General Wang finally made it back to his office. After shutting and locking his office door he headed for the filing cabinet. He slowly spun the dial of the electronic combination lock built into the top shelve. After disengaging the lock, Wang opened the second drawer and fished out a file labeled maps. He placed a file place marker in the drawer and shut it. Taking the file with him to his desk, he sat down to look through the file for the maps he wanted. He quickly found the maps he wanted. Wang set the maps to the side of his desk and replaced the file in the drawer.

General Wang pushed the intercom’s button. “Have my helicopter readied at once. I want to be in the air in ten minutes. I also three of my security personnel to join me for the flight,”

“Yes sir,” the aide said knowing that the General was not listening. The aide called over to the hanger to tell them to prep and ready the helicopter for flight in 10 minutes. Then he called the Security Officer, a Lieutenant Zhou to have three of his men join the general for the flight.

Having found the maps he needed and arranging for transport. He needed to look the part. General Wang quickly walked over to the other side of the room. There he unlocked the wall locker and proceeded to change into a flightsuit complete with a flight vest, boots, gloves and helmet. After he had changed he place the dress uniform on hangers and carried them and the helmet bag to his outer office.

Wang walked up to his aide and dropped off his dress uniform and shoes on the young man’s desk. “I want the uniform cleaned and pressed and the shoes polished by the time I get back,” he ordered, then turned on his heels and strolled out to the hanger without saying another word.

General Wang was heading for the stairway to the tunnels when he caught sight of one of the guards kept to keep the criminals inline. “Have a few of the workers taken to the tunnels and have them clean them up. It’s a pig’s sty down there,” he told the man.

As the general made his way through the tunnels he could not but help to see that there were many games of chance being played. Nor could he fail to see that there were copious amounts of drinking being done. The racket for all the talking was exceedingly loud. The smell from all the unwashed bodies and trash was overwhelming. There was even bottles filled with what looked like urine lining the walls. With all the smoking that these men were doing the fire alarms had to be taken offline.

The general climb the flight of stairs to the hangers main floor and he made good his exit. General Wang was never so happy to hear the whine of the helicopter’s engine. The General could not hide the look of distain from his face. Soon he would have men here that would only answer to him. Then he could show the mercenary scum where they belonged, with their necks under the heel of his boots. Then he could move on with his plans for the rest of all the artifacts yet to be sold.

The hanger was even crowed but at least here the air was not as foul. Once out of the hanger the general could breath. The general casually walk up to the aircraft. It was a civilian version of the S&T air Viper2 that had been sent to the General from the committee. He had since had the aircraft modified and armed.

As he approached the aircraft he could see that the copilot’s set was empty and that there were 3 guards in the rear cargo area. One of the ground crew was standing next to the open hatch to help the general into the aircraft. Wang handed his helmet bag to the man and climbed nimbly into the aircraft’s cockpit. Then he reached over to accept his gear from the man holding the hatch for him. Once seated and strapped in he reached into his bag and pulled out his helmet and handed the pilot the maps. Wang pulled on his helmet and connected the Internal Communication System (ICS) cable to his mic. “Pilot this is where we are going. But first I wish to inspect the damage to the bridges and the power sub-station. Are we ready to go, pilot?”

“We are green across the board and we have 1000 liters of fuel.”

“Then you may proceed.”

The pilot then air taxied to the helipad and the aircraft rose into the air smoothly and quickly into the bright and clear sky.

“Take us south and follow the road. Once I have inspected the damage, I want you to head north following the highway. We will be looking for survivors from the missile attacks last night. If we spot any I will want you to land near then so I can speak with the men.” The general know that the men in these isolated units, could provide the manpower he needed to keep the mercenaries inline and insure that the chairman’s hired killers never get the chance to ever collect their blood money.

As the aircraft and its passengers were rising into the air heading south the radio came blaring to life in the General’s helmet. It was so loud that the message was garbled. After adjusting the volume for his helmet, he asked that the message be repeated.

“General Wang, sir this is Lieutenant Bing,” said the disembodied voice in the general’s helmet.

“Yes Lieutenant Bing, what is so important that you broke proper radio protocol?” asked the general sternly.

“My apologies General Wang. I must inform you that we have lost contact with the troop carrier and the squad assigned to it. They were in mid transmission when we lost them. We have tried to raise them several times to no avail.”

“What was their last transmission?”

“They reported that they were engaging someone.”

“Who were they engaging Lieutenant Bing?”  Shouted the general as he lost his temper.

“That is unknown, sir. They went off the air before they finished saying. We have also tried raising the squad. They too are not answering their radio.”.

“They are enlisted troops. They were most likely conscripted right off the streets or the farm. I’m quite sure that they don’t even know how to use their radio. As for the troop carrier, it is old and unreliable. Their radio may have just failed. We will check this out.” said the general.

What the general said was true. His troops here had been pulled off the streets and farms to fill boots. They were poorly trained, and in this case they were not really soldiers but prison guards. Their equipment was old, even by the Chinese army’s standards. The fact that only the troop carrier and the squad leader had the only radio’s for that group was lost on both men.

The general looked over to his pilot and motioned for him to hurry up and get on the way. The pilot dropped the nose of the aircraft and increased his rate of speed and his rate of ascent. As they rose above the tops of the trees on the surrounding hills smoke could be seen rising into the air.

“Get us there quickly!” said the general to the young pilot.

“Yes general.”

“When we get there, put us in a hover, I need to see what happened.”



“Okay Diesel, it’s time for us to move cross the river, I want you behind me and Tex while we cross. Tex, is that radio and computer secured?” asked Gunny as he surveyed the rest of the men.

“Radio and computer are secured and watertight Gunny.”

“And just why am I to stay behind you two during the crossing?” asked Diesel.

“I don’t want to give those two yahoos any chance to draw a bead on you at all. I don’t have the time or the energy to break in a new officer.”

“Fair enough, once we got over, Gunny I want you to take the men there and head for the OP. I will stay and bring the balance with me once the rest cross. Tex you’re to go with Gunny.”

The river crossing continued without a hitch and the rest of the platoon crossed over quickly. Diesel stayed at the river waiting for third squad as Gunny and Tex headed for the OP with the first and second squads.

Gunny set a ground eating pace for the men with him. This pace would allow them to fight a pitched battle if need be once they got to the OP. They only had to stop twice on their trek to the down men. On one occasion it was to gather the supplies to make two stretchers. The other was when he stopped on the same hill crest that Greywolf and Doc paused at. Gunny noticed the disturbed earth and crushed plants where Greywolf fell.

“Jefe this is Gunny. Over.”

“This is Jefe. Over.”

“We are at the crest of the hill overlooking your position. We are coming in. Over.”

“We copy, you are coming in, over.”

Gunny then turned to the men gathered around him. “First squad I want you to setup to provide covering fire. Second Squad you are with me.” Gunny changed his radio back to the command freq. “Diesel this is Gunny, Over.”

“Go for Diesel, over.”

“We are on the hill behind the OP. First squad is in overwatch on the hill. Second squad and myself are heading in. Over.”

“Contact me when you get there. Out.”

Gunny turned back to second Squad. “Second squad move out.” The Marines quickly made it to the OP. All they needed to do was to assemble the stretchers and put the men on them. Gunny called Diesel. “Diesel this is Gunny, over.”

“Go Gunny, over” Came Diesel voice through the radio.

“We are loading up the men now. We will be ready to move out in less than five mikes. Over.”

“How are they Gunny? Over,” asked Diesel.

“We’ve seen worse, a lot worse. Over,” stated Gunny grimly.

A vision a firefight from over a month ago flashed through Gunny’s mind. This one in particular really hurt. Joker was lying on his side. Tuffs of dirt were kicked up around Joker as the enemy was trying to stop him. With one bloody hand Joker was holding in his steaming, oozing guts that kept sliding out through the gaping wound to his stomach. The smell was horrible, and the sight sickening. Jokers other hand was squeezing off 20 rounds bursts from his M-384. Even as grievously wounded as he was Joker kept up his withering fire to support his fellow Marines that were pinned down by a superbly executed ambush. Joker knew his life was slipping away, as his guts keep slipping past his hand. Joker roared as he directed his fire into the enemy, his volume of fire increased as the weapon started to cut down small trees as well as the enemy.

Gunny ran to up to Joker and took cover next to the wounded Joker. Gunny could hear the enemy round passing him. Some of the rounds were striking the ground and trees about him. Gunny felt and heard two rounds slam into his body armor. Gunny was firing his weapon one handed as he motioned for the corpsmen to get up there. Gunny started yelling orders and directing the Marines that were with him to form up in a skirmish line. He knew speed and mass fire were the keys to getting out of the ambush. As one the men in the skirmish line opened up on the enemies positions.

Joker knew this also. Joker felt the enemy rounds punching through his armor. Some had pass through his body where there was no armor to slow the rounds down. Joker wedged his finger into the trigger to keep his weapon firing as he died. Gunny saw a blood and dirt covered Grumpy running towards the fallen Joker.

In Grumpy’s hands were two, 2000 round box mags for the M-384. Joker’s weapon had finally run dry. The corpsmen did a quick check on Joker then he was quickly moving off to help other wounded Marines that were screaming for help. Gunny moved off to the right to give Grumpy room to reload the M-384 and take over for Joker.

Gunny, from his new position could see that Surfer had moved his fireteam up into cover, Where they were reloading their weapons. The enemy had planned on this and executed a well timed ambush as three men jumped upped from the bushes and thick undergrowth and made to attach with bayonets. Gunny snapshot one of the three. Surfer bashed another one’s brains out using his rifle. Pipes meaty hands quickly grabbed the barrel of his opponent’s and shoved it away from his body as Pipes stepped in to close the distance. Gunny watched as Pipes’ opponent let his hands slip from the weapon one hand grasping for a combat knife as his other threw a haymaker for Pipes’ face. Pipes slapped the man’s attempt to hit him with a haymaker inside the two of them thus blocking the man’s knife attack. Pipes left hand shot out and the edge of it struck the enemy in the throat with enough force to crush the man’s windpipe. The man dropped the knife and gave Pipes the opening he wanted. Then as quick as a striking snake, Pipes stepped in even closer and grasped the man’s head in both of his massive hands and with a sharp jerk, the man’s neck snapped.  Gunny stepped to his right to get into cover. Doing a quick look around Gunny spotted the platoon leader Lieutenant Smith.

Lieutenant Smith was hunkered down behind a massive tree. He was shouting incoherent orders into the remains of his radio. Gunny looked back to Grumpy, that’s when he saw the grenade looping through the air. Gunny screamed out a warning and dove for cover in a depression. The grenade landed less than 5 feet from the body of Joker and Grumpy. Then the grenade went off. Joker and Grumpy were now a large bloody mess of mangled flesh.

Lieutenant Smith was not even hit.

With a slight shudder Gunny was back in the present “Yeah Diesel we’ve seen worse. Over,” said Gunny.

