Chapter 4: Battle Ground

The man visibly deflated and the man with the shot gun came running up behind him. Brad's men all trained their weapons on the new comer, Rick raised his hands.

"So what are you gonna do shoot us in the face? Yeah I saw you guys at the hospital, shooting down everyone you saw, people screaming for their lives it was a bloodbath. Rick, what did I tell you these guys weren't gonna be any help."

Brad could tell this man was unhinged. And would probably get the others actually killed, though he was curious about this hospital incident. Probably some weekend warrior National Guardsmen, trigger happy mother fuckers, one undisciplined grunt causing a whole chain reaction.

Brad decided to be magnanimous. "Well we aren't whatever fucking National Guardsmen you saw. Marines don't shoot innocent civilians, we do happen to shoot men who point guns at us. I have myself and my men. How many rounds do you have? Are all your people willing to die for you, my men are willing and ready to die trying for me? Just take your damn water, the Georgia summer must be hell for you, because one-hundred and twenty in the shade during a war was basically a vacation for us." Brad then signaled with his fist making all of his men retreat backwards very quickly. They then jumped into the back of the transport vehicle which sped off with the Ozarka truck close behind.

Brad hoped those rednecks didn't have enough time to get into their convoy and chase them. Brad wanted them off the major highway as quick as possible. His driver knew the map front to back already so he relayed the message and they were on a small paved two lane road soon. The sun was setting and since they had covered so much ground, going as fast as they did, he decided they would break for the night.

As they began to set up camp for the night, Doc Amanda came up to Brad and asked about the other survivors. He told her the truth she got visibly angry, called him a heartless bastard and that he truly lived up to his nickname. The rest of the men heard all of her tirade and most avoided her the rest of the night. Even Evan who she had been developing somewhat of a relationship with, she usually bunked next to him at night. She knew he was upset that night as he went to sleep on the other side of the camp. The Doc was sitting alone on her new sleeping bag when Nate sat down next to her.

"So you're willing to be seen with me. I questioned the Supreme Authority don't you know it will look bad if you associate with me." The Doc said wrapping herself in a zip up jacket, Evan had found for her.

"You should try and cut him a little slack, Amanda. He's under enough stress as it is. Brad's just trying to keep his men alive." Nate responded.

"Because their lives are more important than those people we left on the side of the road. We have the gas we could have brought them with us." She said turning to face them.

"Ok, say we did bring them and we all make it to the MCAS. What then?" Nate asked.

"What do you mean?" She asked.

"They're civilians Amanda. I bet there is a lockdown in effect, military personnel only. They will be turned away. Brad's supposed to watch that. Offer those people hope then literally be the one to take it away." Nate said.

"But I'm a civilian." She said affronted.

"But you are also a doctor and not just any doctor, a surgeon. With this outbreak, I bet the military lost a lot of doctors, so they would take any they could get even civilian ones." Nate finished.

"So I'm more valuable than some woman who was an accountant." The doctor concluded.

"Unfortunately, you are. And making decisions like the one Brad had to make today was one of the reasons I left the Marine Corps." Nate said sadly.

"What were the other reasons?" She asked.

"Brad mainly." Nate said smiling.

"Working with him made you want to change your career?" The doctor seemed confused.

"No, see it was never going to be a career for me. I knew I would move on to do something else one day. Brad though he was born to be a Marine, this is his career, what he was built to do. And I would never ask him to leave, even when he's on deployment and he can't call me for six months. So I left to not compromise his career anymore." Nate finished seeing the recognition in the Doc's eyes.

"How long have you two…?" She asked.

"Seven years this November. Not that you're asking or I'm telling. " Nate said grinning.

"Seven years wow, I didn't even get a hint! You two have to always hide, don't you?" She whispered.

"Not always, but most of the time, yes we do. Brad's also not a big sharer so most people don't notice or are too afraid to ask him about his personal life. And everyone also knows the ex-fiancé story so they assume he's too broken for a long-term relationship." Nate said quietly.

She looked across the camp and saw Brad looking at the two of them intently.

"I should probably go over and apologize." She said getting up from her sleeping bag.

"Something I can do for you Doc?" Brad asked leaning against a tree on watch, Lt. Walker was next to relieve him.

"I just wanted to say I was out of line earlier. I should not have said what I did without knowing all the facts. You did the only thing you could, you left them food and water while keeping us safe too. You are doing a good job leading us. I know all the men respect you and your judgment. I've done charity work in third-world countries and know you just can't help everyone, sometimes I guess I just wish I could." She finished squeezing Brad's arm. Nate had left her sleeping bag to get some sleep by the transpo vehicle by the time she got back.

Crossing the state-line was a big to-do, the fevered whispers of Get Some, high fives, and hugs all around. They were finally in South Carolina. They had come a long way and did not have much left to go. The biggest downer was finally running out of diesel for the transpo vehicle. The group had managed to scrape, save, and scavenge a lot of fuel but their luck had to run out. They packed all their duffels and other supplies inside the empty places in the Ozarka truck, which thankfully ran on regular unleaded. Evan even managed to find cans of spray paint in an abandoned car. He then drew a huge SOS running the length of the top of the trailer. They also put their signal flag on the hood of the truck.

