Read Insurgency Online

Authors: Alex Shaw




ONE: Deh Rawod District, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan

As the blood slipped down his throat Krasnov felt a fire ignite within. The weakness left him to be replaced with a strength that no mortal could match. He was ready to fight. The blistering Afghan sun had been replaced by a hunter’s moon and tonight Krasnov would start his hunt again. The Americans under the banner of ‘ISAF’ were going to assault the cave complex; it would be their missiles that would enable him to complete his own mission. A quarter of a century had passed since he had been face to face with his enemy. Becoming a vampire had taught Krasnov patience but it had also taught him how to kill. It was not that he hadn’t killed men before, but that had been different. Those kills had been sanctioned by his country, by his government, by the mighty Soviet Union’s war machine. Now he killed so that he may feed. Now the killing was for personal need. But tonight’s kills would fulfil a different type of need, vengeance. Krasnov had not asked to become a vampire; to be ‘made monster’ by the cold Russian who used men like him to destroy. Krasnov had made it his mission to eradicate those who had created him and murdered innocent Afghans all those years before. Their demise would be salvation for Krasnov’s crimes. He moved nearer to the opening of the tunnel and felt the presence of an all but silent American UAV in the sky above. Within minutes a Hellfire missile would slam into the Taliban base below. The Americans were about to start their attack and would either discover or destroy the facility. Krasnov collected his Kalashnikov and moved deeper into the mountain.

Brad Black call-sign ‘Peter Pan’ focussed down the sight of his Barrett M82A1. A Taliban fighter holding an RPG against his shoulder, stood squarely in the Delta operative’s crosshairs. A thin smile spread across Black’s lips as he imagined the imperceptible whine above of the first Hellfire missile. Launched by an almost silent RQ-170 Sentinel, the USAF’s latest model of ‘stealth’ unmanned drone, the impact would be sudden and shocking. There was a squelch in his ear piece, the ready signal. Operating far closer to the target than any ‘green’ army unit, the Delta team were risking being caught in a ‘blue on blue’. Black collected his Barrett and slithered backwards down the wadi, a mere eighty meters away from the Taliban base. The camp itself was not the target, it was the suspected cave network beneath and what it may contain. It was a hard and deeply buried target or an HDBT in Pentagon talk.

Black imagined the missiles hurtling towards the camp, ever narrowing the distance between target and destruction. And then the impact came…even though he was wearing a helmet and had his palms pressed over his ears, the noise was deafening. One explosion; a moment later a second and then a third. Black scrambled back up the bank of the wadi and re-took his eyeball on the camp. He scanned the smouldering site for targets. A figured staggered out of a cave entrance. He was on fire. Black took him out in an instant, the single shot from his Barrett all but vaporising the Talib’s head. Black then acquired a group of fighters moving towards the entrance of another cave, now visible after the airstrike. He managed to get two before they disappeared inside. There were shouts as armed fighters raced out of the only building to remain intact, firing wildly into the milky dawn light which was now streaked with flames. Black’s Barrett barked again and almost immediately the nearest fighter vanished, hurled backwards as a huge hole ripped through his torso. Black acquired his next target and sent another .50 cal round into the tall Afghan. Black estimated ten men in total now scurrying around the camp like ants, badly trained and poorly equipped. He picked off two more who were attempting to set up a Russian PKM. Disbelief raced through Black’s head, if this was the best that the Taliban could manage how did they still exist?

There was a hiss in his ear. “Time to kick some Tali-but?” Gonzalez, the team leader, call-sign ‘Giant’, gave the action command for the rest of his assault team to move in.

More high velocity rounds from ‘Minute Man’, the second Delta sniper now joined the grunts of HKs. Through the dust and dark smoke there were more figures still moving, moaning, and screaming. The remaining Taliban were dispatched in a sickening hail of lead. All visible targets had been eliminated. Black felt no remorse for the dead men in front of him. Their al-Qaeda allies had chosen to attack the US and the Taliban had chosen to enslave the people of their own country.

