23 Wounded

Wounded Chapter 23


Flashback Linus – Kabul Afghanistan


How in the fuck did Ben put up with Natasha! She and her damn dog had been hell on me all morning. With the computer, all the fighting bullshit and a sore ass, I've had a foul mood since I got into the Suzuki.


Natasha looked over at me and asked, "What's wrong Linus?"


I barked back at her, "You know what the hell is wrong." Her damn dog didn't like my answer and growled at me from the back.


Natasha continued, "Come on Linus, don't tell me you're pissed off at me about the computer."


I took a deep breath and replied, "Natasha, it's that, and your dog and the fight we had in front of Matt and Jim. How in the hell do you expect me to be the second when you won't follow my orders?"


She was quiet for a bit and then said, "You're right. I was totally out of place. I know you should kick me off this mission for what I did, but I hope you give me one more chance."


It was my turn to be quiet as I weighed the pros and the cons of having her on the mission and finally I answered her, "Natasha, for right now you're more an asset to this mission than a liability, especially since we aren't going to have my two additional men. But if you or your damn (I'm interrupted by a growl from the back) I mean if you or Sharik fuck up again you're both off the mission."


I could hear a little sniffle from under the hood of her burka, "Linus, thanks for one more chance. I promise we will both be better. I don't know what I would do if you kicked me off the team." Sharik barked once in what I thought was agreement, but then he barked a bunch more. I looked in the rear view mirrors and noticed we'd picked up a tail.


Natasha said, "Yeah Linus, Sharik told me we have a tail behind us. What are your plans, Sir?"


At first I thought she was being a bitch again when she called me Sir, then I realized she did it to let me know I was in command. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do yet so I distracted her, "Don't tell me you speak dog?"


She said, "Linus, I may act like a bitch! But that doesn't mean I am a bitch and I sure as hell can't speak bitch. I don't know how I understood Sharik's bark, I just did."


I looked in the mirror and a second HumVee fell in behind the first. "Natasha, I think we're going to be in some sort of squeeze play here soon. Is the fifty ready?"


She replied, "I loaded it with AP rounds. Just tell me when and I'll hump it to the mount."


I looked closer and said, "Shit Natasha, the lead HumVee is fucking Blackwater and the second HumVee is the Marines."


She totally shocked me with what she did next.


Flashback Natasha (Jens) – Kabul Afghanistan


I watched the HumVees behind us in my side mirror and it was comical as hell. The Marines tried to pass the Blackwater HumVee and Blackwater HumVee blocked the Marine HumVee. It reminded me of watching a NASCAR race. They didn't chase us very hard, so I bet they weren't sure it was me in the cute little Zuk. That was about to end!


I stood up in my seat, turned towards them and rested my butt against the windshield. Then I yanked off my burka hood, threw it on the floor and let the wind blow my hair. I smiled real big and waved at the HumVees. That got their attention and they floored it. I spun around, bent over, pulled up my burka, dropped my pants and mooned the hell out of them. Linus almost wrecked the cute little Zuk and I yelled, "Linus, keep your fricken eyes off my ass and on the road!"


He responded, "What the hell did you do that for?"


I replied, "I have a plan - you just drive the Zuk like you stole it or I will take over."


He floored it and now we were flying. I humped the fifty onto the mount, opened up and sprayed the road in front of the lead HumVee. As the fifty barked out its rounds, Sharik added moral support as he barked too. The two of us made a hell of a lot of noise. I watched for the Marines to try a pass and they finally were getting around. I fired to the right of the Blackwater HumVee. It dodged to the left to avoid my rounds, ran right into the side of the Marine HumVee, they got tangled up and both ran into a building.


I yelled, "Mess with the best, die like the rest." Sharik added a few more barks.


I sat back down and put on my burka hood. Linus turned down a narrow alley and we escaped one more time.


Linus said, "Natasha you come up with some of the craziest plans, but somehow they always seem to work. I just wish you'd tell me what you were going to do before you do it."


I answered, "Sorry Linus, sometimes there isn't enough time to argue with you about my plans. I would like to know, if I had told you what I planned to do, would you have let me do it?"


He thought for a couple seconds and said. "No, I don't think I would have."


I answered immediately, "Did my plan work?"


Linus reluctantly answered, "Yeah, it worked this time. But someday one of your hair-brained plans is going to backfire."


Sharik barked once, I looked back at him and said, "Hey I thought you were on my side."


Linus laughed and got quiet - almost like he was day dreaming…


Flashback Thom – TSIFFTS Mission


Son of a bitch! This mission sure went to hell in a hand basket. I hated pulling the guys back out of the compound, but this was one time that if I pushed the issue it was going to get someone killed or caught. And if we got caught it was the same as death.


I anxiously waited for Linus, Hammer, Byron and Todd to get back to the trailer. Finally Linus and Hammer flew into the trailer. They were so fucking noisy it surprised the hell out of me and I thought we were being breached.


Linus said, "Shit Thom! Put your pistol away before you shoot us."


I barked, "You two make more noise than any two people I know. Shit! It’s no wonder the dogs heard you."


Hammer asked Linus, "Wa ur Thom's panties in sic' a boorichie?"


          "Why are Thom's panties in such a bunch?"


I got pissed and added, "Linus tell your friend he's the one with the dress so I'm sure he also wears the panties around here. I bet they're even thongs."


Hammer lunged for me but Linus grabbed him. Hammer said, "Ah shoods knock ye aris ower teakettle again. Ye mealy moothed olde rockit."


          "I should knock you ass over teakettle again. You mealy mouthed old fool."


I looked at him and said, "I may be old - but just remember: Old age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill."


Hammer said, "Weel if olde age is a requirement 'en yeh certainly hae 'at covered."


"Well if old age is a requirement then you certainly have that covered."


I continued with, "Keep talking that way and you won't live to see your old age." I watched and kept them distracted as Todd slipped in behind the two of them, they didn't even hear him. This was going to be good. He slipped up close to both of them and I knew what was coming. He tapped both of them on the shoulders and it seemed like they jumped up about ten feet. They spun but it was already too late. Todd had moved - shit he was fast!


I laughed so hard I almost busted my gut. Linus turned around and accused, "Shit Thom, you had all that planned didn't you!"


It took a couple minutes, but I finally stopped laughing and answered, "Not all of it, but enough of it to teach a couple young pups where their proper place is."


Hammer said, "Jist min': Revenge is a dish best served braw."


"Just remember: Revenge is a dish best served cold."


I turned and walked back to the main camera console and taunted, "And it'll be a very cold day in hell when you two figure out a way to get revenge on me."


I planned to say more, but Jim interrupted, "Hey you guys need to see this, something's going on in the compound."


We ran over to the consoles and I checked the cameras. Things looked all fucked up in the compound. I asked, "Where the hell is Byron? He should be here by now."


Flashback Byron – TSIFFTS Mission


I was just getting ready to head back to the trailer, when all hell broke loose. The roving guards found the four dogs Todd tranquilized and sounded the alarm. The whole compound came to life and lit up like a Christmas tree.


There was no way in hell I was going to get out of here now, not until things calmed down again. I released the four dogs I'd made friends with and climbed back up in the tree. Then I tried to call Mothership, but the radio was jammed. I heard dogs out searching, but they didn't worry me because I've always had a way with dogs. I could tell from all the noise there were probably fifty guards out. I double checked my weapons just in case I needed to fight my way out of this one and then got as comfortable in the tree as I could. Nothing to do now but wait - sooner or later they had to relax and then I could escape.


Flashback Thom – TSIFFTS Mission


Shit! Byron's not back and I don't think he will be coming back anytime soon. Not with the compound looking the way it does now. But Byron's one of the best and I'm sure he hasn't been caught.


Linus came over to me, "Thom, I want to go back in and rescue Byron."


Hammer came over with him and said, "Aam gonnae tay."


"I'm going too."


I looked at both of them and said, "Now who's got their panties in a bunch. No one is going anywhere right now. What we are going to do is our jobs. Get on the consoles and let's see first how we missed all the security this bastard has. Somehow our intel got fucked up on this - perhaps there was a leak. If so I want to find out about the SOB that leaked it. Then let's see if there is any way we can give Byron some support."


Linus jumped on the computers and said, "I'm going to see if I can hack into this SOBs security system and fuck with it some."


Jim said, "I'll keep monitoring the cameras."


Hammer said, "Aam gonnae make sure aw th' weapons ur ready in case we hae tae gang in fur a rescue."


