Categories > TV > Over There1 Reviews
A suspicious looking officer commandeers the squad while on patrol and leads them into trouble.
Fandom: Over There
Characters: Sgt. Scream, etc.
Prompt: 076. Who?
Word Count: 3,958
Rating: PG-13 (Adult language)
Author's Notes: None at this time. If I think of any, I'll let you know. "Over There" is written and produced by the always-innovative Steven Bochco Productions, for the FX cable TV channel. I'm not making any money from this derivative work, just borrowing the squad for a bit o' fun.
In this installment, the squad gets commandeered by a suspicious officer, who leads them into trouble.
Camp Gordon Area of Responsibility
Western outskirts of Baghdad
Sergeant Scream reclined on his combat pack, trying to catch a small break while his squad crouched behind the steel plating welded to the bed of their ride, an M-35A2 "deuce-and-a-half" cargo truck.
The task force's modified support vehicles ferried patrols of squad and platoon size around the AOR, escorted by heavily armed HMMWV utility vehicles. Outfitted with sheets of steel plating pierced with gun slits, the trucks' protection was only a stopgap measure.
Despite American public outcry and the Army's own security concerns, the politicians that gave the generals their orders preferred lighter equipment carrying friendly American "peacekeepers" instead of rolling arsenals like the M-1 Abrams and M-2 Bradley fighting vehicles pushing their way through Iraqi towns.
This time, the squad's truck was alone, since their orders took them through a relatively secure part of the AOR. The more violent zones, where insurgents were known to hide in large numbers, was where the bulk of Camp Gordon's security troops deployed in force.
"Mrs. B", Private Brenda Mitchell, was behind the truck's wheel, her young face distorted in a scowl. Mitchell's partner, Private "Doublewide" Del Rio, rode in the shotgun seat of the cab, an M-16 rifle in one hand and her mechanic's tools in the other.
"How's your little boy doing, Brenda?" Doublewide asked offhandedly, glancing out her window at the passing civilians. Her eyes followed the mothers corralling their children and daydreamed about her husband and little child at home.
"Still in the hospital," Mitchell replied. "Same as yesterday. Same as tomorrow."
Doublewide knew that Mrs. B was generally unflappable, and carried herself like a street-savvy girl with attitude. She was obviously hiding her pain and worry about her little boy. The male soldiers called Mitchell "Mrs. B" because many of them considered her demeanor mean and bitchy. "I hope the Army gave you enough time to visit with him and see to his needs."
"I got what I got," Mitchell said. "It's not like I can send home untold millions from what the God-damn Army pays us to drive trucks around and get shot at. Can't get ahead of the system."
"I know it doesn't help much, but I'm sorry you got such a bad deal..."
Doublewide was about to continue when a uniformed man in the Army's new "digital" pattern battledress charged out into the street from an alley between two apartment blocks. She braced herself as Mrs. B suppressed a curse and slammed on the brakes, bringing the truck to a squealing stop.
In the back of the truck, Scream was jarred awake by the violent deceleration of the squad's vehicle. Instinctively, his index finger found the trigger guard of his M-4 and snugged into place. "Angel" King, the team marksman, "Dim" Dunphy, the grenadier, and "Smoke" Williams, the SAW gunner, were already tensed and kneeling on the truck bed with weapons loaded and ready.
"What the hell are they doing up front?" Scream growled angrily, sliding onto his kneepads and making sure the safety on his M-4 was set to fire.
"Soldier's flaggin' us down, Sarge!" Mrs. B shouted from the cab.
"Dismount!" Scream ordered. "Angel, you take the high ground. Dim and Smoke, set perimeter security while I go check this soldier out."
Angel leveled his M-4 on the roof of the truck cab, adjusting the aim of his carbine's scope while he scanned the onlookers' hands for suspicious movements. Dim and Smoke covered the tailgate of the truck as Scream stepped forward to meet the soldier that flagged the squad down.
As he approached the other man, Scream noticed that he wore a Ranger arc on his shoulder and the subdued grade mark of an Army Captain on his Kevlar helmet.
"Sir!" Scream said quietly, not saluting the other man because of standing orders. Recipients of salutes were often targets of insurgent snipers.
"Who are you, troop?" the officer asked.
