6 - Clan Amir: The Shukra War - Cover

6 - Clan Amir: The Shukra War

Copyright 2007 by Ernest Bywater as Ernest Edwards

Chapter 07

Shukra Royal Palace

All is in readiness by 5:00 p.m. with Major Pargrew’s force ready to go in the front door and windows while Captain Daneer’s force is in the tunnel on the way to the cellar of the Palace apartments. Reaching the hidden door Gerry stops the Captain from opening it for the moment. They’re about five metres ahead of the rest of this force, just Gerry, Lillian, and the Captain. Gerry takes a deep breath to calm himself and he extends his empathetic ability while he tunes out those with him.

Gerry turns to the Captain as he quietly says, “There’s two troops about one o’clock from the door; they’re worried, but not expecting any trouble down here. I think they hope to survive by being out of it.” Lillian and the Captain stare at Gerry with wide eyes. With a smile Gerry adds, “Being an empath can be very useful at times.”

Captain Daneer draws his pistol and he attaches a sound suppressor while Lillian unlocks and takes the bar off the hidden door. At the Captain’s nod she’s fast to slide the door open. Captain Daneer doesn’t take any chances because he’s quick to look for the soldiers to sight them, and he fires two fast shots. Both soldiers go down with head shots, and they’re dead before they even know they’re in danger. He follows his shots in to search the rest of the cellar. Gerry crosses to the stairway up. Both Lillian and Captain Daneer are staring at him as the two soldiers were exactly where he said they were; so they think, Maybe he can give them some advance warning of enemy troops.

Gerry stands there ready to move forward when signalled to do so. Captain Daneer looks at his watch while waiting for 5:20 p.m.; Major Pargrew had set that as the time to start the attack. Everyone usually uses the hour or the half hour so he figures they’ll be caught with their pants down just a little, but a useful little, since every little bit helps to keep his people alive.

At 5:20 p.m. the Dragon’s Teeth charge in the door and windows without any preparatory fire. They hold their fire until they see the Rebels responding to their attack. They get half-way across most of the rooms before the enemy reacts. The Teeth open fire and kill most of the Rebels in the immediate defensive positions before they can man their light machine-guns. By 5.21 p.m. the Dragon’s Teeth are flowing down the halls and through the rooms while blazing away at anything that moves. Several are knocked over by high powered rounds. They’re bruised and sore as hell, but happy to be in the Berant armour because those rounds would have breached their normal body armour and they’d be dead. The Rebels aren’t surprised to see the high powered rounds knock the Dragon’s Teeth down, but they’re very shocked when they see the shot troops stand up again. The Rebels fall back much faster than planned, and they’re taking heavier losses than expected. The Dragon’s Teeth keep moving forward and straight into the muzzles of the Rebel guns. Behind the Dragon’s Teeth come the medics of the Berant Royal Guards to treat and remove to the field hospital those few of the Dragon’s Teeth that are wounded in a way to warrant treatment and removal.

At 5.22 p.m. Captain Daneer nods to Gerry who takes care when he opens the door at the top of the cellar stairs. Gerry steps out and he moves to the very back of the Palace, it backs up to a thirty metre sheer cliff falling straight down to the river. Walking forward again he confirms there’s no enemy in these rear apartments. Back at the door he signals for the force to come up. Lillian and Captain Daneer soon join him and they slowly move forward. Avoiding the hall as much as possible they move from room to room. At the stairs to the upstairs apartments most of the force stops. Gerry leads the rest onward. When they near the front of the apartments he stops and he tells Captain Daneer how many Rebels are in which rooms, not many. It’s clear they intend for troops falling back to man most of the defences down here. Captain Daneer distributes his troops for this level and he takes Gerry back to the stairs.

Going upstairs in silence Gerry again heads forward. The front apartments are much more heavily manned and Captain Daneer distributes troops to deal with them. Again back to the stairs and up to the top floor. When he moves forward Gerry is surprised he can’t sense anyone on the roof. Oh well, that makes it easier.

