Shadows moved beside the road as they advanced closer to a lone Humvee. The silent, armed men in balaclavas pulled out their makeshift submachine guns and peppered the windshields and windows with suppressed automatic fire. Another drove up with their own SUV, transferring new sections of bullet-resistant glass to replace the damage done. Throwing out the bodies, one of them took out the vehicle’s key from the former driver’s pocket and started up the engine. It didn’t take long to destroy their old car with the Humvee’s .50 cal gun.
Driving away from the scene of their crime, it took only twelve minutes to find their hideaway. They parked in the secluded dead-end and took off their balaclavas.
“Feels fucking good to take that mask off.” Segen Bashar ‘Sheep’ called as he stepped out of the driver’s seat. His voice commanded attention and his posture automatically made anyone assume that he was an enemy to be approached with caution. Such a traits had earned him a position commanding a deadly Ghost squad. Sheep threw his weapon into the brush and grabbed a new AK-103 from the trunk while picking up spare magazines.
“Da, finally fresh air at last!” agreed the heavy soldier named Boris ‘Splash’ Nykorev. The Russian was built around his bulk, although all of it was muscle from special forces experience and vigorous exercise. He too disposed his crude automatic and picked up the RPK-12 in the corner and RPG-30 in a crate.
“Don’t get too excited,” warned the slippery sniper, Sebastian ‘Seb’ Harris. “We now have to wear one of those uncomfortable-as-shit hard helmets them Phantoms like to put on their heads. Not that it helps them survive.” He gestured to the hour-old corpse half-concealed by a bush, its helmet penetrated by a powerful 12.7 round. Seb acquired a Dragunov SVDM while proceeding to mount a PSO-1 scope on it.
“One after another, isn’t it?” commented the fourth hijacker, by the name of Bill Walker. Known as ‘Brit’ by his comrades while off-duty, he was ex-SAS and served in the same unit as Seb. While he made it unclear where he was deployed and what unit he served, his usefulness in a firefight and interesting ability to sneak anywhere (including teammates’ tents) kept questions from being asked. Walker received a Saiga-12, handed to him by Sheep.
While Boris was in the Humvee tapping into Phantom radio chatter, Sheep lit a cigarette and listened in. Seb jotted down locations, coordinates, and numbers as Bill watched for suspicious activity outside.
“Alright!” Sheep yelled. “We have the information on the convoy. If fucking nine spooks couldn’t find out, a bit of field work did it!
“So, the Phantoms are transporting a very secure cargo container in the region. They seem to be assigning more security than normal, two Abrams tanks for that one Ural of cargo! Anyways, Command wants to know what they’re carrying and if it would be useful to us. Destroying the convoy’s defense is already a critical blow; they’ve deployed two out of their three remaining armored units in the region to keep this one safe. Any questions?”
“How many vehicles are we dealing with, sir?” Bill asked.
“We’ll only be taking on just three if we attack precisely,” Sheep replied. “The Phantoms are rushing the package to their FOB, so when the convoy needs to resupply, they’ll refuel those first to make progress faster. The information suggests an Abrams and a Humvee, but don’t forget the target Ural.
“Any further questions?” Sheep asked his men. There were none. “We’re wasting time, let’s go!”
Bill got in the Humvee, which prompted Sheep to push the Humvee to its very limits, accelerating at 70 miles per hour and making a near-75 degree left turn. From there, they met a Phantom checkpoint and Sheep lowered the window to speak with the roadblock’s sole guardsman.
“Erm, lad,” Bill had lowered his window before Sheep. “Look over there.”
The gullible Phantom turned around and Bill took out his GSh-18 and shot him through the helmet. The soldier tumbled on the ground, his protective headgear unable to block a measly 9x19 round. Sheep stepped out and quickly raised the barrier and closed it once Boris had accelerated the vehicle past the checkpoint.
“That was easy.” Bill said once they were on the road. He replaced the bullet expended with another into his pistol’s magazine.
“Don’t get too cocky,” replied Seb. “Look over there!”
“Over there” was a large Phantom encampment on the road. Crates of military equipment were visible in clusters by some of the tents. Riflemen on watch duty socialized with each other, anti-vehicle weapons at arm’s reach. While it was not quite as impressive as their FOB, this was likely a large outpost positioned here to stall any Ghost advances. Seb jotted down the coordinates to mark the area for an airstrike afterwards.
As the Ghosts in disguise stopped their Humvee in front of a makeshift barricade, a Phantom approached them. He yelled, “What do you see on a Sunday on Fleet Street?”
Sheep provided him with the password, “Three pink elephants.” The Phantom waved them through, his men lowering their AT-4 rocket launchers.
“Corporal Jack Maslow, by the way. Welcome to Base Camp.” the Phantom said. He walked back to his position beside a sandbag.
Once they drove out of the barricade’s immediate vicinity, Sheep commented, “What a dumbfuck. Gives me the password from the fucking paper in his pocket, gives me his name so I can steal his identity. Thanks!”
