Shaparov's Last Stand

The pitch dark night enveloped the grassy Russian plains. A young lone guard was circling a small townhouse cottage at the edge of a small village. He wore a red bandana over his face, with only a slit allowed for his eyes. An old bandolier was slung across his dusty camouflage uniform, and he was looking forward to the comforts of bed as he fingered his AK-47 sleepily. His commander was sure taking his time inside.

Of course, the guard knew what was going on inside the small village cottage he was pacing around. Deals were being made. The world's future was being shaped. His commander, Commander Desya Shaparov, was making a business deal that would give the Ultranationalist party unmeasureable power. The sleepy guard smiled at that thought, and began to hum an old Soviet war tune as he rounded a corner.

A shadow blurred, a knife appeared out of nowhere and was instantly slit across the guard's throat. The guard stumbled without a sound into the soft grass. The shadow hid his knife and inspected the body. A small lamplight revealed the features of the shadow. He was wearing dark body armor over black camouflage, and had an equally black scuba mask over his face. He was an SAS operative.

The SAS soldier looked behind his shoulder at a reasonable sized pond that was situated next to the cottage and nodded.

"Tango down."

As if on cue, four more SAS troopers slowly rose out of the pond.

They waded through the knee deep water and crawled onto the shore. The lead SAS operative turned to the assassin and exclaimed in an English accent, "Excellent knife work, Gilbert. He didn't know what hit him."

"I try my best, sir." Gilbert replied, unslinging his M4 carbine from his back.

The leader looked around the cottage and their surroundings, amused.

"I guess you needn't try. This man Shaparov is probably new around here, as he had to choose a house with no windows on it to do his dirty work." He remarked.

"Typical Soviet." Gilbert replied.

"Now, let's see if our prize in the target house. Watkins, upload the receiver. Rest of you, stay on watch for any kind of disturbance."

Watkins walked up to the cottage and ran his fingers alongside the wall. He found a small hole between two boards and bent down to listen. There was Russian chattering on the other side of the wall. Watkins uncoiled a thick, black wire from his backpack and slid the receiver into the hole. He put on some headphones and listened. He then pulled out a PDA and uploaded the sound into it. Sound waves scrolled across the screen. Watkins then rewound the wire and looked at his PDA.

"We've got a voice match, sir." He said. "Commander Desya Shaparov is confirmed inside the building."

"Good." The SAS commander replied, satisfied. "Big Bird, what is your ETA?"

"Gamma One, This is Big Bird. We're about five minutes outside your position. How much time will you need?" replied a deep, professional voice replied over the commander's headset.

"About two minutes for the entire operation."

"Roger that. We're closing in on the marked LZ about fifty meters from your position. Good luck. Big Bird out."

A click of sound and end of static signified the end of the communication. The SAS leader turned to his men.

"We'll go in hard and take Charlie down. However, leave Shaparov alive. Command wants him for interrogating. Injure him in the leg or something. Everybody copy?"

"Yes, sir." The four men acknowledged. They took up positions near the door.

The commander held up a hand. "Steady…"

Now was the chance. The tension began to rise. How many people were inside the cottage? Two? Four? Ten? Anything more than six Tangos was big trouble.

The commander took a deep breath. This could be the last feeling he ever felt. Fear.

"Steady…"

The other soldiers were all tense and waiting for the command. Watkins gripped his shotgun tighter. Gilbert was hugging his M4 like a baby.

"On my mark…"

The SAS commander could feel heat blossom on his face and bit his lip. It was now or never.

"Go!"

Yelling those words, the commander blasted both of the hinges on the door with his shotgun and kicked it down with one strong boot.

The SAS troopers rushed in, yelling. Commander Shaparov looked up from a map on a table in surprise. His two guards were surprised as well, but only for a second, as they were both cut down in a flurry of shotgun blasts and automatic weapons fire.

"There! That's him!" Gilbert yelled, and aimed his carbine at Shaparov's right leg.

Shaparov reached across the table in a vain attempt to grab his pistol. A puff of smoke shot out of his arm as well as his right leg, and he fell, yelping.

Everybody was shouting at once. Watkins was confused because there were only three hostiles in the building. Gilbert was threatening Shaparov with his carbine. A weakened Shaparov was trying to fight back, but couldn't, and was on the ground in a daze. The SAS commander was trying to keep order and attempting to contact Big Bird at the same time for evac.

"How the hell are there only three in here? And they're all from the same faction! Intel claimed there was a deal taking place!"

"Don't make me shoot you again, you barmy Russian!"

"Gilbert, come to your senses! Big Bird, we need evac now!"

"paashol v'chorte!"

"I think the deal has happened already!"

"Big Bird! Do you copy? Where the hell are you?"

"Shut up! You go to hell, you bitch!"

"Everyone, pipe down! I hear a noise!"

All the commotion disappeared, and they listened intently.

First, a rumble. Then came the distinct chain striking metal sound of tanks.

Russian shouting was heard outside, and Shaparov started laughing.

"I am never unprepared, you filthy Englishman."

Gilbert grabbed Shaparov by the collar and shoved the barrel of his shotgun into Shaparov's forehead.

"Stay silent or you shall die by my hand!"

"Gilbert, quiet!" The SAS commander looked around the room for another exit.

"These cottages don't come without underground cellars. Watkins, Grant, Give me some help."

The three soldiers began flipping over cabinets and chairs in search of a door that would lead them down to an escape.

"There is none." Shaparov smiled and stared the barrel of Gilbert's shotgun. "You might as well kill me now."

"Quiet, Shaparov! I'm in a nark mood today, so you better not bloody make my mood worse!"

Shaparov inclined his head.

"Oh really? You see, commando, those are not my forces."

Every SAS soldier in the room stared at Shaparov.

"What do you mean?" Asked the commander. Dread was beginning to build up.

Shaparov smiled again. "Those are units from the Soviet military. They are responding to a lead that would lead them to the terrorist Imran Zakhaev. However, they will not get that far."

The SAS commander slowly began to walk over to Shaparov.

"And what exactly do you mean by that?" he asked again.

"With one blow, I shall wipe out thousands of Soviet troops, creating political instability in the Soviet government! The Cold War will escalate! The stakes will raise! A new order will arise!"

"Are you getting all of this, Big Bird?" The SAS commander turned on his radio. The Russian shouting was getting louder.

"I copy, but I have no idea what he's talking about. We'll have to reestablish contact with command."

"He's gone bloody crazy!" Gilbert steadied his aim on Shaparov's head.

"We can still make it," the commander looked around, "Big Bird, I'm changing the landing coordinates. The new LZ is in a clearing in the woods about five clicks from here. We'll have to avoid the Soviet troops to ensure nothing extreme happens."

"Roger that, Gamma One. I'm closing in."

Shaparov looked at Gilbert, gave him a face, and announced, "The deal was finished hours ago. I will now complete my side of the bargain. The world shall be changed! Forever!"

Gilbert spotted a small portable device in Shaparov's left hand. He immediately recognized what it was.

"WATCH IT! NUCLEAR DETONATOR!"

Gilbert made a lunged for it. Shaparov rolled aside and pushed the button.

The SAS commander looked on in horror.

A few miles away, the Chernobyl plant exploded.