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The Aftermath of Ghosts

Chapter Text

The Aftermath Of The Ghosts


 

7 Months After ODIN Fired On Federation

HESH

I walk over towards Merrick and sit down, lacing up my boots. I glance up at him and lean one elbow on my knee.

“So, what are we doing again? I thought the Federation was in full retreat after we fired ODIN.”

Merrick nods then crosses his arms.

“Well, they were. But just the other day, I heard from Keegan out in No Man’s Land that he and his squad were engaged by Federation soldiers. They had gone back to that wreckage sight you had found. Keegan said that half of his men are dead.”

I sit up straight, then stand up.

“Well, we gotta do something! I'll get Davis and-”

Merrick puts his hand on my shoulder.

“Hesh, stop. Keegan is on his way back here. He’ll give us the details, but I don't need you running off. We need to keep cool heads about this, and also try to keep it as quiet as possible. Things are back at baseline here, so I don't need more-”

Suddenly, Corporal Ramon runs up the stairs into the room and over to us.

“Sir, we've got a full Federation battalion on our radar, and it's headed right towards us!”

Merrick and I meet wide eyes, then I quickly pull on my gear, clipping my vest, then I grab my gun from my side and run down the stairs. Corporal Davis meets me next to the truck and pulls me aside.

“Walker, we need you to get the men together. The battalion is getting closer. They just appeared, and didn't show up on our radar until they were right on top of us.”

I shake my head.

“How's that possible? How could they get that close?” I ask, and Davis shrugs.

“You got me! But we need to reinforce our troops in the trenches. They're going to be on top of them any minute!”

I nod and then look up.

“Okay, meet me at the tower.” I turn to the men behind him.

“The rest of you are with me. Let's move out!” I yell, and they all follow after me. As we get closer to the beachfront, I can see the black uniforms of the Federation soldiers, and my grip around my gun tightens. I jump into the trench next to Private Emerson, and he looks over at me.

“Nice of you to join the party!” He yells, and I nod, then I hear the sound of gunfire.

“They've engaged our forces! Let's go!” I shout, and Emerson nods. I stand up and aim my gun towards the advancing troops. Firing, I watch the Federation soldiers fall as my bullets hit them, then I feel the weight in my chest.

I take my finger off the trigger and spin to the side under a small bridge. Closing my eyes, I lean against an ammo crate.

This is just like when the Federation attacked Santa Monica the first time, and we had to secure the beach.

Me and…...Logan.

I sigh.

Logan….. Rorke took my brother.

After Logan and I had blown up the train, we had killed Rorke. Or so we thought. Then he caught us off guard and took Logan away from me.

I grit my teeth.

I should have protected him.

If I hadn't been shot and Rorke hadn't been there and I hadn't screwed up, then my brother would be here, next to me, not with Rorke, or some god awful place, or……

I try to shake the thought out of my head, then I hear a shout.

“Keegan’s back!”

My eyes shoot open, and I spin around to see my friend jump down into the trench behind me, and pull up his mask.

“Hey, kid.” He says in his low, gritty voice. I nod.

“Sergeant.”

He smirks.

“Commander.”

I grin.

"You know, you can't really call me 'kid' when you're the same age as me." I say, and Keegan rolls his eyes with a smile.

"Oh, shut it." He sighs. I chuckle, then frown, looking out at the battle. Keegan puts his hand on my shoulder.

“Hesh, I know what you're thinking, but you need to stop thinking it right now! We need to defend the beach! We can't let it get taken, and let the base fall! Now we need to have a field commander here, Walker, and you're the best out of all of us.”

I raise my head, then set my jaw. I look around at my men.

“Okay, let's go.” I say, and I stand up over the trench to start firing. Keegan stands next to me, keeping my back.

“Walker!”

I hear a yell from behind me, and I see Davis run up, with Kick next to him. They stop, and I turn around, ducking down while Keegan and the men continue to fire.

“What is it, Corporal?” I ask, and he nods towards the battle.

“Kick and I thought you could use the backup. There's more men on the way to reinforce us.”

I nod, then point over to one of the guns on the wall.

“Get on that MG, Kick, and lay down some fire!” I yell, and Kick jumps up, grabbing the gun, holding down the trigger.

The Federation soldiers duck for cover, in fear of being mowed down by the bullets.

The men keep shooting, and the sounds of battle fill my head.

Then a crackling in the headset comes through.

“Ghost Six-Three, what's your sitrep?”

I pause as I fire on a soldier aiming his gun at Keegan. He falls, then I shake my head.

“Merrick, we got problems. There's a whole lot more of these soldiers than we thought. But reinforcements are on the way, as told by Davis and Kick. But we need to hold the line!” I say.

Merrick stops, and I hear him hesitating.

“Captain, what is it?” I ask, stepping away from the wall.

Keegan looks up, and puts his finger to his com.

“Ghost Two-Two, what's up?” He asks, catching my gaze.

“Hesh, we got a new problem. Another force is headed for you, from the north. They're going to attack through No Man’s Land!”

My eyes widen as I look over at Keegan.

“There's no way the Federation would attack through there on their own. There's only one man I know that would be rash enough to do that.” I shout over the battle, and Merrick takes a breath.

“Rorke.”

Keegan shakes his head.

“I thought we determined he was down in South America!” He shouts, leaning back over the wall to fire upon the enemy again.

I raise my gun, and shoot at the Federation. More and more of their soldiers fall as Keegan and I shoot, and as Kick and Davis lay down fire.

But as their men fall, so do ours.

At least twenty men in the trenches lay either dead or injured.

I turn to Davis.

“Corporal! Get the wounded out of the trenches! And we need more men on the front line!” I yell, and he nods, then runs off, with a few men at his back to help the wounded.

I spin back around, and put my finger to my earpiece again.

“Merrick, I need to know if it really is Rorke.” I say determinedly, and Merrick taps away at the command platform.

“Affirmative, Six-Three. Our soldiers on the North front have PID on the leader as Rorke.”

I narrow my eyes, and clench my fists.

“That jackass came back…” I say through gritted teeth, and Keegan grabs my shoulder.

“Hesh, we can't be rash about this. Rorke returning can't just be a coincidence from what happened seven months ago.”

I look up at him, and my eyes narrow.

“That bastard took my brother away from me, Keegan! The only family I had left! He killed dad, he almost killed us all, and He. Took. Logan. I WON'T let him live this time!” I shout, and Merrick crackles in.

“Negative, Hesh. Don't engage with the North forces yet! The beach is our top priority. We have a small group holding the perimeter on the north. Rorke’s group isn't nearly as large as the forces on the beach, which is where we need all the support. All the firepower we can muster!” He says, but I shake my head.

“Merrick, you're in command, but I won't let Rorke take Santa Monica. And he will pay for what he's done.” I say.

I take my finger away from my ear, and grab my gun.

Turning towards Kick, I point towards the Federation.

“Keep the beachfront solid and out of their control, Kick!” I yell, and he lets go of the gun to turn to me.

“Hesh, I heard on the radio what Merrick said! Don't go to take on-”

“I don't need you telling me what to do, Kick! You, Keegan, or Merrick! Or any Ghost! This is MY fight! Rorke took EVERYTHING from me!” I yell, then jump out of the trench, running through the compound.

“HESH! GET BACK TO THE FRONT!” Merrick shouts through the radio. I shake my head.

“Merrick, you won't stop me. Not now.” I turn my comlink off, and grip my gun tighter.

Sprinting past the men headed to reinforce the beachfront, I yell to Davis,

“Keep the Federation from gaining command! We can't afford to lose the beach!” I yell, and Davis nods.

“Yes, sir!”

I take a deep breath as I near the north wall of the compound. I can see the group of men, shooting and trying to retreat back towards us.

In the distance, over the hill, I can see a Federation force, comprising of about sixty soldiers, with two Jeeps, one in front, and one on the side.

I run up to one of the men headed back towards the base, and I stop him.

“Soldier, I need you to listen to me! We are going to hold the North wall! If they get through here, then we risk our forces to their control!” I shout, and he nods.

“I’m Corporal Simmons, sir! My squadron and I will stay with you!” He then looks over at the others.

“Squadron Delta! Fall in! We're now under order by Field Commander Walker!” He yells, and I turn to the men.

“We cannot allow this brigade to pass. We will hold them back but we have to be cautious. There is a dangerous man leading them, and-”

Corporal Simmons stops, listening to something on the radio, then he turns back to me.

“Sir, Command has just asked that you return to the front lines.”

I shake my head, sighing, and turn my earpiece back on.

“Walker, I said not to engage them!” Merrick says sternly, and I roll my eyes.

“Okay, first off, we haven't engaged them yet.” I turn to see the men, and their ammo half gone.

I sigh.

“Well, I haven't engaged them yet. Secondly, I don't give a damn what you think, Merrick. But it's like I said before. This is my fight, and I will not let Rorke get anywhere any time soon.” I say harshly, and Simmons looks at me, then at his troop. I meet his eyes.

“We're going to stop those soldiers, no matter what.” I say, then I put my finger to my earpiece again.

“Command, Squadron Delta and I are going to engage the North wall adversaries, and force them back! Confirm!” I say, and I hear Merrick take a deep breath.

“Solid Copy, Six-Three. Be advised, Federation incoming has armed vehicles and almost sixty men.”

“Copy, Command. Walker out.” I say, then I turn to Simmons.

“Come on.” I say, and he and his men follow me to the top of the hill.

The soldiers are almost on top of us, and I take out my gun, checking the ammo. I see the Delta Squadron checking their weapons, and Simmons runs over to me.

“You said there's a dangerous man leading them. Who?” He asks, and I frown.

“His name is Rorke. He was a Ghost, 13 years ago, but he was turned by the Federation.”

Simmons’ eyes widen, then a barrage of gunfire snaps us back to the fight.

I look up to see two men on the turrets of the Jeeps, firing at us.

Two of Simmons’ men fall dead, and the rest duck down below the bank.

I grit my teeth.

“We don't have time for this!” I stand up, and start shooting.

Aiming at the turret, one of the two men falls, and the Jeep swerves to knock down about fifteen of the soldiers. The others start firing at us, and more of the Delta Squadron fall dead around me.

I grit my teeth, and continue to shoot the Federation soldiers.

Then I hear a shout from beside me, and I glance to the side to see Simmons fall, shot down by the other turret.

All the other men lay dead, the only survivor being me.

The soldiers run up, and all train their guns on me.

I grit my teeth, then drop my gun.

The other Jeep drives up to me, and I look up in hate as Rorke stands up, leaning on the top bars of the Jeep.

He smirks.

“Well, if it isn't Hesh Walker.” He jumps down from the Jeep, and walks over to me.

“The ruthless Ghost.”

He punches me hard across the face, and I fall to the ground, blood running from my nose. He smirks.

“I guess looks aren't everything.” He says snarkily.

I groan, then grit my teeth. I jump back up, and punch Rorke in the mouth.

“You killed my father, you piece of shit!” I yell, then punch him again. He stumbles back, and the Federation soldiers raise their guns on me.

Rorke holds his hand out.

“No. Don't shoot him. I want to keep him alive.”

I grit my teeth, clenching my fists. I run at him, and tackle him to the ground.

“I'M GOING TO KILL YOU, RORKE!! YOU MOTHER FUCKER!! YOU TOOK MY BROTHER FROM ME!!!!” I yell, then he grabs me by my shoulders.

He flips me over, and pulls me up in a chokehold, pinning my arms down. I struggle against his hold, choking, gasping for air.

He leans his head close to me, and chuckles.

“Your brother was stronger than you ever would have been. You're nothing without your family, Hesh.” He says, and I close my eyes, taking a deep breath, then I slam my head back into his.

He groans and lets go of me, and I stumble forward out of his grip, coughing, then I turn on him.

“Shut up, asshole! You only made me stronger by taking my family, in my hate for you!” I yell, but a Federation soldier grabs me from behind, pins my hands behind my back, tying them with a zip tie, then forces me down to my knees.

Rorke shakes his head as he crosses his arms.

“Boy, you haven't any idea of how big this is, do you? You can't stop me.” He says, and I pull against the grip of the soldier.

“I WILL stop you! You, and all the Federation!” Rorke laughs, then smiles at me.

“But will you stop your own brother?” He says, and my eyes widen as a young man jumps out of the backseat of the Jeep and walks over, standing next to Rorke.

My eyes are wider than they could ever be.

“Logan….” I utter in disbelief, and he meets my eyes, the once kind and brotherly light in them now gone.

Rorke puts his hand on Logan’s shoulder.

“We'll bring him back to the base. See what he can tell us. Then, you can do what you want to him.” He says, and Logan nods, then turns his head back to me.

I feel my soul get crushed as Logan grabs me by my arm and drags me to the truck.

Throwing me in the back, I stare at him.

“Logan...I’m so sorry…” I say painfully, and he looks up at me, meeting my eyes, then takes the radio comlink out of my ear with a frown.

“You won't be.”


 

5 Minutes Earlier

MERRICK

I watch as the battle rages on on the beachfront, hoping it will end soon.

This is all too familiar.

Watching our men die and the Federation attacking once again.

I cross my arms and sigh.

Suddenly a crackling on the radio makes me turn around.

“We don't have time for this!” I hear a gritty yell coming through the static.

Hesh?

My eyes widen as I hear gunfire, and I grab the control.

“Hesh? Ghost Six-Three, come in!” I yell, but more gunfire meets my ears. Then a silence and a chuckle.

“Well, if it isn't Hesh Walker.”

My eyes widen as I hear Rorke’s taunting voice, and I grip the control tightly.

“The ruthless Ghost.”

I hear a groan as what sounds like a punch comes through the radio, then again.

“I guess looks aren't everything.” He says, and I frown. Hesh takes a deep breath.

“You killed my father, you piece of shit!” He shouts, and I hear him punch someone, then the training of guns.

He stops, and I silence myself, listening to the action.

“No. Don't shoot him. I want to keep him alive.” Rorke says.

Then an angered breath from Hesh.

“I'M GOING TO KILL YOU, RORKE!! YOU MOTHER FUCKER!! YOU TOOK MY BROTHER AWAY FROM ME!!!” He yells, and then I hear a scuffle, then the sound of Hesh choking.

My eyes widen.

“HESH!” I shout into the receiver.

“Your brother was stronger than you ever would have been. You're nothing without your family, Hesh.” Rorke says coolly, and I grit my teeth. Suddenly I hear Rorke grunt, then another scuffle.

“Shut up, asshole! You only made me stronger by taking my family, in my hate for you!” Hesh shouts, then a Federation soldier yells something, and Rorke sighs.

“Boy, you haven't any idea of how big this is, do you? You won't stop me.”

My eyebrow raises, and I check all the scanners, trying to find any trace of visual feed.

“I WILL stop you! You, and all the Federation!” Hesh says, and Rorke laughs, along with some of the soldiers.

“But will you stop your own brother?”

I drop the control, eyes wide.

“Logan….” Hesh says softly in disbelief, and I shake my head.

He's alive?….

“We'll bring him back to the base. See what he can tell us. Then you can do what you want to him.” Rorke says, and I frantically try to get a visual.

Hesh groans, then a thud as he is shoved against something.

“Logan...I’m so sorry….” Hesh says quietly.

“You won't be.” Logan says, his voice flat and gone. I had almost forgotten what his voice sounds like. Then the feed crackles, and the radio stops.

I stare at the receiver for a minute, then I pick it up urgently.

“KEEGAN! KICK! I need you two up at command, NOW!” I shout and I hear them both reply.

“You got it.”

“Be right there, Merrick.”

I set down the receiver, and lean against the table. Rubbing my face with my hands, I sigh.

“Dammit, Hesh.” I mutter, then the door opens, and Kick and Keegan run in. They stop in front of me, and I look up.

“What is it?” Kick asks, and I take a deep breath.

“Rorke’s back. He took Hesh, and…..” I let out a sigh, and close my eyes.

Keegan walks over to me.

“What?” He asks.

I shake my head, and look up to meet his eyes.

“He's got Logan with him.”

Kick and Keegan’s eyes widen, and they exchange glances.

Keegan turns to me.

“Merrick, what do you mean, Rorke has Logan? As in-”

“As in Logan is now working for Rorke.” I say flatly, and Keegan steps back, his eyes disbelieving.

“What?”

I nod slowly, not wanting to face the harsh truth.

“Yeah. Rorke beat Hesh, and Logan was the one who took him. Keegan, Logan is going to kill his own brother.”


HESH

I sit against the wall of the Jeep, hands tied behind me. I stare out the back, watching as I’m taken farther and farther away from Santa Monica.

The road becomes bumpy, as we enter No Man’s Land. I glance up slightly to see Logan standing above me, facing forward, gun ready.

I don't know what the hell Rorke did to him, but that's not my brother anymore.

At least it doesn't seem it.

I know that Logan is still in there somewhere.

I just have to figure out a way to get him back.

 

The Jeep rolls to a stop, in the same ballpark where we found Ajax. I close my eyes, and remember all that happened here.

Am I going to be another Ghost to die on this field?

I look up at Rorke.

“So, you're going to kill me just like Ajax? In the same park where we rescued him from?” I ask, and Rorke laughs.

“Oh, no. We're just stoppin’ off to get more men.”

I look around, and I can see more Federation soldiers getting in trucks with their weapons ready.

“So where are we going?” I ask, and Rorke turns around, leaning on the back of the seat.

“I wouldn't worry about it too much, kid. Your fate is going to be the same, no matter where we go.” He turns back around, and starts the Jeep again. Driving back out of the park, Logan turns his head to look down at me.

He turns and sits on the wheel well in the back, and stares at me. I meet his eyes, then drop my head.

I can't even bear to look at him.

This is my fault.

Now Rorke has us both.

He managed to turn my own brother against me, and now my fate is sealed.

I close my eyes, and sigh.

I know one thing for sure.

I’m not getting out of this alive.

Chapter Text

KEEGAN

Loading my gun, I glance back at Merrick, who still works frantically trying to find any trace of Hesh. I stop, and turn to him.

“Merrick. We can track his earpiece, and find Rorke.” I say, walking over, and Merrick spins to face me.

“That's what I did, Keegan. Rorke took him into No Man’s Land, and by the looks of it, back to San Diego. We need to get a positive location on him first before we move. Besides, the war on the beachfront is far from over. I need you and Kick to go and reinforce the front. We can't let the tower fall.” He says, and I nod.

I grab my gun, and run out the door, grabbing Kick, who was walking in, on the way by, dragging him by his jacket.

He stumbles forward, and pries my hand away.

“Keegan, what are you doing?” He asks, and I point towards the trenches.

“The beachfront is being overrun. We need to get to the front lines. Command orders.”

Kick nods, and we run outside. Sprinting across the beach, we avoid fire from shells and MGs. I see Davis in the trench, and we jump down next to him. He spins to face us, and we raise our guns to shoot at the Federation troops.

“I thought you guys were called up to Command.” He shouts over the noise of the battle. I shake my head.

“We were. But we have to help the beachfront so we don't get overrun by the Federation.” I shout.

“Why were you guys called up in the first place?” Davis asks. I shake my head.

“I can't exactly say why-”

“Commander Walker was taken by the Federation.” Kick says, and I spin around to him.

“KICK!” I yell, and Davis stops shooting.

“WHAT!?”

I groan, glaring at Kick. I turn back to Davis.

“Yeah. That man, Rorke? He took Hesh, and we're trying to figure out where.” I say, and Kick stops firing, too.

“Captain Merrick, Keegan and I are going to find him, Davis. Don't worry.” He says, and Davis hesitates, then nods uneasily.

He runs down the trench a little, joining another squad at their position.

I shove Kick.

“HEY!” He yells, and I lift off my mask to glare at him.

“Kick, we shouldn't be telling anyone about this. This is strictly Ghost business.” I say harshly, and Kick leans back a little.

“Keegan, they would have found out. You don't think people wouldn't notice that their field commander has suddenly just vanished?” He says, and I grit my teeth, then sigh.

Pulling my mask back down, I lift my gun to fire at the Federation’s advancing soldiers. As Kick steps up next to me, I take a deep breath.

“I hope Merrick gets Hesh’s position soon.”


 

LOGAN

“Rorke.” I say, walking into the room, clipping my Honey Badger to my belt. Rorke turns around, and smiles.

“Logan. What is it?” He asks, and I cross my arms.

“What are we going to do about the invasion on the Santa Monica beach? Our Federation forces are at a stalemate with Merrick’s forces. How do we proceed?” I ask, and Rorke sighs.

“The invasion was meant to be a distraction, but we can still push through. Tell the invasion forces in Santa Monica to push the attack, and take the beach.”

I nod, glance to the side, then back up at Rorke.

“What about David?” I ask, and he raises his eyebrow.

“Hesh? We'll get to him in a little while. The boys tied him up in the back, and I made sure that they knocked him out. Your brother is of no threat to us.” He says, and I shake my head.

“That's not what I meant.” I say, and Rorke crosses his arms.

I lean against the table, and stare at the ground.

“I want to know what you're going to do to him.” I say, and Rorke walks up to me.

“Why? Are you having second thoughts about what the plan is?”

I take a deep breath, and close my eyes.

“I don't know. I just-”

“Logan. Hesh left you. He didn't protect you. What kind of brother is that? And what about the Ghosts? What did they ever do? All they did was order you around.”

I squeeze my eyes shut, and clench my fists, gripping the edge of the table tightly.

“But...The Ghosts are the ones who made me a good fighter. They believed in me. Dad believed in me. Hesh did protect me….They all watched out for me, and-”

Rorke grabs me by the front on my shirt, and slams me against the wall.

My eyes widen, and Rorke frowns.

“Walker, don't give second thoughts. They'll only drag you down. Now what have I been teaching you for the past seven months? Keep your head straight, and don't question yourself.” He lets me go, and I drop a little, falling onto the table.

I watch as he walks out of the room, and I clench my fist again.

He said to not have second thoughts.

It's too late for that.

I can't get them out of my head.


HESH

“It was a different time...a different enemy……..”

 

“He called them..Ghosts.”

 

“Come on, Dad. You don't honestly believe that story is true.”

 

“We're not gonna die here!”

 

“LOGAN!”

 

“Where's dad?! We have to find him!”

 

“LOGAN!! Shit, you're bleeding!

It looks worse than it is...come on..”

 

“Dad, this whole time...you were a Ghost…”

 

“Welcome to the Ghosts.”

 

“We won't let you down...”

 

“Nice to have the family back together again, isn't it?”

 

“No? Maybe I can change your mind.”

 

“LOGAN!!!.....You son of a bitch! I’m gonna kill you!!!!

 

“Dammit, Rorke! Stop!”

 

“Logan! Logan!!”

 

“No! NO! DAD!!”

 

“I'LL KILL YOU, YOU HEAR ME?! I'LL KILL YOU, YOU SON OF A BITCH!! I’M GONNA KILL YOU!! MOTHER FUCKER!!”

 

“Merrick, I want Rorke.”

 

“Come on, Logan...Let's finish this..”

 

“We can't take any chances, Logan. Even if we fail, Rorke dies.”

 

“You can't win, Rorke. It's over”

 

“Checkmate.”

 

“You lost, Rorke. It's over.”

 

“Logan, shoot him! Do it!!”

 

“I’m proud of you, Logan.”

 

"You would have been a hell of a Ghost. But that's not gonna happen."

 

"There ain't gonna BE any Ghosts."

 

“Logan… Logan! … LOGAN!”

 

“HEY.”

My eyes snap open, and I raise my head. My heart sinks as Logan stares at me, arms crossed.

“Logan, why are you doing this?” I ask, and he shakes his head.

“What were you just thinking about?” He asks, and I raise my eyebrow.

“What do you mean?” I ask, and he steps closer.

“You were mumbling something, then you said my name.”

I sigh, and hang my head.

“It's my fault you were taken by Rorke. I’m nothing like dad. He would have saved you.” I say softly.

“Well, isn't that just a sob story.”

I hear as my head gets lifted up by Rorke.

“David ‘Hesh’ Walker. Your skill is nearly unbeatable. You make a hell of a Ghost. But still, you blame yourself for what happened to Logan….how you couldn't save your father….” He says with a smirk, and my eyes narrow. I go to stand up, but I’m tied to the chair.

You killed my father, and took my brother away from me, you bastard! ” I say through gritted teeth.

Rorke shoves my head down, then walks to stand next to Logan.

“Yes, I did.” Rorke glances to the side at Logan, then back at me.

“Your brother is well trained. You both are. Elias did a hell of a good job in making you two soldiers, preparing you for the Ghosts. But Logan is MY Ghost now.”

My eyes close as I feel my failure weighing down on me.

“The Ghosts’ numbers are fewer and fewer, Hesh. Only a handful of you left. Including the three back in Santa Monica.”

My head shoots up, and Rorke smirks. Turning to Logan, he nods his head towards the door.

“Go to Santa Monica. Bring me Merrick. Keegan and Kick you can kill, but I want Merrick to watch Hesh suffer.”

My eyes widen as far as they can, and Logan nods.

“Got it.” He grabs his gun from the clip on his belt, checking the mag of his Honey Badger.

He walks out the door, and my eyes follow him.

Then my head swings back to Rorke.

“What did you do to him?! How!? He is the strongest kid I know! HE'S MY BROTHER! HOW DID YOU GET HIM TO TURN ON US?!” I shout, then Rorke punches me, and I groan.

“He may be a strong kid, but everyone breaks, Hesh. Everyone. ” He says, glaring at me with a sinister glint in his eye.

I shake my head.

“You won't get anything out of me, Rorke. I won't give away my forces. I won't give in to you!” I say harshly, and Rorke smiles, then punches me again, drawing blood from my nose.

“We'll see about that, junior. We'll see.”

Chapter Text

KICK

As I’m laying down fire on the Federation troops with the MG, Keegan grabs my arm, pulling me away from the gun.

“Hey!” I shout. Keegan starts to pull me up out of the trench.

“Come on! I just got word from Merrick! He got a positive location on Hesh!”

My eyes widen, and I jump up, then run towards the tower. Throwing open the door, Keegan and I run upstairs, where Merrick awaits us.

“Okay, I located Hesh. He's in San Diego, near the dig site Keegan went back to. There's a large enemy camp there, and that's where they're holding him. If we get going, we can reach there before-”

Suddenly, a barrage of gunfire comes from downstairs, and Keegan, Merrick and I all look at each other, then ready our guns, Merrick grabbing his from the side of the Command console.

Ready at the top of the stairs, I look down, then a shot fires up, from a Federation soldier’s gun. I slam the door shut as another shot splinters the wood, and I turn back to Merrick. He looks on the camera visuals for downstairs, and frowns.

“Shit.” He mutters, and I raise my eyebrow.

“What?”

“There's about twenty guys downstairs, all carrying heavy weaponry. We're blocked off.”

Keegan shakes his head.

“We can easily take these guys. There's an arsenal up here, with the weapons room. They wouldn't be able to even reach us.”

I walk over to Merrick and Keegan, and set my gun down on the console. Looking at the screen, I can see the soldiers starting their way up the stairs.

“We have to move fast. They're gonna be in here before we know it.” Keegan says, and Merrick nods.

“Okay, then we-”

The glass of the window suddenly shatters, and we all shield ourselves from it. I raise my head, and see nothing, then someone swings into the window on a belay cable, and jumps onto the floor.

Their dark grey jacket and black pants blend into the shadows, their face hidden behind a mask. They look up, and pull out a handgun.

“MOVE!” Keegan yells, and we all duck down below the console. A shot rings out, and the room goes dark.

“Shit! He hit the main power coupler!” Merrick says, then I feel a hand grab my shoulder, and pull me up.

“Augh!” I shout in surprise, the darkness of the room throwing me off guard.

“KICK!” Keegan yells, and I feel his hand grab mine. Merrick fumbles for something, then the red emergency lights come on.

As I spin to see the attacker, his fist connects with my face. I fall to the ground, and groan.

“Dammit!” I mutter, and Keegan jumps up over the console. Taking his gun out, he aims it at the man, who holds his gun trained back at Keegan.

“Drop it!” Keegan shouts, but no reaction is found from the attacker. Merrick pulls his gun, too, and joins in the stand-off. I get up on my knees, and grab the man’s leg, pulling him down.

He falls down on top of me, and I roll over on top of him. He punches me again, but I still hold him down. Struggling underneath me, he groans. Merrick and Keegan walk over, and stand over us.

Merrick lowers his gun, but Keegan keeps his trained on the man’s head.

I can tell he's a younger man, and I narrow my eyes as he pushes me off, then pulls me into a choke hold, pressing the gun against my head.

I struggle against him, grabbing at him behind me. His strength is astonishing, in comparison to his size.

My hand pulls at his mask, and it comes off slightly. He pulls me tighter, and I groan in pain, pulling his mask off behind me, not being able to see.

Merrick and Keegan’s eyes widen, and I try to turn.

“What?”

Keegan raises his gun at us, and narrows his eyes.

“Let Kick go, Logan.”

 

My eyes widen, and I struggle against Logan’s hold. “Walker! Come on! Let me go! You're a Ghost, kid! We don't turn on each oth-”

“SHUT UP, KICK.” Logan says harshly, and we all look at each other. Logan takes the gun away from my head, and aims it at Merrick.

“Rorke wants you to come with me. He wants you, Merrick.” Logan switches his gaze between me and Keegan, then back to Merrick.

Just you.” Keegan grips his gun tighter, his finger hovering over the trigger.

“Logan, you try to take Merrick, and I won't hesitate to shoot you.”

Merrick puts his hand on Keegan’s shoulder.

“He's still Hesh’s brother, Keegan. What would Hesh do if you shot him?”

I look up at Keegan, who doesn't lower the gun.

“I don't care. He's not getting you, or hurting Kick.” Keegan growls, and Logan chuckles.

“Is that what you think? I won't get what I came for?” Logan quickly swings his gun towards Keegan, and pulls the trigger.

My eyes widen.

“NO!” I shout as Keegan falls to the ground, holding his stomach, blood dripping through his fingers. Merrick’s eyes are wide, and he stares back at Logan.

“Kid, just take me. Leave Kick and Keegan out of it.” He says, and both Keegan and I look at each other.

“Merrick...don't...” Keegan struggles, tightly pressing on the bleeding wound in his stomach. Merrick stares at Logan.

“Logan, I know that you came here just for me. I’m what Rorke wants. So take me.” Logan shoves me to the ground next to Keegan, then grabs Merrick, taking a zip tie from his pocket and tying Merrick’s hands. Then he glares at us.

“If either of you try to radio for help, or stop us in any way, Merrick gets a bullet to the brain. Got it?” Logan says, and I nod slightly. I turn to Keegan, and help him sit up, pressing down on his wound. Keegan narrows his eyes, and he stares at Merrick.

Merrick looks back at us, then Logan hooks up to the belay cable, holding Merrick, tugs it, and they both get lifted up and away from the compound.

I turn back to look at Keegan.

“What do we do now?” I ask, and he grits his teeth.

“We hope to hell that Merrick knows what he's doing.”


MERRICK

Logan motions to the pilot of the helicopter to fly off, having already pushed me into the seat on the side. I glare at him, and he crosses his arms.

“Logan, you know Rorke is insane. He thinks of nobody but himself. Why are you with him?” I ask, and Logan sighs, looking to the side.

“It doesn't matter.” He says, and I raise my eyebrow.

“You aren't sure why you're helping him, are you? You really don't know what you want to-”

“SHUT UP, MERRICK!!!” He shouts, and the two Federation soldiers standing in the chopper next to him both step back wide-eyed.

“Why are you letting him take your brother? Hesh tried to-”

“I SAID SHUT UP!” Logan clenches his fist, and raises his head to look up at me, his eyes rage filled. He walks over and punches me, and I grit my teeth.

“You can't keep helping him. You know it's the wrong side, Logan. I know you know it.”

Logan punches me again, blood dripping from my nose, my cheek stinging. Logan glares at me, breathing heavily, then spins around, walking to the other side of the chopper. He leans his arm against the wall, then leans his head on his arm, looking out the open side. The two Federation soldiers hold their guns on me, and I sigh.

I turn my head to look out the side of the copter, and I see the ground below us as No Man’s Land. We're far from Santa Monica now. Whatever Rorke has planned, I know it won't end well for either Hesh or I.

Logan stands up straight, and walks to the cockpit, talking to the pilot. We start to descend, and I glance out again, watching as we land in the enemy encampment outside which Keegan and I first met Hesh and Logan.

Taking a deep breath as I’m lifted up by one of the soldiers, Logan grabs me, and drags me out of the helicopter as the doors open. I look up to see Rorke standing with his hands on his hips, smirking, staring at me.

“Well, well. Captain Merrick. Nice to see you again.” He says, and I stare back at him.

“Rorke. I see you haven't changed a bit, asshole.” I shoot, and he chuckles to himself.

“There's no point in delaying. Let's go.” He says, and Logan pushes me forward, following Rorke inside.

After being led through a maze of hallways, up to the second floor, Rorke stops in front of a room, glances back at me, then opens the door. Logan shoves me through the door, the sun shining through the large window blinding me for a moment.

Then my sight adjusts, and my eyes widen.

Hesh sits tied to a chair next to a command console, stripped of his vest and gear, head hanging down, blood dripping from his mouth to create a small stain on his grey jacket and shirt underneath. Blood runs down the side of his head from a cut at the edge of his hairline, and some stains of red around his nose are present from earlier beatings.

“Hesh…” I say quietly. Logan shoves me against the wall as Rorke walks over to Hesh. He grabs his head and lifts it up to look at him.

“Your friend is here, Hesh.” He says with a bite, and Hesh turns his head slightly to see me.

His eyes widen, and he jerks his head away from Rorke.

“Merrick!” He exclaims, and I sigh.

“Hesh...I’m sorry.” I say, looking at Logan.

Hesh closes his eyes, and nods.

“Yeah...me too.”

Rorke rolls his eyes.

“This is such a touching reunion. Both trying to save Logan. Elias would be proud.”

Hesh grits his teeth, and struggles against the ropes.

“Don't talk about my father, you piece of shit! You killed him!” Hesh shouts, and I notice Logan stiffens up a bit at the mention of Elias’ death. Rorke turns to Logan, and beckons him over. Logan walks to stand at Rorke’s side, then Rorke turns to me.

“Merrick, I know that you and Hesh have a strong bond now that Elias is gone.”

Hesh clenches his fists, and I narrow my eyes. Rorke grins.

“So you are going to watch him suffer, as I tear him apart.”

My eyes widen, and I meet Hesh’s eyes. Rorke turns to Logan.

“Logan, shoot him.”


LOGAN

Hesh’s eyes widen, and he looks up at me. Merrick’s expression is both hate for Rorke and fear in what I’m going to do.

“Shoot him, Logan.” Rorke says, and I pull out my gun, aiming it at my brother.

Hesh closes his eyes, and hangs his head.

My hand starts to shake, and I feel resistance in my chest. Merrick stares at me with his eyebrow raised.

“Logan, you don't have to do-”

I clench my fist, and grip the gun tighter, gritting my teeth.

“SHUT UP, MERRICK!” I shout, then I turn the gun back on Hesh. I steady it with both hands, but my hands still shake.

Rorke crosses his arms, and stares at me.

“Logan, shoot him. What are you waiting for?” He asks, and I close my eyes, taking a shaky breath. Rorke rolls his eyes.

“You know you want to, Logan. He left you.”

Hesh snaps his head up with wide, hate-filled eyes.

“WHAT?! You took him from ME! I didn't leave him! I would NEVER leave him! HE'S MY BROTHER! I’M RESPONSIBLE FOR HIM!!!”

He yells, and my eyes widen. Hesh glares at Rorke.

“You took everything from me. EVERYTHING. I WON'T LET YOU TAKE LOGAN AWAY FROM ME!” He shouts.

I close my eyes, and drop my gun.

“No.”

Everyone looks up at me, and Hesh’s eyes widen. Rorke crosses his arms.

“What?” He asks, and I shake my head.

“I said NO!” I shout, and Rorke shrugs.

“No matter.” He pulls his gun and shoots Hesh in the chest once, twice.

Hesh groans in pain, and his head drops, blood seeping through his shirt. Merrick struggles against his tied hands.

“NO!” He shouts.

I stare with wide eyes, my breath stopped.

Hesh….

Suddenly everything flashes through my head.

Every time that Hesh saved me.

Every time he protected me.

Every time he helped me and taught me how to be a soldier.

He never left me.

He was always there for me.

It was always Rorke.

He was the reason that Hesh had to keep his eye on me so closely.

And he just shot him.

My fist clenches, and I grab Rorke from behind, pulling him into a chokehold.

“You're going to pay, Rorke. For everything!” I shout, and hit him upside the head with my gun. He falls to the floor, and I drop to Hesh’s side.

Taking out my knife, I cut the tie holding his hands, and lift him out of the chair. Merrick comes over, and kneels down.

“Logan, I knew you'd make the right choice.”

I nod, then cut his hands free. I hold Hesh against me, and he barely opens his eyes.

“Logan...I’m proud of you…” He says quietly, holding his hand on his bleeding chest. I nod, and lift him to his feet, having him lean on me.

“Come on. We need to get out of here before Rorke comes to, and before you bleed out.” I lead them out into the hallway, and we start to make our way towards the door to outside. Then a yell echoes behind us.

“WALKER!”

I turn my head to see Rorke standing at the end of the hallway behind us, and my eyes widen.

“We have to go, now! ” I shout, and Merrick helps me carry Hesh outside. I run to the helicopter.

“Get him in!”

Merrick jumps into the cockpit, and I sit Hesh down in the chopper. Looking over at Merrick, I shout,

“Take off! GO!”

As Merrick lifts off, I suddenly hear the pinging of bullets on the side of the helicopter. Looking out the side, I can see the turrets of Jeeps shooting at us.

I groan.

“Merrick, we got trouble!” I shout, and he nods.

“You take care of them, I'll fly the chopper.” He says. I turn around, and see the RPG on the wall. I grab it, and crouch on the floor, looking out. Finding the turrets in my sights, I fire, and an explosion down below stops the bullets.

Out of range of the guns, I sigh, and collapse back on the floor.

I look over at Hesh, and he meets my eyes.

“I knew it. I knew you couldn't really go bad.” He says quietly, and I stand up, walk over, and slide down the wall to sit next to him.

Leaning my head back against the wall, I sigh.

“Rorke almost killed you. He would have killed Merrick. He told me to shoot you, but when I had the gun aimed at you, I just couldn't. I couldn't even think about it.”

Hesh nods, then turns his head to look at me.

“You're strong, Logan. Rorke could never beat you.” He smirks, then takes a deep breath.

“Dad would be proud.”

I look at him, and grin slightly. I tilt my head a little, and look at his chest.

“How's your wound?” I ask, and Hesh takes his hand away from his chest, blood staining it in a large area.

“I'll be fine...” He groans, and I shake my head, eyes wide.

“Hesh, it's bleeding more. You're not fine. We need to get you to the medics.” I look up at Merrick.

“How far out are we?” I ask, and Merrick turns his head slightly.

“Less than two clicks. Radioing in now.” He switches the headset, and flicks a button on the dash.

“Command Platform, this is Ghost Two-Two, returning from No-Man’s Land. I repeat, this is Ghost Two-Two.” He says, and a second later, a reply crackles through the radio.

“We hear you, Two-Two. What’s your ETA?” Corporal Davis responds, and Merrick looks at the console.

“We're about one click out. I have Ghosts Six-Three and Six-Four with me. We've acquired an enemy helo, and are needing clearance to land.” Merrick says.

Davis crackles through again. “Solid copy, Two-Two. You're on our scanners, and are authorized to land.”

Merrick nods, and starts to descend towards the compound below us.

“Affirmative, Command Platform. Landing now.”

As we lower into the compound, I hear one of the men shouting.

“Hold your fire! Hold your fire! Those are our guys!”

The chopper sets down, and the soldiers run over. Merrick hops out, and addresses the men.

“We have the Ghosts with us, and Commander Walker is injured. Get him to evac, and patch him up.” I hear him shouting over the loud noise of the still spinning, but gradually slowing down, blades of the helicopter. I jump down, and help Hesh out. He leans on my shoulder, and we start over to the evac ward.

I hear a shout to the side, and we both look to see Kick come running up.

“Logan! Hesh!” He shouts, and Hesh grimaces as he nods.

“Kick.”

I bite my lip, then look up.

“How's Keegan?” I ask, and Hesh looks at me with confusion. I sigh as Kick takes him from my shoulder to lean on his.

“I...uh...shot him…” I say slowly, and Hesh’s eyes widen. Kick smiles.

“He's fine. Let's get Hesh to the infirmary.”

Merrick walks up behind us as we move to the infirmary, and he puts his hand on my shoulder.

“Logan, Kick will take Hesh. Let's get up to Command.” He says. I nod, and we run to the Command tower. As we walk in, I see Corporal Davis. He looks up as the door closes, and his eyes widen when he sees me. He smiles.

“Good to see you again, Walker.” He says, and I nod. Following Merrick upstairs, he opens the door, and I see that Keegan stands at the console. He looks up, and sighs when he sees me.

“Well, looks like you finally made your way home. Welcome back, kid.” He says, and I nod, then rub my arm awkwardly.

"Keegan....I....I shot you....I'm sorr-"

Keegan rolls his eyes with a smile. 

"Logan, I've been through far worse than a little wound like that. Plus, you're a lousy shot. At that small distance, you couldn't even shoot me properly to hurt me." He remarks, and I glare at him jokingly. He chuckles, then shakes his head.

"It's good to have you back, Logan." He says kindly, and I grin. 

"It's good to be back.

I walk over to the window, and I can see that there are still Federation forces on the beach. I turn to face Keegan.

“The Federation is still holding the beach?” I ask in surprise, and Keegan nods his head, sighing.

“Their forces almost have us overrun. But we were missing our best Ghost, and our Command. We've fought well, but we also lost a lot of men, and even more are wounded. We need you out there, Logan. You can help. You're just as good as your brother, and Kick will be there with you.”

I nod, and grab my gun from my belt. I run down the stairs, and over to the infirmary. Looking around, I can see Kick and Hesh over to the left. Kick is bandaging Hesh’s wound, as Hesh flinches in pain. I run over.

“Kick!” I yell, and he spins around as Hesh looks up.

“What is it, Logan?” Kick asks, and Hesh looks at me with curiosity.

“Merrick and Keegan want us on the front line. We need to help hold the beach!” I say, and Kick nods. I look down at Hesh, and he meets my eyes. He holds out his hand, and I grip it tightly.

“Be safe, Logan.” He says, and I nod.

“Of course.”

I drop his hand, and Kick and I run off towards the beach.

Chapter Text

RORKE

Loading my gun, I slip it into the holster strapped to my leg. A Federation soldier, whose name I don't care enough to remember, comes walking up to me.

“Sir, what should we do about the Ghosts?” He says, and I smirk.

“We'll give them a little taste of Hell.” I spin to face him and point outside.

“Get the tanks ready to move. We move out in twenty minutes.” I say, and he nods, then rushes out the door. I turn and look at the wall, leaning on the table pushed against it. I stare at the board with the pictures of the Ghosts on it.

Ajax, Elias, Merrick, Keegan, Kick.

I've killed two of them, Ajax and Elias. The red X’s on their photographs signify that.

Strings connect from their pictures to all the other Ghosts and create a web between them all. A Ghosts mask hangs between their pictures, and one string leads from it, down to the center, where all the other lines lead.

One picture.

Hesh Walker.

I narrow my eyes as I stare at his face. He’s been on my ass, always looking for me, behind the backs of the Ghosts.

Looking for Logan and me.

He's the one who called in the order to destroy the train with ODIN.

7 months ago, that kid killed my plan.

But I took his brother. Tried to mold him to my purposes.

But seeing Hesh, it made Logan revert back to a Ghost.

My fist clenches as my eyes narrow, glaring at his picture. I grit my teeth, then whip out my knife and stab it into the wall, right through Hesh’s picture.

I will bring him down.

I killed his father, I'll kill him, too.

I walk over to the same Federation soldier. I think his name is Santiago. He and others are loading up in the tanks and checking their weapons.

“Santiago,” I say, and he looks up. I guess it is his name. He jumps down from the tank and walks over to me.

“Yes, sir?” He asks, and I cross my arms, looking around.

“I see you've gotten all the forces together. Good job. Let's get going.” I say as we start to walk to the Jeep. Santiago glances over at me, then straight ahead.

“Sir, if you don't mind me asking, how are we going to attack? The beachfront is too heavily guarded.”

I shake my head.

“The beachfront is already being held by our forces. We're in an equal battle with their forces. No, we'll come through No Man’s Land again. But this time, we force our way through. I'll tell you the target once we get moving. Now let's roll out!” I shout, and the men start running to their tanks.

Stepping up into the Jeep, I lean on the bars of the frame, looking ahead. Santiago sits behind the wheel, turning the key in the ignition and firing it up.

“Go,” I say, and he nods. We start to drive out of the compound, the tanks following us. As we drive down the road, I turn and put my finger to my earpiece.

“Tanks, report in,” I demand, and I hear the number of responses.

“Cobra One.”

“Cobra Two.”

“Cobra Three.”

“Cobra Four.”

“Cobra Five.”

"Cobra Six.”

I nod and look straight ahead at the nearing compound.

“The mark is the infirmary and the front line. We take out as many soldiers as we can. Understood?” I say gruffly, and the tanks respond.

“Roger that.”

“Affirmative.”

“Mark confirmed.”

I cross my arms and narrow my eyes.

“Your time to die has come, Hesh Walker.”


LOGAN

As Kick and I lay down fire back on the front lines, I glance to the sides. This is just like the first time the Federation tried to take Fort Santa Monica. Hesh and I had just gotten back from San Diego after helping Merrick and Keegan find Ajax….

I sigh and turn back to shooting. Yet another soldier falls from my bullets, and I glare at the Federation.

They almost turned me against the Ghosts. They did turn me against the Ghosts.

But Hesh….he never stopped looking for me. I always saw Rorke tracking him, and his movements, and how he was always trying to find us.

Hesh never gave up.

He never does.

He's a Ghost.

I’m a Ghost.

I glance to the side at Kick, and I shove his shoulder a little. He stops firing, and turns to me, ducking down below the wall.

“What is it, Logan?” He asks, and I fire off another shot, then duck beside him.

“Listen. I know Rorke is going to be coming for us now. Merrick, Hesh, and I. We have to stay on our guard. He's more ruthless than he was before. So just watch ou-”

A voice suddenly crackles through my radio.

“Logan, you better get up here.”

I put my finger to my ear, and frown.

“Merrick, what is it?” I ask, and Kick raises his eyebrow.

“Just get up here! Bring Kick. He needs to see this, too.” Merrick says urgently, then the line crackles out. I take my finger away from my ear, my eyebrow raised. Kick puts his hand on my shoulder.

“Logan, what is it?” He asks, and I glance up at him.

“Command wants us up at the post right away. Apparently, there's something we need to see.” I say, and Kick nods. We run from the frontline, and back towards the Command platform. I sprint up the stairs, and into the room.

“Merrick, what is it?” I ask as Kick runs in behind me.

Merrick turns to look at us with wide eyes.

“We've got a problem.”

Kick raises his eyebrow.

“I do not like the sound of that.”

We walk over, and Merrick points at the console screen. I look down to see an army of about fifteen tanks headed right towards us through No Man’s Land. Federation tanks. And a Jeep leading them.

My throat closes up as I see Rorke leaning against the bars of the Jeep. I lift my head to meet Merrick’s eyes, and he shakes his head.

“There is no way we are going to be able to stop that firepower.” He says, and my eyes widen.

“What? No, there has to be at least some artillery that we can use back against them!”

Keegan walks in from the weapons room and stares at me.

“Logan, we have only a few tanks. The rest were either destroyed three months ago in the final fight against the Federation or are out on the beachfront.”

I grit my teeth.

“Well then get them moving! We can't just hand this base over to Rorke, or let it get blown to bits! We have to-”

Suddenly a boom sounds, and an explosion on the front lines makes us all meet eyes.

We run to the window, and I can see the first of the tanks rolling over the north wall, and fire again. The shell hits the trenches, and I flinch from the sound of the men screaming. Keegan puts his hand on the window and looks around.

“Where's Rorke?” He asks, and I spin to look for the Jeep, but can't find it. Running out onto the balcony, I look around again.

Then another shell hits close to the platform, and I grab onto the railing to keep myself from falling. Raising my head, I look around, then my eyes widen as I see more tanks coming over the hill. More shelling from the tanks rattles the ground around us, coming dangerously close to the platform and the surrounding area.

Keegan runs out onto the balcony next to me, and he watches as the shells tear up the beach. Then a red smoke appears on the beachfront, and his eyes widen.

“ENEMY SMOKE! THEY'RE MARKING OUR POSITION!” He yells.

Merrick’s eyes widen.

“HOLD ON!”

He yells, and I hold onto the edge of the balcony again. A Federation jet flies overhead, dropping the bombs. The large shells drop and explode on the ground, sending so many of our forces flying, and shaking the ground around us.

“They're taking out our front lines, and our second defenses!” Merrick shouts, and I survey the bloody battle below.

I start to run towards the door, but Keegan grabs the back of my collar, dragging me back to him.

“Where the hell are you going?” He asks, and I grit my teeth.

“They need us down there on the front lines, Keegan!”

He shakes his head.

“Oh, no. The Federation has completely surrounded us, the front is getting blown up, and they would immediately execute you if-”

“They'll execute us anyway! We have to help our men! We're GHOSTS! It's what we do, Keegan! We don't give up!” I shout, tearing myself away from his grip and spinning to look at him. Merrick and Keegan and Kick all look at each other, then Merrick sighs.

“You are just like your brother. The same determination.”

I nod, then my eyes widen.

“Hesh….”

I whip my head around, then run back to the balcony just in time to see a tank roll up. Aiming its sight, it fires, and the shell hits the infirmary. My eyes widen.

“HESH!!!”

I hop up onto the rail of the balcony.

“Logan, NO!” Keegan shouts, but I jump down, roll to my feet, and jump up, gun ready. I sprint towards the tank, firing as I go. I jump up onto the tank as the hatch flips open.

A Federation soldier stands up, sticking his head out of the tank. I pull out my knife and stab him in the neck as he turns to see me. Then I grab a grenade and pull the pin, dropping it in the open hatch.

I jump off the tank and scramble to get up. Behind me, the tank explodes, and the force sends me stumbling forward.

I look up at the burning infirmary. I sprint towards it and duck under the flame-ridden doorway. I stand up straight and look around. The smoke is so thick, I can't see. Coughing, I crouch below the smoke line and make my way through the area.

Dead soldiers lay all around me, and my chest tightens as I look for Hesh.

I make it to where he was when I left him, but an empty bed is all I find, with no sign of him.

I spin around, coughing again as the smoke fills my lungs. Then a crash makes me turn, and I start to make my way towards it, keeping my head down.

“Hesh?” I call, coughing again. I hear another clatter, and then a faint groan.

“Logan?” A cough makes me glance to the side, and I see Hesh stand up, leaning against a tipped bed. I sigh in relief and run over to him.

“Hesh! Are you okay?!” I ask, and he nods, as I put his arm around my shoulder.

“Yeah….what the hell is going on?” He asks, coughing again. I lead him out of the infirmary, and out into the open. We both gasp for air, as we fall to the ground. I glance over at Hesh, who lays on his back, eyes closed, breathing heavily.

“Hesh…” I say, and he turns his head towards me, opening his eyes.

“Yeah, Logan?”

I take a deep breath, looking at the blood-soaked bandage wrapped around his torso. A cut above his left eye drips blood down the side of his face.

I hang my head.

“Rorke’s back. He brought tanks, and he's pushed us back to the breaking point.”

Hesh’s eyes widen, and he props himself up on his elbow.

“He's here for us…” He says, looking at me, and I raise my eyes to meet his. The sincerity and pain in them give more emotion to his scratched and dirtied face. I stand up and offer him my hand. He grabs my wrist, and I pull him to his feet.

“Come on. We have to get back to Command. At least with the Ghosts, we'll have a fighting chance alongside them.” I say as I start to lead Hesh over. He nods, grimacing from the pain in his chest.

“Yeah….I just hope Rorke didn't get to them first…” He says through gritted teeth. Then a chuckle behind us makes us stop.

“Oh, I wouldn't worry about that. I've got better game than them.”


 

My eyes widen as I turn around to see Rorke staring at us, the smoke and fire behind him making him seem even more menacing.

Hesh glares at him, and Rorke smiles.

“So. Logan. I guess I didn't torture you enough to make you turn. What did I say about having second thoughts?”

I narrow my eyes and pull my handgun from the holster on my belt. Aiming it at Rorke, I push Hesh behind me, standing between him and Rorke. Rorke grins.

“Protecting your brother now, are we?” He says snidely, and I grit my teeth.

“If you think that you are ever going to hurt Hesh again, then you are sorely mistaken,” I growl, and Hesh grips my shoulder.

“Logan, he's trying to get you fired up.” He says quietly, and I shake my head.

“I DON'T CARE! I won't let him take the only family I have left!!!” I shout, and Hesh’s eyes widen.

Rorke laughs.

“You and your brother are the exact same. Both too weak to go on alone without your family.” I grit my teeth and pull the trigger. The bullet hits Rorke in the shoulder, but he hardly even flinches. He starts to walk towards us, and I raise my gun again, but a hand grabs it.

A Federation soldier pulls me into a headlock, and I struggle to get away, but another holds me down.

Hesh moves to help, but as he holds the blood-soaked bandage on his chest, he groans and falls to one knee. I try to help him, but the soldiers hold me back.

Rorke walks over to Hesh, and picks him up by the front of his shirt, bringing him close to his face.

“David Walker, 7 months ago you ruined my plans for everything. You called in the attack from ODIN. You blew up the train. Even after I had turned Logan against the Ghosts to use for my purposes, you still managed to get him back. I’m tired of you winning this war.” Rorke pulls the gun from his leg holster and holds it under Hesh’s chin.

My eyes widen.

“RORKE, NO! PLEASE!” I yell, and Hesh grits his teeth.

“Logan...Just keep going for me…” He says painfully, glancing to the side to meet my eyes, and the sorrow and pain in them breaks my heart.

Rorke pushes the gun harder and frowns.

“Shut it, boy. Don't worry. I'll deal with your brother in a minute.”

Hesh’s eyes widen as he looks at me. Rorke grins.

“Just as soon as you're dead.”

A shot rings out, and I close my eyes, hanging my head. Then I hear a clatter of a gun being dropped. I open my eyes and look up, to see Hesh on the ground, looking up at Rorke, and my gaze rises to see Rorke holding his arm, profusely bleeding, and glaring behind me.

Then two more shots ring out, and the two Federation soldiers holding me fall dead. I spin around and see Keegan holding his handgun out straight, aiming at Rorke, the end smoking. Merrick and Kick stand behind him, Merrick with his FAD, and Kick with a Remington R5.

I smirk and glance back at Rorke, who frowns, glaring with hate in his eyes at all the Ghosts. I run over to Hesh, and kneel down. He looks from Rorke to me, then sighs. I stand up, lifting him to his feet. Merrick looks over at us.

“You boys okay?” He asks, and I nod.

“Yeah. We're okay.”

Kick walks over to Hesh, having him lean on him for support, Hesh still holding his chest in pain. I move my gaze to Rorke, and my eyes narrow.

Clenching my fists, I run at Rorke and tackle him to the ground. Merrick shakes his head.

“Logan, no!”

I grit my teeth and punch Rorke, then again and again.

“You would have killed my brother, you piece of shit! You wanted me to kill him! You shot him, we brought him back here, and now you're attacking us again !!!!” I swing at him again, and he groans, trying to push me off. I glare at him. “You don't stop, do you?! Why my family?! You already killed our father! DON'T TAKE MY BROTHER, TOO!!” I shout.

I go to punch him again, but a hand grabs my wrist.

“Logan! Stop!” Keegan says, and I turn my head, still holding Rorke down.

“Why?! He's been coming after all of you, and he won't stop! He killed my father, and almost killed my brother, Keegan!” I shout, and Keegan nods.

“I know, but you can't-”

Suddenly Rorke reaches up, grabs me in a chokehold, and lifts himself to his knees, still holding me. I hold his arm, trying to release myself as I choke, gasping for air.

Hesh’s eyes widen.

“Rorke, let him go!” He says, pulling the gun from Kick’s belt, aiming at us. Rorke laughs.

“What are you going to do, Walker? Shoot your little brother along with me?” He says, standing up and slowly walking backward with me.

Hesh hesitates, then lowers the gun a little. Rorke grabs the knife from the sheath on my vest and holds it to my neck. His arm tightens around my neck, and I choke again.

Hesh steps forward.

“Dammit, Rorke! Stop!” He shouts, and Rorke shakes his head, glaring at Hesh.

“You took everything from me, Walker. Now I’m taking everything from you.”

Hesh’s eyes widen, and he starts towards us.

“No, wait!” He says desperately.

Rorke chuckles, flips the knife around in his hand, and plunges it deep into my chest.


HESH

I freeze in my tracks, eyes wider than I thought they could ever be. Merrick, Keegan and Kick all look on with similar expressions. Logan chokes, meeting my eyes, a tear running down his cheek. He reaches his hand out towards me.

“Hesh…” He chokes out, blood dripping from his lip.

Rorke grins, then rips the knife from Logan’s chest. A spurt of blood follows, and Rorke drops Logan to the ground.

I can't find any air in my lungs, my heart stopped in pain. I drop the gun I’m holding and run to Logan’s side. Falling to my knees, I pick him up in my arms, and hold him against me. His eyes are closed, blood drips from his mouth and spreads across his chest.

“Logan…” I feel a tear roll down my chin, as I try to stop the bleeding.

“Come on, Logan!” I plead, and Rorke laughs.

Keegan grips his gun tightly, and narrows his eyes.

“That's it.” He growls, and raises the muzzle to find Rorke in his sight.

Rorke smirks, and shakes his head.

“I wouldn't.” He says, then I freeze as I feel a gun pressed to the back of my head. Keegan stops, and Merrick steps forward.

“Rorke, don't do it. Hesh didn't-”

“Captain, shut your mouth. Walker is gonna get his, no matter what. There's no denying it. It's just a matter of how painful it is.”

My eyes widen as the gun is taken away from the back of my head. Looking back down at Logan, I see his eyes open slowly, and meet mine. I let out a deep breath and sit him up, pressing his hand tightly against the wound. I stare into his eyes, and shake my head.

“I won't lose you again.” I say, and Logan nods silently, then his eyes widen.

“Hesh!” He says, looking behind me. I raise my eyebrow, and turn my head soon enough to see the barrel of a gun pointed at me.

Rorke grins evilly.

“Time to die.”

My eyes widen as he pulls the trigger, and I feel the bullet rip through my chest. I fall back against Logan, my breath growing sharp.

Hesh !” He says weakly in concern.

Rorke laughs, and grins satisfyingly.

“The death of the Walker boys. Now that is a sight to see.”

I can feel blood wetting my shirt, the warmth of it spreading quickly across my chest, a thin stream starting to run from my mouth. The Ghosts look at Logan and I with wide eyes, then Keegan narrows his eyes, raises his gun, and pulls the trigger, the fray of bullets aimed at Rorke.

I hear Rorke’s grunt as he gets shot, then the thud of him falling to the ground. I let out a deep sigh, and lean my head back, eyes growing heavy.

Merrick runs to Logan and I, and leans down.

“Shit, boys. We gotta get you to one of the medics.” He says.

Logan nods weakly, then looks down at me.

“Hesh?”

My eyes close, my breathing lessening.

Logan grabs my shoulder, and shakes me.

“David?!”

I drop into unconsciousness as my brother holds me closer.

“HESH!”


MERRICK

My eyes widen, staring at Hesh, as Keegan grabs Logan, tearing him away from his brother. Logan struggles against his hold, reaching back towards Hesh, not even bothering about the knife wound in his chest.

“NO! Keegan, let me go!! Hesh! HESH! DAVID!! ” He yells, as Keegan and Kick drag him to a Jeep.

We have to get out of here. It can't be helped. I crouch down, and lift Hesh up onto my back. I stand and run towards the Jeep, with Kick in the driver’s seat, ready to move, Keegan in the back treating Logan’s wound.

He looks up as I draw near, and turns away from Logan for a moment. I set Hesh down in the far back, leaning him against the wheel well.

Keegan jumps into the back and kneels down next to Hesh as I climb into the front next to Kick. I glance to the side at him.

“Let's go.” I say, and Kick nods, putting the Jeep into gear. I point towards No Man’s Land.

“Head towards San Diego. The outskirts of it, at least.”

He nods, and we speed off out of the compound. I close my eyes as I feel the guilt of leaving our soldiers there. But there was no chance at survival. Twenty tanks.

At least Rorke is gone.

I take a deep breath, and turn in the seat, looking back at Logan sitting in the backseat, staring blankly out the side of the Jeep as we pass the Wall.

“Logan.” I say softly, and he slowly turns his head towards me.

I look down at his bare chest, his vest, gear, and t-shirt stripped off by Keegan and only his jacket still on him. A bloody bandage covers the wound, and Logan sighs.

“Are you okay?” I ask, and he nods.

“I’m fine.” He says quietly, not meeting my eyes. He shifts his gaze slightly back towards Keegan and Hesh, then hangs his head. I close my eyes, then climb into the back with him.

“Logan, I know what you're thinking. Hesh is strong. Like you. He’ll be okay.” I say, putting my hand on his shoulder. He nods slightly.

“At least Rorke is dead.” I say, and Logan looks up, eyes wide.

“We don't know that! Yes, Keegan shot him, and yes, he fell, but if you don't remember, Hesh and I blew up a train with us and him on it, that train fell into the water , Hesh fought him, then I shot them both , making the windows of the train explode and water rush in. I barely got out of there alive with Hesh. And still , Rorke wasn't dead! He took me, and put me through Hell! I can't-”

I stare at him with wide eyes at his mention of what happened on the beach, and Logan closes his eyes.

“I just don't know. I still have this….feeling…..and I don't like it.” He says, and I shake my head.

“We can't worry about that right now, Logan. We just need to get to a secure area, where we can help both you and Hesh.”

I turn to Keegan, and lean my arm on the back of the seat.

“How's he doing, Keegan?” I ask, and Keegan takes a deep breath, then turns his head towards me, holding a bloody cloth on Hesh’s chest.

“Not good. The bullet hit some major arteries. He's bleeding pretty bad. That, added to the other two bullet wounds and the damage he took from the explosion and fire...”

His voice trails off, and I stare at him wide eyed, then I move my gaze down to Hesh.

“So what do we do?!” I ask, and he shakes his head.

“At the moment, we really can't do anything. We need to get him somewhere secure, where we can really figure out what we need.” He says, and I nod, then climb back to the front seat with Kick. He tilts his back head towards them slightly, his eyes still on the road.

“How are the boys?” He asks, and I sigh.

“Not good. We need to find somewhere to hold up, and fast.” I say, and he nods, then glances at the scanner.

“Well, what about here?” He says, pointing to a house on the screen. I sigh, and nod slowly.

“I mean...yeah….That..that can work.” I say, and Kick nods, pushing down the gas harder to reach our destination sooner.

Of all the houses that Kick could have chosen, he had to pick the one that would have such an impact on the Walkers.

Logan taps my shoulder, and I turn my head.

“Yeah?” I ask, and he points forward.

“Where are we headed?” He asks, and I take a deep breath.

“You're going home, kid.” I say, and his eyes widen as they fall on the scanner, and the picture of his old house.

“Home….” He murmurs, and then sits back, staring out the window.

I sigh, and look straight ahead.

This won't be easy for any of us.

Chapter Text

HESH

“And this really happened?” I ask, and dad nods.

“So the legend goes.” He says, looking at me, then at Logan sitting across from us, next to the extinguished campfire. He leans against a log, hands behind his head, and meets my eyes. I can see disbelief in his eyes. I smirk, then look up at dad.

“Come on, dad. You don't honestly believe that story is true?” I say, leaning my elbow on my leg. Dad stands up, and nods.

“Yeah. I do.”

I look back over at Logan, and he shrugs. Dad looks down at us.

“Come on. Let's head back to the house.” He says, and I stand up, glancing back at Logan. He sits up, as dad starts walking towards the path. He turns and looks at us.

“Let's go. Shake a leg!” He says, and I motion for Logan to get up. He stands up, and we start to walk back through the woods on the path. The midday sunlight shines through the trees, creating speckled light on the ground. Suddenly, a rumble makes the ground shake under us, and I steady myself a little.

“Woah, little tremor there.” I say with a small smirk. Dad laughs.

“Those things used to scare the hell out of your mother.” He says, and we keep walking, down a small bank. Another slightly bigger rumble moves beneath our feet, and I turn to look at  Logan.

“Another one?”

Dad nods.

“Yeah, I reckon we'll get a few more before everything settles down.”

I nod, and we hike up a small hill. As we reach the top, a breeze blows through my hair.

“Wind’s picked up, too.” I remark. Walking along a small ridge, a much larger tremor makes us stumble, and a tree falls in front of us, rolling down the hill. I glance back at Logan, who meets my wide eyes, then I turn back to find dad running down the hill.

“Dad!” I shout, and he jumps over the tree.

“Let's just get back to the house, make sure nothing got damaged!” He shouts back, and I nod.

“Come on, Logan!” I say, looking behind me. He nods, and we both vault over the log. Running to catch up with dad, I can hear screams, and I see flames as we reach the road. Fire and chaos.

“Dad, what's happening?!” I yell, eyes wide. Dad stands in the road, then his eyes widen.

“ODIN….It's ODIN! To the house boys! NOW!” He yells, and I nod.

We start running through the street towards home, chaos ensuing around us. A car speeds down the road, narrowly missing us.

“Careful!” I shout, as dad keeps running.

“It's not an earthquake!” He yells, and my eyebrow raises.

“What are you talking about?” I shout, confused. He spins around to face us, jogging backwards a little bit.

“You boys get to the house and stay there! I’m going for the truck!” He yells over the noise and the constant rumbling under our feet. I reach after him.

“But dad-”

“Just do it, son!” He yells, then runs off. I nod, then look over my shoulder.

“Come on, Logan!” I shout, beckoning him. He runs up to me, and we run up the trail that leads to the back of our house.

“What the hell is going on?!” I shout, as we reach the wall to our courtyard, now crumbling.

“This way, Logan! Climb over!” I jump up over the broken area of the wall, and Logan follows shortly. Running across our yard, another, much larger tremor sends me stumbling forward and to the side, almost falling.

“It's not safe out here!” I sprint towards the door, throwing it open.

“Get inside, Loga-”

I turn around to see Logan gone. Spinning around, my eyes widen.

“Logan?” I call out, searching for my brother. No response, only the sound of people screaming in the background. I run back out to the courtyard, avoiding the fallen branches from the tree.

“LOGAN!” I shout, eyes growing wide.

WHERE ARE YOU?!” My heart beats faster, and my breath is short and sharp.

Where the hell is he?!

I look out towards the city, and see a streak shoot towards the ground, then a massive bright light, and I shield my eyes. Then the ground beneath me heaves, and I stumble, then fall.

Landing on my side, I groan, then a hail of debris from my house rains down, and I instinctively put my hands up to protect myself. But sharp pieces of wood and metal still find their way through, slicing my arms and then my cheek, a piece hitting right above my eye. I feel the blood dripping down the brow of my eye, then snaking its way down the side of my face.

I cough, then look around again.

“Logan?!” I call out hoarsely.

“Dad?” I try, but still no response. The screaming that could be heard not a moment earlier is now silenced, no sound from any human. I feel a terrible weight in my stomach, and my eyes search the area again.

“Logan!!!” I yell, then I hear the click of a gun, and a laugh. I turn my head to stare down the barrel of a gun. A man with a bandana tied on top of his head and a scar over his left eye and cheek smiles menacingly at me.

“David Walker. Your time is up.” He says, and my eyes widen.

“Wait!-”

He pulls the trigger, and one last word escapes my lips.

“LOGAN!”

 

My eyes shoot open, and I find myself in a cold sweat, panting heavily. Keegan turns around, wide eyed.

“Hesh!” He says, and I wince as I feel a searing pain in my chest.

“Logan….” I say through my sharp breath, and Keegan walks over to me. I prop myself up on my elbow, my eyes searching.

“What...where are we? Where's Logan?!” I shout, and Keegan’s eyes widen, then he puts his hand on my shoulder, holding me down as I try to get up.

“Hesh, take it easy. You've been out for a few days.” He says, and I look down to see my shirt had been removed, and now bloody bandages cover my chest. The pain of it hits me, and I try not to cringe from it. I can only now feel a bandage over my left eyebrow, and a faint buzzing in my head.

“...Keegan...what happened?..” I groan, putting a hand to my head. He sighs, and sits back in a metal chair.

“What do you remember?” He asks, and I sigh, sitting up painfully and leaning against the wall. I only now look around, and raise my eyebrow. I...I know this place. These walls, the carved beams, the styled windows, the tiled floor. My eyes widen, and I look up at Keegan.

“Why are we here?!” I shout, and Keegan leans back, eyes wide.

“What do you-”

“WHY DID YOU TAKE US HOME?!” I shout, and Keegan looks at me with a certain despair hidden behind his eyes.

“Because it was the only place we could help you safely.” I hear from the doorway, and I turn to see Merrick leaning up against the doorframe, staring at me.

He sighs, standing up and walking over to me.

“Hesh, I know that this is probably hard for you, but we needed to get out of the compound. The Federation had us overrun, and there was no way we could stand and fight. So we brought you and Logan-”

My eyes widen.

“Where’s Logan?!” I say desperately, and Merrick raises his eyebrow.

“Hesh, he's fine.”

I take a deep breath, closing my eyes.

“Where. Is. He.” I say through gritted teeth, and Keegan’s eyebrow raises. Kick walks in, and stops when he sees me.

“Hesh! You're awake! It's good to see-”

Merrick turns to stare at him, and one look shuts him up. Merrick turns his head back towards me.

“He's sleeping. You should go back to sleep too, Hesh. You've had it pretty rough.” He says, and I close my eyes and sigh.

FINE. ” I say with a bite to my voice. Why am I so edgy? I don't understand what's happening. I wake up in my old house that was half destroyed in the ODIN attack, after having a flashback to when it first happened.

But Logan...I need Logan.

Taking a deep breath, I lean back against the wall and close my eyes, trying to find some way to drift back off to sleep.


 

 

I struggle against the ropes, and look to my right at my dad. He sits in the chair, his hands tied behind his back, just like mine. Rorke paces in front of us, then glances over to Logan, tied to a chair across from me, head hanging down.

Rorke sighs, putting his hands on his hips, staring at both me and dad.

“My soldiers should have killed you, but on so many occasions you just managed to slip away.” He shakes his head.

“Well, I guess if you want something done right, do it yourself.”

I see Logan’s head move a little, and he groans. Rorke lifts his head up by his hair and smiles.

“You're awake. Good.” He shoves his head down, then turns to looks at all of us.

“Nice to have the family back together again, isn't it?” He says, and I grit my teeth.

“We're just missing our quiet friend.” Rorke leans down in front of dad.

“Where's Keegan?” He asks menacingly, and dad frowns.

“You know I’m not telling you a damn thing.” He says, and Rorke nods.

“No? Let's see if I can change your mind.” He pulls his gun and shoots Logan in the stomach, making him jolt and groan.

“NO!” Dad yells, and my eyes widen.

“Logan!” I shout, as I struggle against the ropes. Logan groans and flinches in pain, teeth gritted tight. I look up at Rorke with hate in my eyes.

“You son of a bitch I'm gonna kill you!” I yell, and Rorke chuckles.

“Easy, junior, I haven't even started with you, yet.” He says, smiling.

Dad stares at Logan with hurt in his eyes.

“Logan, look at me. Look at me, son.” He says, and Logan slowly raises his head to meet dad’s eyes. Rorke walks over behind dad, and pats his shoulder.

“That's right. You look at him. Show him how much pain he's causing you.”

I grit my teeth, still pulling against the ropes a bit. Logan groans again, and Rorke smirks.

“Funny thing about your old man. He lets his men die to save his own ass.”

Dad glares up at him.

“Dammit, Rorke! This is between you and me! Leave my boys out of it!” He yells, and Rorke turns around.

“You're talking to a superior, Lieutenant. Show some discipline.” He says, and dad grits his teeth.

“You were never one of us. You're not a Ghost!” He spits, and Rorke chuckles.

“Well, that's just cuz I’m better than you.” He spins and punches dad across the face, and my eyes widen. I struggle against the chair.

“I've always been better than you!” He swings again, and dad groans. Rorke glares at him.

“But YOU. You call yourself a GHOST?!” He punches him again, and my feet scratch at the ground as I push against the chair.

“You're nothing.”

I look up to see Logan starting to wriggle his hands free of their restraints.

“You and your sons. You're dead.”

Logan’s ropes drop from his hands, and he meets my eye.

“Your name dies with you.”

Logan jumps up and grabs Rorke’s gun from the holster on his leg. Rorke swings around with a smile, and grabs him.

“Ah, he's still got a little life in him!” He holds Logan’s hand around the gun, aiming it up.  

“Didn't he ever tell you not to aim guns at people? They could go off!” He says, and he pulls the trigger with Logan’s finger. My eyes widen as the bullet hits dad in the chest.

“That's it! Just a little….more….that way….” He says, pushing against Logan’s struggle.

“Come on...” He says, and I grit my teeth.

“Dammit, Rorke! Stop!” I shout, and Rorke smiles.

Point...it...at….dad.” He pulls the trigger again, and dad grunts in pain as a second shot hits him in the chest. Rorke smiles, then spins around to hit Logan upside the head with the butt of the gun. Logan jolts, and falls to the ground. My eyes widen.

“Logan! LOGAN!” I shout.

“Hoo! You got fire in ya, kid! I like that! Risking your life to protect your captain!” Rorke turns to dad and points at Logan.

“You could learn something from him, Elias.” He says, and dad’s eyes narrow.

“He’s my son.” He says forcefully, and Rorke smirks.

“Yeah, and he's gonna get to watch you die.” Rorke raises the gun, and fires the gun four times into dad’s chest.

My eyes widen.

“No! NO! DAD!” I shout, as Rorke picks him up, and shoves him to the floor next to Logan. He stares at Logan, blood staining his shirt, with pain in his eyes. My wide eyes fill with hate and rage, and I pull against the bindings with all my strength, the chair scuffing on the floor.

“I'LL KILL YOU, YOU HEAR ME?! I'LL KILL YOU, YOU SON OF A BITCH, I’M GONNA KILL YOU!! MOTHER FUCKER!!” I scream, and Rorke laughs, staring into my soul.

He turns around, and puts his foot on top of dad’s face, shoving it to the side, dad just barely groaning.

“You are right, Elias. I’m not a Ghost. I’m the man that hunts them, and sends them back to the other side.” Rorke presses the gun against dad’s temple, then pulls the trigger. Blood flows from dad’s head, and I feel my heart get torn apart. I stare with wide eyes, and Rorke smiles, standing up. He turns back to me, as I breath heavily, my mind still trying to deny what just happened.

“David. You're nothing without your father, are you?” He taunts, and I grit my teeth, eyes still wide, staring at the lifeless body of my father, next to the unconscious body of my little brother.

Rorke smirks.

“Let's see how you fare without your brother, too.”

My head shoots up as Rorke walks over to Logan, pulling his gun.

“NO! Not Logan! Kill me, not him!” I shout desperately. Rorke smirks, and pushes the gun against the back of Logan’s head. He glances up at me.

“Say goodbye to your brother, Hesh.” He pulls the trigger, and my soul shatters.

“NO! LOGAN!!!”

 

I jolt out of sleep, tense and alert, breathing heavily, sweating. My eyes are wide, and I look around. I’m still in our old house, laid down on the couch in the main room.

“Logan…” I mutter, feeling that buzzing in my head again. I bring my hand to my head, sitting up, and leaning my elbows on my knees. My head is pounding. I lift my head from my hands, and glance around.

“Logan?” I call out, and I hear a door open.

“Logan?” I say, and Keegan walks in the room, staring at me.

“Hesh, what is it?” He asks, and I shake my head.

“I want to see Logan.” I say with a bit of a harshness to my tone. Keegan crosses his arms.

“He's out with Kick. He’ll be back soon.”

I clench my fist, and snap my head up to look at him.

“When?! When can I see him?! Last time, he was sleeping, now he's out with Kick! When can I see my little brother, Keegan?!” I shout, and Keegan’s eyes widen.

Merrick walks in behind him, and crosses his arms.

“Hesh, I think you need to just-”

“What, Merrick?! I need to just what? All I want is to be with Logan!!!” I shout, fire starting to blaze in my eyes.

Merrick glances to the side at Keegan, who raises his eyebrow. Merrick turns his head back to me.

“Hesh, there's some water and rations on the table for you. I suggest you take them, and get your strength back up.” He says, referring to the table next to me. I glance over to see a canteen of water, and some small rations.

Merrick turns his head to Keegan, and nods his head towards outside.

“Keegan, I need to talk to you about something.”

They leave the room, and I grab the canteen and start downing the water. I wipe the water away from my lips with the back of my hand, the water droplets rolling down to my wrist.

I sigh, and glance up. What is with me? Why am I feeling so angry? I don't even know what's going on in my head! I only know one thing for sure, one thing that will make this all better.

I need to see Logan.


KEEGAN

Merrick and I walk out the door, and I turn to face him.

“What is it?” I ask, and he looks back through the door, then to me.

“He's different. I don't know what it is, but Hesh just seems different.”

I nod, and cross my arms.

“I think I know what it is.” I say, and Merrick raises his eyebrow.

“What?”

I take a deep breath.

“I've been watching his reactions, and how he's been sleeping, and I've noticed something. He's much more on edge, and when he's asleep, he's always tense, and then seems to be scared when he wakes up.”

I turn my head to look at Merrick.

“I think he's got PTSD. Having traumatic flashbacks. Maybe about him and Logan? He always seems to call his name, and he's so desperate to see him. I don't know what to do about it, but I’m worried about him.”

Merrick nods.

“Maybe the fight with Rorke and seeing Logan hurt and then being shot made something snap in his head. But you're right. He needs to be kept an eye on.”

I uncross my arms, and walk back towards the door. Merrick puts his hand on my shoulder, stopping me.

“Keegan, we have to be careful around him. He could snap at any second. We need to help him with this, not make it worse.”

I frown.

“What the hell do you mean by that? How could we make it worse ?” I ask, and Merrick sighs.

“Well, you've never really been one to be sympathetic, or subtle.”

I roll my eyes, and shove his hand off of my shoulder.

“Thanks, Merrick.” I say with a sarcastic bite, opening the door. Stepping back in the room, I look around, then stop, making Merrick almost walk into me.

“What is it?” He asks, and I stare in the room.

“He's gone.”

Chapter Text

LOGAN

As Kick and I walk around, fingers on the triggers of our guns, I glance over at him.

“So how far do we have to go? This patrol is taking a while. We should start heading back.” I say, and Kick nods.

“Yeah. We've gone far enough. Let's head back and get some food.” He agrees. Turning around, we start back towards my house, walking along the cliff edge that leads precariously down into the deep ravine created when ODIN struck. The home and town that David and I had known was now a wasteland, dangerous and unpredictable.

As we walk down the road, I hear a shout ahead of us.

I instinctively raise my gun, glancing to the side slightly at Kick, who does the same. I stare ahead, then I see someone jump down from one of the walls, and look up and down the street.

Then their gaze falls on me, and our eyes lock. My eyes widen.

“Hesh?!” I shout, and he runs over to me.

“LOGAN!” He embraces me tightly, and I jolt in surprise, then hug him back.

“Hesh, are you okay?” I ask as he steps back, and he nods, staring into my eyes.

“We need to go, Logan. Now!” He says, and I tilt my head in confusion.

“What? Why?” I ask, and he shakes his head.

“We just-”

Kick steps up behind Hesh.

“Hey, you can't leave. We need to stick together.” He says, putting his hand on Hesh’s shoulder.

Hesh’s eyes widen, then he grabs Kick's hand and spins him around, holding his arm behind his back and forcing his head down. My eyes widen, and I grab Hesh.

“What are you doing?! It's just Kick!!” I shout, as Kick struggles against Hesh. Hesh looks up at me, and there's something different about his eyes.

Something that I've never seen before; true fear, and pure rage and anger.

He lets Kick go, dropping him to the ground, then he grabs my wrist, and drags me along.

“Logan, we have to leave. Rorke is still alive. I know it. I can feel it! We can't let him live!” He shouts, and I shake my head.

“I feel like he's still alive too, Hesh, but we can't just leave the Ghosts-”

Hesh groans, shaking his head.

“They'll just slow us down!!” He shouts, and I lean back with wide eyes, my usually calm and collected brother replaced with an angered, irrational young man.

I can hear Kick groan behind us, and I glance over my shoulder to see him stand up, look at Hesh, then put his finger to his ear.

“Merrick, Keegan. I found Hesh, and there's something about him. He's...not him. I need you to come down to our position. We're one click southeast of you, on the-”

Hesh glares at Kick, then walks over and grabs him, holding him in a choke hold. My eyes widen, and I start to run over. I can hear Merrick’s voice crackle through the comlink.

“...Kick?.....Kick, are you there?....”

Hesh hits him over the head with the butt of his gun, dropping an unconscious Kick to the ground.

I stop in my tracks, and stare at my brother with wide eyes. He looks up, and his expression of anger changes to fear.

“Logan, we have to leave!” He shouts, grabbing my arm as he runs past me. Dragging me towards the ravine, he jumps down onto a lower road that still somewhat spans it. Running across it to the other side, taking me along with him, he shoves me up onto the ledge.

“Get going!” He says harshly, and I scramble up, then turn around as he lifts himself up. He reaches for my hand again, but I stop him.

“Hesh, hold it. What's going on? What's wrong with you?!” I ask, and Hesh sighs, then falls to his knees, looking down at the ground.

“I can't lose you, Logan. And Rorke almost took you away from me.” His fists clench, and he slowly looks up, the anger present again in his eyes.

“I WON'T lose you. And I WON'T let the bastard who killed our father live.” He says, and my eyes widen. He grabs his gun from his belt, and lifts me to my feet. He stares into my eyes, the light brown of them now seeming to have a different coloring around the edges.

“Let's go.” He says roughly, and I feel a pit in my stomach as he turns away.

There's more to this. More to what is making Hesh act like this.

And yet….somehow….I feel like I've somehow been through what’s happening to him…… In some strange, odd way, I remember feeling that way before. I just don't know when, or how.

But I know.

And it's definitely not anything good.


KEEGAN

I grab my gun from the table, and start to walk out the door.

“Where the hell do you think you're going?” Merrick asks from behind me, and I spin around.

“Didn't you hear Kick? They found Hesh, and he noticed the difference, too. I just want to get there, and make sure he's okay. His line went dead, and I just have this bad feeling.” I say, and Merrick nods, then looks around. His gaze falls on the bench where we had initially laid Hesh, and the blood spotted cloths that cover it. He stares at them for a moment, then looks back up at me.

“Go. Find Kick. But keep me posted as to where you are.” He says, and I nod. Running out the door, I check the mag of my gun to make sure it's fully loaded. Sprinting down the street, I look around, finding my way to where Kick last reported from.

Jumping down from a ledge, I look up and down the street, then my gaze falls on something.

Down the street.

A body fallen on the ground.

Tan jacket, camo cargo pants tucked into tan boots.

Brown, scruffy hair.

My eyes widen.

“Kick…” I say softly, and I sprint down to him.

“Kick!” I skid next to him, and roll him over. Blood drips down the side of his face from a cut at the edge of his hairline, bruised around it, almost like he had been hit really hard. I hold him, then lift up the man that's an older brother to me.

“Come on, Kick... wake up!” I shout, then he groans, his eyes fluttering open.

“K..Keegan?” He looks up at me, and I nod.

“Yeah. You okay?” I ask, and he sits up, putting a hand to his head, groaning, then taking it away upon feeling the wet touch of his blood. He lifts his head up, eyes wide.

“Keegan, we have a serious problem.” He says, and I frown.

“What?” I ask, knowing in my head what he's about to say.

“Hesh is different. It's...it's like he changed….One second he was scared, trying to take Logan somewhere saying ‘they needed to go.’ Then the next second, after I had just contacted you, he had me in a chokehold, and hit me with the end of his gun.”

My eyes widen.

Hesh knocked you out?!” I say in disbelief, and Kick nods.

“Yeah. He must have taken Logan. I don't know where, but he seemed pretty desperate to get away from here.” He says, and I sigh, then stand up, lifting him to his feet. I bend down and pick up his gun, handing it to him. He takes it, and looks me in the eye.

“What do you think it could be?” He asks as we start to jog back towards the house. I shrug.

“Well, Merrick and I thought it was maybe some sort of PTSD, from seeing Logan again the way he was after all that time, being taken by Rorke, Logan getting hurt, then just the injuries from the attack at the fort. I don't know. But now, it seems like it could be much bigger than that.” I say, and Kick nods.

“Yeah….”

A crackling on the radio comes through, and Kick and I both put our fingers to our ears.

“Keegan, Kick, you better get back here. I might have something.” Merrick says, and I turn my gaze to Kick, with raised eyebrows.

“We'll be right there.” I say, as Kick and I run down the road. Jumping over the wall of the courtyard, I run into the house, and Merrick looks up as Kick and I enter the room.

“What is it?” I ask, but Merrick stares at Kick.

“What happened to you?” He asks, pointing to the cut on his forehead. Kick and I look at each other, then Kick takes a deep breath.

“Hesh...he sort of attacked me….put me in a chokehold, then knocked me out with his gun.” He says, referring to the cut on his forehead. Merrick’s eyes widen.

Hesh did that?” He asks, and I nod.

“Yeah. I know. Anyway, what was it you wanted to show us?” I ask, and Merrick nods.

“I might have figured out what made Hesh so...different.” He says, and my eyes widen.

“What?” I ask, and he beckons us over to the table. He picks up one of the bandages from when I was cleaning Hesh’s wound, blood soaking it. He glances at both of us.

“I had a thought when I went over in my head what happened. Hesh’s personna completely changed. Only after he had been shot, though. He wasn't like that before Rorke shot him, not even when he had him captured. So I thought maybe, just maybe, Rorke did something to him.”

Kick scoffs.

“Yeah. He shot him.” I elbow him, and he flinches a little.

“Hey…” He says, and I glare at him.

“What, Merrick?”

Merrick points to the bandage.

“I examined the blood on his bandage, and I found traces of something.” He holds it up, showing us some dark spots on it, almost black, not like blood at all. My eyebrow raises.

“What the f-”

Kick shakes his head.

“What the hell is that?” He asks, and Merrick sighs, setting the cloth back on the table, then wiping his hands.

“Poison. It's some kind of poison, I’m sure of that. Something Roke said made me realize it. When he had me and Hesh captive. He said he wanted me to see Hesh suffer, as he ‘tore him apart’.” He looks up at us.

“What if he meant like what he did to Logan?”

My eyes widen.

“What, you mean turn him against the Ghosts?” I ask disbelievingly. Merrick nods, sighing.

“Rorke wanted Hesh dead, but he may have realized that doing what he did to Logan to Hesh would be far worse and more painful. I just hope that Hesh doesn't hurt Logan. Whatever was in those bullets, and whatever Rorke did to Hesh, it's sure working a hell of a lot faster than putting Logan in that pit.” Merrick meets both Kick’s and my eyes, and we stand silent for a moment.

Kick shifts nervously to one side.

“So….what do we do?” He asks, and another silence follows. Merrick shakes his head.

“I have no idea…..”


HESH

I run through the burning compound, with Logan at my heels.

“Come on! Dad’s place is down the next street!” I yell, then look ahead to see our dog.

“There's Riley!” I shout, turning down the road. My eyes widen when I see our forces shooting at more Federation soldiers.

“Enemies, at the end of the street!” I shout, and Logan nods. We both crouch behind two cement road blocks, firing over them. The enemy’s numbers on the streets dwindle down to none, and I motion to Logan.

“Let's go!” I sprint down the street, as Logan jumps over the block. Sliding on my knee to next to the metal door to the garage, I lift it up, holding it open for Logan.

“Get inside! More enemies coming!” I shout as both Riley and Logan duck under. Closing it, I turn around, looking at the flames jumping over the walls and creeping along the fallen beams on the floor.

“Elias! Dad!” I yell through the house. I turn to Logan.

“Come on! Up the stairs!” I shout, and he nods. Sprinting upstairs, we find the command center is now destroyed, flames engulfing the whole room.

“We gotta make sure dad got out!” I shout, looking around. I look at a piece of wood blocking us from another area, then run to it. I lift it up, trying to avoid some of the places where flames dance over it.

“Logan, see if you can move under this thing!” I say, and he nods, dropping to crawl underneath it.

“Hurry!” I hear it cracking, then my grip loses it.

“Shit! Look out!” I shout as it collapses right behind him. He spins to look at me with wide eyes, and I point.

“Go upstairs! Find dad! I'll look for another way around!” I shout, and he nods, grabbing his gun and jumping to his feet. He runs upstairs, and I look around.

There's a table that avoids the flames that I can jump over to get to Logan. I run over, and Riley follows, jumping over in one leap, then runs upstairs. I get across, then start to run up the stairs, gun ready.

I reach the top of the stairs to find a bit of flames, and I jump over them. I see a hole in the wall, as I run around to the doorway.

As I walk into the room, my eyes fall to the floor, where Logan lays pinned under a Federation soldier. The soldier has a knife stuck in Logan’s chest, and my eyes widen.

“LOGAN!” I scream, then I loose all my bullets into the soldier as he turns around to see me. He falls to the side, and I run to Logan’s side.

He stares up at me, eyes wide, breath shaky. Blood drips from the side of his mouth, and I shake my head.

“No...you're gonna be okay, Logan...” I say quickly, hiding my fear, then his eyes close, and I feel my heart stop.

“Logan?” I say, shaking him gently. His head falls to the side, and my eyes widen.

“No...nonononono!” I shout, as tears start to drip down my cheeks.

“I was supposed to protect you!” I yell, as my soul shatters.

“LOGAN!!!”

 

“Hesh!” Someone shakes me awake, and my eyes shoot open.

Logan crouches in front of me, eyes worried. I blink a few times, then my eyes widen.

“Logan!” I say with relief, and he raises his eyebrow.

“Hesh, are you okay?” He asks, and I take a deep breath, then rub my face with my hand.

“Uh..yeah….yeah. I’m okay.” I say, and Logan looks at me with a slight disbelief, then sits back. He leans back against the wall of the narrow hallway we holed up in last night, and stares at me.

“Hesh, I want you to tell me what's going on.” He says, almost like an order. I raise my eyebrow.

“What? What do you mean?” I ask, and he shakes his head.

“Hesh, I think you know what I mean. Why are you acting so different. I mean, you're acting like I did when I was first taken out of the Pit-”

He stops, and my eyes widen.

“You remember that?” I ask, my curiosity matched with concern. Logan sighs, and closes his eyes.

“I wish I didn't.” He says softly, and I hesitate, then ask the question that has been nagging at the back of my mind since Logan first came back.

“What happened?” I ask slowly, and he looks up to meet my eyes, then takes a deep breath.

“When Rorke took me, that day on the beach, he beat me, taking me somewhere. Next thing I knew I was in a plane, and we were headed down to the south. When the plane landed, Rorke had me tied up, and brought to a base deep in the jungle.” My eyes are wide as Logan recounts his story.

“They threw me in this...hole...in the ground, then put bars on top of it, not like I would have been able to reach the top anyway.” He sighs.

“For six months, they left me down there. Whenever they gave me food, it burned and tore at me from the inside out. I could feel my mind breaking. Everything turning to hate, and rage. I was becoming...someone else. Something that Rorke could use against you. But there was one thing that I wouldn't forget. I kept it in the back of my head, not letting anything get to it, or be able to ever wipe it out.” He says, and he looks up to meet my eyes.

“You.”

My eyes widen.

“Me?” I ask, and he nods.

“I could never give up the thought of you. Yes, I came to hate all Ghosts after time, and eventually I did forget my love for you.” He says, turning his head aside.

“But when Rorke took you, and beat you up, then something changed. I felt that bond again, and I couldn't let him hurt you any more. That's why I couldn't shoot. Because I knew I had to save you. Because you saved me.” He says, looking up to meet my wide eyes.

“Logan...I’m so sorry.” I say, and he nods. Then I feel that same buzzing in my head, and I groan, putting my hand to my head.

“Hesh?” Logan asks in concern, and I shake it off.

“I’m fi-” The acheing gets worse, and I hold my head in both hands, tightening up. Logan jumps up and runs over to me.

“Hesh!” He says, a worried tone to his voice.

I feel something tearing at me, pulling me apart. My eyes shoot open, and I stare up at Logan.

“They have to pay.” I say with a deep, vicious tone to my voice. Logan shakes his head in confusion.

“What? Who?” He asks, fear masked behind his eyes, and I clench my fists.

“The Ghosts.”

Logan steps back a little, eyes wide. I blink a little, then my eyes widen when I realize what I just said.

“Wait...What?!” I say in confusion, putting my hand to my head, the buzzing and thunder that echoed not moments ago fading away.

“Wha...NO! I don't….I didn't mean….” I stutter, shaking my head, and Logan puts his hand on my shoulder, holding me steady.

“Hesh! Calm down! It's okay!” He says comfortingly, and I take a deep breath, my chest rising then falling.

I squeeze my eyes shut, and put my head in my hands.

“What's happening to me?!” I ask frantically, and Logan shakes his head.

“I don't know, but we'll figure this out, Hesh.…..David…..” He says, and I raise my head, eyes full of fear.

“Logan….I don't know what's happening…..But...I need your help.” I say quietly, and Logan nods, staring deep into my eyes.

“You're my brother, Hesh. I'll always be there to help you.” He says with a grin. I nod.

“Let's figure this shit out.”

Chapter Text

KICK

I pace as Merrick and Keegan talk, then spin towards them.

“Where the hell do you think they went?” I ask, and Keegan turns around, crossing his arms.

“Kick, we went over this. We don't know .” He says, and I glare at him.

“Why are you always so damn pessimistic?!” I shout, and Merrick and Keegan both stop, and stare at me. Keegan narrows his eyes, and walks over to me.

“Kick, there is absolutely nothing to be optimistic about ! The beach was overrun, the base was taken, Hesh was shot, Logan was stabbed, Hesh went nuts, then attacked you , then took Logan, and now we find out that Rorke poisoned him to turn him into a Ghost killer. So you tell me, Kick. What am I missing that I could be optimistic about?” He hisses in my face, and I stumble back a little.

“I...I mean…”

"Keegan. Let it go.” Merrick says, and Keegan glances over his shoulder at Merrick, then shoves past me as he storms out the door. I watch him go with wide eyes. It's amazing how even though he's five years younger than I am, he's still so intimidating. I take a breath, then turn back to Merrick.

“I didn't mean to-” Merrick puts his hand up, and sighs.

“Kick, it's not you. Keegan is…..Keegan. He's unlike any man I've ever known. He formed a strong bond with Hesh, just like me, but also with Logan. So now that both of them are gone….well…..Let's just say he’ll be much more on edge.”

I groan.

“Great. Now he’ll be even more angry at me than he normally is.”

Merrick sighs.

"Kick, he doesn't hate you. He actually really cares about you. Trust me. He thinks of you as an older brother.”

My eyes widen.

“Really?” I ask in surprise, and Merrick nods.

“Yeah. He just needs time to process this. I know him. He's probably thinking up a plan of how to find them and get them back as we speak. He's a hell of a Ghost. Ever since he joined as a kid. You remember first meeting him."

I nod with a sigh.

"Damn straight I remember. He was one determined kid."

Merrick nods.

"He's always been determined. As well as smart, loyal, and efficient.”

I sigh.

“But still Keegan.”

Merrick smirks and nods.

“Yes. Still Keegan.”

