The Road to Harrisburg Seventeen – A Final Days Based Tale

After I spoke with Gunny, I could say I was pleased.  Very pleased…

She had gotten on the Company Net and raised Fisk to tell him that we appeared to have managed.  He in turn told her he was shaking loose 1st Platoon as well and if he could convince Battalion, a platoon of tanks since the Indiantown Gap thrust had made it to Harrisburg not long after we left.

  Their arrival allowed him to try and send after us.  There still were no airmobile assets, as they were tied up with something north of the city up by the Rockville Rail Bridge and over at Duncannon, even further north.  In any event, the presence of man-portable surface to air was something that would hinder use.  Daytime would be the earliest he knew we ‘d get it.   But Roach and crew would be here within the hour, hopefully.

 But the news of reinforcement on the way meant we had to hold, which was the downer part.  Or find something more defensive in nature as here was not exactly the best option.  The houses across the field were actually a much better option.  150 meters in the dark was a bitch but if they couldn’t see you, they couldn’t shoot you.  Always a plus in this environment.

The decision to move… wasn’t hard.  But I had to send like a third of my combat strength to secure a house or houses over there.  And the choices… were difficult and not wanting to dilute firepower was a thing.  But I also needed to stop wasting time- the Other Side was going to grow balls any minute and make moving moot.

“Fuck it…” I muttered and looked at Gunny.  “Abuela, take Reed’s squad and your brood across the way.  Those two condo rows in the middle there…  secure ‘em.  Better spot than here.  We can watch the bozos here alright;  Not enough building here for my liking.”

“Understood…  Jefe, those buildings aren’t much better.” She replied as she motioned her troops to head for the Uparmored vehicles. “It’s light construction…”

“I know… but they are a little more proof against bullets and there’s furniture to get in the way too,” I replied.  “Anything helps… and its more than here.”

A nod. “Ok.  Be ready to move when I call you, Jefe. We only get to do this once, Si?”

“Don’t have to tell me twice…”

At that, Gunny and her crews jumped back in their vehicles and hauled ass over to the aforementioned buildings while I had available hands get ourselves ready to un-ass.  Reed had half her squad beat feet across the strip to support Gunny.  It was dark and where they crossed, the low light plus cammies benefited them from being seen too easy, if at all.  If the other side had night vision, all bets were off.

Just then Li’s voice came over the comms. [Senior, the otherside wants a say again…]

Shit. I called back to her.  “See if you can keep them honest for another three minutes, Li.  We will be ready to scoot then.”

[Sure…] was her reply.  [Wish I had a Barret though.  They have light armor with them now.  Two BMP.]

  This night was getting even more fun.  “Noted.  Update me when they start to close.  Football field soonest.”


Turning to Josias, I made a decision that I was sure to catch shit about later.  “Joe, how many AT4 do you have?”

The Mennonite paused.  “Three. Why, may I ask?”

“Gimme two; I’m about to do something Gunny will give me shit over…” I replied.  “Bimp is inbound and you guys need the covering fire.  I also want you to take the prisoners…”

Josias nodded.  “I understand, Senior.  They will be watched like a hawk does a mouse before the stoop.” He said.  “And make sure you don’t miss.  Its my understanding amor does not like being shot at with anti tank….”

A chuckle; a Mennonite joking?  What was this world coming to?  “You think?”

A quick transfer of equipment and I told Johnson to go with McCade.  He had the space on his vehicle and would put himself with Gunny if something happened to my dumb ass.  Some shooting began as Li began to pick off a few and the MG on 3-6 opened up some.  The weapon troops also began to fire, a few controlled bursts to make the other side pause a bit.

I had both AT4’s to hand when I got to the building corner.  A glance to Reed as I prepped the launcher.  “MA2, pass the word.  The moment I fire this fucker, I want everyone moving.  Gunny will have the houses ready by the time you get there, if they aren’t ready now…”  As I said this, I head Gunny across the network indicated buildings taken.  “…whiiich they are now.”

  I could hear more shots coming from the advancing DCP troops…. Of which I think more than a few were actually Russian.  Lifting the launcher to my shoulder I waited a minute.  After a quick peek to see where that BMP was, I looked behind me to make sure backblast was clear.  It was then I noticed Reed had grabbed the other launcher.  “Goddamn it…”

“Not gonna let you have all the Fun, Senior…”  She said with a silly-ass grin as she opened the sights on the weapon.  “As you’ve said, don’t have your troops do anything you aren’t prepared to do- and you won’t get a second shot otherwise if you had to do it yourself.  So let’s Get to work- times wastin’…”

“Damnit…”  She used my own words on me.  Ah well.  Returning to the task at hand, I peeked one more time, saw where I needed to see…. And then at the count of three, ducked back out with the launcher up.  Acquired target… then fired.

The missile- more like a really big anti-armor grenade attached to a rocket, sped from the launcher and lit the night air with its exhaust as it cleared the tube.  Flying more or less true, the warhead impacted with the oncoming BMP and detonated, cleanly slicing into the machine’s armored front and killing the APC fully as its turret popped like a zit.

  The BMP behind him saw where we fired from and was just slewing its turret around when Reed’s rocket hit him.  This one was a little high but struck the vehicle turret, wrecking it like a tin can to a shotgun….

“Time to go!”  I called and we ran for the hatch of the Stryker.  Brand was ready for us and pausing to let the last of the Weapons team on board, he tooled over to the end of the building to get Li.  And she was there the moment he stopped.  Jumping on top of the Stryker, she was caught by one of Reed’s men and helped inside as Jake floored it.

The other Strykers were already across the runway and in positions to provide covering fire as we raced across the strip and open ground.  Jake did the smart thing and zig-zagged some…  which had the benefit of dodging an RPG.  And detriment of making me want to lose my dinner.  If I had eaten, of course…  which come to think of it, I hadn’t.

It was a good thing we left where we were.  The other side had mortars.  Well, light ones, judging by the small explosions on the building we departed from.  This was going to complicate matters… and really make for a long half hour or so.

If Roach got off quick.  Army Bureaucracy gotta be no different than Navy… though I’ve seen more Army officers willing to gamble if lives on the line.  And ours definitely were….

We dismounted behind the houses and Jake set the Stryker up for a quick evac.  The MP5 was now slung on my back and I had my AR to hand.  It was strictly a Semi Auto job I brought with me when I came down the mountain in March and unless you knew what to look for, it was hard to tell otherwise.  TF Lancaster let me keep it as it freed up a normal rifle for someone else… and it used the same rounds as everyone else.  In a pinch, I too could do the Designated Marksman thing ‘cause of my ACOG.  Not the best for it… but right now, beggars can’t be choosers.

I got inside and found Gunny, noting the light amount of troops.  “Where is everyone?” I asked as I looked at her quick reloading a magazine.

Jefe, I spread us out some.  In here, next door and the building behind us.  I have Li there with her rifle.  This way, she’s the last to leave if we have to move.  The second squad fire team is in the building in front of us.  I’d like one of the SAW’s up there too- they might need the fire power.”  Gunny was all business in describing where everyone was placed.  She knew her shit.  “They are the point of our stand… and well, we get to cover them if they gotta fall back.”

“Good deal.  We just gotta worry about their light mortars…  they lobbed a bunch at the last location…” I commented. “These buildings look strong enough to take some hits, but they are still going to be a problem.”

Si, they will… but here’s hoping where they shoot from can be seen.  Those little mortars have no range..”

“That’s a hope…”  I replied as I held up my rifle.  “I’ve something for when they do….  What’s ETA?”  Weapons’ fire was heard across the way where we were.  Seems like the DCP found their balls for sure.

“maybe thirty minutes by now.  Kingpin said he was sending help right away.” She replied.  “And everyone has been told to hold fire as long as possible other than Li.”

A grimace.  “Thirty minutes…  its gonna be a long half hour…”

And for the first five of it, it was relatively calm.  The DCP bombarded the last site several more times before sending what looked like about two platoons of troops to assault it.  For me and the rest, it was a study in how they moved and functioned….  And I confirmed my suspicions about who was out there.  Very Deliberate Movement and they looked like they were fairly competent.  So it was either Militia trained by Professionals (ie Ex-Army) or it was Little Green Men/Wagner Bois.

When a few minor explosions occurred in our old center defensive position, I heard Josias belly laugh from downstairs.  Seems like my Godly Squad Leader knew a thing or two about booby traps… and took the time to leave something behind.  I knew it would serve to make them cautious… and maybe a little mad.

And if they came at us mad, they’d make mistakes as anger clouds judgement.  Never Ever Fight Mad….  If you can help it.

[Senior, Li]  the twang of my Designated Marksman was heard in my ear.  [You said leadership is still a priority, right?]

Tripping my mic, I answered.  “Of course.  Leadership, heavy guns and those mortar assholes.  Why?”

[Got one who seems to have a pair of guns with him all the time.] She answered.  [permission to take the shot?]

“Li, your discretion.  We gotta hold here long as possible so any advantage…” I answered.  “Use your grey matter…  I trust you.”

Li was silent and about eight seconds later she called back.  [Messy shot…] She sounded green again.  [And they are currently scrambling, dragging him off.  I think he was important…]

“Sounds like it; good job.” I replied.  “Pick off a few more if you can.”

[Aye aye]

Not long after that, the other side began to advance across the runway.  When they got to about a football field away is when our rifles started firing.  And the DCP troops responded with 3 to 5 second rushes, shooting from the ground, a few smoke grenades….  these guys *were* trained.  Which made this a battle of professionals.

  To me, that was a plus… as I knew some of their playbook.  That they didn’t have anything heavier than light mortars… was a help too.  At least, that we knew of.

Moving back downstairs, I went straight to Gunny, who was next to Parsons.  He had his drone controller out and the wee thing was flying around outside.  Its picture was in the stereotypical Low Light black and White thermal…  which means we may not get the beastie back- that mode ate battery life.

But it showed a lovely picture of what was coming as well as what was going on across the way.

The DCP had rallied by the hangars after their aborted rush, the field was littered with dead or the dying- us in our prepared position had messed up their charge and there was no more running our way.  There was resistance from the strip area though- not everyone on the ground was dead or even wounded…  but of the thirty that had charged across, I had doubts more than ten were capable.  Kind of a slaughter… but they hadn’t set up MG’s to cover.  But they had easily another fifty or so men out of line of sight which was worrisome.

  That lack of MGs was being addressed though- on the video, we could see at least four men with RPKs setting up inside a couple of the Colts.  Not that the machines would stop a bullet but that whole Gotta See Me thing….  Thankfully, nothing heavier than those was seen… and of course, those damn Mortars, which had now started falling on our area.

  Parsons, as if he read my mind, sent his drone looking…. And found one, by the front offices.  Li might have a shot…

“Li…” I activated the platoon comms.  “Front building, near the corner.  Mortar Team”

[On it…] She answered.  [Shifting for the shot…]

On the video, the Mortar Team prepped and fired a round about every ten seconds…  which was the time it took Li to shift, acquire…. And in a friggin’ Hollywood stunt, put a round into the mortar ammo which one man was about to drop into the tube.  Not that it vaporized the team… but they were not going to be doing much of anything after the point-blank explosion.  One in a million shot… and it just bought us time.

“Wicked results, Li.  Good job.”

  Moving through the condo, I ducked through the hole in the wall into the end unit where one of my SAWs and a pair of rifles were covering the runway approach.  Ducking down, I brought my rifle up to scan with my scope…  the small areas of burning buildings being a help.  After informing the gunner that the RPKs were in the Colts, I lowered my weapon and began heading out when the next rush started.

Rounds smashed into windows and walls, causing everyone to duck.  And my men waited until the rushers got closer before shooting.  A Second Mortar started dropping rounds on our area and I ordered the Strykers to join the party…  we needed to crush this charge too and their guns would help.

  The streak of an RPG was seen and heard, the munition crashing into the roof of the end building I had just left.  Cursing, I reversed course and crawled back into the smoky and lightly burning end room, calling on the net for additional hands.  Reaching the spot where the SAW was, I noted the wounds on the gunner- head trauma and what looked like a neck wound.  A quick feel for a pulse got nothing and I moved to the next man, one of the handful of female troops I had.

  She was still there and still breathing… groaning in pain.  “Can you move?” I yelled as a couple of troops crawled into the room to help me.

  The wounded troop answered.  “I can….  Sit me up… so I can shoot…”  She managed as she flailed a bit to move.  I noticed her arm was at a shit angle and multiple punctures.  “Clarke…  we gotta get you out of here.”

“No…  I have… Russians to Shoot…”  Clarke gasped out.

  She wasn’t thinking straight… and I could not blame her as I was there once myself, except it was Taliban at the time…  Goddamnit.  “Clarke…  they will be there for later.  Right now, we gotta get you out,” I told her, thinking what I said was a variation on what was said to ME some eight years ago.

At this point, the other rifleman who been up here, Specialist Cat Jones, called out.  “Senior Chief…  get her out.  I’ll cover.”  Cat moved some of the rubble off him, grabbed his rifle and returned to a firing position.  He was a mess… but not as much as PFC Clarke.

The two troops who crawled in each grabbed under a shoulder and pulled Clarke out of the rubble and back towards the doorway.  Doc was already in the hall waiting to do his work.  While that happened, I brought my own rifle up and looked through the scope out across the way.  I wanted a little blood right now…

Scanning, my ACOG was not meant for night work but then, there was juuuuusssst enough ambient light from both the moon and weapons fire to figure where to shoot.  And I was lucky enough to see an RPG man lifting his weapon to send another our way.  “Bite me…” I snarled and shot.

  And it was nice to see I could still hit the broadside of a barn….  As my round slammed into the man’s chest, narrowly missing one of the rounds for the RPG stowed there.  Collapsing, the man accidentally shot the launcher and its round spiraled away from us and towards some of their own men on the field.  Its detonation making sure some of the downed troops were now truly dead.

[Senior!] Gunny’s voice was heard across the network.  [Time to leave!.  Front position already moved…]

Acknowledging her with a pair of clicks, I called over to Jones.  “Jones… Time to Go!”

