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.
Lallo gave me a minute or two to read what amounted to two lines, that my co-operation was expected, and to be given. It wasn’t exactly addressed to me personally, but a blanket authorization to interview anyone involved in that operation.
I handed the letter back, but not before I noticed it had been unfolded and refolded several times as if it had been used before. Had Lallo already interrogated Treen, the only other survivor?
Lallo’s first question: “Do you know who was responsible for organising that operation?”
It was rather an odd question, asking a Sergeant who was assigned at the last minute.
“Look, at the time I was assigned to non-combat duties, not as an on-call commando. I was a late replacement for the member of the team who had to withdraw due to an accident. I was simply ordered to join the team at the airfield. Given the results, I’m hoping whoever it was that organized and authorized that operation got the bollicking they deserved.”
I had been annoyed at the time, but I’d got over it. In keeping with a lot of the operations I’d been involved with; very few had a successful outcome, but usually with fewer casualties.
He gave me a sidelong glance, close to an admonishment. “Just stick to the facts when answering questions. The other survivor was Lieutenant Treen, correct?”
Not a happy man was the Lieutenant. Not happy that the operation was changed at the last minute or the fact the odds had been stacked against us, and not happy I’d been flown in as a replacement what he regarded as his personal group.
“Are you aware he requested an investigation into that operation?”
It came as no surprise. On the flight over, he had expressed more than one concern about the lack of intelligence and what the real situation was like on the ground.
“Were you aware that a week ago Lieutenant Treen was found dead in his quarters, from an apparent suicide?”
Treen if anything was a soldier’s soldier, and the last man to contemplate suicide for any reason. Surviving, just, that botched operation would not be a catalyst for such an event for such a man.
“Odd then, don’t you think, you are nearly sent to your death the day after?”
If that was the case, and one the face of it, it seemed so, that wasn’t the only oddity about this whole affair. I remembered the date of the General’s letter, the one telling me to be co-operative. It was the day before Treen’s suicide.
I didn’t think it was a coincidence?
It was quite clear someone didn’t want the General or whoever Lallo was working for, to question the last two survivors.
The question now was: what did we know, or what they thought we knew that was so important, that silencing us was necessary.
And would ‘they’ try again?
© Charles Heath 2019