The Keystone Division after WW3
A Band of Brothers (and sisters)

Lupe Pabon

11 MAY 2003 / 0230 hours Phoenix Camp, R.B. Winter State Park

"Checking us out, hermana," Hector warned in a prison yard whisper, lips never moving.

Lupe waited a few heartbeats, then lifted her head up to look at the man Hector had spoken of. He was tall, well over six feet, and had this wicked stare, like a feral cat trying to decide if you were dead enough to eat. Kind of skinny, but with ditch digger's muscles; ropy and much stronger than you'd expect.

"He's got some eyes, jefe," she told Hector. "Like he is looking into our souls." Abruptly she laughed, a harsh sound. "Hope he likes what he sees."

"Hey! You," she called out loudly to Sherman in a heavily accented voice. "You want to eyeball or screw me? Either way you're going to wind up hurt, jerkoff."

"Madre de Dios, Lupita, shut your mouth for once," Hector chided quietly and pulled her closer with the arm around her shoulder. "Give me time to figure things out before you get us shot."

Lupe shrugged irritably, trying but failing to knock Hector's controlling arm off. She knew Hector was right but wasn't able to control herself. Always people looked at her like that, like she was something bad. Was it her fault that she'd grown up in the white man's world, forced into a role of violence and poverty? Where being a good girl meant saying "Yes sir" and "No sir" while cleaning their pretty houses for less money than it took to feed herself? And then they look at her like she's the one to blame.

Anglos. They're all the same. Serve them right if the Federacion del Sud wiped them out and started a real latino country.

Wearily Sherman looked over again at the girl. He seen her type so many times before. He could sum up her life with a glance. Parents were users, she grew up on the streets joined a gang. Got involved in petty crime, stealing cars and drugs. Got caught and no doubt had a bit of jail time or at least juvie hall. They blamed everybody else for their problems. If she got a mirror and looked into it she could see where all her problems came from. Smart mouths, bad attitudes and trouble makers, they were all the same. Good people like Mama Mim died while there was no shortage of people like her.

He reiterated to the guards the need to be careful. "Watch 'em both. Him because he's the clever one and her because she'll do something stupid, which could get someone killed."

Sherman had one last dismissive look at the pair before leaving. No doubt once they left they'd be joining up with Stryfe or some other marauder group.

"That's what I thought," she said as Sherman looked away. Mollified by her seeming victory, Lupe wiped at her red eyes. The gas had really done a number on her. Hector too. Both of them couldn't go three words without coughing and it burned fiercely. "Feels like I skinned some chilies and wiped my eyes before washing my hands, jefe," she told Hector.

"You never could cook," he responded then coughed.

"Shut up," she said and elbowed him in the ribs. "If my cooking was so bad, how come you always ate all of it? Huh?"

"Man get hungry enough he eat rat," Hector replied. He bent over, hacking horribly and looked like he was going to be sick. Lupe rubbed him on the back, offering what comfort she could. Thank goodness the gas didn't make her want to puke though she was the only one so blessed.

"Lots of good eating on a rat," she said. "Better than gato."

Hector looked up, wiping away a string of drool with the back of his hand. "Hey, I'll eat your gata anytime, Lupita."

"Shut up," she yelled, half smiling and half scowling. Lupe pushed him backwards but Hector caught her hands and held himself upright. "What they going to do with us, Hector?" she asked quietly, worry and doubt in her voice for the first time.

He shrugged and spat to the side. "Same thing they always do, hermana. Use us, blame us for shit, then run us out of town or kill us." Hector looked around then back at Lupe. "You see the boss man?"

"Yeah. He ain't white. Like he's an Indian or something. Not Aztec though, one of the white man's Indians."

"Good, Lupita. Good. Now be quiet and let me think how to work that. Come here and keep an old man warm, huh?"

Lupe rearranged their blankets to cover both of them, sharing body heat and physical comfort. Her and Hector didn't have anything going on, not that she would mind, but they just hadn't shared a bed. She knew Hector had suggested it to make her feel safe, to comfort her, and that made her angry. Not so angry she didn't take advantage of it, but angry enough that no one else better mess with her.

Dark eyes stared out hatefully at the others in the Aid Station, just praying one of them would give her a reason to vent.


The Aid Station was a scene of utter chaos. Wounded men, women, and even children were everywhere. And there was more than one figure whose eyes were glassed over in death, patients that had died because there simply weren't enough Medical personnel or supplies to treat them. He could feel his feet trying to slide out from underneath him, as his boots slipped on the blood-soaked floor. He looked around at the mass of wounded, and spotted SSG Sherman, his S-2. He'd heard a couple of the men outside speaking in awed tones about his defense of the Aid Station when he'd arrived. Another man who'd gone above and beyond the call of duty.

