7.Valley Forge, Custer's ranks,
San Juan Hill and Patton's tanks,
And the Army went rolling along
Minute men, from the start,
Always fighting from the heart,
And the Army keeps rolling along.Mogador, 16:19 hrs.
It had been nearly five hours since the mission that was supposed to only last an hour had started and about four hours since Faith had been left behind. Not that she was complaining, oddly (and this she found just a little scary) she’d been enjoying herself wandering around Mogador fighting the militiamen.
Following the sound of the fighting, Faith had always arrived just after the battle had moved on. In one way this was good, it meant that she’d not had to fight any large groups of militia since the church. On the other hand it was bad, because she never quite caught up with the America troops as they fought their way towards the airport. It was looking increasingly likely that if she was going to make it back to the airport and the Ranger base, she was going to have to do it all by herself. Unfortunately over the four hours she’d been wandering around Mogador she’d got just a little turned around.
The narrow streets and tall buildings prevented her from getting a good fix on her location; she had no map and didn’t have a good mental picture of the relative positions of the town and the base. However she did remember the view she’d got of the town when she’d been flown in. The airport was just inland from the sea, if she could find her way to the shore she could work her way along the beach before striking inland and hopefully locating the airport like that. First, however, she needed to find the coast.
It was as she turned into a slightly wider street that she saw the helicopter. It span through the air getting lower and lower as it went leaving a spiral of smoke in its wake. Head up and keeping her eyes on the aircraft, Faith started to run following the chopper’s erratic course as it headed for the ground. Someone was bound to send a rescue mission for the crew so maybe she could get picked up as well, also the crew would probably need some help after they’d crashed. You didn’t leave people behind, you helped out as you could. Although Faith was feeling just a little ‘left behind’ she knew she had to help however ‘let down’ she might feel at the army just now.
Thinking she’d lost the Blackhawk as it disappeared behind a building, Faith ran into what had been a picturesque square with a fountain in the middle. Now it was just a dusty open area littered with the burnt out wrecks of a couple of cars and a truck. The fountain had been reduced to a smashed up piece of masonry, but more importantly the square contained the wreck of the Blackhawk. It lay mostly up right like a strange dark green whale that had some how been washed up by the sea. The tail rotor had gone, probably blown off by an RPG. The main rotors were bent and broken and a thin trail of smoke rose from the engine compartment.
Running across the deserted square, Faith could see no movement that might indicate that any of the crew were still alive. Distracted for a moment by the sound of another chopper, Faith slowed and stopped half way to the downed Blackhawk. Looking up into the sky she saw another helicopter orbiting around the crash site way up there out of rifle and RPG range. It gave no sign of swooping down and rescuing anyone. Perhaps, thought Faith as she started to run towards the chopper again, perhaps it was the command bird and even now a rescue mission was being launched. If it was, Faith hoped it would get here soon. Now she was closer to the Blackhawk she could see the door gunner slumped over his mini-gun, he didn’t look too good.
Coming to a halt, Faith checked the gunner for a pulse, finding none she removed her hand, it came away bloody. The gunner looked as if he’d been riddled with bullets or shrapnel from the hit that had taken out the tail rotor. Clambering into the helicopter, Faith checked on the pilot in the right hand seat. Once again she couldn’t find a pulse, the pilot’s head was at a weird angle and Faith guessed he’d broken his neck. Without much hope she next turned to the pilot in the left hand seat and nearly wet herself when he groaned at her touch.
“Jeeez!” Faith gasped, “Don’t do that man!”
“What the hell!?” the pilot opened his eyes and looked at Faith in astonishment, “You’re a woman!”
“Sure am, L-t,” Faith replied having spotted the pilot’s rank insignia, “where’s it hurt?”
“I think I’ve broken my arm,” the pilot winced as he tried to move his left arm, “my head feels like someone hit it with a sledge hammer and my back feels kinda weird…now, what the hell are you doing here?”
“Short version,” Faith replied as she checked the pilot for another wounds, “I was driving an ambulance, it got blown to hell and back and I got left behind.”
“Shit, when was that?” the pilot asked, probably more to keep his mind off the pain as Faith checked put his arm before putting in a sling then really wanting to know.