They parked their vehicle expertly next to a commanding officer’s Jeep. The officer had just walked out of a command tent and found it hard to open the driver’s door. He had to jump into the passenger’s seat and scoot over to the wheel. Seeing that there would be no witnesses, Boris didn’t let this opportunity slip by and knocked the Phantom out with his powerful fists. He proceeded to pocket the keys of the officer’s other vehicle, an APC, and steal his beret, all without being seen and clean of any accusations.
Lax security and careless documentation of new soldiers allowed the Ghosts to be assigned accommodations easily. They walked through the camp without any other major conflicts. Though their Eastern weapons drew some attention, the Phantom uniforms allayed any serious suspicion. Using the perks of “being” a Phantom in a Phantom territory, they helped themselves to some of the crates. Several other Phantoms looked at them with disdain as they grabbed all the breadsticks from the mess hall, which was intended to lower personnel morale. Breadsticks were rare in the front lines, but it was no crime to take them.
However, the Ghosts’ real target was the convoy that was staying at the camp that night. Posing as a vehicle mechanic, Seb slipped explosives in most of the Humvees’ engine blocks. Bill somehow got into one of the Abrams tanks unnoticed and disabled its weapons systems. Sheep took one last drag on his cigarette as he lit it on fire and threw it into the supply truck’s ammunition compartment. Boris closed the compartment and the popping sound of burning ammunition was deafened by the thick lid.
“Good work tonight, men,” Sheep called before he entered his tent. “Don’t sleep too late, we have to wake up early tomorrow.”
The Ghosts parked with the convoy, with the Ural in their sights. They noticed that only when the camp’s commandant inspected the vehicle himself was the container loaded in. Bill made sure that the Abrams with the malfunctioning weaponry would be assigned to go in front with the target vehicle, forging paperwork and handing out “friendly drinks” to some officers, citing that his “brother” on the Abrams wanted to do “something important”. After the Ural and its sabotaged protection vehicles left, the Ghosts followed, supposedly on a routine patrol.
“Look! Over there!” Seb exclaimed as he sighted the vehicles.
“After I’ve said that phrase, Seb seems to be copying me.” Bill noted with mock contempt.
“It’s a good phrase!” replied Seb, attempting to defend himself.
“Take a left here, Boris,” Sheep directed. “This road goes parallel to their route and intersects it a bit later. We can then plan our ambush, their Abrams seems to be slowing the convoy down a bit.”
“Da, we can go Top Gear like British TV show,” Boris laughed heartily. “BUT WAIT! Humvee has automatic gearbox!” He chuckled at his own joke.
“Very funny.” stated Bill dryly.
“I see headlights!” reported Bill from the Humvee’s gunner position. He readied his .50 cal. Boris was already in a position behind the cover of a tree, RPG-30 readied. While he hoped not to use it, the rocket launcher was an insurance if they needed it.
Sheep ripped off his headphones from listening to radio chatter. He confirmed, “They're coming!” Seb took up a position covered by a rock near the road and took out his detonator.
The lead Humvee was about fifty meters down the road from Seb as he clicked the detonator. A brilliant explosion consumed the vehicle, thrusting it into the air and in front of the Abrams, whose path was blocked by the wreckage. Bill began opening fire on the Ural, knowing that the battle tank’s thick armor was more or less impenetrable from small arms. The tank’s turret swerved to target Bill’s Humvee, but it was unable to fire. Instead, a thermite charge, planted by Bill, was “loaded” instead of a normal shell. After being signalled by electric circuit to “fire” (or ignite propellant if it were a normal round), the thermite ignited at over 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and at that temperature, the other pieces ammunition in the autoloader could not resist nothing but to do detonation. The Abrams exploded from inside out, the crew being instantly cooked alive with no chance of any survival.
“And now that’s what I call a fucking charcoal briquette!” Bill hooted.
Sheep was already at the Ural. It had crashed on the right side of the road into a rock, its driver was attempting to avoid Bill’s fire. Opening the driver’s door, he saw a familiar face that was surprised to see him.
“Hi, Jack!” he greeted the shocked Phantom. Shortly afterwards, a 7.62 round in the head finished him off. The passenger riding shotgun in the front compartment, however, was still alive. With anger and a (false) sense of duty, he lifted his Remington 870 and quickly unloaded its tube magazine at the open door. While the Ural’s door was decimated, Sheep threw himself to the ground to dodge the shotgun’s deadly spread as the surviving occupant attempted to suppress him. There was really no chance of missing. Sheep aimed his shot through the late Jack’s leg, the AK-103’s 7.62 round penetrating flesh and burrowing into the shotgunner’s head.
Boris climbed into the back of the Ural and slid a large black container out to the road.
“Mmmm… Yellowcake!” Boris joked about what was in the box. However light-hearted his humor had been, Boris knew better than to eat the container’s contents without legitimate reason even if the material was as harmless as regular potassium-carrying minerals.
“We might need some help extracting this,” advised Bill, snapping a picture of the open container. “Hey, I see headlights over there!”
A Phantom supply APC pulled over, allowing Bill to open the passenger’s door and fill the passenger and driver with 12-gauge buckshot from his Saiga. Boris threw out the fresh breadstick boxes it had been carrying at the back and loaded the yellowcake’s container. Sheep got in the driver seat and roared off as soon as all his men were on-board.