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Sandy was woken by an explosion.
You didn’t hear those everyday when you were fourteen, fifteen, or even sixteen! He sat up, got out of bed and started to move towards the window to see what was going on.
His bedroom door crashed open and he was tackled to the floor. It was a Gooch. Two Gooch. Big ones. Mind you Gooch don’t come in small. They carried Sandy through the door and ran with him down the stairs, into the basement, and into a tunnel. How do you fit two Gooch through one doorway, especially when they are carrying someone?
Sandy began to struggle before he realized that the Gooch were in uniform. One of them was Sergeant Max.
Within seconds they were in an underground command center of some sort. The Senator was there, as was Luke. Both were dressed. Sandy was in boxers. The Senator spoke.
“Good morning Lieutenant. The reservation is under attack by unknown forces. I was alerted fifteen minutes ago when HAL detected helicopters flying covertly towards the city. Luke and I were still chatting, so he has joined me here. As you have heard, someone has just fired a rocket at my front door.”
General Dean’s face appeared on a big screen. He was listening to something off-screen. He looked towards them. “The Twelve are all accounted for. There is a force of twenty helicopter gunships converging on the reservation. Most are in support of what look like SWAT team vans and trucks that have entered each of the four access roads.”
HAL spoke. “Well Dean this is a fine way to start the day. Frying inbound aircraft in 3-2-1 Done. I have allowed the motor vehicles to drive through the exterior border posts as you requested.”
“Thank you HAL. Please stop the convoys in 30 seconds. The Gooch and Choo will operate according to standard protocols.”
CC Afa came into the room with a uniform for Sandy. He started getting dressed.
“Master Gunny Shane report that ours perimeter is secure, Sir”
Another face appeared on another screen. A Gooch. The Senator spoke.
“Major, what is going on up there?”
“An attack on your residence, Senator. A team of six, approached in pairs from three directions. The first pair commenced a frontal rocket attack. The other two pairs took advantage of the diversion to penetrate the rear of the house. They were stopped in the lounge. We have taken prisoners Sir, three. They are currently being questioned, aggressively.”
“Thank you, Major. Your prisoners will be the only survivors of a much larger attack on the reservation. I would like to know who ordered it and why.”
“Of course, Senator.”
“You didn’t know about this did you Dean?”
“No, Senator, I did not.”
“How are the road convoys doing?”
“Do you want to watch the live feeds?”
“Put them through. But HAL I am more interested in the helicopters. Military?”
“Hi, Senator. Pleased you asked. These were law enforcement not military helicopters.”
“Whose choppers were they?”
“Homeland Security. Alcohol and Tobacco. Drug Enforcement. Immigration. FBI”
The Senator knew HAL would have traced the registration details of each of the downed machines. “Who wasn’t involved?”
“Could you set up a secure phone call with General Jones please?”
“Of course, Senator.”
The camera feeds now showed four different scenes of ground engagement. They were brutal. One sided and brutal. The lead and rear vehicles in each convoy had been hit by rocket launchers. The invading forces were being killed, one by one, by small arms fire.
Sandy watched the slaughter. Yep, the invaders weren’t soldiers. Some of them had the idea of exiting their vehicle and taking cover. But then they didn’t know what to do next. No co-ordination. They had to keep moving, but nah, they weren’t. And now the defenders were moving in. All over, Rover.
“General, I inform you of a level five incursion onto the reservation. Helicopter gunships supported by armed insurgents along each access route.”
“No casualties on our side, Sir. Twenty helicopters downed. At present, nine hundred and seventy-eight dead from the attacking force. Mopping up the remainder now. Forty-three still survive, thirty-nine.”
“We do not take prisoners Sir.”
“Yes we do. Some of the insurgents have now been identified as federal agents. The gunships are federal, not military.”
“No evidence of foreign involvement. Say again Sir, no evidence of foreign involvement. This seems to be an attack by your government on the reservation.”
“Incursion now over General. Bodies will be left at the hundred mile marker as per protocol.”
“Now is not the time. No Sir, the reservation is now a no-fly zone. Military assistance is not, say again, not, requested. Any aircraft entering the one hundred mile no-fly zone will be shot down.”
“Thank you Sir. Have a nice day…Dean, any alarm among the citizenry?”
“No, Senator. Beginning two hour countdown to open the gate at oh six hundred.”
“Sandy, I know it’s an early start but do you want to come and watch?”
Sandy was keen.
“Master Gunny Shane knows the place. I’ll see you there.”
And then it was over. Sandy had barely finished getting dressed. The live feeds closed down. CC Afa opened a door for Sandy, and he left the bunker. Back down the tunnel and into his own place.
‘Gunny, is there a gym here? Oh, and what time’s breakfast?’
“Yes, Citizen Lieutenant. And breakfast is whenever you want it.”
‘How far away is the gate?’
“Ten minutes by truck, Lieutenant”
‘Excellent. Let me work out for a bit. I’ll have breakfast at oh five hundred.”
