Castle Roland

Duty and Honor

by Eric Aune


Chapter 3

Published: 6 Oct 16

Duty and Honor

Copyright © 2016 by Eric Aune and the Revolutions Universe Partnership
All Rights Reserved

Duty and Honor LogoIt was nearly 0030 before they arrived in the area. Floyd turned off on a dirt road before the water tower and parked at the edge of an area that opened up a couple of hundred yards into the trees. He made sure it was close to the trees so it would not be easily seen. Not that they expected anyone to be out at this time of night.

Floyd led them to a point where the trees were just a couple of dozen yards from the camp fence. On the far side of the camp they could see the lights of the Humvee on its patrol around the perimeter. They saw that there were some lights near the buildings inside the camp that lit up parts of the camp. Floyd pulled out a large set of binoculars and looked at the large building where the kids were supposed to be located. There were a couple of guards lounging at the front of the building. He handed the binoculars to Ken and when he looked through them, he found out that they were night vision binoculars.

Floyd led them back along the tree line toward the headquarters building. As they neared it, they slowed down to make sure they didn't alert anyone. They hadn't seen any dogs, but that doesn't mean there weren't any. They saw several Army trucks parked near the building. The building looked like it had been some sort of warehouse building before these soldiers arrived. There was enough light around it that they didn't need the night vision binoculars to see. They only saw two guards at the entrance.

Floyd moved further back into the trees. They crossed a road into another stand of trees. Floyd then led them across the main road that led to this part of the airport and into still another stand of trees. He then headed toward the building. They came to a partially open area that looked like they were the foundations of some long gone buildings. Floyd crouched down and looked at the other two. "You ready for some sneak and peek?" They nodded. There were no lights near the trees they were hiding in, so they were able to easily move across the old foundations to a point where they could see the back of the building. They watched for several minutes and didn't see any guards there so they padded across the parking lot, stopping next to the wall of the headquarters building.

They moved around the building on the opposite side of the front entrance, until they found a ramp leading underneath the building. They moved along the wall until they could see down the ramp. There were a few dim lights on inside the area, showing that it was empty. They hopped down to the ramp and slowly made their way underneath the building. Floyd took out his pistol and the other two copied him. Moving through the area, they saw that there was a loading dock at one end of the area. They carefully made their way to the loading dock. There was a ramp that led up to a large door where deliveries would be brought into the building. Floyd made his way up to the smaller door and listened for a few moments before he tried the knob. He was surprised that it was unlocked. He looked at the other two and slowly turned the knob. He pushed the door open, listening all the while. When the door was open far enough for him to see inside, he looked through the opening with his pistol pointed ahead of him. He saw no one and stepped through the partially opened door.

The other two followed Floyd and they found themselves in a storage area. There were some shelves with objects on them and a few covered pallets. Floyd led the way into the room to the opposite side where he could see a freight elevator and a set of stairs going up into the main floor of the building. Floyd headed to the stairs and paused at the bottom with his pistol up and ready. He listened for a few moments and then slowly started up the stairs. At the top he stopped at a swinging door. He slowly pushed it open and stopped when he heard a couple of men talking. He knew it was Spanish, but he didn't know the language beyond a few words and phrases. He turned around and pointed at Gabe and waved him forward. When Gabe was next to him, Floyd pointed to the opening. Gabe moved forward so he could hear the voices. He put his ear to the opening and bent his head down as he listened. After listening for a few minutes he looked at Floyd and pointed back down the stairs. Floyd carefully let the door close and they went downstairs, across the store room and outside, making sure the door was closed behind them. They retraced their steps up the ramp, around the building and back to the trees.

Once they were in the trees, they stopped and Gabe let them know what he had heard. "Mostly what they were saying was just talk between soldiers. Then one of them asked the other when they were supposed to take the children to the train station in Tuscumbia. At least I think that's what the guy meant. He was having trouble pronouncing the name. Anyway, the other told him that it was supposed to be on Monday evening. All the children were to be loaded in the trucks and taken there where they were to be loaded on a train heading west. The first one then asked why the children were being sent there. The second one didn't know and reminded him that it was none of their business anyway. They were just paid to follow orders. That's it, the rest was just talk between soldiers, except they were talking about how good looking some of the young ladies were that were in the camp. They were wondering if their captain might allow them to use some of them, since they were prisoners."

Floyd looked back at the building where he could see the two guards on the outside. "Well we don't know how many soldiers they have here, but I don't like the sound of that about the children nor about the young ladies. I don't think we can learn anything more tonight, so let's head back." They agreed and retraced their path to the truck.

Floyd drove them back to his house and said goodbye to Ken and Gabe. "I'll be out to the school later today. I don't know what we're going to do yet, but I'd like to do something to save those kids. Drive safe. I'll see you later." They said goodbye and drove back to the school arriving there around 3 a.m. Ken and Gabe shook hands and went to their quarters.

Since he had been up late, Ken slept in until 7 a.m. instead of 6 a.m., which was his normal time. Since it was a holiday weekend, there was no morning formation. He took a quick shower and made it to Pettus Hall for breakfast by 0730. He and Gabe shared a quick nod. Both of them looked a little tired.

After breakfast Ken headed to his office and was there only a short time when there was a knock on the open door. He looked up and saw Floyd standing there in jeans and a flannel shirt. "Good morning Floyd. You're here early." Floyd came in and sat down in front of Ken's desk. "Cap, I've been thinking about what we found out about that camp and anyway that I can think of it, we need to try and do something about it. Especially with what we heard about those kids. We can't let them take 'em away. God knows what will happen to them if they're taken. Besides, what is Ashwood doing having foreign soldiers in our country. I hope to Christ that Bryce stops that maniac."

