At 0500 the camps were aroused and began their final preparations to move out. Along the border this process was done as discreetly as possible to prevent the Verecundans figuring out what was going on. This was helped by the early morning fog, which blanketed many parts of the country.
In Aloxa city, it was more the usual reveille. They had set up a small platform on the square across the main road from the palace gate; on it were Queen Arlene, Terry, and the commanders. The commander of the entire Army Group North, Noel Saxton, took the bullhorn first and said, “I have asked the Royal Counsellor of the Drahlan Kingdom, the Reverend Terry Marlowe, to offer a brief prayer before we go into battle.”
At his announcement, most of the men in the square and in the palace yard knelt. This moved Terry; she had done this many times during the war of independence, but never had she seen the majority of an army kneel before God. She took the bullhorn in one hand, raised the other to heaven and began her prayer:
“Father, we come to you today in the most grave of circumstances. The gift that we hold most dear from you—our life itself—is today in the balance, as we begin this mission we embark on today. Those who are here today, and our comrades in arms further to the south, are going into the greatest conflict our Island has ever known—a conflict that pits them against an enemy whose desire is to spread darkness into every corner of this land.
“We ask today that you keep everyone here safe, and be a shield about all of us, that we will know your power, and that we will be victorious in you and only in you. Most importantly that we will know your presence in our lives in a way we have never known it before. No matter where we are with you, we ask that you take each and every one of us to new heights with you, especially those who do not know you. We ask all of these things in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who made eternal life possible through his work on the Cross, Amen.”
Throughout the prayer, Queen Arlene was raising her hands and praying with Terry—the first time any Aloxan monarch had publicly acknowledged that he or she was a Christian. Many of the troops joined in with concert prayer; the unified voice moved even the shamans who watched. The concert prayer in fact extended a little beyond Terry’s closing, and she joined in it. Finally she returned the bullhorn to Saxton, who barked, “Move out!”
That command was echoed all the way down the line, from Aloxa city to the border. Soon the entire army was on the move; however, the forces from the Henley’s Bight regiment had the task of spearheading the drive and taking the first objective: the border checkpoint, with its detachment from the Uranus National Guard. Realising the entire success of the campaign hung on getting through this obstacle in a hurry, the Palace Guard itself went in with the men from Henley’s Bight to take the post. The two units were to surround it and had orders to wipe it out. Given the usual Verecundan primal fear about the Aloxans, the latter had no illusions about the potential difficulty of their task.
The Aloxans’ deception that their manoeuvres were yet another drill was effective: the Verecundan customs agents and their Uranan colleagues were completely taken by surprise. About 0700 they attacked from all sides at once; their biggest problem was to keep from killing themselves with friendly fire. The Aloxans’ skill with hand grenades made its mark in a hurry, as the ammo dump and motor pool’s destruction added to the enemy’s problems all the more. Within about fifteen minutes the post was gone, with no survivors and very few Aloxan casualties.
With this task out of the way, the Royal Caravan was the first to come up and inspect the carnage. The men who had taken the post were justifiably proud of their achievement; so was Leslie, as were George and Darlene. But it was premature to rest on their laurels, so the caravan stepped aside for a bit to allow several regiments to pass so that the caravan would be in the middle of the army.
Once in Uranus, the roads improved; this enabled the army, which was following the main highway to Uranus city, to speed up its progress even from what it was doing in its home country. Also, the wooded greenway of Aloxa gave way to more open country, first scrub and then the farmland for which Uranus was famous. Most of the Aloxans stuck to the road, but they detached small parties on both sides of the road and in front of the army to run reconnaissance, to patrol the canal that paralleled the road on the right, or just to get some food out of the fields.
They soon reached the crossroads with the so called “Back Road,” but the army kept going forward; as Leslie explained to his guests, “We’ll let the forces from the north make the right turn here.” They had received word that those forces were just about to hit the border, so they knew everything was going according to plan.
Terry was with Noel Saxton and the North Army Group. Except for the advance, logistical and command units, the entire group was on foot, so Saxton and Terry went on foot and let the vehicles carry the stuff they needed to operate the command. It was a pleasant day to be out walking, especially good for the mission they were carrying out.
“I hope you won’t hold our lack of mechanisation against us,” Noel said to Terry.
“How can I—we weren’t any better off in our conflict with the Serelians.”
