Part 3

by: SwordnQuill

Disclaimers: The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, Lao Ma, Alti, Borias, and everyone else who sounds familiar belong to Pac Ren and Universal Studios. I am not making money off of this story.

Genre Disclaimer: Ok. Bear with me, please, because this is kinda tough to explain. Sometime last year, I read a story on the internet that moved me so much, I was inspired to write a sort of companion piece to it. That story was "Lost Soul Walking" by DJWP. In her words, "This is NOT UberXena fiction. It just starts out like it is." The same can be said for this piece. While not directly related to "Lost Soul Walking", "Desert Storm" can be considered a sort of prequel to it. It is a story, if you will, about the lifetime before the one depicted in that fabulous, outstanding story. (Can you tell I loved it?) In addition, this is somewhat of an ambitious piece of fiction, in that I am attempting (don’t know if I’ve succeeded, but I’ve attempted) to take the entire X:WP universe and modernize it. We start, in updated terms, with my version of Xena’s betrayal by Caesar (seen in "Destiny"), and continue up through the X:WP episode known as "Remember Nothing". The plot will be very recognizable to you. It’s meant to be that way.

Special note: Because of this, Gabrielle does not appear, except in offhand mention, in a great deal of the first half of this story. Do not look for her, because you won’t find her. After all, she was not a part of ‘evil Xena’s’ life. If she were, things might have turned out differently, but because this is based on the premise of "Lost Soul Walking" it cannot happen differently. Gabrielle will, however, make her presence known, and that quite strongly, in the second half of the story. If you can hang on till then, I believe that you will not be disappointed.

Sexuality and Violence Disclaimers: We’re dealing with an updated dark Xena through much of the first half, and an updated redeemed Xena through the second. There’s gonna be violence. There are gonna be naughty words. There are also descriptions of sexual activity in this work. There are allusions to heterosexual sex, but nothing graphic. There are some graphic (though I hope tasteful) scenes of sexual expression between women as well. That is how I see the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle, and that is how I will continue to write it.

And, finally, thanks: To, as always, the incomparable Mike. A better beta and a better friend one could never hope for. Thank you also, as always, to Mary D, who rescued this story from the refuse heap and begged me to keep going on it. If you hate it, blame her. <w> Grateful and heartfelt appreciation goes out to DJWP, for continuing to write stories that grab me somewhere above the liver and giving her kind permission to mention her story in these disclaimers. If you haven’t read her stories, please, do yourself a favor and do so. Finally, this story is dedicated to a group of people without whom I would most probably be living on the streets. Elizabeth, Rachel, Sulli, and the rest of the "Get Sue to Atlanta" crew, this one’s for you!

Feedback: As always is gratefully appreciated. If you wrote to me regarding "Redemption" during the month of September to early October and I haven’t responded, please allow me the honor of apologizing in public. It was then that I was at my lowest point and making ready to move to my new home. Your words of praise and encouragement for my writing kept me firmly out of the pit of depression I was falling into and I shall be forever grateful to each and every one of you who took the time out to feed this bard. And for those of you patiently (or not so patiently) waiting for Redemption’s sequel, fear not, for with the conclusion of this piece, that piece will be started. Any and all who wish to may write me at . I’ll continue to do my best to answer each and every email. An exploding mailbox is a good thing to have. Thanks again!



by: Sword’n’Quill (Susanne Beck)

When Kael next awoke, it was to the vision of a nurse leaning over her adjusting her IV lines. The young woman broke into a smile when she saw her patient had awakened. "Welcome back to the land of the living. How do you feel?"

"I’ll live," Kael rasped. "I think."

The nurse’s grin widened as she chuckled and smoothed the last of the wrinkles from the bed linens. "Oh, you’re well on the road to recovery. Are you in pain?"

"Not much," she lied. The pain was intense, but Kael, being Kael, was determined to show no weakness, even in front of a medical professional who certainly knew better.

The nurse narrowed her eyes, though her grin didn’t falter. "Nevertheless, I think I’ll give you a little Morphine bolus. Just in case you feel like being in pain later, ok?"

Kael mustered up a smile for the young woman.

"That’s better," the nurse responded, patting Kael’s arm above her cast. After she injected the pain-killer into the IV tubing, she discarded the syringe and needle and turned back to her patient. "Is there anything I can get for you?"