"I know, but there's just you, me and Gabe that have any military training. We'd need, I don't know, about twenty others? What can we do?" Floyd was silent. "I didn't sleep at all once we got back. I was trying to think of a way to get people here that I know of, that could help us get those people out of there, but it would be at least a couple of days and more like a week before I could get such a group of people together. The problem with that is that it would be too late for those young kids. We've got between now and Monday night, if what those soldiers were saying is true."

"How many can you get? Maybe if you can get enough, we can sneak in like we did and surprise them. They didn't look very alert or well trained. With enough men, maybe as little as ten men, we could take out the headquarters, which is probably where the bulk of the soldiers are located. With them out of the way, the patrolling Humvee and whoever is inside the camp would be easy pickings."

Floyd shook his head. "The best I could probably do is maybe a couple that could be here in time. I was even thinking about asking Frank Brennan, the retired FBI agent that we met in Decatur. However, it still won't be enough. But, there was one thing you said about military trained people. I know where there are about thirty, I think you said, and they're mil….." Ken shook his head. "No way. We can't do that. They're just kids and I promised to take care of them. Bringing them into a battle is not taking care of them."

"Some are almost adults and they've been here for several years. Longer than most soldiers spend learning to be soldiers or even being soldiers. They are only lacking the experience. Maybe we take just some of the older boys. The older boys are the same age or almost the same age as a lot of regular soldiers. Most of the rest are close, too. It wouldn't be the first time that teenage boys were called on or volunteered to fight for their country. And that is what we are talking about. Remember what we promised when we joined the service, 'against all enemies foreign and domestic'. Well we have foreign soldiers on our land, running an illegal concentration camp on our land and the asshole in charge is paying them to do it. So we have enemies foreign and domestic and they're located just a few miles from here." Ken again shook his head. "I can't Floyd, I can't put those boys in harm's way. What if any of them are killed or seriously hurt? What do we say to their parents?"

"But what about those two you told me about, the twin brothers. We're talking about their brother and sister being taken away to god knows where, for who knows what reason." Ken said nothing as he got up and went over to the coffee maker. He held a mug up and Floyd nodded. He brought the two mugs over, handed one to Floyd and leaned against his desk. "I know, I mean I understand what you're saying. And maybe you're right about the older boys. Maybe they could help. I know what you mean about them being trained, but we don't really train them for war, like we do a regular soldier. Yes, we teach them a lot of the same things that soldiers are taught, such as leadership, self-discipline, teamwork and all that, but we're more about preparing them to go to one of the service academies to really learn how to be an officer if they choose to serve their country, or to have a good chance to go to a university that can train them in a field of their choice in the civilian world."

Floyd shrugged and looked down at his mug. "Well it was just a thought. It was the only place I could think of where we could get enough men to do the job in the short amount of time we have."

"Men? Some of these 'men', are still boys or barely teenagers."

"I still say that at least some of them could do the job with our help."

"I just don't see how, without putting them in danger of being killed. The parents would string me up by my balls and I wouldn't blame them." The frustration was clear in both of the men's voices. Ken wished he could do this, but they were school boys, not soldiers. Even if they were well trained school boys.

Outside Ken's office, Clay listened to the conversation between the two men. He knew it was wrong to do so. He had come to report to the major that everyone was well, and to give him a copy of the day's activities he had planned for the boys. He was glad he hadn't made his presence known when he heard them talking. After the major shot down Mister Bundy's suggestion, Clay quietly turned around and headed back to the barracks. He needed to talk to his officers. There had to be something that they could do to prove to Major Hartley that they could help. He knew that when Rory and Finn heard that their brother and sister were going to be taken away somewhere, one way or another, they would want to rescue them.

When Clay got back, he gathered the officers and NCOs. He asked some of the older cadets and the NCOs to keep an eye on the boys, because he needed to meet with the officers. He led the group over to the football stadium, because he was sure no one else would be there. They went into the field house and into the room where the team would look at game footage of their opponents when preparing for a game.

Clay waited until everyone sat down before starting. "I know you're all wondering about the secrecy and all. I went over to the major's office to deliver the morning report and he and Mister Bundy were in the office talking. When I heard what they were talking about, I stood

outside the room and listened. It was about that camp you guys found. Apparently the two of them, and I think Mister Rodriguez, checked the camp out last night. I heard the major say something about sneaking into the headquarters building and hearing about some orders the soldiers had."

He looked at Rory. "They were talking about your brother and sister being taken away somewhere." Rory jumped up. "What! Someone's taking them away!?" Clay nodded. "I think that is what they meant when I heard them talking about it. They were able to hear some of the soldiers talking. Oh and the soldiers aren't American soldiers. They said they were foreign soldiers being paid to keep people in these camps and they were going to take all the young kids away Monday night. They didn't seem to know where."

"We've got to stop them. I can't let them take Dale and Amelia away. I'll find some way to sneak in there myself and get them out. I know Finn will go with me." Clay held his hand up. "I know, I know, just calm down a moment. If it was me, I'd feel the same way, that's part of the reason I called this meeting. Mister Bundy told the major that he couldn't get enough people here to stop them from taking the kids away in time and he suggested us."

"Yeah, we could do it." Rory looked at everyone and nodded. Clay shook his head. "The major said he couldn't do that because he doesn't want any of us to get hurt. Mister Bundy said that we had been training longer than most soldiers and should be able to do it, especially those of us who have been here for years. The major still said no, because he didn't want to put us in danger. He was saying we could be killed if we did this."

"Well, so could my brother and sister and our parents and any of the rest of them in there. Hiller killed all those people in camps like this. If there is a way for us to help get them out, I'm all for it."

