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Q-Force submarine, Nautilus

Somewhere in the Caribbean Sea

15 July, 1996

 The Q-Force submarine slid silently through the tropical waters of the Caribbean, her nuclear reactor easily producing the power to maintain her speed of twenty knots. The Nautilus was virtually silent as she headed toward her destination.

In the attack centre, the submarine’s control room, her commanding officer was standing at the navigator’s table with the six men of Q-Force’s elite Aquatrooper squad. Leviathan gestured to the map on the table.

“This is the island of Nueva Galicia, a small country in the Caribbean, former Spanish colony,” Leviathan began.

Immediately, five of the Aquatroopers turned to look at the newest member, Trident. The Spaniard stared back at the group.

Leviathan cleared his throat and the others looked back at him.

“Nueva Galicia gained independence from Spain in 1824, during the Napoleonic Wars,” Leviathan explained. “The same era when Spain was busy losing all it’s South American colonies.”

“Hardly our fault,” Trident interjected. “What with having been thrown into chaos thanks to that short Corsican.” He gave Shark, the French Aquatrooper leader a sour look.

Shark said nothing, but looked back at Leviathan.

“The island,” Leviathan went on, “is pretty small, smaller than Barbados for example. Population is 175,000. Military forces are nearly non-existent; they’ve got a Nueva Galician Defence Force, which translates as a battalion of infantry, a few mortar teams, some anti-tank weapons and an air component shared with the local Coast Guard and police force. Said air element comprises ten UH-1 Hueys, which they can bolt door guns on if needed.”

Fathom grinned at Leviathan. “So what do they need the bad boys of Q Force for?”

Leviathan reached under the map and pulled out a document folder. “Last month, the NGDF noticed a lot of planes flying into the northern forest region. A region with no airstrip or inhabitants. A squad of troops was deployed to the area. The squad spent a week reconnoitring the area.”

Leviathan pulled out several photos as he spoke, slapping them down on the map. “They found a camp belonging to the Headhunters, the South American narcotics cartel operating across the continent. The Headhunters had set up a rough field airstrip and were also building a small dock area. Machine-gun nests and mortar pits were already dug and weapons set. The squad leader kept an eye on the place for two days before bugging out with his men and calling for extraction. A larger force went in, a heliborne assault. They lost twenty out of the forty men. The Headhunters are heavily armed.”

The photos Leviathan had set down showed the camp, a piston-powered plane sat on the runway being refuelled, a pair of speedboats at the jetties and heavily armed Headhunters walking around several shack-like buildings and sandbagged weapons positions.

“The local government put in a request to Action Force HQ for assistance. It’s taken the last two weeks to get the sub here and then get you out here,” Leviathan went on. “Your mission is simple: infiltrate the camp, eliminate the Headhunters and destroy any narcotics on site.”

“Just a straight up search and destroy?” Fathom put in. “Why not just whistle up some Skystrikers from Space Force or some of our own Ospreys and frag the place?"

Leviathan shuffled the photos and smirked as he pulled one out. “Glad you reminded me, Fathom.”

He put the photo down. The man in the photo wore square-lens sunglasses and had dirty blonde hair worn in a ponytail. Stubble decorated his face below the mutton chops on his cheeks. A sneer curled his lips.

“This is Gristle, believed to be the number 2 man in the Headhunters. He’s believed to be running the show after their number one guy was captured by the Americans. His real name is Danimal Rogers. Born in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Known to have worked up from a low-level thug to a mid-level enforcer with gangs in Jamaica before moving to the US and working with various gangs across the country before he was recruited into the Headhunters. His rap sheet is longer than your arm; arms smuggling, narcotics smuggling, murder, assault, illegal possession of firearms, drug dealing, tax evasion, driving without a license, grand theft auto.”

“He’s an ugly sod, too,” Riptide put in.

The other Aquatroopers all laughed at that.

“He’s the reason we’re sending you in and not just having someone like Tomcat drop a five-hundred pound care package of high ex on the place. The Americans want him alive, preferably in one piece.” Leviathan passed the photo to Shark. “Ugly as he is, memorise the face; if you see him in your sights, try not to pull the trigger.”

Shark studied the face before passing the photo to Fathom.

“If you ask me, we ought to shoot him just for that ponytail,” Shark commented.

Leviathan chuckled. “Regardless, we want him alive. Everyone else in the camp is expendable,” he paused as the photo made its way around. “We’ll drop you off one mile off the coast. You infiltrate via Stingray sea sled.”

“Weapons?” asked Fathom, as he often did during mission briefings.

“Suppressed weapons. You’ll need to take them down as covertly as possible to avoid getting swarmed. MP5SWF for most of the team. Who’s your sniper?” Leviathan asked.

“Me,” replied Manta, the Norwegian Aquatrooper.

