Kind Attention , friends !

I convey the apologies from Dron’s behalf about his sudden and creepy abscence from here and.. there. We shall have you know that the ‘establishment’ is not particularly full of half-wits and people have been putting questions into some ears by now as to ‘who is this Dron ?’ and ‘Is he that Dron , or that one ..?’

The author and person we know as Dron M. Acharya ( yeah right!) is currently ‘off-the-social-grid’ to protect his skin.. his job.. his thang, you know.

As for me, it is time to come clean, friends. While he did interact and post here, it was me who posted the Afghanistan thingy, the lady commando thingy, and some other responses too. Who am I ?

I am the impoverished, drunken author of the book that we have been writing for you from the crazy stuff that the mad Colonel has been feeding me since July now. The stories will not stop, whether they are his own craziness superimposed on seemingly similar events, or the real goddamn madness that goes on behind the black curtain of ‘special operations’ and ‘covert ops’- I don’t know.

All I have done is try to edit his gibberish, add some panache ( not that he lacked any, but I understand the market better ), and make it more enjoyable as the fiction it has to be presented as. Military personnel will find it amusing and reminiscent of many a frustrating memory, though there is a strain of patriotic fervour through it that is hard to miss. Young people and army cadets and students will be (hopefully ) blown away.. in a good way. I bet the ladies shall like it too, there are several small romaantik scenes ! Too bad sex cannot be had in the icy wastes and jihadi killing battle scenes herein or we could have gone for the commoner audience too. There are some ‘shades of gray’ though. Not the enjoyable kind. Lest I start reviewing your book even before it is published here, I shall simply present to you people an excerpt, a trailer of what we have hoped is possible. Note that this is all intellectual property and probably the memories of a particularly nasty man, not to mention all the guys who worked with him. This book is to be the first in a series, we are hoping. I am not the editor and this is from the rough cut close-to-final draft ( very very close) , it is maddening to work with him, and to write this so please forgive the grammar and … well , here goes.

The characters in this story, the events described all have a basis in real life, while I cannot conform or deny whether the events actually did play out like this, the resultants news reports from that time did seem to corroborate some of it. Yet, due to our own concerns we have had to term it as ‘fiction’ . Please understand. This is a work still in progress. Chapters 1 and 2 still need more editing, this one is relatively more presentable.

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Chapter Three

Part One

Staging Area:Chamba(Himachal Pradesh): 0700 hrs October 2000

The sniper lies prone on the top of the creeping bus, which is headed straight at the compound some 630 metres ahead, with his customized Mauser SR-93 rifle, its rubberized aluminum fore-stock resting on a 2 pound synthetic bag full of sand and wood shavings. The cheek rest is firmly aligned with the jawline and gaunt cheekbones of the shooter, such that it seems they were made for each other, or by the same factory. The man is dressed in a rather unusual, triple-shade gray disruptive pattern. A Russian make of paratrooper boots, pants and jacket, with a brown scarf around his neck. Special calfskin gloves leave only his right index finger bare, which rests lightly against the trigger. The Zeiss 3–12×56 Diavari 30mm scope his right eye is looking through is mated to the rifle; its reticule is aligned and zeroed so perfectly to the bore that whatever the cross-hairs will rest on within at least 600 m of range, on the squeeze of the trigger, a 250 grain boat-tail, precision machined, solid copper hollow-point will obliterate it at 3000 feet per second.

It was a Mauser Werke (Germany) rifle built in the year 1992 exclusively for research into a long range weapon that used the .338 lapua magnum cartridge and could deliver death to anyone wearing body armour at more than 600 yards for the German army. In the same years India was fast becoming the newest voice in the European trade agreement discourses after the unification of East and West Germany. There were attempts by DRDO to reach out to the German manufactories of armaments and research to evaluate their small arms, personnel munitions and armour. While the deals did not take off for fear of losing diplomatic ties with Israel and Russia, some samples and ‘gifts’ across departments and agencies did exchange hands and were forgotten. Or so the paper trails say. In paperwork, there was no hi-grade stuff shared, just some ammunition (research) samples and small arms kits [unbeknownst to the foreign services and scientist babus at the time, even a full kit, anti-personnel sniper platform is classified as small arms, Yo !]. A certain officer from 10 PARAs, promoted newly to captain, was being lauded as the fastest, most consistently accurate shot on the ranges in Rajasthan. He had done his instructors and unit proud during the ‘K’; and when the Armament Research department of DRDO sent the piece down to Mahajan (Rajasthan) for some testing, he had simply asked for “ some time with equipment from the ARDE labs that the Germans had gifted the Indian Army”. He insisted that the labs were not doing anything useful with it and they had kept it enshrined for photo ops and as a showpiece. He needed it for ‘practical research’ in his own brief as special operations long-range engagement specialist. His request was grudgingly granted and the gun placed in his care. Needless to say, it was never returned, and thanks to the forgetful nature of scientists and clerks in government laboratories maybe.. has been in ‘practical research’ ever since.

