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Chapter Seven

"Frog Gear."

"This is Mike Jenkins. I'm an advisor to a local militia in Georgia, the country not the state. I need gear. Lots and lots of gear."

In the previous two weeks, things had started to shake out. The house was improving; there was heat at least and the whole place was now spotless. The cellars were still being emptied out, but Mike was keeping some of the stuff. There were some interesting metal trays he suspected dated to the period of Ottoman occupancy and wooden boxes of books in Russian, Arabic and even Greek that he was itching to figure out. The Keldara had turned out to be excellent craftsmen and he now had shelves in the library again as well as a desk.

And he'd gotten a handle on his potential militia manpower. There were a hundred and twenty of the Keldara who were in the age and ability range to make decent militiamen. He suspected a few of them wouldn't have the right mindset to make the sort of soldiers he wanted, but most seemed to. The Keldara were very disciplined, but after watching a couple of fights he'd come to the conclusion that was necessary rather than normal. Aggression was the first necessity for a soldier, the rest could be trained. And the Keldara had plenty of aggression. They were very serious about how they settled arguments.

He'd taught a few of the women to take measurements, given them a list of Keldara who were designated for the militia, and set them to work measuring them. So he had full measurements for the entire group. Putting them all in an e-mail had been tedious, the sort of reason he wished he had a staff, or even a clerk. But the order was ready to go. And after he got the weapons and equipment, he could start introductory training.

In addition to the male fighters, there were about forty females he thought might make decent fixed-position soldiers. The Keldara women were beautiful and, on the surface, remarkably oppressed. But there was a lot of fire there. He'd seen one of the Family mothers berating one of her sons and it sounded like a drill sergeant dressing down a recruit.

But the time had come to start putting in serious gear orders. And Frog Gear was the place, in his opinion. They could supply everything from boots to batteries with all the electronics gear, uniforms and rucksacks that would be needed in between.

"How are you going to be paying for this, sir?" the saleswoman asked.

"I'll mail you a check from Citicorp," Mike said. "I want to set up the order, then I'll mail you the list. It's probably going to take a container to ship it all."

"That much?" the saleswoman squeaked.

"That much," Mike said. "I'm outfitting a light infantry company and I'll need both mobile and fixed communications gear. So give me an order number and I'll send you the list. You figure out how much it's going to cost, including shipping, and I'll send you a check. Works?"

"That will work, sir," the saleswoman said, cautiously.

"Just to give you an idea," Mike said. "I'm looking at a hundred and fifty sets of uniforms, an equal number of combat vests, an equal number of NODs, etcetera. Delivered to Georgia. And, given the quantity, I'm going to want at least some discount."

* * *


"I heard you retired Ass-boy," Mike said. "It's Jenkins. How you doing?"

"Jenkins, huh?" the retired master chief replied. "Nice handle. Where the hell are you?"

"Georgia," Mike said. "The country, not the state. What are you doing these days?"

"Watching the grass grow," Chief Adams grumped. "I've been looking for a job but what in the hell does a retired SEAL do for work?"

"There are plenty of companies that could use you in sales," Mike said, grinning. "But I've got a contract offer you might be interested in."

"What are you doing, headhunting?" Adams asked, warily.

"No, this is for me," Mike replied. "I bought a farm in Georgia. It came with retainers. They need training. Lots and lots of training."

"Georgia, huh?" Chief Adams said. "The wife is going to love that."

"You old goat, what is this. Number six?"

"Five," Adams said. "Going on six."

"The girls are gorgeous and the beer is fantastic," Mike said. "And the base material is outstanding. I figure six months with some time off when they have to work on the farm. Not just you, I'll need a team of fifteen or so. Maybe, probably, more. Twelve instructors for the males, three for the females, a few specialists, notably commo and rifle, you for senior NCO and an OIC. Frankly, I'd like you to pick an OIC for it; you're more connected these days than I am. Spend six weeks taking a class in Georgian, a month or so getting to know the people, basic training period, then some stick around for advanced training. I'll need at least three females with combat experience since I'm going to want to train some of the women as well."

"Direct fire only?"

"No, I got permission for mortars," Mike admitted. "You think you can round up some special forces heavy guys? Oh, and there are some civil works projects I think we can throw in the mix. See if you can get a couple of Sfers with real engineering and electrical training."

"I know some people," Adams admitted. "This is on the up and up, right? I want to be able to come back to the States."

"Fully supported by the government of the land of the free," Mike said. "At least as long as the current government is in place. Next year's elections are going to be interesting."

"That they are," Adams said. "Okay, I'll start rounding up a team. What's the pay?"

