Castle Roland

Changing Connections

by Eric Aune

In Progress

Chapter 26

Published: 26 Jun 17

Changing Connections

Copyright © 2012 - 2017 by Eric Aune and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.
All Rights Reserved

Changing Connections LogoWhen they neared the building, Christina directed the sergeant around to the rear of the structure. She saw Gabe with some other UNIT members, fully armed and waiting to assist with the prisoners. The two officers were taken out of the car and held. Christina looked at the sergeant. "Sergeant Dahlgren. If you give us your word that you will behave until we have this mess straightened out, we will not have to secure you. I assure you we have a very good reason for our actions and they will become clear to you soon." She waited for a response. He looked around at the armed people that surrounded him, and inwardly he was shocked as he noticed that most of the 'soldiers' were just teenagers. He looked at his boss, who he could tell was steaming because he was glaring at all of them. Chris glanced at Barnes. "General, you need to settle down before you give yourself a stroke." She turned back to Dahlgren. "Sergeant?" He looked between the two officers and the armed soldiers and nodded. "I will not do anything." She smiled. "Thank you Sergeant. I assure you everything will be made clear. Gabe can you take our guests to their accommodations while we clean up a little bit." He nodded and waved for the guard to escort the prisoners inside.

Fifteen minutes later, the rest of the capture team arrived and went up to their rooms to remove their combat gear. Eve sent word to Christina to bring Ethan downstairs with her to the room set aside for the interrogation of the prisoners. When they got there, they saw Eve, Apollo, Logan, along with Gabe, George and Eric as guards on the two prisoners and the sergeant. Sergeant Dahlgren was sitting separate from the two officers. They saw that neither officer was gagged any longer and Barnes was yelling at Dahlgren. "Sergeant, why are your collaborating with these terrorists. You will be court martialed and since it is a time of war, I will make sure you are executed for treason! You will let me go immediately and maybe I won't demand your execution, just life in prison for kidnapping me and my aide."

Eve looked up at the three of them as they entered the room and she was surprised that Dylan was with them but shrugged it off. She had heard that the last such interrogation had been a bit hard on Ethan and maybe Dylan was there for moral support. "Good you're here. Now we can get started." When she looked at Barnes she gave him a stern look. "General, I've had about enough from you. If you don't shut your fucking mouth, I will have you gagged again." He sneered at her. "Who do you think you are other than a cripple?" He looked at Gabe. "Colonel, what are you playing at? You know what is going to happen. If you let us go now, I promise the death penalty will be off the table at your Court Martial." He suddenly found his head being pulled around to face Eve. She had moved her chair forward and had an iron grip on his chin. Her eyes were on fire and if she could have, he would be a pile of ash.

"General. You will address your questions to me. You will also answer all of my questions with complete honesty or it will be much harder on you." He shook his head free, at least that is what he told himself, when Eve released his face. He sneered at her. "What, you're going to torture me? Who do you think you are?"

"I'm the commander of this Special Forces unit. Gabe works for me. He met you earlier, because I didn't feel like having to deal with some stuffed shirt like you, but I guess I have to now. But don't worry, we'll get the answers we want, one way or another. I will repeat my request that you answer the questions truthfully. The last one of you that didn't, well let's say, he didn't fare too well." She glanced at Ethan and nodded. "Let's get started. We know that you both are part of the Army of God."

"What's that?" Eve looked at Ethan and gestured with her head to the sergeant. He nodded and a few moments later he shook his head. She gave him a little smile of satisfaction as she turned to face the sergeant. "Sergeant. The Army of God is sort of a shadow government. They are the root cause of all the troubles here in the U.S. They work behind the scenes, we're not sure how long, but we believe it has been going on for a very long time, so that they can get to where we are right now. Ashwood is more than likely part of their organization or at least they are completely behind him. From what we have found out so far, we believe they had hoped to bring about a theocratic dictatorship in the US with Ashwood at its head. They wish to remove all those who they believe are undesirable, which means anyone who will not follow their orders without question. We believe that they have waited for many years for everything to come together and they thought that they had the situation right where they needed it, for them to come out of the shadows when Ashwood became president. During his first term in office, he did everything that he could to erode the liberties of all U.S. citizens. When President Bryce announced his run in opposition, the Army of God knew that they needed to do something to stop that from happening. So Ashwood did everything he could to discredit him, calling him an international terrorist and trying to kill him, his family and the vice president and his family. Luckily we were able to stop him and saved them from Ashwood. Bryce won the election fairly, but as you probably know, if you've been paying attention to the news, Ashwood declared the election as null and void, set himself up as a dictator and the result is where we are now. Besides attempting to kill President Bryce and Vice President Reynolds, they have murdered thousands of innocent men, women and children. Some under direct orders of Ashwood, some, we think, by the order of the Army of God. When you joined the Air Force, you swore to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Right now Ashwood's forces are breaking that oath and we plan to teach them the error of their ways."

"And you have proof that General Barnes and Lieutenant Wilcox are part of that?" She nodded. "I can't show it to you yet, but yes we do."

"You see Sergeant, they have nothing. They don't know what they are talking about. There is no such thing as this Army of God. The U.S. doesn't have any shadow government pulling the strings from behind the scenes. Besides, I support the president, that's why I'm here." Eve glared back at him. "No, you support the president because your superior, the bishop that you report to ordered you to stay behind and pretend to support President Bryce, but soon we'll know what we need from you." She looked at the sergeant. He looked at his officers and then at Eve and nodded, because he had heard some of what Ashwood had been doing and he was willing to withhold judgement.

Eve looked at the two officers. "Lieutenant Wilcox. Let's start with you." Barnes looked at his aide. "Say nothing. We have rights, they can't just arrest us and interrogate us. They have to provide us with legal representation." A voice interrupted them and a monitor on the wall came to life. On the screen was President Bryce's Secretary of Defense, General Thomas Larkin. "No General they don't. Eve, Mike told us that you have proof?" Eve tapped her head and he nodded. "Understood." Tom turned his attention to General Barnes. "General, this is a direct order, you will cooperate and answer all of this young lady's questions and I can guarantee that the death penalty will be off the table for the Court Martial of you and your aide." He looked back at Eve. "Eve, before I go, I wanted to express my and the president's condolences to you and your soldiers, for the loss of Adam. He was an outstanding young man and a great leader." She nodded. "Thank you sir." He sat back. "Send what you find to me as soon as you can. Hopefully there won't be many more of these traitors in our midst. I think that you will need to contact the traitor's second in command and tell him that he has been made Base Commander. If he is a traitor as well, then keep going through the base officers until you find one that is not a traitor, even if the highest ranked non traitor is a Second Lieutenant. Send me the person's name and I'll make it official." The monitor darkened and everyone turned their attention to their two prisoners.

"I'll start again. Lieutenant, tell us what your bishop's plans are?" Wilcox glanced at Barnes who shook his head, warning him to keep his mouth shut. He was silent, but moments later his brow furrowed and he started sweating and gritting his teeth against the pain that was starting to build behind his eyes. Barnes' eyes widened and he looked around trying to figure out what was going on. "What are you doing to him?" Wilcox started shaking his head and his eyes popped open. Now he looked and sounded scared. "No, no, no, don't. Please don't. Stay away!" He seemed to be trying to get away from something and was frantically looking around the room like he was trying to see something. "Okay! Okay! Please stop!" Eve glanced at Ethan and Dylan and nodded. Wilcox began to relax a little. He was breathing a little hard like he'd had a fright.