The scope, the rifle — both have ‘Made in Germany’ etched or stamped into the matte black finish in places. The chassis is adorned with numerous scuff marks and scratches signifying this as an oft used and much traveled ‘research’ tool. The man who lies unmoving, unblinking, staring into the scope with his right eye seems to be under a spell of its mechanical witchery. He almost appears reluctant to do anything further than just lie with it, gazing through its single tubular eye at a section of the world. His body is so still, relaxed.. like he has melded with the top of the bus roof that he is lying prone upon. Dressed in similar BDUs and extra plate armour, their silenced AKSUs pointed downward ahead are four men half crouching, their breathing controlled, their minds preparing for the coming activity. Their colours stand out in front of this urban chic hotel and in the civil environment. They are doing this thing in front of what until a few days ago used to be a 3 star resort, after all. The soviet developed, triple grey disruptive pattern called TCKO is seldom used outside the rocky, wintry terrain of the east European plains and semi-urban areas that the Chechnya conflict was fought in. It will blend superbly though, in the features that our particular target in the Skardu region has to offer. The weather at this time, the shadows and shapes afforded by the structural chaos just outside their target and around it, will be perfect to use this camo. It has large and medium brushstrokes in three shades of grey, varying overlapping shapes with some straight lines also thrown in. Also, the soviet pattern is not used by the Indian army anymore. It was replaced in 1994, by a design touted by the DRDO as ‘specifically developed for Indian sensi..err, conditions.’

The ‘compound’ is the fully booked and cordoned off Orient Heights resort, a 3 star Himalayan vacation and holiday destination. It affords the customers a ‘beautiful view of the Ravi river from an 80 ft cliff, and the wonders of hilly pastures and orchards from the windows’. It also has the misfortune to be an exact match (as far as geography and plan goes) for our target in the shitty wastes of the Gilgit-Baltistan region. The team have tried to simulate the approach to the building from the single gate by parking buses and cars in the way where the quonsets, generator, and equipment are supposed to be. They have placed dummies and scarecrows on loan from the local businesses and some orchard owners, extrapolating and anticipating from experience where they might be. In all of the 22 practice runs so far, they have mixed the placement up so that the sniper who approaches perched on the bus does not know where they’ll be each time. He has to sight all the targets that can spot the bus on approach, and take them down before the bus can approach the outer gate. There are estimated to be at least 8 guards outside. 2 will be in the towers that lie 28m east and 26m west of the gate. There is a guard post and small wooden shack inside the gate. They have simulated this with wooden boxes and two poles with matkas as high as the height the tower guards’ heads might be, judging from photos obtained from as far away as 200 miles in the sky. They cannot be sure, but there is a science to building guard towers too, and if the Pakistanis have followed it then the standard height ratios they are using now should be right. The ammunition the sniper is using for now is underpowered, soft nosed rounds, so they don’t blow apart the structure and fancy facades the poor hotelier has lent them, although they have covered the exterior walls with sandbags and some metal sheeting behind wherever they place the ‘guards’. The suppressed AKS74U rifles carried by the team are all specially modified from field kits to fire underpowered rounds and blanks. They are using blanks for this exercise. They shall simulate the weight of the battle load they shall carry, apart from the rifles, this comes to 7 kg per man, except for the demolitions guy and his buddy who have to carry around 12kg, 4kg of which they’ll lose in the field. The sniper’s load is 8kg for the rifle and ammo alone, he has three different types of ammo, and needs to take them all just in case. He also doesn’t sport the extra plate armour. In a calm, almost lazy movement the sniper flicks the safety off, takes a breath, exhales fully and squeezes the trigger once. An earthen pot of a ‘head’ crumbles and the concrete wall in direct line of the trajectory of the bullet some 250m farther, erupts in a shower of powdered plaster almost simultaneously. While the sound of the shot is still echoing, the shooter is ejecting the shell and pulling up another round from the magazine. The gun barks again. It has a custom built muffler which is heavier than than the barrel itself and shrouds it completely, six holes machined into its length in a spiral for expanding gases to escape as the bullet flies free. Some velocity is sacrificed, but the decreased sound signature is considerable. Even so, in this open area, the exterior of the hotel commons is designed to be acoustically ‘alive’ for business meetings, bands and parties; the sound suppression is not much for a covert action. In fact it’s shit.. feels the sniper. They still have to practice with full gear and handicaps. In another minute, having fully accelerated after the last shot, the Bus is to have moved in on the gate, with the two ‘matka’ tower guards dead. They drive it through the cordoned off area into the gate of the hotel. It has to be driven into the closed gate of the compound at its top speed, and with the momentum gained is supposed to have smashed in the main gate. They have no idea this shall happen or not, if it doesn’t though.. only another two minutes or so will be lost as ‘Agni’ (the codename for the demolitions guy) will make the gate their own personal doormat within that time. In the real sit, the tower guards won’t be built of wooden stands and hanging shirts with a pot for a head either. They shall have binocs and rifles, searchlights with hi-power arc lamps and radios. Which is why they will have to be muted from farther away than it takes them to connect the doppler of the bus with the image of it and to train their sights on the familiar looking dark brown transport, wonder at its unfamiliar driving patterns and notice it stopping, especially the strange looking heap of canvas and stuff on top of it. Minor details can give away a lot to a soldier. And soldiers on guard duty are always extra cautious and trigger happy, just waiting for something to happen. The ideal distance to ‘mute’ them from is calculated to be about 700–750 m, although the on-ground details will surely vary. The sniper’s first order of business every morning for the past two weeks has been to take 30 alternating shots, 5 each at two targets 20m, then 30m, then 40m apart, with the time between each shot diminishing by milliseconds every time. He has it down to two shots, with 1.4 to 1.7 seconds between them. To his way of thinking, they cannot really prepare for it. They are just preparing for something like what they will find. They are trying to rote learn and become familiar with the distances to be negotiated while fighting, speeds allowed by terrain, the series of actions and reactions that shall probably take place. The real situation might turn out to be totally different, but they have to try to be perfectly ready for it in every way they can. Whenever the bus is in motion, the sniper who is literally strapped to it’s roof puts his head down, covering himself from the wind with the dark brown canvas tarp that also covers Pakistani paramilitary transport vehicles. He has a rig attached to his light armor fastened with a makeshift harness that allows him to link and de-link in an action as easy as putting two seat-belts on.

