A Quiet Blow-up


Ryan Rose

Author's note

This story is based on a mission from the game Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines. The version I have is a trial version with four missions, each of which I will write as a story. These are practice for a larger story I will write soon, hopefully.

Take note: I refer to their characters strictly by their nicknames, or their job (Note that the Green Beret is NOT Army Special Forces. They weren't created until 1953. Though I forget its designation, there was a unit in World War II known as the Green Berets.). I have also changed details to make the story flow more smoothly and to make it more realistic. For instance, I added weather. To be precise, snow. For any of you who have played the game, you know that when someone runs through snow, they leave tracks. Those tracks gradually disappear. The only way this can happen is if they are filled in with snow. That only happens when it's snowing. Another point. In the game, the diver uses SCUBA gear, or the Aqua-Lung. In fact, the Aqua-Lung wasn't invented until 1943, so I have substituted the LARU, the Lambertson Amphibious Respiratory Unit. I've scaled things up a bit. In the game, things are often no more than a couple of hundred feet away, and some things are far too small for their intended purpose. That's about it.

Happy reading.

Storfjord area, Norway

March, 1941

It was snowing. That was good. Sure, it was spring, but it was spring in Norway, and that made it damned cold. But the snow reduced visibility for the German soldiers. It reduced visibility for the commandos as well, but they would manage. It muffled the sound of their feet crunching on the snow. Most importantly, the snow filled in their tracks. They didn't need some snoopy Nazi following their footprints. They would have to use their guns, and that was the last thing they wanted.

The insertion had been easy enough. No, that wasn't right. It was never easy. Routine enough. No, that wasn't right either. It was never routine. It had gone off without a hitch. That was as close as it ever got to easy or routine. They had parachuted into the forest a week ago, and had slowly worked their way to the target zone. After a quick reconnaissance, they'd dug their way under a fence and entered an empty portion of the camp. In fact, everything on this side of the river was empty. All of the German resources had been consolidated inside the compound housing the fuel depot they'd been assigned to destroy. The only things on this side were three guards. There was also a patrol boat the cruised up and down the river. Once inside, they had all entered the building inside the fence. All except the Green Beret.

The Green Beret, "Tiny," was glad that the guards weren't SS. They were a lot better than regular Wehrmacht troops. If they'd been SS, there would have been a guard inside the fence. But they weren't SS.

Tiny looked through the gate, watching the patrol of one guard and timing it on his watch. He crawled to the other gate and timed that guard. He did a quick calculation in his head and figured out when to head out. When the time came, he took off.

Gefreiter Johann Göring hated Norway. It had been snowing for the past three days, and it was March. How crazy was that? He smiled to himself. Maybe Hitler will do something about that when the war's over. He smiled again. Maybe Uncle Hermann will send the Luftwaffe to bomb the snow out of existence. Johann Göring was no relation to Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, but it was a joke among friends. And to be honest, people often asked if they were related.

Gefreiter Göring heard the crunch of footsteps in the snow, but thought nothing of it. There were two other guards nearby and they were both walking at a fast pace to keep warm. He didn't notice that the footsteps didn't belong to a fast walk, but to a run. He was too busy wondering if his ears would fall off from frostbite.

He was five steps down the path his feet had worn in the snow when he saw the footprints. They weren't his. They were coming from behind the fence. He ran, following the tracks. Nothing. There was nothing. Nothing? Yes, nothing. The tracks started behind the fence and ended at the start of his patrol zone. He headed back to his zone, thinking he should tell Unteroffizier Braun, but he decided against it. The snow was already filling in the tracks, and the tracks lead nowhere. Braun would just say the cold was getting to him.

He started his patrol again.

Tiny heard the muffled crunch of footsteps in the snow. Following his tracks, he knew. He hoped to God the Kraut wouldn't notice the snow he'd disturbed when he'd buried himself. The steps grew louder as the guard came back, the softer as he started his patrol. This was it.

The Green Beret leaped to his feet, not taking the time to shake the snow off, unsheathing his knife as he ran. He grabbed the guard, clamping his left hand across the mouth while the right hand brought the knife to his throat. He cut deep, to make sure he hit the target. The dying man fell to the ground, unable to make a sound because his vocal chords had been cut.

Tiny furiously dug at the snow, trying to make a hole big enough to lay in. He had only a few seconds before another guard saw the body. He covered himself in snow and lay quietly for maybe three seconds before he heard the unintelligible cry that signaled the corpse's discovery. Moments later he heard another cry as the second guard saw the body. For a second time, the footsteps drew closer. They milled around for a few moments, and he heard them cry out to the compound across the river. No one answered. He didn't hear them at any rate. The feet receded into the distance.

