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PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 5:55 am 
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Thats a mighty fine sig ya got there man... ROFL

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 2:17 pm 
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Fun story so far, TacAir! Keep up the good work!

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I do pity sissy as she has been out there a long time with that gaping hole in her leg, but until 'chocolate' tastes good again, I think Sissy's gonna be waiting a bit lol.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 6:01 pm 
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Last edited by TacAir on Thu Aug 28, 2014 11:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 8:28 pm 
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:clap:

Great entry!

Question though... Sirona called the dog Rufster, then later Fluffy. I she doing this to make it easier for Roscoe or ??

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 8:37 pm 
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91Eunozs wrote:
:clap:

Great entry!

Question though... Sirona called the dog Rufster, then later Fluffy. I she doing this to make it easier for Roscoe or ??


Say you have a bud, his name is Robert.
Everyone calls him Bobby, or Bob even, except when he's around. Then it's Robert - because he's made it plain he wants to be known as Robert.
When he isn't around, folks call him Bobby - weird, huh?

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 8:31 am 
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TacAir wrote:
91Eunozs wrote:
:clap:

Great entry!

Question though... Sirona called the dog Rufster, then later Fluffy. I she doing this to make it easier for Roscoe or ??


Say you have a bud, his name is Robert.
Everyone calls him Bobby, or Bob even, except when he's around. Then it's Robert - because he's made it plain he wants to be known as Robert.
When he isn't around, folks call him Bobby - weird, huh?


Makes sense. Also, great entry! Keep up the good work. This is a really good story. I like the world you've created.

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I do pity sissy as she has been out there a long time with that gaping hole in her leg, but until 'chocolate' tastes good again, I think Sissy's gonna be waiting a bit lol.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 12:40 pm 
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Hey, TacAir, hope you haven't given up on this one yet. Been gone for awhile myself, too.

Sending this request for more (moar) :words: :words: :words:

thanks, Tac!!!


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 11:44 am 
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Every few days I scan,
hoping to find,
a few more words
about a world unkind

to a scooter-riding vet
and a sign-talking dog.
Why has this story
up and gone?

Will they win their struggle
to live and love free
and in helping others
overcome corporate greed?

The question
is as open
as their universe
is frozen.

I may hope against hope
but I have faith
that moar story will appear,
someday, in this place.

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Browncoat, food & H2O storing Dad. "I don't care, I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me."
"Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other people or the majority, it's a right that belongs to all of us."


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:03 pm 
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FlashDaddy wrote:
Every few days I scan,
hoping to find,
a few more words
about a world unkind

to a scooter-riding vet
and a sign-talking dog.
Why has this story
up and gone?

Will they win their struggle
to live and love free
and in helping others
overcome corporate greed?

The question
is as open
as their universe
is frozen.

I may hope against hope
but I have faith
that moar story will appear,
someday, in this place.



:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 6:30 pm 
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Roses are red
Violets are blue
I read this post and
I hear you.

I've just finished editing the Roll Call 2 story and am now on Chapter seven, starting on new text to finish that story. I've written an entire new first chapter, introducing a changed (and renamed) Prof Mors.

I've been working with a couple of board regulars on a spinoff series...

The Prism Mysteries


The Story of the Mummified Stranger
By
D. K. Richardson
With Chris Zimmerman

as with many new collaborations, it expands on the time to publication.

I've also started on working up Roll Call 3, tentatively, End of Empire....

So, it's not like I've been sleeping in late.

Thanks for the voicing support to the Roscoe series. It will get it's time, I'm still sorting a (believable) ending.

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Adventures in rice storage//Mod your Esbit for better stability


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2016 6:55 pm 
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Don't go all apeshit or anything but... This will be an early chapter, I decided I needed to beef up an early section - this is the beef up.


**********************************************
12/19/2016 Copyright DK Richardson. All rights reserved.

[CENTER][SIZE="4"]Green Bean[/SIZE] [/CENTER]

Malcomb continued staring at both of use for more than a few minutes. He finally said "Want to repeat that, Mau-Mau?" This was in his quiet voice. One that I learned later that he could turn into whip and use to flay a person's psyche into tatters.

Mau-Mau looked back and forth a couple of times before blurting out "Come on, Sarge. The last thing I want to have to drag a green bean around with me on this patrol."

Of course, as the green bean in question I had exactly **** to say about anything. I mean, I survived Boot, but Mau-Mau had a good point. Right now I was, at best, a liability of unknown proportions. In other words, I had to prove myself, and there was the problem. Nobody in the unit was willing to take the risk. No foul, I get it. A simple screw-up and everyone could be toast.

"I'll overlook the simple fact that you're disobeying a direct order, really. Make no mistake; this patrol and the package you both will escort are real. So is the down side if you continue to be this stupid…."

In the range of all possible responses I'd ever seen, and that wasn't much, Killer was at the lowest end of Big Army thinking. Why?

"If the mutt is that damn important, why aren't the Air Commando weenies providing escort?" Mau-Mau didn't just frown, he was outright pissed.

Nobody likes being a heyboy for another unit. Especially in a hot combat zone. Air Commando runs NEOdogs, them was the rules. Everyone knew it. Hell, I'd been at the FOB for just long enough to unpack, set up my end of the hooch and even I knew that much.

Now Malcomb smiled. Smiled. "Almost a point, Mau-Mau. We…no, you both will run this op because this is my A/O. You damn well know most of the Air Commando types that run around here couldn't find their own ass out in the jungle if they were backed into a corner and got to use both hands. How many times...?"

Mau-Mau slashed his hand down. "Fine, Killer. But the green bean humps the mutt's chow. Even I have my limits"

Both of them turned to me. Holding up my hands, I said, "No sweat. How much chow can that be anyway…?" If I'd only known.

******

"This is it?" The mutt didn't look very remarkable. Sure, he had the oddball looking head I'd been warned about, but why the rep?

The sigh Mau-Mau cut loose was….epic. "This isn't a Cee Dee, Roscoe. This is some kind of new recon dog that the brass thinks will make a difference. Which translates into someone got a kickback from the Bandits and we got the peanut butter covered end of the stick."

