"Hawk!," my partner, Sergeant Brandon Harvey called, "Chief wants you in his office as soon as possible."

I was hesitant to go, there was a big posting for anybody that had went to Advanced training at Fort Worthington. Needless the latest scuttlebutt was that the Committee had nailed down to the 185th Squadron. No big deal or anything, just that there were only four of us who were apart of the Advanced Cadet Training Program and were eligible for the position. I looked around at the guys and girls sitting around me. My squad mates, the second squad, Spitfire Platoon, one of the best Platoons trained in 185 to date. The squad commander, Dewalt, was 17, and leaving the squadron the following spring, and the two youngest, were two of the best fitting puzzle pieces I had seen. No doubt they were going far in the program, hell, if Brandon didn't get my squad, then I didn't know who would. I looked at the group, "It's been fun team," I sighed, and received a silent goodbye.

Eighteen transfers, and only one Canadian among them, transferring to USAF MacDill, home of the Joint Special Operations Center, and SOCOM I looked out, There were other Canadian cadets on base but I really had no idea where they were situated, I watched as a short female Sergeant climb on the bus, "Is there a Staff Sergeant MacMullin on this bus?" she yelled, that was my queue,

"Here Master Sergeant," I yelled,

"You're coming with me Staff Sergeant,"

I grabbed my ruck off the overhead shelf, and walked off the bus, the buses undercarriage was opened, grabbed my C-bag, then the large rifle case, the Latino Sergeant led me to a Humvee.

"Welcome to SOCOM Staff Sergeant," she smiled, "The number one training center for Cadets with exceptional skills.

"Where can a shooter get a place to eat around here?"

"Didn't you eat on the flight?" she asked chuckling softly, "Or did were you to busy flirting with the flight attendants to eat?"

"Already popping jokes and I don't even know your name yet"

"I'm Master Sergeant Penelope Ruiz, your Platoon first Sergeant, you'll be meeting the Platoon Commander tomorrow.."

"You were USAF JROTC?"

"So you're familiar with all the different ACUs used by the US Military?"

"Knowing who you're working with is always a solid start,"

"You're the first one to arrive for your squad," She turned left, toward the beach, I could see a group of female's hanging around a car, a few of them were smoking,

"I take it those aren't academy types,"

"On base hairdressers, you'll meet them sooner or later," she took a right, driving right alongside the beach "Our Platoon's block is right across the street from the beach, this beach isn't public,"

"How many personnel on this base,"

"Nearly three thousand," She pulled up the drive of what I assumed was the barrack building, "This is your squad by, living quarters, and bathhouse,"

"I'll say," the building was brand new, right across from the beach, had an outdoor pool in the back, and a weight room in the center. "What's the rooming situation?"

"Queen sized bed, one person to a two hundred square foot room; you've got your own TV and a couch,"

"Damn," I thought, "first day in paradise."

I carried my kit inside the block, "You've got first pick," she called, I naturally took the room with the best view, "Squads of five, the two extra rooms are for the hairstyling school on base."

"Great, living with a bunch of diva's," I smirked; they were probably a bunch of uniform bunnies. I opened the door and tossed my C-bag on the floor next to the dresser, I placed my rifle case on the bed gently. I started unpacking my gear, TAC-vest, CADPAT, Subdued urban, all hanging up in the closet, civilian clothes in the dresser, then at the bottom of my C-bag, placed there so nothing happened to it, my Service Dress Uniform, Canadian Army Greens, surprisingly enough I was the only one on the bus wearing civvies, then again, Raven wanted me travelling covert.

I hung my service uniform in the closet after closely inspecting every stitch. On top of the desk next to the north/beach facing window, were two sets of shoulder flashes, one set for service dress, and the other for BDU. I was just getting comfy when I heard the front door open, "That you sarge?" I looked out, it wasn't Sarge, "Oh, sorry, thought you were Ruiz."

"No, I'm sure she told you that there are hair dresser's staying here," this one was good looking, I could tell by the rock on her finger that she was taken,

"Well with roommates as pretty as you, that it won't matter,"

"I'm engaged," she snapped,

"With all due respect," I chuckled, "It's not going to stop me from trying," I really did care, and I wouldn't want some new guy moving in on my girl either if she was sleeping across the hall from him, but hell, I had a huge ass ego, I thought I could do anything I wanted and get away with it.

"Well just remember that he's on base too, he's a Private, or something," she obviously did not know the ranking system or insignias.

"Well, maybe you have better options,"

"How long you been here?"

"Literally ten minutes,"

"Well, it's been nice talking to you," she smirked; turned to go into her room, she definitely was not interested; I wasn't throwing in the towel yet. Usually guys play by the three strike rule, my statute of limitations had run out a long time ago.

"Could I at least get your phone number?"

"I'll give you it tonight, I'm sure you'll be at the base party," sarcasm at its finest. I was definitely not getting her number.

