6 - Clan Amir: The Shukra War - Cover

6 - Clan Amir: The Shukra War

Copyright 2007 by Ernest Bywater as Ernest Edwards

Chapter 05


Southern Shukra

Just after midnight Force Apache makes contact with Rebel troops patrolling the border area. Coming up very fast from behind them 4th Platoon, C Company, 2nd Royal Armoured Guards opens up on them when they start to pass by. Ninety seconds of fierce fighting while they drive by results in five Rebel vehicles burning on the side of the road with forty dead troops lying in and around them. The Lieutenant in charge of the Raptors is upset because he missed most of it. He was knocked unconscious by a hit to his helmet at the start, and he’s their only casualty. They didn’t slow down at all. Just before 3:00 a.m. Force Apache tops a hill and it starts down into a small flat valley. Spread out on both sides of the road is a regiment of Rebel infantry. Gerry has been watching them via Cyclops since before dusk. According to plan his force is bearing down at high speed in two columns with all of their weapons trained out, and waiting. The sound of the vehicles wakes up the sleeping Rebels so they stir and start rising to see what’s going on. Gerry’s lead elements reach the last of the Rebel tents and the word is given. The whole column opens up, firing into the camp on both sides. In their command car, now about half-way through the camp, Gerry shines a light on the twin pennants of the Red Dragon and the Great Falcon. Letting them know who is calling. When the last of Force Apache disappears over the next hill all is quiet in the valley. A regiment of dead and dying troops doesn’t make much noise, and the 14th Regiment is no more, even if a few manage to survive their wounds. Gerry’s force suffers seven minor wounds. Most of the Rebels die before they know there’s a fire-fight happening.

At dawn the 7th Platoon, F Company, 2nd Royal Armoured Guards is in the lead. Topping a rise they find a crossroad busy with Rebel troops about to execute a group of local civilians. One simple arm movement has both vehicles spreading out to the sides then open in rapid fire on the Rebels. Caught from an unexpected quarter because they thought the vehicles were another Rebel patrol they panic. 7th Platoon stops just short of them and the troops deploy. 8th Platoon, who are right behind them, take up point, and fire at the Rebels while they drive through the crossroads, also driving over four Rebel soldiers standing in the road. A few minutes later the last of F Company passes through and there’s no Rebels left to shoot at. The medics of 7th Platoon are busy treating a few injured civilians. After the column passes them 7th Platoon pulls into the rear of the column. At 9:00 a.m. Force Apache stops for the second time and the vehicles are refuelled from drums. People stretch their legs and relieve themselves.

Gerry calls a council of his commanders and they study the maps. He has new intelligence and Cyclops reports of concern, so they need to change the plans. He looks at his commanders while saying, “OK, someone’s informed the enemy of our movement. They’re preparing a stopping force at the Shuda River and they’re crossing the border as we speak. They started out hours earlier than expected. It’s going to be rough, but we’re going to surprise them. Colonel Chesway, take the Second and Third Claymore, cut across by Link Road Eight, you’ll go close to, but out of sight of, Shumeer. I doubt they’ll expect us to use it. Hit Highway One and head up it. Go flat out. I want you at the ambush point and dug in before they reach it. The whole timetable is now moved forward three hours. Block the road and spread all of your troops out on the hills on the seaward side. Dig in well and use up all of those rockets early in the fight. We’ll stay on this road to keep them thinking the whole force is heading up it. We’ll cut off at Link Road Twelve, follow it until it curves back, and then take to the fields. I plan to be coming over the hills on the west side of the highway just after you hit them with the rockets. However, be prepared to deal with things in case we’re running late.”

A laughing Colonel Chesway replies, “The last time you were late for a party you were six years old and it was the birthday party of a cousin you didn’t like. See you there, Boss.” All smile when they move back to their commands while they inform their people of the changes as they go.

