tagTransgender & CrossdressersTales Sacred Band: Acceptance

Tales Sacred Band: Acceptance

byFinalStand©

*A house is where you stay; a home is where you live*

(Maybe in the not so distant future)

The 167th Air Special Operations Group was rolling off their transports as quickly as they could get the massive Globemasters on the runway. The men and women of this elite unit worked like a well-oiled machine. Lieutenant Cora Willows went through her checklist with her Chief Mechanic Debra Whitaker. So far so good, Cora thought.

"You'll do fine," Debra assured Lt. Willows. This was Cora's first mission with the unit and she'd only been training with the 167th for one month since she wrangled a transfer to them. Everyone in the Army knew that the 167th was the tip of the spear. They weren't called the Sacred Band for nothing. Their motto was simple: Never Fail.

The battalion Operations Officer came trotting over to Willows. Debra alerted Cora so that she turned around and saluted as the man came up. He looked smart in his fatigues and bright gold cravat; another one of the unit's trademarks. Cora would get to wear one after her first deployment.

"Willows," the man said in his falsetto voice, "we have some Rangers in trouble forty clicks north at a village called Pa'anga. You are running supplies and reinforcements in and pulling wounded out. There is still resistance in the area, so watch your ass."

"Booze, Bangs, and Bandages; understood," Willows responded with a grin. As flight commander she had to get her birds ready to go. She called up her other pilots and co-pilots for their briefing while Whitaker called over the lead logistics people.

Ten minutes later, four Blackhawks took off heading north. They were joined by three Apache who were along for moral support. The jungle and farmland spread rapidly beneath them. Five minutes from target Lt. Willows called up the Ranger Captain she was coming to help. Things had gotten hot about five minutes earlier where the local political militia was trying to make thing rough at the river crossing the Rangers were holding.

"Things look hot People," Lt. Willows informed her flight. "We are going to drop in from the east and drop onto that schoolyard. We'll do it one at a time. Howlawitz, you go in first, then Johnston, McElroy, and me. Sound off." Everyone did. Willows was surprised how calm she felt. Even when something pinged off her bird she handled with aplomb.

She had two birds empty and the third on the ground when her left side gunner screamed out, "RPG!"

Willows banked hard to the right and dove down. She counted the seconds but nothing went boom. Her co-pilot punched her in the arm.

"Quick reflexes there Willows," he joked. She was busy looking around. Another RPG arched up, but it wasn't aimed at her. They were shooting at the Apache that was dropping on their location. The RPG missed. The Apache's auto-cannon apparently didn't because no more fire came from that location.

The moment McElroy lifted off, Willows dropped into the schoolyard. For her it was textbook; the Rangers came in and pulled their replenishment off her helicopter without comment. When they were done a Ranger gave her the thumbs-up and she poured on the power. They were then moving back toward the airport without incident.

When she set down, she made quick equipment and personnel check before exiting her craft. Whitaker gave her a winning smile.

"I hear you dodged one," Whitaker grinned.

"Blame it on Ramirez," Willows breathed a sigh of relief. "They got a team in close to where we were dropping off. He spotted it as soon as they fired. All I did was drive the truck."

"Sounding like an old hand already; I'll put Ramirez in for something he doesn't already have, but you need to see the Old Man." Cora gulped. She wondered what she'd done wrong. She didn't have to wait long. Their battalion commander sat behind his desk. He looked up and gave Willows a studied look before reaching into a small metal box.

He pulled out two black silks strips. He handed them over to Lt. Cora Willows. Each had the name and rank of someone on it.

"These are the names of your predecessors. You have big boots to fill, but I think you will work out just fine. Whitaker says you are a quick study and are on top of everything."

"Thank you Sir," Willows said kind of choked up.

"We are the only Transgender unit in the US Army so we have to work twice as hard as everyone else. That is why we always want the hardest assignments. That is why we are the best because we can't afford to be anything but. Remember that next time you think things are too tough for you. This is not the only war we are fighting.

