Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"Say it Louder Dad"

Last Night I was watching the news from Egypt and they were showing video of the throngs of people shouting in the streets and so I hit pause on my dvr and told my oldest son to come look

I then opened up my Bible to Isaiah 19 and had him read

Isaiah 19

1 A prophecy against Egypt:
See, the LORD rides on a swift cloud
and is coming to Egypt.
The idols of Egypt tremble before him,
and the hearts of the Egyptians melt with fear.

2 “I will stir up Egyptian against Egyptian—
brother will fight against brother,
neighbor against neighbor,
city against city,
kingdom against kingdom.
3 The Egyptians will lose heart,
and I will bring their plans to nothing;

My son's reaction shook me, he looked at me and said "Dad, are you warning enough?" I said "I'm trying son"....

He said "Dad, You gotta say it louder"

....Yesterday we had Winter STORM Warnings blaring and people heard and raced to the grocery store.....they were going crazy, buying up everything Because they had heard warnings of a coming storm

BUT THIS IS JUST A BLIZZARD, This is NOTHING compared to the The Storm that the Bible Warns that is Coming

We in America were devestated at the loss of over 3,000 people on 9-11-2001 but were apathetic at best that 230,000 people died in The Asian Pacific Tsunami or the 200,000 plus that died in the Earthquake in Haiti? IS that why so many seem deaf to the warnings the Bible trumpet?

Why are we not shocked AWAKE at hearing and knowing that someday

Evil angels will be released to kill 1/3 of mankind Rev 9:13-15

that there will be a day when a hail storm begins to unleash boulders of ice upon neighbor's/friends/family

90-100 lb Hailstones Rev 16:16-20

Stop and Think about that...PLEASE....take a moment to think of that scene just in your neighborhood!!!

we hear of earthquakes shaking nations and we watch Fox or CNN and are amazed at the damage but do we REALLY believe that THERE will be The Great Earthquake leaving NO ISLANDS on earth
also, taking down every mountain on earth. Rev 16:17-21

In the last few days ....Weatherman have been delivering Warnings all across America and Australia too

Storms are coming and People hear and choose to prepare OR many scoff and say "ahhh it aint going to be nothing"

those same naysayer's are the one's running to the store today, but the shelves are bare, the ice melt's gone...the shovels aren't on sale ...

many people procrastinated and are now stuck in circumstances they weren't prepared for....

But again those are just circumstances of dealing with a Blizzard

when it comes to the Storms of the Lord that are coming...YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO Procrastinate.....You can't afford to say..."ahhhh it aint going to be nothing"

You need to have the same urgent reaction as those who heard the weathermen and rushed to the store BEFORE...who bought up the Ice Melt ..who cabinets and fridges are full......

You Need to "Wake UP" Now and Believe all the Warnings that are blaring to "Make Ready"

Because Just as my son said to Me....."Say it Louder Dad"

In Psalms 9 we see a Prayer of a Righteous man asking the same thing

16 The LORD is known by the judgment He executes;
The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.

17 The wicked shall be turned into hell,
And all the nations that forget God.
18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten;
The expectation of the poor shall not perish forever.

19 Arise, O LORD,
Do not let man prevail;
Let the nations be judged in Your sight.
20 Put them in fear, O LORD, (SAY IT LOUDER DAD)
That the nations may know themselves to be but men.

I pray if your reading this message and your sensing a stirring in your heart...that "somethings Up".....that You need to "stop and think" and then ....Turn to Jesus Christ....He is Your ONLY Hope..Believe in Your Heart that He did die on a Cross, that He did it because of YOUR Sin, that three days later He Rose from the Dead proving He is who He said ...The King of All Kings and He's asking You to "Follow Him" all the days of Your Life in Unyielded Allegiance and He will Come and Receive You unto Himself ...... Escaping that which is coming to try the whole earth....THE STORM OF THE LORD

PLEASE PLEASE, Flee the Wrath (Storm) To Come!!!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Are They Ready For This?

It had been almost 5 months since Joy had seen her mother. The Rabbi strolled to the wailing wall listening to Joys little chatter as they walked. Joy didnt seem to have any memory of that day which was a blessing. The 2 witnesses stood where they always stood proclaiming the salvation of the Lord even amidst all the noise of the construction going on.
The Pontiate had given his permission to the Jewish Authority to rebuild their temple and they had wasted no time in getting started. They had spent many years re-creating artifacts from the original temple in preparation of this time and couldnt believe their good fortune of receiving approval after all their years of trying. The Rabbi felt sad in his heart as he watched his fellow citizens show such happiness as they allowed deception to rule their lives. Soldiers stood guard around all of the construction as everyone waited for the man who had made all this possible to arrive for his weekly inspection. The Rabbi stood at the wall praying. " Lord, not my will but yours be done. Open their eyes Lord to the evil that surrounds them. May the witnesses penetrate their minds Lord as they work.I ask in Jesus precious and Holy name. Amen" He turned to Joy who sat happily chattering in her stroller and walked towards her as a GF soldier approached.

- Renee

Small chat was exchanged between the two before their food arrived. Once it did, Dean lowered his head and said a silent prayer thanking the Lord for the food and his safety. Polly told Dean about the area and how most of the people left after the great disappearance, headed to larger cities, she guessed. Most people were scared and figured like animals if they stayed in large groups they would be safe. Dean knew this to be false but didn’t say a word.
With just a bit more to eat, Dean hopes of getting out of there was looking good, until the waitress brought over a beer and sat it down next to Polly. “This is from Tommy” she said walking away.

“Someone you know?” Dean asked

“An old friend I hoped would have never come back to this area, I think we might want to leave soon, he is the type to talk everyone into doing his dirty work.”

“If you are not finished we will stay, you are safe” Dean said without looking at her but kept on eating.

Polly looked around and Tommy standing with two other guys, luckily he was looking away at that moment. “No, I’m ready”

Dean sat his fork down, wiped his chin and eased out of the booth. As he stood, he spotted an older man, medium build walking towards them so he figured this was Tommy. Watching Polly stand, Dean allowed her to go first towards the counter.

“Hey Polly, long time no see, how about you and your friend come have a drink with us?” Tommy stated as he walked up.

“No thanks, we came to eat and now we are leaving.” Polly replied walking past him.

Dean didn’t smile but as he walked pasted Tommy, he did give what someone might call a wink.

“Hey now, when a man buys a lady a drink he wants her to drink it” Tommy said raising his voice.

“Buy her a drink next time not a beer” Dean replied as they got to the cashier.

“Son, you best be shutting you mouth and stay out of this, as a matter of fact why don’t you just head on home, I’ll make sure Polly gets home safe.”

Still not looking at the other man, Dean watched Polly pay for dinner then followed her towards the front door.

“Hey son, a real man would have paid for his own dinner, not beg off a woman” Tommy said before telling one of his friends to go block the front door.

Dean slowed up and turned to face Tommy, in a low voice “A real man wouldn’t talk like an ass in front of a lady”

That is when Tommy tried to throw his first punch. High and missing by eight inches, he was about to send his left fist in when he realized he couldn’t breath. Focusing on the moment, Tommy eyes grew twice as big as he felt Dean’s hand, gripped around his throat start to squeeze. Like an animal, panic started to set in and Tommy grabbed Dean’s arm and tried to release him-self but the more he struggled the tighter the grip became.

All this happen so quickly that the other two men had no idea their buddy was in trouble until they saw him drop to him knees.

“Now if you and your friends want to see the sunrise, I suggest you all back away and leave this lady alone.”

Dean gave Tommy once as squeeze before releasing him. Tommy dropped like a rock fighting to get the air he needed. Dean walked up to Polly and signaled that he was ready to go. The man who had gone to the door to block it stood ready to make his stance, when he looked inside Dean’s eyes and felt a hollow feeling start to creep over him. Something told him he better stand down or he might not be as lucky as Tommy was.

As they walked out, Dean whispered to the man is a soft voice, “The smartest move you have made today.” Closing the door behind him, no one saw his fingers engage the lock.

The parking lot was empty and nothing was said as they walked to Polly vehicle. Once there, Polly smiled at Dean and thanked him.

“It is I who is thankful, had you not of bought dinner; I might have had to eat another rabbit or worse.”

“Where too now?” Polly asked in an upbeat voice.

“Well I need to be getting alone, I still have many miles to travel and by the looks of things, many more challenges ahead.”
Polly heart sank as well as her excitement, “You sure, it’s late and it is nice talking to someone other then these locals.”

“I’m sure, I like traveling at night and if I stay, someone will surely die. A lift back to where you found me would be much obliged”

Polly felt hurt for some reason, she kept telling herself it was her own fault but still it didn’t set well.

As they got back to the gas station, both riders got out and Dean looked over at the area where he had left his pack, the area didn’t look disturbed so he was happy about that. Polly had walked over to his side and without warning wrapped her arms around him and kissed him.

Caught by surprised, Dean did what can natural and pulled her in close. After a minute had passed he released her and again stated that He had to get going. Polly smiled and nodded as she stepped closer to him.
“Ah, Polly, I really would love to stay, really I would but I think it is best for us both if I left right now”

Nether one of them saw the spirits setting on the roof of the vehicle; Lust rubbed his hands together as greed laughed.

“Now you are not going to leave me here all alone in the dark are you? Why someone might come along and rip my clothes off and take full advantage of me” Polly said in a voice tinted with wickedness.

“Now you need to get in your car and head home” Dean replied backing up.

“Oh no, you are not going to send me home alone” Polly said as she reached up and pulled on her blouse tearing it open.

“Miss please, get in your car and I’ll leave the area.”
Lust jumped and rolled over as his fingers danced around his head.

“I want you now”, Polly shouted as she walked towards Dean and removing more of her clothes.

Dean was unprepared for this; he could protect himself from physical attacks but sexual attacks were new. Lord, help me here; I don’t need this, Dean thought to himself.
Just then another spirit landed on the car, Anger with his hissy and meanness stomped and cussed as he landed.

“So, you think you are to good for me, I buy you dinner, I take you to a place where my friends hang out and when it comes time for a little pay back, you decline. Are you gay?” Polly asked as she kept walking towards Dean.

“No, I just got to be going” Dean replied

“Well it doesn’t matter, what matters is I’m lonely and need someone to hold”

“I’m sorry but not me tonight” Dean said as he looked for anyway out of this mess.
Polly was almost completely naked and Dean knew if someone was to come by, Polly might scream.

“Tell you what, you get your clothes back on and we will go back to your house, once there we can talk behind closed doors.”
Polly eyes perked up, “Really” she asked, “You not lying to me are you”

“Nope, if we get to your house then we will have all the fun you want. Just get dressed right now before someone comes”

Polly quickly turned and walked back, picking up what she had dropped. After a few minutes she was back fully clothed and seating in the driver seat. Dean slid in next to her and placed his arm be hide her head and smiled.

Polly was just about to start her car when without any notice; Dean pressed his two fingers into her neck and after a few seconds, Polly head leaned forward. She was still breathing but unconscious. Dean quickly got out, locked her doors then grabbed his pack from hiding and headed for the woods.

- Alex

Are They Ready For This?

Mosul, Iraq

Absorbed in the story, the fish-monger flipped to the next page.

Jonah Chapter 3

"And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,

Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee."

Abdul stopped reading and his eyes were drawn back the words, “Arise, go to Nineveh…” Nineveh…he thought to himself and then realized with a start that he was right beside the ruins of ancient Nineveh.

