Author's Updates

02 Sept 05 – Couple of typo goofs and some action continuity changes to this chapter. Absolutely no plot changes have occurred.

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I haven't watched G.I. Joe in years, but finding this section on FF was a lot of fun! It inspired me to take my first stab at Joe fic. So if you don't like it, well, ya can't win 'em all.

I took a more modern-day, adult approach with the characters, as I always wished someone would do with the characters the show had created.

I would appreciate feedback. Thanks!

All the usual disclaimers – I own none of the show's characters. I just borrow them from time to time for fun. If I owned 'em, my name would be in the credits. I do, however, own a couple of originals that appear in this story.

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Sins of Future's Past

Chapter 1

The air was laden with the acrid smoke of battle, wafting across the mountainside clearing in waves that obscured the enemy's movements. Flint jammed his back up against the chassis of an overturned vehicle, slapping another magazine into his rifle. Shots were whizzing over his head at an alarming rate.

The mission was supposed to have been simple – place a ground satellite station for monitoring small aircraft flying through the mountains. Conventional radar was not doing the job. Small Cobra contingents had been making runs through the area undetected by NORAD and other monitoring stations. The Joes had to put a stop to it. They were nearly finished when the surprised attack was thrust upon them.

The unit had already suffered several casualties in the firefight with the Dreadnoks and Cobra fighters. He could see his people – young and inexperienced – prone on the ground and in pain from their wounds. Their buddies were dragging some to the tree line to the west. Some were simply caught out in the open.

He spotted Lifeline moving in toward one of those that was exposed in the clearing, medical bag in hand, trying to maintain cover in the line of fire that seemed to be increasing.

Flint counted to three, then rose up over the vehicle and began targeting his enemy. He quickly dropped two advancing troopers. By then, they knew where he was and began directing their fire toward him. It was all the better. His intent had been to give Lifeline some breathing room.

Movement to his left caught his eye. Lady Jaye was running and gunning toward his position, narrowly avoiding rounds that skipped on the ground in her wake. She dove behind the Flint's position at the jeep as more rounds pinged off the reinforced hull. Flint sank down again and began to reload.

"Nice to see you, too!" he yelled over the din of the fight.

She quickly leaned against the chassis for cover, as well. She shook her head and rolled her eyes. "I need a new line of work!" she yelled back, also taking the moment to slam in a new magazine.

Flint looked out to where Lifeline was working. Two more medics had arrived and were evacuating the wounded to the rear area where it was safer. He saw more Joe troopers advancing forth to provide additional support, but it was a little too late in the game. They were outnumbered nearly five to one. He had already made the command decision that they would pull back and live to fight another day. Command would not be pleased, but then again, he thought, Command was not sitting out in the woods behind a burned-out jeep being shot at by a hundred Cobra infantry.

He keyed the mic on his radio. "All units, prepare to fall back once the wounded have been cleared. Prepare to fall back!"

"Duke's not going to be sending you roses for this one," Jaye admonished. Even in the heat of battle, she had a sense of humor.

"Can't win 'em all," Flint said, turning.

"Where the hell is our air support?" Jaye groused.

Flint popped off more rounds. "FUBAR'd and outgunned. We're on our own."

Together, they popped up over the top of the jeep and began firing. Jaye quickly glanced at Flint, and he knew she had seen what he did. The troopers were being reinforced from the air. The Joe assault team was low on ammunition, low on backup, and low on their chances of prevailing in the battle. They were about to be overrun.

Jaye kept picking her targets, hitting many but still missing some as her aim became distracted by incoming fire.

Flint keyed the mic again. "All units, fall back!" he yelled. "I say again, fall back!"

Jaye returned to a sitting position behind the jeep and reloaded. "This is NOT my idea of fun!"

Flint looked to their flanks, seeing the general infantry of his team begin to fall back while rounds flew in both directions. Lifeline handed off the last of the wounded to the two medics but seemed to wait, searching the clearing for any more bodies. Flint motioned furiously for him to get back to the tree line where the APCs were waiting for evac, but the medic instead moved forward toward the vehicle. At the last moment, Flint realized why. Cobra fighters were surrounding them. The path back to the LZ had been cut off, trapping them.

