Grey Man snippet…

Another round of brain drippings…

Comments/recommendations appreciated as always.

Active Operations

Cronin and Menendez walked around the garden at the embassy slowly, enjoying the mild weather as Menendez mulled over the best way to handle the plan to destroy the three labs. He flicked ashes off his cigarette, looked up at the blue skies and colorful birds flying overhead and said, “I don’t have any extras to send down. You want to do this ASAP, right?”

“I’d like to do it in the next couple of days, preferably tomorrow night. It’s supposed to be minimal moonlight and possibly raining. That’s going to keep people in, and the less people that see us drive up the road, the better.”

“How are you going to make yourself less…recognizable? You do sort of standout.”

Cronin laughed. “Boonie hat down tight over the hair, camo on the face, and everybody in generic gray worker’s coveralls. Plus, it’s going to be dark.”

“Okay. You’ve got five. If I go, that makes six. Two per site, but none of the others have worked with me in the field. Do you trust me in the field, John?”

“You’re my boss. I have to trust you. I’ll take you with me, rather than pairing one of the others with you.”

“You still didn’t answer my question, John.”

Cronin shrugged. “I don’t know. I haven’t seen you operate.”

Menendez shook his head in exasperation. “You are one stubborn bastard, aren’t you?”

“What you see is what you get with me. Are you in or out?”

“Oh hell, I’m in. Where and what time are we leaving?”

“Twenty-one hundred from the warehouse. Shave and a haircut is the access knock in the alley.”

“I’ll be there. Consider this your approval for the op.”

A Marine lance corporal interrupted them, “Mr. Menendez, you have a secure call in Mr. Morgan’s office. He requested we find you immediately.”

“Thank you, Lance Corporal. We’re on our way. John, you might as well come with me.”

Cronin followed the two of them back into the embassy, and Menendez continued on up to Morgan’s office with him in tow. Walking in, Morgan indicated the phone. “You’re secure. It’s your boss. Press the handset button to talk.”

Menendez spoke for a couple of minutes, then listened as he wrote notes on a pad of paper next to the phone. He nodded a couple of times, then said, “Yes, sir,” a couple of times and hung up. He sighed and turned to Morgan. “Got any topo maps handy for Colombia?”

“What scale do you want,” Morgan asked as he opened the safe, “I have charts and maps, both.”

“I need one that’s got Boquerón and the surrounding area, like zero four seventeen forty-five north, seventy-four thirty-three forty-five west.”

Morgan sorted through various maps and charts, finally pulled one, and brought it over to the conference table. Menendez said, “John, your raid is off, you’ve got tasking, so you might as well look at this.”

“Tasking?”

Menendez took a compass and protractor from Morgan and made an X on the map at the latitude and longitude he’d read off. “They got a FLIR hit last night up here. Looked like the right size for a generator and maybe something else. Saw what were probably a couple of people based on the heat signatures. Based on the location, higher thinks it’s the major drug lab above Boquerón that we’ve been looking for. The raw coca pasta has been traced from Peru to that area, and it disappears. A week or so later, pure coke is showing up in Melgar or Tolemaida and getting loaded on airplanes for the States or Europe, so they are processing it somewhere in that area. If this is the big lab, higher wants us to get it under surveillance.”

“Why?”

Menendez held up a hand. “You’re here, and you have a team ready to hit a lab in the jungle. This is just a different part of the jungle down here.”

Cronin quickly took a pair of dividers and walked them down the side of the chart. “That’s damn near six hundred fifty miles from here. How are we supposed to get up there? Fly?”

Menendez and Morgan shared a look, and Morgan said, “The King Air is here.”

Menendez nodded. “John, how long would it take you to get your team to the airport?”

“I’d like to wait until after dark. Seeing us getting on a US airplane would…blow our covers.” He scratched his head and continued, “And what about equipment, food, comms?”

“Gimme a list of what you need for…three days.”

***

Just after midnight, the King Air took off from Quito, headed to Bogotá. A little before zero three hundred, they were bundled off the airplane and into a hangar on the military side of the Bogotá airport, where they were met by Darrell Mason. “Hey, John. Fancy meeting you here. I understand you need some gear?”

Cronin shook hands with him. “Yeah, we’ve got basic loadout, but we need food, water, and climbing ropes, and probably a bunch of other stuff I’m forgetting. Oh yeah, and what about inserting us?”

Pointing to a pile of stuff in the hangar, he replied, “I’ve got everything I could get my hands on. The only rats I could get are MCIs[1], but I got two cases, so you have some choices. And I got enough canteens for everybody to carry two. The climbing ropes are new, but they’re only two hundred feet long, and I could only get a dozen carabiners. You good for weapons?”

“Yeah, we’re good on weapons and ammo. What about inserting us?”

Policia Nacional Huey, flown by our guys at sunrise. Two others are also going to be up, one going to Boquerón, one to Melgar, delivering extra officers. Your bird will drop you in the next valley over from the location, so you’ll have a bit of a hike, and it’s also going to be a combat drop, so you’ll be jumping off as quickly as possible. I got you two Prick ninety radios, hard set to twenty-eight twenty-eight, we’ll have birds up, and they should be able to get two-way comms with you. Figure pickup…today is Tuesday, so pickup will be Thursday around fifteen hundred at the same location. That will give you about thirty-six hours to observe the location and collect intel.”

“Collect only? No action?”

Mason nodded. “Not unless things go bad and you get spotted. If that happens, you’re authorized to take it out if it is a drug lab, and if you can do so with minimal impact. They really want the Policia Nacional to make the takedown. They need some good publicity.”

“Shit. We gotta play politics again? What the hell?”

Mason shrugged. “Don’t ask me, John. I know the ambassador had another meeting with the president Friday, and apparently there is pressure being applied for the police to step up and start arresting some of these drug kingpins and enforcers. Hell, we can’t even go out without an escort vehicle anymore in Medellin or Cali, and Bogotá is getting damn near as bad. Ambassador has requested more DSS[2] folks, and the Marines are running on combat alert most days.”

“That sucks.” He turned and raised his voice, “Muster over here, guys. You get your pick of the finest in military rations to carry for the next couple of days, and two canteens apiece. Two of you need to pick up ropes, and somebody needs to grab a radio. I’ll carry the other one. We go in about two hours.”

