Ch.10, V-Trooper—First Mission


Boyd climbed down from the roof and waited for his relief at the locked warehouse gate. When the day-shift gate guards came at 0730 he exchanged routine information with them and rode back to the MP barracks.

Boyd shared a room with one other soldier, but his roommate was on duty. He booted up his laptop on the local wireless connection. It was slow, but not as sluggish as it would be in the afternoon and evening when the bandwidth was clogged.

He composed a message to Anna, the woman who had transformed him, and left it in the Drafts folder of a low-cost, secure email site.

Dear one,

I have done what you told me I should never do. I killed a man with my metal fangs and drank down some of his blood. It was like the first taste of an addictive narcotic. I understand why you warned me. I don’t know whether, now, I can exist on sheep’s blood alone.

I believe you must have the answer for me. I’ll wait for your words. I love you,


He logged off the Internet and lay awake on his bunk, playing back the sights, scenes and smells of the early morning. Only a minute brush of weariness touched him. After more than two hours of attempted sleep, he shifted his focus and came to a decision.


Vic Russell had just completed the first interview with his new executive officer. David Hutton. The captain, had seemed amiable. The word, slightly archaic to Vic’s mind, was the only one that seemed to fit. He would probably be a fine replacement when Russell left in eight months. The man’s temperament and personality seemed perfect to manage a supply depot or a building materials outlet. He would do well in an on-the-job training status while Vic pursued the war from a different angle. The battalion would be providing goods and services to the combat units with no discernible difference, while he took the war to the enemy, through Boyd.

The line of his mouth formed a humorless grin.


“Sir, Sergeant Boyd is here to see you. Shall I show him in?” Flynn said. He’d stuck his head inside the Major’s office only minutes after Hutton had departed. The spoken words were primarily for the clerks in the outer office.

“Sure Sergeant Major, please bring him in and join us,” Russell said.

Wil Boyd reported to the Major formally, with a salute.

“Please sit down, Sergeant. Is everything secure with our warehouses?”

When Flynn had closed the door, Boyd relaxed and drew his chair closer to
Russell’s desk.

The Sergeant Major pulled the other chair close beside him. “Is everything okay?” Flynn said.

“Yes and no. I have no problems with what happened last night. That’s not why I came,” Boyd said.

“What is it?” Russell said.

“Sir, I saw something last night I should’ve told you about at the time, but didn’t. Now, after thinking about it, I’m certain you should know.”

Boyd recounted the scene he’d witnessed in Dostrem’s courtyard. His remarkable hearing had picked up the sounds of the gate being opened to admit a guest. He’d heard and watched Muhammad Dostrem, the Village Elder, welcome Lieutenant Nichols, the commander of the MP detachment, the same man who’d released his son.

The time of the visit was the question. There was no reason for an official call at nearly 0400.

“Thank you for coming to us with this, Boyd. Keep your eyes and ears open around the MP detachment, but don’t initiate any action. Flynn and I will work on this and let you know what we find. Let’s keep everything inside this group of three. If what I suspect is true, direct confrontation might be unwise,” Russell said.

As Vic had expected, the only reaction from Boyd had been an almost imperceptible smile that broke the Sergeant’s placid expression like a Mayfly touching on a tranquil pool.

“Sir, I have been listening when I’m around the detachment. There’s an interesting woman there, an especially pretty woman. She’s a clerk in the Lieutenant’s office.”

“And…” Russell said.

“She wears expensive jewelry. The other women in the unit talk about her special privileges.”

He paused. The bare smile touched his mouth again.

“She’s the one who pointed out the location of Dostrem’s compound on the map.”


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