Origins-Part 1

 

PRIVATE THOMAS CLARKE

The Covert Ops Division didn’t exist on paper. There was no official record. It was a covert operation, which meant that Headquarters would deny all knowledge of its existence if the mission was compromised. They were deep within the heart of enemy territory.  The village was deserted, and looking at the bombed-out huts in the vicinity, nobody asked why the residents had left. Private Thomas Clarke knew that the stakes were higher than ever. America was facing tough opposition during the ongoing Tet Offensive, and the Viet Cong was gaining ground. Headquarters had resorted to desperate measures, and had hatched a plan to slow down them down. The Covert Ops Division was summoned, and orders were laid out by Lieutenant Colonel William Rhodes. Intelligence had reported that a major arms drop was on the way towards the NVA at the front. The arms were being carried in a convoy of three armoured trucks, and were crucial to sustain the troops. Intelligence had gained access to the entire route to be taken by the truck, and the plan was to intercept the convoy behind enemy lines. They were dropped into North Vietnamese territory in the dead of the night by a stealth chopper, and had secured the deserted village. According to the information, the convoy would be passing through the village at 0500 hours.

“Hawk-Eye, this is Team Leader. What’s the status?”came a voice from his communication unit.

“No activity”, replied Private Thomas Clarke. He was perched on the roof of the local school, and was on the lookout for the convoy. He kept looking Northwards through his binoculars for another five minutes, until he saw movement. Three trucks were approaching towards the village, and they matched the description provided to him. He spoke into his communication unit, ”Target approaching! ETA Two minutes! Acknowledge!”

 

MAJOR JOSH DAVIS

“Roger!”replied Major Josh Davis.”Everyone, move into position. Stand by for further orders! Do you copy?”“Copy” ,came the reply. The Major had a dozen men under his command,all of whom he had handpicked for this mission. They were the best in the business, and there was no margin for error.”T-minus sixty seconds”, said Hawk-One.

He could see the trucks now.They were moving at a gradual speed, very close to each other. The Major spoke into his unit, ”Attack on my word.”Sixty seconds later, he said, ”Engage!”

His men came out of their hiding places and fired on the truck drivers. After 30 seconds of incessant firing, there was silence once again. The Major walked up to the foremost truck and took the key from the ignition. It hung on a keychain which held one other key. It was the key to the containment chamber which housed all the weapons. He walked up to the back of the truck and inserted the key into the keyhole. On opening the door, he had expected to see firearms stacked on top of one another. What he hadn’t expected was half a dozen men in NVA fatigues, who fired at him.

FIRST LIEUTENANT JAMES WALKER

It was an ambush. They had been sold out. First Lieutenant James Walker heard the gunshots and dove for cover into a nearby hut. He could see his comrades diving for cover as well, and he saw half a dozen men come out of each of the armoured trucks. He watched them take down seven of his fellow officers. He saw Private Thomas Clarke crawling towards his hut, and provided cover fire until he was safely inside. They fired together at the enemy, and managed to hit four of them. At the same time, two more of his officers were killed by enemy bullets.

The Lieutenant noticed that an NVA soldier had been shot down at a close distance to his hut.A plan began to form in his mind. He spoke into his comm. unit,” Sergeant White!On my signal, give me cover fire! ”He then looked at Private Clarke and said,”Private Clarke and Sergeant White!It was an honour to serve with you. Give me cover fire at my signal,and finish off these bastards!”

“Sir, what are you-”began Clarke, but Walker continued,” That’s an order!Listen to me! Find the son of a bitch who sold us out, and kill him !I want your word on this gentlemen!”

“We swear to hunt down and kill whoever was responsible for this,Sir!”replied both.

“Well, that’s settled. Time for some fireworks,fellas!Now!”Walker ran out of the hut towards the dead soldier,while a hail of bullets was exchanged between the combatants. He picked up the dead body and used it as a human shield, and started moving towards the foremost truck. The dead body was splattered with bullets. Yes, his plan was working.

On reaching the truck, he let go of the body and slid under the chassis. He positioned himself beneath the diesel tank, and pulled out a grenade from his flak jacket.

SERGEANT DAVID WHITE

The explosion was tremendous. The truck went up in flames,which spread to the other trucks almost instantly.Two of the NVA soldiers went down during the explosion, while the rest caught fire.Lieutenant David White fired at them, and watched Clarke do the same.In no time, the remaining assailants were terminated. They scoured the battle scene for survivors. There were none.

