Iron Menace - Chronology

This document is reserved for security personnel and staff with Level III+ clearance.

From: Security Administrator, Lieutenant Colonel Richard J. Merrus, Authority Security Force

To: Corporal Matthew T. Foster, Authority Security Force

Subject: Individual Augmentee application.

1. Delivered, effective 03/04/2018, your application for the Individual Augmentee (IA) program has been accepted. You are now designated as an active candidate for IA screening. Please read the following below to determine your check-in, orientation, and departure times.

2. You are to report to Site-116's processing center on 03/06/2018 in building 314 at 1500. You will requisition all required equipment (with the exception of your BDUs) upon arrival. You are to then wait within the intake area until the stationed NCO will call your name, rank, and IB billet.

3. You will undergo a routine medical inspection, consisting of hearing, vision, and physical examinations. Your vaccinations will additionally be updated in accordance with the Authority's health policy and standards.

4. The CO of your assigned MST unit, Major Jacob A. Morrison of MST Zulu-45 ("Backwater Filter"), will preside over the orientation and discuss what will be expected of you in the coming screening and indoctrination phase of your training.

Richard J. Merrus, Lieutenant Colonel

Research, Protection, Containment

"Get up fucker, double time, move, move, you shit fucking dick-weasels make me fucking sick!"


"Move faster fat-ass, you're holding the fucking squad up. You know what, good. You are now a casualty. The rest of you get to carry tons-of-fun's fat ass for the rest of the exercise."

"You're dropping fucking gear. Do you think this this a motherfucking garage sale? PICK IT THE FUCK UP. PICK. IT. UP."

It's been like this for a good week. The training instructor is a perpetually pissed off First Sergeant named Donovan. This ain't my first rodeo, I served in the Marine infantry and went through ASF basic. I am no stranger to training and screening programs. Just like any other First Sergeant I've ever met, Donovan seemed to have been issued a map of each and every single candidate's weaknesses and insecurities. From the moment that he assumed command over us he had been gleefully exploiting them with the well honed and practiced sadism that I had come to expect from such an individual.

It reminded me somewhat of a boot camp crossed with infantry school back in the Corps. In the first two weeks he had done three forced ruck-marches, endless PT, and countless iterations of seemingly pointless hazing. We came in with about forty recruits at the beginning and now we're down to eighteen.

About half of the guys are like me, former military or experienced ASF looking to kick it up a notch, but the other half are pitifully unprepared coming fresh out of ASF recruit training. Most of them are looking to show off or get attention; some only want the pay raise. This course grinds up and spits out both types in equal measure.

One guy that I remember was this short, stocky, loud-mouthed uber-macho sort. Fucker kept going on and on about how he felt bad for everyone else and couldn't wait to see them quit, of course he was the first to go down. Some guy who went to ASF basic with him told me he had been a college frat douche-bro and had only completed his ASF induction a few months prior.

I think about halfway through the day, we were about 10 miles into another ruck march, and I see these big red stains gathering in the back of his heels. He started hobbling and sobbing like a child, then threw his pack off and collapsed. He had been wearing the same socks for three days and had concealed the festering blisters on the back of his heels. They ended up sending him to sick bay for a week and sacking him back into ASF security rotation.

Another was during rifle range qualification. After First Sergeant Donovan laid out a 'ceasefire' order we all stopped shooting, but this one candidate stood up and turned around flagging half the line with his loaded weapon. First Sergeant Donovan's face became apocalyptically pissed.


He ripped a helmet off of a nearby candidates head and began to beat the poor fuck upside his own helmeted head with it.


The idiot dropped his rifle and ended up on the ground. We endured a 15 minute torrent of profanity. He took the fallen rifle, unloaded it, and threw it in the dirt at the candidates feet, then informed us we were all going to pay for this mistake together. We spent the next three hours holding full ammo cans above our heads and being forced to run a lap of the range if we let them fall lower than was satisfactory to his taste. The guy ended up being sent to the sick-bay where they diagnosed him with a severe concussion and dropped him from the course.

I don't think we've even met Major Morrison yet. So far it's just been Donovan and a couple of officers and staff NCO's that've been watching us. They just follow around behind him silently. Every now and then they lean in to quietly murmur in his ear. Maybe to make sure our fuck-ups didn't slide completely past him. That's a guess, though, because they've never talked to us. They just stare and take notes, or murmur in our First Sergeant's ear from time to time, after a while we even forget they exist. Donovan manufactures enough catastrophes for us to have other things to worry about.

