Captain Cathy Harper stood behind the left door gun, moving it nervously from side to side as she scanned the half mile or so of empty road that stretched out in front of her. She could hear CWO2 Johnson and the crew chief, SGT Grimes, talking as they moved around on the top of the UH-60, carefully pouring their reserve cans of hydraulic fluid one by one into the rotor system. That and the duct tape Grimes had wrapped around the leaking hydraulic line would, she hoped, be enough to get them back to the SF detachment they had left shortly before the rotor began to ran dry . Ten minutes flying time, at worst, she figured. She felt frustrated at her lack of control in this situation. She was the aircraft commander, but it was Johnson and Grimes who had decided what need to be done without any reference to her. Her only contribution had been to see to their security by sending PFC Williams to the bend in the road to guard the southern road approach while she manned Grimes’ door gun and watched the northern road approach.
Cathy took off her flight helmet and ran her hand through her short blonde hair. The more she thought about this, the angrier she became. All her life men had been doing things for her, regardless of whether or not she wanted them done. While Johnson hadn’t said anything quite so crude as , " Don’t worry your pretty little head about this" , that had been his attitude, and she hated it. Her physical beauty- the blonde hair, the high cheekbones, the sky blue eyes, and the full, naturally pouting lips- had always had that effect on men. Having been born with that natural beauty, she took it for granted. Cathy wanted to be judged on her abilities and intelligence, which she had in abundance - along with a strong, even selfish, will, the result of a rather spoiled childhood as the only child of a career Army officer and his equally career oriented Army wife. Rather than follow her Mother’s desires that she marry a promising young man and produce children, Cathy intended to follow in the footsteps of her deceased father. She had joined the Army after college ROTC, taking a commission with the rather naive idea that as an Army officer she would be judged on her merits alone by her male counterparts. To her surprise and disappointment, she found that males in uniform were much like those in civilian clothes. Most couldn’t see beyond the size of her bust line and tended to fall all over themselves every time she smiled, to include some nominally married senior officers. Cathy could have coasted through her years as a junior officer by simply relying on her looks. Instead, she entered upon nothing less than a crusade to be taken seriously as an officer despite her beauty. She chose a difficult specialty, Army aviation , and earned her wings as a helicopter pilot. After less than three years service, half on flight status and half on staff, she had already been promoted to Captain and given command of an aviation company, a plum position for any ambitious young officer. The fact that she at age twenty-five commanded men who were older and far more experienced than she was both a source of great pride to her and a source of some discomfort. But, unlike many of her male peers, she continually made an effort to improve herself professionally. She put in very long hours at work rather than socializing with the other officers at the officer’s club. In fact, she tried to avoid the club altogether if she could. She found it frustrating to be treated as a sex object by men she wanted to respect her as a fellow officer. As with her beauty, the fact that she had always had male admiration led her to place little value on it. Cathy refused to date other officers when she dated at all, a rule which earned her the nickname of the " Ice Queen’ among her male peers. What free time she had, Cathy put in at the gym. Determined to literally pull her own weight in any situation, she built up the strength of her five foot, seven inch body with as much zeal as she pursued her career. She found that she enjoyed the time she spent in the gym. The physical effort and even pain body building demanded were strangely fulfilling to Cathy, as much if not even more so than her professional duties. which had previously dominated her life. But this was a satisfaction that was physical, even sensual, rather than intellectual though. Her body never felt more alive, more satisfied, than after a punishing workout. However, if she had thought that developing her body would change the way men looked at her, she was again mistaken. The end results of her labors tended to quicken rather than cool men’s ardor. Her workouts added muscle mass to fill out Cathy’s already shapely legs and arms while producing an impossibly tight, round butt and a flat hard stomach. It made her muscular, but not in any way masculine. Her physical development, when combined with Cathy’s strikingly beautiful face and her 35 inch breasts, seemed perversely to intensify her femininity, making her even more strikingly attractive. The effect was quite noticeable since, as a side effect of the almost sexual pleasure these workouts provided, Cathy showed fewer and fewer qualms about displaying her new body. As Cathy’s workout outfits grew smaller , the post gym experienced a steady increase in male patrons. Once again, she found herself taken as a sex object instead of a comrade by her peers. Eventually, Cathy was forced to buy a membership at a local gym off post in order to have some privacy in her workouts. Even chopping off her long hair for a short pixie cut to present a more "professional" appearance could not made Cathy look any less feminine or lessen the attraction men instinctively felt for her. All of which was a source of some frustration for Cathy. Just as she was for perhaps the millionth time thinking of the unfairness of it, her train of thought was interrupted by the sound of a single gun shot. Before she could locate its source, there was second, louder explosion. A blinding flash rolled over her. Then it seemed to Cathy as if a giant hand had picked her up and thrown her backwards out of the aircraft. She hit the ground hard, the air knocked out of her. Then darkness replaced the light of the flash imprinted on her retina as unconsciousness engulfed her.
