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Sting of the Scorpion part 5 'Closing in'

Updated on October 8, 2016
lawrence01 profile image

I am an ex soldier and I spent time in the Middle East among the Kurds. I loved writing this story as I could tell part of my story.

From the previous. The drug smugglers

Whoever it was wasn’t going to be friendly, ‘Could be Shepherds’ they pretty much all thought, but then where were the sheep? ‘More likely smugglers of some kind’ was the next thought; the team had no intention of finding out!

Jacko signalled the rest of the team to head off on a tangent, Mac, Joey and Sandy headed that direction, as soon as they got level with the man smoking they stopped, went to ground, there were three of them, but far enough away that the team could move carefully without being seen, one quick click of the mike told Jacko and Smithy to join them, everyone watched their arc’s despite the temptation to all watch the drowsy men who eventually stubbed out their cigarette and went off the sleep blissfully unaware of how close to a silent but violent end they’d come!

River crossing

About a mile further on they came to the source of the noise of the running water, a small river flowing over rocks, it wasn’t deep, just waist deep but at thirty feet wide it wasn’t that easy to cross either.

They’d taken up a defensive position again while Jacko surveyed the situation, as soon as that was done he and Mac took the ropes they were all carrying, tied them together and threaded one end round a tree, Stripping everything off right down to his underwear Mac put all his clothes and equipment and put them either into the backpack in a plastic bag, or attached them to its sides, then he took both ends of the rope and tied them round his waist before wading the river, the pack and rifle were left on the bank for the boys to ferry across later.

A bunch of 'civvies' try the river crossing 'SAS' style!

Behind schedule

As soon as he was across the river he found a suitable tree and looped the ropes round it then started pulling knowing that team would see the rope moving and start attaching the packs so that he could get them across on a sort of pulley system. Within minutes he was joined by Smithy and Jacko who’d waded the river and worked the system. They’d literally walked under the packs making sure everything got over without getting wet and brought Mac’s equipment with them, as soon as they were there they quickly changed back into their combat gear and took up defensive positions to make sure Joey and Sandy who’d stayed behind to make sure they were ‘covered’ could make the crossing safely, they brought up the rear of the unit.

The weapons they carried had clips fitted that enabled them to be clipped to the combat webbing for the parachute jump so they could make a freefall with their weapons attached and have no issues. The team clipped the weapons, webbing and backpacks all together then used the slings of the weaponry to attach the bundle to the ropes.

There were two things that they could not afford to get wet, one was the ammunition, water seeping into a round of ammunition, even just one could get you killed in a fire fight as your weapon ‘misfired’ but your opposition firing that tenth of a second later (and a tenth of a second before you could eject the round and get a new hopefully dry one) means a body bag for you! The second was the electronic equipment they were carrying including small portable solar panels for recharging the night vision visors and Sandy’s Satellite phone.

As soon as they were all across, Mac and Jacko untied the rope ends then started pulling one end, as each piece came across the ropes were untied from the longer one, checked and rewound ready for the next time, even Sandy had stripped down to her underwear, they each got re-dressed in turn making sure that the group was fully protected at all times.

“We’re behind schedule boss!” Mac spoke in a low voice, “No way will we make ten before sunrise!”

“Shit happens” Jacko replied in as low a voice. “We’ll still make eight, that’ll have to be enough for now!” rising from his crouch he spoke softly “OK folks, let’s get moving again”

Watch your 'six'

Always watch your 'six'
Always watch your 'six'

Moving on

The day starts in Iran with a call from the minaret, the call to prayer given. The ‘Fajr’ prayer is the most important as it’s when people start moving around, tradition has it that it’s when the Angels change their guard and those who’ve guarded the night go back to heaven while the new guards of the day take over, the team could hear the call to prayer in the village far away, they also knew that it’s about the time any shepherds would be waking up.

They were high in the mountains now, finding a small valley where a small stream had once come crashing down, the rocks looked as if in winter and spring the stream might return with a force, but right now, at the beginning of the autumn the bed was dry and gave good cover from the rest of the valley. Half way up the valley Smithy stopped, everyone immediately went to ground. The sun was just beginning to show, its first slivers touching the horizon as it rose,

Jacko went forward at Smithy’s signal, within minutes he was signalling them forward, they spotted a cave that would be great for what they need.