He answered as he reloaded.  “I heard, Chief.  I ain’t going…”

“Shit… yes you are…”

“Senior…”  He replied as he continued to shoot.  “If I move, this piece of wood in my side will come out and I’ll bleed out,” A pause. “Lemme do the thing…”

My brain was fucking SCREAMING at all this and also was admiring the fucking pluck Jones had.  I hated leaving anyone behind and I now know how Phantom felt after that shitshow by Kandahar….  “Jones…  you didn’t say anything about being wounded. Are you fucking sure?”  It was a reasonable question- I already knew the answer as I’ve taken field medical courses… but I had to ask.

More aimed fire.  “Senior… I said nothin’ cause she was worse off than me.  And I was an EMT and I know how bad this is.  I might live through this as long as they don’t toss a grenade in here… but only if I don’t move much.”  More shots.  “She was the priority… “

  I knew he was right (which didn’t help) and I also knew the odds of him being alive when we got back, if we got back.  “Damnit Specialist…”  I cursed as I shoved a pair of mags at him.  “We’ll be back, no matter what.”

A weak laugh.  “I’m counting on it…”

I backed out of the damaged room, rage contained over leaving anyone behind.  No one did that… it was part of the Code; We Leave No One Behind.  No one in Uniform ever willingly broke it either- it usually took some serious shit to force it or a really dumb command to do so before it happened.  And well, that was something that pols never understood…. And likely never would.

  Doc was in the hall, Clarke evaced out already.  “Senior…”

I held up a hand.  “Robinson is dead; Jones can’t move and said he’d cover us….” I answered the unspoken question.  “Said he has a piece of wood in his side and he’d bleed out by the time we got him out.”

“Oh bullshit….”

“Doc…  man said he was an EMT and knows the deal,” I said. “I’m inclined to believe him and right now he’s covering us.”


“I know, Doc… I know…”

Calling over the net to Gunny as I moved, I informed her of what was going on.  She too had some choice words but she quickly contained them too.  After telling her I’d meet her at the door, I punctuated this by actually getting to said condo door.

  Johnson, who had been monitoring the Company Net, perked up.  “Delta One, Delta 3 Romeo,” I heard him say as he lifted a hand to his earpiece.  A few seconds and he turned to me.  “Senior!  Reinforcements are less than three out- they say they can see the tracers!”

  I glanced at my watch- had it really been a half hour?  And when I noted the time, I realized it not only had but was pushing thirty-five minutes.  Looking back to Johnson, I told him.  “Outstanding.  Let them know we’ll hold off on leaving.  But faster they get here…”

Johnson tossed a thumbs up and relayed the information.  After a few seconds, he spoke up.  “Delta 1 Actual said he wants his toy back…”

I laughed as did Gunny and immediately we moved everyone to the fallback building where Li was.  The next three minutes were going to be a long one hundred eighty seconds… but Roach was almost here with the Cavalry.  How much, didn’t know… but two platoons of troops was a damn sight better than one.

And we could secure things better for wounded evac too.  I had more than the two I physically saw… and they needed to be seen to.

It was then a bunch of shouting, and some pistol fire was heard from Josias’ currently open-in-the-rear Stryker.  That could only mean one thing….

Running over with my own rifle to hand, I looked in and saw Josias with a wrench in hand and one of the Suits free of his zipties.  He was sprawled on a troop seat, the Beretta sidearm my squad leader usually carried on the deck-plate and said Squad Leader bleeding from an apparent graze to his head.  The other suit was plastered against the side of the APC, covered by two of his squad.

“What the ever-loving fuck?”  I hollered as weapons fire resumed from our fallback positions, the Strykers that were not busy with this fuckery were engaging with their MGs.

Josias answered.  “It would appear our guests do not like our Hospitality, Senior Chief,” He pointed at the man on the troop seat, currently unconscious.  “That one tried to kill me while the other attempted to run.  Thankfully, the Lord provided me with the ability to prevent this one from getting a good shot.”

I looked at the wrench in his hand. “And a forgotten wrench handy enough to bean him with….” I said.  “Where is the Pilot?”  I then moved to the guy being covered by the two squaddies.

“Inside…”  Came Josias’ reply.

Shifting my rifle to my bad arm, I reached out with my good hand and snatched an Ear.  Dude yelped hard and tried to escape but failed as I had a death grip on it.  “Struggle and I fucking rip it off….” I snarled and frog marched him by the ear (and two rifles covering) into the building- the door being held open by a smirking Reed.

Moving dude inside, I practically shoved him into a closet, where he collapsed on a pile of clothes.  “Stay there… you come out, you will be shot.”  I said and slammed the door.  I still hadn’t questioned dude but after the Cav got here, there would be time.  Still wasn’t sure it was our boy… but miracles did happen.

Shit, this entire run so far was a damn miracle.

 The other one was dragged in by a pair of troopers Followed by Josias, blood streaming some down his face.  The two men had re-tied loose suit’s hands back up and they sat his ass in the corner.  Once seated they then POW’d him.  He wasn’t going anywhere.

“Get doc to look at that….”  I told Josias as a markedly large increase in weapons fire was heard outside…. To include an automatic grenade launcher and the sharp report of an MGS main gun.  Sweet Jesus…. That was a welcome sound.

It did make me wonder though – who did Roach bring with him?

The Road to Harrisburg Sixteen – A Final Days based tale

  17 miles.

  17 miles in the dark through a built-up area and rural farmland…  Not an ideal circumstance by any means… but it would have been worse if it was daytime.  Having been on convoy ops in Afghanistan, a run like this there would have been suicidal without twice the vehicles and more access to air support.  So, all things considered, this could have been a far worse situation.

  I still didn’t like it much.

  As we approached the area of the Mechanicsburg Naval site, those of us riding with the hatches open were given a serious light show as a series of fast movers, B-1’s I think, laid into the complex with a mix of Napalm and high explosive bombs.  At least four aircraft made a pass from east to west, dropping their payloads on the place followed by trio of other craft that looked like A-10’s doing the same thing.  That was a wicked combo… and glad it wasn’t me.

  I will say… if there was anyone looking to interfere with our ride, they just got something else to think on and in a big way.

  Needless to say, there was not much in the way of interference on the ride out- that air raid pretty much occupied anyone who might have noticed us that could have stopped us.  Or given us grief…  I was sure there would be problems the longer we took to get to Carlisle; no enemy government wants to let a raiding party running loose in its backfield.  And let’s be honest- we kinda looked the part.

  As we closed in on the Appalachian Trail parking on 641 outside of Carlisle, A series of HUMMV’s and trucks were coming the opposite way.  None of them were using any sort of lighting other than Black Out Drive, which meant nothing.  That there was six of them and two had TOW launchers… was something AND problematic.

  As we got closer, I could see through the night vision sights on the weapon station that the lead Hummer’s gunner was conferring with someone inside.  Which obviously meant to me they wasn’t us.  Then again, we were TOLD there was nothing out here that was ours.  Getting on the net, I was about to alert the lead squad, 3-1, when its weapon mount opened up on the oncoming utility vehicles.  It was joined by 3-3 and my own big gun.

  The M-2 Fifty Caliber machine gun is a very old weapon system.  And a very powerful one to boot.  Able to defeat light armor and tear up anything without, the weapons tore through the lead HMMV like it wasn’t there, a wayward round setting off the TOW missile inside its launcher.  Within seconds, the combined fire of three heavy machine guns decimated the front three DCP vehicles.  The back three attempted to re-direct their advance and return fire when the front of their column disappeared in a cloud of smoke and fire.

  In their stopping to return fire, it became apparent VERY fast all they had was M-60’s and that their stopping was a giant mistake.  As they attempted to lay into us, the disparity in weapons was made apparent in a matter of seconds as all three Strykers directed their weapons at them, with Gunny’s brood backing us with her fifty and 240’s.  To say it was a slaughter would be an understatement… but an unfortunately necessary one.  It had been decided when we left Harrisburg that there was no stopping if engaged.

  The mission was pretty much a Do Or Do Not; we succeed in getting there and getting our boy- or we hold on to dear life somewhere until relieved.  No in-between.  And may the Gods help anyone in our way.

  My merry Convoy of Murder Hobos kept going, leaving the six destroyed HMMV’s in our wake.  It was the first full engagement other than potshots since we left Harrisburg… and I had doubts it was the last.  What confused me was how little there even WAS outside of the west shore immediate area.  It was almost like what DCP troops there were had evaporated under pressure… realized they fucked up and went home…  Or simply went to ground for a guerilla campaign later.  Or they really were not that big a force to begin with.

  Personally, I hoped for the first option- that they said fuck this and went home.

  A quick look at a map confirmed where we were.  “3-1…  bang a left at Army Heritage; I’m thinking going behind that shopping center might be best.”

  [3-6, 3-1…  maybe.  Won’t know till we try…]

  Slowing down only for the turn, 3-1 led the column off 641 onto Army Heritage Drive and over the curb to the area behind the Target shopping complex.  Despite some abandoned vehicles back here, it was plenty wide for the Strykers and armored HMMVs to get through.  Barrelling along, the column kept moving, coming out and crossing 74 on to Westminster.  From here, it was follow the road around and to the airport….

  Of course, not so easy.

  To our right there was a Microtel hotel… and it apparently had served as some sort of barracks.  I say apparently, as several dozen people with rifles were near various trucks and vehicles when we went rolling by.
  And almost like we had rehearsed it, every vehicle in the column opened fire on them as the troops realized we were NOT from the DCP.  It was Run and Gun time once more…  our MG fire was fairly accurate as the heavy guns targeted their vehicles and the lighter 240’s the troops.  Effective combo really but we didn’t stick around to find out how well.  I was pretty sure we bought ourselves an additional five minutes or so from pursuit as they sorted themselves out.  Again, we weren’t waiting to see how long.

  Hauling ass to the strip, the column raced to the airfield and in among the smaller hangars.  Good thing too… as the aircraft on the strip and by the hangers were NOT Cessnas of any kind.

  Antonov Colts… an incredibly useful and old Soviet light utility aircraft, it was used the world over for light transport, commando ops and other esoteric uses like flying ambulances.  They were incredibly agile craft and able to nap-of-earth with a good pilot like a champ.  There was four of them on the sides of the airfield.  What was on the airfield though was one of its larger brothers, a AN-26 from the looks of it.  And it was being readied for flight judging by the fuel truck next to it.

  Time to change those plans….

  “All Squads… drop and engage.” I called out as my driver pulled up alongside one of the central buildings.  Li was already moving, climbing out onto the roof of the Stryker and leaping for a building roof.  A member of Reed’s squad who was riding with us, tossed her the infamous ballistic bag and a satchel of ammo.  My marksman expected to be doing a lot of shooting shorty… and some of Reed’s troops would serve as ground security.

  McCade and 3-1 engaged the crew around the -26 as he rolled up on it.  The ground crew all pretty much dropped and raised their hands as his Dismounts swarmed from the Stryker and secured them all.  Gunny and her three Up Armored drove along the front of the small hangars, stopping at what passed for an office.

  Josias and 3-3 raced for the far end of the hangars and with a burst here and there, put rounds into every plane he saw.  Afterward, he had his dismounts get out and check the buildings behind the aircraft parking area to be sure they were empty.  Right now, we weren’t planning on staying long- Carlisle Barracks was the next destination if nothing really good was here…. And company *was* coming but we were staying long enough to mess some shit up.  So it kinda paid to check stuff…   

  I dismounted after directing my driver to pull around to a point to give line of sight to our approach- the guys at that hotel would be along shortly, I was sure.  Reed and two others who also were in my Stryker got out and set up shop nearby, one producing a shotgun to pop a door lock.  At this point, I got a call from Gunny and she was a touch excited.

  [36, 35…  Get up over here quick.]

  Answering I queried.  “5, 6.  What’s wrong?”

  [We got him, I think…]

  Well, shut my mouth…  I looked over at Johnson and the others of Weapons team and we all beat feet to where Gunny was at the end of the row of small craft storage hangars.  “Guys… fan out when we get there.  Trouble’s coming.”

  “Aye Aye” chorus was heard as we raced to the building.  The SAW gunners and riflemen took up shop by some long-dead cars.  If there was one thing the EMP effect had been good for, it was ready cover… though the newish Yukon sitting here probably was not one of the dead…

  Getting to the front building, I ducked inside to find Gunny with a pilot and two suits on their knees with hands behind heads.  Two Russians were on the floor, bleeding out from what looked like a pair of M4 bursts, their AK 74s on the floor and nowhere near hands or prisoners.  “Well, what do we have here…”  I said lazily as I covered them with the MP-5 Roach had loaned me.  Switching to Russian, I looked at the pilot.  “*Comrade… you have come to the wrong neighborhood.*” I said as I pointed the submachine gun at him.

  The pilot eyes opened wide and a start, exclaimed.  “*Just a Pilot, I swear!!*”

  I nodded “*So you say.  For your motherland, if you do anything stupid, you will die.*” I semi-lied and then looked at the suits.  Back to English, I replied.  “As for you two… I do not believe you will be leaving the country if I can help it.”  I wasn’t sure who was who- didn’t even know if I even HAD Mobley.  But now was not the time to Q&A these guys.

  The two glowered at me, not even dignifying me with a snark response.  To be honest, this disappointed me but life improved when the pocket on one of them began to ring.  Gunny, who was searching them, removed the phone from the one man’s pocket and handed it to me.

  A quick glance at it showed a name (Viktor) along with an international number… and I smiled as I opened the phone and grunted once to see if whoever was on the other end would talk.  Miracle of miracles, it worked.  The voice on the other end was excited.  [Steven, you need to get off the ground- the Government troops are heading your direction…]

  From outside the first shots from the Strykers firing at oncoming vehicles was heard as I replied into the phone.  “Correction… they are Already Here.  Call me later maybe?”  I quick hung up the phone and pocketed it as I looked over to Gunny.  “Abuela, we need to fall back.  Center structures…. Li is overwatching.”  And likely being a right terror right now…. But I left that out.

  Gunny nodded.  “Of course, Jefe…”  She had finished searching pockets, producing a pair of wallets and an ID off the pilot.  “Grab and go…” She said to her riflemen who did just that and they came relatively willingly.  As if they had any choice- her guys had zip-tied them before I came in and at her motion, yanked them up and moved them outside to the Up Armoreds.  We followed and helped stow them in open seats.  Weapons Squad had started to open up on the approaching light-skinned vehicles when I ordered a fall back.

  McCade has left the crew tending the plane on the ground and zip tied POW style.  He wasn’t taking them… but leaving them in the field, they were going to be about as safe as they would with us, probably safer as their buddies were shooting at us and not them.

