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Soter
by David Campbell (commanderbip@msn.com)

Rated: PG-13   Genre: Action/Adventure   User Review:
NOT YET
RATED



This screenplay is copyrighted to its author. All rights reserved. This screenplay may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the author.



EXT. OUTSIDE THE GATES OF THE GREEK CITY CORINTH - NIGHT
                                                            
DUSK. Panoramic scene - Greek Army encampment - tents,
dwindling campfires.

Drunken Greek soldiers are lying randomly about, asleep.

SUPER: 456 B.C. THE GRECO-PERSIAN WAR. OUTSIDE THE GATES
OF THE GREEK CITY CORINTH.

CUT TO: PERSIAN ARMY in the distance - poised to ATTACK.
                                                            
                       NARRATOR (V.O.)
The Persian army is poised to
attack the strategic Greek city of
Corinth, providing a critical
staging point for a devastating
invasion of Greece.
                                                            
PAN TO: A line of large SENTRY DOGS, staked out along the
perimeter of the Greek garrison, all on ALERT. They are all
of the fierce MOLOSSAS breed, large wide muzzles, thick
MUSCLED chest and legs, forefather of the modern day
MASTIFF.
                                                            
                       NARRATOR (V.O.)
Prior to a night of heavy
drinking, the Greek soldiers
guarding the city's perimeter
stationed fifty trained sentry
dogs to alert them of an attack.
The Persians, aware of the dogs,
made it their first priority to
kill them.
                                                            
CUT TO: The PERSIAN ARMY, stealthily moving forward toward
the sentry dogs, ARROWS fly, killing them.
                                                            
                       NARRATOR (V.O.)
The attack came as the drunken
Greek garrison slept. All but one
of the fifty dogs were killed.
                                                            
We see one DOG struggle against his chain and BREAK FREE. He
runs to the Greek soldier's camp, BARKING, they sound the
alert and rise to battle, ENGAGING and REPELLING the
invaders.
                                                            
DISSOLVE TO: A marble STATUE of a DOG with a SILVER COLLAR.
                                                            

2.

                       NARRATOR (V.O.)
The Greeks erected a marble
monument to the heroic dog who had
saved all of Greece. He was given
a silver collar and awarded a
lifetime pension.

His name was SOTER.
                                                            
ZOOM TO: A plaque on the statue with the words
"SOTER Savior of the People"
                                                            
 
EXT. RENO VALLEY GUN CLUB, NEVADA - DAY
                                                            
SNOWY - DREARY - OVERCAST

CHRISTMAS WREATH on the GUN CLUB entrance SIGN.

ROADSIDE VIEW of highway.

An older model STATION WAGON abruptly stops.

A young (six month old) black, unkempt DOG is PUSHED OUT
onto the berm.

The CAR takes off, he RUNS after, but is too WEAK to keep
up.

He finally gives up - watches it disappear.

CLOSE UP: He SITS, shivering, ears FLAPPING in the cold
wind.
                                                            
                                         DISSOLVE TO:
                                                            
 
EXT. RENO VALLEY GUN CLUB, NEVADA - DAY
                                                            
A CRISP, BLUE-SKY WINTER DAY
                                                            
CLOSE UP of SOTER - a BEAUTIFUL BLACK MALE LABRADOR
RETRIEVER

Now SITTING at the SAME LOCATION he was abandoned.

Now OLDER - a little THIN - not fully filled out.

Intently watching CARS speed by.

PAN TO: SUV turning into the GUN CLUB driveway - stops.

TWO MEN step out - wearing sport shooting VESTS.

3.


GUN CLUB MEMBER - a distinguished-looking Professor-type.

LTCOL DAVIS - Marine Corps - sharp, even in civilian clothes
- HARDENED, yet a measured CEREBRAL look.
                                                            
                       GUN CLUB MEMBER
Like I said, he sits there every
day at the same time he was left
here two years ago. Same day as
tomorrow, Christmas Eve.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
How long does he wait?
                                                            
                       GUN CLUB MEMBER
Usually a couple hours till he
gets hungry and heads to the
clubhouse for chow.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
Is he friendly?
                                                            
                       GUN CLUB MEMBER
Oh yeah, he greets everyone, plays
with kids, other dogs. He sleeps
inside the clubhouse every night.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
So, he's a very passive dog?
                                                            
                       GUN CLUB MEMBER
I wouldn't exactly say that.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
Why not?
                                                            
                       GUN CLUB MEMBER
Someone tried to break into the
clubhouse last summer. We told the
police the dog always slept
inside, so they decided to check
with the nearest hospital.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
And ?
                                                            
                       GUN CLUB MEMBER
A local well known juvenile
delinquent had been admitted the
night before.....with a big dog
bite on his ass.
                                                            

4.

DAVIS smiles, gives the DOG another looking over.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
He might be what we're looking
for.
                                                            
                       GUN CLUB MEMBER
Well, I'm just a history
professor, you're career military.
If it's loyalty your looking for,
you couldn't ask for a better dog.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
What's his name?
                                                            
                       GUN CLUB MEMBER
I call him SOTER.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
Soter? What kind of name is that?
What does it mean?
                                                            
SOTER - hearing his name - runs and SITS between the TWO MEN
- tail WAGGING.
                                                            
                       GUN CLUB MEMBER
Maybe you need to take my
Greco-Roman Studies class over
again.
                                                            
                                         DISSOLVE TO:
                                                            
 
EXT. US MARINE CORPS CAMP LEJEUNE, NORTH CAROLINA - DAY
                                                            
NAVAL EXPEDITIONARY DOG TRAINING CENTER

WIDE SHOT: Large field - woods - ponds - dirt roads - dog
obstacle course - small village mockup.
                                                            
ZOOM TO: Fifteen civilian DOG HANDLERS lined up.

A DOG sitting next to each - mix of German Shephard, Belgian
Malinois, Labrador Retriever.

CLOSE UP: SOTER next to his female handler.

Now two and half years old - beautiful BLACK SHINY-COAT,
fully filled out - MUSCLED.

PAN TO: Opposite row of fifteen young MARINES lined up about
FIVE FEET apart- at ATTENTION - holding LEASHES. All MALE,
except for one FEMALE.

5.


PAN TO: MSGT GARCIA - seasoned Drill Sergeant - STOCKY -
HISPANIC - TATTOOS - BOOMING voice.

PACING the line.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
      (holding a
       bullhorn, but not
       using it)
I am MASTER SARGENT GARCIA, your
Kennelmaster. It is my
unfortunate duty to show you sorry
dog handler wannabes how to
property train a dog for combat
duty.
                                                            
Picks out a MARINE - random - in his FACE.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
I'll be surprised if even one of
you can teach 'em how to fart
downwind after 12 weeks.
                                                            
More PACING.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
These dogs have been trained in
basic obediance by their great
American volunteer handlers, as a
favor to the United States Marine
Corps. They are MY dogs now. And
maybe, just maybe, I will hand
them over to you bunch of
knucklehead amateurs for their
advanced training - may God have
mercy on their canine souls. Can I
get a "HOO-RAH" !
                                                            
"HOO-RAH"
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
I am going to turn them into
NED's, that's a Naval
Expeditionary Dog for those of you
who emptied your cranium in the
latrine this morning.

They will be trained as a
versatile military working dog,
meaning they will go on patrols,
do sentry duty, learn to track the
bad guys and attack on command.

            (MORE)

6.

                       MSGT GARCIA (cont'd)
Most important of all I will teach
them to search for, detect and
alert on Improvised Explosive
Devices placed by enemy forces.

Am I being clear?
                                                            
"HOO-RAH !"
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
Since none of you are smart enough
to know how to choose a good dog,
we will let them decide.
                                                            
GARCIA nods toward the CIVILIAN handlers.