I knew that she was going to introduce me to her boyfriend, and quite frankly, I wanted to size this guy up a little bit; see if he was a fighter or a chicken shit. I walked back into my room. The Squad was going to be made up of five people, two snipers, a weapons specialist, a rifleman, and a political adviser and an extra shooter. Sergeant Ruiz was wearing a rifleman badge on her chest so that occupation was taken up. I went back into my room, and laid on my bed, I could hear the Sarge walking in, she called out my call sign, I stepped out to the common area.

"What's shooting Sarge?"

"This is Specialist Lowry,"

"Weapons Specialist," I asked,

"Yeah, what about you," I could tell he was welcoming into make new friends, definitely was not shy."

"Nice guy," I thought, "Vanguard,"

"Cool beans bro, hey, you want to hit up the gents club for a pint later," he guaffed, "Staff Sergeant"

"MacMullin, friends call me Mac, and yeah, we can hit up the enlisted club,"

"Well nice too meet you Mac, names Connor."

"I don't see why not," I kind of shrugged towards Sarge, "How about it Master Sergeant, drinks at the NCO club tonight?"

"Sure boys, team bonding if you want, the Team's PA is twenty minutes out, and unfortunately the original pick for the other sniper dropped out due to family reasons, the replacement won't be here till tomorrow."

"NCO Club at six then, I hear there's a party," I laughed

I showed Connor his room before I went back into mine, I picked up my IPod and just zoned out, I quickly grew bored of staring at the ceiling, I changed the song to Diamond Eyes, and grabbed my C7A2, I stripped it down, piece by piece until it was neatly spread across my desk. I looked across the room and noticed the box I had completely forgotten about the box I had packed. I smiled as I dove into it, digging out my IPod doc. I set up and cranked the Shinedown's Diamond Eyes again. I went back to my desk, and cleaned my rifle. After I made sure everything was clean as possible, I carefully put the weapon back together. Re-assembly of the C7 was quick and easy, however, I took my time putting each part in precisely.

Now came the fun part, I had pretty much emptied the 4' by 4' box I had packed, I hauled out the spray paint, and the hard case beneath it. Inside the case were rifle attachments, a departing gift from Raven. Diamond Eyes had ended, I grabbed the remote I had tossed on my bed and switched the song to "Coming Home" by Diddy. I pulled out the Holographic site from the case. I had my choice of ECLAN battle sites, Holographic sites, ACOG scopes, or a red dot reflex, I preferred to use the holographic site with a flip off magnification scope.

I noticed that the room was getting a little stuffy so I cranked the window open. I swapped the C7 standard OD hand guards for an IRS, I pulled out all my toys, adjustable handgrip and flash light on the bottom, PVNS system and the top rails. I slid two spray painted rail guards on to the sides. Then shouldered it, adjusting the custom M4-SOCOM stock to a comfortable length, I then mocked switching between targets. After I was finished checking it over, I laid the assault rifle on the bed, and pulled my sniper rifle out of the rifle case. The C-14 Timber wolf 2010, .338 Lapua Magnum. I had an adjustable three to ten power scope mounted. I checked over the ballistics tables, I was 3000 feet below the altitude I had zeroed the rifle at, I would have to spend the majority of the morning re-zeroing tomorrow. I cycled out the bolt, checking to see if the beach was clear, "AHEM!" I heard someone excessively coughed. I hit pause, it was the hairstylist student I had talked to earlier.

"Can I help you miss?" I came back with the exact sarcasm she had given me earlier,

"Do you mind turning it down,"

"I didn't even know it was that loud," I fibbed, I wasn't going to turn it down, I was in the chill zone trying to occupy myself before the rest of the team showed up,

"Well my boyfriend is over he doesn't like the music, so he asked me to tell you to turn it off,"

"I will see what I can do about that," I smirked, she left the room, slamming the door behind her, "He's not in his own barrack block, there for, I do not care," I thought, I turned my music back on, same volume level. "Oh but I feel like a soldier, all dressed to kill. I feel like a soldier, oh oh with blood to spill," I snapped the bipod down, checking to see if there was any dirt in the gaps. My favorite tool, I was the only sniper I knew who had a foregrip right behind a bipod. Giving me better stability while shooting from a standing and kneeling position. I heard my door slam back on, I had one round of simu-nition on the table, which I slipped into the breach, and shut the bolt, I turned around, I guess this guy was her boyfriend, skinny, not much to him, not the greatest looking guy either,

"I thought I asked you to turn that shit off!"

I looked at his sleeve, no rank, "Sorry, I don't take orders from Privates," I instantly knew why he was busted back to Private, when his girlfriend entered, she didn't smell like it, but he, he reeked of weed. I thumbed the pressure switch on the side of the C14, turning the side mounted red dot site on. I gripped the foregrip, "Look, I don't know how your Sergeant runs things, but this is my block, you don't make the rules."

He charged at me, with\ in half a second of him taking that first step, my rifle was up, safety off, his chest lined in the red dot. I squeezed the trigger, feeling a gentle push on my shoulder. He dropped like a brick, screeching in pain. From me to the door was literally ten feet, and a simu-nition round, a 7.62 capsule filled with marker paint rounds traveling high subsonic, and an accurate range of 300 feet, and travelled at high subsonic speeds. I knew it would hurt. The gunshot was probably heard by everyone within fifty feet of the building, Lowry and Ruiz were first to make it, "What the hell Mac?"