Turning towards the window, I look out.

“Walkers, you better be alive.”


LOGAN

Hesh paces in front of me, back and forth, like he has been for the past twenty minutes. I sigh.

“Hesh, you know, wearing a path in the ground isn't going to help anything.” I say, looking down at my gun, checking it.

Hesh looks up, and sighs.

“Look, we just need to think, okay? What's going on? Plus, I know you feel it too. That Rorke is still alive. I don't know how I know, I just know.” He says, and I nod.

“Yeah, okay. But what are we gonna do about that? It's not like we know where he is.” I say as I jump down from the metal ledge I was sitting on.

Hesh stops, and crosses his arms.

“True. We can't worry about that right now. Let's just try to think. After Rorke shot me, that was the first time I really felt...angry. I saw you get taken by Rorke when we were at our house, and-”

I raise my eyebrow.

“Hold up, when we were at the house, we were way far away from Rorke, and I wasn't taken by anyone.” I say, confused.

Hesh leans against the wall, rubbing his face in his hands.

“No...that's..that's not what I meant….I…” He sighs, and I walk over to him.

“Hesh, what is it?” I ask, and he takes a deep breath.

“I was reliving the day that ODIN first hit. You know, eleven years ago?” He says, and my eyes widen.

“Of course I remember. Not all of it, after I hit my head, but yeah. You were, what, 18? And I was 16. But what do you mean you were ‘reliving it’?” I ask, and he closes his eyes tightly.

“It was like I was there again. While I was out after we left the compound. It was dad telling us the story about the Ghosts, then ODIN hit, we were headed to the house, running across the courtyard. You were right behind me, then when I got to the door, and turned to grab you, you were gone. I called out for you, looking around. Then suddenly Rorke was there, he had a gun to my head, then I woke up.” He says, and my eyes are wide.

“That's what triggered it? You had a flashback to the day it first happened? How did that-”

“That's not all.” He says, looking to the side. I raise my eyebrow.

“What?” I ask, concerned. He turns to look at me.

“That wasn't the only thing. Every time I close my eyes, I flash back to every time where you got hurt, or our family got hurt. Like when Rorke killed dad, and when you got stabbed by the Federation soldier. But every time it happens, it doesn't end like it really did. It ends with you dying.” He says, staring at me.

My eyes grow wide, and he sighs.

“I just...I can't lose you, Logan. Not again.” He says, looking down at the floor. I walk to stand next to him.

“David.” I say, and he looks up.

“You won't. We stay together, and we keep each other safe. Don't worry.” I say, and he pauses, then nods.

“Okay.....”

He suddenly snaps his head up, and grabs his gun. I step back a little, and look at him.

“Hesh, wha-”

“Shh. Quiet.” He commands, and I shut my mouth. He crouches down a little, then turns his head towards the door to our left, leading outside.

He runs over to it, staying low, and motions for me to stack up next to it. I nod, and he looks at me, putting a finger to his lips, telling me to stay quiet. He glances out the window, then his eyes widen.

“Shit…” He mutters, and I raise my eyebrow.

“What?” I whisper, and he turns his head towards me.

“There's a convoy incoming. And a bunch of troops on foot.” He says, and I frown.

“We know they're not ours. Pretty much all of our numbers were wiped out in Santa Monica.” I say, and Hesh frowns.

“Then the Federation caught up with us.” He says. I shake my head, looking out the door.

“No. It can't be that. They don't even know we're here. How could they? We were with the other Ghosts, but then we went off on our own, being careful not to leave any trace. There's no way they could know that-”

Suddenly the door behind us is kicked open, and we both spin around. Federation soldiers, about twenty of them, run into the room, and Hesh’s eyes widen, as do my own. We raise our guns, the Federation soldiers having theirs already trained on us. The soldier in front stares us down.

“Suelta tus armas, ahora!” He shouts.

“Te mataremos si no obedeces!”

Hesh glances over at me in confusion. I nod towards the soldier.

“He told us to drop our weapons, and that they'll kill us if we don't obey.” I say, and Hesh raises his eyebrow, glances at the twenty soldiers, then sighs.

We both drop our weapons, and two soldiers pick them up. Two more walk over to grab us and pull us to our feet, tying our hands behind our backs.

Hesh glances over at me as we get led away by the Federation.

“How did you know what he said?” He asks, and I shrug.

“After being held by Spanish speaking men for seven months, you learn to understand it pretty darn well.” Hesh nods slightly in understandment, then frowns as the soldier holding him shoves him forward.

Leading us out of the building we were in, they drag us outside, and down a small hill, to where a convoy is waiting. I can see a man standing on top of a truck, giving orders to the men, then looking around.

My eyes widen.

“No….It can't be….Not again….” I say disheartedly, and Hesh looks up, then his eyes widen as he struggles against the hold of the soldier.

“No!!! Are you shitting me?!” He shouts, and the man turns around, then smiles at us.

The soldiers holding us shove us to our knees next to the truck, and the man leans down to stare at us.

“Well. You Walker boys are much stronger than you look.”

I pull against the hold of the soldier, and narrow my eyes.

“RORKE!!! How the hell are you still alive?!” I shout, and Rorke laughs.

“You really think you can beat me?”

Hesh glares at him.

“Well, when you SHOOT SOMEONE IN THE CHEST, then YES , I thought we could beat you, you fucker!” He shouts, and Rorke grins, jumping down from the truck in front of Hesh.

Hesh narrows his eyes as Rorke leans down to him, bringing his face close to his. Rorke smirks.

“So. How are you liking those headaches, Hesh?” He asks, and I look over at him with wide eyes. Hesh’s eyes widen in shock.

“Wha….how did you….” He stutters, and Rorke laughs, then stands up.

“You really thought it was just by coincidence that you started to feel what I did to Logan? Sure, with Logan, it was a slower, more painful process, but with you , it's faster and more excruciating. Not to mention the fact that you suddenly turned on your own team. Wait till the poison really kicks in. Then we'll see how you feel about the Ghosts.”

Hesh’s eyes are wider than I've ever seen, and he drops his head to stare straight ahead, comprehending the answer to what was happening to him.

I glare at Rorke.

“So that's it, then? Turn the Walkers against the Ghosts? Two of the best, united against them by your side?” I spit, and he chuckles, walking over to me.

“Ah, Logan. I guess what I did in those seven months was wasted by your brotherly love for Hesh. Well, I can fix that real quick.” He takes a syringe out of a pocket on his belt, and uncaps it, smiling.

My eyes widen, as I struggle against the Federation soldier.

Hesh pulls against the one holding him.

“What are you doing?! Leave Logan alone!” He shouts, but Roke ignores him, smirking. He puts his hand on my head, tilting it to the side, then pushes the needle into my neck.

I flinch at the initial pain of it, then my head starts to pound.

My heartbeat echoes in my head, and my eyes swim. I take a shaky breath, and I can hear Hesh yelling.

“What did you just do to him?! What did you do, you son of a bitch!.... Logan?! Logan!” He shouts, as my view blurs. I feel Rorke’s hand on my shoulder, and then hear a chuckle.

“Your brother is going to watch as you suffer, Logan.” He says, and Hesh yells at Rorke again.

“YOU SON OF A BITCH!!!!”

The pain in my head works like a tranquilizer, and I drop my head, losing all sense to the world.

 

I sit against the wall of the rock prison, my personal hole of Hell, hugging my knees pulled tight to my chest. The constant pain I feel in my stomach from the poison-filled food they give me is matched only by the dull ache that continuously echoes in my head.

I grip the sleeves of my shirt tightly, the fabric between my fingers giving some odd sort of comfort.

The clothes I wear are long beat up, my boots scuffed and worn. My army cargo pants are ripped in the knees, and my black tee shirt has stains of blood and dirt on it, ripped in some places, the rest covering the bruises that tattoo my chest.

I look up when I hear the scraping of the metal bars being pulled back from the top of the hole, and one of the Federation soldiers looks over the edge, sporting an evil grin. He leans back on the side of the hole, hooked to a cable, then lowers himself in. He drops to the floor, then unhooks himself and tugs the cable. It disappears as it's brought back out, and the man drops his gaze to me with a smirk.

I try to scoot back, but I’m already pressed against the rocky interior.

He grabs me, picking me up and slamming me into the wall. I flinch in pain as he slams me against the wall again. He brings his fist up to hit me in the ribs, and I hold back any sound of hurt.

The man punches me in the stomach again, and I groan in pain. He smirks, and shoves me to the ground, the uneven rock creating bleeding scratches, adding to the countless others on my body. He kicks me, and I curl into a ball, holding my stomach in pain.

Kneeling down, he flips me onto my back, and pins me to the ground. He takes out a knife, holding it up just so that the late afternoon sun shines through the bars on the top of the pit and glints off the blade.

My eyes widen as he brings the knife close to my skin, then slides it along my arm.

I grit my teeth in pain. I won't give him the satisfaction of hearing me scream.

I feel the blood drip down the side of my arm, as he digs it deeper, then I sigh as he takes the blade away. Then the blade is pushed into the other arm, and I flinch, holding back my tears.

The scars that cover my arms are left from these exact moments. When the soldier will come and put me through hell again. But only with a blade.

He sheathes his knife, and puts his finger to his ear.

“Should we test him?” He asks, and I hear a response crackle through.

“No. Give him a dosage, then leave him. Let him take it in.” It says, then the voice fades away.

The man holding me down nods, then reaches to the side of his belt to open a pocket. He takes out a syringe, and my eyes widen.

“No...NO!” I shout, struggling against him, but my weak body is no match for him.

He pushes my head to the side with one hand, then slides the needle deep into my neck with the other.

I feel the effects of the poison immediately, and my body jolts.

He stands up as a cable lowe rs into the hole. He hooks to it, and is lifted up and out of the pit as I convulse on the ground.

Pain shoots through my body, every nerve feeling the excruciating effects of the poison. My body is torn apart from the inside, and my head starts to pound, my heartbeat thundering in my skull.

I claw at my head with my hands, grabbing at my hair. My jaw is clenched so tightly my cheeks ache, and my back arches as the poison works its way through my body. Kicking at the floor, my boots slide on the ground, my legs thrashing.

I scream in agony as my mind is ripped apart, the pain too much. I let go of my head, my hands falling to the ground.

My feet no longer move, and my body relaxes.

Fingers twitching, my eyes roll back in my head, and I black out.

 

My eyes groggily open, tears of pain streaking my face. A chuckle comes from behind me, then a hand claps on my shoulder.

“Yeah, he remembers that pain, alright!”

My head gets lifted up by my hair, as my eyes finally focus and the slight urge to puke dissipates.

Rorke looks into my eyes, and grins.

“Just like old times, eh, Logan?” He says with a snicker, and I hear more yelling from beside me.

“LEAVE HIM ALONE, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!!!!”

I turn my head weakly to the side, to see Hesh, held by three Federation soldiers. He looks over at me with wide eyes.

“Logan!”

Rorke snaps his fingers, and the Federation soldier holding me lets go, my weak body falling to the ground. Hesh pulls against the soldiers. They all have to hold him back, his rage building.

“Logan!!” He turns to Rorke.

“What did you do to him?!” He shouts, anger coating his tone. Rorke looks down at me, then back up to Hesh.

“Let's just say that Logan just got sent back to that Hell hole he spent seven months in.”

Hesh’s eyes widen, and his fists clench, closing his eyes with a pained expression on his face.

Then his eyes snap open, and he looks up, rage written on his face and red in his eyes.

He slams his head back into one of the three soldiers holding him. They stumble back, letting go of him. Hesh kicks back at another, breaking their knee, making them let go, too, and they fall to the ground. Hesh spins and slams his head into the final soldier’s face, dropping him easily.

He turns to Rorke, and glares at him. Rorke crosses his arms, and Hesh runs at him. Rorke side steps, and grabs Hesh, slamming him into the side of the truck. Hesh is steaming with anger.

“Why?! You sadistic bastard! Why do you have to make him suffer through that shit again?!” His voice drips with hate, and Rorke pushes him into the side of the truck harder, leaning forward so his face is only inches away from Hesh’s.

“Because I’m giving you a preview of the pain you'll go through.”

I feel my heart shatter when I hear that, but my body is so weak from the poison, I can't react.

“D...David…” I manage to croak, and Hesh turns his head.

“Logan…” He meets my eyes, and Rorke grins.

“I'll tear you apart, David Walker. Just like your brother.” He slams Hesh’s head back into the truck, and Hesh drops to the ground, unconscious.

Rorke walks to stand above me, crouching down to smirk at me.

“Wouldn't Elias be proud to see that both of his sons have become Ghost Killers.” He says, taking the needle from his pocket again.

“Let's send you back to your Hell.” He says, as he pushes the needle into my neck again. I feel the poison run through my body again. My body shudders, and my eyes roll back as I lose consciousness.


 

22 Hours Later

HESH

I shake myself awake, and put my hand to my head, the buzzing still present. Looking up, I raise my eyebrow.

I’m in a small hole in the ground, with two metal walls, the other two dirt. One metal wall has a heavy duty metal door in it, and there is a small vent-like widow 4 feet off the floor, about 6 by 7 inches, on the other metal wall. The floor is dirt, as if this used to be a dirt hole, but was then modernized.

Upon raising my head, I find that there are bars covering a hole to outside about nine feet above me.

My heart starts to beat faster, and I go to stand up, then feel a pain in my chest. I look down, only now noticing that my thick cargo pants are ripped in some places, and my tee shirt is stained with sweat, dirt, and blood. My boots are dirtied with mud, and the dog tags that I wear around my neck are gone.

Raising my shirt, I can see a few bandages on the middle of my chest, and scars peeking out from underneath them.

I sigh, and drop my shirt down. I walk over to one of the dirt walls, and press my hands against it. The dirt is far too dense to even try to dig through, rocks filling it too often. The dirt is damp and cold, and I step back. Despite the cold of the dirt, the air is warm and humid.

I sigh again, and step back from the wall.

“What the hell…..” I mutter, then I hear a small noise.

“Hesh?” A faint voice calls, and I spin around.

“What?” I search for the voice, then I hear it again.

“Hesh, is that you?” It says again, and my eyes widen as I recognize the voice.

“Logan?” I ask, and I hear a gasp.

“Hesh!” He shouts, and I look down at the air vent, then run to it, discerning that his voice is coming from here. I bend down and look through it, and can vaguely see through to a dull light, not unlike my own cell.

“Logan?” I call out, and then I see his face in front of the grate.

“HESH!” He says in relief, and I smile.

“Logan….” He puts his hand against the grate, and I meet his hand with mine. Logan frowns.

“Listen to me. You have to be careful! They won't go easy on you. They're vicious and cruel. I would know.” He says, and I shake my head.

“Logan, what are you talking about? Who? Are you locked up, too?” I ask, then the sound of the door unlocking makes me turn around.

“Shit!” Logan says, and I look at him again.

“What?” I ask, then footsteps enter the room, and I frown.

“They're here.” He says, then I’m wrenched away from the grate, my hand pulled away from his.

Spun around, I meet the eyes of three Federation soldiers, who grin with sinister glints in their eyes.

My heart beats faster, as only two words enter my mind.

Oh, shit.

 

The one holding me shoves me to the ground, and I land hard. Another kicks me, and I groan, then narrow my eyes. I grab him and pull him down to the ground, flipping him under me, holding him down. Swinging my fist, it connects with his face. Then a shock runs through my body as a taser is pushed against my neck. I jolt, and fall to the floor.

The soldier stands up, brushing himself off.

“You're going to pay for that.” He says with hate. Kicking me again, I groan. The third soldier grabs me and pulls me up, then jabs a needle into my neck. My eyes start to blur, and I feel lightheaded.

“What...did you….” My voice trails off, and the soldier holding me smiles.

“As he gets weaker, this just gets easier.” He says with a smirk, and the other soldiers nod in agreement and equally evil smiles. He pushes me down, holding my arm behind my back.

Twisting my arm, I cry out in pain as I feel my shoulder dislocate, and Logan rattles the grate.

“HESH!!!” He yells, and the third soldier chuckles.

“Well, isn't that even better. Logan gets to hear his brother’s torture.” I struggle against his grip, but my body is weakened by whatever they gave me in that needle.

The second soldier punches me across the face, hard, bringing blood from my nose and mouth. Then the taser is pushed into my neck again, and my body shudders. A laugh follows, then the taser hits me again, and a second one pressed against my chest.

My body convulses as the shocks run through it, and they drop me to the floor. The first soldier walks to stand above me, and hits me with the taser again. Tears start to run down my cheeks as the electricity shoots through me.

Logan pulls at the grate again.

“LEAVE HIM ALONE!!! JUST STOP!!! LEAVE DAVID ALONE!!!! PLEASE!!!” He screams, and I take a shaky breath.

“L..Logan…” I groan, then the second soldier brings his foot down on my chest, and I gasp for air as my breath is taken away, then is immediately replaced with pain as I realize that at least two of my ribs are now broken.

“DAVID!!” Logan shouts. Groaning in pain, I try to sit up, spitting out some of the blood in my mouth, but the soldier holds me down, pushing the taser into my neck again.

My body convulses again, but less so, weakened to the point of no movement. He raises his eyebrow, then pushes the taser into me again. I lay motionless, and he smirks, then looks up at the other two.

“Looks like we got him. For today.” The third one pulls something from his pocket, unidentifiable by me as my vision starts to blur.

He crouches down next to me, and I can now see the object is a needle. He tilts my head to the side, and pushes it into my neck. I feel the liquid get injected into my bloodstream, then take hold of my body.

The pain that shoots through my entire being is unimaginable, and tears run down my face, my jaw clenched and my eyes squeezed tightly shut.

The pounding in my head worsens to the point of me curling into myself, despite the excruciating pain of my ribs, holding my head with my functional arm.

The soldiers all laugh, and then turn to walk out. The first one opens the door, then looks back over his shoulder as the other two walk out.

“Sweet dreams.” He says with a smirk, and I scream in agony as the poison runs its course through every extremity of my body, finding its way to every nerve.

The pain in my head feels like it should burst through, and I cry as I hold my head tightly.

“Hesh!!” Logan yells, and I feel my body starting to shut down.

“HESH!!” He yells again, and I groan, trying to answer, but no words can be formed.

Logan bangs on the wall of his cell.

DAVID!!! ” He screams as I lose myself from the world.


 

LOGAN

I pull away from the grate, and sit back on the ground, eyes wide.

They're trying to break him, too.

But that's much worse than what they did to me. At one time, they would only tase me a few times, and inject me again.

Never break my bones.

I swear, whatever it takes, I will kill Rorke.

Hesh….I’m so sorry that you have to go through this, too.

Suddenly, the door to my room clicks open, and I spin around to see two soldiers step in, and close the door behind them. They stare at me, and I meet them with a glare.

The one closest to me steps forward, and I bolt to my feet, as I ready my guard.

They both stiffen up, look at each other, then back at me. I frown, and put up my fists. The soldier's eyes widen, and I swing at the first one, who sidesteps, and I fall into the other’s arms. He holds me tightly under the arms, and I kick up at the other one, sending him stumbling back to avoid it.

The one holding me pushes a taser into my neck, and I jolt and fall to the ground, with him still holding it to my neck. I can feel it starting to burn, and the other soldier steps up.

“Hey, that's enough.” He says, and I take a deep breath as he takes the taser away from my neck. The one who told the other to stop kneels down next to me and pulls out a syringe.

My eyes widen as the other holds me down. The light red liquid inside is all too familiar to me, and I struggle against the pin of the soldier. The other smirks, and pushes the needle into my neck, slowly squeezing the syringe, and expelling the poison into my blood.

I jolt as it takes effect, the poison still being administered.

This is a much stronger dose than normal.

I cough, and feel my breath short. My body starts to convulse, and the soldier lets me go, standing up and watching as I jerk on the ground, choking on the spit that fills my mouth.

Pain extends itself to my entire body, and my head thunders with the lightning flashing in my eyes.

The two soldiers walk out of the room, the metallic bang of the lock behind them discouraging.

Closing my eyes, I curl into a ball, knowing that the poison will soon knock me out, tearing at my mind.

I try to relax, but my body just tenses.

My mind shuts down and I black out.

 

“What is your full name?” He asks, and I close my eyes, sighing.

“My name is Logan Walker.”

Rorke nods.

“Good. How old are you?” He asks, and I look to the side, uninterested.

“I’m twenty six.” I say, and he nods again. He bends down in front of me.

“Who is it that betrayed you?” He asks, and I narrow my eyes.

“The Ghosts.” I say with hate, and he smirks.

“How?” I grit my teeth.

“They wouldn't let me be my own person. Everything I did was to their whim. Never being able to really lead myself, or show them my true potential.” I say with a bite, and Rorke grins.

“That's right. So whose side are you on?” He asks, and I look up and meet his eyes.

“Yours.”

 

I pick up my gun, and Rorke walks over to me.

“Now, Logan, since you are now with us, you are going to be riding with me. I'll keep an eye on you, and protect you. Unlike the Ghosts. What good did they ever do you?” He asks, and I grip my gun tighter.

“Nothing. I hate them.” I spit, and he smirks.

“And which Ghost do you hate the most?” He asks, and I grit my teeth.

“David Walker.”

 

“Es tu estupido?!” The man yells, and I hang my head.

“I...I’m sorry...I didn't…” He shoves me to the ground.

“Chico pequeño tu es sin valor!” He shouts, and I grit my teeth, as I feel the shame of messing up something else. Rorke walks over, and looks at me, then at the man.

“What's going on here?” He asks, and the man points at me.

“The boy is a moron. He cannot even work the computer without breaking it!” He shouts, and Rorke looks down at me.

“Logan?” He says, and I turn my head away a little.

“I...I just haven't really been able to get myself used to the Spanish computer systems yet, and I also haven't really been around any equipment for the past...um…..six and a half months? Look, I’m sorry, okay?” I say, and Rorke nods, then looks up at the man.

“Leave him alone. Now go do whatever it is you useless shits do all day.”

The soldier stalks off, and Rorke offers me his hand. Pulling me to my feet, he puts his hand on my shoulder.

“Logan, you aren't stupid, and you aren't worthless. You're stronger than any Ghost. You can and will beat them.”

 

“The Ghosts are the bad ones, Logan. They ruined your life. I saved you.” Rorke says, and I nod.

“I know.” I say with no emotion, staring at him. He points at the wall behind me, and I turn to see a map of all the Ghosts, connected with strings to each other and then to me.

Two of the pictures have red x's on them, signifying their termination. I walk over, and I see a picture at the bottom, with a knife in it.

I pull the knife out, and stare at the person in the photo. Rorke walks up behind me, and puts his hand on my shoulder.

“He ruined my plan. Our plan. He has to pay.”

He says, and I turn to face him then nod.

I look back at the picture, and meet the light brown eyes of the person with hate.

David Walker.

 

Chapter Text

KEEGAN

Merrick paces back and forth, as I follow him with my eyes, Kick sitting against the wall, looking up at the ceiling. I shake my head.

“Merrick, stop pacing. It's not going to help the Walkers any more than standing around would.” I say casually, and Merrick turns his head, glaring at me.

“Shut it, Keegan. We need to figure out what to do.” He says, and I sigh.

“Well, we're doing a bang up job, sitting around like this.”

Then I hear Kick’s radio crackle a little, and Kick snaps his head down. I look up.

“Kick, what is it?” I ask, and he jumps up.

“I had it tuned into a Federation station, before we ran. I didn't know it was still on!”

Merrick stops, and looks over.

“That signal is weak. They must be nearby.” He says, and Kick walks over to us, and puts the radio on the table. Words and voices start to crackle in.

“Nos han... ordenado mover... el resto nuestras... tropas.” A Federation soldier says. I look up at Merrick, who stares at Kick, who looks back at me.

“Abajo a... América del... Sur, la base?” Another soldier asks, the static making it hard to hear, but it's still understandable.

Merrick looks up at me.

“Do you know what they're saying? You can speak Spanish.” He ask, and I shrug.

“I roughly understand...I think the first one said that their troops are moving out, and the second one said South America?” I says with uncertainty. I look back down at the radio, then I pick it up and turn up the volume, the feed becoming clearer.

“Comenzaron la tortura con los chicos.”

I raise my eyebrow.

“I think I heard torture in there somewhere.” I say.

Kick shifts his feet uncomfortably.

“That’s not good.” He says, and I turn around.

“Now, come on. They could mean-”

“Rorke tiene a David y Logan en los pozos.” Another soldier says.

“Si. Muy bueno.”

My eyes widen, and I look up at Merrick.

“He has them. He has Logan and Hesh. Down in South America.”

Kick leans on my shoulder, and glances between Merrick and I.

“So, what do we do?” He asks, and Merrick shakes his head.

“I have no idea. I mean, we DO know where they are now. They're in South America, at the Federation base. We know roughly where it's located, from when we had tracked Rorke before, but there's no way we can get in there without any firepower. And now, learning that Rorke has both Hesh and Logan, and over the radio we heard them say ‘torture’, I can only think that Rorke has both Hesh and Logan in a pit like Logan was for seven months.”

I take a deep breath and cross my arms.

“Well, that's just great.”


RORKE

I flip through the folder with the pictures of both Logan and Hesh, picking out a picture of Logan.

I stare at it, and the face paint that closely resembles Hesh’s.

Flipping through again I pick out a picture from when he was a kid. Him and Hesh. It's taken at their house in San Diego, before ODIN hit. Logan looks like he's about 15, and Hesh looks like he's 17.

Logan and Hesh look so happy and full of life, young. Now, eleven years later, they have been turned into soldiers by their father and the Ghosts. Two of the best damn soldiers I've ever seen.

But I'll break them.

I broke Logan before, even if it was eventually pointless, and he turned back against me to save his brother.

But now, with Hesh as my captive, too, I can break them all the sooner, using the suffering of the other to weaken their minds.

Logan may be hard to break again.

But Hesh has been unstable since Logan went missing seven and a half months ago.

His mind is already faltering.

He’ll be easy to break.

However, he has proven to be very resilient in the past, even after he seemed to be beaten.

He almost seems like me, a bit.

He just won't die.

I chuckle a little, then I hear a beep on my comlink. I put my finger to my ear.

“Rorke.”

“Uh, sir, one of the boys is awake, and he's already knocked out the guard we sent in…” The voice crackles through, and I sigh.

“Damn. Well, I'll be down in a minute. Just...don't let anyone else in there.” I say, and the line fizzles out. I groan.

Logan.

He's the boy who always wants to fight back.

He always has been.

I walk down the hallway, down to the cell blocks. I turn to Logan’s cell, and see no guard. Good. They listened to what I said. I unlock the door, and swing it open.

My eyebrow raises when I see no soldier knocked out, and Logan sitting against the wall.

He looks up, and raises his eyebrow.

“What the hell do you want?” He asks bitterly, and I stare at him, then at the grate in the wall, leading to Hesh’s room. He stares at me with confusion, eyebrow raised.

I spin around and close the door behind me, the heavy metal bolt clanking shut. Walking down the hall, I turn to the door to Hesh’s room.

A soldier stands at the door, gun ready, and he looks up when I walk over.

“Sir.” He says, and I cross my arms.

“It was Hesh that knocked the guard out?” I ask, and the soldier nods.

“He took the guard’s taser and shocked him until he fell unconscious. I think he then used the serum on the guard. I don't know for sure, I just know that he took him out.” He says, and I groan.

“Get out of the way. Go outside to guard duty, or whatever it is you usually do.” I say, and he nods, then walks off down the hall. I take a deep breath and unlock the door with my keycard, opening it cautiously. I slowly take the taser from my belt, holding it to be inconspicuous.

Stepping into the room, I sigh, seeing the unconscious guard on the floor. I close the door behind me.

Immediately I turn to behind the door with my taser ready, and shock Hesh as he tries to jump me. He jolts, and glares at me. He drops to the ground, and I sigh.

“David, I honestly-” He reaches out suddenly, and pushes the taser from the guard into my leg. My eyes widen in surprise, and I fall to the floor. Hesh jumps on top of me, and holds me down.

“YOU EVEN TOUCH LOGAN, I WILL KILL EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU FEDERATION SCUM.” He says viciously, and I smirk, then free one of my hands, and hit his chest hard. He flinches in pain, and falls back.

I sit up, and look over at him.

“David, that will prove a little difficult considering you have a dislocated shoulder and three fractured ribs. Now, Logan is not the one you should be worried about.” I say as I stand up, and Hesh narrows his eyes. He goes to stand up, still holding the taser, but I kick him in the head, felling him.

He groans, blood dripping from his nose, and he raises his gaze up to me as I walk over above him. I cross my arms, kicking the taser out of his reach.

I crouch down next to him, and sigh.

“David, we can do this the easy way, or the hard way. You keep fighting back, we keep torturing you. Plain and simple. The same for Logan. That's what happened the first time. He was hard to break. I assume he still will be. But you, your mental state has you erratic and on edge. Even still, you are one of the strongest men I have ever seen. Turning you will be beyond excruciating for you, and Logan will always hear the sounds of his brother screaming.” I say with a grin, and Hesh’s eyes widen.

I push the taser into his neck, full voltage, and his body convulses on the floor as he screams in pain from the shock that runs its way through his entire body. I chuckle, still holding it to him. I hear the grate on the wall rattle, then a shout.

“HESH!!!!” Logan shouts, and I turn away for a moment to glance back at the grate. I smirk.

“Hello, Logan,” I say with a smooth tone, as I see the outline of Logan’s face looking through the grate.

“RORKE! LET HIM GO! LEAVE HIM ALONE!” He yells, and I laugh, shocking Hesh again, as he still seizes on the ground.

“Not a chance. I'll break your brother, Logan. I'll break him, then you. But you will listen as I do so, to all the pain and hell I will put him through.” I say, and Logan rattles the grate again.

“NO!”

I turn back to Hesh, and take the taser away from his neck. His body still shudders, and he breathes heavily, tears on the edge of his eye, holding them back. I smirk, and lean down.

“David Walker, you and your brother are mine. As I break down your body, I'll sculpt your mind to my purposes. The Ghosts are dead, David. You're going to kill them. After I’m done with you.” I pull the syringe out, and push it into his neck, injecting the poison.

His eyes widen, and he grits his teeth, arching his back as the poison starts to take hold. He grabs his head in his hands, holding it tightly, crying out in pain. As he writhes in pain on the ground, Logan bangs on the wall.

“HESH!!! HESH!!!!” He yells frantically. I stand up and walk over to the door, grabbing the guard as I open the door, and drag him out. I turn back, and look through the door again. Hesh still lays on the ground, rolling to the side and groaning in a fit. Tears stream down his face, and he groans.

“Logan….!” He cries weakly, and I smirk. He and Logan are the best of the best of soldiers. And now I have them both in such a situation that they seem so weak. Logan will be torn apart by Hesh’s pain as the poison tears him apart.

Ah, what a weakness love is. The Walker boys will soon know the heartbreak of a lifetime.


2 ½ Weeks Later

RORKE

After two weeks of constantly torturing Hesh, he's finally started to break. I asked him earlier today what the name of his captain was, and he couldn't give it.

He couldn't remember that Merrick was his commander.

I asked him if he had any family, and he couldn't remember that Logan was his brother, or that I had killed Elias, his father.

He couldn't tell me anything. He only remembers his age and name.

I've broken through.

One more dosage, and he’ll be mine.

Logan, on the other hand, has been most uncooperative. He still hasn't come even close to breaking, and it seems that watching me torture his brother has only made him more resilient.

Logan has the strongest mind I have ever known. But soon the turn of his brother will get to him, then he’ll be mine again.

Walking into Hesh’s room, I see him leaning against the far wall, head hung down, arms resting on his propped up knees. I smirk, and close the door behind me, the metallic clang of it making him jump and look up at me. I cross my arms, and smile.

“Afternoon, Walker. How ya feeling today?” I ask.

Hesh blinks his eyes a little, then shakes his head.

“I...I don't…”

I crouch down in front of him, and stare him in the eye, the once light brown now seeming washed away.

“What is your name?” I ask, and Hesh tilts his head a little, then straightens back up.

“David Walker.”

I nod.

“How old are you?”

“Twenty eight.”

I smile.

“Good. Do you have any family?” I ask, looking at the sealed off grate, cutting the two brothers apart. Hesh hesitates, struggling.

“I….no?.....brother….no….No.” He says certainly, and I smirk.

“Who is your commanding officer?” I ask, and he looks up at me, straining.

“....Um…..uh….I guess….Rorke.” He says finally.

I nod, then stand up.

“Good....good. Now, one last question.”

Hesh looks up at me curiously.

I grin, and pull the needle from my belt, uncapping it.

“Are you ready to destroy the Ghosts?” I push the needle into his neck, and he shudders, then his head drops as he falls to the ground. His body jolts a little, twitching, then he lays still.

I've increased the dosage of the poison as time went on, and I was able to completely wipe his mind after only two and a half weeks. Before I knew that it would work that way, I had kept Logan in the Pit for seven months.

Now, his brother has had his mind destroyed in eighteen days.

But I won't touch Logan’s mind.

I need his mind intact, for when Hesh kills him, and Logan sees what I've turned his brother into.

He’ll watch as his brother destroys everything that Logan stands for, and kills the people he loves.

Then, finally, he’ll bear the unthinkable pain of his brother killing him.

Hesh will be my Ghost-Killer.

And the time of the Ghosts has just run out.

Chapter Text

KEEGAN

I cross my arms and look out the window. Whatever Rorke did, and wherever he took the boys, it can't end well. I sigh.

“I hate waiting around like this,” I mutter. Merrick walks up behind me.

“Keegan, what do you expect to do about it? The Walkers are all the way down in South America. We have no firepower to even scratch Rorke’s forces, and even if we did, there's only three of us.”

I turn around and shake my head.

“Merrick, they're Ghosts. We're Ghosts. We don't give up. Especially when another Ghost’s life is on the line.” I say determinedly, and Merrick sighs. Kick walks in and stands next to me.

“Keegan is right. We have to save Hesh and Logan.”

Merrick takes a deep breath.

“Okay. What do you think we should-”

A canister rolls into the room on the floor, and my eyes widen.

“MOVE!” I yell, but the canister suddenly expels a green gas, and we start coughing.

The gas works its way into my lungs, burning inside. I cough harder and choke a bit, tears in my eyes from the sting. Kick falls to the ground, then Merrick.

I stumble a little and grab the edge of the table as my eyes swim.

Then the gas finally takes its toll, and I fall to the floor.


19 Hours Later

“Sergeant Keegan P. Russ. One of the three Ghosts left. The once unbeatable, youngest, amazing Marine there ever was. Now, look at him. So weak.”

My eyes slowly open, and I raise my head. My hands are tied behind me, and I look up to see Rorke staring at me.

He bends down and smiles.

“How's it going, Keegan?” He says with a smirk, and I narrow my eyes.

“Fuck off, asshole,” I growl, and Rorke smirks.

He looks to my left, and I turn to see Merrick and Kick tied next to me, with gags in their mouths.

Kick looks at me wide-eyed, and I turn back to Rorke.

“What the hell do you want, Rorke? You already took Hesh and Logan.” I say with a bite, and Rorke nods.

“Yes. I did. Now you're here with them. Welcome to South America.” He says, and I look around, noticing just now the jungle trees that surround us, and the many Federation soldiers that stand with their guns trained on me.

I raise my eyebrow.

“Okay...so we're here in your base. Where are the Walkers?” I ask roughly, and Rorke crosses his arms and smiles.

“Oh, you'll see them soon, don't worry.” He says, then he turns to one of the soldiers.

“Keep an eye on them. I'll be back.” He says, and he walks off towards one of the buildings.

The soldier trains his gun on me, and I turn towards Kick and Merrick.

“Are you guys okay?” I ask, and they both nod. I meet Kick’s eyes, and his fear is shown clearly.

Swinging my gaze to Merrick, I startle when I see his glare at me, and the obvious “I told you so” in his eyes.

I shrug my shoulders.

“Well, how the hell was I supposed to know that they already knew where we were?” I ask defensively, and Merrick rolls his eyes.

Then he looks behind me, and I turn to see Rorke walking back, dragging Logan behind him, resisting strongly.

My eyes widen.

“Logan!” I shout, and he looks up at me.

“Keegan! Merrick! Kick!” He says in surprise, then he looks up at Rorke with narrowed eyes.

“What are you going to do to them?!” He demands.

Rorke smiles evilly, glaring at us, then shoves Logan to the ground next to me.

“Oh, I’m not going to do anything.”

I raise my eyebrow, then I hear a shout from beside me, and I turn to see Kick is thrown in front of us, his gag taken off. I look up, and my eyes widen to see Hesh standing over him.

Logan stares at him with shock and struggles against the ropes on his hands.

“Hesh! David!” He shouts, but Hesh ignores him. He shoves Kick and pins him to the ground with his foot.

Merrick pulls against the gag and ropes, and Rorke grins.

“David, on the other hand….” He smirks, and Hesh looks up to meet Rorke’s eyes. Rorke nods, and Hesh pulls his gun, holding it to Kick.

I go to jump up, but a Federation soldier behind me holds me back.

“HESH!! NO!” I shout, but no response is seen, and his eyes are void of emotion.

Kick stares up at Hesh with wide eyes.

“Hesh...David...Please…..” He says pleadingly, as Hesh flicks off the safety.

Rorke crosses his arms.

“Do it.” He says, and my eyes widen.

Hesh pulls the trigger, and Merrick screams against the gag as blood shoots from Kick's head, and his hand drops to the ground.

My heart stops as I stare at my best friend, my older brother, lying lifeless on the ground, killed by my fellow Ghost’s hand.

My eyes are wider than I ever thought they could be.

“Kick….” I say softly, and Logan beside me stares on with the same expression.

“What...Hesh...why did you…..” He stutters, and Hesh looks up at him, a few small drops of blood splattered onto his face. He holsters his gun and walks over to Rorke, who puts his hand on Hesh’s shoulder.

“Hesh is my Ghost now.” He says, and my eyes widen.

“What the hell did you do to him?!” I yell, and Hesh frowns, looking at me.

“Like you should care, Keegan. You never cared before.” He says harshly, and I raise my eyebrow, genuinely surprised.

“What do you mean? I always cared about you! You, and your brother! ALWAYS!” I shout, and Hesh scoffs, then crosses his arms.

“I’m tired of following every order you assholes give me. I'd like to do some of my own thinking for once.” He says with a bite, and Merrick and I look at each other, then to Logan, who shrugs.

“I have no idea. Rorke separated us. Cut us off from one another. I had no idea what he was doing to him.” He says.

I shake my head, then glare up at Rorke.

“I don't know how you did it, but you turned one of the sharpest men I know against us all. What you have planned for us worries me, but what worries me more is what you're going to have Hesh do.” I say, and Rorke walks over to me and crouches down.

“Sergeant, I wouldn't hold your breath. You and Merrick are gonna watch as Hesh tears his brother apart. And whaddya know. You have front row seats.”


LOGAN

My eyes widen, and I look up at Hesh, who glances to the side at me with hate in his eyes.

What the hell did Rorke do to him?! It's only been two and a half weeks!

When he had me for seven months he couldn't even turn me that much.

Maybe….Maybe since I got back, Hesh’s mind was so damaged after all that happened that Rorke was able to break him easier?

I look down at the ground and sigh. Glancing to the side, I catch Kick’s body in my view, and my stomach knots up.

Hesh just shot him, without a single second thought.

Rorke stands up and looks over at me with a grin.

“Sorry, Logan. You were my first choice for a Ghost Killer. Strong, reliable, and determined. But turns out your brother was just so torn apart inside from all that happened, even before you came back, that his mind was weak enough to break in just eighteen days. So now the last two Ghosts are going to watch as Logan Walker is ripped apart by his own brother.”

I move my gaze up to Hesh, who turns towards me.

Keegan struggles against the hold of the Federation soldiers, staring at Hesh.

“Walker, he's your brother! It's Logan! Don't do this!” He shouts as Rorke grins.

“Keegan, he's too far gone. I twisted his mind to hate his brother.”

I feel my heart sink at that. He hates me now?

Hesh walks over to me and kicks me down into the dirt. I land on my side and groan as he crouches above me.

Rorke leans on the side of a truck, smiling.

“You can cut the restraints, Walker. Let him fight.” He says, and Hesh nods. He cuts the ropes around my hands but still pins me down.

He takes the knife and smirks.

Raising it up, he brings it down fast, and I manage to get my hands free to stop it, pushing against him with all my might as he forces the knife down.

“Hesh, stop! It's ME! YOUR BROTHER!!!” I shout, and Hesh frowns.

“I know who you are, Logan! I've always had to watch out for you, and take care of you, and take my time to make sure you don't get into any trouble. I’m sick of it!!!” He says harshly, and my eyes widen.

He pushes the knife down, and it cuts into my shoulder.

I cry out in pain as it digs deeper, still trying to push it away.

Hesh grins as I feel the blood start to drip down my shoulder as the blade sinks deeper.

“DAMMIT, HESH, STOP!!” Keegan yells, and Hesh smirks.

Pulling the knife away, he glares at me, with rage filling his eyes.

I stare at him, deep into his light brown eyes, washed out now, and I feel tears welling in my own.

“You hate me that much?” I ask softly, and Hesh grits his teeth.

I close my eyes and take my hands away from protecting myself.

“Do it, then. Kill me.” I say, and Merrick and Keegan struggle against their ropes.

“Logan, what are you doing?!” Keegan shouts, and Rorke chuckles.

Hesh frowns and raises the blade again.

I take a deep breath, then I feel the cold blade of the knife pierce my chest.


 

I choke, and my eyes shoot open.

Keegan and Merrick fall silent, and Hesh stares down at me.

Tears run down my cheeks, and I stare deep into his eyes.

Suddenly, the color washes back, and his expression of rage changes to fear.

“L..Logan…” He whispers, his voice suddenly full of regret.

“I…wh..what?….” He stutters, and he sits back, still staring at me.

Rorke frowns and narrows his eyes.

“David, kill him.” He orders, but Hesh just stares at me with wide eyes.

He suddenly sits back up and rips the knife from my chest, then immediately tries to stop the bleeding.

I stare up at him, my breath a little shaky.

“....Hesh?” I ask quietly. He shakes his head.

“I...I’m so sorry…..” He says, and Rorke grits his teeth.

“Walker, what are you doing?!” He shouts, and he looks at the Federation guard holding Keegan.

“Get him!” He shouts, pointing at Hesh.

Hesh looks down at me, taking my hand and holding it against my wound.

“Try to slow the bleeding.” He says, then he turns and glares at the guard.

The guard raises his gun, but Hesh grabs a knife from his belt and throws it at him. The knife sticks in his neck, and the soldier falls to the ground in a spurt of blood.

Rorke pulls his gun from his belt and aims it at Hesh, but Keegan runs and tackles him to the ground, knocking the gun from his hand.

Merrick gets up and picks up the gun, hands still tied in front of him, aiming it at Rorke.

Keegan looks up at us.

“Hesh! Get Logan out of here!” He shouts, and Hesh nods.

He turns to me and kneels down next to me.

“Come on, Logan!” He says as he helps me up.

I hold my hand to my chest tightly, blood dripping through my fingers.

Groaning, my vision grows blurry.

Hesh helps me over to a Jeep parked next to one of the buildings and sets me down in the passenger seat.

Jumping over the Jeep and into the driver’s seat, he puts it into drive, then guns the engine. He speeds over towards Merrick and Keegan, and skids next to them, hitting one of the Federation soldiers, sending him flying in a splash of blood.

Hesh looks down at Keegan and Merrick, holding Rorke down, who glares up at us.

“Get in!” Hesh shouts, and Merrick nods, getting up and kicking Rorke in the head, knocking him unconscious. 

Hesh cuts the ropes on Keegan's hands as he stands up. Keegan stands up and walks over to Kick, picking him up over his shoulder, then carries him to the Jeep. He gets in the far back, as Merrick sits in the back seat.

Hesh turns and cuts Merrick's hands, the rope falling away. Hesh pulls down Merrick’s gag, and Merrick nods then meets his eyes.

“Thank you, Hesh.” He says, and Hesh nods then turns back around.

“Save the thanks for later. We need to get out of here first.” He says strictly, putting the Jeep into drive again.

Speeding out of the compound, Federation soldiers dive out of the way.

As the exit to the compound draws near, alarms suddenly start to sound throughout the compound, and I look up with wide eyes.

“We need to get out of here….” I struggle, and Hesh nods, a determined look on his face.

“Yeah, I know. We're headed for the jungle. We can lose them on the road, then after we get far enough, we can ditch the Jeep and figure out what to do.” He says, and Merrick leans forward on the shoulder of Hesh’s seat.

“Just go straight for now. Then get off the road, and lose the soldiers. We need to stay out of their way so that we don't have to go through this shit again.” He says, then he turns around to Keegan, sitting in the back.

I turn painfully, still holding my hand against the bleeding knife wound on my chest. I groan in pain, and Hesh glances to the side at me, then reaches back and hits Merrick. He turns around and looks at me.

“Get Logan some bandages for his chest. Shouldn't need too much, I didn't really stab him that bad, it's just bleeding a lot. Now help him out.” He says, looking back at the road.

Merrick nods, and grabs the first aid kit from under the seat, opening it to find me the gauze. He sits forwards to help me, but I shake my head.

“I can do it myself,” I say, and he hands me the gauze. I lift my shirt, and press the gauze on the bleeding gash, flinching and cursing quietly as I do so.

Wrapping it with the bandage, I turn around and look at Merrick, then past him at Keegan.

He sits in the back silently, looking at Kick’s body leaned against the side.

I swear I could see a tear fall from the eye of the unfeeling Ghost.

He really does care about everyone. He would do anything to keep us all safe.

But he just puts up a mask, both figuratively and literally, to hide that and show his tough persona.

“Keegan,” I say, and he looks up at me, eyes red.

He rubs his face with his hands, then takes a deep breath.

“Yeah?” He asks, and I glance from him to Kick, then back.

“I’m sorry,” I say, and Keegan nods then moves his gaze slightly to Hesh.

I turn my head to look at my brother, who stares straight ahead. I shake my head.

“It's not his fault,” I say, and Hesh tenses up, gritting his teeth.

Keegan frowns.

“It was Hesh who shot him! He just did it without a single thought! I don't care if it was because Rorke had broken him or not! He still shot Kick! And did you forget he stabbed you?!” He yells angrily, and I glare at him.

“Keegan, it was Not. Hesh’s. Fault. He wouldn't just shoot Kick on his own free will! And you know what? What he said about me was right! He always has had to watch out for me! I would honestly be sick of doing that too, not being able to just be on your own! But Rorke is the one who-”

“Rorke did this, Rorke did that! It doesn't matter, Logan!! Kick is DEAD. Your brother put a bullet in his brain. You expect me to just forgive that?!” He shouts furiously, and Merrick sits up.

“Okay, you two, you just need to let it go. Hesh was hurt because of what happened, and he's the one who got us out of there if you haven't noticed!” Merrick says sternly, and Keegan narrows his eyes.

“Merrick, I don't even want to hear it right now. If Rorke was able to break Hesh in just eighteen days, imagine what he must have done to him. He could just snap back at any second! I don't trust-”

Suddenly the Jeep screeches to a stop, and we all turn to look at Hesh. He grips the steering wheel tightly, eyes narrowed.

He grits his teeth, then whips around.

“Look, I’m sitting right here, listening to all of you bitch about what happened! I wish I could take back everything I did, Keegan! Kick was my friend, too, okay?! And Logan is my brother! I would never hurt him! But I did. Now I feel like everything that has happened in the past month has been my fault, okay?! EVERYTHING! Even before Logan was taken! I couldn't save dad, and I couldn't kill Rorke, and I couldn't even stop him from taking my brother! So how the hell do you think I feel, Keegan?! If I could redo everything, I would! The things I said?! I hate myself now!!! I HURT EVERYONE I LOVE!! I can't live with that! So instead of just hating me and adding to my already darkened sense of myself, why don't you shut your fucking mouth for once and LET IT GO!!!” Hesh yells, and we all stop and stare at him in wide-eyed silence.

Hesh sits back, and closes his eyes.

“I’m sorry. I really am. I just….After what Rorke did…..I couldn't ….” He clenches his fists, then looks straight ahead.

My eyes widen, and I put my hand on his shoulder.

“David….” I start to say, but Hesh shrugs my hand off.

“No, Logan. Just... don't .” He says harshly, and I draw back, glancing back at Merrick. He looks back at me, and shakes his head.

Both Merrick and I look back at Keegan, who stares to the front at Hesh with wide eyes, a look of shock on his face.

Hesh starts the Jeep again, and keeps driving out to the jungle. I sit back in my seat and turn my gaze to stare at my brother.

My sympathy for him has increased significantly, and now knowing how he feels makes me feel even worse.

Goddammit, everything that our family has been through is Hell.


4 Hours Later

 

HESH

I lean against a tree, sitting on the ground off to the side, away from the campfire we made before it got dark.

I scratch at a cut on my hand, a small bit of blood running from it.

I look up towards the campsite. Logan and Merrick sit talking, and Keegan cleans one of the guns we took from the Jeep.

I take a deep breath and close my eyes.

Earlier, when we finally stopped after three hours of driving, we had gotten out to make a campsite for the night. Keegan went and buried Kick, and I had stayed as far away as possible.

I've been keeping my distance.

I just…..everything that happened five hours ago was my fault.

Even before then.

I glance to the side, reminiscing about what happened.

When Rorke kept me in that cell for those two weeks, that seemed like months.

I slide the sleeve of my jacket up, and stare at the faint red barcode burned into my arm.

010207.

That was the number that is now tattooed into my skin.

Rorke had branded me with it two days after we were initially put into the cells. I wonder if Logan has one, too.

I shudder as I think of what happened in those eighteen days.

Some of it I remember, but other bits…..I lost myself, and I hurt my friends, and my family.

Kick….and...Logan….

I put my head in my hands as my chest tightens, and my shoulders shake as tears start to run down my face.

I killed Kick.

I just shot him.

Then I stabbed my little brother.

I would have killed him.

I almost did…

I only realized in time what I had done, when I saw the deep blue of his eyes. Then I was jolted back to reality.

But I still hurt them!

I turned on the Ghosts!

Rorke turned me into….someone else. I can feel it still pulling at me.

There's a darker, anger filled person in me now. I don't know how much longer I can fight it off.

Keegan was right.

I don't know if they can trust me now. I could snap at any second.

 

And then you'll be mine.

 

I squeeze my eyes shut, and push away the darkness.

My shoulders shake more violently as the tears stream down my face.

Then a hand on my shoulder makes me raise my head.

Eyes red, I look up into the blue eyes of my brother, who crouches in front of me.

“Hesh.” He says with a comforting tone, and I look away.

“Logan, I...” Logan sits down next to me, and sighs.

“Hesh, how many times do I have to say it? I don't blame you. I could never blame you. You're my big brother. I would do anything for you.” He says, and I turn back to look at him.

“I killed him, Logan.” I say softly, and Logan sighs.

“Hesh, don't do this…”

I shake my head and sigh.

“I just pulled the trigger, without hesitation. I watched the light leave his eyes.” I stare at the ground, dragging my finger in the dirt.

Logan scoots closer to me and elbows me a little.

“Hey. It's not your fault. Rorke’s the one who tortured you-”

“I SHOULDN'T HAVE BROKEN!!!” I yell, and Logan leans back, as both Merrick and Keegan look up.

I close my eyes as another tear drops onto my pants.

“I shouldn't have been that easy to break! But I've been so weak since you left. Since Rorke took you! I just….for days I wouldn't even talk, Logan. I stayed in the command center just searching the cameras and intel for you, or any trace on Rorke. Then, when I finally did speak, it was only about either how I had failed you and dad, or how I was going to find you. I had been searching for you, even without the Ghosts’ help. I never stopped. I wouldn't . But….I started to lose hope… My mind… it just wasn't the same. Then when I saw you with Rorke, it broke me even more. I couldn't take it. Sure, I put up the screen of looking like I had a handle on things, but in truth, beneath that wall, I was losing it.”

I look up at my brother, staring back at me with wide eyes.

I sigh.

“Logan, it's my fault that you and Kick were hurt. Not Rorke’s. If I had been strong enough to resist it, then he wouldn't have broken me. But instead, he managed to twist my mind into what he wanted. He took everything I love, and-”

The pain that I had felt, the buzzing and thunder that had filled my head long ago returns, and I groan, holding my head in my hands.

Logan sits up and puts his hand on my shoulder.

“Hesh?”

I grit my teeth, squeezing my eyes shut, gripping my head tighter.

 

David…..Come back to me….

 

My eyes widen, and I shake my head violently.

“NO!”

I gasp in pain, and fall back against the tree.

Logan grabs my shoulder to steady me, moving to crouch in front of me.

“Hesh! Hesh, it's okay!” He shouts, as the buzzing only continues.

Now pain starts to work its way through my body, and I feel an intense burning in my neck.

I cry out in pain, kicking at the ground.

 

You can't fight me.

 

I clench my fists, and shake my head again.

“No! I...can't...NO!” I yell, my mind faltering.

“HESH! IT'S OKAY!!” Logan yells.

“Logan, what's happening to him?” Merrick suddenly says from beside me.

I can't see anything, even when I open my eyes. Everything is white with pain.

“I don't know! He was telling me about how Rorke had turned him, then he just grabbed his head, like an intense headache. It happened before, when Rorke was initially poisoning him. But never this bad.” Logan says with worry, and I feel another hand on my shoulder.

Merrick.

The pain starts to lessen in my head, as tears run down my cheeks.

The burning in my neck starts to cease, my vision returning.

I blink my eyes, breathing heavily, and Logan holds me steady.

I look up at him and Merrick, to meet both of their faces wide-eyed.

“What was that?” Merrick asks, and I shake my head, the dull ache still present as I do so.

My voice is barely a whisper as I answer.

“I don't know….I just felt-”

“I told you.”

We all look up to see Keegan standing with his arms crossed, staring at me harshly, then looking between Merrick and Logan.

He points at me slightly.

“I told you. He could flip at any moment. This is just proof that he's still feeling the rage he felt when he killed Kick. He could kill any of us at any minute.” Keegan says with a bite, and I go to agree, but Logan jumps in.

“Keegan, fuck off. Hesh saved all of us. He's not going to snap, like you say. This wasn't anger, it was more of a flashback. I had them after I came out of the pit! He's just still-”

“Logan.” I stop him, and he turns to me.

“What?” He asks, and I sigh.

“Keegan’s right.” I say, and Merrick, Keegan and Logan all look at me with wondering eyes.

I shake my head.

“I know I can still flip. I can feel that anger still in me, Logan. I don't want to hurt any of you. I...I can't hurt any of you. Not again.” I say, looking up at Logan. He stares back at me, the blue of his eyes meeting the brown of my own.

“Hesh…” Logan says softly, reaching out his hand, but I push it away as I stand up.

“No, Logan. I won't let my little brother or my friends get hurt because of me.”

I slowly pull my gun from my holster, and Logan’s eyes widen.

“Hesh, what are you doing?” He asks cautiously.

 

David, don't you dare.

 

I shake my head.

“I can't take that risk that you'll be hurt, Logan.” I say determinedly as I flick off the safety.

Merrick stands up.

“Hesh, just put the gun down.” He says sternly, but I take a step back.

“I can't...I'm sorry,” I say painfully.

 

I swear to god, David!

 

I cringe, then sigh.

“I’m not going to be your puppet anymore.” I say emptily.

I raise the gun, and Logan’s eyes widen.

“HESH, NO!”

I swing it up to my head and pull the trigger, the bullet splitting my skull, dropping me to the ground.

 

 


 

 

“HESH, IT'S OKAY!”

I snap back to reality, and I shake my head.

What...what just happened?

I claw at the pain still in my head, and Logan holds me steady.

“Logan, what's happening to him?” Merrick asks, suddenly beside me.

I slightly open my eyes, seeing spots and my sight still blurry. I can vaguely see Logan and Merrick in front of me.

“I don't know...He just suddenly collapsed, clutching his head. Just like what happened before when the poison was just starting on him. But now it seems much, much worse.” Logan says, and I struggle to sit up.

 

There's no way out of this, David. Play all the mind games you want. But you can't escape.

 

I fall back again, holding on to my brother’s shoulder.

“Logan...it's…” I groan, putting my hand to my head, the thunder echoing inside my skull.

 

David….You know it's going to happen sooner or later...

 

I gasp in pain. It feels like something is trying to claw its way out of my head.

I know what it is.

It's the anger that Rorke created in me, and I fear it will make me hurt my friends.

Hurt my brother.

 

That's right. Logan will die.

 

My eyes widen, and I shake my head vigorously.

“NO! NOT HIM!! I WON'T LET THAT HAPPEN!!” I scream distressfully.

Merrick looks over at Logan with worried eyes as Keegan wanders over, seeming concerned. Logan stares down at me morosely.

“Hesh, what's going on?!” He pries, and I look up into his deep blue eyes.

 

No. He's going to die. You can't stop it. You're going to kill him.

 

My heart beats faster, and my chest tightens when I think of his demise.

“Logan...you have to go….” I struggle, as I look up at him with pained eyes.

He looks at me curiously.

“What? Why?” He asks, and I slowly look up at Keegan.

“Because Keegan was right,” I say softly, and Keegan looks taken aback a little, then he steps forward.

“About what?” He asks, and I sit up, taking my hand away from my head, the pain dissipating, the darkness fading away.

“About how I can snap back. I can feel the anger still in me. I don't want to hurt any of you. I know that at any second, the rage and hate inside me could just pop out, and then you would all be at risk.” I say, and Keegan looks at Merrick, who looks at Logan, who meets his eyes.

Eventually, all of their eyes slowly train on me, and I sigh.

“I’m sorry. I just...I don't want you to get hurt.” I say, hanging my head.

Logan puts his hands on both of my shoulders, and as I raise my head, he looks me straight in the eye.

“David, I am not leaving you. I will not give up on you, and I know that you can fight this. You're strong, David. Stronger than you think you are. You're the one who taught me everything I know. Just like dad. I look up to you. You're my big brother, and you're everything to me. I would never leave you, and there's nothing you could do to make me.” He says sincerely, and my eyes widen, then I grin with a sigh.

Logan smiles, and hugs me.

I close my eyes and hold him tightly.

“Thank you, Logan,” I say softly. “Thank you.”

Chapter Text

RORKE

I slam my fist against the wall, leaving a good-sized dent.

Santiago steps back, staring at me.

Gritting my teeth, I stare at the wall with Hesh’s picture on it.

It's just like what happened with Logan.

The bond between these two is far too strong for me to turn them against each other.

It's just not going to work.

I'll have to kill them separate from the other, or have another Ghost kill them.

But Merrick and Keegan?

They can't break.

I know that.

They won't.

Merrick is the strongest man I have ever known, aside from Hesh.

And Keegan….well, Keegan is a completely different story.

I don't what it is about him, but he just seems almost impenetrable.

He was always an amazingly strong and defiant boy, but there's just something about him.

He just can't be reached, or even scratched the surface of.

But...maybe I can use that to my advantage.

If he can't be broken, then he can at least be put through pain.

If I find him and take him, I can use him to draw out the boys and give it up.

They care too much about him.

He's just like them.

A young man in a war.

The same age as Hesh.

But with so much more experience.

And an impenetrable aura.

Now if only I knew where they were.

I spin around to face Santiago, and he steps back in fear.

“Do you have anything on them? Anything at all ?” I demand, and Santiago looks to the side.

“Well, no, but...we're working on getting intel…” He says slowly, and I groan, slamming my fist on the table again.

“We need to find them. I want Hesh.” I say harshly.

Santiago nods nervously, and walks out of the room.

I drop my head with a sigh, and groan.

I need to find the Ghosts.

This has gone on far too long.


LOGAN

Leaning against the log next to the fire pit, the fire extinguished at dawn, I smile as I see Hesh and Keegan talking and laughing.

Keegan sort of gave up on being mad at Hesh, and now they're just...talking.

Merrick walks over and sits down next to me, glancing to the side.

“You okay?” He asks, and I nod.

“Yeah.” I turn to face him.

“Is what Rorke said true? Are we really the last Ghosts?” I ask, and Merrick sighs, rubbing the back of his head.

“Not exactly. There are a few Ghosts who are awol, and we don't know if they are still alive. Not even Rorke knows.”

Raising my eyebrow, I look at Merrick intently.

“Who?” I ask, and Merrick shrugs.

“Well, there's Spike, who was in a group with Keegan originally.”

I glance over at Keegan. 

“What do you mean? I thought Keegan had always been with you.” I say, and Merrick shakes his head.

“No. He joined Stalkers after two years, after we were split up after being in the Marines together. Right after the first big battle he was in, and the Ghosts were first born, he was assigned away from Stalker. The first two years he was in a group called the Hawks.”

My curiosity increases.

“Really? Who were the other Ghosts in his squad?” I ask, and Merrick sits back a little, glancing over at Keegan.

“Like I said, there was Spike and Keegan, then there was Thrash, Gavin, Bolt, and Heath. They were all very skilled. Thrash was their leader.” He says, and I find myself staring back at Keegan.

“So what happened?” I ask, without taking my eyes from him.

Merrick sighs.

“The Hawks were on a mission far in the Andes. Trying to find the Federation forces that were up there. Remember the base we got the intel from?” He asks, and I nod.

Merrick nods.

“That's what they were looking for, and for a way to get in. It was much more heavily fortified then, when it was used as more of a base. Thrash led his men down through a mountain range, and they managed to get into the base. But somehow, the Federation knew they were coming. It was a trap set for the Ghosts, and they walked right into it. Keegan, Spike, and Gavin were the only ones who made it out.”

My eyes widen, and Merrick sighs.

“After that, Keegan joined Stalker, and Spike and Gavin just dropped off the map. Keegan tried to find them, but they didn't want to be found. Now, I don't know if they're even still alive, but Keegan still looks for them.” He says, and I raise my eyebrow.

“Wait, really?” I ask, surprised. Merrick nods, and leans his arms on his legs.

“Yeah. Even nine years later. I know he tries to come off as harsh and cold, but Keegan is a really good man. He cares about a lot of people, and is more dedicated than any man I have ever know. He would gladly give his life for any of the Ghosts, and he has never given up when one of his Ghosts is missing.”

I scratch the back of my head, and look up at Merrick.

“So...where do you think Gavin and Spike are?” I ask slowly, and Merrick shrugs.

“Honestly? They could be anywhere. Anywhere in the world. But I get the feeling that they're still in America. Last Keegan had gotten a small trace of them, they were actually down here, in South America.”

My eyes widen, and I sit up straight.

“Merrick, you don't think that they could be nearby, do you? Maybe they were looking for Rorke, too!” I say with excitement, and Merrick stares me down.

“Logan, I don't know. If they were, or are, then we might be able to try to find them. There's only so many places they could be that isn't Federation territory. And even if it is Federation territory, there's very few places where they would actually be able to hide. Like where we are now, and areas like this. I hate to think it, but it's what I've been thinking for the past five years, after their first small ping went dead. Gavin and Spike are dead. The Ghost Hawks are gone.” Merrick says straightly.

“They're not dead.”

I hear from in front of us, and we both turn our heads to see Keegan turned around, staring at us, Hesh next to him, meeting my eyes.

“I know they're still out there, Merrick. I can feel it. And I know they're close. Gavin is smart, and Spike is strong. The three of us, we were always a team together. Even though I was very young, Thrash put us together because we worked so well. Ghosts don't abandon other Ghosts. That's why I have to find them.” He says determinedly, and Hesh raises his eyebrow, then shrugs.

“I mean, you said that they were last known down here in South America, and that they would have to be nearby.”

I cross my arms.

“How long have you two been listening to our conversation?” I ask irritably, and Hesh smirks.

“Since Merrick first mentioned Spike.”

I roll my eyes, then look back at Keegan.

“So you really think that we can find the Hawks?” I ask, and Keegan nods.

“There are a bunch of abandoned villages around, not to mention the small deserted Federation base about four clicks North.”

My eyes widen.

“Wait, there's a deserted base?! Why didn't you tell us that before!? We could have holed up there!!” I shout, and Keegan sighs.

“It slipped my mind. I was a little preoccupied with the death of my best friend, you know.” He says gritly, and I nod.

“Sorry.” I say sheepishly, and he shakes his head.

“Whatever. But still. If we get going now, we can reach the base in about an hour.”

Merrick sighs, and stands up.

“Keegan, I just don't know if-”

“Merrick, you've been saying for years that I’m not going to find them. I thought that Ghosts were supposed to help each other. Now, I am going to find my team. Are you or are you not going to help?” He asks sternly, and Merrick sighs.

Hesh and I lock eyes again, a small bit of excitement in them at the chance to find two more Ghosts.

“Fine. Let's get going.” Merrick caves, and I jump up.

“Hesh, grab the gear. Keegan, you and I can figure out the calibration of the Jeep, and get us headed in that direction. Merrick, you need to keep an eye on the scanners and make sure no Federation soldiers are following us.” I say, and Hesh stands up with his arms crossed.

“And since when were you in command?” He says with a sarcastic tone, and I smirk.

“Since now.”

Merrick scoffs, and shoves me aside as he walks towards the Jeep.

“Yeah, nice try kid. Good plan, and we'll go with it, but you're still not in command.” He turns to me with a grin.

“Maybe someday.” He chuckles, and I nod with a smile.

Hesh grabs the guns and the water canteens from beside the fire pit, and runs over to the Jeep.

Keegan climbs into the front seat next to me, as I fiddle with the wires of the GPS.

“I’m thinking that if I can just reverse the wires, the GPS won't just take us the Federation routes, where we're more likely to be caught.”

Keegan leans down, and looks at the back of it.

“Hang on.” He says, and I sit back.

He pulls the wires apart, twists two together, switches two around, then sits back up, and flicks it on. The GPS loads up, and a completely blank and new destination route comes up.

I smirk.

“Nice! You wiped the memory and recalibrated the drive!” I say, and Keegan nods.

He turns to the backseat, looking at Hesh and Merrick.

“Are you two ready to go?” He asks, and Hesh nods.

“Let's go!” he says enthusiastically, as Merrick takes a deep breath.

“You're in lead, Keegan. This is all on you.” He says, and Keegan smirks, turning back to the front, starting the Jeep.

“Good.”

He puts it into drive, and we speed off down the bumpy dirt road.

Chapter Text

?????

“Look, the Ghosts are being attacked. Murdered. Destroyed. We need to help them, at least the ones close by.” I say urgently, and he sighs.

“We can't. We can't let Rorke know that we're here, or even around. He’ll come after us.” He says nonchalantly as he wipes down his gun, uninterested.

I grit my teeth and walk over to him, grabbing his gun from his hand and slamming it on the table.

I stare deep into his green eyes.

“Gavin, we have to help. We're GHOSTS. What if one of the Ghosts that is being attacked is Keegan?” I say, and Gavin snaps his head up, then shakes his head.

“He's in Santa Monica, with the Stalker group, under Captain Merrick. He's nowhere near here.” He says, and I shake my head.

“Gavin, I heard on the radio yesterday. The Fed base nearby. They captured three Ghosts, and had already detained two more. They had brought them down from San Diego.” I say grimly, and Gavin’s eyes widen.

He stands up, and walks over to the table, looking down at it.

He picks up his Ghost mask, staring at it.

“So...if...if it really is Keegan, what do we do?” He asks, and I shrug.

“He's one of us, Gavin. He's the youngest Ghost out of all of us! He was like our little brother! We have to find him! So we will go and find him.” I state, and Gavin turns, eyebrow raised.

“Spike, do you even know how many Fed soldiers are going to be at that damn base?” He asks bitterly, and I nod, crossing my arms.

“Of course I do. I’m not stupid, Gav. But Keegan needs our help. We can use the Jeep and get going. Take the old access road.”

Gavin sighs, and nods.

"You're nuts, you know that, right?" He mutters, and I smirk.

He pulls on his mask, and I pull mine up from where it rested on my neck.

Picking up my gun, I check the mag, then look up to meet Gavin’s eyes.

His green eyes meet the steely blue-grey of mine, and I nod.

“Let's go.”

 

SPIKE

Jumping in the Jeep, I turn the key as Gavin climbs in beside me.

He holds his gun at the ready as the engine starts, and I put the shift into drive. Pushing down the gas, we speed out of the abandoned Fed compound, and down the access road.

“So what do we do when we find him?” Gavin shouts over the road noise, and I smirk.

“We get him the hell out of there.”

Gavin frowns.

“And what about the other four Ghosts you said you heard about?”

I groan.

“One thing at a time.”

Gavin sits forward, leaning on the front of the dash, staring at me.

“Spike, we can't be rash about this. We need to think things through.” He says sternly, and I sigh.

The road turns bumpy as we travel through the thicker part of the jungle.

“Go straight at the intersection ahead.” Gavin says, pointing ahead about 700 yards.

I nod.

“Hey, I know we have to think things through, but we also have to realize that Rorke hasn't exactly given us much of a choice but to act rash. Everything we do has to be spontaneous. He knows how we work. Besides, we can just act like Keegan did."

Gavin raises his eyebrow.

"What do you mean?" He asks, and I snicker.

"We deliberately disobey orders, act irrationally, and just plain spontaneous." I reply with a smirk.

Gavin sighs.

"That's a terrible idea. We can't keep-”

Suddenly a second Jeep smashes into the side of ours as we pass through the intersection.

Gavin falls against me, the Jeep getting hit on his side, causing the door to cave in a little.

The other Jeep skids, and ours almost tips, as we slide on the muddy ground. It hits a log on the side of the road, stopping it.

I grab Gavin and jump out my side of the Jeep, ducking down below it.

I hear footsteps, hard, as if they were doing the same thing.

A moment of silence passes, then a shout splits the quiet air.

“Who the hell are you, and where are you headed?!” An authoritative voice shouts. It sounds young, though, and I hear a groan after a shove.

“Just put any weapons you have down on the ground, and stand up.” An older voice says more calmly.

I glance over at Gavin, and he tilts his head back towards them, keeping his eyes on me. I nod.

“Why should we listen to you?! YOU put down your weapons! State your business!” I shout, and a silence, then a quiet mutter.

“Wait a second…” They say, and the voice is vaguely… familiar.

I hear a hit on metal, and then a shout.

“Get back here!” The one who had spoken calmly moments ago now shouts with anger.

Then a slam above us on the Jeep makes me tense up, and Gavin glances over at me.

Out of nowhere, a man drops to the ground next to me from on top of the Jeep.

He wears all dark grey, with a black hat covered by a headset.

His face is hidden behind a mask, and my eyes widen when I see one of the Ghost patterns on it.

His icy blue eyes are shadowed by dark grey face paint, and are wide with surprise.

I raise my gun at him, but he puts up his hands.

“Wait!” He says, then I hear a shout from the others.

“Keegan, what the hell are you thinking?!”

My eyes widen, and my gun drops from my hands to the ground.

“K...Keegan?” I say softly, and Gavin stands up behind me.

“What?....”

The man stares at me, and his eyes soften a bit.

“Spike...” He says, and I feel my heartbeat quicken.

He pulls down his mask, and the familiar grin eases my anxiety, and my eyes widen as I take a deep breath of relief.

“Keegan!” I shout.

He smirks and hugs me, as I laugh and clap him on the back. Gavin steps up, and takes Keegan’s hand.

“Good to see you again, Gav.” Keegan says, and Gavin lifts his mask to smile.

“You too.” He says, then pulls Keegan into a hug. Keegan smiles, then steps back.

Another bang on the Jeep makes me look up, and a young man about the same age as Keegan stands above us, with black face paint covering his face rather than a mask, in the pattern of the Ghost.

He looks at us, then crouches down to look at Keegan with a smirk.

“I’m guessing these are the Hawks?” He asks, and I look at Keegan, then at him.

Keegan smirks, and nods.

“Hesh, this is Spike, and Gavin.” He says, and Hesh grins.

He offers Gavin his hand, and pulls him up onto the top of the Jeep.

 Keegan and I both jump up, and I stare over towards their Jeep to see two more men, each with a Ghost mask, one younger and the other older.

I raise my eyebrow at the older, then smirk.

“Merrick?” I ask, and he stands up as Keegan, Gavin, Hesh and I all jump down next to them.

“Spike.” He says gruffly, then looks behind me.

“Gavin.”

Gavin nods, and Keegan turns back to me with a grin.

“We were looking for you. That's why we came out this way. I just didn't know we'd find you by crashing into your Jeep.” He says with a snicker, and I laugh.

“I had heard on the radio yesterday that Rorke had captured three Ghosts, and had already had two others. They said they came from San Diego, and Gavin and I had a feeling one of them was you. We were headed to help you guys out.”

Gavin frowns.

“Uh, I thought that three of the Ghosts were caught, in addition to two others. That's five." He observes, and I realise he's right. Glancing to all of them, I raise my eyebrow.

"Where's the fifth of you guys?” I ask, and Keegan suddenly goes silent, hanging his head, as the other three frown.

Hesh awkwardly turns away, and walks away to lean against the Jeep.

I raise my eyebrow, and switch my gaze between all of them.

“What? What did I say?” I ask, and the youngest of them all, the one with his mask still on, steps forward.

“The reason...the reason why the three Ghosts were captured was because me and my brother,”

He points at Hesh.

“were taken by Rorke. He...tried to turn us against the Ghosts. Hesh….He…”

The kid stops, looking at Merrick, then Keegan, then finally back towards his brother.

He slowly turns his head back to me.

“Rorke managed to break Hesh. Turned him against us. The third Ghost….his name was Kick."

My eyes widen when I hear that.

"Kick?" I ask quietly, and the kid nods. 

"Yeah. You know him?" He questions, and I nod slowly.

"We were all the original fourteen Ghosts. Kick and Keegan were really close when Keegan first joined the Marines. I just can't believe he's gone. What happened?" I ask, and Logan sighs.

"Hesh….he….shot him.” He says painfully, and my eyes widen.

I look up to see Hesh clench his fist and tighten up, then he slams his fist into the side of the Jeep.

I can see a bit of blood drip from his hand where he hit it, and he takes a deep, angry breath.

Keegan looks to the side, and I raise my eyebrow.

I've never seen him like this.

Merrick puts his hand on my shoulder.

"We both know how close they were, Spike. And I know you understand the pain he's feeling." He says, and I nod.

Sighing, I hold Keegan’s shoulders with my hands.

He looks up at me, and I stare into his eyes.

“Keegan, I’m so sorry. You know that I know how you feel. The same thing happened with Bolt. But we can't dwell on the past. What's done is done. But we can still remember them.”

I pull some dog tags out of my jacket pocket, and hold them up.

Keegan’s eyes widen.

“Are those…” I nod.

“Yeah. They're Bolt’s. I always carry them with me. So I can always have him with me, too.”

Gavin walks past us over to Hesh, and I can see him try to talk to him, but Hesh turns his head away, then groans and turns to talk to Gavin.

Keegan smiles.

“It's real good to see you again, Spike.” He says, and I nod, then my gaze trains to the side a little to fall on the young man.

“Who's this?” I ask, and the kid pulls his mask up, his face looking vaguely like Hesh’s, but younger, sharper, and with light brown hair.

“I’m Logan. Hesh’s little brother.” He says, and I nod.

Then I realize something.

“Wait a minute…. Logan….Logan..” I mutter quietly, trying to remember something.

Keegan looks at me, eyebrow raised.

“Spike?”

My eyes widen as I suddenly realize.

“Logan! You're the one that Rorke took eight months ago!”

I shout, and Logan, Keegan, and Merrick all meet eyes, then Logan nods slowly.

“Um...yeah.” He says quietly, and I cross my arms.

“I thought Rorke turned you against the Ghosts.” I say with a bit of caution and harsh tone to my voice.

Logan looks to the side, rubbing his arm nervously.

“He...he did...for a bit...then when I saw Hesh again, I snapped out of it. Just like what happened when Rorke had Hesh. It seems that we can't be turned against the Ghosts for long without the other making us snap back to reality.”

I smirk, and nod slowly.

“Brotherly love. It's something stronger than anything in the world. Keep it that way. Never let anything break that bond, Logan. Hesh needs you, just like you need him.” I say, and Logan grins.

Merrick and Keegan look at each other, then Keegan looks at his watch.

“Hey, Spike, it's getting to be around the time when the Feds do their patrols. They use this road, so we have to move.” He says, and I nod.

“Gavin!” I call, and he looks up, Hesh turning around with him.

“We have to go!” I shout, and they walk back over. Once they reach us, I take a deep breath.

“The Feds are gonna be coming soon. Which means we have to get back to the base before they know we're here.” I explain, and Hesh and Gav both nod. Keegan glances over.

“Hey, will your Jeep even be able to drive? We hit you pretty hard. Sorry about that.” He says, rubbing the back of his head as I look at our Jeep, and I shrug.

“It should still run. Didn't do any damage to the engine. Now let's go.” I say.

Keegan looks at me, then at Merrick, Hesh and Logan.

“I’m riding with you two.” He says with a smirk, and Merrick nods as I grin.

Keegan and Gavin both jump in the truck, and I put it into gear, then back up, turning around.

I wave over at Merrick, and he nods.

I drive back towards the compound, with Hesh, Logan and Merrick following close behind.

Keegan leans forward.

“So this is where you two have been? For the past eight years?” He asks, and Gavin rolls his eyes.

“No! We came here two years ago, to keep an eye on Rorke’s forces, and our concern in their growing numbers. Before that we were in Colorado, then before that the old base up in Oregon.” He says, and Keegan nods.

“Geez. I wish I had known, I could have recruited you guys and we could have fought side by side again.” He says, and I shake my head as we drive past the gate into the compound, and park the Jeep.

As I jump out, I look over at Keegan.

“No, Keegan. It was better this way. If we hadn't been separated, then you wouldn't have formed such a tight bond with the other three, and Kick. But now that we're together again, we can use our combined strength to address the problem with Rorke. For now, let's just get inside.” I say as Merrick drives in.

Hesh and Logan hop out as the Jeep turns off. They walk over, and I walk to the compound, then open the door.

“Let's get inside, before the Federation soldiers come by.”


GAVIN

After showing everyone the compound we've been staying in, Spike took Logan, Keegan, and Merrick to the command center to show them what we know on Rorke.

I turn to look down the hall, towards the barracks, looking for the missing Ghost.

Walking down the hall, I stop in the doorway of the first bunk, and sigh.

Hesh sits on the bed, facing away from the door, leaning his arms on his knees.

Stepping into the room, I hesitate.

“Hesh?” I say eventually, and his head lifts up, then he sighs.

“Go away.” He says softly, and I walk over towards him.

“No. I’m not going to leave you like this. I know what it feels like to lose a friend. I lost three at once, kid. But you can't-”

“Gavin, I didn't just lose my friend. I was the one who killed him! I can't get that image of his face when he looked at me in his dying moments out of my head! I murdered a Ghost. I almost killed my brother. Everyone keeps pretending like it didn't happen, but it did. There's nothing I can do to forget it. Keegan and I were talking when we were back at the campsite where we stayed last night. We were talking and laughing, sure, but I could tell he still blames me. How could he not?!” Hesh says hurtfully, and I close my eyes, taking a deep breath, then sit down next to him.

“Hesh, Keegan is...Keegan. He’s different than any man I've ever known. He forms the strongest bonds with people, but when those people are hurt or killed, he shuts everyone out. He didn't used to be like the man he is today.” I say, and Hesh looks up at me with his eyebrow raised.

“What do you mean?” He asks. I sigh, and look down.

“When I first met Keegan, he was a very irrational, rambunctious, and rash young boy.”

Hesh’s eyebrow raises as a smirk creeps onto his face. “ Keegan ?” He asks in surprise, and I nod, grinning.

“Yeah. He was only seventeen when we met. The first mission for Tier One Teams. Keegan was put with us, under Sergeant Holt. That's when I first met Merrick, too. We were all very surprised when we saw a seventeen year old boy had made his way into the Marines, and was one of the top soldiers we all had ever seen. Then when we went to face down the Fed soldiers, like your dad told you the story of, Keegan made a huge impression on all of us. A boy who became a Ghost at eighteen years old." I shake my head and smirk.

Hesh cracks a small smile.

"He really became a Ghost at eighteen?" He asks incredulously.

I nod.

"When the five of us, meaning Keegan, Spike, Bolt, Heath, and I were put under command of Thrash, Keegan’s rash actions at some times got us into many….sticky situations. Thrash started to hone him down, making him more sensible and responsible. After only a month, Keegan was no longer irresponsible, but was an amazing leader. He was the one who took control of our small squad, Spike, Keegan and I, at nineteen years old. We all worked together to make sure every mission got finished with accuracy, swiftness, and success. Thrash was impressed by how much Keegan had changed. But...as time went on, he started to grow almost...emotionless. He didn't have that same rambunctious attitude that we all loved, and he wasn't the kid he once was. But he was a damn good Ghost. One of the best I'd ever know. He still is.” I stop, and glance over at Hesh.

He smirks, and I continue.

“He's the only reason that the three of us got out of that base in the Andes. When we were on that mission, he was only twenty years old. He saw the danger, and led us out. The trap set by the Federation had almost killed us. When we got to the rendezvous point, we couldn't find Thrash, Bolt, or Heath. Keegan told us to wait there, and he went back to try to find them.”

Hesh raises his eyebrow and sits up straight with a look of impress on his face.

“He went back in?” He asks, surprised.

I nod.

“After about twenty minutes, Spike and I got worried. We were just about to go back in when the part of the base that they were in exploded. Only one thought crossed both our minds: Keegan and our friends were dead. But then we saw two people stumbling out of the wreckage, one carrying the other. We ran over to them and saw it was Keegan and Bolt. Keegan was badly injured, but not nearly as bad as Bolt. He was almost killed, shrapnel sliced through his chest, shot four times, badly burned, and massive blood loss. Keegan was shot twice, had multiple shrapnel wounds, though not as serious. The scar on the side of his head? That's what it's from.”

Glancing up at Hesh, I see his eyes are wide.

I lean back, propping myself up with my hands on the bed behind me.

“Spike and I helped them away from the base. After reaching our truck, Keegan told us what had happened. Heath, Thrash and Bolt had been caught by the Fed soldiers. They immediately executed Thrash, then Heath. Keegan just barely got there in time to save Bolt, and got him out of there after killing the twenty soldiers that surrounded them.”

Hesh stops and stares at me.

“Keegan killed twenty soldiers on his own, while carrying Bolt?” He asks incredulously, and I nod.

“As they ran, that's when they were shot. Then the base blew. Apparently, Thrash had laid charges, and they went off before Keegan and Bolt got out. They barely escaped. After recounting his story, Keegan wouldn't leave Bolt’s side. Neither would Spike. He and Bolt were like brothers. Apparently much like Keegan and Kick. I got them all in the truck, and got us out of there, fast. We had almost reached the extraction point when Bolt collapsed. The blood loss and extremely severe injuries were just too much for him to handle. Spike couldn't take it. He started shouting, shaking Bolt, begging for him to not be dead. Keegan and I tried to comfort him, but we couldn't. When we reached the extraction point, and the soldiers were waiting for us, Spike carried Bolt to the chopper, and wouldn't let go of him the entire flight back. Keegan was in the infirmary for two days, and when he got out, he vowed to never let one of his fellow Ghosts die again. A week and a half later, he joined Stalker squad, under Thomas Merrick. Spike and I? We left the compound. We would watch out for Rorke, and keep an eye on his movements. For eight years we've stuck together, and kept track of the Ghosts while still staying off the radar. We didn't want Keegan to give up his new team. But now, to have him back, it's better than anything. Although, seeing him like this, after Kick, after his vow was broken, he seems almost broken inside. But I know that won't hold him down. Nothing can hold Keegan down. You, your brother, and Merrick? You're all very strong soldiers. Resilient. But Keegan? He's the most unbreakable and impenetrable kid I have ever heard of or known. Not even Rorke would be able to scratch him.”

Hesh nods with a smile, then frowns.

“I know. But after what happened….how I…. turned…” He looks up at me with sad eyes.

“I don't know how you can call me resilient, or strong. I broke under the pressure of Rorke.” Hesh puts his head in his hands as he leans forward to lean his elbows on his legs.

“I was just so weak after losing Logan the first time, I couldn't take it. Rorke broke me, Gavin.” He says, looking up at me.

I shake my head, putting my hand on his shoulder.

“But you're here now. You were able to come back. Because you and your brother have such a strong bond, even Rorke couldn't break it. But in relation to Keegan, and what happened, he doesn't hate you, Hesh. I can see it in his eyes. The way he looks at you, you see it as hate. I look at him, and I see it as pity. Remorse. He knows that this wasn't your fault. Keegan understands, Hesh. Everyone does. Logan is your family. When you lose family, like Keegan and Spike did, you lose part of yourself, too. And Rorke used that against you. But even through all that happened, Keegan doesn't blame you. Yes, he was mad at you at first, but then he saw what you went through, how you felt, and he understood. So you need to stop blaming yourself and avoiding us. We can help, Hesh.” I say comfortingly, and Hesh sits up, meeting my eyes, and he blinks away a tear.

His eyes soften, then he smiles softly.

“Thanks, Gavin.” He says, and I nod with a grin.

“Of course.” I stand up, and offer him my hand. He takes it, and I hoist him to his feet.

“Come on. Let's go and join everyone else at command.” I say. Hesh nods, following me out of the room.

He pauses at the door, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath.

Turning, I look at him.

“You okay?” I ask, and he opens his eyes and nods, grinning.

“Yeah. I’m okay.” He says, walking to join me as we make our way down to the command center, to our family, the Ghosts.

Chapter Text

KEEGAN

The door opens, and Merrick, Logan, Spike and I all turn. Gavin and Hesh walk in, and Hesh is….smiling?

I haven't seen him smile like that since before he was turned by Rorke. I wonder what Gavin said to him to make him actually break out of his shell and come up here.

They walk over, Hesh going straight to Logan. They talk and hug, and I turn to Gavin.

“What did you do to get him out here?” I ask, and Gavin smiles as he walks over to Spike, Merrick and I.

“I just told him how we understand. That it's not his fault, and that we can help.”

I nod slightly, and grin.

“Nice.”

Turning back to Spike, I lean on the counter.

“So you were saying?” I ask, and Spike nods.

“Right. Gavin and I have been tracking some of the military movements around, and we think we might have found something. In New Mexico, we got a small ping from a radio tower.”

Hesh and Logan look up, and walk over.

“So what?” Logan asks, and Spike turns around.

“It was on the channel that the Ghosts use.” He says, and my eyes widen, as do everyone else’s.

Hesh steps forward.

“Hold on. You're telling me there are more Ghosts still out there?” He asks, and Spike shrugs.

“Well, there were 14 of us to begin with. Rorke, Elias, Ajax, Merrick, Keegan, me, Gavin, Kick, Thrash, Bolt, Heath. Then there's Slate, Match, and Cody. The elite Shadow squad. The three of them were always their own team, working the lowest profile and highest risk missions. They were all very strong men when they became Ghosts, but not as strong as you boys. Or Keegan.” He glances to the side at me, and I smirk.

“I was 18 when I became a Ghost.” I say, catching Logan’s wide eyes. Merrick nods.

“Slate was thirty-two, Cody was thirty-one, and Match was thirty. I had no idea they were still...well….alive. We haven't heard from them in 9 years. But, just yesterday, we got a small ping from New Mexico. On the channel that us Ghosts still use. Only the Ghosts. Rorke doesn't even know about it. So our first thought was that it was Shadows.”

I cross my arms.

“Can we get a message back to them?” I ask, and Spike shrugs.

“I mean….I don't know. The signal from here is pretty weak. Although…..” He trails off, and Merrick raises his eyebrow.

“Spike, what is it?” He asks, and Spike looks to the side at Gavin, who looks at us.

“Since you guys need to get out of South America anyways , we could travel up to New Mexico to try to find them.” Gavin says, as Logan and Hesh look at each other.

Hesh glances back at us, and narrows his eyes.

“Trust me, I want to get as far away from this fucking place as possible. And I do want to find the other Ghosts.” He says with a determined look on his face, and Logan puts his hand on Hesh’s shoulder.

“Yeah. Me too. If there are more Ghosts still alive, we have to find them.” He says, and I turn to Merrick.

He sighs, then raises his gaze to Spike and Gavin.

“How would we get out of the area, though? The Federation has all access roads to any other area blocked.”

Gavin and Spike exchange a smirk, then turn back to us.

“There's the helicopter.” Gavin says, and my eyes widen.

“There's still a helicopter here?! I would have thought that the Feds would have taken it with them when they deserted the base!”

Merrick looks over at me.

“They left the Jeeps. Why not leave the helicopter, too, you know?” He says, and I shrug.

Merrick puts his hands on his hips, and surveys all of us.

“Okay, we need to pack up our gear. Getting to New Mexico is now our only goal. Forget about Rorke, forget about the Federation. If Shadow squad is really out there, then we have to find them. Now gather any weapons you can, the supplies we already have, restock the ammo, and let's move out!” He says, and I nod with a smirk.

Hesh and Logan run off towards the weapons room, and Gavin and Spike go to get the supplies.

I glance over at Merrick, who looks at the computer screen, the pinging sound louder in the now empty room.

“You really think it's them?” I ask, moving to stand next to him.

Merrick sighs.

“If anyone is resilient and stubborn enough to stay alive in this war for that long, it would be Shadow squad.”

I chuckle, and glance up at Merrick.

"More stubborn than me?" I joke, and Merrick shakes his head with a deep breath.

"Keegan, no one is as stubborn as you."

I snicker and nod.

“You're right on that. But do we even know where in New Mexico we're looking?” I ask, and Merrick leans on the table, looking at the scanners.

“Well, the ping came from around here,” he says, pointing to a barren area on the map.

I shake my head.

“Santa Fe was destroyed when ODIN hit. Completely wiped out. That's the definition of No Man’s Land, Merrick. Why the hell would they be there?!” I say angrily, and Merrick looks up at me.

“Keegan, cool it. Yes, it's a barren wasteland, but that's what makes it perfect for them to camp. They've probably been moving from different places in No Man’s Land, trying to stay off of Rorke’s radar. Camping in the most destroyed areas is the smartest thing to do, because no one would ever think that anyone would go there.” He says, and I sigh.

“Well, it's the best we've got.”

Hesh and Logan walk back in, carrying about twelve guns and some explosives.

I smirk.

“Well, that's a little much.” I say with a snicker, and Hesh shakes his head.

“Keegan, when it comes to Rorke, nothing is too much.” I walk over to the table as they set the weapons down, seeing multiple assault rifles, a rocket launcher, and two sniper rifles.

I pick up one of the sniper rifles, and run my hand over it before strapping it onto my back.

Hesh grabs an MK8, and Logan picks up a Honey Badger, clipping it to his belt, then an M9A1 handgun, slipping it into the holster on his leg.

“The chopper is on the roof.” Spike says as he walks back in with Gavin, carrying the rations and supplies we had.

Merrick nods.

“Let's get this stuff in, then we can move out.” He says.

I help Hesh grab the weapons, and we walk together up the stairs. He keeps glancing over at me, and I sigh.

“Hesh, what is it?” I ask slightly irritably.

He stops.

“Uh….nothing…” He says quickly, then he hangs his head.

“Can we talk when we get in the helicopter?” He asks as we get to the roof and set the weapons down in the chopper’s storage.

I raise my eyebrow, then nod slowly.

“Uh, yeah. ...Sure.” I say with a tinge of confusion.

Hesh hesitates, then runs back downstairs.

I follow him with my eyes, then Gavin walks out, looking behind him, then back at me.

“What did you do?” He asks, and my eyes widen.

“Wait, what?! I didn't do anything! Why do you always think that I did something?!” I shout defensively.

Gavin crosses his arms.

"Because you normally have done something." He states plainly.

I narrow my eyes at him.

"Shut up, Gavin." I mutter, and he rolls his eyes.

“Anyway, Hesh just went sprinting down the stairs, nearly knocking me over. Did you say anything to him?” He asks strictly, and I shake my head.

“NOTHING! He asked me if we could talk when we got in the chopper, real nervous, and after I said yes, he just booked it. I dunno.” I say, walking past him.

Gavin sighs.

“Well, Logan and Merrick are bringing up the rest of the stuff, as Spike calibrates the mobile scanner with the same frequency as the computer systems here.” He says, and I nod.

“Okay.” I turn towards the helicopter, getting in.

I walk over towards the small seats and, taking my sniper off my shoulder, I sit down.

Leaning my head back against the wall, I close my eyes, and take a deep breath.

I can't believe that we found Gavin and Spike. And now it turns out that Match, Slate and Cody might be alive, too?

Rorke said the Ghosts are gone, that we were the only ones left.

If he truly doesn't know that these five are still alive, then this could be a huge advantage we desperately need.

“Keegan.”

I lift my head, opening my eyes to see Hesh standing in front of me. I sit up straight.

“Hey.” I say casually, and Hesh rubs the back of his head.

“Um...I…”

I sigh.

“Hesh, sit down, and we can talk.” I say as I hear the chopper start up. I look to the front to see Merrick and Spike in the cockpit, and Logan and Gavin sitting near the front, looking at the scanner.

Hesh sits down next to me, not really making eye contact.

I lean forward a little, then shove his shoulder.

He looks up at me, and confusion washes over my face when I see traces of fear hidden behind the light brown color of his eyes.

“What is it?” I ask.

“What do you want to talk about?”

Hesh takes a deep breath, and looks me in the eye.

“Keegan, do you hate me?” He asks slowly, his voice quiet and dismal, and I startle.

“What? I….”

The realization of what he means suddenly washes over me, and I close my eyes and sigh.

“Hesh, I don't hate you. Even though I had said it was your fault, and that I didn't trust you, I didn't mean it. I really do trust you. You're a Ghost, and Elias trained you well. You and Logan both. I care about both of you. I don't want you to get hurt. It's just….Kick was like an older brother to me.”

I hang my head a little, and sigh again.

“I know that you didn't know what you were doing until it was too late. But I realize now the pain you went through after you saw what you'd done. I also now see it that killing Kick was much better than killing your brother. If you had done that….I don't know. I know what pain you would have felt.” I look up at him, and he stares at me with big eyes.

“I forgive you, Hesh. I really do. I’m sorry you thought different. But I understand.” I say, putting my hand on his shoulder.

Hesh smiles slightly, then gives a slight chuckle.

I raise my eyebrow.

“What?”

Hesh shakes his head, grinning.

“It's just….that's exactly what Gavin said. He told me that you understood. He explained to me what you really feel, and I’m sorry.” He says, and I lean back a little in confusion.

“For what?” I ask, and Hesh frowns.

“About what happened to your team. Thrash, Heath, and Bolt? When you were twenty?”

My eyes widen.

“Gavin told you about that?” I ask softly, and Hesh nods.

“You're a good man, Keegan. I know that. After learning what you did to save Bolt, how you risked everything, my respect for you has increased so much. Even though you're the same age as me, you're far stronger and more experienced. You're so smart, and you really do care about everyone. Even though you put up your mask to hide it, to keep that impenetrable shell, I know what you're really like.”

I sigh, and nod at Hesh.

“Not many people know about my past, about my time in the Hawks. I try to forget it sometimes. But there are also other memories from my team that I don't ever want to let go of.” I say with a reminiscent tone.

Hesh snickers.

“Like how when you first started, you were irrational, rambunctious and rash, and got your team into a few bad situations?” Hesh says with a smirk.

I whip my head to stare at him with my eyebrow raised.

“Did Gavin just tell you everything about me?!” I say irritably, but also with a joking tone.

Hesh laughs.

“Nothing good.”

I laugh, and smile at Hesh.

“So, we're cool?” I ask, and he nods.

“Yeah. We're cool.”


  3 ½ Hours Later

 

LOGAN

I look at the scanner, as we still fly in the helicopter.

Now over New Mexico, and nearing Santa Fe, it's imperative that we find a positive location on the Ghosts.

I look up at Gavin.

