Disclaimer: don't own them

Notes: Well, this is the last chapter on War. I just want to thank everyone who read and reviewed. Thank you for being patient during for all the delays, and for encouraging me. You all deserve medals. Thank you!

AcaciaJules –Yip, I did that for a reason. Everything is explained so don't worry. Hope you like it.

Kbandy- Thank you so much for all the reviews, I'm sorry for the long delays, I hope that you will like the end.

Dolphinology –I thought it would be different to have more interaction between the crew. Thanks for reminding me about the translations- I've added it at the end J

Vampy – Hope you like what I did. And, yes, Ben and Lucas are still with us! I could never forget about them.

Mariel3 –Thanks for the review, I'm happy to hear you like the humour. I thought it would lighten up the story.

Darkness Amber- I'm glad you liked that line. It's Afrikaans. Sorry for the long delay. Hope you like the ending.

Kgriffen –Sorry for the long delay…again. See, I finished it! Yippy, but it's sad in a way. Thanks for the review.

Now on to the last chapter...

o o o

Chapter twelve

O 0 o

Kirsten watched in uneasiness as Ford slowly picked Tim up, holding him in a fireman's grip. Once Ford knew that he could carry the weight, he nodded to Nathan.

“Alright, Katie, I want you to take lead, Ford, you follow, Kirsten you follow Ford. Now I want you to move slowly, Katie, I need you to make sure the path is clear, any uncertainty you stop,” Nathan explained.

“Yes sir,” Katie answered.

“Alright people, lets go,” Nathan said as he began to follow.

O o o

Ben groaned when he opened his eyes. He looked around and saw that he was still trapped in the same room. Silently cursing himself for falling asleep, he turned slightly to see that Lucas was still asleep.

Ben winced as his arms ached from the usual punishment. He looked up to see that chains, which were keeping him up, were connected to the ceiling. He tried to see if there were any weakness, but there were none.

Sighing, he looked around the room again but there was no way out besides the door, which was not a possibility.

He looked around once more in sight disappointment. But no matter what, he was going to escape, and he was going to get a little payback. He owed it to Katie, Nathan, and Lucas.

Even if it was the last thing he did.

O o o

Kirsten winced when a branch caught her arm; she looked down to see that there were three scratches, two which were deep enough for it to bleed. She knew, as a doctor, that she should stop and clean the wound, but as a soldier she knew that if she stopped that could mean the difference between staying alive and the lives of her team.

She looked before her to see that, even though Ford was a strong soldier, he was battling.

She stopped for a second, quickly turning to Nathan, know nodded in response.

“Take a five minute break,” Nathan said loud enough for Katie to hear.

“Sir, I'll do a sweep while you rest,” Katie offered.

“Thank you,” Nathan said as he watched Katie disappear into the bushes.

Ford, with the help of Kirsten, carefully laid Tim onto the ground.

Kirsten quickly checked his condition as Ford sat down heavily, thankful for the break.

“How is he doing?” Nathan asked.

“Fever starting, not bad yet, but this move is taking a lot out of him,” Kirsten said softly as she stroked Tim's forehead.

“The pace that we are going, we will only get there tomorrow night, do you think he will be able to handle it?” Nathan asked as he scanned the area.

Kirsten looked at Tim, then to Ford, as she thought about the options.

“As a doctor, I disagree on moving Tim, but then again, the sooner we leave, the sooner we get more medical assistance. As a medical soldier, I know the risks, and staying here isn't an option,” Kirsten explained.

Nathan nodded, understanding that Kirsten was in a difficult position.

“We will make it,” Nathan promised.

Kirsten smiled and nodded as she turned her attention back to Tim.

“Ford, you better be drinking some water!” Kirsten scolded as she wet a piece of cloth and placed it on Tim's forehead.

Nathan smiled at Ford who glared at Kirsten.

“Don't you glare at me, young man. If I don't see you drinking in the next minute, I can always make a drip!” Kirsten scolded.

Nathan bit his lip from laughing as he watched Ford quickly taking a sip from his canteen.

“That goes for you too Nathan Bridger!” Kirsten ordered.

Nathan quickly took his canteen out, knowing that it wasn't a good thing to be on Kirsten's bad side.

“Yes sir!” Nathan joked.

O o o

Ben opened his eyes and winced as his body began to ache. He looked around to see that he was still in the same room, and once again he had fallen asleep. Cursing his lack of focus, he tried to turn around, but thought against it as his body screamed in protest.

“Ouch!” Ben cursed as his arms exploded with pain.

He stood on his tip-toes, easing pressure off of his wrists. Ben wondered how he could break the chain, because he knew that he would stand a much better chance of surviving if he could use his hands.

Before he could think of anything the door opened, revealing three men. Ben had never seen any of them however he recognised the uniform.

O o o

Tim felt miserable. He just couldn't understand what was happening. In fact, he didn't really care; he just wished that someone would turn off the heater. He was hot, and his shoulder felt like it was on fire.

