The Artemis Project: Chapter 1

The newly promoted Major returned to her office after her lunch that day, only to find a squad moving the contents of her office. When she enquired as to why her items were being moved, she was informed that she would be based in a new office at the back of the building.

Major Garrett scratched her head for a moment, then realized that the soldier must have meant the last unused office in the administration building. That specific office was a three room suite, a reception area, the office itself and a fairly decent sized conference room.

She smiled at the men and the lone woman humping various items from this office to the new one, then grinned and broke out laughing. Life was definitely looking up for her, a new rank, a specialist squad to train and now the second best office space on the entire base!

She returned the salutes of the various enlistees, then let them return to their work while she lazed in the communal office area. The next hour or so was spent in quiet conversation with Corporal Kitterwell, who would be her assigned administrative assistant for the new squad.

Just as the clock on the administration area wall struck 2:30 PM, the Major was informed that she could enter her new office space. The young sergeant in charge of the small squad doing the internal move informed her that they would be moving Corporal Kitterwell's desk now.

The corporal looked up in shock, then asked the young man why? He passed on the news of her being permanently attached to the new unit, then turned her day completely upside down when he added that, by order of the Colonel and Washington, she was now a lowly sergeant.

Jane spluttered that he had to be kidding her, she had not, to the best of her knowledge, been in line for a promotion any time soon.

The young man laughed, then handed Jane a set of papers that formalized her promotion in rank. She held the sheets in her hands, utterly speechless. It took a few minutes before the new sergeant was able to respond, she thanked him and the unit continued with their work.

While this little scene had been playing out, the Major had watched and had a quiet chuckle over Jane's shock at the recent turn of events.

The Major and the new sergeant followed the group carrying Jane's desk down to the new office, then the group left to attend to other duties.

**********

At 3:37 PM, the phone in the Colonel's outer office area rang, his staff answered the call and it was soon transferred to his line.

"Hello, Colonel Brownlee speaking, to what do I owe this call, sir?" he asked as he stared at a pile of paperwork on the desktop.

"Good day, Colonel, this is Rear Admiral John Bertram, I'm a friend of General and Admiral Longstaff. I'm on the defence oversight committee that will be watching the Artemis unit as it forms and undergoes its initial missions. I hear you have General Joe Longstaff's kid there?"

"Yes, sir, Admiral, I do have that young man on this base. May I ask as to why you are asking about him now?" the Colonel enquired.

"It's quite simple, Adam, young Longstaff is, as of this moment, being transferred to that unit. Perhaps he'll learn something, who knows?"

The Colonel blanched, that would not go over well with Major Garrett, he was sure. "I assume that I have no choice in this matter, Admiral?"

"That is correct, Adam. Young Longstaff is being given one last chance to sort himself out, it's that or possible court martial for him."

"Admiral, the officer in charge of Artemis has had to deal with Longstaff's last act of idiocy. She will not like this, sir," the Colonel stated.

"Adam, that is immaterial. With Garrett's record, I doubt she will have any difficulty keeping him in line," Rear Admiral Bertram replied.

"Understood, sir. Is there anything else that I need to know at this time?" the Colonel asked.

"That was all, Adam. It's up to the boy now as to whether he makes it in that unit or not. Good day, Adam," then the call was disconnected.

The Colonel's admin assistant, Sgt. Brianna Rosenthal, turned pasty white as she listened to the stream of curses coming from the inner office.

**********

It was nearly a quarter of an hour later before the curses stopped, then the Colonel asked to be connected to Major Garrett's new office.

Sgt. Rosenthal quickly patched through the call, chatting for a moment with Sgt. Kitterwell, then the Major was on the newly organized line.

"Colonel, sir, you asked to speak with me, sir?" Major Garrett enquired shortly after answering the call.

"I did, Major, I've just been told in no uncertain terms that young Longstaff is to become a member of your new unit." At the indrawn hiss of shock from the Major on the other end, he continued, "This is the young man's last chance to straighten himself out, Major. Good luck."