He made his way over to where Sherman was standing, stepping carefully to avoid the people that crowded the floor around him.

"Sergeant, from what I hear, I should be pinning a medal on your chest right about now. I wish I had one on me, but right now all I have for you is a job. We desperately need information, I have to know what's going on out there. If you're up to it, I need you to start interrogating the prisoners we've managed to capture. Anything you can find out about Stryfe; where he's at, what his plans are, where they may have taken our people, I need to know."

A medal for what he did. Sherman felt awkward he'd been outside fighting with Cunningham during a firefight. Two militia had given their lives and he'd acted like a schoolboy and an idiot. Sherman avoided Raven's eyes. But got the impression the Major felt a bit uncomfortable as well.

"Sir. Not sure if our new intakes will know anything." Referring to those suffering from the gas attack. "I'll question them, but I advise we let them go in the morning maybe with a bit of food. We can't keep them all with us and we just don't have the personal to look after them properly." Sherman didn't feel right about just letting them go but times were hard and considering what had just happened to the camp they would be a drain on resources if the gas symptoms turned out be something worse.

"I heard we picked up Royce and Everett. I know them both from Lewisburg. Royce is a good man, Canadian, I think. But Everett he was Stryfe's 2IC. He'll know something." Sherman sounded cold when he mentioned Everett. He had never forgotten the time when he'd been found and interrogated by the man and especially what the SOB had said about Hannah.

Raven looked down at his feet, and spotted a bloody piece of flesh lying next to his boot. He didn't want to bring this next subject up, from all accounts Sherman was a man of honor. But it had to be said.

"Sergeant, we've lost a lot of people tonight. I know what you're feeling right now, but we need information from those POW's. I want them kept alive, and their well being is your responsibility. As soon as you find out anything, let me know." He turned to leave, he needed to get out of this charnel house, partly to finish surveying the Camp, but mostly he felt that every one of the wounded men and women was staring at him with looks of accusation, because he hadn't been able to keep them safe.

He stopped short of the door, and turned back to Sherman. "I said you couldn't kill the prisoners. I didn't say anything about bending them a little. Get me that intel. No matter what." Shamefaced, he quickly exited the Aid Station, and headed into the night.

"Understood sir." he nodded grimly, Sherman understood what the Major meant. He was a by the book cop but sometimes in order for good people to be safe you had to employ unorthodox methods on bad people. It would be hard to explain to someone like Hannah but it was just how things worked in the real world.

As of 0230 hours, here's what you were able to pick up from enemy KIA. Again, there might be more that is found when Mr. Sun pokes up...

8- shotgun, pump, 12 gauge, 15 rnds 00 buck ammo
M3A1 grease gun, 4rnds .45ACP, 4 empty mags
Auto Ordnance (semi) Tommy gun, 2- 50rnd drums, 80 rnds .45 ACP
3- M16A2, 6- empty mags, 21 rnds 5.56N
4- lever action 30-30 rifles, (7rnd mag), 25 rnds 30-30
Lever action .22, (15 rnd mag), 41 rnds .22 LR

Browning Automatic Rifle, 9rnds .30-06, 10 empty mags
Maxim HMG and heavy tripod (not NHT)
[note -- .30-06 conversion, needs work, damaged sideplate and watercan, Sean :0]
3- fabric 100rnd belts for Maxim gun above, one of which holds 58 rnds .30-06

18- glass hand grenades, probably frags. Fuse sticking out top of each.
82mm RCL (Cuban? copy of Chinese? weapon) folding bipod, 5rnds HEAT
120mm mortar (Belgian manu.) 7 rnds HE

A few weapons that turn up are odd enough to bear mention, and more detail. Berger comes a-running to MAJ Raven with several, going on about the parentage of a certain COL with which many of the 3/103 staff are acquainted:

6- STEN? copies. These appear to be quite crude, even for STENs. (I never used one, but have held several, and they feel cheap and clunky no matter how well they put lead downrange... From what I read, some WWII STENs were so poorly made that dropping one on a hard floor turned it into a pile of parts right quick) These copies are somewhat bulky, but actually balance fairly well.

Crude welds hold the receivers together, sights are very simple ring and post type. These weapons would not win the UZI award for Slick Appearing Weapons. The stocks are just a piece of metal tubing bent into shape. There is no switch for semi-to-auto fire. One odd feature is a modified magazine -- they are not box mags, and don't stick out to the side as usual for a STEN. Rather, the mag is some sort of oval, drum-type device directly below the weapon, and holds perhaps 50-60 rnds. 9 of these drum mags have been recovered, along with 72 rnds of 9mm, divided variously among all of the drums.

The 9mm is copper? cased with a lead bullet, and doesn't match any manufacturer, mil or civ, that anyone is aware of.