“Arise, go to Nineveh!” The words sounded like they came from nearby and were spoken directly to Abdul himself. He looked around startled, but saw no one in the room with him. “And preach unto it the preaching that I bid you.” The voice repeated. Then Abdul knew it was the Lord’s command to him. He bowed his head and began to pray; a heavy burden was on his heart to tell others about the risen Saviour who had saved Jonah and could save all anyone from so great a death.

“….so help me Lord. Give me courage and strength to tell all men about You. In Jesus name, Amen.” Abdul’s work roughened hands gently reached for the precious Bible, then cradling it as a mother would her babe, he slipped it under his mattress. Suddenly the earth shook violently. At the same instant, a thunderous roar split the air. Abdul, who had been trying to rise, was knocked off balance and fell face first onto his cot. He scrambled to his feet and yanked open the heavy street door. A thick smoke consisting of dust and debris hung low over the city, blocking out all sunshine.
Then the screams began. They were screams of pain and anger that burst from thousands of hearts all across the great city. Abdul shuddered and was about to slam his front door shut, when he stopped, remembering God’s command to the disobedient prophet, Jonah. What was it that God had said? Something like “Go.” Somewhere in the city were people who needed to hear about God. How could they hear if he did not go? All this flashed thru Abdul’s mind in an instant. And armed with this knowledge, the harsh cries seemed to change into begging, pleading ones.

And so, forgetting all about the events of the past five minutes, the wayward Iraqi rushed into his shop, grabbed several emergency kits stuffed full of cloth and bandages, and obeyed God’s call. He ran straight towards the center of the city which was the hardest hit.


Mosul, Iraq

After making a right down an old narrow ally and two lefts, Abdul came to the paved streets of the city and stopped short. Buildings lay in smoking ruins, leveled by the explosion. A middle-aged woman lay in the street groaning. She clutched her bloodied knee in both hands trying in a vain attempt to soothe the pain. Abdul took a step towards her and the movement caught her eye. She eyed him narrowly as he came closer. “You lucky pig.” She hissed. “Lucky you not to be caught in that thing…and you walking around as fit as a fiddler with no injuries!!!”

“Ma’am-“ began Abdul

“You beast!” Abdul had reached the woman by this time and knelt on the dirty, sooty ground beside her.

“Look, maybe the reason God spared me is so that I can help others like you.” He said gently.

“God!” spat the woman. “I hate Him and have no use for any God. An’ if what you say is true, then He’s to blame for my lyin’ here hurt. Owwwww!” she cried. Abdul pried her hands off her leg.

“Hold still now…” he cautioned as she nearly hit him with her fist in an attempt to get her hands free. “Ahm just tryin’ to take a look at your injury, that’s all.” Then, taking his fish flaying knife out of his pocket, he deftly slashed the off the woman’s pant leg just above the knee. “Let me tell you a story.” He offered as he worked to tie up the broken vein that was exposed. Since she offered no objection, he began.

“One day, a long, long time ago there lived a man named Jonah….” Abdul went on, telling the old story of the prophet of God who weas sent to warn a nation of coming judgement. Meanwhile, as he talked, he tightly bound up his patient’s broken bone the best he could. When he finished, the woman eyed him narrowly,

“Uh, thanks mister. Not now, not now…maybe some other time I’ll think about what you said.” With that said, she spun around on the ground and then turning her back, she hobbled away.


Mosul, Iraq

Abdul turned sorrowfully and headed several steps down the street. An old man with a full grey beard sat on an overturned brick in the middle of the road. His clothes were full of ashen dust, like one of the walking dead. Sensing Abdul’s gaze, he looked up.

“My old woman…she was killed – dead…the building there fell…and she couldn’t get away in time….we were married for fifty-seven years…but now – she’s gone!” He sobbed.

“Hold on, sir, where are you going now?” asked Abdul as the old man tried to stand on shaky legs.

“Back home I reckon.”

“Do you live alone, sir?”

“No, well…yes I do. There – ain’t no Martha now…”

“I tell you what, would you like to stay with me in my garret back of the fish market?” hurried on Abdul without giving him time to reply. “It’s not much or fancy, but it’ll do.” The old man eagerly agreed, so off the two went, Abdul leading the way. He told the story of Jonah to a captivated listener. Halfway thru the story, the old man interrupted with, “That’s good, son, real good. Tell me more.” But Abdul had no time to say more for they had arrived at Abdul’s humble home. After he dropped off his guest and made him as comfortable as possible, Abdul headed right back into the heart of the city. He spent all night out helping meet other’s physical needs while telling them of Christ who could meet their spiritual needs.


In a hospital in Mosul, Iraq

The lights in the hospital ward grew dim. A small group of nurses stood beside the nurses’ station gossiping in low tones. A young handsome medic softly closed a room door and walked up the corridor to join the nurses. The group grew strangely silent as he walked up. Seeing their silence that had replaced animated chatter, Dr. Anderson asked, “What is it, girls?” No one answered for a long moment.

Suddenly the blonde nurse burst out, “It’s disgraceful, that’s what!”

“What is?” the doctor asked in an annoyed tone. Noticing her friends stares, the blonde hastened to explain herself.

“It’s just that, well – you wouldn’t understand cause, um – it’s a girl thing –“ she babbled, her face turning bright red in embarrassment.

“It’s the food prices, Doc.” cut in another nurse. “When Jennie here went to the store yesterday, she paid 4.50 for just one loaf of bread!”

Another joked, “With as much bread and cheese as she eats a week, soon she’ll spend over twenty dollars on just bread alone.”

“Yes, n’ that’s not all,” put in the blonde. “it rose fifty cents from last week!” The doctor laughed heartily.

“Oh, you girls! Can’t you see that when there’s a war, the price of food is bound to rise a little? It’s called common sense. Use it.” He turned to go but then stopped and called back over his shoulder. “Yeah Jennie, it’s a girl thing alright cause only you would ever worry over pennies.” The girl in question colored hotly and was about to send back a stinging retort when Doc Anderson said, “Aww now, don’t get riled. You’re awful sweet ya know, and you what else? You’re gonna be my assistant today.”

“Oohhh favorite!” groaned a jealous nurse. In the midst of all the joshing, no one noticed a room door that hung partly ajar right beside the nurse station; that is until the door gave a squeak. Jennie spotted the open door first and she also saw an eye peeping out of it. She marched straight for the door with the doctor on her heels. Cautiously pushing open the door, no one was in sight. A bed in the far corner of the room held an apparently fast asleep teenage girl.

“You can’t fool me, I saw you do it!” said the indignant nurse. Instantly, the girl’s eyes flew open and she gave an impish chuckle. “Why are you up, Aini?”

“I’m bored and tired of waiting for another night to pass. When’ll you let me go anyway?” complained Aini.

“Oh, well whenever you’ve recovered enough, of course.” the doctor cautiously answered.

“Can’t I go now?” she whined. Jennie was getting annoyed.

“Aren’t we taking good enough care of you?”

“Oh, yeah, but I want to run free. You don’t even let me out of my own room.”

“Good grief, Aini!” exclaimed the properly horrified doctor. “You’re ribs have to heal first. And that takes time – a long time. Speaking of ribs, I want to check on the tape job and how they’re healing before I go.” Five minutes later the doctor said, “It looks a lot better, but you must be very careful, Aini. Any sudden movement or impact could jar the ribs out of place. I will let you walk around some, but you must promise me to listen to the nurses and be careful.”

"Yeah, sure,” was the only response Doc Anderson got.

“You promised me now,”

“Huh, yeah.” With a sigh, the doc and Jennie left the room. When it was safe, Aini stuck out a long red tongue in the direction of the closed door. “You just watch: I won’t listen.” She muttered rebelliously.


Black Mesa

Tansy stifled a laughed as she entered the workout room.
“I’m too fast for ya man. You can’t touch me man.” Matt taunted Mikhail as he danced around him. He shuffled his feet and threw jabs into the air. “Check the footwork.” Matt crowed.
Trevor stood off the side, his arms folded across his chest as he waited for the inevitable mistake the exuberant Matt would make.
Mikhail kept his eyes on Matt as the younger man continued his antics.
Matt lunged toward Mikhail then jumped back just a quickly but lost his balance and fell backward landing on his backside with a jolt.
Mikhail shook his head as he stepped forward and feigned a killing blow to his throat. “All that fancy dancing around and your backside is bruised. But take heart my young friend, the pain in your behind lasted only moments before I killed you.”
Matt grumbled under his breath as he got to his feet. “Your turn Trevor.” He waved a hand toward Mikhail.
“Actually if you boys don’t mind, I’d like to talk to Trevor for a few minutes.” Tansy interrupted.
“Hi Tansy.” Matt said loudly. “I didn’t notice you walk in.” He looked uncomfortable. “So how long have you been standing there?”
“Long enough.” Mikhail intoned blandly. “If you had been paying attention like I told you, you would have noticed her come in. You must always be aware of who and what is around you while fighting.”
“I know, I know. I was just goofing around.” Matt looked Mikhail in the eye. “When it really counts, I’ll be ready.”
“You had better be. You may be the only thing standing between a member of this family and the GF.” Trevor said seriously.
Matt nodded. “Come on Mikhail, lets go eat some popcorn and prop our feet up on the coffee table. That’s sure to drive my mom nuts.”
Mikhail hid a grin as he followed Matt from the room. “I do not understand why you insist on driving your mother nuts. She is a wonderful woman.”
Tansy and Trevor missed Matt’s reply as both men walked out of ear shot.
“You wanted to talk to me?” Trevor asked.
“Yes. I wanted to make sure you are doing alright.”
“I’m okay.” Trevor shrugged. “I can’t change that Zoe’s gone, and in a way I happy for her. She’s home now.”
Tansy nodded as she crossed the room to sit on one of the weight benches. “I know you miss her, we all do. I only met Zoe a few times, but she seemed like a remarkable young woman. I thought there was sparks between you two and I just assumed you two would end up together quite awhile ago. I could tell you wanted more, but Zoe seemed a bit reserved even though it was obvious she felt the same.”
Trevor leaned a hip against the weight rack. “It was a little complicated. Actually it was a lot complicated.” He heaved a sigh. “When I realized that I was in love with Zoe I told her and she said she loved me too. I wish that had been all there was to it, but….”
Tansy gave him an encouraging nod. “Go on.”
“You know Zoe had an identical twin right?”
Tansy nodded. “Jade.”
“Yeah, Jade.” Trevor shifted a bit as he looked down at the floor. “Well, I decided that I needed to tell Zoe the I had slept with Jade. Needless to say that put a damper on things.” Trevor looked up at Tansy. “I wanted Zoe to know, she deserved to know. Back in high school it was a…I don’t know how to put it…I guess a challenge to bed the Phillips twins. I was a couple of years ahead of them in school, and I’d heard of them and the guys talking about having both of them. I thought it was sick. But one night at a party Jade and I hooked up. I was a junior and she was a freshman. After that if we saw each other at a party and we weren’t with anyone we’d hook up.”
Trevor looked back a the floor. “One night right before my senior year I was at a party drunk and saw Jade. I walked up to her and asked if she was there alone and she said yes. So I grabbed her hand and led her out to my car. I leaned down and kissed her and immediately realized it wasn’t Jade. It was Zoe. I didn’t know what to do. For a fleeting second I thought to myself, ‘I could be the guy who had both twins.’” He shook his head with disgust. “It makes me sick that I even thought it. Thankfully one of my buddies jumped on my back about then and we started wrestling around. Zoe took off and that was the end of it.”
“That certainly explains Zoe’s reservations.” Tansy said.
“Yeah.” Trevor said ruefully. “I avoided both Jade and Zoe my entire senior year. A few years later I ran into Zoe at a concert. We hung out and pushed our way to the front of the crowd. I spent the night trying to keep her from getting smashed against the barricades. After the concert we went to get a pizza and she told me how Jade had humiliated her by confessing to their whole church the life they had both led in high school. She was furious with her sister. I didn’t realize how furious until I saw them arguing the next day at the mall. That was the last time I saw Zoe and Jade together. The next time I saw Zoe was right of the rapture when she wrecked her car and wound up in the hospital where I was working.”
“So Zoe couldn’t get past you having slept with her sister?” Tansy asked.
“It wasn’t so much that Jade and I had a sexual relationship, it was the fact that Jade never told Zoe. Jade bragged to Zoe about every single guy she was with, but she never mentioned me.” Trevor stretched his shoulders. “Zoe thinks, er thought it was because Jade was in love with me.”
Tansy’s eyebrows shot up.
“Zoe said their sophomore year Jade mooned over some guy. She told her to get over it, but Jade insisted this guy was the guy she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.” Trevor grimaced. “Zoe was positive that guy was me. That’s what she was having a hard time with. It really seems silly now….I kind of understood at the time, but now…” He shook his head. “Neither one of us will never know. I think that’s what bothers me the most, we were both wasting time on the past that we forgot our future was a limited amount of time.”
Tansy stood and hugged Trevor. “You loved each other. You told each other. That’s more than some have ever gotten.”
Trevor hugged Tansy back. “I know, and I’m grateful for the time I had with her. I just don’t want anyone else to miss out on what Zoe and I missed.” Trevor let go and stepped back. “I need to talk to Nathan and Renee. Those two love each other and are wasting time. I know they’ve been praying about marriage and feel like the Lord is leading them to it, but they keep trying to second guess it. They need to trust the Lord, not second guess Him like Zoe and I did. But we let our doubts get in the way. I don’t want Renee and Nathan to make the same mistake.”
“You want me to talk to them with you?”
“No. You and Maddie start planning a wedding.” Trevor grinned.

