Crime Suppression Unit Part 13
They were on the road for a half-hour when suddenly there was a roaring staccato of blasts. The car shuddered as if large bricks were hitting it. The rear window exploded and huge caliber slugs tore through the roof as the car rounded the next bend.
Everyone ducked as glass shards flew through the car. Rick recovered and pulled up his AK47, pointing it through the area that was once the back window. The car skidded around the corner as fast as Andrew could drive. 'What the hell was that?'
'Sounds like a fifty caliber.' Rick squinted down the road. A dark green Toyota pick-up truck was thirty yards back.
A large tripod was mounted on the truck bed. It held the heavy machine gun, manned by two men, a gunner and an ammo feeder.
Rick got off a few shots at the truck as they went around the corner.
'If we don't get rid of them soon, we're goners.' Andrew shouted. Those trucks are four wheel drive; he'll be right on top of us soon. He can't hit us with all this bouncing around but when he gets close, we'll be cut us to pieces.
'Stop for a second on the next turn. I'm going to jump out. Keep on going,' Rick shouted. 'Sonia get on the floor and stay there.'
'Now,' Andrew jammed on the brakes. The car slid sideways as Ricked opened the door and leapt out, holding his rifle to his chest, tumbling in the dirt, slamming to a hard stop. He scrambled to his feet, kneeling against a tree, using it for a shield and to steady his arm. The truck careened around the curve. Rick fired at the driver; the front window exploded, the truck swerved to the right but kept on coming. Rick could clearly see the two men standing in the back. The truck had slowed and the big gun turned in his direction. A hail of bullets burst into the trees. He could feel the breeze as the big slugs flew by, making a whooshing sound as they pushed the air out of the way. Splinters of wood and bark showered down as Rick fell back and turned on his side, rolling into a prone firing position, hugging the ground.
The truck jolted to a stop. The machine gunner had to keep standing in order to maintain fire. Rick caught him in the chest with a volley, killing the other soldier at the same time. The drivers door sprang open and a soldier jumped out towards the side of the road.
Rick followed the man's path in the air and pulled the trigger. The weapon was on full automatic and he could see bits of clothing, blood and flesh fly as bullets tore through the body as it twisted and contorted from the assault. Rick emptied his weapon into the cab of the truck as Andrew came running down the road with Sonia close behind, both holding weapons at the ready.
Rick gave the bodies on the ground a fast check and then jerked the door of the truck open. A body fell half way out, head first, one arm reaching towards the blood soaked ground. There had been four of them. The short wave radio blared static.
It had caught a slug but it was still bad news. The army had to know what road they were on. 'I thought I told you to stay in the car.'
'Yeah, I'm just a girl, right?'
'Let's get going. There will be more people coming up this road.'
Wait a minute. Ricked scooped up two AK's and a bandolier of cartridges.
'Stay back, Andrew yelled as he fired into the underside of the truck. Gasoline poured onto the ground. Andrew kept on shooting at the metal until he caught a spark and the truck burst into flame. The heat blew into Rick's face and crinkled his hair as he turned away, jogging back to the car. 'That will block the road for a while'.
Andrew started the auto and stepped on the gas.
'Sonia, the next time I tell you to do something, I want you to do it.' Rick put his arm around her. 'I meant what I said.'
'Or what? You send me home?'
Rick shook his head. The girl was impossible.
Andrew made up for lost time, the air becoming cooler as they climbed steadily higher. After an hour had passed, Rick started to relax a bit. The muddy road suddenly turned into an open area- a dirt field about a hundred feet wide. There were a half dozen thatched one room shacks standing on wood stilts on the edges of the clearing. A few chickens and a pig rested underneath one house. Two young girls pounded a fat wooden club into a stone bowl, knocking the husks from grains of rice.
Three women in red embroidered black skirts and cotton blouses stared up from a pot steaming over an open fire, a look of wonder on their faces at seeing an automobile up here in the hills. Trucks had come by before but never a sedan.
