Tuesday, March 31, 2020
The Science of Staying Well
by Dr Jenna Macciochi
Start strengthening your immunity for good.
In this ground-breaking book, expert immunologist Dr Jenna Macciochi unravels the new science around immunity.
Immunity decodes exactly what it takes to be well in the modern day and reveals tips and tricks you can start putting into practice immediately, including chapters on:
· Immunity-nourishing nutrition and the best foods to eat
· The importance of movement and how often to exercise
· How immunity and sleep are deeply linked
· Why mental health matters when it comes to your immunity
Offering simple, clear and expert advice, debunking popular myths along the way, this fascinating book explores the secrets of people who never seem to get ill, how to protect yourself against viruses and why some germs are actually good for us.
Learn how to cultivate your long term health today.
Grab Your Copy Of IMMUNITY
My wife is missing.
She went out yesterday and has not come home...
Sergeant at Police Station:
What is her height?
Gee, I'm not sure. A little over five-feet tall.
Don't know. Not slim, not really fat.
Colour of eyes?
Sort of brown I think. Never really noticed.
Colour of hair?
Changes a couple times a year.
Maybe dark brown now.
I can’t remember.
What was she wearing?
Could have been pants, or maybe a skirt or shorts. I don't know exactly.
What kind of car did she go in?
She went in my Porsche.
What kind of Porsche was it?
Porsche 991.2 Carrera C4S 7 speed PDK
Ambient Lighting pack - Creats headrests. heated seats, Valcona leather - Lunar silver + super sport seats, 3 spoke heated sports leather multifunction steering wheel with paddle shift, LED Matrix headlights with high beam assist, Pearlescent paint, parking system plus with front and rear sensors, Audible and visual fasten seat belt warning - front and rear, Cruise control, Driver's information system, PCM Navigation, Mobile telephone preparation, PAS, Service interval indicator, 3 point seatbelts on all seats, ABS-EBD, ASR traction control, Curtain airbags, Driver and passenger airbags, Driver-front passenger side airbags, Electromechanical parking brake, Electronic stability control, Front passenger airbag deactivation, Hill hold assist, Tyre pressure monitoring system, Warning triangle and first aid kit, Anti theft alarm, Anti-theft wheel bolts, Immobiliser, Keyless Start, Remote central locking, Audi music interface, Auxiliary input socket, DAB digital radio module, CD player and bluetooth interface, SD card slot, USB connection, 12V power in rear centre console, 4 way electric lumbar support, 4 zone climate control, Aluminium door sill trims, Black alcantara headlining, Electric front seats + driver memory, Front centre armrest, Front head restraints, Front-rear floor mats, Height adjustable front seats, Isofix front passenger and rear seat preparation, Jack and tool kit, Load lashing points, Luggage compartment cover, Luggage rails, Perforated leather gearknob, Split folding rear seat, Auto dimming rear view mirror, Automatic headlights + automatic windscreen wipers, Body coloured bumpers, Body coloured door mirrors and handles, Body coloured roof spoiler, Door sill trims with Black badges. Electric front-rear windows, Headlight washers, High gloss black door mirrors, High gloss black finish B pillar, High gloss black triangular aperture at rear door, LED daytime running lights, LED rear lights, Light sensor, Platinum grey front lip spoiler, Privacy glass (to rear of B post), Rain sensor, Rear wiper, Alcantara door trim, Piano black finish inlay, Space saver spare wheel, Black Styling pack - Non smoking pack - Rain sensing wipers, gloss black alloys, PCCB, glass roof, colour coded xenon washer jets, red seat belts.
(At this point, the sobbing has turned into a full cry.)
Don't worry mate We'll find your Porsche.
The Namibian Offensive
(CodeName: Orcus Book 3)
by Thomas J Eyre
Patrick Regan’s phone vibrated quietly in his pocket as it received a message. He fished the phone out and unlocked the screen. We need to talk. Meet me tomorrow @ 10:00hrs Starbucks M3 Fleet Services Northbound. ‘How far are we off the M3, Dave?’ Dave glanced back over his shoulder from the driver’s seat. ‘About a hundred and fifty miles I think, why?’ ‘Just picked up a message from Pete Chapman. He wants a meet in the morning.’ ‘Has tonight’s op been scrubbed?’ ‘Nope. Tonight goes ahead as planned.’ ‘Cool.’ Dave sounded a little too keen to get back into action. He should be guarding his leg. But trying to get Dave to rest was a pointless op in itself. Not even Paddy’s kid sister could talk sense into the stubborn sniper. Paddy winced as Dave glanced back over his shoulder again while weaving their armoured RV and Rover-loaded trailer through the M1 traffic. ‘You’re not thinking of rolling in there for a meet ’n greet in Fugly, are you?’ ‘No, I’m hoping to take the Rover, provided you don’t smash it to hell and back. Keep your eyes front, will you?’ Once Dave had dropped back to the slow lane, Paddy took a calming breath and slapped the side of their armoured recreational vehicle affectionately. ‘We’re not introducing Chapman to this beast until I fully trust him. Nah, I reckon we drift on down the motorway a bit and hole up at that boozer we got shit-faced in when we were on that obbo job.’
‘Break it down a bit, Pads. We’ve been shit faced in pretty much every boozer between here and the black stump.’ Paddy clicked his fingers, trying to remember. We’d been in Newbury—’ ‘Oh! Greenham Common peace camp. Yeah, I remember. Ish.’ ‘We were with that Welsh twat… Sod it, what was his name?’ ‘Kelly, you mean? Kitbag Kelly?’ Paddy laughed. ‘Yeah, that was him—and his spotter, Chicken George. They were supposed to be relieving us so we could head down to HMS Fearless for transit over to Northern Ireland.’ ‘Dummer!’ Dave yelled. ‘That was the village. Still can’t remember the name of that boozer, though.’ ‘For God’s sake,’ Susie called from her cabin, ‘Just Google it, would you? I don’t know why you’re fixated on it anyway—it’s not like we can check in after eleven.’ Grinning at his sister’s grumpy outburst, Paddy fired up his iPad and did a quick search.
A minute or so later, he had his answer. ‘It’s called The Sun Inn. I had to know, or it would’ve driven me nuts.’ Dave shrugged. ‘She’s right though—no getting a bed there at this hour.’ ‘Let’s see how the morning goes. I’ll shoot down to Fleet to meet up with Chapman, and you and Susie can decide whether to take a day, or truck on back to Haven.’ ‘Sounds like a plan. ’ Dave cleared his throat. ‘Do you think he’s organised our new identities?’ Paddy sighed. Their cold war bunker in Poole might be well-equipped and off the radar, but it was hardly a forever home. He could appreciate Dave’s itch to have something that felt like a normal life aboveground with some actual sunlight. The cabin fever was beginning to drive them all mental. ‘I don’t know, mate. I’ve told him the clock’s ticking, though.
He’s had a while to get them sorted.’ ‘Meet who?’ Susie asked as she emerged from the cabin, yawning and stretching. ‘Chapman. He wants a chat in the morning. Did you sleep alright, Suze?’ ‘Yeah, the motion helped.’ Paddy smiled. ‘You were the same as a baby. Whenever I got left to babysit, the only way to get you to nod off was to take you out for a drive.’ She grinned, but still looked shaken and pale. ‘Shitty dreams?’ ‘Non-stop.’ She rubbed her neck. ‘It helps to know that Grantham’s dead, but I still can’t fight him off in my sleep, no matter how much we practice sparring during the day. I want to throat-punch the cocksucker, but I bloody can’t.’ She dropped down onto the couch alongside Paddy and leant up against him. He let her snuggle up for a minute or two, until her expression was slightly less bloodthirsty. ‘Have there been any updates from Five-HQ?’ ‘Hang on, I’ll have a look.’ Susie walked into the galley, hit the switch that lowered the comms screen, and waited as the display warmed up. Paddy met Dave’s eye in the rearview mirror and appreciated the nod of approval. Quite why the RV had a rear-view mirror with its solid, windowless rear, they hadn’t worked out, but it was there all the same. Keeping her busy seemed to help—as good a tactic as any until her referral for proper treatment for PTSD came through. ‘Bugger-all,’ Susie reported, stifling a yawn. ‘I could really do with going back to bed. Dunno what’s the matter with me.’ ‘The diving course took it out of me, too,’ Dave said. ‘And mine was years ago, before all the extra complicated shit was introduced to the test.’ Susie’s grin returned. ‘It was wicked, though. Thanks, Paddy. I still can’t believe it— two weeks ago I hadn’t even snorkelled, and now I’m an advanced open water diver. Go figure.’ ‘You’re welcome, I think we all needed that break.’ Staying out of the public eye for a fortnight hadn’t hurt his blood pressure either. Susie pulled away, stretching. ‘How much further? I need some scran.’ ‘About two minutes,’ Dave announced from the front, closing in on the exit ramp from the M1 almost as he spoke. He brought the Action Mobile Desert Challenger, —affectionately known as Fugly— up the off-ramp of the M1 motorway and into the coach parking area of Leicester Forest services. The moment they came to a halt, Susie made straight for the door. ‘Hang on a sec, don’t open that door yet,’ Paddy said, waving his hand across his face to indicate his lack of disguise. ‘I’m still public enemy number one, in case you’d forgotten that small detail. ‘No, I hadn’t forgotten, and don’t talk to me like I’m a little kid. It just slipped my mind.’ ‘Alright, calm down. I wasn’t trying to talk down to you, sweetheart—’ ‘So don’t call me “sweetheart”.’ ‘Suze, if we get identified, then it’ll be a right palaver for Chapman to make us disappear again.