"We're in trouble!" Jaye said, continuing to fire.

Lifeline crouched down low behind the jeep with them. "We need to move now! They're coming out of the woodwork!"

Flint did a full three-sixty. There was only one option, and that was to make a run to their left, hoping they could move fast enough to the closest run of trees that could give them some cover. There was a ravine beyond that that they could use for cover. It would at least give them a fighting chance to escape.

He dropped down once again behind the jeep for cover. "On three, we're heading to the north tree line. We can use the ravine to make it out of here."

He counted aloud over the cacophony of gunfire. When he hit three, they leapt up and began running toward the trees. Jaye and he fired rapidly, trying to drive back the advancing forces if only for a few seconds to give the good guys some breathing room. It worked for a moment until the Dreadnoks realized they were facing only three opponents instead of an entire unit. Still, it was just enough time to get near the border of the trees where they could take some cover.

A small explosion nearly knocked him off his feet. The pungent taste of gunpowder clamped on to the back of his tongue as smoke swam down his sinuses. He regained his balance and kept running, seeing Jaye and Lifeline were to his left and had not been hit. The second grenade landed further away, corralling them more to the left. The event actually helped veer them on to a better course toward cover.

Still, Cobra forces were gaining on them. Flint reached the trees first, using one large trunk for cover. When he faced the clearing, he realized Jaye and Lifeline had fallen behind in the race. They were still a good twenty feet away when Flint started laying down more cover fire. The Dreadnoks were not fooled. They took aim at the two runners, foregoing any attempts at Flint who was certainly under better cover.

A spray of rounds tapped into the ground behind Jaye and Lifeline. Flint watched in slow motion as they caught up with them. Lifeline was lagging a step behind her, carrying his medical kit.

Flint saw Jaye, who was always keenly aware of the situation in the midst of a firefight, grab hold of Lifeline's jacket and hurl him forward. The medic was literally lifted off his feet and pushed ahead into the cover of the trees. Just as she did so, she was propelled forward as if pushed. She emitted a loud grunt, her body spinning sharply to the right, crashing into the soft dirt of the mountainside.

Flint's brain processed the scene in slow motion as it played. He saw Lifeline emerge from cover to grab hold of the strap of the quiver that held the explosive javelins she used and begin dragging her into the trees. She tried to help, scrambling with her legs and trying to stand. Together, they collapsed in a heap on the backside of a large pine. His mind assembled all the pieces of the situation into one picture. They were cut off from any support, completely outnumbered and on the run. Now, he had a new problem.

The Dreadnoks and Cobra infantry were closing in fast, eyeing their quarry. Flint dashed over to Lifeline and Lady Jaye. There was no time to think. He reached down and removed the quiver of explosive spears from her torso, pulling one out in a smooth motion. He slipped the sling of the rifle over his neck, flipping the weapon behind his back.

"Get moving to the river!" Flint yelled, expanding the rod. "Don't stop! I'll meet you there in a minute!"

Ed's eyes were wide with stress.

"Go!" Flint shouted, snapping the medic out of his trance.

She was trying to stand. Flint saw the growing patch of dark rust color on her back just below the tip of her shoulder blade. Lifeline scrambled out from underneath her to help get her upright. His hand swooped down in time to grab his medical kit and sling it over his shoulders. He wrapped her arm around his neck to keep her standing. They were then running toward the ravine, leaving Flint to fend off the enemy and buy the Joes some time to escape.

He launched the javelin at the largest cluster of oncoming Dreadnoks. It was not a pretty throw, but it landed close enough to them to blow some of them off their feet and take them out of the game. He reached for another from the quiver and threw it. His throws were nowhere near as refined as Lady Jaye's. She finessed the weapon far better than he could ever have hoped with years of practice.

