The following is fictional, all characters are products of imagination and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is completely coincidental.
All technical aspects are reality or near so, waiting only for the right engineer or technician to connect the dots. Not all aspects of said technology is covered in this fiction for story progression and flow. Some aspects are also intentionally left vague for protection reasons. (My protection specifically) If one is compelled to (re)create anything within this story, I, the writer implore you to 1:come to your senses, 2: failing 1, do your own homework on the items in question, 3: in light of 2, you do anything at your own risk. I claim zero responsibility for your actions/failures, you are adult enough (I HOPE) to take responsibility for yourself.
Nogales AZ, 30 miles east at Militia basecamp, Day 1 t.o.d. 1700hrs
We’ve been here pouring over these maps cross referencing with information the militia has, trying to sort out a pattern. Trained military tends to work in patterns and if what we think we are looking for is trained military, then a pattern should be there. So far, nada. Then again, military can work quite randomly when need calls, so I am not ruling anything out at this stage.
My eyes hurt. 9 hours at this, I need a break. “G, I’m going to the trailer and stew on this some more. Something ain’t right but I dont know what. ”
“Ok T, I will keep looking. ”
There is something out there, I can feel it, but can’t quite put it to form. Maybe a short nap will help. Certainly helps that we have shore power here, no need for a genny to run the AC unit. Yeah, I’m spoiled.
T isnt taking this well. Its only been a few hours yet we have nothing but some varied reports from a handful of listening posts. Seems to me, we are looking in the wrong direction though. T and the Captain here think things are being brought in: I’m thinking shits rolling south. I dunno. Right now we have an ass ton of nothing, and a few gazzilion acres of scrub, jacks, and tarantulas pocked with washes and arroyos and anything could be hiding out here and not even trying to hide.
Maybe I need to take the initiative here and get LB up and about. Lets see what she can see and maybe something will stand up and be counted.
“Now this is interesting!”
“Whatcha got G?”
“GPS shows theres a wash in this corner of the valley, but I am seeing what looks like old dunes or maybe what could have been a slide. Can you get more zoom or get LB closer?”
“Zoom is maxed, but I can drop 1000′ or so. Th’help?”
“Dunno, should though. ”
A couple minutes later,,,
“Ya ever seen the ground move like that T?”
“Cant say I have. Looks like grass waving, but at the same time, looks like scrub, and scrub doesn’t blow like that. ”
“Cuz its neither. Thats camo net, hiding something in plain sight. And just far enough north that the militia will never bump into it.”
“I’ll get the captain. Time for us to figure some stuff out. I’m thinking a couple of watch posts here” pointing at a map,”and here, and lets just see what happens.”
“Sounds good to me, but we’re just hired help out here, he may want me in the air as well.”
“Maybe, but I would prefer to keep Damocles out of this one. Gots a bad feeling this time.”
“Yeah, I feel the same. And I am thinking I really don’t like the idea of flying at night in a potential hotspot with nothing but instruments. Is there some way we can dial up the IR, maybe even layer it over the single cam view?”
“Possibly, lets see what the Captain says then I will know if that goes to the top of the list or not.”
G snorts, “ya make me sound like a wifey with a honeydoo list. ”
Dead serious look back from T, “Its not the list that bugs me, but the fact we should have seen some of the issues first. But that’s history, and here we are, so I’ll move on about it. Be right back, but you keep looking; you may find more than just that one spot.”
“I have two teams headed out right now to those positions you suggested. They should be near enough now to start the final approach on foot. Don’t want any giveaways at this point. You’re saying you think there are two more places set up the same?”
“Yup, “replies G,”about a click apart, each in an arroyo or shallow wash and all of those leading to dry river beds headed cross border. Not sure whats going on, but I think your traffic is headed south, not north.”
“That bothers me son, if its headed into Mexico, that means its from the Feds, and that could mean some serious firepower if we kick this hornets nest over.” The Captain pauses, rubbing his chin in thought. T looks on and gives a slight eyeroll to G, G just nods slightly in acknowledgment. “How do you boys feel about getting that hog overhead, just in case? I’ve 4 men down there and they may need a little help in exfil.”
T responds “not real keen on getting into any fray with real-life pilots or heavy ground support weapons. She may look like a warthog, but she sure isn’t armored like one. Hell, a little .22 would go clean through her front to back, and there is a lot of little stuff it could hit on its path. Stuff that may be critical. ”
G adds, “about the only spots protected are the main receiver and the fuel bladders. Both are in the wings. Even so, its just 12 guage aluminum plate. A pistol round could bust right through if shot from 20 yards or less. If we were to go up against something in the air, Damocles would be shot to shit with one burst of pretty much anything they would carry. My only defense would be to get low and fast and out maneuver them. And my top speed is only 100 maybe 110 knots. Hell, a Bell Ranger could outrun me in a straight alley. My only hope then would be twist and strike like a snake. Thats pretty risky in itself. I think we should wait and see what your guys find before we start ‘kicking hornets’.”
“I agree,” says T,”we don’t know whats out there and until your guys report in, we can’t know. LB is on her way back and she doesn’t have any means of seeing in the dark, so using her platform now is out. ”
“Alright, this is your set of planes. You would know best how and how not to deploy. Sure would like some air support if things get squirrelly.” The look of disappointment is obvious on the Captains face.
“I didnt say we couldnt provide support, I did say we would need more info.” T replies. “We have done one night op, and it was pretty successful, but we also knew that we didn’t have any other air assets to contend with. We dont know anything at this point, so I err on the side of caution.”
“Understood, well, I should know something in the next couple hours. These guys are ex recon and rangers, so they should be able to get close enough for details. I’ll send you word when I have it.”says the captain. Both T and G look at each other then nod and leave the tent.
