The Recruitment of the Knight Sabers
"I Want You."
Nene's recruitment message from Sylia
After arriving Chicago Air Guard base, Yamazaki was Sylia's number one priority. Since both Sylia and Lift Ticket were going be in Chicago for the day, she allowed the Tomahawk pilot to go see a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Actually, she wouldn't mind seeing a ballgame, being avid fan of Baseball, on a personal level she would rather watch the Dodgers play ball. Of course, she thought it was a sad day for the Dodgers when Tommy Lasorda hung up his jersey. Unfortunately business before pleasure, she needed to find Yamazaki. Grabbing a cab, her first stop was to rent a car. At an Avis rentals, they gave 20% discount of rentals to all military personnel, after a half an hour of signing forms and paying for the rental using her American Express Platinum card, good thing the government will reimburse her for using her card for business purposes, she drove out in a 98 Ford Mustang convertible. Lt. Stingray thought Chicago was a nice city, and a good place find the best ribs; but it must be a bitch live in close proximity to the El for some of the resident. According to certain records she managed to obtain, Linna Yamazaki worked as aerobics instructor at a 24-hour fitness in the better part of Chicago. The gym was located at the ground floor of a corporate high-rise. Upon entering the building, she walked up to the front desk and rang the bell for service; despite being indoors, she didn't bother removing her wrap-around sunglasses or her beret.
"May I help you?" asked a very bubbly female employee. This person was thinner than rail, which was probably anorexic or worse bought into all that alternative health crap.
"Yes," Sylia responded very politely, "I'm looking for a Linna Yamazaki. I believe she is an employee at this gym."
The skinny desk clerk answered, "Yes, she does work here, but she not here today."
"Do you know where I can find her?"
"Yes, she works part time as a martial arts instructor at a dojo, just a couple blocks away from Wrigley Field."
"May I have the address?" Sylia asked the clerk; in return, she wrote down the address, and then handed the white slip of paper to Lt. Stingray.
"Here you go Sgt.,” The clerk said politely.
"Ahem, I'm a Lt." Sylia corrected pointing to the gold Lt. bar on her collar. "Anyway thank you for your assistance."
Back in her car, she pulled out a Thomas guide; she estimated from her current location it would take at least 45 minutes to get to Wrigley Field. About an hour later due to traffic, Sylia found the dojo she was looking for. Upon parking in the lot, Sylia entered the dojo; it wasn't too hard find the person in question. Yamazaki was in the back practicing with what appeared to be a sword, but it was too far for Sylia to tell. "Sgt. Linna Yamazaki?" Sylia asked after approaching her, Linna sharply spun facing Lt. Stingray pointing her sword towards the Lieutenant's throat. Sylia didn't even flinch.
"Never sneak up on me when I practicing!" Linna told the Lt. with an annoyed tone in her voice. Then Linna's face soften as she backed off, "I'm sorry Lt. I've been having a bad week,"
"Understandable," Sylia said with a small smile on her face, "You're reflexes are quite impressive. It would take a normal person 20 to 30 seconds to react, you've reacted in less than ten."
"Chalk it up to practice." Linna remarked while she took a quick study of Sylia in her dress greens, she could tell from the decorations, campaign ribbons, the silver wings of a senior parachutist and the beret that Sylia was in Special Ops, a Ranger. "I take it, the Army wants me back."
Sylia gave a nod, "Yes, but is there a place where we can talk discreetly?"
Linna thought for a moment before speaking, then came a small growling in her stomach, "I know a place. I don't know about you, but I sure can use a bite to eat. With the classes and practicing those protein bars fill you up for only so long."
A few minutes later in a nice restaurant, Linna and Sylia sat down for lunch; Sylia took noticed that the lunch crowd poured into the restaurant. During the course of their lunch the two-shared a period of silence, "Excuse me Linna, I have a question for you."
"Concerning?" Linna asked with uncertainty in her voice.
"That you refuse to use a gun. I know you're not a pacifist."
"For personal reasons," Linna replied with a small hint of anger in her narrowed eyes and her voice. “I think, that is all that needs to be said."
That was a very touchy subject for her and Sylia understood. Hell, the deaths of both her mother and father were sore spots for Sylia. But in Linna's case something more traumatizing must of happened to make her adamant against explaining her reasons of refusing to use a gun.
"Linna, I came to you since you are an excellent close quarters fighter. I need you for this assignment." stated Sylia as she pulled a manila envelope out of her briefcase then handed it to Linna.