 

Felix headed for the MCIs first, and ripped the cases open, groaning, “Aw man, not this shit again. I ain’t eatin’ ham and motherfuckers or beef and rocks again, much less beans and baby dicks.” He kept digging and throwing the M-2 packets aside, and finally found some M-1 packets at the bottom of the case. “Ah, there you are.” He pulled out three of the packets and set them aside. “Three days’ worth, right?”

Cronin nodded and smiled. “I take it you don’t like the M-Two rats?”

Felix shook his head. “Not in the least, I was junior when I was in ‘Nam, so I got the leftovers, which was always that shit.”

Pasquale picked up an M-2 packet and asked curiously, “What is wrong with them?”

Felix started to answer, and Cronin held up a hand. “Padre, not everybody likes the ham and beans or the beef and potatoes.”

Pasquale picked up three of them and shrugged. “It is food. That is all a hungry person needs to know. I will gladly eat this, it is much better than nothing, or rats, if one is fast.” He glanced at Felix. “I’m sure you have never been truly hungry, my friend. If you had, you would never complain.”

“I…no, Padre, you’re right. I’ve never been truly that hungry. I…apologize.”

Pasquale laid a hand on Felix’s shoulder, “No hay problema.” He took three of the packets and loaded them in his pack as the rest picked through and picked out meals. Cronin waited until everyone else had finished and laughed. The only thing left were M-2 meals, Well, I guess everyone else listened to Felix. Now I’m stuck with them, but at least the desserts are good.

***

Two hours later, the Huey bounced on its skids and the crew chief was yelling, “Out, out! We gotta move!” The five of them had barely cleared the rotor arc when the Huey lifted off, buried the nose, and chased after the other two helos. Cronin sneezed, coughed, and finished wiping his eyes, then looked around.

The five of them were spread over about 20 yards, and he coughed one more time, then said, “Circle up.” When everyone was in a small circle and had taken a knee, he pointed to the chart and then the ridgeline to their north. “That’s what we have to cross. Supposedly the possible coke lab is on the other side, a couple of hundred yards northeast of where we are. But if we try that right now, we’ll be exposed to anyone that comes driving up the road.” He pointed to a copse of trees at the foot of the ridge. “Let’s get over there and bivouac for the day. I don’t know about y’all, but I could damn sure use a little sleep.”

He looked at them and saw a round of nods, then Pasquale got up. “I take point. This is my world.”

“Okay Padre, Patron you’re number two, I’m number three, Norte is number four, and Rojo is number five. Lead on Padre.” They scuttled across the road one at a time, then trailed loosely through the brush and scrub until they got to the tree line. Padre found a bit of a hollow in the center of the copse of trees, knelt and waited for the others to catch up.

Cronin looked around and nodded. “Good call, Padre. We’ll stay here until late afternoon. Two hour watches, same order.”

Hector asked, “No fire?” Which provoked a round of laughter from the others. He sighed and said, “No fire. I get it. I am tired. Padre wake me in two.” Everyone flopped down and got as comfortable as they could, using packs for pillows and stripping off their LBEs. Taking out his radio, Cronin looked at the time and saw he had ten minutes before he could turn it on and try a report. Padre dropped his pack and circled the bivouac as everyone else dropped off to sleep, constantly moving and keeping a watch toward the road.

At the top of the hour, he put the earpiece in and turned on the PRC-90. Holding it close to his mouth, he said, “High boy, high boy, team three, team three.”

He repeated the call three more times before a voice came back. “Team three, high boy. Go.”

“Team three is holding until this afternoon to climb hill. No cover. Will report in the morning, same time.”

“High boy copies team holding, no cover. Next report tomorrow same time.”

“Roger, High boy. Team three out.” He turned the radio off, took out the earpiece, and slipped it back in his pack, then lay down and went to sleep.

Fernando kicked Cronin’s foot, and when Cronin looked up at him said softly, “It’s time. The shadows are starting to cover the hill.”

Gracias, everyone else up?”

Si, Lobo.” Cronin groaned as he rolled over and pushed himself to his feet, then shouldered his pack. Looking around, he saw that everyone else was ready to move out, and he quickly took a piss against a tree, then motioned for Pasquale to lead out.

Pasquale took a route up the hill at an angle, staying to what little cover there was, and topped out a half hour later. He crawled over the crest, staying low and waited as everyone cleared the top of the ridge, and Fernando was facing back over the top of the ridge. A stray gust of wind had them wrinkling their noses, and Hector said, “Definitely cooking coke. That smell is pretty distinctive.”

Cronin nodded. “Came from east of us. Let’s move west and see if we can find a path or something that will get us down in the trees. I don’t want to come down right on top of them. Padre?”

“Si,” he pointed to the southwest. “It looks like there is a place down there that is less of a drop.” Less than an hour later, they were down in the tree line, and moving slowly back to the northeast, occasionally catching stronger and stronger whiffs of the acetone used in the manufacture of the cocaine. Pasquale held up a hand, and everyone dropped to a knee as Cronin eased forward. “Lobo, you hear that?”

Cronin shook his head. “No, what do you…” he got a whiff of diesel fumes, “Generator? I just smelled diesel.”

Si, I hear a diesel running.”

Fernando crouched next to them. “Lobo, I will go. Padre has been on point the whole time. I will give him a break.”

Pasquale started to argue, then sat back on his haunches, “Gracias, Rojo. It is a bit nerve wracking. I will take your position.”

Cronin shrugged. “Go ahead. We will stay here.” He turned to Felix and Hector. “Break time. Rojo is going to see where they are. Patron, you have the watch.” Hector nodded, and Cronin found a convenient tree to lean back against after he took his pack off and took a drink from his canteen.

Just as darkness closed in, Fernando came back, kneeling next to Cronin as everyone crowded around. “Found it. It is maybe two hundred yards further up, and a little above us. Generator is running outside a cave, and a big fan too. It appears to be pushing air into the cave. I saw a trail running down the hill, but no vehicle track. I don’t know how they got the generator up here. It also looks like they have a couple of guards. I saw one at the cave entrance with a gun.”

“Good enough. We’ll stay here tonight. I don’t see any point in trying to watch them in the dark. Everybody rack out, same watchbill. We need to dig a slit trench back up under the overhang.”

He saw the others looking at each other, and Hector finally said, “We don’t have a shovel.”

