Episode 23“Ooh, see the fire is sweepin'
Our very street today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull lost its way ”
-The Rolling Stones, Gimme Shelter
-7:43 PM September 1, 1987, San Diego, California, United States
"Aahh!" exhaled Kelly as she flopped on the bed. It felt good for her to lay down on something softer than her berth back in the barracks at Pendleton.
The sound of a toilet flushing emenated from the bathroom, after about a minute the door opened and out came Mary Stuart; Kelly's temporary roommate on this trip "you know, I never truly came to appreciate the simple joys in life until I had to share a bathroom with fifty other women, shitty as this hotel may be, it could be the freaking Ritz for all I care" she explained with a smile.
Mary was one of the other recruits in Kelly's training battalion, she had grown up in a foster home, and didn't get along with her foster parents at all. When Kelly had tried to call home, her mother just hung up on her and they ignored all the messages that she had left. So when it came time for all the recruits who had graduated to go on leave for five days to visit their families before moving on to the next level of training, Kelly and Mary had found themselves as the only two without a place to go to.
They had first thought of pooling what meager amounts of cash they had to go to Vegas, but they weren't old enough to gamble, and they really didn't feel like going on any long trips anywhere, so they just decided to stay local and found a cheap hotel in San Diego.
Mary walked over to the bed and looked down at Kelly "so what are we gonna do tonight?" she inquired.
Kelly looked up at the ceiling thoughtfully "oh, I dunno, rent a movie?" she suggested.
Mary sat herself down on her own bed "our last five days of freedom before being shipped off to infantry school and you wanna spend the night in watching a movie? Please tell me you are kidding" she said in a tone of mock incredulity.
Kelly turned to look at the other woman "well, I'm open to suggestions" she replied.
Mary had laid herself down on her own bed by now "oh... I dunno, let's go get drunk, and maybe get laid too" she said absently.
Kelly shook her head "sounds nice and all, but we're not on base, and last I checked, the drinking age in this state is 21, also I'm not all for picking up some random guy just to fuck" she said skeptically.
Mary sighed and started to sit up "well, you
don't have to get laid, but you are gonna get drunk with me, I"m not gonna let you just stay cooped up in this hotel all night, besides, I bet with a little charm, and a flash of our military IDs we can get pretty far" she said as she got up from the bed and reached over to Kelly to wrangle her up to her feet.
Kelly raised an eyebrow and looked at her comrade skeptically "oh alright, what's the worst that could happen?" she said as she let Mary lead her out of the hotel room.
Three hours later the two of them were back at the hotel. Mary had been right, and they had managed quite easily to find a bar where they were able to charm the bartender into letting them get a few drinks. It was good times, and they even met a couple guys who tried to pick them up, but they turned out to be assholes, so Mary and Kelly had headed back to the hotel after getting sufficiently drunk on cheap beer.
As they stumbled up the steps to the second floor Kelly fumbled around in her purse for the hotel key "where the fug is the daaammn key!?" she slurred as she almost fell to the floor, but Mary caught her.
As Mary steadied her comrade she took a peak inside Kelly's purse "hmm, maybbeee you left it at the bar, or ggaaaafffffeeee it to one of those guyssss by accident" she managed to get out with a slight chuckle.
By the time she had finally found the key, they were at the door "fugg thosssee guysss, they were assholessss!" she half shouted.
Mary laughed at kelly who was struggling to get the key into the lock "ha! I thhhink that's what they wanded!" she teased.
Kelly shook a finger in Mary's face "hhey! ...uh, I got the door unlocked" she said as she opened the door to their room. Shortly they were stumbling into the room, Kelly dropped her purse on the floor as Mary closed the door behind them "loog, it'ssss time for bedd, you ssshhhould go to bedd" said Mary, half pushing Kelly over toward her bed.