Opening the envelope with her nail, she read the orders and a smile appeared on her face. Placing the orders back into the envelope, she looked towards the Lt. "Lt., I resigned from the Army to pursue a dream as a professional dancer and hopefully go to Broadway. After losing that dance audition, I was pretty miserable. At least I have the military to fall back on. You want me, you got me."
When Linna walked off to use the restroom, Sylia pulled out a small notepad and a pen from her breast pocket of her jacket. In the notepad, Sylia had the names of the three people she was supposed to pick up. After getting Linna, she placed a check mark next to her name.
The two drove to Linna's apartment, allowing Linna to pack her duffel bag and change into her dress greens. Sgt. Yamazaki thanked herself that she had a roommate; because the Lt. told her that due to the considerable length of time that this tour of duty might take, Linna would have to put her possessions into storage.
At 2100 the Tomahawk took off from Chicago for Los Angeles to pick up Asagiri and Romanova. Sylia looked in the staging/storage area of the chopper to find Linna in her seat, asleep; in a way she envied her for that, because Sylia could never sleep on a moving vehicle. Opening her briefcase, she read Sgt. Asagiri's record. A lot of fireworks, mostly insubordination and fighting, Asagiri was not going to be a problem. During one of her training classes, she had to deal with a recruit who was a pain in the ass, she told him in a calm but threatening tone of voice, "look, you little bastard. Either you do as you're told or I beat your brains out. Understand?" Sylia never had the need to act on those threats, just the tone of her voice and the cold, dead look in her eyes was just enough for anyone to get the lead out. The Lt. never put up with any crap from anybody under her command.
The Tomahawk touched down at Los Angeles AFB around 0400 in the morning, Sylia decided to get a couple hours of sleep before going after Asagiri. At the BOQ (Bachelor Officers' Quarters) she procured herself a room as well as rooms for Yamazaki and Lift Ticket. Reaching her room, she dragged her dead body and her suitcase towards the bed, and fell flat on her face on it. She was so tired; she was unconscious within a minute, almost to the point where she could be declared legally dead.
At 0900, Sylia woke up, showered and got a fresh uniform on. First thing she had to do before she could have her first cup of coffee or even a decent breakfast was that she had to meet with the base commander. The base commander yelled at her for almost a half an hour for arriving at four in the morning without prior authorization or even clearance to land on the base in spite of the fact the Lt. showed him a small portion of her orders, everything else was on a need-to-know basis. The Colonel didn't buy it, and gave her a direct order to explain the true nature of her mission. Sylia's response to his berating was a way of telling him to shut up without putting it in those exact words by saying, "my orders come straight from Brigadier General Clayton Abernathy. If you have any concerns, take it up with him, sir." In other words since she only answers to General Hawk, Sylia did not have to recognize the Colonel's authority and did not have to tell him anything.
Once that ordeal was over with Sylia headed for the motor pool; surprisingly, Sylia was able to sign out a 2000 Mercedes from the motor pool. Usually luxury cars were reserved for Generals and other brass. Inferior grade officers and NCOs were usually stuck with worse hunk of junks on the road.
Now the first order of business was to get some coffee. Stopping at a nearby Starbucks, she purchased a large cup of regular coffee and the day's edition of the Los Angeles Times. Sitting down at a table, she allowed herself an opportunity to relax and collect her thoughts. As she began reading the front page, she reconsidered picking up Asagiri at this time, and decided to pick up Romanova. According to her information, Nene Romanova was officer for the LAPD working out of Parker Center in Los Angeles. Must be a pain in the ass to be LAPD officer since the Rampart scandal broke out. Especially for those who were never apart of that scandal, just trying to do a job and make living.
Within 45 minutes, Sylia arrived at Parker Center despite that there were lot morons out on the 405 freeway. Idiots who figured it was a good idea for either to put on their make up, shave, or read the paper while driving. Then there are those who think they own the road. Sylia walked up the steps, entered the building. Approaching the desk sergeant, Sylia showed her ID card and requested to see Officer Nene Romanova. The lady desk sergeant told her that Romanova was working her shift out of homicide. Before walking off for Homicide division, she had to take a visitor badge.
Entering into the offices of Homicide division, Lt. Stingray asked the nearest officer for the person in charge. In response, the officer pointed his thumb towards Inspector Leon McNichol's office. She had to at least let Nene's supervisors know that she had to speak to Officer Romanova. "So why do need to speak to Officer Romanova, Lt.?" Asked Inspector McNichol's. Leon would be considered a plain clothes cop, no uniform or a suit and tie. He was also a person that would get into trouble with the brass for his actions despite it might be for the right reasons.