“Minute Man to Peter Pan. Time to join the party.” Another hiss in his earpiece informed him.

“Peter Pan, Minute Man, confirmed over.” Black slung the Barrett ‘light fifty’ across his back and picked up his own secondary weapon, an HK-416. Moving tactically into the camp, he was on alert for any possible IEDs or remaining Taliban.

Minute Man, real name Marvin Styles strode towards Black with his HK in its ready position. “You missed a couple of ‘runners’.”

The rivalry between the two Delta snipers was friendly, if intense. “I got mine.”

“Yours, huh? Don’t go collecting any ears.”

The two operatives purposefully moved towards the nearest cave. Gonzalez, Eaton and Flagon had taken the second cave at the far end of the camp. The last member of their six man team, Miller, threw a pair of flashbangs into the cave entrance. They took cover as two explosions erupted from inside.

“On me.” Lowering his NVGs Miller advanced inside.

Black pulled down his own Night Vision Goggles and cursed. They were dead. Moving into the inky darkness of the cave, Black started to get a strange feeling. The comms network crackled as Miller attempted to contact Gonzalez. There was a sudden, piercing, whining, noise in his ear piece. Wincing he pulled it out. Night suddenly turned to day as an explosion tore through the tunnel. Both Styles and Miller were briefly illuminated before the shockwave threw them to the ground. Black’s head hit a rock and stars erupted before his eyes.

He’d been out for what felt like hours but was in fact only seconds. The Delta sniper rolled onto his front. His back was in agony from landing on his rifle and his neck felt numb. Moving forward in the darkness, he tried to reach out for the others. He found a body and pulling himself to the head, whispered in the ear. “Marvin, that you?”

“Shit man, can’t see nothing.” Styles groaned. The explosion had been blinding in the NVGs.

“You hurt?”

Styles sat up, blinking. “No. You?”

Black lied. “No.” He grunted as he got to his feet. “Stay here.”

“What option do I have?”

Miller, a few feet ahead, was crouching behind a large boulder his NVGs raised. “Peter Pan, ready?”

Black followed Miller, ever aware that death was only a second away from a grenade, a round from an AK or a blade thrust towards him in the darkness. They followed the rock face until it suddenly fell away. Miller held up his fist, his arm at a right angle. ‘Stop’. This was it; this was the moment of maximum exposure. Miller pulled down his NVGs, retrieved a new flashbang from his webbing and threw it into the darkness ahead. Both Deltas again screwed their eyes shut and put their hands on their helmets and pushed tight against their ears, but the explosion felt all the more deafening in the confined space. Millisecond’s after the flash the Americans darted into the abyss, weapons up ready. Their HK’s took different arcs, scanning for any sign of movement. Black removed a pair of snap sticks from his webbing twisted them and threw them. An eerie green glow illuminated the space ahead. The chamber was a storage room for Taliban equipment and Intel suggested the regional commanders assault plans. But at the far end there was another opening caused by a rock fall. Both Deltas moved forward to inspect the find.

Miller raised his goggles. “What the hell have we got here?”

They were standing at the entrance of a high ceilinged room, man-made, excavated with heavy machinery. A dim green glow came from the walls casting enough light for them to see. To the left, several Taliban fighters lay, still smouldering, sprawled against fallen rocks like bundles of rags. Another was still alive and crawling towards them, his shattered legs leaving a trail of blood which glowed in the unnatural light. There were strike marks on the rock floor. The men had set off an IED.

Miller whispered into his throat mike. “Target X secure.” He then kicked the Taliban fighter hard, rolling him over onto his back. Miller held his HK-416 against the fighter’s head and spoke in Pashtun. “What is this place?”

The fighter groaned. Miller pushed harder. “Answer my question, or you’ll join your friends, and where you’re going they won’t be any virgins!”

The fighter turned his head and spat. He spoke in accented English, British, Midlands. Black tried not to laugh, the guy sounded like Ozzy Osbourne.