This is awesome (Listen to the Music) US Special Forces

Respite, the cave

Jacko went forward at Smithy’s signal, within minutes he was signalling them forward, they spotted a cave that would be great for what they need.

The one advantage of caves over camping is they are always cool, the sun almost never gets to the back of most caves, so they stay cool, even when the temperatures are hitting 120 degrees in the shade a cave will be a cool 50 or so degrees.

The entrance was pretty narrow, just wide enough for one to squeeze through at a time, that was both good and bad! Good in that they’d be able to guard it pretty easily, but bad in that if it was the only way in then if an enemy showed up they’d be trapped and would need to fight their way out.

“Mac” Jacko spoke to the big Scotsman as he passed into the cave, “Check for any exits at the back, you know what we need.” That was simple, if he found one he was to rig a warning device so that anyone coming that way doesn’t stumble into a squad of unprepared Special Forces who weren’t meant to be there. The rest of the team began unpacking their equipment and cleaning their weapons.

There’s an order to things in situations like this that must be followed at all times, your life literally ‘hangs in the balance’ miss one out or get it wrong and it could kill you! The first priority is always clean and check your weapons make sure they’re 100% ‘good to go’ and when you need them they will be! Number two is food! Eat what you need to eat, but don’t bloat yourself! ‘Blades’ know what they need and are clued up on nutrition so they get what they need and no more. Number three is sleep, once the other two are done, if you’ve no work then get some sleep as you don’t know when you’re going to get the next opportunity, it could be days away.

Mac took about fifteen minutes to sort out the rear, “There’s an entrance there, goes in about three hundred feet, and then cuts up. Comes out on the other side of the ridge about a hundred feet from the top”

“Sounds like a good route for an emergency!” Jacko replied. “We’ve sorted out three hour stints for guard duty” He explained. “Its 7am now, Joey and Sandy will take the first, then me, then Smithy and finally you’ve got from 4 to 7pm!”

“Sounds good to me” Mac replied and immediately grabbed his pack, they’d passed an orchard on the way and scrummed a few of the apples that had fallen from the trees, being slightly bruised no one would really notice them missing, and with the energy bars they’d give that little bit more energy for the following day. He tucked into an apple as he laid out the groundsheet for sleeping, within minutes those not guarding had finished their apples and energy bars and were asleep.

The Lions Den

show route and directions
A markerAlamut Castle, Iran -
Qazvin, دسترسی به قلعه حسن صباح، Alamut Castle, Iran
get directions

The target for the team.

B markerTehran, Iran -
Tehran, Tehran, Iran
get directions

Routines

The Army says the most likely time for an attack is either just before dawn or just after sunset as that’s the time when folks are the most vulnerable, in the morning they’re still waking up and at night the eyes haven’t totally adjusted to the lack of light (and the fact people want to sleep) so it’s a standard practice for all military units within the British Army to ‘Stand to’ for an hour just before dawn and just about sunset, the Regiment is the same! The team was ‘stood to’ weapons at the ready from 7pm until about an hour after dark; it was 8.30 when Jacko called the team together for a briefing.

It was more like a ‘brainstorm than a briefing! Regular units have their officers get up and tell the men the great life saving plans they’ve come up with, the Regiment knows better and everyone gets a say in the plan.

“We should arrive just before Dawn” Jacko looked around the group, four tense faces looked at the map he’d spread out in front of them.

They ran through all the preparations they could think of at the time and tried to work them out ahead of time but in the end they were agreed that ‘fine tuning’ the plan would have to wait until they got there.

“Right then” Jacko stood up and looked around the team, “Lead us off Smithy”.

Destination in sight!

The Target, Alamut Castle
The Target, Alamut Castle | Source

Arrival

The first glimpse of the fortress was when they exited the cave, in the twilight they could see lights high on the mountains to the East, too high up for it to be a village, it had to be Alamut. The light was like a beacon calling to them ‘come closer’ and like moths to a flame they were drawn towards that light.

