Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 14e - by nova

Now came the tricky part, the linkup with our people. This was where, if done wrong,or even right sometimes, a dumbass would shoot you because they were jumpy. We pulled it off with minimal shouting and zero shooting.

Kat came running up to me. I was pleased to see the relief on her face that I was still alive but I didn't have the concern when she saw I was hit.

"Oh my god! You've been shot!"

If she asked me if it hurt it was going to be hard to resist the urge to knock her upside the head. I hurt, hurt badly, and it was making me short tempered. Instead she asked me, "Did you kill the asshole?"

"No. Rodriguez did." I wasn't sure of that. Was it him or Miller? I was having problems concentrating. "Do the buses have first-aid kits?"

"I don't know. I can check."

"Good. Do it."

I wasn't the only one hurt. Second squad had one with a leg wound and one of the parents was dying. Not bad work.

Miller was getting everyone moving. The parents, instead of being mindless cattle bitching about whatever was on their little minds were helping. I could remember a time when that would have been a miracle. Now it was a rarity.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 14d - by nova

Instead Miller hustled over to me, took a quick look, and started cutting away my shirt. "Give me your bandage. He fished out his, and yelled the same thing at Rodriquez. I fished mine out and handed it to him. Rodriguez got close enough to check out the damage, shot the look at Miller, tossed him his wound dressing, and started moving kids.

He yelled, "Single file, inside voices, oldest at the rear. Lets go people!"

"We got to go Miller."

"Shut up Gardener."

That set me back. I felt the anger flare, then I laughed an asked him, "That bad?"

He ignored that. "Hang on. Almost done." He cut away part of his left leg trouser and used the fabric to bind the wound bandages in place.

"Okay Gardener. I got morphine. You want?"


You think you're going to go into shock let me know."

"Yeah. Lets go."

He took the lead after grabbing the AK, slinging it, and pulling a magazine from the asshole that shot me.

Sweet Jesus, the pain was talking to me. I ran my pain routines, I had a high tolerance for it, having experienced more then my share, but this was bad.

We made it about 10 paces when I yelled to Miller, "Take drag. I'm going up front with Rodriquez."

He started to say something, changed his mind, and scowled at me as I went past.

As I passed the kids I checked them out. Some of them looked scared but most of them looked bored. One of the boys, maybe 12, quietly called out to me, "Give me a gun mister. I can shoot."

"Later kid."

I saw Rodriguez drop to a knee, look around the corner, then let rip with a full auto burst. He ducked back, grinned at me, pulled a grenade, twisted the bottom, and tossed skittering along the floor. It made for a nice satisfying scream a couple of beats later.

He jumped out, let go with one three round burst and moved out. I caught up and took the other side of the hall. If going into the gym was messy this was a lot worse. No body parts blown off but the four Apaches in the hallway were leaking blood from a lot of different places. Mixed in with the blood on the floor were nickel sized pieces of metal. I heard the kids murmuring and thought my hearing had been scrambled until I realized it was Dine they were speaking.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 14b - by nova

In the background I heard the 2nd squad machine gun open up and the burst of a hand grenade. I never heard one of the new ones they were carrying go off but I hoped they were the only ones with them. I also hoped they didn't kill of all the hostages saving them.

I knew we were going to take casualties, the rarity was not taking any, I just didn't want any screamers until we got everyone loaded up and moving. I also had a real problem with wounded and dead kids.

All this was running through my head while I worked on orientating myself. I was about to lead us back the way Rodriquez was facing when I heard a kid scream from the opposite direction. The same one the three Apaches had come from. I started running in that direction. The scream which, in my head at least, had never stopped.

The only thing I did right next was take the corner wide. I wasn't thinking anymore. I was slipping away fast to a place I had only come close to, and not all that often in the past few years, the place where I didn't give a shit. I didn't think. I didn't care. Where everything happened in slow motion around me, where only one thing mattered and that was to kill. I had already tasted it today, now I gulped it and I loved it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 14a - by nova

I thought I was through. In an action adventure movie from my childhood I would have been. In those movies no one got hung up on drywall. No, but I did. It enraged me and I was flailing away when I was hit hard from behind and popped through the drywall. I stumbled in the room and narrowly avoided stumbling over an old copier paper box filled with Christmas decorations. The light in the room went away and came back as quickly as the third man, Rodriquez, passed through the hole.

I looked at them, listened to what I could hear on the other side of the door which was boots running, grabbed the door handle, and hit the hallway, hugging the right side as I did. I had Sword out, my read of the boot heels had them 20 feet down from the door as I went out. My peripheral vision registered Miller taking the opposite side of the hallway giving us both clear lanes while Rodriguez, I knew without looking, was facing the other way behind us covering our backs.

It was funny, the expression on the three Apaches faces, charging down the hall, now maybe 8 paces from us, when they saw us pop out of the door. So funny that I laughed. Then I stepped forward and swung sword overhand and down at an angle catching the lead Apache on the collarbone and slicing down and in. Sword was a Sword 1.0 version which meant it had no groove in the blade. It had a tendency to get stuck when skewering people. Usually only when you needed it not to. So I sliced instead. It was also more fun.

As the blade connected I yelled "Freya!" Let go of Sword, stepped into the lane of the man on my right and kicked him in the balls. Then I drew my right hand Ruger and shot him. The kicking in the balls part could have been skipped but I got more from it than I did from slicing his partner.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 14 - by nova

I don't know what the signal was supposed to be. I didn't care. I did know that over planning and fussy shit had messed up more ops than the enemy had. I came up over the lip like one of my ancestors did in the trenches of Verdun with a lot more success. I was still alive 20 paces later and picking up speed.