- Zags

Babylon, Iraq

Earl looked up from his computer screen to see his supervisor approaching. “Yes ma’am.”
“Mr. Reed is wanting an update.”
“I still haven’t found them.” Earl said trying not to grit his teeth.
Lacey leaned a hip against his desk and raised an eyebrow. “So what’s the problem?”
Earl gave Lacey a level look. “Like I told you, I’d lived in the area for about ten years, but didn’t know everybody’s history. I know Shade grew up in the Boise City area and I think I remember somebody telling me Maddie grew up in Keyes…”
“Yeah, yeah.” Lacey interrupted. “Lots of farms and ranches to hole up in between the two…blah, blah, blah.” She rolled her eyes. “Mr. Reed is getting impatient. He wants them found. He’s sure these people will know where Frank Keller is hiding.”
“It would really help of we could find somebody from the area to help. Somebody who was a lifelong resident.” Earl said sarcastically.
The sarcasm went right over Lacey’s head. “The area was sparsely populated before the disappearances a couple of years ago. It was even more so afterwards. That’s why the Pontentate decided it was a perfect location for a Center. As far as finding someone from the area, we’d have better luck finding a needle in a haystack right now. There is a war going on in case you’ve forgotten.”
Earl hadn’t forgotten. Everyday on his computer screen the ravages of the war filled his vision as he checked to make sure no illegal planting or harvesting was going on. “So what’s Reed’s deal with wanting to find this Keller so bad?”
Lacey looked at Earl with a surprised expression. “He’s a traitor to the Pontentate and the Global Family you nit wit! He must be found and made an example of!”
“I know all that, but doesn’t it seem like it’s a bit more personal than that?”
Lacey stood to her full height and stared down her nose at Earl. “If Mr. Reed has personal reasons it’s not your business. Your business Myers, is to find Frank Keller or you may find yourself the one being made an example of.”

- Zags

Black Mesa
Renee looked up from the computer screen to see Becca standing next to her. “Hey.”
“Hey.” Becca said back. “Looks like you broke the security.”
Nathan grinned as he leaned over and rubbed Renee’s back. “Yep. About an hour ago. I knew she could do it.”
Renee gave Nathan a soft smile.
“I wanted to talk to you guys about something.” Becca hedged. She looked up to see Trevor making his way toward them.
“Hey Becca.” Trevor said as he stopped next to Nathan’s chair. “Could you give me few minutes alone with Nathan and Renee? I want to talk to them about something.”
Becca gave Trevor a searching look and then shook her head. “I wanted to talk to them. It’ll only take a few minutes.”
Trevor gave Becca a disgruntled look. “I really need to talk to them. Can’t what you need to say wait a minute?”
Becca opened her mouth to respond when Renee interrupted. “I have an idea, why don’t the two of you go across the room and argue so I can get some work done. When you figure out who gets to talk to us first then come back.”
Both Trevor and Becca frowned at Renee, but turned to walk across the room.
“Look, I really need to talk to them right now.” Becca started.
“Well so do I. It’s important. Since Renee broke the security codes we’ll be heading out again soon.”
“I know.” Becca interrupted. “Whatever you need to talk to them about can…”
“No it can’t.” Trevor interrupted.
The two glared at one another. “Stop interrupting me.” They said in unison.
They frowned at each other harder. “Stop that.” They said at the same time.
Trevor shook his head. “Look…” He said right along with Becca.
Becca’s lips began to twitch. “Okay..” She said at the same time Trevor said it.
The two of them burst into laughter. After a few moments their laughter subsided and Trevor indicated with his hand that Becca go first.
“What do you want to talk to them about?” Becca asked.
“Well since we seem to be of one mind at the moment, I’m thinking the same thing you want to talk to them about.” Trevor grinned.
“Shall we just talk to them together just to save them the hassle of listening to the same speech twice?”
Trevor nodded. He extended his elbow and Becca wrapped her arm around his. “So how are we gonna say it?” Trevor asked as they started across the room.
“I say we just say it.” Becca said impishly. “We wouldn’t them to have any doubts no would we?”
Making a face of mock horror Trevor agreed. “No, we wouldn’t want to cause and confusion either.”
“Then we’re agreed.” Becca said as they stopped behind both Renee and Nathan.
“Agreed about what?” Nathan asked turning in his seat.
Renee craned her neck around to look at the two of them. “What are you smiling about?”
Becca looked up at Trevor and at his nod they said in unison, “You two should get married already.”

- Zags

Andrew watched Mark trying to pace in a small area of the safe room and noticed he was growing very edgy. Christina had a small bout with claustrophobia and was trying to make the best of the accommodations. He slowly made his way across the room and grabbed Mark by the arm pulling him to the side.
“We are really cramped and squeezed into this small space so we need to find somewhere else to hide. I am thankful to Yoshi and Ester for allowing us to stay here, but they don’t really have the room for us. I think it’s time you and I scout the area for another spot to call our home. Are you with me?”
Mark smiled for the first time in two days and gave him a thumbs up to the idea. “I agree that we are imposing on their kindness and need our own space. The quicker we find something, the better we will all be.”
The two men approached Yoshi and the Rabbi with Andrew taking the lead, “While we appreciate you allowing us to share your space, we feel we are only adding to the already cramped conditions and need to find our own place to stay. I still have a few contacts in Jerusalem and plan to try to find one of my friends to see if he can give us a place to stay. I am not sure he is still stationed here with all the changes, but we are going to try and find out. Maybe with our GF uniforms we can blend in and no one will ask questions.”
The Rabbi stretched out his hand to Andrew saying, “My son, you are welcome here as long as you need the safety of our room for I know we won’t be in this place much longer. We certainly understand if you wish to find other accommodations. We need to pray for your safety and that the Lord will lead you to your friend.”
“Father, we ask that you guide Andrew and Mark in their quest to find their friend. Please keep them safe. We know You have plans for these two brave believers and will use them only to glorify You. Give them the wisdom to know whom they can trust and who will do them harm. We give You all the praise and ask for Your continued blessings. In Jesus’ Holy name we pray. Amen.”
Andrew grabbed his backpack and Mark placed his gun into its hiding place as the two men ascended into the unknown. Andrew gingerly turned the knob on the door leading to the street and peered outside. Mark followed closely behind watching every movement of the few people walking about on the street. They could see soldiers down the street questioning a young woman and they decided to turn the opposite way hoping to avoid them. One soldier pushed the woman to the ground and raised his gun aiming it toward the woman’s face. She cried out, “Please don’t kill me. I only wanted to visit the wall for my morning prayers.” The soldier again pushed the woman with his gun and laughed, “So you think you are going to the wall as usual. Things are different now. You can’t just go wherever and whenever you wish. The curfew is still active and you are out past curfew. The punishment for going against the law is death.” She again held her hands up to the soldier pleading, “Please, I will just return home. Please let me go home to my family.” The lead soldier decided to take care of the situation, “You have violated the law and it is out of our hands. Soldier, prepare to carry out the sentence.”
Mark rushed the soldiers yelling, “Are you out of your minds? This woman has done nothing to warrant death. You will stand down per my orders.”
The soldier holding the weapon turned sharply facing Mark, “And by what authority do you speak?”
Mark stood over the man, “I am an officer in the GF Army and you, sir, are just an enlisted soldier of no rank. I have authority over all of you per my rank. You will stand down or be punished to the full extent of the rules of conduct befitting a lower ranking member of the GF Army.” Mark was giving his best performance and praying they would buy his act.
Andrew reluctantly decided it was time to join his comrade and help him before he got himself killed. His long strides and air of superiority made the soldiers stand at attention as they saw Andrew approaching. “What is going on here, men?”
The soldier with the gun spoke first, “We stopped this young woman for being out before curfew has been lifted. She has broken the law, sir.”
“It is our duty while on patrol to flush out those going against the Potentate’s law regarding visiting the Wailing Wall before 0900 hours and she is on the street a full two hours before the time that is allowed. Sir, she has clearly defied the law and the punishment is death without question,” the lead soldier explained.
Andrew raised his voice, “While it is true she has violated the law, you are mistaken about the punishment. The punishment is not death unless there is resistance and she clearly is not resisting you. She is only to be detained and asked to return to her home until the appropriate time the curfew is lifted. You will need to be given more instruction regarding the handling of the people of the land. Return to your patrol and only approach those that are truly breaking the law.”
A younger soldier watching the exchange between Andrew and the patrol leader decided he would take control of the situation and aimed his gun at Andrew and prepared to fire. A shot rang out and the young man fell to the ground writhing in pain and grasping his leg. In an instant all eyes were on the person who had fired the shot and before them stood four Mossad operatives. She placed her gun back into the holster and approached Andrew, “Hello my friend, what pray have you gotten yourself into now?” He threw back his head and laughed, “What a pleasure it is to see you, my dear!”
Mark looked at the man and woman as they embraced and gave each other a hearty pat on the back. The woman was extraordinarily beautiful with long flowing black hair with eyes to match. Who was she and how was she connected to Andrew? He turned to see the soldiers pulling up their injured fellow soldier and moving away from the scene. The woman shouted, “Where do you monsters think you are headed? I didn’t say you could leave.”
The soldiers stopped and turned to face the woman. “We will be on our way now and finish our patrol before the end of our shift,” said the leader.
She moved liked a cougar ready to pounce on its prey and said to them, “You are free to leave for now, but you will cease this nonsense of trying to kill people for walking on the streets. If I find you trying to harm another of my people in this manner, I will not be responsible for what happens. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes.” The lead soldier acknowledged the woman with the greatest respect and the men turned and walked away.
Andrew knew Mark had lots of questions and he was ready to introduce him to one of the most remarkable women he had ever known with the exception of Claire. He grasped her arm and drew her to him and whispered in her ear. They both turned toward Mark as Andrew began to speak, “Mark, I want you to meet my best friend, Ashira. She is one of the highest ranking operatives of Mossad and also the most decorated among her peers. I would gladly fight by her side any day and know she would out match almost any of our most elite and highly trained officers.”
Ashira smiled and turned to the four men who accompanied her. These are my fellow warriors, Daniel, Ziv, and Efraim. They are the most trusted of men and you can trust them with your lives, I assure you. Now, you two come with me I have something I wish to show you. That is if you aren’t afraid.”
Mark laughed, “I am in awe, but certainly not afraid.”
“Well, my friend, you should be afraid……very afraid,” Ashira said.