Despite the volumes of fluids being pumped into her, Kael’s mouth was dry as the desert. "Water?"

"Coming right up."

Kael struggled to sit up when the nurse returned with a cup and was kept down by a strong hand to her shoulder. "Best keep still for now. You’ve got a nasty belly wound and it wouldn’t do to open up your stitches." Kael relaxed against the restraining hand and allowed the nurse to help tilt her head up so she could reach the cup. The Marine drank greedily; her first water in days.

"More?" she asked plaintively.

Smiling, the nurse refilled the cup and gave it to her patient. Sated, Kael fell back into the pillows. "Thank you," she said, her eyes again fluttering closed as the potent narcotic washed through her system, dulling the raging pain to a more manageable level.

Replacing the cup on the night stand, the nurse brushed an errant lock of hair from Kael’s forehead before quietly leaving the room to find Adellich and inform him that his patient was beginning to come around.


Kael opened her eyes to see the broad, stocky figure of Adellich hovering over her, his dark head close to her own as he listened intently to the sounds her heart and lungs were making through the bell and tubing of his stethoscope. After prodding around her chest for a few more seconds, he straightened, pulling the ‘scope out of his ears with a snap and looping it around his neck. His seamed face creased into a smile. "Good afternoon. I won’t bother asking how you feel, ‘cause I know it’s gotta be pretty crappy, right?"

"It’s not that bad," Kael replied, shifting slightly on the bed to ease the numbness of her back and buttocks.

"Well, the good thing is that it only goes uphill from here." Pulling back the light cover, the medic exposed Kael’s tanned legs and grasped at the bottom of her hospital gown. "I’m gonna have to pull this up to check on my handiwork, alright?" At the woman’s calm nod, he continued, lifting the gown and exposing the bulky bandage he’d placed over the row of sutures adorning her belly like a macabre tattoo. Pulling away the bandage, he examined the wound, eyes widening slightly at the level of healing already occurring the new incision. "Anyone ever tell you you have amazing recuperative powers, young lady?"

Kael smiled faintly and shrugged one shoulder as the medic continued his examination.

After carefully cleansing the area, Adellich placed a fresh dressing on the wound, then pulled down and straightened Kael’s gown, pulling up the coverlet to the tall woman’s mid chest. "You’re healing beautifully," he said finally, writing some notes on a chart next to the bed. "Wanna hear the damage?"


"Ok. Obviously, we were able to save your hands and legs. The damage was pretty severe, but it doesn’t look like anything that’ll give you anything more than a pain in damp weather given proper time and exercise after the casts come off. I had to take your spleen and stitch up a cut in your liver, but you’re healing well from that. And I’m sure you can feel the broken ribs, but they’ll also heal in time. Our main worry right now is infection, but you seem to be handling that pretty well. We’ll get some more blood cultures and keep you on the antibiotics till we’re sure you’re out of the woods."

"Thank you."

Adellich grinned again. "No need for that. Just glad I could help. Anything else I can do for you?"

"I’d like to try to sit up, if that’s possible."

The medic’s brow furrowed in thought. "Well, it’s bound to hurt like hell, but I don’t see the harm in it. Your belly wound’s healing well and sitting up would help you not to contract something nasty, like pneumonia." He nodded, reaching a decision. "Alright, we’ll crank the bed up a little. But you be sure and tell me when enough’s enough, alright?" When Kael’s dark head nodded again, Adellich bent down and grasped the hand crank at the bottom of the bed. With slow movements, he steadily raised the head of the bed, keeping a steady eye on both his patient and the ever present cardiac monitor resting on a shelf above her head. When the heartrate jumped suddenly, he stopped cranking, straightening and coming once again to stand beside her. "You alright?"

After a moment of calm, steady breathing, Kael nodded again. "Yeah. Just trying to get used to a new perspective."

Adellich laughed, squeezing her shoulder fondly. He checked the wall clock beside the bed, then the chart’s medication sheet. "You’ve got another hour before your next Morphine dose, but I can give you a little something to tide you over if you need it."

"No. That’s alright. I’d like to stay awake for awhile."

