Tuesday, February 15th

What did I say in the last post? I believe I mentioned something about knowing that HQ was going to make us earn back all of the money that was spent on us. Guess what? They did; and it paid off. We were able to take back the Magazine. The operation was beautiful.

Alpha team and SL Ramirez infiltrated via helicopter from the roof. Bravo team rode into the loading dock entrance in one of our new FAVs. Our actions were swift and precise. Zero KIA or WIA on our squad and 14 KIA for the OPFOR. Our team got some awards for the assault, but I didn't get an award since there wasn't much for an LRS to do within the job description. Basically in missions like that I become a CQS again.

I'll get my chance to do some long range stuff soon. There is a special mission coming up. I don't know what it is yet, but I've been told that I'll be the primary aggressor.

Friday, February 11th

The Monday after our four night torture session we got news that we were being shipped off for some more training. It wasn't easy telling my wife that I would be leaving for two weeks; especially with only a one day notice. She wasn't okay with it, but knew I had to go. I don't like doing this to her. I put my paperwork in for a transfer to IS and was told that I didn't yet have enough combat experience. It took all I had in my power not to smack the clerk with my rifle. Not ENOUGH combat experience huh? Since when do you need combat experience to work in Information Security?

We got to the office early the next morning. Our flight was an early one so that we could avoid having to transport our unit during business hours. Our convoy could still have been attacked, but chances were less likely before the official work day. Our route took us by the building where I witnessed three men get reduced to bits by a Gatling gun manned by Geoff.

Our flight took us on a few hops before bringing us to a small town in the Midwest. Training took place in two phases. Phase I was 'Helicopter Exiting Techniques'. Phase II was 'Ground Target Skydiving'. Somehow I wasn't surprised to see the same two instructors from our previous class. Our training began with a question from one of them, "is anyone here afraid of heights?" Everyone was smart enough to keep their hands down regardless of their answer. The instructor smiled, "good!"

Phase I was great. We learned to repel for a helicopter ten different ways. My favorite dismount procedure was fast rope exit. The phase lasted a week and culminated with a series of mock assaults with simulated OPFOR. We successfully completed the course and received a training metal and certificate.

Phase II scared the hell out of me. I never really had a yearning to jump out of a plane; until I actually did it. A weird feeling stuck with me during the plane phase. It's hard to describe it. The only way I can put it is being so scared that you can hardly move, but when you do jump there isn't a more exhilarating feeling in the world. We did about ten jumps a day. By the last day we could HALO (High Altitude, Low Opening) jump onto a targeted rooftop. Well I say we, but a few on our team couldn't hit the roof consistently, but did well enough to pass.

We got back to the office right before the end of the business day. While we were gone HQ decided to invest in some toys for us! There is an official unit area for us now attached to HQ's building. It has a locker room with showers, break room, offices for our 'higher ups', and conference area. A garage houses our APC, 2 SUVs, and 2 new FAVs. We were also told that we have our own small plane at the local airport.

I'm going to enjoy all of the new things while I can because I know that we will be earning back all of the money spent on us soon enough. I also found out that I am only a few points away from being promoted to an E-3. When that happens I will be moved to the first RTL position that becomes available. Personally I don't care about that as much as getting the bump in pay!

Saturday, January 29th

The course started on Tuesday night in the middle of the woods somewhere. After work that afternoon we were loaded up in a delivery van and drove for a few hours. It was dark inside and there were no seats or straps and the ride was disorienting as each turn would send you into a slide across the floor. Toward the end of the trip I could tell that we turned onto a very bumpy dirt road. The left strap on my pack came undone when the van came to an abrupt stop.

The back doors opened up and revealed a blinding white light broken up by two dark figures. I heard something drop onto the floor of the van. The doors slammed shut and we were once again in total darkness. I began to fiddle with my strap when I heard a small hissing noise. My eyes filled with tears and my face began to burn. Each breath was like inhaling heartburn and the smell was unforgettable. I must admit that a pepper bomb is one of the most horrible things I have ever experienced.

CQS Turner tried to open the doors, but they were locked from the outside. He and CQS Yarbanks began kicking the doors as hard as they could. The van began moving again. The bomb had just run out of juice when we stopped again. We all tried to keep composure while waiting for the doors to open. I didn't think that the pain could get any worse; that is until I stepped outside and let the blistering cold wind smash me in the face. Wind just seemed to compound the burning sensation rather than make it better.
A voice came from out of the darkness, "form up!"

We all staggered into formation and did our best to stand at attention. The area was quiet for a couple of minutes. I began to get worried that we had been left alone. My vision slowly came back and I could make out the shapes of trees all around us. Suddenly the area was lit up by a dozen flood lights. Two guys stood in front of our formation. Both were wearing desert combat boots, tan cargo pants, black short-sleeve shirt, tactical vest, and a black hat. They stood tall with their arms crossed and glared at us. We were instructed on where to sleep by one of them. Home was a large canvas tent lined with metal frame bunk beds that the instructors called 'racks'. This was the beginning of a very unforgettable week.

Wednesday morning we all woke up to tear gas canisters popping in our tent. I guessed that something like that would happen so I had pulled out my gas mask the night before. Quickly I secured the mask to my face. I was first to make it out of the tent. The others came running out soon after. One of the instructors walked up to me and began to fire off questions.

