Sunday, August 29, 2010

Prion 13 Part two

Part 2 Luis
How far would you go to cover up a major mistake? And that’s what this obviously was, a major bloody mistake. Someone had relocated samples of a experimental prion and slowly the steps were set in motion for the apocalypse that mankind now faced. But would those in the know make the necessary arrangements to cover up what they’d done, and more importantly was Simon involved? A cover up would be required, to ensure that Saar Biosciences didn’t have to answer to anyone in the bright new dawn of the post apocalyptic world, assuming we survived of course.

How far would I go to cover up a mistake? That thought rumbled backwards and forwards in my mind as I left the little celebration. Simon seemed quite taken by the British girl and it seemed bad even for me to try and interfere, besides I had my suspicions about Simon as well.

What bothered me most was the determination on managements part about a causal link having now been found. That, and the sudden departure of Cecily’s French lab colleagues.

I hurried down to our lab passing some of the internal security troops. It was only as I got to the lab that I realised that a disproportionate amount of them seemed to be out and about compared with normal. They were from a Private Military Company called Raven Force. It had gained a pretty nasty reputation in the Mid-east and Africa but got the job done, and of course they were loyal to whoever hired them first. So I suppose Saar trusted them more than the Swiss troops outside.

Sealing the lab door behind me, I logged onto Simons machine. I’d ‘borrowed’ his codes a few months ago, a habit that had got me into trouble before, but also had given me a head start when my wife had found out about Margaritte.

The screen went live and I quickly flicked through what Simon had been looking at. It was the penultimate item that flash froze my blood. A research project using a prion similar to the one just isolated. Only this one was designed to promise longevity, the irony was delicious, the question was who else knew of this programme. Little scenes from the party flickered through my mind and more suspicions fell into place.

I moved quickly over to my desk and unlocked the bottom drawer. I removed my service automatic, a holster and some spare magazines. I also added a high capacity flash drive. Fixing the holster and magazine pouch in place on my belft (and under my labcoat), I felt a bit more comfortable. Next I took the flash drive over to Simons machine, downloaded the old project file and also the work we had down. Once finished, the drive went into my trouser pocket. My main conundrum was now what to do next.

Technically this was a military project so my best bet was to speak to the Swiss garrison commander. I couldn’t trust the internal security troops as they were under the control of management. That meant getting out into the valley pdq. The missing Frenchmen were also an issue. A quick sweep for them 9or more likely their corpses), then out to the garrison buildings was the best plan.

My mind made out I headed out of the lab

Twenty minutes later I was down on one of the lower levels near to the only access to the ‘Store’ that we had within the base. No-one really worked down here, but I was carrying a clipboard with some papers on it, so that I looked official. To be honest I’d never come down here before and so it took me a while to navigate through the service corridors. So far only two internal security guards had passed me and they didn’t give me a second glance. So therefore it was by complete accident that I stumbled on an entrance to a small lab complex. It looked like it was a clone of my lab, and walking towards me flanked by two of the interior security troops was Helmut Klein.

‘Ah Luis, just the man!’ he said with a broad smile on his face. Klein is the sort of man you instinctively distrust, a sort of uber-Nixon if you like.
“Listen Luis, I’m a bit worried about Simon. Has he seemed any different to you?’
Klein was now right in front of me
“Anyway” he continued “Now that we’ve sourced the prion we need to start re-organising the teams, can you spare a few minutes?”
‘Of course Herr Docktor” I replied and fell into step with him and his goons. Something was very wrong, I could almost taste it. His prattling management speak made the 15 minutes journey to his office seem an eternity.
A further half an hour was wasted on him talking about removing me from working with Simon, the reward was for me to work on a high profile bio-warfare project now that we had the cause of the plague.

The very idea of this did finally freeze me to the core, did this man realize what he was saying? I know people think I have few scruples..mainly due to mistakes I have made over women. But biowarfare? Before the emergency there were still ‘zones’ in Russia that could not be entered due to biowarfare experiments during the soviet era.
Nevertheless I nodded like fool and made encouraging noises where I guessed they were needed. This meant though that by being attentive I lost another hour, but then he threw what the Americans call a curve ball.
“Look Luis I know you’re not stupid. We managed to find out about the prion due to a rather serious accident, our two French colleagues were infected during the week. Now it looks a bit suspicious so keep an eye on young Cecily, won’t you?”
“Of course Herr Docktor”
“Excellent well it’s quite late I’ll let you get on”
Gathering I was dismissed I promptly left his office.


Time was running out, so I head back the way I came. Leaving Klein’s office I felt even more uneasy, you just don’t admit this sort of thing to someone not in your little clique and definitely not to someone like me. I felt an itch between my shoulder blades and decided that there wasn’t the time to go back down to that strange lab, especially as I now basically knew what I might find. That basically left the Swiss army based outside, and to reach them I needed access via the security suite as the exits were sealed at night.

So I needed to go back down to level three. Sighing at all this wasted time, I headed back to the lifts. It took a while for one to appear and the whole time I couldn’t shake this feeling of being watched and of impending doom.

How I was going to worm my way into the security suite was a problem, and I was running out of ideas when I reached the entrance. Only to find it was pretty academic, one of the internal security men was slumped in the doorway having leaked copious amounts of blood onto the floor. The corpse was fortunately keeping the security door from closing, although the doors pressure on the corpse had probably contributed to the amount of blood on the floor. I noticed foot prints leaving the scene as the culprits had seemingly managed to avoid the blood on the way in. Gingerly I used the body as a footbridge and entered the sanctorum of the facility.

Even to someone as life-jaded as I, the suite surprised me. It was clear that almost everywhere in the facility was wired for vision, and it would seem sound. Three large LCD screens took up most of one wall, all with little PiP screens showing multitudes of rooms and their occupants. The scenes I saw explained I think, part of the disdain which many of the internal security troops seemed to treat us with. None of us had any secrets, although some things were probably overlooked due to the sheer volume of feed traffic!

The rest of the room was set up with little work modules and more traditional flat screen LCD monitors (albeit large ones). These work stations had not been unoccupied when they had had their unwelcome visitors. I could see four slumped figures, two with head phones still on and so they probably didn’t know what had hit them.

Scanning all the images I finally found what I was looking for, scenes from the lowest level, the ‘Store’. What I saw was less than good, someone had released the specimens and they were wandering around. Containment came immediately to mind but then I saw that someone had opened up the main doors from the store to the lower levels of the complex.

Snarling and biting back a few choice words I rushed into the control room. Here, there were only three, 21 inch LCD screens for the three supervisors. Only one was supervisor was present, and someone had emptied what looked to be a full magazine into her torso, the force of which had smashed her against a gun rack. Ignoring the body I tried to access the system only to find it locked but not sealed. Someone had programmed the lifts to start moving up and down the shafts automatically and to stay in an open position at the storeroom level for a few minutes…more than enough time to snaffle up a few unsuspecting zombies and transport them to other levels. This meant thatthis ‘someone’ was deliberately trying to kills us all. So engrossed was I in what I could see, that I was oblivious to another’s presence.
“Not too smart really are you?” said a rough voice.
Startled I stood up unsteadily, only to thrown backwards by some well aimed hammer blows to my torso, and the world went black….


I came around feeling slightly euphoic which I believed was due to me bleeding to death, and to be honest I felt wet all over, but then the pain started to leak though, in sharp busts every time I took a breath. So no nice quick death for me then. Patricia would be most happy! A few more minutes and I finally snapped out of my little death fantasy and my wife’s vicious wishes.

“…I hope you stick yourself with one of your own syringes, you bastard! How could you? She’s only a girl” yes a girl of 22 who knew exactly what she wanted, and it wasn’t like I was her first or even fourth..

Anyway back to my current situation, I was covered in blood but mainly from the corpse I’d landed on, that is except for my screwed up coup de grace, which had tracked across my forehead and was bleeding copiously. Slowly I got to my feet feeling for my wounds, that was the next surprise my assassin’s first shots had been very well placed…unfortunately both rounds had hit one of the spare magazines for my service automatic mangling it nicely and by driving the metal box fiercely into my ribs, breaking at least one.

Not wanting to pass judgement on the young lady I had just been lying on top of, I needed to get cleaned up quickly. Luckily I knew that the security centre had its own bathroom so I utilised it quickly after first removing the corpse blocking the security door. Luckily there was a manual door lock which I also engaged and proceeded to clean myself up and change into some spare fatigues that fitted me (well almost).

I knew that time was running out, as I could see what how our specimens were progressing through the facility on the monitors, so it was time to get the hell out of Tijuana. Being in the security suite helped me as well, because it held a small arsenal of military grade weapons that were not well secured. Well only authorised people would be in this room so why bother?

I chose a carbine version of the H&K G36 mainly because in the Spanish Army we used a version of it, although this one was well accessorised. Scavenging some spare magazines I decided it was time to get Simon (and his new girlfriend… if he insisted). Finally I checked the main door status and found it had been opened. No doubt by the perpetrators of this little massacre, but as they had left me little in the way of computer access their kindness would not be dismissed lightly when the time came.

My watch showed that it was nearly one o’clock in the morning and on monitors that the guests from steerage were now making their presence felt with the upper classes. So it was time to move along. Unlocking the door to the suite I checked the hallway on the monitors before slipping away to Simon’s room which was also on this floor. As I reached it a few minutes later I could hear some loud noises (made indistinct by the sound proofing) which tapered off. For once I felt uncomfortable about just barging in. But Simon’s sensitivities had to take second place to the current emergency.


