ll the girls had taken martial arts hand to hand combat from the master himself, Sung Wu.  They were yammering for some action and quoted their work in training as qualifications.

Each had mastered pistol defense and offense, rifle, sniper, and several had begun learning to fly as well.  They performed admirably in their lines of duty and had the red hot patriotic fire of freedom burning as hot as the men.  Several would die in the line of duty as many of the men had.  That was the thing about war.  Death was no respecter of persons and was a constant companion and one could lose their life at any second.

While they were extremely careful who they allowed into their group, many had come in since the General was rescued from the Hanoi Hilton who had proved out unworthy.  And more than one had fallen, taken out one by one in physical brushes with those determined to keep BunkerHill safe as well as protect all who lived there.

There were many jobs that were being undertaken all around the country which would have all been placed under the category of espionage by the rogue government.  They harassed the rogue military troops, blew up bunkers, carried out assassinations, even blew up two munitions trains, tracks and installations.

The hardest fight they had fought was an attack on the very bunker in which they were living and working.  They were fortunate that it was not an attack by professional armies, but a bunch of thugs who were led by one of Obama's rent-a-cops; a self-appointed leader.  An investigation was under way to figure out how they ever got wind of the bunker system.  That was the second of two attacks.

But what the Old Patriots didn't kill in the defense of the Bunker, the rest were captured and summarily executed by firing squad after a tribunal.  With the numbers of thug gangs roaming around seemingly living above the law, deliberately killing, maiming, robbing, molesting and destroying anything they could get their hands on, it was not wise to put them back out on the street, neither imprison them.

So during the midst of the time when America was in transformation and being invaded on multiple fronts by many foreign militias, (including the UN), there was a huge amount of internal espionage all over.  The Travis and Randolph militias were one of several in the Texas area alone.  And they were fighting desperately against the invaders.

There were the drug cartels, Mexicans, Muslim, Russian, plain old trash thugs who had rather steal than work just to name a few all of which the Old Patriots were battling.  So when a job comes up like the sinking of the 'drilling' rig, (actually carrying munitions and small arms ordinance), it's imperative that soldiers need to be pulled from the battle lines and sent in its direction.

On the ship Donny and Rita now worked at scuttling, the "new man" hired from the local dock to help in the kitchen had rendered the entire crew inoperable; several which had died.  Being a delivery ship it did not have a large crew, under two hundred, but all were Russians and posed a very capable menace to the US.

The ship had been sabotaged in several ways, all of which lended a hand to the eventual sinking of the rig.  On the last of April, Chervona Ukraina, a 'driller company' was sent in by the Russians to 'exploit the oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico.'  Leonard had been hired the same day to act as gourmet chef, and started his part of the sabotage the same day.  The end of the story would be - (or at least Rita hope it would be . . . ) was scuttled within less than two weeks of her arrival, had slipped beneath the waves.

Another Old Patriot, Captain Charles Ranier, had been sent to gain access at the Panama Canal as a pilot, or, one who would guide the ship through the entirety of the man made canal.  While on board he used the restroom and set a timed release of virus.  By the time the vessel made the Gulf of Mexico, many were sick, some dead.

Rita enjoyed listening to his stories from the time she was rescued from the Hanoi Hilton.  She thought fondly of him and then felt drawn when he spoke of his wife who'd died a few years back.  When she passed, he left the employ of the Panama Canal Guideance pilots and traveled abroad.  She never learned how he came to be in the city where the LMA's had originated.

With a few well-placed centuries ($100 bills), he was allowed to take the place of the guide.  He knew the Panama Canal well due to his experience in guiding the ships.  So 'it wasn't that big of a deal . . .' the guide said.

Rita and Donny and Captain Ranier had taken all the precautions of inoculation against the final sickness that invaded the ship, sneaking aboard and finishing off the remaining skeleton crew.  Still quite a handful even though they were weak.  Captain Ranier had set the small charges on the comm systems to prevent calling for help.

Within fourteen hours they had the charges planted and ready to set off.  That's when the first timer was destroyed and the entire explosive charge setup literally blew up around their ears.

But that was another miracle.  The munitions themselves had not blown.  It left quite a question in the minds of both Patriots, but they sure didn't have the time to search the ship now.  While they were searching for some method of getting off the ship to shore, Donny found some flares with which to drop into closet containing flammables.  It wouldn't be long before the munitions would start "cooking off."

When Donny had been blown overboard, he was fortunate enough to not be knocked out, and was able to gain access back into the big rig by using one of the lower compartment doors used in loading.  He simply swam to the ladder, hoisted himself up and into the lower compartment.  He then had to explore his way through to the top.

He didn't figure Rita had a chance standing where she was with the entire tower coming down around her.  It's just impossible to think that both of them came away unscathed.

When the last vestiges of light sank behind the horizon bathing the ship in darkness, they pulled the self inflate ripcord, and launched it out the loading berth.  By this time she was extremely low in the water, and they had to duck down to miss the top of the lower berth.  The Chervona Ukrainian (Chervona meant red in Russian), wouldn't be surface side much longer, maybe another five hours or so.

It took them the better part of the night to slip away and land close to where they had launched.  Donny deflated the miniature safety boat with a quick slash of his huge hunting knife and buried it in the sand by some beach bush a hundred feet from shore line.  By the time he was finished with that chore, Rita had already pulled the plane from under the camo netting leaving it where it fell, had it started and performing a quick run up list.

Within the hour it would be getting light.  Hopefully they would be home by then for a nice rest after debriefing.  Donny ran to board the 172, and Rita let it skim across the beach to gain some runway length, then turned it around and into the wind, pushing the throttle forward to the dash.

Rita pulled the yoke back as soon as it started rolling to pull as much weight off the nose gear as possible.  Within a few seconds they were aloft rolling through a final circle of the ship, then turned toward Texas.  They kept low skimming the treetops to avoid the radar.  This would be a night to remember.  But in their line of work, they would be reminded time and again the dangers they faced on a daily basis.

Final explosion of the Chervana Ukraine

The final explosion came when Donny triggered the remote detonation switch.  He figured all the charges had went off, but the largest had not.  It was set in one of the monstrous fuel tanks, but had failed.  Had it went off, there would have been no escaping death.  Now, it finally went off, much to their benefit.

The last they saw of that job was in the circle they took out over the ocean for a final look and pictures of the monster before heading home.  Suddenly, the sky was bathed in a splendor of fire as the final explosion ripped through the fuel compartments of the Chervona Ukraina.  The shock wave rattled the little plane heavily as Rita rolled her to the right.

The huge ship was listing some forty five degrees, and would probably be on the bottom of the five hundred feet of water in which she now floated, albeit precariously, within an hour.  There was nothing anyone could do now to prevent her from slipping to her watery grave beneath the waves.

~   ~   ~   ~   ~  

With each dangerous mission from which they emerged unscathed, they were reminded that it was just another click of the counter counting down to zero of their own time to meet their maker.  Then, it could mean death, maiming, or seeing some of their closes friends die.  It was just a matter of fact, a way of life, a modus operandi of nature.

And they loved every minute of it.  When it came time to meet the Grim Reaper for themselves, they wanted to grab him by the hand and say "Lets Go!  Been a great ride!" instead of shrinking back and "oh no, not now . . ."

One in this type of continual danger pitied those who languished in ho-hum boring lives.  They absolutely could not stand the boredom of such a boring life of inaction, no danger to spice it up, no reason for rapid heartbeat . . . or chills up their back.  As for Donny & Rita they'll gladly accept the danger!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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Chapter III