Kelly half-heartedly struggled "yyyoooo aren't my mommm, you don't gedd to tell me what to dddooo" she protested with a drunken smile as they got closer to it. However before reaching the destination, Kelly tripped, falling onto the floor, Mary got pulled down on top of her "hheeeyyy!!!! gedd off a' m-!" Kelly started to protest, but she was cut off when Mary's lips met hers in a clumsy kiss.
Kelly was so surprised that she was brought a little out of her stupor, her immediate thought was one of alarm, but that quickly changed to one of confusion. When Mary pulled away, she didn't say anything at first, she just looked Mary in the eye for a few silent seconds.
Finally the pause ended "w- what was that for?" she asked, surprised that her words came out almost completely unslurred.
Suddenly Mary broke eye contact and looked away "I- jus, jus felt like it, that's all" came her reply, her speech also markedly better all of a sudden.
Kelly had never thought of herself as being attracted to girls, and was certain that she was still attracted to men, but the kiss hadn't really bothered her as much as she would have thought. Mary started to get up off of Kelly, I'm s-" she was interrupted this time as Kelly surprised her with a kiss of her own.
An hour later the two of them lay together naked in Kelly's bed, their skin was slightly damp with a light coating of sweat. It had been awkward, and a bit clumsy, owing as much to their drunkenness as to their own uncertainness with such a new experience.
Silence hung in the room between them, they had been silent since they had finished, not saying anything to each other.
After another few minutes Mary finally broke the silence "w- was that your first time?" she asked.
Kelly looked over at her "do you mean at all or with another girl?" she asked.
"First time at all."
"Not my first time ever, but first with a woman."
They continued the awkward conversation like that for the next ten minutes, then Kelly got a sudden look of horror on her face "oh shit! What if somebody finds out about this? We'll get kicked out of the Corps!" she exclaimed, she had just spent that last nine weeks working so hard to become a Marine, and now she realized that she had endangered everything that she had worked so hard for. The thought of all that work, all those sacrifices, running away from home, possibly never talking to her family again, all for nothing.
"Oh shit! You're right!"
Mary suddenly got a similar expression on her face, but she calmed down after another moment, she placed her hand on Kelly's "actually, I think we'll be okay. I mean only we know about this, and I'm certainly not talking, I trust that I can count you to keep your mouth shut?" she said as she looked over at Kelly reassuringly.
Kelly thought about it for a moment then relaxed a bit, Mary was right. Besides, there was little that they could do about it now, what was done was done.
They spent the next couple hours talking about various different subjects, obviously sex for one, but also other things as well, random things. They got to know one another, they developed a rapport with each other and what seemed like the beginnings of a real relationship.
By the time their leave had ended a few days later, they had tried doing it a couple more times. Both had found it enjoyable, although by the end, Kelly began to realize that what they had, while it seemed really special could not last. She knew that after infantry school, they would probably both get shipped off to different units, possibly entirely different continents, and even if they did end up serving together they wouldn't be able to continue the relationship, there was too much risk of discovery.
However, Kelly was glad for the week they had shared together, and the memory it left in her mind. She would cherish it always, and she hoped the same was true for Mary as well.-4:25 PM September 16, 1987, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Jason stared over at the calendar on the wall of the principal's office and read the notes on it for about the twentieth time. Unlike during the hours when school was in session, the office was rather quiet. Mrs. McQueen; Principle Josiah's secretary, silently filled out paperwork at her desk, meanwhile Mr. Josiah was in his office behind a closed door talking on the phone quietly. With a sigh, Jason gently rubbed his bruised knuckles once again, they still hurt, even after over three hours.
After another ten minutes and two more readings of the notes on the calendar, he could make out the distant sound of a door opening and closing coming from somewhere out in the hallway. It was different from the sound the classroom doors made, so it meant that probably someone was coming in from outside the school. Jason started to tense up in anticipation, if it was who he had been waiting for, he was not looking forward to what was going to be coming.