I used a pilfered security card to open the door (pilfered I have to say many months ago, yet again one of my many sins), the lights were out so to minimise time I said “Simon? Its Luis” and activated the flashlight attached to the G36. The high power beam of light transfixed a scene out of an abattoir. There seemed to be blood everywhere and two blood covered figures seemed to writhe on the bed. Only one head turn toward me though, and I was stunned for a moment to look into Simons vacant but still seeing eyes
“Simon?” I asked again like an imbecile, I knew what had happened but my brain just would not connect the dots

It was only after the creature that was Simon uttered a mindless moan that my fingers did the talking, flicking the fire selector to single shot and depressing the trigger three times…each bullet impacting the creatures skull, distributing brain matter amongst the other gore. I then noticed that the other gore covered figure (that I took to be Cecily) was starting to twitch. My analytical consciousness noted this as an acceleration of normal infection times before I almost subconsciously shot her in the skull. Twice.

Escape was my only thought now, as revenge or at least solving this melange of threads had to take second or even third place. One thought struck me though who? Then I remembered the retreating foot prints highlighted in bright arterial blood, two sets of military style boots the third set brogues. My mind did another forward somersault and I thought about Klein and his two little sturmtroopers, but why? Then all the pieces fell into place. Klein was part of Saar’s old guard, he had no interest in the Saar Biosciences being tarred as the ultimate source of the prion. Now that the strain had been isolated, and a possible ‘cure’ or ‘vaccine’ could be worked on. He’d be first against the wall cure or no cure, so he probably had all the data or had deleted it and decided to flee the nest, letting our ‘samples’ do the dirty work. He may even have thought he could come back as the conquering hero after no doubt erasing certain security video files or setting up his little helpers as patsies.

Unfortunately I knew something that he would not have been privy to. Only the senior officers outside were meant to know, but as I accompanied the package from the USA I was also aware. In an alcove just off the main lift shaft was a W-88 nuclear warhead. The idea was that if containment failed the whole lab was to be ‘sterilized’. No pansy French-style neutron bomb event this. Just proper, cleansing thermonuclear fire. It had been determined that because of the levels of research being carried out at the facility, a more virulent strain of whatever caused the outbreak might be discovered and there was no way it could be released on an already struggling world. The timer would already be ticking away. I seemed to remember a time limit of about 6 hours in order to arrange proper triage and evacuation. Unfortunately this left less than 2 hours for me to get the hell out…..and to minimum safe distance.

Now the issue was how to get up to level one with minimal risk, I decided it would have to be up the stairs. There were four stairwells running on each floor but only the two inner ones ran from top to bottom, the outer two connected only the top three floors so I carefully made my way to the far right hand stairwell. Every nerve was tense as I listened out for the traditional staggered footfall of the walking dead but just before I reached my goal I found a trail of blood leading to the stairwell and the door was half open.

This was clearly Klein’s work as well. The stairwell doors had three settings: lockdown, free or semi secured. The first option was obvious, the last one meant that a swipe was needed to open the doors and they would seal shut after use. Free meant that the doors would not close shut, (a maintenance setting mainly). By doing this Klein had given our stumbling friends another set of routes through the complex.

The door had opened into the stairwell landing, so blocking my view into the landing. however I could tell that the trail went up. Stepping carefully around the blood trail I entered the stairwell, looking both up and down and listening for any sounds. Faintly echoing down the stairwell came the sound of moaning. Carefully and quietly I made my way up the stairs, trying to make a minimal amount of noise. Two flights up I could make out a huddled form, taking no chances I raised the carbine to my shoulder and slowly made my way forward.


“Luis?” the voice was faint almost barely audible as the bloodstained figure raised it’s head. It was only then I recognised Rachel although this sorry figure did not seem like the tall, athletic blonde that I had got to know when I first came to the facility.
“Luis help me, I’m hurt” her plea was stronger but then I noticed a tremor hit her body. “Luisssss”, her eyes changed then from being hurt and sentient to being mindless.

Luckily at that range I couldn’t miss and the carbine discharged three rounds into her..its? skull ending the problem before it could begin.

The sound of the shots echoed up the stairwell and I just hoped that they would produce no unwelcome surprises. Gingerly I bypassed Rachel’s corpse and headed up the stairs. Now each floor was separated by 50 meters so it was not a short climb. I kept to the outside of the stairwell, so giving me plenty of opportunity to see what was coming my way. I had no interest to find out what was going on, on the 2nd floor and so kept well away from the doorway as I passed it.

Reaching the 1st floor I found there were few signs of life although just as I entered the hallway I could see two zombies having a problem leaving the lift. Being the public spirited sort of person I am I moved forward and shot both of them in the face.

Fortunately their bodies then blocked the doors of the lift so preventing any more coming up that way

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” a voice shrieked from behind me.

Tense as I was, I spun round and came face to face with one of Klein’s little administrators. He obviously wasn’t fully awake and took a few seconds to realise that he was staring down the barrel of a gun from a distance of about 20 cms!

“Where’s Klein?” I barked
“How would I know? Do you know what time it is, why are you shooting people?” The worm definitely had some backbone I had to give him that.
“The store’s containment is breached” I replied cordially pushing past him, “could be a good time to run and hide!”


A thought then struck me and I headed to the refectory to see who was there.

I opened the doors to find the place in uproar with a good sized crowd of researchers plus other staff haranguing Klein and his two bodyguards, the latter three were closest to the doors and had their backs to me. The main gist of the argument was that everyone wanted to know why the supposedly secured zombies were now loose and causing havoc amongst those who were meant to be researching them. The indignation of the volte face amongst the scientists gave me a few moments humour.

“…everything will be fine, we just need everyone to go back to their rooms. Then we can bring in the troops from outside to clear the levels and we can resecure the storage area” Klein was saying having to raise his voice above the rising tide of discontentment.

It was clear that his platitudes were not working.

I was able to approach the group without being noticed and was only a couple of meters away when someone said
“Look there’s Luis, and he, he has a gun!”
Klein’s men may have been mercenaries but they still knew there job and both started to move. Unfortunately for them it was simply a time and distance calculation. I was in a position to shoot, they had to move to get a shot at me. I had switched the carbine to a 3 round burst and took the one to the left first, and then tracked across to the one on the right resisting the temptation to place a few bullets in Klein back as I tracked the carbines barrel across his torso.

Both bodyguards were wearing some body armour but at that range it was pretty much useless, all the armour achieved was causing the bullets to shed their copper jackets quicker and fragmenting the rounds within both men’s bodies. I suppose in hindsight that did stop any of my co-workers getting hurt. That just left Klein now shaking and slowly turning around
“Luis” he began “Look I can explain..”
“I’m sure you can” I replied cutting him off as I couldn’t be bothered to listen to any drivel and shouldered the carbine
“..No you don’t understand!”
“Oh you are mistaken Herr Klein” I replied “I feel I completely understand what you have done and why” I drew out my service automatic and calmly shot him in both kneecaps.

His screams of pain were quite painful to hear and Max Cousins a microbiologist from Britain actually stepped forward to help only to take a step back when I waved the pistol in his direction.

“Dr Sanchez, what do you think you’re doing?”
I looked at him as if he was an idiot
“Righting a few wrongs, what does it look like? People are dying as we speak and this piece of filth is the cause. All because he’s worried about his share options or something like it.”

I grabbed Klein by his collar and started to drag him away, his wails became more pitiful. Funnily enough though no-one tried to stop me…

Klein was squealing by the time I had dragged him to one of the main stairwells, leaving two thin trails of blood behind him. As we approached the door I released Klein and taking careful hold of the carbine kicked the door inwards where it stayed. No-one was waiting behind it fortunately, and I had a quick look down the well. Down near level three I could just make out a couple of shambling figures slowly making their way up.
Turing back to where I had left Klein I found he had found the courage to try and crawl away, albeit only a couple of meters.

“Naughty, naughty! My friend, I think there are some acquaintances of your coming up the stairs who might want a chat. Shall we?” I swept my arm invitingly towards the open doorway. Klein shrank away. But to no avail as I again grabbed his collar and dragged him toward what was possibly a modern version of the gates to hell.

I was quite oblivious to any of Klein’s discomfort, plea’s or cries. All I could do was remember what he and his co-workers had done and what they were prepared to do to cover that up. I decided to leave him two flights down, still less than halfway to level two. Taking my service automatic out, I waved it in front of his face to gain his attention.

“Looks like you’ll have some company soon Klein, and by rights I should just let them have their wicked way with you. However I’m not that evil, I afraid.” I racked back the slide and let the bullet tumble into the void, I then ejected the magazine and calmly started to removed round after round until only one was left. I could hear the falling rounds clinking as they hit the stairwell occasionally. Slinding the magazine back into the pistol I depressed the slide stop and removed the safety.

I then walked down to the next landing and placed the pistol in the middle, in plain sight and then returned to Klein.
“There you go, I’m giving you the honourable way out. It will mean a bit more pain and you might not make it in time, but then the thought of being eaten alive might speed you up.” I looked down at Klein’s bloodstained, crippled body
“Time for me to go I suppose, I won’t say it was a pleasure, as it wasn’t. Goodbye Klein I hope they’ve saved a pretty horrible place in hell for you” so saying I walked back up the level one.


Exiting the stairwell I felt much better and started walking to the exit. Now as the research facility was not some military grade defence bunker. There was also a fairly normal office building above ground where all the admin work was done. The subterranean part of the facility was reached by an escalator, which descended from the buildings central hall which in itself was a three storey atrium with a mini rainforest. As the escalator entered the subterranean level of the facility there was a security area which had a double security barrier system, firstly a metal barrier (similar to those used to secure shops) and then a Lexan security screen.

At night most of the lights are either dimmed or switched off and the escalators are also turned off to minimise electricity consumption. So in the semi-darkness I was using the tac-light attached to the handguard of the carbine to properly see my way. The problem with such a light was though that it was both bright but directional so I had very little sense of peripheral vision and no night vision at all.