The second javelin was not as effective as the first, but it did manage to make the Dreadnoks take pause before continuing to close in on him. He began to retreat into the woods, using the trees for cover as he went. He readied another javelin, waiting until a group of Dreadnoks had ventured far enough into the trees before he launched it. The aftermath was better than he had hoped. The explosion caused a tree to come crashing down, scattering the pursuers in all directions but his. He turned and ran at a full sprint toward the ravine, trying to catch up to his teammates.

He could hear the roar of river water ahead of him and the voices of the Dreadnoks in the distance behind him. The sun was beginning to set, darkening the woods as the trees blocked out what little light from the sky remained. Flint ran headlong until the flat ground began to give way to an incline. He came to the precipice of the ravine and kept going. He could see Lifeline and Jaye halfway down the slope.

The voices behind became stronger. Then a new volley of gunfire began following him. He veered toward Lifeline and Jaye, trying to catch up with them. The river was their only chance. They could ride it out a while and call in for help once they were clear of the main area of battle.

He expected they would continue to the river, but Lifeline stopped, with Lady Jaye's arm still wrapped about his shoulders for support. Flint caught up to them a few seconds later and realized why they had stopped. It was a nearly twelve-foot drop to the bank of the river. The drop was straight down, and there was no telling the depth of the water roiling below them in a pool. Lifeline looked at Flint for guidance.

The choice was taken away from all three when a grenade exploded near them, sending the three Joes sailing into the air and toward the water.

Flint's skin went shockingly cold as he hit the water. The undercurrent grabbed hold of his body and pulled him into the main flow of the river. He kicked toward the surface, yearning for a breath of air. His head broke the surface briefly, but it was enough to steal one ragged intake before he was pulled under the surface once more. His instincts kicked in as he was dragged along the waterway. He oriented his feet forward, downriver to ward off some of the impact of boulders that were strewn in the rapids. He kicked upward again, finally breaking the surface and steadying himself well enough to keep his head above water.

He immediately began looking for Lifeline and Jaye. The water was chaotic, throwing him in every direction as the landscape underneath redirected the current in obscure angles. He finally caught sight of them. He was nearly parallel with them. Lifeline cradled Jaye's body in his arms as they rode out the current.

They were fast approaching a bend in the river. Flint altered the angle of his body to close the gap between them, swimming with his arms. He knew he would never make it at the rate he was going. He let go of the quiver of javelins he held tightly in his hand and began swimming with everything he had. The white rapids were beginning to dissipate. He felt the water become deeper and calmer than where they had entered. The weight of his fatigues caused drag as he tried to swim within the current, but he managed to reach them in time. He clamped on to Lifeline's collar with his hand and began pulling them toward the shore, kicking as hard as he could with his legs.

He kicked until the muscles in his legs burned with the effort. He didn't bother to look at the trajectory of the approaching bend. He just kicked with everything he had, trying to tow them to shore. Just when he thought he could not go on any more, he toe dug into the soft gravel of the river bottom. He kicked again until both feet made contact with the soft rock. He stood, pulling with everything he had to bring them on to the shore.

The shore was wide and flat, covered with smooth stones that had become exposed when the river's water level dropped in the summer. Lifeline tried to stand, but Jaye's waterlogged weight in his arms was too much. Flint took her from him, hooking his arms under her shoulders and pulling her completely on to the shore. She was awake, but her feet dragged loudly against the stones, leaving a gouged trail. He walked backward with her in his arms until he felt soft sand under his boots and laid her down gently on the ground.

Her eyes were open. She looked up him in cold shock. She was breathing in tiny jagged, quick breaths. Lifeline trudged out of the water as quickly as he could. He came toward them and dropped down to the ground, unslinging his medical kit and ripping open the flap.

"Help me turn her on her side," Ed ordered, panting as he shrugged out of his heavy jacket.

Flint moved over opposite Ed and helped roll her on her side. She gave a muffled cry with the movement. When Lifeline cut away part of her BDU shirt, he could see where the bullet had entered. The wound was an angry red. A thin line of blood trickled from the hole, mixing with the river water on her skin.

While she did not fight them in the movement, Flint could see her shaking hands clench with the action. Her legs pulled up slightly as she fought the pain he knew they were inflicting.

