Legends and Myths Five

Desert Strip Delta One Alpha
Southern badlands of Ashton

  The company of white battlemechs showing up as the Blakist troops got close turned their assault into a rout, the fanatic faction’s mechs realizing they were not the powerhouse here as they turned to retreat.

  And it was a surprisingly organized retreat, as the faster platforms broke off in good order.  The mid-range sped ones, didn’t fare as well.  A Battlemaster, which had ranged ahead of their line was caught out and suffered for it.  No less than a half dozen Gauss slugs and assorted high-energy weapons crashed into it- the damage overloading the machine’s gyro and causing it to fall.

  Two Celestial-class Omnis also suffered a similar fate, though one fell through the removal at range of its head.  The battle armor that was with them became the target of every available short range missile on that side of the field… and within minutes, they became a non-factor.  The Viking support battlemech, was caught up to as it retreated and after a volley hammered it to the ground, its pilot surrendered as a full lance of mechs surrounded him.

Warrington, in the command bunker, watched the feed with concern and no little awe.  The newly arrived force was certainly powerful- and definitely matched the colors of the earlier forces faced.  But here, they arrived as allies…  would they stay such?

As the Blakist forces retreated further, the new arrivals broke off pursuit.  As some of the base security troops collected surrendered pilots, the largest of the mechs approached the field’s command building.  Turning its guns away from the structure, the cockpit hatch opened up and its pilot began to dismount.  Warrington, seeing this, left the bunker and headed outside.  Least he could do was meet the man…

  “Sir!” The Comms officer called as he was leaving.  “Major Farquharson said his company will be in the area within twenty…”

  Warrington paused.  “Give him the route of travel of the retreating Blakists and patch him into the Drone Feed.  Maybe that crazy highlander can head them off…  or find where they have been hiding…”

“Yes Sir!”


Outside, the pilot of the mammoth Assault Mech had reached the ground and he waited by his machine.  Base Security personnel had him under watch, which was proper…  Hollister had no illusions over the remaining firepower of the local armored vehicles versus his machines.  If a fight broke out, it was even odds that the carnage would be extensive and while his mechs might win the field, what was left would not be able to stop anything bigger than a recon lance.
  No… he was here to negotiate.  And maybe more…

Coming out of the building was an older gentleman in combat armor and fatigues.  No rifle to hand but a large caliber pistol sat comfortably on a hip.  Hollister watched him approach with a careful eye.  “Apologies for not getting here sooner…” He commented in a non-committed tone.

Colonel Warrington stopped ten feet from the Mech Warrior.  “No worries…” He replied as he assessed the man before him.  Taking note of the SLDF-style coolant vest and fatigues, it more or less confirmed to him what McCormack had been going on about.  This guy was a living image out of a damn history book- to include rank insignia and patches.  “While we’d have done ok, your help was greatly appreciated.  You would be Colonel Hollister?”

“I am,” Hollister replied.

“Colonel Jim Warrington, Commander of the Phoenix Lancer’s Armored Regiment… and I am pretty sure you are here for more than a social call- or to shoot Blakists.”

Hollister chuckled at that.  “You would be correct, Colonel.  I believe you have some of my people… and I am here for them.  AS well as for discussion on a few other things you might find surprising.”

Warrington nodded.  “While we got them, they aren’t here.  Never left our main base, actually…”  At the frown on Hollister’s face, Warrington continued.  “News of their being moved was leaked to ferret a mole…  And I’m hoping the bastard got found…”

 Hollister nodded.  “Leaks can be an issue.”

  Warrington motioned toward the building.  “If you will accompany me, I can get a video feed up to where they are so you can see for yourself they are ok… and perhaps discuss what else you are looking to speak on.  Noone gonna mess with your mech.”

Hollister smiled slightly.  “Very well…”  Lifting a small com device up to his mouth, he spoke.  “Hallis, I am in consultations…  Condition Orange until notified otherwise.”

[I copy Condition Orange]

Hollister returned the device back to his hip.  “Lead on, Colonel.”

Ashton Badlands
Along the Route of Retreat

Major Farquharson scanned the sensors after his force formed up.  IT would be a hard run to catch the Blakists in the side but worth it.  That he and the rest of Charlie weren’t able to get to the field was one thing… but at least he would get to shoot some Blakist assholes anyway.

 Like everyone else, he too was interested in the mystery of these supposed Not Named showing up on Centaurus.  Why here and why now?  Damned inconvenient, it was… and it was going to bring problems here.  All of the Command elements knew it… though it did help that their appearance allowed for learning of some cross-purpose assholes in the ranks.

 That there was any… was annoying but not surprising.  That some of them owed fealty to the Word… well, that made his blood boil.  Rooting them out was the job for McCormack and her spies.  His job was to shoot whatever he was pointed at… and here was opportunity to do so.  Despite still needing to heal from his last combat mission, he was out here.  He knew he needed to heal up more but it was Blakists who showed up yet again here.

 And he was not going to miss out on givin’ any Blakist a kickin’, cracked ribs or not.

“Ok, lads and lasses…  we got some kickin’ to be doin’… “He said over the network.  “Looks like sassenach bastards are heading for that mining complex showing on the map.  Let’s see if we can stop ‘em there.”

A com-light lit up, indicating his daughter,Destiny, in her Panther was looking to speak to him on a private channel. Sean answered his daughter’s call.  “Yes, wee- one?”

[Dad…  that’s not a mine.  Well… not just a mine.]

“What ye talkin’ about, child?”

[If that is the same place, its also an old Storage Facility under the mountains there.  Auntie Leslie showed me on a map last year when we went exploring out here.  Said it’s a mine with these weird doors in a wall under there.  Said they are closed and likely have been for some time.  Said she hasn’t had time to go looking herself… Dad, I would think the Colonel knows of it; he likes old places like she does.]

“Then why dinnae anyone else know of it?”

[You’d have to ask Auntie Leslie, Dad.  I think if it was talked about, treasure hunters and stupid people would go looking for it.  Loose lips…  only reason I am telling you is because we are by it ‘n it looks like they are running for it.  Soyou you need to know about it.  Maybe they know of it?]

“Les and her damn secret squirrel shite,” A grumble.  “She’s not wrong… and these are Blakists.  Who the hell knows what they know?  What other surprises might there be, eh?”

[Dad…  to quote Auntie, do you really want that answer?]

Sean was quiet.  “No… I don’t.  Though I expect we are going to find out soon…”  Seeing a priority com light blink, he signed off with his child.  “DeeDay, gotta go.  Priority Call.”

[Ok dad…]

Sean changed comm channels.  “One Mike Charlie Six”

[Sean… I have some info for you about that area…]

“Tinney, I already know about the mines and what’s there…  Destiny told me- she got it from her Aunt.”

Silence across the net.  [Well ok then;.  No one knows what exactly is in there, Sean.  And if they get in there, I’m not sure I want to find out.  As much as we know about what was left here, there is still too many odd things being found that no clue was even hinted at.]

“Like what?”

[Like Tris and her people finding another hidden complex up on the side of Mount Ren?  Company sized facility with a repair bay?]

“By the saints…”

[I know, Sean.  So many hidden facilities…  The Third’s Commander had to know what was here back then; I swear the old SLDF was worse than five-year-old children hiding easter eggs… and of course, no complete records.]

“Lad, I’d have said dementia patient putting away laundry…”

[That…  Anyway, you have got to try to stop them from getting inside.  For all we know, there is a battalion of mechs in Storage Status in there; and yes, it was on the list to investigate at some point… and got missed.  I’ll take the hit for that one…. But you gotta do you best to keep them out of there.]

Sean was quiet for a long moment.  “And if they get inside?”

[There is a reason every Lancer Mech pilot has that gear bag and has to qual on small arms every year…]

“I knew you were gonna say that..” Sean replied.  “Ok…  I’ll do me best.  But we are talking later, Colonel Tinney.  On record and off afterward.”

[I expect nothing less, Sean…  I’m going to lock Leslie in the Archives after this though.  We really need to find out more of what’s here.  No more putting it off…  Lancer Six out.]

Sean glared out of his Marauder’s cockpit.  This intercept got a bit more dangerous.  Hell, life in general around here got a hell of a lot more dangerous.  “New Orders from On High,” He called into the company net.  “Keep them out of the Mines…. I’ll explain later.”

Legends and Myths 4 – paradigm shift

Lancer Command Facility
Deep in the Auburn Mountains
Oct 2, 3079

  Major McCormack glanced at the notepad next to her as she typed a message.  A one-time Cypher that had been handed out to all company commands had been her idea for message security, with the key being tossed 48 hours after issue.  It was an old way of encryption… and time consuming when done by hand.  But with the prospect of spies and other eyes within the Lancers, the Colonel felt it was necessary and the keys couriered out. This was being done two reasons- Both for the security of who they had… and for the correction to leaks within the command.

  That there was any was somewhat surprising… the Lancer Way having been something of a uniting factor in the long life of this Merc Command.  The sense of family and loyalty had been a glue most other merc units she knew tried to emulate… and just never managed like the Lancers did.  That outside crap was finally weaseling its way into here made her mad.

  She had sicc’d some of her people who were good at finding out things on the hunt for leaks.  The half dozen AsTechs and supply folks had taken the task with deadly seriousness.  All were veterans of the Blakist assault on the temp bases five years ago and none had sympathy for sell-outs.  When two reported a find within a day of hunting, the plan that was being enacted was hatched and put into play.

As long as this cypher didn’t get found, of course. 

Now if Warrington could get his troops into position, whomever took the bait was going to have a big problem…

Disused (abandoned) SLDF POMCUS Facility 33-2154
Segway Mountain Range
2 October 3079

Precentor-Mu Randolph looked at the message that cropped up on his datapad.  It was from one of the observers he had overlooking one of the larger Lancer facilities near their command facilities… the one where they usually kept prisoners.

Reading the message, he smiled as he pulled up a new map.  It seemed the mercenaries were moving the prizes to a remote strip in the badlands to minimize danger to the more populated areas.  And it was being done quietly too.  Maximum personal security- a mix of commandos and light powerarmor- and yet low key as it was a rush job with a lot of quiet orders being given.

  That he learned of it was due to some of the more…. Malleable agents that had been planted among the Merc Command’s support personnel.  Folks got agreeable when family members were held hostage and well, everyone and everything was a tool to be used for The Cause.

Looking at the image of the facility, he noted the terrain involved and shrugged.  Open terrain couldn’t be helped but the foothills on the outskirts would mask the approach of his forces well enough.  And judging by the listed security for the facility, it shouldn’t be a difficult raid.  He expected additional defenses… but if this was to be as quiet as hinted at, those would not be much.

“Adept Kincaid, awaken the blessed and be ready to move,” He called out.  “Its time to strike and be away from here.”  Randolph was something of a historian and it had been his efforts that located this forgotten facility here in the wilds of the planet’s secondary continent.  That the Lancers, as good as they were at finding old facilities on this planet, hadn’t found this one… was a small miracle.

  A miracle that would now help them get a valuable series of assets and pawns.  If those pilots the Lancers had were actually what they thought they were.  That some of their trusted pawns among the Protectorate troops commtted in other actions were also being moved, it made for a potential morale boost for the other Protectorate forces if he was able to recover them too.  Randolph didn’t care for them one way or another; that they were there was simply convenient.

Sending a message out from the portable com-device, he shut it down after including where their pickup was to be.  The Order had spent countless weeks in the asteroid belt deep in the system setting up a Jumpship and Drop Ship docking facility…  and it was now time to use the faithful manning the station.  IT was a sacrifice to activate it but its presence had been provided for operations against these Mercenaries… and it was now time to make use of it.

The Phoenix Lancers had long been a thorn in the side of the Word of Blake, despite the hammering they took all those years ago. That the hated mercenaries had survived against everything else thrown at them… was maddening.  So anything to give them grief was well worth the expense.

Desert Strip Delta One-Alpha
Southern Badlands, Continent of Ashton

 Colonel Jim Warrington looked out over the strip and shook his head.  When he got handed the cypher, he thought it was crazy.  Then the message that followed from Leslie was even more weird… but after thinking on it, it made more sense… though it would be a hard sell for the armor company that was now here.

  Patton Company, a full twelve machine armored company of Patton MBT’s was deploying around the strip and into dugouts under camouflage nets while the quartet of Hunter Support Tanks scattered into other hides around the field.  A platoon of Abrams was also being emplaced for the reception committee. The plan that was hatched was to let the prisoners be seen being transferred to to craft which was to bring them out here to the old strip, with the story being this was the pickup point for their Employer to get them.

 That MIIO agreed to this was semi-silly… then when he found out why this was happening, he was shocked, then mad.  But not at who you might think.

The secured message informed him of the potential moles within the community that served the Lancers and even among Lancer Support Staff.  That they were working to identify who they were was a given… but this plan being enacted was to try and cause some of them to out themselves.  The true destination of the prisoners was not to this strip but to anyone monitoring, it would look like it.  Body Doubles had been found and those were used for the visible aspects.

  That he had been asked to commit some of the Lancer Armor here was for the expected attempt to capture their guests.  It was felt no more than a company of mechs or other would be coming for them- movement of anything more was pretty hard to hide.

On that, Warrington agreed.  That his armored troops were being used as a surprise… was annoying as fuck.  But then, he would be hidden and whatever company of mechs showed up would have a nasty surprise when twelve gauss rifles opened up on them supported by PPCs and LRM’s.

No no…  He was Not Amused.  But more so at the necessity of all this than actually being out here.

Whoever showed up… was in for it.


About six hours later…  company arrived.

Systems Radar had picked up a trio of drop ships entering the atmosphere; two initially and then a third one hanging way back… almost as if it was shadowing the other two.  Which didn’t matter overmuch, as the first two grounded a distance away from the strip.

  Warrington got the warning order and had all the tank crew ready.  If this plan was to work, his people needed to land their shots a lot.  And hope like hell there wasn’t that much hitting them…  as the Sensor Mast for the field continued to operate, he got a clearer picture of what was coming- and it wasn’t great.

22 Mechs of various size… Far far more than expected and judging from the Electronic Emissions they were generating, it was Blakists.  Which meant electronic shenanigans.  Which was fine…  ECM didn’t stop a gauss slug.  As they closed, he finalized fire plans and reposition options.  There wasn’t much of the latter- it was an open airfield and only so much could be done.  At least the two flanking Rommel platoons were positioned well to hammer the incoming enemy when they hit best ranges.