He could hear worried voices in the background and wondered what was wrong. He frowned as he tried to think what could be wrong, the last thing he remembered was being stuck in the war, drinking alcohol, Lucas being shot, Fighting and

Tim's eyes flew opened when he remembered Lucas, concerned; he tried to get up but stopped when an excruciating pain exploded in his shoulder.

O o o

“Tim, honey, don't get up,” Kirsten said softy as she helped Tim back down.

Tim opened his eyes to see Kirsten's worried face.

“Is Lucas…” Tim asked, to afraid to finish the sentence.

Kirsten frowned for a second before shaking her head.

“No, Lucas is fine. I'm more worried about you. And if you ever pull a stunt like that again and I'll make your life a misery!” Kirsten scolded.

It was now Tim's turn to frown as he looked at her, hoping for some answers.

“Tim, do you remember what happened?” Kirsten asked softly.

“I remember we were walking, Lucas being shot, then Ben and Lucas separated, then we were fighting and I…I…” Tim stopped when he remembered what he killed someone.

Kirsten wasn't the only one to see the look of disgust, grief, and guilt clouded his pain-filled eyes. Nathan noticed it too.

“Tim, you did nothing wrong. This is war, you had no choice. You were sent here to fight a war that means killing the enemy. I know that killing a person is wrong, and you will never forget what happened. But you had too,” Nathan explained.

Tim looked at Nathan and knew that he was right.

“But…,” Tim tried to explain.

Kirsten knew that Tim was only supposed to be on the team for communications, but she also knew that he was part of the army which meant that he would have to fight to survive.

The only reason why she was here was because there was a shortage of medics. She only joined to help people, not kill them.

“I know Tim, but right now, you are a soldier. Feelings and thoughts will be dealt with when we are home. You can't think about them now, if you do it then we are all dead. I need you to be strong, ok?” Kirsten asked.

Tim looked at Kirsten before nodding.

“Why am I lying down?” Tim asked as he just realised that he was lying down.

“You were shot,” Nathan answered.

Tim was surprised, but then realised why he was hurting so much. When he suddenly thought about it, he realised that he was really hurting.

“That would explain the pain,” Tim answered.

Kirsten nodded.

“I have a little bit of medication left, it won't knock you out, but it will help a bit with the pain,” Kirsten explained as she reached for her bag.

“Good to see you awake O'Neil, how are you feeling?” Ford asked as he saw that Tim was awake.

Tim looked around but stopped when he saw Ford a few spaces away.

“I've been better,” Tim said shyly

Ford nodded as he took another sip of water, knowing full well that if he got dehydrated that Kirsten would make his life a living hell.

Kirsten took out a syringe and began to prepare the injection.

Nathan pointed the gun to the bushes as Katie returned.

“Whoa! It's just me sir,” Katie said as she lifted her hands in surrender.

Nathan lowered his weapon in relief.

“You could have warned us,” Nathan scolded.

“Sorry sir, but we have to get moving. I saw enemy forces, too many for us to take on, coming to our location,” Katie explained.

“ETA?” Nathan asked.

“About five minutes,” Katie replied.

“Damn, not enough time to get much distance between us. Did you find a place where we could hide?” Nathan asked.

“Yes sir, just behind that bush, there's a little ditch, but enough covering us to hide,” Katie explained as she pointed.

“Good work, Alright people, we need to move,” Nathan ordered.

Ford placed his canteen back into his backpack, before getting up. While he was packing his bag, Kirsten quickly injected Tim with the painkillers.

“ouch!” Tim moaned as he felt the pin dig into his skin.

“Sorry,” Kirsten apologised as she took out the needle.

“We're leaving in thirty seconds…” Nathan ordered.

Kirsten threw everything she could into her medical bag, knowing that every second she took meant a second closer the enemy would come.

“Alright Tim, I don't want you to fight Ford when he picks you up,” Kirsten explained as she closed her bag.

Tim's pale face suddenly flushed bright red when he looked at Ford.

“I can walk,” Tim offered lamely, knowing full well that he didn't have the energy or the strength to even stand up.

Kirsten just glared at Tim.

“Mr O'Neil,”

Nathan, Ford, Katie and Tim winced when they heard Kirsten use the word ‘Mr' in her ‘Just-try-it-and-it-will-be-your-last' tone.

“Kirsten, I'm sure Tim didn't mean it, right Tim?” Nathan asked.

Tim shook his head as he sent a silent thank-you to Nathan.

Nathan smiled and nodded, but quickly turned away when Kirsten's glare narrowed down on him.

Ford had to use all his training to keep a motionless face as he walked up to Tim.

Katie watched everything going on and had to smile, she knew this wasn't a normal team. Sure everyone became like family, but this, this was family. She could see Nathan and Kirsten as the parents, Ford as the older brother, Ben the

Her smile faded when she thought of her ex husband. She didn't know why but she just couldn't shake the feeling of dread. Something wasn't right, and there was nothing that she could do about it until they reached HeadQuaters, if they ever got there.

She smiled when she saw Tim in Ford's arms; it was just a picture perfect moment. She just wished that she had brought her camera.

