6 - Clan Amir: The Shukra War
Copyright 2007 by Ernest Bywater as Ernest Edwards
Just before 6:30 a.m. spies inform King Ahdeed the rebels will strike today. He relays the information to his loyal field commanders and the Shuken Clan Father. Mardrik passes the information onto his people, and thus to the public at large. The remaining palace retainers grab their things and they leave the palace for places of safety.
With the remaining Dragon’s Teeth of B Company for protection Princess Opal leads the people out of the palace. They go through a secret tunnel from the private apartments’ cellar to the cellar of a house three streets away. Coming up through the house they tell the family of retired palace staff the situation and they join the group. Leaving the house they take care while they walk through over a kilometre of back streets and lanes to avoid any troops that may be in the main roads. Reaching a car sales yard they go to a number of prepared vans in the yard and they collect the hidden keys. After climbing into the vans they drive off to travel the back streets to the Berant Embassy. At 7:30 a.m. they arrive at the embassy after a slow trip of the sixteen kilometres separating the two places. The palace is in the north-western sector of Shumeer while the Berant Embassy is in the north-eastern quadrant with most of the other major embassies nearby. The Guards on duty are fast to admit them.
The Captain in charge of the Dragon’s Teeth confers with the Major in charge of the embassy defences. They soon have small groups of Teeth and Swords deployed into the streets around the embassy. Legally the Dragon’s Teeth are in charge of these groups. Tactically the Swords are in charge. Their job is to protect the refugees making for the embassy and to give a warning of any attacks heading their way.
Just on 7:45 a.m. Colonel Van Hearn, like the rest of his regiment, is crossing the vehicle yard toward his tank, many of his troops are already on or in their tanks. Maintenance staff are doing some checks on the two hundred and one tanks of the 1st Armoured Regiment. He’s happy because the rebellion starts today and tomorrow he’ll be a senior general with a district of his own to govern. Suddenly all hell breaks loose. Armour piercing rockets fly down from the rooftops to smash into the engine decks and turrets of the tanks, destroying most of them while setting their remains on fire.
Nearly all of his men are still able to draw their side arms and machine pistols. They start shooting at the troops on the roofs. Those already at the tanks, and still alive, turn the turret mounted heavy machine-guns on the attackers. Light machine-guns reply from the rooftops while dead and wounded troops fall all over the yard. The rockets are exploding and sending shrapnel in amongst his troops as well as damaging his precious tanks, many of which have burst into flames.
Fifteen minutes of fierce fighting later all of the attackers are dead, one hundred and seventy-four tanks are burning wrecks plus the three hundred maintenance staff are dead or dying, so are eight hundred and seventy-four members of his elite tank crews. In fifteen minutes two platoons, he’d counted them during the short fight, have destroyed eighty-seven percent of his tanks and killed ninety percent of his men. He wouldn’t have believed it possible if he hadn’t seen it done for himself. Twenty-seven tanks are operational with four of them short crewed, and only two with crews that are used to working together, even then only one crew is in its original tank. What a mess!
Getting the remains of the 1st Armoured Regiment together he moves out. Just down the road he meets up with his troop support from the 5th Regiment. They’re on the move to investigate the gunfire. The plan calls for one company of the 5th plus twenty tanks to be deployed to Shukra International Airport on the southern edge of Shumeer. Colonel Van Hearn decides to scrap that plan for now and he has the whole of the 5th Regiment deploy with his remaining tanks. So they all head toward the palace, because it’s their primary target.
At 8:15 a.m. the 1st Armoured and the 5th Regiment are moving along a main road heading to the palace. They’re passing in front of an abandoned furniture factory when the front of the factory bursts into flame, rocket flame that is. Waves of armour piercing rockets fly out of the windows at the tanks. The rocket aimed at the Colonel’s tank slams into the side armour. Exploding, it throws shrapnel backward into the troops of the 5th Regiment to kill several and wound many more of them. Part of the tank’s armoured side punches into the tank to spray chunks of white hot metal around the tank’s interior. One piece the size of a peach stone flies at the Colonel. He’s standing on a platform with his head and shoulders out of the top of the turret while he looks around while they drive down the road.
The hot metal flies upward from the impact point to hit low down on his left hip, just below the vest of his body armour. Smashing his hip into four pieces it deflects upward to slice a burning path through his stomach. Passing just below his right shoulder blade it tries to exit. The well fitted body armour does its job well when it resists the metal’s attempt to pierce it. The Colonel is thrown violently against the side of the tank. The pain of the broken hip and the tunnel of burnt tissue slams at him, and he screams. The pain of his injuries are nothing, not when compared to the pain caused by the white hot shrapnel trapped against his shoulder blade by his body armour. Colonel Van Hearn’s dreams of power and glory end in his screams of agony while he takes a few minutes to die. The other crew members have it easy because the rocket’s entry is at their head height and they’re all killed without knowing what’s happening.
