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 Post subject: Re: LINK STATE
PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 9:10 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: LINK STATE
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2016 11:28 am 
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CHAPTER NINE
Valerie started to get nervous as she turned down the hallway that led to the battalion’s barracks. The air in the barren hallway seemed filled with tension.
The CQ desk was manned as always, but the guard seemed to stare past her to the entrance as she walked by. He glanced at her bag and said, “Hey Val, get some shopping in?” before returning his attention to the entrance. She followed his gaze down the hall to try and pick up on what kept his attention with little success, “Yeah, still forgot to get veggies though. What’s in the cafeteria for dinner tonight?”
He stuck out his tongue and made a face in disgust. The whole exchange seemed normal, but his focus on the entrance made her uneasy. At her door she set her packages down and glanced casually toward the rec room. It surprised her that the only people in the room were corporals and sergeants seated close to one another around the pool table. Not a private to be seen. That sent up all of the red flags. She could not get into her room fast enough. Once inside she took to unpacking. First the stuff she actually bought. After putting it away she went to the bag Marcus gave her. She put it on her coffee table and looked inside. The note on top read:
PUT IT ALL ON. DON’T TAKE IT OFF UNTIL I CONTACT YOU. MEMORIZE EVERYTHING.
WE ARE LEAVING IN TWO DAYS. DO IT NOW.
Under that, a sealed envelope, that once opened, revealed a list of instructions and people’s names. She sat down on the couch and started pulling things out of the bag. At least now she could understand the bag’s weight. It contained a lot more than she expected.
First out, a stiff vest, obviously made for a female, with rigid cups in the front and flares for hips at the bottom, yet built light enough and thin enough to wear under clothes and not appear bulky. The instructions on the inside of the vest packaging recommended that an undershirt be worn beneath it the first time it is worn, and that the wearer stand under a shower as hot as she can bear and tighten it every five minutes until it can no longer be adjusted.
Once out of the shower, the recommendations were to remove body armor and replace the undershirt. Body armor should be dry at this time, as it uses the hot water in a chemical process. This should be interesting is all that came to mind. The next item in the bag was another vest, thinner than the first and filled with small pockets. The vest, a standard escape and evasion issue, carried everything a downed pilot needed; a radio, compass, first aid, a shelter, and a complete list of survival equipment. Except for the fact that it weighed a lot more, it seemed like a normal vest.
Twenty minutes of inventory and instructions later, she stood in a very hot shower in a t-shirt pulling on the straps of the body armor. It did exactly what the instructions said it would, it became pliable and fitted itself to her body. Fifteen minutes after that, she wore a dry, exact, comfortable, replica of her torso. It had just enough give to make moving feel normal, but rigid enough to not need a bra underneath it. It also seemed to breathe pretty well. Her black market mind thought, I should have saved this and sold it, if it actually stops bullets. I bet it is worth a fortune.
She kind of felt the same way about the survival vest that went over it. Once they were both on, she sat on the couch and turned on the entertainment monitor. The armor and survival kit were comfortable and unless you knew what to look for, no one would even know she had it on. Later, watching a movie on her monitor she realized, in two days I am probably going to smell funny.
The next morning came and went without as much as a loud noise outside in the hall. She did venture out to go to the cafeteria in the barracks to test out her new attire, and more specifically, because she had told the CQ desk the truth—she didn’t have much food in her room. She stopped by the desk and asked if there were maneuvers going on. The CQ officer just gave her the, “I can’t tell you anything”, look that his training had programmed into him when conversing with civilians.
She just smiled and continued on her hunt for food. The cafeteria remained oddly quiet while she purchased her food, but she returned to her room before it began to bother her.
Marcus left for work earlier than usual. He wanted to stop by the aviation tower on the way. The corner of the outer wall had been built up to a tower to about thirty feet above the catwalk. There were no elevators, just internal stairs leading to the top. As he climbed them he made a mental note on the vantage point. It would make a great place for an anti-aircraft launcher.
The guard at the desk behind the first door looked surprised when he opened it.
Apparently they didn’t get too many visitors. He flashed his I.D. and the guard told him he could enter when the buzzer sounded. He pushed a button on the desk and said, “One visitor to enter.” The reply seemed to take forever, “Did you say we had a visitor?” The guard almost yelled into the intercom, “Yes! Recovery Commander Schiffle would like to come in, please. Open the door.” The door buzzed loudly until he pulled it open. The soldier on the other side of the door apologized immediately, “Sorry Sir, it’s just unusual to have visitors as often as we have. I don’t think I saw the last commander once during his entire command.”
“It’s okay, I just need to speak to your air traffic control officer.” The soldier stepped out of the way and let Marcus come into the control tower. The semi-circular room was paneled with monitors mimicking the windows above them in a perfect overlay. A silver haired gentleman in light green fatigues turned around from his seat at a console and said, “That would be me, Colonel Schiffle.” He stood and approached him, “Captain Dumas. How can I help you?”
Marcus didn’t want this conversation to be the talk of the base, “Is there someplace we can talk, Captain?” The Captain pointed to a door, “My office, if you please.” The captain beat him to the doorway, opened the door for him and closed it behind them. The small office was a miniature version of the control room proper. Marcus started as soon as the door clicked. “Thank you for your help the other day Captain; I made a note in my report that the exercises were a success because of your professionalism.” The captain, pleased by the praise of his base commander, said, “Thank you, sir. I was just doing my job.”
Well captain, unfortunately I need you to do it again.” The captain straightened almost coming to attention, “What do you need Sir?” Marcus sighed, knowing his request would be followed and what that would mean to the captain, “I need you to follow the base aviation rules to the letter for the next two days.” The captain nodded and Marcus continued. “No, ‘oh, I forgot’, or, ‘oh hey, can you let this slide,’— followed to the letter.” When the captain started to protest, Marcus raised his hand, “No offense intended, but if it wants to take off, it has to have pre-registered clearance per the S.O.P. Everything that even warms up its engines gets reported to me. You okay with that?”
“Yes Sir. You know there are policies that say if we are under alert and it takes off without clearance, we shoot it down?” “Yes I do,” Marcus said without hesitation, “and I am counting on you to do your job to the best of your abilities.”
The Captain’s mouth tightened and his body became rigid. “Sir! We will perform our duties without hesitation.” They went together back into the control room. The captain’s return to his normal demeanor impressed Marcus as he watched him resume command of the tower. The cards are definitely stacked in my favor, he thought as he left the tower.
From the top of the rampart at the bottom of the tower he could see the raised flight deck. It looked like a stage for a music concert. It wasn’t until someone walked among the aircraft that you realized the size of the deck. The aircraft were almost all combat vehicles belonging to the air assault battalion and the interdiction teams. Those were very similar in design. Somewhere in some industrial complex someone got the idea that a rotating prop Osprey should be mated to a VTOL jet, so the offspring would be a jet powered helicopter that really could make some speed in a straight flight path.
The added benefit, that no one really saw until the design could fly, being the lift capability of the four jet engines all pointing at the ground. The aircraft had grown somewhat larger in the last decade, but otherwise remained unchanged. They could carry forty men, or twenty men and their assault vehicles to an objective. The interdiction team heavies stood out a little with all of the armament modifications, but they were essentially the same aircraft.
The rest of the aircraft on the platform were medevac helicopters, electronic counter measure birds, as well as a few VTOL jets and recon craft. All in all, a nice little air force. Now, if he could just keep control of it.
When he stopped by his office there were two all-terrain vehicles sitting in the courtyard. They were equipped and dressed out for a recon trip outside the walls. They attracted very little unwanted attention; combat vehicles in front of the barracks usually meant a training exercise had been planned and that, in and of itself, kept most of the privates from getting too close. Pleased by the loadout of the vehicles Marcus went into the office to find Bishop.
Bishop sitting at his desk without his normally cheerful demeanor said, “Good morning Sir. Did you take a look at the loadout? Hope that is what you were looking for.”
Marcus paused at the desk, “Yeah, it looks good. When you talked the quartermaster into giving you an extra full kit, what size did you get?” Bishop kept typing and responded quietly. “A small,” not able to stifle a smile.
“Bishop, are you reading my mind now?” Marcus stared at him with what he considered his stern face.
Bishop quit smiling, “Yes Sir!” He looked down at his keyboard for a moment before they both started laughing.
“That’s enough out of you private; you got anything for me this morning?”
Bishop gave his commander his full attention, “No Sir. There is nothing out of the ordinary.”
Marcus took that as a good sign, “Okay, when you get a chance, stuff the extra equipment into our command vehicle. I want you to check comms before you take off for the night, too.” Bishop proceeded to gather up the body armor and extra supplies, “I got it Sir, and I won’t file anything until close of business today. Nothing will appear on any rosters until were gone.”
“Okay Bishop, I am heading over to the interdiction battalion barracks. When I am done there, I am heading to my quarters. I will be there until we kick off the festivities. Do you have any questions for me?”
Bishop quit stacking and sorting, “You have any restrictions on my kit or can I load out with what I want?”
Marcus thought the question odd, “As long as you have the minimum, everything else is up to you. I have seen your combat records; I have no concerns about your preferences.” Bishop picked up the sorted pile of equipment and headed for the door.
“Roger that Sir!” Marcus opened all of the doors for Bishop, leading him through the doors to the courtyard. Bishop said, “I will call if anything happens.” As Bishop arrived at the vehicles, Marcus responded, “Thank you private. I will see you when I see you.” Private Bishop laid the equipment on the front seat, turned and saluted, which Marcus returned and they parted company.
The short walk to the interdiction battalion gave Marcus just enough time to clear his mind. His relationship with the battalion would make or break this assignment. He second-guessed himself and how he had dealt with the battalion commander. Once again the situation would be out of anyone’s control. Waging war with this many variables made him nervous. This meeting would probably decide the outcome.
When he came into view of the CQ desk he watched the guard pick up the phone. He hung it up just about the same time he arrived in front of the person manning it. The soldier at the desk said, “He is expecting you, Sir.” When he went to stand Marcus waived him off. “I can open the door. Man your desk. You are more important out here.” The soldier looked grim and it made Marcus wonder how good their intel had been. The halls were almost empty.
Marcus let himself into the office to find the battalion commander seated at his desk with his hands clasped in front of him, “How can I help you, Sir?” The condescending tone barely detectable. This is going to be fun, thought Marcus. “How squared away are your troops right this second, commander?”
He leaned back in his chair, his face still gave Marcus the creeps, “Did you come here just to insult me commander?”
Marcus almost laughed out loud at the cliché of the conversation, “I would rather save lives. Where are all your men?” If Marcus had to pick a flaw in the man seated in front of him, it would definitely be pride.
“I thought it would be a good time to do an inspection of all their combat equipment. We just got done and they are putting all the equipment back and pulling the stuff from supply that is missing or broken. We had been due for a while.”
“That is very convenient,” said Marcus.
Commander Kaehn’s response was nonchalant, “Just everyday business commander. How can I help you?” He leaned forward and smiled, Marcus thought someone should say something to Mr. Meatmask here about his appearance.
“Is your loadout for the quick reaction force sixty men and vehicles on four birds?”
Commander Kaehn, a little more interested in the conversation, responded, “For the most part Commander. That—plus a command vehicle and a heavy weapons team. Why do you ask?”
Marcus raised his hand, “That implies a fifth Bird. I have two questions. How disruptive would it be to the teams to move them around on the transport roster? And two— what is your response time to a call out?”
Now Marcus had his attention, “Our QRF policy is the reaction force being skids up in an hour. As for the bird loadout, it changes and is pretty mission specific. It won't even raise an eyebrow. I think I have answered enough questions. Why don't you tell me what you actually need.”
“What I need is a full interdiction assault team, plus one vehicle, equipment, and crew.” “That's not a problem…”
Marcus raised a hand to interrupt him mid-sentence, “I need it about fifteen minutes after the call out.” The battalion commanding officer leaned back and whistled, “I knew you were gonna come to us, so I have been shaking the tree a little without attracting too much attention, but a fifteen minute load and lift is going to be a cluster-fuck if we don't have prep time. I assume you suspect a leak in the intel line?”
Marcus said without tone or implication, “Yeah, we need to go with no warning. This is going to go loud and fast and we can't show our hand until the troops are loading the bird. If we do, we could start taking hits on the platform. I would rather we didn't have to get into a fire fight here.”
The man on the other side of the desk started to assimilate the information and after a moment said, “Sir, it will be a cluster- fuck, but it will be an organized one. I can guarantee that you will have a functional assault force on the ground…” he paused thinking about how much he wanted to give away and caved, “at the reactor site.”
Marcus just nodded at the information. Leaning forward, he offered his hand across the desk. “Thank you, commander.” The commanding officer of the interdiction battalion shook his hand and simply said, “I will see you when I see you.” Marcus understood the meaning. The unconventional warfare community tended to look out for each other. Marcus felt like he just got dealt another face card in the poker hand that represented his life. His next stop would be the hole card.
Leaving the office he could tell that the CQ officer tried to read him. Marcus attempted to reveal as little as possible to the base grapevine. He turned and walked down the corridor. He felt a tug at the corner of his mind as he passed Valerie's quarters. Once past the door, he checked in with Ezra.
“Ezra?” The response took longer than he would have liked.
“Yes Marcus?”
Marcus responded, “The interdiction commander is on board, more or less. He thinks he can give us what we want.”
The response from Ezra much faster this time, “Have you talked to his men that have been trained?” Marcus walked briskly to the end of the hallway, “I am there now, have you been to the flight line?” Another long pause from Ezra, “Not yet, but within the hour.” Marcus stopped at the door that had a giant warning sign on it and said, “I will contact you after.” The line went dead. Marcus thought the conversation odd, but surmised that Ezra must be in the middle of something.
In truth, Ezra took the call from an apartment in the residential section that housed both military and civilian. Not necessarily a slum, but not a wealthy section either. The choice seemed well thought out to Ezra, but transparent none the less. The apartment interior was a little on the small side, but very comfortable. The body on the floor stood out, maybe even more so by being completely ignored. The other man in the room stopped inspecting the radio equipment on a small desk in the corner and turned with total astonishment on his face, “Marcus? As in Marcus Schiffle? You did not bring me into an op with Marcus Schiffle—are you fucking crazy? Do you know what he is going to do when he finds out I am here. He is going to fucking kill both of us!”
Ezra knelt down and gently put a towel under the corpse’s head to keep the blood from spreading. Nothing visible gave away the cause of death except the suppressed pistol in Ezra’s hand. “He might actually kill you, now that I think about it. Me, he would probably forgive me.”
“That shit ain’t funny, Ezra. I am not joking. I don’t think I can be a part of this anymore. You’re gonna have to find a different shooter. I know its short notice, but shit, you could take the shot yourself in a pinch if you can’t find anyone else. I gotta get the fuck out of here.”
Ezra, finished making the corpse comfortable, stood and re-holstered the pistol in the depths of his shirt. “Rafael, you have not even asked me what you were going to be shooting. You are usually more curious than that.”
“I don’t fucking care what this asshole brought to the dance, it ain’t worth dying over.” Ezra shrugged as he moved to the couch and pulled a long heavy plastic case from under it. Rafael looked from the door to the couch, “Look, I don’t care what’s in there,” he said, walking towards Ezra, the couch and the case. “I don’t care what’s in there at all.”
Looking over Ezra’s shoulder as he popped the latches on the front of the case, “It is not worth…” Ezra opened the case, “Oh holy mother of God! Is that a real M21? A real issued M14— converted to a sniper rifle—M21?”
Ezra said quietly, “I thought you were not interested.”
Rafael edged around Ezra to stand in front of the case, “It looks like it is brand new! It’s over 100 years old and it looks brand new! Where the hell did he get something like that? They are not just lying around.”
Ezra stepped back in front of Rafael, blocking his view and closing the case. “It is brand new. It had been delivered to the Special Forces museum at Fort Bragg after being used in a ceremony for the winner of a president’s 100 shooting competition. The winner, an ex-special forces soldier, wanted to do something nice for the community at Bragg. It is a military built, match target M14 converted to the M21 sniper system. The color guard delivered it unfired except for the sight in target. Which I am told consisted of a quarter inch three round group. You don’t have one of these do you?”
The joke was definitely lost on Rafael, “No one! Has! One of those! How did you know he had it and how did you find this guy?”
“I spent a lot of time looking at the black market for high-end equipment in the area. I figured these guys would not be able to bring everything they needed. The rifle, after it had been stolen, went to a private collector. It pretty much fell off the radar, until someone saw it in a mansion in a very eccentric collection of sniper rifles in the Pennsylvania territories. When a guarded package, shipped by the rail guild from there to the same location as an encryption package for civilian phones, I knew I had the last shooter. The residence is what threw me off. When this guy got off the transport, he just disappeared into thin air.” Rafael nodded at the list of details.
“I had assumed they were all using safe houses, which is why I couldn’t find him. He killed the resident.” Ezra continued as he moved to the radios on the table, “He killed him and took over everything; bills, mail, everything. That is why I had such a hard time. The safe houses were easy; new rentals, all cash, short term, they stood out. This one was a pain, at least until he got the rifle.”
“Ok, I’m in, but if Schiffle kills me, I am never going to forgive you. I still get paid and I get the rifle, no questions asked!”
“There never are, Mr. Ochoa. There never are. These civilian phones have pretty good audio quality. Do you think you can sound convincing?” Rafael picked up one the boom mics attached to the small civilian transceiver. “They will expect lots of whispering from a guy in a hide. It shouldn’t be a problem. Do you have a recording of his voice?” he asked, pointing to the body on the floor. Ezra pulled his data pad out of his pocket and played the man’s recorded answering service, “This, I believe, is his voice,” he said as he hit play. “Yeah, if I didn’t answer I probably didn’t want to talk to you.”
Rafael cleared his throat, “Yeah, if I didn’t answer...” Ezra winced and shook his head. “Yeah, if I didn’t answer...” he looked to Ezra who shrugged. “Yeah, if I didn’t answer...”
Ezra pursed his lips and nodded, “Not bad. That should do over a phone used as a radio.”
Rafael agreed, “Yeah, lots of whispering and the crypto should mask me enough. Have we heard this group on the radio yet? Do you have call signs or anything?” Ezra shook his head no, “This group is pretty dispersed, we are not even sure they know each other.”
Rafael put the receiver in his ear, “I will start monitoring now just in case they do a radio check. Hopefully, I will get in the loop early. Try to get you some intel to corroborate what you already got.”
Ezra just nodded and said, “Just going to wait until someone doesn’t answer a call sign?”