  While I was up front, Reed and Josias had directed their respective dismounts to start setting up defensive positions.  It was not likely we were leaving here without a fight and there was nothing but open ground for at least two hundred yards.  When evading, the idea is not to get shot… and well, open ground is bad for that.  That there was a few work benches and some metal tables…  they would do for now.  The assorted strykers maneuvered so their weapon systems had fields of fire.

  This had a good probability that this was going to be an Alamo…. But that depended on what was waiting for a comms call.

  Getting back to a position by the center buildings, I helped off load the prisoners into the hangar set up as a fighting position and set them down under guard.  The amount of weapons fire was increasing as I looked at Tech Sergeant Parsons.  “I need to call for some fireworks…”

  Parsons handed me his microphone.  “Already got them on-line, Senior.  Call sign for the flight is Pitbull Lead.”  Technically, normal troops could call but with Parsons part of us, I had wrangled a special radio for him in case of a rainy day.  And right now….

  Taking the device, I called into the mic.  “Pitbull Lead, Delta 3 6 Actual, Call Sign Archer…” I said, going back in time a little.  Using my old Team Name made this damn easier… at least for me; here’s hoping the guy on the other end both got it and wasn’t a dick.  “We can use some help here…”  At this point, more rifles had joined some of the MG’s in sending rounds out.

  [Archer, Pitbull Lead…  Send it.]  The Lady on the other end… sounded all business…. Reasonable, as giving ground support at night was a right bitch.

  “Pitbull, Archer.  All friendlies are holed up in the central hangers at the Carlisle Airfield.  We have minimum five zero un-friendlies looking to make us dead.  Requesting a gun run or three…”

  Silence.  [Archer, Pitbull…  I receive you have minimum 50 enemy and have you under fire.  Any anti air?]

  “Pitbull, none we know of.”  I was honest with her.  “Don’t mean there isn’t any.  We were a little too busy to ask ‘em about it.”  Goddamn pilots want everything…

  [Archer…  Understood.] Came back the amused response.  [Pitbull Flight will be in your AO in sixty seconds…  If you have strobe, get it going.]

  “Pitbull, strobe lighting up in ten seconds.  Gun Run to the EAST of the center hangars.”  I said and at that, Reed and one of her troopers ran for the Stryker to get it out and running.  “Make that thirty seconds.”

  [Understood… three zero seconds.]

  This was going to be a long thirty seconds….  I turned to Gunny and saw she was on the Company comms talking with someone.  McCade and Josias were not in the space at the moment which meant they were directing the Defense.  So I went to the doorway and peeked out in the general direction of the festivities.

  The sound of fast air inbound to one’s location is a sound one never forgets.  Of all my missions into Iraq and The Stans, my teams had to call for Tac Air six times.  Three of them involved Spooky and two had a loitering A-10 show up (And that is a brutal thing for the Bad Guys to get, lemme tell you) and once was a flight of F-16s on Dirt Duty.

  This is the first time I had Eagles for this work…

  The first of the F15’s screamed in low from the south and as advertised, its gun laid into the attacking troops with abandon.  As she passed, flares popped out as a matter of course and let some light on the area.  And I almost wish it hadn’t.  There was A LOT more than fifty out there…. A shit ton more- but less now with the gun run.

  The second Eagle did much the same about ten seconds after the first, laying down a nice curtain of lead.  And I couldn’t be happier.  If they had cluster, I’d be ecstatic… but beggars can’t be choosers.

  “Pitbull, Archer…. Beautiful work…” I called into the mic.  “Though there is more than I thought.”

  [Archer, Pitbull…  I noticed.  We’re going to swing around and see if we can’t whack some light armor coming your way too.]

  Fuck.  “Pitbull, all I can ask for.  Thanks for the warning- we’ll be ready in case you miss.”

  The Eagle flight, true to their word, came around again and the effect was much the same- lots of shots, many dead attackers… and this time, one SAM that came up from their midst.  It missed… but not by much.

  But the gun runs had the effect of breaking the attack and the attacking ground troops retreated.  The Eagles did blow up something though- and that was good for us.  The resulting flames back-lit some of the attackers which allowed for some semi-aimed fire… and ensuring the other side had to think twice.  Now, to find out what Gunny was on the horn for and maybe ask a question or three…

  I suspected I wasn’t going to be disappointed.

The Road to Harrisburg Fifteen – A Final Days based tale

  You know I should never ruminate on possibilities again.  I really shouldn’t…

  After getting Nicol’s radio gear, it got assigned out to a man from McCade’s squad, Specialist Ray Johnson (who has heard of all the jokes already, thank you very much) from a town over by Lancaster called Bird In Hand.  It had done ok after The Event, being there was little anyone was interested in there… according to him.  The Admin for the area was a godsend (“Senior, Wertz is doing a better job looking after folks than those BEFORE the EMP.  He needs to run for Guv when all this is sorted out…”) and he knew a thing or two about our Prick 150 radios and the 148’s we carried.

  Which was good.  If I was right, we were going to need his knowledge.

  Delta 3rd got sent across the river as directed- but not before I updated Fisk on what I was informed of by the Russian I questioned (well, he volunteered the info…).  Fisk just looked at me with a shake of the head and said he’d pass it up the Chain.  He agreed we likely weren’t going after it…. But I agreed with his assessment of You Never Know.

  So off we went to back up 1st Platoon.

  1st Platoon had set up shop in the Dockside Willies restaurant as a command post, with Roach disbursing his squads up to the Rail Bridge, another to the northern side of Willies and the Outfitter building.  His third squad was up on the ridge overlooking everything- it was this squad that got into it with some Militia sorts and a small team of Russians.  The Militia had one of them Sprut AT guns up here and they were working on trying to get an improved position set when the Russians showed up screaming about getting the gun into action.

  The Bubbas tried… but with no Night Vision gear, by the time they got their gun into place, 1st had already raced across the bridge.  The subsequent firefight as Roach’s men secured their side of the bridge had been telling- despite being outnumbered by the Bubba’s of the Militia, the troops of his platoon defeated them- and their Russian advisors, in detail.

  When I and 3rd showed up at his mini command post, Roach was sorting through who was where again and what had been captured.  And he had a silly smile on his face.  Looking up as I walked in, he greeted me.  “Welcome to the West Shore, Senior Chief.”

  “Good to be here, Lieutenant…” I replied.  “You look like the cat that ate himself a canary, and got away with it…”  He really did too..

  “Oh I think we dodged one here, Jim, and I’ll take it,” He replied.  “At some point, these guys are gonna figure it out.  Until then, I will absolutely take advantage.  They had an AT gun like what you faced south of here… and a few RPKs of all things.”  He shook his head.  “Had they been smarter, this would have been harder.”

  I blinked.  “What the hell?  If they had that, why were they not in place?” I asked.

  “They thought they had more time, I think.  When the bridge here didn’t blow,” Roach said as he pointed out back at our crossing point. “It confused the hell out of them.  Especially with Market Street being intact too.  Charlie Company is supposed to be crossing that shortly, if they haven’t already.”

I looked at Roach and chuckled.  “Heh…  explains why we’re here then.  Bet we get to move up the river and clear this side of the Bridge.”

  “Probably,” Roach popped a big wad of chew in his mouth.  “Seems like to me the entire Bn is gonna wind up over here before long.”

  “That will be helpful,” I said.  “We can’t be point men forever.”

  “Nope- though right now, you and 3rd are supposed to be pushing upriver shortly.”

  “And why wasn’t I told?” I asked.  I think I knew this answer and it was likely on me too.

  “Dunno,” A spit.  “If you were on the Company Net, maybe you’d have heard.”  A silly smile.  “Instead of doing commando shit.”

  A frown.  “Fisk was right there… and it was a good thing we did that commando shit,” I replied.  “They had a SF team set for execution.  Killed a few by the time we got in.”

 “Oh shit…” Roach looked up.  “That’s shitty…”

 “Yep.”  I did NOT mention I knew one of them.  As it was… I had developed a strange rep since Elizabethtown and really didn’t want to add to it.  Bad enough the Universe kept throwing shit at me…

  “Senior?” Johnson entered the building and called over to me.  “Captain Fisk calling for you.”

  I exchanged a look with Roach. “Bet you it’s a damn change…”

  “Not taking that bet…”


  Ooooh it was a mission change alright.  He handed that info up the chain and in a flash of brilliance (debatable, I assure you), Command sent back down the need to pursue it ASAP- with us if possible.  Fisk was to get 2nd over to back 1st and our merry band was to thunder run for that Airfield… in the Dark. 

   Alpha and Bravo companies were working the city moving north to link up with the forces coming from Indiantown Gap as TF Lebanon secured the center of the City.

  As the Island and Market Street bridges were now the ONLY crossings worth a damn for heavy stuff, 1st Bn of the 114th was going to secure both bridges.  They had the manpower so that only made sense.  Sending us. however, didn’t… unless they didn’t have any Air Mobile teams available.

  “… so Cap’n, you are telling me there is NO other assets available?”  I asked.

  Fisk, who had crossed over with 2nd, was standing next to me and my Stryker. “Ganic, I’m not happy about it either… I don’t think a platoon is enough, but the Colonel thinks you and 3rd are enough to get there… and stop ‘em.” He said.  “There is plenty of top cover right now- a full squadron of 15’s is in the air over this area and watching for ANYTHING flying…  With the DCP head man missing, loddy doddy every-damn-body is looking for him and trying to make sure he gets dragged in.  Your little bombshell gives us a lead.”  The company commander paused.  “Right now, Johnson wants someone hoofing it there as soon as possible.  And I got you and yours.”

  I could not fucking believe this shit.  While I wanted a crack at that mother fucker, I never expected to get one.  Especially not with a bunch of Reservists.  I mean, my guys and gals were damn good… but this was a bit much to ask of them- we were pushing 19 straight hours of ops (over twice that in the last 48) and downtime was a thing.

But if the Army wanted us to have downtime, they’d have issued it to us.  That and No Good Deed…

“Alright, Boss…” I said, eyes closed and pinching the bridge of my nose.  “Isn’t the first time in my career I got re-tasked.”  I opened my eyes and looked at him as I raised a hand to make a Circle motion.  “We are gonna need some extra ammo.  I absolutely guarantee he’s not gonna be defended by a handful of guys.  Do we have air assets?”

  Fisk pulled out a map of the area.  The man has some good assistants, lemme tell you… and he knew I wasn’t going to say no to this.  Either I’m that cocky or he has that much faith in me and 3rd.  Not an answer I want right now…  “Already thought of that.  Supply is fast tracking a few cases over here- truck should be arriving shortly along with a second doc and batteries.  Its going to be your three Strykers and the three Up-Armored.  Brigade said they will have Apache support available, and your FO will have the right freqs for the Eagles up there.”  He paused.  “It’s what’s Available until either York can get further up the road or Raven Rock can get assets to you.”

  Raven Rock? “They should have teams up here already, Cap.”

  “I know… and I said the same,” Fisk grimaced.  “Was told they were busy.”

  Shiiiit “Riiiiiiight….  Ok.  Let me brief my people and as soon as that truck gets here, we’ll take our stuff and get going.”  The aforementioned squad leaders all walked up as I said this.  “I figure I got five minutes.”

  Fisk folded up the map and handed it to me.  “18 miles, Jim.  You have an advantage as they won’t expect you coming.”

  “Boss, the last time I heard that was ten years ago,” I said as I took the map.  “And that was a shitshow then.”

  He nodded.  “Well… let’s hope it’s different this time?”



  I gave the lowdown to the squad leaders and Gunny fully- I wanted no unknowns among my leadership and if one of us ate it, someone was going to take the lead.  Everyone was shocked at our being tasked with this, even Gunny who’d seen some dumbshit in her career.  But to a person, everyone was on board.  No one wanted this shitbag to get away.  And the last three hours had seriously solidified the bonds of this platoon- if that was even possible to increase.

  Between Elizabethtown a week ago, the insanity that was Steelton and City Island, 3rd was very confident and trusted me to lead them.  Which was damn humbling; prior to all this, the most I’d been responsible for in combat was a dozen Seals.  And I now had 45 men and women.  I’d gotten them this far by luck and guile… and I’ve always been told the strength of the American Soldier was his (or her) ability to rise to the occasion.

  Time to see what was left in both departments I guess; self-doubts be damned.  As the Meme goes, I didn’t hear no bell.  We might be tired… but we ain’t done.

  The truck showed up and as Fisk said, it had our extra ammo, some extra mags for some folks and a few cases of MREs along with some five-gallon cans of water.  AS stuff got stowed, I got a small surprise handed to me from Roach when he walked up.

  “Hey Ganic…”  He called out as he held out a very familiar weapon towards me.  “You might want this.”

  I looked over at him as I got ready to climb into my Stryker and paused.  “Where in the hell did you find THAT?” I asked as I reached out to take the offered MP-5.

  “Took it off of one of the Bubba’s up the hill.” Roach replied with a grin as he handed over a half-dozen mags.  “Doofus forgot to take off the safety when Bagdanovich showed up on his doorstep with his squad.  He brought it down to me as a souvenir of sorts.  And well, I’m loaning it to you.”  The former Seabee turned Infantry Officer laid a hand on my good shoulder.  “Get some, Jim.  AS soon as we get relieved, I’m asking to go after you.  If only to get that back…”

  Setting the weapon and mags inside the rear hatch, I looked back at Roach.  “No worries, Jim.  I’m certain there will be plenty for you to do if you gotta come get our asses.”  Patting the hand on my shoulder, I continued.  “You just make sure they don’t get these bridges.  It’s a long ride through injun territory to another usable bridge.”

  A laugh.  “I’ll be sure.  Good luck, shipmate.”  He stepped away.

  “You too.”

  With that, I climbed in and put on a CVC to listen to the radio traffic before calling over the net.  “Delta Three… let’s do this.  Roll out…”

  It was roughly 17 miles to Carlise Airport.  Had to go by NSA Mechanicsburg… but I had a feeling that problem was being dealt with.  The plan was simple and very straight forward- run and gun all the way down 641 until we got close.  Anything that fired at us as we moved in the darkness would earn an unhealthy dose of lead from the fifty’s and the other MG’s of our vehicles as we sped by.  Given it was dark and all, I doubted there would be much in our way.  The Naval Support Activity complex was a potential monkey wrench- but only if we stopped.

