Morales Compound 1800 hrs
The soldier that escaped the Indian village drove like a mad man back to Morales' compound. He didn't slow the truck until he was through the gates. Michael Corda, Morales' second in command, walked out of one of the buildings and over to the truck.
"Where are the others?" he demanded.
"Dead, senor," stammered the soldier.
"Idiots!" Corda yelled and backhanded the soldier. "They're peasants!"
"They had their own soldiers," He said wiping the blood from his lips. "They were ruthless."
"Damn!" Corda cursed. "Get your sorry ass inside. I'll be in to talk to you in a minute."
Corda watched as the soldier quickly retreated to the barracks. He ground his teeth in frustration over the cowardice of the men Morales had gathered. Corda tried to make them into a good fighting force but they were hopeless. He strode across the compound to the fancy hacienda. Corda walked down the corridor to Morales' office. He entered without knocking and walked directly to the desk.
"We've got trouble," he announced.
Jesus Morales looked up from the papers he was reading to stare at Corda. Jesus was a handsome man. He had black hair and dark eyes. He's looks could easily have gotten a modeling job but Jesus had bigger plans. He was born into wealth and privilege. After inheriting the property from his father he replaced the coffee with cocaine and marijuana. Jesus hated the government that was in control and jumped at the chance to fight them in exchange for his drugs to enter the US unchallenged. Corda had been sent to train his men to fight. Jesus looked at the ex-Army ranger and scowled.
"What is it?"
"There are soldiers in the Indian village," Corda answered. "Both of the patrols have been killed."
"Damn!" Jesus cursed.
"I warned you not to take hostages," Corda replied. "I told you they would send people to get them back."
"I had to get their attention," Morales growled. "Three of my shipments of cocaine were picked up by the Coast Guard. They cost me millions!"
"Now you have even a bigger problem," Corda said. "What are you going to do?"
"Gather all the men," Morales said. "In the morning we'll wipe the village off the face of the earth."
Colombia, Indian Village 0800 hrs
The sun glistened brightly over the peaceful village. The seven men protecting the village had worked all night to make everything ready. The villagers would be fighting for their lives as well as their homes. Chris surveyed the area as he hid behind a barricade with Tastanagi. Everything was quiet. Even the jungle animals sensed something was going to happen and were silent.
"They're coming," Vin said over the radio. Chris gripped his gun and waited. "Shit, Chris, there are about forty men in three vehicles."
"I thought you said there were only twenty," Chris said accusingly to the chief.
"No. I asked you if twenty would scare you," he said calmly.
"Twenty, no. Forty, yes," Chris said sarcastically. "Vin you know what to do."
They could heart the trucks coming down the road. Chris tensed as the noise got louder.
"Buck! Now!" Vin yelled.
There was a few seconds delay when there was a loud explosion. Buck set the C4 across the road to try and take out some of Morales' men before they got to the village. Chris watched as the second truck exploded throwing men everywhere. The other vehicles stopped and the soldiers quickly piled out. Vin started firing with deadly accuracy and Chris watched men fall as they tried to get out of the trucks. A group of ten soldiers got past Vin's line of fire and ran to take cover. Unfortunately they headed straight for Josiah and Nathan who cut them down.
"Take cover you idiots!" Corda shouted. "Someone take out the sniper!"
Vin's sniper fire was cutting Corda's men to ribbons. One of the soldiers took aim with a rocket launcher and fired on the bell tower. Chris watched in horror as the bell tower exploded. Miraculously the church didn't catch fire because of the rain the night before. Chris jumped up but was pulled back down by the chief.
"Vin!" Chris yelled into the radio.
"Take it easy, Cowboy, I'm fine," crackled over the radio. "I know when to retreat."
Chris watched as the soldiers made their way closer to the huts. When they were in range Chris signaled Ezra. The southerner saluted and pulled on a rope. The dummies popped up in the windows and the soldiers fired on them. Chris and the chief opened fire while the soldiers were distracted, killing them.
JD and Buck had their hands full taking on the men in the vehicle behind the one that blew up. JD had a group of soldiers pinned down behind the vehicle when Buck tapped him on the shoulder. JD turned to see Buck holding a couple of hand grenades. JD nodded and took one. They pulled the pins, waited for a count of three, and threw them towards the truck. They landed on target blowing up the vehicle and scattering the soldiers. As they ran to get away Buck and JD shot them.