The STENs? have serial numbers, granted all of those found are in the 5000's. They are marked 9mm near the mag well. There is a small decorative stamping on them, a sun within a keystone...

11 MAY 2003 / 0230 hours
Phoenix Camp,
R.B. Winter State Park

Major Raven made his way back to the Aid Station after surveying the camp. The damage was as bad as he had feared, if not worse. As he approached, he saw that there were more bodies laid out next to small building than before, a few of them covered by tarps or blankets, but most of them lay uncovered in the rain. At any other time he would have stormed into the Aid Station, chewing out the Medical Staff for their lack of respect for the dead. The reason he didn't do it now was simple, he knew all too well that the blankets were desperately needed by the wounded that were overflowing the camp's small Hospital.

Sgt. Berger ran up to where he was standing, and thrust into his hands one of the weapons they had picked up off the dead left behind. Raven turned it over and over, not quite sure what to make of it. It looked like a copy of a British Sten gun, crude, but obviously effective. Where did it come from? He didn't think that Stryfe was manufacturing these weapons, otherwise they would have found a lot more of them. Besides, the symbol stamped on the side would have had a skull inside the keystone, instead of a sun. Berger said they had found half a dozen of the weapons, and on the side of each was a serial number that seemed to indicate that thousands of them had been produced. And yet to the best of his knowledge, no one had seen these weapons before. Who would have the capability to produce thousand of weapons, and yet be able to keep them a secret?

There was one possibility that leapt immediately to mind, the Northern Tier Militia. They had overrun a Federal Armory when they took control of the northern counties, and they had turned back every person that had tried to make contact. They could easily have created these Sten copies, and kept them a secret. Up til now, they had seemed to be minding their own business. But if they had made an alliance with Stryfe, well, the implications were staggering. They might be able to defeat Stryfe. But Stryfe and the NTM?

It was time to track down LCDR Everett, and have a little chat with him. According to Sherman, he had been Stryfe's right hand man. If anyone had information on Stryfe and a possible connection with the Northern Tier Militia, it would be him. Assuming of course, that he hadn't been sent by Stryfe as a spy..........

11 MAY 2003 / 0230 hours
Phoenix Camp,
R.B. Winter State Park

[Sherman] Following the Major's orders to interrogate the prisoners Sherman decided he would deal with those being held in the Aid Station first. He would have much preferred to go and vent his frustrations on Everett though. As far as he was concerned the navy man was guilty and responsible for the attack on the camp. He would gain some small satisfaction now that the boot was on the other foot. He knew it was petty and his reasons for disliking Everett were personal, but how could the man not have known what Stryfe was up to. And to be caught after the raid must have meant Everett was involved. Exactly how Royce fitted in Sherman wasn't sure. To be safe both men would be held securely in the stockade until he could question them.

Before he began talking with the other prisoners he brewed up some coffee or what passed for coffee, it was hot at least. Sherman thought it best to use his quarters as it provided some privacy but more importantly he wouldn't be in the way of the medical staff. He cleared away some of his stuff and secured his firearms in a footlocker. Except for his pistol which was holstered at his hip. Then went over the prisoners belongings there was not much he could learn except from the papers belonging to the man Hector Ruiz or at least claiming to be Hector Ruiz he corrected himself. Sherman studied the papers, a pardon from Colonel Stryfe himself he thought scornfully, worthless. Mr Ruiz was well armed though, even for a militiaman. All that military hardware and clothes carried by a man and women traveling together, both of whom were suffering from an illness and captured by a military patrol. The bitter irony was not lost on him, that was how he and Hannah were first encountered at Lewisburg, captured by a patrol led by Royce then interrogated by Everett. The similarities ended there he assured himself he and Hannah were nothing like this Ruiz and Lupe, a pair of common criminals at best.

Returning to the prisoners Sherman looked them over. They seemed harmless enough considering their condition. He hadn't really thought about what had made them sick. Ruiz said it wasn't mace or pepper spray and Sherman believed the man would probably know. No doubt experienced with the effects of law enforcement issued irritants.

Pointing a finger at Ruiz. "You. Stand up and move over there." Sherman commanded flatly. "Kneel down placing your arms out to the sides. I am now going search you. You are not to say anything unless I direct you to. I assume you speak English. Nod if you understand me?" Making sure one the guards watched the others prisoners and the second guard covered Ruiz. Sherman preformed a standard search technique using one hand to squeeze the mans clothing, they only patted them down in the movies. Unless you squeezed you wouldn't find razors or flat handled knives by patting. His free hand held in readiness near his pistol. He'd done it a million times before and knew the routine. Never stand in front of the prisoner, never get in between the prisoner and the covering officer, never turn your back on a prisoner....