"I'm going to make sure all the weapons are ready in case we have to go in for a rescue."


Todd came over to me and signed. I said, "Todd you can't do that right now." He signed a bunch more and I said, "Well, have it your fucking way. If anyone can do it, you're the only one. Just don't fuck it up."


He walked over to the weapons cabinet, pulled out some more weapons, slipped out of the trailer and into the night.


Linus yelled, "Hey where's he going?"


I replied, "He's heading back to the perimeter to assess the situation better. If there is an opening he's going back in for Byron."


Linus came over and got in my face and said, "You'd better not have sent him in to eliminate Byron."


I looked Linus in the eyes and coldly replied, "Listen, squid! I have no plans of letting Byron die on this mission and even fewer plans of having him eliminated. You know what a sneaky SOB Todd is. He's the only one of us that has a chance of getting in to help Byron. So get your ass back on those computers and do your job."


He grumbled as he headed back to the computers.


Flashback Todd – TSIFFTS Mission


I had a hell of a fight with Thom and told him I was either going back in to help Byron or I was going to quit the group. It's my fault Byron was where he was now because I didn't wait for him. I wanted to get back to the trailer and give Linus and Hammer shit about being too noisy. I'd fucked up this time but I wasn't going to let Byron pay for my mistakes.


Thom told me I was going on a suicide mission. If it ends up being suicide, that's fine with me. I've been ready to die since I was in the accident that took my voice. Shit I should have died on that mission.


If I could laugh, I would laugh at the name the rest of the team gave me: SBD (Silent But Deadly). Even Thom, as good as he was from all his jungle skills in Vietnam, was still no match for me. I would need all those skills if I was going to rescue Byron. I made it to the perimeter wall and wished I could shout out curses. Someone had really fucked up this time because all the intelligence on this place was wrong. I noticed there was now an IR beam across the top of the wall plus the place had more lights than a runway at an airport.


I tried my radio, but it didn't work. Just as I figured, they are jamming everything right now. Suddenly, the lights went off and it took about thirty seconds for them to come back on. Then they flickered briefly again. There were subtle differences in the lights and I figured out they were running on a backup generator and then switched back over to main power. I grinned as I was sure that Linus has something to do with this. No more surprises for me, if he does it again I will be ready.


Flashback Matt and Jim – Kabul Afghanistan


We had a hell of a surprise when we looked in the back of the truck we'd just traded for the Beemer. As I closed the back of the truck, Jim said, "Matt, we've fucked up big time now. What the hell are we going to do with all the shit in the back of this truck?" I was just getting ready to answer when a very expensive looking Mercedes drove up.


The passenger in the back rolled down the window and yelled at us. I noticed Jim fingered a grenade but I warned, "Not now Jim, we both know who this bastard is and for what he's done he's going to pay. But the dumb fuck thinks we're his drivers. Let's pretend we're with this asshole before we blow him to hell."


I yelled back to the Mercedes, "Sorry we were just switching drivers."


We jumped in the truck and followed the Mercedes.


I called Linus and informed him of the situation and told him we'd be late to the rendezvous site. He approved our change in plans.


Jim said, "Shit Matt I want to kill the bastard now."


I said, "Jim, we need to be patient. You know as well as I do he has too many friends traveling with the convoy. With what we're carrying he has to be headed to either a storage location or better transportation. To do that, he will have to separate his car from the convoy. Once he does his ass is ours!"


We followed the Mercedes for what seemed to be an eternity. Jim was fidgety as hell.


This wasn't like Jim since he was normally more composed. I questioned him, "Jim what the hell has you so upset?"


Jim spat back, "That bastard does. The more I think about what he's done and how many people he's done it too. The more I get pissed off."


I smiled and replied, "Yeah, but that's going to end today."


Finally the Mercedes turned off on a side road. I tried to figure out the best way to get him to stop when Jim said, "We should run that fucker off the road."


I glanced at him and replied, "Jim sometimes you come up with the best ideas. Hang onto something." I stabbed the clutch, downshifted, floored the truck and rammed the ass end of the Mercedes. It swerved, but the driver still controlled it and pulled onto the side of the road.


I drove up beside the Mercedes. The bastard rolled down the back window again and was giving us hell. "You worthless scum sucking assholes look what you did to my Mercedes. You're going to have to pay for it."


Jim yelled back, "Eat shit and burn in hell you drug dealing bastard."


Jim threw two grenades into the back of the Mercedes. It and Ex-General Stockman were toast. Jim said, "It's a shame to waste two perfectly good grenades on a worthless piece of shit like that."


I looked over at Jim, "I think I know what to do with our cargo. Follow me." We jumped out of the truck and headed to the back. I opened it up and we started throwing the packages of heroin into the burning Mercedes.


Jim threw the last package in and said, "That bastard died too easy a death. We should have captured him and given him to Jens."


Flashback Natasha (Jens) – Kabul Afghanistan


Linus just had a strange conversation with Matt. When he hung up the phone I asked, "Linus what the hell is going on?"


He glanced at me and answered, "Natasha, for right now I can't tell you because it would affect our primary mission. Just know it's something good and you're going to love it."


I started to get bitchy with Linus and Sharik growled at me. I looked back at him and said, "Why in the hell are you growling at me?"


Linus laughed, "I think he's trying to tell you not to get bitchy with me or I will throw you both off the mission."


Sharik barked, I looked at him and said, "I knew I should have left you outside."


He whined and then nuzzled my neck, it tickled and I giggled, "Okay my dog prince, you're forgiven this time. Just don't let it happen again."


We finally saw a car dealership and I said, "Linus this looks like the place. Pull in and we'll see what we can do. You do remember the plan?"


He gave me a dirty look and said, "Hell yes I remember the plan. You think you still remember how to act pregnant?"


I patted my fake belly and said, "Don't worry. I still remember how to be a bitch. Let's find a good car this time. I want one that doesn't waddle like I do when I wear this fricken belly." We pulled up and parked by the office. I looked around and said, "Linus I want that silver car over there."


Linus replied, "Okay give me a few minutes and I will be right back."


I did my fat pregnant cow act as I got out of the Suzuki. Sharik jumped out beside me and let out a woof. I looked down at him and said, "Shhh, I'm fine. I'm just acting. Now remember your part." He sat beside me, and wagged his tail. I reached down and scratched his head.


Several minutes later Linus came back with a salesman. Sharik stood up, raised the hair on his back, growled and snapped at the salesman. He acted exactly as if he was rabid. His act was so good it almost frightened me.


Linus said to the salesman, "Wait here while I talk with the very pregnant wife of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. If you come any closer, I will not be responsible for anything her attack dog does to you."


Linus walked over and grinned at me as Sharik peeked around Linus and continued with his part in this play. Linus quietly said, "Damn Natasha, that salesman is so scared he almost pissed himself. This plan is working great, are you ready for part two?"


I replied, "Linus, Sharik and I love it when a plan comes together and we were born ready."


Flashback Linus – TSIFFTS Mission


I planned to destroy the fucking security system at the compound, like I'd done before. I hacked into the power grid of the compound and gave it hell but the bastard had a backup generator and it kicked on before I could really damage anything.


If I just killed the power, the generator came online almost immediately, so I had to be more subtle. I found if I took the voltage close to a brownout and then had it fluctuate, the generator couldn't handle the quick changes and I could shut down things in the compound for at least one minute. I hoped it was enough time for Todd.


Thom came over and said, "Damn Linus, can't you do more than you're already doing?"


I barked back, "Shit Thom they have a generator and I'm doing all that I can do. If you think you can do better give it a try. What sort of plan did you work out with Todd?"


Thom answered, "I don't have any plan this time. Other than the support we are giving them, they are on their own."


Flashback Todd – TSIFFTS Mission


I had my plan and just waited for Linus again. I didn't have to wait long, the lights went off, I checked for the IR beam at the top of the fence, it was gone and I silently slipped over the wall. Fifteen seconds later the lights came back on; they were a little softer so they must be on a generator. But it was enough light to let me see the silhouettes of the guards just fine.


I was pissed off by my mistakes and planned on making someone pay. That someone was going to be any guards, dogs or anyone else that got in my way. I slipped an arrow out of my quiver, notched it in my bow, took aim and the closest guard was now history.