"Why did you put your gas mask on?"
"Uh... I wanted to avoid the gas, sir."
"Don't call me sir damnit! Don't you see the insignia on my cover?" He pointed to gold sergeant stripes sewn into the front of his hat.
"I'm sorry sergeant!"
His chest puffed out and he pointed his finger in my face, "I know you are! Now apologize!"
"I um... I apol..."
He interrupted me, "I don't give a shit! Apologize to your team dumbass! Because of you the rest of them are in pain right now."
"But I didn't do anything to them."
"Oh really? When did you decide to that you might need your gas mask huh?"
"Last night, sergeant."
"And you didn't think that it could possibly be some good information to share with everyone else?"
"Well I wasn't really thinking of..."
"Exactly! You were only thinking of yourself. To hell with the rest of them right?"
That question made me angry and I made sure to emphasize it in my voice, "No! I just didn't think about it is all!"
"You know what happens when you don't think about shit like that? Huh? Do you?" He bumped my forehead with his hat as he brought his face closer to mine, "people die. Right now the blood of everyone in this squad could be on your hands. The small details count, son. Remember that."

I could tell he was being sincere in his own twisted way so I backed down and nodded my head. I knew he was right. He drilled the point home by making me carry anyone that 'died' that day during our exercises. We went over IED (improvised explosive device) identification during the day and land navigation at night. The classes were very interesting, but I don't think I will ever use the information we learned. After our night training session he pulled me aside and talked to me. He told me that the weight of a dead friend on my conscious was far greater than the physical weight of carrying them out of battle. Then he told me that when I get ideas on defensive strategies, such as the gas mask this morning, I should share it with the rest of the squad.

Thursday was the most fun day of training. We learned some advanced weapons techniques during the day. The classes showed us how to use our weapons more efficiently in certain situations. That night we practiced firing at targets from an assortment of moving vehicles. I bet the outcome of more battles could be in our favor if we had some of those neat toys!

Friday was the last and most grueling day of training. We put on all of our gear and walked ten miles to a special training area. It was a simulated urban environment complete with buildings and vehicles. Our weapons were fitted with some sort of gear that would allow us to play some real war games. We fired blanks at OPFOR on the course. If someone was hit the gear attached to their helmet and vest would start to beep. If you were hit you had to fall down and act dead. Of course the instructors had fun with it a few times and told someone that they were just injured and needed to scream like hell until SM Magley showed up. When it got dark we started torture resistance training. It was a course on how NOT to talk when being tortured in different ways. I don't want to talk or think about that class anymore.

Saturday morning we were given a training metal and certificate. There was an open question and answer session with the instructors during breakfast. We found out that one was a retired Colonel and the other a retired Sergeant Major. Both were Delta Operators for the military. The stories these guys told were insane! I'm sure the stories they couldn't tell were even better!

Monday, January 24th

 $4,000,000 /year Revenue
-$3,000,000 /year Expenses
 $1,000,000 /year Net Profit

One million dollars a year of net profit is now gone. We lost the magazine in an attack today. Seven men were lost in the battle. I'm confident that the attack would have been unsuccessful if the MCU could've responded in time. We were at TV1 when the call came in. By the time we got there the bodies were being lined up outside. Overwhelming rage came over me and I fought to keep from jumping out of the APC and attacking the new residents. Unfortunately they were under protection of the Free Market Policy.

We couldn't retaliate for at least 24 hours per the rules of the Policy. Once the attacking force killed the CEO they became protected by the Government. This was a clause designed to allow enough time for a new managing company to be fully prepared to defend themselves. I think it's bogus. HQ held a companywide formation this afternoon to discuss the loss. We were told to be more vigilant, aware, and suspicious by some guys that sit in a room all day doing god knows what. For all we know it could be a casino behind HQ's doors.

The MCU was told to stay formed up while everyone else was dismissed. SL Ramirez told us that we would be attending a special three day, four night combat course starting tomorrow. We are going to be the first class trained by a couple of former special operations folks turned contractors. I'm excited to be going, but worried about what we are being trained for. Whatever mission(s) it may be I hope that they are planned out better than the last assault.

Friday, January 21st

I have to be back to the grind on Monday. I'll also have to coach the new guys on the ways of the MCU. The traditions of the original unit WILL NOT fade away while I am a part of it. It is up to CQS Yarbanks, CQS Turner, and me to make sure that the things that made the MCU different from everyone else will live on forever. I'm ready and pumped to go back and plan some revenge.


On the flip side I've spend the whole week at home without the fear of death and I kind of liked it. I don't spend nearly as much time as I should with my family. I've held my son more during this week off than I have since he was born. I've been up all hours, dodged pee, been smiled at, and spit-up on. I couldn't be happier. When his eyes lock in on mine I can't help but smile. I feel as though my body will burst with love and pride when he sleeps in my arms. Being with him really makes me not want to go back, and I don't have to.

One big separation between working under the Free Market Policy and military service is the required commitment. The military requires eight total years of service that can be completed in a variety of ways (Active, Reserve, Inactive Ready Reserve). It is unlawful to have any sort of commitment under the Free Market Policy. This doesn't stop a company from offering 'bonuses' for service terms. For instance my company will give a PSS up to a $xxxxx bonus for the first six months of service, and more if certain conditions are met during said service. I'll just say that assuming I'm still alive come mid-February we should be able to purchase a medium-sized house and new car outright.

I don't think that they know it, but I'm watching my wife and son right now. She has been talking to him for the last few minutes about their plans for tomorrow. My wife; I can't imagine life without her. She is the family President, CEO, and CFO. She takes care of everything and I am so grateful for that. I don't kill for some company that sees me as an operating expense. I kill to provide her the best life that I can. Her smile can still light a candle in the darkness that is overtaking my existence. She is my wife and the mother of our child, but more than that she is my best friend.

I'm filling out the request for transfer to the IS team when I get in on Monday. They will probably decline me, but I have to try. The position pays less money, but has a much higher survival rate.

