Shamus O’Reilly had been laying low since the start of the occupation of the Thompson-Nicola district. He’d not heard from any of the members of the resistance cell. O’Reilly wondered how they were fairing out or even if they had survived the past few months. Out of the blue, O’Reilly heard what sounded like helicopters approaching his ranch. The former IRA member had become quite paranoid living by himself out in the wilderness. He opened up a closet and took out an M16/UA2 rifle that had an attached grenade launcher.
O’Reilly rushed out onto the deck of his house just as two Apache attack helicopters flew toward the house. The choppers’ nicknames were “Vulture” and “Death from Above.” The Apaches belonged to the North American Police Air Division.
A pilot and gunner sat inside of the cockpit of Vulture. The pilot stared straight ahead as O’Reilly’s house came into view.
“Vulture here. Coordinates fifty-four latitude, longitude seventy. Elevation, three-thousand, five-hundred and sixty-seven meters.” The pilot spoke into the radio on his helmet. “Target is on the deck of the house armed.”
“Engaged immediately,” a voice came through the radio.
“Roger that. Going hot.”
Vulture and Death from Above moved in closer. Vulture’s gunner gripped the controls. He turned the helicopter’s M230 chain gun with his helmet.
Suddenly, a grenade flew through the air. It missed Death from Above’s right wing by a few inches before falling onto the ground and exploding.
“Take that you fascist pieces of shit!” O’Reilly yelled.
Both helicopters unleashed a torrent of thirty-millimeter bullets directly at O’Reilly. The aging IRA man was cut down in seconds. Next, the pilots fired Hellfire missiles into the house, blowing it to smithereens.
Brian Vance had recently returned to his regular duties as a member of the British Parachute Regiment. For a week or so he’d been more or less an errand boy for Colonel Mullen. During that period, Vance had seen a side of the veteran army officer that troubled him deeply. Mullen, while acting very polite and professional, was in reality a closet sadist.
Vance had been largely shunned by most of his mates, although he and Pete Huggins remained close friends. It was a warm, early September day. Vance noticed the contrasting very cool and crisp nights that would precede what was promising to be a good old-fashioned Canadian winter. The two Paras managed to find a restaurant that still had its deck open.
As Vance and Huggins nursed cups of tea, Vance studied the faces of the local denizens that walked by. They wore expressions of fear, paranoia and silent rage against the foreign invaders that had taken over their lives and stripped them of their freedoms. As somebody who had always had a great amount of respect for Canadians, it struck a nerve inside of Vance. It sickened him to be seen not as a liberator but a murderer.
A young waitress walked over to the table carrying a tray with plates of fish and chips on it. She set the tray in front of the young paratroopers. The girl, no older than eighteen or nineteen, avoided eye contact with them as much as possible. Vance took a bite of the breaded fish.
“Tastes not too bad. Nothing like back home but good enough nonetheless.”
Huggins started into his meal.
“Brian, what do you think got into you a couple of weeks back? You froze up.”
“I prefer not to talk about it.”
“It bothers you, doesn’t it?”
“What bothers me?”
“Brian, don’t get offended by what I’m about to say. You’re an excellent soldier-there’s no getting around that-but myself and the guys have noticed that you have a bit of a weak spot. Maybe you’re just not cut out for the brutalities of war.”
“Since when did you become an expert in the “brutalities of war?” Vance felt his blood pressure rising a notch. “It it’s all the same to you, I don’t exactly enjoy mowing down innocent civilians.”
“They were not innocent. The NAP and Norwegian forces found weapons inside of all of their houses. They wouldn’t hesitate to kill either one of us. If you want to get through this, you have to stop thinking that way. Besides, orders are orders.”
“You don’t think I already know that?” Vance nibbled on one of his French fries. If any of Vance’s comrades knew exactly what was going through his mind, he’d be cited for treason and imprisoned. It was nearing the point where he couldn’t hide his true feelings any longer.