Fiction: Battlefield New Mexico

A former Special Forces soldier encounters a mysterious object in his own back yard. The implications could change his life forever.

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Tuesday, May 23

Southwestern New Mexico

The post-hole digger slammed into the dry, sandy earth over and over as the hardened soil fought against its metal scoops. The only moisture in sight was Jim’s sweat, which slowly accumulated in the deepening hole. The strain was already pumping his arms, but he enjoyed the exercise.

Four months out and you’re already soft,” he mumbled under his breath.

The, now former, Special Forces soldier labored away, struggling to reach the required two feet depth in the desert ground. As he finished the hole and pulled the last bit of dirt, he released the handles of the post-hole digger to drop the final scoop of dirt into a nearby pile. 

One down, three to go.

He took a moment to catch his breath and take a swig of water, realizing that the gallon jug he brought out might not be enough for today’s project. Once settled, he moved on to the next corner where he had staked off the edges of the fort. He would have preferred to build a treehouse, but the only trees in this whole county were more like bushes with defensive thorns. He had mentioned the build to his son over the phone in the previous week, but called it a “playhouse”…to which young Daniel quickly criticized as being too childish. So, a fort it shall be. Fort Kaplan.

Jim carried on pounding and tearing up the ground, ensuring the holes were just right in diameter and depth. As he dug, his brain wrestled with the events leading him here: missions that went awry, the slippery slope of leadership failures causing him to lose men along with his faith in the system he spent so many years fighting for. Now, he found himself a thousand miles away from his roots, on a plot of land with nothing to offer other than heat and silence. 

The seventy acres here in Truth or Consequences was now his home. The oddly-name town is found humorous by most, but given his recent tribulations, it was fitting for a turning point in the thirty-eight year old’s life. The fact that the area reminded him of the Afghanistan landscape he spent so many years living in didn’t hurt with regards to acclimation.

Lost in his thoughts, he almost didn’t register the searing pain that shot through his wrists as the post-hole digger struck a hard, foreign object in the fourth and final hole. 


He let the post-hole diggers fall to the side as he shook his hands, looking to relieve the pain. After a moment of rest, he picked up his tamping bar and slammed the narrowed end into the hole, looking to break up the rock. 

Slam after slam, the steel bar smashed into the object to no avail. Eventually, the violent vibrations were enough to make him stop. He looked at the now bent tool and shook his head in defeat.

Of course this would happen in the last hole.

He knelt on the dry, cracked ground and began to scoop away the loosened soil in the hole. With each pass of his hands, the object became more visible. It seemed to be the tip of a triangular piece of metal. He assumed it was some sort of scrap at first, but then realized this vast region of the country was known for munitions testing over the past century.

Please tell me I haven’t been bashing an undetonated nuke.

He knew the likelihood of this being a nuclear device was slim to none, but the reality of this being actual unexploded ordinance still registered highly with him.

He took a moment to think about his current situation. If this turned out to be old munitions, he felt compelled to notify someone; however, considering his recent fall out from his previous command, he had had enough dealing with the government and shuddered at the thought of them scrutinizing his involvement with this. 

“Screw it, I’m probably being monitored anyways. Let’s see what the hell you are,” he declared to the mysterious object.

Carefully, he began to expand the existing hole with a shovel. Each time he got close to an edge of the object, he would brush off the outline with his hands and continue to dig. His curiosity peaked so intensely, that four hours had passed without him noticing. He was now five feet down in the ground, and had dug a thirteen foot diameter hole. His body was exhausted and he needed water. He climbed up and out of the hole to grab his jug of water. As he stood over the edge, chugging away, he got a better view of the object. 

The triangular tip that first started this endeavor was now well-above the soil line. It appeared to be a vertical stabilizer connected to a fuselage below. Just peeking out of the soil on either side of the object were wings, still half buried. It was still unclear to Jim just what exactly the object was. The wings gave him some relief that it was likely not some sort of bomb or missile, but it was clearly designed for flight. The fuselage wasn’t shaped like a standard aircraft; it was peaked, almost like a triangle, and from what he had uncovered, the metal was seamless.

Is this some kind of experimental, mini stealth-fighter jet?

Jim sat down at the edge of the hole, allowing his legs to dangle, and reassessed the situation. Although he was still unsure of what he had partially unearthed, he knew it was likely government-related. And if this was a downed aircraft, there was likely a pilot still inside. He needed to sort it out…eventually. Danny was coming to stay for three months, and Jim promised him the fort.

After a few moments to gather his thoughts, he decided to relocate the fort project and would continue excavating the object in the morning. For now, he needed a shower. And a beer.

As was his habit, Jim was up before the sun. He forwent his traditional morning workout and gathered digging tools from his shed, knowing the rest of the dig would be more than enough caloric expenditure for the day. 

