Battle For the Bluff (The Settlement: Book One), by Bruce Cole

New Battle For the Bluff (The Settlement: Book One), by Bruce Cole (Fiction)

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The day the nukes dropped and resulting EMPs were set off across the world, was the day the world was reset to the pre-industrial era. Millions died from the blasts, billions died within years from the radiation. The few who survived in protected micro-climates now face a new enemy.
Brad, a retired SASR soldier must fight to protect his home and the people he cares about in a world divided. 
The Scavengers, a roaming mob who thrive within a climate of no law, have targeted the once peaceful West Coast settlement for their next prize. 
Brad’s home is about to become a battleground and now he must face down the horrors of his past to become the leader his people so desperately need, before it’s too late.

From: Battle For the Bluff (The Settlement: Book One), by Bruce Cole

Prologue

The Black Hawk came in on a steep bank, giving its occupants a brief view of the sprawling Bagram airbase spread out below them. To avoid enemy fire, the pilot brought it down as quickly as possible and flared at the last moment to land gently under the guidance of the crewman leaning out the open door. The two Apache helicopters that had escorted them in, peeled off to land in their own respective spots. A military ambulance, and two six-wheeled Land Rovers with small Australian Flags painted on them, pulled up just beyond the blades as the pilots went through their shut down procedures. A couple of medics jumped out of the ambulance and ran to the cabin where the four soldiers had already disembarked, dumping their packs on the ground and carrying a fifth man on a stretcher. The leader who was holding an IV bag, thrust it at the medic and they moved at pace to load the injured man in the back of the ambulance. The medic climbed in the back and instructed the others to follow in the vehicles behind.

“Like fuck that’s happening,” the leader said with a strong Australian accent. “That’s my man, and I’m going with him.” His tone was steel-edged and brooked no argument. The medic nodded and he climbed in with the injured man. The leader called back to the others, “See you back at the Operation Room,” they just nodded and went to jog back to the chopper to pick up the packs but discovered they’d already been loaded into the vehicles by the two drivers.

The ambulance pulled away and the medic started recording the vital signs of the injured man, but his eyes kept being drawn back to the leader. His hair was below his shoulders, his face weathered from being exposed to the elements. His beard was long and unkempt, clothes well-worn and bloodstained; but his rifle was immaculate. He was watching his comrade with icy blue eyes and a level of detachment that told the medic this was a hardened and seasoned soldier. The only people that looked like that were Special Forces, and with his Australian accent, he assumed the man must be a member of the Special Air Service Regiment from Perth.

An hour later, the leader, arrived back at the Australian camp and headed into the Ops room where the Officer Commanding, Major Little, was waiting. The other three men from the patrol were also with him, awaiting news of their injured friend.

“Brad, how’re you doing?” the OC asked.

“Bit rough boss, but such is life.” Brad looked to the others, “Kiwi didn’t make it.”

Profanities filled the room and one of the men walked over and punched a wall with a loud crack. Once the initial outburst died down, there was just empty, awful silence.

“You want to put off the debrief until after you’ve cleaned up?” Little asked, reading the room.

Brad just shook his head and gritted his teeth, “May as well get it over with.”

They relayed their post-mission report to Little for the next hour, including details of the contact from each person’s angle and how Kiwi got shot. Once they’d finished the OC wrapped it up and dismissed them, but as Brad went to leave, Little stopped him, “Sorry mate but I have to ask; you put in for a discharge at the end of this tour but before I sign off on it to pass up the chain, I need to be sure there’s nothing we can do to keep you in?”

Brad, had served in so many hell holes, he’d lost track of on how many tours he been on. He shook his head, looking solemnly at the younger, but senior ranked man, “I’ve lost too many mates already boss, and I think 21 years is enough time served.”

“We could offer you a commission?” Little said dangling the offer of a promotion to officer as an enticement to stay, but Brad just stifled a laugh.

“An O? No offence boss, but no fucking way. Why do you think I kept knocking back promotions? The higher you get, the more paperwork you do, that’s not my thing,” he said with a tired smile.

“Okay, I’ll sign it and send it off this afternoon. I take it you’re going to have a drink with the boys?” Little asked, knowing the tradition where each man put money behind the bar so if they were killed, they’d do the last shout. This would be Kiwi’s farewell and Brad needed to be there.

Brad nodded his head, “Boys are probably already on it, so I’ll get cleaned up and join them.” Turning, he went to say goodbye to Kiwi.

The next three months went by in a blur for Brad, he had handed in all his issued kit and walked out the barracks at Swanbourne on his last day, as a civilian. Part of him was sad to leave such a big part of his life behind, but he also felt like he’d been given a breath of fresh air.

During the last three months he had used up all his leave, visiting places he’d always wanted to see. On his trip around New Zealand, he’d taken a wrong turn while driving up the West Coast and ended up in a small village tucked up against a towering limestone bluff. Getting out of his rental car, he had taken in the surroundings, the lush vegetation, the roaring of distant surf and the call of native birds. He felt a warmth creep into his soul and had instantly fallen in love with the place. He had come home.

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