- P4H

Black Mesa
Mikhail stopped his pacing and sat at the table. “There’s something you all should know about the man you have invited into your family.”
All talk about the wedding ceased.
Shade closed his Bible and gave a nod. “Everyone, come to the table.”
Within moments everyone was seated around the table their attention focused on Mikhail.
“As you all know, I am a killer.” Mikhail began. “I want you know under no uncertain terms that that is what I am.”
He looked around the table and saw that no one had flinched at his words. With a inward sigh Mikhail began. “Before I was born, my mother met a young man. It was love at first sight according to my mother. She was eighteen and the man was twent four. For months they spent every moment they could with one another. This man was in Russia doing research. He was a student.” With a shake of his head. “At least that is what he told my mother. It wasn’t until after my mother discovered she was pregnant with me that she discovered who and what my father was. When she discovered he had lied to her she cut all ties with him and told her family the whole sordid truth. Not surprisingly her family disowned her and put her out of their home. With nowhere to go she moved to St. Petersburg and gave birth to me.”
Mikhail paused, crossed his arms and began tapping his bottom lip with his finger. After a few minutes he let out a breath and began speaking again.
“As an unwed mother she was ostracized and tried to find honorable work. She worked many hours cooking and baking at our home along with working in restaurants washing dishes to make a living for us. We had a small apartment in a filthy crime infested neighborhood, but it was all we could afford. My mother ran a gauntlet every time she left the apartment. She was a very beautiful woman and men constantly made lewd comments to her. Many offered to make her their mistress while others wanted her to work in brothels. My mother always refused. Many of the men made threats against me saying they would call the authorities and have me taken away if she did not give them what they demanded.”
He paused again and leaned his head back against the chair. “This is when my mother went to the police. It was the biggest mistake she ever made. Many of the police in our neighborhood were criminals themselves, taking bribes, running drugs, etcetera. The policeman she spoke to was one of these men, and he decided to “offer” his protection for a price. He wanted her as his mistress. My mother refused his offer.”
Mikhail clenched his fists. “It was a few days later that some neighbors chickens were mutilated. This same policeman came to our apartment and told my mother that several of our neighbors had told him the thought they had seen me in the vicinity. I hadn’t been, and when my mother denied it. He told her since he had no definitive proof, there was nothing he could do, but he was watching me. The rumors spread and the mutilations continued and soon I was a devil child who mutilated my neighbors animals.”
“I’m willing to bet it was that cop who was mutilating the animals.” Conrad voiced aloud. Several nods went around the table.
“That was my mothers suspicion as well, but we had no proof.” Mikhail nodded. “This went on for several months then one night my mother burst into the apartment in tears. The policeman had caught her on her way home from work and told her if she did not become his lover he would cut me into pieces. We left that night. We took nothing with us just the clothes on our back and what money my mother had. We took a train to Moscow and found an apartment in another crime riddled neighborhood and my mother found work in a bakery. Every morning and night I would walk my mother to and from work carrying a small knife in my pocket. We lived in relative peace for several years until one day I came home from school to find a man in our apartment trying to force himself on my mother. I was thirteen and had grown strong.”
Again Mikhail’s fist’s clenched tight. “We fought and I threw him out of the apartment and down the steps. I followed him out the door as we continued to fight. He struck me so hard I hit the side of the building and went down. He then kicked me and started to walk back into the building. I grabbed my knife out of my pocket and stabbed him in the back. He turned to me and reached out to grab me when I stabbed him again. I kept stabbing him until he dropped to the ground. I then ran upstairs to our apartment to check on my mother. We sat together waiting for the police.”
Mikhail gritted his teeth. “We were both stunned speechless when the policeman from St. Petersburg walked into the apartment. He had this smug smile on his face. I stood and raised my knife. He merely smiled again. ’I see my brother could not resist your beauty either.’ He said. Both my mother and I were stunned. I had just killed a policeman’s brother.”
“Oh boy…” Mo muttered.
Mikhail shuddered. “My mother understood the implications immediately. The policeman told my mother that she would not tell the police that his brother had tried to rape her or he would see to it that I was cut into pieces before the night was through. If she agreed to become his mistress he would see to it that I would be protected during my time in prison and he would personally see to it that I would be released on my eighteenth birthday. My mother agreed.”
“Dirty rotten…..” Trevor muttered.
“I was not so naïve. I knew the moment my mother had agreed to become his mistress, that some day I would be murdered. This was not a man of honor and his word meant nothing. I was arrested and my mother did as she was told she said their was no attempted rape. She also called my father and told him about the situation. She knew my father was the only person who could keep me alive.”
“Your father?” Shade asked.
“Ricardo Morrata.”

- Zags

Mosul, Iraq

Outside Aini's window, the sky turned from a dull grey to a dusky pink. Then, the first rays of the sun gradually crept over the horizon lacing the pink with delicate golden threads. Aini, wrapped up in her own thoughts, failed to notice the beauty outside. Her side began to hurt again with every breath she took. She sat curled up in bed thinking about what she overheard the nurses saying. “It can’t be! There’s no war going on.” Aini thought furiously. “They just hate the Potentate and all that he’s done for the world. He’s such a great man…He’d never let a war happen.” In spite of her self assurances, the nagging thoughts refused to stop bothering her. “How could something huge like a war be faked? It could be the rumor mill starting up again, but…it makes no sense…That’s it! Rumors started by some nutcase with too much time on his hands.” She snickered and having reached that conclusion, she sank back onto her pillow with a sigh.

Outside her window, the sun had risen fully now and looked like a golden ball of warmth. Aini dozed. The breakfast cart rattled down the corridor just beyond her room. Then without warning, the door burst open. In strode a brusque business like guy. He bore a white paper plate to Aini and set it on the end of the bed. The teen hungrily snatched up the plate and called a thank you at the breakfast guy. But the abrupt bang of the room door was her only answer.
On the plate sat a scrambled egg and two thinly sliced pieces of toast with a film of butter spread over each one. As hungry as Aini was, she stared at the food. Hadn’t the nurses said something about food prices? Yes, they were rising. That explained why the food portions were smaller. She wolfed down breakfast but remained troubled. “Has the Potentate no control at all?” She thought he could fix things – anything! “He promised to bring hope and change to the whole world…now there’s food shortages and supposed war…and either it’s not working or…he’s – a – liar?!” Aini determinedly pushed such thoughts out of her head. Then she tossed the paper plate onto the floor, rolled over, and went back to sleep.

Sometime later in the morning Aini was jolted awake by a tremendous roar. The entire room shook violently, then all was calm again. She could feel shock spreading rapidly across her abdomen and could only lie still, hardly daring to breath. She felt so helpless and scared! The feeling made her want to scream. If only someone would come or her mother still lived! What was happening? Surely this couldn’t be an earthquake. She cast a worried glance out the window.

The once bright, sun-filled sky was now dark with swirling clouds of dust and debris. In the background, Aini could hear muffled screams and moans. Many people everywhere were injured for very frightened. Some sobbed for lost loves ones they would never see again. The dead were the fortunate ones. They escaped six more years of the most horrible sufferings the world has yet to see.

But Aini was not aware of what was going on all around her. She leaped out of bed and ran to her room door.


Are They Ready For This?

Black Mesa

Tansy and Becca looked up to see Nathan, Skunk, Travis and Conrad walk into the main room. Tansy rushed over and gave all the men a hug. “I’m so glad you’re back. I’ve been worried sick.”
Mo gave Tansy a squeeze. “You knew we would be back late. We had to drive toward Colorado in case anyone tried to follow us. We turned around as soon as it was dark enough. Everyone else stuck to the plan I'm sure.”
“Has anyone else made it back yet?” Skunk asked casually.
“Not yet. You guys are the first group back.” Becca said quickly. “Were you successful? Did you get everybody out?”
“Yes. They were successful.” Frank said from the entryway.
With a glad cry Tansy ran to him and threw herself into his arms. “I love you! I love you!”
Frank held onto Tansy and closed his eyes in relief. “I was so glad to see these guys. But I am so much more grateful to see you.”
Matt and Mikhail walked into the room and made their way around the reunited couple. Becca gave Matt a hug. “Welcome home.”
“Thanks.” Matt said as he hugged her back.
“Mikhail!” Tansy said as she pulled out of Franks arms. “Thank you for bringing my Frank back to me.” She wrapped her arms around him.
Mikhail gave her a brief squeeze and then stepped back. Clearing his throat he looked around. “Is the rest of your family back yet?”
“Not yet. I expect the rest of our family will be back soon.” Becca said firmly. She glanced at her watch. “It’s just a few minutes past ten. Is anyone hungry?”
They had just sat down to eat when they heard Grumpy barking. Dinner was forgotten as the rest of the family walked in.
Kristen was glued to Maddie’s side and as she rushed across the room to hug Matt. Matt laughed as he enfolded both women in his arms. Shade walked over and wrapped his arms around the three of them while Grumpy sniffed Mikhail.
Mikhail shifted nervously as the dog circled around behind him. Deciding he was alright Grumpy nudged his head under Mikhail’s hand. Mikhail scratched behind the dogs ears as everyone else welcomed the latest arrivals home.
Suddenly the room grew quiet and Mikhail looked up to see everyone staring at him.
Kristen walked forward and grabbed him by the hand and dragged him across the room.
“Shade, Maddie. This is Mikhail. He planned the break out and without him we would never have succeeded.”
Shade stuck out his hand and Mikhail took it. Giving it a firm shake he started to let go when Shade jerked him forward into a bear hug. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” Mikhail grunted.
“You’re squishing him.” Kristen chastened Shade.
Shade immediately let go. Maddie stepped in and caught Mikhail in a hug that rivaled the one Shade had just given him.
“Thank you Mikhail. Without you the kids would surely have gotten themselves caught or worse. We owe you so much.”
Mikhail awkwardly patted Maddie’s back as he struggled to take a breath. “It was my pleasure.” He managed.
Maddie let go. Taking his face in her hands she kissed him on the cheek. “You are an extraordinary young man.”
Mikhail felt himself starting to blush. “As I said, it was a pleasure.”
Matt reached out his hand and Mikhail cautiously slipped his hand into Matt’s. “I’m too cool to dole out hugs, so you’re safe.” Matt grinned impishly.
Mikhail nodded.
“Matt!” Kristen rolled her eyes. “I’m not too cool.” She threw her arms around Mikhail’s waist and squeezed him. “Thank you for getting my family back.” She whispered into his chest.
Mikhail felt his heart shift. He hugged Kristen gently. “You are most welcome.”
Trevor clapped Mikhail on the shoulder as he let Kristen go. “Thanks man.”
Mikhail nodded.
“So what’s for dinner?” Leon asked as he eyeballed the food set out on the table.
“Always thinking with your stomach.” Mo said as he caught Leon in a headlock. “We’d better get you fed before you start eating the furniture.”
As Mo led him still in a headlock past Mikhail Leon raised his hand. “Thanks for everything.”
As Mikhail sat at the table he looked around. This was what a real family was like he thought. It wasn’t about being blood related. It was about how people treated each other. It was about how they stood up for each other, took care of each other, and loved each other. Travis caught his gaze, “Welcome to the family.” He mouthed.
Mikhail gave an old world nod of thanks.

