Calvin and Neil had been working since the middle of the night digging a large, rectangular-sized hole next to the warm asphalt of the Trans-Canada Highway. It was two-and-a half-feet deep. After that was finished, the duo ever-so-gently placed a propane cylinder with a large pipe bomb attached to it inside. An antenna was fastened to the timer on the pipe bomb. Calvin and Neil covered the entire improvised explosive device with sandy soil until only the top of the antenna was sticking above the ground.
Calvin and Neil crouched out of sight atop a hill that offered an expansive view of the highway and the arid hills and mountains that lay beyond. Reconnaissance missions proved that this particular stretch of highway was frequented by NAP and UN patrols. Calvin grasped an L22A2 which had been taken from one of the slain British logistics soldiers. Over the past few weeks, the budding actor and model had found himself becoming considerably less cocky and arrogant than was his normal self. Calvin only hoped that this terrible conflict wouldn’t make him too callous.
The two close friends sat in tense silence. Both Jake and Kevin had instructed their younger protégés about the importance of not talking, eating, smoking, etc. in an ambush zone and the grave consequences for doing so. Out of the blue, a lone Humvee appeared. It was camouflaged and had the UN logo on its side. Two British paras sat in front. A third was positioned in the turret manning a massive machinegun.
Calvin held Sarah’s phone in front of him. He dialled a number as the Humvee came within a few meters of where the IED was planted. Seconds later, the ground erupted with a sharp explosion that tore mercilessly into the side of the Humvee. Amidst the confusion, the driver lost control of his vehicle. The Humvee struck a guardrail, flipped over and descended down a steep hill to the gulley below.
“Let’s make tracks,” Calvin said.
The two young, very athletic fighters retreated into the dense spruce forest that blanketed the mountains. Once they’d been running for quarter of a kilometre or so, they heard the familiar sound of a searching helicopter. Hearts racing, Calvin and Neil stopped briefly, jogging lightly on the spot as they took deep, controlled breaths. About a minute later, they continued running.
Calvin had heard stories from his uncle about the NATO missions he’d served on in Afghanistan. Much of the country was mountainous desert and many of the operations carried out against Taliban forces were in open areas. Being in British Columbia, this particular group of freedom fighters had the advantage of mountains and massive forests. After they’d been running for another twenty minutes or so, Calvin and Neil had to stop again. They were almost completely out of breath and sweated profusely. The all-terrain vehicles they’d driven in were not too far away, but reaching them without getting killed would be a challenge.
“I guess we planned this as best we could,” Neil said.
“We did,” Calvin replied. “Now let’s get out those foil blankets.”
“You think those will actually work?”
“According to Jake, they block a person’s body heat from being detected by infrared sensors.”
Calvin and Neil unpacked two foil blankets that were inside of a small bag Calvin carried. The two rebels concealed themselves in the thick underbrush and covered their bodies with the blankets. As evening set in and the ever-present sound of probing helicopters dissipated, the duo dared to venture out into the wilderness. Calvin and Neil moved through a swampy area of thick black spruce where buzzing insects harassed them at every turn. They even had a brief encounter with a bull moose. Luckily the moose had no interest in tussling with two heavily-armed guerrillas and went in the other direction. It was approaching dark by the time Calvin and Neil got back to the ATVs. Slowly, they drove through the narrow backcountry trails praying that the worst was behind them.
Major Toombs stood on the tarmac of the Kamloops Airport. His short-sleeved buttoned shirt offered slight relief from the sweltering night. Toombs stood alongside Colonel Mullen, Lieutenant Brown and Captain Wynne. The four officers looked on as the lights of a North American Police Bell helicopter flew in over the mountains and landed on the tarmac. Mullen, Brown and Wynne were beside themselves in shock at the deaths of the three paras who’d been killed by the roadside bomb.
Seven NAP troopers and a lieutenant named Harvey departed the helicopter.
“Sir,” Harvey said to Toombs. “We cannot find any trace of enemy combatants in the area at all.” He looked over at Mullen. “Colonel, I am sorry for the loss of your men.”
“This is just fucking wonderful!” Toombs was about to blow his top. “I swear to God. If that pencil pusher who revels in telling me how to do my job doesn’t soon bring more reinforcements in here, I will pull every one of my troops out of Kamloops and hunt down those savages myself!”