As Nevers got to his feet they both stopped. A buzzing sound had started to their right followed by a pop on the left. They both jumped and darted to the wall of the building and flattened themselves against it.
Holding their breath there were no more noises. Nevers glanced up, the halogen light above the door was on. He poked Al and pointed up.
Al was leaning against the door and poked Nevers back. Looking at the door he could see why. Al’s weight had pushed it slightly ajar. Noiselessly he opened it and they both looked inside.
It looked no different than every other orderly room Nevers had ever been in. A cage on the right full of cabinets, shelves, and supplies. The supply room. Across the open expanse was the vault door for the arms room with a window beside it. A few tables were set up along the opposite wall and some folding chairs. Opposite the arms room was a door, more than likely a bathroom. In between was a hallway leading to the front where the offices were and the all glass front door. Standing here someone on the road would be able to see all the way through and spot them.
The two slipped in and silently shut the door behind them. A muffled click sounded as the latch caught. The soles of their boots made no further noise as they carefully walked in. Without thinking about it Al went to the supply cage side and Nevers to the left along the empty wall. As he got to the front Al pushed on the door to the cage, it was unlocked.
A few more steps and Nevers was at the arms room. Locked. The window was locked too. He glanced back to see Al disappear behind the counter of the supply room, then carefully moved to the hallway. Poking only a head around the corner he could see the road was empty so he started down the hallway, eyes glued on the door.
At the end of the short hall the room opened out. To one side set back slightly were two offices, on the right was a counter with a wooden gate in front of the large area in front of what would be the commander’s office. He glanced at the offices then pushed the gate, the hinges creaked but opened easily.
Outside a vehicle was coming. He could hear it down the road. He shut the gate, not allowing the springs to swing and ducked down. There were blinds on the windows that were closed but he moved in his crouched position anyway. Weaving between two desks he approached the window and lifted a slat a half inch.
A Humvee was approaching, driving down the road. He could not tell if it was a simple patrol or if they were looking for the two of them. As it passed the window he could see there were two men inside. None in the back. They were both scanning the road ahead and not looking directly at the building. He froze. There was almost no way for the men to notice him, unless he moved or dropped the slat. Movement was the enemy. He held his breath and watched as the vehicle began to slow.
Slower and slower until the vehicle all but stopped. The passenger hung out the door and raised his rifle. They were not looking to the side but down the street. A shot rang out, Nevers took his sight off the hummer and looked ahead. A raccoon scampered off into the shrubs across the street. The vehicle sped up as the passenger pulled himself back in.
The tree across the road just past the motor pool made them stop and turn around but now they were not interested in anything except getting back. They hit the gas and never looked back, speeding past the orderly room and on around the corner. Nevers waited two minutes just in case before dropping the slat and standing up. Turning around he noticed a computer atop the desk to his right was on.
A CAC still in the keyboard, he looked underneath and saw it had a battery backup. He hit the mouse and the login screen showed up. The system was locked, but had not been completely rebooted. A reboot would require a bit locker encryption code but having a CAC meant only a PIN. Glancing around the desk he saw a baby picture. The swaddled blanket and blue pink striped knit cap all newborns wore. The frame had a date.
On a hunch, Nevers keyed in the baby’s birthday and the lock screen disappeared.
This was a Training NCO’s computer. He needed to type memos, file records, keep track of PT Tests and weapon qualifications, but it still had internet access. There was no way to get into the GIS database but there was a link to the base-wide emergency notification system. It was mostly used for receiving messages, weather alerts, exercise warnings, and on occasion the notification that an enemy force was at the gates and threatening to overrun the facility. But the iReport functionality had by definition the connectivity to send messages, too.
“Warning: Due to the loss of control for Logue Air Force Base the Doomsday Device has been activated. All nuclear munitions stored in Room 420 of Building 1 will begin detonation sequence by 1010 approximately two hours from now. This is your only warning. All personnel are suggested to leave the area immediately. Again, there will be no further announcements.”
He hesitated before hitting send. They had to have found them by now anyway. Whether they could get in the door or not, the PDRA forces had to know they were there. But what would it hurt. If they had moved them, they would know it was a bluff. If they had not been moved and they knew of their presence they might be scared into evacuating. If they knew nothing about them they soon would. At that point either they would panic and leave, or move them. Fifty-fifty odds. Not good for betting, but regardless, there would be no way to trace the message back to Nevers. And they would be long gone before they could find this room, too. He hit send.
