Sergeant Sanderson found a ladder to the loft of this barn and climbed up. He could see out the front of the barn but he could not see the road clearly due to the fire and smoke of the farm house. He was thinking that this was not going to be a good day for him and the men that had survived the destruction of their armor support. Out of 35 men including the officer and the tank crew as well as the Hummer crew there were only 11 of them left or so he thought. If there were any others they would be captured or worse they where injured and of no help. Looking to the east as best he could he saw the two armored vehicles through the smoke of the burning house as they slowly drove toward the destruction of the tank and Hummer? Looking through his binoculars he could see the dead bodies of his platoon lying around the burning remains of the armor. The two armored vehicles driving up looked like the old LAV’s that were outdated. He shook his head and thought about those vehicles and how deadly they were before becoming outdated and replaced with the new troop vehicles that carried the same type of weapons but had the microwave and sound transmitters that eventually also became obsolete. As he mulled over this in his head the two armored vehicles had stopped at the wrecks and through the smoke he could see the people moving around and bending over the dead on the road. He knew that when they were done with that they would be coming this way and he wasn’t ready to die today. His thoughts brought to many deaths into his mind and there was enough killing here today. He wasn’t sure about the men that came here but he was ready to surrender to these Texans and they did say that he and his men would be taken back to the border. That baffled him and actually gave him pause to want to defect into Texas. He turned and moved to the ladder and went down to tell the men what he was going to do.
On the ground floor of the barn his men minus the two that were outside somewhere, were stacking hay bails against the barn doors. Billy knew that was not going to stop the vehicles but he moved to where the Master Sergeant was lying with two men that had some training in field triage. As he walked toward them he watched Corporal Dancing reach his hand to the sergeant’s face and close his eyes. He knew the sergeant had moved on from this life and as he approached the Corporal he quietly asked “is he dead Corporal?” Dancing looked up and said “yes sir, the shrapnel was too big and it cut him up pretty bad.” “Okay corporal, prepare him for travel, we are going back to the border this day if these Texans do what they said they would. Hopefully they won’t just outright kill us, which I believe they won’t.” He turned to his men and told Private Willaby to go and fetch the two that were outside. “Get them back inside and hurry.” Willaby left through the back doors and shortly all three men came back in through the rear. Sanderson had grouped the men together and waited for the three to join. Once they were all together he began to talk. “The way I see it, we aren’t going to get out of here alive if we try to fight. There is too many of them and they are nasty fighters when it comes to their home. My thought is to surrender and let them take us back to the border which we all heard them say they would. Once we are back in New Mexico we can go anyway we want. If any of you are still up to going back to that death camp at Texico you are more than welcome but know this, you could be shot for not accomplishing this ill gotten mission. Any of us that do not wish to serve that sick little bastard in Denver can go our own way and perhaps we will live to see this damn war and that emperor put an end to. I know there are patriot soldiers mounting a force against him so that is a choice. I for one am not going to die this day.”
Billy knew this was a crucial and scary moment for these men. They had seen their companions die today on the road to Lubbock Texas as it was dubbed by most of them. They were unsure about surrendering to a bunch of Texans that could just as well kill them all but they had heard the voice tell them that they would be taken back to the border. This moment, he had prepared for and his pistol was ready in its holster. He hoped that he would not have to use it but he was not willing to take a complete chance with these men yet. He had just told them in so many words that he was going to surrender and even desert from the Emperor’s army. He stood with his hand resting on the pistol handle why the men milled around and talked with each other. Finally Corporal Dancing and three of the Privates walked over and stood with him. Corporal Jensen was next and Private Hoshkist followed him. That left three men still standing by themselves. It was Private Nylint that spoke and said, “You men are all traitors to the Emperor and you will be hunted down and shot for your treachery.” Billy looked at the poor soul and could see that the other two were not sure yet as to which way they were going. He knew they didn’t want to die so he spoke to Nylint and said. “Private Nylint, you are free to go any way you want, If you want to go back to the Texico post, you can but you will be walking by yourself, I think the rest of us would like to live another day. If you are fortunate and tell Captain Ritter about us and what we did today he might let you live. You know how a real psychopath behaves and he is one of those. His goal tomorrow morning is to invade Farwell and kill all the people there if he can but I think he will not make it out of that town alive. So go and try to save your miserable little life. We won’t stop you but you had best be running right now before those Texans get here. Nylint seemed unsure and started to move. He brought his rifle up but Private Victor knocked it upward trying to disarm him, the rifle went off and hit Billy in the left arm as he drew his pistol and shot Nylint in the chest. Nylint jerked backward as he dropped his rifle and fell to the floor. The pistol round had penetrated his heart and he was dead before he hit the floor. The other two Privates that had stood with him looked at the other men and dropped their weapons. Billy had just been grazed but it burnt like hell. He asked the two if they were with them while he still held his pistol. Victor said he was in and Private Potter said he was in also. In the entire ruckus the men did not hear the armored vehicles pull up and then they heard the bull horn once again. “ALL RIGHT YOU MEN IN THE BARN, THROW OUT YOUR WEAPONS AND COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS UP.”
