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.

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