Maneuvers 3- a Ganic Story

*pit* *pat* *pit* *pat*

  Ye know… I used to like the rain.  So I got muddy…a bath or a swim could and would fix that.  It’s when you are trying to be sneaky or get the hell out of dodge that it becomes a curse with a blessing…


  We left that house early the next night, Phantom as quiet as a mouse and twice as tight as a snare drum.  There was just something that was bugging him and it was starting to carry over to the rest of the team.  The two lovers were part of the problem, I’m sure… but they were out cold and cuffed to each other.  At least when they awoke in two days, they’d be happy about that.  But the fact they were even there…  that was the itch and the bitch.

    Needless to say it was Not Good for the team to be buggin… but as it turned out, we had a very good reason in the end.

  Traipsing up the mountain, we hit the agreed rally point a pair of klicks away from the target.  Bustin’ out a map of the AO, Scottie held the map for the LT to parcel out responsibilities.  We had gone over it before but it never hurts to hash it out again.

  Abdul and Tiny were the close-cover men for this op, their RPK and SAW being our heavy guns, capable of cutting down lots of baddies… or at least keeping heads down.  Tiny was also the Demo guy so if we needed to blow something, he’d have to break off and come do his job.  No biggie but we were not expecting to blow anything this trip other than the occasional door or diversion.

  Hayseed was the Lone Gunman, his SDM-16 being wicked accurate and the boy himself a scary marksman.  It would be his responsibility to pick off anyone giving us too much grief or put a nail in the Target if we couldn’t get him.  Judging from the map, a barn a quarter-mile away should be sufficient for that job.

Me and Tiger paired off with an SAS man apiece, our firepower supplementing the suppressed guns of the UK boys.  Sterling’s are nice but a tad underpowered… not that our M4’s are much better but they aren’t stopped as easy by furniture.  Add in I had the under-barrel blooper, most discussions we would have would be short.

  The LT would ride piggy-back with us till we got in, where he’d be the one to do the tagging; his Russian dart gun (a gift from the Spetznaz boys we trained with in Moscow- long story there) being damn good for it as it delivered an electric shock and sleep drug at the same time- thirty seconds or less, according to the russki’s.

  The plan, as it was, was to slip in close and observe the place, looking for his Scummy-ness and move to extract.  The next night was when we’d move in and do the deed.  Pays to recon in case somebody miscounted bodies or something.


  Things went from bad to worse…

  We managed to get up to that barn with no problem.  No body home either, which made it great for the resident redneck and a nice fall-back point.  It was when we did our sneak in the rain up to the dacha that we found out why things seemed too good.

  The place was crawling with Serb gunmen.

  Instead of the thirty or so guards and possible armored car, Scumbag had twice that and a pair of BMP’s sitting in the courtyard.  Add in the two towed ZSU 23’s and it made for a really bad day if you got caught on the receiving end.

  Well… this was a pickle.


  Phantom convened a mini-conference with us back in the barn when we cleared the place.  “Ok… it’s apparent someone fucked up here…” He said, more than a touch of anger in his voice.  “I know the answer already but I wanna make sure…  How much in the way of egg crackers do we have?”

  I did the math on the 40-mill ammo I had.  “I got three HEDP and two willy; the rest is frag.”  I have never felt so naked before…

  Irish, Hayseed and Scottie shook their heads. They had notin’ as they were not demo or anti-armor specialists.  They killed people, not tanks.

 Tiger reached into his pack and pulled out a satchel charge.  “I got this but someone got to get really close.”  God bless the little bastard for insisting on being assistant Demo guy.

  Tiny looked up from the notebook he carried.  “I can gimmick about four anti-armor charges but they are back deck or tread only kind-a-things.  No way I am punching through the front with C-4”

  Phantom nodded.  “Ok…  we got enough to do this but it will be dicey at the absolute best.  Tiny, set up your charges and hand them off to the breachers; its going to be us that has to do this.  Archer,” He said, looking at me.  “Don’t you miss…”

  “Who me?  They are big as Master Chief’s Ego.  Just no way…”

  A grin.  “Just sayin’, alright?”    Turning back to the rest of men, Phantom just shook his head.  “Intel screwed the pooch on this but its doable.  We proceed… just make sure everyone’s crap works right before we head in tomorrow night.”

  A chorus of agreement and we broke to check gear and get rest before tomorrow nights festivities.  Looking at my gear, I could only hope nothing else went silly on this trip.


  :: Archer, Hayseed… one to your two o’clock, ten meters::

  ::check; got him::

::Tiny, watch your eight, mate::


  ::Epsilon, Lead…  stand to::

  Sixty seconds passed… and the eight of us all tensed up, fingers on triggers and small beads of sweat mixing with the light rain that was *still* falling…

  Rotten weather… at least it helped us get in close.

  ::Stand by…::

  An explosion of lights came on in the main house as some shouting began.  As I had a fairly good command of Serb, translation usually fell to me.

<Get the Guards up!  Now damn-it!!  Radovan’s boy told him he had seen some Americans a day ago; they beat him up and raped his girl…  They might be here now!>

  Aw suck…  Not only is this blown, we get accused of extra curricular too.  Don’t that beat all?  ::Lead, Archer.  We’re fucked::

::Epsilon Lead….  DO IT!!::

  Not what I was expecting… but it would work.

  Stepping out, I snap sighted the -203 into the nearest BMP and fired.  The 40-millimeter charge arc’d over the space and slammed into the rear hatch where fuel was kept on these things (whata stupid place).  The round’s explosion neatly tore into the fuel tank and set it off like a howitzer, sending shrapnel everywhere and anywhere.

  I could see single men dropping from around one of the ZSU’s, head and throat shots.  Hayseed is a scary dude with that thing…

  Moving along side Irish, we hauled ass across the courtyard and towards the stairs to the porch.  Irish pitched the mini-charge Tiny had gave him into the second BMP, its back door open and a body half in it.

  Good thing too as the turret on the beast began to slew towards us when the charge went off.  Said slew immediately stopped as screams could be heard slightly over the din of weapons fire.

  Getting to the porch, the four of us spread out and picked targets as LT hit the doorway at a run.  With a solid boot to the door jamb, he kicked it open and dove in firing his SD5.  Scotty ducked in after him then Irish, leaving me and Tiger to hold the doorway.