"Sergeant Chris Silas, Camp Gordon Task Force, Third eye dee, sir."
"I'm Captain Marquez, Ranger Strike Team Bravo. I was part of the urban counter-insurgency reaction force."
"/Was/, sir?" Scream asked.
"My patrol was ambushed in this area while pursuing a suspected terror cell leader," Marquez said. "We were supposed to have the advantage..."
Scream sighed, his eyes darting around cautiously. "Enough said, Captain. I take it you need a ride back to your AOR to report?"
"I'm a Ranger, Sergeant. My mission isn't completed. I'm going to commandeer your fire team and this vehicle. Some of my buddies may still be alive in there."
"What?" Scream exclaimed. "Are you telling me the ambush just happened?"
"Couple hours before you rolled into town, Silas. There's no time to lose."
Scream grabbed the walkie-talkie wired into his helmet headset and triggered it to open the channel. "I'm calling my platoon commander for support. We can go in force to the ambush site."
"No!" Marquez said, grabbing the platoon walkie and yanking the headset plug out of its socket. "Radio silence! I think the insurgents knew we were coming from our commo traffic!"
"We need support, Captain," Scream urged. "I only have my four-man fire team. Six, if you count the truck drivers. But I don't think you'd take females into action, would you, sir?"
Marquez glanced into the cab and realized that under all the Kevlar were two female soldiers sitting there, eyeballing him right back.
"I'll take anyone and everyone I need where I goddamn please! Mount your team up! We're going back to recover my patrol!"
"Yes, sir," Scream said, resisting the urge to salute Marquez. For a fleeting moment, he hoped an insurgent sniper was watching the street, and the salute was a signal to ice this Marquez character.
And, in the next moment, he knew he made the right decision not to salute - in case the sniper missed. "You mud-munchers heard the Captain, we're his new best friends! Mount up and move out!"
Under Marquez's direction, Mrs. B drove the squad truck onto a broad boulevard in an unfamiliar part of the Baghdad suburbs. It was teeming with civilians who were walking around and going about their business.
"Are you watching the map and compass, Angel?" Scream asked the marksman, who was hunched over the area map the squad was issued by Battalion.
"Yeah, Sarge," the young, black soldier replied. "I've got our exact position, and we're straying out of our AOR."
"Dim" Dunphy leaned across the truck bed from his seat to look over the marks Angel had made on the map. "Can't we get busted for moving out of the AOR and not radioing back to the camp with a SITREP?"
"Hell yeah," Scream said. "But if this Captain Marquez is who he says he is, he would have to take the heat for ordering us in here."
Scream thought about it for a second, and then reached for the headset wire running down from his helmet. Plugging it back into the squad radio, he said to his teammates, "Fuck it guys. I'm calling this in."
Scream's signal was static filled and broken when he tried to contact his platoon leader at the camp headquarters. The radio had limited range, and Marquez had taken the squad nearly to the maximum extent of it. "Rawhide One to Rawhide Six. The patrol has been commandeered by a Captain Marquez of Ranger Task Force Bravo. We are straying from the AOR under his orders. He claims to have ambushed Rangers and needs assistance with rescue or recovery."
Angel showed Scream the patrol map, and the latest mark, which was almost to the very edge of it. "Rawhide Six, we're figuring our position, about twelve klicks northeast of the company AOR. This guy's taking us into Baghdad. We're gonna need backup. Grid reference..."
Southwest of the Tigris River, which meanders through the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, was a large industrial park, littered with buildings bombed out by the initial American strikes on the city during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Reported by Army Intelligence to be an important factory zone and river port for loading freighters and barges, the sprawling collection of scorched shells of structures and smashed piers had been the strategic target of several F-117 Nighthawk sorties the very first night of the war.
The roads leading in and out of the industrial park were littered with piles of masonry and smashed sections of walls collapsed away from their original buildings. Mrs. B carefully maneuvered the squad truck around the larger obstructions, continuing to follow Marquez's instructions. Eventually, the vehicle came to a halt near a large collapsed wall that had totally blocked the roadway.
"I know this building," Marquez said, "and there's a dock on the other side that my Rangers used as a rally point. Drive over there, and we'll dismount."
