Updated 2000.02.07

Caught in the Grinder (Part 4)

Röt Hafen Chapter 11

copyright 1998 by Carlos Lourenco

Return to Bri's Science Fiction Collection


The Objective
2135 Hours

Having reorganized themselves, and regained their composure, the small assault party was ready to resume their work. They had set off along the hall scanning ahead with their motion sensors. The goal was to locate elevator that could take them to the top of the building. Plummer knew it was best to clear a building from top down. After five minutes they had found what they were looking for but it was disabled. Atkinson blew the door and after a quick inspection determined they could scale the shaft using the ironwork as handgrips.  It was doable if a bit treacherous. One Kra'Vak with a handful of rocks at the top of the shaft could have sent them all plummeting to their deaths. Fortunately the Kra'Vak, if there were any, were busy somewhere else. Atkinson, leading the scent found the door to the top floor jammed.

"Fuck!"

"What?"

"It's jammed. I'm gonna have to blow it."

"Can you do that without dropping it on our heads?"

"Piece of cake. Just make sure everyone holds on tight."

Atkinson scrambled up, snapped himself in with a caribiner attached to his load-bearing vest, and went to work rigging a charge. The whole affair took three minutes. "Done. Make some room I'm climbing down." Atkinson moved away from the door and snapped himself into the latticework.

Plummer spoke to the pointmen. "Once the door is blown, buttonhook left and right and clear the breach. Send back an all clear so we can come up."

"Jawohl."

"Ready?" Asked Atkinson. Plummer nodded. "Fire in the hole!"

There was a tremendous crash, which sent dust and debris falling onto their heads, but the main door was blown inwards. Moments later the two point men scrambled up over the lip of the shaft and there was immediately firing. One was thrust back over the edge and plummeted silently down the shaft past everyone's head. There was more firing, then an "All Clear!"

They hurriedly climbed out of the shaft. Plummer saw a single Kra'Vak, partially covered by the blown open elevator door. The creature's head was partially blown off, and a greenish brown much was spilled out along the dusty floor. It still had a rifle in one hand. As he passed by, one of the paras kicked it clear of the body just to be safe. At the end of a short hallway, which ended in a T-intersection, the surviving pointman knelt at the ready.

Be fore Plummer could say a word, the point man started firing.

"Kra'Vak!" the walls all along the T-intersection started exploding in small ships and the soldier was forced back. He helped up two fingers denoting two enemies. The pointman stuck his weapon around the corner, without aiming and fired off a long burst on full auto. One of the engineers pulled the pin on a charge and flung it down the hall. They ducked. A huge explosion shook the floor and the hallways filled with dust and smoke.  Plummer motioned two men down the hall and signaled for a two others to stand ready at flank and read security. He then followed his men down the hall through the thick dust.  There was some more firing and a strange inhuman cry.  At the end of a long hallway lay a another dead Kra'Vak. The soldiers waited at an intersection there.

Where did the other one go?" Plummer was panting.

"He went to the left and is in one of those two rooms here." Plummer swore. There were unsecured rooms behind them, which could each house enemy. He had to keep his men together. He signaled for Atkinson to join them with the others. Once together, he made a several quick decisions.

"Guard this intersection Sergeant. You three with me and we'll clear those two rooms. Once we have this corner clear we'll start and methodically clear the entire floor before heading down. Let's get to work!"

The four men edged to the first doorway. The door was missing and they could see inside. The point man signaled back that the room curved to the left. Plummer called for both to buttonhook left and that he would go straight. The fourth would start it all off with a grenade. He quickly prepped the bomb and tossed it in. As soon as the explosion sounded they rushed in. Plummer went straight ahead along the wall rifle at the ready. There was a single room, with much broken furniture. No enemy. "Clear."

"Clear"

"Clear."

"There is another door here, Sir."

This one was shut.  Plummer rapidly studied the lay of his room and determined that the right side of the door probably held nothing but windows to the outsized wall.

"Same plan."

The second man in tried the door access button. It was inoperable. He reached down and tried the back-up manual release. He nodded that it seemed to work.