“Understood Gunny. Out,” replied Diesel.

Gunny turned to look Doc in the eyes. “Will they need a dust off or can they continue with the mission Doc?”

“I don’t think they will need a dust off. The human ear is really an amazing thing. Given time it can repair ruptures. They may have a loss of hearing now, but they might get some or all of it back. I really don’t like calling for a dust of this far into Charlie’s backyard and this close to the objective to boot.”

“I can understand that,” replied Gunny.




General Wang sat at his handmade, polished mahogany with cherry wood inlaid desk. The high glossy shine made it appear that the desk had a glass top. The cool air from the air conditioner was cascading over his body from the vent directly over his head. In his left hand he held hand rolled Cuban cigar while the other hand was gently swirling a glass of 21 year old Poit Dhubh scotch. The ice was softly clinked the sides of the glass. The privilege of rank thought the general.

The General’s office, like the man himself was spotless. He had all the proscribed photos on the walls. As a General in the Chinese army he was given some latitude as to his office decorations. His personal possessions were very few indeed, most were on his desk. These were just small mementos from his rather undistinguished career. The only large personal item was the wet bar with the built in humidor.

Just moments ago he ordered one of the two aging APC’s and a 10 man unit to go out on patrol around the remains of the two bridges and the power substation. He was not sure if he should send the second one to the site of the destruction of his former command. He needed to clear his mind and think. He also ordered that the Doctors Porters be taken to their new field. He glanced at the computer printout centered on the desk blotter, the site apparently held some promise.

General Wang placed his drink on the thick cut crystal coaster. The cigar he put on the edge of a large cut crystal ashtray from the same pattern. He stood up and adjusted his uniform, smoothing out any winkles. The use of a soft brush removed any ash that might have fallen onto his uniform. After insuring that all of his medals and ribbons were straight and spotless he finished his drink and extinguished the cigar. He pressed the intercom button. “I am heading to the storehouse.” The general did not wait for a reply for there was no need to the young aide to give a reply.

The storehouse was a large building at the rear of the base near the fence line and next to the boat house and dock. The building had no windows but had three large delivery doors. The building like the rest of them on the base, were made of poured concrete, block and mortar, the roof was made from steel. The exterior of the building was covered in a heat and radar absorbing composite material. The composite material was to keep the prying eyes of the various spy satellites form spotting the building from space.

The storehouse was where all of the valuable items that the troublesome Doctors and students had unearthed. Within the storehouse was a second building called the vault. This room was especially built to house the really expensive items. The walls of this room were 2 inch thick steel. Computer controlled environment and special lighting. This room was the general’s destination.

General Wang left his outer office and headed towards the stairways that descended to the tunnels that connected all the buildings on the base. These were not the rough and dirty tunnels of a mine. These tunnels were also made from poured reinforced concrete. Each tunnel was clean, painted and kept spotless, until recently that is.

This base with its buildings and the tunnel network were build using convicted criminals from various prisons around china. The General with the use of a large fund from the chairman had bribed the wardens for the use of their prisoners. Most of the prisoners were on death row for various crimes.

All the materials used in the construction of the base had been supplied through various outfits, organization, groups and companies that had ties to the Committee. More bribes were spent on the importation of the material.

At the end of the construction most of the criminals had their sentence carried out. Lt Zhou had overseen that bit of work personally. With all the costs of the manufacturing, shipping and bribes that went into the building of this base. To the chairman and the committee the cost was worth it. Within a month of its construction the base had paid for itself.

the influx of the mercenaries that were sent to supplement his own troops, there was not enough beds to go around. So the over flow of men were relegated to the tunnels. This led to the stench of unwashed bodies and trash that assaulted the general’s sense of smell when he opened the door to the stairwell.

At least the barbarians had not taken over this section yet thought the General. He made his way from the admin building to tunnel one, which ran north to south. He had to pass through several fire doors to get to tunnel 6 which ran from east to west. Once in tunnel 6 it was a short walk to the door to the stairwell that led to the storehouse.

He opened the door to the stairwell and proceeded to climb the stairs to the storehouse security door. The smell of urine struck him hard. This people are pigs he thought. They should be lying in their own filth like real animals do, his thoughts continued.

At the top of the stairs was a state of the art security door. The general methodically typed in his ID and password and then pressed enter on the keypad built into the door. A small slot opened on the box located above the keypad. He pressed his face to the slot making sure that his eyes were peering straight into the optical scanner. The door clicked open and with a slight push the door opened fully.

The storehouse was filled with item from the many different ages and dynasties that had ruled china. The item ranged in size from bits and pieces of pottery to large intrickrely carved statues to even larger than life animals.

There were literally thousands of pieces of artifacts kept here. Statues carved of stone, marble, or cast in bronze. Other item were small enough to be kept in locked glass cabinets like statuettes, plates, and bowls, arrow heads to spear points. Personal items also were there. Scrolls, books, letters, jewelry and clothing had been found. These items had been restored, cleaned and tagged. Each item was for sale on the black market.

The General made his way among the open spaces, the shelves, and the cabinets to the northwest corner of the storehouse. Here was the vault. This was where the general kept the really expensive items, the ones he had not reported to the chairman or his committee. This was his retirement fund.

When the general got to the door of the vault he placed his left hand on the palm reader. The scanner hummed to life from the heat of his hand. The protective cover on the doors keypad slid up. Again the general repeated the process of typing in his ID but typed in a different password. The security door’s computer then opened the slot on the optical scanner’s box. Again the general pressed his face onto the slot and made sure that he was staring straight ahead so that the scanner got a good read of his eyes. The door to the vault opened with a small click and a hiss as the pressure was equalized.

General Wang stepped into the vault, turned on the lights and shut the door. There before him was an antique desk. On both sides of the desk positioned on pedestals were two jade and gold dragons. The craftsmanship that went into making such things of beauty was breathtaking. Each dragon stood about 7 foot tall without the pedestal.

Beyond the dragons the general’s gaze fell on glass display cabinet filled with death masks, weapons from ancient rulers, the mummified remains of two such rulers one in a jade suit of armor, the other in his royal robes. Rare and intact porcelain and pottery, some with the contents still sealed inside, lined the shelves. Then there was the rarest of the rare, manuscripts, done by hand and beautifully preserved.

General Wang took a seat at his desk in what he called his sanctuary. He opened one of the drawer of the desk and pulled out a rare bottle of 150 year old scotch. He poured himself a small glass and sipped at it. He let it burn its way past his throat. The scotch settled in his stomach with a fire of its own. Wang knew he needed men. Men that would follow him, and not the two buffoons leading the mercenary scum that had come to his base and acted like they were the master here. Wang’s own garrison troops, over a thousand men lay dead about a field four miles from where he now sat.

His men had to have been wiped off the face of the planet with the use of cruise missiles and satellites. Nothing else made sense. The Chinese space federation had made claims that they destroyed the Russian and American space assets at the onset of the war. They also made claims that they were denying the space lane above china to them. He knew now that that was a lie. The proof of that lie lay scattered about a field, or on the road and railway lines not far from where he now sat.

The American marines were on their way to scout out this base. Damn that air force General, if he had just launched his fighter before the American spy plane had gotten into china thing would have turned out much better. Too bad that fool of a General could not be executed more than once thought General Wang

Somehow the American had found out about this base. He needed more men if he was going to live to enjoy the fruits of his labors. He knew he could not trust the mercenaries because they worked for the chairman and his money. And he did not have enough men to repel the marines much less hunt them down.

Wang also had to deal with the 2 assassins that were with the marines. He needed to offset the large number of the mercenaries that were here now. There were almost 400 of the animals crowding the tunnels now. He needed people that would only follow his orders. But where get them he thought to himself.

The General downed his drink and straightened his uniform. He opened the vault door and turned off the lights and made sure the door was securely shut after he exited the vault. Wang hastened back to his office. He had an idea as to where he could find the troops he needed so badly.



Tex took the handset back from Diesel yet he never took his eyes from the opposite bank. He pulled out a small map and photo case, he knew that either Gunny or Diesel would be asking for it soon.

“Tex let me have that map case,” Gunny’s voice was deeper than normal. “Next fireteam move out. Keep a sharp eye out for any unwanted visitors.”

Tex continued to scan the river bank, Domino’s fireteam was making good time in its crossing. The first person across was Greywolf followed by Doc. Tex could see Domino waving Greywolf and Doc to move out for the OP.

Greywolf scrambled through the woods towards the OP with Doc hot on his heels. The entire time they ran through the woods, their heads were on swivels as they searched for unfriendlies. It still took them 10 more minutes to reach the OP.

Greywolf and Doc crested a small rise and went belly down; Greywolf brought up his weapon and sighted it on the OP. “Jafe this is Greywolf, over.”

“I read you Grey Wolf, over,” came Jefe response.

“We have you in sight, over.”

“Then get your ass down here.” Jefe replied rather sharply.

“Be there in ten seconds.” said Greywolf tersely before he tripped up on a root as he started off for the OP.

Both men were alert for any movement. Their path to the OP was not a straight path towards it. Their mad dash included dodging, ducking and diving behind the vast amounts of wreckage strung about the woods.

Doc made it to the OP first. His face was streaked with runnels of sweat that had made camouflage stripes through the grey-white ash that now covered his person. Doc’s body hit the upper lip of the berm that helped shelter the OP and rolled over it to enter the OP. He landed in a crouch, tossed his weapon to Punk and practically flung himself towards the two wounded men. Doc’s medic bag landed with a heavy thud beside him as he quickly began to assess the down men.

Punk, who had deftly caught the tossed rifle, now took up a position on the firing step of the OP’s wall facing the direction that the APC came from, holding both weapons. Doc was too busy with Deuce and Fish to notice Greywolf diving over the lip of the same berm that he moments ago came over.

Greywolf used his momentum from the dive to roll and came to his feet in a crouch. He too looked like a grey-white ghost as he also took up a position on the firing step next to Punk. Grey Wolf used the quick releases on his pack to drop it to the floor so he could have more freedom of movement.

“Punk, get over here and give me a hand,” said Doc almost casually.

Punk handed over Docs rifle to Greywolf and moved over to where doc was. Doc was rummaging through his medic bag. “Punk I need you to roll up their sleeves and then I will need you to help me clean up their wounds. I need to see where this blood is coming from.”

Jafe looked over to Greywolf and then said “just another day in paradise.” They could hear Doc working quickly to find out what injuries both men had. Greywolf and Jefe swept the area in front of the OP for any movements.

Doc took a second to make sure he was on the right radio freq. “Diesel, this is Doc. Over.”

“This is Diesel. Go Doc. Over.”

“We just got here to the OP. I have bleeding from the ears and nose, on both men. Both are out cold. No obvious broken bones. Out.” Doc spun on his right knee to spit out a large glob of dust filled phlegm. “Punk I need you to pour some water on these wounds to flush out the dirt and dust. I need to get some antibiotics ready for them.