Moments later the door to the office opened, and in marched Mom "oh, hello Mrs. Irons, Jason is sitting right over there" said Mrs. McQueen. Mom's gaze immediately shifted to stare at Jason, her expression was a mix of concern and anger. Mrs. McQueen pressed a button on the intercom on her desk "Mr. Josiah, Mrs. Irons is here to pick up Jason" she announced.
After a momentary pause, the principal's voice came through the intercom speaker "alright, have her come in to talk to me before she takes Jason home with her" came his reply.
Mom walked up to Jason, that look still on her face, she knelt down and looked him over, taking extra time to examine his bruised fists "you know I had to get out of work over an hour early to come down here" she chastised him, then took a deep breath and sighed "well, at least the worst you've got is a set of bruised knuckles-" she paused and turned to look as Mr. Josiah opened his office door and poked his head out, then she returned her attention to Jason "we'll talk about this later" she said to him with a stern tone and then promptly stood back up and headed into Mr. Josiah's office.
For the next ten or fifteen minutes Mom and the principal talked, it was too quiet and muffled for Jason to make anything out, but Mom sounded upset, that much he could tell. When the door opened again, Mom stepped out and walked over to him and extended a hand "let's go" she ordered. After a slight delay, Jason picked up his book bag off of the seat next to him and got out of his chair, he took her hand in his and they walked out of the office.
As they walked down the hallway, Jason avoided eye contact with Mom, opting in stead to stare down at the faded and cracked linoleum tile "Mr. Josiah says that he suspended you for three days" she said to him, there wasn't anger in her tone, it was just a statement of fact.
As they stepped out into the still warm autumn air, rain drizzled down on the two of them. The walk to the car was silent and purposeful, the distant sound of a police siren echoed in the distance as they crossed the largely deserted parking lot. Finally they reached the car; a beat up old red hatchback that looked like it had more rust on it than paint, it creaked loudly as they both got in, immediately the familiar musty odor of the car's interior filled his nostrils.
The car was a total piece of junk, even by the standards of their poor neighborhood, he remembered hearing his parents talking about how it was always so close to breaking down for good. Fortunately Dad had always been able to get it working again when it did, of course they were too poor to afford a mechanic. Jason wondered what they would do the next time it broke down, without Dad to fix it. He flinched a little at that thought and the pain it brought to the surface.
Mom closed her door, inserted the key into the ignition, and attempted to start the car. It of course didn't. So she tried again, and then a third time. On the fourth try it finally started up. They slowly drove through the parking lot and around to the open gate. The ten foot tall fences with barbed wire at the top passed by the car windows as they turned onto the street, Jason paid them little attention.
"They said that that boy, Deshawn Walker, he has two black eyes. You could have really hurt him. What the hell were you thinking?"
Jason didn't immediately answer, but after a moment he finally came up with something "he was being a real jerk, he cut in front of me during lunch, and then in class he kept shooting spitballs at me. He's such an ass-"
"Watch your language young man! You're in enough trouble already, don't make me give you a whuppin' for language" Mom scolded him.
"I can't believe you would do something like this. Well you can forget about going to Dwayne's birthday party this weekend, you're grounded for two weeks, and no TV either."
His eyes shot over to look at her for the first time since she had come to pick him up from school "but, that's not fair!" he protested.
"A lot of things in life are unfair, get used to it" Mom said, a touch of sadness in her voice. He remembered the look on Deshawn's face, that terrified expression as Jason lunged at him. He was so angry, so mad. The whole world was unfair, and he hated it all.
"You better check that attitude too, otherwise I might make it three weeks."
He opened his mouth to protest again but she interjected "or a month" she said assertively.
Mom gave another sigh "I don't know what I'm gonna to do with you, first you cut school last week, now this? What's next?" some of the anger in her voice went away and was replaced by concern "look, I know that it hasn't been easy ever since..." she trailed off, she left that last part unspoken, they both knew what it was IIIever since Dad died.III
The memory of Deshawn Walker was suddenly replaced by that hot august afternoon three weeks ago. When Uncle Damian had come to the door, he was still wearing his coveralls from the shipyard where he and Dad worked together.