I thought running along the base of the mesa was good. This was a 100 times better. This was like drinking a bottle of cold clean well water after a couple weeks of boiled, treated, and not made any better by the addition of mint leaves liquid that poured and tasted brown.

"Oh fuck yeah. Thank you Freya you bitch," went through my head while my eyes read every window, door, and ripple in the flow. It was rippling, no, it was twisting. The images I had locked away until now were hammering away at the doors. My shadow self grinned and began unlocking them for me without asking. Shadow self knew it was time.

They flowed...

She is four. She is scared. The man with the gun tells her, "Stop the crying kid or I'll give you something to cry about." He grins. His grin scares her even more. She cries louder. She is terrified. He scowls, lets his rifle go and the 3 point sling catches it. He moves toward her, bends down, grabs her feet and dashes her brains out against the wall.

I am howling. The sand of the field should be slowing me down. It isn't. I am flying. My feet make contact for a blink and I cover yards.


He doesn't want to go into the back room. Pain lives there and their smiles don't fool him. They made him shower today and he knows that is a bad, bad sign. He is prepared. His friend, the one they took last time, whispered to him about the room. He isn't going there. The piece of glass he found is fished from his pocket. He tells himself it won't hurt that much. It doesn't really. He has hurt worse more times than he can remember. He hopes his mom will remember him.

In the background the Barrett booms. Good. Start up the drums and let the music begin. I can't see the center of the two buildings anymore. We are running at an angle now to the big building. The kid building. The machine gun is pumping out its staccato beat. Oh yes. Let it begin! Other instruments begin playing. I fade them.

We're against the wall. Miller is swinging his sledge. Both of them now are slamming the iron heads into the cinder block. They have done this before. Their rhythm is perfect. "Faster!" I scream. At least that is what I wanted to scream. What came out was a roar of longing, hate, and unfulfilled desire to make the men behind that wall die.

They each are cutting a line, in the middle between them the cinder block is crumbling, trembling, waiting to be shoved aside. I step back ten paces and run full tilt into it. Almost. Back. Again. I'm through.

It's time to hunt.

Foster the People -Helena Beat

Thanks Mike!

The Unknown - Chapter 13d - by nova

The Captain who had the Barrett guy slid his way back down to brief his people and get them moving. I laid back and stared up the sky and tried to see what animal shapes I could find in the clouds floating by. I was pretty sure I had a cat cloud when the Captain quietly told me, "We're ready sir. Give the signal?"

"You got a name Captain?"

"Miller sir."

"Okay. I'm Gardener. Not sir. You decide to be one of my two sledge guys?"


"What's the other guys name?"


"Is today a good day to die Miller?

He looked at me quizzically.

"It's not a test Miller. Just answer."

It was a test. He knew that too.

"It's a better day to kill."

"No shit. Lets do this thing."

The Unknown - Chapter 13c - by nova

Note: Reason being held as hostages is to force the turnover of the bridge from the Navajo Police. Rewrite addition. Drop Map at first stop? Add dialogue?

We went back to running. This time it was only for 30 minutes. Barely enough time for me to get back into the groove. We scrambled up one of the many washes coming off the mesa. In doing so we startled a rattlesnake basking in the sun. Nobody broke stride, we just gave him some room and kept moving. We hit the lip and instead of us popping our heads up like a bunch of curious gophers I stopped short and waved my squad down. Second squad I directed to take up position at the bottom of the wash.

I really hoped no one was on guard up there, or especially many others on guard. They would have the high ground and we would have to push them off it, then be exposed to the building across the road. Keiku had given me pop up feeds and it had looked clear. I quit buying into feeds telling me everything was looking good until I personally had seen the ground with my own eyes.

"Hit me again Keiku."

This feed was the same as the others. I could tell by the resolution and detail that it was coming from the hawk. Crows were never that good. Their attention span was .02 seconds and invariably something shiny distracted them. Hawks were a lot better but every once in awhile they would spot something edible on the ground below and go into a dive. The first time that happened to me I stopped dead in my tracks startling the squad I was leading and braced myself for impact all the while muttering "Shit! Shit! Shit!" It was a mix of exhilarating and terrifying because it was so real and so sudden. Mostly terrifying.

I studied the school and the area around it and tried to think of a plan. We were approaching the school from the back. It had covered walkways painted faded blue, undoubtedly one of the school colors, they joined the two square equally faded white cinder block boxes that were the structures. The second box was two stories high. It held the gym, lockers, and a handful of classrooms was my guess. The first box, to my right was a one story building where the rest of the classrooms and admin people would have their offices. The second story roof had two men with scoped wooden stock hunting rifles, probably .270's watching. The other buildings roof was empty.

The front had the entrance to the school blocked by a school bus as was the grass area that was free of obstacles so no one could do a vehicle rush. Since birds didn't have x-ray vision I couldn't see inside the buildings let alone have an idea of the floor plan. The floor plan I wasn't worried about. Once you orientated yourself inside planned structures like schools the location of everything fell into place. I was pretty sure that someone was in the bus next to the one blocking the entrance. The main entrance would have a strong enemy presence. More than likely set back down the main corridor and barricaded. I had seen the sparkle of broken glass in a number of places below windows. It was amazing the school had managed to keep glass in the windows for so long but then this area was lightly touched by PowerDown compared to the coast and the big desert cities like Phoenix.

