Sadly, Southernfrau is no longer with us. Her stories are archived here for her friends to remember her by. Enjoy her legacy to Lancer.
Word Count 3,835
A Lancer, A New Century short story
Author’s note on Lancer ANC
Part 1 South Carolina Mission by Kit Prate
Part 2 Wisconsin Mission by Southernfrau
Disclaimer: The Lancer characters are owned but abandoned by Twentieth Century Fox.
Author’s note: Kit started it with a birthday story for me and I returned the party favor.
A Lancer ANC 667 Production
~*~ L ~*~ A ~*~ N ~*~ C ~*~ E ~*~ R ~*~
The high ground between two South Carolina swamps
Johnny spit the dust from his mouth; keeping his head low. “This is stupid,” he groused, the words coming in a harsh whisper.
Scott’s hand shot up, as if he were signaling the troops. “Shhh,” he cautioned, peering through the long grass at the field’s edge. “This is supposed to be a surprise!”
Johnny’s eyes narrowed; the pout coming when he caught a glimpse of his reflection in the quiet pond water. Big Brother had said they would need to suit up in camo gear; so they would blend in with the fall grasses. So here they were, belly-crawling through the freakin’ field; black goop under their eyes, wearing stupid helmets with even stupider weeds stickin’ out of `em; and for what?
“You sure Murdoch said we had to do this?” he groused.
In the back of his mind, Johnny Lancer had the niggling feeling his brother was playing a joke on him. Scott was still pretty pissed off about the two hundred pounds of candy corn he’d dumped into the Porsche as a joke; and the popcorn ball he’d used to plug up the tail pipe: but, hey, it had been Halloween. First one they’d spent at the ranch, too.
Johnny inched forward to get closer to his brother. He was crawling on his hands and knees now in the longer grass; hurrying to catch up. “Hey, Scott,” he called, his voice a soft whisper. “Are we even in the right place?” When his brother didn’t answer, he moved forward at a quicker pace, so he could get closer. Scott had been real adamant about not calling out. Leading with his right hand, he lurched forward.
Frowning, Scott turned around. “What part of WHISPER do you not comprehend,” he hissed.
Johnny was sitting back on his haunches; glaring. He raised his right hand; which was covered in thick, mushy brown. “Nothin’ on that high-tech fuckin’ Google Earth real time map that might’a give me even a hint, these people got a dog?” he groused. Making a face, he attempted to scrape the dog poop from his fingers by wiping his hand in the grass.
Scott was shaking his head. He’d volunteered to do this mission solo; knowing full well that Johnny would somehow manage to pull a SNAFU. But the General had been adamant. The surprise included both Lancer Boys. Wincing at the smell that was emanating from his brother, Scott hunkered down and signaled for Johnny to join him.
“I’ve got a small sketch of the house,” Scott murmured, unfolding the rectangle and pointing. “All we have to remember is to avoid the den.”
Scott’s eyebrows rose. “You are a grunt. You don’t need to know the reason why. All you need to know, little brother, is this…” he tapped the paper with his forefinger, “…is the objective.”
Johnny didn’t exactly question what his brother was saying; but he didn’t much like that remark about being a grunt. He looked down at his hand. He also didn’t want anymore surprises. “I ain’t goin’ anywhere until I know a.) where the dog is, and b.) is there anyone else in that house besides the…” his brow furrowed, “…_urprise?” His nose crinkled as he wondered if that was even a word, and then decided it didn’t matter. “Well?” he prodded.
“Murdoch’s taken care of that. The Mama will be in the den – which we will be avoiding – the siblings will be out of the way;” he shook his head as he did a mental count, the name Tammie coming up. He knew there was a Tammie, but right now he couldn’t remember just exactly where she would be. No big deal, it is a big house; odds are she won’t be anywhere near the target.
“And Pa,” he turned to grin at his brother. “Did I tell you the Pa was retired, career military? Well, Pa will probably be out fishing.”
Johnny’s eyes narrowed, and it was clear he was thinking. “So, we’re sneakin’ in a house where we really ain’t sure about where the people are going to be; and the Pa is retired military… They got guns in there?” he demanded.