Jason didn't understand a lot of what he had been told about what had happened that day, something about them rushing too much, about not enough safety rules, but then again he wasn't sure if he really cared about it either. There hadn't been any happy days since then, Mom almost never smiled anymore, and Jason always felt angry, angry at a world that had taken his dad away.
The car had come to a stop at a light, and Mom finally looked down at him for a couple seconds "look, I know that you took it hard, I know that you're mad, that you want him back, but you've got to work with me here or this family thing we've got isn't going to make it" she said, for the first time so far without any anger in her voice.
Jason didn't say anything right then, he just looked back down at his feet. He wasn't sure if there were ever going to be any more happy days again, and he wasn't really sure if he cared at that point, he was just angry.-3:23 PM September 21, 1987, 30 kilometers outside of Weifang, Jinan Military Region, China
"Ten degrees to the right."
Captain Yu's voice came in steady and authoritative through Corporal Gao Ming's earphones as he gave the order, and Ming obediently pulled the joystick to the right. The sound of powerful electric motors rose above the rumbling of the diesel engines. Slowly but surely, the massive turret spun to bear on the intended target. After a few seconds, the desired angle was reached and Ming brought the joystick back to center, the turret's traverse stopped and the motors stopped whining.
Ming could almost feel the captain tense up as he prepared for what was to come within the next thirty seconds.
"Elevate three degrees."
Again, Ming followed the order by maneuvering a separate joystick. Within a couple seconds the massive 280 mm cannon had been fully brought to bear on the desired target that sat more than a kilometer away. Several more seconds passed as the Captain checked a couple more things, finally the order came.
It was calm and seemed somewhat out of place considering what was being ordered. Ming reached over, gripped the large metal lever to his right and pulled. The entire vehicle shook with so much force that had he not already experienced it before, Ming would have expected that the massive armored vehicle would have been shaken to pieces by the jarring recoil. Meanwhile a deafening blast so loud that even through his padded headphones it drowned out all other noises.
Peering through his own scope, Ming looked for a sign that the shot had hit its intended target. Less than a second later he was rewarded as the large five meter block of concrete that they were aiming for disappeared in a massive conflagration. Ming's lips parted to bear his teeth in a wide grin of satisfaction as Captain Yu patted him on the shoulder "nice work everyone, now let's head on back to base" he said.
About a half hour later they had pulled the titanic machine back into a large aircraft hangar that it had called home ever since arriving a month ago. Ming followed Captain Yu out through a hatch in the top.
The fleeting sound of air hissing filled the compartment as the Captain opened the hermetically sealed hatch. As Ming climbed out he surveyed the other seven gargantuan vehicles all parked in a row to the left and right. He pondered the massive size of their own vehicle as he climbed down the ladder along the side, and large it was.
The Huang Di class armored vehicle was over four meters tall, more than five including the turret. Built on two interlinked heavily modified quarry sized dump truck chassis', each vehicle was over thirty five meters in length and seven meters in width. Each Huang Di was mounted with an American 280mm nuclear artillery piece. They had been old relics of the fifties and sixties which the Americans had turned into museum pieces, but the PLA had refurbished them a few weeks ago.
They had been named after the semi-mythical Yellow Emperor who was known for having bested and decapitated a giant in personal combat. Needless to say, the symbolism was not lost on Ming, he had known that originally the Huang Di was meant to act as a possible answer to the problem of those damned fire breathing monstrosities that the enemy was using, with the hope that if a regular 100 or 120mm tank gun couldn't kill one of those beassts in a single shot, then perhaps a 280mm one could. But then those massive giants had shown themselves.
