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She Comes with the Dawn

Hans Dietrich stood in the center of his command tent reading the communique from High Command. His orders had arrived for the refueling station. He read, "With this refueling station, we can refuel our jeeps and tanks for long range desert reconnaissance."

Dietrich smirked. There was always something new: some new way defeat the Allies, some new weapon. The war had become tedious. He was ready for it to be over and done with and for him to return to civilian life.

He called in one of his men. "Put these under lock and key and have them guarded." He ordered. The man complied. Dietrich went back to his desk and poured a drink.


Tully Pettigrew had been recuperating at an area hospital unit. He had told them that it was nothing, but they had not listened. He had been on a two week leave. While he was recouping, the other three men in his unit had been sent on another mission.

"I'm ready to go back, sir." He told Captain Boggs. Boggs looked him over. He did seem to be in good shape.

"Very well, private, I have a special mission for you. Gerry has some plans for a new refueling station that we want to get our hands on. I'm sending you with one of my men to retrieve those plans."

Tully looked over the map and the plan and shook his head.

"With all due respect, sir, I think that I can do a better job alone. As my grandmother said, "Too many cooks spoil the dish'."

Boggs chuckled. He had heard about this good natured man and his quaint colloquialism.

"Alright, private, we'll do it your way. Here are your orders. Good luck." Boggs saluted and Tully returned the salute and left. ************************************************************************

Dietrich and his men had moved their operations to what could only be described as an abandoned castle. It was Moroccan in architecture and may once had belonged to a long dead Moorish king. There were rumors that Allied Forces were tracking their movements and the High Command felt that the plans would be safer in this fortress.

There was no doubt to Dietrich that his old enemy, Troy and his team, would attempt to take the information. He would be ready for them.


As Tully drove into the little town that stood at the foot of the hill where the fortress stood, he contemplated the mission to come. this would be a challenge for him. He loved a challenge.

He parked the jeep behind the wall and covered it with the camouflaging tarp. The streets of the village were deserted which was expected. He crept through the quiet streets watching carefully for any German guards. He didn't know if seeing no guards was a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe they were saving all of their guards for the fortress.

When Tully made his way up the hill, he had to be especially careful because he would be out in the open. He could see the guards on the wall, so he stopped every few feet or so to drop flat hoping that he had not been spotted.

When he finally reached the wall, he was convinced that he hadn't been seen. The reconn guys had mapped out where the heaviest concentration of guards was located. Tully made his way along the wall to the back of the structure. Along the back of the wall were only two guards. Tully looked straight up and could see the guard walk past. He was heading to the far end of the structure. Tully still could not be sure that he wasn't being see. He had to be careful. Once he was sure that the soldier was out of hearing range, he threw the grappling hook over the wall. The clanking sound was so loud, he thought for sure that the soldier had heard it. He braced himself against the wall and prepared to run at the slightest alarm. There was none.

He climbed the wall making sure that he hung close to the wall. He wanted to time it perfectly. He could see the guard returning and just remained stationary. He took a deep breath and waited for the guard to arrive at exactly the right spot.

The guard was startled as a figure flew from the darkness and his world went dark before he could even realize it. Tully froze and listened for the other guard. He could hear the distinct click of the guard's boots on the brick. He was nearby, but Tully could not see him. He must be around the corner, he thought.

Tully crept along the wall until he reached the corner. He listened carefully. The clicking sound was further away, so Tully figured that the guard was at the other end of the wall. He waited and the clicking grew louder as the guard was getting closer to Tully's position. He readied himself to strike. At just the right moment, he sprang around the corner and rendered him unconscious.

Tully had memorized the layout of the building. From the roof where he was, Tully headed to a staircase that led down into the heart of the structure. From this point on, he didn't know exactly where there would be guards, so he had to be on his toes. He went through a narrow hallway and stopped as the hallway turned sharply to the left. When he peeked quickly around the corner, he saw two guards standing in front of the door.

Tully pulled back around the corner and sank against the wall. Taking out two guards without drawing attention was going to be tricky. He took the gas canister from his pack, pulled the pin and rolled it into the small nook. Putting on the gas mask, he went in to find the two guards on the floor.

Tully hurried into the room, grabbed what he needed and ran from the room. It was only a matter of time before someone noticed the guards missing from their posts. He hurried up the stairs and back to the rope that was hanging from the wall.