- Zags

Babylon, Iraq

“What do you mean they’ve escaped.” Brett asked ominously.
“All of the detainees, sir. Someone broke them all out. They were obviously professionals.” the General voice quavered as he delivered the news.
“All the detainees?” Brett asked his voice harsh.
“Yes sir. All...all of them.”
Silence stretched across the phone line as Brett grew even more furious. His fist clenched along with his teeth. “I am very disappointed in you General.”
“I’m sorry sir. As I said they were professionals.” the General tried to explain.
“And what are you General? Are you not a professional?”
“Yyyes sir.”
“How did these ‘professionals’ know where the high priority prisoners were being held General? Can you answer that question?” Brett grit out.
“Nnno sir. I can’t.” The General stuttered.
“I can. Someone on the inside was helping them. More than likely this Yates fellow. Arrest and execute him for treason against the Global Family.” Brett ordered.
“Yates is already dead. Shot by one of the people who...” the General was cut off by Brett’s roar of rage.
“Enough with your excuses!! You are obviously too incompetent to fulfill the demands of your job!!” Brett raged. “Someone will be there to relieve you of your command before day’s end!!” Brett slammed down the phone.
Beyond furious Brett slammed his fist into the wall next to his desk. Turning swiftly he picked up the phone again. Dialing Oklahoma City he ordered the Generals replacement on a jet immediately. “And Director Clay, your first duty is to put a bullet in that idiot Generals head. I want to see it too. Video conference me when you execute that moron!”

- Zags

Black Mesa

Kristen bound into the main room and made a beeline for Maddie and Shade. “Good morning everyone!” She hugged Maddie and turned to Shade. Jumping up she wrapped her arms around his neck.
Shade caught her and with a laugh gave her a squeeze. “Good morning Kristen. You’re in a good mood this morning.” He set her on feet. Looking at the joy shining on her face he quickly gave her another hug.
“I am. The Lord is so good to us. We have so many things to be grateful for.” Kristen nodded. She walked over to Matt and gave him a big hug. “I’m so glad you’re home.”
Matt held her close as he felt tears threaten. “Me too. I missed you.”
Kristen snuggled in for a moment longer and stepped back. Turning toward the table she walked over to Frank. She leaned down and plopped a kiss on his cheek. “Welcome Frank. I’m so glad you and Tansy are here.”
Frank swallowed hard and nodded. “Thank you Kristen.”
Kristen turned to Tansy and gave her a kiss and a hug. “I’m looking forward to spending time with you Tansy. We’re going to have so much fun.”
Tansy smiled at Kristen’s enthusiasm. “I’m certain we will.”
“Good morning Leon.” Kristen said as she teasingly reached for a piece of bacon on his plate.
Leon let out a squeak and leaned protectively over his plate. “Get your own food Kristen.”
Kristen swatted Leon’s hand and snagged a piece of bacon. Quirking an eyebrow at Leon she slowly lifted it as if she was going to take a bite. At the last second she flipped it toward Grumpy. The rottweiler deftly caught the meat and settled down to eat his treat.
Lips twitching Leon let out a dramatic groan. “My bacon! You fed the dog my bacon!”
With a laugh Kristen ruffled Leon’s hair and made her way over to Nathan, Renee and Mihkail.
All three of them had been hunched over one of the computers and had turned to witness Kristen’s antics.
Renee watched Kristen as she feinted a punch to Nathan’s belly. “Made you flinch!” She said triumphantly when Nathan sucked in a breath. Wrapping an arm around his waist she gave him a squeeze.
“No you didn’t.” Nathan denied, as he grinned down at the teenager. He wrapped his arm around her and with one of his legs tried to trip her.
Kristen quickly moved to counter the move and both of them found themselves on the floor in a tangle of arms and legs.
“How’d you so that?” Nathan gasped.
“I have no idea.” Kristen grunted as she sat up.
Renee reached down a hand to help Kristen up. “Neat trick. You’ll have to show me how to do it.”
“I would if I knew what I did.” Kristen laughed.
“Actually it would be best if your opponent were the one on the ground while you remain on your feet.” Mikhail said solemnly.
Kristen made a face at Mikhail. “Nathan, and Matt have been teaching me some things. Maybe you could teach me how to fight a little dirtier.”
Mikhail inwardly cringed at the thought. He glanced around the room and saw the concern on everyone’s faces.
“All of us need to learn new ways of fighting.” Trevor said. “I could hold my own in a fist fight, but if it came down to knives I’d be toast.”
Conrad and Travis nodded. “We all need to know how to come out of a fight alive.”
Skunk and Mo both stood quietly as they watched Mikhail.
No emotion showed on the mans face. He had a blank look on his face, but the finger rubbing across his bottom lip betrayed his concentration on the matter.
“It’s true. Skunk and I could teach everyone a few tricks, but Mikhail, you would be the best teacher.”
Kristen stepped in front of Mikhail. “Please teach us.”
Mikhail looked down at Kristen. The thought of teaching the young girl how to use a knife to incapacitate or kill an enemy horrified him. He glanced at Renee. He imagined teaching her how to throw a knife with intent to kill. The thought sickened him.
“I for one would feel safer in the perilous times knowing I had the skills to successfully defend myself from someone who was trying to capture or kill me.” Tansy said.
“So you want me, the killer to teach you how to kill.” Mikhail said bitterly.

- Zags

Babylon, Iraq

Earl looked up from his computer screen to see his supervisor Lacy and a GF Colonel approaching him. “Yes, ma’am?”
“The Colonel would like to speak to you for a moment.”
“What can I do for you Colonel?” Earl asked.
Sitting down in the chair Lacy shoved toward him the Colonel got right to the point.
“You have heard about the attack on the facility in the Boise City area?”
Earl gave a nod.
“We understand you are from that area, is that correct?”
“Yes sir.”
“We have been unable to identify any of the people who attacked the Center. They uploaded a virus to the computer system that wiped all video footage clean. We do however have descriptions and sketches of several of the detainees who escaped as well as a couple of the assailants.”
The Colonel opened his briefcase and handed a file to Earl. “Do any of these people look familiar to you?”
Earl perused several of the sketches before he stopped to stare at one of them. Raw anger burned in his gut. “This is Shade Cooper. He lives on a ranch around 20 miles from Keyes.” Earl looked at the next few sketches. “This is his wife Maddie, and this is his son Matt.”
“Those are the names they gave the General in charge of the Center. However after the breakout we went to the ranch and there was no indication that anyone had been there in quite some time.” The Colonel leaned forward. “It’s obvious they are holed up somewhere in the area. We were wondering if you would know where?”

- Zags

Black Mesa

“You’re not the only killer in the room.” Mo said softly.
Mikhail’s gaze went to him. He opened his mouth to speak but Mo held up his hand.
“Do you honestly thing I became the leader of one of Oklahoma City’s toughest street gangs through diplomacy? I killed to get it. I killed a lot. If somebody tried to take part of my territory, I killed to keep it. If someone tried to move in on my drugs, I killed them.”
Mo stared at Mikhail. “I lived my life with a gun in my hand from the time I was eleven years old. I’ve been shot seven times, knifed twice, and had more attempts on my life that I care to remember. And Skunk, he’s done his fair share of killing as well. He was my first lieutenant, ruthless as they come. Don’t let his joking around fool you. I’ve seen him take a gun out in the middle of a fast food restaurant and shoot somebody down just for saying something against the gang.”
Skunk grimaced. “You don’t have to go into detail.” He muttered.
Mo took a step toward Mikhail. “But you have something to offer that I don’t. You know strategy. It doesn’t take much to drive past a rival gang’s crib and shoot the place up with automatics. And happening upon a rival in a club and shooting them on the dance floor doesn’t take any strategy. This ain’t no street war we’re in. We’re not protecting territory, or drug shipments. We’re trying to stay alive.”
Mo took another step forward. “You knew what to look for at the Center. You knew how to make homemade explosives that would blow with precision. You know how to make pipe bombs that will send people running every which direction. You knew our best shot was creating chaos, I would have just stormed the doors guns blazing. I went with my instincts and shot a man to take him down. That alerted another guard to our presence so I had to kill him. If I had thrown a knife, or taken him down some other way I wouldn’t have had to kill that other guard. But my instinct was to shoot. Guns are loud and they announce your presence. We need you to teach us not only how to kill silently if necessary, but to take somebody out of commission quietly.”
He took another step forward. “You don’t need to teach us because you were a killer, it’s because you’re our best shot of staying alive in a world where our odds of surviving are slim to none.”
Kristen reached out and touched the scars on Mihkail’s wrist. “You are a survivor, same as me. You know what it’s like to be held prisoner.” She raised her eyes to his. “Teach me how to fight. Teach me how to fight for my life and escape if I get caught. Teach all of us.”
Mikhail looked into Kristen’s too old eyes. The knowledge in them made his heart ache. He looked up and scanned the room. He saw no condemnation for what he had been. He saw acceptance.
He looked directly at Shade. He saw him nod. .”We are in a war. We all need every bit of knowledge we can have to increase our odds of surviving.”
“Very well then.” Mikhail relented.

- Zags

The plane touched down at the small airport just outside Jerusalem. Andrew had sent Yoshi a message that they had been cleared for landing and the time he should arrive to pick them up. Mark parked the plane in the hanger Steve had instructed him to use and the small group prepared to disembark. Sam patted Mark on the back, "Good job getting us through all the fuel stops and dodging the many GF planes we encountered. God was clearly watching over us."
Mark smiled, "The cloaking device MD's man installed on the plane was the biggest help. It was a sad day MD, his wife, and all his crew were killed in the bombing. We could use them right now."
Sam place his arm protectively around Christina's waist as they made their way to the tarmac. He looked around with a sense of danger that might be lurking around every corner, but all seemed quiet. Andrew gave him a slight nudge, "Look over there, Yoshi's van is waiting for us."
The group quickly made their way to the waiting van as Yoshi emerged greeting each one with a hearty handshake. Andrew introduced him to Sam, Christina, Alexis, and Johnathan. Alexis gave him a hug, "Thank you so much for taking us in. We appreciate you and your family allowing us to stay with you for a while."
"No bother. Things are getting scary around here and there are so few safe places. Argyos continues his quest to kill the two witnesses, but their time has not yet come. We must be on our way before suspicion is aroused. Too many dangers being out in the daylight."
The group squeezed into the small van and off they went toward safety.......