"He's alive; it's only simu-nition." I looked at Ruiz, "He charged at me,"

"And you so happened to have a rifle in your hand,"

"You bitch you shot me," he then his girlfriend rushed in, "Go back in the room Kirsten."

"Private, you just earned yourself a trip to the discharge board, smoking and possessing marijuana on base."

He had mustered enough strength; I went for my side arm, "Wait, sidearm?" I thought, feeling my belt line I looked over, it was lying in my rifle bag, unloaded, and disassembled in a bag. Too late, he was almost on top of me. I quickly went into defense mode, C14 still in my hand. He was five feet away, I instinctively lowered my stance, and drove the butt stock of the rifle into the exact spot I had shot him, his limbs shot forward, then he dropped on his ass. Gasping for breath, "Stay down this time," By now an MP was on scene. He restrained the Private, I looked at the girlfriend, she had a bruise on the side of her face, that wasn't there before. I looked at him, he was high out of his mind,"

"Hey Corporal, hold on a sec," I walked over to the druggie "You hit her?"

"I don't know what you're talking about,"

"I see the bruise," I socked him hard busting his nose, "Don't ever come back on my barrack again."

"Miss, have a seat on the bed, I think we need to talk,"

"Mac, you need a minute?" Ruiz asked,

"Spare me five Sarge," The group left, she sat down on my bed, "We got off on the wrong foot..."


"Kirsten," I looked at her, she was scared, "Hey now, I'm not going to hurt you, i need you to be straight with me, because I know that your friend is using,"

"I'm not on any drugs,"

"Okay, he hit you,"

"Look, I don't think that you want to know the extent,"

"Kirsten, look, we're going to be seeing each other a lot, just because I live here now, we share a common area, and your little friend there is leaving MacDill, he's not coming back," I looked into her eyes, "Talk to me,"

She went on explaining about the bad relationship and how she had just broken up with him because of she didn't want to be dragged down to his level. When the Sarge came back, she had the "Trauma Team" with her; apparently they were building a case on the good Private. I stayed with her for the duration of the questions, making sure that she was comfortable, I gave her my cell number in case she just ever needed to talk, but she also said she wanted to see me more often. Then Sarge brought in the teams Political Assistant,

"Lowry, Mac, this is Specialist Terri Peck, Political Affairs."

"Terri," she smiled,

"Mac, Team Vanguard," I smiled shaking her hand,

"Connor, I enjoy blowing stuff up, and making bad guys exist no longer" Lowry laughed, "Weapon specialist,"

Then Kirsten introduced herself. "Kirsten, hair stylist." we all laughed.

I woke up the next morning to the sound of helicopter touching down on the street, "Who the fuck ordered a whirly bird," I groaned, stuffing my pillows over my ears, I was tempted to throw the half full whiskey bottle out the window. I got up and threw the t-shirt from the night before on, Sergeant Ruiz was out in the hall, fully uniformed in her USAF ACU. "Sarge," I groaned, "tango fox?"

"The other Sniper is here,"

I looked at the helo, a Griffin Chopper from Canada, "Great," Terri laughed, "another Canadian hotshot, as if one wasn't enough," I looked at her and grunted, I recognized the stature of the guy getting off the chopper in Canadian Air Force blues. "Recognize him Mac?"

I caught a glimpse, "He should," Ruiz called, "It's his old partner,"

"I thought Raptor was taking Sergeants position on Spitfire?"

"He was third best candidate among a thousand, you were first, the one who dropped out was second, and Flight Corporal Harvey was third."

I was now excited, me and my old partner working together, some actual normality in this crazy team. When Raptor came through the doors, I was first to greet him, "You crazy SOB what the hell you doing here?"

"Same thing you are," he laughed,

"Raptor, this is Connor, Terri, Penny, and Kirsten, guys, this is Flight Corporal Brandon Harvey, the best shooter in 185."

"Well next to the Hawk over here, I'm a close second,"

"Welcome to the team Corporal, you're room is right next to Mac's."

I showed him over, "You still playing your music to loud?" he asked, "Raven said you were already getting into trouble right before I left,"

"You have no idea Brando,"

"What was it, Officer complaining so much you decided to shut him up by decking him."

"A Private bitching because he was high and didn't like my music,"

He face palmed, "simu-nition involved?"

"Very much so,"

"Raven was impressed,"

I led him inside to the common area, "Welcome to the barrack block," I paused, "It's not much," I said opening the door, "But it's home," I showed him the last available room,

"Paradise Mac,"

"I'll leave you too it,"

Ruiz had given us class lists. I had Military Etiquette first, then a free period, drill, then Team Sergeant's course as an elective. The Logistics unit had dropped by our books, I wasn't looking forward the Military Etiquette classes, I had no idea what it was, or what it meant. I guess I would soon find out. I missed classes like range, fast roping and combat 101. I guess this place was a little more formal than home squadron.