“Really? I’m surprised.”
“The best we could do is the ‘swamp fleet’ of canoes and boats when Max invaded Serelia and fought near the Princess Darlene’s family estate.”
“I’m sure Her Highness appreciated that,” Noel said with a laugh.
“Her brother didn’t—that’s one reason why he spent the rest of this life trying to destroy us. But…that was another war. We fought it mostly on foot.”
“That’s what bothers me about this one.”
“Are any of the southern units more mechanised than this one.”
“Not really—but the Verecundans are. I’m fearful how a battle will go with them, even though we outnumber them, if our intelligence estimates are correct.”
“How much resistance do you think we will see?”
“Us? It’s hard to say. The rest of the army—plenty. They won’t sit around and let them cruise through Uranus town without a fight.”
They reached the border post and were shown the results of the morning’s combat. This lifted everyone’s morale, but they pressed onward to the crossroads, making the right turn to Jersey Heights.
About 0930 the main body of the army started to cross the north bridge over the Central Canal and into Uranus town proper. The news had evidently come of the Aloxans’ arrival, as the western part of town was pretty much deserted. The National Guard was not in evidence here; the only resistance they encountered on this first entry was a few snipers from the Inland Police, which were more of a nuisance than a hindrance.
At this point the first units that crossed the bridge were to go through town and cross the Snapper Canal at the lock and floodgate down from the bridge. They were to form the left flank of the Aloxan army as it advanced towards Verecunda. The main body of the army—except for a few units that were to guard against intrusions from the north—were to cross the main bridge to the south and meet the Verecundans on the other side. Leslie, George, Darlene and the General Staff went to the tallest building in town—the Uranan National Administration Building—to head up to the roof and watch the action unfold before them.
When they got to the roof, what they saw unfold in front of them wasn’t the most inspiring. To start with, the left flank got tangled up in the refugees heading to Snapper Beach, which slowed their advance through the eastern part of Uranus. The Inland Police had thoughtfully cleared the south bridge to insure the same thing wouldn’t happen to the Verecundan army advancing northward; they could see the dead civilians lying on the north approach to the bridge as evidence the IP’s had done their job well. Worst of all, they could see the Verecundan army come up from the south, the mechanised portion first with the infantry following, speeding up towards Uranus and battle.
The Aloxans made short work of the IP’s at the south bridge, but they laboured to get themselves across the north bridge and into battle positions against the Verecundans. They now were faced with the proposition of having to fight the enemy with their backs against the canal; moreover, they not only had a canal against their rear, they had one against the right flank also, choking another retreat path if they needed it.
The messages from the front were becoming frantic; everyone on the roof was getting pretty nervous, too. The General Staff was deliberating as to what to do, when they handed Leslie the radio. On the other end was the commander of the Aloxa City regiment, which was the main unit now facing the Verecundans on the south side of the canal. Leslie and the Staff listened as the commander gave his plan. Most of the Staff was nodding ‘no,’ but Leslie looked at them and said, “Do you have a better idea?” They nodded no to that too, so Leslie told the commander to proceed and the Staff to make it work with the rest of the army.
The first response of those on the roof to the plan was to get off of the roof, get back in their vehicles and go back across the west bridge and set up a command post there. The Aloxans then began to withdraw the Aloxa City regiment over the south bridge and into town. The rest of the units in town—except those still working on getting to the floodgate—also withdrew; many formed a ring around the city centre.
The Verecundans arrived at the south approach to the bridge to find it deserted, so they sent their armoured vehicles—a mixture of tanks and armoured personnel carriers—into town. They soon engaged the Aloxans, who were hiding in virtually every building. In addition to their AK-47’s, the Aloxans went after the armoured vehicles with a combination of RPG’s, artillery (they had set up these in the ring they had made,) and occasionally an Aloxan soldier chucking a grenade or Molotov cocktail into one of the tanks. The fighting was fierce, but the Aloxans’ bravery, professionalism and numbers eventually turned the streets of Uranus into a gallery of burning vehicles and charred flesh. Those that tried to escape were shot on sight; the Aloxans had no tradition of taking prisoners.
The one element the Aloxans didn’t have to deal with in town was the Verecundan infantry that came up from behind. For one thing, the Aloxan left flank finally managed to get across the locks and floodgate and were attacking these forces from the side. But as the Verecundan infantry advanced, they got the reports—and saw the smoke plumes—from town, and their stomach to plough into the trap left them.