"Damn it, Corda, do something!" Morales yelled cowering behind a rain barrel.
"What the hell do you want me to do?" Corda demanded.
"Get me out of here!"
Corda sneered but knew Morales was right. They couldn't win. Morales' soldiers were no match for the men defending the village. Corda peered around the hut they were behind. He saw heavy fighting across the clearing. Corda signaled Morales to stay close as he moved to another position.
"Chris!" Vin called. "I see two trying to sneak away. I'm going after them."
"Not alone," Chris ordered but got no response. "Vin!"
Ezra quickly tied a make-shift bandage around the villager's arm. Their position by one of the huts was over run and they took up position behind the over turned wagon. Ezra heard Chris's order to Vin and knew the sniper would conveniently ignore it. Ezra checked his ammunition then told the villagers he was going to help Vin. They nodded and Ezra sprinted across to another hut.
The fighting was starting to slow down but Josiah and Nathan were busy keeping a group of soldiers pinned down behind a wagon.
"This doesn't have to continue!" Josiah shouted and repeated it in Spanish.
There was a pause then guns were thrown over the wagon. Morales' soldiers cautiously stood up with their hands on their heads. Josiah and Nathan stood also with their guns trained on the soldiers. Josiah ordered them to lay face down on the ground and they were more than willing to comply. Josiah kept them covered as Nathan secured them using the soldiers own belts.
Buck and JD were doing the same to some soldiers by the church. Morales' men realized they couldn't win and started to surrender. Buck was keeping them covered as JD secured them. JD walked towards one of the soldiers and was surprised as Buck pushed him roughly aside. JD saw the sun glint off a knife as it was thrown at Buck and stuck into his upper arm. JD quickly pulled his handgun and killed the soldier.
"Buck!" JD yelled and rushed over to him.
"It's okay, Kid," Buck said as he pulled the knife out. "Just a flesh wound."
JD looked skeptical as he saw the blood seep between Buck's fingers. JD grabbed a bandage from one of his pants pockets and wrapped it around the wound. Once it was secured they got the prisoners moving towards the church.
Vin moved cautiously among the huts. The gunfire around the village was now sporadic and Vin figured the soldiers had given up. The two he saw sneaking away seemed to be better dressed then he others. He had a suspicion who they might be. He saw them run behind the church trying to get to the jungle. Vin ran for the church to cut them of.
"Freeze!" Vin yelled just as they were nearing the jungle's edge. "Get you're hands up."
They did as he said and slowly turned to face him. One of them was dressed in US Army BDU's, which surprised Vin. The other was dressed in expensive looking hiking clothes.
"You must be Morales," Vin said keeping them covered. "Why don't y'all drop them guns."
Corda knew if they made a wrong move this man would kill them. He knew this was the sniper from the rifle slung on his back. He slowly lowered the assault rifle and let it fall to the ground. He was glad that Morales followed his lead. As he was lowering the rifle he saw one of his men standing at the edge of the church.
"Vin! Behind you!" Ezra yelled since he didn't have a clear shot.
Vin turned as the soldier behind him fired. Vin screamed and was thrown off his feet as he felt a bullet rip through his left thigh. He kept hold of his gun and fired from the ground. Vin watched in satisfaction as the soldier fell dead. Vin lay back wondering why his side hurt if he was hit in the leg.
For Ezra everything moved in slow motion. He watched as Vin fell after being shot. Ezra saw the two men Vin had captured reach for their guns. Ezra didn't give them a chance and opened fire. The two men were thrown off their feet by a hail of bullets from Ezra's MP5. Ezra heard the hammer click on an empty chamber but he kept pulling the trigger.
"Ez," Vin called. "It's over."
"Shit!" Ezra yelled as he rushed to Vin. He keyed his mic and yelled. "Nathan! I need you behind the church. Now! Vin's been hit."
Ezra dropped to his knees and gently rolled Vin on his back. The sniper groaned and Ezra saw the blood staining Vin's left side. A lucky shot got past Vin's body armor. Ezra quickly ripped open the Velcro holding the armor in place. Once the armor was off Ezra pulled up Vin's shirt to see a bullet wound just below Vin's ribs. Ezra turned Vin checking for an exit wound. When he didn't find one he rolled Vin to his back and pressed the palm of his hand to the wound. Vin moaned pulling up his knees and tried to roll away.
"Easy, Vin," Ezra said grabbing his shoulder.