Sherman wanted to make sure Ruiz hadn't picked anything up since being in the Aid Station, he didn't fancy being hit in the eye with a syringe or slashed with a scalpel. Satisfied with the search, Ruiz was then escorted to Sherman's quarters. Both men were seated and the covering guard took up position behind and to the side of Ruiz.

Sherman spoke calmly almost in a friendly tone "No doubt you have a few questions. Firstly let me assure you and your.." He wasn't sure what relationship Ruiz had with the girl, they seemed familiar with each other. He watched the man for any signs to indicate their status. "... friend are in no immediate danger from us. If it matters to you we are a legitimate US Army unit."

He passed the papers to Ruiz. "This is a pardon for Hector Ruiz. I assume that is who you are. You do realize these papers are worthless." Sherman knew all to well the value of Colonel Stryfe's signature.

"So Mr Ruiz tell me what you were doing and how you ended up here specifically in regards to your association with Colonel Stryfe." Sherman held his coffee mug in one hand sipping it, by now it was lukewarm and tasted even worse and leaned back in his chair ready to listen.

The mans demeanor irritated Sherman. He was too cocky, obviously used to telling others what to do. Sherman wasn't impressed. Hector Villanueva Ruiz was a convict, pardoned or not. Judging by the size of his arms Mr Ruiz had spent some considerable time in the exercise yard up at Lewisburg Pen.

Sherman kept his voice calm and business like. "Mr Ruiz let me make your situation a little bit clearer before you start making demands. Our camp has been attacked and a lot of good people died. We barely have enough supplies to look after our own wounded and then we capture you. Wearing a uniform, armed with an assault rifle and grenades. You have papers that identify you as being a soldier of the man who attacked us."

Sherman pointed at Ruiz's pardon to emphasis his point.

"You are a member of a militia unit known as the Bloody Bucket. This is signed by Colonel Stryfe himself. I don't care that you want a coffee or how you react to authority figures." Sherman's rising anger could be heard, he caught himself and took a second to calm down. This guy wasn't worth losing it over.

"One more time Mr Ruiz. You co-operate fully with me and you can have a coffee. The girl as well. After, you tell me what you know about Stryfe."

Lupe looked up, gas-reddened eyes taking a moment longer than normal to focus on the man who stood before her and Hector. It was that tall guy with the cold eyes again. He just stood there and looked at them, not saying anything. It wasn't the first time someone had used the tactic on her, so she wasn't intimidated by it. Or so she told herself anyway.

Wanting to make a crack but knowing Hector'd be pissed, Lupe just sat tight, stonily glaring at Sherman. It wasn't much, and she could tell it wasn't working at all, but she couldn't help but do it. The alternative was to look away like some whipped puta and no way, no way ever was she going to do that.

Her heart leapt when his finger stabbed out, first in fear and then in relief when she realized he'd picked Hector and not her.

"Mira su culo, jefe," she said, warning him to watch his ass in Spanish. For a moment it looked like she'd reach for his hand, but at the last moment she withdrew it, not wanting to shame Hector in front of this Anglo. Hector was a man and didn't need her squeezing his hand in reassurance.

Has to be a cop, Lupe thought, seeing how expertly Sherman directed Hector and patted him down. He didn't miss a trick, she noted, being more than familiar - albeit on the receiving end - with police patdowns. This was not a man to screw around with either. The whole time he kept one hand on his pistol and looked like he'd not hesitate to use it.

The Anglo led Hector off a minute later, leaving Lupe alone. She prayed Hector would come back. Being alone sucked; it was what had gotten her caught in the first place. You needed someone to keep watch while you slept and to get your back when the crap went down.

Coughing and rubbing at her irritated red eyes, Lupe drew the blanket tighter around herself and resumed watching the comings and goings of the aid station with feral eyes, just looking for an opportunity to score.

11 MAY 2003 /0445 hours
Phoenix Camp,
R.B. Winter State Park

Lupe listened with only peripheral attention as Hector and the gringo went around and around. Even Hector's comment in Spanish failed to evoke more than a grunted response. She was dead tired, worn thin by running and hiding, fighting and the daily grind that was trying to survive in the post-pockyliptic world. It put a real edge on her but, like a knife honed too fine, she was ready to cut anything that so much as breathed on her and would likely break during the task. Maybe the cop'd get tired talking to Hector and wouldn't want to interrogate her.

That gas or whatever it was still hurt. She could only imagine what her eyes looked like; puffy, swollen and as read as if she'd been doing some serious bowls of herba. Man wouldn't that be good right now. A nice mellow high from a fattie and then a nap, talking about shit like it was somehow deeper when you were stoned.

Head and eyes drooping, she kept nodding off and then jerking back awake, like a glass throated bobbing bird she'd seen in a store window once. Thing looked like it was drinking, red liquid flowing from its transparent stomach, down the neck and into its empty glass head. Then the liquid'd flow back and the bird would straighten up. She'd wanted one but there hadn't been money to spare, even in the pre-war days. Money was for food, for second hand clothes from the charity stores, and somehow always enough to buy padre his beers. Funny how that worked now that she thought about it.

