Chapter 11: The Oaths Worth Keeping.
Despite how much horrifying revelations she had to deal with in the time span of twenty-four hours, using all of her training Kelly was able to explain to Alyssa the true ambitions Dale had, and the horrifying plot that was already in motion. Her former squad mate almost thought Kelly was just trying to pull her leg, till Kelly showed her Dale's maps and guns.
Kelly almost felt her despair start to creep in as she saw her friend's horrified reaction before Alyssa took a deep breath." Damn girl, your brother's in deep. Not going to lie, I thought the worst it could be him trying to be his own kingpin or something. But, trying to kill the president and overthrow the government? Being real here Kelly, treason and crime and all that might have been let off easy when the treason loving crooks were calling the shots but now that we have people who give a damn about the law, your brother's kind of a dead man walking.
Don't mean to be harsh but the government does take anyone who even posts they want to kill the president on social media gets looked into. But when we have an all out plot to kill him, and seriously try and overthrow the government, if not rip apart the nation, then that's as serious as someone like Bin Laden if he can pull it off.
Even if we are retired now…kind of feels like if we don't report this that would be negligence of duty as an American. Even if their plan falls apart…it feels like they are so worked up someone's gonna get hurt when it all comes crashing down."
Kelly paused for a moment, saw Dale's unconscious body twitching, and pet the kitten before she took a long, sorrowful sigh before she looked back at the phone showing her friend's image and tensed up." Is there…anyway this can't end the worst way possible Alysha? Is there anyway…to save my brother?"
"I mean…you know your brother more than me girl, you think he will go through with this? How many terrorists back down after planning things this far? "
"I guess…it all depends on how many people really have his back. If…if it's just his one group…you think that would be enough for are old squad to be able to take them down without back up?"
Alysha saw Kelly's detached look before she tensed up." What are you talking about Kelly?"
"Remember how you said the whole squad owned me before we came home? I, I think I'm going to need to call in that favor now. If, if this gets out, my mom will be devastated Alysha. I know they looked at families of terrorists with suspicion in the past, at least unofficially. If it can be shut down before it ever goes on record…it could spare my mother a whole lot of grief. One way or another she's going to hurt so much knowing how far her son's fallen, but at least spearing her from having to deal with being the son of a treacherous terrorist would be, something at least."
Alysha paused before she looked at how serious Kelly looked and chuckled bitterly." I guess it would be hard to get a promotion when your suspected of treason and all. I mean…I think everyone in our last unit that's back home is still flexible enough to call in that favor but, it won't be overnight girl."
"That's fine…sounds like Malcolm, Tucker and the others were mostly just laying low in the Bighorn Mountains till the president gets in there sights. So, we still have some time. Malcolm can't have too many people with him or it would get attention one way or another."
"Makes sense…but who knows how they set up the place by now."
"True…but that's why it would take professionals, and there is nothing as professional as are unit. Still…I can't ask everyone to come back to risk their lives and get nothing out of it."
"You pulling my leg Kelly? None of us got drafted into the army, and we did not stick around because we thought we would be millionaires. I can't speak for everyone but, all of our unit kept fighting because we wanted to keep the nation safe.
That's why, if it's to keep the country from going to hell then Marco, Kyle, and all the others will come down before you even give them the full story. I can see why you would want to do it this way Kelly, but if we are going to do this solo we better have as much intel on what to expect as we can. Like, you know yet where the entrance to there" Mancave" would be? Is Malcolm talking with anyone else and might be tipped off if we are coming?"
"I…I don't know yet. Sounded like Dale was the only one outside of his group but we can't leave anything to chance with this. I, I can ask ma if anyone talked to Malcolm. I…I wonder if I should tell her. The more I hide to her, the more it's going to hurt her."
"Kelly, I know your feeling all kinds of emotions right now but we have to think about this very carefully. As bad as it is to lie to your ma about this, if there is even a one percent chance she will react by calling or going to Malcolm then you got to not risk it. If she tells anyone, or god forbid goes to your brother it could jeopardize everything!
I'm willing to trust you enough that your brother won't kill your ma Kelly…but after all you told me about that skinhead Tucker…can you say the same of him or the rest of that crew?"
Kelly looked pained for a moment before she saw the kitten meow at her, sigh, and petted it before she glanced back at her friend." I get what you mean…and it does make the most sense. We just got to make sure no one else you know is talking to your brother. I mean, not like we are going to just shout we are going to attack your brother but just, you never know. Long as we can find a way to move out without causing much attention it should work."
