Miner was awoken from his catnap by Rudi. He could hear a VTOL coming into the spaceport. Miner sat up and watched as two ships came in and landed out on the tarmac about three hundred meters from his position.
"Looks like another patrol coming in," said Miner.
"Yes but look!" Said Rudi.
Eric donned his helmet and activated the imagine enhancement viewer and switched it over to 6x. He saw several Kra'Vak exit the ship first followed by a smaller, human followed by several more Kra'Vak. They pushed and dragged the prisoner along. "Looks like they got somebody."
"Poor devil." Said Rudi.
Eric zoomed in further. It was difficult to identify the tiny human surrounded by the large Kra'Vak escorts. However the prisoner fell to the ground and for a moment, Eric got a good look. Though he couldn't make out the face, he recognized the uniform at once. It was the pilot of their shuttle. "Holy shit! Are you getting this on the camera, Rudi?"
"Well that does it. Guess who that was? The pilot
of our shuttle. Won't be long before she spills her guts." He cursed because
there was no contingency for emergency communications from the OPs to the
base. They would have to wait until they pulled off the OP in another 40
Waldek was picked up and physically thrown into a room with no furniture or windows. The impact against the wall knocked the wind out of her. The door slammed shut. She lay sprawled on the cold plasti-crete floor. It took all of her effort to move a hand up to the side of her head. Her face and temple were throbbing in great pain and she felt the wetness in her hair. She drew back her hand covered in blood. Her mouth ached as her tongue ran over two broken teeth. Waldek tried to sit up, but the pain grew worse and she gingerly lay back down. She had been stripped of all her possessions save her uniform.
Several minutes (or hours?) later, the door opened again. The light blinded her. Two hulking creatures entered, (Kra'Vak), grabbed her arms, lifted her and pinned her against the wall. Pain shot through her head. Another Kra'Vak entered the room followed by a human. The Kra'Vak was different than the others. It was unarmed and dressed in a purple gown or robe. It had no helmet on its head. Two beady black eyes stared out from its sunken sockets, the protruding ridge of its brow whitish yellow, highlighted against the mottled green of the rest of its head. The air tube extensions were very long, reaching nearly half way down its back. The creature's tusks seemed to always be working, and the inner mouth glistened with saliva and rows of sharp teeth. Waldek felt sickened with fear, while at the same time riveted with curiosity
The creature held a device in front of it, pointed at Waldek. It hummed slightly, glowing blue. It passed the device across Waldek's body, flicked its head down and to the right, then stepped aside. The Human stepped forward. He wore blue padded coveralls with red bands on each arm. A helmet and visor covered his eyes but she could make out a broad, stubbly chin. The man grinned, exposing a row of uneven yellow teeth.
"I'm going to explain something to you and I won't repeat myself." The man stopped for a second and cocked his head, his smile gone. The purple Kra'Vak cocked his head to one side also and emitted a humming sound. The man grinned and continued. "You belong to us now. We own you. The slightest attempt to resist will be met with a very slow and painful death. You will tell us everything we want to know."
He reached out with one of his thick hands and grasped her throat, his fingers digging into her larynx, nearly ripping it out. His second hand grasped the bloody side of her head and squeezed. Waldek felt a wave of renewed pain sweep over her that was so strong it brought on nausea. At the same time she couldn't breath, her mouth groping for words that would not come. The man's mouth twisted into a sardonic grin. He was actually drooling. He let go of the side of Waldek's head and groped clumsily between her legs. Waldek vision blurred. Her lungs were bursting.
"You're pretty. I'm going to..."
The man let go of Waldek and cocked his head to the side again, his smile replaced with a grimace. The purple creature was communicating again. Waldek gasped for air, dizzy with pain, confused and frightened. The interrogation duo stopped communicating amongst them. The man, composed now, continued.
Waldek was still catching her breath and didn't respond.
Her Kra'Vak guards smashed her against the wall to help her memory. The back of her head hit the wall so hard she nearly passed out.
"Waldek. Nonna Waldek. Leutnant. Kriegsraumflotte."
The man placed a hand gently against the undamaged side of her head, caressing her short hair. "You see how that works? I ask, you tell. Verstehen Sie?"
