Monday, 29th May 2023 - 16:15:30 pm

There was still plenty of light when the patrol started moving again. They could make good time but there was a long way to go. Kincaid, in the lead, could spot potential ambush sites long before they reached them. He stopped the column one more time to flush out a suspicious location with a lobbed grenade. The result was the same as before.

An hour before dark they came on a tribe of Kurdish nomads who were making camp. Kincaid stopped so Yasin could question them.

Yes, they had come from the south.

Yes, they had seen many soldiers.

They did not know if the soldiers would wait on the trail.

The nearest soldiers were three hours south.

"How far?" Kincaid asked.

Three hours, they told Yasin again.

"How many kilometers?" Kincaid asked.

When Yasin interpreted the question they only shrugged.

"How fast do they travel?" Kincaid asked Yasin.

"Slow," Yasin replied. "Very slow. Many sheep, goats. Women walk."

"Good," Kincaid said. "Take my horse with you and go back to the others. Tell them to come forward as fast as they can move. Look for me on the trail ahead."

Kincaid took the fresh horse and set out at a gallop. There were two enemies now: that army unit and darkness. Those soldiers must be found and knocked out of the way. They needed light for that. It could take all night to get rid of strong positions in the dark.

He maintained the gallop for ten minutes. That was it. A ten minute gallop should equal a three hour slow walk. He slowed the horse to a walk.

Steve Kincaid had no doubts about what should be done. The leadership of Iran had become outlaws among the more civilized nations. They had kidnapped innocent people and held them for ransom. They had hundreds, maybe thousands, of their own people shot. For some reason the citizens of the country had put up with that bullshit. More than put up with it, a lot of them, maybe most of them, approved. The way Kincaid figured it, that was their business. If they wanted to kill each other off, let them have at it. When the citizens got tired of it, they could do something about it by themselves.

But shooting an American was something else. They were stepping over the line. The President of the United States had made it his business. And because of that, Steve Kincaid had made it his business. If the Iranian Army was going to try to stop him, they were going to pay the price. He didn't like taking on a army unit in peace time but he hadn't started this. Yeah, he thought, they might stop me but they"ll damn sure know I've been here.

Sitting astride the horse as it walked gave Kincaid a good angle to watch the grass along the trail. He would be able to see signs of passage through it from a long way out. Iran's treeless landscape was another advantage. It helped even the odds on an ambush.

He suddenly reined the horse in. There was something on the trail about a kilometer ahead. The trail curved slightly and a bank partially blocked his view. Kincaid dismounted and went ahead on foot. When he secured a good vantage point he pulled the powerful binoculars out of their case.

It was a roadblock. An armored personnel carrier sat astraddle the trail, its guns pointed toward him. Kincaid could make out a .50 caliber machine gun and what looked like a 20mm cannon. There was another vehicle farther back off to the side. It was almost hidden from view. He finally decided that it was probably a 6X6 truck.

He counted at least ten soldiers milling about. That meant there could be twenty or more at that position. But he couldn't see the trail beyond. There might be hundreds backing up the roadblock.

The soldiers were occupying the trail at a low spot where two long slopes met. That seemed strange. They had high ground on both flanks. They must have the flanks covered.

Kincaid searched both slopes with the field glasses. There was no sign of any activity he could see, but the slopes rolled over so troops could be hidden out of his view. But if they were out of his view, they wouldn't be in position to fire on the trail. It didn't make sense.

A plan started forming in his mind as he studied the approaches to the roadblock. A creek cut across the trail at a right angle about half way to the soldiers. Kincaid could only see the creek bed where the trail forded it. The ground dropped down from where he was to the creek and then rose to where the soldiers waited.

The poor, dumb bastards, Kincaid thought. That was the price they paid for their "popular revolution." They wanted it, now they've got it. "Put someone in charge as dumb as me," it seemed like was the cry of their revolution. Only trouble is when someone without brains takes over he has to get rid of anyone that is a threat to him. And that means anyone with brains.

Yeah, they've got equality now. But what kind of equality is that" After they shoot everybody with a lick of sense, every man is as dumb as the next man. Sure, that's equality but who wants it" They shoot all their officers and now these poor bustards don't know how to set up a road block. All they've got there is a check point. Do they expect us to come up and show them our IDs"

Kincaid went back up the trail. Just as he reached his horse, the main party came into view. He waved for them to halt out of sight of the roadblock and he went to them. He explained the situation and asked Yasin what the terrain was like beyond the waiting soldiers.

Ahmed helped interpret. "He says a main road cuts the trail there. Beyond the road the ground is rough."

That explained why they had set up the roadblock there. Because it was easy. Right next to the road.

"Can you work one of those missile launchers?" Kincaid asked Ahmed.

"Piece of cake, old boy. Piece of cake."

Kincaid explained his plan while Ahmed interpreted to the Kurds.

"Remember," Kincaid concluded, 'no cavalry charges. Let them be the dumb bastards who die for their cause, whatever in hell it is."

The tough looking Kurds grinned broadly at the last. They seemed to be more at ease around the black-faced Kincaid than before.

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