Castle Roland

Duty and Honor

by Eric Aune


Chapter 5

Published: 27 Apr 17

Duty and Honor

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

Duty and Honor LogoSawyer checked his watch for the umpteenth time. It was almost 0600. He hoped that everyone was in place. He nervously checked again and it was now just a couple of minutes to six and there was a faint light in the sky heralding the dawn. He moved forward carefully and saw that both soldiers seemed to be awake now. One was standing up talking to his partner. The other was sitting down and leaning against the building. He could hear their voices but could not make out what they were saying. There was a faint light shining from inside the building. He waved Brock and Rhett over to his gun. They hunkered down behind his gun. Keeping his voice low he told them what he had seen. He glanced at his watch again. "Load your guns quietly and raise your hand when you're ready. When I bring my hand down, fire. After our initial shot, we'll wait until more soldiers come outside to investigate, then we will fire our three rounds as fast as we can. When we have expended everything, we hightail it back to the trees and join the others. Watch for the younger guys when we run." The two older teens nodded and went back to their guns.

They opened the breech block, the loader inserted the shell into the breech, the gun captain closed it and hooked the lanyard to the firing pin eye, stepping back with his hand raised, he signaled his gun was ready. The loaders turned away and covered their ears. Sawyer looked to either side and raised his hand. He brought his arm down and there were three loud booms with fire and smoke shooting out of the ends of the guns. The standing guard was nearly cut in two as he was hit with several minie bullets. The guard on the ground was seriously wounded as he reached up to his friend to hand him a cigarette. He was flung back against the wall by several bullets. The front of the building was mostly glass, and it shattered when the bullets hit it.

The three guns were quickly reloaded and the gun captains raised their hands once again to show that they were ready. Sawyer moved forward to get a clear look at the front of the building. The two guards were not moving. He watched carefully. A short time later he could see some shadowed movement inside the building. He waited for more of the soldiers to show themselves. Eventually he saw more of the soldiers moving inside the building. This was it. He stepped back a little but kept his eyes on the front of the building as he raised his hand. His gun captains watched his raised arm.

The cadets in position at the building and the container looked up when they heard the fire of the three guns. They could faintly see the smoke from the firing of the guns drifting up into the air in front of the gun positions. Those on the roof of the building poked their heads over the small ledge and in the faint light, they thought they could see their friends moving around near the guns. The mountain guns emplaced nearby were checked to make sure they were loaded. Around and on top of the container they checked their rifles and looked at the building. Ken looked around the side of the container waiting for the next part.

Underneath the building Floyd and Gabe looked at each other and took the safeties off of their rifles, pointed them at the door and got ready.

On the far side of the camp, one of the two soldiers who were supposed to be on roving patrol but were instead sleeping in the Humvee woke up and looked around with a puzzled expression on his face. He looked up at the sky to check for rain clouds.

At the guard building where the young kids were being held, the two guards on duty at the entrance looked over in the direction of the headquarters and exchanged puzzled glances.

In the camp, some of the internees sat up in their cots and looked around wondering what had awakened them. It had sounded kind of like thunder.

In the headquarters building in one of the offices that was being used as a duty office, the sargento on duty was sitting in the office chair tilted back and dozing. When the cannons were fired, he jerked awake and the chair fell back and he cracked his head against the wall hard enough that he was slightly dazed as he tried to figure out what the noise had been. In another part of the building that was being used as barracks by the rest of the soldiers, most of them sat up and looked around. There wasn't another sound so most laid back down but the sargento primero got up and started for the door. In the hallway he met the capitan. The officer waved to the front of the building. "Sargento Primero, de averguar lo que era." (First Sergeant find out what that was.) The Sargento Primero saluted. "Si, Capitan." (Yes Captain).

The sargento primero went to the duty room. When he looked inside he saw the duty sargento on his hands and knees shaking his head. He went over to him. "Que paso?" (What happened?) He asked him as he helped the man to his feet and the sargento shook his head.

"No lo se. Yo estaba sentado en la silla y habia un fuerte ruido y la silla cayo hacia atras y me golpee la cabeza. Tuvimos un terremoto?" (I don't know. I was sitting in the chair and there was a loud noise and the chair fell backwards and I hit my head. Did we have an earthquake?).

The sargento primero knew he had probably been sleeping and was startled by the noise. "Vamos, vamos a ver lo que esta pasando." (Come on, let's go see what's going on.)

They left the room and headed to the front entrance. When they entered the lobby area where their radio was located at the reception desk they stopped in shock at the destruction of the room. The windows were blown inward and the radio that was near the open door was sparking and the dial on it was dark. He could see that parts of the radio were shredded by bullets or something. They crouched behind the desk and looked out of the front windows. They could see the two guards who had been outside lying on the ground. They were apparently dead. The duty sargento stayed behind the desk while the sargento primero went to report to the capitan.

He went to the office the capitan was using for his room. The capitan was buckling his pistol belt around his waist. The sargento primero saluted. "Capitan, alguien ha matado a los guardias. Podemos estar bajo ataque." (Captain, someone has killed the guards. We may be under attack.)

"Obtener los hombres y conseguir que los bastardos que hicieron esto." (Get the men up and get the bastards who did this.)

"Si Capitan." (Yes Captain.)


The men started scrambling out of their cots and got dressed quickly. They grabbed their AKs and web gear. The sargento primero and the capitan led them to the lobby of the building. The duty sargento was there. "Hasta vista algo?" (Have you seen anything?) The man shook his head.

The sargento primero pointed at the corporals of two of the ten man squads. "Mudarse." (Move out.) The two corporals nodded and waved their squads forward.

Outside they spread out with their rifles up and looking around. One of the corporals checked the dead guards. "Madre de Dios." (Mother of God.) The wounds of the two guards were gruesome. At that moment they found out what had happened as it was like the fires of hell opened up from the line of trees and bushes about fifty yards away. The line of trees and bushes erupted in fire and smoke and there was the whistle of bullets flying all around them, several of the soldiers were hit and went down right away. The air was filled with the screams of the wounded and dying men and the roar of the guns that were firing. All they saw was streams of fire and clouds of smoke billowing toward them. The soldiers tried to return fire as they tried to find cover somewhere. Inside the lobby, the other soldiers hit the ground or ducked behind any cover they could find.

Behind the trees, Sawyer saw movement inside the building. He looked at his two gun captains and nodded. He waited and moments later he saw a large group of soldiers exiting the building and looking around. He brought his hand down and the three guns fired again. The guns were quickly loaded and fired two more times. Each time more of the soldiers went down. After the last round the crew grabbed their rifles and headed to the trees.

Almost immediately Sawyer's loader, Quinton gave a cry and stumbled. Sawyer brought his rifle up and fired a couple of rounds before pulling Quinton up and helping him as they ran. There was another cry and Tucker went down clutching his leg. Brock dropped down to his knees so that Tucker could climb onto his back. The six boys resumed their run.

The soldiers that could, moved forward firing their AKs at the tree line. When there was no answering fire, they continued forward. The sargento primero sent one of the remaining ten man squads out to assist the other men. He remembered the door that led to the loading dock. They would send some of the men that way. He pointed to the door that led there and the capitan nodded. "Voy a ir con ellos Sargento." (I'll go with them Sergeant.) The sargento primero nodded. "Si Capitan." (Yes Captain.)