One night, though, they came to our barracks while everyone was asleep. A hand gripped my shoulder like iron, and another clamped over my mouth. I heard a voice hiss in my ear through clenched teeth.

"Not a fucking word. Come with me. Now."

They got about a dozen of us out of our bunks and with harshly whispered orders and hand gestures led us down to the officer's mess. We hadn't ever been in there before and we all glanced around groggily. When we got there, each took one of us aside to a table.

One of them sat in front of me and pulled out a bottle of vodka and a row of shot glasses. He was a middle aged man, but with none of the fluffy softness and flabby kindness of the rest his baby-boomer generation. He was all tan skin, sinew, and dry muscle. He filled a shot glass, and stared directly into my eyes with icy blank faced indifference.


I drank, he filled it again.


It stung my throat like paint thinner. My eyes watered and my spinning head made me feel sick to my stomach. This repeated until a little over half the bottle was empty. He pulled a carbine out of a duffel bag and took it apart. He jabbed his calloused finger at it and began demanding answers on weapon's terminology. I began slurring my answers to his rapid fire questions.

"What's this?"

"Ehh… an ass, err, butt plate?"

"What's this?"

"Operating rod… No.. wait, that's not right, that's a charging handle."

"And this?"

"… firing pin retention pan…. Pin, pin. Retaining pin! I think at least. I'm fuckin' drunk, asshole."

"What's the function of the gas tube?"

"… The fuckin' gas from the shot goes in it, to like, cycle the bolt or some shit… Is there a fuckin' point to this? I don't think this is part of training."

He sat back satisfied.

"Good, now that I know you're really and truly fucked up. Why are you here?"

"I thought I was signing up for a vacation to Disney world. Go fuck yourself."

He grinned, then back handed me across the face with his gnarled hand.

"No fuck you. Why did you sign on for IA? You fought with the Marines in Afghanistan and Iraq, you could have made Sergeant if you stayed, but you left. You signed on with ASF, which was obviously a breeze for you. Your service records for us show you are billeted as a Sergeant of the Guard despite only being a Corporal. You obviously don't have anything to prove to anyone like some of the preening cunts who sign on. So why are you here."

I blinked stupidly. I was too drunk for the slap to sting, my face had become totally numb about halfway into the bottle of Stolichnaya. It was quiet for a long moment. Maybe it was the 80 horsepower grain alcohol in my bloodstream, or maybe it was the dead serious glare on his face, but I decided to go with honesty.

"Because I got tired of shooting rag heads so billionaires could make money they don't need anymore. I'm tired of standing in front of doors with high speed, low drag wannabes who can't think past their next shitty paycheck. We all hear and see things, you guys got some weird shit going on, and it fucking terrifies me. I need to fight whatever it is you are keeping locked up. I need to do something that matters with my goddamned life."

The man poured a drink and kicked it back neatly.

"I see. Well. You aren't done yet, son. Get the fuck back to your barracks."

"Before I go, who the hell are you?"

He poured himself another drink, picked it up, paused, and smirked at me.

"I'm Major Morrison."

I somehow actually did manage to stagger back to the barracks. The only problem was, I didn't actually end up in my own bed. I woke up to an absolutely livid Donovan towering over me.

"FOSTER! Why are you in Jackson's rack? You get lonely after he got cut and go looking for your lost boyfriend?"

I had no idea who Jackson was or that he had been cut, he must've failed whatever hazing ritual he'd been given the night prior.

"Sir, no sir!"


"Sir, no sir!"

"Are you missing chromosomes you inbred fuck face?!"

"Sir, no sir!"

"Bullshit! Get on the fucking ground, even an inbred moron can feel pain!."

"Sir, yes sir!"

I began performing push ups.

"Pain retains! Faster, faster motherfucker!"

That entire day I was sick. I wasn't just hung over, I was still fucking drunk. There was no way Donovan could've missed it. I was wobbling around like a fucking wet leaf trying to focus, I threw up a vile yellow fluid what tasted like gasoline and smelled like a goddamned distillery. He glared at me, but I swear to god I saw a twinkle of some alien emotion in his eyes. Pride? There was no way he could have not known that I was totally fucked up. By program guidelines he could have dropped me then and there and put me up on charges to boot, but he let it slide.

It's been three months now, and we're down to only seven guys. The squad bay that had once been so full is now cavernous and echoes emptily. I recognized all of the remaining candidates from the bizarre hazing ritual where I had drunkenly told Major Morrison to fuck himself. In the weeks following, three collapsed during ruck marches from fatigue and couldn't get back up, six opted out voluntarily, and the rest were either injuries or mental breakdowns.