Imagine a vehicle with no room to carry bushels of rice or loads of cabbage, only family. These people must be extremely wealthy.
An older man in black pants and shirt walked slowly towards the car. His clothes were loose-like pajamas.
The man approached the automobile cautiously. Sonia left her seat and went over to talk to him After a minute or two a few women came out of the houses and joined the group. Rick counted eleven women, three girls, two small boys and one old man. The women near Sonia began to wail and cry.
Rick and Andrew climbed out of the car. Corn was planted in rows on a patch carved out of the hillside. Cabbages grew near the houses and there was a small field of wheat or rice towards the end of the clearing. Sonia started to walk back as the women and one old man stared mournfully at the car.
'Holy smokes, what did you say to them; could you understand what they said?'
'I said that the solders may be right behind us. They are afraid that the military will kill them because the car is here.'
'Right. Andrew, can you take the car back down the road and drive it off the cliff someplace.'
'Sure, let's get our stuff out of it.'
They took out the rifles and pistols and piled them on the side. Andrew drove off in the car while Sonia and Rick sat on the grass. The women brought bowls of rice and vegetables that had been cooking in the pot. Rick had forgotten how hungry he was.
There were small pieces of meat with tiny bones in the stew. It was delicious.
'This is great. What is it?'
'Lets talk about getting out of here first,' Sonia said in-between mouthfuls. 'Since they live near the Thai border I can understand some of what they say. The village chief agreed to give us one boy as a guide to reach Thailand. It is a dangerous journey and we need someone who knows the way.'
'Where are all the men?'
'The military sent a message to the village leader a week ago asking for men to cut a road through the forest. They are bringing more troops and vehicles to fight the Karen rebels. If no men are sent, they will murder the entire village. Since we arrive they are afraid. They will flee to the hills today. I wish we could help them someway.'
Rick pulled out his wallet. He had about five hundred United States dollars left. He counted out four hundred and gave it to Sonia. 'They will be able to use this when they reach a town. It's against the law for them to have foreign money but they can trade it on the black market. It will buy them food and a few animals and may save their lives as the men are not here to help them' A small skinny boy squatted next to Sonia. 'My name Bo.'
Andrew came back and dug right into a bow of stew and rice. 'This is really great.'
'Yes,' said Sonia. 'Field rats eat so much better than their cousins in the city.'
Andrew put his bowl down. 'What?'
'Rats in the city eat all kinds of garbage but in the country they eat grains and fresher foods.'
'I was almost finished anyway.' Rick put on as big of a smile as he could muster and placed his bowl on the ground.
'When will the men from the village come back?'
'When the army releases them. It may be a few months or a year. Whenever the project is completed. They're not paid and are hardly fed.'
'Wow, that really stinks.'
'That's why the Karen villagers have joined together to fight the government. It's complicated but the Karen National Liberation Army and the Shan State Army are fighting against the junta and the United Wa State Army.'
'Who is the Wa State Army and why are they helping the junta?'
'Let me answer this one since I'm with the Drug Enforcement Agency,' said Andrew. 'The Wa people are from the north, along the Chinese border. They are communists like the Chinese and they were, a while back, fighting the Myanmar government. It was a costly operation for the military to send troops to the north to try and contain the guerillas.
The Burmese and the United Wa Army came to an agreement. The Wa would stop fighting the government and in exchange the junta would leave them alone to harvest the largest opium crop in South East Asia. But now they have come up with something even more profitable – amphetamines. Ephedrine and other precursor chemicals are shipped from China and huge laboratories are set up on Burmese soil. The drugs are shipped to Thailand at a great profit. The deal is so huge that the Myanmar government has joined in protecting the shipments. Chemists and workers are imported from Korea, China and even Holland.
It's a big business that they will protect at all costs, especially now that the economy has been pulverized by economic sanctions and foreign investment has dried up. The government badly needs cash and this is the easiest way for them to obtain it.'
'We have three days of hard traveling ahead of us. Let's get started.' Rick rose to his feet and picked up an AK47.'
Always an enjoyable read.