Three waves of rockets fly at the tanks, and all of the tanks are turned into burning wrecks. Many of the crews are already dead while the rest are screaming their lives away in the flames. A few hundred soldiers of the 5th Regiment who’d been moving along beside the tanks as infantry support are lying in the street, dead or dying.
With the opening wave of rockets most of the 5th Regiment drop into defensive positions and they open fire on the attackers. Colonel Lacey, commander of the 5th Regiment, orders his troops to attack the building. With the destruction of the tanks the attackers turn their fire upon the troops of the 5th Regiment.
Rockets and light machine-guns open up on the troops of the 5th Regiment. Anti-personnel rockets inflict heavy casualties, so does the rifle and machine-gun fire. The Fifth returns fire as best as they can in their cover and support of the two companies of troops entering the factory grounds to take the fight to the enemy within the factory.
Twenty-five minutes later the troops who entered the factory report the attackers are dead and they’re a platoon of the Eye Teeth, A Company of the King’s Guard.
Colonel Lacey looks at his command, what’s left of it that is: four hundred and eighty-five dead, two hundred and thirty-six badly wounded. Seven hundred and twenty-one of his one thousand and three hundred troops are casualties before the main battle starts. It’s obvious this isn’t a great secret sneak attack on the King. Placing Major Wickers, his second in Command, in charge of the Regiment he takes a Jeep and he goes to the regional airport. He’s leaving while he still can. At the airport he climbs into his personal light plane and he takes off, heading west and well away from Shukra. He’s a lot smarter than you’d expect from a rebel, because he knows when it’s over and it’s time he should cut and run. His great ambition had been to be a governor, but now it’s to stay alive.
Shumeer in General
Bus drivers in southern Shumeer hear the gunfire at both the tank base and the old factory. They stop to talk on their radios while they try to find out what’s happening. One driver near the factory, an ex-soldier, reports on what he can see. Dragon’s Teeth firing on army tanks, so it’s a rebellion. The Berant Embassy radio listening post hears their talks.
A few minutes later Princess Opal interrupts their talking to inform them part of the army is in open revolt with backing from foreign mercenaries. Citizens are urged to flee the city or to seek sanctuary at the Berant Embassy. The Berant government has offered sanctuary to any Shukra citizens that can reach them. Those near the Berant Embassy look toward it. It has two flag poles on its roof. The Berant flag is on one pole and the personal pennant of Princess Opal, the Orange Dragon, is flying on the other. Her pennant can only be flown when she’s present and she’s the senior royal there, so this shows she’s at the Berant Embassy.
In independent decisions the bus drivers, many with their normal load of school children, decide to take their charges to safety. While they drive to their new destinations they stop to pick up any more children they see. They totally ignore safe loading limits, so many buses are soon squashing room only. Those near the start of their runs continue their runs to collect their children: the ones they pick up every day. All of the drivers pass the word about the rebellion and the sanctuaries. The buses in southern Shumeer head for the airport. On arrival at the airport the police direct them onto the airfield where the buses unload direct into planes. The children are being sent to safety. Unloaded, the buses head back to the city for more refugees. The buses in the depots depart to pick up people to take them to safety. All of the drivers are doing all they can to help the people escape the dangers of the rebellion.
The buses near the Berant Embassy head to it. Unloading in the embassy grounds they depart to get more people. Huge lines of people are passing into the grounds of all of the major foreign embassies because they all have their gates open with armed troops deployed to protect the people seeking safety. Ambassador Shambai had phoned and warned them all at 7:40 a.m.
At the airport planes are loading, when a plane is loaded it departs to take the people to the nearest safe harbour of Berant International Airport. Most incoming flights divert. A few almost empty planes land, and they leave full of refugees, most of whom are children. The local staff of the international airlines are doing what little they can as tickets aren’t needed by the refugees. This act of kindness is very much appreciated by all involved. In only a few cases are the local managers able to get head office approval before doing this, so most are approved by only the local managers; so they’re putting their jobs at risk by their largess to the refugees, a risk they’re prepared to take to protect the children and the other innocent people.
Shukra Royal Palace
At 8:15 a.m. General Mendar is waiting to storm the palace. He has the 2nd and 4th Regiments, the 5th Regiment and the 1st Armoured are supposed to be here to support him and to secure the surrounding area. A few minutes later he learns the 5th Regiment and the 1st Armoured are under fire in southern Shumeer. He decides to act without them.
The 2nd Regiment charges in the gate, and they’re met with light rifle fire. They’re fast while they cross the front garden and drives. Reaching the front doors they charge in. Light machine-gun fire stops the first dozen troops dead; literally, because they’re killed outright. The rest of the regiment moves in, grenades and small arms fire is directed in the windows and doorway. The defensive fire stops. When the rebel troops enter the palace they find two of the King’s Guards are dead in the entrance hallway and a damaged light machine-gun lies between them.