"Holy..." Elizabeth came very close to swearing a blue streak, but managed to keep her cool. "I have no choice in this, sir?" she asked.

"None, Liz. Hell, I have no choice in this, the orders came down from Rear Admiral Bertram himself twenty minutes ago," the Colonel replied.

"Bertram, sir..." Liz sat there and thought for a moment, "Isn't he one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for President Anderson, sir?"

"Yes, he was appointed about eight months ago when the admiral who held that position retired after thirty years of service."

"Damn, sir. Sorry, sir, but it looks like I'm being put in the hot seat here in the hopes that that idiot can be sorted out in a reasonable way."

"That's a pretty accurate assessment, Major, one more mistake from him and he'll be up shit creek without a paddle in a leaking boat."

The Major sighed, listened for a moment as the call wound down, then hung up the phone, shaking her head at her life's new twist.

She sat there in her chair, thinking about this new issue and wondered if the young man had enough sense left to turn over a new leaf.

At 4:19 PM, she instructed Sgt. Kitterwell to have young Longstaff report to her office at 7:30 AM the next day.

Liz spent the next hour going through paperwork and examining files or information on possible unit members.

Just before 5:30 PM, she closed the office and escorted Sgt. Kitterwell to the mess hall where they relaxed over roast beef dinners. The beef was tougher than Liz remembered from her mother's recipes, but the potatoes and corn made up for that, as did the slice of chocolate cake.

**********

Corporal Bryan Longstaff was waiting in the outer area of her office when she entered it the next morning.

After returning his salute, she led him into the office and had him take a seat in a chair on the other side of the desk.

Elizabeth stared through him for several minutes, causing Bryan to become nervous, which soon translated into obvious twitches as he waited.

Eventually, she sighed, shook her head and faced him across the desk. "As of now, Corporal, you are in my new unit. I expect you to put in just as much effort as any other member of the team. To be blunt, Corporal, you are on your last legs. Shape up now or you'll be gone."

Bryan stared across the desk, wincing as he heard that he would be required to undergo training in the new unit.

He lowered his gaze for a moment, then listened as the Major informed him as to the new unit's plans. That was all he could take. He lunged from his chair, growling at Elizabeth across the desktop, "You expect me to help protect bloody fairies from terrorists?! Hell, no!" he snarled.

The Major snapped back at him, still seated, "Corporal, you have thirty seconds to shut the hell up or I'll have you up on insubordination."

Bryan couldn't believe it, she was quite plainly telling him that his career would be forfeited if he failed to listen and follow obstructions.

"Sit down, Corporal, I won't tell you again," she growled. He dropped bonelessly into the chair, shaking his head but paying attention. "If you don't perform as required, or if you do anything that is even slightly illegal, Corporal, you'll be facing possible court martial. The ONLY way you can avoid that from this time forward is to give me every last bit of honest effort that we both know you can make. Is that clear?" she hissed.

Bryan nodded, his face pale as he contemplated ways he could possibly get back at this stone-faced bitch. "Yes, ma'am, it's clear."

For the first time in this brief meeting, the Major smiled. "Good, you will report to Parade Ground C at 8:15 AM. Get moving, Corporal."

Bryan nodded, saluting her, then waiting for her return salute, before he left the office.

The Major continued to sit in her chair for several minutes. Maybe, just maybe, this young man could make something of himself.

**********

At 8:14 AM, Major Garrett walked to the northern end of Parade Ground C and faced the dozen or so troops standing there.

After the formalities had been observed, Elizabeth looked out over the group and smiled. Except for Longstaff, these were all 'good folks'.

"All right, boys and girls, until we get someone better for training purposes, you will train under Captain Jacobi here. He's been in the Israeli military for even longer than I have here, his skills are in the areas of insertion and extraction regarding rescue and hostage situations."

The captain who had been named nodded, then listened as Major Garrett continued to outline the training plan. Captain Isaiah David Jacobi, tall, stocky, swarthy and quite obviously very fit by the visual signs of washboard abs and powerful arms and legs, smiled at them all.

