Code Name: Wild Hunt – Flash Fiction
For those of you who have already ready my newest release, Code Name: Wild Hunt – Odin’s Call, I wanted to do sort of a bridging story that would set up for the second in the series. Yes, Code Name: Wild Hunt is going to be an on-going series. At this time, I have no future plans to end the series, so I’m going to see where it goes before I decide. Hopefully, it will run for a long time.
To that end, I present to you an original short story set in the world of Code Name: Wild Hunt. I happily present to you this story which I call “Fresh Meat.” I will be publishing periodic short stories that go along with all of my series. Please let me know what you think in the comments or on social media. I want to know what you think and if you want me to continue. These short stories will be posted on this blog for FREE.
I wanted to give you all something to show you how much I appreciate you taking this journey with me and for reading my books. Thank you all and enjoy. So, without further ado, I present to you Code Name: Wild Hunt – Fresh Meat. I look forward to hearing what you all think.
Code Name: Wild Hunt
0900 Hours PDT
Joint Base Lewis-McChord
Major Saunders and Command Sergeant Major Hammond stood on the raised platform near the training field and obstacle course used by the training cadre of the Wild Hunt. There were two hundred men and women here today, all volunteers from different branches of the military. A heavy mist hung in the cool morning air, making visibility limited but the sounds carried strangely in the fog.
All were Special Forces qualified in their respective branches. Of that two hundred, eighty would be selected for Phase Two. That meant one hundred and twenty would be sent back to their own units with no further explanation of what the Wild Hunt actually was. Many of them would try again, when the next open call for the teams was put out quietly among the SpecWar groups. For some, this was not their first time trying out for the team.
Part of the group was currently running the obstacle course that the cadre referred to as Murder Mile. While they ran the course, members of the training cadre wrote down times and took notes on performance, attitude, motivation and teamwork. Each aspect was carefully considered before a final score was rendered.
The rest of the volunteers were engaging in force-on-force exercises that ran the gamut from kill-house exercises to patrol/ambush scenarios in the thick woods behind the obstacle course.
Somewhere among the perspective recruits, Captain Clark, Lieutenant Elliott, Master Sergeant Gideon, Staff Sergeant Margolin and Tech Sergeant Miranda Masterson were dressed as training cadre, listening and observing the recruits, first hand. Adding their own observations to the scores that were being recorded by the training cadre.
“See anyone you think might have potential?” asked Saunders, glancing over at CSM Hammond.
“Goddamn it, Levi,” said CSM Hammond, “every one of these kids are the best of the best of every branch of Special Forces. If they didn’t have potential, they wouldn’t fucking be here.”
Saunders started laughing.
“I know, Dave,” said Saunders, still grinning. “They’re all damned good. Do you see anyone that you like?”
“From here,” said CSM Hammond, “they all look like they’re doing fine. We’ll know more when the others report in.”
“Well, I hope they have good news,” said Saunders, “because we have to make the selections for Phase Two by 1800 hours.”
“They’ll pick the right ones, Levi,” said CSM Hammond. “We’ve got a good group down there.”
Saunders picked up the binoculars that were hanging around his neck and started sweeping the crowd that was running the obstacle course. CSM Hammond opened the thermos, poured himself another cup of coffee and waited.
Along the outer edge of Murder Mile was a large cargo net tower that rose four stories into the misty sky. A network of three-rope bridges and single rope connections were in place so that many of the obstacles were nearly impossible to complete on their own. Teamwork was essential.
If anyone were to fall, they would find themselves in one of four different ponds that were deep enough to prevent injury. However, the water was just above the freezing point, so falling into one was not something that any of them wanted to do.
Clark and Masterson had just finished the tower and were watching the others. All of the recruits wore OCPs, they were completely sanitized except for the recruit’s name. The training cadre all wore OCPs with full patches, denoting that they were part of the team. They wore the standard patch of the Wild Hunt, but the tab above the patch read “TRAINING.” The tabs that Clark and the others wore still read “TEAM ODIN.” If the recruits were paying attention, they would notice the difference.