"Still in there, huh?" Vin gasped.
"I'm afraid so," Ezra said.
"Don't know why we bother wearing the damned things," Vin growled.
"Don't talk," Ezra instructed.
"Why," Vin smiled. " 'Fraid I'll be more eloquent then you?"
"I doubt you ever could," Ezra smiled.
"Wanna bet?" Vin gasped and fell silent.
After what felt like and eternity Nathan appeared at Ezra's side. He quickly checked Vin over and found another bullet wound in Vin's left thigh. Nathan had Ezra take his hand away so he could see the wound.
"GoddamnitNathanthathurts!" Vin gasped as the medic checked the wound.
"Take it easy, Vin," Chris said as he dropped down at Vin's side. He could see Vin held onto Ezra's hand with a death grip.
"Sorry, Vin," Nathan apologized rummaging in his medic's bag. "I got something that will help."
Nathan pulled out two styrettes of morphine and injected them into Vin's arm.
"Oh yeah!" Vin sighed as the morphine took effect.
"Let's get him into the church," Nathan said.
Chris took Vin's arms while Nathan and Ezra grabbed his legs. They carried Vin to the front of the church and saw that the others had the prisoners secured out front. They got Vin inside and laid him gently on the floor.
"Chris you better have JD radio for our ride," Nathan said as he got to work on Vin.
Chris nodded and went outside to find JD. He found the young man helping a wounded villager over to the church.
"JD when you're done I need you to contact our ride," Chris said.
"No problem Chris," he said
JD helped the villager into the church and left him with some of the women. Earlier JD had stored the more powerful radio in the church. He went over to the corner and saw Nathan working on Vin. The sniper was giddy and JD figured Nathan doped him up good. JD noticed Rain helping Nathan with Vin.
"Hey, Kid, What ya doin' in here?" Buck asked.
"Calling for our ride."
"It's about time," Ian complained. "We almost got killed defending this village."
"We?" Buck growled. "You hid with the women."
"I was protecting them," Ian said defensively.
"Go away from me before I shoot ya!" Buck yelled.
Ian took Buck's warning seriously and moved away. JD got the radio set up and called for their ride. Buck moved closer to Vin and watched as Nathan put a pressure bandage around Vin's thigh.
"He gonna be alright?" Buck asked in concern.
"Hey, Buck," Vin smiled waving his hand.
"Hey, Junior," Buck said grabbing his hand.
"He'll be okay," Nathan said. "Got the bleeding stopped but we need to get him to a medical facility."
"Will he be okay for an hour?" JD asked. "That's how long it will take a chopper to get here."
"Longer than I'd like but I guess we don't have much of a choice," Nathan said. "We just have to keep him quiet."
"Here, Nathan, I got some blankets," Rain said holding them out.
"Thanks," he said as he took the blankets and spread them over Vin. "Now let's take a look at your arm Buck."
JD left Buck to Nathan and went looking for Chris. He walked outside to find the villagers clearing away the dead bodies. They had the prisoners tied up and sitting in front of the church. There were only a handful left.
"Chris!" JD called. "Our ride will be here in an hour."
"That long," Ezra said in surprise. "Will Mr. Tanner be alright for that length of time?"
"Nathan said he would," JD said smiling. "Right now Vin's so high he isn't feeling a thing."
"Did you explain the situation," Chris asked.
"Told them we had a wounded man," JD answered. "But nothing about the village."
"You did good JD," Chris said clapping him on the shoulder. JD beamed from Chris's praise. "Tastanagi what will you do with these men?"
"There is a reward for enemy guerillas turned into the government," he replied. "They will bring much needed supplies to the village."
"Good," Chris nodded. "At least we won't have to deal with them."
"Chris why don't you go see Vin," Josiah suggested. "We'll take care of everything out here."
Chris nodded and slowly made his way to the church. As he went to walk inside he stopped and turned around. He watched as Ezra, JD and Josiah helped the villagers. Chris smiled. His team of seven very different men pulled it off. He just hoped they wouldn't be reduced to six.
Colombia, Indian Village 1600 hrs
Chris took Josiah's advice and headed for the church. He walked in to see Nathan, Rain and some of the other women helping with the wounded. Chris was glad that only a few villagers had been hurt. Some of Morales' injured were also in the church. Nathan was working on one of the soldiers when he looked up and saw Chris.
"Hey, Chris," Nathan said as he tied off the bandage. "Everything secure?"