The capitan led the squad to the door and opened it. He waved the men through. As the first couple of men started down the stairs, Floyd opened up with the BAR, Gabe was just a second behind him opening up with his M16. One man went down under the hail of fire from the BAR. The other man was wounded by Gabe and stumbled back through the door at the top of the stairs. The soldiers returned fire using the door frame as cover. A firefight between the two men and the soldiers at the door began.

When the gunfire started behind him, the sargento primero whipped around and saw his men firing through the door and one of the men stumbling back through the door barely holding on to his AK with wounds in his shoulder and hip. He looked out the front of the building and saw that the soldiers out there were moving forward and no more of that devastating fire was coming at them. There were several unmoving bodies on the ground and a few of the other men were crying out in pain.

"El Capitán, que han dejado de atacar a nuestro frente. Podemos dejar algunos de los hombres aquí para mantener a quienquiera que sea ocupado. Podemos enviar un pelotón por detrás de ellos y atacarlos desde la parte posterior." (Captain, they have stopped attacking our front. We can leave some of the men here to keep whoever that is busy, and send a squad around behind them and attack them from the rear through the loading dock.)

The capitan nodded and he tapped five of the men to go outside with them and the rest of the men, including the wounded man stayed behind to fire at the unknown enemy in the loading dock to keep them busy.

Outside they could hear gunfire and saw a few of their men had reached the trees and were firing at something out of sight to the right. One of the men knelt down to help one of the wounded soldiers when he was suddenly flung backwards by a bullet. The men out front turned in the direction the fire came from and knelt down searching for targets. More bullets came their way and they glanced inside where the capitan was and pointed to the east.

The capitan and sargento primero led the remaining men outside and he looked where the man was pointing. He saw the flash of a rifle shot from the top of the building and ducked down. He looked around to take a quick count of his men. There looked to be about twenty men who could fight. He saw the fence a short distance away that had the dark screening material attached to it. He waved his arm forward and they ran to the fence. Now they were hidden, although the screen wouldn't stop any bullets, it did keep them from being seen.

When the cadets at the building heard the mountain guns open up, they knew it was started and they made sure they were ready. The ignition caps were put on the muskets and everyone checked that the safety was off on their modern rifles. Clay had everyone mount up and be ready.

The guard in the Humvee that had awakened was just leaning back into his seat thinking it must have been thunder and was trying to get comfortable again when the guns opened up again. He and his companion both sat up this time and they jumped out of the Humvee. They were looking at the headquarters building on the far side of the camp when the guns fired again. They looked at each other and jumped back into the Humvee, got it started and started driving around the perimeter to get back to the headquarters and find out what was going on.

Inside the tents, most of those who had been awakened by the first gun volley had lain back down when nothing else happened. A few had decided to get up and look outside when the next round of cannon fire was heard. It was enough to wake everyone up. They all were looking at each other and wondering what was going on. Jack thought he knew. Those people he saw by the buildings must have really been soldiers and they were coming to rescue them.

At the guard building in the camp, the two guards unslung their AKs and brought them up to the ready position as they looked where the loud explosions were coming from. One of them turned to go inside to get the teniente when they both suddenly dropped as several rifle rounds ripped into their heads and bodies, but no sound was heard, except for the meaty thunk as the bullets tore into them. They didn't feel the downdraft moments later, nor did they see several black clad figures appear out of thin air and begin sliding down ropes that were dangling from nothing.

The cadets on top of the building took a few shots at the soldiers to get their attention and draw them away from the fleeing gun crews. They saw the soldiers move out of sight behind the screened fence line. They knew they could fire through the fence at the soldiers but the sergeant major had told them to not waste ammo, so they waited until they could see the soldiers again before they started firing. They switched from their M1s, lifted the muskets up and waited.

The gun crews had crossed the road and they heard bullets whipping by them. Rhett stopped and fired a few rounds from his rifle before they were swallowed up by the trees. Quinton stumbled and almost brought Sawyer down with him. Sawyer bent down and picked Quinton up over his shoulder and started moving forward again. Tucker was on Brock's back when he heard the older boy grunt and stumble a bit before catching himself and continuing to run. They saw both Rhett and Samuel turn and fire their rifles. They heard the distinctive ping as Rhett's first clip was ejected. While he reloaded, they heard the lighter crack of the .22 that Samuel was using. Brock and Sawyer took a couple of shots with their rifles but turned and ran when Rhett waved for them to go. Rhett pushed Samuel to run as he took a couple of shots back the way they had come from before he too turned and started running through the trees, stopping every so often to take a shot before continuing to run.

They kept to the trees nearest to the fence so that they would be able to quickly find the opening in the fence that they had been told would be there. They could hear the sound of shots coming from their right so they knew they were getting close. As they ran Brock stumbled again and this time he dropped his rifle, Tucker almost fell off his back. Samuel picked up Brock's M1 and dropped the .22 he had been using. He pushed against Brock to get him going. Brock looked at Samuel and nodded, hitched Tucker higher on his back and started running again. Sawyer was the first to spot the gap in the fence and he led them out of the trees, across the road next to the fence, and pushed through the opening. They continued across the open space toward the back of the nearest building. Rhett and Samuel stopped at the opening in the fence, dropped prone and were taking occasional shots back toward the headquarters building when they saw a target.

Behind the building Sawyer was breathing heavy as he put his rifle down and lowered Quinton. "There you go Quinton." As he lowered him he realized the boy felt like a dead weight and Sawyer's hands felt wet and sticky. He looked at them and saw that they had blood on them from where he had been holding the younger boy. He looked down at Quinton and the boy's chest was not moving. He knelt down and turned him over and saw two bullet wounds in his back. He looked over as Brock collapsed under Tucker's weight. Tucker rolled off and winced as he grabbed his leg. Brock pushed himself up and leaned against the wall. When he sat back he groaned and that was when they saw he had been hit as there was a large bloodstain on his upper stomach.

"Brock!" Sawyer moved over to him and quickly unbuttoned his jacket and opened it. There was a lot of blood covering most of his front. Tucker crawled over to him. Sawyer took his jacket off and then his undershirt and tore it into a couple of pieces. One he handed to Tucker to put pressure on Brock's wound. The other piece he tied around Tucker's leg where he had been hit. He heard running footsteps and saw Father Lafferty run from the other building over to them. He dropped down beside them and started working on Brock while Sawyer got his jacket back on.

Father Lafferty glanced over to the side where Quinton's body lay. Sawyer caught his eye and shook his head. Patrick closed his eyes for a moment to murmur a quick prayer before getting back to work on Brock. Sawyer picked up his rifle and went to join Rhett and Samuel at the gap in the fence. Brock groaned as his t-shirt was cut open so Patrick could look at the wound. He grabbed some large gauze from the pack and an Ace bandage and with Tucker's help he wound it tightly around Brock's stomach. Brock looked at Patrick. "Thanks Father." Patrick looked at Brock and he saw that he was very pale, probably due to blood loss. The wound was in the area of Brock's liver, and that wasn't good. "Just rest son. We'll take care of you." Brock nodded and leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes. Patrick looked at Tucker. "Let's see your leg son." He moved around and taking his scissors cut the pant leg open. The wound had started to clot, so he placed a gauze over the entrance and used medical tape to hold it in place. "That doesn't look too bad." Tucker looked at Brock. "Will Brock be okay?" Patrick looked at Brock before answering Tucker. Brock was breathing but he was very pale. "I don't know Tucker. Hopefully he will. We'll help him as best we can."

