To observe a Marine is inspirational. To be a Marine is exceptional.
“Get the fuck outta my face, right now, maggot, before I skin you alive and wear your ass as a hat. What the fuck do you think you’re doin’?” Colonel Joe “Magnus” Rivers yelled at the recruit and snatched the M-4 out of her hands.
“Colonel.” His Gunnery Sergeant tried to calm him.
“Fuck that shit. She got Stewart shot! This is why women shouldn’t be on the front fuckin’ line. Fuck!” Magnus ran a hand over his face and handed the gun off to Corporal Moore. “No fuckin’ way is this going to work.” He turned to walk back to the barracks.
“Mag, Private Stewart wasn’t really shot.” His Gunny rushed to keep up.
“I know that, Gunny. It’s the principle of the matter.”
“Oh, he knows another word besides fuck.” The words were almost too faint to be heard, but they reached the Colonel’s ears.
Magnus whipped around and got up in the recruits' face. In a quiet voice, he addressed the woman.
“What did you just say?”
She stared straight ahead, and didn’t look him in the eye.
The only smart thing she’s done so far. What the fuck was the General thinking? Take a deep breath, man. Calm down. No one was really hurt.
Reasoning with himself sucked, but luckily for the recruit, he was able to leash his anger.
“Not so tough now, huh, Patterson? Drop and give me twenty.”
Without hesitation, she dropped to the ground and started counting out her pushups. Magnus would expect no less and his team knew it.
“Moore, take over PT.” He turned back to Gunny and gestured for him to follow. “Roberts, I don’t think I can keep this up. What was the General thinking? This woman doesn’t belong here. She’s some military brat trying to prove herself. How are we supposed to make her into a solider?” Magnus said in frustration.
Gunny Paul Roberts looked back at the woman doing pushups.
“I don’t know, sir. Looks like you’re doing a good job to me.”
Magnus looked back and waved his hand. “Physical exercise does not a solider make. You saw her at the range. How the fuck did she make it out of boot!?”
“Mag, it’s only been a few weeks. Give her a break.”
“I can’t. I wouldn’t let the guys get away with that shit. No fucking way am I giving the wannabe warrior a break. She’ll do it my way or I’ll kick her ass back to daddy's.
“We’re supposed to take her on fucking missions for chrissake.” He shook his head. “She’s going to get someone killed.”
“We have a month before we hea--”
Mag glared at the Gunny. Without another word he entered the building, trying to forget the woman doing pushups in the yard.
Trouble with a capital T is what that one is.
Mag led Gun to his office. “We need to go over the training schedule. I want us tight before we head into Sri Lanka. We’ll have to compensate for Patterson.”
“I don’t think you’re giving her enough credit. She made it through boot camp. Not even her dad’s rank would get her through that.”
“So she has guts, but can she really cut it?”
“We have training time. Push her to the limit. You know the General isn’t going to take her off the team. We work with what we’ve got. That’s all we can do. Remember, this is a peacekeeping mission. If we do it right, a shot won’t even be fired.”
“Well, listen to you, the voice of reason. Fuck, Gun. When did you get so smart?” Mag asked with a smile.
“Never mind that, I thought you had a training schedule you wanted to go over.”
Mag pulled up the chart on his computer and got to work.
“We’re down two members so we’re going to have to run Patterson, Moore and Stewart together. If today is any indication, we’re going to need more time on the range. That fucks up the schedule. Moore is a sniper and Stewart is a damn good shot so I’d planned to skip most of the range time. Good thing we weren’t using live rounds.” He sighed.
“Why don’t I spend a little after-hours time with Patterson on the range? That way we don’t have to push the other training back,” Gun offered.
“No. I want you to pair up with Stewart. He needs some extra hand-to-hand training. I’ll help Patterson with her weapons training.”
“Are you sure you won’t blow a gasket?”
“Yeah, I’ll be fine. Just don’t let me catch Stewart kicking your ass or you’ll never hear the end of it.”
“Let’s hear you talk when Patterson whips you on the gun range.”
Mag leaned back in his chair. “Were you not on the same field as me today? I don’t think I have anything to worry about.”
“Do you know when Jackson and Parker will be back?”
