Line in the Valley, chapter 3


Line in the Valley, Chapter 3. Please keep the advice and suggestions coming, I listen to it all. Thanks guys.

NOTE ADDED 4/9/13: I made some changes based on very good critiques from several readers. Please check out the revisions and let me know what you think.

Links to all other chapters and excerpts are below:


“Well, 9? You see anything yet?” Lieutenant DeLeon asked over the radio.

First Sergeant Olivares answered, “Nothing yet, 6. A few more bodies, no activity at all.”

“Roger. Keep me updated.”

Olivares tried to relax a little. Supposedly every time the police went south of the checkpoint they were shot at. But nobody shot at Olivares’ convoy. That had to mean the enemy was gone, which was what Olivares expected anyway. Shooting cops in some podunk town was one thing, taking on the U.S. Army was something else. Olivares didn’t believe a bunch of criminals, even cartel criminals, were stupid enough to try it.

Olivares looked around from his humvee at the front of the convoy as the outskirts of Arriago slid by. Run-down wooden shacks and overgrown junk-filled yards lined the highway. Here and there an “antique shop”, which was more like a shed full of old worthless crap, stood out from the other structures. If not for the handful of bodies and random burned cars, nothing would have been out of place.

The corpses, looking like piles of stained rags instead of men, women and children, were almost all face-down in the road. One fat old woman had her knees bent under her gigantic stomach. Olivares saw her hands still clasped behind what remained of her head. He didn’t have to work with CSI South Texas to know she had been executed, shot in the back of the head from behind. Or that there would be more just like her less than a mile ahead, inside the city limits where smoke from several fires rose. The bodies had been stewing in the Rio Grande Valley summer heat for two days. The stench here, outside of town, wasn’t too bad. He expected it to be much worse by the time they reached the Arriago high school.

When his company first received the order for this mission, he had been pissed to discover that none of his soldiers were from Arriago. It would have been good to have at least one soldier who knew the town to act as a guide. Now, after first spending half an hour picking up the punctured bodies of six Harper county deputies outside the town, then driving past the corpses of murdered town residents, he was glad nobody from Arriago was on the mission. Recovering the dead deputies had given his soldiers a bad case of the willies already. The last thing he needed was one of his troops going crazy after seeing his family and friends decomposing on the highway.

The convoy of ten vehicles, a mix of soft-skinned humvees and an old five-ton truck, crept past the fat, dead woman. It was the last one Olivares knew for sure was a body. The other clumps lying in the road ahead were too far away to identify.

Olivares looked in the side mirror as the last truck weaved around the body. The convoy’s spacing looked right, his soldiers had rifles pointing left and right from their windows. The last truck commander had just comfirmed one of his troops had a rifle over the tailgate, covering their six. The company was maintaining 360 degree security, just like Olivares told them to.

He turned forward again, looking for the city limit sign. The structures along the highway were packed a little closer now, they couldn’t be far. Olivares scanned the road ahead through binoculars. Heavy brush lined the highway. He still couldn’t make out the city limit sign, but he could see what looked like downtown Arriago, such as it was. Olivares had grown up in Cuidad Irigoyen, just over forty miles away, but hadn’t been to Arriago since elementary school. He had thought the town was a dump then, and it hadn’t improved any in over thirty years. Even without the burned out cars, burning structures and rotting corpses on the street, the place was a shithole.

Olivares scanned left, came back the other way and spotted the city limit sign in his binoculars. It was just a few hundred meters away, nearly hidden behind a faded sign advertising a restaurant that had probably been closed for years. He pulled the humvee’s radio handset off the sun visor and keyed up.

“Wrench 6 this is Wrench 9, the city limits are just ahead. I still don’t see any activity. We’re continuing on.”

Lieutenant DeLeon answered, “Roger. Hey 9, um, before we get into town, you sure you don’t want to dismount some guys to walk alongside the trucks? Over.”