Plummer nodded to the fourth, who had a grenade at the ready.  The door was flung open and the man tossed the grenade, but it hit the doorframe and bounced back landing at Plummer's feet. He looked in horror but one of the other soldiers was thinking fast and kicked it into the room with a punt that would have made any midfielder proud. The grenade exploded and in they rushed. The two soldiers hooked right and Plummer went straight angling to the right. A large bookcase was against the near wall and he went around it. There was a hissing noise and he heard a scream as one of the men fell forward followed by a burst of fire behind him. Plummer swung in time to see a huge body fall off the top of the bookcase onto the floor behind him. The grenade thrower had been the only one to bother looking up as they entered the room, spotting the creature deftly tucked into the corner of the ceiling. They quickly cleared the room then went back to their fallen comrade who lay on his face with a small hole in the center of his back. As they gently roll him over, the man's intestines spilled out of the gaping exit wound in his belly. His eyes were open and his breathing was shallow. One of the others rapidly activated the pain suppressant on the man's medkit. There was nothing they could do for him. HE was suddenly painful aware that they would have to repeat this room clearing over and over again.

 

Rölle picked his way forward to the 2nd Kompanie's support position. He found lt. Wegner, and received a brief on the original plan and the current situation. The assault party had been split in two trying to get in. Plummer had made it in with a few men, when Kra'Vak fire had split the group in two, killing some, driving others back. Wegner had adjusted his team's fire to silence the Kra'Vak positions, enabling a second group to gain entrance, but since then there had been no communication with anyone inside. He knew they were alive because they could hear the firing. Since then there had been no other Kra'Vak firing against anyone outside the building.

Hearing all this Rölle asked: "Have you reinforced Plummer at all?"

"No, Herr Oberst, we have remained here in our support positions ready to fire if needed."

"Damnit, we're wasting firepower here. Get your men organized and get them into that building now!

Wegner was flustered. "Jawohl!"

The Kra'Vak have been jamming our communications but that should be taken care of soon. We'll assume Plummer is carrying out his plan to make it to the top of the building and clear down. We will go from the bottom up.

"We, Herr Oberst?"

"That's right we. Rölle had his pistol and two grenades. You just follow me Leutnant."

North Eastern Approach to Röt Hafen
2140 Hours

The small party of men ran through the throngs of fleeing civilians. If Röt Hafen had appeared near deserted to Charlie on his last visit, several hours before, now he was astounded. Thousands of citizens, who had been hiding in the city, now fled in panic and disorder to avoid the all out fighting which was now destroying what was left of the great city. Running up the gully through this mass, made Charlie feel like a salmon trying to swim upstream.

"Yo, Chuck!" Mellor was beside him breathing hard. What are you trying to do kill us from a heart attack? Slow down man!"

Charlie cast a quick glance behind him. The security officer and his detachment were lagging behind clearly out of shape and exhausted from the run. "I'm trying to run that fat fuck into the ground."

"Yeah well you're running me into the ground too!"

"Hang tough. I need them sucking wind for what I have in mind. We're going to need to separate ourselves from them, I don't want them around when I confront Mills.

"What are you going to do about him."

"I haven't thought that far ahead yet. Just make sure they don't see you looking tired."

"Jeez."

"Charlie ran back to the Security team." Let's go gooddammit! Fuckin' keep up! There's no time to waste."

Mogen's cheeks were bright red and he looked as if he was about to keel over from a heart attack. The large security men behind him looked little better. All brawn, no stamina. "Suh...Sergeant Lawrence, I order you to slow down!"

"No way Lieutenant! You want those men, we have to move fast, or else we'll lose them for good. Now keep up! All of you!" Charlie turned and ran off before they could respond. It was all he could do to keep a straight face. What a shitbird. The Objective
2149 Hours

"Grenade!" Plummer ducked back as the small black object sailed past his face into the open door. A flash and deafening firing followed it as they scrambled in, repeating the room clearing procedure once again. They were down to just six men. Luckily there had been only a few encounters with the enemy. Clearly a much smaller force than originally anticipated occupied the building.

After the room was cleared and found empty they began shuffling out when Atkinson noticed a closet door slightly ajar. He raised his weapon to check it. "Hey."

