They were only five miles from the Coleo River and the border with Rubicon. And what a show of strength! Tanks, helicopters, armoured vehicles and thousands of troops. They knew they were being watched - that was the point.
Captain Allan had operational responsibility for tank targeting. He was annoyed top brass were in his command center - they took the edge off his crew's work. Colonel Rodman was `being in charge' putting his nose into everything and desperate to impress everyone especially Elle; he still couldn't keep his mind off Elle's cleavage.
John Morgan took great pleasure in the Colonel's obsession with his possession. And Elle w5JohnMorgan had been well trained; she knew war wasn't women's business; her job was to support her husband and show his status. She was dressed impeccably as usual; a red suit, low cleavage, short skirt, high heels, accurate but not overdone make-up and not a hair out of place. Her surgeon would have been proud.
This was the bit Captain Allan hated the most; Colonel Rodman decided to relieve him for ten minutes so he could fire off a few rounds and show everyone that he was still `in touch'. Although the talk around the Captain's mess was - the reason Rodman got the desk job that led to his promotion to Colonel was because he was useless in the field.
And not only did he have to put up with Colonel Rodman - much much worse - he had Brigadier Chappell, the Minister and a suit. He guessed Attache Hargraves was from the Institute. But then again there was the Minister's woman - very soft on the eye.
Colonel Rodman, "Minister ... and Madam Minister we can enhance the accuracy of the range-finders by combining the output of any number of tanks' range-finders; that means the baseline is longer and so the estimate is far more accurate - down to a few inches in fact. Madam Minister would you like to fire the next round - we'll do the calculations for you."
She looked to her husband to know what to say.
John Morgan, "Do it Elle - dead easy."
Captain Allan was cringing by now; he could see two of his corporals starting to smirk.
Colonel Rodman, "Now Elle when the corporals have dialed in the range and direction they call out `target locked' and then .."
Captain Rodman noded to one of his corporals.
Corporal, "Target locked."
Colonel Rodman, ".. and you push this button, and away."
Elle took the button from Rodman; he was starting to sweat; he could smell her perfume; his blood pressure started to rise. The Captain noded to the corporal again.
Corporal, "Target locked."
She pushed the button and everyone looked out the window - a hit.
John Morgan, jumping forward "You did it! Great work, Elle."
Elle, "I'm sure the hit had a lot more to do with the corporal's targeting. Thank you corporal." The smile she gave him could sink any ship.
The corporal almost fainted - to be acknowledged by such a beautiful and important woman. "Thank you, ma,am."
John Morgan, "Colonel, I'd like to fire a rally. See that tree over on the hill."Colonel, "Now corporals target the minister's tree please."
The Captain nods.
Morgan picks up the button and pushes it. All three rounds hit a munitions dump 500 meters south of the tree.
Morgan is horrified. "How did that happen?"
Captain Allan, "Corporal, confirm target."
"It was - and still is the tree on the hill. tank 1 - range 2021 yards 97 degrees, tank 2 2047 yards 96 degrees, tank 3 2056 92 degrees. All three on target, Sir."
John Morgan, with bravado, "I just don't have your touch, do I Elle?"
Brigadier Chappell, "Captain can I see a radar trace of those shells."
"I'll request it Sir!"
Attache Hargraves, "Do you think it's them again."
Brigadier Chappell, "I hope not."
"Radar trace on screen."
The radar trace showed that about a third along their trajectories the shells veered off their courses and went straight for the shed. It was as if they had been re-targeted by someone else.
"They've done it to shells this time."
Attache Hargraves, "Minister, Brigadier you need to deal with this!"
"Brigadier Chappell to all operational commanders. Cease all fire. Target as per Rubicon Invasion plan C. Remain on high alert."
© Copyright 1999, Julie Peters