The Little Army
In shock, Crane simply stared at the doctor, or
whoever he was, for a few seconds and then his hands balled into fists.
The man sighed. “Captain, if you will give me a few minutes before you try
to fight or bluff your way out of here, I think you’ll be glad you did.
Sit down, please.” He smiled as Lee sat gingerly on the edge of the bed.
“Good. I also need
to examine your wound.” He
motioned for Stefan to sit down as well. Lee nodded when Stefan looked at him questioningly.
Lee had a million questions, but didn’t know
where to begin first. The
doctor obliged him fairly quickly.
“I am Doctor Peiter Rallos.
I have sympathies to the recently overthrown government and to the
underground organization. I
knew who you were by a picture that someone you know as Tiny Tim showed
me,” the doctor said with a slight smile.
“Although I had to look closely.
The only photograph shown to me was of someone clean shaven.”
Crane started and then composed himself.
“How did you know I was here?” he asked.
“Ah,” Rallos said with a chuckle. “You do have a voice.
But then, your benefactors here kind of figured you were a
foreigner for all that you have the look of one of my countrymen.”
“How did they guess?” he asked, chagrined.
“You talked a little while you were unconscious
and they couldn’t understand any of it.”
Lee cursed under his breath. “But what brought you here?” he insisted.
“These people are also sorry that President
Brakas was overthrown and knew that I had connections with members of the
underground.” He laughed
softly. “I guess I must
also have a trustworthy face. I
even have a friend in the local people’s guard.
The underground likes that, as you can imagine.
Plus, there is the fact that I am the nearest doctor.”
Lee said nothing, but winced as the doctor applied
some kind of solution to his head wound.
“I would give you a thorough examination, but
time is short. As it is, you
need a couple of stitches. I
have used a topical numbing solution, but you will still feel it.
I will talk as I work. You
simply hold still,” Rallos explained.
“My contact in the kradiz office has made me privy to some
interesting information. They
think that there is a small army hiding in these hills, led by a man whom
they believe to be a spy. They
also know that one of this army is wounded.
They found blood at the site of their last hiding place.”
The doctor paused. “Checking
your wound shows me that it isn’t you.
You have a member of your group who is wounded?”
Chip! With a sigh, Lee nodded. “My executive officer was shot the second night we were on
the run. He got a bullet in
the leg. I’m worried about
him.” He grimaced as Rallos
began working, but the man was deft and his solution numbed most of the
“There was also a government work force truck
missing, as well. One that
was supposed to transport a group of orphans to a work camp.
The three guards were ambushed, one killed and the others left tied
up. It was said that the two
who did this ‘foul’ deed were Americans.
Niros very much wants these Americans captured and tried.” He pulled off his exam gloves and tossed them into a garbage
can. “By any chance would
this so-called army be composed of orphans, starting with that one sitting
next to you? I am surprised
that the government has not put two and two together, although you look
scruffy enough to be a different person.”
Lee smiled softly.
“Yes. The guard shot
and killed the priest when he tried to stop them.
I shot the guard who wounded Chip.
Before he died, Father Vincente made me promise to take charge of
the children and get them to safety.”
“That safety being raids on police stations and
night time excursions through hostile countryside toward the coast?”
Rallos said caustically. “And
what were you going to do when you got to the coast.
Drop them off somewhere?”
“I plan on doing what I promised the priest and that’s take
them all the way.”
“Do you think that is fair to them, Captain?
What will they do in a foreign country without even a knowledge of
the language. You aren’t a
family man. You do not have a
clue as to what these children need.”
“What will they do here, Doctor? Slave in a work camp, or be farmed out to someone to become
his or her personal slave? Will
they get proper medical attention, education, a real family? Love?”
“Love?” Rallos asked in surprise. “How do you know they will get that if they leave Tirea?”
Stefan jumped up and began to berate the doctor in
his own language. After a few
minutes, Lee interjected, “Enough, Stefan.
The doctor has a point and is welcome to make it, whether he’s
right or wrong.”
“So you understood what I was saying?” Rallos
asked the boy.
“I go America with Skipper.”
“Doctor, to be completely fair, I will ask the
children again what they want to do.
Some of them may have changed their minds,” Lee said.
“And what about the ones that are too young to
know what’s going on either way?”
Lee smiled softly.
“You said that I am leading what is being called a small army?”
“The Little Army,” Rallos said. “Despite the fact that the powers in charge think they are
dealing with two different groups, the consensus among some government
workers as well as many people, is that it’s a group of underground men
and their wives and children.”