I motioned for the 2nd squad Captain to join me. He acknowledged it, said something to one his people carrying one of the sledges strapped to his back. He slid it out of its sheath and went back to watching. The Captain scrambled up to me. As he drew almost even with the rattlesnake he pivoted, took a step towards Mr. Snake and whipped that sledge down like it was weightless. Mr. Snake took it hard. He tossed the now flat headed rattler down to his squad and finished the rest of the space between us. He joined me and the other Captain, squatting on his heels next to me.

Once I would have thought spending time with a group and barely speaking a word unusual. It was the norm now. I had met, commanded, and buried people who I spoke, at most, 20 words with in a week. The better, and longer a team worked together the less words were said. We hadn't spoken really but everyone of these guys had been chattering away to each other every minute we had been together. Body language, facial expressions, how they moved, how their gear was worn, the state of their weapons and their choices in them, all that added up in my head. I had interviewed them along the way and they had done the same to me. Now it was time to see how they preformed on the job.

It was map in the sand time again. Since I was going for detail I used the tip of my bayonet to etch my sketch. The building remained the same. Now it was time for the master plan.

I drew a sweeping half arc out our left. "Barrett. Roof, then windows with broken glass. One round below. One to the right side." I continued the arc. "Have him stop and go. Cover the buses and us."

I looked at them. They both nodded.

"Me and the two with the sledges go here." I indicated the side of the gym building. "We open the wall."

"When you see us go in you move to abandoned buildings, then, at your discretion, take the center. Clear it, then go for the parents. Split them into two groups. When we come out with the kids push parent group one in front. Make sure they know that I won't tolerate them breaking from the group for their kids. Explain why they have to be in front."

I stopped here and looked at them. I needed to know two things. Did they understand what I wanted and could they stomach it? They did. They didn't like it but that was tough shit. I wasn't to thrilled about it either.

We'll herd the kids behind them. Push the second group of parents in tight behind an around them. I want them surrounded by adults." I paused, then continued, "They don't want to cooperate than leave them behind." I didn't add that mine would be left behind and dead.

"The buses are the way out. Start them, one is probably good, they both look like wood burners, load them up and go."

"Where sir?"

"The Navajo Mountain Chapter House. I want to push them towards Rainbow Bridge. If they are going to make a stand we might as well do it in the holy land." I grinned. That had rhymed quite nicely. "Arm the parents when and if you can. Questions?"

The two Captains looked at each other. Then the senior one, at least he was older, said, "Sir. It's an honor to be here with you and we want..."

"Save it Captain." I told him. "Get the Barrett man moving and lets do this."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Possible Good News

I may be getting a contract for "The Chosen" and two follow-up novels. That would be very cool in a lot of ways. If you have read it and could post a review on Amazon I would appreciate it very much. It might help influence the publisher to take a chance on me.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 13a - by nova

"Hello Major Gardener." It was the same Asian accented voice and her tone was that of an awestruck 16 year old girl. "This is Northern Arizona Control. My name is Keiku and I will be your dedicated image controller. I understand you have not used..."


"Yes sir?"

"Shut the fuck up. Stay out of my head. Give me a quarter mile out, center on me, and run only on my voice command."

"Roger that. Conforming. Out."

She sounded a little miffed. Too bad.

It was quiet. The only people moving was us in two groups with 50 paces separating us. "Keiku. Give me where we just left."

That wasn't quiet. They had a fast react team and the way they were moving told me a good one at that. I stepped up the pace. I couldn't hear anyone sucking wind and I didn't expect to either.

Sweet Jesus it was a joy to run like this. I let myself enjoy it for a few beats. Damn, when did this slip away? I knew, I mean really knew, that I was only cruising and there was still more waiting if I wanted it. Getting older and the injuries had made so much of what I did something to be endured physically. This was nothing. It was fun again, I had forgotten how good it felt to move well and effortlessly, to feel like I was in my element instead of fighting it. I leaped a scrub bush instead of going around it and laughed. I bit the laugh off when I stumbled a little slipping on a sand covered rock and decided to focus on what the hell I was doing. I promised myself when this was done I would go running for a couple of hours just for the hell of it.

We ran hard. About 10 minutes into it I asked Keiko, "Anyone of these guys getting the feed too?"

"No sir."


There was a brief pause, not much, but enough for me to read a lot into, she told me, "Sir. They are not...qualified."

"Thanks. Out."

"Not qualified?" I thought. What the hell? Another mystery but one that I was used to. It was time to talk to my people, something we hadn't done much of so far. After another 40 minutes of running I called a halt.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 13 - by nova

My first inclination had been to charge up the middle by house hopping until we got to the school. I felt good, real good. My body was running young but my mind still had all the mileage of a hundred gunfights and small town raids and it was telling me don't get everyone around you killed right away. Plus, I had the eye in the sky and could work around the tough spots as much as possible.

Instead I was going to head out of town. Page was built on a low mesa and I wanted follow the edge around and come up to the school from behind. The town faded out on that side. We would have to cross a Catholic church grounds, a two lane road, and we enter from the rear where a sandy field was and some standalone classrooms that had been abandoned years ago.

We moved at a fast trot parallel to the cobblers house for a minute before jumping down into a shallow wash that I hoped would get deeper. It was beginning to burn nicely and smoke even nicer. Now it was going to about moving fast and not stupid. Especially after we freed the kids and others.

"Give me some feed Freya!" I shouted in my head. I doubted if she would be the one, I had already found that out, but it was I knew how to say. My guess is there were special coded words, somebody had probably worked "tactical" in there somewhere I was sure. I added. "And don't fucking hose me!"

