Kalen Series

When war arrives at your home, no one is unaffected by the devastation. Death is a unavoidable, and when it comes early, it's a tragedy. These are the things that we learn to survive, avoid death and everything that causes it. It's what keeps us human. However, as a Red Cloak, one must learn to accept both, and cast aside their humanity, in order to cling to what remains of their life.

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11. Die Another Day

“NO!” Thaldon roared in pure rage.  He watched helplessly as Khan was thrown into the helicopter.  “NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!!” He began to smash his fist on the arm of his throne.  Derrick couldn’t suppress a smile.

It was short-lived however, as Mason didn’t board the last helicopter.  There must be another wave coming, but he began to fight the Kalen fiercely.  Thaldon’s rage grew with every grunt and Elite that fell under Mason’s blade.  “Kill him! KILL HIM!!!”

Derrick continued to watch the screen intently.  He knew Mason was unparalleled in combat, but he should be leaving.  Just how long was he prepared to keep this up?  There had to be at least one more evac team, but how long would that take.

Thaldon didn’t want to wait any longer.  He turned on his communications to the Kalen at the base of the building “Blow it up!”  The communications were silent for a moment before there was a voice

“Understood, as soon as the soldiers have evacuated-”

“BLOW. IT. UP… NOW!!!”

“…U-Understood.”

***

Mason’s blade effortlessly went through another grunt.  While it wasn’t going to affect his performance in battle, he could feel fatigue starting to set in.  There were about 50 Red Cloaks still on the roof, he just needed to hold his ground until rescue arrived.

Mason felt the blood stain his cloak.  He heard the unearthly screams of his enemies dropping to the ground.  He saw his comrades fighting in intense combat with him, desperately trying to hold the perimeter.  He felt the GMD kicking in, energy coursing through his veins as the adrenaline .

He could also feel his blood running cold the rumble of the building as an explosive was detonated at the base of the building.

Fuck!’ his mind screamed.  He was counting on Thaldon waiting for his men to evacuate.  That fucker really wanted him dead.  Immediately, the Kalen started running down the stair from the roof, firing behind them..

The building shook again, and part of it crumbled, leaving a few Red Cloaks to fall to their deaths.

“Jaylen! How many are still alive!”

Another loud boom, more of the structure falls.  More die.

“About 40, I see the evac teams!”

Copters are seen in the distance.  Salvation is coming.  Just another thirty seconds and he was safe.

The building was only half standing at this point.  Red Cloaks were huddling to the center, hoping nothing else fell.

As they landed on the building the Red Cloaks rushed in, the roof was crumbling behind them.  Mason and Allan both quickly dived into a nearby copter, while Jaylen jumped into another one.  He thanked his luck, as some copters had already fallen off to join the rubble 10 stories below.

However, their luck was short lived, as the last piece of structural integrity gave in, and everything came crashing down.  Mason had but seconds to process what happened before everything went black.

***

“The last team has just lifted off the building.” Carla nearly jumped out of her seat.  She immediately went straight to the pilot.

“Give me the radio.”

“Ma’am, you’re not supposed to-”

“I said give it” Carla repeated, much more sternly.  The pilot relented, allowing her to talk into it. 

“Hello? Does anyone from the 4th evac team have Commander Lagner on their copter?”  The moments went by like hours for Carla as she waited for responses.

“Nope”

“Negative”

“He’s not here”

“We don’t have him”

Each time a pilot denied having him, Carla tightened her grip on the radio’s talk piece.  Finally, Jaylen was able to get on a radio as well, most likely by using methods similar to her own.

“Carla, is that you?”

“Yes, who is this?”

“Jaylen”

“Where’s Mason?”

There was a long pause from Jaylen.  “Um… I think I know what happened to him, but you might not be happy with it”

Carla slammed her fist on the seat “Dammit Jaylen, what happened!”

“Many of the copters that landed on the conference building did not take off in time.  They fell into the rubble.  Mason most likely got into one of those unfortunate few, and he’s most likely dead right now.”

Carla stopped.  She spent what seemed like an entire minute just staring off into space.  “Carla” Joe called from the back of the copter.  She immediately shook herself out of it, and once again spoke into the radio.

“We’re going back”

“Like hell you are.  Carla, Mason’s probably dead.  He wouldn’t have wanted you to lose Khan and the rest of your team to try and rescue him.”

“I’m not him, am I?”

There was a silence in the radio.  Carla repeated what she had said before. “We’re going back”

“Carla, get a hold of yourself!”

“If Mason dies, the Red Cloaks are going to be disbanded by the president!  He’s not dead until we have a body and a dog tag, we need to go back!”

“…”

“Are you going or are we going?”

“…”

“Jaylen, which is it?”

“… I’ll go”

“Thank you, Jaylen”

“Yeah, whatever”

***

Allan stirred when the dust settled.  When he opened his eyes, everything was still spinning in his head.  When he tried to move, he felt intense pain.  When his vision cleared up, less than willingly, he looked down.  He nearly vomited at the sight.