"Now Lieutenant." He looked at her with a bit of a wild look. "How did you do that?" She gave him a grim smile. "Just answer the questions. What are the plans of your bishop?" He looked around the room and Barnes was still shaking his head with a scowl on his face. Wilcox looked at Eve and licked his lips. He felt the headache begin again. "Okay, okay, stop. Our orders are…." Barnes started yelling. "You stupid son of a bitch. You traitor, shut your mouth. Don't say another word and perhaps I can save your life!" Barnes suddenly found himself flying backwards in the chair from Eve's fist. Wilcox stared in surprise at his boss. Eric and George helped get Barnes back upright in the chair. He was shaking his head trying to clear it. She turned back to Wilcox and waited. "Um. We were ordered to keep the bishop informed of what was happening here at the base through the deacon. We were supposed to report anything unusual or any big buildup of forces."

"Anything else?" He hesitated and he began to feel the pain build in his head.

<Eve. Wilcox has the title of Brother. Barnes is called an Infiltrator.>

She looked at Wilcox. "Brother Wilcox, is there anything else?" He let out an involuntary gasp when she used his AoG title. He nodded after a moment and the headache subsided. "Yes, we were also asked to watch for any information about a group of soldiers who were dressed in black who had been working against the Army. If any came here we were to inform the bishop so he could send a team to capture one of them for study and interrogation."

She glanced at Ethan and he nodded. She smiled at him. "Thank you Lieutenant. One more question and then you can relax and we'll have a little talk with Gen….no he doesn't deserve that rank, so I'll call him William or maybe Willy. Are there any others on base who are part of the Army of God?" He shook his head. "Not that I know of." Ethan's nod was all she needed. "Thank you." She looked at George. "Captain will you take Brent to get a cup of coffee. I know there is a snack bar or something here in the building. After that he will remain under guard here until we talk to the new base commander about more permanent accommodations." She waited until Wilcox was escorted from the room before looking at Barnes with a glare.

"Now Infiltrator Barnes." He had come back to his senses so he was also shocked when she used his title. "First question. Are there any other AoG members on this base?" Barnes tried to resist but he too began to feel a headache building and then he felt like something was behind him, stalking him. He looked over his shoulder to try and find it, but nothing was there other than Eric, who just stared at him impassively. The headache gained strength and thoughts started bubbling up. He felt the need to try and hide those thoughts but he couldn't help them. "Stop. What are you doing to me? You're the devil, stay away from me!" His face was scrunched up in pain and he was breathing hard. He suddenly leaned forward and vomited. Ethan and Dylan released him and his head was hanging down. He was not unconscious, but he was trying to catch his breath.

Eve looked at Christina. "Chris can you have someone bring a damp rag for William and maybe a few more to cover up the mess. We'll clean it up later. And leave the door open so we can air the room out a bit." She nodded and went to take care of it. She came back quickly with a damp washcloth and a few towels. She placed some of them on the floor to cover the mess. She gave the damp cloth to Barnes and laid another towel on the table in front of him. Moments later one of the Unit members brought in a bottle of water. He looked at Eve. "I'll let Ronnie know that we'll need to clean that up." She nodded and he left.

She waited until Barnes wiped his mouth and drank some water to lessen the foul, acidic taste in his mouth. Once he was sitting back and had caught his breath. "Okay Willy. Let's start again. Who else on this base is part of the AoG?" He stared at her shaking his head. "Who are you people? What did you do to me?" She leaned forward with a stern look. "We are your worst nightmare and if you don't start talking. What you just felt was minor compared to what you will feel. Like I said we've had a similar conversation with one of your colleagues and it did not go at all well for him. We got all the information he had to give, but he did not survive the process. If you give us the information we want, then perhaps your punishment will not be as harsh. We will report to the Secretary of Defense that you were cooperative. Maybe he'll go easier on you because of your prior service. It's your choice, but I can assure you, we will get the answers. So Willy, answer the question. Is there anyone else on the base who is Army of God?"

William looked at her for a few moments and then shook his head. "Not that I know of, but I'm not privy to what my superiors may do. They only tell me what I need to know. They keep things compartmentalized so that no one but the top people know the whole picture."

"Who is your superior? Who is this bishop or this deacon that you report to?"

"I don't normally report directly to the bishop, only the deacon, but information about you is considered a high priority. So it is expected that I would contact the bishop to tell him about you being here on the base."

"Then how do you contact him."

"By phone."

"We may want you to make that call, but not right now. Who is second in command here?"

"Colonel Alexander Rhynerson."

Eve sat back. "I think that is enough for now." She looked at Eric. "First Sergeant, please escort William and allow him a chance to clean up. Gabe, can you try and find Colonel Rhynerson and have him come here. He needs to know what is going on ASAP, so that he can assume command." She looked at Sergeant Dahlgren. "Well Sergeant. Is that enough proof?" He nodded. "Good, then you are free to go. You should probably go to your quarters and get some rest." He stood up and started to leave the room. "And Sergeant. Anything you saw or heard is highly classified, eyes only. If you say anything about it. You will be arrested for treason. I'm sure the new base commander will inform you of what your new duties will be." Dahlgren nodded. "Yes ma'am. Um, ma'am. Colonel Rhynerson's quarters is in off base military housing. I know where it is and I am more than happy to go and get him if you would like, ma'am." She nodded. "Thank you Sergeant. Colonel Patterson will contact the colonel to let him know that you will be there to pick him up. And not a word to him please. About any of this." Dahlgren left the room. "Sergeant Barrett, will you escort Willy out of here. You can bring him to a bathroom so that he can wash his mouth out, then let him join his aide."

When they were all gone Eve looked at Ethan and Dylan. "Okay what did you guys do?" Dylan shrugged. "Ethan had a hard time dealing with what he had to do to that guy we caught in Idaho and it got me thinking. We've found that if we work together we can get better results. So while Ethan was probing his brain, I project different feelings at him and it distracts him enough that it becomes easier for Ethan to pull information out of him. I projected the feeling of fear into them and it worked. This was the first real test." Eve chuckled a little. "Yes it did. I think you're onto something. I know you guys are probably a bit tired, but I need you to hang around a bit longer. When the new commander shows up, I will need you to make sure he is with us, not one of them." They nodded. "However, not here. We will go to the conference room I'm going to use as my office. I don't want to smell William's vomit any longer than I have to." She looked at Logan. "Is there a room setup as my office? And can I call on Daisy to connect me to Secretary Larkin so he can confirm the new commander." Logan nodded. "I'll show you." He got painfully to his feet using his crutches and led them to another slightly smaller room nearby. He gestured to the room. "This should work." Apollo wheeled her in and she nodded. Noting the monitor on the wall. "Thanks Logan. We can wait here until the new commander arrives. Chris will you tell Gabe that Sergeant Dahlgren is on the way to pick the colonel up?"

They sat down and the busy day was starting to take their toll on them. They were all feeling a bit tired when Gabe and Christina returned. "Colonel Rhynerson will be here in about fifteen minutes. I told him that a driver was being sent for him. He had a lot of questions, but I told him that he will have to wait because it is a matter of national security. He agreed to wait."