Patrick moved over to Quinton and although it was obvious to him that the boy was dead, he put his fingers to the boy's neck to make sure. There was nothing there. He bowed his head and placed his hand on the boy's forehead and chest as he said a prayer of absolution and asked God to take care of him.

Behind the screened fence, the capitan looked at one of the corporals. "Que encontraste alli?" (What did you find over there?)

"Algunos pequenos canones que se veia veijo." (Some little cannons that looked old.)

"Habien alguien alli?" (Was there anyone there?) The corporal shook his head. "No senor. Nos hicieron ver algunas figuras que se ejeculan en esos aboles." (No sir. We did see some figures running into those trees.)

"Muy Bien. Tomar quatro hombres y tartar de capturarlos." (Very well. Take four men and try to catch them.)

The corporal saluted. "Si, Capitan." (Yes Captain.) He pointed at four men and they followed the fence line and turned to the right moving out of sight. The capitan looked around and waved for the men to follow him along the fence line. He stopped at the point where the fence ended. There had not been too many shots from the building so he thought there probably weren't too many men over there. The enemy had probably planned on the little cannons doing most of the job, that and surprise. He looked at his sargento primero.

"El Sargento Primero cuando de la orden, tomar unos pocos de los hombres y nos da fuego de cobertura en ese edificio. Voy a llevar el resto de los hombres al edificio. Mantener la cabeza hacia abajo. Una vez que estamos alli, lleve a sus hombres en el muelle de carga y golpear al enemigo en el edificio de detras. A continuacion, llevar el resto de los hombres con usted y cirulo en tomo al otro lado del edificio." (First Sergeant, when I give the order, you and a few of the men give us covering fire on that building. I will lead the rest of the men to the building. Keep their heads down. Once we are over there, take your men into the loading dock and hit the enemy in the building from behind. Then bring the rest of the men with you and circle around to the other side of the building.)

The sargento primero saluted and tapped four men. He looked at his capitan who nodded. He led his four men out of cover and they kneeled down as they began to fire at the top of the building, as the capitan led the rest of the men around the fence line and across the grass toward the building. Some of the charging men firing at the building as they ran.

On top of the building Morgan watched the fence line, knowing that there were a number of soldiers behind it. He looked at his team. "Get ready. I think they're going to try to charge us. They probably don't know how many people we have because we haven't fired too often." His team nodded.

By the container Ken looked around and quietly called up to Rory. "Wait until I give the order." He heard the quiet reply. "Yes sir."

The two teams waited. Ken saw the small group of soldiers run out, take a knee and begin firing at the building top. He glanced at the building top and hoped the boys would keep their heads down. Moments later the bulk of the soldiers ran from around the fence toward the building. "FIRE!"

From the top of the building and the container there was a flash of black powder and several booms as the muskets were fired, followed by a second volley of muskets and then the cadets switched to their M1s. The two musket volleys surprised and staggered the soldiers. Not because many of them were hit, but because it came from both places and it was so loud and it showed them that there were a lot more of the enemy than they thought. Some of the men turned their attention to the container as they ran forward. There was a yelp from on top of the container when Carter was hit in the upper shoulder. His M1 dropped to the ground in front of the container as he grabbed his shoulder.

The sargento primero grinned to himself when he heard the cry and the sound of a rifle hitting the ground. He recognized the sound of the rifles that were firing at them. They were old US military rifles that hadn't been used for some time. He knew that some of their units had used those rifles years ago when they had been bought as surplus. Old cannons, old rifles, he dismissed them as probably a bunch of farmers. No match for trained Argentine soldiers. He grinned, this shouldn't take too much time.

The soldiers had made it almost halfway across the grass when there was a roar from their left side and a few of the men flew sideways as they were cut down by the canister load from Pierre's gun. The soldiers yelled in anger, it was one of those little cannons again. They saw someone get up from behind the cannon and start running for the building firing his rifle wildly at them. One of the soldiers that was wounded fired and the person went down.

From behind the building there was a yell. "CHARGE!" The soldiers heard a jingling sound and then from the back of the building came six horses with riders on them, charging across the front of their lines. The riders were firing automatic pistols at them as they charged by. The soldiers began firing again.

James ran from behind the building to help get Pierre to safety. He got to Pierre's side just as a couple of the enemy soldiers saw him and fired at the two of them. James was hit but was still able to help Pierre up and the two of them staggered back to safety behind the building.

The charging horses continued past them and turned to run away from the soldiers. The soldiers saw one of the riders near the back of the line of horses slump down and drop his pistol.

As the horses turned away from the soldiers, Clay and his cavalry saw headlights coming their way and from the vehicle they saw someone firing out the window at them. Clay felt something punch him in the leg and then he found himself flying forward as Hephaestus collapsed. He hit the ground hard and felt his arm snap as the .45 flew from his hand. The rest of the horses ran by and he heard one of the cadets cry out as they were hit as well. He couldn't tell who it was.

Although the soldiers were shocked by the cavalry charge, they resumed firing at the two locations. Then they were given pause as from the back of the building and the back of the container two of the little cannons were wheeled out and turned toward them. Behind each gun was a person holding a rope that was attached to it. They opened up on the gun crews.

Roy Lee was hit just before he pulled the lanyard and Austin had to grab him and the lanyard. On his knees Austin cradled Roy Lee and pulled the lanyard, firing the gun. At the container, the cannon fired but not before the Dover went down under the rifle fire. At this point the soldiers were getting very close and the two canister loads ripped into them, criss crossing in the middle. The majority of the soldiers were hit from both sides and went down. The canister rounds weren't the most accurate so some still were able to fight. The cadets at both positions kept up their rifle fire on the soldiers. From time to time you could hear a ping as an M1 was emptied. Ken turned to look at the horses and he saw Clay go down. He looked beyond Clay and saw the Humvee coming toward them.

"Shit. We forgot about their roving patrol." Hardy also saw Clay go down. "CLAY!" Hardy began running to Clay. "Hardy stop!" But the boy was not listening as he shot the last shot from his .22 and threw it down as he neared Clay. Gunfire from the Humvee was kicking up all around him. Ken started running at the Humvee trying to cover Hardy and Clay. As he changed magazines on the run, he felt two hits from the rifle fire from the Humvee and dropped the M16. He left it on the ground rather than picking it up, pulled his pistol and began firing it.

Hardy got to Clay and dropped down beside him. That was when he noticed the Humvee. He saw Clay's pistol on the other side of Clay and jumped over to get it. He brought it up and fired a couple of rounds before he felt like someone had punched him hard in the left upper chest and he fell on top of Clay.

"Hardy? Hardy?" Hardy turned over and smiled at Clay. "I came to help you Clay." Then the boy coughed and Clay's eyes opened wide as he saw the blood on Hardy's lips just before he fell forward over Clay. He grabbed Hardy. "Hardy! Hardy!" There was no answer. Clay tried to sit up just as he heard someone getting closer to him. He tried to get the pistol and looked to where the noise was coming from when he saw Major Hartley running up and firing his pistol. A second later there was the sound of a loud machine gun and then an explosion washed over them and Ken was thrown to the ground.

