Dirty Guns, Part II by Charles James

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SUMMARY: In the aftermath of an air strike, a platoon of RFS Integrated Armed Forces rangers stuggles to survive an even closer encounter with the enemy.

Fleeman, Two Squad's medic, dropped back as Sergeant Randal and the rest joined the main body of the platoon. One Squad was hit hard. Three men, plus the K203. Half the squad had been within a dozen meters of the vehicle, including Sergeant Yim who survived, but was walking wounded. They had to carry two others and stuff them in the back of the remaining transport. After the hit, Fleeman's job was to check over the rest of Two Squad for injuries. King and Grier were last on the list.

"We're fine, Flee," King said, as the medic jogged back towards them. Fleeman didn't have a lot of friends in the platoon, he was more like a professional associate. Unlike the others, his assault rifle was slung over his shoulder. There was a big square pouch on his belly with a red cross that only showed up though a polarized lens. Inside that pouch he had just about whatever medical technology a wounded soldier could need. Unfortunately there wasn't anything in there for a couple of guys crushed to death under a few dozen tonnes of rubble.

"Yeah, so you say." He came to a crouch beside the pair in their position and slapped a wrist cuff on Grier. "Hell of a shot on that Whistler, James." Fleeman was in the habit of using first names, even with the platoon sergeants. Other guys used first names, but only when they were pretty good buddies as opposed to just working together. Fleeman always sounded like some kind of insurance salesman.

"I'm okay," Grier said, as Fleeman read the cuff's display. "A little shaken up."

"You're blood pressure's way up. Pulse is fast." Fleeman looked around him, at his torso and legs. "Sometimes you can be in shock and not notice that you're wounded," Fleeman said. "It happens." Then he leaned back and pulled the cuff off. "You look okay."

King wanted to push Fleeman off of him when he slapped that tight cuff on his wrist. The device constricted, cutting off the blood to his right hand and instantly told the medic everything from his vital signs to his sperm count. Fleeman looked at it for a minute, and then down at King's leg.

"Jiminy!" the medic said, keeping his voice down. He reached into his little pouch and before King looked down, Fleeman cut open half his pantleg.

"What the hell..."

His right leg. King managed to shoot down the Whistler and then run nearly two blocks to catch up with the rest of the platoon with a leg that had an eight inch gash in it. Grier had been in front of him the whole time. He hadn't even noticed. The side of his leg was soaked in blood. His boot was caked in it. He remembered some shrapnel flying by after the missile impact, but he didn't remember being hit.

Fleeman worked quickly. "Clench your teeth," he said. He sprayed the wound with an army cocktail that flushed out the wound. The spray contained a thick concentration of dead-flesh-eating bacteria as well as predatory bacteria that went after all the microscopic nasties that had likely already infected the wound. It felt like the medic had just grabbed a hold of the biggest pain nerve he could find and shocked it with a taser.

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