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Thread: The Stingray Island Job

  1. #1
    uNz[i]'s Avatar Out of order
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    Mar 2003

    The Stingray Island Job


    The mission started at midnight. We made the jump over the drop zone right on schedule. As soon as we pulled our ripcords, the storm hit us out of nowhere.
    “What the hell?” was all I could say as I fought to control my parachute. I took a look at my wrist altimeter and my jaw dropped in amazement.
    “Ascending?” Crazy but true. I scanned the skies for my squad.
    “There’s Parker and Sturgis, over there is Molloy. No sign of Draven though. Damn.”
    We were all roughly 100m from each other and all had been caught in the updraught. The buffeting had subsided, but we were still rising. I checked my compass.
    “Oh great. We’re already 20 degrees off course and going upward. Looks like this is gonna be a long mission.”

    The updraught topped out at about 2,500m and we finally began to descend – straight into a fogbank. Suddenly visibility was reduced to less than a meter. Everything was greyness and damp. The only sound came from the air whistling through the parachute lines. After what seemed like an eternity, we dropped below the fog and once again all was clear… and the jungle came straight up at us as soon as we saw it.
    “Oh for…” My exclamation was cut short as I fell into the thick, green canopy and went crashing through the leaves and branches, landing with a thud on the leaf littered ground.

  2. Lounge   -   #2
    uNz[i]'s Avatar Out of order
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    Mar 2003

    I stood and hit the quick release on the ‘chute’s harness. As I did so, I was rapidly acquainted with several brand new aches and scrapes. I tottered about on the uneven ground and eventually found my footing amongst the leaves and tree roots. I once again took out my compass. It had been smashed during my passage through the jungle canopy.

    A twig snapped nearby, and I looked up as my hand instinctively went to my holster. It was Molloy. I breathed a sigh of relief.
    “Sarge” he said as he approached.
    “That was a fun ride, eh Molloy?”
    “Ha! That was the first jump I ever made that took me higher than the plane, that’s for sure” he grimaced.
    “Alright, looks like the first order of business is to see if we can find the others and get this mission back on track,” I said.
    “I caught a glimpse of one of them as we cleared the fog, Sarge… over that way, I think” Molloy pointed.

    We headed off in the direction that Molloy had indicated, and before long we came to a bush trail with footprints clearly outlined in the soft soil.
    “Barefoot” I observed “Looks like we have natives here”
    “Hey!” a voice floated down from a tall fig tree. “When you’ve finished admiring the local infrastructure, maybe you’d like to give me a little help here?” We looked up at the voice and saw Sturgis hanging from a high branch, his parachute hopelessly tangled in the tree. Molloy easily scaled the huge fig, and in a flash had cut Sturgis loose. They climbed down to me and we took stock.
    “Okay. We have two missing, a busted compass and the radio is also missing, as it’s with Parker, so finding him takes priority. Did either of you happen to catch sight of him as we cleared the fog?” I asked. They both shook their heads and Sturgis said:
    “I didn’t see him Sarge, sorry. I do have a spare compass in my pack though” He fetched it out and handed it to me.
    “Excellent, thanks.” I replied, taking it. “Things are starting to look a bit better now” I smiled. “Alright, you two lay low away from this trail and keep your eyes peeled for any movement. I’m going to climb the fig tree and see if I can spot any landmarks and get us a heading out of this jungle paradise.” I started up.
    “Right you are Sarge” they said, fading into the undergrowth.

    The fig was a breeze to climb and I was soon sitting on the topmost bough. I unclipped my binoculars and scanned about for familiar features to match my map. Almost immediately, I saw Mount Nada, and slightly to the right of that, the Great Plateau. We had been fairly lucky, because just south of our current position lay Crescent Lake. At least water and travel would pose no great problem. We could refill our canteens and use the minor branch of Snake River to get us most of the way to the rendezvous point: The Grasslands via the Great Cut. I headed down and called Sturgis and Molloy back. After checking the compass we made a start.

  3. Lounge   -   #3
    uNz[i]'s Avatar Out of order
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    Mar 2003

    After an hour walking, we easily found Crescent Lake and made good time downstream in our collapsible kayaks. However, things livened up the next evening. We had gotten to a point where we were just short of the Great Cut. We were paddling along with great ease by moonlight, when we spotted lights through the trees on the left side of the river. I decided a discreet investigation was in order.

    We hid our kayaks in some reeds and quietly headed in the direction of the lights. They turned out to be the village of the Pygmi-Zu, a large tribe of hostile natives, renown for their ferociously guarded privacy and reclusive ways. The tribe seemed to be conducting some kind of ritual, and there was a large bonfire in the open area in the middle of the clustered huts and lean-tos. I checked out the situation with my binoculars. To my surprise, I could see Parker! He had been tied to a post on the opposite side of the village centre, but seemed to be otherwise okay. The natives were preoccupied with singing, dancing around the bonfire and quaffing huge amounts of the local firewater. It seemed that a rescue bid was in order.