Virtually unkillable by any conventional means, it was hoped that perhaps concentrated salvos of 8 of those guns could do the trick, especially since getting aircraft within striking distance of those damn things had proven... IIIdifficultIII to say the least.
Ming and Captain Yu met the rest of the crew on the floor of the hangar in front of their monstrous machine. Corporal Zhang Péng, their driver, greeted Ming with a smile and a slap on the shoulder "that was good shooting Ming, you actually hit the target this time, let's try and do that again some time eh?" he teased.
Ming chuckled at him "well, I'm quite proud Péng. Just as you should be for having not crashed into the hangar door while parking today!" he retorted playfully.
Péng was about to respond with yet another lighthearted insult when Captain Yu interrupted "yes, I'm sure we're all very happy that everything went well today, now we just need to actually get things done quickly. We'll take an early day today and be here nice and early tomorrow, I want us able to fire off three shots in thirty seconds, and we will be able to redeploy to another location and start firing again within two minutes. We've go less than a month before heading off to the front and the entire company will
be ready on time."
The Captain looked the entire crew over, and then at their vehicle "alright, before we go any further. Are there any further technical problems that any of you noticed?" he inquired, nodding his head toward the approaching contingent of mechanics and engineers.
Private Hu Wei; one of the four machine gunners, spoke up first "well, I noticed a little sluggishness on my W85" he said.
Captain Yu nodded as he looked at one of the forward mounted heavy machine gun sponsons "very well, go over it with the technicians before you leave" he ordered. The looking back over the assembled crew "alright are there any other problems to be dealt with then?" he asked. There was no response, after another second or two Captain Yu nodded "very well, get some rest, we have a lot to cover before we can start slaying monsters, you are dismissed" he said with a salute. The crew obediently came to attention and returned their own salutes in disciplined unison.-9:23 AM September 23, 1987, Edwards Air Force Base, California, United States
Lieutenant Lorie McCabe stood in front of the unoccupied desk of a Colonel Archibalt Powell. She wasn't sure why she was there, and she wasn't sure who Colonel Powell was, she just knew that she'd been yanked from her bed back at Dover at about four in the morning and flown all the way down here to Edwards without the slightest bit of warning.
It's not that she was all that upset. What with the war going on, it wasn't unheard of that people might expect sudden and drastic changes to happen, she just wished she had an idea of just what they wanted with her all the way over here.
After a few more minutes of waiting, the door to the office opened and in walked a tall and wiry looking man in a colonel's uniform carrying a stack of files in his hand. Immediately Lorie stood at attention, bringing her hand up in a crisp salute "sir! Lieutenant McCabe reporting as ordered, sir!" she said in proper Academy fashion.
Lorie had only just graduated from the Air Force Academy about three months previously, and it showed in her dealings with others, especially superior officers.
The colonel casually returned the salute as he came to his chair and sat down "that's fine Lieutenant, take a seat" he said absently.
Lorie slowly loosened her stiff stance and then proceeded to take the seat across from his desk.
As Powell got comfortable in his chair he flipped through one of the files, for a fraction of a second Lorie thought she spotted a picture of her in there IIIso it's a file on me, I wonder if this is good or badIII. About a minute passed in awkward silence as the Colonel perused the documents in front of him.
Finally he spoke up "welcome to Edwards Air Force Base lieutenant, thank you for coming on such short notice, this was somewhat unexpected for us here as well" he said without looking up at her.
"That's no problem sir. The Air Force tells me where to fly and that's were I go, never read anywhere in the manual about hours of operation" she tried to sound as upbeat and confident as she could.
Another long pause followed as the colonel perused more documents, a couple minutes later he closed the file in front of him and looked up at her for the first time. Although his appearance was clean and orderly, his eyes looked as though he hadn't slept in quite some time "so, tell me about the incident in Vandenberg" he said suddenly.