- P4H

Black Mesa

Mikhail wiped a bead of sweat that rolled down the side of his nose with his forearm. The heat in the blacksmithing room was overwhelming. He looked over at Leon as he shifted the white hot metal in the coals.
Leon glanced over at him and grinned.
Leon was definitely in his element Mikhail acknowledged. While Leon had no skill with weapons, or any type of fighting for that matter, the man was definitely a skilled craftsman in the making of them.
Leon took the metal out of the coals and turned to the anvil and began banging on it with a small hammer. Mikhail watched as Leon patiently pounded away, sweat rolling down his arms and chest, his face wreathed in concentration. Several minutes later Leon plunged the metal into a bucket of water sending up a plume of steam.
Swiping at his brow again Mikhail worked the billows to stoke the heat in the coals as Leon put the metal back into the flames. When the metal was positioned to his satisfaction Leon turned to a worktable and picked up the soapstone and began honing one of the finished blades.
The light glinted off the edge and Mikhail shook his head. He took off his gloves and looked at the bandage on his thumb. He had received the injury testing one of the blades Leon had finished and the razor sharp edge had almost sliced him to the bone. Mikhail now tested the blades with chicken feathers. He picked up one of the knives Leon had fashioned and with his other hand picked up a feather. Running the blade in the opposite direction of the growth, Mikhail watched pieces of the feather float to the floor. He smiled at Leon as he set the knife back on the counter.
Mikhail considered himself to be a connoisseur of knives and even made his own blades, but the knives Leon created far exceeded Mikhail’s expertise. Seeing movement in the doorway he turned to see Shade and Maddie waving at him. He nodded and waiting until Leon paused in his work for a moment indicated to the other man that he was going to take a break.
Leon nodded absentmindedly as he bent back to the blade he held in his hand.
Mikhail hurried toward the door picking up his shirt as he passed it. Stepping in the coolness of the hallway he almost breathed a sigh of relief. He took the towel Maddie held out to him and wiped the sweat from his torso, face and hair.
He could feel the couple’s gaze on him and quickly put on his shirt. Buttoning it up he looked Shade in the eyes. He saw shock on the big man’s face. He turned to Maddie and saw her eyes had filled with tears.
“What happened to you?” She whispered horror in her voice.
Mikhail stood uncomfortably for a moment and finally answered. “It happened a long time ago. It is no longer painful.
“But, how, who..?” Maddie shook her head in disbelief.
Shade caught Maddie’s hand and gave a gentle squeeze. He could see from Mikhail’s shuttered gaze that he didn’t want to talk about the scars that crisscrossed his chest, back and arms. He knew the marks had been made by a whip as he had a scar across the back of one of his calves from a errant whip strike while herding cattle when he was a young boy.
“I’m so sorry dear.” Maddie apologized. “I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.” Maddie reached out with her free hand and wrapped her arm around Mikhail pulling him into a hug.
Mikhail reacted slowly, his arms wrapping around Maddie to return the hug. Over her shoulder he saw Shade give a small smile. Mikhail couldn’t stop the smile that came to his lips as he felt love swell for the motherly way Maddie treated him.
In the days since the breakout Maddie had nagged him, hugged him, chastened him and loved him as if he were her child. Mikhail had never met someone so loving and motherly in his life. While he outwardly acted unaffected, inside he melted each time Maddie “henpecked” at him as Matt called it.
Letting Maddie go he stepped back. “You needed to speak to me?”
Maddie nodded. She reached up and smoothed Mikhail’s flyaway hair. “I’m worried about Trevor.”
Mikhail stood still under Maddie’s ministrations as he answered. “He is very angry.”
“Yes he is. He won’t talk about what happened to Zoe and every time someone brings her up he leaves the room.” Maddie sighed as she straightened Mikhail’s collar. She stepped back and took Shade’s hand. “I have a huge favor to ask you.”
“What would you have me do?”
“I want you to pick a fight with him.”
Mikhail’s brows shot up.
“He needs to release all that rage, and a knock down drag out brawl is the only way for him to get it all out.” Maddie reasoned.
“Why me?” Mikhail said jerking his chin toward Shade. “Shade could more than handle himself in a fight.
“Shade would either bear hug Trevor or pin him into submission.” Maddie glanced at her husband. “Shade doesn’t cotton to fist fights, and neither do I, but Trevor is itching for one and you would be able to defend yourself better than any of us. Trevor would never forgive himself if he injured Matt of Nathan so the're both out. Leon obviously couldn’t hold his own with Trevor, and Skunk , Travis and Conrad are willing to do it, but Trevor will probably go through them pretty fast. He needs to vent all that rage so he can start healing.”
Mikhail cocked his head to the side trying to understand Maddie’s logic. He glanced at Shade. He just shrugged.
Mikahil shot him a look that said plainly he thought his wife was crazy, and Shade just grinned.
Accepting he would get no help from Shade he looked back at Maddie. “I don’t understand your logic, but if you think it will help…” Mikhail trailed off.
Maddie gave him a quick hug. “I’ll go tell the other boys you’re on board.” She hurried off down the tunnel.
Mikhail watched her go. “I do not understand your wife. She dislikes fighting, but wants me to pick one.”
“She’s a woman.” Shade said as he sauntered off after his wife. “They don’t make a lick of sense, but they’re usually right about this emotion stuff.”
Mikhail let out a snort as Shade disappeared around a curve.

- Zags

Black Mesa

Renee stared at the computer screen and typed in another code. For the last few days she had been trying to decipher the security codes to unlock the location of many of the detention centers.
They needed the information on each of the centers so they would know first, where they were located and second what kind of security was in place.
Frustrated Renee saw another error message flash on the screen. She dropped her face into her hands and let out a sigh. ‘This is gonna take a miracle.” She thought to herself.
Vaguely she heard raised voices behind her but her focus was so concentrated they barely registered. She tapped the computer keys, her thoughts whirling as she tried another password.
She felt someone grab her arm and jerk her out of the chair. With a yelp she stumbled into Nathan as he dragged her backwards and pressed her against the wall, his body in front of her as if to shield her.
“What are you doing?” She asked mystified. Then she heard the sound of fists meeting flesh. She peered around Nathan and saw Trevor land a punch to Conrad’s face.
She blinked hard as she watched Conrad stagger back and fall to the floor. She tried to shove Nathan away from her. He just pressed her back into the wall more securely.
“Nathan! Let me go.”
“No.” Nathan said grimly.
“Why are the boys fighting with Trevor?” Renee asked her eyes wide as she saw Mo hit the floor.
“Because he needs to fight.” Nathan answered, wincing as Skunk took a hard punch to his gut that knocked the air out of him.
Renee noticed that Matt and Frank were shielding Tansy on the other side of the room. Tansy watched the fight, her eyes sad, but stoic.
She turned her head to see Shade had his arms wrapped around Kristen to keep her from interfering. Leon was nowhere to be seen and she assumed he was in the blacksmithing room.
She saw Mikhail step toward Trevor and she stiffened, her heart began to pound with terror. She looked at Kristen and saw the younger girl stop struggling to get free from Shade’s grasp. Maddie reached over and ran her hand down Kristen’s hair as she watched the fight unfold.
“Why isn’t anybody doing anything to stop this?” Renee demanded.
No one answered as Trevor and Mikhail circled each other slowly.
Mikhail’s eyes never left the taller man. Trevor’s eyes flashed with fury as he snapped a kick to Mikhail’s midsection.
Spinning away the blow glanced off Mikhail’s hip. He staggered one step, and raised his arm to block the punch Trevor aimed at his face. With his other arm he shoved Trevor back and the bigger man let out a bellow of rage.
Renee cringed at the sound and watched in horror as Trevor charged Mikhail.
The men crashed into one another, Mikhail gripping Trevor by his left arm and flipping him over his shoulder. Trevor hit the floor with a thud, and immediately rolled, his arm sweeping around to land a punch to the back of Mikhail’s knee.
Feeling his knee buckle Mikhail dropped, his hands out to keep his face from hitting the solid rock floor.
Trevor dove on his back fists flying, landing hard punches to the back of his head, back and ribs.
Mikhail twisted and slammed an elbow into the soft tissue under the ribs and Trevor’s breath whooshed out with a grunt. Mikhail slammed his elbow into the same spot a second time and reared back for a third strike when he felt Trevor’s weight shift to the side.
He saw Skunk had caught Trevor around the chest and lift him off his back.
Trevor struggled in Skunk’s grasp and threw his head back.
Blood flew as the back of Trevor’s head slammed into Skunk’s nose. Letting go Skunk staggered back his hands covering his broken nose.
Mikhail quickly rolled to his feet and shoved Trevor from behind.
Spinning around like an enraged bull, Trevor started throwing wild punches. Mikhail moved around him in circles, deflecting punches and kicks. He never returned a punch, just defended himself until what seemed an eternity later, Trevor’s rage was finally spent. With one last weak punch Trevor dropped to his knees, his chest heaving as he gasped for air.
Nathan stepped away from Renee and she hesitantly took a step toward Trevor. She looked at Maddie and Tansy as they both went to the kitchen area.
Kristen burst from Shade’s arms and ran to Trevor throwing her arms around his neck. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she hugged Trevor close. His arms wrapped around her as a sob ripped from his throat.
Renee walked forward and dropped to her knees next to Trevor. She put her arms around him and held him as he cried, her own eyes filling. She glanced up at Nathan, ‘I love you.” She mouthed.
‘I love you too.’ He mouthed back as he placed a comforting hand on Trevor’s back.
No one said a word as Trevor cried for his lost love.

- Zags

Are They Ready For This?

Black Mesa

“I’m so grateful the Lord sent you to us.” Kristen said as she gave Mikhail a final squeeze before letting go. She almost laughed when she stepped back and saw Mikhail’s expression. He obviously was not used to affection and the look on his face was a mixture of surprise, dismay and a bit of horror.
Travis coughed to cover his laugh. “Well let’s get our stuff and head inside. I’m starved.”
He opened the trunk and lifted several shopping bags out. Handing two to Mikhail he slammed the trunk.
“Everyone’s inside.” Kristen said as she grabbed both men by a hand and dragged them over to the smaller door. Tugging them both through the opening she let go of Travis long enough to punch in the code to close the smaller door.
Reaching for Travis’ hand she led the way through the tunnel jabbering so fast neither man could keep up.
“Tansy and Conrad are here along with us regulars. We’ve already eaten supper but the stew is probably still warm.”
Entering the main room Kristen dragged both men across the room to where everyone had gathered around the big table.
Letting go of both men Kristen announced. “Travis and Mikhail are home.”
Mikhail was looking a bit shell shocked. The teenager had just announced to these strangers that this was his home.
“Just go with it.” Travis whispered.
“This is Nathan and his girlfriend Renee.” Kristen introduced. Mikhail automatically stuck out his hand.
Nathan and Renee both were fighting back smiles as they shook his hand.
“And this is Mo. He used to be a gang leader. And this is Skunk. He’s Mo’s best friend and he can be a handful. Just threaten to feed him liver and sardine sandwiches when he starts getting on your nerves.”
Mikhail saw Skunk blanch. He felt like laughing as he shook the man’s hand.
“I hope Travis warned you about Kristen’s mean streak.” Skunk whispered dramatically.
“He had not mentioned it, but I thank you for the warning.” Mikhail said gravely.
“Oh hush!” Kristen said to Skunk. “This is Tansy, Frank’s wife.” She said putting her arm around the woman’s waist.
Mikhail gave a slight bow as he shook Tansy’s hand.
“This is Leon.” Kristen introduced the man as she pulled him to his feet. She reached up and ruffled his hair affectionately. “One small warning about Leon. When the dinner bell rings make sure your in front of him. Once he’s loaded down his plate, there’s not much left for the rest of us.”
Leon stuck out his tongue at Kristen. “I don’t eat that much.”
“Yes you do. Just this once I have to agree with Kristen.” Nathan intoned seriously.
Mikhail had noticed that when Kristen had touched the man, he had looked shamed for a moment. Kristen watched him intently and Mikhail felt as if he said the wrong thing Kristen would attack.
He let a smile break through as he shook Leon’s had. “Is she always like this?”
Leon let out a bark of laughter. “Always.”
Kristen let out a small sigh. “And last but not least, this is Conrad. You may recognize him from the Center.”
Mikhail shook hands with the man. “Thank you for informing us about the situation at the Center.”
Conrad nodded.
“I’m sure your hungry. Please sit down and I’ll get you some stew.” Renee said.
“So, how far are you on your plan to get the rest of our family out?” Kristen asked as she watched Mikhail eat.
“Kristen. Let the man eat in peace.” Mo said. “He needs to eat and then rest. Tomorrow morning will be soon enough.”
Kristen got a mulish expression on her face.
“It’s quite alright.” Mikhail said quietly.
“No it’s not.” Skunk interrupted. “Don’t let her bully you around. It will be a big mistake.”
“Huge.” Mo added.
“Enormous.” Renee nodded seriously.
“Gigantic.” Piped in Travis.
“Colossal.” Nathan smiled.
“Massive.” Conrad laughed.
Leon was not to be left out. “Epic mistake.” He added with a laugh.
“A mistake of Titanic proportions.” Tansy said with a sad shake of her head.
Kristen fought the smile. “I’m not that bad.”
“Yes you are.” Mo said and everyone burst into laughter, Mikhail included.
Later on while Mikhail lay in his bed he thought about what Travis had said. “You’re going to absolutely adore Kristen.” Mikhail had a feeling he was right.