"Thanks Gabe." Gabe noticed some tired looking people, especially Ethan and Dylan who were not Genesis folks. "It looks like you could use something to wake you up a bit. Let me get something from the snack bar." He returned ten minutes later with some cokes for everyone and a cup of coffee for himself.

A short time later they heard someone approaching the room and an Air Force colonel followed one of the UNIT members, who had been manning the front desk, into the room. The man was medium height and build and appeared to be in his late forties. He looked around the room and noted the young lady in the wheelchair with the long haired teen sitting nearby. The two younger teens sitting at one side of the table with another teenage girl sitting next to them. There was also an older teenager with crutches leaning against the wall next to him and then he saw the older man. He put his attention on Gabe. "Colonel, I assume you are the one who called me. What's this about national security? Shouldn't you be talking to General Barnes about this? He is the Base Commander."

He was interrupted from asking anymore questions when the monitor on the wall came to life. It was a recording of Wilcox and Barnes admitting their involvement with the Army of God. When it was done, Eve spoke up. "Colonel, I was the one who asked Colonel Patterson, to ask you to come here." She glanced at Ethan and he smiled and shook his head. "You guys can head out. Thanks for the help." Ethan and Dylan got up taking their cokes with them. Christina decided to leave as well. Colonel Rhynerson was confused trying to figure out what was going on.

"Logan, do you think we can get the secretary on the line again?" Logan nodded and keyed his mic. "Alvin, can you contact the Secretary again?"

"Will do." Logan nodded to Eve. "Alvin will call him." She nodded and waved to a seat. "Colonel. Please have a seat. My name is Eve. I'm the commander of this unit. What you just saw and heard is to be considered top secret, eyes only. Any discussion of anything you hear or see with anyone outside of those involved will get you immediately arrested for treason. The former general and lieutenant have had those charges filed against them because of what you just heard. We currently have them under guard here. I assume there is a holding facility on base that will do for the short term until they can be sent to a more permanent facility. There is one thing to add. They are not to have contact with anyone else. Is that possible?"

"Yes we have a stockade for those needing to be confined and I believe we can keep them separate from the others."

"Good, if you can have your Security Forces take custody of them and put them there, I would appreciate it. We don't have time to be prison guards." Logan interrupted her. "We have the secretary, Eve." She nodded and the monitor came on showing Secretary Larkin once again. "Good evening again Eve, did you find anything out?" She nodded to the screen. "Yes sir. We will be sending you the information in a short time. They are both AoG. First though I need to introduce you to Colonel Rhynerson, the second in command at Offutt." Larkin looked at the Colonel. "Colonel Rhynerson. Good to meet you. I'm Sec Def Larkin." He glanced at Eve. "I assume he's cleared?" She nodded. "Yes sir, we made sure." He smiled. "Good." He looked at the Colonel for a few moments as he sized him up. "You appear to be out of uniform General."

"Wha..what?" Tom smiled. "Oh, I guess I forgot that part. By the authority vested in me by the President of the United States, Jackson Bryce, you are promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. Your orders will be sent as soon as possible with the date of rank to be today. You are now the Commander of Offutt Air Force Base. You should start making the arrangements for moving into the base commander's quarters. Carry on General." He smiled at Eve. "Now if there is nothing else. I've got a few more things to do before the president will let me get some sleep."

"Thank you Mister Secretary. I don't think we'll be bothering you anymore tonight." He gave her a smile and wink and the screen went dark. She turned her attention to General Rhynerson. "Congratulations General. Since you were not brought in on this originally. I will give you the short version. We are a Special Forces unit under the direct command of the president. We are going to be here for a short time, and anything that is related to us, is Top Secret, eyes only as I said before. Unfortunately we cannot at this time give you more information about us or what our mission is. But we will let you know if we need your help. At some point you will be informed of the mission, but that time is not yet. Only the president or vice president can give permission for you to know anything else. So please don't try to find out anything more or discuss anything you've learned with anyone. As far as anyone knows, we're an ROTC unit of some kind, displaced from some military school because of the war."

"Um…Understood." Gabe walked over to him, smiled and shook his hand. "Congrats, General. Let me walk you out." When they were gone, Eve looked around. "Okay, let's try and get some sleep. It's been a long day." Everyone agreed and headed to their rooms.

The next morning was Sunday and there was a lot to do. The normal choppers arrived by mid-morning. The rest of the forces arrived at about the same time, so the Blood's Honor members, and the Russians, only added to people's curiosity when they were seen around the base. The Inn was nearly bursting with all of the troops there. In the dining hall they got a lot of strange and curious looks. There were now armed guards posted at the hangar and the building around the clock. All of the soldiers knew that they were going to have to move soon, but first a workable plan was needed.

Late in the afternoon, Christina came looking for Eve and found her in her office, Apollo was nearby looking at some maps, Sean was with her. "Eve. I was in the command center and they intercepted a message about a group of kids being shipped from one of those internment camps by train. I would like permission to go and get them. The language they were using was Spanish. Probably some of the soldiers, Ashwood brought in from the south."

"Tell me what you know." Christina looked at Sean. He opened his laptop. "Bring up the map Dusty." A map filled the screen. Sean pointed to an area on the map. "This is Courtland, Alabama."

"Alabama? How far behind the line is that?" Dusty appeared on the screen. "Not too far, about 180 miles from there to the river." Eve thought about it for a moment. "Okay, doesn't sound too bad. It's less than an hour's flight for Dragon, that's nothing. I think that is completely doable. What's your plan?"

Christina sat down next to Sean. "Pull the map back a bit so that we can see Offutt." Sean opened his left hand slowly and the map pulled back until they could see what Christina wanted. "I thought we'd do some multitasking. We're going to fly east to the river and then south along the river until we get to about here. That way we can do a little Intel gathering as we move along the river. Then, when we reach this point, just south of Memphis, we'll fly east to the camp. My plan is to get there just a little bit before sunrise. Maybe we'll catch some of the guards napping and can take them out quickly before landing. We really don't know how many internees are there but, if you can ask for some C-130s and some escorts out of Orlando. The place where they built the camp is a municipal airport. It used to be an Army Air Corps base back in the 40's and the main runway is long enough for a C-130 to land and take off. So if Orlando can send two or three planes, we should be able to get everyone out of there. The information we received was that the children were to be removed early Monday morning and taken by truck to the train depot where they'll be then taken south to Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. We want to stop them before they even leave the camp. If we go in early enough, we can probably get everyone out of there before they are picked up."

Eve looked at the map on Sean's computer for a few moments. "Okay, I'll contact Orlando. Where do you plan to take them afterwards?" Christina nodded to Sean and he waved his hand across the screen and the map moved west until they were over Oklahoma. She pointed at a spot just outside of Oklahoma City. "Tinker Air Force Base. We'll drop them off here, the C-130s can refuel and then head back to Orlando. We'll head back here once we drop the internees off. We shouldn't be any later than midafternoon."

"Okay, I'll make some calls and see what I can do." She turned to the monitor. "Daisy? Are you listening?" Daisy appeared in the monitor. "Always Eve. Who do you want me to call?" Eve smiled and started to say something but stopped. She looked at Christina. "It's approved, but I've got a better idea. Where are we?"