Monday, January 17th

I got a phone call from SL Ramirez this morning. HQ decided to make him squad leader of the MCU as Clements’ replacement. I thought he called to tell me that HQ changed its mind about the time off and I needed to come back in immediately. Instead he wanted my input on who to assign as replacements for those killed on Friday. We spoke for a while about the different PSSs that we have worked with in the past and did our best to build a tough, well-balanced team. By the end of the conversation I was very confident about our 'new' unit:

SL Ramirez
FTL Park
CQS Yarbanks
FTL Aaron
LRS Gregory (Geoff)
CQS Turner
SM Magley
TS Ripper
TS Anderson

I was excited to know that I would be working with my buddy again. I called Geoff to give him the news. He didn't sound too excited however. He mentioned that Amy was going to be upset. Apparently they have grown really close in a short time. I heard him mumble something about not being able to ride into work together anymore. I heard that he has been spending the night at her place lately. I never thought that I would see the day when Geoff would be tied down by a girl. At least it’s with a good woman like Amy.

Saturday, January 15th

I just got a phone call from HQ. They have given the MCU some time off to ‘rest and reflect’... Yeah...

I’ll post any updates as they become available. Time with the family is what I need right now anyway I guess.

Friday, January 14th

Even the best companies have the occasional failed assault. Every single assault that I have defended against was a failure to the other side. Now I know what failure feels like. Now I know the pain of losing so many friends.

The mission was planned horribly from the start. HQ decided to assault the remaining television station in town that wasn't under our control. Apparently the two that we currently own have been bringing in a lot of revenue so obviously the suits wanted more. The assault team was thrown together and consisted of the MCU and one squad from TV1. There was no pre-assault recon. We also weren't given time to do any practice runs. Never before had I felt so expendable.

My team would take our APC and the other squad split up into two SUVs. SUV1 carried SL Ramirez, FTL Cost, LRS Whitley, CQS Yolk, and TS Holly. SUV2 carried FTL Roller, LRS Toole, CQS Timberly, TS Jones, and SM Marie. We formed up a convoy and rolled out at 1300GMT. Our APC was on point and reached the target at 1315GMT. My stomach was in knots as we pulled into the driveway. I was able to calm down by doing one last check on my equipment.

The parking area must have been free of defenders because CQS Yarbanks didn't fire a single round from the mounted gun. I could hear the two SUVs back in and park beside us. The back door dropped open and we all charged out ready to fight. The scene was eerie. The black marble building sat in silence. All five stories reflected the images of a beautiful sky. There were no guards posted anywhere on the lot. There were only two ways into the building that we knew of. One was through front door and the other was a loading dock entrance that was in the back. The MCU was assigned to the front door. I watched as Ramirez led his squad down the side of the building and disappear around the corner.

We set a charge on the front door and stacked up to the side. I could feel my heart race faster as I anticipated the explosion. A loud bang followed by the sound of breaking glass signaled us that the doorway was open. My life went in slow motion after that. SL Clements was at the front of the stack and led us in. The broken glass crumbled under our boots as we entered. I kept a frantic eye on my sector and saw nothing. I expected to hear gunfire at any second, but instead everyone cleared their sector. The lobby was empty. The marble covered walls were as bare as the front desk. The ceiling was an extra twenty feet higher than I expected and for some reason it made me feel tiny. Clements noticed a door at the back right corner of the room. We stacked up against the wall and got ready for entry. Clements grabbed the handle and pulled the door open. I got worried when I noticed that the door opened to the marble wall.

Ear piercing alarms began to sound in the lobby. Random doors began to slowly open up on the ceiling. I heard Clements mutter, "fall back to the APC." We all stood still in awe with our rifles pointed at the holes. I could hear some sort of hydraulic noises coming from the ceiling. A shimmer of light caught my eye and I noticed a large metal door was slowly closing up the front entrance. I alerted Clements who was still staring up in curiosity. Suddenly his eyes widened as he yelled, "fall back to the APC now goddamnit!" I ran toward the closing metal door when I noticed the hole in the ceiling right above it. A large Gatling gun was lowering out of the hole. A camera mounted on the side of the hydraulic arm lit up red as the gun was rotating to a horizontal position.

I was the first to make it outside. CQS Yarbanks, CQS Turner, and SM Magley followed. The door shut before anyone else made it out. I could hear the others pounding on the other side of the door. About ten seconds later the sound of gunfire replaced their cries for help. Over a thousand rounds must have ricocheted off of that door. Finally the guns stopped. The room was completely silent. Outside the four of us looked at each other stunned. My mind drifted back to the rooftop where I witnessed three men turned to bits by a helicopter mounted Gatling gun manned by Geoff. Turner broke the silence, "what do we do now?" I took in the situation for a minute. Being senior in rank I was now in charge of my squad. I ran over to our TS and told her to make sure that all of the vehicles were ready to make a quick getaway. I knew that we needed to check on the other squad. I tried the radio them but there was no answer. I left Magley and Turner with the vehicles and took Yarbanks to try and link up with Ramirez's squad.

Cautiously we approached the loading dock. One of the doors had been blown open. I listened closely for the sound of gunfire, but heard nothing. I took off my helmet and slowly held it into the doorway. Nothing happened so I put it back on and inched forward. "I'd kill for a mirror right now," I said to myself. I didn't like exposing myself to blind corners. I pushed aside my overwhelming will to continue living and jumped through the doorway. Yarbanks was right behind me. The room was clear. There were no signs of a firefight. I started getting nervous. I couldn't help but wonder if what happened to my squad also happened to the other.

There was a door on the back wall next to a window. Some of the window's glass had been busted out. The other side was for some sort of dispatch area. The door was locked, and it appeared that the other squad had been unsuccessful at blowing it open with a charge. It looked like the thick, heavy metal type. I walked over to the window and poked me head through. I still didn't hear anything. I looked back at Yarbanks and shrugged my shoulders before climbing through the broken window. Yarbanks carefully climbed in as well.

