Castle Roland

Scout's Own

by Eric Aune


Chapter 8

Published: 28 Sept 15

Scout's Own

Copyright © 2015 by Eric Aune and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.

All Rights Reserved

Scout's Own LogoJosiah Campbell was awakened by a knocking on the door to the BOQ room that he had been given for the night. He sat up and rubbed his eyes as he looked toward the door. "Yes?"

"Lieutenant Willis sir." Josiah swung his legs out and sat on the side of the cot. "Just a moment Lieutenant." He stood up and grabbed his pants from the nearby chair and put them on. He walked over to the door and opened it before going over to grab a shirt. "Come in."

Willis entered the room and closed the door behind him. "Sir you asked to be awakened. It is seven am. Breakfast is being served in the mess hall." Josiah nodded. "Thank you Lieutenant. I will be right there." Willis left the room. Josiah grabbed his shaving kit and went down the hall to the communal bathroom. He quickly cleaned up and headed back to his assigned room. He finished getting dressed, packed up his overnight bag and headed to the mess hall to eat.

Most of the tables were empty, since the majority of the soldiers had eaten earlier, so he could easily find a table to himself. As he ate, he thought about where to start the search for the fugitives. The only reason he was doing this search himself was because of the Anderson boys. Their parents were huge supporters of his mission, so he needed to try and save the boys if he could.

After breakfast he went looking for Willis' Humvee. He found it fairly easily. Willis was talking to his men, but broke off when he spied Campbell.

"Good morning sir. What are your orders?"

"Let's take a look at the map Lieutenant." Willis pulled his map out and opened it on the hood of the Humvee. The two of them looked at it for several minutes before Josiah spoke up. "I think we should go to the I-155 bridge first."

"Sir, I was told that an attack was made on the bridge a couple days ago. They believed it was an attack by Bryce's forces to try to flank our forces fighting down in Memphis. It seemed that they didn't expect much of a force to be guarding it, but they were surprised when we destroyed the bridge underneath them. They lost some of their vehicles and men when it went down and they pulled back a bit. They are still there or at least some of them, but they won't be crossing that bridge."

Josiah nodded. "Still let's head there first. We can ask if they have seen any sign of the Expedition that our fugitives are driving. They wouldn't know about the bridge being taken down and may have headed that way to try and cross to the other side." Willis nodded and folded the map up. He turned to the men. "Let's move it out." The NCOs got the men moving and loaded up. The soldiers quickly followed orders. The militia not so much. The NCOs had to do some more yelling to get them moving along.

One or two flipped the NCOs off when their back was turned. Josiah knew who Ashwood's militia was. They were made up of criminals who had received Ashwood's pardons and were drafted into fighting for him. Josiah knew that such men had their uses, but he hoped they wouldn't be more trouble than they were worth. If so many members of the military hadn't chosen to follow the traitor Bryce, they wouldn't need to rely on such men, but the President knew best, and they did have their uses.

Josiah got into the Humvee and moments later they were pulling onto the interstate, on the north side of Dyersburg heading west. As they neared the bridge, they could see a large number of military vehicles and a camp. Looking beyond the camp they could see where the interstate started to climb up to the bridge. Willis guided the convoy down to the camp and parked among the other vehicles. He and Campbell got out of the Humvee and asked where the headquarters was located. After getting the directions they quickly found it and asked to speak to the commander of the unit. Josiah said that he was with Congressman Gallivan's staff in Nashville. They were shown to his office.

The force commander, Colonel John Mattie was sitting at his desk when they were shown inside. He looked up at them. "I hope this is important." Josiah put on his best hail fellow smile. "Colonel, thank you for your time. We won't be long. I am Doctor Josiah Campbell from Congressman Gallivan's staff. I have been sent out here to search for some fugitives who may have with them a couple of kidnapped boys. We had heard that they might be in this area, perhaps with the intention of crossing the bridge to Missouri so as to escape the justice they so richly deserve. I had thought to ask if your men have spotted a Ford Expedition in the area that may have been attempting to cross the bridge."

The Colonel shook his head. "No such vehicle has been seen in this area. When would these people have been here?"

"Perhaps sometime in the last couple of days, if my information was correct." The Colonel once again shook his head. "Since that little fight we had a few days ago, only our vehicles have been seen around here. Now if you will excuse me. I have more important things to do."

"If they should be spotted could you hold them and we will check back with you." The Colonel nodded his head and turned his attention back to what he was looking at on his desk. They left the tent. Josiah had to swallow down his indignation about how he was just dismissed as if he was no one important, but there was no sense starting a fuss. They had to try to find those perverts and the two boys.

When they got back to the Humvee, Willis took his map out and spread it on the hood so that they could study it. Josiah pointed to a part of the map. "Do you know what is in this part where the river makes this big hairpin turn?" Willis shook his head. "No sir." He put his hand over a section of the map. "All of this is mostly farmland, so I would guess that is farmland as well." Josiah nodded as he digested the information. "Well if this is farmland, then there are probably some houses in the area, so I think we should follow the course of the river. Starting here and then go along the river, checking out the farms as we go, to see if they have tried to steal a boat from any of the farmers along the river." Willis nodded. "Yes sir. How far up the river will we go?"

"Until we find them or the Kentucky border" Willis folded the map up and they got in the Humvee. Moments later the convoy was on its way. They headed into the piece of land that was shown on the map that caused the big hairpin turn in the river. Everywhere they went they saw nothing but farmland. One thing that they didn't see was houses. It seemed as if the entire area was farmland, but no one lived there, they just farmed the land. They ended up following several roads that ended in dead ends. So they had to turn around and retrace their steps.

Josiah was getting very frustrated with it all. They had to stop several times to get their bearings before trying another road. They came within sight of the river and its levees several times during the day, but they saw no one. After spending nearly the entire day searching the area, they were driving along Reelfoot Hickory Ridge Road heading east when they saw a man on a tractor in a nearby field. Josiah told them to pull over.

They pulled to the side of the road and Josiah and Willis got out of the Humvee. Josiah waved to the man on the tractor. The man appeared to have not noticed them and continued to turn over the soil in the field. Willis handed him a bull horn and eventually the sound of Josiah bellowing through the bullhorn, and the convoy pulled over to the side of the road, got his attention. The man was on the other side of the field, so he got out and disconnected the cultivator before driving the tractor over to where they convoy was parked.

The farmer stopped the tractor and got out wiping his face with his kerchief. "Hey folks. What can I do for ya?" Josiah stepped forward. "I'm Doctor Campbell, this is Lieutenant Willis. We're looking for some fugitives from justice who may have two teenage boys as their captives. We believe that the two boys were kidnapped by these two men."

"Kidnapped you say. That's bad. Are they around here somewhere?" Josiah shook his head. "They were said to have been headed in this direction in a Ford Expedition. We think that they are going to try and find a boat in this area, either rent, buy or steal one, so that they get across the river where they believe they will be safe. They are supporters of the terrorist Jack Bryce."

The farmer pushed his hat back and rubbed his jaw. "That ain't right. Are these boys someone important that the men would take them?"

"Not really. They are the sons of an important family back in the Nashville area and are strong supporters of our President and his policies. As a friend I told them that I would do what I could to help find their sons and bring them safely home. I heard from a colleague that they were sighted and that they were probably heading this way."

The man nodded. "That sounds like a fine thing you're doing Doctor. I wish you luck." The man turned to go back to the tractor. "Wait." The farmer turned back around. "Yeah? Was there something else?"

"Yes, have you seen anyone in the area driving an Expedition?" The man shook his head. "Nooo. Not around here."

"Are there any houses around here where these fugitives may be able to obtain a boat for their escape? The man thought for a bit. "No, not around here. Back toward the highway or maybe farther north in the Ridgely area, but there ain't any in this area. No one lives around here, cuz of the floods that happen when the river gets high. Makes good farming land, but with the floods happening, you'd probably be havin' to rebuild your house every few years."

"Damn it, I wish we'd have known that no one lived here, but I suppose we still had to check the area, just in case they were here looking for a boat." Josiah looked up at the sky and there wasn't too much daylight left. The farmer looked up as well. "I guess the end of the day sorta crept up on me. I gotta get home before it's dark, so if y'all will excuse me. I gotta get home."

Josiah saw a field across the road and just beyond it the river. He pointed at the field. "Do you own the field over there?" The farmer looked where he was pointing and nodded his head. "Yep, that's one o' mine."

"Well, we're going to use that far part that isn't plowed as our camp for the night. You don't have a problem with that do you?" The farmer looked at the soldiers and shook his head. "I guess not."

"Good." He turned his back on the man and looked at Willis. "Let's set up camp on the far side of the field in that part that isn't plowed. We can continue the search in the morning." The farmer listened for a few moments and then shrugged and went back to his tractor and drove to where his truck was parked so that he could get home before it got dark.

The small convoy drove to a nearby dirt road that looked like it went around the edge of the plowed field to the unplowed part of it. Just behind where they were going to camp was a short road that led down to the river. Once they had parked the trucks, Willis had his NCOs direct the men to make camp. They each had a small tent that they could quickly set up. While the tents were being setup under the watchful eye of the NCOs.

Willis and Campbell walked down to the river and then along the river edge as they looked across toward the other side. On their map there were a couple of islands just to the north of them, the largest one was called Lee Towhead. The Mississippi River had carved a channel around Lee Towhead making it into an island. The river had also carved another channel around a piece of land to the east of Lee Towhead forming another island and a shorter and narrower channel. The channel around the narrow island began at the northeast part of the Lee Towhead channel and ended at the southeast part of the Lee Towhead channel. The larger channel rejoined the Mississippi River just south of Lee Towhead. The channel was too shallow for larger craft, only smaller boats could navigate it safely. They decided during their walk to have some of the soldiers stationed on the river bank to watch the river.

By the time they got back, all of the tents were set up. Josiah decided to sleep in the back of one of the trucks instead of setting up a tent. The soldiers broke out MREs for dinner. Once dinner was over, the NCOs set up the watch schedule for the night. Campbell and Willis looked over the map, planning their route for tomorrow. Most of the soldiers went to sleep fairly early since they would be having watch during the night.

