Authors: Jacqueline Druga
Beginnings Book 9
If you have made it this far in the series, I thank you very much. It takes dedication and I am sure there are times you want to scream at me, get frustrated at my characters and even times say, ‘No more’.
Please remember I am always available for feedback and welcome it at anytime.
Freedom Fight begins a new turn in Beginnings. Storylines close and new ones open. New characters emerge into the spotlight and I truly hope you will welcome them.
While the humor, outlandish behavior, and action are still there, the series takes a fresh, and I believe, better turn starting with Book 9.
This book and the next (Horse Soldier) are my favorite in the series.
Thank you again for sticking with the world of Beginnings.
Beginnings Book 9
By Jacqueline Druga
13 by Jacqueline Druga
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any person or persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Thank you so very much to Cindy P for all your help with this book.
© Les Cunliffe - Fotolia.com
When will it end? I’ve seen the silent victor that erased what used to exist. The rivalry of Cain and Abel between brothers ceased the moment we took on what the world has become beyond the wall of our home. We’ve faced challenges and seen the full circle of justice. The ripple of pain continues and my family faces once again, the bitterest of inner struggles. Pieces of us have broken off, yet we still stand strong. We have to. We’re family. And with all that has happened to our world, I am grateful I still have that. My family. I will fight for them and if need be, I would die for them.
SCATTERED SOULS . . .
With the spark of the just rising sun came the single, three-second blow of the bugle horn. A rumbling and vibration followed and then the charge. Over the crest and descending on to the camp of small, military style structures came a long line of horses, fifty in all. Mounted upon them were men wearing blue. Armed with rifles and swords, they rode down, firing out and stirring the sleeping enemies from their beds.
The soldiers stumbled out of their homes. Dazed and confused, yet ready to defend themselves, the first that tried were the first that failed. If they were not shot, they were beheaded in a sweep of the swift sword of justice delivered upon them. A victory sought by the men who charged was not a victory gained. Too many slumbered in the enemy camp, too many for them to take. The camp, though startled, was not ill prepared for what was cast to them. They revamped. They fought and a bloody battle entailed.
The men who charged rode in with a vengeance. They rode into the camp knowing that they would be out numbered, knowing a defeat would be imminent. But they rode in knowing they would not go down without making an impact.
A loud, long, yawn came from Joe Slagel as he ran his hand over his just shaved face. He stared at his reflection in his bathroom mirror, sniffled, and rubbed his watering eyes. He was tired. He shouldn’t have been tired. In fact, Joe wouldn’t have been tired had it not been for his middle of the night visitors. Awakened at four in the morning to be told by a brilliant scientist there was a frightening possibility that a Benedict Arnold lived amongst them, was one thing, but that wasn’t what stirred Joe from his slumber. Henry Kusakari did. Not only did Henry wake him, ramble rapidly and ridiculously about something absurd, tote Joe’s three month old grandson about, but Henry also sarcastically insulted his favorite pajamas. That placed Joe in what he liked to call, a ‘piss-poor’ mood. Not to mention, that fact steered Joe’s mind off where it should be, on Dr. Dean Hayes’
a traitor amongst us
The day had to get better. It wasn’t even six in the morning. Of course
, that thought quickly flew from Joe’s mind the second he stepped into his living room.
“Oh boy.” Joe blew slowly from his mouth as he walked to his dining room. He could hear his wife, Andrea, humming some song in the kitchen while clanging pans. Two of his four grandchildren, Alexandra and Joey, were wake and rambunctious. Nick, his three month old grandson, screamed his loudest, and his middle of night visitors sat at his dining room table, sipping on coffee, and making themselves at home. “Christ Almighty, don’t you two have somewhere else to be?” Joe looked at Henry and Dean then walked through the dining room and into the kitchen, immediately reaching for the coffee.
“Good morning!” Andrea sang the words, kissed Joe on the cheek and resumed her cooking. “Breakfast will be ready shortly.”
Joe grumbled, grabbed his coffee, and walked to his dining room table. He plopped down in his seat, grabbed a cigarette, and lit up. It was after he slowly let out that first hit and brought his head down to his coffee that he saw Dean staring at him. “What?”
Dean’s small framed body leaned back in the chair. His dark blonde hair was messy from running his fingers through it so many times. “That is a sure sign of addiction,” Dean pointed at Joe, “Having to smoke first thing in the morning.”
After wincing at Nick’s loud wail, Joe shook his head in disgust. “Is that one of your own brilliant deductions, Dean? Or is that something you learned in college? Christ, I would think the fact that I smoke all the time ought to be indication enough of addiction.”
“Did you ever think of quitting?” Dean asked.
“No,” Joe said shortly. He tried to resume drinking his coffee but snapped his views to
Henry. “Henry? Can’t you do anything about that baby? Why is he crying so much?”