“Well, shit. That was what I forgot.” He sighed. “I’ll go dig one with my knife. Padre, you have the watch.” Well, that was stupid. I should have thought of a damn e-tool, but we’ve been doing ops that didn’t require us staying out. I’m losing it. He got up and climbed up until he was under the overhang and between a couple of smaller trees, then started digging out blocks of topsoil. He finally got it deep enough to satisfy him, took a piss, and eased back down to where the others were. Pasquale came over and he said, “The big tree, straight up hill ten steps. Between two small trees.”

Pasquale nodded and he took off his LBE, lay down, and was asleep in minutes.

***

 

Cronin finished his chopped ham and eggs, burped, and took a drink from his canteen. I really wish we could have a fire. I really need a cup of coffee. He gnawed on the two chocolate disks, At least these have caffeine in them. Maybe that will wake my ass up. He got up and walked up to the slit trench, did his business, dumped some dirt on top of it, and came back to find Pasquale, Hector, and Felix waiting on him. Fernando was lying on the ground, sound asleep, and that made Cronin revise his plan a bit.

“Listen up. Norte, you’ve got back trail and camp watch until Rojo wakes up. Padre has the initial watch on the cave. Patron and I will check out the trail down the hill. Back here in two hours, and I’ll make the morning report, then we’ll trade out watch positions.”

He saw nods all around, and the three of them headed toward the cave. They found a good point to watch the cave from, and then he and Hector backtracked then down the hill to intercept the trail they could see that ran down hill through a ravine. “Shit, there is a vehicle track down there,” he said, pointing to a dirt track that climbed out of the valley.”

Hector pointed to the left. “There is a building down there too. Maybe a house, maybe a…warehouse?”

“Could be. Let’s go see what we’ve got.”

A few minutes later, Hector grabbed his arm and whispered urgently, “Detener. Oigo ladrar de perro.”

Cronin sank to his knees, then tested the wind. “Shit. I don’t want to get any closer if there is a dog down there.” He pulled binoculars out of his pack and scanned what he could see of the buildings. “Looks like an older place, with a newer out building. But I don’t see any fencing. I wonder?” He shook his head. “Not worth it. We might as well go back. Maybe we can get a better look at the cave from below.”  Hector nodded, and they started back up the trail.

They were about thirty yards below the cave mouth when they saw a guard drag a female out of the cave, lean her up against the big fan, and proceed to fumble under her dress. Hector started to go past him, but Cronin pulled him back. “We’re here to observe. That’s not right but there isn’t a lot—”

Hector replied, “Tell that to Padre.”

Cronin jerked his gaze up to see Pasquale coming up behind the guard, knife in hand. “Gahdammit. Pasquale, you sumbitch, you’re going to get us in a world of shit.” Pasquale slit the guard’s throat, grabbed the female and started leading her away from the cave mouth. Just as he turned his back, another guard came out of the cave, saw his partner, and raised his rifle. Cronin slapped the De Lisle to his shoulder, got a sight picture, and smoothly pressed the trigger, hitting the guard in the temple. The guard dropped as Cronin charged up the hill, saying loudly to Hector, “Get everybody up and over here. We’ve got to take the cave now. Otherwise we’re dead.”

He took off his pack and ran toward the cave mouth as Hector cut toward where their camp was, as Cronin cussed under his breath about dyed in the wool Catholics. He ran across the front of the cave, seeing what looked like a piece of canvas hung in the opening and skidded to a stop by the generator, How the hell am I going to explain this? Got no damn choice. Got to figure out how to get…at least the guards out here. Cut the generator? Or will they come looking when their buddies don’t come back? Dammit…

He noted the dead guard’s pants were around his ankles and chuckled, Bet you didn’t expect that ending, did you? He sensed movement behind him and turned, rifle in hand. The others were there, and he asked, “Padre, did you find out how many guards?”

Si, cinco. Twenty workers and one chemist.”

“Where is the female?”

“She is going to Nilo. She is from there. All of the workers were…forced to work, and…other things.”

“I really wish you hadn’t let her go. Now we’re—”

Hector raised the suppressed .22 and fired over Cronin’s shoulder, taking another guard between the eyes.

Pointing to the three bodies, he said, “Drag them out of the way. I’m going to kill the generator and see if that brings the other two out. Get to cover and make damn sure you’re not in a crossfire situation.” He opened the panel on the generator and flipped the master switch to off. As the generator died, he saw a pile of five gallon cans behind it, So they are hand carrying fuel up here. That’s got to suck.

He took up a position behind the generator, the De Lisle at his shoulder and waited. A minute or so later, they heard a voice calling out for Jose, probably one of the guards. When there wasn’t an answer, there was more back and forth behind the canvas, then another guard came out, pulling suspenders over his shoulders, his rifle between his knees. Cronin pressed the trigger and he dropped where he stood.

He leaned the De Lisle against the generator, drew his 1911, and headed for the entrance, knowing the next person would raise the alarm. As he reached the canvas, he came face to face with an older man in a white coat and thick glasses. He grabbed him by the lapel and swung him through the entrance, then continued into the cave, This is about dumber than dirt. I can’t see shit in here. Hopefully nobody else can either. And it’s probably not a good idea to fire a gun in here, unless I want to blow everything including myself up. He quickly holstered his pistol and took out the Bowie, then moved quietly toward the voice that seemed to be ordering people around. He dimly saw a wooden bunk in front of him and moved slowly around it. Smelling cigarette smoke on the man, he heard the clack of a rifle bolt going home. He reached out, grabbed the man by the shoulder, pulled him around and sank the Bowie into his pelvic area, ripped up, then pulled it out and cut across where he thought the neck was. The man collapsed just as Felix tore the canvas down, flooding the cave with light.

“No guns! Don’t shoot in here, it will blow us all to hell!”

Somebody turned a flashlight on and swept it over the interior as Cronin backed toward the entrance. “I’m going to start the generator. We need to see what’s what in here.” He glanced over to see Fernando with a knife at the throat of the guy he’d thrown out the entrance as he ran over to the generator. He got it started again, and heard the fan start back up, then walked over to Fernando. “Any good information, Rojo?”

“Enough. And he has it all written down in a green book inside.”

The others herded the remaining people out, and they sat on the ground as directed, while Fernando followed the chemist back to his area and picked up the notebook. Fernando came out with the book as he sheathed his knife. “This we need, him we do not.”