Kelly paused for a moment before she glanced at the calendar, and raised an eyebrow." Wait…I think I have an idea. Veterans day is coming up next week right? You guys mind making a few random speech's at a school?"
"Wait what? We really have time for random stuff like that?"
"We do if it will help are cover. I know enough people at Star Valley High to pull off a possible speech for the day. It could give us enough cover, so people won't ask questions."
"Well…makes sense. Guess that just leaves your old man's jackass of a pal. What are you going to do with him? As much as he deserves to rot in a cell if it makes the news he's arrested your brother's going to get an idea rather fast."
Kelly saw Dale breathing before she glanced at the room. "It's not the perfect plan, but he did have his own cell so, could lock him in it. He was so concerned with making sure someone else could not be heard but now it will screw him over just in case a mailman comes by.
We still need someone to come make sure he does not starve…if nothing else so he can hopefully stand trial when this nightmare is over. He did not think freedom for" Losers" mattered so as they say, you reap what you sow. Besides…he needs to see his demented dream collapse on his face for all the lying he did to us."
Alysha saw how cold Kelly's eyes looked before she snickered." I see that look in your eye is back Kelly, just sucks it's for your own brother. Seriously…you sure your up for this? You don't have to push yourself to prove you're a patriot or something. Most would understand not wanting to shoot at their own brother."
Kelly paused for a moment, before she closed her eyes." Thanks for the concern Alyssa, but I have to do this. I made an oath to protect my family, and an oath to protect my country from those who want to harm it. I thought those oaths would always overlap, till now.
Knowing how long Dale's put crazy ideas in his head, now that I have the full story I have to at least try one last time to reach out to him. And…if I can't then its only right I'm the one to stop him for letting his madness hurting others."
Alysha saw the hardness in her friend's eyes before she chuckled bitterly." I know by now how pointless it is to argue with you when you have that look. Welp…time to come out of retirement then. I'll call Efraian, then the others, and get back to you as soon as you can. Do what you need to girl, this is going to be rough."
"Will do…talk to you soon."
With a wave her friend ended her video call. As her phone went silent, Kelly glanced at Dale's phone, and picked it back up to look back at her brother's text.
She glanced at earlier conversations with Dale to get a feel for how her father's old friend replied before she took a deep breath and texted back, Things are as set for the Big Score as they will ever be. Maintain your position and contact me if anything changes. I'll response as soon as things are in the clear.
Kelly pushed down the lump in her throat, and felt mixed emotions sweep through her body as she sent the text pretending to be Dale to lie to her brother in order to stop him.
The red-haired woman nearly forgot to breath as she sent the text, and wondered about all the mistakes she made to have caused her life to amount to this point. As she wondered if Malcolm would even respond or just ditch the burner phone, she slouched back and saw the kitten was still eying her curiously.
She saw the young cat sniff her before she smiled. "Well…if you still need a home, ma does keep going on about missing Muffy but not having the time to train a new cat. Well, got a lot to do, so no time to waste."
Kelly made sure Dale was secure in his cuffs before closing the cell. She then offered her hand to the kitten. The feline smelled her hand for a few moments before licking it and letting her pick it up. Kelly smiled before petting it, then noticed the taser Dale used on her, narrowed her eyes and picked it up.
She heard barking above and realized Creed seemed to have gotten loser from wherever Dale tied him up before she grasped the taser tightly. I missed enough as it is, I'm not going to let anything get in the way of what I have to do to get this done right.
With grim resolve Kelly grasped the kitty firmly and walked out of the basement. As she opened the door she did not even flinch as she saw Creed charging at her, and instantly fired the teaser at him to knock the dog out.
The former vet made sure the dog was out, went to her car to drop the cat in, then went back to put Creed in his own dog cage Dale had for him before dragging him into her car as well.
She quickly drove back home, and only told her mother that Dale told her he was going on a trip and needed Jenny to watch her dog. While her mother had some doubts, she passed it off on Dale fooling around with trying to woo another woman and bought the story.
While still dismayed at not knowing what was going on with Malcolm, Kelly saw her mother just focus on her work, and on seeing what to make out of the new animals in front of her before she focused on the much more vital task, figuring out how to stop her brother without the whole world becoming aware he was a trying to murder the president to overthrow the government.
As traumatic as it felt, Kelly used all her experience with redirecting her emotions to keep her calm and not let her mother or anyone else be aware of the tempest of emotions she was feeling.
When she went back to Star High on Monday and talked to Principal Molly about the possibility of having her former squad mates come over to give a special presentation for the upcoming Veterans Day. Despite the short notice, Molly was all too happy to amend the assembly to have everyone hear from recent vets.