Clay nodded. "I'm with you. So we need to figure out what we can do to convince Major Hartley that we're old enough to help. Any ideas?" None said anything right away as they thought about the best arguments to present to Major Hartley. Rory had started pacing as he thought. His biggest problem was his concern for his family. Soon they began throwing out suggestions. They mostly went over what they had learned while at the academy about following orders, physical fitness, firearms training, and tactical training on the airsoft and paintball course.

Since there was a white board in the room that the coaches used for the football team in working on plays, Clay used that to list the ideas for discussion. They looked at the list it seemed to cover everything, but Clay still wasn't sure that it would be enough to convince the major. He knew that Mister Bundy seemed to think they could do it, maybe they should try to get him on their side and then together they could convince the major. He held his hands up to stop the discussion.

"Guys. Looking at the list, I think we've got the right idea. I was just thinking that even with this list of reasons why we could help, the major would still probably say no. But I had a thought, what if instead of trying to convince him that we should go because of these things we've learned, we instead come up with a plan of attack on the camp, ask Mister Bundy to look at it and then maybe if we convince him, he can help us convince Major Hartley." As he laid out his thoughts, the boys started nodding in agreement that his idea might be the way to go.

Clay erased the boards. "Okay, those of you who saw the camp, why don't you draw it as best that you can, including all the buildings you can remember. From that, we can try to come up with a plan of attack that could work using the resources that we have available to us."

Jim, Sawyer, and Rory walked up to the board and Jim drew a rough outline of the camp. The three of them talked together as they added approximate locations of the buildings in and around the camp. When they were satisfied they stepped to the side. "Could you guys label the buildings and other things that we should know about on the map?" They nodded and went into a huddle once again to discuss which building was which. When they finished, they now had the headquarters building, the building where the little kids were taken, the areas where the tents were located. The other buildings that were on the map, they put question marks on them because they didn't know what they were used for.

Clay took over once the three boys were satisfied they had everything that they could think of on the map. He looked at the map for a few moments as he thought about how best to take the camp. Obviously the headquarters building had to be taken first. He didn't know how the three men had snuck into the building last night from the drawing and when asked, the three that saw the camp couldn't figure out either. Maybe there was a backdoor that was unguarded?

"Well the first thing is how do we take the HQ. You guys said you think that is where most of the soldiers are located, right?" They nodded. "So we know about the main entrance, that would be most direct way in but probably the hardest. Maybe we need to find out how the major and the others snuck in last night. Maybe we need to get a closer look at the building." He paused a moment before continuing. "We know that as soon as we attack, they are probably going to come out of the building ready to fight. Looking at the ground we have to fight on, how do we beat them? First though we need to think about when. They were talking about Monday night being when they would be taking the kids away, so we need to do it before then and I think the best time would be real early in the morning. We would have to get into place before daylight. That is usually when most soldiers will be sleeping and the guards will probably be the least aware."

Jim raised his hand. "Clay, I think we need to look at what we have available to us for the attack." Sawyer who was in charge of the guns stood up. "I'm not exactly sure of this and Jackson who is the Armorer NCO probably would know this better than me, but I'm pretty sure we have some boxes of ammunition stored in the armory for the M1s that we have stored there. We use some of the rifles for the drill team, and the others are for the older cadets who are given a chance to shoot them. We also have the .22 rifles that the younger kids use for target practice and ammunition for those guns, too."

"Do you know how many?" Sawyer shook his head. "Not really. Maybe between ten and twenty. Jackson would know better. We also have some of those older guns in the Armory that they used back in the Civil War. You know the ones we carry when the drill team and color guard are dressed in Confederate uniforms for Confederate Memorial Day observances. Well I know we have quite a bit of black powder because we use that to make the blank rounds for the morning gun salute and the gun competition."

"Do you guys think we should bring the NCOs in on this?" They thought about if for a moment before heads started nodding. "Okay, Morgan do you think you can track them down and bring them over here." Morgan nodded and quickly left the room. Clay went back to the map. "So we know we have some rifles we can use. Sawyer do you think we could find some way to use the black powder, like to blow up part of the building or blow a hole in the fence or something like that?" Sawyer shook his head. "I think it would be too dangerous for us to mess with that. We don't know anything about demolition. We would be better off using the black powder in the old rifles, than trying to use it to blow stuff up."

Clay pointed to the map. "There's some trees over here right?" Jim nodded. "Then maybe this is where we attack the front of the building where the entrance is. The only problem is there is probably at least another door and we don't know where that is. Maybe the best thing would be to lure them outside and then ambush them." He pointed to the area between the HQ building and the nearby buildings outside of the fence. "Maybe if we draw them out here and take cover around these buildings, with maybe some of us up on the roofs of these buildings. Then when we get them in this area, we can open fire and maybe take them by surprise." He pointed to another part of the map. "We could also hide some of our guys in the woods near the entrance and once they come out of the building and start moving over here, they can come up behind them and get them in a crossfire."

They continued talking tactics for the next ten minutes until they heard footsteps outside the room. Morgan and the three NCOs, Pierre Harrington, Cannon NCO, Jackson Carmichael, the Armory NCO, and Tyler Covington, the Medical NCO walked into the room. Clay waved them to seats. "Did Morgan tell you why we wanted you guys here?" They shook their heads. "I didn't get a chance. I saw Mister Bundy around and wanted to get in and out of there without anyone seeing us leave." Clay nodded and then explained what was going on.

