The first battle of Petrolina, part 2

No matter what happened, the outcome couldn’t possibly be good. Team 1-2 was stuck out there, waving in the wind. It was time to head back to the APC before incoming rounds turned them to small pieces of meat. There was still movement from the observation post ahead, so they piled on the fire then made a beeline for the PC. The sniper fire from somewhere in the rear made the trip objectively faster, but subjectively longer.

Back in the stone house, 2-2 was feeling relatively comfortable and not really inclined to expose themselves to vicious enemy fire, but needs must. Hoping that a fusilade of fire would keep the FOs head down, they backed out into alley, fervently wishing that the shelter of the APC wasn’t at the other side of the maze.

Inside Broadsword-2’s APC, the driver fought with the diagnostic equipment. With some luck and maybe some smoke, if they could ever find it, the APC could possibly be returned to a drivable state. If the survivor 2-1 could pull off a miracle of impromptu combat engineering, they could live to see another day. Relaying these requests to 2-1 over the radio brought only screams as heavy fire and rpg explosions from the rear raked over their position. Screaming frantically into the mike brought nothing, and the medic climbed into the turret hoping he could at least take someone with him before he left.

Two new blips suddenly appeared on Broadsword-1’s targeting systems. Airborne, slow moving, hopefully soft. The medic/gunner slewed the main gun around and watched with satisfaction as the round sliced through a softskin grav sled. Unfortunately, it was so soft that the round didn’t culminate in its usual explosion, but at least the bogey slewed off into the unstable roofs of some not-distant-enough shanties. That left only one to deal with, theoretically.

The medic felt the front of his helmet slam against the turret as the driver gunned it in reverse. The door slammed as 1-2 piled in, and the plinking sound wasn’t rain, but heavy fire from those arseholes to his left in their seemingly concrete-reinforced shanty.

That shanty commanded a spectacular view of the field, including 2-2’s retreat back to their lamed APC. Desperately trying to return fire under the hideous enfilade, 2-2 barely made it to the alley around the corner. Half the team went down in the attack, and they weren’t even halfway back to the APC. It had to be the longest 100m in history.

Driving in reverse was pain in an APC so large, but there were a few benefits. Broadsword-1 could see the infantry ahead retake the hill and call for mortar fire, so they had a few extra seconds of mental preparation, and they could warn Broadsword-2 that they would soon have the most unwelcome of company. The downside was that they couldn’t locate the fire now hitting them from the rear. Where the hell did all these people come from?

Back in Broadsword-2, the gunner was still hoping 2-2 could make it back alive, because being out in the street was a death sentence. Hoping to at least avenge 2-1 (the rest of his team), he pumped enough rounds into the building containing their executioners to make it collapse. The smoke launcher finally unjammed after the firing finished; now they wouldn’t die with an RPG lodged up the arse, which was only small comfort if you were likely to get one in the face.

Apparently that was to happen sooner, rather than later, as the driver called out, “Target, 12 o’clock”.

Squad 2-2 was in an extraordinarily bad position. The indigs in their invincible shanty were in the front, and judging from the smoke and explosions to the south-west, the APC wasn’t exactly a safe haven. Still, there was nowhere to go but back. Dragging their wounded, they hit the dirt again as sniper fire emerged from the rear. That turned out to be the worst choice of all, as the dirt covered IED silenced the squad with its impersonal lethality.

Panic was rising in Broadsword-2’s gunner. He turned to face the new threat at t12 o’clock and felt his balls retract as he caught the silhouette of an ATGM launcher. He saw targets drop as he squeezed the trigger, but that didn’t seem to stop the large explosion from the front. Astounded, he looked at his body parts and found out that he was still alive. By now the gunner was screaming at him to get those bastards in front.

In Broadsword-1, more alarms started going off. Mortar rounds incoming — just what they were sent in here to prevent. Incredibly, they seemed to be going to far. Explosions and the sounds of collapsing buildings to their rear made it clear that Broadsword-2 was probably getting the worst of it.

The turret was filling up with smoke as the autocannons in kept on pumping. They may as well have been filled with foam rubber for all the effect they were having on the ATGM team. The gunner’s eyes widened in horror as the missile came directly at him.

After a few seconds of black, then red, and silence, he came to the realization he was still alive. The weapon was it tatters, but the missile didn’t actually penetrate the hull. While a testament to the APCs survivability, it wasn’t likely to be able to sustain another hit like that. It was time to go and he grabbed the driver (whose lips were moving but who knows what he was saying) and they bolted out the back.

In retrospect, the driver’s inaudible shoutings were warnings about the mortar fire. However, dead is dead whether it’s in an APC or out on the street, so it was a desperate run to the east. Astoundingly they weren’t vapourized where they stood. The driver nearly fell on his face as a hand grabbed his ankle. Fireteam 2-1’s leader was still alive, barely, because he had managed to crawl under the APC and escape the worst of the mortar fire.

From their vantage point in the street, they could see Broadsword-1 reversing at maximum speed. As they ran to meet it, the medic caught sight of squad 2-2. Gesturing to the driver to take the remnant of 2-1, the medic ran to 2-2’s aid. The team leader was dead, but the others would make it as long as they could drag them from the field.

Finally Broadsword-1 came into view. The medic’s frantic screamings into his comm had brought help. For once there was a blissful period of no enemy fire, and the mortars seemed to have stopped, at least temporarily. With great haste and less care than they would have liked they loaded the wounded inside Broadsword-1’s bulk and got the hell out of there.


Obviously, this wasn’t exactly a resounding victory.

The total damage:

Broadsword Squad 1:

  • APC: OK
  • Fireteam 1: OK (includes driver, medic and two others) .It helps that they never dismounted.
  • Fireteam 2: OK, although they came under heavy fire.


Broadsword Squad 2:

  • APC: Immobile, gun destroyed, abandoned. It should have been sanitized before they left, but there was no time.
  • Fireteam 1: Driver, medic OK, Fusion Gunner dead, remaining trooper wounded
  • Fireteam 2: Team leader dead, remaining 3 wounded.

All in all, they took close to 40% casualties, and half their vehicle complement was lost.

The damage they dished out:

  • 2 buildings destroyed
  • 5 enemy elements eliminated
  • 1 vehicle destroyed

None of that matters though, because they have now lost the town, and the mission was a failure.


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