- Zags

Black Mesa

Becca was nearly in tears. The sun was coming up and she was hopelessly lost. She stopped and checked her compass. “Oh, what’s the use. I could be miles from the cave or overshot it by a few.” She heaved a frustrated sigh. She spun around in a slow circle looking for anything that looked familiar. Everything looked the same.
She started to reach for the map, but changed her mind. The map couldn’t help her now. She had no idea where in Black Mesa she was. She wasn’t even sure if she was in the right part of Black Mesa. The cave could be anywhere.
Giving into tears Becca dropped to her knees and cried for several minutes.
Getting angry with herself, she tried to get herself back under control. Wiping tears from her cheeks she took another slow perusal of the landscape. The sun blinded her for a moment and she lifted a hand to shade her eyes. “That’s definitely east.” She looked at the compass turning it toward the rising sun. The little arrow settled on the E.
“Okay. I know the compass is still right.”
She could almost hear her dad’s voice telling her not to panic. “If you panic you’ll only make your situation worse. If you feel yourself beginning to panic, take a break. Don’t give in to it.”
“I miss you dad.” She whispered. He had taught her everything she knew about survival. From hunting, to finding water sources, to building a fire if she should be caught out in the elements without matches or a lighter. Becca took a deep breath and slowly let it out.
She could hear the sound of cattle lowing in the distance. She stopped breathing altogether. Straining she tried to get a direction.
She grabbed the binoculars out of her bag. If she could hear the cattle she should be able to see them. Turning slowly she searched for any movement in the distance. She saw something move and stopped. Focusing her gaze on the object she adjusted the binoculars.
There in the distance, about a mile away were the cattle.
Becca knew exactly where she was and how to get to the cave.

- Zags

Black Mesa

Nathan and Mo both watched Mikhail closely as he mixed the chemicals.
“That stuff will eat through the fence?” Nathan asked.
“Yes. Once it is mixed with ammonia it will become highly corrosive. Once it is mixed you must be very careful not to get on your clothing or skin.” Mikhail poured the powder into a plastic bowl. “It must be mixed in a glass jar, never metal or plastic.”
Both men nodded. “We’ll have to remember to take some glass jars with us.”
Mikhail snapped the lid on the bowl, setting it aside. “I’ve made notes on how to mix the dry chemicals together in case there is a need to make more in the future.”
Skunk walked in with Kristen and Renee following behind their hands full of the things Mikhail had asked for. They set everything on the table and stepped back.
“Are you really going to make bombs out of this stuff?” Kristen asked.
“Yes.” Mikhail looked at Mo. “The bombs will need fuses. Approximately six inches long.” He quickly showed Mo how to make the fuses.
Mo nodded and sat down to work. Mikhail quickly put the girls to work mixing the putty that would be the base of the explosives.
“How stable is this stuff?” Skunk asked. “It’s not gonna blow up on us is it?”
“No. That is why I chose this particular type of explosive. It is similar to C4.”
Skunk nodded. “So it’s like a homemade plastic explosive.”
After a few minutes the girls handed over the putty mixture and Mikhail began mixing in the last of the ingredients. “Make sure and seal it in plastic wrap to keep it moist. The moisture is what allows us to stick it wherever we need to.”
Everyone nodded.
Kristen leaned over Mikhail as he made notes on how to prepare the explosives. “Why are you making notes?”
Mikhail stopped writing. He turned to face everyone. “I have an idea.” He waited until he had everyone’s attention. “I want to do this regularly.”
Mo was the first to understand what Mikhail meant. “You mean bust Christians out of detention centers?”
Mikhail nodded.
Skunk smiled. “Yeah.”
“We could use Argryos Live Maps to do recon from here and make our plans.” Nathan said excitedly.
Renee and Kristen were both nodding their heads emphatically. “We could bust people out all over the country.”
“We’ll have to run it past everyone else, but I think we should do it.” Nathan said.
“We will see how this first attempt goes and then we will discuss it.” Mikhail said

- Zags

Black Mesa

It was a little past noon when Becca spotted the outcropping that hid the entrance to the cave. With a glad cry she put on a burst of speed.
Moving the rock that covered the keypad she punched in the code with trembling fingers.
The door seemed to take forever to raise up high enough for her to duck into the parking area. She turned and punched in the code to close the door and ran to the smaller door.
She felt her throat closing as tears filled her eyes. Wiping them away she punched in the code. As the smaller door opened she bent down and ducked under the door. Standing straight she found herself looking at Leon. With a glad cry she threw herself into his arms.
“Becca?!” Leon breathed as he wrapped his arms around her. “Becca!?” He felt her tears soaking into his shirt. “BECCA!!” He shouted happily.
Becca nodded mutely into his chest as she sobbed loudly.
“It’s okay.” Leon said. “You’re home. You’re safe now.” He felt her sag into his arms and quickly scooped her up in his arms. Turning he hurried down the tunnel.
“Becca’s home!!!” He shouted as he rushed into the main room.
“BECCA!!” Renee let out a scream. She ran across the room and hugged the girl cradled in Leon’s arms.
Leon let Becca down and both girls went to their knees hugging each other.
Kristen dropped down with the two girls and threw her arms around them both.
Tansy, Nathan, Mo and Skunk were soon pulling Becca up and passed her around themselves to give her hugs.
Becca had managed to stop the tide of tears long enough to see that some of her family was missing.
“Where’s everybody else? Why is Tansy here? Conrad? Shouldn’t you be at the center?”
Mo quickly filled Becca in on what had happened.
Becca shook her head in denial. “We have to get them out!”
“We will.” Mo nodded. He waved Mikhail over. “This is Mikhail. He has a plan to get our family back.”
Becca looked at Mikhail for a long moment. “Can you really get them out?”
“I believe that we will succeed.” Mikhail said firmly.
Becca felt her knees begin to shake as exhaustion set in. “Good.” She stumbled over to the couch and sat down. “So what’s the plan and when do we go get them?"

- Zags

Black Mesa

Renee pulled up the live map of the Center on the internet. Everyone huddled around the laptop to watch.
“There’s Frank!” Tansy exclaimed.
Renee quickly zoomed in. “He looks to be in good overall health.” Mikhail said quietly as he watched the man walking about in the yard.
“What about Shade or Maddie, do you see them anywhere?” Kristen asked.
Renee zoomed out to see the rest of the compound. Guards patrolled but there were no signs of the rest of the family.
Mikhail leaned in to see where the guards were positioned. “There are more guards on the east end of the building.”
“Could mean that’s where they are holding the prisoners.” Mo nodded.
Conrad frowned. “They should be in the other side of the building. The old gym is where they added the dormitories.”
“They are.” Mikhail said with certainty. “I’ve seen this tactic many times. Draw the enemies attention away from the prize. Using more guards makes one think there is something of value to be guarded.” He leaned back in the chair. “Unfortunately that means some of the soldiers are more highly trained than we anticipated.”
“How do you know that?” Leon asked.
“I’ll not go into detail, but I will confess to using this tactic myself. When the police would get close to discovering one of Mr. Morratta’s shipments, it was my job to insure the shipment was not taken. I would send out expendables to heavily guard another area.”
Mo and Skunk looked at each other and nodded. “We get it.”
“Expendables meaning people who didn’t know what was going on and also weren’t the best fighters. If you lost a few or they were arrested they weren’t a threat to the actual shipment.” Nathan muttered.
“Yes.” Mikhail confirmed.
Kristen put her hands on Mikhail’s shoulders. “I’m glad you know this stuff. I would have never guessed. I would have fallen right into their trap.”
Slightly uncomfortable with Kristen’s praise Mikhail turned his attention back to the computer screen. “Where was Matt being held?” He directed the question to Conrad.
“Last I knew he was being held on the northern end of the old gym. Shade, Maddie and Trevor were held on the south.”
“What about Grumpy? Is he with Maddie and Shade?” Kristen asked suddenly.
“Who is Grumpy?” Mikhail asked.
“The family dog.” Travis answered. “He was with Maddie and Shade last I knew. Conrad?”
“Yeah, he’s with Maddie and Shade. The General was going to have him shot, but Shade let him know he had a problem with that little plan.”
“What’d he do?” Nathan asked.
“Let’s just say the three soldiers the General sent on that errand learned how to fly.” Conrad grinned. “That is until they hit the wall...” He let out a wince. “The General decided Grumpy could live a little longer.”
“Man, I hope Shade’s good to go. If he’s down we could have a problem.” Skunk groaned.
Mikhail gave a quizzical frown.
“You’ve seen Matt right?” Nathan asked.
“Yes.” Mikhail was beginning to see the potential problem. “I’m guessing Matt gets his size from his father.”
“Yep. Shade’s bigger though. He’s 7’ and around 350 pounds. All of it solid muscle of course.” Renee said.
Mikhail looked at his own 5’10” frame. He had a stocky build, but he would not be able to carry a 350 pound man out of the compound. He looked at Mo. Standing at around 6’ he was heavily muscled. He turned his gaze to Skunk. About the same height as Mo, he had a leaner build. Nathan was lean as well, although he was a couple of inches over 6’.
“If I remember correctly, Matt was at least 6’8 or 9, and Trevor was a few inches shorter. Trevor has a stockier build like Mo and myself.” Mikhail folded his arms across his chest and began rubbing his finger over his bottom lip. “If both Matt and Shade are down, we definitely have a problem.” He looked a Conrad and Travis. They would be otherwise engaged keeping the guards in a panic so they would be unable to assist. The girls he knew would be unable to carry one of the men even with the three of them.
Mikhail looked at the computer screen. Frank was no longer in the yard, but a large man and a smaller women were walking about. Quickly leaning forward he indicated the screen. “Zoom in.”
Renee zoomed in until they all could see Maddie and Shade closely. Mikhail looked for any indication that Shade was injured. Seeing nothing he breathed a small sigh of relief.
Kristen knelt on the floor next to Mikhail’s chair. Reaching out toward the screen she let out a small sob. “We’re coming.” She whispered hoarsely as her fingers brushed over the figures on the screen.
Mikhail saw the scars on Kristen’s wrist. Without thinking he reached out and touched them. Kristen turned toward him and Mikhail pulled his sleeve back. Kristen saw the same scars on his wrists. A look of understanding passed between the two.
“We go in before dawn. The guards will be tired and less alert. With the knowledge of the sun rising in a short time they will be more relaxed, and confident. That will be to our advantage.” Mikhail said with a grim smile.