The attack had gone exactly as Kehalis had hoped. As is the case with any good ambush, the enemy had been defeated by the first volley. The RPG men had both done their work well. The first RPG shot had struck the top of the helicopter just at the feet of the two men working there, literally dissolving them from the waist down with the blast of the RPG‘s shaped charge. Designed to destroy a tank, the grenade’s charge had also shredded the top of the helicopter and ignited the craft’s fuel tanks, engulfing what was left of the two men in a funeral pyre. The machinegunner inside the aircraft had been more fortunate. Kehalis watched as that gunner was blown out of the open door on the opposite side of the aircraft. The uniformed figure hit the ground hard. He lay still, face down in the dust. The American guarding the road had suffered a similar fate, killed by a single round from the second RPG. Even though his body armor could - and did- stop AK bullets from penetrating , the exploding rocket grenade had reduced the man’s left leg to a bloody stump. He lay unmoving next to his machinegun. Kehalis left the Arab to make his own slow way down the hillside and joined his men as they raced recklessly down the steep slope to loot the defeated enemy. Most raced for the machinegun at the road bend. Kehalis moved toward the apparently dead American lying by the helicopter, drawn as much by the sight of the figure‘s blonde hair as by any prospect for loot. By the time Kehalis reached the body, the flames from the burning copter had almost reached the feet of the motionless figure. Kehalis grabbed a handful of the soldier’s uniform and hauled the inert figure away from the flames so that he could examine - and loot- the body in safety. He stood for a moment over the unconscious figure, which lay on its face. He could see by the slight movement of the chest that the American still lived. That, Kehalis knew, would have to be changed. They had no interest in taking prisoners. Using the barrel of his AK, he turned the American over onto his back. What he saw then took his breath away. Nothing he had experienced in his years of fighting prepared him for this. While the bulky, armor encased torso could have been that of a small man, the face and the hair were clearly those of a woman. A very beautiful woman. The sight of that female face froze him in his tracks, his AK half raised to deliver the coup de grace. Instead he simply stared at the woman lying at his feet, her fine features relaxed as if she were asleep. A woman fighter? This was something new given his exclusively masculine world of the religious school and the battlefield. It stirred something in him that he had never felt before. He was staring so intently at the woman’s halo of fine blonde hair, that he did not realize that the Arab had arrived beside him until the man spoke.
" Is this infidel still alive? God willing, I will kill him myself!"
When the Arab raised his little AK and pointed the muzzle at the woman, Kehalis grabbed the muzzle with his left hand and jerked it down.
" No! It is a woman! An Amerikan woman. We cannot just kill a woman. What shall we do?"
The Arab stared first at him and then at the uniformed figure on the ground, his confusion evident in his face. Before he replied, he knelt beside the body to confirm that this indeed was a woman. Since the heavy ceramic protective vest covered her breasts in a hard shell, the Arab thrust the palm of his hand against the vee of her open legs, searching for evidence of her sex. He found it and nodded to Kehalis. She was indeed a woman, and, though her uniform hid her body as effectively as any burkha, she was, if he could judge by her unveiled face, a very beautiful woman. The Arab checked the pulse at her slender neck. It was strong. He decided that she could not be seriously injured; there was, after all, no blood visible on her except for some small cuts on her face. She appeared to him to simply have been stunned by the blast from the RPG round. He stood and faced Kehalis again, his mind racing, trying to accept what his eyes and hands had told him. Once he managed to comprehend that they had indeed captured an American Army woman, it did not take the Arab long to decide what was to be done with her. Even this situation had been foreseen and provided for by Islamic law. And the Law was quite specific. Slowly a wolfish smile came to his face.