That morning back at the Bradshaw Farm the group was slowly getting up. They had been allowed to sleep in, since they would be getting a ride to the next station. Once everyone had gotten cleaned up, backpacks packed and ready for the day, they headed to the dining room for breakfast. There were eggs, bacon, and waffles for breakfast, with coffee, tea, milk and juice. The news about Campbell was of some concern, but he obviously didn't know where they were now nor where they were going, so they hoped that they would be able to slip by him. In the back of their minds, they also hoped by this time tomorrow they would be safe on the other side of the river. Out of reach of Campbell, Ashwood and those like them. As long as his brother was safe, that was all Cole cared about.

Once breakfast was over, they went outside with their packs to load them into the trailer. With a little work and rearranging, they were able to get the backpacks put up and away. That left the main part of the living area clear for them to be at least a little comfortable, although cramped. Once the backpacks were inside, they went back outside. They saw Ken talking to the foreman Jason about loading a couple of horses in the back.

"Jason, get Lady Antebellum and Glorious Diva and we'll load them in the back of the trailer. This should keep up the appearance that we are going somewhere with the horses."

They watched as Jason brought two horses out of the barn a few minutes later. They quickly got them loaded in the back and settled in. Ken and Kelly turned to them. "Everyone load up, it's time to hit the road. Jason, keep an eye on the place. It's going to take several hours to make the trip, since we're zig zagging back and forth, to drop our friends off. We'll take a more direct route coming back." They shook hands with everyone. All of group got into the trailer, except Barry, since he would be riding up in the truck cab with Ken and Kelly. As Ken pulled out, he waved to Jason.

They first headed toward and through Crockett Mills. As they drove through, there were a couple of friends who waved to them as they passed by. Ken gave them a little honk of the horn as he went by. The next town they passed through was Eaton and then Yorkville. At that point they turned west toward Newbern. A few miles outside the town, they took a smaller road to the north before heading to the west once again. They were able to find an overpass that crossed State Route 3. As they drove across the overpass, they saw an army convoy heading south.

Ken looked at his passengers. "Wonder where they're headed." He got a shrug in return.

Past the highway, they continued following back roads as they wound through miles of farmland. They had to stop several times to get their bearings, because of all the changes of directions that they had to take. However, they kept slowly heading west to the next station. They passed through the small town of Bogota and headed north. A couple of miles south of Ridgely, they turned west once again, before turning north. As they drove north, Barry checked the notes on the map that explained how to find the next station. He directed Ken to the first farm that they could see from the levee road.

As they neared the farm, Barry looked at the farm and nodded. "I think this is it. I guess there's only one way to make certain." Ken nodded and drove into the farmyard. As Ken pulled up, a lady came out of the farmhouse and walked over to the truck.

"You folks lost?" Ken glanced back at Barry, so Barry leaned forward. "We're uh, looking for a woman called Moses." The lady looked at him for a moment and then smiled. "This is the place. Your name Cole?" Barry shook his head. "No Ma'am. Cole's in the trailer."

"Well you folks are welcome here." The four of them got out of the truck. Kelly went over to unlock the trailer and looked inside. "We're here." She backed out of the way and the group stepped out of the trailer. "So which one of you is Cole?" Cole stepped forward. "That'd be me. I'm Cole." She shook his hand. "Nice to meet you Cole. I'm Marian Carruthers. Welcome to my home." Cole introduced everyone to her. Once he did that, she led them in the house and offered them something to drink.

"Make yourself comfortable. Alf and the boys should be back in a little while. They're out in the fields. You know, we volunteered to help you after our friend told us why you were heading this way. That sort of thing is not the way it should be. Alf and I agreed it wasn't right, so we volunteered our farm as one of your stations. Our biggest reason though is our middle son Aaron. He's gay and we want him to be safe. Only our family knows about it, so we're sure he'll be okay. When we first heard about you folks coming here, we thought about asking you to take him with you. But since no one knows about him as far as we know, we think he'll be safe at least for now. Besides, we want him here with his family as long as he's safe."

"We would gladly have taken him with us if you wanted. That's the least we could do for what you're doing for us."

"Thank you dear." She patted Cole's cheek as she stood up. "Well, I need to get started on dinner."

"We'd be happy to help." She looked at Damon and Grant and nodded. "Thank you. I appreciate the help." Ken and Kelly announced that they needed to get going so that they can be back home before dark. They followed the couple outside, unloaded their packs from the trailer and put them in a pack line in the yard. They thanked them for everything. As the Bradshaws drove away, they stood in the farmyard and waved.

Damon and Grant, along with Elise went to help Marian in the kitchen. Soon the sound of pans and dishes came from the kitchen. The kids did what they had done at the last several places that they had visited, and went exploring. Cole and Amy stayed next to each other as they walked around and talked, her arm hooked in his. There were a lot of different types of farm equipment that drew Nick's attention. There were several trucks used to haul the corn and wheat that the farm grew.

The barn was used for storage of the farms grains and there were no animals inside. The farmhouse itself was not very large. It was two story, but smaller than some of the other places they had been able to stay in on the trek along this new Underground Railroad to safety.

In the middle of the afternoon a couple of trucks drove into the farmyard and parked near the barn. Out of one of the trucks came an older man and a teenager. Out of the other truck stepped an older teenager and another teen who appeared to be his younger brother. The others gravitated towards Cole as the man made his way over to them.

"Howdy boys, and young lady. I'm Alf, short for Alfred, Carruthers." The boys had joined him. "These are my boys, Frank, Aaron and Eller." Cole started his introductions by pointing at each person as he named them. "This is my brother Cooper. Tyler, Noah, Michael, Will, Harlan, Danny, Nick and his sister Amy. I'm Cole." Everyone shook hands. Alf looked at his boys. "Go inside and get cleaned up boys. I'm sure your mom will have supper ready soon." He smiled at Cole. "I need to take my own advice and clean up. I'll see you boys inside, oh and you as well young lady."

They also took his advice and followed him into the house. Marian told them where to wash up. Supper was a large beef roast with boiled potatoes and corn. The table wasn't big enough for all of them, but someone had gotten a couple of card tables and set them up. Alf led them in saying grace and then he invited them to dig in.

They got to know the three boys. Frank was in his last year of High School and planned on helping his dad on the farm when he graduated. Aaron hoped to go to college. He wanted to be a veterinarian. Eller had just started high school.

After everything was cleaned up from supper, they went into the living room and Alf asked Cole to tell them a little more about what was going on that made them decide to do what they were doing. Cole explained about Cooper overhearing the plans of Reverend Campbell and the others. He told him about the computer evidence that his friend Evan had given him. When Alf heard that he looked at Aaron. "Aaron go get your computer. I'd like to see this evidence that the young man has." Aaron nodded and left the room. Cole excused himself to get the bag that held the jump drives from Evan.

Aaron had the laptop turned on and ready by the time Cole came back in the house. He handed it over to Cole. "Can I set it up on the dining room table? I think it would be easier that way." Alf nodded and stood up to follow Cole into the dining room. Cole put the laptop down on the table and the Carruthers' sat where they could see the screen well enough. Cole put in the first jump drive and started it. "This was when Ashwood held a press conference to announce that Bryce had been unfortunately killed, followed immediately by Bryce's press conference that he was alive and telling everyone what had happened." He started it and they sat and watched the two press conferences.

"This next video is pretty graphic. It is uncut footage of something that happened at a school in Breckenridge, Texas. It shows federal agents and military helicopters killing kids and their parents. All under the orders of Ashwood." The family greeted that news with shocked expressions. Alf looked at his family and then gave Cole a nod to start. For the next several minutes they just stared at the video. Marian got tears in her eyes as she saw young children being mowed down. Eller pointed at the screen. "Who are those guys?" Cole looked at the screen and shrugged when he saw that Eller was pointing at the unknown black armored guy and what looked like a red headed kid, who jumped out of the helicopter to rescue the kids, while other helicopters were fighting off the government helicopters. "No one seems to know. I think they work for Bryce, because they are fighting the agents and trying to stop them from hurting the kids."

When it was finished, Cole opened the file that included all of the other evidence that showed all of the things that Ashwood was doing. Alf scrolled through the information. Swearing in a low voice as he read some of what was in there. When he finished he looked at them. "This is very wrong. This is third world country crap. This is not America." Cole nodded and closed the files and took out the jump drive to replace it with the second jump drive. He opened the files and explained what was on this drive. "These are again two press conferences. The first by Ashwood, it was done at something like 5am. He is blaming all the problems, such as the attack on the kids in Breckenridge on Bryce. Right after that is a press conference with Bryce where he has some of the wounded kids from Breckenridge with him and refutes all the lies that Ashwood is telling, plus he tells everyone that he knows that Ashwood is going to cut off his video as soon as he can." Cole started it and the Carruthers' once again were glued to the screen as they watched. And as Bryce predicted in his conference, the feed was suddenly shut off. Cole closed the files and removed the jump drive.

Alf stood up. "I need a drink, even though I don't really drink. This is insane. Well, at least that son of a bitch occupying the White House is. I don't blame you for wanting to get far away from that madman." He glanced at his son Aaron and then at his wife. "I already mentioned it Alf." He nodded. "Like I said I don't blame you and I'm tempted to have Aaron go with you to safety."

"No way Pop. That isn't an option." Alf looked at his son with worry. "But Son, if you go with these good people, we'll know you'll be safe. If you stay here, something might happen to you. I don't want you to fall into the hands of some crazy idiots."

"Might happen, Pop, might. Not will. There is no way that I'll leave here. No, I'm staying no matter what. If you make me leave, I'll come back. Even if I have to swim across the Mississippi. If it looks like something bad might happen, then I'll take one of the boats across the river, but I'm not leaving unless it's necessary and only if you are all leaving too."