The medic checked his patient’s coloring and the cardiac monitor again, pleased that both were returning to normal quickly. "Alright then. Just don’t be afraid to ask for something if the pain gets too bad, alright?" He looked down at her and smiled again before releasing her warm shoulder from his grip. "If you’re in the mood for visitors, Tovah would like to talk with you some more." His tone indicated that all she had to do was shake her head and she’d be left alone.

"I don’t mind," Kael replied, reassuring him. "Send her in."

With a final smile, accompanied by a friendly wink, Adellich turned and left the room.

The door reopened bare moments later to admit Tovah, who stepped gingerly into the room, her face lighting up into a smile when she saw the woman awake and sitting somewhat up in the bed. "Hello again," she said, coming to stand beside the bed. "How’re you feeling?"

Sighing inwardly, Kael wondered if she should just write up a sign saying ‘I’m fine’ and tack it up on the headboard of her bed. Looking down at her casted hands, her smirk showed on her lips as she realized the absurdity of that thought. "I’m alright," she said softly, her gaze meeting the warm brown eyes looking compassionately down at her. "The medic said you wanted to talk to me."

Nodding, Tovah pulled up the rolling stool and sat down beside the woman, her hands clasped in her lap. "Well, I know that this is really none of my business, but I . . .we . . .were kinda wondering who you are and how you ended up in a Republican Guard prison bunker. You didn’t have any identification on you when we found you, and your description doesn’t match any of the MIA files we were able to locate. You speak my language like a native, but something tells me you’re not kin."

Kael looked away from the open gaze of the woman seated beside her, scanning the room again. "I don’t know if I’m comfortable sharing that information with you," she said softly, in a tone of regret.

"I understand, of course, given everything that you’ve been through already. You’re not required to tell us anything." She shrugged slightly. "More just curiosity, I suppose." Shifting slightly in the stool, she smiled. "How about if I tell you a little about us and how we came to get you out of that hell hole?" Sharing secret information may not have been the wisest course of action, but, for some reason, Tovah felt that she had nothing to fear from this quiet stranger she’d rescued. At the woman’s nod, Tovah began. "Well, you already know my name, Tovah Rybak. I’m a Commander in the Israeli army, stationed just inside Syria. A few days ago, we got word that one of our planes was shot down in Iraqi airspace. There were eight survivors, as far as we know. Our people have been keeping an eye out at all the potential holding areas, and when word came that five people were seen dragged from a truck at the bunker in Ar Rutbah, we thought that maybe we’d found our missing people." She sighed sadly. "Obviously, we were wrong. But, of course, we didn’t know that then, so we stormed the bunker and found you and your friends. We got out and exploded the bunker, then found out that our primary escape route was blockaded. So I sent the others along the secondary route and took you here, to a safe house in Karbala. We patched you up and, well, here you are."

Kael looked at Tovah intently. Then she sighed, turning her head away. "You should have left me to die with the others," she said in a low voice.

Swallowing, Tovah stood and reached out a hand, cupping Kael’s jaw and gently bringing her face back around. "I couldn’t do that," she said. "We found you, horribly injured, but with enough strength of will to cling to life amidst all that dirt and depravity. I couldn’t just leave you there to breathe your last in that den of hell."

"It would have been better if you did," Kael ground out, her voice filled with self-loathing.

Tovah felt a tendril of fear snake through her belly at the woman’s words, but reminded herself that this woman was not her enemy. "I couldn’t do that," she repeated forcefully.

Kael closed her eyes for a long moment, before forcing herself out of the gutter of self-recrimination. No matter how much she wished it, the fact of the matter is that she was not dead. She was alive thanks to some very brave, very good souls and she’d better make the most of it. "Kael," she rasped finally, before clearing her throat and trying again. "My name is Kael Evan Androstos." Taking a deep breath, she gave a short mental shrug, giving in to the need to tell this stranger the information her men had died trying to preserve. "I’m a Master Gunnery Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps." She laughed almost silently. "Or at least I was."

Tovah’s eyes widened in shock. "You’re an American?"

"Born and bred," Kael replied in English.

"I didn’t know the Americans let women go behind enemy lines," Tovah remarked, also in English. Her accent was light, her words easily understood.