Friday, September 16, 2011

Gone until Monday

We are heading for Pennsylvania for the weekend and I am unplugging from the Internet. I'll be back and writing by Tuesday.

Thanks as always for reading, and please leave a review, if you have time, for anything you read of mine.

Stay safe.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dakota Meyer. USMC Medal of Honor

I write stories. Fiction. There are people out there who live it. I never met him and probably never will but I wish him the best.


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Dakota Meyer saved 36 lives from an ambush in Afghanistan and the former Marine will collect the nation's highest military honor at the White House on Thursday. While he is receiving the Medal of Honor, Meyer's slain comrades will be memorialized in hometown ceremonies at his request.

His hero's moment was his darkest day. Meyer lost some of his best friends the morning of Sept. 8, 2009, in far-off Kunar Province.

"It's hard, it's ... you know ... getting recognized for the worst day of your life, so it's... it's a really tough thing," Meyer said, struggling for words.

Meyer charged through heavy insurgent gunfire on five death-defying trips in an armored Humvee to save 13 Marines and Army soldiers and another 23 Afghan troops pinned down by withering enemy fire. Meyer personally killed at least eight insurgents despite taking a shrapnel wound to one arm as he manned the gun turret of the Humvee and provided covering fire for the soldiers, according to the military.

President Barack Obama will bestow the medal at a White House ceremony. The two have also met privately, having a beer on a patio outside the Oval Office on Wednesday.

"Over the weekend, the President's staff called Meyer in preparation for Thursday's Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House. Meyer asked the staffer if he could have a beer with the President. POTUS invited Dakota to come by the White House this afternoon," spokesman Jay Carney tweeted.

In Afghanistan, Meyer was part of a security team supporting a patrol moving into a village in the Ganjgal Valley on the day of the ambush.

Meyer and the other Americans had gone to the area to train Afghan military members when, suddenly, the village lights went out and gunfire erupted. About 50 Taliban insurgents on mountainsides and in the village had ambushed the patrol.

As the forward team took fire and called for air support that wasn't coming, Meyer, a corporal at the time, begged his command to let him head into the incoming fire to help.

Four times he was denied his request before Meyer and another Marine, Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez, jumped into the Humvee and headed into the fray. For his valor, Rodriguez-Chavez, a 34-year-old who hailed originally from Acuna, Mexico, would be awarded the Navy Cross.

"They told him he couldn't go in," said Dwight Meyer, Dakota Meyer's 81-year-old grandfather, a former Marine who served in the 1950s. "He told them, 'The hell I'm not,' and he went in. It's a one-in-a-million thing" that he survived.

With Meyer manning the Humvee's gun turret, the two drew heavy fire. But they began evacuating wounded Marines and American and Afghan soldiers to a safe point. Meyer made five trips into the kill zone, each time searching for the forward patrol with his Marine friends — including 1st Lt. Michael Johnson — whom Meyer had heard yelling on the radio for air support.

With Meyer and Rodriguez-Chavez ready to test fate a fifth time in the kill zone, a UH-60 helicopter arrived at last to provide overhead support. Troops aboard the chopper told Meyer they had spotted what appeared to be four bodies. Meyer knew those were his friends and he had to bring them out.

"It might sound crazy, but it was just, you don't really think about it, you don't comprehend it, you don't really comprehend what you did until looking back on it," Meyer said.

Wounded and tired, Meyer left the relative safety of the Humvee and ran out on foot.

"He just really took a chance," Dwight Meyer said.

Ducking around buildings to avoid heavy gunfire, he reached the bodies of Johnson, a 25-year-old from Virginia Beach; Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, 30, of Roswell, Ga.; Corpsman James Layton, 22, of Riverbank, Calif.; and Edwin Wayne Johnson Jr., a 31-year-old gunnery sergeant from Columbus, Ga.

Meyer and two other soldiers dodged bullets and rocket-propelled grenades to pull the bodies out of a ditch where the men had died while trying to take cover.

The deaths of Meyer's comrades prompted an investigation into events that day, and two Army officers were later reprimanded for being "inadequate and ineffective" and for "contributing directly to the loss of life." Along with Meyer's friends, a fifth American — Army Sgt. Kenneth W. Westbrook, 41, of Shiprock, N.M. — was fatally wounded in the ambush.

Meyer said he'll be humbled by the memory of his fallen comrades as he receives the award Thursday. One of the memorials will be at a Columbus cemetery for gunnery sergeant Johnson, a father of three who served nearly 13 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Will Duke, one of the organizers, said the memorials spoke volumes about Meyer.

"I can tell by his actions, not only the actions he took in earning the Medal of Honor in Afghanistan but also the actions he is taking now. Essentially by requesting these memorial services for his fallen comrades, he's saying this is about them," Duke said.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 12c - by nova

Chapter 12c

The backyard was not that big but it had most of a privacy fence still intact. Freya motioned for me to go first though the back door and I stepped out into the yard. She didn't follow me, instead she stood in the doorway, and watched four of them quit drawing a map in the sand and stand up. They did it sharply too.

I watched them watch her. No doubt about it, they responded that quickly because they feared her, not cause she was wearing a long white cotton dress, and from the way the sun illuminated her, nothing else. The next thing that struck me was how they were outfitted. My first thought was. "Damn. They look more like the feds then the feds do."

They were wearing khaki colored uniforms. Uniform meaning exactly that. They were all cut the same which meant there was a factory making these somewhere. They all had helmets, fed helmets in the same color, their webbing and vests were leather, and they were extremely well armed.