PAN TO: the first HANDLER in line unleashes his dog and
FLICKS his ear.

We follow the dog - he RUNS directly to the lone FEMALE
Marine and sits by her.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
      (walks to her)
Well what do we have here? This
dog picked you out of the crowd
right way. Now why do you suppose
he did that?
                                                            
                       PRINCESS
I...I don't know Master Sergeant.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
You dont know? What's your name
Marine?
                                                            
                       PRINCESS
Corporal Stephens.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
What's your middle name?
                                                            
                       PRINCESS
Diana.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
I know that! I can see it on your
name tag! What do you think I'm
stupid! What's your first name?
                                                            
                       PRINCESS
Amy.
                                                            

7.

                       MSGT GARCIA
What's your middle name?
                                                            
                       PRINCESS
Diana.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
      (spins around)
OH MY! Lookie here! We got
royalty among us. A real Princess
- Princess Diana! Let me guess
Princess, your Daddy's a
Congressman...right?
                                                            
                       PRINCESS
No Master Sergeant !
                                                            
                       PRINCESS
Oh yeah, and you heard that we're
now gonna send women into combat,
so you cried to Daddy and figured
you'd jump right from your cushy
office job to being a Military
Working Dog Handler. Right?
                                                            
She's PISSED, clenches her TEETH, lower LIP TREMBLING, holds
it in.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
Don't answer that. You won't get
any special treatment here.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
      (turns away, in
       the bullhorn)
Next !
                                                            
PAN TO: The SECOND DOG - released the same way - we follow
- LICKS the hand of a MARINE - leashed.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
      (in the bullhorn)
Next !
                                                            
Pan to SOTER and his HANDLER.
                                                            
SOTER is RELEASED.

Walks SLOWLY to the line - moves along - cautious -STUDYING.

STOPS in front of CORPORAL COREY COOPER - 21 years old - 6ft
tall - calm - kind blue eyes - broad shoulders - well toned.


8.

SOTER eyes him - tail WAGS - steps forward.

COOPER reaches to leash him - the dog HESITATES - turns
-RUNS back to his handler.

ANGLE ON: GARCIA. Unmoved, almost ingnores what happened.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
      (in the bullhorn)
Next !
                                                            
PAN TO: Another dog released....

TRANSITION TO: COOPER - standing alone.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA (O.C.)
      (in the bullhorn)
Handlers, fall out to the obstacle
course. Corporal Cooper, go get my
last dog.
                                                            
COOPER walks to SOTER and his FEMALE HANDLER -middle aged -
a gentle and knowing demeanor.
                                                            
                       COOPER
I don't think he likes me. None
of them did.
                                                            
                       FEMALE HANDLER
Well, sometimes they sense things
we have yet to learn about
ourselves.
                                                            
Takes the LEASH from COOPER.
                                                            
                       FEMALE HANDLER
But then he wasn't interested in
anyone else either...was he?
                                                            
She leashes the dog - hands it to him.
                                                            
                       FEMALE HANDLER
Don't worry son, everything will
work out just fine...for the both
of you.
                                                            
                       COOPER
What's his name?
                                                            
                       FEMALE HANDLER
His name Soter.
                                                            

9.

                       COOPER
Soter? What kind of a name is
that for a dog? What does it
mean?
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA (O.C.)
      (in the bullhorn)
COOPER! HAVE MY DOG DRAG YOUR LAZY
ASS OVER HERE...ON THE DOUBLE!
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. CAMP LEJEUNE NED TRAINING FACILITY - DAY
                                                            
DAYBREAK - INSIDE TWO MAN TENT
                                                            
COOPER and his TENT MATE - 18 yr old MARINE, baby face,
talkative.

Putting on UNIFORMS.

TENT FLAPS are TIED OPEN.
                                                            
                       
You know Coop, we've been together
for five days now and I don't even
know that much about you...except
you're from Colorado and have a
girlfriend. You sure don't talk
much.
                                                            
                       COOPER
Guess I've always kinda been that
way...Don't take it personal.
                                                            
They begin LAYING OUT and CHECKING OVER their DOG TRAINING
GEAR.
                                                            
                       CORPORAL SMITH
How you feelin', about today?
                                                            
                       COOPER
Nervous.
                                                            
                       CORPORAL SMITH
Me too..last chance for us to pass
the obstacle course test.
                                                            
                       COOPER
I know, we are the only two left.
                                                            

10.

SMITH sits on his cot - pats his dog on the head.

Looks over at SOTER - lying down, looking out the open tent
flaps.
                                                            
                       
Your dog lays in that same spot
every night...
                                                            
                       COOPER
      (continues looking
       down at his gear)
Yeah, I know.
                                                            
                       CORPORAL SMITH
Garcia has been pretty hard on you
all week, trying to get the two of
you through the course.
                                                            
GARCIA bursts in. They SNAP to attention.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
COOPER! The Officer-in-Charge
wants to see you...NOW!...bring my
dog...ON THE DOUBLE!
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
EXT. COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO - DAY
                                                            
FIRE STATION 12
                                                            
DUSK. CLOUDY, OVERCAST SKY, COLD
                                                            
WIDE VIEW of the fire station.

Start of heavy SNOW.

ZOOM TO: door with a CHRISTMAS WREATH.

SIGN above reads: "COLORADO SPRINGS FIRE STATION 12".

A young FIREMAN steps out with a DALMATION DOG.
                                                            
                       YOUNG FIREMAN
Better go do your business now
Smokey...before this blizzard
hits.
                                                            
The DOG walks out, SNIFFING the ground - EARS perk up - RUNS
OFF around the side of the building.
                                                            

11.

                       YOUNG FIREMAN
      (whistles)
Smokey, c'mere boy!
                                                            
O.C. SMOKEY is BARKING.
                                                            
                       YOUNG FIREMAN
      (starts walking,
       whistles again)
Smokey, whatcha' doin' boy ?
                                                            
WALKS toward the barking dog.

O.C. we hear the faint cry of a baby.

He comes to SMOKEY, sitting down, next to a WICKER LAUNDRY
BASKET.

ANGLE ON: a BABY wrapped in blankets.

POV: YOUNG FIREMAN looks into his face - hands pick him up.

The BABY stops crying.
                                                            
                       YOUNG FIREMAN (O.C.)
Merry Christmas.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. CAMP LEJEUNE NED TRAINING FACILITY - DAY
                                                            
LTCOL DAVIS'OFFICE
                                                            
The door is open - COOPER and SOTER appear - he pounds on
the door frame THREE times.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
      (reading through a
       file folder, does
       not look up)
ENTER !
                                                            
COOPER snaps to attention.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
      (not looking up,
       points to a chair)
Sit.
                                                            
Finishes FLIPPING through a FOLDER - pushes it aside.
                                                            

12.

                       LTCOL DAVIS
What seems to be the problem with
you two?
                                                            
                       COOPER
Sir....I guess I don't really
know.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
I've been looking over your record
again. Seems you've always had a
problem with cooperation.
                                                            
                       COOPER
Well...sir...maybe I've..
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
Got into some fights in high
school, skipped classes..a star
football player, yet somewhat of a
loner. Still managed to graduate
in the top ten of your class. Had
some trouble following direction
in basic training, but then you
turned yourself around and became
a model Marine. Now, how do you
explain all that, Corporal?
                                                            
No response.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
I hand picked every handler for
this program, including you...and
the dogs. I've been training dogs
for a very long time. I know how
they think...they are a helluva
lot easer to train than any
nose-pickin' recruit I've known.
You know why I picked you?
                                                            
                       COOPER
No sir.
                                                            
DAVIS grabs the file, opens to a page.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
Right here, in your psych eval
when you volunteered for this
progam...the Shrink sez
"...applicant appears to have some
difficulty with interpersonal
relationships, particularly in
fully trusting others.."
                                                            

13.