Alf looked at his middle son and pulled him into a hug. The rest of the family joined in the embrace. "Okay, Son." He looked at Cole. "Could you copy that stuff onto Aaron's laptop? I want to be able to show it to others who would be very interested in knowing about this stuff. I know that there are people in this state who do believe like Ashwood. But my guess is that most people don't know much about this, because he has evidently locked everything down to keep this information from being seen by most of the people around here. I want others to see this. I think if they do, Ashwood's going to find that we won't stand for this sort of thing."

Cole nodded and put the jump drives back in the computer, one after the other, and copied them to a file on the computer. "Okay sir, they're copied."

"Thanks. First things first. Let's get you settled for the night. Part of the barn has been converted into a sort of bunkhouse, with several beds in one room. It's for the people that I hire when I need help with harvest. There aren't enough beds for everyone, but I guess y'all can make do on the floor where you can find a spot. After that, we'll talk about how we're getting you to safety tomorrow."

Alf and the boys led the way outside, where Cole and his group grabbed their packs and followed them to the barn. Inside he went through a door and it opened up to show a barracks-like room that had about eight beds inside. They let the adults and Amy have the beds, while the boys found places on the floor.

Once they were set up, some of the boys got their cards out to play. Aaron and Eller joined them and soon there were a couple of card games going on. Cole and some of the adults went back to the house to talk with Alf. Frank was sitting with his dad. Cole was carrying his map. Alf gestured for them to have a seat.

"I'm figuring we get up real early, while it's still dark." He saw the map in Cole's hand. "You have a map?" Cole nodded. "Good. Open it up and I'll show you what we're going to do." Cole spread the map out and Alf looked at it for a few moments before pointing to a spot. "Okay, right about here, the boys and I have stashed some boats near this channel. We'll load you up in the back of the two pickup trucks; Frank's and mine, and take a short drive to where the boats are stashed. They're not big, so we're going to have to split you up into the four boats. We'll get you folks loaded in the boats and then we'll make our way down this channel here. This narrower channel will join the bigger channel around the south end of Lee Towhead. We'll make our way across to Island Number 14, then we'll skirt along it to the south of the island and then we can land y'all right here. You folks'll then have to hike about six or seven miles to the town of Concord, right here. There are a bunch of farmer's fields in the area, but not too many people living on the land there, like around here. Heading to Concord is your best bet. From there you should be able to get to where you want to go. Part of the area is a conservation area. I'd suggest you keep an eye out for anyone working in the fields or maybe any Rangers that might be in the conservation area. I wish I could take you farther downriver and nearer to Hayti, but we'll be heading back upriver after we drop you off and it will take us a while to get back against the current. If we go too far downriver, we might run out of gas for the outboards before we get back."

Cole listened carefully and nodded in understanding. "No sir, thank you for your help. Seven miles isn't that long. You drop us off wherever you wish. We'll make it the rest of the way. At least we'll be on the safe side of the river."

"Good enough then. Y'all should get some rest. Morning is going to come early. Send Aaron and Eller back to the house, would'ja." Cole nodded and they said their goodnights to Alf, Marian and Frank.

Out in the bunkhouse, Cole relayed their father's message and the two boys said goodnight when they left. Cole told everyone the plan and suggested that it would be a good idea for them to go to bed early. They agreed and everyone got ready. Once everyone was settled the lights were turned off and they tried to get to sleep.

When Aaron entered the bunkhouse the next morning, the opening of the door easily caused several of the people to wake up. Aaron looked around the room with a smile. "Morning. Pop asked me to come and get you folks up for breakfast."

"Thanks Aaron. We'll be in as soon as we can." Aaron nodded and left the room. Cole crawled out of his sleeping bag and started getting everyone up and moving. Everyone was used to the routine by now, so there was very little groaning or complaining as people got up. Before long they had their bags packed, the room was straightened up and they had carried the bags outside and put them in a pack line.

Eller opened the door as they neared it and held it open for them to enter. Inside the house they could smell breakfast cooking as they entered. They followed the smell to the dining room. Alf and Frank were already sitting at the table drinking coffee. From the kitchen Aaron came into the room carrying a platter of ham that he set down on the table. Marian was right behind him with a platter of scrambled eggs. She smiled when she saw them. "Get yourself something to eat. You got a busy day ahead of y'all and you'll need your strength." They were all more than happy to obey her command with how good the food looked and smelled.

There was not a lot of conversation, just the sound of silverware on plates. Some were thinking about the fact that within a short time, they would be safe on the other side of the Mississippi. Barry was thinking about the trip that he and the boys would have to make back to Belle Meade. He thought he would see if it was possible to make it faster. Perhaps with the help of the people at each station, they could make better time heading back, getting rides. Since there were only six of them heading back, it would probably be a lot easier. He'd discuss it with Alf and see what he thought, once they saw the others safely away. They would probably have to contact Christian by radio, to get him to come down to the river bank to pick them up in his boat, unless they skipped his place on the way back. With any luck, maybe they would get there by tomorrow or the next day at the latest and then be home by the end of the next day. It would depend on how the keeper of each station wanted to do it. Once they were back home, it would be a waiting game to see if they found out about any other people that needed their help to make it to safety. Now that they had done it once, they had a better idea of what would happen. He thought that any further trips would be with smaller groups. They would be much easier to conceal.

Everyone finished up and it was time to get going. It was still dark when they went outside. "What time is it?" Alf came up behind them. "About six fifteen. The sun should be coming up by the time we get on the river." He looked at the group that was dimly lit by the back porch light. "Well, get your packs and let's get you in the trucks."

Everyone, except Barry and the five scouts going back to Belle Meade, grabbed their packs and slipped them over a shoulder to carry them over to the trucks. They loaded the packs in back and then piled in after them. Barry and the other boys climbed in as well. It was a little tight, but everyone was able to sit in the bed of the truck. Alf looked over his shoulder, "Y'all ready back there?" Seeing nods he started the truck and headed toward the stashed boats.

It was a short drive before they pulled off the road and drove on a dirt track along the side of a plowed field. They followed the track around one end of the field and stopped next to some trees. "Okay, this is it." Everyone jumped out of the back and gathered together. Alf waved for them to follow him. He went into the trees and disappeared from view as he followed a narrow trail through the woods. Moments later they came to an open area on the edge of the water.

"Help us get the boats in the water." They followed Alf and his sons over to the side of the open area. When they got there, they saw the camo netting covering several boats. The netting was removed and underneath was four aluminum boats. Inside each of the boats was an outboard motor. Everyone got into groups and helped lift each boat and carried it down to the water's edge. Alf and Frank attached each motor to the transom before the boat was put in the water, and then secured it to a nearby tree with a line from the bow. Once all of the boats were in the water and ready, they split the group up so that there was approximately the same amount of weight in each boat.

Before they got in the boat, they turned to the friends who were staying behind. Barry came up to Cole. "Cole, it has been my privilege to work with you over the last year since Michael joined the scouts. We're all proud that you came up with this idea to get people out of harm's way. You exemplify the part of the Scout Oath that says 'to help other people at all times'. I hope that when this is all over, that you get the recognition that you deserve when you come back home. I expect that Ashwood will be brought down of course. Hopefully not before long, but however long it takes, know that your friends will await your return. Any message that you want to send back?"

Cole thought about it for a few moments. "Tell our grandparents that we'll be back as soon as possible. And thank everyone in the troop that helped. Once we're safe we'll try to get word back to you guys, to let you know how we're doing." Barry nodded and pulled Cole into a hug. He did the same for Cooper and Tyler. He shook hands with the others of the group. The boys going back home started to bump fists, but instead hugged Cole, Cooper and Tyler. There were a few misty eyes and some sad faces in the group.

When the goodbyes were done, they loaded into the boats, putting their packs in the middle of the boat. Alf handed over the keys to his truck to Barry, so he could drive back to the farm. "We'll be back as soon as we can and we'll get you folks on the road home." Barry thanked him. The groups climbed into their designated boats. Alf had Cole, Amy and Nick in his boat. Frank had Elise, Brad and Patrick in his boat. Aaron had Cooper and Tyler in his boat. Eller had Grant and Damon in his boat. Barry and the boys untied the four boats and gave them a push away from the bank.

The four Carruthers let the boats drift back a little bit before they started the motors. Once each motor was running smoothly, Alf waved to those on the shore and led the way down the channel. The other boats followed behind just like a mother duck and her ducklings. Barry and the rest of the boys stood there watching the boats head down the channel as the sun started peeking over the horizon. Once the boats were out of sight, Barry turned to the boys. "Well let's head back to the house. Once Alf and his sons get back, we'll talk about how we'll get back home."

Alf cruised down the channel. Trees lined the banks of the channel. He soon reached a sandbar that narrowed the channel a bit more right where it joined the larger channel that went around Lee Towhead. He pointed across the bigger channel. "That there is Lee Towhead. There's a lot of good hunting there for deer, duck and turkey. The boys and I have been over there once or twice to hunt." Cole nodded as he looked at the island. "It's supposed to be for sale. I think the cost is between 1.5 and 2 million dollars and then you can own your very own island. If I had the money, I'd buy it and make some money charging people to hunt on it. I've heard that that's what the current owners are doing."

Alf continued down the larger channel, heading to the Mississippi. "It should be a little more than a mile and we'll be on the Mississippi. Then it's across and down the river a little bit and you folks will be on your way." Cole smiled. "Thanks again Mister Carruthers for doing this. If we come back this way, I'll make sure we stop and say hello." Alf smiled and nodded. "I look forward to it. We'll have supper ready."

As they made their way down the middle of the channel, the sunlight grew until they could see the opening several hundred yards ahead of them where the channel merged into the Mississippi. "There she is, the Mississippi. I'll be slowing down as we near the river, to check that there aren't any big boats nearby, before we head across." Cole nodded his understanding. Alf started slowing down as the neared the channel mouth when they heard a shout from their left.


Alf and the others in his boat looked to where the yell came from. They saw standing on the river bank right where the channel and the river joined, someone dressed like a soldier. Alf turned around and pointed to the island as he yelled back. "HEAD TO THE ISLAND BOYS!" He saw them wave as they turned. He opened up the throttle and quickly headed to the island. They were spurred on when they heard the sound of gunfire. Alf looked over his shoulder and saw bullets hitting the water near his boat. The boys were slow to open up their throttles but when they heard the gunfire, they were quick to follow suit. Alf glanced to his right just in time to see Aaron fall forward and his boat began to slow as his hand left the throttle.