O o o

Ben looked up when he heard the door opening. He watched as John and the stranger that had visited him just a few hours ago come back in, with three guards, and immediately felt a bit claustrophobic.

He looked at the unknown soldiers; they all looked alike, which was scary. They all wore their military clothing, which was black pants, with a black top with their black cap. They were averaged height, but they were very masculine.

He watched as John walked out, but it was the look in John's eyes that made him worried.

“This is war and now you must pay the price,”

Ben watched as two of the guards walked up to him, one holding a knife. Ben closed his eyes, waiting for the deadly blow that would end his life. He just prayed that it would be quick and relatively painless. He just wished that Lucas would be unconscious so that he didn't have the chance to see, or feel what was about to happen.

O o o

They quickly went into the bushes as Katie showed them their way. After a few seconds of walking they found the little ditch.

It was more like a trench, as it was narrow but deep. Nathan scanned the area; it was their best option, but if they were found… there would be no escape.

They could hear the fait sounds of human voices, and knew that they were running out of time.

“Kirsten, you first, I'll go down next. Once I'm down, hand Tim down to us,” Nathan ordered.

Kirsten knelt down onto her hands and knees before swing herself down into the trench. Nathan waited for Kirsten before he quickly followed her.

Katie swallowed nervously as she could hear the voices coming closer, she looked back just in time as she saw Ford lower Tim into Nathan's arms.

“Hurry,” Katie urged them on in a hushed tone.

Ford glanced back, giving Katie an encouraging smile before he too disappeared.

“Ek weet nie, en ek gee ook nie om nie,”

Katie glanced at the branches behind her; she could hear the voices coming closer. Her heart pounded against her chest, her mind was totally frozen in fear, her body paralyzed

Miguel noticed the ‘deer-trapped-in-headlights' look in Katie's eyes and knew she was going to freeze. Without hesitation, he jumped into action and in one swift motion, grabbed her hand, forcing her to come with him.

Katie felt her self falling, but she was frozen. She couldn't move to stop herself as she felt her body fall.

Nathan watched as Ford caught Katie as she fell into the trench, right before Miguel landed.

“Ssh,” Nathan whispered as Katie stood on her feet, clearly over her shock.

Everyone stood still, no one dared to move

They could hear the heavy footsteps against the ground as the soldiers spoke loudly as passed the hide out.

“...en ons het ‘n kind gevang het,”

“Asseblief!”

“Ons het!”

“Waar is hulle?”

“ Elandslaagt ,”

“Die hart van ‘n kind,”

“Wat?”

“As ek die liefde van ‘n kind kan wen, dan ek ook die liefde van ‘n grootmens behall; die een sluit vanself die ander in,”

Nathan heard the footsteps stop. He glanced nervously at the others to see that they too were nervous, wondering if they were discovered or not. The only person, who could understand what was happening, was Tim, who was lying unconsciously in Kirsten's arms.

“Wat?”

“Hy sê dat…”

“ mythna…”

Everyone turned their attention to Tim…who was mumbling.

Kirsten's eyes grew ten sizes larger in fright before quickly placing her hand over Tim's mouth, hoping that it would mute his mumbling.

Everyone stood frozen as they listened for any sign of the enemy coming for them. Seconds felt like hours as they heard the heavy breathing right above their heads.

“Het jy iets gehoor?”

Katie thought everyone could hear her pounding heart as they waited for the response.

Seconds felt like a lifetime before they heard the one soldier's response.

“ Nee, niks,”

Katie, Miguel, Kirsten, Ford and Nathan all held their breaths as they heard the soldiers walk away.

Ford released his breath in relief as he sat down heavily on the ground. Katie followed his example as she released a laugh.

Kirsten removed her hand off Tim's mouth as she looked at Nathan.

“That was close,” she said as she smiled in relief.

“How is he?”

Kirsten placed her hand on Tim's forehead, feeling the heat radiate from his clammy forehead.

“Fever,”

Nathan looked over to where Katie and Ford were sitting, then back up to the top.

“What's a matter?” Kirsten asked.

“I just wished that I understood what they were saying. It could have been important,” Nathan said as looked back at Tim.

“They were probably talking about their homes, their families. Important people like that,” Kirsten reassured.

Nathan nodded, still wondering what important piece of information they had missed.

“Rest five minutes, then we leave. We need to quicken our pace. There are too many close calls. We need to get back,” Nathan ordered as he sat down.

O o o

“You finished?” Nathan asked.

“Yes, let's head home,” Kirsten answered.

“Ford, help Miguel, then Kirsten and Katie, then we will help Tim up,” Nathan ordered.

Miguel didn't have to be asked twice as he threw his bags over, before climbing up. Once he was up he turned to help Kirsten up.

“I'm getting to old for this,” Kirsten complained as stood up, dusting off the sand from her clothing.

Katie smiled as she was pulled up.

“How could you say that? This is what everyone wants. I mean, the constant dirt and grime which is forming a second skin around us, and the sand that just doesn't want to leave…It is to just to good to be true,” Katie said sarcastically as she complained.

Kirsten just shook her head.

