Titan squad is unquestionably full of tough characters. I focus on Garcia as he peers over his cards, “Hey homies, you know we’ve been sitting on our asses in this stinking ice hole for a couple of months now. I thought when they shipped us in here we would be doing something top secret. Maybe like hunting down the Chupacabra or something,” he jokes.
Taylor mentions, “Sounds like something on the Taco Bell menu.”
“No, what you’re talking about a Chalupa, I’m talking about the Chupacabra, that means “Goat Sucker,” a small mythical creature running around Mexico and South America sucking the blood out of farm animals,” Garcia explains.
“That sounds like Colby over there,” teases Taylor
The squad laughs.
Colby flips everyone off while continuing to play his video game, “I got something for you to suck on Taylor!” he hollers back.
“Not even in your wildest dreams,” she counters.
Shepherd looks up from her magazine and notices me looking at them from the office window.
Well, I’ve been spotted, I think it’s time to meet my squad. I’m looking the part with my black beret and uniform anyway. Taking a deep breath before entering the barracks I immediately hear a swarm of whispers. My chip implant allows me to pick up their whispers as I walk towards them.
Shepherd in a hushed voice, "I think the new Queen Bee is coming,”
Garcia whispers to Taylor, “Damn, she’s smoking hot.”
Taylor whispers back, “Little Miss Princess don’t even look like no soldier – too damn pretty.”
Sergeant Armstrong snaps the squad to attention, “Ahhteeenhut!”
The squad jumps into squad formation at attention. Taylor is the last to get into formation with her not giving a shit attitude.
“I am Lieutenant Vickers, your new squad leader,” slowly I continue walking down the rank, “I will expect nothing but the best out each one of you. I know you’re all handpicked for your own specific strengths, but what is most important to me, is what your weaknesses are too? Any questions?”
“I know what yours is,” Taylor mutters.
“What was that?” sternly getting into her face.
“Stow it Taylor!” hollers Armstrong.
“At ease Sergeant Armstrong, it seems the Corporal has a problem with me.”
“Yeah, I’ve got a problem with you.” Taylor with contempt.
“And what’s that Corporal?” I respond.
“Well when we get into a fire fight, I know I can depend on my squad members for back up. Many of us have been through at least 3 tours together. So my problem is this, do you have what it takes to hang with us?”
“Your out of line Corporal!” Growls Armstrong.
Okay, I need to squash this right now, so I confront Taylor in a close quarter face to face, “Corporal, I may not have the combat experience you have, but I’m a highly trained soldier none the less, and I will perform as such when called upon. My job here is to keep everyone alive - including you." Looking deep into her eyes. "Our objective is to complete the mission at hand, and do it as a cohesive team, or we all fail, plain and simple. Is there anything else?”
Taylor looks around at her squad members. She can see that none of them have her back on this. Obviously no one is willing to go to the brig over this crap, so a, “No sir,” chokes out of her.
“Sergeant Armstrong, my office!” I bark.
“Yes sir!” straightening up his posture.
“At ease people!” Suspiciously he looks over his fellow squad members, mainly Garcia, “I’ll peel back the skull of anyone, who even thinks about looking at my cards! You got that?!”
“Hey homie, I’m truly hurt, I can’t believe you don’t trust me after all we been through together.”
Armstrong looks down at his cards on the table, “I ain’t buying your shit Garcia, so don’t bother sending me any love notes.”
Armstrong follows me into the my office and stands at attention.
“At ease Sergeant,” as I sit myself at my desk and continue reviewing the squad’s service records on my computer. “Sergeant, I know you have a long history with Colonel Tarver, several tours of duty together I see.”
“Yes sir, more than 7 years of active duty Sir,” Armstrong adds.
“And at least 3 years with some members of your current squad. You must know them inside and out, so what can you add?”
“You want my assessment Sir?”
“Yes I do.”
Armstrong looks out the office window to where Meyers and Colby are playing their video game, acting absolutely like complete juveniles.
“Well Sir, Meyers and Colby are kids at heart, there is no denying that. They grew up together in a trailer park in Oklahoma – got into a few scrapes, and ended up in juvenile detention center. A juvenile counselor who was a retired Major in the Marines somehow reached them, by giving them an exceptional mentoring experience. He absolutely turned their lives around, he kept them from ending up in some prison, or dead on the streets. So they enlisted immediately after their release. The Major pulled a few strings to get them in. They’ve turned into top soldiers, their valor is unquestionable, they’re the solid anchor of this squad.”