The Berant Shukra Border

After a very busy night and morning Jessica is forming up her column to move out. The 4th Royal Armoured Guards have point with some of the Shukra troops scouting for them. A full brigade of re-tread Guards. The Shukra troops make up most of another regiment with a company of 1st Claymore attached to them to complete it. She has the equivalent of seven regiments. Isobelle, Vicky, and Nancy are all in combat gear with command helmets and are acting as command advisers. They’re keeping Nancy’s inclusion in the force secret for now. Princess Adriana was very helpful in sorting the Shukra troops into order and she wanted to come along to control them. However, her orders are to stay to keep the refugee camp organised and functioning. She’s a great organiser and seeing her helps with the people’s morale.

The three vehicle wide column, with flanker units out, crosses the border into Shukra at 1:00 p.m. Very good organisation for such a make shift operation, and they’re moving in good combat order. As much as possible Jessica has organised the volunteers into regiments akin to what they were in before they retired. Essentially, she has a regiment of each regular Claymore unit full of re-tread guards.

Ten kilometres over the border the Rebels have set up to hold the first river crossing with a regiment of infantry and some armoured cars. If they only had to face the infantry they were expecting they could’ve held the crossing to make Force Sioux pay heavily to take it. The Rebels are unpleasantly surprised when the heavy tanks of the Green Raptors top the hill opposite. Spreading out they soon start blowing all of the Rebel armour and defences apart. The light armour deployed by the Rebels is no match for the heavy tanks of the Royal Guards. The one hundred and eighty tanks open in volley fire at pre-designated targets, two tanks are assigned to each of the fifty Rebel armoured cars mounting twin 75 mm cannon, and four tanks assigned to each of the twenty Rebel light tanks. In each case, as per Royal Guards anti-armour combat doctrine, the tanks working together fire at different parts of the enemy armoured vehicles. The senior tank aims at the turret, the next senior aims at the hull machine-gun, next senior aims at the driver’s vision slit, and the next senior aims for the engine bay or drive wheels.

The incoming armour piecing rounds smash the cannons apart and into thousands of pieces of shrapnel which pepper the troops near the armoured cars to kill and wound hundreds of the Rebel troops. The rounds aimed at the hull gunners penetrate the hull and the gunners with ease before exploding. The gunners are ripped apart and their body armour is added to the shell shrapnel flying around the interior of the vehicles tearing apart the bodies of its occupants, some are lucky and are killed by the concussion of the round exploding inside the armoured car, so they don’t feel a thing while the rest die in the ensuing fires when the vehicles burn. The Rebel tanks are harder targets, but they fare no better. The turret round slams into the turret to knock it off its mounting tracks in most cases, or in a few cases it hits the weakest point in the armour and penetrates inside before exploding. The turret crews are either killed or stunned by the blasts. The hull mounted machine-guns are destroyed while their operators are killed by the blast on the vision slit rupturing the bullet resistant Plexiglass and smashing it into their faces. The drivers suffer a similar fate. Other rounds blast the drive wheels on one side apart. The tanks are sitting ducks for the follow up rounds that finish the job and turn them into burning hulks. Two more rounds at the troop defences and the Rebels retreat while leaving over one thousand dead infantry troops behind them as well as the destroyed armour and their crews. After the second volley of tank fire Force Sioux flows over the hill to open fire on the Rebel troops with their rifles, the relief force suffers twenty-one minor wounds amongst the support troops.

Northern Shukra

In the middle of the Shuda Plain it’s nearly 4:00 p.m. and Colonel Chesway is grinning. It was a long, hard, rough ride, but they got here in time to dig in to be ready for when the enemy arrives. He’d shut down all of the electronics and communications at 11:00 a.m. to ensure the enemy couldn’t use the latest tracking gear to find his force. No feeds from Cyclops because the scatter can’t be picked up. Also, the UAVs were kept close and are now parked until the battle commences.