The door to the dispatch room led to a hallway. The locked door to the loading area was to our left, and the hallway extended to our right. The walls of the hall were made of cold, gray concrete. Several doors lined the hallway on either side. All of them had been kicked open; most likely from the other squad clearing the rooms. The very last doorway led to a small room that contained a metal door with a small circular window. I looked around the best I could for traps before entering. I told Yarbanks to stay on the other side of the door just in case I set something off. Luckily the roomed seemed safe enough to enter. Peeking through the small window of the door I could see a large lobby of some sort. Ramirez was behind a column for cover and trading shots with someone that I couldn't see. The window was small and limited my field of vision for the rest of the room. The whole part of the building we were in must have been sound proof because each one of Ramirez's shots only sounded like a mosquito sneeze to me.

I grabbed the handle and pushed the door open slowly. The sound of the fire fight exploded into our room. I told Yarbanks to guard the door while I ran in to link up with Ramirez. Entering the room I was able to see the full picture of what was going on. Marie was sitting leaned against a column surrounded by a pool of blood. A couple of other guys were laid out on the floor and covered in blood. I grabbed cover behind the column next to the one Ramirez was using. I looked around my cover and saw four OPFOR behind a desk about a hundred or so meters away. Ramirez looked over at me and yelled, "SITREP?" I reported our situation to him. He was now in charge of the whole mission as the senior rank. Thinking for a second he looked back up at me and made the hand signal for fallback. He then pointed at Marie. Amazingly she was still alive, but couldn't walk out on her own. I could feel rounds whizzing by my head while ran over to her. I picked her up and slung her over my shoulder.

We all made it out of the door and ran down the hallway toward the loading dock. After every step we took I expected to see something in our path, but there never was. Yarbanks busted out the rest of the dispatch window to make it a little easier to climb through. We made it back to the APC and climbed into the back. While Magley worked on Marie; Yarbanks, Turner, Ramirez, and myself all watched out of the port holes for any sign of retaliation. Strangely there was none. The SUVs made it to the driveway first. A large explosion sent them both into a barrel roll out into the street. The leftover crater was large, but our APC rolled through it without much effort. There was absolutely no way either TS could have survived so we kept driving. We drove back to HQ to get Marie immediate access to an ambulance. Ramirez called ahead to make sure it was there when we pulled in. The rest of the day was spent filling out after action reports and providing information to the intelligence folks.

Marie is still her tuff Russian self and should make a full recovery.

For the others:

SL Clements
FTL Cooper
FTL Cost
FTL Roller
LRS Whitley
LRS Toole
LRS Jorge
CQS Yolk
CQS Timberly
TS Holly
TS Jones

Please rest in peace…

Wednesday, January 12th

New security details have been handed out since the merger with the other television station.

Our current forces:

1st Platoon - "The Suck":
HQ - 3 squads
MCU - 1 squad
Newspaper - 2 squads

2nd Platoon - "The Badlands":
Magazine - 2 squads
Radio - 2 squads

3rd Platoon - "Wretched Swine":
Television 1 - 3 squads

4th Platoon - "Soul Seekers":
Television 2 - 3 squads

My chain of command has changed a little bit as well:

FTL Cooper -> SL Clements -> PS Pyle -> SoS Davis -> Director of Security

Our numbers are finally back to normal. It feels nice to belong to a platoon again because it means that we have platoon worthy number.

I spoke with Geoff on the way home. He said that he and Amy are still at the radio station together. He was on the way to meet Amy and her son for dinner. Ramirez is still at tTV1 and the acting squad leader since Pyle was promoted. I haven’t heard from Park or Cost, but I know that they are around somewhere. Marie is at TV1 keeping everyone healthy.

Monday, January 10th

Two words changed the lives of two families on Friday. Two words that a PSS never wants to be associated with. They could lead to anything from a write up to execution depending on the circumstance. You see we are given the special privilege of being allowed to carry a high-powered rifle wherever we go, but it comes with some responsibility. When you use a piece of equipment for so long there may be a point when you begin to trust that the equipment is secured when it may not be. The operator may quit checking his equipment because he just 'knows' that it’s squared away. It is at your most vulnerable moment that these two words will appear and change your life forever; 'Negligent Discharge'.

FTL Yuri was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter this afternoon. His outstanding service record meant absolutely nothing to the United States Government. Neither did the pleas for mercy from his family and friends. Even within the loosely legal boundaries of the Free Market Policy there was no choice but to charge him. The situation was made even worse for me because I had to sign an affidavit stating that I witnessed the incident. I felt horrible for him, his wife, and his infant daughter. I know he was scared, but I also know that he would be a man about it and cooperate.

We are taught in training to "no shooty blue,” which really translates to 'don't shoot civilians'. It is beat into us mentally with lectures and instructional videos. Unfortunately the occasional accident does still happen. I just wish it wasn't caused by someone like Yuri. If I were put in the same situation as him I only hope that I could have the same amount of courage as he does. He knows the charge, and he knows the punishment. Admitting guilt makes the process go a lot faster; like ripping off a bandage.