I slipped up to the guard and recovered my arrow, then stuffed him under a bush and moved towards Byron's last known position using the trees and bushes as my natural ghillie suit. The lights flickered again and were brighter this time - they must be back on the mains. It was hell patiently waiting for the Linus to fuck with the lights again, but it was imperative to be patient. Just like clockwork, the lights went off again and I jumped up and ran. Two more guards fell under my arrows but for some reason there didn't seem to be any dogs in this area. And where the hell did all the rest of the guards go?


Once again I had to wait while Linus did his dirty work. I wish he could have made the blackouts last longer. I got a different wish but then wished I didn’t know. My radio worked for the first time since I left the trailer and I heard, "SBD this is Mothership. Be aware our position has been compromised and we might have to bug out."


I clicked my mic once and hoped they received my affirmation.


Flashback Thom – TSIFFTS Mission


All hell was getting ready to break loose. Jim announced, "Thom the bastard has somehow figured out where we are and it looks like they are sending some guys our way."


I looked at my men and ordered, "Okay guys, time for scoot and shoot. You all know your jobs so let's get moving."


Linus argued, "What about Byron and Todd?"


I replied, "If we all get caught it won't matter about them. Now move your asses."


Jim started tearing things down and prepared to move. Linus, Hammer and I geared up for the upcoming war. I looked at Jim and said, "Get this rig to safety and then see if you can get back online and help us."


Linus added, "Jim, I left all the commands to fuck with the bastard's power stored in the computer. Just execute them and they should work."


He looked at me and said, "Thom, I also fucked up all the police radio channels in the area so we should have some time to take out the trash." I smiled at him and realized how lucky we were to have him on the team.


The three of us bailed out the back, blended into the shadows and watched as Mothership took off like a bat out of hell. Linus said, "Shit Jim can really make her move when he has to."


I answered, "Yeah, but if we don't stop these guys they'll still be able to catch him. We can't let that happen or he will have to destroy Mothership. Linus, you're the best long range shooter we have since Byron's not here, get setup with that Sako and take out their trucks when you see them. Hammer, flank us to the left and get ready to lay down cover fire."


I watched as they moved into position, now all we had to do was wait and I hated waiting.


Flashback Linus – TSIFFTS Mission


I ran about five hundred meters to the right, dropped to the ground and setup the Sako. I wished it was Byron's Barrett in .50 BMG, but I know better than to fuck with a Marine's rifle. It wouldn't matter that we were saving his life - he'd still try to kick my butt. Byron and that rifle had a strange and wonderful relationship: He was strange and the rifle was wonderful. Come to think of it that's the same relationship every Marine I ever met had with his rifle.


That's okay the Sako was .338 Lapua and I could still reach out and touch them easily at 1500 meters. I'm sure they didn't have anything close to this so it would buy Thom and Hammer some breathing room. I pulled three extra mags out of my pack and set them on the ground beside the rifle. Then I fired up the NV scope and prepared myself for the coming firefight.


It didn't take long until I saw the lead truck. Shit! These guys were serious since they sent three trucks. It looked like deuce and a halfs were after us. And they even had machine gun mounts on the top with what looked like fifties. Son of a bitch! So much for hoping to stay out of their range.


At 1600 meters I adjusted the mil dot holdover on the engine compartment of the lead truck and started firing. Nothing happened until the third shot. Then Fuck me! I missed the engine but must have been lucky and hit the driver because the truck careened all over the place, went off the road and rolled over.


These guys were good and figured out where I was and opened up with the fifties, but trying to hit a man on the ground at 1500 meters from a moving truck is a lot harder than shooting the shit out of a big assed truck. And there was no way in hell I was leaving my post until the two remaining trucks were disabled. I must have ranged the other two trucks better because I was able to take out the engines on both of them. I watched them roll to a stop and I was just getting ready to change positions because the truck gunners were getting too damn close to me.


Then I saw a man start running towards the first disabled truck and damn near shot him until I saw he was wearing a kilt!!! Slap me silly! The crazy-assed SOB Hammer was attacking the trucks.


Flashback Hammer – TSIFFTS Mission


Eh'd bin workin' mah way up th' road whaur th' bastards waur comin' frae. Ah kent Thom wooldnae fancy it, but Ah cooldnae jist sit an' bide fur em tae come tae me.


I'd been working my way up the road where the bastards were coming from. I knew Thom wouldn't like it, but I couldn't just sit and wait for them to come to me.


Linus shot th' heel it ay th' thee trucks an' Ah guess th' excitement ay th' moment caught up tae me an' Ah decided tae gang oan th' offensife. Ah guess it main jist be sumfink in mah scottish bluid, but when aam in a battle aw Ah can dae is hink abit winnin'. Ah didne ken hoo mony ay th' bastards thaur waur, but Ah figured em against a body scotsman woods be a fair barnie.


Linus shot the hell out of the three trucks and I guess the excitement of the moment caught up to me and I decided to go on the offensive. I guess it must just be something in my Scottish blood, but when I'm in a battle all I can do is think about winning. I didn't know how many of the bastards there were, but I figured them against one Scotsman would be a fair fight.


Th' bludy bastards waur jumpin' it ay th' back ay th' lorrie lik ants swarmin' it ay an anthill. they waur aw distracted by Linus an' didne see me, sae when Ah cam close dooze Ah started throwin' grenades at th' bastards.


The bloody bastards were jumping out of the back of the truck like ants swarming out of an anthill. They were all distracted by Linus and didn't see me, so when I came close enough I started throwing grenades at the bastards.


Ah ran pest th' lorries, foond cowre an' yelled, "freedom!"


I ran past the trucks, found cover and yelled, "Freedom!"


Flashback Thom – TSIFFTS Mission


Son of a bitch, Linus was doing his job great, but that crazy son-of-a-bitch kilted bastard was attacking the trucks. Who the hell did he think he was William Wallace1?


1Sir William Wallace (Scottish Gaelic: Uilleam Uallas; 1272 – 23 August 1305) was a Scottish knight and landowner who is known for leading a resistance during the Wars of Scottish Independence and is today remembered in Scotland as a patriot and national hero.


This wasn't our plan at all. I swore that if I lived through this developing cluster-fuck, I was going to kick his ass so hard he'd have to wear pants to cover the bruises. I jumped up and ran towards the disabled trucks. I was still hearing rounds come from behind me and I knew Linus was giving them hell with his Sako, at least he had the sense to follow orders.


I watched as the closest truck exploded, for a second I was disoriented from the flash. Rounds started dancing around my feet so I dove and rolled and hoped they'd keep missing me. But luck wasn't on my side tonight and I felt the familiar sting of a round hitting my arm. I heard and felt several more explosions as I rolled towards a depression in the ground - the only cover I could see. The rounds were still bouncing around the depression… once again, up shit creek without a paddle.


Flashback Glen – Kabul Afghanistan


I'd been waiting in the com tent when a call came in from one of my scouts. They'd spotted Jennifer in a little red Suzuki Samurai. While they were chasing her, they had an accident with one of Copeland's damn Blackwater HumVees and Jennifer escaped.


I picked up the phone and called Aaron, he answered and I said, "Aaron you stupid bastard, your men caused us to lose Jennifer again."


He said, "Glen, cut the crap, it was your men that tried to pass our HumVee and ran into us."


I barked, "Aaron, as of right now I am ordering all Blackwater personnel off all the military bases. Then I'm calling DC and having Blackwater recalled from Afghanistan."


The phone was silent for a minute and Aaron said, "Listen Glen, all I'm interested in is the money for completing this contract. How about we agree to work together on this?"


I thought about it and it made sense, with more men searching for Jennifer we had a better chance of finding her. I replied, "Aaron, you have a deal on this as long as you understand Jennifer is not to be hurt in any way when she's captured."


He answered, "Glen the person who hired us would kill me if she was injured so you have a deal."


He hung up the phone and I gave orders for them to look for Jennifer in a red Suzuki Samurai. And wondered who the hell had hired Blackwater.


Flashback Liz – Kabul Afghanistan


We were watching someone else's news report on the Taliban leaving Kabul and I was pissed off! "Shit Bernie, this is one of the biggest stories in the world. We should be covering this and instead we're sitting on our asses in this hotel. Let's move."


Bernie jumped up and we started heading towards our bedrooms, when all hell broke loose. The smoke alarm went off in the kitchen and I yelled, "Crap, I forgot about the blini on the stove and it's burning." I ran into the kitchen and the pan was a huge smoking mess. I grabbed a potholder and threw the pan in the sink and ran water on it. Then my fucking phone began to ring!