Closes the file.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
Is that right?... Don't answer
that. You see Corporal Cooper, I'd
rather have someone who doesn't
yet know the true meaning of
trust, instead of someone who
thinks he does and blows smoke up
my butt in their application.
                                                            
                       COOPER
Yes Sir. Maybe...well...maybe if I
could be assigned another dog I...
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
      (stands, he's
       pissed)
Another dog? You want another
dog? You think the DOG is the
problem?

(points at SOTER)

What would he say right now if I
asked him how he felt about you?
Hold on, wait a minute...where did
I put that...
                                                            
SHUFFLES desk papers - randomly grabs one.

ANGLE ON: SOTER moving off a little - this might get ugly.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
      (holds up a paper)
Here it is, right here! This is a
written request from your dog for
a new handler, got his paw print
right on the bottom. He beat you
to it Cooper. What do you think
about that...should I approve it?
                                                            
COOPER glances at SOTER, almost believing it could be true.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
      (sits, composes
       himself)
Listen to me son, you are only
gonna' get one more chance at
this. These dogs are not a piece
of machinery, they have good days
and bad days like everyone else. I
happen to know why he's not
responding...he's confused...and
            (MORE)

14.

                       LTCOL DAVIS (cont'd)
so are you...he wants something
from you...you need something from
him..figure it out...QUICKLY!

Good luck. Dismissed.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
EXT. CAMP LEJEUNE NED TRAINING CENTER - DAY
                                                            
DOG OBSTACLE COURSE.

A-frame ramps - wall jump - open window - wall with door -
elevated beam - tunnel pipe - water obstacle.

STARTING LINE: COOPER and CORPORAL SMITH with their DOGS.

The rest of the CLASS is lined up, watching

GARCIA: holding his BULLHORN and a STOPWATCH.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
      (to Corporal Smith)
GO ! (clicks the stopwatch)
                                                            
SMITH and his DOG run the COURSE without a major mistake.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
      (in the bullhorn)
CONGRATULATIONS ! YOU HAVE RUN
THE SLOWEST TIME ! FALL IN WITH
YOUR CLASSMATES.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
      (to Cooper)
GO ! (clicks the stopwatch)
                                                            
Up and down the STAIRS - over the WALL - up and down the A
FRAME - run to the TUNNEL - SOTER BALKS - breaks off - runs
along beside it - over to the ELEVATED BEAM - up and along
it.

Run to the WATER OBSTACLE - SOTER balks again - won't jump
in.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
      (bullhorn)
STOP! REPORT TO ME!
                                                            
COOPER leashes SOTER - walks to GARCIA.
                                                            

15.

                       MSGT GARCIA
You failed. Take my dog to the
kennel. Report to Lieutenant
Colonel Davis to be processed out
of my program.
                                                            
They walk off.

Come to the STARTING LINE - COOPER stops - looks at SOTER -
he SITS - their eyes lock.
                                                            
                       COOPER
NO! DAMNIT! WE CAN DO THIS!
C'MON SOTER!
                                                            
COOPER yanks of the leash and TAKES OFF on the course - he's
going to run it HIMSELF - lead the way.

SOTER tears off after him - BARKING - EXCITED.

Up and down the STAIRS - SOTER right behind him, - up and
over the WALL together - up and down the A FRAME - together.

RUN - DIVE for the TUNNEL - SOTER behind - BARKING - out the
end - up and along the ELEVATED BEAM.

RUN for the WATER OBSTACLE - COOPER belly flops - SOTER a
flying LEAP beside him.

GARCIA is there - YELLING encouragement.

They EMERGE from the water - SPRINT for the FINISH LINE.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
      (running with them)
DO IT AGAIN! KEEP GOING! DON'T
STOP! RUN THAT DOG THROUGH THIS
COURSE!
                                                            
They RUN to the STARTING LINE - GARCIA starts the CLOCK.

They COMPLETE the course - FLAWLESSLY

COOPER falls to the ground - TOTALLY SPENT - SOTER licking
his face.

GARCIA - looks at his STOPWATCH.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
      (points the
       bullhorn toward
       the class)
WE HAVE A NEW COURSE RECORD !
                                                            

16.

COOPER pumps his FISTS in the ai - the CLASS CHEERS - SOTER
BARKING.

GARCIA. Bends over COOPER's face.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
You finally figured it out. This
dog will make you EARN his trust.
I knew it from day one.
                                                            
COOPER sits up - BROAD SMILE.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
Now you need to learn to trust
him.
                                                            
GARCIA extends his hand to help COOPER up - he takes it.

GARCIA helps him HALFWAY up - PULLS HIS HAND BACK - lets him
FALL back to the ground.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
...and me.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. SCREEN SHOTS OF TRAINING SCENES - DAY
                                                            
1. EXT. DAYBREAK. GARCIA is running HANDLERS and DOGS at
early morning PT; singing JODIES.

2. EXT. NIGHT. RAGING THUNDERSTORM. COOPER and SOTER on
patrol duty walking the perimeter of a tall fence.

3. INT. CLASSROOM: Handlers health checking their dogs.

COOPER has SOTER on a table, a VETERINARIAN showing him how
to EXAMINE his dogs coat, eyes, feet, legs, internal
organs…how to give an injection, start an IV, bandage a
wound.

4. EXT. COOPER and SOTER crawling on their bellies together
through the mud under strands of barbed wire, EXPLOSIVE
CHARGES going off around them.

5. EXT. ATTACK DOG TRAINING chasing down and BITING the
protected arm of a fleeing SUSPECT DECOY.

6. INT. CLASSROOM: IED LECTURE. Large table with various
IED devices. Written on the WHITEBOARD in the B.G.:

IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICE

17.


Components
- Explosive
- Detonator
- Electrical Charge

7. EXT. EXPLOSIVES TRAINING COURSE. COOPER is guiding
SOTER along a row of AMMO BOXES having him SMELL each one.
When he finds the right one COOPER makes him sit, opens the
AMMO CAN, pulls out and tosses a KONG TOY to him.

8. INT. IED LECTURE. Large TABLE in front loaded with an
array of various IED EXPLOSIVE EXAMPLES. Written on the
whiteboard in the B.G.:


EXPLOSIVES:

- Ammonium Nitrate (Fertilizer) and Diesel Fuel
- TNT, Gun Powder
- Plastique; C-3, C-4, Semtex, PE4
- RDX (CYCLOTRIMETHYLENETRINITRAMINE)
- PETN (PENTAERTHRITOL TETRANITRATE)
- TATP (TRIACETONETRIPEROXIDE)

9. EXT. EXPLOSIVES TRAINING COURSE. SOTER running full out
down a long winding DIRT ROAD, slams to a STOP, turns to his
right, goes to the DITCH, sits down next to a cardboard box
marked "EXPLOSIVES".

CUT TO GARCIA standing next to COOPER, ZOOM to GARCIA's
hand as he pushes a button on a small TRANSMITTER.

CUT BACK TO SOTER, his KONG TOY suddenly POPS OUT of the
cardboard box, he grabs it and runs to COOOPER.

10. EXT. HANDLERS bathing their dogs in large tubs, dogs
RUNNING AMOCK, soap and water flying everywhere.

ANGLE ON COOPER and SOTER who are playfully splashing around
together, tail wagging, laughing.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
EXT. CAMP LEJEUNE NED TRAINING CENTER - DAY
                                                            
EXPLOSIVES TRAINING COURSE
                                                            
FINAL EXAM for handlers and dogs.

