Caspian Hope – Written By Stephen Fahey. Part 66

“I think we’d be better off waiting for our runner get back before we launch our assault on the port, Sir.”

“If we wait till the last second and something goes wrong then we’ve all had it.”

“We’ll have to time this to perfection, Sir. I’ll do it.”

“I need you at the port, Tony. We’re gonna have all sorts coming down on us.”

“Sir,” he agreed, dejectedly.

“Who will get the run then, Sir?”

“I haven’t decided yet.”

“What about Glynn, Sir?”

“No. I can’t trust him.”

“Sir.”

“Mull it over yourselves, gentlemen. I’m gonna put my head down.”

“I’ll take this shift, L2. You go ahead.”

“Aye, aye.”

It was a dog rough call to make. We had some great runners in the unit but nobody that could cover that stretch of ground quick enough. Even at a gallop we’d have to hold the port for half an hour and we didn’t have ammunition enough to sustain that long an engagement. With all our guns on the port and even using grenades to lay traps and disable other boats, we had to give the runner a head start before we took the port. There was no way around it. The question then was; how long of a head start could I give? I’d need to know the layout of the port first so I could gauge the time it would take to get our hands on a boat and setup for defence against the inevitable attack. I’d need reconnaissance. And that could delay our escape by another day.

“Bacon, wake up.”

“Sir. What is it, Sir?”

“I have a mission for you.”

“Sir?”

“I need you to get up to the port and give me the lay of the land.”

“Sir. Yes, Sir.”

“I don’t need to tell you that this is vital, I need every detail you can give me. And I need you to go now. I know daylight reconnaissance is a tall order, Soldier, but I know that you can do it. Just get up there and back again on the double.”

“I’ll have to swim for it a good part of the way. Probably be three hours, Sir.”

“That’ll have to do. Get yourself ready.”

“Sir.”

“Hey, Collins.”

“Sir?”

“Wake up, Collins. I have a task for you.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“I’m sending Bacon up the shore to scout the port. I want you at the half way marker to relay his notes if necessary, and to pull him out of any shit that might come down on him.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Get ready now. He’s setting up as we speak.”

Sir!

And off they went. With three hours to kill I let the men sleep and stepped aside to decide who would be assigned the sabotage mission. There, sitting in the sand with my thoughts, I searched my soul. This was the one mission type all commanders hate to give a solider. That was the job though. I owed it to my men to make that call and I wasn’t going to let my own feelings get in the way.

“Sir?”

“What is it, Glynn?”

“Sir. I was talking to L2 and he told me about the depot.”

“What about it?”

“Sir. I know what you all think of me, and I know I don’t deserve this. But I want the depot job. I’ll take whatever time they give me back home, Sir; I need to redeem myself in your eyes and unit’s eyes. Please, Sir. Let me do this. It’s my last chance to regain my honour. And the last chance I’d get to wash the disgrace off of my family name.”

“I can’t, Glynn. What if you do it again? We’d all be killed.”

I had to give it to him, he came forward, but I couldn’t risk all of our lives on him. Not after what he did to Tony.

“I swear on my life, Sir. I won’t let you down.”

“No.”

“Please, Sir.”

“That’s my final word, Glynn.”

Sir,” he said, resigned to his shame.

“Swanson.”

“Sir?”

“Come with me.”

“Sir.”

I walked away from the rest of the men, but no more than a few feet. I wanted them to hear what I had to say.

“Swanson. I need you to sabotage the oil depot to the east tonight and then get back to the port where we’ll be holding a boat until you arrive. There is absolutely no room for error. No matter what, you must blow that depot sky high. Do you understand me, Swanson?”

Snapping to attention, and pausing for a brief acknowledging moment, with pride he said “Sir. Yes, Sir.”

“Soldier, prepare yourself.”

“Sir.”

I could see that the other men were listening, and I could see the look of relief in their eyes, and the disappointment in Glynn’s. They needed to hear that. They needed to know, for themselves, that I would do what had to be done. And even more so, I needed them to know. Because they had faith in me they would have faith in themselves and each other.

To be continued…

© Stephen Fahey

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