They felt a strong downdraft cross over them and they looked up to see a huge helicopter fly over them. It looked like it was painted red and the front of it looked like a fire breathing dragon with huge teeth. From under its nose were two big machine guns firing at the soldiers who were charging the cadets.

The capitan had been hit but he was still firing at the enemy, yelling his defiance. He heard the engine of the Humvee coming from behind the enemy and smiled. He started to get up when a giant helicopter suddenly appeared in the sky and it started firing. Immediately the faint light of dawn was lit by the exploding Humvee. Seconds later the capitan was looking up at the face of a snarling dragon as his body was torn apart by the 30mm chain gun rounds from the helicopter.

Inside the camp, the internees watched the battle that was taking place just outside the fence. One of them noticed the headlights of the Humvee speeding around the camp and heading toward their rescuers to attack them from behind. They started shouting but then were struck dumb as a huge helicopter seemed to appear out of thin air and take out the Humvee.

The helicopter kept moving forward and fired into the rest of the soldiers who were attacking the cadets. It hovered over the grassy area between the container and the building and swept its dual chain guns back and forth until all the soldiers were down. Some of the soldiers fired at the helicopter, but it was too late for them.

When the helicopter stopped firing, it went from ear shattering gun fire to silence except for the sound of the helicopter rotor. The helicopter slipped to the side and landed on the asphalt just to the south of the grassy area. The ramp of the helicopter lowered and a mini gun was deployed and aimed at the soldier bodies lying on the grass. As soon as the ramp touched ground a bunch of black clad and helmeted figures ran out. A lot of them looked to be about the size of the cadets, but they did see some larger adult sized people so maybe some of them were just short. Most of them ran over to make sure the soldiers were no longer a threat, while others ran to the cadets.

No one knew who these people were, but they were so shocked by their appearance, that no one fired at them. They heard an amplified voice that sounded like a girl coming from one of the figures.

"Who's in command?" No one answered right away. They looked at each other and then Ken answered from where he was standing near the side of the container. The figure looked in that direction and some of the people with her brought their guns to the ready. Ken 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." The figure nodded and one of the other figures headed in the direction that Ken indicated.

Then they started hearing calls for help from the buildings, and from the container. The figure looked up to the top of the container where Rory was calling for help. The figure looked at the container and saw that there was no easy way to get Carter down. She slung her M4 and leaped to the top lip of the container and pulled herself up with one motion. She picked Carter up and jumped back down to the ground, before laying him on the ground where one of the other figures knelt next to him. The man removed his helmet and opened his pack to start working on him.

Ken was watching the black clad soldiers work when he suddenly remembered something and glanced at the camp he called to the leader. "There are more soldiers in that building over there, they are holding a bunch of little kids hostage." The leader took her helmet off. "Not anymore Major." She pointed and they saw the young kids streaming out of the building. Behind them came several similarly black clad figures. One of them was really short, Ken wondered when they started allowing such small people in the military. Well with all this Ashwood crap going on, he guessed it was necessary for Bryce to use everyone that was willing and able to fight. Ken turned around and hobbled back to where Hardy and Clay were.

Inside the camp, most of the internees had ducked behind the tents as they watched the battle. When the helicopter stopped firing they began to stand up and walk into the open. They saw it land and watched as the black clad soldiers came out of it and spread out. Then they remembered their young kids and turned to the guard building right about the time that the young kids began streaming out. Their parents began to run toward their kids.

They saw some of the black clad soldiers behind them and they hugged them and thanked them for saving their kids. The soldiers didn't say much as they returned the hugs. One of the soldiers was really short and he was skipping along as he accepted hugs from everyone, especially the kids. They thought he might be a kid too, because of his height and he had a high kind of squeaky voice. He sounded like he was very happy to be there. They headed to the gate and one of the soldiers reached for the lock on the gate and ripped it off the chain. The soldier threw the remnants of the lock to the side before pushing the gates wide. The internees followed them outside of the camp.

Moments later everyone looked up as a large four engine plane flew low overhead. They watched as it landed on one of the nearby runways and taxied off to the side of the runway. Everyone's head was swiveling back and forth as they tried to watch everything that was going on. Most of the black clad soldiers began removing their helmets. The only one who didn't do so was the shortest one, who waved to the kids and their parents before going inside the helicopter. Everyone could see that most of the group appeared to be teenagers of both sexes along with a handful of adults. This was a huge surprise to all the civilians, cadets and internees.

The teenage girl who seemed to be in charge looked at the group of internees for a moment before looking around for someone and called out to one of the men. "Colonel, could you go and talk to them?" A tall older man nodded and headed over to the group of civilians. From nearby, they heard someone yell. "JAMIE! I NEED YOUR HELP!" One of the teens started running toward the yell.

Ken had helped Clay sit up as soon as the battle was over and the helicopter was coming in for a landing. Clay took Hardy into his lap and looked at Ken. "We gotta help Hardy. He was trying to protect me." Ken looked at the younger boy in Clay's lap and saw that Hardy was still breathing, but his breathing seemed a bit labored. Ken glanced to where the helicopter was landing and saw the black clad figures come out of the back of the helicopter, Ken struggled to his feet. "I'm going to go get some help for him." Clay nodded and just held Hardy close to him.

A few minutes later one of the figures ran to his side. When the figure reached them, he removed his helmet. Clay was surprised when he saw a red headed teen who looked to be a little younger than himself. The boy smiled at him as he laid his M4 down and removed his gloves. He slipped a backpack off and opened it up.

"Hi. I'm Ian." He moved forward on his knees and put one of his hands on Hardy's chest and closed his eyes for a moment. He opened his eyes and turned around to yell out. "JAMIE! I NEED YOUR HELP!"Clay looked up. "Will Hardy be alright. He got hurt trying to protect me." Ian patted Clay on the shoulder. "Don't worry. He's still alive, so that means he's going to be alright." Moments later Clay saw another similarly aged teenage boy drop down next to the boy named Ian. Behind him, Clay could see Ken hobbling toward them.

"What d'ya need Ian?" Ian placed his hand on Hardy's chest again. "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 removed his gloves and dropped them into his helmet.

"Wait, what?" Ian looked over his shoulder at Ken. "How can you do anything like that out here. The boy needs to be in a hospital." Ian glanced at Jamie, who smiled and gave him a slight nod. He looked at Ken and raised his hand toward him like he was going to grab him. "Are you crazy, you can't…" Ken found that his mouth wouldn't open and he couldn't move either. Ian smiled at Jamie. "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. So I would appreciate it if you would be quiet and let us work." Jamie let Ken go and he almost fell when he realized he could move again. He shook his head. What the hell had just happened?

Ian looked at Jamie. "Let's get started." Jamie nodded. Ian opened Hardy's jacket and ripped the boy's shirt open so that he could see the wound. Blood was coming out of the wound as Jamie placed his hand over it and closed his eyes. Ian placed his hand on top of Jamie's. Neither said a thing for half a minute and then Jamie opened his eyes. "Got 'em." Ian smiled at him. "You're getting faster with that."