But their day was not over yet—victorious in town, the Aloxans made another dash for the north bridge and once again took it. Forces poured over the bridge to engage the Verecundan infantry. Without armour or air support (the air force was grounded for lack of aviation fuel) their response was a mixture of fight and flee. The Aloxans made the most of both, inflicting heavy casualties on the fighting and finishing off the wounded as they went.
When the town was finally secured, Leslie and his entourage went in to survey the situation. It was not a pleasant sight; the smell of death was everywhere, mostly Verecundan, but estimates of Aloxan casualties ran around 200. Leslie was visibly shaken at the sight of his dead soldiers. The army was quick to set up the hospital, impressing whatever local staff was there to help. Leslie also ordered a moratorium on killing Verecundan wounded and prisoners, but this was mostly to placate the hospital staff.
Having taken its right turn, Army Group North went on to Jersey Heights. A small town, at one time it was a border town between Uranus and Collina, but this ended when Collina was annexed. Saxton’s uncertainty about the stiffness of the resistance was removed when they encountered a unit of the Inland Police on the north edge of town. The IP’s, using the town buildings for cover, opened up on the Aloxans for a fierce battle, forcing everyone—including Noel and Terry—to take cover wherever they could. Saxton, however, could afford to be patient; he ordered his troops along the road to hold back while those still in the rear to flank the town and surround the IP’s. With little cover in the farmland, it was difficult to conceal their movements, and so all of the fronts were subject to fire. It took longer than the Aloxans would have liked, but they finally got in position, having surrounded the IP’s on three sides. They were prepared to attack and slug it out, since the IP’s had the advantage of cover and could have held out for some time; however, without warning the IP’s attacked. This ended their cover; the biggest problem the Aloxans had was keeping casualties from friendly fire down. The IP’s were eventually wiped out and the Aloxans entered Jersey Heights.
Saxton used the opportunity to set up his command post in the centre of town, make sure his troops were still properly organised, get the main body of forces moving southeast, and set up provisions for his wounded. As he was doing this, they looked toward the road to Collina and saw a lone Jeep coming at them. Saxton peered through his binoculars to see who it might be; his subordinates were nervous.
“Collinans,” he said. “Let’s have a talk with them.” He made sure the Aloxan flag was up. The Jeep—with its Collinan ones—pulled up to meet them. The ranking officer got out of the back; it was Steve Morgan, adjutant to the commander of the North Collinan Army.
“It’s good to see you gentlemen here,” Morgan said. “Looks like you’re in good company,” he said, pointing to Terry.
“Very good company,” Saxton replied.
“You’ve had a good fight, haven’t you?”
“Worse than I anticipated, but we prevailed.”
“I’ll bet it’s the Sacred Band.”
“The what?” Saxton asked, astonished.
“The formal name for the unit is the Collinan Special Security Unit,” Terry said, “but my brother dubbed it the ‘Sacred Band’ in a special commendation ceremony. They’ve liked to be called that ever since.”
“I thought nothing was sacred in Verecunda,” Saxton noted.
“Depends upon which god you’re worshipping,” Terry dryly noted.
“That’s why the road is clear,” Morgan said.
“So have you taken Collina town yet?” Saxton asked.
“We’ve still got to clean it up, but we’re close.”
“Where’s Andy Dell?” Terry asked.
“He’s probably taking Point Collina now,” Morgan answered. “The Ministry of the Environment was about to come unglued at him about you, your timing is tight.”
“Point Collina? That’s Verecundan territory,” Saxton noted.
“Since they undid one part of the land trade, I guess it’s time we undid the other,” Morgan replied. “We have a long day ahead of us; time to get on with it. We’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”
“It certainly is,” Saxton replied, and with that they saluted each other and the Collinans returned on the road they came on.
The Aloxans, however, did not have time for more small talk; Saxton and his staff, along with Terry, took their Jeeps and went southeast to meet up with the advancing Aloxan forces. As they pulled out of town, the radio chatter from Uranus indicated that the Verecundan assault on the town was collapsing. Saxton decided to make a dash for the crossroads; he took every vehicle attached to the command unit, raced ahead of the forces advancing on foot, picked up additional soldiers as the vehicles could hold them, advanced to the front of the column where the advance mechanised unit was, and went on ahead to the crossroads. They reached the junctions to find it deserted.