Lifeline reached into the kit and pulled out compression bandage, tearing open the package with his teeth and one hand as he kept pressure on the wound with his other hand. A wave of shock flittered through Flint as he saw her blood on Lifeline's hands. It was bright even in the darkening twilight. Lifeline pushed the pressure bandage onto the wound and told Flint to roll her onto her flat once more.

The medic took her pale arm in his and reached for an IV solution bag out of the kit. He unsheathed the needle, patting her cold skin with the back of his hand in an attempt to raise a vein for insertion. He prodded until he found something acceptable and slid the needle home. If it was painful for Allison, Flint could not see it. He doubted a needle hurt worse than the hole in her back from a Cobra bullet.

He reached for the radio near his shoulder. "Flint to Ops Base!"

"Ops Base. This is Mainframe, Flint," came the reply.

"Medical emergency! We need immediate evac on my signal location!"

"We have you on our screens, Flint, but the snakes have the area locked down. We're trying to get to you as fast as we can."

"Work faster! Jaye's been hit. We need evac now!"

Duke's voice sounded over the radio. "Flint, just stay where you are. We're going to get someone to you as soon as we can."

Flint let go of the mic key. "Dammit!" he yelled in frustration.

Lifeline pulled out a syringe and a small vial from his kit. He prepared to draw a dose from the bottle when Jaye stopped him with her hand.

"No," she managed with labored breath. "Need to be able to move if we have to."

Lifeline never gave it consideration and continued drawing the dose. "You're losing too much blood. We have to slow down your heart or you're going to bleed to death."

He pushed the syringe into the port on the IV line. It took a moment before she began to relax. Flint saw her shoulders drop down, the muscles no longer so taut against the pain. Her eyes glazed in the wake of the morphine.

"Dash?" she said weakly.

"I'm here," he said gently, leaning down closer to her so she could see his face. He took her hand in his, shocked at how cold it was.

"Don't you wait around on me," she warned. "You go if you get the chance."

All at once, she was wracked with a series of choking coughs. Lifeline was there, instantly sitting her up slightly until the spasm had passed. When it was over, he laid her flat again on the cold riverbed.

Flint felt his emotions split into a thousand pieces as he looked at her. "You can't pull rank on me," he said with a forced smile. "We're all getting out of here."

Her eyes drifted closed as the medication took full effect. Her hand went limp in his, frightening him until he saw the quick, inefficient rise of her chest as her body fought to breathe.

Lifeline reached into his kit once more and drew out pack of latex gloves. He put them on quickly. "Help me roll her again," he said.

"Why? What's wrong?" Flint asked, alarmed.

Lifeline looked him in the eyes. "I have to see how deep the bullet is. The only way I can do that right here and now is to put my finger in the wound and feel around. I'm willing to bet we're not getting out of here any time soon. I need to know how bad the damage is."

Flint looked down at the woman now sleeping quietly on the sands of the river. The idea of what Lifeline wanted to do seemed so vulgar.

"Flint!" Lifeline said sternly. "Roll her!"

Flint snapped out of his reverie and did as he was told. Lifeline removed the bandage and set it aside on her hip. Flint saw Ed close his eyes and insert an index finger into the hole, pressing gently into the wound. Flint stopped watching after Ed approached the second knuckle.

Lifeline finished the task.

"How bad is it?" Flint asked.

Lifeline sat back on his haunches and shook his head in frustration. "I can't feel it."

"And that means?"

"It means it's deep. We need to get it out as soon as possible."

"How much time do we have?"

Lifeline reached into his kit for antiseptic. "Look, bullets are funny things when they enter the body. They tumble. They take unexpected paths." He poured the liquid directly on the wound. "From the angle, I at least know it hit her lung. I can at hear that much. Where it went from there is simply a guess. But I do know for certain that she's bleeding internally, and right here is no place to do something about it."

Flint looked down at her again. Lifeline kept her on her side, not opting to bring her flat on the sand again. She seemed to be sleeping peacefully save the irregular breathing pattern. He saw the frothy bright red tinge of blood in the corner of her mouth. He had seen that once before, when one of the infantry soldiers had been hit in a firefight. The trooper didn't make it. Then, though, it was not personal for Flint. Though he took every one of their losses to heart, the trooper had been more a number than anything else. He tried to think of the soldier's name, but it would not come to mind. He swore he would remember the names of every soldier that perished, but he couldn't remember one at the moment.