“Oh,” Faith ripped open a dressing and started to make it into a sling for the pilots injured arm, “about four hours ago.”
“And you’ve been…OWWWW!” screamed the pilot.
“Sorry, L-t!” Faith backed away from the pilot a little; she’d got a sling on his arm and that was about the best she could do for him at the moment.
Looking out through the smashed glass of the windscreen, Faith noticed that the square wasn’t as deserted at it once had been. Here and there, standing on the roofs of the surrounding dwellings, she could see women calling to unseen people behind the buildings. At the entrances to the square Faith saw little crowds of Skinnies begin to form, some had weapons most had not, but she was beginning to feel very uneasy about this.
“You got a weapon, L-t?” Faith asked as she checked her AK was fully loaded.
“Yeah I got an MP5 somewhere, why?” the pilot followed Faith’s gaze and saw the gathering crowds for the first time.
“Looks like we’re gonna have to move,” Faith explained as she took hold of the pilot as gently as she could and started to lift him out of his seat.
“I’m too heavy, you’ll nev…AAAAAGH!” the pilot screamed as Faith lifted him out of his seat and into the rear of the chopper. “Christ!” gasped the pilot as he looked at Faith in wonder, “You’re stronger than you look…”
“Sure, L-t,” Faith started to automatically divert the pilot’s attention away from her super-strength, “it’s nothing, it’s all to do with leverage, y’know?”
“To hell with leverage,” the pilot eyed Faith warily, “that was raw strength how’d…?”
“Hey, okay, so I’m tough,” Faith shrugged; by now she was more interesting in the crowd outside than what the pilot had to say, “but don’t go spreading it around, a girl has her reputation to think of…”
The pilot laughed then winced; Faith reached into the flight deck and retrieved the pilot’s MP5, she handed him the weapon.
“Here ya go, L-t locked an’ loaded,” Faith moved towards the door of the chopper, “watch my back.”
Stepping out of the Blackhawk, Faith trotted over to a low mud brick wall, it wasn’t much cover but it’d have to do. Getting down behind the wall she aimed her weapon at a man with an AK who looked like he was going to start using it. Within seconds her suspicions were confirmed. The Skinny started to run towards the Blackhawk firing his weapon from the hip. Hardly aiming, Faith shot him down with one round.
As the first man fell another started to run towards Faith’s position, he too slid to a halt, a bullet through his head. By now Faith found herself firing steadily as Skinnies ran at her firing whatever weapons they happened to have. Others jumped about firing their weapons wildly in her general direction as a large angry crowd moved in and added bottles and stones to the hail of missiles that headed her way.
As long as she had rounds and the Skinnies kept up these individual attacks, Faith felt confident that she could hold them off. However there was a problem, when Faith came to reload she found she only had one full magazine left. Okay, she also had a couple with perhaps ten rounds in each, so, maybe fifty rounds in all. Glancing at the crowd before shooting down another attacker, Faith calculated that the crowd now numbered in the hundreds; she was going to run out of ammunition long before she ran out of crowd and even she missed sometimes.
Hearing the pilot’s MP5 go off, Faith looked over her shoulder to see a Skinny fall to the ground behind her, his only weapon had been a machete which slid along the ground as he dropped it on being hit. Deciding the crowd was too close, Faith got up from behind the wall, still firing she retreated towards the Blackhawk. Taking cover in the back of the helo with the pilot, Faith cast a longing look at the useless mini-gun and all its ammunition; without electricity it was just a useless hunk of metal.
Shooting down yet another Skinny, Faith came to the end of her last full magazine. Swapping the empty for a partially full one, she was just in time to put a couple of rounds into a Skinny who was firing a pistol at her from about three yards away and still missing! Firing steadily, she soon came to the end of that magazine.
“Last mag!” Faith cried as she slammed home the magazine and shot a Skinny who was intent on killing her with his razor sharp sword.
“Get outta here!” Called the pilot as he used his MP5 to support Faith’s fire.
“No way, L-t!” Faith fired off her last few rounds, dropped her AK and started to look around for another weapon.