  And we were not stopping.

The Road to Harrisburg Fourteen – A Final Days based Tale

  Time stands still… or slows the fuck down… when something momentous occurs.  Good or Bad (though in my experience, usually bad), the Universe has a way of making events move in a fashion so that you don’t miss them.

  And in this case, I nor Captain Fisk did.

  I heard Nicols yell out and turned just as she crashed into both Fisk and myself, hearing the shots.  I became hyper aware of what came next….

  … the shots striking the specialist in her Armor and an arm…

  … a trooper reaching out to snatch the gunman…. And throwing him bodily into a post like a rag doll….

  ….and time sped up.

  I caught my radioman and eased her to the ground, while Fisk drew his sidearm.  Not that he needed to- the troops of 2nd Platoon had our formerly-thought-dead Russian on the ground with two large grunts on his arms and a third with his rifle in the man’s gut.  Fisk was yelling not to kill the guy while I laid Nicols to the ground.

  “Hold Still, Nicols…” I said as I quick assessed where she was hit even as I went to pull the body armor.  The Specialist had been hit at the edge of her left chest plate and in her upper arm… and the arm was the concern.  Both wounds were bloody but the armor did slow the bullet.  IT was probably fragments that had her side bleeding.  The arm though….  Pulling her Trauma dressing from her armor pouch, I quickly as possible began to apply it and start the wrap.

  Two others got her armor apart and off so the side wound could be addressed.  Doc was yelled for and I could hear Fisk and McCoy getting everyone to check EVERY Russian again…  Doc showed up, his aide bag out and handy.  “GSW Upper left arm, bullet fragments on her left side, just forward of the medial on to her breast….” I said to him as I pulled out my knife.  I was gonna have to cut her shirt…

Nicols was still awake.   “Ohmygoddessthissucks….!” She snarled in pain as she tried to hold still.  “Mayherotinhell…” All things considered, she was doing a damn good job of holding still while we worked on her.

  Doc and I worked on her, a tourniquet applied above the arm wound.  After I cut away her blouse top, he began to assess the area of the fragment wounds.  “She had her armor on, right?” He asked as he began to pull some hemostatic dressings.

  “Yep…  looks like it clipped the edge of a plate and shattered,” I replied as I held pressure over three small rips in her flesh.  “Not the first time I’ve seen bullet fragment wounds. Just surprised the fabric didn’t slow it down more.”

  “Hot round?” Doc asked as he shifted my hand to began bandaging up Nicol’s side.  She was still hissing in pain and managing not to squirm.

  “Maybe,” I said as I removed my now bloody hand and backed off.  “You got this, Doc?”

  “Easy…” Was his reply.  “Your old friend a lot harder.  By the way… good work on the arm.”

  “Thanks…  Nicols, you are gonna be alright…” I said to her.  “ya damn Hero.”

  A pained laugh.  “Well…  it was the thing to do at the time, Senior…”  She got out.  “Don’t you go being crazy without me…”

  A chuckle as a litter team came up.  “Wouldn’t dream of it…”  Wiping my bloody hand on a uniform, I looked over at the Captain and before I said anything he pre-empted me.

  “Ganic, need you to go take charge of your people.  Doc’s got this and I know we are going to need a translator for Question and Answers…”  At this point, several of the 2nd Platoon troopers had the gunman trussed up and on his feet.  The man’s stomach wound was treated…  but they were going to walk his happy ass out.  I noted he was now sporting what looked like a shiner around his right eye.  He got off easy….

  “Aye aye, sir.”  I replied as I could hear more vehicles pulling up near our Strykers.

  “Good.  We need someone to go back up 1st Platoon on the other bank- Roach took his troops there knowing you’d be busy,” he said.  “I’ll get your radioman’s gear to you in a few minutes.”

  “Thanks…”  I replied to him and headed back up to Reed and everyone else.  As I got up on the concourse, McCade came over.

  “Senior…  the Russian you were speaking with wishes to provide you some information,” He said.  “Something about an otverstiye dlya bolta

  I raised my eyebrow at that.  “Oh really?”

  McCade nodded.  “Yeah.  Said with everything, he may as well try to avoid an American Gulag if he can…”

  A low chuckle.  “No gulag for him… and he’s gonna be separated anyway, being an officer.” I replied.    “Right now, I need a vollie for a radioman- Nicols got shot downstairs by one playing possum.”

  “Oh shit…”

  “Yeah…  he’s still alive and being dealt with.  I saw his uniform markings and he’s the GRU agent warned about.  Hopefully, they searched his ass…  last one I dealt with thought he was fucking James Bond…” I mused.  “Matter of fact, someone go tell his guards to REALLY search him.”

  McCade nodded.  “Sure thing, Senior.”  The sound of weapons fire drifted over from the West Side.  “Sounds like 1st found someone.”

  “Yup.  Get everyone to the rides, Cory.   I’ll go say a few words with our Russian and will be there in a few.”

  We parted, with me heading to where the MPs had the Russians being loaded into the back of a Five Ton.  All of them were getting hands bound as a precaution.  Smart.  Dangerous for all involved but smart none the less.

  I got there and after a quick confab with the NCO in charge, I walked over to one truck where the Senior Lieutenant was seated.  “*Where?*” I asked in Russian.  “*The Warrant was playing dead and hurt one of mine.*”  The unspoken warning was clear and the Russian Officer nodded in understanding.  “Someplace called Carlisle Barracks.  There is also a small plane there or so it was said.” He replied in English.  “The cowards will run there.”

  “I see,” I replied.  “*why tell me this?*”  I switched back to Russian- it was good practice for me.

  “*Because you didn’t kill us outright, despite reasons to do so,*” The Russian answered.  “*And perhaps, you seek an end to this madness.  You are an Older Warrior… and much like my Uncle, I suspect you despise War’s taste now.  He has said those who lost the taste are ones that can be reasoned with, if you are honest with them.*”

  A nod. “You would be right…” I lapsed back into English as I pondered his words.  “And your uncle is a wise man.  War is for the young… and those without care for the Future.”  I paused, realizing that with everything else, what was one more possible coincidence.  “I don’t suppose your uncle is a Vasily Ioseph Filitov?”

  The Russian blinked.  “It is.. and it would seem the Universe destined us to meet as I thought you looked like the American he has a picture of.  Said you were an Honest Man.”

  A low chuckle.  “It is a very small world,” I replied to him.  “When this is all over and you return home, let him know I wish him well.”

  A smile.  “I shall.”

  I stepped away from the POW truck as they finished up.  I didn’t worry for the Senior Lieutenant; the spy among them was being handled separately… and those around him, are only alive because of him… or so they may think.  It will buy him some favor and disinclination to be reported.  At least until they got back to anything with KGB ties.

  I now had some serious information, though.  And I needed to get it to someone that could act on it.  It wouldn’t be me or anyone with me, I was sure of that.  This was the kind of thing that required a bunch of Operators and some serious toys.  With everything else going on, I was pretty sure they had teams out there.  I mean, even though they scraped the barrel bottom to get Tiny out of retirement for EOD work, he had a special set of skills, loved blowing shit up and was one of the best in the Army when he was in.

  For this, just need a Kill Team to deal with it and not a bunch of Guardsmen led by a broke-dick fish out of water pretending he was thirty again for this tasking…


The Road to Harrisburg Thirteen – A Final Days based Tale

  The platoon as a whole beat mad feet across the parking lot when I called to move.  Those shots had me concerned and for good reason.  They reminded me of executions I was forced to witness and not allowed to interfere with…. And I was NOT having it this time.

  All three squads converged on the stadium buildings and were ready for most anything.  And the first person to see or spot something was Li, whose rifle spoke as she called into her comm unit.

  [Chief, two tangos right side Overhang] She called out [now one…]

  The squad on that side engaged the other as they came into sight.  McCade’s crew was sprinting now even as myself and MA2’s squad moved up to the building overlooking the kids railroad.  M4 and AK fire was now being exchanged, whoever was on the ball field building platforms realizing they had company now.  And they weren’t amateurs either.  Controlled fires along with some fire an maneuver.  Fun stuff.

  But my crew was up to the task.  After calling back to 2nd platoon to mind the road, I had my SAW gunners shift to the right some as it seemed like the defense was a bit tougher to crack.  Josias had a bit further to move to a means of getting up on the wall or access to the field.  He was going to need distraction… and we in the middle were it.

  Fire and Maneuver…  It’s a time-honored tactic for the Infantry and all those commando units that spawned from the earliest ones.  And it was training that was fairly fresh in everyone’s mind, given the house to house we just did.  The growing darkness wasn’t hurting either- though it made relying on night vision an issue.  What DIDN’T help was some of the explosions that happened in the distance AND behind us from the Turnpike bridge.  Made us jump…  but we would find out whats what later.

Right now, we had a firefight to conduct.

  In my ear, I could hear Fisk directing the wheeled assets to move faster to the island even as I was directing my squads on their flanking maneuvers.  Nicols was being a stellar radioman, practically on my hip as myself and 2nd Squad made it to the garages and stairs to the Concessions areas.  After a pause, I watched Reed quick plan her assault and on a count of three, rolled a frag down the walkway to where the wall ended.


  The grenade went off and her crew moved out and forward.  Around the same time, McCade and his men stormed the right-side stairs in a fusillade of lead.  3rd, as soon as they reached the outfield wall, went prone and began picking off whoever they could see shooting at 1st and 2nd.

  And within three minutes, the shooting slowed down immensely…. and a voice called out in Russian accented English.  “Parley?!”

  As the shooting had died down, I could hear the voice and bellowed out “CEASE FIRE”.  AS the last of my troops stopped shooting, I called out in my no longer that rusty Russian.  “*COMRADE….  ARE YOU SURRENDERING?  IT WOULD BE WISE IF YOU DO…*”

  The enemy’s reply had the sound of mild surprise in it as it answered back in Russian.  “*YES WE ARE.*”  He said.  “*OUR POSITION IS A BIT…. UNTENABLE. *”  The voice shifted to English.  “WE ARE A BIT…. FUCKED, AS YOU AMERICANS SAY…”

  I looked over at Nicols.  “Let Fisk know they are surrendering….”

  And almost like magic, a voice behind me.  “Fisk knows…” The captain said as he motioned 2nd Platoon to move to bolster all our positions.  Li had shown up with her rifle along side of him, the poker face of doom in place as she moved to get boosted onto the roof of the garages.


  A laugh was heard, both from among my own and from the Russian (I think he was at least) I was talking to.  “AGREED.  NO STUPID PRIZES WANTED…”

  At this point, I had crept up to where Reed was sitting at the corner, her rifle up and covering.  The remaining defenders came out of where they had been sitting and moved clearly into the open.  Some were wounded, obviously and when I thought they had gone far enough out into the open on the deck, I called out.  “OK… FAR ENOUGH.  EVERYONE TAKE A SEAT…”

  The one who obviously was the one speaking English passed the word to his men and they sat.  Gingerly in a few cases.  Reed, who could see McCade across the way, waved and his men moved up to take them from behind.  When 1st Squad had the prisoners secured, I advanced out with Reed and her troops.  The Captain had 2nd platoon go through all the down stairs areas to be sure no one was hiding as I walked over to the one I pegged as the speaker.

  “Wise choice…. Stárshiy leytenánt” I said as I identified his rank.  “Likely the wisest one you could make at this time.”

  He looked at me and nodded.  “Indeed, American.  And I hope a better fate awaits us than what would be otherwise.  Unfortunately, I am afraid you are going to be a bit upset…”  At those words, there were calls for a medic even as the Strykers began pulling up along with Gunny’s Up Armoreds.

  I looked back at the Russian.  “Tell me now…” I said calmly.  Oh I had a feeling….  And of course, it was worse than I thought.

  “Senior!”  A runner came up.  “Captain Fisk said to get you right away!”

  Shit. My first thought as I continued looking at the Soviet officer in front of me.  “Well?”

In Russian, he answered, assuming I had a good handle on my people and I was the only one who spoke his language.  “*The GRU Warrant was disposing of prisoners…. A commando group found and captured while defusing the bridges.*”

  Oh for fuck’s sake.  “*Comrade… you know that’s a war crime…*” I said, a touch of anger in my voice as I began to step away.

  “I do.  And I let him,” He answered in English.  “Which makes me an accomplice.”
  “Above my paygrade, Ivan…” I answered.  “Sharp watch, Reed….”


  Following the runner, I went out and down the stairs to where Fisk was with most of 2nd Platoon and the medics who were working on several American uniformed troops.  Walking up to the Captain, I braced myself for the bad news.  “All of them?”

  Fisk looked at me.  “Two are still alive…”  He answered.  “Execution shot on five and apparently our arrival caused misses on two.  That one-“ he pointed. “Was still awake when I got here.  Old guy like you, Senior.  Has a 10th Group Sapper patch.”

  There had been far too many coincidences so far this trip… and finding a old commando with a Tenth Special Forces patch and SAPPER qual was a bit much….  And of course, I needed to go look.

  And wished I didn’t.

  Seeing the medic working him, I walked up to look, waving off the trooper who tried to keep me away.  “He still awake Doc?” I asked as I got a look in the low light of the light being held over him to work.  And was instantly mad and sad all the same time.

  “He was…”  The medic answered.  “Until I gave him some pain management,” Doc was busy wrapping up the third GSW on the patient, this one on an arm when his patient woke up.

  “Small world, Archer” The patient croaked out.

 “What the ever-loving fuck, Tiny,” I said as I knelt down next to the patient as Doc gave orders for a litter.  “Why are you not on your pot farm in Colorado, you dumb fucker?”  I was bit emotional here… Master Sergeant Eric ‘Tiny’ Keith was about the last person I expected in the middle of all this.  The former Special Forces Demo man had gotten out in 2012 to start his pot farm in Colorado…  and last I heard, was loving life whacking thieves on his land.

A pained chuckle.  “Same reason you ain’t on your horse farm, dick…”  Tiny answered.  “Besides… Someone had to show ‘em how its done…”

  “You ass…” I replied.  “This is a young man’s game…”

  “Speak for yourself, Jim…” He said as the litter arrived.  “I…. can say… the same to you.”

  I reached out and took Tiny’s hand.  “Yeah yeah…” I replied.  “Us Turtles don’t know how to quit, do we?”

  A groan as he was lifted on the litter.  “No…. we don’t.”