When the Major had finished speaking, he faced the troops. "By the time I finish with you kids, you'll wish you were in hell," he stated. "I'm on temporary assignment here from the Israeli Defence Forces. I've been on the front lines more times than you want to know. Most of my work has been rescues of important people being held hostage in our part of the world. I've had to kill far too many times to list them all for you.

"What you need to know is that I'm going to work your asses off until I'm satisfied that you can do the job, and do it right the first time." He paced for a moment in front of the two lines of soldiers, then reversed direction and paced to the other end before returning to the center point. "Some of you folks will be part of a new unit being formed here that will work to protect transgender individuals at risk here and elsewhere.

"You ask what makes these people being protected so important? It's simple, every one of them either has worked in the military in the past and is involved with projects under military supervision, or they're working on things that will eventually benefit military folks worldwide."

"For those of you who end up in the new unit, your job will be to protect them or to rescue them if they are kidnapped or attacked."

Once more, Captain Jacobi paced in front of the troops, casually looking each of them over, making initial assessments as he walked.

When he stopped, he turned to face Major Garrett, an inscrutable smile on his face. "By your leave, Major?" he asked.

Major Garrett flashed him a brief smile, then answered him, "Granted, Captain, commence drill."

Captain Jacobi waved to a tall woman, nearly as swarthy as himself, standing a short distance away from the group. "Sgt. Cohen, proceed."

The woman grinned as she looked at the troops, a grin that reminded them of a shark about to have a nice, tasty meal of fresh human.

The Major and the Captain watched for a short while as Sgt. Cohen ran the troops through several exercises, then they walked off together.

Liz looked up at the tall, handsome captain walking next to her, then stated, "I noticed you looking over the troops earlier. Assessing them?"

Captain Jacobi nodded, then answered her, "Pretty much, we'll see how they look in a week or two. That young corporal that was standing off to one side of the group when we made our remarks a few minutes ago, I'm assuming there's bad blood between the two of you?"

Liz sighed, "That's putting it mildly, Captain. He has had the mistaken assumption that women are only good for fucking and cooking."

Captain Jacobi growled as he stopped for a moment, "Major, if he'd pulled that shit in my unit, he'd have been court martialled immediately."

Liz sighed again, then explained, "The boy has been using his family connections to do what he wants. I hear that's not the case now."

The Captain nodded and replied, "So he might actually be required to grow up and learn to face the music on his own two feet?"

Liz nodded as the two of them resumed their walk, "We hope that will be the case. Only time will tell, Captain."

**********

It was nearly three weeks later when the Major was informed of recent events concerning Corporal Bryan Longstaff.

One of the MPs on the base was waiting in the outer area of the Major's office when she arrived that morning.

The MP saluted her, waited for the return salute, then introduced herself and explained why she was there.

"Major, I'm 1st Sgt. Janice Lynn Raymond of the base's MP detachment. I had cause to take Corporal Longstaff into custody last night."

Major Garrett sighed, shook her head and asked, "What has he done now, Sarge?"

"Major, last night he was in the second mess hall, the one we use as a bar of sorts on the base here. There was a birthday celebration taking place for one of the new female recruits here, and Longstaff was seen by several people as he dosed her drink with GHB.

"A sergeant from one of the base's infantry companies warned the young woman to leave her drink alone, then waved to an MP across the room. When the MP learned what had almost happened, he called for three others to show up and they arrested Corporal Longstaff.

"The drug was still there in the drink, it didn't take the base medical team long to obtain the information they needed.

"At 01:45 AM today, he was informed that he was being brought up on charges of attempting to drug someone and intending to commit rape."

"I understand the rape part of that didn't actually occur, but it was clearly intended and the legal officer demanded the charge be added."

"I see," Major Garrett replied, the sigh that escaped her lips was the only sign of the stress she was experiencing at that moment. "I'm assuming he'll undergo a formal court martial at some time today, where he will be all too plainly convicted. He'll be going to Leavenworth."