“Oh yes, this is just your regular five star hotel right here,” Kirsten joked back.

“You know what, when I get home, I'm never Ever going to complain about a cold bath, or a small apartment, or even a cold meal. I tell you one thing, this war has taught me a lot on appreciating the little things,” Katie said honestly.

“Your right,” Miguel replied.

Nathan and Ford waited impatiently as they held Tim, waiting for the others to help.

“Get ready for Tim,” Nathan yelled from below.

Katie, Kristen and Miguel all helped as Nathan and Ford lifted Tim up so that they could reach him.

“Gently,” Kirsten instructed as they gentle lay him down on the ground.

Once Ford and Nathan were freed from the lifting they lowered their arms quickly to bring relief to their aching limbs.

“Remind me never to do that again,” Ford complained as he rubbed his one arm.

“Same here,” Nathan said in agreement.

Ford smiled as he turned around to pick his bag up,

Nathan had to smile as he watched Ford climb up, leaving alone in the trench. He looked around, making sure that they had everything.

He didn't know why, but he just had a feeling that he was forgetting something. Seeing nothing, he just shrugged the feeling off as he began his uphill climb.

When he got up, he looked around at the surroundings, everything remained the same. It was so peaceful, so calm; like the eye of a storm.

“Let's go home,” Nathan said with a sudden burst of energy.

Knowing that it was only a ten hour walk back to Head Quarters, they could almost smell the brewing coffee. It was so close, yet so far.

“Stay alert, we are close, but we still have a hard walk in front of us. If we stay together, and pay attention to our surroundings, we will get back. I don't know about you, but I desperately need a cup of coffee, so you better not let me down!” Nathan joked.

“And a bath,” Kirsten mumbled under her breath.

“Kirsten, you say anything?” Nathan asked.

Kirsten just put on an innocent smile as she put on her backpack.

Nathan eyed Kirsten suspiciously as she carried on smiling.

O o o

Ben closed his eyes, not really wanting to see his death. He could feel their breaths on his neck. He unconsciously shivered.

Then it happened. Pain shot through out his body as he fell to the ground.

“Agh!” Ben cried as all the blood flowed down, sending pins and needles throughout his body.

Before he could even gather relief, his hands were tied in front of him.

He looked to see a guard tying his feet.

He silently cursed them as he tried to get up, but his body was just to numb to move.

He suddenly realized that he wasn't dead, they didn't stab him; they had released him. Then it hit him, the knife was just there to scare him.

Before he could even growl at the two laughing men, his attention was brought to Lucas.

He watched in horror as he watched Lucas fall to the ground as they untied his hands. He winced in sympathy as he heard the sickening thud as Lucas's body hit the floor.

“Damn it! He's hurt!” Ben snapped to the other two bad guys.

Ben felt his anger boil as he watched them roll Lucas onto his back so that they could tie his hands together.

Ben felt strong arms lifting him up, forcing him to stand on his aching legs. He tried to struggle but it was not use as he found himself being forced out the room, into the morning's light.

He closed his eyes against the light which blinded. He didn't really know how long he had been tied up for. Time didn't really seem important when you're hanging from a ceiling.

He opened his eyes, and for the first time, he saw the camp where he was situated. It was gloomy, dark. The land was surrounded by a greenish fog that he knew was due to the land's suffering. The air was stale and warm.

It was a large camp, three buildings with small watch-towers that surrounded the place. The land was separated by more wire fences, dividing the land into different sections. He looked around to see that he was situated in the one section closer to the buildings. His eyes squinted trying to see what was held in the other sections, but all he saw was land.

There was a fence six meters away that surrounded the camp, only problem was that there was a very high security. On the one side, the camp was surrounded by fog, the other side, a forest, a forest of death.

He could see that nothing grew there; everything that remained was dead.

He only became aware that he wasn't walking when he was forced down on his knees. He looked to see that Lucas had been forced down next to him. He wanted to tell Lucas that everything would be alright, but he couldn't.

He looked in surprise when he saw other prisoners locked up in some sort of cage. The ‘cage' looked more like a box which were made out of bamboo sticks. There were twenty cages all in one area, which was surrounded by another fence.

He could see two armed guards patrolling the fence.

On closer inspection, he noticed something different about the prisoners…they weren't human.

They looked alien; the only thing that looked normal was their clothing, which hung loosely against their bodies. Ben looked closer at the one alien; its skin was tightly stretched over its skeleton. He could see every single bone in its body. The skin was a pale with a grayish tint to it, making it look sickly and weak. It had wild bushy long brown hair which came to its shoulders. It also had a bushy long beard. Its face echoed the harsh truths, shallow checks, dark circles around the tired brown eyes. It was a living zombie.

Ben looked at the others, everyone looked the same. Deep realization sunk in as he knew this was their fate. Suddenly he wondered if death would be better

Smelling smoke, Ben turned to see a fire a few meters away. He noticed a large crowd of soldiers sitting around two different fires, eating cooked food and talking.