"Offutt Air For…oh yeah. I guess we don't need to call Orlando for some planes." Eve looked back to Daisy. "Call General Rhynerson. I know he's got a few planes here, I'm sure he can spare us a couple of them and escorts." She looked at Sean. "Do you still have those IFF codes that we grabbed at Disney World?" Sean smiled as he nodded. "Good. We'll give the codes to General Rhynerson to download into the planes so Ashwood's forces will think they are just a couple of friendly Ashwood planes. Also, even though the planes are from here, I still think it would be best to drop the people that you rescue off at Tinker. I'll contact Tinker to let them know that some refugees are going to be arriving."

"Do you think there is any chance of getting a satellite view of the camp?" Eve shrugged. "Not sure what the satellite availability is, but I'll ask." Christina nodded. "Chris, take them out. These are invading soldiers on our soil. I have no mercy for anyone that wants to do this to kids and their families." When Christina and Sean left, Apollo stood up a few moments later. He glanced at Eve. "You don't mind if I go do you?" She shook her head. "Hell no. I'd join you if I could. Soon though if this gizmo works, then I'll be on the next mission. Red Dragons have an important mission and you're still a Red Dragon. You need to go." He leaned down and gave her a quick kiss. "I'll be back later."

"Eve, I have General Rhynerson." Eve looked at the monitor and his image appeared in a Skype window. "What can I do for you Commander?"

"Good afternoon, General. I need to ask you a favor."

Apollo caught up with the other two and Christina grinned. "Glad you could make it. Hope you haven't gotten soft with all this easy duty pushing Eve around." He flipped her off and she laughed. They went back upstairs to find everyone to let them know that they had a mission and to meet downstairs for a planning meeting.

The team was gathered in one of the small conference rooms. Sean had his laptop out and his gear on. There was another monitor on the table and Sean had what was on his screen cloned onto the larger monitor.

"Everyone's here, so we'll begin. We are going to run a rescue op on one of Ashwood's internment camps. Intel intercepted a message saying that the young children that are being held in the camp with their families, are to be shipped out by train to the Gulf Coast on Monday morning. We're going to stop them."

"Cool, another train robbery." Christina smiled at Rio and shook her head. "Not this time. It is just us running this raid. We're going to the camp and free everyone before any of them get put on a train. Eve is getting a couple of C-130s from here to handle getting the internees out." She nodded to Sean and he brought up the map that showed the location of the camp. "The camp is just outside of Courtland, Alabama. It's about 180 miles from the Mississippi River." She gestured to Sean and the map zoomed out. "We're going to combine a recon mission with this rescue. First we're going to fly east to Davenport, Iowa and then fly down the Mississippi River and send pictures of all of Ashwood's forces that are stationed on the line and send it back to HQ, who will then send them to the Sec Def. Once we get a little south of Memphis, we're going to head east to Courtland. Zoom back in on Courtland, Sean."

The map changed so it just showed Courtland. "Just to the west of the town, is Courtland Airport, it's a small municipal airport. Seventy years ago it was an Army Training Airfield, but at the end of their war, it was returned back to Alabama. From what we've learned, the eastern part of the airport has been turned into an internment camp, the western part is still usable, and has a couple of runways, either of which is long enough for a C-130 to land and takeoff. The word we got, like I said, is that tomorrow morning, they are going to take all of the younger kids that are being held at the camp, out of there, and put them on a train. I want us there before sunrise, so we can hit them while most of them are asleep. We're not sure what the guard situation is, except we do know that their guard force is Spanish speaking, so they are probably some of the troops Ashwood has brought up from Central or South America to help him. I have asked if Eve can get us some satellite imagery of the camp, but since it is still kind of iffy, we may need to wait until we get there to take a good look at the place before we hit it. Any questions?" She looked around the room. "Okay, meet at the hangar at 0230, wheels up at 0300. Be sure to get some sleep, but make sure your gear and weapons are ready and you have all the ammo you need." She knew the team was ready to go, so she dismissed them.

When they arrived at the hangar just before three, they saw that Mac had towed Dragon out of the hangar and into the open so that they could take off right away. Jamil boarded and lowered the ramp for everyone. Eve was there to see them off. She called Christina over to her. "Chris. The C-130's will be there at sunrise, hopefully those IFF codes Sean had are still valid. Unfortunately, I couldn't get you any satellite imagery. There just aren't enough of them, so you'll have to wait until you get there to find out what the layout of the camp looks like." Christina shrugged. "I didn't count on the sat data, so it's no problem." They saw the last of the team climb in. "See you this afternoon." Eve nodded. "I'm going to grab a couple of hours sleep, but I'll be in the Command Center when you go in, just in case something really goes south." Christina sketched a quick salute before jogging up the ramp. She nodded to Jamil who raised the ramp. She looked at the team as she made her way to the cockpit. In the Command Suite, Sean and Brett were at their usual stations. She heard the engines start up. She smiled at Oliver as she sat in the pilot's seat. Moments later, they took off and she turned them to the east, still flying low. Once out of the sight of the base she had Drake turn on the stealth and contacted Sean. "Okay Sean. Once we near the river, Drake will start taking pictures. Send them on to Command, so they can get an idea of what is down there. I'm going to stay at around 2000'. That should be close enough to the ground for us to see how Ashwood's forces are set up, but high enough to get a good look at the land nearby as well. We should get a good idea of what we'll be up against when it is time to hit them."

"Roger." In the Command Suite, Sean looked at his monitor. "Dusty, I'll have the connection set up for you when you and Drake are ready." Dusty appeared on the screen and gave Sean a tip of his cowboy hat, before looking to his side. "Drake 'ol buddy, you all ready to do this?"

"I do not understand the question. I am functioning perfectly. I do not need to get ready since I am always ready to perform my duties."

Dusty cocked his head to the side. "Drake, you gotta lighten up."

"I do not see the need to turn on any lights. My cameras can record pictures perfectly in the dark or light."

Dusty let his head drop for a second. "Never mind Drake." He looked at Sean and shrugged as if saying 'What can you do?'. "We're ready when you are Sean." Sean nodded and made a few movements with his hands. "Everything's ready Chris."

Christina pushed Dragon to maximum speed on the run to the river. Once they reached Davenport, Iowa, she slowed down to cruising speed and began following the course of the Mississippi River as they moved south. At their 2000' altitude, they could easily make out how Ashwood's commanders had their forces laid out. It was not one continuous line of positions, but there were strong concentrations of troops that could probably be moved to any point along the line to hold it. The next major city south after Davenport was Saint Louis. There was evidence of war damage on both sides of the river, especially when they looked at the buildings near the river. They continued south until they reached Memphis. Once below Memphis, Christina brought them within 500' of the ground and headed east. She called into the main cabin. "Forty-five minutes from the camp. Everyone get ready. I'm going to fly over the camp, so we can see the layout first before we land."

Christina could see a faint light to the east as she neared the camp. With the night vision capability of her helmet, she could easily see the airport. They flew over the runways still in use. Just beyond she could make out the internment camp. There were a few buildings within the camp itself and rows of large army tents. Just as she started flying over the camp, Sean called her. "Chris, you need to see this. Something's going on down there."

