Equalizer Pt. 02: Alpha Strike

Amateur

Foreword: READ THIS FIRST!

First, let me once again thank my lovely and talented wife (Black_Dragon_Princess) for her input on this tale. I love you, sweetheart! 🙂

As the title indicates, this is the sequel to “Equalizer”, over in the Loving Wives category. You can get to it from my Author’s Page. This tale is tertiary to my “Knights & Rogues” universe, since Deck Shepard and “Mac” MacDougall from “Nice Day for a White Wedding” on here, played significant supporting roles in “A Crusade in Crimson”, and Deck played a supporting role in “A Blued Steel Wolfe”, and had a cameo in “A Galvanized Steel Ray.” All of those books are available on Amazon, but they aren’t really necessary in order to enjoy this tale.

There are some paranormal elements to this tale, as well. You’ll see what I mean. If that’s not your thing, you might just want to skip this one.

This a work of FICTION, as in NOT REAL for the “super-realists” out there. My Universe, My Rules. Seriously, don’t take it seriously! LOL

FAIR WARNING: This is a romance-adventure featuring multiple monogamous relationships between black women and white men. (BWWM)

If you take offense to any of the above, and proceed to read it and complain anyway, those complaints are now officially NMP [Not My Problem] as usual.

Also, all of my original characters, the “Knights & Rogues” universe, and all of my tales are Copyright © 2016 by Michael Erickston (me).

Ok, I had to actually scale this one back some, since the tale REALLY got away from me! I popped an actual ending onto this part and will get to the remainder of Pt. 3 when time allows. Thanks for understanding.

Anyways, I hope you all enjoy the ride! 🙂

________________________________________

Equalizer Pt. 02

Alpha Strike

Southern California, June, 2014

“Ok, why do you insist in listening to heavy metal while driving, baby?” Tabby asked me, as I smirked and bobbed my head to Armorclad’s latest CD, A Storm in Heaven, in my stereo.

“Because I know the lead singer of this band,” I replied with a grin, giving my girlfriend a glance and a wink. “Besides, the music is great, sweetheart. It keeps me awake and focused on driving.”

She just rolled her eyes, shook her head, and grinned in spite of herself. She wouldn’t admit it to anyone, but my new favorite band was growing on her.

Tabitha Williams is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever known, if not the most beautiful in the world. At least in my estimation. Imagine Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira, both rolled into one gorgeous package, and you come pretty close. It all depends on taste of course, but to me, she is just my type. Tabby’s grandparents and mother emigrated from Kenya to the US in the late ’60s, and Tabby was born in 1984 in the Bronx, New York.

Turns out, I was born in the same hospital as she was, only five years earlier. My folks died in a plane crash when I was six, so I had to go live with my Uncle John and Aunt Naomi at Ft. Irwin, where he was stationed at the time.

As I drove north on I-5, heading towards the turnoff to Route 101 to Santa Barbara, I thought back to the early years of my life with them.

*****

I guess a bit of backstory is in order, here. I kept it kind of short, when introducing myself in my previous account, so I’ll elaborate more, here.

At six years old, I didn’t remember much about my real folks, except that they loved me dearly. I did remember that my mom had mostly white hair by the time she was thirty, though. I guess I came by it honestly, since my hair, almost pitch black like hers was before it started to turn, was well on its way to becoming almost the same white shade as hers, just before the plane crash.

John Shepard is my father’s older brother, and the man I’d come to call Dad after a couple years of living with them. Aunt Naomi is one of the women I credit for my appreciation of black women in general. She’s gorgeous too.

Then there’s my cousin Cara, my de facto sister. I was my parents’ only child, and she was the same. So putting us together as sudden siblings, was like throwing a lit match into a barrel of gasoline. Oh, it wasn’t so bad for the first few years together, but then things started to change. She noticed how annoying I was, and I noticed the same about her. So the Sibling Rivalry started.

It was kind of a minor scandal with my grandparents on my father’s side, when John married a black woman in 1969. Ok, who am I kidding? It was a huge scandal back then, even though the Supreme Court had struck down the anti-miscegenation laws in ’67.

John and Naomi had dated secretly, all through High School. They knew that if their parents found out, they’d force them apart. Whites and blacks didn’t date each other back then, at least not in the neighborhood where they grew up. In fact, the laws there expressly forbade such relationships. urfa escort That didn’t matter to John and Naomi, though. They just knew that they were right for each other, and love each other dearly to this day.

