Chapter 020

Together Chapter 020

Copyright 2014 - 2015 Banzai Ben and Amazing Anastasia


Flashback – Ben and Jack – The trip to hell… Ramadi


We arrived at the motor pool, loaded the Humvee with our gear, the Captain handed me a set of hearing protectors and ordered, "Sgt. Blaine, you're our gunner."


The driver walked up, saluted the Captain, saw my hearing protectors and asked, "So, you're the gunner? How many times have you done this before?"


I began to answer when the Captain interrupted, "Sgt. Blaine saved our asses in an ambulance convoy in Baghdad - he's a hell of a gunner."


I answered, "The one time in Baghdad."


I could tell by the expression on his face he wasn't happy about it but he didn't say anything other than, "Well, climb in because it's going to be a hell of a ride. The last trip we lost two trucks and one Humvee."


The Captain took the passenger seat, Jack and I piled into the back and we moved into the middle of the convoy.


Jack leaned over and a bit too loudly stated, "He sure didn't seem to like the fact that you are going to be the gunner."


The driver heard him and answered, "That's right! We might have stood a chance with someone that knew what the hell they were doing on the Ma Deuce, but with a rookie gunner our ass is grass."


The Captain finally did something good and chewed his ass, "Corporal! You can shut the hell up and keep your worthless opinions to yourself. Sgt. Blaine is more than qualified to man Ma Deuce."


I jumped into the fray with both feet, "I'll tell you what Corporal, if you don't like the way I handle the gun, then switch places with me."


Just as I figured, the Corporal didn't say a word because being a gunner was tantamount to participating in suicide.


I smacked Jack on the knee and said, "Take care of yourself." Then I leaned over and whispered, "And don't fuck up your back too much."


I climbed up into the turret on top of the Humvee and prepared Ma Deuce.


Things were going smoothly. I was just thinking of dropping back inside as we approached Abu Ghraib and then all hell broke loose!!!


The pills I got from Banzai really kicked my ass and I was damn near asleep when Banzai started firing Ma Deuce.


The driver shockingly demanded, "Hell how did he see the fucking towelheads before I did?"


I yelled over the sound of the fifty, "Hell, he practically has eyes in the back of his head. Give them hell Banzai!"


The driver stutters, "Wa… Wa… Wait! Are you telling me my gunner is Banzai Ben, even though I'm Army I've heard of his exploits."


The Captain laughed and tried to steal some of the glory for himself, "That's right and if you notice Sgt. Blaine and I were the first ones to see the tangos and his firing alerted the rest of the convoy."


The Captain was right about one thing, the convoy was fully awake and every vehicle that had a gun was kicking ass and taking names. But most of them didn't know what the fuck they were doing so they were holding down the triggers and spitting a solid stream of bullets every fucking where – what we called 'pray and spray' in the Marines (if you prayed hard enough and held down the trigger, you just might accidentally hit something with the spray of bullets). In contrast, Banzai would fire a quick burst of three to five rounds, hit his target and then take aim at the next target.


An RPG was headed toward the Humvee but amazingly the driver spun the wheel, the Humvee leapt to the left and the RPG passed harmlessly on the right hand side. It left the normal tell-tale smoke trail right back to the bastard who fired it and even with the juking of the Humvee, Banzai didn't miss. Ma Deuce cut the fucker in two.


Then it happened! There was a huge fucking explosion and one of the trucks in the convoy in front of us was destroyed. The driver yelled, "Shit that was an IED, I thought they had cleared this road."


With a truck down, the fucking towelheads began to run toward us like ants going after ice cream. Banzai dropped his head inside and ordered, "Get us close to the damaged truck so we can see if anyone is still alive."


The driver balked, began to complain and the Captain said, "Corporal, you received a direct order, now do it."


He floored the Humvee, we shot ahead, and put ourselves between the disabled truck and the advancing towelheads. Banzai was ripping them a new asshole with the fifty. I looked over and saw a driver as he tried to get out of the truck. I grabbed my rifle, and yelled, "I'm going after the driver, keep me covered."


I popped open the back door as the Captain popped open his door and ordered the driver, "Keep the Humvee moving but your ass is mine if you leave us here."