"Two hundred kay for six months for the OIC," Mike said. "One-seventy for you. One-twenty for all the other trainers. Room and board provided. And, of course, seventy kay is tax free."

"In that case I'll get right on it," Adams said. "How soon do you need them?"

"Soon," Mike admitted. "I've been running behind the eight ball getting things in place. So the sooner you can get a team over here and learning Georgian, the better."

"Will do," Adams replied. "See you soon, Mike."

"Look forward to it," Mike said, cutting the circuit as Mother Savina came in the office with a distracted expression on her face.

"There is another truck," Mother Savina said, shaking her head. "A large truck from DHL."

"Workout gear," Mike said, happily. He went to the front and, sure enough, the usual DHL driver was standing outside his truck looking dyspeptic.

"There is many parcels for you, Mr. Jenkins," Tolegeon said in broken English, shaking his head. "Very heavy. Very much."

"I'll get a crew," Mike replied in a mix of Georgian and Russian. He was picking up the former more or less by a process of osmosis while his Russian was getting, if anything, more fluent. Albeit with some odd loan words. "Mother Savina, get Petro and he and I will start. But call down for a few strong backs; we'll be at this for a while."

"You should wait until Keldara get here," Mother Savina said, shaking her head. "Kildar should not unload trucks."

"The Kildar has done worse in his time," Mike said, going around to the back of the truck.

He, the DHL driver and Petro had barely gotten a third of the way through the truck when some Keldara made it up the hill. Despite the climb the farmers immediately started unloading, toting the gear to the cellar room Mike had designated for a weight room. He'd decided to leave the library as a library and use one of the many rooms in the cellars for workouts.

The truck took about an hour to unload, since most of the packages were heavy enough it took two to lift them. But finally it drove away and Mike was left looking at a room piled with large and small boxes.

"This is going to take a while to assemble," Mike said, shaking his head.

"You want help?" Vil Mahona asked. He was one of the Keldara Mike had mentally designated as a militiaman and given his normal initiative and "can do" attitude, Mike suspected he was going to be one of the officers or NCOs.

"I could use help," Mike admitted. "If anybody wants to stick around, feel free. And, yes, you'll get paid."

The Keldara had a brief discussion and Vil and two of the others stayed as Mike went to work opening the boxes. One problem that was immediately apparent was that although the assembly instructions were "international," the various languages they were printed in did not include Russian, much less Georgian. Which led to another question.

"Vil, can you read?" Mike asked as well as he could in Georgian.

"A little," the Keldara admitted. "We are taught some reading by the mothers. But not well. Are not many books." Vil was using a mix of standard Georgian with some Keldara words. The Keldara spoke a dialect of Georgian that was very nearly a different language. Fortunately, most of the older members spoke Russian and all but the youngest could get by in standard Georgian. However, the "Georgian" Mike was picking up was mostly Keldara.

"Fortunately, most of the instructions have pictures," Mike said, looking at the instructions for the Nautilus equipment. "But even with the pictures, I'm lost. I'm not the world's greatest mechanic. And we'll need tools."

"I get toolbox," one of the other Keldara said. Mike thought his name was Dutov and from his looks he was a Devlich. If he remembered correctly, he was Katrina's older brother, although with the Keldara it was hard to tell.

Mike pulled out parts to the weight bench and started laying them out on the floor as Vil started doing the same with one of the Nautilus machines. The third Keldara, who was in his mid-teens, scratched his head for a second, then started in on one of the other Nautilus machines.

"What are these?" Vil said after looking at the instructions in confusion.

"They are machines for building muscles," Mike said, then looked up at their expressions of surprise. "Look, I know you guys pick rocks and throw bulls and stuff all day. But, first of all, I don't. I'm stuck in this house doing other things. Second, with these you can target build specific muscle groups so you don't just have muscles for picking rock and throwing bulls. When I have the time I like to use these machines for about four to six hours a day." He'd had to use a fair bit of Russian to get that across and Vil was forced to translate some of the words, in some places obviously looking for phrases when Georgian and Keldara gave out.

Dutov shortly came back with a toolbox and the four of them went to work. It quickly became apparent that Dutov had quite a bit more mechanical aptitude than the other three, especially after Mike ended up assembling half of a Nautilus backwards.

"This is for muscles?" Vil asked, holding up a padded part. "How?"

"That's a pec device," Mike said, holding up his arms bent at the elbows and moving them inward. "You push your forearms against the pads. There's a bar you hold with your hands," he added, pointing at one of the parts. "The one . . . son, what's your name?" Mike asked the teen.

"Erkin, Kildar," the boy said.

"What he's working on is a leg machine," Mike said, pushing with his legs. "For building strength in the legs."

Dutov said something fast in Keldara and Mike couldn't quite catch it but the other two laughed.