Reaching one room, the third back from the front, he stops and he grins. A lot of very worried people are in a corner of the room. This is in the middle of the building so he suspects it’s the Generals. Captain Daneer sets his troops up for their attack on this level. With the extra depth in the centre room it’s going to be harder.

All along they can hear the fighting in the main palace, but now the sounds are increasing and getting louder. Major Pargrew informs them, via the radio, he’s about to enter the last set of rooms in the Palace. Captain Daneer turns to Princess Lillian, “Stay here, Your Highness.” Into his radio he says, “Scorpion, scorpion, scorpion.” The command signal for his force to charge into the rooms and attack the enemy.

The two hundred and thirty-six members of his force immediately burst into the rooms in front of them and they fire into the backs of the Rebels. All of the Teeth in this force have sound suppressors on their weapons so those in the garden won’t be aware of what’s happening as the Royalists hope the sounds of the main fight in front of them will mask their shooting. Most of the Rebels die before they realise they’re under attack. Those in the ground floor rooms die before they can turn around, so do most in the upper floors.

In the centre room of the top floor Gerry bursts into the room first. He’s wearing gloves and carrying two large wads of chemicals. Taking long loping strides he seems to fly across the room to reach the small knot of senior staff, and he slaps the wads across their faces. The fast acting sleeping agent he has puts them to sleep within seconds. He pushes himself through the centre of the group while administering the agent as he goes. Reaching the far side he slips the wads back into the special pouch he brought them in.

Captain Daneer and the troops with him are quick to eliminate the few other troops in the room. Then they enter the room in front. A short fierce battle follows, then they have control of the Royal apartments. Six Dragon’s Teeth die in the battle and several more are wounded. The force is fast to set up to fire into the gardens. For some reason the garden force doesn’t notice or react to the short fire-fight behind them. Maybe they didn’t hear it over the main battle in front of them, as the Royalists hoped would happen.

They’re all surprised the apartments are standing. The front walls on all three levels are mostly piles of rubble, so are the back walls of the main palace. Later investigation shows these weren’t weight bearing walls because they were designed to be removable when the Palace expanded. All of the weight is on the side walls and two interior walls which weren’t damaged in the earlier blasts, so they’re still standing in perfect condition.

Looking out into the gardens they can see Rebel troops spread out through the gardens. They’ve strong defensive positions and heavy machine-guns with plenty of ammunition on hand. When Captain Daneer reports the situation in the apartments Major Pargrew reports they’re having trouble gaining entry into the last sets of rooms. Looking about the room Gerry notices a large panel of toggle switches with a radio aerial sticking up from the panel set up in one corner.

Touching Captain Daneer’s shoulder he points at the panel while saying, “Now I wonder what that’s for!”

They grin at each other because it’s clear it’s the control for some planted explosives. Captain Daneer calls out, “Your Highness, do you think you can test these switches for me while I see what they do?”

With an ear to ear grin matched by all those present she walks over to the panel. Turning her radio onto the general broadcast frequency she says, “Dragon to all Teeth, prepare for some fireworks.” She waits a moment before she starts flicking the forty-eight switches.

Looking out into the gardens Gerry and Captain Daneer start to laugh while they watch good defensive positions blow up in the Rebels’ faces, literally in their faces because the charges are set to get people attacking the apartments and the Rebels are currently hiding behind those same strong points. The charges aren’t as deadly as they would have been against the attacking Dragon’s Teeth, but they’re deadly enough. The machine-guns are damaged and many of the Rebels are killed or wounded, mostly by the rubble exploding right in their faces or getting hit from behind or the side. Some switches set off anti-personnel mines set in the gardens and front palace back rooms to thin the herd out.

With the last switch activated Lillian nods at Captain Daneer, and he gives the order for his men to open fire on the remaining Rebels. The few Rebels in the gardens that lived through the explosives don’t last long before the fire directed at them from the three floors of the Royal apartments finishes them off.