Punk did just as he was asked to do. When he was done, Doc gave both men injections and using cotton swabs to clean out their ears. Doc then looked in the ears of both men. Doc was muttering to himself as he did his work. After inspecting the damage to both men’s ears Doc put an antibacterial cream in the men’s ears. This done he cleaned out their eyes of any debris that may have gotten lodged there. Lastly he covered their ears with a glaze pad and wrapped the pads in place with a green bandage.

“Diesel this is Doc. Over.”

“Go Doc.” Replied Diesel

“Both men are stable, Both men have ruptured ear drums. Slight to mild concussions. Both are still out cold. What is your ETA? Over,” asked Doc.

“We will be at your position in 15 mikes. Will they require a dust off? Over.”

Doc’s response was a candid one. “Unknown at this time, I will know more once they‘re awake. Over.”

Diesel closed his eyes and responded. “Understood. Out.”


With the call to Big Rig over Diesel made his rounds to check on the men of his platoon. The men were in good spirits. While on his rounds he heard snippets of conversations between the men. They were discussing things like the coming football season, their personal relationships, home life, or a myriad of other things. None of them were grumbling about where they were or what they were doing. They were professionals and Diesel was proud to lead these men.

Diesel stopped to check the defenses at a few places and found that the men had done an outstanding job on their perimeter. Diesel was worried about the soldiers that the platoon had found this morning, it was not a good thing that the enemy was taking food and raping the woman of the local villages. He hoped that the powers that be would follow up on his report and send in some Army SF unit to work with those people and bring in some food and medicines.

First Squad’s third fireteam came back from their mission. Domino, Ski, Stillman, Greywolf, and Tag came back with Gunny to report what they found about a place to ford the river and the condition of the railway.

“Diesel, we have found a place to ford the river. The only problem is that is damn near the village,” said Stillman.

“How close?” asked Gunny.

“300 hundred meters from the small bend in the river south of the village,” answered Tag.

“What’s the ford like, is it doable at dusk, and can we cross the blast zone?” asked Diesel.

“It’s wet,” said a dripping Greywolf.

“How did you guys get him in the water?” asked Gunny.

“They lied.” Greywolf changed his voice to minic Stillman. “It’s only waist deep.”

“Well it was, on me. It did not help that the water is fast moving and there are sections were it gets a little deeper,” replied Stillman.

“It gets a little deeper, my ass. One second it’s at chest level and the next it’s over my head. Diesel, Permission to beat these two senseless for trying to drown me?” Greywolf asked flatly.

“We were not trying to drown you, we were helping with your bath,” added Tag before Diesel could answer.

“Permission denied, back to the report.”

“Domino cleared his throat before he spoke. “The ford is marked; crossing at dusk would not be too bad. We ran a line across and secured it to the river bed. We did a quick and dirty search of the blast zone. There is debris all over the place. Some of the wreckage looks like heavy armor. There is live ordnance on the ground. We found tracks of people that had been there before us, but we did not see them.”

“What is the condition of the railway and highway?” asked Diesel.

“Nobody will be using either until they get a massive repair crew out here. Entire sections of the highway are gone. The parts that are still there have four to five foot deep craters. The same goes for the railway. We shot some video. Here,” Domino said as he handed over his PDA.

Diesel looked over the video. It showed a lot of wreckage. All the wreckage showed the tattletale markings where the white hot liquid metal bore through and destroyed whatever it hit. The video zoomed in on the tail section of a fire blackened 120 mm mortar shell. The view shifted to the charred remains of some passenger that had either been in the convoy or the train.

Diesel continued to watch the video as Domino finished his report. “It is going to take us about the same amount of time to safely cross the terrain as it would to go around it. I believe that if we skirt around the edges of the blasted area we might shave some time off and it would also be a lot safer. I saw no sign of enemy troops, but I did see foot prints from locals searching through the wreckage. Now we did not cross the site so I can’t say what is on the other side, but there are plenty of down trees that could provide cover at night for us to cross.”

“How many sets of foot prints did you count?” asked Gunny.

“I counted twelve. There may have more but there where sections were the ground was flashed baked. Like I said it was a real mess. Deuce and his fireteam relieved us thirty mikes ago. They were setting up an OP on the east end of the blast zone.” said Domino.

Just then the men of the unit heard a large boom coming from the direction of the railway and highway. Everyone stopped and turned to look in that direction. They could see the column of smoke starting to rise.

“Diesel this is Deuce. Over.” said Sgt Eric Tanner.

Eric Tanner is the leader of the 2nd fireteam of the 3rd squad. The men called him Deuce. His room at the barracks looked like a workshop that made electric guitars. He was always repairing one. He could be counted on hitting yardsales and flea markets to buy amps and guitars on the weekends. He once found a classic Fendor guitar that he paid 50 dollars for and then fixed it up and sold it for 12,000 dollars. He was a solid Marine. At 5 foot 9 inches and 170 pounds. Eric’s fieldcraft was as smooth as silk. His attention to detail saved the men of his squad more times than he could remember.

“This is Diesel, go Deuce,” replied Diesel.

“Diesel, one of the locales just killed himself and a few of his friends. It looks like he got five others in the blast. I can see at least 4 others rolling around on the deck. Do you want us to provide assistance? Over,” asked Deuce.

“That is a negative. We are not to be seen. Do you copy? Over,” asked Diesel.

“Deuce copies, negative on the assist. Deuce out.”

“Diesel this is Spanky. We have movement in the village. Lots of movement.”

“Talk to me Spanky.”

“We have villagers running to the river. Some are loading up in boats and heading over.”

The men of the 3rd squad’s 2nd fireteam had lain hidden from the locals as they shifted through the twisted and burnt wreckage of the trains and the trucks. The smell of burnt and dead flesh was strong in the air. There was hardly any wind so the stench hung over the place. Deuce’s men could now see the people scurrying like ants to come to the aid of the friends or family that had been struck down by the detonation of the ordnance.

The fireteams A-gunner was a man called Jefe by the men in the unit. Tall and thin at 6 foot 2 and 190 pounds with thinning wispy sandy blond hair. Jefe was a movie aficionado. He was always quoting some movie. His favorite quote was from a 20th century movie named Scarface “Come say hello to my little friend”.

The rest of the fireteam was Lcpl Rupert Ecks call sign Crash. He received the name due to a training accident where he rolled a tracked vehicle on a flat course. He wanted to be a taxi driver like his father. Pfc. Joel Reed who got stuck with the call sign Punk. The last man in the fire team was Pvt. Tim Goldman, whom was called fish.

“Jefe, I want you, Crash, and Punk to scout out along the around the northern edge of this mess. Stay in cover and see if the road going north towards the objective is still intact. Report back every 15 mikes. And for heaven’s sake do not engage any enemy forces. Fish and I will hold down the fort and keep an eye on the locales. Got it?” Deuce asked.

“No problem, you heard the man let’s move it. Crash your on point, Punk you’re behind me. Keep your distance,” Jefe told the men in his detail as Deuce got on the radio to inform Diesel as to what he was doing.

As Crash froze, his hand went up to his head and he flashed the hand signal for hold. Jefe repeated the signal to punk. All three men lowered themselves to the forest floor. The sound was self evident; a large diesel transport was moving their way. They were twenty meters from the road side. They had traveled about 2 mile in their scouting mission. They had circumvented the blast zone and had reached the road heading north towards the objective. While on the move they had to twice freeze and take cover due to the close proximity of the locals in their search to find something they could salvage from the wrecks. The three men had lost precious time waiting for them, to move on.

The truck turned out to be an APC an older type 129. It had seen better days. As the APC neared the men it started to slow its advance. The three men of the fire team had advanced a half a mile up the road that led to their objective.

The APC type 129 was a long bodied, solid frame, tracked vehicle. The power plant was a six stroke twelve cylinder diesel engine, that provided 350 horse power. She was armed with twin pintle mounted 15mm chain guns that are fired remotely from inside the vehicle. One 25 mm cannon, that could fire 200 rounds per minute, a missile launcher that held 2 missiles. One missile was for surface to air. The other was surface to surface.  The APC had a crew of three and could carry twenty troops. There were ten firing ports for the troops to use.  The driver had through the use of some stolen technology a 360 degree view in a compressed 120 degree viewing screen. He also had three forward facing periscopes if the optics for the screen went down.

The APC’s rear hatch opened and disgorged ten troops. Jefe and his men watched with baited breath as the men filed out of the APC. The enemy troops moved to the front of the APC. Jefe, Crash, and Punk slowly brought their weapons up. Crash and Punk know that should they need to fight it out with the enemy contact their first target was to be the APC since both for them had grenade launchers. Both men know that they would have to fire at least 2 grenades each in order to puncture the thick armor for the APC. Crash and Punk were easing a ten round magazine of high explosive armor piecing (HEAP) grenades into the grenade launchers attached to their weapons. Both men know that without a shadow of doubt that Jefe was coving the enemy troops with his M-384. The Chinese troops started to move out towards the blast zone with the APC following them. As soon as the troops and vehicle were out of sight Jefe called it in to Deuce.

Within minutes of getting the heads up from Jefe and forwarding the information to Diesel, Deuce and Fish saw the APC moving at full speed though the blast zone. The APC was weaving and bobbing its way.  The Enemy troops it had disgorged earlier were trailing far behind. The deep throaty roar of the engine gave the locals warning of its approach.

The locals ran for it, even with the warning some of them never made it. The chain guns opened up on them, mowing them down as if they were wheat being harvested. As the locals scrambled to find shelter behind wrecked vehicles and railcars, Deuce could see tracer rounds ricochet or in some cases punch through the wasted metal to kill the people hiding there.

Some of the locals seeing their friends or family dying left what shelter they had and ran for the woods. The APC gave chase.

Fish was on the radio reporting the situation as Deuce started to rack a HEAP grenade. He was determined not to let civilians be slaughtered wholesale on his watch. As he brought his weapon to bear on the APC as it was transversing through the wreckage of the blast zone. Deuce realized too late that some of the locals were running straight towards the OP. Deuce grabbed Fish and yanked him down with him to the floor of the OP as the APC’s chain guns ripped the locals apart.

The APC had to swing wide to Deuce’s right to bring more of the locals under its guns. The driver was reckless as he maneuvered to give the gunner a better chance of shooting the locals on the run.

Deuce and Fish popped their heads backup. The revving of the engine was getting nearer. The driver decided to go over two of the many large partially destroyed containers lying about. The APC crushed the containers about fifty meters in front of the OP. The resultant violent explosion ripped both tracks off the APC and partially lifted one side of the APC.