"Well I can answer a couple of the questions about the Armory. We have twenty of the M1s in there. There is about the same number of .22 rifles. I think there are plenty of clips for the M1s. The .22s are all bolt action with a tube magazine underneath the barrel that holds fifteen rounds and we have a lot of ammunition for them. For the M1s, each clip holds eight rounds. I think we have a total of around one thousand rounds for them, which would be enough to fill a few clips for each rifle with a little left over. There are also some lead minie bullets for the Civil War rifles too."

"But we couldn't use those, they'd probably blow up." Jackson glanced at Tyler and shook his head. "No, the rifles are working reproductions. The older cadets get to shoot them for fun." Clay and Jim were both nodding their heads remembering when they got a chance to live fire them. "Even though they can shoot, I don't think we should use them. I mean they're muzzle loaders. During the Civil War the best soldiers could get off three shots a minute and I don't think any of us are that good with them." Clay pointed out. Jackson nodded. "But if you hit someone with one of those bullets, they go down and stay down. They'll tear a huge hole through someone. If you hit them in the arm or leg, they'll almost tear it off. If you hit them in the body, they probably won't be getting up anytime soon, if at all."

"Okay, so we'll think about that. How many rounds do we have for the muzzle loaders?" Jackson thought for a moment. "Maybe enough for a few shots each."

"Maybe if we fired a volley from cover for the shock value and then switched to more modern guns, they might be useful. I don't think any of us are good enough to get more than one shot off with them in a minute. Did you guys get a good look at the guns the soldiers were carrying?" The boys nodded. "Yeah. They were AK-47s. The weapon of choice for terrorists and many foreign armies." Clay nodded. "That's what I figured. That makes it harder for us. They've probably got more ammunition than us and more modern weapons, than we do. They're trained soldiers and we aren't exactly trained like them, but we are trained and from what I overheard Major Hartley and Mister Bundy saying, they didn't seem to think much of those soldiers, so maybe that's a point in our favor."

Pierre raised his hand. "This might be kind of crazy, but I was thinking about something. You said that we had enough of the bullets for the muzzleloaders for a few shots each. What if we used the extra bullets and made canister rounds instead?"

"Canister rounds?" Pierre nodded. "Yeah. Well we would have to use a mountain gun to do it. I make the blank rounds we use for the gun salutes. Normally I fill the shell with a small load of black powder and use Styrofoam as a wad to hold the powder in place, because the Styrofoam disintegrates when we fire the gun. What if we put some of the extra bullets between the black powder and the Styrofoam? When we fire it we get a canister round. It turns the gun into a giant shotgun. It will shred anything in front of it. Canister rounds were some of the most devastating cannon loads during the Civil War."

"Okay, so we would have to get one of the guns there. That should be easy enough to do since they break down pretty easily."

"How many guns do we have?" Clay asked. "The five that we use for the Mountain Gun Race. No wait, six counting the morning gun." Clay turned to the map. "How fast can you fire one of the guns?" Pierre shrugged. "I don't know the official rate of fire but, it takes probably less than ten seconds to load, so at least six to ten rounds a minute."

Clay looked at the map a little longer and then pointed to the area facing the HQ entrance. "What if we put some of the guns here and fired them as the soldiers try to leave the building?" Sawyer stood up and walked over to the map. He pointed to one area. "The fence line runs along here and part of it is covered by that fence screen. It runs along here and around some structure in this corner. What if we put one gun here facing south so that it covers this big open area, the screen would hide the gun? Then when the soldiers try to cross that area we could hit them from the flank. We could even have one stationed right near this corner of the building. They can be moved easily, so we just push it around the building corner and fire it at any of them trying to get across the same area, then pull it back around the corner out of sight to reload if necessary."

"That could work, I guess. We would just have to get all of the guns there. We could put four of them facing the entrance and the other two where you said. The biggest danger position I see is the gun along the fence right here would be in the open. After firing it, the crew would be in the open with no cover except the gun, oh and the black powder smoke. Maybe with it being so early in the morning it might still be low enough visibility, the crew might be able to get away from the position after firing one shot, and all the confusion and smoke. I think we really need to get a better look at the place and see where we could set up the guns and position the fire teams to make the best use of the lay of the land. Who would be the best ones to do the recon?"

"Before anyone answers that question. I'd like to ask what else you overheard." Everyone in the room froze and looked at the doorway in surprise as Floyd walked into view and leaned against the doorframe with his arms crossed, a stern expression on his face.

"Oh, um, everything, sir. I didn't mean to eavesdrop this morning, but I heard you and Major Hartley talking when I came to make my morning report to him. I thought that we could help, so I gathered my officers to make a plan to show the major what we could do." Floyd straightened up and walked into the room to look at the map on the whiteboard for a few moments. He turned to Clay. "Tell me what you've come up with." Clay nodded. "Yes sir." For the next few minutes he talked about what they had come up with so far.

"I'd like to see these mountain guns you're talking about. You said that they could be broken down easily for transportation?" Sawyer nodded. Clay snapped his fingers. "I just thought of a way to cover the gun crew that will be out in the open, but it probably won't work because we would need pistols and we don't have any at the school."

"What is your idea son?"

"Cavalry. Our cavalry. If we have our horses behind that building, we could charge out and fire pistols at the soldiers and charge back. That way we could cover the gun crew as they head for safety behind the building."

"Okay, not sure about the horses though. How would we get them to the camp?"

"We have a big trailer that we use to get to competitions or events that we compete in. It will hold up to ten horses and we have six here."

"Alright we'll talk about the feasibility of that later." He made a mark on the headquarters building. "Right here is a loading dock that gives access to the inside. That is where we snuck in to hear their plans. With a small group, we could get in here and attack them from the rear, plus stop anyone from using the loading dock as a way out of the building. So let's say you take the building. What are you going to do about the guarded building inside the camp where the kids are? Once you start this, you will not have surprise on them like you will with the HQ."