The bus must stop once more inside the gate. There is a painted rectangular block at the gate in the few clear photographs provided by Tel Aviv, where every vehicle stops, half in-half out as the gate opens swinging inward. Here, the papers and orders are checked, probably. The bus shall have to stop here after ramming the gate in, jamming the entrance of more guards or nearby reinforcements, just in case. The team simulates this by just opening the main gate of the hotel inward [we are not heartless to hoteliers, rich and snooty as they may be]. The sniper pulls away his canvas shroud and begins to sight in the four dummies that have been placed by the helper team, the two men on ‘dummy detail’ who move targets around while the team holds their fire. In a professional, special operations staging area built by the army operations command staff they wouldn’t have to do all this. There are automated target machines, paintball guns, engineers and floor men who help design the most lifelike 1:1 training and staging environments for such exercises, planning and prep for missions. This particular set of mavericks has foregone that luxury as the cost of taking official help can also mean being denied official sanction, or just being sold out to the enemy in the bitter wastes of fucking Skardu. No thanks, they all thought when a senior RAW official they have kept in confidence suggested they do this ‘through proper channels’.

The bus too is highly modified, in the sense that there is an opening on either side of it, with no door, but a matte canvas covers the entire carriage, with an opening cut into either side of it. It is an old Daewoo Express bus re-purposed and re-fitted for staging. A similar lightly armoured one, with a modified ISUZU direct injection engine, rally standard, reinforced alloy leaf suspension and run flat tires shall be provided 6 km from the LZ in Skardu, a real transport bus used to sometimes take troops or army prisoners has already been ‘acquired’ and modified; all courtesy of some assets that don’t need to know why they will be cutting up and modifying a bus stolen from the Baltistan police lines to leave it in the middle of nowhere. Which is why the help of RAW is unavoidable. Thankfully, some gems from the army and special forces are inducted or stay on from assignments every now and then in the premier intelligence and clandestine activities wing of the PMO. Some deputations are also actively engineered by the military establishment, to keep the RAW from becoming the sole preserve of Hoover wannabes and idiots on special assignment by politicians seeking to train the might of our intelligence resources on winning elections for some asshole. As a result, the Army has a few good men in place for just such contingencies, and they are usually the ones who are keeping the country safe, averting disasters and keeping the enemy in check while other agencies and political appointees take the credit.

_______________________________________________________ ____________ that’s all for now , guys ! Do let me know if it was good or whatever was bad. I shall even convey any thing , message or what.

-Bhoot of Bhoot & Bhoot Sons

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