“So, there's a couple places that they could be. Personally, if I were trying to avoid the attention of Rorke, I would take cover in the broken buildings.” I say, and Gavin points to one of them, tapping the screen.

“It's a start. Look, that one has a helipad. Must have been a hospital or something.” He says, and I nod, then stand up to lean on the edge of the cockpit.

“Merrick, there's a broken down hospital about a thousand yards ahead.” I say, pointing to it.

“Land there.” I suggest, and Merrick nods.

“Okay, Ghosts, we're about to have feet on the ground, so load up.” He says, and I run back towards Hesh.

He stands up, and grabs his MK8. I check my Honey Badger, and look up at him.

He nods, and I pull down my mask, as the chopper gently sets down on the rooftop.

Before opening the door, Merrick and Spike jump into the back, grabbing their gear.

“Okay, guys, we don't know who or what could be out there. It looks pretty deserted, but looks can be deceiving. Be on guard. Logan, you stick with Hesh. Keegan, you cover Gavin. Spike, you're with me.” Merrick says, and Keegan and Gavin smirk, as Hesh and I catch each other’s eye with a grin.

“Okay, let's go.” Merrick says.

He slides the doors open, as Hesh and I move to jump out.

As the door slides fully open, my eyes widen when we're met with the sights of guns, three men standing on the rooftop, dressed in all black tactical gear with black masks showing the Ghosts emblem, aiming red dots on our chests.

Merrick, Keegan, Gavin and Spike all step back a little, then Hesh takes a deep breath.

“Match, Cody, Slate! Drop your weapons!” He shouts, and the three men look at each other, then they see my mask, and Hesh’s face paint.

“Ghosts?” The one to the right says, a bit taller than the other two, the one to the left the shortest.

Hesh nods, and straightens up.

“Ghost Six-Three, Hesh Walker.”

I lower my gun.

“Ghost Six-Four, Logan Walker.” I say, and the three exchange wide-eyed glances.

“It's the Walker boys….” The smallest one says, and the one in the front lowers his gun, and pulls down his mask.

His face is sharp and cut, a scar next to his dark brown hairline. His intense dark green eyes stare at me, then at Hesh.

He nods towards Hesh.

“So. You two are the Walkers, huh? I’m Slate. Ghost Three-Five.”

The tall one lifts up his mask, and his face is lean and straight, eyes bright blue against blonde hair.

“Cody. Ghost Three-Six.” He says, his voice slightly husky.

The short one in the back pulls his mask off, making his reddish brown hair stick up.

“Match. Ghost Three-Seven.” He says, his eyes shimmering brown, his face small and young, yet mannish.

Hesh stares at Slate.

“We-”

“Slate.”

I hear from behind us, and Merrick shoves past us, followed by Spike, Keegan and Gavin.

Slate cracks a smile when he sees him.

“Thomas. Been a while.” He says, and Merrick nods.

“Yeah. Sure has. You remember the Hawks.” He says, motioning to Spike, Gavin, and Keegan.

Keegan grins subtly when mentioned as a Hawk.

Slate nods, then smirks when he sees Keegan.

"Russ. I see you're still breathing. Given your recklessness in the past, I'm surprised." He says, and I raise my eyebrow.

Keegan rolls his eyes, crossing his arms. 

"Good to see you too, Slate." He remarks.

Slate grins, then shakes his head.

"Nah, I'm kidding, Keegan. It's good to see you. I'm glad you're still okay." He says caringly. 

I raise my eyebrow again, surprised at this man and his seeming strong connection to Keegan. Catching Hesh's eye, I see he has the same curiosity.

Keegan laughs, and shrugs his shoulders. 

"I try."

Slate chuckles, then nods.

“Yeah. And these are the two new ones?” He asks, pointing at Hesh and I.

We catch a glance from each other, then look back at the Ghosts.

Merrick nods.

“Elias’ boys. He trained them well, Slate. They're two of the best damn Ghosts I've seen in a lifetime.” I grin when I hear the praise, and I turn to Slate, lifting up my mask.

“You knew our dad?” I ask, and Hesh raises his eyebrow.

Slate nods.

“Yeah. We did. After monitoring all the Federation action happening in America, we were pained to hear that they had taken out Commander Elias Walker. I’m sorry, kid.” He says as Hesh closes his eyes and sighs.

Match steps forward.

“Hey, We should probably get inside. It's getting dark soon.”

Cody looks up, and then back at us.

“He's right. Let's get in.” He says.

Hesh and I exchange a glance, then follow the Ghosts off the roof. They lead us down a flight of stairs, Slate in the lead, followed by Merrick, Keegan, Cody, Spike, Gavin, and Match.

Hesh walks behind me, and I turn slightly to him.

“What's the big deal about it getting dark? If you ask me, that's the best time to be out. Able to get work done better without having to worry about being seen.” I whisper, then I bump into Match as he turns around.

The other six walk on, and Hesh and I stare at Match.

He shakes his head.

“It's not about whether you're able to see or not, or how easy it is to work. It's about what's out there.” He says, looking out the large window.

Hesh and I move our gaze to outside, looking through the dirtied and cracked window to the now moonlit city.

The bright full moon makes it almost appear to be day in the streets and on top of the buildings, but in the lower areas, the shadows are black as pitch, home to whatever dark creatures the mind could conjure up when afraid.

Hesh shakes his head.

“I don't understand. What's out there that you have to be-”

A large howling echoes through the streets, and travels through the window. It grows louder, as more and more join it.

Hesh’s eyes widen along with my own, and I turn to look at Match.

“Wolves?” I ask, and he nods.

“Damn straight. Never seen so many in one place before. They're out every night, the minute it goes dark. We avoid them by staying in the buildings, on the upper floors. We've come to get used to it, after being here for ten months.” He turns towards the window, clipping his gun to his belt.

Crossing his arms, he looks out, and I turn to see wolves prowling the streets, climbing on the cars and the heaved up road, snarling and fighting.

“They find any food they can. There's lots of rabbits and squirrels and stray cats around. Sometimes even a stray dog. Foxes, too. There's a whole lot of animals out here. I guess with ODIN wiping everything humanesque out, it gave way for the animals to take over.”

He turns his head to look at us, and finds us wide eyed, looking out the window.

“Come on. Let's get back to the main deck, where it's warm and there's food.”

Hesh and I catch each other’s eyes, then follow Match down the hall.

Hesh shoves me with his shoulder as we walk.

“Man, when Merrick said they take the high-risk missions, he wasn't kidding. Having to hole up in a broken-down hospital surrounded by vicious animals every night, just waiting to get a chunk of you? Damn.” He whispers, and I smirk.

“They are the Elite squad. What do you expect?” I say with a grin.

As we walk through a door, warmth greets us in the main room, what looks like it used to be a waiting room. The lights are soft, and I can see pads in a sectioned off area where the Ghosts have bedded down.

Keegan and Cody look up.

“I was wondering where you guys were.” Cody says, and Match thumbs back out the door.

“The wolves are out. There's a lot more of them tonight.” He says, and Slate turns around.

“They must have smelled the new meat.” He says, swinging his gaze over all of us.

Merrick crosses his arms.

“There are wolves here?” He asks, and Cody nods.

“Hell yeah there are. Hundreds of ‘em. They started really showing up after we first got here. We're used to them now. We know to get inside when it gets dark, or we'll be dead meat. Literally.” He says, and I smirk a little at his joke.

Slate looks at Hesh and I, and points to the padding.

“You two should get some sleep. Merrick said you guys haven't gotten much since you left Rorke.”

I glance over at Hesh, and sigh.

Walking over to the beddings, I set my gun on the table next to it, then sit down.

With a heavy sigh, I fall back, and close my eyes.

Damn, it feels good to actually lay down.

All of us have been up for almost four days, avoiding Rorke and tracking the Ghosts.

Hesh collapses next to me, and sighs.

He lays his head back, putting his hands behind his head.

After a second, I hear him take a slight breath.

“Logan?” He says quietly, and I open my eyes, turning to the side to find his head turned to look at me.

“Yeah?” I ask, meeting his eyes. He stares at me with his brown eyes full of compassion.

“You know we're gonna take down Rorke, right?” He says, and I nod, leaning up a bit.

“Yeah. With Stalker, Hawk, and Shadow Squads, we have more Ghosts than we had even before Rorke started his vendetta. Add that to the fact that he doesn't even know they still exist, and we have a huge advantage.” I say.

Hesh props himself up on his elbow, looking at me.

“I know the Ghosts were led by Rorke at the beginning, but do you think that dad taught them all the rest? I mean, he was the head Ghost. Merrick followed his every order without a thought. The Elites called him Commander. So, do you think he really was the first Ghost after Rorke?” He asks, and I shrug.

“I dunno, Hesh. But you know, when dad first told us he was a Ghost, after the first Santa Monica invasion, I just couldn't believe that the story he told us when we were young was true! That the Ghosts legend was about him!” I say with a laugh, and Hesh grins.

“Yeah. Who woulda thought?” He says with a chuckle.

I smirk, then lay back.

“We should get some sleep. We can ask the Ghosts what we can do to help tomorrow.” I say with a yawn.

Hesh lays back, closing his eyes.

After another silence, Hesh takes a deep breath.

“Logan?”

I sigh.

“What?” I ask tiredly.

“You...what I said, when I tried to….You know you mean more to me than anything, right?” He says, and I stop, then nod.

“Of course I do. You're my big brother. I'd do anything for you, David.” I say, and then a slight pause.

“I'll do anything to protect you, Logan. Always.” He says caringly, and I smile.

“I know.” I say, and Hesh yawns.

“Goodnight, Logan.” He says quietly, and I smile.

“Goodnight, David.” I say softly.

Chapter Text

Two Days Later

 

KEEGAN

As Cody, Gavin and I walk along the barren and empty streets, fingers hovering over the triggers of our guns, I glance back at them.

“So, Cody, what exactly do you guys look for during the day?” I ask, and Cody shrugs.

“Well, a couple times we have run into a few Federation stragglers, sweeping the area. But mostly we just look around for supplies, and keep the area clean.”

I raise my eyebrow.

“That's it? That seems a little….dull.” I say, underwhelmed.

Cody rolls his eyes.

“Look, I know you guys think that this place is deserted and that there's nothing to be careful about, but there are always risks. The animals may be active and dangerous at night, but that doesn't mean they aren't out now. A few still roam the streets, always hunting. So there is a very large risk that we face every time we even open that door to the hospital. Do you know the size of regular wolves? These are almost twice as big. If you see a wolf, you shoot it, and then run for your life.” He says, and I glance over at Gavin with wide eyes.

Gavin nods.

“Um...okay. Let's get the supplies, then head back.” He says with a bit of concern, and Cody nods.

Walking quicker, we reach the beaten up convenience store, the windows broken and debris littering the floor.

I look around, then see some food on the shelves.

I turn to Cody.

“Is any of the food still good?”

Cody shrugs.

“The food in the closed packaging should still be good. Grab some water from the freezer, too.” He says, pointing towards the back.

I nod and walk back there. Opening the freezer door, I'm surprised to find that a small bit of cold air still comes from the fridge.

Swinging my bag around to the front, I grab as many water bottles as can fit in my bag.

Once my bag is completely full, I close it and sling it over my shoulder.

Turning, I see Gavin filling his bag with food, and Cody is putting some supplies in his bag, including fuel and matches, more knives, lighter fluid and the like.

I walk back over, and tighten my pack, looking down at him.

“Are we ready to go?” I ask, and Cody stands up as Gavin walks to stand behind me.

He slings his pack onto his back.

“Yeah. Let's go.” He says as we load our guns.

Stepping out through the broken window, we look around, up and down the streets, to make sure it's clear.

“On me,” Cody says, and we run down the street, making our way back towards the hospital.

Suddenly a howling sound in front of us makes us stop.

I look at Cody, and his eyes widen.

“Oh, shit.”

Another howl to our left, then to our right, then behind us.

Out of the shadows of the road slink four huge wolves, snarling and glaring at us with insatiable hunger in their eyes, their unrelenting instinct circling us.

I raise my gun, and Gavin and Cody’s actions meet mine.

“Okay...now, unless you aim well, it takes a lot more shots than you'd think to take them down,” Cody says. I nod.

“Fine.” I pull off a shot, hitting the one to the left of me, and Cody shouts meets our eyes.

“Go!”

We start shooting, as the wolves howl and snarl.

One runs towards me, and I stare it down, holding down the trigger of my gun.

Eight shots hit it before it finally goes down, and I shake my head.

“Damn, you weren't kidding when you said it takes a lot!” I shout to Cody, and he scoffs.

“No shit!” He says back with emphasis, and Gavin joins in.

“Having to deal with this on a daily basis? Fuck that!” He shouts with a laugh.

Two of the wolves are down, and the other two howl, then again.

They then lower their heads, teeth bared, ears back.

Cody steps back a little, eyes wide.

“This isn't good.” He says, and Gavin turns his head towards Cody a little.

“Why?” He asks nervously.

“They just called to more of their pack. There's gonna be more wolves on us within two minutes.” He says, and my eyes widen.

“SHIT! Let's move!” I shout, and Cody nods.

“Fire and run!” He says, raising his gun again. He pulls off a few shots, then glances over at Gavin and I.

“RUN!” He yells, and we turn and sprint. The wolves behind us growl, then howl again.

I hear the sound of their claws on metal, and I look to the side to see one jumping over the broken cars on the road.

Looking forward, I can see the hospital at the end of the road.

We can make it… I think and narrow my eyes.

Raising my gun, I shoot the wolf to the right, Gavin and Cody both shooting, all of us spread apart.

Glancing over to Gavin, I see a wolf behind him, hidden from his view. I raise my gun, and pull the trigger, taking it out before it can attack him.

Then a low growl behind me creates a pit in my stomach, and I spin around just in time to see the wolf jump from a car onto me.

I fall to the ground hard, the wolf pinning me down.

I push against its head, holding it back as it gnashes its teeth at me, the spit in its mouth dripping onto my face.

The wolf’s sharp claws dig into my leg, and I flinch.

I can see the Ghosts in the corner of my eye, and I call out.

“Gavin!” I shout with a tone of my voice demanding help.

He turns around, and his eyes widen.

“KEEGAN!!!” He yells as he puts down two more of the wolves.

The wolf on top of me slashes at me with its front claws, cutting through my jacket and into my side. I feel the blood almost immediately, and I grit my teeth from the pain.

I can hear more gunshots as the other two Ghosts continue to fight off the other wolves.

“Cody! Keegan needs help!” I hear Gavin yell, but the words exchanged next are drowned out by the intense growling and snarling of the wolf on top of me.

My arms start to tire from pushing against the immense strength of the vicious animal, which suddenly realizes my fault.

It plants its paw on my chest and growls ferociously, then pushes its head down towards me.

Unable to hold it away any more, my eyes widen, and as a last-ditch effort, I shove it to the side a bit, as its razor sharp teeth stab into my shoulder.

A scream escapes my lips as the wolf’s fangs sink deep into my shoulder, and blood quickly soaks my shirt. I can feel it dripping up my neck as the wolf pins me down, and I groan in pain.

Trying to still save myself, I hold it back again, managing to push it away enough from my shoulder.

But I can feel myself weakening. I won't hold out against this.

Suddenly a shot rings out, then a few more, and the wolf whimpers as it falls to the ground.

I close my eyes and let out a deep breath, pulling down my mask to breath easily, then slowly sit up, holding my hand to my shoulder, ignoring the gash in my side, not really visible through my jacket and vest.

Gavin runs over and kneels down next to me.

“Keegan!” He says anxiously, and I groan. Cody runs over and looks around nervously.

“We have to go. Now. There’ll be more. We were lucky this time.” He says, and Gavin spins to glare at him.

Lucky?! Keegan almost died!” He shouts, and I shake my head, ignoring the pain as I do so.

“Gavin, it's fine. Let it go.” I say with a bit of grit in my voice.

Cody nods his head towards me.

“Can you walk?” He asks, and I nod slowly.

“I think. Gavin, help me up.” I say as Cody grabs my gun.

Gavin takes my hand and lifts me to my feet as I grit my teeth through the agony in my side.

My shoulder bleeds profusely, and I hold my hand to it tightly, feeling the blood soaking my gloves.

Gavin lets me lean on his shoulder, and I look at Cody.

“Let's go,” I say.

We make our way down the road towards the hospital, and in about four minutes we're at the doors.

I blink back the blur that keeps creeping into my eyes, stumbling a little.

My head is spinning, but I won't let them know that.

Gavin looks down at me and at my shoulder and shakes his head.

“We need to get him inside, now. The wound in his shoulder is really bad, and he's losing a lot of blood.”

Cody looks over his shoulder.

“Calm down. We're here. We'll have him inside soon enough.” He says calmly, and Gavin grits his teeth, anger clear on his face.

“It may not be ‘soon enough’ for him…” He mutters quietly as he glances at me out of the corner of his eye.

He helps me into the elevator, and Cody hits the button.

“He’s gonna be okay, Gavin. Have a little faith.” He says roughly as the elevator nears the fourth floor.

The doors ding open, and I see the Ghosts at the end of the room.

“Spike!” Gavin shouts, and Merrick, Logan, Hesh, Spike, Match and Slate all turn around, their eyes widening when they see us.

“Keegan…,” Hesh says quietly, eyes scared.

Gavin starts to help me over.

“What happened?!” Spike shouts as he hurries down towards us.

Gavin shakes his head.

“There were….the wolves…they just attacked…..” He stutters, trying to find words.

Slate’s eyes widen.

“Oh, shit.”

My vision blurs to the point of everything becoming unidentifiable, and I take a shaky breath.

“..Spike…” I whisper, blood dripping from the corner of my mouth.

Then I trip a little, holding my side in pain.

Gavin’s eyes widen as Spike grabs me.

“Keegan, you got slashed in the side, too?!” He says with concern, seeing the gash for the first time.

I look up, and I can see what kind of looks like Hesh running over.

My head spins as I stumble again, then collapse to the ground.

“Keegan!” Spike shouts, his hand on my shoulder.

I can feel my blood pooling around me, then another person is next to me.

“Keegan, just hang on!”

Hesh….

I reach my hand out to Hesh, and he takes it.

“Come on, Keegan…...” He says with fear, his voice fading out.

I can just barely make him out, my eyes meeting his before my hand falls from him as I drop into darkness.


HESH

My eyes widen, and I feel my chest tighten.

“Keegan?” I say quietly.

“Hesh…” Logan walks up behind me as Gavin lifts Keegan up.

Staring at him, an emptiness forms in my stomach.

“Keegan!” I go to stand up, but Logan holds me back as Spike and Gavin hurriedly carry Keegan into one of the med rooms, with Merrick following Match.

“Logan, let me go!” I shout, struggling against him. But his strong hold makes me sit back on the floor, and I sigh.

I stare after them, as Logan holds my shoulders.

“Hesh…” Logan says softly as I stare at the blood on the floor.

“David!” He says, concerned, and I snap my head up.

Turning to look at him, I feel tears sting my cheeks as I stare into his deep blue eyes.

“Logan, he was actually happy for the first time...and we were actually friends again….now he's….”

I stop myself, and Logan shakes his head.

“Hesh, he's not gone. The Hawks are taking care of him.” He says, and I close my eyes, taking a deep breath.

I stand up, and walk over to the window, looking down to the streets.

The clouds darken the ground in spots and turn the air cool, the sky a light grey.

I clench my fist, then spin around.

“YOU.” I glare at Cody, and he and Slate look at me with raised eyebrows.

“What?” He says curiously, and I stalk up to him.

“You saw the wolves! You ran! But you didn't keep an eye on your men! Keegan was attacked by a goddamn wolf, and you did nothing!!” I shout, and Slate steps forward.

“Calm down, kid…” He starts, but I turn to glare at him.

“NO! My friend is dying because a member of the so-called Elite squad couldn't do his fucking job!” I shout angrily, and Slate’s eyes widen, then narrow intensely.

“Walker, I would seriously reconsider the path you are going down right now.” He warns, and I clench my fist.

“Why? Are you gonna throw me to the wolves, too?” I shoot back.

Logan grabs my arm.

“Hesh, cool it!” He says, but I shove him away.

“No, Logan!” I turn my head to look at Cody, then bring my fist up to punch him. He stumbles back, and Logan and Slate fall silent.

Cody rubs his jaw, then looks up at me with narrowed eyes. Standing up, he spins around me, pulling me into a chokehold, then flips me to the ground.

I gasp for breath, and he glares at me.

“Listen, David. Yes, Keegan was getting attacked, but I was trying to fight off the other eight wolves that surrounded us. Better only one of us gets hurt than all of us die.” He says harshly, and my eyes widen.

I shove him off of me, then turn.

“Well, the way I work is that no one is better off hurt. When I lead my men, I fight for my life to make sure that they stay safe. Can you say the same, you ass?! Keegan is dying!!” I shout.

Standing up, I grab Keegan’s sniper rifle off of the table, and sling it over my shoulder.

Logan steps towards me.

“Hesh, what are you doing?” He asks with concern, and I stare him down, my eyes cold and harsh.

He steps back a little, eyes wide.

I glare over my shoulder at Slate and Cody, then walk down the hall, and up the stairs to the roof.

Slamming the door shut behind me, I make my way over to the edge of the roof.

I sit down on the half wall, and pull Keegan’s gun off of my back.

Staring at it, I run my fingers over the light engraving on it.

Russ, Two-Three, 2019.

I sigh, and close my eyes, grip tightening around the gun.

I swear, if Keegan dies, I'll kill Cody.

He didn't even do anything.

I thought the Elite squad was supposed to be this great group of Ghosts. So far I've been extremely underwhelmed and felt that they don't care.

We're all Ghosts.

We do anything to protect each other.

But apparently, the Shadows don't.

Gritting my teeth, I hear a howl down on the street, and I open my eyes to look down.

In the dull light of the now darkened day, I can see about five wolves prowling in the street, jumping on the cars to tilt their heads in the air, letting out long wild howls.

I raise Keegan’s gun to look through the sight, zoomed way in from the scope.

I can now clearly see one of the wolves, and I sweep along them. I look around, seeing the few dead wolves, then I see one near a car, limping with a blood spot on its haunch. I can see red staining around its mouth, and its bared teeth drip with blood, matching its claws.

My eyes widen and my chest tightens.

Keegan…..This is the wolf that attacked him. They must not have actually killed it.

My finger hovering over the trigger, I grit my teeth.

Closing in on it a bit more, I find the wolf’s head in my sight.

I pull the trigger, and I feel a satisfaction wash over me as it yelps then falls to the ground, dead.

As I take my eye away from the scope, I hear the door open.

I glance over my shoulder to see Logan standing near the stairs, staring at me.

I groan, and turn back to look down down at the street again.

“David. Please don't ignore me.” Logan says as he walks over.

I sigh heavily, my chest rising and falling.

“Logan, I just saw my friend get dragged into a broken down hospital, covered in blood and almost dead. He stared into my eyes before he went out, and I could see the fear. He's dying, Logan. Keegan is dying.”

I grip the gun tightly again, clenching my jaw.

“And the fucking Shadows aren't doing anything!” I shout grimly.

Logan sits down next to me.

“David, I get it. You and Keegan have a tight bond now. I think that's good, for both of you. But you can't just act out like this-”

“Like what?! Speaking my mind?! Logan, I’m tired of the people I love getting hurt. Most of the time it's from my mistakes. But the one time it isn't, the one time where I might actually be able to help, there isn't anything I can do, and the people who can help aren't doing jack shit! Everything always happens to me, Logan! I watched Rorke kill dad! I watched him shoot you! I had to lay helpless on that fucking beach while Rorke dragged you away! I was alone for seven months, with nothing to live for. And now, since you've been back, Rorke's stabbed you and almost killed you, then I almost killed you, and I shot Kick. I killed another Ghost. Now my best friend is dying, attacked by a ferocious wild animal. I think I should be allowed to let off a little steam!!” I yell, and Logan leans back a bit, eyes wide.

I whip my head away.

“Just….GO! Leave me alone!” I shout, then I slightly turn my head towards Logan.

“Help Keegan. At least I know you care about him.” I say with a bite, and Logan stares at me for a moment with wide eyes, then spins around to walk over to the stairs, opening the door, then slamming it shut behind him.

I let out a deep sigh, and drop my gaze down to the gun again.

I find myself staring at Keegan’s name etched into it, and my throat closes up as a tear rolls down the bridge of my nose.

Why does everyone I care about get hurt?

What did I ever do to deserve this?


LOGAN

I slowly walk down the stairs, then stop, looking back up at the door.

I sigh, and turn back down.

Hesh is really on edge. He still isn't the same.

Honestly, he hasn't been the same since I got back.

Then whatever Rorke did to him just made it worse.

Now, with what happened to Keegan, I’m so worried as to what he might do.

Walking down the hall, I look out the window, at the darkening sky, turning to a charcoal grey. Opening the door to the main room, I step in and close it behind me.

Slate turns around, and looks at me.

“Your brother cool off yet?” He says with a tone, crossing his arms, and I shake my head.

“No. He's up on the roof. He just…”

I look to the side at Cody.

“You have to understand that he and Keegan have a really strong bond now. Honestly, they used to hate each other. But now, it's like they've known each other for years. Also, Hesh is…..broken.” It pains me to say it.

Slate raises his eyebrow.

“What do you mean, ‘broken’?” He asks, and I lean against the table as I sigh heavily.

“Hesh….He and I were the ones who took on Rorke when we regained control of the Federation’s ODIN. After giving the order to hit the train we were all on, Hesh took on Rorke. Then I shot them both when Hesh held him. I barely got him out of there. When we were on the beach, we thought Rorke had died. Then he just appeared and attacked us. He broke my arm, kicked down Hesh, then had me pinned. He grabbed my leg and started to drag me off. Hesh tried to grab me, but he couldn't move after Rorke and I had both shot him. Rorke took me away from him.”

I clench my fingers on the edge of the table.

Slate and Cody look at me with wide eyes.

“Wait a minute…. you were the one that Rorke took?!” Slate says incredulously, and I slowly nod.

“Hesh had to live for seven months without me. Then when I finally came back, I was on the opposite side. Then so many things happened, and he just...broke down. Rorke used that to his advantage. He took both Hesh and I, trying to turn us. Hesh he managed to break, because his mind was just suffering so much from what happened. After he turned, Rorke captured the Ghosts, and had Hesh shoot one of them. Kick Clien. Then Hesh attacked me.” I say, and Cody's eyes widen.

"Kick's dead?...." He utters softly, and I slowly nod. Slate raises his eyebrow. 

"Your brother attacked you?!" He says disbelievingly, and I frown with a nod of my head. Slate stares at me with intense eyes as I hesitate. Taking a deep breath, I continue.

“He almost killed me, then he realized what had happened. He flipped back and was my brother again. He got us out of there. Keegan blamed him for Kick’s death, and they were at each other’s throats for a good two days. Hesh blames himself so much for what happened. Then he and Keegan talked, and now they have a strong relationship. But now that Keegan’s….well…. Hesh is just blaming himself again. He blames himself for dad’s death, too. But the rage that’s built up inside him since he was taken by Rorke worries me. He's getting more irrational, and I think that any little thing could set it off. This might have been a breaking point.” I say, and Slate takes a deep breath, turning his head slightly to look at Cody, who frowns.

“I didn't …I…..dammit…..” Cody mutters, hanging his head.

“He's right.” Cody looks up at Slate and shakes his head.

“Hesh is right. We're Ghosts. I should have kept a better eye on Keegan. We know this area a hell of a lot better than they do. And Hesh is also right about another thing. We don't put other people at risk.” He frowns.

“He's the real Ghost if you ask me.” He says quietly, and my eyes widen.

“Cody, you don't-” I start, but Slate holds up his hand, stopping me.

“Logan, I have to apologize. We put your friend at risk. We're supposed to be the Elite squad of Ghosts, but so far we've just threatened you when you first landed and almost killed one of your friends. So I’m sorry.” He says.

My eyes widen in surprise, then I nod.

“Thank you.”

Cody glances down the hall towards the door to the roof, and sighs.

“I’m gonna go talk to him.” He says, but I shake my head.

“Uh, that may not be the best idea right now. He's more than angry, he's hurt. And that makes it all the worse. Just….. give him time. I'll have Merrick go up and talk to him. Because, no offense, I think he’d probably try to kill you.” I say flatly, and Cody raises his eyebrow, then smirks.

“I don't blame him.”

He walks into the other room, and I glance to the side at Slate.

“Logan, your brother may be hurt and seem broken, but as I hear from Merrick, he's the strongest man he's ever known aside from Keegan. Been through hell and still standing. So take care of him.” He says, and I nod, turning back towards the benches.

I sit down and close my eyes, leaning my head back against the wall, sighing.

I open my eyes, and tilt my head forward a little, opening one of the pockets on my jacket.

I pull out the pair of dog tags, and I raise them up to see them clearly.

Elias T. Walker.

I hold them tightly, closing my eyes as I lean my head on my hand holding the tags.

Dad, I wish you were here now.

Keegan needs you.

Hesh needs you.

I need you.

Chapter Text

HESH

I sit and lean against the vent next to the edge of the roof, the raindrops that have just started to fall running down the side of my face in cold streaks.

Clouds cover the sky, and the wolves howl from the street below.

Keegan’s rifle lays in my lap, my hand resting on it, the other holding it tightly.

I sigh as the rain grows heavier, and my pants turn a darker shade as the water seeps through them. My jacket sticks to me, and I close my eyes, leaning my head back on the edge of the vent, tilting my head up to the sky.

More rain splashes onto my face, and the cold of it matches my heart now.

I've done so many things wrong.

I couldn't save dad.

I couldn't save Logan.

I killed Kick.

I almost killed my brother, and I just attacked another Ghost.

Now my best friend is bleeding to death, and I’m up here on the fucking roof.

I’m not a real Ghost.

How could I be?

I screw so much up, and I just run off when I can't deal with something.

That or I just start swinging.

But still….why do the people I love the most get hurt the most?

What did I ever do?

 

Think hard. Maybe you'll get somewhere.

 

The rain drips down my face, masking the tears that join it.

“Why….” I mutter quietly, opening my eyes to feel the sting of the rain in them and see the dark dreary sky.

“Why me?”

The door behind me opens, and I tilt my head back a little to look upside down a bit, trying to see who it is.

“Hesh.”

I sigh, and drop my head back to its original position, closing my eyes.

“What do you want, Merrick?” I ask coldly, and I hear him walk over to me, the gravel on the roof crunching under his boots.

“You should come inside.” He says, and I take a deep breath, open my eyes and tilt my head to the side to see him standing above me.

“Why?” I ask with a bite, and Merrick sighs.

“Because you can't just keep doing this. Segregating yourself from us. Ghosts are supposed to stick together-”

“WELL, MAYBE I’M JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO BE A GHOST!” I shout, snapping my head up, and Merrick stops, looking at me with wide eyes.

“Hesh, don't say that…” He tries to repair the now broken peace.

 

There. Now he knows what you really feel. Well done.

 

Taking a deep breath, I try not to scream at the voice in my head. I clench my hand around Keegan’s gun and grit my teeth.

“Merrick, I've messed up so many things and failed so many people...I can't deal with that. I run instead of facing my problems. If I get angry, I either run or start swinging. Like earlier. Did Cody tell you I punched him?” I ask harshly, and Merrick sighs.

“Yes. But Hesh, you don't mess up. You're a great Ghost. Elias would be-”

“MY FATHER IS DEAD!!!” I yell, and Merrick steps back.

“I don't care what you think! People keep saying ‘Elias would be proud’. How proud can he be?! I couldn't even save him from being killed. I didn't kill Rorke, I couldn't save Logan from him, I shot Kick, I almost killed my brother, and now my friend got attacked by a wolf. And throughout it all, I couldn't even keep a straight head! I always flip out. I can't stand it anymore, Merrick!” I shout, and he looks at me with sad eyes, the rain running down his face and dripping from his chin.

He sighs.

“Hesh, I’m sorry.” He says sympathetically, and I turn my head away, looking down at Keegan’s gun.

“Then leave me alone,” I say with sadness and anger both masked in my voice. 

Merrick hesitates, then I hear his boots crunching over the gravel again, then the door shuts.

I let out a deep breath, and pull my knees to my chest. Leaning my head on my arms on top of my knees, I think about what will happen next.

What if Keegan dies?

What if the Elites now want me out?

What if Logan gets hurt?

I can't deal with any more of my friends or family dying.

I just can't.

Any more, and I can feel that it'll tip me over the edge.

That angry, rage-filled man Rorke created will come out, and then I might hurt Logan, I might hurt Keegan, I might hurt Merrick, I might hurt any of the Ghosts.

Merrick said I’m a great Ghost.

But I don't think I've been a Ghost since Rorke took me.

Sure, I came back from that flip, but it's almost like I never left.

I still feel trapped.

Trapped inside my own mind, all of my guilt and fear and hate crushing down on me.

 

That's because that's exactly what's happening. You can't stop it. You know that.

 

I sigh as another tear rolls down my face.

Nothing to take it away, now.

The two people who could do that are now afraid of me and dying.

I know Logan is scared of what's happening to me, and how I've changed.

And Keegan is dying, bleeding to death.

The two people who actually made things better.

I pushed Logan away.

I yelled at him.

I’m his older brother.

I should be taking care of him, not him having to take care of me.

I've failed since he got back.

He almost died twice, and then I tried to kill him myself.

Brother of the year goes to me, for sure.

My family has been torn apart by the seams, and recklessly sewn back together, but the thread is splitting apart again.

I’m losing him.

I’m losing Logan.

Pushing him away.

Pushing everyone away.

I’m the seam that burst and ripped apart the rest of the team.

I've screwed up everything.

Sighing, tears run down my face as the icy cold rain soaks my jacket, and drips down my forehead through my hair.

I can feel my face paint running off, leaving black and grey streaks on my face.

The Ghost painted on my face is now gone.

Good.

That's what I deserve.


KEEGAN

“What's your name?” I raise my head and look straight at Captain Merrick.

“Sergeant Keegan Russ, sir,” I answer, and he nods.

“Age?”

"Twenty years old.”

Merrick looks up to meet my eyes and leans against the wall.

“I've been told you're the best tactical soldier there is in the Ghosts. Best sniper, too.” He says, and I smirk.

“I'd like to think so. The sniping part is right, though. Record hits.” I say, and Merrick nods.

I sigh and roll my eyes. 

"Merrick, is this really necessary? You already know everything about me." I say with irritation.

Merrick glares at me.

"Keegan, just shut up and answer my questions." He orders. I sigh. He frowns, then takes a deep breath.

“Well. What do you know about what the Ghosts Stalkers do?”

I shrug.

“I know that they're the best of the best. Take the missions no one else would dream of. High risk. Big targets.” I say, and he nods, crossing his arms.

“Russ, I know that you have quite a bit of attitude.”

I smirk.

“I only have an attitude when there needs to be one. Someone’s stupid, I’m gonna treat them as such. I don't put up with shit. But, someone pisses me off, they're gonna get a load of hell from me.” I say, and he raises his eyebrow.  

"And you're a smart ass young man." He chuckles, making me frown.

"Yeah? I'll be your 'smart ass young man' in this war, Thomas." 

I emphasize his name to anger him, but he just laughs.

“Good. Now, why do you want to join Stalker?” He asks, and I frown, then sigh.

“Merrick, you should know why I’m joining you. I was part of the Hawks. Everyone knows what happened to us.” I say with pain.

Merrick nods.

“Yes. So, you want to join Stalker?” He asks, and I nod. Merrick looks at me, then grins.

“Welcome aboard.”

 

“He's dropping, Spike! What do we do?!”

“Try to stop the bleeding. He isn't going to hold on much longer…”

“I should have got to him sooner-”

“Gavin, don't do that to yourself. It wasn't your fault.”

“I just...he's our little brother....what if he dies, Spike?”

“DON'T SAY THAT! He's not going to….”

“C’mon, Keegan…”

 

“KEEGAN! Cover our six!” Merrick yells, and I nod.

Turning around, I shoot the Federation soldiers following us.

Taking out the three of them, I spin back around and run after Merrick and Ajax.

“Merrick, where's our extraction?!” I shout as we run through the thick trees.

“Almost here! Radioing in!” He yells and puts his finger to his earpiece.

“Scarecrow, do you copy?! This is Stalker-Two, needing extraction!” He shouts, and I hear shouting behind us. I glance to the side at Ajax.

“We got more incoming!” Ajax yells, and we turn to fire.

“Left side, left side!” I shout as more Fed soldiers jump down into the gulley from small ledges.

“They've got us outnumbered six to one!” Ajax says, and I groan as I shoot.

“I can see that, Ajax!” I shout with annoyance.

“We're almost at the point!” Merrick shouts as we near the treeline. I shake my head.

“Good! We need the support!” Ajax and I both turn back around and sprint towards the edge of the trees, into the open field.

A helicopter waits, and a ladder drops, hanging for us to grab.

“Go!” I shout as we run to it.

Merrick grabs the ladder, climbing up, then Ajax, and I grab the last rung barely as the chopper lifts off, with us hanging tightly to the ladder, watching the Federation soldiers shrink as we fly away.

I take a deep breath and look up at Merrick.

"All things considered, that went better than expected,” I say, still regaining my breath, and he nods.

“Could have been worse.” He says with a shrug, and I nod. Ajax groans.

“You two are crazy.” He remarks as we slowly climb the ladder to get into the chopper.

As I finally reach the top, a hand extends to grab mine. It pulls me in, and I fall onto the floor of the heli.

Standing up, I pull my mask down and look at my commander.

“Elias, the Feds are growing in numbers,” I say, and he pulls off his mask, his blond hair sticking up a bit.

“I know. But at least we got what we came for. When we get back to the base, we'll go over it. Good work, men.” He says, and I nod.

Merrick stands up from the small seat he was sitting on and looks at Elias.

“When are you going to tell Hesh and Logan?” He asks, and Ajax and I share a glance, then look to Elias.

He sighs.

“When they're ready. They still have a lot of tests to pass. They're not ready to be Ghosts yet.”

I shrug.

“But you've made them into good soldiers, Elias. They take after you. Hesh is a great leader, and Logan follows in his footsteps.”

Elias nods.

“They may be great soldiers, but they're not ready yet, Keegan. You became a Ghost when you were eighteen. You were ready to take on that responsibility. They aren't yet. They'll make good Ghosts. But until then, let's just hope that they keep going.”

I turn around and look out the window.

Elias’s sons are good soldiers. I'd fight beside them any day.

Hesh is one of the strongest men I know, and his brother takes after him so much.

Everything Logan knows, he learned from Hesh.

Elias showed him, but it was Hesh who taught him.

He's a great older brother. Responsible, smart, and loyal. And, most importantly, caring.

The love he has for his brother is unlike any I've ever seen.

He and Logan make a great team. And I know that one day, they'll make amazing Ghosts.

 

“SHIT! He’s flatlining!”

“Get Match!”

“MATCH! WE NEED HELP!!”

“Oh, shit!”

“What do we do?!”

“Spike, grab the defibrillator. Gavin, get those pads ready on his chest.”

“Okay, one...two...three...CLEAR!”

“Still nothing!”

“No...nonononono…..”

“Spike, calm down…..”

“CLEAR!”

“Wait,... We have a heartbeat!”

“He’s back! Get those IVs ready, and get him back into sync. Stop the bleeding, and then make sure he doesn't go into arrest again.”

“It's okay, Keegan…..we're gonna watch out for you.”

 


LOGAN

“When do you think Hesh is gonna come down from the roof?” Match asks me, looking down the hall towards the stairs.

I shake my head and sigh.

“I honestly don't know. He's been up there for almost 36 hours. Just sitting there. Any time anyone goes up there, he yells at them to leave him alone.” I cross my arms and hang my head, leaning against the edge of a table.

“I’m scared, Match. I don't know what's happening to him.” Looking up at Match, his light green eyes meet mine.

“Is what he said bothering you?” He asks, and I raise my eyebrow, uncrossing my arms as I lean them back on the table.

“What do you mean?” I ask, and Match’s eyes widen.

“You don't know what he said?” He asks, and I shake my head.

“What did he say?” I aks with growing anticipation.

Match takes a deep breath, and a sorrowful look crosses his face.

I frown, suddenly concerned.

“Match…..”

He closes his eyes and leans against the counter.

“He said….He said he's not good enough to be a Ghost.”

My eyes widen, and I stare at Match with disbelief.

“He said that? Why?!” I question and Match shrugs.

“I don't know. Ask Merrick. He's the one who Hesh told it to.”

I nod.

“Where's Merrick?” Match thumbs towards the med ward.

“With Keegan. Now that Keegan’s stable, do you think Hesh will come down? To see him, I mean?” He asks, and I shake my head.

“Again, I don't know. All I know is that I feel like I've lost my brother. I already lost my dad, I can't lose David, too.” I say, standing up and slowly walking out of the room.

Match puts his hand on my shoulder as I pass by, and I turn my head to meet his eyes.

“Just keep hoping, Logan. As long as you're there for him, you won't lose him.” He says, and I nod.

“Thanks.”

He lets go of my shoulder, and I walk down the hall to Keegan’s room.

Upon opening the door, I see Merrick sitting next to the hospital bed, and Keegan sitting up talking to him, a bloody bandage covering his shoulder and another blood-soaked bandage wrapped around his side.

They both look up as I close the door, and I smirk, meeting Keegan’s eyes.

“So. Guess you're not dead.” I say, and Keegan shrugs, followed by a wince from the action.

“Not yet.” He says, his voice hoarse and quiet, skin pale.

Merrick frowns slightly, then sighs.

“How's Hesh?” He asks, and Keegan raises his eyebrow.

“What do you mean? Is Hesh hurt?” He asks, concerned.

I bite my lip and shake my head.

“Not exactly…..”

 

Chapter Text

CODY

I look down the hall towards the stairwell, and I sigh.

“I need to talk to him,” I say, and Match and Spike look up at me.

“Uh, NO,” Match says, and I turn around.

“Why?! I need to apologize! I feel horrible!” I say harshly, and Slate turns around.

“Cody, Logan said that Hesh is super unstable right now. You heard him! He's about ready to kill you!” He says, and I shake my head.

“Slate, I honestly don't give two shits right now. I need to talk to Hesh, and I’m going to.” I start down the hall, and Spike calls after me.

“You know, if you don't come down in less than half an hour, we'll assume you're dead.” He snickers and I roll my eyes.

“Thanks for the compassion, asshole,” I mutter, and I hear Spike and Match laugh as I open the door.

“No problem!”

I walk up the stairs slowly, pausing about halfway up.

What am I even gonna say?

It's my fault that his best friend was almost killed.

I take a deep breath and open the door to the roof.

The early sunlight shines down on a shadow on the far wall, leaning against a vent.

Slowly, I walk over, trying not to make too much noise on the gravel.

I can see Hesh’s head hanging down, and as I get closer, I can see him holding Keegan’s rifle tightly as if it were the most important thing in the world.

I stop and sigh. Taking a step forward, I kneel down next to him and hesitate.

“....Hesh?” I say quietly, and I put my hand on his shoulder.

His head immediately snaps up, and I jump back a little in surprise.

He meets my eyes, and his own widen, then narrow in hate.

“What the hell do you want?!” He growls harshly, and I sigh.

“I came to say I’m sorry,” I say, and Hesh’s eyes widen, softening a bit.

“You...what?” He asks softly, and I close my eyes.

“You were right. It was my job to keep them safe. We know this area much better than you. I should have kept a better eye on Keegan. It's my fault.” I say with guilt, and Hesh sits up a little, still staring at me, his brown eyes searching my face.

“I know how much Keegan means to you, and I’m sorry.”

Hesh’s eyes widen, then he puts his hands on my shoulders.

“Is he okay? Is he even still alive?! Is Keegan-”

The radio on his belt beeps, then a voice crackles through.

“Hesh…..Hesh, are you there?” It asks, and Hesh’s eyes widen.

“Keegan…” He drops me and fumbles to get his radio off of his belt. Immediately he holds it up and flicks the line.

“Keegan!” He shouts, looking up at me, and I hear a faint chuckle.

“Yeah, hey. If you could come down from the roof, that’d be great.” He says, his voice gravelly.

Hesh’s eyes soften completely, and a smile breaks out on his face.

“Of course.” He says, and I grin.

“I'll be right there.”

He says, then he flicks off the radio, clips it back to his belt, and stands up, slinging Keegan’s rifle over his shoulder.

He offers his hand to me, and I raise my eyebrow, then take it. He lifts me to my feet and grins.

“Sorry.” He says with a sheepish smile. I nod.

“Me too.”

I nod towards the door.

“Let's go. Your best friend is waiting.”


HESH

I run down the stairs, with Cody following behind me. I sprint past Match, Gavin, and Spike, who stare at me with wide eyes.

“Holy shit, he actually came down from the roof,” Match mutters, but I pay him no mind.

Speeding down the hall, I screech to a halt in front of one of the hospital rooms.

I stare in with wide eyes at the young man wrapped in bloody bandages, and Keegan smirks.

“Hey.” He says, and I run to the side of his bed, then embrace him tightly. He groans a little, but then pats my back, hugging me back.

“I was scared I'd lost you,” I say quietly, and Keegan shakes his head as I pull away.

“Hesh, don't worry. I'm not going anywhere that soon.” He says with a small grin, and I let out a deep sigh of relief.

“I just….you finally found the Hawks, you were happy, you and I are actually friends now. I care about you. I couldn't lose another one of my friends.” I say sadly, and Keegan sits up a little, meeting my eyes with the blue of his.

“David.”

I look up, and he sighs.

“I know how you feel. But as long as we're all here, as long as you and I have each other’s backs, we won't have to worry about that.” He says, and I nod.

Keegan then gives me an odd look, both humorous and questioning.

“So, Logan told me you've just been up on the roof for the past day and a half?” He asks curiously, and I stop, opening my mouth to answer, then closing it, hanging my head dejectedly.

“Um...yeah….I have been. I didn't want to be near anyone while I just sorta thought things over.” I say slowly, and Keegan nods then raises his eyebrow with a smirk as he sees the gun on my back.

“And you had my sniper rifle with you?” He asks with a grin, and I stop, turn my head slightly to see the gun slung over my shoulder in the corner of my eye, then I look back to him.

“Well, yeah. It...it was like having you with me. So I could kinda...you know….calm down.” I say with a sigh, taking it off my shoulder and handing it to him. Keegan takes it and nods understandingly.

Logan walks up behind me and elbows me a little.

I turn to face him, and he frowns, raising his eyebrow. I stare back at him curiously.

“What?” I ask, and Merrick stands up, staring me down.

“We need to talk.” He says to me, then he glances at Keegan, who matches my expression of confusion.

NOW.” He says authoritatively, and I catch Keegan’s worried eye.

Then Logan leads me out of the room, Merrick closing Keegan’s door behind us.

I feel an odd sense of dread in my stomach as Logan and Merrick lead me down to the rest of the Ghosts, all waiting for me.

Slate stands with his hands on his hips, and Gavin has his arms crossed. Cody and Match lean against the table, and Spike sits on the counter.

I look around with wide, confused eyes.

“What's going on?” I ask with concern, and Spike raises his eyebrow.

"We could ask you the same thing."

My expression of confusion intensifies, and Logan sighs then pushes me into a chair. Merrick walks to stand in front of me, then he crosses his arms.

“Hesh, I want to know what's going on with you.” He says harshly, and I raise my eyebrow.

“What...what do you mean?” I ask cautiously, although inside I understand perfectly what is about to be questioned.

Slate steps towards me a little, eyes cold.

“Merrick told us what happened at the campsite, and Logan told us about what happened before when you two were on the run. What's going on?” He asks, staring me down. I glance up at Logan with hurt eyes.

“You told them?!” I shout, and he cringes, then meets my eyes with pain.

“I’m sorry. I had to. I’m worried about you.” He says caringly, and I sigh.

Merrick groans.

“Hesh, you're on edge, you're erratic, you're angry, and you're just not yourself. It's gotten worse since you came back from Rorke's imprisoning you. What’s going on?” He asks, then he crouches down in front of me, staring into my eyes.

“What the hell happened to you?” He asks, and I swing my gaze around the room, looking at all of the Ghosts who stare at me, awaiting an answer.

I sigh, leaning forward to rest my arms on my legs and close my eyes, finally being forced to retell the experience of Hell I've been trying so hard to forget.


I stand in the middle of the room, eyes closed, trying to relax my mind. I can't let anything take it away from me.

 

David, stop fighting it.

 

I shake my head, and squeeze my eyes shut, trying to forget the unimaginable pain that has a tight hold on my body.

“I have to! I can't lose myself!” I yell, holding my head in my hands, falling back against the wall.

 

You're going to turn. You know you are.

 

I clench my fist, spinning to slam it on the wall. I slam my fist on the wall, again and again, the uneven rock long ago having created a deep cut in my hand dripping blood that runs down my arm.

“NO! I WON'T TURN AGAINST MY BROTHER! OR THE GHOSTS!!!” I scream, but the voice in my head just chuckles.

 

You mean you don't hate them? David, deep down you know you do. Having to follow orders all the time, having to take care of your brother every waking second. Aren't you sick of it?

 

My head pounds, and I stand up, spinning around in the room, grabbing my head.

“NO! I’m a soldier! I’m a Ghost! That's what I do! And Logan is my brother! My little brother! I’m responsible for him! I have to take care of him!!!” I breathe heavily, punching the wall again.

My knuckles drip with blood on both hands, and I feel a tear run down my cheek.

I look up at the ceiling, the hole leading to outside, and the metal grate covering it. I've tried so many times to climb up to it or jump up to it, but the wall is curved too sharply, and it's too high to jump.

Turning around, I look at the thick metal plate over where the grate was. The grate that leads to Logan’s cell. They cut us off. All I want is to talk to him!

I run over, and drop to my knees, prying at it with my fingers, although I've already attempted multiple times. I bang on the wall with my hand.

“LOGAN!! LOGAN!!” I shout, then a burning in my neck makes me scream, falling to the ground.

 

“David, do I need to come down there?”

 

I lift my head and grit my teeth. Standing up slowly, I raise my eyes to the security camera in the corner.

“No. Fuck off,” I growl, then I turn and kick at the grate again.

Another burn makes me fall again, and I squeeze my eyes tight in pain. Rorke injected something into my neck, and now whenever he deems fit, he’ll activate it, sending an excruciating pain through me.

 

“Okay, that’s it.”

 

The pain stops, and I hear silence. Then the metallic click of the lock makes my eyes widen, and I scramble to my feet. The door opens, and Rorke steps in with two guards behind him. The door closes behind him, and he crosses his arms.

“I thought I told you to leave the grate alone.” He says coolly, and I shake my head, glaring at him.

“NO! I want to see my brother! LET ME SEE LOGAN!” I yell, and Rorke sighs, glancing to the side, then back at me.

“Logan’s gone, David.” He says, and my eyes widen.

“What?...what do you mean, ‘gone’?!” I shout, and Rorke shakes his head.

“He left you. So did the Ghosts.” He says, and I shake my head.

“NO, THEY DIDN'T!” I scream, my heart starting to pound.

 

He's right. They left you. You have nothing to live for, Hesh.

 

“SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP!!” I scream, grabbing my head. Rorke looks to the side at one of the guards, and nods. He walks over to me, but I steady myself, then grab him.

Flipping around, I snap his arm, and he wails in pain. I kick the back of his knee, forcing him to the ground. Pulling the knife from his vest, I plunge it into his chest. He struggles against me as I twist the knife, then I rip it up to his heart. He suddenly relaxes, his head dropping down.

I let go of him, dropping him to the floor. Looking up at Rorke, I see him looking at me with a straight face. I clench my fist as the other guard starts towards me. He grabs me and holds my hands behind my back, but I slam my head back into his, making him stumble. I spin around him and grab him in a chokehold. He chokes as I tighten my grip, then I narrow my eyes and twist my arm, snapping his neck.

 

Your rage is your strength. Use it.

 

My eyes widen, then I let go of the man’s body, stumbling back. I realize what just happened, what I just did, and Rorke smiles.

“Your anger is taking over, David. You can't fight it forever. You're all alone in the world. Nothing to live for.”

 

Nothing.

 

I hold my hand to my head, then close my eyes.

“LEAVE ME ALONE!!” I scream, and Rorke steps towards me.

“David, I need you to tell me. Are you ready to take out the Ghosts?” He asks, and I look up at him wide-eyed.

“What?! NO! I AM a Ghost!!! I won't kill them!!” I yell, and Rorke sighs.

“Well, I know I can change that.” He turns towards the door, then looks at the two dead guards. He grabs them both by the feet and drags them out. He steps back in the doorway and stares at me.

“I'll be back soon, David.” He says, then he slams the door behind him. I let out a deep sigh, and close my eyes.

 

I think that went well.

 

“NO, IT DIDN'T!! I KILLED TWO PEOPLE!!!!”

 

Yes. On your own. You flipped. Stopped fighting it. That's what you need. Use your anger. It's your advantage over everything. He can help you.

 

I shake my head.

“NO! Rorke just wants me to hurt the Ghosts! He wants me to turn on LOGAN! I can't do that!!” I yell, and the voice sighs.

 

Yes, you can. You know you want to. They all deserve it. Logan is a pain in the ass, Merrick’s a drill sergeant, and Keegan is an asshole. And then there's Kick. Man, does he ever get on your nerves. You want your own life.

 

I stop for a second and open my eyes.

“My own life…..” I say softly, then I shake my head violently.

“NO! No, I don't want that! I want a life with my brother and my friends! I want-”

 

You want them dead.

 

My eyes widen, and I freeze.

“I don't….I….” I fall to my knees, and my eyes are wide.

“No….I…” Thunder fills my head as the voice grows stronger.

 

Stop fighting me, David. You can't forever. And soon your rage will take over, and you'll be mine.

 

I tense up, and fear fills my heart.

“NO! I won't give in to you!” I shout as I grab my head.

“I won't let you make me hurt Logan! I love him too much! Don't make me do that!” I yell, and a laugh echoes through my head.

 

Soon you'll be mine, David. And you'll watch as I make you murder your little brother, and as the light leaves his eyes. You're gone, David. The anger that fills you will tear you apart. Hesh is gone. And he's not coming back.


 

“Hesh?” I look up, and I see Logan looking at me with wide eyes, the Ghosts behind him eyebrows raised.

I shake myself a little, blinking my eyes.

“I...I can't.” I say straightly, and Match raises his eyebrow.

“You can't what?” He asks, and I shake my head again.

“I just….I just can't.”

Slate glances to the side at Cody, breathing a heavy sigh.

“You can't what?!” He asks sternly, and I clench my fist. My eyes shoot open, and I glare at him.

“I CAN'T TELL YOU!!!” I yell grimly, and everyone’s eyes widen, and Logan takes a step back.

“Hesh…” He says quietly, and I take a deep breath.

“I Can't. Tell you.” I say harshly, and Gavin moves to stand next to Merrick. Leaning close to him, he starts to whisper.

“What do you think is wrong with-”

“DON'T THINK I DON'T HEAR YOU!!” I yell brutally, and they snap their heads back to me.

I glare at them, seething with anger. I bolt to my feet, shoving the chair back, clattering it to the floor.

“Don't think that I don't know what this is about! You still don't trust me! wouldn't! After what happened, after I killed another Ghost? How could you trust me?! But trying to hide it is making it worse! If you really don't trust me that much, throw me out! I don't think I’m fit to be a Ghost, anyway! I screw everything up, so why not just get rid of me?!” I burst out, and everyone stares at me in wide-eyed silence.

Logan steps forward.

“David, we do trust-”

“Don't lie to my face, Logan. I know how you all feel about me now. Even Keegan. Yes, we talked, and yes, we're friends now, but I know that even he doesn't completely trust me. Even you, Logan.” I painfully state, meeting his eyes.

I sigh, staring deep into the blue.

“You're scared of me now. Don't think that I didn't notice it.” I say sadly, and Logan’s eyes change to sorrow.

“David, I-” He stops himself, then looks around at the other Ghosts, as if he were silently asking for help.

I sigh and turn away.

“Logan, you know that I care about you. Which is why I have to leave.” I say, and I hear him take a short breath as if he were about to cry.

“Hesh, you don't have to go.” Slate tries to convince.

“Stay with us. We can help.” Gavin offers, and I shake my head.

“No, you can't.”

Merrick sighs.

“Hesh, stop. You need to think this through. You can't run off again.” He says, and I spin around.

“Why?! I can't go off on my own?! I have to be at your whim every second?!” I yell, and Merrick’s eyes widen.

“That's not what he meant,” Cody says, and I glare at him.

“I don't care. I can't deal with this anymore!” I throw my hands up in the air.

“EVERYTHING! EVERYTHING BAD ALWAYS HAPPENS TO ME!! I HAD TO WATCH AS MY LITTLE BROTHER WAS SHOT AND MY DAD WAS MURDERED!! THEN I LAID HELPLESS WHILE RORKE DRAGGED MY BROTHER AWAY FROM ME!! FOR SEVEN MONTHS I HAD ABSOLUTELY NO REASON TO GO ON, NOTHING TO LIVE FOR!! NOW RORKE CORRUPTED ME, AND I CAN'T EVEN BE TRUSTED BY MY OWN TEAM. MY OWN BROTHER IS AFRAID OF ME!! I’M DONE WITH THIS SHIT!” I kick the chair across the room, narrowly missing Spike, who jumps back a little, then looks up at me with wide eyes.

Every Ghost just stares at me in silence, and I grit my teeth.

Spinning around, I start to walk away, then I hear footsteps running after me.

“HESH, STOP!” Logan yells as he grabs my shoulder. I clench my fists, grab his arm and flip him around under me, slamming him to the floor.

The Ghosts all jump up, alert.

I glare down at my little brother, who looks up at me with wide, scared eyes.

“I told you. Just leave me alone!” I order through gritted teeth.

“Hesh, let him go!” Merrick says quickly, as he and Spike run towards me.

I take a deep breath, still holding Logan down.

“WHY CAN'T YOU JUST ACCEPT THE FACT THAT I’M NOT A GHOST!! I DON'T DESERVE TO BE ONE!!!” I yell as Logan struggles under me.

I glare down at him and swing my fist to punch him. He groans, blood running from his nose.

Suddenly, a hand connects with the side of my head, and I let go of Logan as I fall to the side, groaning as I see Match staring at me, hand raised.

My eyes widen, and I go to get up, then a shadow crosses over me.

“I’m sorry, Hesh,” Merrick says, then a boot kicks me square in my face, sending me falling into unconsciousness.


MERRICK

Logan struggles to get up, looking at Hesh, lying unconscious on the floor. He looks up at me with wide eyes, and I sigh.

Everyone slowly walks over, and Match crouches down next to him.

“Okay, what the hell do we do now? He's not him anymore.” He says, and I shake my head.

“I don't know.”

I glance down at Logan, then offer him my hand. He takes it, and I pull him to his feet. He wipes his nose with the back of his hand, leaving a red streak.

“You okay?” I ask as Logan just stares at Hesh.

“Logan.”

He looks up at me and sighs.

“I was worried about him before. Now I’m just straight up scared. What's happening to my brother, Merrick?” He asks desperately, and sympathy fills my eyes.

“I’m sorry Logan. I don't know.”

Slate crosses his arms, glancing down at Hesh.

“We have to keep an eye on him. And I don't mean just like normal.” He says, and I raise my eyebrow.

“Well, then what the hell do you mean?” I ask, and Cody shrugs, meeting Slate’s eyes.

“We lock him up.” He says casually, and Logan’s eyes widen as do my own.

“You're not locking up my brother!” Logan defends, and I shake my head.

“You can't be serious. He's a Ghost, like us. We take care of each other, and-”

“The only way to take care of him, and take care of ourselvesis to lock him up. Then he can't hurt any of us again.” Slate says, and Logan clenches his fist.

“Stop talking about him as if he were some sort of psychopath!” He shouts, and Match looks up.

“You're saying he's not?” He asks, and everyone goes silent, as we suddenly realize the seriousness of the situation.

Gavin steps forward.

“He's not exactly a psychopath, per se, but he is close. He’s losing it, and we don't know why. He already killed a Ghost, stabbed his brother, attacked Cody, barricaded himself on the roof, and now attacked Logan. That's not exactly normal.” He says as I look down at Hesh again, and I sigh seeing his seemingly peaceful face.

Spike crouches down next to Match.

“Where would we put him?” He asks, and I flinch a little thinking of Hesh being locked up.

Slate looks down the hall.

“There's an empty room that was actually a room for the more unstable patients. No windows, no anything, and a security camera on the wall. It'd be perfect.” He says, and Logan looks up at me, meeting the same expression of hurt.

I sigh and close my eyes.

“Fine. Cody, you and Match bring him down there.” I say dismally.

Logan’s eyes widen, and he shoves me.

“What are you doing?! We have to help him! We can't just lock Hesh in a room!” He shouts, and I hold him by his shoulders, looking deep into his eyes.

“Logan, I don't like this any more than you do. But as long as Hesh is unstable like this, he's a threat to all of us. This is honestly the best move we can make right now.” I say, and Logan looks at me with wide eyes, a tear running down his face.

He shoves my hands away and runs down the hall towards Keegan’s room.

Match and Cody lift Hesh up, and I watch in agony as they carry him down the hall.

Gavin puts his hand on my shoulder.

“Merrick, we'll figure this out.” He says, and I nod.

“I know. It just still feels wrong.” I say with a sigh.

I slowly walk down the hall towards Keegan’s room, and I stop in the doorway.

Logan is collapsed in a chair, his head in his hands, crying, and Keegan sits up on the edge of the bed, rubbing Logan’s back.

I sigh, and Keegan looks up, meeting my eyes.

“Is it true? Did Hesh just….” He trails off, and I nod.

“Yeah…” I say quietly, closing the door behind me as I walk into the room.

Logan looks up, eyes red, and he wipes his nose again, some blood still present.

“Did they….are they….locking him up?” He asks, choked up.

I nod slightly.

“Yes. Match and Cody are.” I say sullenly.

Keegan sighs, and I sit down next to him on the bed.

“What do we do?” He asks me, glancing to the side to meet my eyes.

I lean my arms down on my legs and sigh.

“I have no idea.”

 

 

Chapter Text

HESH

I groan as my eyes groggily open, and I feel a pain in my head.

Ugh, it hurts. I go to rub my face, but I feel a restraint on my hand.

My eyes open fully, and I raise my eyebrow as I look down. Handcuffs trap my hands, and I frown, gritting my teeth.

“Are you shitting me?....” I mutter, and I look around, sitting up. I’m in an entirely empty room with white walls, a heavy door on one wall, and no windows.

I suddenly realize what's going on, and I groan.

 

They locked you up. Feels familiar, doesn't it?

 

My eyes widen upon hearing that.

It's back.

I sigh, and I lean my head back against the wall.

“Really? You don't say.” I retort, and the voice chuckles.

 

You didn't tell me to go away. So I’m guessing you either are finally accepting me or have nothing better to do.

 

I close my eyes and grit my teeth.

“I am NOT accepting you, nor will I ever. I just….I know that you're not going to go away. I try so hard to ignore you, but I can't.” I say with a sigh.

 

That's because I am you, David. The Hesh that the Ghosts once knew is gone.

 

Looking down at the cuffs on my wrists, I realize it's right.

I’m not the same man.

Logan is scared of me.

The Ghosts don't trust me. That's why they locked me in this cell.

And I’m losing myself. Clenching my fists, I take a deep breath.

“I just want everything to go back to the way it was,” I say wistfully, and the voice sighs.

 

Well, at this point, that's not going to happen. It can't be undone, David. You can't take back the times that you almost killed your brother.

 

My eyes widen, and I feel my chest tighten.

 

Or the time you shot Kick…

 

I squeeze my eyes shut, trying to ignore him.

“Shut up!” I say harshly.

 

Or the fact that you couldn't save your father…

 

I try to calm myself, taking a deep breath.

“Shut! Up!” I hiss again.

 

Or save Logan from Rorke. You can't make him not fear you now. You can't take back all the things you've done against him. He's lost you, David. He's not getting you back.

 

My eyes shoot open, and I narrow them in hate.

“I SAID SHUT UP!!” I yell, slamming my hand on the ground, the handcuffs rattling. I breathe heavily, and stand up, stumbling as I feel lightheaded a bit.

I steady myself, then look around again. There's absolutely nothing in the room.

My eye catches a slight glint in the corner near the ceiling, and I look closely to see it's a camera.

I sigh and narrow my eyes.

“Hey, Merrick? You're a dick.” I say, gesturing to the room.

“Also, were the handcuffs really fucking necessary?” I growl, pulling them.

I heave a heavy sigh, then turn around.

 

You know they're constantly watching you, right? They're judging you. Thinking about how you're going insane.

 

I sigh, rolling my eyes.

“Will you just LEAVE ME ALONE?!” I groan, then lean against the wall.

“All I want is to be back to normal,” I say quietly, and a laugh echoes in my head.

 

Normal?! This is normal for you now, David! There's no going back!!! You're not a Ghost!

 

My chest tightens, and I close my eyes.

“No. I’m not,” I say dismally. Feeling an emptiness in my chest, I sigh.

“I was never a Ghost. I couldn't help dad. I couldn't protect Logan. I killed Kick…. I hurt Logan...” I feel a rage building in my chest, and I clench my fist.

“GODDAMMIT!!!” I spin around and slam my fist into the wall, creating a gash on my knuckles that drips blood down my hand. I breathe heavily, then grit my teeth again.

“I CAN'T DO IT!! I CAN'T DO ANYTHING!!! NOTHING!!” I slam my fist against the wall again, drawing more blood.

“EVERYTHING I'VE EVER LOVED OR WORKED FOR IS GONE!! I TRY SO HARD!! BUT I ALWAYS FAIL!! I HATE IT!!” I scream, slamming both fists against the wall, making both my hands bleed, leaving a red stain on the white wall.

Gritting my teeth, I close my eyes as a tear rolls down the side of my face.

 

You hate it?

 

“YES!!! I hate being a failure!! But it's not like anything’s going to change!! I failed dad!! I failed the Ghosts!! I failed Logan!!! My little brother!! The one person I care about more than anything in this entire world!!! AND I SCREWED IT UP!!!” I scream, more tears running down my face.

 

So what do you feel now?

 

I stop and open my eyes a little. A hopelessness washes over me, and I lean my forehead against the wall.

“I hate everything,” I say desolately.

 

Everything?

 

A darkness washes over me, and I narrow my eyes.

“EVERYTHING!!!” I shoot back, and I spin to face the camera, narrowing my eyes.

“I HATE ALL OF YOU!! I HATE IT!! YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND!!! YOU NEVER UNDERSTAND!! YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE HATED!! TO NOT BE TRUSTED!! TO BE FEARED BY THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE!! YOU ALL BETRAYED ME!! LEFT ME!! HURT ME!!” I scream with a harsh tone. I feel anger rising in me, but loneliness joins it, along with unbearable pain.

I take a deep breath, looking away from the camera. I fall back against the wall and slide down to the floor. My throat closes up, and my chest tightens.

Tears stand on the edge of my eyes, and as much as I try to hold them back, they topple over and run down my cheeks.

I pull my knees to my chest and lean my arms on the top of them, the blood from my hands staining the knees of my pants.

I lean my forehead on my arms, as my shoulders shake from crying.

 

David, you're breaking down. Just-

 

“LEAVE ME ALONE!!” I sob dejectedly, hugging my knees tighter to my chest, feeling the hard edge of the handcuffs press into my arm.

Everything feels like it's falling away from me.

 

David, you-

 

“PLEASE JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!!! PLEASE!!! I JUST WANT YOU TO LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!” I scream through my tears, and silence is suddenly found in my head.

Then the intense pounding and pain return, and I hold my head in my hands as I scream in agony.

My heart pounds in my chest, and I can feel the fast beat echo in my head.

The excruciating pain brings more tears, and I find myself choking for air, crying and screaming to the point of no breath.

I try to breathe, taking short, sharp breaths, and little by little the air refills my lungs. I let out a deep shaky breath, then more tears pour down my face.

I look up at the camera despairingly, fear and sorrow filling my tear-ridden eyes.

“Logan…” I choke out spiritlessly, then look down, closing my eyes.

My mind aches and my thoughts are a storm of confusion. A tidal wave of emotions crashes through me, and I squeeze my eyes shut tight, hugging my knees tightly for comfort.

“Make it stop….” I moan, tears dripping from my chin.

“Just make it stop….”


4 ½ Hours Later

KEEGAN

I stand at the computer, not having taken my eyes off of the screen for hours.

Hesh….what did Rorke do to you? You're not the smart, loyal, energetic and enthusiastic man I once knew.

Now you're broken.

And I can't help.

I want to so bad.

I just don't know how.

I watched earlier when he first woke up, and he realized what was happening for the first time.

Merrick was with me, as was Logan. The three of us were just watching the camera. Then Hesh looked up at us, and frowned, saying,

“Hey, Merrick? You're a dick. Also, were the handcuffs really fucking necessary?” He growled at the camera, and I had glanced over at Merrick.

“Told you the handcuffs were a bad idea,” I said, and Merrick looked at me with displeasure.

“You think I like seeing Hesh in handcuffs, locked in an insanity room?” He asked as Logan watched entranced in fear at Hesh pacing, yelling at himself, screaming and punching the wall.

Logan shook his head, tears streaming down his face.

“I can't watch this.” He said, then ran off. Merrick followed him, and I've been here ever since.

Sitting down, I lean my elbows on the table.

Hesh punches the wall again, blood stains now all over the room from where he has angrily hit.

I flick on the speaker, and the sound of him groaning comes through.

“I told you to leave me alone!” He shouts, grabbing his head. I raise my eyebrow and watch the camera intently. He stops and grits his teeth.

“I DON'T WANT TO!!! I CAN'T! I WON'T!!” He yells, stumbling forward to the wall. Leaning against it, he breathes heavily, then sags his shoulders, dropping his handcuffed hands from his head.

“I….stop asking me to do that. You know I won't. And you can't make me.” He says dejectedly. Then his eyes widen.

“NO! That won't happen! I...before...I didn't mean to do that!!! That wasn't my fault!!” He yells, and I raise my eyebrow.

Hesh closes his eyes again and turns to have his back against the wall, leaning his head back.

“I never wanted to hurt anybody….” He mutters despairingly.

My eyes widen, and I sigh.

“I know you didn't, Hesh.” I quietly remark.

Then his expression changes.

“NO!! I HATE THEM!! They locked me in here!! They're the reason I’m like this!!” He yells angrily, slamming his fist against the wall to the side, creating yet another red mark from his now constantly bleeding hands.

I stare at him with sad eyes, then he stops.

“Really?” He says inquisitively, with hope in his voice.

He lifts his head to look at the camera, then grins innocently, his entire persona changed.

“Hey, Keegan.” He says happily, relief joined with it, and my eyes widen.

How did he…..

His eyes are sad but at the same time full of joy.

“I don't hate you, Keegan. Or Logan. I could never hate you two.” He says caringly.

Then his eyes narrow, and he frowns.

“But the rest of the Ghosts, they deserve to be locked in here. If they really just threw me in here without a second thought, then they don't know the meaning of compassion.”

He tilts his head a little, looking off into the distance, then he laughs.

“You're right. I don't either.” He says, and I clench my fist.

He's just so…. I don't even know anymore.

He then looks back up at the camera.

“Hey, Keegan. Send Merrick down here. Let's see how he’d like a fucking boot to the face. In fact, send any Ghost down! I'd like to give them a piece of my mind!” He laughs, then he frowns, looking down at the floor. He clenches his fist.

“MY MIND ISN'T YOURS!! AND I STILL HAVE IT!! I HAVEN'T LOST IT!!!” He yells, and I sigh, rubbing my face with my hands.

This is too painful.

Hesh suddenly stumbles back a little, then puts his hand to his head, his face expressing confusion and shock.

“No...stop it…What are you-”

I raise my eyebrow and lean closer to the screen.

He blinks quickly for a moment, shuddering. He digs his fingers into his head, clutching it with his life.

“NO!! STAY OUT!!!” He cries, and my eyes widen when I see that the Hesh that was changed has disappeared, and a scared young man replaces him.

Tears run down his face as he slides to the floor, and he shakes in fear.

“Please….don't hurt them...leave me alone…” He pleads desperately, and my eyes widen as I see him look up at the camera, and his eyes are wide with fear.

“Keegan….help me…..” He utters weakly, and I feel my chest tighten.

“MERRICK!!” I yell, still staring at the screen.

Hesh stands up again, falling against the wall for support, stumbling as if only just learning to walk.

The door behind me opens, and Merrick walks in with Slate behind him.

“What is it?” He asks, and I point to the screen.

“He just suddenly changed. Before, he was angry and irrational and downright insane. But then something happened, he looked up at the camera, and said ‘Hey, Keegan.’ I don't know how he knew I was here, but then he started talking to me, and he’d flip back and forth between the Hesh we know and his angry side. But just a moment ago, something changed completely. He fell against the wall, holding his head. It's like he was terrified. He was crying, begging someone... or something… to not hurt anyone. Then he looked up at the camera, at me, and said, ‘Keegan, help me.’” I tell them, and Merrick looks over at Slate wide-eyed.

Slate frowns, crossing his arms.

“I don't see what the problem is.” He says straightly, and I glare at him.

“He's hurting! Whatever’s happening to him, it's breaking down his mind-”

“Keegan, there is nothing left in his mind to break down!” Slate says harshly, and I stop, taken aback a bit.

Then I clench my fist.

“YES, THERE IS!! DAVID IS STILL IN THERE SOMEWHERE, AND I-”

Merrick’s eyes widen as he watches the screen behind me.

“Keegan!” He says urgently, and I spin around.

Hesh stares at the camera, eyes wide.

“Keegan!!! Logan!! I need you!!! HELP ME!!” He yells, then he stumbles back against the wall, and puts his hand up to his forehead.

“NO! I WON'T! JUST…..No….don't make me….what are you doing….get out...Get out!...GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT!!!” He screams, and Merrick looks on with wide eyes.

I feel my heart being torn apart. It pains me so much to see this.

Hesh claws at his head, squeezing his eyes shut as tears run down his face.

“PLEASE!!! STOP!!!! MAKE IT STOP!!!!” He screams in agony.

Then, randomly, his hands drop from his head, and he shudders a little.

I raise my eyebrow.

“What just-”

His eyes widen in fear, and my eyes intensify in concern.

Suddenly, he chokes a little, then his eyes roll back in his head as he collapses to the floor, unmoving.

My eyes widen fully, and I spin around, shoving Merrick and Slate out of the way.

“Keegan! Wait!” Merrick yells after me, but I ignore him as I run down the hall towards Hesh’s cell. I see Logan ahead, and he looks at me with confusion and concern.

“Keegan, what's-”

“It's Hesh!” I say urgently, and Logan’s eyes widen. We both sprint down the hall, then skid to a stop outside the door. I slide the heavy lock and push open the door.

It swings open, and my chest tightens when I see Hesh lying on the floor in the corner, eyes closed, not moving.

Logan and I both run over, dropping to our knees next to him.

Logan puts his hand on Hesh’s shoulder, shaking him gently.

“David?...” He says, his voice quiet and fearful.

The door opens again behind us, and I turn to see the rest of the Ghosts, all with curious looks on their faces.

Merrick and Gavin have worried eyes, and I turn back to Hesh.

“Let's get these fucking handcuffs off,” I mutter as I unlock them and they fall off his wrists, revealing bruised red marks where he had pulled against them.

I lift him up into my lap, holding him gently.

“David…” As I hold him, my eyes widen, and Logan looks at me with fear.

“What?” He asks sharply, and I stutter a bit, finding my throat closed up.

I turn my head towards the Ghosts and Logan with pain in my chest, wide-eyed.

“He's not breathing…”

Chapter Text

LOGAN

My eyes widen, and I feel my heart start to pound.

“What do you mean, he's not breathing?!” I shout as I move closer. I put my hand on Hesh’s shoulder, tears welling in my eyes.

“David, get up…. Please, GET UP!!!” I sob as I shake him, eyes frantic.

Keegan looks up at me with saddened eyes.

“Logan, I’m sorry….” He says gently.

“No….” I shake Hesh again, his head falling to the side. The tears topple over the cliff of my eyes, running down my face as I stare at his handsome face, eyes closed lifelessly. Merrick glances at Gavin, who looks up at the other four.

Spike stares at me.

“Shit…” He mutters under his breath.

I close my eyes, my chest rising and falling rapidly. Suddenly feeling lightheaded, I fall forward, bracing myself up with my hands. My eyes are wide, and I stare at the floor. Starting to lose breath, I choke a little, and Spike runs over to me.

“Logan, it's okay!!” He holds my shoulders, turning me away from Hesh.

“He's hyperventilating in shock.” He says to Keegan as I try to find air in my lungs.

I shake my head.

“No... NoNoNO!” I yell painfully, as Spike holds me steady.

“Logan, just take deep breaths…” He comforts me, and I squeeze my eyes shut.  

He can't be… My big brother…. David…. Taking a shaky breath, I lean against Spike’s shoulder as he holds me. Merrick crouches next to Keegan, looking down at Hesh.

“What have we done…” He mutters, rubbing his face with his hand, and Keegan holds Hesh tighter.

“I should have...I just wish...I….” Keegan sighs, then I hear a very faint groan and Keegan gasps. Another small sound and I lift my head from Spike’s shoulder.

“What….”

I spin my head around, and my eyes widen to see a small breath come from Hesh, shaky, but still present. The dread filling me a moment ago is now joined with the smallest glimpse of hope, and I crawl over.

“Hesh?” I ask quietly, staring down at my brother. Keegan lifts Hesh up a little, propping him against his shoulder, and raises his gaze to meet my concerned eyes as we both wait in anguish for even the smallest second breath. Merrick puts his hand on my back, also anxiously looking at Hesh.

Reaching out my hand a little, I take Hesh’s hand in my own.

“David….” My voice comes out desolately, barely a whisper. Then his fingers tighten weakly around my hand, and my eyes widen. Raising my gaze to his eyes, I see them slowly open, and he takes a slow, painful breath.

“Lo..gan…” He barely croaks out, and the Ghosts’ eyes widen.

Cody crosses his arms.

“Well, I'll be damned. He's not dead.” Merrick looks at him harshly over his shoulder, and Cody steps back a bit with wide eyes, hands up in surrender.

Keegan looks up to meet my wide, hopeful eyes.

I nod.

“I’m here, David. Keegan and I are right here.” I say comfortingly, and Hesh sighs with a small smile, squeezing my hand tighter.

“Logan…” He whispers with compassionate relief, then his eyes slowly close again. I feel the fear rise up in my chest again.

“David?” I say quickly, shaking his shoulder a little.

His head drops to the side, and Keegan’s face suddenly washes over with fear.

“Hesh…” He holds David down in his lap again, and we both look at each other, then down at Hesh. A small moan escapes Hesh’s lips, painful and weak.

My eyes widen.

“Keegan, we need to get him out of here to help him,” I say urgently, and Keegan nods.

“Help me get him up.” He agrees as we slowly pick Hesh up, putting his arms around both of our shoulders. Slate steps forward and holds out his hand, stopping us.

“Hold up. We're not just going to let you take him out. He's unstable, and could still-”

“Shut up, Slate.” I spit out, and the Ghosts all go silent, wide-eyed.

Slate stares at me.

“What?” He demands with a tone of infuriation.

Keegan glares at him.

“Get the fuck out of our way, Slate. Because while you guys are only thinking of Hesh as a prisoner and a psychopath, Logan and I plan to help keep one of the best Ghosts I've ever known alive.”

Slate stares at us, dumbfounded, as we shove past him and the rest of the Ghosts. I look to the side at Keegan, then drop my gaze slightly to Hesh, his head hanging down.

My chest feels like it's about to explode, my heart is beating so fast.

“Keegan, what do we do?” I ask shakily, and Keegan nods towards one of the hospital rooms.

“We have to get him help. I don't know what's wrong, but we can't just let him go.” I nod as we carry him into a room, then carefully lift him onto the bed. Lying his head back, I stare at my brother with tears in my eyes.

“What the hell happened to you, Hesh?” I say tremulously, my voice quiet. Keegan stands up, and turns around, hooking up some IVs. I glance up.

“What are you doing?” I ask warily, and he turns back, leaning down as he inserts a needle into Hesh’s arm.

“Stabilizing Hesh. Hopefully, we'll be able to keep him breathing by doing this.”

My eyes widen.

“Hopefully?!” I impose nervously, and Keegan lifts his head to meet mine with a sigh.

“Listen, Logan. You and I both care a lot about Hesh. Ironic that just a week ago I felt like I hated him for what he did. But that's beside the point. We need to help him, and we're going to, with or without the help of the other Ghosts.” He says earnestly, and I sigh.

Sitting down lightly on the edge of the bed, I take Hesh’s hand in my own again. Holding it tightly, I hold back tears.

“Don't leave me, David. I can't lose you. Not you too. I already lost Dad. I can't lose by big brother.”

Tears run down my cheeks as I lean my head on his chest.

“My best friend.” I sullenly whisper as tears dot Hesh’s shirt.

“I need you….”


 

 

3 Hours Later

 

Leaning on my hand, propped up on the side of the chair, my eyes grow heavy. My head drops a little, slipping from my hand, then I jerk up, looking around with exhaustion. My eyes fall on my brother, still laid on the bed lifelessly. His heartbeat is very faint, his chest barely moving. Keegan walks in, and looks at me, crossing his arms.

“Logan, you look tired. I'll watch him for a while if you wa-”

“I can't leave him, Keegan. I don't care how long I have to sit by this bed, I am NOT leaving my brother.” I say determinedly, and Keegan’s chest rises as he heaves a deep sigh.

“Logan…” He starts, then a small groan comes from Hesh, and we both turn. I spin to his side, and I see his teeth clenched in pain.

“David?...” I take his hand, and his grip tightens around it immediately, almost to the point of pain. His face is plastered with agony, and I know that even though there are no visible wounds, the most prominent and destructive are in his mind. Keegan steps towards him a little.

“Is he okay?” He asks caringly, and I shake my head.

“I don't know. He just seems like he’s hurting, and just-”

Suddenly Hesh’s breath stops, and he starts choking, gasping for breath, and my eyes widen.

“David!” I shout as Hesh jolts, seizing. Keegan runs over to the other side of the bed, and grabs the IVs, searching through them frantically. Cody runs in, stopping in the doorway with Gavin behind him.

“What's goi-”

His eyes fall on Hesh and then widen.

“Holy shit….”

Gavin shoves past him to my side, switching his gaze from me to Hesh. Then he shoves me aside, and leans down, putting his fist on top of Hesh’s chest, one over the other.

“Hey!” I sit back up, then I see him giving Hesh CPR. Gavin’s eyes are determined, and my heart pains as Hesh’s eyes roll back in his head, his body shaking more violently.

“What the hell is happening?!” Cody shouts, and I shake my head, standing up next to Gavin to hold Hesh down as Keegan inserts the IV into his arm. Gavin continues to perform CPR sharply, then Hesh’s breath stops completely.

We all look at each other, and Gavin’s eyes widen.

Then Hesh gasps, and his head falls back onto the bed, breathing heavily, eyes still remaining closed. A deep breath of relief escapes my lips, and I walk over to the side of his bed as Gavin steps back, wiping the nervous sweat from his brow with the back of his hand.

Sitting down, I take Hesh’s hand again and put my other hand on his shoulder.

“I’m watching out for you, David. Always. I promise. You're gonna be okay.” I say quietly, as Cody heaves a heavy sigh of stressful relief, then turns and walks out.

I turn to Gavin.

“Thanks,” I say, and he scratches the back of his head.

“Not really sure if that was helpful, it was probably what Keegan gave him, but yeah. No problem.” He says awkwardly, then walks out the room, closing the door behind him.

Swinging my gaze up to Keegan, I meet concerned eyes.

“We have to keep a watch on him,” Keegan says desolately, and I nod sadly.

“I know. I won't let anything happen to him. He's my big brother and my best friend. He taught me everything, and always took care of me. Now it's my turn to take care of him.” I say earnestly, and Keegan nods.

“You should get a little sleep, Logan. I'll watch over him for a few hours.”  He offers, and I stop, hesitate, then nod, realizing just how exhausted I really am.

I lean back in the chair, closing my eyes. I still hold Hesh’s hand tightly and take a deep breath, my chest rising then falling.

As my brain grows weary, I make a promise to my brother.

I'll never let him get hurt again, and I will never leave him.

I can't lose him.

He means too much.

I drift off to sleep, my fingers still wrapped tightly around my brother’s hand.

Chapter Text

MERRICK

I pace back and forth, rubbing my face with my hands, letting out a deep, exasperated sigh. Turning towards Slate, I shake my head.

“I can't just sit around. We need to end this.” I say, and Cody, Match, Spike, Gavin and Slate all raise their head.

Cody crosses his arms.

“Wait, you mean kill him? I thought you were trying to keep Hesh alive.” He says nonchalantly.

My eyes widen, and I groan.

“NO! Not HESH, you dumbass!! RORKE!” I shout irritably, and Cody nods in realisation.

“Oh.”

I rub my face with my hands again as Slate leans against the counter.

“And just what is your plan? We're not exactly in the best of situations here, if you haven't noticed.” He says plainly, and I roll my eyes.

“No, really, Slate? I hadn't fucking noticed.” I retort harshly.

Gavin sighs, shrugging.

“I dunno. I kinda agree with Merrick. This has to end. If we get rid of Rorke, then we can focus on helping Hesh without worrying about that dick coming after us.” He says, and Spike nods.

“I second that.”

Match stands up from the couch.

“Same.”

My eyes sweep to Cody and Slate, who look at each other with a heavy sigh.

Slate reluctantly nods.

“Okay, how are we going to do this?” I stop, then realise I hadn't planned that far ahead.

Slate rolls his eyes.

“You don't have a plan, do you?” He asks critically, and I frown, glaring at him.

“Shut it, Slate. We just need to think.” Spike sighs, and looks over at me.

“Thomas, if you really want to do this, then think up something fast. We can't just keep up this act with Hesh.” He says, and I close my eyes, falling back against the wall, heaving a heavy sigh.

“Maybe we can help Hesh by finding Rorke.”

My eyes open, and I glance over to Gavin with my eyebrow raised.

“What do you mean?” He lifts his shoulders in a shrug.

“I mean that maybe Rorke can tell us exactly what he did to Hesh, and that in turn can help us help him.” He suggests.

Cody frowns, and crosses his arms.

“That's just a theory, though. It could be fruitless. What if Hesh is just too far gone. Or Rorke won't talk. My money’s on the latter. But even if Rorke did tell us, what if what he did was irreversible?” He counters, and I groan.

“Well, we need to decide whether or not we're going to do this. Maybe only some of us should go.” I say, lifting my head to sweep the room. The Ghosts all exchange a glance, then Spike steps forward.

“I'll go. I've got a score to settle with the Federation.” He grits, and Match stands up.

“I’m in. Rorke took so much from the Ghosts, and now, with what he did to Hesh, I can't just let that bastard live.” I nod at him, then look around the room. Slate sighs, and stands up.

“What the hell. It's not like there's anything I’d be able to do here. Plus, it's up to me to keep your asses safe.” He says with a smirk.

Cody and Gavin meet my eyes.

“We'll stay here with Keegan and Logan. You know, to help.” Gavin says, and I nod.

“Okay. I think I have a plan.” I say with uncertainty, and Spike raises his eyebrow.

“Really?” He asks skeptically, and I shrug.

“Well, sort of….”


 

 

45 Minutes Later….

 

 

MATCH

This is such a stupid plan!!!” I shout over the noise of the helicopter, and Merrick turns around to me from the cockpit, his eyes showing the annoyance that his mask hides from his face.

“Shut up, Match!” He orders, and I look out the open side of the helicopter, gripping my gun tighter as we fly high above the ground, heading south.

“We're so screwed.” I mutter under my breath, and Slate crouches down next to me. He pulls down his mask, and sighs.

“Man, I agree with you. This is never going to work. We're so dead.” He grumbles, a look of disappointment mixed with anger crossing his face.

He shakes his head, groaning.

“I can't believe this. We're just going to land right in front of the Federation compound, hope that we can make it to Rorke, then somehow, between the four of us, make him talk. Yeah, this is gonna go real well.” He remarks, then he steps away from the door, checking the arsenal of weapons we brought. At least we have that.

But in my head, I still see this as having an extremely bad outcome. My earpiece buzzes, and I put my finger to it.

“Yeah?” I ask, and Cody’s voice crackles in.

“How are you guys doing?” He asks, and I sigh.

“Physically, or mentally?” I say curtly, and Cody chuckles.

“Ooh, having second thoughts now, are we?” I groan, rolling my eyes.

“The plan is going to get us killed! Merrick is crazy! Just land at the base, knock on the front door, and hope we don't die?! What the hell?!” I exclaim indignantly.

“Match, just cool it. I know it seems like suicide, but Thomas Merrick is a smart man. He’ll get you guys through this.” Cody says calmly, and I take a deep, forceful breath.

“And if he doesn't?” I say grimly through gritted teeth. A pause on the other end of the comlink, then a sigh.

“Then I guess I won't get to hear you say ‘I told you so’.” Cody responds straightly, and I stop, eyes wide, then a small grin breaks out on my face.

“You dick.” I say with a smirk, and I hear a laugh.

“Good luck, Match. You're gonna need it.” Cody offers, and I nod.

“Thanks. You too. I'll see you on the other side.” Taking my finger away from my earpiece, static replaces the feed, then slowly fizzles out.

Taking a deep breath, I look back towards the cockpit, to see Spike and Merrick talking, focused on our goal of South America.

Merrick’s expression of determination sparks a small bit of optimism, and I sigh lightly.

Cody’s right.

Thomas is smart.

He's been a Ghost a long time, as have we all, but he is by far one of the best I've ever seen.

Strategic, effective, and always ready to do what he has to to get the job done while keeping his men safe.

If we are going to get this mission done, then he's the right man to be leading us.


HESH

I slowly open my eyes, and groan. My head feels like it's about to explode.

“Hesh?”

I hear someone, but it's muffled, like my ears have cotton in them. It slowly fades away, as I turn my head a bit, and see Logan staring at me with wide eyes. Lifting my head, with great effort, I blink back the pain.

“Logan...what…” I grit my teeth and close my eyes, the pounding in my head making me fall back. I only now notice I’m laid down in a hospital bed, and I open my eyes slightly again, then rub my face with my hand.

Well, I try to.

My hands are restrained, and upon looking down, I see them strapped to the sides of the bed, as well as my ankles. I raise my eyebrow then frown, displeased.

“Logan, what happened?” I ask slowly, my voice weak and raspy. Logan hesitates, then stands up from the chair beside the bed to sit on the edge next to me.

“What do you remember?” He asks, and I sigh, shaking my head.

“I guess….coming down from the roof, and seeing Keegan was okay….Then you guys took me out, and started questioning me.”

I raise my head up to him, and give him a look of annoyance.

“Thanks for that, by the way.” I say bitterly, and Logan hangs his head.

“Sorry. We just needed to know.” He says, and I groan.

“Well, there was a reason I wouldn't tell you!” I spit harshly, and Logan leans back a little.

“And what's that?” A voice from the doorway asks, and Logan and I both turn to see Keegan staring at us. He takes a deep breath, and walks over to stand next to Logan. He meets my eyes, compassion and sorrow in the blue glint.

“How ya doin’, Hesh?” He asks, and I close my eyes, my head still pounding. I open my eyes to look down at my hands, and I tug at the straps a little, then I look up at Keegan.

“First off, I’m strapped to a bed after being held in an insanity room for six hours. Second, my head feels like it's about to burst. And third, I don't get why you wouldn't just let it go.” I mutter angrily, making Keegan and Logan exchange a glance.

“Let what go?” Logan asks, and I raise my eyebrow in a sarcastic ‘seriously?’ expression.

“The fact that I told you guys I couldn't tell you.” My voice comes out irritably, and Keegan shakes his head.

“Hesh, we just wanted to understand. Can you tell us why you can't tell us?” He asks curiously, and I glance to the side.

“Because it hurts.” I respond softly, and Logan’s eyebrow raises.

“What do you mean?” He asks, and I sigh, then look up to meet his caring eyes.

“I mean that it hurts too much to think about it. But…..I want to tell you…” I slowly answer, and Keegan straightens up a bit, then he sits down in the chair, looking at me intently. Logan’s curiosity exaggerates, and I sigh.

“It's just….”

 

You can't tell them. They can't know.

 

I grit my teeth.

“They have to know. I can't keep up this act any longer.”

 

David, if you tell them, they’ll just throw you back in that cell. Now, Keegan and Logan are the only two Ghosts that really care about you. But you can't trust them.

 

Groaning, I shake my head.

“No, I-” Logan puts his hand on my shoulder, eyes wide, then he takes a deep breath.

“Hesh, you can trust us. I don't know what you meant by that, but we aren't going to throw you back in the cell.” He says, and I raise my eyebrow.

“Wait, how did-”

My eyes suddenly widen when I realise that I just said all of that out loud. Even the voice.

Keegan leans forward, leaning his elbows on his knees.

“So, I’m guessing what just happened was you just arguing with yourself, like you've been doing, but this time it came out loud.” He says, and I sigh testily.

“You have no idea how hard this is.” I grumble, and Logan takes my hand.

“Hesh, I understand.” He looks down at the straps that hold my hands and my legs, then glances back at Keegan.

“Are these really necessary?” He asks, and Keegan hesitates, then shakes his head.

“No.” He reaches out and unclips my hands, then my ankles.

I immediately rub my wrists, then pull my legs up a little. I turn to face Keegan and Logan, leaning on my elbow. Keegan raises his eyebrow.

“Well?” He asks interested, and I take a heavy breath.

 

You can tell them, David. They're right. You can trust them.

 

My eyes widen, and Logan nods. I clench my fist, and shake my head.

“It….those two and a half weeks? When I was separated from you, Logan….it felt like months.” I say, and Logan holds my hand tightly.

“I didn't know if you were even still in that cell. I didn't know if you were even still alive . But Rorke used that against me. He took you away from me, and in doing so, basically took away my sanity.” Raising my eyes to meet Logan’s, I see that they are wide, along with Keegan’s.

Logan’s face crosses with sorrow, and I frown, holding his hand tightly.

“You're the one thing in this entire world that matters more than anything to me, Logan. I would do anything for you. And when I lost you the first time, I just couldn't handle it. But then, when Rorke took us both, and then he took you away again, I just snapped.” I explain with a sigh.

Keegan closes his eyes, and rubs his face with his hand.

“Hesh...you don't have to answer, but….what...exactly…..happened?” He asks slowly, and I let go of Logan’s hand.

My eyes widen for a split second, and I lose breath for a very short moment as it flashes back. I grit my teeth, closing my eyes, then shaking it off.

“I….okay.” I agree, opening my eyes, and Logan and Keegan look at each other in surprise, then to me with anticipation. Pulling my knees towards me, I lean my arms casually on them, and take a deep breath.

“Just to let you know…..it was hell.”

Logan looks up at me, his eyes sympathetic.

“Hesh, you don't have to-”

“Yes I do, Logan. I need to. I need to get it out.” I say straightly, and my brother sits back, staring at me intently.

I sigh.

“After he cut me off from you, Logan, he just kept increasing the amount of torture per day. Every hour, more guards would come down. Again and again they would tase me, shocking me until I blacked out. That, or they would inject me, with each dose stronger than the last.” I recount, and Keegan’s eyes are wide.

“I started to have this….voice…..in my head. It would argue with me, telling me that everything bad I had ever done was my fault and that I couldn't fight it any more. It reminded me of every time that I failed to save someone, specifically you and dad, and I just couldn't handle it anymore. I snapped.” Upon explaining this, I look up to see Logan’s eyes are wide, matching Keegan’s.

I shake my head.