The 2nd Regiment moves into the building. They split up to check every room, as per the plan. The 4th Regiment moves in behind them, and it leaves a small force to cover the entrance against a counter attack. Two thousand six hundred rebel troops, less the few killed getting here, spread out through the palace.
The rebels are met with light resistance while they move through the palace, it’s clear the Dragon’s Teeth are falling back. No one expects them to make a stand, not until the Royal Apartments and that’s what the tanks were wanted for, to blast the apartments with shells. Now they’ll have to take them the hard way with a frontal ground troop attack. After fifteen minutes of cautious fighting with small losses the 2nd Regiment reaches the central gardens. The Dragon’s Teeth have set up strong defences in the windows and doorways of the apartments. The 4th Regiment set up machine-guns in the windows of the upper two floors of the official palace then they all pour heavy fire into all the windows and doorways across the gardens while the 2nd Regiment prepares for a charge across the gardens.
The heavy machine-gun fire causes losses on both sides, with much more amongst the rebels than the defenders, due to the defenders’ positions having been better set up in advance.
All is ready. The 2nd Regiment bursts out of the building when they pour out the doors and windows to charge across the garden. It’s so full of troops they have to go forward because they can’t go back, due to the press being so tight. Many of those wounded or killed by machine-gun and rifle fire don’t have room to fall to the ground, and those that do are soon squashed by the following troops. The whole of the 2nd Regiment are in the garden, just on one thousand three hundred fighting soldiers.
Their whole world explodes and the garden is filled with fire and screams as over four hundred Broadsword mines detonate at once, many at head height. They make short work of the 2nd Regiment, and it’s no more because they’re nearly all dead with only a few dozen still dying. The mines have blasted their shrapnel across the gardens to smash into necks and faces to tear the soldiers’ lives from them. Some are aimed low and they tear their legs off as well.
The defenders fire anti-personnel rockets at the attackers in the windows to kill many more troops and damage some machine-guns. The rebels return rocket fire. Both sides direct heavy fire across the garden at each other.
Waiting in hidden rooms King Ahdeed and the remaining three platoons of the Eye Teeth are listening to reports from the Lieutenant commanding the defence of the apartments. Judging his time the King orders the counter attack. The King’s Guard are led by the King when they burst through the side wall of the main reception room.
They come out firing full-auto, and they kill all in the room. Two squads split off to head to the front of the palace, and they kill all they meet because they know the only people they’ll meet are rebels. The rest turn toward the apartments and they charge through the halls. Weapons on full-auto while they scream like banshees as they also kill all they meet. Some die at each encounter because they can’t catch the enemy unaware, so they’re trying to scare them - thus the loud battle cries.
Reaching the dining room beside the garden they burst in. Here the rebels have had a little time to get ready for them. King Ahdeed is first in, and he’s hit by heavy machine-gun fire. He charges at the machine-gun and he takes out the crew. The remainder of the attack force follows him in. Colonel Daneer opens up on the rebels in the room while he trips his radio and says, “The King is dead, long live the King. Go, get our people out.” A moment later he’s killed in a grenade blast.
In the rooms across the garden the Lieutenant in charge hears the Colonel’s message. Sighing, he says, “It’s over, we’re ordered out. Pull the pins, let’s go.” He’s very reluctant when he, with the fifteen men of his command still alive, leave their positions and their twenty-six dead companions after activating some explosives timers. A few minutes later they all meet up near the back of the apartments when those from the upper floor come down the back stairs. They go down to the cellar and they exit through the secret tunnel. They’re careful to close, bar, and lock it behind them as they know no more friendly forces will be following them through the exit and tunnel.
In the palace silence is slow to settle in when the firing ends. General Mendar looks around the room and he recognises the King and the commander of the King’s Guard amongst the dead. There’s no fire from across the garden. He sends troops to investigate. A captain takes a company strength force out into the garden. Crossing it they climb over the barricades to enter the apartments to find the many dead Dragon’s Teeth there, but no living people. The whole apartment area is empty with no royal family members, no retainers, no palace staff. They’ve all gone, somehow. He radios this to General Mendar.
Many troops wander out into the gardens to see if any of their friends are still alive, while others wander into the royal apartments to examine them as they behave like macabre tourists.
General Mendar is talking on the radio to General Ashmed while he tells him of the situation in the palace. He wanders back toward the front of the palace while he talks.
A moment later the timers reach the end of their programs and dozens of packages of explosives concealed in the apartments detonate. Once again the gardens are covered with flame and shrapnel when the front of the royal apartments explodes across the gardens. All of those in the front rooms of the apartments, the back rooms of the official palace, and the gardens are killed. The whole palace is shaken by the combined explosion. Much of the back wall of the palace is blown in by the explosions or chunks of the apartment’s wall blown across the gardens. Deeper in the palace General Mendar is knocked off his feet by the shock wave.
Of the 2nd and 4th Regiments only forty-five are still alive, nearly two thousand six hundred rebels are killed in taking the palace. That’s four regiments all but wiped out in the opening actions of the rebellion.