[ the loss ]

by trooper macniven

"All right, y'all, let's go! Move, move, move, ladies!" Zeke's yell made Taylor grin. Danny laughed, Ruiz chuckled, even the LT had to smile at his sergeant's words. He could hustle newbies better than anyone.

The LZ loomed closer. Sarge, sitting on the edge of the Huey's belly, jumped out first. He could hear the cherries landing behind him. Lt. McKay cut off his rock and roll tunes behind Zeke. The men of Team Viking were under attack, and it was thick.
Bullets were flying thick and fast as Doc ran from guy to guy, patching them up just to have them get shot again. The blood on his hands would probably stain them, Sarge thought. That blood came from at least three-quarters of the team. He took stock of his men. Four, the LT included, needed medevacs, and and the fighting was so thick there was no place for any chopper to land. They couldn't call in arty, either, unless they wanted to kill themselves.

After what seemed like an eternity, the VC were beaten back. Guys were flushing the survivors out of the bushes. Choppers were flying in and out at breakneck speed. He watched as the chopper carrying the LT left.
Everybody was either being lifted onto a chopper or helping load wounded onto one. Nobody noticed the VC creeping up on Zeke until it was too late. The blast of the grenade alerted them.

"Sarge!" Percell screamed. Taylor added his voice to his friend's. All the men ran to their sergeant. Danny took out a knife and finished the VC off.

"Doc?" he asked. The medic shrugged.

All the men waited anxiously in the pre-op ward of hospital in Saigon. They'd all refused to have their wounds cared for until they knew about Sarge and LT. Half their team was dead. It wasn't right.
Ru's girlfriend walked out. She pulled off her mask. The men's looks asked the question none of them could voice.

"I don't know," Suzanna said. "I worked on another guy. He's fine, though." When the doctor came out, he looked at them. Swallowing, he cleared his throat and spoke.

"Your lieutenant is fine. Or, he's going to be."

Taylor stepped forward. "And Sarge?" he asked.

"He had a bleeder we didn't find until it was too late. I'm sorry."

"You're sorry?!" Percell shrilled. "You're sorry?!! Do you have any idea what we're going through? Sarge has been like a father to us!"
The doctor sighed and shook his head.

All the guys went to visit Goldman. Taylor, the new Sarge, had the unpleasant duty of telling LT that Zeke was dead.

"Hey, guys!" LT said cheerily as the approached him. "Where's Zeke? I don't see him. Not that I've been awake long enough to see him."
Taylor stepped forward. Tears ran down his face. He couldn't say it.

"Sir." The voice was Percell's. "He died on the operating table." Danny's voice cracked as he said it. There was no denying the fact now. Sarge was gone. They all had to cope.

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