Chap. 1 – The OTHER Hills

Jane POV – Volturi Catsle, Volterra, Italy

I sneered at the filthy traitor kneeling on the ground in front of me. Ever since that disaster in Forks fifteen years ago, many have foolishly thought they could challenge us. Soon, we would have to fix the problem at the source and kill the Cullens. Unfortunately, today was not that day.

Aro posed another question, "Tell me, Osric, where are the rest of your coven?"

Osric responded by spitting on my master's robes. Oh, that would not be tolerated. I focused on him and focused on causing him as much pain as possible. As the smile started to crawl across my face, the traitor screamed. I never grew tired of that sound.

Aro let me go for a little bit, then glanced my way and motioned for me to stop. The screaming stopped, but my smile stayed firm.

Aro addressed him again, "Osric, I think you should refrain from spitting. Jane doesn't seem to like it. Do you, Jane?"

I smiled when I addressed him, "No, Master."

Aro smiled, and turned back to Osric. "Now, my poor, misguided friend, let us review the mess you are in. You came to Volterra intending to spy on us. Your coven is recruiting others to try and destroy us. All of this, we know. The only thing that we don't know, the one thing you have someone been able to hide from me, is where exactly your coven is. Tell us, and we will spare you."

Osric looked up at my master with defiance in his eyes. "No," was his answer.

Aro signed theatrically. "Very well. Then we shall have to make you more cooperative. Jane, Felix, take our guest to the lower levels. Perhaps, he will change his mind down there."

Felix and I exchanged gleeful glances, then gave Aro a cheerful, "Yes, Master."

Felix picked him up and roughly carried him down towards the dungeons hidden below the castle. Had the walls not been so thick, the humans outside would have been worried and disturbed by the constant screaming that persisted for five hours.

I enjoyed it very much.

David Cain POV – US Army Firebase Phoenix, Kunar Province, Afghanistan

I walked into the Colonel's office and snapped to attention, "Sir, Sergeant David Cain reporting as ordered, sir!"

The Colonel looked up from his desk, "At ease, soldier."

I relaxed, and looked directly at the base commander. "Sir, you said you wanted to see me?"

The Colonel rolled his tongue around in his mouth for a second. Not a good sign. "Sergeant, take a seat." I did.

I could tell by the expression on the Colonel's face that this was not going to be a good conversation.

"Sergeant, how old are you?" Oh, shit.

"Sir, twenty years old."

"Date of birth?"

"January twenty eight, nineteen-ninety-one."

The Colonel then got a slightly angry look on his face, "Are you sure?"

"Yes, sir," I lied.

"Because I have a report on my desk," he held up the damning report to highlight his point, "that says you were in fact born in nineteen-ninety-three, making you sixteen at the time of enlistment. You intentionally falsified information on your application and enlisted illegally. Care to explain yourself, Sergeant?"

Shit. I wanted to give a smart ass response, along the lines of "to get away from my drunken, abusive father and drunken, indifferent mother". Since I doubted that would do any good, I decided to try a different approach.

"Sir, permission to speak freely?"

"By all means, Sergeant."

"Sir, I've been with the 75th Rangers for over three years, and I've spent two of those years here. I've received commendations from several commanding officers, including you. I have never failed to successfully complete a mission or disobeyed an order. Sir, I'm sure you're a very busy man, so why don't we cut to the point?"

The Colonel smiled, "That's what I like about you, boy."

That confused me a little. "Sir?"

"If I confronted any of the other under ages on this base, I'm sure they'd sputter and try to make excuses. But you, even when your backs against the wall, you're still full of piss and vinegar, aren't you?"

I clenched my jaw, and tried not to respond. The Colonel noticed, and looked a little… proud?

"You're in Kilo Company, is that right?"

"Yes, sir."

"Third squad?"

"Yes, sir."

"As I'm sure you've heard, your current squad leader, Sergeant First Class Iossa, is facing medical discharge, and will be going back home next week. I'd like to give you his position."

I wasn't expecting that. "Um, sir?"

"You're right. You have been an outstanding Ranger, and you've got a lot of potential. I'm not about to lose another good solider, especially one that actually wants to be in this forsaken hell hole."

The Colonel looked back at his desk, "This report is going to end with me investigating these claims and then finding them baseless. No action will be taken."

"Thank you very much, sir." I said.

"One more thing, have you given any thought to going back to school one day?"

"No, sir. I like were I am." And I really meant it; I never liked school. Too much drama and repetition. I liked a new challenge every day and hated drama.

"Have you ever heard of Norwich University?" the Colonel asked.

I thought for a moment. "Military school, somewhere in Vermont, um, rivals with West Point. Is that right, sir?"

"Yes. Ever been there?"

"No, sir."

"Well, I've spoken with the school President and the Commandant of Cadets. They are willing to accept you in the fall semester."

I was stunned. "Sir, I don't understand."

"Sergeant, as you know, all Army Officers are required to have a college degree, and I think you would make an invaluable officer."

I was beyond stunned. I had gone from about to be thrown out of the Army onto my ass to being the Colonel's favorite in the blink of an eye. I'd call that a good day, but there were defiantly a few things on my mind.

"Sir, I'm not sure if I can afford-"

"You'd be there on an Army scholarship. Full ride."

"Sir, you said I would begin in the fall. Does that mean that I wouldn't be going home before the end of my deployment?"

The Colonel smiled again, "You really do like it here, don't you, soldier? And yes, you'll be staying here until last day of your rotation."

I knew that offers like this were extremely rare and when they did come along, there was only one response.

"Sir, yes sir. Thank you, sir."

"Good choice, Sergeant. But before you go, there is one more thing."

He reached into a desk drawer and pulled something out. Before I could see what it was, he stood up and walked to the front of the desk where I was sitting.

"Room, attention, hut!" the Colonel grunted.

I jumped to my feet and stood at attention.

"Sergeant Cain, it is with honor that I am promoting you to Sergeant First Class, third platoon leader, Kilo Company." As he spoke, he replaced the rank tab on my uniform.

"Congratulations, Sergeant," the Colonel said with a smile.

"Thank you, sir."

The Colonel then raised his hand in salute, and said, "Rangers lead the way."

"All the way!"