I'm really not sure why so much of the ick-inducing comes out of the American Southwest.
I climbed down from the Suburban as soon as Boyer had pulled it to a stop. The Texas sun was hot and bright and dust devils spun away lazily from the small group of parked vehicles.
We were wearing civilian clothes including sunglasses and shortly a uniformed Air Force SP came trotting over.
"Sir, Ma'am. This is a crime scene..."
"I know," I replied flashing my badge, "I'm Chief Warrant 3 Summers and this is Sergeant First Class Boyer. We were sent from Criminal Investigation Command to assist in the investigation."
"Yes ma'am...Could you wait a second please?"
I nodded, "Call over the OIC. It's no problemo."
Boyer spoke up, "Don't worry about it, she's from California."
The nervous Airman took off towards a clump of ACUs huddled together. When he cleared off Boyer whispered to me, "Feel anything weird Boss?"
I shook my head, "Not at the moment..." We were in north central Texas, just south of Shepherd AFB. That morning I had gotten woken up by the Staff Duty Officer to get to HQ like yesterday...That always meant something not of the good had happened.
I drove from my little apartment in Pine Bluff straight to Training and Procedures Facility 7. Captain Quinn, the Staff Duty Officer, greeted me with a cup of coffee and a stack of print-outs.
"You got a Category X-1 Fatalities, Buff."
"Texas. Air Force land."
"A CCT got chopped to shit during an FTX. 100% casualties."
"Has Dutch been told?" I took a swallow of coffee and sat down in the briefing room and started looking at the documents. A Category X was 'unknown non-human origin'. The '-1' meant definite threat.
"Oh yeah. He said you have lead on this."
"Yay? Call Boyer and get him here now, then get a hold of S4 and lay on the C-20 for us.
The two of us will be advance team and try to find out what caused the carnage. We'll be CIC again since we already have the IDs in our go-bags."
"You got it."
"Thanks Jerry!" I started reading as he left the room. Shepherd Air Force Base is one of the blue suits' biggest training facilities and is responsible for cross-training NATO pilots apparently. Combat Control Teams like to use the desert and empty land south of the base for practice in setting up field Air Traffic Control Centers as well as survival training. That's what this Team from Pope AFB had been doing there. They had been out for the last week with no problems reported and were planning on returning to North Carolina.
They had jumped in and been on foot. Extraction was supposed to have been last night by helicopter. When Range Control hadn't received their evening call-in, they had requested a fly-over by one of the training flights that had been equipped with a FLIR pod for night exercises. The pilot-trainee had found spotted chunks of cooling bodies through his TV screen and freaked, causing Range Control to send an immediate security force out there. When they saw the body bit-age, they had cordoned off the area and sent a message for assistance that had eventually made its way to my hot little hands.
I finished my coffee and headed to my office and sat down at my desk before calling Dutch.
"Ya Summers?" the jerk-face didn't even sound sleepy at zero-dark-thirty.
"I'm heading out there with Boyer."
"Is it a Hunter?"
"I don't think so. Too much with the violence to be one of them. Maybe a were or a pack of weres...possibly an ogre, but they like forests and mountains more. Were-coyotes pretty much avoid humans when shifted, wolves and bears stay away from deserts too...I really don't know what it is. Sorry Boss."
"Find it und stop it. If you need help, be sure to call. I need you und Boyer alive not dead uff stupidity."
"Good. Be careful und good hunting," he hung up with a click.
"Yo Buff!" Boyer was at my office door, "Jet's fueled and waiting and we'll have wheels waiting for us at Shepherd."
"Great. Bring civvies and your SAW. Whatever did this shredded 26 men." I stood and lifted my FAL down from the wall, "I really don't want to be added to the total."
"Got it Buff. I'll be ready in five," he ducked back into his office as I pulled down my Hunter's sword, and a few axes and loaded them into their travel cases.
In half an hour we were boarding the aircraft to take us south.
Dutch is property of Fox.GLOSSARY
SP -- Air Force Security Police (like an MP)
Criminal Investigation Command/CIC -- The Army equivalent of CSI and special crimes task forces.
Warrant Officer -- A soldier that is "Warranted' a Officer's rank by they nature of their expertise with a technical skill. In the table of ranks they are short of adjacent to regular commissioned Officers are but very seldom in command of anything but a unit consisting of their specialty.
Chief -- Normal term of respect for Warrant Officers. Derived from the full titles of 'Chief' Warrant Officer 2nd Class, 'Chief' Warrant Officer 3rd Class, 'Chief' Warrant Officer 4th Class. Also called WO1, CW2, CW3, CW4 respectively.OIC -- Officer in Charge/Command
ACU -- Army Combat Uniform
CCT -- Combat Control Team (Air Force Mobile Air Traffic Control parachutes into enemy territory to set up)
FTX -- Field Training Exercise
S4 -- Supply and Logistics section
C-20 -- Military version of a Gulfstream III private jet.
Range Control -- Safety and Maintenance organization that is in charge of training areas.
FLIR -- Forward Looking InfraRed. Night vision tech for combat aircraft.
SAW -- M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. The US Army's standard Light Machinegun. Also designed by the same folks that designed the FAL. Fabrique Nationale d'Herstal.
FAL -- Belgian made Battle Rifle. Uses a larger cartridge (7.62mm), weighs more, and is not capable of automatic fire (at least Buffy's isn't). She has a Paratrooper model with the folding stock.