Every pore of their bodies gushed out copious volumes of perspiration. It was a humid, sticky evening. The small band of guerillas was finishing up a stalking exercise. All day, Jake had been instructing his fellow freedom fighters in stalking techniques and the basic principles of Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, commonly known as S.E.R.E. Their hands and faces were smeared with mud, ashes and olive green face paint, much of which had become runny with the humidity. They moved stealthily through the thick evergreen forest in a skirmish line.
“This is so ridiculous,” Sarah Jane said unenthusiastically.
“Quiet!” Jake snapped. “If this was real you’d have gotten us all killed by now.”
Sarah Jane rolled her eyes. What she wouldn’t do to get as far away from here as she could…
“Get down!” Jake ordered.
Kevin, Calvin, Neil, Sarah Jane and Mallory swiftly hit the dirt.
“Alright, everybody get back up.”
One by one, the insurgents got back to their feet. They had brought a couple of rifles as well as two wooden recurve bows out into the bush with them for target practice.
“Calvin, I’ll get you and Neil to go back to the truck and get that archery stand,” Jake said.
All of a sudden, the partisans were alerted by the sound of a vehicle rumbling down the shaky old logging road barely thirty feet away. The group had hidden the Ford Explorer well enough that it would not be easily visible from the road or the air. A dark green United Nations truck stopped in the middle of the gravelly road. Jake felt his heart racing.
“Remember how I taught you how to conceal yourselves,” Jake stated with urgency.
The rebels blended themselves into the thick undergrowth as best as they could. Two young British soldiers got out of the truck. The driver, a lance-corporal, lit up a cigarette as his mate, on the verge of shitting his pants, hightailed it for the woods. Controlling their breathing, the insurgents remained perfectly still as the somewhat chunky logistics soldier made a beeline in their direction.
He dropped his drawers and plunked himself down on a log. An enormous sigh of relief came over the man’s face as he released the demons. Jake steadied his nerves. He reached for the intimidating-looking combat knife hanging from the sheath on his belt. The others looked on in dreadful anticipation as their leader snuck up behind the squatting enemy soldier. The war veteran placed one hand around the Brit’s mouth then slit his throat with the other. An ocean of warm dark blood oozed from the gaping cut. Mallory, Sarah Jane, Calvin and Neil were mesmerized by the gruesome sight.
“Ho…ly shit!” Neil could barely get the words out as he watched the young soldier, who wasn’t much older than he and Calvin, topple over onto the ground.
The driver stamped the butt of his cigarette out on the ground.
“Martin, what in the name of God you doing in there, mate? I’m telling ya, you have to lay off that greasy shit.” He waited another minute. “Martin, you okay mate?”
Concerned, the driver reached into the front seat of the truck and retrieved an L22A2 rifle. He entered the forest. Kevin took short, controlled breaths as he pulled back the bowstring of the recurve bow he’d owned for years. The lance-corporal raised his rifle at hearing a rustling-of-bushes sound. He caught a fleeting glimpse of the well-camouflage guerrillas. Before the lance-corporal could react, Kevin unleashed the bowstring. The wooden arrow sailed through the air, stabbing directly into the man’s solar plexus. The driver collapsed to his knees, the life quickly fading from his eyes, before falling over.
“Quick, let’s see what’s in the back of that truck,” Jake said enthusiastically as he picked up the fallen soldier’s L22A2.
Jake and Kevin lifted up the flap of the truck while Calvin and Neil searched the cab. Inside the back was a treasure trove of weaponry; a L108A1 light machinegun, four LAW antitank weapons, a crate of grenades, a box with two night-vision scopes inside as well as four large cartridge boxes of 7.62 rounds for the machinegun. There were also several cardboard boxes of meals-ready-to-eat.
“Christmas came early this year,” Jake said.
“I hope we can squeeze all of these goodies into the back of the Ford,” Kevin replied.
Calvin and Neil found another L22A2 assault rifle in the cab of the truck.
“Hey Jake,” Calvin said. “How do you plan on disposing of this truck?”
Jake hadn’t fully thought that through.
“There’s a ton of muskeg up near Barrett’s Lake,” Jake said as he turned to Kevin. “They’ll never find it in there.”
“That’s the only logical thing I can think of,” Kevin replied. “It will sink in to that muskeg really good. We just have to disable all of the GPS and tracking equipment beforehand.”
Three hours had passed since the British Army’s contingent in Kamloops had dispatched a truck carrying a load of guns and ammunition to the satellite post in Merritt, close to ninety kilometers away. It had not yet reached its destination and Alistair Mullen was itching to know why. Mullen stood in the communications centre at the Kamloops Airport. Two British Army operators worked alongside their NAP counterparts. Mullen had just spoken with the lieutenant who was in charge of the Merritt outpost. There had been no communication with the driver whatsoever. A Eurocopter EC 135 had been sent out to search the vast mountainous region for the missing supply truck.
One of the operators, a young female private, turned around.
“Sir,” she said to Mullen. “It would appear that the truck’s global positioning system has been turned off or deliberately tampered with.”
‘What the heck is going in?’ Mullen thought to himself. The prospect of that much weaponry falling into the hands of insurgents troubled the veteran army officer. And what of the two soldiers inside? There was ample space out there to not only hide bodies, but an entire vehicle as well.
“Any word from the pilot?” Mullen asked.
“Afraid not Sir,” the female operator replied. “No sign of anything yet.”
“I cannot believe that a truck has just disappeared without a trace.” Mullen was flabbergasted. “All we can do is keep searching for it.” Deep down, Mullen suspected that something much more sinister than met the eye was taking place.”