"NOOO!" He started to turn his boat toward his middle son, when he saw one of the boys with him jump to the motor and open it up as the other cradled Aaron. Alf kept looking worriedly to his right as they headed to the shore of the island. There were still bullets hitting all around the boat. He ran the boat right up on the shore before he cut the motor. He pushed the three kids ahead of him as they got out of the boat. "GO, GET INTO THE WOODS AND OUT OF SIGHT." At this point the firing had stopped. He looked back and saw the soldier inserting a new magazine into his rifle. He waved for everyone to get into the woods while he ran to where Cooper was bringing Aaron's boat onto the shore. He could see the red on Aaron's shirt and jacket. He pulled the boat up on the shore as Cooper shut off the motor.

At that moment the soldier across the channel started firing again. "HURRY UP YOU TWO, GET INTO THE WOODS. I'LL TAKE AARON!" They rushed past Alf as he bent to pick Aaron up and put him over his shoulder. As he ran to the woods he saw Cooper stagger for a moment and a splotch of red appeared on his pants leg. Tyler grabbed him and helped him stagger into the woods. Alf saw one of the men helping another get into the woods as well. Bullets were still hitting the trees around them. "Everyone, get farther back! We need to put some trees between us and the guy shooting at us."

Some of them were too frightened to move, but the others got their attention and pulled them from where they were cowering behind the trees and got them moving back further into the trees. Cole picked up Nick who was frozen, as he hung onto a tree. Once they have moved back twenty yards or so, Alf stopped and helped Aaron lay down on the ground.

He saw that the injury was a little bit above Aaron's waist, on the left side. Aaron was gritting his teeth against the pain. Alf pulled his shirt up and inspected it. The bullet looked like it had gone through the back and out the front. He took his jacket off and then his sweatshirt. He put the jacket under Aaron's head and wadded the sweatshirt against the wound. He looked around and saw that Cooper was lying there and Tyler was trying to tie a kerchief around his leg where he had been hit. The other man who was hit, was Damon, Grant was holding his hand against Damon's shoulder and putting pressure on the wound.

Alf muttered under his breath. "Dammit, what are we going to do now?" He looked at the pain filled eyes of his son. He reached out and pushed his hair off his forehead. "How're you doing son."

"Hurts Dad." Alf nodded. "Yeah, I expect it does. Well don't worry, you hang in there, we'll get you some help. By this time, Frank and Eller had joined him at Aaron's side. Both boys had tears in their eyes as they looked at their dad. "What do we do Dad?" Alf shook his head. "Don't know, but we'll figure something out. You stay with your brother. I'm going to talk to the others." Frank nodded. Alf bent down and kissed Aaron on the forehead before he stood up. There was no longer any gunfire coming from the other bank, probably because the soldier couldn't see them anymore. He checked Cooper first and saw that Cole was kneeling next to his brother and had ripped the sleeve off of his shirt and tied it around Cooper's leg to stem the bleeding. Grant had removed his shirt and was wrapping it tightly around Damon's upper shoulder.

"How's your brother?" Cole looked at Alf and nodded. "I think he'll be okay. He won't be able to move fast, but I don't think he's in any immediate danger." Alf looked over to the two men. "How about you guys?" Damon nodded and winced, when Grant tightened the makeshift bandage. Grant looked at Alf. "I don't know what all is hit in there, but I'll keep pressure on it. He'll be okay, I think."

"How's Aaron." Alf looked down at Cooper. "He's hurt but he's okay right now. Thanks for taking over the boat and getting him to shore safely." He looked around at the group. There were some very scared people here. Amy was hanging onto her dad and Nick was in his mom's lap. Alf shook his head slightly as he thought, 'Yeah, what now?'

Josiah hadn't slept very well. The truck bed was not very comfortable, but he got a little sleep, just not what he was used to. It had been a very long time since he had last camped. It wasn't something he liked very much. He was once again trying to find a comfortable position where he could get a little more sleep, when he heard the gunfire. His eyes shot open and he tried to sit up. He wasn't used to a sleeping bag and it was zipped all the way up to keep the warmth in. He struggled for a moment, still hearing the gunfire. "Shit, get me the hell out of this thing." He struggled a bit more and soon was able to grab the zipper and pull it down so that he could push the sleeping bag off his legs. He slipped his feet in his shoes and grabbed his jacket before he crawled to the back of the truck and climbed down to the ground.

On the ground he looked around and saw the men getting out of their tents and grabbing weapons. Willis had his M4 in his hands as he gave orders. Josiah hurried over to him. "What the hells' going on Lieutenant?" Willis shook his head. "I don't know sir. Someone started firing near the river." Willis pointed at one of the NCO's. "Find out what the fuck's going on and get back here, double time." The man saluted and hurried off at a run in the direction of the firing which had stopped now. They watched the man run. Moments later they heard the firing start again. Josiah and Willis exchanged looks. Willis turned to the men. "Hurry your asses up. We need to find out what's going on."

Willis took off at a trot, followed by the men. Josiah was behind them trying to keep up, but unable to move his bulk as well as the younger and more fit men. Some of the militia members were near him as they were not near as well trained or as fit as the real soldiers. He was soon left behind as the soldiers disappeared into the woods. At the edge of the woods, he had to stop running to catch his breath. He didn't stop moving. He just walked, while he tried to catch his breath, instead of running. He knew it wasn't very far to the river bank.

Huffing and puffing, he finally made it to the river bank. Willis was standing at the bank talking to one of the militia soldiers who was pointing across the channel at the trees. He couldn't hear what they were saying, but while catching his breath he looked across the channel and saw four aluminum boats with outboard motors partially up the bank on the other side. Inside the boats they could see some sort of packs or bags or something in the middle of the boats. He started walking down to where Willis was standing.

"So what's going on Lieutenant? Why all the shooting?" Willis pointed at the unshaven militia 'soldier'. "Rufus, here, saw those motor boats on the bank over there coming down the channel from that direction. They had a bunch of people in them. He yelled halt and they immediately headed for the other side. When they didn't stop he started shooting at them."

"I know I hit some of them too. I saw a kid slump over in one of the boats. And when they was trying to get into the trees, I think I hit a coupla more of 'em, cuz they needed help to get into them trees."

"Kid? You said you hit a kid in the boat?" Rufus had a satisfied smile. "Yup."

"What did the people in the boats look like?" Rufus scratched his chin as he thought about it. "Well there was four boats." Josiah rolled his eyes and thought 'What an idiot.' "Yes we can see that, who were in the boats." Rufus glanced at Josiah before he continued. "Les see. The first boat had an older guy driving it and there were a coupla teenagers, a boy and girl and with them was a younger boy. The next one had a younger kid drivin' it and he had two men in the boat with him, it were one 'o them that I got." He smiled as he said that, like it was a great accomplishment. "Then there was the one that had the kid that I shot. I was trying to hit the motor and make 'em stop, but hit the kid instead. He had two kids in the boat with him. One o' them grabbed the motor and kept it goin'. The last one had a younger kid driving it, with him were a lady and two men in his boat. When I started firing, they headed to the bank at full speed. I tried to stop 'em, but they got over there on the other side and went into the trees. When they was trying to get into the trees, that's when I got the one guy and the other kid. I know I got 'em cuz they fell and had to be helped into the trees."

Josiah shook his head. He hoped that whoever got hit was neither Cole nor Cooper. The others didn't matter. He looked at Rufus. "Could you see them well enough to recognize them, if I showed you a picture?" Rufus shrugged. "Mebbe. Don't know." Josiah turned to Willis. "Lieutenant, could you have one of your men fetch my briefcase for me from the Humvee." Willis nodded and pointed at one of the young soldiers. "Go get what he asked for." The private saluted and turned to go get it. Just as he started to run off Willis called after him. "Get my bullhorn and bring it back with you too." The private had turned around and walked backward, nodded and turned around to continue his run back to the camp.

"Good idea about the bullhorn Lieutenant. Since they may have some wounded people, we can probably get them to surrender with a promise of medical aid. I'm sure there's not much in the way of medical facilities on that island." Willis shook his head. "Good, then perhaps this will work out in our favor." A short time later the soldier returned carrying the briefcase, which he handed to Josiah and the bullhorn, which he handed to the Lieutenant.

Josiah knelt down and opened the case just enough to reach in and grab the photos before closing it. He showed the photos to Rufus. "Were any of these people in the boats?" Rufus looked through the photos slowly before handing them back. He shrugged. "Mebbe. Not sure. I think one of the boys in that boat where I hit that kid was blond like that one. His hair was kinda like it is in the picture, kinda curly. And I think that was the one I hit on the bank, the blond one." Rufus pointed at Cooper's picture. "Did you see any of the others?" Josiah asked him.

"Well one of the teenagers coulda been that one. I guess some of the men in the boats coulda been the men in those pictures." Josiah put the pictures back in the briefcase. "Well it might be them. We're about in the right area where I thought they might be. If he's right that he hit a blond haired kid on the bank. That might be Cooper and if so, I'm sure his brother would be worried about him being hurt. I'll talk to them and try to get them to surrender." Willis nodded and handed over the bullhorn.

Josiah stepped toward the river so that he could be easily seen by those on the other side and raised the bullhorn to his lips. "COLEMAN ANDERSON. THIS IS REVEREND CAMPBELL. I'M HERE TO TAKE YOU BACK TO YOUR PARENTS. THEY ARE VERY WORRIED ABOUT YOU AND WANT YOU TO COME BACK HOME WHERE YOU BELONG."

On the island when he heard Campbell's voice, Cole whipped his head around to look in the direction of the far bank, trying to see through the trees to see if it really was him. He looked at Cooper, who had a scared look on his face. "What do we do now Cole? He found us." Cole shook his head. "I don't know, but I gotta keep you safe." He looked over at Alf. "Mister Carruthers. Is there any other way off this island, like a bridge or something?" Alf shook his head. "The only way is by boat or helicopter I guess. I suppose we could swim across, not the Mississippi, but across the channel."