  Out there in the mess, I could hear the sounds of several RPK’s and the lighter ripping sound of Tiny’s SAW.  A cascade of AK fire was prevalent too.. but not as worrisome as most of it was not pointed at me.

  But some was and that where Tiger n’ I got busy.

    On my fourth mag change, the LT came out with Scumbag over his shoulder.  “Head for the garage!”

  All of us beat feet for the Dacha’s detached garage, a good sized three door/two story affair.  I could see Abdul and Tiny there already as we hit the already open side door.

  Inside was a pair of motorcycles and an older Toyota Landcruiser.   Well… it *was* big enough but did it have gas?

  While Tiny and Abdul kept heads down, I scurried over to the SUV as I expected to get told to-

  “Jim, get that bitch running; no way in hell we are getting out on foot!”

  “Step ahead of ya, Boss,” A crash of window glass as I busted it to get at the doorlock.  Tossing my rifle to Irish to use, I climbed in, leatherman in my hand to hotwire this baby.

  Weapons-fire picked up and the wood door of the garage started to get holes…


  “C’mon Laddie… the native are getting’ a wee restless!!”  The thump of the 203 punctuated Irish’s brogue.  “Verra Restless, really…”

  “Almost got it…”  I yelled as I finally got the stink’n glow-plugs to kick in.  Damn diesels… five seconds later, she fired up.  “Done!!  Everyone get in!”

::Hayseed, cover us on our evac- we’re in the red Toyota.:: Phantom said into the network as he threw scumbag into the cargo area.  “Jim- everyone’s on the bus!” He yelled as he dove in too.

  The second the LT landed inside, I floored it through the doors.  Splinters everywhere, I immediately felt the thump of two unlucky gunmen bounce off the bumper as I hauled the truck around for the gates out.  I really hoped they were open…

  “Shit!!  Brakes!”  Yelled Tiger and I mashed them once; good thing too as the smoke trail of an RPG round beat us to the gates and blasted them to hell.  Well, if they weren’t open before, they were now.

  “Nice of them to open the door don’t you think?” I hollered as I floored the accelerator once more and raced out of the place like we stole something.

  Which, come to think of it, we did.


An hour and at least two destroyed pursuing GAZ jeeps later, the border of Serbia and Bosnia approached.  Looking down at the fuel gauge, I was not too happy- I had less than a quarter tank left and at least another hundred K of driving to go.

  In the rain, at least we could avoid air pursuit but it was the ground we were worried over; we can only go so fast and there was only us.  We needed to get another twenty klicks closer to the border before Air Evac could be called… or so LT was being told.

  “What do you mean we are on our own?!?  We got wounded, the package and we are being chased by some determined hounds…  Can’t a Pave Low get in here?  Or the Pave Hawk out of Bondsteel?”  A few second pause as the LT listened to the other end.  “Oh you are kidding me, right?”   Another pause.  “Crap.  Ok… we’ll get closer but you gotta get us some air or something.  We are almost Bingo Fuel and not much better on bullets either.

  A longer pause.  “Ok…  We’ll be there.  Make sure the French are.”  Hanging up, he stashed the satphone.  “Find the next road to Pljevlja and follow it.  Goes near a railroad line and we are to follow that towards the border.”

  “You’re kidding… right?”

  “No… I wish I was.”

  “Jeez…” Hayseed said, his arm starting to leak again from the seven-six-two he took getting in the Cruiser.  “Of all people to rely on, it’s the Frogs!”

  “Could be worse, Gustav,” Abdul said as he reached over with another bandage out of Irish’s bag.  “It could be the Italians…”

  “Not funny- Ow!”

  “I dinna care if its fairies…” Scotty said, nursing a graze on his head as Hayseed was being patched up.  “We gotta get thare and in one piece.”

  Grunts of agreement came as I spied a truck depot on the side of the road.  “Then we need a change of rides, guys”  I said as I steered over towards it.  Stopping in front of the gate, I waited for Tiger to get out with his pistol and pop the lock.

  Once popped, I drove in and headed for some vans off to the side.  Anything at this point was better than the shot up and almost out of fuel Cruiser.  “Ok… This bus is toast.  Time to transfer…”  Hopping out, I went to driver side window of the van

As I got ready to smash a window once more, I noticed the door was not locked.  Smiling, I opened the door and looked inside.  Noting the logbook and the various foodstuffs in a cooler, I pointed it out to the LT.  He nodded and grabbed Scottie; they were going to check the main building’s offices…

  “Well look at this shit…” Hayseed said as Tiny opened the door to the back.  Inside was a bunch of crates containing lots of items of interest.  Cigarettes, fruits, can goods… and a box of nine-mil ammo along with some pistols- Glocks by the look of them.

  “Well… sometimes crime does pay,” Tiny said as the sound of gunfire was heard.

 A second later… ::Relax…  he resisted.  Got the keys though::  Phantom said.  ::Get everyone aboard::

  Once Phantom came out, we headed out.  Holding up a lock, he motioned to stop at the gate.  Grinning I did so and he quick locked the gate behind us.

  Climbing back in, he motioned to drive.  “Get us out of here Jim…”


  Three hours later, we were rumbling along a rail track heading towards the border when we ran out of service road.  “Crap.”  I said as I threw it into park.  “I hope the Evac knows about this.”  Getting out, I went to the back door and walked right into the business end of FAMAS held by a rather bedraggled and dirty looking female.

  “Freeze Monsieur,” She said.  “I’d rather not have to blow out your spleen”

  Glancing around, I could see we were busted.  Six rifles were trained on us from various points and while some of us had guns up, not all of us did.  Oh god I hope this was the Frogs….  “Sure thing, doll…  Got nothing better to do right at the moment.”

  Nodding and giving a slight smile she shifted to take in the entire crew, who have been very quiet- rather smart, as this was decidedly not the time for violence.  “Zo…” she continued.  “Who would be Phantom?”  Ok there was some hope- maybe Missy here was sent by the French.

  “That would be me,” Tiger stepped up, all five-two of him.  “What you want?”

  “The real Phantom for starters, Monsieur… though I give you points for trying.”

  The LT gave a short wave.  “Ok then…  If you know who you want, then why ask?”

  A smile.  “Because I have a message for you and you in specific; it seems the Belgian in charge of the Detain and Intervention Directorate wishes to speak with you about your methods…  You are to go straight to Brussels, Le Commandant, when you get back to friendly ground. .”

