Distant Annihilation. (Tarquin Collingwood Adventures Book 1)

BOOK: Distant Annihilation. (Tarquin Collingwood Adventures Book 1)
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Distant Annihilation

A Great
Game Thriller.



zam Hossain


The right of Azam Hossain to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988.

No part of this publication may be reproduced without the author’s permission.

Published at Smashwords.

Copyright 201




I hereby wish to acknowledge the grateful assistance of Mr Thomas Goddard, Mr Paul McGonigal and Dr Alex Nielsen for the enthusiasm, suggestions, expertise and advice which they have extended to me in the writing of this book. As the author, I of course assume full responsibility for any deficiencies that may still remain.








  1   A Comradely Debt

2  A Prophecy, Room Service and an SOS

3  A Resolution

4 A Scholar and a Soiree

5 Induction and “Gifts”

6 Whitewash and an Old Enemy

7 A Tart’s Tale

8  Subterfuge and Threats

9  A Room with a Partner

“Caviar.” Perfidy. Inducement.

An Epiphany

Into Theatre

  Band of Brothers

  Deprivation & Debauchery

  Captives and the Hunt

  A View to a Kill

  Adulation & Ascent

Surveillance & Ambush.

A Tea Party & the Devil’s Mouth.

Crossing the Rubicon....A Picnic

Hanging by a Thread

Into the Abyss

Illumination, Infamy & Capitulation.

The Gauntlet of Ignominy

Games, Indiscretion & Megalomania

Flight & Fog

A Fiend. A Traitor. An Annihilation.

Destruction & Death

Slaughter & Rescue

Death Chase. A Noble Sacrifice

Reflection & Retribution.

An “Inconvenience” Flushed Away.

Comrades Delivered and an Adieu

A First Class Diversion.

An Inquisition and a Spy Revealed.

A Casus Belli

A Toast into the Heart of Darkness

Turkish Delight











“....The Valiant Never Taste of Death but Once,
” was the Shakespearean quote
that came to mind, as I led my platoon ahead of the rest of the company. I was still a Lieutenant at the time. We were three months into our tour as part of the UNPROFOR force. One day on patrol we went to a small hamlet called Vania Goric that sat on a slight plateau overlooking a forest. It consisted of merely three houses, a barn and outhouse. The weather was muggy and wet; there had been light showers all morning which had now ceased. We arrived to find the occupants all dead their corpses scattered around, lying where they had fallen. The dead included two children. The only thing that had survived was a wretched looking dog that was whimpering with fear as it mourned over its dead master.


It was in the 1990’s when our regiment the 9
Berkshire Hussars was sent to the Balkans after Yugoslavia disintegrated and reverted back to its ancient hatreds. Our task was to stop inter-ethnic fighting. Our UN mandate was hopelessly inadequate. We ended up arriving in the aftermath of killings, rapes and arson visited upon village after village. I remember one middle aged woman looking me in the eye, her face contorted with emotion and psychological trauma the likes of which I would rather not imagine, asking me with bitter disdain, as buildings smouldered and corpses lay around us, what was the point of us the British Army being here if we weren’t going to prevent these outrages. I felt deeply ashamed. We had seen civilians upon whom the foulest outrages had been committed and many of my men were reminded of their own families. Every man in the regiment would have preferred it enormously if we were to fight these gangs of murderers and see how they fared against other fighting men, rather than unarmed civilians. Then one day as circumstances would have it our wish was granted.......


One of my men Private Jones discovered a smouldering cigarette butt; he retrieved it and handed it to me.

“Looks as if we just missed them sir
,” he said.

I examined the butt and recognised it
as “Best” a Serbian brand that the local Bosnians didn’t smoke; it had been discarded just minutes earlier. I looked around at the surrounding countryside and realised that the smoker of this cigarette and his accomplices could be watching us at this very moment. Just then the familiar figure of Sergeant Hopkins appeared next to me. He was six foot one, intelligent and widely respected as the consummate NCO.

“Sir?” he asked slightly out of breath.

“Hopkins I believe we’ve missed the killers by minutes,” I said indicating the butt, “Make sure the men remain vigilant until we know otherwise.”

No sooner were the words out of my mouth when I heard a rattling sound in the distance. It was coming from down in the forest to our left. My ears pricked up as did those of everyone else. It stopped and then there was silence. I held my breath. Then it started again this time much louder. My doubts were dispelled in an instant. It was machine gun fire!

My men duly took cover behind whatever was nearest to hand. I hid behind the Warrior Vehicle nearest to me with one of the houses covering my back.

I turned to Hopkins, “Get the men ready!” I ordered.

“Yes sir,” he said firmly as he removed the safety catch on his weapon and barked to the men to do the same. I heard that familiar metallic click reverberate around the hamlet as the men obeyed. Sitting around the exposed hamlet, whilst those who had just butchered its inhabitants could take pot shots at us from the cover of the woods was not an enviable prospect, nor one that I was prepared to countenance.

“Hopkins, get Second Lieutenant Sinclair,” I ordered.

Just then I heard the sound of gunfire, but this time louder than before. Suddenly an upper floor window of the house behind me was smashed to pieces and there were small puffs of dust across the wall where bullets had hit the brickwork. These bastards clearly mean business I mused, trying to remain phlegmatic.

Just then Lieutenant Andrew Sinclair appeared beside me, slightly out of breath, “Tarquin it looks as if we
’ve a chance to take on these murderers at last!” he said elatedly.