“You’ll be interested to know we’ve got a Special Weapons Force modified version of the Arctic Warfare sniper rifle. The first examples went to SAS Force and Z Force, but Boffin’s boys finally delivered some to Q Force.”

“Nice!” Manta commented.

“I’d also recommend that one of the squad takes an SWF modified M4, to provide heavier support,” Leviathan said.

“I’ll do that,” Riptide put in quickly. “M4SWF with a 203 grenade launcher, thanks.”

“You did just hear him say ‘covert’ didn’t you?” asked Orca, the German aquatrooper sarcastically.

“Yeah. But if things go pear-shaped, we might need the extra ‘oomph’ of a 203. There’s no such thing as too much firepower.”

Orca shook his head as he turned back to Leviathan.

“We’ll be on station in…” Leviathan paused to look at the navigator, a Dutch lieutenant.

“Forty-six minutes,” the navigator replied, after glancing at his watch.

“So, get geared up and ready,” Leviathan ordered. “Dismissed.”

As the Nautilus arrived at the drop-off point, the six Aquatroopers were standing in the modified submarine’s hangar bay. More properly known as the dive chamber, the bay was part of the submarines hull, fitted out to carry a Sea Lion submersible or Stingray sea-sleds. Large doors in the sub’s spine could open up, allowing the smaller craft to deploy. The Aquatroopers had sealed the watertight hatches behind themselves and geared up in their black covert ops drysuits, instead of the normal bright yellow ‘high visibility’ wetsuits they sometimes wore; closed-circuit breathing apparatus which wouldn’t produce bubbles; flippers and waterproof bags carrying their weapons and other gear.

Hatches opened and water poured into the dive chamber, flooding the room, before the doors opened.

Over their radio headsets, the Aquatroopers heard the voice of the submarine’s diving officer, “Aquatroopers, clear to deploy.”

The team took hold of their sea sleds, shoving themselves upward with kicks against the deck, before starting the small crafts’ engines.

The six Stingrays moved quietly through the waters of the Caribbean. Chugging along at ten knots, it took them nearly ten minutes to cross the mile to the shoreline.

The six Aquatroopers grounded their Stingrays on the bottom, before swimming up to the beach. Crawling out of the surf, the team peered around in the darkness. No sentries or patrols were visible. They quickly stripped off their flippers and closed-circuit breathing apparatus before opening the bags to retrieve their weapons, helmets and night-vision goggles.

The team moved quietly up the beach on to the grass. Ahead of them was the Headhunters’ encampment. The airstrip was to the left, the buildings to the right.

Two machine-gun nests protected the end of the runway. No one was visible in the nests. The team moved up, both nests were empty. C4 demolitions charges were placed on the guns, before Manta moved off toward the wooden tower that apparently functioned as the control tower.

The sniper moved up carefully, finding the tower just as deserted. He took up station in the tower, flipping his night-vision monocle aside to use the sniper rifle’s attached scope.

“No sign of any sentries at the hangar,” he reported quietly on the team’s encrypted radio channel. “I see machine-gun nests at the other end of the runway. They look deserted too.”

“Copy,” Shark replied tersely, as the squad approached a large warehouse-like building.

The team moved in through a side door. Inside the warehouse were several large wooden crates Fathom found a crowbar and pried one of the crates open. Packets of drugs filled the crate.

“Holy Mother of God, there must be a couple of million Marks worth of drugs here,” Orca commented.

“I’ll say,” Fathom agreed. “Twelve crates, each crate…” he tailed off, clearly doing the mathematics in his head. “I’d say probably four million Marks worth. Or about eight million American Dollars, allowing for the exchange rate.”

“Set the C4 charges,” Shark ordered. “It’s all going up in flames.”

The team worked quickly to place C4 charges amongst the crates with remote detonators set.

The Aquatroopers moved out of the warehouse and along to the hangar next to it.

“You’re still clear,” Manta informed them as he scanned the camp from the control tower. “I see sentries at the walled house. Some movement at the canteen. Everything else is clear.”

The hangar stood empty, its doors open to the night air. Heading along the side of the runway, the Aquatroopers came to three large fuel tanks set off to the side of the hangar and runway. Riptide placed charges as Orca jogged across to the two machine-gun nests at the end of the runway and placed charges there.

The team moved onward, swinging around to the north of the camp where several shipping containers sat. A swift search of them revealed most of them to be empty.

Ahead of them sat what was clearly the bow of a ship, cut off from the rest of the vessel and turned into a building. A quick check revealed it be a storeroom, housing food and cooking supplies. Shark planted a C4 charge in a machine-gun nest set between the storeroom and the containers. The team moved back toward the coast, moving quietly between two more storage rooms before they reached a barracks room, which was empty. They could hear the loud rock music playing in the bar and canteen further to the west.