While Mau-Mau was talking, the mutt kept looking back and forth, like it understood what we were saying. Finally, it walked over to a patch of shade, parked his ass, yawned loudly and promptly fell asleep.

"So, how are we supposed to tell the mutt what to do? Last I heard the Air Commando is all about their magic training…" I got cut off.

"Let me sweat that ****, will ya? Go get your kit and load up the mutts chow. We got a long hump ahead of us because we don't get a Pogo ride this time. We get to walk." He stomped off to his hooch. I guessed the discussion was over.

I like to walk. Mostly because I hate flying, I don't trust Gizmos. And Pogos are piloted by Gizmos. So, I like to walk. I went really light on gear. Half a Basic Load, two water bladders 'cause I figured the mutt would need water and my hammock. I didn't bother with a poncho. You will get soaked no matter what; the rain here is past heavy, more like walking in a pond. So, why hump the other weight?

Once I loaded up, I went back to where the mutt had crashed. "Hey, Spud. You got any gear I need to hump?" Couldn't hurt to ask. I mean, if I was humping the chow, I supposed I would get the rest of any gear.

To my surprise, the mutt look up and shook his head No.

If you're not walking, you could be sitting or even sleeping. So, I joined the mutt. At some point, I figured they would get around to telling what name our package answered to. In the meantime, the mutt was setting a good example. Who was I to ignore it?

A kick to my foot ended naptime. "Okay, you two. Up. Time to split." Mau-Mau wasn't wearing traditional camo, all he had on was cut-offs, a wife beater and some ratty looking sandals that might have been a Pogo tire at some point in time. He already had enough of a tan that he looked an awful lot like an Indig standing there.

That it was getting dark didn't surprise me. Anytime we left the compound, a million eyes were watching. The lack of a Pogo lift wasn't going to help. "I'm good. What's the plan?"

"Easy, green bean. You shut up, and follow the mutt." He looked directly at the dog. "You. Follow. Me. You wander off to piss or something, we ain't gunna stop. "

The mutt seemed unbothered. After a loud fart, he gave me the once over before trundling over to Mau-Mau. And so it began.

To Mau-Mau's credit, he took it easy in the beginning until I got a chance to sort out all the weight on my rig. Once I settled in, he hit it hard. By the time it was too dark to see, we had put several miles behind us. Mau-Mau then cut into a closely grown thicket and dropped his gear.

"We bag it here tonight and keep a listen out in case anyone too curious decided to follow us, you know?" With that, he lay down and was out like a bad bulb..

A bit more in the way of direction would have been really cool, but maybe Mau-Mau was one of those sink or swim types. I sat down, leaning my ruck against one of the bigger saplings. "Okay, Spud – you want a drink?"

The mutt's chow had a bowl-like container, so I dumped the chow out on a banana leaf and filled the container with water. After sitting the water next to the chow, I leaned back. It felt good to take a break. "Go ahead and eat. No sense in waiting for me."

I waited until Spud finished his chow before I started on mine. In between bites, I asked the mutt if he wanted first or the second watch shift. What the Hell, this dog is supposed to be bright enough to run recon, he should be able to pick up some of the load.

In response, the mutt walked over to lift a leg on Mau-Mau's gear before racking out. Good enough for me. By midnight, the moon was overhead and providing some pretty good light. The jungle noise had dropped to near silence, a good sign.

Midnight had come and gone before I stirred. If you're going to listen real hard, you need to sit still. Despite the nap yesterday, I still needed some Zs if I was going to do a long hump come daylight. I wasn't about to poke the mutt, given that his teeth were bigger than my set. So I used a piece of rind from my dinner, tossing it to land next to Spud.

He walked over to me, giving me the stink eye. "Tough shit, Spud. Your turn on deck." Before I climbed into my hammock I added, "Don't even think about pissing on my gear, I'm wise to ya." That got a huff sound, but the mutt did go over to the place where we entered the thicket before taking a seat. With no other real choice, I racked out.

I was up just as light from the sun was filling in the really black spots that makes up the gloom this deep in the jungle. Looking around, I could see that both Mau-Mau and Spud were gone, but that Mau-Mau's gear was sitting in the same spot as last night. With nothing better to do, I loaded up my gear before making a head run to the far side of the thicket. By the time I was finished with my business and had all my gear stowed, the two came strolling back.

I was now in full-on keep my piehole closed mode. If Mau-Mau wanted something, he would ask. He loaded up and with a hand gesture, we were off and running. Well, walking anyway. We quickly fell into a kind of rhythm – Mau-Mau out front, at least 10 meters ahead. Spud, just behind, would stay right on his track. A less charitable person might think Spud was worried about mines. In which case, the little assbite was holding out on me. I pulled Tail-end Charlie, walking backwards from time to time checking our six. It really didn't matter. If an Indig was following, I doubt I would see them anyway.

We started out working along a knife-edge ridge. By mid-day, we'd humped through a small gap and pressed on down the far side. Once the canopy was thick enough overhead to kill most of the sunshine, Mau-Mau stopped walking and flopped down. He didn't say spit to me, so I found a pile of moss, and followed his lead. Spud just wandered deeper into the shadows. The snoring started a few minutes later.

I dropped the mutt's bowl and splashed some water in it. I refused to believe I was any less thirsty than Spud. After I got my water squared away, I kicked back. Mau-Mau would leave when he was ready. In the meantime, I was good. If I was honest, this was nothing compared to working a harvest with a deadline and a short crew. Dinner was going to be good, I'd been picking all kinds of fruit, nuts and berries as we cut through the bush. No sense in carrying rations if you could get your Chow on the move.

My nap ended when something wet hit my ear. When I looked, Spud was standing there, his ears wig-wagging like crazy. WTF? "Okay, mutt. Give." I said this just barely above a whisper.

Spud walked in a circle, then a few feet over to stand under a tree. I crawled over to look at whatever he was looking at. A pair of eyes stared back at me. A rat. A huge rat. Worse yet, the bastard looked hungry. I back crawled to my Individual Weapon, but by now, Spud had parked his considerable ass on it. I almost said something, but there was something about his smile that told me to think more than twice about that. I didn't have a machete or even a real large knife. Hell, I was short of rocks, so just as I was going to wake up Mau-Mau, Spud huffed.