Felix came up. “All these folks are kidnapped workers from the towns and villages around here. There is a house down the hill that is where the drugs are stored, along with the chemicals and diesel. They make the workers carry the shit up and down by themselves. Those six were the enforcers. I’d say let them go home.”

“Will they talk?”

Felix shook his head. “No. They will disappear into the woodwork. They know if they talk they will die.”

Cronin looked at his watch and cussed, “Dammit, it’s not even eight yet. I don’t know if we can get an extract on this short a notice. Ah hell, rig the cave. Put it on a… two hour timer. That should give us time to get over the hill, and I don’t think any of these people can get to anyone that can respond in time.

Two hours later, the cave and part of the hill above it disappeared in a cloud of fire and dust as a Policia Nacional helicopter landed on the road on the other side of the ridge.

[1] Meals, Combat, Individual

[2] Diplomatic Security Service

Humor…

  1. The nicest thing about the future is . . .. That it always starts tomorrow.
  1. Money will buy a fine dog, but only kindness will make him wag his tail.

3.. If you don’t have a sense of humor, you probably don’t have any sense at all.

  1. Seat belts are not as confining as wheelchairs.
  1. A good time to keep your mouth shut is when you’re in deep water.
  1. How come it takes so little time for a child who is afraid of the dark to become a teenager who wants to stay out all night?
  1. Business conventions are important. . .because they demonstrate how many people a company can operate without.
  1. Why is it that at class reunions you feel younger than everyone else looks?
  1. Scratch a cat . . . And you will have a permanent job.
  1. No one has more driving ambition than the teenage boy who wants to buy a car.
  1. There are no new sins; the old ones just get more publicity.
  1. There are worse things than getting a call for a wrong number at 4 a..m. – like, it could be the right number.
  1. No one ever says “It’s only a game” when their team is winning.
  1. I’ve reached the age where ‘happy hour’ is a nap.
  1. Be careful about reading the fine print. . . . there’s no way you’re going to like it.
  1. The trouble with bucket seats is that not everybody has the same size bucket.
  1. Do you realize that, in about 40 years, we’ll have thousands of old ladies running around with tattoos? (And rap music will be the Golden Oldies!)
  1. Money can’t buy happiness — but somehow it’s more comfortable to cry in a Cadillac than in a Yugo.
  1. After 60, if you don’t wake up aching in every joint, you’re probably dead.
  1. Always be yourself because the people that matter don’t mind . . .. . And the ones that mind don’t matter.
  2. Life isn’t tied with a bow . .. . .. . .. . But it’s still a gift

And last but not least-

As I watched the dog chasing his tail, I thought dogs are easily amused…

Then I realized I was watching the dog chase his tail.

Sigh…

Resetting the ‘agenda’…

Our friend, Ray Carter, may he rest in peace, predicted this when Obergefell hit…

The emergence and spread of the contrary idea — that “gender is a ubiquitous prison of the mind” — can be traced to a precise point in time: the six months following the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision, which declared same-sex marriage a constitutional right. Almost immediately after that decision was handed down, progressive activists took up the cause of championing transgender rights as the next front in the culture war.

Full article by Damon Leek at The Week, HERE.

Ray said then that gays and lesbians would be dumped by the left, since they’d ‘gotten’ the recognition that the progs had pushed for. He grumbled that gays had been ‘used’ to strike back at the US in what he considered to be a monumentally stupid push to break down America, the institution of marriage, and the church. Ray had been on the forefront of the gay movement in Seattle, a member of the original Pink Pistols, and worked for the 2nd Amendment Foundation, so he knew of which he spoke.

Ray loved to take on the protesters at various NRA meetings, much to the delight of the bystanders when he went high queen on them, and inevitably left them without anything to counter his arguments and ‘obvious’ gayness with… (I actually watched a Houston PD mounted patrolman almost fall off his horse, he was laughing so hard.)

Maybe it’s a good thing Ray’s gone, because I don’t think his blood pressure would have stood up to what is going on.

Well, well, well…

Isn’t THIS speshul…

Two mystery litigants citing privacy concerns are making a last-ditch bid to keep secret some details in a lawsuit stemming from wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein’s history of paying underage girls for sex.

From Politico, HERE.

Looks like the cockroaches are running for the darkness…

And speaking of darkness, 50-70K are without power in NYC, and this rates HOURS of coverage??? Come down south when high winds/tornadoes hit, and you get that many without power for DAYS! Link HERE. Currently 120,000 without power in South Louisiana!

And for most of the MSM, this knocked Hurricane Barry hitting NOLA off the news! Really???

From the NOAA Hurricane Center 2200 Warning-

Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge
and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances. For
information specific to your area, please see products issued by
your local National Weather Service forecast office.

RAINFALL:  Barry is expected to produce total rain accumulations of
8 to 15 inches over south-central Louisiana and southwest
Mississippi, with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches.  Across the
remainder of the Lower Mississippi Valley, total rain accumulations
of 4 to 8 inches are expected, with isolated maximum amounts of 12
inches.  This rainfall is expected to lead to dangerous, life-
threatening flooding.

WIND:  Tropical storm conditions are occurring across portions of
the Tropical Storm Warning area, and these conditions should persist
into Sunday morning.  Wind gusts to tropical-storm force in
squalls are possible along portions of the coasts of Mississippi,
Alabama, and the western Florida Panhandle through tonight.

TORNADOES:  A couple of tornadoes are possible through Sunday across
portions of Louisiana, southern and western Mississippi, and
southern and eastern Arkansas.

Sorry, but NYC is NOT the center of the USA’s universe. The asshole, maybe; but definitely NOT the center…

And the rest of us really don’t care!

h/t Stretch

Sigh…

This is sad but think about it, almost exactly what the MSM would report if WWII had occurred today…

Remarkable – yet after reading it, I have no doubt based on  the way the current Main Stream Media reporting things today – this has a high probability of exactly how they would have reported those events today!

How the D-Day Invasion Would Have Been Reported By Today’s MSM.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

UNITED STATES INVADES FRANCE!

NORMANDY, FRANCE (June 6, 1944) Three hundred French civilians were killed and thousands more were wounded today in the first hours of America’s invasion of continental Europe. Casualties were heaviest among women and children.

Most of the French casualties were the result of artillery fire from American ships 
attempting to knock out German fortifications prior to the landing of hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops. Reports from a makeshift hospital in the French town of St. Mere Eglise said the carnage was far worse than the French had anticipated, and that reaction against the American invasion was running high.

