Please note: If you have not read the information on the title page nor chapter 00 (the Prologue) to this chapter, please do so before continuing with this portion.
If you have not read Air Force Sweetheart (TacPzlSolGp) prior to reading this work, it is not necessary; however, there will be characters appearing at times within this work which are from the other series.
This work was inspired by T. D. Aldoennetti and is posted under her name since it is a companion series to that of AFS.
Renae A. Dumas
Shortly before we were on the receiving end of that home invasion, I thought things had pretty much gotten down to a dull roar for us. James and I had been married for a little less than three months after going together and sharing Catherine back and forth for the previous twelve or so. Both our businesses were going great guns and we had some nice interactions going on between them. The Feds were happy with James’ work and with my security measures which actually made his place of work something more nearly impregnable than the sieve it had been, both physically and electronically. Catherine was extremely pleased with her new Mommy and wanted me to come to the ‘show off your parent day’ at her school. She was in the advanced learning set so while she was roughly first grade age she was third grade intellectually and pushing hard for fifth grade. I was just as pleased with having a daughter even if her advanced scholastics were a little difficult for me to accept. I had been smart but jump two to four grades? I don’t think so.
As far as James’ business went, I wasn’t going to pretend I understood anything about the software his people had been writing for the Feds any more than I was going to pretend I’d been told anything about their projects, which I hadn’t been. The two of us were good at compartmentalizing. Making his business bullet-proof didn’t mean I needed to understand the details of the work they did there... and vice-versa.
That was why when the home invasion occurred, it was a bit of a wake-up call. The first problem was, ‘How did they get in?’ That was followed almost immediately with ‘how did they get away when so many agents were in and around the house?’ Of course that didn’t hold a candle to, ‘why did they come after us and more specifically, which of us?’ If they were after my baby then they were going to have some explaining to do as soon as I got my hands on one or more of them while they were still alive. I’m an overly protective bitch in case you hadn’t noticed. You target my baby and you are on my shit list forever.
How did a ‘nice’ young lady such as myself wind up in a position to be fighting bad guys, much less being targeted by them you might ask? I suppose I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you.
Well... Seriously... I haven’t the faintest idea, not exactly anyway. I think it’s likely to have something to do with being married to James since I don’t believe my business would have enraged anyone to the point of attacking me or us in our home but it might have been something I did in my previous life... Don’t ask, I haven’t the faintest what it could be. I suppose for understandings sake I should start somewhere near the beginning. That, unfortunately, is the crux of the matter since deciding exactly what that beginning happened to be remains a little difficult.
I’m sorry, I suppose I’m not making much sense am I? Perhaps I’m still in shock over the invaders. Oh my God - neither Catherine nor I have night robes on. I caught her up and quickly made a strategic retreat going first to her bedroom and then my own before we returned to that first of several situation debriefs which would occur over the next two days. Once back downstairs she made a point of showing everyone her bunny slippers so she could receive the required homage due a princess as I went out to the kitchen to begin warming milk to make her a cup of cocoa. I also put on a pot of coffee which I’m certain would be appreciated by everyone once it finished perking. The debriefing adjourned to the dining room so I was still close enough to participate.
What? Oh, the story... Well... I suppose, for lack of some other beginning, we could start with my name... at least it’s my name now... or then... or... See, that’s part of the confusion. Okay, I’m Lynnette Joi Thompson but Stevens was my maiden name or... my last name before I became... Aww, hell. Anyway, that’s me, the L. J. of L. J. Stevens Security. So what does that have to do with anything? Well, nothing I suppose. Then again, it could be just about everything.
Both my name and I have a long and complicated history! Hell, that’s saying a mouthful without saying much of anything.
A few years ago I started a protection detail business with my friend Ralph and some of our buddies we had met while in the military. No ideas now, Ralph’s just a friend. Really. Almost like my brother... If I had one. Anyway - we felt like we were still nearly fresh out of the Army having both bummed around for almost a year looking for a place to fit in. Although we corresponded, we didn’t meet up again until we both went to work for a group of men who had formed a company which specialized in corporate and political protection details. Our going to work with them wasn’t quite our idea since we were gently prodded into it by some friends we met while we were still in Uncle Sam’s active employ. Not that we aren’t in Uncle Sam’s active employ now but at least now we were contractors and not soldiers, although that distinction was somewhat blurred at times. Wow, only at times? Who am I trying to kid? All the time would be more like it. The only difference is we get to decide what our missions are going to be and we have access to better equipment, well, most of the time. At least the gear’s plentiful and not overly pricy.