His force is spread out along two kilometres of highway. Two companies of the Third are set as the blocking force. One on either side of the highway on and just below the ridge line of the second highest cross ridge in the area which is just behind him. The two best ambush points are the river crossings about thirty-five kilometres apart and he’s in the middle of them, as ordered to by Gerry. The next best ambush site is the highest cross ridge which is two cross ridges further north. As expected, the mercenaries took extra precautions at the first river crossing and the highest ridge. They found nothing at them and have relaxed again. His scouts observed them directly and reported back in person. Sometimes there are advantages in not using the best sites. The rest of the Claymore are dug in on the sides of the ridge to his right. The section nearest the road is more like low hillocks so he set back a bit further. The hillocks will entice the enemy to use them for cover against him, which will open them up for the rest of the force when it hits them. All of the troop transports are back just below the ridge line of the second ridge with a third of his force waiting in them. He’s certain Gerry will be on time because he saw dust to the west half an hour ago. So much dust it could only be a large motorised force kicking up dust in the fields while crossing the farms.

Just after 4:30 p.m. he’s smiling when the mercenaries move down the six lane highway, three lanes in each direction, in a six line column while using the whole road with tanks in the outside lines. Their flankers are well short of his troops’ positions. They’re about eight hundred metres into the trap. Leaning idly against the drop down bar Colonel Chesway presents the perfect picture of a bored soldier on gate duty. When they arrived they found a squad of Rebels set up here checking everyone’s identities. Naturally they took over the duty. This gives him a perfect view of the situation and the lack of response by the mercenaries shows they expected to find the manned checkpoint here.


Gerry is lying on a ridge top about half a kilometre west of the Colonel while studying the field. He knows the two Claymore regiments are there, but apart from the five person checkpoint he can’t spot anyone. They’ve done a good job of camouflage. Just below the ridge, awaiting his signal, is the 2nd Royal Armoured Guards, the dreaded Black Raptors, behind them are the Shields with the 3rd Royal Armoured Guards, the Brown Raptors, after them. Three waves waiting for his signal. And he, the Commanding General, is waiting for one of his colonels to start the battle.

It was a rough ride, especially the last two hours. But they bypassed the Rebel block force. They’ll probably be after them now, but two to three hours behind them. The cross country travel at high speed was very rough and very bumpy. Many of the farmers will be happy because their fields are now all ploughed up for them. He spread the column out as wide as he dared to spread them while crossing the empty crop fields because he didn’t want to damage the fields themselves by too much churning of the soil by the vehicles. Many troops were swearing about the rough ride. Princess Lillian just stood there watching, like he did. Even when her cut hand started bleeding again from the rough treatment caused by holding on she just stood quietly while watching and waiting.

Show Time

The point of the mercenary column is only ten metres from the checkpoint. The commander of the lead tank waves at Colonel Chesway, who’s dressed as a Shukra private, to move the bar. A smiling Colonel Chesway is very quick to raise the bar in response to the wave. Anyway, it’s what he wants to do. To simplify the attack signal he set it as that simple visual action. When the bar reaches straight up they’re all to open fire.

The tank comes three metres closer and the tank commander smirks at Colonel Chesway who smiles back while he uses his right hand to bring the bar to straight up as his left hand raises the barrel of a small machine pistol. Using two three round bursts he blows the heads off both the machine-gunners in the troop transport near him as a Sword shoots the tank commander and the rest of his troops open fire on the column. The countryside bursts into flame with sixteen hundred rockets spearing down on the column. Each Sword was designated a type of vehicle and an area to cover with their first two rounds. All shots after that are for targets of opportunity of what’s left to shoot at. Colonel Chesway drops behind the field separating stone wall the checkpoint is set up beside, and he operates a light machine-gun to rake the front vehicles.

All along the column of mercenary vehicles on the road in the valley the rockets are smashing home on the tanks and troop transports to kill, maim, and destroy the mercenary force. A few, very few, vehicles are yet to go over the rise into the valley. The valley is filled with flaming death and destruction. The same scenes are repeated all along the column of vehicles in the valley. Tanks and transports are destroyed or set on fire while troops are killed. The Claymore are firing down onto the bulk of the tanks and transports from positions about forty-five degrees above them, and are far enough away to have good fire angles along the whole line.