"Josiah, JD and Ezra are watching the prisoners," Chris said. "How's Vin?'
"Bullet entered the upper left quadrant just below the ribs," Nathan said pointing to the spot on his body. "Bullet's still in there. I got the bleeding stopped. He was also hit in the left thigh but that one went clean through."
"He going to be okay until our ride comes?" Chris asked concerned.
"Just have to keep him quiet and treat him for shook," Nathan explained. "So far he's doing okay, Buck's keeping an eye on him."
"The knife wound was deep and he lost a good deal of blood, but he's doing fine. Just a little light headed."
Chris nodded and left Nathan to his work. He walked over to Buck and saw him sitting against the wall with his head back and his eyes closed. Vin was stretched out beside him with his head on Buck's thigh. Nathan had raised Vin's knees to treat him for shock. Vin's face was pale and a fine sheen of sweet covered his upper lip and forehead. Vin was also covered with blankets. Buck gripped Vin's right hand and Chris could see Vin's knuckles were white from squeezing so hard. As Chris approached Buck's eyes opened.
"Hey Chris," he said in a tired voice. "Everything secured?"
"Everything's fine," Chris replied as he squatted next to Vin. "How's he doing?"
"Hurts like hell but he ain't complaining," Buck said.
"Not surprised," Chris said. "He's a stubborn bastard."
"I also ain't asleep," Vin said quietly and opened his pain filled eyes.
"Next time you'll listen to me," Chris scolded.
"Doubt it," Vin smiled. "Everyone okay?"
"Everyone's fine, except you," Chris replied. "Can I get you anything?"
"Yeah, some water," Vin said licking his lips.
Chris pulled his canteen from its holder and twisted the cap off. He slid his hand behind Vin's head and placed the canteen to his lips. Vin drank greedily until he was satisfied then pulled his head away. Vin tiredly lay his head back as Chris pulled the bandana off his neck and soaked it with the water.
"Our ride will be here soon," Chris said wiping Vin's face. "You just take it easy."
"Don't worry, Chris, I'll watch Junior," Buck said giving his old friend a smile.
"Junior?" Chris asked puzzled.
"Well JD's the Kid," Buck explained. "What else was I supposed to call him?"
"Vin ain't good enough?" Vin sighed.
"Just be glad he didn't come up with something else," Chris said as he went to stand up.
"Chris!" Vin said anxiously. "Everybody comes home right?"
"Yeah," Chris said exchanging a look with Buck. "Everybody comes home."
They watched Vin relax and close his eyes. Buck nodded to Chris as he stood up and walked away. Chris nodded to Nathan as he went to the door. He stopped and looked back as Buck pulled the blankets higher on Vin and tucked them around the sniper. Chris smiled and walked out knowing Vin was in good hands.
Colombia, Indian Village 1700 hrs
The big Chinook helicopter landed an hour later in a clearing next to the village. The side door opened and a soldier jumped out carrying a stretcher and a bag. He walked over to Chris and saluted sharply.
"Corporal Henderson," he said holding the salute. "I have medical supplies for your injured."
"Thank you," Chris said returning the salute. "Josiah will show you where to go."
The corporal followed Josiah and Chris walked over to Tastanagi.
"We'll be going soon," Chris said. "Will you be alright?"
"Yes, we have some weapons to defend ourselves," he said. "Me and my people are grateful."
Chris shook the chief's hand and walked over to the church. As he approached he saw Ezra swing a young boy in circles.
"Ezra can I come with you?" he asked.
"A fine warrior like you," Ezra said smiling. "I think your people will need you more. Just remember everything I taught you."
"Never draw to an inside straight," he said promptly and Ezra ruffled his hair.
Ezra turned as they carried Vin out of the church on a stretcher. Josiah had the back while the Eban carried the front. Nathan walked close by holding up an IV. Rain walk with him. JD was helping a not too steady Buck as they headed for the chopper. The rest of the Peace Corp members followed behind. Ian Thomas was up ahead with the corporal afraid to be left behind. Ezra said his final farewells then walked towards the chopper.
"We thank you," Tastanagi said. "You will always be welcome."
Chris nodded and shook his hand one more time before he followed the others. It was a little crowded in the chopper but they managed. As the chopper rose in the air they could see all the villagers waving farewell.
