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05 February 2011 - 05:51 AMHey specops. I've been a stranger lately because my training with the AF has been pretty high-octane and non-stop, and it's been keeping me off the field for over a year now (sucks!). But now that I'm almost at the end, I figured I oughta check back in real quick and share what's been going on. Well.... flying has been going on, and a lot of it. But more importantly, last night I got my follow-on assignment, and it's a doozie. Your friendly neighborhood MDK is officially SpecOps now, and not just online. I got the elusive "Non-specific aircraft" slot, which means unlike my classmates I'm going to fly almost a dozen different airframes and generally be an airborne handyman for AFSOC in Cannon, NM, and bump shoulders/ferry around the biggest badasses in the known universe -- special operators from all branches. Downside is, it's not a job anybody gets to talk much about, so I don't know much of what's going to happen other than excitement and contribution in a real way to the US of A, which is all I ever wanted to do. Anyway thanks for reading about some guy who used to be here sort of, and wish me luck.
21 August 2010 - 10:18 PMSo I whipped this thing up for a contest on another site, and then I'm like.... this is cool, why don't I post it up at SpecOps, too, just for the hell of it? So then I came here and I did just that. Eventually (like, probably after I get out of flying school), this is gonna become part of either a series of stories, or a book of some length.... I don't know what the right word is for a TV show in regular-book-format is, but that's kind of what I'm going for. This would be, like, the highlights of one episode, and there would be like, a dozen or so episodes.... whatever. Anyway, without further ado, here's a really long-ass wall o' text.
“That’s a fine drink you have,” he said, sitting at the bar beside her. His drab coat and low hat made it hard to see his face.
“It’s called a Desert Kiss,” she replied.
“I’ve heard of it,” he nodded, placing his hat on the bar and revealing an aged face and silver-brown hair. “The strangest martini made in these parts – I’m told it doesn’t even taste like alcohol.”
“That’s because it’s made with cactus juice.” Her voice was engaging, but didn’t sound particularly interested. He, by contrast, seemed fascinated.
“The juice is sweet. They say that for most birds in the desert, water is so scarce that they never get to drink it. A cactus gives the only liquid the bird will ever taste. That’s why they call the drink the Desert Kiss – it’s able to take the dryness away from a martini, like a cactus in a desert.” He relaxed into his seat, not unlike a crocodile perching on a riverbank. “From what I’ve been told, the drink packs quite a punch, not unlike a kiss from a beautiful woman.” She took another sip. “The way you hold it is interesting.”
“What do you mean?” she asked. While she did, he leaned across the bar and asked for tequila.
“Indulge me.” He motioned for her to drink. She did, and he gently traced his finger around the position of her hand. “Most people hold a martini by the stem of the glass, like this,” he said, imitating his own description of a typical grip. “But you hold it this way.” He changed the position of his fingers on the glass, so that his thumb was high, near the rim. “The weight of the drink rests in the crook between your thumb and index finger, and you steady the glass with your middle finger, like this.”
“What’s so interesting about how I hold a glass?”
He smiled, and thanked the bartender for his freshly-arriving shot. “My point,” he said, looking at her diagonally while he raised the rim of his shot glass to his lip, “is that you hold your martini just like it was a gun.”
The word made her spine tighten, and subconsciously she released her grip on the drink and rested her hand on the bar. He didn’t appear to notice that she did so, and ordered another tequila, this time on the rocks. “You know a lot about guns, do you?” she asked, trying not to sound terrified.
“More than anyone,” he replied with wicked pleasure.
“If that’s true, I think I would have heard of you.” Her voice fluttered – it was something between the slightest nervous laugh, and a shivering heart. He eyed her, an expression on his face she could not quite recognize, but attributed to curiosity. His brow arched, and the stubble over his mouth wrinkled, and the cold gaze of his right eye seemed to look into her mind. There was nothing suggestive in his stare – only something… inquisitive. When it became unbearable, she set her jaw and looked down and away from him, breaking the spell. “People around here, they know it when a fellow’s good with his gun.”
“Well,” he said, smiling an evil grin and taking a deep breath. “I am very good with my gun, as you say, and as you say, people in these parts tend to notice a thing like that these days. Which means, there are only,” he motioned with his hand, “a few possibilities. Either, one of the two of us is new to this town, or I am a liar.” He crossed his hands on his lap, and swiveled in his stool so that his whole body faced her. “I am no liar,” he said plainly. “So now the question is, where might you be from, young lady?”