  Phantom smiled.  “Oh that’s rich.  We got ‘im and he has problems with my methods?  He can wait as we got someone to take in here and my men to look after.  Jeez… and its Lieutenant, Mademoiselle.” 

  A sly smile as she motioned for her people to lower weapons.  “Oui.  I understand and I did not get it wrong.  Our ride should be here-“

  The sound of a pair of Gazelle Gunships pierced the air as they roared down the rails, bounding around the bend a mile distant.  Behind them, a Puma paced along.  Splitting apart, the gunships took up local station as the third chopper flared to a landing nearby.

  “-Right about now.”  A grin as she pointed towards the now grounded transport chopper.  “After you, Monsieurs…


  Well, it was a fun ride back to Bosnia and from Bondsteel to Belgium.  The French took our charge into custody and jetted him off to the Hague while we sat around licking wounds and wondering what sillyness was going to come up next.

  Phantom got promoted from Lieutenant to Lieutenant Commander…  and was promptly transferred away from detached duty with NATO.  The others also were pulled back to their various commands except me.

  Me? I wound up staying in Europe going to work for the Company because of my language skills on an Extended Detached Duty Tour.  It seems the Cold War never really did thaw as much as folks thought and Sarejavo was turning into the new Bern or Vienna; a hotbed of spies, lies and well, you know… Since I spoke the local languages and Russian, I was a commodity they wanted around. I also saw E6 out of all this. Something I didn’t expect, that’s for sure.

  So, I had a new job, new rank and would be drawing a second salary (double dipping is always nice) once I completed Diplomat and Spy school come the Summer of 2001.

Little did anyone know how the world was going to change not long after that.


Maneuvers 2- A Ganic story

  Yeah that Interesting Landing should have been a big clue as to the state of this op.  A really bigclue the size of the Ike…  but nothing to do about it but soldier on and hope Murphy was just funnin’ with us.

  Who was we kidding?


  After we cleaned up, stashed the chutes and pitched their guns, we set out towards this dot on the map that was the large ville of Ivanjica.  Seems our man maintained a little dacha on the mountain a dozen kilometers north of it and would be there for a three day window some two days from now.

  As we were about forty kilometers from there, we had some serious ground to make up and that little festive occasion at the LZ only made it more important to get out of the area.

  We covered some serious ground that night, managing about 12 kilometers over that terrain in the dark…. And no one’s Night-Vis crapped out either.  As sunlight began to peak across the mountains, we found shelter in a cave high up on a hill.  Very defensible and out of ready sight of anything so there was no accidental discovery to be chanced.

  A quiet morning and afternoon passed… and we rose with the sunset to beat some more feet on our journey.

  About halfway into the night’s jaunt, it began to rain.

  “Bloody zoomie weathermen.  Can’t they ever get a fookin’ thing right?”  Scottie grumbled as he found a puddle.

  “You are surprised how?”  Came the amused whisper from Tiger.  “Its just a bit of rain…”

  “Mate, the bloody weatherman said it would nae be any rain.  Cold maybe but nae rain.”

  “It’l pass.” I said.  “Ain’t like you never been muddy before.”

  “I’d like one time when I ain’t mate.”

  Like a ghost, the LT was there.  “Gentlemen….  I really would prefer you all to shut the fuck up cause they can hear you in Belgrade.”

  “Sorry Phantom”

  “Aye lad.  Sorry”

  “That’s better…  now let’s get going again, shall we?”  And back into the misty night he faded.

  That’s when I started to worry.  Phantom does *not* cuss.  Ever.

  Hayseed, never the brightest among us, noticed that too as he passed me for my turn as tail-end-charlie.  “LT’s a bit off ain’t he?”

  “Tell me about it, Gus,” was my whispered reply.  “I don’t like it either…”

    We made awesome time, despite the rain and made it to the outskirts of Ivanjica before the sun would think about rising, a light rain the entire way.

  Finding a small house on the outskirts, we busted a small window and slipped inside.  One by one we entered and covered each room as we made a fast sweep of the house.  No one was supposed to be here and barring any intell goofs, it should be right.  No cars at least and no kids toys either…. so no one here, right?

  Of course, there was…

  It was Hayseed and Tiger that found them- a pair of lovers locked in an embrace and asleep, covers askew and barely covering their nakedness.  The female must have felt or heard something as she opened her eyes as Tiger got close with some duct-tape.  “Ah-” Her scream was cut off in mid syllable as the Flip was on her like white on rice… tape over her mouth and a strong hand planted in the middle of her breasts pressing her to the bed.  She was not moving easy…

  Did I forget to mention the little bastard could bench the weight of any three of us combined?

  Hayseed came in and planted the barrel of his M4 in the face of the boy, the muzzle stuffed into his mouth.  Kid instantly froze, his eyes wide with fear and shock.

  Irish came in and saw what was going on and immediately reached into his leg pack for a pair of one-use syringes.  In each was enough knockout juice to put both to dreamland for a day, maybe two if they were skinny and not junkies.

  Checking their arms, he nodded to himself and slammed home the syringe into the girl’s thigh first.  A muffled scream and thrash as she struggled again… which only served to make the drug course through her veins in a hurry.  Within two minutes, she was out cold.

  Irish jabbed the boy mere seconds after her and got much the same effect, the howl of surprise seeming very loud in the house and instantly quiet afterward.

  Phantom checked with Irish when he came out of the room.  “Well?”

  “Sleepin’ like lambs.  They will be out for twenty four to thirty six, easy.”

  He nodded.  “Good…”  Coming over to me, he lifted an eyebrow.  “How much?”

  I did the mental math of how much I brought of various currencies.  “I got maybe enough with me to give each a grand in local bucks.  If I dip into the euros, more than that.”

  “Dip… it will help keep them quiet when they come too.”

  “You’re the boss.”  I said as I plopped my pack on the ground and began pulling the cash stash I always brought for contingencies.

  Moving from team member to team member, Phantom checked each man and directed a double watch.  Something had him buggin and even Abdul noticed.

  Little did we know that he had a premonition about our target…  and how screwed up Intel got things.

  And boy did they screw the hell up.

Maneuvers Part One- A Ganic Story

  “Five Minutes!”  The sound of the Jumpmaster rang out in the cargo area of the C-130.