"Are you the pilot of shuttle X2037 which we captured several days ago?" There was a moment's hesitation, then the man grew serious and grabbed her ear, pulling violently, nearly ripping it out of her head.
"Yes, yes I am!"
"Why can't we access any of the shuttle's systems? Why won't it work?"
"Because I erased the main computer core memory after landing. It is standard procedure in such situation."
There was another pause as the two captors communicated.
"Just a warning. You will be taken back to our main facility where we have devices which can verify the information you have given us. If any of this is a lie, you will be severely punished or killed."
"Now the big question. What are you doing here?"
"My ship crashed, I had no choice."
The man cocked his head, as did the alien. The Purple Kra'Vak held out his device again and it glowed blue. Waldek felt a severe sharp pain in her midsection, so sharp that her knees gave out. She felt her bowels and bladder give way.
The man put his hand on her chin and raised her head. "I assure you, my associate has neither the understanding or patience for any passive aggressive resistance you might offer. If it were up to them, they would already have started slicing you open. I've persuaded them to leave your interrogation to me. It will be much more pleasant." He gently stroked her tear-streaked cheek. "Perhaps even for the both of us."
Waldek realized she could not resist them. But she loathed the man in front of her. It was obvious he lusted after her. She knew she was a dead woman, but perhaps there was a way to take this swine with her. She would work to that end. She would kill him.
"No! No! No! Everyone hold up right where they are. Umm, halten Sie! Good. Now I want everybody to look around and see what's going on." Kenny waited for his translator to get the message across. He was standing in the middle of a dirt trail. At his feet lay sprawled three "dead" men. Around them where numerous G's (Guerrilla's as they were known in Special Forces parlance). Standing next to Kenny was Rolf, his interpreter. Kenny was going through some ambush drills with a small group of schwabs. He was the only one back at the base. He spent half the day working on the intelligence report and the second half of the day working with a group of twenty Gs, to form a raiding party. Only three had any prior military experience and only one of those had been in the infantry. Three others had been police.
"OK, first off. I want everyone to look at the security teams. You two, what are you supposed to be doing?"
"Two men looked at each other. "We came to support the firing group."
"That you did. But what are you supposed to be doing?"
"Ahh, rear security, Sergeant."
"That's right, rear security. Now if you two are here, tell me who's watching our rear right now? What's to stop another enemy force from attacking us from the rear right now?"
Another one of the G's said something in German to his comrades. "What did he say? Ask Mellor.
"He's telling ze others that everyone must observe their sector of responsibility, just like a zone defense in a football match." Answered Rolf.
"Yes that's a good analogy. We don't all run to the point of firing. We have to have security. Remember what I said before. All actions must follow these four principles: Planning, reconnaissance, control, and security. By pulling of your rear security assignment we have violated the principle of security. There's no defense against a rear attack. Let' see what else we can find. Now once the patrol leader blew the whistle to advance across the kill zone, what happened to the far side security team?
"They went over the far side of the trail and down the ridge". Answered the student patrol leader.
"They didn't just go over the ridge, they went fifty meters down the ridge and out of sight. Now what did we violate there?"
No one answered.
"Control, people, control. That team is out of sight and out of communication. The patrol leader has no control over them. When we perform our actions on the objective here, you must maintain tight control. You must be able to communicate to all your elements. And you must limit the amount of time you remain here to the shortest possible exposure. As soon as we initiate the ambush, the whole world knows we are here. Expect reaction forces to be on the scene momentarily. Hence the reason for your security teams need to be alert."
They were all listening and nodding now.
"Now, just a few other things. As you guys sweep across the objective." (Kenny ran across demonstrating) "Grab these weapons and kick them out of the way. Someone may be just wounded and could still fire back. Better yet, you should also double-tap every body as you sweep across, just to make sure. Also. I saw you two run right in front of the support fire team. You masked their fire. If a threat had popped up right then they would have had two choices. Shoot you or not fire and risk watching the whole assault element getting killed. So watch where you are running."
"This one has a question," said Rolf. One of the "dead" men asked something in German.