"Put it on my monitor." Christina looked at the monitor in the cockpit and a greenish image of the camp, but what she also saw were several figures moving around a building outside of the fence. They seemed to be setting up an attack. Taking positions and it looked like they were focusing on a large building to the west of them. Outside that building she saw a few parked army trucks. "Who the hell are they?"

"No idea. But look at how they are positioned, they look like they are focusing on that large building outside the fence. Maybe it's some military force we don't know about or maybe some locals who have friends in the camp. Also there is that building on the east side of the camp. It looks like a couple of guards are in front of it."

"That building in the camp might be a guard building. We'll take that one out first. Captain Nim, Sergeant Barrett, Sergeant Peterson, Chase, Rio, and Vanya. The building in the camp is yours. Dakota and Jamil, I'm going to point our ass at that building. Once the ramp is down, you two take out the guards. Once they're down, I'll fly near the building and Captain Nim and his team will fast rope down. Then I think we'll head toward the big building and land on the west side of the building near those trucks and attack from there." She turned Dragon so it was in position. She held it there and noted on her console that the ramp had been lowered.

Inside the main cabin, the six who had been named were up and preparing to go, while the two snipers got into position. Gabe and Jim were hooking the ropes up and holding the coils in their hands, ready to throw them out.

Just then they all heard a roar from somewhere in the direction of the outside building. Since Dragon was facing that way. Christina saw a bright flash from one side of the building. She turned off the helmet's IR, just before another roar and a bright flash. "What the fuck?" She could see smoke rising from the position near the big building. "Chris, those guards on the building were lounging on the steps but they are up and alert now. One of them has turned to the building."

"Take 'em out." On the ramp the two teens took aim and then fired several shots. They saw the bodies jerk as the bullets impacted them and put them down. "Targets down." She gave the outside building another glance before turning to the guard building and going into a hover. Once she was near the front of the building, the ropes were thrown out and the six slated to take out the building quickly slid down. When she heard the all clear, she turned to face the big building, so she could get an idea of what was going on and where they could best help, because obviously someone was attacking the camp. She just didn't know who they were yet.

As they came off the rope, each of them took a knee and assumed a ready position. When everyone was down, George pointed at Chase and Rio and pointed to the front door. Chase drew his swords and the two of them headed to the door and quickly slipped inside. He pointed at Eric, Jim and Vanya and made a gesture for them to go around the back before he followed Chase and Rio into the front.

Inside Chase and Rio split up as they entered the reception area. There was an unmanned reception desk in the front room. They checked the room behind the desk and it was empty. There were three hallways from reception. They glanced back as George entered. Chase started to the left, while Rio went to the one heading toward the back, and George took the hall to the right.

George found some offices, all empty and it looked like that had been trashed. Probably by the guards looking for something valuable. Chase checked the rooms as he passed them. He stopped outside one of them because he heard snoring inside. He opened the door and looked in. The room had some cots in it and there were four of the guards asleep. He crept inside and saw another door at the far end of the room. He looked at the sleeping guards and carefully returned his swords to the scabbards on his back and pulled out his knife. He went to the first guard and quickly clamped his hand down on the guard's mouth and stabbed into the upper part of his neck and up into his brain. He repeated this for each guard before quietly heading for the door at the far end of the room. The door was open just a crack. Chase reached for the door and pushed it open and it creaked loudly. Chase shoved the door open, and saw a young man sitting up in a cot pulling a pistol out of a holster that was hanging off a chair. Chase threw his knife, but the young man's quick reflex saved him as he pulled the chair in front of him and the knife stuck into the back of it. The young man then used the chair to pull himself up and started firing the pistol. Chase sprang up to the right and bounced off the wall, pulling shuriken from the belt pouch at his waist and throwing them. It caught the young man in the upper chest and he screamed. Chase then sprang from the wall to the small desk while drawing his swords. The man tried to follow his movements and fired a couple of shots, both hitting where Chase had been. From the desk Chase corkscrewed through the air as the man brought his pistol toward him. Chase's first strike removed the man's hand holding the gun, the second strike opened his throat and the man fell back, choking on the scream that had started because of the loss of his hand. Chase bounced once again off the wall and then back to the desk, where he watched the man struggle to breathe through the blood pumping out of his neck. When the man stopped breathing, Chase hopped over to the bed and pulled the shuriken out of the man's chest and cleaned them off. He then wiped the blood off of the swords before returning them to their scabbards. He heard a burst of fire, pulled his MP5 around and started running toward the gunshots.

Rio was moving slowly down the hall toward the back of the building when he heard the gunshots from Chase's direction. He stopped and started to turn back, when he heard noise down the hallway. He quickly turned back and saw a door open up. A guard came running out of the room and Rio brought his M4 up and fired a quick burst. The guard flew against the door jamb and slumped to the floor. Rio ran forward to the door where the guard had run out of and dove through the door and into a roll, coming up facing the room, his M4 at the ready. He checked for any more guards and instead saw a bunch of young kids, sitting up from a bunch of blankets on the floor that looked to be their makeshift beds. George ran in moments later and some of the kids screamed in fright. He and Rio both lowered their guns.

"Hey, hey, it's okay. We're here to get you out of this place." The kids were still scared, so Rio slung his rifle, removed his helmet and then held up his hands to show them he didn't mean them any harm. "See everything's going to be okay. We're not one of the guards. We're here to get you out of here and back with your families." The kids started calming down just as Chase came into the room. It startled them at first, so he slung his MP5 and started trying to calm them down. "My friend Rio is right. The dull lovers cannot hurt you anymore. Come with us, we will help you get back to your families, so you can feel shiny again." His squeaky voice seemed to calm them down a little more and a couple even grinned at him as they realized they were rescued. Rio and Chase got the kids to gather their few things and come with them. While they were gathering the kids, George moved the guard's body out of the doorway.

When they left the room, they saw that Eric, Jim and Vanya had made it inside and the group headed for the front door. Eric and Jim ran ahead. They had just remembered about the guard's bodies in the front of the building and had gone out there to move them to the side and out of sight of the kids when they left the building. As they walked to the tents, a group of adults started running toward the kids, calling their names. The kids did the same when they saw their parents. The kids then started giving their rescuers hugs, Chase really liked this part. The six Red Dragons walked behind them, except for Chase, he skipped. When they met up with the adults, they hugged and thanked the six of them as well.

After dropping the six at the building, Christina turned back to what was going on at the other building. She watched as a group of guards came around the corner of the building and moved up to a fence line that had a screen on it, so that the men were hidden. There were a few shots from the men on top of the building, but no idea whether they hit anyone. A small squad of the guards moved from behind the fence to the large building and started firing at the men who were attacking them. Once the squad started firing, the guards boiled out from behind the screened fence and started running across the grassy area toward the positions of the men attacking them. There were two volleys of fire that produced a lot of smoke and flame from the rifles directed at them. Some of the charging soldiers were hit and the others paused a moment from the shock, before they continued running forward. The guard made it about halfway across the grass, when there was another roar from their left that produced more smoke and flame and a few more went down. It was a small cannon. Christina and Oliver's eyes widened at the next thing they saw. It was a cavalry charge. A group of men, some of whom looked to be a bit small, compared to the others, appeared from behind a building and rode across the front of the line of running guards, firing pistols at them. They then turned and rode away from the guards. From the side of the building another small cannon fired at the charging soldiers, hitting a few more of them and another one from near the storage container where some of the men had positioned themselves. The cavalry had not gotten far when a horse went down with its rider. The two in the cockpit had been so engrossed in what they were seeing that they had missed the speeding Humvee that came around the end of the camp along the fence line and started firing on the cavalry.