"Well, practice makes perfect, unfortunately. It hadn't fragmented that much, so it wasn't too hard to get all the pieces." Jamie smiled and pulled his hand away from Hardy's chest and looked into his hand. "What do you have in your hand?" Jamie looked at the older teen. "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 blood covered hand and in his palm was obviously a bullet and a few smaller pieces of metal. Jamie noticed the way Clay was holding his other arm and he saw the blood on his trouser 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." Clay allowed Ian to carefully move Hardy onto the ground and then he put his hand on the younger boy's chest and head and closed his eyes. Ken had hobbled forward as the two teens were working on Hardy. "Is that?" Jamie glanced at him and smiled. "Yep." He held out his hand and when Ken reached to him, Jamie dropped the bullet and its fragments into his hand. Ken stood there with a shocked expression on his face as he looked back and forth between the two boys. By this time Jamie had reached into Ian's backpack and pulled out some medical supplies to treat Clay.

Doc and Ram were going around and checking the other wounded. They made sure they were stabilized until Ian could get around to them. Unfortunately, they couldn't help some of the boys.

Several yards beyond Clay and Hardy, Clement was holding his little brother Andrew in his arms and crying. Sitting next to him was Dalton, who had been wounded by the soldier in the Humvee. He was trying to comfort Clement. Behind the building Brock had slipped away quietly. Tucker and Father Lafferty weren't sure when he died. When Ram got to them, Tucker looked up at him. "He saved my life. He carried me all the way over here, even after he was hurt." Ram could only look at the boy's tear stained face and gently hug him. "I'm sorry that you lost your friend." He looked at Father Lafferty and smiled before returning his attention to the wounded boy. "Let me take a look at your leg." Ram took a look at the bandage Patrick had put on Tucker's leg. As he worked he glanced over at Quinton's body and glanced at Patrick who shook his head. Ram nodded and went back to work. A short time later he looked at Patrick. "This will do for now. He'll be okay. I'm going to take a look at the others that have been hurt. Our Doc will be by as soon as he can to help fix you up." Patrick nodded and comforted Tucker.

Ian opened his eyes and took a breath. "That takes care of that." He looked at Clay with a smile. "He'll be okay now. He should wake up in a few moments, but he'll be pretty weak. He lost a lot of blood." Ian placed his hand on Clay's broken arm for a moment and smiled. "This shouldn't take too long to help you get better. The arm and leg should be easy to fix." He got to work. Clay could feel the bones of his arm click together and then the warmth in his leg as he watched the bleeding stop. Ian looked up. "That'll do it. The arm will probably ache for a little while, but you'll make a full recovery."

"IAN!" Ian looked up to see another of the young soldiers. "What do you need Logan?"

"One of these cadets was shot in the lower right abdomen. You should take a look at him." Ian nodded and glanced at Jamie and Clay. "Clay you'll be fine for now. Jamie can you go take a look at those three over there and see if any of them need help." Jamie nodded and grabbed some supplies from Ian's backpack before running toward Clement and Dalton. Ian grabbed his pack and trotted after Logan.

The man who had been called colonel made his way toward the group of former prisoners just as a second four engine plane flew overhead and came in to land. The man waited until the noise of the plane had passed before speaking to the group. They quieted down so that they could hear him. Some of them looked up to see if there were any more planes coming in to land. Above them they could see two planes that looked like fighter jets circling the airfield, along with another larger plane that looked to be the same size as the two planes that had landed.


One of the men in the crowd raised his hand to ask a question, but the Colonel stopped him. "I'm sorry sir, but we really don't have time to take any questions right now. Like I said we are behind enemy lines and need to move quickly so that we can get you all to safety. Please get your things. We'll answer what questions we can later once we're safe."

"But Colonel, I have two sons, twins, who are in a school near here. I can't leave them. Just let me take one of those Humvees and I'll go get him. It won't take me long." Gabe looked at the man. "Go get your things sir and I promise we'll do what we can to help. We are pressed for time." The man reluctantly turned away and joined the group headed back into the camp.

The teen girl who was in charge looked around at the battlefield. She motioned for several of her soldiers to join her. Ken couldn't hear what orders she was giving, but those with her split up and he saw them moving around and gathering up all of the cadet's rifles and pistols and carrying them into the helicopter.

One of them walked over to Sawyer. "Hey, I understand you're the one in charge of these cannons." The teen was pointing over his shoulder at the mountain gun next to the building. "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."


"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 else that might give the enemy an idea of who attacked these soldiers."

"Ah. I guess that makes sense."

"Yeah, so do you have anything else around here other than your rifles and these three cannons?"

"And the other three mountain guns over by the headquarters building."

"Three mountain guns?"

"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?" Sawyer nodded as he stood up. "Sure. I'll show you."

Sawyer walked over to the headquarters building. They skirted around all of the dead soldiers. When they got to the building entrance Dylan looked around in awe. "What did you guys shoot at them?" Sawyer glanced over at the dead soldiers and the shredded building entrance. "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 the troops that faced them." Dylan looked around at the devastation. "Yeah. I can see that."

Sawyer walked to the trees nearby 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 gave a little laugh. "Yeah that's what we call our helo." Sawyer nodded as he remembered the paint job that was on the helicopter. "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."

"Okay." The two teens headed back to the others. Dylan clapped Sawyer 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 thought about and grinned. "Yeah? Could you show me." Sawyer walked over to the mountain gun by the fence. He waved for Austin to come over to help him. "You unscrew this partway out, it releases the breech block and you can pull it out of the rear of the barrel." Sawyer placed it on the ground. "Then you pull these two pins and you can remove the barrel from the transom." He pulled out the pins and then he and Austin lifted the barrel free and slowly set it on the ground. "The last thing you do is remove the drag washers from the axles and then while someone holds the transom, you remove the wheels and that's it." Dylan moved over to hold the transom and watched as the other two boys pulled the washers off, followed by the wheels. Dylan lowered the transom to the ground. "Cool thanks. That'll make it easier to load."

Dylan walked over to the teen girl and talked to her. Moments later, several of the soldiers trotted off in the direction of the three guns. They returned a short time later as they trotted back into view hauling the guns behind them over to the helicopter. The other two that were still together were hauled over there as well. A couple of others ran over to grab the disassembled gun and carried it into the helo. What surprised everyone nearby was one of them picked up the gun barrel and lifted it onto his shoulder and another picked up the transom by the axles and pulled it up onto his back to carry it. Everyone could only watch in awe at the strength that these kids had. It would have taken at least two of the stronger cadets to carry the transom or the gun barrel. One of these kids did it all by himself and the other carried the gun barrel on his shoulder like it was one of the muskets.

The guns next to the helicopter were being quickly disassembled and carried inside. Ken and the others from the academy just looked in awe as all of their equipment was carried inside.

When Ian left to go help whoever was wounded. Ken suddenly remember something. "Shit, Floyd and Gabe." Clay looked up. "Sir?" Ken didn't say anything, he just turned around and hobbled over to one of the teen soldiers. "Excuse me." The teen turned around. "Yes sir." Ken pointed at 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, Sergeant Major Floyd Bundy and Sergeant Gabriel Rodriguez. They snuck in through the loading dock at the south end of the building. They haven't come out yet." The young man nodded. "Don't worry sir. We'll get some of our people to check it out." The teen looked around. "Fiona, Aleks, come with me, we have some friendlies in the building and need to check to see if they're okay." The two younger girls nodded and put their helmets back on and checked their MP5s. The teen Ken was speaking to smiled at him before he donned his helmet. "We'll go check it sir." The three of them headed to the south end of the building at a trot and disappeared down the ramp.