"I can't let him get his hands on my brother. He's one of those I told you about that wants to lock up all those who they consider undesirable into concentration camps or even kill them. He's a hate filled bigot of anyone that doesn't believe or think like he does."

"Maybe we can get you guys to the north side of the island and then figure out a way to get you back across the channel. There might even be someone here on the island right now, hunting. They might even be able to help us get you across the river." He was silent for a moment. "Got an idea. Maybe I can throw them off a bit." Alf stood up and moved a little bit into the trees toward the bank, staying low. "DAD!" Alf looked back at Frank and held his hand up. "Don't worry son, I'm not planning on exposing myself, I just want to move away from the rest of you. I'll stay low."

Alf moved to the right a bit and into the trees some more until he could see the group on the other bank. He saw the large man in civilian clothes holding the bullhorn, looking at the island. There were a bunch of soldiers around him. He cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled to them. "HEY WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING SHOOTING AT REGULAR FOLKS?"





Josiah looked at Willis with frustration for a moment or two before he got an idea and brought up the bullhorn again. "WE KNOW THAT YOU HAVE SOME WOUNDED PEOPLE OVER THERE. COME ACROSS AND WE'LL MAKE SURE THEY GET MEDICAL ATTENTION! NO ONE WILL SHOOT AT YOU!" He looked at Willis. "If they do have wounded, they would be stupid to not want to get them taken care of." They both looked across the channel.

Alf went back to the group. "Well he's right about needing some help Cole for our wounded." Cole was torn. He looked at the others. "Maybe if just Cooper and I go back, the rest of you can get away." Tyler who had stayed at Cooper's side, cushioning Cooper's head in his lap, shook his head. "No way! You know what'll happen if he finds out about Cooper. I say we head to the other side and swim back across and try to find another way, unless we find someone on the island that'll help us." Cole looked around the group and saw that the others seemed to agree with Tyler. None of them wanted to end up in one of those camps.

On the bank, Josiah was getting frustrated. He looked at Willis. "Lieutenant, I have an idea. Have your men fire a few rounds at full auto into the upper parts of the tree, over their heads. That'll let them know that we mean business. If they won't listen to reason, let's show them strength." Willis nodded and turned to the men. "I want you men to fire a couple of bursts higher in the trees above where they are probably hiding. Maybe we can flush them out."

The men nodded and took their rifles off safety and changed the selector to auto. They brought their rifles up to their shoulders, aimed high and fired. The sound of forty rifles on full auto ripped through the morning air. The soldiers fired a couple of bursts, while the militia emptied their magazines. When they stopped, the militia guys were grinning at each other.

On the island the gunfire caused everyone to hit the ground. Branches and leaves from the trees fell down on them as the bullets ripped through the trees above their heads. Nick and Amy yelped in fright. Everyone hunkered down, trying to be as small as possible. When the firing stopped, they slowly looked around to make sure everyone was still okay.

Josiah brought the bullhorn up again. "THAT'S SO YOU KNOW WE MEAN BUSINESS. THE NEXT ONES WILL BE LOWER AND THERE ARE ENOUGH OF US THAT WE MIGHT HIT SOME OF YOU, EVEN THROUGH THE TREES!" Josiah had a satisfied look on his face. "That should make them give up." They waited for an answer.

The group on the island Looked at each other. Some seemed to be resigned to it now. They had nothing to fight back with. Maybe they could get away but for how long. Alf looked at them. "It's your call. I know I need to get my boy some medical attention, but I said I'd help you." Cole didn't know what to do. He looked at the others, wishing someone would tell him what they should do. They all seemed to be looking at him. He had been their leader for the entire trip. They were leaving it up to him. He knelt next to his brother with his head bowed as he tried to make the best decision. After a few minutes he shook his head. "I don't see what else we can do…"

Gunfire erupted once again, this time the shots were a lot closer to where they were hiding and everyone hugged the dirt. Some rounds hit trees nearby them. Suddenly the gunfire seemed to double up and they all tried to get lower even though that was impossible. If they had shovels they would have been digging in.

Josiah waited for a few minutes as he paced back and forth a little bit. With a frustrated low growl, he looked at Willis. "Have them aim lower now. I'm tired of waiting, maybe we'll hit more of them."

"What about those two boys?" Josiah glanced at Willis before he directed a scowl across to the island. "They should have taken our offer. Maybe after this time, that'll be enough and we can end this." Willis looked at Josiah for a moment before turning to the men. "Aim lower and fire." They started firing at the woods. The militia were spraying back and forth. Suddenly from behind them gunfire opened up and several of the men were slammed forward from the force of the bullets hitting them.

The soldiers turned around as they went to ground and began returning fire. Josiah let out a scream of fright and threw the briefcase and bullhorn to the side as he tried to find a tree to hide behind. A few more soldiers were hit and their screams of pain filled the air. They were looking everywhere and trying to find out who was shooting at them. The militia soldiers who were used to having the upper hand when they shot at someone, were spraying bullets everywhere, using the spray and pray method of shooting.

The firing that was coming from behind them, where their camp was located, was constant. Suddenly more fire came from the west, in the direction of the river. Men looked over there and saw a few black armored figures coming up out of the water firing. That was the last straw for most of the militia. The militia stood up and tried to run backward as they fired at the figures. Some of them were able to fall back into the trees away from the mysterious figures. Once they thought they were far enough into the trees, they turned and ran, trying at the same time to load fresh magazines into the rifles. Willis tried to organize a defense against whoever was shooting at them. He tried to stop the militia from running away. Some stayed behind to follow his orders and fired at the figures coming out of the water, but the rest ran. They saw their bullets hitting the figures. Some of the figures went down when they were hit by the gunfire, but they stood right back up and kept up a steady aimed fire of short bursts as if nothing had happened to them. Then they heard screams from the woods that the militia had fled to. There was some firing, but the screams and gunfire fell silent after a short time. Willis looked around and he could see it in his men's eyes. Whoever these people were, they had their unit surrounded. If they continued fighting, they would probably all die. He saw the Reverend groveling on the ground behind a tree.


He looked at his men and slashed his hand across his throat for them to stop. The firing slowly stopped. Willis stood up and dropped his rifle. He gestured for his men to stand up as well. Slowly they stood up and rifles hit the ground. From both flanks and in front, more of the black armored figures came into view. One fact that was out of place was that several of the figures were short and slender, especially one of them that came from the woods wrapping a chain around his waist. Something about the hands and feet of that figure didn't look right either. Some of them looked to be about the same size as kids or young teens. One of the figures stepped forward with a rifle pointed at him.

"We accept your surrender Lieutenant Willis." He gaped at the voice that came from the enclosed helmet. It was female and sounded young. The female looked at the three that came from the woods. "Any left in there Chase?" The smaller figure looked at her and shook its head. When it spoke it was in a high pitched voice. "No Chrissy… oops, sorry, Captain. None are left. They did not want to surrender. So Rio, Captain Nim and I took care of them."

Willis looked at the three and was a little shocked at how calm this short kid, maybe, talked about killing several hardened criminals. "Well there's no help for it. You did ask them to surrender?" The figure named Chase nodded. "Well I did say it, and I tried to wait for them to answer, but they shot at us instead, so I took that for a no." The captain nodded and turned her attention Willis and the soldiers. She saw the whimpering civilian on the ground that was in a fetal position covering his head. "Will someone get that piece of trash up off the ground?" One of the figures went over to Josiah and easily lifted him up off the ground. As big as the Reverend was, the smaller figure seemed to have no problem getting him on his feet.

When he was lifted up, Josiah looked around with fear still in his eyes, but he relaxed a bit when he saw that he wasn't going to be shot. He looked around and saw Willis and his men surrounded by the black armored figures. The leader of the figures gestured to the soldiers. "Search them." Several of the figures moved forward to strip the soldiers of anything that could be used as a weapon. They had each of Willis' men carefully empty their pockets, before patting them down. On the few militia soldiers that had not run, they found drugs of various types in their pockets. Everything from their pockets was thrown on the ground.

One of the militia soldiers noticed that the figure searching him was several inches shorter and probably at least fifty pounds lighter. In his mind, he saw an opportunity. He believed he could quickly overcome the smaller figure, take his gun and use the smaller figure as a hostage to escape. Surely they wouldn't take a chance at hurting one of their own. When the figure came close, to make sure the man's pockets were empty, the man took his chance. His hand darted down to grab the pistol in the figure's holster. He was able to free it, but as he started to grab at the figure, he suddenly found himself flying a long way through the air. When he realized he was flying into the middle of the Mississippi River, he started screaming and flailing his arms like he was trying to actually fly. His scream was cut off as he landed in the middle of the river. He had never learned how to swim, so he struggled to stay afloat for a short time, before his lack of knowledge plus the gear he was carrying weighed him down and he sank like a stone.

The prisoners were looking from the figure to where the man was struggling in the water and back, several times. Their mouths hung open in shock by what they had just seen. They just stared, some with a little fear in their eyes, as they tried to unobtrusively move away from the figure that seemed to have done something outrageous.

"Dammit, I liked that pistol." The voice behind the helmet was young sounding as well. The figure turned to the one in charge. "Sorry Chri… Captain. It was an unconscious reaction. When he grabbed me, I just wanted to push him away. I guess I pushed a bit too hard." There was a low chuckle from the helmeted head of the leader. "That's okay Jamie. You'll get better at controlling yourself when you're in a stress situation. We'll work on it when we get back to base." The one called Jamie gave the leader a quick salute.

The leader turned to the prisoners, all of whom were still staring at Jamie. "Ahem! AHEM!" They turned to their captor. When she was sure she had their attention, "Alright take 'em back to their camp." Several of the figures surrounded the prisoners and began to herd them back to their camp. The Captain and a few of the others stayed behind.