Flashback Dariush – Kabul Afghanistan


The Black Angels totally changed things in Kabul by chasing the Taliban out of town like whipped dogs. But I still had my connections and I had some information which Ms. Morgan might be interested in.


I wondered if her mobile phone still worked, so I dialed her number and waited. She answered on the third ring, "This is Liz Morgan, who are you and what the hell do you want?"


I was shocked because Ms. Morgan was so upset and I thought she was upset about my failure to protect her. I said, "Ms. Morgan it is so very good to hear your voice again. I am very sorry for all that happened to you while you were under my protection."


She laughed and replied, "Dariush! I was so worried about you! We couldn't find you when we left your beautiful but destroyed Mercedes. Do you have any idea what happened?"


She wasn't upset at me and she was worried about me? I had decided to tell her the whole truth and replied, "Ms. Morgan I have heard from very reliable sources that General Donaldson informed Commander Copeland that you were in my Mercedes and they set an ambush for us."


I heard her take a deep breath and then she said, "That fat fucker Donaldson and shithead Copeland are going to pay for this! But what happened to all the Blackwater men?"


I wasn't sure how to tell her what I knew without her thinking I was totally crazy. So I said, "I think we were rescued by some Angels. Where are you now Ms. Morgan?"


She questioned, "Dariush, I thought it was you who arranged all this for us?"


I answered, "Oh no Ms. Morgan. I am very powerful, but the ones who did this for you are even more powerful than I am. And I am not even worthy to kiss their lovely feet."


She replied, "Well Dariush, the note said I should not tell anyone where we are staying but it also said I could safely go anywhere in Afghanistan."


I quickly replied, "Yes Ms. Morgan I was told the same thing by the ones protecting you and they are right. You are now totally safe."


She laughed again and answered, "Well Dariush, I'm not sure when we will see each other again. And this has been the strangest phone conversation I have ever had with you. Thank you, for everything and TTFN2."


2 Ta Ta For Now


Flashback Liz – Kabul Afghanistan


After a very profitable conversation with Dariush, I hung up the phone and stood in the kitchen, tapped my foot on the floor and thought. Bernie interrupted my thoughts when he said, "Liz who was that and what are you thinking about?"


I turned and smiled at him, "It was Dariush and he gave me some very important information. Bernie we have a change in plans: You make us some breakfast while I change because we have some news to tell the world."


I ran into my bedroom and put on a pair of my tightest BDUs. Then I did my makeup just perfect since I wanted to look my best because I was going to rock the world. I came back out and good old Bernie had breakfast ready. He took one look at me and said, "Damn! It's a good thing you look so hot because you can't cook worth hell."


I laughed, stuck out my tongue at him and sassed, "That's right! A man's place is in the kitchen." Then I dug in and the food was great. We both finished as I said, "Let me go fix my lipstick, you get the camera setup."


I recorded my report, Bernie killed the camera and I said, "Send it off to the network with all the other video and tell them to get it on the air ASAP."


He gave me a look and said, "Typical woman, gets what she wants from a man and then just bosses him around."


I smiled and said, "Well, this 'typical woman' is going to go in the kitchen and clean up the mess a typical man made."


He chuckled as I headed into the kitchen.


Flashback Linus – Kabul Afghanistan


I almost chuckled because so far Natasha's plan worked perfectly. She went to the back of the Suzuki, picked up her bag and did a few other things and we walked towards the silver Mercedes AMG Natasha picked out. Sharik still growled and snapped at the salesman who was in front of us. I'm sure the only thing that kept the bastard from running was greed, he was thinking about the commission from this sale.


Natasha and Sharik got in the back, and Sharik took a serious nip at the salesman when he got into the front passenger seat. Natasha scolded the hell out of Sharik and he whimpered and lay down on the seat. I caught her eyes in the rear view mirror and she nodded her head.


I drove us out of the lot and the salesman finally grew some balls. "You will find this car is in excellent condition and has a very reasonable price."


I replied, "When was the last time the engine was serviced?"


He sputtered and said, "I am not sure I will have to check the records at the office. I am sure it was recent because we take very good care of our cars."


I could tell he was lying and knew we'd probably have to get it serviced soon. I watched as Natasha pulled her pistol and put it up against the salesman head and said…


Flashback Natasha (Jens)  – Kabul Afghanistan


I put the barrel of my pistol against the back of the stupid salesman's head and said, "It would be such a shame to ruin this fine car with your brains and blood."


He started to complain so I smacked him on top of the head with the blackjack which was in my other hand. He immediately slumped forward as Linus pulled to the side of the road. He reached over, opened the door and pushed the unconscious salesman out into the street. We let the door slam closed as we drove away.


I started getting out of my fricken fake pregnancy belly and my fat burka and said, "Who was it that said a fool is born every moment?"


Sharik barked and I giggled, "No my dog prince you are sooooo smart but it wasn't you." He whimpered a little and I said, "Yes, I'm sorry I scolded you, you're such a good dog." He put his head in my lap and I patted his head.


Linus said, "The quote goes a fool is born every minute and they don't die fast enough. But no one knows who said it first."


Sharik barked again and I laughed, "Okay my dog prince I guess I will believe it was you. But you wouldn't be lying to me would you?"


He put his paws over his head and whined, I laughed and said, "Okay I will forgive you this time, but don't lie to me again."


Flashback Linus – Kabul Afghanistan


Well Natasha and Sharik were sure entertaining. I laughed so hard I almost wrecked and Natasha yelled, "Hey if you can't drive this car I'll be glad to take over." Sharik added a bark.


I remembered the last time I let her drive and said, "No, I'm doing fine I was just distracted by the comedy show in the back." Sharik growled and Natasha said, "I think you were just trying to get another look at my body."


With all seriousness I said, "Jens, you're like a little sister to me. Don't get upset, but the thought of seeing you naked is repulsive to me."


I heard a little sniffle and she replied, "Linus that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me. But don't call me Jens again until the mission is over."


Then the damn dog licked me on the side of the neck and I almost wrecked the car again. I yelled, "Hey keep that damn dog under control." Which was the wrong thing to say because then Sharik growled and Natasha growled, "Linus, what did I say about calling Sharik bad names. You need to apologize to him again."


I capitulated and said, "Sorry Natasha and sorry Sharik. Just don't surprise me again like that. We're almost to the airport, are you two ready?"


Natasha replied, "Like I said before, Sharik and I were born ready." Sharik added a bark.


I pulled into the parking lot, found a good parking place and the three of us got out of the car.


Flashback Jack – Kabul Afghanistan


I sure hated leaving Masha and hated being back over here even more. But Jens, I mean Natasha really needed me. I was still cursing General Donaldson for leaving Banzai to rot. We needed to get him the hell out of there! I vehemently refused to wear a man dress, so they let me appear to be a businessman, but wearing a suit was only one step up from wearing a man dress. For once the plane landed early but I didn't see Natasha anywhere so I pulled up a chair with my back against the wall, scanned for her to come into the terminal and started coming up with some possible rescue scenarios.


Everything seemed normal until I noticed a single woman in a burka enter the terminal. This wasn't the norm so I watched her. I saw Linus about ten feet behind her and I knew it had to be Natasha. I watched them and figured out Linus was giving her some sort of test and decided to have some fun.


I slipped out of my seat and worked my way around behind them. I was almost up to Linus when Natasha turned around and I felt something nip at my butt. I jumped about ten feet, turned around and it was a damn dog. He sat on the floor, cocked his head and wagged his tail at me. I turned back around and Linus and Natasha stood in front of me and Linus said to Natasha, "Well Natasha, it looks like you failed the test."


She whispered back, "Like hell I did. I had him fooled it was you who blew my cover."


I said, "Natasha entered the terminal by herself, which is what made me suspicious. But I didn't know it was her until I saw Linus. I would say you both failed the test."


The dog softly woofed, Natasha softly laughed and said, "Sharik said he had our six so Jack you failed the test."


I looked at her like she was crazy and Linus said, "Jack, Natasha isn't crazy. She seems to be able to speak dog now. But we're starting to attract some attention so let's get out of here."


We started towards the exit and Natasha added, "Linus, I said I may be bitchy but I am not a bitch and I sure don't speak bitch. I just know exactly what my dog prince says to me."


I added as we walked out the door, "I wouldn't have known it was Natasha if she had been a good little muslim wife and followed her man. I would say your test was flawed and I am expecting better from both of you from now on."


