Entry 28 – The Village
As it often happens, the ambush came when we were expecting it the least, almost at the end of our journey. We arrived at the outskirts of a village on the coast of the Mediterranean but instead of the usual suspicious welcome of village defenders ostensibly brandishing their weapons, there was no-one in sight. The sounds of gunfire could be heard in the distance but we made nothing of it – until bullets, like raindrops, started pelting the leading Jaguar. Everyone riding on top of the vehicles ran for cover or hid inside with our turrets starting to turn, seeking their prey.
Thermal imaging showed the real state of things. The rooftops were full of combatants – we could clearly recognize them on our screens. Most were armed with older rifles and machineguns but some even carried anti-tank weaponry. This wasn't that uncommon – in fact, such weapons are hardly ever used against armored vehicles in real life. Instead, they work like fast-moving grenades, hungrily biting chunks of masonry out of walls and buildings.
That was a serious problem. Our armor was built to save the people inside, which it would, but a single hit could very easily immobilize any of our vehicles, effectively resulting in a total loss of that machine as we couldn't repair such damage in the field. Furthermore, these likely weren't bandits; these were men and women defending their homes against armed intruders. With no other option, I issued the order to retreat. Espinoza disagreed but I wasn't about to massacre a whole lot of innocents.
It took us several hours to bypass the village and by the end of the detour, we understood the reaction completely. The village was effectively under siege from a group of bandits armed with AKs and pickups. From our distance, we could clearly see the vehicles circling the outskirts, looking for a way in to pillage and murder.
In such situations, it's really tough to not get involved and not to make any rushed decisions. But the sight of the scum that clearly wasn't from around here firing indiscriminately at the buildings just didn't allow me to let it go and move on. I ordered a few precise bursts from the Jaguar. I must admit that seeing the pick-ups burning and would-be marauders scattering like rabbits as fast as they could gave me a great sense of satisfaction. Perhaps now the villagers would be safer – the word of such an incident would spread far and wide, something I would definitely try to avoid earlier. I was thankful for having to make the decision on our last leg of the trip.
I was also grateful that we were relatively close to our objective and barely an hour after the incident we started encountering patrols of the Barcelona perimeter. The word clearly hasn't gotten to them yet as no alarm was raised, but risking an encounter with Spanish regulars was the last thing I desired. Luckily, the patrol grid was fairly sparse and we managed to slip through. Once we were almost discovered by a patrolling military fire support vehicle, a Spanish version of the Centauro.
Truth to be told, I think the patrol saw us but decided we were not worth risking their lives over, a sad state of things indeed.