Lorie had been taken aback by that one, it was so direct and sudden, had someone thought that she had been at fault after all? She paused for a second, looking for the right words "um... well, one of our thrust reversers suddenly deployed and we had to make an emergency landing shortly after takeoff. It was-"
"You suffered engine failure and had to land your aircraft fully loaded and dead stick, and you managed to successfully do so with only minimal damage to the airframe, is that correct?"
"Uh, yes sir that is correct, it was quite a day sir."
"You know, you're far too modest. Your CO tells me that you saved the lives of your entire crew that day, and that he's not sure there are too many pilots in the Air Force today who could have pulled off what you did that day. Not bad for being a month out of the Academy."
Lorie felt her cheeks get warm as she blushed in embarrassment, she hadn't realized that Colonel Dorny thought so highly of her.
Powell continued "I'm going to get down to the point, how do you feel about flying in combat?" he asked.
Lorie almost took a double take at that one combat? what the hell did they bring me down here for?
"Begging your pardon sir, but it's not something that I had considered for my current posting, although I have no objections to a front line assignment. I knew what I was getting into when I enlisted" she tried to keep the nervousness out of her voice, but she didn't think it was working.
"Good, one of our pilots died in a car accident last night, and his substitute came down with a case of appendicitis a week ago, so now we have a hole in our roster that we need filled immediately, we've got to be ready for deployment in less than a month. If you're willing, I can have the transfer order sent through by lunch."
She blinked hard at that what the hell is he getting at? Transfer order? What the hell do they want me for?
She opened her mouth to speak, but didn't know what to say.
Apparently sensing her hesitation, Colonel Powell raised an eyebrow "if you are looking into career advancement, this is about the best opportunity you will ever have" his voice was encouraging.
Lorie took a deep breath and thought for a second, she didn't even know what she was being offered. Finally she looked the Colonel in the eye "alright sir, but just one question. Aside from some trainer aircraft, the only thing I'm rated in is a C-5 galaxy, just what combat mission could you possibly need me for on such short notice?" she asked.
The colonel gave her a knowing grin "well Lieutenant, it's something right up your alley."-2:23 AM October 19, 1987, somewhere in Rajasthan, India
Nikolai stirred from another nightmare as he sensed someone approaching. He had actually gotten quite good at dealing with the nightmares, or perhaps the term 'deal' was not quite apt. He tolerated them, and he supposed that that was good enough.
He quickly opened his eyes which rapidly adjusted to the darkness. He saw that the rest of the squad was sleeping soundly, that was good, they deserved a good nights rest, and Nikolai was getting the uneasy feeling that they were going to need as much rest as they could get in the near future.
Two days previously, his squad had been finally called back from their regular job of running from one hot spot to another, and for the first time in a long while, they had been sent to the rear. At first he had held out the hope that it was because they had finally stopped retreating, which was a fact. Two days prior to that he had finally gotten word that a firm defensive line had been established about fifty or sixty kilometers northwest of their current location.
This thought was immediately challenged however.
First they were sent all the way back to what had appeared to be a proper military base, they were permitted to actually shower and sleep in real beds and eat real food. It had seemed like a miracle, perhaps they were going to get sent back home, given an extended leave, something.
A big part of Nikolai's mind told him that they were being treated so well because something truly difficult or horrifying was to come. Rather than a glorious feast or celebration, the excellent food they had received felt more like a last meal.
At first he merely dismissed this as his own pessimism getting the better of him. Then the next day they had been all loaded onto a truck and shipped to this location, some small insignificant little village called Barwala.
The moment they arrived he knew that his suspicions were correct. There were troops everywhere, tens of thousands of them, all packed into this little area. He spotted equipment of all different makes too, not just Indian or Pakistani either, but Russian, Chinese, even American and British too. Then he started seeing men who he had served with in Khost, and not just the occasional familiar face either, hundreds of them, maybe even a couple thousand. He had hoped that these were just a small portion of the total number of surviving forces who had originally fought in that city and not all of them, but he had a strong feeling that such was not the case.