Three seconds later he heard beeps coming from the other computers in the orderly room.
Five seconds later and Nevers was through the creaky gate and headed to the back.
He met Al with a handful of MREs and could see he had stuffed his pockets full too. “Anything else you want?” Al asked as he handed the packets to him.
“Maybe some toilet paper? You know you always need to pick up toilet paper when you go to the store,” he joked as he crammed the MREs into his cargo pockets. “Let’s go, I’ve been on this stupid base long enough. They can absolutely kiss my ass if they think I’m re-enlisting for this shit.”
Al laughed as he walked to the back door. With the door closed it was dark and no one could see through the building but when they opened it all bets were off. Together they stood to the side and looked back at the front. Nevers heard the computer in the supply room beep with the notice and smiled. Al gave him a quizzical look but then they opened the door and walked out.
“What do you mean? Back in Building One?” Lothar’s voice was controlled but anger was clearly evident as he talked on the satellite phone. He looked in the direction of the road to the main camp. There was a crew of men clearing it but they had not made much headway in the day since the storm. Looking back at the bunkers, the crew working there had not made much headway either.
The tropical storm had put out the fire and allowed them the upper hand in the battle. The Marines fought hard, tooth and nail. They fought with a bravery and tenacity that Lothar had not seen in any American troops on Atlantica ever. In the end, their stubbornness and seeming inability to surrender did them in. Had the fire continued to burn it would have been a different story.
Many of the PDRA troops had scrambled for cover, but the smart ones realized that the sugar pines surrounding the bunkers were likely to fall during a rough storm and the bunkers would be a safer place than just in the truck. They were the ones that led the advance on the open American bunker and eventually overwhelmed the Marines allowing not just control of the site, but a dry place for everyone to stay.
The one bunker he needed was locked tight. No way in, and the tunnel from the other bunkers had flooded during the storm. Someone reported there might be an american inside, but after blocking off the ventilation shafts the door never opened. He looked at his watch, even bringing in divers they would not be able to bring the weapons through the tunnel, if there was an American inside there was not enough time to wait for his air to run out for him to open the door. If there were nukes in Building 1 that might be the only way to salvage this whole operation. “On my way,” he said into the radio.
The only way he could tell he was awake was because that was when the pain grew. It ebbed and flowed but so did consciousness. He remembered the fire, and the rain starting. A tree had fallen over him, but something caught it and kept it from crushing him. Fallen bodies and the tree had given him what little protection he had during the storm. That and fading in and out.
His right arm was still useless and his abdomen hurt. The bleeding had stopped but not the pain. Over the course of the storm he had slowly rolled over until he was semi propped up and could look into the compound. A tall man who had to be the one in charge was talking with a subordinate. As a wave of pain and nausea washed over him he spotted the weapon. Almost out of reach but close. Moving slow had been key before. None of the soldiers running around paid him attention, intent on whatever they were ordered.
The man left and Bacon could hear a truck starting. The soldier he had been talking with was motioning and calling over others. His fingers touched the barrel and closed around it. Please have rounds left.
Second in command Raul Cardenas was worried. Major Lothar had entrusted him with clearing out the small arms but still wanted to breach the last bunker. Glancing left he could see Lothar’s vehicle go around a copse of trees and disappear. That was when it happened.
The private Cardenas had just motioned over fell down with a shot to the head. Others began to scatter. Who was left to shoot them? Cardenas dropped down and crouched behind a box. He had no clue which direction the shot came from so he was either out of the line of fire or presenting a perfect target against the green box.
Another shot. Another soldier went down.
They were dropping the boxes now. Instead of loading the trucks the troops jumped in the back. Panic was setting in. They had won the battle but were spooked.
The first truck pulled away with the tailgate still down. A box of M-4 carbines fell out as he sped down the road. Some just ran into the woods. Another truck took off, this one headed the other direction. No boxes fell out, but as he turned sharply a soldier was slung out into a tree where he landed with a sickening crash.
More shots, now shouts. His support was running. Cardenas stood up to yell at them to come back. But the words never came. He opened his mouth but instead of air he breathed in lead.
The bolt locked to the rear. No more rounds. But before he could release the magazine Bacon passed out again. It would not have mattered since he had no more clips to put in. The PDRA soldiers were abandoning their duties as quick as they could. A full on rout, by one man. One Marine. The battle for the bunkers was over.