“This is not a bloody game
!” I said in reproach, causing him to sober up somewhat, “You’re to stay here and hold our position. I’m going into the woods with half a dozen men in order to outflank them.”



Hopkins followed me with five men as we crouched down and ran leaving the hamlet and descended down into the cover of the woods. Each of us was armed with our SA80 machine guns. A moment after entering the woods we stopped and knelt down to get a better grasp of the enemy’s whereabouts. Officially they were not the British Arm
y’s enemies and we were not combatants but peacekeepers. I couldn’t give a tinker’s cuss about such definitions! Anyone who shoots at me and my men was the enemy as far as I was concerned and would be treated accordingly. If the truth be told I wanted blood and if I know anything about my men so did they. The hamlet was behind us, the enemy was to our left. In other words we were I calculated approaching their left flank. Just then we heard some more machine gun fire coming from our left which seemed to confirm my conclusions.

“I would guess they’re about fifty metres ahead sir”, said Hopkins thoughtfully as he strained to hear the firing.

“Yes,” I agreed, “We will move forward cautiously in an arc and then when I judge we have closed to about ten we will engage them.”

I detected a smile on his face as he concurred. I had three men either side of me, at two metres intervals with Hopkins on my left – one from the end. We crept forward as stealthily as possible, stopping every few moments to reconnoitre the ground in front of us.


Moments later we could he
ar the enemy talking and laughing. As we tentatively moved a little forward, the vegetation ahead of us became less dense and several men with guns, dressed in military type dress became visible. I watched them for a moment. They were an irregular assortment of militiamen, some smoking and one drinking. Their amusement showed their callous disregard for human life and for that of my soldiers whom they had been trying to kill. These men were without doubt, utterly remorseless. I visualised the image of some of their victims who had been shown no mercy. They would now get a taste of their own “medicine.” This was human filth I was looking at. We would open fire first before they saw us - for it would be a pleasure to wipe this scum off the face of the earth. Then abruptly I thought I recognised one of them. I strained to look and was convinced; it was a Russian by the name of Yuri Gromyko. He was a wanted criminal; his picture having been circulated once it became known that he was aiding the Serbians in atrocities. He was a big brute - a completely cruel sadistic inhumane psychopath, whom it was rumoured had come from Russia for the specific “sport” of raping and killing. His description as I recall was six foot three heavily built, with a 3 inch vertical scar on the left side of his face - starting from next to his eye down his cheek, which served to make him look even more odious than he was - if such a thing was possible.


Their firing at my platoon had been intermittent since we had entered the woods. It occurred to me that my platoon in Vania Goric may well have suffered several casualties. I looked to my left and right – my men were crouching down or in some other way concealed, awaiting my orders. They were ready. Carpe diem I thought, as I raised my SA80 and took aim, I saw the men either side of me from the corner of my eyes do the same. I took aim and simultaneously pressed the trigger and my gun sprang into life, spraying automatic fire at the enemy. But this was seven guns in unison and the clatter and vibration was deafening. I was on pure adrenaline as we moved forward, all now standing - with the enemy fleeing or falling before us. I was momentarily intoxicated with exhilaration, as leaves were shredded and branches snapped before us, such was the intensity of our fire. We ran through the woods to the spot where the enemy had been when we’d opened our murderous fire. Five men were dead; their bodies lay contorted, twisted and drenched in blood. Whilst one was still alive but barely conscious, sprawled on the ground where he had fallen, blood oozing from his wound. He gasped for help. Hopkins stood over him, looked down at the man in enmity and revulsion and then without any compunction dispatched him by bayonet – deep into his chest. It was a primordial moment between hunter and prey as their eyes met - beautiful as it was brutal. It was also an act of kindness, as it relieved the man of unnecessary suffering as his wounds were beyond redemption. It also relieved the world of a complete bastard, who had murdered innocent civilians and had been trying to kill me and my men. Yuri Gromyko was not among the dead alas. He had escaped. What kudos it would have been to have killed him!


As we surveyed our surroundings in every direction standing amongst the corpses - ever at the ready, I could hear a distant sound in the direction from whence we had just come. It was sporadic gunfire! My men were looking apprehensive.

“What do you think?” I asked Hopkins.

He pondered and then said, “I think there are more of them than we rightly thought sir.”

“Sir,” I turned around it was Jones; he was down on one knee with his SA80 trained in the direction of the some bushes slightly to the right of the direction from where we had come.

“What is it?”

“There’s someone over there sir, can’t tell how many,” he said urgently in whispers.

The tension was palpable. We were I was convinced, about to be attacked. The men who had fled our fire might return with reinforcements from one direction, there was gunfire at a distance in the opposite direction that appeared to be getting closer and now this. Suddenly there was a rustling of leaves and the sound of a twig breaking. All of us in unison trained our guns in that direction. We were all on edge. I was in a cold sweat, my throat parched.

“Hold your fire,” I ordered.

The whole place seemed to have gone quiet, the distant gunfire had ceased at least for the moment and the only sound I could hear above the slight breeze of the wind was my heart beating.

“TARQUIN!” I heard bellowed from the exact direction where we had our guns trained.

“This is Sinclair. Lieutenant Collingwood? Hopkins is that you?”

I breathed a sigh of relief, but before I could reply I heard, “If you do not respond I shall be forced to open fire
.” What audacity I thought.

“Sinclair it’s me.....Tarquin,” I said wearily as I stood up cautiously, only to see Sinclair and two soldiers appear from behind the bushes
; the sight of whom caused the men to relax.

BOOK: Distant Annihilation. (Tarquin Collingwood Adventures Book 1)
3.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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