I had to go to the courthouse on Friday night for his sentencing. Justice is served quickly on a PSS. I sat with the rest of Yuri's team while he gave his account of what happened to the judge.
"My team and I were on patrol. Tension was still high after the January 3rd attacks. Every movement... every sound... Sir I honestly was scared. We must have hit the deck at least twice in the first five minutes. I'd keep thinking that I heard some rifle fire. Thoughts of other fire fights kept on flooding my mind; so many dead. But sir, when I heard those tires squeal it made me panic. That car was accelerating toward us. I wasn't going to fire until I could confirm the target. It's just that… when the car backfired I flinched and my finger squeezed. I was aiming at the driver. If you take out the driver the others can't get away. It's what I was trained to do. I reported the contact and my team moved up to clear the vehicle. I could tell by the look in their eyes that something was wrong. I walked up to the car and realized what I had done." Yuri began to fight back tears as he continued. "I removed all of my equipment and ordered my LRS to take me into custody. Sir how was I supposed to know that…" he began to cry, "how was I supposed to know?" He buried his face in his hands and was escorted out of the courtroom.

The judge called the witnesses forward. We stood at attention before the judge. He asked us, "Do you concur with the account of the accused and if so how are you related to the account?" Yuri's teammates answered first. I then explained that I was on another patrol and witnessed the act through the scope on my rifle. He asked me why I didn't shoot at the car when I saw what was happening. I told him that from my angle I could tell that it wasn't a company vehicle. He then asked me why I didn't report this to Yuri before he took the shot. I looked him square in the eyes. How dare he try to place some guilt on me! I took a deep breath, "Sir the whole incident only lasted about three to five seconds. THERE WAS NO TIME TO THINK. Only react." His face dropped down to his notepad as he scribbled something.

The punishment for a PSS is hard; even harder than the military. I was there when Yuri climbed the stairs onto the platform. His legs were shaking uncontrollably and he had to be helped up by the guards. His wife was there too. She held their child tight to her chest and rocked back and forth as she cried. Yuri kept his eyes on her until they began to cover his head with a hood. Before it covered his mouth he yelled, "I'm so sorry honey! Please tell our daughter that daddy lo...," his voice was muffled by the hood. What kind of assholes could do that to a man; taking away his final goodbye to his family? The victim's mother was there too. She held a picture of her daughter to her chest as she rocked back and forth and cried. She was late to school and wanted to make it before being tardy so she stomped the gas at the stoplight. Her mother worked a job that didn't allow her to provide the nicest car for her daughter and it occasionally backfired when shifting gears.

I closed my eyes when they wrapped the noose around his head. I didn't open them again until I heard the doctor pronounce his death.

Our company was fined $500,000 for the incident. The family will receive $250,000 of that. All of which is taxable income of course. I expect to see a lawsuit in the papers soon.

Thursday, January 6th

I woke up to my heart racing and body covered in a cold sweat. In my dream I was completely exposed and being shot in the chest. I could feel the pressure of every round as it pushed through my vest. I realized that CQS Yarbanks was nudging me with the butt of his rifle. It was almost time to stop and eat lunch. One of the benefits of being in the MCU was the opportunity to take a quick nap between destinations. The inside of the APC was almost pitch black when the interior lights were off. The only light that managed to get in was from the outside through the side port holes. I loved being in the APC. The warmth of the interior coupled with the illusion of isolation from the outside world made me feel comfortable. I wonder if this is what babies feel like in their mother's womb.

This was a particularly cold January. The coldest I've ever been through in the area. Everyone does something to help keep them warm when they are outside. My Kevlar hood covers my whole face minus an opening for my nose and eyes. It will add a painful couple of steps to complete before putting on my gas mask if I need it, but the added warmth is worth it to me. Plus I look pretty mean with it on. Yarbanks sips on hot water from his canteen throughout the day. At every stop he will run in and replace the old water with hot stuff from the faucet. FTL Cooper wears layer upon layer of civilian clothes under his uniform. FTL Zed grew up in Nova Scotia so it doesn't bother him at all.

We pulled into the newspaper division parking lot and dismounted the APC. Lunch was a cold can of chili and some potato chips. I really wish that HQ would at least let us bring our own lunch because this crap "donated" by the other divisions is horrible. How could the MCU bringing in our own food be against policy? The CEO of the newspaper walked out of the building and approached our group. No one called it, but we all snapped to attention. SL Clements greeted him with a sharp salute. Our unit is being trained by Clements to mimic the military as much as possible. Everyone in our group loves it. It's like we've been given a new sense of purpose. Clements and the CEO walked toward the building. On his way in Clements yelled, "as you were!" This freed us up from the position of attention so that we could get back to eating.

Shortly after lunch was over we mounted back into the APC and headed toward the magazine. Our route was interrupted by a call for help from the television station. Apparently there were about three squads of OPFOR outside of their building. It took us about fifteen minutes to get there. The strange this was that it didn't look like any fighting was going on. The OPFOR had their weapons slung behind their backs and one was holding a white flag. Clements gave us commands to execute after dismount. I half expected the opposing squads to open fire when we all jumped out of the APC. LRS Jorge and myself ran around the building to the roof access stairwell and climbed up. We met the two local LRS guys up there and spread out.

The enemy units were unorganized. There were twenty-four spread around like toys in a child's room. The number twenty-five guy was holding the white flag. Two people came out of the main entrance beneath us and walked up to Clements. One was wearing the PS rank and the other a SL rank. I didn't know that the television station had a Platoon Sergeant. Hell there was only two squads to manage. The three men walked cautiously up to the flag holder. I think all four of us zeroed in our crosshairs on the guy just in case. They shook hands and began to talk.

I started looking around at the other PSS to see if I recognized any of them. A few of them looked like people I may or may not have seen out and about while shopping with my wife, but one of them did stand out. His name was Ted Peters. We had worked together in the same I.T. department at my previous position. He was a really good guy. I wondered how his wife and two daughters were doing. Then I realized that I began to sympathize with him and decided to look away. The situation could have turned ugly at any moment and I didn't want to hesitate shooting ANYBODY. Two and a half hours had gone by when suddenly the front door flew open and the "flag guy" came running out.