A MOCK typical RURAL VILLAGE in Afghanistan.


18.

DIRT STREET, mud and brick HOUSES, broken down WALLS.

A CANAL.

MOTORBIKES, OLD CARS, a wagon CART, cardboard CUTOUTS of
AFGHANI'S in robes, TRASH, a live MUTT DOG is tied to a pole
and BARKING, one old car is BURNING.

A LOUDSPEAKER is playing evening call to prayers.

LTCOL DAVIS is huddled with a couple other OFFICER
EVALUTATORS, holding CLIPBOARDS.

A small group of MARINES are waiting off to the side next to
a couple HUMVEES; they will simulate a FOOT PATROL with the
dogs.

In the B.G.. we see an ATV GATOR parked.

Two LANCE CORPORALS are opening and inventorying a bunch of
WOODEN BOXES marked "INERT EXPLOSIVE".

They stop and approach GARCIA.
                                                            
                       LANCE COPORAL 1
We inventoried everything, but we
came up short one detonator cord.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
      (walks toward the
       Gator)
There's supposed to be fifteen,
one for each dog. They need to be
swapped out fresh after every run.
Damnit, this is certification day!
                                                            
He does a count himself.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
FOURTEEN. Are all you EOD trainees
straight A math majors? They
teach you to count over there?
Shouldn't be a problem, you got
ten fingers and ten toes...didn't
even have to use 'em all.

(POINTS TO LCPL #1) YOU take the
Gator and start placing the
simulators at the locations I've
marked.

(POINTS TO LCPL #2) YOU can start
running and backtrack to see if
you dropped one. If you don't
            (MORE)

19.

                       MSGT GARCIA (cont'd)
find it keep on going and report
to the Warrant Officer at the ammo
bunker to get another one...if he
doesn't rip your head off.
                                                            
He pulls out one of the DETONATOR CORDS. It is wrapped in
bright YELLOW and RED TAPE.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
This is what one looks like, in
case you happen to trip over it.
                                                            
They hustle off as directed.
                                                            
STARTING LINE: COOPER and SOTER.

In the B.G. we see a small orange FLAG planted in the
street, next to the group of "mock patrol" MARINES in full
combat gear.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
      (points to the
       flag)
Corporal Cooper, as you can see
you will be working your dog
downwind. Take up a position in
front of the patrol and start
clearing the street.
                                                            
SOTER is off leash, WORKING back and forth, hitting all the
various OBJECTIVES.

COOPER hand-directs him around one of the vehicles, he SITS
and ALERTS on the trunk.

LCPL #1 comes foward, lifts the TRUNK, we see a box marked
"SEMTEX". He SIGNALS the find back to DAVIS.

COOPER pulls the KONG TOY out of his pouch, hiding it from
SOTER's view, puts it in the trunk, retrieves it and TOSSES
it to SOTER to play with. He POCKETS the TOY, they move on.

SOTER stops near the BARKING DOG, COOPER directs him on.

One of the MARINES points out a suspicious BOX on the other
side of the canal. SOTER is sent into the water, swims
across, checks it out and returns - nothing there.

They come to the wagon CART, which is low to the ground.
COOPER directs SOTER to lay on his belly and crawl under the
length of it. About HALFWAY through he STOPS.


20.

COOPER kneels and looks, we see a DETONATOR CORD hanging.

LCPL #1 gives another find signal. SOTER gets his TOY. They
move on.

A DECOY INSURGENT runs out from one of the houses firing a
GUN. They hit the dirt and RETURN FIRE (blanks). COOPER
yells at SOTER to lay down.

They exchange fire, the INSURGENT drops his WEAPON and
starts running. COOPER sends SOTER.

The INSURGENT stops, extends his PADDED ARM but he SLIPS and
starts falling backwards just as SOTER gets to him. His
lunge misses under the padded arm and he BITES hard into his
GROIN AREA, drives him into the ground.

A cry of PAIN. COOPER immediately calls off the dog.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
MEDIC !
                                                            
                       DECOY
      (to Cooper)
It wasn't his fault. I slipped.
                                                            
He is loaded into a HUMVEE and driven off.

DAVIS and GARCIA have a private chat. DAVIS goes back to
his observation position.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
      (turns to the
       patrol MARINES)
Which one of you brave souls is
gonna volunteer to replace my
injured decoy insurgent on the
next run?
                                                            
They all look to the ground, start KICKING dirt around,
CHECK their weapons over.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
      (to Cooper)
Commander Davis agreed to let you
continue on.
                                                            
They come to the end of the VILLAGE and keep moving down the
vacant road.

SOTER suddenly stops and sits. COOPER stops the PATROL and
moves forward.


21.

We can see a partially buried IED in the middle of the road.
COOPER calls off SOTER, he gets his toy and they walk back
to the patrol.

LCPL #1 goes to the IED and places a small RADIO CONTROLLED
EXPLOSIVE CHARGE on top of it.

Take cover.."FIRE IN THE HOLE"!

EXPLOSION.

The test is over.
                                                            
COOPER leashes SOTER and walks him back to the starting
line.

As he turns to leave the course SOTER starts to sniff into
the wind up the MAIN ROAD. He SITS.

COOPER gives him a couple TUGS, but he resists.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
What's going on here?
                                                            
                       COOPER
I don't know, he just stopped.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
Why?
                                                            
COOPER gives another tug, but he sits STARING intently up
the road.

The BREEZE in his face is FLAPPING his ears.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
Your dog is trying to tell you
something. Release him.
                                                            
                       COOPER
But...I don't...the course is back
that way.
                                                            
GARCIA turns and walks off.

COOPER looks over at DAVIS, who is huddled with his other
evaluators, writing on CLIPBOARDS.

He studies SOTER, then finally decides to RELEASE him.

DAVIS looks up and sees the DOG running fast up the road.
                                                            

22.

                       LTCOL DAVIS
Where in the hell is that dog
going?
                                                            
                       COOPER
Sir..I thought he...he was...
                                                            
He looks to GARCIA for help, but he looks to the ground and
starts KICKING dirt around, SCRIBBLES on his clipboard.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
Call him in. We can't have a dog
running loose around here.
                                                            
SOTER is running full out up the middle of the dirt road,
which gradually slopes UPHILL.

COOPER puts his WHISTLE in his mouth, but HESITATES.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
I SAID CALL YOUR DOG IN !
                                                            
He can't bring himself to do it.

DAVIS walks back to his evaluators, they all SHAKE their
heads like they are going to fail him.

SOTER is now almost a dot on at the top of the hill. He
suddenly stops and SITS.

COOPER starts walking toward him.

DAVIS sees this and SOTER on alert. He calls for a HUMVEE,
he and GARCIA jump in. They stop and pick up COOPER.

At the top of the hill they get out and see the missing
DETONATOR CORD on the ground in front of SOTER.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
      (to Garcia)
Where did this come from?
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
      (shrugs his
       shoulders)
Must have fallen out of the Gator.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
      (shakes his head,
       then turns to
       Cooper)
That dog's got one hell of a nose
Corporal. This has to be close to
            (MORE)

23.

                       LTCOL DAVIS (cont'd)
a hundred meters away.
                                                            
He pats SOTER on the head.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
Well done. Tell your Handler you
passed.
                                                            
DAVIS walks to the HUMVEE.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
Like I said, you needed to learn
to trust this dog...and me.
                                                            
GARCIA puts his hand on COOPER's shoulder.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
You can call him your dog now.
                                                            
LANCE CORPORAL #2

RUNS up, sweaty, too EXHAUSTED to speak.

Hands the replacement DETONATOR CORD to GARCIA.

