Updated 1.28.1999

Choke Point

Röt Hafen Chapter 8

copyright 1998 by Carlos Lourenco

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Choke Point
Röt Hafen chapter eight. copyright 1998 by Carlos Lourenco
KRS Kreta
In orbit above Röt Hafen
14 August, 2184 0100 Fleet Standard Time

"Bloody Hell."

Muldoon stared at the pile of field kit in front of him and sighed in resignation. As a young soldier, he had been posted to an infantry unit for four months until his acceptance to OCS came through. Those four months had been a most unpleasant experience, which he swore never to repeat. Now here he was getting ready to repeat the experience.

"'Ere, Sir. What's this thing, then?" Asked Glover, holding up a contraption of interlacing straps.

"How the bloody hell should I know?" He answered.

"That's your protective-mask canister retaining strap, but the schwabs call then spaghetti straps." They looked up and saw a slim sandy blond-haired man standing in the hatchway, hands in pockets. He wore the gray green (known as feldgrau in schwab parlance) coveralls of RLS-3 but spoke with an English accent. With a smirk on his face, he walked forward and offered a hand to Muldoon.

"Lieutenant Grant, liaison to RLS-3. I'm from the 504th." Muldoon stood up and shook the man's hand. "I'm Lieutenant..."

"Muldoon. Yes I know I saw you in the briefing."

"This here is Corporal Glover and that's Corporal Max."

"Hello, chaps. I thought I'd come by and help you sort yourselves out before the big show. I know there's not much time left, and I don't suppose any of you flyboy types know much about field kit. Here, let me have a go." Grant knelt before Muldoon's pile and quickly sorted the gear into various groups. "Let's start at the bottom, so to speak." He was holding up a white one-piece undersuit. "This is a polypropylene-D undersuit. It keeps you warm, helps whisk moisture away and retains heat when wet. You'll want to put this on first."

Glover and Max stripped off their coveralls and donned the one-piece. Muldoon stripped down and was already wearing his own. "I'll stick to my aviator issue.

"Christ, the bloody thing itches, said Max."

"Right, next is this one-piece uniform." Grant held up a reddish brown-mottled one-piece field uniform adorned with numerous pockets. "This is the standard-issue RLS field uniform for our environment. It's heavy duty for cold weather. It's been impregnated with a special U-blocking aerosol so as to help make you less visible to the Kra'Vak at night. Supposedly they see in UV. The impregnated chemicals become useless if you wash your uniform, so don't. There's a zipper here, Snaps there. Cinch down these straps at the waist, neck, legs, and arms when done." They donned their suits. "Oh I almost forgot. You have to put this on first. He was holding up a small white patch with a few ECG leads on it. Unzip for a moment and I'll attach it for you. Goes right onto the skin. The wire goes out through this hole. That way, a medic can get a quick vitals check on you if you go down. Now the boots here..."

"That's all right. We're going to wear are own."

"I'd think twice. These are specially insulated and have protective inserts."

"The time to break in a new pair of boots is not two hours before an operation. We'll stick with our own, thank you."

"Suit yourself." Grant held up a thick smock. It looked almost like another jumpsuit with the same mottled camouflage as the rest of their kit. It had full arms but the legs only came down to mid-thigh just above the knees. "This, my friends, is what the schwabs call a "bone sack". It's got flexible kevlar-type III plates sewn into the chest, thighs and shoulders. Again, these straps, zippers, and buttons adjust the fit. You'll notice its web reinforced to attach your kit to. It's also designed to carry your gear inside the bone sack if you should choose. Go ahead and get it on. I'll help adjust them." They stepped into their bone sacks and zipped them up. A flap containing the kevlar trauma plate attached across the chest. Grant then attached additional kit to the purpose-built smock. Your water canteens go over your kidneys like this. You butt pack with personal belongings sits over the small of your back."

"Not very big, is it?"

