Our hero knows he’s in serious trouble.
The problem is, there are familiar faces and a question of who is a friend and who is foe made all the more difficult because of the enemy, if it was the enemy, simply because it didn’t look or sound or act like the enemy.
Now, it appears, his problems stem from another operation he participated in.
It didn’t take much effort to come to the only viable explanation of why a buried operation had been brought back to life.
And it didn’t take much more effort to realise that operation had been one of his, not that any of us knew that at the time, but for whatever reason, it had gone badly and now he was looking for answers.
Answers to what though?
It was a simple extraction; two operatives had their cover blown and were in hiding. A seven-man team in two choppers, get in, collect them, and get out. Seven men were overkill, but they were important operatives with vital intelligence.
I was a last minute addition to the team, replacing one of the sergeants who had been injured in an accident. It was a tight-knit team and I was not made to feel welcome. It was the usual fate of outsiders and it didn’t bother me.
It was their leader that did. Lieutenant Treen. But that came later, all it was, at first, was a sense of unease with his informal manner of command, and somewhat edgy disposition.
When I landed at the airfield, I was met by the other Sergeant, Mason, and taken to the briefing, which had been delayed until my arrival. Treen was there, pacing up and down like a caged tiger. It was apparent there were still some details still being worked on. Being so close to wheels up, I was not surprised at the tension among the group.
A Captain, a man named Worsefell, conducted the briefing, and it was patchy. Not the worst I’d been to, but it appeared the situation on the ground had changed considerably in the last 12 hours, necessitating a change in plans.
The operative had managed to get cover in an old abandoned building. That was fine until a group of enemy soldiers arrived and set up camp in the field not 100 yards from their position. Now, it was not possible to leave without being seen, day or night.
We now had to either distract or remove the enemy soldiers, an enemy we had no numbers or how heavily armed they were because our source on the ground had gone quiet. To me, it was possible the source had been captured, and if that was the case, it was also possible the enemy knew we were coming. But according to the Captain, this particular source had gone quiet before, in similar circumstances, so my suggestion was ignored.
Instead, the consensus was to go in and make an assessment on the ground. It meant we had to land further away, and have a long journey by foot with all the problems that might involve, and then return. That was the plan. The Captain had left it in Treen’s hands.
And Treen was not one to back away from a fight, not even when it was clear to everyone in that room, with or without the necessary intelligence, that the odds were stacked against success.
I looked at Lallo who was waiting for an answer. “I guess the brass didn’t know what to do with me, sir.”
My use of the word sir was noted.
“Be that as it may, I have a few questions about that operation.”
“I’m afraid it’s classified, and I’m under oath not to speak about it.”
Lallo took out a piece of folded paper from the inside pocket of his uniform jacket unfolded it and passed it to me.
From the very General who had ordered my silence.
© Charles Heath 2019