“What now,Sir?Back to base?”asked Clarke.

“No. Whoever sold us out is probably still at base. We’re not telling anyone that we’re alive. We aren’t supposed to exist anyway, so they’ll report us Missing in Action.”

“So what’s the course of action?”

“We get back home and investigate.”

“But you said we weren’t going back to base.”

“I meant home,Private.”

 

FOUR MONTHS LATER

Los Angeles, California

Lieutenant Colonel William Rhodes was pleased. The Tet Offensive was over, and so was his time in Vietnam. He had served for four years, and been sent back home.He was looking forward to a quiet life with all the money he had earned. He turned into the access road which led to his newly acquired apartment in Brentwood Park, one of the richest areas in LA. He parked his car in the basement of the building and took the elevator.

Upon entering his apartment, he closed the door and turned on the lights. Sergeant White and Private Clarke were seated on his sofa. They had their Berettas pointed at him.

“What’s the meaning of this?”asked Rhodes.

“The jig is up, you moron!”, said White.”We know about the account in the Cayman Islands, and we know who deposited three million dollars into it, you treacherous swine!”

“Sit down”,said Clarke, motioning to a chair opposite the sofa.

Rhodes took the chair and said,”Okay, so Mr.Holmes and Dr.Watson have solved the case.What are you going to do about it? Take me to court? Ha!I have enough money to hire the best lawyers and sue the both of you for slander.”

“You think we’re that stupid?”,said Clarke, and stood up.He walked over to Rhodes and punched him in the face.”This one is for Major Davis.”

White also joined him, and both of them punched Rhodes in the face repeatedly, until their arms hurt. Rhode’s face was covered with blood and he was in considerable pain.

White then held his Beretta to Rhodes’ forehead, and pulled the trigger.

The Red Company was off the mark, and the first assignment undertaken by Red One and Red Two had gone off without a hitch.

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The Safehouse

RED FOUR

0137 HOURS

Red Five was driving the car, while Red Four was riding shotgun. The safehouse came into sight, one of many cottages that lined the street. It was well past midnight, and the lights were out. Their orders were to sweep the house, and if no threat was identified, they were to give the all clear. Red Four spoke into his communications unit, ”Red One, this is Red Four. We’ve reached the safehouse.  Wait for the all clear. Do you copy? ”

“Copy”, said a voice at the other end.

They stepped out of the car, and gave the front gate a slight push. It swung open on well oiled hinges. They walked across the well-manicured lawn and stepped onto the front porch. Red Four held a semi-machine gun, and was prepared to storm into the house. Red Five took a key out from his pocket , inserted it into the keyhole, and turned it. The door swung open, and they found themselves facing the barrels of two machine guns.

RED ONE

0143 HOURS

Red One heard a volley of shots at his end of the communications unit, which continued for about three seconds. That was followed by silence.Red One shouted into his communication unit,” Red Four! Red Five! Acknowledge! ”There was no answer. “Can anyone hear me, dammit! Acknowledge!”The response remained unchanged.

“Red One! This is Red Two! What are our orders?”came a voice from the communications unit.

Assuming the worst, Red One said,” Red Two! Red Three! We’re burned! Abort the mission, I repeat, abort the mission! Regroup at 0400 hours.  Rendezvous point Delta-Four-Two. Acknowledge!”

“Roger!”, answered two voices.

*

Red One was the first to reach the rendezvous point. It was a small, dingy room in a run-down, decrepit hotel. He sat down on the bed, waiting for his comrades, or what was left of them. He was the leader of the Red Company, a band of well-trained , ruthless mercenaries. This was their 27th mission, and their reputation for efficiency had spread far and beyond. Their missions were covert operations, which meant they did all the dirty work for the government. They had been chosen for the mission not only for their efficiency, but also for their discretion. Names were dangerous. To each other, they were simply Red brothers. They took their payment via discreet offshore accounts which were never traced back to them.

