The vision feed on the screen in the briefing room swooped through the buildings, white and yellow in the hot sun, of the border outpost at Jeg, to take a long ground level run around a compound perimeter fence. Then it swooped back through the buildings, giving a good view of the grey-brown enemy uniforms at the border post itself and outside both the customs building and the caravanseri. It flew up the caravanseri wall, incidentally providing excellent footage of two anti-aircraft guns bracketing that axis of the outpost and gained altitude for an aerial sweep of the entire almost-village, including the enemy compound.
“That’s what we have on the Protectorate’s remaining incursion on our territory,” said the briefing officer, “as of an hour before noon today. As you can see, after our raid on their air depot at Ammun they’ve prepared for an aerial attack and they have control of the Custom Service’s ground vehicle surveillance system.” Someone in the audience groaned loudly. “That’s right. We walk. Through the Empty Quarter.” He indicated the arid section to the north of their target. “While we walk they will be…encouraged to concentrate on other approaches.”
So they walked, all night, a mixed force of Jackals, Hyenas and Wolves, together with a light screen of Foxes and Vipers. In three nights they crossed 250 kilometres of stony plains and dry creek washes by starlight and moonlight, huddling by day in deeper creek washes where there was shade to cling to and water to dig for. They had trained for this, but they still lost some men to poisonous bites and stings or unstable footing.
When the younger morning star and the star Rendoser rose in the third morning’s predawn, the five hundred man Protectorate occupation force at the border crossing was already under unfriendly guns.