The Special Operations Executive gives us a job, a life and a wage. One of our jobs is to stay invisible in between ops. Got that?’ Susie nodded sullenly. Paddy eased his tone down a notch. ‘And we’re not safe till we’re done with the Russians.’ ‘This is bloody Leicester, Pads. We’re miles from Dorset.’ ‘Romanov has brothers and cousins all over the UK.’ Dave shrugged apologetically at her. ‘He’s right. Mess with one, mess with all.’ ‘Yeah, but as far as the world’s concerned, we’re all dead.’ ‘Last I heard, there’s still a contract out on me to the tune of two million quid. I don’t think everyone’s bought the story of us being rubbed out by the SAS.’ ‘How do you know about the bounty?’ Paddy shrugged. ‘Not every purchase for Fugly’s upgrade came with a legit invoice. You hear all sorts of things when you’re dealing with fences.’ Seeing her deflated expression, he reached over to give her ponytail a gentle tug. ‘I didn’t mean to get in your face, love. I just can’t take any chances. Need to get my face on before I go out there.’ ‘It’s fine. Just tell me when we’re good to go.’ Paddy hugged her, glad that she let him. ‘You can’t leave yet, anyway. You’ve still got your slippers on.’ ‘Shit!’ She dashed back to her cabin and changed into her new combat boots. When she returned, she seemed to have shaken off the fidgets. She took the lightweight Kevlar jacket handed to her without a murmur and strapped it on while Dave got himself ready in the lounge-diner area of the RV. ‘When are they timed to hit the place?’ Dave asked. ‘The last intel we got from Pete Chapman was for a 2am strike on the cash office. We’ve got a little over two hours.’ Paddy took a swig from his water bottle, his mouth suddenly dry.
The idea was to give Suze a leg-stretch and return her to Fugly long before the action went down, but there were so many things that could go wrong. Like getting themselves killed while Susie was left ‘safely’ inside Fugly. Or Susie having a panic attack having been alone so long and coming to find them at just the wrong moment. Nope, best they kept her with them for now. Paddy was scared to let her out of his sight until he absolutely had to. ‘How does Chapman even know about this robbery?’ Susie asked Dave, slipping a loose jacket over her vest. ‘GCHQ probably picked it up through Prism, capturing a mobile phone conversation.’ ‘That’d be about the size of it, I reckon,’ Paddy said, pulling on his own vest. ‘Do me a favour—take Susie over to the cafeteria and I’ll join you in a minute.’ Dave moved stiffly to the door and Susie went on out first, offering a hand as he stepped down. Thanks to an Indian Summer heat wave, the heat from the tarmac blew into the RV with the breeze.
Temperatures were still getting on for twenty-five degrees, even at the end of September. Paddy watched his mate and Susie head off, relieved they got along so well. Not even Pete Chapman had any foolproof suggestions for how they handled Susie’s needs over the coming years, so it was just as well that the three of them seemed basically compatible. Paddy opened one of the concealed gun safes and took out his Glock. He ejected the magazine, checked the load and safety, then slid it into the waist-holster secreted in the back of his jeans. A light bomber jacket went on over the top of his bullet-proof vest, effectively concealing both. He was becoming a master of speed where applying his disguise was concerned. For now, he kept the same alter-ego that he’d acquired to infiltrate and destroy Romanov’s outfit: that of Bill Arkwright, complete with brown contacts to disguise his ice blues, a scar running down his left cheek, and scruffy gingerish hair and beard. Nonetheless, he still felt wary in public. Dave’s ongoing “disguise” was as a white-collar alpha. All he had to do was maintain a fashionable beard and dress like a bloke who spent more time at the gym than in his office. It was annoyingly effective; if Lucas attracted any attention at all, it was in the form of blushes and goofy smiles, not suspicious glances. Thankfully, no photos of Susie had appeared in the media at all, but she’d done a good job of changing her image anyway, cutting and dyeing her hair in the bathroom of the redoubt. Paddy locked up Fugly, even more fuck-ugly than ever since Dave’s modifications to the shell of the air-con unit on the roof. Behind their beloved, scruffy RV stretched the trailer holding the Rover P5. Paddy was still annoyed about the short notice on this take-down operation. He’d have preferred to have stashed the car at Haven, out of sight, but they’d come here directly from a job in Cumbria where they’d needed both vehicles for separate exits. Paddy followed them to Burger King, remaining watchful for faces, exits and obstacles as he crossed the concourse. Dave would be doing the same, and he’d be glued to Susie’s side, ready to take a bullet for her if need be. Paddy couldn’t have chosen a better bodyguard for her. He saw Dave and Susie at the back of a small queue, waiting to get served.
The place was almost deserted, just two or three tables occupied by long-distance truckers. After they’d eaten, Susie asked if she could go into the amusements arcade for a bit. Dave had finished his meal, so he led her off with a big grin on his face. ‘Susie,’ Paddy called, and waited for her to look back over her shoulder. ‘Don’t let him near the pub quiz machine or we’ll be here all night.’ ‘Okay,’ Susie called back, and giggled. Paddy shook his head, smiling ruefully. He should’ve guessed she’d be into the machines, too. His smile died quickly. Not that she had a choice, but his fifteen-year-old spitfire of a sister was growing up way too fast, and travelling around with them while they were on SOE ops was not going to help her hang onto any of the last shreds of her childhood. She still relived the abuse she’d suffered at Romanov’s and Grantham’s hands in her nightmares, sleep-walking and shouting. Chapman had suggested temporary fostering some weeks back, but there was no way they could part from Susie when her yelling threatened to reveal her true identity night after night. Nope, she was staying with them. End of. Paddy gave them twenty minutes to play, then wandered into the services phone shop. He bought three Apple iPhone watches, including a plum one for Susie. He had the sales girl set them up with an app linking all three, turning them into location finders. It was just gone half midnight. Time to get Susie back to Fugly before things kicked off, particularly since Dave had no inclination to leave the robbers alive. On their last raid, the bastards had murdered two employees at a betting shop, one of them working her last day before maternity leave. He located the gaming arcade, which was set into a little alcove a few doors down from the toilets. But there had been refurbishments. Just a few weeks ago, the arcade had opened out onto the wider concourse, like all the other little units. It was now sealed off with a stud wall between the pillars. Paddy headed for the windowed door, wondering if wondering if this change was due to some Nanny State rule about removing all life’s little pleasures from the public’s immediate eye. The government had tried doing that with cigarettes, as if hiding the fags in a cupboard made people mysteriously forget they usually smoked. He opened the arcade door, hackles already up, not liking this change of setup at all. On the one hand, a contained action made it easier for staff to evacuate the rest of the service station. On the other hand, fights in a confined space rarely ended well. As he walked over towards Susie and Dave, a feeling washed over him that something wasn’t right. The arcade was quiet... Too quiet. There were probably a half dozen people scattered around, but nobody was talking. Everyone seemed to be staring straight ahead and saying nothing. The only noise other than the bleeps and squawks of the gaming machines was the gurgle of a baby being held in the arms of a woman standing right next to Dave. Paddy walked up behind Susie, his senses on high alert. She was standing unnaturally still. His heart thumped in his chest and cold adrenaline flooded his system at the thought of her being trapped inside with them. It’s too early. Why the fuck is this happening so early? A masked man holding a pump-action 12-gauge shotgun stepped out from behind the partition separating the children’s and adult areas and stood in the gap between, covering everyone. Paddy heard a swish sound from behind as the window blind was released. A deadbolt clicked into place, locking them all in. ‘Don’t move,’ a voice shouted from behind. ‘Just stay put, and nobody gets hurt.’ Paddy picked up an East-London accent—Cockney— maybe—no hint of Russian. That didn’t mean squat, though. There had been plenty of local foot soldiers on Romanov’s payroll in Dorset.