She didn’t dare to face him directly, and, searching for an alibi, found herself reaching for her martini with both hands, and taking a long and slow sip to collect herself. Hardening her nerves, she set the glass down and, at last, faced the stranger. “You asked for a tequila,” she said, “and the bartender brought you a shot. When you ordered another, you asked for it with ice. If you were a regular here, you wouldn’t have had to order twice to get the drink you wanted.”
He made a Tch! noise with his cheek, and chuckled, and clapped his hands together once. “Well done,” he said in a tone just shy of congratulation, and straying into mockery. “You’ve got me, but then, I’ve got you as well.” She raised an eyebrow as he leaned back with a smug and satisfied demeanor. “Just now, you called him ‘the bartender.’”
“He is a bartender,” she interjected.
“His name, dear.” The man’s disposition suddenly darkened.
Her face fell, and her grip on the martini tightened. “I can’t be expected to keep track of everyone that works here.”
“No, of course, you’re right. A more fair question, then,” he said, leaning close. “This place in particular is called ‘Sam’s Oldworld.’ They talk about this pub as far away as New Detroit, and since I arrived here, it has become my favorite establishment for two hundred miles in any direction.” He picked up his drink in his left hand as his right drew circles in the air, like a storyteller without a care in the world. “I have had the pleasure of meeting Sam Winnipeg only once, but the meeting certainly left a lasting impression. The thing I liked best was that Sam loved this job, much as I love mine. To this day, despite all the fame and fortune one could ever hope to scrape together in this day and age, Sam still works the bar, regular hours, just so to meet the people that made this place famous.” Her face was dry, and when he realized this, his face became impatient. “My question to you, miss, is this: is the man working at the bar, right now, Sam Winnipeg, the owner of the pub?”
She bit her lip, but didn’t blink, as she fished for a plausible answer. “No,” she said. “Sam won’t be in all week, he went to the port. I’m surprised he didn’t mention it to you when you met him. ”
“Sam,” he said, crossing his leg over his knee, “is a woman.” She glared at him. “So, you and I are both travelers. I would go so far as to say, you already know enough about me to guess where it is I come from. Am I wrong?””
She looked very cross, the fun of this game having worn off entirely. The stranger seemed, though, to exude some sort of unnatural force that compelled her to play along, like an aura of unseemly power. Against her will, she played along. “You’re tall and well fed, and you don’t talk with an accent. You’re well-mannered, which means you aren’t from the East Coast.” He nodded approvingly. “You dress dark and talk about gunplay, which means you’re up to no good.” Again, that evil smile of his beamed, slowly, like a blossoming nightshade. “You mentioned New Detroit, but that’s too easy for a type like you. My guess is you’re from the west, maybe south towards Texas, and you’ve never set foot in New Detroit.”
“Right so far,” he nodded. “I imagine there’s more?”
“If I had to,” she went on, barely leaving time for his prompt to settle in, “I would guess that you rode in with the Carlton Gang. A right bunch of proper rascals like yourself, but most of them don’t have poise like you. You’re too self-assured to be a crook, and too old to be hired muscle, which means you must be some kind of a leader with them.”
“Miss,” he corrected, righting himself in such a way that it seemed as if he was leaning towards her, “I’m the only kind of leader with them.” She glanced around the bar, searching for help, for a weapon, or maybe for the quickest way to escape – she couldn’t decide which she wanted most. “My name is Lewis Carlton, and I am the namesake, the boss, the king, and what ever else you would like to call me, so far as those boys are concerned I am god himself.”
“God, or the devil?” she asked, forcing a laugh as Lewis Carlton forced a smile.
“Those boys know better than to fear the devil,” he said, his eyes narrowing. “And as for yourself – would you like to know what I have put together about you?”
“Please,” she whispered. The illusion of fearlessness was gone, her hopes of walking out of the bar were dwindling, and her eyes were growing just wide enough to show both plights. Lewis Carlton’s composure was the only thing holding her together, and thankfully, his composure was perfect.
“You’ve seen enough of the world to recognize who the sinners are, but not enough to become one, which is either impressive or sad for a woman your age. You’ve seen more than your share of violence, based on the way you hold your drinks, and on the muscles in your hand that I felt when I tested your grip.” He straightened his legs, kipping his body slightly as he did so, and now he did lean towards her, with a judging eye that made her visibly uncomfortable. He frowned. “You have no discernable dialect. You speak quickly and well, which means you’ve spent time in the north, but you don’t dress like they do, all frills and flaunt. You’re more reserved, more subtle, and more dangerous. I couldn’t say exactly where you are from, but then again, I’m not sure that you could, either.”
“Who am I?” she asked, desperately wanting him to release her, and desperately trying to hide it.