"They don’t. Normally. I’m one of the few exceptions." An internal pain having nothing to do with her wounds shuttered Kael’s expressive eyes once again. "Apparently, they made a mistake with me."

Looking up, Tovah could see the heart rate on the monitor increase dramatically. She looked back down at Kael. "Are you in pain?"

The blue eyes which met her own could have been those of a corpse, so empty were their depths. "No," came the response before those eyes closed once again, signaling the end of the conversation.

Tovah rose from her place by the bedside, reaching out, intending to lay a comforting hand on the American’s broad shoulder. Her hand hovered for a moment, short of its goal as the Israeli took in the closed off expression on Kael’s beautiful face. After a moment that seemed to span eternity, Tovah dropped her hand back to her side and spun on her heel, leaving Kael alone with her thoughts once more.


25 July 1990 – 14 August 1990 Israeli Safe-House. Karbala, Iraq

The days passed quickly for the people inside the house now behind enemy lines in the biggest war in decades. Heads were clustered around monitors as Iraqi tanks crossed the boarder into Kuwait. Concerned Israelis watched as American President Bush declared war on Iraq. Via encrypted satellite feeds, the group was able to watch CNN as the first bombs landed on Baghdad.

Slowly, in pairs and small groups, the house was evacuated under cover of night. Others remained behind, supplying allied forces with accurate bombing targets, well aware of the fact that their lives were at risk by enemy and friendly forces alike.

On the second floor of the house, Kael continued her convalescence. Her mind and body raged against her immobilization; itching to be out among the combatants winning the war. She damned herself in a million different ways for failing her duty to herself, her squad and her country. Damned the injuries that kept her pinned down to a soft bed while her countrymen were dying for a cause she needed to be a part of.

The only thing which brightened her dark mood were the visits from Tovah. The two women developed a surprisingly deep bond in the space of a few short weeks. The two normally reticent women found many things to talk about during those first days of war as bombs shuddered the foundation of their safe house and lit the night sky ablaze.

One night, when suffering a painful hamstring cramp, Kael was surprised when her companion simply jabbed at the nerve center of her groin, deadening all feeling in her leg, as strong fingers worked out the cramp. Fascinated, Kael asked to learn more about the technique, and many hours were spent in the study of the ancient procedure. Though her hands were casted and she couldn’t practice the art, Kael was sure that, should the time ever come when she would need to use it, she would have no trouble imitating what she had learned from the tiny Israeli soldier.

At night, her dreams were filled with smoke and fire. With the screams of dying men and women. Aided by the concussions of bombs going off in the near distance. The shelling was getting dangerously close to the city proper. It would soon be time to abandon the safe house completely or risk being killed in the nightly air raids.


15 August 1990. Israeli Safe House. Karbala, Iraq.

She was propped up on her elbows on a hay filled cot in a room which smelled strongly of bitter herbs. Long needles sprung forth from her legs which were broken and twisted, aching and throbbing. A young woman sat next to her on the cot, speaking in a language she knew she should understand, but didn’t. Behind her, a tall man stood, translating the young woman’s words.

There was a loud crash, and the door blew open. Heavily armed men, dressed in the armor of Roman soldiers, burst into the room, shouting. Her companion sprung from the bed, fighting the soldiers in a fury as she looked on, helpless. A Roman raised a crossbow, it’s bolt aimed at her heart. She watched as his finger tightened on the trigger. She could hear the whistle as the bolt left its housing, speeding toward her. Her eyes widened, then narrowed as a brown shape flew in front of the bolt, preventing it from killing her. The figure landed her arms, a bolt through its back. She pulled away, pulling the figure with her, lifting the head, turning it to the light. It was the young woman. Her friend. ‘M’Lila’, her mind supplied. With kind, loving eyes M’Lila looked at her, trying to impart a final message in that final glance. Then they closed forever as the woman rolled from her grasp.

She looked up, a feral rage far beyond anything she had ever felt, filled her body until there was nothing but hatred. She could feel her mouth stretch and curl into the snarl of a wild beast as her broken body coiled. The soldiers came up from their places on the floor, running toward her, intent on the kill. Her nostrils flared. Blood scented the air. Her grin widened.

