Alpha, p.12
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       Alpha, p.12

           Daniel Schmidt
 

  Chapter 12

  I heard another yell from the Alpha – he was definitely getting closer. I couldn’t understand what he was saying but I didn’t have to. I looked around and nearly every man nervously shifted his weight around.

  “Can anyone lead us back to the house?” I hissed.

  Walter turned to me and held up his right hand, showing me his GPS. “I got it on digits.”

  “Everyone follow Walter,” I hissed, running around the perimeter. It didn’t take long before everyone was up and moving in single file behind Walter. I took the rear and looked nervously behind me every couple of steps. We had to slow after a minute to transfer wounded and dead around to fresh people. As Sergeant Barnes was hoisted onto someone’s shoulders, Christine gave him a couple shots of morphine to ease his pain. He looked dead but grunted a few times as we started moving again.

  After half an hour I halted the squad and made sure everyone drank some water, and I crouched next to Walter. He told me it was only another mile to the house. I told him to halt about half a mile short and he nodded his head. I walked down the line, checking each man for injury and telling him how far we had to go. They were all tired, each having carried Sergeant Barnes or our KIAs several times by now. No one spoke; we were all alone in our thoughts. After five minutes I signaled Walter to move out.

  It was another fifteen minutes before Walter halted. I moved everyone into a small protective circle with Sergeant Barnes and Christine in the center; the KIAs we placed out of sight a short distance away. To my surprise Sergeant Barnes was alert and spoke to me.

  “Paul,” he said several times. “Hell of a job, that was a hell of a job getting us out of there. Keep it up.”

  “I’ll do what I can,” I said.

  I called Walter and Carlos to the center. I told them I would go take a look at the house and everyone else would stay here. I told them I would be gone for thirty minutes and if any Legion showed up they were to move towards the house and if I ran into trouble I’d run back here. I told them to let everyone else know, and then I moved off alone.

  There was a small hill in between where we stopped and the house. As fast as my tired legs could carry me, I ran up it. As I neared the top I could smell smoke. When I came over the crest I saw our house had been burnt to the ground. Several small fires still smoldered, illuminating the wreckage. I cursed several times.

  I dropped to the ground and leaned against a tree. I pulled out my phone and called Luke. He started yelling the moment he picked up.

  “Paul, you told me you only had 14 men. There was over 50 armed men there! I had two agents wounded trying to get to it. You’re going to prison, you hear me? You screwed this up!”

  He continued with threats and screams when finally I cut him off. “We don’t have fifty men. We have fourteen. The Legion set that ambush for us. You stumbled on their men, not ours.”

  Luke continued to yell and I cut him off again. “We lost two men! Two men killed and another badly wounded! The Legion somehow knew where we were going and laid a trap for us,” I hissed.

  Luke stopped yelling and I said, “I almost died back there, along with everyone else.”

  I could hear Luke breathing hard.

  “Luke, I didn’t know they were going to be there. We barely got out of there alive.”

  There was silence for a few seconds before Luke cursed a few times. “Did you get your person out?” he asked.

  “They killed him before we got there.”

  “What?!”

  I took a deep breath. “Like I said, the Legion laid an ambush for us.”

  “Why?”

  “I don’t know. You were supposed to find out who they are. All I know is they want us dead.”

  Luke cursed several more times. I looked down at the house. “The house we were staying in was burnt down, was that your guys?”

  “No. Why they hell would I burn the house down?”

  “I told you where it was,” I hissed.

  “I want your people in custody. How would burning the house down benefit me in any way?”

  “I don’t know. I’m just pissed off,” I said.

  There was silence for a few moments. “What’s your next move?” Luke asked.

  “I don’t know,” I said. “I’m in charge for the moment but we have nowhere to go.”

  “You need to find a way to get everyone to me so I can sort this out.”

  “So you want me to continue this escapade?”

  “Yes, we need more information. I need to know who these Legion are and I really need to know who these people you’re taking are. I want to know where they end up and why someone wants them dead. This is way more complicated than we thought.”

  “You think?” I remarked sarcastically. I composed myself in a moment and then said, “Okay, I’ll figure something out and call you when we decide on our next move.”

  I ended the call and stood in silence for several minutes before I heard footsteps behind me. I rolled onto my stomach and pointed my rifle in the direction of the sound. The footsteps came closer and I heard Christine’s voice.

  “Paul?”

  I lowered my rifle.

  “Christine.”

  I saw her figure move out of the darkness and I stood up. She looked down at the burning house and then back at me. I feared she had heard my conversation with Luke but I didn’t detect any suspicion.

  “It seems all is lost,” she said softly, looking back to the burning house.

  I didn’t know what to say. She looked up at me. “Paul, we need to keep moving.”

  I motioned to the house. “To where? We don’t have anywhere to go.”

  “You think we are doomed don’t you?”

  I didn’t answer and she asked me again.

  “Yes, I do.”

  “Paul, do you know the first two prophecies?”