When Ken walked away and Clay had been taken care of, he looked at Hardy who was sitting up now. "You okay for now Hardy?" Hardy nodded. "Yes sir thanks." Clay placed his hand on Hardy's arm. "Good. I'm going to go say goodbye to Hephaestus." Hardy looked at the body of Clay's horse. "Okay. I'm sorry Clay." Clay patted him on the shoulder and got up to walk over to Hephaestus' side and sat down. He reached out and gently stroked the horse's neck. "I guess this was our last ride huh boy. You did great. You are a cavalry horse." He couldn't say anything more as his vision got blurry.

While Clay sat next to his horse to say goodbye. A couple of the teens who looked like they were American Indians were rounding up the horses and removing their saddles and tack. One of them walked over to where Clay was sitting. "Hey. I'm Dakota." Clay looked up at the teen. "Sorry to disturb you, but I need to remove the saddle and tack. We're doing what we can to make sure the enemy doesn't know exactly what happened here."

Clay looked at the other horses. "What about them?" The teen looked at the other horses and shrugged. "Not much we can do about them. We don't have room for them and I sure as hell am not going to allow anyone to kill them. Apollo and I are going to try and drive them away from here. Is your school far from here?" Clay shook his head. "Not really far, but I don't know if they'll go back there. I guess it's possible, but I don't know." The teen looked at the horses. "Well nothing else we can do. After I get the horse equipment off your horse here, we'll try to get the others out of here." Clay pointed over to the fence line. "Maybe if you bring them through the hole we cut in the fence, they won't wander back here." Dakota nodded. "We'll give it a try."

"Apollo!" The other teen trotted over and between them, they were able to lift Hephaestus up enough to get the saddle off. Clay removed the halter and bridle and handed them to Apollo. The two teens started carrying all the horse equipment into their helicopter.

A sound made Floyd look up from where he was sitting next to Gabe's body.

The two of them had kept the enemy from entering the storage room. They had gotten another of the soldiers just as a lucky shot from one of them hit Gabe in the head, killing him. When the soldiers noticed that the fire had slackened they decided to rush down and take out the person still shooting at them. Floyd got one of them as they charged down the stairs, it was the one that had been hit before, but this time he didn't get up. Floyd didn't have time to insert a new magazine in the BAR so he brought the Trench gun up and holding down the trigger stepped out from behind the crate and started pumping double aught buck into the remaining soldiers. One of them was able to get off a final shot before being killed, hitting Floyd high in the upper chest and arm. Floyd went down but got back up again and made sure all of them were dead before walking over to Gabe's body. He sunk down and pulled him into his lap. He sat with his back against the crate that Gabe had used for cover and drew his .45. He was waiting for anyone to make a move on them.

Floyd brought his pistol up and searched for the origin of the sound. A voice called out to him. "Sergeant Major Bundy. We're friends. We were sent to get you and Sergeant Rodriguez out of here." Floyd thought the voice that was speaking to him sounded pretty young, in fact it sounded as young as the cadets. He kept his pistol up. "Show yourselves!" Floyd watched as three black clad figures entered the storage room from the loading dock and stepped into the faint light. The biggest of the three was carrying an M4, while the two shorter figures were carrying MP5s. He saw the smaller two advance toward the stairs with their weapons at the ready, while the taller one, slung his rifle and showed his hands to be empty as he reached up to remove his helmet. The face that was behind that helmet was a young teen boy around age of the cadets. "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?" Floyd put his pistol down and shook his head. "No son. He isn't." The teen gave him a sympathetic look as he neared Floyd. "I'm sorry. I see that you do though. Can you stand or should I call for a medic?" Floyd shook his head and holstered his pistol before slowly standing up. Floyd looked toward the stairs just as the two smaller figures returned. "It's clear Josh. None are left."

Floyd stared at them as they took their helmets off. These were young girls, they looked like they weren't even teenagers. One of the girls smirked at him. "What the hell did you guys use to shred the front of the building and those soldiers?" Floyd gave them a little smile. "Canister rounds, in some old guns from the 1800s." The girl nodded. "Pretty cool." Josh stood next to Floyd. "Let's go sir." Floyd looked down at Gabe. "We can't leave Gabe here." Josh looked at the two girls. "Can you guys help with the sergeant." Floyd started over to his position. "I can't forget my guns." Josh gently took his arm. "Don't worry sir, we'll make sure they're brought with us." One of the girls went over and picked up the BAR and the Trench Gun. "Wow, these are cool. A BAR and a Trench Gun. You rock Sarge." Floyd was about to say something about Gabe, when he saw the other girl go over to Gabe's body and effortlessly picked him up and slung him over her shoulder. "Come on Sarge. Let's get you both out of here." Floyd could only nod as they started walking out of the loading dock. Josh walked beside him ready to help if necessary. "How did the cadets do?" Josh gave him a faint smile. "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." Floyd nodded as he put his arm on Josh's shoulder who then brought his arm around Floyd's waist to help him up the loading dock ramp.

As they came up the ramp, Floyd heard his name called. "Floyd!" He saw Ken trying to come toward him, but was being stopped by someone looking at his wounds. Floyd raised his hand. "Just got a little dinged Cap. I'll be okay." Josh helped him over to where Ken was being tended. "I'll leave you here with Doc sir. He'll take care of you." Josh helped Floyd sit on the ground. Floyd shook his hand. "Thank you son." Josh grinned. "No, thank you." Josh walked away. Floyd and Ken both watched as the young girl walked into the helicopter with Gabe's body. The other girl laid Floyd's guns next to him. "Here ya go Sarge." She then walked off.

Floyd looked at Ken. "Who the hell are these kids?" They heard a chuckle from the man who was tending to him. "Very special kids and because you both are 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." Floyd looked at the medic. "But they're kids. Bryce is having kids fight? Are they part of some sort of government program?" Doc shook his head as he looked at Ken. "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." Ken started to say something else but Floyd stopped him. "Cap. I would listen to the man." Floyd looked at the medic who smiled at him. "You can call me Doc." He finished what he was doing for Ken and turned to Floyd. "Now let's see what kind of trouble you've gotten into?" He began looking at Floyd's wounds.

For the next thirty minutes, the teen named Ian made his way among the wounded. Sometimes the other teen named Jamie helped him. When he finished with each of the wounded cadets, they looked at him in wonder because only a scar was left of the wound when he finished. Finally, Ian and Jamie made their way to Ken and Floyd. The men were sitting on the ramp of the helicopter. "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."

Ian and Jamie went to work on Ken first. He removed the bandages the Doc had put on Ken's injuries and cut open his clothes to get better access to the wounds. Ken was startled when he felt a weird feeling inside as Ian and Jamie worked on him. Moments later Jamie held out a couple of bullets which he dropped into Ken's hand. "Souvenirs."

"How the hell can you do that?" Jamie looked at Floyd and shrugged. "Trade secret." He watched as Ian finished with Ken, and the two of them started working on Floyd. He just looked at them as they worked on his arm and shoulder. He felt the same weird feeling that Ken had felt and then the pain became a dull ache and he found he was able to move his arm without much pain. He could only look at the two teens. "You'll be fine sir." The two of them stood up to go.

