Thanks to Chris Johnson for creating and letting the fine Major Brent come and play in my story. He first showed up in my realm in 'Let's Be Honest'. Apparently they go back many years. He also calls Garrison, Michael. Thanks again, Chris.
Also, I am not a lawyer so some of the charges may not be authentic.
This story follows Another Mission and The Challenge though it can stand alone.
All That's Left
The man sat slumped at the table, exhaustion evident from his lack of alertness. His arms were laid parallel on the table in front of him, hand to elbow, his neck slumped between his shoulders. Slowly his head lowered until it lay on his arms, face down.
Major Eugene Brent had just come into the Mess tent. He had paused at the door to get his bearings when he spotted a familiar figure and watched as the head sagged coming to rest on the crossed arms. The total exhaustion was a familiar sight with soldiers all around but it was out of character for this individual. The man's companion was over by the coffee urn so he moved in and sat down. Eugene sat and waited but there was no response.
"Hello Chief. It is Chief isn't it?" The head rose slowly until he was sitting upright. His face was blank for a moment then took on it's usual guarded look. He didn't speak. With a quick look about Eugene asked, "So, where is everybody?"
The look of pain was obvious. "He's gone ta get coffee."
Eugene knew the Special Forces teams were, by necessity, very close. Their success and their very lives depended on their ability to work together, to rely on each other, to look after each other. Anything less meant death. From all he had read about this team, they were like brothers, squabbling in their down time but ferociously loyal to each other and their leader in times of stress. They were a good team.
Now when asked about the others Chief only mentioned one other. Eugene had been back in the US for the past three weeks so he had not read any reports on the intelligence teams operating in Europe. There was one way to find out. "So what happened?"
Chief was not one to talk, he preferred silence. Usually he let someone else do the talking but there was no one else there. He held his tongue.
Eugene suspected the reason for the silence and played his trump card. "It's okay to tell me, my clearance is higher than Craigs." He pointed to the gold leaf and said with a smile, "If you don't tell me I'll just order him to tell me."
Chief looked at the Major then over to the man standing in line. He recognized the Major as one of the Warden's friends and knew somewhere in the back of his mind that having his friend order him to do something wouldn't be comfortable for Garrison. "Casino got hurt coupla missions back. Tore up his knee. Doc said he probably wouldn't ever walk again. They're gonna ship him to a hospital in the States. Then on the next one we got separated and Goniff got caught. He was missin' for almost two weeks. The Resistance found him by accident and brought him out. He's alive but .." he shook his head, pain evident in his eyes. "They gave him his parole and sent him home. His Mom's lookin' after him. This last mission we went on we got caught in a bombing raid. Debris from the blast caught Actor an' he was trapped in the wreckage. Skull fracture. Sent him home too. They got their parole."
"What about you? You OK?"
He nodded but didn't meet Eugene's eyes.
Was he feeling guilty that he had survived? It was not unheard of for the survivor to wish they had been the one to be injured or killed. And how was Michael handling it? The majority of his men, lost, still alive but lost to the team. That was a terrible blow. Would he get replacements? How would they fit into this unique team?
Garrison approached the table and placed a cup in front of each man. He then turned to retrace his steps.
"Michael, wait." Eugene jumped to his feet. "Sit. I'll get it." By the time he returned Chief's head was again on his arms and Craig did not appear to be aware. He waited a moment for his presence to register then asked, "You okay? Chief told me what happened."
Garrison exhaled slowly through his nose then nodded. He looked beyond tired. "Just gotta get some sleep then we go out again."
"What? You're in no state to go out. Unless you mean twenty four hours of sleep then you've gotta tell them that you can't. I'll tell 'm."
"Eugene. It's just an in and out. The guy knows me, trusts me. I'm the only one that can. I got two weeks when I get back."
"And Chief?" he asked nodding in his direction.
Craig looked over at the exhausted man and whispered, "Not going."
Eugene was glad that the man would have a chance to rest, he obviously needed it but that meant Craig was going alone. He raised an eyebrow questioning the wisdom. His friend refused to make eye contact. His mind was made up.
"Chief? Let's go. Time for bed, Chief." There was no reaction until the officer nudged the table. The head rose, eyes bleary then focused as they looked around. The two men rose and walked out towards the area set aside for sleeping.
Eugene wondered how he could find out where Michael was going and how he could go with him. A single operator was not a rarity but with at least a backup, there was a better chance of survival. He would give them a few minutes to get clear then he would go see the Colonel.
It was a good idea and might even have worked except he was forced to make a decision. The Colonel had agreed to let Eugene go along. He did not like it but he had no grounds to refuse. The Major had grabbed his bag from his bed and was approaching the jeep where Garrison was stowing his gear. It was a ten minute run to the airfield. As he neared he heard an unusual sound and turned to look. An MP was holding the flap to the tent open. Chief came out followed by two more MP's guns at the ready. As he cleared the flap the prisoner turned and attacked the nearest man. He went down but the second man moved into position. Punches were thrown. Major Brent was aware that the jeep was moving off. He did not want Garrison going alone and could have called out but the gunshot silenced him. Chief, still struggling, stumbled then tried to run. The third guard tackled him and he went down hard.
Major Brent strode over to the tangled pile. "What's going on here?"
"We have orders to arrest him on charges of murder and desertion."
"And when was this crime committed?"
"I'm sorry sir, I don't have the details. Just my orders, Sir." He saluted sharply and bent down to help lift the unconscious man.