As he walked towards the edge of the back yard, if you could count this grassless patch of ground as such, he hopped down in the pit and took a fresh look at the object. The sun had just risen and the morning light reflected off the metal protruding from the dirt. 

He was baffled. The surface of the metal seemed completely untarnished, as if it had just been buried this week. He used his bare hands to wipe away settled dust, looking for signs of identifiable markings or emblems that would designate what branch of military the object belonged to. 

As he traced his hands towards the front of the fuselage, he felt a low vibration transferring from the ground and into his bent knees. He sat up. The thoughts of potential radiation exposure creeped back into his head.

Surely there’s no nuke here. Maybe it’s just a leftover reserve battery system.

The vibration continued at a steady, low hum. Jim stood and climbed out of the hole. 

I’m not touching this again without checking for radiation. 

He took the tools back to the shed, then went back in the house to make breakfast and get ready for a trip into a larger town where he might actually find a Geiger counter. Surely a military surplus store would have some ancient option collecting dust in this area.

Two hours later, as Jim was getting ready to head out, he caught a glimpse out the front window. A small dust trail was being kicked up from the dirt road leading to his property. A black Chevrolet Suburban was heading his way.

Change of plans, Jim.

He rushed to put his boots on, then grabbed his Glock 30 and slid it into his inside-the-waist holster on the back of his jeans. Through his years in service, he had much more experience with a smaller caliber, but he always preferred the heavier punch the .45 ACP round carried. 

He watched from an angle behind the blinds of the front window as the tinted SUV approached and came to a stop behind his truck. Two people exited the vehicle, male and female, wearing black suits and ties, and walked towards the front of his house.

With the element of surprise, Jim briskly opened the front door as the sharply-dressed man raised his hand to knock. The man retreated a step back quickly, obviously caught off guard, to examine Jim as he stood firmly in the doorway, his right hand tightly gripped to the holstered weapon.

“You must be Lieutenant Kaplan,” The man stated confidently. 

“I’m assuming Command sent you,” Jim responded. “I’ve already given my statement. I don’t know what else there is to discuss.”

The man and woman passed a glance to each other, then looked back at Jim. 

“Actually, sir, we’re here for something…else. My name is Special Agent Day, and this is Special Agent Morrow. We received a signal coming from your property that we believe belongs to an aircraft of ours. It’s been missing for years of course, but we would still like to retrieve it…a-and notify the pilot’s next of kin of course.”

Jim was sympathetic to the idea of closure for the pilot’s family, but he didn’t feel comfortable just letting the agents waltz through his property.

“Agents Day…and Morrow. Right. I’m not sure what agency y’all are from, but you’ll need a warrant before stepping any further. You seem to know my file, I’m sure you can appreciate my hesitation.”

Agent Day took a slight step forward, “Lieutenant…we are the warrant.”

Before Jim could plan his next move, the house began to shake. Two Black Hawk helicopters swooped in low, one landing in the road at the end of his driveway, and the other in the field behind the house.

Jim looked back the agents who hadn’t budged.

“We’ll be retrieving the aircraft, now.”

Thursday, June 1

Lt. James Kaplan’s Residence

Jim continued sanding the rough edges of the open window frame in the upper deck of Fort Kaplan. He was eager for Danny to arrive on Saturday and was imagining him propped up here in the fort, scanning the desert ground with one of the many NERF guns Jim purchased for his summer break. 

As he’d done many times in the past week, Jim glanced across the yard to the gaping hole where the aircraft was removed. He was relieved at the lack of possible radiation exposure, but the whole situation had puzzled him. The craft was clearly buried underground for several years, decades likely. However, the design looked far more advanced than anything he’d seen in action before. The craft was mostly in tact as well, apart from a hole three feet in diameter slightly forward of the right wing. The hole didn’t look like an impact from incoming rounds, but rather like it had melted out. 

Maybe it was an internal wiring malfunction, but what could make it burn hot enough to melt the fuselage like that?

Lost in his thoughts and sanding away, he didn’t hear the echoing thump of the Black Hawk until it was well within sight. 

“What now?” He sighed.

The helicopter swooped in quick and low, landing just to the side of his yard, where it briefly vanished amongst the swirling dust kicked up by the rotors. Jim waited for dust to settle down a bit before walking towards his visitors. The pilots kept the engines running, while three passengers began to depart. 

Agents Day and Morrow stepped out first and took a guarding posture at the edge of the chopper. They were far more rigid today, with their right hands lingering inside their suit jacket, clearly gripped to a firearm. Based on the slight bulge of the jackets, he assumed it was something larger than a pistol.


