It was only a matter of time.
The “boys” were fascinated by the lurid scars on Dysen’s face. It was clear from the raging colors that the scars were recent.
The smaller of the two scars was in line with her lower, right eye-tooth. A tooth which was clearly missing.
The larger of the two scars was massive. It was on the left side of her face and the shiny pink-and-purple skin stretched from the corner of her mouth to within an inch of the back of her jaw.
It was equally clear from how she had to substitute certain letter sounds that she was missing many of her back teeth and had damage to her tongue.
One of the boys was particularly fascinated. His mates razzed him constantly, and then, one morning while Dysen was ladling out breakfast, in a lapse of judgement he blurted out “What happened to your face.”
The question was expected. Dysen just wondered why the question had been so long in coming.
“I was shot in the head” Dysen said. “I was caught in an ambush and shot in the head.”
“Holy shit!” the mate behind questioner exclaimed. He had no idea.
“So what happened next? You got left for dead and were found later?” the mate asked.
“Oh no. It pissed off Quinn, so he killed them all.” Dysen said.
“You mean General Spackle’s squad killed them” the mate corrected.
“Noooo. Quinn killed them, all six of them. Personally” Dysen confirmed.
The boys were at a loss for what to say.
Then Dysen added a little bit of advice. “If Quinn gives you some advice on small squad tactics or ambushes...you ought to listen, ‘cause he knows what he is talking about.”
The young men talked over afterward. Nobody walks into an ambush against six-to-one odds and wins, much less wipes out all the aggressors.
One of the squad leaders approached Pepperoni later that day. “I heard a rumor that was so wild it might be true. My squad asked me to check it out.”
“Whatchya got?” Pep asked without preamble.
“Is it true Corn-dog was in an ambush and single-handedly killed six fighters.
“Yup” Pep said. No brainer. Pep took a swig out of his water bottle.
“No, I am not asking if he set up an ambush and snuffed six fighters who walked into it. I am asking, did the bad-guys set-up an an ambush and did Corn-dog bust their set-up and kill them all?” the squad leader persisted.
Pep pondered the question. Quinn had been in an over-watch position while the rest of the squad was preparing to attack intruders. Ambushers had set-up to the rear of the squad and had settled into concealed positions.
Quinn was content to let the squad deal with the intruders, and then he was going to direct them around the ambush...until one of the ambushers shot Dysen out of pure spitefulness. Shooting Dysen served no tactical purpose.
That is when Quinn lost his cool. He informed the squad and Chernovsky he was about to start the party.
The last fighter was eight feet away from Quinn when Quinn shot him. Unfortunately, Quinn “had his ass shot off” in the fire-fight.
If Quinn had not been at the top of his game, it is entirely possible that Pep would have been one of the fighters killed in the ambush.
Sometimes, few words tell the story better. “The ambushers were set-up. Spackle busted the ambush and killed them all” Pep confirmed.
“If you could give us just one piece of advice about walking into ambushes, what would it be” one of the men asked a few days later.
Quinn gave the question some thought.
“My first advice would be to not do it” Quinn said.
“Beyond that, there is no on, single, magic bullet. Surviving is not a matter of doing one thing right. It is a matter of doing everything right.”
“The biggest thing is you are doomed if you get surprised. Before you walk into what might be a killing field, figure out the three places YOU would put the ambushers. Then figure out what you are going to do when somebody starts shooting at you.”
"Do you drop down prone to return fire? Drop into the sitting position or kneel? Know what you are going to do BEFORE you step out of cover."
“The other thing is that you have to figure that they are at least as smart as we are. If they start shooting at you and the logical thing to do is to jump into a ditch...well, figure there is a pretty good chance they have a string of Claymores set up to mow the ditch.” Quinn said.
“Most times, the best thing to have half the squad drop down to one knee to reduce your profile and increase your accuracy. Then return fire as quickly as you can accurately shoot” Quinn said. “That is why squads are broken into A and B teams. A returns fire and B hops to cover...preferably not in the same ditch. Then B covers A as the squad attacks THROUGH the ambush."
They had heard as much from Tomanica. But somehow it was different when the guy who was telling you had walked into the killing field. He had walked out and six had not.