“You feenk I’m afraid to die, you fooking American? I’ll be a martyr…”

“Enough.” Miller pressed the muzzle harder into the Brit’s head. “You either tell me what I want to know or I’m throwing you to the pigs.”

The fighter’s face contorted with rage. “You have rules. I have rights I do; I’m a prisoner of war…”

“Pick him up.”

Black pulled the fighter to his feet. Miller hit the fighter in the jaw with the stock of his HK. The Brit went limp. Miller secured the man’s hands with plasticuffs, and grinning said to Black. “Winning hearts and minds.”

“What the…” Styles drew level with them, goggles off blinking taking in the man-made expanse in front of him.

“Nice of you to join us. Here, take this and stay with.” Miller pushed the prisoner towards Styles. Together they put him in the recovery position on the floor. With mock concern Miller added. “We can’t let him choke, he has rights.”

Black moved to the other side of the cave. He could now see several more corpses but these were not Taliban. He prodded the nearest with his desert boot. “This one’s been beheaded,” he took another step, “so has this one.”

“Mercs?” Miller drew nearer and looked at the body.

The corpses were uniformed and Black noticed a Red Star. “Russians?”

“Almost.” Miller got on his haunches. “Yah ah, these guys’ been dead for a long, long time. We’re looking at the Soviet Union’s best. But there’s no decay, it’s almost like they’ve been mummified. I saw a documentary about it once; it’s all about the gasses in the soil.”

Black shrugged. “Weird shit, c’mon time to take pictures for the Pentagon.”

Miller retrieved a digital camera, put it on video setting and started to record. Standard ISAF intelligence gathering missions were recorded by miniature helmet mounted cameras but this time they had been give specific instructions not to wear any. They were to secure the target and then start ‘rolling’. Miller moved away, towards the back of the cave, making sure that he captured some close ups of the bodies and the assorted equipment which now in the light from the camera he could see scattered amongst them.

Styles heard a feint groan and spun, weapon raised. There was a sudden movement, something sprang at him. Instinctively his finger applied pressure to his HK and rounds flew at the advancing shape. At point blank range the rounds tore into the dark figure, causing it to convulse in mid-air and land heavily in a heap on the floor. “Peter Pan, to your six!”

Black turned as Styles’ HK spat again. A shadowy shape hit Black’s shoulder causing him to fall. The attacker got on top of him. Black grabbed his assailant’s arms and rolled over. The eyes of the man were blood red. The attacker bared his teeth like an animal and pushed down, his mouth snapping. Black was paralyzed; something was stopping his arms from working, he tried to shout but no sound came. The attacker clamped his hands on Black’s head, forcing his skull into the ground. Black’s vision blurred, he started to grey-out. Then the pressure stopped as the attacker was ripped away. Black tried to move but before he could a pair of razor sharp teeth pierced his neck and his world disappeared into darkness.


Fire Base Python, Pasaband District, Ghowr Province, Afghanistan

The mood at the debrief was sombre. Delta had one man MIA presumed KIA, his body had not been recovered, and a second was in a critical condition. Gonzalez hurled the nearest chair in disgust.

“Control yourself Sargent.” Colonel Matthers, the SF liaison officer stood in the entrance of the briefing room. He had flown in from Camp Bastion for the debrief. “The loss of your man is regrettable but our objective was achieved.”

Gonzalez glared at the Brit, righted the chair and sat heavily. “Fuck your objective.”

Matthers, showed no emotion but the US officer accompanying him bristled. “The War on terror is our objective, soldier.”

“Sir.” Gonzalez stared at Major Rockbridge. The man was an ass-kisser.

Matthers addressed the four remaining members of the Delta team. “The data you have provided us with has confirmed our belief that this was a staging base for foreign fighters, the British prisoner is proof of that. We have also gained valuable intelligence regarding the Taliban’s use of tunnel networks. Both of these pieces of information have seriously diminished their ability to operate in the area.”

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