Christina looked down. "Damnit, how'd we miss those guys? Ollie ready the guns. Drake, deploy Dragon skin. Disengage stealth." She started Dragon forward just as they popped into view and Oliver opened up with the twin chain guns, blowing the Humvee to bits. Christina continued toward the rest of the guards, while Oliver swept the chain guns back and forth for a few more seconds, the 30mm rounds ripping the guards into shreds and tearing holes in the side of the building behind them. Once all of the guards were down, Oliver quit firing. For a few seconds the only sound was Dragon's rotors.

Christina did a side slip and brought Dragon down on the asphalt near the grassy area where the bodies of the guards were strewn about. "Jamil, ready the minigun when we land just in case there are any more of those guards, and in case the others are hostile, since we don't even know who they are yet." Aleksandra was at the ramp door and as soon as they landed, she lowered it while Jamil got the gun set up and locked in position. He started sweeping the ground looking for any guards that were still a threat. While he covered them, most of the team charged down the ramp and took positions around Dragon. Several checked the dead guards.

Christina came down last and toggled the external speaker on her helmet. "Who's in command?" She looked around as she waited for an answer and then she noticed a man come from around the container, holstered his pistol and raised his hands. "I'm Major Kenneth Hartley of the Wheeler Military Academy and since you seem to be on our side, we have some wounded over here that need to be taken care of right away if you have a medic with you." Christina nodded and keyed her mic. "Ian, go see what he needs."

"On my way." Ian slung his M4 and trotted in the direction that the major had indicated. Christina started hearing more calls for help. Someone was on top of the nearby storage container that had been used for their firing position. The person, now that she could see them, was a teenager. As she looked around she saw that except for the major, they all looked like they were teenagers and she realized that they were from a military high school, not a college. They were that kind of military academy. She looked at the people on top of the container and headed toward it, slinging her M4. When she was near, she leaped up and pulled herself on top. She saw the wounded teen laying on top of the container and easily picked him up and leaped back down. She gently laid him on the ground as Doc ran over, removed his helmet and knelt down next to the teen to see what he needed to do to help him.

There was a roar overhead as the internees made their way out of the camp and a C-130 flew overhead. The Red Dragons began removing their helmets and hanging them from their web gear. Chase skipped up the ramp of Dragon after waving to the kids and disappeared inside. The cadets and the internees were surprised that nearly all of their rescuers were just kids, teenagers at most.

Christina turned to Gabe. "Colonel, could you go talk to them?" She said while gesturing with a nod of her head to the newly released internees. He gave her a smile and started walking over to them. There was a yell from Ian, in the direction of the blown up Humvee. "JAMIE! I NEED YOUR HELP!" Jamie ran toward the call.

When he got there he saw Ian kneeling next to an older teenager who was holding a younger boy in his lap. "What d'ya need Ian?" Ian put his hand on the younger boy's chest. "Hardy here has a bullet in the left side of his chest. There is a broken rib and collapsed lung along with some internal bleeding. We need to get the bullet and any fragments out of him and get the rib aligned before we do much of anything else." Jamie took off his gloves and dropped them into the helmet.

"Wait, what?" Jamie glanced at the adult in charge of these kids. "How can you do anything like that out here? The boy needs to be in a hospital." Ian glanced at Jamie. He smiled at him and then reached toward the man and stopped him from talking as he continued speaking. "Are you crazy, you can't…" Ian smiled at Jamie in thanks. "Sir, we don't have time to take him to a hospital. He could die before that happens. So Jamie and I are going to take care of this right here and right now so that we can save his life." Jamie let go of the man. Ian looked at Jamie. "Let's get started."

Ian opened the boy's jacket and ripped his shirt open. Jamie put his hand on the bleeding wound and Ian put his over Jamie's and they linked up. Thirty seconds later Jamie opened his eyes. "Got 'em." Ian smiled. "You're getting faster with that."

"Well practice makes perfect, unfortunately. It hadn't fragmented that much, so it wasn't hard to get all the pieces." Jamie pulled his hand away and looked at his hand. He noticed the teen who was holding the younger boy looking at him. "What do you have in your hand?"

"What's your name?"


"Well Clayton. This is what caused Hardy's problems, now Ian can take care of the rest." Jamie held out his hand and showed the older boy the bullet and a few small pieces of metal. Jamie looked down and saw the way Clayton's was holding his arm and the blood on his leg. "Why don't you let Ian take Hardy from you and I'll take a look at your arm and leg and see what we can do to take care of you as well." Ian moved the young boy so that he was now lying on the ground so that he could get to work on healing the rest of his injuries.

Jamie heard the man walking toward them. "Is that?" Jamie glanced at him and smiled. "Yep." He held out his hand and dropped the bullet into the man's hand. Jamie turned away and starting taking things out of Ian's medical pack to use on Clayton. A short time later Ian removed his hands from the boy's chest. "He'll be okay now. He should wake in a few moments, but he'll be pretty weak. He lost a lot of blood." Ian looked at Clayton and placed his hand on his arm. "This shouldn't take too long to help you get better. The arm and leg should be easy to fix." He put his hand on them and a few moments later he looked at Clayton. "That'll do it. The arm and leg will probably ache for a little while, but you'll make a full recovery."

"IAN!" He looked over to where the yell came from and saw Logan waving for him. "What do you need Logan." Logan pointed to one of the boys on the ground. "One of these cadets was shot in the lower right abdomen. You should take a look at him." Ian nodded and stood up. "Clay, you'll be fine now." He pointed at the three who were sitting on the ground a little distance away. "Jamie can you go take a look at those three over there and see if any of them need help." Jamie pulled some supplies out of Ian's pack and handed the pack to Ian.

Doc and Ram were going around and checking the rest of the wounded. They found that for some of the boys, it was too late to help them. Behind the nearby building, Ram found a younger boy sitting next to an older teen who was slumped against a building. The older teen looked like he was asleep, but Ram could see that he was not breathing. "He saved my life." Ram looked to the younger boy who had just spoken. "He carried me all the way over here, even after he was hurt." Ram leaned in and hugged him. "I'm sorry that you lost your friend. Let me take a look at your leg." He started to check the bandage that was on the boy's leg. He glanced at the older man that was with them and glanced over at the other boy that was lying there unmoving. The older man saw where he was looking and shook his head. Ram nodded and continued checking the younger boy. He finished checking him and stood up. "Our Doc will be by as soon as he can to help fix you up." The man nodded to him and Ram left to check the others.

Gabe walked toward the freed internees and raised his voice to get their attention. He told them that they were here to get them out of here. He pointed to the two C-130s that were now on the ground and taxiing in their direction. He told them to get their things and head over there and board the planes. One of them men raised his hand. He was concerned about his sons who were in a school nearby. Gabe tried to reassure him and finally convinced him that it would be best if he got on the plane. The internees went back inside the camp to get their things and then began making their way to the transport planes.