As the Special Agents scanned the property, Agent Morrow looked back to the chopper and gave the third passenger a nod of approval. Out stepped a man Jim guessed to be in his mid-60s. His posture and demeanor seemed far more relaxed than his counterparts, but his stride said career military. He was dressed down, in a breathable short-sleeve buttoned shirt and lightweight hiking pants. He could’ve easily been mistaken for a fly-fishing hobbyist had it not been for the arid desert in every direction.

He met Jim halfway across the yard, just far enough from the twin turbine engines to understand each other’s raised voices.

“Lieutenant Kaplan, I’m Colonel Eubanks with REVO. We need to take a ride.”

“REVO? What the hell is REVO?”

“I’ll explain on the way.”

“Sir, with all due respect. My son will be here in a few days, and I need to get some things sorted. Whatever questions you have, I’m sure I can answer them here and now.”

“I don’t need answers, son. I need you.”

Jim’s head tilted slightly in confusion.

“I just need a few hours and I’ll get you back. You won’t miss little Danny’s flight,” the Colonel assured.

Well, that settles it…I’m definitely being monitored.

Reluctantly, Jim nodded in agreement and followed the Colonel into the Black Hawk. As he climbed aboard, he noticed the patches on the pilots’ uniforms. It was a simple, black patch with the letters R.E.V.O. embroidered. He had worked with countless units, branches, and agencies in his career, but had never encountered this group. 

Agent Day reached over and handed Jim a headset with microphone after he finished strapping himself in. As the Special Agent settled back into his seat, Jim caught a glimpse inside the man’s black jacket, confirming his earlier guess of the H&K MP7. 

Still got it.

The Colonel already had his headset in place and tapped the right ear cover to notify Jim they could talk.

“I’ve already met these two. I assume Eubanks is a pseudonym as well?”

The Colonel let out a quick chuckle, “Ha, no. No pseudonym. And believe it or not, Day and Morrow are their real names also.”


“Recovery Examination for Vessels and Ordinance.”

Jim thought for a moment.

“That sounds specific and quite vague at the same time.”

“By design. It describes precisely what we do, without revealing what we do.”

“And what is it exactly you need me to do?”

The engines of the helicopter roared to life as the rotor speed increased and lifted the bird into the air. The pilot banked hard to the left before leveling out and headed southeast, towards the San Andres Mountains. Jim hadn’t lived in this area long, but he knew what areas existed on the other side of that range.

“The craft we recovered from your yard. We’ve been in search of it for decades. Once we received the signal, we knew we were closer to piecing a puzzle together. However, the signal stopped transmitting as soon as we left your property and we have been unsuccessful in reactivating the craft.”

“What puzzle?”

“A big one.”

Jim was annoyed with the vagueness.

“Should I be worried about security clearance here? My previous access has been wiped, and I’m sure I was nowhere near the level of this conversation anyways.”

“We’re not concerned about that. What you’re about to learn, I don’t care if you know. I don’t care if you tell anyone. Because no one is going to believe you,” The Colonel quipped.

“You still haven’t explained why I’m here.”

“We believe the craft is now linked to a personal signature. That’s likely why the signal transmission ceased.”

“Personal signature?”


Jim was now properly confused. 

How could a decades old aircraft have technology like this?

They sat in silence as the helicopter passed over the southern portion of the San Andres Mountains, just north of the White Sands Missile Range. The vast, blank desert looked endless as their journey ventured deeper away from civilization.

 After a few minutes, Jim noticed some anomalies amongst the desert floor. First, it was just one. Then another, and then there were more, clustered together. He leaned out to get a better view. What he could see were excavated sites in perfectly square grids. A few of the holes were empty, but as they grew in quantity, he could now see crashed aircraft still inside the grids. Some were perfectly excavated, while others remained half buried.

Jim glanced over to the Colonel.

“Just wait a minute,” the Colonel smirked.

The helicopter banked slightly as they crested a ridge and headed down into a deep, dry canyon. Jim couldn’t help but let his jaw drop. 

At first, it appeared they were flying over a massive junkyard, where somehow vehicles were dropped out of the sky and into some random canyon floor, but as they approached closer he got a better perspective.

The site below was fully compiled of aircraft. Some had wings, similar to modern jet design, while others were a rounded, disc shape. 

Jim’s gut felt light. He still wasn’t sure what he was looking at, and continued to question if his brain was functioning properly. He looked ahead. The calamity of strewn aircraft spread along the ground for miles. Jim estimated there to be thousands of downed craft. Potentially more.

How is this even possible?

“Wha-what is this place?” he asked in awe.

“What you’re looking at is the remnants of an ancient war between entities we believe to be of non-Earth origins.”

“Non…non-Earth origins?”

“Welcome to Battlefield New Mexico, Lieutenant.”

Ryan Yearwood is the motorsports correspondent for SoBros Network as well as the pioneer and visionary behind SoBros Outdoors. Follow on Twitter: @OutdoorSoBro.

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