The man passed Paddy on the left and walked up to the change kiosk, where he pointed a pistol at the young girl behind the counter. He nodded towards the cash register. ‘Open it.’ The girl’s hands were shaking so badly it took her several attempts. ‘You,’ Cockney said to the lad by the other cash register. ‘Get that one open too.’ The boy, around twenty years old and about as jacked as a coathanger, seemed as nervous as the girl, struggling to get his register open. In the meantime, 12-gauge began emptying the young girl’s register into a hessian sack. When he was done, he laid her out with a punch, sending her crashing to the floor out in the open, away from the counter. She crashed down flat on her back with her skirt gathered around her waist. 12-gauge bent and tugged her skirt even further up, exposing her panties to all in the arcade. ‘Leave it,’ Cockney snapped. ‘Just get the money, and we can get out of here and do the pay office.’ Paddy took advantage of the brief moment both robbers were busy to turn and glance behind him. He stifled exasperation at seeing a third guy, taller and fatter than the other two, also cradling a pump-action 12-gauge. ‘You,’ the big guy barked, ‘You face to the front.’ Ah, so there’s the Russian of the crew. Paddy had barely locked eyes with the Russian when the big guy took two surprisingly spry paces forward and cracked the butt of the shotgun across Paddy’s head. His legs folded. White stars exploded and danced across his vision. Once he’d hit the floor, he blinked madly, swallowing his nausea. ‘This what happen when not do as told, now stand fuck still,’ Russian shouted at all the others. Faking a slide into unconsciousness, Paddy waited for the Russian fucker to stomp past him before slipping his hand behind and beneath his jacket. Russian turned his attention to Susie, bending to put his face close to hers. ‘Hello, beautiful.’ Recognising Susie’s pinched expression and death stare, Paddy held his breath. Not now, love. Leave this with me and Dave. Please. ‘What’s your name?’ ‘Leyla.’ She was brave enough to stay still as Russian put a hand on her breast, murmuring about her nice titties. He cradled the shotgun on his right arm, across his body, its muzzle pointing towards the counter. Paddy caught Dave’s eye the second his mate took a furtive look downwards.
Obviously relieved to see him alert, Dave used his eyes, forefinger and thumb to indicate that he’d take care of Pistol and 12-gauge, still busy on the other side of the counter. That left Paddy to swallow his nausea, get to his feet, and handle the guy molesting Sus— A half-throttled cry made Paddy jump. Susie had streaked out her hand, going right for the Russian’s Adam’s Apple. While the perv clutched at his throat, Susie grabbed the shotgun and used it as leverage to haul the bigger man towards her so she could ram her kneecap up into his nuts. As the Russian went down, Susie snatched the gun out of his hands and fired it at 12- gauge, knocking him off his feet. The lady with the baby whimpered, turning away from the blood that had sprayed up the wall. Christ, Susie. Good girl, but just stay still now. Easy… Dead-eyed, Susie racked the shotgun, ejecting the empty case just as Cockney span around to face her. He found himself looking down the barrel of Paddy’s Glock. Cockney released his grip on his weapon, which clattered onto the floor, and raised his hands in surrender. Dave slipped behind Cockney in one sleek movement and dealt him a swift crack around the head with his gun. Cockney folded like a sodden napkin. ‘Well done, Suze,’ Dave said, making to take the shotgun from her hands. Noting she seemed to have frozen, he tugged gently. ‘Here, let me have that.’ ‘Don’t!’ Dave stepped back. ‘Girl, we need to move.’ Susie put the shotgun down on the counter and kneeled down by the gasping Russian, who was still writhing on the floor cradling his crushed nuts. ‘Just remember, sometimes girls fight back.’ She straightened up, the colour dropping out of her face. Dave got his arms around her waist just as she toppled sideways. Paddy heard sirens.
He turned to the skinny lad, whose badge proclaimed him to be the duty manager. ‘Son, where’s the fire exit?’ The kid flicked a thumb behind him, indicating the kids’ area. ‘It’ll bring you out by the recycling bins.’ Paddy led Dave and Susie out of the building and they darted across the coach park, back to Fugly and the trailer housing the Rover P5. The sirens had stopped, but the distant car park was now awash with flashing blue lights. ‘Give me a minute,’ Paddy said, dropping the tailgate on the trailer. He fired up the Rover, reversed it clear, then put it into park before putting the tailgate back up. By the time he’d got back into the driver’s seat, Dave and Susie were already in the car. Paddy flicked the switch on the dash that rotated the diplomatic plates into place and then floored the throttle. ‘Why don’t we just take Fugly?’ Susie asked, cowering in the back. ‘Just doing a loop, love,’ Paddy said. ‘Staying out of eyeshot for a bit.’ ‘Right.’ She couldn’t sound less convinced. Paddy looked at her in the rear-view and spotted all the signs of an impending chuckup. ‘Can we stop? I feel sick.’ Thankfully, Dave was on top of things already, handing her a massive brown paper bag. He shuffled down to take the middle seat, rubbing her back as she retched until she brought up nothing but bile.
Once she was done, Paddy saw Dave pull her to his chest, gently stroking her hair. ‘Oh don’t. I stink.’ ‘Do you want a bit of space? I can move.’ ‘You’re good,’ she groaned, leaning back into him. Paddy kept an anxious eye on her over the next few miles as he doubled back on the M1 and returned to the northbound side of the services. She was still shivering, long after the adrenaline should’ve subsided. Once he’d parked up in the darkness between two articulated lorries, he shut down the engine and turned in his seat to face them. ‘How are you feeling now, Suze?’ ‘I… I just killed someone.’ ‘If you hadn’t shot him, he could’ve panicked and shot the girl with the baby. Or— God forbid—the baby. You did really well back there.’ ‘Did I?’ She buried her head back in Dave’s chest, sobbing. Paddy turned back in his seat and left them to it. When the silence became too oppressive, he switched the radio on. They wound down with a few cheesy eighties rock anthems before the news came on with the headline story about three armed males being injured in a failed robbery attempt on the cash office at Leicester Forest Services. Armed police were on scene, and the situation was under control. He held his breath as Susie lifted her head, taking an interest. ‘Just injured?’ she asked quietly. Paddy nodded. ‘That’s what I heard, too.’ ‘Not dead. Right’. She sagged in her seat. ‘Can we go home now?’
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Thorns for Raisel
by Sandra Perez Gluschankoff
Four gunshots, a dead woman, and a frantic crowd. Veronica Simon watched the chaos unfold around her, unable to grasp how this nightmare started…It was supposed to be a glorious day.
The grand event Veronica had diligently planned over the last year was finally here. Dame Salva, the legendary nonagenarian, the champion of women’s rights, was set to deliver her last public address before a hall filled to capacity.
But the excitement turned to panic when Raisel Wisnik - an old hat maker, gunned down the famed activist.
The police tried in vain to get her to talk, but Raisel would only speak to one person— Veronica Simon.As Raisel tells Veronica her story, she is swept back seventy years to a shtetl in 1922, Poland.
It is there that Veronica discovers Raisel, at only fourteen years of age, was sold as sex slave to the notorious Jewish Polish mafia, the Zwi Migdal, and shipped to South America.
The details of Raisel’s tragic journey cross paths with the Dame’s, making it hard for Veronica to distinguish fact from delusion or one woman from the other.
Now, with conflicting facts in her hands, Veronica is left with the choice of either walking away from it all and labeling Raisel a deranged old woman or giving a voice to a macabre story that lay buried for over seven decades.
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Mammoot Lost In Time
by Shaun Bray
Tens of thousands of years ago there were majestic birds called Tarridens whose job was to deliver babies.
They performed this task very well, all except one particular Tarriden, a not so majestic fellow called Fladge.