“Phtt,” Scott muttered. “Look where they live, Johnny,” he gestured with his hand. “Relatives all around. And it’s South Carolina, for God’s sake. Why would they need guns.” He snorted again.
“They do have a dog, but it’s a she; and I have it on very good authority she’ll do anything for chocolate.” He reached out; patting his brother’s shoulder in reassurance. “Let’s go.”
~*~ L ~*~ A ~*~ N ~*~ C ~*~ E ~*~ R ~*~
It was surprising how quickly they reached their objective. They entered the house without a problem, pausing as they heard a sweet voice in the distance. “I can put the queen of spades, on the king of clubs; and then move the jack of diamond straight to free up that ace…
Scott grinned at his brother, checked his map and gestured for the boy to follow. They went into the bedroom.
Johnny stopped dead in his tracks. He reached out, grabbing his brother’s elbow. “Hey, Scott,” he whispered. “I think someone already gave that dog a whole bunch of chocolate.”
Scott was scoping out the terrain. Man, the room was neat. He wondered if there was a chance whoever occupied the room would be willing to give Johnny a few pointers on keeping his room clean. The constant tug on his sleeve pulled him back to the here and now. “What,” he hissed, annoyed.
Johnny was trying not to laugh. “I’m tellin’ you Scott, that dog’s high on chocolate!” He began to giggle. “Look at her, she’s layin’ on her back, and she wearin’ a dress!!”
Scott turned to smack his brother, stopping mid swing when he realized Johnny was not horsing around and the dog really was wearing a dress; and was now sound asleep. “Okay, okay,” he soothed, putting his right hand over his brother’s mouth to stifle the giggle. It took a little time for the boy to compose himself; and by the time he was actually able to stop laughing Scott’s hand was slippery wet with copious amounts of snot. He grimaced, and wiped his hand on his camos.
“What’s next?” Johnny whispered. He was beginning to feel uncomfortable. It was obvious he was in a girl’s bedroom; a neat girl’s bedroom. He knew they had to get on to their main objective before Scott got any idea of seeing if whoever owned this room would be willing to give lessons in cleanliness. That sure in hell ain’t happen’!
Scott was looking at the map again. “Okay,” he said. “Val did this part of the surveillance when the family was at church.” He tapped the X spot with his forefinger. “This is the room we need to be in,” he checked his watch, “at 0800. And then we sing, and get out! How hard can it be?”
The blond tip-toed across the room towards the closed door of the designated room; gesturing for Johnny to join him. “You can ditch the camos now,” Scott murmured.
Johnny’s right eyebrow arched and he canted his head. “What?”
“Ditch the camos,” Scott repeated; but this time in his Captain Don’t you Dare Disobey Me Lancer voice. The blond was already unpeeling his field clothes. He stepped out of the pants; pulled off the jacket, and stood in front of the assigned door. He was wearing the deep royal blue shirt and his tan slacks; and he had already scrubbed the camo grease from his face with a thick; sweet smelling baby wipe. Yep. Old Scott was lookin’ pretty spiffy. “Have you gotten out of you gear yet, brother,” Scott whispered impatiently without turning around.
Johnny sighed. “Not exactly,” he groaned.
“That was an order,” Scott snapped without turning around. “Just do it, or I’ll tell the General you failed to co-operate!” Scott was studying more papers; cheat sheets for the song they would be singing.
“Fuckin’ orders!” Johnny groused He exhaled, a great puff of air coming, and began to immediately shimmy out of the uniform. The jacket first, the pants; the camo mud boots.
“Ready?” Scott asked, without looking around.
“Oh, yeah, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be,” Johnny sighed. How the hell had he gotten into this mess.
Scott was counting off the time; the minutes, the seconds. They were two ticks away from the deadline. “Remember, as soon as I open the door, we start singing happy birthday,” he whispered.
Scott loved to sing.
“To who,” Johnny asked, realizing that he didn’t know the name.
“Mary,” Scott answered. “In 3—2—1—! He swung open the door, reaching behind to pull his brother forward so they could stand shoulder to shoulder
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOUUUUU;
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEAR MARRRRYYY;
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!