Olivares answered, “Negative, 6. We keep everyone in the trucks, just like we said before. Out.”

Without waiting for a response, he stuck the handset back onto the visor. Even though DeLeon was officially in charge, Olivares wasn’t interested in what that weak, inexperienced shithead had to say. Olivares had the experience, so he was running the company.

When they had received the mission order, he told the lieutenant that the company should mount up in their vehicles and stay together the whole way into Arriago. Olivares had been on at least six convoys in Iraq, between Tallil and Kuwait, and that was how they had done it. He didn’t see any reason to jack with success. But when they briefed the company, one of their soldiers, a former infantryman named D’Angelo, almost blew a gasket.

D’Angelo had been discharged from the regular Army, come back home to Irigoyen and checked into the Guard unit eight months earlier. He hadn’t seemed like a bad soldier at first, and had breezed through the National Guard mechanic’s course. But after a few months of drills he started running his mouth nonstop. His scorn for Olivares’ and DeLeon’s decisions, and his loud disgust at the company’s tactical training, bordered on insubordination.

Olivares and DeLeon conducted training the right way; nothing that might be dangerous, no extra risks taken, no reason to do more than the bare minimum. Olivares ignored the medical training requirements because they were a waste of time. If someone was really wounded, a medic would be there to treat them. At the range they got everyone qualified, whether they could actually shoot or not. Soldiers who were blind and helpless with a rifle got a little extra help with a pencil on their qualification records. Rifle qualification was just a “check the block” exercise anyway. There was no reason to waste time with all that advanced tactical training bullshit the Army wanted Guard units to do now. The bottom line was that units only needed to qualify once a year. Anything more was extra, unnecessary effort. And a maintenance company didn’t need it anyway.

When D’Angelo had gone to the range with them the first time, he showed up with personalized gear, different from everyone else. Olivares had almost lost it. The company’s standing order was for every soldier to set their gear up exactly the same way. Everyone knew the military had to have uniformity at all times. The fact that D’Angelo was good with his gear didn’t make any difference. All that mattered to Olivares was unquestioning obedience.

During the operations order brief, when Olivares said every soldier in the company would be mounted in the vehicles, D’Angelo had to open his big mouth. He insisted, in front of the whole company, that keeping everyone in the vehicles was the wrong thing to do. According to him, soldiers needed to walk alongside the convoy to give the company more flexibility and better observation. The vehicles were the biggest targets and as many troops as possible needed to be out of them if they got hit.

Lieutenant DeLeon, weak-willed as always, stumbled over a few words of halting agreement. Olivares told D’Angelo to shut the fuck up and follow orders. Then he told D’Angelo to ride in the back of the last vehicle, since he was so scared. D’Angelo had answered, “Cool, thanks Top. That’ll be the best place to be when we get ambushed.”

Olivares had wanted to hit him. Fucking D’Angelo. A twenty-four year old Italian who grew up in a Mexican town, spoke Spanish and looked Mexican enough to never get picked on about his background. The one guy in the company who was in shape and always carried himself like a soldier, who should have been the shining example of someone who followed Olivares’ every order without question. He could have been an asset to the company. But he wasn’t, because of his fucking attitude. He thought he knew everything about combat, just because he had been an infantryman during one tour of Iraq and one of Afghanistan. Olivares didn’t care what D’Angelo knew, he wasn’t going to listen to anything he said.

A few hundred yards ahead of the lead humvee, Olivares was able to make out two of the burning structures. One looked like a gas station, the other a falling apart dump, maybe an old store, on the right side of the road. Dark plumes rose into the sky above Arriago, mixed with smoke from other fires Olivares couldn’t see. The narrow three-lane road through downtown was obscured with it, but Olivares thought it was far short of a smokescreen, if that had been the intent. Most of the fires were on the right side, so if the convoy stayed left it should get through fine.

