Episode 76 (PART 1) - Not the glittering weapon fights the fight, but rather the hero's heart

It was early Thursday morning when Malloy and I reached the pond trail. Redman, Dr. Walker and Roy had taken a different route. They were now heading towards Beacon Hill State Park where they would attempt to drive the abandoned van out of the Mulberry Ridge. I served as the point man, Malloy behind me. The half-mile trail led through a hardwood forest, along a small ridge with views of the spruce swamp, finally exposing the baffling Mulberry Pond. We kept a steady pace, steering clear from the loose gravel which could announce our presence. Clinking metallic sounds could be heard over the swamp. - They’re here! I wonder what they are doing…- I told Malloy, picking up the pace a bit. A hundred yards away from the pond the clanging became louder. We hid behind a thicket and glanced at the shore. - Oh, my God! - I whispered in alarmed. At the south end of the Mulberry Pond, Ivanov’s men were dumping barrels of toxic waste in the water. - They are cleaning up the Laboratory… getting rid of evidence, perhaps - said Malloy softly. Baxter stood atop the truck handing down metal drums to two other men in hazmat suits. Out in the distance, Dr. Ivanov and Dr. Johnson inspected the operation carefully. Beside them, a strange figure wearing a red and black jumpsuit stood quietly. - That must be Ben, or whatever they call him right now! - I pointed out to Malloy. She acknowledged it. Ben had some sort of life-support or monitoring equipment attached to his chest and face; a grotesque addition to his abominable looks. - If Ivanov is here, then there must be more of his guards around. Besides, he must have another form of transport. The Humvee alone just will not do. - I told Malloy skeptically. - What are you suggesting? - Malloy asked me. - I glanced over to the pond again; more metal drums were tossed in the water. - I think you should stay put while I take a look around. We’ll keep in touch through the radios - I proposed. Malloy didn’t look too happy. - Ok, make it fast would you. And don’t forget your promise: “nothing heroic” remember? - she replied miserably while I ready to leave. I didn’t waste any time. I cut across the swamp and circled around the small ridge, a move that brought me closer to Oak Knoll. Using the thick vegetation for cover, I climbed the hillside to the top of the knoll, where I could get a better view of the pond’s adjacent areas. - Bingo! - Not far down, in fact, right in front of me, I spotted Jill’s helicopter and our jeep. Looking closely at the scene, I caught a glimpse of someone sitting on the ground by the Jeep. - Sgt. Palmer!!! - I thought out loud. But I had to be certain. Slowly, I headed down hill to better investigate the area. Behind a rock, I confirmed my suspicions: Rodriguez, the Professor and Sgt. Palmer were being held as prisoners. Two guards looked after the vehicles and the prisoners. The first one looked like a helicopter pilot. The second was a large man, wearing civilian clothes. He was one mean looking guy. All the prisoners seemed to be coherent enough; although Sgt. Palmer looked like he took a good beating. Suddenly, the burly guard muttered something to the helicopter pilot and immediately took off up the knoll… right on my direction! For a minute I thought he had seen me. But he stayed on course, heading towards Ivanov and the others. - That was close… - I said to myself with relief in my voice. I waited till the large man disappeared into the woods and called Malloy on the radio… - Warrior 2, this is Warrior 1… Be advised that we have company. Oh, and…. It just turned out that I’m not a good promise keeper after all …Warrior 1 out.

by Corporal John Harris, April 26, 2007