The combined assault of the explosives and heavy machine-gun fire from the Royal apartments coming through the open walls into the main palace reduces the Rebel defenders in those rooms quite a bit as well. In the rooms the strong defensive positions against an inside attack are wide open to attack from the apartments. Elimination of these positions by Daneer’s force allows Pargrew’s troops to enter the rooms to deal with the last of the Rebels inside the rooms by killing them all. They were given the chance to surrender and they didn’t take it, so no quarter is being given now.

By 5:45 p.m. the Palace is retaken. Retaking the Palace came with a heavy price because seventy-four of the Dragon’s Teeth are dead with another two hundred and forty-seven wounded, but they’ll recover. The Dragon’s Teeth are ecstatic because they have their palace back and they did it themselves. Thus fulfilling their responsibilities. Only the several Rebel leaders Gerry drugged are taken alive. He wants them alive for information.

Loyal members of the Shukra Army enter the Palace to start the clean-up before the echoes of the final battle have finished bouncing off the walls. Within the hour the Clan Fathers gather to take away their dead. They’re given all of the help they want by the Royalist forces.

Prisoner Talks

At 7:00 p.m. the prisoners come out of their drug induced sleep to find themselves naked and securely strapped to chairs. The prisoners are General Ashmed, General Mendar, General Dungar, Minister Lubey, General Riley, and two of their aides. Colonel Sherman died in the Palace fighting while General Maskeer died at the Shuk River. All of the other major Rebel leaders have been confirmed dead. Waiting to interrogate them are Gerry, Lillian, and Brian with a few staff to carry out instructions. Gerry had drugged a few others, but they weren’t of interest so they were immediately executed.

Princess Lillian says, “You know the penalties for treason. Your property is forfeit, so are the lives of your family, so are the lives of your parents, your siblings, and their families.” They’re very concerned because they’d hoped their families would be spared if they died in combat. She says, “Give me a full confession of who you conspired with, when you spoke with them, lists of all your assets, and I’ll limit the deaths to yourselves.” After gulping hard Ashmed, Mendar, and Dungar agree. They’re taken out to be interrogated in other rooms. Lubey and Riley don’t respond to her.

Gerry is wearing the uniform of the Protector’s Own and his brown dress command helmet with the visor half down. He steps up to Lubey and raises his visor so Lubey can see his face when he lifts Lubey’s chin while saying, “Look at me, look into my eyes.” He looks up, and Gerry says, “I’ve died and been to hell, my soul remembers it well. They say the eyes are windows to the soul. Look into my soul and see what awaits you in hell if you don’t take this opportunity to repent. Let your soul see what awaits it. Look deep into my eyes.” While the others give Gerry an odd look Lubey looks deeper into his eyes. Suddenly his face contorts and he gives out an ear piercing scream. Collapsing into the chair as he cries he says, “I’ll talk, I’ll talk, please let me talk, please!” The others stare at Gerry while Lubey is taken to another room.

Dropping the visor back down Gerry turns to General Riley as he says, “General Riley, or should I say Lieutenant Colonel Riley Nielson, US Army Special Forces on indefinite deployment to the CIA since March two thousand and eight. Your third deployment with the CIA.” Riley is very shocked to learn they know all about him. A grinning Gerry adds, “You shouldn’t be surprised. Berant has been at war with U MAMA and the CIA for over fifty years, of course we’ve spies in both organisations. In many cases we get to see a CIA agent’s reports before their division head does.” He laughs at the look on Riley’s face. “Now, if you’ll name every CIA and U MAMA agent you’ve dealt with in Shukra and Berant we’ll be nice and send you home. Provided you resign from both the CIA and the US military. That’ll make your wife and daughter happy.”

With a shocked look Riley says, “I only dealt with the Rebel military officers and politicians.”

Gerry responds, “No point lying because I have copies of all your reports to your head of station. They list sixteen other people you’ve had contact with, and I already know of several you haven’t listed in your reports. Oh, that lovely long range speed boat you had lined up in case you needed it. Its owner is talking to my people in Bunar at the moment.”

Realising he’s truly cornered Riley starts talking. Intelligence agents record every word he has to say.


