Old Patriots never die . . . they just pass to a higher grade of service.

e stopped the truck and switched places with his wife.  "Pedal to the metal when I say, don't stop for anything" he instructed.  "Hammer down, red line on the tach if you want to live."

With that, he lowered the passenger seat back down to see far it would go, then pulled it back to a comfortable position.  He didn't realize how futile that action would be in just seconds.  His intentions were to hide from immediate view thinking they wouldn't stop a woman by herself, but if trouble started he wanted to ready to start delivering lead.

He reached into the floor, retrieved and inserted a magazine pulling the carriage group back and letting it slam home on the AR.  He looked very serious at her and said "OK, lets go."

He sat facing forward with the weapon across his lap and concealed it with a coat draped over it for concealment.

The street was pretty much empty, but he had a feeling there'd be a gauntlet they'd have to run in order to get out of town toward the mountains.  He got his first clue as the sun glinted off a barrel that was coming through the bushes.  He pulled his 45 out and felled the guy with a quick two-shot burst, screaming at Sharon to "stomp it!"

The truck lurched forward and suddenly they were hearing the fire from all around.  The truck was taking a beating and if it didn't get them through this next block, they'd both be riddled to shreds within a single minute.  Will was extremely glad he'd taken some precautions and had the little GMC beefed up at some important locations of the light vehicle for protection.

Even so it certainly was no armored vehicle.  One trick he was he'd done and upon which he was depending to maintain the tires at least long to get them through the fight was he'd learned from one of the men in his group.

The man removed the air from the tires and put two cans of fix-a-flat and an entire can of foam in each before re-inflating them.  Made it ride rougher than a log wagon with square wheels, but hopefully they'd hold up long enough to get them through the gauntlet.  Also, he had placed 1/4" steel in the doors and back.  Sure was mighty little, but he was thankful for anything during these moments.

By this time, they'd gotten halfway through the gauntlet and Will was firing as fast as he could pull that bang switch.  And he was hitting home too.  There was rifle fire as well as a dozen pistols firing at them.  Sharon was weaving back and forth like a woman gone mad and firing her own .45 as fast as she could gain a target and pull the trigger.  She was very adept at speed loading mags and driving as she had practiced many hours for just this type of scenario  She had expended four thirteen round mags by the time they cleared the block in the road.

But her main focus was getting up that street.  How that little Jimmy stayed together is anyone's guess.  The tires held up but it wouldn't be too long before they were flattened. All the windows had been knocked out and no telling how many bullet holes would be found, but it screamed down the street in second gear to give it as much power as possible.

In just a few seconds they were right at the block set up in the middle of the road.  A couple of cars were placed end to end across the street with only a narrow passage between at the center.  Three stacks of wooden pallets stacked six foot tall stood shakily in that hole, but Will knew that wouldn't not stop them in this mad rush.

Once they got past that hurdle, they would have to continually swerve back and forth at various patterns to prevent a sniper from putting a shot in their back.  Between the location of the gauntlet and the safety of the awaiting plane was a mere 1/4 mile, but at this time it looked like a hundred miles.

"Hit that stack of pallets right in the middle with everything you've got and don't slow down for nothin" he screamed.  It was the last thing she would hear him say as suddenly, she flinched and a confused look came over her face.  She could see him firing but couldn't hear a thing.  Something is very wrong she realized.

Something else seemed strange.  The entire scene seemed to be passing by them in slow motion.  It was as if she were outside the vehicle looking down on the scene, seeing each bullet fired and following its trajectory toward the target.  She was thankful none of the low cost mercenaries had much training in the art of marksmanship.  Mostly, they were just spraying hot lead in the general direction of the speeding pickup.

She wondered how many of their own guys the idiots on the opposite side of the street had been killed by via the massive crossfire.  She pushed a little harder on the footfeed keeping the hammer down on that little beast that was carrying them through the foray like a wounded donkey.

By now she was bleeding heavily down the left side of her face, but she was still driving with a determined force of making it to the mountain no matter what.  She looked to her right at Will and saw him slump slowly toward the dash, his torso being held only by his seat belt.

Of all the things that was going through her mind, the most prominent was the final portion of the mission directly before them: making the mountain.  Hopefully there would be a supporting ring of fire that would stave off pursuers.  Ginger was the pilot of the huge plane that was their ride to safety.

She'd received stern instructions to be ready to scream out of there at exactly two-thirty.  If they were not there by two-forty-five, get out of there.

Why Sharons' mind chose that particular moment to recap the mission she had no clue.  Only a half hour before they sat outside the Russian Embassy waiting for the turncoat to arrive.  They had to find out who the leak was in their operation and silence him before he relayed sensitive information to the ruskies.

True to the word of their informant, the Benedict Arnold of their group drove toward the huge building exactly at two-twenty each day.

It was kind of a fluke they'd happended across the turncoat in the first place.  He'd hacked their computers somehow and was delivering sensitive information to a recipient of the Russian Embassy in Florida.  Surprised that there was even a Russian Embassy there, they knew it had to be taken out.  Why Florida of all places?

The elusive and offending algorithm placed in the computer was to send all emails at precisely 0 two hundred hours.  It was this at this precise time that the computer nerds would be changing shifts, and it was very unlikely that someone would catch it.  Two weeks prior it had been discovered and some investigative tech work had discovered the entire setup.  Since then all email traffic had been curtailed and false information had been sent.

When William and the General had been approached with it, they asked if there was a log.  Alfred, the top tech was able to anwer affirmative, and then produced a printout of it.  The transmission system had been set up just the day before, but it had been discovered by a little private algorithm he'd written and installed on the sly.

There was indeed an informant who had delivered a message just prior to General Randolph learning of the inside leak.  They didn't know who it was, but, they knew sensitive info was getting outside; and now they knew how and when it was happening.

The first thing General Randolph did was confab with the Four setting up bogus information to send in place of the real info.  Next was to deal with the matter.  William drew straws with the General for the mission taking the short straw.  Because of that William and Sharon were now closer to death than they would have imagined.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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Chapter I