They had seemed to encounter fewer survivors and more infected in South Carolina. Brad calculated it would take them three days to get to MCAS Beaufort at their current speed. What he did not expect was for Pfc. Morales to finally get a signal on the radio. It happened towards the late afternoon of their second day in South Carolina, they went from static to over hearing a conversation.

It sounded from best Brad and Nate could tell a pilot speaking to what amounted to Air Traffic Control. After listening for a moment longer they tried to send their distress call. Brad about collapsed when he heard, "Solid Copy, interrogative identify yourself." Brad gave them all the needed clearances, at least from as up to date as he knew. They heard the planes about thirty minutes later, the two F/A-18 Hornets raced over their heads tilting their wings from side to side signaling they had seen them. They were given coordinates on where the transport helicopter would pick them up the following day. All the men double timed it, to the open pasture taking the truck as well.

The helicopter was right on schedule the guys went nuts, already having their things packed away. The second the rear hatch opened they all ran in, almost not wanting to give the pilot a chance to say no. When they landed they were all taken straight to the base's infirmary. After preliminary exams found them uninfected Brad was met by Marine General Thompson who was in command of the Air Station now. Word of finding twelve live Marines that had hiked across two states to get to their base had garnered his attention. Brad first introduced himself, and then went on to recount the events at the survival school, finally their journey. After the debrief, he was asked to introduce his men, he left Nate and Amanda for last.

"This is Capitan Nathaniel Fick, USMC retired. Staff Sargent Stafford and I served under him during OIF1 in 2003. We stayed in contact and he was stopping by for a visit to the school when this outbreak occurred. My men and I would not have made it here without his courage and guidance. Lastly this is Dr. Amanda Wilson, we found her in Atlanta. She is a pediatric reconstructive surgeon, but has served faithfully as our medic during our journey. Best Corpsmen I've ever met." Brad said standing at attention.

"At easy Master Sargent, you and your men will be written up for commendation, yours is an amazing story of heroism and true Devil Dog spirit. You are a tough bunch of bastards, nothing can kill a Marine." General Thompson finished. The men gave an enthusiastic Oorah in return.

"Capitan Fick, I have read your book and recommend it to all my junior officers. This is war time, I know you have retired but are you willing to re-up? Lead your men again?" The General asked.

"I can assume we are under martial law at the moment? Is legislature passed by the most recent administration still in effect, specifically the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell?" Nate asked the General, he saw Brad out of the corner of his eye twitch almost imperceptibly.

"Capitan, people who should be dead are trying to kill civilians we have bigger things to worry about. But if that is your only reservation, the answer is yes the repeal is still in effect." The General said a little taken aback.

Brad stepped forward, "Permission to speak freely, sir." The General nodded.

"Capitan Fick and I are in a monogamous committed relationship which is why I can see his reservations at re-upping. But we are both extremely professional and neither would risk our men's lives for a foolish or selfish reason." Brad finished, the General seeming to try and take in all the information just given to him.

"If that's all, I'll send down Capitan Jamieson with the paperwork for your re-enlistment, Major Fick. I'll expect you, once you have medical clearance, to be at central command." General Thompson finished. Frank Thompson besides being a Marine was a loving father and grandfather to his two grandchildren from his daughter and her wife. They lived in Maryland and he prayed every day that they were safe.

"Doctor Wilson, Ma'am will you being staying with us? The Navy I'm sure would be more than happy to have another surgeon here." The General stated.

"Well in the interest of full disclosure, I am engaged to Staff Sargent Evan Stafford now. This was all very sudden but if you have someone to officiate I would marry him tomorrow. And if Evan's here then I want to be here as well. I don't know if I would make a good sailor but know I am a damn good surgeon, if you need me I'd be more than happy to sign on the dotted line." She responded looking up to meet his eye line.

"A wedding Father Mahoney will be ecstatic, and from what Master Sargent Colbert has told me you will make an excellent sailor. Thank you for looking after our men on their way here." The General finished walking out.

Brad and his men had to stay in the infirmary for only a week, which shocked the doctors considering they had been walking and fighting infected for two months. Doc Wilson did really manage to keep them relatively healthy. By now the whole base knew about the Georgia Dozen, the devil dogs who walked there from Atlanta. Father Mahoney was the base chaplain and was indeed ecstatic. The turnout for that Sunday's service was so large he decided to move it to one of the outdoor mess halls.

Amanda had a pair of gold strappy heels at the bottom of her suitcase and at the moment she was glad she kept them. She also pulled out that dress found along the Georgia highways. Evan borrowed a pair of dress blues from one of his Marine brothers on base. He asked Brad to be his best man and he wore a pair of clean camies. General Thompson even came to the service sitting in the front row in full dress uniform.

After a brief introductory prayer by Father Mahoney, Nate and Amanda appeared at the back of the tent. Nate was wearing a pair of pressed khakis and one of his dress shirts that he originally packed for his Atlanta trip. Amanda's dress was formal blue silk off the shoulder number. She looked ready for a red carpet, having dug out her make bag from her old suitcase. Brad and Evan looked down the aisle as they slowly walked towards them.

A/N: Thanks for reading please review! This was originally a crossover, but while writing I realized that Brad wouldn't have the other characters with him. This is my first gen kill story and I'm a little discouraged to write more in a fandom I love so much, because of lack of response.