“Well, then, this army will decide what is in
their own best interest. The
ones who are too young are in the care of the older ones anyway, they will
remain that way, whether the older children decide to leave or stay,”
Lee said decisively.
“Fair enough, Captain.
But let me warn you, the idea of an army in the hills excites the
regular citizens and shows them there is action that can be taken.
However, it also makes it dangerous for your little group, because
the government is going to stop at nothing to capture you.” He paused to
let that sink in. “Now,
what about your executive officer? Commander Charles Morton, am I not correct?”
“Yes, I was going to ask if you could come and
“I wish I could, but there are those who think I
am not as reliable as my friend in the government thinks I am and my
actions are fairly closely watched,” the doctor said.
“I am here to take care of an injured farm hand and that is what
the report will say. I can
leave medicines as I usually do and you can give them to your friend.
Tell me exactly what his condition is.”
Lee described the wound, and Chip’s condition.
Stefan added what he knew.
“I am worried about him,” Rallos said, rubbing
his chin. “To have a bullet
in that long is not good. Three
days. It is no wonder that he
has a fever.” He dug some
things out of his bag. There
was a large bottle of antibiotics, as well as several cleaning agents.
“I wish the bullet could be taken out, but this should help.”
“Thanks, Doctor,” Lee said, only partially
relieved. “If the
government thinks that an army is on the move, do you know what they are
doing near the coast?”
“Glad you asked, Captain.
I have a map from the underground.
It not only shows details of the land between here and the coast,
but also where they have hidden rafts for fugitives to use so they can be
picked up by friendly foreign ships.”
The doctor pointed out various landmarks.
Stefan leaned over and studied the map with the two men. Rallos glanced at him, slightly annoyed.
“Stefan is our Information Specialist.
It’s his duty to check out these kinds of things,” Lee informed
Rallos’ eyes opened wide in wonder.
“What?” Then he
shook his head. “Do not
answer that. The less I know,
the better.” They bent over
the map again. “You are not
that far from the coast, perhaps twenty miles but the government has
probably stepped up patrols along the coast.
It would only be natural, especially since they know of the ships
that are patrolling outside the three mile limit.”
“Of course,” Lee murmured, studying the map.
“It will be better if you wait a few hours to
leave. Then it will be almost
totally dark and you can make it back to wherever your group is hiding
without being seen,” Rallos said. “I
do not know how you are going to transport your man, but he should not
walk on that leg if at all possible.”
Lee nodded. He
held out his hand. “Thanks,
Doc. If you see Tiny Tim,
give my regards.”
Rallos nodded and closed his bag. He took Crane’s outstretched hand and shook it. “Good luck. All of you.” He left. Shortly thereafter, the woman brought in a tray with bread and more stew, motioning for them to eat. Unable to do anything else, the man and boy did just that.
Chip woke to the cool touch of a damp cloth on his
forehead. He felt pain
radiating from his thigh up and down his leg.
He winced as he tried to sit up.
Leela pushed him back down. He
didn’t argue. “Lee?”
“Not here yet,” Meeka answered. “Stefan went out to look.”
“How long ago?”
Meeka bit a hangnail in her agitation.
“What time is it?” Chip asked, anxiety warring
with the fever and pain.
“Maybe three hours before sunset,” Meeka
“And the skipper and Stefan are both missing?”
“Yes, Commander Chip.”
He scowled. “Anyone
“No, I would not let anyone else leave.”
We’ll wait until dark and then organize a search.”
“You are too sick, Leela says,” Meeka reminded
Chip almost ground his teeth in frustration.
Despite Leela’s fussing, he sat up and almost immediately
regretted it. A wash of
dizziness passed over him, but he sat quietly until it passed.
Then he gazed at the small group around him. He
realized that he had been asleep since mid-morning and felt guilty.
Could the erstwhile CMO have given him some kind of drug?
Gazing into her concerned face, he didn’t doubt it.
“Okay, give me a report of all activities since this morning,”
he ordered the COB.
Meeka complied, although it didn’t take long.
The only forays had been about fifty feet into the forest to pick
berries that were ripe. Gunnar was cooking the last of the supplies for supper and
the babies and younger children had been kept under very tight
surveillance the entire day.
He looked at Leela, but spoke to Meeka.
“I want the CMO’s report.
If the skipper and Stefan don’t show up by dark then I will have
to go out and try to find out what happened.”
When Meeka had translated, Leela shook her head
vehemently. She spoke to
Meeka. “Leela says no. You cannot walk. Leg
not good. You have fever.”