The recruits all wore olive drab stocking caps while the cadre and Clark’s people wore basic patrol caps with their ranks on them. With everyone wearing the same OCPs, there was no way to determine who was from what branch or group. This was to eliminate any preferential treatment for any one group, based on same service or different service rivalries.
With the sanitized uniforms, everyone was equal. There was no rank, no special teams, and no awards. All of the prospects were only differentiated by performance and attitude. No gender biases were accepted or allowed. If you made the cut, you made the cut. However, the standards were the same for everyone. Either you made it, or you didn’t.
“See anyone that stands out, sir?” asked Masterson.
“Yeah,” he said. “Some in a good way, others not so much.”
“Kinda what I was thinking,” she replied. “I’ve been watching a young kid named Murdock. He’s got all the right skills and training, but he’s not a team player. Seems to think that the only way he’s going to get anywhere is on his own.”
“Too bad,” said Clark. “I read his file. On paper, he’s a good candidate.”
Clark lifted up his clipboard and made a few quick notes, then turned his attention back to the groups of soldiers running past him. Then, he looked up and smiled.
“I’ve got an idea,” said Clark.
“What’s that, sir,” asked Masterson.
Clark reached in to his cargo pocket and took out one of the green beanies that all of the perspective personnel were wearing. Taking off his patrol cap, he started sanitizing his uniform. Once all of his patches were removed, he placed them in the patrol cap and folded it over.
“Hang onto this for me,” he said, grinning.
“What are you doing, sir?” she asked, returning the grin.
“I’m going undercover,” he said, slipping the beanie on.
Now, he was virtually indistinguishable from the other applicants who were competing for the open spots on Team Odin.
“Keep an eye on us,” he said, winking.
He turned and sprinted off after the crowd of soldiers running the obstacle course. It wasn’t long before he was passing several of them in his attempt to catch up with Murdock. It didn’t take long before he was running beside the younger soldier.
They reached the massive tower at almost the same time, climbing the netting on their way towards the top. Clark was keeping an eye on the younger soldier, watching the look of determination on his face. There was sweat and fatigue there, but Clark didn’t see any sign of him giving up. That much was excellent.
When they hit the top, there was an obstacle that was nearly impossible to complete without help. Clark paused and glanced at Murdock.
“This’ll go easier if we help each other,” said Clark.
“No thanks,” said Murdock, not taking his eyes off the obstacle while he studied it.
“You don’t have to do everything on your own,” said Clark. “I think they’re expecting us to work together.”
“This team is looking for the best of the best,” said Murdock. “We’re all high speed – low drag. If you don’t stand out in this crowd, you might as well pack up and go home.”
“That’s not how I hear it,” said Clark. “I hear they’re looking for how well we work together, too.”
“Maybe,” said Murdock, “but I have to do better. I can’t screw this up.”
“If you don’t make the team,” said Clark, “it’s not the end of the world. You can try again next time.”
“Look man,” said Murdock, turning to face Clark. “You don’t know me. There is literally no place in Special Forces that I can go where they don’t know my family. This is my only shot at doing something my grandfather never did.”
“Who’s your grandfather?” asked Clark.
“Charlie Beckwith,” said Murdock, turning back to the obstacle.
“Trust me, kid,” said Clark. “Forget that lone ranger bullshit and start showing some teamwork. If you don’t, you’ll never make the team.”
Murdock seemed to consider it for a moment before turning back to Clark.
“What makes you so sure about that?” he asked.
“You’re just going to have to take it on faith,” said Clark.
With that, Clark side-stepped and jumped against the edge of the pole. Using it to propel him higher, he hit the top of the obstacle and pulled himself up. Thus far, no one had been able to figure out the obstacle. Leaning back, Clark held out his hand for Murdock.
“It’s not just about who’s the toughest,” said Clark. “It’s about who will go the extra mile to bring their teammates home.”
Murdock thought about it for a moment, then took Clark’s hand. Pulling him up, Murdock started climbing the obstacle. Clark stayed behind, helping others up onto the obstacle. After a moment, he lost sight of Murdock in the crowd.