"Ian." The two teens turned around. "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 getting ready to leave now, so we need to gather your cadets."

He looked over at the camp and pointed. The internees were being directed toward the two C-130s. "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." Ken nodded. "Thank you. I think we'll come in the helicopter with you. We're probably not fit to mix with regular folks right now. Yesterday these boys were students who had only read about war. Today they took part in a war and you know how that can change you." Ian and Jamie nodded. "Yes sir. We'll let the captain know."

Floyd and Ken watched as their cadets made their way up the ramp and into helicopter. Once all of them were inside, the two men followed them. The rest of the black clad soldiers followed behind them. The main cabin had piles of equipment strapped down to the floor and covered with cargo netting to secure them.

The teen soldiers helped everyone to their seats. Ken looked around at his cadets. He saw Hardy was sitting next to Clay and other than being a little pale, he looked like he was going to be okay. Ken saw the teen that everyone called captain and walked over to her. "Captain?" The teen turned around. "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 if I think it's 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." Ken nodded and went over to a seat next to Floyd. He strapped in and looked his cadets over. He saw a bunch of very tired boys. Some had already dozed off. He could see the trace of tears on many of the boys' faces. He knew it was because they had lost friends. He saw Clement sitting next to Morgan, who had his arm around him. His head was bowed. Ken looked around and didn't see Andrew, so he knew the name of one of those that had been lost. He looked around and started figuring out who else had been lost as he realized who was missing. Besides Andrew and Gabe. They had lost Brock, Quinton, Roy Lee and Dover. He bowed his head and gave a silent prayer for them as he felt the helicopter rise into the air. Moments later everyone heard the chain guns under the nose of the helicopter fire for a few seconds, followed by several loud explosions.

The former internees sat back in their seats as instructed by the airmen. Most of the families were smiling as the planes lifted into the air and there were a few cheers. There was one family that wasn't very happy and as soon as the planes leveled off and the crew started distributing water to everyone. The father of one of the families got the attention of one of the airmen tending to the civilians.

"Excuse me. I need to talk to Colonel Patterson. I'm Rick Buchanan. One of the soldiers that rescued us said that he would help us get reunited with our twin sons." The airman looked around. "They're not here?" The man shook his head. The airman patted him on the shoulder. "Then they're probably on the other plane." The airman began to walk away but Rick reached for his arm. "No you don't understand. They weren't with us. They were at a nearby school, we need to go back and get them. We can't leave them behind." The airman looked at Rick with sympathy. "I'll let the pilot know sir. I don't know what we can do, but I'll see if he can call the helicopter and ask about it sir." Rick nodded. "Thank you, please let me know what you find out." The airman nodded. "Of course sir."

Rick watched as the airman made his way to the front of the plane. He was worried because the farther they flew west, the farther he got away from his boys. Several minutes later he saw the airman coming back up the aisle. He stopped next to Rick. "Mister Buchanan. We got a message from the helicopter. Rory and Finn are in the helicopter. Apparently they were part of the rescue force." Rick's mouth dropped open. "They were what?" The airman shrugged. "That's all I know." The airman patted him on the shoulder and walked away. Rick shook his head in disbelief. He turned to his wife. "Wait until I get my hands on those boys. I'm going to kill them." She leaned over and kissed him. "They're safe. That's all that matters." He smiled at her and nodded. "Yes. That is all that matters, but I'm still going to kill 'em." She chuckled. "Yeah, I know. I might even help you."

Two hours later the C-130s started their descent. In the cabins of the two planes an announcement was made.

"Good morning ladies and gentlemen. We are starting our descent into Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. Once we land, please listen to the airmen who will direct you where to go. Remember this is an US Air Force base, so do not wander off. You are safe now." Once again there was some cheering from the passengers.

On the ground the passengers were greeted and escorted into an empty hangar. As they gathered there they heard the sound of a helicopter coming in and saw it that looked like the same kind that had rescued them, except instead of the garish paint job they had seen on it of a red dragon, it looked like any other military helicopter, including US markings. They wondered who it was.

As the helicopter descended, the captain came over to Ken. "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 you are all 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." Ken nodded. "Yes, Finn and Rory I forgot about that. I'm glad they're both okay."

"Apparently their father requested information about them from one of the planes. We let him know they were with us and safe. I am sorry for your losses, sir. Their actions reflect well on them. My team grieves with you." Ken nodded. "Thank you. I agree with the plan. We will follow them out." She shook his hand and made her way to the front of the cabin.

Once the ramp was down they watched as some airmen from the base entered with their gurneys. On top of each was a folded body bag. Each gurney was taken into what Ken now knew as the medical suite. As one loaded gurney came out another went in. When the first one came out Clay shouted an order. "Battalion! Atten-hut!" Every person except the airmen escorting the gurneys came to attention. "Battalion! Salute!" Everyone again followed the command. They held it as each of the six gurneys and their burdens were pushed through the cabin and down the ramp. There were tears on all of the faces of the cadets and their teachers. As the last one left the cabin Clay again gave a command. "Battalion. Two." They lowered their hands as Clay called out. "Duty and Honor." It was repeated by the cadets and the boys turned to follow their friends down the ramp and into a building nearby. As he got to the top of the ramp, Ken turned and saluted these 'soldiers' who had gotten them to safety before following his boys down the ramp.

The civilians watched as several airmen were seen pushing gurneys out to where the helicopter had landed as the ramp lowered. The gurneys were taken inside and a few minutes later they saw the gurneys being brought out of the helicopter with body bags on them. The crowd of civilians became still. All of the airmen in the area came to attention and saluted. There were six gurneys. Walking behind the gurneys, they saw a group of people in military combat uniforms following them out. They followed the gurney's out of sight into a nearby building. Once they were out of sight, all the airmen dropped their salute.

The civilians were still silent as they watched the parade of soldiers until they disappeared into the building. Once the soldiers were out of sight, they felt subdued and kept their voices low as they talked with each other. What they had just seen affected all of them.

Rick Buchanan was looking out to the tarmac waiting for that helicopter that had the red dragon painted on it to land so he could be reunited with his boys. He knew a helicopter couldn't fly as fast as one of the big planes, so they would probably be there in a little while, but he was still anxious. He would consider his boys safe once he laid eyes on them not before.

Over in the other building there was an Air Force Brigadier General waiting for them. When he spied Ken, he walked over to him. "Major Hartley?" Ken nodded as he came to attention and saluted. "Yes sir." The general returned the salute. "Major Hartley. I'm General Brian Christopher, the wing and installation commander here at Tinker. I'm glad you are all safe." He glanced at the gurney's that were against the wall. "And I'm very sorry for those you lost. I need to speak to all of you. Could you have them gather together so I can address them?" Ken nodded. "Of course, sir." General Christopher nodded and went back to the front of the room. Ken walked over to Clay. "Clay, gather the cadets. The general wishes to address us." Clay nodded. "Yes sir." He walked to the front. "Battalion! Atten-hut!" Clay waited until the cadets were in position before he turned and faced the general. "Sir. The cadets of the Wheeler Military Academy are formed. All are present or…" Clay pushed down his feelings as best he could. "…or accounted for, sir."