We both bailed out and ran toward the partially destroyed truck while Banzai laid down hellacious cover fire…


Damn the shit really hit the fan! We were surrounded on all sides by a huge number of the fucking towelheads. I saw them sneaking into position and opened up on them before anyone else saw them which caused all hell to break loose - it reminded me of the time I shot a hornet's nest with my shotgun when I was a kid. We were doing great until a fucking roadside bomb took out the semi vehicle two ahead of us. Between the semi on its side and the huge fucking blast crater in the road, they had stopped the convoy. We were sitting ducks!


Jack and Captain M bailed out to rescue the driver of the truck, our driver began to move but the stupid fucker was taking us away from the attacking towelheads. I banged like hell on the roof of the Humvee, stuck my head inside and ordered, "Where the hell are you going? I order you to attack the fuckers with this Humvee."


He spun the wheel in response and we headed right toward the approaching group of the towelheads while I began to rip them up with Ma Deuce. I saw a couple of the fuckers with RPGs and made sure to waste their asses. I stuck my head back inside and ordered, "Do some big fucking circles around the destroyed truck with the Humvee."


He began his turn and we no sooner got on the other side of the destroyed truck when I saw there were just as many towelhead here as on the other side. I stuck my head back inside and ordered, "Floor this fucker."


He did and the Humvee jumped over the bumps and dead towelheads which made aiming Ma Deuce hell. I laughed like crazy because this reminded me of that old TV show Rat Patrol. We held the fuckers at bay and finally a second Humvee showed up. They stopped, picked up the driver of the truck that Jack and Captain M freed so I banged on the roof, stuck my head inside and ordered, "Let's go pickup Jack and the Captain."


He headed back toward the destroyed truck and then they came out of the sky like avenging angels: Yes, the choppers finally arrived…


Flashback – Captain M – The trip to hell… Ramadi


Son of a bitch! Things went well until we almost reached Abu Ghraib then hell came calling our names! Sgt. Blaine saw the fuckers before I did and started ripping them a new asshole, which alerted the other vehicles and they all started firing – albeit ineffectively. Then it went from hell to something worse than hell when a semi was blown to shit in front of us effectively stopping the convoy. We were the closest Humvee, the driver was still alive so Sgt. Reynolds and I bailed out to try to save his ass. While we worked like hell to get him out of the destroyed semi, Sgt. Blaine kicked ass with the Humvee and kept the fuckers from getting too close to us. Oh they still got a few hits on our body armor, but shit that's what we're wearing it for.


We finally got the driver and the terp1 free then the Humvee came back for us and I couldn't wait to get back inside. I jumped into the passenger seat and watched as some gunships finally showed up and took out the rest of the towelheads. The gunships even put a hellfire into the semi to destroy what was left of it and its cargo.


1 terp – slang for interpreter. 


The convoy worked its way around the semi and the crater and we were rolling again.


The driver remarked, "Sir, I was shocked you got out of the Humvee to help that semi driver."


I glared at him and set him straight, "Corporal, I might be a Captain, but I am first a Marine and we never leave anyone behind." Then I asked, "So, is the rest of the trip going to be like this?"


The Corporal answered, "Probably so Sir! Once we're hit it usually continues all the way to Ramadi. However, with the gunships flying cover they might think twice about it."


I hoped what the Corporal said wasn't bullshit and the presence of the gunships would curtail any further towelhead activity…


Flashback – Jack and Ben – The trip to hell… Ramadi


With all the adrenaline coursing through my system when Captain fucking M and I were outside the Humvee helping the driver and the terp, my back felt pretty damn good. But now that I was back in the Humvee again the adrenaline was gone and it felt worse than ever.


I popped open my foot locker, found some of the meds for which Banzai had traded the Pappy Van Winkle, took one of them and put the small bottle in one of my pockets. I hated like hell to take this shit, but I knew if I didn't control the pain I couldn't do shit.


Banzai banged on the roof, stuck his head inside and ordered…


Things had calmed down some and I knew it was time to follow the old rule, 'reload when you have a chance, not when you have to.'


I banged on the roof of the Humvee, stuck my head inside and yelled, "Hey Jack grab a new box of ammo, I want to reload."


Then I saw the pain on Jack's face and wished like hell I had not said anything. I made a decision: I dropped inside the Humvee, scooted to the back, grabbed two cans of ammo myself and thought I was home free until the Captain bitched, "Sgt. Blaine why aren't you on the gun?"