And so I never saw the red tracery of the aiming laser. Thus completely surprising me when the taser barbs hit me. Then I fell twitching to the floor…

As I lay on the floor I could sense the seconds ticking away and my thoughts went down a few floors to the idiot cone which contained 475 kilotonnes of nuclear fire. A bright light shone on my face and I thought “well this is it” and a familiar voice said “funny I thought I’d killed you”

My assailant then half dragged, half carried me to a small café area and hand cuffed me to one of the stone benches

“Is this really necessary? If you going to shoot me?” I asked as the effects of the taser started to wear off.
“Oh I’m not going to shoot you, no need to. You’ll probably get some company coming in the next hour or so. I made sure all the lifts were running again after you fixed them”

I must admit to having been a bit confused by this statement as I only blocked one of the lifts but I let him prattle on.
“lso you seem to be bulletproof so why take the chance?”
My patience then hit a low
“Who are you?”
“No one of any importance, I work for Saar and arrived earlier on today”
“What are you here for”
“Isn’t it obvious? Cleaning the mistakes of others.”
The taser effects were now almost fully gone which is why I jumped half a kilometre when a set of claws latched on each of my shoulders.
“ello Luis”
“Got any treats? Nice Luis”
It was one of the mated pairs of parrots that live in the atrium, these were African Greys and I would sneak them treats when I could, one of them nibbled at my ear whilst the other one decided to regale us with his version of ‘Waltzing Mathilda’.

My assailant laughed

“Well at least you won’t die by yourself like Klein. That was a nasty way to go”
“Are you expecting me to be remorseful?” I asked
“No, he was an ass and incompetent as well, and well it’s time to be off”
He started to move away as the other parrot decided to join in so I had two loud parrots singing right next to my ears.

“Just piss off why don’t you” I shouted at them, both leapt into the area and hovered there laughing.

“You’re a bad man Luis” said one of them exactly in the same voice as Kristina one of the PA’s who I’d had a quick fling with a month or so ago.

“Everyone’s a critic, eh?” said my assailant. I noticed that he was limping
“Have you been bitten?” I asked nervously
“Oh a couple did get too close, but this outfit is Kevlar lined, I tripped earlier on thanks for your concern!”
I could see a slight gash in the half light and realised he had not realised what had happened, the parrots flew away suddenly, and I took my chance.
“You’re wrong you’ve cut you leg, and you’ve not got too long”
“What or I’ll become a zombie?” he had stopped and was using a torch to check his leg.

“No in an hour or so this will be a wasteland, Klein and your’s actions have set off a timer on a nuclear demolition charge, it’ll go off soon and we’ll all be dead.”

He had turned back towards me, and looked at me as if he was trying to figure out if I was telling him the truth or not. This new twist would have not been good news to his superiors, as a plague of zombies could be got rid of, a pile of radioactive ash however was a definite loss on the balance sheet.

“Oh and I suppose you know the code eh?” he asked in a half joking voice
“No..” I began just as at least three assault rifles opened up on the mystery man “..but I needed you to look at me” I finished off in a small voice as a number of fire teams of the Swiss Army troops filtered into the area. One quickly cut the riot cuffs that were securing me and I was rubbing my wrists when Colonel Marius Von Beck the troops commander arrived.

“Well Major Sanchez making friends and influencing people again I see!”
I liked Colonel Von Beck but sometimes his sense of humour grated; I suppose this was as it was very similar to me own.
“Enough of that Marius, what about the ‘you know what’” I pointed down

He looked puzzled for a moment and then he laughed

“Sorry I wished I could have let this run for a while longer, the ‘you know whats’ timer has been reset. But I suppose things are not good down there?”

“Not as all, Director Klein deliberately breached containment; it looks like we had just discovered a link between the cause of the condition and some research done here a few years ago. I don’t know how many of the research staff have been infected.”
“Well don’t worry about that” he replied “let’s get you cleaned up and then you can be debriefed.” He glanced over to the escalator where one solitary figure was shambling upward “looks like my boys have got their work cut out for them tonight.”
He started to bark out orders, just as one of his fire teams opened fire on the ascending zombie. A Medic led me out towards a waiting jeep to take me to the army’s encampment.

There they saw to my fairly minor wounds and gave me a tranquilizer. When I woke up later I found to my disgust that it had not been all a dream.


Well what happened next? I spent three days being debriefed by various people as well as being prodded by doctors. The information I downloaded from the system was used to arrest a few people in Saar Biosciences (even at this stage there was a sense of need for justice, although I suppose any punishment will wait until the emergency is finally over). I was the hero of the hour as nearly 40% of the research staff in the end were infected and had to be disposed off...well actually that wasn’t quite the truth, we actually used them as guinea pigs, well needs must..

My reward? I was made head of research and the labs were fully taken over by the military because I had worked at USAMRID I ran it like Fort Dietrich. But in the end it needed to go back to civilian control I knew that but didn’t know if my superiors would allow it at least for the foreseeable future.

In the end we found there was no cure but we developed an airborne ‘vaccine’ that would stop the contaminated in their tracks without having to utilise explosives (either normal or the nuclear kind). A year later the emergency was ended and with a much emptied earth mankind planned it’s future anew. Would we learn from our mistakes? Somehow I doubt it….

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Prion 13 Part One

Part 1 Simon

On the large LCD screen hanging on the rear wall of the common-room, the world burned. A scene that was also played out on dozens of channels that we had access to. The smaller screens scattered around the room showed some of that choice.

As usual the main screen was fixed on CNN, (or as it had been re-christened, ZNN) the scene this afternoon was Soweto, or what was left of it. The filming was from a SADF Puma circling at around 500 meters. Oily black flames fanned in the afternoon winds burned both the living and the dead although it was clear from the footage that some of the ‘dead’ were still moving. The shacks that had held generations of black South Africans and sheltered them from the excesses of the Apartheid regime, were of little use from a foe that cared not for causes and just wanted you for lunch or dinner depending on what time of the day it was..although that was probably not too important to them either.

Luis dumped himself on the sofa next to me.
“God, haven’t you better things to do but watch this shit, Simon? Don’t be a sap like these jokers!” he waved his arms towards our co-workers some of whom no longer went back to sleep in their rooms and had set up camp in the common-room. Absently I sipped at my coffee and shook my head.
“It’s easy for you Luis, you had no-one outside, most of these people have family out there” I paused “also no one wants to be alone”
Luis had divorced his wife of five years in a particular bitter dispute in which both his and her family sided against him, something to do with three mistresses was the main complaint, especially when one of them was his wife’s sister. The case settled two days before the emergency started. I felt he was glad to rid of them all, and so had no reason to complain about our current situation.

Luis just laughed.
“Simon. Simon. In that case they should be hard at work in the labs trying to help stop this madness! Anyway I came to tell you the latest analysis of the samples brought from Lyons are in”

He got up, glancing at the screen which showed a flight of Cheetah fighter/bombers dropping cluster bombs on the township.

“Christ, I thought it was illegal to use those things in civilian areas!”

Because of his news I rose to the bait

“The UN emergency protocols removed both the cluster bomb ban and the landmine ban you know that..” realising that I had been duped again, as I followed Luis to the lift whilst he chuckled to himself.

Thinking about Lyons (another failed containment exercise, but at least we got fresh samples), brought to mind the French governments disastrous experiment with Paris. The President had declared that the city should be saved for heritage reasons, and so he had authorised the use of France’s neutron bomb arsenal (hitherto a mere rumour), to remove the problem of dead Frenchmen (and women) rising up and trying to eat their fellow countrymen. There would be minimal collateral damage and the decontamination could be sorted out fairly easily.

The result?

More dead French citizens (as the government couldn’t or wouldn’t evacuate the city before the strike) and it seemed the risen dead were not effected by the radiation, in fact in some cases it was rumoured that ‘Les Zombies’ in Paris were stronger and faster than those found elsewhere. Luis had joked that it would be easier for snipers to pick them off after dark!

Such thoughts led me to the start of all this barely six months ago…..

The first reported incident was in Egypt about two weeks after the end of Hajj in Saudi Arabia, a man and his two sons had just returned and became sick, they died within a day of their being admitted to hospital in Alexandria. They ‘rose’ about 12 hours later it is thought and the infection quickly spread through the crowded neighbourhoods and then it was just a short hop to Cairo and then the country basically collapsed.

This however was not an isolated incident, similar cases were reported in France, Britain, Holland, most of the Arab world, southern Asia and also in the USA. The sickness always happened amongst Muslims and by the time the various governments realised the link with the Hajj it was too late and things went from bad to worse. Pogroms started in many areas where Islamic communities were based and tens of thousands of innocents we slaughtered but also the contagion was spreading.

Most countries declared Martial Law and containment lines were set up. The UN set up a committee which formed a decision in record time, 24 hours. Worldwide emergency rules were drawn up aimed at containing the contagion. The problem was that it was not only transmitted when someone was bitten but also if they were exposed to any fluids from a walking corpse. Teams were set up in many countries to try and find a cure. One interesting fact was that Romero was right, massive damage to the brain stopped a Zombie in its tracks, decapitation did not always work however and I’d seen reports of a Zombie head still trying to bite someone’s ankles and a headless body still attacking a person even though its head lay a few meters away!

International trade and air travel stopped dead (if you’ll pardon the pun), only tightly screened military flights moved between countries. Then the ‘phantom’ emails started. It became clear that the contagion was one of human origin with a specific purpose to start the ‘End of Days’, some loony Christian sect decided that Muslims were a perfect target to help start the end of the world and used a biological weapon at the Hajj. It was clear from the email that the group knew what the effects would be and was talking about the dead rising, end of the world as we know it etc. etc. The emails are still being sent out so whoever is responsible they’re still out there.

So now we come to the present day, Africa is mainly a wasteland, as is a lot of Asia and SE Asia. Most of the USA is a free fire zone mainly thanks to petty state politics and the refusal of some governors to realise how serious the problem was. South America is still intact and central America is now a firebreak guarded by the Mercosur Military Command. The MMC now also runs South America with a three year mandate. Australia dealt with its problem quickly and intelligently unfortunately this caused race riots which left parts of Sydney and Melbourne in flames.