They pulled off of the road and the infantry assumed position facing northeast. They could hear the battle off in the distance, and see smoke coming from the direction of Uranus town.
“It’s a strange feeling here,” Saxton noted to Terry.
“We’re the only thing standing between the Verecundan Army and home—if our colleagues haven’t done as thorough job as we would like, we’re in trouble,” Terry observed.
“Serious trouble—the infantry from Jersey Heights will be some time in arrival.” A few minutes later, they saw in the distance a few Jeeps coming down the road. Saxton ordered his men to be ready to fire. As he peered at them through his binoculars, he saw what he was looking for.
“White flags are up,” Saxton said. “They’re giving up.”
“Make sure they’re serious—don’t let your guard down until they can’t hurt you.” They approached and stopped about twenty metres in front of the infantry, and came out of the Jeeps with their hands up. As they got closer, the Aloxans realised that they were looking at what was left of the field command of the Verecundan army.
Saxton ordered that a temporary POW camp be set up at the side of the road and the Verecundans were herded into the spot he had designated. Knowing the Aloxans’ traditions, all of the Verecundans had a look of terror on their faces as they faced their captors. The women had additional anxieties, as they were not sure of the Aloxans’ intermediate steps on the road to execution. The commanding general looked at Terry and recognised her.”
“Didn’t you go to the university here with me?” he asked.
“I did,” Terry said. “I remember you. I grew up here.”
“So how did you get to work for the Aloxans?”
“I don’t—I am the Royal Counsellor to the King of Drahla.”
“Didn’t you people just win a war against the Serelians?”
“We did—but you can ask them yourself in a few minutes.”
The commanders were only the first Verecundans to come out of the battle; a steady stream of survivors came down the road, only to swell the Aloxan camp. Fortunately for the Aloxans the North Army Group infantry showed up at about the same time to reinforce their colleagues.
In a little while the main body of the Aloxan army came down the road. When they reached the crossroads, they stopped, as much to rest as they did under orders. They had to clear the way, however, for the Royal Caravan, which pulled up to the improvised POW camp. King Leslie, with his generals, George and Darlene in tow, went down to inspect his human prizes. He stood silent for a long time, breaking his silence from time to time in asking questions about and of the prisoners.
“Should we proceed to execute them?” one of his generals asked.
“I would think twice about that before I did, Your Majesty,” Terry warned Leslie. “You’re going to need all of the friends you can find from here on out. These people aren’t the problem—they’re as much victims of this regime as anyone.”
The Aloxans that heard this statement gasped; not only was the logic novel, but they feared their king’s reaction. Leslie was unflappable; he said, “She’s right—a practical argument for a moral position. Take the commanding officers with us, and march the rest back to Uranus—we’ll settle things later.” He turned to Saxton and said, “It’s your turn to be in the forward position—proceed according to plan. We’ll be right behind you.”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” Saxton replied. He started to turn to order his troops to move out.
“By the way”—the king said. Saxton stopped and turned back. “You and your men have done a fine job today.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty,” Saxton replied, and immediately returned to his duty.
Leslie returned to face Terry, now joined by George and Darlene. “You never change, do you? After you and your brother get finished, this Island will never be the same,” Leslie said.
“For better or worse?” asked George.
“It depends—on who wins, and what your opinion is of the result.” With that he turned and went back to his General Staff.
“You really have stood up for mercy, haven’t you?” George asked Terry.
“You should know—you were a beneficiary of it,” Terry replied.
There was no time for further debate; the Aloxan army marched southward towards North Verecunda. On the north edge of the town was Fort Stevenson, the Verecundan army’s only military facility. Before they would get there, however, the North Army Group made a right onto a back road that would lead them to the airport, which they were to seize. This put the Henley’s Bight regiment back at the forefront, sadly not as numerous as they were when they started. The Royal Caravan, with the Verecundan officers in tow, was right behind them.
When they reached the fort’s main gate, which emptied out into what was now Central Avenue, the Aloxans stopped. The few soldiers left set up a roadblock; they were commanded by the Verecundan army’s commanding general, who was trying to make a last stand for his country.