No sooner had the APC crashed back to the ground than there was a larger second explosion that sent sections of the APC tumbling and flipping through the air. The boom was deafening, Deuce and Fish were flattened as they dived for the bottom of the shallow dug out they were using as a temporary OP.  That did nothing to really help them. The concussion wave broke over them knocking the air out of each man. Both men were stunned.  If either one was awake he would have noticed that neither one could hear anything. The blood coming from their ears was a sure sign that their eardrums had been ruptured. Instead both men were unconscious lying at the bottom of the OP.

Diesel and the rest of the unit heard the boom from the explosion, as one, each man’s head snapped in the direction. The only one voice was heard, yet no one remembers who said it, “Dear God”.

Jefe, Crash and Punk were shadowing the enemy troops following the APC. The enemy troops in their mad dash across the burned out blast zone were paying no heed to the ground. One of the enemy troops stepped on an exposed mortar shell. The blast picked up the man and both men on either side of him. The shrapnel shredded all three men.

The exploding shell caught both sets of men off guard. Jefe and his group dove for cover in the woods. The Chinese troops dove for cover amongst the wreckage. One more Chinese trooper died as he flopped his body down onto a buried shell.

Jefe got to his knees and gave area a quick scan as the rest of his patrol did the same. Screams from the wounded and dying could be heard across the wrecked and pockmarked blast zone.

“Crash, No time of stealth, get us to the OP ASAP,” ordered Jefe.

Crash started plowing through the woods with Punk and Jefe right behind him. The three men knew that they had a limited amount of time to run as fast as they could through the woods without worrying about noise discipline. The explosions would have temporarily deafened the enemy. Jefe was franticly trying to raise Deuce or Fish with no luck.

Even as they sprinted through the woods they kept a watchful eye on the enemy troops. Crash slowed the run down to a jog when he thought enough time had passed for the enemy troops to have gotten their hearing back.

The enemy troops slowly regained their feet. All appeared to be still dazed as they stumbled about. Some of them looked to the APC as its ammo started to cook off. For a few seconds they watched the fireworks before they turned around and ran back towards the road. None of them made it back to it.

After a stunned monument Diesel switched radio frequencies and could hear Jefe calling for Deuce. Deuce was not responding. He turned to face Tex “I need you to contact Gunny while I try to raise Deuce. Have Gunny ready the men we move out now.” There was a break in the radio traffic “Jefe this is Diesel, do you read me? Over,” asked Diesel.

“Diesel, this is Jefe. We read you. Over,” replied Jefe.

“Jefe what the hell is happening over there?” asked Diesel.

“Diesel. The APC rolled up on some of the locals looting the site. Then the APC opened up on the locals who were making a run for it. The APC and the troops went after them. We, Crash, Punk, and myself were about 400 meters from the APC when it hit some unexploded ordnance that ripped it to shreds. Deuce and fish were in the OP, about 70 meters from the APC when it blowup. No one made it out of the APC. We are now rushing to get to the OP. Over,” reported Jefe.

“Jefe. We are moving to the OP. You need to get to Deuce and Fish then set up a soft perimeter. Once that is done then get back to me.” Diesel ordered. Diesel switched his radio back to the command Freq. “This is Diesel. I want 1st squad 3rd fire team on point with Nightstalker. The rest of us in column formation by squads by the numbers. Command will be floating. Gunny how soon till we move out? Over,” said Diesel.

“Diesel we will be ready to move out in 5. Tex is calling the ship to give them the sitrep. I got Doc moving out with Domino’s fire team. Loki and Trojan are doing a finale sweep of the area to make sure that we have not left anything that might say who we are. Over.”

“Gunny, Diesel, understood. Out,” said Diesel.

True to his word, Gunny had the men ready in 5 minutes. They were in line and ready for the word to move out. In that time Jefe got back to the OP and found Deuce and Fish. Both were out cold, both had blood running from their ears and noses. Doc was on the radio with Jefe trying to get a clear picture as to the condition of the two men. Gunny was on the radio to the rest of the men.

“I know I do not need to tell you that that big smoke signal in the sky over there will most certainly attract some unwanted visitors. While we are crossing the river I just want to see the tops of heads bobbin in the water.”

“Gunny, it’s time. Head’em up,” said Diesel.

“Move’em out”, said Gunny

The soft murmur of raw hide could be heard in the background.

The men quickly but quietly ran to the place where Domino’s fireteam had found the ford. Gunny was there directing the crossing. “Domino, I want your fireteam and Doc across the river first. Eyes,” he grabbed the man as he was rushing up to take a position on the river front. “I want you to stay with Diesel. Gunny spotted Pit and his men. “Pit I want you to ride herd on our army guests,” he said. His terse look conveyed his unspoken order.

“Aye aye Gunny and with pleasure,” replied Pit.

Each fireteam moved into the river with a sixty second lag between it and the next fireteam to move into the river. The fireteams waiting to cross the river covered those crossing.

As each fireteam came to the front of the column they would then take cover and be on the lookout for enemy troops and watch out for the locals. They would quickly get to the place where Domino’s fire team had setup for the crossing of the river one at a time.

Diesel trotted up as the next group started to cross the river and made his way to join them. Gunny reached out and stopped him from going. “Diesel, I want you to cross once I have a few more men over there.”

Diesel knew it was useless to argue with the man and just accepted it. Tex hurried up to Diesel and handed him the radio’s handset.

“It’s Big Rig,” stated Tex.

“Big Rig, this is Diesel. Over.” he said in to the handset.

“I’ve been informed that you are moving. Do you think this is wise? Over,” asked Big Rig.

“We have no choice, with the appearance and destruction of the APC, we need to get past the blast zone before they send in more people. I’ve lost comms with the OP.  Once we get past the blast zone we can head deeper into the woods and swing around to make our way to the objective. Over.”

“Once you have made contact with the OP give me a sitrep. You have stirred up quite the hornet’s nest with your little fact finding mission and with your questions. The people at Homeland, FBI, and the CIA were not very pleased to find out that someone had known about the 28’s mission and had made a play for the bird and it crew. Then there is the small problem that you’ve got. Anybody that had anything to do with either mission is being looked at real hard. Somebody may have sold you out. I want you and your men to be extra careful. There is a lot going on back in the swamp that we don’t know about. But I can say this for sure, someone is going to pay the piper. Out.”  The swamp was a unit term for Washington DC.



Doctors Linda and Evan Porter sat with their students around one of the larger round tables eating their meal of watery oatmeal, and a stale but sweet tasting bun. In the last few days most of the others people that were kept here had been shipped out to other locations only a few remained.

This morning the dining hall was basically empty.

Linda sipped her tea as she listened to Doctor Stiles describe his latest find. Stiles like she and her students were forced to work for the general and his cronies. Linda absently stroked her husband’s back as Stiles continued on in every detail concerning his latest dig.

Doctor Hauer, Doctor Stiles were partners and both had just returned from a small trip from the northern region of Mongolia. Evan was doing his best not to laugh as Huaer told a story of what happened with the small horses and one of the guards.

The students from both groups sat at the tables around them adding to the stories and have their own chats. Most of the students were discussing the fireworks from the night before. Last night the base had lost power and was running on backup supply for the last several hours.

Linda looked around the dining hall. She missed seeing the others. She knew that like her, they were being held and forced to work for a man that the general and his cronies worked for but whom she had never meet.

The students knew something was up also. They like the professors or the experts in a wide variety of fields did not talk about it. Each and every one of them was brought here through false pretenses. Their deaths faked and the world was none the wiser. All of them could see that the guards were keyed up about something. The prisoners just did not know why

“Doctor Stiles and Doctor Huaer, my husband and I need discuss a few things concerning site 45 b,” said Linda with a smile. Her husband returned the smile and gave her a wink as a way of saying thank you.

“What have you found?” asked Stiles has he twisted one of the handlebars on his mustache.

“Yes, what have you found?” said Huare. His thick German accent layered over his English.

“I am glad you asked. I had these printed up last night,” said Evan as he reached down to the handbag at his feet. He unrolled the two large pieces of paper. “We found these anomalies at site 45 b. Now what are your thoughts as to just what are these things?”

The debate was lively. They all knew what the general and the man that the general and his inner circle called the chairman, wanted. What these men wanted to find and own the lost treasure of Attila the Hun, and any other find that the doctors and student could find.

“These objects are rectangular, they could be boxes.” said one of the students working with Doctor Stiles.

“They could also be jars lying on their side,” said another student.

“Look at the size of that void. It’s what, almost ten feet long, by what?” said a third student.

“It looks like eight feet at one corner and maybe five feet at the opposite side corner,” said Even. “But look at this,” he placed his finger on the printout. “Here, we have a group of voids and then the large void. The space in the large void goes from four feet to what maybe five feet to contact with the floor of the void.”

“What does the computer say about these items?” asked Stiles pointing to some smaller items in the printout.

Linda answered back. “Some sort of crystal according to the density readings.”

“And just to add a little more mystery, the magscan picked up these. What these are is anybody’s guess,” said Evan.

As the group sat at the table discussing the possibilities of the, the lieutenant that all the captives called Diablo marched in. His battered baton swaying in time to his steps.

“You are ready to go, we leave in five minutes, do not think of trying to escape. I have place extra guards to go with you.” said Diablo with a sneer. The people close enough to smell the man’s breath pulled back their heads. Flecks of frothy white spittle leaped from the man’s mouth as he spoke.

Doctor Evan Porter took his eyes from his battered laptop to look at the vile man that was addressing the group. Through the doorway to the mess hall Doctor Evan Porter saw the general walking down the hall towards the mess hall and realized that here and now was his chance to get back at Diablo, if he could just get the vile creature to strike him in front of the general. “I say when we are ready, not you, you vile little man. We will be ready in ten minutes. We are currently discussing the best way to start the dig. I would suggest that if you want this done right you leave us alone while we do it. And if you think that you can beat us willie nillie, I believe I shall have a little chat with the general about how we can’t work due to the beatings that you keep giving to the ones doing the work. You can come back in ten minutes to get us,” he said as he stood up.

The lieutenant, was stunned, no one dared speak to him in that manner. Rage was building inside of him. The lieutenant was literally shaking as he fumbled to get his baton out. He raised it to strike the old and frail looking Evan Porter. Just as he was about to bring the baton down on the skull of the old man he heard the general’s voice command him to stop. He stopped just in time. The general had his pistol out and aimed straight at Diablo’s head.

“What do you think you are doing lieutenant?” asked the general in English.

Diablo explained in Chinese what had just transpired between him and Evan porter. The general listened quietly as his chief of security explained. When the man had finished the general barked his answer back in Chinese at the lieutenant.

Doctor Evan Porter and the rest of the people near him got the jist of what the general had said. The lieutenant was not to harm them, until they had found the lost treasure of Attila and verified it. Then the lieutenant could do as he pleased. Diablo just turned and smiled. The man’s evil and vileness showed in the smile on his face.

“You have your 10 minutes, but I will have my time soon.” Diablo said as he started to gloat his victory over the doctor and his friends. The lieutenant followed the general out of the mess hall.