They were looking across the channel to where the four boats were resting on the shore. Activating the voice amplification in her helmet, the leader called out to those across the channel. "YOU CAN COME OUT NOW. YOU'RE SAFE! THEY WON'T BE BOTHERING YOU ANY LONGER!"

Across the island when the sound of gunfire seemed to double, they also began to hear screams of men. They noticed that no bullets seemed to be coming their way anymore and they cautiously began to look up. They looked at each other. As the gunfire continued and nothing was coming their way, they cautiously began to get off the ground. Most of them were looking in the direction of the apparent firefight. They began to wonder what was going on. Cole started to go forward, Alf got up and joined him. They slowly made their way through the trees ready to hit the ground if any fire came their way. They made it to the edge of the trees and hunkered down behind some large trees at the treeline. From there they watched as the soldiers fought off whoever was firing at them, their backs to Cole and Alf. They exchanged glances as they watched the firefight. They saw the change in the resolve of the soldiers when they saw the black armored figures rise up out of the water and begin firing on the enemy's flank. They saw several of the men break for the trees on the opposite side of the figures in the river and then they heard the gunfire and yells of the men from inside the trees, then silence. They saw the soldiers surrendering. Like the soldiers on the other side, their mouths dropped open in shock when they saw the man fly through the air and into the river. Cole and Alf exchanged wide eyed looks before turning their attention back to the group on the other side. As he looked at them, Cole realized where he had seen similarly clad soldiers. It was in the video of the Breckenridge attack. They were dressed like the soldier who had fought against Ashwood's agents. He let out a cautious breath.

"YOU CAN COME OUT NOW. YOU'RE SAFE! THEY WON'T BE BOTHERING YOU ANY LONGER!" Cole's head jerked up and he looked across the channel. He saw one of them waving to them. Urging them to come over. He glanced over at Alf who shrugged. Cole gestured with his head for them to go back. When they returned to the group, everyone looked at them. "I think we're okay. Do you guys remember that black armored soldier who fought against Ashwood's agents in the videos of Breckenridge?" There were several nods. "Well, there's several of them out there and I think they just saved our butts. I saw them marching Reverend Campbell and the soldiers he had with him away. One of them just said we're safe. I believe them. Hopefully they've got someone to look at those of us that are hurt." Several of them exchanged glances and they once again let Cole lead them. Alf nodded. "I didn't make the connection till you mentioned it, but that's what they look like."

The group began to get up from the ground and dust themselves off. Amy and Nick were still clinging tightly to their parents. Alf picked his son up in his arms and carried him. Frank walked beside him, keeping pressure on the wound. Tyler and Cole helped Cooper hobble to the boats. Grant supported Damon. Slowly and cautiously they made their way through the trees until they were once again on the bank. Across the channel were several of the black armored figures. When they came into view, one of the figures waved for them to come across the channel.

They exchanged glances once again and began to climb into the boats. Cole gave each boat a push off the shore before pushing the last boat into the water and jumping into the bow. The motors were started and they headed across the channel. When they got to the far bank, four of the black clad figures moved forward and took hold of the bow of each boat and effortlessly hauled them out of the water, even weighed down as they were. The occupants were able to step on the dry land because the boats were pulled so far up onto the shore.

The Tuttles did what they could to shield their two kids from the sight of the dead soldiers all around them as they moved away from the boats. The armored figures helped get the backpacks out of the boats and on the bank above the river's edge.

The leader stepped up to Cole and held out a gloved hand. "Coleman. I'm Captain Casey. I understand you're trying to cross the river. We've got just the thing, if you'll come with us." She looked around. "Would you mind if we put some of our prisoner's personal possessions in your packs until we get to the camp. It'll just be easier to carry them that way. My team will be carrying the weapons and ammunition."

The figure looked at Cole as he stared at her for a few moments. "You're a girl?" The figure looked up at the sky. "Yes I am, and I really don't have to time to go into any sexist bullshit about women soldiers. We've got things to do and people to see." Cole flushed a bit in embarrassment. "Sorry, I didn't mean anything by it, It, uh, just surprised me is all." She patted his arm. "Well, if you folks can pick up the stuff on the ground and put them in your packs that would be great." Cole nodded and he looked at the others, they began to pick up the wallets and other things, stuffing them into side pockets of their packs. When they had it all picked up, the leader nodded in satisfaction. "Okay let's go." She looked at the wounded people being helped to walk and glanced at a couple of the other figures. "Apollo, would you help Mister Carruthers with his son. Colonel, would you help young Cooper there. Jamil, would you assist Mister Grayson. The rest of you, throw the guns and ammunition into the boats and bring the boats with us."

The named figures stepped up. The larger figure who had been named Colonel easily picked Cooper up and carried him. The two slightly shorter figures stepped up to take their charges. Alf looked at Apollo. "I'm fine carrying my son."

"Sir, I'm sure you are, but I'm stronger than I look. I'll carry him while you walk with us. Trust me sir." Alf was skeptical but the helmeted figure waited and he nodded. The figure who was about the same size as Aaron, seemed to effortlessly take Aaron in his arms. The same was true with Damon. The slightly smaller figure easily took Damon's weight and helped him walk away from the river. Alf watched as several of the other figures loaded the boats and then his eyes opened wide as they lifted them up and carried them up the trail.

"How are they doing that?" He felt a pat on his arm. "Do not worry, sir. They will get everything up to the camp safely. Come on, sir. We need to go." Alf nodded numbly as the short figure tugged once on his hand. He hurried to where Aaron was being carried.

Before long they were at the camp. Near the soldier's tents, they saw a large helicopter that had the figure of a Red Dragon painted on its side sitting there. On the ground by one of the trucks were the few surviving prisoners. Their hands had now been zip tied behind them and a couple of the armored figures guarded them. The boats were put down near one of the trucks. The wounded were taken into the back of the helicopter. Around the camp, other figures were going through everything, grabbing anything of importance. They asked the group to wait there and give them a few minutes to take care of the wounded. It didn't sit too well, but Alf and the others agreed. They paced around the helicopter's ramp waiting while the medics worked on their loved ones.

Inside the helicopter the wounded were taken into a room that looked kind of a like a doctor's treatment room, where there were two gurney's locked down to the deck. Aaron was placed on one gurney and Cooper was placed on the other. Damon was placed in a seat near the medical room. In the room, three of the black armored figures took off their gloves and helmets. Their patient's eyes widened when they saw the three boys that were revealed. "You're just kids?" One of them smiled. "Yeah, we get that a lot." He and the other two exchanged giggles. "My name's Ian and I'll be your doctor today."

"Doctor, but how. Are you one of those kid geniuses who graduated from college when you were ten and became a doctor?" Ian shook his head. "Well genius, maybe. No, I'm going to take care of you. My two friends, Jamie and Ram are going to help me take care of you and your friends." He looked at a boy who looked to be Indian. "Ram, would you go and check Mister Grayson out in the cabin, while I take a look at Aaron and Cooper here." Ram nodded, "Got it." He grabbed his medical pack and went into the cabin. Cooper was holding himself up on his elbows to watch what was going on. Jamie noticed him and went over to put the back of the gurney up. He patted Cooper on the shoulder. "That should be more comfortable. We'll be right with you." Cooper nodded as Jamie went back over to help Ian.

Ian had a pair of scissors in his hand. He had taken Aaron's jacket off and was cutting Aaron's shirt away from the wound. "Jamie, can you help me move Aaron on his side so I can check his back." They carefully moved him on his side eliciting a groan from Aaron. "Sorry buddy. I gotta check your back." He looked at Jamie. "Through and through. This won't take long. Roll him back." They rolled him onto his back. Ian smiled at Aaron. "Okay Aaron, this won't take long. You might feel something a bit weird for a little while." Ian put his hands on each side of the wound and closed his eyes. Aaron had been getting weaker due to blood loss, but he seemed to wake up a bit more as Ian worked on him. A couple of minutes later Ian took his hands away. "That should do it. How do you feel Aaron?" Aaron put his hand down at his side and felt around. He pushed on it and he was surprised that it didn't hurt much. It was more like an ache. He looked at Ian. "What did you do?" Ian just smiled and put his index finger up to his lips. "Shhh. Our secret."

Ian walked away. Aaron's eyes followed him. He wanted to sit up, but Jamie put his hand on his shoulder and gently held him down. "You lost a lot of blood, you need to rest some more." Aaron nodded and lay back. Jamie joined Ian at Cooper's side. "Hey Cooper, my name's Ian. This is Jamie. We're going to take care of you."

"How's Aaron?" Ian glanced over at the other bed. "Aaron will be fine. Now we have to take care of you. I'm going to need to cut the leg off of your pants so I can check the wound." Cooper nodded. They removed the makeshift bandages and Ian took his scissors out to cut the leg off of his pants. Jamie held a gauze against the wound while Ian lifted the leg up to check the back of the leg. He looked at Jamie. "The bullet is still inside. We'll have to get it out."

"Will it hurt?" Ian smiled and shook his head. "It might hurt a little bit, it will feel weird though. Just relax. You'll feel better in a little bit." Cooper nodded. Ian looked at Jamie. "Okay let's start." Jamie removed the gauze and replaced it with his hand and Ian put his hands over Jamie's. They both closed their eyes and got to work.

That one kid, Ian, was right, it did feel weird. Cooper looked at the two boys who just stood there with their eyes closed. He sucked in a breath as he felt something rub against something in his leg. Ian looked up. "Sorry. I think that was a nerve." Ian closed his eyes once again and bowed his head. A moment later the two boys removed their hands for a moment and blood came out of the wound. Ian put his hands back on the wound and continued working. Jamie looked at Cooper. "Want a souvenir?" He held up a misshapen lump of metal in his bloodstained hands. "Is that the bullet?" Jamie nodded. Cooper looked down at his leg. "How'd you get it out?" Jamie smiled. "Trade secret." Ian opened his eyes and smiled at Cooper. "Well that should do it. You should take it easy for a couple of days, but you'll be okay soon." Cooper reached down and felt his leg. He moved it and only felt an ache. He looked at Ian. "What happened?" The two boys smiled. "I told you, trade secret."