"Drive one of the trucks through the gate and force them to surrender. If we capture one of the officers or NCOs in the HQ, we can make them order the soldiers inside to surrender." Floyd nodded. "That might work. What if they don't want to be prisoners?"

"We could promise to let them go where they want to if they surrender. But they have to leave their guns."

"Okay, so you let them go. What are you going to do with all these people? Where are they going to go? Once those soldiers get to a place where they can call for help, they'll be back and probably with more men."

"We take all the trucks there and leave."

"Okay, leave and go where?" The boys looked at each other. None seemed to know what to do next. "I don't know, we didn't think that far ahead."

"Thought so. You would have to go west and try to get across the Mississippi. That's the dividing line between the sides. The trip is almost 200 miles from here, so getting everyone to safety will still be dangerous. You might have to be prepared to fight to get free, but that is your best bet, to head west."

Floyd looked at the boys. "What you are talking about is very dangerous and some of you could get killed or seriously hurt. You heard what your major has said. I'll leave you to think about it."

"Are you going to tell Major Hartley?" Floyd shook his head. "Nope, you are." He turned and left the room. They watched him go. "I don't care what the major says, one way or another, my brother and I are going to save our family. Unless someone is locking us up somewhere. Even then Finn can probably figure out a way for us to get out, we're going to help them get free."

"I know. I think we feel the same way we just have to convince the major, and figure out who is going to take part."

"Everyone of course. We would need all of the cadets to help us fight the soldiers. We can't do it with just us here and maybe a few of the older cadets. We probably need everyone to make it work. Especially if we are heading west after we get them out, we would have to take everyone with us. We couldn't leave anyone behind. If we did, then they could get in trouble." The others reluctantly agreed, now they had to figure out who would do what, so that they could show Major Hartley that they could do the job.

Ken was just exiting Pettus Hall when he saw Floyd walking across the front lawn of the academy. "Hey Floyd. Where've you been?"

"Just went for a walk." He looked around. "This is a nice location, very peaceful." Ken chuckled. "Yeah, peaceful. Until you have two hundred boys running around. Then I wouldn't call it peaceful."

"No matter, it is a nice place." He paused a moment. "Have you given any more thought on what we talked about?" Ken nodded. "Yep, but I'm no closer to a solution than I was before. I don't know what we can do without the manpower."

"Maybe the answer will come to you. I'll start with seeing what I can do, but we don't have much time. I'd like to take a look at that place again myself, just from the outside. Maybe take some more pictures."

"Would you like to have another cup of coffee?" Floyd nodded and followed Ken back into the building. He saw something out of the corner of his eye and he looked over his shoulder. What he saw was the group of cadet officers and NCOs heading their way. He had a smirk on his face as he followed Ken to his office.

They had just gotten their coffees and Ken had just sat down when the sound of footsteps outside the office. Both men looked up and saw the group of cadet leaders step into the room. Clay was in front. He noticed the look on Clay's face and immediately sat up, worried that there was a problem. "What is the matter?" Clay stepped forward and came to attention.

"Sir, I wish to apologize for something that I did earlier and I am prepared to take whatever punishment that you deem necessary for my transgression." Ken was concerned now. He couldn't think of anything that Clay could have done that would warrant punishment. "What transgression do you believe that you have committed Cadet?"

"Sir, conduct unbecoming of an officer and cadet." Ken's eyes opened wide as this was a very serious offense, which in normal times could result in dismissal from the academy. He still could not think of what Clay could have done, unless he hurt one of the other cadets, like maybe his roommate Hardy. He held up his hands. "Slow down. Tell me what you believe you have done that would be considered conduct unbecoming?"

"Sir, I overheard you and the Sergeant Major talking this morning by eavesdropping outside your door when I came to deliver the morning report." Ken was relieved. Although it was not something that Clay should have done and it would be something that was worth some demerits normally if he had been caught at it, but he didn't think it came anywhere near the charge of conduct unbecoming. "At ease Cadet Major Aragon." The boy relaxed a little and assumed the parade rest position.

"I don't believe that what you did reaches the level of conduct unbecoming. Why don't you explain how you believe it is that serious?" Clay came back to attention. "I said at ease. Relax and talk to me." Clay again relaxed. "Sir, this morning when I was going to bring you the morning report, I overheard you and the sergeant major talking about the camp. Instead of alerting you that I was there, I instead turned around and quietly left. I then shared the information with my leaders. We met in secret and started working on a plan to rescue everyone at the camp. I am reporting this transgression because Sergeant Major Bundy said that I should."

Ken's head whipped to Floyd. "What is he talking about, Sergeant Major?" Floyd put his cup down. "Well, when I was out walking around watching the other boys, I noticed that one there..." He pointed at Morgan. "…skulking around a bit and then he grabbed those three…" This time he pointed at Pierre, Jackson and Tyler. "…and they started across the campus to a building near the football stadium. I was curious and followed them. When I got there I did what young Clayton did. I stood outside the door and listened to them. They were working on a plan to bust those people out and at an appropriate point, I walked in and let them know that I was there."

Ken looked at Clay and the rest of the boys. "Cadet, I will first say yes, eavesdropping is not an honorable way to act. However, I don't think it is any problem that we need to discuss at this point. Just don't make a habit of it, son." Ken reached for his cup and took a sip.

"Sir, I've come…."

"We've come, sir." Clay looked at the others who had stepped forward to show they were with him. He turned back to face Ken. "We've come to tell you that since they're going to ship those little kids away, we have to bust them out. We can't leave them or any of the other people there. Mister Bundy said that he thought we could help, so we're volunteering. Besides Finn and Rory's family are in there."