A large shape burst out and in a blur of motion Atkinson was violently jabbed in the chest with the muzzle of the creature's rifle. It didn't fire, but the was nevertheless struck hard enough that he heard a crack as he was flung backwards to the far wall, stunned. The Kra'Vak swung a second arm, from which protruded a long blade. This came down across a para's face, digging in deep, continuing across the man's shoulder and his arm. The doomed man stood their for a second, his jaw falling loose and his arm dropping to the ground, followed a moment by the rest of his body. The creature screamed grating cry as the room erupted in gunfire. One of Atkinson's engineers, nearest to the creature simple jabbed the muzzle of his rifle into the side of the large monster's head and hired. The creature collapsed to the floor still screaming and thrashing as the others joined in the firing. Eventually it stopped moving. Atkinson's men were by him an instant. The engineer sergeant was alive but clearly in great pain.

Plummer saw that the big creature's uniformed was adorned with grisly momentos of past kills, a necklace of human finger bones. Two skulls hung from a chain on its waist.

"Is Atkinson all right?"

"Unknown, Sir. Looks like he at least has some broken ribs, maybe even his sternum. He's in great pain. That thing must have hit him with some force to have done this through his body armor."

Plummer walked over to the other victim. His body lay in three pieces, blood spreading across the whole floor. Plummer stepped back to avoid getting it on his boots. Mein Gott.

There was firing out in the hall and they were instantly at the ready. Human weapons. "Who's that." One man shouted. "Who's out there? Hold your fire!"

"Bremen!" Came a distant challenge

"Torgau!" Answered one of Plummer's men in reply.

The men stepped out into the dusty hallway. Two ran forward into the room.

"Herr Hauptmann!"

Plummer was relieved to see Jensen and Berger form Third platoon. "Good to see you, he smiled! What are you doing here? I thought you were with Wegner? Not that I'm complaining", he grinned.

"We are. We've been clearing the building from the ground up. Oberst Rölle is with us." They looked at the casualties, frowning.

"Do you have a Sani with you?"

"Ja! I'll get him." The man ran down the hall to fetch the medic.

Rölle walked in. Hauptmann shot to attention. "Herr Oberst!"

"Relax Plummer." The old man was smiling. "Nice work. How many of you are left?

"Just what you see here, Herr Oberst. The rest never made it across."

"Not quite so, son. There are another seven from the assault party down stairs. You've cleared from the top down?"

"Jawohl, Herr Oberst."

"Then that's it. Go consolidate your company. Mop this place up, then await further orders. I have some engineers coming across to assist in looking for booby traps or demolitions. Once that is done consider yourself and your men back on rest. You've earned it."

"Thank you Herr Oberst."

"This was a tough bunch. And they look different than the others we have encounter so far. Different uniforms, not to mention the grisly trophies hanging from their equipment."

"Yes these are apparently from a different unit. How many have you encountered in here."

Plummer was too tired to remember. "Several, less than a dozen."

"I see," said Rölle. "Well, look to your people. I've got to head back to the command post.  No doubt they're worrying about me like so many hens." Plummer saluted him and he left. As Rölle made his way back downstairs he saw that the surviving soldiers were busy clearing the dead and wounded as well as searching for booby traps. I used up a whole company just to clear out a dozen Kra'Vak. My God, I hope it doesn't go like this from now on. When he exited the breach he saw his command vehicle was parked right outside. Out in the main road he could see the darkened shapes of armored vehicles and men speeding by. The way ahead was once again open.

 

TF Hannibal C3 vehicle 2120 hours

Rölle sat in the cramped command vehicle observing the fighting on the battle plot. Despite the loss of some Satellites, TF intelligence had managed to get four UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) into the air and between all the sensors had patched up a respectable picture of the fighting, lost when the Kra'Vak first counter attacked.

"Have you reestablished contact with Second Kompanie?"

"Jawohl, Herr Oberst, but not with Hauptman Plummer. They can't reach him inside the Gerber building."

"Are they dead?

"Unknown, it seems to be some sort of enemy jamming interference."

"Have you located the source?"

"It's coming from about ten different spots throughout the city."

"Well why haven't we shut them down with fire?

"Impossible, we haven't the assets and they are all engaged with direct support. "

"Redirect 50% of our fire support to suppression of any enemy jamming sites. We'll just have to make due without them for a while."

"Jawohl, Herr Oberst."

"Captain, any news of the battle going on in orbit."