“I still...I still hear the voice. It keeps saying I can't trust the Ghosts, but…..when you told me a few minutes ago that I could trust you, then it stopped arguing, and actually told me to tell you. I know that anger is still inside me, and it can just explode any second, but now….I feel…..since I have you and Keegan….it's going away.” I say slowly, and Logan stares at me, then smiles.

“I’m glad you told me, Hesh. And I’m sorry that happened to you. I can't even imagine how painful it must have been. But you're here now, with us, and you're safe. I won't let anything happen to you. You've always had to take care of me. Now it's my turn to take care of you.” He says compassionately, and I stop, then grin.

With a smirk, I shove his shoulder playfully.

“Then you've got your hands full, bro.” I snicker, and Keegan laughs.

“Man, he isn't kidding. You are one annoying son of a bitch to look after.” He says wearily, but with a joking tone.

We all laugh, and for the first time in as long as I can remember, I actually feel like I have my family back.

 

You're safe, David. You're home.

Chapter Text

SLATE

As we descend down into the trees a bit aways from the Federation base, I can't help but feel a deep feeling of dread in my chest. There's just something that fills me with fear, and not knowing what it is makes it worse.

It's not my fear of the Federation, because I have none.

It's not my fear of Rorke, because that bastard doesn't intimidate me.

I don't know what it is.

Loading my gun, I look around at the other three. Merrick touches the chopper down, and immediately flings off the headset, jumping into the back to get his gun, Spike following him shortly. Match elbows me a bit, and I snap out of psyching myself out, turning to face him.

“What?”

He shrugs.

“You just looked a little….on edge. I don't blame you. Thomas is nuts. But...I think that maybe….just maybe….we can pull this off.” He says with a hint of optimism, and I smirk, nodding.

Merrick meets our eyes as he pulls his mask up.

“Ready?” He asks, and I nod, along with Spike and Match. We all jump out of the helicopter, and run through the trees, making sure to stay out of sight. The base soon comes clearly into view, and we stop at the treeline.

Sweeping my eyes around the area, my eyebrow raises, as does my stress.

“This isn't right. There's no guards. Anywhere.” I remark, and Spike shrugs.

“All the more easy for us.” He says, and I take a deep breath of anxiety. That feeling of fear rises again, but I push it down.

Merrick looks back at us, and motions with his hand to stay low. 

“On me.” He says quietly, as we slowly make our way to the wall of the compound.

“Stack up.” He says, and we all stack next to one of the entrances.

“On three.” Merrick says quietly, and We all look at each other with anxiety and adrenaline in our eyes.

“One…” I grip my gun tighter, readjusting my handle on it.

“Two…” Taking a deep breath, I raise my gun at the ready.

“Three!” Merrick spins and kicks open the door, and we all run through, weapons ready. Immediately, we're met with a barrage of fire from the end of the hall, and my eyes widen.

“Get to cover!” I yell as we all dive behind the ammo crates stacked in the hallway. Standing up to look over, I fire into the soldiers at the end, felling them quickly. Spike turns and fires rapidly, taking out more and more.

Merrick spins away from the crates.

“Reloading!” He shouts, and Match nods.

“Got you!” He fires towards the soldiers, and the bullets flying past us slowly thin out, then stop all together. Federation soldiers lie dead at the end of the hall, and I peer over the crates carefully, then nod.

“Clear!”

We all step out, and meet each other’s eyes. Merrick starts down the hall, looking around.

“This way.” He says, pointing up a flight of stairs.

“How do you know?” Match asks, and Merrick moves his gaze to meet Match’s eyes.

“Because this is the way they took us when we were here.” He answers flatly, then turns to go up the stairs. I catch Match’s eye uneasily, but shortly turn to follow Merrick. Reaching the top of the stairs, a closed door meets us, and Merrick glances back at us.

“Weapons ready. This is it.” He says sharply, and I nod. Spike take a deep breath, but I can see energetic adrenaline in his eyes.

“Breach on three.” He says, and Merrick nods.

“One...two...three!” He yells, then the door is kicked open, and we run through. Federation soldiers spin around, caught off guard, with wide eyes. They scramble for their weapons, shouting.

“Estar atento!” One yells to another.

“Mátalos!” One yells, raising his gun. Match narrows his eyes, and fires into the soldiers before they can even pull the trigger, Spike doing the same. The Federation soldiers are quickly all on the ground, blood staining the floor.

I look around.

“Wait, where the hell is-”

A clap makes us turn around, followed by another, then a chuckle. Rorke steps out of the shadows, and smirks.

“Well, if it ain't the Ghosts. Merrick, good to see you again.” He pauses, then frowns when he sees Spike, Match and I.

“Now, hold on….” He raises his eyebrow, then crosses his arms.

“So. I guess the Shadow Elites are still around, along with the Hawks. Well, those who aren't dead.” He says with a smirk as he looks at Spike.

Spike grits his teeth, eyes narrowing in the darkest hate.

“You bastard! You and the Federation killed them! You killed BOLT! He was a good Ghost! He was my brother!!!!” He screams, and Merrick grabs his vest to hold him back.

Rorke laughs.

“So? I've taken other family before. Like how I killed Elias. Logan and David’s father. Or how Hesh killed Kick, taking him away from Keegan. I took away half of the Hawks…” He says, glancing at Spike again, whose eyes widen in rage. He wrenches free of Merrick, and glares at Rorke, raising his gun.

“YOU FUCKING BASTARD!!!” He yells, then a gunshot rings out, and Spike falls to the ground, holding his shoulder in pain, blood coursing from it. My head snaps up to see two Federation soldiers standing in the doorway, one with a Lieutenant stripe on his uniform, hand out straight holding a revolver.

I turn back to Rorke, and narrow my eyes.

I lower my gun, and clip it to my belt. Match looks at me with wide eyes.

“Slate, what the hell are you doing?!” He exclaims, and I shake my head, eyes still trained solidly on Rorke.

“I want to know what you did to Hesh. Exactly what you did. Why is he going insane?” I demand roughly, and Rorke’s eyebrow raises as he frowns.

“He's still turned? That's interesting…” He says to himself, then he rubs his chin.

“I wonder if he's still fighting that-”

“RORKE.” Merrick says harshly, and he looks up. Match frowns at him, raising his gun at him.

“Just tell us what you did to him.” He orders, and Rorke smirks.

“I broke him, Sergeant. I broke his mind.” He says straightly, and I clench my fist. Merrick narrows his eyes, then steps forward.

“Okay, you know what? I’m tired of you playing games. This has gone on for far too long.” He says rigidly, and Rorke frowns.

“What are you going to do, Captain?” He sneers mockingly, and Merrick grits his teeth, and takes a deep breath.

“Something I should have done a long time ago.” He growls.

He grabs his handgun in the blink of an eye, raises it quickly, and pulls the trigger when it reaches the height of Rorke. The expression of shock on Rorke’s face that was present for only a second disappears as he falls to the ground, blood dripping down his face.

Merrick lowers his gun to his side, then slips it in the holster. He stares at Rorke’s body, as we all stand silent.

Then a shout from the other side of the room makes us spin, and the Lieutenant glares at us with wide, hate-filled eyes.

“Tú monstruo! No escaparás!” He shouts, then shouts into his radio.

“Mata a los soldados!”

I glance to the side at Match, who is helping Spike stand up.

“You okay?” He asks, and Spike nods.

“Jus’ a scratch.” He says with a small smirk. Swinging my gaze to Merrick, he looks up, and sighs.

“It's finally over…” He says, and I shake my head.

“Not yet. We still have to get out of this place.” I say, then a shot narrowly misses my face, and I jump back in surprise to see the Lieutenant holding a pistol, aiming it at me.

“Madre folador!” He spits, and I frown.

“Oh, shut up.” I growl, quickly unclipping my gun from my belt, then raising it to shoot the soldier next to him, then the Lieutenant, who exclaims in surprise as he falls to the ground.

Merrick looks around at the three of us, and takes a deep breath.

“Okay, we finished what we came to do, but now we have to manage to get out of this place. Prepare yourselves. It's gonna be a helluva lot harder getting out of this place than it was getting in.” He warns, and we nod, weapons at the ready.

Running down the stairs, the second we get to the bottom, another barrage of bullets narrowly misses us, and we jump back.

“Shit! What do we do?! They got us blocked off!” Match yells, and I shake my head.

“We have to get through somehow!” I shout over the noise of the firing range, with us as the targets. Spike looks towards the end of the hall, then stops. He has a contemplative look on his face, and I raise my eyebrow.

“Spike, what is it?” I ask warily. He heaves a deep sigh.

“Well, we could use grenades, but the problem is that the hall is full of ammo crates. If any are filled with explosives…..” His voice trails off, and we all look at each other.

Merrick sighs.

“They have us far outnumbered and far outgunned. It's our only choice.” He says, and I meet Match’s eye.

There is a silence among the four of us for a moment, then I pull the grenades from my vest, holding them up.

“No point in waiting.” I say, and the others nod. I pull the pin, and huck the grenade down the hall, hearing it clunk on the metal floor.

“Grenada! Grenada!!” I hear the Federation yelling, and I take a deep breath, then an explosion echoes through the hall. We all turn away from the door, shielding ourselves. Then, after a moment, silence. Not a sound.

I lift my head, and glance at the others. Leaning around the doorway, I look down the hall, and I see multiple soldiers’ bodies, torn apart by the grenade. I take a deep breath, and hesitate, searching the hall for any movement from possible survivors. But no motion is found.

“Clear.” I say, and the Ghosts step out into the hall. Spike sighs, holding his hand on his bleeding arm.

“Well. That actually worked.” He says disbelievingly, and I roll my eyes. Merrick nods.

“We should get out of here. There'll be more.” He states, and I nod.

I turn to Match.

“Take point, Match. Get us out of here.” I order, and Match nods. We all load up our weapons, and Match runs ahead of us.

I turn to Spike, looking at his arm.

“You okay?” I ask, and Spike nods.

“Like I told Match. It's just a scratch.” He says, and I nod.

“Good.” I look back ahead, seeing Match far ahead.

Then he stops suddenly, and I slow down.

“Match, what-”

He whips his head back towards me, and his eyes are full of fear.

Suddenly that knot in my stomach tightens, and that unexplainable fear rises.

He looks down a bit, and as my gaze slowly lowers to see a trip wire on both sides of his leg, my eyes widen.

I meet his eyes, and the pain in them is unbearable. In those split seconds that felt like hours, I feel my heart stop.

“MATCH!!!” I scream, then an explosion sends me stumbling back into Spike, and I fall to the ground, staring helplessly at the fire at the end of the hall.


 

Ears ringing, all sound gone, and my body feels numb. My eyes are wider than I thought they could ever be, and a shaky breath is all I can manage.

“...Match….” I whisper painfully, as I barely feel the hands shaking me. Slowly my ears register the shouting next to me, and it fades in.

“SLATE!!” Spike says distressfully, and I slowly turn my head to see him crouched down, staring at me with sympathetic eyes, Merrick standing behind him. I close my eyes, then slowly stand up.

My head spins, and I gaze down the hall. I start down, but Merrick puts a hand on my shoulder.

“Slate...do you really want to-”

I meet his eyes, and in a second he stops his words.

Slowly, I advance down the hall, and I feel my fear rise as I draw close to the blasted area. Looking around anxiously, my breath catches in my throat as my eyes fall on a gun among the wreckage.

Match’s gun.

Crouching down, I move a piece of metal, then close my eyes, holding back the puke that I can feel creeping up my throat.

Match’s bloodied body lays in front of me, and I clench my fist, blinking away the image.

His arm is half gone, his left leg splintered, blood splattered around him. Blood drips down his face, and covers almost his entire body, pooled largely around him.

His eyes are still open, and I reach over with a deep breath, closing them gently with my fingers.

Merrick cautiously walks over, with Spike next to him, and they stop dead in their tracks when they see Match.

A tear runs down my cheek, but I wipe it away before they can see, leaving a red streak on my face from the blood that now stains my fingertips. Another shaky, forceful breath comes from my mouth, and I turn my head to Merrick. He meets my eyes sorrowfully, and I sigh.

Looking back down at Match, I sigh, and pick him up, not caring about the blood that runs down my arms and soaks my shirt. I turn to Spike and Merrick with Match on my back, and nod towards the door.

“Let's go.” I say brusquely, and they nod silently. As we make our way down the hallway, Merrick walking ahead and Spike covering our six, I now understand the tightness in my chest earlier.

The rising fear that I tried so hard to ignore.

I knew one of us was going to get hurt.

I just didn't think one of us was going to die.

Least of all my best friend.

We reach the door to outside, the same one we came in, and I take a deep breath, shifting Match’s body on my back. Merrick opens the door slowly, looking out it. He pulls his head back in, and meets our eyes.

“Three tangos. One close to the treeline, the other two near the door.” He says, and I bite my lip, then look at Spike.

“Take them out. The straggler first.” I order, and he nods, stepping next to the door as Merrick scoots back. Spike raises his gun, and he pulls off a shot, the silencer on his gun making the shot almost unidentifiable. He then pulls off two more shots, and turns back to us.

“Clear.” He says shortly, and we open the door fully. I sweep my eyes around, double checking, then I nod.

“Okay.” We run from the building, and I hold Match tightly.

I can feel his blood starting to drip down my neck, and run down the side of my face from where his head leans on mine. I grit my teeth, feeling relief as the helicopter suddenly comes into view. Merrick runs to the cockpit, jumps in, and turn to us.

“GET IN!” He yells, and Spike jumps in the back with me as I climb in, then I sit on the floor against the wall, holding Match’s body in my arms.

I don't want to let him go.

I can't let him go. I just can't.

I told him to take point.

Before scoping everything out.

And he found that tripwire the hard way.

In those few seconds, his eyes were filled with more fear than I had ever seen in a man. His eyes met mine, and I felt that same fear. It was cold, and painful. It ripped my heart apart as I saw his petrified eyes, his terror-stricken face.

Closing my eyes, I hold him tighter, and I can still feel his blood soaking through my jacket and my pants. I can feel it on my skin, but it's not warm, instead cold. Like his body. The life is long gone, and it feels like the life that resides in me is fading, too.

I can't think. I can't see. I can't feel anything. My body feels numb, and I take a shaky breath. Tears run from my eyes, still squeezed shut.

“Slate…” I hear my name muffled, my ears feeling the same as after the explosion. I slowly open my eyes, and see Spike standing in front of me staring at me with wide eyes. He sighs and looks at Match in my arms.

“I'm so sorry, Slate.” He says. I nod, looking down at my friend in my arms. My dead friend, his life taken too early.

I feel my chest tighten as another tear rolls down my face. I look up at  Spike with sad eyes.

“I knew this would happen. I just knew it. Someone was going to get hurt. I just didn't think it was going to be him.” I say sorrowfully.

Spike nods, putting his hand on my shoulder.

“I know Slate, I know. At least it was quick.”

Looking out the open side of the helicopter, I sigh.

All I want is to go home. To the Ghosts.

But it won't feel like home anymore.

Because we'll be missing one.

That devious, devilish grin won't be in the room.

That sarcastic tone won't be heard.

Those intense eyes will never see again.

I'll never hear his laugh again.

He's gone.

Match is gone.

Someone I've known for 12 years.

I never thought I'd see the day where I'd have to carry him to his grave. But here I am sitting in a chopper, holding my best friend in my arms, covered in his blood, bringing him home to his fellow Ghosts. Bringing him home to rest forever.

Another tear rolls down my face and I sigh. Closing my eyes, I lean my head back against the wall as I try to relinquish the fear that has a tight hold on my body.

As the warm tears turn cold on my cheeks, I take a shaky breath.

Why did it have to be you, Match..... Why did it have to be you......


CODY

I laugh as I listen to Hesh telling more jokes. I like this side of him a lot more. I guess this is apparently what he was like before he went nuts. I don't know what happened, but he's back to normal, it seems.

Hesh turns around to face me, and he smirks.

“Hey, Cody, you knew my dad right?” He asks, and I raise my eyebrow.

“Well, yeah. We all did. He was the top Ghost, after Rorke.” Logan glances over at Hesh.

“I told you!” He says triumphantly, and Hesh rolls his eyes.

“Good for you.” He says with a snicker. Gavin smirks at Keegan, who holds back a laugh.

Logan meets my eyes.

“What was it like, when you guys first became the Ghosts?” He asks, and I catch Gavin and Keegan’s eyes.

I shrug.

“I mean, it was just like becoming a new soldier, but on a whole new level. When we became Ghosts, we realized that we had a much higher responsibility than others. We were the leaders. And we had to lead our soldiers to victory.” I say, and Hesh grins, leaning back in his chair, putting his hands behind his head.

“The way I see it, being Ghosts is the highest honor you can get. You're the best of the best, but you don't get that from nowhere. You worked to get here. We all did. And we all look out for each other.” He says, and I nod, then meet his eyes.

“We take care of each other. Always.” I say to him, and he nods, understanding the unsaid apology for all that happened. Gavin smirks, sighing.

“Man, if it was always like this, with us joking around, that would be amazing.” He says wishfully, and Keegan sits forward, leaning his arms on his knees.

“Well, when Merrick, Slate, Spike and Match get back, they'll have killed Rorke, and we won't have to worry about that bastard again.” He says with an anticipation of relief.

Suddenly, the faint sound of a helicopter can be heard, and we all meet eyes.

“They're back!” Hesh says, jumping up, and running up towards the roof with Logan, sprinting up the stairs.

I shake my head with a chuckle. I turn to Gavin and Keegan.

“Man, I’ll be glad to see Slate and Match, Spike and Merrick. Plus, I bet they'll be overjoyed that Hesh is back to normal.” I say, and Gavin nods.

“More or less back to normal.” He shrugs, and Keegan elbows him harshly, and Gavin draws back a little, rubbing his shoulder.

“Owww……” He mutters indignantly.

Keegan rolls his eyes.

“Come on.” He says, and we all walk up to the roof.

As we reach the top, I can see Merrick and Spike, and I smile.

“Hey! Good to see you tw-”

I stop myself when I see Spike’s bleeding shoulder, Merrick’s scratches, and the solemn look that covers both their faces. I feel a weight suddenly drop on my chest, and a horrible feeling.

Then I notice Hesh and Logan, crouched down in the chopper, and I raise my eyebrow.

I slowly walk over, and I look over towards them.

“Hey, where are-”

Spike hurries over to me, and pushes against my shoulder, holding me back.

“Cody, you should just go back downstairs.” He says, and I startle, looking at him with a raised eyebrow, confused.

Then I see the look on his face.

Pain, and sorrowful guilt.

My eyes widen when it occurs to me, and I push against him.

“Spike, let go of me!” I shout, shoving him off of me.

He stumbles back, and glances over at Keegan and Gavin, who stare at him with wide eyes.

I run over to the helicopter, stopping at the door. Climbing up, I move next to them.

“Hesh, where’s-”

I cut myself off, eyes widening when I see Hesh and Logan crouched next to Slate, who holds Match in his arms, both covered in blood.

My breath catches in my throat as I my eyes stick on Match. His leg is destroyed, and his arm is half gone. His face is splattered with blood, along with the rest of his body. Slate holds him tightly, crying.

“M...Match….” My voice comes out shaky and barely audible.

Logan turns his head to look at me with wide eyes as I fall to my knees. Slate looks up at me desolately, his eyes red, both from crying and the blood that stains his face. His hands are now seemingly permanently stained with dark red blood, his shirt dyed crimson.

I taste vomit in my mouth, and as much as I try to, I can't hold it back. I cough as I retch, and Hesh turns to put his hand on my back.

“Cody, I’m so sorry…” He says dolefully. I wipe my mouth with the back of my hand, still tasting the bile on my tongue. My throat burns, and I close my eyes.

“Cody?” I hear behind me, and I turn weakly to see Keegan and Gavin standing behind me, then they become wide-eyed as they see Match in Slate’s arms.

“Holy shit…” Keegan mutters, and I shake, planting my hands on the floor to steady myself, my head now spinning.

Match….It can't be real….

Slowly raising my head, I look back at Slate as Hesh pulls him away forcefully from Match’s body.

Spike and Hesh hold him back as he pulls against them.

“NO! LET ME GO!!” He shouts as Merrick and Logan move Match’s body.

Slate kicks and flails against them, but they hold him tightly. He finally relaxes, and falls to the floor of the chopper.

His shoulders shake as he cries, and I scoot closer to him, putting my hand on his shoulder. Raising his head, he meets my eyes, and the pain we both feel is clear, and tears flow from my eyes as I hug Slate. He sobs into my shoulder.

“Why….why did it have to be him?!” He bawls, and I shake my head.

“I don't know…” I feel my chest tighten when I think of the last conversation I had with him.

 

“Match, just cool it. I know it seems like suicide, but Thomas Merrick is a smart man. He’ll get you guys through this.” I had said.

“And if he doesn't?” Match said forcefully, and I hesitated.

“Then I guess I won't get to hear you say ‘I told you so’.” I responded with a small smirk.

“You dick.” Match said with a small snicker. I laughed.

“Good luck, Match. You're gonna need it.” I said and Match chuckled.

“Thanks. You too. I'll see you on the other side.”

 

“I'll see you on the other side.”

 

Those words echo in my head, and I feel the emptiness in my heart.

Match is gone.

He's actually gone.

There's nothing I can do about that. As much as I would like to believe it, this isn't a dream.

I sigh deeply, and hold Slate away from me.

“Come on. Let's go inside.” I say quietly, my voice cracking as I try not to cry again.

Slate slowly stands up uneasily, and we climb out of the heli together. I have him lean on me as we walk towards the door, and I glance to the side to see Match’s body laid on the ground.

Merrick looks up at me, soon met with the gazes of all the Ghosts.

Their sympathetic eyes feel empty to me.

Nothing can help this now.

Nothing can change it.

Nothing can bring my best friend back.

Chapter Text

One Week Later

 

HESH

I sit on the counter in the main room, staring over at Logan, who looks out the window, his mind wandering. I sigh.

We're bored. Nothing has been happening.

At all.

But there is an amazing relief that fills me.

Rorke is dead. Actually dead. A bullet in his skull.

But we lost Match. Slate and Cody just aren't the same. I can understand why. They lost one of their teammates. One they've had for twelve years. I'd be torn apart, too.

I actually know what they're going through. I lost my brother for seven months. I didn't even know if he was still alive. But I got him back.

The Shadows lost Match. He's not coming back. He's...gone.

I sigh heavily, then look back up at Logan.

“Hey.” I say, but he doesn't even seem to hear me.

I frown, then turn around. Seeing a pen lying on the desk, I pick it up, turn back towards Logan, and smirk. I flick the pen to hit him right in the back of the head, and he jolts in surprise, then whips his head towards me.

“OW! What the hell was that for?!” He shouts, and I raise my eyebrows in amusement, leaning my hands back on the counter, swinging my legs.

“I dunno. I called your name but you didn't look up. So I hit you with a pen.” I say casually, and Logan glares at me. He picks the pen up from the floor, and whips it at me. I duck out of the way just in time, the pen flying right by my face.

A determined, competitive look crosses my face, and my head slowly turns back to Logan.

“Okay.” I say with a smirk, feeling around the desk behind me.

Logan frowns.

“Hesh, why-”

My fingers run over an eraser, and I smirk. Picking it up, I fling it at Logan, and it hits him in the forehead as he tries to bat it away.

He groans, and narrows his eyes.

“REALLY?!” He shouts irritably, and I shrug, grinning.

“Man, you gotta work on your reflexes.” I suggest, and Logan grits his teeth.

“Shut up, David.” He says, and I hold back a smirk, masking it with a straight face.

“Yeah? Make me.” I taunt, and Logan walks over, grabs my arm, and pulls me off the counter. He pulls me into a headlock, and I chuckle.

“Hah! I knew that would piss you off.” I snicker, and Logan frowns.

“What the hell do you want? Why are you bugging me?” He asks and I sigh, then twist away from him, looking into his eyes.

“Look, I've noticed you're bored, too. All you've done is sit around, just staring out the goddamn window. I was just trying to get you up.” I say, and Logan sighs. Shoving his hands in the pockets of his jacket, Logan leans back against the counter with a sad look on his face. I frown, and walk to stand next to him. Nudging his shoulder a little, I raise my eyebrow.

“Hey, what's up?” I ask curiously, and Logan takes a deep breath, then looks to the side, down towards where Cody and Slate’s rooms are.

“I just feel so bad for them.” He then turns his head, looking down the other way, where the other Ghosts were, in the other waiting area at the end of the hall.

“Plus, it just feels weird that nothing’s happening. I think this is the first time it's ever been quiet in, what, like ten years?” He says, and I shake my head.

“Okay, first of all, yeah, I also feel bad for them. I know what it's like to lose someone you care about. We both do.” I say, and Logan’s eyes show that he knows I mean both him and dad.

“Second of all, I know it's weird that nothing’s happening. But we should be happy. We’ve never really known what it's like to not be a soldier, Logan. Not since we were kids. 10 years ago when ODIN hit. But now that Rorke’s gone, that all may change. We may not have to fight anymore.” I sigh, and shake my head.

“Personally, I just wish we could go back to being kids.” I say reminiscently.

Logan looks at me with a raised eyebrow.

“Really?”

I nod, then smirk. I tackle him to the floor, and he tries to shove me off of him, but I hold him down, laughing.

“Yeah. I always kicked your ass.” Logan furrows his brow, then grins. He rolls to the side, out from under me. He then grabs my arm and holds it behind my back, sitting on top of me.

“Oh, yeah?” He says mockingly, and I laugh.

“Okay, you would win sometimes.” I admit, then I grab him by his shirt, flip him up and over me, then hold him to the ground. He coughs a little from the force, and I smirk.

“But I usually won.” I say, and Logan laughs.

“Yeah, whatever. Get off.” He says with a smile. I stand up, and hold out my hand. He grabs my wrist, and I pull him to his feet. Staring into my eyes he smirks. I snicker a little, trying to hold back a laugh. Logan bites his lip, then starts laughing. I join in, and lean against the counter.

“Man, I haven't done that in years.” I say with a laugh, and Logan looks to the side at me, still giggling.

“What? Tackle me to the ground?”

I sigh, and tilt my head at him.

NO. Have fun. Like brothers.” I respond, and Logan stops, then smiles.

“Yeah...Yeah, I did kinda miss that. Just us hanging out, screwing around…”

I sigh.

“It's just been so long since we've actually been able to be….well…..actually brothers. We've been soldiers since we were teenagers, and as such we had to grow up pretty quick, and put our brotherhood aside. Well, the fun side, at least.” I say with a smirk, and Logan nods. He frowns, and I tilt my head a little.

“What is it?” I ask, and Logan shakes his head.

“It's just...do you ever wish dad didn't make us into soldiers?” He looks up at me, and I raise my eyebrow.

I hesitate, and sigh.

“I mean, I never really thought about it before. All I ever thought about was dad teaching us everything we needed to know, not taking away our childhood. But….maybe. I only know about being a soldier, not being anything else.” I say, and Logan shrugs.

“It doesn't really matter. We are what we are. And we're good at what we do.” He says, and I nod.

“Yeah…” I glance at Logan with a smile.

“Yeah we are.”

Glancing to the side, my eyes fall on Logan’s Ghost mask. I pick it up, and just stare at the mark on the front of it. The face of the Ghost. I sigh. Glancing up at Logan, I shake my head.

“We're Ghosts now. We don't have time to be kids.” I say, and Logan shrugs.

“That doesn't mean we can't be kids. It just meant we had to act like adults. We had to focus on the war. But now, since it's over….”

Logan trails off, and lifts himself up onto the counter. He groans and sits sideways on it, lying back, swinging the one leg that hangs down while the other is propped up on the edge.

I look at my brother with pain.

He was turned into a soldier at 16 years old. He was forced to grow up so fast. He makes an amazing Ghost, but I still wish it could have been better for him.

And then, what he had to go through….

Everything that's happened to him….

What he endured….

No kid should have to suffer through that.

Sure, we're adults now, but at the same time, we're still teenagers. Still young.

I wish I could go back and live our childhood again.

Just Logan and I.

Like it was before ODIN turned against us and destroyed the world we knew.

I lift myself up onto the counter, and lean against Logan’s propped up leg. Taking a deep breath, I shake my head.

“So what now?” I ask, and I hear Logan sigh.

“I don't know.”

Merrick walks in and stops, staring at us.

“Well, you boys look like someone just bombed your house."

Opening my eyes, I tilt my head to look at Merrick.

“The Federation did 10 years ago.” I say flatly, and both Logan and Merrick go quiet. An awkward silence follows, then I shrug my shoulders.

“What? Also, Merrick, we just don't know what to do. I mean, is it all over now? Do you think that since the Federation no longer has its leader, they'll stop coming for us?” I ask, and Merrick sighs, then leans against the wall.

“I don't know, kid. All I know is that this has been very…..different. As Ghosts, we're all accumulated to battle and action. Not relaxation and peace.” He says, then Keegan walks in.

“Not that we don't enjoy it. A little rest is nice. We haven't had any down time, as in the Federation not looking to skin us, in a really long time.” He says, and I nod.

Closing my eyes, I think back to the last real battle we had with the Federation. When they took Fort Santa Monica.

Suddenly something registers in my head, and I sit up quickly.

Logan, Keegan, and Merrick all look at me.

“Hesh, what is it?” Logan asks, propping himself up on his arms. I frown, then turn my head to look at all of them.

“Do you think Davis and the soldiers from the fort are still alive?” I ask, and Keegan looks at me with a raised eyebrow.

“Where the hell did that come from?” He asks, and I frown.

“Never mind that. Just...do you think they could be alive?” I ask, and Merrick rubs his chin, thinking.

Logan shrugs.

“I mean….it's possible….” He says slowly, and we all catch each other’s glance. Logan sits up next to me, glancing at me from the side.

“If...if they are still alive, where do you think they would be?” He asks, and I hesitate.

“I...I don't know. But I think that they might still be alive.” I turn to Merrick and Keegan, looking at them with a set jaw.

“I’m going back to Santa Monica.” I say, and Logan’s eyes widen.

“Hesh, you can't!” He says, as Spike and Gavin walk in.

“He can't what?” Gavin asks, and Keegan crosses his arms.

“Hesh wants to go back to Santa Monica.” He says with a heavy sigh, and Spike stares at me with wide eyes.

“WHY?!” He shouts, and I shrug.

“I….I just know that my men are still alive. I can't just leave them. They're my men.” I say seriously, and Merrick shakes his head.

“Hesh-”

“I’m going with you.”

I turn my head to see Logan staring at me with tenacious eyes.

“Davis was my friend, too. Is. I want to help you. Plus, I made you a promise.” He states, and I raise my eyebrow.

“You did?”

Logan nods.

“That I will never leave you again.” He responds earnestly. I feel a wave of hope wash over me, joined by joy.

“Okay. We leave in the-”

Keegan steps forward.

“Uh, hold up.” He says, and Logan and I both look up to meet harsh blue eyes.

“You're not going back to Santa Monica! We have to stick together now!” He says definitively.

I shake my head.

“With all due respect, Keegan.... Logan and I are still going to Santa Monica. We have to find our soldiers, this time without the Ghosts.” I say decisively.

Merrick, Gavin, Spike, and Keegan all exchange a worried glance, then Merrick sighs.

“I know you two are going to go, no matter how hard we try to stop you. So...just take care of each other.” Merrick says thickly.

I nod, then turn to Logan.

“Let's get our stuff ready.” I say, and Logan and I walk down the hall together, leaving the Ghosts in the other room.

As we reach the area where we had bunked and left our gear, Logan glances over at me.

“David, do you really think we'll find Davis and the others?” He asks softly, and I sigh tensely as I pack up my bag, strapping the bedroll to the outside of it, then the flares to the shoulder straps.

“I...I don't know, Logan. I hope so.” I answer as I pick up my jacket, and pull it on over my shirt, zipping it up. I grab my hat, and pull it on over my buzzed hair. I turn to face Logan, and I see he already has his jacket on, his light brown hair sticking up messily.

Pulling on his backpack, he looks up to meet my eyes, the deep blue of them sporting his strong-willed nature. I slip my pack on over my shoulder, then pick up my gun from the table, checking the mag. Logan already has his in his hands, ready to go, and I nod.

“Let's go.” I say, and we walk back down the hall.

As we pass the waiting room, I glance to the side, and see all the Ghosts, including Cody and Slate, standing talking. They turn when they see me, and I stop. Logan pauses a few feet in front of me, and follows my gaze to meet the eyes of all of our friends.

Merrick, Keegan and I all share a look.

A face that in one connection recounts all of the times we've worked together, and the family we've become.

I sigh, and walk over to them. Keegan steps forwards, putting his hand on my shoulder.

“Good luck, bro.” He says roughly but caringly, and I nod, blinking back a tear.

Instantly I wrap my arms around him in a hug, and he embraces me tightly.

“I'll never forget you, Keegan.” I say quietly, my voice pained but strong.

He nods.

“Me neither.” He says heavily. My friend holds me at arm's length, and grins.

“Keep your brother safe.” He says, and I nod.

“Of course.”

Merrick glances over at Logan.

“That goes for you, too, Logan. Watch over Hesh.” He orders, and Logan nods, meeting his eyes.

“You know I will.” He says solidly.

I turn away from my team, angst and hurt pulling at me as I walk to my brother’s side.

Turning back, I meet the eyes of Cody, Gavin, Slate and Spike. Nodding at them, they meet the same recognition.

Logan puts his hand on my shoulder, and with a heavy sigh, I turn away from my family, and walk down the hall with my brother towards our new mission.

Chapter Text

2 Days Later


 

 

LOGAN

As Hesh and I walk carefully through the brush around the large Federation convoys travelling down the road, I feel anxiety creeping up in my chest.

As we've gotten closer and closer to Santa Monica, the number of Federation soldiers has been steadily increasing. Hesh and I have already taken out six patrols, and had to keep down from multiple convoys. I just hope that all of this is worth it.

Suddenly Hesh spins around and pushes me to the ground, lying down. I stare at him with wide, fear-filled eyes.

“What? What is it?” I whisper urgently, and Hesh shakes his head quickly, putting his finger to his lips, then pointing to our right.

Slowly turning my head, I see a multitude of Fed soldiers advancing down the road, and in seconds they're right next to us, only about three feet away from us, the tall grass the only thing hiding us from their view.

My eyes widen, and Hesh clamps his hand over my mouth as they walk by. My heartbeat quickens, and I feel the anxiety I was just trying to push down rise in my stomach again. After what feels like hours, the soldiers finally pass, and Hesh slowly takes his hand away from my mouth, and meets my eyes with a stressful expression.

“Well damn. That was close.” He breathes straightly, and I stare at him with widening eyes.

“Close?! Any closer, and they would have stepped on us! Hesh, we have to get away from the convoy area! It's just too densely occupied!” I hiss with urgency.

Hesh sighs, glancing around watchfully, then nods.

“You're right. Follow my lead.” He says, slowly getting up to a crouch. I do the same, and follow him as he leads us through the tall grass, to the treeline about fifty yards from the road.

He glances back towards the road, and takes a deep breath.

“Okay. We should be good. But just to be safe, we'll hug the trees as we move.” He says, and I nod.

“Let's go.”

We move further down the stretch, weapons at the ready, fingers on triggers. After about twenty minutes, we reach a river, and Hesh looks up and down the banks. Watching him intently, I raise my eyebrow.

“What is it?” I ask warily, and Hesh shakes his head.

“Just checking for any Feds. This river is one of the drop off points. We have to be careful.” He divulges. We carefully jump down the bank, and start to cross the river.

Suddenly a shout makes us both switch to high alert. A bullet shoots between us, and we both jump back, wide-eyed. Looking upstream, I can see about thirteen Federation soldiers aiming at us, shouting. My eyes widen.

“HESH!” I yell, and he turns to see the soldiers, and his eyes narrow.

“Dammit!” Raising his gun, he starts to shoot, and I follow his example. The soldiers start to fall, and the water runs red as their blood makes its way down the stream to us. The shouting slowly ceases as the thirteen dwindle down to three.

One shoots his gun, and the bullet just barely grazes my arm. I curse, but pay no heed.

Pulling off a shot, my gun takes him out, then the other two fall from Hesh. I sigh, and turn to my brother.

“That was way too close.” I say, and Hesh nods, breathing hard. I notice his shoulder has a small stain of blood at the top, and his lower leg has a red spot.

“Hesh, you got shot?!” I exclaim, and he shakes his head.

“Just grazes.” His eyes fall on my arm, and he nods towards it.

“You, too?” He says, and I nod.

“Let's keep moving.” He says, and I nod, following him as we climb up the bank.

After having just climbed to the top, the tree next to us suddenly explodes, cracking down the middle. Hesh’s eyes widen.

“MOVE!!” He shouts, and we both scramble away as the tree falls right where we were two seconds prior.

Spinning to look behind us, I can see more Federation soldiers filtering out of the trees, then my eyes fall on one crouched on the shore, holding a rocket launcher.

“Hesh! We got RPGs!” I shout, and he grabs my hand, pulling me to my feet.

“RUN!!” He yells, and I sprint after him. Another shot echoes through the trees, then the ground next to us explodes, sending me flying to the side in a spew of dirt, grass and rocks.

“LOGAN!!” Hesh screams, and I groan, struggling to get up, my sight a little foggy. Blood drips down the side of my head from where a rock hit, and I cough at the dust. Then an arm around my shoulder is lifting me up, and Hesh takes a breath.

“Come on!” He shouts, and I blink away the blur, my balance returning.

“I’m okay...I’m okay…” I mutter, then a hail of bullets splinter the trees behind us, and I shove Hesh forward.

“SHIT! They've got MGs, too!” I shout frantically as we sprint deeper into the trees. The shouts of the soldiers slowly fade away, as the bullets recess.

Following Hesh, we still sprint away long after we're out of range of the soldiers. When we can't run anymore, Hesh and I both collapse against the trees, breathing heavily.

Sliding down to the ground, I lean my head back, closing my eyes.

“We….we have to….be more….careful…” I gasp through my rapid breath, still trying to restore the air in my lungs. Opening my eyes, I glance over at my brother. He nods, standing with his hands planted on his knees, bent over as he regains his breath.

“Yeah….I know….” He takes a deep breath, then stands up with a groan. Meeting my eyes, his eyes are tired and stressed. Looking back over my shoulder at the way we came, he sighs.

“We should keep moving. Try to get as far away from here as possible.” I raise my gaze to the sky, then frown.

“It's about three hours till dark.” I lift myself up, and stand wearily.

“Let's get going.” I say restlessly, and Hesh nods. Gripping my gun tightly, I trace his footsteps as we run through the trees again.

Shaking my head to myself, I exhale loudly. It's still about 21 miles to Santa Monica. We're going to have to bed down somewhere tonight.

But the fear of the Federation soldiers has me on edge, and I know that even though my body is exhausted, I won't be able to sleep tonight.


 

 

9 hours later

 

HESH

I shake Logan awake from leaning against the tree.

“Logan, get up…” I mutter, looking around nervously. He stirs slightly, and I shake him again.

“LOGAN, GET UP!” I shout, and Logan snaps his eyes open, and looks up at me alertly.

“Wha...what?! What's happening?!” He shouts, and I look around again.

“We have to get moving. The Feds will be here soon. We can't just wait around.” I urge, and Logan sits up, nodding.

“Grab your gear, let's move.” I say, and Logan jumps up. We start through the woods again, and my eyes sweep the trees, carefully scanning for any movement. Logan follows me closely, looking around nervously.

“Hesh, how far till Santa Monica?” He asks, and I sigh.

“Maybe 5 miles. We'll be there soon. Don't worr-”

Suddenly five men jump out from behind the trees in front of us, holding guns at the ready.

“Drop your weapons!” The man closest to us yells, and I raise my eyebrow, then my eyes widen.

“Wait a second…” I mutter, and the man looks at me, then lowers his gun.

“Hang on….” He narrows his eyes looking at me, then a look of realisation crosses his face.

“Hesh?” He guesses, and Logan’s eyes widen.

“Davis?” We all meet eyes, and then we smile, laughing, lowering our weapons. I meet Logan’s eyes.

“I told you we'd find them!” I claim, and Logan smirks.

“Yeah. I know.”

Davis walks over to us.

“You were looking for us?” He asks, and I nod.

“I knew you guys were still alive. I don't know how I knew, I just knew.”

Davis grins, then looks behind us.

“Where are Merrick and Keegan and Kick?” He asks, and I tense when he mentions Kick.

Logan catches my eye, then turns to Davis.

“Kick was….he…..Rorke killed him in South America.” He covers, and I raise my eyebrow, startled at his lie. But I lay it aside.

I shake my head.

“Merrick and Keegan are in New Mexico. With the other Ghosts we found.” I say, and from behind Davis, Corporal Trent steps forward.

“Wait, there are more Ghosts?!” He says incredulously, and Logan nods.

“Yeah. We would still be with them, but Hesh felt that he had to come back to try to find you guys. Just the two of us.” He explains, and Davis nods.

“Okay…..Anyway, we need to get moving. We thought you were the Federation soldiers scouring the area.” He says, and I raise my eyebrow.

“How many are there?” I ask intensely, and Ramon shakes his head next to Davis.

“Too many. We can't fight them off, even now that we have you two.” He states plainly, and I smirk.

“That remains to be seen.”

Davis shakes his head at me.

“He's right, Walker. We won't be able to engage them in combat without casualties. Ones which we can't afford.” He says grimly, and Logan glances over at me.

“Hesh, we need to get to the fort.” He says, and Davis raises his eyebrows.

“What are you talking about?” He wonders as Logan and I share a glance.

“The fort? Fort Santa Monica? We're headed back there.” Logan says, and Davis exchanges a nervous glance with his men.

“Walker, the base was completely taken by the Federation. There's no point in trying to even go near it.” He states, and I sigh, rubbing my face with my hand, then meeting Logan’s eyes.

“Well, shit.” I mutter, then a shout to the side of us makes us all tense.

Immediately raising our guns, we turn to see a mass of Federation soldiers running towards us.

My eyes widen, and I turn to my men.

“GET READY! SHIT’S ABOUT TO GO DOWN!”


 

 

LOGAN

I look forward with determined eyes at the advancing Federation soldiers. Hesh and Davis stand behind two trees, and I behind a third. The other four soldiers are behind various bushes and other trees.

Looking around the tree, Hesh takes a deep breath, then motions to me to flank around. I spin around the tree, out into the open.

“GO LOUD!!” Hesh yells, and we all start to fire on the Feds. Davis and I step forward a bit, and I narrow my eyes as I try to keep out of the way of the bullets.

Holding down my trigger, I can hear my mag running low. After six more shots, it's empty.

I spin back around behind the tree.

“RELOADING!!” I yell, and Hesh nods.

“I GOT YOU!” He says as the empty mag drops to the ground and I replace it with a full one. Readying my gun, I spin back around and keep firing.

“I’M OUT!” Ramon yells, and Trent tosses him a mag.

“HERE!”

Davis glances over at me, and nods. I pull a grenade from the stack on my vest, and rip the pin away. Hucking it towards the Feds, I close my eyes as the bright explosion of it brings screaming from the now dying soldiers.

“Keep pushing through!!” Hesh encourages, and I set my jaw. Stepping forward again, I steady my gun, taking down more of the soldiers.

A pain in my shoulder alerts me I've been shot, but the lack of agony tells that it's not serious. Another shot grazes my leg, and I grit my teeth.

I can see in the distance a soldier with a rocket launcher, and I turn to one of Davis’ men, Cameron.

“CAM! RPG, 11 O'CLOCK!” I shout, and he nods.

“GOT IT!” He pulls his sniper rifle, and finds the soldier in his sights. I watch as the soldier falls before he can pull the trigger of the RPG, and I sigh, still firing on the soldiers.

“Jeezus, how many are there?!” Hesh shouts, and Davis groans.

“I TOLD YOU THERE WERE TOO MANY!!!” He yells, and Hesh rolls his eyes.

“Save it, Davis.” He degrades, and Davis frowns.

Spinning back behind the tree, I glance over at my brother. He has a shot in his shoulder that drips blood down his arm, and a small graze on the side of his head lends a blood trickle down his neck.

“David!” I yell, and Hesh steps back behind the tree to get cover, then looks over at me.

“What?” He shouts, and I glance around.

“I don't exactly see how we can really win this one!” I say defeatedly, and Hesh shakes his head, pulling off his hat and wiping his brow, rubbing his hair with his hand.

“We can't just lay down our weapons and give in to them, Logan! I will not bow to them!” He yells resolutely, and I groan.

His stubbornness can't be reasoned with.

I've tried before.

It just doesn't work.

I grumble under my breath, and turn back to the battle. There aren't any more soldiers running out into the field, which gives me a small amount of hope. Trent and Ramon step forward, with Cameron and Sam behind them. They all fire their guns, letting Davis and I step back.

The front line of the Federation falls, then I see five of the soldiers step up, and my eyes widen.

“MGs!!” I shout, and we all dive for cover as the bullets start to fly. They splinter the trees we hide behind, and I close my eyes, feeling the bark flying off around me.

I blindly shoot around the tree, and the MG fire stops for a moment. In that small opportunity, I jump out and hold down the trigger of my gun, felling about ten more soldiers. Sam fires his gun, and two more fall, then four from Trent’s gun.

Two of the soldiers with the MGs start to fire again, and Davis shouts in pain as a bullet hits him in the leg. I feel one tear into my arm, and I squeeze my eyes shut in agony, then raise my gun, despite the intense shooting pain in my hand as I hold down the trigger.

Only three soldiers remain, and I fire with gritted teeth and narrowed eyes.

These fucks took everything we ever had.

They murdered dad.

They took me.

They tortured Hesh.

They killed Match.

My anger pours out of me in a roar as I shout incoherently towards the Fed soldiers. As the last soldier drops to the ground, I fall against the tree, breathing heavily. Lifting my head up, I meet Davis’ eyes, and he nods with a smirk.

“Good job, kid.” He says as Cameron, Trent, Sam and Ramon stand up. Cam holds a hand on his bleeding arm, and Ramon sits on the ground, wrapping his wounded leg in a bandage.

I stop, then look around.

“Where's Hesh?” I ask, and everyone pauses, meeting each other’s eyes.

My heartbeat quickens, and my breath grows shaky.

“HESH!” I call out as our soldiers look at each other uneasily. I glance to near where he was, seeing nothing. A pit in my stomach forms, and I drop my gun to run over.

As I near, I see a gun fallen under a tree, and the fear grows. Running around another tree towards it, the other side of the tree comes into view, and I stop, wide-eyed, staring at the young man on the ground slumped against it.

“Hesh…” My voice comes out desolately, barely a whisper.

Sprinting to my brother’s side, I drop to my knees, my chest tightening.

Six bullet wounds in his chest quickly spread blood over him, and another shot in his leg has pooled dark red on the ground. His hand lays fallen to the side, fingers wet with blood, his right arm wound streaking red down his sleeve.

My breath shakes as I stare at his handsome face, blood running from his mouth, eyes closed.

“David…” I utter quietly, and I slowly pull him into my lap.

His head hangs lifelessly over my arm, his short hair rubbing against it softly, and tears wet my cheeks.

“No….” I lay him on the ground and my hand hovers over him, unsure of what to do.

Taking a breath, I press on his chest, trying to stop the bleeding.

“No, no, no….” I murmur, heart pounding.

Davis steps around the tree, and his eyes widen, as do Cameron’s when he follows.

“Damn…” Cameron mutters, and Davis crouches down next to me.

“Logan…” He says softly, and I shake my head, looking down at my brother’s still form.

My eyes widen, and I spring up to start CPR, hurriedly pushing down on his chest, then breathing air into his mouth. Frantically trying to bring my brother back, my hands shake in fear.

“David, please!” I shout, sending him breath again. But his body lays unmoving, eyes still closed lightly. A drop of blood falls from my lip, gained when trying to resuscitate Hesh.

My shoulders shake, and my breath stops, choking on air. Cameron puts his hand on my shoulder.

“Logan, I’m so sorry.” He offers softly, and I fall forward next to Hesh, tears now streaming down my face.

“No... NO!... IT CAN'T … HE'S NOT…” My words start to jumble together, and I collapse onto Hesh’s body, as I realise he’s never to move again.

“David…” I sob into his shoulder, grasping at his jacket tightly, the blood that soaks it now staining my fingers and streaking my face.

My brother.

My big brother.

My everything.

The only thing I had left.

He's….he's…

My mind won't accept the fact.

Cameron starts to pull me away, but I shove his hand back, holding David’s body with my life.

“NO! I CAN'T LEAVE HIM!!!!” I scream as my heart is wrenched apart.

The most important thing in my life, the only person I ever loved, the man that taught me everything I know, my brother, now lays dead in my arms.

Dead .

I can't….I can't.

Denial fills my being, and I shake Hesh’s shoulders, my head still pressed on his chest.

“DAVID, PLEASE!! DON'T LEAVE ME!!!” I sob desolately, losing breath and gasping for air as my shoulders shake violently. I can hear voices around me, but my mind has blocked everything out.

Only my brother and I are left.

My David.

His life stolen from him, from me.

My everything is gone.

David is gone.

He's dead.

Only now do I feel the coldness that fills my body.

The fear.

The desperation.

My brother is dead.

My mouth opens in a scream silent to my ears as I’m pulled away from his body. Kicking and flailing in the arms that securely hold me, my world remains quiet.

No sound.

No color.

Everything has turned black and white, except the bright red blood that stains my hands and Hesh's body. It swims in my eyes, and every emotion running through my body is amped up to full volt.

My pain erupts in a cascade of tears, and my throat starts to hurt, as I realise this whole time I've been screaming.

I can see Davis and Trent kneeling next to Hesh’s body, and my breath stops, staring with wide eyes as my whole world is taken away from me.

Suddenly, my body shuts down, and I gasp for breath, then utter one word, the first sound to be heard by my ears in what seems like ages.

“David...”

My voice is hoarse and pained as I gasp for breath again. I feel another pair of arms take me, and I slump in their grasp as I drop into darkness, tears still dripping from my chin.

….... I’m so sorry, David……

…...I love you…..

Chapter Text

29 hours earlier


 

 

KEEGAN

I grit my teeth as I strap my sleeping roll to the outside of my backpack, then slip my knife into the sheath on my leg. Shoving some extra mags for my rifle into the side pocket of my bag, I zip it up, then clip a water canteen to the side.

I have to leave soon.

They can't know. Otherwise…

“What are you doing?”

I jump, and spin around to see Spike standing in the doorway, staring at me, eyebrow raised.

I bite my lip.

“Uhh….”

He looks from me to the backpack behind me, to the rifle laid on the counter, then back to me with a frustrated look. I glance to the side, trying to avoid his angered eyes.

“You're going after them, aren't you?!” He shouts, and I cringe, then sigh. Looking up at my friend, I shake my head.

“I can't just let them go alone, Spike. Besides, I just have this...bad feeling.” I say slowly, and Spike crosses his arms.

“I know that look, Keegan. You're worried about Hesh. I get it. But you can't just leave.” He remarks, and I raise my eyebrow.

“Oh yeah? Watch me, Spike.” I say harshly, and Spike’s eyes widen, then he takes a deep, exasperated breath, rubbing his face with his hand.

“Man, you know what? You’re starting to seem like the young eighteen year old Keegan I had on my team those ten years ago. Irritable, irrational, irresponsible, and deliberately disobeying orders.” He mutters, and I frown as I sling my backpack over my shoulder, then pick up my gun.

“Spike, I’m sorry. But I can't just let Hesh and Logan lay down their lives. I have to help. Whether you like it or not.” I say roughly, and Spike groans.

“See?! This is exactly what I mean! You just wouldn't quit! Still won't! WHY?!” He asks restlessly, and I stare at him with a curious, angry look.

“Are you serious?! THEY'RE GHOSTS! LIKE US!! We don't let them go out and get themselves killed!! They're two of the best Ghosts I've ever seen, yes, but they're still young! Hesh is the same age as me! He and Logan, they're....I can't just let them-”

I stop myself, and sigh, looking down at the ground.

“I don't want them to get hurt.”

I say quietly, and Spike’s eyes widen. He opens his mouth to say something, then he closes it, rubbing the back of his head.

“Keegan…..I….” He takes a deep breath.

“There's a Jeep down at the gas station that you can take. You'll get there faster.” He says strenuously, and my head snaps up.

“Wait, what?” I ask, confused, and he shrugs.

“I know I can't stop you. So I might as well help you.” He says gruffly, and I smirk. Meeting his eyes, he smiles, and I walk to stand next to him. Putting my hand on his shoulder, I nod.

“Thanks, Spike.” I say earnestly, and he nods, then hugs me.

“Just watch out for yourself and those two.” He says softly, and I hold him tight.

“I will.” He lets go, and as we meet each other’s eyes, a silent salute is given. I smile sadly, then turn to run down the hall, careful to not attract any attention from the other Ghosts.

After running down to the second floor, I jump to the building next to the hospital through a broken part of the wall to an open window, rolling to the side, my rifle dinging a little as it hits the metal ground. I sprint through the building, and after ten minutes of running through different buildings and over rooftops, I reach the gas station, without ever touching foot on the road.

I learned my lesson last time.

I see the Jeep parked at the gas station, and I jump down to it, swinging from the roof. Hot wiring it quickly, I put it into gear, and take a deep breath. Glancing back at the hospital, I close my eyes and sigh.

Goodbye, Hawks. Goodbye, Shadows. Goodbye, Merrick. I’m sorry I have to leave, but I can't let Hesh and Logan get hurt. I know you'll understand.

I look back to the road, then put the Jeep into drive, and speed down the road towards the two boys I care about most in this world.


 

 

19 Hours Later

 

KEEGAN

As I near the edge of Santa Monica, I can see a number of Federation soldiers and convoys.

Immediately I pull off the road, and jump out of the Jeep. Pulling my sniper rifle around, I lift it to stare down the scope. In the distance I can see a large convoy, and multiple Federation troops.

Crouching down near the road, I catch something in the corner of my scope.

Upon zooming in, my eyes widen when I see two men my age slowly making their way away from the road, keeping low in the grass.

Hesh and Logan…. I found them.

A sigh of relief escapes my lips as I see them reach the treeline, and start away.

I'll keep my distance for now, I think to myself, and sling my rifle back over my shoulder.

I run to the tree line, much closer than Logan and Hesh were. Ducking into the forest, I sprint among the tall trees, following the brothers as they make their way towards Santa Monica.

After about five minutes I stop, looking around. The boys are nowhere in sight. How could I lose them?

I groan, then suddenly hear gunshots and an explosion. My eyes widen.

“Hesh…Logan…” I utter, and I sprint through the trees, weaving in and out. I hear shouting, and I feel a tightness in my chest as the shooting intensifies.

As I near the edge of the of the forest close to a river, I can see the black uniforms of the Federation soldiers, shooting across at Hesh and Logan scrambling up the bank. A rocket flies towards them, and I see Logan launched to the side.

My eyes widen as I hear Hesh scream his brother’s name, then through the dirt I can see Hesh carrying Logan. Logan rubs his face with his hand, then stands up.

They both start running when one of the soldiers on the beach starts firing an MG.

When the Walkers finally disappear from view, I sigh, and start to make my way around the soldiers, crossing the river far downstream from them.

As I cross, I suddenly hear a singular shout, then glance to the side to see one of the soldiers running towards me, gun raised. He pulls off a shot, and I dodge out of the way, eyes wide.

I grab one my pistols from its holster, and quickly shoot the man. He falls, and I reach to put my handgun back, but then more shouting makes me snap my head up.

I can see about fifteen soldiers running down the river towards me, and my eyes widen.

“Shit…” I mutter to myself, then I break to my left, jumping up the bank and sprinting away.

A shot hits the tree right next to me, and I flinch. I keep running, then duck behind another tree, catching my breath for a moment.

Then the shouting grows louder, and I suck in air, then start sprinting again. I turn to shoot behind me, felling three of the fifteen soldiers following me. Turning back, I look ahead to see where I’m going.

Then an intense pain in my left shoulder makes me cry out, and I feel blood start to run down my arm.

I spin and pull both handguns, despite the pain in my arm, and start shooting the men. More and more fall, as I keep out of the way of the bullets.

One of their shots barely grazes my leg, only leaving a slight cut, but I easily put down the man from whose gun the shot came.

Shooting the last soldier, I stop, and sigh.

Leaning against a tree, I close my eyes, letting out a deep breath. I feel the twinge in my arm, and sit down, taking off my backpack.

I slip my jacket off, and pull back the shoulder of my shirt.

Blood streams down my arm and chest from a large wound in my shoulder, staining my sleeve, and I groan.

Fuck.

They got me good.

I know that the bullet is still in my shoulder, but I have no way to easily take it out. I would take it with my knife, but it's too deep.

I let out a deep sigh, then shake my head. I have to just stop the bleeding.

Pulling a roll of gauze from my bag, I quickly press it against it, then wrap it in bandage. I put another layer of gauze and bandage over it as I feel the blood already soaking through.

I hold my shoulder in pain, then pull my jacket back on.

Looking up, I can see it's about two and a half hours till night. I'll just stay here tonight. I know Hesh and Logan aren't that far ahead.

I look around, then realise I’m rather out in an open area of trees. Searching around, my eyes fall of a glen of closely packed trees, with tall bushes with a small underlay that I can reside in for the night.

I grab my bag and move over to it, crawling under. I break a few small branches out of the way, then unstrap my bedroll from the outside of my pack. Laying it out, I sigh as I lean back on my backpack, using it as a pillow.

I close my eyes, and try to ignore the pain in my shoulder. I'll worry about it after I find Hesh and Logan.

My thoughts slowly find their way back to the Ghosts I left behind, and I can clearly see Spike’s face the last time he looked at me. The sorrowful but understanding grey eyes.

And I can only imagine what Merrick must have said once he learned what I did.

I chuckle to myself, then take a deep breath.

Clearing my mind, I doze off.


 

 

8 Hours Later

 

KEEGAN

Opening my eyes to my shoulder screaming, I groan. Holding it tightly, I sit up with great effort.

I blink my eyes and look around.

Then my eyes shoot open.

Hesh! Logan!

I need to get moving.

Rolling up my mat, I strap it to the outside of my pack, then I feel the pain in my shoulder again.

I pull my jacket off to see that it had bled through my shirt.

Cursing, I grit my teeth. Shrugging my jacket back on and slinging my pack onto my back, I shake my head.

It doesn't matter.

I have to find the boys.

Picking up my rifle, I stand up after crawling out of the glade, then start running.

They can't have made it much farther last night. But they might have left early this morning. Santa Monica is only six miles away. I'll find them soon.

I reassure myself in my head, trying not to imagine anything bad happening to them.

Running through the forest again, I can only think of how I hope that they find Davis. Then they might at least be a bit safer.

Making good time, I still ignore the screaming pain in my shoulder.

It's serious.

I got shot real bad.

But I can't focus on that.

I don't care.

I only care about Hesh and Logan.


 

After about an hour, I stop and rest, unclipping my canteen from my pack and taking a sip of water. The coolness of it as it wets my tongue is refreshing, and I close it up. Clipping it back, I look around.

They have to be close. We're only about five miles from Santa Monica now. I'll be seeing them soon.

Suddenly a gunshot makes me jump, and I grab my gun from my right side, my left arm too painful. Spinning around on edge, I search for the shot’s origin.

Then another, and I can discern they're coming from up ahead. I start to jog towards it, then a shout makes me pause.

“GET READY!! SHIT’S ABOUT TO GO DOWN!!”

My eyes widen.

That's Hesh.

I would recognize that voice anywhere.

I can see an open field up ahead as I get closer, and a multitude of Federation soldiers shooting into the trees.

My eyebrow raises, and I swing my sniper rifle out. Looking through the scope, I can see Hesh and Logan stacked behind two trees, and five soldiers are with them. Davis, and four of his men.

My lips curl up in a small smile.

They found them.

Taking my eye away from the scope, I glance back towards the Feds. There are way too many of them for the boys to handle.

Shaking my head, I run around the edge of the field to the other side. Seeing a small outcropping of rock, I climb up to it and lay down, propping my rifle up with my injured arm.

I put my eye to the scope again to survey the battle.

I can see Hesh and Logan shooting from behind the trees, yelling to each other.

As more and more soldiers filter out onto the field, I shake my head. Pulling the trigger of my gun, I fell about six, then another yell makes my head snap up.

“MGs!!!” Logan yells, and everyone dives for cover.

I can see five soldiers with MGs shooting into the trees, tearing the wood of the trunks that the Walkers stand behind.

I grit my teeth, and shoot again, taking two of them.

Then I see Logan blindly shooting from behind the tree, and the Fed soldiers stop for a moment. Logan jumps out from behind the tree, and shouts angrily at the Federation, indiscernible to my ear. He puts down the last three soldiers with the MGs, and I breathe a sigh of relief as all the soldiers smile and look at each other successfully.

Davis pats Logan on the shoulder. I can see that Logan has a blood stain on his other shoulder, a shot in his arm, and a graze on his leg, but he seems pretty much okay.

He looks around, then his smile changes to a frown.

He says something inaudible to me, then all the other soldiers look around uneasily.

Logan’s eyes widen as he spins around.

“HESH!!” He yells, and my eyes widen.

Oh, shit….

I sweep my gaze around the area, but I can't see anything. Logan runs through the trees to where Hesh was, but I lose him from sight.

Standing up and slinging my rifle on my back, I jump off the rock and start sprinting across the field. From afar, I still try to see Logan, but no sign of him comes into my view.

Then I hear a yell, and I stop.

Logan’s voice carries over the field to my ears.

“NO! I CAN'T LEAVE HIM!!!” He screams, and a pit forms in my stomach as the words rattle in my head.

Starting to run closer, I hear him screaming again through sobs.

“DAVID, PLEASE!! DON'T LEAVE ME!!”

My heart catches in my throat, and my eyes are wide.

I can see Davis in the distance, and one of his soldiers next to him, holding someone back. I run closer, and I can hear Logan screaming for the soldier to let him go.

“NO!! I CAN'T!!... HE'S NOT….LET ME GO!!! DAVID!!!!” He screams, and I slow to a jog as another soldier looks up to see me, and his eyes widen.

Slowly I walk closer, then my breath stops.

Hesh lays on the ground unmoving, head fallen to the side, six bullets in his chest, his shirt stained crimson. Blood runs from his mouth, and my breathing is shaky.

“David…” I utter quietly, hurtfully.

Davis turns to face me, and his eyes widen, then turn sympathetic.

I run over to take Logan from the soldier’s arms, kneeling down on the ground to hold him, then I realise he's not even here anymore. Tears stream down his face, and his eyes are glazed over, just lost to the world.

I feel tears welling in my own eyes, and I hold Logan tightly.

“Logan…” I say softly, shaking him a little.

“Logan.” His eyes slowly regain consciousness, and he looks up at me, then his eyes grow.

“Keegan…” He murmurs, and I nod. He starts crying again, and he turns to hug me tightly.

I hold him close, leaning my head on top of his.

“Logan….I’m so sorry.” I say sorrowfully, my eyes unable to look away from Hesh’s blood covered-body.

He's gone….

David is gone…..

I came after them to make sure they didn't get hurt….

And now…

He's….

Dead.

The thought tears my heart apart. Tears roll down my face, and I close my eyes. Logan grasps at my jacket, and sobs into my shoulder.

“He's...he’s...my brother, Keegan...David...he's...dead..”

His voice catches on the last word, and I take a deep breath. Looking up at Davis, he frowns, shaking his head.

“Logan tried to bring him back. But….He was already gone.” He says slowly, glancing around at his men. They all look solemnly at each other, having just lost their commander.

Slowly letting go of Logan, I move closer to Hesh. I put my hand on his shoulder, and close my eyes.

My best friend…

Upon opening my eyes again, I stare at Hesh’s face. So young, but strong and brave.

His eyes are closed so lightly, it looks as if he could just be asleep.

I know that's not the case.

The blood that runs from his mouth has left a red streak down his chin, and I wipe the blood away from his chin with my hand, but there is still a stain that lingers.

Taking his hand, I feel the wet touch of blood, cold and painful.

Holding back tears, I turn to look at Logan over my shoulder, then the pain springs up, and I groan, holding my hand to it tightly.

Logan looks up at me, eyes curious.

“Keegan...are you okay?” He asks, his voice still cracked and hoarse.

I grit my teeth, and nod quickly.

“It's fine….it's nothing, I-”

I fall forward, planting my hand on the ground to keep me from collapsing in pain. Logan jumps over to me, and lifts me up onto my knees.

“Keegan, what is-”

His eyes fall on my shoulder and the blood that soaks it, and his eyes widen.

“Not you too…. I can't lose someone else…..” He stammers, and my eyes widen, then I shake my head.

“No, Logan, you won't. I'll be fine. Don't worry.” I force, as Davis steps up behind me.

“We should get you help. And…” He trails off, looking down at Hesh’s body.

I nod, then look around.

“But, what would we do? Where would we even go?” I ask curiously, and Davis frowns.

“Uhh…” He bites his lip, clearly not having thought that far.

Suddenly the sound of a helicopter makes us all spin around, and I pull my gun from its holster.

Logan looks at me, then glances around nervously.

“Where the hell-”

I look for the chopper, then suddenly three men repel down in front of us on lines, hanging from a heli overhead on the edge of the field.

My eyes widen when they look up, and meet my gaze.

“Merrick...Spike….Slate….” I let out quietly, and Merrick runs over to Logan and I, dropping to his knees.

He holds me up, and glares at me.

“What the hell were you thinking?! Why would you go off-”

He suddenly realises the tears running down my face, and the despairing expression plastered on it.

He glances over at Logan to find the same face, then his gaze slowly makes its way behind me, and his eyes widen.

“Hesh…” He quietly utters, as Spike and Slate run up.

“Are you guys oka-”

Their eyes fall on Hesh, and widen larger than dinner plates.

Merrick shakes his head, then drops it down, still holding my shoulders.

“Goddammit…” He mutters painfully, and I look up at him as Slate kneels next to Logan, comforting him. Logan wraps his arms around Slate, crying again, and Spike crouches beside Hesh.

Merrick holds me steady, and I take a shaky breath.

“I couldn't save him, Merrick….” I whisper desolately. Merrick sighs, and shakes his head.

“Keegan, don't do this to yourself.” He tries as more tears run down my face.

“I couldn't-”

I groan as the pain flares up in my shoulder, and Merrick takes his hand away from my hand which covers it, and raises his eyebrow.

He lifts my hand up, and his eyes widen when he sees the large blood stain.

“Keegan…” He mutters, then meets my eyes.

“It's nothing…” I groan, as my eyes grow heavy.

Logan glances up, then crawls over next to me.

“K...Keegan?” He asks, his voice sounding like that of a little boy.

Merrick holds me strongly.

“Russ?” He looks at me, concerned.

I startle.

He hasn't called me by my last name in years.

I blink a few times, then my head falls forward onto his shoulder, teeth gritted in pain.

Looking back towards Hesh, I barely feel Merrick’s hands shaking me, or his shouting my name.

“David…”

His name barely escapes my lips before I drop into Merrick’s arms and pass out.

Chapter Text

10 years earlier

LOGAN

I run after Hesh, breathing hard.

“Come on, Logan!” He shouts at me with an authoritative tone.

I groan.

“I don't see why we're sprinting! It's not like the damn world is ending!” I shout back angrily.

Hesh stops and spins around to look at me, eyes narrowed. I skid to a stop, startled at this expression my brother has locked on me.

“Logan, do you even want to be a soldier?” He asks, and I pause.

“What do you mean?” I question, and Hesh shakes his head.

“Logan, you know what I mean. It seems like you just don't care. Now, I know you're still a kid-”

“I’M NOT A KID!!” I yell defensively, and Hesh raises his eyebrows, crossing his arms.

“Logan, you're sixteen. That's still a kid.” He says, and I frown, glancing to the side.

“Well you're only eighteen, so shut up.” I mutter under my breath.

Hesh glares at me, then sighs heavily.

“Do you want to be a soldier?” He asks again as my gaze slowly swings back up to him.

“I mean…..yeah. I want to be like you. Like dad.” I say softly. Hesh nods.

“Then take this seriously. Dad sent us out here to get us ready. Training. Now are you going to listen or not?” He demands, and I shrink back, then take a deep breath, straightening up.

“Yes.” I answer, and Hesh nods.

“Good. Let's go.” He says, turning around to run again. I follow shortly.

We run through the city just outside the wall to Santa Monica. The only safe area for miles.

And calling it safe would be an overstatement.

It's not safe.

The large ravines and cracks created when ODIN fired run through the city, and tremors still occur daily.

But it's as safe as it's going to get for now.

Glancing up, I can see Hesh far ahead me, and I sprint to catch up with him.

Still getting used to the weight of the backpack and gear I wear, I run a little slower.

How does Hesh seem to be so acclimated to it already?

Hesh stops as he jumps on top of a car, looking back towards me.

I grit my teeth, trying to match my brother’s determination. Climbing up next to him, he grins a little.

“Good. You're doing well, Logan.” He comments, and I sigh, taking a deep breath.

“Are we almost back?” I ask, and Hesh nods, turning his head over his shoulder.

“Almost. Entrance to the fort is just ahead.” He says, pointing forward.

“Let's go, then.” I say, and Hesh smirks.

“I see you're ready to go. Good.” We jump down from the car, and start running towards the pipe that cuts through the wall to the other side, to the entrance of the fort.

Our footsteps echo as we enter the pipe, and the dim light casts shadows behind us. Stepping out the other side, the bright light blinds me for a moment, then I shake it away.

Following Hesh down the road, I see the entrance up ahead. The large doors that seal off the safe part of the city and the fort.

“Come on!” Hesh yells as we sprint towards it.

I can see one of the other soldiers, a man named Davis, waiting for us at the entrance, leaning against a truck with his arms crossed. As we near, Hesh glances over at me slightly. I keep my gaze focused ahead.

Reaching Davis, Hesh and I stop, catching our breath. Davis uncrosses his arms, and stands up straight.

“Well you boys took your time.” He says, and I glance awkwardly at Hesh, who glares at me. He turns to Davis.

“Momentary issue. It WON'T happen again.” He says harshly, eyes meeting mine.

I bite my lip, and try to avoid his eyes.

Davis sighs.

“Well, get in. Your father is wondering where the hell you boys have been.” He says as the doors to the compound open for us. Hesh and I both climb in the truck, him sitting in the front with Davis, as I sit down in the back, leaning against the wall of the truck where the soldiers stand when on guard duty.

I take a deep breath, and close my eyes.

I need to get my act together. Hesh is right. We're training to be soldiers. I want to be like him. I want to be like dad. I have to work hard. And I will. Clenching my fist, I nod to myself.

I WILL be a soldier. I will.

The truck stops as we reach the command post, and Hesh jumps out. He nods at Davis.

“Thanks Corporal.” He says, then he glances to me.

“Come on, Logan.” He calls, and I stand up, vaulting over the edge of the truck. Jumping to the ground, I follow Hesh inside the garage, then up the stairs.

As we walk through the doors at the top, I look around at all the soldiers at their computers, tracking the movements of the Federation.

The Federation. The ones who started all of this. The ones who destroyed America.

“Dad.” Hesh calls, and I snap back to the present. Our father stands at one of the large computer screens, and he turns around when he hears Hesh. His arms cross when he sees us.

“Hesh. Logan. You two have been gone awhile.” He says, his eyes moving between us.

Hesh takes a deep breath, looking at me.

“We need to talk.” He says, his gaze still locked on me. I flinch, and dad raises his eyebrow.

“What about?” He asks, and Hesh finally moves his harsh gaze away from me to meet dad’s eyes.

“Can we talk upstairs?” He asks, and dad looks around, then nods.

“Let's go.” He says, leading us upstairs to the outpost.

I follow slowly behind him, with Hesh behind me. I can feel his eyes boring into the back of my head, and I sigh.

Walking into the open, empty room, dad turns around to face us as we stop in front of him, Hesh moving to stand next to me.

Dad raises his eyebrow.

“What’s this about?” He asks, and Hesh takes a deep breath, then looks over at me.

“Logan isn't taking the training seriously. I don't know why, but I don't even know what to do with him.” He answers, and my eyes widen as dad looks at me with a sigh.

I glance between them, then shake my head.

“NO, I….I just…..I DO want to be a soldier! Like you! But….” I trail off, and hang my head.

“I don't know…” I mutter, and dad puts his hand on my shoulder.

“Logan.” I look up to meet his eyes to see they’re sympathetic and understanding.

“I know that this is hard for you. You're still very young. This is a big change. Your brother is two years older than you. He just has a bit more….well…..”

He glances up at Hesh, who raises his eyebrow. Dad turns back to me.

“Ambition. He's always been responsible. I don't expect you to be a perfect soldier right off the bat, Logan. I really don't. It's okay. I know that over time, you'll be just like your brother, and you'll make amazing soldiers.” He says caringly, and I feel a thankful smile creep across my face.

Dad takes his hand from my shoulder, and turns to Hesh.

“I know that you think your little brother isn't taking it seriously, but he is. He's just not as ready as you yet. Step back a bit, Hesh. Look at it from his point of view. I know that you were immediately ready to be a soldier. Logan wasn't. You need to understand that.” He says, and Hesh nods with a sigh.

“Yes, dad.” He turns to me with an apologetic look.

“I’m sorry Logan. I'll help you from now on. With everything.” He says, and I smile.

“Thanks, Hesh.” He smirks, and walks to put his arm around my shoulder, pulling me into a headlock.

“Just know that just because I’m helping you, doesn't mean I'll go easy on you! You're gonna be a soldier, Logan. And I'll teach you how.” He says, and dad laughs.

“I can see you two are going to make excellent team.” He says with a smile, and I look up at my big brother, who meets my eyes.

He grins, with caring eyes.

“Don't worry, Logan. I’m gonna take care of you.”


 

Present day

LOGAN

As I open my eyes, I sigh.

Tears have stained my face for the past two days.

He's gone.

He's actually gone.

He taught me everything.

Everything.

Leaning my head back against the wall I sit against, I take a deep breath.

My big brother is dead.

David…..

What the hell do I do now?

He was my world.

And now Keegan is hurt, too.

He's like another brother to me. Same age and likeness as David.

The two people I care about. Why is everything being taken from me?

My family is dead.

First dad, now Hesh.

More tears drip down my face, and I slowly stand up. Walking down the hallway, I wipe my nose with the sleeve of my jacket.

After the Ghosts showed up in Santa Monica, they took us all to the safe house in Colorado Springs. Davis and his men, too.

Walking past the kitchen, Gavin steps out, meeting my eyes. He hesitates, then looks at me sympathetically.

“How you doing, kid?” He asks caringly, and I sigh.

“Gavin, my brother is dead . How the hell do you think I’m doing?” I mutter, then I shove past him.

I've been on edge and avoiding everyone. I just can't believe what happened. My mind is still trying to deny that David is…is…..

I blink away the thought, then turn to the command room. To my surprise, no one is in here. I sit down at the computer, and flick it on. Pulling up my mission messages, my finger hovers over the mouse as I stare at the messages from when Hesh and I were contacting each other while on different missions.

My hesitation ends, and I click the folder. A string of messages comes up, all sent between Hesh and I two years ago, when we were separated for different objectives.

I pull up the first one, and start to read through them.

 

Jan. 15, 2025

H: Hey Logan. Good luck with Keegan in Los Angeles taking care of the Federation group. I know it's dangerous up there, so be careful. I'll keep you updated on Merrick and I as we try to find the Fed base in Arizona. Just take care of yourself, little bro.

 

Jan. 16, 2025

L: David, Keegan and I found some soldiers today, but they wouldn't talk about where the rest are. So I did what you would always do; Shoot them. Keegan thought I did a good job today. When we came across a few Feds, I took them out no problem. Just like you trained me. But we still have a lot to find. How are things going with you and Merrick?

Jan. 16, 2025

H: That’s my little bro! Doing what I taught you! Things are...slow. We haven't found any trace of the Federation base. A few stragglers around, but nothing big. We tried to follow a helicopter we saw, but it disappeared before we could get a positive direction. So Merrick and I are getting a little anxious to find something. As for you, I know you'll find them, Logan. You're smart. So’s Keegan. Just be careful, Logan. Good luck.

 

Jan. 19, 2025

L: We found a lot of them today. We just engaged a large group of Federation soldiers along the edge of the city, after they ambushed us. Shit, they almost had us. But Keegan and I somehow managed to get out alive. He made sure to take care of my gunshot wound in my shoulder immediately, so I’m okay, before you worry. I’m safe, Hesh. I’m fine. But we're getting close to finding all of the Feds. There's only a few left. I can feel it. And I know that you and Merrick will find the base soon. Good luck. Stay safe.

 

Jan. 19, 2025

H: YOU GOT SHOT?! I wish I was with you to protect you. But I’m glad that you're okay. Keegan will watch out for you. But you're right. We're close. Merrick and I narrowly missed being caught by a convoy today. We followed it for about a mile, then we had to hold because a large group of soldiers, far too big to even try to attack, went by. But we're making progress. Hopefully we'll be able to find the base soon, give a positive location, and get back to base. Until then, be safe Logan.

 

Jan. 22, 2025

L: Hesh, we found the rest of the soldiers today. They were holed up in the west part of the city. There weren't too many left, and although they put up a fight, Keegan and I took care of them. Haven't heard from you in a few days, but you're probably busy with Merrick and the base. Just be sure to stay safe, Hesh.

 

Jan. 27, 2025

L: Hesh, please, let me know that you and Merrick are okay! It's been eight days! It's not like you to lose contact! Are you in trouble? Are you hurt?! David, please….

 

Jan. 30, 2025

H: Logan, this is Merrick. We ran into some problems when we found the base. Hesh was injured, and we're headed back now. We will see you at the base, Logan.

 

I sigh as I look at the last message.

I remember that.

Hesh and Merrick had gotten into a huge firefight during that mission.

Hesh was shot twice in the stomach, once in the back, and Merrick barely got him out of there. When they got back to the base, Hesh was barely alive.

I was frantic, because I couldn't let my brother die. Keegan immediately set about helping him, with dad by his side. Dad watched over Hesh like a hawk, all the while I sat by my brother’s side. For four days, I wasn't sure if my older brother was going to survive or not.

But Hesh is strong.

He always was.

When he woke up, I was overjoyed. Within a week, he was back in the field, by my side.

I told Merrick and dad that if they ever split us up again, then they might as well kill me, because I wasn't about to lose everything that mattered to me. So David was always by my side.

We protected each other.

Always.

But then, after the final battle against the Federation last year, when Rorke took me, that was the first time that we had been separated.

It was just too painful.

Then when I came back, Hesh wouldn't leave me. Then when he changed, I wouldn't leave him.

We were brothers.

We look after one another.

We had one job.

Protect each other.

And I messed up.

I couldn't save him.

Now my David, my everything, is gone.

I'll never hear his laugh again. Or see that cocky grin. Or hear his comforting voice when I’m stressed, or when I just needed my big brother.

No, that's all gone now.

Hesh is…... dead .

I never thought I’d see the day when my brother left my side. I always thought we'd make it to the end together.

A team.

Our team.

The Walker boys.

But I guess not. My brother was taken away from me.

I want him back.

All I want is to hear him calling my name, then I'd look up into those brown eyes, and he’d say,

 

“I'll always protect you, Logan. Always.”

 

A tear runs down my face, and I close the computer.

Pushing back in the chair, I stand up, then turn to walk back down the hall. I pause at the door, looking back at the computer.

Shaking my head, I make my way down the hall to the main room. Spike and Cody sit on the couch, talking, and Davis and Merrick stand near the window, conversating. I know that Davis’ men are in the bunks, sleeping. Gavin was in the kitchen, and I think Slate was outside, on watch.

Sighing as I walk into the room, all heads turn to look at me, then it goes quiet. I glance up, and meet Merrick’s eyes. I beckon him over with my head a little, and he nods. Walking over, he stops in front of me.

“What is it, Logan?” He asks with a soft, gentle tone. I glance down towards the small med room we set up.

“How's Keegan?” I ask slowly, and Merrick sighs.

“He’ll be fine. The bullet cracked his shoulder blade, and he lost a fair amount of blood, but once he rests up, he's gonna be okay.” Merrick informs, and I nod, then sigh.

“I just…. I can't lose someone else…” I say softly, and Merrick’s eyes widen. He puts his hands on my shoulders, and I look up to meet his eyes. The sympathy and compassion that they show comforts me, and he looks straight at me.

“Logan, I know how hard it's been for you. We all understand. And now, losing Hesh….” His voice trails off as tears run from my eyes, my breathing getting a little shaky.

He frowns, then pulls me into a hug.

“I’m so sorry, Logan.” He utters as I hold him tight, shoulders shaking as I cry.

“I just want him back, Merrick…..I just want my brother back!” I sob, and the other Ghosts look up with sad eyes.

Tears stream down my face, and I grip Merrick’s jacket tightly.

“I want him back…” My words come out shaky through my deep breaths and sobs, and Merrick sighs.

“I know, Logan. I know.” He lets me go, and puts his hand on my shoulder as I wipe some of the tears away with my hand.

“Come on. Just get some rest. You need to sleep.” He says, leading me down towards the bunks. I open my bunk door, and turn to Merrick.

“Thanks.” I say quietly, not really meeting his eyes. Merrick nods, then closes the door. I turn to walk in the small room.

My guns and gear lay on the table to the side, my backpack set on the floor against my bed.

Walking over to sit down on the edge, I reach into my backpack, and pull out Hesh’s hat.

I hold it in my hands tightly as a tear falls onto the soft fabric of it. Falling back onto my back, I gaze up at the ceiling.

I take my father’s dog tags out of my pocket, and stare at them.

Elias T. Walker .

My dad was the one who made Hesh and I into soldiers. I’m glad he did, but at the same time, I wish he hadn't.

I wish that Hesh and I could have just had a normal life together.

But after ODIN, that wasn't really an option.

But because we were soldiers, Hesh was killed in battle.

My brother was everything to me.

Now he's gone.

Shoving dad’s tags back in my pocket, I put my hand to the two thin chains around my neck. Pulling them from my shirt, I hold them up.

One pair is always around my neck, since I first became a soldier.

 

Walker, Logan  /  Sergeant  /  06-13-01  /  San Diego

 

I sigh as I lift up the other pair that I will forever wear. Running my finger over the embossed lettering, another tear runs down my cheek.

 

Walker, David  /  Sergeant  /  05-07-99  / San Diego

 

I'll never take his dog tags off.

They're my way of still having him by my side.

Always.

But I still want him back.

Sitting up, I shrug off my jacket, tossing it on the floor, my grey t-shirt having a few tear stains on it. Leaning down, I untie my boots, pulling them off.

I sigh heavily, then lean back to get into my bed. I reach to flick off the light next to me, then close my eyes.

My fingers still run over David’s name, and tears fall from my eyes again.

Opening my eyes, I feel around in the dark on the table beside the bed, then my hand finds what I want.

I pull my arm in, holding Hesh’s hat close.

My shoulders shake as I cry, my breath shaky gasps.

Squeezing my eyes shut tight, I hold his tags and his hat with my life.

“David….” I sob, pressing my face into his hat.

The familiar smell of my brother gives me comfort, but I still know he's not coming back.

I want him back.

I want Hesh by my side, fighting next to me, always having my back.

I want to hear his laugh.

See his smile.

Look into those brown eyes again, and see them full of determination and love.

Like always.

More tears run down my face, and I take a deep breath.

I want Hesh to hug me and comfort me like he did, like the amazing brother he was.

He could make me laugh, make me smile, encourage me, and care about me.

He was my best friend.

The one person on this entire earth that meant more to me than life.

Sobbing into his hat pressed against my face, I take a deep breath again, reassuring myself with that smell.

I feel so empty inside now.

I lost my everything.

My will to live.

My best friend.

I just want my big brother back .

Chapter Text

Sixteen Hours Later


 

 

GAVIN

I walk down the hall, shoving my hands in my pockets.

I feel bad for Logan.

He's lost everything.

He watched as his dad was murdered in front of him, he was taken away from his brother and tortured for seven months, then he came back, and had to deal with the intense shit that followed.

Now his brother is dead, and his friend is in the infirmary.

I can't even imagine that.

If I lost Spike, I would be the same way.

I mean, I already lost most of my team, but Spike, Spike is like a brother to me.

Much more than a best friend.

If he died…..

I shake the thought away, then turn towards the kitchen. Walking to the fridge, I open it, and grab a bottle of water. Opening the cap, I take a long sip, and sigh.

“Hey, Gavin.”

I turn around to see Davis standing in the doorway, leaning against the wall. I smile.

“Oh. Hey.” I return, and Davis glances to the side, and I raise my eyebrow.

There's a very odd look in his eyes, but I can't pinpoint it.

He meets my eyes.

“Hey, you wanna go outside? I’m getting so antsy in here.” He says, and I glance around, then shrug.

“Sure. Why not?”

He smirks, and I follow him down the hall, towards the deck area. Sliding open the door, Davis steps out, and takes a deep breath.

“Man, it's nice to get some fresh air in your lungs once in awhile.” He says with a chuckle as I lean against the railing.

“Yeah, I guess.” I murmur, looking out over the landscape.

Davis turns and leans against the railing backwards, glancing over at me.

“So. Gavin. What do you think is gonna happen now? Is the Federation just gonna back off?” He asks, and I shrug, still staring out.

“I don't know. I mean, it's possible. I just…”

I sigh, and glance over at him.

“I can't believe Hesh is gone. I know there are casualties in war, but I honestly didn't think that he would ever be one of them. It seemed like he and Logan were the unbeatable team.”

Hanging my head, I sigh.

“I guess things just take a turn sometimes.” I mutter solemnly.

Then a slight snicker from beside me makes me turn my head a little.

Davis has his head tilted up to the sky, eyes closed, grinning.

“There's a lot more turns coming, Gavin.” He says with a smirk, then he drops his head down to look at me, and I can see the sinister deviousness in his eyes.

My eyes widen, then I hear the door slide open, and I look over to see Trent and Ramon standing there, both with the same look as Davis.

A sudden feeling of dread fills my chest, and Davis grins, staring at me.

“Now, did you really think it was by accident that the Federation managed to find the Walkers and my men in the forest?” He asks with complacency.

It suddenly registers in my mind what he means, and my eyes widen. I push back against the railing, and meet the gaze of the three soldiers.

“Now….now, Davis….you can't just…” I stutter, trying to find words.

Trent and Ramon pull guns from their belts, and I stiffen up.

Davis shrugs and takes a deep breath, slowly drawing his gun from his belt as he walks over towards me.

“It's nothing personal. But Hesh had to die. Nothing about that could be debated. He was just too much of a threat.” His gaze wanders around thoughtfully, then finally falls on me.

“I've got nothing against you, Gavin. But you and Spike, you're strong together. But when Spike loses his best friend, he’ll crumble, and that's all the easier for us. So I’m sorry it had to be this way.”

He raises his gun, and I shake my head, wide eyed.

“No, Davis, wait!” I shout, and he takes a deep breath.

“Like I said. Nothing personal.” He utters, then pulls the trigger.

It tears into my chest, blood immediately wetting my shirt. Falling to the ground, I blink away the pain, coughing and groaning.

The last thing I see is the smiling face of Davis standing above me, then the sound of two more gunshots.


KEEGAN

Groaning, I slowly sit up with a hand held on my shoulder.

Man, that hurt like hell.

Standing up, I fall against the wall to stabilize myself.

I've been out for two days. The wound in my shoulder is healing, but Merrick said my shoulder blade is cracked.

Wonderful.

Even though my shoulder hurts like hell, I need to get out of this damn room. I know it's only been two days, but I can't stand to sit around.

Holding my hand to the bandage on my shoulder, I open the door, and step out. Looking up and down the hall, I see no one. I can hear some people talking in the main room, and I think one in the kitchen. I sigh, and walk towards the deck outside.

I just need some fresh air.

As I turn the corner to the deck, I stop in my tracks when I see a bloody, unmoving body sprawled on the ground.

My breath quickens, and I run to their side.

I know that short light brown hair. That green jacket.

Gavin.

I roll him over, and I feel my chest tighten.

Three gunshot wounds to the chest spread blood on him and the deck, and I clench my fist. I lift him up to sit against me, and I hold him close, my soul shattering when I find no beat to his heart.

Not another friend…...not again…..

A tear falls from my cheek.

Why is everyone I care about getting killed?!

First Hesh, now Gavin.

He was like an older brother to me, just like Spike.

My eyes narrow, and I slowly raise my head. Whoever killed him, they're going to pay. They're going to wish they were never born.

Looking around, I frown. Who could have shot him? There's no Federation activity in the area, we've been monitoring for it 24/7. There's no one else around for miles. So who?

I glance back down at my friend in my arms, then sigh.

Despite the agonizing pain the action causes, I lift Gavin onto my back, and carry him inside. I grit my teeth, then shout down the hall.

“MERRICK!! SPIKE!!!” I yell as I reach the main room. Merrick and Spike turn around, with Sam, Slate and Cody next to them.

Their eyes all widen, and Cameron walks in from the kitchen with a soda, then drops his glass, shattering on the floor when he sees me.

Spike’s face is fearful and pained, his mouth opening to say something, but no words coming out. I set Gavin down on the ground, falling to my knees. Taking a deep breath, Merrick and Spike are suddenly next to me, Merrick holding his hand on my shoulder.

Spike puts his hand on Gavin’s shoulder, eyes wide.

“No….no...nonono!” He mutters as I see a tear run down his face. Slate and Cody meet each other’s eyes.

Cam kneels next to me, moving his gaze from Gavin to me, then back to Gavin, then back to me.

“What happened?” He asks, and I shake my head.

“I don't know. I went to just go get some fresh air outside, and I saw him lying on the deck. I don't even know who could have….”

I take a heavy breath, and Slate glances around. “There's no Federation anywhere close. So it couldn't have been them. And there's no other people for miles. So who the hell shot him?” He asks with concern, and Cody crosses his arms.

“We better figure it out soon. You know, I’m starting to see a pattern here. In the past three days, two Ghosts have been killed, both shot to death. Don't you think that's a little weird?” He says cautiously, and I look up.

“Cody, Hesh was shot in battle by the Federation soldiers. They weren't specifically targeting him . Just all of our men. And he….he happened to get caught in the crossfire.” I refrain from crying and shake my head.

Cody frowns, looking at us.

“How do you know?” He says, and we all stop, then look up at him. Sam turns around and raises his eyebrow.

“What do you mean?” He asks, and Cody takes a deep breath.

“Well, Hesh was the one who Rorke wanted dead the most. He could have ordered the soldiers to kill him. Or, it could have been something else entirely.” He says, and I stand up slowly, staring at him.

“What the hell else could it be?” I demand, and the Ghosts’ eyes all fall curiously on Cody. He uncrosses his arms, and bites his lip.

“I just...I had a thought…. What if someone snuck up on Hesh and shot him, not one of the soldiers on the field. Someone else. Because you said you didn't see anything, Keegan. Right?” He asks me, and I slowly nod, then shake my head.

“But who else would have been there to shoot him?” I wonder, then Slate’s eyes widen.

“Oh god.” He mutters quietly, and we all look up at him.

“What is it?” Merrick asks, and Slate sweeps his eyes among us with wide eyes, then his eyes fall on Cameron.

“Did you see where Davis was the entire battle?” He asks, and Cameron raises his eyebrow.

“Why do you a-”

The sudden realisation of what Slate is suggesting hits us all, and Cameron’s eyes widen.

“Oh my god….” He mutters, looking down at Gavin.

I feel my chest tighten.

“Where's Davis now?” I ask quickly, and Sam shakes his head.

“I don't know.” He says fearfully, and Merrick’s eyes widen.

“He went after Hesh first. What if-” He stops, and my eyes widen larger than I thought they could.

I whip around, looking down the hall.

“Logan….”


LOGAN

I try to think of something other than my brother’s death, but all I can see when I close my eyes is his face, and the blood that covered it.

I can't get it out of my head.

Hugging Hesh’s hat closer, I sigh.

When will all this torture end? I can't deal with it anymore.

The clink of the door opening makes me sit up, and my eyebrow raises when I see Davis standing in the doorway.

Swinging my legs over the side of the bed, I tilt my head to the side a little.

“Davis? What are you doing here?” I ask curiously, and Davis sighs, leaning against the doorframe.

“Nothing. Just wanted to come down to say hey, that's all.” He responds, not making eye contact as he picks a piece of dirt off of his shirt.

I detect something ominous in his voice, only slightly. I lean down to pull on my boots, glancing up at him out of wariness.

He just stares at me, and I stand up after lacing my boots.

“Seriously, Davis. Why are you here?” I ask with a sharp tone.

He heaves a deep sigh, and shakes his head. He steps into the room, and slowly closes the door behind him. I watch him do so, and fear starts to creep into my chest.

Davis looks to the side, glancing down at my Ghosts mask. Picking it up, he stares at it.

“Logan…..I’m sorry. I didn't want it to come to this.” He frowns, and I take a small step back.

“Come to what?” I ask, my voice trembling slightly.

Davis turns to look at me, still holding my mask tight in his hand. His eyes have a sinister light to them, and, pulling his handgun, he grins deviously.

“The extinction of the Ghosts.” He raises his gun, and my eyes widen.

I quickly jump behind my bed, tilting it just as he fires the gun. The bullet hits the mattress, and my breath is sharp.

I narrow my eyes, and clench my fist.

“So you're with the Feds, then?! All this time, one of them right by our side!” I shout, and Davis laughs.

“Yep! It was too easy. More fun than I ever had, getting to act like your soldier and all.” He remarks as I grit my teeth.

I look up to see my gun on the table across from me. My pistol. I close my eyes, taking a deep breath.

Jumping up, I dive towards it. A shot rings out, and I brace for the pain, but it dings next to me, and I hear Davis swearing.

Grabbing my gun, I drop to the floor, rolling to a crouch with my gun aimed at him. My eyes are narrowed.

“Put your gun down! NOW!” I shout, and Davis just chuckles.

“You're just like your brother, Logan. Headstrong and ambitious. Always fighting till the last breath to win your battles. You two together? Quite a team. At least I got rid of him.” He says with a smirk, and my eyes widen.

“Wait….you….you…” I feel a rage burning deep inside me as I suddenly realise what really happened.

My eyes are wide, then they narrow as I glare at Davis, hate boiling its way in my body.

“You killed him…” I utter quietly, and Davis raises his eyebrow with a smug look.

“I put up a good performance, didn't I? The sympathy I showed? I'd say that was some damn fine acting.” He chuckles.

Gripping my gun tighter, I breathe hard. Then I drop my gun to the floor, fists balled tight.

“YOU KILLED HIM!!” I scream, then I jump up and tackle him to the floor.

His eyes are wide as the gun is knocked from his hand, and I slam him to the ground.

Swinging at him as hard as I can, my rage pours out of me.

“YOU TOOK HIM FROM ME!!!” I yell, punching him hard, bringing blood from his nose. He looks up at me with a smug expression.

“You had no idea. I was standing right next to you, and you didn't even know.” He says jauntily, and I grit my teeth.

I slam his head back into the floor, holding his shoulders. He groans in pain, and I slam him on the ground again, then again.

“YOU KILLED MY BROTHER!!!” I scream, punching him again. I swing at him again and again, and more and more blood starts to drip from my knuckles.

I stop, breathing hard, and look down at him.

His face is mottled with blood, and he lets out a small groan, all he can muster now. His nose is broken, his jaw fractured, six teeth knocked out, and both eyes black and blue.

I glare at him with the most powerful hate.

“YOU. TOOK. DAVID .” I growl. He shrinks back in fear, and my eyes intensify.

“I WANT MY BROTHER BACK, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!” I yell as I hit him again, bringing a spray of blood from his nose and mouth.

Grabbing my gun from the floor, I check it, then press it against his head. Davis’ eyes widen, then the door slams open.

“LOGAN!”