Leslie took a couple of his officers up to the front and stopped at the Aloxan’s most forward position, which was about thirty metres from the Verecundans’. He handed the bullhorn to the Verecundan field commander, who said, “It’s time to give up. Our army’s gone. We are all captured. We can’t win. It’s over.” There was a hush that came over the entire scene. The Aloxans had spread out on both sides of the road and were ready to join battle; they were nervous that their monarch was so close to the impending battlefield. The Verecundans were facing them in their last ditch stand. The standoff seemed like an eternity, but after about thirty seconds the white flag went up on the Verecundan side and hands started to go up all around it. The Aloxans advanced, first cautiously, then broke into a run with cheers as they advanced to secure the fort and round up yet another group of prisoners.
Just as they were entering the fort, the North Verecundan municipal police showed up, blue lights flashing. They even brought their mayor to the scene. Leslie, with his usual entourage with him, came out to meet him.
“Just who do you think you are and what do you think you’re doing here?” the mayor asked.
“I am Leslie, King of Aloxa,” he said, “and this is my army. Yours is gone.”
“You have no right to be here,” the mayor retorted.
“Right or not, we are here, and now I have word that our navy has seized your port, with little resistance.”
“We’ll send the Inland Police here—they’ll deal with you,” the mayor threatened.
“These people slaughtered the Sacred Band earlier today,” Terry observed. “What chances do the rest of the IP’s have against them?”
“You’re lying,” the mayor said, “and who are you anyway?”
“She’s not lying,” the chief of police agreed. “We’ve lost Collina, including the Point. And who are you anyway?”
“I am Terry Marlowe, Royal Counsellor to the King of Drahla, and the guests of these kind people.”
“Are you related to Richard Marlowe?” the chief of police asked.
“He is my brother,” Terry replied.
“Oh my God,” the mayor blurted out, “it is all over.” With that they got in their cars and fled. Leslie ordered a few detachments to give chase, secure the area around the fort and commandeer some food and other supplies. With that the bulk of the army entered the fort.
There was a brief discussion about whether they should go ahead and take the city while there was still daylight, but Leslie vetoed the idea, noting that daylight was ebbing fast and that the troops were tired and had many wounded to care for. The Aloxans had little liking for the idea of urban warfare at night, and had no indication that there would be substantial resistance even if they waited until morning.
The Aloxans quickly set themselves up in the fort and used the brig for the prisoners, which now included the recruits in boot camp that abruptly ended. They got word that the North Army Group had in fact seized the airport along with some high Verecundan officials trying to escape, although they had to take care of some IP’s in order to get the job done.
Those that were riding with the Royal Caravan took over the officers’ club, and Leslie had some of the field cooks to take over the kitchen and prepare whatever feast they could for everyone. Leslie sat at table with his generals; he received a steady stream of his field commanders. The trio were at table with Prince Desmond, Leslie’s brother and his current Finance Minister. As they ate and talked, they notice off in the corner of the room an Aloxan officer with one of the Verecundan women officers they had captured at the crossroads. The two contrasted each other. The Aloxan was King Leslie made over, with his good looks, shaved head and medium brown skin. Like the man, the woman was in her mid-twenties, but her blue eyes, clear complexion and blonde hair in a ponytail gave her a “girl next door” look that was rare in Verecunda. All of this got their attention.
“Who is the Aloxan?” asked George.
“That is Prince Peter, Leslie’s youngest son,” Desmond said. “Looks like he’s already won this war for himself.”
Darlene looked at them intently. “I’m going over and find out what’s going on,” she said, and got up and went.
“My wife sure is nosey,” George observed.
“Since it is public knowledge now that she is the descendant of the Kings of Beran, perhaps she feels that she has the right to butt in,” Terry observed.
“If what’s going on over there had taken place when her ancestors were kings in Beran, perhaps they would still be there,” Desmond said.
“Perhaps that now her ancestry is public knowledge, things like that will happen more often,” Terry added.
“He seems to have good taste in women,” George said. “She’s the nicest looking Verecundan woman I’ve seen yet.” Terry gave him a sour glare, at which he added, “Sorry.”
“He’s pretty nice looking himself…there is something special about her, though,” Terry said, looking intently at her.
“What’s that?” George asked.
“I can’t say at this point,” Terry responded, dreamily.