Not long after the Blakists reached the edge of the field did the shooting begin.  And it was telling fairly quick that the defense plan was working.  Two of the Manticores took punishment from weapons fire at range.  Expected but the Manticore was a tough tank.  Return fire was hit or miss… but the Blakist troops came on confident in their superiority.
  They even had a damn LAM…

When the hidden tanks opened up, the odds immediately improved, and stuff started to get hit pretty hard.  But not as hard as wanted, as both manticores finally succumbed to the incoming fire…. Then one of the flank Rommels blew up.

Just as orders to move were given to White Lance to reposition, the comms were flooded with a transmission as that trailing dropship, a Union-class, sped up and traversed the Strip- dropping Mechs from its bay doors…  All in Star league White, with orange and grey highlights….

  “Ground Control, this is Colonel Hollister of the Clave.  I have operational control of the SLS Quickhatch and am moving to intercept the Renegade 151st Division forces.  Please advise SL Commnet as to their Disposition.

  Captain Thomlinson will be leading the dirtside pursuit with Lieutenants Ebon, Callahan and Hallis commanding lances.”

Warrington looked around his command center.  “Who the fuck are these guys?”

  His communications officer and XO exchanged looks then looked back at the Colonel.  “I’ve no idea, Jim,” The XO said.  “But their machines look like those Mythical troops McCormack and Hartman fought last week…  And they seem to be here to help us instead of fight us…

The Coms Officer brought up specific cameras which showed the newly arrived battlemechs engaging the Blakist machines.  Their arrival served to distract the incoming enemies which allowed Lancer Armor to take advantage… with gauss slugs and LRM fire hammering Blakist machines distracted by the new arrivals.

Warrington blinked then spoke to his comms officer, issuing orders.  “Send to all units- support our new cavalry….  Questions will be answered later- if there is any answers to be had…”


Warrington returned to the feed on the screen.  Some of the machines seen were familiar- others, not so much.  In all of it, he got the sense something drastic had just changed… and their lives were about to get super interesting here on Centaurus.

Oh holy crap was it…

The Mission 4 – Aftermath (A Ganic Story set in the Final Days of America universe)

 As Belov lunged, I yelled a warning.  I didn’t dare pull my pistol- not in a chopper in flight.  Bullets have a bad habit of breaking unintended things if you missed.  Not that I would but I wasn’t exactly at my best… 

 Ustinov looked at Belov as the latter reached him with the knife outstretched, the blade plunging into the surprised Russian officer’s chest.  The look of sheer surprise at being stabbed… is real.  Especially when it is a complete surprise.

  Filitov, who had been looking over the wounds on the third Russian trooper, spun and yanked Belov off of Ustinov- the blade staying in the Officer’s chest.  As the prisoner fell backward, I lashed out with a boot as the crew chief shifted out of the way.  Connecting with Belov’s head, I managed to stun the fucker when Filitov crashed into him.

 Pinning him to the floor, the enraged Spetznaz NCO proceeded to punch the shit out of our boy while Doc scrambled to Ustinov.  I, now able to move some as the stun from my hits was washed away with adrenaline, shifted to kick the fuck again.

  Mind you, this was not an easy trick…  While there was space in the back of the Black Hawk series helicopter, using the space as a mini-cage match arena was not good.  Tends to play havoc with the stability of the craft while in the air…. And this was fucking with it hard…

 To the pilot’s credit, he kept us from falling out of the sky- I could hear the crew chief and gunner telling the pilot what was going on so at least *they* knew this wasn’t us playing fuck-fuck games. However, the donnybrook in the back needed to end fast…

 Filitov, with the aid of my second kick, had Belov semi-pinned as he proceeded to use the asshole’s face as a punching bag.  Three… four…. Five times, Filitov’s right hand connected with Belov’s face.  “*Ganic, open the door…*” He said in Russian as he hit the man a sixth time.

 Oh, I knew where this was going… and while I didn’t think he’d toss him, I also knew Belov didn’t know he wouldn’t.  Yelling at the Chief to secure Vasiliy, I grabbed the latch and popped it.

 The Crew Chief managed to attach a safety line to Filitov’s belt as he shoved Belov’s head and shoulders out the door into space- the only thing holding him from tumbling out being the very pissed Russian’s hand.


 For his part, Belov recovered his bravado in a retort.  “*YOU DON’T DARE- MOSCOW WILL KILL YOU!!*” Well that was a true statement- they wanted Belov bad and his dying by Filitov tossing him from a chopper wouldn’t go over well.


Seeing the Crew Chief come up with a dozen zip-ties, I called to Filitov.  “*COMRADE…  PULL HIM BACK IN; SERGEANT CASEY HAS A SOLUTION TO HIS FREEDOM…*” I said.  “*AND I’D LIKE A TURN AT HIM TOO!*” Not that I was gonna be able to- I was not up for a fist fight right now.  But felt good to say, damnit.

 Doc was working like mad on Ustinov; the other Spetznaz trooper helping him stem the blood flow while MacPhearson did his damnedest to prevent the captain from dying of the stab wound and stabilizing him.  Judging from the muttered invective coming from the Corpsman’s mouth, it was not going well…  Not over, but not good.

 Filitov pulled Belov back inside; between him, the Crew Chief and the other gunner who slipped back into the troop compartment to help, they bundled up Belov with more Zip-ties than one would think possible as well as a bunch of 550 cord for good measure.  A hogtied steer had more freedom to wiggle than he did when the three were through.

 Doc continued to work on Ustinov and keep him stable for the rest of the flight- the blade staying right where it was ‘cause you don’t remove an impaled object if you don’t need to.  The chopper pilot, once the ruckus back here settled, milked as much speed out of the SpecOps helicopter engines as he could.  A veteran Ops pilot, he knew speed was life….  And the field hospital at Bondsteel was the Russian Officer’s only chance.

 Flaring hard to a landing at the dedicated pads for the hospital, both Pave Hawks were met by medical teams- a trauma team for ours- along with a few squads of armed troops.  Bloodhound had called ahead, briefing the camp on what was coming in as well as who… so there wasn’t surprises when we landed.

 Ustinov was first one off our bird, Doc going with the Trauma Team that came out to get the badly injured officer.  I was next- the multiple perforations I was sporting being serious enough to warrant a rush into Surgery to start removing bits.  I was certain I was going to set off metal detectors for the next twenty years…

  The other wounded Spetznaz troopers were next, my assurances they were cool carried some weight but not as much as Phantom’s.  The Boss ordered, as he was being stretchered away, to have someone show the Russians someplace to sleep and stow their gear.  Them and their chopper crews- this storm wasn’t going away anytime soon.

 The Detail Captain, a former ranger I knew, asked what-the-fuck and Phantom told him what happened in short form.  Seconds later, demeanors changed and the Spetznaz guys were led off to the SpecOps huts; those had their own armory and were separate of the regular spaces.

 These guys came and fought alongside us.  Least we could do was give ‘em somewhere to sleep and food, right?

  Filitov and Ving escorted Belov, both men with a secure death grip on a prisoner arm as they frog-marched him to a Medical HMMV to be transported to Detention.  Tiger went with them to help pave the way; there was going to be ruffled feathers here with this prisoner and we all knew it.  Agency Operations were not popular things here (I remembered that from a long time ago) and what mitigated protest was that it was US Special Warfare working this and not CIA.

  Having the Russians present, presented a few problems but nothing that couldn’t be mitigated.


“… and let me tell you, it upset a few chair warmers they were there,” I said as I looked around the fire ring.  The crowd had grown some and I noticed Fisk was present too.  Jeez…  I can draw a crowd apparently.  I took a drag on the nub of the cigar that was left.  “But it turned out to be a damn good thing for the Russians- that storm lasted three days.”

A voice from the side spoke then- and it was Colonel Johnson’s.  He had apparently come up during Story Time and who knows how much he heard.  “Some story, Senior Chief… and it answers a question or three for me at least,” he said.  “I was at Bondsteel as a Major with the 10th back then.  I remember that storm and the Hinds.  Never knew why they were there other than a safe place to park in the blizzard.  Now I do…”
I looked over at the Colonel.  “Sir, happy to have answered a few questions; though I suspect not all of them were from back then…”

Johnson chuckled.  “You would be correct, Senior.” He said.  “You would be correct…”

 Reed shook her head.  “Senior, did Ustinov make it?”

 I looked back at MA2.  “No.  The docs there did everything they could but between the blood loss from the other wounds, it wound up being too much on his system.  Died on the Table.” A pause.  “After he found out, Filitov came close to breaking into the Detention Area to kill Belov but the guys stopped him. Instead, they found him some hooch to get smashed on and toast Ustinov’s memory.”

  I smiled then- it was one of the few good memories of that entire affair and I wanted to savor it a few minutes. “Lots of vodka was consumed that night as well as moonshine acquired from somewhere.  The Spetznaz guys know how to send someone off…”

Gunny spoke up then. “Senior, sounds like a party, as it should be.  He sounded like a good man.  What did happen to Belov?  I mean, before he got here?”

I tossed my cigar nub into the fire.  “When the storm lightened up, Representatives from the Hague showed to get him.  A very eclectic mix of GSG9 and some French GIGN showed up to escort him to the Netherlands to sit in a cell.  I lost track of him after that; had zero reason to think about him in ten years…”  I looked at my watch then and noted the time.  “Alright…  Story Time with Senior is over.  2200 is in five minutes and I am pretty damn sure there is more shit to do…”

Grumbles and laughter greeted the statement and all of the Enlisted folks departed, leaving Fisk, Wilson and Roach (who had shown up early on in the story).  Colonel Johnson also stayed, and he looked like he wanted to say something.

I preempted him.  “Colonel, I’m pretty sure I didn’t reveal anything classified.  Except maybe us and them really do talk.” I said with a slight smile.  “If I did, I’ll eat it.”

 Johnson shook his head.  “Senior Chief, I wouldn’t know about the Limitations, and I didn’t hear anything odd enough to wonder about them.  But I’m afraid I have some news for you.”

 News? “Color me curious, sir.”

Johnson looked over at Wilson and Fisk.  “Gents, I came over to let you know Senior Chief is being sent back to Lancaster to catch a flight West.” He said.  “Apparently, he pissed off someone enough to pull him out of here.”

Fisk shook his head.  “Of course…” He replied.  “If it’s related to the Airfield incident, do they want me too?”

“It probably is and No they don’t, captain…  The Orders came for Senior Ganic alone.  I figured I would be the messenger,” the Colonel said.  “I figured it would be more than just him for that too… but they just want him.  Said they would send out someone special for him too.”

I could hardly believe my ears on this one.  Someone had a SERIOUS hard-on for me, it seems, and I had Zero Clue as to why.  Well, that wasn’t true- I did fuck up that pompous ass two weeks ago… and I do wonder if he is related to that other major. Something also told me I’d be needing different duds than field cammies…

 “Sir, was there a time frame to report?” I asked. “Cause if this is Ye Olde Serious Shite, I am going to need my dress uniform.  And that’s at my house up North.”  I kinda knew this answer but had to ask.

The Colonel shrugged.  “Nothing concrete- the word was to get you back to Lancaster and ready to get sent to Denver on the bird coming for you.” Was his answer.  “Depending on the Air Force, that could be now or in three days.  Where do you live again?’

“Auburn, Sir.  Just north and west of Hamburg; about ten miles driving.” I replied.  “A small farm just outside of the boro.”

Johnson was quiet for a long moment then looked over at Fisk.  “Captain, you did say at Officer’s Call that your Third was a bit tired and undermanned, yes? 70 percent strength?”

Fisk nodded.  “I did. Total Company strength is about 80 percent or so but they are the most beat up.”

Johnson scratched his chin.  “Ok… Considering Battalion has worked most of this madness with them on point or separate of us, I think we may be able to spare His Platoon for a while again.”

Fisk chuckled. “So, pull them and send them back with Senior?”

“Yep,” Johnson replied. “I think the Commando Platoon can have some down time… It’s been a long three weeks for them.”

Commando platoon? Oh there was a story there… “Sir?  Commando Platoon?” I queried.  Something told me I already knew the answer…

Johnson looked back at me.  “Senior, between the Battle of East Pete, your rep, the City Island incident and your plunge to catch Mobely, the Third has earned that nickname,” He replied. “And with good reason.  As far as Brigade is concerned, on a semi-informal level, that is your platoon’s designation.”

SEMI informal? Oh for the love of… “Sir, someone at Brigade needs a hobby.  Or is jealous.”

“Perhaps,” He allowed. “But it is what it is, Senior.  You are a big reason for it… and for a scratch platoon of reservists, your entire platoon rose to the challenge like champs.

Roach spoke up then.  “Jim, I admit some jealousy over what you and yours pulled.  Some crazy work and y’all kicked ass.  Some movie level ass kickin’, in my opinion.”  Roach spit some dip juice into a waterbottle; swear to god he always had some… “And I reckon this is either an Attaboy or someone really has it out for you an’ has the pull to gank you from the field.  One of the two.”

Wilson added to it.  “I guess you will know when your ride gets here.  If it’s a squad of MP’s collecting you, then you have a problem.

Johnson continued. “And on the possibilty it’s the latter, I think something official can be cooked up to let you go collect your uniform.  IF they aren’t waiting for you when you get to Lancaster, at least.  I’ll see if Wertz the Liaison can’t get you permission from Wertz the Administrator and General Leyland to go up there.  Reading Airport has been reopened while we were out here so it’s not like there isn’t Government presence up there now.”

I was flabbergasted.  “Sir…”  The surprise must have been apparent on my face as the Colonel spoke again

“I would not do this for anyone, Senior.  Never a fan of you Operator sorts… but I have doubts anyone else in Brigade would have had the knowledge, or luck, to pull off what you folks did,” The Colonel cautioned.  “I figure if you are gonna be called on the carpet for what you and the platoon did, for good or bad, you may as well look right.”

Well, at least the man is honest.  “I appreciate that, Sir.”

“Don’t thank me, Senior Chief,” Johnson replied.  “Thank whatever power put you in this position.  I’m just able to maybe facilitate you looking the part of Big Damn Hero straight out of Central Casting or the condemned being led to the gallows.”  He then pulled a fat cigar out of a pouch on his webgear and stuck it in his now smiling mouth.  “How’s that go?  If you gonna get in trouble, at least look good doing it?”

The other three officers busted out laughing at the dry delivery and I had to chuckle a bit too.  “Something like that, Colonel…”  Well, this was all unexpected.  And I would not know what comes next until I got back to Lancaster.  This was going to be interesting…

Damn Chinese Curses.  I really would prefer to be a dog snoozing on my damn porch right now than be in this chaos.  Can’t have everything, I guess.  Besides, where would I put it?