"Brigadier General Harramond's Office sent the orders," said Colonel Larsons. "The man in question was charged with being absent without leave, murder and now resisting arrest and assault. He is to be shackled and returned the base to face the charges. He's facing some serious time."
"I would like to see the prisoner, Sir."
"You're a lawyer now?"
"No, Sir, but I do know the man." The Colonel nodded and the Major headed out.
Lacking suitable holding facilities, Chief had been handcuffed and put in the back of a truck. A guard was stationed at the rear. Brent stepped up on the bumper and stepped inside. Covered as it was it made it dim inside but he could see the man lying on the floor.
"Chief?" There was no response. He tried again, "Chief?" He turned to the tailgate and asked, "Has he been seen by a medic?"
"Not yet. One was called but hasn't turned up yet," came the slightly muffled reply from the guard.
"I can't leave."
"That's an order."
The guard muttered a yes sir and left. Eugene put his hand on Chiefs shoulder then his fingers on his throat. He was alive but unresponsive. The fact that he was able to touch him this way proved there was something wrong.
"What've you got? I'm due in surgery in two minutes," asked the weary young doctor. Brent explained about the fight and the fall. The Doctor examined his patient then declared that he was going to be all right. "He's sleeping. Probably exhausted just like three quarters of the men here."
"Why can't I wake him? You sure it's not a head injury? He fell hard."
"Look, I can understand you caring about your man but I couldn't find anything wrong with him. Unlike the men lined up in Pre-Op; men with blood and guts exposed."
"Thanks Doctor," said Eugene as he turned back to the prone figure. He had not moved. He had to do something. He moved to the tailgate and asked the guard to get some water and a cloth. He saw the look he was given and under the circumstances he ignored it. When the man returned he moved back to Chief's side and after calling his name and nudging him to no avail, he placed to cool cloth on his fore head. That got a reaction.
Chief opened his eyes then blinked. It was obvious that he was confused. Eugene called his name and Chief sat up rather faster than he should have. In his attempt to prevent himself from falling over he tried to put his hands out to brace himself. The cuffed hands seemed to confuse then horrify him. He looked around then centred on Eugene accusingly. "Get'm off."
"I can't. I don't have the key."
"Get Garrison, better still, take me to him." He started to rise.
"Chief, you've been arrested."
"What? For what? I haven't done anything. You gotta get me outta here. I gotta find Garrison before he leaves."
"He's already gone. Now, tell.."
"No," he breathed out in disbelief. "He went alone. How could you let'm go alone. He hasn't got a chance. I need to be there. How long ago did he leave?" Chief headed for Eugene and the back of the truck.
"Chief, you've been arrested. You aren't going anywhere."
"I have to," said the Indian with a determination that spoke volumes.
"I have to. That's all. Either you help me or get outta the way." Eugene saw the determination. He did not fear for his safety but knew the determination was more than loyalty. The word arrest did not seem to bother the man as much as the separation from his leader.
"Tell me why."
"Because if you don't I'll have to kill you."
"That will add murder to the charges."
"Don't care. He dies it won't matter. Now, what will it be?"
Eugene saw he was not getting anywhere with that line of questioning so he switched. "Why is it so important for you to get to Garrison?"
"I can't tell you."
"If you want my help then give me something."
"Can't, least, not here."
The Major raised his eyebrow and tipped his head toward the tailgate indicating the guard.
"No one," said Chief quietly.
"If I get you out of here, no funny business. You promise not to take off?"
"No. I'm gone with or without your help."
"You are handcuffed, unarmed and guarded by an armed soldier who is not afraid to shoot. You need my help but I need to know why I should."
Chief weighed his options. He knew where he had to go but the odds did not look good. If he was alone he would try it but could he really hurt Garrison's friend? He took a deep breath and exhaled through his nose. "I won't take off but I can't talk here."
"All right." He strode to the back and pulled the flap aside. "I am going to take the prisoner to the latrine. We'll be right back."
That worked until the two men had disembarked and were about to leave when they saw that the guard was starting to follow.
Seeing the look on Eugene's face he said, "Orders."
"I need to speak in private. How good a shot are you? If we stand over by the wall there, could you shoot to kill?"
"Good." The two men walked. "Now what's this about."
Chief glanced over his shoulder and took a few more steps before stopping, making sure his back was to the guard. He stared the Major in the eye, weighing how much to tell him. Could he trust him? And how far?
"Someone's out to kill'm." He would tell him only as much as he needed to get out of here. "He wanted to go in alone ta draw'm out. I convinced the … well, I convinced his boss ta let me go as his back up. I was supposed to go with 'm. That's why I gotta get outta here."
"I can't say."
"Look, I was told, top secret, tell no one. I can't ."
"Have you worked with this person before?"
"If I answer then you'll know. You'll just look up who we worked for or not."
"Granted. Does Garrison trust this person?"
"All right. I'll see what I can do."
"Just get me a knife."
"No. No killing."
The look on Chief's face said that was not what he intended. "I need to cut the tarp."
"I'll get one and bring it with the meal." He turned to go back.
"While I'm here… " and he nodded to the Latrine.
Eugene smiled and the two headed in that direction.
He was as good as his word. Half an hour later Major Brent brought a tray of food to the prisoner and then stood talking to the guard for a few minutes. It wasn't until an hour later when the guard was changed and the off duty guard offered to return the tray that they found the truck empty. Chief was gone. Minutes later a small plane left the airfield heading south. The lone passenger bailed out over coastal France and the plane returned. Actor and Garrison were not the only ones who could pull a con.