General Christopher looked at the young man before him and came to attention to return the salute. "Very well. Please put your cadets at rest and let them stand easy." Clay saluted and did an about face. "Battalion. At…Rest!" When he saw that they were in the at rest position, he gave his next order. "Battalion. Stand Easy!" Clay then marched to the side of the cadets and faced the general.

General Christopher looked at the cadets who were standing before him for a few moments.

"Gentlemen. My name is Brigadier General Brian Christopher, Commander of Tinker Air Force Base. I am very happy to have you as our guests. I am very honored for what you have done and the sacrifices you have made and the hardships that you have endured. I have one question before I go on. Do any of you know what is meant when we say something is top secret." He saw most of them nod their head.

"Good. Well for those that don't know what that means. It means something that is vital to our government. Anything that is labeled as top secret must never be told to anyone. If you knew something that was top secret, you would be expected to never tell anyone else about it or even talk about it among yourselves where someone who doesn't know about it can hear you. Most people understand that top secret is the highest level of secrecy in our country. Is that understood?" He saw the boys nod.

"I'm glad you understand. The reason I am telling you this is because even though most people think that top secret is the highest level of secrecy. There are levels above that. The Special Operations people who brought you here and anything you know about them or saw them do is to be considered the most secret thing that any of you knows. There are very few people who know about them. I myself did not know about them until I received a message from my boss, that they were dropping off a group of people that they had rescued. He told me to tell you only what I am telling you. I personally don't know anything about them nor do I want to. I follow my orders and so I am telling you that you must keep everything you know about them to yourselves. You cannot tell anyone, your friends or your family. Their existence is to be kept secret. If the enemy learned anything about them, it could jeopardize our country. Is that understood?" The cadets nodded.

He looked at all the young faces and saw that sincerity on them. He smiled. "Good. I'm glad to hear that. That is all I was asked to tell you. I understand that at least a couple of you have family among the civilians. So those that wish to, can go and greet them. There will be airmen here to help you get settled. You are our guests." He left the room.

One of the airmen came forward. "Who has family with the civilians?" Finn and Rory raised their hands. The airman nodded. "Come with me and I will take you to them." The twins followed him. They went through a couple of hallways and entered the back of the hangar where the civilians were waiting. A couple of them glanced back and saw the soldiers and turned back to what they were talking about. A few moments later they heard a young voice call out. "DAD!"

Rick was looking out at the tarmac starting to get a little antsy wondering when the other helicopter would be landing when he heard a familiar voice behind him. "DAD!" He turned around and saw his twin sons running toward him. He met them and wrapped his arms around both boys. Moments later their mother, brother and sister joined them. The rest of the civilians smiled as they watched the reunion.

One of the mothers near the family started to turn to say something to her husband but she stopped and looked at the two boys again. There on the shoulder of one of the boys was a familiar patch. It was the patch of the Wheeler Military Academy school emblem. They had a son who went there. She stepped forward.

"Excuse me? Excuse me?" The family turned to the woman. "I noticed the patch on your arm. Are you from the Wheeler Academy?" Rory nodded. "Yes ma'am." She brightened a little. "Do you know where our son, Penn Farquhar is. He goes to your school." Rory grinned. "Yes ma'am. He's with the others." She brought her hand to her mouth and reached for her husband. "Is he alright? Can we see him?" Rory nodded. "Yes ma'am I can go get him for you." She nodded with tears of joy in her eyes. "Yes please. Would you?" Rory nodded. "Be right back."

"Did I hear someone say Wheeler Academy. Do you mean the Wheeler Military Academy outside Courtland?" Finn nodded. "Is my boy with you, Austin, Austin Trumball? Finn nodded and then raised his voice. "Is there anyone else here who has a son at the Wheeler Military Academy?" He saw a couple of other hands go up as they stepped forward. "Troy and Pierre Harrington." Another couple stepped forward. "Tyler and Rylan Covington." Finn looked around but there were no other hands being raised, he looked at his brother and nodded. Rory turned around to get the others.

When Finn turned back to face his parents, that was when they saw the blood stain on the leg of his uniform. "Is that blood? What happened to you?" He glanced down. "Yes Mom, but don't worry. I'm okay." She looked at him to see if he was serious. "Let's go over here and talk while we wait for your brother." The family stepped away so they could have a little privacy.

A minute later, Rory returned with the cadets that had been named and there were a few more happy reunions. He saw his family standing to the side and went to join them. His father crooked his finger at him and he didn't look overly happy. Rory swallowed and went to face the music.

Several minutes into the celebrating by the families reunited with their sons, the sound of the helicopter starting up drew everyone's attention. They watched as it slowly ascended and flew out of sight. Now that they realized that the helicopter was the one that rescued them, they tried to get information out of the boys about who they were. The boys only told them that they had been told that they couldn't discuss it. Questions were still asked but the boys revealed nothing as they watched it fly away.

On Tuesday, a small convoy of trucks was heading to the internment camp at the Courtland Alabama Municipal Airport. When they neared the headquarters building for the camp, the lead truck slammed on its brakes. The driver and the officer sitting in the front seat was staring at some bodies that were lying on the ground before them. The officer in front jumped out and went to the back of the truck to have several of the soldiers that were with him jump out. He told them to check the place out. They split up and checked everywhere.

Ten minutes later they returned to the officer. "Sir, the Argentines are all dead and the prisoners are gone." The officer ground his teeth as he looked around. "Get the rest of them out of the truck and search the grounds. Park the trucks over there." The man nodded and got the rest of the soldiers out of the truck and told the lead driver where to go. He nodded and drove over near the open gate of the camp and parked. The other two trucks followed him.

For the next hour, the men searched. All they found was dead soldiers and one dead horse. The trucks and Humvees were just burnt out hulks or in pieces. Not much else was left to tell them what happened other than a lot of spent brass and bloodstains at various locations around the area. Whoever had done this has left little evidence of who they were. Besides the fired brass, they also found a lot of chunks of lead lying around, especially at the shredded entrance of the headquarters building. The officer couldn't quite figure out what they were. He couldn't remember seeing anything like it before.

He had the men gather back at the trucks and load up. He took one last look around. "Let's get the hell out of here. I need to get back so that I can report this to the Bishop." From the nearby trees Richard Mills watched the convoy leave and then walked back to where the horse trailer was parked.

Hillary had just loaded the fifth horse into the trailer and was locking the back. "I found Hephaestus." She looked behind him and he shook his head. "I saw his body. He's dead. I hope Clayton is okay. The only thing out there are the enemy soldiers. They must have gotten off alright." She looked relieved. "We'll get these boys back home and come back for the other trucks. Did you find the stake bed truck?" He nodded. "Yep, it's over that way. Let's just wait a few minutes until those Army trucks are gone and then I'll go get it. We can drive the two of them back and then return for the bus and Mister Bundy's truck. Luckily he left the keys in it. We'll keep it for him at Wheeler House for when he returns."

He cocked his head to listen. "Well, I can't hear them Army trucks anymore, so I'm going to head over to get the stake bed and I'll see you back at home." She gave him a quick kiss and climbed into the dually. He watched as she expertly backed the trailer and then with a small wave she drove off. A couple of minutes later he had the stake bed truck turned around and headed home.

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