The Mission 3 – Assault (A Ganic story set in the Final Days of America universe)

Moving quickly, we split into a different set up- a two-man overwatch (Tiger and a Russian) who were good shots and two five-man assault sections.

  Phantom has Filitov with him and I was with Ustinov. Each group was a mix of personnel for a reason- we had to rely on each other for this and the mix of talent/skills would mesh well enough. Spetznaz were Violence of Action sorts and while Seals could be, having experts in such would elevate our game.

Flipside, we were sneaky sons of bitches- which should inspire our Russian team mates to rise to the occasion.

The compound below us was not a huge one, per se.  One main cottage of about six to eight rooms, a trio of Tiny Homes-style buildings, two cabins, a couple of storage sheds and a four-car garage.  Like I said, a bit bigger than a cottage with sheds that we were led to believe- to include old imagery. Damn rush jobs….

To avoid possible crossfire, we would strike from North and West of the compound, with our overwatch looking over from the Northwest… and able to support either side.  Good planning- Tiger was an excellent shot and he’d need to be; there was A LOT of bad guys here.

Unfortunately, as we closed in on the mini compound, the weather began to turn.  And in a useful/not useful way.

Snow.  And it went from lightly falling to heavy hammering within ten minutes of starting.  The heavy snow would help hide us on approach and minimize attentiveness… but it also killed any overwatch fire from the sniping pair.  Phantom issued orders for Tiger and his counterpart to move up and hold our egress open.

  Something told me we weren’t going to be able to go out the way we came but I kept quiet.  There was too many similarities to that shit show way back for my liking… and I didn’t wanna jinx it.

Moving up, we merry murder hobos closed in on the various buildings- and the snow really was a huge help.  The Russians knew how to move in this- considering Marshal Snow was a constant companion in most of Mother Russia, I would expect no less of them.  Ustinov seemed to be enjoying himself and I wasn’t sure if this was good or bad.  Or just a thing.  Either way, didn’t matter in the long run.

Getting to the compound, the two officers had a quiet discussion over the comms and the order was given.  Neutralize every building- the less we had to deal with, the better because as soon as there was gunfire, the natives were going to be really restless.

  My team got to one of the cabins and I dared a look inside a window.  Noting the very barracks style bunking in here, I glanced to the Russian Captain.  “*Maybe dozen, all sleeping*,” I said quietly in Russian.

“*Good.  Then they will never see this coming,*” He replied as he pulled two grenades off his web gear.  The other Russian with us did the same while Ving covered our rear. “*Ganic, take Boris to that other cabin and be ready…*”

“ayeaye,” I replied and scooted to the other cabin, Boris right behind me.  The two of us each pulled a grenade as Boris peeked inside.  At a nod from him, I readied my deadly egg. “*Your count, Captain*” I said over the comms.


At his command, we all tossed grenades in through the windows of our respective cabins.  And four seconds later, we were rewarded with multiple detonations…  Just after, both teams kicked in doors and within six seconds, all occupants also had bullet wounds to contend with.

Our next target was the tiny-home style buildings; Phantom and his group were tasked with the Cottage where our boy was supposed to be.  One hoped at least; Intel already goat-fucked us so what was one more thing?

  As The compound woke up to the explosions and gunfire, we beat feet to the small huts.  Getting to the first one, Boris planted his boot on the door and it exploded inward. A step in, and a pair of bursts dealt with the people getting up.  Ving and the other Russian trooper did the same with the second hut- doing much the same as us.

Of course, the third one would be able to respond to the madness as a shirtless defender came stumbling out with his AK spitting bullets.  It did him no good, as Ustinov showed even Russian officers could shoot- dropping him with a burst to the chest.  The female behind dude was a surprise- and just as shirtless as dude just killed.  Ustinov paused to assess- she was pretty hot- and it almost got him killed as the chick lifted a pistol up to shoot.

  I took care of that problem, my M4 bucking twice with a volley of rounds.  All of them struck the woman and she went down fast, the pistol in her hand falling out as she fell backward. Ving and his Russian partner joined back up with us as Ustinov listened to something over his comms.

  “*Comrades…  to the Garage.  See what we have to use; Vasily says we may need it…*” Ustinov yelled to us.  “*One hopes big enough for all of us.*”

This was rapidly becoming like the goat-fuck the LAST time I did a snatch in the Balkans.  FUCK.

Hauling ass towards the Garage, I heard Tiger call over the comms that they would meet us there- and that they saw a truck coming up the road.  Fucking special, this was.  Snow, chaos and more folks to the party….  This was getting better by the minute.

  Ustinov staggered at this point, defender rounds catching him in a leg.  Ving, next to him, snatched an arm and laid down some SAW love back in the direction of the shooters.  Myself and the other two Russians reached the garage and returned fire in various directions, attempting to buy Ving and the Spetznaz Captain some time.

  Tiger reached the garage just after us and barreled in through the door followed by his Spetznaz partner.  Some frenzied seconds of gunfire from inside and over the network the short bastard said it was clear.  [Get in here- we have wheels!] he said

Ving assisted Ustinov inside as I and the Russians continued to provide cover.  At this point, I heard Doc over the comms asking if they could get a pickup at the Dacha.  This was not part of the plan…

“Doc, Archer- what the fuck over?” I called out as I picked off another of Belov’s troopers.

[Archer, Phantom is in a bad way, Surfer is dead as well as one of the Spetznaz. Our target was pretty prepared…]

“Fuck! Ok…  there soonest.”  Looking over at the two Russians, I told them more or less what’s up.  Boris indicated he had heard as he tapped his own coms- Filitov probably told him.  I then looked inside the garage and gave a low whistle.  Not every day one sees a damn relic…

Within the garage was of all things, a Lamborghini LM002- the only SUV truck they ever built… and in good shape.  Parked in here alongside it was an American Hummer H2 along with a Bentley Continental and what looked like a genuine Aston Martin Bond car.  Pretty eclectic mix of wheels, lemme tell ya.  And the two big ones were our rides.  Tiger held up two sets of keys.  “Before you ask…”

A dark laugh escaped my lips.  “Bro… at least its not like last time.  You pick- we gotta go!”

Tossing me the LM keys, he jumped into the H2.  “I’ll pick up the house crew- you guys cover us.”

Jumping in, I called out to Ustinov.  “Get your boys inside, Captain!”  As I fired up the expensive monster, he gave me a thumbs up as he called over his coms to the boys outside.  Within seconds, they were inside and taking up window spaces as well as in the bed.  As soon as they were in, both vehicles surged out of the garage.

One of the Russians took initiative and stitched both remaining cars in their tires.  Good thinking…

Within seconds, we went from the garage to the front of the dacha, the snow flying still.  Ving jumped out and breached the doorway while the rest of us shot anything remotely threatening…  which wasn’t much right now (the two cabins had to have been the bulk of them).  Not ten seconds after Ving went in, out he came with Surfer over a shoulder.  Filitov had his fellow Spetznaz over his while Doc and the last Spetznaz escorted a bound Belov.  Phamtom staggered out, bloody as hell and his right eye covered with taped in place bandages.  He didn’t look good… but head wounds never do.

  Tossing our prize in the back of the Hummer, everyone piled into the vehicles as best as possible and once in, we hauled ass for the compound gate for the road out.

And a good thing we did as two light carry-alls were just coming up the hill.  “Shoot the cabs!” Ustinov called out (he was shotgun in this bus) and the Russians just unloaded on the vehicles, joined by Ving’s SAW and available guns from the rest of us Americans.

  The two truck drivers never knew what hit them as we scooted past.  Some fast thinking troops on the trucks managed to return fire at us through the falling snow- and one managed a golden BB moment as a round popped a Russian melon like a grape.  Brains is not something you want sprayed everywhere… but everywhere it went.

Unfortunately, no time to stop and clean it- we were running and running hard.  Ustinov ripped a piece of his dead soldier’s shirt and used it to clear the windshield best he could.  “Best I do,” He said through clenched teeth as he leaned back in his seat.  “Still shit but better than covered, no?”

“I’ll take it…” I replied as I concentrated on moving quick on the snowy roads.  “What’s the alternative to flying?  Or will they fly?” I asked as I slid around a curve.  “Driving out in this is crazy…”

Ustinov looked at a note pad.  “If your Blackhawks don’t fly, Regiment may be able to send a pair of Mi 24,” He said.  “Ours are good in mess- Siberia good for training,”

I grimaced.  I did NOT want to fly in the Soviet Flying Tank… but if a Pavehawk wasn’t available, no other option.  “Well… let’s get to the LZ; there is two alternate sites but I don’t wanna try them.  Not in this.”

Da, Chief Ganic.  Good plan that,” The captain replied. “I no fan of driving additional thirty kilometres in blizzard conditions.”

“Amen, Sir…”


We got to the planned LZ despite the weather trying to kill us.  Phantom had managed to contact Bondsteel not long after we left the scene of the snatch and got assurances that two Pave Hawks would be in the air ‘n by us within the hour- they had held off launching because of the weather.  Not that I blamed them; this was some shitty conditions… but I had doubts the other side was going to be kind enough to even GIVE us an Hour.

Ustinov went ahead while we were moving and contacted his Regiment who said much the same. They would let the Americans pick us up and they would fly cover- they had the weapons for it.  This was news I was cool with- those choppers were damn beasts.  And apparently, both groups had an agreed freq to talk on which was damn helpful.  That they even talked was news to me… but I was just a dumb Special Warfare Operator Chief and not privy to those sorts of deals…

Let’s be honest, the Counter Terror world is a damn small one. I would not be surprised if the various commands exchanged Christmas cards and tidbits on certain events or targets.  At least at the high levels…. And occasionally at this level too.  Just didn’t expect the Air Boys to talk, for some reason.

We got to the LZ after about thirty minutes of driving- the snow really was that level of stupid right now… and pulled both vehicles up next to a hut at the edge of the clearing that was to be used for the pick up.  Once here, the badly wounded were placed inside the structure and the rest of us fanned out to keep watch.  No one expected Belov’s men to not pursue… or other actors- this was the Balkans after all, and everyone could be an opportunist.

  And after about ten minutes, I was NOT disappointed.

Right about the time the Pave Hawks were two minutes out, one of Ustinov’s men spotted a bad thing coming up the road towards us.  A goddamn Serbian Army BTR 50.  Two of them, actually… which was a problem.


Glancing over to Phantom, he confirmed the ETA on the radio. “Say again?” He said into the mic.  “I copy Nine Zero seconds…  We will be waiting.  Be advised the LZ may be hot.”  A pause.  “Understood…”  Setting the mic down, he looked at Ustinov and the rest of us.  “Bloodhound lead reports the Russians will be here about fifteen seconds after them or so they say.  They had farther to go.”

Ustinov nodded.  “Da. Serbian Army lets us land here once in while.  They had to be a bit away to maintain maskirovka. They will be here…”

 Ving grunted.  “I hope so, Captain…  I don’t have much left for this baby,” He patted his SAW. “And it won’t do much against Bimps.”

“No worry, Petty Officer; My Brother-in-Law is lead pilot this mission- he will be here…”  Ustinov said as he checked the load on his AK.  “My sister kick his ass if he isn’t.”

 Dark humor that… and all of us laughed.  Ustinov was ok in my book…

 Right now, we had other problems.

 Down the way, the BTRs stopped to disgorge their troops- all forty of them.  And they looked like Serbian Army regulars.  Remember when I said other Actors?  I was betting someone still alive at Belov’s place called them…. Which made this fucker even more valuable- if he had pull with the government…

  Looking through my ACOG down the way, I counted how many bobo’s spilled out of the tracks and cringed.  “Phantom, I hope those Hawks have guns…  awful lot of Indians out there.”

 Phantom shrugged as he limped out to the barrier next to me.  “They better…”  Lifting his rifle, he shifted so he could aim- and its when I got a better look at his injuries.  Christ on a crutch…

“Dave,” I said using his given name, “Get under cover and get ready to move… you are leaving a mess…”  Mess was an understatement.  Phantom was bleeding slightly from at least three places on his person and he had that head wound.

“Not about to let you and the others do all the work,” He grunted.

“Dude…. Don’t be a hero; leave that to the movies…” I shot back as I sighted downrange.  The Serbs were still a good hundred yards down the way- tough enough shot and even harder in snow.

“Jim… I can-“  He was interrupted by a cannon shot from the Serb BTR- it was the variant with the 30mm and it let us know it thought it saw us…  A second later, the Pave Hawks arrived, their blades whipping the snow into a virtual Snow Devil.  “That changes things…”  He moved back to get people moving while I continued to sight down the road.  Now where was those Hind’s?

Rifle fire began to poke in our direction and we returned it.  The Pave Hawk door gunner, as soon as the birds settled light on the ground, cut loose with its mini-gun.  The tearing-sound was a welcome noise as the command to move came over the net.  Sending a few more rounds downrange, I spun to scoot for the helicopters.

  The Mi-24 Hinds that Ustinov promised arrived at this moment, their chin guns ripping into advancing Serbs like a kid opening presents on Christmas Morning.  This was not to say shit was one sided completely.  The BTRs were slightly occluded from the sights of the attack choppers and were able to lob more rounds our way…  of which I had the unfortunate experience of learning.

  AS I was hauling ass through the snow to the evac birds, I became a moving target for the gunners on those APCs.  30mm HE fire was directed at me and thankfully, none hit me directly.  However, they still carried a concussion and still fragmented… and that is what got me.

Get through all this shit and get dropped by a bunch of near misses.

The concussive force caused me to trip in the snow, and sent me ass over teakettle.  In the process of my ungraceful flight, I caught shrapnel… and a lot of it too.  When I landed, I was in a world of pain.  Arms, legs, a shoulder; I was a fucking mess…

I tried to get up again- I was not staying here, no sir.  But I just couldn’t move.  Pain, shock, my strings were goddamn cut- I didn’t know.  I knew I needed to get up and get moving…. And I couldn’t.  How fucking embarrassing.

Just then, through the haze of pain, I saw one of the Hinds come down super low over me- if I had been standing, I’d have been able to jump up and smack its damn belly- and heard it cut loose on those BTRs.  If I told you that chopper was loud and its guns louder, it would be an damn understatement.  Oh my fucking god…  if I had hearing after this, it would be a damn miracle.  What was even more wild was the quartet of Russians who jumped out of its side and into the snow near me.

  More Spetznaz troopers had apparently gone for the ride here and they took it on themselves to help out.  The four of them came over to me and two helped me up.  With an arm over each of them, the Russian Operators hustled me to the Pave Hawks and helped get me on board one.