"In case you haven't noticed, sir," Mrs. B said with her West Virginia twang, "this big hunk 'a building don't wanna let me by."
"Fine," Marquez replied with a sigh. "Stop here and guard the truck. I'll go to the dock and get my bearings alone."
When Mrs. B shut the engine of the truck off, Scream motioned for Angel to take up position in the truck bed, with a commanding view of the holed buildings and possible hiding places. By the time Marquez was outside the cab with Doublewide, Scream had Smoke and Dim dismounted and walked around the truck.
"What's our next move, sir?" Scream asked.
"I need to get my bearings to the building we were supposed to raid," Marquez replied. "The dock on the other side of this shitpile was our team rally point. Set your perimeter here and keep your eyes peeled. They could be hiding anywhere in here."
"Then why the hell did you bring just one fire team in here, sir?" Scream growled. "You wouldn't let me call in reinforcements!"
"We need to move in hard and fast. A platoon or company would've given the rescue party away." Marquez motioned to the obstruction in the road. "I'm going to the dock over there to get my bearings. Stay here."
"You're not walking off alone, sir," Scream said, charging his M-4 carbine. "I'm coming with you to get a look at this enemy hideout."
"Have it your way, Sergeant," Marquez replied, walking around the rubble pile without even waiting for Scream.
The two men moved to the partly smashed wooden riverboat dock, a platform built atop a jetty made from piles of river rock. A wooden dhow was tied to the pier, and had miraculously survived the battles for Baghdad, unless it had recently arrived.
"Interesting," Marquez said as he walked to the dhow. "This wasn't here before. Someone new must be in the neighborhood. Keep your eyes to the east. Look for the long, yellow building. That was where we suspected the insurgents had a weapons cache."
"Yes, sir," Scream said, turning his back on the Ranger officer.
Scream noticed a glint of metal reflecting in the sun. He turned to warn Marquez, only to see the officer untying the dhow and about to climb off the dock into the small boat. Scream tried to shout a warning while his eyes scanned for more signs of trouble.
"Sir! Watch out! I've got movement..."
Two orange flashes came into view, about two hundred meters east of the soldiers. The characteristic POP-POP-POP of a pair of Russian-made AK-47 rifles echoed across the space between.
The first volley of bullets clipped Marquez in the leg, causing him to tumble into the dhow's hull. The Ranger began to curse as he fumbled for the M-9 automatic that was supposed to be strapped to his hip. The pistol had fallen from its holster while Marquez was falling into the dhow.
Scream instantly settled into a crouch, behind some collapsed masonry from an old boundary wall. His M-4 barked, setting loose a few wild shots to keep the insurgents behind the AK-47's honest. He thought about shouting for the rest of the squad, but when he saw Smoke work his way around the barricade between him and the truck, with Dim and Angel in tow, he knew he didn't need to.
Smoke edged himself up to a corner of the boundary wall and planted the bipod of his M-249 where it could give him a stable base to fire. "Sounds like you found what this Marquez guy was looking for, Sarge," the gunner quipped before opening up with a volley of high-velocity tracers. The red incendiary bullets traced tiny explosions across the rubble where the insurgents were taking cover.
Angel and Dim slid into spots between Smoke and Scream, leveling their weapons in the direction of the enemy fire. Angel cast a look of concern in Scream's direction. "Sarge," he said, "we left the women guarding the truck, but this place looks like it's the perfect hole for an ambush from every direction. We could be lookin' at an untenable situation real quick."
"I thought about that," Scream replied, glancing out of the corner of his eye to see Marquez struggling to bring himself up over the gunwale of the dhow. It looked like the captain was still trying to untie the boat. "For now, keep me covered while I pull our heroic captain out of that boat."
"I wouldn't go after that snot, Sarge," Dim interjected. "He's the dumb bastard that led us here. It'll be his fault if we all get wasted by an ambush."
"He might have brought the ambush on his last bunch of comrades, Sarge," Smoke added. "I say we pull ourselves outta here while we can. At least we can back the hell out in the truck and have a fighting chance."
"Shut the hell up, you guys!" Scream yelled down the firing line. "I want Marquez handy to give us some answers, so I'm going through this withering shit to get him. You three jokers just keep those positions covered and make sure the women aren't calling us for help. You got it?"