   In the plane, the men of Second Section, Team Epsilon of NATO’s Hunter Cadre stirred.  And grumbled.

  “Damn it… messing with my beauty sleep.” Hayseed groused as he got off his back and the packs.

  “Like it ever helps, Hayseed,” The voice of Tiny, the team’s biggest (as in broadest) man, tossed out.  “I don’t think anything can help you…”

  “That’s not what your woman said; she-“

  “.. she said she was stunned by how small you are and how could any woman outside a doll even feel it…  Don’t deny it, she took pictures.”

  Laughter reverberated as Hayseed tossed a ration pack at the explosives man.  “Very funny…”

  I shook my head at their antics.  Every mission, this ritual happened.  Either ‘tween Tiny and Hayseed or Me and Tiny or the Lieutenant and Tiger.  A way to get rid of jitters… at least before an op.

  And especially before a jump.  No sane man jumps from a perfectly good airplane… unless there is a couple hundred other guys with him.

  In our case, there was only eight of us- the afore mentioned guys, Abdul the Turk (all seven foot of him) and the two SAS-types Scotty and Irish… and as a Black Ops team made up of volunteers from the USSOCOM and the 22nd SAS of the UK, sanity really was questionable anyway…

  Checking each other’s snaps, tethers and packs, we gave the Jumpmaster a “thumbs up”; we were ready.

  * * *

  Ready for what, you may ask?

  Well… when the UN and Nato finally intervened in Kosovo, the first really good bits of info came out into the harsh light of public eyes over some of the lovely atrocities being committed against the Muslims and other residents of that rather mountainous portion of the former Yugoslavia.

  Of course, those acts predictably enraged more than a few folks… but no open mandate was given to respond.  At least *openly*.

  Ye know… You can say what you want about Slick Willie Clinton; he does know right from wrong occasionally, despite what the newsies say.  Putting out an Executive Order detailing the need to help bring the butchers- or at least those that gave the orders- to justice, he gave us a rather distinct job

  Or at least deliver the verdict personal-like.

  Other members of NATO agreed… which is why we have the make-up we did.  Me, the LT and Tiger were Seals; Tiny and Hayseed were Green Beanie and Ranger respectively; Abdul the Turk was from their version of the SAS and the two Brits were, of course, the Real SAS.

  This was to be our fifth mission together; the first one being something of a bust some ten minutes short of the drop and the rest mostly quiet affairs gathering intel.  This one, we got the clearance to do some legitimate house-cleaning… and tackle one of the known butchers scouted the previous mission.

  Oh yeah… this was going to be real interesting.  It’s not often a soldier gets to go after a fuck like this guy- a real baby killer too- but when it happens, I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t do his best to cap the bastard.  So of course he’s wanted alive.

  Which is why we were going in…  Oh yeah, we were ready.  Not a single one of us (including Abdul, who was a hard-hearted bastard too!) thought this guy deserved to live free… so we spent the last two missions looking for his sorry puss.  And this one was The Mission.

 This fuckhead comes with us or earns a Nine-Mil getouta-jail pass.  No in-betweens…


  We all readied for the leap into the air, first man out being Hayseed followed by Tiny, The LT, Abdul, Scotty then me and Irish together.


  A very pregnant pause… then the light went Green.  “Go GO GO!!”

  And out we went…


  I should have known there was going to be a problem with this drop; too many things had gone right enroute to it.

  Favorable winds, dark as Sin night, perfect Canopies…  Nope, everything was going right; which meant Mr Murphy was looking for something to fuck up on one of us.

  AS I got closer to the turf below, I reached down and popped the quick release for my gear bag.  Hearing the satisfying “click” of the snap, I began to picture in my mind what was to come next.

  What came next was distinctly not on the Schedule of Events… as my bag struck something- rather someone- below.


“<Hey, What the he->”

  I landed and immediately tucked as I released the chute from my harness.  The low shouts and the scurry of booted feet on the dirt-n-rock terrain only made my desire to get my USP out… or at least my damn knife.

  Snatching out my blade, I saw the outline of a Kalashnikov-wielding son; not anyone of us.  So realizing I needed to do something before he thought about ripping me in half with that thing, I whipped my knife at him and hoped for the best.

  The knife flew true, I was to discover later, as fear does occasionally do neat things with one’s accuracy.  But as I tossed, I immediately saw I was in a bigger world of hurt as this guy’s buddies were nearby.

  But not long for the world as a bit of Arabic was called out into the night (Abdul’s voice, I think) and the low stutter of the LT’s SD5 and one of the SAS Sterlings dropped the guy as he turned.

  AS I scrambled over to the pack, my pistol out, I head out of the darkness the challenges we had agreed upon before take off.

“Grunt” I heard Hayseed call out quietly.

“Swabbie” came Tiger’s reply as the short Filipino weapons man slithered out of the dark near me, his M4 up and scanning.

  Hayseed slipped into a kneel next to me as I got my own M4 out.  “Told you packing that thing in the pack was gonna be the death of you, Archer.”

  “Yeah yeah…  but not this time.  It’s why I keep you around.”  I was not amused by Hayseed’s needling but the M4/203 combo was a pig to carry and I liked being light when I landed in case I had to move.

  Like this time.

  The LT appeared like the Phantom of his call-sign.  “I believe this is yours, Jim.”  He said as he handed me my knife.

  Irish commented from the darkness.  “Bloodly nice throw, mate.  Right between the eyes…”

  “Yer kidding,” I said as I shouldered my pack, with all the extra toys and the retrieval kit.

  “No he isn’t Jim.  Nice toss…”

  “Thanks Phantom.”

  The LT nodded.  “You’re welcome.”  Looking up at the rest, he motioned.  “Ok… lets get a move on.”

  As we moved out, I thought about that throw.  I suck at darts… and throwing knives I am not even that good… but I managed to hit and kill the guy.  Right handed too… and I’m left handed.

  If I was a superstitious sort, I might have worried about that kill… but I wasn’t and I didn’t.


((End part one))

The Adventures of a Fish out of Water

I’d been following a forum based on a What If… The US suffered an EMP Attack that crippled a portion of the country. Very interesting premise and I’ve discussed it with the author (a friend of mine) many a time as its been written/posted.

And over the course of the series of postings, i got inspired to write some stuff based upon it. Once piece, he planned on using and the rest… a simple story for entertainment personal and for himself. It initially fit the direction he was going but as his muse inspired him to write, the adventure serial I started no longer fit.

