Foster attempts to uncover an alien plot to infiltrate the military. - - - "The town will not ring its cracked bell / For the hero has gone astray / The crimson banner lures the one and the many / With each victory so will victory undo". Special Forces Colonel John Russell died suddenly of extreme internal temperatures – literally boiled to death. His first lieutenant, Alex Harkin, disappeared immediately after. Suspected of being a "deep cover" spy, Harkin was due to face inquiry before his hasty exit. Twice-decorated for heroism, Harkin was the winner of the Red Flag, an award given to the best of the best in the military. The crimson banner and the hero gone astray are both mentioned in the Nostradamus quatrain. I wanted to know how the Red Flag and the aliens were connected, so Eddie and I cooked up some triple-A credentials and I became Matin Sloane – super-soldier – one of five contenders for this year's competition. Off the bus, I met a military hard-ass named Major Birch, my tour guide in Camp Pain. Birch told us the Red Flag was a rare-opportunity for the best and brightest to realize their maximum potential. Gave us the competition's specs. 72 hours. Two days of intensive training with individual point scores. Competition on the third. Points and the flag determine the winner. No outside communication and no comings and goings meant no Eddie – I was on my own. And then there were the players. Birch read our stats. Jordan Vincent, demolitions and tactical strategy expert. Joel Langley, West Point, Army Delta. Amy Lopez, law degree, marine recon, no special treatment for the ladies – Birch made that clear. Trevor Payne, list of super-specs and fourth generation Red Flag – could be one to watch. And then there was me – Birch thought my credentials were too good to be true. Disliked me immediately – I felt right at home. Langley immediately emerged as the front-runner – cut throat and vicious – Birch liked him right away. At night I went investigating, lifted my cell phone and picked the lock of a door marked "no entry" – an open invitation to an ex-thief. Found some really old files dating back to 1862 – the Civil War – didn't know what to make of them. Found something worse next – an alien transfer machine. And the uniformed husk of Alex Harkin. Called Eddie in the morning. Told him the Gua were definitely here. We figured the aliens had transferred the Harkin consciousness from that husk to another Red Flag-er. Eddie was checking out Birch and his lackey, Sergeant Plimption, as well as the rest of the Red Flag wannabes. Couldn't make the connection yet. Harkin, the Red Flag, the Civil War – the aliens were there but I didn't know why. Eddie wanted me to get out but I couldn't leave yet. I needed to know who the aliens were, and how much they controlled. The aliens were infiltrating the military, but so was I. This year, the race for the Red Flag is a race against the Gua. Time for me to be all I could be.moreless
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