It did not take long for Kelly to hear back from Efraian, and to her shock everyone of her former squad mates that were still alive were willing to help. The next two days were full of sporadic calls as Kelly went back to Dale's house every day and dropped off enough food and water to keep him alive, using the time to talk to one friend of hers after another to show Dale's plans vie her phone camera and plan out the unofficial mission born out of necessity.
She tried to plan it out like any other mission she planned while overseas, but every time she looked at Dale's plans, or heard Dale himself rant from inside the cell, or thought about the look her brother had on his face before he nearly set Jasen's cellar on fire before dismay, if not despair crept into her thoughts.
But all it took was thinking for a few moments about all that was on the line to get her to focus on the solution, not the problem.
That's why before she knew it, she woke up to find out it was Veterans Day, and went to her job not in one of the school outfits, but in her old military outfit. Soon enough she found herself behind the curtains of Star Valley High's auditorium right as Billy and Principal Molly walked up in front of the mikes.
Billy cleared his throat to get the students below to notice him before he waved." Hey y'hall, I know your happy to push back some tests and everything but we are here for a reason. Hopefully some of you remember what we been talking about in my own history class's but, what does stuff like Veterans Day means to you?"
The mass of youths looked around before in the first row Cassie casually raised her hand before she shrugged." I mean…its mostly a day were my parents' friends and their grandparents would rant about things at parties more then anything."
As those around her chuckled Vice Principal Maher walked up and cleared his throat with such anger it was nearly a growl." Cassie…if you are treating this day with such contempt your all to happy to finish that math test in my office if that's what you would prefer."
"C'mon is that a bad joke?" The young woman snapped back dryly." I'm just being honest Mister Maher. Like, I don't mean to diss soldiers or something but that's mostly what it's been to me, a lot of stuff that only about tests I have to take or movies I been dragged to."
Billy saw both the Principal and Vice Principal look annoyed, but before they could react the history teacher chuckled." Well…I know despite my efforts that's how history still comes off to a lot of you. No matter what, when its something that was before your time its something some don't grasp.
That's why today for Veterans Day we are having vets who have been vets for only a few months. By now I hope most of you have gotten to know Miss Kelly O'Neal. But now you get to meet the people that she worked with in her last job.
Thanks to respecting the job she did so well, and wanting everyone to know what "Fox Pack 64" did. So, please give a warm welcome to four new vets. Let's see, hope I got the names right. First off is Efraian Valdes!"
On cue a tall tan man with long black hair in dreadlocks walked out of the right curtain before he saw the students looking at him and smirked." What's up Star High? You guys have a way sweeter school then where I grew up in…guess those tax dollars are good for something eh?"
As most of the students chuckled Billy glanced at his note-cards again. "Aright, next up is Grant Peterson."
Next came out a tall lanky man with blond hair gelled up to be spiky in the front with a short goatee. As he came up, he ran out like a track runner and waved before just uttering a polite hello as everyone clapped some more.
As he just got alongside Efraian, Billy cleared his throat. "And the next veteran "Fox" we have today is "Tai" Takahiro Westworth!"
An Asian man that was Billy's height with short black hair walked up before giving a curt salute to the students." Hello everyone. Thank you for honoring us today. I am grateful for the chance to enlightened you all to are ordeals."
After another round of applause broke out for a bit before Billy nodded." Are next and last guest is Alysha Gurira!"
Kelly's longtime friend walked up with a smirk and looked at the students." So…you think what we fought for was worth it or not?"
As a few students clapped Billy wiped some sweat off his forehead." Alright, the last veteran today is someone you already know, though this is the side of her she had before joining us. Please thanks the woman who got this all started, Kelly O'Neal!"
Kelly walked out of the curtains, and while everyone in the room had seen her already, this was the first time the majority of the people around her have not seen her in her military uniform.
Thus…as she walked into the center of her fellow squad-mates of the" Fox Pack 64" she saw most of the room cheer for her, and noticed Cassie and some of the girls that had been taking her class's whistle before she smirked." Hey guys, thanks for taking this seriously. I know not everyone always agrees on if what we fight for is right, but it's always grateful to know people see what we fight for has value."
Cassie shrugged as she leaned back on her chair." Eh, I still think the American Industrial War complex is what caused most of the problems for the world in the past century. But…I don't blame the people caught up as the" Man's Puppets for fighting to keep alive. Besides if you all lasted this long you must be doing something right, I guess. Unless you like, made a pack with the devil, or aliens or something."