His body was twisted at an odd angle, with his right leg pointing down, but the shin was bent sideways so far, bone was jutting out of his skin.  A metal rod was impaled straight through the center of his chest. Blood stained almost his entire uniform red, and even more was coming out of his plethora of wounds.

He regretfully looked around his comrades.  The two men across from him fared even worse.  One was decapitated, while the other had his legs torn off, and most likely died of blood loss. 

He looked to his right, and saw Mason there.  Blood was gushing out of his forehead, and was unconscious. However, none of his wounds seemed fatal.

Allan looked outside.  He heard the copters returning.  They were coming back for them!  However, they were under a few feet of rubble, there was no way they would be noticed under the chunks of concrete on top of them.

He felt his vision blurring.  The blood loss was taking a toll now.  He looked around quickly for the flare gun.  He needed to fire it through that hole leading out.  Allan struggled to form word and wake Mason up.  He most definitely has a flare gun on him.

“C… Commander” Allan put all of his strength into shaking Mason’s shoulder with his good arm.  Mason’s eyes shot open, and he tried to lift his head, only to have his eyes squeeze shut in pain.  “C-Commander… They’re coming back for us…”

Slowly, Mason got himself to look at Allan.  The look of disdain of his face made Allan fear for the worst. “Is… Is it that bad…?”

“… We need to get out of here”

“Uh… Y-Yeah, you should fire the flare gun…”

Mason nodded as he reached behind his jacket uniform to take out his flare gun.  He loaded the red flare, and pointed it up toward the hole.  Mason hesitated to fire, however. Allan took notice of this “C’mon… Commander, the Air Support might leave soon”

The truth was, Mason didn’t feel like he deserved to escape.  Those wounds Allan sustained were fatal, and Mason can’t even get his body out with his own.  It didn’t sit right with him at all.

“S-Sir…”

Mason, defeated, fired the gun through the hole.

It took less than a minute for the copters to arrive.  The sounds of spinning blades were heard growing steadily louder.

“Do… Do you think I can make it?”

“…”

“Commander…?”

“I’m sorry… I’m so sorry…”

A rope dropped right next to Mason.  Allan didn’t look surprised.  His vision was already blurring.  As Mason got himself ready to leave, Allan used his last bouts of strength to try and look Mason in the eyes as he took his dog tag.

“G-Good… Luck…”  He slowly raised his right hand into a weak salute.  Mason nodded, and tugged on the rope.

Slowly, Mason was raised out of the hole.  The last Mason saw of Allan was him closing his eyes, and leaning his head back as death took him away.

***

As Mason boarded the copter, he was met by a cheer from everyone.  It made his head hurt.  Jaylen walked over and put a hand on Mason’s shoulder.  “Good to have you back, Commander.”

He attempted to walk over to his seat, only to fall straight into Jaylen’s arms. “Shit…” he muttered. “Help me, Jaylen…”  The two walked over to his seat.

“You alright, Mason?”

“I… I’ll be…”  Mason felt his vision go black, and his body felt weightless as he slipped into unconsciousness.

***

The team looked absolutely distraught.  Almost an hour ago they landed at the drop off point.  There was no response coming from Jaylen’s team.  They were sitting on a bench, waiting for Jaylen, with the commanders and the president.  Commander Hutchinson lost hope early on.  Commander Singleton’s face grew more and more grim.

Finally, the president’s patience ran out. “That’s it, I’ve had enough of this, they’re all MIA”

Carla shot up “So what is going to happen with the Red Cloaks?”

“Well, the casualties you took and the death of your acclaimed Commander Mason means that there would probably be not enough support for the Red Cloaks, so I think we should disband them.”

At this point, the entire team surrounded the president and gave a barrage of protests.

“You can’t do that!” Maddie nearly screamed

“That’s a bullshit copout and you know it.” Jessica edged that comment with just the right amount of venom.

“Without the Red Cloaks, who will fight the Kalen!?” Troy questioned him, making sure to get in the president’s face.

“I DON’T CARE!” the president roared, effectively silencing everyone.  “Without Mason, you are nothing!  And quite frankly, I don’t give a damn about you idiots.  You’re all just bothersome to the government and are always running toward your deaths! So bitch and moan all you want, Mason isn’t here so there’s no one to-”

“Look!!!” Commander Singleton pointed towards the copters that came into sight.  When they landed.  Everyone rushed to see what was going on.

Jaylen jumped out, and signaled his team to come out, yelling “GO! GO! GO!”

Everyone silently gaped when their Commander was hauled out of the copter, unconscious.  Jaylen took no time to explain “Mason had a wound on his head.  We stopped the blood loss to some degree.  WE think he’ll be alright, but we need to get him to a medical center, now!” The team immediately took Mason to a hospital.

Just like that, hope was sparked back into the hearts of all who desired a free world.

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