We probably would have wound up going this route a little earlier but we had been trying to actively resist continuing in said Uncle Sam’s employ and were, therefore, resisting the ‘suggestions’ which were being offered at the time. The company which hired Ralph and myself, thus beginning the grinding down of our resistance to starting our own business, also provided security or short term protection for high level businessmen and occasionally for that odd (in every sense of the word) bureaucrat/ politician whenever they happened to blow into DC and/ or it’s surrounds. No, we never worked for the mob, just real businessmen... That isn’t to say the mob isn’t real, nor businessmen, as I have since learned. They have a lot of very legitimate businesses but they also have their own security details so they seldom required our services. Whenever they did happen to need us then it was all legitimate and above board. Sometimes I think they were better to work with than the bureaucrats. On more than one occasion that has made me wonder if their roles weren’t reversed somehow in the deep past.
Anyway... back to my story. Ralph and I knew each other from high school which, of course, was before we went into the service. Yeah, we were Army nuts, ground pounders. As I was saying, after more than a few tours in, around, and through parts of Nam and surrounds where others feared to tread we made our way out of the military grind, at least for a while. Finally after a year of bumming around, then a short couple of years with that aforementioned protection company, which were a piece of cake by the way, I decided we should go into business for ourselves. Ralph and I discovered we were a little shy of three years post service when we finally agreed we wanted to go back home or at least close to it so we had begun to discuss what we could do once we got there.
Since we understood military and para-military Ops; the thought of starting up our own little protection biz actually was fairly interesting to us despite our trying to resist the not so subtle prodding from our ‘friends’. We finally figured, why not? We hired on about a dozen of our old Army buddies whom I had led around the green pastures of much of Southeast Asia and made a list of the others and their specialties so when and if we needed to add more we would have somewhere to begin. It comforted us to know we had some friends going along for the ride.
Misery loves company you know.
Well... That ‘we’ decided to get into the business was perhaps overstating things just a bit. To tell the truth we were kind of ‘gently nudged’ into it by those friends we had met while in the service. And yes, I know; that wasn’t the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth either. I guess if you want nothing but the truth then this isn’t the right business to get into. ‘Met’ might not quite be the right word here either. Worked for, worked with, took long walks in the woods together, would all be applicable but incomplete in description. That was just some of what we did, but the terms still truly only scratched the surface.
It’s hard to believe now how many years have passed since they put this idea into our heads. Harder, still, to believe that we took the ball and ran with it as well as we did. I think that they both knew how well much of this would turn out and while a little piece of me still resents what they did, I wouldn’t trade where I am today for anything in the world.
‘Sigh,’ The World. I can still hear the sounds of the slick’s rotors and Spooky’s miniguns like it was just yesterday when we left that God forsaken place. I look around this room at our company’s headquarters whenever we have staff meetings and still see the fresh young faces that I first got to know closer than brothers while humping through some of the most unforgiving jungles on the planet.
What? How did a woman end up running through the jungles of Vietnam during the war? Short answer is... well... she didn’t.
Umm, I guess it’s time to give you some more personal history. As I said, I am L. J. Stevens of L J Stevens Security. What I failed to mention was that before I was Lynnette Joi Stevens, I spent a lot of years trying to be Lyon Jay Stevens. You see, I was born with a male body. Yes, it’s absolutely true. Many of you out there would refer to me as a transsexual. Maybe even a freak. I refer to myself as a woman with a unique history, both medically and life experience wise.
I grappled with this for decades. And like many others, in order to prove myself wrong, I went for hyper-masculine pursuits. It didn’t matter that I was small, and skinny. I was constantly trying to prove myself to be as macho as any of the jocks in school.
And it worked after a fashion. Well, at least to a limited degree. I think a lot of the girls saw me as the ultimate tomboy or possibly as a radical feminist. But I think they recognized me for the girl I was despite my efforts to the contrary.
As for the guys, well, let’s face it – guys are not the most observant things on the planet. If they see what they want to see, then it’s real for them. If I could bench lots of weight, take a hit, play football – well then, as far as they were concerned, I was a guy. Little, and a bit scrawny, but a couple of fights where bigger guys came out the loser, after figuring “Hey. I’ll whip this little fag’s butt for a few laughs,” gained me the respect of most of the others as well as those whom I whipped.