"Let's go take care of our last patient." They went out to the cabin where Ram was holding clean gauze to Damon's shoulder. He had already removed Damon's shirt. "All done?" Ian nodded. "Let's see what we have here." Damon looked at the young teen, not believing that this kid knew what he was doing, but the Indian kid, Ram, had taken good care of him. "Well Mister Grayson, it's your turn. Let me take a look at what we have here." He removed the gauze and put his hand against the wound.

"Hey shouldn't you be wearing gloves?" Ian shook his head. "Nah. Gloves get in the way. Lean forward a little." Damon complied and leaned forward so Ian could look at his back. "No exit wound. Bullet must still be inside." He looked over his shoulder at Jamie. "Time to work." Jamie moved next to him and put his hand over the wound. Ian put his hands over Jamie's. Both of them closed their eyes. Damon gave them a skeptical look. He glanced over at Ram as if to ask if this was real. Ram just stood there watching with a little smile on his face. He then glanced down because he felt something weird going on inside his shoulder.

A moment later, Jamie removed his hand and Ian put his hands back on the shoulder. "Hold out your hand." Damon looked at Jamie's closed fist for a moment before holding his other hand out. Jamie held his closed hand over Damon's and opened it. Damon felt something fall into his hand. He looked down and saw the metal object in his hand. He looked at Jamie's smiling face. "Souvenir." Damon looked at the bullet and then back up at Jamie. "How… what… who are you guys?" Ian stepped back and had to blink his eyes a little bit. Jamie took hold of Ian's arm. Damon looked at the boy with concern and reached out to grab him. He realized that he had reached out with his wounded arm. He looked at his shoulder and brought his other hand up to rub it. He moved it around a bit and felt a little ache, but nothing more than that. He saw that the two boys were sitting on the seats nearby. He looked up as an adult came out of a door at the front of the cabin.

"Christina called. She wants to know how the patients are. She tried to get a hold of you, but you obviously have your helmets off." Jamie looked at him. "They'll be okay, Dad." The man nodded. "I'll let her know." He went back through the door. They heard him call out to someone else just as the door closed. "Eve…" The rest was cut off by the closing door. Damon saw what looked like a bunch of electrical equipment and computers inside the room, before the door closed. He looked at the three boys. "Who are you guys?" Jamie grinned. "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you." The other two giggled.

"You feel okay to go back outside and join your friends?" Damon nodded and stood up. He felt light headed for a moment. Ian looked up quickly. "Be careful there. You lost a lot of blood, so you need to take it easy for a few days." Damon nodded. Ram went into the treatment room and a few moments later, the two boys came out of the room. Cooper was limping a little, but he was moving under his own steam. Aaron was leaning on Ram for support. Jamie and Ian stood up and led them down the ramp.

As they walked down, the group that they had rescued was standing or pacing around near the bottom and looked up at their three friends and family members, as they walked down the ramp. Most of them were struck dumb for a few moments before moving toward the three. Cole grabbed his brother in a hug, followed closely by Tyler. Grant held tight to Damon for several moments. Alf nearly knocked Ram down as he grabbed his son in his arms, Frank and Eller quickly joined in the group hug. When the three boys escorted their patients down the ramp, the prisoner's got their first look at some of the 'soldiers' who had defeated them.

There were questions from all of them, as they looked at the three who had been wounded and marveled that they were okay and seemed to be acting as if they hadn't been shot. Alf and his other sons looked at where a short time before there had been a couple of holes in his middle son's stomach and now there was a faint round scar.

"Kids? I demand to talk to the adult in charge. Do you know who I am? You would do well to let me go. I am a civilian and I'm part of President Ashwood's administration. You have no right to detain me." The leader of the armored figures walked over to Josiah and crouched down in front of him. The figure then reached up and removed its helmet. The face that was revealed was of an attractive teenage girl. She gave Josiah a smile.

"You are the so called Reverend Doctor Josiah Campbell. The bigoted hate monger who thinks himself so special because he has a fake Doctorate and is a Reverend because he sent money to a website to obtain a paper that says he's a Reverend. And in case you're still too stupid to figure it out, we don't work for Asswood. We work for the President of the United States. The person who actually won the election by a large margin I might add, President Jack Bryce. You claiming your so called importance as a member of Asswood's administration, only makes me want to shoot you, but fortunately for you, we work for President Bryce and he believes in the Constitution and the Rule of Law. If I worked for Asswood and you worked for Bryce, I have little doubt that he would have no problem with me just shooting you or maybe carving you up in little pieces, one piece at a time. In fact that evil bastard would probably want to watch. As for talking to an adult, just a moment." She looked around until she found who she was looking for. "Colonel can you come here for a moment."

Josiah turned and watched as a large figure walked over to them. The figure removed its helmet and the face revealed was that of an older man who obviously was military. "Yes Captain." She motioned with her head to Josiah. "The good Reverend Doctor, would like to talk to an adult." Gabe looked down at Josiah and waited. Josiah scowled at the girl before looking at the man.

"Good. Colonel is it?" He waited for an answer, but Gabe merely stared silently, which made Josiah a bit nervous. "Well Colonel. Now that I'm not having to talk to this child who is playing at being a soldier. I need you to understand my importance. I'm sure President Ashwood…"


Josiah glared at the girl. "Can you not discipline this child and tell her that she needs to show respect for our President." Still the man in front of him said nothing. Josiah started to feel a little more nervous but he pushed on. "As I told this girl, I am a part of President A…" He glanced at the girl, who just gave him a sweet smile. "The President's administration here in Tennessee and it would be a point in your favor if you let me go. I will put in a good word on your behalf with our President. And once this little insurrection is over and the terrorist that this girl claims is the President is put down, I'm sure you could get a promotion because of it. Someone of your ability should not be part of anything such as this." He looked hopefully at the man.

The Colonel gave him a silent stare for several moments before turning to the teen. "Was there something you need me to do Captain?" Chris smiled at him and said very sweetly. "No thank you Gabe." She went to him and gave him a kiss on the cheek. She pointed at Josiah. "He just said that he wanted to talk to an adult, so I asked you to come over here so he could." Gabe smiled at her. "Very well sweetie. I'm going to go finish looking for intel." He gave her a quick hug and walked away. Josiah was gaping at him as he heard this 'Gabe' defer to this 'girl', and allowed her to call him by his name. He looked back at the Captain, who was smiling at him.

"Okay, you've been able to talk to an adult. Now what to do with you." Josiah got red in the face. "You will let me go this instant. You have no idea how much trouble you are in right now. I will make sure that you go to the worst camp that Ash….urk!" No one had seen her move, but Josiah suddenly found himself fighting for breath around her hand that was against his throat. He also realized she was holding him up against the side of the truck and did not appear to be straining to do so at all. Everyone around them had gone silent as they saw this teenage girl holding this fat man up against the truck.

"No, I will not let you go. You are a prisoner of war. The war that Asswood started and the war that we will help finish. When we're done with your precious Asswood, there will be very little left of his ass for you to kiss." She released him and let him drop. He lay on the ground gasping for breath. "Chris, um, Captain." Chris turned around and looked at the boy who had called her name. "What Ethan?"

"I say we let him go." She stared at him confused for a moment until she heard in her mind.

[_I have an idea. We can let him go, but I want him to feel what others have felt when such hatred as he feels is directed toward him. He has brought so much hatred to others, that I want him to experience it himself. Would you show me how you do that loop thing, like you did for that rapist prisoner the day we met you?_]

Christina looked at him and shook her head. [_As much as I would like to do that. In fact as much as I would love to do that and worse. That would probably drive him mad and would be considered torture. We can't do that. As much as I would like to do that, we can't. In this version of Earth we can't. Where I came from I could easily have gotten him a long stint on some prison planet for his hate mongering, but that is not an option. We'll turn him over along with the rest of the prisoners, to the military on the other side of the river, before we take the others to Kettle Falls._]

The prisoners and the rescued group looked at the two teens as they stood there looking at each other silently for a few moments. Ethan nodded and Chris went over to Josiah and got him back into a sitting position against the truck. He was still gasping a little and flinched from her when he realized who was helping him. She patted him on the cheek causing him to pull away. She chuckled a little as she stepped back.

"Well I guess we've got what we came here for. Let's get the prisoners and our friends inside the helicopter and we'll be on our way."

"What about the camp?" She looked at the two younger girls who were calmly tossing a grenade back and forth between them like it was a baseball that they were using to play catch. Chris grinned. "Will you put that away. We'll leave everything, except any intel that was found. Asswood's forces will probably think someone from Bryce's forces came through here on a covert op. Maybe it will have them chasing their tails trying to find the 'special forces team' that is running around behind their lines. Let's saddle up."

A couple of the team members herded the prisoners into the helicopter and strapped them into their seats. Some directed the rescued group into the other seats and helped them strap in. Others carried the four boats into the cabin and secured them to the floor. The captain and one of the older teenagers opened the middle door in the front of the cabin and secured it open. Through the door they could see the control center.

"Sean, tell Drake we're ready to go."

"Roger Captain." They all heard a boy's voice answering her. Some of the others went through the same door and took seats at the consoles in there. Looking through the door, they saw a white haired teenaged girl sitting at one of the consoles. There was a man sitting next to her looking at a computer screen. Moments later they heard the helicopter start up and they were soon in the air. If anyone had been outside they would have seen this large helicopter lift off and then disappear from sight. A short time later the helicopter was landing at a military camp on the west side of the river. Chris and Gabe entered the cabin. Gabe looked at his men. "Let's get the prisoners out of here. Once we have them out of here, we'll take the Carruthers back home." His men unstrapped from the seats and quickly got the prisoners up while the back ramp was being lowered. They escorted them down the back ramp and into the hands of some waiting guards. The lieutenant in charge saluted Gabe.