Lupe yawned, mouth stretching and jaw cracking. She pulled the blanket tighter about her and laid down on the floor, head pillowed on her folded hands to try to sleep.

OK young lady, your luck changed, thanks to that D10 with 10 on 7 of the faces that I used for your roll. ;) Really, you rolled a 10....

One of the militia saw Lupe reaching for a large set of scissor as she was ushered from the Aid Station to Sherman's quarters. He slammed the butt of his M1 Garand down on her fingers, and the scissors clattered to the floor. Lupe is slightly wounded to her left hand.

Do what you will from there, Ben...

11 MAY 2003 / 0230 hours
Phoenix Camp,
R.B. Winter State Park

It was time to track down LCDR Everett, and have a little chat with him. According to Sherman, he had been Stryfe's right hand man. If anyone had information on Stryfe and a possible connection with the Northern Tier Militia, it would be him. Assuming of course, that he hadn't been sent by Stryfe as a spy..........

While MAJ Raven was interested in finding Everett, it seemed everyone and his brother, and his inbred cousin on his clubfooted stepsister's side of the family, was interested in finding MAJ Raven. Raven found himself answering the same questions over and over again, as people came to him for guidance, reassurance, and finally orders. He made a quick sweep of some of the more likely areas in order to find Everett.

Berger came first, kind of pushy, no he was just being highly assertive, but he was respectful. "Any orders, sir?" He also asked what should be done with the enemy KIA, and if he could have a key to the Armory to break out some more ammo, if there was any...

MAJ Raven looked back at his S-4. "I want you to start an inventory of our supplies, concentrating on weapons, ammo, medical supplies, and food. I need to know what we've lost, and what we've managed to scavenge off the enemy's dead and wounded. Once the enemy dead have been searched and stripped, take the bodies in the dumptruck to the edge of the Camp. Downwind, preferably. We can't just let them rot, otherwise we're leaving ourselves wide open to Typhoid and Cholera. But I'm not willing to waste precious manpower on digging graves for them all, not without earthmoving equipment. We'll have our hands full just burying our own dead. So once it's daylight, get whatever alcohol or other flammables we have available, and burn the bodies."

"Understood, sir", was Berger's reply

"Then find Sgt Sherman. He had a line on a bulldozer from one of our civilians. Get Booker, find out if that farmer is still alive, and get back to me ASAP. We need that dozer, and we need it yesterday. Booker will be in charge of recovering the vehicle. I want to know by 0800 what we need to do to get that rig here. Get whatever ammo we have available from the Armory, and distribute it to the defenders. That has first priority, I want to be ready in case we get hit again." He dug out the key from his pocket, and handed it over to the Sgt.

"Yes, sir. I'm on it. Off the top of my head, I'd say we'll need fuel to get there and back, a little extra for towing the thing up the mountain, and probably a mechanic. I'll get it done. It -- the dozer -- was in Hartleton, near... my home. Probably better if Booker goes, anyway, and not me. As far as the ammo, I'm not sure what's there until I look -- some of my files got burned up when our hooch got hit. Excuse me for one moment, sir." Speaking of the devil, Booker walked by and Berger motioned him closer.

To Booker: "Don't go anywhere just yet, we've got work to do. Take a look in Hartleton, for a dozer we had talked about yesterday. Floyd Zimmerman is the 2nd place on the left as you leave from the north road out of town. It's a township road, and I can't think of the name. Should have a trailer there to transport it. You'll need the dump truck to pull it, and we'll be done with that by 0800. By the way, we pulled gravedigger detail. Round up some alcohol and that brush we cleared, and we'll start tossing enemy KIA onto the GMC as we go. We'll go a klick or so east of Camp and do it there."

Yates looked about at the point of collapse. She was very sarcastic, and got MAJ Raven to hold his hand over a wounded man's chest while she patched a hole in the guy's lungs. "Go on, now, your hands are fine. Sterile? Well, sir, neither was the bullet that put the d*** hole there, either. Just hold right there while I..." Quickly Yates spritzed alcohol (from the sting of it) over the wound with a large syringe that Raven thought dear old Mama Mim had used to decorate a cake a few hours ago...

Raven's hands were quickly covered with blood, as he held down the man's chest. "Yates, anybody you need to help you here, you've got. If anyone gives you any trouble, send them to me, I'll deal with them personally. Whatever medical supplies we can scrounge from the dead I'll have sent here immediately, I just wish we could do more." As soon as he got his hands free, he dug into his pocket, and pulled out a set of LT bars. He pinned them on Yates collar, "I'm afraid you just became an officer, Lieutenant Yates. We'll deal with the paperwork later. At least now you shouldn't have a problem getting the troops to listen to you. Take care of those bars, LT, they used to be mine."