Flipping off the bed, she landed on her undamaged arms, using her shattered legs to level two of the soldiers with thundering kicks to the head. She sprawled back on the bed, her legs incapable of holding her upright. Another soldier came, and with a vicious side kick, she sent him across the room and into the blazing fireplace. The smell of charred flesh perfumed the room as his face burst into flames.

And still they came, yelling like savages. She grabbed one, broke his knee, and drew a sword across his neck, a feeling of almost sexual ecstasy coursing through her body. She threw back her head, reveling in it, letting it wash through her soul. She impaled another soldier through the guts with the same sword.

Still another came. She headbutted him, then grabbed his falling body, pulling it between her screaming legs. She felt herself using the technique Tovah . . .’M’Lila, her mind supplied again . . .had taught her. The soldier gurgled at her feet, paralyzed

"You’ll be dead in thirty seconds," she found herself saying. "But know this. You won’t be the last. Tell Hades to prepare himself. A new Xena is born tonight. With a new purpose in life. Death."

Her dream was fractured as Kael felt someone shaking her. Her eyes popped open. "M’Lila?" she whispered hoarsely to the woman standing above her.

Tovah cocked her head. "It’s Tovah," she replied. "We need to go now. We just got word. The Americans are getting ready to bomb the military targets right outside of the city. We need to be out of the area before the bombs fall."

The doors opened again, admitting Adellich who sported tousled hair and a three day growth of beard. He flashed a smile at Tovah and Kael. "Ah good. You’re up. I’ll have the men bring in the stretcher and we’ll stow you aboard the truck."

"Wait," Kael ordered as he turned back to the door.


"Get these casts off me."

Adellich turned completely around, his eyes wide with shock. He shot a glance to an equally alarmed Tovah before switching back to the reclining woman. "Say that again, please?"

"You heard me. Get these casts off me now." Though she didn’t remember more than scattered threads of her dream, Kael was filled with a strong sense of foreboding.

"Are you crazy?" the medic asked, coming to stand beside the bed. "Your wounds are just starting to heal. You could cripple yourself permanently if I take these casts off now."

"I realize that. I also realize that we’re about to go out into a war zone. There’s no way I’m going to ride in the back of a truck unable to defend myself and you. I’m a soldier. Now get these damn casts off of me or I swear by any god you name I’ll smash them apart." The very air around her snapped with command.

Adellich looked at Tovah, who was looking intently at Kael. After a long moment, the commander nodded. "Do as she says."

"Are you crazy too?"

"Do it. She knows what the dangers are."

Throwing up his hands in disgust, the medic went into one of the back rooms, returning with several boxes of splints and the cast cutter. "I want to go down on record that I’m only doing this under the strongest protest."

"So noted," Tovah replied. "Now get to work. Please. We don’t have much time."

Grumbling under his breath, Adellich set to work. Within a very few moments, all the casts had been removed. The medic noted with some shock that Kael’s wounds had healed abnormally fast. The swelling was gone completely and only residual bruising could be seen. An untrained eye would take her limbs for sound. He knew better.

Kael looked down at her freed hands, breathing deeply and straining to close them into fists. The pain was sharp but the gratification sharper. Grinning in triumph, she relaxed her tight muscles, allowing the medic to put both arms in molded plastic splints.

After Adellich had splinted her legs, Kael eagerly swung them off of the bed, only to be stopped by a strong hand to her shoulder. "Not so fast," the medic said sharply. "Making a fist is one thing. Trying to stand on those shattered legs is quite another. Leave me some dignity as your physician and let the men carry you down to the truck, alright?"

After a moment, Kael relaxed against his grip and nodded. Grunting in satisfaction, Adellich ushered in the two litter-bearers, then helped Kael onto the stretcher. Retrieving a large pack filled with medical supplies, he nodded, encircling Tovah with one arm. "Alright then. Let’s get out of here."


A short time later, Kael was stowed aboard the truck, her stretcher secured to one of the long benches by thick leather straps. Tovah and Adellich sat opposite the American on the other bench, clothed again in their accursed Republican Guard uniforms. Two sub-machine guns were stowed safely beneath the benches, out of direct sight but easily retrieved if needed. One of the litter bearers sat in the driver’s seat while the other went with his compatriots in a second purloined Iraqi truck.

