In 1815, General Andrew Jackson reported that fifty-five people died during the Battle of New Orleans, along with one hundred and eighty-five wounded and ninety-three missing soldiers. In truth, there were fifty-six dead soldiers, but this was a truth that the famous general would never be privy to.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs, then a lifer in the United States Army, had died in that famous battle, having taken a bullet while trying to defend the civilians in a house where he had been given shelter only a few nights before. The wounds he had received had been grievous and severe, and much more than the saw bones who traveled with the Jackson's army could attend. In the end, he had been lain along side the rest of the dead and dying in anticipation of the moment when he would join them.

The pain was excruciating at first, blotting out all of his senses so that he could only feel what was happening to himself. Everything else around him was an afterthought.

Gradually, however, the pain began to fade as Gibbs drifted in between this life and the next. He could feel his life slowly draining from his body. He grew colder, his limbs heavier, stiffer. He could no longer move his head from side to side. He could no longer see anything beyond the tip of his nose. His eyes grew weak, hurt by the light. The people moving around outside his peripheral vision became fuzzy beast, their voices muffled. Their actions blurred into lines of color with no form.

Any yet, at the same time, Gibbs became more aware of the dying who lay on either side of him. The stench of their decomposing bodies cloyed in his nostrils, poisoning the air which he still labored to breath. Their moans and groans - their pathetic attempts communicate with anyone - echoed in his ears and reverberated throughout his entire body until they leaked out his mouth. One by one, he listened helplessly as his companions shuddered and breathed their last breaths of life, all the while realizing that he would soon join them.

When it became utterly unbearable, he prayed - in his mind only, as his voice was now too weak and too horse to form the words - that God would take him now. He prayed for a release from the agony. When his prayer was finished, darkness enfolded him at last, the light of his last sunset vanishing from his sight as death came to claim.

Hours - or maybe even days later, for there was no one there to tell him how long it had been - Gibbs awoke beneath a pile of dead, rotting corpses with a seizing gasp as air rushed through his body once again. In the dark of night, with only the light of the moon to guide him, he struggled to pull himself up and out of the mass grave.

No one saw him as he stumbled off into the night, because no one watched the dead. No one, that is, except the saw bones who *had* been watching and waiting out Death's slow claiming of another soul. He approached Gibbs in the woods a few miles from the camp and convinced him not to go back to his platoon. Because he was special and there much he had to learn if he was to survive the Game.

In the final tally, Lieutenant L.J. Gibbs was listed as missing. Some said he deserted, but he never returned to his family, so all that remained were rumors.

While his mother and sisters mourned, the fallen soldier began life anew.