Rafael shrugged, “No problem at all. Hey where’s the guy who lived here?” Ezra pointed at the refrigerator. Rafael continued “Ew! Ok, that’s nasty. Where did this guy keep his food?” Ezra with the exact same expression pointed at the refrigerator again. Rafael gagged a little and said, “Okay, that’s just wrong.”
The door in front of Marcus had a security warning regarding the opening and closing of it. Once through, the next door had a more serious and unusual warning. This door opens to the outer perimeter. It locks automatically. Security pass code required for re-admittance.
Marcus opened the door and went outside. The base of the wall, where the wall bastions protruded had been made into a small open air dwelling. When he opened the door, a sharp movement caught his attention. Marcus just assumed that the door didn't get opened very often. As he walked toward the shelter he could see his welcoming party forming. The hardened men gave each other looks, but very few spoken words.
One man came forward, “We have come to the conclusion that you are lost. Why don't you just make your way back over to the door and we will open it, so you can go back inside.”
So these were the men he had trained. They were impressive in appearance to be sure. The man speaking wore a very interesting mix of military issue equipment and indigenous counterparts. The clothes were modified as well. Almost all of the modifications were done in leather. The reinforced crotch, the added seat, all useful for life outside the walls.
“Do you have someone who is in charge?” Marcus asked.
“Sir, we are all in charge of ourselves.”
Marcus just went with it, “Can I speak to all of you at once?” The man shrugged and turned to walk into the center of the yurt-like overhang, Marcus followed. The man sat down on a stump.
All kinds of objects suitable for chairs from ammo crates to buckets surrounded the fire pit. A few more men filed in and sat down. Marcus looked around the camp for anyone stragglers.
“They’re not interested,” stated the man who sat on the stump, nodding toward the men deeper into the structure. Marcus' military mind went crazy with responses, his body stiffening to avoid a reaction.
“Very well, I am just going to assume that you know who I am.” The group responded in more of a grumble than actual comments.
“I need your help. I realize you were trained for survivor recovery...” the groans were louder this time from the men seated in front of him. Laughs came from deeper in the wall bastion overhang. The man in front of him made a slight hand movement and Marcus wondered if he had been using sign language the whole time. The man on the other side of the conversation stretched out on a cot on the edge of the encampment with his equipment underneath, his head propped up on a rucksack of some kind. Marcus continued, making sure his observations of the communications did not draw attention. He thought the man lying on the cot could be the actual leader of the group.
These men used to be military, but it seems that they had forged their own independent unit with the trainer’s attention. Marcus started to outline some of his plans while men shifted in their seats talking, Underneath the casual conversation he caught glimpses of sign language. A hidden personal communication amongst themselves. The language silent and seemingly effective.
As the scope of his plans came to view along with the certainty of their leader, he acted. He turned and walked straight to the man on the bunk. Before he could actually speak to him there were two bodies in front of him blocking his way. This far into the shelter the smells were a lot stronger and the exact contents were much more complicated. The smells told Marcus that they had been eating indigenous food for quite some time.
The contents of the structure more varied than he realized, even the walls and partitions were made from some military supplies and crates he couldn’t identify. The man on the cot waved the two body guards off and they backed up a couple of steps. Just far enough to give the impression of speaking alone, but close enough to act if something should need to be dealt with.
These body guards were spot on with their protection. Marcus didn’t bother taking another step forward, “Truthfully in the grand scheme of things, it probably doesn’t matter if you act or not and my involvement here is coming to an end regardless of the outcome. As far as I can see, you can take action in the plan and assist, or not.
Whether we get to the reactor or they do, it probably doesn’t affect your short-term world. In the long run it will give them something that we need, so it could very well mean a power shift. I think that this outpost, even if we lose the engagement, will stay in our hands for another two to three years. In that time we will have lost the gulf and we will be done ten years after that. I would like to have you on board.”
The man on the cot did nothing but sit up and stare at Marcus, “If you are anywhere but where my plans put you, we will assume you are a hostile unit. So, if you are going to go out make sure you follow the plan.” Marcus turned to leave, assuming they were dead weight and would not be seen on the battlefield.
“What happens to us after the mission?”
“That would depend, if I lose my ass out there and survive, I can’t imagine how I am going to act if you would have made a difference and didn’t show up.”
The man scratched his head, “And if we show up and succeed?” The disgust Marcus felt from having to bargain with a soldier overwhelmed him. His military mind much preferred to just have them all shot for desertion. Then he thought, he might, even if they help him—win.
The physical change in him caught the man on the bunk off guard. Marcus leaned forward a little to make sure he could look him directly in his eyes. In his mind, the truth had been his greatest ally in this assignment.
Marcus could see his understanding of what had just happened in the man’s eyes, “You have made me bargain with you.” Marcus saw regret in the man’s eyes at the cards he had decided to play, “You could be dead either way.” The man on the bunk just nodded at the mistake. Marcus walked back to the door not caring if they showed or not.
Ezra stopped to look at the flight deck from the bottom of the loading ramp. There were no wheeled vehicles on it, but soon there would be. Just maintenance crews and service vehicles on the move on the deck itself. The quiet seemed odd considering the equipment on the deck at the top of the stairs. Its serenity in the stillness seemed to be diametrically opposed to its purpose.
When he reached the top, the preflight quarters were not hard to find, being the only building on the deck that had a private entrance and the white stenciled lettering that read, Flight crews only, above the door, made it pretty easy.
When Ezra walked in, there were some questioning glances, but most just disappeared out of the room as he entered it. Walking straight down the hallway he easily found his destination. The sign on the door jamb read Preflight Medical.
The woman at the desk addressed him, “Sir, can I help you?”
“I am looking for wing commander V o r i ks AR …” The woman behind the desk interrupted and pronounced the name with practiced ease, “Voriksardottir,” then pointed to the door and said, “You cannot see her right now she is in medical. You can wait in the lounge, but it could be a while.”
Ezra did like the anonymity of the lieutenant bars, but the rest he found very tedious, “I think I will just talk to her now,” he stated as he proceeded to the door. The woman stood and said, “You can’t just walk in there.” When Ezra tried the door and found it locked he closed his eyes and took a deep breath, “Please open the door.” The woman sat back down with a smug look on her face and ignored the request.
“Her losing her flight status is on you,” he threatened, but she just rolled her eyes.
Ezra sighed and went to sit on the couch in the waiting area. Apparently this happened here frequently. The receptionist just smiled and pretended not to enjoy winning the confrontation. Ezra got on his command tablet.
------LINK state------
-----Active-----
//Command: Terminal: Network
//live message 1
//Command: Terminal: Flight
//AOIC Flight Actual
// Flight Commander Voriksardottir to be removed from flight status and
// decommissioned immediately. Criminal AWOL. Dereliction of Duty.
------LINK state------
-----Terminated-----

You could hear muffled yelling from the other side of the wall and the receptionist’s desk phone began to ring.
“Front desk,” The voice on the other end of the line could be heard from across the room. “What the fuck is going on! Has anyone come looking for me!”
“Yes ma’am, a lieutenant is here sitting on the couch waiting,” the voice grew even louder, “Well then open the fucking door for him!”
“Yes ma’am,” flustered, she looked at Ezra and said, “You can go in now,” almost too confused to be scared. The buzzer indicated the lock had been disengaged.
The room looked like an antique barbershop to Ezra, with a row of high adjustable chairs in front of medical equipment. The pilot, sitting in the chair on the end, appeared older than he remembered. More intact than usual. The only obvious prosthetic, her left leg from, Ezra guessed, the shin down. Her blonde hair longer than the pilot’s usual, reached all the way to her ears, the left one mostly just scar tissue.
As he approached her he followed the leads from the machines in front of her chair to where they were attached to her body. Which she abruptly began yanking out, much to the dismay of the doctor attending her. He looked to be a civilian and, understanding the habits of the pilots to bring their own medical equipment and sometimes even their own doctors to their assignments, it didn’t seem unusual.
The chair had been draped with a bright cloth, the counter covered in hand painted markings and permanently affixed printouts. If he were anywhere else he would assume this to be an altar of some sort, not the medical equipment of a pilot.
“Wing Commander Voriksardottir?”
“I fucking was a minute ago,” she finished disconnecting herself from the chair. “Who the fuck are you and what the fuck just …” She looked up and silenced instantly when her eyes met Ezra’s. “I am… uh... sorry, Sir.”
Ezra hid the disappointment he felt that he had been recognized. He had only been on assignment with this pilot one time, a long time ago. “I don’t need apologies or excuses. What I do need is a competent wing commander who is on this flight plan and this set of crypto.” Handing her an electronics package shaped like a hard drive he asked, “Is that going to be you?”
She straightened a little and said, “Yes, it is.”
Ezra’s mouth tightened a little, “We will see. This is going to be hot, fast and ugly. I would suggest you have yourself ready as soon as possible,” he said, looking at the wires she had just unplugged.
“I will be ready, Sir!”
“We shall see, Commander, we shall see, and Wing Commander,”
The look on her face said she understood the necessity of the next statement, “Yes?”
“The next time you place yourself behind a locked door when you are commanding my reaction air wing, I will have you shot.”
The doctor chimed in as Ezra exited the room, “Lieutenants can’t just fucking threaten people with being executed.” When the wing commander silenced him with her finger, she did it hard enough to split his lip open and fold over the tip of his nose. “He is not a lieutenant and I am surprised he didn’t shoot you as soon as he entered the room. You would be wise to just shut up and do your job.” The doctor’s gaze fell to his feet for a few seconds before trying to hook her back up to the equipment in front of the chair.
“Who is he then?” She just shook her head. “Huo Dansari, a skin dancer. The grim-fucking-reaper. You ever see him running, you should try to keep up. She turned back around in the chair towards the medical equipment, “Give me an extra series of electrolytes and add an adrenal package. He is not here because things are going as planned. You should check in at the medical facility tomorrow for triage help, they are going to need you.”
She plugged in the box that Ezra had given her, then plugged in and turned on her heads up display. The glow from under her goggles gave the doctor the comfort of knowing he would not be talking to her during the procedures.
------LINK state------
-----Active-----
//Command: Terminal: Network
//live message 1
//Command: Terminal: Flight
//AOIC Flight Actual
// Flight Commander Voriksardottir to be reinstated to active flight status
// and as acting wing commander
------LINK state------
-----Terminated-----


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 Post subject: Re: LINK STATE
PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2016 9:12 am 
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Another excellent chapter! :clap: :clap:

Bob
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People who are rather more than six feet tall and nearly as broad across the shoulders often have uneventful journeys. People jump out at them from behind rocks then say things like, "Oh. Sorry. I thought you were someone else."