"Well, thank you sir. I'll try to do you proud by them. Sir -- anything you can scrounge -- any shine in the stills, any cloth for bandages, Hell... Dammit! You there! That's a sucking chest wound. Use some seran wrap. Cover it and hold it with both hands. I'll be right there. I'm sorry sir, we're just... short of everything except casualties, sir... I've gotta go, sir..."

S.C. RALEIGH, or "Scrolly" as he had become known, managed to net even more prisoners. Some of them were slightly wounded, others were just a bit mussed up. Scrolly said, "... the old restroom we had been using for POWs was overflowing sir. Where would you have me quarter them?" Scrolly seemed more coherent than Raven had ever seen the mentally ill man, yet the tall Spec. smelled unmistakably of marijuana.

Before the war, a soldier that reeked of THC the way Scrolly did would have been kicked out of the Army. Now they needed every man they could get their hands on. Besides, he had just been rescued from the POW camp at Freeland the day before. Raven was inclined to let it slide. "If you're up to it, find a couple of men and march anyone you can't fit into the restroom down to the edge of the lake, at least until we can find some place to stash them.. They'll have a hard time escaping without being spotted there. Make sure they understand we're not fooling around here, any one who tries to escape is to be shot on sight."

Scrolly flashed a boyish grin at the Major. "Now why wouldn't I be up to it, sir? It'd be my pleasure to play jailor instead of prisoner for a change. We'll keep the WIA and that MAJ of theirs under wraps at the brig, and the rest of em will be at the water's edge. That way, if he tries to cook anything up, he'll have poorer troops to work with. And orders will be shoot to kill any attempted escapees."

CPL Valdez reported in. "Sir, we haven't had much time to get acquainted. CPL Mike Valdez, sir, recently of Aviation BDE. I popped two probable officers, about 350 meters out. I'd like to take a man with me and recover them, if I might, sir."

The CPL's name rang a bell with Raven, as he pulled a sheet of paper from his tunic, "Cpl Valdez, right, you're on my list too. Congratulations, you just became a Sergeant. By all means, recover the bodies, but if you find anything of intelligence value on them, I want it brought to me or Sgt Sherman immediately. Once you've done that, start grabbing anyone you can find that walk and shoot. I want all the vehicles with weapons mounted set into a perimeter covering the area of the Aid Station, CP, and POW shack, with at least a driver and gunner in each vehicle. If we get hit again, this time we'll have a QRF (Quick Reaction Force) ready."

Raven thought he saw the young sniper blush in the greyish-yellow light. "OK, sir, not sure just what's up and running. There was a hellofalotta shooting down by the Parking Area. Can only guess what I'll find there. I'll report back when it's set."

Finally, by 3:15, Raven had found Everett. The man was brushing hunks of mud of his uniform and gear near the mess area, and was eating a plateful of unidentifiable stuff. Nearby was a youngish looking LT in a flight suit, also eating. Everett regarded Raven for a few seconds, and went back to his food. The LT looked up, set his plate down, and saluted wearily. Everett continued eating, unconcerned.

Raven returned the LT's salute as wearily as it had been offered. He'd had maybe 5 hours of sleep in the last 48. Raven sat down at the table, directly across from Everett.

Don't feel like you beefed yourself by reminding me -- I was just about to slap you with reality anyway.

The stress, coupled with the lack of sleep over the past 2 days, was rapidly taking it's toll on the middle aged Native American. He had to hold on a little longer, and do what needed done. But soon...

"Commander Everett, I'm Major Raven. I'll come right to the point, after tonight I'm not up to making small talk. I've been talking to my S-2, Sgt Sherman. He told me you used to be Stryfe's XO, and that you've been missing since he turned traitor and overran the camp at Lewisburg. I need to know everything you can tell me about Stryfe, what he's been up to, where he's at, and how he thinks. And I need to know now."

The big African American placed his mess kit on a stump, and saluted crisply.


Everett was dressed in grimy, lived-in black fatigues, and carried a Glock at his hip, and a scoped M249 leaned against a battered table that was nearby. The man's knuckles were banged up and bleeding. He had numerous cuts and abrasions on his face, which only minimally detracted from the gooner over his left eye, which threatened to shut of any light from entering the optical organ. He smelled of BO and swamp and spent gunpowder.

"And after that, Commander, I'd like to know where you've been since Lewisburg fell. You showing up now is one hell of a coincidence. I don't want to turn this into a pissing contest, but I just lost over 30 people here tonight. God knows how many more are wounded. So, neither of us are leaving here until I'm satisfied you're not still Stryfe's man."