Christina called several of the team over to her. "I just got an idea. I want to freak out Ashwood. Go around and pick up all of the weapons that the cadets used. Leave only the dead soldiers and their weapons. Let's let them wonder about who took out these assholes. Dylan, find out who is in charge of those little cannons." The group split up and began gathering all of the cadet's weapons and carried them into Dragon.

Dylan started talking to some of the cadets and they pointed him over to one of the older cadets. He walked over to him and pointed at one of the little cannons. "Hey, I understand you're the one in charge of these cannons." The cadet nodded. "Yes, I am."

"Cool, I'm Dylan. Captain Casey asked me to find who was in charge so we can get all of the cannons." The teen looked confused. "Why?"

"Oh, she said she wants to leave the enemy guessing, so we're policing the battlefield. We're taking every bit of your equipment like your rifles, the cannons and anything that might give the enemy an idea of who attacked these soldiers." The teen's eyes lit up with understanding. "Ah. I guess that makes sense." Dylan continued. "Yeah, so do you have anything else around here other than your rifles and these three cannons?" The teen pointed in the direction of the trees near the building. "And the other three mountain guns over by the headquarters building."

"Three mountain guns?" The teen nodded. "Yeah. We have three more of what you're calling cannons. They're actually mountain guns, not cannons." Dylan shrugged. "Okay, then you have six of these mountain guns. Can you show me where the other three are?" The teen nodded and led the way. When they got around to the front of the building, he saw the soldiers who had been torn apart. Dylan was awed by the sight. It was terrible, but the devastation was something to see. "What did you guys shoot at them?" The teen glanced at the dead. "Homemade canister rounds."

"What are those?"

"In the Civil War they had these rounds that were called canister. It was a bunch of iron balls that when fired from a cannon turned it into a giant shotgun. It was devastating to troops that faced them." Dylan looked around at the dead. "Yeah. I can see that." He followed the teen to the line of trees and bushes and he showed Dylan the three mountain guns. "Cool thanks. I'll get some of my team members and we'll get these over to Dragon."

"Dragon?" Dylan laughed. "Yeah, that's what we call our helo." The teen nodded his understanding. "Oh yeah, makes sense. Anyway, I can get some of the cadets to haul them over for you." Dylan shook his head. "Nah, you guys have done enough. We can get them over easily enough."

The two of them headed back to where the others were. When they got there, Dylan clapped him on the back. "Thanks, we'll get them loaded inside in no time. Not sure how we're going to fit them in, but we'll make it work."

"They're really easy to take apart. Would that help?" Dylan grinned. "Yeah? Could you show me?" The teen waved one of the other cadets over as he walked to a nearby gun. He explained how it was taken apart as he first removed the breech block, then showed how to unlock the barrel. He and the other cadet slowly lifted the barrel up and placed it on the ground. He then showed them how to remove the wheels. Dylan jumped into help them by holding what the teen was calling the transom while they removed the wheels and then he set it on the ground. "Cool, thanks. That'll make it easier to load."

Dylan walked over to Christina, he pointed at the now disassembled gun. "Chris there are three more like these here, can you send a group of people over there in front of that building to get them?" She nodded. "Ollie, grab some people and go over there to get three more of these guns." Oliver grabbed a few of the team and they trotted over to where the other guns were located. The rest continued picking up the cadets equipment and loading them on Dragon. One of them went over to the disassembled gun and picked up the barrel and put it up on his shoulder to carry it to Dragon. Another grabbed the transom and pulled it up onto his back and easily walked it over to Dragon. The other two guns were pulled over to Dragon and then disassembled before carrying the parts inside. Oliver and his group came trotting back hauling the three guns with them.

Josh was heading over to grab more of the equipment when someone called to him. "Excuse me." He turned and saw the man who had introduced himself as the commander of the cadets. "Yes sir." The man pointed to the building. "We have a couple of friends who were in that building fighting against the enemy soldiers. They haven't come out and I'm worried. Their names are Floyd and Gabe. Um, Command Sergeant Major Floyd Bundy and Sergeant Gabriel Rodriguez. They snuck in by the loading dock at the south end of the building. They haven't come out yet." Josh nodded. "Don't worry sir. We'll get some of our people to check it out." Josh looked around and saw Fiona and Aleks. "Fiona, Aleks, come with me, we have some friendlies in the building and need to check and see if they're okay." Josh gave the man a smile and put his helmet back on before checking his M4. "We'll go check sir." The three trotted toward the building.

They got to the ramp leading down and looked over the edge before jumping down and followed the ramp down with their guns at the ready. As it got darker, they switched to night vision. As they made their way into the storage area, he noticed something move. He turned on his external speaker. "Sergeant Major Bundy. We're friends. We were sent to get you and Sergeant Rodriguez out of here." Josh waited and then a voice called out. "Show yourselves!" Josh keyed his mic. "I think we're okay. You two head inside and make sure it's clear." They nodded and moved out, their MP5s up and ready. Josh walked toward the man and slung his M4, reached up and removed his helmet.

"Sergeant Major. I'm Josh. The enemy is defeated and we've come to get you out of here. Is Sergeant Rodriguez in need of a medic?" He saw the man put the pistol down and shook his head. "No son. He isn't." Now that he was near enough he could see that the other man was dead. "I'm sorry. I see that you do though. Can you stand or should I call for a medic?" The man shook his head, holstered his pistol and slowly stood up. Fiona and Aleks returned from upstairs, their SMGs were slung and their helmets were hanging off their web gear. "It's clear Josh. None are left." Fiona looked at the man. "What the hell did you guys use to shred the front of the building and those soldiers?" A slight smile shown for a moment on the man's face. "Canister rounds, in some old guns from the 1800s." Fiona nodded. "Pretty cool." Josh stepped up next to the man. "Let's go, sir."

"We can't leave Gabe." Josh looked at the two girls. "Can you guys help with the sergeant?" The man started heading to the other side of the room. "I can't forget my guns." Josh gently placed his hand on the man's arm. "Don't worry sir, we'll make sure they're brought with us." Aleks went over and found the weapons. "Wow, these are cool. A BAR and a Trench Gun. You rock Sarge." Fiona picked up Gabe's body and slung it over her shoulder, while Aleks made sure they had all the guns they were taking with them. Josh touched the man's arm. "Come on Sarge. Let's get you both out of here." The man nodded and they began the slow walk out of the building. "How did the cadets do?" Josh smiled. "They did good Sergeant, but not without a few casualties. Let's worry about that later though. We need to get one of the medics to look at you." The man nodded and put his arm across Josh's shoulder as they walked up the ramp.

Josh steered them toward Dragon. When they got nearer the major called out to the man and started to get up, but Doc stopped him. "Hold on there Major." Josh helped Floyd over to where Doc was working on the major. The sergeant shook Josh's hand before Josh left him to help the others. Fiona carried Gabe's body into Dragon and Aleks laid the guns on the ground next to the older man. "Here ya go Sarge." Then she walked off.