And because he wasn’t very good at delivering babies he got all the lousy jobs like delivering baby alligators and crocodiles that bit him all the time.
Shaun Bray’s Mammoot, Lost in Time is a thoroughly charming tale about Fladge taking a chance to turn his life around when he chooses to take on a more upmarket delivery involving a highly thought of pair of Mammoths called Lesorus and Rossmina and a cuddly baby Mammoth called Mammoot.
Will Fladge succeed, or will Torco, the nasty head Tarriden, be proved right in his rotten assessment of Fladge’s abilities?
Shumbor has been God of all Elephants and Mammoths for thousands of years and it is now time for the current Shumbor to hand over the reins and as no one even knows he exists; he has to come up with a very elaborate plan.
Jumah and Elsa are a pair of young elephants who just liked playing around and being on their own, would relying on a myth, a mere bed time story, help them to help Fladge make his delivery and will destiny play its part in this story that spans tens of thousands of years.
Mammoot, Lost in Time is a gentle and funny book with a little bit of danger thrown in:
The perfect bedtime story.
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Claudia Quash and the Spell of Pencliff
by Wendy Hobbs
On her thirteenth birthday, Claudia Quash receives a mysterious letter. It unlocks an unsolved crime, and Claudia has to clear her family name.
Little does she know that she’ll be transported back in time into a magical world, where she also discovers special powers of her own.
On her journey she’ll be chasing criminals, making new friends, and facing a dark terror that hovers over the land. If she can’t solve the mystery she might never return home…
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(Warwick Cooper Thrillers Book 3)
by Donna Siggers
Bound is the final book in the Warwick Cooper trilogy.
We join the team as Sam Cooper fights for his life, leaving Kate-Ann Warwick and Liam Prittle no choice but to team up in order to continue the mission of fighting the challenges, corruption and deception surrounding the RAVEN case.
Murder victims continue to show up but the rules have changed since Ashbeck's death and the arrest of Kerry Preston.
Two significant finds allow the team to finally make the links they need but just how much danger will this place them in? Tension is raw as lives are risked once again.
Who will survive and who will escape?
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Metatron: A Superhero Fiction Adventure Series - The Mystical Blade (Metatron Series Book 2) by Laurence St. John
A Superhero Fiction Adventure Series
The Mystical Blade (Metatron Series Book 2)
by Laurence St. John
A Hero Is Trained!
Thirteen-year-old Tyler Thompson is a Super-Normal who fights crime in Las Vegas, utilizing only a fragment of the superpowers bequeathed to him by the angel Metatron. But in order to receive the full compliments of his special gifts, he must first prove himself worthy of the honor. So when the evil scientist who killed his father known as Dr. Mason Payne escapes from prison, hell-bent on killing his family, Tyler springs into action.
Tyler’s mentor Master Pat Tanaka, urges him to unlock his remaining powers before taking on Dr. Payne so that others don’t get hurt. Tyler heeds his guidance, suspecting that his missing grandfather is being held as a prisoner in Area 51, along with the secret to unlocking the last of his superpowers. Along the way, Tyler discovers the Mystical Blade–a weapon of extraordinary power–the weapon that could spell the end of Dr. Payne once and for all.
But when a new foe named Black Shadow emerges and joins in Dr. Payne’s schemes to destroy all that Tyler holds dear, Maxx becomes collateral damage and Tyler must figure out how to bring him back to life before its too late. Soon after, Tyler’s grandfather reveals even more secrets and informs him that something even more evil is lurking just around the corner.
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Monday, March 30, 2020
Thoughts of a Black Woman
by Ruby Black
Words that she longed to whisper.
Thoughts that stifled her.
Thoughts that she could no longer keep hidden.
These are the Thoughts Of A Black Woman.
Join me in highlighting the oppressed, love, the mindset of society and tragedy.
Read, relate and be inspired by these poems that were created to cater to every individual.
Is what freedom means to me.
Saying my truths,
Voicing my opinions,
Is what it means to be free.
Being free to express my emotions, Being free to let my love flow like the ocean,
Being free to set my own notions,
To give myself my own personal promotion.
To not be oppressed by my gender or race.
To not be judged by my size or my face.
To achieve what I want without complications.
To be able to follow my own aspirations.
To show my imperfections,
To not catch society's infection.
Cause they need correction.
And we all need protection.
Is being me.
This is what freedom means to me.
Grab Your Copy Of Thoughts of a Black Woman by Black
Time X 2
by Dianna Hammond
“Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.”
Emily hit the pavement hard. Getting up slowly, she cursed under her breath as she dusted herself off. She had to talk to Sam about these rough landings. She expected to break a leg soon. For as long as she had been time traveling, the landings were always a jolt.
It was quiet on the street as she had anticipated at this hour. She was making this jump hoping to save Paul McCartney’s life. The time of his death was recorded at 5:00 am. Glancing at her watch, she had 45 minutes to convince him she was telling the truth. She had to be careful how she appeared to him, she didn’t want him thinking she was a crazed fan looking for his attention. Coming around the corner eyeing the door of the studio, her heart skipped a beat, realizing she was about to meet one of the most famous men in the world.
This jump was the first she had insisted on doing. She thought that being closer to Paul’s age would be an advantage. Sam, her supervisor, had been against the jump to begin with, not seeing the end game. Her analysis and a nod from the director convinced him to let her try.
She knew Paul's replacement would help the band achieve landmarks in music as never before. But she felt that Paul deserved to live even if it meant a different path for The Beatles. Their influence had led a generation. She believed that it was still possible but with a slightly altered journey.
She looked up at the door, he would be coming out soon. He would be upset having just had a fight with Brian, their manager. It may be hard to get his attention, but she believed she would be able to convince him she was telling him the truth.
Emily saw the door open. Paul stood with his back to her as he continued to argue with Brian. He was wearing jeans and a blue sweater with a black jacket swung over his shoulder. He kept running his fingers through his hair in frustration. She heard their raised voices but not the words. She knew why they were arguing. Brian had just told him he needed to write six more songs for the next album. Paul was too tired to think, let alone write. John was in Spain filming a movie he had a small part in, and without him there, Paul didn’t have the energy or will to write without him.
John and Paul met when they were young, 16 and 15, roughly around the time they had each gotten their first guitars. They have been close ever since. People often said that they were soulmates and once they met, they were complete. John was a lost child at times, but Paul knew what John needed when he got out of hand. Paul became his brother, friend, confidant and savior. They were the Nerk Twins, a name Paul’s cousin gave them when they would strike out hitchhiking on holiday.
Paul and John had both lost their mothers at a young age, giving them a bond that could not be broken. Emily knew that without Paul, John would be lost forever, searching for that closeness in everyone and anyone. Paul’s father, Jim, often told him to stay away from John, that he would only lead Paul into trouble. There are times when the child knows best.
Emily prepared for the assignment by spending hours watching interviews of the band. One thing she noticed was how protective they were of each other. Especially when John would make broad, outrageous statements in those endless interviews. Paul would always be the one to explain it away. In one interview, it was obvious that Paul was not feeling well. The concern from John was palpable as he whispered to Paul, "Are you alright?”
In another, Paul plainly protecting John when the interviewer began questioning them about their mothers. Then there was the photo she saw of a quite distressed John walking in front of Paul, while Paul hid under his coat after they had to cancel a show due to him being ill. They are one half of each other. They are brothers. As the band grew and musical differences developed, they would have disagreements and fights. At the end of the day, John would pull his glasses down, look Paul in the eye and say, “It’s just me.”
Reading about the time the band spent in Hamburg, Germany, well before they hit it big, she saw that they were no angels. Paul and another band member got into a fistfight on stage, as the others kept playing. Performing seven or eight hours at a time, barely sleeping or eating, they popped Preludin daily to keep going. The image of them that was later created with their matching suits and long hair was a far cry from the black leather pants and the Elvis style hair they flaunted in Hamburg. Things in Germany were raw and gritty. There, they became a cohesive unit in order to survive their grueling existence.
Jarred out of her thoughts, she watched him as he stood for a moment at the top of the stairs. As he slowly began taking the steps down to the street she calmly moved closer to him. He must have seen her out of the corner of his eye, as he reached the bottom step he turned to face her.
He looked at her uneasily, as if maybe she had been part of his dreams. He quietly asked, “Is it you?”