In one instance, we were standing in some stinking swamp, freezing our asses off holding our rifles above our heads while Donovan glared at us, daring somebody to be the first to drop his rifle. Ramirez was next to me, he threw his rifle into the mucky water and began belting out a rendition of "I wanna be an airborne ranger" and goose stepping back and forth on the shore. They took him away in a space blanket still muttering lines of the old army marching cadence to himself.

As there were fewer and fewer of us, the sense that we might be nearing the end of training grew. One day, Donovan woke us up at four in the morning. We stood in our now heavily depleted row in front of him and he began to speak. It was the first time since we had arrived that anything other than a snarl or a bellow came out of his mouth.

"Guess what gents? You made it. That's it. We sorted the wheat from the chaff and you made the cut. It has been determined that you have what it takes. You are no longer candidates but active duty IA. You will be granted the respect and honor deserving of that position, and will conduct yourselves in a manner deserving of that honor. Am I clear?"

"Sir, yes, sir!"

He threw a salute, which we returned.

"Now sleep as long as you like, get some hot chow, then report to the admin clerk over in the POG shop for your new orders before close of business at 1730. I'm done with you. Dismissed!"

Par for the course, my first posting with the IA was in a shit-hole. I mean a literal shithole. We were stuck in northern Nigeria, for fuck's sake. To our west we've got backwater dumps and rowdy locals, and to our east we've got the Boko Haram insurgency. We were operating out of a small forward operating base, all hesco barriers, gun posts, and concertina wire. A small detachment of ASF manned the sentry positions while us IA guys were the place's operational force.

It wasn't even an important enough position or mission for the Authority to send any of the actual MST guys out. The mission was to investigate some attack sites in the region to determine if the carnage was caused by local shit-head militias, run of the mill terror cells, or if "RPC-666" were to blame. In the event that our searches found conclusive proof that 666 had been responsible we were to gather any shell or rocket fragments and return them back to the Authority's science-dweebs for study. I think they wanted to know how it manages to refresh its ammunition, but as ever, us grunt types got treated like mushrooms. Kept in the dark and fed on bullshit, so that's just a guess really.

All of my graduate buddies from IA were gone. We got split up following graduation and I got assigned to one of Zulu-45's squads that was en route to this lovely place. The group I arrived with consisted of a couple of MST officers in command, one Lieutenant, one Staff Sergeant, two Sergeants, four Corporals (including myself), and the remaining fifteen were just non-rate junior enlisted. All of the non-rates were IA guys fresh from screening. Thanks to the USA's addiction to unending war at-least all of the IA NCO's had seen action somewhere in one branch of the service or another, and a few of the non-rates had as well.

When we arrived we spent the first several hours offloading a bunch of supplies that command had transported alongside us. They were mostly just a bunch of AT-4 and LAW rockets, crates of stinger missiles, .50 caliber machine guns, an anti tank guided missile system, and a shitload of small arms ammunition.

The Authority may be run a lot more efficiently than most military units, but our LT was still a dickhead like the majority of LTs that I had ever met had been. He was equal parts egotistical, entitled, and demanding whilst still somehow being more or less totally inexperienced and incompetent. He was busy heckling us back and forth between the cargo staging area and the main camp while he was sitting pretty on a goddamn chair idly watching us. He pointed at a pair of IA non-rates moving one of the last large boxes which contained the target acquisition subsystem for the anti tank setup.

"Hey, you! Yeah, the guy with the cigarette! Why ain't you helping them move that?"

It only had two handles, so only two guys were needed for it, but of course Hollingsworth couldn't resist an opportunity to flex his command muscles in front of the unit. Except that idiot's voice cracked every time he issued a command, so we passed some laughs among the crew whenever it happened.

"On it, sir."

I wanted to put my cigarette out on his stupid "college-boy-my-daddy-had-enough-money-for-Westpoint" face. Conferring with my fellow NCO's and the non-rates beneath me it seemed the feeling was mutual. It took all of about three minutes for the secret nickname of "Hollings-worthless" to stick. Just like back in the Marine Corps, the enlisted usually dub their immediate officer with a derogatory nickname that will only ever be used when he isn't around. Some things change, but grunts are grunts no matter where they are.

We got our armored vehicles issued to us and spent the rest of the day outfitting them with our kit. We mounted the Browning M2 .50's and the Saber ATGM system to the four vehicles and began distributing the ammunition between them.

"Oh, HELL yeah!"

One of the non-rates, a Private First Class named Gardener poked his head out of the gun turret to look into the ammo box I had just opened.