Well, you didn't crack him, as in, interrogator to prisoner, but you did do something right, apparently, and he's giving you an extended version of what he's labelling as "the whole shit"

"Stryfe's man? Pissing contest? You've got to be kidding. You have no idea. Yeah, I've worked with him for awhile. And ya think ya know a man.... I just never figured him for... Well, where to start... Stryfe is deadly, he knew just how and when to strike. He wears the Green Beanie, y'know. He's a real BAMF. Must've been truly something in his younger years. He must have been planning this for some time, but the whole thing... Hell, it suprised the shit outta me. I always found him hard to read. Totally blindsided me. Slipped me a Micky. Next thing I knew, the place was getting overrun, and all I could do is listen, and watch a little. I couldn't move, I couldn't yell for help, yet I wouldn't pass out from whatever it was. It was truly the most terrifying thing that's ever happened to me. I prayed I'd pass out so I wouldn't see it coming when they came back in to do me."

"There was some shooting. Then MAJ von Fischer ran out, and I saw him get tapped. Jones here", and he gestured to the thin guy in the flight suit, who nodded to the MAJ, but kept a stoney silence, almost like he was 1000 miles away, "...Jones bolted up right out of the chair, and tore thru the tent, when the COL, I mean, when Stryfe opened up with that fucking Skorpion. Thankfully, something else came along and spooked the old man and he split, or I think I would've gotten stitched next."

Everett's lips tensed, and he gritted his teeth. He appeared ready to spit molars and bicuspids at any moment.

"Damn him! He's got a fair amount of support behind him, both his own troops and some others as well. I played dead for most of that next day. I heard everything that went on, but didn't get to see much. His own boys made up most of the bunch -- on the order of a fat Company, but luckily, they're Gomers. Militia from Sunbury, mostly, and a few from Milton and Norry. His hired help is damn good. He's got some Arty, and freakin' contacts all over the eastern and southern parts of the State. A Captain out in Freeland, and a Major down in Carlisle. Make no mistake there, he's got this whole game planned out. And he's got the money to hire all he wants. I did see that before all this came down."

"When I finally could get up, everything... well, there were alot of bodies, everything was on fire, and... the real disturbing thing was... what he did to people of color. Anyone else, he'd just shoot and get it over with.... He usta talk about Mr Victor Charlie back in the Happy Valley, but Christ, the things he let go on were just... Finally Jones came back around, helped me get out of that damned place, and we've been on E&E ever since."

Everett smiled at Jones. Jones just stared off at nothing as a little tremor broke near his left eye.

"I know it seemed crazy, but after we got back on our feet, we figured we'd find you guys quicker by finding the strike force Stryfe was bound to send out to nail you. We did manage to pick off a few on the way, but we stopped when it looked like they were retaliating against farmers and the people in the cabins. That was yesterday, and the day before. Once the strikers hit RT 192 and started going uphill, I had a feeling you'd be here."

Everett seemed almost as tired as Raven, and finally it dawned on him that he was suspect. Raven got the impression that Everett was not as bright as he first had thought. Well, dumber people were officers in the Navy, he supposed.

"Just hold on there, one stinkin' moment, *MAJOR*. Sure I was Stryfe's XO. I don't know just how legal that was, in light of things. He said he called it in to HQ, and they approved. Hell, find Wu, CPL Wu. He was the RTO that night. Perhaps that's what his plan was, incriminating me by making me XO, when he knew it wasn't legal, well, FINE. Is Petey Slade around? Ask *him* about Stryfe. He's the one you should be pumpin'! Several people suspected him for awhile now. That redneck is a fucking murderer, a vigilante, plain and simple."

Everett studied Raven for a moment, and then coughed a perturbed laugh.

"You have absolutely no idea... I catagorically deny anything you are insinuating. Either charge me, and do it like a *man*, MAJOR, or end this farce. I want legal representation. I'd expect *you*, above most people here, to be beyond this sort of pettiness. FINE! You want me, here I'm yours."

Valdez was about to report back about something, and stopped to listen. Hannah Mordecai and Booker were also among the small crowd gathering around Everett and Jones. Robbo had been tagging along, tired, battered, but patched up and ready to go, awaiting orders.

Raven might have been expecting anything except what actually happened. Raven was bleary-eyed, and Everett did like to ramble on when he had a stage, and an audience like the one forming around them at the wrecked mess area.

Everett quickly drew his Glock. Raven was taken completely off-guard. Even Valdez was caught flat footed. Damned carelessness! But out of nowhere, Everett then slowly handed the weapon to Raven, butt first.

"You really *don't* know, do you? Like I say, charge me now, or do with me whatever your fucking kangaroo court will, but I'm telling you, we have work to do if we want to get Stryfe. And let's do it quick -- I told you, he's got a real hard-on for anyone whose not a White American Protestant..."