"He's saying that once we have stopped firing and
moved across the killzone that it is against the Geneva Convention to kill
Kenny felt his blood pressure rise. "Ok, A: As you are going across the objective you can classify the action as still being in the heat of battle. And two: We're fighting fucking aliens here people! I don't have to tell you what they would do to you in a similar situation. It is not our intent on this mission to take any Alien prisoners. If that changes you will be the first to know. If it's a human, jump on him and grab him that's who we are going after. But you see one of them warthogs, you blast him utill he stops moving. Understand?"
"All right. Enough philosophy. Let's do it again until we get it right. Patrol leader, let's pick it up from the release point...."
Waldek was carried into an awaiting grav transport and dumped into one of the oversized seats. She slumped to one side against her human interrogator's shoulder. She had learned that his name was Zell. They were taking her to their main base. There they would verify the information she had given them. Before leaving they had cleaned her up and given her a pair of coveralls and a parka. Waldek was affecting an air of helplessness, which was not hard to do given her pitiful condition. Interrogation had continued intermittently throughout the day. Whatever the Alien had zapped her with had done something to her insides which left her sick and helpless. She was bleeding from her rectum.
They had pumped her for information, and she eventually confessed to deploying the surveillance satellite. After more beating she had also confessed to dropping "three agents". Truthfully she did not know what their mission was but that denial had garnished more rough treatment. Finally, she had given up several details about the Köhl and her early involvement on the mission.
She had resisted as much as she could, giving away a piece of her initial and then deep cover stories. Slowly she had manipulated Zell to the point where she felt he believed that she was relying on him to save her if she cooperated. Several times, during the interrogation the purple Kra'Vak had left the room, and Zell had put on a show of gentleness with her. She said she would do "anything" if he could help keep her alive. She told him that she hated her commanders for sticking her in this situation and was very angry. Zell, despite the obvious alien influence he was under, let all this go to his head. He had even persuaded his "handler", to allow her to get cleaned up, get a bite to eat, and put on some new clothes. The purple Kra'Vak deferred to his human associate in these matters, only interjecting when he thought something in her testimony was false or unclear. It bothered her that Zell never took off his helmet or raised his visor, so she couldn't get a good look into the pig's yes.
Sitting across from her in the tight compartment was one of the disgusting aliens. She studied it curiously. It's skin was tan with freckled green and brown splotches. The hair-like strings on the back of it's head were shorter than the purple one's. It clasped a stubby rifle. Each hand had three fingers, two of which were opposable jointed like thumbs. The most prominent were its stubby tusks. They were attached to the face through large prominent muscles on its jaws, which kept flexing almost involuntarily. Working on grav drive, the vehicle interior was fairly well insulated from sound. There was an odd smell in the compartment. Almost like old musty leather. She could hear it breathing. It made a wet rasping sound and she saw that's tiny bubbles formed from mucous in around its nostrils. Maybe it was sick? She hoped so. It stared at her with its black beady deep set eyes.
The creature wore a grayish brown thickly padded suit that covered most of its body. Hard plates seemed to be attached to the chest, arms legs and midsection. A wide harness stretched across it's chest. She figured it was a bandoleer, as it held several bulging pouches. In the center of it's chest was a blue marking, in some alien tongue. Maybe it was a rank. On its head it wore a helmet that looked more like a skullcap. Draped around its thick neck was what appeared to be a set of wide goggles.
The purple Kra'Vak sat up front in the vehicle next to the driver, leaving them alone in the back. Zell looked around then put his arm around Waldek. He whispered into her ear: "There's nothing to worry about as long as you've told the truth. When we get to where we are going, you'll be allowed to rest until morning. I've persuaded them that further interrogations, even with their devices will be less effective in your current sate. So you see, I am looking out for you best interests." He slid a hand down and onto her coveralls, feeling up her breast.
Waldek made no effort to resist. Still in great pain, she led him to believe that she was becoming dependent on him, despite the fact that her single-minded focus on killing this pig drove her and had helped get her through the day. Now if she could get him alone.
"I...I don't want to be left alone tonight."
Zell smiled. "No worries, I think I can persuaded them to let me stay with you." His hand continued rummaging around in her coveralls.
The Kra'Vak across from them grunted something.