"Wait a minute boys. You know those are real soldiers, with real guns. This isn't paintball or airsoft, you get shot, and it's for real and you can die. As the commandant, I said that I would take care of you and bringing you into a battle is not taking care of you."

Clay looked at him. "Sir, with all due respect. If you won't let us help save them. We'll do it ourselves. No matter what the cost, sir. We outnumber you and begging your pardon sir, but you can't stop all of us. Rory and Finn won't let their brother and sister get taken away and since they are our brothers, we won't let them do it on their own."

Ken grimaced as he looked at Floyd, who shrugged. Ken shook his head in disbelief. "You agree with them?"

"With a good plan, it could work." Ken got up and walked to the window and looked outside for a few moments. When he turned back around, he met the gaze of each of the boys. He could see the determination on their faces, especially Rory when they returned his gaze. He knew there was nothing short of locking them all up somewhere. He returned to his seat and looked at Clay. "This is crazy, probably foolhardy and stupidly dangerous, but what is your plan?" The boys relaxed. "It might be best if we go to the field house, sir." Ken got up and followed the boys. Floyd walked next to Ken. "Told you they could help." Ken growled at Floyd. "Shut up Sergeant Major." Floyd grinned. "Yes sir, Major sir."

They followed the boys back over to the field house at the football stadium and into the team room. Clay walked over to the white board with the camp drawing on it. Ken looked at the drawing a moment before he took a seat in front. Floyd joined him as the rest of the boys sat down behind them. "Okay Mister Aragon. What do you have to show me?"

Clay glanced at the map. "Sir, this is what we know about the camp." Clay started explaining what they knew, pointing at the buildings as he spoke. He again mentioned that it would be good if they could take a look at the place again. Floyd spoke up then. "I was thinking about it and we may not need to." He looked at Ken. "Would you be able to print out pictures from a digital camera?" Ken nodded. "That's right, I forgot that you had that camera with you when we went there." He looked at Clay. "We'll get to the pictures in a little while. Why don't you tell me your plan?"

Clay swallowed nervously and began to lay out the plan they had discussed. The use and placement of the Hotchkiss Mountain Guns and using the lead minie bullets to make canister rounds for the guns. He talked about hearing that the major, Mister Bundy and Mister Rodriguez had snuck in and maybe they could do that again to hit them from the rear. Use of all of the guns that they had even the muzzleloaders for at least one volley for the shock value. Luring out the soldiers and then hitting them with two of the guns and their cavalry. Once the headquarters was taken out then going into the camp to rescue the kids and their families.

Ken had listened quietly as Clay laid the plan out. "When did you want to put this plan into action?" Clay thought for a moment. "Early Monday morning. We have to do it before Monday evening because then the kids will be gone. Trying to do it Sunday morning doesn't give us enough time to get everything together. This way we can work on the plan the rest of today and all day tomorrow and make sure all the guns and equipment are ready. We can also send a recon team out to the camp to see if anything has changed. Once we are ready, we move into position after midnight and then attack at early morning on Monday when they will be the least prepared for it."

"And you expect to use all of the cadets?" Clay nodded. "Yes, sir. Because of what we are doing, we won't be able to stay here afterwards. Someone may find out that we were the ones who busted them out and they will send more soldiers." Clay glanced at Floyd. "We'll have to head to the west to get to safety."

"We don't even know what is happening west of here. To get to safety, you will have to cross the whole upper part of Mississippi and then cross the river, that's about a couple of hundred miles from here to the Mississippi River. How are you going to make that?"

"We can stick to the back roads. Stay away from all the major highways. Maybe travel only at night. It might take a couple of days, but we could make it. We really have no choice sir. If we don't do something, then no one will, sir. Then all those kids will be gone where we won't be able to help them. This is their only chance, sir. We have to do this, because there is no one else around here that can or will. There was one other thing I thought of, sir. Some of the other cadet's families may be there as well. That could be why they haven't come and picked them up."

"And you realize, that if we do this, those will be real soldiers with real guns, shooting real bullets at you. Any of you could be hurt, maybe killed." Clay nodded. "Yes sir. We know, but like I said, if we don't do something. Who will?" Ken shook his head. "I don't know, but maybe we can do this with just you older cadets. Leave the younger ones out of it." Clay shook his head. "No sir. I don't think we can. We can't leave them here. If we leave them behind, they could end up in one of those camps too or maybe worse. The soldiers are going to be awful mad when they find out what we did and I don't think they're going to care how young any of us are. The best thing we can do is try to make sure the younger guys stay down under cover, but we need them to help in the attack."

Ken was frustrated but he was starting to see there was nothing else they could do. He could tell that the boys were going to do this with or without him. Clay had been right, he couldn't lock them all up, they would get out somehow and if they weren't prepared, then it could easily be a disaster. He knew there was a good chance it might still end up that way, but with careful planning, maybe they could make it happen.

Ken stood up. "Okay, let's head back to Pettus Hall." There were several satisfied smiles on the faces of the boys who followed the two men. Floyd stopped at his truck to grab the camera with the pictures on it.

Their first stop was to Ken's office where he printed out Floyd's pictures. Once they were printed, they went into one of the conference rooms where the teachers met. It had a large whiteboard on one wall. Ken had the boys draw the layout of the camp and the surrounding buildings. Then using tape, they attached the pictures to the map, so that they could match the drawing to the picture.