My attitude in high school was part of what landed me in the Army, and more specifically, at Camp Mackall, home of the Special Warfare Center, doing what was laughingly referred to as the Q course.
My folks weren’t rich, so I wasn’t going to be able to afford to go to college, even if I worked full time and went to school. Which meant there was not going to be an educational deferment. Which also meant I was going to get drafted. I just knew my draft status was going to be 1-A. So, given the fact I knew I’d get drafted, how was I going to make it work to my advantage? And how could I do this and still be the ultra masculine Alpha male, hiding the real me in plain sight?
Research. Pure and simple, research. I started looking at all the options that the armed services had that I could take advantage of. Volunteering got me more available options than just being drafted, so I worked that into my plan. Next was what arm of the service to go into. The Air Force really held no appeal, neither did the Navy. Neither of them fit in with my need to continually prove what a man I was. So, that left the Army or the Marines.
That was a tough choice. Both were combat arms which appealed to that needed to feel I was a man. Both went in at the pointy end of the stick. But in looking at both services, at the basic level they both were simply cannon fodder. Bodies to be spent by those that commanded them, which didn’t really work for me.
So... I needed to look closer and deeper at them both. The Marines did have a history of ‘mustangs’, enlisted men promoted to officer through their actions. But, on the downside, enlisted promotion potential looked to be really slow. The old saw ‘that every Marine is a rifleman’ isn’t just a saying. It’s absolutely true. And while a part of me craved that, it meant that the Marines were limited in a lot of ways from the prospects of career potential.
And yes, I was looking at it then as a potential career. I couldn’t afford to go to college and the armed services were really looking like my only opportunity to help me get a career.
The Army on the other hand, had a number of combat arms as well as technical trades. And for a lot of them, you didn’t have to be an officer to have a career. And the advancement potential was better in the Army than in the Marines. Whether that was due to ‘attrition’ or due to a better system I had no idea at the time. Turns out, it was a combination of both.
One of the things I discovered after talking to a few people was the Special Warfare Group – rapidly becoming known as the Green Berets. They didn’t have anyone below the rank of sergeant. Getting accepted by them meant instant promotion. At 16, soon enough to be 18, this held promise. And they took on some of the most dangerous assignments the Army had. They did everything the Airborne and the Rangers did, and more. This also met my need to do all those ultra masculine things. It looked more and more like this is where I thought I wanted to be.
I was always a bright kid, and loved to read, so I started to find everything I could on Special Forces, as well as everything I could find on tactics and combat. I talked to as many people as I could, trying to find out what I would need to do to qualify for the Green Berets. I also designed an extreme exercise regime. I may have been wiry (read scrawny) but I was going to make sure it was all muscle. I now had a plan. I was in pretty darn good shape at the time, given that I was trying to compete with all the ultra huge jocks at school,, but I was really going to have to take things to the next level. Or maybe it was the next 2 or 3 levels.
I started running every morning and evening. First just putting in the miles, and after a couple of months I started running with a pack, gradually increasing the weight until I could run for miles with what was the equivalent of a full field pack. I began doing pushups and sit-ups until I could do 200 of each without completely exhausting myself. All during this time I tried to convince my dad to take me to the local Armory so I could learn to shoot and shoot well. It only took me three and a half months to wear him down. A buddy of his in town was the Range master at the Armory and from then on, until the day I went into the Army, I was there at least twice a week.
The Range master was a veteran of both WW II and Korea, and he took his job seriously. When I told him I was sure that I would be drafted, and wanted to have as much skill as I could have before I went, he took it as his duty to make sure his friend’s son was as prepared as he could possibly make me. For a small town, the armory had quite the arsenal of different weapons. Sergeant Joyce told me it was because a lot of the weapons that guys ‘brought home’ with them ended up being donated to the Armory. Being small boned presented a bit of a problem here, as the recoil from some of the weapons was almost more than my wrists or shoulder could take. Ah well, adapt the training program some more to work on hand, wrist and forearm strength.