And Europe? Well there’s not a lot of Europe left to be honest. In the UK, a new Hadrian’s walls was built by the Scots and a similar undertaking was devised by the Welsh but they didn’t get it up in time. Scotland is now an independent country although still a constitutional monarchy with King William sitting above a single chamber of Parliament in Edinburgh. The first Minister is ironically Gordon Brown. Ireland is once again united although only just. Only France maintains that it has an effective government although as a State it is not much bigger than Vichy France. The French have adopted a walled town strategy which they hope they can retake all land lost to the contagion. As to the rest of Europe well there’s not a lot left and the Russians are fighting a losing battle.

Out east things are better. China has enacted even more draconian measures and a new Great Wall is taking shape. The Koreas are still at each other throats but there are signs that North Korea is about to collapse as it is receiving no outside aid. Then there is Japan, for some reason there were multiple hot spots of the contagion four months ago. Now it is a dead zone.
The lift door opening at out labs floor jolted me from the retrospective. The security zone here was quite exacting we had to submit to thermal cameras checking that we had no fever as well as optical and breath scans, just make sure we were ok. If not the room would be flooded with warm Hydrofluoric acid. Passing through the security zone we entered the lab zone. On our floor there are three labs but only ours has a separate elevator to the ‘storeroom’

The hallway beyond the security zone was an inverted capital T each arm ending in an airlock. Beyond each airlock is a robing room leading to decontamination facilities and the labs themselves. Security cameras cover so nothing is missed. The floors of the robing rooms and the decontamination zone are hidden beneath metal grills. The drains that carry all the decon fluids travel many kilometres to a special lab to make the chemicals safe. God help us if they ever break down.

The labs beyond are temples to biochemistry and microbiology, scanning electron microscopes, chromatographs of various types, mass spectrometers the list is endless all reliquaries to our god of scientific knowledge. Our lab is different though it looks more like a morgue, with dissection tables and cold storage.

Luis in his usual imperious manner pushed past me to enter the lab. He wandered over to his ‘space’ and started putting in the request for the first sample.

It suddenly struck me how we had completely dehumanised the subjects of our research, from the Kevlar bags placed over their hands, feet and heads to calling them euphemistically ‘samples’. And of course there was the constant discussion in the common-room whether or not what we did was an autopsy or vivisection. These sort of conversations were in hushed tones as no-one wanted to be removed from the project. This had happened a few times and being dumped outside the main gates with a suitcase and a few days worth of food and a sidearm was not an ideal way to celebrate the right to free speech.

I set about preparing my tools and after around five minutes the service lift opened up revealing a figure laden gurney. The microphones picked up faint groans coming from the figure. Charcoal grey Kevlar bags enveloped its head, feet and hands to minimise possible contagion transfer. Once I had wondered out loud how many aspects of the containment process that made our job easier had been put together so quickly. Luis (who had worked for the Spanish Army as a medical officer) had looked me straight in the eye and said “Why do you think? Maybe they would look better in orange, yes?”

I quickly dropped the matter.

Snapping back to the present I wheeled my trolley of instruments towards the gurney as Luis moved it to the vertical. The sample (which until now had been still) started to move against its restraints. Luis whistled
“Got a live one here! And tonight’s contestant is Jacques! Jacques comes from the lovely city of Lyons and his main interests are eating and wandering around aimlessly.”
A muffled moan came form the bagged figures head
“What’s that Jacques? Yes? Sorry, your favourite food is brainnnnz. Can you say it? Can you?”

I couldn’t help but laugh at the inanity of the situation especially as the bagged sample writhed against its bonds and Luis kept up his faux gameshow host routine. Once I got the sample trolley next to the figure, I had to take every precaution, as we had found that every microgram of a zombie was a possible vector. Luis’ humour also subsided and he became the consummate professional. Two of his former colleagues had become infected due to sloppy technique. He once told me about it after two bottles of Rioja. He’d shot both of them himself before they could become a danger. One of them he’d known since university.

The sampling process took around four hours and by the end what had once been a normal human being was no more than a collection of sample jars and biohazard burn bags.

Sterilisation took another half an hour and by then I was physically exhausted. However there were still the results of the last couple of sample analysis. Trudging back through the decontamination zone I felt a surge of excitement I hadn’t felt in a long time.

I suppose part of the reason was that I’d been working in these labs for so long. I was a researcher at Saar Biosciences S.A. for three years before the emergency. Back then, the valley had been a remote parkland. We held picnics by the river and the fence was a simple chain link affair carrying a small charge to discourage eco-terrorists. We always had armed guards but they simply had pistols. Now we have a triple layer fence filled with antipersonnel mines with a 50 meter killzone in front, covered by claymore mines. Instead of basic security guards, soldiers of the Swiss army now guard the perimeter, backed up by a couple of wheeled APC’s with auto-cannons and three attack ‘copters. The parkland is now farmland to feed the appetite of the guards and the researchers.

I suppose at the start I’d resented the changes, at the rudeness of the world invading our little slice of paradise. But then we were one of the few labs who had the right balance of facilities especially after USAMRID and the CDC in the USA were overrun (Luis had been working on secondment at USAMRID at the time), and we had a defensible position. But reality sort of rolled over my objections.
Getting back into our offices I noticed that Cecily the English researcher was there. I found her to be a breath of fresh air in here. She refused to throwaway her Goth paraphernalia much to the disgust of some of the more staid researchers. She along with two French researchers Alex and Jean-Pierre were our main biowarfare specialists. We were never told where the Frenchmen came from, but we knew that Cecily had worked at Porton Down.

‘Good afternoon gentlemen I thought I could smell the delicate odour of l’eau de zombie wafting down the corridor!”
“That’s the problem with you stay at home types, not willing to get your hands dirty”
Sniped back Luis.
“A girl like me has to be careful not to get dishpan hands!” Cecily shot back.
Luis humphed and wandered over to his desk, and Cecily’s face broke into a wide smile.
“Ignore him Cecily, he’s not had his normal five cups of coffee today”
A couple of choice words in Spanish floated over from Luis desk.
“Oh he’s fine, just needs the hand of a good woman!”
Feeling awkward as usual I hesitated
“ yes, so what news from your dredging of the bug labs?”
“Still nothing, but there’s a chance we may get a data upload from Beijing about some ‘old’ research later on today so there may be something there”
“Let’s hope eh?” I said and moved over to my desk. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Cecily still looking over at me, silence then fell on the office as we began going over the data from the latest set of sampling

The week progressed slowly as we processed the samples and the other labs did their work as well. By the end each sample was nothing more than a pile of ashes, which was sealed up and placed in a containment area down well below the main complex. Friday was something to look forward too as the management gave us something to drink in the common room.

For the last day or so something had been bothering me. I had been looking at the results that had been coming in from the fresh samples and finally it looked like we were getting close to identifying the contagion. Marcus’ team in lab 2 had isolated a prion they had not seen before and with the goodly amount of samples from Lyon being of various stages of infection (in one case the sample was thought to be a possible patient zero for his area) it was possible to see a rapid mutation in the prion which could relate to the shorter time taken for symptoms to appear compared with six months ago. But something about the shape and makeup of the prion rang a bell with me.

It was Friday afternoon when it all fell into place and everything else started to fall apart.

I was in the process of cutting up the last sample. This one was the poorest in condition and we had left it until last for this reason. Processing had taken little time and after the judicious use of a cold forged chisel (after removed the head bag), we started to cut up the now stilled corpse. Well I say ‘we’ Luis always managed to suddenly ‘need’ to do something important just as it came to fire up the rotary saw. This time it was reporting a dodgy centrifuge.

As Luis wandered over to the computer I started to cut into the corpses left knee, but only remembering to flick down the lexan guard as the disc was halfway into the leg. As the shield locked into place I felt a sharp pain in my right arm. Glancing at the suit it looked intact so I continued on. When I was scrubbing down I found a small piece of bone partially imbedded in my forearm. Quickly I pulled it out and scrubbed at the wound. As there was no blood I vainly hoped that there had been no contamination.

My mind still was working furiously at the prion issue and then it hit me! I had seen the prion before, or at least something very similar and it was here in this lab complex!

Dressing quickly, I headed up to office leaving Luis trailing behind. I tried to move as fast as possible without running so as not to alert the people viewing the security camera feed. My PC was still on, so it took just a moment to log back on.

I had one advantage that almost none of the other researchers had. Having worked here I had access to the company’s old project files. I quickly transferred the prion data recovered from the Lyon samples and compared it with one particular structure. The structure was very much the same, and there, there on the upper left side was the sequence I’d worked on myself.

I caught a glimpse of Luis just about to swipe himself in, so I brought up another analysis I had been working on.
“What made you shoot off?” he asked
“Thought I had an idea, but I was wrong, again! So back to the drawing board, how is the centrifuge going?”
“Maintenance say they’ll get on in tomorrow, I was thinking of going back over the USAMRID databases, as that thing looks man-made to me, in fact it reeks of it.”
“Do you think so?” I asked carefully trying not to let my voice waver.
“Yes but it’s time for drinks so lets get up there before the peons drink the good stuff.”
So saying he turned on his heel, and walked out of the office, leaving me behind for a moment. I switched back to the old research file, switched off the monitor and unplugged my security thumbdrive Ten I got up and followed Luis up to the common room.


When we arrived at the common room it looked like we were the last ones to arrive. Both Luis and I checked our watches, no in fact we were actually early. We looked at each other in askance as to what was the fuss? I looked around and noticed that all the research staff were there including management and the officers of the external and internal security teams. Herr Schmidt who was the Project Director noticed our arrival and coughed the room fell into silence.