I glance up, my eyes still furious, to see Keegan, Cameron, Merrick, Sam, Cody, Spike and Slate standing in the doorway, Keegan’s eyes wide.

He takes a step towards me, looking from me to Davis, then back at me.

“Logan…” He utters cautiously, watching the gun in my hand.

Cameron steps from behind him, staring at both Davis and I with wide eyes. Then his expression of surprise turns to hate. He glares at Davis.

“WHY?! How could you betray the Ghosts?!” He shouts, and Davis manages a chuckle, despite his broken jaw.

I smirk.

“He can't exactly talk right now. I kind of broke his jaw.” I say with content.

Keegan steps towards me, crouching down with his hand on my shoulder.

“Logan, I know that Davis betrayed us, and that he hurt you, but-”

My eyes immediately snap up to him, flickering with rage and disparity.

“Hurt me?! Keegan, HE KILLED MY BROTHER!!!” I yell angrily, making the Ghosts all step back with wide eyes.

Keegan sighs, and nods.

“Yes, I know. He killed both of my best friends.” He says sadly.

My eyebrow raises, and my eyes soften a little.

“Wait, what do you mean, ‘both’?” I ask, and Keegan frowns, hanging his head. I look around, then I realise one Ghost is missing.

My eyes widen, and my eyes slowly lower to Keegan.

“I’m so sorry…” I say softly, then my eyes narrow, and I glare back down at Davis.

“YOU KILLED GAVIN, TOO?!” I scream, pressing the gun harder against his forehead.

Merrick holds his hand out.

“Logan, wait!” He shouts, and I raise my head to meet his eyes, anger flaring in them.

“WHY?! WHY SHOULD I?! HE KILLED MY BROTHER, AND NOW HE'S KILLED GAVIN, TOO! WHAT'S IT GOING TO TAKE?!” I yell, then I feel Davis shift under me, and I look down to see him grab the knife on the sheathe on his leg.

My eyes widen, and I go to grab his hand, but he swings it away, then I feel the knife dig deep into my side.

Keegan’s eyes widen, as do mine as I feel the searing pain and the blood wetting my side.

LOGAN !” He yells as Davis smirks, then shoves me off of him.

I fall to the side, groaning, holding my hand on my side.

Blood drips through my fingers, and I grit my teeth in pain.

The Ghosts run in and grab Davis, dragging him out. Cameron runs to my side, with Merrick and Keegan.

I slowly lift myself up despite the pain, and meet their eyes with an angered look.

They gaze at me with confusion, as they try to understand the glare I give them.

I take a frustrated breath, frowning.

“Regret not letting me kill him now?” I say aggressively, and Keegan sighs, nodding.

“Okay, yes. Now, how bad is your wound?” He asks worriedly.

Taking away my hand, I flinch at the sight of the large blood stain on my shirt.

Glancing up at Keegan, Merrick, and Cam, I bite my lip.

“I'd say it's pretty bad, considering how much blood there is.” I groan, and Merrick frowns. Cam leans down, putting his arm around my shoulder.

“Come on, Logan.” He offers as he lifts me up.

Holding my hand tightly on my side, I take a deep breath, my mind still stuck on David’s death.

Cam walks me down the hall to the med room, then sits me on the bed.

I stare straight ahead, eyes narrowed.

I barely feel Cam cleaning the wound, then pushing the suture into my skin. I don't finch as the needle is pulled through my flesh, or the pain of it shooting through my body.

I just focus on my clenched fists and my set jaw, mind only on the truth behind Hesh’s death.

Davis…..

He was right next to us, and I didn't even see it. He stood right beside me when I found Hesh, and deceived all of us. Closing my eyes, I sigh, then a hand on my shoulder makes me look up. Cameron looks into my eyes, sorrow covering the light hazel color.

“You're good to go. The wound wasn't too bad, but still just don't strain yourself.” He says, and I nod.

Glancing to the side, I frown, then look back up at Cameron.

“Come on. Let's just go talk.” I say, thumbing towards the living room. Cam nods as I stand up off of the bed, holding my side. We walk down the hall together into the main room, and sit on the couch next to the large window. The bright morning sun casts a light on the couch as we sit, leaving shadows behind us. I lean back, then Cam sighs.

“I’m sorry, Logan. Hesh was my friend, too. He was my commander. He taught all of us a lot. Honor. Valor. Strength. Loyalty. Faith.” He reminisces. I meet his eyes, and the same pain can be felt. I nod with a small smile.

“Yeah….David had a way of always inspiring his men. He taught me everything I know. Sure, dad gave me some pointers to begin with, but David taught me it all.”

Leaning forward to lean my arms on my legs, I sigh.

“You know, when I first became a soldier, I was only sixteen. ODIN hit, and everything changed. My old life with Hesh and I just being kids was gone. We were soldiers now. I wasn't sure if it was what I wanted to do, and I was having trouble coping with it. Hesh was angry with me at first for it. He was immediately ready to be a soldier, but I wasn't. Then dad solved the problem, understanding me and explaining it to Hesh. After that, David took me and taught me everything. Anything I needed to fight, he taught me. Anything I didn't understand, he showed me how it worked. He was my everything. The only thing that mattered in my world. For ten years we stuck together, always by each other’s side. I trusted Hesh with my life, because I knew that we both cared about each other. He meant more than anything.”

I take a deep breath, looking up at Cameron. He sits intently, eyes sad and understanding. I continue on.

“My brother was the only family I had left. Our father was murdered in front of us, then Rorke took me. But during all that time, we could never forget each other. Even when Rorke tried to turn us against each other, he couldn't. We were just too close. We wouldn't let anything happen to the other. It was just always that way. We protect each other. As soldiers. As best friends. As brothers.”

A tear runs down my face, and I wipe it away.

“Now, with him gone, I just feel…...I don't know….empty. A part of me is gone. Ripped away from me. My brother was my everything. My life. So now...with him gone….it's like I have nothing left. I’m gone.” I mutter, then a pair of arms wrap around me, and I startle as Cameron hugs me.

He pulls back, and stares deep into my eyes.

“You have us, Logan. You will always have us.” He says, and I crack a small smile. Cameron matches the expression.

“You said Hesh was the only family you had left. But the Ghosts are your family, too. You're not alone, Logan. You have Slate and Cody. You have Spike. You have Merrick. You have me. And you have Keegan.” He says with a smile, and I grin at the last name.

“Yeah. Keegan is like having another brother.” I nod, then frown.

“It still hurts, though.” I say softly. Cameron sighs, then nudges me with his elbow. I look up, and his eyes are full of empathy and knowing.

“I know it hurts, Logan. I get it. But Keegan will take care of you. He cares about you more than anyone I've ever seen.” He raises his eyebrow at me.

“That's saying something. You're something special, Logan.”

I smile as I feel the long forgotten feeling of happiness run through my body. I meet his eyes and lean back on the couch, propping myself up to lean against the arm, facing Cameron. I lift one leg up onto the couch, the other swinging from the side. I rest my arm on my knee, and stare at Cameron.

“So….do you know much about Keegan? I mean, he's pretty much my best friend, but I feel like I hardly know anything about him.”

Cameron shrugs.

“I mean…”

The door opens and Merrick walks in. Cam and I both look up, and Merrick’s eyes fall on me.

“How you feeling, Logan?” He asks, and I look down at my side, then back up to him.

“I’m fine. Cam did a good job patching me up.”

Merrick nods, then raises his eyebrow.

“What were you two talking about?” He asks, and I glance to the side to catch Cameron’s gaze.

“We were talking about how even though Keegan is my best friend, I hardly know anything about him.” I respond, and Merrick crosses his arms in interest.

“You want to know more about Keegan?” He questions, and I nod. Merrick sighs, and pulls a chair over to us, then sits down.

“Okay.”

I sit forward a bit, and meet Merrick’s eyes. He shrugs.

“I've know Keegan for a long time. I met him when he was just a kid. A damn talented kid, and trust me, he's one hell of a soldier.” He smirks, and Cam raises his eyebrow.

“What do you mean? How much do you know about him?”

Merrick gives Cameron a funny look, smirking with a raised eyebrow.

“Oh, I know quite a bit.”

Chapter Text

12 Years Earlier

June 3rd, 2015

 

KEEGAN

I stand up straight as the Master Sergeant walks down the line of the soldiers, inspecting each of us.

He glances at me, then moves to walk to the next person, but stops. He spins around, and stares at me with an eyebrow raised.

I straighten up, and he crosses his arms.

“What's your name, private?” He asks, and I take a breath.

“Russ, sir. Keegan P. Russ.” I answer straightly.

He raises his eyebrow again, then looks me up and down.

“How old are you, son?” He questions, and the few men around glance over. I can tell they've been wondering the same thing.

“Seventeen, sir.” I respond, and the men around me whisper among themselves.

“He's only seventeen!”

“Holy shit!”

I sigh, and the Master Sergeant smirks with a curious look.

“And how did a seventeen year old boy manage to make his way into the Marines?” He asks, and I lift my chin a little.

“I want to help people. I wanted to be a marine. So that's what I’m going to do.” I say, and the Master Sergeant leans down.

“You didn't answer my question. How did you make it here?” He asks again, and I let out a small breath.

“Top of my class at West Point. Graduated last year. I was advised here.” I say, and the men around me widen their eyes.

“Wait, he graduated from West Point when he was sixteen?!”

“How the hell….”

The Master Sergeant lends me a smile.

“Well then. I guess you're more than you seem. My name is Sergeant Holt. You will address me as ‘Sir’, ‘Sergeant’, or ‘Holt’. Understand?” He demands.

I nod straightly.

“Yes sir.”

He smirks, and steps back, sweeping his gaze along the line we stand in.

“You will all report here tomorrow morning, 0600 hours. Dismissed!” He says, then walks off.

I relax my shoulders, then a flick on my arm makes me turn around to see a few of the other soldiers staring at me with wide eyes.

I raise my eyebrow.

“What do you want?” I ask with a slight harshness to my voice.

The one in the front, a man about twenty six with medium brown hair, smirks.

“Hey, no need to be mad. I’m Merrick. Thomas Merrick. I’m just curious as to how the hell you managed to get here at seventeen!” He says, and the other guys behind him nod in agreement.

One with short light brown hair, about twenty two, smiles at me.

“I’m Gavin. Seriously, how’d you get in?” He asks excitedly.

I sigh and roll my eyes as I start to walk back towards the barracks.

“Russ, wait!” A hand on my shoulder stops me, and I spin around to grab them, glaring at Thomas. He stares at me with wide eyes, as do the others.

I grit my teeth and drop Merrick’s hand.

“Look, I went to West Point when I was fourteen. I wanted to go into the army my whole life. At first they wouldn't accept me, telling me I was too young. But I insisted again and again, showing them that I could be a soldier. When they saw the skill level I had, they admitted me. Two years later, I’m top of my class out of thirty eighteen year-olds, at only sixteen. I then signed up for the marines, and I’m here now. There. Now you know.” I say, turning away from the men’s wide, impressed eyes.

As I take long strides back to the bunks, suddenly Thomas is walking beside me. I groan, and he frowns.

I push open the door, and walk over to my bunk. Sitting down, I take a deep breath.

“Keegan…”

I turn to see Thomas standing at the end of my bunk, leaning against the pole of the top bunk. I sigh, and turn to face him fully.

“What?” I ask, and Merrick hesitates, then meets my eyes. His are a soft green, full of curiosity.

“Why don't you like people?” He asks, and my eyebrow raises.

“Wait, what do you mean?” I wonder, and he shrugs.

“Well, I mean, you just seem to hate everyone here already. You're pushing everyone away.” He responds, and I sigh, then hang my head.

“It's just how I am, I guess. I don't like pushing people away, I just-”

I feel Merrick’s hand on my shoulder, and I look up. He sits down next to me, and shakes his head.

“Keegan, you don't have to push me away. We're all soldiers here, and we all look out for each other. Now, you're young, but you said you were top of your class at West Point?” He asks, and I nod slowly.

“Yeah. Made it in just two years. Was top notch in rifle training.” I say, and Merrick smirks.

“Then you can show off that skill tomorrow. Holt’s testing our shooting skills.” He pats my back, then stands up.

Walking away, he pauses a few bunks down, then looks back at me.

“I'll have your back, Russ. All the way through.” He says, then he walks out. I sigh, and close my eyes.

The Marines.

Smiling, I lay back on my bunk.

I made it to the Marines.

And I’m going to work hard.

I’m going to be the best damn soldier this war has ever seen.


I hear the wake up call, and I immediately jolt out of sleep and jump out of bed, pulling on my pants and tucking in my tee shirt, lacing up my boots.

The other soldiers are all slowly getting ready, and I smirk a little.

Finishing tying my boots, I jump up and run out the door, jumping over Merrick, who looks up at me from sitting on the floor, tying his boots.

“Keegan?” He calls after me.

I run out to where Holt told us to be yesterday, and stand at the ready. The other soldiers slowly trickle out of the bunks as Holt walks up.

He eyes me with a grin, and I nod at him.

“All right, men! Today we see how well you work under pressure, how physically fit you are, and how well you can shoot. Get ready, boys, this is gonna be fun.” He says with a smirk.

He leads us over to an area of the large field we stand on the edge of. I can see a training course of sorts.

It has multiple wooden walls to vault over, tires to run through, a set of high bars to cross, a pole with steps on it to climb, and a net to army crawl under.

Holt turns around to face us.

“We're going to see how fast you boys can master this course. Who wants to go first?” He asks, and I quickly step forward. He stares at me with a raised eyebrow, then grins.

“Okay, Russ. Let's see what you've got.” He says, and I take a deep breath. He looks at his watch, then up at me.

“GO.”

I sprint towards the tires, quickly placing my feet in the middle of each one as I seemingly almost float over them, going so fast. I jump out, then run towards the vaults.

I jump and grab the top, easily launching over it. Another, taller one lies in front of me, and I narrow my eyes. Sprinting towards it, I leap up, my fingers clenching around the top. I scramble up and jump down the other side.

The high bars sit in front of me on the other side of the climbing pole. I immediately climb the steep, far set rungs to get up to them. I quickly jump to the first bar, then swing to grab the next one. Again and again, as fast as I can, I swing across.

Flinging myself to the ground, I run to the net. Dropping to my stomach, I crawl swiftly along the ground, not touching the net once.

Reaching the end, I bolt to my feet, and sprint to where Holt stands, skidding to a stop next to him.

He stops his watch, and stares at me with wide eyes as I catch my breath.

“3:27. A new record for the course.” He says incredulously, and the other soldiers stare at me, speechless. I can see Merrick grinning with his arms crossed. Gavin has an amazed expression on his face, smiling wildly.

Holt smiles at me, and pats my shoulder.

“You certainly surprised me with that, kid. Let's see what else you got today.” He says with anticipation, and I nod.

“Yes sir.”


After everyone made it through the course, which took a very long time, it was on to firing.

Some of the men had to redo the course four or five times to finally finish it.

Merrick got it in 6:31. He congratulated me after, impressed by how well I did. He walks beside me as Holt leads us to the gun range.

“Hey, Keegan. This is really your chance. If you're as good as you say you are, then you'll nail this.” He says, and I nod slightly. We stop, and Holt crosses his arms, looking us over.

“So. You all finished the physical test. Let's see how well you do on a psychological one. Shooting isn't just about firing rounds at the enemy. It's in your mind, too. If you aren't set in the head, then you can't win. So you need to be able to focus.”

He turns his gaze on me.

“Russ. I heard you were an ace at rifle training at West Point. Let's see how you are here. It's quite a bit harder.” He says with a smirk.

I nod, and he points towards the range, then a weapons rack behind him.

“You have to hit twelve targets. Pick any weapon.” He says, and I walk over.

Grabbing the sniper rifle, I hear one of the men behind me say,

“Oh, sure. Take the easy gun.”

I spin around to glare at him, a tall, strong man with dark brown hair. My eyes narrow at him, and he steps back in fear.

“You think sniping is easy, do you? Try it sometime on moving targets.” I say with a bite.

“Russ.” Holt commands, and I turn back.

“Sorry, sir.” I walk to the edge of the range, and turn to Holt. He nods towards me, and I take a deep breath.

Raising the rifle to look through the scope, I see multiple targets starting to move, and I smirk. Finding one in my sight, I shoot, hitting the middle bullseye in the head.

Swinging my gun to the right a bit, I see another, and shoot again. Again I hit the middle target in the head, and I smirk.

Finding another target to my left, I pull the trigger, with the same outcome.

Eight more times I successfully bullseye the marks on the heads of the targets.

I see one target on the farthest part of the range. I zoom in with the scope, and take a small breath. Pulling the trigger, the bullet hits the middle of the target, right at the wooden support, splitting the wood and knocking the target over.

I take my eye away from the scope, and turn to Holt.

“That's twelve, sir.” I say straightly, setting the sniper rifle back down on the rack.

Holt stares at me with wide eyes, and I stand strongly. The other men, including Merrick, all gawk at me, and I sigh, glancing over at them. The man who had remarked about the weapon before has his mouth hanging open in shock, and I smirk at him.

Meeting Thomas’ eye, I wink, and he grins incredulously.

A hand on my shoulder spins me around, and I look into the eyes of my sergeant, who still stares at me with huge eyes.

“Keegan P. Russ, I have never seen someone perfectly bullseye every single target in a row on this course before, let alone their first time.” He smiles impressed, and I nod at him.

“Thank you, sir.”

Holt grins.

“I expect that you'll make an amazing marine, kid. You've got real talent, and the guts to do so. Well done, Private.” He compliments, and I take a deep breath, beaming on the inside.

Chapter Text

8 Months Later

February 7th, 2016

 

Checking the ammo for my gun, I sigh.

The Remington R5 in my hands feels odd, as I know it isn't for target practice.

Three days ago, the Federation attacked a civilian hospital, and we're being sent to face them down.

We're the best of the best soldiers. Tier One Teams.

Glancing over at Merrick as I slip my tactical knife into its sheath, I take a breath.

“Are you ready for this?” I ask with curiosity. He glances up, and shrugs.

“I mean, I think we all are. We're the best soldiers in the compound, Keegan. Holt trained us well.”

I nod, turning back to continue to pack up my backpack.

I feel a hand on my shoulder, and I turn to see Gavin, with a man next to him. I spin around, facing them both.

“Hey, Gavin.” I say, and Gavin thumbs at the man next to him, maybe 25 with short brown hair and greyish blue eyes.

“This is my friend, Spike. He's gonna be with us. There's a lot of soldiers we haven't met yet that are gonna be with us today. Rorke said there's sixty of us.”

I raise my eyebrow.

“Rorke?” I wonder, and Spike nods.

“He's our commander. Gabriel Rorke. He's a goddamn drill sergeant, but he taught us well.” Spike says, and I shrug, turning back to my backpack.

“Whatever works. You guys should get ready to go. Wheels up in twenty minutes.” I suggest, and Spike flicks Gavin’s shoulder.

“Let's go.” He says, and Gavin nods.

“I'll see you on the plane, Keegan.” He says, then walks away.

Letting out a sigh, Merrick walks over to me.

“Hey, you okay?” He asks, and I look up to meet his eyes.

“I mean, we're sixty men, facing down a force of 500 enemy soldiers. I don't know.” I mutter, and Thomas puts his hand on my shoulder. I look up to meet his eyes.

“Hey, like I said the day I first met you. I'll have your back the whole way through.” he says comfortingly, and I smirk.

“Yeah. I got yours, too.” I reply.

Holt walks over to us, and we all stand at attention.

“Okay, men. I know we are few in numbers, but we are the best of the best. When you go out there today, your objective is to force the Federation back from the hospital to keep its occupants alive. There's going to be casualties. You need to understand that. In war there always are. But I know that my men are the best of the best. You'll make it through this, and you'll make me proud. Grab your gear men. Let's move out.” He orders.

I grab my M110 SASS sniper rifle, slinging it on my back. My Remington is strapped to my belt, and I take a deep breath, running to the plane.

Our uniforms, grey and black tactical, are light but protective.

Climbing into the plane I was assigned, I look around. About thirty men are in this one, thirty in the other.

I see Gavin and Spike down near the storage area, talking to three other men.

A shove makes me stumble a bit, and I turn around to see a man about five years older than me with messy light brown hair and blue eyes looking to me.

“Sorry.” He says apologetically.

“I wasn't exactly looking where I was going.”

I nod slowly.

“Okay…”

He sticks his hand out after clipping an M16 to his belt.

“I’m Kick.” He says, and I take his hand.

“Keegan.”

He smiles.

“Well, Keegan, I'd get ready to have one hell of a battle, cuz we're going against a lot of Federations soldiers.” He informs, and I nod.

“Yeah, I know.” I look around awkwardly. He grins.

"We might be few in numbers, but I know that we're gonna win this. We're the best soldiers there are." He says determinedly.

Taking a breath, I smile forcefully.

"Yeah....I-"

Kick meets my eyes sincerely. 

"I just hope you're okay today. I'd hate for you to get hurt. ANYONE, for that matter." He says, looking around.

I bite my lip, trying to get away from this guy. I see Merrick a bit away, and I glance back at Kick.

“Hey, I gotta go. My team is over there, but I guess I'll see you on the field.” I say, and he nods.

“Yeah! Good luck!” He says optimistically, then walks off. I let out a deep breath, then walk to sit next to Merrick. He looks at me with a grin.

“I take it you're not exactly liking being social?” He asks with a joking tone, and I tilt my head to look at him with an exasperated look.

“I met a guy who wouldn't shut up. He was hyper, and he-”

“Was his name Kick?” Merrick asks, and I sit up with a raised eyebrow.

“Yeah…” I answer, and Merrick chuckles a little.

“Keegan, I know he seems annoying and hyper, but he's a really good soldier. He’ll save your ass if you need. Don't judge a book by its cover.” He says, and I nod.

Leaning back again, I close my eyes.

This is my first battle ever.

And there's only going to be sixty of us, going against 500 freaking Federation soldiers.

Why do I feel like this isn't going to end so well?

 

2 Hours Later

As the plane touches down, we all ready our guns. I glance over at Merrick, and he nods at me.

I can see Gavin and Spike across the plane, talking to a few other people.

A voice comes over the radio.

“Get your gear ready, men! It's gonna be one hell of a shit show!”

I take a deep breath as the door to the plane opens, and I can see the hospital in the distance. Already I can see the black uniforms of the Federation on top of the roof, and a feeling of anxiety runs through my body.

Merrick pats my shoulder.

“It'll be fine kid. I'll say it again. I'll have your back the whole way through.” He comforts, and I sigh.

We run out of the plane, and I see a man up ahead giving orders to the men. He has a black bandana tied around his head, and a scar over his left eye. His tough look has nothing on his voice, screaming over all the noise.

“There is only one objective here, men!! Get to the hospital, and get those civilians out alive as we force the Feds back!! Move out!!” He yells, and I raise my eyebrow.

“Who's that?” I ask Merrick quickly, and Merrick shakes his head.

“I don't know. I’m guessing he's the commander that Spike has. Gavin told us about him. I think his name is Rorke.”

I shrug.

“Come on, let's go.” I say, sprinting after them. As we reach a broken building, a sudden barrage of gunfire makes the twenty of us front soldiers drop to the ground.

I glance over at Merrick with wide eyes.

“Well, I think they noticed we're here.” I remark, and Merrick gives me a sarcastic look.

“Keegan, your observational skills are astounding.”

I frown, glaring at him. I slowly move towards a bunch of the other men, near Gavin and Spike.

One of them, a man about thirty-two, glances over at me, then does a double-take. He stares at me with wide eyes.

“What the hell are you doing here, kid?! This is no place for boys!” He shouts, and my eyes narrow.

“HEY!! I’m a Marine, like you! I don't give a damn if you think I’m too young, but don't give me shit about this being any place for boys! I’m fighting alongside you because I’m a soldier, too!!” I yell back, and his eyes widen.

I sigh gruffly, then crouch to move over towards Gavin. Stopping next to him, he stops firing over the half wall to look at me. He nods towards the man I just yelled at, then back to me.

“I see you met Cody.” He says, and I glance back, then sigh.

“Yeah. He said this is no place for boys.” I growl, and Gavin shrugs.

“Keegan, he's not wrong.”

I stand up and fire over the wall, taking down a few of the hundreds of Federation soldiers filling the hospital. Gavin stands next to me, and fires alongside me.

“This is a war zone. Most of the men here are going to tell you that. You need to understand that they don't know who you are, or what you're capable of.” He explains, and I duck down to reload.

“They'll see soon enough.” I mutter, clipping the new ammo mag back in.

The late afternoon sun casts shadows on us, as well as the Federation, creating areas of darkness for us to use as temporary shelter.

The Federation’s numbers are large, and I know that we haven't even seen a fraction of them.

Bullets shatter the concrete wall around me, and I turn away, cringing as some of the rubble hits my shoulder. Then a hand grabs me and drags me back a little.

I look up in surprise to see the man with the bandana, Rorke. He narrows his eyes at me.

“What the hell are you doing here? Who let you into the Marines?!” He yells as he pulls me down to avoid the gunfire.

I set my jaw, and raise my chin.

“West Point. Graduated there at sixteen. Joined the Marines, and I don't care if anyone thinks I’m too young. I’m a damn good soldier, and I’m here to fight alongside you all, as the Marine that I am.” I respond, and he raises his eyebrow, looking me up and down.

“What's your name, Private?” He asks, and I frown.

“It's Corporal, actually. And my name is Keegan Russ.” I retort, and Rorke’s eyes flare a bit at me.

He lets me go and crosses his arms.

“You've got attitude, Russ. But if you're a Marine like you say, get your ass back to fighting.” He orders, then runs back to the front line.

I heave a sigh, glaring after him.

“I was fighting. You took me from the front lines.” I mutter.

Sprinting back to the wall, I can see a few dead soldiers around me.

Our own.

I blink away the sight and crouch back next to the wall. Pulling the trigger of my gun, I feel the adrenaline rush as I take down the soldiers.

It's like I said.

I’m a Marine.

I won't let people judge me just by my age.

“Keegan!”

I glance to the side to see Merrick run up next to me, then duck as a shot narrowly misses him.

“I saw you with Rorke! You good?” He asks, and I nod.

“Yeah….just another person getting on my ass about how young I am. But forget it.” I say, eyes focused on the battle.

The Federation soldiers fall from our bullets, but more and more just keep coming. The day draws to an end, dusk darkening the sky. A yell from beside me makes me jump, and I glance to the side to see one of the people Gavin was talking to, a black man about twenty-five fall back, his shoulder bleeding.

“Ajax!” Gavin yells, and the man sits up.

“I’m fine!” He shouts, then continues shooting.

I shake my head with a deep breath.

We're Marines.

Getting hurt doesn't stop us. You keep pushing through.

Keeping my finger held down on the trigger, I grit my teeth. I still have a small part of me that feels like this isn't going to end well, but another part of me tells me that we'll make it through.

A hand on my shoulder turns me around, and a blonde haired man with the lieutenant stripe stares at me. He's about thirty-nine, and I meet his eyes.

“Kid, I heard you're a top-notch sniper!” He shouts over the battle, and I raise my eyebrow, then nod.

“Um, yes?” I answer. He looks around, then back at me.

“I’m Lieutenant Elias Walker. I want you to get up to that outcrop and keep us covered with your rifle.” He orders and my eyes widen.

“You want me to be your sniper?” I ask incredulously, and Elias nods.

“Yes. You're Corporal Russ, right?” He asks, and I nod. He pats my shoulder.

“Then you're the one I want. Good luck, kid.” He says before turning back to the battle.

My eyes widen, and I feel a sense of importance rise in me. I start to run towards the ladder to the second-floor outcropping, but another hand grabs my arm.

“Keegan, where are you going?” Merrick shouts, and I pull away.

“Lieutenant Walker sent me to be the sniper!” I say, and Merrick’s eyes widen as I run off.

Reaching the ladder, I clip my Remington to my belt, then scurry up to the second floor.

I drop to my stomach, and I survey the battle. From up here, I can easily see the whole range of all the soldiers.

Slipping my M110 off of my back, I flip the stand down from the clip and put my eye to the scope. Focusing on the area of the Federation, I start to pick them off. Finding the larger more threatening targets, like the ones with MGs, I take deep breaths as I fire my rifle again and again.

I go to fire again, but my mag is empty. Taking my eye away from the scope, I quickly pull a fresh mag from my bag, and reload the gun, flicking the empty one out of the gun and replacing it quickly. As soon as it's reloaded, my eye is at the scope again.

Zooming in, I sweep the field again. Picking off a captain as I move, I smirk.

I can't believe that the Lieutenant actually sent me to be the sniper!

One of the most important jobs!

Did I really make that much of an impression that I’m know by the lieutenant from the other group?

I shake my thoughts away and focus on the battle again. I stop for a moment as I watch our soldiers shoot down more and more of the Federation soldiers. The sky grows dark as it turns to night, and I pull off another shot just before the shadows of night cross over the battlefield, and all sight is lost.

The shooting stops, and I raise my eyebrow. Does the fight really just stop when it gets dark?

Sitting up, I fold the stand to the rifle back up and sling my gun on my back. My radio beeps, and I flick it on.

“Russ.” I say, and a voice crackles through, and I distinguish it as Elias’.

“Kid, come down. We're done for the night. Get back here with our forces.” He orders, and I nod.

“Yes, sir.” Clipping my radio to my belt, I flick up the stand of my gun, sling it on my back, then jump down the ladder and run to where I can see the soldiers camped. Sprinting into the many soldiers, I search around for my friends and the people I know. Then I see Merrick in the distance, and I take a deep breath.

“MERRICK!” I shout, and he turns around, then smiles.

“Keegan!”

I slow down as I reach him, then I notice he stands next to the two guys who yelled at me earlier, Rorke and Cody. I raise my eyebrow as they both stare at me, then Rorke sighs.

“So. I’m told you we're the one who made first class in training and graduated West Point at sixteen. You're a top-notch marksman and a good soldier. Keep it up, kid, and you'll be an amazing Marine.” He remarks, and my eyes widen.

Cody steps forward towards me and puts his hand on my shoulder.

“Merrick told me about you, and I’m sorry about what I said. This isn't a place for boys, but you're no boy. You're a trained soldier who knows exactly what he's doing.” He apologises, and I take a deep breath with a smile.

“Thanks.” I say with honesty. Elias walks up behind Rorke and stares at me.

“You did well today, kid. Would you be willing to be in the same position tomorrow?” He asks, and I feel excitement fill my chest.

“Of course. I'll do what needs to be done, and I'll do it by doing what I do best.” I reply, and Elias nods.

“Good. Now get some rest, soldier. We engage early in the morning. Be ready.” He says, and I nod.

“Yes, sir.” I turn and walk off, with Merrick next to me. He elbows me a little, and I glance up. He smirks at me.

“So. First battle you're ever in, and you're already in one of the most important positions. Frontlines, high risk. Congrats.” He says, and I shrug.

“I guess all that skill paid off.” I say casually, and Merrick laughs.

“Come on. We've got a hell of a day ahead of us.”

 

6 Hours Later

Running back through the soldiers, I dodge a multitude of bullets as I reach the sniper position I was in yesterday.

Climbing up the ladder, I quickly pull my rifle around and crouch down. Steadying it on my knee, I look through the scope towards the many soldiers starting to run into the field. I start to fire, dropping soldiers easily.

One happens to look up to see me, but I plug his head before he can act on his discovery.

I can hear Elias and Rorke shouting to the men, and their guns firing. The sounds of battle are almost comforting to me, as odd as it is.

Sniping is just instinct to me, now.

It feels natural.

Keeping my eyes on the field, I put down more soldiers. But as my eyes scan the side of the battle with my soldiers, I notice that there are only about 40 of us left.

We have to be careful. We can't risk losing this fight.

Determined to protect my Marines, I up my game, taking out as many soldiers as I can.

I know that Elias is depending on me to cover them, and I’m going to come through for them. I'll do my best to keep my fellow soldiers safe.

 

11 Hours Later

 

I've been up here for 11 hours, and I've taken out more soldiers than I can count.

Far more.

My sole goal is to protect my men. Sighing, my radio crackles. I take it from my belt and flick it on.

“Russ.” I answer, and a voice crackles through.

“Russ, do you have a visual on any of the Federation commanders? I’m told that they're far back on the field.” Elias says, and I stop.

“One moment.” I look through the scope again, zooming in towards the back of the Federation forces. I can see about fifteen decorated Fed soldiers, and I pick the radio up, my eye still glued to the scope.

“Affirmative, command. Federation officers in view.” I confirm, and I hear someone talking on the other end, then Elias takes a breath.

“Keegan, it's up to you to take them out. They're far out of our range. Can you do that, soldier?” He questions, and I grin.

“You can count on it, sir.” I reply, then I flick off the radio.

I focus my view on the officers, zooming in slowly. I smirk as the crosshairs catch one of the officer’s heads, and I pull the trigger. Blood shoots from his skull, and he drops to the ground. The officers around him startle, and pull their guns, searching around alertly.

I bite my lip, take a deep breath, and fire again, dropping another. The officers look around with wide eyes, along with the surrounding soldiers.

Pulling the trigger again, another falls, then another as I fire again.

Then one of the soldiers shouts, and I lower my gaze slightly just in time to see him aiming his gun at me.

My eyes widen, and I go to take my eye away from the scope when I hear the gun fire.

The bullet hits me in the side, and I groan, falling back. I lay stunned for a moment, then shake myself out of it.

I grit my teeth as I slowly sit up, propping myself up on my elbow.

My breath is heavy, and I drop my gaze to my side.

I feel a fear creeping into me as I see the blood that soaks my shirt, dripping onto the cement in dark red drops.

I gingerly touch my side with my fingers, and flinch when I take them away and see that they're wet with blood.

Closing my eyes, I hold my hand to my side, feeling the warm dampness of it.

I push myself up with great effort, and fall back against the wall with a sharp breath.

I unclip my radio from my belt with my other hand, and flick it on, breath shaking.

“Merrick…..Thomas….Come in…” I call, desperately awaiting my friend’s voice.

A crackle brings a small amount of relief.

“Keegan? What is it?” Merrick comes through.

I hesitate, and I hear a silence on the other end, then Merrick’s voice comes through again.

“Keegan, are you okay?” His voice is concerned, and I groan, shaking my head.

“...No….not really….” I strain, more blood dripping down my side.

“What do you mean?! Keegan, are you hurt?!” He shouts, and I take a shaky breath.

“...yeah….it hurts….” I groan, closing my eyes and leaning my head back. I can hear Merrick’s breath quicken in fear.

“What happened?” He asks worriedly.

Biting my lip, I hold my side tighter.

“...shot…” I get out with a hard sigh, and Merrick gasps.

“I’ll be right there, Keegan. I'll help you!” He says, then the radio line fades out.

I drop the radio to the ground and try to ignore the pain.

My breath is sharp and shaky, strained.

The metallic taste in my mouth only increases my fear.

My teeth are clenched tight, my hand pressed hard against my side.

Blood soaks my shirt and jacket, and the drops on the ground have collected to the point of a puddle of blood.

I start to feel light-headed, then a shout makes me open my eyes.

“Keegan!”

I turn my head slightly to see Merrick just climbing to the top of the ladder. He runs to me, and his eyes widen.

“Oh, shit…” He mutters, and I grit my teeth.

“Yeah...I know….” I groan, blood dribbling from my lip. Merrick shakes his head, then picks me up on his back.

“Come on, Keegan…” He says, and I grimace in pain.

Grabbing my gun with my other hand, Merrick turns down the ladder, carefully carrying me down. He reaches the bottom and holds me tighter on his back.

My hand hangs over his shoulder, my fingers dripping with blood.

He runs over to the main area of soldiers, where Elias would be.

At least, I think that's where he's going.

I can't really see anything anymore.

Blinking away some of the pain, I take a shaky breath.

“Thomas…” I utter quietly, and he shakes his head.

“Just hang on, Keegan.” He says. He looks up, then shouts ahead.

“ELIAS!!” He yells, and I can sort of make out a few blurry people. Elias’ blonde hair identifies him, and he runs over to us.

“What happened?!” He asks quickly.

Merrick carries me over to the group of soldiers, and sets me down on the ground, leaning me against a concrete barrier.

My gun drops next to me with bloody fingerprints on it, and I groan, gritting my teeth, my hand still pressed tightly on my bloodied side.

“He was shot while taking out the Federation commanders.” Merrick explains, and Elias kneels down next to me.

I try to blink away the blur, and my sight focuses a little. Elias’ concerned eyes find mine, and I meet his gaze.

“I t-took out h-half the officers, s-sir…” I manage through the blood dripping from my mouth, and Elias nods.

“Don't worry about that. Just keep your eyes open right now, soldier.” He turns his head towards one of the Marines.

“Slate!” He calls, and a man about thirty-three runs over to him. He has dark hair and seriousness to his face.

“Yes?” He asks, and Elias looks back down at me.

“I need you to help Corporal Russ. NOW.” He says, and Slate nods.

“You got it.” He kneels down next to me as Elias runs off.

Meeting his eyes, I see they're an intense green, and he takes a deep breath as he unclips my vest to take it off of me. Holding my breath so as not to cry in pain, I clench my fist as Slate lifts my blood soaked shirt and presses a gauze against my side.

I grit my teeth and clench my fist, flinching from the pain.

Slate shakes his head.

“Jeez, kid. You got shot pretty bad. The bullet went under your vest and cut through you good. What are you even doing out here anyway, let alone on the front lines?” He asks intently while cleaning the wound.

I take a shaky breath and look up at him.

“I’m a Marine. Just like all of you. And Elias wanted me on the front lines, up in sniper position. I’m the best long-range marksman there is.” I utter, and Slate nods.

“Damn. Just a kid, and you have one of the most important jobs there is.” He remarks, and I nod.

“Yeah...I try.” I say with a slight laugh, then I cough as blood runs down my chin.

Slate glances up at me with worried eyes, then frowns.

“Okay, this is gonna hurt.” He warns, and my eyes widen.

He looks back down, then I feel an intense pain in my side, and I cry out as Slate digs the bullet out of my skin.

He pulls away, dropping the bullet to the ground.

I immediately feel blood run down my side, and my chest tightens.

Slate pushes another gauze on it, slowing the bleeding. He shakes his head.

“Dammit, kid. Your first battle and you manage to get yourself shot up real good.” He mutters, then he glances up at me with a frown.

“Uh, this is gonna hurt, too.” He says, and I frown when I see the many bandages he holds.

I close my eyes and take a deep breath, then cringe when I feel him pressing the wound hard, wrapping it tight. Gritting my teeth, I clench my hand on the fabric of my pants.

After an excruciatingly long minute, Slate draws back and sighs.

“Okay. You’re good.” He says.

I open one eye, then open both to look down at the bloody bandage on my side. I take a deep breath, and Slate puts his hand on my shoulder.

“Keep yourself safe, Russ. I don't want to have to patch you up again.” He remarks, and I grin and nod.

Merrick walks over to me, crouching down next to me. He looks up at Slate.

“Thanks, Slate.” He says, and Slate nods.

“Of course.”

Merrick looks back down at me with a frown. I notice the bloodstain he has on his shirt from carrying me over, and I bite my lip as I look up at him.

“Keegan, what did I say about being careful?” He asks, and I glance to the side with a sigh as I wipe the blood away from my mouth.

“Merrick, I was careful. I was taking out the Feds, and one of them happened to get the drop on me. It won't happen again.” I growl, looking back at the battlefield. Merrick shakes his head, rubbing his face with his hand.

“You're gonna give me so much stress, Keegan.” He mutters, and I smirk, then slowly stand up, pressing against the barrier to stabilise myself.

Groaning, I stand up, then pick up my gun from next to me.

“Okay, let's go.” I say, spitting more blood from my mouth, and Merrick raises his eyebrow.

“What? You're not going anywhere!” He says, and I frown.

“Why not?” I demand, and Merrick’s eyes widen.

“BECAUSE YOU JUST GOT SHOT!” He shouts, and my grip around my gun tightens.

“IT DOESN'T MATTER!! WE'RE AT WAR, MERRICK!! I'LL DO MY JOB AS A SOLDIER, INJURED OR NOT!! THAT'S WHAT BEING A MARINE IS!! YOU DON'T QUIT!!” I yell angrily. Merrick groans, rubbing his face with his hand again.

“My god, your stubbornness is going to drive me insane.” He mutters.

I shake my head.

“Well, deal with it, because I’m a soldier, and I am going to fight!” I retort.

“I disagree.”

A voice from behind me says. I turn to see Elias walking up with Rorke behind him. Elias crosses his arms.

“You're not going back out there just yet, Russ. I know you feel you need to, and yes, we know what it means to be a Marine, but in your critical state after losing so much blood, you need to just step back for a while.” He says, and I raise my eyebrow.

“And exactly how long is ‘a while’?” I ask bitterly, and Rorke crosses his arms.

“It doesn't matter, kid. You're going to stay back until we say you're fit enough to fight.”

I open my mouth to say something, but Rorke stares me down.

“That is an order, corporal.” He commands, and I heave a sigh, then sit down indignantly on the barrier, crossing my arms.

Elias and Rorke meet each other’s eyes, then walk away. Merrick puts his hand on my shoulder.

“Keegan. Just take a breath. You'll get back out there. But you need to rest right now.” He tries, but I turn my head away.

He sighs.

“Sorry. I just….I just want you to stay alive.” He says, and I sigh.

He walks off, and my shoulders fall.

Until they tell me I can fight. Ugh!

I have to just wait?!

Sure, my side is screaming, but it's what I have to do!

I go to stand up, but a voice stops me.

“Keegan….” Slate glares at me and raises his eyebrow.

“You're not going anywhere. Because I’m going to keep my eye on you.”

I groan, rolling my eyes.

“Great. Now I have a babysitter.” I mutter, and Slate shakes his head.

“Kid, you have a serious attitude problem.” He states, and I frown.

“Really? Well, I think that sometimes it's pretty appropriate to have an attitude.” I retort, and Slate narrows his eyes.

“Not right now it isn't. Now sit your ass down and don't give me any shit.” He orders, and I sigh, then plop down on the ground, ignoring the pain in my side as I do.

I lean my elbow on my knee and cup my chin in my hand.

“This should be a fun time.” I mutter.

Chapter Text

22 Hours Later

 

I let out a loud sigh, glaring at Slate.

“Come ON! Just let me back out there!” I whine, and Slate groans, then turns to face me.

“Keegan, Elias said you're to rest. So I’m making sure that's exactly what you're doing.” He plainly states, and I sigh.

"But it's been a full day and I'm not out there yet!!" I exclaim, and Slate shakes his head.

"Tough shit. Now shut up."

I frown, holding back any sarcastic, derogatory comments. 

Looking up, I see Merrick and Spike and Gavin and Kick and Elias all standing next to each other, firing furiously over the wall. The men around them drop like flies, being shot back from their defensive positions to their bloody grave on the ground.

Swinging my gaze around, I see fewer and fewer men holding the line in the late afternoon light.

The sun low in the sky creates dark shadows, hiding many of the Federation soldiers. From where I sit, the only trace of the Feds I can see is the bright flash of their guns.

Rorke is yelling commands to the men, then he looks over at us.

“Slate, get Keegan to cover!” He shouts, and I glance up at Slate, who nods.

“Yes, sir!” He runs over to me and bends down to pick me up, but I shove him away.

“No way! I’m not going anywhere!” I shout, and Slate drops his shoulders with a heavy sigh.

“Keegan…” he starts, but I narrow my eyes.

“Don't ‘Keegan’ me! I’m a soldier just like you! Treat me like one! I’m not a kid!” I shout, and Slate raises his eyebrow.

“Yes, you are.” He pushes my arms out of the way and picks me up.

I struggle against him, but his tight hold won't cease.

“LET ME GO!” I scream, flailing in his arms like a child.

Merrick turns to gaze back at me, and he sighs, shaking his head. Catching my eye, he gives me an exasperated look.

“Just go with Slate.” He mouths, and I frown at him, narrowing my eyes. He raises his eyebrow, and I sigh, relaxing my body. Merrick turns back to the line, then disappears from my view as Slate carries me away.

He sets me down far from the front lines, standing in front of me with his hands on his hips.

“Not a kid, huh?” He remarks with a sarcastic tone.

I hang my head, looking to the side.

I hear Slate sigh, then he kneels next to me.

“Keegan, you're only seventeen. You'll get your chance. You just need to heal up first.” He says, and I frown.

“I feel fine, Slate. I don't need to heal up any.” I growl.

But in reality, my side still hurts like hell.

The red-stained bandages under my shirt, pressed tightly against the wound, are stained with both my sweat and my blood. The pain from it shoots through me every time I turn.

Slate’s right. I DO need to heal up first.

But I don't want to.

I want to be on the front lines with Merrick.

Sighing, I lean back and close my eyes. The late afternoon turns into night, and I know the fighting will end soon.

But it won't end soon enough.

My fellow Marines are getting their asses kicked, and I’m just sitting here, useless.

How could this get any worse?

Suddenly, one of the soldiers runs up to us.

Corporal Spenser Jones.

His eyes are wide, and he stops to catch his breath, gasping for air. Slate grabs his shoulder, holding him up.

“Jones, what is it?!” He asks urgently, and I raise my eyebrow, curious as to what could be so important. The fighting has stopped for the night, so why does he seem so scared?

Spenser takes short, sharp breaths, then lifts his head.

“Slate, we're done for! There's only fifteen of us left, including you two! Rorke sent me to get you both!” He explains, and my eyes widen.

Slate lets go of Spenser’s shoulders and steps back, wide-eyed.

“Shit…” He mutters, then he turns to me. Bending down, he picks me up, and I don't resist this time. We're going back to the Marines. My brothers.

Slate holds me on his back tightly, and we run with Spender back to our position. I can see the remaining thirteen, and my chest tightens. They're all collapsed against the rocks and concrete blocks, beaten and weary.

Slate lets me off of his shoulders, and my head swivels as I look for Merrick. My eyes finally fall on him a bit away, and I slowly make my way over, pain slicing through me with every step.

I finally reach him and lean against the rock.

“Thomas.” I say, and Merrick looks up at me, his eyes tired and hurt.

“Keegan…” He murmurs, and I notice the blood stain on his arm where a bullet cut into him. Shaking my head, I slide down the barrier next to him.

“What do we do?” I ask, and Merrick looks up at me with a raised eyebrow.

“What the hell are you asking ME for?! Ask Elias or Rorke.” He mutters harshly.

I lean back a little, startled by his changed persona.

I sigh and lift myself up. I turn to see Elias not too far away, and I limp over to a concrete block next to him.

“Lieutenant Walker?” I say quietly, and Elias looks up, then gives me a curious look.

“Russ. What is it?” He asks, and I look around at the few Marines left.

“What are we going to do?” I ask, and he sighs.

“Keegan, I know things look bleak right now, but-”

“Bleak?!”

A voice from behind us shouts, and I turn to see a tall man in his early thirties with buzzed hair staring at Elias with crossed arms. Elias turns towards him.

“Thrash, I don't-”

Thrash shakes his head.

“Elias, things are beyond bleak now. WAY beyond bleak. The Federation has almost 200 men left, and we're only fifteen in numbers. No, fourteen, actually, considering the kid is hurt.” He says, nodding towards me.

I grit my teeth and clench my fists.

“I’M NOT A KID!!” I yell furiously, and all the soldiers stop to look up at me.

I shake my head with a deep breath, then look up at Thrash with fiery eyes.

“Everyone keeps calling me a kid. But I’m NOT. I was a kid when I went to West Point at fourteen. I was a teenager when I graduated top of my class and joined the Marines. But that, being a Marine? That made me a man. Being in a fight for my life against a force of 500 enemy soldiers with just 60 men around me makes me a man. I may only be seventeen, but I am a loyal Marine ready to pay any price necessary to win this war. So if you want to call me 'kid' again, just remember who has your back on the battlefield.” I spit, and Thrash stares at me with wide eyes.

All the men around me have the same expression, and I huff out a deep breath of air.

Kick looks at me with an impressed smirk, then snickers a little.

“Damn, Keegan’s got a bite to him!” He laughs, then Merrick elbows him, making Kick frown and rub his arm tenderly.

“Ow…..”

Thrash opens his mouth to say something, then closes it, rubbing the back of his head.

“Keegan, I…..I didn't….” He tries to find words, then a throat cleared makes us all turn.

Rorke walks up and looks around at us all.

“Now that we're done with this petty feud, let's get going.” He says, and we all exchange curious glances.

Spike raises his eyebrow.

“What do you mean? Go where?” He asks, and Rorke crosses his arms.

“We're evacuating the hospital. NOW. Then we take down the Federation.” He says confidently.

I glance back at Merrick with wide eyes, and he matches my expression.

Elias stands up and turns to three of the men. One is tall with light brown hair, about thirty-three. The next is about two inches shorter with bright blonde hair, maybe twenty-eight. The third is a medium thirty-two year old with red-brown hair.

Elias addresses them.

“Heath, Bolt, Match! I need you three to carefully infiltrate the hospital and get the patients out. Once you get back here, Spenser will lead them out of here.” He orders and Spenser’s eyes widen.

“Sir, you need me to help fight off-”

“Spenser, this job I am giving you is far more important than any battle. You are saving lives.” He says, and Spenser stops, then nods.

Elias and Rorke turn back to Heath, Bolt, and Match. Rorke crosses his arms.

“I want you boys to be quick and quiet. Get those civilians out, and keep each other safe.” He demands, and they nod.

Running off with their gear, the three of them and Spenser disappear into the black of night, protected by the shadows.

I watch as they go, then I turn back to Rorke. He looks us all over and nods.

“Okay boys, here's what we're going to do. We return to the front line and wait for the Federation. Then, when they're right on top of us, we attack.” He says, and Cody raises his eyebrow.

“Um, won't they notice us before they're right on top of us?” He asks, and Rorke shakes his head.

“No, because we'll be hiding beneath the bodies of our fallen brothers.”

All of our eyes widen, then fill with determination.

Rorke nods.

“Move. We don't have much time.” He orders.

We all grab our weapons, and I start towards the line, but Elias pulls me back.

“No, Keegan. You're staying here.” He says, and my eyes narrow.

“Are you serious?! There's only fourteen of us! You need me to-”

“I need you to listen to a direct order, Corporal, and keep your ass right here!” Elias shouts, and my expression of anger softens to hurt. I sigh, and Elias nods.

“You stay right here, Keegan. Right. Here.” He repeats clearly, and I sit down on the concrete block.

Elias runs to the front with his men, then Merrick runs past. I grab his arm, and he looks down at me.

As I look at him, my eyes are full of pain, determination, and fear.

“Just...be careful out there…” I say after a moment, and Merrick nods, gripping my hand tight.

“You know it, Keegan.” He answers, then drops my hand and runs off.

After a few steps, he stops and turns around to meet my eyes.

“And Keegan?” He shouts, and I lean forward.

“Yeah?”

He points at me.

“If you leave where you're sitting now and try to get to the action, I'll beat the shit out of you.” He says with seriousness on his face.

My eyes widen, and he meets my gaze one last time before he runs off. I sigh and look down at my gun. The insignia of the Marines is printed on the end, and I sigh.

Running my hand along it, I think of all the many soldiers I've killed in three days. It almost seems unreal, but at the same time, it's too real for comfort.

Swinging my legs on the barrier, I take a deep breath. 

Glancing up, the Marines are nowhere to be seen, no trace. They must already be in position. As I look around, I feel my chest tighten.

The bloody bodies of all the marines that fought these past three days scatter the ground. My heart breaks when I think of my friends joining that horrible graveyard.  

Heaving a heavy sigh, I shake my head.

I can't just sit here.

I just can't.

Even though Elias gave me a direct order to stay here, and Merrick said he’ll kick my ass if I moved, I still can't let my friends die.

Grabbing my sniper rifle, I run towards the front line, and I can see the glint of the guns belonging to my friends under some of the soldiers.

My pain seems to completely disappear as the adrenaline pumps through me.

I slowly walk closer, then another glint makes me look up, and my eyes widen when I see the Federation stepping out of the shadows.

I drop to the ground and slowly move under one of the bodies. I cringe as I do so because I knew this man.

His name was James, and we were good friends when I first joined the Marines.

Private James Cawley.

I sigh and shake my head.

I’m sorry, James.

As I lay under his body, I can feel his blood dripping down onto my face, running down in cold streaks.

I take a deep breath, closing my eyes.

Gripping my gun tightly, I look up at the advancing Fed forces. They walk through the field of bodies, and I can see them passing the men that my friends lay under.

A gust of wind blows a cloud of sand up, and it sticks to my bloodied skin, clinging to me like a mask.

The enemy draws closer to me, and I feel my hands are sweaty around my gun. Slowing my breathing, I exhale slowly and clear my head.

I then see my friends slowly stand up from under the bodies, the sand stuck to their skin, making them almost invisible to the enemy.

Rorke fires his gun, and the Fed forces switch to high alert.

“Go loud!” Rorke yells, then the blaze of our guns lights up the battlefield in a fiery glow.

I raise my own rifle to find the Federation in my sights. Pulling the trigger, I hit one in the chest, then another in the neck, then another in the forehead.

The Federation soldiers spin around in fear and confusion as they try to fend off against us.

I can see the Marines drop their guns, ammo gone.

Elias pulls his knife and rips it into a Fed soldier.

The sheen of blades now shimmer in the night as more and more of the enemy fall.

I continue to fire, dropping one after another of the black-clad soldiers.

Narrowing my eyes, I smirk.

It feels good to be back in the field with my rifle in my hands after two days of being utterly useless.

As I pull the trigger again, my gun clicks, and I glance down. I pull the trigger again, but again it just clicks, and I curse.

I’m out of ammo.

Shaking my head, I toss my rifle aside and pull my knife.

Standing up, I realise I look just like all the other Marines. Cloaked in a shroud of sand and blood that makes me unnoticeable to the Federation.

Running forward, I swing at one, slicing his throat.

Blood spurts onto me, and I stop for a moment with wide eyes as the warm red drips down my face.

My hand holding my knife shakes, then I clench it tight. I shake myself awake and keep fighting.

I can see the Federation numbers are running low, only about 75 left.

Cody drops his knife and snaps one of the soldiers’ necks, then another. Spike does the same, and I know that we can win this.

Watching my brothers fight a force that had us outnumbered far too many to one with such strength gives me hope.

I stab a soldier lifting his gun at Slate, plunging the knife deep into his heart. The gun goes off as he falls, and the bullet narrowly misses Slate. He looks back, and his eyes widen when he sees me.

Keegan?!” He shouts, and I nod my head, running over to stab another soldier.

Slate glares at me as he snaps another soldier’s neck. I turn to stab another, but Slate grabs my shirt and pulls me in front of him. He narrows his eyes at me and takes an angry breath.

“What the HELL are you doing here?! Elias told you to stay put! So did Merrick!” He yells, and I groan.

Shoving his hands away, I stab a Federation soldier, then drop him to the ground, along with my knife.

“Yeah? Well, I wasn't going to let you have all the fun.” I mutter, and Slate clenches his fist.

“Keegan, I swear…” He mutters through gritted teeth. I grab another soldier, and he shouts in surprise, then yelps in pain as I break his arm, then his leg with a hard kick. I pull the knife from his belt and push it into his neck. He sputters, blood dripping from his mouth. Finally, he falls silent, and I drop him to the ground.

I turn back to Slate with angry eyes.

“Look, I know that you all think I’m just a kid, and I shouldn't be in a war zone even if I AM a Marine and the best damn sniper there is. But I won't let you all fight alone! If you go down, I go down with you. If we win, I'll be by your side, cheering.” I state, then another shout catches me.

“KEEGAN, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?!”

I look up to see Merrick glaring at me, and I give him a sarcastic ‘what does it look like I’m doing’ gaze.

He grits his teeth, then turns away to kill another man. The Federation’s soldiers are down to ten, and I pull one to the ground, then stab him through the heart.

Glancing up, I see Gavin snap a man’s neck, and Spike next to him does the same. Rorke breaks a man’s ribs with one stomp, then he kicks down on his head, killing him.

Ajax grabs a man, pinning him to the ground before he slashes his throat. Slate next to him holds another man in a chokehold, the soldier gasping for air, then slowly relaxing as he loses breath completely. 

Kick grabs one of the last three soldiers, spins him around, then snaps his neck easily, looking up at the rest of the Marines.

Slate twists his arm around the neck of a Fed soldier he holds in a headlock, and the man's eyes widen, then render him lifeless.

Elias looks up after stabbing a man, and his eyes fall on me. The anger flares in them, and my eyes widen.

Merrick puts down the last soldier, and we all look around, breathing hard.

“We did it….” I utter, then I hear a shout.

“KEEGAN RUSS, WHAT DID I SAY?!” Elias shouts, and all the men turn to look at me.

I take a step back, eyes wide.

“You disobeyed a direct order!” He yells, then I narrow my eyes and clench my fists.

“Yes, I did!” I shout, and everyone stops.

I grit my teeth and shake my head.

“I wasn't about to let my friends, my brothers, fight without me! Being a Marine means you never leave a man behind, and I wasn't about to be left. I disobeyed your order because I don't give a shit whether or not I get hurt! I only care that you all stay alive!” I scream, and Elias’ eyes widen.

The Marines stand stunned, staring at me with shock.

Rorke crosses his arms and looks at Elias.

“Even though he disobeyed your order, I think he showed the most courage out of us all.” He says, and I feel startled at this praise.

Gavin smirks and nods at me.

“Nice one, kid.” He says, and Thrash chuckles.

“Careful not to call him ‘kid’. He might kick your ass.” He warns, and Gavin puts his hands up in fake surrender.

“Oh, jeesus, not that!” He jokes, and I roll my eyes.

Merrick crosses his arms and shakes his head at me.

“Jeez, you are one persistent and determined pain in the ass.” He mutters with a smile.

I grin, and raise my eyebrows with a smirk.

“Yeah, I am. And you're stuck with me for-”

Merrick’s eyes widen, and he reaches out towards me.

“KEEGAN, WATCH OU-”

Suddenly a burning hot pain jabs into my back, and I gasp with wide eyes.

My breath stops as I feel a knife twist further into my back.

The Marine's eyes all go wide in fear as I stare at them with fright. 

“KEEGAN!!” Merrick screams.

I choke and meet Merrick’s eyes as he runs towards me.

The Federation soldier holding me chuckles.

“You're dead, little boy.” He hisses as he rips the knife from my back.

I collapse to the ground, blood soaking my back, my breath heavy and shaking.

I can hear the Marines yelling, then a shot rings out and the Federation soldier drops to the ground, a bullet in his head.

Heath runs over, then he stops when he sees me. His eyes widen.

“Oh shit…”

Suddenly, all the Marines are around me, and I look up at Merrick with pain in my eyes as they grow heavy.

Blood drips from my lip, and Elias kneels down next to me as Slate holds his hand on my back to try to stop the bleeding.

Elias shakes his head.

“Hang on, Russ. You're only seventeen. You can't be taken this early.” He says.

I nod weakly, then cough, more blood dripping from my mouth. Short, sharp breaths fill my lungs, and Slate sighs.

“He's not going to hold much longer.” He mutters, and my eyes slowly close as my blood wets my back.

The pain is just too much.

Then I feel myself being lifted up in someone’s arms, carrying me away quickly.

“You're not gonna die on me, Keegan.” Merrick says with determination to his voice.

I take a shaky breath, feeling myself slipping away. In the distance, I can hear the thumping of a helicopter, growing closer.

Merrick holds me tight as I drop into darkness.

“Hang on, Marine….”

Chapter Text

Present Day

Merrick

I sigh and meet Logan and Cameron’s wide eyes.

Logan leans forward, resting his arms on his knees. Cam sits up, obviously also intrigued.

“So what did you do?” Logan asks with excitement and curiosity.

“He saved my life.”

I glance up to see Keegan leaning against the doorframe, staring at me, and I smirk.

“You're damn right, I saved your life. Five more minutes and you'd have been dead.” I say, and Keegan nods with an eye roll.

“Yeah, yeah. I know.” He stands up and walks over.  

He glances at me as he falls onto the couch next to Logan. Taking a deep breath, he glances over at Logan.

“Merrick got me out of there, fast. Called in the med flight. All of us got out of there. Even as the medic was helping me, with both the bullet and stab wounds, Merrick wouldn't leave me.” He says, meeting my eyes.

Then he shrugs.

“At least, that's what he told me. I don't remember anything after Merrick carrying me.” He says, and Cameron raises his eyebrow.

“Nothing?” He asks, and Keegan sighs, then closes his eyes.

“I remember the last thing he said to me before it was lights out.” He says, and Logan stares at him.

“What?”

Keegan opens his eyes to meet mine with a caring look.

Hold on, Marine.” He says, eyes locked with mine, and a smile creeps its way onto my face.

“A Marine never leaves another Marine behind.” I say, and Keegan nods, then smirks.

“And yet, you were still bullshit at me for not listening to you.” He says as he leans against Logan’s shoulder.

I frown with a raised eyebrow.

“Of course I was! I TOLD you not to try to get to the battle, and to stay where you were-”

“Or you'd beat the shit out of me. Yeah. I remember.” Keegan says coldly, then the ice melts away from his warm smile.

He glances from Cameron to Logan.

“I woke up in the infirmary back at our base five days later. No recollection of how I'd gotten there or why I was even there. Then I felt the pain from my wounds, and everything hit me like a train. I had almost died. Merrick saved my life. When he walked into my room, I thought he was coming to say he was glad to see I was okay.”

Cameron raises his eyebrow.

“He wasn't?” He asks, and Keegan scoffs.

“NO! He started chewing me out on how I should have just done as I was told and followed orders and I wouldn't be in a damn infirmary after almost dying.” He catches my eye, and I bite my lip, rubbing the back of my head.

Logan raises his eyebrow and slowly turns his head to me.

“Really? Keegan was seventeen, in the infirmary after almost being killed, and you started giving him shit like that?!” He exclaims, and I sigh.

“Well, if Keegan was like any other teenager, he wouldn't have been yelled at by me.” I remark, and Keegan rolls his eyes, sitting forward.

“Yeah, ‘if I was like any other teenager’. Well, I was a kid with determination and skill. A kid who graduated from the best military academy at sixteen years old, joined the Marines as a seventeen year old, and became the best sniper the war had ever seen. A seventeen year old kid who almost died doing what he believed was the right thing, to help his friends and his country.” Keegan retorts.

Logan and Cameron fall silent.

I raise my eyebrow.

“Yeah. A seventeen year old boy who was so determined to get on EVERYONE’S nerves and drive me insane because of his irrational, immature inability to grow up!” I burn, and Keegan glares at me.

“I’m the one who tried to get respect, Thomas! You don't like my attitude, you had to deal with it! Don't forget, you were the one who saved my life! If you thought I was so annoying, why didn't you just let me die?!” He shoots.

My eyes widen as Logan and Cameron stare silently at Keegan with shock.

Keegan’s unrelenting eyes remain locked on me, and I sigh, rubbing my face with my hand.

“Keegan, did you really think that all this time? That if I couldn't put up with you, I would have just let you die?” I ask, and Keegan’s eyes soften.

“What? I mean….” he starts, and I lean back with a heavy sigh.

“Keegan, it might not have seemed like it, but all of us, all us Marines? We wanted nothing more than you to always be safe and okay.” I say with genuinity, and Keegan’s eyes widen.

“What?...” He utters quietly, and I nod.

“Of course. You were the youngest Marine ever, the most skilled we had ever seen, and you risked everything just to help all of us. Of course we cared about you!” I say, and Keegan sits back with a stunned look on his face.

Logan puts his hand on Keegan’s shoulder.

“Keegan?...” He says softly, and Keegan shrugs.

“I just always assumed that, with the attitude I gave and the pain in the ass I was, I wasn't too high up on everyone’s favorites list.” He admits, and Logan elbows him lightly, making Keegan look up.

Logan’s eyes are soft and caring, and his grin makes me light up.

“Keegan, you're at the very top of my favorites list.” He says, and I smile as Keegan’s eyes widen.

Cameron nods.

“Mine too. You're a good man, Keegan. You always have been. And I will fight beside you to the very end.” He says, and Keegan takes a deep breath.

Then he meets my eyes.

“What about you, Merrick? Where am I on your favorites list?” He asks with a smirk.

I think for a second, then shrug.

“Somewhere in the lower middle, I think.” I state, and one second later Keegan whacks me upside the head with his hat.

I flinch with a laugh.

“I was kidding! Of course you're at the top, Keegan! Why would I have saved your ass otherwise?!” I shout with a grin, and Keegan sits back, laughing.

“Oh, I know. I already knew that. I just wanted to hear you say it. And hit you upside the head.” He snickers, and I raise my eyebrow, then shove him down on the couch.

“You're STILL a child, you know that, right?” I say, standing up.

Keegan meets Cameron’s and Logan’s entertained eyes with a devious grin.

“Of course I know that. How the hell else am I supposed to annoy you?” He laughs, and I roll my eyes as I walk out of the room, the three behind me laughing and joking around.

Not as men or soldiers.

As boys.

The boys that they deserve to be.


 

 

Cameron

I laugh as Keegan shoves Logan towards me after Logan kicks him.

“Hey! Watch it!” I shout, and Keegan snickers.

“What? It's not like there's anything valuable that I need to be careful about!” He grins, and I raise my eyebrow with a smirk, then shove Logan back at him.

“Shut up, you jerk!” I say with a laugh.

Logan pushes us both away, hands out straight.

“You know, I’m not some kind of beach ball you can keep throwing at each other!” He shouts with a jokingly harsh tone.

Keegan and I catch each other’s eye, then look at Logan.

It's quiet for a moment, then we all burst out laughing.

Keegan puts his arm around Logan, and pulls him close.

“Man, I haven't laughed like this in YEARS.” He chuckles, then noogies Logan.

Logan tries to squirm away, but Keegan just holds him tighter.

“Keegan...Let...me….GO!” Logan flails in his arms and Keegan laughs.

I start to snicker, and Logan looks up at me pleadingly.

“Get him off of me!” He begs, and I shake my head with a chuckle.

“Man, you two are such brothers.” I mutter, then my eyes widen when I realise what I said.

Logan and Keegan both go quiet. They look at each other, and Keegan lets Logan go.

Logan looks up at Keegan, then to me. Keegan’s eyes train on me too, and I feel my mouth hanging open, eyes wide.

“I didn't….I…” Trying to find words, I shake my head.

“I didn't mean it like…. I mean, I just….” I take a deep breath, hanging my head.

A heavy sigh makes me look up, and I see Logan leaning forward, his arms resting on his legs, head down.

I meet Keegan’s eyes painfully.

“I’m sorry...I shouldn't have said…..” I trail off, and Keegan nods understandingly.

He glances down, and puts his hand on Logan’s shoulder.

“Logan?” he says quietly, and Logan sighs again.

“You know, it's funny….” He says, and I raise my eyebrow.

“What you said, it's kind of true now.” Logan glances up at me and Keegan with a sad look.

My eyes widen, as do Keegan’s.

“What?” Keegan questions, and Logan sits back.

“Yeah. I mean, no one will ever replace David,” he sullenly states, and I nod painfully.

“But, Keegan,” he looks up.

“You're the closest thing I have to a brother. Actually, even before Hesh…” He trails off as his voice catches in his throat.

Keegan sits with wide eyes, then smiles sadly.

He leans forward and hugs Logan, who sort of tenses up a little out of shock.

“Logan, you and Hesh were like brothers to me. Even after what happened to Kick, I couldn't hate Hesh. I cared too much about you two. That's why I went after you. I couldn't let you get hurt. Even if it meant me lying to the Ghosts, leaving them and getting hurt myself, I was determined to save you both.”

I stare at Keegan with wide eyes as he sighs and closes his eyes, leaning his arms on his legs.

“But I couldn't get there in time. I was on the other side of the field, watching the battle, but I couldn't see Hesh. That's when I heard Logan yelling, and I got this horrible feeling. I started running over, then Logan’s crying only amped up my fear. But when I actually got over, and saw David, I….”

Keegan squeezes his eyes shut, a tear falling onto his clenched hand.

“I failed. Then I took you, Logan. I saw the immense pain you were in, and I just couldn't leave you.” He turns his head to look at Logan, and I follow his gaze.

Logan’s eyes are wide, then tears topple over the edge. He hugs Keegan again, and Keegan jolts a little, then hugs Logan back.

“I...when you found me, Keegan, it was like I was gone, too. But…..But when I felt you catch me, and held me as I cried, I noticed you were crying too.” He looks up at Keegan, who glances to the side.

“I knew you cared about Hesh and I, but I didn't think you'd risk everything just to keep an eye on us.” He says, and Keegan’s eyes widen.

“Of course I would. Why shouldn't I?” He asks, and Logan stops, then catches my eye.

I shrug. Logan glances back at Keegan.

“Maybe because you could have been killed-”

“So could you.” Keegan interrupts, and Logan takes a deep breath.

“But also, Merrick was pissed that you left. You left all the Ghosts. Did we really mean that much that you left the life you had worked so hard at, being a Ghost, to come after us?” Logan asks disbelievingly.

Keegan shrugs.

“Yeah. I'd do it again if it means keeping you alive. Sure, I've been a Ghost for a long time-”

I raise my eyebrow and grin.

“Keegan, you were the youngest Ghost ever. I think what Logan is trying to say is that all the Ghosts cared about you, and you just left. I mean, you heard Merrick earlier. They all were dead set on keeping you safe. Imagine what they would have felt if you had been killed?” I explain, and Logan glances up at Keegan, who sighs and leans back.

“I...I didn't even think of that...I just...now that I know how all the Marines felt about me, I can guess how they'd feel. It would have been the same pain I felt when I saw David. But I’m here. Logan’s here. So at least I got two of us out.” Keegan says disheartedly, then Logan hugs him again.

“Yes you did. And even though I lost Hesh, I still have my other brother.”

Keegan’s eyes widen, then he smiles softly and holds Logan tightly.

I smile and lean back in my chair, staring at them.

They both lost their best friend, but they each still have their brother.

Chapter Text

Slate

As I fill up my glass of water, I turn when I hear footsteps. Shutting the faucet off, I spin to see Merrick walk in the room.

He looks up at me.

“Hey, Slate.” he says, and I nod.

“Hey. Logan okay?” I worry, and Merrick shakes his head with a chuckle.

“Oh yeah. He's fine.”

Leaning back against the counter, I take a sip of water, then set my glass down. I cross my arms.

“You've been down there a while. What were you guys doing?” I ask, and Merrick sighs, then walks over to lean against the counter next to me.

“Logan and Cameron wanted to know more about Keegan. So I basically told them all about Keegan’s military history. As long as I’ve known him.” He answers, and I smirk.

“Even the part about when we were in battle?” I ask, and Merrick glances up at me.

“That part the most. Logan and Cameron were astounded at Keegan’s bravery and determination.”

I raise my eyebrow.

“What about his irrational actions and annoying attitude?” I ask, holding back a laugh. Merrick smirks as he shakes his head.

“Yep. That too.” He nods, then sighs.

“Keegan walked in just as I was telling them about the end of the battle. You know, when he was stabbed?” He asks, and I straighten up.

“Of course I remember. How could I not? We all remember. Keegan was the youngest Marine ever, and he risked his life, then almost lost it to protect us.” I respond, and Merrick frowns.

“Apparently he didn't know that.” He mutters, and I raise my eyebrow.

“Know what?”

Merrick drops his shoulders in a sigh.

“He didn't know that we all cared about him that much. He thought that since he was such a pain in the ass, I would have just let him die.”

My eyes widen, and I sit up straight.

What?!

Merrick nods, then he smiles.

“But, after I explained, Logan and Cameron explained how much they cared, and then we all started joking, and Keegan seemed to turn back into that kid we knew twelve years ago.” He smirks, and I feel my lips turn up in a smile.

“He is still young, Thomas. He deserves to act like a kid again.” I say, and Merrick nods.

“I know. And I’m glad that he has Logan to be with him.” Merrick turns his head to me.

“You know, even though he hasn't really said it, I know that Keegan felt like the Walkers were his brothers. That's why he went after them. I’m sure of it. Plus, the way that he's so close to Logan now? He cares about them. Just like how we care about him.” He voices with a soft smile.

I shrug and nod.

“It's good for him. He never really had anyone like that, other than Kick. But he was more like an older brother to him. Hesh and Logan, they're closer to him than anything. I've noticed it, too. And I’m happy for him. He needs this.” I remark slowly, and Merrick nods.

“Yeah. He has someone to look after him, and someone to look after.” He says brightly with a smile, looking into the other room.

I sigh as a warm feeling flows through me, thinking of the young boy I helped all those years ago now a man with a new family.


 

 

Trent

Shoving Ramon in the shoulder, he glances up.

“What?” He asks, and I roll my eyes.

“We should be working on Davis’ plan. The Ghosts got him before he could get them. So we do it for him.” I deliver, and Ramon shrugs.

“I mean, I know that we were helping Davis, but do we really need to go any further? The Ghosts are-”

“Are a threat to us. We already took out two of them, Ramon. Are you that much of a weakling that you aren't going to step up and follow orders?” I degrade, and Ramon narrows his eyes, then jumps up to shove me to the floor.

“Listen, Trent. You can call me what you want, but I am a loyal soldier that will always follow orders.” He glares at me, and I raise my eyebrow.

“Loyal? Ramon, we betrayed the Ghosts. I’d call that pretty far from loyal.” I smirk, and Ramon sighs.

“Loyal to Davis. You knew I meant that, Trent. Why are you such a prick?” He grumbles, and I stand up with a chuckle.

“Because it pisses you off.” I fix my shirt, then glance up at him.

“We have to take out the Ghosts, Ramon. Now, I don't know about you, but I’m taking on the next target.” I say, and Ramon groans.

Fine. Who?”

I smirk, and pick up my gun, checking the mag.

“Slate.” I say with a certain excitement. Ramon’s eyes widen.

“We're taking out Slate?” He asks incredulously, and I raise my gaze to him questioningly.

“Yes. Why?” I ask, and he shrugs.

“Why not Merrick? Or Keegan? Or Logan?” He wonders, and I roll my eyes.

“Because Davis told us to. And we can't take out Logan, Keegan, and Merrick yet. They have to watch as their friends all die around them.” I laugh, and Ramon chuckles, then his smile turns to a frown.

“Wait, what about Sam and Cameron?” He asks cautiously, and I stop, then slowly turn to him.

“What about them?”

My voice is harsh but curious, and Ramon bites his lip.

“Are we going to kill them, too? They have no idea we're doing this, and they're on the side of the Ghosts, so I was just wondering…..” He trails off, and I sigh heavily.

“We'll see how things play out. Now, I need you to keep low while I take Slate. Make sure the other Ghosts don't get in the way.”

Ramon rubs the back of his head.

“Won't you need my help? Slate is pretty strong, and he-”

I roll my eyes.

“JEEZ, I can tell why Davis had trouble putting up with you. You never stop worrying or asking questions.” I groan, and Ramon frowns, then opens his mouth to retort, but a voice makes us stop.

“Hey, Slate, are you going to come with me down to Davis? We're still trying to get information from him.” Merrick says, and I glance to the side at Ramon.

“No thanks. I’m good. I’m just going to head to the command platform. See if there's any more Feds that could be around.” He says, and a smirk creeps its way onto my face.

“Perfect. He’ll be alone.” I whisper, then turn to Ramon.

“Make sure the Ghosts stay down in the other room. I can't have them messing this up.” I order, and Ramon nods.

“Okay. Good luck.” He wishes as I tuck my gun in my belt and my knife in its hidden sheath.

Slipping out the door, I glance up and down the corridor, then quickly make my way towards the command center. I stop outside the door, and lean against the wall.

Peeking around the edge of the open door, I see Slate standing at the large screen, looking over all the information and scanners.

Taking a deep breath, I step into the room quietly, then crouch down as I silently close the door behind me. Staying low, I creep closer to where Slate stands unknowingly, unaware to the imminent danger approaching.

Keeping my eyes on him, I don't notice an empty mag on the floor until my boot kicks it. The mag skitters across the floor, the scraping metal making a noise that Slate spins around at.

I hurriedly press myself back against one of the consoles, taking a deep breath.

“What? Is someone there? Merrick?” He glances around, and I close my eyes, trying to slow my breathing.

“Come on…..Merrick, where are you?” Slate asks irritably.

I open my eyes, then my heartbeat quickens when I see that my shadow is easily visible to Slate. It's only a matter of seconds before he sees it, and if I move, he’ll see it all the sooner.

Dammit.

Just as Slate is about to turn back around, his eye falls on the floor. His eyebrow raises when he sees my shadow, and he steps back a little.

“What the-”

I grit my teeth.

Well, he already saw. No point in hiding.

I stand up, and turn to face him.

“Hello, Slate.” I utter grimly, and Slate eyes me carefully.

“Trent. My guess is you're not up here to look at the scanners.” He says warily, and I shrug.

“Nope.” Meeting his eyes, I glare at him, and the reason of my presence suddenly registers in his head.

He frowns, and shakes his head.

“I see what this is. I know why you're here, and I walked right into this.” He mutters, then glances up at me with angered eyes.

“So you're in league with Davis and the Federation, too. I can only assume that Ramon, Sam, and Cameron are in on your little scheme, as well?” He demands, and I shake my head.

“Not Cameron and Sam. Just Ramon, Davis, and I.” I admit, and Slate grits his teeth.

“And it's just you here with me right now? No backup from Ramon?” He asks, and I smirk.

“Just me and you.” I confirm with a menacing grin.

Slate nods.

“Fine.” He vaults over the console, jumping towards me. My eyes widen as he hits me, sending me stumbling back. I glare at him, and plant my feet on the ground.

“You're a dead man, Slate. There's no escape.” I growl, and Slate shakes his head.

“We'll see about that.” He comes at me again, and swings his fist. I catch it mid-air, and bring my knee up to his stomach. He gasps for air, and I shove him back against one of the tables, making him groan.

Swinging my fist, it connects with his mouth, and blood runs from his lip as it splits. Slate grits his teeth, then slams his head forward at me, hitting mine. I stumble back again, and I feel a small bit of blood drip from my nose. I wipe it away, then narrow my eyes.

Slate wipes the blood away from his mouth, glaring at me with fiery eyes. He swings again, but I push him away. I shove him back against the table harder, then he kicks up, hitting my leg.

I curse, but grit through it.

Slate shoves me away, and as I stumble back, I pull out my gun. Quickly checking it, I swing it up as Slate comes at me again.

Pulling the trigger, the silencer on the pistol muffles the shot as it tears into Slate’s leg.

He cries out as he falls to the ground, clutching his bleeding leg.

I smirk, and raise my eyebrow. He grits his teeth and lifts his head to glare at me. I crouch down next to him and grin.

“Well? What are you waiting for?” Slate groans, his eyes sporting a strong look of hate.

“Kill me!” He shouts, and I shake my head.

“Oh, you're mistaken if you thought I was just going to kill you and not make you suffer.” I gloat, and Slate’s eyes widen.

Tucking my gun back in my belt, I pull my knife out, and hold it up at Slate’s eye level. He leans back a little, and I push him down on the floor.

“No, Slate. I’m not going to kill you. I’m going to burn you. You, and every Ghost there is. And Logan, Keegan, and Merrick are all going to watch helplessly as their friends are murdered right in front of them.” I smirk, and Slate’s eyes widen further.

Leaning close to him, I chuckle.

“And you'll be in just as much agony as them.” I hiss, then I plunge the knife deep into his stomach.

He chokes as his eyes shoot open, and I grin. His breath shakes as he stares at me with wide eyes. Pushing the knife further, I grin as he groans, then I rip the blade away.

He squeezes his eyes shut tight, teeth gritted in pain as he clamps his hand on his stomach, the dark red stain on his light grey shirt rapidly growing. Blood runs over his hand, and I stand up as Slate flinches, lying in excruciating pain on the floor.

As I stand above him, the blade of my knife drips red onto the floor, the drops spotting the ground.

Suddenly the door behind me opens, and I spin around, wide eyed.

Sam stands in the door, and he raises his eyebrow at me.

“Trent, what are you-”

His gaze drops to the blood-stained knife in my hands, the red that stains my fingers, then his eyes finally drop to Slate curled on the ground.

Sam’s eyes widen, and his head snaps up.

“Trent, what have you done?!” He shouts, and I narrow my eyes.

“I wish you hadn't seen that, Sam. Now you're a witness who needs to be dealt with.” I growl, and Sam’s eyes widen.

Slate groans, propping himself up on his elbow.

“Sam, RUN!” He yells painfully, and Sam switches his gaze between me and Slate, then turns to run down the hall.

Turning to look down at Slate, I narrow my eyes.

“You may think you saved him, but you just sealed Sam’s fate.” I growl.

 

Slate

I meet Trent’s angry glare with a furious look. My hand is wet with blood, and my leg is soaked in red.

“You're not getting the rest of the Ghosts. Sam will tell them, and you'll be finished. Like Davis.” I struggle, flinching from the pain. Trent smirks.

“You can't even move. What are you going to do?” He taunts, and I narrow my eyes.

Pushing up on my elbow, I painfully lift myself to my knees, then slowly and shakily stand up. Meeting Trent’s wide eyes, I shake my head.

“You and your traitor partners are all going to pay for what you've done.” I say harshly, and Trent smiles.

He slowly backs up, then he slams the door on me, looking through the small window with a smirk.

My eyes widen, and I hurriedly limp over to it, pressing my hand against the glass, leaving bloody fingerprints.

Trent grins.

“You'll die before you can do anything to stop us.” He says gleefully.

The click of the lock widens my eyes even more, and Trent steps back from the door as I rattle the doorknob. I bang on the glass, creating a crimson handprint.

“TRENT!” I yell, but he turns away and runs down the hall. I slam on the door again, banging against it with my hand. The small window is almost impossible to see through now, streaked red with blood.

I step back, then collapse as I do so, gritting my teeth tight as I hold my leg. The shot in my thigh bleeds profusely, and I try to press down, but the pain is excruciating.

Glancing up, I see the console not too far away, and I start to drag myself over. My leg leaves a bloody trail on the floor, and my stomach wound bleeds more as I move. The pain is agonising, but I manage to reach the table.

I lean back against it, breathing hard. Holding my hand on my stomach, I close my eyes, then cough hard into my other hand. Taking my hand away, I see it dripping with blood, and I taste the metallic flavor in my mouth.

Taking a deep breath and biting my lip, I pull off my jacket despite the immense pain. Slipping it off, I wrap it around my leg and pull it tight, crying out from the terrible pain of doing so. Tying it off, I lean back and heave a heavy sigh.

Turning my head, I can see the control console ten feet away.

I could contact the Ghosts.

But if I try to move, I'll bleed out in seconds.

Shaking my head, I close my eyes. It'd take a miracle for me to survive this.


 

 

Sam

As I run down the hall, I glance back the way I came.

I can't believe Trent attacked Slate!

Why would he do this?

I need to find the Ghosts….

Suddenly I slam into someone, and I look up to see Ramon staring down at me. I sigh.

“Ramon! My god. Trent shot Slate! We need to warn the Ghosts! He's with Davis, and-”

Trent comes running around the corner, and smiles.

“Good job heading him off, Ramon.” He says, and my eyes widen as my gaze switches between them. I glance back at Ramon, who smirks with evil eyes.

“You...you mean….you're with him, too?” I say shakily, and Ramon and Trent chuckle.

“You and Cameron were so naive. But sadly, since you saw what happened to Slate, I’m afraid I can't let you live.” He says, and I shake my head quickly.

“Trent, wait! We've been soldiers together for five years! I always had your back, and-”

Trent rolls his eyes.

“That doesn't mean jack shit to me, Sam. Davis, Ramon and I are taking out the Ghosts. Just like the Federation asked us to.” He says, and my eyes widen further.

They've been working for the Federation all this time. Right beneath our noses….

Trent raises his gun at me, and I stiffen up. He frowns.

“Sorry, Sam. It's not you. You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” He says, then I drop to the ground and roll under his legs.

He jumps up, stumbling back into Ramon as I sprint down the hall towards the common room. A shot rings out, and a bullet ricochets off the wall, digging its way into my arm.

I grit my teeth in pain, but keep running.

“SAM!!” Trent yells, but I ignore him.

Bursting into the room, I breath heavily as all the Ghosts suddenly snap their heads up. Spike raises his eyebrow.

“Sam, what's wrong?” He asks. Keegan tilts his head.

“Sam, what happened to your arm?”

I try to catch my breath, then look up at all of them with wide eyes.

“Trent and Ramon are working with Davis! Trent just shot Slate!”

Cody bolts to his feet.

“WHAT?!” He yells with wide eyes, then stands motionless for a moment, as all the Ghosts look around at each other.

Keegan stands up and glances over at Merrick.

“Where was Slate last?!” He asks urgently, and Merrick meets his eye.

“He went to the command platform!”

Keegan grabs Cody’s hand.

“Come on!” He shouts, and as they both run out, I look back to see Cameron staring at me with wide eyes.

I shake my head.

“They betrayed us…..” I say softly.

 

Cody

As Keegan and I sprint down the hall, I try to push back the worst in my mind.

Gritting my teeth, I narrow my eyes. I swear, when I get my hands on Trent, I’m going to…..

Keegan takes a deep breath.

“I won't let him die.” He mutters, and I sigh. We get to the command platform to find it locked, and a pit forms in my stomach when I see the small window is smudged with blood, and the door handle and lock have red fingerprints on them.

Keegan quickly unlocks the door, swinging it open. As it opens fully, I see a long bloody smear on the ground, as if someone was dragged. I follow it with my eyes, then they fall on the man leaning against the console.

Keegan’s eyes widen, and he sprints over. I run over to my friend’s side, and my chest tightens.

Slate’s eyes are closed, blood drips from his mouth, and his hand is limp, fallen from where he held it tight on his bleeding stomach. His jacket is tied tightly around his thigh, and despite the thickness, blood still seeps through.

Keegan’s breath quickens, and I bite my lip.

“Keegan...” I start as he puts his hand on Slate’s shoulder, but his eyes widen as Slate groans slightly.

“Cody, he's still alive!” He shouts, and my eyes widen. I jump forward, and help Keegan lift Slate up slowly. As we start to carry him back down the hall, Slate’s eyes flutter open slightly.

“C..Cody?.....Keegan?...” He utters quietly, and Keegan nods.

“Yeah, buddy. We got you.” He says caringly. He holds Slate closer.

“You saved me twice when I was a kid. Now I’m gonna save you.” He says, and Slate chuckles slightly, then coughs, blood dripping from his mouth.

I glance over at Keegan with worry. He catches my gaze, and shakes his head.

Pushing open the door to the main room, Merrick, Logan, Spike, Cameron and Sam look up. Their eyes widen, and Logan shoves all the things off of the couch as we lay Slate down on it.

His teeth are gritted in pain, and Merrick looks down at me, meeting my pained expression. Keegan turns to Spike.

“Get some bandages! We need to stop the bleeding!” He shouts, and Spike runs into the other room. Logan crouches next to me, and puts his hand on my shoulder.

“Cody, it'll be okay. Slate is strong.” He says, and Slate barely open his eyes with a slight grin.

“...Yeah?....You are too, kid….” He manages, and Merrick puts his hand on Slate’s shoulder.

“Hey, don't talk. You're losing too much blood.” He says calmingly.

Keegan clenches his fists, then Spike runs back in.

“Here! I got the med kit!” He shouts, and Keegan grabs it from him.

“Thanks.” He takes out the bandages, setting the rest of the kit open on the floor next to him. He looks at Slate’s leg, and starts to untie the jacket, but stops.

I raise my eyebrow.

“What are you doing?!” I shout, and Keegan looks back at me.

“If I unbandage this now, he could bleed out in seconds. We need to stop the bleeding from his stomach first.” He orders, and I nod. Keegan looks at Logan, and beckons him over.

“Logan, I need you to press the gauze on the wound while I stitch it up, okay?” He asks, and Logan nods.

I shake my head. It's amazing to see how much Keegan has grown up. He really is a good leader now, and he takes charge when the need is there. Thrash taught him well.

Keegan carefully stitches up the stab wound in Slate’s stomach, all the while Slate holds onto my hand tightly.

Keegan finishes it up, then wipes his forehead with his bloodied hand, leaving a red streak. He sighs, then glances down at Slate’s leg.

“Now the tricky part.” He mutters, and Cameron bends down.

“Can I help with anything?” He offers, and Keegan shakes his head, then stops.

“Actually, I need you to help Logan try to slow the bleeding. It's gonna be bad, so be ready.” He states, and Cameron nods. He grabs a gauze, while Logan takes a new one, dropping the blood soaked one he holds in his hands to the floor.

Keegan takes a deep breath, then slowly unties the jacket on Slate’s leg. As soon as he pulls it away, blood starts coursing from his leg. Logan immediately presses the gauze on it, but it quickly soaks through.

Keegan shakes his head.

“The bullet hit a major artery. He's already lost so much blood, I don't know how much I can do.” he says frantically.

Then he takes a heavy breath.

“But I have to try. Cameron, you hold down exactly where Logan is. That's where most of the blood is coming from. Now, when I tell you to, I'll need you to move slightly out of the way while I stitch it up.” He says, and they both nod.

As the three of them start to work quickly, my gaze finds its way back to Slate. I hold his hand tighter, and he weakly squeezes it. He looks up at me, eyes barely open, then he looks over my shoulder a little.

His expression of pain turns to that of relief.

“...M...Match…” He utters quietly, and my eyes widen. He smiles slightly.

“Match...y..you're okay….” His voice grows softer, and I swing my head to Keegan.

“We're losing him!” I shout, and Keegan grits his teeth, his hands dripping in blood.

“I’M TRYING!” He yells, and I spin my gaze back to Slate.

He looks up at me with sad eyes, and a tear rolls down his face.

“...Don't w..worry, Cody...I'll p..protect...Match….now….” He murmurs, and I feel tears hovering on the edge of my eyes.

“No, Slate, you can't-”

Slate’s eyes close, and my heart stops.

“S...Slate?” I whisper, and Merrick frowns, looking at Sam and Spike.

Keegan glances up, then his eyes widen.

Slate’s hand drops from mine, and the tears that were standing now topple over my eyes and stream down my face.

“No….Slate, NO!” I shake his shoulder, crying, as Logan and Cameron meet each other’s eyes.

Keegan stares at Slate with wide eyes, hands still hovering over him.

“I….I couldn't…” He starts, then his voice just cuts out as a tear runs down his face.

He shuts his eyes tight, then he jumps up and runs away into the other room. Logan immediately follows him, and Merrick crouches next to me, with Spike on my other side.

“Cody, I’m sorry….” Spike comforts lightly as I just stare at my dead friend.

Slate. He's gone. Just like Match is.

Closing my eyes, my chest rises in a slow breath, then falls as I let out a deep sigh, the tightness in my ribs growing stronger.

“Slate…” I whisper, holding his hand tightly. My ribs feel like they're being broken, my chest is so tight.

Both of my best friends have been taken from me.

We were all a team for so long.

The Shadow Elite Squad.

For nine years we stuck together.

But in the past month, both of them have died before me.

Taking a deep breath, I stand up, wiping my tears away with my hand, my face looking like Keegan’s.

Blood streaked.

Walking over to the window, I stare out it solemnly.

I’m the last Shadow.

It's kind of fitting, actually.

Shadows follow in darkness, hidden by light.

My light has now been snuffed out.

And thus the Shadows disappear.

Chapter Text

Logan

As I run into the other room after Keegan, I wipe my bloody hands on my pants, leaving dark red stains.

Sweeping the room for him, my eyebrow raises. Where the hell did he go?

Then I hear a soft sound, sniffling and crying.

Turning around, I see a shadow in the corner on the other side of the weapons cache.

I slowly walk over, and I stop when I see Keegan sitting on the floor between the cabinet and the wall, hugging his knees and crying.

Sighing sadly, I crouch down in front of him, and reach my hand out, then hesitate.

“Keegan?” I say softly, and he slowly lifts his head.

His eyes are red, and more blood streaks mark his face from him rubbing away the tears.

Meeting my eyes, he stares at me for a moment, then puts his head back down to rest on his arms. His shoulders shake as he cries, and I scoot forward to hold his arm.

“Keegan, please.” I urge, and Keegan shakes his head, still pressed back against the wall.

“No.” He defies, and I sigh.

Grabbing his arm, I pull him towards me, away from his small alcove.

“Keegan, get up.” I tell him, dragging him out. He falls forward on the floor onto his hands and knees, then he sits back on his feet.

Staring at the ground, he sits motionless, and I sit next to him.

“Keegan-”

“Logan, just stop. Stop.” He murmurs. Shaking his head, another tear drips down his chin.

“...He's dead, Logan. I tried to save him, but I couldn't. Yet another one of my friends who died that I couldn't save. I failed your brother, Gavin died before I could help him, and Slate just died while I was trying to save his life.”

Keegan looks up at me disheartedly.

“Don't you get it?! Everyone I care about dies, Logan! EVERYONE!” He yells, and I lean back with wide eyes as Keegan wipes his tears away again, leaving another blood streak.

Staring at my best friend, my brother, I shake my head.

“Keegan, you didn't fail them. It wasn't your fault. It was always Davis. He's the one who killed them all. Gavin and Slate and David-”

My voice catches in my throat when I mention my brother, but I shake it away. Putting my arm around Keegan’s shoulder, I hold him close.

“Keegan, you need to understand. This is war. We can't always save everyone. I would know. I lost my dad and my brother. Hesh felt the same way you do. That it was his fault everyone died. But then he realised what I’m telling you now. He told me that you can't save every life. There's always going to be casualties, whether you're ready for it or not.” I teach, and Keegan sighs, his shoulders dropping.

His eyes are broken as he looks up at me, and I feel something inside of me crack.

I've seen Keegan hurt before, like when Kick was killed, or when Hesh was first hurt, or when he found Gavin, but this look now?

This fear?

I've never seen it before. He seems like a young boy, just being introduced to a frighteningly violent world.

Merrick told me that Keegan was the most resilient kid he had ever known.

That nothing could break him. But this right here, this man now seems shattered inside.

Keegan slumps against my shoulder as more tears run down his face.

A shadow crosses over us, and I glance up to see Merrick slowly walk in. He meets my eyes, glancing from Keegan back to me.

I shake my head with a sigh, holding Keegan tight.

Merrick crouches down next to us, and frowns.

“Keegan?” He puts his hand on Keegan’s shoulder gently, but Keegan shrugs his hand off.

Merrick sighs, and lifts Keegan’s head.

“Keegan, I know what you're thinking. But it wasn't your fault. It has never been your fault. Never. Where's that tough kid I knew back in the Marines? That seventeen year old boy who was the most determined man I had ever met?” He asks, and Keegan looks up with pained eyes.

Glancing from me to Merrick, he sighs.

“I just….I’m tired of the people I love getting hurt.” He mutters morosely, his voice scratchy and quiet.

Merrick nods.

“I know, Keegan. I know. But Logan and I aren't going anywhere. We'll stick with you till the end.” He affirms, and I smile as I hug Keegan.

“You're my brother, Keegan. Just like David. I care about you more than anything. I'll never leave you.” I comfort, and Keegan stops, then tightly wraps his arms around me.

Burying his face into my shoulder, he grasps at the fabric of my jacket.

Closing my eyes, I hold him close, leaning my head on his.

“It's okay, Keegan. It's okay.”


 

 

Ramon

As Trent grabs his gun, slings his backpack onto his shoulder, and turns to me, I shake my head.

“I don't think we should be leaving Davis like this.” I mutter, and Trent groans.

“Ramon, they know that we're the ones behind this. They're gonna be coming for us. Sam told them, and now we're screwed. Now grab your stuff, unless you want to be killed by the Ghosts.” He orders, and I take a deep breath, then sling my bag over my shoulder, picking up my gun.

I follow Trent outside, carefully avoiding detection in the area, as we're still near the base. He beckons me over to a truck, and I climb in next to him.

As he reaches down to start it, I stare at him.