The dog, oh yeah, Sharik barked and Natasha said, "Hey you don't have to scold me too."


It was then I really wondered what the hell I'd gotten myself into.


Flashback Natasha (Jens) – Kabul Afghanistan


I knew I'd made the right decision of who to let lead when Jack started going all Marine on us. I had studied the hell out of Jack, because he's responsible in many ways for making my Ben the man that he is. He is like a father, the father Ben never had but really deserved. And I knew if I was ever going to be Ben's spotter I'd have to be better than Jack. I worked hard and as a spotter I was Jack squared.


There was a time when Jack was younger that he was one of the Corps’ best snipers and I learned from that. I learned the best spotters are good snipers, snipers who don't let their egos get in the way. But on one of Jack’s missions, he came back alone. Something went terribly wrong and was so hidden away I was never able to discover anything about that mission. After that, Jack became a thorn in the side of the Marines and was constantly getting in trouble and getting busted.


And that mission haunted his Marine career - his skeleton in a locked closet. He had problems getting other spotters to work with him and had constant fights with them. Then came the inevitable "demotion" to spotter. Even then the up and coming young snipers weren't interested in an "old man." And if they were they would hear about Jack's past and he was often ignored.


Somehow, Ben missed all this information (or ignored it) and chose Jack as his spotter. And something unexpected and remarkable happened. Together they became one of the premier sniper teams in the Marines. They were the ones who were called on when no one else could do the job.


But with the risks also came the injuries to both of them. Then when Ben and Jack were both assigned to Moscow, Russia, as a punishment to Ben for a mission where he greatly exceeded his authority, Jack did the unthinkable. He met and fell in love with Maria or Masha as we all called her. So the Marines became a thorn in Jack's side again - a thorn he tolerated for a few more years, and then when he had enough he up and quit.


I couldn't have planned it any better, because I was finally ready to become Ben's spotter and had tried to figure out how to make it happen. The rest is old history.


Jack asked Linus a question and snapped me out of my flashback. "Do you have any intel about where Ben's being held?"


Linus replied, "Jack, that place is locked up tighter than the gold at Ft. Knox. I guess Ben took out a couple of muslim grand poobahs and pissed everyone off."


Jack chuckled and answered, "Damn he always did have a way of riling things up."


Then he turned, looked at me and said, "It's a good thing you weren't with him. I've seen what those bastards do to non-muslim women they capture and it's not a pretty sight. You're pretty enough you'd be the leaders sexual play toy until he got tired of you. Then he'd pass you down to his men until they got tired of you. After that would be a long-slow death."


I shuddered to even think about it and asked, "Jack do you know what they do to soldiers they capture."


He cocked his head and replied, "You're really asking me what they're doing to Banzai."


I nodded my head and he continued, "Natasha, if you're sure he's still alive then they must either want something from him or they think they can use him as leverage to get something from America."


I interrupted, "Jack I know he's still alive."


Linus added, "Jack I know this is crazy, but I believe Natasha. She says she can feel what they are doing to Ben."


Jack's eyes squinted at me and he said, "Is that true?"


I nodded my head and Jack asked, "So tell me what you've felt."


I described all the things I'd felt and my dreams to him. The more I told Jack the harder his face grew. When I was done he said, "Son of a bitch! If your feelings and dreams are right Banzai's in a real hellhole and we can't waste any time getting him out of there."


I sniffed and cried a little and Jack said, "Hey now don't you go crying. I'm here now and we're going to rescue our boy and kill the fuckers that are doing this shit to him."


I just started to feel better when Sharik barked like crazy and all hell broke loose.


Flashback Todd – TSIFFTS Mission


I had wondered why the roaming guards were all gone, now I know. They were all gone chasing Mothership. Shit Byron and I were on our own now! I hoped the rest of the guys are okay. I needed to find Byron and then it was time to finish this mission. I slowed as I neared the last location where Byron was. I heard a noise so I crouched and waited, finally I heard a whisper, "Todd, you may be a sneaky SOB but not sneaky enough so this Marine didn't hear you."


I stood up and walked under the tree as Byron dropped to the ground and gave me a big hug. He asked, "Where's the rest of the team?"


I signed they had to bug out and Byron whispered, "Son of a bitch. So it's just you and me?" I dropped my pack and pulled out a rifle and handed it to him, he said, "My Barrett! This will certainly even the odds some."


He picked up the pack and said, "Shit Todd, what else is in the pack?" He looked inside and said, "Damn, how did you carry all of this. It looks like hell's coming to breakfast."


I signed to him my plan, gave him all the mags for the Barrett and took off to get to my location. I found a good location, setup all the gear and waited. Yes hell was going to come to breakfast.


Flashback Byron – TSIFFTS Mission


Todd was one crazy SOB, but crazy like a fox. With the bastard chasing down Mothership and the guys, the compound was almost empty. We couldn’t have planned this better. I moved to high ground and set up the Barrett, now we just had to wait for dawn.


I heard a noise and saw one of my doggies so I whistled to him. He came right over, sat beside me and wagged his tail. I looked at him and said, "I don't know if you can understand me or not, but if you can you need to bring all your buddies over here by me." He cocked his head let out a little bark and took off. I smiled and hoped he'd bring all the rest of the doggies here. Killing men was one thing, but killing dogs, especially good dogs like these was criminal.


Sunrise was coming and I started to get ready when all the good doggies showed up. I took one look at them and I said, "You doggies need to wait behind me. This big gun makes a lot of noise and will hurt your ears." It shocked me when they all formed a line behind me. Perhaps I was a dog whisperer.


Flashback Linus – TSIFFTS Mission


I saw Thom go down and I could tell he'd been hit. My first instinct was to go after him, but my training told me to stay at my post. I redoubled my effort to take care of the mercenaries firing at him. Hammer's grenade assault destroyed all the trucks which took the fifties off-line. I couldn't believe we were in a fucking firefight in the middle of America. This country had gone even further to hell than I imagined. We would be so FUBARed if I hadn't disabled the police radios.


Yeah the mercs knew where I was, but they sure didn't have anything that could reach me. They'd gotten smarter and were either prone or hiding behind the smoking wrecks of their trucks. The sun was just rising and I was surprised when my tactical radio squawked, "Alpha team this is Mothership, over."


Flashback Jim – TSIFFTS Mission


I drove the hell out of Mothership and had put many miles under the wheels. Not as many as Thom wanted, but I was concerned about leaving the guys and wanted to find a safe place to setup. I saw a busy truck stop ahead which looked perfect; I pulled in, close to the main power and started setting up the truck.


I set up the truck in record time, fired up the electronics and started Linus's programs to work on the compound. Shit! For some reason the programs didn’t work. I pulled up the compound cameras and I understood immediately why!


I tried the radio and it was working, "Alpha one this is Mothership back online."


"Mothership, this is Alpha one give me a sit rep."


It was Thom and he didn't sound right, I replied, "Alpha one, have relocated and are back online. Something serious has happened at the compound. It is full of smoke and fire… Are you okay Alpha one?"


Thom replied, "Mothership be advised we are still engaged. I took a hit to my arm, but it's a TAT3, I've stopped the bleeding so I'm fine."


3 Through And Through – passed cleanly through the arm without hitting anything important.


The radio continued, "Alpha one this is Alpha two, do you need me to come up to your position." It was Linus.


Thom answered, "Negative Alpha two, remain at your post."


I called, "Alpha one do you need me to come back for extraction."


Thom replied, "Negative Mothership, it's still too hot here."


Flashback Hammer – TSIFFTS Mission

Bludy heel! mah foolishness got th' crusty olde blaw orf hurt. Ah needed tae dae sumfink afair th' whole team hated me. Eh'd bin pickin' em orf when Ah coods see em, but they waur still arsed by Linus an' didne ken Ah was haur. sae Ah jumped frae behin' th' cowre an' charged th' lorries.


Bloody hell! My foolishness got the crusty old fart hurt. I needed to do something before the whole team hated me. I'd been picking them off when I could see them, but they were still bothered by Linus and didn't know I was here. So I jumped from behind the cover and charged the trucks.


Ah pit mah m4 oan fully autae an' was raisin' a heel ay a ruckus. Linus an' Ah hud th' bastards in a perfect pincer movement4. Weel as perfect as we coods wi' jist th' tois ay us. If they tried tae use th' lorries as a shield frae me, 'en Linus coods shit em. finally th' ones fa waur still alife hud dooze an' started runnin' awa'. Ah immediately changed direction an' ran towards th' crusty olde blaw orf.