  As I was handed off to the Crew Chief, I caught the gaze of one of the new arrivals.  “*Comrade- find me later, I’m buyin’*” I yelled out.

  The Russian’s head snapped up in surprise at my words in his tongue, then he gave me a thumb’s up.  “*I will hold you to that, American!!*” He yelled back and then hauled ass through the snow to his Hind, which had come lower to pick up the four troopers who had jumped out.

The Serb troops were hunkered down- the firepower of the two Russian assault choppers making all of them think twice about showing themselves.  Especially after both BTR’s were now burning…

The Pave Hawks lifted off, the snow swirling around us as the engines strained to rapidly get us out of here.  The Mi24’s stayed a few extra seconds to hose the area good once more before they too departed and fell in behind us.

All of us were bound for Bondsteel- which would make for some interesting conversations when the Russian Birds showed up.

I looked around the interior of the Pave Hawk and groaned some.  Everyone on board this bird was hurt to one degree or another except Doc.  While he was covered in blood, it looked like it was from everyone else on board.  AS the Crew Chief worked to bandage my wounds as an assist to Doc, I took stock of who was on my ride.

Doc and I were the two Seals on board this flight.  Ustinov and Filitov were both on board- the two Spetznaz troopers sporting GSWs- Ustinov having a second leg wound in the retreat and Vasily several grazes (lucky fucker…) as well as a third Russian who was also sporting a GSW.  Surfer’s body was aboard too and covered up some.  Poor bastard.  Belov was aboard this bird too…  And awake.

And apparently able to get out of his restraints as I watched him reach into his boot to snag a knife.

“Shit! He’s Loose!!” I yelled out as our prisoner lunged for Ustinov….

The Mission 2 – The start (a Ganic Story set in the Final Days of America Universe)

Somewhere over the Balkans, October 29th 2012

  The ramp on the C-130 began dropping open as the plane got closer to the drop point and I began to psyche myself up for this. And I needed to- this was not your normal job. No sir it wasn’t…

  I had been home on PCS (Permanent Change of Station) leave, on my way from Dam Neck to San Diego when my phone rang.  When I saw the Virginia number, I thought nothing of it and ignored it.  After the fifth time the number showed up, I answered…. And kinda wished I hadn’t.

  The call was an Emergency Recall Notice, pulling me back off leave.  The place it was pulling me to wasn’t Dam Neck though. It was to Langley.  Once I got there, I got the full lowdown on what the emergency was.

The CIA had managed to locate a Person of Interest in the Balkans- specifically in the mountainous areas of Serbia- that may have played a role in the Benghazi attacks.  And they wanted him badly enough to work with the Russians to get him.

Why the Russians?  Well, that answer is a touch complicated and yet simple.  You see, the Intel agencies do maintain areas of Mutual Interest and the Counter Terror area is one of those.  Granted, the Russians have had a hand or three in helping various groups over the years but got away from it when various actors started shit in their back yard.  Some of it had Agency Trainers but most of those were smart enough to leave the main areas of the Rodina alone.  The Chechen bastards- that was a self inflicted wound for the Soviets… and there wasn’t anyone who didn’t sympathize with the Reds over that shit…  The Chechens were that brutal.

  But for this job, it would seem the Target, Ioseph Belov, was of special interest to all parties.

We, as in the Agency, suspected he was the primary trainer of some of the attackers on our Embassy (what? you thought it was spontaneous, didn’t you? Ha!!) and he had caused some serious grief for the Russians too.  Besides being Ex Spetsnaz- which was egg on the face- he’d managed to carry out several jobs involving ransoms of Big Wig Russians. Some businessmen and at least one Politburo member’s family.  That last one saw the family die as no one thought the Hostage Taker was actually going to kill a Politician’s family.  Especially in Russia…

He escaped that one by being better than the Militia sent to get him.  And to be honest, he probably was better than most American cops if it had happened in the states (Jersey and Colorado Troopers being exceptions- those guys are damn good).  Which meant a military team was going to be needed to get him.  Wherever he was.  And when he was located here, the Agency realized they didn’t have an Action Team available.

When this was realized, someone got the idea to pull the Co-Opt Card with the Pentagon and borrow a team.  Considering the number of Operators they have used in past loans was small, they had a list of who they wanted to borrow.  And on that list… was three Seals- Myself, Phantom and Tiger.

Of the three of us, I was the language specialist… as I spoke Russian and Serb. I had passable Croat but it was the first two languages that were important- as well as my Area Experience; I had done a lot of work in this region and knew a thing or two about its people.  Granted, that info was a bit old now but still…

  Phantom was grabbed because of his Area Experience- as a young Lieutenant, he had led one of the last snatch teams in this area (I was on it, so I know) and even though he was a full Commander now, he was still active on the various teams.  And he was still on their list over ten years later. Go figure…

  Tiger was there for much the same reasons as Phantom- he was part of those crazy jobs back then too and experience in a place really is a thing. Add in his experience with working alongside other country Spec Ops guys and we were the logical (?) choice for any team being formed.

The other three SEALS with us were a hodgepodge of talents and skills. All valuable and all lower ranks (all second class petty officers) which meant as the senior Enlisted as a Chief, all the fiddly bits of running a team fell on my shoulders.

Of the three, likely the most important was HM2 (Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class) Kyle MacPhearson.  A fairly gregarious lad, he was a second generation Seal; his dad had been one of the Marcinko Seals and Kyle tried to follow in his pop’s flippers.  As a Corpsman, that wasn’t likely happening but he was here and our Doc for this mess.  Considering Corpsman were rare in the Teams, I wasn’t sure if this was an omen.

  The middleman, so to speak, was the bald badass with a movie name.  Marcellus Wallace, all six-foot-two of him, was a powerful black man- much like the character his momma named him after. A talented Machinist Mate, he was damn good with machines and knew his way around cars. As Ving (his callsign) put it, he figured he’d learn something more than basic mechanics that he got in a chop shop. If this didn’t work out, he always had that to fall back on.

 Last to the team was a former Gunners Mate, Charlie Motaki. A beach bum before joining, he showed an affinity for weapons and as a surfer, his swimming skills were pretty stellar.  He signed for the SEALS when he realized he’d get to swim a lot as well as being always busy. As he put it when I spoke to him prior to this mission, he doesn’t get in the water as much as he thought he would but at least he’s never bored in this job. One way of looking at it, I guess…

Now, remember when I said the Russians wanted Belov? Well, they committed a six man team of their Spetznaz troops to the effort. Normally, Spetznaz troops tend to run in larger numbers than six- I always thought they were in groups of 10-12 like the Green Beanies… but given how successful we SEALS have been as well as the UK’s Special Boat Service boys, the Russians started to do the same.  At least with the Spetznaz teams connected to their FSB.

Of the six they sent, two stuck out for me.  Their Captain, Grigori Ustinov, was a fairly taciturn fellow, and started out quiet when I met him.  Given he had to work with Americans, I could understand this.  but he seemed to open up a bit when Phantom was introduced- turns out they knew each other from something in Moscow a few years back.  Small world.

The other was Vasily Filitov.  He was the senior Non-Commissioned Officer of their group, equivalent to an E-7 in rank. Spoke very good English and a smattering of Pashtun, he’d been soldiering a bit longer than me and was one of the last Soviet troops out of Kabul in 1989 as a private.  As our respective groups Senior Enlisted Types, it would fall to us to get our teams to work together… and do it in jack time.  We had a whole three days prior to this drop…

Thankfully for the both of us, our men knew we needed to mesh and mesh fast. The benefits of working with professionals… and in one of the odd items where the Russian guys were concerned, they were all Careerists. A rare thing in the Soviet armies… but good here. It meant training was solid and there were no questions on ability- you had to be good or you would not be there long in their Spetznaz units. All of them spoke passible English which also helped. Considering they were FSB connected, I did wonder if it was a requirement…   Requirement or not, it made working together easier.

Gear for the op was close to identical. Some things were absolutely universal in Operator Gear, like multitools and a love of extra pouches.  The other was weapon preferences.  Both groups were using tried and true guns- the Spetznaz troops with their AK 74’s and us with M-4’s (Doc and Ving were exceptions- Doc had an MP5 and Ving a modified M-249) though side-arms were a mishmash. In the run up to this, Filitov and I made sure everyone knew how to operate their counterpart’s weapons. AK’s were not common in the teams and everyone had at least fired them.  If something happened, at least everyone could use the weapons.

  We also tried to standardize where we all carried ammunition and important items.  Standardization in loads was key in sticky situations…  which is where being professionals helped.  All of us knew the why for this way of loadout and adjusted fast.

It was probably going to be important.

So as the Ramp opened up to reveal the moonlit darkness, we twelve commandos stood up and shuffled toward the gaping hole forming in the tail of the plane.  This was to be a Vertical Insertion…  We drop in, form up and make the hike to the Dacha our boy was supposed to be in.  Get in, kill anyone in the way and get him out.  He was a Take Alive at All Costs target and both commanders had the knock-out juice for making Belov a noodle. 

Exfil was to a potential LZ about ten kilometres from the place. Here was hoping this job wasn’t like the last time I did one in this country; that was a fucking shitshow.

Little did I know what was coming…

The light for Jump went GREEN and out the back we went.

Falling like stones, the idea was for all of us to wait until almost the last second to pop chutes- it would limit scatter and minimize in the air time.  And apparently, the Spetznaz side of our band liked to live super dangerous.

  I was ballsy in pulling the cord at 125 feet- about the lowest I’d go.  The Russians…. I swear one of them popped it at fifty and flared hard after.  How he didn’t break something… Just wow.

After we landed, Filitov had a few sharp words with the fifty-foot wonder; apparently, he was showing off for the Americans. After the quiet scolding and adjustment to movement plan- we were eight kilometers away from our target and sunrise was in just over three hours. Not enough time really but it could be done.  If the ground had been more flat, we could likely do it in two hours.  But it wasn’t; the region we were in was hills and mountainous so it was going to take longer.

  Shit… nothing in the Balkans was flat and if there was a means to shorten this hike, it would be found.


We managed to find a beat-up pickup at a cabin along the way and with a bit of coin for the old man who owned it (Who knew the Russians did as we do with extra cash?) and an admonishment to remain quiet about who was here, we loaded up and used it to get far closer to our destination. All told, it saved us a good forty-five minutes and allowed some rest. 

Jumping out about a kilometer from the Dacha, we separated into three groups of four and started for the place.  Clouds had moved in during our trek and the air grew colder.  As we made our way closer, those of us who grew up in the mountains (like me) got the sense that the weather was about to turn bad.  It smelled and tasted like snow….

Getting to a point that overlooked the Dacha, I could only scream internally as Phantom and I looked at each other.  We had the right place alright- GPS for us and the Russians agreed on where we were… but what we were looking at was more than just a Mountain Retreat Cottage.  It was a damn collection of buildings…  a cross between a compound and a village.

And there was a damn sight more than a handful of people here.  More like fifty.

A quick-as-hell conference was held by the four senior folks in our band, with everyone else pulling security. And Ustinov was not surprised by what we had here.

“So you expected this?” Phantom asked.

Da, I did,” Ustinov replied. “Belov is like American Gangster…  Must have staff and bodyguards everywhere he goes now.  Didn’t your CIA tell you?”

“Fuck no…  most they had on him was he ran with about a dozen people when he stayed in one place. Made him quick to move when he had to.”
Ustinov shook his head. “Is not wrong…. But he lives here and in Belgrade.  Easier to get him here than there so more guards,”  He shook head.  “Am surprised he has so many here around him, too.  Don’t misunderstand- I expected him to have lots of guards but not this many.”

I sighed. “That is at least a small comfort, Captain,” I said. “Next you are gonna tell me folks like us are reason for all the guards.”

Filitov gave a dark chuckle. “Ganic, you did mention you did work in this area…  The Hague work you did was studied as object lesson in adjustment to failed intel.  Wouldn’t be surprised this is why there is so many.  We Soviets have done similar snatch missions since then. We are probably bigger reason for all the guards…”

I stared at him.  “You mean…”

Ustinov finished as Phantom started to chuckle. “Yes, Chief Ganic.  You and your Commander were part of what is now taught in some of our Operational Studies. One of our Ambassadors managed to get the complete report from the UN liaison.  Where he got it, I don’t know but is water under bridge. The report is rather fascinating. I should have connected dots when we were teamed.”

Phantom’s chuckle fit subsided.  “Grig, I don’t know where he got the report… but I assure you, what happened, happened.  And right now, I get the feeling this is more of the same.”  He said.  “I am starting to think everything involved in this place is cursed.”

Ustinov laid a hand on Phantom’s shoulder. “Comrade, you are not wrong.  This entire country one giant curse. But we are here and I think maybe they not expect both our country’s best looking to create problems, eh?”

“Nope… and that’s an advantage.”  He looked at his watch. “Ok…  same basic plan, just a lot more shooting. We don’t have time or bullets to waste… and at least they don’t have armor…”

“That is no small favor,” Filitov said with a small shake of his head. “I left my RPG at home…”

The Mission 1 (A Ganic Story set in Final Days of America based Universe)

It had been a long two weeks.

By the end of the day, just after the Battalion had settled in around the airfield at Carlisle, Delta was tasked with heading north into Carlisle proper in the area of the Army Heritage Center instead of being pulled back.  The idea there apparently was to occupy the building and grounds with an eye to turn it into a staging facility.  In the run to the airfield to stop Mobley, the place was ignored by the drive. As reinforcements came, the idea of occupying the Army War College facilities was floated as a possible base.

The idea wasn’t bad. But the site was going to need work. And quite a bit.

Until then, the Heritage Center was deemed a good temp location. Plenty of open space around it and oddly enough, some of the path displays could be turned into areas for units to set up camp in- Especially with a little bit of work. Granted, the trench-works really weren’t much to look at but add overhead cover, it was something.

At least that is what I told myself when we pulled in.

The facility itself was in fair shape, considering.  It had been used as an interrogation site by some of the Russian Advisors and investigated for information; after all, some research did go on here but as was likely discovered, you needed power to access the computers- and about the only thing done here was research on ARMY history.  Nothing groundbreaking… but history is meant to be learned from.

But yeah, we pulled in and fully investigated the facility and grounds. We didn’t find much other than a big mess in the paper archives (bastards!) and a handful of detainees in bad shape. Civilians mostly- a couple of officials who had not changed sides and only rounded up shortly before the Op began to clean house. Poor bastards…

But after Delta cleared the place, word came to Kingpin to start setting up shop here… and to try and lay groundwork for a FOB as NSA Mechanicsburg was a giant mess (B-1B bombing raid will do that…).  So, after checking with all us slobs as to who knew what with FOB construction, we began laying the place out. Other Companies from the Battalion showed up not long after… and things really got rolling, courtesy of the captain.