“Where are we even going to go?” I ask curiously, and Trent sits back as the truck roars to life.

“We're going to the Feds. They can protect us.” He responds, and my eyes widen.

“We're going all the way back down to South America?” I say incredulously, and Trent sighs, then turns to me.

“No. We're headed to Carlsbad. There's a small Fed encampment there, and if the Ghosts choose to follow, which they will, they won't know what they're walking into until it's too late. We're gonna be okay, Ramon. Don't worry.” He says smugly, and I sit back with a sigh.

“Man, Davis is gonna kill us.” I grumble, and Trent shakes his head as we start to drive.

“No, because he’ll be dead before he would even get out of that building. Davis and I have a plan, Ramon. Now just listen to me and I'll get you through this.” He soothes, and I sigh. Then he glances at me slightly.

“And stop worrying like a little bitch.” He adds, and I frown.

He may be getting us out of here, leaving Davis and Ghosts, but he's certainly not leaving his shitty attitude behind.


 

 

Spike

“So what do we do?” I ask, sitting back in the couch.

Keegan spins around from cleaning his rifle, and raises his eyebrow with an angered look.

“What the hell do you mean, ‘what do we do?’ We go after Trent and Ramon. I WON'T LET THEM LIVE.” He steams, and I stare at him with wide eyes as Logan walks in.

“Keegan, I know that you want to get them for what they did, but-”

Keegan turns on Logan harshly, and Logan’s eyes widen when he meets his rough gaze.

“Logan, these bastards killed my best friend, the man who saved my life when I was seventeen, and they killed my brother. My very best friend in the world, then they almost killed my other brother, too. I’m done with this shit!” He yells, and Logan glances over to meet my wide eyes.

Keegan takes a deep breath, and turns back to his rifle.

“And exactly how do you plan to do this?” A voice says from across the room, and we all turn to see Merrick leaning against the door.

Keegan sighs, ignoring him.

Merrick frowns and walks over to him. He grabs Keegan’s shoulder, spinning him to face him.

“Keegan, I don't care how I have to do it, but I am going to knock some sense into your head. You can't just go storming off on a revenge warpath that could end with you getting killed!” He shouts, and Keegan pushes his hands away.

“JUST WATCH ME, THOMAS!” He yells, and my eyes widen, sitting up straight.

Merrick stares at Keegan with wide eyes, the same look coming from Logan.

Keegan’s fiery eyes tear into him.

“They killed Hesh, Merrick. They murdered him, and then they pretended to care as Logan and I sat next to him, holding his dead body, our hearts ripped out. They just watched us in our pain. Now I’m going to kill them slowly and painfully so they feel the same agony I feel right now!” Keegan growls murderously, and Logan’s eyes are wider than I’ve ever seen.

“Keegan…”

His voice is small and terrified.

I don't blame him.

The determined, loveable pain in the ass Keegan I knew is gone, and in his place, a cold-blooded soldier ready to murder the people who hurt him.

Merrick takes a deep breath, and shakes his head.

“Keegan-”

"SHUT UP FOR ONCE, THOMAS!!” Keegan screams, and Merrick steps back, wide eyed.

Logan gently puts his hand on Keegan’s shoulder with wide eyes.

“Keegan…” He starts quietly, but Keegan spins and shoves Logan to the ground.

“NO! JUST DON'T!” He yells viciously, and Logan’s eyes widen in fear, a tear hovering over the edge.

Keegan clenches his fists, and I slowly stand up.

“Keegan, you know how much we all care about you. We just don't want-”

Keegan looks up a me with devilish eyes.

“Spike, I’m done with it! I can't take it anymore!” He shouts, and behind him I see Cody walk over and slowly take his rifle.

Keegan stops, then spins around to see Cody.

His eyes widen.

“GIVE ME MY GUN BACK!” He yells, and Cody holds it away from him.

“No! Keegan, you're going nuts! All we're trying to do is help, and you're irrational, violent, and just plain stupid. You need to stop and think!” He tries, and Keegan closes his eyes, then takes a deep, slow breath.

Then his eyes shoot open, and suddenly his pistol is in his hand, aimed at Cody.

“Give. Me. My gun.” He orders, and we all stand silent.

Cody’s eyes are wide, and Merrick steps towards Keegan.

“Kid, just put the gun dow-”

Keegan, without even looking, kicks to the side into Merrick. He stumbles back, coughing, then looks up with scared eyes.

Keegan steadies the gun at Cody.

“Cody, I said give me my rifle!” He yells maliciously, and Cody shakes his head with wide eyes.

“What the hell is wrong with you….” He mutters, and Keegan grits his teeth.

He flicks off the safety, and my eyes widen.

I start towards him, then a blur tackles him to the ground, the gun falling from his hand.

I stand shocked as Logan pins Keegan down. He breathes heavily, looking down at his best friend.

“Keegan P. Russ, what is wrong with you?! We're your friends! We're trying to help! We all care about you! I care about you!!” He yells as tears run down his face.

Keegan struggles under him, then he meets Logan’s eyes.

He sees the tears streaming down Logan’s cheeks, and his eyes immediately soften as his body relaxes.

His enraged expression turns hurt, and he frowns sadly.

“Logan…..” He mutters quietly, and Logan takes a deep breath, still holding Keegan down.

“I’m your BROTHER, Keegan! I care about you more than anything. I CAN'T LOSE YOU TOO!” He cries distressfully, tears dripping from his chin.

Everyone stops, staring at Keegan and Logan.

Keegan looks up at Logan with wide eyes, then sighs, looking to the side.

“I...I’m sorry.” He voices quietly.

Logan looks down at him with wide eyes.

Keegan takes a deep breath.

“You're right, Logan. I can't lose you either.” He says sadly, and I take a deep breath, then walk over.

Crouching down next to them, I look down at Keegan.

“Listen. I KNOW you're upset about Hesh and Slate and Gavin. I am too. Gavin was a brother to me. My very best friend. But you can't just go out on a suicide mission to find Trent and Ramon. There are other ways to find them. We can ask Davis.” I say calmly, and Keegan looks from me to Merrick, to Cody, to Logan, then back to me.

“You're right.” He mutters, then glances up at Logan.

“Can you let me up now?” He asks, and Cody crosses his arms.

“Can you not point a gun in my face?” He remarks, and Merrick meets him with a scolding glance.

Keegan sighs, then nods.

“Yes. Sorry.” He apologises, and Logan sits back, then stands up.

He offers Keegan his hand, and Keegan grabs his wrist, Logan pulling him to his feet.

Keegan immediately hugs Logan, and shakes his head.

“I’m sorry.” He murmurs as Logan hugs him back.

He then looks up at me.

“So we ask Davis where Trent and Ramon are?” He asks, and I nod.

“Yeah. Then we get those bastards who took our friends from us.” I confirm. Merrick crosses his arms.

“Let's go down there now, then.” He says.

Keegan nods, then Cameron suddenly runs in.

His eyes are wide, and Logan stares at him.

“Cam, what is it?” He asks, concerned.

Cameron shakes his head.

“We have a problem."

Chapter Text

Keegan

I raise my eyebrow in concern.

“What?” I ask cautiously, and Cameron takes a deep breath.

“Come with me.” He says quickly.

Feeling a weight in my chest, I follow him down the hall, with Logan and Merrick right behind me, followed by Cody and Spike.

Cameron leads us down towards where Davis was being held, and I can see Sam standing outside the door, leaning against the wall, shaking his head.

Running past Cameron, I reach Sam and meet his eyes.

“Sam, what is it?” I question him, and he sighs, looks up at me, then nods towards the room.

I raise my eyebrow, and slowly push open the door.

My eyes widen when I see the man lying on the floor, dead.

Merrick looks over my shoulder, and his eyes widen.

“What the hell happened?” He asks as I crouch down next to Davis.

His eyes are wide, and blood drips from his mouth, as well as a foam around his lips, as if he had had a seizure. His skin is pale, and I sigh.

Sam shakes his head.

“I heard a sound in the room when I was standing outside the door, and when I opened the door, I saw Davis on the floor, convulsing and foaming at the mouth. He was dead in seconds.” He sighs, and I frown, looking back down at him.

A small object on the floor next to him catches my eye, and I reach to pick it up. Holding it up to see, my eyes widen.

“Merrick….” I say, and he walks over.

“Look at this.” I say, holding it up. Logan’s curiosity intensifies, and he looks over Merrick’s shoulder.

“What is that?” He asks, and I shake my head with a frown.

“It's a pill capsule. Davis must've taken it. Filled with poison, no doubt. He knew that Trent and Ramon would run, and that we'd use him to find them. He killed himself so we couldn't get any information.” I say through gritted teeth.

Taking a deep breath, I shake my head, then whip the capsule across the room, flicking against the wall.

“GODDAMMIT!” I yell, and Spike walks over to put his hand on my shoulder.

“Keegan, we'll figure this out.” He says calmly, and I spin around, bolting to my feet.

“HOW?! Our one shot at finding them is now dead on the frickin floor, and the trail to them is long cold. What the hell do we do now?!” I shout, and Merrick stands up next to me, then holds me still.

“Keegan, cool it. We'll find another way. There's always another way. We all want to figure this out. So keep a cool head, for both your sake and ours.” He reprimands, and I sigh, then close my eyes.

Pulling away from his hold, I take a deep breath, then stomp back to the main room.

Picking up my gun again, I check the mag, then look through the scope to see that it's clear and stable. Finding it sufficient, I set it back down on the table, and close my eyes.

 

“Keep yourself safe, kid. I don't want to have to patch you up again.”

 

Slate’s voice echoes in my head, and I sigh.

He saved me when I was a kid.

But I couldn't save him.

Turning away, I walk down the hall, away from the Ghosts as they start to trickle into the room.

Closing the door to my bunk behind me, I sit down on the edge of the bed.

Leaning my elbows on my knees, I put my head in my hands.

 

“They’ll see who you are soon enough, Keegan. And they’ll understand how special you are.”

 

My mind travels back to Gavin talking to me in training in the Marines.

He was always so supportive.

Always.

An older brother to me.

Caring and protective.

I sigh, and clench my fists.

 

“Come on, Keegan, just hang on!”

 

“I was scared I'd lost you.”

 

I take my head from my hands, and look up with tears in my eyes.

Hesh…..

He always cared.

He was always a friend, a brother, the best soldier I'd ever seen.

When I was hurt, he was broken because of it, but he still retained his strength to pull through.

When he was in that cell, and I was watching him, I could still see my best friend through that cracked outer shell.

He was my brother.

The brother I never had.

 

“I'll never forget you, Keegan.”

 

The last words he ever said to me.

Tears run down my face as I hear them over and over.

Everytime I close my eyes, I see David’s face.

Smiling, determined, and caring.

My best friend.

Then suddenly he's in front of me, covered in blood, dead in my arms.

I can't get that image out of my head.

Hesh was the one person who I could really understand, and cared about the most. He and Logan were the closest thing I had to a family.

I found my best friend and his little brother on the battlefield, and the people who killed him were standing right next to me.

Gritting my teeth, I stand up and walk over to the door, lifting the latch to open it. Making my way down the hall to the Ghosts again, I stop in the doorway, and take a deep breath.

Stepping in, Logan looks up at me, and smiles slightly.

“Keegan. You okay?” He asks, and I nod slightly, even though it's not entirely true.

“Yeah.” I look around the room at my friends.

“Any ideas on how to find Trent and Ramon?” I ask, and Cameron and Sam exchange a glance.

“We might have an idea.” Cam says, and I cross my arms as I walk over next to Logan.

“What?” I ask, and Sam shrugs slightly.

“Well, all of our radios have always been on the same frequency, as well as our scanners. We could trace the ping, and get a hint of their location.” He suggests, and I grin.

“Okay. That'll work.” I say optimistically, but Cameron bites his lip nervously. My smile immediately disappears, and I frown.

“What is it?” I ask, and Cameron hesitates.

“There's a couple potential problems. They could have changed the frequency of their radios and scanners, and another…..” He stops, and I uncross my arms to look him in the eyes.

“Cameron, what?” I demand. Cam sighs.

“They could be headed to a Federation base. Getting reinforcements. There's only seven of us left. We can't exactly face off an entire base.” He delivers, and I look around the room to see discouraged faces from everyone.

I frown, then clench my fist.

“So what?” I voice determinedly, and everyone looks up at me.

“There's only seven of us, sure. But four of us were the original Marines who, at only fourteen in numbers, defeated a force of 250 Federation soldiers. We can do this. I know we can. We don't give up. We never have before! Why should we now, when we're so close?!” I encourage strongly, and Logan grins.

“I agree with Keegan. We can win this!”

Merrick nods, crossing his arms. He meets my eyes with a smirk.

“If there's one person stubborn enough to get us through this, it would be Keegan.” he retorts, and Cody and Spike both let out a heavy breath, shaking their heads.

“Man, you got that right.” Cody remarks, and Spike nods.

“Damn straight.” He mutters, and I glare at them, but I know they mean it in the best way.

Sam laughs, and meets my gaze.

“So, I suppose you'll be leading us into battle?” He questions, and I cross my arms with a smirk.

“Into the mouth of Hell itself.”


 

 

2 hours later

 

Merrick

I stand at the console, staring at the screens, trying to ignore the large stain of blood on the floor.

We're going to find the bastards that did this, but I know that there are going to be consequences.

Rubbing my face with my hands, I look back up at the screens. Searching for any view on a possible base, I switch to the drone. The camera fizzles in, and I stare at the picture. It flies high above the ground, and surveys the surrounding area.

Trent and Ramon couldn't have gone far. We just need to figure out where they went.

I groan as the camera rotates around. We don't even know which direction they went in.

I close my eyes with a deep sigh, and lean back against the table.

“Thomas?”

I turn to see Keegan standing in the door, and he meets my tired eyes.

“What are you doing?” He asks as he walks in, and I notice he flinches as he walks past the blood stain. Reaching the console, he eyes the screen.

“The drone pick anything up?” He asks, crossing his arms. I shake my head, scratching the back of my head.

“No. We still have absolutely no idea where they went.” I mutter, and Keegan glances over at me, then raises his eyebrow.

He uncrosses his arms, and stares at me.

“There's something else you're thinking about. What is it?” He asks, and I frown, then look up at him.

“Don't you see the pattern? All the Ghosts are getting murdered in front of all of us!” I distress, and Keegan nods with a frown.

“Yeah, I think we all noticed what’s happening, Merrick.” He says coldly, and I bite my lip.

“But there's something else.” I say, and Keegan raises his eyebrow.

“What?” He asks hesitantly.

Taking a deep breath, I meet his curious eyes.

“They're targeting everyone except me, you and Logan.” I divulge, and Keegan stops, and then he shakes his head.

“So?”

My eyes widen.

“Keegan, they're taking them all out so that we suffer! Then they'll take the three of us out last!” I stress, and Keegan crosses his arms.

“So what do you suggest we do about this? We have no idea who they're going to go after next, or how, or where, or who might attack. It might be someone else than Trent or Ramon. We have nothing, Thomas. We're completely in the dark.” Keegan mutters, and I sigh.

“I know. That's why I’m here, trying to figure out where they are.” I explain, and Keegan sighs. He looks up at the scanners, then he raises his eyebrow.

“Hang on a second…” He murmurs, and I spin to look.

He points at the top left, and I examine the screen.

“What's that?” I ask, and Keegan zooms in. His eyes widen.

“Is that….a Federation flag?” He questions slowly, and I frown.

“What the hell? Where did that come from?” I wonder, and Keegan stands up straight.

“And how did it get so close to the base?!” He turns and runs from the room, and I spin around after him.

“Keegan, wait!” I yell after him, but he doesn't slow down. I start down the hall too, shaking my head in frustration.

“RUSS!” I yell again, then I hear a thud, and as I turn the corner, I see Spike standing in the middle of the hallway, arms crossed, Keegan lying on the floor, stunned.

Slowing to a walk, I raise my eyebrow, staring down at Keegan. Then I look up at Spike, who meets my eyes.

“Did you hear me yelling, or did Keegan just happen to run into you?” I ask Spike, and he smirks.

“I heard you yell his name, and I heard him running down the hall, so I stopped him.” He says.

Keegan groans, and narrows his eyes at Spike.

“I hate you…” He grumbles, then coughs, getting his wind back.

Spike smirks, snickering.

Keegan groans as he stands up, and Spike meets his eyes.

“Where were you going, anyway?” He asks, and I step forward.

“We were looking at the screens, and then we saw a Federation Flag appear on the Northwest hill. No idea where it came from, or how it got that close.” I explain, and Spike frowns, rubbing his chin.

“Huh. Well, I assume you want to check it out, Keegan?” He asks, and Keegan sighs.

“That's why I was running! But then you just slammed into me!” He shouts at Spike, who crosses his arms.

"Technically, you slammed into me." He states, and Keegan's eyes flare with annoyance, and I smirk.

“Let's go.” I say, and Keegan shakes his head.

“No. Not yet. Wait a minute.” He says, then he runs down the hall, and I glance over at Spike with confusion.

“What is he doing?” I ask, and Spike shrugs.

“He's been different lately. I don't really know. Besides, you've known him longer than I have. You tell me.”

I stare at him with an annoyed gaze.

“By eight months, Spike! And he was on your team for two years, and you've always said he was like a little brother! You should know him better!” I retort, and Spike crosses his arms.

“But then he was with you for eight years.” He replies, and I groan.

Spike frowns, then glances down the hall towards where Keegan went.

“I guess he's a complicated kid.” He shrugs, and I roll my eyes.

“You think?!”

Then I hear footsteps running down the hall, and Keegan comes running back with Logan behind him, and his guns in his holsters, Logan carrying his FAD.

Keegan slows to a stop in front of me, and shakes his head.

“You can never be too careful.” He says straightly, and I sigh.

Logan meets my eyes.

“Come on. Let's go.” He says, and we all run to the entrance, sliding the door open.

Stepping outside, a strong brisk wind blows against all of us, and I take a deep breath.

Keegan stares straight ahead, and I can see the black and red coloring of the flag. He and Logan start to run towards it, and I start to tell them to wait, but shake my head.

They wouldn't listen anyway. Meeting Spike’s gaze, we follow them slowly.

As we get closer, I can see them both crouched next to the flag, the pole stuck in the ground.

Keegan is holding something, and I raise my eyebrow. I walk over, and try to look over his shoulder.

“Keegan, what is that?” I ask, and Logan looks up at me.

“I think we might have a lead.” he voices, and my eyes light up.

“What?”

Keegan turns and holds a Federation radio up.

“This was on the ground next to the flag.”

He turns and points to the left of the flag.

“And there are faint tire marks going that way, towards Carlsbad.”

His shoulders drop with a sigh.

“Now, I don't know if the Federation is just getting stupid and careless, or they're leading us into a trap. My money's on the latter.”

He frowns.

“But even if it is a trap, I’m gonna kill every single one of those bastards who took my best friends away from me.” He growls, and I put my hand on his shoulder.

“Keegan, I know. We all want to get justice. But if it is a trap, then we have to be careful. We don't know what they could have planned.”

Logan stands up, and offers Keegan his hand. Keegan takes it, and Logan hoists him to his feet.

“Come on. Trap or not, let's get ready for whatever lies ahead.” He says strongly, and Keegan nods.

“Let's go tell the others, and then we'll get ready.”

They start to walk back inside, and I stand next to Spike for a moment.

He glances over at me.

“Do you think this is a trap?” He asks, and I tilt my head to look at him.

“Of course it is. But Keegan and Logan are going no matter what, which means we are, too.” I chuckle, and Spike nods.

“Yeah. Someone has to keep Keegan from making a mess of things.” I laugh and nod as we walk back inside.

“Isn't that the truth.”

Chapter Text

Logan

As we drive down the road in the truck towards Carlsbad, I sweep around from the standing watch in the back. I know we're nearing the Federation base.

Part of how I know is I have this ominous feeling.

The other part is how crazy fast Keegan is driving.

He's so determined to take down the Federation, and he hurried us to get our gear together so we could get after Trent and Ramon.

An hour ago, we all jumped in the truck, and now we're speeding down the road, following the tire tracks that we discovered near the flag.

Leaning forward, I tap Cameron, who sits in the back seat with Sam and Cody, on the shoulder. He turns around slightly to look up at me.

“What is it, Logan?” He asks, and I sigh.

“I know we're walking into a trap, but I just feel like this is gonna end badly.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I see Spike tense up, and I raise my eyebrow.

“Spike, what is it?” I ask, and Spike takes a deep breath, then turns around over the seat.

“It's just…..that's exactly what Slate said when we went to take out Rorke. That he had this bad feeling, and that it wouldn't end well.” He reveals, and I stop, then move my gaze to Keegan.

His eyes are still trained directly on the road ahead with determination.

Looking back at Cameron, Spike shakes his head.

“We all protect each other, Logan. Always.” He comforts, and I sigh, then stand back up.

Flicking the binoculars on my helmet down, I swing my gaze around.

Then my eye catches something, and I turn the dial on the side.

Straight ahead I can see a small cluster of buildings, and my eyes widen when I see the Federation flag flying above it.

“KEEGAN, STOP!” I shout, and the truck screeches to a stop, and I slam against the side.

Groaning, I lift up the binoculars. Everyone turns to look at me, and Keegan raises his eyebrow.

“What?”

I point towards the buildings.

“There's your base, right there,” I say, pointing straight ahead.

“It's pretty small, but I wouldn't take any chances,” I suggest, and Keegan nods.

“You're right. From here, we move on foot.” He orders, and we all jump out of the truck.

Holding my Honey Badger at the ready, I follow at Keegan’s side as we lead the group towards the buildings. His sniper rifle is slung over his shoulder, and his hands are tight around his Remington R5.

We sneak through the trees, hidden by the shadows.

Approaching the base, I look up to see a soldier walking along the roof, watching. My hand flies to the side, holding everyone back.

“Guard on the roof. Stay low.” I say, and Keegan shakes his head.

“We don't have time for this.”

Slinging his rifle from his back, he screws the silencer to the end.

I shake my head.

“Keegan, don't-”

“Shut up, Logan, and keep your head down.” He growls, and I frown.

Raising his rifle, he puts his eye to the scope, then a second later, he pulls the trigger. The silencer completely decimates the noise, and the guard falls dead on the roof.

Keegan smirks and slings his rifle back over his shoulder.

“There. Now we can just get to the door.” He mutters with success, and Merrick shakes his head.

“Keegan, I’m starting to question your methods of infiltration.”

Keegan glares at him over his shoulder as Spike stifles a laugh.

“Come on,” Keegan grumbles, and I follow directly behind him as we all run to the side of the building, pressing ourselves up against the wall.

Cameron and Cody cover us at the back, stacking up last.

I meet Keegan’s eye, and he nods. Turning his head, he reaches for the door handle and turns it slightly.

“It's unlocked. On me.” He says, and I raise my gun.

“GO.”

He kicks open the door, and we all run in, weapons trained in front of us.

I almost run into Keegan as he stops, and I look around. Sam raises his eyebrow.

“Uh, there's no one here.” He says, and Merrick shakes his head.

“Don't let that fool you.” He mutters. Sam frowns.

"But if they're not here, then where are they?" He asks, and Merrick shrugs.

"I don't know. They're probably-"

Keegan whips his head around to them.

“Will you two shut up?!” He hisses, then a sound at the end of the hallway presses us all against the wall into the dark shadows.

“What are you doing?” A voice asks, and I raise my eyebrow.

“I thought I heard something….” Another voice mutters, and it sounds slightly familiar.

Then the other lets out a sigh.

“You're so paranoid, Ramon. Let's get back. Trent wants to talk to you.” The first voice says, and my eyes widen.

I see Keegan’s grip around his gun tighten, and his eyes narrow.

“Ramon and Trent. They're here.” He says through gritted teeth. Turning to look at me, he motions down the hall with his head.

“Let's move.” He says, and we start to slowly creep down the hall. As we move, Spike looks around.

“You know, Keegan, I hope you're well aware we're walking into a trap.” He remarks, and Keegan groans.

“I’m not stupid, Spike. Of course, I know that. But the fact that we know it's a trap doesn't exactly make it a trap, now does it?” He retorts, and Cameron raises his eyebrow in confusion.

“Wait, what?”

Keegan shakes his head.

“Never mind. Let's just speed things up.”

He starts to jog, and I run to catch up with him. Sticking close to his side, I frown.

“Keegan, we do have to be careful. We can't afford to lose anybody.” I mention, and Keegan clenches his jaw and narrows his eyes.

“We're not going to lose anyone. I'll make sure of that.” He determines, and I feel a hint of fright starting to well in me.

I know Keegan is determined to keep us all safe and not lose anyone.

But what if we do?


 

 

After finding our way through what seems like endless hallways, I see a large bolted door up ahead.

Keegan nods towards it.

“That's where they are. The central area.” He confirms, and we all run up to the door.

Putting my hand up against the door, I shake my head.

“There's no way we can shoot through this.” I sigh, and Cody steps forward.

“Move,” he says, then he turns to Sam.

“Did you bring the charges?” he asks, and Sam nods with a smirk.

“Just like you said.”

Cody nods.

“Good. Give them here,” he orders, and as Sam hands them to him, he sticks them around the edge of the door.

He presses a button on his comlink, and a green light flicks on each of them. He turns to all of us.

“We might want to step back a little.” He suggests, and we all move back about fifteen feet. Cody presses the button on his comlink again, and the lights turn red, then a deafening explosion blows the door off its hinges, and Cody smirks.

Keegan grabs his gun and readies it.

“Let's go!” He shouts. We run into the now smoke-filled room, finding the lights off and the area deserted.

I raise my eyebrow.

“Are you sure they would be here?” I ask, and Keegan nods slowly.

“This is the only area left they could be…” He mutters, and we all meet nervous eyes.

“So where is everyone?” Merrick asks, and Cameron shakes his head.

“I don't like this….” He says quietly, then the LED lights suddenly flick on, blinding us momentarily.

The training of guns is all I hear as I look around, and as the smoke from the door exploding clears away, my eyes widen.

I elbow Keegan, who still rubs his eyes from the light.

“Keegan…” I mutter quietly, and he looks up, then his eyes widen.

From a second level walkway, Trent stares down at us with a devious smile, Ramon next to him. Sixty soldiers surround us, and Merrick, Cody, Spike, Cam, and Sam all tense up.

Trent laughs, his gaze locked on Keegan and me.

“Man, you two just don't quit.”

His gaze moves slightly to just Keegan.

“Keegan P. Russ, I've heard a lot about you. Looks like your rash actions are going to get your team killed. Again.” He smirks, and Keegan’s eyes widen.

I raise my eyebrow.

“Wait, what do you mean, ‘again’?” I question, and Keegan glances over at me slightly.

“Logan…”

Trent smiles and leans against the railing of the walk.

“Oh! None of you know?!” He asks gleefully, and Merrick raises his eyebrow.

“Know what?” He says harshly, and Trent laughs.

“This is rich. You never told them?!” He shouts at Keegan, who closes his eyes tightly, his grip on his gun tightening.

I glare up at Trent.

“Never told us what ?!” I yell, and Trent grins.

“What really happened to his team.”


 

 

My eyes widen, and I look to my side at Keegan.

“Keegan…?” I ask quietly, but his head is still down, eyes averted. Spike shakes his head.

“YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED!” He yells, and Trent leans forward.

“Oh, don't I?!”

He spins to look down at Keegan again.

“Keegan was twenty years old when it happened. He and his team, The Hawks. Thrash, Heath, Bolt, Gavin, Spike, and him. The Hawks were up in the Andes, trying to find the Federation base. They managed to get in, but right as they did, Gavin, Spike, and Keegan were separated after the Federation soldiers attacked. He got them out of there. But then when those three couldn't find the rest of their team, Keegan went back in. But what Spike and Gavin didn't know was that Keegan was the reason that the other three were killed.” Trent voices and Spike snaps his head over to Keegan.

“Keegan, what is he talking about?” He asks fearfully, but Keegan just turns away, biting his lip.

My eyes are wide, then they swing back up to Trent.

He leans forward on the railing, resting his forearms on it.

“When Keegan found them, they hadn't been captured yet. But his running through the base carelessly, frantically trying to find his friends, it drew the soldiers right to them. With nowhere to go, they were trapped. Done for. Keegan tried to save them but was shot in the process. He was shot first, not shot when running away. Heath was the first to be killed. Keegan watched as his commander Thrash was then shot, and then Bolt. Keegan blew up. He killed the soldiers around him out of pure rage, then somehow managed to get Bolt out of that building alive right when the bomb went off. The bomb that he had placed.”

Spike glares at Trent with angered eyes.

“How the hell do you know this? And Keegan wasn't the one who laid the charges! Thrash was! He set the base to blow! And Keegan got there after they had been executed! He saved Bolt!” He yells, and Trent shakes his head.

“Believe what you want. I’m just finally telling you the truth that Keegan hid from you all these years.” He explains nonchalantly.

Merrick, Cody, and Spike all train their gaze on Keegan, and my eyes are glued to him.

Spike steps closer and puts his hand on Keegan’s shoulder.

“Keegan, I know you, and I know that can't be what happened.” He pleads.

Trent chuckles.

“Keegan, it's time to fess up.” He taunts, and Keegan takes a deep breath, then slowly raises his head to look at all of us.

His eyes are red and scared, and I feel my heart stop when I see the guilt in them.

He opens his mouth to say something, then bites his lip.

He meets Spike’s eye.

“He's...He's right, Spike. I…..it was my fault.” He admits quietly, and Spike steps back a little, eyes wide.

“W..what?” He utters, and Merrick meets Keegan’s eyes.

“Keegan, you can't be serious.” He denies, and Keegan shakes his head, then takes a deep breath.

“I am, Merrick. I went back in to find them, and I was so determined that all sense left me, and I just ran through, not even paying attention to the soldiers who had started following me. When I found Thrash, Heath, and Bolt, they were relieved to see I was okay, but then we were surrounded. Thrash knew that I had led them there, but he knew I didn't do it on purpose. So when he started to stand up to protect all of us, and the soldiers raised their guns, I wouldn't let him get hurt because of my mistake. I took the bullet for him. But then they shot Heath right behind me, and then Thrash. Bolt was next, and when I saw my three friends lying there, something in me snapped. I just killed all those soldiers without a second thought, only taking one bullet out of all of it. Then, when they were all dead, I found that Bolt was still alive. I dragged him out as the bomb went off, slicing us both. That's when Gavin and Spike found me.” Keegan says with regret masked in his voice.

Spike stares at him with wide eyes.

I shake my head.

“But...the bomb…”

Keegan sighs and turns to me.

I put the bomb down when I ran back in! I was going to trigger it when we all got out, but when I was carrying Bolt out, the remote fell from my hand and detonated while we were still in the building. It's my fault that our team was killed that day. My fault, and my fault alone.” He says grimly, and I stare at him with wide eyes.

We all look in shock at our friend, who hangs his head.

Trent laughs from up on the walk.

“Not quite the boy you thought, is he? His actions got his team murdered. Now they did again.” He taunts, and Keegan’s eyes widen as his head snaps up.

“Wait, what?!” He shouts, then a shout behind us makes us turn.

Ramon holds Sam in a headlock, a gun pressed into his side. Another soldier holds Cameron, a knife in his hand.

Merrick’s eyes widen, and he turns back to Trent.

“Let them go!” He yells, and Trent shrugs.

“Why? They're my men, not yours.” He defies, but Cody shakes his head.

“NO, they were HESH’S soldiers. Just as you, Ramon, and Davis were! You killed your own commander, but there is someone else who they were under!” He shouts, and Trent raises his eyebrow.

“Oh, really?” He asks sarcastically, and Cody nods.

“LOGAN.” He points at me, and I raise my eyebrow.

“Wait, what?”

Merrick turns to me.

“He's right. You and Hesh were both Sergeants for Viking. Davis and these men worked under both of you.”

I nod and look up at Trent with a glare.

“You, Davis, and Ramon killed my brother. MY BEST FRIEND. Then Gavin and Slate. I swear, whatever it takes, I will bring you down, you son of a bitch.” I growl, and Trent smiles, then looks over my shoulder.

“Ramon.” He nods, and I spin just in time to hear a gunshot and Sam's scream.

My eyes widen as I watch Ramon drop Sam to the floor, blood soaking his shirt from the hole in his side.

“NO!!” I shout, and Cameron stares with wide eyes.

“Sam…” He murmurs, and I grit my teeth, then spin to raise my gun at Trent.

I swear to God, I WILL kill you!” I yell, and Trent smirks, then snaps his fingers.

The sixty soldiers around us all ready their guns on us, and I back up against Merrick.

“What do we do?” I whisper to him, and he frowns.

“I don't know. Does Keegan have a plan?” He asks, and I glance over to my best friend to find him collapsed on the floor, leaning against his gun, head down.

I run over to him.

“Keegan, we have to get out of here!” I hiss with urgency, shaking his shoulder.

Keegan doesn't move, then he shakes his head.

"Logan, it's my fault my team was killed then. Now it's my fault again that you're in danger. Get out of here. Now. Leave me." He says dejectedly.

My eyes widen, and I take a deep breath.

"Keegan, there is NO WAY IN HELL that I am leaving you! You need to let it go! Yes, your team was killed, but you can't let that drag you to your death! Please! I can't lose my brother again!! GET UP!" I yell.

Keegan snaps his head up at the mention of our brother. He looks up at me with sad eyes, then stands up, narrowing his eyes at Trent.

“You killed Sam, you asswipe.” he growls, and Trent crosses his arms.

“Technically, Ramon killed him.” He says, and Keegan’s eyes flare.

“YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN, TRENT! YOU'RE A MURDERER! YOU MURDERED MY BROTHER, MY BEST FRIEND, AND THE MAN I OWED MY LIFE!!” He screams, and Trent looks down at the soldiers, then back up at us.

“Do you really want to piss me off right now, Russ?” He questions roughly, and Keegan raises his gun.

“YES.”

He fires his gun into the soldiers, dropping three of them.

My eyes widen.

“NO, WAIT!!!” I yell, realising that we'll be torn apart.

Merrick shakes his head as Cody starts to shoot, as well as Spike.

“It's too late!”

The Federation opens fire, and the tension in the air crushes down on us.

Starting to fire, I drop a few soldiers, and I glance over at my friends.

Cody already has a shot in his shoulder, and Spike’s lower leg stains his pants red. I spin to Merrick, who has a gash on the side of his head created from a bullet graze, dripping blood down his neck.

I shake my head, then look up at Trent, who smiles with a flick of his eyebrows.

I narrow my eyes, and start towards him, shooting my way through the soldiers.

I get about twenty feet, then a bullet tears into my arm, then another in my side. I cry out in pain, and fall to one knee.

Keegan looks up, and his eyes widen.

“LOGAN!” He screeches, and his head swivels around. I can see the defeat in his eyes, and he catches my gaze.

Running over to me, he picks me up to stand. He looks over at Merrick.

“WE CAN'T WIN THIS!” He says, and Merrick nods. He looks at Cody and Spike, who have grabbed Cameron away from the soldier.

Cameron picks up his gun, and glares at Ramon, who steps back a little. He narrows his eyes, then pulls the trigger, plugging Ramon with seven shots.

Trent's eyes widen, gripping the rail tightly.

"RAMON!!" He exclaims, then his eyes burn with hate as he glares at us. I spin around, then grab Keegan's arm.

"We have to go. Now." I emphasize, and he nods.

Cameron runs to pick up Sam, then turns to us.

“What do we do?!” He yells, and I look up at Trent, then around at us, then down at myself, flinching at the blood that now stains my shirt.

“We get out of here!” I shout, and Merrick nods. Spike runs over to me, and grabs my shoulder.

“Logan, here, I'll help-”

“I DON'T NEED HELP! LET'S JUST GET OUT OF HERE!” I yell, and we all run towards the door, firing behind us. Keegan fires from behind me, and I flinch as another shot grazes my head just above my hairline.

Running through the door and out into the hallway, the shooting continues. Merrick shakes his head just as I’m about to turn.

“Don't bother shooting back! Just get out of here!” He yells, and we all run through the maze of hallways until we reach the door.

Cody slams it open, and we all sprint for the trees. Reaching the safety of the bushes, we collapse, breathing hard.

Merrick looks up.

“Everyone okay?” He gasps through heavy breath.

Cody nods, holding his shoulder.

“Not too badly shot. It'll heal fine.” He says.

Spike sits on the ground, wrapping his leg with a bandage.

“I’m fine. Shallow shot.”

Cameron holds Sam in his arms, and looks up. He hesitates, then nods.

“I’m okay. No shots.” He says, his voice small and quiet.

I meet Merrick’s eyes.

“You?” I ask, and he puts a hand to his head, shrugging.

“It's nothing. Neither is this.” He says, motioning to a small blood stain on his arm I hadn't seen before.

Cody looks up at me.

“What about you, Logan? You took a few bad shots.” He says, looking me up and down.

I feel the blood dripping down the side of my head, but it's not bad. I glance at my arm, and the trickle of red flowing from it, then down to my side, and the blood soaked shirt that sticks to me.

The shot in my side is serious. It's deep and badly bleeding.

But I shake my head.

I flinch, then look up.

“I'll be fine.” I say with strength, and Cody smirks.

“You're one fearless kid. Just like keegan.” He says, and I grin.

Spike looks around, and his eyes widen.

“Where's Keegan?” He says quickly, and I spin around to look for my friend, but I find him nowhere in sight.

No trace of him.

My heartbeat quickens, and I feel dread welling in my chest.

“No….not him, too….”

Chapter Text

Three Minutes Earlier

 

Keegan

“We need to go! Move!” I yell, firing behind us as my team runs towards the door to the hallway.

Merrick pulls Logan through, followed by Cameron carrying Sam, then Cody and Spike. I turn away from the Federation, shooting blindly behind me, then a pair of arms grabs me and pulls me back, the door slamming shut in front of me, closed by a soldier.

I struggle in the tight hold, and a chuckle makes me grit my teeth.

“Now, you didn't think that we'd let you go, did you, Russ?” Trent asks, and I frown.

“Let me go!” I yell, kicking back at him, but even when my foot connects with his leg, he doesn't flinch.

He drags me up the stairs, and into the room at the top. Throwing me to the ground, I glare at him as he crosses his arms.

“You exposed my secret, you almost destroyed my team, you killed Sam, what more do you want?!” I yell, and Trent smiles smugly.

“You, Russ. I want you.”

He looks over my shoulder, then back down at me.

“More specifically, he wants you,” Trent says, and I raise my eyebrow, then I’m lifted off the floor by the back of my shirt, and spun around to face them.

My eyes widen, and my breath stops as I stare into the dark brown eyes I know from years ago.

“...Thrash…?”


 

I stare with wide eyes at my Captain. His buzzed brown hair shapes his sharp-cut face, a small scar along his jawline, caused from one of our missions.

Trying to find breath, I shake my head.

“Thrash….I...you were….you…” I stutter, and Thrash frowns, then pushes me down in a chair, raising his eyebrow.

“Russ, I taught you better than to lead your men into a trap.” He degrades, and I narrow my eyes.

“I got them out, didn't I?” I retort, then my eyes soften.

“Thrash, how….what happened to you? How are you even alive?!” I ask, and Thrash takes a deep breath, then crouches down in front of me.

“Keegan, you may think you can save everyone, but you can't. You didn't save Heath. Or Bolt. Or me.” He smirks, and I feel my chest tighten.

Thrash meets my eyes.

“After you killed all the soldiers, you thought Bolt was the only one alive. Well, I was still alive, too. Obviously. The Feds found me, but instead of killing me, they helped me. Fixed me up. Then they kept me locked up in a cell for months, torturing me, giving me poison. Breaking me down. But unlike the others that they turned, like Rorke and Logan, I retained all my memories and connections. But now, I see things differently. Like you, for instance.” He says, and my eyes widen.

I scoot back a little bit as his harsh eyes bore into me.

“What?” My voice shakes, and Thrash sighs.

“You, Keegan Russ. You. The youngest Marine ever, the youngest Ghost, and the strongest and most determined kid I've ever seen. I mean, look where you are now.” He says, and I bite my lip, staring up at him.

“What does that have to do with anything?” I ask nervously, and Thrash meets my eyes.

“It means that the Ghosts care about you. We all did. So Cody and Merrick and Spike will come for you. But the most worried will be Logan. You're basically his David now. He cares about you more than anything. So the more we hurt you, the more he hurts.” Thrash says, and my eyes widen.

He...he wouldn't…

I shake my head.

“Thrash, you can't hurt me. I was your soldier! I was your Hawk! WE ALL STUCK TOGETHER!! ALWAYS-”

“Except when you left me for dead in that Federation base.” Thrash spits, and my eyes widen.

“I DIDN'T KNOW YOU WERE STILL ALIVE!!” I shout, and Thrash picks me up by my shirt and slams me against the wall.

“You didn't even CHECK to see if Heath and I were still alive! Heath, I can understand. Executed, shot through the head. But me, no. You just left with Bolt. You left a Marine behind, Corporal.” He growls, then he brings his fist up to punch me in the gut.

I gasp for air, coughing.

“I….I didn't know….I should have…” I groan, and Thrash shakes his head.

“It's too late for that, Russ.” He punches me in the nose, and blood immediately gushes from it, dripping down over my lips.

Thrash drags me across the room, then forces me into the chair. Trent ties my hands behind my back, then meets Thrash’s eyes.

“What do we do with him?” He asks with a devious grin.

A fear starts to rise in my chest, and Thrash crosses his arms.

“We put him through hell.”

My eyes widen, and I struggle against the ropes.

“Thrash, WAIT! What did I do?! Why are you doing this to me?!” I yell, and Thrash raises his eyebrow.

“Because you were the reason so many of our missions went astray. Your impulsiveness almost got us all killed on multiple occasions, and then your rash decision to come back for us in that base when we could have gotten out fine got both Heath and Bolt killed. You screwed the Hawks over, Keegan.” He reveals, and my eyes widen.

“I...I never meant to!” I defend, and Thrash punches me again.

More blood drips from my nose, and a trickle runs from my mouth. He hits me hard with the back of his hand, and my head jerks to the side. I feel a wet stream down the side of my head, and I take a breath, then lift my head to look forward again.

Narrowing my eyes, I grit my teeth.

“You won't get the rest of the Ghosts. I won't let you.” I growl, and Thrash meets Trent’s eyes, then they both laugh.

“What are you going to do, Russ?! We have you in our hands! There's nothing you can do to stop us!” Trent taunts, and I hang my head.

He's right.

I can't do anything from where I am right now.

I can't escape from here alive.

Even if I manage to get out of this room, there's still the sixty soldiers around the base that I would have to get past.

Thrash looks up at Trent.

“Your friend, Cameron. You say you can take him out?” He asks, and my head snaps up.

Trent nods.

“It won't be a problem.”

Eyes widening, I pull against my bindings.

“LEAVE CAM ALONE!” I shout, and Trent hits me upside the head with his gun. I groan, seeing stars.

“Shut it, Keegan. You're responsible for Sam’s death, now you'll be responsible for Cameron, too.” He walks out of the room, and I drop my shoulders with a heavy breath, the weight crushing down on me.

Thrash grabs my head by my hair and lifts it up.

“Corporal Russ, you sealed your team’s fate.” He says, and I grit my teeth.

“It's SERGEANT Russ!!” I yell, and Thrash frowns, then puts his hand on my shoulder.

“That's great for you, Keegan.” He pushes back my shoulder with one hand and pulls it with his other, and I scream as my shoulder dislocates.

Thrash steps back and stares at me.

“Keegan Russ, I am going to put you through so much pain, finding your dead friends will seem like heaven.” He threatens as I breathe heavily, eyes still wide from the pain in my shoulder.

The same shoulder I was shot in.

Closing my eyes, I see David’s face again, his smile and light brown eyes.

Hesh frowns.

“Don't listen to Thrash. You're stronger than him. You can survive this.” He says, and I take a deep breath.

“I'll do anything to protect Logan,” I confirm, then I glare up at Thrash.

“You can do what you want to me. But you will never hurt Logan.” I voice, and Thrash frowns.

“We'll see.” He picks up his gun, narrows his eyes at me, then hits me with the butt of it, sending me spiraling into another pit of pain.


 

Merrick

I look around with wide eyes, and my chest tightens.

Keegan….

Logan frantically calls his name, tears running down his face.

For him, this is just like losing Hesh.

But for me, it's just knowing that the young kid who I've looked after for nine years is now trapped inside a Federation base alone with a murderous traitor.

Logan starts to run towards the base, but I grab his arm, pulling him back.

“Logan, we can't just run in there, with no plan whatsoever.” I reason, and Logan wrenches his arm away from me.

“Merrick, my best friend is in there right now, and he's probably hurt and-”

“LOGAN, SHUT UP!”

Logan’s eyes widen, as do mine as we turn around to see Spike staring at him, fists clenched.

“Don't….don't say he's hurt….” Spike mutters quietly, and my eyes widen.

“Spike...”

He shakes his head.

“Logan, I get it. Keegan is my friend, too. He's all our friend. But he's closer to you than anyone. So if you got hurt in the process of trying to help him he would never forgive himself. We can't hurt him like that.” He says painfully, and Cameron puts his hand on Spike’s shoulder.

“Even though I don't know Keegan that well, I've always known him as a great man. We'll get him out of there, Logan.” He says, and Cody nods.

“Of course we will. We just need to figure out a plan, first.”

I sigh.

“Well, we can't go back in the way we just came out. And we also need to help you guys’ injuries.” I say, looking around.

Cody gestures to his shoulder.

“It's not bad at all. Just need a small bandage.” He says, and Spike nods.

“Me too.”

I glance at Logan, and my eye catches on the blood that soaks his side.

“Logan….” I start, but Logan shakes his head.

“NO. I'll be fine! We need to figure out how to-”

Logan stops and takes a deep breath, pressing his hand on his bloodied side. Groaning, he bends over, his hand on his leg to stabilize himself.

Cody runs over.

“Logan!”

Logan grits his teeth and stands up straight.

I told you I’m fine!” He shouts, and I shake my head.

“Logan, your arm and your side are badly shot and bleeding. You can't just ignore that.” I say, and Logan narrows his eyes.

“YES I CAN! KEEGAN NEEDS US!” He yells, then his eyes suddenly grow tired and faint.

“We have to...help…..him...”

He collapses to the ground, and my eyes widen.

“LOGAN!”

I drop to his side, holding him up a bit. His breath is strained, his eyes barely open.

Glancing down, I take his hand away from his bloody side, and my eyes widen.

Cody crouches next to me.

“How bad is it?” He asks, and I shake my head, my chest tightening.

“It's bad. Real bad. We need to get him back to the base, now. He’ll die otherwise.” I force, not wanting to admit the last part.

Spike’s eyes widen.

“But...what about Keegan…?” He questions and I glare up at him.

“Keegan is strong, and he can fend for himself! I know him! But if you'd rather have Logan die….” I pressure, and Spike’s eyes widen.

“NO! OF COURSE NOT!” He shouts, and I nod.

“Then run and get the truck. We need to hurry.” I order, and Spike nods, running off with Cam to get the truck.

Cody looks down at Logan with worried eyes. He shakes his head.

“Thomas, I don't know if he's going to-”

I take a deep breath, tensing up, and Cody stops mid-sentence. I lift my gaze, eyes wide.

“We can't lose him, Cody. We've already lost so many, and we lost two of the best Ghosts I've ever known. Elias and Hesh. The Walkers. We can't let the last one die.” I distress, and Cody nods.

“I know, Merrick. I know.” He pats my shoulder, then a honk makes us look up.

Spike skids to a stop next to us in the truck, and gestures to it.

“Get him in!” He yells, and Cody nods.

I carefully lift Logan up, and he groans in pain. I flinch and carry him over to the back.

Setting him down gently, I look up at Spike.

“Go!” I shout, and he nods. The tires spin on the dirt as we swing around, and fly off down the road.

Looking down at Logan, his teeth clenched tight, I sigh.

Suddenly my mind flashes back, and I’m looking down at Hesh, laid in the back of the Jeep with Keegan treating his wounds when we left Santa Monica.

My eyes widen, then it's Logan again. Everything back, I shake my head.

I won't lose another.

I can't.

Looking up at Spike, I take a deep breath.

“CAN YOU GO ANY FASTER?!” I yell over the air rushing past me.

Spike nods.

“On it!”

The truck speeds up, and Cody climbs into the back with me. Looking from me to Logan, he raises his eyebrow.

Sitting down next to me, he leans forward to press down on Logan’s side, slowing the blood. He glances up to meet my eyes.

“We'll save him, Merrick. We'll save them both.” He comforts, and I nod, then look back the way we came.

Keegan….be careful.

I sigh.

“You better still be alive, you pain in the ass.”


 

Keegan

Thrash’s fist connects with my cheek, and I groan.

Thrash just won't stop.

He took off my vest, headset, and gear so I’m only in my jacket and t-shirt, now bloodstained under my chin.

Thrash frowns.

“Keegan, when your friends come to rescue you, Logan will find your dead body, and his spirit will be crushed completely. He's lost everyone already, and now he’ll lose you. And Spike? He’ll be so distraught, well...” Thrash chuckles and my eyes widen.

“WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?! Spike and I were both parts of the Hawks! You were our captain! How could you treat us like this?!” I demand, and Thrash frowns.

“Don't ask questions, Russ. They'll only get you into more trouble.” He says, and I shake my head.

“NO! I WANT TO KNOW! WHAT DID WE EVER DO?!” I yell, and Thrash narrows his eyes, walks over to me, and stares down at me.

He pulls his knife from his belt, and my eyes widen. I struggle against the ropes, and Thrash smirks.

Pushing the tip of the knife against my skin, he digs it in, then drags it across my chest.

I cry out as blood seeps along the gash in my chest, dying my grey shirt dark red.

I gasp in pain, and Thrash takes the knife away, staring relentlessly at me.

“I told you if you didn't stop prying, there would be consequences. I’d keep my mouth shut if I were you.” He warns, then stands up.

Turning away, he walks to the table and leans against it to look at me.

My breath is still heavy, as I gasp from the agony in my chest.

Looking down at it, I flinch. It's not deep, but it hurts like hell.

I know where this is going.

Thrash is going to torture me as long as he can before I eventually die.

He knows how to keep someone alive, and he’ll use that to his advantage.

Closing my eyes, I sigh dejectedly.

I’m screwed.


 

 

Cody

I can see the base drawing closer, and I look back down at Logan.

My hands are still pressed tightly on his side, trying to stop the bleeding.

His eyes, barely open, are scared and pained, locked on Merrick.

Merrick sits right next to him, his hand on Logan’s.

Cameron leans back towards us.

“We're here, guys! Get Logan out!” He shouts as the truck jolts to a stop.

Merrick and I jump out, and Merrick picks Logan up in his arms.

Logan’s arm hangs limply over Merrick’s, his face tired and pained.

I follow him into the base quickly, and into the common area.

Spike looks around.

“Table,” he says, and Cameron pushes everything off of the table in the center.

Merrick carefully lays Logan down on it, and Logan moans.

His hand is clamped on his side, but not tightly.

His breath is faint and shaky, his skin pale.

Merrick looks up at Cameron.

“You helped him out before, right? When Davis stabbed him?” He asks, and Cameron nods unsurely.

“Well, yes, but I've never even tried to help with something this bad!” He shouts helplessly, and Spike steps towards Merrick.

“All we have to do is stop the bleeding.” He suggests, and I flinch.

Those words are exactly what Keegan said right before Slate died.

Biting my lip, I run into the other room to grab the med kit. Finding the metal box with the red cross on the front, I sprint back to the others.

Dropping it on the table, I look up at Spike.

“You and I can stop the bleeding. Merrick, you need to just stand back. I know you care about him, but I can't have you in my way.” I order, and Merrick goes to argue, then he steps back next to Cameron.

I nod and flip open the med box. I grab the gauze and bandages from the side and then spin to quickly press the gauze on Logan’s wound.

His body tenses a little, but weakly.

He doesn't have much time left.

Spike keeps his hand on Logan’s shoulder and shakes his head.

“C’mon kid. C’mon.” He mutters, and I sigh.

Tossing the first blood-soaked gauze down, I press another one.

“This isn't doing very much!” I say urgently, and Merrick shakes his head.

“Then do something that will help!” He shouts, and I whip my head to glare at him.

“What the hell do you think I’m trying to do, Thomas?!” I shout back, then Spike’s eyes widen.

“Guys….” He says slowly, and I look over.

“What?”

His eyes are panicked as he looks down at Logan, and fear fills me.

“He's stopped breathing.”

Chapter Text

Cody

My eyes widen, and Merrick jumps forward.

“WHAT?!” He yells, and Spike leans his head on Logan’s chest, then shakes his head solemnly.

“He's gone.” He murmurs, and Merrick’s eyes widen.

“No…” He mutters as he moves next to Logan.

I look down at Logan’s closed eyes and his ghostly white face.

My breath is shaky, broken.

Merrick shakes his head, then shoves Spike out of the way.

He immediately presses down on Logan’s chest hard, once, twice, three times, then leans down to send breath into his mouth.

I stand staring at him as he tries to give Logan CPR, pushing down on his chest again, then giving him another flow of air.

Cameron and Spike meet each other’s eyes, then Cameron shakes his head.

"I’m gonna get some more bandages,” he says as he walks towards the closet.

Suddenly the window shatters, and I shelter Logan with my body, blocking any glass.

Merrick stops CPR, looking up with wide eyes.

I look up, and my eyes widen.

“Cameron!” I shout when I see him lying on the floor, unmoving. Spike looks up, and his eyes widen.

“Cam….”

He runs over to him and rolls Cameron over. He falls back when he sees the bullet wound in Cameron’s skull, and the blood that starts to stain the floor.

Merrick takes a deep breath, and I bite my lip.

Goddammit.

I turn back to Merrick to see that he’s started CPR again, breathing air into Logan’s still form.

I can see the determination in Merrick’s face, but I feel the pain in my chest.

He pushes a fourth time, and I frown sadly.

“Merrick, he's…..he's gone," I say sullenly, and Merrick shakes his head. 

"NO, HE'S NOT! I...I can bring him back!" He shouts, frantically sending breath into Logan's lungs.

Logan lays still, no movement or sign of life.

I shake my head.

"Thomas, he's dead. Just-”

Then a small cough comes from Logan, and my eyes widen.

Merrick lets out a deep breath of relief, and Logan coughs again.

Groaning lightly, he slowly opens his eyes. Merrick stares down at him.

“Logan? You still with us?” He asks, and Logan blinks a little, then nods slightly.

He coughs again, blood dripping from his lip.

“What...what happened…” He whispers, his voice so quiet I almost can't hear it. Merrick shakes his head.

“Don't talk. It's okay, Logan. It's okay.”

Logan closes his eyes with a nod, then flinches. His hand creeps back to his side, his fingers drawing back when he feels the blood.

My eyes widen.

“I still need to stitch him up,” I say, and Merrick nods.

Picking up the suture, I look down at Logan and his already pained face.

“Sorry, kid.” I utter as I start to push the stitches through his skin. His fist clenches as he grits his teeth.

I finish stitching him up and step back.

Meeting Merrick’s eye, I sigh.

“That'll stop the bleeding. He’ll be okay, I think. Should be.” I rub the back of my head, and Merrick nods.

“Thank you.” He says, and I smile lightly.

“Thomas...” We look down at Logan, who opens his eyes to look at Merrick.

“Where….where’s Keegan….?” He asks quietly, lifting his head to look around, and I glance up at Merrick cautiously.

“Well…..” I start, catching Merrick’s eye.

“He’s gonna be okay, Logan.”

I hear from behind me, and I see Spike stand up from next to Cameron’s body. He walks over and looks down at Logan.

“We're gonna help him. Just stay alive, kid.” He says, and Logan looks at us with wide eyes, then he looks behind Spike.

His eyes widen.

“What-”

His eyes have fallen on Cam, and I immediately move to block his view.

“Logan, I just need you to relax right now. Please.” Merrick says quickly, and Logan shakes his head, trying to look past me.

“No….Cameron…..what…”

He tries to sit up but flinches in pain again. Merrick holds him down.

“Logan. Just…..trust me. I'll explain everything. But right now, you need to rest. You're back from the dead, kid, and I don't want you to go down that road again.” He says, and Logan eyes him worriedly, then lays his head back, closing his eyes.

I glance over at Cameron and slowly walk over.

Kneeling next to him, I stare at the blood dripping down the side of his head.

Clenching my fist, I stare out the window.

I know exactly who did this.

Narrowing my eyes, I stare at the Federation flag still stuck in the ground.

Trent.


 

 

Trent

I walk back in the Federation base, the rifle slung over my shoulder. Making my way up the stairs, I open the door to the room.

Thrash looks up, and I glance down at Keegan sitting in the chair, head hung down in dismay.

“You did it?” Thrash asks, and I look back up at him, then smirk.

“Yeah. Cam’s gone.” I say, and Keegan clenches his fist.

“I hate you….” He mutters, slowly raising his head to look at me.

I chuckle.

“Well, you're gonna hate what I have to say even more. When I went to take out Cameron, I saw in the window, and the Ghosts weren't exactly having a good day.” I say, and Thrash raises his eyebrow.

“Explain.” He demands, and I nod.

“When they were all trying to get out of here, Logan was shot in the process. Turns out it was a lot worse than they thought.” I reveal, and Keegan’s eyes widen.

“What?” He asks quickly, and I turn my gaze down to him.

“Your friends were trying to help Logan, but it was too late. I saw it myself. Merrick tried to bring him back, but….”

I smirk as Keegan’s eyes grow wider.

“No….Logan…” He utters, then his eyes narrow.

“NO! YOU'RE LYING!!” He yells, and Thrash crosses his arms, looking at me.

“Are you sure?” He asks, and I nod.

“When I shot Cam, they all freaked out. Merrick stopped trying to give Logan CPR, and I saw Logan lying on the table, eyes closed, pale as a sheet, covered in blood. He’s dead, Thrash.”

I slowly swing my eyes down to Keegan with a devilish grin, then crouch in front of him.

“Logan. Is. Dead.” I taunt and Keegan’s breath stops short, his eyes wide, tears teetering over the edge of them.

“He can't be….” He whispers, and I stand up with a grin.

Thrash hits my shoulder, and I turn around.

He eyes me carefully, pulling me aside in a hushed tone.

“I want you to go back and make certain that Walker boy is dead. I know what you saw, but Merrick is a very persistent man, and he wouldn't have just given Logan up like that. I have a feeling he's still alive. But don't let Keegan know that. We won't give him an ounce of hope. Now go.” He tells me quietly, and I nod.

“Yes, sir,” I reply, then I look back down at Keegan, who looks up at me with red, agonizing eyes.

I smirk, then bring my fist down to punch him in the face, hard.

His nose sprays more blood, and he groans, then lets his head fall down, his shoulders shaking.

“....Logan….” He cries softly, and I look up to meet Thrash’s eyes.

He nods, and I walk out the door, then close it behind me.

Keegan will drown in his sorrow as he watches his whole world crumble down around him.


 

 

Keegan

Tears run down my face as my head hangs down.

“...Logan…”

My shoulders shake as I sob, thinking of my little brother, the boy who I have worked so hard to protect.

He can't be dead.

He can't be.

Trent….

He...He must have been lying.

Shaking my head, my attempt at optimism fizzles away as a vision of Logan lying dead on the floor fills my head.

“No…..” I mutter, closing my eyes.

Taking a deep breath, Hesh puts his hand on my shoulder.

“Keegan, you need to stay focused. You can't just give up. I won't let you. And I've known you long enough to know that you don't give up. Don't leave our brother alone.” He says, and I look up with red eyes.

“But….he's dead, David…..I failed him, too...just like...you….” My tears erupt again, and Hesh crouches in front of me.

He holds both my shoulders and I glance up to meet his light brown eyes caringly gazing at me.

“Keegan, you didn't fail me. You never did. It wasn't your fault, nor was it Logan’s. And you haven't failed Logan. He's still alive, Keegan! HE'S STILL ALIVE!! You have time to save him! I know you can! I just need you to stay strong!! Please, Keegan. I don't want to see you fall.” He tells, and my eyes widen.

“He's still alive?!”

A punch to my face snaps me back, and I groan, looking up at Thrash’s angry eyes.

“No. Logan is gone.” He remarks, and I shake my head.

“He's still alive. I know he is!” I shout, and Thrash narrows his eyes.

“Russ, I would silence yourself before you get into trouble again.” He warns, and I raise my eyebrow.

“Get into trouble again? Well, Thrash, according to you, that is what I’m best at!” I retort, and Thrash takes a deep breath and turns away from me.

“You always have had an attitude.” He speaks, then he spins around, gun in hand, and pulls the trigger.

I scream in agony as the bullet tears into my chest, and blood immediately wets my torso.

I pant heavily, tears running down my face in pain.

“Keegan, keep your eyes open!” David yells, and I try to keep myself from screaming.

“Just...focus on something else…..” He tries, and I shake my head.

“How?!” I shout, and Thrash smacks me across the face.

“Shut your mouth, Russ.” He growls, and I close my eyes, despite Hesh’s order not to.

Meeting David’s eyes, tears drip from my chin.

“What the hell else am I supposed to think about, David?!” I plead, and David frowns, thinking, then he grins.

“The first time we met.” He says, and my eyes widen.

“That day, when Logan and I had just found that Federation camp, and we were all going to find Ajax. You and I worked together and made a great team. And after, do you remember when you rescued Logan and I from Santa Monica? And we first found out dad was a Ghost?” He asks me, and I feel a smile starting to creep its way onto my face.

“And what about the times when we fought side by side, protecting each other at all costs?”

I nod, and David stares at me with his big, brown eyes.

“But what I think about the most is when I saw you for the last time.” He says, and I feel my heart stop for a moment.

He smiles painfully.

“‘I’ll never forget you, Keegan.’ That's what I said. And you grinned at me, with that brotherly love in your eyes, and I felt this happiness wash over me, like every single time we had laughed together, saved each other, talked together, was all filling me at once, and I had never felt so happy. Even though I was heartbroken to leave you, I had you by my side the entire way. Always.” He says, a single tear running down his cheek.

I smile sadly, and nod, the sting of tears on my cheeks.

“That was how I felt, too. I saw you leaving, and I felt part of my heart leave, too. But you were still the most important thing in my life. You and Logan. That's why I went after you both. Because I never cared about anyone as much as I do you.” I say caringly, and Hesh nods.

“I know. Now you need to keep that happiness here in your mind, Keegan. Hold onto it. Thrash can't beat you. He may think he can, but he can't. You're strong, Keegan. No matter how much you get hurt, you always come back. Like that stubborn seventeen-year-old boy. The youngest Marine ever who is the bravest and most determined man I have ever known in a lifetime.”

My eyes widen, and Hesh nods.

“You need to live. So you can protect my brother. Your brother. Logan needs you, Keegan. And I know that you'll keep him safe. But you have to survive in order to do that. Use your strengths, Keegan. The love you have for Logan is stronger than anything that could try to break it. I’ll be by your side, Keegan, but you need to be strong on your own. You are my brother, Keegan P. Russ. You always have been, you always will be.” He says, and I open my eyes, then glare up at Thrash.

“If you ever think that you are going to hurt Logan again, then you are in for a hellstorm. I will rip you apart, and cause you just as much pain as you plan to cause me. Logan is MY BROTHER, and you WILL NOT KEEP US APART!!” I yell, the determination behind my eyes surprising Thrash.

I grit my teeth.

I will get out of this.

I have to.

For myself.

For Logan.

For David.

Chapter Text

Logan

I slowly open my eyes, groaning. Looking around, I don't see the Ghosts anywhere.

I sit up painfully, then I realize I’m lying on the ground outside.

How did I get out here?

I feel a twinge in my side, and I look down to see my blood stained t-shirt, but when I lift it up, four stitches fill where the wound was. My jacket is off, and my boots are clean, as well as my cargo pants.

I take a short breath, then look up again.

The sky is a light blue, and small thin clouds streak in some places. The air is warm, and a gentle breeze blows through my hair.

Turning around, my confusion grows when I see no base. I’m in an empty field, surrounded by trees on the edge.

“What….what’s going on?” I say, and my voice is muffled as if I was talking into a tin can.

“Logan.”

A voice behind me makes me spin around, and I feel my heart stop as I stare at the man walking up to me.

“D...David….”

My voice is barely a whisper, my eyes unbelieving.

My brother nods, and sighs.

“Logan, I-”

His voice is cut off as I tightly wrap my arms around him, tears running down my face.

I can't tell if they're happy or sad, but I don't care.

“Hesh…” I utter, holding him tighter. He hugs me back and takes a deep breath.

“Logan.” He says, and I step back.

Staring at him, I smile.

I missed that face, his grin, his light brown caring eyes. I feel happiness wash over me.

“David, I missed you so much…” I voice, and Hesh sighs.

“I know. I...I’m sorry.” He frowns, shaking his head.

“I wish that I could still be with you and Keegan, but I can’t.” He says, and my smile melts away.

“What...what do you mean? You're here right now!” I say, and Hesh closes his eyes with a heavy sigh.

“Logan, I just need you to listen to me, okay?” He requests, looking back up at me.

I see the pain in his eyes, and I nod.

“Of course,” I reply, and David sits down on the grass, sighing.

Leaning back on his hands and looking up at the blue sky, he glances over at me. I walk to sit next to him, leaning my arms on my knees.

David sighs.

“Logan, the only reason I’m here right now is that you almost died. You did die, pretty much. Merrick saved you. And I made sure you got back.” He says, still staring up at the sky.

My eyes widen.

“But….if I had, I would have been with you! I want to be with you !” I distress, and David looks back down at me.

“Logan, you can't die. You still have a lot to do.” He says, and my eyebrow raises.

“What do you mean?” I ask, and Hesh looks at me quizzically.

“What do you think I mean? You need to save Keegan!” He responds, and my eyes widen.

“Oh my god! Keegan!” I shout, and I start to get up, but David grabs my hand.

“Logan, just calm down. Listen carefully.” He says, and I slowly sit back down, meeting my brother’s serious eyes.

“You need to help Keegan, Logan. I’m trying to keep him alive, but he doesn't have long. Thrash is torturing him, revenge for what Keegan did.” He explains, and I startle.

“Wait, Thrash?” I question, and Hesh nods.

“Thrash. Keegan’s captain. He supposedly died the same day Heath and Bolt did, but he didn't. The Federation found him after Keegan left with Bolt. They did the same thing to him that they did to me and you and Rorke. But he still remembers everything and everyone. He hates Keegan for how he left him. He's going to kill him if we don't help.” He reveals, and my eyes are wide.

“I won't let Keegan die.” I state, and David nods.

“Now, we can both help him, but what are you going to do? You're in critical condition, and you can't go anywhere at the moment.” David says, and I shake my head.

“There is never an excuse to not help your friend. I won't let that stop me from helping our brother.” I determine, and David grins.

There's the Logan I know.” He says, and I smirk. Then it slowly fades away.

“But….what am I doing here right now? If you're….”

I can't bring myself to say the word ‘dead’ .

David hangs his head and nods.

“Yes, I know. But you're here because I needed to tell you that. It's almost like you're dreaming, but at the same time, since you technically died, you're here with me. I can snap you back easily, and then you can help Keegan.” He says, and I nod.

“Okay.”

Hesh stands up and offers me his hand. As I grab his wrist, he pulls me to my feet.

Meeting my blue eyes with the brown of his, he takes a breath.

“You need to go, Logan.” He says, but I frown.

“Will you...Can I….Will I be able to see you again like this? I don't want you to leave me…” I ask slowly, and Hesh sighs, shaking his head sadly.

“No. You won't. But it's okay. I’m always with you, Logan. You know that. And Keegan knows that, too. He always has me in his head. It's how he gets himself through the bad.”

Hesh holds my shoulders, staring into my eyes.

“When it's time, you'll see me again, Logan. And when that day comes, I’ll be here waiting for you. But for now, you have a fight to finish.” He says, and I nod, a tear in the corner of my eye.

I hug him tightly, and David hugs me back. I sigh.

“I love you, David,” I whisper, and he nods.

“I love you too, Logan.”

I feel the embrace fade away, then everything turns dark.

Suddenly, my eyes snap open, and I let out a heavy breath. Turning my head to the side, I can see I’m in my room in the base, and I sigh, putting my arm over my eyes.

“David…” I mutter as the tear that was hovering on the edge of my eye falls down my cheek.

My fist clenches and I sit up slowly, holding my side in pain.

Keegan.

I will find you, and I’ll save you.

Because you're my brother, and we keep each other safe.

Determination sets itself in my eyes, and I take a deep breath.

I'll do this.

I have to.

For myself.

For Keegan.

For David .


 

 

Merrick

I sit on the couch, staring out the window.

Keegan…..

I know you're strong, but maybe even you can break eventually.

I don't want to think about what's happening to him, but the thoughts of him being tortured continue to invade my mind.

Squeezing my eyes shut, I sigh.

Cody and Spike went to bury Sam and Cameron, leaving me alone with my thoughts.

“Thomas?”

A faint voice behind me makes me turn my head, and I startle when I see Logan standing in the doorway, weakly leaning against the frame.

I stand up, facing him with wide eyes.

“Logan...you...you're awake. What are you doing? You need to res-”

Logan shakes his head.

“I need to find Keegan, Merrick. I won't let him suffer.” He says, his voice quiet and gravelly. I sigh.

“Logan, I want him back just as much as you do. But we can't do anything about that right now. You're far too injured still to go anywhere.”

Logan shakes his head.

"But that shouldn't stop me from saving him." He voices straightly, and I take a deep breath.

I walk over towards him, then meet his eyes.

“You're barely standing, Logan. When you were hurt before, you weren't breathing. Your heart stopped. You came back from the dead. I don't want that to go to waste by just getting yourself shot again because you couldn't even move away from the Federation soldiers quick enough.” I remark, and Logan sighs.

“Thomas….please…..” He trails off, looking at the ground. Then he slowly raises his gaze to me.

“I'll rest for a day. But then we're going to help Keegan.” He says, then he turns and heads back down the hall towards his room, limping slightly, and leaning against the wall for support.

Taking a deep breath, I shake my head.

Walking back towards the couch, Cody and Spike walk in from outside.

They catch my eye, and Cody frowns.

“What's that look for?” He asks, and I frown.

“Logan’s awake,” I say straightly, and Spike raises his eyebrow.

“That's a good thing. Why do you seem so….dreary?” He asks, and I fall back onto the couch.

“Because he wanted to go and help Keegan right this minute.”

I look up to meet their eyes as they sit down in the chairs.

Letting out a heavy breath, my shoulders fall.

“He can barely stand, guys. Let alone walk or fight. There's no way he's gonna be able to get to that Federation base and help Keegan without dying.” I state, and Cody meets Spike’s worried eyes, then they both look to me.

Cody sighs.

“So what do we do about Keegan?” He asks, and I shake my head.

“There's only four of us left to face off against the Federation and break Keegan out of there. Three, not including Logan. How are we gonna pull this off?” I wonder, and Spike leans forward, resting his arms on his knees with a sigh. Cody leans back in his chair, rubbing his face with his hands.

I shake my head and look back out the window.

I don't know how we're going to get Keegan out.

Logan is going to try to get to him no matter what, and then we'll just be in more trouble as we try to keep him from hurting himself.

Sighing, I close my eyes.

I wish we had Hesh with us right now.


 

 

Keegan

I groan as I feel a pounding headache that echoes in my skull.

Did Thrash knock me out?

I don't remember...

I slowly open my eyes, but everything is still pitch black.

My eyebrow raises, then I realize I’m not tied to the chair anymore. My hands are free, and I can feel cold concrete under me.

Sitting up, I feel around blindly.

About a foot from me I hit a wall, then another on my other side, and I can tell I’m in a very small room.

More of a closet, almost.

I take a deep breath, and I go to stand up, but a pain shoots through my body.

My dislocated shoulder screams and I take a deep breath as I try to ignore it.

Falling back, I put my hand on my chest, and the wet touch of blood makes me cringe.

Gritting my teeth, I lean against the wall, slowly forcing myself up as I rely on it for support.

Standing up, I feel around the room again, then my fingers run along a seam in the wall.

I feel over it again, and it seems like a door.

But as I explore, I find no door handle on this side.

A fear rises in me a little.

What's going on?

I bang on the wall with my palm.

“LET ME OUT!!” I yell, slamming my hand against the metal wall.

The pain from doing so kicks in, and I lean forward against the wall, tears running down my face.

What have I gotten into?

Letting my hand drop down the door, my fingers run over another seam, and I step back.

Looking down, even though it's still pitch black, I can feel the outline of a small hatch, maybe only five by five inches.

Raising my eyebrow, I lean back against the back wall.

“What the hell….” I mutter, then I hear a lock being undone, and I jump up towards the door.

A small slit about my eye height slides open, and I look out into those devious, dark brown eyes, full of hate.

It seems about seven inches to where the end of the slit is.

Is the wall of this really that thick?

“Thrash, what do you want?! What the hell am I even in?! Is this your time-out box?!” I shout, looking through the slit.

Thrash shakes his head.

 “You know, Russ, considering the situation you're currently in, I would really think your words over before you say them.” He says, and I roll my eyes.

“Yeah? Or what? I’m just locked in a pitch black room. What the hell else are you going to do to me?” I retort, and Thrash chuckles.

“Oh, Keegan, this isn't just a room.” He says with a sinister tone, and my eyes widen as an ominous feeling fills my chest.

Thrash turns away for a moment, then I hear him press a button.

I hear a clank in the cell, then a sudden pain pierces my stomach.

I gasp in surprise, then stumble back, pulling away from whatever just stabbed me.

Falling against the wall, I breathe hard, holding my hand on my now bleeding stomach.

Thrash snickers, then I hear him press another button.

A cold metal slices into the back of my shoulder, and I cry out as blood drips down my back.

Tripping over my own feet in the dark, I fall to the floor, and as I do so the side of my face hits a blade on the wall, cutting through my skin beside my ear, blood immediately running from it.

I groan, then lay in agony on the ground.

Thrash’s shadow blocks out the small amount of light coming from the slit as he stares in at me.

“No, Russ, this isn't a ‘time-out box’. It's your hell hole. If you even move, you’ll get sliced, stabbed, and cut to a point far beyond excruciating. Do you still think that you can best me?” He taunts, and I glare up at him, even though he can't see it.

“I'll still get you, you prick. Just wait. You'll get what's coming…” I groan, and Thrash chuckles.

“Sure, kid. Enjoy your time in there.” He says, then the opening slides shut, and I’m in pitch black again.

Dropping my head down to the floor, I close my eyes.

The amount of the warm blood wetting my shirt concerns me, and the smell of blood in the room makes my head ache.

I try to slow my breathing, focusing on what Hesh told me to.

The times we spent together.

Good thoughts, Keegan. Happy memories. Just keep those in your head, I tell myself, as I try to think of something other than the hell I’m in right now.

Logan, where are you?.....

Chapter Text

Merrick

After I talked to Cody and Spike about what to do about Keegan, I went back to my room.

I can't think straight.

Not having even stopped thinking about Keegan for hours, my brain is just starting to hurt.

Falling back on my bed, I sigh.

What am I going to do?

Logan is recovering from almost dying, Keegan is trapped in the Federation base, and only Spike, Cody and I are left.

Putting my arm over my eyes, I take a deep breath.

Then the door to my room slams open, and I jolt, sitting up straight.

“Augh!” I shout in surprise, and Spike stares at me, with an excited expression on his face.

“I have an idea how to get Keegan!” He says, and my eyes widen.

“What is it?”


 

 

Shaking my head, I look up at Cody, sitting across the table from me.

NO. We are not firebombing the base.” I declare, and Spike stands up angrily.

“Merrick, we have the resources! There's enough explosives down in the ammunition to blow that base right open-”

“WITH KEEGAN STILL INSIDE!!” I yell, and Spike narrows his eyes.

Thomas, just let me finish what I’m trying to say!! ” Spike shouts back, and I sigh heavily, then sit back down. Spike nods.

“We wouldn't blow it until someone gets Keegan out of there. They can sneak in while the others distract the soldiers. Then, once Keegan is out, we blow the place.” He says, and Cody crosses his arms.

“Juvenile, risky, and very flawed characteristics aside, I think it might work.” He says, and I stare at him with wide eyes.

“How?! How are we going to get to Keegan? He's right in that center room! There is no way we would be able to-”

“I know how we could get in.”

We all turn to see Logan standing in the door, then he slowly walks over. He flinches as he leans against the end of the table, then looks up at us.

“I know how we can get to Keegan.” He says, and Spike looks at him intently.

“How?”

Cody sits forward, also awaiting an answer.

Logan nods.

“When we were all fighting the Federation before we got out of there, I noticed a few other ways we could get in. First off, there was an air duct right above the walkway to the room where Keegan is most likely being held. Second, there was a back door to that room, but that is out of the picture, as it probably leads to yet another maze of hallways. But thirdly, there was a skylight above the room. My theory is if we could manage to get close enough to the Federation building, someone could get to the roof and either go in through the duct or the skylight to get to Keegan quicker. As they're doing that, the rest of us will keep the Federation busy.” He suggests, and I meet Cody and Spike’s eyes.

I sigh.

“That is a pretty good plan, Logan, except for one thing.” I say, and he looks up at me.

“You're still too injured to go anywhere near the Federation.” I say, and Logan’s eyes flare.

“Oh, am I?! I can walk, can't I? I can hold a gun, can't I? And don't you remember what you told me about Keegan, how even after he was shot in his first battle, he still fought against the Federation, tooth and nail, in the highest risk situation! If I can carry a gun, then I am plenty strong to go up against the Federation!” Logan shouts, and I lean back in surprise a bit, then catch Cody’s eye.

He shrugs and nods, and I sigh.

“As much as I want to chew you out on how you're not Keegan and you're hurt worse than he was, we don't have much of a choice at the moment. You're right. We need to help him, and your plan is the only way we can do so.” I turn my gaze to Cody and Spike.

“When we attack, we'll go from the south side of the base. I noticed there wasn't a guard there when we went in the first time. Cody, Logan and I will keep the soldiers occupied.”

I turn my gaze.

“Spike, you'll go in and help Keegan.” I say, and Spike’s eyes widen.

“You're not going to do it?” He asks, and I shake my head.

“No, Spike. Keegan is important to you. You find him and help him out. While you're doing that, we'll take out the rest of the base. There's only sixty of them. I think we can handle that. Once that's done, and we get Keegan, we immediately come back here.” I voice, and the three nod with determined grins.

Logan puts his hand on my shoulder.

“We'll help Keegan. We will save our friend. Because Marines never leave another Marine behind, and a brother doesn't leave his brother behind.”


 

 

Keegan

“Keegan, wake up.”

I groan, eyes slowly opening. Everything is still dark, and I let out a defeated sigh.

I’m still locked in here.

But the incredible pain in my torso should have told me that. The cut on the side of my head has stopped bleeding, and now dried blood sticks to my face. My chest is still wet with blood, but it has stopped bleeding, finally.

How I haven't died yet, I have no idea.

“Keegan, listen to me.”

My eyes widen, and I look around, but still see nothing.

“What? Who…” I stutter, trying to find the source of the voice.

“Keegan, just stop, pause, and think.” It says, and I close my eyes. I stand up, then look around again.

“Keegan…..”

I turn to see Hesh behind me, and I sigh in relief.

“David, what the hell do I do?! How can I help Logan if I’m stuck in here?!” I question, and Hesh sighs.

“Keegan, just slow down, and listen to what we have to say.”

I raise my eyebrow.

“Wait, what do you mean, ‘we’?” I ask, then a hand on my shoulder makes me turn around, and my eyes widen.

“Kick….”

He grins at me, then ruffles my hair.

“Hey, kid.” He says, and I stare at him with wide eyes and a smile on my face.

I immediately hug him, and he holds me tightly.

“Kick...I’m so sorry….” I mutter, and Kick shakes his head.

“Don't be. It wasn't your fault.” He says, then a throat cleared behind us makes us turn. Hesh rubs the back of his head as he looks at Kick, meeting his eyes awkwardly.

Kick sighs.

“How many times do I have to say it, Hesh. It wasn't your fault either. But now isn't the time to discuss this. We need to help Keegan right now.” He says, and Hesh nods. Kick turns back to me, and meets my eyes.

“Keegan, I know that this is painful, and it feels like Thrash has pretty much won at this point, but Merrick, Cody, Spike and Logan are planning to break you out.” He says, and I raise my eyebrow.

“Wait, is Logan actually okay now?” I ask, and Hesh nods.

“He's fine, Keegan. He wants to help, and he's determined to save you.” He explains, and I sigh.

“Well, they better hurry. I…..”

Hanging my head, I sigh.

“I don't know how much longer I can do this….” I mutter, and Kick shakes my shoulders.

“KEEGAN RUSS, don't you give up!!! Hesh and I are trying to help you, but you need to be able to help yourself. You and Logan still have work to do. You still need to take out the Federation, and Logan needs you to help him do that.” He says, and Hesh puts his hand on my shoulder.

“You can't leave him alone, Keegan. Don't die on him. We can't let him get hurt again.” He says painfully, and I stop, then nod.

“I know. I'll help him. But if Thrash is still keeping me in here, and if I even move, he hurts me again, then what do I do?” I ask, and Kick shrugs.

“Don't move, for one.” He suggests, and I glare at him as Hesh smacks the back of his head.

Kick frowns.

“What the hell?!” He says, rubbing the back of his head, eyes narrowed at Hesh, who sighs. He turns his gaze to me.

“Even after we're gone, he's still annoying.” he mutters, and I try not to laugh, an amused smile on my face. Then I shake it off.

“But really. What do I do?” I ask, and Hesh looks at Kick, then back at me.

“You just need to relax. Don't think about how you're going to get out, or what's happening. Just focus on keeping yourself calm enough to stay alive.”

Kick nods.

“Because honestly, that is your biggest concern right now.” He says, and I nod.

“I'll try. No...I'll do . I will stay alive.” I determine, and Hesh grins.

“And there we go. That's our Keegan.” He says, and Kick nods.

“Yep.” He smiles at me, then sighs.

“Keegan, I want you to know, before I…” He hesitates, then gives me a glance, and I know he's trying to avoid saying ‘died’. I nod understandingly, and he continues.

“You were the little brother I never had. And even though it wasn't at you, I would have gladly taken the bullet for you if it meant keeping you safe. Which is why you can't die now. Because you still have to protect Logan. Like I did you, now you take care of him. Can you do that?” He asks, and I nod.

“Of course.”

Kick smiles his goofy grin.

“I know you'll keep the Ghosts alive, Keegan. You always have.” He embraces me, and I hug him back, then his tight hold disappears, and I look up to find him gone.

Hesh takes a deep breath, and meets my eyes.

“I just wanted you to be able to talk to him, Keegan. I knew how much that would mean to you.” He says, and I smile, a tear rolling down the side of my face through the dried blood.

“Thanks, David,” I murmur, and he nods, then puts his arm around my shoulder. I flinch when it touches my dislocated shoulder and the slice in my back, but I shake it off.

“I need you to stay alive. I know we've said it so many times, but you need to understand this, Keegan. You cannot die . You can't let Thrash beat you. You're strong enough to withstand him, but you still need to have it in your mind that you're going to live.” David says, and I nod.

“I know. I will,” I utter, and David turns to hug me.

“Good. Now rest, and stay strong for me, Kick, and Logan.” He says, then he disappears in the blink of an eye.

I sigh, then I feel the cold concrete under me once again, and I put my hands under my head, not moving too much so as to not trigger the traps in the room.

Closing my eyes, I picture the four of us, Kick, Logan, David and I all together. When all of this is over, we will be together.

But, until that day comes, I'll stay strong and stay alive to protect my little brother, even if it means letting him protect me first.


 

 

Spike

Glancing over at Merrick, he nods at me, as Logan meets my eyes.

“Go.” He says, and I slowly creep out of the tree line and press myself against the south wall of the base.

Looking back towards my friends, Cody catches my gaze. He looks back back at Merrick, and I see him say something, then Merrick and Logan nod.

Cody raises his M-4 at the guard, then fires. He drops dead, and the other five guards run over towards them. They start shooting, and I grin.

Climbing up the ladder to the roof, I stop at the top, carefully looking over the edge of the roof. I see a guard on the far side, and I raise my pistol. I steady it, then fire, the silencer on the end completely muffling the shot, and the guard falls in a spurt of blood.

Jumping up onto the roof, I run over to the vent. Working the grate off, I toss it to the ground, then slip down into the vent.

Lying down, I start to crawl through the small, tight tunnel, pushing cobwebs out of the way.

I cough, and a cloud of dust blows up in front of me.

Coughing again, I try to stifle it.

Narrowing my eyes, I cover my nose.

Merrick, I swear to god, when I get Keegan out, I’m gonna kill you.

I stop.

Actually, this was Logan’s idea.

I shrug, and keep crawling.

I see an intersection coming up, and a light coming from the left.

I take a deep breath as I curl myself around the corner, grunting as the edge of the metal cuts into my side.

“Rrgh…” I groan, then I see a grate going out about ten feet ahead.

I wriggle towards it, and stop as I reach the edge. Looking through the grate, I can see the room we were in before, and below me, the walkway Trent was on.

I take a deep breath, and slowly pull the grate away, then tilt it to slide it back towards me. Sliding it along the wall until it lays behind me, I turn back to the opening.

I see a few soldiers milling around, only four.

Surveying the area, I frown.

There are more soldiers around the edge, some sitting at a card table, talking. In total, there are probably about fifteen in the room.

“Shit…” I mutter.

This just got a bit more complicated.

Shaking my head, I glance down at my silenced pistol, then a determined smirk crosses my face.

I sigh, and look back down at the room. Slowly raising my gun, I pull the trigger, and one in the corner falls dead. Turning to the three at the card table, I pull the trigger again, dropping them.

A few of the other soldiers jump up, searching around alertly.

I shoot again, and drop two more. I reload, dropping the empty magazine to the floor, making the soldiers look up. Clipping the full mag in, I take a breath.

Wriggling out of the vent, I flip down to the floor. Standing up, I spin around to shoot three soldiers running up towards me.

Then I’m tackled from behind, and I fall to the ground. A Fed soldier hold me down, and he chuckles.

“You can't take us all.” He says, and I narrow my eyes.

“You wanna bet?” I growl as I slowly turn my hand. Pulling the trigger of my gun, the bullet flies right into the man’s brain, and he falls to the side.

Shoving him off of me, I sit up, and look around. Five more remain, and I smirk. They look at each other, then back up at me.

One fires his gun, and I duck just in time as the bullet whizzes over my head.

Shooting through the railing, I fell two more of them, and the final three stare at me with narrowed eyes.

They raise their guns, but I immediately pull off three shots. They all fall dead, and I take a deep breath.

Standing up, I sigh.

Looking down the walkway a bit, I see the door to the room, and I run down.

Skidding to a stop in front of it, a frown immediately crosses my face.

A thick solid metal door greets me, and I bite my lip in frustration.

Then I take a deep breath.

Guess I have to blow my way in.


 

 

Keegan

My eyes shoot open as I hear the slit slide open, and I slowly stand up, careful to avoid the blade on the wall and the knife that stabbed me before.

Looking through the slit, I see Trent’s eyes.

“Morning, Keegan. How you doing?” He asks with a cackle, and I narrow my eyes.

“Where's Thrash?” I ask bitterly, and Trent shrugs.

“He said I could 'take care' of you for a while.” His voice turns devious, and my eyes widen.

“You know Thrash wants me alive, right?” I say nervously, and Trent raises his eyebrow.

“Funny, he never mentioned that to me.” he says, then he pushes a button.

Before I can step back, a knife jams into my calf, and I groan, falling against the wall.

I immediately stand back up, just as a blade slices where I was only seconds ago.

Trent chuckles from the other side of the door.

“Looks like you know where most of the traps are, even though you can't see. I’m impressed. But you still don't know where some of them are.” He says, and my eyebrow raises.

“Wait, what? What do you mean-”

A clank makes me look down just as a shot of electricity runs through my body.

I jolt, and fall to the floor.

As I lay groaning, Trent laughs.

“Ooh, this is fun!! Let's, see, what should I hurt you with next…..” He mutters, and my eyes widen.

“Trent, what the hell is wrong with you, you psycho?” I grumble, and Trent stops, then giggles.

“I guess having to work under you morons for seven years just finally got to me.” He responds, then he snickers.

“Guess I'll tase you again.” He says, and my eyes widen.

Another jolt runs through me, and I convulse on the floor, my teeth clenched tight as the voltage slowly increases.

Trent starts to chuckle again, and I scream as the volts echo in my head.

It suddenly stops, and I catch my breath, my body still shuddering.

Then I hear Trent chuckle, and I take a breath.

“What...what's so funny….you ass….” I pant, and Trent snickers.

“Oh, I just figured out how I’m gonna kill you.” He says, then a click makes my eyes go wide.

Suddenly a blade pierces my chest, protruding all the way through from the floor.

I gasp, eyes wide.

Choking, I feel the wet warmth of blood quickly creeping over my chest.

My breath shakes, then I hear a second chuckle.

“So. Russ.”

The light disappears, and Thrash’s voice travels through.

“Looks like your friends’ rescue mission is fruitless. You'll be dead before they reach you,” he says, and I go to say something, but no sound comes out as I choke on the metallic taste of blood filling my mouth.

Unable to move, tears run down my face as blood drips from my chin.

The slit in the door slams shut, and I close my eyes.

My body relaxes, and I cry as I picture Logan’s pained face when he finds me.

I failed Kick and David.

I couldn't stay alive to protect our brother....

But I can't change it now.

All I see is darkness as the pain intensifies.

Dark red blood has soaked through my shirt completely, and agony courses through my weak body.

A faint shaky breath escapes my lips as my heartbeat slows to a stop.

Chapter Text

Spike

Setting the charge, I step back a little, then press the activation. The door flies off its hinges, and I draw my gun. Jumping in the doorway, I raise it at the ready.

“Let Keegan go, Trent!” I shout at the man standing at the console, but my eyes widen when he turns around.

I almost drop my gun to the floor in shock.

“Th….Thrash…?” I utter quietly, and he smirks.

“Well. If it isn't Spike. Nice to see you again, buddy.” He says casually, and I meet him with disbelieving eyes.

“No... You died... Keegan told us what really happened, and how you and Heath died-”

“He only thought I died. He never checked to see if I actually did. He left a Marine behind, Spike.” He says with a distinct tone, and I grit my teeth.

“Where is he?” I growl, and Trent steps forward from behind Thrash.

“Honestly, you probably don't want to know.” He says with an evil smirk, and my eyes narrow.

“WHERE IS HE?!” I yell, and Thrash pulls his gun.

“You won't live long enough to find out.” He says coolly, and my eyes widen.

Then I take a deep breath and raise my gun.

Thrash rolls his eyes.

“What are you going to do, Spike? Shoot your Captain?” He asks, and I shake my head.

“No. I’m getting rid of the other pain in the ass in this room.”

Spinning to Trent, his eyes widen.

“Spike, wait!” He shouts, but I shake my head.

“It's way too late for that, Trent. You and Davis killed Hesh, Slate, Sam, and Cameron. And you killed Gavin. My best friend. I won't let you live any longer.” I state harshly, then I pull the trigger.

The bullet flies towards him, and with no time to react, Trent’s wide eyes meet mine as he falls back, shot through the heart.

Turning slowly to Thrash, I narrow my eyes.

“Now, where is Sergeant Russ?” I ask, and Thrash raises his eyebrow.

“Oh yes. I forgot he's no longer Corporal or an irrational young man. Now he leads his friends into battle as Sergeant, giving everything to protect them, but yet he still managed to mess that up.” he says with a smirk.

I clench my fists and resist every urge telling me to shoot him in the head.

“Thrash, just tell me where my friend is,” I demand through gritted teeth.

Thrash glances to the side, to a metal door in the wall.

“See for yourself, Spike,” he says nonchalantly as he turns to a panel on the console. He pushes a button, and the door slowly opens.

I raise my eyebrow at the thickness of it, almost seven inches.

As it fully swings open, I see an unmoving body lying on the ground, and my eyes widen. Dropping my gun and sprinting to him, I fall to my knees next to Keegan.

My eyes fill with fear when I see the blood-stained blade piercing his chest, and the various other injuries covering his body.

Spinning to Thrash, I narrow my eyes.

YOU DID THIS!!” I yell furiously, and Thrash shrugs.

“Karma has a harsh way of dealing things out.” He retorts, and my eyes burn with rage.

Picking up my gun, I breathe heavily.

“You bastard. You're no Captain of mine.” I growl, pulling the trigger.

An uncharacteristic look of surprise crosses Thrash’s face, then the bullet splits his skull, dropping him to the ground.

I sigh and then look at the console. Seeing a button, I push it, but it just turns on the screen. I frown and push another. A blade appears on the wall of the cell, and my eyes widen. Turning back, I bite my lip and press a third button. I hear a clank, and I turn back to see the knife retract from Keegan’s chest.

Running back over, I drop to my knees. Putting my hand on his bloody shoulder, I feel tears welling in my eyes.

“K...Keegan?” I say quietly, and my chest tightens when no movement or sound comes from him.

I put my hand above his mouth to check if he's breathing, but no air comes out.

Fear rising in me, I put my ear to his chest, and my soul shatters when I find no heartbeat.

Slowly lifting my head, I gaze down at Keegan’s face.

“No…..nonono…” I shake my head, the tears that were waiting on the rim of my eye now dripping down my cheeks as I stare at the young boy I met those many years ago.

The young man who risked then almost lost his life, just to give us the extra help we needed.

The most determined kid I had ever met, who became my best friend.

I lift him up in my arms, his body limp in my hold. Turning and leaning against the wall, I close my eyes, hugging Keegan closer.

“No...please, God, no…” I mutter quietly, my shoulders starting to shake.

I hear footsteps running down the hall, then a voice at the door.

“Spike! Did you find-”

I look up with pained, tear-filled eyes to see Logan staring at me wide-eyed, Merrick and Cody behind him.

Logan’s eyes are glued to Keegan, and his breath becomes short.

“K...Keegan…” He murmurs, then he drops his gun, clattering to the floor, and runs over to me. He drops to his knees, then looks up at me.

Falling next to me against the wall, he pulls Keegan from my arms. Holding him tight, he stares at him with wide eyes.

“No...No, Keegan, please!” He cries, then he lays him down on the floor and starts CPR, frantically trying to breathe life into his best friend, his brother.

I turn to Merrick with sad eyes and slowly stand up. Walking over, I stumble a little, feeling dizzy.

Cody catches me and holds me up.

“Spike, what is it?” He asks quickly, and I frown, then glance to the side towards Thrash’s body.

Merrick and Cody both follow my gaze, and their eyes immediately widen. Merrick’s head swivels back to me.

“Thrash?! But I thought he-”

I nod slowly.

“I did too, but turns out he didn't, and he came back with a vendetta against Keegan for not helping him as well as Bolt. He...he was the one who did this.” I mutter dismally, and Cody’s eyes widen.

Merrick glances over to see Trent’s body, then back up at me with a scowl.

“And that piece of shit had nothing to do with it?” He asks somewhat sarcastically, and I shrug lightly.

“Maybe? I don't know. Probably. I just-” I shake my head, more tears cascading down my face.

I turn to see Logan still trying to resuscitate Keegan, and I bite my lip in pain as I watch.

He cries as he pushes down on his chest, then leans down to send breath into Keegan’s lungs.

“Please, Keegan….Please…..don't leave me! Don't leave me! I NEED YOU!!!” He screams, and I feel more tears running down my face.

Logan’s shoulders shake as he sobs.

“KEEGAN!!!!!”


 

 

Keegan

“KEEGAN!!”

I groan, and slowly open my eyes to see Hesh kneeling over me, staring at me with wide eyes.

I blink a few times, then stare into his brown eyes.

“David..?” I say, my voice quiet and hoarse. His eyes are wide as he nods.