  She waited for me to answer. “Alvar and Eine,” I said.

  “But you don’t know the rest.” She pulled out a coin and ran her finger across it. “Do you want to know the third prophecy?” she asked.

  I wondered how she would know.

  “Fen,” she continued softly.

  “What does that mean?” I asked.

  “Fen, chaos of epic proportions, will consume the world.”

  “Why are you telling me this?” I asked.

  “Isn’t that what’s happening now? Chaos is starting to consume our world but we cannot let it take us. We have to keep moving and keep fighting. The Legion have dealt us a hard blow, but all is not lost. Return to Sergeant Barnes and you will see.”

  I didn’t say anything and Christine placed her hand on my arm. “You still have a job to do. Go back to Sergeant Barnes and you will see.”

  I hated how convincing Christine could be. She could make me do anything and she knew it. I sighed deeply and then started walking back towards the squad, Christine trailing behind me.

  Once I returned, I told Sergeant Barnes what I had seen. He cursed and then fished out the smart phone he used to identify the Alvar. The device was thin, maybe a half an inch and roughly four inches wide and five inches long. One side had a few buttons and a screen that was dark at the time. He pressed one of the buttons. The screen came to life and dimly lit Sergeant Barnes’s face. He ran his finger down the screen, frowned, and then turned it toward me. The screen showed line after line of text and numbers.

  “Those are distress signals from our sister squad and others in our organization. The Legion have launched a coordinated surprise attack against everyone in our organization. I don’t think we have anything left.”

  Sergeant Barnes turned the screen back and hit another button. “But not all is lost… The Prophet has spoken again.” He turned the screen so I could see it. There was a string of numbers, a latitude and longitude location.

  “The Prophet has spoken and this is where you will find another Alvar. Take the squad an
d go secure the package. Challenge is ‘boat’, password is ‘lamp.’”

  My heart sank. “You want me in charge? Sarg, I’m the newest guy here, I shouldn’t be the one leading these men.”

  “But you have been, and doing a fine job of it.”

  Sergeant Barnes leaned in closer to me. “Paul you have earned these men’s confidence, and they trust your leadership. And so do I.”

  “I’ve been here a month, everyone else has more experience… And I don’t think I’m up for it.”

  “Listen to me, son. You are up to it and these men will follow you. Paul, you have been tested under fire and come out alive and leading the pack. There is no better measuring stick than that. The men trust you, believe me – I asked them when you were gone. They agreed you would be one to lead them.”

  I took a deep breath and looked at the ground; they were putting their lives into my hands, the hands of a traitor.

  “Who do you want to be your team leaders?” Sergeant Barnes asked.

  “Carlos and Walter.”

  Barnes nodded his head.

  I thought for a moment. “We’ll just have two teams and I’ll keep David as my runner and shooter.”

  “Sounds good,” Sergeant Barnes nodded.

  Sergeant Barnes looked down at his smart phone and then thrust it into my hands. “This device can identify Alvar, receive secure messages from the Prophet, and everything else a smart phone can do.” Sergeant Barnes showed me applications that could accomplish each task.

  “And what do we do after we grab the Alvar?”

  Sergeant Barnes pulled up a map on the phone and tapped his finger where we were, and then pointed to a spot to the northwest. “We have a lot of rally points pre-designated out in these woods. The closest one is here, rally point Black.” Barnes tapped his finger on the location. “It will have supplies, ammo, chow, and winter clothing.” I looked to where we had to pick up the Alvar, which was only three or four miles from where we were now, and then to the rally point. I judged it another four or five miles from the Alvar’s location.

  Barnes continued. “Rally point Black will also have guidance on where to go next. There should be big metal pod that you can open. Inside, that pod should have emergency protocols and safe house locations. I don’t even know which protocols and safe houses it lists. The pod can only be opened when distress signals have gone out like they have.”

  “And what if I can’t make it to the rally point?” I asked.

  “Keep the Alvar, Christine, and the men alive at all costs. Just keep moving and keep fighting.”

  I nodded my head.

  I turned to leave, but Sergeant Barnes grabbed my leg. “And one more thing Paul, take care of my men. I am entrusting you with their lives, do not fail me, and do not fail them.” Sergeant Barnes held my gaze and then settled lower onto the ground. My heart sank.

  I ran around our perimeter and brought Carlos, Walter, and David into the center. I told Carlos and David to each take half of the squad. I told David he was going to stay with me and act as my runner and shooter. I sent Carlos and Walter out to get their teams situated. David and I looked over the map and he put the coordinates to where we were going into his GPS. After a few minutes Carlos and Walter returned and I pulled out Sergeant Barnes’s phone for them to see.

  “The Prophet has spoken again. We got another mission.” I pointed on the map where we were going.

  “And another thing, the third prophecy has been revealed.” All three men raised their eyebrows. “Fen, chaos of epic proportions, will consume the world. Let the men know and then let’s get out of here.”

 
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