“The General wasn’t sure. I do know they won’t be back before we’re on mission. I want to run a couple more field tests. Tomorrow, zero four hundred.”
“I’ll gather the troops. You need to talk to them or do you want me to release them?”
“Go ahead and dismiss them.”
“Should I send Patterson in about her range training?”
“No, I’ll give her tonight. I’ll talk to her after the exercise tomorrow. We’ll see how she handles herself after the dressing down today. If you want to snag Stewart for that extra hand-to-hand, go ahead.”
“I’ll give him tonight too.” Gun rose from his chair.
At the door he turned back to look at Mag. “Try not to break her, Mag. We really don’t need to be down another man.”
Gun continued out before Mag could respond. With a shake of his head Mag closed his eyes and took a deep, cleansing breath.
That woman is going to be the death of me.
He rubbed a hand over his face and got back to trying to figure out how to keep his team alive.
* * * *
Special Agent Emily Patterson slammed into her room. If she had to do one more pushup, she might just scream. Not that she minded the physical training. She ran on a regular basis and went to the gym a couple nights a week, but this Marine PT might kill her yet.
One of the good things about being a female Marine, even a pretend one, had to be having her own space. She could drop her act and relax a little. Emily plopped down on her bed. She didn’t want to move for a week. She stunk to high heaven, but her arms jiggled like wet noodles. She really didn’t think she could move. All her training had not prepared her for the sheer physical exhaustion of this case. Zero four hundred would be here too soon.
What she really wanted to know was who the hell Colonel Rivers thought he was. Em had never been dressed down with someone in her face like that before. The thing that really ticked her off--she had to hold back. She didn’t want to bring the wrong kind of attention to herself. She was supposed to be a fuck-up trying to prove her Marine daddy wrong. Showing off her skill with a gun would not help with her cover.
How do I get myself into these messes? She rolled her eyes and struggled to push up off the bed. She knew she wouldn’t be able to sleep until she showered. She needed to hurry. She had an allotted time in the communal shower and the minutes ticked away. The guys would want their turn too.
Emily stood in the shower washing off the day and thought about Colonel Joe Rivers--a tough man, who pulled no punches. In her real life, he would be the kind of guy she’d love to go drinking with so they could share war stories. She could picture the two of them arguing about old wounds and who was the better shot.
But she had to keep her distance in case Rivers was involved. Not that that would be a problem--he didn’t want her anywhere near him. A pity, he made her weak in the knees with his short black hair and dark brown eyes. When she closed her eyes, his image appeared. She’d always had a thing for BDUs and he looked good in his uniform.
Is he involved?
The evidence pointed in his direction. She didn’t want to believe it, but she wouldn’t rule him out just because she had the hots for him.
Rivers would have to know if someone in his unit was crooked. No way had a team member stolen women and children right under his nose. Time would tell. The mission next month would be important. The men needed to believe she would do anything to get back at her dad for not believing in her. The person behind this had to trust her. She didn’t know how far up the chain of command the trafficking went. Her superiors felt it went above the Colonel.
“Patterson, you in there?”
“Um ... yeah. Hold on a sec. I’ll be right out.”
She rinsed off the soap, turned off the water and grabbed her towel.
Shoot, I forgot my clothes. Damn it.
She wondered if they were all out there waiting. Em didn’t relish the walk back to her room in only a towel and she had no idea who’d spoken. She wrapped her towel around her, grabbed her stuff and left the showers.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to take so long.” She looked up and saw it was Stewart on the other side of the door. “Sorry about today, Stewart.”
Apologizing for something she did on purpose felt wrong, but she had a job to do.
“No problem, takes the heat off of me. Usually the Colonel is in my face for some mistake or another. Just don’t hit me with live rounds and we’ll be okay,” he said with a chuckle.
“Deal.” She laughed back.
She headed back to her room and bumped into someone headed the other way.
“Sorry.” She mumbled.