“Sir. CC Afa will show you to the gym.”
“Nah, Let me go. I can hear him.” And Nellie burst into the room, in boxers, followed by two soldiers and then by Jane, in uniform.
The soldiers had weapons up, pointing at Nellie.
“Stand down. Safe those weapons.” Gunny Shane moved in front of Sandy. “Recruit Nelson, STAND STILL LADDIE!”
Nellie slid to a halt. Jane moved to stand beside him. So did Sandy.
“We heard the explosion. Didn’t know what was going on, so we came downstairs. No-one knew what was going on. So we went looking for Sandy and these two pulled guns on us and made us sit in the lounge. Then we heard Sandy. Nellie stepped them and came in here.”
‘Sounds reasonable to me, Gunny.’ Sandy thought he better stick up for Nellie.
“Well Sir, shall I send the recruits back to their rooms, or do you want them in the gym with you?”
‘We’ll go to the gym, if it’s all the same to you, Gunny.’
“Anything for a quiet life, Sir. Corporal Afa will show you the way.”
The gym was not empty, not even at four in the morning. There were half a dozen men in there, Sergeant Max, Corporal Dave, and four humans. Afa met another Choo at the door, took three gym bags off him, and handed one to Sandy.
“Yours gym gear, founder… and gears for yours recruits too.”
Sandy liked the gym. It was his quiet place, a place where he was in control. He didn’t do anything great. Fifteen minutes on the treadmill, some stretches, some chest, shoulder, arm work on the machines, and back on the treadmill to warm down. Nothing great, but after his shower, he felt good. And he had a chance to talk with Nellie in the change room.
“Yoo, Sandy, what’s the happs man? What’s with the big noise?”
‘I had dinner with the Senator.’
“Aint he like dead? Read about him in school. Anyways, the noise?”
‘Nah, he’s not dead. Old though. Anyway, after I got back someone fired a rocket at the Senator’s front door. That was the explosion. Woke me up too.’
“Did they catch the fools?”
‘There were six of them. Three survived. At the same time the ords attacked this place, with helicopters and over a thousand soldiers. This walking computer robot, HAL, killed all the helicopters, and the Gooch and Choo killed all the men. It was gruesome. It seems we don’t take prisoners.’
“That’s good. But you said three guys survived the rocket attack.”
‘Yeah I did. Dunno about them.’
“So whats we gonna do about it? Attack them back?”
‘Don’t think so. Wanna get some breakfast?’
You never had to ask Nellie twice about food. As soon as he thought of food he was hungry, and he thought of food a lot.
Breakfast was fine. They served themselves. Nellie went straight for the bacon, sausages, eggs. Sandy and Jane not so much. Afa said that the kitchen here ran twenty four hours a day.
‘What did you guys do after I saw you last night?’
“Nellie had a shower. We got uniforms and gear, heaps of gear. Had dinner. Nobody seemed to know why we were here. Got shown to our room. Then nothing till the explosion this morning.”
“Yeah, it’s two to a room here.” It was eight to a dorm at school, but there were dorms for the boys and dorms for the girls. This was new.
‘How much have you guys been told about what’s the happs here?’
“We don’t know squat man.”
‘We are 1RR, first recon and rescue, a commando unit. Our job is to go off the reservation and rescue citizens who need rescuing from the ords. From what I saw just before, Alphas fire at us with real guns.’
“Well done, Sir.” Oh, Gunny was here. “You two will be members of Abel troop, led by me. We are the spearhead of the platoon. Bravo and Charlie troops operate behind and beside us. Sergeant Max, you met him yesterday, leads Bravo.
Recruit Jane, I see you have an aptitude for flying. Do you wish to become a pilot specialist?”
Jane couldn’t believe her luck. “Yes Sir, Master Gunnery Sergeant”
“Don’t ever call me Sir again, recruit. I work for a living. You call me Gunny. Recruit Nellie, I see that Citizen Sergeant Max has asked that you try out for our rugby league team.”
“It’s dangerous. I would rather humans killed you than one of Citizen General Dean’s thugs.”
“Aint nobody can’t kill me. I’ll be fine.”
“The game is this Saturday, against Citizen General Dean’s men. Training is at sixteen hundred today. We have a vacancy on the wing”
“What happened to your last winger?”
“He was killed two weeks ago.”
“Playing league?” Nellie seemed excited by the idea.
“Oh. Too bad.”
‘Fellas, I’m about to go and watch the opening of the Stargate. You guys are coming too. That OK by you Gunny?’
“It shall be as you wish, Citizen Lieutenant.”
“Yoo, the what, Sandy? I aint never heard of no Stargate on the reservation.”
“Nellie, you FOB. You heard about the Exodus, right? This is the doorway to the New World.”
“I aint going nowhere man. I just joined the army. And I got training tonight. No time for sightseeing. I aint even got me a rifle yet.”
Sandy had to laugh.