"Very little, Sir. The fleet seems to be totally engaged at this point. They've little time tossed us news reports."

"Unacceptable. Get up to Lubber with a priority request for a situation report. And send them ours also. I must have information."

Rölle went back to studying the battle. At least half of his screens were still dead. He manipulated the three dimensional tactical map to best observe the reduction of the Kra'Vak salient. His forces had successfully isolated the Gerber building from its three support positions, which were being reduced simultaneously. But that big gray monolith still stood astride his axis of advance, silent and foreboding despite the tremendous fire being poured onto it.

Perhaps the most fascinating views were those provided by his Aufsklarung, or reconnaissance troops. Each carried a digitized vidcam datalinked back to TF control. With these he could see a first person view of the fighting, though more often than not one found themselves looking at the ground as the soldier took cover from enemy fire.

His forces were now fully committed. There were no more reserves.  Fighting at the tip of the allied advance was a fierce as it was at the salient. Somebody had to give way soon.

"Captain, get my gear, we're going down there...."

The Objective
2135 Hours

Having reorganized themselves, and regained their composure, the small assault party was ready to resume their work. They had set off along the hall scanning ahead with their motion sensors. The goal was to locate elevator that could take them to the top of the building. Plummer knew it was best to clear a building from top down. After five minutes they had found what they were looking for but it was disabled. Atkinson blew the door and after a quick inspection determined they could scale the shaft using the ironwork as handgrips.  It was doable if a bit treacherous. One Kra'Vak with a handful of rocks at the top of the shaft could have sent them all plummeting to their deaths. Fortunately the Kra'Vak, if there were any, were busy somewhere else. Atkinson, leading the scent found the door to the top floor jammed.

"Fuck!"

"What?"

"It's jammed. I'm gonna have to blow it."

"Can you do that without dropping it on our heads?"

"Piece of cake. Just make sure everyone holds on tight."

Atkinson scrambled up, snapped himself in with a caribiner attached to his load-bearing vest, and went to work rigging a charge. The whole affair took three minutes. "Done. Make some room I'm climbing down." Atkinson moved away from the door and snapped himself into the latticework.

Plummer spoke to the pointmen. "Once the door is blown, buttonhook left and right and clear the breach. Send back an all clear so we can come up."

"Jawohl."

"Ready?" Asked Atkinson. Plummer nodded. "Fire in the hole!"

There was a tremendous crash, which sent dust and debris falling onto their heads, but the main door was blown inwards. Moments later the two point men scrambled up over the lip of the shaft and there was immediately firing. One was thrust back over the edge and plummeted silently down the shaft past everyone's head. There was more firing, then an "All Clear!"

They hurriedly climbed out of the shaft. Plummer saw a single Kra'Vak, partially covered by the blown open elevator door. The creature's head was partially blown off, and a greenish brown much was spilled out along the dusty floor. It still had a rifle in one hand. As he passed by, one of the paras kicked it clear of the body just to be safe. At the end of a short hallway, which ended in a T-intersection, the surviving pointman knelt at the ready.

Be fore Plummer could say a word, the point man started firing.

"Kra'Vak!" the walls all along the T-intersection started exploding in small ships and the soldier was forced back. He helped up two fingers denoting two enemies. The pointman stuck his weapon around the corner, without aiming and fired off a long burst on full auto. One of the engineers pulled the pin on a charge and flung it down the hall. They ducked. A huge explosion shook the floor and the hallways filled with dust and smoke.  Plummer motioned two men down the hall and signaled for a two others to stand ready at flank and read security. He then followed his men down the hall through the thick dust.  There was some more firing and a strange inhuman cry.  At the end of a long hallway lay a another dead Kra'Vak. The soldiers waited at an intersection there.

    "Where did the other one go?" Plummer was panting.

"He went to the left and is in one of those two rooms here." Plummer swore. There were unsecured rooms behind them, which could each house enemy. He had to keep his men together. He signaled for Atkinson to join them with the others. Once together, he made a several quick decisions.

"Guard this intersection Sergeant. You three with me and we'll clear those two rooms. Once we have this corner clear we'll start and methodically clear the entire floor before heading down. Let's get to work!"