Once again all the equipment looked standardized. AK-74's, grenades that looked like German WW II ones but with a bigger can on the end, an M240 machine gun, the belts for it looked different though, and a Barrett! These guys were packing some weight. I doubted they had but if they walked here they probably hated my guts. Two of them had sledge hammers on their backs in sheaths like I carried Sword. These guys must have been doing a lot of city fighting before coming here.

I studied the men while she talked. It was a quick once over because she didn't say much. It was your basic, "Do right, die right, make me and your families proud. I am with you." Then she left. I grinned when she did.

They were not what I expected and I was glad. Everyone of the four in front of me, and what I could see of the two pulling security, were over 30 years old. Even more surprising was that two of them were officers and the rest were senior NCO's.

I looked closer, they were wearing black stripes under their eye's, I had insisted on that way back when. No one was going to be wearing sunglasses around me, I was surprised it had stuck. They had also kept the Crow badge that was given for killing a number of the enemy under difficult conditions. They all were heavily tattooed with intricate designs that probably meant something if you could read them.

They were staring back at me, most definitely taking my measure too. Like the lady had said, "The clock was ticking" and I was beginning to feel uneasy. Fuck the speeches and idle chit chat about what was happening back in the NordLand.

"I want two fire teams of three. We move in bursts. First squad on me. Second squad burn this house down." I didn't bother to see if they understood or would burn the house down. Freya was gone, of that I was sure of. The rest of that motley bunch would vacate when they smelled smoke.

People all over what was once America hated my guts and most of them did the hating from new places because I had burnt their town down. My rule had been if you helped the feds you paid. Then you paid some more.

I hit the gap in the fence running while simultaneously mentally saying, "Freya. Show me." Instead of Freya responding I got the voice of a young woman with an Asian accent who told me, "This is Northern Arizona Control One, stand by for immediate area feed. "Jesus, the fucking bitch is outsourcing?" went through my head but was quickly flushed by the imagery that followed. I stumbled and my vision blurred, the data flow was like a fire hose, "God damn it!" I yelled. "Simplify that shit now!" I heard a "Standby" and got my vision and balance back. Just in fucking time too.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 12b - by nova

"G, you weren't listening to me were you."

"Yeah, I got the gist of it. Many bad people who want to kill me and a hostage situation."

"G..." She sighed, "Let me finish. You may be one of the best single combat warriors I have ever known."

I raised an eyebrow.

"I go back a long way Gardener..."

I let it slide. I knew I wasn't the best anyway. Max was. I wanted to ask her if she knew Hector and Ajax but I didn't want to end up discussing ancient history. Instead I said, "Okay."

"I brought you help too."

I started looking around. It would be awkward and great to see Max again. Ninja, well, that would be outstanding.

"They're out back G." She was amused.

I left the 30-30 but I grabbed the Lance. Freya saw that and said, "You don't need it anymore G." I stopped dead. She was right. I still felt great and so did my leg. A wide smile split my face, I told her, "You're right. This is awesome! When the hell did that happen?"

In a surprisingly gentle voice she told, "Enjoy it. The clock is ticking. Follow me."

When she turned her back I did a little skip hop dance move just for the pure joy of being able to. Damn, I hadn't realized how different it felt to have everything working, not hurting, and alive. I followed her, damn she had a great ass, and started looking forward to seeing Kat again. I bet we could find a closet somewhere. Oh yeah!

I focused again, Freya was talking again, something she loved to do, "Max and Ninja couldn't come. They're busy in Michigan and Ohio right now. We expect DC to fall within six months. Ninja asked for volunteers and your old unit, to a man, volunteered. He picked these from his personal security detachment."

I knew they wouldn't come but it still stung a bit. I was also curious about who and how many they had sent.

The Unknown - Chapter 12a - by nova

I evicted the 30-30 from its sheath and returned Sword to its home. I shrugged my shoulders and pulled on one of the harnesses straps to balance it a little better. That done I reached back, grabbed the hilt, screamed "Freya," and swept it forward and down into the counter. It was magic of the special kind. Sword cleaved the wood like it was bone and didn't stop until the end of the arc. God Damn if that didn't feel good. I pulled sword loose, that didn't go as smoothly which was just as well because it gave me time to amp what I was feeling down a bit.

I got Sword free and stepped back, much to my surprise I was panting a bit, not from exertion, rather the need to split some heads open and dump intestines on the ground. I wanted to hear screams of pain and smell their blood, fear, and urine as I sent them to hell.

Freya had stepped back about four paces and was watching me warily.

"I'm good. Give me the background and I'm gone."

She didn't seem convinced but she told me what I had to do. It was pretty simple, at least the way she told it. I listened, did my own calculations, and realized no way in hell, even in my prime, was I going to make it through this alive, let alone unscathed.

What I had was a hostage situation, inside an enemy held town, I was outnumbered significantly, and the feds had a team on the way to kill me if the Apaches didn't. The hostages were Navajo kids and Kat who were being held at the local school. Also being held were their families in a different part of the same building. Along the way were scattered teams who were supposed to kill me before I got to the kids. If that didn't work they would use the kids to flush me out and kill me for the reward and payback.

"Any questions?"

"No. Give me a feed and my legs back and I'm gone.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 12 - by nova

She smiled at me, the woman was incredibly lovely when she did, and reached back under the counter. My hand had never moved off my gun so we didn't have are little moment when she gently laid a burlap wrapped object on the counter where my boots had been. She looked at me calmly. I knew what it was and my breath caught in my throat along with my heart.