The truck coughed loudly as it was started up, and with a rattle, the group made their way across the bomb blasted desert to a far off safe zone, each trapped within the dark well of their own thoughts.


16 August 1990. ~50 miles west of the boarder between Iraq and Saudi Arabia

The flight to freedom had been excruciating for the soldiers, especially those sitting in the back of the truck. Avoiding main thoroughfares and constantly streaming patrols of soldiers, Iraqi and allied alike, caused a merciless pounding on tender bodies.

Kael had finally fallen into a troubled, sweat-stained sleep about seven hours into the journey. Noting this, Adellich reached under the bench and removed his medical bag. Peering inside, he brought out a pre-filled syringe of Morphine.

"What are you doing?" Tovah asked.

"This has gotta be agony on her," Adellich replied in a whisper. "She’d never ask for help while awake, so I figure I’ll give it to her when she’s asleep."

Tovah snickered. "You always were known for your bravery, Ben."

Pulling a face, the medic stood, supporting himself against the bench as the truck hit yet another deep rut in the desert. Straightening, he made his way across the truck bed, then lifted the light coverlet he’d placed over Kael’s reclining body. A quick swipe with an alcohol pad to her hip and the injection was administered.

Kael’s eyes shot open, her left hand moving in a blur and knocking the now empty syringe from the medic’s hand. "What are you doing?" she growled.

Adellich looked slightly sheepish as he rubbed his now bruised wrist. "Just giving you something for the pain."

A sable eyebrow rose. "Did I say I was in pain?"

"You didn’t have to."

Opening her mouth to say more, the American yawned instead. "You son of a bitch," she mumbled as her eyelids betrayed her body’s signals to keep awake and aware.

"Relax," the medic said, laying a gentle hand on Kael’s broad shoulder. "We’re almost there."

" . . .kill you . . . ." was all Kael could say before her body gave in to the seductive call of the drug.

Tovah laughed as Adellich, still rubbing his wrist, rejoined her on the bench. "Can’t wait to see how you’re gonna get yourself out of this one," she teased, patting the medic’s shoulder in mock sympathy.

"Don’t tease an injured man," he grumbled, holding up his arm and asking for sympathy with his eyes.

"It was your own fault. You . . . ." Tovah cut off her words, stiffening her posture and cocking her head.

"What is it? Tovah?"

Tovah threw up a hand for silence, her hearing strained against the loud rumbling of the truck. The distinctive sound of semi-automatic weapons fire sounded uncomfortably close. Straining still further, she could pick up muffled shouts. More fire, and the truck came to a lurching halt.

"Shit," Tovah whispered, reaching down for her concealed weapon.

"What is it? What’s wrong? Why are we stopping?"

"I’m not sure. Either the Iraqis found us out, or the allies think we’re the enemy. Either way, we need to be ready." She nodded to him, then cut her eyes to the floor beneath the bench.

Taking a deep breath, Adellich bent over and retrieved his weapon, checking all the clips to be sure it was loaded and in proper working condition. He returned her nod, hefting the weapon. "What now?"

"Stay quiet and let me do the talking. Just get ready to fight if we need to. Keep an eye on Kael."

"I can do that."

The back flap of the truck was lifted by the long nose of a weapon. A masked figure, dressed in desert camouflage ducked underneath the flap, pointing his weapon at the occupants. "Put down your weapons and raise your hands above your heads!" the figure commanded in Arabic, gesturing at them with his gun to make sure his statements were understood.

Laying her weapon on the floor, Tovah straightened and lifted her hands above her head. "We have an injured soldier," she replied in Arabic.

"I can see that," the soldier returned. "Now get up slowly and come towards me. No funny stuff or I’ll blow your head off. You understand me?"

Tovah did as she was commanded, rising slowly and peering closely at the man’s uniform. She took a chance. "We’re not Iraqi," she said, slowly walking toward the heavily armed soldier. "We’re allies."

A harsh chuckle sounded from behind the mask. "Yeah, and my mother’s dining with the Queen next Sunday. Now shut up and move!"

"I’m totally serious. It should be obvious to you that I’m a woman. How many women do you think the Iraqis let in their army?"

"I don’t give a shit if you’re a fucking gorilla. You’re wearing an Iraqi uniform. That makes you the enemy. Now get your ass outta the truck before I cut you in two!"