I put my M4 on fully auto and was raising a hell of a ruckus. Linus and I had the bastards in a perfect pincer movement4. Well as perfect as we could with just the two of us. If they tried to use the trucks as a shield from me, then Linus could shoot them. Finally the ones who were still alive had enough and started running away. I immediately changed direction and ran towards the crusty old fart.


4 The pincer movement or double envelopment is a military maneuver. The flanks of the opponent are attacked simultaneously in a pinching motion after the opponent has advanced towards the center of an army which is responding by moving its outside forces to the enemy's flanks, in order to surround it.


Flashback Linus – TSIFFTS Mission


Well, Hammer went on the offensive again. My best guess is he heard about Thom over the radio and feels it's his fault, which it is. And now he's going to try to get himself killed to atone for it. But he's too good of a man to lose to these bastards.


I disobeyed Thom's order, grabbed my M4 and jumped up to give Hammer a hand. Shit I didn't need to because the rest of the tangos had enough and bugged out. I emptied a mag behind them just to make sure they were motivated to keep running.


In the early morning light I saw Hammer heading towards Thom, and I figured I'd better get there first before Thom shot Hammer.


I called, "Alpha one, this is Alpha two, be advised the rest of the tangos have bugged out and we are approaching your position."


My radio crackled, "Alpha team this is Mothership, is it clear to come back for extraction."


Thom replied, "Negative Mothership. Stand by and we will call you when we are ready for extraction.


I'm almost to Thom's position when I notice a van headed our way from the opposite direction. I called, "Alpha team, looks like we've got company coming from our six."


Thom replied, "Shit! Who the hell is that?"


Flashback Todd – TSIFFTS Mission inside the compound


Just at sunrise I started my barrage on the main house of the compound. It's amazing how much damage a mortar can do to a multi-million dollar house. I only brought six rounds with me so I needed to make sure each one counted. The first one took out the generator and the mains, the stupid fools should have known better than to put both of them in the same place. The other five I spread out over the house and it wasn't long until the fires started.


With the power gone, the radios worked again and I heard what was going on with Alpha team, it sounded like Thom was hurt. I sent a message, "-- --- - .... . .-. ... .... .. .--.   - .... .. ...   .. ...   -... .-. .- ...- ---   - .-- --- .-.-.-   .... .- ...- .   ... ..- -.-. -.-. . ... ... ..-. ..- .-.. .-.. -.--   .-. . ... -.-. ..- . -..   -... .-. .- ...- ---   --- -. .   .- -. -..   .- .-. .   .- ... ... .- ..- .-.. - .. -. --.   - .... .   -.-. --- -- .--. --- ..- -. -.. .-.-.-   .-- .   -.-. .- -.   ... - --- .--.   .- ... ... .- ..- .-.. -   .- -. -..   .-. . -. -.. . .-.   .- .. -..   - ---   .- .-.. .--. .... .-   --- -. .   .. ..-.   -. . . -.. . -.. .-.-.-"


Mothership this is Bravo two. Have successfully rescued Bravo one and are assaulting the compound. We can stop assault and render aid to Alpha team if needed.


The reply came back, "Bravo team, this is Alpha one. Continue assault but be aware some of the tangos are on foot and headed back your way. I would advise you to be gone in about thirty minutes. Meet at rendezvous location Lima Charlie."


I clicked my mic once for affirmation, was just getting ready to head towards the house when I heard a bunch of dogs bark and then saw a pack of rabid looking dogs headed towards the house. My radio squawked, "Bravo two, this is Bravo one, hold your position. I have sent in the dogs."


I thought, Shit! Somehow Byron has the dogs working for us!!!


Flashback Byron – TSIFFTS Mission inside the compound


Todd's mortar attack was devastating with pinpoint accuracy. It was great to have the radios again and to know what was going on. I was concerned as hell about Thom and the tangos headed back towards us and I knew we needed to wrap this shit up and get the hell out of Dodge.


I turned and looked at the doggies behind me and I said, "I know you guys are good dogs and I can tell the bastard's treated you bad. How would you like to get even?" I was shocked when they all started barking and took off for the house.


I told Todd and then my radio crackled, "Bravo one, this is Mothership. Did you say you sent in the dogs?"


I answered, "Affirmative, I guess they now work for us." I was going to say more when I heard a chopper start winding up. I called, "Bravo two, I hear a chopper winding up for take off."


Todd answered, "..   .... . .- .-. -..   - .... .- -   - --- ---   -... .-. .- ...- ---   - .-- ---   .- -. -..   ..   .-- .- ...   .... --- .--. .. -. --.   - .... .- -   .-- --- ..- .-.. -..   .... .- .--. .--. . -. .-.-.-"


I heard that too Bravo two and I was hoping that would happen.


I watched as a chopper rose up in the air, then a stinger missile arced through the sky and turned it into a fireball.


Todd sent, ".- -. --- - .... . .-.   --- -. .   -... .. - . ...   - .... .   -.. ..- ... –"


Another one bites the dust!


I saw the dogs headed back towards me and called, "Mothership Bravo team has completed the mission and are headed to Lima Charlie. Be advised we will need food, water and extraction for ten dogs."


Jim answered, "Did you say ten dogs?"


I replied, "Affirmative, ten dogs."


Things were finally looking up until I heard the call from Alpha two, "Alpha team, looks like we've got company coming from our six."


Thom replied, "Shit! Who the hell is that?"


Flashback Elizabeth Morgan – Very Southern California


Bernie and I had been chasing ghosts through most of California, ever since the People's Temple deaths which I reported on. It was my big break and I'd finally gotten out of the office, more correctly out from under scrawny Richard Peters and was a roving reporter.


Dick Peters was a prick couldn't see it because he had his head up his ass most of the time. But Bernie and I sure could see much more that went on at the People's Temple than the mass suicide of all the men. It just didn't make sense. I started doing research on things, using whatever means I needed to get information and came to the conclusion there was some sort of underground vigilante group operating, not just in California, but throughout the entire United States. There were too many things that were actually surgical strikes designed to look like accidents. They were systematically taking care of things our government wasn't able to do.


So Bernie and I put our heads together and looked at all the possible targets in California. We came to the conclusion the next most likely target would be Rene Enriquez. He was one nasty motherfucker who'd always seemed to stay just ahead of the law. It was rumored he had ties with the Mexican Mafia and controlled their presence in California. If it was bad, he'd done it or had it done.


We headed towards his palatial estate which bordered with Mexico to have a look around. As we neared the compound we couldn't believe our eyes. Bernie slowed the van and I said, "Bernie, what the hell happened here?"


Bernie answered, "Liz, it looks like we stumbled upon a war."


I asked, "Who are those three men just standing there?"


Flashback Linus – TSIFFTS Mission


Thom stood up took a look at the van and said, "Son of a bitch, that's a fucking news van."


I pulled up my rifle, scoped out the van and said, "Shit Thom, it's a news van from KSUX and it has Elizabeth Morgan and her cameraman in it."


Thom asked, "Isn't she the one you gave the tip to about the People's Temple Job?"


I reluctantly replied, "Yes Thom she's the one."


Thom swore, "Son-of-a-bitch, I was worried that messing around with the news was going to come back and bite us. Linus, you made the mistake so you figure out a way to fix it."


I thought for a moment, pulled my balaclava over my face, and I took off in a trot for the van.


Flashback Elizabeth Morgan – Very Southern California


Bernie stopped the van when one of the men pointed a rifle at us. Then he lowered the rifle and jogged towards us. I anxiously asked Bernie, "Do you think we should get the hell out of here? They must be the ones that killed all the people in those trucks. I bet they're Mexican Mafia"


Bernie laughed and said, "Liz, you're a damn fine reporter and an even better analyst. Someday you'll be famous and you did a great job at the People's Temple. But I'm disappointed in you this time. You opened your mouth before you used your eyes."


I was hurt and challenged, "Bernie what in the hell are you talking about?"


He continued, "Well, Liz if you'd had more experience you'd know we were within range of his rifle and if he wanted us dead we'd already be dead. And I know they're not Mexican Mafia."


I was shocked and asked, "Just how in the hell do you know that?"


Bernie laughed and said, "Because one of them is wearing a kilt. When was the last time you saw a Mexican wear a kilt. Besides if it was the Mexican Mafia there would be about a hundred of them and we'd already be dead."