I didn't say it as a question either.


"I thought it was lost during the battle when...I couldn't finish it. I couldn't.

"No Gardener. Not lost. One of mine found it and brought it to me. You were thought to be dead so I sent it back to my hall to wait for you."

"It never occurred to you to return it after I was found alive?"

She shrugged, "I got busy. Sorry."

I glared at her. Then I mentally shrugged it off. She was very good at acting like a flake when it suited her but she was far from it.

I unwrapped it, held it in my hand, and stared at her. I liked the flicker of uncertainty in her eyes. She had taken Sword back because it could hurt her where nothing else would. It was of her time and named although I could never pronounce it correctly and I had gotten tired of her correcting me. She didn't speak to me for three days when I told I was going to call it Sword instead.

The blade was still blood smeared. It had never been cleaned since the last time I had used it. Memories of the day came flooding back in, none of them pleasant, the sound of automatic weapons burning ammo like they had an unlimited supply,which they did then, screams, dust in the air, noise of varying intensity from the explosions as they ripped us apart. We were falling back, trying to lose them, even the odds up by withdrawing deeper into the cover of the trees but it wasn't working. I stopped the tape right there and refocused.

"Why Freya? Why?"

I genuinely wanted to know.

She sighed, and for a second I saw the kid I knew once, "Because I was wrong about my power and theirs. They weren't warriors as I knew them. They were machines covered in metal and skin. They saw like I did but so much better and farther. They had power then G, unimaginable power, the power of the gods in their prime and they used it like angry children. I was so wrong then but I learned, oh yes I did." She grinned, if you want to call it that, I responded to that grin and felt the killing madness touch me.

I knew what she meant for I too had learned and a part of me wished I hadn't. Their way was cold, methodical and efficient. It was never my way but I had used it to kill them. In doing so it had quit being fun.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 11c - by nova

She was waiting for me on the other side of the counter just as old and tired looking as the last time. I stood there and stared at her, her eyes were brown, her breasts pendulous, and her smile stained. No, this wasn't Freya. This was just a woman stuck in a little town in the middle of nowhere trying to make it through another day. A description that fit almost every woman I had met in the past few decades.

"The old man giving you a hard time?"

"No. You got my boots?"

"You got your ticket?"

"You never gave me a ticket."

She squinted at me for a couple of beats and her face changed. A raspy chuckle, a wheeze, and she said "Oh yeah. The magic boots man. My sister took care of that. Hold on."

She shuffled off into the back and I took a look out the window. The old man was gone and the morning was giving way to afternoon. Nobody else was out in the street and the town was quiet. Too quiet. I didn't like it.

I turned around and she was there. Freya.

"Hey Kid."

"Hey Gardener."

"Who was the old lady?"

"My sister."

"Damn, she's ugly."

Freya laughed and sis's voice came from somewhere in the back, "I heard that."

"Yes. She didn't want believers so she is stuck for now in her old shell."

"That has to suck."

Freya didn't laugh. Not even a smile. "It does."

We stared at each other. I blinked first. She was the only person, and the person part was wrong which didn't make it feel any better, who could do that to me. Her eyes, they led places I wasn't willing to go. For the first time I wondered if Max looked away too. I doubted it.

"I would love to kill you." I told her.

"I know."

I thought I detected a trace of sadness in her voice. I ignored it.

"You deserve to die."

She shrugged. "By your standards I do. I wish I could tell you what I know but instead I am going to help you learn it yourself."

I just stared at her. I really wanted to shoot her right between those pretty blue eyes but I had tried that before. It didn't work then and I doubted if it would now. Instead I asked her, "How so, and whats the price?"

"Blood and my name."

The Unknown - Chapter 11b - by nova

Chapter 11b

I was happy that the shoe repair place wasn't to far from the edge of the desert. Then again, nothing in town was. I couldn't walk in a straight line because of having to weave around piles of horseshit which was unusual. Piles never stayed in the street very long. Not because there was a community employed horse shit janitor, no, it was a valuable commodity because the sand here was not ideal for growing anything you really wanted to eat other then stunted corn. These were fresh ones too. I was already walking next to building walls and watching windows so now I started easing around corners. I did slide past a window and caught a glimpse of a young lady getting dressed. That was both cheesy and cool. Mostly cheesy. Nice rack though.

I eased around the last corner before the cobblers and saw the old man with the eye patch sitting in a folding chair out front watching me. He yelled out, "Whatcha doing fella! Stealing chickens or looking for boobies!"

It took me a few beats to process "boobies" and put it in context. I felt my face flush and it didn't help that he started cackling like a demented idiot which I was sure he wasn't but one step or two removed from. I kept walking and when I was close enough enough that I didn't have to yell I told him, "shut the fuck up old man." He just cackled some more.

I brushed past him resisting the urge to wallop upside the head with the barrel of a gun.

"She's waiting for you. You give her something sweet and she might fix that bum leg of yours." I stopped dead, maybe a pace from the door, and quietly asked him, "You want to repeat that."

"I said talk sweet to her and she might fix your leg. She used to be a nurse."

I knew that wasn't what he said but I let it slide. Instead as I turned the doorknob I said over my shoulder, "You got a scorpion on your shirt by your armpit." His, "What! What! Where!" making me laugh as I stepped to one side of the door to let my eyes adjust to the dimness.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 11a - by nova

Not much was happening in town this early in the morning. I could smell wood smoke, horse shit and horses, it's amazing how far off you can smell horses, and bread cooking somewhere. That made my mouth water and my tummy rumble.