Kelly rolled her eyes before she crossed her arms." No pacts Cassie…and no real tricks other then getting good at what we do. We all just wanted to do the job right so we kept training like hell. It did not always work, only half of us were in this Fox pack since it was formed, the man who founded this unit died, as did many others.
But we vowed to make sure they did not die for nothing, and fought harder with each lost. I, I'm not someone who likes to glamorize violence or war or what not. War really is hell, and that is the nice version.
Still, I think it's important that people understand the truth so they don't get distorted by lies…there is enough of that going on as of late. That's why, if there is anything you would like to know we are here to answer about the war we went through."
Principal Molly saw how excited some of the students were before her eye twitched and she quickly grasped the phone from Kelly." Before we start just a reminder that for the love of god don't ask them what there most gory kill was or anything like that. We can't have anything like this again if your parents give us hell for giving you ideas or something."
Nearly half of the students moaned in dismay before Brett got up. As he was handed the mike the youth scratched his head." So, um…just curious. What got you all to fight in the war? My old man's old man was drafted."
Cassie shrugged and raised her hand. Vice Principal Maher raised an eyebrow, then turned to see Kelly nod, before he nodded in turn. Kelly saw her student clear her throat before she shrugged."
Efraian chuckled before he took the mike." If I'm going to be honest, was offering better pay then anything my town had to offer other then drugs, and I decided odds were better getting into gunfights with terrorists then gang leaders. Hell I'm still alive so guess it worked out eh?"
After a few chuckles Grant took the mike next before he sighed." Honestly, my mom died in 9/11 so I wanted to make the terrorist pay, then I wanted to make anyone who helped them paid to. Well, did not get everyone but…got enough to know when to not push my luck."
Tai nodded before he took the mike." While I wanted to make the wicked answer for there sins, I concede a part of me wanted to prove my skills were among the best."
Alysha snickered before she took the mike." I admit there was another career I planned on having, but when they turned them down because I was not" qualified" I joined the army to prove who was right about being qualified. But then I realized I liked what I did in this job so I stuck with it. Though, I guess I'm only here to talk about it because the" Big Boss" here had my pack through hell."
Kelly chuckled before she took the mike." Thanks. I…just wanted to do my job right. Myself, I joined the military after seeing how much harm terrorists were causing. I admit, there was someone in my family who wanted to become a soldier, but could not do so when fate did not give him a good hand. I realized it was something I could do…so I tried to uphold that dream for him.
It…it was not just him…it was the dreams my deceased mentor, the man who trained me had as well. Then…it was the dreams of other soldiers that died during the fighting, of civilians that died because of the enemy, and more. But that's not all. When I first deployed, I just thought about staying alive while getting as many as the enemy dead as possible.
But as we saw what they were doing to woman, to girls, to anyone that did not bend to there barbaric whims, I, I knew there was more reason for us to fight then just revenge. I knew, something had to change. So, no matter how entrenched the enemies were, no matter how savage they got, and no matter how many people we killed, we refused to give up."
Brett smirked at her response, and nearly the entire auditorium broke into applause's. As Brett gave a thumbs up Cassie got up and sighed before she took the mike. "So you guys are clearly serious about all that.
That being said…after all this time…and after all the crap you went through, ,was it worth it, even if you guys got back and as far as I know, even after all those dead terrorist's things don't seem to have changed that much."
Principal Molly nearly tackled Cassie before Kelly put her hand up and sighed. She saw her teammates all let out expressions of regret before she grasped her hand tightly." Its not a lie, its simply the reality. I wished we could have changed things a lot more…but I admit I was mislead by fiction myself with how easy things change. You don't just change a nation by bombing it a lot, we keep learning that a hard way. Changes to culture take generations at times, if not longer.
You can't force someone to change, let alone an entire nation, let alone an entire continent. You can just do what you can to keep the corruption from getting worst ,by giving people a option, if they can see that option is up to them though.
In our job, you were going to lose your sanity fast if you tried to fix everything or save everyone. You quickly learn you have to pick your battles, to not lose focus, and not loose sight of what you can save till…till it's too late. Maybe I could have done better…but since I at least have some people I care about still alive, hopefully, that means something."
Alysha patted Kelly on her shoulder as the rest of her squad nodded before the students cheered. Cassie saw her teacher's teammates all look supportive before she shrugged." Well…if these guys have been willing to put up with you bossing them around for years, then I guess you maybe know what you're talking about. Eh…guess that means its worth sticking around."