I slowly sit up, almost falling back from the immense pain shooting through my body. Hesh catches me, holding my shoulder, and he sits me up.

I take a heavy breath, then look up at him.

“David, what...what happened?” I ask, then my eyes widen as he hangs his head.

“Wait….” The realization hits me like a train, and I feel my throat close up.

“...Am I dead?” I croak out, my voice catching on the last word.

David squeezes his eyes shut, then raises his head up to me. Opening his eyes, I see his light brown is full of pain and sorrow.

“Keegan, I’m so sorry.” He murmurs, and I feel tears in my eyes.

I look around, and I see we're in the woods, and I’m leaning against a bank of dirt. My eyebrow raises as I recognize where we are.

“This...this is where Merrick and I first met you and Logan…” I remark slowly, and David nods.

“Yes. It is. Now come on.” He stands up, then offers me his hand. I grab his wrist, and he lifts me to my feet. I meet him with confused eyes.

“What do you want me to do? What do I do now?” I ask, and Hesh sighs.

“Just….listen to me.” He says, and I nod. He starts to walk through the woods a bit, and I follow him. As I do, my head starts to hurt, and I groan, stopping.

Hesh turns around.

“Keegan?” he asks, and I flinch.

“I….my head hurts….” I groan, and Hesh’s eyes widen.

He grabs my hand and drags me over to sit on a log, sun shining through the leaves above to create mottled shadows.

I hold my head in my hands, and Hesh holds my shoulders.

“Keegan, I need you to listen to me very, very carefully.” He orders, and I nod, the pain disappearing for a moment.

He takes a deep breath.

“What you're feeling is Logan trying to bring you back. I know it hurts. Trust me, the same thing happened to me. But...I was already gone.” he says sadly, then the despair in his voice disappears.

“You still have a chance, Keegan. You can still protect Logan. You can still live for him. You just need to focus.” He says, and I nod, closing my eyes.

“Wha...how?” I ask quickly, and I hear David sigh.

“You need to let me go.” He says, and my eyes shoot open.

“WHAT?!” I yell, and David nods.

“Just focus on Logan. Please. You can't stay with me when you have a chance to live. Protect our brother. Forget about me, Keegan! YOU NEED TO LET GO!” He shouts, and I feel tears stinging my cheeks, but I nod.

A tear runs down my face as I send one last message to Hesh.

“...I love you…” I murmur, and I hear David sigh as his hands on my shoulders tighten.

"..I love you, too..." He says sadly, then everything turns white.

I feel David’s hands on my shoulders slowly slipping away.

“Just watch out for Logan, Keegan. I'll be watching over you.”

His voice fades away as tears run down my face, then I hear a shout.

“KEEGAN, PLEASE!!!”

I feel a pressure on my chest, then a breath is sent into my mouth. Another two pushes on my chest are followed by a sigh.

“Come on, Keegan….please…” I hear the broken voice say.

Logan….

I focus on just him, picturing his face in my head.

The white starts to fade away, and as another flow of air fills my lungs, I suddenly gasp, coughing.

Another gasp comes from next to me, and I blink my eyes open, taking short, faint breaths. My blurred vision makes out a figure over me, and as it clears, I see those bright blue wide eyes.

Logan stares down at me with concern, and as I take another breath, I meet his eyes.

“..Logan..” I breathe out, and his expression of concern washes over with relief.

“Keegan…” He whispers, and I nod slightly.

Tears drip from Logan’s eyes onto me, and he smiles, then he collapses on me with a tight hug. I cringe from pain, but weaky reach up to hold him.

I feel another person next to me, and I barely turn my head to see Spike staring at me with an exasperated look.

Spike puts his hand on my shoulder and gives a slight grin.

“You prick, you scared the shit out of me.” He says, and I laugh, then cough again, blood spitting from my mouth.

Logan’s eyes widen, and he looks up at Merrick.

"We need to help him! He’ll bleed out soon!” He shouts, and I cringe.

“Logan…” I groan, and Logan’s head swivels to me.

“What?” He asks quickly, and I clench my teeth from pain.

“Just….don't think about that. Please.” I manage, and his eyes widen, then he nods.

“Come on…” He says, leaning down so I can put my arm around his shoulder. It hurts like all hell to do so, but I grit through it.

Merrick steps down next to us, and he looks at Logan.

“Hey, let me carry him.” He says and I raise my eyebrow.

Logan looks from Merrick to me, then back, then nods.

Merrick picks me up slowly, and I flinch from pain as his hand touches my cracked shoulder where the blade sliced through. He frowns.

“Sorry.” He mutters as he lifts me and turns towards the door. I hear Cody, Spike and Logan quietly talking, but I stare up at Merrick.

He smirks as he looks down at me.

“Feel familiar? This is just like when I saved your ass all those years ago.” He says with a light chuckle, and I manage a slight grin.

Then it fizzles, and I bite my lip.

“Thomas….thank you…” I utter softly, and Merrick raises his eyebrow as he carries me out the door.

“For what?” He questions, and I take a deep breath, coughing up some of the blood still filling my mouth.

“For always being there for me,” I answer quietly, and Merrick stops, looking down at me.

Then he shakes his head with a smile as he pushes open the door with his back, walking outside.

The bright sun blinds me, so opposite to the pitch black of the room I've been in for what seemed like forever.

Squeezing my eyes shut, I hear Merrick sigh.

“Keegan, don't worry. Logan and I will get you all patched up, and then we can chalk this all up to a bad day.” He comforts as I feel myself being set down in a truck.

Taking a deep breath, I feel another course of blood wet my shirt, and I choke a little, coughing again.

Opening my eyes slightly, I meet Merrick’s.

“It might take a bit more than that, Thomas….and it'll take a lot of chalk to mark this day,” I mutter, blood running down my chin.

Logan jumps in the back with us, and he lifts my head up onto his leg as he stares at me with wide eyes.

“Just hang on, Keegan.” He mutters, then he leans down a little so that only I can hear.

“I know David helped you. He told me. He helped me too. He's always watching over us, Keegan. But I don't want him to have to help you back again. So just stay alive for me.” He reveals, and I nod slowly, then smirk slightly.

“Does… does staying alive mean staying conscious? …Because I don't think I can manage that right now…” I murmur as my voice trails off.

Logan puts his hand on my shoulder and hugs me tighter.

“As long as you don't die, Keegan. I can't bear to lose you again….” He cries, and I raise my hand to put mine over his, squeezing it tightly.

He looks down at me with a smile, and I grin weakly.

My hand drops from his as I stare into his bright blue eyes, feeling Logan’s tight, loving embrace as he holds onto me with his life.

Chapter Text

Trent

Groaning, I slowly sit up.

Damn, that hurt.

Looking down, I unzip my jacket to look at the bullet caught in the vest I wear.

Taking a deep breath, I lean back against the console. Glancing to the side, I see Thrash’s dead body, blood splattered on the console and floor around him from the hole in his skull.

I frown. So I guess that ally is gone.

Looking over to where we had kept Keegan, I see the large blood stains on the floor, but no sign of his body anywhere.

The Ghosts rescued him. What's left of them, anyway.

I smirk, and painfully stand up. I sigh heavily, and pick up the radio on my belt.

Flicking it on, I call out,

“Michael….”

The radio crackles, and I hear his voice come through.

“Trent! Ya still alive! Whaddaya know.” He jokes, and I smirk.

“Alright, you Boston bastard. The Ghosts rescued Keegan, and Thrash is dead.” I explain, and I hear Michael sigh.

“Damn. He was our most powerful soldier.” he mutters, and I nod, then clear my throat. Michael clicks his tongue.

“Sorry. Anyway, whaddaya want, buddy?” He asks, and I smirk.

“Get the soldiers together. We have quite an attack to plan.” I order, and I can almost see Michael’s grin through the radio.

“Copy that, bro.”


 

 

TWO MONTHS LATER

 

21, March, 2028

1100 hours

Cody

I sit in the communications room, exhaustedly flipping through the channels. My chin rests in my hand, my arm propped up on the table. As I tire, my eyes half close.

These damn screens are almost drilled into my brain now.

After almost two months, we haven't seen any Federation activity. At all. And that has made Logan especially suspicious, and now he's having either me or Merrick on the control panel at all times.

Dropping my head with a heavy sigh, I groan.

I can't stand this. Merrick can deal with this.

As I push my chair back, a sudden crackle comes through the radio next to me. I swing my head around, and raise my eyebrow. It crackles again, and then I hear a small noise.

“...Icx..for...ghtu...sfdie…”

I turn back around and pick it up, then turn up the volume, and fiddle with the signal. Hesitating for a moment, I frown.

“Is there anyone there?” I say into it, then another crackle comes through.

“This is…-ton company….-der Jackson…..Is there….-ldiers out there?” The voice asks, and I frown.

Turning up the signal, I hold the radio closer.

“Repeat, who is this?” I ask again, curiosity increasing. The voice comes through again, but much clearer.

“This is Corporal West of the Boston company, under Commander Jackson. Is this the recon team of San Diego?” He asks, and my eyes widen.

There are still other soldiers out there? Shaking myself out of my daze, I click the radio.

“This is Sergeant Cody Brandon, Ghost Three-six. Yes, we are the San Diego Recon team, or what's left of it.” I respond, and I hear the soldier sigh in relief, then laugh.

“It's them! It's the Ghosts!” He yells away from the radio, and I hear more voices in the background. I raise my eyebrow.

“Corporal, stay on the line for a moment.” I say, and the soldier agrees.

“Yes, sir.”

I set the radio down, keeping it on, then I run down the hall, sprinting towards the main room. I burst in, and Keegan and Logan jolt in surprise, and Merrick and Spike look up.

“Cody! What is it?” Merrick asks, and I catch my breath, then look up to meet their eyes with excitement.

“There's more soldiers out there!” I shout, and Keegan stiffens up.

“There's more Federation soldiers?!” He exclaims, and I shake my head.

“NO! Friendlies! In Boston! A company of soldiers contacted us, the ‘San Diego Recon Team’.” I explain, and Logan raises his eyebrow.

“Recon Team?” He asks curiously. “Since when are we a recon team?” He wonders, and I drop my shoulders.

That doesn't matter! Come on!” I stress, then turn back down towards the communications room.

Keegan and Logan immediately follow me, with Spike and Merrick right on their heels. Running in, I grab the radio off the console, and turn around to face the others. I click the comlink.

“West! West, are you still there?” I command, and a voice comes through.

“Right here, sir.”

Keegan’s eyes widen. I nod.

“Good. Now, I have the rest of the Ghosts here with me right now. I need to know, why did you contact us?” I ask, and another voice says something, and West responds to them inaudibly to me. Then his voice is closer.

“Sir, my commander would like to speak with you.” He says, and I nod.

“Put him through.”

An exchange is heard over the radio, and I look up to catch Merrick’s curious eye. I shrug, then smile.

“Is this the Ghost Recon team out of San Diego?” An older, more authoritative voice asks, and I take a breath.

“Yes. This is Ghost Three-Six, with Ghosts Two-Two, Four-Seven, Two-Three, and Six-four. What was it you wanted?” I ask, and the voice clears his throat.

“I am Commander Brad Jackson. Boston Company. We had heard that there were still some soldiers left on the West Coast. Specifically, a group of the Ghosts from the Santa Monica fort. After we heard about the attack, we tried to reach you.” He says, and Keegan steps forward.

“But...that attack was five months ago…” He says, and Jackson sighs.

“I know. We tried to contact you immediately, but the Federation had jammed any communication of any kind. We sent scouts out West to try to find you, but they were found by the Federation and killed. I lost a lot of good soldiers to the Federation.” Jackson says forcefully.

I meet Logan’s eyes, and he bites his lip, knowing the meaning of the exchange.

Jackson continues.

“After tirelessly searching for you, we finally got a ping in Colorado Springs from a control center with the friendly signal. So we contacted it, and now we have you on the line.” He says, and I take a deep breath.

“Jackson, why did you contact us?” I ask slowly, and Jackson clears his throat.

“We know that you are the only friendly soldiers left in the Western part of the country. We want you to come to West Point military base. It's safe here, and you'll have the protection of the soldiers, as well as all the resources you might need.” He says, and Keegan’s eyes widen.

“Wait, did you say West Point?” He asks quickly, and a hesitation from Jackson.

“Um, yes. Why?” He asks, and I raise my head to look at Keegan.

His eyes are wide, then he shakes his head, and lets out a breath.

“Nothing,...nothing.” He murmurs.

I look at Merrick, who steps forward.

“Jackson, you're offering us shelter at your base?” he asks, and Jackson laughs.

“Of course! Besides, having some Ghosts around would certainly put the men in a better place. You know, more experienced soldiers and such.” He explains, and everyone exchanges glances. Spike nods.

“The Federation knows our position here. We'd be much safer at the base. Plus, we'd have all the resources to launch a counter-attack if needed.” He suggests, and Logan nods.

“I agree with Spike. We should head to Boston.” He says, and I sigh, then lift the radio up.

“Jackson, we'll be there tomorrow by 0500 hours.” I say, and Jackson sighs.

“Copy that, Sergeant. We await your arrival. Jackson out.” He says, and the radio line fizzles out.

I set it down, then look up at the Ghosts. They all have expressions of surprise, excitement, and concern on their faces. Logan smiles widely.

“There's more soldiers out there! I can't believe it!” He says excitedly, but Keegan frowns, crossing his arms.

“Logan, remember what happened last time when we thought we could trust the other soldiers we found? Your brother died!” He voices harshly, and we all stop, staring at him with wide eyes.

Logan stares at Keegan, opening his mouth to say something, but no words coming out. A tear runs down his face, and Keegan’s eyes soften.

“Logan, I…I didn't mean it like that, I….” He stutters.

Logan squeezes his eyes shut, another tear rolling down his cheek. He bites his lip, then shoves Keegan out of the way as he runs out of the room.

Keegan’s eyes widen.

“Logan!….”

He shakes his head, then sprints after him.

“LOGAN, WAIT!!” He shouts, and as he runs out the room, I sigh, then look up at Merrick and Spike.

Merrick takes a deep breath, crossing his arms.

“You know, Keegan wasn't wrong. It all went to shit when we found Davis,” He states, but Spike shakes his head.

“I think we're safe with this one. The Federation never got anywhere near Boston, which is why their base is so safe. Even though we faced a problem in the past, I think this will work.” He says, and I close my eyes, then drop my shoulders.

“You're right. We're going. We can't just keep being on our own. With the Federation still out there, and the fact that they know our position here, we're high at risk. So we make some allies, and have our safety as we do,” I explain, and Merrick looks over his shoulder out the door.

“This may be a bit hard for Keegan…” He mutters, and I sigh.

Keegan…. It's gonna be hard for him. He doesn't want to put Logan at risk, and he's also going back to the place he initially became a soldier. I don't know how that will affect him, but I just know that this will be a big change.

 

Keegan

I run down the hall, hearing Logan’s footsteps ahead of me.

“Logan, stop!” I shout, but no reply.

I grit my teeth, and push myself to run faster. As I round a corner, I see Logan about to open the door to his room, but he looks up as I run down.

Before I can stop running, I crash into Logan. I stumble back, then stare at Logan with pained eyes.

Putting my hands up, I shake my head.

“Logan, I-”

He shoves me away and closes his eyes.

“Keegan, just leave me alone! ” He shouts angrily, but with mostly pain in his voice.

I sigh, then grab Logan’s shoulder as he starts to turn.

“Logan, I didn't mean to say that. I just….”

Hanging my head, I close my eyes tight.

“I just can't risk losing you, too.” I choke out, my voice catching in my throat.

Logan’s eyes widen, and he turns to face me completely.

“Keegan…”

I raise my head to meet his eyes, and a tear drips from my chin. Logan sighs, and his shoulder drop.

“I get it. I don't want to lose you either. So I understand your skepticism about just joining up with these soldiers. But I think we can actually trust them, Keegan. They were never even reached by the Federation. Not even close. Their base is one of the safest. So if we want to keep each other safe…..the best way to do it is to go there.” He says slowly, and I sigh, then nod.

I pull him into a hug, and he leans his head on my shoulder.

“I’m sorry, Logan. I didn't mean it.” I say, and he nods, his head still pressed into my shoulder.

“I know you didn't, Keegan. I know.” He murmurs, then he pulls away.

A warm smile reappears on his face, and he thumbs towards our rooms.

“C’mon. We should get our gear ready.” He says, and I nod with a grin.

“To Boston it is.”

Chapter Text

18 hours later


 

 

22, March, 2028

0500 hours

Keegan

As the chopper starts to touch down in Boston, I look over the land.

Taking a breath, I close my eyes, remembering when I first came here when I was fourteen. Begging to be a soldier. I spent two years of my life here, then joined the Marines.

This is where it all began.

I sigh, and glance over at Logan, who sits with his legs hanging over the edge of the open door. He looks around, observing the massive base below us.

A hand on my shoulder startles me, and I turn to look into Spike’s grey eyes.

“Bring back memories?” He asks, nodding down towards the base. I shrug.

“Sort of. I mean, I remember everything that happened here, and now seeing it again…. Even though it was 15 years ago, it feels like it was yesterday.” I explain, and Spike nods.

“I get it, Keegan. But think of it this way. This is where it all began. And now….it's as if you're coming home.” He says, and I frown.

Home….. No. Logan and David are my home. The Marines was my home. Being a Ghost is my home.

The heli touches down and I look to see a Commander standing near the edge of the landing platform, two soldiers next to him.

As soon as the runners hit the ground, Logan jumps down, and looks around again in awe. This base is about five times as big as the one in Santa Monica.

Hopping down, my sniper rifle strapped tightly on my back, I glance up to see the fighter jets flying above, and as I listen, the constant chattering of radios, the sound of convoys, tanks, and marching soldiers fills my ears.

The blades of the chopper slow to a stop, and Merrick and Cody jump out of the cockpit. They run around to Logan, Spike and I, then we all walk over to the Commander.

As we get closer, I can see he's about forty-five, with sharp cut brown hair. He sports a smile that is welcoming, not forced. Cody walks ahead, and stops in front of the Commander.

“Jackson, I presume?” He asks, and the Commander nods.

“That's right. You must be Cody Brandon.” He says, and Cody nods. Holding out his hand, he shakes it, then Jackson looks around at us.

“So you're the Ghosts. Well, I've heard quite a bit about all of you.” He says, stepping towards us. He looks at Merrick with a smile. Merrick holds out his hand.

“Thomas Merrick.” He says, and Jackson nods. Spike holds out his hand.

“Spike Cannis.”

Logan grins, rubbing the back of his head.

“Logan Walker.” He says, and Jackson smirks.

“It's good to see such a young soldier in the Ghosts.” He says, then he looks at me.

“You too, son. You're a pretty young soldier, but you seem to have the face of an experienced man.” He states, and I nod slightly.

“I should, sir. I've been a soldier for 15 years.” I say, and he raises his eyebrow.

"And you're how old?” He asks, and I take a breath.

“29, sir.” I answer, and his eyes widen.

“What's your name, kid?” He asks, and I meet his eyes.

“Keegan. Keegan Russ.”

Jackson’s eyes widen, and he stares at me.

“Keegan Russ?” He asks, shocked, and I raise my eyebrow, then glance to the side to give Logan a confused look. He shakes his head, shrugging his shoulders.

Looking back to Jackson, I nod.

“Um...yeah...that's my name…” I confirm slowly, but Jackson's expression still remains shocked. Then he breaks out in a smile.

“Private Russ, 2015, top marksman?” He asks, and my eyes widen, then a grin crosses my face.

“Yeah. That's me.” I say, and Jackson smiles, then chuckles.

“Well! It's certainly a surprise to see you here! But it is nice to have the prodigy back.” He says, and I raise my eyebrow as he turns around and walks with Merrick, Cody, and Spike.

Turning to face Logan, I sport a look of confusion.

“Prodigy?” I wonder, then a hand on my shoulder makes me turn.

A man about 25 with short blonde hair looks at me with an enthusiastic grin.

“I’m Jim Carney. You can call me Jimmy. And you're the prodigy graduate! The youngest soldier ever to graduate West Point!” He exclaims, and I take a deep breath.

“Well, I mean…” I start, but Jimmy sighs.

“Sorry. It's just….there's a lot of guys here who wanted to be just like you.” He says, and I snap my head up, eyebrow raised.

“Wait, what? Why?” I ask, and Jimmy smirks.

“Because you were only fourteen when you got in here. Most fourteen year olds haven't even started high school! And then you graduated the best military academy at sixteen years old, at the top of your class! You're a legend!” He says excitedly, and my eyes widen.

Logan leans his arm on my shoulder with a grin.

“Man, I never thought I'd see the day when you became a role model, Keegan. You're just too….Keegan.” He mocks, and I glance to the side to glare at him.

“Thanks.” I mutter, and Logan smiles innocently.

“No problem.”

Jimmy gestures towards us.

“Come on. There's someone who'll want to meet you.” He says, and Logan glances over at me. I shrug, and follow Jimmy towards what looks like a mess tent of some sorts. A few soldiers are standing next to it, talking. Jimmy looks over his shoulder at us.

“Corporal West was the one who first contacted your outpost. I thought he might want to meet you in person.” He says, and I smile.

Jimmy looks back ahead, then calls out.

“David!” He shouts, and I stop when I hear the name.

One of the soldiers, about my age, turns around, and my eyes widen.

His short buzzed brown hair, handsome face, cocky grin…..

Logan puts his hand on my shoulder, and squeezes it tight.

“Is that…” He whispers disbelievingly, and I shake my head.

“It can't be….but he looks just like him.” I mutter, and the soldier runs over.

“Hey! Are you two some of the recon team?” He asks excitedly, then his smile disappears when he sees our expressions.

“What? What is it?” He asks worriedly, and I glance over at Jimmy.

“Hey, Jim, can we talk to West for a minute, alone?” I ask, and Jim nods slowly, then walks over to join the others.

West meets our eyes.

“Uh...what is it?” He asks, and I open my mouth to say something, but Logan blurts out,

“You look just like our brother!”

West’s eyebrow raises, and he switches his gaze between the two of us. Looking at me, he gives me a funny look.

“But you look nothing like him.” He says, pointing to Logan. I sigh.

“He's not really my brother. We're just such close friends and care about each other so much that it feels like he is.” I explain, and West nods understandingly.

Then he frowns.

“So, wait a minute. What do you mean I look like your brother?” He asks, and Logan bites his lip.

“Well, it was just so shocking because three months ago, our brother was shot to death-”

Logan’s voice catches as West looks at us with wide eyes.

Logan takes a deep breath and nods.

“He just looked exactly like you, and we called him Hesh, but...his name was….David….” He says slowly, and West’s eyes widen.

“Wait, what?” He asks again, and I shake my head.

“West, you're pretty much the exact image of Hesh. Same age too, by the looks of it. 29?” I ask, and David slowly nods.

He then closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.

“Okay. I understand. I’m sorry about your brother. And...I hope that I...well…..don't bring up any painful memories for you.” he says apologetically.

I shake my head, then a small smile creeps across my face.

“Actually, it's almost comforting. You know…..in a weird sort of way.” I smirk, and David laughs.

“Yeah, okay. Anyway, I don't even know your names yet.” He says, and Logan sticks out his hand.

“I’m Logan Walker. 27 years old, Ghost Six-four. Hesh was my older brother, Ghost-Six-Three.” He says, and David smiles.

“Nice to meet you, Logan.” He says, shaking his hand. Then he turns to me with a smile.

“And you?” He asks, and I grin.

“Ghost Two-Three, 29 years old. Keegan Russ.” I say, then David’s eyes widen.

“Did you say ‘Keegan Russ’?” He asks quietly, and I raise my eyebrow, a confused look crossing my face.

“Um, yes?” I say, finding it odd that this has happened yet again.

David’s eyes light up, and he grins fantastically.

“Oh my god! You're Keegan Russ !!! The youngest soldier to ever come to West Point, and graduate top of his class at sixteen!!! You're the best long range marksman there is!!” He exclaims, and I bite my lip, then slowly grin.

Rubbing the back of my head, I catch my sniper rifle in the corner of my eye, strapped comfortingly to my back.

“Yeah, I guess I did kinda make an impression. Master Sergeant Holt told me I was the best soldier he had ever-”

David raises his eyebrow.

“Holt? Keegan, he's a soldier here now!” He says, and my eyes widen.

“Wait, really?!” I shout incredulously, and David laughs.

“Yeah! He's Captain, now. He's over in B-quadrant. We're in D-quadrant right now. We can head over there a little later, but right now, how ‘bout we get some grub?” He asks, and Logan nods with a grin.

“Man, I’m starving!” He says, and I sling my arm around Logan’s shoulder.

“I agree. Let's go.”

David meets our eyes with a smile, and he leads us towards the mess tent. Over his shoulder, he smiles.

“Man, I can't wait for everyone to meet you, Keegan. Trust me, they all look up to you.” He says, and Logan elbows me.

“Hey, who woulda thought you'd be a celebrity?” He teases, and I smirk.

“Yeah. I never thought that coming back to West Point would have such a big effect.”

Looking around, and seeing all the familiar areas, I sigh, my mind holding onto the thought that I feel like I’m home.

Chapter Text

45 Minutes Later


 

 

0613 hours 

David West

As I lead Keegan and Logan through the compound, I can't help but have a smile on my face.

I can't believe that this is actually the Keegan Russ!

He's a legend.

He doesn't seem to be so fond of it, though.

I guess I would be a bit overwhelmed, too. When we were eating in the mess hall, Keegan kept getting swarmed by a bunch of the younger soldiers, asking questions and gawking at him. He seemed really uncomfortable, so I got them out of there.

Now on our way to see Captain Holt, Keegan won't stop telling Logan what he was like. I smirk, then turn around to them as we reach an outpost.

“Keegan, Captain Holt is up in the command center. Are you ready to see him?” I ask, and Keegan nods, and I see excitement in his eyes.

“Yeah.”

I smirk. Turning to the intercom, I push the button.

“Sergeant West requesting entrance.” I say, and the intercom comes back.

“West, you are authorised in.”

I turn back to Logan and Keegan with a smile.

“Come on.” I lead them in the door, and as we start up the stairs, a man my age stops me with a grin.

“David, you know you don't have to do that, right? You're allowed to just come right in.” He says with a laugh, and I smirk, then elbow him, his messy hair falling into his eyes.

“Ah, shut it, Max. We're going up to see Captain Holt. This guy here used to be his prodigy soldier.” I say, thumbing towards Keegan. Keegan awkwardly rubs the back of his head. Max looks him up and down, then smiles.

“Cap’ll be pleased, then.” He says, and I nod. Keegan and Logan follow me up the stairs, and as I open the door, they look around at all the screens and satellite images on the dashes. Twenty of our soldiers are up here, watching and monitoring for any Federation activity. Looking towards the biggest screen, I see the Captain standing with his arms crossed, staring at it.

“Do we have any intel whatsoever?” He asks, and the soldier next to him, Travis, shakes his head.

“No, sir. We haven't had any contact with the Federation in months. We don't even know where they were last.” He says.

“I do.”

A voice behind me says, and I turn to see Keegan and Logan look at each other, then at the Captain. Logan nods his head.

“We do. We were in their base two months ago. When, well,....” He catches Keegan’s eye, then looks back.

“Anyway, we know exactly where one of their bases is. Keegan figured it out.” He says, and Holt’s eyes widen.

He raises his eyebrow, then a smile breaks out on his face.

“Keegan Russ. I never thought I'd see you again.” He remarks, and Keegan walks forward to shake the Captain’s hand with a grin.

“Holt. Been a while. Good to see you.” He says, and Holt nods.

“Yeah. Thirteen years, kid. How you doing, Russ?” He asks, and Keegan shrugs his shoulders.

“Made Sergeant. Led through many battles as a Ghost.” He says, and Holt’s eyebrow raises.

“A Ghost, huh? Man, have you grown up. I see you're still sniping.” He says, gesturing to the rifle strapped to Keegan’s back. Keegan nods.

“Best marksman in the Marines.” He replies, and Holt grins.

“That's the kid I taught. I bet you've made a great leader.” Holt compliments, and Keegan nods, then his voice drops a little as he frowns.

“But I lost many soldiers. My friends, and …..” He catches Logan’s eye.

“My brother.” His voice cracks, and Holt sighs, then puts his hand on Keegan’s shoulder.

“Russ, you're the strongest soldier I've ever seen. The most impressive kid ever, and I know that those men who died died knowing that they had lost their lives for the greatest Marine there is.” He says, and Keegan looks up with wide eyes, then grins a little.

“You know, you're still as sappy as ever.” He jokes, and Holt laughs.

“And you're just as snarky as ever. Come on. Let's go catch up.” He says and Keegan catches Logan’s eye, who gives him a nod. Keegan follows Holt, laughing with him, and I smile. Logan crosses his arms.

“Haven't seen Keegan that happy in a while.” He says, and I nod.

“Nor has the Captain acted that way in a while. It's good that they got to see each other again.” I respond, and Logan nods.

He sighs, then turns around. I raise my eyebrow.

“Logan what is it?” I ask as I follow him down the stairs. Logan shakes his head and stuffs his hands in the pockets of his jacket.

“Nothing. It's just…” He looks up at me.

“Keegan is the only family I have left now. Seeing him makes me happy, but also...it just reminds me of how happy he was when he, Hesh and I were together.” He says, and I frown.

“Your brother...David….He was shot?” I ask, and Logan bites his lip as we walk, then nods. He turns to me, and I see his blue eyes are sad.

”Can we talk? Like, just the two of us? I just need to let you understand all that happened.” He says, and I glance around, then nod.

“C’mon. We can go to the barracks. That's where you'll be staying. Same barracks as me, actually.” I say, and Logan nods. I sigh, then put my hand on his shoulder.

“Don't worry, Logan. You can tell me anything.” I say as we walk back to D-quadrant. Logan nods.

“Good. There's a lot to tell.”


 

 

3 hours later

 

0927 hours

Logan

David stares at me with wide eyes after hearing our entire story. Wiping my nose, I blink back tears.

“I lost my dad and my brother, then I almost lost Keegan. I can't….I can't take any more pain.” I mutter, and David sighs, then puts his arm around my shoulder.

“I’m sorry, Logan. All the shit you had to go through, along with Keegan’s pain. You're still young, and no one your age should have to deal with that.” He comforts, and I nod slowly.

“That's what Hesh said….that he was sorry that I had to deal with that.” I sniffle, and David bites his lip, then sighs.

“If you want me to leave you alone because it hurts, then I can…” He says slowly, and I turn to him with sad eyes.

“I mean….I dunno. It's weird. I miss Hesh, and seeing you kinda hurts, but at the same time it's really comforting.” I explain, and David sighs.

“How bout this. I leave you alone for a while so you can think things through. Is that okay?” He asks, and I hesitate, then nod.

“Yeah. Thanks, David.” I say with a slight grin. He smiles, and pats my shoulder.

“No problem.” David stands up and walks away, and I sigh, leaning forward. I rest my chin in my hand, my arm propped on my leg.

I miss him…..

Having David around is kind of like having Hesh back, but it's not the same.

I can't deal with it.

Maybe I should stay away from David for a while.

Actually, even though we just began anew here, I can't deal with anyone right now.

Standing up, I walk out of the barracks and outside. I start to walk away, then a voice behind me makes me turn.

“Logan!”

Keegan runs up, and he smiles at me.

“Logan! Good to see you! Sorry I haven't been around, I was talking to Holt and some other soldiers.” He says with a grin, then it disappears when he sees my depressed expression.

“Logan, what's wrong?” He asks with concern, and I shake my head.

“I just…..I kinda want to be left alone, okay?” I murmur, and Keegan raises his eyebrow, then slowly nods.

“Um, okay….I guess I'll see you later then.” He says quietly, then he turns and walks away.

After about twenty feet, he looks over his shoulder with a sad frown, then keeps walking.

I cross my arms, lightly hugging myself, then walk towards the edge of the camp, climbing the stairs to the wall. Leaning against it, I look out towards the ocean, sighing.

Dammit. Why can't I get rid of these painful feelings?

Seeing David West, seeing Keegan happy, those should make me feel good. But instead they just stab at me inside, and I don't know why.

Maybe it's because of how much David reminds me of my David. His face, his hair, his smile, his voice, his caring persona, his leadership as a soldier. It feels so familiar, but at the same time, it feels so far away.

Maybe it's also how Keegan’s been acting. He's just more irrational, and seems like he's angry sometimes, and could blow up at anything. He blew up at me when I mentioned Thrash, and I couldn't even go near him for a good 4 hours.

Shaking my head, I close my eyes, smelling the salt air and feeling the cool ocean breeze on my face. A tear runs down my face. Why is it so painful? I just want it to go away.


 

 0929 hours

Keegan

Walking over towards the barracks, I see Merrick and Spike talking outside. Spike looks up, and smiles when he sees me.

“Keegan! Where have you been?” He asks, and I sigh.

“There's something wrong with Logan. I don't know what, but I just feel like he's really unhappy. He's avoiding me and David West.” I explain. Merrick raises his eyebrow.

“West? Why is he avoiding West?” He asks, and I sigh.

“I’m surprised you didn't notice. West looks exactly like Hesh.” I say, and both Spike and Merrick’s eyes widen. I nod.

“It's weird. I mean, it's comforting, but at the same time, I think it's hurting Logan.” I reveal, and Merrick sighs.

“Keegan, he needs you more than anything. You're his brother. If anyone can comfort him right now, it's you.” He says, and I nod.

“Now I just need to find him.” I mutter.

“I know where he is.” A voice behind me says, and I turn to see Jimmy walking over.

He thumbs behind him.

“I saw him over by the east wall. Just sort of standing there. I dunno.” He says, and I nod.

“Thanks, Jimmy.”

Looking over at Spike and Merrick, I sigh.

“I’m gonna go and see him. I'll be back a little later.” I say, then I turn and run towards the wall.

I hope he's okay. I don't know what it is, but he seems unhappy.

And it looked like he was trying to avoid me. I don't know why.

What did I do?

Is he mad at me?

Or is it about David…

Sighing, I see the wall, and someone standing against the wall. Running up the stairs, I see Logan leaning against the wall, looking out at the ocean. I slow down, and bite my lip.

“Logan?” I ask quietly, and he tenses, but stares straight ahead. I frown and walk closer.

“Logan, what is it?” I ask, and Logan sighs, then turns to me. His eyes are pained and sad, and I sigh. Logan shakes his head.

“Keegan, I told you, just leave me alone. I can't deal with this right now.” He says, and I raise my eyebrow.

“Can't deal with what? Logan, you can talk to me!” I express, and Logan closes his eyes, fists clenching.

“I can't deal with how I feel! Seeing David again in a sense, and the way you've been acting!” He says, and I raise my eyebrow.

“What do you mean? How have I been acting?” I ask defensively, and Logan meets my eyes.

“You're so on edge! Ever since Thrash took you, you've been unstable and just erratic!” He expresses, and my eyes widen when he mentions Thrash, then narrow.

“What do you mean, ‘unstable’?! Logan, I am completely fine! You know, Merrick said the same thing last week! I’M FINE!! I don't need my little brother harping on me! All the Ghosts always did that because they thought I couldn't handle myself! I don't need you to start on it, too!! ” I yell harshly, and Logan throws his hands up in the air angrily.

“See what I mean?! I say one tiny thing and you blow up on me! I’m not saying you're not capable of handling yourself, it's just...last time you went nuts, you almost got yourself killed and…..I can't lose you, alright? Hesh went nuts and he was okay, but...he died, Keegan, and I can't watch you die, too.”

He takes a deep breath, then looks up at me.

“Now leave me alone. I don't...I just want to work things out alone.” Logan mutters, and I bite my lip, then step towards him a little.

“Logan….I...I’m sorry. I just..” I sigh, and shake my head.

“Shit, I never meant to hurt you...I’m sorry. I guess I'll leave you alone, then.” I say solemnly. Logan nods, then starts to walk away.

“Just...don't follow me, okay? Please. I can't….I don't know what I'll do if you do.” He says with a slightly harsh tone, and I raise my eyebrow, then grit my teeth.

“What, Logan? What are you going to do? Are you going to kill me? Like you killed your father? YOU shot him! Are you going to kill me, too?! GO AHEAD!! DO IT!! Then at least I'll be out of this shit hole and with David!” I shout aggressively, and Logan spins around, his wide eyes full of pain and rage.

“IS THAT WHAT YOU THINK?! That I killed my father?! That I want to kill you?! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU WOULD EVER SAY THAT!!” He yells upsetly, then takes a deep breath.

“If..if you really think that that's what really happened when....when....that day, then I don't see the point in staying here. Family wouldn't EVER do that. Not brothers. At least DAVID wouldn't.”

He shakes his head, clenching his fist.

Logan looks up to glare at me.

“If that's what you really think, you ass, then I’m leaving. I have no family left, so why stay? You're not my brother.” He growls, then he spins and runs off.

I feel my heart shatter, and I reach my hand after him, wide-eyed.

“No, wait, Logan! LOGAN, I’M SORRY!!! I DIDN'T MEAN IT!!”

Tears hover on the edge of my eyes as I watch him disappear from view.

“Please…. You're the only family I have….”

I stumble back against the wall, holding my head in my hands.

“David told me to protect you…..come back…” I sob, shoulders shaking.

Tears cascade down my face as I slide down the wall to collapse to the ground.

I hurt Logan….

Why am I such a horrible friend? I've gotten so many of my friends killed, and now my best friend hates me….

The only person I really had left.

Closing my eyes and hugging my knees to my chest, my shoulder shake as I cry, tears staining my pants.

“Logan…”

Chapter Text

1002 hours

David West

I look around, walking through the D-quadrant.

Where did Keegan go? I thought he was going to meet me in the mess hall after finding Logan. I shake my head.

“RUSS?” I shout, then I hear a yell.

“WEST!”

I turn to see Jim Carney running up behind me. He stops, and catches his breath.

“I heard you're looking for Sergeant Russ?” He asks, and I nod.

“Yeah. You seen him?” I ask, and Jim shrugs.

“Sort of. Last I saw him, he was looking for the Walker kid, and I sent him over to the east wall. That's when I saw him last.” He says, and I nod.

“Thanks. Want to come with?” I ask, and Jim shrugs.

“Sure.”

We both start to run towards the east wall, and as we get closer, I can hear something like a sob. I stop Jim, and he looks over at me.

“What is it?” He asks, and I raise my eyebrow.

“Do you hear that?” I ask, and Jim listens for a moment, then frowns.

“Crying?” He says, and I sigh.

“Jim, I'll find Keegan from here. Thanks for the help though,” I say, and Jim nods.

“No problem.” He runs off, and I look up at the wall.

Slowly walking up the stairs, I look to the left, then stop when I see someone slumped against the wall. Making my way over slowly, I stop in front of Keegan.

Hesitating, I sigh.

“Russ?” I say quietly, and he slowly raises his head to look at me with red eyes, his face tear-stained.

He opens his mouth to say something, but no words come out. I crouch in front of him, and put my hand on his shoulder.

“Keegan, what is it?” I ask softly, and Keegan takes a deep breath, then shakes his head.

“He's gone….” He murmurs, and I raise my eyebrow.

“Wait, who's gone?” I ask, and Keegan wipes the tears away with his sleeve.

“Logan. He….he told me….I’m not his brother anymore and that he's leaving.” Keegan says, and my eyes widen.

“WHAT?!” I shout, glancing around to get any idea as to where he might be. Keegan shakes his head.

“It's no use. He's long gone,” He mutters, his voice cracking.

I shake my head, then grab his wrist to hoist him up.

“Come on! We have to go and see if we can stop him! He's probably in the barracks. Let's go!” I say urgently, and Keegan nods, still shaking himself back into reality.

We both run down the stairs, then through the compound over to the barracks. Glancing at Keegan as we run, I take a breath.

“Did he say why he was leaving?” I ask, and Keegan sighs.

“He said he was done with all this. That he couldn't take any of this anymore.”

I sigh, and frown.

Reaching the barracks, I throw open the door, and some of the soldiers at the other end give us a bit of a startled look. Running down to where Logan and Keegan’s bunks are, I stop, and frown when I see that Logan’s pack and gun are missing. Keegan bends down to pick something up, and his expression fades to worry. I look over his shoulder a little.

“What is it?” I ask, and Keegan sighs, then stands up, turning around to show me. In his hand he holds a mask with a skull pattern on it, and I raise my eyebrow.

“Is that-”

“It's Logan’s Ghost mask. He said he was done with everything. I guess he meant the Ghosts, too. He left us.” Keegan says, his voice catching in his throat. I bite my lip, then put my hand on his shoulder.

“I'll call the others.” I say, unclipping my radio as Keegan sits down on his bunk, staring at Logan’s mask. Flicking it on, I sigh.

“Ghost Recon, come in. I repeat, Merrick, Spike and Cody, come in.” I say, then the line crackles through in a voice.

“West? This is Spike.”

I frown.

“Are Merrick and Cody with you?” I ask.

“Yeah, they're here. What is it?” He asks, and I take a breath

“Get to the barracks, now. We have a problem,” I say, and Spike clicks his tongue.

“Got it. On our way, West,” He confirms, then the signal beeps off. Clipping the radio back to my belt, I sigh, then sit down next to Keegan.

“We'll find him, Russ. Don't worry. I know he's like a brother to you, and we will find him-”

“No we won't,” Keegan retorts, and I raise my eyebrow.

“What? Why?”

Keegan looks up with a shrug.

“Because he and his brother knew better than anyone how to avoid detection and stay off the radar. If Logan doesn't want to be found, then there's no way we can find him.” Keegan replies, and I sigh.

“Hey.”

A voice from the door makes us look up to see Merrick, Cody and Spike run in. Spike stops, and puts his hands on his hips.

“What is it?” He asks, and Keegan glances up at them.

“Logan’s gone.” he chokes out, and Merrick’s eyes widen.

“WHAT?! What do you mean, he's gone?!” He shouts, and the soldiers at the end of the barracks stare at us.

I shake my head at them, and they slowly turn back to talking to each other. Keegan shakes his head.

“I mean he's gone. Merrick, my little brother left. And I don't think he's gonna come back any time soon. He...he hates me, Merrick,” Keegan chokes out.

Cody shakes his head.

“Keegan, I’m sure he doesn't-”

“HE SAID I WASN'T HIS BROTHER! He called me an ass and told me he's done!! HE HATES ME!” Keegan shouts, and I step back a bit as he blinks back tears.

Spike and Merrick look at each other with wide eyes, speechless. I sigh and meet Cody’s eyes.

“Keegan said there's no way we'd be able to find him, because he and Hesh knew how to avoid detection better than anyone?” I say, and Merrick nods.

“He's right. If Logan doesn't want to be found, then there's no way we can.” He kneels down in front of Keegan, and sighs.

“Keegan, I know that this hurts. But Logan….he just needs time alone. He's been stressed ever since he almost lost you, and now this big change, and honestly, you have kind of been a bit of an ass lately. But he needs to be alone, and I have faith that he’ll come back. When he's ready to. But you have to understand that he doesn't hate you, Keegan. He just needs a break. He’ll be okay. He's strong. The real question is, can you be strong for now?” He asks, and my gaze switches between Merrick and Keegan, and Keegan sighs, then nods.

“Yeah…..yeah okay.” Keegan mutters, then he looks up at me.

“Hey, David?” He says slowly, and I nod.

“Yeah?”

Keegan sighs.

“Can we...you know….just hang out? I need to get my mind off of Logan…” His voice catches on Logan’s name, then trails off.

I grin softly, putting my hand on his shoulder.

“Of course.”

I look up at Merrick, Cody, and Spike.

“We're good. I can help him out.” I say, and Merrick nods. Spike puts his hand on my shoulder.

“Thank you.” He says, and I nod.

“No problem.”

They turn and walk out, and i sit down next to Keegan. Putting my arm around his shoulder, I sigh.

“Keegan, just let it all out. You can tell me anything.” I say.

“Even though I've really only known you for a day, I know that you and Logan are both great guys and amazing soldiers. So just know that I’m here for you.”

Keegan nods, then wipes a tear away.

“I've lost everyone, David. I lost Heath, Bolt and Gavin of the Hawks, then it turns out my Captain hated me and he tortured me to the point of death. So the Hawks are gone. But that's not all. I lost Match. I lost Elias. I lost Slate. I lost Hesh. My brother. And now I've lost Logan, too. I can't stand to have anymore of the people I love, my family, leave me.” He chokes out, then he shakes his head, squeezing his eyes shut.

“I just want it all to go away…” He murmurs dismally, and I bite my lip, then hug him.

Taking a deep breath, I rub his back comfortingly.

“Keegan, I know it hurts. Trust me. I saw my best friend get shot to death by the Federation, right in front of me when we were holding the line down in Miami.” I say, and Keegan glances up with wide eyes.

“Really?” He asks, and I nod, sitting back with a sigh.

“Yeah. His name was Tyler. He and I were best friends before we joined the army, since eleventh grade. We always watched each other’s back, whether it was in a fight or just in life. But when we were stationed down in Miami for a month, the Federation attacked, and Tyler saw a group of them headed towards us. He told me to run, but I wasn't about to leave him. So he shoved me down into the dirt just as they opened fire, and he immediately got hit by fifteen shots, killed instantly. He fell right on top of me.” I express morosely, and Keegan’s eyes widen.

Taking a deep breath, I close my eyes.

“Sometimes I close my eyes, and the first thing I see is his face, and the determined look he had when he pushed me down, the dead-set protection that he would give me. I never got to thank him.” I say, as I hold back tears.

Keegan sits up straight, staring at me, then he puts his arm around me.

“Looks like we have a lot more in common than we thought.” he mutters, and I stop, then nod slowly.

“Yeah….guess so.”

Shaking myself out of my daze, I meet Keegan’s eyes.

“Hey, I think you just need some time alone to sort of, you know, relax. I'll come back later, okay? To check on you.” I offer, and Keegan nods.

He stands up, then climbs to the top bunk, lying down. He closes his eyes, hands behind his head.

Rising to my feet, I start to walk away, but his voice makes me halt.

“Hey David?” He calls softly, and I turn slightly.

“Yeah?”

Keegan hesitates, then sighs.

“Thank you.” He says quietly, and a smile turns the corners of my mouth up.

“No problem. I'll see you later.”

Turning back, I walk out of the barracks to outside.

As I step out into the cool March air, I turn towards the wall and walk up the stairs.

Stopping where Logan and Keegan last were, I look out at the ocean, and the dark blue of it compared to the light grey of the sky.

A Phantom jet screams overhead, followed by two F-14s. The sound of everything going on in the compound is overwhelming, and I close my eyes, drowning everything out.

I feel the salt air sweep up onto my face, the chill from it sending a shiver through me.

I take a deep breath.

I hope Logan is okay, and I hope Keegan can help himself.

There's just something about these two that I care about, more than anything since Tyler.

It's weird.

But something inside me is telling me that I need to watch over them, and protect them at all costs.

So that's what I’m going to do.

Chapter Text

22, March, 2028

0300 hours

Keegan

I quietly pack my backpack, looking around at the sleeping soldiers.

I sigh. Glancing to the side, I see David sleeping in the bunk next to mine, and then my eye falls on Logan’s mask on the floor.

Picking it up, I stuff it in the front pocket of my bag. I pull on my jacket, and then clip on my vest. Wiping the sweat from my brow with the back of my hand, I pull on my hat, finally pulling on my tactical gloves.

Finishing packing, I sling my bag onto my shoulder, then pick up my sniper rifle and my MK.

One great thing about being in an actual army base again, I must say, is having access to all the resources I need. Last night I grabbed a bunch of ammunition, some rope, a tarp, my bed roll, filled my canteen with water, I have three tactical knives, and two flares. Amongst other various supplies, I’m completely ready to go out after Logan.

I know it'll be hard to find him, but I have to try. I know him better than anyone, besides Hesh. I need to find him. I can't just let him abandon us.

Walking out of the barracks, carefully navigating so as not to wake anybody, I quietly open the door, then spin around to make sure it closes noiselessly. Turning back to the compound, I see that overnight a light dusting of snow has fallen.

It makes the ground and the air beautiful, still falling very lightly. But this will make it easy for me to be followed. They'll see my footprints.

Shaking my head, I run over towards the wall. Running up the stairs, I stop at the top, and then climb up on the edge of it. Taking a deep breath and glancing over my shoulder to the compound and the light provided by the many spotlights, I sigh.

Then, heaving one last breath, I jump over the barbed wire topping down the nineteen feet to the ground. I tuck and roll, scrambling to my feet.

Looking ahead, my grip around my gun tightens.

One last glance over my shoulder at West Point makes my chest tighten, but I need to find my little brother.

Sprinting along the rocky water’s edge, I make my way away from my soldiers and hopefully towards my brother.


 

0500 hours

Running through the broken down city, my eyes sweep the ground for any sign of footprints or trace of any movement.

But I come up with nothing.

I’m miles away from the base by now, and I still haven't come across a single footprint or broken branch or anything that Logan could have left.

Slowing to a stop, I groan.

Goddamnit.

He really doesn't want to be found.

But I can't give up. He's my brother.

I take a breath and continue through the buildings on the broken road.

I can't help but think this looks like Santa Fe. I shudder, thinking back to the wolves, and the deep scars that now cover my shoulder and side. But there aren't any wolves here. It's still close enough to the base for no wild animals to really be around.

Plus, the constant screaming jets overhead must drive them way.

There are deer, though. I've seen about ten since I left the base.

Pausing for a moment, I reach back and unclip my canteen from my bag, then bring it to my mouth to take a sip of water. Wiping the drops from my mouth with the back of my hand, a sudden crack makes me spin around.

Clipping the canteen back, I immediately raise my gun.

A crash puts me on edge, and I slowly look around the streets, avoiding the multiple small fires that still burn. A few army trucks are scattered, and a crashed helicopter lays splintered on the ground. The crumbling buildings are able to hide so many possible threats, and my hands shake as I nervously look around.

Another crash behind me makes me jump, and I spin around quickly, but still see nothing.

My breathing starts to quicken, and I feel my heart pounding.

Then a loud bang echoes through the empty streets, and I feel a sharp pain in my back, making me lose my breath and fall to the ground.

Eyes wide, I scramble to my feet and start running.

Shouting behind me makes me run faster, and I turn a corner, then tuck into a small alcove. Holding my hand over my mouth to quiet my heavy breath, I watch with wide eyes as five Federation soldiers with Scouting uniforms run by, searching the streets.

“Where is he? I saw the soldier, and he ran this way!” One yells, and another meets the eyes of a third.

“He's from the Boston base. One of the Ghosts.” He says, and I bite my lip, eyes wide. Then another shoves his shoulder.

“He was young, and he's definitely the one who Trent described.” He says, and my eyes widen as big as dinner plates.

Trent is alive?!

The fifth one sighs, then looks around.

“He ran off. There's no telling where he went. Let's go.” he grumbles, and I slowly back up a little.

But, as I’m not looking where I’m stepping, I stumble on a piece of metal, falling back. It scrapes on the ground, and the soldiers snap their heads up, then one spots me.

“THERE!” He shouts, and my eyes fill with fear.

“Oh shit….” I mutter as the soldiers start towards me. I grab my gun and start to run, then I hear more shouting in Spanish. I glance back over my shoulder quickly to see seven more soldiers run to join the five.

My chest tightens. I’m so screwed.

Shaking my head, I look down at my MK, then spin around to start firing. Dropping two in the front, the other ten jump behind walls of buildings. I keep firing, the bullets hitting the cement around them. I hear one soldier cry out, then I watch as he collapses to the ground, unmoving.

I spin to keep running, and the soldiers quickly run after me. Their guns start to fire, and I dodge and zip out of the way, avoiding them the best I can. One dings off my sniper rifle, and another off my canteen. One hits my arm, and I grit my teeth.

Shaking my head, I run faster. I need to get to higher ground. But the pain in my back from where I got the wind knocked out of me earlier stings, and I grit my teeth.

Slowing down, I turn to look over my shoulder helplessly.

The soldiers draw nearer, but I slow to a stop.

I can't keep running.

They stare at me, slowing down, then raise their guns at me. The one in front glares at me.

“Keegan Russ, you are sentenced to death by the Federation!” He yells, and I sigh.

“You know who I am. So I guess Trent did tell his men to follow me. Great.” I mutter, and the soldiers train their guns. The one in the front narrows his eyes.

“You have five seconds to drop your weapon!” He shouts, and I sigh.

“I’m just looking for my brother.” I state, but the soldier raises his gun.

“Five!”

Letting out a deep breath, I look around.

“Four!”

The blood from my arm drips down, and a few drops run over my fingers to the ground.

“Three!”

I shake my head, and sigh.

“TWO!”

Closing my eyes, I sigh.

“Sorry, Logan.” I mutter, and my gun falls from my hand to the ground.

The soldier stops, and I open my eyes to look at him.

“There. What are you going to do? Take me captive again?” I mock, and the soldier next to him smirks.

“No. We were sent to execute you. Sergeant’s orders.” He grins, and I frown.

“Fantastic." I grumble. The soldier in front looks to all his men, who spread out around him.

“Sergeant Trent told us to kill him, but we can still make him hurt before we do.” He turns to me and fires, and I scream as the bullet tears into my leg.

Falling to one knee, I breathe heavily, gritting my teeth at the immense pain shooting through my leg, and the blood coursing from it.

Slowly raising my head, I glare at the soldiers.

“Fine. But if I’m gonna die, get it over with.” I growl, and the soldier who first spotted me grins.

“Gladly.”

All the soldiers raise their guns, the sound of all the safeties flicking off making my heart quicken.

“Keegan Russ, as ordered by the Federation Sergeant, you are hereby sentenced to death.”

I close my eyes and take a deep breath.

Suddenly an explosion makes my eyes shoot open, and I see eight of the soldiers dead on the ground, bodies blown apart and surrounded by a blast circle, the other two soldiers scared out of their wits.

I raise my eyebrow, then a shout comes from my right, and five gunshots ring out, felling the two soldiers.

Glancing up, I see David run from one of the streets, and his gaze fall on me. Meeting his eyes, I see fear and concern in them as he runs over.

“Keegan!” He shouts, dropping to my side.

Noticing the blood stain on my pant leg and my arm, he shakes his head, then puts his arm around me.

“Come on. Hold on to me.” He says, and I bite my lip as I sling my arm around him and he lifts me up. I limp as we walk, breathing hard through my gritted teeth.

I look up to see Jimmy and a bunch of other soldiers looking around, fingers on triggers. Jimmy looks up as David carries me over, and his eyes widen when he sees me.

“Keegan, your leg!” He shouts, and I nod at him.

“Yeah...don't worry ‘bout it.” I mutter. As we round the corner, I see an army patrol truck waiting.

To my surprise, none of the Ghosts are in it. Normally if I ran off, Merrick would be here immediately to chew me out.

Shaking it off, I lick my lips after breathing hard, and feel my tight chest relax.

Jimmy follows David and I, covering our six. As we reach the truck, another soldier jumps down, name of Ryan Bentley.

He looks me up and down, then frowns, meeting David’s eyes. David shakes his head.

“Just help me get him in the truck.” He orders, and Ryan nods. He and David lift me up, and I grimace in pain.

Sitting on the bed of the truck, I take a deep breath. Ryan jumps up, and starts to move me back as I hold my hand on my leg, teeth gritted tight.

Then he stops, and I glance up at him to see an odd expression on his face as he holds me.

My eyebrow raises.

“What?” I ask cautiously, and Ryan hesitates, then looks up to meet my eyes.

“Keegan, you're shot in the back.” He says straightly, and my eyes widen. David jumps up next to me with wide eyes.

What?!” He exclaims, and Ryan nods.

He takes his hand away from my lower back, and I see it's covered in dark red blood.

My breath quickens, and I bite my lip. That's what that pain was earlier. It didn't even occur to me I was shot.

David looks up at Ryan.

“Is it bad?” he asks, and Ryan shrugs. He starts to take my pack off, and I groan. He shakes his head.

“Keegan, deal with it. I need to see the wound.” he says harshly, and I narrow my eyes as I frown.

“Asshole.” I mutter, and Ryan scoffs.

“Right back ‘atcha.”

Setting my bag down on the floor, he turns me around as the rest of the soldiers get into the cab, and David pulls the back of the truck up. We start to drive off, and I sigh.

Ryan holds his hand on my back, and I close my eyes. David tightly wraps my leg in bandage, making me flinch. My fist clenches, and I open my eyes.

David meets them, and his soft brown eyes are caring. Then a flash of anger runs through them.

“Keegan, you dumbass, why did you go off on your own?! Are you just determined to get yourself killed?!” He shouts, and I lean back, eyes wide.

David heaves a sigh.

“I know you want to find Logan. But going after him alone isn't going to help him at all if you get hurt in the process. We didn't know there were any Federation soldiers up here. Even though they were just Scouts, they-”

I shake my head.

“They weren't Scouts. They just wanted you to think that. They were here looking for me. They knew my name. Trent told them. He sent them to kill me.” I explain, and David raises his eyes.

“But...you said Trent died…”

I roll my eyes.

“WELL APPARENTLY HE DIDN'T!” I yell, and David and Ryan both startle, then a pain in my back makes me cringe.

Ryan takes his hand away, then shakes his head.

“Shit…” He mutters. 

“What?” David and I simultaneously ask.

Ryan shakes his head.

“You're bleeding pretty bad. Luckily the bullet missed your spine, but it still got you good. Geez, what is it with you and getting shot? I heard from Merrick that it seems to happen a lot with you.” He remarks, and I frown.

“Yeah...anyway, how bad is it?” I ask quickly, and Ryan shrugs.

“I mean, if you hadn't stopped the bleeding in your leg by now, you probably would bleed out in fifteen minutes.”

My eyes widen, and David immediately scoots next to me and presses his hand hard against my back.

I flinch, gritting my teeth.

“Augh! Damn you, David…” I grumble, and he scoffs.

“Damn me all you want, Keegan, I’m just trying to keep you alive. I told Merrick I'd bring you back, and I’m gonna make damn sure that you're breathing when I do.” He determines, and I let out a long breath.

Closing my eyes, I lean on David’s shoulder.

“Sorry….I didn't mean to hurt you….” I murmur, and David wraps his arm that isn't pressed on my back around me in a hug.

“Keegan, it's okay. Just….don't die.” He says straightly, and I let out a small chuckle, then I cough hard, opening my eyes when I taste blood in my mouth.

Looking at my hand that I coughed into, I see it stained slightly with blood.

David’s eyes widen, and I blink back the fear as my head spins.

“Well, that’s unfortunate….” I groan, then I fall back against David, breathing shakily.

Ryan springs to my side, and he bites his lip. He presses down on the blood soaked bandage on my leg, cursing.

“Shit….this isn't goin’ well.” He mutters, and David holds me tight, staring into my eyes.

“Keegan, just hang on!”

My eyes widen, and I gaze up at him.

“Hesh…..” I murmur with a smile, a drop of blood falling from my lip.

Staring into my brother’s wide eyes, I feel safer than I have in a long time.

“Thanks for saving me, Hesh….” My voice trails off as I close my eyes, taking a deep breath in my exhausted body.

I’m so tired…. Or maybe I’m just too weak.

Another shaky breath escapes my lips, and I hear David shouting my name.

“Come on, Keegan!”

He shakes my shoulders as I give in to the exhaustion.

“KEEGAN!”

Chapter Text

27, March, 2028

0715 hours

Keegan

I slowly open my eyes, blinking in the dull light. I prop myself up on my elbow, and groan from the immediate pain.

Falling back, I grit my teeth, take a breath, then force myself to sit up. An agonising pain shoots through my body as I do, but I push through it. I breathe hard, my hands planted firmly on the edge of the cot I was laid on.

I’m just in my tee shirt and cargo pants, my boots on the floor next to me. A bandage wraps around my arm, with a small dot of red where it bled through. I can feel tight bandages pressed on my back, and more wrapped around my leg.

Sighing, I close my eyes, trying to remember. I was looking for Logan….Federation scouts found me, but they weren't scouts, they were working for Trent-

My eyes widen.

Trent’s still alive!

I’m so screwed. He wants me dead.

I don't know if he wants Logan hurt, but he's definitely targeting me.

Actually, he's probably going to target all the Ghosts now. Which is why it's imperative to find Logan.

I bend down with a groan, then grimace as I pull on my boots and lace them up. Sitting back up, I take a breath as I slowly stand up, falling back a few times. Finally I manage to get to my feet, and I look around.

I’m in the infirmary at West Point. David must have brought me back here after he and Ryan and Jimmy found me.

But how long was I out?

Taking an unsteady step forward, I look up. I start towards the door, slowly and shakily, glancing around at some of the other soldiers in here.

I cringe when I see boys that are as young as I was when I first became a Ghost. Only eighteen. They must have been hurt in patrols or the searches for the Federation.

Closing my eyes, I curse the Feds. This war needs to stop. There are far too many people getting hurt.

One of the doctors looks up at me as I make my way towards the door, and he walks over to me.

“Russ, right?” He asks. He’s about 32, with short buzzed dirty blonde hair. His eyes shine bright green, and I meet them with a nod.

“Yeah.”

He smiles.

“I’m John. I was surprised to see you in here. One day here, and one of the Ghosts is already in the infirmary. Man, you really are just like Holt said.” He remarks, and I raise my eyebrow.

“Okay, first of all, Holt told you about me? And second of all, what did he say I was like?” I ask, and John chuckles.

“He said you were reckless, but resilient and determined. And from what I've seen and heard, that sums you up to a T.” He says with a smirk, and a smile creeps onto my face.

“Yeah….I've always been reckless. Resilient, sure. But determined is the truest of all. I will find my brother.” I state, and John crosses his arms.

“Logan Walker?” He asks, and I nod, then sigh.

“Not exactly brother, but close enough. Best friend. And I’m the reason he left, which is why I have to find him.” I say, and John shakes his head.

“Keegan, David told me that you're not going back out there any time soon. And I agree. After seeing and tending to your wounds, I can honestly say that you need to take it slow.” He says, and I raise my eyebrow.

“You were the one who bandaged me up?” I ask, and John nods.

“Damn straight. Man, you'd better be grateful West got here with you when he did. Ten more minutes, you'da been dead.” He plainly states, and I sigh, then turn back to look at the cot, and my blood soaked jacket next to it, my bloody tee shirt on top of it, dyed red as opposed to the clean one I now wear.

Taking a deep breath, I glance back at John.

“What'd Merrick say?” I ask slowly, and John shakes his head.

“Shit, he was pissed. Mad that you left, that you went after Logan without telling him and went alone, and that even after he said you should wait. But more than anything, he was scared.”

I raise my eyebrow.

“Wait, what?” I ask, confused, and John nods.

“Yeah. He told me he had already watched you die once, and he couldn't bear it again. He cares about you, Keegan. They all do. Even Holt was in here a few days ago.” He says, and my eyes widen.

Holt was here, too?

Then something John said registers in my head.

“Wait. You said a few days ago. How long have I been in here?” I question, and John sighs.

“Russ, you've been unconscious for 5 days.”

My eyes widen.

“Five days….” I mutter quietly, then I shake my head.

“Hey, John?” I ask, and John meets my eyes.

“What?”

I look towards the door.

“Do you know where David is?” I ask, and John nods.

“He's on watch right now. East tower.” He says, and I grin.

“Thanks.” I start towards the door, but John grabs my arm. I turn to face him again, and he grabs a cargo jacket from behind him, and tosses it to me, along with my hat.

“You'll want these. There are gloves in the pocket.” he says, and I stare at him for a moment, then I pull on the jacket, careful not to strain my arm and back. Zipping it up, I pull on my hat over my short hair. He nods at me, and smiles.

“I'll see ya later, Russ.” He says, and I nod.

“Thanks, John.”

Turning to the door, I open it, and a sudden brisk wind pushes me back for a moment. I step out, then my eyes widen as I close the door behind me. Almost a foot of powdery snow covers the ground, and another breeze sends a cloud of it swirling. Sending out a breath, it comes out in a fog that rises in front of me. I take the gloves out of the pocket and slip them on, then look around.

The East tower is about 700 yards away, and I start to walk over, trudging through the snow. Around me, the soldiers all march through it, and the snow is tramped down in places where it's been most commonly traveled. Tire tracks are faint in the snow, the windblown snow having slightly covered them.

I let out another breath, and again my breath fogs in front of me in a swirling cloud.

“Russ!”

I hear a faint shout through the sound of the cold wind blowing past me, and I turn to see someone running towards me.

I stop walking, and smile as Jimmy jogs up to me. He grins as he meets my eyes.

“Man is it good to see you're okay! David’s been real worried!” He says, and I nod towards the East tower.

“I’m headed to see him now. Come with me?” I suggest, and Jimmy nods.

We walk through the snow, waving at some of the soldiers who call out my name. I guess word spread around the base pretty fast about my getting shot. After a few minutes, we reach the tower, and at the bottom, Jimmy catches my eye, then nods towards the door.

“Come on. At least it's warm in here.” He says, and I chuckle.

He opens the door, and a flow of warm air greets me. The door shuts behind us, and Jimmy thumbs up the stairs.

“David’s up here.” He says, and he starts up the stairs. I follow, but slower, trying to ease the pain in my back and leg. Near the top, I hear Jimmy talking to someone, then as I walk in, I look up to see Jimmy point over to me.

David turns his head, and his eyes widen. I grin, and his face lights up.

Running over to me, he hugs me tightly. I flinch, gritting my teeth.

“Keegan, my god, I thought you were gonna die!” He shouts, and I nod, then grunt.

“Um, David….You know, I did get shot...and it stiiiiiiill hurts…” I hint, and David immediately lets me go.

“Oh! Sorry.” He smiles, and I meet his eyes.

“Thanks for bringing me back alive.” I say, and David nods with a smirk.

“Of course. How ya feelin’, anyway?” He asks, and I shrug.

“I mean, hurts like hell, but John did a good job patching me up.” I say, and David crosses his arms.

“You met John?” He asks, and I nod.

“Yeah. The medic in the infirmary. He's the one who told me this is where I'd find you. He also told me that Holt was actually in there to check on me a few days ago?” I comment, and Jimmy nods.

“Yeah. He wanted to make sure you were okay!” He responds, and I nod.

David turns to Jimmy, and bites his lip.

“Hey, Jim, I know it's not your watch, but would you mind taking it for me so I can be with Keegan?” He asks, and Jimmy smiles.

“No problem, man.”

David turns to me, and sighs.

“Whaddaya say we go see your team?” He asks, and I nod.

“Yeah. Never thought I’d say this, but I’m actually anxious to see them.”

David laughs, and he pulls on his hat as we walk out the door into the cold.

“We better get going, then. We wouldn't want to keep them waiting.”


 



0731 hours

Merrick

Crossing my arms, I shake my head at Spike.

“Look, we now know that there were at least fifteen Federation soldiers out there when Keegan was attacked. We have no idea if there could be more.” I state, and Spike slams his fist down on the table.

“Then we go looking for more! They almost killed him, Thomas! If you hadn't sent David out sooner, then Keegan would have died!” He shouts, and Cody rubs his face with his hands as he leans against the edge of the table.

“Spike, I get it. He's like your little brother. That's how he is for Merrick, too. We all care about him, not just you. But we can't just go off willy-nilly running through the city trying to find Federation soldiers that may or may not be there.” He argues, and Spike narrows his eyes.

“Cody, I don't care if they're there or not. I swear I will make sure that the Federation pays for all the shit they have given us.” He hisses, and Cody shakes his head, standing up, anger starting to cross his face.

“The Federation will get theirs, Spike. But for now, we have to make sure that we all stay safe and that the Federation doesn't attack the base. I seriously doubt they can, because if they try to, we'll be able to see their forces from miles away-”

“BUT WE DIDN'T SEE THE SOLDIERS THAT ATTACKED KEEGAN!!” Spike yells, and I groan, then step in between them.

“Girls, that's enough. We can't keep fighting over things like this. We should just focus on the issue at hand; making sure Keegan is-”

“Alive?”

A voice from behind me makes us all turn around to see Keegan leaning against the doorway, arms crossed, grinning at me. David stands next to him, and he smiles.

Keegan takes a breath, uncrosses his arms, and stands up. Shrugging his shoulders, he casually walks over, then meets my eyes.

“I dunno, Thomas. I don't know if that kid is gonna make it or not. Especially when his team is a bunch of morons.” He says with a smirk, and I roll my eyes, then hug him.

“Kid, don't do that again. I swear if you keep running off, I'll put an electric collar on you.”

Keegan shoves me away, and raises his eyebrow.

“That brings a whole new meaning to ‘dog of the military’.” He states, and David laughs. I stop, then a grin breaks out on my face.

Spike heaves a sigh, and walks over to Keegan. He puts his arm around his shoulder, then pulls him close.

“Damn it, Keegan, if you scare me like that again….” He shakes his head, and Keegan smiles.

Cody taps his fingers on the table, and Keegan looks over my shoulder to see him meet his eyes. Cody bites his lip, and sighs.

“You sure you're okay, kid?” He asks, and Keegan nods.

“I’m fine.”

Then his smile fades away, and I frown.

“Keegan, what is it?” I ask, and David puts his hand on Keegan’s shoulder.

Keegan shakes his head.

“It's like I told David. They weren't just Fed soldiers. Trent sent them to execute me.” He says straightly, and my eyes widen.

I meet David’s eyes.

“Why didn't you tell us this when you got back?!” I shout, and David puts his hands up in surrender.

“I was going to, but then I kinda got distracted by the fact that Keegan was, oh, I dunno, DYING!! ” He yells, and I sigh, rubbing my eyes with my fingers.

“Okay, okay. Keegan, explain.” I mutter, looking up.

Keegan nods, then lifts himself up to sit on a table.

“The soldiers said that ‘Sergeant Trent’ told them what I looked like, what my name was, and that I was to be executed.”

Keegan looks up to meet Spike’s eyes.

“I thought you said you shot Trent!” He stresses, and Spike grits his teeth.

“I thought I did!” He exclaims.

Cody sighs.

“Guys, it doesn't matter now. We have to figure this shit out. Now, if Trent sent those men to kill Keegan, and he sees that they were killed, he’ll send more. We have to be careful.” He voices, and I nod.

“You're right.”

Turning to David, I meet his eyes.

“We should tell Jackson about this.” I suggest, and David nods.

“We can later.”

He sweeps his gaze around the room, then bites his lip, his hand tightening on Keegan’s shoulder.

“What do we do about Logan? Do we just wait for him to come back, if at all? We can't contact him, we can't find him, what do we do?” He asks, and a silence falls on the room.

Finally, Keegan speaks up.

“We just hope and pray that he's alive. He knows what he's doing, and I know he’ll come back to us, when we need him most.”


 

5 hours later

1215 hours

Michael

I look over the multiple control panels, and pick up the radio.

“Space Station Control this is Base Command. How copy?” I ask, and a second later a reply comes back.

“Solid copy, Base Command. Satellite weapons system is back in control and readying for attack.”

I smirk.

“Good. I'll tell the Captain.” I say, then I turn off the radio. Turning around, I walk down the hall, smiling as I do.

West Point ain't gonna know what hit ‘em.

I come to the command center, and walk in.

“Trent.”

He turns around, and I grin.

“Space Weapons system is good to go. Do we have all the ready forces on the ground?” I ask, and Trent nods.

He crosses his arms, then looks out the window.

“We have twenty fighter pilots ready to go, and all of our soldiers on foot are geared up and ready to go. They're all waiting in the drop plane.” he answers, and I smirk.

“Man, Jackson ain't ever gonna be ready for this.” I say, and Trent nods.

“Get your gear. We leave in twenty minutes. You're flying in the chopper with me.” He says, and I nod.

“You got it.”

Turning, I run down the hall to the bunks. I sprint over to mine, and grab all my gear.

Pulling on my jacket and vest over it, I grab my pack and sling it on. Lastly, I grab my gun, an MR-28. Checking the magazine and extra cartridges, I nod.

I make my way back down the hall to see Trent walk out the door, ready in his gear and carrying his M-15.

He meets my eye with a smirk, and nods towards the door.

“Let's go.”

We both run outside to the chopper we'll be taking. I look around to see all the soldiers ready in the drop ship, and the fighter pilots prepping their jets. I smirk.

Climbing in the heli next to Trent, I take a breath. He looks over at me.

“Ready to go back to Boston?” He asks me with a slight grin.

My grip on my gun tightens, and I narrow my eyes.

“West Point will be just a name once we're done with 'em.” I mutter, and Trent laughs.

“Michael, you'll get your destruction. Don't worry. We do have to be careful, though. Considering that we lost the soldiers who were supposed to take out Russ, we can only assume he's still alive. He's got a grudge match with me, as does Spike.”

I shrug my shoulders.

“But if they're dead, there ain't no way they can do anything.” I remark, and Trent smiles.

“Your simplistic, straight forward thinking is somewhat admirable.”

He turns to the pilot, and nods. The chopper lifts off, and Trent puts his finger to his earpiece.

“MOVE OUT!! Fighters, take your lead!” He yells, and the pilots jump into their jets, then the sudden roar of all the engines fills the air.

One by one, they scream down the runway, flying ahead of us. The drop ship takes off, and I smirk. Putting my finger to my ear, I call in.

“Space Station, do you copy?”

A voice crackles in.

“We read you loud and clear, sir.”

I nod.

“Good. The attack forces have just taken off. I'll give the command when to fire.” I order.

“Affirmative, Command. Awaiting your word.”

Taking my finger away from my ear, I elbow Trent.

He turns his head to look at me, and I point up at the sky.

“Space Weapons is ready and awaiting my order to fire.” I tell, and Trent nods.

“Good. Once we reach Williamsburg, then fire the first rod.” He says, and I nod.

Finally this day has come. The day we take out the rest of the soldiers, and the Ghosts along with them.

Chapter Text

28 March, 2028

0934 hours

David

Walking into the barracks, I stop when I see Keegan asleep in his bunk. I sigh with a smile, then walk over.

Kneeling down, I gently shake his shoulder.

“Keegan. Keegan get up.” I say, and he groans.

“No.” He mutters, pressing his face into his pillow, and I grin, holding back a laugh.

“Keegan, come on! You and I are on watch duty in fifteen minutes!” I say, and Keegan shakes his head.

“David, I’m tired! Let me sleep!” He whines, pulling his pillow over his head to drown me out.

I sigh, then shove him off the bunk.

“Waugh!” He exclaims as he thuds on the floor, then he sits up to glare at me over the bunk.

“I hate you.”

I grin, then stand up.

“Yeah, I know. Let's get going.” I say as I walk around to offer him my hand.

He takes it and I lift him to his feet. He sighs, and nods.

“Okay.”

He pulls on his boots, then his jacket and hat. Grabbing his gun from beside his bunk, Keegan and I walk out the door, shivering slightly at the cold brisk wind that blows snow up at us.

Keegan shakes his head.

“Man, it is taking a lot to get used to snow again. I mean, I had to deal with it when I was here, but on the West coast, there really isn't any.” He remarks, and I chuckle.

“Yeah. I can imagine. See, I grew up in Virginia. We'd get some snow down there, but not much. At least I was already acclimated to the cold when I got here.” I joke, and Keegan rolls his eyes.

“Lucky you.”

We laugh as we walk to the wall, then I hear my radio crackle.

Keegan and I stop, and I unclip my radio from my belt to answer.

“West.”

Jackson’s voice comes through the radio.

“West, you and Russ need to get over here right now. We have a serious problem.” He says, and I meet Keegan’s wide eyes.

“What is it?” I ask, and Jackson sighs.

“The Federation is launching an attack. We can heard their chatter on a radio frequency, but we can't see them on the scanners. There's just-”

Suddenly a loud boom makes Keegan and I look up, then the watchtower to our right explodes.

We stumble back, shielding ourselves with our arms.

Keegan shakes his head.

“What the hell was that?!” He shouts, and I take quick breaths.

“I don't know! Was it-”

A fighter jet screams over head, then another, opening fire on the base. Bullets riddle the ground, and soldiers fall around us.

My eyes widen, and I grab Keegan’s hand.

“MOVE!!” I yell, and he follows me as we sprint through the compound, away from the bullets. They drive us towards the edge, and we run to the bottom of the wall. I press against it, and Keegan stands next to me, panting, eyes wide.

I glance over, and I see fear on his face. He shakes his head.

“David, what's happening?!” He cries, and I bite my lip.

“I don't know! I think it's-”

A bright streak in the sky makes me stop, and I raise my eyebrow.

“What’s that?” I wonder, and Keegan looks up, then his eyes widen bigger than dinner plates.

“GET DOWN!” He screams, tackling me to the ground. I hit the snow, and he holds me still, then the streak collides with the ground, and a blindingly bright flash occurs, then the East part of the compound explodes in a mass of fire. My eyes widen.

“WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?!” I yell, and Keegan takes a shaky breath.

“It's ODIN…” he murmurs quietly, and I shove him off of me, then spin to face him.

“WHAT?! The space weapons system?! I thought we regained control of the Federation’s remake eleven months ago!”

Keegan sighs.

“They must have taken it back. Which means there's no crew up there for us to try to retake it.” He says, and I feel my chest tighten.

“What do we do-”

Another barrage of fire comes from another jet flying ahead. I lean down, then look up.

There must be at least fifteen fighter pilots.

Glancing at Keegan, I bite my lip.

“We have to try to get to Merrick and Jackson! Spike and Cody are probably with him!” I shout, and Keegan nods.

We stand up and start running, then the sound of a plane above makes me stop.

“Wait, what's that?” I ask, and Keegan stops beside me.

“It's not a jet, so what-”

Then a drop plane appears above us, and soldiers suddenly repel down all around us. My eyes widen.

“GO GO GO!!!” I yell, and Keegan nods vigorously.

"Right behind you!!!"

We sprint away from the soldiers, and I pull my radio as we run.

“Commander Jackson, this is Corporal West and Sergeant Russ! There are Federation soldiers in the base! I repeat, there are Federation soldiers in the base!” I yell, and I look over at Keegan, whose eyes are wide.

“David? Keegan?”

The radio crackles, and Keegan grabs it from my hand.

“THOMAS!!! WE HAVE ANOTHER SERIOUS PROBLEM!!! THEY'RE HERE!! THE FEDERATION IS-”

A shot rings out, and Keegan screams.

“AUGH!!” He drops the radio, and stumbles a bit. I spin around.

“KEEGAN!!” I exclaim.

The radio crackles, Merrick frantically shouting through it.

“Keegan?! David?!”

Keegan holds his shoulder, breathing hard through gritted teeth, blood running over his fingers. My eyes widen.

“Keegan!”

He shakes his head, then looks at me.

“I’m fine! Let's go!” He shouts, and we turn to keep running. I scoop up the radio, and flick it on.

“Merrick, it's West. Keegan’s hit, but not bad. We're trying to reach your position now. We're being run down by Fed soldiers from a drop ship, and we need reinforcements! Half the base is gone! Blown apart by the weapons satellite and the jets!!” I yell as I grit my teeth.

“Oh shit! West, there's more chaos in the North sector! Stay away from there!” Merrick yells, and I raise my eyebrow.

“But...I thought you and Jackson and the rest of the Ghosts were in the North sector…” My voice trails off, then a shot from ahead of us makes me jump, and Keegan grabs my hand, pulling me into the mess hall. The radio crackles again.

“No. We all moved to the West wing. How are you still in the East compound? I thought it was completely destroyed!”

I shake my head.

“No, not yet, apparently. I think we still have a few more minutes before-”

Keegan’s eyes widen, and he shoves me to the ground.

“GET DOWN!” He yells, and I grunt as he falls on top of me, the radio knocked from my hand.

“What? What is-”

Another bright flash of light, then the area right outside the building explodes, and a part of a truck flies into the wall. I cringe from the thud, and Keegan grits his teeth.

“They fired the rods again…..that blast just cut us off from the rest of the compound….” He remarks, looking over the edge of the window. He slowly stands up and offers me his hand. I take it, and he shakes his head.

“We're on our own, David.” He utters, and I stop, meeting his eyes.

A short silence follows as we realise what that means, then Keegan clenches his fist.

“But we're not done yet. We can still get out!” He shouts, and he slowly opens the door.

“There aren't any Feds around, but holy hell, there is a shit ton of carnage.” He tells, and I look over his shoulder, eyes widening.

Fire spreads everywhere around the blast radius in front of us, and dead bodies of our fellow soldiers lay scattered. Closing my eyes shut tight, I take a breath.

Goddamnit.

Keegan nods, and points towards the weapons depot.

“Maybe we can find something in there we can use.” He says, and I look at him skeptically.

“Something we can use. Yeah, Keegan. Let's grab an M-40 and use it to bring down a fucking space station.” I remark, and Keegan narrows his eyes.

“Look, David. If you want to get out of here, we need weapons. And I meant against the soldiers, dumbass.” He retorts, and I sigh.

“Okay. Let's get moving.” I say, and Keegan nods. We start out the door, then run across the open area towards the munitions cache.

Suddenly another jet screams overhead, and my eyes widen.

“Keegan, run!” I yell, and he nods.

Starting to sprint, he pulls ahead of me, but then the jet fires, and an explosion throws Keegan back. I flinch, shielding myself from the shrapnel that cuts through my shirt sleeves, creating bleeding gashes, shallow but still painful.

I look up finally, then my eyes widen when I see the motionless body on the ground.

“Keegan….”

I run over towards him, then my throat closes up when I see the red tinged snow around him, his body faced away. Dropping next to him, I roll him onto his back, then gasp.

Small chunks of metal have ripped into his chest, and blood soaks his jacket. My eyes widen, breath starting to quicken in fear.

“No…Keegan….” I grit my teeth, then start to lift him up, when he groans.

My eyes widen again, and watch as he slowly cracks his eyes.

“David...” He moans, and I nod, hiding the fear in my eyes.

“Yeah, buddy. It’s me. Come on, we have to go.” I say, and Keegan nods, moving to sit up, then he cries out, falling back.

I catch him, and he takes a deep breath. He looks down at his chest, and his eyes widen.

“Oh shit…” He whispers fearfully, and I hold his shoulder.

“Keegan, just take a breath….we...we'll find a way out…” I comfort, and Keegan looks up at me wide-eyed.

For some reason, he looks like he's seventeen again, scared and alone.

“David….” He makes out, blood starting to drip from his lip.

I grit my teeth, then shake my head.

“Come on,” I lift him up onto my back, and he cries in agony. I start to carry him over towards the barracks, then another explosion sends me stumbling, and I fall to the ground, Keegan on top of me.

Shaking myself out of it, I take a determined breath. Picking him up again, I keep moving, through all the rubble and the fire.

“The barracks are right ahead. If we can make it to there, we can get something to help stop the bleeding. Like a cloth or some bandages or something. Anything. I’m going to make sure you stay alive, Keegan.” I determine, and Keegan weakly nods.

“Yeah…” He looks ahead of me, then his eyes widen.

“David! The jet-”

The trucks in front of us explode, and a piece of metal hits my leg, gashing it open, making me cry out in pain. Falling to the ground with Keegan, I hold my leg painfully. I can feel the blood soaking my pant leg, and I breathe heavily, knowing that I won't be able to walk.

Metal sheets of the trucks are stuck in the ground around us, and I sigh.

Turning to Keegan, I hold him close, then painfully drag him over to one of the sheets, leaning him up against it.

A blood trail in the snow makes my chest tighten, and I look up to meet Keegan’s eyes. He stares at me, his eyes full of fear.

“David…..” Tears run down his face, and he still looks young, like a teenager again.

Like the kid Merrick talked about.

I lean over to hug him, and he leans his head on my shoulder.

“What do we do, David?” He murmurs, and I sigh, holding him closer, pressing my hand on his chest to try to stop the bleeding.

“I don't know, Keegan…..I don't know…..”


 

Keegan holds me tight, and his shoulders shake as he cries into my shoulder. I hold him close, and I feel a tear run down my own face.

Then a shout makes me look up, and I see Federation soldiers up ahead. My eyes widen, and I glance down at Keegan, then back up.

“No...not now…” I mutter, then I feel Keegan’s hand on mine. I look down at him, and he hands me his gun with determined eyes.

“Don't miss.” He groans, and I nod. Looking ahead, I grit my teeth, and raise the gun, readying it.

One of the soldiers looks over, and he shouts to his fellow Feds. Turning to us, he starts towards me. My grip on the gun tightens, and I narrow my eyes. As they get closer, Keegan puts his hand on my arm.

“David, what are you waiting for? Shoot them!” He says, and I shake my head.

“We have limited ammo, Keegan. We can't risk running out.” I state, then a shot rings out, and I shout in pain as it tears into my side.

“DAVID!!” Keegan yells, and I grit my teeth.

“NO! I’M FINE!!”

I start to shoot, and the one who shot me falls to the ground. More soldiers keep running up, and I keep firing. They start to shoot, and I flinch as the bullets ding off the metal around us.

“Thank god these guys are horrible shots.” Keegan mutters, then he cries out as a bullet hits him in the leg.

My eyes widen, then I turn back to the fight. Clenching my teeth, I hold down the trigger tightly, my grip squeezing the gun hard. Shaking my head, I narrow my eyes.

“COME ON, YOU FUCKS!” I yell as I shoot down more and more of them. Blood turns the snow red where they stand, but also around me, the wound soaking through my shirt.

My breath starts to quicken, then the unmistakable sound of my gun clicking makes my eyes widen. I pull the trigger again, but the empty mag provides no bullets.

Keegan’s eyes widen, and he shakes his head.

“I honestly didn't think it'd end like this.” He murmurs, and I shake my head, then lean back next to him.

“Me either…..At least we're with each other…” I solemnly state, and Keegan takes my hand.

“Yeah…..” He mutters, then suddenly a barrage of fire comes from the left of us, and the multitude of soldiers falls dead to the ground.

I look around quickly, but I can't see anything as a gust of wind blows a swirl of snow up around us. I close my eyes to avoid the icy particles from invading my eyes.

Then I hear a voice faintly carrying over the wind.

“KEEGAN?! DAVID?!”

My eyes widen, and I feel relief in my chest.

“LOGAN!!!” I scream, and then I hear the voice again.

“DAVID! WHERE ARE YOU?!” He yells, and I take a deep breath.

“OVER HERE!!” I yell, then I cringe, looking down at my side, and the increasingly large blood stain.

I hold my hand to it, and I sigh.

“We made it, Keegan. Logan found us.” I sigh, but no response is found.

I glance to my side, and my eyes widen when I see Keegan fallen to the side, blood running from his mouth and turning the white snow around him red. Breath quickening, I shout again.

“LOGAN!! GET OVER HERE!!!” I scream, and I barely see a shape through the snow, then suddenly Logan bursts from the fog and comes running towards me.

“David!” He shouts, dropping next to me. I grin, and meet his eyes with a smirk.

“You took your time.” I remark sarcastically, and Logan looks up at me with a scolding look.

He sees the bullet wound in my side, and his eyes widen. I shake my head.

“Logan, I’m okay. But Keegan’s hurt bad….help him first.” I order, and Logan goes to argue, then nods.

He turns to the right, then his eyes fill with fear as he sees his brother, lying in the blood filled snow, his chest riddled with shrapnel, shot twice. His breath quickens.

“Keegan….” He lifts him up, then swings his backpack around. Pulling out a bandage, Logan starts to wrap Keegan’s chest, and I hear him muttering under his breath.

“Come on, you son of a bitch…..Please….I never got to say I’m sorry….”

My eyes widen as I see a tear roll down his cheek, then Keegan groans, and he opens his eyes with a slight smile.

“You...you don't have to say sorry, Logan…..I’m the one...who should be sorry....I'm just glad….you came back…” He murmurs, and Logan’s eyes light up.

He breathes a sigh of relief, then shakes his head.

“Don't do that to me again, Keegan.” He says, and I laugh, then cough, blood dripping from my mouth.

Keegan and Logan look up, and their eyes widen.

Logan scoots over in front of me, and shakes his head.

“You're okay, my ass. Why the hell aren't you guys with the rest of the compound?” He asks as he starts to bandage my side.

I flinch in pain, then shake my head.

“Because we were cut off from them after the second bomb and the jets.”

Logan stops, then looks up at me.

“Bomb? I just heard the jets. What bomb?” He asks, and Keegan bites his lip.

“Logan….”

Logan turns to meet Keegan’s eyes, and Keegan sighs.

“The...The Federation….has control of ODIN again…” He explains, and Logan’s expression turns to fear.

“Oh shit….” He mutters, then he turns back to me.

“Can you stand? We need to get out of here.”

I shake my head, looking down at my bloodied pant leg.

“My leg’s screwed, Logan. I’m not going anywhere, and I’m pretty sure you can't carry both Keegan and I.” I state despairingly, and Logan sighs.

Keegan bites his lip, then looks up at Logan.

“Do you have your radio?” He asks, and Logan raises his eyebrow.

“Yeah. Why?” He asks, and Keegan shakes his head.

“Give it to me.” He orders, and I catch Logan’s eye, then Logan unclips the radio from his belt and hands it to Keegan.

Keegan flicks it on, then fiddles with the dial. I raise my eyebrow.

“Keegan, what are you doing?” I ask, and he takes a deep breath.

“I was thinking we could try to radio Merrick for help. Get him our location, and he and the others can come and find us.” He explains, his voice quieter as he starts to lose strength, and I sigh.

“It's worth a try.” I say, and Logan nods, looking at Keegan with worry at his slowly fading energy, weakening.

“Anything to keep you two safe.”

Chapter Text

Outside West Point, Boston Waterfront

0958 hours

Merrick

Holding my hand to my bleeding arm, I stumble towards the shore, where the rest of the soldiers are.

Holt looks up as I get closer, and he runs over.

“Any sign of them?” He asks quickly, and I sigh, then shake my head.

“Nothing. I have no idea if they're even…..”

I cut myself off, then look up at Spike and Jimmy as they walk over.

Jimmy rubs his arm, biting his lip.

“So..so there's still no sign of David or Keegan?” He asks quietly, and I hesitate, then shake my head. Spike clenches his fist and grits his teeth.

“They HAVE to still be alive! Keegan can't be-”

I shake my head and meet Spike’s eyes.

“Spike, I get it. I don't want to accept it any more than you do, but...I think Keegan and David are gone. The rod hit right where they were, and then the jets bombed the entire East sector.” I say, and Spike goes to say something, then he closes his mouth and stalks off, walking over to Cody, who meets my eyes sadly.

I shake my head, and he closes his eyes morosely.

Jimmy walks over to a rock and sits down, throwing pebbles towards the ocean, now churning with debris from the attack.

I can't believe…….

I don't want to accept it, but……

Taking a deep breath, I close my eyes, and sit down on the ground, leaning my head on my arms propped on my legs. Holt crouches next to me and puts his hand on my shoulder.

“Captain, I understand. I've lost many a man before, but this, losing Russ, it hurts more than any of them. He was an amazing kid. Determination and strength. He held those two qualities as if he himself had invented them.”

Jimmy glances over with a frown.

“Stop talking about him in the past tense, like he's already gone. I know he's not! Or David! I know they're alive! I just know it!” He shouts, and Ryan walks over to sit next to him.

“Jimmy, it's one thing to hope. It's another to waste time denying the inevitable.” He remarks, and Jimmy narrows his eyes.

“I hate your pessimistic attitude, Ryan! You never think anyone is ever gonna survive-”

“I DON'T THINK THAT, JIM! I’M JUST MORE READY THAN MOST TO ACCEPT THE TRUTH!” He retorts, and it goes quiet, as all the other soldiers on the bank look up to find the quarrel.

Jimmy stares at him with wide eyes, then tears run down his face.

“You don't get it, do you? They were our friends, Ryan! Our FRIENDS! And you just want to abandon them! Well, I hope that you have enough conscience left to feel guilty!” He yells, then he jumps up and storms off.

I watch him go with wide eyes, then look back to Holt, who shakes his head. Jackson walks up towards us, also watching Jimmy go.

“Damn, I've never seen him that mad.” He states, and I shrug.

“We all wish it weren't true. Now I've lost two of my men. Logan is awol, and Keegan is-”

I choke on his name, closing my eyes with a deep breath.

“I wish I could have…...I wish I could have said goodbye….” I mutter, then a shout from down the beach makes my head turn.

Cody comes running up to me with wide eyes.

“THOMAS!! YOU'RE GONNA WANT TO HEAR THIS!!” He yells, and my eyebrow raises.

He reaches us with Spike and John right behind him.

He hands me the radio, and I hear static coming over it. I shake my head.

“Cody, all there is is static. What is it you want me to hear?” I ask, and John crosses his arms.

“Wait a minute. It'll come through again.” He states certainly, and I look at him skeptically, then sigh.

We all await any sound from the radio, then a slight break in the static makes me straighten up.

“This….gan….cation 04 east, 27 north…..questing….diate assistan-....”

My eyes widen, and I look up at Cody.

“That first came through about five minutes ago. I can't really distinguish any voices for sure, but I’m almost positive that voice is Logan’s.” He says, and Spike’s eyes widen.

“So he's back?! What the hell is he doing contacting over the radio on this frequency, and why?” He wonders, and I stare at the radio mesmerizingly.

“Because he found them….” I murmur, and Spike looks up.

“What?”

I raise my gaze to look at everyone.

“He found them! Logan found Keegan and David!” I shout, and Jimmy glances up from far off, eyes wide.

“What?!”

He runs over to us and meets me wide-eyed.

“THEY'RE OKAY?!” He exclaims, and I shake my head.

“I don't know…..but we do know where they are. Logan….if it is him, just gave us coordinates.”

I look up at Holt.

“We need to go find them. They're most likely hurt, and we can't wait around and let the Federation soldiers pick them off!” I shout, and Jimmy nods.

“I’m with Merrick. We have to go find them!” He exclaims, and Spike frowns.

“Those coordinates…..they're in the East sector. They're still in the base!” He says, and I stop, then raise my eyebrow.

“WHAT?! How are they still in the base?!” I shout, and Cody crosses his arms.

“Does it matter?! We need to get going!” He stresses, and I nod.

“You're right.”

Turning to Spike, I sigh.

“Spike, I know you're gonna hate me, but I need you to stay here with the others, while Jimmy, Cody and I go to find them.”

Spike’s eyes widen.

“NO! I’m going with you!!” He yells, and Jackson puts his hand on Spike’s shoulder.

“Hey. We'll monitor them on the radio. Don't worry.” He comforts.

John nods.

“I’m going with you, too. You'll need a medic if they're hurt.” He determines, and I sigh.

Cody outstretches his hand, and I take it as he lifts me to my feet.

I meet Spike’s grey, cold, sad eyes.

“I'll bring him back, Spike. I will.” I say, and Spike sighs.

“Let's just hope he's alive when you do.” He mutters, then he slowly walks off.

Taking a deep breath, Cody puts his hand on my shoulder.

“Come on. Let's go find our friends.” I nod, then pick up my gun from beside me.

With one last look sweeping everyone, Jimmy, Cody, John and I all run towards the East wall of the base.


 

Creeping along, we hug the wall, or what's left of it. Fire and rubble surround it, and we can't get close enough to climb over it.

Jimmy sighs.

“Where can we even get in? There's just fire everywhere!” He says, and Cody takes a breath, then looks ahead.

“There's a few areas without fire up there. We can get in there.” He tells, and we all nod.

John follows closely behind me, finger on the trigger of his handgun. He shakes his head, then walks closer to me.

“Thomas, you need to understand that if they are hurt very badly, they may not be able to be saved.” He says softly, and I cringe.

“No. We'll save them, John,” I confirm, then I mutter under my breath.

“Please, god, let them be okay.”

We reach the area where there's no fire, and Cody starts to climb over the rubble. Jimmy follows him, then John, and finally me.

Jumping down the other side, I find the men staring with wide eyes. My chest tightens when I see the incredible carnage that used to be the base.

Trucks on fire scatter the ground, fire and debris litter the open area, and the unmoving bodies of soldiers lay in their bloody graves.