"We read you, boss," Dim said, loading a fragmentation grenade into his 40mm launcher with a hollow, metallic clunk.
Scream watched the small cascades of dust kicked up by the AK-47s wane when Smoke released another volley of bullets, aided by fire from Angel and Dim. When he thought the open ground to the dock was safe enough to run for, he gathered up his carbine and sprinted, equipment and all, down to the wooden pier.
Marquez was still trying to untangle himself from the fittings and lines in the bottom of the dhow, digging and swearing about not finding the Beretta in the bottom of the hull. His back was to Scream when the sergeant arrived and tugged at the back of his webbing.
"Get back to your position, Sergeant!" Marquez shouted. A wild look was in his eyes. "Unhand me! I'm getting out of this damn battle zone!"
"Are you fuckin' crazy, sir?" Scream shouted in his face. "You're not bugging out on us in the middle of a firefight! I'm taking you back to our skirmish line so we can pull the hell out!"
"I'm going that way!" Marquez urged, swinging his arm to point out into the river. "I've had enough of this war. I'm going to Kuwait!"
"You're not going AWOL on us!" Scream said, keeping a meaty fist on Marquez's web gear even when the captain yanked a fighting knife out of his belt sheath to cut the single mooring rope. "You're gonna answer for this, if we all live to tell the tale! You led us into a fuckin' trap!"
"I didn't know there were real insurgents here!" Marquez said. "I was trying to get out of the war zone. The battle was in a whole different neighborhood!"
Scream kicked the fighting knife out of Marquez's hands with a heavy thrust from his boot. Then he dragged the captain out of the boat and hauled him backwards across the open ground.
"You can get killed or hit right on this firing line, Marquez, but you're not leaving us in the lurch without answering to the brass for it!"
"Let me the hell go, Sergeant! That's an order!"
"The articles of the law say otherwise, you traitor! You're under arrest for desertion!"
While Marquez struggled to free himself, Scream tossed the officer onto the ground and covered him with his charged M-4. "Angel! Flexi-cuff this bastard! We're gonna back out in good order and get the truck rolling!"
Angel whipped a plastic flexi-cuff from one of his equipment pouches and secured Marquez while Scream ducked behind the boundary wall and keyed his tactical radio. He began to hear a transmission as the heavy drumbeats of an approaching helicopter came overhead.
"Rawhide One, this is Sabre Five-Two. Your company CO called in a report to the quick reaction force, and they're inbound. I can see your firefight from above you. Can you hold for ten minutes?"
"This'll be over in five if these bastards have anything heavier than a couple of Kalashnikovs, Sabre!" Scream replied on his radio. As if to punctuate his point, a white streak of smoke flew from the insurgent position, falling short of the squad's line and exploding. Smoke's shouted warning of "RPG!" was only a fraction of a second ahead.
"Roger that, Rawhide One," the OH-58D(I) Kiowa Warrior pilot replied. He nosed the armed scout helicopter into a shallow dive. "Let me try to quiet the enemy for you."
The lightly armed helicopter roared overhead at barely fifty feet altitude, as the pilot raked the insurgent position with his 50-calober machineguns. The pilot's fire was ineffective, and as he banked away, another RPG round exploded closer to the squad.
"I can't get the angle, Rawhide One," the pilot radioed. "Got any ideas?"
Scream looked at his men and shrugged. "We could try to outflank them, Sabre. Just keep guiding the QRF to our position."
"Roger that, Rawhide. I'll hurry them along. Sabre Five-Two is over and out."
"What's up, Sarge?" Angel asked, crawling closer to Scream to keep watch over Marquez. He had unrolled a piece of duct tape and covered the prisoner's mouth so he couldn't scream and give away their exact position.
"Chopper can't hit 'em from above. We need to silence that position or dig in for another ten minutes when the reinforcements get here."
"I say we go kick 'em in the ass for a change!" Dim shouted over the firing noises. "Why don't we crash the truck into another wall of that building and take 'em by surprise?"
Scream's eyes lit up upon hearing Dim's idea. "Dunphy, you just might be a little smarter than you look. Take your blooper and tell the women to knock down a wall. I want to hear you firing every grenade you have into those bastards until they stop shooting. We'll keep them occupied here."