"No it's not. Travel light, freeze at night, that's the Schwab para's motto." He held up a belt-like bandoleer with a number of pockets. "The bandoleer goes around your neck like this, then snaps into the web belt around your waist. Behind your neck is an additional strap to hold the bandoleer in place. Magazines go in the top four pouches, binary propellant goes into the bottom two. There's an option for a continuos feed bottle that hooks below your butt pack.

"I don't suspect we'll be doing much firing. That's why we're bringing the radios along."

Grant laughed. He swung his own rifle around and held it up. "Old boy, this'll be red-hot before you get any help out of that thing."

"We bloody-well hope not, Mate."

"Each one of these pockets will fit a day's rations. Now for this extra stuff, it goes in your pouches and buttpack. Survival kit; Utility tool; medical kit; spare lamp; heat tabs; cooker. The sleeping bag goes into this auto-compression tube and attaches to straps on your buttpack. Gloves, spare socks, balaclava, etc. can go in there to." The men were busy stowing their gear after a quick inspection.

"This canister contains your protective mask. You can attach it while wearing your helmet and it will provide a vacc seal. There's a spare filter on the bottom of the container. You'll get a red blinking LED in your helmet if the filter on your mask is going bad. Just pull the new one out, unscrew the old one and toss it, then screw in the new one. Simple."

"Okay, now to the helmet. It's lightweight kevlar-type III in build. There are six attaching point adjusters inside to get it sorted out to your head size. If I were you I'd adjust it with the skullcap on first. The skullcap holds your earpieces and mike, as well as electrodes for the vitals reader. That wire attaches behind you neck to the Y splitter on your vitals harness. Now you have a plain flip down visor, which reacts to light and can provide glare protection. The lever for that is on the right side here. This left side lever flips down your night vision. Inside the helmet below the right ear is a three-way knob. Counter-clockwise position is self-test. First clockwise position is off and the second is on. In the back of the helmet there are three DLI slots. They're interchangeable with a number of options but one slot will hold your battery, the second your communications, and the third will hold your GPS."

Grant removed a small monocle from a bag. "This is your monocle. It attaches to your skullcap. You can use the left or right eye it makes no diff. Once attached, it'll project targeting and other HUD data on to your retina. Much more efficient and comfortable than the standard HUD you find in most helmets. Now, feel on the left side of your helmet below your ear. There are four depresses. From left to right, Mode, select, activate, and self test. Using them is self explanatory, much like a wrist watch, play with it a bit and you'll get the hang."

"Last but not least, your rifle, the Sturmgewehr 58."

"We've had a few minutes of familiarization at the sim chamber." Said Max.

"Very good then. Just make sure you keep this bracelet on. That's how the gun communicates with your helmet. So that's about it. I suggest you monkey with your set-ups between now an departure time."

Muldoon stood up. "Thanks for the help mate. Are you heading dirtside with us?"

"I'm afraid not, old boy. You chaps are going in with Second Company. I'll be with battalion HQ."

"You say you're with the 504th. I though they were a yank unit?"

"Oh they are, mostly. But there's a few of us sprinkled about. I'm afraid I need to run along. I have my own final preps to accomplish. Anyway, good luck and I'll see you on the planet. I'm off to see if I can get the latest Gen on what's up. Ta ta for now."

"Yeah, you too mate. Thanks."

Grant left. When he was out of earshot, Glover remarked. "Imagine that. A pomm, stationed in a yank unit, on secondment to the schawbs. Kinda funny."

"It's no more absurd than our lot." Said Max.

"All right let's pull our finger's out, shall we? Make whatever adjustments you need to your kit and let's figure out how to carry all this other stuff we have. I want to report down to the loading bay a half hour early."

"What for?"

"Because I want to make sure we hook up with the company HQ section early enough. I still have to head up to TF control and see if there's been any change to the Air Tasking Order. The squadron is supposed to have at least two birds on five-minute call for the first landing. I just want to make sure there hasn't been any changes. So let's get cracking."

