Part One: Prologue
(This post is longer than it needs be, I know, but I like setting a scene, and I wanted to provide a posting content for Hawk and Swordfish to get into this. Everyone else, you know where you are- and you'll be in contact with other characters sooner or later, do what you are currently assigned to.)
Somewhere east of Garmsar, Takur Ghar, Takistan
Inside a Merlin HC3
"I would fucking bang Cheryl Cole, you know. Still would do her, even after that." Corporal Danny Wright said, and the rest groaned, the Merlin packed with Kestrel Section and flying straight to FOB Revolver. After stopping in Bandar-e-Ghazami, they had flown on since there in this Merlin, about 14 passengers inside including Daniel. The medics and the ATO team weren't aboard- they were to meet them in FOB Revolver, allegedly. Yet it was Daniel who sat awkwardly, watching the fully kitted British Paras squad argue over who they would have sex with, under what circumstances. So far, it had gotten good.
"You are fucked up, Danny boy. You'd shag your nan if she sang for a living." Lance Corporal O'Neil said, causing a slight uproar, as the Corporal himself quickly replied.
"Very fucking funny. Sarge, when the hell are we arriving in Revolver? I swear you said twenty minutes twenty fucking minutes ago?" Cpl Wright asked, Daniel a little pissed in the way he had tried to put that across. Danny was about 22- a very young age for a Corporal, and a pain in Daniel's arse right now. Out there though, he was fine- he just needed people to shoot at him to bring himself out, that was all, Daniel reckoned.
"Watch it, Corporal. You sound like a two year old when you say that, you know. When we're there, we'll be there. Besides, it's not like Cheryl Cole at the LZ anyway, so just wait what you need." Daniel said simply, his Welsh accent still sticking out as Daniel took it as a valid note, not wanting to push it any further with the previous conversation.
"Right, when we hit the tarmac at FOB Revolver, you're all dismissed. Second Lieutenant Welch and his team will be joining us as an ATO, along with Private Mitchell and Lance Corporal Sloan, our medics. Get friendly with them, since they're going to be our lads for this tour." Daniel added, as the thundering uproar from the Merlin still filled the interior, the British soldiers all inside still chatting over Danny and his sick sexual desires, as well as a few other things. Daniel let things go on, but he liked people to at least listen.
"Question- our tank team going to be there too, or do we have to wait another week for them to arrive, sir?" Corporal Gallagher asked, turning to Daniel as he quickly replied, aware that they had to be there now. There wasn't a doubt in his mind that this was going to be another day as it was back a few tours ago, in Iraq- where his Warrior crew literally didn't arrive for a week, confining the entire section to crap jobs within base, and a bit of hate for Sergeant Burns himself.
"Yeah, definitely. They want us rolling out quickly and proper, not any old shit, so they're bound to be there. Pilot, what's the sit rep in these mountains?" Daniel said, turning to the front and using his comms in order get across- Captain Charles Noble and Flight Lieutenant William Drew respectively the pilot and co-pilot of this Merlin, and whom Daniel saw it the best to find answers.
"The Yanks dealt out a lot back in Arrowhead here, but it's still shit. AA should be mostly cleared, so that's why you lot didn't get a truck coming in here, and...wait, fuck, tracers!" The pilot yelled, with the audible noise of 23mm shells flying past the Merlin, and a few impacting- the armored helicopter taking some, yet several big hits coming in. Daniel yelled in response, looking to his men as he knew the only response he could:
"Everyone, fucking brace! Keep your heads down and get your kit ready!" Being something that he had to give out, he checked his own L85A2, loading a mag and keeping it pointing downwards, as he looked at the terrified faces around here. Nobody even made a smart-ass comment, not even Corporal Wright, as the entire Merlin was almost silenced, after everyone had yelled their initial panic out. This was something that training had helped- and the near silence was weird, as what felt like giant fingers poking them out of the sky impacted all over the Merlin.
"Shit, I'm putting her down! This is Merlin, Flight 1241, mayday, mayday- we are going down, repeat, going down, on account of ZSU fire from Garmsar. How copy?" Captain Noble spoke through the radio, the rest of the team checking their own weaponry- loading what they could from the Merlin's weapons store, of their own kit and some that they already had kept on them. It was a tense situation, and panicking or shitting their pants wasn't the way to solve this.
"Scorpion copies, we are negative to send CAS and CSAR currently, we request Sergeant Burns is able to find the AAA battery and call in mortar and artillery as needed, from Firebase Inverness, before confirming all-clear for air extraction." Fisher spoke, on the other end as he heard clearly the call, on comms himself to the pilot at the moment and Burns's team.
