CHAPTER 23

 

“General Wang, I assure you that all is fine. We are 12 miles from your position. There has been no sign of the marines. My men have been patrolling as we made our approach. We have just arrived and are setting up camp.” Said Colonel Wai.

“That is good, how many patrols have you sent out?” asked General Wang.

“Six patrols my General. They are due to return any minute I also have five observation posts being manned. The patrols have reported in that they have not found anything as of yet.” The colonel was lying. He had not sent out patrols or had had observation posts being manned.

The general spoke again. “When you find them do not kill them all, I wish to have a few as my personal slaves. I might even get them to confess to a few war crimes and become a hero to the people.” He smirked.

The Colonel was think while the general was having his delusions of grandeur and planning on how he was going to be the leader of the peoples party. He  would wonder why the Marines would to this God forsaken place. There was nothing of value out here or worth their time and energy.

The colonel wondered if this has something to do with the general’s pet project. There are probable no marines even remotely near here. The general should be sending this unit to the southern coasts to repel the invading American forces instead of hunting down shadows.

The colonel did not know it but as he was talking to his general several American cruise missiles were only the ten seconds from deploying their payload on top of the men and their equipment under his command.

 

The general leaned back in his leather chair as he put down his cigar and reached for his drink. The sky was a beautiful pink orange. The clouds were a golden hue.

“Colonel, make sure that the men stay vigilant. I will be by later to inspect them,”

He paused to take a sip his drink as he watched the clouds pass high overhead. The general was envisioning his just rewards for the capture of enemy troops far beyond the coasts. He would be a hero of the people, and then he could make his move to the political arena. Once he was in office he would use the chairman to propel himself into the

His revere was cut short by the sight of several small but growing dots in the setting sky. The growing dots turned out to be a mass of blue and grey missiles passing high overhead. From his office, the general watched in abject horror as the missiles broke apart.

The general dropped his drink as he stared out his office windows. He just witnessed a missle going into its terminal dive. The small glass shattered as the first explosions hit the ground troops.

 

“Colonel, your forces are under attach, the American lap dogs are near you. Find and kill them all.

The colonel’s reply was cut off short as the radio went suddenly dead.

The multiple large blasts with their fireballs and smoke climbing into to the sky spelled the doom of the general’s prize troops.

 

As the air strike started a small group of marines took cover. For five minutes the fire storm lasted. The men were trying to make themselves part of the forest floor. When it was over Nightstalker looked each man in the small group in the eyes. They all looked shocked. Never before have the heard or seen such devastation. Before they continued to make the long and arduous hike, to rejoin the rest of the platoon Nightstalker said. “This is what we do; we kill so that others may live, sometimes it with a single shot, sometimes it with a knife, and sometimes it with a bomb. Or would you rather trade places with those men that died tonight?”

Moose just looked around, smoke and ash was starting to drift through. Moose used the toe of his boot to stir up some of the fallen ash that had settled on the forest floor. “How many men did we kill?”  asked Moose.

“I don’t know Moose, but I do know this, I would rather be alive, than be some charred piece of meat. The men that died here didn’t start this war, you know it and I know it. The people who start these things never really fight and die in them. They just have others do that for them,” Nightstalker said as he walked around them. After taking a deep breath he continued. “Right now our job as Marines is to ensure that our people, the American people are safe. If that means that we have to kill, we kill. This is not the first time you’ve had to kill; this is just the first time you’ve seen this level of destruction. Get over it, because if you don’t, then some son of a bitch is going to kill you. Now grab your gear and let’s moving out.”

 

The rest of the platoon was leap forging forward towards the objective by squad. As one of the squads was moving forward the other two were providing overwatch. When the moving squad took cover they would then provided overwatch for the next squad that was to move forward. As they were leapfrogging towards the objective the evening air was rent by the firepower that was unleashed on the enemy encampment. The men on the move each said a prayer for the men that stayed behind, hoping that none of their friends were caught in the firestorm that had just blossomed.

Diesel called for a halt. Slow each man seemed to dissolve into the trees and brush. Each man hunkered down in natural cover of the forest with their weapons at the ready. Tex slowly crept up to Diesel’s position and handed over the radio’s handset. In short order Deisel was connected with his snipers and their support.

While Diesel was speaking with Nightstalker, Gunny and the squad leaders gathered around him. They listened as the conversation was ending.

“Nightstalker, we will hold here. Sending you our coordinates on a side channel. Over.”

“Diesel, I copy. We will call before we linkup with you. Over.”

“Nightstalker when you get here report directly to me. Over.”

“Diesel, understood. Out,” replied Nightstalker.

Diesel hand the handset back. “Gunny, I want a perimeter set now. Weapons on safe and make sure the men get some water,” Diesel said as Tex was packing away the radio.