Looking up from my monitor, “I know, according to their service records they have a trunk full of medals between the both of them."
“What’s Garcia’s story?”
“Corporal Garcia, I know he looks like he came right out of the pen, but his toughness comes from mean streets of east LA. After he lost his younger brother in a gang shoot out. He enlisted to escape the gang life style, and make something out of himself for his brother. He suffered a little shell shock after our last tour, but he’s fully recovered now, or he wouldn’t be here.”
“Yes, I see he picked up a couple of Purple hearts in the process.”
I get up out of my chair and check out Taylor from the window. She’s at the card table taking a street tough looking drag on her cigarette. She notices me at the window looking at her. She delivers a cold stare back at me.
“What about Taylor? I noticed she was disciplined for punching a drill sergeant. I’m surprised she wasn’t drummed out then. I gather she has a severe issue with authority."
“That occurred during basic when she was still green and dealing with her personal issues. After three tours of duty with us, she’s a complete soldier now,” Armstrong re-assures.
I return to my desk, “Well I’m not dealing with her personal issues. I won’t take any crap, see that she straightens up. What’s her background?” taking a sip of my coffee.
“She came from a wealthy real estate family in New York. As you can see, she did not turn out as “Daddy’s Little Girl” by any means. She rebelled by joining a punk gang, which got her in and out of jail, mostly just petty stuff. Then one day she was passing a recruitment center and just wondered in. The next thing she knew she had joined the Marines. Why? Maybe to find herself, or to irritate her daddy. Which it certainly did, he eventually cut her right out of the inheritance. Well anyway, she did manage to discover a special talent. She loves blowing things up.” Armstrong smiles.
“Yes, I see she has a high degree of demolition expertise."
"What about Blondie? I see she’s new.”
“Sergeant Missy Shepherd, she’s new to the squad alright. I don’t know a whole lot about her other than she came originally from Texas. She did 2 tours in Afghanistan as a communications expert. She came to us highly recommended from top brass.”
Coming to Boyer's record, “Honestly, Boyer he looks more like a male stripper instead of a fighting soldier, but he does seem to keep himself busy with his weapon.”
“Don’t let that pretty face fool you sir, Boyer is our weapons expert. He comes from a well decorated military family and served in a special sniper unit in Iraq. He was also a heavy and special weapons instructor. There is nothing the military he hasn’t fired. He’s the technical backbone of our unit.”
“Yes, his record of duty is rock solid."
"What about the Kung Fu lady?”
“Sergeant Loo? she just kicks ass,” he replies.
"I can see that, it says here she is the current Marine Mixed Martial Arts Champion. Also an Expert Hand to Hand Combat Instructor.”
“She keeps us all sharp. She told me she was born in China and as a teen she made it on the Chinese Olympic martial arts team. She eventually got bored, immigrated here and joined the Marines. I certainly don’t mind having her watch my back in a conflict.”
I lean back in my chair, “What about you Sergeant, tell me something about you I won’t see in your service record.”
“Not a lot to tell, other than I got into fights about every day in school growing up. That trend followed me out into adult life, made it hard to keep a job. So I eventually became a professional street fighter. Made some good money, I wanted to help out my mom. But she wouldn’t except any money from me, she called it blood money. She finally told me to enlist in the Marines since I like fighting so much. Do something for my country she said, be something she could be proud of. So I did, but once I got into live combat, I learned a lot about myself.”
“Like what Sergeant?”
“Like when you’re in the heat of combat, some parts of you just switch off. Especially when you’re killing – you kind of become a machine – human life don’t mean much in war. But at the same time other parts of you also come to life."
"Like when you save someones life for example. All the death seems to leave you, well at least for a while.”
“Well said Sergeant. A unit is only as strong as its leader, and I must say Colonel Tarver's record is truly outstanding. A full bird Colonel by the age of 38. He has a number of distinguished service medals for bravery under fire, two purple hearts. A Genius range I.Q. of 165. Advanced degree from MIT. Yet strangely he opted to stay in combat duty for most of his career.”
“I believe it was loyalty to his men sir.”
“Well thank you for your input Sergeant. Ready and assemble Titan squad for advanced hand to hand training at 01100 hours.”
“Yes sir,” he salutes and exits the office.