“Today colleagues we have achieved what no other facility has done since the emergency begun. We have isolated the causes of the infection which has so troubled the world” he nodded to his PA who brought up an image of the Prion in question.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Dr Mobutu and his team have determined this afternoon beyond reasonable doubt that this is our enemy, and now the project must change. We have to find a cure or at least a countermeasure to this” he waved his hand in the general direction of the image. He looked over to his PA who nodded before he started speaking again.
“To celebrate we have arranged for some champagne and a few other luxuries”

I could hear corks popping and the smell of food. Almost as a single entity we all moved to the tables where the support staff had laid on canapés and opened a number of bottles of Veuve Cliquot. After helping myself I stood next to Luis and looked for three people, all of whom had worked on the same research team as I whilst at Saar Biosciences. I was unsurprised to see them huddled together, casting worried looks at the image on the screen. That only helped confirm my suspicions.
“I wonder how they managed to confirm ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that this is the culprit?” asked Luis
“I don’t know, some form of animal test?” I replied softly
“Unlikely, but if so what species have been found to be infected”
Cecily wandered over to us holding two glasses in her hands, one of which was almost finished. As she reached up she knocked back the almost empty glass and placed it on the floor, luckily it was quickly retrieved by a member of the support staff.
“Good evening gentlemen, how are you both?” asked Cecily smothering a giggle
“At a guess that wasn’t your first glass?” asked Luis. “You need to be careful, around here they don’t seem to like people abusing the grape”
“Luis, you can be such an old woman sometimes” chided Cecily
“Anyway, I’m celebrating. My two colleagues have been recalled, so at last I get to work without them poking their noses around”

I looked at her over the rim of my glass
“I thought you worked well as a team?”
“Not really, I think they were only there to make sure it wasn’t some bug designed in a French lab! They must have found out about Marcus’ results, realised their government was off the hook and were happy to flee the coup”.

Luis looked at her speculatively
“Interesting, you two love birds stay here and converse, I’m going to pump our savior, Marcus for details, Ciao” so saying he wandered off into the crowd.

I laughed in an embarrassed manner “Sorry about Luis, he says stuff just to get a reaction”
“Oh I don’t mind him at all” Cecily replied, her voice sounded husky and I noticed that she was standing quite close to me.
“Luis has known that I fancy you, for a while now, you’ve probably noticed how he tries to leave us alone together”

Realisation dawned on me as several recent incidents clicked into place
“Oh I never realised” I said quite lamely
“I know’ she replied archly “But I ‘m sure you can make it up somehow!”
I swallowed too much champagne and coughed drawing the gaze of a couple of co-workers, as I leant over she quickly kissed me in the ear, darting her tongue around it in a sensual manner. As she did this I fancied I could almost sense the blood coursing through her head.
“Lets say our goodbyes, and then we’ll see about you making your amends” said Cecily taking my free hand and leading me into the pack.


I found myself sitting at a restaurant, it looked familiar, but I seemed to be the only one there. In front of me was a dish of steak tartare and a full glass of what looked to be a fine Burgandy. The walls where white but all the artworks seemed to be scenes of something Hieronymus Bosch would describe, but utilising modern styles. I went to the tartare with a gusto and drank deeply of the wine which was warm, thick and rich.

“Would sir like some more?”

I looked round and there was Luis dressed as a waiter. The scene changed and there was Luis preparing more mince for the tartare but there was a human leg in the mincer and he was pouring blood from a skulls mouth
His face took on a demonic visage.

“Come on, you know you want more of this fine cuisine!”
Then there was a dull pounding on the door and the windows
Luis suddenly was right beside me whispering sibilantly into my ear
“They are calling to you, why don’t you go out and join them?”
Without a thought I stood up stiffly and walked in an ungainly manner towards the door although in my mind I screamed “Stop..I didn’t want to go out”, not to face what I knew I was!
Luis was at the door, and he bowed and gestured me to leave as he opened the door…. suddenly Zombies were everywhere but they were not attacking me, thought they did start to attack three men hung on hooks in the middle of the room (why did I notice them before?)
I could see the suspended mens faces. They were the men I had worked with on the old project! They screamed in pain as they were slowly devoured…….

Things changed again, now Cecily was standing before me in a Gothy style dress complete with a bustier, stockings and spike heeled boots. Her clothes were tattered and he skin had an unhealthy caste.
She held out her arms to me
“Kiss me Simon” she said in a corpselike whisper, opening her mouth but instead of her tongue there was just a mass of maggots writhing around…..

…I woke up sweating with a scream on the edge of my tongue. Cecily leg that was draped over me stopped me from sitting upright.
“What’s wrong?” she said sleepily
“Just a nightmare” I said after a moment to collect my thoughts.
“hmmm’ she languidly stroked my forehead “bad dream gone?”

A few minutes later Cecily spoke again
“Look, I know this is our first night together but can I tell you a secret?”
I dreaded to think what she was going to say, especially after discovering where some of her piercings were in the previous few hours!
She paused again obviously gaining her own courage.
“Okay, I have this fantasy about being eaten alive by one of them whilst having sex”
“What? Are you having a joke?”
“No, now I know it’s strange but it’s a fantasy but after you mentioned you had a nightmare, I thought maybe we should share, you know?”
“Well it is weird don’t you think?”
“I’m sure you’ll enjoy it though..”
I couldn’t argue especially as her hand started to caress my body and she whispered to me her instructions. I could again feel that I could sense the blood flowing through her body and her heart started to sound like a drum beating out a hypnotic cadence.

It was a short while later that the scene was set
“Now bite me, but not too much.” I obeyed and I could feeling her writhe in pleasure but then I took a harder bite breaking her skin
“Simon that hurt!”
Her words then meant little to me as I felt the need, the urge to taste more, and her writhings became those of pain not pleasure, and her voice raised in volume and pitch, panicking not sighing. Her legs thumped against the bed until they stilled and I fed, not caring about my hunger.

I sensed the door to my room opening and I turned around to this next source of warm flesh and blood….

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sur la Plage (Complete)

This is posted at JB's miniburger, but hell It took me ages to get it together so i'm posting it here. To those who don't now in John Birminghams "Without Warning" a mysterious energy wave wipes out most of the CONUS. France falls into civil war and it is there this story takes place....

Sur la Plage
Part 1: Insertion

April 2003

The camouflaged AS532 Cougar scudded low over the acid rain bleached fields bordering the Loire estuary. Nantes smoke blackened skyline faded into the springs early dusk. Normally at this time of year the evening would be warm and long. Now the ever present thick poisonous cloud cover cast an overbearing pall over the countryside.

Carl rested his head against the throbbing fuselage of the chopper, thinking of the team’s recent foray into the no-mans land of Nantes. The forces of First Citizen Sarkozy and ‘les Loyalistes’ had battled over the strategic (and historic city) for over a fortnight now with no real gain on either side. Increasingly his R.A.I.D. team (Groupe D’Intervention Deux) had found themselves pitted against a team from the Gendarmerie Nationals’ elite GIGN. The last clash on the route leading to the now ruined airport, had left the team short of two men. One of whom was the team leader Lieutenant Gerard Juppé. Lt Gerard had died in the field hospital whilst the team were receiving their latest mission briefing and it fell to Carl as Le Chef to see things through.

Checking over the team he could see Philippe, the baby of the team (at only 28) looking at a dog-eared photo of his wife. She had been on holiday with her parents when the world was turned on it’s head and the USA had effectively ceased to exist. He noticed Philippe gently touch the image of his wife’s face before placing the picture in his black BDU’s and start re-checking his gear. Philippe along with the other dead team member Christoff were the team’s scouts and this would put added pressure on the young man to perform.

Seated next to Philippe, Alan and Jules the teams’ designated snipers were also checking their gear and trying to talk over the sound of the rotors. Alain the older of the two probably still trying to convince Jules of the advantages of marriage, well after all he was in the throws of the end of his second. Considering all the shot going on in the world Carl thought that Alan would be better of trying to stay with Claudette especially as her family owned a farm outside of Limoges.

Andre and Alexander the two heavy weapon specialists sat opposite each other. Andre was asleep and Alex was throwing little rolled up pieces of paper into the sleepers lap. This was quite genteel compared with the usual level of practical jokes the two played not only on each other but on the other members of the team.

Across from Carl, Charles the lanky Parisian from the 16th was listening to his iPod, arguably the teams best pistol shot he was also a classical pianist by training and to this day Carl could not understand why Charles had joined the Police National. Next to him sat Simon the team’s entry specialist who leant across towards Carl.

“Chef, couldn’t they have just got the air force to run a strike?”

“Apparently not, it seems that they can’t guarantee a strike package to be around. The Atlantique that’s shadowing the boat is out of antiship weapons. So we’ve got to make sure no-one jumps ship.” Replied Carl

“Do you think that’s why those bastards from Satory have gone there to welcome however is on the ship, ashore? Couldn’t they have got a tank group to help out?”

“Simon, there’s no-one else around” said Carl with a small sigh “It’s just us, but we won’t fail eh?”

‘Oui Chef, server sans faillir” said Simon.

The sound of the units’ motto broke into the reverie of the others and they all chanted

“Oui Chef! Server sans Faillir!”

The chant broke through the crust of scar tissue that the weeks of combat and the loss of their team leader had built up. For the first time in over a fortnight Carl could see something more than resigned fate in their eyes.

The intercom buzzed and the internal lights turned red.

Carl stood up

“Okay my friends, we are five minutes out. Get your gear in final readiness. Remember if these are the same team that cost us the lieutenant and Christoff, we don’t need any baggage”

“Oui Chef” roared back the team as they got to making their final checks.

The next few minutes flew by and the chopper made a number of direction changes to confuse any watchers on the ground. It finally flared out landing softly next to the small parc at the junction of Ave du Baulois and Chenin du pont Saillant. The team disembarked quickly and the chopper quickly departed. Once the rotor washed had lessened the team formed a elongated diamond pattern whilst Philippe cleared the way onto the railway line.