“Well that did not go as I had intended,” said Evan out loud. Looking to his entire group, he continued “I want everyone on their toes. Do nothing to anger that man. Understood?” he asked the group. “Now let’s get going.”


“Robin Hood, this is Sherwood Forest, come in. Robin Hood, This is Sherwood Forest, come in, Over.” came the voice of Smitty from the radio.

“Sherwood Forest this is Robin Hood. Over.” replied Tex in to the handset.

“We have news about last night’s events for you. Check side band for the information. Inform us when you are ready to receive. Over,” said Smitty.

Tex made sure that he had his PDA plugged into the radio before sending Smitty the okay to send the information. The transfer took less than five seconds. Tex let Smitty know that the file came through and was going to give the information to Diesel. Smitty informed Tex that the Big Rig was going to be calling in thirty minutes to get a sitrep.

Tex brought Diesel the information. Diesel transferred it to his PDA and read it over. It appeared that this highway and the rail line got hammered and not just near his position. It seems that various highways and rail lines were hit at many different places and several interior base and depots were hit also. It looked as if the Chinese were going to have to reroute a lot of their reinforcements heading for the coast.

Eyes and Diesel were sitting together discussing the matter of the airstrike when Tweedel Dee and Tweedel Dumb showed up.

“What happened last night?” asked Tweedel Dee.

“It seems that the Chinese got handed a giant shit burger to eat last night. Allied force advanced another 20 miles on the southern front and 30 on the northern front,” replied Diesel.

“How is this going to affect our time table to get to the objective?” asked Tweedel Dumb.

“It’s not; we are so far behind enemy lines that anything that happens on the front should not have any effect on us directly. Right now I have a fire team looking for a place where we can ford the river later today and Tex is checking on the weather,” said Diesel

“So if the coast is clear we move out tonight, right?” asked Tweedel Dee.

“I don’t know about you but I’m sure as hell don’t fancy crossing a river in the middle of the night and then go traipsing through the blast zone of an air strike covered in possible live rounds,” replied Diesel with a small smile to Eyes.

“Why would there be live rounds?” asked the other imposter.

“Think about what’s going on, China has just been hit with a massive attack on one border and twenty four hours later Russia attacks on another boarder. China was in the midst of moving troops from one place to another. With those troops were their weapons and ammo. Now we have no idea what troops were on that highway and rail line when they were hit, but we know those fires burned for hours after the air strike. Now if I were you I would get some shut eye.” Diesel paused before he continued.

“There is no way I want to try that at night. I am also waiting on a weather report before we can go through or around that blast zone. Hopefully with the amount of damage done to the rail road and the highway it will be a few days before anyone can get here. It seems that more than a few bridges were knocked down last night also,” said Diesel as he showed them a picture of one of the blown bridges.

“So if the coast is clear we move out tonight?” asked Tweedel Dee.

“You do not want to cross a river and then a blast zone with live ordinance spread about it at night. I plan to cross the river just before nightfall and then skirt the blast zone in the morning. If I were you I would get some shut eye. Because once we get to the objective we will be very busy,” said Diesel.

The two imposters shuffled off to their assigned fire team.

“How’s your arm doing Eyes?” asked Diesel.

“It hurts and it’s starting to annoy the crap out of me. The pain is a dull ache; your man static won’t give me heavy duty pain killers.”

“He doesn’t want your head all muddled on drugs. The annoying pain will keep you focused.”

“I thought it was because he did not like me.”

“No, if he did not like you he would be at your side poking you in the arm.”

“That makes my arm feel so much better.”

“You will have to just learn to use your other hand for a while.” Diesel said with a grin. That got a chuckle out of Eyes and a few of the men that were nearby. “Well I have a sitrep to give Big Rig. If you see Gunny, tell him I would like to see him and those who he sent out on the scouting missions when they return.”

“Will do,” said Eyes as he got to his feet.



Operation Whirling Dervish was a more of a success than the Americans and her allies knew. The Marines and the Army were holding the front line 20 miles inland from the shore. US troops were massing for a large push and hoping for a breakthrough, the Navy and Air force had a large stockpile of smart and dumb bombs ready for use. The Russians were ready to attach the Chinese on their frontlines.

The American commanders called for a temporary halt for ground combat for the American side of Operation Whirling Dervish. With the rapid advancement of their frontlines they were moving far faster than the supply line could support.

The Russian side of Operation Whirling Dervish was still moving on its timetable. The Americans would still supply air support to the Russian engagements. The Russian troops took 30 miles. The allied troops were now consolidating their manpower and equipment in order to stabilizing their supply lines.

When the general finally arrived back to his hidden base, his aide was standing at his office door. The man’s face was grim as he held dispatches for the general to review. General Wang angrily snatched the dispatches out of the waiting aide’s hands and slammed the door shut behind him.

Bellowing screams of rage came from beyond the closed office door. In his absence came orders for him to mobilize his unit and await further orders. The general took a seat in his chair, once he finished screaming. Slowly he spun the chair thinking on the events of the past several days, especially on the last few hours.

Slapping his hand down on the intercom, “Have Lieutenant Zhou bring Mr. $$$ to my office, now!” the general’s icy tone carried over the intercom.

That little man set me up for them. Now I will take my revenge, slowly, thought the general.


When the marines had heard and seen the cruise missiles streak over head, the men instinctively took cover. They were starting to get fatigued and it showed and fatigued men would make mistakes, and as they all knew mistakes could get you a bad case of the deads. The unseasonably warm night and its humidity added to the dash and cover for a little more than 8 miles, forced Diesel to change his mind about trying to get to the mouth of the valley and cross a river then the highway and railroad. No they would hole up for the rest of the night and scout out a path in the day. Then they could continue the trek to the objective under the cover of the next night.

“Gunny, I know the men are tired, but I want them ready to move out in a hurry. We’re going to moving a little further west away from the river. Have the fireteam on point look for a likely place for us to hole up for the night,” said Diesel. “Tex, I need to call the ship.”

Tex quickly had the handset ready for his captain.

“Sherwood Forest, this is Robin Hood, come in, over,” Diesel said after the system synced up.

“This is Sherwood Forest, go Robin Hood, over,” came the voice of some communication technician.

“Direct path to objective now blocked.  We will need to divert, over,” said Diesel.

“How was path blocked? Over,” asked the communication technician.

“I was hoping you could tell me. From the sounds of it the highway and the rail lines just got plowed under by an airstrike. If my readings are correct we are half a mile southeast from their junction point.” Replied Diesel

While Diesel was on the radio with the ship Gunny passed the word to the Squad leader who passed it down to the men. Within seconds the men were ready to move out. Loki along with Domino’s fire team was back on point. With weapons at the ready the men slowly moved through the woods. It was slow going as each man would scan, move and take cover. Within 20 minutes they found a suitable position for the platoon to rest up at.


The sun was just rising as Gunny nudged Diesel’s foot.

“I’m up,” said Diesel as he rubbed sleep from his eyes. “Can I get some room service?” he asked Gunny as he sat up.

“Sure, I will order you up some eggs sunny side up and some coffee. You want some bacon and toast?”

“Both please, and an news paper if you can. Oh and make sure you charge the government,” joked Diesel.

“Oh I will.”

“Give the rest another thirty minutes before we move out. Let’s get them feed and watered, I want weapons checked and noise discipline checked. Nothing rattles and nothing shines.”

Gunny walked up to Diesel thirty minutes later. “The men are ready, they are feed and watered, fresh war paint and fresh foliage for the ghillie suits,” Gunny said.

Diesel grabbed his rifle and with the helping hand from Gunny he stood up.

“Shall we get this little stroll through the woods started?” asked Diesel.

“Nightstalker is already on point. I figured you would want the men in column formation. In case of hostile contact I told them we would go with our standard deployment” offered up Gunny.

“Good, now let’s go to the river and see just how bad our detour is going to be.”

Diesel, Gunny and the squad leaders were discussing what they should do as for getting across the river.

“Contact front, no id, holding,” came Nightstalker’s voice from the radio ear bud in everyone’s ear. Hand signals went from the squad leader to the fire team leaders to the fire teams. They all stopped and very slowly moved to take a knee in cover. they moved slowly due to the fact that the human eye is attracted to movement. Sergeant Tanner, who now had the ignoble job of babysitting the imposters made sure that they understood that when the fire team stopped they were to freeze and do like the rest of the men. Sergeant Tanner was a very large man. He was somewhere around 320 pounds and none of it was fat. The man was a nonsmoker and a health food nut. He grownup on a ranch in Montana with 2 other brothers and a sister and says that he is the runt of the litter.

“What happening Nightstalker,” asked Diesel.

“Lance Corporals Ritter and Dunn are checking it out now sir,” Replied Nightstalker

A few moments later Nightstalker’s voice came over the radio saying that the contact was a loose farm animal and that there was a small village about 200 meters to their front and that there were some soldiers in the village.

The two imposters were now creeping up to where the captain was sitting.

“Why are we stopping? We should just swing around the village and continue towards the base,” said the taller one.

“We are stopping because there is a small village up ahead and as you heard there are a few soldiers in the village. Now I want to know just who they are and what they are doing there,” said Diesel.

Diesel’s ear bud came to life again, “Diesel you might want to get up here to check this out.” came Nightstalker voice.

“On my way,” he said motioning for Tex to follow.

50 meters to the front he found first squad all prone and looking towards the village in the treeline. Diesel dropped to his knees and pulled off his pack. He snapped his scope on to his rifle and joined the men of the first squad on the ground. Peering through the scope as he got into a good firing position he made sure to keep the barrel from extending past the brush. “Where?” was all he asked.

Lcpl Dunn leaned over towards Diesel and spoke in a low whisper saying “For what passes as the village square, Sir.”

The sounds of people making their way through the woods and undergrowth came from behind the men of the first squad. None of the men turned to investigate the sounds, they knew that second squad had their back. With the snapping of twigs the imposters throw themselves down next to Diesel.

“What’s happening down there captain?” again it was the Tweedle Dumb.

Diesel ignored the imposters as he watched the happenings in the center of the small village.

“Diesel, Notice the uniforms. By my count I have four tanker and six infantry. Two of the men down there are officers. Now those boys in the all black uniforms wearing the red berets,” Lcpl Dunn said.

“I see ‘em.” said Diesel.

“What about them?” inquired one of the two imposters. Diesel had no idea which had said it nor did he care.

“Those are, wait for it, turn to the side you son of a bitch,” Diesel said to the man in his scope. “That is the Dragon’s Teeth, my boys. The best of the best China has to offer.”

“Didn’t they help stage the assault on our embassy?” asked Lcpl Ritter.

“That’s right, and if I remember right, it was their co that executed the ambassador in front of the mob that stormed the embassy,” replied Diesel

“Some of those guys look busted up. They must have survived the airstrike. Looks like they are taking over,” said Dunn.