The lead tank’s turret hatch is open so the commander falls into the tank. The first rocket angles toward the hatch. On entering the tank the rocket hits the side of the entry way just enough to deflect it down and activate the delayed action fuse. Travelling down the rocket slams into the back of one of the turret crew to smash him to the floor. The rocket explodes and it turns the crew member into a mess of gore on the floor while the blast concussion kills the rest of the crew by smashing them against the inside walls of the tank. A second rocket aimed at that tank smashes into the engine deck to knock the engine off its mounts and cause the tank to stall. The blast damages the steel plate separating the engine deck from the fuel tank situated between the engine and the main body of the tank. A third rocket enters the damaged engine area. Exploding, it splits the protecting plate to blow the fuel tank apart and spray burning fuel over the interior.

The fifth tank in line has two rockets strike the engine deck a part second between them. The fuel tank is blown apart to spray burning fuel over the crew and the engine is damaged. They scream their lives away in the fire.

The seventh tank in line is hit on the side of the turret by a rocket. The turret is jolted off its tracks. The follow up rocket hits on the exposed tracks and explodes. Shrapnel flies around the inside of the tank to kill the gun crew and rupture the fuel tank. The driver and forward machine-gunner die in the following inferno.

The commander of the fifteenth tank in the left hand line is a real worrier. He has a heavy armour piercing round loaded into his gun and has the barrel constantly moving back and forth. A rocket slams into the side of the turret and explodes, the turret is jolted, which frightens the gunner working the gun enough to make him jump with the hit and he fires his gun. Unluckily for the tank in front the barrel is pointed at it when this happens. The armour piercing round capable of travelling quite a few kilometres travels all of five metres before it effortlessly slams through the rear of the turret in front to explode inside the tank to kill its crew and set it on fire just as a rocket hit its engine deck. The second rocket aimed at the fifteenth tank penetrates the engine deck and destroys the engine. A third rocket finishes the rupture of the fuel tank and sets it alight.

The troop transports fare just as badly as the tanks. The lead transport has a rocket slam into the windscreen directly in front of the driver. The armour piercing round effortlessly punches in to explode in the vehicle’s cabin. Blowing it apart and killing the occupants. The explosion also jolts most of the troops in the back off their feet. The second round from the same Sword punches through the empty cabin space and the troop area wall to explode in the middle of the troop deck. Some troops are blown out of the vehicle while most are killed.

A few vehicles back a trooper is jumping out the back door of his transport when a rocket explodes in the travel deck behind him. He’s thrown onto the front of the next vehicle in line just as a rocket explodes in its cabin. The blast snaps his head back, breaking his neck and he drops to the ground, dying. Most of his platoon mates are a mixed patch of gore on the inside walls of the transport while a few others are blown out to die on the side of the road from their fatal wounds.

In another transport they have a light mortar set up on its base. The mortar operator is standing there with a shell in has hand, ready if needed. He’s standing in front of the mortar and looking along the column when a rocket flies down into the open transport bay. Punching through the floor of the transport it explodes under the mortar’s base plate. The man is in great pain when the 75 mm mortar tube is slammed upward into his rear end, through his stomach, and into his lungs. The force of the intrusion lifts him into the air a little. Shrapnel kills several platoon members and wounds many others. Further along the column another trooper is jumping over the side of his transport when a rocket slams into his chest to punch him back into the vehicle. The explosion kills him and several other troopers in the vehicle.

In the vehicle beside it a rocket explodes amongst some cases of mortar ammunition. The sympathetic explosion rips the vehicle to pieces and shrapnel pounds all of the nearby vehicles to kill many who are above the side of the vehicles while they try for a quick exit over the side. Further down the line a rocket explodes amongst the demolition explosives stacked in the travel bed. The whole lot goes off at once, vaporising the troops and severely damaging the transports around it when the vehicle disappears as it’s turned into shrapnel.

In a transport near the back of the column a direct action rocket hits the floor of the troop bed. The explosion throws several troopers high into the air for two or three metres. Most land on the ground or back in the vehicle in one piece, some with broken bones. One trooper falls back toward the vehicle as if he’d jumped off a high bench. He lands on the side of the vehicle with one leg either side of the armour plated side. He gives out with a brief high scream before fainting because the impact on the steel side crushes his testicles.