No matter…. but what has been written has entertained those I’ve read them to and well… at a suggestion about posting them, figured I would start.

The one piece I think he still plans on using. So I will post the rest over the next few days.

Background- The character in the “Final Days- The Drive for Harrisburg” stories is an old Vampire Larp Character named Jim Ganic. I used the story background I created for that character (former Navy Seal) in the writing of these stories and in ones I wrote a while back for the character. And they have been fun tales to write too. Nothing Supernatural in them- its all flavor and an exercise in character development as I created a protagonist for stories. The Supernatural-flavored stuff… may see the light of day at some point. Who knows… but for now, its all Jim as a mortal man in situations that are odd but no odder than anything one might find in Real Life or Hollywood.

Biting humor is a staple of how the character deals with stress for the most part… and this was set up in the original story I wrote for experience credit when he was a One World By Night character. So I will lead off with that…. and get to the rest of the tales not long after. No given timeline for these- they are set in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s (you know- its funny writing it like that. Oi.) Even have a potent Veterans Day Story… which will be posted around then.

Next post… will be from the Before Times titled Maneuvers Part 1.

speaking of that Beirut Explosion

I wrote this the day after the explosion and the conclusions/opinions I have in this writing… I still maintain as my overall opinion.

The entire event was a mess…. and preventable as hell. But it’s Beirut….


Thoughts.  And I have been musing on this all morning.

Ok…  dunno how much there needs to be analysis for this event on what caused it because *every* bit of non-US news I can find is saying more or less that this was a honest-to-gods accident that was preventable- and happened because of corruption/ineptitude of certain parties in Lebanon since the Ammonium Nitrate was off loaded into that building.

The paper trail pertaining to attempts to get the nitrate moved apparently is quite substantial.  Bless bureaucracy for its paper generation for a change, right?

Where things go from here is really the big issue.

Immediate issue looks to be medical and food supplies.  I had the BBC on today and a doc at one facility said they went through almost a month’s worth of supplies in a day and they are extremely low in general first aid/trauma supplies.  Considering how many facilities were damaged, it may be worse than stated.
  That they are accepting help from everywhere, including Israel, says a lot and the supplies issue may be a temporary thing.

Food…  85% of their grain storage was in port.  We have stuff sitting in silos here, doing nothing last I knew.  I should hope someone is thinking on that- offering up excess means its doing something rather than rotting away.  I hope the US is offering up some of that…

Political over there-

  President Aoun…  is in a bind.  On the one hand, he had an economic crisis and a pandemic he had to deal with while a hand was tied behind his back, like almost all presidents there have because of Hezbollah… and now this.

Some of the commentary I’ve read is that the port authority is apparently in the thrall of Hezbollah to a degree via suborning or outright cajoling of officials.  Or even plain old Mob-style owned.
  Corruption was apparently the norm there and given how much a paper trail of circular-filed requests to get the Nitrate moved there is, the backlash is going to be substantial… cause my take is there is a no-party-line condemnation of what led to the stuff being left there… and Aoun’s statement of Punishment for those who enabled this to happen is bold and dangerous.

Dangerous…. Because there is is commentary that he was bought by Hezbollah a while ago or they have heavy hooks into him as theoretical .

If he plays it right, this tragedy can be a way to outright force a bit of reform within the port (estimated  1.5 billion in tax revenue lost every year) and potentially shake lose some of the hooks Hezbollah may have in him.

Because if some of them *are* responsible for this, he now has to take their heads/nail them to the wall because of that statement or he potentially wrecks the cross-faction of support for answers.  Dangerous position for him… but potentially good in establishing himself as not beholden to them.

Right now… this is a fast moving situation and that country cannot afford to NOT find who enabled this and pursue restitution/criminal charges.

What I am reading is folks there want answers and someone to pay for the inaction.  Aoun might get the public cover he needs to fix things and give the people what they want.  The question is can he do it and does he have enough backing to do what he needs to?

I don’t know… but I do know that right now, he has capability and support of the people.  If he does, its in the US’s interest to help support him bringing in those responsible for the material lingering there.

Sometimes good can come of tragedy.  Here is hoping some does here.

Lebanon- can they move forward?

I wrote this back in July when that country put in place a new PM.

Najib Mikati is about as good a choice as one gets there right now. While some might say he’s a Hezbollah Stooge, since I wrote this, he’s told them to pound sand at least twice which is in keeping with some of his history.

I’ve long had interest in this country. A proud people and a very culture rich place, though the religious/political battles make its history a sad one. Its on my list of places to go visit actually… as a very good friend is FROM there… and has told me if I do manage to travel to his home country, he’d make sure I had a guided tour. And something to carry as a just in case (Americans are not super popular still…)

Funny thing- when the explosion happened in August 2020, I watched with interest over what was developing… and I had predicted a request for France to take over would happen. A friend who does international analysis as a profession who I said this to told me no way…. not 24 hours later, said request was made and he was quite shocked- and offered me a job. 🙂

It didn’t pan out- both the Job or the French taking over- but it was nice to know my methodology for puzzling this stuff out had some validation and was viewed as valuable.

Anyway, here’s what I wrote….


A development today was the naming of Najib Mikati, Billionaire businessman and two-time PM, as Prime Minister Delegate.  Its an auspicious announcement and the task of forming a reformist government a daunting one.  Given that he has done so two other times in his political history… is something of a positive though how much is the question.

  That he has some baggage pertaining to corruption allegations is not unusual for political figures in the Country, much less the region, as a whole.  That he’s been selected/picked/nominated to try and rebuild the Government in a manner that is both effective and reform-minded speaks a good deal as to either how true/untrue the allegations are and how effective he was in his two previous stints.

His first Prime Minister term in April 2005 was one where he oversaw the creation and administration of what were perceived to be pretty fair elections that to the Lebanese Government of July 2005.  That he didn’t stand as a candidate is interesting as his stated reason was to assure the neutrality.

His second stint in June 2011 through March 2013 was marred by political strife between accusations of favoritism (or lack thereof) and betrayal of Hezbollah- of which seemed to be baseless as Mikati maintained from the onset of “All for the Country, All for Work”.  In a quick read of who said what against him, the appearance of attempts to influence him without success (for the most part) is the reasoning behind allegations of betrayal or favoritism.