When Milo and Tom stopped their vehicles at the burning tank and Hummer the people came around them and began to check the dead soldiers. They found 5 of them that were still alive but hurt pretty bad, they began to triage them and the trucks were brought up from the farm. They loaded the soldiers into them and someone brought an old bus up. They cleaned the road as best they could of the dead bodies and thought to bury them later after they captured the rest of them at the Carlson farm. Milo and Tom drove around the burning hunks of metal and took some of the men and boys with them to stop the others that had ran off to the Carlson barn. They didn’t know what to expect but Milo and Tom both had manned the .50’s and when they pulled up to the barn they heard the shots from within. It was peculiar but Milo spoke to them again. Greg and his wife Debra had come along and now ran around the house to the big water tank that was sitting about 40 feet from the burning house. Some of the other farmers had followed also and were helping them. Greg grabbed the big hose from its reel and pulled it toward the house. Debra turned the water on and Greg began spraying the burning building with a fireman like hose. The house had not yet caught completely on fire but the front porch had already caved in and the front ground floor was the most on fire. The upper rear floor was still standing and Greg made sure he targeted the fire as best he could to keep it from totally engulfing the house. The drain ditch ran close to the water tank and the others were grabbing buckets of water from it and running to the building and tossing the water on it.
Milo and Tom watched the barn doors open and then the weapons being tossed out. The first man to come out was a sergeant and then 8 more men followed with their hands over their heads. The Sergeant walked up to the front of Milo’s LAV and spoke. “We are surrendering; you told us that you would take us back to the border. What will you do to us once we reach the border?” Milo looked down at the men and could see that some of them could use some medical care. Some of the men and boys that had followed behind the armored vehicles, that weren’t fighting the house fire surrounded the soldiers and held their guns on them as the weapons in the dirt were picked up and carried back into the barn. “Well Sergeant, it looks like some of your men could use some medical care and we can start with that. We have an old bus that is coming down the road as we speak and you all can ride in that back to the border. We will put you on the New Mexico side and you can go where you want or need to. We must hurry though because your commander is pushing to invade us up in Farwell and we will not let that happen, you understand?” Billy Sanderson heard this man and the passion he spoke with even though he knew the man would not hesitate to shoot them if they tried to harm anyone. His next words were a plea and question of a type. “Well sir, I can see you are a man of his word and we are very thankful. We are very sorry that we have come into your country and caused damage. We were following the orders of those that think this country should belong to them. It is known by us that there are many soldiers that are part of the Emperor’s Army, that have and are deserting and joining up with the Patriots. That is our thoughts as of this day. The bloodshed today is too much and there are two dead men inside the barn. May I ask what you plan to do with the dead up there on the road?”
Milo took pity for these men, he knew they were mostly forced to be part of the Emperor’s slaves so to speak and he did not want to kill any of them. It was unfortunate that he and the others had to kill the ones that died today, but it became a necessary and forced action. “We are going to bury them Sergeant and we did find 5 of your compatriots still alive and they are being treated. They are on one of the trucks as we speak and should be here along with the bus shortly. Will you let us tend to your wounds?” Billy turned to his men and told them to sit down. His arm hurt like hell and he knew some of the others had some open wounds. Once they set down the women who seemed to have bandages and medical supplies moved from the crowd of folks and some others fetched some pales of water. It wasn’t long before all the ones with injuries were cleaned and bandaged and the people moved back into the crowd. The Fire on the house had been extinguished but the damage to the front ground floor was pretty bad. Billy felt for the family and asked a hard question with a suggestion. He looked at Milo and first asked what his name might be. Milo could see a conflict in the soldier’s eyes and said his name was Milo. Billy then made his suggestion, “I and these others have decided to not be part of the Emperor’s army anymore and will be looking for a hideout or perhaps even join up with the Patriots army. We know we have done you all wrong this day and if you put us across the border we will have to find a way to keep from being shot by the madman up in Texico. We will not return to that place but if you and your people could see fit to keep us here for awhile until that thing passes we can help rebuild this farm house that we so recklessly tried to destroy and perhaps we could apply for citizenship in the Nation of Texas. I think those men that you found still alive may even agree with us and it is for sure they need to be taken care of until they can regain their abilities to function.”
Milo looked at the man and then looked at Tom. He did not want to drag these men back into a place that would most likely see them all killed from their own commanders. Greg and Debra were breaking up the burnt lumber of their house to make sure there wasn’t any fire left to start up again. He looked at them and new it was going to be tough for them to get this rebuilt and still try to maintain the farm. Fortunately the 3 barns they had could be set up for living quarters somewhat while the house was put back into some order. The children were strong and could handle the hardship. He looked back at the Sergeant and asked his name. “Billy Sanderson is my given name Milo and these men are willing to work. We all are willing to do that and you can keep your people around to watch us.” Milo knew he was going to have to leave soon. The Farwell business was on the horizon and he couldn’t afford to not be there. He climbed down from the LAV and walked to Billy and stuck out his hand. The two men shook and Milo asked him to come with him. Both men walked toward the farm house and approached Greg and Debra and the few others that were sifting the burned timbers. The porch had collapsed completely and the lower roof had fallen in. The house was going to have to be rebuilt on the front half. The two story structure was still standing but it would have to be examined for damage and repaired also.