Fisk, when he inherited all the non-Army personnel, got more than a few Marines and Seabees as augments. And in doing that, he got troops that knew hodge-podge Defenses (Marines) and camp layout/construction (Seabees). Once working construction equipment was located, Third Platoon went to work. Hell, even my ass, which hadn’t worked in my original rate (Equipment Operator) in twenty years, was able to pitch in with the build. Bulldozers and backhoes… staples for EO’s… was a welcome trip back in time for me.

 Fisk was a damn quick study on layout for camps- and being the former PENDOT supe he was, he did know how to manage workload and, as the other companies arrived, personnel. Surprisingly, Colonel Johnson was pretty pliable; he didn’t know much about setting up camps but also knew to not get in the way of those who did- and loaned his bird as needed for getting Army gear or permissions… I think because this was all new to him too and he accidentally had a bunch of Subject Matter Experts handy, he was gonna stay in the background and only step up if we needed him. Which wasn’t often, thankfully.

 As soon as scrounge teams scraped up material sites, Kingpin was detailing two-squad groups to go collect using available trucks.  At Doc’s urging, he had pairs of Squads working the areas around the Center, checking on locals and their needs.  The old Hearts and minds thing.

Meanwhile, more of the Brigade began to move into the area, with another Battalion coming to set up here at the Center.

Thankfully, because we were here first, we got to pick where WE wanted to set up for our Company and Battalion areas.  When it was left to me, I chose the Civil War Cabins on the Heritage Trail.  It was right next to the woods, so we had a supply of firewood if needed, the field next to it was perfect for the platoon vehicles and there was plenty of bunk space, with a building per Platoon.  Add in space for Command Tent Shelters… and we were golden. As the rest of the platoons of Delta came in, they got buildings and so on… Within a week, Delta Company’s area was pretty solid.

 We knew it would likely not last- but we were close to everything we needed to be and away from the brass that would be camping out IN the Heritage buildings. And it seemed Johnson was happy- Battalion Command got the Block House on the other side of the woods, with the other companies spread around it, with sandbag-topped berm-walls created when we couldn’t locate enough Barriers or Hesco’s to make boundaries.

During those two weeks, both Nicols and Lieutenant Wilson returned to the platoon. The LT I knew was coming back- he had almost been ready when the retaking of Harrisburg had kicked off so I expected him to reclaim his seat.  Nicols though… she was a surprise.

  She had taken hits back at City Island and I expected her to be gone a lot longer- Bullet wounds are no joke.  Granted, I managed to avoid being pulled (still don’t know how *that* happened*) and had (unfortunate) experience with functioning with them… but being evac’d as she was usually meant forced recovery time.


In this case, she managed to sit put like a good troop until most of the shooting stopped around here before badgering the hell out of Medical to let her go back.  As she put it, all she was going to do was haul the radio around…. And Delta was going to be a Garrison Force.  She could recover in Garrison here as well as in Lancaster- and she was The Radioman for That Crazy Squid Chief. This apparently gave her some fame and apparently, leverage in getting stuff. Who the fuck knew association with me was worth something?

So, she was back with us…. And wound up being the reason I told a few stories…

One night, after all of the platoon was back in our spaces, I had just settled down to enjoy one of the few cigars I had left.  I had set down on a low stump near our sheltered burn barrel on the edge of the woods (told you we got to pick our space) when a chunk of the platoon not on duty drifted in.

  Nicols showed up with some of them and set down opposite of me on one of the few chairs.  Just after she did, she spoke. “Senior… Got a question?”

I glanced at her as I took a puff on the cigar.  “I might have an answer…”

She pulled out a notepad. “Back in E-Town, that Russian…”

Oh here it comes… “Yes?” I answered.

“What was he talking about you being dead? And how the hell did you know him?”

I was quiet as I looked around at the now thirty-ish pairs of eyes in the circle. To include Gunny’s, who had found a damn crochet needle from somewhere.  This was most of the damn platoon, which was both a surprise and humbling. “That’s two questions, Specialist,” I replied with a half-smile. Yeah, my response was a stall… I knew someone was going to ask about that shit back there- just didn’t expect it in this fashion though.

“Senior,” The voice of Lieutenant Wilson was heard as he walked into the group, troops giving him space. “Consider the second question from me then. I’m curious too… and I got to see the pissing and moaning in the back areas after you left. That Army Intelligence Major was a right pain in the ass… Especially after you got Mobely and then his brother’s ass in a sling with that Marine Colonel’s help. By the way, neat trick that was…”

 Some laughter from the gathered platoon followed that statement. The story of what happened in the Delta CP two weeks ago got around fast… “So there is more than a few questions surrounding you and some of what’s cropped up.”  The LT took a seat on one of the home-made benches and settled in with an expectant look.  “You’ve become legendary in a few ways, Senior. Be nice to know how all this began.”

I sighed; the LT had it right.  And I did want to tell the story…  But oh man, the potential trouble I could get into. “Ok… which sea story you guys want? Please bear in mind, the second story on how I met that Russian… is kinda sensitive, especially if the wrong people hear of it.”

 Kinda my ass…  The fine details of who that asshole is likely was STILL Burn Before Reading classification. But right now, these guys needed to know- at least some of it.

And it’s not like anyone can rush right out and post to Facebook…

Reed, who was seated off to the side with those of her squad still with us, answered that. “I wanna know the part about getting him… makes the You Should Be Dead thing have reasons to make sense.”

 Nicols agreed. “Yeah…  I mean, hearing Belov say you were supposed to be dead is one thing…. But knowing WHO he was and WHY he wanted you d-e-d is another.”

“You would ask about the sensitive stuff first.” I groused. Shouldn’t be surprised, really.  But I was.

Wilson answered that one. “Senior, you are their platoon sergeant and the Platoon Daddy is supposed to be a mentor, full of stories and wisdom.  I’d say there is a lesson to be learned in hearing about what happened. At least in what you can talk about…”

I looked at the LT. “True enough sir… true enough. Someone find me a coffee and… Well shit.”

 From out of the darkness strode Specialist Li, a travel mug she found from somewhere in her hand. “I believe I won a bet, Senior,” She said as she walked up and handed me the mug.  “Said you would want a cup of coffee before you started telling stories…”

A laugh. “You’re not wrong, Li.”  Taking a sip of the brew, I savored the taste before I looked around at the platoon. Fuck it- they earned the right to know this shit… And no one was gonna talk out of school.

“It all began in 2012…” I began as my brain went down memory lane…

The Road to Harrisburg Twenty one – A Final Days based tale (finale)

  JUST after Bravo got settled into the area and started relieving our guys, a quartet of choppers (two Blackhawks and a pair of Apache) came in low and quick to the field. After a wicked fast landing, a bunch of armed troops exited both of the ‘hawks.  All of them were in some sort of High Speed/Low Drag body armor and looked like something out of one of them Delta Force movies (having done a job or three with them, I assure you they don’t look like that…) or something.

  They were a little nervous when a number of us had them under our guns- to include one of the MGS Strykers (Trust but Verify, as the saying goes; in an insurrection, anyone can be the bad…), But they recovered swagger fast and strode for our building with a purpose.  Someone must have said something back East about who/what we had.  They damn sure weren’t here for the Colonel.

I was in the CP when one of these very clean folks entered the place with two shooters like he was God or Annointed By Himself.  I hate those fuckers…. And its why I didn’t get Senior when I was active duty.  (long fun story there, I assure you)

“Where is he?”  The lead member of the Clean Cammie Squad who had come in demanded of the poor Staff Sergeant manning the TOC like he was all that and a Kettle of Fish.  Not the way you do it unless you were either Agency without any field chops or a plain outright Dick.  I strongly suspect that dude was fucking both…  His shooters stayed near the door- smart but they were in a poor spot for what came next.

  That I happened to be in there was likely a good thing and completely accidental- I’d come looking for Coffee as there wasn’t a Command Post anywhere in the Army (or Navy Ground Side) that didn’t have a pot up within an hour of taking a site.  And we’d been here for almost nine, so I was fairly certain my hunt was going to be successful. I had left Gunny in charge in order to go looking…  To say I was successful would be correct- and I was enjoying a bit of the magic bean juice when Asshole got here….

  The NCO accosted, after attempting to get an identity from the guy, saw me and pointed without saying a word other than “Ask him.”  The two specialists standing watch had weapons at low ready and all of the CP personnel had their weapons near; no one knew exactly what was going on and these guys *did* come in on Army Birds.  But there had been enough bad movies out there that this bullshit fit into… and if you knew the movies I was thinking of, you had a good childhood.

Mister Clean Cammie strode up to me with a purpose.  “I want answers,” He began as he looked for my rank and continued when he found it. “Senior Chief Ganic.  I am here for the Package- where is he?”

  I sipped my recently acquired coffee, never taking my eyes off of this asshole.  “First things first… who are you?” I began.  “And where is your paperwork for Transfer?”  I knew he didn’t need them for most hand offs… but after all the bullshit we went through, I was through playing.

Clean Cammie puffed up.  “Major Mike Gregory, DIA and I don’t need paperwork to take him, Senior Chief.  This is a Warzone.”  I noted his rank pins were not subdued, as they should be. And as spiffy new as his cammies…  Which meant he likely was a desk Jockey who never been anywhere and threw this together to look like otherwise.  Seen it before, I have, and I was obviously seeing it again.  I wasn’t about to let anyone take Mobley from here without shit being right.  Too much at stake otherwise… and too much damn death. No no…  This was gonna be fun; and was probably going to bite me in the ass in the end.

  Oh well.

“Major, I wasn’t aware this was declared a war zone.  I thought it was a police action….” I replied calmly as I set my coffee down.  This guy shared a name with the asshole from Lancaster- I wonder if they were related…  “And I still don’t see anything official on your end as to who you are.  Y’all could be Lieutenant Johnny No-Nuts playin’ at being someone… I’m not about to get took by a mouth and pretend authority for no good reason.  You aren’t even wearing proper rank…”  Yeah, I was setting him up for being Stupid.  And given my bad shoulder was hurting some after no sleep for over twenty-four hours, I just didn’t care.  I hope he threw hands…

  The two specialists on internal security watch shifted slightly- and I was pleased.  They also got the vibe being given off and recognized this *might* get stupid. Here was hoping no guns were going off; far too many things in here that react badly to bullets…

“Senior Chief Ganic, I do not have to show you shit and you know it,” He replied with a Snarl. (I must have hit a nerve…)  “I know exactly who and what you are; your John Wayne antics of the last 96 hours are known to me and believe me, you do NOT want to push this matter.  You and your Captain don’t have the rank nor authority here to stop me from acquiring the prisoner for questioning.”

  So that was it. An Agency Behind Scenes power play…  I bet not even Leyland knew about this and this guy’s bluster screamed Agency of some kind- I had doubts he was DIA; they at least knew how to wear a uniform, even for spooks. This…  Any more blatant and he might as well as wear a poster board.  The General seemed like an alright guy; I bet he was gonna flip his lid on this.  Him and the Administrator, Wertz, when he found out about it.

I was about to reply when a scuffle broke out at the Door and a bunch of hollering happened.  No shots though which was something….  But what I and everyone in here did hear was the cocking of a pistol from off to the side of me.  Looking over that way, I saw Callisto standing there with Fisk from a side room- both with pistols out and pointed at the Good Major.  Fisk had his comset on his head, which explained the scuffle outside.  Brilliant, really.  She must have been having a private chat with Kingpin when this shit broke.  Luuuuuckyyyyy….

The two Specialists had their guns up and covering the shooters by the door, who were caught between reacting to whatever happened outside AND what just happened in here.

“Senior Chief Ganic might not have authority to stop you on an official level but he has authority to question yours,” Colonel Gianni-Rhumer said, her voice as cold as a Balkan Blizzard deep in winter.  “By the way, I absolutely have the rank to stop you on an official level and far more Friends than you right now, Major.  Seven of them happen to be right here…”   She shook her 45 a little in his direction as she continued, “So why don’t you raise your hands up like a smart young man and have a seat on that chair over there after you are all disarmed? If you are who you say you are, then you may leave. Not until then…”

Gregory, for his part, immediately understood the Marine Colonel with the large pistol was going to shoot him if he either opened his mouth or declined to cooperate.  As he raised his hands up, I reached over and took the beretta off his hip. I knew I’d have to search his ass in a minute… but this would do for now.  One of the CP personnel went and pulled rifles out of the Major’s escorts mitts and handed them off to another member of the CP.  The Shooters were a touch unhappy but that was their problem.

“Now then…. Sit.” She Who Must Be Obeyed commanded.  The air in here had gotten decidedly colder, if that was even possible.

Gregory sat.

Fisk came further into the main room as several troops also entered the building, pausing to collect the two Shooters who had their own hands up.   Roach was one of the new arrivals and looked at the Captain.  “Everyone is secure outside.  The Gun Boys have their choppers under sights and the two Apaches have been advised that there has been a problem.  I knew one of the pilots- he’s not one of whoever these guys are.” Jimmy commented. “They were tasked with escorting them only.”

Fisk nodded.  “Good to know.  Sergeant Shaughnessy, raise Brigade.  I need to know what the fuck is going on…”


I searched Gregory and found a pair of knives along with a Syringe Kit with some prefilled shit in it.  If it was what I thought it was, This DUMB bastard really wasn’t field qualified.  You don’t carry this on you unless it’s expected to be a rush job violent pickup.  Phantom hated carrying it- he was always afraid it would break on him or he’d get jabbed accidentally- and I never liked it either.  It was solid for hit and run snatch though.  That this guy thought it was a smart to carry it on him…  Yeah, no.

This entire thing smelled like an adhoc job.

Bravo’s Company Commander, Captain Shane Dougan, sent over a squad from his CP when the ruckus happened outside ours. Not that all the Delta guys weren’t enough but there wasn’t a lot free with everything going on- our prisoners were being processed for transfer on trucks which were coming at that time and some were sleeping- so the help was great to have.  Especially as the handful of additional *guests* needed watching.

  When he found out, He said we were kind not to shoot him- he would have out of spite.  Bravo’s boss, a former Beanie, had a hate for the Agency types from when he was an Enlisted Snake Eater.