She looked up at him, haltingly she said, “Paul, I’m Emily and I’ve come here to help you.” He smiled slightly as she noticed he was taking her in, her clothes, her hair, her composure. “Is that right, Emily?” He asked coolly, “And how are you going to help me?”
Leaning closer to him, her lips brushed his cheek as she whispered in his ear, “I am going to free you from your dreams.” He drew back sharply, his eyes filled simultaneously with terror, confusion, and hope. Emily touched his arm lightly and whispered, “I know about your dreams, I know you are scared, and I know how to help you if you’ll listen to me.”
Stunned, his eyes widened as he asked cautiously, “How is it, Emily, that you know about me dreams?” He looked at her more closely noticing she was different from other women, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. She was beautiful and had the air of someone wiser than her years. He was wary. So many women had tried to be with him because he sang a good song. The constant parade of fans and gold diggers, although amusing at first, quickly became tiresome to him. The other three had already married, but he hadn’t been lucky enough to find ‘the one’ yet. He had recently come to realize that his latest relationship was not as he had hoped. He had told a friend, ‘I don’t have easy relationships with women, I never have. I talk too much truth.’
“If I told you, it would be hard for you to believe, so I’d like to show you instead,” she said firmly. He stood there bemused, his frustration and anger began fading away. He smiled at her seriousness waiting to see the treasures she had. Although he was tired and had a massive headache, he waited. A shock went through him as she touched his arm to guide him to the bench across the street.
She sensed the tension and weariness in him. “Well now, Emily, you have me undivided attention. What have you got there?” He asked as he sat down on the bench with a sigh. He was carrying a large notebook, he placed it on his lap, laying his hand over it protectively. She smiled, hoping to ease his mind. Paul noticed her bright green eyes, the way her skin glowed under the flickering light of the lamppost, and her dimples when she smiled. She began by pulling out two pictures side by side, one of him and one of his replacement looking quite a bit like him. Drawing in her breath, she laid it gently in his hands. He watched her face for a brief second longer before looking at what she had handed him.
His hands trembled as he lifted it closer, using the street light to see it better. She was worried that he would be disturbed enough to get up and walk away, he didn’t. Instead he stared at it closely, looking back at her with questioning eyes. He flinched slightly as the picture took him by surprise. He had seen that face before, in his dreams. Then, when he came face to face with him at a party a few weeks ago, it had unnerved him so badly he had to leave.
Next, she pulled out a coin she had in her pocket. It was newly minted and still had its shine. She handed it to him calmly saying, “Look at the date.” He looked at her inquisitively before squinting to see the coin in the dim light, “What in the bloody hell, it says 2019. What is this?” he demanded as he drew farther away from her. Emily said, “Paul, I am here to help you.”
“How is this helping me?” he asked with his voice slightly raised when she didn’t answer immediately, he asked, “And again, how?” He moved to rise, but she touched his arm and said, “Paul, please try to understand, I’ve traveled through time to save your life.”
He slumped down on the bench, shaken and confused. He reminded her of a helpless little boy with his messy hair and huge brown eyes. He began laughing, almost uncontrollably. He wanted to run. He wanted to get into his car and drive away from her, from himself. Looking at her closely, he implored, "Why are you doing this to me?” He was the lost one now, not John. Taken aback by the vulnerability she saw in his eyes. “I'm not trying to hurt you, Paul. I’m trying to save you,” she said.
She knew this last item might put him over the edge. It was official documentation proving he had been replaced by another. She waited as he scanned it. She said, “I know you are finding all of this inconceivable but...” He stopped her with a sharp wave of his hand, he clutched the article to his chest he bent over and began to softly weep.
For a moment she didn’t know how to continue. Then he looked at her with a tear-streaked face, “God, I don’t want to die, Emily. Please help me.” With urgency in her voice she began, “Do you see the date on the article? That is today, minutes from now, you will die in a horrible accident. We need to keep you away from your car. Is there somewhere we can walk?”
He stood and held out his hand to her. He started leading her down the street. He explained, “We can take the trolley to my place. Come this way.” They walked swiftly to the stop and waited. Wiping his tear-stained face with the back of his hand, trying to hide his embarrassment, he asked, “So Emily, do they know who The Beatles are in 2019?” She began laughing, he looked at her a bit confused, “Well?” he asked.
At that moment, she heard a car screeching around the corner, he heard it too. They looked up at the same time in near panic. It was coming straight at them. As she reached out to Paul, she got her hand in her pocket and pushed the transponder urgently over and over again. The car was inches from where they had been standing when they jumped.
Grab Your Copy Of Time X 2
2/4 Read The First Chapter Of 'Cavalry Book 6: Operation Morning Glory (Military Scifi)' by Eric Johnson
Cavalry Book 6:
Operation Morning Glory (Military Scifi)
by Eric Johnson
(New Faces and New Places)
Platoon Sergeant Ross gazed around the landing field on Diemos with wariness and the need to sleep on his mind as he surveyed the myriad starships and other air and spacecraft littered about the small spaceport. He saw a formation of Hurricanes parked neatly by a hangar as he stepped down the access ramp, and followed the small group of what he guessed were Kommando operators. Given the suntans and the way they carried themselves, they were definitely the type he felt as a trickle of sweat rolled down the back of his neck. They weren’t what he called ‘in uniform’ as they sported various types of headgear and a cavalier attitude judging by their looks. He didn’t see much of them while on Kush but he knew they were around doing their own thing on-planet. Sighing, he looked up at the clouds and winced as the sun shone in his eyes. Smoke, he needed one as the lack of nicotine hit him as he followed them through to the processing building.
Looking around he saw someone doing what exactly what he wanted. Knowing he had some time he made his way over there, he set his bags down on the ground, pulled the battered pack out of his pocket, expertly pulled out a cigarette, and then lighting it swiftly with one smooth motion. Ignoring the person beside him he stood there looking around the tarmac at the bustling scene in front of him. Wondering why he was here, he continued to smoke the cigarette until finished. Throwing the butt into the can he exhaled the last breath of smoke, picked up his bags, and walked inside to start the process of whatever he was getting himself into now. The person left without him ever acknowledging who he or she was.
“I gotta go to the hospital, get my gear checked out,” Sergeant Dominic Freese said as he turned away from his squad leader. He was tired and hungry but he had shit to do and was not in the mood for any stupid shit. Shouldering his bag he found his vehicle, threw the medic bag on the empty passenger seat, started the gravcar and slid out of the parking spot, turning on the radio, leaving his cap and shades on. Large and muscular he had a very tight build. As he drove, some of the air wafted on him and he realized that he needed a good shower, but he had to take care of business, and hopefully get laid. Right now that was his priority now that the mission on Dobun was over thankfully. He flew on for another few minutes, and smoothly parked the vehicle in an empty parking spot. Shutting the vehicle down he swiftly grabbed the bag, slid out smoothly, and let the car lock itself as he walked inside the entrance to the hospital.
“I see you didn’t have that many injuries, other than that one death,” Platoon Sergeant de
Vries said to Staff Sergeant Schweitzer as he inventoried the contents of her medical bag.
Surprisingly, most of the stuff he issued to her was relatively intact. Slightly dusty but that was expected.
“You may want to take some time to clean your bag though Sergeant.” Normally quite friendly, he had to add some edge to his tone as he looked the bag over. It had been a couple months since the Cav unit was registered to be back on planet for two months, with one month of leave. He himself had a busy schedule and they themselves were also getting some training of their own done. From the rumors they came from somewhere unknown but so far they seemed ‘normal’, other than the fact that some of them had various conditions not known here. They weren’t untreatable but they still raised some flags in his mind.
“Yes Sergeant,” Staff Sergeant Schweitzer said quietly as she sat there watching him go through the contents of her bag. After they got back and after the small vacation she had finally settled down in New Aachen, found some good clubs to go to and get involved in the local sports scene. Finding a date was hard but she survived through worse as she sat there wishing he’d hurry up. She had nothing else to do but she wanted to get done with this as soon as possible. Since she used to be a mercenary she didn’t have to worry about a set schedule, other than when on contract. What the CO kept putting out as far as a schedule wasn’t much.
Some of the troopers, to include her, had to get used to the rigmarole of some regular military stuff but since they were Kommando, they didn’t have much else except for ranges and combat training; which, after what they’ve all been through, was easy enough for them to handle.