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 Post subject: Re: LINK STATE
PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 3:10 pm 
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CHAPTER TEN
From the fence, the entrance to the motor pool appeared dark. Walking through it gave Marcus the sense it was abandoned. The same way a waterhole is abandoned when a predator is hunting it. Entering the warehouse, Marcus chuckled at the scene. The dim lighting, which made him think of an old movie set.
The cloak and dagger cliché had been taken to the extreme. Marcus walked directly into the illuminated circle, deciding his brazen approach might throw them off a little. He needed to get them on their back foot and keep them there.
“Here I go,” he said without opening his mouth, instead depending on the throat microphone’s acoustics. Ezra said into Marcus’ earpiece, “They are straight ahead still in the dark. They have been here for about three hours.” Once in the middle Marcus felt exposed. The outer perimeter, stocked with military vehicles, gave huge amounts of cover. There could be a thousand people hiding in here and you wouldn't see them.
“They are following your lead and should be visible now.” The two men walked out of the shadow and into the lighted section of the warehouse. The one on the left wore civilian clothing, the one on the right looked more like a photographer with durable pants, vented shirt, and a utility vest with full pockets. They both had an east coast look with tall broad shoulders and pale skin. Not the leathered skin of people from the desert. The one with the vest acted like a bodyguard. The other never broke eye contact with Marcus.
As they walked towards each other, Marcus’ earpiece went live, “Marcus what body armor are you wearing?”
“Soft uh ...why?” The pause caused anxiety.
“We still have not located the third shooter. They have a six-man team that we have under control, but the third shooter might get a shot off before we get a handle on him.”
“That's nice,” and they were together in the middle of the warehouse.
The one wearing plain clothes spoke first, “I'm Vincent, Mr. Schiffle.” The bodyguard stopped and nodded his salutation to Marcus.
“Good evening,” Marcus stared at the second man who seemed distracted by the surroundings. He didn't like the meeting room either. Then his boss continued, “I represent some very powerful parties from Rhode Island and we would like to discuss the progress you have made entering the desert.”
Marcus’ response was almost too quick, “We both know why we are here. You are going to offer me something in return for the trainer and the girl to guide you quietly into the desert. I don't have a lot of time¬¬ so, what are you offering?” Marcus thought his acting skills were lacking. So did Ezra, “You have done better Marcus,” whispered over the radio and into his ear.
The leader of the party in front of him didn't have a physical reaction, but Marcus sensed a change, “Forty kilos of silver. If you deliver them to me, together¬—here in the motor pool.”
Marcus felt the trap but couldn't put his finger on it and decided to play it out, “That sounds fair how much...” Ezra’s interruption in his ear proved too late to stop the sentence, “It’s improbable he has never been inside,” was said over Marcus’ own words of, “time do I have?”
The bodyguard tensed up, “Let me discuss it with my associates.” They stepped away from Marcus and drew phones and two-ways from their pockets. In the darkness of the warehouse Rafael spoke to Ezra from his own isolated world, “Hey Ez, I'm gonna send you a coupled audio signal from their own phones.” Ezra responded with, “We should have some of their audio in a moment.”
The coupled radio feed gave Marcus an isolated and intimate look into their conversation, “Yeah, this asshole is either a nobody or he is stalling. There is no way he could drag them through the streets for everyone to see!” Then barely audible, “Did you hear him stall
mid-sentence? He is talking to somebody.” Another voice chimed in, “Yeah, I say we off him now and take our chances with who is on board with their air-assault unit.”
“Shut up! Sperry, we don't know what kind of RF monitoring they have.”
Ezra's voice came in much stronger in Marcus’ ear, “That is the third shooter. Trying to get a solution on him now.”
The crackling voices began again, “Yeah, we see what we can get from him and then get out of here. Looks like it's gonna be a plan-B kind of trip.” Then a new voice was heard, “Fucking peerage assholes always have to make it difficult.”
Ezra's voice came through, “You have lost your value, the shooter is standing by. They still might get a shot off with the sniper. Do you think you can take the bodyguard? He moves pretty well; he is going to be fast.”
“Yeah probably,” Marcus said, talking with just his throat.
The two men approached Marcus, “Not much—when are we talking?” Vincent asked.
Marcus, surprised by the forcefulness of the question, rushed his answer, “Within the week. We have to get him sedated and her in the room, so we can sneak them out.” The terrible performance elicited a groan from Ezra, “Oh Marcus, your acting is pitiful.”
Marcus, getting more adept at it, heard the audio change over again. “Bullshit that guy isn't even in the medical center.” The vest-wearing Rhode Islander stepped back a pace and whispered into his mic. The difference stood out to Marcus because his adrenaline had started pumping, bringing his senses to their full height. As Marcus watched him whisper, he could hear him in his ear very clearly, “We are done here. Get the assault force moving before first light and could somebody shoot this asshole?”
Ezra did not make mistakes very often, but when he did, they stood out. Over the radio, Marcus heard Ezra say something that delayed his reaction. “Mr. Ochoa.” The first shot instantly rang out, but barely registered with Marcus while he tried to assimilate the new information. Before the second shot, Marcus started to draw his weapon, an assault pistol in a belt holster on the small of his back. Marcus could see that Ezra predicted the bodyguard’s performance correctly. The Rhode Islander had skill and speed on his side, and he would beat Marcus on the draw. The bodyguard pinned his shirt up and drew his pistol with practiced precision. Marcus’ adrenaline soaked brain sped up the encounter turning the gunfight into a slow motion movie.
Marcus felt some relief when the movie revealed his opponent drawing a standard pistol. It would definitely come down to shot placement and ammo. His life now rested in the hands of another man. Whether he lived or died depended on that man’s choices in his training and his personal preference of what to feed his weapons.
The leader of the conversation still held motionless by Marcus still being alive after hearing two shots from the outer edges of the building’s rafters. Marcus' pistol came around a fraction of a second after his opponent’s. When they met, the adrenaline slowed the motion even more. He could actually see the expended casing and muzzle flash of the pistol aimed at him pause for a second. Marcus felt an internal wave of relief when his brain, moving at double speed, told him the shot placement would be center mass and the muzzle flash looked average. Then his pistol’s trigger broke and the full auto assault pistol loaded with armor piercing high velocity rounds shook his body and destroyed his vision of the target. His eyes and ears complained of the light and noise, he never got off the trigger as he took his first side step, barely registering the bullet impacting his torso. His weapon stopped firing, the slide locked back on the empty magazine.
Marcus, always critical of himself, felt disgust that he had barely started to reach for a new magazine after the weapon had already locked open. The one wearing the vest had gone down, but his companion had almost completed his draw as Marcus inserted the magazine into his pistol. Marcus, now played a deadly game of catch up as watched Vincent adjust his aim. His pistol came up higher, the sights searching for his head. Marcus tried to give him as hard a target as possible, moving his upper body as well as his feet.
His opponent’s inexperience showed itself with the flat footed, wide-eyed stance of a first gunfight. Just about the time the Rhode Islander had a shot at Marcus’ head, a small dot appeared on his chest with a red mist exploding behind him. Marcus changed his attention to a much bigger area when the pistol no longer followed its target and his opponent’s eyes went blank.
Shots were going out bound towards the depth of the warehouse. Ezra’s commanding voice rang in his ear, “Start moving towards the door, we will only be able to keep them pinned for a couple more seconds.” Marcus glanced at the floor where the man with the vest should have been and there remained nothing but streaks of blood leading between two cars.
“That Ochoa remark almost got me killed. That guy was fucking fast and he could still be a player.” He picked up his pace as the shots coming from the back of the warehouse turned to floor level instead of the rafters. He felt better once he paused around the front of a heavy truck and could see the door.
“My apologies Sir, that mistake was unacceptable, it will never happen again.” Marcus just sighed, he never got used to his friend calling him “Sir.”
“Hey Raf! If I find you, I'm still going to shoot you, and that was sloppy work back there taking a center mass shot. I would have expected more from you.”
Rafael’s voice on the radio simultaneously irritated and comforted Marcus, “New rifle Sir and it doesn't seem to like the ammo that came with it. Didn't want to risk missing with that gun pointed at your head. Besides, I spined him! He didn’t even twitch.”
Ezra's voice overpowered the earpiece, “Quit chatting! They are leap-frogging up the building wall to your right. You are going to get hit pretty hard soon. Mr. Ochoa are you in your fall back yet?”
“Yep.”
“Give Marcus some cover fire.” Shots started thumping into the ground and wall just to Marcus' right, the occasional grunt and ping off of a vehicle hood could be heard from the darkness, “Marcus, on three if you please, one, two…”
Marcus bolted for the door! As he started to run he realized the waistband of his pants had become wet and his leg did not work as well as it should. Just as he cleared the cars, he saw the opponents that had hid along the wall. A full fire team in complete combat gear. They pretty much had him dead to rights and out in the open. When the stick leader saw him, he started to bring his rifle to bear. Marcus put a full magazine on the junction between the wall, the last cover car, and the group of soldiers. His control was sloppy and his aim poor, the projectiles went high onto the wall. If it had any of the effect, Marcus couldn’t see it, they didn’t even duck their heads. The point man just kept trying to get a lead on Marcus. Just as his sights started to gain on Marcus, a weapon from the rafters opened up. When it did, the jerking body of their point man stopped their progress into the open. Marcus thought it must have been a squad belt-fed weapon because, while it took almost five seconds to make the door, the flashing, chewing and flying debris from the cars along the wall never stopped.
“Marcus, break right when you clear the door. You have a second set of hitters breaking cover from behind the cars on the far wall—and ditch your weapon. I saw flashes coming from the receiver.”
Silence reigned for the first time since the shooting began and Marcus felt alone. He looked down at the weapon and sure enough, the receiver had bulged at the base just behind the barrel. The weapon, damaged beyond repair, could not tolerate the high pressure of the ammo he had chosen. However, the ammunition did seem to get through the bodyguard’s vest. He dropped the weapon without a second thought, pulling his normal sidearm from its holster. He hit the door with nothing but the sounds of boots on concrete behind him. He turned right and saw a vehicle waiting for him, the same interdiction sergeant at the wheel.
In Marcus ear, “Bishop it is all yours.” Marcus responded aloud, “Bishop!” The sergeant snapped his head towards him, startled. The door to the motor pool warehouse burst open as the hidden fire team did a tactical exit, the point man’s weapon already barking the hoarse puff of a suppressed weapon when the world went loud and ugly.
When Bishop thumbed down the two triggers on the chain gun, the entire world in front of him—the people, the cars, the wall, the building girders—just fell away like toys in a sandcastle squirted with a hose. With the cyclic rate turned all the way up the tracers from the six rotating barrels looked like a laser beam and the muzzle flash like a constant blowtorch. Ten seconds later, with Marcus in the lead vehicle, he broke the radio silence on his command frequency, “Alert, Alert, Alert, Interdiction fire mission! I say three times go, go, go!” Switching the frequency, “SITREP please.”
Ezra’s voice came over the radio immediately. “Shooters have been contained. All friendlies out of the building and accounted for. We did lose a light weapon to the engagement. It had to be left. Military police have been notified of a break in, but they should be walking into a quiet building. I think our commanding officer took a hit. He had a limp when exiting the building.”
Marcus looked down at his wet waistband. “Roger that, everyone did good work in there. Am I the only casualty?”
“Yes Sir.”
“Ezra, would you like to explain why Bishop is on this mission?”
“Can I have the private channel, Sir?”
“Switching,” Marcus could hear the irritation in his own voice. “Go ahead, Ezra.”
“Sir, recruiting your assistant was well within the purview of my authority.” Ezra being right did not help Marcus at all; he couldn't place his finger on why it irritated him. In the past, they had exploited countless numbers of assets to achieve their goals. Why did Bishop seem different?
“Why did you not tell me?”
“You have grown fond of him and I think it would have affected the mission. Which, without him, would have had a different outcome. He is the one that discovered the sentry observation post.”
“I am still not happy with the decision.”
“This is not the first time you have been unhappy with me, Marcus. How bad is your leg? I called ahead to have the aircrew medic standing by.”
Marcus almost laughed; Ezra did have a way of pissing him off. “I am coherent and clear minded, so, not too bad, just now starting to hurt. I think I took some bullet jacket in the hip, probably a frangible round. That guy had some serious talent. Do we know who he is?”
“No, he didn’t look familiar at all. I think I know who trained him though. Do you remember the operator in Virginia?” The vehicle hit a bump and brought Marcus back to the inside of the cab. “We will talk later.”
He noticed the sergeant staring at the damp and darkening stain below his waist. Marcus eyed the stain as well, “I can’t be the first person to leak all over the cab of your vehicle.”
The sergeant laughed, “Nope! Not even close, just checking your color and listening to your speech. Both seem good. By the looks of it, you didn’t lose much. I think you guessed right, just a little bit of bullet jacket. We will get you to Doc on bird one in less than five minutes!”
Marcus shook his head, “We need to get Pentia from the barracks first.” The sergeant navigating a corner picked up speed once on the straight away not changing course. “Negative Sir, Valerie is already on the bird.” Marcus snapped his head left to stare at the sergeant, “God dammit she doesn’t follow instructions for shit. I told her to not leave with anyone but me.” The last turn put the spotlights of the flight deck in view.
“Sir, with all due respect, you could not affect the relationships she has with the teams. We live and die together.” They burned through the gate in the fence surrounding the raised deck at a rate of speed the guards found offensive. Marcus watched them throw vulgar finger gestures at the vehicle before returning to setting up the defenses. The sergeant continued, “Maybe today,” as he hit the ramp hard and continued to accelerate making Marcus question its ability to stop at the top.
Marcus got out, “Preferably NOT right now,” just as the vehicle hit the top of the ramp to be airborne for a split second, pitched side ways to line up with a heavy lift aircraft-loading ramp. People scattered at the large vehicle maneuvering in the tight space and the screeching of its tires. “Definitely not right now!” with only a hint of humor behind his eyes.
Marcus stood, his hip complaining a little. The term “clusterfuck” seemed an adequate description of what he saw. Marcus watched carefully for a second and it changed things. You could see the methods to the madness. Chaos did not reign; everyone moved to complete a specific task. The mission being the focus and the purpose. To see this many people, loading this much equipment—this fast, made a huge impression on Marcus. These are professional soldiers, he thought to himself while saying, “Thanks Sergeant Kroening.” The Sergeant saluted sloppily while easing the compact vehicle up the loading ramp and into the aircraft. Then Ezra spoke to him on the radio, “Sir, if you look to your left, the vehicle with the chain gun on top is our vehicle and this is our bird.”
Marcus started walking down the flight deck to his aircraft. The whine of the engines growing at almost the same rate that the movement on the deck declined. Most of the equipment had been loaded by the time Marcus made it to his ramp and looked into the depths of aircraft. A belt fed gun sat on both sides of the ramp, a modification used strictly by interdiction battalions. Both guns had a very bored private attached to it.
Marcus ascended the ramp slowly to give his eyes time to adjust and let his leg get used to the motion, the whine grew in tempo and volume. Once at the top he could see the entire contents of the bird. The aircrew turned the last vehicle that had entered after securing it with breakaway latches. Spinning them meant they could be driven straight off and the wheeled pallet would allow them to be ditched if they were damaged or inoperable for any reason. The system worked, for the assault battalions, to keep the vehicles from being a liability.
At the top, he met an air force lieutenant who offered his hand. “I’m your loadmaster. We are almost squared away. Should be skids up in less than five,” he said, yelling over the growing whine.
“Thanks,” Marcus yelled back. He took up his spot at the front of the loaded sticks of soldiers lining the hull of the inside of the aircraft. From the webbed seats, the helmeted sets of eyes stared back at him. The fire teams stood out from one another. As he looked down the rows, the equipment they carried, or how they had it arranged, showed the separation. The occasional nod came from the team leaders as he continued to scan the rows. His stick sat in a row of seats along the wall closest to him. His four-man team consisted of Bishop, Valerie, Ezra and himself.
Bishop helped Valerie put on her assault vest while Ezra typed into his data tablet and talked into his headset. Activity on the other side of the vehicles caught his attention. A medic crawled over the combat gear in the tight confines. Once free of the vehicles she made a beeline for Marcus. That is when he remembered the injury. In what seemed to be all one motion she dropped her bag at his feet and dropped to her knees, unbuckled his belt, and pulled his pants down. He found humor in what the civilians called going Commando. He would be willing to bet that, some of the girls notwithstanding, he would not a find single pair of underwear on the entire aircraft.
He looked away to prevent his brain from inventing pain responses to the injury, he looked at the troops. He chuckled to himself as each one of the soldiers in the visible sticks glanced at his groin. Not necessarily sexual, just bored curiosity. It remained a curiosity to Marcus that the soldiers still concerned themselves with the genitalia of their officers. Men and women alike.
The Medic started working. The spray from an aerosol can immediately relieved some of the discomfort. The needle placed directly into the wound brought it back for a second. Once numb, she pushed the wound open with her fingers. After examining it, she looked up at Marcus and yelled over the engine noise, “You’re fine! Very little muscle damage, just nicked the hip flexor, that is what you were feeling. Should stay numb for a while.” Pulling a small plastic staple gun from her bag, she pursed the edges together and started stapling. Once done, she lifted the belted waistband of his fatigues and he did the rest. By the time he had buckled his belt, she had returned to her spot on the other side of the aircraft.
Marcus made his way up towards the front of the aircraft. Bishop and Valerie gave him an unreturned thumbs-up when he passed. As he passed Ezra, he heard him in his ear, “Marcus we are getting hit pretty hard. We have the remainder of the battalion in full engagement with portions of the air assault. Almost a third of the air assault unit is off the reservation. We were ready, but it is still a firefight. They have at least three squads that have broken through and are heading this way.”
“Roger that!” His earpiece came to life again, this time over the command net, “This is wing leader Voriksardottir. This mission is now call-signed Shiva’s Dominion, Bird one Koshi, Bird two Mechi, Bird three Rapti, Bird four Seti. Troops are bird plus stick. Stand by for your crypto.” He winced as his earpiece went into the analog ding-dong then screech of a modem download. When the frequency went live again the encryption made it sound mechanical and tinny, “Flight and control, this is Koshi actual. We are engines hot.”
Marcus stepped over soldiers too heavily equipped to get out of the way in the confines of the craft. He picked up his pace when the gunfire could be heard over the engines. Ezra’s voice echoed in the cab and the earpiece as he yelled, “Heavy weapons at the gate, interdiction team pressuring, but they are going to get set up!”
At the front of the aircraft the short ladder lead to the cockpit. Standing on the third rung, Marcus could speak directly to the pilot. Marcus leaned in, “We need to get the fuck off of this platform right now.” The glow behind her visor flashed, “Seti is still not under full power. Rapti has a tail gunner shot at the gate.” Marcus shook his head. “Negative! That is my ammo for my mission. Get these fucking birds off the flight deck.” Before he could finish the pinging of holes being punched in the ship punctuated his sentence. His command channel went active and he could hear her as he watched her lips move, the ramping-up of the engines covered the echo. “Lift! Lift! Lift! Seti fry the engines if you have to, get off of the flight deck now!” She went to full throttle on one side for a split second before engaging both sets. It pitched one side of the aircraft up throwing Marcus a little to the left. Then when she powered up the other set, gravity changed and the floor of the transport was once again down. The left two vehicles peeled off the raised deck in one direction, the right side went directly opposite.
Marcus keyed the mic on the command channel, “This is Koshi Actual, flight control we are skids up and heading due South.” The tower came back, “Roger that Koshi, all birds are up.” The view out the tailgate ramp of the aircraft changed from industrial steel to brown and pale green as the craft moved out of the walls and into open country.
Heading back to the troop carrying belly of the ship, the soldiers looked a little more relaxed. Marcus could pick up on small pieces of conversations. “Voriksardottir that’s the Dokkalfar!” the soldier next to him said, nodding rapidly. As he passed Ezra said, “Marcus, the traitors got to the flight deck before they were stopped! We are going to have company!”
Looking at Valerie, Marcus said, “You! You little shit, you were supposed to stay put.” She just shrugged and went back to adjusting her gear with Bishop. Marcus then turned his attention to Ezra. “We got radar up yet?” Ezra nodded, “Yes, radar balloon at ninety-thousand. They won't be able to shoot it down, coms are satellite, we found one still active and geo-synced over the area.”
As Marcus’ assault group made their way into the desert, the flight deck continued to defend itself against the air assault company that had switched sides. The guards on the tower continued to communicate with the Interdiction Battalion on the same command frequency as Marcus, “Captain Dumas they got to the aircraft! We have three harriers and a troop carrier powering up.”
On the radio, the control tower commander gave commands he never thought he would, “This is the Flight Tower actual, we have unauthorized aircraft powering up! I need all interdiction heavy weapons put on the flight deck—now!”
The commander looked to his radio operator, “Did the support fighters take off yet?”
“Yes Sir! Both close in support and the gunfighter. They are outbound to the target. There are no friendlies on the flight deck.” He picked up his rifle and a rocket launcher and went for the door, “Good ’cause it's going to get real ugly when we start taking heavies from the interdiction battalion.”
When the interdiction battalion trained its mortars on the flight deck, the results were devastating. The first two rounds hit aircraft that were on the outer edge by the support structure. The corner fell before the spotters could adjust their fire which limited their visibility. The air assault troops that betrayed their comrades kept holding, even after the flight deck started taking hits. They held in place trying to give their infiltrators a shot at hijacking the aircraft.
Before the interdiction battalion could overrun them, they blew a charge they had placed on the outer wall and escaped into archaic jeeps that had been hidden in the scrub. Overall, their plan went pretty well. They had gotten pilots to three harriers and two fire teams onboard a troop carrier before they were shut down by the interdiction team’s assault force.
When the spotters adjusted their mortar fire, things got serious for the deserters from the air assault battalion. The troop carrier took the first direct hit and when it came apart, flaming bodies and body parts were flung in every direction. The second adjusted round hit directly below the vertical takeoff engine of one of the hijacked harriers. It sent debris into its engines, and it spiraled off the flight deck platform and into the dark desert.
The second harrier almost made it off the deck, just about the time the pilot shifted to the horizontal jets, the captain on the catwalk activated his shoulder-fired launcher. The short distance from the tower to the deck made it an easy shot. The explosion blinded everyone looking at the deck at the time and when the rotors from its engines came apart, everyone and everything on the deck took hits from the shrapnel.
When the staff in the tower lifted their heads to look around, the fight had shifted to the opening in the outer wall and the remaining stolen harrier was outbound with its after burners glowing brightly. The wall breach stalemated rapidly. Neither side could make any progress. The traitors outside the wall leap-frogged in an orderly retreat. Once at their vehicles, they manned their weapons and put all of the vehicle’s firepower on the opening in the wall and on the catwalk. One of the jeeps did take a direct hit from a grenade launcher at the top of the outer wall. That had been their only loss. They were last seen going full throttle into the desert.
Back in the transport, the news that they were waiting for came through the flight command channel, “Koshi this is tower actual, you got a fast mover coming your way. Are your friendlies escorting you?”
“This is Koshi actual—negative tower, our escorts are en route to the site, we are running alone.”
“Roger that Koshi, good luck!”
Ezra chimed in, “Flight this is Koshi One Bravo give me the aircraft I.D. Numbers.” Everyone in the bird and on the command net stopped moving and listened, hoping that the harrier wasn’t just a death sentence. “Roger that One Bravo, her tail numbers are P-7-E-3-4-3. I say again Papa-7-Echo-3-4-3, copy?”
Marcus’s head snapped towards Ezra and he watched him respond, “Roger that flight, I copy—Papa Seven Echo 343. Bravo out.” By the time Ezra finished his transmission Marcus hovered over him with his hand over the mic by his mouth, “Please tell me you got to that bird.”
Ezra’s expression was grim as he shook his head, “Not much I could do in the time I had. I couldn’t get to the aircraft itself. I did get to the munitions and the fuel, but it is going to get one pass at us. Maybe two.”
The jet burned into the night from the firefight on the platform. The pilot’s extensive experience was apparent as his hands flowed over the controls, bringing the components online. He could see the troop carriers in front of him on the radar screen. Compared to him, they seemed to be moving casually. It would be an easy night. He would expend all of the munitions onboard and make his way to the gulf and the hidden warship. However, the pilot didn’t notice the engine manifold temperature rising unnaturally.
“We have contact,” the wing commander remained calm and serious. “Gunfighter what is your ETA? I have hostiles inbound on our flight.” The squelch flattened on the radio with the pilot opening the microphone.
Everyone on the command net could hear the engines of the fast attack aircraft for a second before the pilot spoke, “I have six and a half minutes. I am full afterburner to your location. Radar has your inbound at six minutes. Start your evasive action now.” Everyone on the aircraft who had been standing scrambled for a seat with a belt. While most units would have their faces contorted with fear, this group tightened their chinstraps and seatbelts.
Marcus isolated the command net from the troop net. They didn't need any more details from the people deciding their fate. This group, the ones who Sparks called the Bogeyman, were possibly the best he had ever worked with. Nothing showed it more than the quiet in the aircraft as it began its evasive plans. They had the look of men resigned to the fate of their gods. Not the gods that are worshipped in caves and tents, but the forces that hard men understand they have no control over.
The unseen movements of the clock inside the beautiful case. Unseen by most, understood by very few, but holding all accountable by its movements. Marcus caught movement by the open tailgate of the craft. The gunners in the doorway had pulled the armor plated fight shields in front of them. He immediately switched to the troop com net, “Keep your eyes open and drop your sunshields.” Marcus watched the gunners respond instantly, “There is going to be a lot of flares coming out of this bird real soon.”