“We are dying for no reason,” said a Frenchman speaking on condition of anonymity. “Americans can’t even shoot straight. I never thought I’d say this, but life was better under Adolph Hitler.”

The invasion also caused severe environmental damage. American troops, tanks, trucks and machinery destroyed miles of pristine shoreline and thousands of acres of ecologically sensitive wetlands. It was believed that the habitat of the spineless French crab was completely wiped out, thus threatening the species with extinction. A 
representative of Greenpeace said his organization, which had tried to stall the invasion for over a year, was appalled at the destruction, but not surprised.

“This is just another example of how the military destroys the environment without a second thought,” said Christine Moanmore. “And it’s all about corporate greed.”

Contacted at his Manhattan condo, a member of the French government-in-exile who abandoned Paris when Hitler invaded, said the invasion was based solely on American financial interests. “Everyone knows that President Roosevelt has ties to ‘big beer’,” said Pierre Le Wimp. “Once the German beer industry is conquered, Roosevelt’s beer cronies will control the world market and make a fortune.”

Administration supporters said America’s aggressive actions were based in part on the 
assertions of controversial scientist Albert Einstein, who sent a letter to Roosevelt 
speculating that the Germans were developing a secret weapon — a so-called “atomic bomb.”  Such a weapon could produce casualties on a scale never seen before, and cause environmental damage that could last for thousands of years. Hitler has denied having such a weapon and international inspectors were unable to locate such 
weapons even after spending two long weekends in Germany.

Shortly after the invasion began, reports surfaced that German prisoners had been abused by American soldiers. Mistreatment of Jews by Germans at their so-called “concentration camps” has been rumored, but so far this remains unproven.

Several thousand Americans died during the first hours of the invasion, and French officials are concerned that the uncollected corpses will pose a public-health risk. “The Americans should have planned for this in advance,” they said. “It’s their mess, and we don’t intend to help clean it up.”

The invasion is blamed on Roosevelt’s hawkish military advisers and the influence of British Prime Minister Churchill, who have repeatedly ignored calls for a negotiated settlement to end the war and who have reportedly rejected peace overtures from Germany through several neutral parties. Instead, the Roosevelt administration and its allies have chosen to insist on maintaining their extreme policy of demanding 
unconditional surrender.

There have been notable voices of opposition from sports figures and celebrities decrying the horrific violence and saying that this is not who we are.

Thankfully, we had reporters like Ernie Pyle, Andy Rooney, Edward R. Murrow, Eric Sevareid, Ernest Hemingway, and others who actually REPORTED the news, not their personal spins on the news.

Busy writing…

So you get… humor?

This was earlier this week, and with a TC/hurricane coming, and the possibility of 18-20 inches of rain, they could be in trouble. Add in 3-6 feet of possible storm surge that ‘could’ make it to NOLA, and that could overtop the levees, since the Mississippi is at around 17 feet, and some of the levees are only 18 feet-20 feet.

TBT…

Back in the day pics…

NAS Jacksonville, 1986 just prior to the balloon festival. In order, VP-5, 16, 24, 45, 49, 56, the operational squadrons out of JAX. Not pictured is VP-30, which was the RAG.

And THIS is the actual $600 ‘toilet seat’…

It cost that much because it was not a toilet seat but was actually a structural member in the aircraft, holding the head walls apart, and providing an area for the $4 toilet seat from Sears…

Not that we ever got to USE it… sigh…

Snerk…

Got these over the transom from an old shipmate… 🙂

Top 10 Things I Hate About Star Trek

10. Noisy doors.
You can’t walk three feet in a starship without some door whooshing or screeching at you. My office building has automatic sliding doors. They’re dead silent. If those doors went “wheet!” every time a person walked through them, about once a month some guy in accounting would snap and go on a shooting rampage. Sorry Scotty, the IEEE has revoked your membership until you learn to master WD-40

9. The Federation.
This organization creeps me out. A planet-wide government that runs everything, and that has abolished money. A veritable planetary DMV. Oh sure, it looks like a cool place when you’re rocketing around in a Federation Starship, but I wonder how the guy driving a Federation dump truck feels about it?

And everyone has to wear those spandex uniforms. Here’s an important fact: Most people, you don’t want to see them in spandex. You’d pay good money to not have to see them. If money hadn’t been abolished, that is. So you’re screwed.

8. Reversing the Polarity.
For cripes sake Giordi, stop reversing the polarity of everything! It might work once in a while, but usually it just screws things up. I have it on good authority that the technicians at Starbase 12 HATE that. Every time the Enterprise comes in for its 10,000 hour checkup, they’ve gotta go through the whole damned ship fixing stuff. “What happened to the toilet in Stateroom 3?” “Well, the plumbing backed up, and Giordi thought he could fix it by reversing the polarity.”

Between Scotty’s poor lubrication habits and Geordi’s damned polarity reversing trick, it’s a wonder the Enterprise doesn’t just spontaneously explode whenever they put the juice to it.

7. Seatbelts.
Yeah, I know this one is overdone, but you’d think that the first time an explosion caused the guy at the nav station to fly over the captain’s head with a good 8 feet of clearance, someone would say, “You know, we might think of inventing some furutistic restraining device to prevent that from happening.” So of course, they did make something like that for the second Enterprise (the first one blew up due to poor lubrication), but what was it? A hard plastic thing that’s locked over your thighs. Oh, I’ll bet THAT feels good in the corners. “Hey look! The leg-bars worked as advertised! There goes Kirk’s torso!”

6. No fuses.
Every time there’s a power surge on the Enterprise the various stations and consoles explode in a shower of sparks and throw their seatbelt-less operators over Picard’s head. If we could get Giordi to stop reversing the polarity for a minute, we could get him to go shopping at the nearest Starship parts store and pick up a few fuses. And while he’s shopping, he could stop at an intergalactic IKEA and pick up a few chairs for the bridge personnel. If you’re going to put me in front of a fuseless exploding console all day, the least you could do is let me sit down.