You can’t help who you fall in love with. There’s a right someone out there for everyone. Yeah, with my history, I hardly believed that, myself. Lately, though, I think that they might just be right. But I’ll get to more about that, in a little while.

Shortly after they married, he got drafted and went to Vietnam for two tours. He went through Airborne and Ranger schools, and then through SFBS, and the Green Beret Q-Course. I credit him as my motivation to join the Army myself, and to aspire to become the best of the best, like him.

So yeah, I started thinking of Naomi and John as Mom and Dad, and then started calling them that. They treated me as if I was their own, anyway.

Cara and I grew up around the world, as all Army Brats do. We ran into some real bigoted assholes sometimes, especially in the South. That kind of killed our sibling rivalry, believe it or not. I’d be damned if I let some asshole hurt my sis.

First time I defended her, something happened, which I still can’t explain. It felt like the whole world kind of slowed down around me, except for me. I couldn’t fight very well, but I managed to get several good hits in before the shithead got ahold of me and proceeded to clean my clock.

Luckily, he was in almost as bad a shape as I was, after the scuffle. When he left, Cara helped me limp home, and Mom was about to go off on me when Cara stood up for me. I’d defended her, and she didn’t hate me anymore after that.

Well, that’s when Dad decided to teach me and Cara how to fight. This wasn’t any martial arts movie bullshit, either. This was down and dirty fighting, that if used in life or death situations, could kill your opponent. He made sure that we knew that, and warned us what would happen, if we ever used more force than was absolutely necessary.

Soon, nobody in school dared to mess with us, and life started getting better all around. When Dad retired, a Hollywood production company hired him as a military advisor on action movies involving Special Forces. He didn’t want us to go to school in L.A., so we moved to Santa Barbara, a couple hours north and west of Los Angeles, to go to High School.

On the first day of school, Freshman Year, I met Mac and Kat, and we quickly became best buds. Kat’s father was ex-military too, and he owns an electronics store in the mall. Mac wasn’t an Army brat, but he was cool. His father was a banker, and his mom was a secretary. Kind of boring, compared to our lives, but I didn’t mind. After moving around so much as kids, Cara and I were ready to spend some real time in one place.

Cara hung out with us too, until she got onto the Cheer Squad. Suddenly, she had a whole new circle of friends, which left her little time for her bro and his new buds. That was also ok by me, since she introduced her new cheerleader friends to me. In spite of her warnings, I dated a couple of them, too.

While I was never sexually attracted to Cara and Mom, I definitely saw what Dad saw, as far as women with darker complexions go.

Mac and I played Baseball all throughout High School, and Kat ended up joining the Cheer Squad in our Senior Year. Unlike my sis, though, she never shirked her time with us, in favor of her new teammates.

I kind of made a mistake when I asked her out once, though. Turned out, that she didn’t like dating friends, or so she said. Cara caught her looking at Mac once, though. She told me later that Kat loves Mac, but she is afraid to tell him how she feels. She then swore me to secrecy over that tidbit. Women. Go figure!

So, being pretty decent at keeping secrets, I shoved it out of my mind. I just wondered when Mac would notice, if ever.

After we graduated, I decided to enlist. Mac went with me to the recruiter, and we ended up signing up together for the Infantry. It was off to Ft. Benning for us! Dad was proud. Mom was worried. Cara hugged me and told me not to screw up.

Well, long story short, Mac and I went through Basic, AIT, Airborne, Ranger, Sniper, and finally Green Beret together. We passed SFBS and the Q-Course, and in 2001, we became full-fledged Green Berets.

Then 9/11 happened, and we got tapped for a new kind of Alpha Team. They picked us because of our scores in the Q-Course and/or our combat records. They also picked us for our chosen specialties. Captain Colton Drake was a total badass, and so was Lieutenant Nadine Olunye.

I thought I was a total badass, until she put me flat on my back, multiple times, during our first sparring match. The other guys were trying not to laugh, especially since I was the best hand-to-hand combatant on the Team. But against the Ebony Fury, I stood no chance in fuckin’ Hell!

