That’s why the Army appoints investigating officers. In his mid thirties and a graduate of West Point, he had recently been selected for early promotion to lieutenant colonel. It may take longer to get a handle on all of them.” “’kay. ” First Lieutenant Daniel Tinkerman answered, “Yes, sir, I’m here in lieu of Captain Brandt this morning; I think he has the duty. I can tell you that the Moon was full on 13 March and should be at third quarter about 20 March. Other men were growing hoarse from yelling and their anger. “Canter.” His soldiers responded and accelerated their beasts. Keep it under your hat for a while, Specialist Carmody.” “Thank you, Sergeant Major.” The soldier nodded and left. “Captain Erickson,” Clarke said, “I’ve just stolen one of your platoon leaders. ” Ed Clarke’s six foot, six inch body made him an imposing figure. We usually print one off every day or so anyway and we didn’t have any gains or losses yesterday. Uh, we have about 450 family members and fifty civilian employees who are affiliated with the battalion or the brigade. My only source about what’s happening outside this installation is observation through the fence. Luke would never know that the second group to flee included a young construction worker named Emilio Casarotto. Oh, I guess I should talk to my squad leader.” “Never mind, you’re okay. Yes, I think the battalion commander will probably let you take your bike. The officers not told to stay nodded and left, although Captain Coltrane paused to make a low comment to Clarke. It is based in part on the Alternate History World, known as “Dies the Fire,” written and copyrighted by S. This work is copyrighted by James Reid in 2012, except for those parts derived from “Dies the Fire,” and its sequels, which are copyrighted by S. Some thanks are in order: To Steve Stirling, for creating the Emberverse; for allowing me and others much more talented than I to play in his universe; and for writing the following two lines that provide the hooks upon which this tale hangs. He said he wanted to get the journal started.” Clarke frowned. I want everyone to have protective masks with them.” “Yes, sir. ” “Quickly, Sergeant.” “Did you see a bright white light and feel a real intense pain? The radios, even with battery power, don’t come up. Oh, we put meters on the batteries and if they have any juice, it didn’t show. I have only Antonia to help me.” Alberto Rossi watched the soldiers who had marched to his riding school as they took up positions around the perimeter of his property. You’ve met Sergeant Carson; he’s over with the guard force.” “Antonia, come, please,” Rossi called. We — and our horses — will come with you.” “Thank you.” “Yes, thank you,” Lieutenant Wilson added. Let me show you my stables and school.” Rossi and Wilson walked away together. “We have about thirty horses to saddle.” “Thirty-one,” Antonia said. Miss Rossi, Appleby and I will each saddle one — We’re talking English saddles — while you watch then you join in. ” “Yes, Sergeant.” “Sergeant.” I think I’m back on top of the hill here, Luke thought as he turned to Antonia and Appleby, “Let’s go pick out some horses.” She’s perfect. I don’t know whether to call her hair dark blonde or light brown, but it’s thick and rich. The man who had challenged Anderson staggered back and wobbled past Hutton holding his face and weeping without looking at the young American. The three-quarter inch thick lance was sticking up out of the man’s chest. Blood gathered and drooled out of the man’s mouth and nose. “I don’t think any of us will ever jump again.” The men glanced up, shared the moment or looked away. Oh, the surgeon said I should tell you to do something about the flies. But I respect her too much.” “I want more than just a roll in the hay.” “Have you answered your own question? “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son” — he made the sign of the cross in front of Luke’s face — “and of the Holy Spirit.” He smiled. That Brandt had, over the past few months, alienated the few who offered help to him was overlooked in death. He gets a body bag.” “I wasn’t trying to be nasty, sir.” “I know, Luke.” “Maybe they should have let him go home.” “Maybe,” Clarke answered. Just my opinion, sir.” “It’s a good one.” “Thank you, sir.” Hutton nodded and walked away. “He’ll be okay, sir.” “Good, Padre, I’m gonna need ‘im.” Clarke left the chaplain and the burial detail behind him. The author agrees to abide by the Stirling Fan Fiction site disclaimer. All characters in this fiction are, in fact, fictional, and any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental, except where it is intentional and has the knowledge and consent of the named persons, who already know who they are and are mentally ready for the nasty things done to their namesakes. ” Captain Paul Martin, the communications-electronics officer, said, “We have zero communications, sir. If you ordered us to move out right now, we would have to walk. “Vicenza is our home,” Rossi said to Luke and Wilson, “but my wife is dead and my children, except for Antonia, have no use for horses and have moved away. Anderson whipped his M16 off his shoulder and used it to parry a swing from the same rake, then executed a perfect butt stroke with the stock of his rifle. Meeting with Major Clarke at zero eight by the herd. “Thank you, sir.” “Yeah, me too.” Clarke looked at his troops and shrugged. ” “Yes, Father.” “We’re burying Captain Brandt at ten hundred hours at the high school athletic field.” “Thank you, Father.” ❀ ❁ ❀ “Amen.” The men assembled around the open grave of Captain Carl Brandt came to attention and solemnly saluted him in death, an act that overrode the suspension of salutes.
