Survivalist - 15 - Overlord

BOOK: Survivalist - 15 - Overlord
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Title : #15 : OVERLORD

Series : Survivalist

Author(s) : Jerry Ahern

Location : Gillian Archives

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Chapter One

Predictably the leader of the reconnaissance patrol had sent one man ahead. John Rourke waited for him in the rocks as the man entered the gorge, the man’s assault rifle at the ready. Rourke imagined the man’s knuckles would have been white if they could have been seen beneath the heavy winter gloves the man wore.

Rourke’s own knuckles were white — of his right hand only, the hand which gripped the hollow handled Crain Life Support System X, hand-made for him five centuries ago by the Weatherford, Texas knifemaker, a knife John Rourke had saved for his son but which his son no longer would need. But John Rourke needed it.

It was a special knife, longer in both blade and handle than Jack Crain’s usual fighting/survival knives, almost the dimensions of a short sword, the blade an even foot in length, saw-toothed along the spine, the recurving Bowielike false edge as sharp as the primary edge.

Rourke waited where the gorge narrowed. It was the logical place. The man coming through the gorge ahead of his patrol, if he were any good at all, would anticipate this as the most logical place to be attacked and be doubly vigilant.

John Rourke waited, slowly moving his left hand upward and cross body to meet with his right, his right hand held

high, above shoulder height, the System X pointing upward, Rourke’s back flat against the cold of the rock wall of the narrow waist of the gorge.

The gorge was only eight feet across here and, logic again dictated, the Soviet trooper would make the wise decision and walk along the precise center, thereby keeping a safe distance from either wall. The gorge walls were pockmarked with indentations, some large enough to hide a man from plain view. It was in one of these where Rourke himself hid.

But the angle of the indentation was such that Rourke could, by keeping his face at its very edge, easily observe. The man was some eight feet back along the gorge, entering into this narrowest part, his pace slowing, the rifle moving into a better semblance of a hard assault position than it had been earlier. Rourke could see the man’s gloved right first finger edged just outside the trigger guard. Rourke heard a telltale click over the shifting and scratching sounds of loose gravel. It would be the safety of the man’s rifle, being moved to the burst fire position.

John Rourke waited, his left fist closing over the base of the System X’s handle, his right hand edging slighdy upward and tighter against the massive matte stainless steel guard.

Rourke took a deep breath and held it, edging back slighdy as the man he was about to kill drew closer.

Both Rourke’s hands tightened their interlaced grip. He could hear the man’s slightly labored breathing, the rattle of some item of equipment or another.

Beneath the man’s chin was a metallic framework, the framework holding a microphone just below the level of the man’s lips. The microphone would be on, someone with the main body of the man’s unit monitoring the fact that the man kept breathing, listening for some untoward sound that would betray an encounter with foul play which would then alert the unit. It was for this reason, its almost total soundlessness, that John Rourke had chosen the method for the advance man’s death.

The Soviet soldier was even with Rourke now—it crossed Rourke’s mind that the soldier was “dead even” with him. Rourke stepped from the rock indentation with his left foot, his left leg extending outward, his right leg sweeping after it. Rourke’s body weight pivoted on the ball of his left foot as his right foot came down, both fists, the arms following, snapping outward to maximum extension, arcing the primary edge of the Crain knife toward the throat of the Soviet scout.

The man was young, his eyes were brown, a startled look coming to them as he started to shout.

The primary edge of the System X connected, Rourke’s full body weight behind it now, torquing the blade through muscle, flesh and bone, the expression of surprise in the brown eyes freezing there as the head severed from the body. Rourke, without his customary aviator style sunglasses, squinted, averting his eyes as the blood spurted from the stump atop the now headless torso …

John Thomas Rourke had always felt it erroneous to label character traits as good or evil —it was, instead, how such traits manifested themselves that was subject to moral judgment. Vladmir Karamatsov was consistent, consistent in his practice of evil, which was an evil, but consistent in other things as well. It was another manifestation of Karamatsov’s consistency for which John Rourke found himself now quite pleased —the predictability of the man. Habitually, as Karamatsov’s troops moved eastward, Karamatsov, or more likely one of his underlings, with Karamatsov’s full acquiescence, dispatched recon patrols in tandem, going off at oblique angles to the column’s line of march (as best terrain allowed) and ahead of the slow-moving army. A solitary Soviet gunship would move directly over the line of march and ahead, back and forth, covering the immediate ground over which the column would move.

It was one of the twin reconnaissance patrols which

Rourke, Natalia Anastasia Tiemerovna beside him, now observed, the patrol’s point man the soldier whom Rourke had just killed.

Rourke looked up from their line of march and across the gorge which the patrol now entered. He could not see Paul Rubenstein, nor any of the commandos of New Germany. And that was very good.

Rourke glanced at Natalia, their eyes meeting, his eyes rivetting to the almost surreal blueness of hers. He thought for an instant of the brown eyes of the dead soldier, perhaps the newest soul to join the ranks of those who died for ideologies they did not comprehend, simply to serve the ego of a dictator. He let his eyes drift past Natalia. A half dozen German commandos, armed, ready.

It was a risky operation, but a reconnaissance patrol would perforce possess maps potentially useful as intelligence data; and the officer leading the patrol and perhaps his senior non-com would have valuable data in their heads, to be sure.

Sixteen persons attacking twenty-three men from ambush—the dead soldier with the brown eyes had been the twenty-fourth — with the element of surprise in their favor was not the risky part. The risky part was attempting to take as many live prisoners as possible. Corpses provided little knowledge except to the budding anatomist or the pathologist, but neither of these disciplines was a concern at the moment.

