DISCLAIMER: I'm not American, and I don't know **** about the US Army. This is a bit of a test, so if anyone likes it I'll write some more. Feedback on style, contect etc. appreciated. Thanks for reading. Oh, and maybe spoilers if you haven't read Contagious (why not?).
This shit just never stops, thought Murray.
At least compared to Detroit this was easy. Somehow, amazingly, President Gutierrez had let him keep his job; thirty years and only one fuck-up was pretty good, even if that fuck-up was the size of Detroit. Gutierrez knew Murray's track record and valued his talents, though, and none of the – relatively – few inquests that dealt with his role in the matter could blame him directly for what had happened.
So he had survived with his job intact and reputation only slightly tarnished. Hell, everyone had crap splashed all over their CV's after Detroit, but nonetheless the inquests and Congressional hearings found the response justified. Well, some of them were still ongoing, but nothing Murray had to be worried about.
What he was worried about was his personnel. DOMREC was decimated, all four companies had nearly complete losses. In fact, of the four-hundred and eighty he had been able to deploy, less than fifty remained – mostly comprised of the twenty-five WIA from Whiskey Company. A couple had recovered sufficiently to be declared fit for duty. The able-bodied remainder were mostly from Yankee and Zulu Company who had the fortune to not fit in the Osprey aircraft available for immediate deployment in Detroit, so they'd had to use Black Hawks, which only had a top speed of half that of the V-22, and so had missed the battle – and ensuing carnage – entirely.
With one notable exception.
One of X-Ray company's Lieutenants – an “LT1”, or Lieutenant First Class, precisely – had been on medical at Fort Bragg with a broken wrist from the Mather mission. Naturally, given the classified nature of X-Ray Company's deployment, he hadn't been allowed to leave the base. First Lieutenant Neil Kaplan. He'd seen action at Wahjamega and then Mather, earning a triangle kill at each. He'd been declared fit for duty a few days ago, and along with the remaining DOMREC soldiers, not yet reassigned because nobody but Murry had the authority to do so.
Twenty-two able-bodied. Not many at all.
This latest situation, however, didn't require many.
It needed to be quiet, compact, and low-profile.
Lt Kaplan was in the mess when his orders arrived – the secret and classified markings becoming expected, now. He took them away, read them, re-read them, and then called Murray.
It was a short call, for his part mostly consisting of: “Yes, sir.”
Each of the remaining Whiskey, Yankee and Zulu Company soldiers met with him in the briefing room. Kaplan was surprised by the fact he was the highest ranking survivor of four companies, but even more so by what he was about to explain.
“All right, as you know we're the last of DOMREC. That's the hand we've been played. I have orders directly from Mr Longworth to form you all into a pair of squads for deployment of special sensitivity.” He read out a list of names, including his own. “Those I just listed will form Alpha team. The remainder are Bravo team. The target is in a densely-wooded area near a civilian dwelling, low density rural setting, where ELINT and a low altitude surveillance satellite follow-up has determined the presence of a partially built gate.”
He paused. His briefing didn't say what type of ELINT, or Electronic Intelligence, but probably some kind of keyword monitoring on calls, texts and emails intercepted by the NSA.
“From the rate at which the structure has grown,” Kaplan continued, “my brief tells me there should be no more than four triangles constructing it.” His carefully phrased announcement let everyone in the room know he thought that snippet was of dubious value.
“My brief also tells me the structure is five or six days from completion, according to the last four days of sat imagery. We are to infiltrate the area, secure it from anyone that may potentially stumble onto it, the set up a bivouac some distance away and a concealed observation post where we can directly observe the target. We are to evaluate the behaviour of the people living in the dwelling nearby – a family of four – and stand by to capture, kill, burn, sterilise, quarantine or blow shit up as ordered. Got it?”
He received scattered calls of “HUA!” and “Yes sir!”.
Good enough. He wasn't comfortable with the way the briefing made the civilians out to be already infected, but he had a job, and Murray wouldn't accept half-measures.