Ben couldn't help his stomach from moaning in hunger as the incredible aroma assaulted his nose. Making him wonder if this was a new torture…because this was the cruelest punishment he could think of.

Ben looked back at the dark, greenish fog that remained; like a predator waiting to pound on its prey. The fog made the air thick, which made it hard to breathe.

Even though the air was stale, it had a chill to it. He couldn't help but shiver as the coolness went into his bones.

Ben looked at Lucas and saw that he was awake.

“How are you doing kid?”

Lucas raised his heavy head to look at Ben.

Truth be told, he was feeling miserable. His arms were numb, his stomach was burning. He felt like he was burning alive and he couldn't breathe properly.

“Fine,”

Ben snorted at Lucas's response. He could tell that Lucas wasn't feeling to well; he just wished the kid would be honest.

“Sure you are, and Bob's my uncle,” Ben replied sarcastically.

“Really?” Lucas snapped back.

Ben just shook his head in amusement.

Lucas raised his head a little bit higher as he looked around; he noticed the fog and the enemy soldiers. Nothing could prepare him for the sight that he saw next. He saw the prisoners; he saw how badly they were treated. How sick and weak they were

Ben noticed the look of horror flash in Lucas's eyes. He knew he couldn't promise anything to make Lucas feel any better. He couldn't even convince himself.

“It's alright Ben. Think of it this way, at least we are going to stick to their diet,” Lucas offered lightly.

Ben snorted at Lucas's warped sense of humor.

“Hey, are you calling me fat?” Ben asked in mock offense.

“Nah, just podgy,” Lucas replied with an evil grin.

Ben opened his mouth in shock. He just couldn't believe what he was hearing.

“Silence,”

Ben and Lucas looked up to see a man standing in front of them. Ben recognized him as the stranger that had backhanded Lucas.

“Who are you?” Ben asked.

“I am General of Elandslaagt,”

“Commander of what?” Ben asked, not fully understanding what this man was saying.

“Elandslaagt, it's the name of this compound,” the commander replied angrily.

Ben mouthed an ‘Oh' but didn't dare to speak out loud.

“You are going to be living here from now on. You will do what ever we say. Disobey us, and you shall be punished. Try to escape; and you will be killed.” the General explained.

Ben and Lucas remained silent, not really knowing how to respond.

“Before you see your new ‘living arrangements', you will be marked,” The General explained.

“Marked?” Lucas asked, not liking the sound of it.

The General grinned at Lucas, before walking away.

Before Ben even had a chance to do anything, a soldier had forced him down in a knelling position. From the corner of his eye, he saw Lucas in the same position.

“What the hell are you doing?” Ben yelled.

No one answered him as he watched in horror as he saw a man walking closer to Lucas, with a glowing red steel rod.

“no,” Ben gasped out when he realized what was going to happen.

They were going to be branded!

Lucas tried to escape but he didn't even have the strength to speak. He gritted his teeth together as he felt the soldier lift his arm as he pulled his sleeve up.

As he was wondering that was going to happen, he noticed a man from the corner of his eye coming towards him. What made matters worse, was the glowing red rod in the man's hand.

“No, no!” Lucas yelled as he realized what was going to happen.

“No, please…no!” Lucas begged as he struggled to free his arm.

But no matter how hard he tried, he just didn't have the strength.

“Ben, please help me!” Lucas cried out in fear.

Ben struggled against his captive, but it was no use. He couldn't do anything to escape.

Lucas looked on in horror as the man came closer, raising the rod above his arm.

For the first few seconds all Lucas felt no pain as the rod touched his arm, but that was short lived as the pain hit him as the rod dug into his arm.

Ben heard the sickly sound of burning flesh before Lucas screamed out in pain. He felt so helpless, so week. He couldn't believe how badly everything was going. He was supposed to be protecting Lucas, and here he was, doing nothing.

Lucas bit his lip as they removed the rod from his arm. The wound was still burning, and the area around the burn was stinging. The pain was unbelievable.

Ben felt his arm being forced out and knew that it was his turn. He tried to move it, but his arms were still numb from being chained up. He cursed for the lack of strength as he continued to struggle, but to no use.

Knowing what was coming, he bit his lip as he saw the man coming with the rod. Trying to relax, he tried to think of anything else. A smile came to his face when he remembered Katie. He could still picture the first time they meet

Ooo--000

Two small children sat underneath the willow tree. A ten year old girl had her long brown hair hanging loosely against her shoulder, her bright blue eyes light up as she saw her best friend perform another magic trick.

Eleven year old Ben Kreig smiled as he make the small peddle disappear within his small hands, quickly replacing the peddle with a plastic purple ring.

"Pick a hand, Katie," Ben told his friend as he held out his hands.

Katie Hitchcock smiled as she pointed to the right hand.

Ben smiled shyly as he opened his hand, revealing the small ring.

"Ben!" She giggled in delight.

"Katie, will you marry me?" Ben asked shyly.

Katie giggled as she nodded her head.

Ben smiled as he placed the ring on her figure...