I glanced over at him. He pointed his nose at the bricks of Chow on my rig. It took a minute for me to sort out that the mutt wanted me to open one of the bricks. Okay. The rat hadn't charged, so I took the time to rip open the pac and dump the gooey mess into the bowl sitting on the ground. Spud picked it up with his teeth and moved it closer to the tree. After backing up a few steps, he crouched down.

What happened next was almost…invisible, it happened so fast. One second the rat was heading for the Chow, the next second it was hanging dead from Spud's chops. After a couple of shakes, he flung the carcass deep into the bushes he'd been sleeping in earlier. I knew I'd just learned something important, I just didn't know what.

Before I could do or say a thing, Mau-Mau was up and getting his gear loaded up. Rather than ask, I just loaded up and waited for him to press out. I don't know how many hours we humped across the little hills that made up so much of the highlands, but it was well after dark when we stopped.

I won't say I was lost, because I knew I could back-trail to the FOB. Or close enough to find it. The village down the hill from the FOB sat under a smoke column most days and the FOB wasn't all that far from there. After a bit of an internal fight, I finally asked Mau-Mau, "We crashing here?"

The answer was short. "Nope. Eat here. Move on to a better location to find our base of operations." He paused to empty the last of his water bladder before adding, "You got 20 Mikes to feed the mutt and yourself." With that, he tore into odd shaped ration pac.

I dumped some of Spud's eats into the bowl and started on my big fruit. The little stuff, I would eat on the trail. One day down, maybe two more to go. I wasn't sure if I should be ****ed that Mau-Mau hadn't shared a map, mission brief or anything else of value once we started. If he bought it, I had no clue where or how to go forward. Screw it, not my problem right now. Staying awake and walking was the problem staring me in the face…

This time around, Mau-Mau let me crash first. It seemed like just a few minutes when he kicked me in the ass. Leaning down he whispered, "All clear. The mutt is out poking around. Don't shoot him when he comes back." He didn't wait for me to say anything. He was curled up and asleep before I could take a leak. Wonderful. I also didn't understand why Spud was out. At the FOB, it seemed like it was going to be a three day walk before we even got close to the OPS area. Rather than worry, I concentrated on staying awake and keeping an eye out for rats….

The next day found us halfway up on a ridge. You know the kind, where your nose gets rubbed raw as you climb… That steep. Mau-Mau stopped and it took me a minute to see that he had found a little shelf where we could sit and not slide back down the ridge on the jungle duff. Even better, we had a view of the valley below and still had tree cover from the sun. Mau-Mau might be a world class ****, but he knew his way around the highlands.

After I got unloaded, Mau-Mau silently pointed to a spot next to him. I took a seat, and the mutt squatted next to me. The shelf extended a ways past Mau-Mau, but this gave all of us a good view. Handing me a set of optics, Mau-Mau's only comment was "Take a look and tell me what you see…." I didn't know what all he expected; maybe it was one of those Zen things he was going on about back at the FOB.

As I scanned the below Mau-Mau started talking. "Behind this ridge, well, North of this ridge system you'll find the Motagua river. It runs all the way to the Gulf. The Chinese use the river as one of their main infiltration routes. They pay off the jade smugglers and the locals are so corrupt they don't give a **** to begin with. Intell says there is major layover point here as they make their way inland to give us trouble." His tone of voice left no doubt on what he thought of the so-called analysis.

"That's just bull****, of course. Way too many people live in the river valley for them to get in and out without us knowing about it." His faith in the Army was inspiring but nothing I'd seen up to now caused me to want to share his view. He went on, "This little valley will eventually lead you down into the Verapaz, then the lowlands, giving them access to the capital. That's why FOB Brightstar sits where it sits. Or so they tell me. So, tell me what you see…."

I didn't know if this was some kind of green bean test or if Mau-Mau really was trying to get me up to speed. "First, what I don't see. In the area I can observe, no villages, huts or other habitation. No fields, so, no cultivated crops." That got me a grunt. "I don't see where any trees or other large patches have been cut, but I'm not that familiar with the area, so that might mean nothing." Another grunt. "I see at least five spots where the overall…What to call it? Green? The green is a different, brighter shade. I'd have to guess bamboo, but without walking through there, hard to say exactly. I know bamboo is native to this area. Hell, the hammock hanger in my hooch is made from local bamboo. This is a different kind. And it's a lot…shinier? So, relatively new growth."

Mau-Mau sat silent for a minute before saying, "Point out the five spots. I only see three." After a few minutes, he grunted again. "Damn, good eye. That's where our smelly recon asset here is going to go looking. Killer thinks, and now I'm beginning to believe him, that they've dug into the side of the ridge in more than one spot. Barkley here is supposed to be better than us human at this ****, so…" He turned to look at the mutt. "Far side, valley. Find hole. Find all hole. Hole man big."

Spud didn't react, he just looked at me. "Ahh, you want something to eat before you head out?" I had no idea what to say, but it seemed like a good idea to at least ask if he wanted any eats. That netted me a headshake, which I took as a no. The mutt walked down to the far end of the shelf, lay down in a shady spot and in a few minutes was snoring.

I looked at Mau-Mau. "Now what?"

"Easy stuff. Sit here until the mutt gets back and we head out for the FOB." Stepping over me, he found a shady spot and lay down. "I suspect this will be awhile, so get comfortable. We're not going anywhere soon." After a few minutes, it dawned on me that Mau-Mau was racked out as well.

I took the easy way out as sleeping on duff covered stone isn't my idea of comfortable. Just a bit down slope, I found two trees that would support my hammock. I put my weapon and ruck in, before climbing in myself. It might have been a pretty sweet couple of days if it hadn't started raining that afternoon. Spud took off just after the rain started leaking through the canopy.

I'd spent a summer working the cane harvest in what remained of Florida. Wrench twisting on the harvesters was a mostly night-time effort. Rather than continue to bake in the sun, I watched a couple of locals strip palm fronds and work them into a sort shade shelter with overlapping layers. It took a while to figure out how to strip the fiber out of the split fronds, but in the end, I was sleeping in the shade. By the time true darkness fell, I had an improvised rain cover for my hammock. The leaves might have been different, the theory of operation wasn't.