Gregory, to his benefit and credit, stayed silent. His agency ass was now in a sling and he did know it.  But he remained a touch defiant, as most of those guys do. That there was an additional wrinkle to come would break that defiance…. But until it came into play, he remained confident. Even when Dougan’s boys hauled him away to sit in a closet in HIS command post (Dougan rather liked that idea we did with our HVT)…

Fisk got answers fairly fast. Boy did he and he sat myself and Roach down along with Callisto (who now had a rep; the scene in the CP already got out…) and explained it out.

“This was totally an unauthorized mission. Apparently, he convinced Division’s Air ops to free up the choppers for this jaunt… and Leyland is getting pressure to extract our prisoner, as is Wertz.  All of them, actually… but especially Mobely because he was the symbol of defiance here.  He needs to be paraded out soon. But Leyland wasn’t moving fast enough for some parties…. And the Spooks wanted him bad enough to end run. AS near as it can be determined, Leyland is not amused. Administrator Wertz… wants a scalp.

 Right now, we are still sitting on him until either the Colts are operational or Division can shake loose birds to fetch.  I was told I would get a call when they were coming. The two we got here…  might have compromised pilots.”

 I was about to suggest a plan when Callisto offered up an idea of her own.  “Captain, I am also a qualified Blackhawk pilot; I can fly one of the ships we have with our problem children and some security along. I need to get back at some point anyway.”

 Fisk looked at the Marine Officer. “You sure?  Your leg…”

 “Will be fine, Captain…  I’ve flown with worse, and my personal plane is far less forgiving on the controls; you need your problem removed before more nonsense shows up,” She replied. “I should think Mister Mobely and four guards should be sufficient.  I think I can deal with whatever red tape develops.  I have a knack for it.”

 Roach, who had been quiet, spat some dip juice into a bottle. “Colonel, you are just a bad ass bitch.  Thought you should know that,” the Former Seabee’s drawl just made his words sound like it was from a cowboy out of a western…. And it elicited the laugh from Callisto as expected.

 Fisk got up and called out to his First Sergeant. “Warrington…  get Mobely ready to go. We have a solution.”

“What about his bodyguard?” I heard Top say.

“He can go with the other prisoners…” Fisk said. “Gregory too… Pass that to Bravo, would you?”

Laughter was the answer….

Fisk looked back at me. “Go pick the security, Ganic.  Not you- I want you here to help shepherd if we are pulled back.  Or available if more crazy shit happens…  You attract it and you seem able to fix it when it happens. The rest of the Brigade is in the area or about to be… and we MIGHT be pulled back- especially after this nonsense.”

All I could say was, “Ayeaye…”

With that, our impromptu meeting broke up. Callisto left with me to return to Delta’s spaces to retrieve the rifle I convinced her to keep. When I commented on her knee being a hindrance, she replied, “Not to worry, Senior; I can fly a Blackhawk just fine… just pick a good group of security for him- thinkers as well as doers. I suspect there will be plenty of nonsense when we get back to the rear.”

“I have just the ones in mind,” I said.  “Won’t stop the Agency stupidity.  They are going to be mad.”

A slight smile.  “I’m not worried…  If you knew who my Skeet Shooting partners were, I think you’d be pitying Major Gregory.”

I paused.  “Do I want to know?”

 The Colonel stopped and looked back at me.  “Well, let’s just say Charles McAlister is currently losing to me five matches to three and his Intelligence Chief is a former drinking buddy when he had honest work… I will be fine and so will you.” She said with a smile.  “Don’t be rash and this will work out. I assure you.”

“Damn, Colonel…”

 She continued walking. “Senior, I wasn’t kidding when I said I had more friends than the Major. And deflecting some trouble off of you is the very least I can do for providing me entertainment.”


Within thirty minutes, Mobely was packaged up and brought to the Blackhawks.  The second Blackhawk was also going- Captain Dougan had a former pilot among his staff and he volunteered to fly the second ship.  The decision was made then to send Gregory on that ship along with the badly wounded.

  Gregory would be zip-tied as no one trusted him (talk about insult to injury) and a team of Bravo grunts would ride herd on him. Doc McGee would fly with Clarke (who was still living) and one of the others who was bad off.  A pair of Medevac birds were on their way to collect the other badly wounded now that it was full daylight and the area more secure.

  MA2 was sent along with PFC Grace and two others from her Squad as security for Mobely.  I told all four of them to make sure heads were on a swivel; too much dumbshit was swirling around this guy and last thing I wanted was them getting got because of it. Reed assured me she had this and not to worry; the MPs back in the Cantonment would have her back if something happened. The rest of her squad was parceled out to the rest of the platoon as filler or extras.

All the DCP prisoners were loaded onto 7-Tons and those left about an hour after the Blackhawks departed. They left with a bunch of MPs and two squads from First Platoon as security for the ride East.  Whatever wounded DCP troops that were found were gathered up and placed in a hangar for triage and eventual evacuation with Mortuary Affairs (who arrived with the troops mentioned below) gathering the dead for processing too. And there was quite a few dead- 90% of which were DCP troops.

 Fisk was right about our being pulled back eventually. Brigade rotated in two full Battalions for Carlisle Duty over the course of the day and Engineers were arriving to both assess structures and maybe turn the field into more than just a light duty strip for helicopters.

 The strip could handle a C-130 easy enough… and Carlisle Barracks actually had capability to function as an actual post though more on the Administrative side.  There was enough space to station troops but some work would likely need to be done for that.

With the pasting NSA Mechanicsburg took, Carlisle was likely the place to use… and the 56th may wind up here.  But right now, Delta wasn’t in the picture for that and I was fine with that.  This reclamation was going to take a lot of time to do and once we had a chance to refit some, we’d be back at it.

Hopefully with less shooting… and perhaps a reunion with the Dragoons who were still in operation north of Harrisburg.  If Big Army will let them come back, of course. Won’t know till we pull back and refit.

I was certain there was stupid to come when we did go back; despite the Colonel’s assurance I would be fine, I was not going to think nothing was going to come up. There was far too much interest in this guy and apparently in myself for there not to be something.

Ah well.  I’d cross that bridge when I came to it. Now where did I put my coffee?

The Road to Harrisburg Twenty – A Final Days Based tale

  Rolling out along Meals, we ducked south on the road split and cut through a yard to get to the Fountain House B and B property.  From the Satellite picture, it looked like an easy crossing of the creek there to a semi-paved hiking trail and what looked like a Home Depot. I hoped it was Stryker-wide otherwise it was risking going up into the plaza past the trail.

  Once there, two of Reed’s boys dismounted and checked the creek depth.  After determining it was at best knee deep, I ordered Jake to goose it across.  The dismounts continued across and made it to the trail as our carrier hit the water and made the crossing.  Climbing out, the wheels spun a bit but the 6×6 nature of the Styker gave us the means to escape the creek and on up to the trail.

  Once on land, Brand had our Stryker maneuvered onto the trail and pointed south on it towards an apartment complex with access to the trail- the boy was damn good with Night Vision driving- and we managed to fit alright on the trail.  At this time, I changed channels and tried to raise Pitbull Lead on the rescue freq.

“Black Sheep, Archer,” I called over the channel, using the callsign I got in a last second update from Pitbull elements, still in the general area.  “Black Sheep, Archer.  Acknowledge.”  She’d either answer or there would be a series of clicks- four rapid ones- if she couldn’t speak.

Turns out she could.  [Archer, Black Sheep] That was good, though I detected a bit of pain.  [Kept your promise, did you?]

“Said I would.”  I replied.  “Sitrep..”

A pause.  [Down near the chamber of commerce building.  Tried to hoof it wide and cross 81 down over here.  Unfortunately, there are an awful lot of wolves around here…] Blacksheep said quietly.  [And this lost sheep is a bit outgunned.  I think I pissed them off…]

“I bet.  Ok… Sit tight- I have a handful of Sheepdogs with me and we’ll be there soonest.”

[Good to hear,] came the reply. [Take your time but hurry up though…]

Looking at Reed, I posed a question.  “I need two.  Who’s your best Ninjas?”

She blinked.  “Bobbi Grace, me and Jerry Swartz,” She replied.  “I know I can’t go.  Take ‘em- I know you are gonna try and get her out on foot and that’s a good plan.  We’re the Cav if you can’t.”


She looked at the aforementioned soldiers, Jerry Swartz and Bobbi Grace.  “Both of you, with Senior.  Make me proud.”

Bobbi had a shit eating grin.  “Sheeee-it, MA2, we got this jawn…” She said as she ditched her helmet and pulled a soft cover. “I always wanted to do sneaky stuff.”  Jerry just shook his head.

I chuckled. “Ditch the brain buckets.  I want maximum hearing and these hinder.” I placed mine inside the hatch.  “Light on feet for this.”  Looking back at Reed, I was about to suggest moving the Stryker when she cut me off.

“We will get up into this lot over there.” She pointed back towards a housing complex close to the trail.  You need us, we’ll be there…” She said. “May the Goddess help anyone trying to stop you.”

With that, the three of us beat feet.


Moving quick with night vision can be a challenge but not a hard one when you have practice.  Bringing it up to my eyes to check the route, I moved at light jog up the trail then off through the woods to the lot by the hotel near 81.   Pausing to give it a good scan, I noted nothing living here and motioned for us to move out.

Hoofing it to the rear of the old cracker barrel, we three made good time.  It was when we got to the end of the that cover was going to be an issue.  Scanning the route, I noted nothing showing nearby but with the activity in the direction of the airfield, it was not as quiet as one would think in the area.

  Jerry went first across the lot to the edge of the ramp.  It was a good thing for us that no one had cut squat for grass in a year- good concealment.  But it also could hide stuff from us too.

Thankfully, it didn’t and before long, all three of us were at the ramp edge.  The grass in the median was tall too, and like the shadows we were attempting to be, we slipped across the roadway into the tall grass.  Making our way to the underpass, we paused at the edge of the bridge.   Checking the channel on my comms, I attempted to raise Black Sheep again.

She replied with handful of clicks.  Oh that was not good…  Glancing to my two companions, I motioned to my eyes and brought up my AK as I pulled the nightvision into place.  This was sneak time… and the moment we had to shoot, it was going to be stupid.

Unless someone else shot first.

As we slipped through the shadows of the underpass, some yells were heard from the direction of the Chamber building.  A few shots from rifles then three loud bags.  Big throaty things… which to me sounded like large pistol caliber.

  As we got closer, I could see several DCP troops laid out on the ground, not moving much.  A double handful of others were covering the building from various angles.  It would appear that the bad guys had found her… and listening to them talk, they were going to toss a grenade then rush her.

It was time for us to change that.  Looking over to my fellow shadows, I motioned what fields of fire to take with my off hand.  After nods, I lifted my AK, waiting for a grenade to get readied.

One of the DCP guys pulled a grenade out and pulled a pin…. Which earned him a shot in the back.  The surprise of the rest of the DCP troops at the gunshot held long enough to see the grenade, which had dropped from the thrower’s hand, to explode.  The results of its detonation caught at least three of the troops in its blast, tossing them like a rag doll.

  The rest of the troopers were engaged by Bobbi and Jerry in what ultimately wasn’t much a fire fight, my own rifle joining them.

At most, six seconds was all it took to take out this patrol- they had not expected resistance from behind them and it showed..

.  Rising from the crouch I had dropped to for this, I advanced on the building.  Taking care to kick weapons from hands, I let Bobbi and Jerry to make sure they were dead.  Reaching the door, I stepped to the side.  “Black Sheep….” I called out.  “Its Archer.”

The woman’s voice from the radio answered me, evidence of both amusement and pain in her tones.  “Lovely timing, Archer.  I was wondering if I was about to have to entertain more guests than I could handle.  Rude ones, too…”

A chuckle on my part.  “Indeed… May I come in?”

“Of Course…”

I stepped in through the doorway and scanned the room.  Black Sheep was sitting on the floor next to an overturned heavy table.  Moving closer, I extended a hand to the woman pilot.  “Senior Special Operations Chief Jim Ganic, 56th Stryker Brigade…” I said as I noted her Branch on her flight suit. “What in the hell is a Marine Colonel doing in an Eagle?”

She took my hand as an assist to get up.  “Senior, I might ask the same question about a Navy Seal Chief with the Pennsylvania Army Guard,” She replied.  “Lieutenant Colonel Callisto Gianni-Rhumer, 455th Provisional Wing out of Peterson.”  She looked over at the door as my two shadows appeared.  “Story time later, I suppose.  Someone is bound to have heard the shots.”

I nodded.  “Absolutely.  Bobbi- take point,” I said as I picked up what looked like a custom M4 off one of the dead troopers. “Every marine a rifleman still?”  I offered the rifle to Black Sheep who took it as she holstered her pistol (a damn ancient Government Model Colt, looked like).

“Absolutely…” Was her reply as she reached down to grab a pair of magazines.  Once she had them stowed, we moved out.

  In the distance back towards Carlisle proper, I could see movement of vehicles under running lights or blackout drive.  We needed to move quick before company got here.

At a light jog, Bobbi led us back towards where MA2 and the Stryker were.  As we ran, I noted the limp in Gianni-Rhumer’s stride.  “Colonel… you get injured on the way out the bird?” I asked.

She replied, pain in her voice but still strong.  “I think I caught my knee on something during ejection… and of course, I landed poorly.” She said.  “It’s probably a fracture but I can move.  For now, at least.”

A fracture?  For fuck’s sake, I know Marines are hardcore but their pilots too?  “Colonel, if you are running on it, it might not be.”

A chuckle. “Oh, trust me…  it would not be the first time I’ve done so; when I was one of the 214th, we ran with the ground marine units often so… this is a familiar pain.  Can’t check on it now though…”

“No we can’t…” I go on the comm unit for the squad.  “Oh Em Aaa Twooooooo….”

[Get her?] Came the query.

“Yes.  Get ready to scram.”

 As we hit the area behind the Home Depot, the Colonel slowed down immensely, her limp a bit more pronounced. “As much as I want to keep up the pace, I am not moving all that well right now.  My knee is not cooperating…”

 Bobbi stopped and turned towards the pilot.  “Colonel, how much you weigh?”

 Gianni-Rhumer looked at the woman.  “150 or so…” She answered.  “Why?”

 “Ma’am, I can carry you if needed…”  The PFC replied.  “My training vest weighs as much as you.”
 The Colonel laughed.  “Won’t be necessary; I didn’t say I couldn’t move, just not move fast…”

 “Ok ma’am.”  Bobbi replied and continued to lead the way, this time at a slower pace.


We got back to the Stryker under the watchful eyes of Reed and the rest of the squad.

 After a few brief introductions, all of us boarded the APC.  Jake maneuvered the Stryker from the woods back to the crossing point and re-forded the stream, avoiding a bogging in the process….  In the distance, the first streaks of false dawn appeared on the horizon as we made our way back to the strip.

