From his driver’s seat Adkins signaled with a red light to the waiting convoy of vehicles behind him. The staff sergeant and the young corporal opened the gates, allowing Adkins to enter. After passing the barbed wire gate, he pulled over alongside the fence then hopped out of the vehicle.
Deacon tediously followed and both men held up red-coned flashlights, marking the way for the others. After the waiting vans, trucks, and cars entered, parked, and the dust cleared they gathered around Deacon and Adkins. The group, toting gas lamps and large battery pack flashlights, was remarkably similar to the previous assemblage who guarded Number Seventeen before their arrival. They appeared committed to their tasks yet casual and un-regimented despite their military uniforms.
Deacon studied the group. They were not hardened mercenaries. On the contrary, some faces were soft and without color from lives spent in offices; while other weathered faces belonged to athletic types used to jogging through upper middle class neighborhoods trying to toughen aging muscles into submission. A few others had given up the battle and were thickening into middle age. Some were of young faces that had lost their innocence.
Ten years earlier no one, not even Deacon would guess that such a disparate mixture could come to common ground with so dangerous a mission and one that could be kept secret for so long.
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