The scream was heard in two counties; long, piercing; semi-hysterical. Mary Hardwick (AKA: Corky), freshly stepped out of the shower was grabbing for the shower curtain, and screaming at the top of her lungs.
Directly in front of her stood the Lancer Brothers. A neatly folded camo suit lay next to Scott Lancer’s right foot. Scott was a picture in his royal blue shirt and tan pants; and he was in great voice.
He was extremely proud of how pleased and surprised the woman seemed to be with his singing.
The younger Lancer Brother was standing just to the left and behind Scott. A discarded pile of camo lay in a mess at his feet. He was wearing……
….nothing; nothing but a pair of white socks, and that little boy grin.
~*~ L ~*~ A ~*~ N ~*~ C ~*~ E ~*~ R ~*~
In the wilds of Wisconsin where high speed internet access is a crap shoot.
Snicker…Snicker…snicker… The high pitched giggle wheezed from Johnny, despite his valiant attempt to suppress his mirth. He was belly down on the cold Wisconsin ground, his body shook with the effort to remain quiet and hidden.
Rolling his eyes at the same time he rolled from his stomach to his side, Scott hissed, “Would you mind sharing what’s so damned funny, little brother?”
Scott’s action instead of intimidating the youngest Lancer, served only to send him into another fit of chuckles. How could he not laugh at the sight of his older brother dressed in camo, prostrate on the ground; his entire body glowing an unearthly green! And now as Scott’s temper rose, his eyes looked the size of fifty-cent pieces encased in the night vision goggles.
Johnny whimpered, his ribs aching from the hard ground and the endeavor to hold in his laughter. He finally managed to stutter, “You…snort…you…heehee…look like a big green, toxic glowin’ booger,” he tapped the goggles strapped across his eyes. Coming up on his hands and knees, Johnny twisted, sat up and peered behind him, into the woods they had just crawled through.
Johnny grunted, half in surprise, half in pain, when Scott’s arm snaked around his neck and jerked him back down on the ground, the contents of the ruck sack bore heavily into his spine. “Are you trying to be seen?” Scott growled, baring his teeth as he shoved his face right into Johnny’s, “Do I need to remind you our target is a crack shot?”
“I was just tryin’ to see if a big booger like you would leave a slime trail,” Johnny replied, trying to shift as he spoke to relieve the ache from the abuse to his spine.
Jabbing a rigid finger into his little brother’s chest, Scott retorted, “I’m stealthier than that, if anyone left signs, it’s you, you snot puppy.”
Pushing against his big brother’s chest, Johnny demanded, “Get off of me, these two six packs of Cheerwine are diggin’ into my backbone. Flipping back to his stomach and shrugging his shoulders to reposition the backpack, Johnny complained, “I don’t know why you couldn’t carry the fuckin’ sodas and let me tote the brownies and Oreos?” Contorting his face into an impressive scowl, Johnny protested, “You gave me the heavier pack when you’re supposedly the older, wiser, and stronger big brother.”
Placing his right hand against Johnny’s left cheek and lightly smacking it, Scott chortled, “Grunts get the grunt work. I’m the officer in charge.” Shaking his head, in that all knowing manner that he knew irritated his younger brother, he added, “Besides, there was no way I was trusting you with the brownies and Oreos, you would have eaten them all before we were half-way through the forest; leaving a trail like Hansel and Gretel,” he motioned to the woods behind them with a cocked thumb. “I can’t believe Dad sent you on this mission after the way you botched the one in South Carolina.”
“Botched,” Johnny protested, tapping his chest with his index finger he continued, “Botched is in the eye of the beholder!” he shook his finger in Scott’s face. Pasting on one of his patented shit eating grins, Johnny crowed, “And I do believe Corky was quite enchanted with what she was beholdin’!” Unable to resist the urge, he stuck his tongue out and blew a raspberry at his dictator brother.
“Once she came to after fainting and smacking her head on that marble vanity,” Scott sneered, and then cringed as he recalled the sickening crack sound that had echoed in the bathroom. “It’s a good thing her head is as hard as yours.” He thumped the boy’s head for emphasis.