GARCIA picks up the one lying on the ground.
                                                            
                       MSGT GARCIA
Take this one back.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
EXT. CAMP LEJEUNE NED TRAINING CENTER - DAY
                                                            
PARADE GROUND, GRADUATION DAY
                                                            
WIDE VIEW of HANDLERS and DOGS lined up in front of the
BLEACHERS. Family members are all sitting in the front row.

A PODIUM on the DIAS, VIP OFFICERS in dress uniform, some
SENIOR DOD CIVILIANS.
                                                            
ZOOM TO MRS COOPER, KAITLIN sitting next to each other.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
I am so proud of him today. I
only wish Jim could be here to see
this. He loved that boy so much.
                                                            
She puts her hand on KAITLIN's.
                                                            

24.

                       MRS. COOPER
I just knew this would be the best
thing for him. It's what he
needed in his life.
                                                            
KAITLIN half smiles, looks down at her lap. MRS. COOPER
pats her hand.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
...along with you, Kaitlin...you
too. He needs you in his life as
well.
                                                            
PAN TO: LTCOL DAVIS TAKING THE PODIUM
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
Ladies and Gentleman,
distinguished guests, family
members, thank you for your
attendance today at this very
special event.

These fifteen young Marine
Corporals have successfully
completed the first ever course
designed to train a Naval
Expeditionary Dog. They have all
undergone a very arduous and
extensive training program, and
will now be assigned to combat
duty in the Afghanistan theater of
operations.

In keeping with tradition, I will
now officially promote each of
these Expeditionary Dogs to a rank
one grade higher than their
Handlers, to Sergeants in the
United States Marine Corps.

YOU will be working for THEM.

ATTENTION TO ORDERS !
                                                            
The HANDLERS bend down and raise the right PAW of their
dogs.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
      (raises his right
       hand)
I do solemnly swear that I will
support and defend the
Constitution of the United States
against all enemies, foreign and
            (MORE)

25.

                       LTCOL DAVIS (cont'd)
domestic; that I will bear true
faith and allegiance to the same;
that I take this obligation
freely, without any mental
reservation or purpose of evasion;
and that I will well and
faithfully discharge the duties of
the office on which I am about to
enter. So help me God.
                                                            
All fifteen Handlers - "HOORAH"
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
Since this is the inaugural class
for this program, we have decided
to start an award to be given out
at every graduation ceremony.

This award will not just go to the
team who achieved the highest
scores, but who also showed the
best ability to adapt to
challenging and unpredictable
conditions.

We are calling this the Khryseos
award. Khryseos was a golden dog
in Greek mythology who was sent to
guard ZEUS when he was an infant.

It consists of a medalion for the
handler and a silver studded
collar for the Expeditionary Dog.
                                                            
ANGLE ON: MSGT GARCIA, holding the AWARDS.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
This first award goes to a team
who started out slow, but came on
strong at the end. Sergeant Soter
and his handler, Corporal Cooper.
                                                            
GARCIA conveys the AWARDS.

APPLAUSE.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
Based on all your hard work and
dedication to duty,I am granting
all of you ten days of leave.

Go home to your families, relax,
socialize, and come back here
            (MORE)

26.

                       LTCOL DAVIS (cont'd)
ready for a week of refresher
training before your deployment.

...As for you handlers...you have
my permission to accompany them on
their trip.

Congratulations to all of you.

Go forth and do good things.

Dismissed.
                                                            
Families join their MARINES.

Handshaking, hugs, backslapping, tail-wagging.
                                                            
KAITLIN hugs COOPER.
                                                            
                       COOPER
Thank you so much for coming. It
really means alot to me.
                                                            
He HUGS his MOTHER, she examines his MEDALION.

KAITLIN bends down and CHECKS OUT the SILVER STUDDED COLLAR
on SOTER.

She compares it to the small diamond ENGAGEMENT RING on her
finger, realizes the COLLAR probably cost more.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
      (stands, to COOPER)
Is he really going home with us?
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
EXT. COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO - DAY
                                                            
A REMOTE COLORADO setting, trees, meadow, POND, mountains.

MRS. COOPER and KAITLIN are seated at a PICNIC TABLE.

COREY and SOTER are in the B.G. playing FRISBEE in the
meadow.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
He sure loves that dog.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
Yeah, I know.
                                                            

27.

A SENSE of slight JEALOUSY.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
You know how much he cares for
you...don't you?
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
Well, I would like to think I do.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
Would you like some more iced tea?
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
Yes, thank you.
                                                            
She fills her glass, turns SERIOUS.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
Katie, I know how much you love
Corey, and I want you to know how
very much I care about you. That's
why I...well...there is something
I feel you need to know.
                                                            
The FRISBEE hits the side of the table.

SOTER picks it up and runs it back to COOPER.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
Corey is our...my...adopted son.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
He...what?...I...I didn't know...
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
Neither does he.
                                                            
They look over him, throwing sticks in the POND for SOTER.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
Jim and I always knew he needed to
be told. I just couldn't find the
right time, something always came
up in his life that made me wait.
And with Jim - gone - it's been
even more difficult.

But now, he's going to
Afghanistan, and, well...I have
decided I WILL tell when he comes
home.
                                                            
They are both STRUCK by the WEIGHT of those words.
                                                            

28.

                       KAITLIN
I understand.

Thank you for telling me.

Can I ask, I mean...
                                                            
COOPER appears and grabs another soda out of the cooler,
then runs off with SOTER.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
Yes, Katie, you can ask.

Corey was abandonded as a baby.

Jim had just started out working
at the fire department, and, as
the new guy, he was assigned duty
on Christmas Eve. They were
expecting a big blizzard that
night.

The station had a dalmation dog,
and Jim had let him out just as it
started to snow.

The dog led Jim to a basket left
by the front entrance to the
firehouse.
                                                            
                       COOPER
      (runs up and grabs
       a piece of
       chicken to share
       with Soter)
This dog is wearing me out!
                                                            
They WAIT until he RUNS OFF.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
He never would have survived that
night. The firemen who worked
there rarely used that front
entrance.

Jim turned him over to the
authorities. And then,
well..since...since we could never
have any children of our own, Jim
started the process of adoption.
                                                            
She begins to get EMOTIONAL.


29.

COOPER returns to the TABLE and sits, grabs the last piece
of CHICKEN.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
      (gets up)
Let's clean up here, you two need
some time together. It's Corey's
last day and he has an early start
tomorrow.
                                                            
They pack up the COOLER and load up everything into the back
of KAITLIN's open top JEEP.
                                                            
SOTER walks off and SITS by the edge of the dirt road.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
      (points to Soter)
What's he doing...sitting there?
                                                            
                       COOPER
      (he's seen it
       before)
That's just what he does.
                                                            
They get into the JEEP and back out onto the road.

COOPER calls to SOTER and he JUMPSs into the back seat with
him.

They drive off.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO
                                                            
 
INT. KAITLIN'S BUNGALOW - NIGHT
                                                            
BEDROOM

COOPER is PACKING his DUFFEL BAG.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
Can I help you?
                                                            
                       COOPER
No, I got it.
                                                            
SOTER is sitting and watching.

He GETS UP and walks out the bedroom DOOR.

KAITLIN watches, FOLLOWS him down the hallway, sees him LAY
DOWN by the front door.
                                                            

30.