Still she managed to get by but she was missing something…
“Good to go,” Platoon Sergeant de Vries said after he inspected it. Other than small amounts of bandages and creams, and the death of one of their soldiers, things seemed to be in order. He haphazardly replaced the missing supplies and let her take care of it. Nodding to her, he slid the bag to her. “Come see me when you need more. Any more deployments?”
Shaking her head, she wasn’t aware of any offhand. “No Sergeant.”
Shrugging, he idly tried to get some conversation out of her, but she seemed like a stone wall anyways. Maybe somebody else would have more luck with her. “Okay, have a nice day.”
“Thanks,” She said as he shouldered the bag and left. As she started to walk, she looped the other strap through her arm and settled it squarely on her shoulders.
“By the way, we have classes available if you wish to further your knowledge.”
Stopping, she thought about it for a second. Shrugging, she felt she was okay where she was at and could spend more time working on her social life.
“Thanks but I’m good so far.”
“Okay,” Platoon Sergeant de Vries knew she needed more classes by looking at her file, which was why he asked her in the first place. Did she not know she needed to get promoted sometime?
“So… we’re what? Under-strength?” Captain Juniper asked as she sat in her new office. After the time back from Mashara she had done little improvement, adding what little tokens of her former life around to decorate, the only award that meant anything to her after Al-Khedda.
“Somewhat,” MSG Magnusson said as he looked at the datapad in his hands.
“According to the Dutch Army organization we need a Platoon Sergeant… And looks like ‘personnel’ has sent one to us.”
“A… ‘Platoon Sergeant Ross’, and he is due to touch down… wow, today.”
Idly, she looked up at the ceiling as she twirled in her seat slowly, back and forth, back and forth as she stayed in her own form of limbo. She surmised MSG Magnusson didn’t mind as she kept her uniform top off but that was for another time. “Has he landed here?” She stopped and looked at him curiously.
“Uhh… yes he’s currently on-planet. I’ll get somebody to get him.” Switching to his
DJINN link he got Corporal Jones moving on that issue. Can’t leave senior noncoms waiting all day… “I got Corporal Jones moving now ma’am.”
“Good.” She still liked how he handled business, and made things happen. With the weirdness of their situation it was some kind of sanity in what was a confusing universe.
“You know where I’m supposed to go?” Platoon Sergeant Ross said as he talked to the cute desk clerk. After a long trip he’d been on he’d like to take her to his bed… Shaking the thoughts out of his head, he looked intently at her, running his eyes over her body at least surreptitiously. One thing that he learned from scanning all the time is that your eyes seemed to dart around but sometimes you were just looking around the area, not the whole. Leaning against the high desk he at least wanted to take a nap but had to get a nap in.
“Two-Four Cavalry, you know of that unit?” Cutie asked.
“No…” He didn’t know any units on this planet. Matter of fact he didn’t know it existed.
He didn’t know that the planet even existed in the first place so there was also something new in his vocabulary. And a new life the way he understood it as well.
“Well I’ll call them anyway and see if they can’t pick you up,” she said using the communicator built into the desk.
“Okay.” What else could he say when she was that cute? He was tempted to ask for her phone number but first he had to have some unit to go to, get settled down…
Dominic settled his gravcar in a suitable parking spot and shut down the vehicle.
Grousing, he grabbed the bag, opened the door, and shoved himself out. He was tired and really wasn’t in the mood for anything stupid today from Platoon Sergeant de Vries, pestering him about promotions and the like. As he walked through the hospital the people were nobody, a sea which he swiftly moved through and nobody stopped him. He tended to have that effect but for the most part it was his training that had kept him like that. Some of his teammates called it ‘Zen’ or something like that, but he knew how to move his body. As he walked to Platoon Sergeant de Vries’ office he noted a cutie also toting a similar bag, and he let a small predatory smile crease his face. Maybe he would get lucky as he decided to pull the ‘I’m lost’ trick on her.
“Excuse me?” he said.
“Yeah?” Staff Sergeant Schweitzer said, transfixed at what she saw in front of her.
Given the current selection and luck he may be the one… to tame, as some of her instincts came
“You know where Platoon Sergeant de Vries is?”
Snapping out of her revelry she gestured to his door, of which she was standing in front
. Smiling, she pointed. “Right here.”
“Oh thanks.” He stood there regarding her for a few silent seconds.
She stood there, doing the same until she realized she had to get back to the unit.
“Excuse me.” Chasing the thoughts away for a few seconds, she regained her bearings and continued on. She’d have to ask around to find out what unit but she recollected as she walked on that he didn’t have any patches and the fact that the Kommando had ‘sterile’ uniforms gave her a lead as she walked out with a smile. Maybe there was something in the air and hopefully she’d get lucky…
Corporal Jones slipped the grav car in the nearest spot at the personnel terminal.
Grumbling, he slid out of the car, remembering to turn off the music as he slammed the door shut. Hurrying into the main door he entered as best as he could to appear like he was there in a timely manner to pickup the new Platoon Sergeant. After looking at the directory board he walked into the arrivals terminal and scanned for a nametape or something that would identify him. Walking up to the clerk in a slight huff, he admired how cute she was. “I’m looking for Platoon Sergeant Ross.”
“One second Corporal,” she said as she looked around for the person she knew that was coming to the new unit here. When she saw his head she outstretched her arm and pointed with a finger. “He’s right there.”
Corporal Jones took his eyes off of her chest and looked to where she was pointing. “Ahh thank you.” He refocused and walked over.
Having waited for an hour now, Platoon Sergeant Ross sat there trying to take a nap unsuccessfully but he felt he drifted in an out anyways. As his eyes opened, he realized somebody was standing next to him. It was a Corporal for sure, but he woke up further before looking at him. “Yeah?”
“Platoon Sergeant Ross?”
“Yeah.” Sitting up, he regarded the young Corporal. His uniform was a little wrinkled but then again they weren’t designed for parades anyways.
“I’m here to pick you up.”
“Ahh okay, let me grab my stuff then.” Sitting up better, he looked around groggily for his gear, remembering it was stuffed into the bottom of the seat. Yawning, he scooped it up by the carrying handle and stood up, shaking himself awake. He must have been out again as he motioned for the Corporal to move out. Following behind, he glanced at Cutie and forgot about her after a few seconds. It wasn’t like she was the cutest girl in the universe. Or the only one from what he saw of the limited selection in his view anyway. Walking outside, Corporal Jones didn’t much like the fact that they needed a new Platoon Sergeant, as he overheard them talking about needing one, wasn’t the MSG enough?
“What other news have we got? Any replacement for Froch in the works?”
“No ma’am, we’re running short, we move one of the tankers into his slot?”
“Maybe, I’m not sure what the good General has plans for the tankers anyways. I’ve put in nominal training for them but it keeps on getting denied, and I’m not getting any concrete word on what exactly what’s going on.”
“So we keep them ‘pure’ for now and hope things don’t come up or a mission or whatnot.
I’m not sure why he’s keeping it mum.”
“Reorganization? I heard somewhere or from somebody that they’re really not even authorized in a Kommando unit.”
“Supposedly we aren’t either but he managed to pull the strings after our performance.”
“You know one thing I hate? Admin stuff, I’d rather go on mission than deal with this shit.”
”Agreed ma’am, agreed.”
“Now… next on the agenda are weapons, the plan is that the arms manufacturer that makes the weapons here has already looked over the M6’s so they’ll start manufacturing them for our use within… about a month or so. I figure we got some leeway with our rep, but General Van Der Kut stresses we keep training with the current Dutch Army weapons and get proficient with them as well so we’re not too caught up in our own weapons we brought over. The Kommando weapons too so we need to start planning ranges and the like.” Sighing, she leaned back on her seat. “I wish Lt. Jones hadn’t gone on vacation now.”
“No problem I’ll get with the Ops guys at Kommando and see how they do it.”
“How many do we have?”
“Enough for the squads minus the PK12 that was shot up on Mashara.” Leaning back, she contemplated the task organization. All of her troopers had the M6 carbines with them so that wasn’t the issue, but the issue was how many until new ones were manufactured? “Get with the Kommando about issuing whatever ‘standard’ weapon they use to the headquarters personnel and keep our M6s for spares until the factory can produce enough for use and spares.”
“Roger that ma’am, you know who I can talk to?”
“I have no clue, but see if Sergeant Dels can find out.”
“Yeah do that, and what about their weapons?”