“That’s an order!” the pilot swapped his magazines round just quickly enough to be in time to shoot another crazy Skinny, “they’ll rape you to death if you don’t get outta here…”
“Told you once, L-t,” Faith reached in to the flight deck and reappeared with the dead pilot’s pistol, “no-way! We don’t leave people behind!”
Lifting the pistol, Faith put two rounds into the chest of another Skinny. The man kept running even though he was dead and crashed into the chopper to fall on top of Faith. Struggling with the body Faith fought her way clear to see a whole swarm of Skinnies closing in on the chopper.
“I’M OUT!” Yelled the pilot as he dropped his empty weapon.
Snatching up an abandoned AK, Faith tossed her pistol to the pilot. Juggling the assault rifle so it was pointing in the right direction, she pulled the trigger. For a second or two the AK barked and she cut down two or three more Skinnies before it ran dry. Just for an instant, Faith remembered the scene in ‘Aliens’ where the Marine and the officer were trapped in the air vents as the Aliens closed in…only difference was she didn’t have a grenade to blow herself and the pilot up and take a few Skinnies with her.
Climbing out of the Blackhawk, Faith started to beat at the Skinnies using the AK as a club. If she was going to die, she told herself, she was going to go down fighting and take as many of these stinking bastards with her as she could. The Skinnies were all over her now, they beat her to the ground, but still she fought back using her fists, feet even her teeth, but she knew her life was now counted in seconds and not the years she’d hoped for; some part of her hoped that this had all been worthwhile.
It was as she was trying to twist the head off one last Skinny that Faith noticed that the press of bodies on top of her wasn’t as bad as it had been. Suddenly she could hear screaming and a sound like ripping canvas over the noise made by rotor blades. Finding herself alone on the ground and surrounded by only bodies, she looked up to see a Blackhawk hovering about fifty feet above the crash site. A long flame reached from the cargo door as someone used a mini-gun to flay the crowd and drive it back. Once the crowd was running the first Blackhawk rose up in the air and took station to keep back the Skinnies as another chopper landed and disgorged half a dozen armed men. Two men ran towards her as the others made their way towards the downed Blackhawk.
“You okay?” Asked the first trooper to get to Faith.
“Yeah sure,” Faith pushed herself up into a sitting position as the down wash from the chopper’s rotors whipped her hair around her face, “the pilot…” Faith pointed at the downed helo.
“Don’t worry we’ve got him,” replied the rescue trooper as he helped Faith to her feet, “lets get you outta here!”0=0=0=0The Epilogue.Temple of the Great One, 17:50hrs.
Bursting into the main chamber of the temple, Captain Finn, US Army Rangers, looked around at all the dead bodies lying on the floor. He and his men had been tasked with destroying the temple and the cultists, but someone had beaten him to it.
“Looks like you’re a little late, old boy,” called a voice from out of the shadows.
Turning, Riley centred the muzzle of his CAR-15 on the stomach of what looked like a short but tough looking militiaman.
“Steady on old chap,” the man’s upper class British accent was at odds with his appearance, “no need to get trigger happy.”
As if to reinforce his words several shadows detached themselves from nooks and crannies and stepped out into the open. Riley relaxed a little as he saw the mixture of CAR-15’s and MP-5’s the militiamen were carrying.
“Captain Caine, SAS,” the short militiaman introduced himself, “I presume you’re Captain Finn, 613th Ranger Company?”
“You got it,” Riley admitted, trust the Brits to beat him to the prize, he’d never hear the last of this now, Riley gestured at all the bodies, “did you…?”
“Oh no, not us old boy,” a wide grin split Caine’s face as he walked over to join Riley, “we thought you’d done it.”
“Not us,” Riley confirmed.
“Well,” Caine sighed, “this is a bit of a poser…if it wasn’t you and it absolutely wasn’t us, well,” Caine raised an eyebrow at Riley, “who the hell was it?”
“No idea,” Riley lied as several ideas popped into his mind, the CIA? The French? The locals?
Squatting down next to one of the bodies, Riley examined its wounds or should he say ‘wound’, the priestess had been shot neatly through the forehead.