The four men edged to the first doorway. The door was missing and they could see inside. The point man signaled back that the room curved to the left. Plummer called for both to buttonhook left and that he would go straight. The fourth would start it all off with a grenade. He quickly prepped the bomb and tossed it in. As soon as the explosion sounded they rushed in. Plummer went straight ahead along the wall rifle at the ready. There was a single room, with much broken furniture. No enemy. "Clear."

"Clear"

"Clear."

"There is another door here, Sir."

This one was shut.  Plummer rapidly studied the lay of his room and determined that the right side of the door probably held nothing but windows to the outsized wall.

"Same plan."

The second man in tried the door access button. It was inoperable. He reached down and tried the back-up manual release. He nodded that it seemed to work.

Plummer nodded to the fourth, who had a grenade at the ready.  The door was flung open and the man tossed the grenade, but it hit the doorframe and bounced back landing at Plummer's feet. He looked in horror but one of the other soldiers was thinking fast and kicked it into the room with a punt that would have made any midfielder proud. The grenade exploded and in they rushed. The two soldiers hooked right and Plummer went straight angling to the right. A large bookcase was against the near wall and he went around it. There was a hissing noise and he heard a scream as one of the men fell forward followed by a burst of fire behind him. Plummer swung in time to see a huge body fall off the top of the bookcase onto the floor behind him. The grenade thrower had been the only one to bother looking up as they entered the room, spotting the creature deftly tucked into the corner of the ceiling. They quickly cleared the room then went back to their fallen comrade who lay on his face with a small hole in the center of his back. As they gently roll him over, the man's intestines spilled out of the gaping exit wound in his belly. His eyes were open and his breathing was shallow. One of the others rapidly activated the pain suppressant on the man's medkit. There was nothing they could do for him. HE was suddenly painful aware that they would have to repeat this room clearing over and over again.

 

Rölle picked his way forward to the 2nd Kompanie's support position. He found lt. Wegner, and received a brief on the original plan and the current situation. The assault party had been split in two trying to get in. Plummer had made it in with a few men, when Kra'Vak fire had split the group in two, killing some, driving others back. Wegner had adjusted his team's fire to silence the Kra'Vak positions, enabling a second group to gain entrance, but since then there had been no communication with anyone inside. He knew they were alive because they could hear the firing. Since then there had been no other Kra'Vak firing against anyone outside the building.

Hearing all this Rölle asked: "Have you reinforced Plummer at all?"

"No, Herr Oberst, we have remained here in our support positions ready to fire if needed."

"Damnit, we're wasting firepower here. Get your men organized and get them into that building now!

Wegner was flustered. "Jawohl!"

The Kra'Vak have been jamming our communications but that should be taken care of soon. We'll assume Plummer is carrying out his plan to make it to the top of the building and clear down. We will go from the bottom up.

"We, Herr Oberst?"

"That's right we. Rölle had his pistol and two grenades. You just follow me Leutnant."

 

 

North Eastern Approach to Röt Hafen
2140 Hours

The small party of men ran through the throngs of fleeing civilians. If Röt Hafen had appeared near deserted to Charlie on his last visit, several hours before, now he was astounded. Thousands of citizens, who had been hiding in the city, now fled in panic and disorder to avoid the all out fighting which was now destroying what was left of the great city. Running up the gully through this mass, made Charlie feel like a salmon trying to swim upstream.

"Yo, Chuck!" Mellor was beside him breathing hard. What are you trying to do kill us from a heart attack? Slow down man!"

Charlie cast a quick glance behind him. The security officer and his detachment were lagging behind clearly out of shape and exhausted from the run. "I'm trying to run that fat fuck into the ground."

"Yeah well you're running me into the ground too!"

"Hang tough. I need them sucking wind for what I have in mind. We're going to need to separate ourselves from them, I don't want them around when I confront Mills.

"What are you going to do about him."

"I haven't thought that far ahead yet. Just make sure they don't see you looking tired."

"Jeez."

"Charlie ran back to the Security team." Let's go gooddammit! Fuckin' keep up! There's no time to waste."

Mogen's cheeks were bright red and he looked as if he was about to keel over from a heart attack. The large security men behind him looked little better. All brawn, no stamina. "Suh...Sergeant Lawrence, I order you to slow down!"