For forty or fifty seconds rockets scream home along the column. Each Sword has a four shot rocket launcher and they empty them in rapid fire. Some targets take several hits, but every tank takes three or four so all of the tanks are burning well. Flaming death and destruction rules the valley. When their launchers empty eight hundred Swords take up another set of rocket launchers to continue firing rockets, most of these are anti-personnel rockets set to explode in the air above the enemy troops. The rest of the Swords open up with light machine-guns or automatic rifles in full auto-fire mode. Despite all of this around one third of the mercenaries get out of the vehicles and return fire from the road side, only about twelve thousand troops.

Colonel Chesway is behind his wall, smiling while he works his light machine-gun with much vigour. No point in trying to direct this battle because the positions are set, the orders are given; so it’s now a straight slugging match. Only one side will walk away today.

The mercenaries are caught with their pants well and truly down. However, they’re worth their pay and they’re responding well. Unit commanders are taking control and are directing troops to fire positions on the roadside hills to return fire. They figure these must be some of the Shukra troops from the coastal governors with only rockets and light machine-guns.

While the mercenaries take cover Gerry speaks into his radio, he says just one word, “Geronimo.” The Black Raptors leap up the hill, on topping the rise they open fire into the mercenary column. Zigzagging down the hill they keep up a continuous stream of 75 mm cannon and 100 mm light tank artillery fire at all of the mercenary positions to deliver death to many of the mercenaries there. When they clear the ridge the Shields top it in their troop transports with heavy machine-gun, light machine-gun, and rifle fire pouring from each vehicle like water out of a high pressure hose while they follow the Raptors down the hill.

While taking heavy casualties the mercenaries split forces to respond to both sides. With the Raptors dropping into the dell between the two ridges the fire from the west drops a little. However, at that point the Claymore troop carriers on the eastern side rise over the ridge to open fire with a round of six hundred anti-personnel rocket launchers and heavy machine-guns.

The Brown Raptors top the ridge, and open up with their heavy tanks when their 150 mm guns fire into the column. Leaving the ridge top they sit just below it with their hulls down and the barrels sniffing up at the enemy. The returning mercenary rocket fire doesn’t penetrate their armour because they can only sight on the heaviest top armour while the few softer spots (they have no real soft spots) are protected by their hull down positions. The tanks are busy firing direct action and air burst anti-personnel shells at the mercenaries.

Four minutes into the fierce battle the Black Raptors show why they’re seen as the world’s best at open field light armour combat when they move over the closer ridge to open fire again. Weaving about just below the ridge they work their way along the whole valley while they continue to pour a heavy, accurate, and devastating fire into the mercenaries. The Shields top the closer ridge and sit just below it with troops dismounting to fire heavy and light machine-guns, automatic rifles, and anti-personnel rockets into the mercenary troops from protected firing positions along the ridge line.

When the Shields pass him at the first ridge Gerry jumps aboard the command car. Now he stands behind the heavy machine-gun while Princes Lillian works the light machine-gun, and they both pour rounds into enemy positions. They fire into the enemy while they ignore the few enemy rounds that reach them and are stopped by their body armour. With an ear to ear grin Gerry gives his second last command of the battle. On the general broadcast frequency he says, “Show the colours.”

Immediately the pennants are raised - the Red Dragon, the Great Falcon, the Black Raptors, the Brown Raptors, the Shields, the Rocks, the Foresters. All of them distinct and unique, all of them known to the enemy troops, so are the reputations of those who fight under them.

Many of the mercenaries swear when they see who they’re facing. They’re caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. They’ve lost their armoured support and are being hit hard, very hard, by a force well known to rip larger forces to pieces with great ease.

Ten minutes into the battle Force Apache has fired the last of their eight thousand eight hundred armour piercing rockets and three thousand two hundred anti-personnel rockets, many hundreds of tank rounds, and thousands of bullets. All of the mercenary vehicles in the valley are burning wrecks, and bodies lie everywhere along the highway. The tail of the force, about seven hundred troops in troop transports, can be seen withdrawing north at high speed. They’d not yet entered the valley when the trap was sprung. Although spread out along only two kilometres of the valley the Berant forces fire at all of the column in the valley, nearly three kilometres of mercenaries.