"Hey Sir, do you think that pomm was joking about the red hot rifle and all that?

"I bloody well hope so."

 

Muldoon walked into the TF control room and found a seat. In his new uniform, he drew a few quick glances. Colonel Rölle stood in the front of his officers besides a large holoprojection.

"There are a few last minute changes to the plan. We're starting to get some detailed imagery of the landing zones and of the operational area in general. Combined with intelligence from our Special Forces people, we need to make an adjustment." The map of their AO zoomed in to the road from the landing zones into Röt Hafen. The city itself was set between a number of rugged mountain ranges. This reflected the proximity from several large ore deposits. A single road ran west from the city out to several of the largest mining complexes. At ten kilometers out of the city, this road branched off. One route wound north up to the mountains and the Eudora complex while the second road continued West. It passed through several narrow valleys and then continued out into the large plan, which bordered the open desert. This road passed close to TF Hannibal's selected landing areas and was the main avenue of approach to the city. The Kra'Vak were also well aware of the strategic importance of this route. From the landing area the road passed through a first set of foothills, which was the only natural approach to Röt Hafen for 100 kilometers. This was Loki Pass. Beyond the pass lay a wide valley, perhaps 8 kilometers across, and then another tight pass maybe 8 kilometers in length. There, the road opened into the high steppe where Röt Hafen lay. A huge cliff structure, known as Anvil Massif, stood at the mouth to this second choke point. It was this area, which Rölle zoomed into and was talking about.

"Second Company, RLS-3 was initially due to land at the edge of this valley and occupy a blocking position here at the mouth of Anvil Massif. Now that we are getting some high-resolution imagery of the area, we have discovered a Kra'Vak force is in position here. Our Special Forces had noted enemy activity here in their latest report. Given that tip off, our IIa focused his collection effort in this area and has detected a cleverly hidden enemy force. There are, however, several factors, which are contributing to a less than detailed picture of their dispositions. As the meteorological officer explained earlier, a series a large but intermittent sandstorms are blowing through this area. They are coming up from the central desert, and are normal for this time of year. When they pass over, detailed imagery is impossible to procure. Even in between storms a lot of dust was tossed into the upper atmosphere, which degraded imagery. Also, LTT1583's solar radiation interacted violently with Röt Hafen's magnetic belt. One offshoot of this is the magnificent aurora borealis that lights up the skies most nights. This is playing hell on sensors and making intelligence gathering much more difficult. It is clear that the Kra'Vak were aware of these factors, as well as the possibility of fighting against an enemy with space superiority. They have evacuated nearly all their craft and forces from the spaceport to undisclosed locations. Due to the time constraints to get on the planet and seize Röt Hafen as quickly as possible, there is no time for a detailed search."

"Anyway, having identified this force you will of course note that it is sitting directly upon Second Kompanie's initial objective and overlooking their drop zone. Because of this we're issuing a change in order for you, Hauptmann Plummer. The parachute jump is called off. Instead, your company will land here amongst these low hills at Loki pass. You are to establish your blocking position there and hold off any enemy attempts to get at the landing zones. So essentially you have the same mission, but will defend at Loki Pass instead of Anvil Massif. I anticipate you will need to hold out for no more than four hours before we have the first elements of the 504th there to support you, It will take that long to get them landed, sorted out and over to you. The 4th Hussars should be available within 8 hours. Once we're in position our first task will be to clear the pass all the way to the outskirts of Röt Hafen."

"Herr Oberst, has there been any changes to my attachments?"

"Yes. Second Company, hereafter referred to as Kampfgruppe Plummer, will consist of the following forces: Second Company, RSL-3. Panzer-Aber zug 2 (anti-tank or Paz 2) First section, PzRSL 301. 2 Aufsklarung (recon) sections. One pioneer section. 1 section from battalion Area defense. One fire support coordination team, and OUDF FAC liaison."