“No I think they are gathering supplies before they move out. The Dragon’s Teeth aren’t much for sitting out of a fight. Brutal and violent they are, but not cowards,” returned Diesel.

As the men watched the events going on around the village square they witnessed the villagers loading up a dilapidated boat with food stuffs from the villager’s gardens and livestock. While the boat was being loaded two of the soldiers started beating an old man with their batons and slapping him about the face when he started to protest the taking of the village’s food and boat.

“I have two more men coming out of the houses,” said Ritter. The houses were more like one room cinder block dwellings.

“That doesn’t look good,” said Nightstalker at Diesel’s elbow. The two men were walking out as they adjusted their clothes. Diesel and the rest could see angry red scratches on their faces and arms. Diesel was thinking that this was not a good sign for the people here. But it might be a good thing for him and his men.

“It would appear that the soldiers have helped themselves to the village’s food and women, and their boat,” Was the reply from the Diesel. “Dunn did you get a head count.

“Yes sir, Thirty-five civilians and twelve regulars as it stands now.”

“Tex, I want you to call this in for later use. The brass can send in some army sf to cultivate this after our mission. They must have stayed overnight.”

“Yes sir.” Tex was already on the horn.

“Nightstalker,” Diesel said as he backed away from the treeline. He pulled out his map and compass. “There looks like there is a small dirt road heading south from the village after it swings around that bend that we could see.  Pull us back about 100 meters.  Then you can swing us 200 meters to the left and then continue on to the river. You two” he said while pointing to the imposters. “with me now!”

The Captain moved away slowly from first squad with the two men in tow. After they had moved about 20 meters away the Diesel said “Don’t you dare think of telling me or my men what to do. Now what has got you two so hot to get to the objective?” he asked.

“You’re not cleared for that sir, its need to know,” said Twiddle Dee.

“Bullshit, my men and I are going to that base to observe and if possible we may do a snatch and grab. We need to know the why’s and what for’s, now talk.”

“Sir, all we have is that the General may have access and the codes to arm and launch missiles, and that he is not what you would call sane.” said Twiddle Dumb.

“Great, just great. And just when were you two going to tell us this little tidbit of military intelligence?” asked Diesel while thinking You two are so full of it.

Just then Gunny came up. “Are we stopping for a few?”

“No, we gonna pull back some, and then move out.” replied Diesel. “I want to put some distance between us and that village, before we belly up for the day. We will cross over the river in the late afternoon.

“Once we belly up I will send out a few men to find a place for us to ford,” said Gunny. He continued talking as he turned away. “I will also send two men to scout out the highway and rail lines to see what happened.”



“General Wang, I assure you that all is fine. We are 12 miles from your position. There has been no sign of the marines. My men have been patrolling as we made our approach. We have just arrived and are setting up camp.” Said Colonel Wai.

“That is good, how many patrols have you sent out?” asked General Wang.

“Six patrols my General. They are due to return any minute I also have five observation posts being manned. The patrols have reported in that they have not found anything as of yet.” The colonel was lying. He had not sent out patrols or had had observation posts being manned.

The general spoke again. “When you find them do not kill them all, I wish to have a few as my personal slaves. I might even get them to confess to a few war crimes and become a hero to the people.” He smirked.

The Colonel was think while the general was having his delusions of grandeur and planning on how he was going to be the leader of the peoples party. He  would wonder why the Marines would to this God forsaken place. There was nothing of value out here or worth their time and energy.

The colonel wondered if this has something to do with the general’s pet project. There are probable no marines even remotely near here. The general should be sending this unit to the southern coasts to repel the invading American forces instead of hunting down shadows.

The colonel did not know it but as he was talking to his general several American cruise missiles were only the ten seconds from deploying their payload on top of the men and their equipment under his command.


The general leaned back in his leather chair as he put down his cigar and reached for his drink. The sky was a beautiful pink orange. The clouds were a golden hue.

“Colonel, make sure that the men stay vigilant. I will be by later to inspect them,”

He paused to take a sip his drink as he watched the clouds pass high overhead. The general was envisioning his just rewards for the capture of enemy troops far beyond the coasts. He would be a hero of the people, and then he could make his move to the political arena. Once he was in office he would use the chairman to propel himself into the

His revere was cut short by the sight of several small but growing dots in the setting sky. The growing dots turned out to be a mass of blue and grey missiles passing high overhead. From his office, the general watched in abject horror as the missiles broke apart.

The general dropped his drink as he stared out his office windows. He just witnessed a missle going into its terminal dive. The small glass shattered as the first explosions hit the ground troops.


“Colonel, your forces are under attach, the American lap dogs are near you. Find and kill them all.

The colonel’s reply was cut off short as the radio went suddenly dead.

The multiple large blasts with their fireballs and smoke climbing into to the sky spelled the doom of the general’s prize troops.


As the air strike started a small group of marines took cover. For five minutes the fire storm lasted. The men were trying to make themselves part of the forest floor. When it was over Nightstalker looked each man in the small group in the eyes. They all looked shocked. Never before have the heard or seen such devastation. Before they continued to make the long and arduous hike, to rejoin the rest of the platoon Nightstalker said. “This is what we do; we kill so that others may live, sometimes it with a single shot, sometimes it with a knife, and sometimes it with a bomb. Or would you rather trade places with those men that died tonight?”

Moose just looked around, smoke and ash was starting to drift through. Moose used the toe of his boot to stir up some of the fallen ash that had settled on the forest floor. “How many men did we kill?”  asked Moose.

“I don’t know Moose, but I do know this, I would rather be alive, than be some charred piece of meat. The men that died here didn’t start this war, you know it and I know it. The people who start these things never really fight and die in them. They just have others do that for them,” Nightstalker said as he walked around them. After taking a deep breath he continued. “Right now our job as Marines is to ensure that our people, the American people are safe. If that means that we have to kill, we kill. This is not the first time you’ve had to kill; this is just the first time you’ve seen this level of destruction. Get over it, because if you don’t, then some son of a bitch is going to kill you. Now grab your gear and let’s moving out.”


The rest of the platoon was leap forging forward towards the objective by squad. As one of the squads was moving forward the other two were providing overwatch. When the moving squad took cover they would then provided overwatch for the next squad that was to move forward. As they were leapfrogging towards the objective the evening air was rent by the firepower that was unleashed on the enemy encampment. The men on the move each said a prayer for the men that stayed behind, hoping that none of their friends were caught in the firestorm that had just blossomed.

Diesel called for a halt. Slow each man seemed to dissolve into the trees and brush. Each man hunkered down in natural cover of the forest with their weapons at the ready. Tex slowly crept up to Diesel’s position and handed over the radio’s handset. In short order Deisel was connected with his snipers and their support.

While Diesel was speaking with Nightstalker, Gunny and the squad leaders gathered around him. They listened as the conversation was ending.

“Nightstalker, we will hold here. Sending you our coordinates on a side channel. Over.”

“Diesel, I copy. We will call before we linkup with you. Over.”

“Nightstalker when you get here report directly to me. Over.”

“Diesel, understood. Out,” replied Nightstalker.

Diesel hand the handset back. “Gunny, I want a perimeter set now. Weapons on safe and make sure the men get some water,” Diesel said as Tex was packing away the radio.




The General screamed out as the reality of what had just happened hit him. He ran out of his office yelling. “I want my driver and two trucks of troops ready to move in five minutes,” as he passed his aide. The general exited the outer office and headed for the door leading outside instead of the tunnels, he was not the only one heading outside.

Once outside he ran as quickly as he could for the motor pool. Several other men were just standing around and pointing or staring at the dark plumes of smoke rising in the sky, hardly any were speaking.

As the general rounded the building of the motor pool one of the large bay doors was noisily opening to reveal one of his cars. His heart pounding and his breathing ragged the general made it to his car. His driver alerted by the general’s aid had the car ready and waiting. The aid had also alerted the guards to have two trucks manned and ready to go with the general.

The general was now in shock. One minute he was talking to the men of the garrison under his command and the next they were gone. He slide into car and the driver shut the door behind him.

The driver slammed his foot down on the accelerator. The car speed out of the motor pool, quickly leaving the two trucks behind. The general watched as the car quickly closed the distance to one of the gates. His driver calmly reached up to press a button on the visor to open the gate.

The general twisted in his seat to check on the progress of the trucks. “Driver, tell the trucks to hurry up and catch up with us,” the general snapped at the man.

“Yes my general,” the driver reached down and grabbed the radio beside him and complied with the general’s order.

In just a few minutes the general’s car was turning onto the highway. The trucks were just a few hundred meters behind the car.  The driver spotted the turn-off that the garrison had used to get off the highway.

The driver had to slam on the brakes and fight the car in-order to keep in control of the car as it fishtailed onto the gravel road. Smoke and ash obscured the gravel road.

The general didn’t seem to notice the sound of the rocks hitting the under carriage and the jarring bouncing from the ruts in the road.

The driver had to slam on the brakes again as he came around a turn. Several trees had fallen across the road. The car had barely stopped before the general had jumped out of the car.

The general was already scrambling over the fallen trees when the trucks also came to an abrupt stop. The harsh clang of the rear hatch falling announced that the troops from the truck were following him.

“Spread out and look for survivors,” yelled the general to the troops following him.

A course of yes sirs answered him.

The destruction was complete. For three hours the general and the guards searched the site of the airstrike for any signs of life. Amid the fires and the cooking off ammo, all they found were the fire blackened forms of men frozen in death and destruction. The stench of burnt flesh was overpowering. Every single man had on more than one occasion had thrown up. One of the guards did manage to identify find the remains of one of the cruise missiles.

The guard was quick to point out that the sky had not been overly cloudy and that the Americans must have used one of their numerous spy satellites to spot the unit and sent the missiles as a way of not facing the proud Chinese army face to face. The general had to agree, because he could not fathom that a platoon size group of men could have wrecked so much damage on his proud unit all by themselves, of course, unless they were Chinese. Surly such an explosion would have killed the Americans also he thought.

The general walked back to his car and ordered the other to return to the base. As the car and trucks pulled back on to the road the first of the convoys in response to the coastal invasions were just passing them as they headed south.


It was 2200 hours before the two groups of marines had linked up. The whole platoon continued its leapfrog advancement for another ten minutes. The platoon had covered a great deal of space and was 3 and a half miles from the objective now. Diesel wanted the men to rest for an hour and get some food and rehydrate before they began the next leg of the march. Diesel, Gunny, and the squad leaders were looking over the maps of the area and the recon flights photos. They were looking for landmarks that might be visible  in the star light of the night sky.

“Diesel, you wanted to see me,” said Nightstalker.

“Walk with me,” Diesel led Nightstalker away from the rest. “How did the men handle themselves after the airstrike?” he asked quietly.

“They did okay, I mean it’s one thing to pull the trigger in anger, but this was the first time they seen the effects of an airstrike from the fifty yard line. I had a little chat with them,” was his reply.