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 Post subject: Re: LINK STATE
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:01 am 
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Now that was a real butt clincher! :clap: :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: LINK STATE
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2016 8:36 pm 
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Good stuff!!!

Looking forward to the next chapter

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 Post subject: Re: LINK STATE
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2016 8:49 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: LINK STATE
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 12:44 pm 
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The left gunner pointed out of the back of the aircraft. “Contact! Got an afterburner trail. He is directly on our six!”
“Roger that! Radar shows him at 22 miles. We are in range! Mechi, Rapti, Seti, wait until one of us gets painted before you peel off. He is gonna want to be close. Bheri you’re too heavy, full power to the objective. He should pick one of us.”
The acknowledgements came over the radio just as the pilot’s screen lit up, “Gunfighter, Gunfighter, we are painted and taking evasive action. Mechi, Rapti, break left! Seti you’re with me.” The airframe groaned at the bank along with the entire fire team onboard. The vehicles in the bay shifted, but held. “Seti get out in front of me! Gunfighter we have an active hostile trying to lock a radar contact. We are evasive. Seti split right let's see who he picks!”
The severity of the banking maneuver strained the airframe. The sounds in the bay were not groans, as much as painful grunts. Marcus watched his vision start to tunnel and realized that the interdiction team member’s grunts were not complaints, but muscle and breathing exercises to stay conscious.
The pilot’s screen showed the radar contact still following her, “Gunfighter this is Koshi, we got the prize I am going to try to bring him to you. Banking onto bearing 355.” She banked the aircraft as hard as she could. This time even Rovdyra Voriksardottir’s vision blurred a little, even with the flight suit pumps painfully squeezing her legs. She hoped that the troops in her ship would still be able to fight if they should happen to live. The console showed the fighter match her banking easily. It also showed the Gunfighter and his distance from her. An unfamiliar voice came through from the inside of her helmeted world, as Ezra’s voice came over the radio.
“Wing Commander, the aircraft that is following you does not have any electronic countermeasures that are not functional at this time.” She could not believe her ears. She thought, I am glad he is on our side. A split second later, she had a plan. At least something that resembled a plan.
“Seti! You see that valley on your 260? I want you to do a full stall and plant your ass in there. You got a sparrow on board right?”
The tone of Seti's pilot came across as all question even though the words were statement. “Yes Ma'am and I have two.”
She watched the Radar screen as the enemy grew closer, “I am going to bring this asshole over the top of that canyon. I want you to throw both of those sparrows at him as soon as you come up.”
“Roger that ma'am. I hope the troops can handle the Gs.”
Kaehn came over the radio next, “Don't fucking worry about us!”
The control console started complaining. The flashing radar screen screamed LOCKED at her, “Here we go!” she banked hard and started dumping her chaff canisters; the shredded aluminum expanding into to radar reflecting clouds. For the fire team inside, the banking and chaff could only mean one thing—they were now in the hands of the mysterious monsters plugged into the cockpit of the warring aircrafts.
The pilot in the stolen harrier selected the sidewinder on the list of available ordnance on the aircraft, ranged it and Ok’d the radar lock. The heavy troop carrier in front of him did not stand much of a chance, its bulk and lack of real speed made it an easy mark. The harrier pilot couldn't seem to stabilize the engine temperature, but that flashing warning light didn’t matter at the moment; neither did the other heavy lift disappearing off the radar.
The harrier slowed as it came into range of the troop carrier; the missile under its wing dropped and ignited its small powerful engine. The missile turned its attention to each chaff cloud before returning to the troop carrier. The troop carrier already started its banking maneuver. Now dropping flares, the bright, hot counter measures meant to bait the heat seeking missiles. The harrier pilot brought the next weapon online and the missile display read LOCKED, immediately. The first explosion in the sky happened as the second sidewinder dropped from the plane and ignited.
The cargo bay of the troop carrier was a completely different world from the cockpit of the Harrier. The flashing lights of the dropped flares gave a strobe quality to the bay. Added to the harsh mechanical banks and turns, it took on a comical appearance. A strobed, jerking dance, moving the serious faces to a rhythm of the pilots choosing.
Other than the combatants, only one person could recognize the whole of the play on the stage in front of him. The right door gunner, his body jerking with the recoil of his weapon as he attempted to have an effect on the scene playing out in front of him, came into a moment of pure clarity.
There are legends from our ancient ancestors of men going into battle. They spoke of the true warriors amongst the normal men. They focused on the true warrior. The one who is celebrated in songs from his life and death struggles. How he brought everyone home.
In the grace of the moment, the door gunner understood. Duruka driving the chariot, Mani and Sol pulling the moon and sun. Achilles, Ajax and the meek David. The weak struggling with the strong. The skilled facing the powerful. No ego clouded the perception. He understood that the one true warrior only presented himself when the machinations of battle allowed, but he witnessed and he understood.
The air-to-air missile came at him in the door of the craft. The pilot banked and deftly placed the ejected flare in front of it. The detonation, a beautiful display of power. Still training his gun on the enemy, he watched a second missile drop from the plane and then a third. He watched the second, baited into a bank by his pilot, stymied by a flare and another turn. He wondered if he would be able to tell this story if he lived. If he would be able to tell of how he witnessed the perfect battle between two warriors.
The third missile gained on them as they passed over a deep canyon which, he realized, could end up being his gravesite. It made him happy that it would be a pretty place for him to spend eternity. The gun jerking in his hands complained and resisted as he forced it to shift from the harrier to the incoming missile. He understood the odds of a hit on the small, fast moving weapon, but he would try anyway.
A black cloud rising from the chasm, that he thought would be an appropriate tomb, tugged at his attention. When Seti blossomed from the top of the debris cloud, two large missiles chuffed from her belly. The harrier responded pointlessly. The range was too short for the missiles to react at all when the pilot jinked in the air testing the tracking lock. The harrier banked hard. Steeper than the door gunner had ever witnessed before.
Just as the missiles reached their target, red streaks tore into the plane from another direction. A huge explosion engulfed the jet as a deafening roar passed between the two heavy lift troop carriers. Through the explosion, the gunner could see another jet still on his guns even though his airborne opponent had dispersed into fragments from the convergence of the weapons. Time froze when his eyes returned to his own personal battle. The third missile seemed paused in the air almost close enough to touch. Just as he realized it would enter the bay, a single flare walked in front of it, obscuring his vision with its brightness. The passing beauty of the flare contrasting with the military paint scheme of the air-to-air missile vanished into the rocking explosion.
The blast of the missile so close to the open tailgate of the aircraft, tore through the cargo hold with its clustered payload. Large gaping holes opened in the arched fuselage over the bay. The remains of the left door gunner and his entire armored position ceased to exist. The liquefied contents of the hard point sprayed into the bay. The expanding force engulfed the assistant loadmaster on the right side of the bay. The gore, shrapnel and molten debris tore into the first assault vehicle and the stick leaders. The aircraft lurched toward the ground creating a weightless moment, the slick, crimson covered debris floating upward to mix freely with the body parts of the private and the assistant loadmaster.
Marcus realized he felt heavy and when his vision returned his questions were answered as to why. The loadmaster from his side of the bay laid unmoving in his lap. He looked intact which surprised Marcus. He expected him to be in pieces like the rest of the exposed aircrew members. The loadmaster’s lanyard connected him to the aircraft, the only thing that kept him from being ejected with the explosion. To Marcus’ surprise, he started to move almost immediately. He screamed, jerked, and rolled off him. Sitting up he started frantically beating and brushing at his smoldering uniform. It took Marcus a second for him to put the pieces together. To determine what had ignited. The blast and the loadmaster had brought with them red-hot debris and his assault vest had caught fire. His mind still not processing effectively, he understood that the smoldering fire on his vest should concern him. He just could not put it together. Then it started snowing.
A split second later, his mind caught up. The screeching complaints of the aircraft, the amputated arm in Ezra’s lap and the screams from the stick on the far side of the aircraft. He also realized it wasn’t snow. A private from the next squad down had used a fire extinguisher. The private very deftly reached down into the front of Marcus’ vest and pulled the fragmentation grenades out. Without hesitation he tossed them towards the twisted maw that used to be a loading ramp. Marcus watched passively as they floated out the door realizing they were what he had tried to remember when his vest started to smoke. With the fire out and the private happy with the contents of his vest, Marcus looked at his stick. They were all in various stages of coming back. Valerie blinked, flexing her jaws to try to get her hearing back. Bishop shook his head, spraying blood from his nose onto his chest. Ezra shook violently, stiffened upright, and surveyed his body for damage. He looked intently at both of his arms several times, making sure the arm in his lap did not belong to him.
The troop’s recovery started to pick up speed. Medics, were triaging the screaming victims in locked down stretchers at the forward bay, by the pilot’s ladder. “Koshi this is Seti Flight, you’ve got smoke on your starboard rear intake, leave the fans on when you shut it down. That engine is done.”
The stomach-churning drop that followed the communication from the trailing aircraft helped to bring everyone back into the moment, “Dominion, Dominion, this is Koshi we are stick and rudder, all electronics are dead. Down one engine going to lose another real soon. We have casualties onboard. This operation is still a go.”
Marcus keyed the radio, “We are still a go! The bay is…”
“Command override, Wing Commander we are assessing the damage.”
Marcus tried to find who had cut off his transmission and realized the loadmaster had taken over the radio frequency. The loadmaster held himself up in the bay next to his remaining safety officer, his flight suit still smoking slightly while he spoke. “These vehicles are going to be a bitch to offload! That missile mangled the ramp. Left door gun is gone! Flight mechanic says he can cut the fuel to number three so you can keep the fans on! It is not responding to his controller either.”
The pilot’s voice sounded almost relieved at the solution, “Yes! Cut the fuel now.” Marcus watched the safety turn away and start talking into his microphone. “We got approximately six casualties, three are being treated.”
“The other three?”
“If we can find them, we will treat them commander.”
“Roger that! You better give them their six minutes.” The red lights in the aircraft came on. The loadmaster, returning to his place at the start of the exit ramp, looked down the rows of grim faces riding against the hull of the aircraft.
More than just a few of the sergeants leading the men nodded to the Airman. He held up both hands. extending a total of six fingers and yelled, “SIX MINUTES!” A flurry of activity started and the soldiers danced around each other trying to get their jobs done and still let the medics treat the minor wounds and pack the bloody noses from the enormous pressure of the explosion. The soldiers prepped and then attempted to start the vehicles. To everyone’s surprise the first vehicle started and seemed to be running fine. The tires were the next concern but they seemed to be holding air.
“Seti, I want you off-loaded and gone before we get there! I am not sure we are going to get airborne once I put it down.”
“Roger that Koshi, we will be gone when you get there.”
When the next signal came through, engine noise and gunfire preceded the frantic voice, “Flight this is Bheri, this is a hot DZ! We are unloaded! If you are running slow, come in from the east. SHIT! We have Mortar fire!” An explosion forced the audio off for a split second, when the frequency came back up everyone heard, “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! We are going down.”
Silence reigned for a few moments then communication resumed, “This is Rapti they are ok! Rough landing about a klick out! Close support is going to give them a pass to make sure. We are off loaded and a ready six standby. Covering Mechi’s approach.”
The second red light came on in the bay of the aircraft. The safety officer now in front of Marcus held up a single hand. His three extended fingers matched his loud command. “THREE MINUTES!” Everyone in the bay of the aircraft parroted the safety officer’s words, “Three Minutes!” in unison.
The battle frequency raged, “This is Rapti flight, Mechi Two is down and Mechi three is getting hit pretty hard. We have a heavy weapon on the hill to the north. Rapti Two and three have been redirected to try and put some pressure on the mortar. It seems to be coming from the east side of the installation.”
A new voice came on the radio as Marcus started to get his bearings, “This is Bheri Two we are active and hostile, I have one position on the crest of the North ridge, that your bad guy?”
“This is Mechi three! That’s him! We are losing our ass out here!”
“Roger that Mechi I am going to put some heat on him.”
The interdiction artillery presented a unique situation. It had to be light enough to airlift, but powerful, accurate and completely mobile. A miniature tank with good speed and a high rate of fire.
“Bheri One give me a slave link to your gun.” The stocky tanks both paused in their trek across the desert from the drop zone to the reactor site. The heavy barrels of their main guns started to move in unison as they rose for elevation. “Thanks One! Our intentions are outbound.” The recoil pads on the back of the tracked weapons slammed into the ground repeatedly accentuating the cracking of the sound barrier by the outbound projectiles. Both weapons fired in unison with every creature in the area feeling the pressure change in their chest with each round. The sizzle of burning ozone following the projectiles passing.
The drop zone had become chaotic; the artillery had off loaded before the aircraft had been hit by the mortar barrage. The aircraft, lighter after the offload, managed to get airborne again before the engine came apart. The debris field was extensive, with most of one engine scattered and smoldering. The desert sand blackened in bursting star patterns.
Rapti, the aircraft next in line, completed a perfect unmolested air assault bounce. It touched and disgorged its contents and became airborne again. Mechi’s flight, about the halfway point of the air assault drop, became the target of the ridgeline heavy weapon. From ten feet off the ground until the aircraft completed the drop, the enemy machine gunner never got off the aircraft’s door or off the trigger.
As the last vehicle sped down the ramp, the gunner shifted from the aircraft and picked the slowest target of opportunity. He focused on the second vehicle that had left the aircraft. A lancer squad, one of only two made for anti-aircraft responses. The Rhode Islander kept his weapon on them until everyone and the vehicle quit moving. Just about that time the barrel of the weapon needed to be exchanged for a cool one. Only the assistant gunner saw the tank-like vehicles swing their barrels in unison toward their hidden and sandbagged fighting site. The muzzle flashes being the last thing he would see.
The dull thump of the distant explosion preceded the transmission by only a moment. “This is Bheri Two let me know if you hear from them again. We are active and hunting.”
“This is Rapti flight we have two inbound troop carriers from the South. They are not friendlies.”
In the belly of Marcus’ ship the smoke and debris made it almost impossible to see. Marcus closed his eye to help him concentrate on the world outside before he transmitted, “This is Koshi one! Rapti two, I need lancers on those troop ships now! Bheri can you get a lock on those aircraft?” The thumping in his chest answered his questions about Bheri and their anti-aircraft capabilities, or at least he hoped it did.
The loadmaster yelled his command, “One minute!”
Small arms fire started to ping into the aircraft. The lurching and smoking made it a more tempting target, like a limping herbivore on the planes of Africa. The aircraft drew everyone’s eyes to it. The engines screeched like a great dying beast, the smoke, like blood trails in the sand. Everyone including Marcus repeated the call, “ONE MINUTE!” Everyone except the squad on the forward end of the bay by the pilot and the wounded stood and climbed into their vehicles. Once inside the vehicle they were protected from the noise and windblown debris. The experience so different that looking through the window was like watching a movie.
The battle frequency on the radio came alive again. “This is Bheri two, someone get on those mortars to the South. It is hard as hell to skeet shoot with some asshole dropping bombs on ya.”
“This is Bheri One they are in defilade of the towers. We are going vertical with these. Stay out from over the top of us.” The air compressions of the outbound artillery shells made Bishop’s nose start to leak crimson on his fresh bandages as he crawled into the driver’s seat.
The thumping of the artillery grew louder and louder. The loadmaster, now easily visible through the vehicles window, held himself up on shaky legs with a grip on the aircraft. He held out both hands, one with three fingers extended, and a mock zero on the other. Marcus looked at Bishop, “Thirty seconds. You sure you can drive?” The fierce look told Marcus he would, but his condition did not impart any confidence at all. From the back seat, Ezra, in control of the battle frequency said, “Marcus we got good hits on both troop carriers. Rapti Three and four have the main doors secure and are awaiting reinforcements.” Through the windshield, Marcus could see what remained of the ramp.
The mangled metal twisted outward in all directions. The right hard point that held the surviving gunner with the weapon still intact. He could see the medic that had stapled him up trying to get a tourniquet on the gunner’s foot. The safety officer held onto her belt to keep her from falling out. She looked at Marcus and then at the two red lights on the fuselage between them and nodded. The aircraft yawed horrifically, and for a split second, Marcus stared at the ground from over a hundred feet up. He hoped the loadmaster knew where they were, his last look at him revealed he had the release for the tie downs in his hand.
Dirt filled the aircraft bay and obscured everyone’s vision. As soon he felt gravity shift again, the loadmaster pointed to the ramp and the green light came on. When it did, Bishop stomped on the accelerator. Marcus could not even see the medic until they shot past throwing themselves blindly into the dust and smoke, everyone hoping they were closer to the ground than their last look. The Safety had dragged the medic into to the fighting space with the private. They were weightless for a moment, only Ezra had his eyes open, the whole time focused on the tactical readout of the tablet in his hand. They slammed forward into the seatbelts with the pressure releasing when the back wheels landed.
Breaking into the open, undisturbed air, visibility grew back to its normal parameters, bringing chaos with it. The vehicles turned hard to follow the flight-path of the aircraft like chicks following their mother. The first turning right—the remaining two turning left, all of them coming in line at the completion of the turn.