  Again, this would seem to indicate he still maintained a stance of neutrality despite the hem and haw of various factions levying accusations and congratulations at different points.  Which may speak of his actual neutrality and attempting to live up to his stances.  In the end, Hezbollah and Syrian actions, among other things such as infighting among the factions, contributed to his surprise resignation in March of 2013. That he managed two years in the role with all the chaos and antics of the various factions hindering anything productive may actually be a testament to his abilities or stubborness.

With this recent designation-nomination (he received 72 votes in parliament for being appointed out of 118 possible) time will tell if he can manage to build a potential government out of the chaos that is Lebanon right now.  Given that the overall power of Hezbollah (while still dangerous) appears to be weaker, his past success may mean something does appear which can perhaps right the floundering ship that is the Sate of Lebanon.  The people cry for help and for something to be done.  He was the right man in the past, perhaps he is the right man for now.  That he even has the best wishes and confidence of an Opposing Party who didn’t vote for him could be a positive sign; given this is Lebanese Politics, one never knows but it does seem encouraging.

In any event, the next six to eight months will ultimately determine the fate of that nation.  Mikati has a track record, if spotty, and that goes a long way towards prospects of some sort of success.  He needs to move fast- otherwise there may not be a country by the end of the year.

the second half of the Gear story


5 kilometers west of the Maglev
Approximately 75 kilometers NW of Khayr ad-Din
Late afternoon, 30 Summer TN1940)

The sound of particle cannon fire pierced the air as the CEF forces made their push.  Hovertanks and Flail Infantry advanced on the Badlands Outpost building as CEF APCs lurked just out of range of the Ranger guns.  And that situation wasn’t going to last, if the closing Earth forces were any indication.

it could be worse Sergeant Mackenzie Ian mused.  I was told there’d be days like this.  Leaning his Jaguar around the rock he had been hugging, the Ranger let loose some of his precious autocannon rounds at the approaching light hover tank.  Never thought it was gonna happen like this though…  Tapping the com switch, he called out.  “Swyft!  Where the heck are you, lass?  Its getting a bit difficult right now…”

A handful of seconds passed then his sensors picked up the location of the former duelist’s Cheetah as it raced around to the rear of a pair of CEF type 67 tanks.
  [Taking out the trash,] Was her curt reply as his Jag registered her gear’s pack gun cutting loose in a long burst of fire.  The result of her mad dash as she skated past the enemy vehicles was one dead tank and the second crippled- but still active.

 Ian shook his head.  It was a risky move but one she usually managed to do in every engagement.  She had the lives of a felinid…

Swyft, for her part, was mentally both in the now and in the arenas of Khayr ad-Din as her cheetah, Jediah, ducked and weaved around the rocks of the battlefield and wrecked equipment.  Her lips were pulled back in a slight manic grin as she danced her Gear across the ground- potshots with her pack gun or the rocket pod issuing forth to keep the enemy honest…

  Desperate battles….  She so hated them but also found life within, her skills with a gear hard won during the faction wars of the Trash City and the gladiator arenas of her youth.  Swyft had learned the lessons well of kill or be killed… then opportunity came to get out and she took it.
  She joined the Northern Guard.  A sharp-eyed Gear trainer had seen her talents in the assessment sims and convinced her to go for the Duelist Programs… where she shone.  And performed brilliantly for the nine years as the Regimental Duelist after graduating, gaining win after win and often without killing- just disarming opponents.  Which was far harder than it looked…

She was no Miranda Petite; the famed SRA gear pilot/duelist was a legend from pole to pole- but more than a few had said Swyft was as talented, perhaps even more so.  And those comparisons…. Embarrassed her.

  More than once, she had said she was just a lucky piece of Trash City refuse who got out.  But the comparisons remained… and then she quit.  Quit after a very bad encounter full of risk and treachery.  She was done… but she wasn’t leaving the Guard.  Got transferred to a recon Strike group and tried to be just a really sneaky solider…. Until this shit.

However, the middle of a suicidal fight was NOT the place to be thinking and reminiscing that stuff.

Swyft kicked her little gear into a sharp juke to the right as a blast from a distant tank’s rocket pod struck where she had been about to go.  A feral snarl escaped her mouth as she returned fire with her own rocket pod.  Not stopping to see where the salvo went, Swyft encouraged her walker to a sprint as she weaved her way towards another hovertank bearing down on her team…


The CEF, for its part, was not just taking fire.  As Swyft was rampaging through their lines, the Earth forces had managed to damage several of the Rangers trying to hold them back.  The Captain in charge of this strike knew he had a limited time to punch through to the Mag-Lev Line and as long as nothing complicated matters, they would carry out the mission.

The captain smiled as one of the hated gears before him, a Northern Jaguar, exploded from a rail gun shot from one of his medium tanks.  A second later, a different Jaguar sprinted past the remains of its companion and managed to damage two of the Medium Troops vehicles.  Tapping a screen on his command console, he ordered the Flails to hunt that one down.


Ian cursed as he maneuvered his Jag past the smoking remains of Corporal Jenks.  The young man had ducked out of cover to try to hit the Command Hover car of the earth forces and missed.  The tanks covering the command car didn’t… and Jenks paid for it.  Ian had brought up the plan not ten seconds before when it was clear what the car was…. And Jenks jumped the gun.

Timing is everything…. He thought as he stopped dead in his tracks behind another set of rocks.

A Comm request chimed and he activated the receiver with a subconscious flick.  “Striker Actual.” He answered as he hunkered down.

[Striker Actual, Sous-Lieutenant Bin-Dahl, 5th SIU.  My two cadres are moments from you; situation please.]  The cool Eastern Suns accent translated well through the comms.

Ian blinked.  Twice.  Mahmoud’s tears… “Sous-Lieutenant, Sergeant MacKenzie, 3rd Rangers…  We are holding barely.  Expendibles be low and the Toasters be pushing.”  A pause.  “Never thought I’d be glad to hear a Southerner…”

A low chuckle.  [Likewise, Sergeant- I never thought I’d be helping a Northerner…  But The Needs of the War dictate strange events.  If you have flares, fire them in about 90 seconds.  This way we know where not to shoot…]

“Understood… there be only four of us left… so you got plenty o’ targets to choose from…”


Swyft dodged a particle cannon shot barely, the EMP effect of the weapon scrambling her secondaries temporarily just as Ian’s message about a flare came through and something about help incoming.  Furrowing her brow, she tried to remember where the damn thing even was on her gear…  Not that she could ask him what he was talking about- the EMP had sent her comm gear into reboot.