                       KAITLIN
      (back in the
       bedroom)
He's lying by the front door. Does
he need to go out?
                                                            
                       COOPER
No Katie, he doesn't. He will be
there in the morning.
                                                            
They get into bed and ROLL into each other's arms.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
Corey, I'm wondering what will
happen with us.
                                                            
                       COOPER
What do you mean?
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
About us, our future together.
What do you think about that?
                                                            
                       COOPER
Well... we're engaged, aren't we?
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
Yes. But as I recall I think I'm
the one who made it happen.
                                                            
                       COOPER
Katie, I'm trying not to think too
much about the future right now,
just...getting through the next
day...and what happens when we get
to Afghanistan.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
I know Corey, I know you are...
But, it's just, well, I need have
to have something to look forward
to...together.
                                                            
COOPER sits up.
                                                            
                       COOPER
Katie, are you asking me for
something...I mean right now...I
don't know if I can...
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
No, Corey, please, don't feel that
way... I'm...it's just I need to
know...you will be gone so long
            (MORE)

31.

                       KAITLIN (cont'd)
and I...
                                                            
                       COOPER
You don't know how I feel about
you? After all this time? What do
you want me to say?
                                                            
He gets out of bed.
                                                            
                       COOPER
Katie, sometimes I wonder what it
is you see in me. I know I'm not
the best at revealing my feelings,
and I don't write to you as much
as I should. Maybe I don't
deserve you.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
Please don't say that. It's not
true. I know you, you are a good
man.
                                                            
He starts putting his clothes on.
                                                            
                       COOPER
Soter sees it.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
What are you doing? Wait!...
Soter?...see's what?
                                                            
                       COOPER
What it is that's wrong with me.

You see how he goes off at night,
alone, away from me.

He knows, but I don't.
                                                            
He grabs his DUFFEL BAG.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
Corey! You don't know what your
dog is thinking! He may have his
own demons.
                                                            
She immediatley REGRETS her words.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
Where are you going? No Corey,
please...wait...
                                                            

32.

He heads for the BEDROOM DOOR.
                                                            
                       COOPER
Katie, I promise when I come home
I will try and do better.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
No Corey...Please !
                                                            
                       COOPER
      (now out the front
       door)
C'mon Soter!
                                                            
ANGLE TO KAITLIN. O.S. we hear the front door shut.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO
                                                            
 
EXT. AFGHANISTAN, HELMAND PROVINCE - DAY
                                                            
COMBAT OUTPOST SHEBA
                                                            
LATE EVENING

Tents. Plywood enclosures. Lots of sandbags.

We see a gaggle of tired MARINES returning from a patrol.

A HUMVEE discharges COOPER and SOTER. A MARINE Captain
approaches.

COOPER salutes.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
Don't salute me out here in the
open Corporal. You just gave a
sniper up in those hills a high
value target.
                                                            
COOPER looks up, expecting a shot at any moment.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
I'm Captain Peterson. Been
expecting you. We've had a long
day. That's your hooch over there
with Corporal Washington. Go get
some rest. You'll meet Sergeant
Benning in the morning, he's our
other dog handler. We've
encountered so many IED's here
that I requested to start running
two dogs on every patrol.
                                                            

33.

                       COOPER
Yes Sir.... Sir, you don't want me
to bunk with the other dog
handler?
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
      (rolls his tired
       eyes)
Benning bunks alone. See you in
the morning for patrol.
                                                            
He turns away.

COOPER starts a salute, then quickly DROPS it.

PETERSON takes a few steps, STOPS.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
Corporal.
                                                            
                       COOPER
Yes Sir.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
This is the real deal. I hope you
trust your dog, and have him under
control. All that stuff you
learned in training about playing
with toys doesn't always cut it
here, and EOD will not always be
with us to confirm a find. You
read me?
                                                            
                       COOPER
Yes Sir.
                                                            
He enters his tent with SOTER.

WASHINGTON is sitting on his cot.

African American, chiseled, calm demeanor, thoughtful,
squared away MARINE.
                                                            
                       COOPER
      (shakes hands)
I'm Corey Cooper. Guess we'll be
bunk mates. I'm from Colorado.
Everybody calls me Coop.
                                                            
                       TEX
      (he's exhausted)
Dwayne Washington, everybody calls
me Tex.
                                                            

34.

                       COOPER
What part of Texas are you from?
                                                            
TEX pulls off his BOOTS, lays back on his cot, still in
uniform.
                                                            
                       TEX
I'm not from Texas. I'm from New
Jersey.
                                                            
COOPER waits for an explanation, doesn't get one.
                                                            
                       TEX
Look Coop, I'm beat. We'll talk in
the morning about things you need
to know around here.
                                                            
COOPER starts stashing his gear, gets ready to crawl into
his cot.

SOTER walks over to TEX, SNIFFS his hand, sits.
                                                            
                       TEX
      (withdraws his
       hand)
I gotta' tell you, I don't much
like dogs.
                                                            
                       COOPER
I know, he can sense that.
                                                            
He sits, starts pulling off his BOOTS.
                                                            
                       TEX
One thing you need to know right
now. Check your boots in the
morning. There's lots of nasty
critters around here. I hate
creepy crawly things.
                                                            
COOPER crawls into his cot, they both nod off.

SOTER turns to walk away from TEX's cot and KNOCKS OVER one
of his BOOTS.

He goes to the TENT ENTRANCE and lays down.
                                                            
LATER THAT NIGHT.

CLOSE UP of SOTER, he is sleeping, suddenly LIFTS and TURNS
his head.

We see a highly poisonous DEATH STALKER SCORPION crawling

35.

along the ground, heading toward TEX's cot

Moves slowly around his boots, CRAWLS INSIDE the one lying
on it's side that SOTER knocked over.

SOTER lays his head down, continuing to STARE at that boot.
                                                            
EARLY NEXT MORNING

TEX and COOPER are awake and getting ready for the day.

TEX starts to put his BOOTS on.

He picks up the one standing upright and SHAKES it out, then
reaches for the one lying on it's side with the SCORPION in
it.

SOTER rushes forward, PICKS IT UP and runs out of the tent.
                                                            
                       TEX
HEY, COME BACK HERE!
                                                            
He and COOPER run out the tent after him.

He runs all through the camp, others JOIN IN.

He JUMPS over a short sandbagged WALL into the COMMAND POST.

CAPT PETERSON and others are pouring over MAPS on a TABLE.

SOTER ducks under the table and KNOCKS it over, runs out the
entrance.

COOPER cuts him off and GRABS his collar.

They TUMBLE to the ground together.

He is finally LEASHED, the BOOT still in his mouth.

TEX runs up, out of breath, SITS down on a couple nearby
sandbags.
                                                            
                       TEX
What the hell got into that dog?
                                                            
                       COOPER
I don't know TEX. He's never done
anything like that before.
                                                            
He WRESTLES the boot from SOTER's mouth, TOSSES it to TEX,
who starts to put it on.

SOTER lurches forward at him, BARKING.

36.


TEX RECOILS and drops the BOOT off to his side.
                                                            
ANGLE DOWN to the boot.

We see the SCORPION exit and scramble away, but they don't.
                                                            
                       COOPER
      (laughs)
I think he's just trying to get
you to like him.
                                                            
In the B.G., behind TEX, we see PETERSON leaning over the
command post WALL, looking down at the BOOT and the RUNNING
SCORPION.

He says nothing.
                                                            
                       TEX
He's got a helluva long way to go.
                                                            
TEX puts on his boot.

COOPER turns to lead SOTER away, runs HEAD-ON into SGT
BENNING and his BELGIAN MALINOIS DOG.

BENNING is a southern boy, with a preppy look, a constant
SMIRK on his face. Exudes ARROGANCE.
                                                            
                       BENNING
That was quite an impressive
performance. What other tricks
can he do?
                                                            
                       COOPER
      (extends his hand)
I'm Corey Cooper, and this is...
                                                            
                       BENNING
      (does not extend
       his hand)
I'm Sergeant Benning...like in
Fort Benning Georgia, named after
my great grandfather. This fine
working dog here is Staff Sergeant
Hercules.
                                                            
                       COOPER
Well...he's a nice looking dog.
                                                            
                       BENNING
Damn right he is, the best dog in
the whole country. Found more
IED's than any other dog. I
            (MORE)

37.