The radio crackled to life. "Duke to Wild Bill, I know you can hear me!"

Flint could hear the chop of rotor blades in the background as Wild Bill responded to his commanding officer. "I hear ya, Duke, but you know I gotta do this."

"Bill, you RTB right now, do you understand me! You land that bird immediately!" Duke said sternly.

There was a short pause. "Can't do that, boss. We don't leave our people behind, and none of you is going to be able to land where they are. Flint, you got your ears on?"

Flint reached quickly for the radio mic key. "I hear you, Wild Bill. Are you sure about this?"

"I'm a pilot, Flint. I'm always sure! Except," he said, almost as an afterthought, "I haven't flown one of these transport beasts in a while. The landing may not be pretty."

"You get us out of here in one piece and I won't say a word, cowboy."

"How's our girl?" Bill asked.

Flint looked to Lifeline, who gave a slight shake of his head to indicate things were not going well.

"The sooner you get here, the better. Lifeline's trying to stabilize her, but I don't think we have a lot of time to spare. Cobra's going to come looking for us at some point if they haven't started already."

"Well, you get that pop gun of yours on the ready. They're going to know exactly where we are once I fly this hulk into your LZ."

"Copy that," Flint said. "What's your ETA?"

"As the crow flies, I'd say I'll be in your neck of the woods in fifteen," Bill said. "You just keep your head down until you hear me coming."

"Roger that!" Flint said excitedly.

Lifeline pulled out a stethoscope from his kit. "You mind telling me what happened?"

Flint didn't follow. "What do you mean?"

"I mean this attack came out of nowhere," Lifeline said, a twinge of anger seeping into his voice. "It was a covert op. How did we get jumped so badly?"

It was a question that had been trickling in the back of Flint's mind from the first moment he saw enemy troopers coming at them, but he had put it on hold until that moment.

"I don't know," he admitted. He put his hand on Allison's head, smoothing her wet hair back in a gentle caress. "But I'm going to find out."

"First thing's first," Lifeline said. "Let's get out of here in one piece."

Flint pulled his sidearm out of its holster and handed it in Lifeline's direction. "Take this," he ordered.

Lifeline gave an ironic laugh. "Good one."

"It's not a request, Ed."

"I don't care what it is. I'm not taking a gun," Lifeline said calmly. "You do your job and I'll do mine. When that bird lands, I don't plan on sticking around and mixing it up with Cobra. If you want to, be my guest. I'll be back for you in the morning."

Ed went back to tending to Lady Jaye. Flint stood, knowing the argument was useless with the medic who had taken a pacifist stance when it came to battle. He walked to the water's edge, looking up river for any signs of pursuing Cobra forces. The darkening skies limited his vision. The roar of the water masked all other sounds.

He checked his rifle. Seven rounds in the magazine and one additional magazine was not a lot if they ran into more trouble. He had always prided himself on his accurate shooting, but the ammunition at his disposal was in short supply. When Cobra came calling, he had the distinct feeling they were going to do it full-force. He had no doubt they would descend on the area when they heard Wild Bill approach. Flint knew his people would be out in the open, subject to incoming fire with no cover. In any case, though, they had to make a move at some point. With one wounded, they would not be able to go far at any speed.

Lifeline's words ground in his mind about the possibility of being sold out to Cobra. They had taken every precaution, kept the setup team small to minimize exposure. He ran through the players in the game, seeing their faces. Joe team ops had become a matter of trust. He trusted everyone who had been accepted into the corps. Lives depended on the very fact.

He felt his anger rise, heat seeping across his face. He would find the answer. He would find who was responsible, and they would pay.

He gave one more look up the river, scanning for any movement but not seeing any. He turned and headed back to where Lifeline and Lady Jaye were waiting. Lifeline had put the soggy jacket over Jaye's legs. Flint knelt down next to her unmoving form again, watching Lifeline work on her back. He saw urgency in the medic's work.