Clark waited until the group that was nearby had cleared the obstacle before dropping and climbing back down the side. Once he reached the bottom, one of the cadre came running up and started screaming at him.
“Are you quitting, soldier?” he screamed. “Get your ass back up that goddamned obstacle.”
Clark could see the smile on Masterson’s face as she stood back and watched the exchange.
“I’m not quitting,” said Clark. “I’m going back to work.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?!” snapped the instructor.
“It means that I’m already on the team,” said Clark, removing the beanie.
“This is Captain Clark,” said Masterson, handing Clark his patrol cap and patches.
“What?” asked the instructor, clearly confused.
“I was just getting a closer look,” said Clark, slipping his patrol cap back on.
“Oh, shit,” said the instructor. “I’m sorry, sir.”
“No worries,” said Clark, chuckling.
The instructor excused himself and headed back towards the crowd of soldiers, getting some distance as quickly as he could.
“That wasn’t funny,” said Clark, grinning at Masterson.
“It was from my side, sir,” she said, laughing.
Clark put his patches back in place and picked up his clipboard.
“Think your chat did any good?” asked Masterson.
“I certainly hope so,” said Clark. “Did you know that Murdock is the grandson of Charlie Beckwith?”
“I was Air Force, sir,” she said, grinning. “I’ve heard the name, but I’m not sure who that is.”
“Colonel Charlie Beckwith was the founder of Delta Force,” explained Clark. “He’s one of those guys whose names are mentioned with the same respect you use when you talk about Patton or Chesty Puller.”
“Oh, so he’s like military royalty,” she said, smiling.
“Well, his grandfather certainly was,” said Clark. “It remains to be seen what Murdock will do. He’s got all the right qualifications, but he’s going to have to learn that this is a team and we live and die as a team.”
“So, no lone wolf shit, right sir?” she said, with a grin.
“Was that a shot at me?” he replied with a grin.
“I wouldn’t presume, sir,” she said, chuckling.
“Alright,” admitted Clark, “he reminds me a bit of me when I was his age. That, and I owe most of what I am today to the things I learned in Delta. Charlie Beckwith is someone I hold in high regard.”
“Did you know Beckwith, sir?” she asked.
“Never met the man,” said Clark. “He retired long before I enlisted. I wish I had, though. I bet he could tell some stories.”
“Then, do we pass him to the next phase?” asked Masterson, moving her pen to her clipboard.
“Not yet,” said Clark. “Let’s see what he does with what I told him. If he can start acting like a team player, we’ll think about it. If he keeps going the way he’s going now, then I don’t care who his grandfather is, he’s getting cut.”
“He’s definitely got the potential, sir,” agreed Masterson. “I think if he did come around, he’d make a good candidate for the team.”
“I think so, too,” said Clark. “Top of his class in Ranger School. High marks at Mountaineering and he’s scuba qualified, jump qualified, air assault qualified and is on the short list for Pathfinder School if we don’t take him.”
“Even if we do,” said Masterson, “he could still get the certification. It’s only a three week course.”
“If we keep him,” said Clark, “I think I’ll send him, you and maybe Margolin. It’s good to have those skills on the team.”
“What about you, sir?” asked Masterson. “Are you going to go?”
“I’ve already been,” said Clark. “It’s a great course.”
Clark and Masterson turned when they heard the sound of a whistle blowing. They both knew that meant the group had finished running the obstacle course. The other groups running simulated combat missions should be finishing soon, as well.
“I’m going with the next group of shooters,” said Clark. “You stay here on the course with Margolin. He should be back from the force-on-force exercise any time now.”
“Alright sir,” said Masterson.
“I’ll meet you and Margolin back here when we break for lunch and we’ll compare notes,” said Clark. “We’re going to have to start making selections because the deadline is coming up fast.”
“Picking the ones that are good enough is easy,” said Masterson. “Figuring out who’s not going to cut it might not be as easy. They’re all top of the special forces community.”
“It’s going to come down to the small shit,” said Clark. “They’ve all got the right skills to do well. What we’re looking for is the ones who will make the best fit. And, we’ve got just over six hours to decide who makes the first cut.”