"Understood. I'm putting her down here, the tail's had it and one of the engines is completely dead." Noble said, Burns staying as he was in his seat, as he looked to the rest.
"Everyone, as soon as we hit the dirt, everyone gets out and takes a 20m spread. Blue, you head left towards the hills overlooking the place and give us a vantage from there, giving covering fire on any footmobiles in town, whilst Black, you stay with me and sweep onto the right, trying to isolate the AAA fire down the valley itself. That 23mm fire is coming from Garmsar, and we're not in the clear yet due to that ZSU- so find concealment from any shrubs, and keep your heads down- we do not want to take any more fire than we need. Noble, put me onto Fisher, if you could." Daniel said, the rest simply nodding their heads, as the helicopter span slowly, then quickly as they came in. The crash was more than heavy- the pilot had been too heavy handed and the entire helicopter almost subsided into the ground, with the entire helicopter tipping to a 45 degree angle as they slammed into the hilltop. It had been rough, but everyone was reasonably intact.
"On it, Sergeant. Lieutenant Drew's broke his leg, but I think I'm fine. Yours?" Noble said, Daniel looking at all of his men, who were already getting out, and all seemed to be fine. Lt Drew moaned a little, and the fire had temporarily stopped- the entire helicopter coated in shots, and hit pretty bad. It was a miracle it hadn't hit the avionics or the other engine, otherwise they would have hit the ground much harder.
"We're good. Get yourselves out via our door, stay behind the helicopter and don't move from cover. Scorpion, this is Kestrel Section, we are fighting fit, no casualties from the crash. What would the ETA be on extraction if we can receive it, over?" Daniel said, getting out himself, as he hit the sand, his boots firm on his feet and his weapon, the L85, firmly in his hands. The men had moved out and as if without instruction, Team Blue, comprising of the Cougar and Jackal units, had swept off, already moving as the bulk of Kestrel's units. Meanwhile, Black and Daniel had left the site, already moving away from it and towards some concealment in the form of an area of shrubs, where the entire team hit the deck again, on account of AAA slamming into the crashed Merlin. It seemed that the gunner hadn't been quick to readjust his aim to find the two teams that had split off from the crashed helicopter- with Blue heading towards a small ridgeline they had found looking towards Garmsar, about 500m away from where Daniel was now, able to see down the whole valley almost all the way to Imarat.
"You are 10 mikes out, Kestrel. We have Hawk on station for CSAR, with Swordfish joining as your CAS to help secure Garmsar once you have any AAA cleared out- we anticipate that you ruffled the ants' nest, so expect further activity in your valley. Keep calm, Sergeant- we're all ears to get you and your boys out of there, so find that AAA, and take it out, over."
"Roger that, Scorpion- we will designate for munitions fire. Corporal Wright, sit rep on Blue?"
"We are in position, we can apply fire. We have approximately 20 footmobiles with a BTR-40, Takistani Republican Militia confirmed here, over. Their guns and vehicles look fucking ancient." Corporal Wright replied, moving himself into a firing position- hitting the deck as he quickly scanned for their movement and what they were up to.
"Unload it on them, Blue. Use AT on that BTR- it's tougher than you would imagine, that gun will cut you to shreds. This isn't the Taliban here, gents- these guys still have limited armor and motorized resources, so don't underestimate this lot. Everyone, you are weapons free, engage at will." Daniel commanded, Black sticking close as they moved further, a sudden spray of fire over their heads sending everyone to the dirt again.
"Shit, I see that gun. Blue, we have found the gun, repeat, found the weapon. It's a ZU23, they've nearly got a bead on us...location reference, junction near two houses, west of Garmsar. I'm going to get it designated, everyone, keep up the fire!" Daniel added, gunfire spraying all around him and his team, as Black replied- three militants at the bottom of their hill getting whacked quite quickly, as Black swept them up with neatly placed fire from their rifles and LMGs, with the sudden surge of a rocket blaring from Blue's position- Private Anthony Frost finding his mark on the BTR, as he sent a locked Javelin round on it, destroying it fast and remorselessly, as the rocket came down after what felt like an eternity. Black and Blue kept up their fire, picking off various militants- the firefight intensifying while Daniel had pulled his laser designator out from his rucksack, finding his mark. He could see the two operators of the ZU23 adjusting their aim, trying to find Blue's position after sending what Daniel thought was now random fire on Black- and quickly engaged the designator's laser, aware that this was the first step.