All three squads of OPFOR unslung their weapons and pointed them in our direction. We never quit pointing ours at them. Their leader started waving his arms wildly and yelled, "no you idiots! Attack on HQ! We need to get back there now!" He turned at looked at our guys on the ground, "by the way guys; you're coming with us." We all looked at each other in confusion. Clements came out of the front door and began to yell. "MCU! Mount up! Assholes and elbows ladies; let’s go!" Jorge and I took the fast ropes to the ground and sprinted for the APC. We were the last two aboard and I shut the door as we pulled away.

Clements stood in the isle and kept his balance by holding on to the ceiling. "All right men listen up. As of 1500 hours the television division has merged with one of our former competetors. Our current objective is to keep it protected for the rest of the day. You all know what will happen in the morning." In the morning formation new security assignments would be given out to some people. I hope none of the 'new' guys get shot if they have to report to one of our business units. Tomorrow isn't enough time to give them new uniforms to match ours. Oh well. Not my problem. I was snapped out of my imagination by the TS who yelled, "Two minutes 'till landing."

We were greeted to about five squads of OPFOR when we pulled up. The TS parked the APC in front of the front doors which provided us some cover as we ran in. We formed up quickly. Clements told us to stay in our teams so as to not get lost alone. Our presence had already been announced so no new friendly forces should fire at us. The building was larger than I had expected. It stood four stories tall and had its own mini parking deck. Our team decided to use the catwalk and gain access to the parking deck to look for and protect any weak spots in the current defense. Bravo team was going to secure link up with a team somewhere on the east side of the building. Our medic followed Bravo team. Both TSs stayed in the lobby to keep an eye on our vehicle. I'm not so sure of where Clements went.

We made it to the catwalk and found the parking deck access door. The walls of the deck were about waist high. This would allow us to see what was going on down below. There was a team at the west end of the parking lot. They were taking cover behind the wall. One of them noticed us and waived us over. I noticed Ted was one of them. He wasn't able to recognize me because of my face mask. One of them asked, "Who's the highest rank?"
FTL Cooper responded, "I'm the FTL."
The guy looked puzzled. "What's a FTL?"
"Fire Team Leader."
"What PSS rank is that?
"I'm an E-3, guy."
"Ah. Roger that. We have a different naming standard I guess. I'm an E-3 too, but we're just 'Team Lead'."
"Okay. So any suggestions on what to do?"
"How about the snipers go up to the third floor of the deck and the rest of us go to the first floor and provide fire support from there?"
"Sounds good," Cooper looked at me and smirked, "hey 'sniper'; go with the other 'sniper' and kill some stuff."

I snapped a salute and let out a deep, "yes sir!" It was tough to hold in my laugh. Ted turned out to be their 'sniper'. We took the stairs to the third floor. We stepped out onto the top level and looked at each other. Finally he asked, "do I know you from somewhere?" I took off my helmet and facemask and smiled. He let out a small laugh and rolled his eyes. We were good work buddies at our old company. We shook hands and gave each other a quick one-armed "man" hug. "Let's go kill some stuff," he said. I put my helmet back on and we ran to the wall.

We spent the next hour trading fire with the enemy. I guess they got tired of being slowly picked off so they formed what looked like a Spartan phalanx. They had a wall of shields that deflected our rounds. I began to worry as the forty man formation slowly moved closer. They moved toward the middle of the front lawn making their way to the front doors. Ted slapped my back and chuckled. He asked, "what are the last words of a hillbilly?" I looked at him and answered, "wha’chis'." He motioned with a nod for me to look back at the slow moving force. A large blast shook my brain loose and flung the formation into the air. When the dust settled it looked like a scene from a horror flick. Mangled bodies lay among pieces of extremities and entrails. The smell of iron filled the air. Not a single one of them survived.

I pulled over and puked on the side of the road on the way home from work.

Break almost over!

Our 'hero' will continue his story starting December 13th! Check back then!

Volume One Complete

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Monday, January 3rd, 2340GMT

It all started at 0900. The first few moments of the attack are still a little fuzzy. I was in the bathroom standing at the urinal when I heard a large explosion. The next thing that I remember is the ringing in my ears as I pulled myself off of the floor. I could see outside thanks to a giant hole that had been blown into the side of our building. As the ringing faded away I could hear the attack alarms sounding off. I called FTL McAllister over my radio and reported the new bathroom ‘door’. I was ordered to stay put until CQS Yarbanks could take over the new security risk.

The bushes outside of the bathroom started to rustle around. I saw a hand toss a flash bang from around the corner. It sailed through the air toward my chest. Without thinking I used the butt of my rifle to ‘bunt’ the thing back out of the hole. It landed on the ground outside and I slammed by back against the wall to avoid as much of the explosion as possible. When it detonated my ears began to ring again, but I could still see just fine. I jumped out of the opening and saw three guys holding their eyes and groaning in pain. The groaning stopped after spending nine rounds from my rifle.

Yarbanks flung open the bathroom door and came charging in. I called for him outside. We searched the three bodies and took what we thought was useful. One of them was carrying a semi-automatic shotgun. I slung it around my back and grabbed a handful of shells from one of his pockets. Suddenly I heard a thud right next to our position. It was a gas canister! Yarbanks called over the radio, “Gas! Gas! Gas!” The gas alarm began to ring throughout the building. We were both able to seal our masks before the gas began to sting. I looked at Yarbanks and asked him if he was good to guard the post. He looked at me with a smirk and replied, “I don’t see a post, so I’ll guard this hole instead.” He couldn’t tell since I was wearing my gas mask, but I smiled and shook my head as I ran into the building. He had a way of being funny even in the most tense of situations.