She glanced over and noticed it was Moore with his shower gear. She adjusted her towel as his gaze traveled down her body. She shivered a little and made a note to herself to bring clothes next time. She didn’t like the way he looked at her--like the towel wasn’t even there. When he reached her face again, he smirked and waggled his eyebrows. Raising her chin and meeting his gaze head-on, Em smiled, then walked briskly back to her room. She felt his gaze on her the entire way, but he would not intimidate her. He wasn’t the first man to objectify her and he wouldn’t be the last.
Em sat on her bed and started going over the case. She didn’t have a case file and had to work from memory. She couldn’t even make notes. She had to be careful because right now she had no idea who to trust. She was at a disadvantage because two members of the team were missing. Too new, she couldn’t ask about them. The others--Rivers, Roberts, Moore and Stewart--were typical Marines.
So far, nothing really jumped out. Moore just put himself on her radar with his attitude by the showers. Stewart seemed too innocent. That really didn’t mean anything, but it was her first reaction to him. Plus, he was fairly new too, transferred in last month.
Roberts could be the inside man. If anyone could fly under Rivers’ radar it would be Roberts. The two were close. Could they be in on it together? Was the whole team behind the kidnappings? Who pulled their strings? The quick answer would be the General. But someone pulled his strings too. That’s why NCIS didn’t know how far up it went.
Em wondered if the two missing team members might hold a clue. On her next call to the office she would have to ask one of the agents to check in on them. She needed to know why they were missing. Two members away at the same time had to be fishy.
She also needed to talk to the women again. When they were rescued, they couldn’t ID their kidnappers, only that they were military. The only team in the area during that time was Colonel Rivers’. They’d learned that over two months ago and it had taken this long to get her in place.
Now she needed to get some sleep. The puzzle wouldn’t be solved overnight and zero four hundred really did come early. She didn’t want to know what Rivers had in store for her tomorrow.
* * * *
The man picked up the phone and dialed his contact. It rang three times before it was picked up.
“Is it set?” The other man asked without preamble.
“Yes. If anything goes wrong, the new girl can take the fall. Will I know my contact on sight?”
Introductions were not necessary and names were never revealed on an open line.
“You don’t have to do anything but lead the woman and children to the drop spot. The contact will take care of bringing them in. Your job is to make sure you take at least two or three civilians and get them on the plane. Can you handle it?”
“Of course. I’ve done this before.”
“Just make sure everything happens with no mess ups. I already had to pull one person from the team. Don’t make me pull you too.”
“No, sir. I understand and it will go as planned. What about the Colonel?”
“You just worry about your part in the mission. I’ll take care of the rest.”
The man on the other end hung up.
I can’t believe that old fuck questioned me. I know my damn job. He’d better pull through and take care of the Colonel. Hmm ... I wonder if the Colonel is on the payroll. Not that it matters. It does matter. No it doesn’t. And why the fuck am I arguing with myself? I need to hit the rack.
The man continued down the hallway to his bunk. Now that Jackson and Parker were gone, he had his own room.
Stupid bitch doesn’t have to share a room. Before this is over, I’ll get me a piece of that ass. Fuckin’ women belong in one place--on their backs.
He went to the desk in his room and turned on his computer. After entering a couple passwords he found the site he was looking for, the kind of site that most people didn’t know about. He clicked his favorite link and while he waited for it to load, he took his pants and underwear off and sat back down.
“You know you want it, you filthy slut.”
Head phones, you idiot.
He grabbed them from beside the computer and quickly plugged them in and placed the buds in his ears. His hand went to his flaccid cock and pumped it a couple times. He looked back to the scene and instantly hardened as the live feed showed him what he liked.
“Please, mister, no. Please, that hurts.”
“That’s it. Beg me.”
The man on the screen had a small Asian woman pinned and bent over the bed. He held her in place by her long black hair. Occasionally he would jerk her hair forcing the girl to look up on the camera. The woman had tears in her eyes, but the man didn’t stop.
That’s it. Take her; fuck her like you hate her. Make her yours.
“It hurts.” She cried again.
“Take it, you slut. You know you want it.”
The man on the screen shoved his cock up the woman’s ass. She screamed and passed out. The man in the chair coated his desk with come at the woman’s scream.
Fuck yeah. Just wait, Patterson. Soon that will be us.
The man cleaned up and went to bed with dreams of Patterson on her back flashing through his head.