"Alright, listen up," Garrison ordered as he entered the large dormitory where the four cons who made up his team were enjoying some downtime after a hectic two weeks of activity on the continent.
"Not another bleeding mission," Goniff moaned as he watched Garrison place a brief case on the opposite end of the table to where he was sitting writing a letter to his mum. "We just got back from the last ruddy one Warden."
"Yeah Warden, the limey's right. Why can't someone else do this one? You'd think we were the only commando team in England." Casino complained as he moved from his cot to stand next to Goniff and peer over his shoulder to see what he was writing.
"'Ey bugger off Casino, this is private it is, between me and my mum." Goniff snapped as he hurriedly covered his letter with his hand.
"Just how private can it be when the damn army censors everything we write you dummy. Ever wondered how many other people get to read your letter before your mum does?" Casino demanded.
"I feel I must also protest this lack of consideration from the army Craig," Actor added quickly before Goniff could think of a suitable retort to Casino's statement. "How do they expect us to keep performing at our best when they give us no time recover between missions?"
Garrison sighed; he couldn't really blame them, after all he felt the same way. The Army seemed to send them on every conceivable mission irrespective of its relevance to the war effort or not while other teams, and he knew of several, were given a weeks leave after each mission. He tried to kid himself it was because his team was the best, which they were; they had a higher success rate than any other team and only one casualty. Oh there had been injuries and some of them serious but they had always survived. No it wasn't because they were the best but because they were expandable in the Army's eyes. They were cons, although he wasn't quite sure where he fitted into the Army's thinking, but the rest of them were cons pure and simple and nobody cared about cons.
"Do you have anything to add Chief?" Garrison queried tiredly with a raised eyebrow.
Chief pursed his lips, "Just what they said," he replied with a shrug.
"The Army knows we're not the only commando team in England, Casino," Garrison continued.
"But we're the only expendable ones," Chief added quietly.
The other cons stopped their bickering and stared at Chief as his words registered.
"The damn Indian's right. Well, they can send another team this time because I'm not going," Casino retorted with arms firmly folded across his chest as he glared at Garrison, daring the man to object.
Garrison sighed; he was too damn tired to play either Casino's or the army's games any longer. "They are sending another unit, and we're going too, no buts about it."
The cons all looked up with undisguised interest at Garrison's words. They had never worked with another team before unless you counted the numerous resistance groups they assisted, but always then Garrison was in charge.
"Blimey, two teams. Must be something really big and important, right Warden?" Goniff prodded. "Who is this other team anyway and who's going to be in charge? I mean most of the brass don't like working with us cons they don't. They don't think we're civilized enough for them, they don't."
"Goniff have you finished yet," Garrison interrupted as the second story man took a breath.
"Goniff does have a point Craig," Actor interceded before Goniff could launch into speech again. "Who is this other team and who is going to be in charge?"
"As each team has its own objective and will be working two miles apart, Captain Mosby and I will each be responsible for our own men." Garrison smiled as the men around him let out a collective sigh of relief. It was not dissimilar to the one he had released in the major's office when responsibility for the teams was discussed.
"Alright now are we finished?" Garrison looked around the table receiving nods of confirmation before he continued. "Good now listen. We'll be heading out tomorrow night for Reims. The Germans have a munitions factory here," Garrison pointed to a spot on the map laid out on the table. It will be Mosby's responsibility to see that this factory is destroyed. At the same time that his team takes out the factory we will be here," again Garrison pointed to the map only this time several inches further away from the original spot, "and using the fireworks from the factory as a cover to infiltrate the local German headquarters to steal the plans to a new anti-aircraft gun they are developing. Any questions?"
"This other team, they any good?" Casino demanded. "Because I'm not trusting my life to just anybody."
"Yeah Casino's right. What 'appens if they foul up?" Goniff asked worriedly.
"Then we'll deal with it," Garrison replied.
"Like we always do," Chief offered quietly, flicking his knife into his hand with a snap of his wrist.
"Are we going to meet this other team Craig?" Actor enquired with some misgivings.