That changed, though. She taught balıkesir escort us all how to do things, we didn’t think we could’ve done. Then that thing happened again, where the whole world around me seemed to slow down. I didn’t say anything, and neither did the Captain or the Ell Tee. I wondered if they noticed, the first time I went toe-to-toe with Cap and put him down hard. All I noticed at that time, was Captain Dunbar, standing off to the side, raise an eyebrow a bit. He didn’t say shit either, though. He had his own team, designated the Scouts, but was there to help train us too.

I really can’t talk about the details of our mission, so you’ll have to excuse me on that. All I’ll say about our time in Afghanistan and Iraq is that we kicked ass and had some fun. We even got a free trip to Israel, just before getting our Honorable Discharges.

When we ETS’d out of the Army, Mac and I were sitting at the bus stop to the airport, when a Red River Private Security recruiter approached us. That was when I made the dumbest mistake of my life. I mean, I really should’ve listened to Mac, but I saw dollar signs when the asshole told me that I’d be making serious cash. Mac told the douchebag no, but I was young and stupid.

The only good thing that happened, arguably, was that I met my ex-wife while working as a merc. I know, that sounds weird, but I liked my time with Cindy. That was one hell of a year!

When she decided to trade me in for a richer model, I really couldn’t complain, much. Hell, I didn’t love her. I liked her, a lot. What I loved, was the sex. I know. I’m a dog, right? Well, I used to be a dog, back then. No shame. It’s who I was at that time.

Anyway, shortly after our bloodless divorce finalized and we signed the papers dissolving our marriage, I got deployed to Sierra Leone. That would be my last job with Red River.

When I got fired for refusing to destroy a dam, which would cause a river to destroy a village full of civvies, I helped out a friend from the Army with a Russian problem. Then I became a bodyguard to the stars, for a little while. I still had a pretty nice haul from my work in the private security field. That allowed me to work, only when I wanted to work.

Then the celebs started contracting with bigger private security companies, and I wasn’t in such high demand anymore. Why hire me, when you can hire a whole team of semi-pros for just a bit more than what I charged? Well, one guy ended up dead, because his “Professional Security Team” missed that the guy who was asking for an autograph had a shiv under his jacket. Turns out, the guy was one of those extreme atheist nuts, who didn’t like the fact that the celebrity was a Christian. What made it worse, was that he was an outspoken Christian at that. Trust me, California is a colorful place, to say the least!

So I managed to make my funds last for over two years, before I took the job that changed my life. William is still doing pretty well, from what I’ve heard. His kids are still a handful, but they’re good kids. Not sure I want any yet, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Hell, I couldn’t even remember the time I took a real, actual vacation. Now, we had the chance to take a couple of weeks just for us. Time to catch our collective breath and think about the future. So, with all this time to think, I started really taking stock of all the weirdness in my life. No, I’m not even talking about my time with Crusader Team. That was weirdness on a whole new level. No, I mean before and since my time in the military. Yeah, something was definitely off, but damned if I knew what it was.

Anyhow, now you’re up to date. Cool? Cool.

*****

“Seriously, you know this Ethan Kang guy?” Tabby said with a laugh.

“Yep. Kang is actually his middle name. His real last name is Spencer. He uses Ethan Kang as his stage name. I wasn’t 100% sure that it was the same guy, but after the Grammys, I knew it was him,” I confirmed with a nod. “Armorclad won Best Song for ‘Divided We Fall’, remember?”

“Oh, ok! Yeah, I saw it. Kanye wasn’t too happy about that!” Tabby laughed, then reached over and squeezed my hand.

“Well, we all know that he’s at the top of the ‘One to Kanye’ douchebaggery scale,” I replied with a shrug, squeezing her hand in return. “It’s a good thing he thought better of it before he got all the way onstage, though. Ethan was trained by the same hand-to-hand combat instructor I had, back when we were in. If it came down to Ethan vs. Kanye, I’d go with my old bud, every time.”

“Where does Bieber rate on that scale?” Tabby asked, giggling.

“Next spot down from Kanye,” I replied with a sage nod. Tabby laughed musically again, which brought a smile to my face.

We talked more, having fun wondering, which dumb celeb would stick his or her foot in their mouth next, and start chewing vigorously. Then another memory popped into my mind. I don’t trabzon escort recall exactly when it started, but I found myself second-guessing some things I thought I knew for sure.

“Are you ok, baby?” Trina asked, as an old memory popped into my head. I’d been silent for a few moments, and I guess I missed what she’d said.