The area itself was heavily fortified too, as far as he could tell, there were three levels of defense. Trenches, bunkers, earthworks, he hadn't seen anything so significant since their defensive perimeter along the Afghan border. It had appeared a bit hastily constructed by comparison, but nonetheless it was quite impressive. He wondered just what the point of it was with the front lines being fifty kilometers away. Though he was quite sure that he would find out sooner or later.
He heard the faint and quiet footsteps of someone approaching, and picked himself up to get a look at just who it was. As he got to his feet he managed to spot a dark figure about five meters away walking in their direction.
As the individual got closer, Nikolai noticed something familiar about him, it was the VDV uniform the visitor was wearing it couldn't be
Nikolai took a couple steps toward the newcomer "Colonel Kvachkov, it has been a long time" he whispered as he brought his hand up in a salute, the first he had made in as long as he could remember.
The Colonel responded with his own salute "it is good to see you too Sergeant Antonov, I'm glad to see that you are still alive after all of this" he said back, and then extended a hand.
Nikolai hesitated for a second then reached out with his own and grasped it "well, it hasn't been for lack of trying, from the way things have been going I was starting to think that our superiors were actively trying to kill us" he said with a touch of sour humor.
Colonel Kvachkov nodded silently "it can seem that way all too often unfortunately, and I'm afraid that that is not about to change just yet" he said, there was a touch of resignation in his voice.
Nikolai took a deep breath and let it out slowly "I had a feeling such was the case, how bad?" he asked with trepidation.
There was a pause "how bad does 'most important operation of the war to date' sound?" the colonel responded.
"And that is why you got the job, you and all the rest of the troops from Khost. You are the amongst the most hardened experienced forces in this war. You will be the anvil against which we will crush the enemy."-2:06 PM October 22, 1987, Nawalgarth, Rajasthan, India
Kelly hopped out of the back of the truck and onto the ground, then sprinted around to the side of the truck with the rest of her squad. She quickly came to a halt, then stood at attention with the rest of the squad who had lined up along with the rest if the platoon.
A middle aged man wearing a Lieutenant's Bar stood before them, his name patch read 'Samuels' he took a step forward "welcome to Task Force Sabre; I am Lieutenant Samuels, the commander of this motherfucking platoon!" he bellowed out to them.
Kelly was surprised to hear an officer use such course language, she was used to it from NCO's but never a commissioned officer.
He looked the platoon up and down, then continued "it is regretful that we have not had much opportunity to get properly acquainted, this however will be getting rectified over the coming days" he said as he paced about in front of them.
"As many of you may have heard, there has been much concern voiced over this operation and the choice of personnel for it" he said with an obvious air of contempt in his voice "they say that this is a job for the army, that the Marines should stick to the beaches!" his voice also seemed to have a bit of derisive humor in it as well.
"There have also been concerns voiced over the fact that this will be the first deployment of women in the Corps into combat! There however are two problems with these concerns!" he paused for a second "first of all, I have looked over this base for days and days, and I have yet to see a single woman. All I've seen, are Marines!"
"The other problem is that no matter what anybody else says, we are going to kill more motherfucking bozorgs than any other outfit in this whole goddamn war!"
"Now what do you have to say to that?!"
There was no delay.
The response was loud enough that it even managed to partially drown out the constant overhead roar of jets.
Twenty Five minutes later Kelly was jogging with the rest of her squad toward a large sized hangar located at the camp. They had already been to their berths where they had dropped off most of their gear. Corporal Dawson was jogging ahead of them, grunting and shouting at them to "hurry the fuck up."
Dawson was the unofficial leader of Kelly's squad, much Like Lieutenant Samuels, he was unsurprisingly crude and vulgar but seemed to know what he was doing. The chief NCO of the entire platoon was Staff-Sergeant Brasseau, he was grizzled and looked to also be the oldest man in the unit, he was actually a bit more quiet and reserved than the others, but he gave the impression that he was a hard man. She had heard that he had been in the Corps since 1968, and that he had served in Vietnam, which included a post at Khe Sanh.