"Yes, Major. When the Colonel found out at 6:45 AM, be was quite angry and demanded the court martial be held at 10:00 AM today. Major, it gets even worse, the girl he was hoping to 'play with' turned eighteen yesterday, she enlisted at seventeen with parental consent."

"Oh, my," the Major whispered, "That bloody idiot was in trouble three months ago over Staff Sgt. Jensen's daughter, now this."

**********

Major Garrett had no idea until she met with the Colonel at 9:40 AM that he wanted her to sit with him as part of the court martial panel. The third officer was one of the other majors on the base, Major Richard Cardinal who supervised the armoured infantry units.

"All rise, Colonel Brownlee presiding, Majors Garrett and Cardinal assisting. This is a court martial hearing against Corporal Bryan Longstaff."

The three of us listened as the evidence was presented to the panel, i.e., the drug he tried to use, his dropping the GHB into her glass having been witnessed by at least ten people in the room, the fact that he had more of the GHB in a small plastic bag in his jacket pocket, and three or four statements he had made that he would "show her a good time soon". There was further evidence given that, when he was arrested by the MPs, he fought with them for several minutes until one of them managed to knock him out, at which point they hauled him to a cell.

That was when the big surprise happened. Four female recruits stood up and asked to address the panel. Permission was given.

"Colonel, Major, Major, I'm Pvt. Kelly Silverman, he", she pointed at Longstaff, "Raped me seven months ago after using a drug like that one. I woke up the next morning with no memory of what had happened and blood running down my legs from his savage assault on me. I was in the grounds maintenance shed used by the small unit that tends to the landscaping on the base, my clothes and ID, etc., were gone."

One of the other young women spoke up then, "Sir, Ma'am, Sir, I'm Pvt. Saville Randt, I heard her screams that morning and helped her. I escorted her to the medical offices where a rape kit was done and she underwent minor surgery to repair several small tears.

"I've served here for about sixteen months, and I had a similar experience just over eleven months ago. Corporal Longstaff at that time was a private. Like Kelly, I found myself in a different part of the base when I woke up, also naked. I couldn't remember anything about that night for a long time, but after several sessions with one of the base's psych staff, I learned what had happened. Also like Kelly, I had a rape kit done."

A third young woman said her piece, "I'm Pvt. Leonie Martell, I was raped by him not quite five months ago. Like Kelly and Saville, I found myself the next morning in a different area of the base, naked, with no idea what had happened. I ended up having a rape kit done as well."

The fourth woman sighed and spoke, "I'm Cpl. Jenisse Lasalle, I was also raped by that man three months ago. I woke up in the auxiliary physical training room, naked like the others, with no memory of the night at all. I made my way to the med unit where a rape kit was done."

A man, who had been sitting on one of the folding steel chairs behind the four girls, stood up and addressed the panel. "I'm Dr. Abraham Vincent, Captain for the medical unit here on the base. Here is the rape kit evidence we gathered for each of these four women."

He waited as the sergeant acting as the bailiff approached, then handed him four files in a manila folder.

The sergeant walked to the front of the room and handed the folder to the Colonel. He and the two majors spent the next fifteen minutes talking while examining the files. In each one, the swabs and other tests that had been taken pointed to Corporal Longstaff as the sole rapist.

That was confirmed when, after his arrest, a medical staff person extracted a DNA sample and compared it to the ones in the files.

Major Garrett turned and faced Longstaff for a moment, glaring at him, then resumed the discussion with the Colonel and Major Cardinal.

When they had finished their discussion, Colonel Brownlee addressed the room.

"With the evidence that we have been given, we see no course except to add four charges of first degree rape against the defendant. It is clear that he has been doing these activities for most of the time that he has served here, figuring none of it would ever come to light.