Better to worry about the trouble present than events coming.  Otherwise she might not be here.

  Spinning in place, she sent her Cheetah into a headlong sprint after the Command Car target from before.  She had managed to maneuver into a spot where a mad charge might get her there…. And buy her squad time.

 The odds of them all living through the next two minutes were slim and none, but if she could drop the CEF commander, the chaos that would cause might help the overall.

“Now or never, Girl…”  She said to herself as she stowed the now-empty pack gun and drew her gear’s blade.  The vibro-blade, a smaller version of the one she had on her old Wildcat, had been with her since she graduated the Gear Academy.  Light and sharp, the weapon was designed to carve through the armor of Gears and Tanks… and it too had become part of her rep within the Regiments.

  Two Duelists had outright challenged her in the past…  Having fought both of them before, she had agreed.  When they ambushed her to kill her, their underestimating her and a willingness to kill was their undoing.  It was why she no longer was one of the Few.  Killing for no reason was something she hated.  And to her, Death Duels were among the biggest senseless killings one can do, right up there with Assassinations which is why she had never killed in a Duel.

  Honor is honor… but living is harder.  And there was no honor in that battle…

Being a scout was more satisfying to her and in many ways, less violent.  Though today, Death was on the field and its siren call… was beguiling.  If she was not the pilot she was, she’d have fallen to its seduction by now, given the odds against them.

  Which still may happen.  With luck, maybe she’d live through this to become an old scout.  Fat chance she snorted to herself and kicked her baby into top speed….  There are no old and bold scouts.


The CEF captain stared at his screen.  The northern gear that was charging him was evading everything being thrown at it…. And it dared to come for him.


How cheeky.  “Unit 68-1, engage the scout gear to our east north east”



Unit 68-1, a Medium Hover tank that dwarfed the Command car glided forward and shifted its main gun to aim at the on-coming Cheetah.   Tracking, the turret adjusted aim and fired its heavy particle cannon at the agile Gear.

  The bolt struck the gear in an arm and the electrical discharge of the EMP inherent in the energy bolt had a noticeable affect in staggering the walker…. But it did not stop it.

Swyft screamed in pain as the discharge and damage from the weapon short circuited her Cheetahs electronics, causing it to slow down from top speed as the gyros and compensators worked to keep her from crashing.  The field armor on Jediah now gone- had been the only thing that kept her alive to even know it was gone…

Her momentum however was enough to get her within reach of her quarry… and she lashed out with her blade even as the command car spun to engage with its laser cannon.

Laser Weapon-light flashed as vibro blade struck.

Neither missed… but only one target lived.


Ian, sighting in on a type 95 class medium hovertank, fired off the last of his autocannon rounds.  Looking over the battlefield quickly, he saw that the other Cheetah of his troop was down and McGee, the third Jag in the squad was still alive but surrounded by Flail infantry.

Swyft, he saw, was deep in the enemy rear and charging the Command car.  “Of all the crazy…  Mahmoud watch over her,” He breathed as he took off to be a distraction and help McGee with his problem.

As he slid into cover, he watched the former duelist charge forth, the wicked blade of her Cheetah out and ready to strike.  The -68 fired and grazed her gear then she reached the Command car and swung the same time it fired its laser.  It looked like she survived and took out the enemy vehicle… but the -68 shifted to bring its weapons to bear on the very damaged scout gear.

“DAMNIT!!!”  He snarled as he stepped from cover, hoping like hell his rocket pod would hurt the tank that was about to kill his friend even as he fired a flare.  McGee fired off his flare too, even as he fired his rocket pod at the swarming battlesuits.

Just them, music was heard over the Comms….  The anthem of the Southern Republic, to be specific….


Warning bells and lights were lit up all over the cockpit as Swyft managed to keep her Gear on its feet.  Quickly assessing the damage, she knew she wasn’t getting away. Too much wrong with her baby; hell it was a small miracle she was even alive to know how lucky she was at this moment.  That she even had a leg to stand on, an even bigger miracle.  The absolute last piece of armor on her gear was slag… and she could sense Death behind her.

And she would face it.

Shifting unsteadily on a sliver of leg and missing her Gun Arm, her Cheetah faced the CEF hovertank that was just now lining up to remove her from existence.  In a last act of defiance, she lifted her gear’s blade arm and saluted her enemy as any Duelist would, given the situation…  “Not that he’ll understand…” Swyft muttered.

Then the tank exploded.  Autocannon and Artillery Rockets slamming into the vehicle and detonating the anti armor missiles it carried in a display of pure carnage.

“What the…” She said in shock just as her Comm system reset and the sound of music came out of the damaged speakers.  “The SRA?”


Quite literally, the 5th SIU detachment cleared the pass and raced in at top speed, guns barking and blazing with fury at the CEF forces.

 A lone Spitting Cobra, clad in the deep blue-black and green of a SIU Duelist, raced towards the nearly dead Cheetah as fast as the Gear could move.

  The Southern Gear’s weapons smoking from when it had unloaded on the CEF tank, continued to track and target.  As it approached, its weapons spoke again, this time targeting another nearby Earth tank as the cadre with it raced to fill in holes in the line and support the Northern troops.

Stopping next to Swyft’s Cheetah, the assault gear shielded it from incoming fire as best as it could and continued to fire its heavy autocannon even as it drew a vibro-rapier from its back.

Over Swyft’s comm, she heard a woman’s voice call out as the Spitting Cobra pointed its rapier in the general direction of the remaining CEF tanks.  [Camarades…. Clean these Vermin from here…  No quarter offered!]

As the two cadres of Southern Gears began to hammer the CEF tanks which had begun to retreat, the Spitting Cobra turned until it faced the Cheetah.

Within her Cockpit, Swyft saw the diode for direct comm request light up on the channel reserved for the Duelists- something she forgot she had left installed on Jediah.  Curious, she accepted the comm request.  “Hello?”

[Salutations, Mon Ami… Sorry we were late,] The voice on the other end said.  [My fault, I insisted on coming with them to meet you.]

Blinking hard, Swyft was speechless.  “Me?” She transmitted back.