“Greg, can we talk? I think you may have been blessed with some helping hands if you will have them?” Greg looked around Milo at the group of men standing close to the LAV’s and back at Milo. “What are you asking Milo? That we should let these men stay here, they are enemy soldiers for God sakes. They invaded our land and burned my house. God knows what they were going to do if we hadn’t stopped them.” Yes Greg they did that and now they are asking for forgiveness and some sort of asylum and willing to help you rebuild your house. The Sergeant has told me that 4 of his men used to be carpenters before being pulled into the army. They know how to build things so to speak and there are two of them that were raised on farms. So between their talents and your misfortune, you could get this place back up and running fairly quick. They don’t want anything more than a place to sleep and some food. Seems to me you can provide that pretty easy.” Debra had walked up and had listened to the conversation. Greg was angry and it was understandable. He had been ready to shoot these soldiers for burning his house.
Debra looked at the soldiers and thought about the wounded ones that had been hastily treated. In all there were only 14 of these men left from their original group. It seemed to her that these men did not want to come into Texas from the start. She could read peoples thoughts and had been able to do that since she had turned 16. Mike and Barbara had shown an aptitude to do the same thing. She had discovered their tricks when they were both just toddlers. She spoke to them now as they were shuffling through the burned out front of the house and asked them about keeping these men on their farm while they helped rebuild the house. Mike and Barbara were both just 16 and 15 and Barbara was the first to speak back to her mother. Mother I have searched into these men’s minds, I know you said that we should not do that but only in emergency situations, so I thought this might be one of those times. So when I looked into their minds I could see that they are sincere about not wanting to go back to the Emperor’s army. Sergeant Billy is sort of their leader and he has talked with them about staying and helping repair the damage that they were responsible for. We can make that old bunk house work for us until the house is repaired and then they could live in there. For right now they can stay in the front barn. I think these men are used to living in hard conditions. There are a number of them that really want to fix this mess. Debra had felt the same because she had done the same with these men. She just wasn’t sure about the wounded that the Petrovski’s had bandaged up and did their best to keep them from dying. Mike was next; I feel the same as Barbara mom but its dad that I am more worried about. You know how stubborn he can be. Debra looked at her husband, whom she loved dearly and said let me talk with your father. He is a good man and has a wonderful heart, we know he is hurting right now and yes he is very angry but that will pass as time proceeds. I think Milo was right in saying these men may be a blessing. You know how we lost our farm hands last year and it has been a struggle for us to keep up this farm, thank the Creator that the Petrovski’s and the Hunters have lent a hand even though they got their own farms to tend to. We could use some good farm hands right now and I think these men will work hard to fix our home. I don’t want to see anyone have to go and be a slave to that puny dictator that calls himself the Emperor. Why don’t you two go and introduce yourselves to those men and hopefully we can get this business solved. It is starting to get dark and we need to take stock of the kitchen which is still in tact, hopefully the food is not ruined from the smoke. Take these men around back to the big Barbeque and let’s get some dinner cooking.
Milo was waiting for Greg’s response or answer as he watched the two children walk to the soldiers. He could see them start introducing themselves and shaking hands. That made his heart calmer. The sky was loosing light now that the sun had set and he was worried that he would not make it up to Farwell before the other army invaded. Damn he thought, why do these people have to do this? He turned back to Greg to get a quick answer but Debra had taken her husband by the arm and was looking at him sternly, he thought. Greg finally turned to Milo and said, "we will keep the men here for now and you and Tom need to get up to Farwell." Billy Sanderson broke away from the group and hurried over to Milo. He shook his hand and said "Milo; you need to get up to Farwell before 5am. That is the Zero hour for the attack. This ill gotten mission was supposed to block the route 70 to keep anyone from escaping from the town while Captain Ritter shells the crap out of the town. He has two choppers at his disposal and 1 more tank and at least 70 troops." Milo was listening to the Sergeant tell him all of this and knew he needed to contact The Sheriff and the other two ranchers that were supposed to be bringing their LAV’s. Billy looked at Milo and said one more thing. "Milo, you could go up there by the way we came down. They won’t be expecting anyone to come that way at them and you might be able to blow that other tank before they do too much damage. Most of the men will be at the doors through the wall to rush in when the tank starts to shell the town." Milo took all this in and said. "Thanks Sergeant, you and your men take good care of these folks and your wounded will be taken care of by the Petrovski’s up the road. You might go and have a good talk with them about staying here under sanctuary. I think you and your men can help bury the others also. That Tank still has its chassis but the Hummer is gone so it might be good of you and your boys to help clean that mess up also." Milo had gotten as much INTEL from Billy before he bid Greg and Debra goodbye. Greg had finally come around somewhat and the Barn would be made into a barracks of somewhat along with the old Bunk house for the Carson’s. Milo gathered Tom and his men and they drove toward the border. He was going to take the sergeants advice and do the end run on that place. It would be scary to enter into New Mexico but this was war and he had to do what he could to try and save Farwell as best he could.