He looked at his map again. Preston street was just past city hall. They had to turn left there and then make the second right to get to the high school. If they reached the school, they would circle their vehicles in the parking lot, sit tight and wait for additional orders. If they took fire, even one round, they were to turn around and drive back out of the town. Of course D’Angelo had made some remark about the order being chickenshit, but Olivares ignored him. As far as Olivares was concerned, if D’Angelo wanted to get shot that badly he could walk into Arriago by himself.

Olivares had stuck D’Angelo in the back of the last truck, under the command of Sergeant Lerma, a man he trusted. Lerma was an old-school Guardsman, from the days when soldiers did nothing at drill except get drunk. He was forty-seven, fat, lazy, slow, and wouldn’t even take a dump without Olivares’ direct order. So when Olivares told Lerma to keep D’Angelo in the back of the truck no matter what, he knew Lerma would keep him in the back of the truck. Problem solved.

“Wrench 9, this is 6. Do you see anything else going on up there?” Deleon asked over the radio. “The trooper here is getting a little nervous.”

Olivares rolled his eyes. Deleon had a state highway trooper riding with him in his humvee, but Olivares knew if anyone was getting nervous, it was Deleon, not the trooper. Olivares understood it to a point. Some seriously bad stuff had happened in Arriago. But still, he couldn’t imagine that whoever had done all this killing would hang around and wait for the Army to show up.

Olivares grabbed the radio handset and said, “Negative 6, there’s nothing going on up front. Just a few bodies around and stuff on fire. Like I told you already.”

“Uh, okay, roger,” Deleon said. “Make sure you tell me right away if you see something. Tell me if we need to turn around.”

Olivares turned to his driver, Private Salazar, and gave a sarcastic smirk. “Roger, 6. I say again, I’ll tell you if there’s anything for you to be scared of. Right now I can’t see much through all the smoke.”

“9, can you tell how far we are from city hall? I don’t want to miss the turn.”

“Jesus Christ,” Olivares muttered. He clipped the radio handset onto the visor and told Salazar, “Fuck that, I’m not going to answer him. He needs to quit being such a pussy and just wait for me to give him updates.”

The city limits sign, advertising City of Arriago, population 2357,coasted past Olivares’ window. The gas station map in Olivares’ hand showed city hall six or seven blocks from Arapahoe street, the town’s northern border. He didn’t know if city hall was on the right or left side of the street. Like most small Texas towns, the old downtown area consisted of long one story buildings separated into shops. City hall should be somewhere among those buildings. If it was the right, they’d have a hell of a time spotting it in all the smoke. The tiny downtown area was not quite blanketed in it, but it looked thicker now than it had from outside the town. The left side of Nogales street, the main north/south street, was still clear enough to drive through.

Salazar pointed to the right side of the road, about a block ahead. “Top, see those things on the sidewalk? What are those?”

Olivares followed Salazar’s pointed finger and raised his binoculars. Through the grey haze he saw what looked like six or seven charred trash bags scattered around the pavement in front of what had been a small grocery store. Smoke rolled upward from the tops of the store’s shattered front windows. He focused on one of the bags, and saw what looked like an off-white stick protruding from the side.

“Uh…that’s nothing, Salazar. Just garbage bags, or something.”

“Bullshit, Top. I think those are bodies.”

Olivares swallowed. “Just drive, Salazar.”

Deleon’s voice came across the radio, shaky as usual. “9 this is 6, the command post just asked for our front line trace. What does that mean?”

Olivares turned to Salazar and asked, “What’s a front line trace?”

“Fuck, Top, I don’t know. Why don’t you ask D’Angelo? He’ll probably know.”

“Fuck D’Angelo. I’m not asking him shit.” Olivares keyed his radio and said, “6, they probably just want to know where we are. Tell them we’re at Nogales and, uh, 5th. If they mean something else they’ll tell you.”