Once everything was ready, Ken had Clay go over the plan again, this time he made comments and suggestions that were written on the board. Finally, Clay finished. Ken stood up and checked his watch. "First thing is that it is about time for lunch. After lunch, Clayton, Sawyer, Pierre and Jackson, we are going to the armory to look at the guns and equipment,"

"I think I'll go with you too Cap." Ken nodded to Floyd. "I'll ask Gabe to joins us as well. The rest of you, since you haven't been around the cadets very much this morning, I want you to spend time with them and act as if nothing is going on. We will bring them into this later once I have a better idea what resources we have." The boys nodded. "Then let's go have lunch." As they left the room, they could hear the noise of the boys heading to the dining hall.

After lunch the group going to the armory headed over there, while the rest of the officers spent time with the other cadets, keeping them busy with games and activities. When they arrived at the armory, Sawyer opened it up with the keys he carried as the Armory Officer for the Corps of Cadets. Inside the armory were the locked racks of rifles. One rack held the M1s used by the drill team and the rifle team. Another had the .22's used for target practice and a third one had the reproductions of the Springfield Rifled Muskets of the type used during the Civil War. There were twenty of each of the rifles.

On another shelf were twenty empty stainless steel cannon cartridges for the mountain guns. Sawyer unlocked a large safe like cabinet in the corner and inside were boxes of ammunition and a bunch of one pound cans of black powder, labeled 1F and 2F. Sawyer pulled out a couple of the cans of powder. "This is what we use for the cannons and the Civil War rifles. 1F is used for cannons and 2F is for rifles."

Floyd walked over to the rack of M1s to look them over. Sawyer moved over and unlocked the bar that held them in place and put it aside. Floyd glanced at Sawyer who nodded to him and he took one out of the rack to check it over. He noted that they were very clean and in excellent shape. He pulled and locked the bolt back. He put his thumb in the breech and looked down the muzzle. The bore was in just as good a shape as the rest of the rifle. He glanced at Sawyer. "These are in outstanding shape. You say that you have clips for all of these?" Sawyer nodded. "Yes sir, plenty." Sawyer opened a drawer and showed him a bunch of empty clips. Floyd nodded satisfied.

"So how much ammo do you have for the guns?" Sawyer went to a locked cabinet and opened it. Inside were boxes of cartridges. He and Jackson silently counted them. "Well there was more than I thought. We have 100 boxes of .30-06 for the M1s, that's 2000 rounds and ten bricks of .22s, that's 5000 rounds." Jackson then opened another drawer and reached inside for a few moments. "We also have about 100 rounds for the Springfield rifles. Plus this." He pulled a couple of items out of the drawer. One was a bullet mold and the other was a small lead ingot. "We can make more lead bullets with the mold and the lead pot over there. There's about fifty bars of lead in here, so we can make more than enough to fill the cannon shells." Floyd put the M1 back in the rack and walked over to pick up one of the minie bullets. He hefted it in his hand and nodded. "Yep, I can see how this would ruin someone's day. That's a big bullet." Jackson nodded. "Yes sir. .58 caliber, about an ounce of lead."

Floyd looked at Jackson and gestured to the guns on the racks. "All of these guns are working?" Jackson nodded. "Yes sir. We check them each week and make sure they're oiled properly and all moving parts are in good shape." Floyd looked at Ken. "Since there appears to be enough ammunition. I suggest we let each boy fire one full clip from the M1 as practice, for two reasons. One, is to see who can shoot them, and two because they are heavy and I think some of your boys may not be able to carry them and use them correctly because of that. So they should get a feel for what it is like to shoot one. They have a bit of a kick when they are fired."

Ken nodded. "Makes sense. Since there are only twenty of them, we'll need to make sure that the twenty best shots that can handle them, should use them." Floyd nodded. "I think you should get everything ready for them to practice starting early tomorrow. I'm going to head home and grab a couple of things. Cap, do you have a place for me to stay in the house?" Ken nodded. "Good, I'll be back by evening chow and we can talk some more then."

Floyd said goodbye to them and left the armory. Ken looked at the boys. "Okay, I think we need to get to work. Jackson, do you know how to make the bullets?" He nodded. "Then start on that. Make as much as you want. Use all of the lead you have there. Sawyer help him with that and then the two of you can start working on your canister rounds. The rest of you break out the .30-06 ammo and start filling the clips. I'll show you how to load them." Everyone got to work.

By the time dinner came around there was a pile of shiny lead bullets next to the lead pot and there was a significant dent in the stack of lead ingots. The clips for the M1s were loaded and ready for use. They found that there was enough to fill all of the clips with a few boxes left over. Ken looked around and nodded. "Good work men. Let's lock up and go get cleaned up for dinner and we'll take care of the rest of this tomorrow." The boys nodded and got everything put away and locked up before heading back to the dorms to clean up.

Ken headed over to Wheeler house to clean up. As he walked over he saw Floyd's truck pulling up and parking next to the building. Floyd got out and waited for him. "Hey Cap. Come to the back of the truck, I want to show you something." Ken followed him to the back as he lowered the tailgate. The first thing he saw were several military ammo cans and some hinged wooden crates. He glanced at the labels on the ammo cans and saw they were a mixed lot. Some of them were labeled 5.56, there were couple labeled .45, and a few more labeled .30-06.

"Are all of these full of ammo?" He said pointing at the stack of ammo cans. Floyd nodded. "I thought that since we were leaving anyway. I thought I'd bring some of my toys along with us." He was smiling as he opened one of the wooden crates. Inside were a ten M1911 .45 ACP pistols. "When the Army switched from the .45 to the M9 Beretta, I was able to get my hands on these as surplus." He picked one up and handed it to Ken. He looked it over and nodded. It was in perfect shape. When he looked up, Floyd was holding out a holster for him. "That one's for you. You already have one of my 1911s, so you can put it in this. The other's I thought I'd give to the boys who were talking about needing them for their cavalry. I have holsters and web belts for them."

