Caspian Hope – Written By Stephen Fahey. Part 65

More and more private jetties lay stripped along our way. After spotting three more dotted along the shore it sank in that we were going to have to go to Atyrau to find a boat. It was a sore realisation. The city used to be a fort and at the mouth of the Ural River it was a vital part of the national infrastructure. As such, Serik was bound to have pumped considerable manpower and material into safeguarding it. There was an airport and an oil depot there. And the Ural wound its way back and forth through the city providing the hundred thousand residents with several areas that were surrounded by water on three sides. These areas were all too easily protected and in military parlance they were a “fucking nightmare” to attack. In short, the city was a death trap. 

By the time we reached the city limits most if not all of the residence had got the hell out. It looked deserted through our binoculars that morning. To the south, at about two miles from the city centre, there lay a large body of water, it looked like a fishery. The seaport, our main target lay to the west. And the oil depot was to the east. Beyond the city, to the north, the airport lay silent – no planes were flying in or out. Serik wasn’t letting anybody use the runway, but at least he wasn’t using it for himself. Almost all of the land was flat and while that gave us a great broad view it exposed also us to spotters and enemy fire during the day.

“We’ll have to go by night. Damn it! I’d hoped for any cover, but this place is flat as a slab.”

“I know, Sir. At least we can move quickly by foot though.”

“Thanks, Baldy. What do you make of the port?”

“Sir. It’s at least a thousand yards from the city proper, Sir. We could probably swim up the shore and nab a vessel, but there’s bound to be a contingent just waiting to give chase. It looks like fishing vessels only, Sir. Maybe twenty of them, hard to tell. They’d be to too slow for an escape but they might do if we can sabotage our pursuers.”

“What about the oil depot?”

“Eastern limit of the city and fenced off, it’s likely heavily guarded. Oil will be Serik’s bread and butter if he holds the country – he’ll need oil money as political muscle. By night we could sabotage it, but his best men will likely be watching it. It would make a good distraction though, Sir.”

“You read my mind, Baldy. Only problem is the depot is on the eastern end of the city and the port is on the west. We’d need to be in two places at once and whoever I send east will have to get back west to port to come with us. It’s a fucking suicide mission.”


And there we lay. Facing north on our bellies while the rest of the unit slept. We had left the truck behind the last few dunes on the shore before the grasslands began. The fields of grass were too low to conceal it, but they were a welcome change from the sand.

“Go on and turn in. Send L2 and Longshot up to me and tell Collins to relieve Pretty Boy.”


As Baldy walked off I watched the city. I was beautiful in its way. Hundreds of years of history and culture lay within it. And yet it was all in the hands of a madman. God knows how many lives he’d taken by that point and how many more were to die because of him. There was no way on God’s green Earth that I was gonna let any more of my men be added to that list. The grasslands between us the fishery was more brown than green, like some Dutch painting. They were bleak, but they were alive, unlike the desert. After all the marching I’d had my fill of sand.

The city seemed to rise up out of the swampy grasslands like some creature. The low buildings didn’t reach up higher than a few storeys, and they had the appearance of being strewn about. The old town that the city was built on top of had obviously left its mark. Gone, but not forgotten.


“Tony, Robert. Take a pew.”


“Our ticket out of here is the oil depot to the east, but someone is going to have to sabotage it while the rest of us take the port. This time tomorrow we’ll be on the water.”

Damn, Sir. That sounds good to me!” declared Longshot.

“Amen!” added L2.

“The depot is four miles from shore so whoever gets the mission will have to run for their lives across the grasslands by night and we can only hold off any pursuers for a matter of minutes.”

“What if we head out and swing back, Sir?”

“Could be done. Serik’s boys on land could pick us off if we get close to the shore again though.”

To be continued…

© Stephen Fahey

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