Chapter 3 — Transportation Camp Ederle, Vicenza, Italy; Wednesday, March 18, 1998, . Oh, the part of the perimeter that I could see is dark.” Without thinking, Brandt picked up the telephone and still heard no dial tone. Brandt felt on the desk for the pad of paper and pen he knew were there. They were doing well yesterday, but I don’t know their current situations. If we have an eight-foot fence with an apron and rifles for guards, why lay concertina? He pulled back on the charging handle to chamber a round, pointed the weapon at the ground and pulled the trigger. ” Rossi shrugged, “Of course.” “‘Luke, we have never been hungry enough to eat horse meat in Vicenza.’” “‘Hungry enough? ‘Hungry enough.’” “Yes.” Luke motioned toward Lieutenant Wilson. Luke handed Gray’s reins to George and said, “I’ll be along in a few.” “He had a pair of cojones,” George observed. ” “I swear, sir, she had gone to Milan and I thought she was still there. None of Rossi’s workers showed today.” “Okay.” Clarke smiled. Luke extended the hand carrying the sword he had picked up. Clarke took the offered sword and said, “Thanks, I’ll keep it for now.” Clarke and Evans looked at each other and Evans nodded. That was an interesting demonstration.” Luke put his hand on the back of his neck and looked at the ground and back at his battalion commander. We train them to be willing to kill when it’s necessary. Frankly, I’d be worried if you weren’t bent out of shape. Looking at the palm of Luke’s right hand, he asked, “Is that from your lance or whatever you want to call it? I didn’t notice it ‘til now.” “Well, that’s a bad friction burn. ” “No, thanks, I’ve had worse burns from ropes running through my hands. “So what’s happened that we missed while we were on our mission? Clarke sent a couple officers to look for your buddy Brandt. And then Alfa Company sent out nine patrols to try to contact people living off post. The soldiers started to stand, but he motioned for them to stay seated. “Sergeant Hutton, you look like you’re about to fold. Come on, Luke, orders are orders.” “Somebody’s gotta take care of the horses.” “I’ll get the horses,” Luke heard George say. ❀ ❁ ❀ George Carson watched his roommate walk away. Infantry (Airborne) George Carson watched Luke Hutton wake and stretch. I had the duty night before last — you know, with Captain Brandt — that’s another thing I just thought of. This sudden shake up must seem like a gift from the Gods to him. Ignoring our professional status, our role in this community” ranted Edward Jefferson.
Both Brandt and I saw a flash of light and felt a terrible pain that was gone right away. Sterile white walls with pictures of airborne drops. A table at the back of the coffee pot and, sometimes, a tray of doughnuts. We have command tents and every soldier has — well, better have his shelter half and a full clothing bag of uniforms, as well as field gear. “Sir, we have attempted to start about two-thirds of the unit vehicles. The same is true of the engines that run the electric generators. The three returned and saddled the waiting horses while Anderson and Bradley watched, then tied the animals to posts in the yard. The collection of saddled horses was growing in size when Lieutenant Wilson returned. The sole remaining member of the mob stood his ground and thrust his rake toward Guy Anderson’s horse. Luke held his out, palm up, and Clarke dropped some pin-on staff sergeant insignia into his hand.