Just then, several soldiers burst from the stairway that he had just come from. Tully practically threw himself over the wall. He knew that he had to get across the big open area that was coming up. By this time, the guards were lining the wall and shooting. Tully ran in a zigzag pattern across the open area. He hoped and prayed that the village was still free of German soldiers.

As he reached the outskirts of the village a bullet ripped into his leg.

"Damn!" He cursed as he dragged the leg through the town. He knew that by now the soldiers were on their way across the open area. It seemed that it took years for him to reach the jeep. He tossed off the tarp and started up the vehicle. He pulled out of the village just as the soldiers were pulling in.

By now the effect of the gunshot was taking its toll. He felt feverish from the loss of blood. He had serious doubts that he would make it to the rendezvous.


"You fools! You just let him walk in here and take it?" Dietrich was furious. They were in the village now and knew that the man had escaped in a jeep. Unfortunately, they couldn't follow his trail until morning.

"At first light I want you on that man's trail. Do you understand?" They saluted. Dietrich hated losing especially to Troy and his men. He had no doubt that that's who was behind all of this.


Tully drove through the cool desert night. He was barely remaining conscious as the jeep swerved uncontrollably. He tried to will himself to stay awake and take the wheel, but he couldn't make his hands cooperate. Unbeknownst to Tully, there was a huge rock formation looming in the darkness. The jeep hit the rocks and flipped throwing Tully out into the night and sinking him into a world of darkness.


When Troy returned from their mission, they looked forward to seeing Tully. It was not the same with him not there. They were disappointed, however, to find that he was not at the hospital when they arrived.

"He was sent on a special mission, Sargent. But, I'm a little worried. He was supposed to return last night and he isn't back yet." Troy's jaw clenched as he surmised this new situation. He knew what they must do.

"Move out." He called to the other two men as they went off in search of Tully. ************************************************************************

The first thing that Tully remembered was the warmth. He had felt the warmth from the fever, but this was external warmth. The first attempt at opening his eyes was a painful one. Eventually, he was able to cautiously open his eyes. The first thing that he saw was the huge fireplace. This was the source of the heat. His eyes scanned everything that was within his field of vision. He seemed to be in a hut. Someone had found him and taken him to a hut.

The next thing that he saw was the girl. She was wrapped from head to foot in a rough, white cloth. He could just see her eyes which were dark brown in color.

She spoke to him. He couldn't understand her language, but she held a bowl and spoon. Tully inferred that she was wanting him to eat. He took the broth into his mouth and swallowed. The broth was good, so he asked for more. She smiled and was pleased that he liked the broth. He continued to eat, but soon tired. The girl recognized this, and put the bowl down. She eased them back down onto the pallet. He was so tired. All he wanted to do was rest. She pulled the covers up to his chin and said, " Rest now, "

Khamilah looked at the strange man lying on the floor of her hut. She could tell that he was a soldier, but not an enemy soldier. She had been a widow for two years now and it had been that long since there had been a man in her hut. It felt good for her to be cooking for someone else again.

She watched him as he slept. He had a rugged face. She smiled as she thought that he looked like a soldier.

"May Allah protect you through the night." She whispered as she turned down the lamp.


With the morning light, two groups of soldiers sent out on a search. Troy and his men started from the rendezvous point and worked their way back to the village. Dietrich's men started at the village and followed the jeep tracks.

Hitch stopped the jeep at the wreck of another, identical jeep. The three men jumped out to search the wreckage.

"There's blood. . ." Moffitt announced to everyone. they each had feared this, but no one would voice his suspicions. Troy looked around in every direction.

"If he were wounded bad enough to wreck the jeep, he wouldn't have been able to walk away from here." They looked around for footprints. Hitch called them all over to what he had found.

"Someone picked him up with a camel. Looks like they built a travois and carried him. Let's go."

The three men jumped into the jeep and followed the newly discovered tracks.


When Dietrich and his men reached the area that Troy and his men had abandoned just hours before, they found a jumble of tracks.

"There's someone else looking for him. I should have guessed." One of Dietrich's men looked at the tracks more closely.

"Someone else has reached him before they did. These are camel tracks. The jeep tracks came later. They both go off in that direction." Dietrich and his soldiers mounted their jeeps and headed in that direction.

That evening, the desert winds blew. It was not a full blown desert storm, but it was enough to wipe out the tracks that Troy and Dietrich's men were following.