She was a of course quite nervous at the prospect of her first combat deployment especially since most of the recruits who she had graduated with had been assigned elsewhere, but it looked like the platoon had solid leadership, which she found quite reassuring. However there were a couple who had been assigned to the same platoon with her, and that included Ditty, which Kelly figured made up for it.
They came to a halt just inside the main doors to the hangar which bustled with activity as a constant flow of both people and vehicles and aircraft moved into and out of the large structure. The heavy traffic created a large amount of noise which made it hard to hear much anything of any use, but Lieutenant Samuels seemed to have no problem being heard over the cacophony.
Before them was a row of parked CH-53Es, technicians swarmed over two of them, performing various forms of repairs and other maintenance. Samuels gestured toward the row of aircraft "this is the Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion, it will take us into and out of harms way, get well acquainted with them!"-4:28 PM October 25, 1987, 5 kilometers south of the Kazakh border, Uzbekistan
Viktor patted down on the dirt with his shovel, then wiped the sweat from his brow. Leaning on his shovel, he reached back to grab his cantine which he opened and lifted to his mouth, he drank from it. Lukewarm water flowed down his throat, partially quenching his thirst. It wasn't very cool and it had a strong metallic taste from his cantine, but it was refreshing enough for him under the circumstances.
As he swallowed the last bit of water, he looked over to see Leonid and Oskar placing the last empty case in the back of the truck, it's precious and deadly cargo having already been deployed.
For a moment he stood there contemplating the significance of their mission as well as that of the other thirty teams just like theirs working out there that day. Their mission was both of the utmost importance and utterly secret. Viktor knew why, he understood completely the purpose for such secrecy.
He wasn't even sure if he himself agreed with what they were doing out there, and so he had no doubt that the world at large would be skeptical to say the least. It mattered not, if all went well, this contingency would not be needed, and no one would ever need know of its existence.
However, if it was necessary to enact it. Well then...
He pushed such thoughts to the back of his mind, it was not for the likes of him to think of such things. The decision had been made by people far more important and influential than he, there was little he could do about it himself, so rationalizing such decisions was pointless.
The Major had emerged from inside the truck with a large spool of wire and hollared to Viktor to get back to work. It brought him back to the present, so he resealed his cantine, put it back on his belt and headed over to the next spot. His only further thought on the matter was that he would be glad not to be at this location when the time came, no matter what course of events were to unfold in the next week or two.
Received: from !obsidianhost!darpahost!obnet.workhub.westloc.gov([220.127.116.11])
date: wednesday, October 28, 1987, 1:08 PM
subject: arrowhead network system check
Could you run a system check on the Arrowhead network? We suddenly had a massive drop off in registered activity this morning and we want to make sure that it's not an instrumentation problem. Interestingly we still picked up the teleportation test we performed about thirty minutes ago without a problem, however all of those 'slow portals' that we have been picking up for the past year have just suddenly stopped, almost like somebody just flipped a switch. Anyway, we're freaking out a bit here since we're a kind of paranoid that the modifications we made to engage the jamming signal may be causing disruption to the network's sensitivity.
Thanks in Advance,
Received: from !quiverhost!darpahost!qnet.centralhub.eastloc.gov ([18.104.22.168])
date: Wednesday, October 28, 1987, 8:39 AM
subject: RE: arrowhead network system check
We did a full scale calibration and system check on the whole network and have so far not found a single problem with it. So far it looks like those 'slow portals' have indeed stopped appearing, interesting that they would build in frequency and intensity for more than a year then suddenly stop. Still no idea on your end as to what they were about? Anyway, we'll perform a full scale system check on each satellite over the next two days just to be sure.