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Forrester was picking up EA from his friend Jimmy Sullivan's house. Walking into the playroom in the basement, he saw that, although young Sullivan's grades were as bad or worse than EA's, his pop had still gotten him the new "Call of Duty", the one that Carilyn and Forrester had denied EA. 

Thank god, the kids weren't firing Predators, they were just using their shooters, their pretend M4A1 carbines and blasting everything in sight. Pow! Boom! - as bodies were blown up on the screen, and as the boys' eyes grew ever brighter.

Maybe this was the difference between Rico and him, now, between all of the rest of the Red Team and him. Maybe they, like soldiers down through time, found the intoxicating thrill of testosterone, to destroy, to blow up, to carry on the male heritage as an annihilator of life, just as the female heritage was to be a creator of life. Who cares what the target was, or if he deserved it or not? What a sweet, operatic majesty to the whole spectacle. 

But wait a minute. Forrester was an American. From the time he was old enough for his Mom to put him in front of the old black and white TV, it was always the same, good guys and bad guys, cowboys and Indians, or sheriffs in white hats and cattle rustles in black. Yanks versus krauts, Japs, the Vietnamese, hell, in Aliens, it was the marines versus some bad extraterrestrial monsters. Forrester was no pacifist, it's not like he wanted to see Sigourney Weaver and the marines in Aliens sit down with the monsters and discuss how their current sad adulthoods had been shaped by their unhappy childhoods. 

Was it too much to ask that, when a soldier killed, the object of the exercise somehow deserved it? That's what his culture taught him, but it seemed a distinct minority view in the Predator command trailer. 

The boys showed no indication they wanted to stop playing. "Boys," Forrester called out, his tone becoming sharper. 

"Ahh, Dad." 

"I said now!" Forrester barked. Moving over to the game console, he flicked off the power switch. "Let's go, son." EA reluctantly got up to follow his father. Forrester looked down at young Sullivan, who appeared totally dejected. Moving to an area behind one of the floor speakers, where Forrester knew that the boy's dad kept his secret stash, he pulled out a DVD, popped it in the player. 

"Here, son, this is better for you," as the disc spun and the credits rolled for Lesbian backyard whoopee orgy VI. The boy saw two naked women in leather dog collars caressing themselves next to a backyard suburban above ground pool. 

Once inside the car and buckled up, EA asked his father just what he had put in the player. 

"Educational programming," and then his phone buzzed, indicating he was getting a text message.

702 652 5407 NELLIS AFB. 



Forrester tightened his grip against the phone, slammed his hand against the steering wheel. 

"Damn. Oh, damn. Blast, blast, blast." 

Waiting in the car for Lily to get through her ballet class with Carilyn, hearing her prattling on about the latest apocalypse in the accounting department where she worked, Forrester knew he was losing it.

"And then Mr Chancellor said we should be using the new 015-217-PH pass through forms, but then Marcia said that we weren't supposed to even be unpacking the 217s until we were all done with the 205s, but Mr Chancellor said he hadn't seen a 205 since Michelle went on maternity leave, so." 

"Son of a bitch!" Forrester exclaimed. Carilyn looked over, saw him white as a sheet, gripping the steering wheel, sweating in the overheated car. 

So he told her everything, the mission, the kids, especially, the reaction from his buddies. She had not had a specific, nuts-and-bolts understanding of just what he did at Creech, but he knew that she would understand. 

Or would she? 

"So you had a direct order to fire, and you refused?" 

"No, it's just that we were tracking a guy down, and the implied assumption was that when we found him we'd, I'd, kill him. But the decision was always mine." 

"So, you made the decision not to kill this guy?" 

"Yes. And to save a half dozen kids." 

"Did they get him later?" 

"I don't know. Maybe." 

"But probably not. By now, Haydar's men would have dug the wreckage out of the ground, identified it as a Predator, causing Haydar to go to ground ever deeper. They'd have to be awfully lucky to get another shot at him, let alone getting both Haydar and al-Saqa with one stone." 

"So you're in trouble with this?" 

"Maybe. Probably." He hadn't called up AF JAG yet, but it wasn't like it was that hard to guess what they wanted. Even they were calling to charge him, or to offer their services for charges about to be filed, but, whichever way, he knew there was a world of shit coming down fast. 

Carilyn was silent for a moment, then her face indicated that she had worked the problem through in his mind. 

"Have you tried to apologize?" 

Forrester couldn't believe what he was hearing, but Carilyn continued. "I mean, like a nice, well-written, contrite letter, written on nice stationary. Then maybe we could have Ross and his girlfriend put in a good word for you. It might work to cut down on a lot of the tension, maybe get the whole thing swept under the rug." 

"Damn it, Carilyn, this is serious. This ain't like walking out of your office with a box of gorilla clips." 

"Don't yell at me - I didn't let two of those animals go. How could you? You listen to Reverend Hagee, about the US and Israel being Jesus' armies of light, versus the Arabs as the forces of darkness." 

"Ahh, Carilyn." 

"It's the same with the Mexicans, you know that? Brother Haines says the Arabs are coming up along with the Mexicans, you know, like infiltrators. You can't tell them apart. God, Brian do you have any idea how many Mexicans are around here, and how many Arabs they might have brought with them?" 

"You don't really believe that, do you?" 

"You know, the other day, I took EA to a McDonald's, and he had to use the bathroom. He was in there for a while, so I went in. There was a Mexican family in there, and when I saw what they were doing here, I grabbed EA, took him home, put him in a tub for three hours while I bundled up his clothes and put them in the dumpster. You were on base then, so while you were letting killers go I had to defend us all by myself?" 

"What about those kids whose lives I saved?" 

"If they were innocent, Jesus would have protected them." 

Forrester couldn't believe it. 

"And another thing, what did you do over at Noreen Sullivan's house; she said that you showed Jimmy a porno tape with two Mexican prostitutes? She said that she wanted to have you put onto the sex offender list, but I said I'd talk to you and ..."

Pastor John Hagee