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 Post subject: Re: LINK STATE
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2016 1:42 pm 
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Love this stuff! Please, continue & thanks for your contribution here!! :clap:


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 Post subject: Re: LINK STATE
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2016 9:55 am 
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Now that I have had time to catch my breath, could we have some MOAR, please? :clap: :clap:

Bob
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 Post subject: Re: LINK STATE
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2016 2:09 pm 
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Good job bud.....post more asap????

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 Post subject: Re: LINK STATE
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2016 7:26 pm 
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CHAPTER ELEVEN
Chaos reigned on the battlefield in front of Marcus’ vehicle. The enclosed camouflaged combat vehicles spread out in front of them like a pack of hunting animals trying to chase down the mission objectives.
"Ah… Bheri! This is Rapti Two can you redirect from the mortars for a minute, you're about to tear us a new asshole."
"Roger that Rapti, Bheri One, we are slave to your gun for the troop carrier."
The pulsing thump everyone felt in their chest of the outbound artillery confirmed the guns were still active and Bishop's nose still bleeding, "Dominion, Dominion, this is Seti actual."
For a moment, the crew of Marcus’ vehicle listened intently. "We are hostiles at the door! Light contact. We have the recovery unit men on over-watch! There is still some indigenous resistance in the compound. We should be secure in five!"
The progress of the assault stunned Marcus. We are already entering the compound. This is going too well, he thought, until the rest of the dust actually cleared the battlefield. One of the enemy troop carriers had begun its off-loading pass and the other lined up on the approach. Marcus keyed his mic and transmitted on the battle channel, "Koshi Three and Four this is Koshi One. Break off and try to put some pressure on those troops that just off loaded."
"Roger that Koshi One," and the two front vehicles in their convoy pitched right into the battle, their turret guns instantly opening up with the tracers arcing into the disgorged vehicles from the enemy troop carrier. As they hammered their vehicles into the fierce fighting, Marcus could see the powers shifting. If the Rhode Islanders unloaded the second aircraft, he could lose the field. He started to key his mic to talk to Ezra about how to shift his forces to contain the new combatants and still recover the nuclear fuel rods, when he saw movement on the same ridge they had problems from before. Shit! I thought they were out of action, thought Marcus.
As he started to key his microphone to alert the artillery units, Rapti jumped into the communication fray, assaulting his ears.
"Dominion this is Rapti Two, fire mission, fire mission." There was a long pause. “OUTBOUND!” At the radio cutoff two arcing smoke trails leapt into the sky, both hitting the nose of the second troop carrier.
The first opened a gaping hole where the cockpit had been, the second disappeared into the opening to explode inside the body of the aircraft a second later. It lurched grotesquely and started to roll over, and after breaking apart, the rear half of the ship tumbled into the first troop carrier as it unloaded. The series of catastrophes continued for the Rhode Islanders when Marcus, looking through his binoculars, realized the trainer’s men were manning the ridgeline gun and using it to assault the vehicles that had already been disgorged from the troop carriers.
“This is Koshi One, the gun on the ridgeline is friendly. I repeat the gun on the ridgeline is friendly.” Marcus looked across the battlefield. He could see the change; the hesitance of his opponent, the loss of their ride home, the destruction of all of their friends in the second airship, the friendly gun putting rounds on them and Koshi Two and Three hitting them before they could form their lines. The loses began to overwhelm them. A moment later they broke ranks and took off into the desert with the remaining Mechi vehicles trying to flank them.
"Koshi One, this is Rapti Two, the mortars are down and should not be a problem anymore. We just have some mopping up to do."
Marcus' vehicle pulled up to the entrance to the compound’s underground storage facility with Koshi Two right behind them. He took in his battlefield as he exited the vehicle. The perimeter, a circle formed by vehicles and dismounted troops surrounding a triage center, and the ramp that disappeared into the earth.
Medics worked on some of his soldiers, mostly minor wounds and one serious looking with an arrow sticking out of a leg. The Seti platoon leader ran up to Marcus, "We are bringing out the first fuel rod now. Resistance was pretty light, the trainer’s men got here before any of Rhode Islander ground troops. The indigenous are fucking surgical with those atlatls though. We lost two men and one injured from those damn things. Don't underestimate their range!"
Close gunfire made the platoon leader look away for a second. When Marcus followed the sound he found Bishop sending rounds downrange to a group of dismounted Rhode Islanders who were trying to make progress on the underground storage entrance. After seeing the attackers getting hit again from Koshi four, Marcus glanced at what Bishop was carrying. “Bishop what the hell is that?” Pointing to the unconventional weapon. Bishop just shrugged and said “A sawed off squad machine gun.” Marcus just shook his head.
With Marcus and the Sergeant refocused on each other, the Sergeant continued his report to the sporadic gunfire surrounding them. "The rattlesnakes have mutated as well. Franklin was bit and was dead before he hit the ground. Looked like a regular rattlesnake, too."
Marcus took in the scene around him. The burning debris from the enemy troop carriers, the vehicles chasing the survivors across the desert, the heavy tracked cart arriving at the doorway of the entrance only to disappear into the darkness. It looked to be under control.
“How long before the rest of the fuel rods are out of storage? How hard are they hitting the Rad counters?" Marcus asked.
The Sergeant looked around, following Marcus’ assessment, "Ten minutes if we don't run into any problems. They are hot and dry, but the exposure of the transport should be minimal. The casings are in pretty good shape and keeping the radiation levels low."
"Roger that," Marcus keyed his microphone, "Dominion this is Koshi One, we are leaving in fifteen minutes. Mop up your hostiles and talk to your birds. I don't want anyone walking home." The chorus of affirmatives clouded his radio for a moment, then Ezra took over the channel, "We have troop movement inbound from the South, six or seven vehicles." Marcus knew it had been too simple.
"This is Koshi Flight, that bird is not taking anybody home. We have unloaded the wounded from Koshi and Bheri's aircraft into Rapti on ready six. Bheri still has three good engines and a nose cannon. I am inbound to give those guys coming from the South some grief."
As the transmission ended, the wounded troop carrier Bheri groaned and smoked as it went over their heads. Marcus felt the minor loss of control—one of the problems with dealing with the best soldiers in the world was that sometimes they could be hard to control.
"Goddammit Commander, if I had wanted you to take a strafing run at some inbound Rhode Islanders, I would have told you to. You bounce that bird and you are walking home!"
"Understood Koshi, I will be ready when you are looking for a ride."
"Dominion this is Kaehn, three birds are plenty if we ditch the vehicles."
Marcus walked into the ramped underground entrance to take a look. The smell overwhelmed him. He wondered how many feral generations had lived in here in peace before he showed up and slaughtered them all. He couldn’t linger on that, he needed to get back to the job at hand. "Koshi Two and Three, this is One, link up with Rapti Two and Three and give me a defensive line against the vehicles coming up from the South."
"Roger that Koshi One…" In the middle of the response, a huge explosion ripped at the world. The radio exploded with traffic. Marcus switched to a simplex frequency, “Ezra, what the fuck was that?"
Ezra responded immediately, "That, Sir, was, a Tomahawk."
Marcus seldom felt surprised on the battlefield, "You're kidding right?"
Ezra’s four little words confirmed his fear, "Wish I was, Sir."
Marcus had to move out of the way for one of the tracked haulers making its way out of the depths of the underground storage bunker. The troops operating it looked terrified. The one universal human fear would always be being buried alive and it showed on their faces, "Ezra, what is a standard compliment of Tomahawks for a ship that has them as standard equipment?"
The clinical nature of Ezra’s response did nothing to comfort Marcus. "That would be six or eight depending on the size of the ship."
Marcus instantly switched over to his command frequency, "This is Dominion command extraction point Bravo in five mikes. I say again, extraction point Bravo in five mikes."
Rapti, Seti and Mechi pilots confirmed the command along with most of the interdiction team leaders. Marcus on the battle channel ended the salvage mission, “This is dominion command, we have all we are going to get! Un-ass the bunker now!”
After the transmission he stayed on the frequency and listened to the traffic, "Mechi One, that crazy-ass pilot crashed the bird on top of the assault vehicles. Can you get to it? She just crawled out of the wreckage and engaged with her pistol.”
"This is Koshi flight, leave me here if you have to. I didn’t get them all."
Small arms fire rang out in the background, followed by a large automatic weapon, "This is Mechi One, we are CONTACT FRONT! Engaged with the enemy.”
An undeclared transmission came over from the firefight.
“Try not to shoot the pilot. She is fucking nuts!" The transmission came in over heavy machine gun fire.
Ezra's voice came loud and strong over the battle net, "INBOUND, INBOUND, INBOUND."
Marcus looked up to see an enormous missile streak past the compound, followed by an explosion that took him off his feet.
“This is Mechi Four. One has the pilot and door gunner. The RI broke when we got here. They are haulin’ ass." Marcus felt a slight relief that he would not lose anyone else. When he stood up in the doorway of the bunker, Valerie and Bishop ran in from the perimeter wild-eyed.
"We lost Seti in the Explosion, Sir," Bishop reported.
"Roger that, Bishop. Get on the radio and tell Kaehn to load the wounded and the fuel rods into Mechi and Rapti on ready six." Bishop cupped his ears to talk into the radio. Marcus did the same when he spoke to Ezra, "Goddammit Ezra, I need more warning to get the birds on the ground."
Ezra calmly defended himself, "Sir, I am broadcasting as soon as I am seeing them. The electronic counter measures are at least keeping them from a direct hit."
Mechi arrived first to touch down and loaded the fuel rods and the wounded. As soon as the aircraft finished loading it took off with a roar and headed north. Marcus felt relieved that they had completed at least part of the mission objective. Rapti made the next run, an explosion from the downed Seti slowing the pace, making everyone turn away from the tasks at hand.
Ezra was in his ear again, "Sir, I have another inbound target, looks like a fast mover, probably a ground attack vehicle."
Marcus growled to himself before barking commands, "Bishop, you and Pentia mount up and roll out."
He keyed his radio, "Kaehn, mount 'em up and get 'em rolling. We are leaving." He turned to the battle frequency, "This is Dominion Command, we are extracting now. We are driving home. Groups of two! Don’t bunch up. Police your people, make sure everyone has a ride. Rapti One and Two keep your eyes open for the inbound aircraft, take the shot if you get one, and somebody pick up the Bheri crews and spike the Arty if they don't get on Rapti."
He didn't wait for acknowledgements and switched frequency to the Command net, "Gunfighter, Gunfighter, you got our bogey."
The whine of the aircraft came over the radio before the voice, "I am trying to use up some of his fuel to get him to change his mind. I am not going to be able to get a lock on him, he is faster than me, but he shouldn't be bothering you." Marcus felt a little relief, a strafing aircraft would have been a nightmare.
He stood back and watched the hustle of ground troops finding their rides for a moment. Rapti came in off its ready six position and loaded Bheri One and Two when the remaining wounded didn't fill the aircraft.
“Dominion, Dominion, Koshi Flight is now Rapti Flight,” Marcus felt comfort with her in the pilot’s seat again.
He keyed his microphone, “Rapti Flight, you think you can keep from crashing that bird?” His intention was in jest—her response was not, “Unless I get a chance to kill Rhode Islanders Koshi One. Then there are no promises.”
Marcus saw Valerie look over her shoulder as Bishop shoved her into a vehicle with three other men. The contact was brief before the vehicle accelerated into the desert. The scene calmed as Rapti took off followed shortly by their Harrier, the gunfighter giving a wave with his wings as he flew past.
Bishop approached and pointed to the last assault vehicle with Ezra in the backseat. Ezra came on the radio, "Tomahawk inbound counter measures are not working." They ran to the vehicle, mounted up and went full throttle into the desert, Ezra counting down behind them. "Five, four, three, two, one–" and the vehicle rocked violently from the direct hit on the bunker behind them.
A few minutes later when they paused to see if the bunker survived through binoculars, they both watched Ezra open the door and step out on weak legs, "Ezra did you spend the entire battle in the back seat?"
Ezra turned and looked at the vehicle, "I guess I did."
Marcus turned to Bishop, "I thought I told you to mount up with Miss Pentia." Bishop just shrugged, "How much trouble are we in for not getting all of the fuel rods?"
"We, Bishop?” Bishop just blushed and got back in the driver's seat after they were sure the direct hit closed the underground storage facility's entrance. It would be better if no one had the fuel rods than if the Rhode Island Parliament had them.
Valerie loved these guys. She sat in the back seat, listening to the excited voices of the combat veterans talk about their part of the battle and the crazy stuff they saw. She remained quiet, not necessarily embarrassed because of her role as a perimeter guard, because they all understood getting picked for crap jobs, but because she didn't have any stories. At least none that involved the enemy.
She could not shake the memory of watching the transport ship fall out of the sky and kill its crew. There were a couple of questions about the fate of the Koshi aircraft and what it felt like to get blown up and live, but when she didn't elaborate, they didn't push. They just went on to the next story. She missed home and planned to leave as soon as Marcus told her she would be safe. She would end her life as a soldier, being a soldier, working with soldiers, fixing their wounds.
The desert became monotonous. The rise and fall of the vehicle clearing the crests and dunes made her head start to bob. The voices in the background became more like music than conversation. She heard something different and she popped her head up just as they were coming over a rise. The driver yelled and tried to turn. Through the dirty windshield, Valerie could see a jeep with its heavy machine gun in the turret.
She could see that they were Rhode Islanders and not their companion vehicle. Valerie watched as the driver pulled hard on the wheel, the soldier riding shotgun put his hands up. It all happened in a brief instant. The world remained silent when the flashing of the muzzle started.
Nothing but silence as the windshield exploded and the hood of the vehicle came away in shreds as the bullets ripped at it. The soldier in the front seat jerked violently and the seat exploded with impacts. A thick red mist coated more of the cab with each explosion. The silent jerking images ended when the back of the seat in front of her exploded in her face and she felt several huge all-encompassing thumps in her chest. She felt herself turned upside down, again and again, as the vehicle rolled.
She had always been okay with death, knowing it would happen eventually. She had made peace with it years ago. The world grew dark when the vehicle stopped tumbling. After a moment, she felt the running of warm liquid, only echoes of noises in the background filled the darkness.
She tried to open her eyes, but they wouldn't open very far. She could see only light and shadows through her squinted lids. The wetness, salty in her mouth, seemed completely normal to her. She did get a brief flash of a real image in her brain; a beautiful fletching on a huge arrow-like object sticking up from in front of a parked jeep. The colors were vibrant and the image burned forever. She drifted into the darkness, it flooded her mind. Alone in the darkness she felt a tug on her body, then another. She wanted it to stop. She just wanted to sleep. The tugging stopped and cool air moved over her chest.
"Two armors, mouse? You are clever," then something lifted her. She wanted to sleep but the smell of almonds almost kept her from the void, "Oh little mouse, he is going to be very unhappy," and the darkness took her.
A flash of pain came with the smell of hard earth when her weight shifted again. Then warmth and darkness took her again into the nothing. Later, light and movement brought her up from the darkness. She shivered when her weight shifted and the warmth left. She wanted the darkness back, the light brought pain with it. Cold air and tugging. Please make it stop. I want the darkness.
The smell of water and the sound of its movement became the precursor of trauma. The ice-cold wetness, when it touched her, made her body convulse. The racking convulsions felt like they were tearing her apart. In reality, her body barely registered the shiver. After laying her by the stream her rescuer had wet a small piece of cloth, "I'm sorry its cold, mouse, but I need to get some of this blood off of you."
When the woman finished wiping down her arms and face, she opened Valerie’s survival vest and loosened the straps on the light fitted body armor under it. The soft armor had been destroyed by the impacts of the bullets, shattered, with large pieces of shrapnel embedded in it. Her small knife on the thong around her neck made short work of the retaining straps after they were loosened. When she pulled it off she held her breath, not sure of what she would see.
There were no punctures in her skin, but the damage was obvious. When she wiped her chest down with the water-soaked rag that she had warmed against her own skin, the small nurse shivered again. To the woman, it gave her hope. The shiver meant that her animal spirit still lived. To Valerie it felt like an earth-shattering convulsion that broke her bones and racked her flesh. In truth, her bones were already broken. The woman wiped off her breasts, the right breast purple and swollen. The swelling spread across her sternum glowing with an angry redness.
The softness of her chest where her firm ribs should have been made the woman withdraw her hand quickly. When she finished cleaning Valerie and zipping up her survival vest, she said, “I am so sorry. I am going to have to carry you again," and she picked her up.
The cold had been unbearable, the movement worse, but when her weight shifted a great flash of light pushed her into the darkness. Falling through the darkness, she thought she could hear something—something not right.
The woman tried to quiet the nurse’s screams because they would draw predators. Predators of all kinds. She became worried when the screams stopped, but she decided she would carry her even if she died. He would want that.