"What do we do now, Sarge?" Hitch asked innocently. There were a lot of small villages around that area, so there was no telling which one of the villages Tully had been taken to.

"We do the only thing that we can do. We go until we hit the first village." That proved to satisfy the young private. They moved out.


The next morning, Khamilah was busy cleaning out Tully's wound. He had been in and out of delirium for three days. after she had finished cleaning, she applied some salve to the wound before dressing it with clean cloth. She then helped Tully to lie down again as she had done the night before. She went over to the table that was in the middle of the room and picked up the bowl. She brought it over to him and began feeding him as she had done the night before. This time it was a kind of mush like oatmeal that had been sweetened with some sort of berries. It was very good and he was ravenous. After he had eaten the entire bowl of mush, she gave him drink of water from an animal skin. Again he was tired after his meal and lay down to rest. She made him comfortable the best she could. She had put an herb in the water that had a sedative-like affect to help Tully sleep. She wiped the sweat from his brow. He had such a nice face.

Just before he fell asleep, Tully looked up into her eyes. She was beautiful. She had forgotten to cover her face which was dark with high cheek bones and beautiful eyes. She was what had been described as a Nubian. He thought about the reaction back home if some of his friends had seen him. He smiled just before drifting off.

That evening, they repeated the same ritual. When Khamilah thought that Tully was asleep she went to draw water from the well and brought it in to heat over the fire. Once the water was warm, she brought the bucket over and dumped it into the tub. She slowly undressed, and lowered herself into the tub of warm water. She bathed, all the while thinking that Tully was asleep.

Tully, who had been drifting for some time now, could barely make out Khamilah's form as she undressed. Tully swallowed hard. He was no innocent. He had entertained a few women in his time, but never had he played audience to such a sight. Her body was just as beautiful as her face.

"Holy Toledo," he whispered before slipping into oblivion.


Things were not going well for Dietrich. The wind storm from the night before had erased any possible way of tracking Troy's man. Dietrich took out his map. There were three villages in the direction in which they had been traveling. He was now consulting with his seconds-in-command.

"We will split. You will go here. You will go here, and I will go here." The men made ready to move out. He was not happy with the turn of events. He was hoping that he would be there to face Troy who he knew was also tracking his man. The way things were, however, there was only a 1 in 3 chance that he would be there to confront Troy.


The next morning, Khamilah brought water for Tully to wash. She stole shy glances at him as he did this. He could feel her watching him; he liked it.

Even though Tully was feeling much stronger, Khamilah insisted on feeding him. As she did, the tension was thick enough to cut. It was obvious to both of them, that they were attracted to one another. As she fed him, their eyes met and Tully felt a quickening in his pulse that was not caused by his loss of blood.

When Khamilah saw the way he looked at her, she shyly lowered her eyes. It was not appropriate for a female to look so boldly at a man. For the moment, the porridge was forgotten. Tully touched her face with his hand and stroked her cheek. This time, it was Khamilah's pulse that quickened. She said something in her language that looked like a protest. He was not about to force himself on this woman. But, as quickly as she protested, she returned her gaze. This time she took the initiative by kissing him shyly on the lips. He felt the emotion of the moment rip through him. He looked at her once more as if to save himself from the depths that he was falling into. he couldn't believe that this was happening to him. At first he thought that he must still be lying in the desert unconscious or may he had died and gone to heaven. Whichever it was, he was thoroughly enjoying this moment.

At just that moment, the door to her hut was kicked in and several men from the village stood in the doorway. Tully could imagine how the scene looked to these men. Here was a young girl kissing an American soldier whose chest was bare. Things did not look good for her.

The men were speaking excitedly to the girl. In fact, they were yelling. She looked frightened and Tully couldn't help himself. He put his arm around her shoulders. This action seemed to anger the men even more. Some of the words Tully was able to pick up. It seems that they thought that she was a woman of ill-repute. She tried to explain that Tully was simply injured and she had brought him back to tend to his injuries, but this did not seem to matter to them. They were ready to take her out and stone her.

