eau had just joined Sung Wu and William when the messenger hurriedly made his way across the mess hall to their table.  He strode up to within hearing distance, stopped, saluted and waited to be recognized.

"What's on your mind soldier?  You seem to be in a hurry" finished William.

"Yes sir.  An urgent message just came through the PBX from your wife to respond to the airport immediately, sir!"

William, quite taken with the manner in which the message was delivered asked "is this an emergency?"

"That was not stated Sir.  But the operator was very adamant about me getting the message to you as fast as humanly possible repeating 'make it snappy!'"

"Thank you soldier.  Did she request a response?"

"No sir.  But I did hear the operator respond to her that the prisoners of the Pig Sty had been released some twenty minutes ago."

Williams heart sank.  "I bet she's found Andrea and Andrea has told her why she was so adamant about not releasing the prisoners" he thought to himself.  Then "thank you soldier, that will be all."

Sung Wu and Beau had already swung into action quickly clearing the mess kits.  Even though the three were officers, they always abided by the rules - bus your own table and wash your own mess ware.  They were through with the chore by the time William finished with and dismissed the soldier, then all three sped quickly out the entrance turning down the hall toward the Tunnel.

"Hasn't this thing got a turbo speed?" growled William.  When he heard the courier say she'd told Sharon the the prisoners had already been released, a fury hit him that he hadn't known in quite some time.  He would address that situation post haste!  But getting to Sharon was all that mattered now!

"Sir you might be better off jogging if you're in that kind of a hurry" suggested Beau.  He heard a faint chuckle from Sung Wu.

"He'd never make it as fat as he's getting!" Sung Wu said over another quiet chuckle.  Beau laughed as William snorted his distaste of the ill timed jib.  Soon the donkey came around the last corner and ground to a halt by the elevator.  They bounded up the stairs to the first level where Sharon waited with Andrea.

"We came immediately" William proffered, out of breath.  "What's going on Sharon?"

"In a nutshell, one of the prisoners you just released was the leader of the band of cut-throats holding the hostages at the Pig Sty.  That's all we know for now, but Andrea can't recognize him visually.  She has to hear him speak.  Have they all fled?"

An emergency broadcast was sent to the remaining small force at the location of the PIG Sty.  There was no response.  Harry Sprinter was piloting the C130 Transport which would pick up the remaining group, the rest of the gear and the little office module.  With crew needed to fly the 130 and the guards left to bring the last of the prisoners, there was a total of thirteen.

Emergency messages went out over the frequency used by the LMA planes, again with no response.  William was in a panic over the leaving of the small squad with the prisoners.  Next time they would send enough planes to bring all home together or they wouldn't go.  Left were nine guards and six prisoners.  Harry Sprinter only had enough men required to fly the C130.

"Beau, get a squad and get up there immediately."  Even at Beaus' immediate "Yes Sir!" William knew it would be a four hour trip on top of four hours making ready.  In the meantime, subsequent queries would be sent out being bounced around from different militia towers in the attempt to prevent the enemy pinpointing their location.

Within a record time of one and a half hours they were northbound in the DeHavalind with throttle jammed to the dash and trimmed for speed.  Andrea had showed up at the airport, had the plane loaded fueled, and was already on board before Beau.  She WAS going, bring her up on insubordination charges if you must, but she was going!

They could easily be trekking right into trouble or a trap, and it might be a group too large to handle with this small group, but they would know more when they had eyes on the scene.  To speed time they would parachute in.  Right at the last minute when Amy was trimming the place for the jump the radio came on weakly and breaking up.

"Purty Girl this Harryman.  I have you on radar."

"Harryman, what's with the 'no answer' tirade" Amy responded.

"Had a little mixup, a somewhat nasty landing, got busted up.  Two of plane crew augered in, radio antennae busted.  Advise do not land.  Bogies all accounted for except for one package placed by the ghost.  Seven LMA room temps.  Personally I've prung a leak and low of antifreeze."

"Copy that Harryman.  Are you OK till morning?"  All the while Amy was talking to Harry, Beau and his squad were floating directly toward him on wings of polyester.  These same wings would be wrapped around two of the men floating down in this group on the return trip home.

"Doing fine and we'll see you tomorrow afternoon.  Safe trip home Purty Girl."  He sighed heavily when he heard the plane bank away and the silence of the night was returned to him swiftly.  He guessed correctly that he'd piloted his last plane and his last time in a plane would be the trip home in a box.

One of the 72 virgins of moslem paradise
One of the moslem 72 virgins of Paradise
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
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Chapter IV