Atlantic Bridge – 15 –
The River Tarn, Ambialet
Down by the River, Corporal Vann was about to complete his watch, when suddenly, as the moon briefly appeared from behind the clouds, he saw movements on the monastery roof, silhouetted against the pale light. He scampered over to the sleeping figure of Lieutenant Commander Tobias. “Sir, movement on the monastery roof. I think it’s a gunman, Sir.”
Ben was instantly awake.
“Get Stephenson, he knows what to do.”
Corporal Vann disappeared back into the trees. Moments later, he reappeared with Stephenson, who was already putting the finishing touches to a futuristic stainless steel assembly. It was known as the Hauser Falcon, the most powerful and deadly accurate crossbow ever built. Laser sighted with Hydraulic reset, it was a formidable weapon, silent, and deadly.
Tonight, however, Stephenson planned to use it in a much more benign fashion. From his tunic, Ben produced a long slim aluminium message tube, like a cigar holder, but threaded at one end. He nodded to Stephenson, who offered up one of the vicious-looking arrow tipped crossbow bolts. Ben slid the message tube into the specially hollowed-out bolt and screwed it firmly into place. He handed it back to Stephenson. “Don’t miss” he said. Stephenson smiled ruefully. He’d retained Gold in two successive Olympics. He wasn’t about to miss out on the medals now. Supremely confident, he moved forward to the waters edge and fixed a bead on the Monastery roof.
Henri was scanning the road beyond the tunnel. Several lorries had rumbled through the town and off into the night, but all seemed quiet…
Thunk! He felt something fly past his head and slam into the flagpole in an explosion of splinters. Still clinging to the rifle, he hit the floor and rolled away from the edge. He looked across the roof. The flagpole was still rocking gently back and forth with the force of the impact, and there, about three feet up, was a shiny metal rod protruding at right angles from it.
Cautiously, he pulled himself closer. He reached up to pull it from the pole, but it was embedded fast, the barb on the arrowhead making it impossible to remove. “Mon Dieu, what that would have done to me!” he exclaimed
softly. Looking more carefully, he noticed the end of the projectile, beyond the flights…he reached up and experimented…his fingers found purchase and he found himself unscrewing the end, drawing a long slim tube from the body of it. Careful to keep below the parapet, he put his rifle to one side and examined his find. He withdrew a tightly rolled piece of paper, covered in writing. Normally extremely taciturn, Henri nevertheless couldn’t repress a gasp of astonishment at what he was reading.
To: Lumiere de Liberte C in C
From British Army HQ
Malachi compromised. Attack on your HQ imminent.
Squad of 10 in River Valley stand ready to assist.
Codeword for veracity: BERLIOZ
Fly flag at half-mast to indicate our squad may approach.
Henri pressed CALL on his communicator. “Dryden, make extra Cassoulet this evening, we have guests.” Without waiting for a reply, Henri stood and lowered the tricolour.
“Okay lads, that’s the signal. Make for the road tunnel, but quietly, we don’t know who is out there just yet.” Ben organised the team quickly, as each gathered their weapons and climbed over the rock wall and began making their way along the path that followed the river. They silently climbed the stairway up to the main road, crouching behind a wall until they were sure they had a clear run for the tunnel. Ben sent them in pairs, sprinting through the town and into the darkness of the road tunnel. Finally, Ben and Corporal Vann brought up the rear.
Breathless, Ben briefed the men “Right, about twenty meters in there’s a recess for service vehicles on the right hand side. No flashlights unless absolutely necessary, use the tunnel wall as a guide. The men moved swiftly, the wall damp beneath their fingers as they traced their path along it. A distant rumble sounded from the other end of the tunnel, and a light began to grow, washing the tunnel walls. “Quickly!” urged Ben, “Get out of sight!” The last of the men leaped into the darkness of the alcove as the lorry came thundering past only inches from them. The noise of the engine receded quickly; just the strong smell of diesel fumes betrayed its passing.
“There’s a keystone” said Ben “It opens a door to the passage that leads up to the monastery.”
“What’s this then, James Bond?” joked Stephenson.
Ben smiled. “A lot older than that, it was used by the Cathar Parfaits as a means of escape during their persecution by the Catholics.”
“It’s always been about bloody religion, hasn’t it?” grumbled Stephenson, as they set about looking for a way in.
The Black Humvee pulled up in front of a sign that read; Ambialet 2km.
Bakti pressed the button on the comm.. panel.
“Paris HQ? This is Bakti. We are one and a half kilometres from Incursion point. ETA Five minutes. May Allah protect us. Initiating Radio Silence.”
Bakti shut the communications link down. He turned to his men.
“We only communicate with our short range units now. Let us make the words of the prophets a reality” They nodded their assent. He tapped the driver on the shoulder and the Humvee shot into the night.
© Kev Moore 2008 All Rights Reserved
No comments yet.