“So, no stress there,” said Masterson, grinning.
“I want you to pay close attention to two people in particular that will be running the course, this time,” said Clark.
“Who are they?” asked Masterson.
“Hendrix and O’Neill,” said Clark. “Both snipers. Hendrix is a shooter with Army Special Forces and O’Neill is a Marine Scout Sniper.”
“What am I watching for?” asked Masterson.
“You’re my best shooter,” said Clark. “I want both of them. One for our team and the other will go to Team Uller. I’m putting them both through to Phase Two unless you see a reason not to. I want your opinion on them.”
“As shooters or as perspective team members?” asked Masterson.
“Both,” said Clark. “After lunch, take them to the range and see what they’ve got. If you say they’re good, then I’m happy with them.”
Masterson started making notes on her clipboard.
“Thank you,” she said.
“For what?” asked Clark.
“For taking me seriously,” she replied. “You’d be surprised how many people I’ve met in my career that wouldn’t take me seriously as a shooter because I’m a woman.”
“Fuck that,” said Clark. “You’re a better shot than I am and I’ve seen you take out a goddamned Bigfoot on the run at close to five-hundred meters. I’ll take you over any sniper I’ve ever worked with.”
“Thank you, sir,” she said, smiling.
“Nothing to thank me for,” said Clark. “Just stating a fact. Now, I want you to run those two through hell. If they aren’t up to your standards, then I don’t want them.”
“I’ll make sure they’re right for us, sir,” said Masterson, smiling broadly.
“Great,” said Clark. “I’ll see you at lunch.”
With that, Clark headed out towards the combat course. Masterson was watching him go when Margolin walked up, eating an apple.
“Where’s the boss going?” he asked, still chewing.
“He’s going with the next group on the combat course,” said Masterson. “You and I are supposed to observe the next group through Murder Mile.”
“Hooah,” said Margolin, taking another bite.
Three hours later, the three of them were sitting down at a picnic table on the edge of the training area. Lunch had been brought down by the crew from the chow hall and set up a hot meal for them. Clark was adding tabasco sauce to almost everything on his plate.
“How can you put tabasco on everything, like that?” asked Masterson.
Clark and Margolin exchanged glances.
“Air Force,” said Margolin, rolling his eyes.
“What about the Air Force,” said Masterson, taking a bite of her spaghetti.
“It’s just that the Air Force doesn’t eat a lot of MRE’s,” said Clark. “Even in the field.”
“True,” said Masterson, “but what does that have to do with anything?”
“It means that you haven’t had to live on the damned things for days and weeks at a time,” said Margolin. “On deployment, that was about all I ate when we were away from the FOB. And that was most of the time.”
“The MRE’s come with a little bottle of tabasco,” said Clark. “It’s the only thing that makes it edible, most of the time. So, I got used to the flavor and now I put it on almost everything. Habit, I guess.”
“Hmm,” said Masterson, smiling. “I guess you two should have joined the Air Force, then.”
Clark and Margolin looked and each other and shrugged.
“She might be on to something,” said Margolin. “The food’s better and the woman are much hotter.”
“Thanks, I think,” said Masterson.
Margolin just smiled and started dumping tabasco on his own food.
“How did Hendrix and O’Neill do on the course?” asked Clark.
“They both did fine on the course,” said Masterson. “Teamwork looks good. They both ran it well and didn’t show any signs of quitting. Physically, I’d say they both fit the profile. I’ll see how they shoot this afternoon.”
“I want both of them,” said Clark, “but if they’re not up to speed, we’ll keep looking. If we keep them, I want you to decide whose staying with us and who goes to Uller.”
“I’ll give you my best recommendations,” said Masterson.
“We’ll call it the Valkyrie test,” said Margolin. “If they aren’t chosen by the Valkyrie, then they don’t go before the All-Father.”
Clark and Masterson both chuckled.
“Have either of you seen anyone you think needs to be cut?” asked Clark, clicking his pen and grabbing his clipboard.