 Tully could not stand by and watch that happen.  At just that moment,  there was a great commotion outside the hut.  The men rushed out to see what was the matter.
    Tully managed to get to his feet and him and Khamilah went outside to see what the commotion was all about.  Once outside,  they saw several men on horseback and realized that they were bandits.  These bandits were common in the desert.  They were oblivious to the current war that was going on and weren't on any side.  They were simply out for themselves as they went from village to village taking whatever they could find.
     The man that Tully assumed was the leader got down from his horse and approached Khamilah.  It was obvious that they had dealings with one another before.  The man grabbed her arm and was leering.  Tully knew that it was not the smartest thing that he had ever done,  but he shoved the man and stood in front of Khamilah.
    Khamilah couldn't believe her eyes.  She couldn't believe that Tully would risk his life for her.  Jambul,  the leader of the bandits, wanted to marry Khamilah.  He could have just taken her,  but his pride wanted her to come to him willing.  What Tully had done was to say that he wanted her for a wife. Although,  she was sure that he didn't realize it.
      Jambul quickly scanned Tully.  He uttered some sort of insult and the called to his men to leave.  There was no doubt in Tully's mind that the man would be back.
      That night after Khamilah had cleaned and changed Tully's bandage,  and after she had fed him, she tucked him in for the night.  At this point,  Tully felt more like the woman's child than a lover.  He planned on changing that.
     Tonight when Khamilah took her bath,  she didn't see Tully come up behind her.  However,  she didn't jump or flinch when he placed a hand on her shoulder.  This led Tully to believe that she actually did know that he was awake.
    She turned to face him.  He could now look upon her beauty in a more direct way.  She liked the way he looked at her.  Tully's mind was spinning.  On the one hand,  he knew that this was not something that he should be doing and he felt bad about it.  On the other hand,  he seemed not to be able to help himself.
    He took her face into his hands and kissed her passionately.  His hands seemed to be everywhere at once.  He picked her up and carried her over to the pallet on the floor.  He looked again at her face.  Her face looked beautiful in the fire light.  
    Of course,  he couldn't ask her permission in her language,  but their eyes seemed to be communicating with one another well enough.
As if to answer his question,  she kissed him.  They made love passionately in front of the fire.
    As Troy and his men approached the small village that was identical to the other two villages,  they approached with caution.  They were convinced that Dietrich was looking for Tully as well,  but they were ahead of him.  The villagers seemed to be used to seeing soldiers which could prove to be very helpful in finding Tully.
    They walked through the village allowing the villagers to become comfortable with their presence.  Once they were assured that the villagers sensed no threat from them,  Moffitt began to question them.  In their language he asked if they had seen a white soldier who might have been wounded.  The first few people had seen no such man,  but by the fifth time that he asked,  he received a positive response.
    "I have seen such as a soldier."  The old man related to him.
    "He is staying with the widow,  Khamilah.  What a disgrace."  They exchanged glances.  Leave it to Tully to shake things up a bit.  Troy smiled as he sensed that they were getting close to getting Tully back.  Moffitt asked the man to direct them to the widow Khamilah's hut.  The man did so gladly wishing that the white soldier would leave.  He was convinced that this sin had angered Allah.
     When Troy and the others arrived at the hut, they saw a beautiful woman outside washing clothes - they were Tully's clothes.
    When she saw them approach,  she knew that they were here for her beloved Tooley.  Even though she knew that this moment would come,  she did not want to see her time with Tooley coming to an end.
    "We are here in search of a white soldier.  We were told that you have been taking care of him."  She said nothing as she led them into the hut.  Tully was asleep on the pallet.  The events of the night before had tired him somewhat and drained him of gained strength.
     Troy could see that the woman had developed feelings for Tully by the way she turned her head to hide the tears that he was sure were there.  Hitch was rousing Tully from sleep.  They  all could see the look of disappointment on his face when he discovered that he was being awakened by Hitch and not Khamilah.
    Just then, there was a commotion outside.  Khamilah and Tully knew what it was.  Troy and the others were in the dark.
    "Khamilah,  I am here for your answer."  Jambul called from outside.
    "Do you take me or that stinking dog of a soldier?"  Moffitt translated for the rest of the guys and they each looked at Tully.
    "Just what have you been up to since you've been here, Private?"  Hitch had a big grin on his face.  Was it their imaginations,  or was Tully blushing?