  Doc motioned me away.  “Senior I gotta get him out of here.”

  “Gotcha doc…” I said to the medic.  Then I looked at Tiny.  “I want the story, you bastard… Next time I see you,  I’m buying.”  And I got a thumbs up in return as they moved him out of the ball field to the Strykers.  Whenever we met up again, it was going to be expensive- that fucker used to be able to outdrink a platoon on his own…

  Turning back to Fisk, I closed my eyes.  “Sir…. It’s a long story and not here, please.”

  Fisk gave me the Side Eye.  “I’ve no doubt.” He replied.  Then asked me a question I never expected to hear.  “So… you’re a Turtle?”

  I blinked and knee jerk responded.  “You bet your sweet ass I am,” A pause…  “Sir.”  I was NOT expecting Fisk to be a Turtle- or even have them still be around outside the one’s I knew.  Small fucking world…

  A laugh.  “Ah shit… was hoping I’d win a beer off you.”  Fisk replied.  “We should talk later….  About who that was.”

  “Sir, we get out of this, sure….”  I answered.  “I think the statute of limitations on that job have expired.  What were those explosions, by the way?”

  “The main bridges over the river.  These two and the Taylor just upriver are the only one’s still viable around here right now.”


  It was at this point, a supposedly dead Russian was discovered to not be so dead the hard way….  As he rose from where he lay with a pistol in hand and pointed at Me, Fisk and my ever-present Shadow, Nicols.  And he was noticed by Nicols just as the pistol lined up on us and she moved….


  Two shots rang out…

The Road to Harrisburg Twelve – A Final Days Based tale.

  Remember when I said I was sus as hell about this advance?

  Well…  as we got closer to the Route 83 Overpasses, the more paranoid I got. And almost as if I summoned the bastards, we began taking fire.  Initially, it came from the area near that XL Live music venue on South Cameron which we were advancing up.  Light rifle fire, nothing to write home about.  But enough to make me suspicious.

  Ordering MA2’s ride-less troops to move up through the woods on the west side of the road, I kept the Strykers scooting and returning fire some.  McCade and his dismounts off 3-1 worked their way forward into the car lot on the west side of Cameron.

  Bravo was working the waterline and getting much the same- light sniping from areas of felled trees and the like along the rail line and the Green Belt walkway.  Where NO ONE was getting shot at was from the Construction Vehicle yards off Sycamore.  This surprised me… but taking a page from my actions back in July over in East Pete, Bravo swarmed it with a full platoon of dismounts to clear it.

  From what I overheard, they found a squad of guys holed up in a back building- a bunch of Bubba’s who were re-thinking their side choice.

  However, that was there…. And this was here.

  We continued to take the sniping from some of the buildings by the concert venue up until McCade’s Stryker opened up with its fifty at the suspected hide.  No more shots came from there afterward and the dismounts moved up to check.

  This was turning into an old-fashioned Foot Slog, the kind our grand fathers had in War Two.  House to House and road to road.  It was Definitely Different than the types of engagements I was in for most of my career- 90 percent of which were direct action jobs or behind the lines stuff like in the shithole that was the Balkans.

  City fights were manpower intensive affairs and well, I wasn’t sure we had enough for this.  But we weren’t exactly going to be able to shit any additional troops so being smart was the order of the day.  And that meant…  slogging it.

  And clearing the occasional trouble spot on the way in.

  Our plan for the way in had morphed some since this morning.  We had been tasked initially for heading into the center of the city.  This changed as 1st Infantry made headway on its line of march on 283 and linked up with TF Lebanon- who by late morning had cleared its logjam at the old Bass Pro shop.  Our job as the 56th Stryker’s now was to advance up the east side of the Susquehanna and into the City.  Delta and Bravo’s goal was the bridges that crossed the river down by the City Hospital- and maybe sending some troops to City Island to poke around.

  Not a bad plan, all things considered.  Securing the lower bridges and the hospital served to cut an escape route- I wasn’t sure how fast the York troops were moving but at least we should be in position for cutting these crossings.  That limited access to the center the city some and if we were able to snatch the hospital, getting it up and running again should not be hard.  At least if the DCP folks had been using it.  One hoped they tried to help the locals still in the city when they took over.

  One hoped they didn’t use it like the Iraqi’s did the Kuwaiti Army facility back in the day.  I saw pictures of that… and well… it wasn’t pretty.  A buddy told me what had been found there when he was part of the group that liberated it.  And it was pretty bad.  It got cleaned up… and what the Kuwaitis did to collaborators there after it was cleaned up….

  Yeah.  Man’s inhumanity to man and all that.

  But dark thoughts to the side for the moment, the idea of taking the big hospital in the City wasn’t a bad one.  No matter who held the city, a medical facility close to the FEBA made sense.  And it was a big facility.

  My thoughts on the rest of things, were about the same though for some reason, I had a feeling City Island was going to be important.  Don’t know why… maybe its because I’ve read and seen far too many books or movies that had such things as Secret Lairs or as a prison of some sort.  And given how the Shite that proclaimed the DCP a thing, I was almost positive something stupid was going on there.  I mean, he modeled things on a very Eastern Block motif so it stood to reason that the other stereotypes might be in play too.

  And it was potentially a problem for anyone hitting the Capitol Complex.  So it needed to be cleared.  Who knew at this point who would be doing the work?

  In any event, that would likely happen tomorrow though- at the rate of advance right now, we’d be reaching the hospital maybe by nightfall.  With some tired troops too.   Might be a short distance to UPMC Harrisburg from here but that’s under normal conditions.  We were being cautious, and I expected fighting between here and there.


  I wasn’t disappointed too much in my estimates.  There was fighting- minor street skirmishes as small groups of Bubbas took potshots from houses or makeshift barricades.  We’d clear each instance- usually with some Ma Deuce work and a squad securing whoever wasn’t either gone or dead.  Once that was done and prisoners sent back, we’d move on to the next group of brave souls… with no major resistance met like was had in Steelton.  Don’t know if I was happy about this…  cause I’m a firm believer in the Other Shoe Theory.

  1st Bn of the 114th which was on our right, advanced up 19th Street and linked up with elements of the Big Red One which had blown through resistance Thunder Run style.  Between them and the Regular Army troops, the bulk of moving into the city from the Southeast and East fell to them and TF Lebanon.  Which meant we were shifting west towards the river.

  I didn’t mind it too much.  Alpha and Charlie Companies had been shaken loose and committed in a dedicated sweep to UPMC; the two companies having the orders to take it on over us and Bravo.  As they got closer, resistance increased- the hospital was only five blocks from the Capital Complex and it was expected to be heavy resistance in and around there.

  Us however, well, we would be getting that special duty….  City Island.

  By the time 1600 rolled around, Delta had been rejoined by its 2nd Platoon, giving Fisk almost a full company of troops to deal with the tasking he’d been assigned.  And Third Platoon was being given Point on this because…  well, because of me.  Damnit.

  “…  Senior, you and yours are going first in.  Higher wants the island secured before midnight and right now, Delta is the best asset they got to get there.  Bravo is being tasked with securing the shoreline to the Market Street Bridge.   Which means using the old rail and foot bridge to get there.  Don’t know if there is a stairwell down though so it’s gonna be ropes.” The captain explained when he caught up to me to explain what the mission tasking was.

  I looked at Fisk.  “Really?” 

  He smiled.  “Really.  Jim, of all the platoon sergeants I have, you have the experience with commando shit.  The Guard does train for some of it but nowhere near the level of knowledge you have.  And I can’t deny you have done wonders with your platoon.  And given how you are going to have to get in, I think you and yours are the best choice.”  He paused.  “I could say shut up and soldier…”

  Laid it on thick he did…  And it was something I did know how to do.  But was I going to be able to inspire these guys to rise to the task as they did in E-Town?  Fuck if I knew… and it’s not like I could say no anyway, could I?  “Sir…  Y’all have a far more inflated picture of us than I do.  And I’m a cocky bastard…” I replied with a chuckle.  “My guys ain’t Rangers or Seals but I got more than few Marines among us, so I think we’ll manage.  What’s the plan for when we get on the island?”

  Fisk pulled out a notepad.  “Once you and yours are in place and reconned to the vehicle access, your Strykers and such will join you- by then, Bravo should have the buildings around the bridge entrance secure to send them.” He said.  “If not, well, you guys get to do Grunt Stuff.  I’m sending you and 2nd Platoon on this.  1st will be following on behind your vehicles when the wheel bridge is open.  SP time for you guys is in forty-five minutes.”

  A sigh.  “alright… Let me get to it- there is some scratch harnesses to make,” I replied.  “We will be at the bridge on time.  Where you gonna be?”  The answer I got was not expected…

  “Following you with 2nd Platoon,” Fisk said.  “I was reminded I was an Infantry Officer recently… so I need to get my Captain Winters on…”

  I laughed at that last.  The Real-Life Captain Richard Winters was someone I met a while back at a World War 2 weekend some time ago… and there were few who didn’t know the Band of Brothers story.  To be honest, if the miniseries was even half right, that man was damn inspiring- even to us Seals.  So if Fisk was gonna try and channel that man… well, I wasn’t gonna say no to him being along.  Fisk was no hero which is a good thing.  “Well shit, sir…  Y’all need to come up front with us.”

  Fisk chuckled.  “Senior…  I would be a drag on you.  I’ve not messed with Ropes in a long time and I’d rather follow on than be the first group.  Something happens, I’m in a position to get support for you.”

  “No argument there, Sir.” At least the man was honest.  “Ok- let me get back to the platoon and get folks ready.  Time’s wasting.”

  Fisk waved a hand to mosey on and I scooted back to where the platoon was sitting at the River Front Quality Inn in the back lot.  Gunny and the others were going to love this.  MacKenzie not so much but I needed him to ride herd because abuela was going to want to go.


  Within a half hour, all of 3rd Platoon was ready.  Thankfully, I had more than a few within the platoon who knew how to make scratch-harnesses and we had a dozen made up from some of the ropes we carried.  Not everyone was going to use them, of course, but I was making all my weapon guys had them.  They had enough to carry and anything to assist getting down, they were using.

   Nicols was the surprising one in this project.  Turns out, she was a Free Climber as well as a mountaineer; when I said something about harnesses, she about lit up.  So, with her guidance and no few rolls of hundred-mile-an-hour tape, we were ready in no time.

  Round about 1700, Delta Third was ready to go and moved out on foot.  Once we got to the corner of the bridge by the hospital’s Brady Building, it was up the bank to the bridge and advancing at a jog for the island, some 800 feet away.  Being the Good Leader I was, I was up front with 1st Squad and would be the one tying off the rappel ropes.  The lack of cover bugged me… but with assurances our backs were secure, we only had to worry about the front.

  Li kept pace, her big gun ready.  So did the Weapons boys; running anywhere with SAWs was a pain.  But their ammo was spread out among the squads so at least they didn’t have that to worry over.  Once we were down on the island, different story.  But for now, they were golden. 

  As I got to the first drop point, McCade had his squad take up overwatch on the edge of the bridge.  Once the first set of ropes were set, I moved further down and secured the second set just as 2nd Squad joined us and took over Overwatch.

  McCade and his squad immediately went to the ropes and lowered themselves down, scattering to available cover as they landed- mostly dead cars remaining from the previous September.  Thankfully, there was very little on the southern side of the bridge to worry over except some brush and trees.  All but two of the marina slips at the island tip were empty which also meant there likely was no one hanging out there.

  Reed had her squad moving when Josias arrived with his boys and took over overwatch.  Within 60 seconds, her crew was down via the four descent ropes and moving to support McCade and his squad.  At this point, I moved to the ropes, re-slinging my rifle.  It had been some time since I did this stuff and I knew I had it cold.  Only concern I had was my shoulder- it had only been six days since I was in the MASH and admittedly, I did have some doubts on how well I was healing.  But those doubts were put to the side as the lead squad from 2nd Platoon showed up and took over for Josias and his men.

  I descended quick- perhaps too quick but why strain the shoulder too much… and as soon as I landed, I moved to join up with McCade; Li and Nicols were already up with him at this point.  As soon as I arrived next to the squad leader, he gave the order to plunge into the parking garage.  Fanning out, his troops moved at the ready, guns up and scanning.

  The first thing noticed was the two GAZ jeeps towards the far end of the ground floor.  They looked used but the sorta used one found with normal military equipment.  That right there was a small warning bell…  There had been reports of Russians supporting the DCP; I mean, we found Wagner Mercs but they were more than just Russians.  I didn’t recall them being found here with GAZ’s though.  Even back in July, the vehicles they had were mostly modern SUV’s that were still operational or brought in from west of the EMP affected areas.  No…. this was a wrinkle I didn’t like- a new variable, as it were.

  And while I didn’t mind such, finding them in the middle of an Op was always annoying as shit.

  Wisely, McCade passed the word to leave the things alone.  As much as curiosity wanted to look, practical caution took over.  For all we knew, they were VBED traps.  Moving past them, our line of advance paused as the other squads cleared the upper floors.   When the clear for them was given, I motioned Nicols over and relays back to 2nd what was found and to avoid.  Once acknowledged, everyone moved up, splitting to the sides of the lot when able and the center squad (us) moving forward among the abandoned vehicles.

  To be honest, it was kind of spooky, especially with the sun going down and the sounds of battle drifting over from the downtown.

  That, coupled with our alertness, really made some jump when the sound of light weapons fire came from the northern part of the island.  Measured shots too.  Execution shots….and I knew where I heard those before.

  “Third…  Move at the double.  Li, I need you and two security up on the roadbed and ready to pop a shitbag…” I ordered and the platoon moved.  What I was hearing…  could be nothing, could be something…  but last time I heard shots like those, there was a bunch of dead folks who didn’t need to be.  I knew we weren’t going to get there in time to save lives but I knew whoever was doing the shooting, wasn’t leaving.

  Not if we could help it.

The Road to Harrisburg Eleven – A Final Days based Tale

  After the split second of shock over 3-2’s demise at the hands of what could only be an A-T gun, I started rapidfiring initial orders across the radio.

  “CONTACT LINE OF MARCH! ANTI TANK AND POSSIBLE DEFENDERS AREA OF CAR LOT!” I called over the comms as my driver maneuvered out of Line of Sight.  “THIRD PLATOON, ADVANCE AND ENGAGE!” Not that I needed to say that but for some reason, it was fucking satisfying.  Now to see if the crew of 3-2 was even still alive.
  Strykers were nice rides…. But that was a big gun that hit them.  Switching channels, I called to Reed.  “3-2 Actual, 3-6…  can you get them out?”