They spent the next few minutes discussing names and things they had observed. Clark made notes while they spoke, glancing up occasionally to listen. While they were talking they were approached by Major Saunders and Command Sergeant Major Hammond.
“Mind if we join you?” asked Saunders, sliding into a seat.
“Not at all, sir,” said Clark.
CSM Hammond slid into a seat and sat his tray of food down.
“Where’s Gideon and Elliott?” asked Saunders.
“They headed over to the classrooms to prep the Phase Two briefing material,” said Clark.
“Good,” said Saunders. “I’d forgotten about that.”
“Hand me that tabasco,” said CSM Hammond, nodding at Clark.
Masterson just shook her head.
“Definitely an Army thing,” she said, smiling. “Do the Marines do it, too?”
“Nah,” said Margolin. “They just stick to crayons.”
That drew a round of chuckles from the table.
“We’ve just been going over our observations,” said Clark. “Making some notes on who to cut and who to pass on to Phase Two.”
“Mind if I take a look?” asked Saunders.
Clark handed him the clipboard and went back to eating.
“Captain Hernandez is on-board for taking Team Four,” said Saunders.
“That’s good news,” said Clark. “How did the PJ’s feel about letting him go?”
“They were actually glad that we took him,” said CSM Hammond. “They were fucking pissed at him for blowing up the drone. I think he was done with the PJ’s anyway, whether he knew it or not.”
“Then their loss is our gain,” said Clark. “I like Hernandez. He’s a good officer.”
“Clark?” said Saunders, interrupting.
“Yes, sir?” said Clark.
“I don’t know if you realized it,” he said, “but the three of you have already made enough recommendations to proceed to Phase Two.”
“Sir?” asked Clark. “I didn’t think there were enough names on that list for that.”
“Well,” said Saunders, “if you add this list to what the instructors already gave us. Are you sure about the Murdock kid?”
“I am, sir,” said Clark.
“Then I’m assigning him to your team,” said Saunders. “You want him, you get him. I think he’s got a lot to learn.”
“I’ll teach him, sir,” said Clark.
“We all will, sir,” said Masterson.
“What about the two snipers?” asked CSM Hammond.
“Masterson is taking them to the range this afternoon,” said Clark. “She’ll give me her final assessment by 1500 hours.”
“We need the shooters,” said Saunders, “but if either of them don’t make the cut, I need to start looking for replacements. We need the long guns.”
“They both have excellent records, sir,” said Masterson. “I’ll see what they’re like on the range. From what I’ve already observed, I think they’re both going to be fine. I’ll know more in a couple of hours.”
“Alright,” said Saunders, “I’ll start making preparations for Phase Two. The eighty that we select will be sent to the training unit for two weeks of intensive training and briefings on the threats we face. They’ll even get to meet that little bastard Gugwe we captured near Table Rock Lake. That thing’s vicious.”
“Out of the eighty,” said CSM Hammond, “twenty will be assigned to Odin, ten will go to Uller and the rest will be in the reserve pool for replacements with any team.”
“Don’t worry, Clark,” said Saunders. “I’ll make sure Murdock comes to your team, regardless.”
“Thank you, sir,” said Clark.
“If you’ll excuse me, sirs,” said Masterson, “I need to head for the thousand meter range. Wish me luck.”
“Good luck,” said Clark, nodding at her.
As Valkyrie walked away, Saunders glanced around the table and nodded.
“Team Odin is back in business, gentlemen,” We’ll be back at full strength in two weeks and can go back into the rotation.”
“Hooah,” said Margolin.
“As soon as we get the Fresh Meat,” said CSM Hammond, “we start training hard. I want everyone ready for the next time a balloon goes up. God knows how much time we’ll have to prepare those kids for the shit we see.”
“Copy that, Command Sar-Major,” said Clark.
“We’ll be ready,” said Saunders. “I have a good feeling about the new recruits. Especially Hernandez.”
“Hooah,” said Clark.
 SpecWar – Special Warfare
 OCPs is military phonetics for the Operational Camouflage Pattern uniform. The camouflaged duty uniform worn by everyone in the army for daily duty.
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