Leela was still speaking rapidly.
It was obvious that Meeka was having difficulty translating fast
enough. “She says she
will have Dasha, Birnok and Gunnar sit on you if you try.”
Chip blinked in surprise.
Leela was no better than Doc on the Seaview.
Unfortunately, he was afraid that the children would win, just as
the CMO on the boat usually did. He
didn’t think he had enough strength to enforce his will in that
decision, so he decided to drop it. Still
something would have to be done, especially if Lee and Stefan didn’t
come soon, and especially if they had been captured.
Even as he was wondering what they would be able to do in the event
that the government had Lee and the boy, he contemplated what could have
happened. He thought about
the designations that Lee had given each of the children.
“I need Dasha to report to me,” he said wearily.
Soon the boy was standing before him.
Meeka stood next to him. “Dasha,”
Chip began. “I need to know
what weapons we have. I also
need to know what skills each member of the crew has, even if it’s just
with a sling shot.” He
waited, shifting his stiff body, while Meeka translated, got the needed
information and then relayed it to him in English.
“We have two big guns, two pistols, three
knives. Skipper had other
pistol. Several of us throw
well. Dasha will ask each
crewmember what they can do then report again.”
Chip nodded. “Good. We might
need to fight and we have to be ready.
I will keep the guns and pistols until we need them.”
Meeka laid the weapons next to him.
Chip checked each one. The
machine guns had about a half clip each.
One of the pistols had a full clip and the other one was almost
Of course, he didn’t think any of the children knew how to fire
them, nor was he comfortable letting them do so.
In a pinch, though, he might have to let Leela, Meeka, Dasha or
Birnok use a gun. He knew
that Meeka was twelve, Leela and Dasha ten or eleven, Birnok couldn’t be
more than nine. Am I nuts
even considering putting a machine gun in the hands of these kids?
But then, this whole mission was nuts!
It wasn’t long before Dasha reported to him
again. Most of the older
children were good with a sling. They
were now busy making themselves the local version of slingshots and
gathering appropriate sized stones with which to practice.
Dasha, an owner of one of the knives, was skilled and accurate
throwing one. The boy
reported that he was also good with a bow and arrow as were Gunnar and
Triska. Gunnar was busy
making crude bows while supper cooked and Triska was sharpening sticks to
be used as arrows. Chip
smiled, even as the pain in his leg increased.
“Good. Don’t spend
too much time on bows and arrows, as we may not have that much time,”
Chip instructed through Meeka.
“Make sure everyone who can handle a sling practices in the next
two hours.” Then he gazed
directly at Meeka, his countenance serious.
“We don’t know if the skipper and Stefan have been captured or
not. We have to be prepared
to leave after dark, but more importantly, we have to be able to defend
ourselves if any of the government patrols come for us….”
Then he looked around at the babies playing in the little clearing.
“Meeka, I think we need to discuss something else.”
She gazed at the XO.
Her look told him that she was pretty much aware of his thoughts.
“We will not go back to orphanage.
We will not go work camps. We
will not give up.”
“Meeka, Dasha, please call Birnok, Leela, Rika
and Gunnar to this meeting,” he said, not wanting to acknowledge her
words at this time.
Dasha ran off to get the others and when they had
gathered, Chip addressed them. “You
are the crew chiefs. I am the
executive officer and until the skipper returns, I am in charge.”
He waited for Meeka to translate.
“I am hurt and not able to fight.
If a large government force comes against us, I will not let you
children be hurt.” Meeka
and the others began talking and he stopped them with an upraised hand.
“Those are my orders. I
have heard the COB’s feelings. I
understand them, and respect them. But
I have to think of the very small children like Shonna, Arion, and Ranos.
If the enemy is too large, we will surrender.”
“Commander Chip,” Meeka began after a long
pause. “You are XO. I understand. You
care about us. I understand
that. You do not know us.
Do not know our hearts. Do
not know what life is here. We
will not surrender . . . sir.”
The others nodded. “Children
we hide, have Jillia take to farm nearby.
Better for them than surrender.”
Chip sighed and felt emotion making his heart skip
a beat and his eyes prickle. These
kids had more courage than many men he knew.
They also didn’t totally understand the horrors of war.
But then, maybe they did understand some of the horror.
“Chief Meeka, I respect your feelings.
We will decide what to do with the little ones now in case there is
a fight, then we will be prepared.”
He looked at each one of them and smiled.
“You all have great courage.
I am proud for you to be a part of my crew.”
And he meant it.
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