The problem, for me at least, was all the crows. What the hell was going on? A fucking crow convention? Plus they were keeping their beaks shut. Crows like to talk, scold, and generally shoot the crow crap with each other. These were just hanging out, staring at me, staring at each other, staring off into space.

Freya showing up in my dreams and all these crows was not what I considered a good omen. That, and the feel of the place had changed. Something wasn't right. The closer I got into town itself the stronger the feeling. It was the same feeling you get right before a storm or just before you made contact with people who didn't like you. "Damn" I thought. Let me get my boots back and find Kat before anything starts happening.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 11 - by nova

Chapter 11

When we were about 3 miles out of town I told her to stop the truck as I wanted to walk in to town.

"Okay Babe."

She hadn't stopped smiling and that was a little weird hearing myself called "Babe." I wasn't sure if I liked it or not. I did like that smile. I knew it was bogus but I felt more studly then I had in a long time.

"See you in town." With that, a little wave of the hand, and a foot on the accelerator, she was gone.

Watching her pull away I found she had also driven off with my studly feeling. Left in its place was a little bit of foolishness and a lot of alone. I shrugged it off and started walking. Not many minutes later I was cursing my loaner boots.

The air smelled clean and there was little to no wildlife noise. Not like Virginia where every morning in good weather the birds, and an occasional paranoid squirrel would be busy wildlifeing. Not here. Here is was slither and reptile crawl except for the occasional jack rabbit making a run for it. I liked it most of the time.

Having Lance was turning out to be a big help. My leg was still acting up but it was feeling a little better. My plan was to find a place to watch the town for a bit, go get my boots, and get a shower and change clothes. Maybe even a shave. If I got real lucky the place to eat might even have desserts.

I found a place to observe and got comfortable. I watched for about 15 minutes and realized I was hot, hungry and could be smelled from about a mile away from the horse blood. Plus the flies were annoying the hell out of me. I decided to hell with it. It was time to go get my boots back

The Unknown - Chapter 10d - by nova

Chapter 10d

I woke up due to a combination of things the foremost being pain and the other voices, one of which I recognized. The pain was from beating the hell out of the dashboard, my left hand hurt, and I was going to be seriously pissed if I had broken anything in it. The voice was Ty's who was telling someone, "Hell no. I'm not waking him up. You do it."

I snapped my head around to see him and Kat staring at me from six paces away. Ty looked ready to run and Kat actually looked concerned. I took a deep breath, looked up, blew it out, and told them, "I'm fine. Just a bad dream."

"No shit man." Ty said.

"Yeah, no shit." I told him tiredly. "We ready to go?"

"Yeah Gardener, we're ready. Give me the key Ty.

We pulled out, I looked back to see who else was watching and saw no one, Ty had gone back inside.

"You okay?"

"Yeah Kat, I'm fine."

"I get bad nightmares too. Lots of the older people do too."

I grinned, I knew I was one of the "older people" but I didn't say anything. She didn't correct it or tell me I wasn't one of the "older people" either.

She watched me for a minute or two out of the corner of her eye and realized I didn't have anything more to say on the subject so she dropped it. That made her smarter then 95% of the population I routinely dealt with.

We rolled on a bit and I watched as the false dawn put a little more light on the landscape.

"Beautiful country" I said out of nowhere and then mentally kicked myself. I hated people who made inane remarks just to fill airspace and what I just said sure as hell qualified as one. She just smiled, reached over and rested her hand on my thigh, and said "That was really impressive what you did back there."

"Carve up horse meat?"

She looked at me like I was nuts. "No. Not that." Then she reached a little higher up on my thigh and and squeezed.

"Oh yeah. That."

She was smiling, the truck was slowing down, her hand hadn't moved when she touched the brake and shifted into park.

She turned a little bit in the seat so she could look at me directly, the smile deepened, and she told me, "I want your baby."

I didn't argue.

The Unknown - Chapter 10c - by nova

Chapter 10c

I had been having nightmares since I was old enough to remember. The only difference over the years was the theme and my reactions inside the dream. One of the reasons I slept alone for the last few decades was my habit of punching and kicking who ever was lying next to me. Not intentionally, it was a reaction to the battles I was fighting in the dreamworld. I always felt bad about it, apologized profusely, and after the third time it happened I was back to sleeping alone.

I never knew when a dream was going to be a nightmare. They just were. This one started nicely enough for a nightmare. I was sitting in the woods on a log screened by some half assed bushes from the meadow that was beyond. The day was sunny and in this dream I felt young which was one of the few good things I liked about dreams.

Then it went downhill. The sunlight faded, in my dream I looked up at the sky to see if clouds were rolling in but there was no sky. I looked back down and the bushes were gone and a crow, a large one, a very large one, was there instead.

I said, "Hello crow."

"Hello Gardener."

I recognized the voice and decided, told myself,"screw this, I'm going to wake up." In the dream I was blinking my eyes rapidly but the damn crow was still there.

"I'm still here." Then she giggled.

"Yeah. I noticed. Why the crow suit?"

"I don't know. I thought I would wing it?"

"That was lame Freya. Lame as you showing up here."

The crow sighed which I thought was kind of cool for some bizarre dream reason.

"I thought we should talk."

"Why? I'm done with you. We went through all this a long time ago."