- Zags

Black Mesa

“Come here children.” Tansy ordered. She took Nathan’s hand in one of hers and reached for Conrad’s with the other. The group formed a circle and everyone bowed their heads.
“Father, we are so thankful for our family. We are also grateful for the shelter and food You have provided. You’re mercy knows no bounds. We come to you this day to ask for Your mercy and grace as these children go on a mission to retrieve loved ones and to release Your children from their prison. You know why they are there Lord. They are there because they have chosen to follow You and to worship You instead of the false god of this world. We ask that Your hand of protection be over all of us. We ask that those who are holding them prisoner would see that they have chosen to follow the very devil himself, and that they would turn from that evil and accept Your Son as their savior. I ask all these things in Jesus name, Amen.”
Tansy looked around the small group. “May God watch over all of you.”
“I’m so sorry I can’t go.” Becca said. “I’m still so tired from running here. I don’t want to be a hindrance.”
“It’s okay Becca. We understand.” Renee hugged her. “Tansy needs someone here to keep her company anyway.”
“Yes. I won’t be so anxious with you here with me.” Tansy agreed.
Mikhail had pointed out that Tansy could be used against Frank and vice versa. “You would be huge leverage against Frank if you were to be captured.”
Tansy had agreed to stay behind, trusting Mikhail’s wisdom.
“Okay, lets get going.” Mikhail ordered. “Renee, Kristen and Leon will ride with me. Travis, you and Conrad ride together and Mo and Skunk will take the other car. Remember, if we pull this off, only family comes back to the caves. We do not know if spies have been planted in the center.”
Nods went around the room and everyone exited the cave.
“Remember, everyone comes back here only if they are certain they are not being followed and take a different route. Everyone should be back by midnight.” Mikhail ordered. He checked his watch. 3:30 am. They should be a the center by 4:30. That would give them an hour and a half before the sun began to rise.
Mikhail got in the passenger seat and buckled his seatbelt. Kristen climbed in the back of the SUV and Renee got in and started the engine.
Becca stood next to the big bay door and entered the code to open it. As the door rose Renee blew her a kiss and waved at Tansy. Gunning the engine she shot out of the cave behind the other two SUV’s.

- Zags

Boise City, Oklahoma

All was quiet outside the center. The guards were looking relaxed and Mikhail looked at his watch. He pressed his foot against the fence and it popped inward. The liquid had worked to compromise the integrity of the metal perfectly. Mikhail looked at the camera above him and waved Kristen Leon and Renee through.
They scurried silently through the hole and waited for Mikhail. Once he was through he glanced around the yard. With a last glance at the camera he took off at a run through the dark both girls and Leon on his heels.
Reaching the corner of the building he reached into his pocket and grasped one of the explosives. He stuck it to the brick and handed Kristen a lighter. “Wait for the signal. As soon as you light it run for six seconds. As soon as it goes off turn back around and head for the gymnasium.” Mikhail whispered quietly.
“Got it.” Kristen whispered back.
Mikhail nodded and waved for Renee and Leon to follow him. Running along the shadows he led them to the next entry point.
Mikhail whispered the same instructions to Renee and left her and Leon to reach his entry point. He had just pressed the explosive to the brick when the first pipe bomb went off in the parking lot.
Pandemonium broke out as guards turned toward the noise. Some ran to see what was happening while others fanned out to search for the source. Another pipe bomb went off behind the cafeteria.
Then another went off in the exercise yard. Mikhail let out a brief grin. Conrad, Travis and Nathan were doing perfectly. The guards were confused, unsure which way to run. Chaos reigned.
Mikhail lit the fuse and ran down the side of the building. Counting silently in his head he reached six and an explosion sounded. Quickly reversing direction he ran back to the hole in the side of the building. Ducking inside he pulled his knife and tucked it against his wrist. Seeing the hall empty he ran toward the center of the building. A guard stepped around the corner and Mikhail went in low and mean. His knife slashed across the guards thigh and he went down. With a quick kick to the side of the head he was knocked unconscious and Mikhail relieved him of his gun.
He heard gunshots. Praying it was Conrad and Skunk shooting out the search lights Mikhail dropped to his belly and scooted around the corner. Not seeing anyone in the hall he stood and ran for the room he was certain Frank was being held in. He stopped next to the door and listened for any sound inside the room. He heard something brush against the door and stepped in front of it. He planted his foot solidly in the center of the door kicking it open. The guard who had been listening intently from the inside went flying backwards, stumbling over his own feet and landed flat on his back the breath knocked from his lings. Mikhail knelt over him and with one punch rendered him unconscious.
Another guard stood over Frank his gun halfway between Frank and Mikhail.
Without thought Mikhail let the knife in his fist fly. It found it’s mark and the guard dropped to the ground, the knife embedded in his throat.
Another knife appeared in Mikhail’s hand before the guard hit the ground. He leapt toward Frank and saw the handcuffs attached to a ring nailed into the wall. Taking out the jar of chemicals he dumped a small amount on the ring. Seconds later he reached and with a hard yank the ring broke. “Let’s go.”
Frank was on his feet and both men slowly exited the room. Mikhail quickly retrieved his knife from the downed guard.
“Matt is in the room next door.” Frank whispered.
With a nod Mikhail whispered back. “Are there any guards on him.”
“I don’t think so.”
Both knives tucked under he kicked the door open to see Matt on his feet. Thankfully he wasn’t cuffed and no guards. Mikhail waved him to follow.
With both his objectives retrieved, Mikhail led the way out of the building and to the waiting car.

- Zags

Boise City, Oklahoma

Kristen heard the first pipe bomb go off. Then the second and when the third went off she lit the fuse. Following Mikhail’s instructions she took off running. As soon as she heard the explosion she turned back around and ran back. She dove through the hole and rolled across the hallway. Jumping to her feet she pressed back against the wall as she looked around her. Seeing no movement to indicate guards she took off running toward the gymnasium. She got to the door and saw it was chained closed. She poured some chemical on the lock and waited precious seconds for the chemical to work. After a minute Kirsten grabbed the chain being careful to avoid contact with any part that may have the liquid on it. With a hard tug the padlock gave and she dragged the chain through the door handles.
Reaching to open the door Kristen was not surprised to find it locked. Grabbing the key ring Conrad had given her she began trying keys. The second key she tried was the correct one and she almost cried out with happiness. Squelching the impulse she slowly opened the door. She dropped down and quickly scurried into the room closing the unlocked door behind her. Looking around she spotted the camera’s Conrad and Travis had told her about. Waiting to see if Renee had managed to shut them down she saw their slow turn. “Come on Renee!” Kristen whispered frantically.

- Zags

Boise City, Oklahoma

Nathan checked his watch. He lit the fuse on the pipe bomb and threw it as hard as he could. He ducked back down in the bushes hoping that the guard in the shack at the gate had not seen him in the dim light. He stayed down in the bushes and grabbed up the rifle as the bomb exploded.
The guard came sprinting out of the shack shouting in alarm. A second later another explosion sounded from behind the yard, followed by another explosion in the exercise yard.
Nathan lifted the rifle to his shoulder as guards on the roof turned on the large search lights. When the first light came on Nathan fired a round and the light immediately went out. He immediately moved from his position. Seeing another light go out he knew that Skunk or Conrad had shot that one out. He saw another light and fired another round. When all the search lights were black he slung his rifle across his back. He lobbed another pipe bomb toward the cafeteria. He was running for the gym before it exploded. He caught a glimpse of Travis as he climbed the power pole. His job was to cut the power the second Renee called him.
Nathan sent Travis a small salute as he ran past the pole.

- Zags

Boise City, Oklahoma

Mo watched pandemonium break out at the sound of the pipe bombs. He shot out another light and when all was dark he ran toward cafeteria. He planted a charge against the wall and lit the fuse. Running he waited until he heard the explosion and ran back to the hole. Ducking inside he ran for the General’s office. Renee and Leon were both there furiously working on the computers.
“Camera’s off.” Renee said.
Mo nodded as he kept an eye on the hallway. He saw movement at the end and lifted the scope to his eye. Seeing it was one of the General’s soldiers he fired off a round. The soldier dropped his hands gripping his shattered knee.
“Hurry!” Mo whispered furiously.
Leon typed in the command on the keyboard of the computer. ‘Downloading File” appeared on the screen and Leon tapped his fingers impatiently.
Renee typed furiously as she typed in the code for the virus. Finished she waited until Leon gave the all clear to hit enter.
‘Download Complete’ flashed across the screen. Leon pulled out the key the files had been transferred to. “Go!”
Renee hit enter and grabbed her bag. The three exited the room and headed for the exit.
Another guard loomed out of the darkness and Mo fired a round into his chest. The guard went down and Mo reached back and grabbed Renee by the hand. “Let’s go.“ He pressed a gun into her hand. “Stay to the shadows until we know we’re clear.”
Slapping a gun into Leon’s hand he indicated that he take the lead. “I’ll cover the rear.”

- Zags

Boise City, Oklahoma

Kristen saw the camera stop and jumped up. She ran to the lever that controlled the cell doors and pulled it. Cell doors opened and people came spilling out.
“Shhhh!!” Kristen ordered.
Waving everyone to follow her she breathed a sigh of relief when she saw Shade and Maddie.
“Everyone step toward this side of the building!!” Kristen ordered.
With dazed looks everyone immediately complied.
Kristen ran over to Maddie, Shade and Trevor. Grumpy jumped around her excitedly. “I’m happy to see you too boy!”
“What on earth do you think you’re doing young lady?!” Maddie started to chastise her.
“Get down Maddie.” Kristen said as she heard the three banging sounds on the far wall.
“What?!” Maddie asked shocked at Kristen’s tone.
“Just do as she say’s Maddie.” Shade said as he dragged Maddie down behind him.
Twenty seconds later the wall exploded sending debris into the room.
“Kristen!?” Nathan shouted.
“We’re good. Go help Skunk!”
With a quick nod Nathan took off running.
“Let’s go!” Kristen took off in the lead. Ducking thorough the hole in the wall she led everyone out and toward the parking lot.
The sound of gunshots filled the air.
They ran into Mo, Leon and Renee as they exited the building. Renee was on her cell phone giving Travis the order to cut the power to the center. Once in the parking lot, Renee started handing out keys to GF vehicles. “The car number is on the keys. Just find the car matching the numbers and get out of here!” Renee told everyone.
People took off scrambling to vehicles and within moments the first car was started and heading for the gate.
“Let’s go!” Mo shouted over the sound of gunfire. “Skunk, Conrad and Nathan are doing their best to keep the guards pinned but they can’t hold them forever.” He handed Shade a rifle.
“There’s a hole in the fence along the exercise yard. Leon lead the way, I’ll take the rear.”
Another pipe bomb went off behind the cafeteria as the first car smashed through the gate.
Running full out the small group raced for the exercise yard. Leon slid to a stop next to the hole in the fence. Frantically he helped Maddie through, then Kristen, he stepped through and then Shade and Trevor followed by Mo taking up the rear.
A series of explosions echoed from the parking lot as Nathan, Skunk and Conrad lobbed pipe bombs toward the remaining GF vehicles.
The three men scrambled down from the rooftop of the central building and made a mad dash for the hole in the fence. They caught up to Travis as he raced toward the SUV. Racing south they jumped into the waiting vehicle and roared off into the early dawn light.

- Zags