Atlantic Bridge – 19 – (apologies for the delay!)
The Presse shop, Ambialet
Two more of the incursion force brought the RPG launchers and the grenades themselves up into the bedroom. The other two immediately began to assemble the long tube and tripod in expert fashion. It took just three minutes to assemble it, calibrate the laser night sighting, and draw a bead on the old monastery looming high on the rock across the river. The man who had been first into the shop touched his communicator. “Commander Bakti, RPG launcher in place and targeted. Awaiting instructions.”
Bakti was down at the Northern end of the bridge with his number 2, checking the approach up to the Monastery via the winding road.
“Leave Akbar with the launcher, the rest of you assemble here by the bridge. We will advance on foot along the road.
“But why not use the Humvee, Commander? We will be well protected by its Kevlar coating” ventured the soldier.
“Cowardly dog!” spat Bakti, “You think about your own pathetic self-preservation! The Humvee will surely struggle to cope with the switchback road to the target, it will slow us down, make us a vulnerable target. As a foot force, we are many targets, and more manoeuvrable. Some of us may die. That is Allah’s will!”
“Praise be to Allah” mumbled the soldier, chastened.
“Now, tell Akbar to be ready for my signal. Get the men down here now.”
Bakti turned his attention to the Monastery, the lights glowing within its ancient stone walls. The dawn was fast approaching, the first fingers of light teasing the eastern horizon. Today will be a glorious day for us, he thought, the infidels will die for having the temerity to resist the word of Islam. His eyes sparkled with religious zeal. Meanwhile, the four men had assembled behind him. He touched the communicator. “Akbar, fire when ready, four grenades, a minute apart. We should have reached cover by then.”
The last vestiges of the night were ripped asunder as a great plume of smoke and fire erupted from the bedroom window arcing murderously across the river and slamming into the ancient building. A huge explosion rocked its foundations as rubble cascaded down the hillside. A huge pall of dust and smoke began to drift across the town. The houses of Ambialet remained resolutely shuttered, wanting no part of what was being visited upon them.
The five men were already running across the bridge, machine pistols sweeping the area ahead of them. As they reached the other side of the bridge, still on the open road and exposed, another rocket propelled grenade followed the first, this time arcing higher, dropping into the roof from above. The top effectively blew off the Monastery. Ancient beams cracked and gave way, sending their deadly weight down into the chaos below.
The great hall was in disarray. Resistance fighters were running everywhere.
“Henri!” shouted Ben. “We need a location for that grenade! Grab that table!” Henri ran over and they heaved the great oak table over to the wall. They jumped up onto it, smashing the great stained glass window with their weapons. Ben raised his night sight and scanned the village below. He could see five figures, down in the roadway, they’d obviously crossed the bridge, but they were only carrying machine pistols…he tracked back to the village.
Suddenly, flaring bright green in his night sight, he saw it, streaking towards them, a third RPG!!!! “Incoming!” he screamed.
Henri and Ben leapt down and took cover beneath the table. Marie-Christine and Dryden leapt into the kitchen and hid beneath the benches. Then it hit. Or more precisely, it entered the gaping hole left by the first grenade, blasted through the ground floor and exploded in the crypt. The world seemed to shift on its axis. Enormous cracks began to appear in the floor of the great hall, and just then, one of the ruined beams came crashing through the ornate ceiling, pinning two fighters to the floor. Trying to ignore their screams, Ben shouted, “Henri! We have to take out that bastard, or we are all dead.”
Henri looked to his compatriots in their suffering. “Merde, you are right.”
They clambered from beneath their hiding place and back up onto the table.
“Henri, it’s the upper window of the Presse just before the tunnel I think. Can you hit it?”
Henri looked at him. “How do you say? Has the Pope got a balcony?” he smiled a thin smile and raised his weapon, poking the barrel through the gap left by the great window.
© Kev Moore 2008 All Rights Reserved