"Ed?"

Lifeline did not look up at Flint. "How much longer until the chopper?"

Flint checked his watch. "About seven minutes."

"Call him and tell him to step it up," Lifeline said calmly.

"I don't know if he can," Flint said.

"Then tell him to sprout wings. Her vitals are dropping like hell," he said, feeling for a pulse in Jaye's wrist.

Flint keyed his radio again. "Flint to Wild Bill. We need an update on your ETA."

"Wild Bill, here," came the response. "You boys just keep looking to the south. You should hear my chop in two minutes!"

Lifeline immediately began packing up his supplies, preparing to move.

"That's good to hear," Flint radioed. "We'll be waiting."

Flint listened for the helicopter, but the sound of the water masked it. He knew from experience that he should have been able to hear it even at two minutes out, but the river was going to make that impossible until Wild Bill was practically on top of them. The enemies in the hills, though, would not be impeded by the river's rush. They would know Wild Bill was in the area right away.

He looked around, estimating where Wild Bill would land the chopper. The LZ was tight, with not much give for error. He had every confidence that the pilot would be able to bring the chopper down accurately, but they would be one big target.

Flint took up position at the water's edge, eagerly scanning the hills for movement. Still, he saw nothing. It was possible Cobra had packed up and gone home, but he doubted it knowing the tenacity of the Dreadnoks. They reveled in the hunt.

He locked and loaded his rifle, hearing the satisfying click of a round sliding into the chamber. Then he heard the distance thump of rotors. The sound grew, echoing off the walls of the river's canyon. He strained to find its source, knowing Bill said he would be approaching from the south but failing to see the bird. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw movement high in the air. Three Sky Strikers flew overhead in formation. Beyond the cover of the trees, he saw a bright flash and heard an explosion as the Strikers engaged Cobra forces.

"Yes!" Flint shouted, pumping his fist in the air.

The air was suddenly roaring with the sound of the helicopter's blades slicing through the cooling night air. Wild Bill began his careful descent, turning slightly left and right trying to fit the chopper in to the tight space. The cowboy had brought a medevac chopper, one with no defensive capabilities. While Lifeline would have what he needed, there would be no weapons on board to fight off an attack by Cobra as they egressed.

Lifeline shielded Lady Jaye's body with his own, protecting her from the spray of water kicked up by the chopper's wash. Flint secured his rifle and bent down to pick her up. Lifeline kept the IV line from getting tangled in the process, putting the bag in her lap as Flint picked her up and turned for the chopper.

Lifeline tore open the door of the Blackhawk and jumped inside, ready to receive Lady Jaye when Flint handed her off to him. Together, they put her on a stretcher that was hooked to the wall. Flint slammed the door shut.

"Go! Go! Go!" he called to Bill in the cockpit.

The chopper lifted off the ground. Flint instinctively reached for a hand strap hanging from the ceiling to steady himself. Lifeline was flipping open supply cabinets, pulling out an oxygen mask and placing it on his patient. With two hands, he grasped her shirt at the collar and pulled sharply, snapping the buttons of her shirt that skittered across the floor. He pulled a portable EKG monitor from the shelf above the stretcher and placed it on her legs, flipping on the switch. He took a handful of leads began placing them on her torso. The monitor lit up as a signal was received.

The helicopter was buffeted by rough air in the mountains. Wild Bill brought it under control quickly. Flint felt the chopper angle down slightly as Bill headed for calmer air at a lower altitude.

Lifeline skinned back Allison's eyelids and shined a penlight in her eyes. They looked lifeless to Flint, unseeing. The medic checked each eye twice, not giving Flint any clue as to the results. Lifeline was in a driven mode, working quickly on his patient now that he had more adequate supplies at his disposal. He cut into the sleeve of her shirt and cleared away the shreds of cloth. He wrapped a blood pressure cuff around her arm, inflating it to take a reading. Flint was silently amazed that any medic could hear a human pulse through a stethoscope above the loud thump of the helo's rotors.