Olivares’ humvee reached a burned car in the right lane, not blocking their path but pushing them left. The right lane was blocked and filling with smoke. Olivares was getting the urge to cough from breathing it in. He reached down and pulled the humvee’s plastic window up, then struggled to zip it closed. His gunner, Rivera, coughed and ducked into the passenger compartment. Olivares swiveled his head back and said, “Rivera, get the fuck back up there.”

“Shit, Top, it’s smoky as hell up here. I’m gonna get sick.”

“We’ll take you to the doctor later. Just get your ass up there.”

Rivera mumbled curses in Spanish and stood back up. The humvee didn’t have a turret like they’d had in Iraq. They had just rolled back the vinyl top so the gunner could stick his upper body out, he had no protection at all. And Rivera didn’t have a machine gun, just his M16A2. The one magazine Rivera had was in the rifle, but Olivares hadn’t let any of the gunners lock and load. That was a sure way to have a negligent discharge, and he wasn’t about to risk that. The soldiers inside the vehicles hadn’t even been allowed to insert the magazines into their weapons. Olivares could just imagine what one moron could do if he accidentally fired a three-round burst inside a humvee.

“9 this is 6, we just passed the city limits.”

“Yeah? So fucking what?” Olivares said to the windshield. Then he keyed the microphone and said, “Roger.”

“Hey, Top!” Rivera yelled down into the humvee. “There’s a bunch of empty shells and crap laying around! Like there was a firefight here, or something.”

Olivares looked at the line of shattered windows fronting the old buildings, and at the burned cars. Bullet holes were everywhere. Olivares felt a little chill at the sight. No kidding, there had been some kind of fight there. He covered his nervousness by saying, “Gee Rivera, you really think so? Damn boy, I’m gonna have to promote you to Lieutenant. You’re a genius.”

Rivera mumbled something in reply. Olivares couldn’t understand it, but the very tone of the mumbling was disrespectful. He was about to get him back in line when Rivera yelled down into the humvee again.

“Top! Something just started burning, around the corner to the left! It’s about a block up!”

Olivares looked and didn’t see anything. “There’s nothing burning over there, you dumbass. It’s just smoke drifting over from the right.”

“No Top, there’s a real thick column of black smoke coming up on the left, and I know it wasn’t there before! I can’t tell what it’s coming from!”

“Calm down, Rivera,” Olivares said. “I don’t see shit and you’re probably wrong anyway, but so fucking what if something else is burning? Shit’s burning all over the place out here.”

“Top, someone just set something on fire,” Rivera said. “Someone’s doing something out here. Take another look, you should be able to see it now.”

Olivares muttered a curse, crouched and tilted his head to get his eyes under the upper edge of the windshield. And he saw it, a solid black tower of smoke. His brow furrowed in confusion.

“9 this is 6, my gunner says he sees smoke rising on the left,” Deleon said over the radio. “Do you see anything?”

“6 this is 9,” Olivares answered. “Yeah, we see it too. I can’t tell what it is.”

“Uh…you think we should turn around?” DeLeon asked.

God damn it. What a friggin’ faggot. “No, 6, we shouldn’t turn around. We’ll see what it is when we pass the next intersection, and report it up if we need to. Got it?”

“Roger, 9. I got it.”

Rivera tapped Olivares with his foot. “Top, we should stop and dismount some guys. I don’t know what the fuck is going on, but we need guys on foot looking around corners and shit.”

“Shut up, Rivera. I was on plenty of convoys in Iraq, and we kept everyone mounted. I know what I’m doing.”

“Top, you did like five milk runs on routes where nothing ever happened. I was on a couple of those convoys, remember? This ain’t Iraq, Top. This shit is different.”

Olivares bit back anger. “Rivera, shut the fuck up! If we get hit I don’t want to wait for guys to mount back up before we haul ass. Everyone stays mounted.” Olivares turned to his driver and said, “Salazar, don’t slow down. Rivera, keep an eye that direction when we get to that corner.”