"What?" he asked, curiously.

"He said you should try using a plow all day," Vil said, flexing thighs that were thick as trees. "And climbing the mountains."

"That I do," Mike said. "Climbing, that is. But this is for doing what is called circuit work. Trust me, it's better than general farm work and, as you pointed out, I don't do that. Although I'll probably help some, just to get a feel for it. It reminds me of a joke, though."

"You have good jokes," Dutov said in broken Russian. "Try it."

"Hmmm, you know anything about American football?" Mike asked.

"No," Vil said. "I've heard of it, but I've never seen it."

"Well, take my word for it, it takes big, really strong guys," Mike said. "Oleg might make a decent pro-player, but he's one of the only Keldara I've seen that's big enough."

"Oleg is an ox," Dutov said, frowning. "Football players are bigger?"

"And stronger," Mike said. "Trust me. Pro players are fucking monsters. But the joke goes like this. Up until, say, when Father Kulcyanov was young, there were still people in the U.S. that used horses and plows. There was this one team that had really big guys on its line, the guys that have to be really big and strong but don't have to be smart."

"Oleg is smart," Vil said. "Don't let him fool you."

"He hasn't," Mike said, smiling. "But the joke about how the team got those guys is that the coach, the boss, would go driving around in the country. When he saw a big guy behind a plow, he'd ask him the way to the nearest city. If they guy stopped plowing and pointed, he'd drive on. He hired the guys that picked up the plow to point."

"Yes," Vil said, laughing. "Even Oleg would point."

"Shota would point the plow," Erkin said, shyly.

"Then we must get Shota on a pro football team," Mike said. He thought he knew which one Shota was, a red-headed monster even bigger than Oleg but with a very placid nature. He moved well, though, and he looked fast.

"Dutov," Mike said, standing up and stretching his joints. "I hereby promote you to assembler of Nautilus machines. I'm going to go find out what crashing emergency has occurred while I've been down here. Don't work on this too late, and expect to come back tomorrow to finish, okay?"

"Yes, Kildar, is very okay," Dutov said, looking up at him with a grin.

* * *

"I like the Kildar," Erkin said after Mike was gone.

"So do I," Vil admitted. "But I'm interested in finding out what will happen that he will not promise."

* * *

When Mike made his way back up to the ground floor, he found Mother Savina waiting for him.

"Was a call on your satellite phone," Mother Savina said. "Colonel Pierson. He asked you to call him back."

"Thank you, Mother," Mike replied, sighing. "I wonder what he wants now?"

* * *

"What now, Bob?" Mike asked when the scrambler was in place.

"You sound tired," Pierson said. "Too many women?"

"None at all, unfortunately," Mike admitted. "Seriously, what's up?"

"A little bird suggested that you take a ride over to Tbilisi, tomorrow," Pierson said. "There's a meeting tomorrow with Ambassador Wilson, ours, Ambassador Krepkina, Russia, our military attaché, the Russian military attaché and a couple of Georgians. The Russians just intercepted a big group of Chechens that were planning on replicating Breslan. And they intercepted them exiting Georgia. Actually, although the Georgians don't know this, the Spetznaz team was on the Georgian side of the border. The Russians are getting ready to do a Cambodian invasion on Georgia, and the Georgians are making big talk. I think your intent to form a militia group in the area can possibly calm things down. At least it's something."

"Would the little bird be a black guy of Jamaican extraction?" Mike asked. "Or a cowboy from Texas?"

"Both," Pierson replied. "The Russians are taking their new preemption doctrine to consider Georgia fair game. In a way, I don't blame them; Georgia is a haven for the Chechens. But it's not Georgia's fault; they're trying. They just don't have the funding, the training or the manpower."

"Bob, all I'm forming is a company of light infantry for local defense," Mike pointed out. "I can't solve the Russians' problems for them."

"But you are intending to shut down Chechen operations in your area, right?"

"To the extent that I can," Mike said. "Yes. I don't like any Islamic group, you know that and you know why."

"Just tell them what you intend," Pierson said. "That may mollify the Russians enough to get them to back off. They don't really want to have a border war with Georgia; they've got too much on their plate in Chechnya. If they can see any glimmer of hope, they'll probably snap at it. Even if they don't appear to at the time, we'll be dropping hints in their ears at higher levels. Just go to the meeting, okay?"

"Okay," Mike said, sighing. "I don't have a suit, though."

"Just be yourself," Pierson said, chuckling. "You've talked to the President in shorts before, a Russian ambassador is nothing."

"The President expected shorts," Mike pointed out. "And you know I'm not diplomatic."

"Just be yourself," Pierson repeated. "You'll do fine."


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