"We'll take custody of your prisoners Colonel." Gabe returned the salute. "Very well Lieutenant." The prisoners were escorted away. As they walked away from the helicopter, several of them did a double take when they saw the outside of the helicopter. Where earlier there had been a large red dragon painted on the side of the helicopter, there was now a normal army paint job and the familiar US Army markings. They kept glancing back as the helicopter lifted back off and turned to the northeast, flying low. What they didn't see was it disappearing from view after it was out of sight of the camp.

Inside the helicopter, the team members began to shed their armor and store it in the room behind the right hand door in the front of the helicopter. When they came out of the room, they were dressed in familiar uniform fatigues. Then came the shock to all of them, when the smallest of the team members came out of the room.

"Holy shit. What is that?" They were looking at Chase. "I am not an It. I am Chase."

"It talks?"

"Of course I talk. You talk. So do I."

"But…" Christina went over to Elise. "Missus Tuttle. Calm down. Chase is a member of our team. He is our brother."

"Is he an alien?" Christina looked over at Nick who was staring at Chase and laughed. "No Nick, he isn't. He is from Earth." Elise was looking at Chase with a little fear on her face. "He is no danger to any of you. He is my brother and I love him very much." Chase came over and put his arms around Christina and hugged her. "I love you too, Chrissy." He then walked over to Nick and held his hand out. "Hi Nick. I am Chase Casey." Nick hesitated for a moment before slowly reaching out and shaking hands. He giggled when he held the furry hand. "Wow, this is so cool." Chase smiled. "Do you want to play a game?" Nick nodded. Chase turned around and went over to where a bag was hanging on the bulkhead of the cabin and dug in it for a few moments before pulling a tablet out and took it over to Nick. He got up on the seat next to Nick and moments later the two of them were playing a game on the tablet.

"See. He's harmless." Elise sat there watching Chase and her son interacting and shook her head in disbelief. "Are there others like him? He is a him?"

Chris nodded. "Yes he is a him and no there are no others quite like him."

"But…" Chris held up her hand to stop her. "It's too complicated to explain and besides it's Top Secret. So I have to ask you, well, ask all of you, to forget what you know about us. You can think of us as a covert special ops team. We do the hard things that President Bryce needs done. We just happened to be in the area and saw your predicament, so we stepped in to help. Now we'll get you all to safety and then head back to our base to await our next mission."

She could see a lot of questions on everyone's face, but she just looked at them and the questions were not asked. She smiled and then headed toward the front of the helicopter. As they flew back to the Carruthers farm, Cole and some of the others were talking with the boys on the team. Ethan had an idea after talking to the boys and relayed it to Christina who agreed.

About twenty minutes later the helicopter began to descend. Once they were on the ground, one of the teens lowered the back ramp and Alf could see that they were behind his barn when he looked outside.

As they stepped onto the ground at the end of the ramp, they saw Barry followed by Marian and the rest of the Scouts coming around the corner of the barn. Alf went over to his wife and hugged her. She saw Frank supporting Aaron and then she saw the dried bloodstains on the three of them. "What happened Alf? What's wrong with Aaron?" Alf looked at Aaron. "We ran into a little trouble, but our friends here helped us out. Aaron got hurt, but he'll be okay in a day or two." He could tell that she was full of questions, but he shook his head. "We'll talk about this later tonight." She nodded after a moment and went over to her son to make sure he was okay.

The team carried the boats out of the back of the helicopter and placed them against the back wall of the barn. Christina came over to Alf. "Mister Carruthers. Thanks for what you're doing. I hope you keep doing it. There may be more people that need your help to reach safety." They shook hands. "I intend to keep helping whoever I can. I'm going to try to get some more friends of mine that can help. After everything I've learned, I can't see any other thing that I can do."

Christina looked at Barry and the scouts. "Mister Pickens. If you and the boys would be so good as to get your backpacks. We are wheels up in five minutes." Barry looked at her, wondering who this girl was, when he saw Cole walk out of the back of the helicopter. He smiled when he saw him. Cole joined them. "Hi Mister Pickens. You need to get your backpacks, they're going to take you back home before we head west." Barry looked at the large helicopter, which once again had the Red Dragon paint scheme showing. "But won't that be dangerous? I mean someone's bound to notice a huge helicopter like that, especially the way it is painted."

Christina smiled. "We'll be safe enough. We know how not to be seen, when we don't want to be noticed. But we've got a lot yet to do, so if we can hustle this along, I would really appreciate it. We've been on the move since early this morning, and we've still got a long way to go." Barry looked at Cole who nodded. He turned to face the scouts. "You heard her boys. Let's get our stuff and get it on the helicopter."

The boys were excited that they got to ride in the helicopter and followed Barry to the house where their packs were waiting. They hurried back and were directed up the ramp. Inside, they greeted the group. Their packs were taken from them and stowed in the cargo compartment and others from the team helped them get strapped into the empty seats. The scouts were surprised to see a bunch of kids about their age in military uniforms inside the helicopter.

Outside, Cole thanked the Carruthers once again and said goodbye. He followed Christina back into the helicopter. Before she went up the ramp, she turned to them. "I just want to warn you, that you're about to see something that will probably be unbelievable to you. Trust me, it's real, we just don't want anyone to see us taking off, so we'll be taking steps to make that impossible and to protect your family as well. I only ask you once again that whatever you see, don't tell anyone else. Like I asked earlier, forget anything you folks know about our capabilities. The longer we can keep such information from Asswood, the better." Alf nodded and Christina gave them a wave and jumped up on the ramp as it was raised. Alf and his family backed away and turned their heads as the rotor increased its speed and dirt was thrown into the air. Suddenly they quit hearing the sound of the helicopter, so they looked back and they all gasped in surprise. The dirt was still being thrown around, but they couldn't see the helicopter. Not only was it gone, but there was no sound either. As they watched, the wind left by the helicopter slowly began to settle down. The only evidence that there had been a helicopter there, were the marks on the dirt where it had landed and because of all the dirt moved around they were not very pronounced. The family looked at each other and shook their heads in wonder. They searched the sky, but there was nothing to see. They turned around and headed back to the house. Marian peppering them with questions.

Up in the helicopter, Barry and the Scouts were shocked when they saw Chase. Once again Christina repeated what she had told the others. Chase resumed his seat next to Nick and they continued to play a game on Chase's tablet. Chase was by far the object of many sidelong glances. Because it was going to take about an hour to get them back home, Christina began to introduce the members of the team to them. "Now you know our names. As for who we are, I'll give you the short version. "We are the UNIT. Like I mentioned you can think of us as a covert special ops unit. We are part of a larger organization with many teams like ours doing the same kind of thing. We work pretty much directly for the President. The real President, Jack Bryce. We go where we're needed." She could hear questions about them just being kids.

"Yes, we're 'kids'." She made the air quotes. "But we're doing what we've been trained to do. And no it wasn't the US Government who trained us. At least not this US Government. I'm sorry I can't tell you anything else, as information about us is rated higher than Top Secret. So, as I've mentioned to the others, please do not discuss anything about us with anyone. For now sit back and relax, we'll have you back in your hometown in less than an hour." Christina turned around and headed to the front of the cabin. There were still a lot of questions about what had happened, and Cole and his group answered everything that they could. The other members of the UNIT refused to elaborate further than what Christina had told them.

They hadn't been paying attention to the time, and were surprised when they felt the helicopter slow and begin to descend. When they felt the bump, signaling that they had landed, one of the UNIT members went over to the ramp controls and lowered the it. As the ramp came down they saw that they were behind a house and peering around the corner of the house was Cole and Cooper's grandparents. Cole ran down the ramp, with Cooper limping behind him followed by Barry and the Scouts.

"Hi Grandpa and Grandma."

"Cole. What are you doing here and who are they?" Cole looked back at the helicopter. "They're friends Grandpa. They're going to take us to safety."

"But… what happened?"

"Sorry, I don't think we have time to tell you much, but we ran into some trouble and they were able to save us. By the way, you won't be seeing Reverend Campbell around here anymore. He was the trouble we ran into and now he's a prisoner of war along with the soldiers that he had with him."

"Soldiers?" Cole nodded. "Anyway, they rescued us and took the soldiers captive. They said they're taking us to a place named Kettle Falls. I think one of them says it's in Washington state." They were interrupted. "Cole, Cooper, we need to get going, we don't want to be on the ground too long just in case one of Asswood's planes fly over and see us." Cole nodded. He and Cooper said their goodbyes to their grandparents and their friends. They waved as the ramp went up. The rotors began to turn faster and they backed away around the corner of the house. As they ducked around the corner, the noise disappeared. The man-made wind of the helicopter rotor was still there but no sound. They peeked around and their mouths dropped open. The helicopter was gone.

"Wow a cloaking device." They turned to look at Noah. "That's gotta be it. They've got a cloaking device."

"What's a cloaking device?"

"You know, like in Star Trek. It makes the ship invisible and I guess their device masks the noise too."

"That makes sense, I mean they have an Ali…..umph." The rest of what Michael was going to say was cut off by Harlan's hand over his mouth. Dwayne looked at the two boys. "They have a what?" Both boys shook their heads. "Nothing sir." He looked at them, but they quickly picked up their backpacks and walked away. The wind had died down and looking in the sky they couldn't see any sign of the helicopter.

"Goodbye boys. Good Luck."

Two Days Later

There was a knock on the door and Danny Woods got up from where he was sitting on the couch playing a game on his Xbox. "I'll get it Dad." He opened the door wondering if it was one of the guys from the troop. "Hey… oh, um. Hi." Standing on the porch looking around furtively were two men holding the hands of a boy and girl. Each had a duffel bag in one hand. With them were a couple of teens. One of them stepped forward. "We're looking for a woman named Moses." Danny gave them a big smile and nodded. "She's here. Come on in." The two teens smiled back and gave Danny the Scout handshake. They turned to the two men. "They'll take over from here. Good luck." They shook the men's hands and hurried back to the car idling in front of the house, got in and it drove away. Danny ushered them in and closed the door. The men looked up as Danny's dad Richard came into the living room. "They're looking for a woman named Moses." Richard smiled at them and came forward to shake their hands. "Welcome to our home. We're just about to have dinner." The two men gave him a smile.

The End

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