After that moment, they were inseparable. At the age of sixteen, when the war began, everything turned into chaos… Towns were bombed, fear dominated the lands. With so much pain and suffering, they knew that life was short. Not wasting any time, they married. Their dream live turned into a living nightmare, he knew that they had made a mistake of marrying so young. They were still too naive about everything. They were still growing up, that's why everything turned out badly. In the end, they knew that they still loved each other but it was just not working out. With no other option, they got a divorce, before joining the army.

Ooo—000

Ben snapped out of his memories as his arm burnt in pain. He bit his lip harder, not wanting the soldiers to get the satisfaction.

What was only a few seconds, felt like hours to Ben, as they finally removed the rod from his arm.

Once the rod was removed, so was iron grip that was holding him down. With nothing holding him down, he sat up, staring at his burnt arm.

He noticed the mark; it was hard to miss it. Around the burnt mark, his skin was an angry red. The burn mark itself wasn't big, but deep. He looked at it closer; he noticed that numbers were now engraved into his skin.

He had been branded, marked forever.

Before he could touch the wound, he was roughly forced back onto his feet, before being dragged away.

Ben noticed they were headed to where the other prisoners were kept. The fence gate was opened as they got there.

“Welcome to your new home,” The guard said as he pointed to the cage nearer to the fence.

Ben growled as he was forced into the cage. He turned around just in time to see Lucas being forced in with him.

“Easy!” Ben shouted as he quickly went to Lucas's aid.

He heard the guard's laughs as they locked the cage door. He watched them as they left, leaving them alone.

Once he was sure that there was no one left, he carefully lowered Lucas to the ground before sitting down next to him.

Ben carefully placed Lucas next to him, so that Lucas could rest his head on Ben's shoulder, and so that they could combine body heat.

“I'm tired,” Lucas moaned as he rested his head on Ben's shoulder before closing his eyes.

Ben nodded. He knew that Lucas had been through a lot. First the gunshot, then the fever which still hadn't left, being hang by his wrists and now, branded. All he could do was gently rub Lucas's arm, providing both warm and protection.

Ben looked up, and smiled as he saw the familiar uniform.

“A little bit late, aren't we?” Ben asked.

0o0

They had been walking for hours, till they finally saw the familiar hill.

“Nearly there,” Miguel commented as he looked at the hill, knowing it wasn't long till they were home.

“I wonder if Ben pilled a prank yet?” Katie asked.

“I hope not,” Kirsten said with a groan, remembering the trouble he caused.

“Is that smoke?” Ford asked pointing to the rising smoke coming from the hill.

They all stopped to stare in confusion as they saw the smoke.

“What could…”

Kirsten's question was cut off by the loud sounds of a helicopter, coming towards them.

“Get cover!” Nathan ordered.

Everyone scattered in every direction, hiding in any bush they could find.

Nathan looked up, watching the helicopter circle the area, he squinted his eyes to see that the familiar plan.

“It's ours,” Nathan called to the others before breaking cover. Raising his arms wildly in the air, he flagged down the plan.

“At least it saves us the walk,” Katie spoke loudly over the noise.

“Ben and Lucas must have told them about us,” Miguel shouted.

They watched as a solider climbed out of the helicopter as it landed a few feet away.

Nathan smiled in relief when he saw the soldier walk up to them.

“We need to leave now, I'll explain everything on the way back home,” LT. Tom Peck yelled over the helicopter.

Nathan looked over his tired crew and nodded.

“Everyone, get in,” Nathan ordered.

Kristen quickly got on first, as Katie and Miguel helped Tim in next.

“Easy,” Kirsten yelled as she helped Tim onto the helicopter.

With not much room, Kirsten sat down on the one side so that Tim could sit next to her. Katie sat on the other side of Tim, making sure that Tim wouldn't fall out. Miguel jumped in next, his body half in, half out so that he could watch the other's backs.

LT Peck jumped in next, sitting right opposite to Kirsten, Followed by Nathan, then Ford.

As soon as Ford as in, the helicopter quickly rose from the ground, into the morning's sky.

Tim breathed in a sign of relief. They had made it, he could finally go home.

Katie smiled as she looked at the others, everyone was smiling. They had made it, they were going home.

“Were there any survivors?” Ford asked through the mike.

“We picked up two, and you guys,” Peck answered.

Katie signed in relief as everyone began to relax; all waiting to arrive at home, where they could meet Lucas and Ben.

Ford couldn't wait to go home to sleep, and most importantly, to his family.

Katie knew that the first thing she would do when they landed, was to give her ex-husband a kiss that he would never forget.

Tim knew that the first thing he did when they landed was to go to the hospital. He just couldn't belief how happy he felt when he thought of pain killers.

Kirsten looked at everyone's relaxed faces. They had made it. It was true that the war was not finished, but she knew, the war was finished for them. They were going home.

Miguel got more comfortable next to Katie, as he moved completely into the helicopter. He just couldn't wait to get home, where he could have food. A nice warm plate of cooked food with a nice cool beer, which would be followed by a nice long shower, then sleep. Sleep in a nice, warm, soft bed.