Kelly saw the warmness in Cassie's eyes despite her sarcasm before she smiled back." Glad to hear it."
As the students clapped, Zoe then asked Alysha how hard she had to train to get accepted before Kelly looked at her crew talking, then thought about Malcolm again before her eyes hardened. Malcolm…I'm sorry I was not there for you, but I know without a doubt what I have been fighting for was not a mistake. To keep girls like those in front of me from having to suffer, I'll take down your delusional rampage no matter what the cost.
Kelly saw her teammates answer questions such as their favorite gun, and at least a dozen other questions before time ran out. As Principal Molly saw kids asking for more time she winced." Sorry, everyone but we can't push everything back today, eh? I'm sure there will be a chance to ask more questions sooner or later."
Billy cleared his throat before he walked up." Don't worry, I'm going to ask them some questions for the town paper so if you all forward your best questions for me they might be able to get in the news eh? Ah right, speaking of that, do you know what a good time would be to talk more Kelly?"
The red-haired vet had her eyes dart to the ground before she cleared her throat." I, should have an answer by Sunday. There are a few things we have to take care of."
Billy saw her teammates look grim before he paused and stepped back." Oh of course. Did not mean to get in the way of you guys catching up or anything. If you guys don't have anything you want to share for the paper that's fine to."
Kelly saw the history teacher looked regretful before she smirked." Nah its fine. Just have a few things to go over as a unit, and if things work out then I'd be happy to talk about a few things at least. After all this time, now more then ever people need to know what is the truth. Let's just see how things go."
"Sure thing. Its going to be a wild catch up eh?"
Kelly sighed before she turned around." Well…its going to be one wild ride alright."
The gym teacher saw some students run up to ask her comrades a few more questions and tried to get them settled down. After things calmed down and the students returned to there class's, Kelly and her teammates talked to her boss and peers for the last period before leaving the school before the bell even rang.
Kelly took everyone to her favorite cafe near home to catch up more personally with the people who saved her lifetime and again over the years for some good time. But by the time they got back to Kelly's house, the mood turned sober fast.
Jenny saw her child gathering things from her room and the basement, and packing things in Alyssa's van before she raised an eyebrow." Kelly what in the hell are you up to? You just got back with your friends and you're already packing up to go?"
"Sorry ma." Kelly answered bluntly." No disrespect but we don't have time on our side. Got to leave for the hunting trip right about now to make it in time."
"Hunting? What the hell are you hunting for? Bigfoot?"
Kelly paused, winced at what she was prepared to do and then looked down." Nah…it's something real alright, something we have a brief window to pull off. Always promised my team that if we survived the war, we would try and pull it off…and no better time to pull it off then right now."
Jenny eyed her daughter carefully before she cleared her throat." Malcolm was talking about some big hunt for a long time now, and now my own son won't get back to me. Is this at all related Kelly? What you going after a swarm of Grizzly's or something? What else you need that much ammo for?"
"Heh, maybe it's a big surprise party? I'll let you know when we are done Ma, promise."
Kelly turned around, only for her mother to snap out," I'm not done with you girl!"
The red-haired woman winced before turning around, and despite being surrounded by combat veterans who all had more then a decade of combat experience, none of them had the nerve to look Kelly's mother in the eye as Jenny scowled at the younger woman and walked up." I let a lot slide girl, but not something like this! I know you long enough to know your hiding something from me. It's about Malcolm, eh? You know where he is? You know what he's trying to do? Is it drugs? Everyone in my family thinks they can diss me like its nothing!"
"Its not nothing ma, trust me." Kelly answered bitterly." You have to trust me on this…the less you know, the better."
"Just tell me already! Malcolm…he did something even worst then what you were talking about before eh?"
"I, its, one way or another I'm going to find out soon. Mom…if you don't hear back from me by the end of the weekend…go to Dale's house, and check the hammer by the basement. Then, things should be clear. For now…I got to do my duty. I'm sorry it happened this way, truly. But…I have to keep whatever oaths I can. C'mon…its time."
Kelly and the others went off as her mother was still taking everything in. Kelly did not look back, but did rub her eyes a bit, causing Alysha to sigh." You going to be ok Boss?"
"No…not till this is over." Her squad leader answered solemnly." So, let's just get this done. Is everything set?"
"Yah…the E mail's set to go if we don't get back by the end of the weekend. One way or another your brother's dreams of changing the world are going to go crashing down."
"Then…lets make sure we are the ones to end it so this insanity ends as quickly as possible. Alright Fox's…time for one last mission."