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 Post subject: Re: LINK STATE
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:40 am 
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Your talent & imagination are remarkable!! Please MOAR when you have it :awesome:


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:clap: :clap: :clap:
Wondering what Marcus will do when he notices (mouse) is gone

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CHAPTER TWELVE
Marcus, Ezra and Bishop looked at the scene through their individual binoculars. The rolled vehicle had been pretty chewed up by heavy mounted weapon. The undercarriage showed damage which meant that the Rhode Islanders were still shooting at it as it rolled. The dark brown wet looking sand under the vehicles roof was all too familiar to the men surveying the scene. Everyone knew what dried blood in the sand looked like. The fact that it had leaked from the roof meant the bodies inside were in pretty bad shape.
When Bishop gave his assessment first, “I got six dead, not counting the ones inside, no wounded and some drag marks.” Marcus and Ezra concurred, then they loaded up into their combat vehicle.
The fire team that should have been with Valerie’s destroyed vehicle drove to a high dune for an overwatch position. As they found their lookout post one of the soldiers crawled into the turret to watch the horizon. Below them, the grim-faced occupants of the command vehicle were silent as they approached the scene of the overturned vehicle.
They rolled out of the vehicle, weapons drawn, covering their sectors of fire. When nothing moved, Marcus walked towards the enemy vehicle that had parked next to the rolled friendly. Marcus could see the bodies of his men inside the rolled vehicle and he knew this had been Valerie’s transport.
Ezra searched after Marcus and confirmed what Marcus saw. The vehicle did not contain her remains. The sigh of relief was unexpected even to Marcus, not completely sure of when he had become attached to the little nurse.
Ezra pointed out the atlatl darts that had killed the Rhode Islanders in the turret and on the ground. Pointing to the fletching he said, “These are not from the same group as the reactor site. These are of much better quality.”
He moved over to the tribal human lying dead next to another Rhode Islander, “This tribe is very sophisticated. This attack had been well planned. It almost seems that they were here to take her.” Everyone’s eyes followed the faint drag marks.
“They disappear at the top where they were exposed to the wind,” said Bishop, trying to navigate down the dune after a quick recon in the track direction.
Marcus stepped back and took a long look at the entire scene, then said, “Mount up! Let’s go home.” Bishop looked at the ground and shook his head, “Mount up! Go home? You’re kidding, right? We have to go look for her.”
Marcus slid into the passenger seat and stared through the windshield, “Look where son? This is their territory. They are probably watching us right now. Even if we did find her, I’m not sure we could take her. At least not alive. Our only hope is if the trainer returns and is willing to help.”
Bishop’s grief was palpable. He just stared at the ground, his eyes welled as he made the walk to the vehicle to take his position in the driver’s seat. Marcus’ brief radio transmission to the rest of the search party sounded cold and harsh, “Move out! We’re heading home.” The combat jeeps took off into the desert leaving only the carrion birds behind.
* * * *
The trainer stepped from behind the shallow dune where he had been sitting and listening to the desert. It had been three full days since the darts had been thrown. Much of the evidence in the sand had disappeared. Scavengers had shifted and moved the bodies with their tugging and gnawing. Still, the scene looked completely different to his eyes than to Marcus’. The atlatl darts were like signatures of the warriors.
Yaneera's dart stood tall from the body of a Rhode Islander and gave him pause. The prints in the sand screamed that they had been made in desperation. He could see the print where the toe of her boot dug in at the release of the dart. The shift of her weak foot to dodge an attack. Then he saw the drag marks from the vehicle. He could not think of a city person Yaneera would rescue other than Valerie, at least Yaneera thought enough of her condition to carry her.
He would not follow. The trainer needed to check the reactor site. There were still unanswered questions. The quiet desert dunes were a comfort to him. He felt at home here and was not even sure why. Maybe because in the desert, everything is a top tier predator. There are no second places. Either you are the best there is or you are food—nothing in between. Even the plants were the top of the food chain. They had the greatest ability to pull the moisture from the earth and the best defenses to protect it once they had it inside their bodies.
Moving over the last rise before the charred battlefield at the reactor complex, he could smell the burnt flesh and melted plastics. He sensed movement on the other side even though he could not see it. Maybe the way the birds patterned their flight. Maybe the noise of movement or the desert crickets going silent when they should be singing. He could almost feel the movement in the air.
He slid to the edge and pulled a long reed from his satchel. Finding a spot on the top of the rise that had drifted sand onto the ridgeline, he pushed the hollow reed through and gently blew the sand from the tube. He could now see what his senses told him would be there. The ferals had returned to loot the battlefield. To him they looked like feral dogs running in a city street. What they considered valuable would be either pretty or of daily use, mostly shiny things and knives.
He sat and watched the feral group’s dynamics. Two males and two females, probably bonded pairs. The fights over the combat knives each body carried caused friction between them. They argued over dominance and grunted at the collapsed entrance to what had once been their home—the rubble preventing them from returning.
He noticed as the pack split into groups of two. He decided he should move now before they split into singles, which would make movement amongst them impossible. He slid his shamagh over his head, the dusty cloth concealing the outline of his head and shoulders. The pace of his movement became glacial once he broke the saddle of a dune. Getting past the highest point would always be the most dangerous as your body would be silhouetted on the horizon.
Once on the same plane with the other humans he increased slightly in speed. As he neared the female feral in the closest pair, he crouched a few feet behind some battlefield debris. This obscured the feral’s vision of him and did not produce the wart on the base of an object that the hunters would notice. He inched closer, miming her; attempting to mirror her breath, movements and even her heartbeat in order to stay undetected.
When the trainer sat a few feet from her, he remained as still as the stones of the mountain, the smell of her body overwhelmed him. Her partner remained engrossed in the shiny things attached to the dead soldier’s body. Her attention focused on the boots on the soldier’s feet. He preferred them that way, focused deeply on something. Humans only saw what they wanted to see. He moved when they did, breathed when they did and froze when they stopped to look around them for predators. He desperately hoped that they would move on. That the collapse of the tunnel that led to their home would send them searching for new safety somewhere else.
His hope would be stymied by Mother Nature. A rock outcropping had crumbled with the explosion of the ballistic missile and the two separated ferals were sniffing at the pile of rock. Occasionally one would move a stone and sniff again, like an ant trying to find its nest. He waited and watched. With each shifted stone the feral primates, only two or three generations from civilized, grew more and more interested in the hole. Eventually they started to talk and grunt to each other and dig in earnest.
The ferals he sat next to took notice and grunted occasionally in the direction of the others. This is what he had feared. Sitting unknown among them, using their bodies to hide his own, he watched. The innocence of their actions pulled at his heart. They would have to die for a power struggle they did not understand.
He slid the slender pistol from its holster on his chest and just as the female, sitting at arm’s reach from him, showed interest in the digging, he pressed it against her head right behind her ear. She emitted a shallow grunt at the contact. He pressed the trigger. The light .22 caliber round made a low popping noise. She stiffened at the sound and rolled forward, her body coming to a stop in an awkward, face down, squat.
Her partner, who had glanced at the ferals digging at the cave-in site, snapped his head towards her. He was met by a human figure with an outstretched arm in front of his face. Another quiet pop and he sat down hard on collapsed legs. The trainer slid over to the body, and laid down beside it motionless and waited. The alpha male’s curiosity would bring him close. It did not take long before the large male came over and sniffed the bodies of his now silent companions.
The trainer, lying partially obscured, did not move, he only tried to match the breathing of the male. He waited. When the Alpha male pulled on the body of the female, the first of the trainer’s victims, the trainer raised his pistol. The feral stared at it for a moment too long. As he tried to follow the appendage to the creature it belonged to, the trainer pulled the trigger. The muffled pop raised an alarm for the remaining human. The young male stopped digging at the hole and looked at the three bodies, motionless and unresponsive to his grunts. Fear overcame him and he took off running across the desert.
The trainer decided this would do. He stood and stretched, satisfied with the situation. With three of the four dead and the fourth terrified of the location, he was confident the troop would not return. He dragged the bodies upwind of the rubble pile, hoping the decaying bodies would be enough to mask the scent from the tunnels. He covered the rocks with sand and debris so the ruined entrance was not visible from the dunes. The trainer left the scene, hoping that if any other ferals came around it would not attract their attention. Maybe those few had died to keep the rest of the tribe alive.


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 Post subject: Re: LINK STATE
PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 5:03 pm 
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Signing on . Can't wait to see where they're headed next . :)

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 5:56 pm 
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MOAR, please?

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Good chapters :clap: :clap:
M o a r please

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Glad you guys are enjoying it.

Mature content warning!

CHAPTER THIRTEEN
Azrael still stared into the valley from the embankment as the sun came up behind her. After a walk around the entire campsite, she could see that everyone had arrived. Satisfied with her troop, she returned to the sloped fake earth to watch the city people move through their morning.
They relieved themselves the same way her people did. They ate, moved and held each other the same. She wondered why they were different. Then, her animal mind took over and she didn’t care why they were different, only that they were. The warriors had seen her circle the camp and they followed her.
They watched when she watched and then when everyone had studied their prey long enough, they began to move into the brush at the bottom and sides of the embankment. Azrael thought, it would take them a full hand’s width of the sun to cover the distance silently in the brush. Then she would act.
She crouched and began the patient wait of a field general at the turning point of a battle. She couldn’t help but think about her last victory and the odd way it turned in her favor. How many of their watchers were already dead when we arrived? What had made it so easy that time and not any other? She could not shake the feeling they were being watched. Something was amiss that she could not pinpoint. She did know she would not make the mistake of thinking it would always be that easy.
Her people knew what they had to do. The sentries first, then the warriors. Then it would be her turn to draw out the powerful ones. The ones who always watched while the others fought. She could see the birds stir where her warriors made their way through the heavy forest on the edge of the village. She could see from her high vantage point the slight depression in the grass where her warriors crawled through it. They had been crawling all morning, so they would be close when the time came.
Tension mounted within her. If they were discovered now, it would be a loss she could not afford. The most powerful men would be killed by the belching weapons the city dwellers used. She waited. When one of the sentries passed close to the forest wall, she watched him silently dragged in by an invisible force. She hissed, her nipples growing hard with the pounding of her heart. Watching the men wage the silent war on the edge of the canopy excited her.
The next sentry snatched and dragged away made some noise and Azrael waited to see what would happen. The farmers in the field stood upright and looked around, then slowly went back to work. The warriors of the city people were not as quick to dismiss. They moved swiftly to the edge of the plot, closer to the origin of the noise.
The time had come and Azrael acted. She waived her arm to the group behind her and they all moved up to the edge of the embankment, visible to the entire valley. They immediately started yelling and running down the embankment. Having a visible threat trumped a suspicion and the warriors turned all of their attention to Azrael and the group charging down the slope.
As soon as the city dwellers were kneeling and shooting, Azrael’s group scattered and took up throwing positions. The distance hid the obvious from the city people, that the ferals on the embankment were mostly very young and very old. The young moved fast, but a few of her people who were old and crippled had died. No one of any importance. The mothers were safe inside the pillars behind her, the men in the safety of the canopy and the grass.
The first wave of atlatl darts from the old men and women had little effect other than to focus the warrior's attention from the village borders onto the visible adversary. The city people started to move across the field toward the overpass embankment to get better shooting angles when the hidden warriors in the grass stood and attacked¬, point blank, into the ranks of the civilized men. They all turned their attention to the enemy in their midst. This strategy was key to Azrael’s plan.
As soon as they were fully engaged, all the men from the surrounding forest burst from cover to close in on the groups who fought in the tall grass. Chaos took hold for a moment. It felt like a lifetime to Azrael, but once the warriors from the city were attacked on two fronts at the same time they folded and started to fall back into the settlement from the fields. Usually this would be enough for her, taking the ripe fields. This time the battle would be all or nothing.
The small village presented a perfect target for her plans; out of the way, lightly populated and situated on the edge of the canopy, before the drop off into the plains. If her plans worked, she could have hundreds of mothers with heavy bellies waiting for the spring to bring their children. Her men did not let up as expected when they had taken the field. They pressed the city people all the way to their homes and then some. Some of her warriors died, but not many.
This type of fighting, once you get them into the small alleys of the towns, did not suit the barking, fire breathing sticks the city people used for weapons. The short, heavy, sharp chunks of metal her people used were far better suited for close personal combat. She heard steps behind her, “Mura,” and then the warmth of legs touching her back. She stood and leaned back hearing Mura’s breathing, “Done?” Mura’s warm hands slid up her hips to her waist.
Mura, whom Azrael had always regarded as intelligent, figured out that the outcome had a different purpose. Azrael’s voice, thick with tension did not comfort her, “No!... Soon!”
With that, Azrael began descending the now quiet embankment. Once on the fields, some of the older men, not too old to fight, but well beyond their prime, tried to ply her with food from the growing plots of the villagers. Azrael walked past them, indifferent to the food. The meat and the fields were worth the effort, the deaths, and the traveling, but those things were not what she had fought for. She needed a survivor¬¬—one who had the knowledge she sought.
The battlefield remained a very powerful place. The screams and the killing of the wounded. The smell of blood and feces from the dead polluted the entire valley. Azrael, the predator, and the village her kill. She reveled in the smell. It made her nipples hard again and matted her pubic hair with wetness. She walked to the middle of the main street and waited.
“Az, Az! Here!”
Azrael knew the voice. She also knew the nickname the large heavy male used for her. He would be one who would challenge to be her mate for the tribe. She moved to the house from which her name had been called and entered.
The interior had been stuffed with things of the dwellers. A lot of the objects tossed about by the fighting. A male with a gaping wound in his head lay on the floor. She proceeded into the depths of the dwelling. The hallway, a charnel scene of blood-splattered walls, had chunks of flesh stuck to the drying splatter. “Here,” came from the last hole in the dwelling. These things live like rats, she thought to herself, entering the last box attached to the tunnel-like hallway.
The room felt different. The smell, the colors, the objects—very different indeed. The big male who called himself Cud-al squatted, facing away from her.
“Cud-al found,” he said. Azrael looked over his shoulder to a human figure huddled in the corner. She moved around the front of him to get a closer look. This one might know what I need it to know. When she knelt and reached for the human in the corner, she felt Cud-al slide up against her. His rough body against hers caused her back to arch involuntarily. His hand gripped her hip, “Cud-al found,” and then he smacked her hard on the butt before standing and leaving. She noted how excited the nearness of having a mate made her. She turned to see the large male leave, passing Mura in the hallway.
Mura made eye contact with Azrael with questions in her expression. Azrael thought, He is not my first choice either, but he is quick and strong. She went about the task at hand, the fate of the city child in the corner. When she grabbed it, the screaming started. Even after the all the screaming, Azrael still could not tell the sex of it. She pulled at the draped cloth on its body until she got down to the skin of it. Once she could see its skin, she pushed it down onto the ground and pushed its legs apart. Good! she thought, it’s a female, she will be easier to control.
Pulling the rest of her clothes off revealed a pale skinned young girl. Azrael’s stomach betrayed her and growled loudly when she looked at the girl’s naked body. She inspected her hands, the girl cried as she tried to keep them from being gripped. They had the calluses Azrael had been looking for. I hope she is old enough. The lightness of her pubic hair worried Azrael. Do they teach their young about seeds before they are fertile?
Azrael noticed that the screaming had stopped, her animal instincts told her, She will be easier to keep if she stops screaming. They will stop seeing her as food. They were used to the screaming of their prey.
One of the older men handed her a long thong of rawhide. Azrael took it and tied it snuggly around the young girl’s neck and led her from the room. Mura followed. She and Azrael hissed at those who tried to touch the girl. By the time they had passed through the small village and walked up the embankment where they had started their day, most of her people knew the girl belonged to Azrael. Back in her cathedral-like camp Azrael shoved her down onto a shaggy animal skin between her and the wall.
Once on the ground, the girl clamped her arms around her knees and curled into the fetal position. It is a good thing she won’t be eating tonight. She is docile enough now that she is alone. If she saw us eating her tribe mates it could be days before she recovered and became useful again. I could change my mind by then. Her animal mind and it’s urges were much more direct. She is not one of us, you should kill her and eat her before she becomes fertile. She is fat enough to be fertile now. Kill her and eat her, now! Her animal urges made her teeth gnash and her mouth slobber. The battle raged inside her well before the battle between the pillars even began to surface.
The pillared hall had become hot. The cooking fires had been high for hours. All of the meat in the city had been dealt with. Whether horse or goat, dog or human, all of it had been cooked and consumed or started on the drying process. Some meats would be treated differently than others. The city meat did not dry well. It went rancid very fast. The goat or fish would keep all winter. Humans you had to eat immediately.
With the cooking of the meat done, the large fires had been filled with stones to cook the food which had grown from the ground. They cooked a small amount on the hot rocks they had oiled with the grease from the meat. Hours later the camp had become docile. Everyone’s belly bulged with food, even the old and the sick. The plump mothers cuddled into a ball, their young attached to their breasts, sleeping.
Only the warriors still had business. Business many of the others in camp found important enough to stay awake for. A warrior named Marick made the first move. He came forward and placed himself facing outward to the tribe with Azrael to his back. He placed an entire string of knives on the ground—a treasure to be sure. He sat next to the knives and crossed his arms. Marick is too old. He will never succeed. “Mura” said her name when she placed a hand on Azrael’s back to comfort her.
A young buck moved forward with fire lamps collected from the village. Azrael thought, He is smart! How did he know I like the fire lamps? The new suitor surprised her. Lean with broad shoulders, but lacking the bulk of a mature male.
When Marick saw his approach, he bristled, his frame expanding by the threat of the competing suitor. He stood and the young male charged. Azrael grunted and rolled forward onto the balls of her feet. Marick spread his legs behind him and directed the young warrior downward. Once the momentum and the force of Maricks weight changed his direction, the young suiter’s face headed for the ground. Marick stayed on his back and hammered the young warriors head into the ground. Once there, Marick sank his teeth into his opponent’s back, removing a large chunk of muscle from just below the suitor’s neck. Marick jumped up and stood and while the other warrior screamed and clutched at the wound he then kicked him hard in the head, silencing him.
After circling with his outstretched arms, Marick calmly sat back down. Cud-al stood at a far fire, his bulk visible even from the distance. Mura rolled forward onto her hands and the balls of her feet next to Azrael and they barked in unison. When Cud-al came closer, his large erection visible, Mura humped the air in excitement.
Marick stood, the sweat of his body visible to everyone. They could smell his fear, but he stood his ground and let Cud-al approach. Cud-al roared his name and hefted a large chunk of steel onto, what would be to anyone else, a small tree trunk. He screamed his name again and swung the weapon down on the unconscious warrior in front of Marick, crushing the entire top half of his body. Cud-al squared his shoulders as wide as he could and roared his name again.
Azrael and Mura’s bodies thrashed in excitement, snapping their foam covered lips at the air. Mura bit at Azrael’s side, groaning and touching herself. Cud-al swung the weapon in front of him just short of Marick. Cud-al’s size, age and weapon proving too much for him, with a final glance at the damage that the weapon had done to the young male suitor, Marick backed away and faded into the fire pits.
Cud-al screamed his name for all to hear. Azrael, wild with excitement could not take her eyes off of him or his erection. Her wetness coating the entire back of her legs. Cud-al moved to the place Marick had occupied, and not bothering to sit, he waited a moment, assumed his victory, turned and started for Azrael.
“Cud-al!” Varen, the intelligent male with the damaged eye, roared Cud-al’s name. Azrael groaned and whimpered and started banging her fist on her chest. Grief and stress taking over the excitement. Varen walked into the cleared space with the dead warrior. While he walked, he pulled a large blade down his face and across his swollen eyelid. It gushed a viscous fluid opening his eye by relieving the pressure of the swelling.
Azrael stood and beat her chest with her hand, then banged Mura with her fist. Both of them not knowing how to deal with their excitement. The entropy of the contest effected everyone watching, they yelled and slammed their fists on the ground and on each other. Fights broke out among the smaller males, there was biting and screaming as the crowd grew louder.
Cud-al and Varen paused and stared at each other. Cud-al starting the movement by circling toward the bad eye. For a moment the tribe grew quiet with the tension. Cud-al more serious now that he had his real opponent for the tribe. Varen rolled his shoulders forward revealing their size then lunged at Cud-al. The large man jumped backward with a speed unnatural for his bulk. The large weapon came up to defend him, his face devoid of fear. The beating on the ground by the tribe started and grew louder now that they had engaged each other. Cud-al swung the mace as Azrael grunted through the froth forming on her mouth, Varen dodged and countered with the knife aimed at his body. Cud-al deftly used the handle to ward off the blade.
The stress of the fight made Azrael pace. When Varen let Cud-al move to the side with his bad eye, Azrael cried out.
Varen continued to bait him with his bad vision. Both of them moving in a deadly circle. Just as Cud-al moved out of sight, Varen turned to catch up. Azrael bit Mura as she ground her hips onto her.
Cud-al, hunting the bad eye in a circle that would end in one of their deaths, bared his teeth in a grotesque sneer. Varen stopped, where before, he had continued.
Varen watched Cud-al disappear completely onto his blind spot. Time disintegrated as Mura clutched at the fleshy arch of Azrael’s hip, letting herself be grabbed by Azrael’s teeth in the excitement. Both of them frothing at the mouth and clacking their teeth when they were not nipping at each other’s flesh. Azrael teeth painfully clacked, the frenzy had overtaken her mind. Cud-al flexed his entire frame launching the heavy weapon in an arc towards Varen’s head.
The entire tribe waited for the impact that never came. Varen dropped low and in a two handed grip, slammed a hammer stoke down on Cud-al’s thigh. The leg, extended to compensate for the weapon’s weight, made it the perfect target. The spine of the blade rode along the bone, the edge cutting all the way through and out. The enormous artery pulsed a jet of hot blood onto the feet of Azrael and Mura as the swing passed over Varen’s head.
Cud-al spun to the ground, his jaws clenched as his blood squirted onto the unnatural pale earth of the overpass. Azrael lost control, lust and excitement causing her to bark wildly at the entire tribal audience. Mura had moved away sensing the danger in Azrael’s blood lust. Varen, standing in his opponent’s growing pool of blood, stretched out his arms and growled. He walked slowly backward, spitting at the audience circle that had formed at the death of the powerful Cud-al. Azrael hissed as his backward pace brought him to the very forward edge of her sleeping skins. Varen growled again challenging the entire tribe. Azrael’s barks and grunts behind him gave him a huge erection. The circle of spectators closed as Varen turned to grab the frenzied Azrael. Mura watched the scene with her back pressing the wide eyed city dweller against the wall, protecting her.
Azrael bit him on the chest, hissing and spitting as she grabbed for his erection. Her breasts were tortured by the powerful squeeze of his hands. He turned her and pushed her to the ground.
The tribe watched as Azrael’s back arched as much as her body would allow, completely exposing herself to him. Varen gripped her hips and slammed himself inside of her. Her bark became low and guttural as he slammed himself into her again, her moans making him larger and harder. Show me to them, she thought as he grabbed her hair and pulled back hard, exposing her face and pushing himself deeper inside at the same time. He slammed against her hard, trying to elicit a scream while the tribe could see her face. She resisted his dominance for as long as she could, then her animal took over. The core of her mind spoke to her; Give him what he wants! and she screamed and started to buck wildly trying to find a rhythm with him. Her loud submission to him overwhelmed him and he exploded inside of her with a grunt of his own. Now buried inside of her and using both hands to pin her chest to the warm earth, he could feel her warm body rhythmically gripping him, her whimpers matching his throbbing body.
When he finally slid out of her, a gush of semen spilled to the ground. Panting hard, she rolled onto her side, the excitement having drained all the life out of her. He squeezed her hips and thighs trying to feel every inch of her all at once. She moaned and rolled under his hands.
Satisfied that she had given him another erection and wanting to make a statement to his tribe, he took up his spot with his back to her, protecting her in a moment of vulnerability and facing them as they went back to their own lives. The tribe, now having a capable bonded pair for their leaders, seemed to relax, the anxiety gone.
He heard movement behind him and Mura saying her name to Azrael before he heard licking sounds and more of Azrael’s moans. He would take her three more times that night. Mura, he would take once, just to be sure she understood her importance to Azrael would be accepted.