The cloud cover meant that the evening was dark and brooding with little in the way of birdsong or insect noises that you would associated with this coastal region. Only the lease and rear team members equipped their PNVG’s as there was still enough light to march to. So slowly and carefully the team made their way down the track to La Baule.

The march seemed to take for ever even though at 10kms it would take just only a couple of hours. Even in the darkness the damage caused by the wave of pollution carried by the jet stream form the United States was clear. Trees that should now be covered in bright leaves were barren husks. The grass should have been dark but were almost a pale imitation so pale in fact that it almost glowed in the darkness. As the team silently passed by the Parc des Dryades it looked like a scene from Bergman’s “Seventh Seal”

Suddenly heavy gunfire could be heard to the north, causing the team the freeze and fade into the background as best they could. The odd roar of a cannon (whether artillery or form a tank it was uncertain) counter pointed the rattle of smaller calibre weaponry.

Alan whispered in Carls ear
“Regular army?”
Carl shoke his head
“It sounds like it’s coming from Guérande, I think there were reports of some deserters from l‘Armee de Terre holed up there, so maybe they’ve been assaulted by the GN armoured units. Anyway it’s nothing to do with us let’s move on”

He carefully made his way over to Philippe.
“Philippe, be extra cautious, if there are deserters in the area it will make our job harder” he whispered
“Oui Chef” replied the young agent, Carl patted him on the shoulder and the team restarted their march into the town.

It was close to 22:00 hrs by the time the men came close to the railway station, a cold wind was coming off the Atlantic rushing down the town’s streets cooling the men’s now sweaty BDU’s making them even more uncomfortable. Alexander was half turning to keep his Minimi SPW trained on the upper floor of the four storey house across the tracks when there was a flat crack and there was a spray of arterial blood as a high velocity bullet ripped out his through.

As the tall southerner dropped to his knees a raged fusillade of gun fire started to rain in on the team. As far as Carl and his mean could tell all the shots were coming form the station. The RAID team returned fire as best they could from what was a lower and quite poor position. Coming in was mainly FAMAS gun fire with some 9mm rounds and a few 7.62 shots that could have been coming from a semi automatic rifle due to rapidity of the shots. The outgoing fire was placed in short bursts with the team relying on their night vision gear to maintain accuracy.

The team had quickly dropped to the sides of the rail line trying to make themselves as inconspicuous as possible amongst the straggly weeds and the usual detritus you find on railway lines everywhere. Alan and Jules managed to get themselves behind a pile of concrete sleepers and started to unship their rifles.

Carl understood that they had to keep the pressure on whoever was ambushing them and he waved forward his mean suddenly realising that that marked him out just as many of the shots suddenly seemed to be coming his way!

Charles, Philippe and Simon used that change in priorities to make a flanking manoeuvre to the left and the carpark fence (which was pretty wrecked). Philippe and Simon got through and easily merged with the burnt out car wrecks that dotted the car park. Charles however was obviously seen just as he tried to get through, and a hail of automatic fire reached towards him. It was not a good time to get caught on the fencing, and sensing that he was done for, Charles flipped his G36 onto full auto and emptied the assault rifles magazine towards the stations windows just as two streams of FAMAS fire caught him. The hail of bullets slammed him against the wire fencing entangling him further, leaving him to flap weakly as his blood pooled around him.

By now Jules and Alan had unshipped their rifles and .50 and .338 sniper fire was accurately targeting their opposition resulting in a dramatic falling off of incoming fire. Relived that he was no longer the centre of attention Carl realised that he had no idea where all his men were or what some of them were doing. Cursing he switched on his comms gear.
“…careful he’s looking out..he’s gone.. move to by the fire hose”
“Got it, I’m here, I’ve got the whole front covered you can move up”
Recognising Philippe and Simons voices
“Boy’s what going on?”
“Chef keep you voice down!” replied Simon “Your worse than my mother!”
There was a chuckle Philippe answered
“We’re at the front boss getting ready to breach. Looks like three of them left.”
Before carl could command them to hold
“Okay we’re both here, breaching now the bastard’s will pay”
Two frag grenade blasts roared out form the ground floor of the station, the flashes almost overriding the gain controls of the teams PNVG’s
There were three more bursts of automatic fire then silence.
Philippe’s voice came over the comms.
“All clear come on in”

Cautiously the remaining members of the team entered into the station. Necver the prettiest of buildings la Baule’s station was now a semi ruin embellished with the ruinous effect of modern firearms. The ticket hall stank of blood, shit and cordite. The small café and station offices were in similar poor condition. It did not take long to police the site and without being ordered the two snipers had taken positions to cover the area. The dead quickly gave up their secrets and it seemed that their attackers had been deserters. They recovered 3 FAMAS, a MP5, an old MAT SMG and two MAS-49’s which should have been in a museum.

The rest of the team gathered together in the station office.
“Right this is not good, we’ve lost Charles and Alexander to these losers, but we’ve got to push on to the deployment site. It’s only a couple of hundred meters down the Avenue De Lattre De Tassigny.”
He paused awaiting the expected response which came from Simon
“Can’t we just request evac?”
“Simon you know the answer better than I do, no evac for at least another 6 houses, I want you and Philippe to collect and ammo we can use and head to the DP. Andre and I will secure Charles and Alexander’s bodies. Alan will go with you and Philippe to secure the DP. Jules can supply Andre and I with overwatch then we’ll come to the DP.”
Carl let out a short hollow laugh.
“Before I forget again keep you’re comms on we’ll use channel 7, let move so we can get some rest before the next data dump.”

The first half of the team took only 10 minutes to get ready and then they were off moving down the road to the Hotel des Dunes. It took Carl and Andre longer to find a storeroom that they could secure place the corpses of their dead comrades plus the weapons recovered form the deserters, and then booby trap the place. Then shouldering Charles’ G36, and Alexanders LMG as well as their spare ammo, Carl Andre and Jules slowly made their way down the Avenue De Lattre De Tassigny passing in front of the Hotel Marini whose white faced was now severely blackened from the fire which had wrecked it.

The DP was quickly set up in the 2nd floor of the Hotel des Dunes and they were only 30 minutes behind schedule. The data dump from their HQ at Bievres came in 25 minutes later.

To be continued……

Part 2 La Plage

The recent unrest had left some parts of the hotel curiously unscarred. The ground floor had been fairly well ransacked as had the first floor rooms. But the upper floors (except for some graffiti and odd bits of mindless vandalism) had been left pretty much intact.

Jules took a position on the upper floor and Alan took occupancy of the top floor of a small apartment building about 50 meters back up towards the railway station to give the team a full field of fire. That building had been pretty well gutted but the fire escape to the rear allowed the agile sniper easy access to the roof terrace.

Meanwhile the team secured their floor with a few surprises whilst Andre groused about their equipment levels
“I can’t believe we’ve barely got enough explosives to cover this place. What happens if we needs this gear later on?”
Simon just laughed
“we’ll get Philippe to run back and get it, the youngster needs to burn off his energy!”
This drew a few laughs from the others as they had suffered Philippe’s helpful comments about doing more exercise!

Carl had set up his hardened laptop and satellite phone and on the appointed time an encrypted burst of info was downloaded. The download seemed to take forever despite the high bandwidth of the link. Once it was finished Carl sent back an acknowledgement. Once he had gone through the information eh called the team together and opened a comms link to the two snipers
“Gentlemen, Obviously our situation has got worse due to the problems with our insertion but our orders are clear, we have to continue the mission, but there’s a bit of good news.”
He paused and adjusted the laptops screen so that the men in front of him could see what was there.
“Our supposed friends at the DRM have managed to pass over to us some TI pictures taken by a drone half an hour ago, as you can see from the images it seems that our friends are currently in two groups, one is by one of the beach restaurants, near to the beach club near the end of Avenue de la Concorde, the other group is at the entrance of the casino. The analysts believe that they have holed up there. Note however one hotspot on the roof of the casino. I think we can take that as written that they have a sniper there. The reduced image would suggest he’s using broad spectrum camouflage gear.”
Pressing the remote control a few times Carl brought up a map of the town.
“Our plan is as follows. At 01:00 well deploy into two teams, team one will be myself, Philippe, and Simon the second team will of course be made up of Jules, Alan and Andre. My team will ingress to the beach via Avenue Olivier Guichard. The other team will proceed to the beachfront via the Avenue de Général de Gaulle. This route should give us sufficient distance to observe without being too close.”
Carl paused and took a sip of water form his canteen.
“My team will hold at Place des Escholiers. The second team is to gain access to the apartment buildings on the corner of Avenue de Général de Gaulle and Boulevard Hennecart, Jules and Andre I want you take position on the second floor, Jules this will give you a good angle to disrupt any boats that come from the freighter. Alan you’ll need to get to the roof so you can get a good shot at their sniper. Once he’s gone then you can also act against either the beach group, any reinforcements from the casino and also any action form the boats. Questions?”
The two snipers and Andre answered in the negative at the same time, well almost..
“Non Chef”

“Good” continued Carl “My team will then move back and utilise les Allées des Tamaeris et Mouettes to get closer to the beach site and hold just inside Allée des Sylphes. Now Andres I want you to get into one of the apartments in the building on the corner of Allée des Sylphes and Boulevard Darlu and hold there as you should have a good view of what’s happening on the beach. The professors at BRGE say they can give me a direct data link to the Atlantique so we’ll get a feed from their FLIR cameras. As soon as we see what the freighter is doing, Alan on my order you take out the sniper. Andre you soften up the beach site using the M203. My team will cross over the boulevard and assault the beach site. Andre I want you to stop using the M203 as soon as we hit the sea wall understand?”

“Oui chef’ came the reply.