“I don’t know, Joe.” Henry tried bouncing the baby. “He’s probably upset because Frank kidnapped Ellen.”
Joe and Dean both moaned and rolled their eyes at the same time.
“I’m serious,” Henry complained. “I know you don’t believe me.”
“We believe you, Henry,” Joe told him. “We just think you exaggerate. Give me that baby.” Joe reached out for Nick, toke him in his arms, and stood.
, Joe.” Henry followed with a tilted head. “Ow, hair. He’s got my hair.”
“Christ.” Joe, with a cigarette still in his mouth, joggled the baby while removing the tiny fingers that were intertwined within Henry’s long black mane.
“Oh my God!” Henry exclaimed. “You’re gonna burn my baby.”
“Well he won’t scream any worse if I do.” Joe took the cigarette from his mouth and set it down in the ashtray. “Satisfied?” He turned and he saw Dean reaching to put it out. “Don’t.” Joe pointed at Dean. “Don’t.”
Dean tossed his hands up in the air.
Andrea emerged from the kitchen holding a large plate of pancakes. “Alex, Joey!” she called the kids. “Joseph, sit down and have your breakfast before it gets cold.”
Holding Nick, Joe sat down with the crying baby. He reached for the plate of pancakes, broke off a small piece, and shoved it in Nick’s mouth. Nick shut up.
“Joe,” Dean spoke with a scold. “You really shouldn’t be feeding that baby solid food like that.”
Humming and giggling, Andrea came back out of the kitchen. She handed Joe a bottle for Nick. “Here you go.”
“Thanks.” Joe extended the baby and bottle to Henry.
“No, that’s O.K.” Henry waved his hands about. “You can feed him.”
“Henry, take your baby.”
“I’d really rather not, Joe.”
“Henry, I’d like to smoke my cigarette, drink my coffee, and eat my breakfast in my house. Now take your son!”
“Oh, all right.” Reluctantly Henry took Nick.
Joe grunted as he ran his hand down his face. “Why are you two still here anyhow?”
Dean placed a pancake on a plate and handed the plate to Alexandra. “Andrea said she’d make us breakfast.”
“Andrea!” Joe called her. “Why are you making these men breakfast? They can feed themselves.”
“Of course the
y can,” Andrea spoke pacifying as she walked through the dining room, holding a mug and a plate of pancakes. She stood by the front door.
Joe watched her with oddness. “What the hell is she doing?”
As soon as Joe said that, his front door opened.
Robbie Slagel walked in wearing a bright white tee shirt and dark green military style pants. He took the plate and mug fr
om Andrea. “Thanks, Andrea.” After darting a kiss to Andrea’s cheek, he lifted his views to the dining room. “Morning, Dad. Dean. Henry.” Robbie grinned, turned, and walked back out of the house.
Andrea shut the door with a snicker. “Isn’t he just so handsome in uniform?”
Joe tossed his hands in the air. “Why is he up and about this early?”
Henry had the answer. “Probably doing Frank’s work since Frank is no longer here because he kidnapped Ellen.”
Before Joe could verbally blast Henry, Dean interjected. “Henry, Frank did not take Ellen anywhere. Quit it. You are way too paranoid.”
“Fine. Fine.” Henry gave up. “But we’ll see how paranoid you get when you find out I’m right. Not to mention how pissed off you will be.”
“Yeah, I’ll be pissed, but I’m not worrying about it Henry. Frank did not kidnap Ellen. He wouldn’t do that.” Dean paused in bringing food to his mouth, “O.K., he would do that, but he didn’t. I’m sure of it. There’s too much going on.”
Joe agreed. “
Listen to Dean, Henry. He is absolutely . . .” Joe stopped talking when Andrea, so carefree, sat down at the table. In her own world she still hummed, placed a napkin over her lap, and dished herself some pancakes. “Andrea, why did you stand at the door with breakfast for my son?”
“He was hungry. He has to eat, Joe. He’s a growing boy.”
“He’s thirty-three years old, Andrea. He stopped growing fifteen years ago.”
“Still.” Andrea made herself comfortable, turned to check on Alexandra and Joey who were eating in the living room, then returned to her own plate.
“Still?” Joe questioned. “Andrea, did he say why he was up at six? I usually have to drag his ass out of bed at eight.”
“He’s filling in for Frank as head of Security,” Andrea said as she ate.
“See, Joe!” Henry stated loudly. “See.”
“No, Henry, I don’t see.” Joe spoke perturbed. “Granted my son probably is off somewhere with Ellen for the day, but he’s off somewhere in Beginnings. This is a big place. But he did not kidnap her so knock it off.”