Back at the commandeered hanger her flight was using, Whitaker pulled Cora aside.

"What's wrong?" she asked Cora.

"I ... I think I fucked up by coming here. I don't think I'm worthy," Cora said as she handed the black silk clothes. Whitaker took them and nodded.

"I'll put them on your flight suit myself," she said.

"Did you know them?"

"Christian Norman ... yeah, I knew her. She's the woman you've replaced. She was a friend."

"Were you very ...close?" Cora had heard stories about the 167th but hadn't given them much credence until she looked into Whitaker's eyes. The woman was near to tears.

Cora found herself putting arm around her chief engineer.

"It will be okay," Whitaker sighed. "No one joins the Sacred Band for the retirement benefits." We all know what we are getting into. Now change and I'll fix your flight suit. You don't' want to be improperly dressed."

Willow slumped into her cot. She knew she stunk to high heavens. She'd flown five missions today in this tropical hell. All she wanted was a few hours of sleep. She removed her combat boots, peeled out of her flight suit and sat down in her semi-regulation underwear. Only then did she realize her second suit was lying on the bunk. She gingerly reached out and picked it up. On the cuffs were the two black bands.

She felt like a fraud staring down at those two pilots that had gone before her. They had earned their right to be counted as one of the elite. She looked up and saw Whitaker standing in the flap of the tent. Cora was suddenly very aware that her tent mate wasn't in attendance.

"Do you like the suit?" Whitaker asked.

"Yes, it's very well done. Thank you very much."

"I ... I'd like to say you've had very nice work done," Debra Whitaker muttered. It took Cora a second to realize what the Chief was talking about.

"Have a seat with me," Cora said. She scooted down the cot and patted on the locations she wanted Whitaker to sit in.

"Why did you come here, to the 167th?" Debra asked as she looked down at her hands.

"I'm a fighter and this unit fights," Cora answered lamely.

"I was David. Who were you?" Debra persisted still looking down.

"I don't like talking about that," Cora responded.

"You don't need to lie to me. You are a woman -- I mean you were born a woman," Debra sighed. Cora didn't know where to look.

"Are you going to turn me in?" was what she finally managed to say.

"No," Debra replied softly.

"Why?" Cora wondered aloud.

"I know what it is like, to hide. We all do. This unit is all about doing something the world doesn't think we can do. Why should we feel differently about you?"

"Thank you," Cora whispered.

"I also had two reasons. You are one hell of a leader. You work very hard to make your flight the best. You bring out the best in all of us. If you didn't, I would have busted you by now."

"What was the other reason?" Cora asked after several seconds of silence.

"I think I love you," Debra groaned. "I don't want to. I nearly fell apart when my first lover died."

What was she like?" Cora inquired quietly, "Or was your lover a he?"

"She was like me," Debra smiled weakly, making contact with Cora for the first time, "Shelia had been Steve and she was very beautiful and strong and fearless; a little like you."

"Oh."

"You aren't her though. You are not her replacement. She was loud and boisterous and very much in your face. You are much quieter and controlled, almost stoic. You also haven't tried to seduce me."

"I've never been with a woman before," Cora confessed. Debra reached out and put a hand on Cora's. Cora didn't pull away.

"If you want me to go, I'll go. Your secret is safe with me," Debra promised. Cora squeezed her hand back.

"I know." No one said anything for a minute.

"I had better get going," Debra said as she stood up to go. Cora didn't let go of her hand.

"I don't want you to go," Cora admitted with whispered words. She pulled Debra back down. A few moments later Debra half turned to say something to Cora when she saw the flyer's face closing in. It was a very awkward kiss or an attempt at one. Debra smiled.

"You really aren't very good at this, are you?" Debra stated. Cora shook he head.

"How many different men have you kissed?" Debra inquired.

"Three."

How many men have you had sex with?" Debra continued to ask.