” “I need your help.” “Well, you could start by turnin’ on the light.” “Shit’s hit the fan. I’m gonna wake up the officers and handle Alfa and Headquarters Company.” “Have we been attacked? Hell, we’re just a couple of sergeants, but wouldn’t you follow the shock with immediate exploitation, if you were the enemy? It’s almost funny how every person had to be convinced that his personal flashlight no longer worked. Petroleum, oil and lubricants average about eighty percent full. Appleby went with Antonia and Luke to collect saddles and saddle blankets. “I’ve got a new plan for you, Luke,” George said as he hauled on the reins to bring the mules to a stop. Some might be able to carry three if we load them right.” “Three bags would be, uh, three hundred pounds or so. “Papà, we will need feed bags.” “Yes, Antonia, I know.” Alberto smiled. After the remaining civilians flowed past him, he dismounted and stared back at the site of his fight. Now, there are honest and well-meaning men working for me who tell me that I haven’t done a single thing here this morning that’s actually legal. “Sergeant Hutton.” “Yes, sir.” Luke stepped forward. You are promoted to the rank of staff sergeant.” Clarke held out his hand.
Chapter 10 — Road Day Seventeen — South of Vergato, Friday, 3 April 1998, Early Evening. The lanky former cowboy scratched his short blond hair while he thought about his errant rifleman. He was smart and knew how to steal enough to support himself comfortably without drawing the attention of the authorities, who were after bigger perpetrators, or the crime syndicates, which defended their interests violently. The soldier hesitated when Perla turned into a darkened alley, but she pressed herself against him and ran the palm of her hand up and down the front of his trousers. Roberto took his knife out of his pocket and opened it with a flick of his wrist. He heard Hutton scream and was vaguely aware of the sergeant falling sideways from his chair. ” Hutton asked, getting up from the floor and rubbing his shoulder. “Nothing, sir.” Brandt watched as Hutton stared into space. From the waist down, the pretty yellow dress was soaked in blood. Uh, I don’t think there’s power anywhere in the city. The sky looks like it does on a clear night when we’re in the field.” “Is there any good news? I have trouble believing that a fifty-round box of new, clean ammo will produce six consecutive mis-fires.” “I should check on Captain Brandt, sir,” Coltrane offered. “Specialist Anderson, Headquarters; Private Bradley, Alfa; Sergeant Potter, Bravo; Private First Class Appleby, Bravo; and Sergeant Miller, Charlie. ” both sergeants said, saluted and left their platoon leader. We’ve got enough firepower…” Both halted in their tracks and Luke asked, “Weapons do work, don’t they? The last two aren’t really options, of course.” Clarke nodded. — ‘experiment outside doctrine.’” “Guilty.” Clarke grinned. The three beers in my little Emilio decided to go outside to listen. Antonia Rossi stood near the door of the usually immaculate stable of her father’s riding school. That’s if you can find any.” He turned his back on his co-workers and left. Evans climbed the stairs to the small enclosure that looked out over the shop floor.
Chapter 11 — Umbertide Day Twenty-two — South of Le Piastre, Wednesday, 8 April 1998 Chapter 12 — Port South of Perugia, Italy, Tuesday, 28 April 1998, evening Chapter 13 — Advancement The Military Road, North of Nomadelfia, Greater Umbria, 16 September 1998, mid-morning. A nap helps.” “Ah, Staff Duty Non-Commissioned Officer. He had also killed twice when his victims had resisted. He slipped up behind the American, grabbed his collar and stuck his knife up under the man’s chin. The desk lamps were out and the room had only the light of the moon outside. Morelli vomited at the sight then forced himself to his feet. Her eyes were wide open and her mouth moved spasmodically. Perla opened her mouth one last time and it stayed open. “Yes, you should, Doc, but hold on for just a bit and I’ll go with you. We have no contact with any other military element of the United States of America. Our fixed communications base is always talking to its network and it’s not any more. “Yes, sir.” “What are the odds of having three guys who know about horses in one infantry platoon? They stared in disbelief as they saw a detail of soldiers begin stringing concertina wire between two of the barracks buildings. ” George Carson opened his mouth, closed it and shook his head helplessly. “Tinkerman’s young, but he performed well this morning at the battalion staff meeting. ” “Colonel took them to Germany with him.” “Do we still need a dedicated transportation and maintenance officer? Sam Douglas watched the soldiers of the battalion moving around the post. Leaning by the door was the hoe he had bought to take to Lorena’s father’s farm next week. ❀ ❁ ❀ Sergeant Major Paul Evans walked into the maintenance shop. Captain Roger Avery was sitting at his desk with his head in his hands.