Just before the dawn began to break Jacko called a halt in a small wood half way up the mountain, there was a small dried up river bed running into the wood from the left, it seemed to originate further up near the other peak, “If we head up the river bed we should be able to stay out of sight of the fortress” he spoke quietly, “That way hopefully we’re not seen”

“What about villagers?” Sandy asked, none of them wanted to be detected so close to the target, the last thing they needed was some villager strolling into their camp and setting off the alarm!

“We’re pretty close to the snow line” Jacko replied, “any shepherds or other people with the right to be out will be further down the mountain.

“Don’t forget smugglers!” Sandy replied. “What about them?”

“We’re off the main smuggling route here” it was Joey who replied, kind of surprising Sandy a bit, “and it’s unlikely they’ll want smugglers so close to their own base, there might be a patrol, but even that’s unlikely”

Being such a remote location can have its advantages and one of them is it’s easy to keep an eye on what’s going on around you. Putting checkpoints out on the roads and the occasional patrol through the valley would be enough to deter the villagers from prying too much, anything else and if the Iranians found out about armed guards patrolling mountains could cause more trouble than it’s worth.

“They’ll be pretty vigilant in the fortress” Mac spoke up, “with sentries etc, but probably confident they can stop anything without needing to blanket the bloody place!”

Smithy was the first to go, he advanced about a hundred meters then went to ground and called the next forward. At all times one was moving, but the other four were watching ready to let hell itself loose if they were seen. The going was slow, but by two hours after dawn they were close to where they wanted to be for the observation point, there they’d be able to watch the fortress for the next thirty six hours.

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    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 15 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Robert

      I didn't mention before, I'm also ex Army so I had a lot of fun remembering some of the stuff we used to do and then trying to condense why it's done into one or two sentences, I loved every minute of the writing! And I'm glad people are enjoying re adding it.

      Lawrence

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 15 months ago

      You're explaining the details is great.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 18 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Deb

      Sort of! When I was in the Army we trained for all these kind of things. One time we did an 'escape and evasion' exercise where we were meant to be prisoners escaped from an enemy and on the run.

      At the briefing beforehand we had Paratrooper instructors telling us what to expect in the event of the real thing and one of the points they brought out was when 'on the run' like this ALWAYS watch the RV point for at least 24 hours before going to meet a 'contact'

      On the actual exercise we had a real 'enemy' in the 1st Battalion Parachute regiment (SAS love to take from the 'Paras' as they're already elite fighting soldiers and as hard as nails!) and we did that for the first RV only to see that they'd actually laid a trap for our lads and anyone who went in got well lets just say they didn't bother with niceties like the Geneva convention!

      When we saw that there were four of us and we decided not to play at their game and went 'missing' for four days! It caused chaos with the unit as the C.O. (who'd planned the damn thing) had no idea where we were!

      We did know the final location of the exercise and got caught just before the end but man seeing their faces when the heard what we'd done was classic!

      My 'reward' for it was eight hours of 'tactical questioning' (read interrogation) that I've found useful over the years but that's other stories!

      After the Army something similar to what happened to 'Chambers' did actually happen to me in Turkey and the mental preperation that I had in the Army really did help! But that's another story that I might one day write.

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 18 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Sounds like a real recon mission. Did you base this on a real life experience?

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 18 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      Can't 'slacken off' now! Not when we're so close to the target.

      Glad you're enjoying it.

      Lawrence

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 18 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Eric

      We used to have a rule in the Army that simply said "if you aren't working (when out in the field) you should be sleeping!! Guess what they'll be doing for the next few hours?

      Lawrence

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      What I like about your fiction is the breakneck speed of it...there is no time to catch your breath before the next action-packed scene...well done, my friend.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 18 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      So far I am tired and hungry. And now I have to wait 36 hrs. Really good stuff. Thank you

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 18 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      John

      Thanks for the visit and the compliment. I'll try not to get too 'bogged down' with the details.

      Glad you're enjoying it.

      Lawrence

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 18 months ago from Queensland Australia

      The story is still going strong, Lawrence. Your attention to detail is commendable. Loving it.