Tiny got up out of the snow as quietly as possible and ran to a new location two yards away and much closer to the house. He reburied himself, knowing that the other two guards would be jumpy after having their friend mysteriously killed in a "secure" area. He was right. He heard the crunching snow moments later. Then a few moments after that, more crunching. He heard more unintelligible German, then the crunching began to recede once more. He leaped up and ran to the nearest guard.

Gefreiter Ludwig Mölders was thinking about one of the stories his parents had told him when he was a small child. It was the story of the mouse-tower, where an evil bishop was said to have been devoured by mice after locking the area's beggars in a barn and setting it on fire.

Unlike Gefreiter Göring, Mölders didn't have his throat cut. Instead, Tiny clamped his mouth shut and drove his knife into the soldier's heart. Then he buried himself in the snow, again. Again, it didn't take long for Unteroffizier Braun to find the body. That bastard must be terrified, Tiny thought. As Braun's footsteps faded, the Green Beret leaped to his feet and ran after the guard. The hand went over the mouth once more. The knife found its way into the foramen magnum, the hole on the bottom of the skull where the spinal column entered the cranium and the backbone was attached. The spinal column was severed, and Tiny's knife was stuck. He picked up the body and carried it behind the fence to keep it out of sight. As he worked his knife loose, he heard the chug of diesel engines as the patrol boat worked its way up the river.

After the boat had passed, Tiny ran out to grab the other two bodies. They'd seen a patrol on the other side of the river, and he knew there was a guard on top of the wall of the compound. He didn't need them spotting the corpses.

After he had stashed the bodies, he ran back behind the fence and knocked out the number six in Morse code on the door before entering. Six was the prearranged signal he was to give before entering a building that the others occupied.

As he stepped in the door, he uttered one word: "Duke."

The sniper knew the locations of the guards he had to take out. There was one on the wall of the compound. The other was farther down the river, patrolling an area by himself. He ran out to the western gate of the fence and lay down in the snow as he waited for the patrol boat to go by again. After fifteen minutes, it had passed and he went to the river's edge, where he laid down again. But not to wait for the boat.

He looked through the scope on his rifle. There was only one place he could shoot the guard. There was an empty barracks in the compound. Its roof rose a good five feet above the top of the wall, just enough to hide the body from any other guards in the compound. The guard had to be standing in front of that before Duke could shoot. He was sure that there would be no other guards patrolling around the building. Why should there be? There was a guy patrolling the wall who could see the entire compound.

The guard was almost there… closer… closer…. Duke's finger slowly, gently tightened on the trigger. He could faintly hear the chug of a diesel in the distance. A hole appeared in the guard's right temple and he fell in a heap on top of the wall, right where he was supposed to. Duke grabbed his rifle and ran back behind the fence. He would know in a moment if the body had been seen. If it had, an alarm would go off in the compound and they would have to abort.

Duke sat for five minutes as the boat motored by. There was no alarm. He crawled out through the east gate and set his sights on the guard down-river. He couldn't shoot him out in the open. He would be seen. There was a large rock that the guard walked by on every round. That was the place.

The guard was working his way behind the rock now. In just a moment….

Duke steadied his rifle. He liked his rifle. There weren't many like it. Most snipers were issued their rifles. This was his and it had been specially made just for him. It was accurate out to a mile and it fired a special round that made little noise.

The guard dropped in front of the rock, and out of sight of anyone, unless they happened to walk around the rock.

The sniper ran back into the house. Minutes later an ungainly creature emerged.

It was wearing a dark gray bodysuit and had a glass plate on top of its head. It had a knife and was carrying what appeared to be black duck feet. It was wearing a contraption that looked almost as ungainly as the creature itself. It had what looked like a large bladder and a bottle.

Fins, the diver, liked the edge that the LARU - the Lamberston Amphibious Respiratory Unit – gave him, but he didn't like carrying it around. Carrying it from here to there was alright, but when you have to carry through the forest for a week, it stops being fun. The LARU was dangerous enough by itself. When a person exhaled into the LARU, their breath went into a flexible bag containing baralyme, an absorbent for the carbon dioxide. It could also cause severe burns if it contacted the skin. The bag often flooded, forcing the user to come up for air. The bottle was a tank of oxygen. It fed oxygen into the system so that the oxygen used while breathing could be replaced. That was another thing Fins didn't like about using the thing on operations like this. It was bad enough carrying the system through the woods, where it would be easy to tear the bag, but he also had to carry extra oxygen tanks all the time. When you're in an area crawling with Germans, the last thing you want to have around if you're being shot at is a tank of pressurized gas. But it got results.