"What's that?"

"SLAP rounds, sabot loaded armor penetrators. They're basically a .30 caliber tungsten bullet with a polymer sabot." I told him.

"Are those badass?"

"Fuck yeah. These were originally developed for use in air defense setups before guided missiles took over. They have a crazy high velocity, and will penetrate just about anything short of a main battle tank."

"Sounds fuckin' sick dude, you think these are for if six-sixty-six shows up?"

"That's Corporal, Private, not dude, but yeah. Probably. Or just in case Boko Haram decides to get in our way while we're poking around this shithole. They're basically good for anything short of a main battle tank, and that's what the SABER system on vehicle 2 is for."

We ate some MRE's that evening and turned into our cots. The next day was some pre-mission training and rehearsal. We divided up into our fire teams and practiced some convoy maneuvers and patrolling. Just to work all the kinks out and go through our standard procedures and get more comfortable with each-other. None of us had really worked together before so it was critical to make sure everyone was on the same page. after that We spent a few days all practicing how to use the Stinger missile systems that had been sent with us in a hastily constructed training simulator set up inside a wall tent. Images of aircraft were projected onto a screen and we all took turns practicing getting a lock with the dummy-trainer. If 666 showed up it would be facing a lot more that terrified villagers this time around.

We also had to practice some joint operations with some Chinese guys. They were from some group that called themselves the PCAAO, 'Sand Serpents' or whatever. They seemed alright, but the language barrier was definitely a problem. But, grunts are grunts, and in spite of this we were quickly exchanging packs of cigarettes and various items from each-other's rations.

Then there was Private First Class Rocco. He had previously been quiet while the rest of the squad was busy fraternizing with one another. He worked hard, kept his mouth shut, and didn't cause problems. That all changed the second we met the PCAAO. First thing he did at camp was manufacture conflict with a trio of PCAAO men over some petty probably made up bullshit.

"Give me that fucking deck back you goddamn, motherfucking, slant-eyed pinkos. I'LL KILL YOU."

Their eyes narrowed, one of them spit at him and said something in Chinese.

"Yeah yeah, ching chong get fucked you slit eyed gook motherfuckers. I KNOW you shifty fuckin' chinks stole it."

The leader of the trio talked back in broken English: "We.. no steal anything.. you fuck liar, shut mouth, go away."

Rocco began to storm towards the three, who held their ground. It was time for my NCO powers to activate.


He halted and turned towards me, "Yes Corporal."

"What the fuck's your goddamned problem with our partners here."

"Well Corporal, they stole my lucky card deck and-"


At this outburst Rocco turned and lunged at the Chinaman, who simply proceeded to kick him in his bread basket. Rocco dropped to his knees and the Chinaman began to advance. I waved him off, and he glared hatefully but stopped short. Rocco got back up to his feet panting and trying to continue swearing. I punched him in the gut again.

"You will NOT continue on this course of action. If you got your ass kicked by a five foot nothing chink maybe you belong back in the ASF."

"But Corporal, my lucky card deck-"

"Fuck your dumb-ass cards, what, are you trying to reenact your favorite Vietnam movie like a fucking twelve year old?"

"No, sir."

"Well, since you wanna act like a disgusting non-rate, maybe you need to be reminded of what being a non-rate is like. You will report to Staff Sergeant Viveras and inform him that I volunteered you for an all night rotation on watch with the ASF."

"Yes, sir!"

He cast a final hateful glare at the three Chinese soldiers and trotted back towards our side of camp. I looked at the three and raised an eyebrow. The leader didn't stop glaring, but gave me a shallow nod before they left. I was not entirely comfortable about conducting covert operations alongside the Chinese, I didn't fully trust the commie bastards either, but we really couldn't have fights breaking out among the lower enlisted of our two forces either. I returned to our operations area for our briefing.

Like any briefing, it was all tedium and minutia that while dull, was also critical to know. In the movies, these kinds briefings are always super dramatic with everyone clustered around a big flashy terrain map moving pieces around with riding crops, or staring at some nonsensical holographic display.

In real life, a mission briefing could turn even D-Day into a snorefest. The basic gist of it was that we ended up being briefed a bit more on 666's capabilities and proclivities. It may have been attacking villages in the area, or it may have not, the PCAAO would push to one such village about 15 kilometers to the west and determine if the carnage was up to Boko Haram or not, we would push about 12 kilometers to the east and perform the same duties at another village there.

