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For a few minutes, Ames watched as the tank slowly advanced, about ten meters at a time. The crew, inside, were pretty damn good, noted Ames as they’d advance down the gravel trail, come to a halt, traverse the turret, fire a few 120mm main gun and coaxial machine-gun rounds, then wait while two interlocking machine-guns dusted off the top of the tank to keep any Rangers under the cover of smoke from jumping on top of the vehicle. Dusting completed, the cycle would be run through one more time.

Peering at the tank and its position relative to the objective, he slowly realized that he need not be preoccupied with killing the damn beast.  If they could inflict a mobility kill before it advanced another fifty meters or so, the objective, itself, and its supporting bunker to its left, would effectively block any covering or suppressive fires from the immobile tank that would hinder the Ranger’s move on the objective’s lobby.


“Now,” thought Ames, “we don’t have the time to transfer the remaining Gustov from our left flank to the right flank.  It’s already been,” and a quick glance at his watch, again, confirmed it, “eighteen minutes since the Stealth’s initiated the attack and we are running out of time...that is if we haven’t done so, already.  If we can only come up with a deception plan to stop it long enough to blow a track?”


Squinting back over the edge of the trench, Ames surveyed the open area in question and the ponderously but fortunately slowly advancing tank.


Dropping back down just as a green thread of tracer rounds stitched the dirt embankment behind him, he turned to Dart with his eyes aglow.


“Top, I have a plan and all it calls for is immobilizing that tank.  We don’t need to kill it.  All we need to do is take its guns out of the equation before it advances beyond the dead zone created by the concrete bunker.”


“Lead the way, sir.  What do you have in mind?”


Ames began to run down a list of his men who had the balls and tenacity to accomplish what was necessary.


“Get Staff Sergeant Reagin up here...”


“He’s dead, captain.  Didn’t make it out of the bird.”


“Then get Coleman.”


“Took a direct hit in the chest with an RPG.”




“The sergeant stepped on a mine and lost a foot.  He’s with Doc.  May not live.”


“Not Watt Jones, Frank Jones.”


“Corporal Jones is dead, also.”


Squaring up with his senior NCO, Ames glared directly into his eyes, nose nearly touching nose.


“First Sergeant Dart,” he calmly started out before beginning to raise his voice, “help me out of this God damn nightmare.  You’re becoming part of the fucking problem and not part of the solution!”


The First Sergeant’s eyes sparkled as Ames realized Dart had gotten the best of him.


“ you want to hear the fucking plan, or not?” demanded the commander, a rueful smile lightening the scolding.  “Here I am trying to fight a battle and you’re fuckin’ with me.  Shit,” Ames muttered to himself but loud enough to be heard, “bet Chamberlain had better support from his senior Noncom.  Probably why the South lost the freakin’ war.”


“Why such an interest in the South and the Civil War, captain?” questioned the First Sergeant as he handed Ames a twig.


“Well, I had a number of family members fight in the war both as enlisted and as officers...two of whom were VMI grads.  All but one fought for the South.  Unfortunately,” Ames grimaced as he grabbed the twig, “the turncoat who fought for the Union was Colonel Adelbert Ames.  The son-of-a-bitch was 26 years old, the first commander of the 20th Maine...yes, that 20th Maine,” Ames acknowledged when Dart’s head began to imperceptibly nod, “and...”


Ames began to draw a diagram in the dirt.


“...he was the recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions at the first Battle of Bull Run.  What a destiny.  Now, First Sergeant,” Ames tersely demanded as he squinted at the Ranger, “are you really trying to piss me off by bringing this up?  My day’s really been bad enough without you rubbing salt in that old wound of mine.”


“Well, captain, maybe this is your destiny, then.”


“Actually, First Sergeant, I don’t believe in destiny.  I just believe in the fortitude of the American Airborne Ranger and a banana clip of 5.56mm armor piercing rounds.  That’s all.”

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