  Her reply was laced with the sound of rifle fire.  [3-6, 3-2…  Gonna try but need some cover fire…  FUCK!]  Her expletive came as the anti tank gun struck the downed Stryker again, this time causing it to burst into flame along with the large shower of sparks that came with the strike.  Even I started cursing at that point. “Reed, get your people to cover.  Josias, get forward and see if you can flank around that furniture store.  McCade, get up the rail…”

  [36- 33…  we are moving.  Possible hostiles at the furniture building.  Currently receiving small arms fire]

  [36-31…  Made it to the corner of the lot along the rail.  Engaging.]

  MY people knew their jobs…  and so did 1st Platoon.  As soon as we got engaged, they moved up faster along the river and indicated they would be joining up with McCade and his squad for the assault on that strong point.

  My dismounts went and fanned out, with Li saying on top of the vehicle- there wasn’t much for her to get on the roof of nearby and the Stryker really was the best spot right now.  And apparently, she had line of sight to that Furniture Dealer from where we ducked off from the main road.

 “Senior…  I got eyes on that building in front of 3-3…”  She called out, her Texas drawl sounding a cross between bored and interested.  “I have five Subjects visible engaging Josias and company….”  A pause in her narrative as I heard her rifle bark once and then once more.  “Make that Four Subjects.”

  “Good Job; try and make it three…”

  “Will do Senior,” She replied and then her SR25 spoke again.  “Oh that was messy…”

  “Melon shot?” I asked.

  “I’ll vomit later, Senior…” She sounded a little green.

  “It doesn’t get easier, Li.”

  “I had a feeling you were gonna say that…”


  With Li’s snap shots, Josias and his squad overcame the remaining few defenders and swarmed around the building then used it to overwatch and fire at the car lot further down.  Each of his teams covering the advance of the other as they slipped along the row of buildings.  3-3’s Stryker was able to maneuver behind said buildings, keeping out of LoS of that Antitank gun.

But we needed to get into this fight and stop being wallflowers….

  “Jake, move us up some…  Li hang on” A chorus of AyeAye was heard as the Stryker moved from its oblique spot to a position more forward- it gave Li a different angle to work and put us in a better spot to advance as we needed to.

    The Weapons team moved forward along the road and into the houses on this side, clearing them as they went.  When we got over by this auto repair joint, I hopped out and with Nicols in tow, I worked on clearing it with my 249 gunner.

  After verifying the only thing in the building was rats, dust and Us along with the tools, I looked to advancing further up the road. Activating coms, I called to Gunny.  “3-5, 3-6…  Gunny can you get your brood up to Cameron Repair?”

  [3-6, 3-5; We can get there.  3-3 has the furniture place secure…]

  “Good deal.  The cars on the lot should screen you from that AT gun better than they would the strykers”

  [Agreed… we’ll be there in two minutes.]

  I motioned for the weapons team to move up.  This repair lot as well as the one next to it offered a lot of cover and concealment for advancing up the road.  And they also gave line of sight to that damn strong point where the Gun was.  Hopefully, 1st Platoon and 3-1 were dealing with it.  That it hadn’t spoken again since popping 3-2 a second time was good news.

  I did a quick check on 3-1 and 1st Platoon progress, listening in on their net and was happy with what I heard.

  1st Platoon, as soon as they joined up with McCade, came swarming out of the wood line while 31 covered their assault.  Turns out that the entire car lot building and yard was a strong point up and down its length.  But being close to the rails, it allowed the 1st platoon boys to get close and get inside.  Inside, it was a fight that would see a whole lotta violence as the bubbas-mixed-with-mercs fought like hell…. But were out gunned as there was liberal grenade use.  LIBERAL grenade use…

  It would explain why no more shots were fired at us, that for sure.

  Gunny showed up with her brood who had their pintle mounts pointed down the road- they’d have put rounds into the building being assaulted but held fire as the prospect of hitting one of ours was a bit high.

  Once she was in position, I and the weapon boys moved up on foot.  My new Driver, PFC Jake Brand, maneuvered up a little more so MacKenzie had a decent LoS to things…  but he had to stop at the back of the S and H shop.  No more ability to move up cross country…. So he quick charged out from in back and up the road to the fence line of the target building.  Nothing else to do except that and hope that gun stayed out of action.

  Li kept an eye down the road and on her flank.  Just cause 3-3 was clearing the buildings to our right didn’t mean she wasn’t gonna keep an eye that way.

  When I got word from McCade the building was now secure, I advanced up the road.  Josias had cleared all the way to the Substation and they were now holding position at the woodline just before the creek past the strong point building.  As everything consolidated, I started getting a better picture of what was going on and where we were.

  MA2 Reed was able to get over to the Stryker, which was not burning per-se but smoking some… to confirm the loss of her driver and her TC, Sergeant Charlie Hanson- a young man from King of Prussia who had been one of the last out of Kabul two years ago while he was on active duty.  To say MA2 was upset was an understatement…  but at this point, I suspect everyone was.

  There really had been no good reason to shoot the Stryker a second time…  and that act might have made her and her squad be out for blood.  Might- I’d have to watch them and chat later.  Last thing we need is blood lust to overcome sense.  Even if the anger was justified.  She had her squad follow along behind 3-3 and cover their march up the road to their eventual hold line.

  Bravo Company, who was working the river rail line, contacted us early on to advise they were heading for the Ames Facility and would be cutting across to make sure nothing was coming to reinforce our problem. By the time they got to their cutoff and over, the strong point had been neutralized… but they found a column of SUV’s coming down the road as they exited on to 230.  From what I found out when we consolidated later, the guys they intercepted were a mix of Wagner and more than a few Bubbas.

  To say the engagement between what was a full Stryker Company and a bunch of guys in jeeps…. Didn’t end well for the Jeep guys was an understatement.  They did get prisoners though, which was good.

  We did too.  Most of them wounded, though. Our attached Doc was working hard to treat; the Combat Lifesavers among the squads helping out as they could.  Delta 2nd Platoon rolled up along with some MP’s and a pair of Medic vehicles to work the scene.

  Those prisoners who could walk were rounded up and sat down in the open air of the lot.  I walked up on the collection as I was looking for McCade when I saw a familiar face among the lot.  And I sighed… I didn’t want to know why Tommy Gates was down here on the Wrong Side… but I had to know.  Going over to an MP, I pulled him aside.

  “Hey Sarge…” I said quietly.  “Got a minute?”

  The MP Sergeant looked at me.  “Yeah sure, Chief.  What’s up?”

  “That guy over there…”  I quick pointed.  “The one with the My Pillow guy face on the shirt… I know him.  Lemme talk to him?”

  The MP closed his eyes as Li walked up, cradling her rifle.  “Chief…  I can’t let you do that legally…” The MP sergeant said.

  “Have they been searched?”

  “They have….”  The MP already knew where I was going with this- I could hear it in his tone.

  “Good…  I need to spot question this guy.  He might know a thing or two on what’s up the road…. And the Intel Gits are gonna take their sweet time getting’ here,” I said.  “I lost a Stryker to a surprise and I wanna know what else might be in the way…”


  “Sarge, I know what I can get away with, trust me.  Not my first rodeo…” I replied and then pointed a thumb at Li.  “Specialist Li here can keep me honest if you’re worried I’mma jump the shark and trade hands with this guy.  I promise I won’t; I wanna keep my senior anchor.”

  The MP Sergeant sighed.  “Ok…  I’ll let you.  Take him over there towards the building.  Don’t leave my or any of my squad’s vision range, Ok?”

  I patted the MP’s shoulder.  “Oh don’t worry… like I said, I’m not about to lose my anchor or cause you grief.  And let’s be honest…  he’s gonna be afraid of his fellows when he returns.”  I smiled at that. 

  The MP let out a slight snort.  “Yeah he will.  Go… before I change my mind.”

  At that, I turned towards the collection of prisoners.  As I approached, I let Gunny know I was gonna be busy. “3-5, 3-6…  I’m gonna be busy for five.  Asking questions…”

  [3-6, 3-5.  Don’t be stupid,] Came the reply, sounding amused.  [You just got those…]

  “I know mom.  Five minutes.”

  [I will hold you to it,] She said.  [3-5 out.]

  Li stayed quiet as we walked up to the prisoners, and I must say, her pokerface was stellar.  She stopped about six feet from them as I went up to the one I knew.  “You there…  On your feet.” I said.  Wasn’t sure Tommy was gonna recognize me or how he’d respond if he did.

  Well, I saw recognition in his eyes when he looked up.  “What?” He asked.  “I got nothing to say to you or your chink bitch…”

  “Oh I’m sure you don’t, Tommy….  But I got somethings to say to you.” I said and reached out to grab an arm.  “Lemme help you up…”  As I did, he resisted some but I was expecting that and yanked up. Where the arm went, he followed.  Li had shifted her hold on her rifle and finger was next to the trigger.  Her face was still Cast-Iron Poker Face…. But I imagine if I let her, she had words for Tommy.  And I am certain they would not be polite.

  Applying pressure to the point on his arm, I frog-marched him over to the building and sat him on a bench that happened to be there.  “Now then, Thomas…  we are going to have a small chat.  We are in full view of the MP’s so you don’t have to worry about me putting a bullet between your eyes for Katie…” I said low so only we three could hear.  “I want to know a few items that I am certain you can answer…”

  “Fuck off Ganic…” Tommy replied.  “I ain’t got shit to say to you.”

  “Maybe… maybe not.”  I retorted.  Glancing at Li, I began.  “Li… this here is Thomas Allen Gates.  A wanna-be hero from Port Carbon Pennsylvania and someone I briefly had the displeasure of hanging with at the gun range in the Before Times…  he’s26; as I recall, he had a problem with Meth and likes to lay hands in the wrong way on his women, be they of age or not….  A Real Tough Guy, aren’t you Tommy?

   Very Right Wing in some of the worst ways…  Anti-Immigrant, despite his family being such two generations prior and has a strong distaste for anything not White.  Loves his guns, loves the Militia Movements- thought the Proud Boys were Awesome People…. And he thought there should have been more run over in Charlottesville.
  I know he hated the 44th and 46th Presidents with a passion.”

  Tommy snapped.  “You hated them too!”

  I squeezed his arm a little tighter, which elicited a little yelp of pain.  Gotta love pressure points…  “I didn’t like them, Tommy.  Both good men but I disagreed with them on some their stances but I didn’t hate them.  I also believe in the Rule of Law…. which is a big difference between you and I, Tommy, which is where I know you are going to go next.  Now shut up- I’m not done talking…”

  I looked back at Li.  “I do think he was also at that little party in January of ’21 down in DC…. But was smart enough not to be caught on camera.  So his being part of the Attempted Secession doesn’t surprise me too much.”

Looking back at Tommy, I continued.  “As I recall… he likes being in Control… and right now, he’s not.  I suspect he’s not liking the fact I know these details… and telling someone who falls into the Hated crowd and Female all about him.”  The look of daggers he was giving me told me that much…. And I smiled. “I also suspect he thinks he might get out of this without saying anything….”

  I continued.  “And I want to assure him, the only way he’s not spending a long time in a Federal Prison among the Gen Pop is going to be based on what he tells me right the fuck now.”  I gave a little more pressure on said arm point…. And watched as his arm started to turn a little blue before I let go.
  “And Tommy… I brought Li over here to be witness to my little Q and A session with you.  And to also give her opportunity to see what a Pennsy Redneck Shitbag looks like as compared to the Texan ones she grew up dealing with.  And Tommy… don’t even think about trying to run.  You know how good I am shooting…  she’s better.  And can do it blind drunk, which scares even me.”  Okay, that last part was likely a lie… but I was willing to bet she could shoot blindfolded.  Anyway….

  “So…  Tell me….  What’s up the Road a way and what can we expect in Harrisburg?” I asked.  “Because I am absolutely going to tell the MPs who and what you are… if I don’t get something actionable right now.  Military prisons are no different than Civilian ones, Tommy… just more final for guys like you.”

  At that last, ol’ Tommy caved.  He figured out I *did* know his past… and as I guessed, spilled his guts pretty quickly.  Pedophiles don’t live long in the Joint and he knew it.

  Seems like there was about what amounted to a few hundred mercenary troops in the Harrisburg area.  Many were at either the Farm Show complex or the Capitol Complex.  There was more out towards Mechanicsburg though he didn’t know how many more.  Regular fighters, probably three times the Merc Count easy in the Harrisburg area as far as he could tell.  Equipment wise, he knew about the BMP and BMD’s along with a handful of PT-76 light tanks- he saw those over at the Farm Complex…. As well as about thirty of the Sprut Anti-Tank guns.

  He heard there was a few armed helicopters, mostly a mix of armed civilian stuff and a few actual Milspec…. To include a pair of Hind’s and a quartet of re-militarized Cobras.  He also said he saw a pair of older Migs at the Capital airport last month.  They were old- a 29 and a 25…  but he couldn’t tell if they were armed.

  When I asked about Shermans… he laughed.  “Yah I saw those.  There is two.  Both Jumbo’s.  There is even a tank destroyer with them.  All somewhere in the city near the Civil War Museum.”

“Well that’s good to know, Tommy…  I think we’re done here,” I said.  “Do you agree, Miss Li?

She looked at me, again with the poker face- I had to remember never to play cards with her- and nodded.  “I do.”

  “Then let’s return Tommy to the rest of his friends…”  I replied and helped him up off the bench.  Guiding him back to the other prisoners, I saw that the vehicles to haul them off had arrived.  Placing him back in the spot I took him from, I smiled.  “Thank you for your candor, Tommy.  I’ll put a good word in for you…”

  Tommy, for his part, understood what I had just done and was speechless…  He started to sputter as I and Li walked away.

  When we were out of earshot of anyone, Li spoke.  “Senior…  Got two questions.”


  “Why didn’t you join them?” She asked. “And how did you know so much about him?”