    We skirted around the village, and I left Sturgis and Molloy in some bushes as a back up if anything went wrong. Slowly, I crept toward the tied man.
    “Glad to see you, Parker” I whispered as I cut him loose from the pole.
    “Sarge, the feeling is very mutual” he whispered back while rubbing his chafed wrists. We quickly took cover in the shadow of a nearby hut.
    “Did you see what they did with the radio?” I asked, hopefully.
    “Yes Sarge, it’s in that hut.” He pointed to a nearby dwelling.
    “Good. I’m going to try and get it back. You head to those bushes; you’ll find Sturgis and Molloy there. Lay low, and if anything goes wrong, don’t let yourselves be caught” I said. Parker nodded and made for the bushes. I hung in the shadows and waited for my chance to sneak into the hut.

    The party certainly seemed to be warming up. Sporadic fights were starting to break out as the potent homebrew took its toll on the Pygmy-Zu. The chief managed to calm things down with a few well-placed blows from his feathered staff of office. Now was the time to move.

    I ran at a crouch into the hut containing our radio, and then looked around the doorframe for any signs that I’d been spotted. It seemed that I had made it. Seeing the radio leaning against the back wall, I picked it up and gave it a quick inspection. It seemed to be okay. I returned to the doorway and peered out again. To my horror, I saw the chief himself coming straight toward me! I ducked back into the gloom of the hut and looked for somewhere to hide. I belatedly discovered that the hut was empty, save for some old clay pots in one corner and a hammock strung between the walls. Now I could hear the footfalls of the big native as he approached. I backed up against the wall by the door and took out my gun. As he entered the hut, I brought the butt of my pistol down across the back of his head. He grunted and dropped to the floor, out cold. I breathed a sigh of relief and looked around the doorframe again. Back at the bonfire, another fight had erupted in the chief’s absence, and the entire tribe’s attention was focussed on the protagonists. It was time to go. I made a bolt for the bushes and rejoined my comrades there. I quickly told them what had happened with the chief. When I was done, we all agreed that it was time to depart.

    We headed back to the river at a jog. As we went, there came a shout from the village, then a commotion behind us.
    “Sounds like the chief has woken from his nap” I groaned, as we picked up the pace.
    “Yeah Sarge, but it’s a pity he wakes up cranky!” countered Parker. We sprinted to the reeds where the kayaks were hidden and pushed them out into the current. As we paddled away we could see the natives emerging from the jungle. They did not look happy at all. We rowed like crazy. Spears were now flying around us as we made our escape, and arrows hummed as they flew past. I started to worry that one would pierce either one of us or the kayaks.
    “Put your backs into it!” I shouted as I felt the wind from another arrow pass my cheek. The sounds of angry tribesmen gradually faded as we drew away, and we soon lost the natives as we rounded a bend in the river.

    After a few kilometres of paddling, we made for the river bank and set up a cold camp in a small clearing, out of sight from the river. To pass the time before we turned in, Parker recounted the tale of his capture. He’d virtually landed right in the native’s village and had been taken captive as soon as he hit the ground. The Pygmy-Zu had tied him to the post where I had found him and taken the radio to the chief. After a lot of button pushing, he’d decided that he was bored with the thing, put it in the hut and declared a celebration to mark the capture of the interloper, Parker.

  4. Lounge   -   #4
    uNz[i]'s Avatar Out of order
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    Mar 2003

    The rest of the journey to the Camel-hump Ranges passed mostly without incident.
    We had one more close call when we nearly lost Sturgis to the sucking quicksand in the reeking marshlands of the Lower Stench, but Molloy’s quick response and a length of rope soon pulled him free. We dusted the shaken Sturgis off and continued on our way at a more cautious pace. As we walked, I repeatedly tried the radio, but the only answer I got to my hails was bursts of static. All we could do was continue on our planned route and hope there was someone there to meet us when we arrived at our objective.

    We reached the rendezvous point after a day's comparatively easy travel across the southern grasslands, where to everyone’s relief we finally met up with the affable Harris, our contact and guide for the rest of the mission.

    Harris had heard me calling on the radio, but his transmitter had been damaged in an encounter with a wild boar, preventing any response. We weren’t the only ones having a bad time on Stingray Island, by the looks of things. On the positive side, he’d guessed that the storm had caused our delay, and had taken the opportunity to scout out the best way to our final destination. He was now able to divulge our objective to us: a secret military complex hidden in the centre of the Camel-hump Ranges, which served as part of a covert intelligence gathering network for the regional government. As we wanted to get off the island as soon as possible, it was agreed that we would set out at once.

  5. Lounge   -   #5
    uNz[i]'s Avatar Out of order
    Join Date
    Mar 2003

    It took a day and a night to get there; it was tough going through the rocky terrain to where the base was hidden in a valley between the rounded peaks of the Camel-hump Ranges. It soon became all too clear why the area was known by such an odd name. It suited it perfectly.

    As we arrived at the entrance to the base, we were challenged by the sentry at the gatehouse.
    “Halt!” he barked, “Show your passes or leave the area immediately!” We handed over our Identity cards, which he scrutinized closely and then returned.
    “Alright, all in order, proceed!” he opened the barrier and we walked through and headed for the biggest building in the compound. We climbed a set of stairs that zigzagged up the wall until we reached a steel door with a small button set into the frame. I pushed it, and a buzzer
    could be heard inside. After a short wait, the door was opened by a young captain. I saluted,
    “Engineering squad B, reporting for duty, Sir! I believe you have a piano that needs moving Sir!” I barked.
    The officer frowned.
    “You’re late” he said, as he stepped back to let us in.

    The End


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