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The Klingon chetvI'
Kriegjournal #2

Back in the day.

When I was first playing paintball, in the late 80's, the field we used was fairly large; comprising much of the area around the Heidelberg Exit of Route 79. It encompassed all the space behind the K-Mart (or Hills or whatever it is now) all the way back past the Interchange. It had paths, roads, fields, culverts, streams, swamps, you name it. It had a large open field with tall weeds that, in the morning fog after a night of rain looked like a South-East Asian rice paddy.

So, for this particular game we were playing a "Capture the Flag" scenario, a departure from our usual "Ambush/Counter-Ambush." My comrade Pete and I were moving around one side while the bulk of our team were moving around the other. We expected to find the flag (there was only one flag) in the center where a dirt "road" arced around and there was a large box, like one of those stumpy tandem trailers without the wheels but just a little smaller.

We had to cross the stream and, while I was able to balance my way across a fallen log and a half-submerged shopping cart, Pete was far too heavy for the cart to take his weight. Not wanting to spend too much time looking for a decent ford, he went waist deep through the water and muck, holding his gun above his head to keep the action dry.

As we came up into the open we saw the box. I'd guess it was about 8 feet high and 10 feet long. On the top was a refrigerator box with 4 Plexiglas viewports and 4 firing ports. The flag, of course, was hanging off of this pillbox.

Pete and I approached cautiously on our bellies behind a weed-topped embankment with the occasional wild shot from the pillbox. We expected the rest of the enemy team to be either in the trees behind the pillbox or in the treeline on the other side of the road. A good place to pincer our team if they came up the road.

                                 to swamp
        TTTTTTTTTTT            .     . T?TT
    .              ___         .     .  TTT
      .           |   |        .     .  TTT
        .         | O |Pillbox .     .  TTT
.          .      |___|       .      .  TTT
   .           . . . . . . .         .  TTT
::   .                        road  .    TT
 :::::                            .       T
     :::::::::::   . . . . . . .
< to stream    ::::::
                o o               to field
           Pete/   \Geis          \/ 

Pete was armed with a Sheridan PMI pump with a shoulder stock and a 4x scope on it. I was armed with a Splatmaster. There was about 40 or 50 feet of barren ground between us and the pillbox. It was also suspected that at least several enemy troops were in the trees along the road or behind the pillbox. It was a very bad situation to be in. "I'm gonna go for it," I said to Pete as I tucked the Splatmaster in my belt at the small of my back.

As I ran for the box, Pete got up on his knees and started providing covering fire. I hit the stack of cinderblocks that was at the base of the box and reached up with both hands to the box's edge. I pulled myself up and once I got one elbow over the edge I reached behind to pull my gun, surprised that I had made it that far without getting nailed but fully expecting to be taking a paintball in the face. A serious thing considering that, at the time, we were only playing with shop goggles, not the full face affairs that are required today.

Here I was with one shot in the gun and my head completely exposed about 5 feet away from the firing port. My only protection was a pair of goggles and my opponent was behind a barrier with only a 2 inch diameter firing port. An impossible situation. But then, the impossible has a way of happening.

Out spills Paula from the pillbox, spitting paint from her mouth. Pete had been providing covering fire, intending to cover over the Plexiglas viewport with paint when he realized that his gun was pretty accurate with the 4x scope. He started firing for the gun port and one ball exploded on the very edge of the firing port, sending paint into the open mouth of the defender, Paula, who was looking through the glass.

It was only then that 3 enemy troops broke from the trees and rushed us, attempting to keep us from recovering the flag. Pete was able to cut two of them down before they made it half way across he road and I was able to drop the third.

The rest of our team had been mucking about in a firefight in the swamp. We took 10 or 15 minutes just to find what had happened to them after we had the flag. Like I said, this was a large field. So large that we couldn't hear the firefight happening from as far away as they were.

On another day:

I was involved in a firefight under the Interstate itself. There was a concrete embankment that extended down uner the highway to a stream. Two of the enemy were down on a brush-covered island and I scrambled down the concrete embankment to take cover behind a support collumn. With Pete up above with his Sheridan PMI pinning them down and me taking shots with my Splatmaster, we eventually got them both.

When the battle was over and I was trying to get out of the stream bed, I was using a small fallen tree in an attempt to climb the embankment. I slipped, let go, and slid back down. My clothes protected just about everything but my wrists which still carry the scars.

And on yet another occasion, I was moving out of some high weeds. There was a firefight going on down in the swamp that was going bad for our team and we were pulling back to try to get across the road to some trees for cover. Just as I stepped out of the weeds onto the road I nearly ran into Tim. I had just about enough time to register that he was on the opposing team when he fired from the hip at arms length. His snap shot caught me on the point of my cheek, breaking my goggles. It left a glorious welt that turned into a faint scar.

Now, before you get all concerned about the dangers of paintball, realize that this was back during the early days when there were no referees and no rules limiting muzzle velocity or requiring full face masks. We cranked the pressure up as high as we could, threw on a pair of shop goggles and played hard to the point of wressling one another when guns ran out of air or paint. Even so, paintball back then was much less injury-prone than most other mainstream sports including baseball, bowling and even fishing. Today, it's even safer than that. -- Revised: 27 May 2002
Copyright © 2002 Kevin A. Geiselman