  I had a feeling this question was coming- and I had an answer.  “Second answer first…  I knew what I did about him because I always identify troublemakers everywhere I go, in case I had to deal with them.  Maybe I’m just a busy body… but I like knowing.
    Tommy…. Would have been dealt with a while ago but he managed to disappear after his last girlfriend was found with injuries that nearly killed her,” I replied as we walked back towards the platoon.  “She was a little blonde thing who tended bar at one of the few places I allowed myself to drink….  Treated her like a daughter I did so what he did to her really had me pissed.  Probably good for him I didn’t catch him… Considering the circles he ran in, I’d have had a hard time explaining to the cops why I beat the shit out of six people… though the cops in Port Carbon might not have arrested me for it.  Even if one was the sperm donor to one of those I’d have had to beat up.”

  She pondered this.  “And the first?”  She really did sound curious as to this Relic’s thinking.

  “Country First, Li….  Country First,” I replied.  “And the Rule of Law.  I don’t gotta like those in charge to live here.  Don’t like them, vote them out.  Or at least try which is the way it’s supposed to work.  But do it right…  I didn’t jump ship because I do believe in this country and its constitution.  Don’t always like its leadership… but it’s my home and I will fight for it.  If I didn’t try to right the ship back to something I know works…  I’d not be able to look at myself in a mirror.”  I shrugged.  “I took an oath a long time ago and last I checked, it had no expiration date.”

  Li was quiet.  “Thanks for the answers, Senior.  And thanks for letting me be part of that Q and A.”

  “Thanks for coming and playing along…” I replied.  “And you were a check on me….  I STILL want to kill that fucker… but I’m better than that.  My doing it now would look way bad. And against the law…”  I looked over at my marksman.  “And besides, his fellow prisoners will do the job for me after what I said.  Vengeance doesn’t have to come from my hand for me to be satisfied…”

  She stopped and stared at me for three seconds then caught up, laughing as she did so.  “Senior, you’d have loved my Great Grand Uncle…”

The Road to Harrisburg Ten – A Final Days based Tale

  Ultimately, we got about five hours rest.  The fuelers showed up right at sunrise and after topping everyone off, Delta 3 and Delta 1 headed out along 230 and into High Spire.

  The trouble I was expecting here… didn’t materialize.  No really…  I expected more of a bit of trouble as we advanced.  And the closer to the Turnpike bridges we got, the more I got suspicious.  Granted, I was aware of the now three prong advance towards Harrisburg- with the rest of the 56th and elements of the First Infantry working their way along 283 and now 441 north to link with TF Lebanon.

  TF Lebanon had managed to get to the warehouse complexes and that monster cloverleaf near the Bass Pro Shop by Route 83 before they stalled.  Seems like them mighty bubbas who threw their lot in with Harrisburg were managing to slow things down for the Gov’ment troops.  Which is kinda a mis-representation of our ability.  I mean, if we wanted to steamroll them, we could.  But avoiding needless carnage was the watchword- it wasn’t the fault of anyone who got caught up in this mess… And I’m fairly sure Mistah and Missus Smith got no dog in this fight.  If they still lived in any of the houses along that route, of course.

  No…  going steamrolling through would not be good for any pacification efforts.  Which meant methodical advance.  And hunting anyone who takes a shot at you.

  Which is why I’ve been suspicious of our advance.  I mean…. This area was a mixed hotbed of Trump, Libertarian and a smattering of Biden sorts…  and well, the former Trump and Uber-Libertarian sorts would rebel against the government and think they knew better.  At least the Uber-Libertarians…  Donnie’s rabid fans are just anti-anyone but their boy.  I expect them to take up arms and back this- though being supported by Russians, one would think it might make them think twice.

  Might.  Can never tell with crazy and even among crazy, there were some special folks who’d ignore the truth staring them in the face when it does not support their vision of What Is… kinda like how the Church ignored all that evidence of Diddlers for the longest time.

  Just takes Power and Money… of which I ain’t got either.

 But yeah, as we got halfway through Steelton, pair of folks came out of a side street to flag us down.  Literally with a US Flag too..  “Delta 3 elements…  slow and hold,” I sent out over the net and got replies fairly quick.  “3-1, 3-6… cover me while I go talk to the nice folks. Everyone else, threatscan…”

[3-1 copies.]

  Climbing out of the stryker, I had a thought.  “Li, get your ass up on the roof of the bus.  If this is a set up, I expect you to throat at least one of them,” I said to our resident marksman.

  “Sure thing, Senior,” She replied and popped a roof hatch open.  Scrambling out, one the weapon guys handed up her rifle and that ballistic bag of hers.  Fairly quickly, she was set and ready…  which was good as I wasn’t waiting.

  Advancing up, I kept my rifle at the ready- this was when dumb shit happened…  and I was getting too old for Dumb Shit.  So of course, I’m out here…

  Walking forward, I kept my rifle in a ready state, not pointed at them but not pointed far away.  “How ya doing, folks…”

  The male of the pair spoke.  “Fine now…” He said.  “Though you might wanna be careful going forward, Sarge…”

  Sarge…  well, you did have to be closer to see it was a chief’s anchor when it was subdued.  “Caution is a watch word, Sir…  But something tells me there is something I really need to worry on…”  I back up my words with a smile, as the female of the couple watched the buildings around us.  She was packing a rifle but it was slung for this.

  “IEDs,” The woman said as she looked right at me.  “We were out for a walk yesterday and saw them up by the car wash over at the corner of Gibson planting something that wasn’t flowers.  I also heard there is a fortified position near the car dealer.  Maybe inside it…”  She stared a moment then looked at her mate.  “Honey, that’s a navy Chief.”
  The male looked back at her.  “I thought that looked odd; strange world,” he said then looked back at me.  “Yeah…  IED and strong points.  Like bad old days in Iraq, there Chief.  No telling how big the charge they got but you needed to know.”
 She continued. “And needed to know before you stumbled into them.”

 I nodded.  “Well thank you both…  Strong point at the dealer and possible IED at the car wash…”  I replied. “You two best get back to cover…”

  “Don’t have to tell us twice…  just kick them in the teeth for us, ok?  Not everyone around here, at least of what’s left…  like what is goin’ on.”

  “We can do this…” I replied as I activated the squad net and subvocalized.  “Nicols, pass the word- IED threats…”
  [Aye Aye, Senior]

  The couple waved at me.  “Be careful, Chief,” the male called out.  “Some of them ain’t Americans but I think you knew that.”

  “That we do, sir…” I replied.  “Take care.”  At that I backed up and then made my way back to the Stryker.  The couple headed back up the sidestreet they came out on as I got back to the door.  Opening it, I was met by MacKenzie with a map.

  “Ok…  I heard some of it,” he said. “Here’s Gibson so its up about three blocks.  The car lot, judging by sat pics, is just up the road from it- call it three hundred yards.”

  Hmmm “Ok, time to earn our pay again, guys.” I said and activated the comms for the platoon. “Squads…  Dismounts out and get ready to advance.  When we get close to corner of Gibson, there is supposed to be an IED in place.  And where there is one, there is more…”

  Inside of five minutes, we had a plan of advance.  Each of the squads would work a block over from main street, with 3-1 working the rail line up as Dismounts with their Stryker serving as fire support.  3-2 would be center with my Stryker in support and 3-3 would work the alleyway off the main drag.
  Delta 1 would be working the area between the rail line along the main road to the river.  It’s a fairly built up industrial area, with some areas of concern, judging from the sat view.  The Solar Farm was likely a mess… but the area was traversable.  It would get tighter the further along the river…. And likely a mess past the waste farm.  Which is roughly equal with our reported strong point.

  For us advancing up the main road, the moment the car wash came into view, I wanted a good set of eyes on it.  And if the charge was visible at ALL, either Li with her big gun or 3-2 with its Mk 19 would be setting it off.  It would be a dead giveaway, of course, but then if they didn’t know we were coming by now, they were in a Coma.

  And for the most part, our advance up the road was without incident.  As said place came into view, I had 3-2 stop about thirty yards out.  Li was still on the back deck of my vehicle, her bag serving as a rifle brace as I’ve seen her do before.  I called out to her through the back deck hatch.  “Li…  anything?”

  A long pause.  “Neg, Senior.  Nothing that sticks out…. Except by that abandoned car by the sign.  Could be something there, could be something over by the Variety shop too in that newspaper dispenser.  Money says the sign if they were digging.” Li, with her sharp eye and potent scope called out what she saw.  And I was gonna go with it.

 “Gotcha.”  I pondered this then called over the net.  “3-2, 3-6.  Reed…  who’s the better shot in your squad with your Mk19?” I knew that answer… but had to ask her anyway.

  [3-6, 3-2…  Charlie is good as me and he’s in the hatch.  Want him to take it or you want me back there?] She replied.  [I’m out with the dismounts.]

  “3-2, 3-6.. Have Charlie take it.  Need a 40 round at the base of that sign…  and maybe into that wreck.”

  [3-2 receives.  Twenty seconds]

  “Acknowledged.” I said then called over to Li.  “Anything past it you see?”

  “I can eyeball the lot… but I can’t see into the building from here really.  Looks like a side bay door is half open.  No idea if anything is in there,” She replied.

  “Gotcha…”  The mental timer on the shot hit zero as Stryker 3-2 popped off a single 40mm round at said site…. And was rewarded with a larger explosion than what one would have gotten with just a grenade.  As it was…  the metal cone that blasted out across the roadway told me that they were ready for actual tanks.  IEDs with penetrators were no fun…

  As the dust cleared and troops began to advance that a cannon shot was heard…. And the results impacted with the front end of 3-2 as it advanced, stopping it dead as the vehicle died in a minor shower of sparks.

The Road To Harrisburg Nine- a Final Days based Tale

 Fisk showed up and had me and the rest of the squad leaders of Delta gathered up in the 193rd Hangar for the quick brief.

  He, along with Battalion, didn’t think there was much in the airport jetway or building.  Thinking it was only used for maybe a way-station at best for inbound and out bound Third Party Air (aka Russian and or Chinese), TF command wanted it cleared.  We hadn’t taken any fire from there yet but if anyone was laying doggo, that’s a good place to do it.  So many places to hide and cause issues.

 Couldn’t bypass it… and let’s be honest- it’s a major airport that is going to be needed when shit gets settled.  Lancaster County is a nice strip but for the efforts to really move forward, a bigger field is going to be needed.  AS well as the convoy system from Jersey is going, can’t truck everything in.

  So clearing the fucker was falling to Delta 1 and 3 platoons.  Bravo Company was working the outside areas even now, making sure no watchers or surprises were sitting around.  Good on them, I guess.  Considering we dealt with the Air Threat (for now at least), they could go play in the mud….  Anyways, the plan was to get going by 2100 and have it cleared tonight.

 Who came up with this idea?

  So off we went but not before a backup Fifty was found for 3-3.  I took a good look at the borked gun and yeah, that weapon was toast.  Both the barrel and the upper receiver took a serious hit- with the barrel being slightly split at the end.  Pretty wild… and glad he wasn’t shooting at that moment.  May have made a bigger mess…  Thankfully, 1st Platoon had a spare that their platoon sergeant kept for emergencies.  It is gonna cost me a prized bottle of Glen Fiddich I have back in Lancaster… but worth it to get the gun back up.

  Li had moved up from her perch on top of the one hangar to the one closest to the jetway before I had her pulled.  I had a plan for her when we breached the end of the gate wing…  And when I explained how I was going to deploy her, she gave me the weirdest grin.
  “Like the gallery at the Kendall Fair, Senior.  I got this….” She said.  “And its indoors.  Even better…  Rain’s comin’, by the way.”

 You don’t know weird till you have a Chinese American chick with a Texas accent from hell and a rifle almost as big as her giving you weather news while being excited over a shooting position….

 Anyway, breaching went like clockwork- and it was a quiet one as some of the lower doors to the building were not closed all the way.  Almost like folks left in a hurry….  Which could be good AND bad.  Getting up inside, each of the squads moved like they ‘d been doing this a while…  which they hadn’t.  But for whatever reason, everyone was clicking… and I wasn’t complaining.

  As soon as we were on the main floor of the gateway, Li took up position in a spot that allowed clear-ish field of vision the entire way to the main airport building.  Once she was in position, I gave the squads freedom to move down the sides, bounding overwatch the whole way.

 Don’t get me wrong, it was pretty dark in here… but between goggle work and the occasional deployment of chemlights, the squads worked clearing everything to the main airport building.  I didn’t expect anything down this way but never hurt to be sure.  And watching from the back, I can only say they did a damn good job.  Makes me wonder if they were practicing on the side….

 It was when we got to the main building that indications of proper habitation was found.

 From the looks of things, the main building was used as a waystation for movement of people coming in by air and a consolidated storage space/shipping and receiving point.  More than a few small desks and benches, remains of both commercial and military (mostly foreign) rations boxes as well as scattered documents that looked like placards or shipping manifests.  Nothing really exotic… until a shout from the far side of the space.

  “Senior!”  MA2 called out and flashed a light in my direction as I and the rest of the weapons squad moved through the area.  “Over here!”

  As I got there, I looked over the office space she was in.  “What ’cha got, Reed?”

Poking at a pile of paperwork, she explained.  “Believe it or not, some shipping manifests.  In Russian too, from what it looks like.”  Picking up a couple, she handed them to me.  “Odd to leave behind, boss.”

Glancing over them, I wracked my brain a bit.  It has been a long time since I had to READ Russian and I was definitely rusty.  But its only rust.  “Yeah it is… unless they really did scramble out of here.  Finding all those recent pallets was a thing at the UPS building and down the end of the gateways so it’s possible,” I said as I looked over the documents…. And had a specific thing catch my eye.

 “76mm tank rounds?  125mm munitions…”  I read aloud and looked at Reed.  “I’ve a bad feeling, Reed.  Gather this stuff up and get it back to the Strykers.  I think this is something of an escalation…”

 “Right, Senior,” She replied and in turn had one of the squad start gathering papers as I left the room.

  It had been some time since I had bothered looking at anything other than small arms and I was now searching my memory.  76-millimeter tank rounds was an odd thing; no one used such a small round anymore to my knowledge.  That 125 though…  I knew there had been tanks that did and I remembered an Anti-tank gun that did too.  Funny weapon- it was a towed piece that could actually move itself.  Slowly… but it could get transformed into a travel config and motor along.  Had to transform back to shoot… but still, not needing a tow vehicle is a boon.