The purple Kra'Vak up front grunted something back. The guard leaned over
and thwacked Zell on the head. Zell immediately pulled his hand back and
took his arm from around Waldek. "Don't you worry" he whispered. "Don't
Waldek spent the rest of the trip thinking about the home and family she would never see again.
Lawrence and Mills studied the map. Dirlwanger continued. "There are two routes they use to get back and forth from the spaceport to the enclave. This and this. Almost always, the work details take this route. However, several hours after they leave for the spaceport, usually around 0900, a second trip is made. It is usually just one vehicle, a wheeled IFV. It takes this route and visits the capital building. Usually they pull into the underground garage, but once it has been observed pulling up to the front steps. Both times a purple robed Kra'Vak has gotten out with one of the traitors, plus two guards, and entered the front of the building. Regardless of how they get in. They never stay for more than an hour, then they head of to the spaceport. Here they stay all day. They Return to enclave along the same route after dark, usually between 2100 and 2200."
"This happens every time?" Asked Mills.
"Yes. Only twice in the past ten days has the routine varies. Once early last week it didn't come out to the spaceport at all. The second time was yesterday. They went directly to the spaceport via the main route and arrived there about 0800. One of my men at the spaceport reported an abnormal amount of air traffic very early. The vehicle remained there all day and was still there by last report."
"But every other day they follow this routine?" Asked Lawrence
"Well there's our man."
"Agreed. Dirlwanger, I want you to start focusing more resources on the second route and that one vehicle. I want to find a good place to along this route where we can ambush it. We need a covered and concealed rout to the ambush point and out. And we need to get away fast. You will need to get us to the outskirts as fast as possible."
"Very well, we will get to work on it."
Inside the Enclave, Röt Hafen
28 July 2193, 0100 Local
Waldek lay on a flat table. A single dim light in the ceiling illuminated the empty room. The room had the scent of freshly poured plasti-crete. The hard bench was no comfort to her sore body. She was alone for the first time in hours. As was the case in times of high stress, her thoughts drifted to home. Waldek was born and raised on Nue Salzburg, where her parents still lived. Her father was a chemist, her mother a pharmacist. She remembered they had tried to talk her out of the der dientst, but her love of flying outweighed their words of caution. She tried to stretch her mind across the light years to them. What were they doing right at this instant? She thanked God they had no idea of her predicament. As it was, her death would crush them. She felt more sorrow at how her passing would affect their lives than hers. Odd.
The door quietly slid open and Zell stood in the
threshold. Outside she could see the back of a guard. Zell entered and
shut the door behind him. He was alone. Waldek was trembling with fear
and anticipation. Though she had steeled herself from this moment, she
found it difficult to think straight. Was this the end of her life?
Zell strided over confidently and sat on the table. "Are you feeling better?" He placed an arm on her shoulder.
"Yes," she managed.
"Good." He began to caress her. When she failed to resist, he became emboldened and roughly pushed her on her back and began to pull apart her coveralls, exposing her naked body.
"Can't you take off that helmet? I want to see your face."
Zell hesitated for a moment. Thinking. He looked around like a boy
doing something wrong, unbuckled the chinstrap and raised the visor, and
took it off. He set the helmet down on the table. Zell had an ugly hard-bitten
face, unshaven with the skin of his jowls hanging loosely. His brown eyes
were deep-set under a heavy brow. He had a crew cut. Waldek saw in horror
that he had some sort of implant on the side of his head. A metal circular
disk several centimeters in diameter. He also removed his equipment belt
and the truncheon, which hung from it. These were also placed on the table.
Zell roughly pulled the coveralls from Waldek, hardly containing his excitement at the sight of her naked, if badly bruised and cut up body. He forced her back and climbed on top of her, fumbling with his own pants.
"Wait, wait", Waldek said, gently but firmly pushing him back. "Let me do that for you". He stood back and Waldek slid off the table and dropped to her knees and unbuckled his pants, releasing him. She leaned forward and he roughly grabbed her head and thrust into her, grunting in lust. Waldek took him in. She waited several minutes until he was fully involved with his own pleasure. Steeling herself for what must be done, she bit down as hard as she could, twisting back and forth, cutting, and grinding. Zell shrieked in horror and pain, punching at her head but she wouldn't let go. He was trapped. She could taste and feel blood pouring into her mouth. Zell pushed forward and grabbed his truncheon, then brought it down heavily on her head over and over until she let go. Then he collapsed into a heap next to her body screaming in pain. His whole crotch was a mass of blood. He screamed over and over again.