I looked past the man who jogged towards us and Bernie was right, so I sassed, "So mister fucking know it all brainiac. What would you suggest I do?"


He laughed and said, "Shit are you ever fresh! I guess I need to teach you everything. You're a woman and if these guys are who we think they are, the last thing in the world they will do is off a woman. Get out of the van, jog up the road about a hundred yards and wait for him to come to you. Then give him your biggest smile and see what he says."


I was nervous as hell about this and didn't move fast enough. Bernie said, "Come on, move your rear."


I opened the door and slowly jogged up the road. I still didn't think this was a good idea, but I figured if Bernie was wrong I could just give these guys my body so Bernie could get away. I stopped and waited for the guy to get close to me. I was so scared my knees were shaking so I started tapping my foot so he wouldn't see my fear.


When he got close I gave him my biggest smile and flipped my hair. He stopped about five feet in front of me. God he's fucking huge and I think he could snap my neck with his bare hands. I waited and still tapped my foot to disguise my fear. He didn't say anything so I said; "It's a nice morning for a little run."


Flashback Linus – TSIFFTS Mission


I almost lost it and laughed when I got closer to Elizabeth Morgan and saw how scared she was. I wanted to say BOOO and lunge but I figured she'd wet herself. So I decided to wait, finally she said, "It's a nice morning for a little run."


I answered, "Yes it is."


She continued tapping her foot, then tilted her head and said, "I recognize that voice. You're the one who called in the tip about the People's Temple."


I shrugged my shoulders and replied, "What if I am?"


She flipped her hair, smiled real big and answered, "I know you're him and I just wanted to thank you. You'll never know how that one tip changed my life. I owe you big time."


I bit my lip to keep from laughing, she was flirting the hell out of me. Then I thought of something, "Well, if you really owe me, you and your cameraman will tell the world the Mexican Mafia did all this."


She tapped her foot, cocked her head and said, "I could and would do that for you. But I want something else from you."


Damn for being so scared she still had some balls! I asked, "I thought you owed me big time?"


She flashed me a dazzling smile and replied, "I've been doing a little research on your group and I have a whole list of work you guys have done across the United States. I know it can't all be just you three, so there must be other groups like yours."


She paused and I got nervous. Shit, how could she know about TSIFFTS. We were careful as hell. I answered, "I have no idea what you're talking about."


She stopped tapping her foot, stood up straight and tall, took a step towards me and said, "Listen Mister whoever the fuck you are! I may be a fucking blonde but I'm certainly not stupid and I can tell from the change in timber of your voice that you just lied to me. Now if you do that again, I'm going to turn around and walk back to the van. Then any deals are off the table and I'm going to bust this story nationwide."


I cleared my throat and choked out, "How did you find out?"


She laughed and said, "First I'm not just good, I'm really good. And second you guys have gotten sloppy."


I replied, "Sloppy, what the fuck are you talking about."


She crossed her arms across her chest, tapped her foot again, and then she said, "I bet you don't have any reporters on any of your teams because none of you think like a reporter." She flipped her hair and smiled again, "If you talked to a reporter you'd come up with more plausible solutions. The People's Temple was good and fooled the cops because after they saw what the bastard Jim Jones did they were just happy he was dead and they didn't have to deal with it. I took a look at it and it didn't make sense."


I barked, "What the hell are you talking about."


She laughed and said, "Don't try to scare me with that voice of yours. I might have been scared when you came up here. But I know when I've got a man by his balls and I have yours in my hand right now. If I tell you how I knew, will you at least listen to my deal?"


I thought for a moment and said, "What the fuck, it won't cost me anything to listen."


She grinned and said, "Your reason for all the men killing themselves wasn't believable because they weren't religious - they were perverts. I could have believed Jones and the other two committing suicide, but not all the men. Plus I did see the needle marks. Did you guys use a tranquilizer gun to take out the guards and then put some cyanide in their mouths?"


I knew I couldn't lie, but I could avoid, "So how would you have done it?"


She flipped her hair, smiled and I could tell she was thinking. Finally she said, "I would have let Jones and the other two go like they were. That was really smart. Then I would have just shot all the others and made it look like it was a fight over who would take Jones' place. Now that's a believable scenario."


I took a few moments and thought about it. Shit she was right! There's no way in hell I could tell Thom all the details about my meeting with her since he was still sore about that mission. I said, "Okay, you have my attention and I can see you might be right."


She interrupted, "What's this might be right shit! I damn sure right and you know it."


I continued, "So what is this deal you're offering me?"


She stepped closer and said, "Look I know from the missions I studied that you guys are just doing what really needs to be done in America - and I think that's great. But without help, my help, you guys are eventually going to be caught. What I'm offering is to help you guys make all your missions look plausible."


I knew there was more so I said, "And what's the cost?"


She smiled, "I should demand advanced notice of your missions, but I know you won't give it to me. So I will settle for getting a phone call immediately after the mission is over. That way I can be the first on the scene and fix anything you guys fuck up. I will also let you know what looks out of place so you guys will get better." She handed me a business card.


I briefly thought about just killing both of them, but I knew I couldn't do it and I knew she was right. I said, "I'm not sure I have the authority to agree to this. But I will take your offer to our team leader and I will get back to you. I think it would be a show of your good faith if you at least cover up this mission for us."


She grinned and said, "That's all I expected to hear from you. And I'd be glad to help you make this look like the Mexican Mafia took out Rene Enriquez. He was a real bastard. Shall we shake on it?"


We shook hands, I felt like I was making a deal with the devil. Then I turned and jogged back towards Thom.


Flashback Elizabeth Morgan – Very Southern California


Well that went better than I thought it would. I'm not sure what happened to me, but once that guy lied to me it sort of flipped a switch and the mouse in me turned into a lion.


I turned, jogged back to the van, opened the door and slide into the seat. Bernie looked at me and said, "Are you going to tell me what went on or do I have to guess?"


I took a couple deep breaths and said, "Bernie, everything we figured out is true. These guys have been doing exactly what we thought - taking care of trash the government won't. I offered to help them make their missions look more believable."


Bernie said, "Damn remind me not to play poker with you. So what do we get out of this?"


I smiled and said, "Well, if it works out like I hope it will, we will get an immediate call at the end of each mission."


Bernie smiled and replied, "So we'd probably be the first on the scene."


I said, "Bernie, we've got our work cut out for us today. We need to make this look like the Mexican Mafia attacked Rene Enriquez."


We watched as the guys took off. Bernie drove closer to the trucks, we jumped out of the van and worked on the cover up.


Flashback Thom – TSIFFTS Mission


Linus came back and I asked, "So tell me what the hell went on?"


He shook his head and answered, "Thom she had everything all figured out about TSIFFTS."


I interrupted him, "What the hell are you talking about?"


Linus continued, "Thom, she had a list of TSIFFTS missions throughout the US. She said we'd gotten sloppy and our scenarios weren't plausible from a news reporter's point of view."


I thought for a moment and said, "So what's she going to do?"


Linus handed me a business card and said, "She's offered to help us make each mission look plausible and she's going to make this mission look like it was the Mexican Mafia."


I asked, "And what's the cost for this?"


Linus looked guilty and said, "All she wants is a phone call after each mission is over."


I looked at the card and looked at Linus and said, "Well, let's get the hell out of here and see what she reports. If she does a good job on this, I will consider bringing this up with my leader."


Flashback Matt and Jim – Kabul Afghanistan


We were flying high after getting rid of the bastard Stockman and looked forward to telling Natasha all about it. For once things were looking up and I said, "Jim, you know this mission might actually work."


Jim replied, "Yeah I feel pretty good about taking out that bastard and burning up all the drugs. If the rest of the mission goes as smoothly as this part did it will be a walk in the park."


I said, "Shit! I can't wait to tell Natasha, she's going to do that goofy dance of hers."


Jim added, "It will be nice to have her happy at us for once rather than being pissed off at us."


I was just getting ready to say something, when my mouth dropped open in amazement. Jim said, "Oh Shit Matt, there's an M1 Abrams sitting in the middle of the road."


I slowed the truck as the cannon pointed right as us. Jim added, "Matt you'd better turn down the alley."


I looked in the rear view mirror and said, "Fuck Jim, there's another M1 behind us."


I stopped the truck and we heard over a loudspeaker, "Exit the truck with your hands in the air."


Jim looked at me and said, "Matt, I don't think we can fight our way out of this one."