"Seven dropships will take you dirtside. The flight plan calls for your force to make atmospheric entry below the horizon from Röt Hafen's defenses and proceed nap of the earth the landing zone. It is imperative that you get unloaded and situated with the utmost speed. It is very likely you will receive a counter attack once the Kra'Vak realize you're there. You must hold this pass, since we can't let the Kra'Vak attack the landing zones until we've established a secure spacehead.

"What Fire support is available, Herr Oberst?"

"TG8 has two monitors working over Röt Hafen as I speak. We will pull the Pommern from that mission and put her in direct support. Lieutenant Muldoon's section will coordinate air support from No. 1 Squadron's Raptors. Their airstrip will be collocated with LZ GRUMMAN. They'll being making their atmospheric entry heavy, so will divert to you're company if needed. However, due to their need to carry an interface module, their ordnance will be limited. Apart from that you will need to rely on your internal fire support until the task force has its tubes on line and the 504th arrives."

Plummer frowned as he entered the notes into his datapad. It was nice to have a full monitor in direct support, but even at the best of times, they could not deliver the precision fire support needed for a close in battle like this. They were better suited for interdiction operations. That left the Raptors. With a limited number of half payload sorties, they would need to be very accurate in their drops. After that he had nothing but the mortars for fire support.

"Hauptmann Plummer, I wish I could give you more assets, but the other companies are securing the rest of the landing areas for our heavy forces. You will have to make due. I'd rather not have to nuke that pass to clear out the enemy. I know you will do your duty. Do you have any further questions?"

"No, Herr Oberst."

"Well then I'll leave you and your officers here to make your final plans. Manifest call is in one hour. Good luck" Muldoon took in all the information, then got on the line to his squadron to get the specifics of their part of the operation. The Raptors were primarily designed for planet-based operations, but had the capability to land from space under their own power using a special interface mod with non-airbreathing engines. This limited the ordinance load out. Muldoon confirmed that each two-ship element would have one bird armed with HAGM-166 Hammerhead guided missiles and the other armed with CBU-255 cluster bomb units.

Hangar bay four on the Kreta could best be described as controlled chaos. It was a cacophony of sounds; shouting, hydraulic lifts, PA announcements, and clanging metal. Eight squat Panavia 252s sturm landers were lined up in the middle of the bay. They were rectangular shaped spacecraft, streamlined with stubby wings at each corner. Each wing ended in an engine pack. The 252s were designed to accept modular payloads. They could be configured for heavy lift, orbital drop, cargo, and troop transport and other missions. These were configured for troop interface landing. The aft end opened to a tailgate. They were painted in flat gray and black. Around them, crew and soldiers scurried and attended to the great beasts like ants in their nursery. Red suited maintenance specialists conducted preflight along with the pilots. Green-shirted payload specialists worked with their RLS-3 counterparts to ensure the proper loading of the company's equipment.

Special attention was paid to the small vehicles of the anti-tank and scout section. Both used a vehicle based on the same chassis. The anti-armor model was known as the Lynx, while the recon model was known as the Weasel. These small tracked vehicles carried a crew of two and provided the foot-mobile infantry with much needed mobility and fire support. It was three meters in length and one and a half meters in height. It carried a crew of two and had a top speed of 70 KPH. There were two separate armament packages. The PAK platoons were armed with a guided missile system (medium) known as the sledge. It was capable of either fire and forget or guided operations. Maximum range on the sledge was 10 kilometers and the hyper velocity warheads could penetrate a meter of chobham armor. The recon platoon were armed with a plasma gun which could provide effective direct support to infantry and double as an anti-tank weapon necessary. Though lightly armored, their greatest asset was that they were small, and four could fit with their crews onto a single 252. The vehicles were carefully backed up the loading ramps and strapped down in preparation of takeoff, all under the watchful eye of the lander's crew chief. Each of Second Company's four platoons would occupy a single lander. Attachments were sprinkled into each ship. While the NCOs oversaw this loading process, the platoon leaders and platoon sergeants received last minute updates on the target area. The company commo and EW specialists went from trooper to trooper making final helmet inspections. The men gathered in platoon huddles, listening and following along as their leaders went through safety checklists, and recounted immediate action drills for landing.