Panama Air Force Base 1000 hrs
Chris sat in a chair next to Vin's bed reading the paper. After leaving the Indian village they were flown to the USS Bob Hope. Travis was waiting for them as they arrived. He'd made arrangements to have Vin flown immediately to a base in Panama to be treated while he took Ian Thomas off their hands. The rest of the Peace Corp team would be flown back to the US. Nathan learned that Rain lived in Denver and they exchanged phone numbers. The team was quickly transferred to a personnel aircraft and took off for Panama. Vin developed a fever and became disoriented during the flight. He kept repeating his rank and serial number over and over. They arrived late last night and Vin was wisked off to surgery. Buck was also taken to the hospital and was now sleeping in the bed next to Vin. Chris put down the paper when he saw Vin begin to stir.
"Master Sergeant Vin Tanner," he mumbled. "Serial number 24387777."
"Vin, wake up," Chris said as he watched Vin's eyes slowly open. "Welcome back."
"Where?" Vin said confused.
"Airforce base in Panama," Chris explained.
"I feel awful," Vin complained as he put his arm up to cover his eyes.
"That's good cause you look awful too," said a familiar voice from the next bed.
"Thanks," Vin said sarcastically turning towards Buck.
"Well I'm not surprised," Chris said. "You're on antibiotics and painkillers. Plus you still have the anesthesia in your system."
"Nice cocktail," Buck laughed.
"How long we been here," Vin said lowering his arm and looking at Chris.
"About ten hours," Chris answered. "We got in late last night."
"Damn," Vin sighed. "I don't remember a thing."
"You were pretty out of it," Buck smiled. "Kept repeating your name, rank and serial number."
"I was," Vin said glancing at Buck.
"Yup," Chris said. "Guess you thought you were in enemy hands."
"I reckon," Vin smiled. "How ya doin' Buck?"
"What this?" Buck said touching his arm. "It's just a scratch."
"Yeah a scratch that need some stitching up," Chris commented. "They kept Buck because he was dehydrated and dizzy."
"Ain't surprised," Vin smiled. "He is a little crazy."
"I'll remember that, Junior," Buck warned.
"So when do we get out of here?"
"When the doc says."
"Aw hell, Chris I'm fine."
"Damn it Chris, I hate hospitals!"
"Next time you'll listen to me when I tell you not to go alone."
"I ain't a kid!"
"Could have fooled me."
Buck lay back and smiled. Chris and Vin were arguing like brothers. Buck felt that the whole team was a family. They would more than likely get on each other's nerves now and again, especially Ezra. The closeness would make them a force to be reckoned with.
Denver 1100 hrs Two weeks later
Travis's limo pulled up to Chris front door and stopped. The colonel knew all the men were here by the various vehicles parked in the driveway. It didn't take long for the team to settle in Denver. Josiah and Nathan lived in the city already, as did JD. The youngest decided to share a condo with Buck and gave up his small apartment. Ezra moved into a luxury townhouse in a prestigious neighborhood. Vin knew he'd never be happy in the city and took Chris up on his offer to stay at the ranch in the caretaker's apartment. Travis got out of the limo and walked around the house carrying a silver brief case. He found the team in the back having a cook out. He wasn't surprised to see the young woman they rescued from Colombia standing with Nathan. The medic was arguing with Vin. The sniper was leaning heavily on a cane. It was the only evidence of his injuries. The other members were scattered around the porch. Chris saw him walking towards the porch and came down the steps.
"Colonel," Chris said greeting him. "Did Thomas tell you everything you wanted?"
"Yes he did," Travis smiled. "More than I expected. Here's the money we agreed upon."
"We decided we wanted you to send half to the Indian village," Chris said.
"Some of us agreed under protest," Ezra commented from the porch.
"The rest you can split evenly and put into out bank accounts," Chris continued, ignoring Ezra.
"Fair enough," Travis said. "When will Mr. Tanner be fully healed?"
"I'm fine," Vin said.
"Like hell your are!" Nathan argued.
"Now brothers," Josiah said stepping in before Vin could protest.
"A few more weeks," Chris smiled.
"Good," Travis said. "I might need you."
"Hey, Colonel, can we go somewhere with beautiful women?" Buck asked hopefully.
"Damn, Buck, is that all you think of?" JD asked.
"Someone's got too," Buck replied.
Travis smiled as Chris rolled his eyes at the banter of his team. Chris had picked an eclectic group of men that joined to become an elite fighting force. Travis had given them a code name they could live up to, The Magnificent Seven.
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