                       BENNING (cont'd)
advanced his training myself.
Didn't havta attend some fancy
dancy new training program.

Ain't that right...HERRR - CUUU -
LEEEZZZ.
                                                            
He BENDS down and RUBS noses with his dog.
                                                            
                       BENNING
      (points at Soter)
The natives round hera don't like
black dogs. Think thez the devil.
(Shoots a glance at Tex)
Don't care much for 'em myself.
                                                            
                       COOPER
I'll be sure to keep that in mind.
                                                            
                       BENNING
You might also be sure to keep
that wild dog of yours from
interfering with mine. I'm up for
early promotion.
                                                            
They both lock eyes.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
      (O.S.)
PATROL! FORM UP ON ME! ON THE
DOUBLE!
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
EXT. PATROL, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN - DAY
                                                            
STRETCH OF VACANT ROAD
                                                            
BENNING, COOPER, and CAPTAIN PETERSON are out in front.

The DOGS are running up the road, SEARCHING.

Round a corner and hit the STENCH of a DEAD DOG off on the
side of the road.

Both dogs STOP in the middle of the road, SNIFF in the
direction of the carcass.
                                                            

38.

                       CAPT PETERSON
Damn! That's a stinky one. And
we have to be downwind wind of the
sonofabitch.
                                                            
HERCULES decides to CONTINUE on.

SOTER sits down.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
      (halts the patrol)
What's going on here?
                                                            
                       COOPER
Sir, he's alerted.
                                                            
                       BENNING
On what? My dog broke off. There
is nothing there.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
Well, Corporal Cooper, what is
your recommendation?
                                                            
                       BENNING
Captain, there is nothing there!
Hercules would have let us know.
You saw what that dog did this
morning. We are sitting ducks out
here! We need to move on!
                                                            
BENNING starts to walk on.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
      (Sees Hercules
       running farther
       away)
Hold on Benning. (to Cooper).
Call your dog in, right now.
                                                            
He does, but SOTER gets up, SPINS around, SITS.

Calls again more FORCEFULLY and he runs back.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
HIT THE DECK!
                                                            
PETERSON begins SHOOTING at the dead dog.

We see bullets KICKING up dirt all around it.

SUDDENLY BLOWS UP.

39.


The smoke clears, BENNING goes RUNNING down the road.
                                                            
                       BENNING
HERCULES! HERCULES! C'MERE BOY!
                                                            
HERCULES runs back, unhurt.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
      (to Cooper)
You can give him his toy now.
                                                            
The PATROL moves on.

TEX comes forward next to COOPER, gives him a big SMILE,
reaches down and pats SOTER on the head.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
EXT. PATROL, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN - DAY
                                                            
SMALL AFGHANI VILLAGE
                                                            
The PATROL is STOPPED in front of a HUT.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
      (to the
       interpretor)
Are you sure this is the place?
                                                            
                       INTERPRETOR
Yes...sure.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
      (to his men)
Okay, we've got orders to find the
guy who lives here and bring him
in for questioning. Sergeant
Benning, I want you to stay here
with your dog, keep an eye on the
place.

Corporal Cooper, bring your dog.

The rest of you spread out, except
you two...come with us.
                                                            
We watch from the outside

Inside, O.S, lots of YELLING in English and Pashto, Soter
BARKING.


40.

CUT TO: A side entrance to the hut and a AFGHANI MALE
running out.

The two MARINES chasing him, followed by SOTER, then COOPER
then PETERSON.

Through a BACK ALLEY, down a SIDE STREET.

Now SOTER close on his HEELS, the two MARINES behind, COOPER
catching up.

OPEN COURTYARD.

The running AFGHANI JUMPS over something (invisible),
disappears around a short WALL.

SOTER JUMPS over the same spot, rounds the WALL and ATTACKS.

The two persuing MARINES are closing in.
                                                            
                       COOPER
      (yells to the
       Marines)
STOP! STOP!
                                                            
They hit the brakes.

COOPER and PETERSON run up.
                                                            
                       COOPER
Do not move.
                                                            
CLOSE UP of one of the MARINES lower leg. It is PRESSED UP
against a STRING of FISHING LINE, taut. He doesn't know it.

O.S. the AFGHANI is under a DOG ATTACK.

COOPER drops to his knees, CRAWLS forward, FINDS the LINE.

He traces it SOFTLY to the MARINE'S calf, who is now
WIDE-EYED.
                                                            
                       COOPER
Back up, slowly. Very, very
slowly.
                                                            
COOPER then follows the LINE to a hidden IED.
                                                            
                       COOPER
      (to Peterson)
Here Sir! It's a kite string IED.
                                                            
O.S. More DOG ATTACK and cries of PAIN.
                                                            

41.

                       CAPT PETERSON
      (to the two
       MARINES)
Step over. Carefully. Go get him.
                                                            
They come back with the AFGHANI in custody, SOTER pulling on
a PANT LEG.

His arms and leg are BLOODIED.

COOPER steps over the KITE STRING and calls off the dog.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
      (into his radio)
Send EOD forward.
                                                            
Gives a THUMBS UP to COOPER.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
EXT. SERIES OF SCREEN SHOTS - DAY
                                                            
AFGHANISTAN, HELMAND PROVINCE
                                                            
1. ROUTINE PATROLS with DOGS and HANDLERS, walking,
searching, interacting with locals.

2. HERCULES alerts on a IED, but it is a FALSE ALARM.

3. COOPER and TEX playing frisbee with SOTER at CAMP SHEBA.

4. SOTER finding an IED, later view of EOD detonating it.

5. PATROL on break by a CANAL. SOTER climbs out of the
WATER, SITS next to TEX who shares some RATIONS.

6. HERCULES gets into a FIGHT with a local dog, BENNING has
to break it up.

7. SOTER and COOPER guarding a suspected INSURGENT while
he's being searched. They find a WEAPON he's hiding.

(BENNING in these scenes is not happy being SHOWN UP).
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. COOPER'S TENT, CAMP SHEBA - NIGHT
                                                            
SOTER on COOPER's cot getting a wellness EXAM.

Jumps down, lies by the TENT OPENING for the night.

42.


TEX is writing a LETTER.
                                                            
                       COOPER
I don't know how you can do that.
                                                            
                       TEX
What?
                                                            
                       COOPER
Write a letter every night.
                                                            
                       TEX
Damn, Coop, I have to. Mom, Dad,
9 brothers and sisters. I have to
keep up with all their letters.
                                                            
                       COOPER
What's it like, having a big
family.
                                                            
                       TEX
Oh Man, it's great. Always
something going on, lots of noise
around the house, everybody's got
different personalities...and Mom
and Dad...well, they just love it.
                                                            
COOPER goes about his business, checking his gear.
                                                            
                       TEX
I know you're an only child. That
has to be good, lots of attention
and all that.
                                                            
                       COOPER
Yeah, I guess. But, well, I don't
always feel like...I deserve it.
                                                            
                       TEX
That why you hardly ever write
home?
                                                            
                       COOPER
I'm just...not good at that.
                                                            
                       TEX
Kaitlin must be one special girl
COOP. She writes to you every
day. Not many would do that
without getting a response. I
sure hope I can find a girl like
her some day.
                                                            

43.