"Can do, Sarge!" Dim scurried around the road blockage to get Mrs. B and Doublewide. Within seconds, the throaty roar of the truck's diesel coming to life added to the sounds of the firefight.
Moments after the truck was shifted into gear, Scream, Angel and Smoke heard a loud crash. It was followed by several muffled thumps and clouds of black smoke seeping out of every crack in the insurgent-held building. More importantly, the enemy fire had ceased.
"Smoke, watch Marquez," Scream ordered. "Angel, with me. Let's go make sure Dim and the women are copasetic."
"With you, boss," Angel replied, tucking his rifle into the crook of his arm and shuffling forward around the wall.
Scream and Angel crept up to the smoking shell of a thickly walled warehouse, carefully stepping in areas they thought were harder to fire on. When they reached the outer wall, Scream called into a large opening. "Dunphy! Anybody in there?"
"We're here, Sarge!" Dim shouted in reply. "The truck's worth about as much as a sack of cow shit, but we got 'em good!"
"Good work, squad," Scream said. "Let's pick up Smoke and Marquez, and get the hell back to our own camp."
The Stryker wheeled carriers of Task Force Ranger's Quick Reaction Force motored into the industrial park like bulls in a china shop, smashing through the piles of collapsed masonry and road obstacles with reinforced bumpers attached to their steel, anti-RPG deflection cages. Perched atop the QRF command Stryker, a Ranger officer rode with the vehicle commander, training the Stryker's fifty-caliber machinegun around the armored carrier's direction of travel.
The command vehicle stopped when the crew found Scream's squad guarding Marquez, and the Ranger officer dismounted the vehicle before it came to a complete halt.
"Captain Duffy, Ranger Task Force Bravo," the officer said curtly as an introduction. He looked at the deuce-and-a-half where it had breached the warehouse wall. "Izzat your truck that's half sticking out of that there enemy structure, Sergeant?"
"Sure is, sir," Scream replied. "You're a bit late for the party."
"Better late than never. One of my QRF Strykers can give you a lift home while we arrange a tow to bring your ride back to the motor pool for repairs."
"We did what we had to, Captain," Scream said. "We couldn't avoid being pinned down thanks to your buddy Marquez over here." The sergeant jerked his thumb over a shoulder to indicate where the squad was guarding their flexi-cuffed prisoner.
"Why do you have him hog-tied?"
"He wanted to take a boat trip down the river when the insurgents opened up on us. By my reckoning, there were four crispy critters in there, and a cache of weapons they were planning to use on us."
Captain Duffy clucked his tongue. "Well, well, Marquez. Impersonating an officer in order to go AWOL. Take him to Abu Ghraib and turn him over to the Military Police."
Scream pushed back the peak of his helmet and cleared his throat. "Ah, sir? What's this all about?"
"/Corporal/ Marquez was my company radio operator during the last task force raid in this sector. We had captured an insurgent with Syrian identity papers and a passport issued in Damascus. We were escorting the prisoner out of the raid area, when a cell of insurgents attacked us to get their friend back.
"In the ambush, Marquez was separated from the rest of the squad, but not before he took my helmet off the ground. In a cloud of smoke the enemy was using for cover, I had fallen, and didn't realize that I recovered his helmet. He was unaccounted for when the QRF arrived, and we've been scouring the AOR since, until your radio call."
"I knew it!" Dim interjected, ignoring a scowl from Scream. "That sonufabitch didn't act like a Ranger captain!"
"And how would you know what Ranger captains act like, Dunphy?" Scream growled. "Shut up and get Mrs. B and Doublewide, so we can hitch a ride back to camp."
Dim looked sheepish and nodded. "Right, Sarge... Will do."
"You did well, Sergeant," Captain Duffy said. "No one can fault you for following orders from who you thought was a legitimate captain. Your radio call to confirm your suspicions was surely a helpful red flag. I'm going to send a commendation for you and the members of your squad to your battalion commander. It's good that Marquez didn't lead you all right into a grave."
"That's a bigger consolation than a piece of paper to hang in our squad tent, sir," Scream said. The two men traded salutes before Scream followed his squadmates into the troop bay of a Stryker assigned to transport them back to Camp Gordon.