"With that in mind, we find him guilty on all counts. Sentence will be fifteen years each for the four counts of rape. For the count of attempted drugging, he will serve seven years. On the count of intent to rape, sentence is ten years. All sentences will be served concurrently.

"We could have chosen to have him serve the sentences consecutively, but felt that would give him no chance for possible reformation."

"Detain him until he can be transferred to the MPs responsible for transporting prisoners. This court martial panel is now finished."

**********

After everyone had left the room, Colonel Brownlee and the two majors walked over to the Colonel's office to chat.

The three officers sat down in the chairs and Major Garrett muttered, "Gods, what a stupid fool! He'll learn the hard way now."

Colonel Brownlee nodded, saying, "He made his choices and they came back to bite him in the ass rather hard today."

Major Cardinal agreed, adding, "Well, he's not our worry any more, or at least he won't be once he leaves here."

The three officers continued to talk for another fifteen or twenty minutes, then headed to the mess hall where they ate lunch together.

While they were eating, they were approached by an MP who informed them Longstaff would be picked up for the transfer the next day.

Colonel Brownlee returned to his office after lunch and placed a call to the office of Brigadier General Joseph Longstaff.

"Hello, sir, this is Colonel Brownlee, your son just underwent a court martial this morning and was convicted on all counts."

"His usual activities with women, I assume, Colonel?" Joe Longstaff enquired.

"If by usual you mean rape, then yes, sir. He was caught attempting to drug the drink of a girl celebrating her birthday last night. That was only the beginning, though; while the court martial was taking place, four women stood up and stated that he had raped them.

"There was physical evidence present in every case. A sample taken last night confirmed he had raped the four women.

"He was sentenced to fifteen years each for the rape counts, seven for the attempted drugging and ten for intent to rape."

General Longstaff sighed, then replied, "My brother and I washed our hands of him after the incident with your Staff Sgt.'s daughter."

"He'll be heading off to Leavenworth some time tomorrow in a prisoner transfer vehicle and an escort of four MPs," Colonel Brownlee stated.

The call ended a few minutes later and Colonel Brownlee sat in his chair, staring vacantly at the wall across from him.

**********

That Friday afternoon, Major Garrett learned of a major international incident resulting in the loss of twelve lives at a military base above the harbour at the northern edge of the fairly new country of Bezlijistan which formed after a split in Iran's leadership seven years before.

She was reading an article in the newspaper about it. Why were there idiots in the military that thought they could do whatever they wanted?

A lieutenant on the base wanted to 'have a good time' with a specific female sergeant who just happened to be in a relationship with a female lieutenant there. As most people of Bezlijistan were not hardcore followers of Islam, they didn't raise a ruckus at such relationships.

For some reason we cannot understand, at various places near outer exits from the base, specially made extremely powerful high end incendiary explosive devices were placed and would be deactivated by the old shift, then reactivated by each new shift taking over from them.

This male lieutenant decided to pull a fast one and asked the female lieutenant to cover for him without explaining about the IEDs at all.

The shift she was covering his butt on was due to end at midnight. For her and several others, it ended very suddenly at 11:05:42 PM.

A pair of SEAL platoons had been sent to the base to do more training and one platoon was doing their nightly run around the base perimeter.

When the IED exploded, the badly constructed and utterly fragile outer walls shattered, turning into thousands of flying bits of wooden shrapnel. The lieutenant covering the male lieutenant's station died instantly, as did eleven members of the platoon running by at the time.

Seven of the eleven platoon members that died there were within extreme close range when it exploded. Those seven people, one of them a young female recruit with only three months of service at that time, never knew what hit them as they were killed instantly.

Four others were just far enough away that they died almost as fast, due to the explosion and the flying shrapnel hitting them at high speeds.

The last three members of the unit, specifically the lieutenant, his petty officer 2nd class and one seaman apprentice, suffered major injuries. The lieutenant lost his right leg above the knee, the petty officer both legs at the knees, the seaman apprentice both legs from mid-calf down.