Everett looked around, eyeing Hannah and Booker, Robbo and Valdez.

"...and this place is either starting to look like the UN or the fucking Village People..."

Raven looked down at the proffered Glock, then back up at Everett's face. "Keep it, Commander, you've convinced me. My apologies, but I had to know for sure you weren't sent by Stryfe. It's been long, bad night." He took in Everett's dirty clothes, and battered face. "For both of us, it seems."

Raven stood up, and shouldered his M21. "Come with me, Commander, I'm pretty sure Slade is at the Aid Station nursing a gunshot wound. Apparently, Mr. Cunningham opened up on him. I was going to wait until after things had settled down before I talked to either of them, but from what you just told me, I think we'd better talk to Mr. Slade right now."

Raven started back towards the Aid Station, but stopped after a few steps, and turn back towards Everett. "As for verifying your story, I'd be more than happy to ask Cpl. Wu about your appointment to XO, but I can't. Wu is missing, we think Stryfe's people have him. A lot of our people are missing, and I want them back. So, how do you feel about playing 'Good Cop, Bad Cop' with Pete Slade? You get to be the Bad Cop."

11 MAY 2003 / 0800 hours

Scrolly netted 7 POWs as per my last post (Playing 20 questions) 2 are WIA, the other 5 are mussed up a bit. Additionally, by sunrise, 2 more wounded, and 3 more mussed up POWs are captured. These, added to the previous catch (4 WIA, 3 mussed, plus (MAJ RONALD WYNN) (PVT JIM DANVERS), brings the total up to 8 WIA POWs, and 11 "OK" POWs, plus MAJ RONALD WYNN, and PVT JIM DANVERS(who is WIA). Danvers and Wynn not being counted since they are "named NPCs". Going along with Ed's orders in his last post:

Scrolly marches the 11 OK POWs down to the edge of the lake, and has them sit with their hands on their heads, while he and 2 militia guard them. Orders are to shoot on sight anyone attempting escape, and these orders were repeated within earshot of the POWs. The 8 wounded POWs, plus Wynn and Danvers, are detained at the restroom-turned-pokey. They are locked in and guarded by 2 militia. It seemed logical not to put Wynn with the more able POWs... (2 of these prisoners at the restroom are then marched off for interrogation by SGT Sherman...)

More weapons and ammo were recovered:

8- shotgun, pump, 12 gauge, 15 rnds 00 buck ammo
M3A1 grease gun, 14rnds .45ACP, 3 empty mags (has a leather sling with some weaving / beadwork)
2- M16A2, 6- empty mags, 42 rnds 5.56N
1- lever action 30-30 rifles, (7 rnd mag), 4 rnds 30-30
2 - bolt action .30-06 (5 round mag), 8 rnds .30-06
1 - bolt action .30-06 (5 rnd mag), 5 rnds .30-06 (nicer quality, 3-9x scope, synthetic stock)
2- 9mm automatics (10 rnd mag), (low quality) 12 rnds 9mm, see below
1- fabric 100rnd belt (probably) for Maxim gun mentioned earlier, empty however
2- home made crossbows, 8 broadhead bolts
7- glass hand grenades, probably frags. Fuse sticking out top of each.

9- STEN? copies as mentioned before. Serial numbers in the 5000s and 6000s
16- drum mags for STENs above, and 189 rnds of 9mm.

The 9mm recovered matches that found earlier -- lead bullet, copper case, no manu ID #s

At least 27 knives and various bladed nasties are recovered...

misc. equipment recovered:
engineer's demo kit (between stuff found at Aid Station and Parking Area #3, one whole kit is assembled.
2- lockpick tools
2- 2km hand radios
2- 4x binoculars
5- gas masks

22- light packs (think either satchels, or student backpacks)

12- personal med kits
(this is actually assembled from about 2-3x that # of kits, making up fewer complete kits)
2- doctor's medical kits(#1 WV=7, #2 WV=5)
(both Dr's medical kits are partially used)

After consolidating odds and ends, 42 man-days of canned / dried food are recovered.

To the 61 KIA physically recovered before, another 16 are added to the count, for a total of 77 enemy KIA. At least 30-40 of these enemy KIA are dressed in an item of clothing that bears description:

A hooded, pullover smock, mid-thigh length. One size -- XXL. The material is an odd combination of denim, cotton/poly blend, and linen. It would appear that several bits of each type of material have been sewn together in a hodge-podge, and then the whole garment dyed black or dark grey. After that, the smocks have apparently been painted, maybe airbrushed with grey, black, forest green, and brown. The smocks are not waterproof, but do provide a moderate level of camouflage and warmth. There are no patches or other identifying marks on the smocks.

Only 4 helmets were recovered among the enemy KIA.



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