"Yes, they'll be here in an hour." Garrison answered as he gathered up the map and mission orders.
"'Ere," yelped Goniff, "What are they coming 'ere for?"
"Because we're in lock down until the mission starts and the major thought it was best if both teams stayed here for security reasons." Garrison explained off handedly. "And that means no sneaking out to the Doves tonight." Garrison glared at each man in turn until he had an affirmative nod from them all.
"Where are they staying Warden? Casino demanded.
"Captain Mosby will be staying in the mansion and his men will billet in the barracks with the other enlisted men."
"Did you say Mosby, Craig, that wouldn't be the Mosby of Mosby's Raiders would it?" Actor asked curiously.
Garrison nodded, "that's what his team is called," he confirmed suspiciously as he eyed Actor. "Why, do you know him?"
Actor shook his head, "only by reputation."
"Oh yeah and what reputation would that be?" Casino glared at Actor across the table.
Actor shrugged, "word has it that this Captain Mosby is a descendant of one of your civil war Colonel's, a John S Mosby. He organized and commanded a group of men, much like the partisans, known as Mosby's Rangers or Raiders. Captain Mosby has patterned his team on that of his Great Grandfather and with some success.
"You mean to say I'm supposed to put my trust in some guy who thinks living back in the eighteen hundreds is the way to win this war?" Casino growled, "well no way babe."
"Why not Casino," Goniff interrupted. "You let Chiefy 'ere take point all the time and you trust 'im to keep you safe and 'Ee predates this 'ere Colonel Mosby 'Ee does. Or at least his people do. No offense Chiefy." Goniff hurriedly added as Chief raised an eyebrow and stared at the little Englishman before giving him a one finger salute and nod.
Actor rolled his eyes in frustration. "That is not what I mean Casino. I purely stated that he has modeled his team on the original team. If you read your history books Casino you would know that Colonel Mosby's team carried out lightning fast raids, with a minimum of casualties and as much disruption as possible to the enemy. By all accounts this Captain Mosby uses the same techniques on the Germans with some success."
"So where did this 'ere Colonel Mosby come from Actor?" Goniff asked.
"I believe it was Virginia, Goniff."
"Damn red necks," Casino muttered, "I'm telling you now, no good is going to come of this mission."
"You can't really be serious Major Richards. You don't seriously expect my men and I to work with a bunch of convicted criminals do you?" Tom Mosby demanded as soon as the door closed on the retreating form of Lieutenant Garrison. "We're more than capable of completing both parts of the mission on our own."
"You have your orders Captain and I expect you to follow them. Garrison's team might be unconventional but they're damn good at what they do." Richards replied sharply. "The idea of sending in two teams to attack both objectives simultaneously was so that neither of you had to split your forces and weaken your defenses. You're a strategist Tom; surely you can see the benefits of doubling your forces in this instance."
Mosby straightened his shoulders, "Yes Sir, but can't you send in another team instead of them?"
Richards drew in a deep breath, he couldn't blame Mosby for his feelings; after all he had had the same misgivings when Garrison's team had first been recruited but over the past six months he had come to respect the men for their abilities in the field. They were trouble makers, no denying that. He already had an inch thick file on their shenanigans in England but as far as he was now concerned there wasn't a team he'd rather go on a mission with. And that was a lesson he had learned the hard way. "They're going. Give them a chance Mosby. They might just surprise you."
"I doubt it Sir," Mosby replied curtly.
Richards glared at the Captain for a moment before returning to the brief on his desk. "That will be all Captain. Report to the Mansion as ordered; Garrison and his men will be waiting for you."
Mosby snapped off a salute and spun on his heel marching from the office in annoyance. He'd show Richards and those damn Gorillas who was the better team. The Raiders didn't need help from anyone and especially a bunch of convicts. By the time Mosby had returned to his barracks and collected his men he had a plan formulating.
"Alex what do you know about a commando team loosely referred to as Garrison's Gorillas?" Mosby asked as his men joined him around the table.