But he had hedged against the risk. Immediately after killing the point man, Rourke had plugged his own microphone unit —earlier liberated from another hapless Russian—into the belt pack of the dead man’s radio, maintaining the regular breathing, murmuring the Russian equivalent for “shit” into the unit and then indicating he had slipped and fallen. And now the faked radio transmission was kept up by a soldier of New Germany in Argentina who marched on a respectable distance ahead of the Russians he

was trying to deceive, marched on in Soviet battle dress utilities lest Karamatsov’s roving helicopter should for some reason diverge from its customary path and observe him, marching on to keep the distance right on the radio transmission, keep up the sound of labored breathing from exertion in the cold, thin mountain air.

John Rourke settled the Steyr-Mannlicher SSG on his shoulder, the bolt already worked, a boat-tail 7.62mm already up the spout. Silently, he worked off the SSG’s safety, settling the crosshairs of the 3x9 variable over the backpack radio being carried by the second man on the far side. Each individual soldier had his helmet radio, the power unit attached to his belt, the range of the individual units less than a mile in terrain as mountainous as this.

It was the patrol radio which could reach the column and summon help. The distance to the column was too great for the sound of gunfire to carry. Rourke eased his breathing, the first finger of his right hand snapping off the set trigger at the rear of the trigger guard, then moving to where it nearly touched the forward trigger, this now set to trip when barely nudged.

Rourke licked his lips, taking a deep breath, holding it a moment, then letting almost all of it go, locking the rest inside his throat.

His right first finger twitched, the Steyr Special Rifle bucking against his right shoulder, the image in the scope blurring, the crack — and then a shout from the gorge as the Soviet trooper fell forward, his radio backpack shattering, pieces flying everywhere. Rourke was up, handing off the SSG to one of the German commandos, moving, clambering over the rocks behind which they had hidden, shouting, “Follow me!”, running.

Suppressive fire was coming from the rocks on the other side of the gorge, the Russians turning their attention away from Rourke and Natalia and the men with them for a precious instant. Rourke threw the M-16 forward on its

sling, his thumb finding the safety tumbler, levering it to auto, the assault rifle at his hip now. The reconnaissance patrol started into defensive positions.

Two troopers with portable missile launchers strapped to their backs were starting to run further along the course of the gorge. Rourke swung the muzzle of the M-16 toward them, firing. The first man went down, a line of wounds stitched across the small of his back beneath his equipment, the second man turning to fire, Rourke cutting him down with a burst across the upper arm and across the chest and into the throat, the body still spinning as it fell.

Natalia shouted from behind him. Rourke sidestepped as he wheeled, gunfire plowing the ground where Rourke had just stood, Natalia’s assault rifle opening up, a tall, burly Soviet soldier on the opposite side of the gorge going down. Rourke looked right —the Soviet officer and his non-com, the officer with a small submachinegun and the non-com with an assault rifle, were shooting their way out of the trap, running back the way they had come.

“Natalia!” Rourke started after them, at the far left edge of his peripheral vision seeing Natalia do the same.

As the two men crossed through the narrowest portion of the waist of the gorge, there was a single blur, then another just after it. Paul jumped from the high rocks, tackling the officer, one of the German commandos doing the same, sacking the non-com.

Rourke, Natalia beside him, closed quickly with them. Rourke stepped in between Paul and the Russian as the Soviet officer pulled away and started to his feet. The M-16’s flash deflector tipped the officer at the base of the jaw, the head snapping back, Paul grabbing the man by the front of his parka, the partially stunned Russian reaching for the pistol at his belt, Paul’s right fist crossing the already bloodied mouth, putting the man down.

Rourke wheeled right, the German commando on his knees, both fists balled as though they held some invisible

baseball bat, the fists lacing the Soviet non-com across the mouth as the man tried to get up. The commando sagged forward over the man. Rourke could see Natalia rifle-butting another Soviet trooper in the crotch, then knee smashing to the side of his head. The others from Paul’s original position on the far side of the gorge had closed with the Russians now, the two elements of the German commando unit having all but subdued the ambushed Russians. It would now be a job for the German truth drugs …

John Rourke watched the movement of the Hero Marshal’s column, comparing it in his mind to a giant snake, slow moving but with the potential for incalculable deadli-ness. He swept the armored 8x30s along the course of the ridgeline over which the tanks, armored personnel carriers and armored truck transports moved. It was a snake of considerable length, and with the naturally undulating pattern of the ridge, the snake almost seemed to move like some grandiosely proportioned sidewinder.

He shifted his gaze from the snake.

Moving along a steep defile toward the ridgeline was a single file of men, two dozen of them the precise count when he had last looked. And he counted them again as they trudged slowly upward to intersect the snake’s line of travel, the snake still at least a mile-and-a-quarter away.

No men had joined the file or broken away from it.

It was the second reconnaissance patrol, the men of the first patrol dead or captured, those captured being interrogated by intelligence specialists. Rourke would have felt more confident if Natalia had been supervising it.

It was one of many reconnaissance patrols Rourke had observed in the weeks since Karamatsov’s abortive attempt to conquer the Soviet Underground City, in the weeks since Karamatsov had begun the movement of his vast army to the east.

The forces of the Underground City seemed to be still recovering from the effects of the gas attack and ground assault, by means of which Karamatsov had nearly overthrown his own Soviet Communist leaders. What the leadership of the Soviet Underground City would decide upon as their ultimate course of future action was as yet uncertain. Because of this, considerable numbers of the forces of New Germany with whom John Rourke, the Icelandics and, at least in name, the leadership of Eden Base had allied, remained in the low ridges and high valleys encamped near the principal entrance to the Underground City. Should the Soviet forces there commit to the field, the Germans would be hard pressed to contain them.

BOOK: Survivalist - 15 - Overlord
3.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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