“That sure sounded like ‘Dismissed’ to me.”says G as they get some distance.
“Ya’think?” Says T, chuckling. “I get the impression he is a little torqued off that we didnt bring an honest to god warthog with us. Thats ok though, cuz I think I found a way to give you night vision. I almost wish we could run with radar, but that would be pushing our weight limits, a lot.”
“I have to agree with you on his being torqued off. I also get the impression of a wanna be General in the makings. I wouldnt be surprised if this guy orders his people to ‘kick that nest’. So, what do you have for little lil old blind in the dark me?”
“You clued it, but I spotted it. How about ultrasound overlayed on infra red? The range isnt the greatest, but you should be able to avoid any hills if you should need to get ‘low and fast’. If Damocles were any faster, I wouldnt even try it, but she runs scale, even in speed so I think this will work. I should be able to work it up by tomorrow evening. If we aren’t ordered up, I’ll clear us for some testing at least. If we are ordered up, you may get to be the guinea pig in a combat zone. Are ya up for that?”
“Fucking outstanding! Not! If need be, lets just run IR. This sounds more complicated and I almost wish I hadnt said anything. Please tell me we can gst more sensitive readings in the IR.” The pleading is obvious in G’s voice.
“Oh, you get that. 5 degree increments is the finest I can get, but that also uses a lot more power. The unit may thermally shut down on you and you know how that works; Blind when you most need it. Just think about the ultrasound side and I will work on both issues, heat and all.”
“Ok, but I sure as hell don’t want to be testing gear while flying a hot mission. That just seems like Murphy would be riding shotgun with me.”
“G, Murphy ALWAYS ride shotgun with you. Or didn’t they teach you that in Bootcamp?”
“Oh-ho, the keyboard jockey gets snarky!” Laughing, G has to pause in wheeling across the gravelly surface. “T, on a serious note, what do we do if shit did get heavy and Damocles was in bad enough shape I had to ditch her?”
“Been thinking about that G. Have been ever since Brownsville. I’m thinking about a demolition charge remotely operated, as well as some thermite to slag some of the more interesting parts we made. Wouldn’t do to leave a ton of evidence behind. Remember what you told me when you were showing me how to fly RC?”
“Yeah. Don’t fall in love with it, they all have expiration dates. Damn, it would take a lot out of me keying that switch. Yeah, we could build another, but that bird has helped me grow wings, and feels almost a part of me, even if we are separated by miles while flying.”
“No need to go there yet. Hell, if this Captain has his say, you may end up using it Kamikaze style and this whole discussion is moot.” T pauses and looks at G. There is still enough light to see the ‘someone kicked my dog’ look on G’s face. ” Hey, Lets grab a beer while we wait. I really dont think we are doing anything tonight and one ain’t gonna hurt.”
Sounding slightly dejected, G responds “Sure. And you can show me what you are thinking about to make Damocles a bat.”
A corporal knocks on Ts trailer “Captain requests your presence gentlemen.”
Groggily T answers, “sure, be there in 5.”
G “Here we go, lets see what the general desires for the next bloodbath.”
“I’m thinking you might want to keep that attitude under wraps around here, G. His men seem to respect him so your impression might be more than a little biased by your past. ”
“You’re right. I’ll cool it, but wont like it much.”
At the HQ tent, things are definitely hopping, as evidenced by excess lights and more than a few people moving quickly, some coming some going, but all moving in a determined state.
” Gentlemen, we got a report from one of our teams. I sent the other one out to one of those other sites you saw, after the first report. We’re waiting on them to report back.”
“So whats going on?” T asks.
“That first location has 4 uparmored HMMVs with weapons mounts, but no weapons displayed. It is also unmanned. Our guys walked right up and looked under the net. The vehicles are staged there, fully fueled and with the batteries disconnected. My guys didnt want to risk discovery so didnt use lights, they know something is in the rear of each unit, but not what. I am suspecting its the weapons and ammo for the ring mounts.”
“How long before the other team reports?” asks G.
/Should be in the next 10 minutes or so. Its a new moon out so these hills get mighty dark. If it were a brighter night, they would already be there.”
G glances over at T with a look. T blushes a bit, knowing that if guys on the ground find it difficult, G would have an even harder time at a few thousand feet, even with instruments.
The Captain continues, “I don’t know who placed these vehicles here, but they are not salvaged. I am suspecting someone or some group is arming the Cartels. This is no,,,”
“Captain! Click code coming in from bravo. Says troops are visible at pos 2. Requests further orders.”
“Try to find out what vehicles or craft they have. ” turning back to T, the Captain asks,” would it be possible for you to get up there and loiter around, just in case?”
T can see G off to the side and can see the anger building ‘gotta nip this down fast before G blows’ “lets see if they have air assets first. If they do, you would be sending us on a suicide mission of sorts. If not, we can do that, but we aren’t going to be able to much more than provide another set of eyes. Some support, but our targeting system isn’t fully tested for this scenario.”
“Gentlemen, its been one thing after another since you got here, I need an answer, will you support my men with your gear or not?”demands the Captain.
G snaps,”Sir, I will be in the air in 10 minutes, come hell or high water, but if my bird gets so much as a bullet hole in her by another aircraft, I will personally take care to remove an equal amount of your hide after I get her home. Is that a sufficient answer for you. SIR?” G doesnt wait for response but wheels his way out of the tent towards the trailer.
“Shit, this is not good.” Says T.
The Captain just stares at the entrance were G rolled out, than asks, without turning;”How many tours was he on and where?”
“Two tours of Iraq and one in Afghanistan, why?”
“I’ve heard his voice before calling for fire on some position or another. I didn’t recognize it until just now. I thought he was just some punky gamer kid. I owe him an apology.”
“Tell him after he lands the bird. You already pissed him off enough, let him do what he does best now.”