5. Rule by committee.
Here’s the difference between Star Trek and the best SF show on TV last year:

Star Trek:

Picard: “Arm photon torpedoes!”
Riker: “Captain! Are you sure that’s wise?”
Troi: “Captain! I’m picking up conflicting feelings about this! And, it appears that you’re a ‘fraidy cat.”
Wesley: “Captain, I’m just an annoying punk, but I thought I should say something.”
Worf: “Captain, can I push the button? This is giving me a big Klingon warrior chubby.”
Giordi: “Captain, I think we should reverse the polarity on them first.”
Picard: “I’m so confused. I’m going to go to my stateroom and look
pensive.”

Firefly:

Captain: “Let’s shoot them.”
Crewman: “Are you sure that’s wise?”
Captain: “Do you know what the chain of command is? It’s the chain I’ll BEAT YOU WITH until you realize who’s in command.”
Crewman: “Aye Aye, sir!”

4. A Star Trek quiz:
Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and ‘Ensign Gomez’ beam down to a planet. Which one isn’t coming back?

3. Technobabble.
The other night, I couldn’t get my car to start. I solved the problem by reversing the polarity of the car battery, and routing the power through my satellite dish. The resulting subspace plasma caused a rift in the space-time continuum, which created a quantum tunnelling effect that charged the protons in the engine core, thus starting my car. Child’s play, really. As a happy side-effect, I also now get the Spice Channel for free.

2. The Holodeck.
I mean, it’s cool and all. But do you really believe that people would use it to re-create Sherlock Holmes mysteries and old-west saloons? Come on, we all know what the holodeck would be used for. And we also know what the worst job on the Enterprise would be: Having to squeegie the holodeck clean.

1. The Prime Directive.
How stupid is this? Remember when Marvin the Martian was going to blow up the Earth, because it obstructed his view of Venus? And how Bugs Bunny stopped him by stealing the Illudium Q36 Space Modulator? Well, in the Star Trek universe, Bugs would be doing time. Probably in a room filled with Roseanne lookalikes wearing spandex uniforms, walking through doors going WHEET! all day. It would be hell. At least until the Kaboom. The Earth-shattering Kaboom

And most of them are right… LOL

Jury duty…

Got tagged yesterday, still can’t brain today…

Yes, it was that BORING!!!

Go read the folks on the sidebar while I try to jump start the brain…

During voir dire, the defense lawyer gave a hypothetical that was so complicated I don’t think SHE even understood what she was asking… Thankfully I didn’t get picked for that jury!

I HATE hypotheticals… With a @%))@*! passion…

Off the cuff…

And now for something entirely different…

Comments/recommendations appreciated. It’s going to be a short story.

A few minutes later, he arrived back at his blacksmith’s shop, saw two fine horses tied to the rail in front of it and pursed his lips. These aren’t just regular travelers. Those are excellent horses, cavalry horses, and the saddles and bags are high quality fighting saddles. Why here? He reached out and touched the nearest horse, sending calm and picked up the near hoof, The shoes are worn, but not that badly. More gold than sense? Or going on a long trip? Ach, not my business. He stepped into the smithy’s hot, dim interior, taking a deep breath of the smells of iron, fire, and leather to settle himself.

Two men stood near the forge as Orum enthusiastically explained that it had been designed by Master Lubec and how easy it was to use. Lubec watched their movements, noting that both stood in such a way that one could not sneak up on them. The larger of the two turned, “Master Lubec?”

He stumped over, “Aye, that be me. Orum tells me you need shoes for your horses.”

“That we do. And a bit repaired too.”

“We can do that, but if you need it all done today, Orum must help. I cannot do all three.”

“That would be acceptable. Is there a place in this…village that has edible food?”

“The Broken Spoon, sire. I just ate lunch there. The meat pie is good and has real meat. How are you called, sire?”

“Maks. We will go there. Send for us when you are done.”

“Yes, Sir Maks.”

The two of them left, and Orum said, “That was strange, the little one never said anything.”

Lubec shrugged. “Maybe a mute. Or a man servant. Bring the horses around to the corral and let’s get to work.” As Orum walked out to fetch the horses, Lubec called out, “Poppet? Where are you hiding, Poppet?” He heard a ‘wheet’, and a flap of wings, as a small wyvern swooped down from the overhead beams. She landed next to Lubec and scraped her head on his leg in the middle of his thigh. “Good Poppet. Hiding is good, Poppet.” He scratched the wyvern under the chin, prompting her to shake and whistle softly.

Walking over to the forge, Lubec took the tongs from the hook next to the forge, plucked a clinker out, and flipped it to Poppet. She caught it on the fly and curled up munching happily as Lubec pulled tools off the wall and stumped toward the corral. Orum had removed the saddle bags, saddles, and blankets, and tied the horses to the corral bars. Lubec picked up the first hoof and quickly removed the shoe and handed it to Orum. “What kind of iron?”

Orum rubbed his fingers over the shoe, cocked his head, and rubbed it again. “Medium? Not as hard as…what we do for the oxen traces, but not as soft as the candlesticks.”

“Go find the yellow streaked raw, there should be enough bars in that bin to make the shoes. If you will start on that, I will get the rest of the shoes off.”

Orum nodded as he straightened the horseshoe out with his hands. “This length, Master?”

Lubec pulled the hind shoe and stepped over to the other horse, lifting a hoof and placing the shoe over it. “Yes, all the same length.”

Orum walked into the smithy, mumbling to himself, “Yellow ore, eight lengths. All same.”

Lubec smiled to himself as he removed the other shoes on both horses, He has the touch. And I wonder if he realizes how strong he really is. Probably not. He cleaned the hooves, trimming where necessary, and groaned when he finally straightened up. Too old. Time for Orum to take over the shoeing and doing finer work.

He searched and found all the nails he’d extracted and walked stiffly back into the smithy as he heard Orum striking the bar and cutting it in pieces between heatings, measuring off the straightened shoe. He took the nails over to his cold anvil, pulled a finishing hammer off its pegs, and straightened them one by one. Poppet rubbed against his leg and he murmured, “Not yet, Poppet. Not yet.”

He leaned against the work bench as Orum heated and flattened each piece of the bar into the approximate width of the other shoes, then used a spike punch to punch holes in the glowing iron. When he had quenched each piece, he looked over at Lubec, “Now what, Master?”

“Now you learn how to form a shoe.” Lubec stepped to the forge, turning his hot anvil around so the beak faced him. He used the tongs to put one piece in the forge. “Red the entire length, then pull it,” he pulled the piece now glowing red and centered it on the rounded anvil. “Round it on each side.” He hammered one side down, then quickly flipped it around, finishing the other side, then quenching it. “Now you try it.”