Across the ‘street’ from the barracks the team found the Headhunters’ armoury. The team worked swiftly to rig demolitions charges to the building and to booby-trap the doors. Anyone trying to enter would not live long. Further along the pathway between the buildings they found the Headhunters’ communications facility. That was a far more grandiose name than it deserved; it was a shack with two radio sets inside, a tall antenna mast sitting atop the building. Another C4 charge was placed.

Moving on, the Aquatroopers came to another machine-gun nest and two buildings clearly made from the stern of a freighter. Oddly, the name on the hull parts didn’t match that on the bow storeroom.

Hostiles approaching from the canteen,” Manta reported. “Looks like twenty to thirty of them heading your way.”

Shark looked at the others, they all looked tense, but ready.

“Fathom, detonate the charges.”

Fathom pulled out the detonator. He hit the button; explosions rocked the night.

That got their attention,” Manta reported. “Headhunters coming out of the canteen. The warehouse is on fire, as are the fuel tanks.”

“Manta, start shooting anyone you can get a line on. Everyone else, get ready,” Shark ordered.

The group moved swiftly back in the direction they’d come, along the opposite side of the radio shack and the barracks building.

Shots rang out from two sentry posts on the walls of the compound where Gristle’s home was. The fire from the radio shack cast enough light for the Headhunters to see the team. Fathom and Riptide returned fire, dropping the sentries.

A massive explosion rocked the night, a large fireball rolling up into the sky.

“There goes the armoury,” Orca commented. Secondary explosions confirmed his analysis.

 “Aquatroopers, get ready to defend yourselves, keep your eyes open. Fathom, watch our six. Orca, cover our three, Riptide cover nine. Trident, on me.”

The five commandos moved into position, weapons at the ready.

The team moved along the street toward another building. Headhunters charged around the corner, some carrying knives, others with machetes. Few carried firearms.

“Contact, right!” Orca yelled, seconds before opening fire.

Fathom and Shark pivoted to the right, opening fire. Trident kept his attention ahead and Riptide kept his on the left.

All three Aquatroopers short several of the Headhunters before they got close enough to be a threat. Fathom fired full-auto before dropping to one knee.

“Changing, cover me!”

He reloaded as Shark and Orca kept up their fire with short bursts.

As Fathom moved back to both feet and began fire semi-automatic bursts, Shark dropped to one knee.

“I’m reloading!”

Barely had he reloaded before Orca also switched magazines. A few bullets whistled past as the Headhunters with pistols returned fire.

“Fathom, cover nine o’clock. Riptide, move to three and drop some frags on them!”

The two British commandos easily swapped places, Riptide changing grip on his M4 to fire the M203 grenade launcher.

The grenade blew a hole in the Headhunters’ ranks as they began to run. Riptide swiftly reloaded and fired again.

“Contact!” Trident called out. He opened fire, dropping several Headhunters in seconds.

Shark turned back toward the team’s original direction and began firing to support him.

“We’re getting pinned down here,” Orca pointed out.

“I know. Move up, we’re already pushing them back,” Shark answered.

“Moving, watch your fire!” Orca called out. He ran to the corner of the building to the left. Fathom followed, moving to the building on the right.

Shark and Trident joined them moments later, followed by Riptide.

“Clear left,” Orca reported.

“Clear right,” Fathom replied.

“Move up, head left toward the compound,” Shark ordered.

The five commandos moved out, running through the darkness at full speed.

Shark pulled his last demolitions charge from his bag, set it to a timed countdown and then threw it at the compound wall.

“Fire in the hole!” he hollered.

The Aquatroopers all dropped to the their knees and covered their heads as the charge hit the wall and detonated.

Rubble from the wall rained down in the compound, dust obscured the hole in the wall.

“Move! Move! Move!” Shark barked. The Aquatroopers leaped through the hole, one after another.

Their night-vision gear allowed them to see the Headhunters scattered around the garden inside the compound. Several were dead. Some were badly injured. Those furthest from the explosion were doubled over, coughing from the dust.

The Aquatroopers ran past them, leaving them behind.

“Riptide, take out that window!” Shark snapped.

The other commando nodded and pulled out a shaped charge; he slapped it on to the window, using a sticky pad. The charge detonated, blowing in the window and its frame.

Fathom vaulted through the blown in window first, the room inside was empty.

“Clear!” he called. Riptide, Trident and Shark followed him in, with Orca bringing up the rear.

The team moved quickly toward the door leading out of the room. Trident took the lead, heading out into a hallway, his gun up and ready.

“Move up,” he called, quietly. The others followed him out into the hall. Running footsteps could be heard above them, then a shout.

“You and you, secure Gristle in the safe room. The rest of you, with me!”

The Aquatroopers quickly headed along the hall to the staircase, four Headhunter Stormtroopers were coming down the stairs.

They barely had a chance to spot the black-clad commandos before they were cut down.