I got an amazing education from Sgt. Joyce. I learned to handle the US 1911A1 - .45 without wrecking my wrists from the recoil, and could shoot expert to high expert with it; although my wrists would ache for days afterwards. We found that the 9mm weapons suited me best, and with the Biretta or the Browning Hi-Power I could not be beat. I’m sure the old guy made a lot of money betting on me at the range.
He trained me on the M1 and the M-14. I learned all the varieties of Springfield, including the venerable ‘03A4 sniper rifle. I shot the BAR, and was okay with it, but I knew it would be too heavy for me to carry in combat. We had WW II German weapons – Mausers and Walthers and Erma MP 38s and MP 40s; Japanese Arisaka rifles and Nambu pistols; Russian and Chinese Makarovs and AKMs, even a Dragunov sniper rifle. I did well with all of them. I made sure I did. Although just before I went into the Army, Sgt. Joyce did say I was a natural. By the time he was done with me, I could qualify as High Expert/ Sharpshooter on every weapon I picked up.
And he didn’t just teach me to shoot. He taught me how to field strip every weapon I touched, as well as how to fix some of the common problems with them. He even showed me how to take pieces from multiple weapons to get one operational weapon. That little bit of knowledge saved my butt on more than one occasion. I always thought he’d have been a great instructor for the Army, but any time I mentioned it, he would just say “I’ve done my time.”
But he didn’t stop at weapons. He started teaching me about the Army itself, not just what was in the books. How the Army functioned, as he saw it. Turns out he was right in an awful lot of cases. And what I learned from him helped me navigate the rocks and shoals of the Army as well as saved my butt. When I made it known to him that I was planning on trying to get into Special Forces, he stopped and just stared at me. I could see the look in his eyes saying “How fucking dumb are you kid? That’s a sure way to get killed.”
All he asked me was, “Why?”
I sat down and explained to him a lot of the research I had done on Special Forces and why I thought I might be suitable. I talked about the 6, and 12 man teams as well as the larger groups which sometimes wound up together. How they could function like a well oiled machine. I talked about the level of training they got; I talked about not just being a grunt that was being fed into the meat grinder. The sense of camaraderie and esprit de corps was something else I talked about with him. Being a part of something where you knew that everyone on your team looked out for everyone else; and where your skills had value.
He just grunted and thought about what I said for a few minutes.
“Well I will say, at least I didn’t hear that bullshit about being the meanest motherfucker in the valley come off your lips. And I can tell you’ve put a lot of thought and work into this.”
“Let me think about this for a while longer Lyon. I might be able to find some other help if this is what you really want.”
“It is Sarge. We both know I’m going into the Army. I want to come home in one piece, and I think I have the best shot at it with them.”
After that the subject was dropped, and wasn’t brought up again for quite a while.
I was just turning 17 and life at home was getting a bit strained at that point. I was only a year from being eligible for the draft, and it was affecting my mother a great deal. I think she always suspected or knew who I really was and what I was doing, but she never said anything. I think my dad was worried but he was also proud of me in a strange way. He didn’t want his only son to go to war, and maybe be killed, but I think he was proud of the fact that I wasn’t trying to weasel out of it and I was trying to prepare for it the best way I knew how.
My birthday that year was rather a solemn affair, as we all were trying to ignore the elephant known as Vietnam that always seemed to be in the room. Mum seemed to be on the edge of tears the whole night, every time she looked at me. I’m sure she was wondering what next year would bring, and if there would be any more after that.
That Saturday when I went to the Armory, Sgt. Joyce had someone with him. He introduced him to me as Gunny Martin. And he told me that the Gunny had been an unarmed combat instructor at Parris Island, and had done 2 tours in ‘Nam before he retired a few months earlier. I looked the Gunny over carefully, and I could see him looking at me, sizing me up.
“Kid” he said “do you want to go to Vietnam?”
» » » » » »
T D Aldoennetti
with contributing authors
Kate Hart & Denise Trask
All characters in this work have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relationship whatsoever to anyone or anything bearing the same name or names. The characters contained herein are not even distantly inspired by any specific individuals known or unknown to the author. All incidents described or alluded to within this work are pure invention. No affiliations, involvements or gender assignations due to the use of any images contained within this work are to be implied, intended or inferred.
Cover image copyright Maps.com and shown for clarification of area in which the story begins it’s evolution.
DUTY CALLS, L.J. Stevens Vol. One Copyright © 2012 USA, Earth by R. A. Dumas.
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