Muldoon was impressed by this ballet, which was final mission prep. The young men and women in the hangar bay bore awesome responsibilities and worked under incredible stress. However being young and well trained they performed their duties flawlessly. Their civilian counterparts back home would be in school enjoying the best years of their youth, with little worries or cares except passing tests and figuring out what to wear to tonight's party. On the Kreta, every action was performed against the backdrop of life or death.

He was also struck by how heavily armed and laden the paras were. Each man was adorned with extra equipment, rations, throw-away rockets and bandoleer. Some of the shorter troopers looked almost ridiculous under their burdens. Their faces were blackened helmets on, chinstraps down. The final step before loading was the arming corner. Here was a large barrel filled with some kinetic absorbing material. Each soldier locked and loaded his weapon, then was inspected to ensure it was on safe. From there, they walked single file to their landers, where they were boarded and seated by the deck apes and crew chiefs. Inside some of the landers, the cramped troops sang "Rot Scheint die Sonne", the paratroopers song.

"Ere, Sir, what's with those things?" Glover was pointing at the first drop ship in line. Fork lifters were loading sleek black coffin-like capsules into sideports of the 252's cargo section. Muldoon recognized them at once.

"Those are the power armor blokes. That 252's carrying a drop module. Once the troopers occupy their capsules, they're loaded into the firing chambers. When the ship reaches the proper firing position it spits them out in one large broadside. They'll be the first ones dirtside."

"Bugger me. Looks like a bloody coffin it does."

"Yeah well, I wouldn't be caught dead in one of those."

 

Captain Vlad Gorsky, lay on his back in absolute darkness. Not sounds penetrated the drop capsule and for the moment there was no chatter on the command net. Power armor had never been designed to sleep in and laying on your back in one of the suits was damned uncomfortable. Gorsky could not imagine a worse time then now, sitting alone in the dark capsule, all preparations done, just waiting. He called up the self-test submenu on his HUD and ran through a system check for the umpteenth time. Everything was in the green. He wanted to tap his foot but the suit inhibitor was on so as not to damage the inside of the capsule. Gorsky commanded panzer RaumLandeSturm Zug 301 (power armor assault platoon). 36 specially trained and expensively equipped troopers were his responsibility. Outside of the capsule he was in complete control of the situation, planning, and his soldier's lives. But now with all the prep over, he was trapped in the capsule and he shook like a leaf. Gorsky had always had a deep fear of enclosed spaces. It was something he had hidden from evaluators because he had wanted a command in power armor so badly. But with everything done and waiting for launch, the tremors returned with a vengeance. Perhaps more serious than his fear of enclosed spaces was his difficulty with trusting others. This was a by-product of his shattered youth and dysfunctional childhood. And in Power Armor, half the game was about trust. Another problem for Gorsky.

One had to trust that the 6 Million SM PZKpfZ III Power Armor Suit would function as designed. If it ceased functioning, he would simply be frozen in place, as his life support ran out. He had to trust that the maintenance techs had done their job properly. He had to trust in the crews, which would pilot the drop ship and deploy him and his platoon with exact precision. The wrong roll angle on the ship and his capsule could skip off the atmosphere into space. More likely, the capsule would enter the atmosphere at the wrong attitude and burn up in upper orbit. An incorrect velocity vector on the drop ship could result in his platoon being scattered over hundreds of kilometers, maybe thousands.