Daylight brought more rain and nothing else. I didn't bother to ask Mau-Mau how long we would hang out here and I sure Hell wasn't going to offer making him a leaf shelter. He seemed happy, if not entirely dry, with his poncho. Why bother? That night the thunder was deafening, which only served to drown out the wind for a bit. We were deep enough in the jungle growth that the only concern I had was the occasional branch falling through the canopy.

I almost got ****ed over no storm warning before we took off, but on reflection decided it made no difference. We were going to be in the bush – storm or not. Laying in a hammock covered with leaves while the rain pours down does give you a lot of time to think about shit. I can see now why some people might start drinking….

As the sun set again, Mau-Mau slithered down to my little hole in the wet to whisper, "Come daylight, we leave, mutt or not." After dropping that little bombshell, he went back to his perch, one I couldn't see and assumed to be the far end of the shelf. I was all good. The rain had allowed me to refill my water bladders and the jungle would provide my meals.

The thought of us humping all the way out here only to leave without Spud...for some reason that annoyed me to no end. If I were late getting back from a recon, would Mau-Mau or the others just leave? I spent the early night trying to find the right words to tell Mau-Mau that I wasn't going to leave without the mutt or knowing why he didn't come back.

The rattle of gunfire blasted me from a good sleep. After taking a second to check me out, I fought the urge to jump out of my hammock. Instead, I look out thru a gap in the leaves to see some shadowy figures in the near-daylight working along the ridge just above the shelf. If they were shooting, they couldn't be friendlies.

I stuck the barrel of my IW out from under my little shelter, aiming just in front of what I assumed to be the leading figure. Stroking the trigger, I walked my fire back to the last of them, keeping my aim low. When the bolt locked back, I slammed another magazine into the IW. Before I could fire again, another burst of gunfire lit up the dawn.

In the ensuing silence, I heard Mau-Mau shout "You good, Roscoe?"

"Yeah." No sense in saying more, these bastards could have friends.

"Then get your skinny ass up here." That wasn't shouted.

I found Mau-Mau some distance down the shelf. He'd found a crack or something in the rock and set up his poncho to cover his little hole. I'd passed his gear, now huddled in a bundle and shredded by what I assumed the gunfire. He was looking pale, blood was running down his arm. I didn't bother to ask, just pulled the aid kit from the remains of his harness and slapped the biggest bandage in the kit on the hole in his upper arm. With that in place, I checked out the rest of him. Other than some cuts, likely from flying rock, he seemed whole enough.

"You hurt anywhere else?" I know I looked, but you can easily miss something small. Small and fatal.

"Nah. Just the arm, I'll be good in a bit. We're going to have to haul ass. They know we're here." The last came out as mostly a grunt. "Before we go, check the eff'n deaders. Get any papers, grab anything else you can stuff in your pockets." He took a deep breath. "Get me a couple of magazines, I'm out. Get at least one of the weapons." Now he was panting.

"Want me to call for an evac?" I did have some training before I got in country. Little enough, but I could operate a squawker.

"With what?" He looked past me at bits of his gear scattered along the rocky shelf. "No. Right now, we gotta unass this place. Get up me upright and over the edge of this shelf. I'll head down while you see what you can get off the deaders." He paused then. Then added, "Make damn sure they're all dead. Cut their throats or whatever. But don't leave any of them alive." At my look he hastened to add, "Returning a favor, I found a couple of our guys…" he stopped talking because he'd passed out.

Crap, now what to do first? Mau-Mau wasn't going anywhere, so I checked the deaders first. Two had large chunks of their bodies missing. The IW used frangible ammo. The slugs would explode like a bomb in soft flesh. The third guy, the one in front was just..full of holes. Mau-Mau must have got him after I missed. I grabbed everything I could, including a harness off of one that wasn't soaked in blood, then I pushed Mau-Mau over the edge of the shelf with his carbine strapped over his chest.

Pulling my hammock down didn't take long and after ditching the dog chow I rucked up. I had to be in a hurry without being in a hurry. wrapping the remains of Mau-Mau's poncho around him, I headed downhill. The rest of his gear was shredded mess, I lost few seconds before deciding to kick all of it over the side. If pressed, I would lie and say I buried it. The intel pukes were welcome to come and look for themselves.

I had to put Mau-Mau out in front of me, the slope was so steep. As it was, we both mostly bounced off of trees and the rocks sticking up out of the duff before we got to the bottom of the steepest part. When we hit bottom, I had to take a breather and think about this ****. I could just drag Mau-Mau behind me. That would be the easiest way to move him. It would also leave a nice, deep trail for the Chinese or their buddies to follow. No good.

Instead, I gathered up all of my gear, along with all the other **** I'd picked up. I started walking right toward what I assumed to be the base of operation that launched the deaders rotting back on the shelf. I kept moving until I found a nice thick clump of bamboo. Dumping everything I had in the middle left me free to deal with Mau-Mau. If I got surprised, shooting my way out wasn't going to be an option anyway. Hiding us for a while, well, that might work.

Back with Mau-Mau, I took the time to drag him to the first stream I could find. Then, I got him up across my shoulders before heading for our little bamboo hide. Once I got Mau-Mau settled in, I went back and killed all of the sign I could find leading to our hide. Checking that my IW was full and that Mau-Mau's carbine was loaded came next. Once I was satisfied with my preps, I settled down and did the next sensible thing. I took a nap.

A kick to my ass served as a wakeup call. Since it was dark, I knew it was Mau-Mau. Otherwise, I'd be real dead about now. Rolling over, I crawled up to see what he might have to say. I was sure it would be…instructive.

"You okay?" seemed like a good opening.

"I'm alive and that's good enough for now."

That he said this in a normal voice was a surprise to me. If there was anyone around…

He must have seen my expression, because he added, "I heard the little ****ers pass us twice. Coming and going I suppose. Sounded like drunk pigs wandering around in the 'ville. This batch must be all urban types. Whatever." He stopped, obviously gathering his thoughts. Here what we do next…"

It took him a good 10 minutes to wind down. My answer was simple. "No. Make that, not a chance in Hell."

"And if I object to…"

"Mau-Mau, just stop. Look. I may be the new guy, but I'm not stupid. Give me some credit..."