 And it had been a popular end-of-cold-war thing, too.  Considering we encountered a bunch of light soviet armor already, it kinda stood to reason there might be some other Soviet equipment lurking around…  like Anti-Tank guns.  RPGs were nice, but notoriously inaccurate past a hundred meters or so.  Ye Olde Fashioned Guns though…  Once you found them, they could die easy.  But they often got the first shot…

Ah fuck.

 Gunny came into view along with Nicols.  “Just the humans I want to see,” I said as I walked over to them.  “I need to call back to Kingpin.”

 “Nice to see you too, Jefe,“ Gunny replied even as Nicols handed me the handset.  “What did you find?”

 “Shipping manifests… well, MA2 found them.  They are in Russian and I don’t like what’s on them.”  I said.


 “Yeah, Oh…” I replied and then started calling in to higher…


 Needless to say, Kingpin and the rest of the Battalion was not thrilled with the news.  Not unexpected, I guessed… but the prospect of heavier weapons than RPGs was something of a game changer.  The prospect, however slim, of the DC-P having capable Anti-Armor munitions was a thing.  Given that the BMDs were a surprise a week ago, here’s hoping Intel had gotten better…

  Kingpin said he’d pass news higher up the food chain; even if they knew of them, having confirmation of at least ammo shipments would be important news for the Two Shop.  What they did with it would be anyone’s guess.

  After signing off with Company, I headed back over to where McCoy was.  “LT… your guys find anything in the parking garage?”

  “Nope… just some long abandoned cars.  Some even have windows,” He replied.  “The tower’s secure along with the hangars on the northwest side.  First Battalion found some odd stuff over there.”

  “Like what?” I asked.

  “Tank track.  A couple of pallets of them,“ McCoy replied with a laugh.  “One of their guys is a history buff and thinks they’re old Sherman tracks.  Crazy.”

  I laughed with him then stopped dead.  Naw….  “LT, it might not be that damn crazy; I need to go ask my history buffs to be sure though.  As for movement, We setting up camp here?  I haven’t been told and if First is screening us, this is as good as anywhere else.”

  “I’m thinking Fisk is gonna want to pause us- he never liked workin’ nights over at PENDOT so why be different here?” McCoy replied.  “And less chance of friendly fire right now if we do.”

  I grunted.  “If we do, I bet its only gonna be four hours or so.  I know I’d want to move before daylight.”

  “Not taking that bet, Senior Chief.  I’ll ask Fisk and get word to you.  See to your people.”

  “Aye Aye…”  I replied and headed back towards where Gunny was with McCade.  Motioning Gunny over, I relayed the contents of my confab with McCoy.  “…. So that’s where we sit.  Squad rotation as usual for watch?”

  She nodded.  “Si, I think so.  I’ll take first part once we get the wagons circled.  As nice as this place might be, I think with the strykers better plan.”

  “Agreed.”  I looked over at McCade.  “Any better ideas, Cory?”

  He shook his head.  “Nah.  Makes sense…. And better security for them too.  I think us staying at the breech point though is the best plan for that.  There’s space for all the vehicles… and when the Fuelers come in later, they can access us easy.”

  “Fuelers likely to tank up Bravo first,” I commented.  “but you never know.  Go and get folks rounded up- I want everyone to catch maximum down time; tomorrow is going to be stupid.  And McCade?”


  “Who’s the reenactor in your squad?” I asked.

  “Specialist Gallen.  Used to do Brit 8th Army stuff for the World War weekends in Reading.  Why?”

  “Ask him if he knows of any old Shermans in the area from the Before Times….” I said.  “Reed found a shipping manifest with 76mm tank rounds on it and pallets of tank tracks got found the other end of the airport.”

  A low whistle from McCade.  “Well shit, Senior… I can answer that one.  There are a few owners of Sherman’s in Pennsy and they used to have a 76 gun.  Mid to late War Two stuff. Damn odd for it to be on a manifest though.”

  A nod.  “Fuck ya it is… and the level of odd around here is a bit deep.”

  “You ain’t kidding, Senior.  I’ll check with Gallen though- he’d know better than I.”

  “Alright… let me know or send him to me.  I’m gonna go wrangle MA2 and her brood.  1st has the inside for now.”

  Gunny held up a hand.  “Jim, I’ll go get her and her squad.  You go get the platoon wagons circled.  And go eat.  I know you haven’t…”  God-damn-Mom-tone… and of course, she’s right.

  “Alright Moooooooommmm….”  I replied which got the chuckle I was looking for.  Looking back at McCade and the rest of the weapons squad with me, I motioned back toward where we came in.  “Let’s get this done…”

  As we walked back towards where the entry point was, I could not help but think of the weirdness of possibly fighting Sherman tanks.  I mean, we’ve gone back in time some with the use of Dragoons and the air power that’s been seen was Viet Nam era…  why should we not see world war two shit?

  I swear…  if you had said two years ago I’d be in uniform and dealing with these problems, I’d have told you to lay off the shrooms.  Just sayin’.

The Road to Harrisburg Eight- A Final Days based Tale

 With as quick as the Rt 230 bridge was taken and Bravo’s smash effort on the 441 crossing, higher was pleasantly surprised.   Perhaps elated- resistance had been stiffer elsewhere and thinking Delta 3’s excitement of five days past may have been a bigger deal than thought.

 Or that’s how I’m reading it.  Maybe I’m an optimist.

 In any event, Bravo consolidated itself and word passed they were going to work the river edge while First Bn’s boys- Alpha 1/112th, worked their way through the entirety of Middletown north of 230 towards the college.  Good plan really…  if there was bad guys to be found, their staging at the college wasn’t a bad idea.  Plenty of space to spread out if not out here opposing us.  The Dorms would be out along 230 though… and on Delta’s line of march towards the airport.

  Granted, Bravo would likely get there first but given it was more or less a straight run to the entry roads for us, we should get there as they do.  And as it turned out, it was a damn good thing.

 The order came down to advance and everyone did so, the late afternoon sun shining down on all us poor bastards.  Delta 3 worked its way down Water Street while Delta 1 worked the main drag.  Delta 2 remained at the engineer site to both provide security and look for folks.  Civil Affairs was due to show up sometime in the next twelve hours and well, they had work to do.  It was enough the MP’s had prisoners from both bridge fights and would be following along when the tail caught up.

 As both Deltas reached the shopping plaza before airport drive, the thing I’d been waiting for showed up.  Things really… 

 3-1 saw them first, a pair of helicopters coming in low out of the sun.  Smart buggers too, doing that.  And the warning went out over the comms as they came closer.  The one thing we didn’t know is if they were armed- but if they weren’t, why were they coming towards us?  That question was rendered moot when MG rounds began impacting around McCade’s stryker.

 “ALL DELTA ELEMENTS, AIR ATTACK DIRECTION OF THE AIRPORT” I called out over the net as I swung the Fifty around.  “ENGAGE AS ABLE”

 Fucking brilliant, this stunt.  Where they were two hours ago, who knows… but that would have been messy for us had they shown.  The birds coming towards us looked like a pair of Bell’s, nothing heavy armed but that meant nothing.  Even a machine gun can ruin your day and for all I knew, these two were either armed to the teeth or a distraction.

 Some distraction.

[3-1 engaging]

[3-2 evading] Reed, with a Mk 19, was not hitting these things…  and wisely had her Stryker go evasive.

[3-3 engaging]

[3-5 firing…]  Gunny’s voice came over the network, the three Up Armored Humvees with their mix of 240’s and a Fifty adding their weapons to the mix.

 Delta 1’s guns also joined the fray.  Hitting Arial targets from a moving vehicle was not the easiest thing to do but if you put enough lead in the air, something is bound to get hit.  And something did…  One of the attacking aircraft strayed into the guns of Delta 1’s quartet of strykers and soon started smoking and losing altitude in a hurry.  AS the other one scooted away, what their distraction was for became known fairly fast as a pair of explosions rocked the area near Bravo’s’ drive.

 Spinning my gun that way, I saw what ONLY could be a goddamn mirage.  Of course, it wasn’t…

 It looked like a Huey Cobra with functioning rockets on it and a chin gun. If so, that was going to suck.  A Cobra’s 20mm chain gun would make a right mess of Delta if it came this way.  Bravo had 30 mike gun systems and should be able to hammer it as long as it stayed over there…  But if it noticed us, that was going to suck.  Granted, our Ma Deuces could hurt it but still had to hit it.  And until we did, the potential for a sucky situation was there.

 And it would suck bad.  Especially if there was two of them.  Because if there was one…

 Best bet…  get in among the buildings behind us or next to the Airport.  Since I was a forward-thinking fella, there really was only one choice.  Making sure I had the company net, I sent out-

  “DELTA Three Six TO ALL DELTA ELEMENTS; GET TO THE AIRPORT OUTBUILDINGS!!  TUCK IN AND DISMOUNT”  Our chance was to charge for the airport out-buildings and use them as cover-slash-concealment, forcing the choppers to come into our fire lanes.  Drawback to that, of course, was we would be in theirs.

Best plan I got right now though…. And it would have to work.

 All Delta Elements, both my 3rd Platoon AND the boys of 1st, hauled ass over the rail tracks between us on 230 and the development and airport outbuildings.  3-5 had to go for the bridge- the uparmored hummers not being the most agile crossing rail tracks….  And Delta 1’s guns covered them as they advanced towards the warehouses on the other side of the bridge.  Good thing too… as the choppers dodging First platoon’s guns was why Gunny and her brood made it across that damn bridge.

 Not for lack of trying on the enemy’s part, either.

 3-5 got off the bridge and tucked up over by this church at the end of the crossing point while 3-1 scooted up under said bridge and over by a water tower/warehouse complex where 1st platoon was going.  3-2 and 3 got in among the apartments on Wilson Street, their guns covering various sectors and trying to predict where the air attack was coming next.

 While that was going on, I got word from Delta 1t that the guys from First Bn dropped that other Bell helo.  Which was good news- it meant we now only has the real gunship and maybe a brother- if I was right, to deal with.

 And for the second time this little trip, I was.

 [Delta Three Six, Delta One Six] came across the company net.

 “One Six, Three Six…  send it.”

 [Ganic, one of my out riders saw a cobra up the far end near the Tower.  I don’t think it’s the one we saw over here.  That guy I think is laying low by the old Guard hangars.]

 “Agree, McCoy…  Those birds are fast and they work as pairs…” I replied.

 [Stay frosty, Three Six..  this is going to get stupid]

 “Don’t have to tell me twice,” I shot back.  “We are gonna try for those buildings now.  Cover me and Let Bravo know so they don’t shoot us?”

[Will do.  One Six out.]

 Changing channels, I called to the platoon.  “Delta three elements…  head for those hangars near the end of the runway.  3, 1, 2, 6, 5 order of march.  Keep eyes open- that Cobra is around and apparently has a friend down the way.”

 A chorus of acknowledgements responded, and the squads moved out.  With 1st platoon on Overwatch, I was certain nothing was coming from the far side of the airport.  It was this near side though… Avoiding the Long Term Parking lots, we advanced up Grant and Lincoln streets and hopped on to the access road that showed on the map.  Trucking up the road, Delta Three was pretty alert for almost anything…. Good thing too… as Mister Cobra the First waltzed into our line of sight at ten feet above the deck.

[CONTACT- LINE OF MARCH!] Josias’ voice came over the channel as he went nose to flank with the attack helicopter. Both 3-2 and 3-1 broke to the flanks and opened up- 3-2’s Mk 19 now having reasons to engage an in the air target…  and the results were spectacular.

 3-3’s fifty did the initial damage, the light armor on the Cobra initially resisting the hits from the heavy machine gun they had.  3-1’s gun added to it’s misery…. But that isn’t what killed it, though it would have.  MA2, being the whiz with the Mk19 as she was, had been in the TC hatch and planted three grenades into the attack chopper’s hide.

 And the results were pretty damn spectacular.

 The Cobra exploded in a brutal fireball twenty meters in front of 3-3, the concussion of which was felt clear back to us.  And with that came some bad news.

 [3-6, 3-3… Status update] Josias’ voice came over the radio.

 “This is Six, send it” I replied as I pulled a notepad, figuring casualties.

 [Senior… our gun’s down.  Frag got it.  No casualties.] The dry voice of the Mennonite Squad Leader actually sounded…. Amused?  [The Lord provided…]

 I blinked.  “3-3, 3-6.  Copy no cas, gun system down.” I replied.  “Fall back behind me.  We’ll deal with it when we clear the hangars.”

 [3-3 copies.]  And they pulled off to the side to let One take lead.  As soon as 3-1 took point, they gunned it for the old Guard hangars, 3-2 in pursuit.  The rest of us played catch up…. As we didn’t want to be delayed long here…  if that other bird came calling, we wanted to have some space around us.

 As it turned out, we didn’t need to worry.  That other Cobra had been working up the rail to take 1st in the side when First Bn’s MGS Stykers caught it.  If you thought a couple of 40mm rounds were rough, a 105mm HE round was far, far, worse.

 Pulling up to the hangars, the platoon dismounts went to work.  For this, I stayed with the vehicle, letting MacKenzie take the Weapons team in to cover the squads.  Specialist Li, with her long rifle, found a way onto a roof of a hangars and located a spot to overwatch the front.  In the descending darkness, she was not going to be seen easy… and depending on what we found here, this was going to be our laager point.  After all, it was getting dark and only a fool goes trolling in a built-up area with vehicles in the Dark.  And High Spire (the next town) was built up.

 As much as I wanted to get to the tower, I wanted known backup.  Or to let someone else do it.  I had a sick Stryker and we needed to figure out where we were going next.

 Getting on the Company net, I informed Captain Fisk (known as Kingpin, for reasons) the plan.

 [Delta 3-6, Delta 6 Actual.  Solid plan.  Delta 1 is about done clearing the Fed Ex building and Bravo is going to join you shortly.  This is a pause until Shakespeare gets the Tower cleared.]

 I nodded to myself.  “Roger that, Kingpin,” I answered.  “Who’s got the Terminal?”

 [We do, I’m afraid- you’re lead for it.  Bravo will be supporting…  I’ll be by in ten to brief you. Higher wants it cleared tonight.]

 Shit.  “Delta Six, 3-6 acknowledges.”  Not much else to fucking say to that, was there?  And I bet I knew why it was gonna be us too.  My past work was known… and given the heroic stunts at the School that Third pulled clearing it, we were apparently the Subject Matter Experts.

 No one said this was gonna be easy…