“Sorry, Tabby. I was thinking about something. What was it you said?” I replied, sincerely. The memory and following thought hit me like a ton of bricks. It had been ten years since I’d left the Army. It had been ten years since Sully went MIA during our last battle. It had been eight years since I’d seen any of my former teammates, since I was Best Man at Mac’s wedding to his wife, Maggie. Colt and Nadine were there, but Ethan didn’t show up. That had been two years after I’d joined Red River, and about six months before I met my ex-wife. Nobody said anything judgmental to me, but after what Mom and Dad said to me about my chosen profession after the Army, I wasn’t feeling too good about it.

Friends lose touch, of course. I never thought it would happen to us, but I wasn’t in a good place after what had happened.

Over the last year, though, I’d been able to repair the rift with my family, at least somewhat. I think the clincher, was when I told Mom that I was in a serious relationship, now. That was when Dad finally started to forgive me too, I think.

Wisdom doesn’t come with age and experience. It comes from knowing that you fucked up, and making changes to repair what damage your previous experience did. It comes from realizing how wrong you were.

Tabby had also been a big help, with bridging the gap between me and my family. She knew what to say, when to say it, and how to say it, in order to get me to listen. Well, she is a lawyer, after all. She knows how to argue points. When we met, I was already trying to mend fences, but she helped me see how to do it. She’s the wise one in our relationship. I’m just the muscle.

Although, I have to say that she’s become quite a hellcat herself, since I started teaching her self-defense. After what happened with ol’ Gordy Boy, it was better that she know how to defend herself, those times I couldn’t be around. In case something like that happened again, she’d be prepared for it.

“Talk to me, Deck,” she said, not repeating her question from earlier. Instead, she was worried about me.

“I will, Tabby,” I promised softly. “I just can’t, right now. Ok?” I gave her a smile and kept my voice even. “Don’t worry. I promise, I’ll tell you when I can.”

“Ok, baby. I understand,” she replied and smiled beautifully at me. She had a worried look in her eyes, though. I knew she was worried about me, but I knew better than to lie to her.

“Ok, so what was your question, again?” I asked in a lighter tone. “I promise, I’m listening, this time!”

“Well, since you’re listening now, I was asking if your Aunt and Uncle know about your ex-wife,” she said.

“They do, yeah,” I replied. “Mom was really pissed off when I told her. But since they wanted nothing to do with me at that time, I didn’t see the point in calling to let them know I was married.”

“Ouch, yeah. They shouldn’t judge you for that!” she declared. “Don’t worry, baby. At least they know about me… right?”

“Yes, sweetheart. They know about you,” I said, and couldn’t help laughing a little. I knew she was just messing with me, since I’d talked to Mom and Dad on the phone, right in front of her. With the speaker on, no less!

“Good. I want to meet your Aunt and Uncle. They did a good job of raising you, because you are a good man, Deck Shepard!” Tabby declared emphatically.

“You’ve helped a lot with that, Tabby Williams,” I replied with a grin.

“Shut up and take credit where credit is due! Sure, William paid you, but you probably would’ve helped him out for a lot less,” she said, and I had to admit she was right. Yeah, I don’t like seeing the underdogs get run over.

“Ok, you got me, there,” I said with a sigh of resignation. Luckily, I was able to change the subject. “And here’s the exit to the 101. Only about another forty minutes or so, and we’ll be there.”

I pulled off on the exit ramp and made a left at the intersection, heading west on the 101 towards where I’d spent four years as a teenager. I’d been through there to and from Ventura, almost six months back, the night that Tabby and Shelly had been attacked.

The last leg of our drive didn’t take long at all, since I knew all the speed traps that the Oxnard PD and the Chippers had set up along the 101. That’s something you never forget, and I made sure my ’79 Z-28 slowed down enough to breeze through them without alerting the radar guns used by the cops.

I slowed down, once we got to the SB city limits, and found my old house as if on autopilot. Some things just never change. It’s comforting, in a way. I let out a sigh as we pulled onto the street and went northwest for half a block. I grinned when I saw Dad’s old ’74 ‘Cuda in the driveway. Mom must have parked her Jeep Grand Cherokee in the garage, to give me a place in the driveway.

That’s right! The drive from our place in Anaheim to Santa Barbara usually takes most people almost two and a half hours. It took us just under two.

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