The door slid open and two large Kra'Vak guards entered followed a minute later by the purple Kra'Vak. They observed the scene. The purple Kra'Vak had no ability to discern what had happened outside of the fact that his servant was damaged, as was the captive, who lay beside him unmoving. Zell was awash in blood, having lost several pints now, crying uncontrollably. It was evident to the Kra'Vak that Zell had acted against his directives and assaulted the captive. It had evidently found enough strength to defend itself. The purple Kra'Vak grunted something at the guards. One bent over and grabbed the sobbing Zell by the shoulder and dragged him out of the room, trailing a thick trail of red blood. That one would have to be discarded. No worries there were others. The fars'tok guard would have to be put to death for incompetence. His subfamily would be disgraced.
Waldek lay curled in a ball. Her face covered in blood, as was the side of her head. She was bleeding from her ears also. The alien scanned her with a device. He ordered the other guard to pick her up and put her on the table. Poking and prodding and using different force levels in its device failed to elicit any response form the captive. However it was alive. They would need to find a way to repair it sufficiently to continue interrogation. This was of paramount importance.
R&S Team Two picked its way carefully along a treacherous rock shelf. Their plans for an easy exfiltration had been dashed when a Kra'Vak patrol was spotted moving along their initial exfil route. In fact, they had heard firing, but Molitoris and Donner could not discern the nature of the action. From the look of their activities, it seemed as if they were training. This sudden turn of events had necessitated a change in plans. Since they had the longest walk back to the release point, they were none too happy.
The smashed rocks, large and small gave way easily underfoot, and the clacking reverberated along the smooth canyon walls. Moving at night made things more difficult. Again there was little aurora activity and no moonlight. However, they were experienced climbers and the schwabs with them had been moving in these parts for a month. Once down off the cliff the going was easier and they made good time. They skirted well east of the spaceport with the intent of swinging wide north around Röt Hafen.
They came across a deep ravine, perhaps 50 meters wide, which had not been on their maps or digital imagery. It stretched off kilometers in each direction. Donner made the decision to go across instead of picking a way around. They moved east two hundred meters until they found a small natural trail along one wall of the gully that could lead them down. The far wall looked scaleable.
Carefully they descended. It took fifteen minutes to get to the bottom. At times, their heavy packs made the balancing act tricky, but they were driven by the desire to link back up with friends. At the bottom, the ravine was only twenty meters wide. However, there was no place to safely climb so they headed further east looking for a suitable spot to ascend.
Donner was at point, moving quickly in the sandy bottom. He stopped for a moment to inspect the rock wall. There was less wind down here and it was warmer. He wrinkled his nose at a strange scent. Holding up a closed fist, he signaled his team to freeze. He stood silent and still, trying to ascertain what he was smelling. After a minute, he signaled Eric forward with a flick of his hand.
"What is it?" Asked Molitoris.
"You smell something?"
Eric cocked his head. "Nope."
"Well try harder."
Molitoris removed his helmet and sniffed again. "Hmm, I do smell something."
"I smell it too", said Havitch, one of their Schwabs.
"Let's keep moving." As Donner moved down the ravine the smell grew more powerful. It was the smell of death. Rotting flesh. "Something's dead up ahead."
They continued moving as the stench grew. Donner was a bit spooked. The green hue of his NVGs, the smell of rotting flesh and the howling wind whistling along the tops of the ravine walls unsettled him. He gripped his rifle tighter and raised the butt to the pit of his shoulder, at the ready fire position.
As they turned a corner they found the source. Before them appeared to be a huge pile of discarded clothing. But as they walked closer, the men realized that the rags and clothing were actually dead human bodies, piled ten meters high. The heap stretched along the ravine as far as he could see. They had walked into a large mass grave.