He closed that crate and opened the bigger crate. Inside, arranged side by side were five AR-15 rifles. He pulled one out and handed it to Ken. When Ken looked it over he found that his first thought was wrong, these were not AR-15s, they were M16s. He saw the selector switch on the side that allowed them to be fired in semi auto, burst and full auto. He gaped at Floyd. "Where did you get these?" Floyd smiled. "A buddy of mine helped me out. When we started seeing all the bullshit that Ashwood was trying to pull, we did a little stockpiling of stuff in case we needed it. This is some of my stuff that I had stored just in case." Ken handed the M16 back to him.

Floyd opened the last crate. "But these are my babies." He pulled out two guns from inside. One was a Winchester Model 12 Trench Gun and the other was a BAR. "How the hell did you get a BAR?" Floyd chuckled. "A Sergeant Major does pick up a few good connections when you've been around the block a few times. Both of them were found in an old warehouse, along with a few others of their kind on one of the bases I was stationed at. They were still in their original cosmoline, so my friends and I rescued them from obscurity. They appeared to have been forgotten, so we liberated them for our own use." He put the two guns back in their case and lifted it up. "C'mon Cap, help me get all this stuff in the house." Ken just shook his head and grabbed the crate of pistols and took them inside.

After getting everything inside the house, they cleaned up for dinner. When Floyd came out of the spare room he was wearing his ACUs. When Ken saw that, he changed into his as well and the two of them made their way to the mess hall.

The boys were just entering when the two men got to the entrance of the mess hall. The boys stepped aside and let them go first. Ken greeted the boys as he walked by them. The two men got their meals and went to the table that they had been using as the command staff table. The other teachers and the cadet officers joined them.

After he had finished eating, Ken looked around and saw that most of the boys were finished or close to finishing, so he stood up. Clay immediately stood up and yelled. "ATTENTION!" Chairs were pushed back and the boys came to attention. "At Ease! Please take your seats!" Ken ordered. He looked out at his group of cadets.

"Cadets, we have recently learned of something very bad happening nearby. In fact it is nearly unbelievable that it could happen in our country. Most of you may not have really paid attention to what has been going on around the country for the last several months. Those of you here may be wondering why you haven't heard from your parents in some time. Some of you probably had believed you would be going home to spend time with your families this weekend for Thanksgiving. As we have had no communications with any of your families, we had no way to get you home, so you are still here." He looked at them and saw some nods from a few of the boys.

"Just to bring you up to date, we are at war." There were shocked gasps from several of the boys and they started talking and asking questions. Ken held his hands up until they quieted down. "No, another country has not attacked us. President Ashwood has decided he wants to rule this country like a dictator and Jackson Bryce and a lot of the citizens have said no. It is a Civil War, but instead of North versus South, it is East versus West. Ashwood controls most of the country east of the Mississippi River and Bryce controls the western half. We are behind enemy lines, and we need to get you guys to the west where it is safe. We've been lucky that Ashwood's forces have not made their way here so far. So we're going to get out of here before they do, because we don't know what they will do. But first, we need to stage a little rescue mission."

Ken looked at the cadets for a moment. "Just west of Courtland, a prison camp has been constructed to imprison innocent people. The guards appear to be soldiers brought here by Ashwood from Argentina. So it appears that not only is he trying to be a dictator, he knows that there are not enough US soldiers to support him, so he's brought soldiers from other countries to be his army. The reason we are doing this, is because the family of a couple of our cadets is being held there. So we are going to bust them and the other innocent people out of there and take them to safety in the west."

Many of the boys cheered at that, because it sounded like a great adventure. Ken waited for them to quiet down again. "Now I can't force you to do this, because truthfully, it is very dangerous for you. If you do this, it is possible that some of you sitting here today, could be hurt, maybe killed. We will be going up against real soldiers, with real guns, that will be aimed at you. We are doing everything we can to minimize the danger, but there is the possibility that some of the boys sitting here will not make it if we do this. If you do not want to be part of this, tell me now. I only want those who are willing to take part to be with us. There is no shame in being afraid. You are not soldiers, even though you are trained like them here at the school. If you do not want to do this, then we will still do what we can to protect you without putting you in any danger. Those of us at this table, the adults and the cadet officers will leave the room so that you can discuss this freely. We will be in my office. You can all come there or send a representative to give us your decision."

Ken went to the table and motioned for the officers to get up and come with him. There was a sound of a single chair moving and Ken looked up to see young Hardy Henson stand up from his seat and stand at attention. "Sir I wish to volunteer!" Ken looked at the young boy. More chairs scooted backwards and more of the young cadets stood up. Their cry was the same. "Sir, I wish to volunteer!" In just a short time all of the cadets in the room were standing. They had made their decision. Ken looked at his command staff and gestured for them to leave. "Very well. Go back to your free time while the officers and I make plans. Tomorrow will be a busy day for all of us. Dress in your ACUs in the morning, and we'll start working on what you will need to learn after breakfast."

The officers left the room and went to Ken's office. They took seats around the room. "Well I guess that's it. Now we need to make it work and bring them to safety as best we can." At that moment Father Lafferty entered the room. Ken looked up. "Yes Father?"

"I was just talking to Richard and Hillary. They told me that they are staying behind. They feel that they will be safe enough here. They have their own home on the grounds. They said that they will be fine. As for me, I'm going with you."

"You know we are going into a fight." Patrick nodded. "Of course and I'm going with you. I heard something one time that I believe fits this situation. A shepherd must tend to his flock and at times….fight off the wolves. This is one of those times." Ken nodded. "Very well. Let's begin gentlemen." The discussion of the plan started.

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