[Oui…  Of all the individuals I may wish to meet from the North, the famed Ranger Duelist in the small Gear is high on that list,] Came the bemused reply.  [And not to fight, I assure you…  I would much rather drink and talk of things other than war with one who is my younger twin in skill.]

Younger twin?  “Ummm…  I’m no longer a Duelist.  You got the wrong ranger.”  She said.  It can’t be…

Laughter came through the speakers.  [Non… I have the right Ranger.  I have drone footage of your fight.  And I can think of no other who could do as well as you in this mess.  Maybe me… but not in this beast.]  The Spitting Cobra in front of Swyft tapped its chest.  [Jules is too slow.]

The Spitting Cobra turned and motioned for Swyft to follow.  [Come come…  You are under my protection and No one harms anyone guarded by Miranda Petite…]

The Plague

You know… the problem with saying “Plague” nowadays is you have to clarify which plague we are talking about.

Is it the Virus? Or the disinformation surrounding it? Or is it about the supposedly stolen Election nonsense (If even his bag-man said it was a clean election, you gotta wonder) helping to drive everything crazy?

I’m going to stick with the virus for now… COVID19 is a Real Thing(tm) and its unpredictability in how it affects humans should be a item of concern for EVERYONE.

But it has a high survival rate, you say…. Yep. With medical treatment and being one of the lucky ones to potentially not get it in a bad way, it does have a super high survival rate. The after-effects though… can be worse than having it.

I know for me, I had it and have suffered a number of issues since. One of which is a more than normal fatigue level. Its like everyday I’ve been up for twenty four hours…. and I could just be getting up from an normal night’s rest. Its insane… For a friend, joint aches are magnified. Another friend… has breathing issues that he’s fighting back against hard (he used to run half-marathons all the time) and his goal is to get back to his old fitness level pre-bug. He’s halfway there.

It amazes me that so many folks just don’t take this virus serious enough. Or that learned and reasonably intelligent individuals buy into the insane assertions or crack pot cures-that-aren’t, thinking folks with zero or questionable at best knowledge know more than the collective whole of the medical community on this.

That angry part of me hopes these folks get to experience this virus first hand… and the part of me that gives a damn about people hopes they don’t have to experience it in their lives or experience losing a loved one to it.

Statistics are impersonal. Statistics can be taken out of context and used/misused to further agendas. Part of life there, I guess. All those people who want to work cross purpose to the common good- some for nefarious reasons- are part of the price of a reasonably free society. Call it an undocumented feature- for that’s what it is.

But for me, who has been on the front lines of this from the start… and has also survived having the virus… all those people who are working cross purpose to the common good need a reality check- applied with a baseball bat, preferably. But however they get it, they absolutely need that reality check.

And unfortunately, that reality check could cause some really sick folks… to not get timely assistance. Or have resources available when its a critical time.

It’s happened elsewhere in the world. And its happening now in some places in the US.

There is going to be more death here than needs to be. And fingers are going to be pointed in lots of directions. In my view, I know where the fingers need to be pointed. And I hope they get what they deserve and that they don’t take innocent lives when just deserts show the fuck up.

My two cents.

A heavy Gear Story.

(written for a contest. It didn’t win. 😦 )

5 kilometers west of the Maglev
Approximately 75 kilometers NW of Khayr ad-Din
Late afternoon, 30 Summer TN1940)

  Sergeant MacKenzie Ian, squad leader of the 3rd Rangers Alpha Section, 99th Desert Sharks, had a problem.

 He and his squad had been on ambush at this particular pass for the last twelve hours waiting for the lead elements of a supposed CEF push for the Maglev to arrive. Intel had said the damn earthers were gunning for the high speed transport line in an effort to both limit Terra Novan movement and to serve as a means of their own ability to move towards either polar state.

 A sound plan, considering the health of this line was kind of key for communications between the two major nations…. And that pesky City of Sin, Debauchery and Dueling, Khayr ad Din.

No… he had a problem alright and it really wasn’t the long wait on ambush. That he’d done many a time before without issue. But he had always remembered to have used facilities prior to going and taken along containers for emergency needs. This time, with as rushed as their mobilization was… precluded ANY of those options.

And he really needed to go. Bad.

Studying the sensors of his Jaguar one more time, he tapped out a low-strength pulse message to the squad’s pint sized pseudo-duelist who was on Overwatch. [Swyft… anything?]

Silence for a minute. [Nope… for the third time in the last ten minutes.]
[Why? Nervous?]
[No… I gotta exit Surefoot for a fast minute… and you know my luck]

With that, the good Sergeant made up his mind and popped the hatch. He was gonna take care of business now, because you knew if he waited any longer….


Swyft shook her head in amusement. The small gear pilot rechecked her sensors one more time after her conversation with her friend. Of all the times nature had to call for her squad leader, an emergency deployment ambush is about the last place you want to have to-


The chime of her Cheetah’s advanced sensor package sounded and the curly-haired pilot quickly scanned her machine’s message. “Oh crap…” She hissed as she began tapping out an All-Call on the squad net…



Ian, happy to finally have been able to relieve himself, cringed when his portable comm unit chirped in rapid succession as he rearranged his Kilt. A glance at his comm-unit confirmed what his gut told him.

“Mahmoud damn them to the nine hells…” He swore as he quickly climbed up the external ladder to the pilot chair. It was about time the bastards showed up… he just hated their timing. But then, if the enemy always showed when you wanted them to, what fun would this be?

[Ok people, just as we practiced…] He sent on the tactical net as the inbound Earthers began to show up on his sensors…

Observations on the World

Another interest I have is world events.

  Stemming from a love of history and interest in the goings on around the world, I always try to read up on what’s going in different parts of the world.

I suppose it was an outgrowth of my love of reading and being in some fairly unusual places in the world.  Indeed, during my last deployment, I made a point to read the English version of the local paper.  Its a funny thing but one would be surprised at how much you can learn about the overall vibe of an area based on what you see and don’t see within its pages.
You would be surprised at how much you can figure out just by paying attention to locals and how they are acting… and what is written within the local paper or being talked about on the news.

That said, the whole story is never apparent.  But with enough digging, one can get enough for discussion.

So there will be the occasional post here about world events…. and my take upon them, based on what I can puzzle out.  My thoughts and opinions are my own…  but they are formed from the best information I can dig up and mentally process.

Your mileage and opinion will vary. 🙂