“Knock it off!” Frank stopped cold in his walk to the small trailer house and spun around. His dark eyes glared, he dropped the bag he carried, and ran his hand down his face and across his goatee in total frustration. “Throw one more fuckin thing at me, Ellen, and I’m tying you back up!”
“I want to go home!” Ellen yelled at him.
“Well, you’re not going home. Deal with it.” Frank grunted, picked up the bag, and started walking again. Four steps into his second trip to the trailer, he felt the familiar pain hit his head when Ellen beamed him with another stone. “That’s it.” Frank dropped the bag and charged to her.
Ellen backed up, bumping into the side of the pickup truck. “Don’t you dare!” she screamed at him. “Don’t you dare even think about tying me up again. Ten hours, Frank, ten hours I spent tied up.”
“I wouldn’t have to tie you up if you would just stop fighting with me.” Frank stood toe to toe with her.
“What the hell do you want me to do? You kidnapped me!”
“I did not kidnap you.”
“Oh no?” Ellen folded her arms. “Then what the hell do you call knocking someone out, tying them up, and taking them from their home? Asshole!” She careened her foot down hard onto his.
Frank bit his bottom lip, grumbled a scream, stepped back, and slammed his hand hard on the truck. “Get in the truck.”
“I said get in the truck!” He blasted her vocally as loudly as he could. “Now!”
Ellen stumbled as she hurried in the truck.
Frank slammed the door shut fiercely and stormed back to the cabin. He came out with three bags and a box. He stopped on his way to the truck, awkwardly hoisted the bag on the ground over his shoulder and carried everything to the pickup, and dumped it in the back. The air of angriness followed him into the cab of the truck as he started it, tossed it in gear, and screeched the vehicle backwards.
Ellen stayed near her door. “Where are we going?”
“Home!” Frank began to drive fanatically.
“You’ve lost your mind. I know it.”
“Yeah, I’ve lost my mind. I lost it when I lost my son, El. Our son. All I wanted was to take some time alone with you, time alone I don’t get at home. I wanted to get as far away from the fuckin pain as possible. just for a little bit. Just with you.” The truck bounced over the rough road, while Frank shifted gears with a grind. “I went about it the wrong way! I’m sorry! I wasn’t thinking right! How can I when all I fuckin think about . . .” Frank pounded his hand against the steering wheel. He was silent for a second and then his loud tone dropped. “. . . is Brian.”
“Stop the truck.”
“Stop the truck!”
Frank brought the truck to a violent halt. Ellen flopped around. “What?”
“How long, what?”
“How long . . . how long were you thinking of being out here?”
“Not long.” Frank’s hand dangled over the steering wheel. “I brought supplies for a week.”
Ellen let out a long breath and sat back. “Here’s the deal. You take me back, closer to home, back in our own country and I’ll be your hostage for a few days.”
“No.” Frank started to drive again.
“No.” Frank reiterated. “You don’t want to do this so I’ll just take you home.”
“Frank, you started it out on the wrong foot. How did you expect me to react?”
“Nicer?” Ellen shook her head with a laugh. “How much nicer to you want me to be? I’m offering to stay out of Beginnings with you for a couple days. And mind you, this is after you bound and gagged me.”
Frank stared forward as he drove. His jaw twitched slightly. His voice had a calm-bitterness to it. “How close to home?”
“Close enough that if we run into trouble it wouldn’t take them long to fly to us but far enough away that there are no reminders.”
Frank shifted his eyes to her. “Can we . . . can we at least talk during the ride there? Talk without fighting?”
“About anything?” Frank asked.
Frank’s eyes took on a sad look. He sniffed once then sat back in a more relaxed driving position. He shifted gears, leaned over to her, and kissed Ellen on the cheek. “Thanks.”
A makeshift patch was sewn onto the left sleeve of his blue uniform. The letters, ‘UWA’ graced the patch. The twenty-some year old soldier slumped tied in the chair. He fought to keep his head up. His face showed the evidence of a beating he took. Of the fifty that charged into the camp, ten made an unscathed escape, and three were captured. He was one of the three.
“Where?” Todd Masters, tall and thin, wearing a light green military uniform, walked around him. He too wore a patch. His patch held the intertwined ‘C’ and ‘S’. Caceres Society, to those who knew. “Where?”
The prisoner mumbled as he spoke, rambling the same thing over and over. “. . . and for the alliance in which I stand. I will fight for my God, for my home, for my land, and for my brothers who have lost their lives . . .”
Todd shook his head and moved away. He picked up a radio knowing he could only call out. The place he was calling had long been since discovered. It no longer was a secret. “It’s me. I need to speak to him,” Todd spoke into the radio, looking back at the prisoner who still rambled.
“ . . . I will defend with my honor and soul, all that I believe in I will fight for the freedom under which we all should live.”