Lifeline finished, hanging the stethoscope around his neck, and looked to the cockpit of the helo. "Bill, we need to punch it!"

The medic moved to the head of the stretcher and slipped on a headset. "Lifeline to Doc."

Flint grabbed a set of headphones hanging near him at the other end of the stretcher. He heard Doc's response.

"Doc here, Lifeline. Go."

"Inbound with a gunshot wound to the back. Diminished breath sounds on the left side. Her pressure's dropping fast. I'm preparing to intubate."

Flint listened as Doc and Lifeline exchanged information. Lifeline was pulling out more equipment as the conversation continued. Flint knew what it meant to intubate a patient. He had seen it done once before on the trooper who had died. This time it was different, though. Lifeline was performing the procedure on a woman with whom Flint had developed a close bond. He went so far as to admit that he felt more for her than he should have in a special operations group of the military. He looked at her, seeing her eyes closed, looking nothing more than if she were simply sleeping. He was grateful she was not in pain.

Lifeline completed the procedure and motioned for Flint to come closer. He put Flint's hand on the bag attached to the tube that now protruded from her mouth.

"Squeeze this every five seconds or so," Lifeline ordered.

The monitor began to sound an alarm. It startled Lifeline who looked down at the readings. Even with the most minimal medical training, Flint could see the erratic lines of the readings. Her heart was beginning to fail.

Lifeline called the situation in to Doc as it progressed. Flint could do nothing except continue what Lifeline had told him to do – breathe for Allison. The monitor emitted a steady high-pitched whine as her heartbeat was reduced to a mere flutter. Before Flint knew it, Lifeline was reaching for paddles on the wall, telling Flint to let go of the bag.

"Clear!"

Flint was startled by the sharp flinch of her body as Lifeline administered the first shock. The monitor registered a result almost immediately. Steadier dips and spikes began crawling across the screen. Lifeline nodded for Flint to start pressing the bag again. Lifeline injected more medications into the IV line.

The helo began to turn to the left. Flint knew they were on final approach to the base. He looked out the window and saw that Bill was coming in hot, far faster than what was normal for a landing. He could see people waiting on the ground, huddled, ready to receive them once they landed.

The wheels touched down on the tarmac. Almost immediately, the door was opened to the Blackhawk. Two corpsmen jumped inside and prepared to disconnect the stretcher from the wall. Lifeline took over Flint's duty. They moved Lady Jaye out of the chopper quickly, laying the stretcher on a waiting gurney and rushed off toward the triage area of the base.

Bill began powering down the chopper. The blades began slowing as the engine quieted. Flint watched as the medical entourage disappeared into the bright light of the double doors to the medical unit. He picked up his rifle, securing the safety.

Silhouetted against the light, he recognized Duke's form coming toward him at a quick clip. He reached Flint rather quickly. He could tell the unit's commander was loaded for bear.

Flint tried to brush past him. "I don't have time for this, Duke. I have to get in there."

"You need to make time," Duke countered. "I need to know what happened."

Flint stopped short. "What happened?" he asked, incredulous. "We got jumped, that's what happened! Our top secret mission was compromised, that's what happened!"

"I know," Duke said calmly, unfazed by Flint's ire. "I need you to help me figure out how. Can you do that?"

"Not right now," Flint said, pushing past Duke. "I have to get in there," he said again, his anger welling in his chest.

Duke grabbed hold of Flint's arm, stopping his motion. "They're taking care of her, Dash. There's nothing more you can do. Right now, you need to get into some dry greens and get debriefed on what happened." Duke lessened his grip. "Come on."

Duke reached out and took the rifle from Flint's hand. Flint was exhausted, the adrenaline finally bleeding off his senses. Bill approached them. Duke nodded in Bill's direction.

"Bill?" Duke said.

"I'll take care of him," Bill assured. He clapped a hand on Flint's shoulder. "Come on, Flint. The sooner we get all this done, the sooner you can check on her."

Flint's shoulders slumped, knowing he was in no position to fight the two men. He closed his eyes, giving in to their request. He nodded slightly after a moment and headed for the barracks as ordered.