The noise of a revving Abrams turbine combined with massive speakers mounted on the top of the turret blaring old rock music was deafening. Major Seagrove smiled as his companion yelled out:
“That APU isn’t there to power your goddamn stereo!”
The crew sitting on top of the turret didn’t hear him of course, but they did get the gist of things since the “Highway to Hell” chorus became noticeably quieter as Seagrove and the other man turned towards the command tent. Seagrove nodded to himself. The new commander – he’d do.
As they walked through the camp under the cold sun of early Balkan spring, Seagrove noticed some unusual signs of activity. Looks like bad news – or good news, depending on how you look at things. Few enemies are as deadly to a soldier as idleness. But less pleasant matters awaited him and he focused his mind on the matter at hand.
Four people waited for them. Major Kathryn Grey was leaning against the aluminum table in the middle of the tent with her arms folded and with a scowl on her face while the unit’s HR officer, Kurtz, stood impassively in front of two guards with his hands behind his back.
Seagrove frowned as Kurtz briefly saluted and immediately addressed his companion.
“Commander Blackwood, as the Human Resources Officer of this unit, I have no choice but to bring charges against Major Grey.”
“Is that so?” replied Blackwood and sat down in his chair across the table from Kurtz and Grey. Seagrove folded his arms and stayed near the entrance, observing the scene but also preventing anyone from coming in and interfering.
“Yes sir,” said Kurtz and straightened his back. He was a short and plump man who looked in his long black leather coat like a Nazi parody. Seagrove often wondered whether that was the intention of whoever designed these silly uniforms. HR officers almost never saw combat and rarely participated in any training, which often explained their characters – and builds.
Major Grey was a polar opposite of Kurtz – lean and tall with close cropped brown hair and sharp face features.
“The objective of the mission was to take prisoners.”
Kurtz made a show of opening the mission report he took from the table and going through it until he found the part he was looking for.
“According to this testimony, Major Grey ordered her driver to position her tank next to the house with the suspects inside, at which point she had the turret rotate until the barrel pointed against the object’s window and fired a shell while yelling ‘knock, knock, mother... ’”
“That’s enough. I’ve read the report.” Blackwood interrupted him.
Kurtz was not deterred.
“But sir, the incident resulted in seven dead and one seriously injured. I would also like to point out that the evidence suggests illegal vehicle and ammunition tampering. The shell wouldn’t have exploded under normal circumstances.”
“They were organ harvesters, Kurtz,” Grey growled. “You weren’t the one who found bodies of children...”
His eyes narrowed.
“Does that also justify giving HR officers nicknames after venereal diseases in your reports commander?”
Despite the seriousness of the matter, Seagrove barely suppressed a grin. HR officer nicknames were an inside joke in Clayburn Corporate Forces, often tolerated by commanding officers much to HR department’s annoyance.
“Alright,” sighed Blackwood and clasped his hands.
“We do have standing orders to give local thugs no quarter for what they did upon our arrival. Am I correct, Kurtz?”
Kurtz nodded curtly.
“Good. Major’s orders were to find us a prisoner and that she did. He doesn’t need arms and legs to talk and I trust our medical officers to keep him alive. The way I see it, she followed orders to the letter. As for her conduct in combat, Major Grey is a decorated officer of the Clayburn Industries Expeditionary Force. I trust her judgment and her tactics. The shell explosion was clearly a malfunction. Are we clear?”
Kurtz’s disappointment was palpable.
“Perfectly so, sir.” he replied sourly.
“Good. You are dismissed. Major Grey, you stay – we need to plan the transfer. Orders came in.”
Seagrove saluted and left the tent only to wait a few meters away from the entrance. A few seconds later, Kurtz joined him and sighed.
“Why do I always have to play the bad cop?”
“Because you’re the best at it, Jonas. The guards will talk and by this evening, everyone in the unit will know how the new commander stood up for his subordinate against the hated HR.”
Kurtz sighed again.
“Next time, can I at least get a better nickname?”
“Now, about that whiskey Major Grey salvaged on her last run...”
Clayburn Industries Seahawks
In 2038, Clayburn Industries acquired large portions of land from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina following the economic collapse of the region. As corporate economic aid started pouring in to the area, unknown assailants began looting and destroying the transports and murdering their crews. All strikes against convoys were swift, brutal and professional, far beyond what any home-grown resistance was capable of.
Clayburn, suspecting the involvement of another corporation, sent a large number of troops to the area to protect the city centers. One of the best units assembled for the task was Task Force Seahawk, an ad-hoc expeditionary unit under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Adrian Blackwood.
The Seahawks are a battalion-size unit with approximately four dozen Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams series Main Battle Tanks, three dozen Bradley IFVs, Strykers and a large flotilla of support vehicles. Their task is to protect the company's interests and assets against any and all threats.
It is now the spring of 2039 and the unit is located in the Sanski Most area. Local crime groups were quickly wiped out and the attacks seem to have subsided as well. But to the experienced Clayburn soldiers, this all feels like the calm before the storm.