  Reed called ahead and we were met by a fire team who escorted us in.  In the light of the coming dawn, I could see the mess around the strip’s outskirts- the volley that Fisk called down on the DCP troops had been solid as hell and the number of dead enemy… was a lot.

Jake drove our Stryker to the command post and we got out.  Colonel Gianni-Rhumer had to be helped as her knee had swollen to the point of preventing any sort of flexing.  Helping her inside, I instructed Reed to find her something to drink and eat while I went to find Kingpin.  Daylight or not, we were in need of relief and one hoped Big Army had some for us.

We had been super lucky so far… and I was starting to feel like it was running a little light at the moment.  But as long as it was here, I’m not gonna complain.  Daylight was coming and our situation should improve.


Thankfully, Fisk had some good news.  Task Force Command had informed Fisk of another Stryker Company coming- Bravo or so he was told- and that we would have someone to collect our prisoner.  I still wasn’t convinced it was him but if so, what a damn coup.  But the faster he was gone, the better….

It would be another hour before he was extracted… and two more until Delta Company was relieved.

Going back to where the Colonel was situated in the Aid Station, I found her seated with her flight suit cut open up to her knee, which exposed a bloody mess on her lower leg.  “Damn, Colonel…” I said to her as I offered her a bottle of water.  “I think you hit more than you thought.”

She looked up and over at me, accepting the water with a nod.  “So it would seem.  Your medic thinks I caught a round when they initially tried for me at that hut,” She said.  “My running on it didn’t help but options were a bit limited at the time….”  Holding out her hand.  “Proper introduction is in order, I think.  Marine Lieutenant Colonel Callisto Gianni-Rhumer, Acting Squadron Commander of the 455th Provisional Wing, late of VMF 214.”

Shaking her hand, I answered.  Senior Chief Jim Ganic, Colonel.  56th Stryker Brigade.  Formerly Naval Special Warfare Group Two and DEVGRU once upon a time….”

  Reed walked up as the Colonel identified herself.  “VMF 214?”  She sounded excited.

  Callisto smiled.  “Yes…”

 I was confused slightly.  “Who?”

 The MA2 looked as me.  “Black Sheep Squadron, Senior…”  She said in her happy voice. “Friggin’ famous as hell unit.  At least to Marines and history buffs- like your DevGroup is to us.  Even had a TV show…”

 “No shit….” I said, now remembering both the unit and the show.

 Callisto chuckled.  “MA2, I assure you Great Uncle Greg would have told you most of it was Hollywood bullshit story.  Some truths… but just stories.”

 Reed, if possible, fan-girled a little more.  “Ma’am, I don’t care.  Still an awesome show, even if a bit over the top on stuff.  And he was your Uncle?”  MA2 was quick- she picked up on that reference.

 “Yes.  He died when I was a little girl but I remember him and his larger than life nature.” She replied.  “He inspired me to become a pilot.”

Reed looked positively ecstatic.  “Colonel, thank you for following through on being a pilot.  You and yours stopped them hard.”  Sketching off a salute, she looked at me next.  “Senior, Gunny needs to speak with you soonest about what to do with the borrowed AK’s.”

“Tell her I’ll be there in five.”

“Ayeaye,” Reed replied and moved off.

I returned attention to Callisto.  “So…  how?” I asked, referencing the question from earlier. “I was retired and vollied up when The Army showed up here. Never expected to be doing this, that’s for sure.”

 Callisto laughed some. “Well, I didn’t expect this either.  I was home on Terminal Leave in Colorado visiting family there when everything happened.  Found myself reporting to the nearest Air Force base to offer up myself to help.  Being a Marine fighter pilot, they tried to get me somewhere that I would fit but as there was no slots for a Marine Colonel available with Navy or Marine Air, the Air Force saw fit to make best use of me…”

  She sipped her water.  “With so much damaged on the East Coast, I was sent to Davis Monthan to help raise a squadron or two.  Had to transition to the Eagle; helps I have an obnoxious amount of flight hours though most of it is in Hornets and Harriers. I did have experience in the 35 though.  Was there when 214 transitioned to it.”

 She shrugged. “I expected being sent to one of those squadrons instead of learning an Eagle.  But what Uncle Sam wants isn’t necessarily what you might want, right?”

“Agreed,” I said.  “I never expected to be a platoon Sergeant, much less a platoon leader.  I figured my old ass would occupy a desk or something. Silly me…  Incidentally, that rifle is now yours, if you want it.  Real Non-standard kit and a relic.  Its an A2…”

A stern look.  “Senior, trophies are frowned on.”

“I know a guy…” I replied. “And its not like you don’t have a relic already.  That forty-five of yours…”

“…was my father’s.  Came with the very functional Corsair I have sitting in Colorado Springs.  Wish I had it for that strafing run but ah well.” She replied with a smile.  “Something tells me your MA2 would fan-girl spaz a bit knowing I have one of those.”
A laugh.  “A little…” I said. “Hell, I’m impressed.  I know there isn’t many of them left flying, much less in private hands.”

“A labor of Love, Senior Chief.  Everyone has a hobby and Kessie is mine.” Callisto smiled softly.  “Have to get through this first to get back to her.”

“Duly noted, Colonel.  Duly noted… and I think this shit is almost done…” I mused.  “Captain Fisk said we had relief coming.  They should be here soon…  This has been a long three days.”

“That, I wholeheartedly agree with you.”


  Bravo showed up roughly ninety minutes after Sunrise along with a handful of Pilots for the Colts.  At least one of them was a complete loss.  The others… would require some work but might fly again.  The rest of the Brigade, freed up by follow on units, was busy moving up through NSA Mechanicsburg and to here.  It had been determined that this airfield might be able serve as a forward field for the Cav aircraft elements in the further push west.  It was mostly intact at least, which was a start… and well, the Expeditionary units that set up advanced airfields has something to work with here.

Now the Big Deal that had us out here… was El Shitbag Mobley.  And what came next, was fucking special.

The Road to Harrisburg Nineteen – A Final Days based tale

For the next hour, we were a very busy bunch of Stryker Grunts.

First and Second Platoon sent out LP/OP’s so we’d have some warning. All four cardinal points, the teams went about a hundred yards or so out. Not far but enough to give us a bit of time to ready up in case the push came from that direction.  Considering most of the known assets were north of us, the attack when it came was expected to be from the north and northeast.  I mean, Carlisle Barracks and the Heritage center were that way, as was the county EMA… all semi good locations to base troops at.  Other than the Storage Units… but those would be mighty cold in the winter.

 All our little baby drones were being charged or rotated up to recon- the night vision setting on their cameras ate a battery charge like no one’s biz and we were going to need them in the worst way. The Gun System Strykers were stashed by the houses in the wood line and the platoon was assigned a squad from Second as security. They needed to stay out of sight as much as possible- the guns were our ace in the hole against anything armored.

 All our non-walking wounded was set up in a mini-Aid Station back in a house whose door was kicked in.  It was the best we could do under the circumstances. Clarke and Jones were both still alive, doc having done wonders for the latter once he was removed from his pile of rubble mess. Everyone else who was capable was engaged with shoring up fighting positions in and around the hangars (taking care to ensure our *guests* were secure still) and over in the houses.

 A detail was out in the field making sure all possible weapons were policed up along with ammo; if we were going to hold against a horde, we didn’t have enough ammo for our regular weapons to do so. So, orders went out to the platoons- anyone who knew how to use an AK was to take one along with a bunch of mags and hand off half of their M4 ammo to others.  Best use of resources- and the dead in the field don’t need their weapons anymore.

 Fisk was smart here… and while a practice that’s frowned on for normal line troops, in a pinch its allowed. Granted, it was kinda stretching the rules… but right now, there was a need for the additional firepower. Also meant that there was nothing laying around if the POWs broke out. As it was, I took an AK- having used them before in training way back and actual ops, I knew the weapon almost as well as an M4. Don’t let anyone fool you, it’s a good weapon and for this mess, it would serve. Its not like I’m trying to shoot across a damn valley or something.

  The RPK’s that had been liberated from the former owners were now in the hands of perimeter squads. A little extra firepower for each group and it might confuse some folks on the other side. Instructions were to open up with them first before anything American.  The other command that went out was no automatic fire from the M4’s. Semi Auto only- we had to make it to daylight and who knew how long afterward. Ammo conservation was a thing… and even though Fisk had brought extra rounds and we had the extra from the start of this jaunt, only a fool thought it would be enough.

I never expected to be sitting in a modern Alamo or even a Jadotville… but life always has its own ideas, eh?  At least we had Air Support if we needed it.

The overall set up was First and Second Platoons were the Perimeter forces and my Third was the Reserve/Reaction element. Not that we had far to go to react to a line break but in a pinch, we could maneuver and hit from a side.  If need be- I had my doubts on pulling that off if we were hit as expected but it was a good option to have. Josias’s squad would function as security for the Aid station and command post (CP) building; Fisk had some security but more really was necessary.

When the Northern LP sent word of movement at the highway edge then the Eastern post said there was signs of movement coming from the direction of the Microtel we passed on the way in.  The two teams were told to pull back- No one gets caught out if it could be helped. The southern LP shifted east some.  Not that they expected to get in the fight but it wouldn’t hurt.

  Western end would remain at their spot at the corner of Robin and South Spring Garden; it was a good location to watch for anything coming in the west side and made slow them down; they had two of our AT4 launchers… here was hoping they were not needed.  I thought they were a bit far out but given the terrain, it was the best spot.

As the two teams ran back to the defensive positions, spot reports came in from the various fighting positions on what was coming.  No one saw armor yet… but we knew it was out there.  Also out there likely was more mortar teams.  Parsons and his fellow FO’s all said same thing to Fisk when it was mentioned- they would find them and if Air was available, it would be tasked with whacking them.

So our defensive plans were going to be tested… and judging what the first drones showed, this was going to be bad.  At least I got to watch things develop from the CP

Coming across Rt 81 was a pair of BMPs, infantry moving with them and just ahead.  There was nothing we could do to stop the crossing but once the MGS boys saw them, it would be a different story.  From the direction of the Micro, about two platoons of troops moved forward, backed by another pair of BMPs and one of the MRAPS reported on earlier.  This was a concern- the MRAP was a tough machine…  What was slightly disturbing was that both advances appeared to be moving in sync.  Which meant this likely was some pros.


The first shots were fired as the eastern enemy cleared the corner, the defensive squad cutting loose with the aforementioned RPK. Via the feed, the initial shots struck true… cutting down a few of the advancing men as if they had been poleaxed.  The rest sought cover as a few M4s also fired. An MGS shifted some and got its main gun into play as the MRAP showed itself.

  Not even a second after the MGS moved, it fired.  The one hundred- and five-millimeter gun on the MGS used was similar to the main gun on the Brit Challenger and early M-1 Abrams tanks… and it showed its power off here.  The round slammed into the front of the MRAP and in a sick bang of impact, tore through the target’s engine compartment. That shot killed the vehicle, but it also gave the enemy knowledge of where OUR armor was.

 Five second after the MRAP ate it, a fusillade of RPGs came back after our MGS.  Thankfully, he had pulled back after the shot but man….  I counted six rockets sent back toward it- not a fun number but at least they missed. But it did stop them for a time….

 The attacking forces in the northern sector finally cleared the far wood line, waltzing into the line of sight of our machine guns and an AT4, which hit a BMP that had just nosed through the trees. The explosion lit up the area around it, enabling the squads on that front to target some of the attacking DCP men, blunting their advance. A Mk 19 from one of 2nd Platoon’s Strykers added its firepower to the mix and blunted things even further. It turned into a stalemate as the DCP didn’t seem to have Night Vision gear and we did. It also meant the command to semi auto only was a benefit- less flash to aim at.

While things were working out on the north and east, I knew it wasn’t going to last.  It was just after one in the morning… and Sunrise was still a long time away.

Just then, reports from the Western OP came in- they were under some fire from the underpass and the berm as DCP troops came into their fire sectors.  And it was quite a few coming through the pass.

“Ganic- take a squad that way and bolster them.” Fisk called to me. “They need some extra guns over there.”

“Ayeaye…” I called out and looked at the squads I had available. “Reed, you and yours with me….”

Reed, who had also been hanging in the CP, immediately scurried out to roust her squad. “On your feet…” The MA2 called. “West end- the Rebs are hitting over there too.”  Her troops all got up, guns and mag-bags only.  Two of her squad also had -203’s and that was going to be a help.

Meeting them outside, we began to beat feet down the road, taking care to bound between buildings as we made our way through the development.  Strykers watching the trees north of the strip kept a wary eyeball with their thermal sights in the CROWS mounts making the night a non-factor.  If the DCP got by the West, the guns on our IFVs would make it difficult for them…

Within four minutes, we got close to the OP, stopping between our western defensive line and the OP, right at the corner of Meals and Spring Garden Estates, and began to see tracers of the small firefight the OP was in. Within seconds of seeing them, some of Reed’s people started to engage, stopping to aim and snipe.  A matter of moments after initial engagement, we had a right harsh firefight… Our ten versus about four times that.

  Going to ground, I sighted in with my commandeered AK.  Through my night vision gear, I could see plenty of targets…. And the occasional glow of the DCP troops with their own gear.  Thankfully, it looked like only a few had them.  “Reed!” I called over her squad net. “Look for vision guys!”  At that, I took a shot and was rewarded with one such dropping, the round hitting center mass.
[Noted boss] was her snap reply as several of our better shots began to really pick out the opfor tech troops.

It made a difference here, that’s for sure. Measured fire in the dark took its toll and the attackers fell back some.  Then I heard the guns on the Strykers start shooting.  Shit… that meant that big stretch in the middle was now active.  And no crunchies like us to plug it… Western line was ok but not perfect or suited to proper block a North and West attack.  Well, at least not for a few more seconds; another squad was a help but who knew if we would be enough.  It’s like these guys just shat a fucking battalion….

I got up and moved to reposition for a stab at that DCP mob.  “MA2…  back in the bare center; bolster West Line.”
Reed, who I had come up on, answered right away as she changed mags. “We knew that was going to be a problem…”

“Yep,” was my retort. “Not like we had enough troops…”

“At least we got the carriers.”

“They might not be enough on this side…”

As we bounded back to plug the gap, I called the OP and told them to pull back before they got cut off.  After getting acknowledgement, I followed along behind Reed and half her brood while the other half collected the OP troops.