‘Excellent, now if this is a supply or reinforcement run we’ll have multiple boats to deal with so we must be prepared to deal with a larger number of OPFOR. If this happens then my team will exfil back to the market place via the cathedral. Well need team two to supply covering fire until the OPFOR have secured the beach and then you’re to rendezvous with us in the marketplace, from the we’ll return here.”

‘What then Chef?” asked Simon

“We’ll make it up as we go along!” replied Carl with a smile.

“However” he continued “this might be a supply drop and so I’d expect Alan to dispose of any boats with that cannon of his. Hopefully it will be simple and the beach site will be secured quickly. Assuming that happens Simon, Philippe and myself will police the site. Andre I want you to secure the roof of the building you will be in so as to provide an overwatch site for Alan. Obviously Alan I need you there, Jules and Andre will rendezvous with us in Allée des Sylphes.”

Carl click the remote control a few more times bringing up some basic diagrams of the casino.

“From there we’ll move to take out the remnants in the casino. I’ve been advised that the Atlantique will be able to stay on station and provide constant surveillance which is good news so we’ll know well in advance if anyone else comes to crash the party. Once we’ve cleaned up then we retrieve our fallen comrades and await our exfil. Any further questions?”

Philippe brought up a question that no-one was prepared for
“What are our rules of engagement for civilians Chef?”

Carl hesitated

“The same as in Nantes. Assume all contacts to be hostile, even here we can’t assume anything look at what happened at the station!”

Alan and Jules both started muttering and Carl turned on them
“I’m sorry if you gentlemen are upset about this but I’m not losing anyone else tonight! Understand?”

“Yes Chef” replied Jules clearly not happy about the situation
“..errr yes Chef” said Alan obviously still preoccupied with the announcement.
Carl continued “… radio chatter to be kept to a minimum during infil just give me a brief burst on the mic when you reach position. When we’re in postion I’ll give you verbal ok to engage. Clear?’

He got nods all round.

“Right” continued Carl “make sure you are all ready to go and well commence infil at 01:00.”

With the briefing clearly over the team members checked and double checked their gear. 1am seemed to rush forward as it seemed the briefing was barely over before the men had to quietly break up the camp as best they could. Andre was the last out having set a few surprises in case anyone else tried to access the site. Alan and Jules then made their way down from their hideaways. All the men then engaged their PNVG’s and the two teams split up.

The sniper team made their way down what was once a road filled with nice restaurants and chic boutiques that were frequented by Paris’ émigrés when they visited during the holiday seasons. Both Alan and Jules had their secondary weapons ready as their rifles were too bulky to be carried any distance in this environment. Both Jules Glock 18 and Alan’s B&T MP9 had suppressors in place as did Andre’s M4A1 although how long they would remain practical in a firefight was questionable. Many of the shop windows were broken, looking like demonic mouths filled with jagged teeth in the green glow of the teams night vision goggles. Occasionally a dead body could be seen, these corpses were now just bones held together by ragged cloth as the local vermin and dog population had feasted on them long ago.
Alan shook his head at the way the town had been ruined in the vicious civil war, although he could understand that this once lovely seaside town was simply a microcosm of the ruined Fifth Republic.

A block away, Carl’s team carefully moved down a tree lined road with various homes to either side. Again the vagaries of the civil war meant that some were burnt out shells whilst others looked completely intact. The one pervasive element was silence, no sound could be heard except the odd sound of cannon fire coming from the north and the sound of the sea a few hundred meters distant.

Even with both teams taking care and moving as quietly as possible it did not take too much time for them to reach their respective waypoints. Carl’s team hunkered down in the shame of a hedge and Carl sent his ‘in position’ burst of radio to Jules. Then all they could do was keep watch and wait.

Alan, Andre and Jules finally reached their target a large apartment building that faced straight onto the sea. There were shops on the ground floor facing to the beach and a walled garden and underground car park to the rear. Switching on their IR lights the trio slowly made their way down the ramp into the car park. The ramp was partially blocked by two Mercedes SLK’s which had tried to leave at the same time. But these vehicles really caused no interruption to their decent. Jules noticed in passing that the driver of one had been clearly shot in the head a couple of times. Whether it was in revenge for the crash or sheer spitefulness, he could only guess.

It took the men a few minutes to find the emergency stairs, which ‘fortunately’ had been wedged open. Using extreme care the trio ascended the stairs and too their trip to the top of the building found nearly half a dozen booby traps. All were pretty basic but every one could kill or maim. The sniper team made a quick decision to disarm all except the bottom trap. Alan took the lead up the stairs ever mindful of either more traps or a surprise visit from the person who laid the ones they’d found.

As the apartment building was only 6 stories tall it was not long until the three men reached the roof exit. This had been padlocked shut so there was a further delay as Jules picked the lock. All the men were conscious of how time was passing so Alan quickly changed into his Ghillie suite, one specially designed for urban environments and which also had an integrated thermal damping system. As soon as Alan was finished the team installed a claymore mine adjacent to the doorway, once outside Alan would plant another to ensure he got no unwanted visitors.

Once the first claymore was planted Alan got down on his stomach as Alan very slowly opened the fire door, as son as it was wide enough Jules slithered out on his stomach as Jules again carefully closed the door. Jules and Andre then moved down one flight of stairs before activating the first claymore. The two men then moved down to the fifth floor and jimmied open the fire door leading to the hallway. This passage way had two doors and a lift.
“Left or right?” whispered Andre
Jules just shrugged, both doors looked similar, both had three locks that would take time to pick and both looked solid. He rummaged around in his BDU’s pockets and came up with a doctors stethoscope, as quietly as he could he used the stethoscope to listen at both doors, hearing nothing he shook his head. Replacing the ‘scopes he found an old 20 centieme piece and flipped it


“Heads” replied Andre suddenly realising that they had done this over a dozen times now with the same 30year old coin over the last few years.

Jules caught the coin and slapped it on his left hand peering closely through his PNVG’s “heads it is, your choice”

Andre swore softly “errr right!”

The hard decision made, Jules checked the doorframe for alarm connections and finding none, he started to quietly pick the three deadbolts. The apartment beyond was quite smart and well furnished. Andre secured the door whilst Jules quickly swept the apartment for inhabitants finding none, the two men checked out the windows of the lounge and found to their horror that behind the curtains were security screens.

‘Fuck, fuck, fuck” swore Andre “what do we do now?”

“Calm down,” replied Jules, “it’s easy we slowly open the blinds by about 30 or 40 cm’s even if they’re looking directly at this building it’ll be very hard to notice”

“What even through a scope?”

“So do you want to tell the Chef that we have to delay the attack?” asked Jules rhetorically, before moving to the two sets of casement windows, opening them as slowly as possible, then he slowly tested the right hand screen. Thankfully it seemed that whoever owned the apartment looked after all of the it, not just the obvious ones. So it took little effort to open the screens and secure them.

Meanwhile up on the roof, Alan had placed his claymore and had moved across the roof to a point which would allow him a view of both the Casino and the beach. Next he laid down a thin bedding roll and then it was the turn of his heavy McMillan snipers rifle to come out of its casing opening up it’s bipod and then installing the night sight. All this was done without Alan raising his profile to his hopefully unaware opponent over at the casino.

Once he was finished setting up his site, Alan settled in and zero’d in on the opposing sniper. The GIGN sniper was right where the UAV’s recce shot had placed him, just over a kilometre away on a lower level. Like any good sniper Alan took note of anything that indicated air movement between him and his target. After making some basic mental calculations regarding bullet drop he was ready and pressed his ‘mission ready’ button on his comms gear.

Down below in their apartment Jules and Andre now had a clear view of their targets. The GIGN team had since the UAV’s recce run set up a forward base in one of the restaurants on the beach leaving only a couple of their team on the beach. To guide in the incoming boat or boats they had placed a number of IR light strobes on the beach in an arrow formation showing the best ingress route onto the beach. Also just visible a few miles out to sea the freighter that was the cause of this rendezvous could be seen. This force relocation changed things considerably especially as it was clear that the freighter was nearly at a point to offload whatever cargo it had stored.

Andre laid out two Thermobaric grenades and then an additional two HEDP. At the same time Jules radioed Carl.

“Chef Rapide 2, we have a problem OPFOR have moved most of their forces into Building C on the beach, repeat Building C on the beach. Freighter is almost at anchorage. Instructions over”

Back at Carl’s holding position the news was not welcome.
“Roger that Rapide 2. Hold 5, repeat hold 5. Rapide Prime out”

Jules wondered what the Chef would do but he hit the ‘mission ready’ button on his comms gear anyway.

Taking out his lap top Carl quickly called up the datalink with the patrolling Atlantique. Once he was logged in, he then opened up a comlink with the mission controller on the MPA.

“Mouette 6, this is Rapide Prime do you read, over?”
“Copy that Rapide Prime we read you at five, over”
“Any change on Mission 1 over”
“Mission 1 has slowed to three knots and it looks like it is about drop anchor, Rapide Prime, over”
‘Copy that Mouette 6, any change for force application? over?”
“Negative Rapide Prime, but may have small gift for Mission 1, over”
Carl didn’t know what the guy was talking about but the lack of any CAS or arty support meant that they were still going to have to strike the hard way.
“Rapide Prime this is Mouette 6, you might want to check our FLIR feed, over”
Carl looked at the laptop screen and the cool black surface of the freighter was filling with lighter bodies, lots of them.
“Copy that Mouette 6, please advise as soon as Mission 1 drops anchor we will strike two minutes after. Rapide Prime out”
“Copy that Rapide Prime, bon chance mes amis, Mouette 6 out”
Carl closed up his laptop and got up addressing his team via his comms unit.
“Ok boys, this is going to be harder. I’d say this is a reinforcement run, so we’ll hit those bastards from Sartory hard. Take potshots at the boasts as they come in then head for exfil. Agreed?”
The sniper team clicked twice acknowledging in the positive and the other who were with Carl just nodded their heads.
“Okay lets get to our forward holding position” so saying Carl and the others headed off to within half a block of the beach.