The three were treated very quickly after the explosion occurred and underwent several operations between them to stabilize them. A large part of these operations were to stem blood loss and close and cauterize the major wounds, some to deal with more minor injuries.

An investigation started immediately. The male lieutenant was soon discovered in the harbour town, getting drunk in an unlicensed club.

His quarters were searched, at which time a large number of papers were found detailing his ideas and plans for the female sergeant.

He faced a court martial early the next morning, where he was convicted on twelve counts of murder and one of conspiracy to commit rape.

Within five minutes of the sentencing, he had been taken out to the back of the base and executed by a firing squad.

The Major shook her head, them muttered to herself, "There are times I wish we dealt with capital offences like that."

She had no idea that Sgt. Kitterwell was standing in the doorway and had overheard the remark until Jane spoke, "I completely agree, Major."

The two women returned to their work, but the Major's mind was on the platoon members that had survived that night. At 1:53 PM, she had Sgt. Kitterwell connect her to a high ranking officer in a SEAL unit, who informed her the three would likely be medically discharged.

She enquired as to where they were being treated and what treatment they were being given, then decided she would visit them soon.

'Soon' turned out to be eight days later, the first moment when she had a few hours of free time available. She canceled all meetings for the day by informing Sgt. Kitterwell that she was going out on unit business and that she, the Sgt., would be going with her.

A quick call to the Colonel sorted everything out and the two women headed out to the parking area, accompanied by two MPs.

The four of them climbed into a five year old H2 and the MP at the wheel soon had them rolling toward their destination.

**********

It took them almost ninety minutes to reach the VA hospital where the three were being treated.

Major Garrett led the way to the information desk, followed closely by Sgt. Kitterwell and the two MPs a bit further back.

"Hello, I'm Major Elizabeth Garrett, I'm here to see Lieutenant Andrews, PO 2nd Class Purcell and Seaman Apprentice Browne."

"If you can wait a moment, Major, I'll get someone here who can take you to them," the young woman replied.

"That's fine, thank you," was the Major's response. The wait wasn't long, a few minutes, then a young marine corporal approached them.

"Hello, Major, I'm Cpl. Robert Townsend, will you folks please follow me?" he motioned as he turned and faced a hallway to the left.

What else could we do? We quietly followed him, using an elevator at one point, then roamed the third floor hallways for a few minutes before we turned a last corner and found ourselves in a small unit with just four beds in the room, three of them were occupied at the moment.

Major Garrett thanked the corporal for his help, then stated that she needed to speak to them privately. The corporal nodded and walked away.

"Lieutenant, Petty Officer, Seaman Apprentice, my name is Major Elizabeth Garrett, I am the commanding officer for the Artemis unit."

The mention of Artemis caused Lieutenant Andrews' face to show an expression of shock which the Major noticed rather quickly.

"So, Lieutenant, you've heard of the Artemis Project then?" she asked him.

"Yes, ma'am, I'm Lieutenant Brady Andrews, commander of a SEAL platoon that was nearly wiped out last week."

Major Garrett nodded, "I've read the news articles in the New York Times, I've also seen the reports filed by the three of you."

"Then you know what happened to us and the end result for the idiot that pulled the damn stunt," Lieutenant Andrews snarled.

The Major nodded again, "I do, as I said, I've read the full reports. I'd like to enlist you three as aides for my unit due to your skill sets. In fact, I have the authority to overturn the medical discharges currently being filed by your superiors after that stupid incident."

"How the hell did you manage to get that?" was the question from the startled Petty Officer 2nd Class Purcell.

"I have access to the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the President if necessary, by Presidential order," Elizabeth responded.

"Son of a bitch! That is some serious pull!" came the shocked reply from the third person in the room, Seaman Apprentice Eunice Browne.

"That is correct, Seaman Apprentice, and I have to be careful that I don't overstep myself," Major Garrett chuckled. "Anyway, you three have to make a choice here, one that will determine what level of treatment you receive from now on and how soon. First option is that you each sign on with my unit, whether as aides or actual unit members doesn't matter. Second option is don't sign with me and stay here, waiting.