“You’re a soldier, of sorts, but a sad one,” he replied. “You have ideals, and you have tested them in battle and survived. Noble. But now you believe that nobility is what saved you, which is a mistake. Nobility never saved anyone, and the fact that you have survived as long as you have, means only that your capacity for violence has been superior to that of your enemies.”
“Who am I?” She masked her plea with menace, but it was a charade.
“You are the worst sort of person,” he replied, cool and collected as ever despite the malice in his words. She was quivering. “You think that in order for the world to function, everybody must believe exactly as you believe. You have made the calamity that nearly destroyed this world into your perfect opportunity, and now, you impose your will on those you encounter. Why? Because it’s ‘noble?’ or perhaps, because you are not.”
In her mind, she moved quickly. She imagined that her stool tumbled backwards as she leapt to her feet, and her glass tipped over and dumped its contents on the counter as her hands darted to the small of her back, grasping the ivory handles of a pair of revolvers concealed beneath her cloak, and bringing them both to bear on Carlton. She wanted to put both barrels against his head, and even though she couldn’t bring herself to spring into action, the thought of doing so was enough on its own to remind her of her own weapons. “Enough games,” she demanded calmly. “You know who I am, so you must know what I’m after.”
Carlton didn’t appear to be the least bit intimidated. “Of course I do,” he said calmly. “The only question is, do you honestly believe that you can get it?” His eyes took on a deadly spark as he stared into her eyes, searching for the weakness he had found only moments earlier. When he found no sign of it, his right hand snapped to his belt, and instinctively, her fingers searched for their pistol. The reflex might have killed her, if Lewis Carlton had been even just a bit slower. His hand came up from his holster empty, but in the shape of a drawn weapon, before she had even taken hers out of her belt. They locked eyes again. “There is nothing you can do,” Lewis explained deliberately, “that I can’t do better, faster, and more forcefully, miss.” She glared, frozen before his finger as if it really were deadly.
“So what is it you want with me?”
Lewis twirled his phantom-pistol in the air, and pretended to holster it – brushing against the gold-inlaid handle of an enormous Magnum, and making her shiver slightly as he did so. When the air had settled somewhat, he spoke. “I don’t give a damn about you, miss. And I don’t give a damn about your noble mission, so long as it stays out of my affairs. Less guns in the world, hell, that just makes it easier for me and my boys to do what we do. But I want to make one thing clear: the instant you make trouble for me or for my boys, will be the instant that you die.” He collected his hat and left a large bill on the bar. “Your next martini is on me,” he said in parting. “Take care.”
She sat motionless for a second as he walked away, as if in shock. Slowly, her fingers slid her revolver back into its holster, and fastened the strap to hold it in place. Her eyes moved to the Desert Kiss, half empty on the bar, and then to the bill left by her new enemy. “Carlton!” she shouted, still frozen in place, but breathing at a pace to match her racing heart, and baring an adrenal and toothy grin.
She whirled towards the door, and fixed his eyes in her gaze. She read his face, his twitches, and his expressionless brow. “One of these days, I’m going to take that Magnum of yours.” The words weren’t spoken like a threat – more like a promise. Carlton smiled, and tipped his hat.
“If I am certain of one thing, Mary,” – she twitched at the mention of her real name – “it’s that you will try.”
A man with dark hair and thick glasses stepped out of a shop that had gold in the windows. The air at dusk was cool, and he found himself pulling the collar of his jacket over his neck. He wore a smile, and kept one hand in his jacket pocket, turning over a small box again and again. As he made his way distracted down the street, he didn’t notice a scrawny vagrant keeping pace with him on the opposite side of the road. He was passing an open alleyway when a strong pair of arms grabbed him in a bear hug and dragged him out of sight of the road. The scrawny vagrant crossed the road and stood guard in front of the alley.
The dark-haired man mumbled, but with a hand over his mouth he couldn’t form words. Finally his captor shoved him against a wall and held a pistol against his head, cocking the hammer close enough to intimidate the victim into submission. “Gonna need your cash, buddy,” the criminal growled. “Make it fast, but don’t make me nervous or I’ll –“
He was cut off mid-sentence by familiar sound, as a hammer clicked near his ear and a muzzle pressed against his scalp. “Don’t make a sound,” warned a female voice from the shadow behind him.
The crook froze cold. “crap, I know you,” he whispered. “You’re… you’re Guns, the vigilante, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, I’m Guns, and I’ll be taking yours.” He complied quietly. “How’d you know it was me?” she asked.
“Boss said…” the crook began.
“So you’re one of Carlton’s boys?” Mary smiled. “Perfect.”
The crook realized he was in trouble almost instantly, and shouted “Harry!”