And the fight was on!
The brothers lunged at each other. Scott managed to catch Johnny in a headlock. Johnny wound his arms around his brother’s chest. Pushing, shoving, squeezing and shaking each other the boys grunted as each tried to get the upper hand. Scott’s height gave him no advantage since they were stretched out on the ground. They were equally matched for upper body strength, though Scott did have his martial arts training…but Johnny had determination, not to mention he wasn’t above fighting dirty and when cornered was known to bite.
Back and forth they rolled, moving two feet to the left, and then two feet to the right. The battle contained within the same area until Scott twisted, trying to wrap his long legs around his brother’s wildly thrashing body. Johnny tried to counter the move and they ended up rotating together, ninety degrees to the right, which placed them parallel across the ridge they had been hunkered down on.
His head held tightly against Scott’s chest, Johnny panted, struggling to get a full breath. “Turn me loose,” demanded his muffled and aggravated voice, “I can’t breathe!”
Increasing his grip, Scott’s lips stretched in a flat thin line across his clenched teeth. “Oh no, I’m not falling for that ploy,” he exclaimed.
Straining to change the angle of his head, Johnny felt one of the shirt’s buttons nestled against his chin. Forcing his mouth open, he pressed his face down and sunk his teeth into fabric and the flesh beneath it.
Scott’s body jerked in pain and surprise, a high pitched squeal issued from his mouth. Before the brothers could separate they were rolling down the hill. Grunts and groans floated on the late night air, the tall dry grass whispered in raspy protest as it swayed and parted, leaving a visible flattened path as they careened downward, bouncing as they hit bumps, rocks and dips in the landscape.
Finally the wild ride ended at the steps of a large wooden deck. They hit the structure with a loud thud and rolled apart. Stunned, the boys didn’t see the approach of ground level blinking lights until they appeared right between their faces. The unmistakable sound of a rifle cocking drew their attention from the twinkling lights on the small sneakers, up to the bright red shirt that proclaimed in white text, ‘I’m not short, I’m fun sized’, and finally stopping not even five feet up from the ground to the indomitable face of the lady in possession of the weapon. They knew from the intel photos this had to be Kit. After all how many rifle toting, blinking sneaker wearing, less than five feet tall fun sized grandmas could there be in Wisconsin?
Giggling nervously, Johnny sat up, brushing his hands off against his thighs, reaching out he helped Scott right himself. “Happy Birthday, Kit,” they called in unison.
With a crotchety squint, she motioned at them with the barrel end of the rifle, “What’s so damn happy about it?” Her cigarette bounced as she spoke but stuck to her bottom lip nonetheless. She wheezed; sucking in a deep breath, and then coughed out a blue gray smoke ring.
Scott nudged Johnny to take the lead, since it was a well known fact women, old or young, couldn’t resist the boy’s charm.
Swallowing with an audible gulp, Johnny removed his ruck sack and pulled an item out; the moonlight glinted off the pale cans. “We brought Cheerwine!” He scooted closer to his brother as Kit licked her lips at the revelation.
Scott delved into the depths of his sack and produced two packages, “And we brought Maria’s homemade Chocolate chunk brownies and double stuff Oreos to the celebration.”
Shouldering the rifle and grinning as the brothers struggled to their feet, Kit announced, “Hear tale you got naked at Corky’s celebration…why don’t we take this party in the house?” Snickering evilly, she added, “You know how detrimental the cold can be to…err… presentation.”
The three climbed the steps in silence, the brothers exchanging curious glances and shrugging their shoulders. Into the house they marched, as the door clicked shut, Kit was heard asking, “You know that song, Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy?”
~*~ L ~*~ A ~*~ N ~*~ C ~*~ E ~*~ R ~*~
Murdoch Lancer was beside himself. He sat on the couch in the Great Room, the first aid kit on the coffee table; a bottle of peroxide in his hand. “You’ll need to open that shirt wider, Scott,” he said.
The blond did as instructed; his eyes narrowing as he speared his younger brother with a particularly hard glare. He winced as his father slapped the damp gauze against his skin, hearing the fizz.