We took too long and the front M1 opened up with its machine gun and dusted the ground in front of the truck. We heard the voice say, "Exit the truck now or we will fire on the truck."


I said to Jim, "Yep, were fucked. Let's do as they say."


I opened the door and stepped out of the truck with my hands in the air. A squad of men rushed me and threw me face down on the ground. I felt the barrel of an M4 against the back of my neck and heard, "You move you die."


I looked under the truck and Jim was in the same fix - yes we were really and truly fucked!


Flashback Linus – Kabul Afghanistan


I rounded a corner and the street was blocked in front of the car by five fucking HumVees. I hit the brakes, spun the car around but it was too late. They'd blocked the street behind us and Sharik was barking like crazy! I kept the car moving in circles, but I didn't have any place else to go.


Jack said, "Give me a rifle and then lock and load; it looks like we're in for a fight!"


Natasha handed weapons up front and said, "How did these bastards find us?"


I thought for a moment and said, "I have no idea."


Natasha said, "I don't know who the heck they are, but at least they're not Blackwater."


Jack looked out the window, "No, but we're up shit creek. These guys look like Seals."


Natasha said, "Guys, it's me they're after not you, and they won't hurt me. Linus pull over by the narrow side alley and you and Jack take off while I keep you covered. Just remember, no matter what, you have to rescue Ben."


I slide the car to a stop next to a small foot alley, Jack and I bailed out of the car and we both opened up on the vehicles. Natasha jumped out of the side closest to the Seals, followed by Sharik, and fired at the vehicles and the men.


Jack yelled, "Thanks Natasha, don't worry we'll get Ben for you. Linus, let's move it."


We took off running and gunning down the alley.


Flashback Natasha (Jens) – Kabul Afghanistan


Son-of-a-bitch! We drove right into a trap and there was no way for us to all escape. I knew they were after me and I also knew they didn't dare hurt me. I had to make the ultimate sacrifice for the mission. I had to let myself be captured so Jack, Linus, Mat and Jim could get away and rescue Ben.


I'd loaded up my M4 with AP ammo and was shooting the hell out of everything. Sharik jumped out and was barking the hell out of them. I glanced back and Jack and Linus were gone. I was just getting ready to give up when Sharik let out a blood curdling yelp, I looked down and some son-of-a-bitch shot my Sharik. I dropped down beside him; he looked up at me, whimpered and wagged his tail. I patted him on the head and said, "Don't worry my dog prince I am going to make them pay for this!"


Sharik slowly closed his eyes then I don't know what happened, but all the anger and rage I'd kept bottled up about Ben just sort of broke loose and I went on the offensive. I ran towards the trucks and this time my targets were the men, not the trucks. Four of them fell to my shots; I slipped past the corner of a truck and saw one of them fire a gun at me. I felt two barbs stick into my chest and then fell to the ground writhing in agony and things slow went black.


Flashback Jack – Kabul Afghanistan


I hated leaving Natasha but she was right, it was our only chance to escape. And if we were all captured no one would be able to rescue Banzai.


We ran down the alley, it opened up into a little plaza and another trap. I yelled at Linus, "It's a trap." But it was too late and a net fell over the top of us. I fought to get to my knife and heard, "Throw your weapons to the ground or we will open fire."


I looked out through the net, and saw a squad of men, I said, "Linus, it's over. Throw down your weapons."


Linus said, "Damn Jack I hate being whipped."


I said, "Linus we're beat and I'm pretty sure they'll shoot us if we fight them. We need to see what's going on and then regroup later."


We both stopped fighting and then squad moved up and secured us. As they lead us away with our hands tied behind our backs I saw an ambulance go by. One of the squad said, "She shot four of us, two are dead already and they just took the others to the hospital."


Another man said, "I wished we could have shot the bitch with a real gun instead of a tazer. But the old man would have killed us if she got hurt."


Another guy laughed, "I heard they were so pissed they shocked her until she passed out and kept it up until she pissed herself."


I knew right then, the mission was over. We'd all failed Banzai.


Flashback Glen – Kabul Afghanistan


Hot Damn! I love it when a plan comes together. I got my intel guys to track Jennifer's team from their cell phone signals. Once we figured out where they were going we had setup traps for all of them and captured them without having to kill any of them.


They were being transported to the brig and I was headed there to meet them. But this mission wasn't without its perils. From what I heard, Jennifer went crazy and shot four Seals, two of them were dead and they didn't know about the other two.


I hoped to sweep this under the rug, but I knew she'd have to answer for the deaths.


I walked into the brig with a big grin on my face. I looked in the first cell and stopped in my tracks. Shit that's Ben's old spotter Jack and some guy I didn't recognize. I walked up to the bars and said, "Jack, I never thought I'd see your sorry ass again. After you became a coward and resigned."


Jack jumped up and swore, "You fucking bastard! I can't believe you're leaving Banzai to rot in a Taliban prison."


I dismissed him with a wave and said, "Banzai is dead."


I walked to the second cell and son-of-a-bitch it was the two fuck-up sergeants I'd sent to Thule. I said, "I hope you two like Leavenworth better than Thule, because that's going to be your new address for a very long time."


They hung their heads, so Jennifer must be in the last cell. I walked up to the bars and they had her handcuffed to the bed. She saw me and yelled, "You worthless scum sucking mother fucking bastard! It's a good thing I'm chained to the bed or I'd kill you with my bare hands. Let me the fuck out of here so I can rescue Ben."


I was shocked and said, "Is that any way to talk to your father?"


She started yelling and cursing and pulling on her handcuffs. Her wrists started bleeding and I yelled down the hall, "Get a medic with some tranquilizers in here before she hurts herself."


It took a couple minutes for help to arrive. The whole time she kept up the fight. Finally the medic and five men showed up. One of them said, "Sir! You might want to leave for a few minutes. This isn't going to be pretty. She took out two of the men who put her in here and we'd hate to see you get hurt."


I backed away and they all entered the cell, Jennifer fought like a woman possessed and took out one more man before they held her down and the medic administered the tranquilizer. Jennifer slowly stopped fighting, fell onto the bed and started crying, "Please let me go so I can rescue Ben."


The men left, I pulled up a chair and sat beside her bed. I said, "Jennifer, I know you don't want to believe it, but Ben is dead. And young lady you're in serious trouble. You killed two Seals and seriously wounded two more."


She was crying and said, "Daddy, I'm sorry. But I know Ben is alive, please let us all go and we will rescue him."


I wiped a tear out of my eye and said, "Jennifer, it really pains me to see you as sick as you are. But if I hire a good lawyer he might be able to get you out of this with a plea of insanity."


Jennifer looked at me, stopped crying and motioned me closer to her and said, "Daddy, I have proof that the bitch you call your wife has tried multiple times to have Ben killed. If I go down I'm taking the bitch with me."


I moved closer and whispered, "Jennifer what in hell are you talking about?"


An evil look came across her face, "Daddy, I have e-mails from Mom to the bastard General Stockman. By the way did you know he's a drug dealer son-of-a-bitch? The bitch paid Stockman to send us on the mission where I got sick and the one where Ben was captured. And the mission where I got sick was to destroy a rival drug dealers operation."


I interrupted, "Jennifer, you can't do this."


She spat, "I sure as hell can and I will unless you let us go."


I argued, "Jennifer, you and your men are going to prison for this."


I saw her look change and she said, "If they go to prison then the bitch goes to prison too. Daddy, they didn't do anything other than follow my orders. You need to let them all go."


I could tell she was concerned about them so I changed tactics and said, "Sorry Jennifer, I don't think you'd put your mother to prison. They're all going to Leavenworth for a very long time."


I saw her cry some more and she said, "Daddy, Jack's wife is pregnant so he can't go to prison. And I really owe Matt, Jim and Linus. You have to let them go."


I answered, "No way in hell. You'll just send them on a death mission to find the body of a very dead Ben."


She gritted her teeth, "Ben's not fucking dead!"


I tried to hold her hand and she snatched it away for me. I said, "Jennifer, I don't want Evelyn to go to prison and you don't want Jack, Linus, Matt and Jim to go to prison. I'm sure we can work something out."


She said, "You're a fat bastard. Get the hell out of here and leave me alone."


I looked at her with sadness and said, "Jennifer, I need to go see what sort of deal I can work out for you and your team. I'll be back later."


Jennifer yelled after me, "Someday you're going to regret this you fat fucking bastard."