Dogs of War Will Rise

Chapter 16

"Forgive me, ma'am," Hannibal said, speaking gently to the woman who opened the building's front door despite him coming there after hours. "Are you Maggie Sullivan, the woman who runs this clinic?"

"Yes, but I'm afraid I'm closed for the evening," she replied nervously, though she saw a kindness in his eyes and face, albeit seeing a sadness in him as well. "It's late, but if you need help, you can go to the hospital only a few miles from here."

As she tried to close the door on the man before her, the Colonel pushed his way inside, though with not a lot of force so as to not frighten her more than he already was, and then spoke again responding, "I wish I could Mrs. Sullivan, but my friends and I don't have a choice. I assure you, we mean you no harm and will leave as soon as our friend is taken care of. He needs your help."

Maggie tried to object, but stopped when she saw two more men carrying another between them, seeing the desperation within all of them as they carefully laid Face, who still remained unconscious, down upon the medical table, then the woman looked back at the leader of the group as she asked, "I don't know what exactly is wrong with your friend, but it looks to me like he needs someone far more qualified than me. Has he been shot?"

"Yes ma'am," Hannibal answered as Maggie walked over to begin examining the younger man more closely. "Among other things."

"Maggie, you can call me Maggie, not ma'am," the doctor replied as she continued.

The man in charge nodded and then responded, "And you can call me Hannibal. My friends with me are Murdock, B.A., and the man you're helping is Face."

As she looked over at the man again, upon realizing that the names he gave were no more than code names, Maggie stated, "You are soldiers in the Army, rangers I'm assuming? My father was an Army ranger."

"As my friends remind me every day, there's a reason in everything, a reason why we've all come together," Hannibal answered sincerely. "Face is in need of your help, Maggie. We can't tell you much, except that the men who have done this are still after us. They used our friend to try to draw the rest of us out too and so far, they've failed, except in hurting him."

"It's obvious that you are very close," the doctor finally spoke again after contemplating the things this man was telling her. "I'm not sure why, but I believe you. You didn't do whatever it is the Army is after you for, did you?"

Murdock replied softly, "No ma'am, I mean, Maggie.

The Captain quickly looked down at Face sadly, then turned back to the woman as he pleaded, "Please tell me that you can help our friend. The four of us have been together for a long time. We can't lose one of us now, not when our lives are on the line."

"I promise you I will do everything I can," she responded gently, then carefully began to remove the bandages around the bullet wound to get a closer look inside it. "It is severely infected. I'm amazed he's even still alive."

"Face is the strongest person I know," Hannibal answered calmly as he took a seat at the unconscious man's side.

B.A quickly stated, "Not physically, but he was always strong in other areas, except lately."

Maggie looked back at the bigger man, then between Hannibal and Murdock as she asked, "What do you mean by that? Has something happened before all this, something… that might prevent him from healing properly?"

"We don't know exactly," the man in charge of their team replied worryingly. "We've all been so busy trying to stay ahead of our enemies that we haven't taken the time to try to get Face to open up about what has been bothering him. There's no excuse, I know, but…"

"Whatever's been troubling him, it's been giving him nightmares," Murdock added quickly. "He won't talk about them."

Upon closer examination, Maggie noticed the reason for the infection and said, "Whoever did this to him, removed the bullet all right, but didn't bother to check for any bullet shards possibly left behind. With a wound such as this, it means that the bullet shattered upon entering his abdomen and the fragments caused sepsis to spread. He is very ill and if I don't remove them right now, he will die."

Hannibal took Face's hand in his own, then responded, "We trust you, Maggie. Do whatever you have to do. Face has always been one hell of a fighter."

Two hours into the operation, Face's hand faintly began to move despite the anesthesia and sedative Maggie had given him before she began. She didn't really notice it at first as she played it off as a trick of her mind, but it wasn't long before she realized that the young man she was trying to save was starting to awaken, even though by all means it was impossible.

"Uh, Hannibal, I think I'm going to need you…!" Maggie called out fearfully as the three other men had left the room momentarily to check on the area around them to make sure they were still safe. "Hannibal! He's waking up!"

"Whe… where… am I?" Face struggled to ask as he slowly opened his eyes and tried to focus on his surroundings, as he suddenly began to grow extremely agitated. "Who… who…?"

Hannibal and the others came running into the room to find Maggie fighting to hold their friend down as his agitation only grew and they swiftly ran over to help her as Hannibal said firmly, "Face! It's alright kid, you're safe now! No one's going to hurt you."

The youngest member of the team shouted, "Get away from me! Get ba… back! I don't… I…"

"It's me, Face," their leader stated softly, trying to get their friend to focus on him as he continued to struggle within their arms. "It's us. We want to help you, you're hurt."

"Liar!" the Lieutenant cried as he suddenly managed to grab hold of the gun that was tucked behind Murdock's back, then broke free as he aimed the weapon at them, causing them all to back up slowly while Hannibal pulled the frightened doctor behind him. "You left me! You betrayed me! You said you'd nev… never betray me; you lied!"

Murdock asked, "What's he talking about, Hannibal?"

B.A. answered gruffly, "He's out of his mind. Hannibal never betrayed him, or any of us."

"That's right," Hannibal continued as he slowly stepped closer in hope of talking their friend down. "Come on, Face. I would rather die than betray you boys. I told you that once before, back when… my God! I think I know what this is about."

"What are you talking about?" Bosco asked in confusion.

Hannibal quickly turned behind him to look at the woman as he asked, "Is it possible that he was drugged?"

Maggie shrugged as she replied, "It's the only explanation for his strength and these delusions he's experiencing. I noticed a small hole in his neck that could be a puncture wound, but put it off until I could…"

"Stop talking!" Face responded angrily, then his eyes softened to pure fear. "I feel like my body's on fire and my head… What's wrong… wrong with me?"

"You've been drugged, and wounded, but we can help you," Hannibal answered sadly. "Please Face, let us help you."

Face struggled as he stared back at the man standing two feet in front of him, still holding the gun at his chest, until Hannibal spoke again calmly and sincerely, "Templeton?"

Finally, Face lowered the weapon as the Colonel reached out and took it from his shaking hands, then their team member collapsed against him as Hannibal pulled him tightly into his arms. Maggie looked upon the two men as she cried silently, tears rolling down her cheeks. B.A. took the gun from their leader while he continued to hold Face until he slowly began to fall unconscious again.

When he was out, the three soldiers helped lay their friend back upon the table and Maggie slowly and carefully got back to work, but before she started in on the bullet wound again, she turned his head slightly to the right in order to get a better look at the small hole she believed could be the puncture wound she had seen, then said again, "I was right. It's definitely a puncture mark from a syringe. The men that did this to him, drugged him with something, although without the proper equipment, there's no way I can figure out what it was. For now, we're just going to have to hope that it leaves his system. If it was poison, he would be long dead, I'm sure of it."

"What did you mean, Hannibal, when you said that you know what that was all about?" B.A asked now that things were calm again.

"Back when we learned that Morrison had betrayed us, Face asked if I could ever betray you boys like he had," Hannibal replied in frustration. "You boys excepted it when I said there was no way that could, but I saw then the look in Face's eyes. He was hurt and angry, but there was also doubt and fear there. I just chose not to see it. It's what's been eating him up inside ever since."

Murdock nodded in understanding and then responded, "Face never did trust easily, but he trusted us to look after him. We failed."

Hannibal stared hard at the man who was his closest friend lying unconscious before him, then finally answered, "You're right. But we're going to make it right and we're going to make Burress and Decker pay for this."

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