The first one took Orum three tries, but by the last one, he was doing them in three or four strokes a side. Picking them up, Lubec led him back outside, followed by Poppet. “Now, I’m going to do one horse and you do another. Remember, first, you calm the horse. Touch him and radiate calm. You know how to do this, if you need, draw from Poppet.” He put his hand on Poppet’s head and touched the horse on the neck, projecting calm. The horse rolled its eyes and sighed, and he quickly picked up a back hoof, put a shoe on it, saw that it was too narrow, then gripped it and unbent it slightly to fit the width of the hoof correctly. He checked the fit, then picked up a nail in the tongs. “Poppet? Warm?” He held it out toward Poppet as the wyvern wheeted and hopped around, excited. “Poppet!”

Poppet settled down and burped, then opened her mouth and a short reddish flame issued forth, heating the nail. Lubec quickly drove it in the hoof, then repeated that three more times. He looked up, “Remember, these are much more spirited than the horses you are used to.”

Orum smiled. “Yes, Master. These horses are not like the draft animals I normally do. Not placid. I am allowed to use Poppet?”

“Yes.” He looked at the lengthening shadows and said, “We need to finish this up. I will continue on this horse and you do the other.”

A short time later, Lubec told Orum, “Go get Sir Maks. We are finished.”

Orum touched his forelock, “But Master, we haven’t done the bit they wanted.”

“I know. They did not leave it, and I will not go into their bags to search for it. That is not right. Now go!”

Orum scampered off and Lubec sat on a stump in the smithy, as Poppet rubbed against him. “Yes, Poppet. I hurt.” Poppet wheeted at him and stood as high as she could, spreading her wings and folding them around Lubec, who sagged into the wyvern. Moments later, he straightened and pushed Poppet away. Can’t do that all the time, but she gives me strength to continue. I’ve never understood how or why that works, but I know it drains her. Da said it was because we were granted a benison by the gods to be linked to the wyverns through our minds and draw strength from them. Getting up he went to the forge and pulled two pieces of clinker out, and fed them to the wyvern, who munched them happily, curled up on the floor of the smithy.

***

Lubec drowsed for a few minutes, until he heard Orum saying, “Sires, we didn’t get the bit from you, and the master said we weren’t to go looking, so it is not done.” He pushed himself up and stood near the forge as the men came through the door.

Maks asked, “Why did you not get the bit and do the work as promised?”

Lubec straightened up. “Sire, I did not ask before you left, and I will not violate a man’s property to go looking. I will still try to fix it, if you will give it to me.”

“Where are the horses?”

“In the corral out back. We took the saddles off, and I have given them some hay and water.”

The other man walked through the smithy and out to the horses, patting them and checking their hooves before reaching in a saddlebag and pulling a broken bit out. He walked back in and handed it to Maks, who passed it to Lubec, “The ring on the left side cracked. Can you fix it?”

Lubec turned it over in his hands, unconsciously rubbing the bit, then said, “Not to where it won’t fail again. The metal…is too soft. I can craft another, but I would need a day to- -”

The smaller man laughed. “Honest to a fault. Maks, do you understand what has happened today?”

Lubec’s mind whirled, That voice. I. . .know that voice. But where? It’s been years, the pitch. . . is different.

Maks replied, “We found an honest blacksmith? Granted that is odd, Sire, but.”

The smaller man threw back his hood, “No, we have found the man I’ve searched over a year for. Adlion, you have not changed a bit.”

Lubec dropped the bit in the dirt. “Adlion? My name is Lubec.” Who? How? It can’t be!

The smaller man chuckled, “You mean you don’t remember me, Adlion?”

Lubec fell to his knees. “Ctibor?” This can’t be little Ctibor can it? Oh deity, rumor had it there was a new baron…it must be. “M’lord Jurec?”

The smaller man nodded as Orum fell to his knees, trembling. “Oh, get up, both of you. This is beneath you. Do you still have Poppet?”

Hearing her name, the wyvern jumped up and wheeted loudly, then flapped down, landing at Ctibor’s feet and rubbing his leg. Ctibor pushed her away, “No, Poppet. I don’t have leathers on. You know better.” He scratched behind the wyvern’s ears and she burbled happily, lightly flapping her wings. He looked up and said seriously, “Adlion, I need you to do something for me.”

“M’lord?”

“Maks, fetch my bags please.” Maks walked quickly out to the horses as Ctibor continued, “Da is dead. The Blacguards got him and his escort. He was on his way back from the western border with Imrich’s body.” He pinched his nose then said softly, “A mile, maybe more, and he would have been home, Adlion, err, Lubec.”

Lubec shook his head and glanced at Orum. Well, the wyvern is out of the bag. Orum will want an explanation, probably sooner rather than later. I wonder what he’s going to do when he finds out I’m his father, not just his master. And I guess we will have to move on, again. “Yes, M’lord, we heard. A sad thing.”

Maks returned with the bags handing them to Ctibor with a small bow. He reached in and pulled out a bag that clinked, and Lubec shivered, knowing what it contained. Lubec finally asked, “You are now the Baron?”

Ctibor nodded without speaking, and opened the bag, spilling the broken pieces of a sword onto the table. “The first people there found the sword shattered in pieces. This…should not be!”

Lubec shook his head sadly, “No, this is what happens when a blooded sword is not passed from generation to generation. When I made this sword for your grandda, I gave him specific directions as to how to pass it to your da. It requires a blood sacrifice.” He looked up in horror. “Once your da died, the sword…he blooded Imrich didn’t he? And not you. The blood bond that held it together no longer existed as a life force.”

“I was at King’s Court as a captain of horse. Second son and all that entailed. Da sent a messenger for me to return but I didn’t get there in… time. Can you repair it,” the baron pleaded.

“No, once it dies, it cannot be…put back together.” He moved the broken pieces around, pulling the hilt out and holding it up as he said softly, “Your father died with honor. The fact that the hilt stayed in one piece is evidence of that. He fed it with his own blood in the course of the fight.” Ctibor sagged against the table, prompting Poppet to wheet quietly and shove her head under his hand. Almost unconsciously, he petted the wyvern, stroking her ears as the tears rolled down his face.