“I’ll ask Gunny to keep an eye on them and talk to them also.”


They knew that they were getting near the village. From their vantage point behind some trees on a small rise they could see the headlights of the vehicles on the highway.  They could also hear the deep rumble of the diesel engines pulling a long line of railroad cars packed with troops heading for the coastline to repel the Americans.

The Chinese were busy repositioning troops. They had been caught totally off guard and the Americans and her allies were not done yet. At several points around China the night sky was rent as a second round cruise missiles came in blasting more bridges and buildings from their foundations. Following in the devastating path the missiles were craving through China were the AVAP-15’s by five minutes. The AVAP -15’s delivered their payloads on any personnel responding to the missile strikes.

The marines witnessed the just a few of the flight of some of the cruise missiles as they screamed over head a mere few feet over the tops of the trees. What the marines did not know was that the flight lead was calling in the co-ordinates for the convoy of trucks on the highway the marines could see from their position on the small hill.

The co-ordinates of the highway and the nearby railway were added to the queue for the third wave of cruise missile attaches. The general’s driver had just pulled off the highway to return to the base when the night sky was temporarily turned to day as the missiles deployed their payload of high explosive anti-armor bomblets.


Diesel and his men could hear the engine drown of small aircrafts throughout the day. The men took turns standing watch while the rest sleep through the day. They were going to make their way to the objective moving only at night. Sergeant Carter, the Fireteam Leader for the 3rd Squad’s first Fireteam, had started to keep track of the number of aircraft he could hear.

Sgt. Derrick Carter, call sign Spanky was just over 25 years old. He was an expert at mountain climbing. He had made the Marine Corps teams for the biathlon (cross country skiing and target shooting) and the target shooting for both pistols and rifles. He had competed and won a slot for the US Olympic team for all three events. When out of the field he could always be found with his men doing some sort of group sport or activity. His jet black hair and dark brown eyes combined with his dark tan made it appear that he was of Native American descent. He wasn’t but his wife was. They had 3 girls ages 5, 3 and 1 and with another one on the way. The platoon had started a pool on the birth of the baby. Everyone was hoping that they would finale have a boy. He tipped the scales at 180 pounds on his 5 foot and 11 inch frame.

Spanky sat under a tree listening to the drone of the 5th aircraft since he started his turn at the watch as he looked out through the forest floor for any possible enemies. He noted that he could hear an aircraft every 20 to 25 minutes. He motioned for Pfc. Ziegler to come over to his position.

“What can I do for you Spanky?” asked the Pfc.

“I would like you to climb one of these trees and see if you can spot any of these planes that are flying overhead and see if it is the same one or if it is a bunch of them and where they might be heading.”

“I am on my way.”

Pfc. Rory Ziegler, or as the men in the unit called him, Z-man. Rory made his way to the base of a tree that had to measure at least 7 feet in diameter. He started to quietly hum an Irish folksong as he began his ascent up the tree. Born and raised in Ireland until he was 15 years old when his mother remarried an American business man. They resettled to the Florida Keys. His biological father died in an auto accident. Standing at 5 foot 9 and 140 pounds, he easily shimmied up the mammoth tree.

Lcpl. John Titus whom the men gave the moniker JT, heard Z-man humming the tune and softly started to hum the same tune. JT was Z-man’s roommate in the barracks. Half the walls in the room were covered in holothic posters (The image changes as you move about it) of scantily clad woman and the other half was covered in holothic posters of Irish folksong singers and Irish landmarks such as castles and ruins. JT had started to learn Gaelic from Z-man. Shortly thereafter the rest of the Fire team, then the Squad, and now it was looking like other members of the Platoon where lining up to also learn. JT dozed off at the end of the tune.

After spending about an hour and a half up the tree he called Sgt. Carter on the radio. “Spanky, this is Z-man, come in, over.”

“This is Spanky, what do you have, over?” asked Spankey

“I have counted four different planes, they all seem to be heading in the same general direction, over” replied the Z-man.

“That good enough for government work, come on down and get some chow. Over.”

Z-man started his descent from his perch high aloft in the tree top. The view here at the top was breathtaking. When he neared the midway point of the tree the canopy thinned out quite a bit. He paused to give his surroundings a quick look. Through the thinner canopy he had a better view further out than the rest of the men on the ground. Z-man felt as if there was something that was just not quite right. He removed his scope from his rifle, using it as a monocular, he scanned the brush further out. The feeling became more intense. Z-man pressed the button on the side of the scope to up the magnification from two to five. There was definite movement; the brush and smaller tress were moving. He increased the magnification again from five to ten. Zeroing in on the movement, Rory saw a flash as something was moving in a downward arch behind the brush. The Pfc pressed his throat mic and calmly spoke “Spanky this is Z-man, come in, over.” As he scanned further back.

“This is Spanky, what do you need Z-man?” said the sergeant sounding more than a little exasperated with Z-man.

“I have movement to our north-northeast, call it 035 degrees.” Z-man pressed the range finder button on the scope and the range appeared in the lower left corner of the scope.” The scope says 510 meters.”

While Z-man was scanning for more movement he noticed that there were some intervening clear spaces in the woods. In some of the clear spots he could make out men setting up tents while others seemed to be starting small cooking fires. Other men seemed to be dragging dead and dried brush over to their fires. Z-man reported all this to Spankey.

Spankey quickly mashed the button on the radio to switch from the fireteam’s frequency to Platoon’s frequency. “We have movement to our northeast, call it 035 degrees, 510 meters from 3rd squads 1st fireteams location.”

The reaction of the marines in the camp was dramatic. It was if someone had kicked over an ant hill. Gunny passed the information on to the squad leaders who passed it on to their fireteam leaders who in turn passed it on to the members of their fireteams. Diesel grabbed his rifle and map case and headed for Spanky’s location. Tex was on the radio trying to contact the ship and alert them as to the new development. The men were quietly roused from their sleep and hastily readied themselves. Speed and distance were the keys to the platoon’s survival.


Big rig picked up the head set and the boom mic. He had just gotten off the phone with his old friend Colonel Goodspeed back at the pentagon. The news was not good. It appears that the 2 men in the field with his best platoon were not the people they were supposed to be. Flash traffic on the radio had Diesel’s platoon moving due to the unexpected arrival of enemy troops about 500 meters to their north east.

“Diesel this is Big Rig, come in, over,” the colonel said into the boom mic. There was a sharp hiss of static as the call went out over the radio.

“This is Diesel, go Big Rig, over,” was Diesel’s reply through the head set.

“Diesel you will need to hold onto the two cards in question. Isolate them, but do not burn them, I repeat do not burn them, over.” said the colonel through his clenched teeth.

“Diesel copies, isolate, but do not burn them, over” said Diesel.

“That is affirmative, out.” said Big Rig. Now it was time to inform the general as to the latest news.


The imposters knew that something was very wrong. They looked around to see what the other men were doing and copied them. The marines were busy verifying that their weapons were loaded and on safe. Then they started to reapply cammy face paint to any exposed skin. Once the face paint was done the next step, the addition of twigs and debris to their uniforms to help breakup their silhouette began. Each fire team then started to disarm any booby traps and such that they had made. Nothing was left to show that the marines had been there.

“Gunny, get Nightstalker along with Voodoo and his fireteam here once they are ready to move out. Tex get the snipers here on the double. I have a mission for them,” said Diesel.

Gunny could anticipate what Diesel would order the men to do. They had discussed it numerous times and had done similar missions many time before. Gunny gathered the men he had called together. Gunny Riddel looked to each man; they knew what was to come. They were to split off from the rest of the platoon and make their way towards the enemy encampment from a completely divergent direction and observer them. They were not to engage the enemy, only to observer and report.

“Time to earn your paychecks boys,” said Gunny as he took a knee and spread out a map on the pine needle and broken branch covered forest floor. “This is where we are,” he continued as he pointed to a spot on the map. “This is where our unwanted neighbors have setup,” Gunny moved his finger to a new spot on the map. “Nightstalker, I want you and Voodoo’s Fire team to provide over watch for the snipers.” Gunny said looking right at Nightstalker.

“Will do Gunny,” Nightstalker replied.

“Snipers,” Gunny continued as he brought his intense eyes on the three of them. “I want to know how many men and what composition of vehicles and what they are eating. Make me a map of their camp. See if you can get any photos of the units markings and of their brass. Do not engage unless you have no choice.”

There was the sound of someone running through the brush towards the small group of men. Eyes burst forth from the brush and came to a crushing halt as he slammed into the ground, tripping over a root. Every man in the group heard the wet snap as the Lt. landed in a crumpled mess on the forest floor. Eyes stifled a string of curses that he surely want to yell. With his other hand he was reaching for his broken arm.  The pained expression on his face was clear for anyone to see and understand.

Corporal Kowalski reached out and clamped his large hand over Eyes’s mouth. Corporal Morehead call sign Bubba and Lance Corporal (Lcpl) Yurrick call sign Jake, each made a grab for the Lt’s good arm before he could do more damage to the broken arm and himself.

“Static, this is Gunny, grab your med bag and get to the cp on the double, Eyes is down. He has taking a fall and broke his arm.” The last part was to inform the rest of the platoon that they had not been fired upon.

“On my way,” Was the Corpsman’s response.

Voodoo and Gunny rolled the Wounded Eyes over as Lcpl  Bobby Johnson call sign Angel, grabbed Eyes’s head, forcing the man to look him in the eyes. Angel was speaking softly to the wounded man.

“Look at me, no, no el-tee, look me in the eyes, that’s better, you are going to be okay. Can you hear me?” Angel was saying.

Eyes slowly shook his head that he could hear Angel.

Angel softly continued speaking to the man, keeping the wounded Eyes calm.

“I know it hurts, just focus on my eyes. Static will be here soon and he’ll fix you up.” Angel looked to Gunny “He’s going in to shock Gunny”. Looking back into the eyes of the face he was cradling in his hands “You are going to be fine, just keep looking at me. That’s it. El-tee you need to stop fighting Bubba and Jake,” He said softly.

Static came thundering into the cp area, his medical bag landing with a thud on the ground beside static as he kneeled next to the wounded man. With the help of Bubba and Jake, he pried the lieutenant’s hand off the broken arm.

“Bubba, I need you to expose his forearm,” said Static as he opened his medical bag. Static pulled out a serrate containing a powerful painkiller and jabbed it into the  lieutenant’s forearm. After using the serrate he pinned the serrate to man’s collar. Next he pulled out a small bottle and needle. He quickly read the label on the bottle verifying it was what he wanted. Filling the syringe with anti-inflammatories to the proper amount, he then cleared it of any air bubbles and injected that also into the same arm. As Static was doing the injections he was telling Pfc George Ambrose call sign Sci-fi to take a set of splints from his medical bag. Static also instructed Nightstalker to dig out a sling.