Sergeant Alex Davies shrugged. "They're all convicts, except for Lieutenant Garrison of course, freed by the army to carry out special missions using their illicit talents. If they survive the war they get their paroles to a free life. There's an Italian conman, an English pick pocket and second story man, the safe cracker and demolitions man is an Italian descent New Yorker and the wheel man is a Native American but I'm not sure which tribe. Word has it he's also a killer and an expert with a blade. From all reports they're good, really good. Why are you asking Tom?"
"Because that damn Major Richards is sending us on a mission with them."
"We're what?" Corporal Jimmy Blake asked in disgust.
"You heard," Mosby snapped. "We have to blow up this munitions factory in Reims tomorrow night." Mosby pointed to the map, "While they break into the local German headquarters and steal the plans to a new anti aircraft gun the Germans are developing."
"We can do that," Private Casey Durrant boasted, "We don't need their help, we've done plenty of those missions before."
"Did the Major say why we had to work with them Cap?" Private William Brown asked.
Mosby nodded, "Yeah both objectives are to be hit at the same time. Garrison uses the cover of the destruction of the factory to get into the headquarters."
"Makes sense," Alex noted reasonably. "That way one team isn't spread too thinly on the ground."
"Whose damn side are you on," Mosby demanded. "They're criminals for Christ sake. Thieves, murderers and conmen."
Alex held up his hands in defense. "All I'm saying is that Richards' reasoning for sending in two teams makes sense. We're only five men. If we separated nobody would have any back up. A second team makes sense on a mission like this."
"Yeah, but not back up from a bunch of cons. Can't they send another team Cap?" Blake demanded.
"Apparently not Jimmy," Mosby grated. "Pack your bags, we leave in an hour."
"Where are we going Cap?" Casey asked. "I thought we were in lock down until the mission starts."
Mosby grunted, "We'll be spending it at Garrison's headquarters. Some place called The Mansion, of all things."
"You're joking right? You don't really expect us to stay in the same place as them Cap." Blake laughed harshly.
"Look I don't like it any more than you do Blake but those are our orders. Anyway I don't know what you lot are worried about, you get to stay in the enlisted barracks; I have to stay in the main house with Garrison and his men."
"You mean they don't stay in the barracks, but in some fine fancy house?" Williams asked.
Mosby shrugged, "That's what Garrison said. Now get ready, we leave in…" Mosby checked his watch, "fifty minutes." Mosby watched as his men headed for the door. "Don't worry boys; I have a plan that may just be the end of the Gorillas."
"What sort of a plan Tom?" Alex asked suspiciously.
"I'll tell you in the car," Mosby replied absently as he packed up the map.
Alex closed the door behind him, shaking his head worriedly, not liking his commander's tone. He had heard quite a lot about the four men who made up the Gorillas and he had a healthy respect for their abilities. They weren't considered the top team in England for no reason. Some of the capers they had pulled off over the past six months were legendary and he knew it was only because of their 'civilian professions' that they had succeeded. He doubted that the Raiders could have been as successful had they been given those missions. The Cap was pure army, hell his entire family was army, and all those before them. The Raiders were even fashioned after his Great Grandfather's unit back in the American Civil War. As far as he was concerned the army was only for career soldiers like himself and Blake.
Blake was another one of Mosby's mould. His family also had a long and distinguished presence in the armed forces dating back to the American Civil War. Both men were sticklers for army procedure and didn't particularly like the 'new breed' of enlisted men who had been forced to sign up with the outbreak of war. At least, Alex thought, he had chosen the army as a career and had joined the services before war was declared. He had earned his stripes, the hard way, serving in North Africa where as a corporal he had been forced to take command of his unit when his sergeant and lieutenant had succumbed to German fire.
Neither Casey nor Will had any prior knowledge of the army before enlisting and Alex still wasn't sure why Mosby had accepted them into his unit. They were good kids, young but they both learnt fast, they had to in order to survive the missions, but there were plenty of other more experienced and qualified men better suited to the life of a commando. Perhaps it was because, like Mosby and Blake, they were Virginians.
Alex sighed as he entered his room; he had a bad feeling that this mission was going to end in disaster and not just for the Germans.