"One guy a few times in high school," Cora confessed.

"Wow, you are practically a virgin," Debra grinned and touched Cora's ear, neck and chin.

"You didn't ask me how many women I've been with," Cora asked confused.

"Honey, it is obvious you've never been with a woman," Debra chuckled.

"Ouch," Cora cringed.

"It isn't so bad," Debra said before she leaned in to show Cora what a real kiss was. "You are a quick learner and you take instruction well. I've been watching you."

"Do you like what you've seen," Cora responded coyly.

"Let me show you how much I like," Debra purred as she pressed Cora back on her bed.

(Two days later)

"The Marines will be arriving in twelve hours. Unfortunately the side we are here to support has fallen completely apart and the Nationalist are pressing down on our positions. We've got a Ranger company at Kamatang we need to pull out ASAP. We've been tapped for the job," Battalion Major Michael Morrison said.

"Mellon, Lincoln, Engels, Willows -- go in that order. Willows, you get tail end Charlie this time out. Can you handle it?"

"Sir, if I can't read the enemies rank insignia I'm not getting close enough," she grinned. That bought a circle of smiles.

"Cho and LaSalle will be flying cover."

"We'll keep their heads down, Captain Cho assured the Blackhawk pilots.

"You are rolling in ten. Bring those Rangers home."

"Never Fail!" they chorused.

Willows leaned in close to Whitaker. "This is the Army you are going against," Whitaker whispered.

"We'll sneak in and be out before anyone is the wiser," Willows assured her lover. "I don't plan to be a hero. I'm coming back to you. You promised me some R&R in San Diego after all."

Whitaker took off her cravat and pressed it into Willow's hand.

"I have a bad feeling about this one," Whitaker persisted. Willows took it and shoved it in her suit than gave her a quick and careful hug.

"I promise you I'll be back before you know it."

"SAM!" her co-pilot shouted. He needn't have bothered. Cora was already banking as hard as the craft would allow. The SAM wasn't even aimed at her anyway. It was aimed at Captain Cho and his craft disintegrated in mid-flight. The radio went nuts call signs. Cora was bouncing off the treetops, but despite that she saw the second SAM coming right at her. All she could do was roll the Blackhawk to take the blow in her belly.

"We are coming around," McElroy called out over the headset, waking her up.

"No," Willows ground out. "Stay on target. You can't get me and get them out. Rangers first; Never Fail." She twisted painfully around in her seat. Ramirez and Deeds were shredded.

"Sir ..."

"We'll have to hang around for the next ride out," she lied. She reached out for her co-pilot but he didn't have a pulse. She tried to move but she screamed when she tried to move her legs. They were definitely broken. She didn't seem to be bleeding. Somewhere out there she heard voices coming her way. They weren't Americans. "Tell Whitaker ... tell her I'm sorry."

Cora sighed and reached for her MP-5. The Sacred Band had another, unspoken, tradition. It dated back to the days of Alexander of Macedonia. The Sacred Band would fight, they would retreat but they would never surrender. She grabbed the co-pilot's firearm, turned off both safeties, and placed one in her lap. She sat very still head cocked to the side, visor down so they couldn't see her eyes. She let them get in really close before she opened fire.

"Yes Chief Whitaker?" Major Morrison said his subordinate as she came up.

"She wasn't one of us," the mechanic whispered. The last of their equipment was being loaded into the Globemasters under the watchful gaze of the US Marine Aviation.

"Are you referring to the fact that she was born a woman?"

"You knew Sir?" Whitaker asked.

"Of course I knew. This is my unit. Being in the Sacred Band isn't a matter of flesh it is a matter of spirit. She was one of us and we'll make sure the next one who dares to take her place knows that."

"Thank you Sir," Whitaker sighed. It was a terrible heartache for Whitaker, to have loved two women and then losing them both. She owed it to them to make sure the next pilot would live up to their memory.

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