Fifteen minutes into the battle Gerry gives his final order on the general frequency, “Cease fire.” His troops stop shooting. There’s no return fire. With great care the designated troops stand up and they head for the battlefield to check on the combat status of the enemy troops. They call for medics. Some mercenaries are still alive and wounded. Clean-up starts when some troops identify wounded and take them for treatment while others drag the enemy dead off to the side of the road to place them out of the way while they also remove any recoverable ammunition, weapons, and metals on them.

New Players

At 5:25 p.m. lookouts report a light armoured column moving in from the south-east. It looks to be company strength. Gerry studies the force after driving over to the rise in his command car. A company of the Shields spreads out on the ridge around the vehicle while they get ready to fight. He signals them to stand by.

The column approaches. Seeing the readiness of the Shields, and the pennants flying, the new troops keep their weapons at port arms or pointed well away. Ready, but not threatening. A very large man in combat armour alights from the lead vehicle.

Walking up the hill he says, “I see you fly both the Dragon and the Falcon. Who are you?”

Before Gerry can answer Princess Lillian steps down from the command car while saying, “Troops under my command, Major Pargrew.” Over her shoulder she says, “General Mannheim, this is Major Brian Pargrew, Commander, D Company, King’s Guard. I’d guess that’s the rest of his company behind him.”

Major Pargrew looks at the woman in combat armour. He can see she’s been in combat as she got down from behind a light machine-gun and she has propellant smoke stains on her armour, helmet, and hands. Her left hand is bandaged. Marks on the armour and helmet show where incoming rounds have been deflected or stopped. The voice is familiar, but he doesn’t know any female soldiers and he can’t place her voice. Imperiously she gives a hand sign. He’s stunned, because only senior members of the Shukra Royal Family are entitled to use that sign. She lifts the helmet’s visor and he sees her face. Recognising Princess Lillian he immediately drops to his knee and he bows his head while saying, “Your Highness, I’m yours to command.” He still can’t understand it; a Princess doesn’t enter into battle or wear armour, but he doesn’t have to understand it. He’s in the Dragon’s Teeth and here stands a Dragon, a fierce fighting Dragon - one well worthy of his service and devotion.

Smiling at him she says, “You were told to hide and await your recall. Well, here’s your recall. The Princess of Light is on her way to Shumeer, we move to meet her once we’re finished here. I want all of the Teeth in this area summoned to me, now! Then you can brief General Mannheim on the situation here. Get to know him because he commands my forces.” A smiling Major Pargrew nods in acceptance with his orders.

Standing up he says, “With your permission, I’ll send the recall first.” Both Lillian and Gerry nod yes. Activating the radio on his belt he says, “The Dragon flies, bring the Teeth together.” A small cheer is heard from the troop transports. The radio operator relays the message. Major Pargrew starts briefing Gerry on the local situation. He stops, stunned speechless, when he crests the rise and he sees the devastation in the next valley. He takes in the size of the column attacked, the numbers of dead, and the relatively small numbers of attackers. He’d always thought the Dragon’s Teeth were good, but this is staggering.

Searching through the wreckage and dead the medics find one thousand eight hundred and seventy-two enemy wounded, most will live. No survivors of the one thousand five man tank crews. No one bothers counting the dead. However, they can estimate the figure from the starting point of just over forty-five thousand officers and men. About seven hundred escaped while one thousand eight hundred and seventy-two were wounded, so that puts the mercenary death toll at about the forty-three thousand five hundred mark. U MAMA are going to have a hard time recruiting mercenaries in the future because they sure use them up in big numbers for very little return. Mercenaries don’t mind risks, as long as they get well paid and they have a reasonable chance to walk away to spend the money after the action is over and done with. Large losses like this demonstrate poor planning, and many mercenaries won’t want to work for such poor planners. Well, not the good ones, a few fools will still take on the work, and they come under the special name of cannon fodder.

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