As Tovah ducked beneath the tent flap, the soldier noticed Adellich, and his gun, for the first time. There was a short, sharp report, and the medic flew against the truck’s bulkhead, his weapon flying from his grasp. Blood spurted from a hole in his throat.

"Ben!" Tovah shouted, whirling.

The soldier clouted her across the back with a blow from his weapon. The Israeli slumped to the ground, stunned.

Weapon fire cutting through the drug induced haze of her sleep, Kael struggled back into consciousness. She came awake quickly, bringing her body up, leaning on her elbows for support. With a sweep of her eyes, she noted the now dead Adellich, his weapon near her cot, the slumped form of Tovah, and the soldier gripping his weapon tightly.

Raising her right arm to her mouth, Kael ripped the velcro closure to the splint open with her teeth, then reached down to grab the medic’s weapon as the soldier busied himself with trying to remove a struggling Tovah from the truck. "You son of a bitch!" Kael screamed, bringing her weapon up.

The soldier dropped Tovah to bring his own weapon up. The Israeli grabbed the gun by the barrel and shoved, causing the wild shots to fly over her head, missing Kael completely. Adellich’s thick body danced as more ammunition entered it.

Pushing the soldier away, Tovah scrambled back to her feet, heading toward Kael and her weapon. "Don’t, Kael. Please. They’re allies."

Kael shook her off, weapon raised again as the soldier’s head popped back up under the canvas flap, this time joined by two of his comrades. Kael squeezed the trigger, sending one of the men flying away from the truck. The second lifted his weapon and fired toward Kael.

As if seeing it in slow motion, Tovah felt her body spring over the short distance that separated herself from her American friend. With a yell, she covered Kael’s body with her own. Three bullets tore into her back. She felt the sudden urge to cough, spraying Kael’s white hospital gown with blood. She watched the patterns interestedly, wondering if this was how it felt to die.

Lifting a head which felt like it now weighed a ton, she looked into Kael’s ice blue eyes for a moment that seemed to span eternity. The look of cold death in those eyes was her companion in her journey to oblivion.

Kael broke the gaze and shifted her hips to buck Tovah’s dead body from her. The corners of her mouth turned up in a snarl of utter rage. "Pray to whatever gods you believe in, cause I’m sendin’ you to meet ‘em." Depressing the trigger, Kael mowed down the two soldiers staring at her from the back of the truck. Lurching to her feet, biting back a shout of pain as her legs tried their best to bear her heavy weight, the American steadied herself against the bench, then turned. Shuffling steps, each a study in agony, brought her to the back of the truck. Without even looking outside to aim, she depressed the trigger of her weapon again, shredding the canvas flap and sending screaming missiles into the desert heat. Screams of the dying men played an orchestra in her ears.

Shooting until she ran out of ammunition, Kael picked up Tovah’s weapon. Standing behind one steel support strut, she eased the canvas flap away with the muzzle of the gun. The desert was littered with bodies. She counted ten in all from her vantage point. Freezing in place, she listened carefully. There was no sound but the howling of the desert wind.

Grunting in satisfaction, the soldier lowered herself to a sitting position in the bed of the truck, then gingerly slipped down to the ground. Her knees gave way immediately, dumping her to the desert sands. Raising up a bloody hand, she gripped the truck bed and pulled herself back onto her feet. The hard packed sand conspired against her, threatening to take her feet out from under her.

Gritting her teeth against the pain, she slowly made her way around the truck. There, hiding behind a wheel and looking in the opposite direction, was the last of the patrol. "Nighty night," she whispered, pulling on the trigger and killing the hiding soldier.

Going to the front of the truck, she pulled the door open, not surprised when the dead body of the Israeli driver fell out into her arms. The weight of his body bore her to the ground again and this time she could not stop the scream of pain as it tore its way out of her throat.

Rolling the body off of her, Kael stood again, looking down at the soldier she had murdered. On his breast was a small emblem. The American flag.

Taking a quick look at the corpses littering the desert, Kael noted the similar flag on each. She tipped her head to the sky, a howl sounding from an opened mouth.

Grimacing, she pulled herself up into the now empty truck and started off, fleeing into an unknown future and escaping the torturous past.

To Be Continued...


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