"No way Lieutenant! You want those men, we have to move fast, or else we'll lose them for good. Now keep up! All of you!" Charlie turned and ran off before they could respond. It was all he could do to keep a straight face. What a shitbird. The Objective
2149 Hours

"Grenade!" Plummer ducked back as the small black object sailed past his face into the open door. A flash and deafening firing followed it as they scrambled in, repeating the room clearing procedure once again. They were down to just six men. Luckily there had been only a few encounters with the enemy. Clearly a much smaller force than originally anticipated occupied the building.

After the room was cleared and found empty they began shuffling out when Atkinson noticed a closet door slightly ajar. He raised his weapon to check it. "Hey."

A large shape burst out and in a blur of motion Atkinson was violently jabbed in the chest with the muzzle of the creature's rifle. It didn't fire, but the was nevertheless struck hard enough that he heard a crack as he was flung backwards to the far wall, stunned. The Kra'Vak swung a second arm, from which protruded a long blade. This came down across a para's face, digging in deep, continuing across the man's shoulder and his arm. The doomed man stood their for a second, his jaw falling loose and his arm dropping to the ground, followed a moment by the rest of his body. The creature screamed grating cry as the room erupted in gunfire. One of Atkinson's engineers, nearest to the creature simple jabbed the muzzle of his rifle into the side of the large monster's head and hired. The creature collapsed to the floor still screaming and thrashing as the others joined in the firing. Eventually it stopped moving. Atkinson's men were by him an instant. The engineer sergeant was alive but clearly in great pain.

Plummer saw that the big creature's uniformed was adorned with grisly momentos of past kills, a necklace of human finger bones. Two skulls hung from a chain on its waist.

"Is Atkinson all right?"

"Unknown, Sir. Looks like he at least has some broken ribs, maybe even his sternum. He's in great pain. That thing must have hit him with some force to have done this through his body armor."

Plummer walked over to the other victim. His body lay in three pieces, blood spreading across the whole floor. Plummer stepped back to avoid getting it on his boots. Mein Gott.

There was firing out in the hall and they were instantly at the ready. Human weapons. "Who's that." One man shouted. "Who's out there? Hold your fire!"

"Bremen!" Came a distant challenge

"Torgau!" Answered one of Plummer's men in reply.

The men stepped out into the dusty hallway. Two ran forward into the room.

"Herr Hauptmann!"

Plummer was relieved to see Jensen and Berger form Third platoon. "Good to see you, he smiled! What are you doing here? I thought you were with Wegner? Not that I'm complaining", he grinned.

"We are. We've been clearing the building from the ground up. Oberst Rölle is with us." They looked at the casualties, frowning.

"Do you have a Sani with you?"

"Ja! I'll get him." The man ran down the hall to fetch the medic.

Rölle walked in. Hauptmann shot to attention. "Herr Oberst!"

"Relax Plummer." The old man was smiling. "Nice work. How many of you are left?

"Just what you see here, Herr Oberst. The rest never made it across."

"Not quite so, son. There are another seven from the assault party down stairs. You've cleared from the top down?"

"Jawohl, Herr Oberst."

"Then that's it. Go consolidate your company. Mop this place up, then await further orders. I have some engineers coming across to assist in looking for booby traps or demolitions. Once that is done consider yourself and your men back on rest. You've earned it."

"Thank you Herr Oberst."

"This was a tough bunch. And they look different than the others we have encounter so far. Different uniforms, not to mention the grisly trophies hanging from their equipment."

"Yes these are apparently from a different unit. How many have you encountered in here."

Plummer was too tired to remember. "Several, less than a dozen."

"I see," said Rölle. "Well, look to your people. I've got to head back to the command post.  No doubt they're worrying about me like so many hens." Plummer saluted him and he left. As Rölle made his way back downstairs he saw that the surviving soldiers were busy clearing the dead and wounded as well as searching for booby traps. I used up a whole company just to clear out a dozen Kra'Vak. My God, I hope it doesn't go like this from now on. When he exited the breach he saw his command vehicle was parked right outside. Out in the main road he could see the darkened shapes of armored vehicles and men speeding by. The way ahead was once again open.

 


Go to Nice Try, chapter 12, of Röt Hafen

 


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