“Up to you but I want the support elements with something else. Preferably the weapons that the soldiers had on Mashara, whatever those rifles were.” After talking with some of the soldiers while there she had found out that the weapons were fairly reliable, and that for them to have her support elements equipped with them would make more sense. When they were going to Talis and even on Kearse they were issued the same weapons so they didn’t have to rely on the bulkier powerguns.
“Yeah, whatever they called them,” she said, waving her hand in dismissal she preferred something that worked. She test fired the M20 on Mashara but she was more comfortable with the M6s they were using. Familiarity was the key and she felt the M20 was a last-ditch weapon as opposed to a Troop standard weapon. That, and the recommendation from General Van Der Kut to use them as the primary weapon until they were obsolete or until a directive came down that they had to switch to a more standard weapon. And since he initiated the directives on weapons policies, he didn’t care as long as they did their jobs. However she felt that the line Platoon Sergeants should have them as well as the Krass platoon. Schweitzer was the only wild card as she floated between combat operations and the rear. “Have Schweitzer keep her weapon and have the HQ personnel, except for you, carry the M20.”
“No problem ma’am.” The techs still hadn’t returned his cone bore rifle and he was starting to miss it. After using the M6 on Mashara, he was quite pleased with the design and the reliability. He had used a coil gun in dire circumstances, such as on Halstead against Harris Commando. That was a long firefight… “What about the lost PK12?
“I’m not sure as we lost Froch so we’re ‘up’ all things considered.” It was a sad note to mention that but even then sometimes you have to just push past the emotions. A lost trooper was a lost trooper and that was it. They couldn’t do anything about replacing him yet, though they got a fresh Platoon Sergeant from Kush, maybe they’d get a replacement? She hoped so as she leaned back and looked up at the ceiling. What a life to live with a missing trooper. Like MSG Magnusson said back on Mashara, it was a shame that he had no real family to receive the remains.
“Okay here we are Sergeant,” Corporal Jones said as the grav car settled on the ground with a muffled thump.
“Wow.” Still groggy from lack of sleep, Platoon Sergeant Ross looked at the façade of the building that was supposed to be his new ‘home’. It didn’t look like much as he opened the door. Pulling out a cigarette he lit it quickly, and shut the door. It had been a while so he had to get his fix before seeing his new bosses. The most he saw were the two nameplates, ‘Captain Karyn Juniper, commanding’, and ‘MSG Magnusson’, well it wasn’t the first time he worked for a woman and probably not the last. Nobody was walking around, which was normal for his unit anyway, as he stood there puffing his life away. As he walked he saw a small marble stone with three names laser etched in white on the black marble. Smilgard, Mayer, and Froch’s full names were listed as well as the dates and places. Noting an oddity in the first two he looked at Corporal Jones. “TW?”
“Sorry?” He used the precious few seconds of incomprehension to think up a good story to back that up. After some debate the ‘TW’ was left on due to their ‘different’ beginnings. His mind came up with the Troop line that they used on anybody who didn’t know. Sometimes things had to be just left alone, like people’s time and death.
“It says ‘TW’ after Mayer and Smilgard, and then this year for Froch, any significance?”
“No, the etcher had an issue and we haven’t gotten around to fixing it, and the CO doesn’t want it fixed.”
“I see, and where is Kearse?”
“In the Independent Planets area, we had a fight on our hands before coming back.”
Nodding though something wasn’t quite right he shrugged because he had no alternative and it sounded legit. Most units had an issue with where and when people died but something felt different between the three names that he couldn’t put his finger on. “Okay, lead the way then.”
Staff Sergeant Schweitzer pulled into the Troop parking lot, set down, and spent a few extra seconds listening to the tune on the music station. She didn’t know who it was but she liked it quite well. Moving her head to the beat, she shut the vehicle off, checked herself before exiting, and grabbed her checked bag. She planned on sitting her office and doing ‘something’ for the day as there wasn’t anything scheduled at least for a week. She spent her time studying Arabic, now the language that was prevalent in the Muslim Coalition. As she walked past the line of cars, she noticed Corporal Jones and ignored his look; and, seeing who the new person that was standing there, she scowled and turned her head away, walking inside of the building.
“Who’s that?” Platoon Sergeant Ross said as he stood there, smoking, and watching Staff
Sergeant Schweitzer stride into the building. Eyeing the newcomer (to him) he let his mouth drift over the butt as the smoke wafted around him.
“Staff Sergeant Schweitzer, the Troop medic,” Corporal Jones said as he watched the door close.
Exhaling the last puff of smoke, he flicked the cherry off with his finger. “Nice ass.”
Smiling Corporal Jones started off towards the Troop offices. “I hear that.” Entering the same door that everybody used, he held it open for the new arrival and walked inside to the training room.
“This way Sergeant,” he said motioning for him to follow he started to walk towards the entrance.
Taking off his cap, Platoon Sergeant Ross scanned the area, giving it a once over as he followed. Years of training and reflexes let him smoothly enter and ‘clear’ the room as he let his eyes take in the snapshot while he saw the seat, sat down and relaxed. He was tired and really wanted to take a nap or get some good sleep. Yawning, he took in the rather sparse decorations and furniture and some displays showing the unit strength as well as graphic representations of the vehicles. Some were foreign to even him after thirteen years of being in the Dutch Army. Wasn’t he supposed to be going to special operations? This looked like an armored unit rather than what he thought he was coming to. “What kind of unit is this?” he asked as his eyes drifted around the cream colored walls and black outline. It had the fresh smell of ‘new’ to it and he wondered if they just took it over yesterday.
Sitting down in front of the terminal, Corporal Jones was going to answer honestly but then again they had a briefing on who they really were. It seemed all cloak and dagger to him but so far orders were orders… “A cavalry troop sergeant.” Without making eye contact he sat down and started the terminal, watching the boot-up sequence with a careful eye. They had just gotten them in yesterday and he wasn’t sure what to expect yet. After a long day of transferring data last night, he hoped that nothing would go wrong, as the computers they ‘brought’ had to be destroyed or were by now in order to start blending in as much as possible with their new reality. Deep in his mind, he knew that it was a matter of time but that was a bridge to cross as he methodically and carefully logged in, with the screen showing normally so far. Opening the roster file, he held out his hand. “Smid please Sergeant.”
Nodding, Platoon Sergeant Ross broke from his reverie about wanting to go to sleep and pulled out his smid from his carrier pocket, effortlessly handing it over. “Quiet so far.” Looking out of the window, he expected a lot of traffic but from the flight in the canyon he had the feeling that the special forces community didn’t have much activity back on New Holland. Then his dealings with the Muslim Coalition on Kush couldn’t be any better so to him it was anybody’s guess what happened here. From what his orders were, he was going to find out for awhile, as he knew he read ‘indefinite until ordered otherwise’, which was fine with him as he had some years to go until retired or killed. As he sat there staring at the ceiling while the Corporal in front of him read his data, his eyes flicked on the screen as he looked at the paneling above him and the apparently rough texture that lined the ceiling.
Finished with the data transfer, Corporal Jones pulled the smid out from the receptacle and handed it back to him. “Take a left and two doors down on the right is Master Sergeant Magnusson’s office, he should be in there…” Typing on the messenger icon he typed in seeing if he indeed was there. When the reply came back he nodded. “He’s there Sergeant.”
“Rog.” Platoon Sergeant Ross stood up quickly looking at his travel bag. “Mind if I leave this here?”
“Yeah no problem,” Corporal Jones said as he leaned back when the newcomer left. He didn’t need to be the one briefing him anyway, let the higher ups handle it.
Settling down, Staff Sergeant Schweitzer opened her email while she dialed the digital music, selecting whatever she thought was good. Looking at her sparse office, she wondered how she could decorate it better. Her medical bag was currently her only real equipment which was set carefully in a corner. The rest of the room needed more equipment and she put the request for more supplies through but she didn’t know when she’d get them. Lightly dancing to the beat, she remembered the man she met at the hospital, which made her bounce a bit more. It was good to know that there were good looking men here given what selection she had here. There was a God as she started to look at her inventoried ruck realizing what she had to do was already done. So she decided to see if she couldn’t find out where that man worked. She didn’t even get his name… But she also remembered his face, and she was sure to find something anyway.