Rivera gave a reluctant “Roger” and hunched down in the hatch, rifle ready. Salazar moved his head closer to the steering wheel, looking left. Olivares checked the side mirror and saw the convoy maintaining pace and interval. That was a relief. Of the ten vehicles, only four had radios. The rest of the drivers were just following the trucks in front. He hoped none of the drivers would see the smoke and slow down on their own.

Salazar jammed on the brakes. Olivares’ head rocked forward. Rivera yelled “Shit!” and Salazar yelled, “Top, look!”

Olivares looked forward. An old red Suburban, engulfed in flames, rolled onto Nogales street. The doors were open and what looked like flaming human bodies hung out. One dragged on the street. The Suburban crept on burning tires, obviously not under its own power. Its front bumper just reached the center lane before its momentum died. The vehicle coasted to a stop, less than fifty yards ahead of Olivares’ humvee. As the soldiers inside stared at it in silence, a burning body flopped out onto the pavement. Rivera yanked his rifle’s charging handle to the rear, loading a round into the chamber. Salazar put the humvee in reverse.

“Salazar, stay put. Don’t back up.”

Behind them, the convoy tightened up and rolled to a stop. Olivares looked around and didn’t see anything. He keyed the radio and said, “6, this is 9. There’s a burning vehicle blocking our path. I mean, uh. . . it’s blocking our path now. It wasn’t before.”

DeLeon responded, “9, what do you mean it wasn’t blocking the path before? How did it get in our path?”

“6, uh. . . it just came out from a side street.”

There were several seconds of silence over the radio. Then DeLeon said, “9, well, what do you think we should do? Should we turn around?”

Olivares looked around again. There was still nothing going on. They could just drive around it or push it out of the way. But he couldn’t understand where it had come from. And now DeLeon, that chickenshit, was asking him what to do. Fuck that, he wasn’t about to make that call and be at fault for whatever happened.

“6 this is 9, that’s your job. You tell me.”

Several more seconds of silence followed. DeLeon finally got on the radio and managed to say, “9 this is 6, the trooper thinks -” before the first volley of automatic gunfire ripped through Olivares’ humvee from the left side of the street.

A roar punched Olivares’ ears. Glass and shards of metal slapped him in the face. He jerked back and slapped his hands over his eyes in defense. Gunfire exploded above him as Rivera shouted “Motherfucker!” and opened fire. Salazar screamed “Oh shit! Oh fuck!” and stomped on the accelerator. He hadn’t taken it out of reverse. The humvee lurched backward and slammed into the humvee behind it.

Olivares’ head bounced off his seat. Blobs of steel zinged past his head. Panic flooded his brain, all he could think to do was hide. He tried to slide onto the floorboard. Something smashed into his left forearm. It went numb and he fell back onto the seat, shielding his face with his right arm.

“Salazar! Do something! Hurry!” He tried to slap Salazar but his left arm didn’t work. He looked to his driver. Salazar’s upper body was slumped onto the empty space between the front seats. His head hung down and a stream of blood poured from his helmet. Rivera yelled “Ow! Ow!” above him. When Olivares looked up something heavy fell onto his helmet, knocking the rim onto the bridge of his nose.

He saw stars. Dead weight pressed Olivares’ head against the flimsy door handle. The door popped open. Olivares spilled backwards and slammed the back of his skull onto the street. He lay with his head and upper back on the street, legs and rifle still in the humvee. Hundreds of pounds pressed down on his calves, trapping them on the seat. The speaker squawked, “9 this is 6! They’re shooting us! What do we do?”

The weight on his calves jerked violently several times. Something stabbed him in the right foot. He shuddered from the agony. Further back in the convoy someone yelled over the gunfire, “Top! Move your fucking humvee!”

Olivares looked down the convoy. Soldiers were piled in clumps next to the passenger sides of vehicles. Bits of metal and plastic exploded from the humvees, limp bodies poured from the doors. He shouted “Someone get over here and help me! Please!”