Darlene sat down with Peter and his friend and spent the longest time with them. It seemed that Darlene did most of the talking. Finally the people she left behind got tired of sitting and watching the slow moving spectacle.
“I can’t take this any more,” George said. “I’m going over.”
“So am I,” Terry said, and they left Desmond, now highly amused at the entire thing. They walked over, got some other chairs, and sat down at what was now a crowded table. George and Terry made their introductions.
“So what have you been telling these people all this time?” George asked his wife.
“About our long romance and marriage, and other things,” Darlene replied.
“I am sorry,” Peter said, “I should introduce her—this is Julia Stanley, and of course you have seen her earlier. She is going to be my wife.”
“Looks like your courtship will be as short as ours was long,” George threw in.
“So what does your father think of this?” Terry asked, well aware of the usual royal etiquette on the Island.
“He simply said that, if I want her, she is mine,” Peter said in a matter-of-fact way. “But I must present her to my mother for her approval before we can be married.”
“So where in Verecunda are you from?” Terry asked Julia. “I’m originally from Point Collina.”
“I’m from Uranus—Hallett, actually,” Julia said.
“Your parents are still there?”
“My parents are dead. They died in prison. That’s one reason I joined the army.”
“Prison? Why?” George asked.
“Wait a minute,” Terry interrupted. “We used to play tennis with a Stanley from Hallett. She was kicked off the team because she wouldn’t join the Sensual Societies.”
“That’s my aunt Carla,” Julia admitted. “She lives on the mainland. So does my brother, he is a Baptist pastor. We are Christians. That is why my parents went to prison and died.”
“You mean Christian, like Peter’s mother?” Terry asked.
Julia turned to her fiancé in astonishment. “I didn’t know your mother was a Christian.”
“Best open secret in Aloxa,” Peter admitted.
“They do now—she stood with me, hands raised, when I prayed for the North Army Group,” Terry informed Peter.
“Well, she is—wait a minute, so that’s why you wouldn’t”—
“Yes, it is,” Julia said softly, blushing.
Peter’s face fast-forwarded through a series of emotions, and then he said, “Very well, in honour of my mother, and your parents, I will respect your request. But we must return to Aloxa tomorrow so I can present you to my family and we can have this wedding as soon as possible.” He then added, “Besides, two of my brothers have women like this, and they are very happy. So I can be happy too.”
“Our only other request,” Terry said, “is that you two have your honeymoon in Drahla.”
“Drahla? They’re already planning to come to Serelia,” Darlene stated.
“Serelia is better,” George added, “there’s nothing else to do.” The whole table burst out laughing at this observation.
“Then we need to have two honeymoons, one in each!” Peter declared, and everyone was in agreement with that. They talked some more, then Julia spoke up.
“Can I ask a question of you three?” she asked.
“What is it?” George said.
“Am I the only one to do this what I am doing this quickly?”
“Not at all,” Terry spoke up. “You can pretty much kiss dating goodbye with royalty. These two”—she motioned to George and Darlene—“are exceptions. Most engagements such as this are either arranged or drafted. When, for example, Prince Dennis decided on Princess Andrea, he asked her to come to the palace for dinner after church Sunday morning, and I announced their engagement from the pulpit Sunday night. The only difference was that there were quite a few preliminaries leading up to it.”
“Our only preliminaries were our war plans,” Peter observed. “But I can’t believe it—your prince picked his wife out in church.”
“What better place?” Terry said. “But the customs that Darlene’s ancestors set forth still operate in this matter, even in a place like that.”
“Except for her,” George quipped, and the whole table was in laughter again. Darlene’s face matched her hair.
“Your Highness,” Terry asked formally, “is it possible that your fiancée stay with me tonight before you return to Aloxa? The Princess Darlene and I will also give her a crash course in royal etiquette, since the Verecundans know nothing about it.”
“Your request is granted, Your Excellency,” Peter answered, “but only after a bit.” With that the table broke up; Peter and Julia went over to Leslie again, then they went outside in the parade ground for a bit.
The trio was assigned to stay in the female officer’s quarters, so Terry and Julia ended up in the same room where Julia had lived since she received her commission. Darlene joined them, and they delivered on their promise for a royalty school for Julia, along with descriptions of the palace and Peter’s family. They were mindful of the events to come, so they finished the school soon and retired.