Copyright© 2010 by Sagacious
"Do you still miss them Sergeant Mick?" Kat asked.
Katrinka was sitting next to me in the back of the Gamagoat sharing dinner. Kat had come to us a couple months ago, the day I found out that my wife and daughter had been killed in the bombing of Boston. It was also just before the best mission we had ever done, and we considered her to be a lucky charm. She had shown up in a tattered and torn blouse and skirt with ratty sandals on her feet. Now she had a full set of BDU's, to include boots and a helmet. No one was willing to give her an M-16, but Lt. Nichols had taken her out and taught our 14-year-old orphan how to shoot a captured pistol. She proved to be a natural talent and now wore the gun holstered on her web belt.
I put my arm around her and gave her a big hug. "Yeah I do, but you help the pain just by being here hon."
I was interrupted by a crash and yelling coming from outside.
Damn, Stretch was at it again. I pushed Kat away from me and gave her the instruction, "guard duty". Kat didn't hesitate; she unsnapped the cover on her holster and jumped to the ground, headed for the perimeter.
Outside I saw what I expected to see. SSG Stretch, she had been promoted last month, and SP4 Everholz were standing opposite each other across a tipped over table. "Stretch! I need to see you please, Lani, clean up the mess and get ready to roll." When Debra looked to object I repeated to her, "over here Deb, now."
When she climbed up into the goat I dropped the back curtain for some privacy.
"It wasn't me Mickey, she..."
"I don't want to hear it Deb. You have been on a tear ever since we lost Jimmy. You know losing him wasn't your fault, so why are you going nuts on me? Are you that horny? Am I going to have to trade you to the other team so you can get your ashes hauled?"
I knew the indicators for her being frustrated. I had known Debra Stretch for a long time. She arrived in Turkey just after I did and I trained her on the systems there, then three years later she arrived at Devens as a student when I was teaching TACJAM. Her course was almost completed when we were tapped for the war. Deb was already in the 520th MI and volunteered to be my partner. While in Turkey she had started getting bitchy until she found a young 98C to ease her tensions. Jimmy Fallon had served that purpose here until a rabid dog had attacked him. I had killed the dog, but Jimmy's leg was pretty badly torn up and we had to call in a Medevac. Jimmy's replacement was SP4 Lani Everholz, a combination of Hawaiian and German. She was just over 5' high and built like a truck. Square face, broad shoulders, wide hips and thick legs. When she smiled she was very pretty, but she only smiled at women, except for Stretch lately.
"No! Please don't trade me away Mick. I'll be good, it's just that, well, you know."
"Yeah, I know Deb. What if I request a few days in garrison for maintenance on the track? The cooling unit is starting to have trouble."
"I guess that would be okay, but there is a better solution. You know why I was screwing Jimmy, don't you?"
"He was young and able to keep up with you?"
"Well yeah, that, but mainly it was because I couldn't have what I wanted. You Mick. I was trying to make you jealous. Instead you picked up a pretty little slave."
Whoa, two stunning revelations at once. "First off, Kat isn't a slave. We are helping her stay safe."
"Yeah Sarge, you're keeping the little girl safe by driving her around in the biggest fucking target on the battlefield. She idolizes you and would do anything you asked. After her rape I think that you are the only man who could ever get near enough to her. We have talked, and it took some talking I can tell you, to make her realize that you weren't rejecting her, but that you were married and would be true to that oath. The problem is that now that oath has been broken through no fault of yours and you still haven't taken her. As far as she is concerned Mick, you own her."
"Damn it Stretch, this isn't the talk I thought we were going to have. Are you two blind? I'm old and fat, hell my daughter was almost Kat's age, and I top you by at least a decade. Hell yes I was jealous of Jimmy, I was jealous of Bob in Turkey too, especially when you took that vacation with him in England on the way home. But that was the simple jealousy of wanting something I could never have."
"You may be big, but I've seen how strong you are, and age means nothing to a woman Mick. I'd have propositioned you long ago, but your wife was always there in the background and you are such a loyal man that no one was going to get around your vow, and that just made me want you more."
"Alpha Victor five two, this is Romeo Juliet three seven, over."
The radio had saved me from having to answer that absurd statement.
"Romeo Juliet three seven this is Alpha Victor five two, go ahead, over."
Platoon HQ responded with a message. I broke out the codebook and saw that we were recalled to base, and it gave the coordinates for us to meet at.
"We'll talk about this later Stretch, let's go."
Taking down camp was never much work; we did not expect to stay in one place long so we were always ready to bug out.
For once I was glad of the noise of the track. I didn't have to talk to Katrinka, and she was still excited by riding in the rumbling vehicle.
When we got to the platoon ops, collocated with the Company and Battalion HQ's, I was surprised to see two TACJAM huts sitting there. Wolfelt's I was familiar with, but the second one had the name "Shamu" painted under the windshield and the markings for 1st Cavalry Division on the side. Unfortunately I thought I recognized the slight figure standing beside the system talking to Wolfelt.
I pulled up beside my goat and the figure turned around, damn, it was her. SFC Ann Christopher and I had never gotten along at all. Ann considered me to be sloppy, and a poor example to the students. She adored my boss though. Doug Brigham was her idea of a soldier and if they both hadn't already been married, there would have been sparks flying.
I got down out of the track and her face fell when she saw whom it was. I know that she had been expecting Doug and was probably very disappointed.
"Hello Sergeant First Class Christopher. I'm surprised to see you here."
"When I heard that there was somebody tearing up the Sov's with a jammer, you are not what I expected Sergeant," she leaned further toward me, "First Class Hill? When did that happen? You sure weren't headed that way the last time I saw you."
"Just last month, the Colonel pinned it on him for merit Sergeant Christopher. Sergeant Hill has made jamming a viable weapon and that was why I requested you from 1st Cav." Captain Jameson, our company CO, had walked up behind Ann as she was talking. "They weren't getting any use at all from your system as it was and they were happy to trade you for a 60 KW generator. What happened to the other two systems you deployed with?"
"They were destroyed while on a mission sir. It was only our second mission and we had been transmitting for about 2 minutes when the rounds came in. I was moving to my next position when they went up or we would have been gone too."
"You were up for two minutes? Sergeant Wolfelt, how long was the last mission you did?"
"Almost twenty minutes from start to end sir."
"Twenty minutes?! What were you doing, bouncing the signal off a cliff or something?"
"No, we use a scalpel, not a sledgehammer. The most power I have had to put on target in the last three months is about 150 watts. By the time we got done with that mech infantry battalion last week they walked into an ambush without a clue. Mick has us doing things that drive the Sov's loopy."
"We were doing the same thing you were to start with," Capt. Jameson said, "that's how we lost Brigham and his team. Sergeant Hill, I believe that Lieutenant Nichols has a surprise for you on the other side of this hut."
I nodded to Captain Jameson and SFC Christopher and stepped by them to go around the track. On the other side was a jeep with trailer, and judging by the 1st Cav patches on them they belonged to Shamu. Lt. Nichols was standing beside the jeep looking in to where someone was messing with the radios mounted behind the driver.