Nobody responded. Two soldiers sprinted toward the right side of the street. One of them didn’t have a rifle. Gunfire exploded from a roof. Puffs of concrete dust erupted around them.

The soldier with the rifle didn’t make it even halfway across the road. It looked like someone switched him off midstride. He slammed down onto his face with arms limp beside him. The other soldier dropped to his knees, got back up dragging one leg. More concrete erupted around him and he fell onto his ass, then keeled over sideways.

Olivares closed his eyes and tried to shut out the terror. He didn’t know what to do. Someone had to help him. His soldiers weren’t supposed to leave him like this.

A burst of automatic fire rang out in front of his humvee. Gunshot concussions slapped Olivares’ skin. He opened his eyes and snapped them to the right. A man in black fatigues with a black mask, chest rig and scoped M4 carbine stood at the front bumper, firing through the windshield. He looked down at Olivares. Their eyes met. The man stopped firing.

Olivares closed his eyes again. I’m dead, he thought. It’s over. I’m dead.

20 Responses to “Line in the Valley, chapter 3”

  1. 1 Boyd

    I’d like to buy this book for anything like a trade paperback price. Actually I prefer non DRM epublication but could do Nook, Kindle or dead tree’s (in order of preference).

  2. 3 Gravitas

    Minor point: The front headlight comment in the last paragraph confused me for a bit. Maybe say “from the front fender” or some such. I had some vision of the bad guy looking through a headlight somehow at the PSG. Took me a second to process what you were saying.

    Good read to date, but I think that the leadership of the maintenance company is too much of a caricature of bad ARNG soldiers to really be believable. They are under-reacting to a known hostile situation and have passed multiple dead bodies. Even if they had never deployed, I think the reaction would be to overreact and tiptoe into the situation, so wired on adrenaline they’d jump at the smoke, much less the suburban rolling out.

    I’m coming at this from an active and reserve Army experience, so your NG perspective may be dead on. There are dumb slugs everywhere. Found you from Lightfighter – love your writing. Keep it up, and keep up the good fight.

    • Grav,

      Roger on the wording. How about, “A man in black fatigues with a black mask, chest rig and scoped M4 carbine stood at the front bumper, firing through the windshield. He looked down at Olivares. Their eyes met. The man stopped firing.”?

      On the other point, I understand but I think it’s only Olivares who is underreacting. The CO is scared and trying to do the right thing, but Olivares keeps running him over (as senior NCOs often do with weak officers). D’Angelo raised valid concerns and tried to get the company to do the right thing, but Olivares shut him down. The soldiers in Olivares’ humvee are scared shitless and trying to convince Olivares something is going on, but he’s ignoring them. So it’s really just one bad leader who’s doing everything wrong, which unfortunately is way too believeable in my experience. I based Olivares on every bad leader I’ve ever known, and added my own leadership mistakes.

      The problem is, I won’t be there to explain that to a reader. So I have to make sure readers aren’t getting the impression that all the NG troops suck, just specific ones. Thanks for the feedback, and for your service.

      • 5 Gravitas

        Good points. I like it – and much better writing than I do 🙂 I’ve seen the weak O run over by the bossy NCO before too. Sometimes for good, sometimes not so much…

        Maybe dig into the dumbassness a bit as spemack says. I saw the convoy comment, but didn’t think about the route too. Still, I’d worry that him doing EVERYTHING wrong, is hard to believe. Even a broken clock is right twice a day and all that. I really think this chapter is a hair’s breadth from being really good. Great build to the action. The other two are already there…

        Likewise – thanks for your service. And your writing.

        • Hmmm…

          How about if I have him make sure rifles are sticking out windows in both directions and think something like “Okay, I’ve got the company spaced correctly, we’ve got 360 security, there’s no way in hell anyone would try to take us on.”