"I'm not at liberty to say," replied Lt. Stingray to Leon's question.
"Well, she’s currently at the morgue, getting some details on a recent murder. She'll be back in 45 minutes."
"Thank you, can you have her meet me in the break room," Sylia asked as she stood up and shook Leon's hand, then walked out of his office.
Upon reaching the break room, Officer Nene Romanova felt rather nervous, she was given no details in any way about this Lt. who wanted to see her. Nearing the break room, she stopped to take a couple of deep breaths before entering. She walked in and approached the table the Lt. was sitting at "Officer---" Nene said as she saluted the Lt.
"Romanova, Nene. Rank: Specialist 4. Yes, I know. At ease, Officer," Sylia told her. Nene relaxed and took a seat.
"That's my old service record isn't it?" Nene said, when she noticed the open folder in Sylia's hands.
Sylia only nodded in response. "If you think you're in any trouble, don't worry, your record's spotless," Sylia told Nene. That put her mind at ease; she thought she was in trouble.
"I'm here since according to your record that you're a computer systems expert and a hacker par excellence. I would like to utilize your talents for a team I'm putting together,” explained Sylia as she slid the now familiar manila envelope across the table for Nene to pick up the envelope. After opening her orders, she looked it over carefully. "One thing I've noticed in your record is you have no previous combat experience. Something I'm willing to overlook, since I will be putting you and team mates through not only a refresher course in basic training but Special Ops training," Sylia stated with a brief pause, "I will also see in getting any additional training and proper field equipment for your Primary and Secondary MOS'."
Nene felt a little bit elated that the Lt. was willing to do that, if she decided to go back into the Army. "Lt., I'll take this assignment. Even before this whole Rampart scandal broke, I was shocked at the level disrespect I would get, just because I'm an officer of the LAPD. I'm only doing my job."
"I understand." Sylia simply stated as she stood up and straightened her coat. Nene also stood up.
Nene's first order of business was that she went to her superiors to tender her resignation and turned in her badge and gun. Leaving Parker Center, the Lt. followed Nene who rode a scooter home. Which had Sylia wondering if that thing could survive the traffic on the 405; surprisingly it did. In about hour, the two arrive at her parent's home in Rancho Palos Verdes. "Mom! Dad!" Nene called as she entered the door, Sylia walked in after Nene. Out of pure manners, she remembered to remove her sunglasses and beret. Entering the living room, Nene saw her dad in an easy chair reading the paper.
"Nene, you’re home from work early. I thought you didn't get off till six?" said Mr. Romanova, "Who's your friend?” he asked, looking at Lt. Stingray.
"Lt. Sylia Stingray, sir," Replied the Lt.
"Dad, where's Mom? I have something important tell you both." Nene said to her father, because it was something that would worry her mother.
After calling her mother's name, Nene's mom came from the kitchen. "What is it?" She asked in a rather cheerful voice.
"Mom, Dad, my commission has been reactivated I have to leave immediately. My CO, Lt. Stingray will take me over to Los Angeles AFB in El Segundo to take a military flight out to my new assignment."
The reactions of her parents were mixed, her father who was career army until her mother forced him to retire, was bursting with pride upon hearing that his daughter was going back into the service. Nene's mother on the other hand was almost in tears, worrying that Nene was going to get herself killed.
"Excuse me, while I pack and change." Nene said before leaving the room.
Getting up from his easy chair, Mr. Romanova walked up to Sylia. "Despite how my wife worries about Nene. I'm certain you'll look after Nene. I’ve served in the Army for a long time, and most of the officers I served under were mostly complete assholes. Only worrying about their careers rather the men under them. You look like an officer who looks after the troops," Mr. Romanova told Sylia.
"Mr. Romanova, you have my word that I'll look after Nene," promised the Lt.
Shortly after Sylia made her promise to Nene parents, Nene came down the stairs in her dress greens and carrying her duffel bag. "I'm ready Lt." Nene told her new CO. It was a long and tearful good-bye with Nene's mother, Nene kept reassuring her that she will be fine along with that she was an adult who was able to take care of herself.