I was talking to nothing before I finished saying this, the crow disappeared and Freya, the version I remembered was standing there except she looked more like Cate Blanchett then usual. I was okay with that. I liked Cate Blanchett a lot better. Then she ruined it by talking.

"What happened was just that. You never did understand what I showed you so long ago. I forgive you for that and I have decided..."

"Forgive me! FORGIVE ME! Fuck you bitch!" I was on my feet and running at her. I was going to beat the hell out of her. Then maybe I would kill her.

The Unknown - Chapter 10b - by nova

Chapter 10b

We had to give up on cutting up the horse meat after awhile. There wasn't enough light to work by and we were all tired. Working with sharp knives by moonlight when you're tired was a great way to end up hurt bad. Nowadays my guess was infections killed more people then guns did which was saying something. Child birth was back to being a big deal and so was breaking a bone.

Since Powerdown Women's rights had taken a major step back, at least 100 years worth of stepping. Not because men decided it, childbirth, kid shepherding, and the division of physical labor made it happen. The attitudes that went with it a 100 years ago had tried to make a comeback but with women who knew how to use a gun, and probably had, it didn't get far. I had noticed most of the old school fundie communities disarmed their women.

Then again there were women like Kat who hadn't stepped back at all and never would. She would and probably had paid for it. The Dine culture, from the little I knew, was unusual in that women had always had a voice in how things were run. It occurred to me this might be why they were never a warrior society and I almost asked Ty what he thought but decided not too. It might start a conversation and I wasn't really in the mood.

I halfway listened to Ty and Kat talk about what restaurant would be best to sell the meat at, there were only two, so you would think that would have been a conversation that only two minutes, but no. Then it was who would have a truck or a cart near enough to help harvest the rest. They they talked about what to do with the Apache bodies. I went to sleep only waking up every couple of minutes when my head bounced up down harder then normal as we hit another hole, stone, or washout in the road.

I sleepwalked through the off loading of the meat and when the palaver about what had happened and what needed to happen began I told Kat I would be in the truck waiting. Since we weren't moving I actually drifted off into a deep sleep. Something that was unusual for me when I wasn't in a secure place to do it.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Thanks for your support and comments. I really appreciate it.

The Unknown - Chapter 10 by nova

Chapter 10

I didn't think about it very long, maybe all one beat before I switched my brain over to processing important stuff like the fact I was hungry, my feet hurt, and now I was going to have to come up with a new plan or two or three. I didn't bother moving of my horse haunch chair, instead I did a quick scan of most of the scene and focused on how Kat and Ty were doing. He was digging. She was staring at the hole he was creating. An efficient allocation of labor. Not.

Once upon a time I would have got up and suggested she find something to do or her squad leader would have. I let it go. I liked her, a lot, and I had also rediscovered sex with her and found I liked that a lot too. So I sat and ran what what No Name had told me and what I thought it meant.

Killing me was no big deal. There were more of them which wasn't a big deal either. What it did mean was who ever was in charge was somewhere else, probably in town or camped near it. It also told me they had enough people that this leader could send eight people out and still have enough left to maintain security. He, or less likely but still possible she, would have come in person with them unless there was enough people left behind that they didn't feel comfortable leaving. That meant more then ten but less than twenty as the grazing and hunting around here wasn't good enough for more then that. Even then they would have to move every couple of days.

The feds? This was a long way for them to reach out and they were having problems elsewhere. The people they had in town had been for a negotiation and business venture, not a strike team, or they wouldn't have had to hire contractors for security. They might send in a team to kill me, god knows they hated my guts enough, but I didn't plan on sticking around long.

Their advantage was the same as it had always been, tech, but I was willing to gamble that they wouldn't send any of their remaining drones for a couple of days. That gave me a window of 48 hours to wrap it up here and begin the advance back to Salt Lake.

Once I got us into Saint territory the drone masters would be less willing to follow due to political reasons. It also helped that the Saints had their own anti drone tech and didn't hesitate to use it. Like everything else the feds created, drones weren't cheap but countermeasures were. Directed EMP blasts were easy to do and if you weren't using electronics the advantage was all yours. I figured that was a large enough window of time that I could get my old boots back, eat, get laid, and kill some more people.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 9e by nova

Chapter 9e

"So you have a name?" I asked him.


"Hmmm...How do you get your mail"?

He looked at me blankly for a second,barked a one syllable laugh, and said, "That worlds gone Gardener. Long gone."

He and I looked at each other and what passed between us was what I called "The Knowledge." Every once in a while you would be talking, sometimes in a group, sometimes not, usually there would only be two of us old enough to understand, and somebody would say something about the old world. You and the other survivor from then would lock eyes for a second and exchange the look. That look said "We know. We were there. The rest of you don't. It's just tales from a world you can't even comprehend, but we do. We were there." Usually it was followed by a flicker of sadness, of pain, of old memories that still retained their sharp edge, and then it was locked away. A ripple that passed unnoticed unless you had "The Knowledge."

"Yeah. Now that we had our moment" I told him lets talk about today. What the fuck were you doing here?"

"Looking for you."

I checked his shirt out, perhaps I had gone a little to do deep prodding him. Time to skip over superfluous stuff.

"Anymore of you?"

"Yeah. We ain't alone either. Some weird shit is going on here. Should have stayed home this time." He paused, sighed a low, "Oh man" and shut his eyes for a couple of beats.

"Hey. How many?"

He open his eyes, I could see he was slipping away, shock was already there, death was slipping through the door into his room.

"Go in peace no name."

He blinked and was gone. I watched his skin color change as his life slipped away and wondered why the hell I had said that.