“That is a dispersed frequency radio,” Miao grumbled. “It cannot be jammed!”
”It must be the Americans!” Sheng said. “Their CIA is the world leader on electronic interference. However, I think we can raise Air Base T19. One moment.”
Miao waited impatiently, finally hearing “Air Base T19, Flight Leader Yi speaking. This is irregular? What is your issue, Base 137?”
“This is Battalion Leader Miao, Base 137, Commanding. We are under attack by unknown low-altitude flying devices armed with unknown laser weapons. Our communications with Lhasa are being jammed. Please forward our report to Army Command, Lhasa.”
“Flight Leader Yi here. I am unable to comply with your request. Lhasa is under attack. We cannot reach them. Their last report said they were being overrun by unknown forces.
“Wait,” Miao said, “how can Lhasa be overrun? With the Indian lies about us, it has two mechanized regiments as a garrison.” And why didn’t Beijing tell me about this? he wondered.
“Unknown, Comrade Battalion Commander. However, I’m needed here,” Yi responded.
“Please send us air support! Miao out.”
“Comrade Battalion Commander!” Corporal Yao exclaimed. “Post Seven reports many blue lights crossing Ridge 137, bearings 274 to 293.”
“Corporal Yao,” Miao said, “Please ask Post Seven to give us an accurate count for many.” So much, he thought for our training in accurate reconnaissance reporting. Yao began shouting into his telephone. “Corporal Tan, please get me Senior Company Leader Xi on the phone.”
“Xi here!” The voice on Miao’s phone was sharply clipped.
“Miao here. Illuminating rounds this side of Ridge 137. Fire immediately. Prepare for observed fire same location. Ready plot for east – near — end of track West Seven.” Miao looked across the room. “Sheng? Is there any activity on the perimeter radars?”
“No, Comrade Battalion Commander,” Sheng answered. “However, they are range-gated, to short of Ridge 137. That range is fixed in the core programming and cannot be altered.”
“Excellent report, Sheng! Ma, make a note of that.” Miao leaned back in his chair. What was going on? His thoughts were punctuated by the sharp reports of the base’s Type 64 120mm mortars being fired. Not a modern weapon, he thought, not self propelled, but works just fine for base defense, not to mention targets out to 9 kilometers. Another minute, he thought, and we will see the enemy.
“Giant insects!” Corporal Jiang screamed into his telephone. “Post Eight. They are praying mantises! Ten feet tall! What do I do?”
Not waiting for orders, Pang opened fire on the enemy, his QBZ03 battle rifle on full automatic. Jiang noticed a dismaying lack of effect in the targets. Of course, he thought, that assumed that Pang had recently learned how to hit the broad side of a barn, which seemed improbable.
A line of incandescent blue fire passed just above Jiang’s watch post. “Cease fire, you idiot!” Jiang shouted at Pang. “We’re here to observe! You’re drawing their fire!” Jiang tried to pull the rifle from Pang’s hands. Pang, however, had spent much of his admittedly not long life as a peasant farmer, finally realizing that the People’s Liberation Army looked to be a better career choice. The muscles that never dropped hoe or axe did not release his rifle.
“Taking forward observation position, as per plan,” Private Dai announced as he slipped off the edge of the watch tower and skittered down the stairs to the ground. The forward position had heavy cover from above, enough that Dai was alive and uninjured when the last fragments of two bodies and Post Eight’s wreckage finished dropping on the ground behind him.