At 9:00 a.m. the media representatives at the Palace can hardly believe their eyes. Princesses Lillian and Nancy are standing on the back of a truck in the Shukra Royal Palace driveway. Led by General Jessica Tandar the Berant Royal Guards are leaving. They’re driving past and saluting the Shukra Royals. All of the newly raised militia, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th Raptors, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th Claymore, and the extra companies of the 1st Claymore are parading past the Palace entrance. The Berant Embassy security force has retired back inside the Embassy. Only the Protector’s Own are on hand, one company with Gerry and his command team while the rest are in the Embassy, off duty or helping the Shukra people with the clean-up. The media expected the Royal Guards to stay and take over control of Shukra. They’re surprised the troops are doing as promised and they’re going home immediately after defeating the Rebels. On the tail-end of the parade are C and E Companies of the King’s Guard. They’re on their way north to control the border crossings. The troop movements aren’t slow or hurried, and the last troops are parading by at 10:30 a.m. All of the Berant wounded were evacuated home by helicopter during the night, and the worst cases of the Shukra wounded went with them because Berant has better medical facilities and they aren’t already crowded with other wounded and injured.

Many refugees were flown in at the same time so there were no wasted flights. The Berant Protector’s Office has a website set up with the names, location, and condition of all refugees being protected by Berant forces, plus the details of those who were repatriated. The Shukra Clan Fathers have a section where they’re posting the names of those confirmed dead in the conflict. These sites are getting tens of thousands of hits each hour while people search for their families and loved ones.

At 11:00 a.m. Princess Lillian holds a press conference on the steps of the Palace. Standing in front of the blown open doors she has Princess Nancy standing a bit behind her on her right with Gerry standing beside her, as is usual he’s wearing his combat gear. Princess Opal is standing a little behind her on her left with Major Pargrew beside her. The media are on the driveway a few metres in front of this group with their cameras showing them framed by the damaged doorway and the bullet marked palace front wall. Citizens fill the rest of the gardens with security provided by two companies of the Dragon’s Teeth and two platoons of the Shields. The rest of Gerry’s protecting company are spread throughout the surrounding buildings. The Teeth are spread throughout the crowd with one squad on each side of the Palace steps and inside each side of the driveway entrance.

Knowing the media sound technicians will adjust the sound of her voice in the microphones Lillian raises her voice to reach the crowd physically present as she says, “We’ve come through a tough time. Sadly, we don’t have time to mourn our dead properly. We must quickly get started on rebuilding our lives, our families, our clans, and our country. Much of our infrastructure is damaged and it needs to be repaired or replaced. Our citizens who were lucky enough to be able to flee from the battles are returning as quickly as they can safely do so. For those of you looking for loved ones the Berant Protector’s Office has established a website listing everyone in the refugee camps or who was in the refugee camps with their current location or the place and date of their repatriation. The Clan Fathers also have space on the site listing the names of those confirmed dead. Because we don’t have as extensive an Internet access as Berant has View Port Internet is setting up temporary access points in all of the major towns and cities. People may visit these offices and check those pages free of charge. I’ll take this opportunity to formally thank VPI for this service and to also thank the Berant citizens and government for their help. I also wish to thank all of the other governments who provided assistance to the refugees, especially Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Canada, and Holland.” She stops to glance at her notes.

She’s about to speak again when Gerry pushes Nancy into her to knock them both to the ground when he draws a pistol while yelling “Viper, twelve o’clock, low.” In the second or two it takes for this to happen he’s moved to the left and shooting at a small group of men on the back of a truck in front of the Palace gateway. The sound of his pistol is drowned out by a short burst of heavy machine-gun fire from the men. Lillian sees the heads of the men burst apart just before she’s hit by Gerry falling onto her legs. He’d taken the full burst of the machine-gun in the chest because he was standing right where she’d been until he pushed her. The Shields and Teeth respond by standing in front of her and Nancy as well as climbing all over the truck. Two more gunmen are killed and three are taken prisoner. It’s all over before the crowd can react, and many people scream just as it finishes.