666 had never attacked the same place twice, this was basically a milk run. We go, poke a few corpses with sticks, if they are the right kind of dead we cordon off the area and pick up the pieces. If they were the wrong kind of dead we go back to the FOB and try again elsewhere. Nonetheless, each team would take along a Stinger missile system just in case. It seemed unnecessary, 666 didn't seem to like to hunt in places it had already killed in, frankly, the political instability in the region was probably more dangerous than any chances of 666 showing up.

The search wasn't going anywhere, save for a few spent casings and torched villages, we ultimately ended up chasing a ghost for a good while.

We had a couple of insurgents from Boko Haram poking around the outer perimeter in the early morning. Rocco radioed in the intrusion during a security rotation and we moved to intercept. We had seven of us positioned against the easternmost fencing and relocated one of our .50 caliber machine guns to face its direction. Staff Sergeant Viveras was mounting an anti-tank guided missile to shower the sand monkeys with shrapnel, just in case our bullets weren't enough to disperse or kill them.

There were five of them out and about. We were waiting until they were all in range. The militants all came in on foot, so running was their best option. Viveras ordered us to hold our fire for just a few more seconds.

"Hold it, friends…"




We immediately opened fire and unleashed a volley of machine gun fire. The group of five disappeared in a giant cloud of sand and smoke as we kept pounding them for several seconds. I turned to see Viveras laughing and firing a rocket from the ATGM toward them. The rocket detonated nearby and flung fragments all over their position.

"Cease fire, my friends!"

We stopped shooting and waited a few minutes for the smoke to clear until we could get a good visual. Viveras patiently observed the position with a pair of binoculars until he could only see a few meaty chunks sticking out and staining the sand.

"Well, it appears our lovely Sub-Saharan guests are no more. Our company has proven too ill for their tastes. As you all were!"

Dude was neurotic as buzzards on a rotting corpse. We're not exactly sure if Viveras was all there in that head of his, but we could care less on account for his ability to be a competent leader, unlike "Hollings-worthless." He always wants to be in the heat of the action, no matter how minor or how insignificant it is. Problem is, the guy's restless. He kept pestering me yesterday about going on another patrol when we just did three different rotations out and about on the base. I had carefully word my rejection so that he wouldn't get pissed off and subject me to some wacko punishment, like balancing an egg on my head in the middle of the desert singing 'I'm a little teapot.'

We were stripping off our gear in a makeshift barrack after the shootout, and I couldn't help but notice Gardener's face among the melancholic crew (save for Viveras). Dude was exchanging enthusiastic high-fives with Viveras before Viveras drew his arm around his head like a uncle who hasn't seen his nephew in months.

"You did good, little buddy! Hahaaa! You're a made killing machine!" Viveras yelled.

"They never stood a chance, yeah?" Gardener said, smile followed.

"Heh, you're gonna be a hero, kid! All of those cute researcher chicks are gonna be all over you!" Viveras then gave him a strong pat on the back before he left.

Gardener loomed around for a bit, taking in the congratulations before he slowly approached me and asked a question.

"Hey, Corporal. Can I talk to you?" He asked.

"Yeah?" I told him.

"These past few days have been something completely new, it's a bit hard to take in."

"You're green, bud. A few more weeks in the shitter and your tune'll change." I dismissed him.

"It might, but listen, err, Corporal, I'm just thinking there's more excitement in store here for me."

"You kidding?" I scoffed. "My first few days in training, I was contemplating about wanting to go home all the time." I continued. "You don't know how much home means to you until you're forced away from it."

"Okay, I mean, I'll admit I did miss my old folks when I got shipped into training for ASF, but that isn't what I wanted to talk about." He confessed.

"What is it, then?" I asked him.

"We're out here hunting a homicidal ghost helicopter that's been responsible for blowing away several hundred villages in the middle of fucking Africa! Doesn't that sound fucking rad?! Best of all we're paid to do this shit! It's like a dream job!" He grinned.

"It's fun until we come face-to-face with it." I retained a stone expression.

"Yeah, but they gave us all of those cool fucking weapons to take it down. Think about it, Corporal, if we manage to take this thing down, we're gonna get even more money and a bunch of promotions. Every chick in our site is gonna wanna hit us up!"

"Can't wait." I told him, exhausted.

"But I mean, yeah, I know where you're coming from with that reasoning. But I've been having the time of my life with you guys, and I think we're one of the bests squads ever made."

I smiled back at him. "I'm glad you see it that way, Private."

"Just wanted to say m-"

"Shut the fuck up." Rocco groaned, halfway across the barracks. "Jesus Christ, is your sperg ass going to talk my ear off the entire fucking day."

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