They had never failed at a mission before. However, this mission was of a far larger magnitude than any of their previous ones, and was equalled by the cash reward offered. Their target was the head of the largest organized crime syndicate in the country, who had eluded capture for the better part of two decades. Their plan was to stay put at the safe house, where a defector from the syndicate, who had made contact with the government, would be waiting for them. Following the standard protocol, Red One had sent two of his comrades as scouts, to give the all clear signal, and they had been ambushed. Either they were being spied upon, or someone, probably the defector, had sold them out. Red One spoke into the comm. unit ,”What’s the status?”

“ETA two minutes”, came the reply.

RED THREE

0400 HOURS

Two minutes later, Red Two and Red Three entered the room. Red Two shut the door behind him, and said,” What the hell just happened? That bastard sold us out! I swear, he will come to regret this day! I shall hunt him down and kill him! ”

Red Three said calmly,” It wasn’t him”, and took out his Beretta. He fired two shots. The first one hit Red One in the head, and the second one took Red Two in the stomach. Red One crumpled to the floor instantly, landing with a dull thud. Red Two was clutching his stomach, still reeling from the shock. He said ,”You -“ but before he could finish, Red Three shot him in the head.

An hour later, Red Three heard a knock on the door. He stood up and opened the door ever so slightly, and saw The Don, as he was popularly known, standing outside. He opened the door, and was frisked by The Don’s bodyguards. They took his Beretta, and strode over to the two corpses, taking possession of their weapons as well.

“Are they dead at the safehouse?”asked Red Three.

The Don entered the room and shook his hand, saying,” They were tough. Took my men along with them.  Good job, lad. Knew you had it in you! It was a pleasure doing business-”, but was cut-off.

“Cut the bullshit and give me my money. You said it would be double that of what my original employers were paying.”, said Red Three.

“”It has been wired to the account number you gave us.”

Red Three took out his cellphone and dialled a number. “Status?”, he spoke.”Its done”, came the reply. He turned it off and put it into his pocket.

“I guess we’re done here. Please show yourself out.”

One of The Don’s bodyguards strode over to the door and opened it. As the door swung open, the sound of machine gun fire rang out. The bodyguards and The Don were riddled with bullets. Splattered with blood , they fell face down. Red Three had taken a bullet to the chest, and directed his gaze at the door.

Red Four was standing at the door, his gun pointed at Red Three . Red Three heard a loud bang, and his vision went black.

RED FOUR

0140 HOURS

Red Four was standing on full alert as Red Five swung the key. They opened the door to find themselves facing the barrel of two AK-47s. One of the enemy shooters fired at Red Five. Before the other one could shoot, Red Four took him down with his semi-machine gun. Red Five was down, but Red Four took a well-aimed swing at the other shooter, who at the same time swung the muzzle of his gun at him. Both dropped their guns. The enemy combatant knocked him onto the floor, and pressed his hand to his throat. Red Four could hear the voice of Red One coming from the communication unit, but could scarcely make a sound. Red Four was pressing his left hand to his assailant’s face, and at the same time was trying to reach his back pocket with his right, where he had kept a pocket knife. His breathing was becoming laboured, and he knew he was running out of time. He finally managed to reach his back pocket. He took out the knife and drove it into his combatant’s neck. His enemy lost his grip, keeled over, and lay still. Red Four stood up, and he could hear Red One’s voice calling a mission abort. He started to speak, but he saw another body in the middle of the room. It was that of the defector. The defector himself was dead.  That meant that he wasn’t the one who had sold them out, which left one, very disturbing conclusion.

Red Four knew that The Don would send somebody to confirm the kill if his henchmen didn’t reply, and he would have to play dead in order for the ruse to be successful. He heard the sound of a car coming from a distance, and he quickly lay down on the floor. He was already covered in blood. The Don’s men entered the house and prodded at their bodies. Red Four held his breath, silently praying to every God he knew. The men, apparently satisfied, left the house, and Red Four breathed a sigh of relief. He decided to not inform his comrades about his situation, instead opting to shadow them and ferret out the traitor.

0400 HOURS

He was in the corridor leading up to the hotel room, when he heard the shots. He ran towards and adjoining room and lay waiting. If there was one thing he hated, it was treachery. He was too late to save his comrades, but he could avenge them. An hour later, he heard footsteps, and voices .He recognized one of them as that of Red Three.

Rage boiled inside him, and he came out of the room. He had taken the machine gun from his assailant, and he stood outside the room occupied by the Don. He heard the doorknob turning, and when the door fully opened, he fired.