I quickly made up a hell of a lie, "Sir! I needed a drink of water and thought I could kill two birds with one stone by getting the drink and the ammo myself because Sgt. Reynolds is still moving slowly from his back strain."


The Captain called my lie and questioned, "Couldn't you just sip some water from out of your camelback?"


I figured I was already in for a penny so I might as well go for the pound and I continued, "Yes Sir, I could if my camelback hadn't caught a round in the firefight." I secretly slipped my Ka-Bar out of its sheath and sliced open the back of my camelback. I turned just enough and added, "Sir! You can see that I'm soaking wet."


The Captain ordered, "Sgt. Reynolds give your camelback to Sgt. Blaine."


I countered, "Sir! Jack needs the water more than I do so please let him keep it."


The Captain waved his hand in dismissal and said, "Whatever Sgt. Blaine, just know you can't be coming back in here for a drink every few minutes."


I threw him a half assed salute (which was more than the fucker was worth) and headed back to the gun with the new can of ammo. Jack smiled at me on the way which made me feel good…


Shit! Once again Banzai saved my ass! My back hurt like a son of a bitch and the last thing I wanted to do was muscle a heavy assed can of fifty cal ammo, which weighed about 30 pounds, to Banzai. Hell, I could barely move as it was.


I smiled as I noticed Banzai took two cans of ammo with him. Well that should keep him busy for a while.


Then the Captain asked about me but I was sure he was only trying to yank my chain, "Sgt. Reynolds, how does your back feel?"


I replied with a lie, "Sir! It's just stiff and should be fine in a few days."


I detected the sarcasm in his voice as he replied, "I'm sure you're right Sgt. After all, the MRI didn't show any damage. By the way, why don't you hump a couple extra cans of ammo closer to Sgt. Blaine?"


Yeah, the fucker deserved to die for being such a dickhead! But the pill had already kicked in some, I felt better so I humped a couple cans of ammo below Banzai. He looked down, saw me and mouthed, "What the fuck!"


I mouthed back, "Fucking Captain M!"


I had no sooner gotten seated again when the driver announced, "Grab onto your asses, we're entering Fallujah. And if you thought Abu Ghraib was bad, Fallujah is twice as bad."


I set back down, tightened my seat belt and thought about Masha…


Unfortunately, we were headed into Fallujah, a place which was barely controlled by the coalition. I made sure Ma Deuce was ready and began to scan the rooftops and windows of the fucking buildings. Yeah it seemed like the fucking towelheads had learned, probably from us, that attacking from a high position was a superior tactic. Sure enough, I saw someone poke a weapon out of a window so I opened up on him!


Once again it only served to get all the fucking towelheads fired up and soon the Humvee was being peppered with rounds – hell, a few even bounced off my body armor. I was glad I put two ceramic plates in my armor carrier today because the outer plates were now gone.


The whole convoy floored it and we were flying through the streets like in the Fast and Furious video game. As I continued to sweep the roofs, windows and even the streets I wondered why the hell they didn't build a road around this fucking city.


Then there was an explosion and…


Flashback – Masha – child care


The doorbell rang, I looked at my watch and wondered where all the time went today. Louise was already back from work! Yes, Linda and I had an amazing day: She was such a good little girl and was very smart so I started teaching here some numbers and the alphabet. In English of course because I was not sure that Louise wanted Linda to be bilingual. I scooped up Linda, checked to make sure her diaper was clean and ran to the front door and told Linda, "Mama is here."


Linda got excited and began to coo and make other baby noises as we arrived at the front door. I checked to make sure it was Louise, opened the door, Louise walked in and asked, "Well how was your day?"


I smiled at Louise, handed Linda to her and replied, "Why don't I relate our adventures over dinner?"


Louise gave me a peculiar look and questioned, "Dinner? You took care of Linda all day and still had time to make dinner?"


I answered, "Of course I did and we also had a great lunch."


