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Old 03-06-2012, 02:43 PM
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Default The Lady

The damaged Bradley was pulled off the heavy trailer by the heavy winch. The destroyed track threw sparks and made very nasty sounds on the deck of the trailer - everyone present knew, it would have to be repaired as well.

This time, the Bradley had been at the recieving end of several bursts of 30mm API grenades and the first order of business was to wash the insides of the holed IFV of the remains of its crew and passengers, who had perished. No-one looked forward to this gruesome task, but the alternative would be working in the middle of the mess - spatters of brains and blood, random bodyparts the medics had missed. And at times, the medics missed quite a bit. One of the mechanics had once felt a severed limb on his shoulder, which had led to quite a ruckus as he trashed around the tower of a damaged M1.

"Okay, boys, let's get the lady cleaned up, lickety-spit", came the order in a bright female voice and broad Louisianan accent, "she ain't gonna do it herself." The speaker was Sergeant Jessie-Lou LeFort and she looked very much out of place in her green armor crewman's overalls. And she was, just as out of place as every other man at the depot or anyone in the whole 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized), U.S.Army. Had it been upto them, they would have been rebuilding their gravely wounded nation instead of fighting the last remains of a global war, far away from home against an enemy, who was just as tired as they were and did not understand to give up the fight any more than they did.

Jessie-Lou was a Louisianan, born and bred. She had been born as a farmer's daughter in Saline, Louisiana, well known statewide for the annual Watermelon Festival. She had never originally meant to join the Army and even less to fight a war, though she respected those who did. However, before the war, as she had graduated from High School, she didn't want to go to College and ended up at the local Community College and became a mechanic. Local enterprises, however, were squeemish about hiring a female mechanic despite her good grades and she was left with little opportunity for employment, except the military.

The Army had been far less discriminant and for once had placed someone at just the right place. She had been deemed capable enough as a mechanic and made Sergeant a couple years back. With the cannibalisation of all 'non-essential' rear-echelon troops of the Division in to combat troops, she was practically one of the very few NCOs in the Vehicle Repair Depot (Mobile), formed under the 705th Main Support Battalion. It would have been pretty much okay, if it wasn't for one thing. "LeFort", shouted through the window of the partially collapsed industrial warehouse the CO of the depot, 1st Lieutanant Monroe, had set up his 'office' in, cut down her train of thought. "Sir!", she yelled back, turning on her heels and for a moment thinking about saluting, just in case there would be an enemy sniper somewhere close. Nothing the Battalion HQ could throw at her could be worse than this particular excuse for an officer.

She slid between the parked vehicles and equipment crates at her best speed and stopped right in front of the window, snapping to an attention. "LeFort, why is that M1 wreck still on my yard", the ratty 1st lieutanant asked in a voice that reminded her of a raccoon, except that it was far less adorable. "Sir, we're still waitin' a couple of parts for her from the Battalion. They say, they are on their way already." Yes, the Battalion had promised the parts for today, but it was already afternoon. Monroe looked at the ginger sergeant and it was pretty certain, he had not even listened to her at all. "Yes, yes. Keep me posted", he said and Jessie-Lou thanked heavens for being dismissed. If the lieutanant was not otherwise infuriating enough, everyone knew, he had attained the position through connections, his father having been a U.S. Senator prior to the war.

A distant rumble made Jessie-Lou think. It was probably one of the Artillery Battalions having a pissing contest with their counterparts on the other side of the front lines. She tightened the ballistic vest on her, none the less, because things might just change at any given minute. She had become well versed in the uncertainties of war - it was not once nor twice, the whole depot had been mobilized and evacuated when some enemy units had broken through the already thinly spread front lines. While Jessie-Lou wasn't officially allowed to serve in the combat arms due to her gender, she had already been in many enough skirmishes during the last few years, she knew to keep her personal weapon close - a Remington pump-action. It was something, she had managed to trade the Battalion Supply for several items she had salvaged in the field, she didn't have use for.

"Evans", she said to the private, who, after being wounded in the leg was no longer capable of front line service, "once you have hosed down that rear compartment, get a line at the Supply and ask them about those M1 parts we requested. The LT is at it again." It might not have been the most professional thing to say about the CO, but everyone at the depot, even the MPs providing security knew it was very much so. Evans simply nodded - the two knew each other well enough, no more was needed. Evans was one of the few men at the depot who could pass under the COs radar - mostly because the CO was both jealous and afraid of the hulking private. Jealous, because the private had more leadership qualities than he did and afraid, because the private could have ripped him into pieces and most probably no-one would have even considered stopping him.

Another long rumble made Jessie-Lou nervous. When the artillery was very short on grenades, a long barrage could mean only one thing - an assault on either side. She ducked between two other Bradleys under repair when she heard a chorus of whistles in the air. Diving to the ground, she yelled "Incoming!", but her voice drowned in the roars of explosion, set off by 122mm rounds. Then again, yelling that was practically of no use with the experienced repairmen not being shelled the first time.

It was hard to tell, how long the barrage lasted. When lying in the rain of explosive-filled steel containers, time loses its meaning. The barrage was over as suddenly as it had started and Jessie-Lou lifted her head from the muddy ground. The explosions had been replaced by a different rumble. The minute vibrations could be felt in the ground and this was, when Jessie-Lou felt anguish. Tanks.

People were lying around the compound, some dead, some wounded, others just well shaken. Jessie-Lou knew. There was no other weapons against tanks in the compound except those on the partially repaired vehicles. She clambered on her feet, looked around and headed for the very same M1 tank the lieutanant had nagged about. "I betcha, you're happy now, this is in your yard", she muttered on the way.
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