Jimmy’s eyes are wide, and he looks about ready to cry. Walking over to him, I hold his shoulder.

“I’m sorry you have to see this, Jim.” I utter, and he shakes his head.

“It's not that.” He murmurs.

“I’m just thinking about how despite everything that was happening, and all the risks, Keegan and David still didn't run. They were still here because they were going to fight off the Feds. I know David. That was his thought. His determination and stubbornness can't be reasoned with.” He states, and I smile slightly.

David is so similar to Hesh, it's hard to believe.

Then Cody steps forward, puts his hands around his mouth, and calls out.

“LOGAN?! KEEGAN?! DAVID?!” He yells, and we all anxiously await any sound.

A gust of wind blows a spiral of snow in the air, then a shout carries to us.

“CODY?!” It calls, and my eyes widen.

Jimmy starts running.

“Come on! It came from this way!” He shouts, and we follow him, weaving in and out of the wreckage.

Jimmy calls out again.

“LOGAN, WE'RE COMING!!” He yells, then a desperate cry comes back.

“PLEASE!!! I NEED HELP!!!!” He screams, and the darkest pit forms in my stomach.

Jimmy sprints ahead of all of us, and I catch John’s worried eye. Then another shout from ahead comes back to us, but this time it's Jimmy.

“GUYS, GET OVER HERE!!!” He yells, his voice despairing.

As we come around an overturned, burning truck, I stop, eyes wide, staring at the four men in front of me.

Jimmy kneels next to Logan, turned the other way, frantically trying to do something.

“Logan…” I utter, and his head snaps around, then his eyes widen.

“Thomas….”

The fear in his eyes makes my stomach knot up, and John runs over to him.

As he reaches Logan, I see his eyes widen, and I force myself to move closer.

As I near, I see David leaning against the sheet of metal stuck in the ground, torn from the trucks. His shirt is soaked with blood, his teeth gritted in pain, gun fallen to the side from his hand. He slowly opens his eyes and looks over at me with pain, but relief.

I bite my lip.

“Keegan?...” I slowly say, and David averts his eyes, then looks to Logan.

My chest tightens, and I move over to Logan. Looking over his shoulder, my eyes widen.

Keegan lays on the ground, the snow around him bright red. Blood runs from his mouth, his chest is shredded with shrapnel, his jacket soaked crimson. A shot in his shoulder and leg both bleed profusely and his pale skin rivals the white snow.

My throat closes up as I drop to my knees, eyes wide with fear.

“Keegan….” His name softly escapes my lips.

Logan glances up at me, and he sighs.

John kneels next to David, but David shakes his head.

“NO! Help Keegan first!” He cries, pain in his voice. John frowns.

“David-”

He stops himself, then looks up at Jimmy.

“Carney, I need you to bandage David’s wound. Here, take the gauze, wrap it tightly.” He says, handing Jimmy some wrap, who kneels to start treating David.

John turns to Logan, who meets his eyes with fear. He crouches down to Keegan, then bites his lip.

Logan’s eyes fill with pain.

“What?! Can you help him?!” He asks frantically, and John takes a deep breath.

Kneeling down, he puts his fingers to Keegan’s neck to check for a pulse.

My eyes have tears on the edge as I look at Keegan’s young face.

More than ever does he look like the seventeen-year-old boy who saved our lives fighting against the Federation.

The young, rebellious, funny, caring young kid that I met in the Marines.

He can't die...

Please...

John sits up and frowns. Taking a deep breath, he turns to us.

“Guys, he's almost gone. I'll do what I can, but I can't guarantee anything.” He reveals, and my eyes widen, as do Logan’s.

He shakes his head.

“No...no, you have to be able to do something. I can't lose him! I CAN'T LOSE HIM!!!” Logan yells, and John leans back, wide-eyed, along with Cody, Jimmy, and David.

I grab Logan and hold him under the arms, dragging him back.

He kicks and flails in my arms, screaming.

“THOMAS, LET ME GO!!! I CAN'T LET KEEGAN DIE!!!! NO!!” He screeches, and I take a shaky breath, holding him back tight.

“LOGAN! Logan, calm down!” I try, turning him away.

He stops flailing, then his shoulders start to shake.

I slowly loosen my hold, and he slumps down to the ground. He leans forward, planting his hands on the ground to steady himself as he sobs.

“Keegan….no….it's just like Hesh….” He cries, and my eyes widen.

Sighing, I kneel next to him and put my arm around his shoulder.

“Logan…..it's okay...Just...If...if he…”

I can't bring myself to say it.

Shaking my head, I pull him closer.

“I’m here for you. You know that.” I say comfortingly, and he nods, then leans his head on my shoulder.

“I just….I can't do this again...not again……” He murmurs dejectedly as more tears stream down his face.

The small bit of blood on his hands from holding Keegan creates red handprints in the snow, and I close my eyes shut tight.

Glancing back over my shoulder towards the others, Cody meets my eyes, and he shakes his head.

I nod, holding back tears.

He's not going to make it.

I know that much.

As strong as he is, I think Keegan’s luck of dodging bullets finally ran out.

Now the bullet he almost dodged shot all of us, too.

Chapter Text

---- hours

Hesh

I watch with wide eyes as the medic frantically tries to help Keegan, and another soldier helps David.

It's crazy how much he really does look like me.

But I’m not there.

Not for Keegan or Logan.

Clenching my fists, I grit my teeth.

I’m so goddamn useless now.

I couldn't protect my little brother, and I left him alone.

I left Keegan, too.

Not that I wanted to, or that it was my fault.

It wasn't.

But I still feel guilty as all hell.

Now I’m watching as one of my brothers is dying before my eyes.

Merrick holds Logan close as my little brother sobs into his shoulder. Cody kneels next to the medic, staring down at Keegan with a strained expression.

“Come on, kid….your brother still needs you.” He mutters, and I feel my chest tighten.

Closing my eyes, a tear falls from my cheek.

“Hesh?”

A small voice from behind me makes me spin around, and my eyes widen, then fill with tears.

Keegan meets my eyes, bites his lip, then sighs.

“I…..Hesh, I don't….”

Keegan hangs his head, and tears run down his face to drip from his chin.

I take a deep breath, then walk over to him, and pull him into a hug.

“I’m so sorry, Keegan.” I murmur, and he shakes his head, pressed against my shoulder as he hugs me back tightly.

“I tried…...I tried to keep him safe….now I can't…..” He sobs, and I close my eyes.

“Keegan, it's not your fault. Logan….I know he's strong. He’ll be able to go on. It may be hard, but he can. He's our brother , Keegan. All we can do now is watch over him. And David. I have faith that he can protect him. And Logan likewise.”

I pull away from the hug, and meet Keegan’s icy blue eyes. He looks up at me sadly, and it feels to me like we're both eighteen again.

Young and scared.

He takes a shaky breath. Looking up at me, he bites his lip.

“There's no point in still fighting, is there?” He asks quietly, glancing at John trying to save him.

I hesitate, then sigh, shaking my head slightly.

“No.” I respond softly.

Keegan nods, tears rolling down his cheeks.

The once unfeeling Ghost has grown to have the most sensitive feelings after having Logan and I as brothers.

He cares so much, about everyone .

But still everything bad happens to him. He's been hurt far more than Logan and I.

Honestly, I didn't think that it was possible, because of everything we went through, but Keegan has been hurt so much more.

It pains me terribly, but I know that at least now he's safe with me.

Glancing up, I find him staring at Logan crying into Merrick’s shoulder.

Keegan sighs, then turns his gaze to meet my eyes.

“I don't want him to get hurt…..” He chokes out, and I nod silently, looking at my little brother, who I spent my entire life protecting with everything I could.

Now he doesn't have either Keegan or me, but he has the Ghosts, and he has David.

Turning to Keegan, I sigh.

“I don't either, but we both know he’ll keep fighting. It's what he does.” I say, and Keegan nods, then closes his eyes.

“He's still going strong. But our fight is over now.” He remarks, and I put my hand on his shoulder, making him look up.

I smile softly and sadly.

“It is. But we can still remember.” I say, and Keegan nods.

“Of course. Always remember Ghost Stalkers Two-Three, Six-Three, and Six-Four.” He says. I nod.

“He’ll carry us with him always. And we'll always be there for him.”

Keegan grins.

“That's what brothers are for.”

He glances back at Logan with a sad sigh.

“Goodbye, Logan.”


 

 

1047 hours

Spike

Pacing back and forth with the radio in my hand, I let out a heavy sigh.

Holt watches me, then shakes his head.

“Spike, you wearing a path in the ground won't solve anything. They'll get back here. You need to stop worrying.” He says, and I whip around to face him.

“Holt, four of my friends are out there, and one of them, my little brother , could be seriously hurt! HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO NOT WORRY?!” I yell, and some of the other soldiers step back a bit.

Ryan walks up to me and frowns.

“Spike, cool it. Two of my friends are out there too, dumbass. But I’m just tryin’ to keep a cool head because I know that freakin’ out will only make things worse.” He says bluntly, and I grit my teeth, then sigh.

“Fine.” I force, sitting down on a rock.

Jackson walks up next to Holt, and shakes his head.

“My men are good soldiers. David is strong, and knowing him, he fought hard to keep them both safe. Jimmy is determined and John is caring. The two of them will help Keegan and David and Logan, and bring them back, Sergeant.” He says, and I close my eyes, leaning my elbows on my knees as I put my head in my hands.

“Please...just let them be okay….” I mutter.

Ryan sits down next to me, and slowly glances up.

“Spike, they'll be okay. I know ya think I’m a jerk and I don't care. But that's so far from the truth. I’m worried about my friends, too. But unlike you, I know when to let it go.” he says, and I turn my head to look at him.

“Look, I don't expect you to understand. You may think you do, but you don't. It's something about being a Ghost. You protect each other, you care about each other, you love each other. We are all brothers, and closer than anyone could be. What we've all been through, it forms strong bonds that you can't just let go of.” I explain, my voice cracking a bit.

Ryan nods, dropping his head down.

“Okay. You're right. But I’m just sayin’. It ain't gonna solve anything.” He says, then he sighs.

Suddenly, a shout carries over the wind, and I turn to see Jimmy running down the beach. My eyes widen, and I bolt to my feet.

“Jimmy!” I shout, and he runs over to us.

Skidding to a stop, he plants his hands on his knees, catching his breath. Ryan holds his shoulders.

“What is it?” He asks, and Jimmy looks up with wide eyes.

My stomach knots up when I see the many emotions in them.

But the most prominent one is sorrow.

Taking a deep breath, I meet his eyes.

“Jim, where's Merrick and the others?” I ask strictly, and Jimmy turns his head.

“They're coming…..I need you guys to listen….There's about thirty Federation soldiers headed after us. We managed to get enough of a head start to avoid them, but they know we're headed here.” Holt nods, as does Jackson.

“I'll tell the men.” He says, and they both walk off.

I hold Jimmy’s shoulders, staring at him.

“Did you find Keegan and David?! Are they okay?!” I demand, and Jimmy opens his mouth to say something when I see someone walking down the bank from the base.

My eyes widen.

“CODY!!” I yell, and he looks up as I run over to him.

John follows him, with David leaning on him for support, hopping on one leg.

I flinch when I see the bloody bandages that cover his torso and the dismal, tear-streaked face he presents. I stop in front of Cody.

“Where's Keegan? And Logan? And Merrick?” I ask frantically, and Cody looks up to meet my eyes, and that same expression of sorrow fills them.

He opens his mouth to say something, but no words come out.

A pit forms in my stomach, and I step back a little.

“Cody….” I slowly say, and Cody averts his eyes from mine.

“I’m sorry, Spike.” He utters quietly, and my eyes widen.

Looking over his shoulder, I see Logan walking down, eyes red, behind him Merrick.

The soldiers all look up, and their eyes widen as Merrick comes over.

I shake my head, eyes wide.

“No….no…” I murmur, tears forming in my eyes as my gaze locks on the young man in his arms.

Keegan hangs in Merrick’s hold, covered in blood. Merrick falls to his knees, closing his eyes shut as he holds Keegan closer. I run to his side, and drop next to him.

My eyes widen as I stare at the young boy he holds. Keegan’s chest is ripped apart by shrapnel, soaking his shirt with blood, and two gunshots in his shoulder and leg both expel blood generously.

A stain of red covers his chin, where the blood has run from his mouth. His eyes are closed, his head fallen lifelessly to the side, arm hanging limply over Merrick’s.

I feel a lack of air in my lungs as I just sit with my mouth open, trying to say something, but failing.

Merrick looks up with tears in his eyes, and I take a shaky, choked breath.

“No...no, he can't…...Keegan….he….” I stutter, then I reach my hand towards him.

Setting it gently on his shoulder, I feel the sudden pain, and the tears that were waiting on the edge of my eyes now rush over my cheeks.

“NO!!! NONONO!!! KEEGAN!!!!” I scream, and the soldiers on the beach all look on with pained expressions.

I take him from Merrick’s arms, and shake my head.

Leaning my head down, I let it rest on the top of Keegan’s, his soft, messy brown hair brushing against my face.

“Keegan…..” I sob, and Merrick sniffs back a tear, then looks up behind me.

I turn my head slightly to see Logan sobbing uncontrollably into David’s shoulder, hugging him tightly. His shrieks are now audible to my ears as I take myself away from the silent bubble I was in.

Logan holds David close, crying.

“He's gone…….he can't be gone…...not like Hesh!!! PLEASE!!! NO!! BRING HIM BACK!!! GIVE ME MY KEEGAN BACK!!!” He screams, and my throat closes up.

Looking down at the young man in my arms, I close my eyes.

I've known him for so long…..far longer than Logan has, but Logan and he had a much stronger bond than Keegan and I ever did.

He was like a little brother to me, but to Logan, he actually was a brother.

Someone who cared about him more than anything, and who would always be there.

The other soldiers around the beach slowly walk closer, and Jimmy, Ryan, John, Holt and Jackson all look down at Logan and I.

Holt crouches down, and puts his hand on my shoulder.

“I’m sorry, Spike. Keegan meant a lot to all of us. I was the one who taught him to be a soldier. You all were the ones who taught him to be a Ghost. And Logan was the one who taught him to be a brother.” He says, glancing up at Logan, whose eyes are red.

He sniffles, then buries his head in David’s shoulder again. Closing my eyes, I take a deep breath, then stand up, still holding Keegan, and walk to sit next to Logan.

He looks up, then down at his brother, then up at me, then back down to Keegan. His lip quivers, then he collapses onto Keegan, hugging his body tightly.

“You promised you'd never leave me…..” He wails, and I put my arm around his shoulder, then sigh.

“It...it's okay, Logan…” I choke out.

“At least he's with Hesh now.”

It pains me to speak those words, and everybody looks on with saddened eyes.

Logan raises his gaze slightly, then softly holds Keegan’s head.

“I’m sorry, Keegan….You're with David now…...I love you.” He murmurs sadly, and I feel tears drip down my face.

I pull Logan closer to me, closing my eyes.

He hugs me tightly, and I let my tears rain free, for the death of my best friend, and my best Ghost.

Chapter Text

1103 hours

Logan

I hug my knees close to my chest, rubbing the fabric of my pants between my fingers. My breath is shaky, and tears run down my face.

Looking over at all the soldiers, including the Ghosts, down on the beach, I bite my lip.

Leaning back a bit against the rock, my gaze slowly trains to the left to fall on the bloody body of my best friend.

My chest tightens, and my throat closes up.

“Keegan…”

More tears drip from my chin.

He can't be dead…..this has to be a dream….. please let it all just be a dream.

Shaking my head, I stand up, then walk away from the beach.

I need some air.

I kick at a rock with my boot as I stuff my hands in my pockets, walking along the edge of the crumbling wall.

“Why did it have to be him…..” I mutter with a sigh.

“At least he's with Hesh.” The words run dismally through my head.

A chuckle startles me, and I snap my head up to see a man in a Federation uniform step out from behind a tree, grinning sinisterly at me. He crosses his arms and smirks.

“Well, if it ain't Logan Walker.” He says, and I startle at his Boston accent, then I raise my eyebrow.

“You...you know who I am?” I say nervously, slowly walking backwards.

Then I hit something, and I stumble forward, turning around to see what I walked into. My eyes widen.

Trent?!” I exclaim, and he grins.

“How's it goin’, Logan?” He sneers, and I bite my lip.

The other man steps closer, and I feel my heartbeat quicken. Trent smirks.

“See, this attack was for a multitude of purposes. One, to get rid of the last base you have. Two, for Michael to get some payback.” He says, nodding at him behind me. Then he looks back down at me.

“And third, to kill the Ghosts, specifically Keegan.”

My eyes widen, and Michael snickers.

“I'd say that part went well. That kid finally got what was comin’ to him.”

I spin around furiously.

“DON'T TALK ABOUT HIM LIKE THAT, YOU SHIT!!! HE WAS MY BEST FRIEND!!! MY BROTHER!!” I screech, and he laughs.

“Yeah? So were the soldiers here. But they left me. Left me when we were all looking for you. The Ghosts. On patrol, when the Feds attacked, they left me. And your friend David? He used to be my best friend. He was on patrol with me, but when the Feds grabbed me, he stared me straight in the eye, then ran. He RAN!

My eyes widen. David left him behind? Why would he leave him?

I shake my head.

“I still don't see what I have to do with thi-”

Trent grabs my arm, and pulls me close.

“You're the most valuable Ghost, Logan. They'll all do anything to make sure you're okay. David will do anything. So we're gonna use that to our advantage.” He cackles, then he looks up at Michael.

“Take him. I'll go get our other friend.”

Trent walks off a bit, and Michael grabs me harshly, holding a gun to my head. Glaring down at me, he frowns.

“I'd just keep still if I were you, kid. Trent wants you alive, but I'll be happy to stop your heart in a second.” He growls, and I smirk.

“I’m sure you would. Seems like everyone does.” I retort, and Michael grits his teeth, pressing the gun against my temple.

“Logan…. Don't push me.” He snarls, and I shut my mouth.

Then Michael’s earpiece beeps, and he puts his finger up to it.

“You got him?”

A pause, and Michael grins.

“Great. Time to give Boston a little taste of pain.” Michael takes his finger away from his ear, then starts dragging me back towards the beach.

I glare up at him.

“Give them a taste of pain, huh? You mean more than you've already done today?!” I exclaim, and Michael laughs.

“You may be a Ghost, Logan, but not even you can stop what we did.” He says, and I bite my lip as the image of Keegan’s body flashes through my mind.

As we clear the tree line, I can see the soldiers down near the beach, talking amongst themselves. John sits next to David, rebandaging his side.

Michael’s gaze falls on them, and he narrows his eyes.

“He’ll get what's comin’.” He mutters, then he raises the gun, firing two shots into the air.

Every single soldier immediately spins around, the ones with guns ready and alert. Their eyes widen, and Michael chuckles.

“Look who's back in Boston, bitches!!!” He shouts, aiming his gun at them.

David stands up wide-eyed, staring at me and Michael.

“Mike…..” David says breathlessly, and Michael’s eyes narrow.

His grip around me tightens, and I flinch. David reaches his hand out towards me.

“Logan…”

I shake my head, and Michael presses the gun against my head.

“You bastards all left me to die. I thought brothers in arms were brothers for life.” He turns his gaze sharply on David.

“And you. You were right next to me, and we were fighting side by side, but when the Feds grabbed me, you RAN, David!! I THOUGHT YOU AND I WERE FRIENDS, YOU ASSHOLE!!” He yells, and David’s eyes are wide.

“Mike, I’m sorry….I’m so sorry.”

Michael shakes his head.

“IT'S TOO LATE FOR THAT.” He stresses, then he narrows his eyes.

“I swear, I’ll kill you.” He hisses, and my eyes widen.

“IF YOU TOUCH DAVID, MICHAEL, I’LL KILL YOU!!” I yell, then Michael hits me with the butt of his gun, and I groan, feeling a track of blood run down my forehead.

“Logan, I'd keep that mouth of yours shut. Remember what I said before.” He growls.

Jackson steps forward with narrowed eyes.

“Corporal Michael Preston, stand down!! Let Logan go!” He shouts, then another two shots behind them sound off, and I look over, my eyes widening.

Trent holds Jimmy in a chokehold, a gun pressed to his head. He smirks as he meets the Ghosts’ eyes.

“Hey, gang. Good to see you again.” He says nonchalantly.

Spike bolts to his feet, and grits his teeth.

“TRENT, YOU MOTHER FUCKER, I’M GONNA KILL YOU!!!!” He screams, and Trent laughs, then presses the gun harder against Jimmy’s head. Jim whimpers in fear, and I meet his scared eyes.

Spike takes a step back, letting out a deep breath. Trent nods.

“There you go. And which thing are you going to kill me for, Spike? Helping Davis kill Hesh? Helping him kill Gavin? Killing Sam? Killing Cameron? Shooting Logan? Torturing Keegan to the brink of death? Attacking West Point? Killing Keegan?!

He emphasises the last sentence as he glances over at Keegan’s bloodied body with a smirk, and I struggle in Michael’s hold, thinking of my brother.

Spike’s eyes widen, then he clenches his fists. Trent laughs.

“You think I wasn't watching where Keegan was during the entire attack? I made sure I always knew where he was, so I could perfectly aim that bomb to tear him apart.” He says maliciously, and David jumps up.

“YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE!! I WATCHED HIM GET HIT BY THAT BLAST!!!” He yells, then his eyes tear up.

“The fear that he had...was that your plan?! Make us scared for our lives, then take his?!” He shouts, and Trent grins.

“Pretty much. But there's still this part of the plan. Where Michael gets revenge on West Point, and I get back at the Ghosts.”

My eyes widen, and I shake my head.

“Trent, Thrash wanted to get back at us. Why do you want to hurt the-”

“YOU KILLED RAMON!! MY BEST FRIEND!!” He screams viciously, and I lean back, startled.

Merrick takes a deep breath, then looks up to Trent.

“Listen. I get it. But you didn't have to take the path Davis chose for you. You could have chosen your own. Ramon was just caught in the crossfire.” He says lightly, and Trent narrows his eyes.

“I’m also just tired of being your soldier for all these years. NO. THANKS.”

He looks down at Jimmy, who stares at David fearfully. Trent shrugs.

“I don't really see why I’m keeping you around.” He flicks off the safety of his gun, and my eyes widen.

Ryan suddenly jumps up, and throws his hands out.

“NO!” He shouts, and Trent looks up, as well as Jimmy.

Ryan shakes his head, taking a deep breath.

“Please...don't hurt him….” He murmurs, and Trent scoffs.

“People get hurt all the time. There's nothing you can do about it. But if you're so adamant on him not getting hurt, then we'll hurt someone else.”

He looks up at Michael, then down at me with a smirk.

My eyes widen, and Merrick spins around with wide eyes.

“NOT LOGAN!!” He yells, and Trent chuckles, shaking his head.

“Who ever said anything about Logan?” He says coolly, and my eyebrow raises, then the gun held to my head starts to swing to the side, and I follow the path, then my eyes widen when I see the target.

David…..

“NO!” I yell as Michael goes to pull the trigger.

Gritting my teeth, I wrench myself from Michael’s arms, throwing myself towards the gun.

The bang rings out, and the gun clatters to the ground from his hand.

David’s eyes widen as I stand, panting, then glare up at Michael.

“DON'T shoot my brother.” I growl, and Michael stares at me, as do the other soldiers. Trent sighs.

“So now he's your brother, too? Are you that desperate for a family, Logan?” He remarks snidely, and my eyes widen, my chest tightening.

Then my eyes narrow, and I glare at Trent.

“Shut it, you sack of shit.” I snarl, turning towards him.

David’s eyes widen, and Merrick looks over at me. His eyes fill with concern.

“Logan….”

I glance at David, and see his gaze dropped at me a little, and as I slowly look down, I find a dark stain slowly spreading across my stomach.

Eyes wide, I spin my head back to Michael, who grins with narrowed eyes.

“Gotcha.” He voices, and I open my mouth to reply, but no noise comes out.

David gazes at me with fearful eyes, and John runs over to me as I drop to my knees. Catching me in his arms, he shakes his head, staring down at me.

“Come on, Logan. Just keep your eyes on me.” He says, and I nod, staring into his bright green eyes.

“I...I’m okay….” I murmur, and John nods slowly.

“Yeah….”

The hesitation in his voice worries me, then I hear screaming from behind us, and I try to turn my head, but John holds me still.

“Logan, just stay down-”

I shove his arm out of the way, and turn to see David holding Trent to the ground, Jimmy shaking in fear next to Ryan.

David’s eyes are full of rage, and my eyes widen.

“....David…” I mutter as he shakes Trent’s shoulders.

“WHY DID YOU HAVE TO KILL KEEGAN?! I SAT HELPLESS BESIDE HIM AS HE DIED BECAUSE YOU PIECES OF SHIT HAD A USELESS VENDETTA!!!” He screams, and I blink slowly, turning my gaze back to John.

I hadn't even felt it, but he had put his hand to my chest to stop the bleeding. Pressing hard, he sighs, then glares up at Michael.

“You know, you used to be a good man, Mike.” He says, and Michael meets his eyes with a raised eyebrow.

"Yeah? I guess people change, John. Some for reasons no one else would understand." He growls, his gaze making its way to David. I shake my head, flinching from the pain it causes.

"Michael, do you really think that the Federation will help you? Trent is a lying bastard, and he-"

Michael clenches his fists, glaring at me. "SHUT IT, LOGAN! Trent saved me! He's a better friend than anyone here was!!" He expresses strongly, and John raises his eyebrow.

"More than David was? He always had your back. You were best friends. You cared about each other. Does Trent really care about you? Really?" He questions seriously, and Michael goes to retort, but freezes.

A sudden look of confusion crosses his face, as if he were battling with multiple ideas in his head. I raise my eyebrow, studying him, and in his eyes, I can see traces of guilt and regret. I take a deep breath, then look up at him.

"Michael, I know you still care about David. And I know you do realise that Trent is only in this for himself. So.....what are you thinking now?" I ask curiously, and John meets my eyes, and Michael stares at me shockingly. Then he tenses up, closing his eyes.

"I don't know." He says forcefully, and John tilts his head a little.

"You don't know what?"

Michael's expression changes from stress to sadness, then to frustration.

"John, I don't know why I'm doing what I'm doing." He says through the many emotions.

John shakes his head.

“There's still time to remedy that.” he says, looking down at me, then back up at him with compassion.

Michael glances from me to John, to Trent, to David, back to John, then finally down to me. He sighs, and glances up at David holding Trent down, then runs over to us.

Crouching down next to John, he frowns.

“What the hell do you mean, ‘remedy’? How can I undo what we've done? We blew up the entire fucking West Point base, John! And now I shot Logan!” He exclaims, and I shake my head, propping myself up on my elbow.

“Actually, you kinda didn't. You were aiming at David. I was the one who threw himself in front of the gun and got himself shot. So, I mean, I guess you kinda-”

I look up to see Michael giving me an annoyed look, and I shut my mouth abruptly.

“Sorry.”

He nods, then John meets his eyes.

“You can help us, Michael. That's how. Come back to us.”

Michael's eyes widen, and an opportunistic look crosses them.

"Come back to you? Even after what happened?" He asks wondrously, and John nods.

Michael bites his lip, looking down at me, then up at John, who nods. Michael sighs, and looks down at me.

“.....I’m sorry, Logan…..I’m sorry about Keegan….” He murmurs, his voice full of regret.

I stare at him with wide eyes, then crack a smile.

“It's not your fault. Just come back to the Boston Company. I can tell you're still a good man, Michael. And I know you know it, too.” I say softly, and Michael grins slightly, then nods.

“Thanks, Logan.” He utters quietly.

Putting my hand on his shoulder, I meet his eyes.

“You made the right choice. You're back where you belong, Michael.” I say strongly, and he nods with a comforted smile.

“Yeah…..I am.”

Chapter Text

1110 hours

Trent

David holds me down, and I sigh, glaring at him. The two soldiers on either side of him stand attentive, but David shakes his head, glancing back at them.

“Go. I've got this son of a bitch.” He growls, and the soldiers share a skeptical look, then reluctantly obey.

David looks back down at me with hate in his eyes, and I smirk.

“Son of a bitch, huh? How ‘bout the person who killed your best friend by sending a jet after the both of you?” I taunt, and David’s eyes widen, then narrow in hate.

He swings at me, his fist connecting straightly with my cheek. I flinch slightly, then chuckle.

“You’re not getting him back, David. Just like Tyler.”

His eyes widen, and I know I hit a nerve.

“How...how do you know about him?...” His voice is fearful, and I snicker.

“Michael told me about what happened. Sounds pretty traumatizing. Sucks that it happened to you twice .” I mock, and David’s breath grows heavy, holding back his rage.

He bites his lip, looking back towards Keegan’s body, and Logan sitting up, having just been helped by John. He shakes his head, and I can see tears on the edge of his eyes.

Smirking, I suddenly reach up and grab him in a chokehold, covering his mouth with my hand so as not to make a sound.

He struggles in my hold, but no sound comes from his mouth, and none of the soldiers happen to see us.

I start to drag him towards the dock, and David’s eyes widen. He pushes against me, but I tighten my hold.

Pulling the gun from the holster on his leg, I hold it to his head.

“Now just stay still, David, and this’ll all play out fine.” I hiss in his ear.

Turning my gaze on the soldiers, I grin.

“HEY, LOGAN!!!” I yell, and all heads turn on me, then eyes widen.

Logan bolts to his feet, eyes filled with fear as he meets David’s gaze. Smirking, I shake my head.

“Man, three times in one day do I have the Boston soldiers with a gun to their head. I think that may be a new record.” I taunt, and Michael looks up at me, eyes narrowed.

“TRENT, SHUT YOUR FUCKING MOUTH!!” He shouts, and I roll my eyes.

“You know, Preston, I knew that you were gonna team back up with them when we came to Boston. Doesn't matter now, though. I've got what I want right here.” I say, looking down at David, pushing the gun into his side where the bandage still wraps from his previous wound. David winces, and Logan starts forward.

“Trent, PLEASE!! Leave him alone!!!” He yells, and I glance down at David, then back up at Logan.

“Why? Is he your new Hesh? The weak excuse of a Walker boy?” I ask jauntily, and Merrick’s eyes narrow.

“Trent, you son of a bitch, don't you dare talk about him that way!” He defends resentfully, and I smirk.

David struggles in my grasp, but I tighten my hold on him again. Slowly backing down the dock towards the end, I meet Logan’s eyes as the other soldiers stand restlessly.

Boring deep into Logan’s gaze, I grin sinisterly.

“So. Logan. How many friends have you watched die in front of you? I'd say about eighty five percent of the Ghosts, am I right?” I pry, and Logan’s fists clench.

“Trent…..” He mutters through gritted teeth, and I laugh.

Pulling David over to the edge of the dock, I smile.

“How ‘bout one more?”

Logan’s eyes widen, and he shakes his head.

“WAIT!!”

As David struggles again, I hit him upside the head with the butt of the pistol, and his head drops.

Smirking, I look up at Logan, holding the gun aimed at him.

“So. Are you going to save your best friend?” I press the gun against the wounded side of his body, then pull the trigger, the bullet ripping through David’s side, bringing with it a spurt of blood.

Logan freezes, eyes wide.

“NO!!”

I laugh, then push David’s limp body off the dock, and the second he hits the water, he disappears below the dark surface.

Logan’s eyes grow huge, then he sprints down the dock, completely ignoring me, and dives into the water after David.

Smirking, I hold the gun towards the other soldiers, while still looking at the ripples and bubbles coming from where the two disappeared.

“Check and Mate.”


 

 

1110 hours

Logan

Sitting up, I put my hand to the small bandage John put on my chest. Sighing, he looks at me.

“Good thing the shot wasn't deep or too bad. You got lucky.” He says, and Michael bites his lip as he looks at me.

Placing my hand on his shoulder, I shake my head.

“Mike, don't worry about it.” I say, and he smiles. Then a shout catches my attention.

“HEY, LOGAN!!”

Turning around, my eyes widen to find Trent standing on the dock with David held tightly in his arms, his hand clamped over David’s mouth, a gun pressed to his already bloodied side.

Trent smiles at me, and I stand up quickly, meeting David’s eyes with fear. Trent snickers.

“Man, three times in one day do I have the Boston soldiers with a gun to their head. I think that may be a new record.” He taunts, and Michael narrows his eyes.

“TRENT, SHUT YOUR FUCKING MOUTH!!” He yells angrily, and Trent rolls his eyes.

“You know, Preston, I knew that you were gonna team back up with them when we came to Boston. Doesn't matter now, though. I've got what I want right here.” He looks down at David, pressing the gun harder into his side.

I flinch, then shake my head.

“Trent, PLEASE!! Leave him alone!!!” I plead, and Trent scoffs at me.

“Why? Is he your new Hesh? The weak excuse of a Walker boy?”

My eyes widen, and I lose breath as the image of Hesh flashes through my head.

Trent smiles in satisfaction at his stab, and Merrick grits his teeth.

“Trent, you son of a bitch, don't you dare talk about him that way!” He reprimands, and Trent smirks.

He holds David tighter as he struggles in his arms, slowly backing down the dock. He keeps his eyes fixed on me, and grins.

“So. Logan. How many friends have you watched die in front of you? I'd say about eighty five percent of the Ghosts, am I right?”

Taking a deep breath, I clench my fists.

“Trent…..” I mutter through gritted teeth, and he grins sinisterly. He pulls David towards the edge of the dock, then glances back up at me.

“How ‘bout one more?”

My eyes widen, and I start towards him.

“WAIT!!”

David struggles in Trent’s grip, then Trent hits him upside the head with the end of his handgun, and David’s head drops down, unconscious.

My chest tightens, and Trent smirks. Aiming his gun at me, he chuckles.

“So. Are you going to save your best friend?” He asks, then he presses the gun back against David’s side and pulls the trigger. A spurt of blood follows, and my eyes widen.

“NO!!”

Trent laughs, then shoves David’s body off the dock, and my heart stops, my body freezing as I watch him sink below the surface.

All breath leaves me, then I sprint down the dock, past the sinister grin of Trent, to dive in after David. The icy cold water sends my body into a shock, but I don't care.

I have to save him.

I can barely see anything, but I think I see David’s hand slowly sinking away, and I hold my breath harder.

Pushing forward, I force myself to rush towards him.

I barely grab his hand, my breath starting to give out. I pull him up with all my strength, and wrap my arm around his waist.

Looking up towards the surface, the light seems so far away. But I clench my fist and start up.

Dragging David up, the weight is too much. My heartbeat echoes in my head, and my chest is incredibly tight.

But I can't leave him!! I can't let him die!!!

I force myself to keep going, pushing down with my arm as hard as I can, kicking through the water frantically.

His wounded side leaves a red burst in the water as I move, and I cringe.

The surface nears, and my ribs feel ready to snap from the weight on my chest. My heartbeat thunders in my head, faster and louder.

My mind travels back to when Hesh and I crashed the train eleven months ago and I saved him. Just like this.

Hesh……

You can save him, Logan. Just like you saved me. You can save him.

His voice echoes in my head, and a burst of adrenaline comes forth.

My mind sets itself, and my arm tightens around David. Pushing one last time, my head finally bursts above the surface, and I gasp longingly for air.

“LOGAN!!” Merrick yells, and he and some of the other soldiers splash into the water as I slowly make my way towards the shore.

They grab my weak body, dragging both David and I onto the rocky beach.

Panting heavily, I look over at David, and his…. still form.

My eyes widen, and I crawl over to him.

“No….David…” I whisper through a cough, putting my hand on his shoulder.

“David, please….”

The wound in his side stains the rocks under us red, and my chest tightens at the lack of response from his body.

His still, unmoving body.

One of the soldiers, Clark, holds my shoulders, as well as Merrick, hugging me from behind.

“Logan…. Let him go….” Clark says softly, but I shake my head, shoving both of their hands away to shake David’s shoulder.

I sit up and press down on his chest, then lean down to breathe air into his lungs.

My eyes are wide, and my breath quickens.

“Get up…..David, please! GET UP!!!”

Chapter Text

1112 hours

Jimmy

I hold Trent’s hands behind his back, handcuffing them and shoving his head down forcefully.

“You piece of shit.” I growl, and Trent laughs.

“I just got rid of two more soldiers. I think I’m qualified as worse than a piece of shit at this point!!”

My eyes flare, and I bring my knee up to his stomach, and he gasps. Bringing it up again, I grit my teeth.

“SHUT YOUR MOTHER FUCKING MOUTH, YOU ASSFUCK!! You don't know what you've done!!!!” I yell aggressively, and Trent smirks, blood running from his nose where my knee happened to hit him.

“Don't I? I know I just threw the dying body of Corporal David West into Boston Harbor, and I know that I sent Sergeant Logan Walker on a suicide dive after him.” He taunts, and I clench my fists, raising it to swing, but Jackson holds my hand back.

“Calm down, son. I know we all want to beat the tar of out him, but at this point, nothing will do any good.” He calms, and I sigh.

Then a sound comes from the water, and my head jerks to see Logan burst above the surface, making my eyes widen. He holds David, his arm wrapped around his waist.

Trent’s eyes narrow infuriatingly.

“He's not dead?!.....” He mutters through gritted teeth.

“LOGAN!!!” Merrick yells, and he and some of the soldiers run into the water, grabbing both him and David, dragging them out. Logan falls onto the shore, coughing and gasping for air, his body weak. He turns to his side, and his eyes widen when they fall on David.

My heart stops when I see his unmoving body, and I turn to Jackson.

“Take this piece of shit.” I say, shoving Trent towards him, then sprint down the dock to the water’s edge. Jumping over the rocks, I skid to a stop next to Logan and David. Logan is trying to give David CPR, screaming as he does.

“GET UP, DAVID!!! PLEASE!!!”

My throat closes up when I see the large stain of blood on David’s side, and the crimson stained rocks beside him. Shaking my head slowly, I feel my breathing shake.

“No….David….” I fall to my knees and press on David’s side. Logan glances up at me, then continues CPR.

“Come on, David, c‘mon!” He says through quick breaths.

Clark meets my eyes, and shakes his head solemnly. I bite my lip, looking down at my friend.

“No...he's gonna make it….he has to make it….” I murmur quietly.

Logan presses down on David’s chest again, once, twice, then leans down, sending a breath of air into his mouth. Thomas’ eyes are pained as still no response is given. Logan shakes his head.

“Please…”

Pushing again, his eyes are determined. He blows another breath into David’s mouth, then a small cough comes from David, water spewing from his mouth.

Logan’s eyes widen, and he lifts David’s head as he coughs again, the water in his mouth dripping down his chin. He breathes lightly and faintly, then looks up at Logan with half open eyes.

“..Logan..?..” He chokes out, and Logan nods, smiling with relief.

“It's me, buddy. I’m here. I've got you.” He comforts, and David nods slowly as John runs over. He immediately pulls out a bandage, wrapping gauze on the bullet wound as fast as he can. David flinches, but not much, his strength diminished.

Logan pulls him up into his lap, and takes a deep breath. David’s hand reaches up to take Logan's, and he lets out a shaky breath.

“What...what happened…?” He manages, and Clark looks over Logan’s shoulder.

“After Trent knocked you out, he put a bullet through your stomach, then dropped you into the drink. Logan immediately dove in after you, and somehow he managed to get you both to shore. You weren't breathing, so Logan frantically gave you CPR to bring you back. It's a miracle you're both alive.” He explains, and David nods, then looks up into Logan’s caring eyes.

“That's twice today you've saved me….” He murmurs quietly.

His voice trails off with a smirk, his eyes fluttering closed. Logan tenses up, and his eyes go wide.

“David?...”

His hand drops from Logan’s, and Logan stops.

David?!”  He yells, shaking his best friend.

David’s head falls limply to the side, and Logan’s eyes go wider than dinner plates.

“DAVID!!” He screeches, and Thomas tears him away from David as John and Clark try to help him. I shake my head and start forward, when Ryan grabs me from behind. I kick and flail in his grasp.

“RYAN, LET ME GO!!” I scream, but Ryan holds me tighter. He and Thomas drag Logan and I away from the beachfront, keeping us from our friend.

“NO!!! THOMAS PLEASE!!! I NEED TO HELP HIM!! HE'S MY BEST FRIEND!!!” Logan screams, tears streaming down his face.

My chest tightens, and I slump in Ryan’s hold, all faith leaving me. He holds me steady, and shakes his head.

“Jimmy….just breathe…..John and Clark can help David. They know what they're doing. Clark is a good medic. Just like John. It's a good thing they're both here. But in order for them to help him, you and Logan need to stay back.”

I glance up at Logan, who meets my eyes, his face tearstained and red eyed. He sighs, and falls to the ground.

“David…”


 

 

1120 hours

Hesh

I watch as Keegan runs to David’s side, wide-eyed.

“Shit, shit, shit….” He mutters, and I turn to look at my brother, crying as Merrick holds him back.

I start towards him, then hesitate, looking back towards Keegan next to John. My gaze switches between the two, and I bite my lip.

Taking a deep breath, I close my eyes, then spin and run over to my brother. Falling to my knees next to him, I feel tears sting my face at the pain he's in.

“Logan….” I choke out his name, and shake my head.

I wish I could just hold him in my arms, be a big brother again, and just tell him, '"It's okay".

But I can't.

Because the same pieces of shit that hurt me now might have killed Logan’s best friend.

Slowly, I reach my hand out, and place it on top of his planted on the ground.

Logan flinches, his eyes shooting open. His gaze immediately drops to his hand, and Merrick raises his eyebrow.

“Logan? Are you okay?” He wonders.

I wrap my fingers around Logan’s hand, and his eyes widen even more. Glancing up, he looks straight at me, and I feel a pain shoot through my chest as I know he can't see me.

I release his hand, drawing back, and Logan takes a short breath.

“Logan? Are you alright?” Merrick asks again, and Logan slowly nods his head, looking back down at his hand.

“Yeah...yeah, I’m okay….” He murmurs, still staring at his hand.

Then I barely hear him utter,

“Hesh….”

My eyes widen, and I clench my fists.

“Logan.” I say straightly, and Logan immediately tenses up.

His head snaps up, looking around.

Merrick jumps to high alert, and looks on with worry.

“Logan! What is it?!” He asks, but Logan’s gaze still just sweeps around.

Biting my lip, I take a deep breath.

“Logan. I need to get you alone. Please.” I say.

Damn, please let this work….

Logan’s eyes snap open, and he turns to Merrick, glancing over his shoulder.

“Hey, Thomas, I just need a moment, okay?” He says, slowly standing up and starting to back up a bit.

Merrick hesitates, then nods slowly.

“Uh, yeah. Sure. Just stay in view and don't run off.” He says, and Logan nods, then turns to walk towards the wall a bit away. I follow him closely.

Stopping at a part of crumbled rock, he looks over his shoulder, then bites his lip, closing his eyes.

“H..Hesh?” His voice shakes, and I take a deep breath.

Putting my hand on his shoulder, I nod, though he can't see it.

“Yeah...It's me….” I confirm, and Logan’s mouth turns to a great smile.

He sits down, and I next to him. Keeping my hand on his shoulder, I sigh.

“Are you okay?” I ask softly, and Logan nods, wiping a tear away through his smile.

“Hesh….I....it's so good to hear your voice..." He makes out, and I smile.

"I know, Logan. I miss you." I force, the thought painful.

Logan wipes his nose, his smile turning to a frown.

"...I still need you…” He chokes out, and I close my eyes, my chest rising and falling.

“I...I know you do….and I’m so sorry I can't be there for you.” I wrap my arms around him in a hug, and Logan’s body relaxes in comfort, tears running down his face.

He bites his lip, and I raise my eyebrow.

“Logan, what is it?” I ask, and he looks up, focusing on the nothingness.

“Is...is Keegan okay?” He asks quietly, and I sigh, then pull Logan closer.

“Yeah. He's fine. He's with me. He…”

Glancing over my shoulder towards my best friend kneeling next to David, I take a breath.

“He's helping David right now.”

Logan’s eyes widen, and he jerks up.

“What?! Is...is David going to...is he going to die ?” He chokes out the last word, and I tense up, then shake my head.

“No, Logan. Not if Keegan can do anything about it. That's why he's over there. He's doing everything he possibly can to make sure that David stays with you. And me? I’m here to be your big brother again, and be there for you when you need it most.” I say, a tear running down my face.

“I’m always here for you, Logan.”

My voice cracks, and Logan turns his head.

“Hesh?” He asks quietly, and I look at his handsome, wondering face.

“Yeah?”

Logan sighs.

“Did….did it hurt?” He asks shakily, and I raise my eyebrow.

“Did what hur-”

The question suddenly dawns on me, and I sigh, glancing up to see Logan’s pained face.

He means me. He found me dead. His older brother, the one who was supposed to take care of him, shot to death.

Taking my arm from his shoulder, I lean forward, resting my elbows on my knees.

Hesitating, I hang my head.

“Yeah. Yeah, it did…… But….it….it was over so fast….I didn't want to ever leave you, Logan….”

Tears run down my face as my voice shakes, and Logan cringes.

Wiping my face with my hand, I shake my head.

“I never meant to hurt you….” My shoulder start to shake, and I hold my face in my hands.

Then I feel a hand on my shoulder, and I look up to see Logan glancing towards me.

“Hesh….I…..I don't want you to feel like you hurt me...It wasn't your fault. I’m just….I’m just glad it was over quick so you….so you didn't suffer…” His voice cracks, and I sit up to look into his deep blue eyes, even though I know he can't find the light brown of my own.

“Logan….I’ll do anything and everything to protect you. Even if I’m not there by your side with you, I’m always right here.” I tell, and Logan cracks a small smile.

“And….And I know you're always here, Hesh. I carry you with me everyday.” He puts his hand to his dog tags, and I see mine around his neck.

A tear runs down my cheek as a grin follows on my face.

“I'll make sure you make it through this, Logan. Then, when it's really time, your time, then we can be be together again.”

Logan closes his eyes with a sigh, then looks up caringly.

“Together?”

I nod.

“Together.”

“Always?”

Smirking, I nod.

“Always, Logan. Always.”

Putting my arm around his shoulder again, I take a deep breath as I hug him tightly.

“I promise.”

Chapter Text

1120 hours

Keegan

I kneel down next to David, and my eyes widen. His side is bleeding profusely, even through the bandage that John wrapped.

I grit my teeth.

That fucker, Trent.

First he and Davis shoot Hesh. Then he takes me and tortures me to the limits of my pain. Then he burns David by making him watch me get hit by that bomb. Then David, Logan and Thomas have to watch me die?!

NO! I won't let Logan go through any more pain and lose David, too. And… I can't lose him.

I put my hand on his shoulder, and shake my head.

“David, come on, buddy. Come on, open your eyes!” I shout, shaking his shoulder lightly.

John presses down more gauze, and Clark holds David’s head up as he struggles to breathe.

My chest tightens.

Closing my eyes, I hold David’s hand tightly, wrapping my fingers around his.

“DAVID!!!” I yell, and suddenly his eyes open slightly, and he gasps for breath. John and Clark look at each other with wide eyes, and they start to work frantically.

I sigh in relief, and David blinks his eyes.

“Keegan…” he murmurs quietly, so quietly that John and Clark can't hear him.

But I can.

“David, I need you to keep your eyes open . Logan still needs you. I’m gonna help you, but I need you to just stay strong. Please, Dave. For Logan.” I urge, and David’s hand tightens around my own, even though it's not really there.

He lets out a long sigh, then closes his eyes and smiles. In a voice so soft only I can hear, he whispers,

“I will, Keegan….I’ll keep Logan safe….And I'll hold on for him….and for you.” He says, and I smile, holding his hand tighter.

Then, after a small hesitation, I throw myself down onto him in a hug. He flinches, and John and Clark pause for a moment, as they feel an odd sensation. Closing my eyes, I sigh with a smile.

“I’m right here for you, David. Always.”

I sit back up, then let John and Clark continue helping him. David’s eyes remain open, and he smiles as John quietly talks to him, comforting him as they work.

Standing up, I let out a deep breath, then turn to see Hesh sitting next to Logan on a rock. Logan smiles as they talk, and a grin creeps onto my face.

Hesh happens to glance up, meets my eyes, and I nod. He smiles happily, then holds Logan closer in a hug. Joyful tears run down his face, and I feel my spirit soar.

Seeing them together again, even if not for real, it's better than anything.

Seeing Hesh that happy? And Logan that upbeat? The smiles that those two possess could make anyone feel like the world is masked in sunshine.

After saying something to Logan, Hesh slowly stands up, and walks over to me, smiling. Meeting his eyes, I glance behind him at Logan.

“He doing okay?” I ask, and Hesh glances over his shoulder at his brother, pauses, then turns back to me with a grin.

“Yeah. He knows that we're here for him. Both him and David. And he…..he’ll keep going. I know he will.” He says, and I smile.

He shoves his hands in the pockets of his cargo pants, then glances to the side, and I watch his smile turn to a frown.

Raising my eyebrow, I step closer.

“Hesh, what is it?”

His face sports a spark of anger, and I follow his gaze to Jackson holding Trent struggling in his handcuffs. Hesh’s fists clench tight, and I put my hand on his shoulder.

“Hesh….” I say cautiously, but he turns and pushes my hand away, anger flaring in his eyes.

Stumbling back with wide eyes, I stare at him in shock. He shakes his head.

“Keegan, I can't let him live! He tortured you, he almost killed Logan, he shot David then tried to drown him, then tried to drown Logan, too! Oh, and did you forget he was one of the people who shot me?!” He yells, and I stare at him with fearful eyes.

“Hesh, just take a breath…. Please-”

Spinning around, ignoring my words, Hesh starts towards Trent.

“Oh shit….” The words run through my mind, and although I know I should try, I also know there's no stopping Hesh at this point. His mind is set, and nothing will change it. Not even Logan.

Hesh stops in front of Trent, looking him up and down.

Then in one swift movement, he brings his fist up into Trent’s stomach.

Trent gasps for air, his eyes wide. Jackson startles, looking for whatever caused Trent to lose breath.

Hesh grits his teeth, and punches Trent across the face, bringing blood from his nose. Trent flinches, and Jackson looks so confused at what's happening. Hesh grabs Trent’s face in his hand, and narrows his eyes.

“You fucker. You killed so many Ghosts, you hurt my brothers, you tried to kill David, then Logan. You killed Keegan. And YOU. KILLED. ME.” He growls, and Trent’s eyes shoot wide.

“Holy shit….” He mutters, the situation dawning on him.

“But….how are you….” He takes quick breaths, frightened. Jackson eyes him wonderingly, obviously entirely in the dark about the circumstances of the situation.

Hesh glances over at me, his hard gaze set on destruction. I shake my head, but he turns back to Trent.

“I will make you suffer, Trent. Like you made Keegan suffer.”

He slowly pulls the knife from the sheathe on his leg, and my eyes widen.

“Hesh, NO!”

Will it really hurt him? Is it possible to stab someone who’s alive when you're already…

Hesh smirks devilishly, then whispers in Trent’s ear,

“This is for Keegan.”

My eyes grow, and I watch in horror as my brother maliciously brings the knife up, burying it up to the handle in Trent’s stomach.

Trent’s eyes snap open, and he gasps, then chokes. Hesh narrows his eyes, and brings the knife up again.

Jackson’s eyes are huge, shaking his head as he watches Trent get stabbed by a nonexistent assassin.

Hesh twists the knife in Trent’s stomach, and Trent chokes again, blood spurting from his mouth.

Holt looks up, and his expression turns to that of worry and fear.

“What the f-”

Thomas looks up, as well as Logan, and a few of the soldiers. All their faces sport the same feeling; confusion, then fright.

Hesh grits his teeth in a vicious expression, and grabs Trent’s shoulder tightly.

“I swear, when you die, I'll find you, Trent Brenner, and I will put you through more pain than you can possibly imagine.” He snarls, then he stabs the knife deep into Trent’s stomach again, and Trent collapses to the ground.

Logan’s eyes grow wide, and he and Thomas run over, kneeling down next to Holt and Jackson. Thomas lifts up Trent’s head, barely breathing, moaning in pain. Holt shakes his head.

“What the hell just happened?!” He asks Jackson, who shakes his head.

“I have no idea!” He exclaims.

Hesh steps back, breathing hard. Blood drips from the blade of the knife, what just happened seemingly impossible through the veil. But sure enough, the dark red blood that runs down his hand is real, and as he glances up to meet my terrified eyes, I can't find my brother in them.

His cold hate for Trent changed the man who not moments ago was hugging and loving his brother into a vicious murderer.

“H..Hesh…” I barely whisper, and he looks down at the knife in his hand, back to me, then drops the knife to the ground, walking past me with a blank expression on his face.

Spinning around, I go to open my mouth, then a sound makes me stop.

“HESH!”

Hesh stops, and we both turn to see Logan, near the edge of the wall again, separated himself from the other soldiers. He looks around frantically, then calls his brother’s name again.

“Hesh!” I glance over, and Hesh shakes his head.

He slowly walks over towards Logan, stopping a few feet away.

“L...Logan?” He says quietly, and Logan jolts, then spins towards his voice. I freeze as I see his deep blue eyes again, and a comfort fills my body, much needing that after what I just witnessed my best friend commit.

Logan takes a deep breath, then shakes his head.

“It was you, wasn't it?” he makes out quietly, and Hesh bites his lip.

“Logan, I…” He stops, and Logan’s shoulders sag.

“Hesh...why would you...why would you kill him? You're not like this…” He murmurs, and Hesh frowns.

“Okay, first of all, he's not dead.” He retorts, then under his breath he mutters,

“Not yet.”

My eyes widen, then Hesh shakes his head.

“Secondly, he hurt you and Keegan, Logan! And David! And Gavin, and Cam, and Sam, and he murdered Slate, and….”

Hesh holds back a tear, and I look on with concern. Hesh takes a shaky breath.

“He took me and Keegan from you.”

His voice cracks, and my eyes widen as I feel my throat close up.

Logan’s eyes widen, then they tear up. I can't help but stare as Hesh wipes away his tears.

“Logan, I couldn't just sit there and not let him go through no pain whatsoever. Everything he's done to the Ghosts, to you ….. He had to pay.” He chokes out, and Logan bites his lip, then glances back to the group of soldiers around Trent. He closes his eyes, then nods his head slowly.

“I understand, Hesh. I do. I would have done the same thing….But that doesn't make it right…. And I know we're all soldiers here, in a war no one wanted, and we all have to fight to survive, but…” He shakes his head, then turns to stare directly at Hesh, even though he can't see him.

“I don't want my brother to be a cold-blooded murderer. Please, Hesh. Please….. I want to think of you for you. Your caring eyes, your cocky smile, your kind gestures, always watching out for us, always watching out for me ….You're the best big brother anyone could ever hope for…”

Tears run down Logan’s face, and I turn with wide eyes to see Hesh’s eyes are sad and wide, staring right into his brother’s gaze. His mouth is opening and closing, as if trying to say something. Logan sighs, then shakes his head.

“I just love you so much….I don't want to ever think you could do something so bad.” he chokes out through a sob, and Hesh bites his lip, then he walks up and wraps his arms around Logan in a hug, his shoulders shaking.

Logan tenses up, then closes his eyes and hangs his head. Hesh presses his face against Logan’s shoulder.

“I’m so sorry, Logan….” He murmurs, and Logan reaches up, holding the empty area where Hesh’s body is. He shakes his head, then takes a deep breath.

“Hesh...It...It's okay...I know you just wanted to keep Keegan and I safe. As well as David. But….I just don't want you to turn into somebody you're not.” He says softly, and Hesh closes his eyes with a sigh, then pulls away.

Opening his eyes, he glances over at me, then back to Logan.

“You're right….” he murmurs, then he takes a deep breath.

“Logan, I've always said I'll do whatever it takes to keep you safe. But...if it means heartlessly killing someone….then….I'll find another way to protect you. I promise.” He says, and a smile curls my lips up.

Meeting my eyes, Hesh smiles, then turns to put his hand on Logan’s shoulder.

“I love you, buddy. And Keegan and I, we'll make sure that you and David are safe.” He says, and I step forward towards Logan.

“We promise.”

Logan’s eyes light up, and he smiles sadly.

“I missed your voice, Keegan.” He says, and I laugh.

“You missed an obnoxious, irritable, dumbass like me?!” I joke, making Logan and Hesh both laugh.

Walking over, I hug Logan.

“Yeah, miss you too, bro.”

Logan’s shoulders rise and fall in a heavy sigh, and he shakes his head.

“I know it's not a good thing to wish for, but I dream of the day we'll all be together again.” He says, and I put my arm around his shoulder, pulling him close.

“But until that day, Logan, you and David keep fighting as hard as you can. For everyone.” I say, and Logan nods.

“We will. Don't worry.” He says with a smirk. Then a voice from over near the soldiers call out.

“Logan!”

We all turn our heads to see Thomas beckoning him over, and Hesh grins.

“Looks like your team needs you. Go save the world, buddy.” he says, and Logan smiles, then runs towards the Ghosts.

I watch him go, my hands tucked in my pockets, then a hand on my shoulder makes me turn.

Hesh smiles at me, and nods.

“He’ll be okay, Keegan. He always is.”

I nod.

“Yeah. He's stubborn. Just like his brother.” I say as I shove Hesh jokingly.

He laughs, and nods.

“True. And your determined, irrational ideas have rubbed off on him, might I add.” He pushes, and I roll my eyes.

Glancing back at Logan, I sigh with a smile.

“We both taught him well, and we're still watching over him. Logan is stronger than we’ll ever be.”

Chapter Text

2 April, 2029

0743 hours

Cody

Walking down the hall, I sigh.

Everything is so messed up now.

Six days ago, the Federation bombed West Point Military Base, killing so many of the soldiers there.

And, along with them, they killed the best Ghost there was, Keegan Russ.

After having no base to reside in, the medic Clark Hampson informed us of an Air National Guard base up in Bangor, Maine. Taking the few Jeeps that actually survived, the remaining soldiers and the Ghosts all traveled to the base.

Now, with everything that’s happened, all the soldiers are on edge. But Logan and Merrick, them more than anyone. Logan watched over David like a hawk after he was injured, making sure his friend stayed alive. David pulled through quickly. It seems like both he and Logan have someone watching over them.

I shake my head, thinking of the other soldier who was injured right then.

Trent…..what the hell happened?! He just all of a sudden seemed to get stabbed, then he was choking on blood, then he was on the ground, almost dead. No one has any idea what happened, but Trent was babbling on about someone he killed.

Logan seems to tense up whenever I bring it up. I don't know what happened to him, but maybe he knows something.

Stopping in front of the door, I hesitate, then open it, walking into the med ward. Clark turns around to meet my eyes.

“Cody. What are you doing down here?” He asks, and I shrug, then walk over to him. Looking down at the man he treats, I let out a deep breath, then look to Clark.

“How is he?” I ask, and Clark bites his lip, glancing down at the bloodied bandages on the floor, and the pale, hardly breathing body residing the cot.

“Not good. I have no idea what happened to him. It almost seems like…..I mean, he said that….”

Clark stops, and I raise my eyebrow. Pulling over a chair, I sit down, staring at the medic.

“Hampson? What is it?” I ask curiously, and Clark frowns, then slowly raises his eyes to meet mine. He glances to the side at his patient, then back to me.

“He said that it was Hesh….” He responds slowly, and my eyes widen.

“What?! How is that possible?! No. He's just delirious. Hesh is-”

I stop myself, finding that I’m unable to say the word. Clark shakes his head.

“Trent seems terrified. Whenever Logan comes in to see how he's doing, he tenses up, his eyes fill with fear, and he starts sputtering out to Logan about his brother’s death, and how he's sorry, and he regrets it, and-”

Clark takes a deep breath, then shrugs. He frowns slightly, then looks up at me.

“What...what if he actually…. What if it actually was Hesh Walker?” He asks slowly, and my eyebrow raises, then a smile breaks out on my face, and I chuckle.

“You almost had me, Clark. I mean, you, of all people, really think that a ghost stabbed Trent? Yeah…” I shake my head with a grin, but when I look up, it immediately disappears when I see Clark’s serious face.

He shrugs.

“I mean…..there's no proof that it isn't possible, which means that it actually could be possible…” He states with uncertainty. I open my mouth to say something, then the door opens, and David and Logan walk in. Logan meets my eyes, and raises his eyebrow.

“What are you doing down here, Cody? I didn't really think you cared what happened to Trent.” He says, and I shrug.

“I dunno. I just wanted to see how he was doing.”

David frowns, then glances at Clark.

“And how is he doing?” He asks, and Clark sighs, then moves his gaze to me.

“Like I told Cody. Not good. But….he keeps spewing nonsense….or, at least I think it's nonsense…” He mutters, and Logan walks over to him.

“What kind of nonsense?” He asks curiously, and I notice a hint of caution in his voice. Clark hesitates, opening his mouth, glancing at me, then back to Logan.

“He….still keeps saying that it was Hesh who stabbed him…”

Logan and David immediately share a wide-eyed glance, then Logan bites his lip.

“What do you think, Clark? About that, I mean?” He asks, and Clark shrugs.

“I….I don't know. Like I said before, there's not exactly hard proof that this kind of thing couldn't happen.” He responds, and David nods slowly.

“Yeah. There's always the chance that Hesh could-”

Logan spins around to look at him, shaking his head. David stops, and I raise my eyebrow. Then a groan from the cot makes us all turn, and Clark presses the bandages tighter on Trent's side, then wipes the blood from his chin again.

Trent’s eyes slowly open, and he takes a shaky breath.

“I….I know y-you don't….b-believe me…..but it really w-was him….” He chokes out, blood staining his teeth, and Logan bites his lip, then Trent’s eyes move to him.

“Your brother…..he certainly h-holds a gr-grudge….” he says with a weak chuckle, and David frowns. Trent coughs, more blood spitting from his mouth. Clark and I meet eyes, then he shakes his head.

“I need to keep treating him. If we want to actually question him, then he’ll need to be well enough to answer. I'll contact you all on your coms when he's able to help you guys.” He tells, and I nod.

“Thanks, Hampson. Good luck.” I wish, standing up and following David and Logan out the med ward.

As soon as the door closes behind us, I grab both Logan and David, dragging them down the hall a bit. Logan struggles against my grip, his feet trying to bring him back the other way.

“Cody, what the hell are you doing?” He shouts, and David frowns.

“Cody, let us go!”

I shake my head, then spin them around towards the wall. Putting my hands on my hips, I frown as I stare at them.

“Okay, you two. What's going on?” I demand, and Logan raises his eyebrow.

“What do you mean?” He asks with a spark of defiance in his voice and nervousness behind his eyes.

I roll my eyes with a sigh.

“You know what I mean, Logan. You two have been acting weird ever since the day of the bombing, especially since Trent got...whatever happened. Now, I have a feeling you two know what happened, and I want to know what you're hiding.” I order, and David gives a sideways glance at Logan, who bites his lip, then hangs his head.

“You won't believe us.” He mutters, and I cross my arms.

“Try me.” I growl, and David looks taken aback.

Then he sighs, and he and Logan share a cautious look. I raise my eyebrow.

“I’m waiting…” I voice, and Logan sighs.

“It was Hesh.” He says blatently, and I startle, surprised at his straightforwardness.

“What do you mean, it was Hes-”

David takes a deep breath, meeting my eyes.

“Cody, we don't expect you to believe us, but…..it really was Hesh. He just wanted revenge on everything that Trent had done, to him, to Keegan, to Logan, to me, to all the Ghosts.” He responds, and Logan nods.

“Yeah. Keegan tried to stop Hesh from doing it, but he-”

I hold up my hand with a confused look.

“Hold up. Now you're saying that Keegan is like... that ….too?” I ask, and Logan shrugs.

“Yes. He is. And he and Hesh have helped both me and David. Hesh has basically been watching over all of us….watching over me and helping me…..this whole time he's always been there, and I know how crazy this all sounds...”

I nod with a concerned look.

“Understatement!” I remark. Logan shakes his head.

“But it's true. I don't care if you believe me or not, but what Trent is ‘babbling’ about is what actually happened to him.” Logan delivers, and David crosses his arms.

“You wanted to know what's going on. There you have it. Now you know.” He responds, and I find my mouth hanging open slightly, my face a shocked expression.

Closing my eyes with a sigh as I bite my lip, my shoulders sag.

“Well that was certainly not what I expected to hear. But if you're serious about this, then...well, I don't know.” I rub my eyes with my fingers, shaking my head lightly.

“What am I going to tell everyone else…” I mutter, and Logan’s eyes widen.

“NO! You can't tell them! Please, Cody! I don't want anyone else to think of us as two crazies. Please…” He hopes, and I meet his big, pleading blue eyes, then groan.

“Okay. I won't tell anyone.” I agree, and David smiles slightly.

“Thank you.” He says, and I nod.

I glance back down the hall towards the med ward, then frown.

“When Trent does come to, I'll make sure that you two are the first ones to talk to him. Keep your little….. secret ….between you and him.” I decide, and Logan grins.

“Thank you, Cody.” He says, and I nod, rubbing the back of my head.

“Yeah...sure.”

Turning, I start to walk back down the hall, then glance back over my shoulder to see David and Logan talking, smiling and joking.

A small grin turns my lips up, and I take a deep breath.

I don't know how it's possible, but now, with what they said about Hesh and Keegan, I can't help but have this comforted feeling that we have two of the best Ghosts that had ever lived still protecting us.

Chapter Text

3 April, 2029

0802 hours

Trent

Groaning, I slowly open my eyes, half letting the light in. Blinking back the pain, I take in a breath of air through my gritted teeth.

“Trent.”

A voice from beside me says, and I tilt my head to see that medic, Clark, looking down at me.

“How are you feeling?” He asks me, and I raise my eyebrow. With a slight smirk, I chuckle.

“Oh, Clark, I’m feeling great. Fit to be right back in the field, ready to kick some ass.” I retort, and Clark rolls his eyes.

“Funny, Trent. Real funny. I’m serious. It seems like you can talk fine. Can you sit up?” He asks, and I frown.

“Do I really have to?” I ask with displeasure, and Clark sighs.

“Just try to sit up, loud mouth.”

I narrow my eyes at him, then slowly prop myself up on my elbow. With a forced groan, I push myself up into a sitting position, sitting back to lean my hands behind me, keeping me upright. I meet Clark’s eyes with intensity.

“There. I’m sitting up. Happy?” I remark with a derogatory tone. Clark nods with a grin.

“Yes.”

I huff out a breath, then lean back against the wall, closing my eyes.

“So, dare I ask why you checked if I could talk, or if I could sit up, or how I’m feeling. I doubt you’re just checking for my well being.” I voice, and Clark sighs.

“First of all, I do care about your well being, I’m a goddamn medic. Second, you need to answer some questions, Brenner. Logan and David will be down soon.” He informs, and I let out a groan.

“I knew it. But you know what? I guess you do deserve some answers.” I say, and Clark nods. The door opens, and I glance up to see Logan walk in, followed by David.

Logan meets my eyes, and I immediately avert them. Every single time I look at him, it reminds me of Hesh. I never thought I would feel sorry for doing what I did, but now, seeing what it did to Logan, and experiencing…. whatever…. happened by Hesh, I can’t think the same way ever again.

Logan walks over, sitting down on the bunk next to me, David standing next to him. I feel a hand on my shoulder, and I slowly glance up to see Logan staring at me, but not harshly. Instead, his eyes are soft, almost…..caring?

“Trent, listen. I just want to ask a few questions.” He says calmly, and I sigh.

“What do you want to know?” I ask reluctantly, and Logan sits back slightly, leaning his elbows on his knees, raising his hands to lean his chin on his fists.

“When did you start working with the Federation?” He asks, and I raise my eyebrow.

“What do you mea-”

David takes a deep breath, glaring at me.

“He means when did you betray your troops, you assho-”

Logan turns to look at him with a scolding glance, and David frowns, then nods. Logan swings his head back to me.

“When did you join up with them?” He asks again, and I bite my lip.

“Right after the attack on Santa Monica. That’s when Davis, Ramon and I left.” I respond, and Logan nods, then sighs.

“Can you tell me why you joined up with them?” He asks, and I hesitate, avoiding his eyes. Finally, I take a breath.

“It wasn’t really a personal choice….” I say quietly.

“When you all left the fort, the Feds took it completely. Now, I get why you left. You needed to get out of there, otherwise Rorke would have gotten you all. Plus, your brother…. ...well, you know. Anyway, the Feds took whoever was left. All us soldiers, at least the ones who were strong enough to live. The ones who wouldn’t last long, they immediately executed. Then they asked us all, with guns to our heads, if we would follow them. Those who refused, they said, would be killed. The entire Falcon infantry defied them, and they were wiped out. Jamie’s group? Gone. We all watched, helpless, as they killed them all. Davis told Ramon and I that we should follow them, and we'd stay alive. Ramon and I were hesitant at first, then I thought, ‘Maybe if we follow them, we can try to find the Ghosts.’”

I take a heavy breath.

“But...after awhile, Rorke’s maniacal ideas began to wear off on us. Davis just started to….change. He kept telling us ideas against you, the Ghosts. And…..I believed them. Listened to them. Accepted them. Ramon was always a bit skeptical, but he still followed Davis, too. After enough time, it was just trained into my brain that you had all done us wrong, and that you were the ones who had to pay. I just….I just forgot that you and Hesh were the ones who led us and fought with us through all those battles. Then, when Thrash started giving us orders, it just got more revenge based, and it made the distance even worse. And...when Cameron killed Ramon, it made it so much more personal. Cameron and Sam, they…..they never knew. They joined back with us when they found us after the attack. They had been out of the fort, then when they finally found us after a few months, Davis told Ramon and I not to tell them.”

I hold back tears, rubbing my face with my hand.

“Cameron was my friend….and I’m the one who shot him through the head. Without a single thought. I….”

The tears prick at my eyes, and I lick my lips dryly.

“I hurt so many people, and I killed four of the Ghosts, Gavin and Slate and ….your brother, and then…..”

I find it hard to say his name.

“...Keegan….I….I didn’t….I wish I could take everything back….” Looking up at Logan, who sits with wide eyes, the tears that were waiting now start to run down my face.

“Logan, I’m so sorry….” I choke out, and David glances at Clark, then to Logan with wide eyes. Logan bites his lip, then nods.

“Trent….I understand now….you were only trying to stay alive. And….I really know how manipulative Rorke was. He managed to change both Hesh and I. True, it wasn’t just by words, it was through torture at his finest, but words can be just as powerful. And...as much as I hated you for killing my brother…..it was Davis’ fault. He’s the one who made you follow him. And Thrash was the reason you went after Keegan.” Logan’s voice cracks at both his mention of Hesh and Keegan’s name.

I take a breath, and shake my head.

“Davis was the one who shot Hesh. But...I was still the one who killed Keegan. Me, and me alone. I ordered the hit on him.”

My gaze turns to David.

“....And I was the one who shot you, then tried to kill both you and Logan by doing so.”

I hang my head, a tear dripping from my chin onto my hand.

“I killed Keegan…. “ I murmur, then Logan places his hand on my shoulder again.

“Brenner. Yes, you killed the Ghosts, Cameron, and my brothers. Yes, you attacked West Point. But, unlike Davis, you were willing to tell us what happened, and you felt remorse afterwards. The fact that Davis killed himself just to keep information from us shows that he was far beyond reason and his madness was irreversible. But you, you managed to survive through….um, well, you know. And you helped me to understand.” Logan meets my gaze, his deep blue eyes caring.

“Thank you.” He says softly and sincerely, making my eyes widen.

Then a wave of relief fills me, and a small, sad smile creeps onto my face.

“Logan Walker, you’re an amazing man. You’re strong and brave, resilient and determined. And you’re caring. You always have been. It’s your strongest attribute, Logan, and you should always remember that.” I voice, and Logan grins.

David shakes his head, and I see a small smile on his face.

“You’re quite a different guy, Brenner. I’m surprised. But….thank you.” He says, and I nod.

Logan glances up at me, then raises his eyebrow.

“So. Trent. Are you ready to come back to the 101st Infantry?” He asks, and my eyes widen.

“Wait, what? But….I’m just a dishonorable discharge-”

“No, Trent. You were a misled man who has come back to the people who care.” He says respectfully, and I chuckle.

“Never thought I’d hear that.” I admit, and Logan pats my shoulder.

“You’re hearing it from me now, Corporal Brenner.” He says with a smirk, and my eyes light up. I grin.

“Thank you, Sergeant Walker.”


 

9 April, 2029

0723 hours

Michael

Standing at the console, Logan looks over my shoulder.

“Do we have any ideas at all? Have you gotten anything on the radar?” He asks me, and I sigh, dropping my head, then turning to lean against the console, crossing my arms.

“Logan, just like the twelve other times you’ve asked me that just this morning, NO, I HAVEN'T GOTTEN ANYTHING.” I voice, and Logan huffs out a deep breath, frowning.

“Sorry, Michael. I just-”

“You want to find them, Logan. I get it. After all that happened, I really do get it. But you continuously calling Merrick, Spike and John on their coms or trying to track their position isn't going to benefit anyone, especially them if they're anywhere near any Federation soldiers.”

Logan goes to open his mouth, but Cody stands up from the computer next to me.

“Logan, they'll be fine. They're just on a scouting mission. Scoping out the area. If anything was wrong, Merrick would call it in.” He says, and I roll my eyes.

“You know, just once, I wish he’d bother you instead of me.” I groan, and Logan shoves me.

“HEY! Look, I’m just trying to make sure we don't lose anyone else! If there is anything wrong, how do we know that they're not all dead or hurt or captured and have no way to call it in?! Did you think about that, Cody?!” Logan exclaims, and Cody catches a wide-eyed glance from me.

David walks in the door, then stops when he sees my expression. He crosses his arms.

“Logan’s asking about Merrick’s group again, isn't he?” David says nonchalantly, and I nod.

Again.” I mutter, and Logan throws his hands up.

Am I the only who thinks that something could be wrong?!” He yells, and as David, Cody and I all share a look, David nods.

“Yes. You are.”

Logan drops his arms with a heavy pouting sigh, and David walks over to him. Putting his hand on Logan’s shoulder, he takes a deep breath.

“Logan, I think you're really getting paranoid. Merrick, Spike and John will be fine. For one, they have the amazing mind of Merrick. They have the awesome fighting skills of Spike, and they have John, one of the best medics we have. If anything were to happen, they'd make it through.” He comforts, but Logan shakes his head.

“You don't get it, David!” Logan frowns, glancing to the side.

“I just...I’ve had an experience like this before, two and a half years ago. When Merrick, Keegan, Hesh and I were all split up on different missions. Keegan and I went to Los Angeles to check out some Federation scouts. Merrick and Hesh went out to Arizona to find a Fed base. Hesh and I kept message contacts the whole time, for four days nonstop. But then, he broke contact. For eight days I didn't hear anything from him. Then, the next day, I got a message from Merrick that Hesh was hurt and they were coming back to San Diego. When they got back, Hesh was barely alive. Shot once in the back, twice in the stomach. For four days I...I didn't even know if I would ever fight by my brother’s side again. I thought he was going to die. He pulled through, and from then on, we were never split up.”

Logan glances up at us all to see our expression are shocked. Logan frowns, a tear hovering on his eye.

“Now do you understand?! How can I just ignore not getting any response from them when I’ve had this all happen to me before!” He exclaims, and I rub the back of my head.

“Logan…” I start, but I can't find words.

“Logan, they'll be okay.” A voice from the door says, and I look up to see Trent standing in the doorway.

Wearing his new black combat boots, tan camo printed cargo pants tucked into them, and a grey tee shirt tucked in the lip of his pants, Trent looks just like a soldier again, his loyalty lying around his neck on his dog tags. Cody nods at him.

“Corporal.”

Trent nods back, then walks to Logan.

“Hey, they’re fine.” He says, and Logan shakes his head.

“How do you know that?!” Logan doubts, and Trent shrugs with a smirk.

“Maybe because Merrick, Spike, and John just got back.” He says casually, and Logan’s eyes widen.

“WHAT?!” He shouts, and Trent chuckles.

“They're down in the barracks. I told them I’d let you know that they’re-”

Logan runs out of the room, and Trent spins as he watches him go.

“-here.” He finishes his sentence with a shake of his head, then he turns to us. David grins.

“It's good to see you up on your feet, Brenner. Must feel nice after being pretty much out for a week and a half.” He says, and Trent heaves a heavy sigh with a nod.

“Oh, David, you have no idea.” He mutters, and I chuckle.

Trent looks up at me, and a slight awkwardness fills the room. It's quiet for a moment, then Cody stands up with a stretch.

“Hey, David, why don't you and I go down to the mess.” He says, tilting his head in a signal to leave. David nods, clicking his tongue.

“Yep! Good idea!” He and Cody quickly walk out the room, and I swing my gaze to Trent, who slowly turns his light green eyes up to meet my own hazel. He opens his mouth, then bites his tongue, hesitating.

“Michael, I….” He takes a deep breath, and I drop my shoulders, then sigh.

“Trent. Listen. I know what you're going to say, or at least I think I do. But you don’t need to be sorry. Logan and David told us all what you told them, and I get it now. Tracing everything that happened back, it was all fear. I understand. Honestly, I think that’s what sparked my want for revenge on West Point. I was just scared to lose everything to the Federation, and when David left me, something in me snapped. But I know why he did. He was scared, too. None of us want to die, Trent. And sometimes you go to extreme measures to make sure you don't.” I state, and Trent scoffs.

“Yeah, but my measures were pretty extreme, Mike.” He says heavily as he meets my eyes. Shrugging, I nod, then grin.

“Hey. You and I both were the ones who attacked the base. Not just you.” I remark, and Trent nods.

“True.” He says with a smile. Then he frowns.

“Damn, I never wanted any of this to happen,” He mutters. “I never wanted to hurt the Ghosts or the 101st Infantry, or kill my friend, or murder Hesh and Keegan, or-”

He looks up at me, eyes sad.

“I’m sorry, Mike. I’m the reason that all of this happened. Everything.” He utters, and I put my hand on his shoulder.

“We both have some demons to work through, Brenner. We both did some seriously questionable things. But, we can overcome that. We've both been offered a second chance. And I say we take it and prove to the world that we are the strong soldiers that the infantry needs us to be, and, at the same time, prove it to ourselves.” I say, and Trent nods then rubs the back of his head.

“So...so, are we cool? Like, despite what happened, and…?” He asks slowly, and I smirk, holding out my fist.

“We're cool,” I respond, and Trent grins, bumping his fist against mine. I put my arm around his shoulder, then nod towards the door.

“Come on. Let's go meet Cody and David in the mess. I’ll treat you to a drink.” I say with a snicker, and Trent laughs.

“Sure! But drinks are on me!”

Chapter Text

10 April 2029

2205 hours

Cody

I sigh, sitting down on the edge of my bunk, pulling off my boots. Laying back, I close my eyes, so ready for a good night’s sleep. My chest rises with a deep breath, falling back down slowly.

“Cody.”

A voice suddenly makes me jolt, and I open my eyes to spin around, looking around the small barracks. My eyebrow raises when I see no one around.

‘But...I swear I just heard someone call my name…’

“That’s because you did, Cody.”

A second, different voice startles me, and my eyes widen when I recognize it.

No...that’s not possible. They both...they’re both….

I spin around, then my heart stops when I see the two men sitting on the bunk across from me, the younger grinning at me. My eyes are wide, my mouth hanging open.

“Match...Slate…” My voice comes out as only a whisper, and Match smirks.

“Yep. Told you that you heard your name.” He says happily, and Slate rolls his eyes, shaking his head, then looks down to meet my eyes. I open my mouth to say something, but no words come out. Slate sighs.

“Cody. I can understand any inconceivable thoughts you might be having right now, but-”

I shake my head. “NO! How the hell are you here?! I...you’re both…” My words stop and Match sighs.

“Dead. Yeah. We noticed.” He states, and I send him an annoyed look. He throws his hands up in surrender. “Hey, I’m just saying it as it is, Cody! But just listen to us for a minute, will you?!” He pleads, and I sigh. Slate leans his arms on his knees, holding his head up with his hands under his chin.

“Cody, I know that David and Logan told you something about what happened to Trent.” He voices, and my eyes widen.

“They were telling the truth. I mean… I had my doubts, but….” I stutter, and Match leans forward.

“Yeah. We’re here, Cody. We’re all still around. How the hell do you think you all made it this far?” He snickers and Slate elbows him.

Match frowns, rubbing his arm. “Hey…”

I rub my face with my hands. “What do you mean, ‘we’re all still here’?” I question, and Slate smiles softly.

“Cody. We’re Ghosts. Not just like you, but…..well….Let’s just put it that we’re all still watching over you guys. David and Logan have Keegan and Hesh looking out for them. Hesh and Keegan are determined to keep those two safe.” He chuckles, and Match lets out a deep breath.

“Yeah, no kidding. I mean, what Hesh did…” He bites his lip, and I raise my eyebrow.

“So it really was him,” I say softly, then I raise my head. “Slate, when you said you’re all still here, did you mean that all the other Ghosts are-”

A hand on my shoulder makes me turn around, and my eyes widen as those kind light green eyes meet mine.

“Elias…” I whisper, and my commander nods then sits next to me.

“Cody, you’ve done well. You and all the Ghosts. And yes, we are all still watching out for you. The Hawks are looking after Spike, and Stalker is watching over Merrick. And as for my son? Well, he’s got two of the best soldiers I’ve ever seen in a lifetime looking out for him.” He says with a chuckle, and a smile creeps its way onto my face. Glancing back at Slate, I sigh.

“Damn, I know that this is a dream, but I wish it weren’t, and I wish I still had you all by my side. I mean, yes, you’re still here, but I mean in person.” Shifting my gaze to Match, I sigh. “I just want to fight by your side again, buddy,” I say, and Match smiles, then shrugs.

“But we had some pretty damn good fights when we were side by side, didn’t we?” He asks, and I chuckle.

“Yes. Yes, we did,” I say, then shake my head. “Not that I don’t love this, having you here right now, it just...it doesn’t feel-”

“Right?” Elias asks, and I nod slowly. He sighs. “Cody, I understand. This is really a lot to take in. And you are the only Ghost other than my son and David that knows about it. So with that knowledge, you can keep going, Cody. I’m trusting you and the others to keep the Ghosts alive. And I know you’ll do well. Tell my son I’m proud of him.” He says with a smile, and I nod.

“Yes sir.”

Slate leans forward to put his hand on my shoulder. “Cody, with all the new allies you have, you and the Ghosts, with the 101st infantry, can take down the Federation. Avenge the Ghosts, buddy.” He says, and I nod.

“Of course.”

Match stands up with a sigh, then walks over to me. “Hate to say this, but it’s time to leave, Cody.” He remarks, and I frown.

“But...what do you…” Behind him, Elias and Slate fade away, and my eyes widen.

Match crouches in front of me and smiles. “Hey. You can do this. You’re my best friend, and I’ve known you longer than anyone. So show me what you can do. And do so knowing that I’m right here with you.” He tells me, and I smile, then he wraps his arms around me in a hug. A warmth spreads through me, then it starts to fade, and as I open my eyes, I gasp, sitting up, taking my arm away from my eyes.

Sunlight shines in through the window on the opposite wall, and I glance around, seeing the few sleeping soldiers around me. I take a heavy breath and fall back, closing my eyes again.

It was a dream, but it wasn’t. I know that was real. Even though….

I sigh, then shake my head. Sitting up, I pull on my boots, lacing them up. Slipping on my long sleeve shirt over the t-shirt I wear, I stand up, stretching my arms above my head. Walking over to the window, I look out into the Airforce Compound, watching the many American soldiers that reside here man their posts and mill with others.

An army base…. It feels like home. And it is. Especially with my fellow Ghosts here. My friends and family, new and old, surround me with safety, and I could never feel more ready to take on the Federation.

With Logan, Merrick, and Spike by my side, all the new allies from Boston, and even the two Federation turned soldiers who returned their loyalty to America, this infantry is ready and waiting for the Federation’s next move.

And I’ll have Match by my side the whole way through. No matter what, I still have my best friend to fight beside.


 

 

11 April 2029

0738 hours

Cody

I walk down the hall slowly, still pondering in my head the happenings of last night.

Match…He’s…

Man, Logan and David were telling the truth. Shaking my head, I walk into the rec room to see the two young soldiers talking at the table. I clear my throat, and David glances up with a smile.

“Oh, hey Cody,” He says, and I nod at him, biting my lip. Logan raises his eyebrow, then tilts his head.

“Cody, what is it? You’re making that face you make when there's something wrong.” He notes, and I sigh, then pull up a chair to the table. I lean my elbows on the table with a frown, then hang my head.

“So….if I told you I actually now believe what you guys told me about Hesh and Keegan because I may or may not have had something similar happen last night….” I start slowly, and Logan raises his eyebrow, leaning forward.

“What?! What do you mean?” He asks excitedly, and I sigh.

“I….I mean…” I run my hand through my hair, then rub my face, shaking my head. “Match and Slate…” I utter softly, and David cocks his head.

“Who?” He asks, but Logan’s eyes widen.

What?! You...you saw them?” He asks me, and I nod slowly.

“I mean, yes and no. I’m not sure if I was asleep or not, but Match and Slate told me that what you two have been saying is true, and….” I stop myself, thinking back, and Logan puts his hand on my arm.

“Cody?” He questions and I turn my head to face him.

“And...your dad, Logan. He was there.” I say slowly, and Logan’s eyes widen.

“Dad? He….what?” He whispers, and I nod, then smile.

“He told me to tell you that he’s proud of you,” I say, and Logan’s eyes grow wide, then he smiles widely.

David gives a slight chuckle, edging me with his shoulder. I turn to find him grinning, and I raise my eyebrow.

“What?” I ask, and he snickers.

“Looks like we now have another member of the ‘crazies’ club.” He jokes, and I stop, then start to laugh along with Logan. I sigh.

“We all have our guardian Ghosts, then. David has Keegan, Logan, you have your brother, and I….well, I have my best friend. I have Match.” I say with a grin, and Logan nods with a smirk, matched perfectly with David’s.

“The ghosts of the Ghosts. Who would have thought.” David mutters, and we all laugh, then Spike walks in and raises his eyebrow.

“What are you guys talking about?” He asks, and we all tense up.

“NOTHING,” I say, coincidentally at the exact same time as Logan and David. We all catch a quick glance.

Spike raises his eyebrow suspiciously, then shrugs his shoulders.

“Okay, whatever. Merrick just wanted me to tell you guys that there’s a briefing for the next scouting in fifteen minutes.” He says, waving his hand as he walks away. I drop my tense shoulders and look over to Logan and David, who sighed.

I slump back in my chair with a heavy breath, closing my eyes. David holds his head in his hands, elbows propped on the table. Logan leans his head on his arms, resting flat on the table. It’s quiet between the three of us, then Logan sighs.

“So...do you think we’ll ever be able to tell them?” He asks after a moment, and David lifts his head from his hands.

Should we tell them? I mean, what would they think?” He remarks, and I shrug.

“I don’t know. I mean, look how I reacted when you guys told me. I say give it some time. But we have to keep it quiet. Not even a hint gets out, got it?” I tell, and Logan and David nod.

“Got it.” They say, and I nod.

“Good. If and when it’s time, yes, we will tell them. But for now, the less they know, the better.” I say, then I stand up. “Come on. Let’s head up to Merrick’s scouting briefing. We don’t want to be late.” I say, and David rolls his eyes.

“Yeah. Wouldn’t want to miss the most boring half hours ever.” He mutters, and Logan snickers.

“I’m with you.”

I smack the back of their heads as they stand up with a smirk. “Will you guys shut up and get moving?! You do NOT want to get on either Spike or Merrick’s bad side.” I advise, shaking my head. “Trust me .”

Logan catches a wide-eyed glance from David, then they both nod. “Okay. Let’s go.”

Chapter Text

11 April 2029

0756 hours

Cody

As we all walk towards the briefing room, I glance over at Logan and David. They walk quietly, heads down. I sigh. 

Trying to keep this a secret from everyone is a bit tricky. But we can do it. We'll tell them when it's time.

I open the door, and Spike, Merrick, John, Trent, Michael, Jimmy, Clark, and Ryan all turn their heads. I nod as Logan and David walk past and sit down, then Merrick meets my eyes. He takes a deep breath, then sweeps his gaze over everyone in the room. 

"Listen up. Even though we managed to move our troops all the way up here, the Federation forces are still moving further north. They'll find us soon enough, so we need to be ready. Spike is going to tell you what exactly we're up against." Merrick sits down as Spike walks towards the front of the room, then spins around. 

"Okay. So, Michael and I have been monitoring the Fed activity in the area, and we found a few squads of soldiers near Brunswick. Now, that's about 100 miles south, but that's still a close threat. Michael also noted a new small base in Biddeford, which is 2 hours south of here. We have to keep a close eye on everything that's happening down there, but for now, we're relatively safe from them. However, this doesn't mean that we're in the clear. We still have to be wary." He says, and John crosses his arms. 

"So what do you suggest we do?" He asks, and Ryan nods. 

"Yeah. What do we do from here?" He asks, and Merrick starts to stand up, then a scoff behind me makes me turn. 

"You're Ghosts. You can figure this out." A voice says, and my eyes widen. Match smirks at me then raises his eyebrow. Slate stands next to him with his arms crossed, leaning against the wall. I turn back around to see Merrick and Spike's eyes wider than I've ever seen. 

Spike jolts when an elbow hits his shoulder, and he looks up into the light green eyes with shock. 

"G..Gavin..." He stutters, and his best friend grins. 

"Hey, buddy." 

Merrick's head sweeps the room, eyes wide as he sees every Ghost standing around us. John, Ryan, Jimmy, Trent, Michael, and Clark all stare with wide eyes. 

"What the hell..." Jimmy mutters, then Trent's eyes widen when he looks next to Logan. I turn my head to see Hesh hugging Logan, both of them smiling. 

Trent's mouth opens and closes, gawking. "But...he....all of you..." 

His voice cuts out when he sees Keegan, who meets his gaze. I see a tear run down Trent's face, and Keegan sighs. He then looks up at Merrick. 

"You were saying?" He says calmly, but Merrick just stares at him with the widest eyes. Keegan drops his head, then walks around the table to Merrick. Meeting his eyes, Keegan sighs. 

"Thomas, it's okay. You and Logan did everything you could. But you have a new mission now. And even though we're not there with you, all us Ghosts," he motions around the room. "Are still here and have your back," he says with a smirk as he puts his hand on Merrick's shoulder. 

I nod, glancing up at Match. "Yeah. Who do you think has kept us going this far?" I remark, and Michael's eyes widen. 

"All of you...you're all the Ghosts who've...." 

Bolt sighs, meeting Michael's eyes. "Yeah. You don't have to say it, we know." He says straightly, then Heath hits the back of his head. 

"Bolt, he's just asking a question. Quit it." He tells him, and a smile creeps onto Michael's face. Hesh looks up at all of us, then leans forward to plant his hands on the table, looking around. 

"Okay, listen. Yes, all of the Ghosts that have lost their lives in this war are in this room. But we're here to get you guys going. I have faith that all of you can make it in this war. Every single man in this room has proven he will do anything for his country, and he would give his life to save his brothers." 

He glances over at Keegan with a nod, then to Logan, then back to us all. "That is the quality that the best soldiers possess. But what is most important is your honor and love. You all are strong, and you keep each other safe. Your loyalty to each other has proven to me that all of you are ready." He says, and David raises his eyebrow. 

"Wait, ready for what?" He asks, and Keegan steps forward. 

"To become Ghosts." He says, and all the men's eyes widen. I smirk as I catch Slate's smiling eyes, then look back. 

Elias walks towards the front of the room. "You are all ready to become Ghosts. Keegan and Hesh told us all everything that has happened as of recently, and after that, we decided that you are ready to become the new wave of the best soldiers of our country." 

He looks at the men. "So from this point on, David West, Jim Carney, Michael Preston, Trent Brenner, John Grover, Ryan Bentley, and Clark Hampson, you are all officially Ghosts," Elias says, and the seven men's eyes widen. 

Keegan walks over to David, putting his hand on his shoulder. He reaches into his pocket, then pulls out his mask. David's eyes widen as Keegan hands it to him, then smirks. 

"You're a Ghost now, David. Make me proud." He says, and David looks up at Keegan with his light brown eyes, then grins. 

"You know it." 

I glance back down at all the men around the table, smiling and talking, then my eyes fall on the Ghosts. They slowly fade away until only Keegan, Hesh, Gavin, and Match are left. Match looks down at me, then messes up my hair. 

"Make sure you don't join me anytime soon, bud." He says, and I smirk. 

"No promises, but I'll try." I joke and Match laughs as he shoves my head down. I look back up, but he's gone. Glancing down the table, I see Gavin leaning on Spike's shoulder, laughing with him, then he hugs him. As Spike embraces his friend, Gavin slowly fades away, and Spike sighs then glances over at me with a smile. 

Keegan walks over to Merrick, then stops in front of him. Thomas bites his lip, then shakes his head. 

"Dammit, Keegan. I wish you were back by my side." He says, and Keegan grins. 

"You'll be by my side again someday, Thomas. But for now, there are new Ghosts who need you." He says, and Thomas nods with a grin. 

"Watch over us, kid." He says, and Keegan smirks. 

"I always have." He hugs Merrick closely, and Thomas sighs as he holds his best friend tight. 

"I'll see you on the other side, buddy." He whispers, and Keegan nods. He lets go, then walks over to David, who shakes his hand. 

"I'll carry you with me, Russ. Always." He says, and Keegan nods. He walks up and puts his hand on Logan's shoulder. 

"I'll always be there for you too, Logan." He says, and Logan smirks. 

"Yeah. Just keep an eye on all of us." He says, and Keegan nods. 

"I will." He meets David and Merrick's eyes one last time, then fades away. 

Hesh looks up, and I sigh. 

Glancing at Merrick, I tilt my head towards the door. He nods. Spike catches the message, then looks at all the other men. 

"Okay, guys. Head down to the barracks. We have a lot of work to do...Ghosts." He says with a smile, and all the men grin, then stand up and walk out the door. 

Merrick, Spike and I meet Hesh's gaze as we walk out, and he nods at us. I smile, watching the new group of Ghosts start their new place in this war.


Hesh

My eyes follow the others as they walk out the room, then my gaze turns back to my brother. Logan smiles at me, his eyes bright and blue. 

"Hesh..." Tears start to run down his face, and I shake my head, then pull my brother into a hug. 

"Logan, I'll always be with you. You know that. I'll always be there for you, have your back, be your shoulder to cry on, your best friend, and your big brother. Always." 

I rub Logan's hair softly, and Logan nods into my shoulder. "I know." 

I pull away, then hold him by his shoulders. "Logan, you are the strongest, most loyal, most courageous, most caring person I've ever know. You fight to the last breath, and you fight to protect everyone even if it means putting your own life on the line. You've given those who chose the wrong path a second chance and made them allies whose loyalty lies to you. You've grown into such a brave man, and the best soldier I've ever seen. I couldn't be prouder of you, Logan." I tell him with an honest smile, and Logan's eyes widen. 

He nods, meeting my eyes. "You taught me everything that got me to where I am today, Hesh. You've been the best older brother anyone could ever ask for, and I owe you everything." He says, and I let out a deep breath. 

"You'll go far, Logan. You'll lead your men in this war to victory. I know it. And I will be by your side the entire way. I promise." I say, and Logan pulls me into a hug. 

"I love you, Hesh." He says quietly, and I smile. 

"I love you too, Logan." 

X x x x x x X x x x x x X x x x x x X x x x x x X x x x x x X

The journey, no matter how treacherous or difficult it may be, will always be doable with the help of allies. The ghosts we carry with us that lead us through the dark and frightening world. 

But no ghost is more powerful than that of a fallen brother. One who will protect his own through thick and thin, and stand by his little sibling in the hardships of life, giving him the hope he needs to carry on.