The sergeant major looked around and turned to the major. "Who the hell are these kids?" Doc chuckled. "Very special kids and because you are both military men, you understand what top secret is. Well their existence is above top secret by order of the president, so I would keep your speculations to yourselves." The older man looked at Doc, incredulously. "But they're kids. Bryce is having kids fight? Are they part of some sort of government program?" Doc shook his head. "Sir, as I said their existence is above top secret. I cannot answer any questions pertaining to them. Just know that I'm glad they're on our side. You wouldn't want to face them in battle." The major started to say something but the older man stopped him. "Cap. I would listen to the man." Doc gave him a smile. "You can call me Doc. Now let's see what kind of trouble you've gotten into." He started looking at the older man's wounds.

Ian and Jamie were busy all over the battlefield leaving behind a lot of thoroughly shocked people when they realized that they were okay after his visit. They could only stare after the two teens who had apparently healed them of their wounds.

Christina called Dakota and Apollo over. "Can you guys get all of the horse equipment off the horses?" They nodded. "What about the horses?" She thought for a moment. "Leave them. Maybe they'll head back to their barn or someone around here will pick them up. There's no way we can take them with us. Try and drive them away. We want Asswood's forces to wonder what happened here. If they see the saddles and tack, it will give them some answers. But if they see some horses around, maybe they'll ignore them." They nodded and went to take care of the horses.

After making their rounds Jamie and Ian made their way over to Dragon where the two men were being tended by Doc. Ian smiled as he walked up to them. "Hello again sir. I want to let you know that everyone has been looked after and they're going to be fine. Now it's your turn." They worked on the major first. Ian removed the bandage and cut his clothes to get at the wounds. When Jamie had the bullets out, he held them out to the major and dropped them in his hand. "Souvenirs." Both men looked at the bullets in the major's hand. "How the hell can you do that?" Jamie shrugged. "Trade secret." They got to work on the older man, quickly taking care of his wounds because he didn't have any bullets that needed to be removed. Ian smiled at him. "You'll be fine sir." The two turned to go. "Ian." Both of them turned around to face the men. "Sir?"

"How many were lost?" Ian looked down for a moment before answering. "Five of the cadets and one adult were killed sir. Eight cadets and you two were wounded but all of you will make a full recovery."

"Do you know their names? The ones that died?" Ian nodded. "Yes some of them. You should talk to Captain Casey. She has the names of the killed and wounded. We're going to leave now, so we need to gather your cadets. The civilians are being escorted to the planes. We're going to take you and the cadets in the helicopter with us, unless you want to go in the planes. We've loaded your dead and all of your equipment inside." The major told him that they would go with them in Dragon.

The cadets started loading into Dragon. The last in were the major and the sergeant major. After one more quick look around the Red Dragons followed them inside and the ramp was closed. They made sure everyone was in their seat and strapped in. The major walked over to Christina. "Captain." She turned to face him. "Yes."

"Ian told me that you brought our dead aboard. I don't see them."

"We have them in our medical suite. Once we're on our way and I think it is safe to move around the cabin, I'll have someone take you to them, but for now, please take your seat, we need to get out of here. We don't like staying on the ground in enemy territory for very long." Christina walked away from them and headed to the cockpit. Many of the cadets were starting to nod off as the engines started and they were soon in the air.

Up in the cockpit Christina looked at the army trucks parked nearby. "Ollie, hose those trucks. I'm not leaving anything for them." Oliver nodded and fired the chain guns at the trucks which blew up with some satisfying explosions. They exchanged a smile as she turned them toward the airport and watched as the C-130s lifted off. Once they were in the air, Christina followed. "Okay on to Tinker. Drake engage stealth. Sean once we're past the river, contact Tinker and let them know we are on the way with some refugees, so they can get ready to receive them. Oh, and tell them we need six body bags for some dead soldiers."

"Roger Chris."

A short time later Sean called Christina. "Chris, we're being called by one of the planes. They want to talk to Gabe." Christina frowned. "What about?"

"Apparently a man on the plane wants to talk to him about going back to get his sons from Wheeler Military Academy."

"The place these cadets are from?"


"Okay. They are probably in with the others. Hopefully they are not one of those who died."

"Will do." Sean got up and went to the main cabin. He went to one of the nearby cadets. "I'm looking for a Rory and Finn Buchanan." The cadet pointed to a couple of the cadets who appeared to be sleeping. "Thanks." Sean went back to his station. "Refuge 1, this is Red Dragon. Inform Mister Buchanan that his sons are here with us. They are safe and okay."

"Refuge 1, thank you Red Dragon. We'll pass the word."

Once they were on the west side of the Mississippi River, Christina asked Sean to find someone to escort the major to where the dead were laid out. Sean found Ram and told him what she wanted. Ram nodded and walked over to where the two older men were sitting. "Sir, Captain Casey has asked that I escort you to where your cadets are located." The major looked at him and then realized what he was saying. He nodded and stood up. Ram led him into the medical suite where the bodies were laid out. He waited while the man looked at each one and then escorted him back to his seat.

When they neared Tinker Air Force Base, Sean called into the cockpit. "Chris. I have told them about the bodies we have with us. They will have a detail to take care of that, plus others to help with the equipment. Also the cadets will be gathered for a debriefing once they get off Dragon." Christina acknowledged the information. "Drake, deploy Army skin. Disengage stealth."

"Army skin deployed. Stealth disengaged."

She looked at Oliver. "Ollie, take over and land us, I'm going to go talk to that major about the arrangements." Oliver nodded and she got up from her seat and headed to the cabin. She found the major and walked over to him. "Sir, when we land. Some airmen are going to meet us with body bags and gurneys. We would like to let them get your fallen soldiers and bring them out first. Then the rest of you can follow. After that more of the base airmen will unload your equipment. As soon as all of you are off and clear, we'll be leaving, as we have other duties ahead of us. You are all going to be taken to a debriefing. I understand some of your boys have family among the people you rescued." The major acknowledge that they did. "Apparently the father of a couple of them requested information about them from one of the planes. We let him know they were with us and safe. I'm sorry for your losses, sir. Their actions reflect well upon them. My team grieves with you." He nodded. "Thank you. I agree with the plan. We will follow them out." They shook hands and she walked to the front of the cabin.

On the ground, Rio opened the ramp and moments later six pairs of airmen walked up the ramp pushing gurneys. Everyone's eyes followed them as they stood up from their seats. Doc escorted them to the medical suite. A few moments later the first gurney came back into the cabin this time with a body bag on top of it. The leader of the cadets, Clayton, came to attention and gave an order. "Battalion! Aten-hut!" Everyone lined the inside of the cabin and came to attention. "Battalion! Salute!" They held their salute as each of the six gurney's passed by them. Once they were all down the ramp. "Battalion! Two!" A moment later he yelled out one more call. "Duty and Honor!" All of the cadets repeated it. They began to file down the ramp following their friends. At the top of the ramp, the major turned and saluted the Red Dragons. They returned the salute and he gave them a sad but grateful smile and turned to walk down the ramp. Once the cadets were gone, another group of airmen came onboard and started removing the cadets' equipment. Christina looked at Sean. "Let me know when everything's removed, then we can get back to Offutt." Sean nodded.

Christina was in her seat and talking with Oliver and Apollo who was sitting in the jump seat behind them when Sean called her. "Chris this is Sean, the equipment has been offloaded. We're cleared to leave."

"Thanks." Within a short time they were taking off. Christina turned them to the north and headed to Offutt.

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