After getting back on the AFB, Sylia pulled up next to the curb at the BOQ, she met with Linna, asking her to allow Nene to stay in her room for a short while; just long enough for her to pick up Asagiri. Before getting back on the freeway, Sylia stopped to gas up her car and grab a bite to eat. Settling down to dine in an up-scale restaurant, Sylia hoped that the A placard from the health department was not just for show, ordered a typical soup and sandwich and a cup of coffee. As she dined, she studied Sgt. Asagiri record and some other information on her. According to the information she has with her, that Priss was a patron and sometime singer at a bar called 'Hot Legs' according to address, it was in a somewhat seedy part of town.
Arriving at Hot Legs, Sylia parked her car in the side. Glancing at her watch it was about 1945 hours. Exiting her car, she used the remote on her key chain to lock the doors and activate the car alarm. As she walked towards the sidewalk, a big slob of a man grabbed her right arm. "Hey, Lt. why we don't conduct war games, if you know what I mean." The slob offered her.
Pulling her arm from his grip, she wrapped her hand around his throat, and shoved him against the side of the building. "Don't ever touch me!" She warned her aggressor in a calm, but a cold voice and fixing a cold stare on him, putting the fear of god into him. One thing Sylia had a very short tolerance for was people who try sexually harass her.
Entering the smoke filled bar, Sylia made her to the bar an sat down Turning her head, the Lt. looked out of corner of her eye towards a stage, seeing a band performing with a blond woman singing. The singer looked just like Asagiri except she was not a blond.
"What would you like to drink, Lt.?" Asked the bartender
"What kind of beer do you have?" questioned the Lt. Despite she was on duty and she has been known to be very anal when it came to following regulations, but there was a need to fit into certain situation.
The bartender ran down the list of beer from memory, also telling her that the imported stuff will cost more and that she would be better off buying the domestic. Making up her mind on a beer, she found Heineken to be drinkable. Much like Duke, Sylia was a snob when it came to the consumption of alcohol. Though not a beer drinker, her feelings that American beer was just toilet water brewed with grain barley, not even worth the cans they’re sold in. Sylia took a sip of her beer and savored the rich, hoppy flavor, definitely worth the extra money.
Finishing her sets and changing out of her 'work' clothes, Priss sat down at the end of the bar and ordered a beer. Asagiri was your typical strong willed individual. A rebel. Asagiri was type of person who would join the Army just for thrill of combat, that adrenaline rush. With the type of outfit Lt. Stingray was going to try have Asagiri sign on with, is going to have all the combat she can handle
"Priss Asagiri?" asked the approaching Lt.
"Who the fuck are you?" Priss sharply retorted when she briefly looked at the Lt. before she continued to quietly drink her beer. Taking a quick examination of the Lt., Priss noticed that Sylia was wearing a class ring from West Point.
Lt. Stingray took a step back, not prepared for Priss' bitter response, but this did not detour her from leaving without Asagiri. She just let out a small chuckle and let her comment slide, for now. "Not the type of greeting I was looking for, but it will suffice. I'm Lt. Sylia Stingray, United States Army. I've come to you to offer a deal."
"A deal? Look Lt., I have had a real bad fucking day, and I'm in not the mood for this fucking bullshit!" Priss shot an angry look at the Lt. “So take your deal and hit the road!”
"Asagiri, how would you like to see some combat? Not this bullshit reserve status where you’re basically useless or this nation building crap. I’m talking about using your expertise with a machine gun to your full capability." The Lt. laid it all out for her. Actually this perked some of Priss' interest and Sylia took the envelope from her briefcase and handed the singer’s her orders. "If you agree to reactivate your commission, I would see to it that your service record is cleaned up."
"I have one question, Lt., who's the ram-rod of this team of yours?"
"You," Priss said nearly started laughing, "You're an officer and a West Pointer, you're job is probably mostly behind a desk."
"Asagiri,” Sylia started off after taking a sip from her beer, "granted, I'm an officer and I've graduated from West Point. But I can never picture myself as a desk jockey, I'm in the trenches with rest of the grunts." Then the Lt.'s voice became ice cold, "Asagiri, I'm going to lay this out nice and simple for you; if you screw up just once, I'll have you bounce out of the outfit so fast, that your feet won't even touch the ground. It's much nicer than what would happened to one of my trainees who didn't keep up with my style of training, he would be shipped home in a box with a flag over it!”
Priss looked at the Lt. then burst into laughter, "Lt., you're all right. You may be an officer, but you got balls," Priss gave the Lt. a slapped on the side of her arm. Sylia rolled her eyes, she didn't even how response to that.
A loud disturbance at the entrance of Hot Legs made Sylia turned her head and noticed several bikers entered the bar. "I see society's garbage just entered the bar," Sylia said to Priss.