Slashing his hand down, he cut me off. "You've been lucky, up to now, but I'm…"

My turn. "Not going anywhere without some help. A lot of help, if you'll face reality. Press charges when we get back, I don't give a fuck. I'm not leaving. Not without at least looking for Spud. Get pissed if you want, I don't care. I'm not going to leave him behind. If I can't find him, then we can head back." I didn't yell or wave my arms. I just stated simple fact. No way in Hell was I going to leave the mutt behind, period.

"That's it?" he waited for me to speak. When I stayed silent, he went on. "Just how so you think you can even find the mutt? He could be dead, he could be…"

"Be out there hurt and wondering if he was going to die right there." I pointed at him. "If Spud was just a regular dog, I'd still do this anyway. These NEOdogs are supposed to be as smart as… Well, plenty smart. If it was you out there, would you want me to split?" The silence was deafening. "I thought so. What I'm going to do, once it gets a bit later, is head that way," I pointed southeast, "cross the river above the one green patch I pointed out. I'll work my way down to each in turn. If Spud is anywhere around, I figure he would head to the edge of the tree-line and go to ground. That's what I'd do."

"Just how do plan on finding a dog in the dark?"

"I don't, Mau-Mau. I plan on him finding me. Face it, after all the humping we did, even after the rain, I think even a skunk can smell me. If he's alive, Spud will grunt or huff or something." I held up my hand to stop any reply. "Once daylight hits, I'll find another patch of this clumping bamboo and park my ass. Come back the same way. Then and only then - we beat feet. I can carry you over the passes at the end of each of the ridges."

"You are absolutely, shithouse rat, crazy."

"That may be true, but do you need anything before I take off? I'll leave a water bladder. I'm taking a bladder and this..." I held up the weird-ass looking machete I took off one of the deaders. "I should be back before full dark tomorrow. Sooner, if Spud is up by the smallest patch…"

"Suit yourself, Roscoe. You got your next-if-kin listed?"

"See you later." With that, I was off. Finding the river was easy. Crossing was simple enough after I half emptied the water bladder. I had to sit for a few minutes on the far side. A thankfully clear sky allowed me to spot the ridge by the lack of a starfield. Once squared away, I was off again.

I have this 'bump' for direction in my head. Always have had it. Even starting in the middle of a cane field, I could drive the machines right back to the shop, every time. Out planting trees in the forest to replace the ones cut…never missed getting back to camp. Geese have this, or so I'm told. I've never wondered where I was, just where I was headed. I never bothered to try and explain this ability to folks. They won't believe you anyway. Especially the ones that couldn't find their way out of a well-lit closet… It was no one's business anyway.

I hit the tree-line a bit sooner than I thought it would take. The ground on the far side of the river was packed gravel so I made pretty good time. I was working a search line along the outside edge of the true treeline, turns out you run facefirst into fewer trees that way. Long before I got the target clump of bamboo, I got a strong whiff of something nasty. Rancid cooking oil, mixed with cigarette smoke and topped off with more than a little excrement. Not quite as bad as the 'ville – that place was fetid squalor on steroids. This just…stank.

Cutting into the trees, I sat to give this development some real thought. If I could smell the camp this far out, Spud should have gotten a clue much sooner. What I didn't know was how the mutt got trained. Get a whiff, call it good and go home? Go up the source and see how big it is? I had no clue.

I had to think back to exactly how Mau-Mau set up the deal…. Find all the holes big enough for a man or men. I didn't how the rain affected Spud. Did it kill the scent? Would he press on in the rain? This was getting harder than my complex algebra homework from Skool.

I guess Mau-Mau was right, after all. While working my way up to what I assumed to be the backside of the camp, I tripped over Spud. Literally. I tripped over something in the dark that huffed at me. I whispered, "It's all good bud, just me. 'Course, I know you know that. How bad you hurt?" After running my hands all over the mutt, all I could feel was some wicked scratches, no running blood, no broken bones or open wounds. "You want some water?" He licked my hand, so I dumped water into my cap. It was gone fast enough, so it filled it again.

******
The trip back to the FOB took another full week. We had to dodge two patrols led by little guys in funny green outfits, likely the Chinese we has gone looking for in the first place. Before hitting the camp, Mau-Mau swapped out his little carbine for his issue weapon. We stashed all the ammo, including all of my unexpended rounds. The only comment he made during this was "I'll explain later." Good enough.

The debrief lasted several more days. I was happy that Mau-Mau made me repeat everything we'd cooked up on the way back. The one fly in our ointment was Spud. The Air Commando makes a big deal of being able to 'talk' with their NEOdogs. Damn if we could figure out how. Once we'd been put through the ringer, it was as if the entire event got swept under the rug.

Big Army, who can figure them out? Anyway about a month or two later we had an good sized Air Commando team pass through the camp. Hunter/Killer types. Everyone in the FOB stayed away. The Cee Dees would scare the crap out of anyone. Monsters, the lot.

I got called out to the LZ while the team was waiting for their lift. Some Ell Tee pointed at me and asked, "You the guy that went out with one of our recon NEOs a while back?"

"Yes. I went out with the team. May I ask why it matters?"

"You may. I wanted to let you know the name of the NEO you worked with is Jake, not Spud. Our bad for not telling you guys, but Killer is a real pain…" He waved his hand, "No matter, Jake said to get you squared away. You know, in case you two pull another op."

I could only stutter, "Ahhhh Okay. Anything else?"

The ell tee looked around to see who might hear, before saying "Just that you have a pair, my man. A big pair. Going out to look for Jake wasn't necessary. Just the same, we don't forget shit like that. You ever get a hair up your ass about running with the big dogs, just say the word."

Stunned, it took me some time before I could get out a lame ass "Thanks. I'm good here. Ahh. Would you let Jake know I never told Mau-Mau about him marking my Sargent's gear."

That got a good laugh. "Ya. Jake has a real attitude problem. But then, that's why he's one of our best recon types…" The whine of an incoming Pogo signaled an end to the meet. I headed back to the camp, wondering if I had really learned anything after all….

**************

This chapter goes toward the front of things - I decided I needed to beef up the start by a bit, this is the beef.....

