Chapter FifteenMature

I gripped my old 1911 affectionately, cleaning the barrel and making sure it was well-cared for, ensuring that the sights still aimed straight. When I was satisfied, I placed it back in its case and put the case down in the bottom of my small closet - more of a locker than anything. I closed the door and walked out to Amber, taking her in my arms. The ring on her finger was matched to the first - the engagement ring - in size and stone, and so beautiful, it might begin to compare to the woman wearing it.

Later that day, a messenger knocked hard on the door. I answered quickly, and was greeted by a young boy, looking out of breath and firghtened.

"Captain Nicholas Sullivan?"

"Yes, what is it?"

"There's a situation. I was told to summon all soldiers in the area as soon as possible."

"What's going on?"

"I don't know exactly," the boy said, suddenly appearing terrified, "but I know three planes identified as North Korean and Chinese transports landed about four miles south of here an hour ago."

"Okay. Go, go on. Get the others."

I tromped back into the house, grabbing up my pistol and uniform, and was stopped in the back room by Amber. Her eyes looked big and concerned

"What is it? What's happening?"

"Enemy planes spotted just a few miles south of here. I'm sorry, I've gotta go."

"I know." She stared at me for a moment, and then filled some bags with food and handed me a canteen of water. She reached up and kissed me. It wasn't a long kiss - she must have understood the urgency of the situation and not wanted to hold me up - but it wasn't a meaningless peck on the cheek, either. "Go," she said, barely managing to look me in the eyes.

I changed into my uniform in one of the locker rooms in the nearby barracks, then holstered my pistol and rushed out to the courtyard for a briefing. It was explained that three planes - two Chinese and one North Korean - had been spotted coming in for a landing just outside of the old city. We were being deployed into the streets above to patrol the perimeter and safeguard our friends and families down below.

I took a shotgun and an assault rifle from the spare weapons available in the barracks and joined the second-to-last topside transport available. There were two sergeants and a lieutenant on board, as well. The transport was a small jeep that hardly fit throught the old sewer tunnels that served as passages to the streets.

When we arrived aboveground, the smell of decay and smoke is what greeted us. I could hear troops moving all around the city as I took the vehicle to its assigned destination. We broke our area up into quadrants, with myself taking the northeastern portion. I heard shots coming from the other half of the northern portion of our designated area and rushed to provide support and see what was going on. It turned out that a North Korean scout had come close and the lieutenant had shot the soldier - a woman - with a sniper rifle before she got close.

Soon, we could see the enemy forces in the distance approaching the city.

The End

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