 

 

CHAPTER 24

The General screamed out as the reality of what had just happened hit him. He ran out of his office yelling. “I want my driver and two trucks of troops ready to move in five minutes,” as he passed his aide. The general exited the outer office and headed for the door leading outside instead of the tunnels, he was not the only one heading outside.

Once outside he ran as quickly as he could for the motor pool. Several other men were just standing around and pointing or staring at the dark plumes of smoke rising in the sky, hardly any were speaking.

As the general rounded the building of the motor pool one of the large bay doors was noisily opening to reveal one of his cars. His heart pounding and his breathing ragged the general made it to his car. His driver alerted by the general’s aid had the car ready and waiting. The aid had also alerted the guards to have two trucks manned and ready to go with the general.

The general was now in shock. One minute he was talking to the men of the garrison under his command and the next they were gone. He slide into car and the driver shut the door behind him.

The driver slammed his foot down on the accelerator. The car speed out of the motor pool, quickly leaving the two trucks behind. The general watched as the car quickly closed the distance to one of the gates. His driver calmly reached up to press a button on the visor to open the gate.

The general twisted in his seat to check on the progress of the trucks. “Driver, tell the trucks to hurry up and catch up with us,” the general snapped at the man.

“Yes my general,” the driver reached down and grabbed the radio beside him and complied with the general’s order.

In just a few minutes the general’s car was turning onto the highway. The trucks were just a few hundred meters behind the car.  The driver spotted the turn-off that the garrison had used to get off the highway.

The driver had to slam on the brakes and fight the car in-order to keep in control of the car as it fishtailed onto the gravel road. Smoke and ash obscured the gravel road.

The general didn’t seem to notice the sound of the rocks hitting the under carriage and the jarring bouncing from the ruts in the road.

The driver had to slam on the brakes again as he came around a turn. Several trees had fallen across the road. The car had barely stopped before the general had jumped out of the car.

The general was already scrambling over the fallen trees when the trucks also came to an abrupt stop. The harsh clang of the rear hatch falling announced that the troops from the truck were following him.

“Spread out and look for survivors,” yelled the general to the troops following him.

A course of yes sirs answered him.

The destruction was complete. For three hours the general and the guards searched the site of the airstrike for any signs of life. Amid the fires and the cooking off ammo, all they found were the fire blackened forms of men frozen in death and destruction. The stench of burnt flesh was overpowering. Every single man had on more than one occasion had thrown up. One of the guards did manage to identify find the remains of one of the cruise missiles.

The guard was quick to point out that the sky had not been overly cloudy and that the Americans must have used one of their numerous spy satellites to spot the unit and sent the missiles as a way of not facing the proud Chinese army face to face. The general had to agree, because he could not fathom that a platoon size group of men could have wrecked so much damage on his proud unit all by themselves, of course, unless they were Chinese. Surly such an explosion would have killed the Americans also he thought.

The general walked back to his car and ordered the other to return to the base. As the car and trucks pulled back on to the road the first of the convoys in response to the coastal invasions were just passing them as they headed south.

 

It was 2200 hours before the two groups of marines had linked up. The whole platoon continued its leapfrog advancement for another ten minutes. The platoon had covered a great deal of space and was 3 and a half miles from the objective now. Diesel wanted the men to rest for an hour and get some food and rehydrate before they began the next leg of the march. Diesel, Gunny, and the squad leaders were looking over the maps of the area and the recon flights photos. They were looking for landmarks that might be visible  in the star light of the night sky.

“Diesel, you wanted to see me,” said Nightstalker.

“Walk with me,” Diesel led Nightstalker away from the rest. “How did the men handle themselves after the airstrike?” he asked quietly.

“They did okay, I mean it’s one thing to pull the trigger in anger, but this was the first time they seen the effects of an airstrike from the fifty yard line. I had a little chat with them,” was his reply.

“I’ll ask Gunny to keep an eye on them and talk to them also.”

 

They knew that they were getting near the village. From their vantage point behind some trees on a small rise they could see the headlights of the vehicles on the highway.  They could also hear the deep rumble of the diesel engines pulling a long line of railroad cars packed with troops heading for the coastline to repel the Americans.

The Chinese were busy repositioning troops. They had been caught totally off guard and the Americans and her allies were not done yet. At several points around China the night sky was rent as a second round cruise missiles came in blasting more bridges and buildings from their foundations. Following in the devastating path the missiles were craving through China were the AVAP-15’s by five minutes. The AVAP -15’s delivered their payloads on any personnel responding to the missile strikes.

The marines witnessed the just a few of the flight of some of the cruise missiles as they screamed over head a mere few feet over the tops of the trees. What the marines did not know was that the flight lead was calling in the co-ordinates for the convoy of trucks on the highway the marines could see from their position on the small hill.

The co-ordinates of the highway and the nearby railway were added to the queue for the third wave of cruise missile attaches. The general’s driver had just pulled off the highway to return to the base when the night sky was temporarily turned to day as the missiles deployed their payload of high explosive anti-armor bomblets.

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