Platoon Sergeant Ross walked down the hallway to the room specified noting that the
DJINN implant wasn’t picking anything up. He was without holographic symbols floating in the air to guide him other than the oral ones that the Corporal gave to him. Sighing as a wave of tiredness washed over him he stopped in front of the door, sighed again, and knocked firmly. After hearing a muffled ‘Enter!’ he opened the door smoothly as best he could and opened into the finest woman he did see… without her uniform top on and… figuring out where he was he stopped, regained his bearing and stood at attention, saluting. “Platoon Sergeant Ross reporting as ordered ma’am.”
Returning his salute, Captain Juniper motioned for him to sit. “Welcome Platoon Sergeant.” Pointing to MSG Magnusson, “This is Master Sergeant Magnusson, my Troop senior noncommissioned officer.”
Glancing towards him while standing there he nodded. “Master Sergeant.”
“Sit down Platoon Sergeant,” MSG Magnusson said casually. They weren’t disciplining him just a first meeting. Besides he was already tired just from getting the admin issues sorted out and it had only just been an hour.
“Yes ma’am.” Sitting down at the available chair, Platoon Sergeant Ross sat down professionally as his main concern was just sleeping at the moment. Stifling a yawn he put his hand to his mouth to be respectful.
“Tired?” MSG Magnusson asked with a raised eye and a slight smile on his face as he regarded him.
“Yes Master Sergeant, long flight here,” he said adjusting himself while still wishing he could go to sleep right now.
“Yeah… it is long… but anyways I’ll just welcome you to the Troop. We’re kind of different than most as you’ll see down the road.” Pausing, he shifted slightly on his seat as he took stock of the situation. “We’re an armored slash infantry unit and we’re highly mobile and capable and since we’re part of the Kommando, we’re just a rapid reaction unit so far. So if you think that I’m unsure well I and the commander are the same way, we’re kinda new ourselves in a way but after looking at your record on Kush we’re glad to have you on the team.”
“Where are you from then Sergeant?” Incomprehension flooded his brain as he took stock of the situation as clouded as it was. What was he talking about?
“A long ways Sergeant, we’ll leave it at that for now,” he said glancing towards Captain Juniper. He looked back at him. “But for the most part we were on Mashara for a half a year so worry about taking care of getting settled in the unit. When you start you’ll be our Headquarters Platoon Sergeant as I need a breather,” he said glancing towards Captain Juniper for any acknowledgement of his own desires. Normally, when he was in Fasolini’s, they really didn’t mind too much but here was a bit different. Maybe a little too different for even his tastes of regimentation, in which the only thing regimented was the command structure back in another time and place.
”No problem Master Sergeant. I-“
“We read your file so we know what you have done, at least on digits,” MSG
Magnusson said matter of factly. The admin pukes had enough sense to send them the digital files so they could at least get an electronic indication of Platoon Sergeant Ross’s capabilities.
However, he was a firm believer in actually seeing how the soldier operated for real rather than going by datawork. So many intricacies to deal with… Let alone a whole Troop of attitudes and views towards their new life to include their own.
“Need some sleep Platoon Sergeant?” Captain Juniper asked as she regarded him with a raised eyebrow. She saw the look of forced awareness in his behavior and felt he could use a day to himself to get settled in. They had nothing much else to do and a new Platoon Sergeant could start fresh the next day. “Master Sergeant Magnusson, if you don’t have anything for him, I suggest we let him get settled in, get some sleep and come in tomorrow.”
“I currently don’t have a place to stay at the moment ma’am.” He knew that it was a noncom issue but since he was talking to her…
“No problem, we took over some empty barracks right above the Troop offices and you can use that as a temporary resting spot until you find something else. And ma’am I have nothing else for him,” MSG Magnusson looked towards Platoon Sergeant Ross and nodded. “I’ll get Corporal Jones to get you there. Just go back to the training room and he’ll take it from there.”
“Thanks Sergeant.” Standing up, he saluted Captain Juniper, holding it until it was returned. Slowly turning around he left and closed the door behind him.
Corporal Jones regarded the new Platoon Sergeant with a curious look. “You have a
place to stay?”
“Negative.” Usually he had that sorted out but he didn’t know anybody here or where to start looking. Then again he did have the excuse of just showing up. At least he hoped he was afforded that luxury… his last commander nearly relieved him on the spot due to that reason, which in all sense of the word was uncharacteristically extreme and unfair. Luckily two weeks later he got relieved before his company was to ship out to Kush. It was something about not reporting his strength properly and lying to the Battalion Commander about the status… At least he got a break from the harrows of the mountains and valleys. Leaving it was fine enough for him and a good break was nice either way.
“Think he’s good?” Captain Juniper asked as she leaned back, turning her head towards
MSG Magnusson. Usually it was the officer’s job to evaluate noncoms but she still had a long way to go in that regard.
Shrugging, he adjusted himself on the seat some more. “I think so but we’ll have to see though.”
“So in other words you really don’t have an idea?”
Shaking his head in deference, he crossed his leg on his knee and adjusted himself slightly on the small sofa. “No, I really don’t.”
“Well you’re a lot of help today,” she dryly observed as she pulled up some datawork on the Troop, mainly rosters and equipment inventories she had yet to finish after Mashara. Losing one trooper and a weapon didn’t help too much but…
“I haven’t had my coffee yet.”
Returning back to the training room, Platoon Sergeant Ross yawned as he entered, smoothly walking in. “Hey Corpor-“
“I got the message Sergeant, give me ten minutes to finalize the key and you’ll be set.”
Blanching at the rapid response he was surprised at some efficiency.
“We’re only realistically two platoons in strength Sergeant, it’s not that hard.” Winking, he typed in the request for the key. “I need your smid Sergeant.”
“Yeah, sure,” he said, absentmindedly handing him his smid as he looked outside, watching the yellowish clouds roll in slowly. It looked like it was going to be a heavy rain as he felt the tinge of nicotine withdrawal. “Mind if I go smoke?”
“I’m almost done anyways Sergeant so if you can wait?”
“Yeah.” Watching the clouds, he realized it would be a heavy one… hopefully he’d sleep through it all he thought as he yawned again. He really needed some sleep.
Finished with typing the code he handed the smid over. “Here you go Sergeant,”
Reaching out while looking, he took the smid in one hand and pocketed it quickly.
Stooping over he picked up his bags and cap. “Ready?”
“Yes,” Corporal Jones locked the terminal and stood up, following behind Platoon
Sergeant Ross, making sure the door was closed and firmly locking it. “I’ll go let Top know that we’re leaving, I’ll meet you outside.”
Letting the need for ‘replenishment’ he walked slowly outside by himself nodding as he carefully fished out another cigarette from his pocket. As he lit it, he realized someday he’d actually quit too. But, instead, he stood there and puffed it while he waited for Corporal Jones to show up and take him to his ‘home’. He was tired and he felt himself sway a little bit as he was more tired than he wanted to admit but he stood and finished the cigarette.
“Sorry about that Sergeant had a few things to take care of,” Corporal Jones said as he found the folder with the keys in it. “Here’s the key Sergeant. If you need to get a hold of me or the unit just give us a call, the contact information is on the smid.” Finding the right key, he handed it to Platoon Sergeant Ross. “If you’ll follow me outside I can help you with your gear.”
“No problem,” Platoon Sergeant Ross said as he watched Corporal Jones open the gravcar up to let him get his personal gear with which he came. When it opened, he set his bags on the ground beside the car and then once he made sure with tired eyes that he had everything he nodded to him. Yawning again, he closed the door, leaned his head back and took his hat off. He wasn’t totally out of shape but he felt a few beads of sweat form on his forehead. Groggily, he looked around at his surroundings. Definitely barracks that were on top of the Troop buildings and it made sense to his tired mind, no need to hunt down your soldiers when they were right there above you. He wondered what the condition was inside one of the rooms. It looked very nondescript and no DJINN indicators yet. Maybe they needed to program his link and he’d get the feed, so he’d have to depend on everybody else for now.
“Thanks.” The next priority was of course to go to bed. Walking inside, he lazily set his gear down and looked at the sparse accommodations with a tired mind. At this point he didn’t care as he walked towards the bed with his mind swimming from the lack of sleep. He heard the door shut and he took off his cap, undid his blouse as he sat down, and tossed them both off to the side as he leaned forward to undo his boots. Once undone, he kicked them off as he figured he could straighten out his small mess later on, when more rested. By the time he got comfortable and let his mind go he drifted off as soon as he could. It wasn’t long before he was settled in to a new place; the only thing on his mind as he drifted off was what did he get himself into?
Grab Your Copy 2/4 Cavalry