Preview: This is an excerpt of Chapter I from Story II of Special Defense Unit Volume I: Unite! *Available on Amazon Paperback and Kindle now!*

Story II: Master Sergeant

Chapter I: The Blistering Heat of War

July 1967, the Vietnam War is going full force, America is in turmoil, and our troops are unsure about this cause and their government; men, women, and children dying in droves over a war to stop communism. None had more clear minds than that of Lieutenant William "Willie" Hank, Gunnery Sergeant Richard "Hangman" Gallows and Master Sergeant Wayne Vaster, they sat in a large tent and were playing a game of Strategy on a small table.

"You hear the rumors, Willie? Is it true that the Russians are here?" Gallows asked.

"Doubt it, Gallows. The Russians wouldn't even bother comin' to this shithole."

"There's always more than what we're seeing on the surface." Wayne interjected.

"Oh, brother." Willie sighed in exasperation.

"What?"

"You're such a conspiracy theorist, Wayne. Next thing, you'll be living out in a trailer an' tellin' me that President Kennedy was killed by our own!"

"I think he was."

Willie slams his fist on the table and sternly says, "You'd better watch what you say, Master Sergeant, you don't wanna be seen as a commie sympathizer, do you? You're going to end up living the worst days of your life."

"No, I don't want to be seen a sympathizer, but I don't want to blindly follow either. Knowledge is power, Lieutenant." Wayne condescended.

William was about to throw a punch at Wayne before Richard stopped it before it happened, "Guys, guys. Quit it. Wayne, stop being a sympathizer and Willie, stop being a dick."

The First Sergeant opened the tent flaps and called out to the men, "Lieutenant, the Captain is moving Bravo Company immediately. Master Sergeant and Hangman, Echo is waiting for you guys."

The three got up and got their gear and William put his hand on Wayne's shoulder, whispering, "You'd best watch your ass, Master Sergeant. If you're not careful… and everything gets out…we all burn." William placed a 10 card on the pile and left the tent. Wayne looked at that card and had a quick thought that maybe the spillage of all secrets wasn't the best thing but considered all the important things people should know. He quickly dismissed the idea that whistleblowing could be bad and left the tent to form up with Gallows.

"Form up, Echo!" Wayne called to his small five-person squad comprised of the Master Sergeant himself, Gunnery Sergeant Gallows, Sergeant Hallow, Corporal Nicks and Private First Class Munser. These five were a very tight group, usually used in the final portion of combat, providing the "finishing touch" in firefights, thus they are called "Echo" by most of the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. They've been engaged in constant battle for almost 40 months straight and had lost well over 600 men, they were on their last leg.

"Sarge, I have a really bad feeling about this one… we have a little over 150 people left… is this wise?" Munser inquired.

Wayne looked back at Munser, "No. It's not wise at all, but it's either this or be called deserters. I'd rather just fight to the death."

"You know they call us 'The Walking Dead' now, right?" Nicks whispered.

"Yeah, I do. But it'll take a lot to get me to turn my back on you guys."

"Hell yeah, go Wayne." Gallows chimed.

"Pssh, Hangman, we all know our Lieutenant thinks he's the greatest. I bet you he's a sympathizer more than I…" Wayne was cut off by the sound of incoming artillery,

"Get Down!" Gallows shrieked as the shell screamed through the jungles, snapping the trees in half like one would snap pencils; nothing was stopping this shell from going right where it needed to go. The shell landed with an ear-splitting explosion as dirt flew over The Doomed as if God himself was burying them already, solidifying their place in history as dead men. Wayne was launched into the air, Munser's face tore from his skull as Gallows and Nicks tended to the Master Sergeant, getting him up on his feet as shells continued to bombard the Marines. Body parts, entrails, and people flew through the air as the Viet Kong sprung from the brush unloading light machine guns on wounded and dazed soldiers.

Wayne surveyed his surroundings, "W-Where's the Lieutenant and where's Hallow?"

Gallows looked quickly as the remaining Echo company took cover behind a log. "I-I don't know, Wayne." Richard informed.

"Hangman, we've got company!" Nicks warned, raising his rifle. Nicks began to fire into the thick brush and managed to get some kills until Viet Kong bullets tore through the insufficient cover, the rotted log bursting into pieces as Nicks was killed in front of his superiors.

Gallows lifted his Stoner 63 light machine gun, yelling, "Die you fuckers!" and started to unload. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… the number of kills grew and grew the more and more he squeezed the trigger and screamed obscenities and slurs. Wayne lifted his M16 and started shooting with Gallows. Wayne's small clip went dry and he went to pick up Nicks's gun until he saw a live grenade land with a *thud* in front of him, "Master Sergeant, look out!" Gallows grabbed the live grenade and tried throwing it back, but was too late. The grenade exploded a split second after it left Gallows' hand, blowing his arm in half!

"No, dammit, no!" Wayne screamed. He looked to the heavens, hoping that God would give him something, anything. But what was God's gift to Wayne? A bullet to the gut, without him even noticing, a bullet had gone through him, rupturing a kidney. When he noticed, he sat against a tree and looked to the sky, waiting for something to take him, until he heard twigs snapping and leaves brushing. Wayne pulled out his .45 Colt 1911A1 and pointed it at whoever walked from the brush...