(C) 2006

July 15, 2010, approximately 100 miles northwest of Butte, Montana...

Even the trained eye could not detect when Peter slipped from deep sleep into full consciouness. The slow steady breathing, the relaxed posture of his muscles and the peaceful almost innocent expression on his face, all belied the instant alertness. Years of training and practice had developed his senses to heights most people could not even begin to imagine.

As he lay there eyes closed and not moving, he could sense the heartbeat and warmth of the person next to him. He probed outward, first into the converted nursery. The infants, Gabriela and Gabriel, twins, a girl and boy, were sound asleep. He lingered briefly, still in awe of this gift she had given him. Moving quickly he scanned the other rooms of the cabin, finding only the small mouse in the kitchen pantry.

Having completed his surveillance of the interior, his mind reached outside. He knew something had caused the tingling that had aroused him. It had lasted less than one hundreth of a second, but was sufficient to indicate something had entered the valley.

...

Across the other end of the valley, Michael sat beneath a pine tree. He had ceased all movement upon realizing Peter was alert. It had been many years since they had worked together, and Michael was impressed that Peter still had such sharp sensibilites. But then, they all had been trained by Gabe. Each able to seamlessly replace each other, if need be. Unfortunately, need be seemed imminent.


October 6, 1968, 90 miles southwest of Chu Lai, Republic of South Viet Nam...

They were a tight knit squad. Especially trained for deep-cover covert activities. Their personnel files had been buried deeper and classified more secret than even PEO (Presidential Eyes Only). The leader, who was the mentor/trainer almost father-figure to the squad, only answered to one man. And that man was the only person outside the squad who knew of their existence.

He had given them new names. Names meant to reflect their mission and personalities. Peter, Michael, Luke, John, Paul, Matthew and Gabriel, names from the Bible. Names that brought strength and humbleness to them.

None of the men had families back in the states. Although highly educated, none of them had sought to become officers, rather preferring to be enlisted men. And though they shared many characteristics, they definitely were not clones of each other.