I ran up the stairwell and onto the roof. I kept a low profile as I ran toward the edge. Slowly I popped over the edge to get a good view of what we were up against. I counted the best that I could and reported my numbers to McAllister. Twenty-six assailants not including the three that I took out earlier. Our squad of seven was up against a platoon! SL Pyle came over the radio and reported that reinforcements from HQ were on the way.

Geoff came over the radio and reported that FTL Andres was hit and that he was assuming command of the fire team. They were pinned down behind some vehicles to the left of the parking lot. Two mounted machine guns were keeping them from moving and I could see a fire team moving around the left to wedge themselves between our building and Geoff’s team. I took aim at one of the mounted machine gunners and stopped him with a head shot. I heard one of the OPFOR yell, “Sniper!” My position came under a heavy barrage of gun fire. The lip of the roof was about three feet tall, so it provided enough cover for me to move to a new position. I moved to the far left corner and peeked over the ledge. They seemed to be looking for me everywhere but where I was at. Quickly I took out the other mounted machine gun position.

I took cover and tried to think of a way to help get Geoff’s team into the building. The machine gunners were now out of commission, but I’m sure they could be quickly replaced. The sounds of engines started to echo from down the street. I looked through my scope and could see two SUVs coming from HQ. I also saw that someone had pulled the body out of one of the machine gun nests and was attempting to mount the weapon. A couple of rounds put him down. Geoff’s team was still pinned down, but by small arms fire from surrounding OPFOR. I took out two guys that made up the center flank. This caused the attention of the right flank to turn to me which gave Geoff enough time to stand up and throw a flash bang at the left flank. While they were blinded he and his CQS took aim at the three making up the right flank. I watched as they were shoved down by a plethora of rounds. The three in the left flank blindly took cover near Yarbanks position. I heard him take them out.

The remaining two OPFOR squads were spread out in the parking lot. Everything grew eerily quite for a few seconds. Suddenly they all took off for their SUVs. I was able to hit one of them in the arm as he ran. They all mounted up and burned rubber out of our parking lot. I looked through my scope and watched as the HQ units took out one SUV and shot at the other as it sped away. The squad from HQ pulled into the parking lot and greeted us. SL Clements was in charge of the group. Clements and Pyle were talking when Pyle yelled to me, “How many kills did you get?” I responded with a count of eight.

All of the sudden it was like watching a baseball card trade. Yarbanks and myself were traded for a FTL and a LRS from the HQ ‘team’. We were told to mount up so he hopped into the first SUV. We asked some guy wearing a FTL rank what was going on and he said that it was some new unit that had been organized that morning. I saw Clements and Pyle shake hands. Clements climbed into our SUV and began to talk, “HQ formed a new squad called the Mobile Combat Unit, or MCU for short, that you two have been given the honor of serving in. We will patrol ALL business units all of the time, and come to the aid of anyone under attack.” He went over the team members and ranks.

Mobile Combat Unit
SL Clements
Alpha Team:
FTL Cooper
LRS (Me)
CQS Yarbanks
Bravo Team:
LRS Jorge
CQS Turner
SM Magley
TS Ripper
TS Jones

I tried to size up the people on my new team. Clements was a big ole’ country boy. For some reason he tried to hide it, but it always came out in his voice. He looked at the TS, “Alrighty sweetheart. Let’s go to HQ. We got some stuff to pickup.”

We pulled into HQ and told to form up. Then something unexpected happened; we MARCHED inside. It was very odd and very cool at the same time. We made our way to the supply area and formed up in a file. A supply specialist dropped some body armor at each of our feet. We were told to remove our old body armor and to put on the new piece. It felt lighter more flexible. After everyone was done Clements spoke, “This is Dragon Skin body armor. It is made up of ‘scales’ and will protect you against more direct hits than your old stuff did. It may feel weaker, but trust me it’s not. Also I regret to inform you that there will be no new weapons systems as previously though. Leadership has decided that the money is best spend somewhere else, and you will find out about that sometime later this month.”

The attack alarm began to sound. Clements spoke into his radio for a few seconds. We didn’t break formation while we waited. He turned to us and said that an attack is suspected to be coming any minute. An LRS on patrol scouted some competition in the area. We were told to support the defending HQ forces and report back after the attack was over. LRS Jorge and myself ran as fast as we could to the top of the parking garage. There was already one guy up there. He yelled to us, “Yo! Check out what’s in the crate over here; we got some presents!” We ran over to find a couple of Remington 700 rifles. The guy looked at us and realized that we weren’t who he thought we were apparently. He shook his head, “Don’t touch those rifles. Those are for MY team. Go pick a spot and scout.”

We took up positions facing in the direction of the incoming attack. In the distance I could see a SUV and an APC making their way to us. Jorge suddenly yelled out, “I see one sniper in the building to the south!” I looked at the building through my scope. It looked like apartments with windows facing our direction. The other guy was looking as well and asked which floor. “Ninth. Third window from the left,” Jorge replied. The target was out of the range of our M16s. We both stared at the other guy. He looked back at us, “What?” I could tell he didn’t get it so I replied, “Our weapons aren’t able to accurately hit a target at over three-hundred meters and that building is at least five-hundred.” He looked back down, checking the parking lot and driveway, “That means we are out of his range too. He’s just scouting us.”