Johnny was fidgiting on the couch, trying to get comfortable. Not the easiest thing the way his ass end was feeling. He returned his brother’s glare with a matching frown, which was turning into a pout. His right leg was dancing.
“Sit still!” Murdoch ordered, using his free hand to smack his younger son’s knee. Sam’s right , he thought darkly. I need my head examined, turning these two loose together.
Johnny’s pout deepened. “Kinda hard to sit still with my ass feelin’ it’s on fire,” he grouched. “Jesus! It’s not like I shot ‘im or anything!”
Murdoch’s face flamed a bright red. “You BIT you brother!” he roared.
“And if you think that little love tap I gave you when you walked through the door is bad, I want you to know it’s nothing compared to what’s going to happen if you don’t clean up that mouth.” He turned back to Scott, muttering; more to himself than his sons. “Send you out on two simple missions for an old friend, and you practically manage to start World War III. I don’t know how I’m going to explain this to Hardwick.” He looked up; first at Scott, and then at his youngest. “You do remember I told you Prate’s son is an ex Army Ranger.” The words sounded like a veiled threat.
Johnny leaned back against the cushions, his arms crossed tightly at his chest. “Anybody else in the world would send a fuckin’ singin’ telegram,” Johnny sulked. “But not our Old Man! He puts our asses…”
Scott inhaled sharply as his father patted the bandage against his chest; hard. He was almost feeling sorry for Johnny.
Murdoch reached out with his strong right arm and pulled his younger son from the couch; effectively immobilizing the boy across his lap. Five solid whacks across the youth’s behind were more than sufficient to settle the younger man down. He turned the boy loose and began applying tape to his elder son’s chest. “I’m going to give the two of you one more chance to complete a mission without a SNAFU,” he said; scoring the adhesive tape with his thumb nail before making the tear. “Something an idiot could accomplish.”
Scott’s eyebrows rose suspiciously as he swung his gaze to his brother. ” That idiot?” he snarled and buttoned his shirt.
Murdoch was nodding. “Yes,” he ground out. “That idiot. And you’ll be right there with him.”
Scott was not happy with the answer, and neither was Johnny. “What mission,” Johnny ground out. He was rubbing his rear end; something that caused him to change his attitude and his voice. “Sir,” he finished, respectfully.
Murdoch smiled. He actually loved Christmas even more than birthdays; and so did the majority of his friends. “Christmas greetings,” he said. “You are just going to be ringing a doorbell, singing one chorus of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, and handing out a basket of Lancer fruit and wine.”
The blond was suspicious, but willing to give his father the benefit of the doubt . Although he was thinking just how conveniently the last two missions he and Johnny had been sent on coincided quite nicely with his father’s weekend trysts with Aggie . He shook the thought away. “No camos, no night goggles? No having to remind Johnny he needs to be quiet?”
Murdoch nodded. “Civilian dress, ring the doorbell; get in, get out.”
Johnny wasn’t quite so sure. “No wadin’ through dog sh… crap?” he asked. His eyes widened. “No goin’ back to those two crazy women in South Carolina and Wisconsin?”
Scott’s eyes were thoughtful. “No going into anyone’s house?”
“The ladies are not on my Christmas list,” Murdoch pledged, “and you do not have to go into anyone’s house.”
The two brothers shared a look. How hard could it be? “All right,” they agreed in one voice.
Murdoch smiled. “I’ll give you all the details later,” he said, getting up. He gathered up the first aid supplies. “You can both go now,” he said solemnly.
The two young men took off like twin shots from the same pistol; Johnny slightly in the lead.
Murdoch was still grinning when he looked out the window. If he felt guilty in the deception, it didn’t show. The boys could leave shortly after Thanksgiving; and would be home the weekend before Christmas. After all, there were only 117 members of the Lancer Group that supported the Preserve’s charities. How hard could it be?
He picked up his cell and dialed Aggie Conway’s number. She came on right away. “About that three week cruise to Bahama, Aggie. I’ve reconsidered.” He laughed as he heard the excitement in her voice. “No, no, the boy’s won’t be a problem.
“There’re going to be very, very busy.”
~end~Happy Birthday to us, 667
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