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 Post subject: Re: LINK STATE
PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2016 4:04 pm 
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Good chapter :clap: :clap:
What's next ?

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 Post subject: Re: LINK STATE
PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2016 9:52 am 
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Please MOAR!! :gonk:


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 Post subject: Re: LINK STATE
PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2016 10:44 am 
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CHAPTER FOURTEEN
The gloom of the coastal weather matched the moods of the Northern Rhode Islanders, much like the soot covered walls matched the night sky.
Niall had been in a fit of rage for the better part of the hour. The three bodies, already motionless in pools of blood, littered the floor of his lush quarters. The rest of his staff bobbed and weaved through the conversation, trying to avoid the aim of his pistol, “That son of a bitch didn’t even keep Vincent alive. I want him! I want him alive and in front of me so I can explain how disappointed I am in his job performance!” He said as he aimed his pistol at one of the dead bodies and fired.
The plump Chamberlain came into the room only to have the pistol instantly thrust in his chubby face, “You should probably have good news little piggy or I am going to feed you to one of my pets.” The rumors of the bizarre pets Niall kept were the basis for stories and whispers among the ruling houses. The orgies and murders were nothing but conjecture, but some of the parliament thought they should give credence to the rumors.
The Chamerlain’s voice started off as a stuttering whisper then grew into his full voice, “Yes sir, I do.” He pulled a piece of paper from the binder he had brought in with him. “This,” he said as he handed Niall a black and white computer printout of a picture. It had been transmitted by teletype from the ship in the Gulf of Mexico. The picture contained an old man on a small fishing boat with a decoration on the side. The decoration contained a picture of an old worn white house and underneath it read SSN 717 and under that Este Paratus.
“Why do I give a shit about an old man in a boat? You fucking idiot.”
The chubby man stood a little taller trying not to show fear to his violent master. “Because Sir, on the side of the boat, that is the conning tower placard from the USS Olympia, an Angeles class nuclear submarine.”
Niall took a closer look at the picture, “They are in Texas. There is nothing left in Texas. It could have drifted there from anywhere in the world—Guam, for Christ’s sake.” Looking back at the picture, “The last report put them on the coast by Quitana. That is just an old flooded shipping port that has been looted to the beams for five decades.”
“That’s not true Sir, we think there had been something there they could have used a sub to protect. It took some digging, but I found this,” he handed Niall a printed sheet of paper.
“Bryan Mound Strategic Petroleum Reserve?” he looked back at the distorted picture. “Holy Shit! It’s possible. An Angeles class sub is what, an SG6 and 25 megawatts. This could change everything.”
The Chamberlain lifted himself a little higher, ready to drop the information he still had, “It is even better than that, Sir. It is a reactor designed from a destroyer and could potentially make 150 megawatts under the right conditions.”
Niall could not believe his luck. Trying to remain calm, he whispered his orders to his staff, “Get them on the radio. We need to get them as much support as they need. No one talks about this. This will be our little surprise.”


