Okay, so I couldn't leave you hanging quite that badly, hee hee. Enjoy.

Ch. 40

Randel Oland was awake in an instant. Be a soldier long enough, and you know when the enemy is close. Fight in a war long enough, and you know when they have found your hiding place.

"No, STOP!" he shouted too late as he felt the dart jab his neck. In that moment, he learned several things at once:

These guys, dressed as surgeons, were bold enough to attack right in the Imperial state hospital.

There were far too many of them, about six or seven in all, for Randel to mount any sort of successful counterattack.

And worst of all, he couldn't keep his promise to Alice. She'd look for him but find him gone.

Well, that just couldn't happen.

Randel sat up and managed to chokeslam the closest one to him, crushing his windpipe in the process. Two of the larger men each hooked an arm and tried to pin him but he shrugged them off, trying to stand. However, he quickly realized it was a mistake because the drugs in the dart were already starting to impede his balance and focus. Finally, one tackled him to the floor as the rest punched and kicked him into submission. To be safe, they shot a second dart into him, just in case.

Randel shouted and cursed, thrashed and kicked, spit and bit until he had no strength left. Wearied and woozy, he felt himself being lifted onto and gurney and covered with a sheet. While still fighting to remain awake, he saw a flash of a tattoo on one of the men's wrists. His blood ran cold. He'd seen that tattoo before.

Before they left his room the "surgeon" with that tattoo stood over him. He was older with a thin, wiry frame, but he still moved with the bearing of a king. Although he was masked, Randel could tell he was smiling in triumph.

"Corporal Oland," he rasped, "last of the 901 Anti-Tank Troop, you are hereby under arrest and are to be extradited for war crimes. You have the right to remain silent, although I doubt you will exercise that right." He punched him in the face.

Randel shook it off and smirked, all gentleness gone. "You still hit like a girl, Commander Daron Hildebrandt," he growled. "This isn't an arrest. You know as well as I that you can't arrest me on Imperial soil. This is kidnapping, plain and simple, and you and your team are still a bunch of cowardly rats!"

"If you think to gain sympathy simply because you're recovering from surgery, think again!" Hildebrandt wheezed, and punched him again in the jaw. It wasn't hard enough to knock him out, but Randel began seeing white starbursts. Still, the injured Corporal started laughing.

"Actually, I know a girl who hits harder than you do. Hell, she has more balls than you do, you pencil-necked, knock-kneed, shriveled up maggot!"

Incensed, the Commander thundered to his troops, disregarding all caution. "Take him away!"

Thinking of Alice, Randel attempted to struggle but found he was strapped to the gurney.

"No!" he said, his strength fading fast, "I promised to stay! I have to! I promised! Lieutenant! Alice! ALICE!