Gorsky had to trust in the drop capsule's construction and maintenance. Would the ploy-carbonate heat shield and heat sinks keep him from slowly frying to death? Would the spoof capsules, drooped with the live ones, interfere and disrupt enemy area defense targeting? He had to trust that the maintenance techs had checked the main capacitor in the capsule, and that it held a sufficient power charge necessary for landing. And he had to trust in the landing radar and control system to ensure it would fire the Gravatic repellor drive at the precise second to slow him from terminal velocity to one meter per second in less than three seconds. The capcitor would also provide that few seconds of power to the inertia damper to keep him from being turned to paste in the few seconds of deceleration.

It was a lot of things to rely on for someone whose trust didn't come easy. Gorsky had been through the drill many times before, and he knew he would be fine once his feet hit the dirt, but that didn't make the wait one bit easier. His lack of trust added to the already legitimate uncertainty. Uncertainty was the air that battle breaths. It lay coiled at the heart of every combat. Uncertainty of the enemies whereabouts, uncertainty of spotty intelligence, the uncertainty of surprise, the uncertainty of a strange planet, uncertainty of rescue, ones own performance and of confusion itself.

 

Gorsky had studied yoga for years, and he put it to good use now as the minutes stretched by. He concentrated on each part of his body, relaxing it in turn. He selected a music file to calm him and help the process along. It was forbidden by regulation to load personal files into the suit's memory storage, but it was a common practice in the platoon, one Gorsky had not sought to disallow. Now the music and his yoga exercises help wash away the stress.

"One minute to launch. Depressurizing Hangar bay." The voice came from somewhere in side his head. Each PA trooper had an interface implant behind his right ear. All communications were jacked directly into his head through there. More importantly the implant interfaced directly into his inner ear's delicate balance mechanism, which the suit used to help control itself during movement.

There were several seconds of acceleration and then nothing, as the drop ship separated from the Kreta and left for the unknown. Today would be a non-standard insertion since the entire platoon was not dropping together. Gorsky and Section One would be dropping onto Loki Pass, to secure it for 2/RLS-3. Half of second section would be dropping to secure LZ GRUMMAN. The second half of the section was dropping into the mountains west of the city to link up with the partisans for a special operation. Gorsky had not been happy about loosing half a section but the orders had come from the top and his protests had gone unheeded.

"Two minutes." Gorsky was now completely relaxed. The fear was still there, quivering just underneath the surface of his consciousness. He knew it was there, waiting to get out, but nevertheless he maintained control. Anyway there was no turning back.

"One minute. Commencing deceleration in twenty seconds." As an after thought, Gorsky remembered to switch off the music. He had left it on occasionally during training drops, but now with combat moments away, he was switched on to a new level of situational awareness, and could not brook the slightest distraction. He felt the heavy pull of gravity as the drop ship began the braking pattern that would put it at the precise velocity, vector and attitude to spit out the first section. The maneuvering seemed to last forever. It was important that the drop ship arrive at the proper position in the shortest possible time so as to minimize the enemy's tracking capability.

"Twenty seconds." The whirring of the outer chamber doors was felt more than heard.

"Ten seconds." He was weightless once again as the ship achieved its optimal attitude. Gorsky felt a violent kick in the back as the capsule was ejected simultaneously with the rest of 1st Section and eight spook capsules. Moments later, he was weightless again as the capsule hung over the planet, gravity gently pulling it down. Gorsky called up the capsule sub menu and watched the altitude, vertical speed indicator and temperature readouts. The capsule vibrated as it penetrated the upper atmosphere. Even though the readouts showed internal temperature remaining steady, he was sweating profusely. It felt hot. He knew it was just his nervous imagination but that did not alleviate his concern. There was an additional pop as a drogue chute corrected the capsule's attitude and decelerated it. That soon cut away and the capsule was back in freefall. At three kilometers height, a second chute deployed as the capsule shell fell away in pieces. The streamer chute kept Gorsky stable and in the correct attitude, though it didn't slow him much. There was a brief moment's disorientation, which he was trained to expect, as he found himself hanging in the air with the ground rushing up at an alarming rate. He concentrated on the horizon as the grav repellor kicked in and was rapidly slowed him to a 1mps descent. He touched the ground with no more force than if he had jumped off a table. Gorsky took a knee and looked around getting his visual orientation. The map showed a perfect spot landing. Green blips on his suit radar identified his troops... The whole eastern horizon was solid with sound as ortillery pounded suspected enemy positions around Anvil Massif. A quick head count showed everyone up. He experienced a second of wild elation after having survived the drop, then brought himself back under control. Ahead of him lay two hills, each roughly two hundred meters tall. For the operation they were called MOE and LARRY. These commanded the western entrance to Loki Pass.