“Upstairs, fast!” Shark said. The team sprinted up the wooden stairs two at a time.

Orca tried a door. Unlocked, it led into an empty bedroom. Riptide tried another. Another bedroom. On the King-size bed were two half-naked, clearly terrified women. Riptide put a finger to his lips and backed out. Thankfully neither of them screamed.

Shark went to try another door, before realising it was the only one on the floor with a lock.

He raised a clenched fist, then pointed to Trident. The Spaniard pulled out a demolitions charge and moved to place it on the door.

Shark and Fathom moved to the right side of the door. Orca moved to the left. Riptide positioned himself to the right of the door, but facing it from a few feet away. He had the M203 aimed at the door.

Trident moved to Orca’s side, he looked across to Shark.

“Blow it.”

Trident hit the detonator he held and the door exploded inward in a shower of wooden splinters.

Riptide fired a grenade in through the smoking doorway. Seconds later, a thunderous bang and a blinding flash filled the room.

Shark and Fathom charged into the room, weapons up. Orca and Trident followed.

Six Headhunter Stormtroopers were lying on the floor, dazed and trying to get up. Gristle was sprawled across the desk. Orca and Trident grabbed him and began dragging him clear of the room.

The other Aquatroopers followed them out. Riptide paused to pull a grenade from his satchel, pull the pin and toss it over his shoulder before running down the stairs. The explosion shook the house.

Headhunters were swarming toward the front doors of the house, weapons ready. They stopped as they saw the Aquatroopers coming out the door, with Gristle held between them.

“Back off or we’ll blow his head off!” Shark shouted. He dropped his MP5SWF on its sling and drew his sidearm and jammed it against Gristle’s head.

The Headhunters began to back away, still with their weapons up. The Aquatroopers moved slowly and carefully across the compound to the main gates.

“Aquatroopers, this is Manta. I just radioed a request for air support to Leviathan. We have two Ospreys inbound out of Jamaica. ETA twenty minutes. A Black Hawk from the US Navy in Puerto Rico is also inbound for extraction. Their ETA is fifteen minutes.”

Shark looked around at the crowd moving in a ring around the Aquatroopers. He wondered if they had fifteen minutes.

Nonetheless, the team kept moving, heading out the main gate, and around the side of the camp, toward the beach. The Headhunters continued to move around them, both sides, behind and ahead, keeping three feet away.

This is Hammer 2-1 to Q Force assault team, we’re two minutes out. Mark the LZ with strobe.” The American voice on the radio channel sounded calm, but Shark could tell there was an element of tension present too.

Riptide hit his radio’s transmit button. “2-1 this is Aqua 4, we’re surrounded by hostiles and attempting to move to a suitable extraction point. Any help in thinning out enemy would be appreciated.”

2-1 unable at this time. We are unarmed. Stand by for low-level show of force by inbound fast-movers,” replied the pilot.

Seconds later, the two modified F/A-18s known as Ospreys screamed overhead at only five hundred feet, firing their flares.

The deafening roar of their twin jet engines was added to by the flares launching which sounded like rapid gunshots. The flares burned brightly overhead.

Several of the Headhunters panicked and ran. Others dropped to their knees, clutching their ears.

The Aquatroopers took advantage of the confusion. Shark and Fathom grabbed Gristle’s arms and dragged him off his feet and ran toward the end of the runway. Riptide and Trident opened fire into the mass of Headhunters, liberally spraying them with automatic fire, whilst Orca threw his remaining stun grenades.

The Black Hawk roared in at low-level over the island. It landed as the Ospreys screamed past a second time.

Shark threw Gristle into the Black Hawk, before punching him unconscious with a single blow. He dragged the Headhunters leader into a seat and strapped him in as Riptide and Fathom fired at the Headhunters, allowing Manta, Orca and Trident to scramble aboard. The two former SBS commandos climbed aboard last.

The Black Hawk lifted clear and sped out to sea. The Ospreys came back for a third pass, this time opening fire with their 20mm M61 guns.

As the Black Hawk headed out to sea, Nueva Galician Defence Force Hueys began to head toward the camp.

“I just got a message from Leviathan,” Shark informed the others. “We’re to hand laughing boy here over to the US authorities in Puerto Rico. The NGDF are going to take in the surviving Headhunters. He called them after calling in our air support.”

The Frenchman looked around the group, smiling, “Our extraction may not have gone to plan, but job well done mes amis.”

Notes

This story was another of my one-offs, written to give the Q-Force Aquatroopers an outing and to use the Headhunters in a story against Action Force. I went through a number of attempts to find a suitable location, using various Caribbean islands, before resorting to creating Nueva Galicia. The Nautilus submarine is based on a custom by BFTB forum member 'Jimbo', whilst the Osprey jets are based on a custom by BFTB member 'Red Baron'.

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