We sat down for dinner, I told her all about our day and Louise thanked me many times for the 'wonderful food'. I didn't have the heart to tell her it wasn't my best but knew I would do better tomorrow…


Flashback – Jennifer and Glen – trying to solve a huge problem


I was in pain, but it wasn't because Mother dang near killed me with ballet practice this morning - heck I only wished it was that! No my stomach hurt so badly I thought I was going to pass out. I made the mistake of taking that cup of coffee mother offered and it came with one of the medications she was giving us. I pooped until I couldn't poop anymore but it still felt like I needed to poop and I was having terrible cramps. The only good thing was I lost a bunch of weight from the many trips to the bathroom and mother was happy (for today at least) with my weight.


I decided to call Daddy, perhaps talking to him would make me feel better. He answered the phone and I complained, "Daddy, I am sooooo sick."


He replied, "Don't tell me she got you too? I have spent more time in the bathroom than working today."


I agreed, "Yes, the same thing happened to me and all I had was a cup of coffee."


Daddy swore, "Shit, no wonder I'm sick, I had two cups!"


I practically pleaded, "Daddy, do you think you could find us a housekeeper/cook soon, I'm not sure how much longer I can stand this."


Daddy promised, "Yes Jennifer I will, because we are both in the same boat."


I hung up the phone, mother came into my room and announced, "Jennifer, I need to go to the store, would you like to come?"


I didn't lie, "No mother I don't feel well so I plan on resting."


As soon as she left I renewed my effort to find the drugs she was using and…


Flashback – Alexi – At the laboratory


I had a great day without Chow Mein's continual interference and worked most of the day on Geometry. I was trying to develop a theorem for trisecting an angle: So far it worked on less than obtuse angles, but once the angle became obtuse my theorem fell apart. In addition, two of the steps required axioms or theorems which hadn't been proven yet.


I finally grew tired of this tedious work and went back to working on the cryptex, another solution which had continued to elude me.


I was surprised and dropped the cryptex when Chow Mein emitted a terrible yowl and then what sounded like an explosion of flatulence originated from her litter box. The toxic stench of the flatulence quickly filled my small room! It was so potent I could barely breathe. Then she jumped out of the litter box and ran towards me while trailing wet, dripping feces behind her.


I dashed to the door, banged and yelled, "Help me! Chow Mein is sick again!"


The orderlies took much too long to open the door. When they finally succeeded in their endeavor I dashed out of my room with Chow Mein closely following."


The orderlies swore, "What the hell is that smell?"


I replied, "As I told you Chow Mein is sick. She fell asleep in her litter box, and the next thing I knew she had explosive diarrhea."


The orderlies lunged for Chow Mein but she quickly escaped them and began to dash through the laboratory leaving a wet and nasty trail of feces behind her...


Flashback – Ira and Mira – back in Kazakhstan


I occulated my sister Mira and announced, "I tire of riding in this pullet wagon. It greatly offends my nether regions!"


Mira questioned, "Ira, what are your plans?"


I answered, "Will you shelter my posterior?"


Mira smiled and replied, "Always, just as you have provided like protection."


I climbed over the rail of the pullet wagon and applied my digital extremities to the lever of the portal designed to assist the operator to enter the occupant area of the pullet wagon. Whereupon I launched myself through the firmament and the window of the pullet wagon. My feet resoundingly connected with the operator's head which immediately rendered him incapacitated. I notate that my sister Mira had followed my plan and the passenger was also rendered incapacitated.


Then I realized the one great flaw in my plan as the pullet conveyance careened out of control! My sister Mira ordered, "Ira, we must depart this pullet wagon before it traverses off the cliff.


We both scrambled out of the occupant area of the pullet wagon and viewed the conveyance as it flew over the cliff and into the ether.


Mira smiled at me and stated, "Ira, we need to recover the accoutrements of the pullet wagon occupants."


I concur, "Yes, they will be extremely bulky on us, but will be superior to the scraps of cloth which Kostia forced upon us. In addition we might possibly find some expediently acquired field weapons."


We began to work our way toward the destroyed pullet wagon…


Flashback – Todd – On the mission


I followed the GPS until I was close to the coordinates for the mission, but something didn't feel right to me. Call it intuition or call it experience, but I had a feeling I was heading into a trap. So I began my descent ensuring that my drop point would be many klicks short of the planned landing zone.


I flared the chute, landed safely and then began to conceal the chute. Once it was well hidden, I began to move toward the planned landing zone on foot…