          I could also have one of the soldiers in Olivares’ humvee say “We should dismount troops now” when the suburban comes out. Olivares can think about it and make a halfhearted decision, “No, we keep everyone mounted like on my convoys in Iraq.” Gunner then responds, “All your fucking convoys in Iraq were milk runs. I was on them too. This is different.”

          Would that help?

  3. 7 spemack

    Chris, as always, more please. I’ll echo what was said about the First Shirt running over the L-T, it is easily believable, but my question, is how whould a First Shirt have not deployed atleast once and have atleast a vague understanding of “oh, this bad. Real bad.”

    Don’t get me wrong, I totally see where you are coming from, a maintenance company isn’t going to be full of hardcore hooah types eager to move to contact and break things, but I feel like the dumbass-ness of 1SG Olivares needs to be explained. Maybe he got a CAB for taking some IDF and thinks he is all that is combat arms NCO?

    That being said, reads real good. Great rising action. Can’t wait for Jerry and his guys to get in the fight.

    • Aha! You missed this line:

      “Olivares had been on at least six convoys in Iraq, between Tallil and Kuwait, and that was how they had done it. He didn’t see any reason to jack with success.”

      This is a very vague reference that only Iraq vets will get, but the route between Tallil and Kuwait was regarded as a milk run. Olivares was on a handful of easy missions in a safe area, and consequently thinks he knows everything about combat.

      I probably need to stress that a bit more. Thanks Mack.

      • 9 spemack

        And so I did! Granting that I was watching the ball game while reading, it probably wouldn’t hurt to stress that a bit more. I think it would serve to illustrate both how he can run all over the LT and why he gets pissed off in dealing with D’Angelo. Good deal.

  4. 10 Scott

    Well, I’d buy this book.

  5. 12 Skip

    Question- Who sent them in without a full load?

    • Skip,

      In the previous chapter the intel sergeant tells the assembled leaders the commander of the Texas National Guard laid out rules: no weapons larger than a 5.56, no armored vehicles, no more than one magazine per soldier. I based that on several NG responses to disasters. I go into a little more detail in a later chapter, and explain that the CG was trying to avoid collateral damage.

      • This is more an experience question then a book one (since I have no experience)… tell me gaurdsmen really actually would have ways to ‘overlook” on order to enter something like this with 1 mag (please).

      • I wouldn’t know anything about running a convoy and somehow ending up with all the guys in my truck armed, despite orders to the contrary. Because that would be a terrible exercise of initiative, judgement, and common sense. And bad.
        Good commanders issue the order “Minimize collateral damage.” Miserably atrocious commanders order “No loaded weapons”, because they think it’s the same thing, but don’t trust their men to implement.
        It would be a stereotype seen in movies like “Aliens” and “Heartbreak Ridge”, including troops pulling loaded mags out as soon as command walks away, except that it happens in real life too. Like sending a brigade of NG into L.A. during the Rodney King Free Nike Shoes Festival, and helpfully telling the media they were all carrying empty weapons.

        Keep it coming.

  6. 17 JR

    This was explained in chapter two I believe. I’ll second that I would buy this book. You do a great job with your descriptions, just painting a picture. I like how you give background on characters, leaving the possibility open that they may be in the story a long time, and then they get killed off. This keeps the reader guessing. You did that in the first chapter with the LEO, and now in this chapter with Olivares whom we know may or may not still be alive.

    My only suggestion would be (as others have said as well) to provide a little more info on why Olivares is so unconcerned with all of these signs as they enter the city. Some of my favorite authors make similar characters that the reader knows is clearly making poor decisions. In my unprofessional opinion, it would be just a little more enjoyable if either it wasn’t completely obvious that poor decisions were being made, or there was just a little more explanation of why the character thought he was doing the right thing but without dragging the story down with too many details, Crichton and Clancy style. (I enjoy those authors but admit that I will skip paragraphs at a time in their books. Your writing doesn’t have me skipping over anything)

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