I'm working with another person who wanted to collaborate on this book. Once I get the cover artwork sorted out, I'll put up something in the Books section. Enjoy.

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That was excellent! Thanks!!!!

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I liked it!

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very well done . thanks for sharing .


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Thanks for the kind words.

I find that writing in 'segments' like this is both easier (for me) and a lot more enjoyable than laying out and linking multiple chapters. Still treading water on the my artwork.

ETA

Well I'll be a monkey's Uncle - Country Comm makes a miniature Dilly bar! How odd is that?
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I woke up. That was a good sign. Sirona was sitting up, next to me and looking up at the edge of the depression where we had crashed. Fluffy was standing there with one CeeDee. Since we weren't dinner, I figured we were golden, at least for now.

Sirona spoke softly, "We need to go with Ruf…Fluffy and this CeeDee. Seems we need to leave right now. Your ride stays here." With that, she stood and started walking up slope to meet with the mutts.

I didn't bother to grab my gat from under Rosie's seat. It wouldn't make much of a difference to a CeeDee and with the NEOs around; I figured they could take care of any visitors. Their turf, their fight.

We walked until after dark. I'd learned long ago that bitching out loud accomplished nothing and only pissed off any of the folks traveling with you. We would stop when the mutts stopped. Without a chron, I could guess we'd been at it for a few hours. So, maybe, now we were eight or so Kay from Rosie. Given that we were on the edge of the Settlement Lands, we could walk for days without finding any habitation or more importantly, water.
The hut popped up out of the dark. As we approached, the door opened. The man standing there just stood aside, and invitation to enter that was impossible to miss. Sirona waited for me to enter and then followed. The man, still silent, just shut the door from outside. Once the door shut, low level light flooded down from the roof.

The hut was empty of any furnishings, the floor was covered with…woven grass mats, or so I assumed. The light also showed two CeeDees laying on the floor. A smaller mutt, smaller even that Fluffy, sat to the side. With the four of us added to the total population, the place still seemed empty.

"Roscoe, have a seat over by the door." Sirona's voice was as soft as ever, but I sensed an undertone that made my inner monkey nervous. She took a seat by the largest of the NEOs. What happened next was…surreal. The little guys both danced and did the ear wiggle thing, the NEOs just looked me over, as one might examine a bug. How long this went on, I couldn't say.

Once more, Sirona's voice broke the dead silence. "Roscoe, the NEO's have decided that I can stay. My…ability to communicate with both humans and NEO's seems to offer enough to have offset any danger that I may represent to the…colony."

My gasp was loud enough to echo inside the hut. I barely managed to keep my piehole closed.

Sirona continued with pause. "I am so sorry to say that Rufster has decided to stay here. He will miss you, but…" Her voice trailed off, as if unable to continue. Finally, she found her voice again, "He asked that you…convey …his, err, love to Tess. I'm really sorry, Roscoe, but this is good as I can translate something as complex as what Rufster is trying to communicate. There is so much emotion that accompanies his full set of thoughts that I cannot express. I feel so…limited. If only you had a…"

I cut her off before she could finish the thought. "I don't have one, so just leave it be." I turned to look at Fluffy. "I get it, Buddy. These are your…people? Clan? This really is where you belong." I had to stop there, as my throat had closed shut. Losing the little fuzzball was going to leave one Hell of a hole in my life, but Fluffy deserved to be someplace where he could have a shot at… I dunno, happiness? That my life would suck didn't enter into it.

Before I could say more, the big NEO…growled? He had made an impossible to miss noise anyway. When I looked to the NEO – the monster looked to Sirona. This was going to be interesting…

Sirona looked closely at the big NEO before turning to me. "MacMac,"she lightly touched the NEO, "wishes that I express his…gratitude or perhaps a deep sense of debt is a better expression, for your bringing Rufster here to the colony. He is also asking you for a favor. Roscoe, this request is something that is very difficult for him with the…debt he feels is owed to you."

She stopped there and sobbed out loud. To my surprise, the big NEO put his massive head on Sirona's lap. I had no idea what was playing out. So I did what I always do in this kind of situation – sit still and wait for the storm to pass.

Finally, she took in a deep breath. "I'm sorry, Roscoe. I feel that I'm so inadequate in expressing MacMac's full…message. He is asking a favor of you, one that he would understand if you refuse…"

"Oh, for the sake of Peter, spit it out already. Good Lord, how bad can it be?"

What the Hell? I'd just lost my travel and beer drinking buddy. I'd also gained the unwanted attention of the Bandit's that apparently supplied illegal human clones to the Sugarman. The attention of Slavers in every sense of the word. Bad hombre's all around, judging by the hole in my colors. What could possibly be any worse than that?

Before Sirona could speak again, the other little NEO in the room walked over and sat next to me. That's when she dropped the bombshell.

"MacMac would appreciate your taking Jake here to the other NEO colony. They live in the bayou country east of the Texas Republic. Rufster told us that you have worked somewhere in the area at one time. The idea from the…leaders here is that if the area can support a larger population of their kind, they would be safer in the swamps than here in the desert. Food would be easier to come by, if nothing else."

She paused for a second before speaking again. "Jake was chosen as the colony's…uummmm, emissary. Communication between the two groups is sketchy, at best. MacMac doesn't want to risk a move without knowing this group would be welcome."

Well, that was interesting. It now looked like Jonesie managed to leave a few things out, maybe a lot of things. Like whole colonies of NEOs. I also had a few things going on my side that were in direct conflict with this…request. I wanted to be back with Tess, the whole life on the road thing was getting old. It had also been a very long time since I got my ashes hauled as well. I still couldn't overlook the fact that my ass was worth a lot more dead than alive for too many people. Shit, all this made going back to the Gut start to look good…

Now it was my turn. "Okay. I get that. Carry your little messenger here across 1,500 kicks of open territory. This across a place where even being around a NEO is a certain prison gig. Not to be rude, but -- what's in it for me?"

That just made me sound like a complete dick, but it didn't matter. There had to be an upside for me, before I could even consider the trip. I had no idea what had happened to Yellow Feather, or why, but the results looked awfully permanent to me as we blew past this place.