The bikers made their way to where Lt. Stingray and Priss were sitting. One of Bikers approached Sylia, he was a big man draped in leather, who looked like he was drunk or stoned already. "Hey sweetheart! Off of my barstool," The biker said to the Lt.
"Oh, is your name on this barstool, assuming the fact that you know how to write," Sylia retorted, Priss tried to stifle her laugher at the Lt.’s cutting remark.
"Are you saying I'm stupid, toots?" replied the angry biker.
"No, there is a clear difference between being illiterate and stupidity. It has become rather clear that you're stupid, since you don't know how speak properly to a lady," Sylia told the biker.
The biker losing his temper grabbed Sylia by the shoulder catching her off guard; shoved her off the barstool and crashing into Priss. "Lt., would you like me to take out the garbage?" Offered Priss, who was on the floor and with the Lt. lying right on top of Priss.
"No, I'll take care of this," Sylia picked herself off the floor and tapped her attacker on the shoulder. "I bet your mother didn't teach you how to treat a lady or the value of not to fuck around with a Ranger!" Sylia wasn’t the type who would normally lose her temper or resort to using her fists, but she has been known to defend herself when provoked into a fight. If someone did get Sylia on her bad side, they would regret the day they were born.
The biker rose from the stool and gave toothy menacing grin, "Okay babe, ya' wanna get trashed again?" Putting up his fists, the biker felt he could take out Sylia without breaking a sweat.
Priss leaned against the bar; this was something she did not want to miss. Let’s see, this Lt. Stingray is a Ranger; trained in most forms of combat, able to kill someone without a weapon or even breaking a sweat and the pea-brain son of a bitch she’s against is a typical barroom brawler. Man, is he screwed! Maybe Lt. Stingray can’t be all bad… even for an officer, Priss thought to herself as a small sly grin came to her face. “Hey jerk! I’ll put the paramedics on stand-by for ya! You’re gonna need ‘em!” said a taunting Priss to Sylia’s opponent
Sylia only smiled. The strike was so quick, the biker had no chance to prepare for her attack or even dodge the blow. Sylia popped him one in the stomach that had him double over, and then socked him in the face, which sent him up and over backwards. The biker hit the bar floor and was out.
The Biker, meanwhile, responded to Sylia’s blows by bleeding from his nose to the barroom floor. Sylia figured that her opponent wouldn’t be getting up for a while, seeing how he hit the floor rather hard. Picking up a napkin from the bar, Sylia wiped the blood off her hand. The puddle of blood next to the biker grew steadily larger.
Sylia straightened her tie and coat; then she reached down to pick up her beret off the floor. She placed the beret back on her head and then grabbed her briefcase from the bar. Pulling out a twenty from her wallet, she paid for her beer and Asagiri's before leaving. The Lt. knew it was wiser to get the hell out of there before LAPD showed up. Or else it was going to be very difficult to explain to General Hawk how she ended up in jail. There was also the fact she was not particularly fond of wearing handcuffs. The only amusing thought for her was if she did get arrested maybe the cops would have put her in the OJ Simpson suite. But spending a night in jail with the criminal element of Los Angeles and individuals who were better off locked up in the nut house was not her idea of the capper to a perfect evening.
Walking out of the bar, Sylia joined Asagiri who waited outside for her with a big grin on her face. “What’s with the grin, Sgt.?” Sylia asked pointing her finger to Priss’ mouth.
“Just that I have never seen an officer in a barroom brawl. Also that bastard is gonna be breathin’ through his mouth for the next couple of weeks,” Priss said as the two walked out onto the parking lot.
“I don’t get angry very often, Asagiri, but I don’t put up with a lot shit for very long either,” Sylia replied coolly.
“I like you Lt., Count me in.”
The Lt. told Priss to report at Los Angeles AFB in her dress greens and that they'll be leaving tonight, neither Asagiri, Yamazaki nor Romanova knew where they're being assigned since that was classified information.
Sylia had a clear idea of what kind training schedule and how she was going to conduct it. Making notes on her small notepad, starting off with basic training and lectures dealing with a refresher course on the rules of engagement and also lectures on combat stress and how to deal with it; towards the end of their training will be from learning how to jump with a parachute, to jungle, desert, mountain, and urban operations. Then their final test will be in survival training. Lt. Stingray never considered herself to be a teacher, but an experienced officer. Since she conducted missions in the Middle East, Southeast Asia. Just about in every hotspot.