I then heard the sound of jet engines…  It would seem we had our overhead help again and I passed word for everyone to not get ahead of ourselves.  Last thing I wanted to be was a statistic as a result of a friendly fire incident.  After Reed’s radio man materialized near her and I, she listened to the company net then advised Fisk we were near.  When Reed indicated he wanted me on the line, I held out a hand.

  Taking over, I caught him up to speed on what was going on and our repositioning. He told me to expect danger close gun runs… and that he advised the flight leader of our sitrep too.  Asking me to handle the Air troops, he was going to check on availability of Arty of all things.

Switching to the proper channel for the air, I called up to them as Reed and company began to engage targets.  “Pitbull Flight, Delta 3 Callsign Archer.”

[Archer, Pitbull Lead,] It was that pilot from three hours ago.  [I understand you and Kingpin have business for us…]

“Pitbull, Archer.  Yes I do.  All targets NORTH of the strip and WEST of the hangars….  Friendlies are among the hangars and south of the strip.  Whatever Kingpin has is likely as much”

[Outstanding.  Pitbull Three and Four will be assisting Kingpin.  Your issue is second in the cue.] The business tones of the pilot were a comfort and that I had her again was rather nice.  Of all the times I did this before, I never got the same pilot twice.  I’d gotten same flight names before but never the same pilot.

Then again, there was more assets back then.

“Pitbull, Archer…  number two in the cue.  No known Anti-Air but I wouldn’t count on that being truth.”

[I never do, Archer.  Pitbull Two beginning run in forty seconds.  Do you have strobe?]

“Negative…  didn’t think we would need it,” I was truthful.  “Will deploy Blue Lenses…  I’ll be making a circle…”  At that, I pulled my flashlight and performed a wicked fast lens change.

[Receive, blue lens.]

After the fastest change in history, I called them back.  “Pitbull, Archer.  Blue Lens operational.  All fire north of us….” I said and tossed the light to one of the squad, who promptly shined it up.  “Deployed…”

The first runs were done in the area east of the strip and this time, the shots had more targets.  Both Pitbull pilots came screaming in staggered and shredded the attackers.  Even though they knew we had air, it seemed they weren’t ready.  Or they were biding time… as events proved in a minute.

Pitbull Two made its run on the north side, going east to west just after the South to North run of the other two fighters.  He did a good job hammering the DCP grunts and popping something armored over there.  It was when Lead came in that the DCP got its SAMS into play.

  Pitbull Lead came in low, almost daring them to shoot her down.  And the enemy took up the challenge.  Just as she started her run, a pair of SAMS rose in defiance as well as a wall of lead.  Lead jinked and popped flares as her run took her a hundred feet off the deck above their heads…. But it wasn’t enough.   As Pitbull Lead accelerated away, popping more flares, two more SAMS joined in and one managed to explode right under her engines.

And it was a good hit too, but not crippling.  She wasn’t making an airfield though- not trailing flames.

“PITBULL, ARCHER” I said a bit louder than I wanted.  “EJECT DAMNIT”

[It’s in the updated flight plan] came her response.

I watched the Eagle make a wide turn and come back this way, angling down towards the north side of the strip.  Aw jeeze….

[Archer, I hope someone is available to fetch me… Punching…]  AS that came across the coms, Lead ejected.  Her bird wavered some but not enough to matter even as another SAM streaked at it.

Reed and I looked at each other then at the falling fighter….  And ducked down when it crashed into the northwestern attackers like the flying bomb it was.  The fireball and flying debris carved through the DCP troops caught in it like a scythe thru wheat.  It was a mini-apocalypse over there… and added to by what looked like an arty fire mission.  Christ on a crutch, Fisk wasn’t kidding about getting Arty.  But I had another concern….

“Archer to any Pitbull element”

[Pitbull Two here…  Lead has positive chute and drifting west your position.  Appears to be landing near the middle school northwest of the field.]

“Understood, Two.  We’ll get her…”

[Archer, Pitbull Two.  We will let her know.  She should have a handheld operational shortly and looks like DCP is falling back.]

“Good to know.  Archer clear- returning control to Kingpin.”

The gun runs and the subsequent crash into their lines took the fight right out of the DCP attack.  The mortars we feared had not come into play as of yet but without someone to attack us, they were harassment.  Harassment that could kill us, of course… but right now, they weren’t in use.

Meanwhile Reed got with the squad from 2nd Platoon who was manning the Western side of our defenses to check on them while I contacted Fisk about going after the pilot right away.

[Ganic, you trying to be a hero?] He asked when I requested to go across the company net.

“Hero some kind of sub, right?” was my retort.  “She’s not far and there is a shitton of Indians between her and here. We don’t get her, they will.”

[I’m not saying no, Senior…  I just can’t spare more than a squad- DCP might be beat down after that thumping but I count on nothing.  You taught me that back in Harrisburg.]

“Captain, I can do it with a squad and a Stryker.” I said, knowing it was a dicey undertaking.  If we ran in to trouble, no one was coming for us…. But I wasn’t letting that pilot swing in the breeze.  “This is something I trained for, and my crew is pretty fast on the uptick.  We got this.”

A long pause. [Ok.  Do it.  I’ll let Pitbull flight know you are on your way.  If you need them call them.  I’m putting your other two squads on the line.  Gunny is in charge of them till you get back.]

“Ayeaye,” was my reply.

Turning to Reed and her squad- now two short because of light wounds (they’d live)- I asked the MA2 if she was ready to maybe get shot.

A snort.  “I’m here, Senior.  What more can I say?”

“Then let’s do this…”  I said as the Weapons Team Stryker rolled up.  We piled in and rolled out, hatches open.

  This was fucking crazy… but everything this night was so what was one more thing?

The Road to Harrisburg Eighteen – A Final Days based tale

The Cavalry arrived.

Just as it seemed like we needed to vacate once more and possibly leave someone behind, they arrived.  Never thought I’d be in a situation like that again…. And I hope never to be so again.

Captain Fisk managed to get Battalion to shake loose the rest of the company to come to us and for that I am glad to see.  When our Run and Gun managed to get here, the plan had been to eventually send out a platoon- Likely Roach with 1st– to us and help either hold or come back east.  But developments changed that idea.  Namely who we caught and the enhanced follow-on forces.

  That we seem to have caught Mobely was one thing.  Him or someone of import (and I hadn’t truly talked to either suit yet) gave us a leg on ending the DCP as a pseudo entity… or putting a knife in it with more to follow.  A counterattack was still possible, of course, but would be damn messy.  If we based ourselves around this airfield, holding here had potential.

  A full company with gun systems and heavier mortars…  We were here to stay unless T-72’s all of a sudden appeared.  Which would be damn insane but with everything that has happened so far, I would not be surprised.  Pissed… but not shocked.

As the cavalry rode in and took up station in spots at the airfield and began rounding up surrendering DCP troops, Fisk’s command vehicle rolled up to our house.  “Ganic,” He said as he opened his door.  “Where are they?”

I motioned him to enter the house that was now our CP.  “Right this way…” I said as I led him into the house.  “Gunny has been tasking troops to perform 360 and I have members of Weaps sitting on the pilot and our two Suit Types.  Haven’t tried questioning them yet- been a bit busy.  But they are separated and under guard.  Pilot has been very cooperative.  The other two…” I shook my head.

Fisk nodded.  “Well, not unexpected.”  He produced a sheet of paper with faces on it along with names.  “Here’s pictures of Mobely and those we know who were close to him last year.  Any ring a bell?”

Looking at the pictures, I scanned them and mentally compared to the faces of the two we had.  “Well…” I said as I indicated three faces, of which two were near enough to one of our boys.  “This one is the guy who tried to kill Josias.  The other two, kinda look like the other guy.”  The two pictures I indicated, one was of Mobely and the other was a name I had no clue.  Body double maybe?

Fisk grunted.  “Well, we will see.  Show me.”

I led the captain to the closet where I stuffed the wanna-be escapee.  Motioning the door guards aside, I drew my sidearm and opened the door just as he was attempting to crawl up into the ceiling.  “Fucker!  Oh no you don’t…”  Reaching out with my good hand, I grabbed a leg and hung on.  Fisk darted forward and grabbed another leg.  Between the both of us, we yanked his ass down and he managed to faceplant into the floor.

  Dropping his legs, I took a step back and fired once into the wall next to him.  This was a big No No…  Warning shots were frowned upon and especially against unarmed opponents… but I was through fucking around with this guy.  Bad enough he snapped the ziptie, which was gonna happen sooner or later.  But he WAS caught trying to escape.  A second time, really…

I probably should have shot him.  I’d have gotten in less trouble for it later….

Fisk was surprised by the gunshot, but it didn’t phase him, as he pulled his own pistol out.  “Just where did you think you were going, buddy?” He said.  “Roll over and show your hands….  NOW!”  The Captain was pissed.

The guy rolled over and put his hands up.  As I studied his face, Fisk gave him the hard look.  “I think you have the right guy, Senior Chief….” He said as several troops slung rifles and prepared to snatch the prisoner.

“Glad to hear,” I said.  “REED!”

From a room over.  “SENIOR?’

“Get people to check on BoBo 2 please. One tried to climb into the ceiling…”

“On It.”

I looked at Fisk who gave a nod.  “Jensen, Kinney…  snatch him.”  I directed the two grunts to the side to grab Mobely. “Take him out to the living room and sit his ass on a couch after you secure him again.  He tries to run, break his knee…”  I was through fooling around…

“Senior, you know they can’t break his knee,” Fisk commented as the two troops stepped forward to snatch up dude.
“Sir, its what I got right now; if I was still doing black ops, I’d have drugged his ass…” I retorted, letting my mouth run a bit.  “I don’t like traitors and have less patience for ones like this guy who sell everyone out… and think they are going to get away with it.”   The two troops had dude on his feet as I holstered my pistol.  “I look forward to the firing squad that awaits him… if we still do that.”

Fisk watched him be dragged away.  “If…  McCallister might re-institute it but that not for us to decide.”  The Captain was being reasonable- and he’s right.  Can’t help but hope, at least… “Now then…”  He was interrupted by Reed.

“Senior, Bobo Two is secure.  Tried to pop Bobbi in the mouth and get past her.”  PFC Bobbi Grace was a skinny black chick from South West Philly who was also an accomplished martial artist in Aikido.  “Got tossed into a wall for his efforts. Otherwise no problems.”

“That was his mistake, Reed.  Tell Grace I want the story later.”

“Ayeaye” Reed left to go back to her troops.

Fisk looked at me.  “Ganic…  did I give you all the special cases?”

I looked back at him.  “Seems that way sir.”

The next forty five minutes was spent securing the area with the reinforcements and preparing fighting positions.  Wounded were removed from buildings and treated (Specialist Jones was extracted and Doc said he’ll live- still wants him and Clarke evac’d out as soon as possible) with those able to man a fighting position doing so.  Whenever possible, an effort was made to keep the badly wounded comfortable.  Right now, it was two and a half dozen walking wounded.  Only a fool thinks that was going to last.

  If we really did have That Guy, there was going to be a dedicated effort to get him back when it was realized.  Unless there was another shitbag waiting in the wings.  There always was…

But until that was known, we prepare for nonsense.  Or Big Army to toss us a curveball….  Because, well… Big Army.

What we got… was a little bit of Nonsense, Good News/Bad News and a curve ball.

The Good News/Bad News….  Was that we DID have Mobely (which was pretty killer) but we didn’t have a means to extract him.  Yet.  Which was the Bad News.  We had to hold on to him and our badly wounded until the morning, when Medivac was possible.

  Command said it was too dangerous to send choppers and road extraction was deemed too dangerous at this time because the DCP had gotten its head from its Fourth Point of Contact now.  All efforts would be made though, and Fisk was told as soon as something was able to come get them, it would be sent.

 What the fuck, over?  I had visions of ODA 574’s pain and fate here… and immediately shook it from my mind.  Very different situation, very different enemy and help was a lot closer for us than for them.  But still…  As good as it was, I probably never should have read that book.  But I digress…

To be honest (and when mentioned this thought to Fisk, he agreed), I don’t think anyone thought we’d catch anyone important or meet any real opposition…. And were unprepared when we did both. Go figure…

  As a result, we were kinda stuck here, babysitting both a HVT and POWs.  Which was the Nonsense and the Curveball wrapped up in one.  We can hold in place- what we are trained to do.  But the rest?  To include the two dozen or so DCP Prisoners?  Come on…

Not long after the entire area around the Airport (to include the house on the north side), were secured and Strykers moved to positions to screen them (like into hangars), the prisoners were moved into a totally empty hangar then told to have a seat.  Tossing them all at least an MRE, some water was provided and the doors secured.  Bordering hangars were manned with a few riflemen each in case they tried to bust through a wall.

Sitting on this many DCP POW’s was a recipe for disaster… but at least we could mitigate a chunk of it.

Walking into Fisk’s scratch TOC just after midnight, I waited alongside Roach and McKay for other Orders.  Fisk himself was busy on the Battalion net getting updated information on a host of things… which judging from his facial expressions, might not be good still.

And it wasn’t.

Fisk got off the net and looked at us three platoon leaders.  “Gentlemen…  we got problems…”  He began and motioned over to the map of the general area he had hanging up.  “Real fast then you need to get to your troops and be ready.  Battalion just informed me the Other Side is aware we have their man.

  They managed to get some SIGINT that the DCP is prepping a push to come get him… Within the hour…. And we are still supposed to hold here.  Colonel said we are the thorn right now… and they are working on getting more across the river at those two crossing points,” He paused.  “Johnson thinks if we hold and let them beat themselves against our guns, they won’t be able to stop a push to come to us.  Intel thinks there is only a few hundred combatives in the area…”

Roach snorted.  “That’s crap.”

Fisk looked directly at the former Bee.  “No shit…  But even if true, not an easy trip.  TF York is stalled over by New Cumberland- seems DLA had stowed some Armor there as a favor to another agency.  MRAPs mostly.”

I groaned.  “For Fucks Sake… really?”

A nod from the Kingpin.  “Tell me about it… which means the MGS guys will have work.  They expect some of them to make their way here.”
McKay asked the next item which everyone was thinking on.  “What do we do with the POW’s?”

“What we been doing…  sit on them until relieved.”

The rest of the briefing was short after that.  Bn hoped to be to us by sunrise…  but WE needed to hold until then.  If the DCP was going to make a push, we had limited time….  Three platoons of Styker Infantry and a MGS platoon was potent as hell… but the MRAP was capable of shrugging off all we had but the couple few AT4 and the 105’s of the MGS.

 Sunrise was in roughly five to six hours…. And that attack was likely here within the hour- which meant more defenses needed doing up.