"If you sign on with me, you'll get immediate treatment, specifically top of the line military grade prosthetics and a slight pay raise."

"Military prosthetics? Since when does the military make that kind of stuff?" Lieutenant Andrews enquired.

"Since about three years ago, Lieutenant," the Major informed him. "The current prosthetics available through them are simply amazing."

"Just how amazing are you talking about?" came from Seaman Apprentice Browne.

"Hmmm... feet that look real and are constructed to move like actual feet do, with all the connected 'fibrous' tissues," was the Major's reply.

"Damn, that's way ahead of what they've been showing us as possible prosthetics we could get through the VA," Lieutenant Andrews stated.

The Lieutenant shared a brief look with the two remaining members of his platoon, then asked the Major and her people to leave the room.

Major Garrett smiled and nodded, then waved the MPs and Sgt. Kitterwell out the door before following them.

"I don't think they'll take very long to make a decision, Sgt. Kitterwell. Did you see the look the lieutenant gave to the other two?"

"I did, Major and I agree with you. I'm pretty sure they'll be joining us once they finish their little discussion in there," Sgt. Kitterwell replied.

The door opened not quite ten minutes later, with Lieutenant Andrews motioning to them to come into the room.

Once everyone was inside and the door was closed, he grinned, then stated, "All three of us will be joining you immediately, Major."

Petty Officer 2nd Class Purcell nodded, adding, "A large part of what did it for us was you saying we could get superior prosthetics, ma'am."

Major Garrett smiled at the three wounded people, "I'll be filing the paperwork when we go downstairs. It may take a few days for things to get moving, but all three of you should be going for assessments for the prosthetics within a week. If not, call me immediately."

Sgt. Kitterwell pulled a business card from her pocket, handing it to the Lieutenant, "The Major's numbers and email are all there, Lieutenant."

The three shook hands with the Major and the Sergeant, then the Major's group called for an escort to the hospital's offices.

The same corporal appeared several minutes later and led them to the office area, pointing to the Commander's closed office door.

**********

Major Garrett stalked forward, rapped on the door three times and waited. The door opened, revealing the Commander's secretary.

"We need to see him now. I would prefer to do it nicely, as I have presidential authority on my side, but that is up to you," the Major stated.

"Yes, ma'am, give me a moment to let him know you are here," the secretary said as she turned and rushed back into the office.

A minute or two later, she reappeared and led the Major and Sgt. Kitterwell into the inner office.

"Major, Sergeant, this is Captain Anthony Chancellor, Officer In Charge for this place."

"Hello, Captain, please take care of these patients to the best of your abilities immediately," Major Garrett smiled briefly as she passed the files across to the Captain, "I will have people checking regularly to ensure they are receiving whatever treatments they require."

The Captain scanned through the files, then asked, "Why do you want these people? They're about to be medically discharged."

"They may have been, Captain, but the moment those papers are filed, my people will be filing papers reinstating the three of them."

"Why? What makes them so important to you?" Captain Chancellor's face was becoming rather red, he was obviously upset.

"They've given years of service to our country, something like that happens and we just throw them away? Not on my command!"

"What the heck?" He flipped through the papers again, "They all signed on with you? Just who the hell are you, Major?"

"The commander of a special unit being put together on presidential orders to protect important people from terrorism and other attacks."

"Holy shi..." was his reply. He then whispered, "Artemis?" The Major nodded and he blanched, whispering, "Sweet Mother of God, help me!"

"All you have to do, Captain, is make sure these three receive the best treatment they can get while they are in your care."

"That is understood, Major. I apologize for the attitude, but there are all kinds of idiots clamouring for special treatment here."

"Have a good day, Captain. Apology accepted, you might wish to curb that attitude in the future to prevent problems," Major Garrett replied.

Major Garrett, Sgt. Kitterwell and the two MPs left the VA hospital and returned to the base. A good day's work had been done.



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