I opened my mouth to set the guy straight, but I don’t think that he could hear me anymore once the back of his exploded under his helmet. Soon after we heard the crack from the gunshot that took his life. I used the chest high wall of the parking garage as cover while I ran over to grab the Remington. It felt good in my hands. I didn’t know if it had been setup to use the scope correctly, but it was our only chance to take out the sniper so that we could provide good support for the defending force. I changed position and used the wall as support for the rifle to keep it steady. The sniper was still in the same position. I put the crosshair on his chest and let out a slow breath. I saw a flash from his rifles muzzle and felt a panic wash over me. The concrete in front of my face seemed to explode. I would have caught a lot of bits to my eyes if I wasn’t wearing eye protection. I aimed once again and held my breath. The sniper’s muzzle flashed again. Quickly I squeezed the trigger of my rifle and dropped back below the wall. I could hear his round zip overhead. Looking back at the window I could see him slumped over his rifle hanging halfway outside of the window.

Jorge looked at me and smiled, “Beginner’s luck!” The enemy vehicles were pulling into the driveway. I could see some of our CQSs in positions around the parking lot waiting for the fight to begin. The SUV had a mounted gunner that began firing at my position while it pulled into the parking lot. I could hear everyone in the parking lot open fire. Jorge grabbed a Remington out of the box and made it ready to fire. The shots in our direction had stopped. We both peeked over the wall to get a view of what was going on down on the ground. The SUV was full of holes and everyone from our platoon had weapons pointing at the APC.

Suddenly the small holes in the side of the APC began to spit out rounds in all directions. Everyone on the ground took cover. Jorge and I kept our aim and waited. The back door must have opened because guys started hopping out two at a time. Eight guys in total had hopped out of the vehicle. Jorge took out five, I took out one, and the ground guys took out two. The APC sat quietly for a few seconds. The ground forces began to move in to clear it when it fired up the engine and took off. One of the guys managed to toss a gas canister through one of the holes as it passed, so the drive home was going to be a painful one for whoever was left alive in there.

We formed back up with the rest of the team. Thankfully we were all still alive. Clements mounted the first SUV with two FTLs while the rest of us got into the second SUV. We relaxed for a minute; enjoying the ride with the windows rolled down. We pulled into the magazine division and hopped out. Lunch was fifteen minutes sitting on the ground and eating a turkey sandwich. We did get all of the Gatorade that we could handle though so it wasn’t a completely sucky lunch. We spent the next hour learning some of the functions of the APC that FTL Yuri had captured during the attack on the magazine a short while back. Apparently it was assigned to our unit.

At about 1330 we got word that the newspaper was under attack by the same company responsible for the attacks that occurred earlier in the morning. As we ran toward our APC the attack alarms began to sound for the magazine. I climbed on top of the APC as everyone else grabbed a good position. The magazine had a single entrance/exit from loading dock in a large garage where everyone parked. We were spread out on in the loading dock and watched the entrance of the garage.

Two SUVs drove past the entrance and hit their brakes. Both of them came flying through the garage opening in reverse. The were picking up speed by the second. I took aim with my newly acquired Remington and aimed for a tire on one of the incoming vehicles. I led my target slightly and fired. The tire went immediately flat and caused the driver to lose control. It turned sharply to the left and clipped a column. I quit counting after three rollovers. The other SUV popped open its hatch and greeted us with two OPFOR firing toward our position. Both of them began concentrating their fire onto my position. I rolled off of the APC and landed on my feet. I was about to hit the floor when I felt a huge pressure on the right side of my chest. The pressure was so great that it actually knocked me to the ground. My ribs instantly began to throb with pain. It wasn’t all too long ego that I had broken a couple of them. I grabbed at the source of the pain and found my new armor had a tear from being punctured by a bullet! I reached under the vest and realized that the bullet didn’t go all the way through. The Dragon Skin had done its job.

By the time I stood back to my feet the fight was over. My shot had caused the wreck that took out six out of seven OPFOR. I tried to run up a tally of how many kills that I had so far as I hopped into the APC. Sixteen in one day. I just hoped that the newspaper was still under our control. That and I hoped all of the OPFOR had already been taken out. The number sixteen started to weigh heavily in my mind. All was quite when we arrived.

There were only three more hours on the battle clock. Three more hours and this work day would be over. I wished with everything that I had for the day to end without any other incidents. We rode out to the television station and checked in with the unit there. I caught up with FTL Ramirez while we were there. He said that things had been pretty calm around there since the last battle. We got a call about HQ being under attack again. Enemy force size was described as ‘heavy’.

Everyone piled into the APC and we took off toward HQ. There was some good distance between the offices so the ride was long. I rubbed the spot on my chest where I had been hit. Fear began to set in. Clements didn’t help when he began to issue orders. Jorge and I were told to leave behind the the rifles and to join in with the ground fight. I slung my M16 on my back and grabbed the shotgun that I had pulled from the first group of OPFOR that I had taken out that morning. It was a no pump semi-automatic full of slug shells.

Three minutes out we were told to put on our gas masks and secure all equipment. We were being dropped off literally in the middle of the fight. Our APC was going to create a wedge of cover for the defending ground forces. Thankfully our vehicle had side doors so we could jump out on the friendly side of the battle. I could hear the ultra loud popcorn sound of the battle as we approached.

Finally at 1530 we arrived at the driveway. We drove right through enemy controlled area toward the center of the parking lot. We were able to take some of the OPFOR out by firing from the side port holes as we drove by. I wish I could recall everything that happened during that battle to write about here, but I can’t. I remember bits and pieces. I can recall a lot of loud noise. At one point a tank rolled in. I’m sure that I could remember how we took out the tank if I tried, but I honestly don’t want to. There is probably a reason I’ve blocked a lot of it out. I just can’t remember...

The numbers:

Battle 1 - Radio Station
1 KIA - Friendly

Battle 2 - HQ
1 KIA - Friendly

Battle 3 - Magazine

Battle 4 - Newspaper
1 WIA - Friendly

Battle 5 - HQ
7 KIA - Friendly
12 WIA - Friendly