Lubec, Maks, and Orum all looked away, and Lubec swept the remaining pieces of the sword into the bag, handing them to Orum. “Put these outside the corral. We will bury the pieces individually in a bit. Set the spade with them.”

Orum gulped, glanced at Baron Jurec, then at Lubec, and grabbed a spade as he headed for the door. The baron started to reach out, but Lubec said, “No! It is better this way.” He handed him the hilt. “This is what you need to keep to honor your da. Those that know will know he died honorably.”

Maks asked, “Is there a place to stay in the village?”

“In Skop? The Broken Spoon has rooms over the kitchen. Sablan or his wife Mata can tell you what is available.”

Glancing at the Ctibor, Maks continued, “I think the Baron would rather not be identified, if you understand?”

Lubec nodded, “I do. If I may ask a boon?” Maks nodded, and he continued, “I would prefer to be called Lubec. I have not been Adlion in. . . well over seventeen years. Not since I left the keep.”

The baron replied, “Done. Has it really been that long? Where did you go, Lubec?”

Lubec bowed his head, “After Rie died, and the Baron gave me benison to leave, I went over the mountains to the east. We survived the trip and I settled in a little village on the river called Lubec. I was there for almost six years, until people became suspicious of me.”

“Suspicious?”

“M’lord, do you remember what I looked like when I worked for your grandda?”

The baron pulled Lubec over to the door of the smithy, looking him up and down. “I…you…you look the same. It’s almost—”

“As if I didn’t age, M’lord?” he nodded and Lubec sighed. “That’s the problem. The villagers became suspicious when I didn’t age like the other men, or the women for that matter. It wasn’t bad until someone saw Poppet. Then they started shunning me, so I left. This is the third place I’ve set up shop since then.”

Maks asked, “How old are you…Lubec?”

He looked up at the rafters, shook his head and said, “I have something over a hundred years. I came to the keep when your grandda was a boy. I was already a blacksmith, from my da, and knew the arts from him and my grandda, but I’d never practiced them. It wasn’t till your grandda became the Baron that I first started making swords and halberds, because my da died saving the king.”

He heard an intake of breath behind him and turned to see Orum standing with his hand over his mouth and eyes wide. It’s better that I tell him now. Before he has time to think about it and ask more questions.

The baron eyed Orum, then turned to Maks. “Let us get a room at the…Broken Spoon. It is late, and I have no desire to travel further today.” Maks nodded and glanced at Lubec. “Would you and Orum join us for food, after you talk?”

Lubec cocked his head, “Yes, M’lord, but it may be a while.”

“Join us when you can. We will wait.” The baron and Maks swiftly saddled their horses and cantered toward the village as Orum stood rooted in the same spot.

Lubec steered him gently to the stump at the forge and pushed him down as Poppet sidled up to him. “Orum, I fear I have done you a great disservice. I was going to tell you, but after you became a master.”

“Who…what are you,” Orum asked in a trembling voice.

“I am your father. You are not and have never been an orphan. When your mother died of the flux in the keep these seventeen years ago, I could not bear to remain. The baron gave me the benison to leave, as there was a journeyman I had trained for years that could step in. I told the baron I would never again touch or make a sword, so that nothing I did could be lifted against him or the king.”

“But…you’re old!”

Lubec chuckled. “Both a blessing and a curse.” He started pacing. “We, our line, are from Ferrucrag, an island in the northern seas. We are gifted with a feel for the metals, the strength to work them, and an ability to form things that are bonded to a person with our wyvern’s help. Did you ever wonder why you always know where your poignard is?”

Orum shrugged. “I…not really.”

“Remember how you cut your hand when you were heating it and bled on the iron?”

Orum nodded. “It hurt, but Poppet licked it and it went away.”

“That blood bonded that blade to you. That is part of the blessing. The curse is our long lives. Grandda lived over a hundred and twenty years and died saving a maiden from a flood. Da died at the battle of Norheim, defending the King.” Lubec stopped, bowing his head as he continued softly, “I saw him fall, but couldn’t get to him in time.”

Orum looked up in wonder. “But, that was eighty years ago! How could you?”

“I was behind the lines, sharpening weapons and repairing armor. The Crags broke through the lines, attacking the King. Da had just taken the king’s sword back after sharpening it, and killed a Crag with his poignard, then used it to fight off the Crags side by side with the king, until the knights could rally and push them away. He took a halberd in the back that was meant for the king in the last Crag push before they retreated. We were part of Baron Jurec’s grandda’s levy, and after the battle, we were discharged and returned to the keep.”

Orum asked, “Am I your only child? You didn’t have others?”

“No, I never married until Rie. She was the Baroness’ handmaiden. I. . . she was years younger than I. She was just twenty, and I was seventy, but looked forty. We were married for ten years before she conceived, and you were born. That’s a curse on our line, only single male children, and few of those.” He knelt in front of Orum. “My birth name was Adlion, your birth name was Adorjan. All of the males of our line’s names start with A. Due to our long lives; multiple names are used to confuse others.”

“Why do you call me Orum, then?”

Lubec hung his head, “I wanted to shield you, in case you didn’t have the feel for the metals. And blacksmiths and ironmongers with names starting with A are treated with suspicion, because of rumors of our abilities and the wyverns.”

“Is that why we hide Poppet?”

He nodded. “Yes, we bond with wyverns, which is, again, a blessing. They give us strength and are a boon when we work metals. Especially doing bonded swords. When she licked you, she healed you. Have you ever wondered why you don’t get sick?” He pointed to Poppet. “It’s because of her.”

Orum burst out. “Then why didn’t she heal my ma?”

“We were away, at the western border forts when she took ill. We could not get back in time.”

He picked up a horseshoe and absentmindly straightened it, then flipped it to Orum. “Bend it back.” Orum bent it easily, and Lubec said, “You don’t realize how strong you are. Very few men can do that.”

Orum protested, “You do things like this all the time! You just straightened it!”

“It’s part of the blessing. But it’s also a curse. That is why I’ve done all your weapons training myself. I didn’t want others to be wondering about your strength or asking questions.” Orum started to protest again, but Lubec got up, stomach growling. “That is enough for now. I need food. Go wash and put on your better clothes. We will go eat with the baron and Maks.”

Orum got up slowly, “Yes, Mas. . .  Da? Can I call you Da?

Lubec folded Orum in his arms, tears rolling down his cheek as Poppet spread her wings and enfolded both of them, “Yes…son, yes you can.”