While he was on an operation, Fins preferred to wear his diving gear as much as possible. He could raise his mask to see clearly, and the fins came off quickly. The LARU wasn't as easy to handle, so he left it on as long as possible. Right now, he needed it. He pulled the mask down over his face and pressed to form a seal. He put the mouthpiece in his mouth and took a few breaths to make sure everything was working. When he got in the water he slipped his fins on and swam to the rendezvous. He could have run, but there was only a small stone wall and there wasn't enough room to hide everyone behind it. It would be tight as it was. But he could stay underwater for hours.

The diver could feel the thrumming of the patrol boat's screws, and the sound penetrated every inch of his body. He hoped to God that it didn't pass close to shore. At least not close to the shore he was near. The noise grew louder and louder until he could barely hear himself fart, and he was sure he was going to get hit. And then it started to fade. After it had gone, he lifted his head from the surface to make sure it was clear. The others should be waiting. They were.

He carefully made his way out of the water, then he turned and launched a small inflatable raft. It could only carry three people. One was him. On this first trip, he would only take one other: the Green Beret. He would have to climb the wall and drop the ladder so the rest of them could get inside the compound.

Tiny waded into the water and climbed into the raft. Fins rowed it to the other side of the river, where they both got out. The raft was dragged behind a large rock, and both men hid. The boat would be returning at any minute. The diesel engine chugged by and the moment of tension passed. The diver dragged the raft back to the water and rowed to the other side.

As the raft made its way across the river, the Green Beret carefully climbed the wall. When he got to the top, he cautiously peered over the top. There was a guard patrolling inside the compound, going north to south. He was heading north now. Tiny had to wait a moment before he could do his job. When he guessed that the guard had started the trip south, Tiny climbed to the top of the wall and made his way to the ladder. He was in luck. They kept the ladder well oiled. He climbed down the ladder to find Fins back, along with Tread, the driver, and Inferno, the explosives expert (read: sapper). The raft was again pulled behind the rock. Only Duke was left on the other side of the river. Tiny empathized with him. He knew how it felt to be left alone in a dangerous situation. He had felt the same way ten minutes earlier.

Inside of fifteen minutes, the sniper was peering over the wall of the compound, checking the rounds of the guard patrolling inside. As the guard started the trip south, Duke went over the top and on to the platform that gave access to the top of the wall. He went down the ladder and over to the side of the very barracks that he had used to hide the body of the first guard he had shot. He peered around the corner and saw a guard at the entrance to the compound. From the direction he was facing, Duke knew that he wouldn't be able to see the other guard. Within a minute or so, the guard was returning. Duke lay perfectly still. As the guard entered his sight, the sniper adjusted his aim and pulled the trigger. Almost simultaneously, the body dropped to the ground.

Duke had heard the patrol boat go by, and now he heard the sound of his comrades on the platform. They came down the ladder one by one. The Green Beret looked around then ran out into the open to grab the corpse. He carried it behind the fuel tanks, then ran to the entrance of the compound, lying on the ground just outside the guard's range of vision. Duke watched the outside patrol go past the gate, casually looking into the compound, but paying little attention. As they headed back the way they came, the sniper centered his sight on the guard standing watch at the gate. A dark cloud erupted from his head and quickly passed, and the guard fell to the ground. The Green Beret ran to retrieve the body before the patrol returned. With the body hidden behind the wall, the most important phase of the operation began.

Tiny ran over to the headquarters building and eased a fuel drum on to a dolly. He wheeled over to the fuel tanks and left it there so he could get the other one. The idea was to make the explosion larger by setting off the fuel drums when the tanks went off.

Duke carefully made his way to the guardhouse and raised the barrier. The truck in the compound was capable of smashing it, but it would make a lot of noise.

The driver eased the truck alongside the fuel tanks and everyone climbed in the back. One climbed out.

Inferno went to the fuel tanks and planted both of his time bombs. The driver signaled to him that the outside patrol had passed. He set the timers for thirty seconds and leaped into the truck, which was already starting to move.

The truck screamed through the gate, pausing briefly three hundred yards away to be sure the bombs would explode. As the truck started to slow, the sky behind them began to glow a bright orange and their ears were filled with a deafening roar. A split-second later the ground began to tremble. But they barely felt it, because as soon as they saw the flash, the driver gunned the engine and they were off again. The outside patrol never saw them.