Nathan didn't really mind going home, at that moment, he just wanted to see Lucas. He didn't know why, or how, but Lucas somehow managed to sneak into his heart.

He didn't know much about Lucas, but it didn't matter.

After five minutes, everyone was totally relaxed. They had made it. They were going home. They survived.

Nothing could go wrong.

“Do you know the conditions of the other two that you saved?” Kirsten asked as she looked at the officer.

“Well, they were badly injured, they were rushed to hospital straight away,” the Commander replied.

“What could have happened to Ben?” Katie asked in concern.

“Ben?” Commandeering officer asked.

“LT. Ben Kreig, the man you saved,”

“I don't know their names,”

Everyone felt a bit at easy when they heard that. Everything was going excellent, till they heard the Commander speak.

“But, I know that the one soldier's name is LT. John Smith,”

Nathan felt his heart drop.

For a few seconds the only sounds heard were that of the chopper.

“Turn this around,” Nathan ordered.

“No,” Peck stated.

“There are two soldiers down there that need our help!” Nathan tried to reason.

“My orders are to take you home,” Peck said sadly.

“But we are leaving two behind!” Katie said in disbelief.

“No one there isn't; you were the only people left,” Peck stated.

Nathan couldn't accept it. He was not going to allow the war to claim another son.

“You turn this around now, or I will kill you,” Nathan threatened.

Nathan pointed his gun, ready to blow the officer's head off.

The officer's face was a mask, if he was afraid, he didn't show it.

“Shoot me if you want, but the pilot has orders, so you can shoot him too, but it still won't get you back. I know that none of you know how to fly,” Peck answered coolly.

“Don't you understand? There are two of MY men still on that hell! I need to get them back!” Nathan asked.

“Bridger, they are dead,” Peck answered.

“NO! They are not! I know it. They are alive,” Kirsten scolded.

“I'm sorry, but it's out of my hands,” Peck replied.

Nathan couldn't believe it. He was leaving them behind and there was nothing that he could do. He was losing another son, and he was powerless.

He stared at the man in front of him.

“As soon as we land, I'm going back!”

000

Ben looked up to see John standing a short distance away from the cage.

“Did you enjoy the show?” Ben asked in disgust.

“I don't enjoy watching children getting hurt. Not even the enemy,” John spoke as he turned his back before leaving.

Ben looked back at Lucas, then back to the sky. He wished he would just wake up and this would all just be a nightmare.

“Katie…I'm so sorry,”

0o0

As soon as the helicopter landed, Tim was rushed off to the hospital, leaving the other standing by the helicopter.

General Bill Noyce walked towards them, thankful to see his friend still alive and well.

“I'm sorry Nathan, I heard what happened over the radio,” Bill said sadly.

“I'm going back Bill, they need me,” Nathan replied.

“I can't let you do that,” Bill said as he shook his head.

Nathan stood at attention, hoping that this stunt would work.

“Sir, permission to…”

“Denied,” Bill concluded.

“With all due respect, Sir, I'm going,” Nathan threatened.

“Nathan, you won't find them, they are dead by now,”

“They are not dead. They are still out there, and I'm going to find them!” Nathan stated.

“Nathan, I can't let you do that,”

“Bill…I made a promise, don't let me break it…not after Carol…” Nathan pleaded.

Bill lowered his head in shame, before raising his hand, calling some guards over.

Ford and the others walked up closer to Nathan, ready to fight for their leader.

“Stand down all of you!” Bill ordered.

Ford knew that a few months ago if this had happened, he would have stood down. But that was a few months ago, before he had formed a brotherhood, before they had become family.

“With all due respect General, I'm not military, so I don't have to listen to you.” Kirsten said as she stood beside Nathan, showing her support.

Bill was happy that they had formed a bond, but he couldn't let Nathan go on a suicide mission.

“Soldiers, escort Bridger to the brig. I want the rest of this team on house arrest. No one is to leave this room.” Bill ordered.

“Bill! I have TWO men back there! I'm not leaving them behind,” Nathan demanded.

“I'm sorry Nathan, but I'm not going to let you kill yourself,”

“Dam you Bill, they are still out there! I need to find them! They are waiting for me!” Nathan yelled as two soldiers grabbed his arms, firmly holding him in place.

Bill closed his eyes, not wanting to see what he was doing to his friend.

“Nathan, you won't understand it now. I can't let you go. I'm sorry, but I can't let you go,” Bill said softly.

Nathan struggled as he was forced from the room.

“NO! Bill they are still Alive! BILL let me GO! BILL!” Nathan yelled as he tried to break free, but just didn't have the strength.

“THEY ARE STILL ALIVE! DAMN YOU BILL! THEY ARE STILL ALIVE!” Nathan yelled as he was forced out the room.

Bill turned away, looking at the others who were also being held.

“I'm sorry,”

Katie looked at Bill with such hatred as a tear fell down her check.

“How could you? We NEVER leave people behind! Never! They are alive, they need us,” Katie begged.

Kirsten couldn't believe it; they were going to leave Lucas and Ben to die all alone on enemy lands.