“He’s right over there,” she said, grabbing the crook by the cuff and turning his shoulders to face a twitching body in a pile of trash near the entrance of the alley. “You,” she said, gesturing to the terrified dark-haired man. “Head home, but don’t call the cops, okay?”
“Thank you!” he whimpered, his voice shaking as he scampered away into the night. The crook began to shiver.
“Now,” Mary said, pushing him towards the wall and pointing her pistol at his forehead. “Let’s talk about where Lewis Carlton is hiding out.”
“And she just… let me go, boss!” the crook was huddled over his scrawny friend, Harry, while Lewis Carlton watched from the door. “I think Harry’s hurt bad, he ain’t woke up since she hit him!”
“He’ll be alright, Logan,” Carlton reassured. “She wouldn’t kill him, if she didn’t have to.”
“Boss,” Logan the crook began, standing up with apology in his face and tears in his eyes. Carlton cut him off by waving both hands.
“It’s alright, Logan,” he insisted. “She took you by surprise. Now we just have to make sure she never does that again.”
“She knows where we are,” said Logan.
“Then we know where she’ll be.”
Lewis Carlton and his gang were gathered in the local Whisper Inn, a wooden hotel chain built since the war, whose New Portland location rested on the outskirts of town. It had become their makeshift headquarters since their arrival only a few days prior. Carlton had Harry and Logan with him on the second floor, while the others kept a vigilant watch from ground level. Lewis ensured everyone that Guns was coming very soon, and left the details of the coming encounter to the boys’ ample imaginations. Her reputation preceded her – even police were afraid to get in her way in Richmond. The one-woman army would attack, tonight, and every one of the Carlton boys was on his toes.
“It’s my fault,” Logan muttered. Carlton didn’t say anything, with his words or with his expression. “I mean, she got us fair and square in the alley, but I’m the one that talked…. And now, she’s coming here…” his eyes teared up. “If she…. Gets one of us tonight…”
“Nobody ‘gets’ a Carlton,” Lewis declared. Logan nodded, and set his jaw, motivated by the determination in his boss’ voice and brow. “If she comes here, we will kill her, and that will be that.”
Logan managed to force a smile. “Well,” he admitted, “she’d be crazy to show up to a fight against all of us.
“Exactly what I was afraid of,” Lewis muttered. Logan pricked his ears and began to ask “what?”
Right at that moment, a rocket barrage erupted from, it seemed, everywhere. The hotel was completely enveloped in total chaos as explosions literally rocked the building this way, then that, then back. Ten rockets altogether burst against the hotel, sending splinters, debris, and bodies in every direction. Shouts and gunfire echoed up the stairs as the boys gave the assailant a barrage of lead – then another blast, and another. Lewis grabbed Logan and dragged him into the room with the unconscious Harry, and together they protected him with their bodies as the explosions tore through the walls, the supports, and the first floor. Beneath them, the floorboards groaned and buckled, but held – for the time being.
“Go!” Carlton shouted, when the concussions stopped and the telltale staccato of a gunfight began. He pushed Logan towards the stairs. “Get downstairs!” Lewis scooped Harry up and supported the man’s limp weight on one shoulder as he dragged the crook after Logan. His ears detected a strange pause in the sporadic fire from below, and his mind raced to assemble what was going on beneath him. He realized just a moment too late. “Logan, wait!” he shouted. Before Logan could turn, the loud thud! of a slug round from the stairs threw him into the air. He landed on his back, coughing blood. Lewis shed his load and furiously snatched the magnum from his hip.
Meanwhile, on the stairs, Mary chambered another round in her shotgun with a mighty ka-thunk and blindly sprayed fire over her head into the second floor. Her shot was answered by a flurry of incredibly precise shots, which shattered the molding over her head and sent the tattered remains of a wooden railing down on her head. She shielded herself with her weapon and retreated back down the stairs. On the first floor, she was surrounded by shattered glass, broken wood, and bloody corpses. She could hear the distinct Clack! of Carlton’s handgun almost directly over her head. There was the briefest of pauses as he stopped to reload, and she searched for him through the creases in the stressed floorboards. Their eyes met as Carlton inserted his new magazine. She watched the barrel of his pistol move, and saw the ferocious look in his eye, and before she had even thought of it, she dove down the corridor, away from his line of fire.
Upstairs, Lewis fired a round into and through the floor, sending wood and his fragmented bullet showering down towards his opponent. Through the bullethole, he could just glimpse her shadow moving further down the hall, and he followed her, firing every shot in rapid succession.
Mary reached the dead end of the corridor without an inch or an instant to spare, as death fell from the ceiling behind her. With only a moment to react, she singled out the nearest support beam stretched out horizontally over her head, and unloaded her weapon into the joint where it met the wall, cutting the thick wood to slivers.