Sirona looked at the floor as she spoke. "We all know you have wealth at your commend that is….difficult for us to fully understand. That is of no matter, as the NEOs have nothing to offer that way." She took a long pause, before adding this, "I would gladly offer myself to you, but Rufster tells me you are….bonded with a Tess. I am nothing you would consider, so again, little to nothing can be offered by me." She looked up, tears filling her eyes.

"Tell me this Roscoe. When you were living on the Trench, what did you dream of? Money? Women?"

Damnit – she had there. "No, Sirona. I dreamed of a home. A home where I can live freely and in peace. Something every Grunt dreams of, even if they know it will likely never happen for them…."

"That's the same dream of MacMac and the Clan. The NEOs are different, Roscoe, I can't deny that. But that dream, the dream of a home – that is something that is common between us all…"

Standing, I threw out "I gotta think shit this over.." before blowing out the door of the hut.

Damnit, why is it always me?
******

I'm going to graft this onto the earlier segment where I left Roscoe and Rosie sitting in an arroyo...

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Thanks!

Very much appreciated...continues to add depth and opening up the sequel!

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Road trip!

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Thank you for the new segment! :clap: :clap:

It was worth the wait.

Hope for more, soonest. 8-)

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Just wanted to hop on and say THANKS! I was really enjoying this story glad you picked it back up for the time being. Only got a couple paragraphs in the first entry but it's all coming back! Yippie!

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This is a partial rewrite, it has new material.
I decided that my "Africa has bad stuff going on" vague references wasn't going to make it. Also, readers will appreciate (or so I'm told) a bit more meat at the start.
So, this.
The original opening prologue (Roscoe wins the lottery) will be followed by this. This should set the tone and offer some insight to the Universe involved.

To my fans here - I rarely post personal stuff, but you all have been most kind.

I've been less active in posting my writing here as I've just spent a fair amount of time watching my Dad pass on. Buried him 3 weeks ago. It was his decision to execute the bold faced procedure for ending things here and starting the next chapter of his eternal journey. As he put it to the Doc - "Eff this shit, my bags are packed" And so we all said "til we meet again".

And so, here I am.

As you might imagine, this episode in my life has been...disruptive to the kind of thought process that produces Roscoe stories.

*****************
Happy Birthda
y

Not quite sure of how to title this paper made finishing the work…difficult.

Father always said, when asked, that you had to set the hook in the first few paragraphs to keep the reader. On the other hand, a dissertation on the global effects of a massive volcanic explosion wasn't ever going to sell on the general market.

Hell, so few people even knew how to read anymore, the data in this paper would sit, mostly unread, even if it were accepted. So much of the information I'd been forced to use had come from dubious sources – mostly the Government, I fully expected the paper to be rejected outright. Just the same, a snappy title could get me the grade I wanted - passing.

"Atmospheric River of Death : Mechanism of Airborne Transport of Sulfur Laden Ash to Africa via the Trade Winds"

Okay, that conveyed the basics, but…dull. Still, it had the now requisite colon and double phrasing, so a good start. I'd at least run it past Dad.

"Sulfuric Aerosol Deposition in Midlatitude Africa : The Montserrat Cloud of Death"

Uuummm. Just - No. I scratched that line out.

"Deadly Side-effects of Sulfur-laden Ash : The Genesis of the Montserrat Collapse in Africa"

Better, to the point and still had the colon and double phrasing. Another one to run past Dad.

I went back to the dissertation. Acid rain had killed off massive amounts of African croplands. Acid rain caused by the sulfur aerosols in the ash ejected by Montserrat when the island itself exploded, disappearing in less than an hour. Here today, gone this afternoon. Weird.

The resulting tsunami had devastated the Americas, but recovery was ongoing. Africa had been poisoned. Entire counties had collapsed in the aftermath of widespread starvation and the resulting social upheaval. No recovery was possible or so it seemed.

That was too broad of a subject for me to cover in a monograph, let alone an entire a book series. No, I had to take the easy way out – merely working to diagram the transport mechanism of the Trade Winds that had moved the ash to Africa and spreading it wide enough to kill everything it touched. The paper nearly wrote itself, my family were all farmers after all.

With my birthday coming up this week, taking the easy way out would have to do. I submitted the paper with the simple title, "Winds of Death for Africa in the aftermath of Montserrat". Hitting the Enter key ended any debate. It would fly or not. In the meantime, I had to get on with my life.

What a fun birthday…..

My world ended for the first time just before my 18th birthday. Dad called the family together to break the news to us. To boost profits, the Corporation who owned the farm where we lived and worked would now rent out our home. The place where I grew up was up for bid. My former life and all of my plans, hopes and dreams was gone in an instant. Certainly it was going to the highest bidder.

Because he worked for the same Corporation that was tossing us out, Dad said he couldn't afford the minimum bid for the place. That's when he let us know the Corporation also cancelled our status as tenant workers. Since sharecroppers cost less, the bastards stood to make even more profits. People are more than fungible. Cash is king. All hail the king.

Happy, effing, Birthday.

We left the next morning. There was no choice. It made no sense to fight the status change. If we stuck around, a labor enforcement squad would arrive to bust up what little we did own. Then, after that, they would start busting us up. Dad loaded Mom and the other kids in the truck. They left for a place he knew of in the one of the old Canadian Providences. Once there, he'd hoped to get some work. Dad sort of apologized but told me I was on my own. Had no choice, he said. I suppose he was right.

I found out, many, many years later that my dissertation was so well received, I'd been offered a full ride scholarship. Something so rare as to be unheard of in my lifetime. Our terminal service had been cut earlier as a 'incentive' to move, more a warning in real life. And so, another opportunity went down the crapper. I guess it was better not to know at the time, it would have made leaving even more painful.

I loaded up my cyclo and headed for a harvesting operation in the area. These operations are always on the move. As a result, they had a constant need for drivers and mechanics. At least I wouldn't have to worry about my next meal. Or so I'd thought. Little did I know.

I learned a lot my first two years after I left home.

The first thing I learned was - just because someone works with you, doesn't mean they won't try to steal everything you own first chance they get. They most certainly will, sometimes while you're watching them steal from you.

So, I learned to fight. Then, I had to learn how to win in a no rules fight. That was a painful transition but may have saved me later in life...

