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Episode 34

Take the Hill, Take the Town

“Thank you, Lieutenant,” Colonel Emerson said. “Now, Sergeant Hanley, we need you to take a small scout team and get us locked on target so we can shell the hell out of that position.”

“Yes sir,” Jock said, leaning over the map. “We’ll need to find a good location high enough to get us a view over Hill 621 where we can call in fire. The neighboring grid to the east, here, there’s a higher spot, about two and a half kilometers out. Looks like a ridge.”

“That’s correct,” the lieutenant chimed in. “The road itself is in a lower area between the ridge to the west and the hill to the east.”

“Can we take in a vehicle?” Jock asked.

“Yes,” said the lieutenant. “You can get to within about five kilometers of the hill by following the road until it reaches this bend. That area is mostly logging land, low visibility and they won’t see you coming in until you come out here,” he pointed on the map. “On the western side of the road it looks like forest on this map but it isn’t anymore, according to scouts. This area has been clearcut and replanted within the last couple of years. New trees are only a couple of feet tall, so you’d be sitting ducks for the battery up top.”

“And the other side?” Jock asked, pointing to the eastern side, which also looked to be cloaked in forest.

“Also clearcut,” the lieutenant said, “but only for perhaps a half-kilometer off the road up the ridge. Back side of the ridge is a different piece of land, still wooded and sloping down to a seasonal creek bed on the other side.”

“So, we get dropped off, then we can cut across, stay low through the young trees, get to the back of the ridge, then work our way to the top a few kilometers down, then sight in on the hill and call in artillery,” Jock said. “No problem.”

“Excellent,” Colonel Emerson said. “Get ready. We need you there tonight. If you can be ready within the hour, we’ll get you to your drop-off point by sundown. Take two men, Sergeant. This needs to be small, fast, and quiet. Do not allow your squad to be compromised. Do not engage the enemy unless absolutely necessary.”

“Yes sir,” we said with a salute. The colonel saluted in return. “Good luck, men. Take that hill and we take the town. Dismissed.”

Outside, Jock looked us over.

“Falkland and Park, you’re coming with me.”

“Aw, c’mon Sarge!” Jones said. “What about me?”

“You stay here and braid Ward’s hair for him.”

“That could take a while,” Ward said, running his hand over his shaved head.

“Sit tight, Jones, you’ll get your chance. Both these guys have more recon experience, plus Park is certified to one-kay range.”

They nodded and retreated, while Jock, Park and I hit up the supply officer. Jock got a rifle with a grenade launcher, Park took his sniper rifle along with some frag grenades and Jock gave me a heavy machine gun with a bipod, just in case we got stuck. Each of us carried two boxes of extra belts for the machinegun plus our regular packs. We also got long underwear and jacket liners. Weather would be near freezing overnight. Jock gave me the radio, reporting directly to the master gun chief. Codename “Fox".

We rode in the back of an armored vehicle, painted a flat green.

“What’s up with all the boxes stuck on the side of this thing?” Park asked the Ulimbese driver.

“You never saw that before?” he said incredulously.

“No,” Park said.

“Reactive armor,” the driver said. “We get hit, it blows up.”

“What?” I said. “This thing is a death trap!”

Jock laughed and shook his head. “Naw, I’m guessing it blows outwards.”

“You got it,” said the driver. “We take a hit, it triggers the box to blow, exploding outward and hopefully taking out the incoming. Controlled explosion.”

The Ulimbese gunner nodded. “Yeah, it’s good stuff. I’ve thought about putting it on my house.”

“Bad neighborhood?” I asked.

“Naw. I live near a golf course, though. Fore—POW!”

“Geez,” Jock said.

We arrived at our drop-off point a little before sundown and waved goodbye to our escort, then travelled out of sight of the road into the woods.

Take the Hill, Take the Town panel 3
Take the Hill, Take the Town panel 4
Wardogs Inc. series cover
Take the Hill, Take the Town episode cover
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Wardogs Inc.

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