Carlton heard a loud crack, and felt the floor give way entirely from beneath his feet. His arms sailed into the air as the hotel collapsed underneath him, and over his head, the roof now caving in and showering the two remaining combatants in sawdust and debris. The next thing Carlton saw was the muzzle of a shotgun, hovering just inches from his eyes.
“Holster it,” Mary commanded. Carlton’s eyes were defiant and furious. “You’ve got one round left.”
“I’ll kill you for what you did to my boys,” Carlton growled.
“If I’m certain of one thing, Lewis,” Mary taunted, “it’s that you’ll try.”
His eyes were aflame, but he complied, shoving aside a strip of roofing and struggling to his feet. He slipped his magnum into its holster and glared, teetering on battered legs. “You can’t beat me,” he warned.
“Then this is a bad idea,” Mary declared, tossing her shotgun aside and loosening her pistol holsters so that one fell to the ground, and the other slid down to her hip. Both fighters wavered on their bruised feet, dripping with blood and sweat and rage. Moments passed.
Carlton moved first. His right hand flashed to his grip and snapped the muzzle into the air in the blink of an eye. His finger squeezed the trigger, and he felt the recoil in his wrist as the bullet sailed home. An instant later, Mary’s gun leveled with Carlton’s heart. His bullet struck her in the abdomen, spinning her and shifting her aim so that when she fired, her bullet struck Carlton in the collar just away from his neck. Mary kept her footing. Lewis did not. He fell to his back in a pile of rubble, bleeding and still trying to pump rounds out of his empty pistol. Mary slowly and stubbornly made her way to his prone form, standing over him with her weapon at his eyes.
“Drop your gun,” she ordered with pained and heavy breaths. He pulled the trigger again, and again, as if repetition would summon a round into his empty weapon – but only an empty metallic click answered his plea. Beaten at last, he complied. She kept her gun trained on him while she grasped the exquisite handle, and held it in a victorious but exhausted fist. Then, looking at him with solemn determination, she gave one final command. “Never pick it up again.”
TL:DR -- holy crap that was awesome.
18 July 2010 - 08:28 PMYou know, a lot of things have been going on lately in my life... my grandma died -- seems like only yesterday that I was driving halfway to the East Coast to make it to the funeral. I've met people, I've said goodbye to people, and now I'm almost done with a really big part of my life in pilot training. Some big changes are coming soon, maybe a move, maybe some new friends, maybe some big life changes for me... anyway I've been thinking a lot, and this morning I sat down in front of the computer and wrote a poem. It's not about me specifically, but.... well, I thought it might be cool to share while I'm all, you know, introspective and everything. Read it if you feel like it, but please, if you do, read the whole thing. Thanks. It's titled "Untitled."
She was the most wonderful woman on earth,
Her eyes perfect smiles, from the day of her birth,
Her teeth, two white fences in perfect align,
Her hair a deep auburn and red like a wine,
Her voice made my ears lift my head to the sky,
Her thoughts made me ponder, her heart made me cry.
Her beauteous face made the midnight ashamed.
My dubious grace made me feel the same way,
but with tears in my eyes and a trembling soul,
I knelt on the grass and I offered my whole.
Such was my anguish -- my legs couldn't stand,
But the goddess of beauty, she did understand,
She squatted beside me, and sang the word "Yes,"
Put her mouth to my lips, and her hands on her dress.
"You've made me so happy," she said with a smile,
"In this romantic park.... with no bathroom for miles...."
"I'm sorry, what?" I asked with marked surprise.
The goddess, still squatting, said "Hey, close your eyes."
I did, and she kissed me again, our eyes closed.
Then a wretched aroma crept into my nose.
Acrid and putrid, and heinously foul,
Then a satisfied sigh -- one that came from her bowel.
"Yeah, that feels good," my queen happily said,
"The next guy to propose here should sure watch his step!"
We hugged and we kissed, and we left with the fog.
But if anyone asks who shat there, 'twas a dog.
02 July 2010 - 11:57 PMMoments ago I got a message on Facebook -- not a phone call or anything -- from my mother, telling me "By the way, your grandmother's funeral is scheduled for Sunday. See if the Air Force will let you go. Oh, and it's in Little Rock." I didn't know she had died. FML.
14 June 2010 - 05:40 AMhttp://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/14/world/as...no_interstitial
U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan
QuoteWASHINGTON — The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.
The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.
An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.
The vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists. The Afghan government and President Hamid Karzai were recently briefed, American officials said.
More in the article. Potentially a game-changer in Afghanistan, so..... that's, like, gotta be good news, right?