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 Post subject: Re: LINK STATE
PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 1:21 pm 
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CHAPTER FIFTEEN
The darkness was warm and peaceful. Valerie’s family, her childhood pets and her dead friends from the military, they were all there. The pretty things she had seen as a small girl in the tribe lands. The memories comforted her and she didn't want to leave. The outside world seemed shrouded in a dense fog and felt very far away. She had no reason to go there even if she could. Then the void took her again, away from the memories which gave her comfort.
The woman grew weary from carrying the small nurse in her arms for so far. She figured she had maybe one more day, perhaps two if she didn't run into any predators. She felt a moment of regret that none of her party had survived the rescue. They would have been able to help her carry the nurse. Regret was new to her and it disappeared as fast as it had arrived.
They died good deaths and would have stories told about them. Her calm returned to conquer the struggle at hand. The nurse started to shiver again and the woman knew it was her animal trying to stay alive. She needed to get her warm again. She found a quiet spot up from the bank of the stream she followed. Walking the stream was a bad idea as all had to drink from it and the summer months had made everything aggressive. She had no choice; she had to be fast and fast was dangerous. The stream was very fast.
Valerie felt the world shift and the fog flashed with light. The smell of almonds left and Valerie’s world became cold. Then, damp earth flooded her senses. There was a wetness on her mouth and her body gulped on its own. She could almost see the muscles moving the cool liquid into her. It made her feel even colder and gave her the desire to be back in the void. Her body screamed as she felt tugging on her arms and legs. Then the racking pain of shivering convulsions. It lasted for what seemed an eternity until the smell of almonds returned. Then warmth took her and she cried as she fell into the darkness. No memories, no visions, just darkness and warmth.
The woman, after trying to get the nurse to drink water and giving up to the coughing and sputtering, removed the nurse’s clothes and her own. She put down the rough hand spun blanket and laid the nurse down. Valerie quieted when they were skin to skin under a second blanket and seemed to struggle less with her breathing. The woman wondered if the nurse would be alive when the morning birds started to sing.
Valerie had a brief flash of the world around her. It could have been a memory, she wasn't sure, but the beautiful tree canopy with the sun shining through it warmed her heart as well as her skin. One side of her body stayed warm, one side froze. It felt odd, the fire and ice dividing her body. She cried when the soft heated pressure left that side of her body cold as well. She wanted it back.
The night was uneventful, which surprised the woman. With the smell of blood on the nurse’s clothes and the proximity to the water, she was sure she would have to fight off something. Her muscles complained when she squatted to relieve herself. She wondered if they had a whole day left in them. If she could walk the whole day, carrying the nurse, she would be in her tribe’s summer lands and someone might find her.
They would be out hunting now. If the spirits were with her she would find a hunting party today. She could not let her muscles know that. She had to tell them that they were needed for the whole day. She left the nurse naked in the blanket, just taking the vest and pocketed possessions she had in her pants and shirt. She buried the bloodstained clothes on the riverbank, next to a stagnant pool of water to hide the smell.
This day, the carrying of the nurse wore greatly on both of them. The woman thought for a moment she could leave her or make a drag litter but she wasn't sure she had that much time. It would be faster to walk on bearing the nurse’s weight. She did not get as far as she had hoped. She saw cat spoor and had to change direction taking her away from her people. The woman apologized to the nurse she carried, "We will not have stream water tonight Mouse, it will be from a water skin." The nurse seemed to hear her and her eyelids moved a little. The woman thought, She lives now, only through her own will.
Valerie only recalled the pain of being laid down, pushing back the darkness, and then the warm softness releasing her from the pain.
As the woman lay naked next to the nurse, she looked at her. She was no longer pretty. Her left eye swollen, the swelling spreading over her nose and turning it into just a part of her cheek with holes in it. Both of her lips were split and hanging apart, the swelling threatened to tear them even more. Curious, the woman slid her finger into the nurse’s mouth and along her gum line to see if any of her teeth had survived. She was surprised when she found they were mostly intact. They were loose, to be sure, but she would keep most of them if she lived.
She tried to pry open the less swollen eye to see if it too remained intact, but it would not open enough for examination. She did not even attempt to open the left eye. She could not tell where the eyelids parted. The angry red flesh of the lids formed a single mass. Her chest had changed color a little. More purple now than before, which she thought was a good sign.
Unfortunately, now both of Valerie’s nipples leaked blood. The woman worried about what could be damaged inside of the nurse’s frail body. Moving down her left arm it seemed intact, but her wrist and two fingers were definitely broken. She slid her hand between Valerie’s legs and found her way through the folds of skin until she felt dampness. When she examined her fingers, she found only a little blood and a slight smell of urine. These were all things she had seen people in her village survive. The woman knew that if she died, it would be her chest that would kill her. She was not a bed mother, but she did know, if too many ribs were broken at the same time, you just stopped breathing and went to sleep. She thought to herself, if the bed mothers can keep her chest working, she would live. Now all I need is a bed mother. I should have brought one with me. She chuckled to herself, a warrior bed mother!
The morning brought with it the nurse’s unbroken hand holding the woman’s breast like a child would. Seeking its warmth and comfort. Something only your animal remembers. The woman smiled and thought, this is a good sign.
A full day later when she found a group she thought to be from her tribe, she pursed her lips and squeaked a distressed squirrel call. The hunters all stopped and looked, knowing it for what it was. They called back, "Yaneera, that you?" She returned with the squirrel call and said, "It is me." She could hear them walking towards her. Her vision obscured by the brush. Her legs were done; she could not even stand. "I cannot stand to greet you."
"Why can you not stand?" came from the wall of bushes. She shifted on her hips, "I have been carrying a weight for three days." The unseen person’s voice returned, "Only three days, you must be getting old, what weight did you carry?" The face emerged from the bushes into the small clearing where she had stopped. His lean dark body followed once it appeared safe in the clearing.
"I carried that weight,” pointing to the bundled up nurse in the blanket. He stooped to examine the nurse. "Puh! You should have dropped that weight, that is not worth carrying," pointing to the nurse. "The night dogs need to eat, it would be good for that, but not much more."
She forced herself to stand to use her unusual height to give her more presence, "That is his weight. I have carried it for him."
The hunter pointed at the nurse, "That is his?"
The rest of the hunting party came into the small clearing crowding it. The young men all carried the long atlatl darts they used for hunting.
"It is," she said.
The hunter handed off his atlatl darts to one of his hunting companions and then said, "I will carry his weight for you." He picked her up more gently than Yaneera would have expected after just saying she was good for nothing but animal food. Yaneera's legs could barely carry her the remaining miles to their summer encampment.
The camp was a bustle of activity. Kids running and laughing, the old men working, fletching into wood for the darts they would throw the following day—hopefully at large game. The women singing while grinding seeds into a powder. It felt good to be home. She would be able to sleep in her own dwelling with all things of comfort. She forgot about the nurse for a moment, but only for a moment.
Yaneera said, "Reeds, we need to take her to the bed mother." The hunter’s common name was Reeds because that is what his mother used to yell at him to get out of, to the torment of the village.
"There is no hurry, it will not live anyway."
She stopped and turned to look at him, "I will make sure he knows you said that if you do not hurry.”
"You would not! I carried your burden."
"I might not, but I will surely thump you while you sleep if you do not hurry."
"I have always wanted you in my lodge while I slept, but I will hurry for you." She smiled at the underhanded compliment from the prankster, while watching him as he lengthened his strides. At the lodge of the bed mothers, where Reed would not be allowed to enter, he gently laid Valerie on the bearskin at the door.
Yaneera knelt at the entrance and lifted a small corner of the hide that served as a door. "Oh bed mothers I am in need." From inside the lodge a crotchety voice of an ancient woman called back, "What is your need?"
Yaneera pulled back a little more of the door, "A woman dies here and she needs to live." A wrinkled old woman yanked the hides to the side. She had no teeth and only wisps of hair on her otherwise bald head, "No one is allowed to die on my bear skin without my permission. My son killed that bear and I am fond of it." Looking down at Yaneera, "You do not look to be dying." She then peered closer at the young woman wrapped in the blanket, "Puh! What is that? It is already dead!"
Yaneera dropped her head to look at the ground, "Oh bed mother, she needs to live. She is his."
The old woman paused, contemplating the plight before her, "Hmmm, you can bring her in, but I think she will die anyway." Yaneera gently picked up Valerie and took her into the lodge. Once inside, she laid the nurse down and opened the blankets. A heavy sigh came from the old woman. A few minutes later after she discovered what Yaneera already knew. The bones, the teeth, the fingers, the eyes—the old woman looked up and told Yaneera, “Have one of the tallest bucks bring an unwoven bottom basket ring and some fish hooks from his mother.”
Yaneera did what she was told. After the young man arrived he followed the bed mother’s instructions, he tied the ring to the lodge’s smoke hole. Then tied several long strings to it so that they reached the floor. When his tasks where completed she shooed him off, so she could begin working on the small nurse. She tied the large fishhooks to the strings suspended from the ring at the top of the lodge with adjustable slipknots.
Once she had arranged the knots to her liking, she wiped down Valerie’s chest with warm water and honey as a disinfectant. She ran her hand over Valerie’s chest and found the broken ribs, then told Yaneera to hold her.
"She is weak as a kitten. What are you going to do?" asked Yaneera. The old woman sneered at her and said, "Be quiet and do what you're told." Yaneera held Valerie's arms down and waited. The old woman cleaned the fishhooks and sank them into Valerie's skin directly above the broken bones. Yaneera could not believe what happened. Disbelief not only in the cruel fishhooks, but also by the nurse’s strength. When the old woman finished Yaneera felt like she had wrestled with a man.
The old woman looked at Yaneera and said, "Maybe she has some life in her yet. She might not be ready to die." She pulled the lines tight lifting the sunken spots on Valerie's chest and instantly, Valerie took a deep breath and her eyes fluttered. The old woman stood, "Were you her bed mother on the walk?"
"Yes, grandmother." Of all the old women in the tribe that she called grandmother; the old bed mother would always be the most distasteful. The old woman had always been mean and crotchety to everyone. "Then you will be her bed mother tonight." Yaneera's dreams of sleeping in her own lodge were crushed. The old woman put a liquid in Valerie's mouth and her breathing slowed and became more regular. "If she gets fitful give her some with this spoon, no more no less."
"Yes, grandmother."
The old woman gathered a blanket and said, “I will be back with the birds." She stood and left Yaneera to her fate. To Yaneera it really did not matter. Her exhaustion would bring sleep no matter where she laid her head. She took her clothes off and laid down next to Valerie's naked, fish hooked body. Covering herself and Valerie as best she could with the strings in the way. She fell asleep as soon as she stopped moving.
To Valerie the nightmare of the biting monsters was over and the fog had been replaced by floating. The soft warmth that pressed against her felt wonderful. This time her whole body entered, not the void, but floated on a warm comfortable sea. Maybe this was finally death, she thought to herself. It startled her to hear her inner voice again. Then the warmth claimed her and she slept. Fear, pain and horrible flashes of blinding heat clawed at her in the middle of the night. She could hear something and had a bitter taste in her mouth, but a short time later, she floated back down into the darkness surrounded by warmth.
Yaneera woke to Valerie trying to use her broken hand to pull out the fishhooks. She gave her a spoon full of the grandmother’s liquid and she quieted down. The nurse did not wake up again during the night. The old woman arrived early as she said she would. She gave Valerie some of the liquid after asking Yaneera when she gave it to her last. As she sent Yaneera off, she said, "Come back and sleep with her again tonight. She seems to respond well to you as her bed mother." Yaneera left to the sound of bones being set. The hideous snaps and crunches made Yaneera's stomach lurch.
She went to her lodge after bathing in the stream. She had intended to go on a late hunt, but when she sat down to gather her things she dozed off only to wake up as the sun was going down. With the night hunt ruined, she went to the bed mother’s lodge. The old woman told her to come in when she asked permission. Valerie was the same. Quiet with little resistance to her care.
The old woman stood to leave, "Tomorrow we will drain her eye. You should take a spoon full as well, you look like you slept all day and I need you against her when you sleep tonight." She did as she was told. Not fully understanding why she cared for Valerie and not a real bed mother.
The days droned on and on to Valerie. She would rise up out of the void to pain or movement and when it was gone, she would drift back down into the darkness. Sometimes at the surface, she would hear odd things. Things she didn't understand that came with the movement or the pain. "Hold her! Hold her! Yaneera, she will lose this eye if we don’t drain it," came with a nightmare of a creature biting her face and, "Oh mouse, why tonight, I'm so tired,” came with a foul smell and a wonderful dream of being in warm water up to her waist. Most of the days she just floated. Every time she drank from the spoon, she just floated trying to swim into the darkness where there was peace. She always got the spoon after the broth. She waited for it to take her away.
By the end of the first week, Yaneera was worried, "Grandmother I must hunt or I will starve in the snows. I do not have a man in my lodge and no one will provide for me."
“Maybe you should hide your pride and get a man!" smirked the old woman. "She is not getting better and I do not plan to starve this season." When the old woman left for the night, she went to find Reeds.
She found him by his lodge fire, "Does your sister Trit have sewing or cooking to do tonight?"
"Why? Are you too lazy to do yours?" He asked with a smile.
"Send her to the bed mother’s lodge. I need her tonight." He rocked his head back and forth mocking the thought of doing it, "I will ask her if she cares too. Maybe you will come into my lodge and knock me on the head tonight. I would like that." The big cheesy smile was infectious.
She laughed loudly at his implication, "You would make a good husband. If you learned to hunt, I might lodge with you." He laughed and threw a hand full of dirt at her, "I will send her when she is done with her chores. We hunt the river tonight and would like your eyesight with us if you are planning what I think."
She turned and walked away saying, "I will see you first at the river tonight," bragging about the quality of her night vision.
That night, after the old woman left, a small girl showed up at the skin tent of the grandmother. The tiny voice said, "Yaneera are you in there?" She squeaked when Yaneera threw back the deerskin door, "What do you need me to do in the grandmother’s tent? She’s not here is she? She’s mean! This isn't going to anger her, is it?"
Yaneera fuddled with all the questions coming so fast, "Trit, take a breath. She is not here, she probably would not be happy if she found out, but I will be back before her."
The young girl looked around, her eyes adjusting to the dim light, "What do you need me to do?"
Yaneera patted the bedding next to Valerie, "I need you to be her bed mother tonight. I don't want to leave her alone, but I need to hunt for the snows."
The young girl withdrew a little, "Yaneera, I am just a plant sister, I am not a bed mother. What if I do something wrong?"
Yaneera tried to be patient, "You won't do anything wrong. I just need you to lie next to her while I hunt. I will give you one of my fish bugs."
Trit's eyes lit up, "One of the fish bugs you make? You make the best lures of everybody."
Yaneera smiled, "Yes, one of the ones I make." Trit was interested now, and then trepidation overcame her, "Not even all of the real fishermen have one of your lures. How will I explain it? They'll ask, you know they will."
"You tell them I got the belly rot real bad and you fixed it, so I could hunt."
Trit beamed at the thought of everyone thinking she helped one of the hunters and had one of Yaneera's lures. It was almost too much, “I’ll do it."
Yaneera went about explaining everything, "Only give her one spoonful if she wakes up and gets restless." She pulled back the blankets, revealing the fish hooks that were still in Valarie’s chest; Trit's demeanor remained steady.
"Are you using the fish hooks to fix the ribs so she can breathe?" Yaneera helped Trit undress. "Yes, they make her able to breathe."
They pulled the blankets back, enough for Trit to slide in next to her, Trit said in a whisper, "Why doesn't she have any hair between her legs or under her arms?"
Yaneera chuckled, "There is nothing wrong with her. Where she comes from they remove it." As Yaneera was stooping through the hide door, she heard, "Weird," from inside the lodge.
Yaneera spent the next few nights hunting with her peers. The nights of failure she was ridiculed by those not fond of her, but the successful hunts she was rewarded with praise from everyone. The night she was the one who made the kill, entitling her to a larger portion of the meat, became the night that meant the most to her. She used this tiny gift of power to expand her place in the tribe.
Making an ally where an enemy once stood. She shared equally the body of the animal with the other hunters, “My larder is full and I do not yet have children, I will not be greedy today,” said plainly, before she went about hunting the next animal in the wetlands by the river.
During the hunting season, the women dressed the hides and collected other edibles, which left the old men of the group bored. The older women were too busy for chasing and all the young bucks were busy trying to prove themselves as hunters. The old men had the fire, the pipe and occasionally the mushroom. This particular evening, it was just the fire and the pipe and old stories.
The trainer walked from the shadows into the circle of old men. The old man facing him startled and he tried to hide it with a stretch. “Ink-Tah Yah-ik-tee,” the elder greeted.
The trainer set down the load he was carrying. “Grandfather, I will sit at your fire, but I am not Yah-ik-tee. I am not dead. I am just a man like yourself.”
The old man picked up his pipe, “So you say, Yah-ik-tee. What do you carry today?”
The trainer pulled the bundle into the circle after sitting down by the fire. “Grandfather I have no fire-pit, can I cook my dinner in your camp?” It was the only way to offer a gift of food to the elders in a manner that would not insult them by assuming they could not feed themselves. Opening the bundle, he revealed a deer quarter filled with cleaned rabbits.
“You can cook your dinner here. We would enjoy your company,” the trainer pulled out his own pipe and tobacco and quietly loaded the bowl while the old men watched him. The oldest man was first to talk, “We have heard many things from the young bucks. Is it true? We have something of yours?” The Trainer, with his long pipe fully lit, responded, “You might have something, but I am not sure it is mine. Does she live?”
“Mmmm,” the old man nodded while he pulled on his pipe, “She is alive, today. Tomorrow?” he shrugged.
“Have you finally taken a wife Yah-ik-Tee? If you are going to spend this much time in our world, you should have a wife.” All of the elders around the fire nodded in agreement.
“No Grandfather, she is not my wife, she has been my bed mother in the city.”
The old men looked at each other. Both the cities having bed mothers and the trainer needing one brought shock to their faces. “They have bed mothers in the city? I thought they just hooked people up to machines or let them die.” More nods from the circle of men around the fire.
“They have them. They just do not know that they do. They cannot see the difference between a woman and a bed mother.” This brought laughs around the fire. The trainer continued, “When she is healed she will make a fine warrior for your people.”
All of the old men stopped laughing and stared at him, “Yah-ik-Tee, you mean bed mother. You said she was your bed mother.”
The Trainer pulled long on his pipe, “I said what I meant to say.”
“Puh!” One of the men spit into the fire, stood and left, “We are just old men, but no one really believes that you can be both, except, maybe the old women.” Laughter again ensued.
“She is both. I have had her care and heard her songs! Songs so great that they were written so they could never be forgotten.” He casually thumbed the bowl and re-lit his pipe, “If she lives. Where is she?”
The old man seemed concerned about what to say, “Reeds placed her at the door of the old woman.” The Trainer hoped Yaneera was alive.
“Reeds?” The old man nodded. “Yaneera could not carry her any more. She had done so, alone, for many days. The fight with the city people took our warriors from us.”
The trainer was saddened by the village’s loss, “I will say his name when I count coo on a powerful warrior.” The men around the fire responded with large eyes. That was truly a great compliment coming from a warrior spirit.
“I am sorry you have lost warriors for things I should carry.” He stood and walked into the darkness. The elders talked long into the night. About whether or not he was real and had actually visited them and if they should eat the meat, he had provided. The subject of warrior bed mothers was not discussed. Being from another world, Yah-ik-Tee might not understand what he was saying. He must have just made a mistake.
Yaneera could hear the yelling from the edge of the village. She started running as soon as she came out of the brush and into the village clearing. The old woman’s voice was obvious above the screams of little Trit.
“I knew something was going on, how dare you pretend to be something you are not," pushing her into a corner with her walking stick.
Trit, defending herself with the look of someone fighting for her life, pushed at the stick with a deer antler, "Get away from me."
Yaneera rushed into the tent to see the woman advancing on the young naked girl, "It is my fault grandmother, she is here for me. She has done nothing that I did not ask her to do." The old woman spun on her, raising the stick, growling in the tongue of her grandparents.
Trit, in a weak voice, spoke, "She talked to me this morning." The women stopped to look at her and in unison, said, "What?" Then Trit again meekly stated, "She talked to me this morning."
Both of the women looked at the nurse lying on the skins, "You don't know what you're talking about,” growled the old women as she knelt and nudged the nurse.
"Are you alive woman? Speak to me!" The nurse did not move. The old woman nudged her harder, "Wake up!"
"Stop it!” Trit yelled at the grandmother.
The insolence stunned the old woman, "You little piece of dung! You will not insult me in my own lodge!"
Trit, still naked, moved past the old woman and laid down next to Valerie. She pulled her uninjured hand to her and placed it on her chest, “What is her name?" Yaneera spoke over the old woman before she could interrupt.
"Valerie! Her name is Valerie!" Trit’s face wrinkled up at the odd pronunciation. "Valree, come back to me Valree." The nurse’s eyes fluttered. Yaneera spoke, “Her name is Val…” The old woman silently interrupted her with a look and shaking of her head.
Trit ignored the old woman and focused on Valarie, “It's okay Valree, come to my voice."
In the darkness, Valerie could hear a song that drew her from the darkness. The sweet and lilting voice called to her. It wasn't the void of the spoon, or the darkness of the pain. She wanted to move to it. It felt better than the darkness. She opened her eyes to a blur that gradually turned into another set of eyes close to her face, "It's okay to be here, you belong here."
Valerie responded, "Where is here?"
Yaneera laughed, "You did it Trit; you brought her back to us." The old woman humphed and left the lodge.
"Oh! They will sing songs about you Trit, I promise!"
Trit ignored Yaneera and continued to pet Valerie's hair and look into her eyes as she spoke, "You are in my village and very safe and it is okay for you to be here." Valerie smiled and fell back into a normal sleep.
The old woman on leaving her lodge ran into the trainer. When she realized whom she had run into, she let out a loud screech. "Go away! You have killed recently! I can smell death on you. Yah-ik-Tee you carry death in your pocket you cannot be here. I cannot have death in my lodge. You do not live in this world, you cannot have her yet." She pushed at him until he backed away from her a step.
"She lives then?"
The old woman yelled, "You cannot have her."
Yaneera emerged from the lodge, "She lives, she is not as pretty as she was, but she lives," she said smiling. "Koris, I am glad to see you," she said to the trainer, the name brought back vague memories from another life. Name tags on clothes he could not remember putting on.
The warriors gathered at the commotion, stirred and talked rapidly when Yaneera stood close to the trainer. "Yah-ik-Tee, be careful or you will end up with two wives in this world, and that is too many for even a spirit," the other men who had gathered laughed.
When Yaneera backed away to a respectable distance for her people, he spoke, “Bring me her vest to the fire tonight.” As he headed towards the woodland scrub surrounding the mobile village, the murmurs among the old men grew in intensity. Yaneera went back into the old woman’s lodge. The old bed mother spoke from the lodge’s door, “You should not spend time with death spirits! He could take you to the other side and you would not know until you were there and had no way back.” Yaneera just shook her head, “He is not a spirit grandmother. He is just a man.”
That night at the community fire Koris walked out of the shadows and asked, “Can I cook my food at your fire?” Most of the group jumped and startled a little as he set down a string of rabbits.
“Yah-ik-Tee, you can cook your food on our fire.”
He sat down to a very large space created for him in the circle. He did not mind that they did not sit close to him. The space gave him comfort.
Yaneera saw him by the fire and approached. She sat outside of their circle, and spoke to him quietly. “I have her vest,” she said as she handed it to him.
“Woman! You should be careful giving personal belongings of those still alive to one who is on the other side!” Yaneera sneered at the old man who had spoken.
Koris interrupted the exchange, “It is ok Grandfather, I am not keeping it. It has secrets that the old woman would want to know, but she will not speak to me.”
The old men nodded, only one dared to respond, “She spends so much time hiding people from death that she is afraid you will make her easy to find, and then all the people that she cares for will go to the other side.” The other old men continued nodding and pulling on their pipes.
Koris pulled the vest onto his lap and proceeded to show, with much amazement, the contents to Yaneera, “Does she have rot or fever?”
Yaneera nodded, “Some on her face, she has some puss, not bad—but if it gets worse she could lose an eye.” He pulled the antibiotics out of the survival vest, “Give her these and the puss will disappear. Make sure you take care of this,” with that, he handed back the vest. “She will need the other things in it when she is better.” Yaneera took back the vest and said, “Tomorrow we will glue the skin above the broken ribs to a rawhide corset and she will be able to stand. Perhaps, next week she will walk.” She stood to return to her fire, then smiled at him, “Thank you.”
The elder of the circle said, “Yah-ik-Tee are you sure you are not trying to get two wives? She would make a fine one. It might take a spirit warrior to bring that one into a lodge.” All the old men laughed.
When they were finished joking the trainer said, “She is very fierce indeed. When the city dweller is walking well, I will ask her what world she would like to live in. I think I am very pleased that she will live. Your people have taken care of something of mine and I am grateful.”
When the man that used to be Sergeant Samuel Koris noticed one of the men he had trained standing on the perimeter of the village, he made his departure. When he was close enough, he signed to the quiet sentinel, Tell them she is alive, but will not be returning anytime soon.
The old men of the village spent most of the night discussing what happens when a spirit warrior is grateful and what would happen if she were to die in their care.


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 Post subject: Re: LINK STATE
PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 5:06 pm 
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Thank you for sharing your story here.
It's a very good book, and I'm hooked! :)


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