THE ZONE 04 Sky Strike by Unknown

THE ZONE 04 Sky Strike by Unknown

Format: epub


The trap had been hastily prepared but well sited. A tank transporter, still with its gutted T84 load aboard its semi trailer, straddled the road. In the fields to either side Russian infantry had hurriedly dug-in, the ramparts of freshly turned earth betraying every position. Further back, a pair of BMP infantry combat vehicles were half-hidden hull-down in a fold.

‘Through them or round them, Major?’ Burke closed his port, forced to accept the stain-restricted visibility, knowing that to leave it open would have been to invite a storm of small-arms fire.

‘Can’t risk the damage of a collision. Let’s take the scenic route.’ At extreme range a hail of automatic fire struck the side of the APC as it turned off the road, crushing a rusted tubular steel gate into the soft earth. Great lumps of turf and loam smacked on the roof of hull and turret as shots from the BMP’s 73mm guns added their weight, An RPG-7 anti-tank rocket flashed past, another self-destructed overhead and deep dents appeared in vulnerably thin top plates as most of that surface’s paint was charred away or blistered by the fireball.

Libby sent retaliatory fire at the enemy infantry but without noticeable effect, the fields soaking up the tracer that didn’t ricochet wildly into the sky. Even using all his skill and strength, he couldn’t hold the unstabilised weapon steady for more than a couple of seconds at a time, against the savage bucking of the ride.

The BMP’s started from concealment, pluming grey exhaust. Burke saw them and began to cut back towards the road. On the rough terrain the wheeled vehicle was at a disadvantage against its tracked opponents, whose better cross-country performance was already enabling them to close the gap as they took short cuts through patches of ground that Burke had to avoid for fear of bogging down.

A 73mm shell blasted a crater in the meadow fifty yards to their left, and shortly afterwards a second impacted against a tree even further off. Libby watched the guns on both BMP’s go to maximum elevation immediately, as they had to in order for the breeches to be aligned with the feeding ramp of the semi-automatic loaders. That added the problem of re-sighting the unstabilised gun after every shot to the Russian gunners’ other problems in their severely cramped turrets and slowed their rate of fire to once a minute at most.

Libby kept watch on the lead vehicle, and as its smoothbore gun depressed to the horizontal called a warning to their driver. The violent course correction was hardly needed, as two more shells fell little nearer than the first. And then the APC thundered back on to the metalled surface of the road and, picking up speed, began to pull away from its pursuers.

Almost the instant they reached top speed, an engine began to misfire, and Burke could no longer ignore the temperature gauge beginning to push into the red.

‘What now, Major?’ Hyde had been reading the map over the officer’s shoulder. ‘No turnings off this road, and we can’t lose those Ruskies by outpacing them.


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