Ford lowered his head in disgusts,

“Sir, let me go. I'll find my own way there, just let me go. I won't tell them anything,” Ford pleaded.

Bill shook his head, admiring Ford for his loyalty.

“Look Ford, no one is going back there. We have lost too many people already. I'm not going to send more people to their deaths for a lost cause. I'm sorry,”

Bill said as he turned around to see Kirsten trying to get up.

“Where do you think you are going?”

“As I said, I'm not military you can't hold me!” Kristen explained.

“I know, but your on military base, I can hold you. I'm going to release you when I feel that you are ready.”

Bill stopped talking as he turned to address the soldiers.

“Take Ford, Ortiz and Katie to their rooms. Make sure that they do not leave. Kirsten, you will be escorted to the brig,” Bill ordered.

Ford stiffened as he walked passed Bill as he was lead out the room. Miguel just glared, but Katie, Katie just began to weep.

“Damn you,” She cursed as she was forced out.

Bill lowered his head in shame but he couldn't let them die.

He felt Kirsten's eyes on him, but he refused to acknowledge her.

O 0 o

Ben held Lucas tightly against his chest, hoping that he could bring warmth. Lucas shivered against the cool wind that seemed through his thing clothing straight into his bones.

“Ben?”

Ben looked down to see Lucas's tired blue eyes staring at him.

“Yeah kid?” Ben asked softly.

"Do you think they will find us?"

Ben knew it was pointless to lie, he didn't believe it either. But he also knew that he couldn't take Lucas's hope away.

"I dunno kid, honestly, I don't know. Let's just take one day at a time," Ben answered.

Ben looked at the full moon above, he now really knew how much he took such simple sites for granted.

As he looked upon the night's beauty, his mind flashed with pictures of Katie. A smile came on his face as he drifted off into sleep.

O 0 o

Kirsten's heart dropped when she entered the brig. She saw Nathan sitting hopelessly on one of the bunks, his body language screaming defeat.

Nathan looked up to see that Kirsten was locked in the brig with him.

“Can you get us out?”

She shook her head sadly.

“We need to get back there. Ben and Lucas are waiting for us,” Nathan pleaded with her.

“I'm sorry Nathan, there's nothing that we can do.” Kirsten said sadly as she sat down next to him.

“It's my entire fault; I shouldn't have let them go. I should have kept them together!” Nathan cursed himself.

“You did the best thing, Nathan, you couldn't have known,”

“But I failed them,” Nathan spoke barely above a whisper as the tears began to fall.

Kirsten hugged Nathan, as he wept.

“I failed them, just like my family. I failed them,”

“What do you mean?” Kirsten asked in confusion.

“My wife and son died because of me. Carol told me I was her hero, always there to protect them. Three months later, my hometown was attacked. My son, Robert, was killed. Carol, she…she was shot. She died a week later, fever took her. She died and I was not there. I was supposed to save her, I let her down. I let my family down!” Nathan explained as he tried to keep the tears from falling.

Kristen knew there was nothing she could say to make him feel better.

“I got a medal, a stupid medal. My family is dead, for what?” Nathan asked in outrage.

“Nathan, you couldn't have known…”

“Now I failed Lucas… I failed them Kirsten. I promised I would take care of him, Kirsten. I promised,” Nathan said softly as he lowered his head.

Kirsten hugged Nathan as she too began to cry.

They were powerless, and there was nothing that they could do. They had left Lucas and Ben behind and there was no way they could get them back. They had failed, and there was nothing that they could do

o o o

The End

I was so going to end the story where they were on the helicopter when Peck said, “But, I know that the one soldier's name is LT. John Smith,” But then I thought, no, I can't be that mean.

Well this is my last chapter of War. However, I'm making a sequel – which will focus more on the characters, and their lives. I'm already started, and yes, it will still have Ben and Lucas. It's on how they landed up in the army, how they will live normal lives, how Katie and Ben were married and divorced at the age of 18. It's called “Sweet Surrender”.

Anyway I just want to thank all of you for sticking with me, and for putting up with the long delays and poor English. I hope you liked the story. Thanks again for all your support; I couldn't have finished this without it.

Oh, and translations:

“Ek weet nie, en ek gee ook nie om nie,” -“I don't know, and I don't care”

“...en ons het ‘n kind gevang het,” - “and we caught a kid”

“Asseblief!” - “Please!”

“Ons het!” -“We did!”

“Waar is hulle?” - “Where are they?”

“Elandslaagt,” -- this is a name of the Position where they have Ben and Lucas prisoner.

“Die hart van ‘n kind,” - “The heart of a child,”

"Wat?" -“What?”

“As ek die liefde van ‘n kind kan wen, dan ek ook die liefde van ‘n grootmens behall; die een sluit vanself die ander in,” - The rough translation of this goes like this-“If I can win the love of a child, then I can also win the love of a grownup. The one closes itself in the other,”

“Wat?” - “What?”

“Hy sê dat…” – “He said that…”

“Het jy iets gehoor?” – “Did you hear something?”

“Nee, niks” – “No, nothing”