Because of worker turnover, you couldn't afford to trust anyone. Ever. I got lucky, I only lost my canvas hammock, not a killer. Losing my hammock just meant that I had to sleep in the dirt and crud found on the floor in the 'worker housing' that some farms provided.

Not all farms gave you a place out of the weather to sleep. At too many other places, I just crashed in the tractor cab, there wasn't even a shelter. Didn't matter in the least. Quit and 20 other people are there to take your place. Working sunup to sundown was nothing new. Farm work is hard work. Having no real place to sleep was a bit of an...adjustment.

The next big thing I learned was that sometimes you can get something for free that will wind up you costing damn near every credit you own.

The medic told me I was damn lucky. The kind of VD I picked was the least expensive to treat. It took nearly every credit I had, but at least my member wasn't going to fall off. Or that I was going to die.

There is some stuff floating around that is just fatal. Not something that was taught in Skool. I was more than a little pissed that Dad hadn't said something - but he may have been as clueless as me. Dunno, his business, not mine. I've learned that lesson and paid the dues.

Other fun things I learned...

Never drink with the people you work with. You might wake up dead.

I've seen that happen. Sadly, more than once. That the pigs treated murder so casually was a real wake up for me. Pigs are not your friend. They had given up on the Serve and Protect crap a long time ago. Those that paid them got the protection. Period. Everyone else could just suck wind. Bastards.

Put some of your processed food away at each meal.

Why stash food? If it rains, you don't work. If you don't work, you don't eat. Start looking for a winter job - well, you should always be on the lookout for a winter job. One that offered room and board. Credits are one thing, but a warm, safe place to crash and eats aren't taxed. At least I don't pay 'em.

My first winter job was at a heavy equipment rebuild shop. It paid two meals a day, hot, and a decent enough place for me to sleep. Sunday mornings off. The owner was a real work of art. Insisted on paying me everyday. He made a big show of putting credits on my chit, very theatrical.

The first weekend I worked for him, I hit a local food outlet and checked my credit balance. I honestly wasn't surprised to see the SOB had snatched back almost half of my daily wage. I guess for my meals that were supposed to be part of my wages.

I could live with that. After all, two could play a game. Every second he wasn't around, I worked on rebuilding my scoot, using his tools, parts and material. Seemed fair to me. I get half pay, he gets half the work. Bastard.

Once things turned warm, I loaded up on his fuel. Grabbed all the food the scoot could carry and headed for the breadbasket looking for a planting outfit. I wasn't just burning a bridge. I knew I would never work for the slug again, but hated walking away from a gig that had Chow. Just the same, right now my scoot was running pretty sweet.

I learned I wasn't nearly as smart or skilled as I thought.

That has got to be the hardest lesson for a kid to learn. Life will teach you just how smart you are not, sure as hell - often grinding your face in it. Again and again. At least I learned to stop falling into the same hole more than once. Sometimes, I was able to avoid the hole altogether. I got by.

I was offered a gig as a labor enforcer. They were a licensed outfit, so I took the offer. The Corporate management types rarely bothered to get their shoes dirty. They actively pushed anything that even remotely looked like work down the chain to someone else. The Supervisors damn sure weren't going to deal with firing someone and putting them off the property. So, labor enforcers provided that service.

It took me more than a few bruises, but I finally figured out who would leave with a little encouragement and which ones wanted a fight. The stoners were always the worst. There was just no way to tell how they would react. Some were so mellow or stoned; you could lead then by the hand off the property, shutting the gate before it dawned on them what that meant to them. The scrappers were the worst.

Most outfits didn't give a damn what you did off the clock. You showed up reasonably sober and ready to work, everyone was happy. Show up a little more than stoned or ripped, you might lose a day's wages. There was always somebody just outside the gate happy for a chance to work for a few days. Hunger will do that to you.

Show up stoned enough to shove a coworker into the maw of a harvester and now nobody was happy. Least of all the shredee. I didn't actually see the guy get shredded. One of my squaddies swore he was there when it happened. Yeah. Right. Legendary stuff, that. Just the same, that was one I was happy to miss.

The biggest thing my squaddies did teach me was how to sort out the worst of the worst by their teeth. Hygiene was optional for most the crews, you had to get past that part pretty fast. Bad gleamers is a sure sign of heavy drug use and certain trouble for any Enforcer squad. Before it was all over, the two of us would travel with the recruiter team just to offer an opinion how fast we would have to bust someone's head to get them off the property.

The down side was that everyone hated you. Everyone. The gomer who eff'd up and got tossed. The stoner or Tunehead that got put out. The local pigs thought, no, make that they knew that you were stealing rice from their bowl. In many ways, the pigs were much worse that the scrappers. The scrappers don't get to carry firearms.

The end of season was always the worst. Everyone on the crew got tossed with the exception of a mechanic or two selected for the routine winter rebuilds and a couple of Enforcers kept on to ensure as little as possible walked away in the off season. Pretty funny situation if you think about it for very long. The very people that Corporate manager's crapped on each day were trusted to keep everything nailed down tight. Had to be some ugly surprises in their lives, eh?

Things just kept getting harder and harder. Smaller crews, more work, less pay and finally, less food. Nobody had any idea of just why this was going on. The open media was a bad mix of full time advertising and rumor mongering. Food production down, they said. I knew that was BS. All the food was going to Africa, more dough could be made there. That made more sense. Speculators were sitting on huge amounts of food to sell at scalper prices later in the season. Now, that story was one I could believe. Bastards.

So I just tried to get by until everything ran out and I was looking for work again. Several of the outfits folded altogether and the couple that remained pretty much just paid in food. When I saw the first of the automated harvesters working on the farm next to the one we were on, I knew that was it.

My world ended again. All that was left to me was to decide what was possible to keep my body and soul together. I'd been hungry more than once. Dead was something I really wanted to avoid.

So, I went to see the Army shop.

Happy Birthday, again.....

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**All my books ** some with a different view of the "PAW". Check 'em out.
Adventures in rice storage//Mod your Esbit for better stability


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 7:42 pm 
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Thank you Tac for sharing your stories...whether it's the wonderful fiction you spin or real life.

God's speed to your father.

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