“Okay Eyes, I am going to set your arm now. You might feel a little pressure as I do this. Are you ready?” static asked Eyes.

Eyes just shook his head.

With deft movements Static had set the broken arm. Even with the painkillers Eyes passed out. Static held out one of his hands towards Sci-fi who handed Static the splints. After securing the splints in place to immobilize the arm Static reached for the sling from Nightstalker.

Donovan and Tex along with SSgt. Troy Simmons, call sign Trojan, came running up to the group.

Donovan looked from Static to Eyes and back again. “Talk to me Static, how bad is it?” he asked.

“Diesel, eyes has a broken right arm, but the brake is clean. It is not the worst brake I have seen. We don’t need to call in a dust off for him. Gunny I need you to open one of the white envelopes labeled calisumplus and mix it into his water. Angel get me a another serrate of Wyfore and inject it in to his other arm and then pin the serrate to his collar.”

“Okay Static.” Angel searched for the serrate and made the injection then pinned the used serrate to the collar of Eyes. “Done,” said Angel when he finished the task.

The serrates started to work on the wounded man almost immediately. They were powerful pain killers and muscle relaxants. Eyes went as limp as a wet noodle.

Diesel looked to the men of the fireteam and the snipers. “Here are your new orders. I want you to recon the enemy force and coordinate with Tex here. We’ll call in an air strike to obliterate the enemy force. We need to know where every vehicle is and what type it is. I want to call down an air strike that will cover their entire area. any questions?” he asked the assembled men.

Cpl Magnus Jorgenson call sign Viking spoke up. “What radio freq do we use and how are we to ensure that the air strike won’t get us?”

“Tex will assign the radio freq and I won’t call it in until you start your return  trip. I want you to skirt the outer edge of their perimeter and get gps reading so we can form a boarder for the air strike. We need to know if there is any heavy armor and what is their troop strength,” said Diesel.

Viking seemed to except this. Lcpl Alan Cooper call sign Moose, looked to the map. “I believe we can make our approach on this route and take up positions here, here and here,” Moose said pointing to the map. “Once we get the gps reading we pull back to here and wait. After that we rush back to where you and the rest of the platoon are. What about Tweedel Dee and Tweedel Dumb?” he asked looking to Diesel.

“I’ll be call Big Rig and find out what we are to do with them?” said Diesel. Tex was already working his magic.

The snipers and first squad’s first Fire team left 2 minutes later. Diesel was on the radio again with the Big Rig.

Pressing the transmit switch on the hand set of the radio Diesel heard the snap hiss of static as the radio synced up. “Sherwood Forest this is Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest, this is Robin Hood, come in, over,” Diesel said.


After talking to Big Rig, there was a flight of 3 gunships, the AVAP-15, The Antipersonnel and Anti-vehicle aircraft. Each aircraft was capable of putting a 30 mm round down one every two square inches on a 300 foot by 300 foot square. These were not ordinary steel jacketed rounds. These were a mixture of high explosive armor piercing rounds and tracer incendiary rounds. The navy was also sending 6 older tomahawk cruise missiles retrofitted with 2576 sub munitions. Each sub-munition was a shaped charge capable of destroying 3 inch thick armor plate. The shaped charge when detonated would send molten metal straight down. Any troops caught in the open would be shredded by the deadly hail of the fragments from the casing of the sub-munition.

Diesel spoke with Big Rig about the situation concerning the imposters and a possible dust off for them. Their solution was to leave the imposters in the field. If someone had managed to get to men into this mission there was no telling what else they could do.

The rest of the platoon was to moving forward by leap frogging by squads towards the objective. The main portion of the platoon had been on the move for more than an hour before the snipers reported that they were now in position. Two more hours passed before the snipers reported in their findings and started to pull back. The photos and gps co-ordinance were sent to the ship. The snipers and the men in support of them wasted no time moving out. Once they were clear of the projected blast area they called Diesel. Diesel wasted no time in calling the ship to start the airstrike.



Big Rig was not happy to say the least with what he had just heard. When he found out that the CIA had managed to put two intelligence people on this spur of the moment mission he fought against it. The brass had to have its way.

Col. Rodgers now had another problem besides this CIA interloper, there were two men out in the field with his best men. From what Diesel had just told him these two men appeared to know next to nothing on the subject of soldiering. This business of not cleaning and taking good care of your weapon for a soldier would be inexcusable and unforgivable for a marine. A marine recruit learns that a properly cleaned and lubricated weapon is the second best weapon system in the field. The first being the good old fashion, mark 1 brain.

The whole trash thing was a sure sign that they knew nothing about how to conceal their presence out in the field. These men were supposed to be rangers. These two men were an unknown factor.

Unknown factor, we will see about that. Thought Big Rig. “Smitty, I need to place a phone call, can you set it up?”

“Yes sir. Where do you want me to connect you to?”

“Well its 1745 hours Tuesday here so it would be 0845 hours Wednesday in Washington, Right?”

“Yes sir.”

“I need to call Colonel Goodspeed at the pentagon, here is his number,” Big Rig said as he handed over a slip of paper.

“This will just take a few seconds sir. Why don’t you take the watch commanders desk to take the call sir.” As Big Rig move to the desk, Smitty did his usual magic with the communication gear. As the call was being relayed to Washington DC the other technicians manning the center started to return from their smoke break. They had the wits about them to ignore Big Rig and anything that they might over hear.

“Colonel Goodspeed’s office Staff Sergeant Wilson speaking.” A female’s voice came from the phone.

“This is Colonel Rodgers may I speak with Colonel William Goodspeed, please?”

“Please hold while I transfer the call sir.”  She transferred the call to the Colonel’s office and informed him as to who was on the line.

“Hello Big Rig, how are you doing?” came the deep baritone voice form Colonel Goodspeed.

“I will be doing better after I solve a few problems.”

“What kind of problems have you got?”

Big Rig gave a quick overview of the situation without giving any information as to the nature of the mission. Col Goodspeed agreed that this was very odd.
“Would this have anything to do with operation taxman?” asked Colonel Goodspeed.

“Yes it would, why do you ask?” asked Big Rig

“My group has been tasked with finding out what has been going on in that area as to who or what has been digging up the place. We have been working with the CIA on this. They have a few leads on this that they are following up on. Who is this CIA rep that is being a royal pain in your ass?” asked Col. Goodspeed.

“Jack Boggs is his name,” replied Big Rig

“Just what in the hell does he think he is doing?” asked Colonel Goodspeed.

“You know this man!”

“Yeah I do, he is a complete prick. Give me the names for the other two guys and if possible their social security numbers and fax me a photo of each if you can.”

“Hang on while I send someone for the flight manifest with their social security numbers, I will email you the information to you when I get it,” said Big Rig. He motioned for Smitty to come over.

“Yes sir,” said Smitty

“I need you to call down to the squadron’s Maintenance control room and ask them to send up the flight manifest for  the aircraft that flow Diesel’s unit in,” said Big Rig.

“Yes sir,” Smitty’s replied

“Someone is on the way to get that info for you now Bill. How are you and Linda doing?” said Big Rig.

“The doctors want Linda to start chemo this week. I thought I was going to lose her two months ago. The doctors put her on a special diet to boost her immune system and to give her some of her strength back,” replied Bill Goodspeed, his voice cracking as he replied to his friend’s question.

Both William Goodspeed and Larry Rodgers had been classmates at Annapolis Naval Academe together. They had both meet their future wives at a social dinner party thrown for those classmates who were to be accepting a commission in the United States Marine Corps.

“Bill, she is a strong woman, hell she is stronger that the two of us. How are the kids holding up?” asked Big Rig.

“Shelly and Jacob are doing okay, they moved back into the house to help out.” Bill replied

“If you guys need anything give Beth a call, help around the house, someone to spell you while you need to run an errand, anything, call her please,” Said Big Rig pleading with his long time friend Bill Goodspeed.

“Will do Larry,” replied Bill sounding happier.

There was a knock at the hatch to the communication center and the young man that had retrieved Big Rig went to answer it. He walked over to the desk that Big Rig was sitting at and handed him the manifest.

“Bill, I got the flight manifest here, let me scan it and send it along with the photos we have,” said Big Rig

“No problem,” was Goodspeed’s reply.

Big Rig scanned the information with his pda and combined that file with the file that he had received from Diesel and sent it off to his friend Bill.

“I just sent you the files to you, you should be getting in a few moments,” said Big Rig.

“I’ll call you back when I have some information for you.

“Give Linda and the kids our love.”




“Will do.” Then he hung up the phone and started to contemplate who to call next as to finding out whom these two mystery men might be while he wait for the e-mail. Colonel Goodspeed thought the first person he should call would be the Army’s liaison officer to the CIA. His computer beeped informing him that he had a new e-mail. He opened it and sent it to the printer next to his desk. If that struck out then he would call the director of army personnel. If that also struck out then he would call the Army’s personnel records and request a copy of the service jacket.

“Staff Sergeant Wilson could you get me the number for the Army’s liaison officer to the CIA please,” he said into the intercom.

“I’ll connect you in just a minute sir.”

She placed that call and transferred it to his office and informed him as to which line the call was on in just under a minute.

“Major Reilly’s office, how can I help you?” said a man answering the phone.

“Yes this is Colonel Goodspeed over at Naval Intelligence at the pentagon and I need to speak with either Lieutenant Wynn or Lieutenant Berkley in Jack Boggs group.”

Major Reilly looked down at his caller id screen and it showed that indeed that the phone call was coming from a Colonel Goodspeed’s office in the pentagon and that it was a secure line.

“Just one minute sir.” After a short pause he continued. “I’m showing that both men are on TAD sir.”

“Can you describe them to me?”

“No sir, I don’t know either man sir.”

Colonel Goodspeed leaned back in his chair and thought as to how he was going to get the service records for both men without going through official channels. Then it came to him, all the military branches were really run by the noncommissioned officers.

“Staff Sergeant Wilson would you please come in here for a minute.”

She walked in and stood at attention in front of his desk.

“At ease Staff Sergeant, take a seat. I need some information on two men and I don’t want to go through official channels and I was wondering if you could help me there.”

“Yes sir, I’ll do my best sir.”

90 minutes later Staff sergeant Wilson returned knocking on his office door.

“Come in,” Colonel Goodspeed said not looking up from his desk. He was engrossed in looking over some aerial photos with an old fashion magnifying glass.

“Sir, I have that information you wanted, and sir you are not going to like it one bit.”

“And why is that staff sergeant?” Colonel Goodspeed asked.

“The photos you gave me don’t match the ones in their official service record jacket,” she stated flatly as she put the folders on the colonel’s desk. Each folder was open to the photos of the men in question.

Bill looked at the photos that his friend, Larry had sent him and compared them to the ones in the record jacket and they did not match. Not even close. ”Staff Sergeant, do the words, Houston, we have a problem mean anything to you?” Colonel Goodspeed asked.