    Khamilah looked frightened.  She knew that there was no way that she could keep Tully,  but at the same time,  she didn't want to be Jambul's wife.  She spoke these words frantically to Moffitt who translated to Jambul.  He was not pleased.  He shouted orders to his men and before Moffitt could translate, Jambul's men pulled out their weapons.  Jambul took Khamilah.
    Tully made a move to get her back,  but Troy grabbed his arm.
    "You're not just going to let him take her, are you?"
    "We don't have a choice at the moment, Private.  Besides,  we have our orders.  We need to get that information back to headquarters."   Tully started to protest,  but was cut off.
     "That's an order, Private."
     He didn't know what to do.  He was torn between his feelings for Khamilah and his duty.  He knew that he would have to follow orders,  but he wasn't giving up hope on Khamilah.
     "Sir, the Krauts are on the way."  Hitch informed them.  They all knew that they were after the information that they possessed.  They mounted the jeeps quickly and roared out.  Dietrich just missed them.
    After Troy and his men delivered the information to headquarters,  they headed back to look for Khamilah.  Tully didn't want to think about what Jambul had done to Khamilah.  But,  he was also unsure of her feelings for him.  Maybe she had decided to go and be Jambul's wife.  He was being selfish, though,  he wasn't willing to marry her, was he?
     When they arrived back at the village,  Moffitt asked one of the villagers where Jambul's camp was located.  The villager was more than happy to cooperate.  Khamilah was well-loved in the village by some and those people were eager for her return.
      The team camped outside of the village for the night trying to see what would be their best method of attack.  Hitch and Tully sat around the fire that they had kept carefully hidden.
     "So, are you ever going to tell us what actually happened?"  Tully looked as if he were remembering the last few days.  A smile slowly spread across his face.
      "You're not going to tell me, are you?"  Tully continued to smile.
     "Let's just say that she's a very special lady."  Hitch looked disappointed.
    When dawn broke the next morning,  the team was already lurking through the camp looking for Khamilah's tent.   Tully looked into the tent that was before him and saw what he wanted.
    "Khamilah!" He whispered.  She turned and her face lit up when she saw Tully.
     "Tooley"  She whispered back.
      She was tied up, hands and feet.  Tully quickly untied her and they proceeded out of the tent.  Jambul returned just in time to see Tully and the girl disappearing out the back of the tent.
       As they ran to the jeeps,  Jambul sounded the alarm and the whole camp sprang to life in that instant.
      "Let's hit it!"  Troy shouted as they headed for the jeeps.  Jambul's men were firing as they made their escape and the team returned fire.  Jambul was hit in the foray.
    When they arrived back at Khamilah's village, Troy and the others gave Tully the time and space needed for his goodbye.  Moffitt had prepped him on some well chosen words for the farewell.
     "Khamilah,  I care for you a great deal."  He began.  He had to admit,  these words did sound a bit more like Moffitt than Tully.  Khamilah giggled sweetly into her hand.  Tully blushed slightly and wondered whether he should press on with the rest of his speech.  Of course,  he did.
    "I can't promise that I'll return,  but I'd like to.  As I said,  I can't promise anything . . . "  Khamilah stopped him by taking him into her arms and kissing him soundly.  With the practiced speech forgotten,  he returned the kiss earnestly.
    "Step it up, Private.  We have company."  Dietrich, who had been put out by not finding the information in time,  had decided to return in hopes of finding Troy and his men there.
    Tully continued kissing her as if he hadn't heard a word that was spoken to him.
     "Private!"  Tully reluctantly broke away from Khamilah and jumped into the jeep.  He took one last look at Khamilah as he revved up the jeep and sped off into the desert sun.  She was one lady that he would not soon forget.  He'd be back,  oh yes,  he'd be back.

              The Breaking of the Dawn
   (Written by Fernando Ortego and Elaine Rubenstein)

There's a slow train
pulling through the desert
The colored cars pass quietly from sight
Between the highway and the long horizon
Precious dreams wind away with the light

My brother's and sister's faces linger
The hours of our childhood, grave and gold
Driving through these solitary places
Memories of their gentle kinship
touch my soul

The hawk wheels away as we pass here
The clouds billow up and fly on
Down the road some hard turns
are going to shake us
Ride with us
through the breaking of the dawn

How I long to be right there beside her
And bring everything back to before
We'll arrive with the first light of morning
Keep her safe,  let me hold her once more

The sage and the Joshua tree remind me
Of the miles to go
the journey that we're on
in the still, sweet air of the desert
We will ride
through the breaking of the dawn