Angie races over to Gerry to roll him off of Nancy and Lillian before she tears the remains of his jacket open. Lillian is sure he’s dead because he couldn’t survive a burst from a heavy machine-gun at such close range. She can’t help herself and she giggles with relief when she hears him say, with a plaintive voice that’s very much like a little boy’s whine, “The bloody right ribcage, why is it always the bloody right ribs they have to keep busting. Damn, that hurts. Hurry up and give me a decent pain killer, they’ve broken my ribs again.”

With a foolish grin on her face Angie does just that while telling the Princesses, “It’s good they shot him in the right ribcage as he’s had that patched so often it’s almost all Nolar, the material our body armour is made of. So he has an extra layer of armour there.” To him she says, “Because of that you should be glad they hit you there.”

With a weak smile he stares back as he says, “Not while the ribs hurt, love, not while the ribs hurt.” They all laugh at him. Angie stands up and she walks into the Palace. Two of the Shields help Gerry to his feet then they help him to stagger after her. Inside the Palace she strips his body armour off to examine the damage: three broken ribs, a badly bruised chest, and a totalled set of body armour. He’s hurt, but alive. Except for his quick action Lillian would have been turned into hamburger meat.

On the Palace steps Major Pargrew is placing a set of Berant body armour on Princess Lillian despite all of her protests and active hindrance. She stops arguing when she sees Nancy calmly accepting the assistance of a corporal of the Shields to put on a set of body armour. A few minutes later she’s ready to resume her speech.

Standing before the microphone Lillian says, “I’m sorry about the interruption. It seems some of our enemies are bad losers. General Mannheim is only lightly wounded, thanks to his excellent body armour. You may notice I’m now wearing the latest in recommended accessories for public speakers, thanks to Major Pargrew.” The crowd laughs, and she continues, “In the days before he died my father, King Ahdeed, told me we live in the time of legends and it’s now time for the two reeds to become one again. The old prophecy has been fulfilled with the exception of the re-joining of Shukra and Berant. That reunion will occur in the near future. I’ve spoken with King Harold and we’ve agreed the anniversary of our separation is the ideal time for the reunion. We’ve eight months to get the country in order and ready for the reunion. However, before I finalise everything I’m arranging for a plebiscite to be held on the reunion. The Australian Government has graciously agreed to organise and supervise the vote in eight weeks’ time. I hope your vote will support the reunion, and I encourage you to vote for it. The reunion is inevitable. The oldest eligible living male of the blood is only eight years of age. The only adult in-law eligible to be a regent is Princess Nancy’s husband, General Mannheim. Appointing him as regent for ten years or more would only delay the reunion. General Mannheim has other responsibilities and is a member of Clan Amir as he’s their Clan Father. It seems silly to appoint the Amir Clan Father as our regent to avoid having the Amir King as our King. Especially since the reunion has been promised by seers and they tell us of great prosperity following the reunion.” She stops to let that sink in, reunion equals wealth and growth. She continues, “I don’t expect us to get wealthy overnight, but I do expect the unified country to have a much better economic base and economic growth. We’ve all seen how well Berant’s economy has grown in the last few decades and reunion will join us to that growth. What used to be the country of Dareed has done well out of losing their war with Berant, and it’s now doing well as an integral part of the Berant economy. I expect us to be able to do better and to get up to the Berant standard in just a few years.”

Hearing a noise behind her she stops to turn and look at the Palace entrance. Walking with great care, and wearing a new set of body armour, Gerry exits the Palace and he returns to his place beside Nancy. Nancy smiles and gives him a hug. Grimacing a little he says, “Please, love, not so hard on the hug, the ribs are a bit sore.” Knowing he wouldn’t joke if his injuries were serious she’s relieved. Her grin widens while she drops her arms from around his chest and she takes hold of his left hand with her right hand. Looking at Lillian he says, loud enough for the microphones to hear, “I’m glad to see you’re properly dressed, now.” With a strong emphasis on the ’now.’ While smiling at him Lillian nods yes. She glances at Angie walking out of the Palace, and is reassured by her nod. He has medical approval to return to his place on the steps.

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