"Scorpion, I need transmission for Inverness Firebase, we have the target identified and designated via IR for additional accuracy. Our position is X-Ray 5420 (as in, since they're west of Garmsar, on their position), Yankee 3025, we need fire on a bearing 280 degrees on range 390 mikes from X-Ray/Yankee. Firing 2 laser-guided airburst high explosive rounds, tight spread on target arrival. Fire smoke first, then following my confirm, fire for effect. How copy?"
"Scorpion copies, transmission sent. You're on a direct channel now, they'll await confirmation." Fisher replied, before an incredibly stuttery and blurred voicing came onto the channel.
"This is Inverness Firebase, smoke has been confirmed on arrival. 20 seconds to ETA, IR target locked and tracked." The voice spoke, a Scots accent clear, as Daniel watched fire pour down the valley, with shots coming up occasionally as the fire fight raged on.
"It's down, Inverness Firebase- red smoke visible. Confirming Fire For Effect, same guidelines, correction of -1m on X. Over." Burns added, continuing to designate it, as the rest of the section layed down fire- smoke pouring from the BTR, as two M2 armed techincals were also quickly swept away, their gunners and drivers killed. Daniel himself wanted to fire, but kept the target lazed, aware it would soon be dust.
"20 seconds, Kestrel." The voice said, as the ZU23 poured out fire, even more innaccurately due to the poor gunner. It seemed that when they had gotten shot down, the gunner had been on a lucky streak, without pressure and now, being shot at and watching the rest of his militia unit be cut apart, he was slowly one of the people that broke when it came to the crunch. That was suddenly ended for the gunner, as the noise of two airburst shells coming down, a tight spread, in his position made a mess of his area. The two gunners were killed, along with two infantry that had been standing by a small sandbagged bunker, nailing the gun quick and proper. The two 120mm artillery rounds had surely made a dent, and definitely taken the gun, and the surrounding militants out quickly. The town was getting swiped- the eastern part had been completely nailed, with this being the location of the military base among other buildings- whilst the western part of the town, nearer to the gun, were still active with a few militants.
"Good effect on target, Inverness Firebase. Right, Blue, keep your position, and keep us posted. The only way we'll get extracted is in that old military base within Garmsar- that's the only flat ground I can safely get a helicopter on, so we're in for a fight. Black, advance up onto the military base, and prepare for some MOUT in the buildings to the east- clear each building, in your twos, and regroup on me once you're finished. Actually, Blue, get your arses further along that ridge, and scan for potential ridgetop attackers- and techincals, mortar teams, etc.. Scorpion, this is Kestrel- we are moving into Garmsar, and we are in desperate need of extraction. We have no AA in this area, and we need about two choppers for our lads, there's 16 of us. We need Swordfish, or anything you got that flies and can lay down fire to help us hold any reinforcements- we cannot secure any other LZ, so we need it at the former Takistani Military base in Garmsar, over."
"Scorpion copies, but intel suggests a large presence in Garmsar- expect heavy resistance, Kestrel. Hold your own- we'll get you out of there in a jiffy. I can send Hawk as your CSAR, and Swordfish as your CAS- joining to channel now. Hawk, I need two of your UH-60 helicopters mobilized on the double, to Garmsar, in order to extract Kestrel Section as a CSAR-able unit. Airspace is now cleared thanks to Kestrel eliminating a recently installed AAA gun in the town, and due to recent UAV scan displaying none of the kind in that area surrounding, we can presume that the area is cleared of any other potential guns. Swordfish, you are to deploy to the town of Garmarud and cut off any militia vehicle and infantry movements to the town of Garmsar, where Kestrel Section is awaiting CSAR. Provide as needed CAS to Sergeant Burns's unit, until they are extracted- understood?" Fisher said, over his comms, Burns already getting himself into combat as he found two runners on an adjacent hill, and sent five single-fire shots their way, aware that now, that was his first five of a long tour in Takistan- and his first two kills. He wasn't happy, nor depressed he had killed them- and as he had heard a great communication, he knew that this was it. The start. All units of Kestrel were on the move, and as were large groupings of Republican Militia towards Garmsar, comprising of about 30 footmobiles, two UAZs with DSHkMs, and a BTR-60 APC. No matter how Burns wanted to imagine this, things were a little shitty now. Himself, he kept Black on him, at a 10m regulated pacing, everyone aware of the ROE, as they came down towards Garmsar, and almost to the military base inside- everyone keeping eyes open on every angle, and the front that they were on.