“We’ve already had a look around,” Caine explained as he came up behind Riley, “best as we can work out; someone came in through the front door and then calmly shot everyone in here.”
“Any clues as to who?” Riley pushed himself to his feet and turned to face the British officer.
“Well there’s the thing old chap,” Caine chuckled, he seemed to be finding this all very amusing and it was starting to grate on Riley. “the only empty cases we found were short 7.62 from AK’s, so I’d guess that unless the locals did it…”
“Looks too neat and tidy for Skinnies,” Riley pointed out.
“Indeed,” agreed Caine, “my thoughts exactly, so unless it was the Russians I’ll admit to being a bit stumped!”
“Yeah,” Riley looked at all the bodies again and pushed his helmet onto the back of his head, “whatever,” he shrugged, “whoever did it is long gone by now…”
“And left us with a bit of a mystery,” Caine nodded, “all it leaves us to do is to tidy up a bit.”
“I’ll deal with that if you like,” Riley turned and signalled to his men, “we’ll set the charges and blow this place to kingdom come.”
“Oh jolly good old chap,” Caine grinned, “knew I could rely on you Yanks to blow things up,” Caine’s grin got wider, “while you’re doing that my chaps and I’ll set up a cordon so you’re not disturbed.”
“Thanks,” Riley started to pull blocks of C4 from his pack.
“Rum do all this,” Caine shrugged as he gestured to all the bodies, “but as you say it’s done, so lets not worry too much about who did it, eh?”0=0=0=0Charlie Two-Nine, somewhere over the Indian Ocean.
Sitting back in her uncomfortable seat, Faith started to ponder on the strange things that seemed to happen to her and around her. First there was the whole coma thing. Next there was the apparent super-powers (which were cool, she never needed a bottle opener to pop the cap on a bottle of beer). But there were also all the not so cool things that happened; like muggers who tried to bit her on the neck and freaks in LA generally. The monster that’d chased herself and her friends through the woods during training; she wouldn’t forget that in a hurry. Blind monks with knives coming after her just before last Christmas and now strange religious cults killing children.
As Faith saw it she had two options; one, she could worry and obsess about this weird stuff until it drove her nuts, or, she could go to a bar with her buddies back in Germany and laugh about it over a few beers…well, Faith modified her idea, over a lot of beers. Because, hey, she didn’t know if this was normal, maybe this sort of thing happened to everyone. Perhaps it was so common that no one thought it worth mentioning, after all her memories only stretched back to February ’02. But, there was the super-powers, that didn’t seem normal; no one else appeared to have them, so maybe she was right to keep them under wraps…and maybe she should spend some time trying to find out who she really was and why she was like she was. However, that could all wait until she got back to Germany and had more than a few beers.
Wriggling her butt in a futile attempt to get comfortable, Faith closed her eyes and let the droning of the C130’s engines start to lull her off to sleep. The rescue helo had taken herself, the injured pilot and the bodies of the other pilot and the door gunner back to the airport. In the aftermath and confusion of a mission that had gone badly wrong, Faith found herself put aboard a transport with the seriously wounded. She and they were being evacuated to Diego Garcia.
No one had bothered to ask her what she’d been doing out in the city, or how she’d come to be defending the downed Blackhawk. The Rangers hadn’t asked her anything, in fact they seemed to have forgotten all about her, after all she wasn’t one of theirs and she’d not been there long enough to make much of an impression in people’s minds. Perhaps in a week or two when everything had calmed down, someone would ask themselves what had happened to the female driver who’d been sent to them by mistake. If anyone bothered to check they’d no doubt find she’d been sent back to Diego Garcia and then on to Germany and think no more about her, she’d be someone else’s problem by then. Men in rags, men who froze,
Still that Army met its foes,
And the Army went rolling along.
Faith in God, then we're right,
And we'll fight with all our might,
As the Army keeps rolling along.The End.Author’s Note;
Once again I’d like to thank everyone who read, reviewed and recommended this story.
The next ‘Faith in the Army’ story will be ‘We’ll All Go Together When We Go’ (Yep more Tom Lehrer), which will be posted in four to six weeks.