" What shall we do? WE shall do as the Qur’an commands. Is it not written that all women outside marriage are forbidden unto you .......save those whom your right hand possesses. She has been taken by the right hand.... taken in battle. And she is an unbeliever, is she not? By the Holy Law, she is now a slave. My slave. As the Prophet , blessed be his name, took Raihana by his right hand from the Bani Quraiza, so I do take this American whore by my right hand from the infidel Ameriken Army. She is now my slave to do with as I will. "
While Kehalis could find no flaw in the Arab’s interpretation of the holy law, for he knew that it was so written and that the words were as true today as in the time of the Prophet. . He did, however, have another objection.
" Yes, it is right that she be a slave, since she has been delivered into the hands of the Faithful by God the all merciful. But why should you be the only one to possess her? It was agreed that what was taken on this raid would be shared among all of us. She should be shared among us."
If the Arab was worried by this sudden resistance to his orders from the previously obedient Kehalis, neither his face nor his words showed it.
" Fool... Fatherless Son of a Pi dog! How can you divide a woman into eleven shares? Only one may possess her. She is my slave because I command here. Were those not the orders of your Mullah?"
For a moment, Kehalis’ eyes flashed . But that passed quickly to be replaced by what appeared to be the obedient Kehalis the Arab had grown used to. While in his heart, Kehalis refused to accept the Arab’s possession of the woman, he knew this was not the best time to dispute it. She should be his since he had commanded the attack on the unbelievers. But he would bide his time until he had his tribesmen at his back. Then he would settle ownership of this blonde woman.
" We should not be standing here arguing. It is too dangerous. There will be more Amerikans here soon. We must seek a place to hide from their eyes. We can talk more of the woman later, when we are safe."
" You are right about the need to leave this place. Get the men together. Have two carry my new slave until she can walk. Now, let us make haste, God willing." Kehalis did as he was ordered. But first he took the time to search the American woman himself. He found and pocketed the 9mm pistol she carried in a shoulder holster. He cast aside the survival vest she wore over her protective vest, where it was eagerly snatched up and its contents looted by one of his men. Then he stripped off the heavy armor vest she wore. He looked at the protective vest with envy, but after a moment’s thought discarded it as too heavy. He unzipped the flight jacket and began to run his hands over her torso. He felt uncomfortably aware of the Arab watching him, but there was no objection from him. The woman was wearing a baggy one piece flight suit which completely covered her body. He could see nothing of her shape through her uniform, but he could feel her body underneath. He ran his hands over her torso as he ostensibly searched her for weapons. Her body felt surprisingly firm, at least until her reached her breasts. Her breasts felt soft and full, warm to his touch even through her uniform. He was close enough to smell her fragrance as he ran his hands over her body. An arousing, intoxicating scent lingered about her, one unlike anything he had ever experienced before. He felt his cock harden involuntarily as he crouched above her, her musk filling his nostrils, her warmth against his hands. His hands moved downward, discovering again the firmness of her body, exploring her by touch alone as a blind man would. She stirred as his hands ran over her body. She was beginning to regain consciousness. Reluctantly he took his hands off her. He noticed that she wore soft gloves which were the same brownish green as her uniform. He stripped these off her hands, revealing slender white hands, the nails at the tips of her fingers painted a bright red. Kehalis brought the gloves to his face; he could smell her scent on them. Rising, he quickly slipped the gloves into his pocket as he turned to get his men moving.
Two men, one on either side of her, supported Cathy as they left the site of the ambush. With Kehalis leading, the Arab’s band climbed slowly upward, heading for a cave used long ago as a hiding place for the mujahideen which lay a valley away. A place which Kehalis knew about from years ago when he had fought against the Northern Alliance. There they could hide from the American forces.