It took only a couple of minutes to reach their FHP and once there, with Philipe and Simon on overwatch, Carl once again accessed the laptop. By now both his various groups could hear the low droning sound of the MPA, Andre and Jules could also see some of the GIGN team looking up at the overcast skies. Accessing the mission control software Carl could see mission ready lights glowing a nice green for his tow sniper groups and the MPA. On the FLIR feed he could see both anchors being dropped on the freighter and almost immediately a SMS message came on the screen reporting the same from the MPA mission controller.

Carl radio’d his men in the apartment building.
“Two minutes, Rapide Prime out”
Carl and his team made last minute checks to their equipment as the mission clock counted down. Carl closed up the case as the timer was linked to his watch. They were ready to go.

30 seconds…

20 seconds….

10 seconds…

Over at the Casino the GIGN sniper stretched his back slightly looking upwards to see if he could see what plane was above the town. It just made Alan’s job that much easier

5 seconds…
4,3,2,1, Zero.
Carl radioied
“Rapide 3 shoot”
He counted to five then,
“Rapide 2 shoot”

Alan had already put himself fully into position as soon as the other sniper started to move slightly so the time it took from receiving the order to shoot and him squeezing the trigger of the McMillan was measured in half a heartbeat. The boom of the .50 calibre rifle could be heard all along the sea front however the heavy match grade round reached its target well before the noise of the shot reached the Casino. Because the snipers back was already arched the bullet flung him like a rag doll against the side of the building the bullet was only slightly slowed by the man’s body armour and it punched right through wall behind him finally dropping to the floor a few meters into the casino.

Alan waited a few moments to check that his target was dead before switching positions to be able to view the freighter. It was two kilometres away in the channel which runs parallel to the beach. Alan switched magazines and slid one loaded with HE-I rounds into the magazine well. Through the scope he could see four boats being lowered on either side and a crowd of people waited to descend ladders already in place to board the smaller vessels. To start with he began to shoot at the freighters bridge planning to move to the small boast once they were crewed and heading inshore. Just before he took his first shot he could see through his ‘scope the Atlantique MPA drop from the cloud cover and head towards the freighter.

In the apartment below Jules and Andre acted as soon as they were given the order. Jules took down the two men who were on watch within 10 seconds. In the same time Andre had fired the first thermobaric grenade popped the action of the grenade launcher loaded the second and just fired it off as the second watchman died. The noise of the .338 Hecate rifle was much louder than that of the M203 and so neither man heard the connecting door to the other apartment open, a door they’d pretty much missed in their brief search of the apartment.

The thermobaric rounds basically flattened the beach hut café that the GIGN men had hidden in, blowing out the flimsy walls causing the roof to pancake on the floor boards. However at least four men were leaving as the first rounds hit. All hit the ground and started to fire up at the surrounding buildings not quite sure where the incoming fire was coming from.

As soon as he had given the ‘go’ order Carl and his team ran towards the sea front. The sea wall that ran alongside the esplanade would give them very good cover and it was imperative that none of the OPFOR reached it. Running hard they made the wall just as the last of Andre’s two HEDP grenades had hit the edge of the ruined building giving the best fragmentation effect.

In the lull provided by the grenades the three RAID operatives could see the four GIGN men clearly against the white sand and so Carl and his men opened up at a distance of no more than 40 meters. The sound of Philippes silenced MP5SD was drowned out by the high pitched cracks of Carls STG 551 and Simons P90. The firefight was short and brutal. But Carl and his team were unaware of what had happened to Andre and Jules.

Jules and Andre had stepped back from their respective windows after Andre’s fourth grenade had been launched as much as to avoid any answering fire form the beach as to avoid inflicting friendly fire on their own troops. Jules sensed rather than saw a presence to his right and he turned seeing an old man in pinstripped pyjamas and a dressing gown hold a triple barrelled shotgun.

The old man screamed
“Bâtards!! you break into my house, my home” and fired one of shotguns barrels the goose-shot slammed into Jules body armour driving him back into the sofa behind him. None of the shot penetrated but he could fell one rib give under the pressure of the shotgun blast. The shotgun rose under the recoil and then the upper barrel roared expelling a massive slug designed for shooting boar. This massive piece of lead had no trouble penetrating Jules neck armour and decapitated the Parisian where he sat. Jules arterial blood sprayed the ceiling as his helmeted head rolled onto the floor.

By the second shot Andre had fully turned and the shock of what he saw froze him in place. In the glow of his PNVG’s Jules blood was like a stream of phosphorous which was drenching his attacker. Andre could see the shotgun start to track in his direction and so fired his grenade launcher…

After he had fired the last HEDP round Andre had replaced the round he had kept in the launcher during the march from the hotel. Instead of firing a HE grenade this munition was like a super-sized shotgun shell.

20 balls of buckshot exited the grenade launcher and as there were only a few meters to travel they had barely spread out before hitting the old man and so tore a hole larger than a mans fist through his stomach, in the process blasting out part of the mans spine before expelling their energy in the wall behind him. The old man was flung backwards but not before his finger pulled on he shotguns trigger. The last shotgun blast though blew the front of a cabinet revealing a number of bottles of wine. Some perished but a good half dozen survived. Chateau Lafite, Jules favourite.

By now it was clear that the MPA was on what looked to be a bombing run.
Awaiting a sitrep from his sniper teams Carl contacted the misson controller aboard Mouette 6.

‘Mouette 6 this is Rapide Prime, what is your intent over”
“Rapide Prime this is Mouette 6 we’re about to deliver a welcome package hope it works! What is your situation over?”
“Mouette 6, OPFOR and sniper support removed.” Carl could hear Alan’s McMillan firing and could see what looked like flames in the freighter bridge
‘We are firing on Mission 1, over”
“Copy that Rapide Prime, Lets see if this idea works eh? Mouette 6 out”

Through Alan’s scope he could see that those on board could tell that the Atlantique was approaching but his shots had caused a fair amount of commotion. He could see that the MPA’s bay doors had opened and just before it overflew the freighter an object flew out and hit the water on the far side of the freighter. Almost immediately there was a massive whoosh and a spout of water flew tens of meters into the air before cascading down on the boat. The freighter itself seemed to shudder in place. As to the smaller boats that were lowered a few minutes before there was no sign.

Alan radioed Carl
‘Chef, I think they just used a depth charge, must have set the depth for only a couple of meters. Looks like they’re coming for another pass.”

Indeed the MPA had banked around the bay and was making another run this time from the landward side of the freighter. By now it seemed someone had got hold of some firearms and a few lines of tracers started to arc towards the MPA. Alan started to return fire almost immediately lessening the feeble AA fire from the freighter. However this time the OWO misjudged and the depth charge landed on the freighters deck cushioned by a few bodies. If there was chaos before now it was absolutely Alan could see people jumping overboard as the depth charge rolled this way and that as the freighter wallowed in the after effects of the first bomb run. The depth charge rolled suddenly though a gap in the landward railings and fell the remaining 10 meters or so to the surface of the sea. As it dropped through the 1.5m mark the charge ignited. The force of the blast obliterated the four boast that were in the water and the concussive force jellified any of the men in the water.

It was then the freighter gave up the ghost. It’s structure was not built with withstand the pressure blows of two sets of military grade explosives on opposing sides and its back began to break. The sound of the hull failing could be heard on the beach as the ship tore itself apart in a foaming sea.

Carl and his men just looked on almost unbelieving at the sight before them. They were still watching the ships dying moments when Alan and a blood spattered Andre reached then. Andre had Jules rifle slung over his back and was carrying a bag.

‘Where’s Jules?”
“The apartment we used was owned by some crazy old wanker, looks like he was sleeping next door. Shot Jules with a boar hunting shotgun, I took him out but Jules, Jules he shot him in the throat…. it was terrible Chef. The funny thing is one of the shots opened up a wine cabinet and there were all these bottle of Lafite, well you know how Jules used to gone on about it so I though we should drink it in his honour when we get back to base.”

He opened up the bag for all to see and there were six bottle of Chateau Lafite 2000.

It was almost too much for Carl. His team was almost destroyed and yet they had found maybe six thousand euros of wine. He didn’t know whether to laugh of cry and the inanity of it all. His composure was saved by Mouette 6 calling in.

“Rapide Prime, Mouette 6 calling, do you copy? Over”
“Roger that Mouette 6, we are down another man. Glad to say your surprise worked well.”
“Copy that Rapide Prime, so are we. We have been advised that we have some Frelons en-route with marines to secure your area. ETA 45 minutes. You will exfil on those choppers.”
‘Copy that Mouette 6, Rapide Prime out”
“Well done Rapide Prime we’ve had a report from Control that they’ve had more intel on that freighter. We’ve stopped something very big. France will be proud..of course only some of it will be but you know what I mean. Mouette 6 out”
Carl had to chuckle at the mission controllers humour and turned to his men.
“The Marines have finally decided to come from their barracks. They’ll be with us shortly. Andre and Alan please stay here. Simon Philippe and I will get our comrades bodies and the other gear. And if we can get it all together maybe we can open one of those bottles before we leave. But one should go to the boys in Mouette 6 as they saved us a lot of grief.”

Alan replied “Chef I think I saw the OPFORs vehicle a SUV in front of the casino so you should be able to use that.”

“Well spotted Alan, I’m getting tired of walking. If I’d wanted to do that all day I’d have joined the infantry!”

Just about an hour later four Navy Super-Frelon helicopters flared down on the beach. Disgorging Marines who came upon the site of five men in black BDU’s sitting next to three shrouded bodies, and drinking out of a bottle of Vintage wine.