"Oh my God." said Molitoiris. One of the Germans did the sign of the cross. The smell was overpowering. They could not remain. They began to back away.
"Wait," said Donner. "We gotta get a picture of this. Eric let me see the K45. Molitoris hit his quick release strap and dropped his ruck, eyes fixated on the carnage. He fished the device out and handed it to Donner. "The rest of you pull security. This'll take a few minutes."
Many of the bodies bore grotesque bullet wounds. Some looked like they had simply had their heads smashed in. Others had no visible damage. There were men, women, and children of all ages. Almost all were civilians. There was no way to get an accurate count but it had to be in the thousands. Donner filmed it all. Once he'd had enough, Donner walked back to the others and handed the camera back to Molitoris. "Good Lord, brother. I hope I never see anything like that again."
They reformed and headed back west down the ravine. It took another twenty minutes until they found a way up and out. No one spoke the entire trip back to the RP.
Gerard sat in shock as he watched Donner's playback. "Unbelievable", was all he could say. He took Donner's vid disk and fed it into his data compiler unit. Here, reports, video and other data, were compiled into one report, with his comments as commander added. It was then encrypted and prepared for transmission. Once done, the reconstituted patrol of 14 men headed out. Four kilometers to the west, they had selected a patrol base to remain hidden for the coming day.
After the patrol was settled in, Gerard, Miner, and two Germans headed out to make the commo shot back to the base. The guerrillas had been using a secure focused IR laser datalink, which operated on line of sight only. Any type of omni-directional transmission or FM/UHF/VHF transmission was too risky. Also the heavy Aurora activity effected communications adversely. Brooks had come up with a plan to get the R&S data back to the base without having to hand carry it there. After thorough terrain analysis, they had selected four hilltops within line of site of each other, yet masked from Röt Hafen (city). Matthais had arranged for two-man teams to occupy the two middle mountaintops and set up relay sites. Brooks operated the base station site. Gerard and Miner would send from a different hill at a prescribed time.
It was a two-hour climb to get to the correct hilltop. They set up the device, (known as an LDL-12). It sat on a telescoping tripod. The device was not was not much larger than a sniper scope, attached by cable to a disk reader. They entered in the correct positioning data for their location and the target site. When ready, Gerard activated the LDL-12, and the rest happened automatically. It queried the relay site, received a confirmation, and then sent the data in one burst. The relay site confirmed data reception and a green LED signaled Gerard that the device has done its job. The commo team broke down the relay and headed back to the patrol base.
This process was repeated at each relay site until Brooks had received the data. He took the precious information to Mellor, who would spend the next six hours compiling it, together with his own information. He ensured the data was in the proper format needed to be sent off planet. Brooks worked with his team four schwabs which would be making the scheduled off planet shot. They reviewed the communications route. He cross-trained them on operation of his PSC33 satcom. They worked out a few simple patrol SOPS and rehearsed some immediate action drills in the event they ran into trouble.
Once Mellor had finished preparing the data he made a copy of the disk for himself, then encoded the information onto a transmission disk and gave it to Brooks. Brooks would not know the three one sentence phrase that determined the encryption key. This ensured that if the commo team was captured, none of them could divulge information on breaking the code.
At 1500, Brooks and his patrol set of on the ten-kilometer hike to the communications site. If for some unforeseeable reason their mission was compromised, or the transmission was pinpointed through enemy direction finding methods, they would be far away from the base. Caution was a communications specialist's middle name in these types of operations.
Mellor remained behind and worked with Matthais in analyzing the information pertaining to the prisoner snatch. Lawrence and Mills had included much information about proposed targets. Matthais and Mellor agreed that the initial plan proposed by them was sound, and set about preparing the equipment and personnel they would need. Once everything was ready, they prepared a message to be sent back to the patrol, confirming details of the link up and other matters. This was sent back to Gerard via the same relay system at 1900. After that, Mellor and Matthais gathered their twenty-man team and left for the rendezvous.
At the patrol base, Mellor's return message was deciphered and read. With his confirmation of the initial plan, they could now set about planning the details in earnest, But not before the patrol relocated to new patrol base, ten kilometers away.
Looking for Trouble (Part 3 of 4), chapter 4 of Röt Hafen
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