"Let's move people. Everyone to their positions." It was an unnecessary transmission since they knew their tasks. First squad with its eight suits quickly swept over the first hill and cleared it. One team then moved on to the second hill and did the same. Gorsky watched the characteristic loping run of power armored troops. A well-trained PA trooper could reach speeds of 40 kilometers, but it required mastering of the "gait." Second squad bypassed the hills and proceeded eight hundred meters to a single second hill (code-named CURLY) which commanded the eastern entrance to Loki Pass. Having cleared the hill masses, the section then climbed the sides of the ridges on both sides and ensured they were clear of enemies. Once Gorsky was satisfied, he planted the landing beacon atop LARRY. The entire operation had taken fifteen minutes.

"First squad in position."

"Second Squad in position."

"Six, check."

"Helga controller, Panther six. Objective secure. Ready for phase two."

"Hier ist Helga. Verstanten."

Gorsky selected TF datalink in his HUD and tracked the progress of the incoming landers. They were racing in at twenty meters altitude from the west. He looked in that direction and made out the small specks. The seven landers rapidly grew in size. Behind them, and a bit higher, were two Raptors on escort duty. As they approached the ridge, the fighters peeled back into a wide loop. The entire force was careful to remain below the ridgeline from whatever was on the far side of the valley.

With a roar, the landers swept upon them. Their engines rotated vertical as they slowed to a hover. Three sped by Gorsky to land by the hills beyond or behind CURLY. The other four set down between MOE and LARRY. A storm of dust was kicked up as they set down and disgorged their deadly cargoes. The troops and vehicles were unloaded with rapidity, and in three minutes the 252s were headed back the way they came. They would be busy throughout the day shuttling forces down to the planet.

Gorsky ran down the hill to meet up with Captain Plummer. He was talking with the anti-armor commander and the engineer section leader. He turned and saw Gorsky hopping down the hill. The red strip on Gorsky's left shoulder pad ID'd him as the platoon leader.

"There's no way to dig in this shit. Said Sergeant Atkinson, the engineer leader. It's solid. The good thing is that there is so much loose rock around that they can easily pile them up and make some sturdy fighting positions. Overhead cover is going to be a little more difficult."

"Can you assist? Maybe blast some positions." Well, my people are suppose to be laying the minefields in those two kill zones. If I'm helping you dig positions I can't lay mines."

"Understood. I have a few demo-qualified men in the company. Can we get some of your explosives and at least blast some holes for the vehicles? I want to build some hasty fighting positions for them."

"That's not a problem, Herr Hauptmann. Send them to me and we'll give them what they need."

"Very well." Plummer motioned for the Pak leader to follow Atkinson and turned to Gorsky. Though they were both Captains, Plummer had overall control of the mission. "Well, the landings went according to plan." He found it a little unsettling that he could not see Gorsky's face.

"They did indeed. It's clear that your men are well trained."

"Naturlich."

"Your platoons are getting into their positions now. As soon as they're set, I'll take the section forward and scout out the far sides of the ridge. We'll push out as far into the valley as we dare and set up a screen."

"As per the plan. Just make sure you've checked the hills around here first. One enemy OP missed and we're in big trouble."

"I've got people on it now."


Go to Part 2

 


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