priority may be to tell Command our comms have been compromised. Staying alive after that might get complicated.”

    “My turn for perimeter,” Echo said standing. “If it’s not safe to use our comms, contacting Command will be suicide. If we don’t contact Command for extraction, we’re marooned. We’re dead if we do and dead if we don’t. Are we dead, Alpha?”

    “No and we still have our orders. We will do what we do best as long as we can. Denying the enemy the use of this planet to stage troops, weapons and depot maintenance helps protect the core worlds. To that end, we will continue to disrupt, disable and destroy their installations.”

    “We left the evac zone double-time under a quick and quiet protocol our own people didn’t know about. They probably think we bought it in the second nuke.”

    “Without info to prove otherwise, that’s the conclusion I would have come to, so, yeah. They think we’re dead,” reasoned Alpha. “From at least one perspective though, it frees our hands to operate in any way we see fit.”

  35. #35
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    Weapons free zone? Thank you.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  36. #36
    Thank you. Wonder how they will make their presence known?

  37. #37
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    14

    (4)



    After Charley and Echo recovered the explosives from their perimeter defense rings and Baker visually confirmed no activity in their immediate area, Harvest Team moved out in loose formation.
    Though they still wore the multicam helmets, Alpha directed the team to remove and store their visors until they could determine when it was safe to use them again.

    “Medically, what are our physical limits?” Alpha asked Fox as they walked.

    “We have rations and water for five days under normal conditions or maybe, eight under low exertion,” Fox replied. I can treat minor battlefield injuries but serious wounds or severe bleeding without diagnostics or advanced support will be, well, problematic.”

    “Understood,” replied the commander. “How about you, Charley? What is your current capability?”

    “I replaced the munitions I used yesterday at the evac zone ammo dump along with four new high-yield thermal grenades, so I’ve got more than a full spread.”

    “Echo?” inquired Alpha.

    “My toy box is full, Alpha.”

    “Dog?” the commander continued.

    “Comms and boosters are all down, off cold. The battery packs should last for weeks even without charging from the solar panels,” replied the CAED. “They’ll be there when we need them. The system will take several seconds to reboot but I could bring us back online in under a minute.”

    “Baker, you good?” asked Alpha.

    “I replaced the ammo I used yesterday at the evac zone, too,” replied the sniper.

  38. #38
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    Sounds normal, a little short on a couple of important items and no way to replentish. Thank you.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  39. #39
    FMJ thanks for more of your great story.

    Wayne

  40. #40
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    10

    “That’s good because I think we’ve got company,” Alpha said kneeling as he raised one hand. Harvest Team, take cover in a tight defensive group so we can still hear one another.”

    “Baker, is that cloud of dust on the horizon a convoy of vehicles?” Alpha asked.

    “Affirmative, Alpha. I make six heavy wheeled transports, all the same design, but not ours. Could be supplies, but no armor in the column might mean they’re empty.”

    “We will advance in a staggered formation to get within range of that convoy. Baker, take out the drivers. Charley, power up the railgun only if there is armed resistance. I want the last one undamaged for our use. Questions?”

    “Understood,” the team said in near unison before they fanned out.

    The team moved in staggered formation with a practiced precision, individually going to ground until they were overtaken and only then moving to the next position of cover in a way that made them appear to flow across the landscape like nothing more than windblown leaves and attracting little attention.

    Undetected and unchallenged, they advanced to form up below a low ridge from which the convoy would be well within the sniper’s effective range.

    Baker checked her field of view for obstructions before lowering the rifle bipod and adjusting the length of the legs. Due to the exposure of her “nest”, she selected a chameleon veil that covered everything but the muzzle and objective lens of her scope with variegated patterns in mottled brown and tan to match the landscape and abruptly disappeared from view.

    Echo smiled appreciatively, “I never get tired of seeing her do that. It’s like a Cheshire cat with high caliber teeth.”
    Last edited by FMJ; 08-08-2017 at 09:08 AM.

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