SOTER perks up, decides to get up and go SIT by TEX.
                                                            
                       COOPER
Guess he's not ready to go to
sleep yet.
                                                            
                       TEX
Y'know COOP, look at it this way.
Take Soter, he knew I didn't like
dogs, but he never let that bother
him. He decided...well, he just
figured he would be persistant,
till I gave in. Maybe that's what
Kaitlin is doing as well.
                                                            
                       COOPER
I'm not sure I understand.
                                                            
TEX puts his letter aside, ROLLS into his cot.
                                                            
                       TEX
Maybe you should start giving in
to those who love you.
                                                            
COOPER watches as SOTER goes to his NORMAL SPOT for the
night.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO
                                                            
 
EXT. PATROL, HELMAND PROVINICE - NIGHT
                                                            
DUSK

The patrol is stopped at the EDGE edge of a small VILLAGE.

Lounging around, SMOKING cigarettes.

Their INTERPRETOR is finishing a furtive CONVERSATION with a
LOCAL off in the shadows.
                                                            
                       INTERPRETOR
      (to Peterson)
He say weapons cache, there, that
building. Nobody there now.
                                                            
PETERSON leads the patrol to a small, warehouse-looking
BUILDING.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
Fan out, surround the building.
(To Cooper and Benning). You two
go check it out.
                                                            

44.

BENNING immediately RUNS forward, gung ho.

He KICKS open the door and RUSHES in.

We see an ARMED INSURGENT dart quickly LEFT to RIGHT from
the front anterior room down a HALLWAY.

BENNING drops to his knee, RIFLE shouldered, HERCULES by his
side.

COOPER and SOTER drop down next to him.
                                                            
                       COOPER
You see something?
                                                            
                       BENNING
Thought I saw some movement...off
to the left. I'll go that way,
you take your dog and go right.
                                                            
He WAITS as they move forward first, PRETENDS to be going
left.

COOPER disappears around the CORNER into the dark HALLWAY.

BENNING moves forward to the CORNER, crouches, protected,
PEEKS around the WALL.

COOPER slowly moves along.

SOTER suddenly barks.

STARTLED, COOPER makes the mistake of LOOKING down at the
dog.

A PISTOL appears out of nowhere and is put to COOPER's head.


SOTER makes a move but COOPER commands him to stop.

The INSURGENT walks him down the hallway toward an exit
door.

Along the way THREE other INSURGENTS appear with weapons and
follow.

COOPER looks back for BENNING, but he JERKS his head back to
keep from being seen.

The INSURGENTS and their HOSTAGE burst out the side door,
FIRING indiscriminate.

PETERSON is there.
                                                            

45.

                       CAPT PETERSON
COVER! COVER! HOLD YOUR FIRE!
                                                            
They head toward the open DESERT, firing.

SOTER appears and ATTACKS a straggler, DRAGGING him to the
ground.

PETERSON and a couple MARINES disarm him.

TEX appears and pulls SOTER off, but he BREAKS AWAY, runs
off after COOPER, disappears into the desert night.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
      (A hard look)
You tell me.
                                                            
                       BENNING
It was dark, we got seperated...I
couldn't...
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
Bring your dog. We are going to
track them.
                                                            
PETERSON responds with a very HARD look.
                                                            
EARLY NEXT MORNING - COOPER'S TENT
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
Don't worry Tex, we'll find him.
                                                            
                       TEX
I sure wish we woulda caught up to
them.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
I'm sending extra patrols out
today, and headquarters has been
notified. There'll be an all out
search.
                                                            
                       TEX
I can't believe Benning's dog lost
their trail. He's usually pretty
good at tracking.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
I know. I thought the same thing.
                                                            
TEX looks out the open flaps of the tent.
                                                            

46.

                       TEX
Soter will find him.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO
                                                            
 
EXT. COOPER FAMILY HOME, COLORADO SPRINGS - DAY
                                                            
BACK PATIO.

MRS. COOPER and KAITLIN have just finished LUNCH.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
It's just been...difficult. He
never writes to me. I've gotten a
couple phone calls, but that's
it...since he's been gone.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
I know, Katie, same with me. I
think I know why.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
I wish I did. I can't go on like
this much longer.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
It's my fault. I know it is.
                                                            
She FILLS her tea glass, composes herself.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
You know that Corey was adopted.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
Yes, and I almost let it out the
last night he was here. But I
didn't.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
After Jim turned him over to the
authorities he started the process
of adoption, but I was...I had a
difficult time...going along with
it.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
Why?
                                                            

47.

                       MRS. COOPER
Jim wanted a child so bad, but I
couldn't...conceive. I think I
resented him wanting someone
else's child.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
I understand.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
So, at first I just wasn't really
there for him...emotionally.
We...I...didn't...couldn't...connect.
                                                            
She grabs a napkin.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
But then, when Jim was killed in
the fire, I realized what I was
missing, what a wonderful boy he
was, and how much he wanted my
acceptance and attention, that I
needed him in my life. So I made
a complete turnaround, and I
couldn't love him more.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
I'm sure he knows it.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
I hope so Katie.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
Corey told me about his Dad being
killed, but he never talked about
it again.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
He had just turned eight. It was
so hard on him. He loved his Dad
being a fireman, going to the
station, the fire trucks. He
really liked playing with their
dog. The same dog who...found
him.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
I can see why you are so concerned
about telling him. There is so
much for him to deal with.
                                                            

48.

                       MRS. COOPER
I worry about him every day. I
want him home safe. And his dog.
I really hope nothing happens to
him, Corey would be devastated.
                                                            
KAITLIN reflects on this, thinking maybe he cares more for
the dog.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
      (she sees it)
Katie, you know he loves you. He
just has to find a way to express
it.

I truly believe you are the most
important thing in his life.

You just need to be patient.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
      (sighs)
I'll try.

You know, there is something about
his dog. I can't quite put my
finger on it.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
What do you mean?
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
He goes off at night, by himself.
Sleeps by the door.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
Yes, I remember at the picnic we
had, when he sat by the roadside.
A bit strange.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
I don't think Corey fully
understands it either. There must
be something...he's looking
for...or missing.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
      (ponders)
I think I know how he feels.
                                                            
They both are quiet for a minute, in their own thoughts.
                                                            

49.

                       MRS. COOPER
My fear is that Corey remembers
those early years. I sometimes
think he knows...that I am not his
real mother.
                                                            
KAITLIN also grabs a napkin.
                                                            
                       MRS. COOPER
What will happen when I tell him.
Will he abandon me?
                                                            
                                         CUT TO
                                                            
 
INT. INSURGENT HIDEOUT, AFGHANISTAN - NIGHT
                                                            
HOT, SWEATY NIGHT.

COOPER's ankle is CHAINED to a wall, hands HANDCUFFED.

He is no longer in uniform, they have dressed him in
traditional clothes.

Struggling to EAT a small amount of RICE from a plate. He
is BRUISED.

GUARDS are milling about the SAFE HOUSE.

IN THE DISTANCE.

A FIREFIGHT erupts. MARINE PATROL has run into SAFE HOUSE
INSURGENT SENTRIES.

CHAOS inside the SAFE HOUSE. They want to move their
PRISONER.

Some take up defensive positions in the STREET, others run
out the back to bring up a small TRUCK.

ZOOM to SOTER lying and hiding, a few feet from the legs of
the running INSURGENTS.

INTERCUT

MARINE PATROL engaged with the INSURGENTS.

INSIDE a single GUARD is fumbling with KEYS to unlock the
LEG SHACKLE. COOPER whistles. The GUARD rifle butts him in
the RIBS.

MARINE PATROL making progress toward the SAFE HOUSE.


50.

SOTER flies in through an OPEN WINDOW. A menacing GROWL.
The guard spins, TERRIFIED, steps back, POINTS his RIFLE.
COOPER scoots forward and TRIPS him backward. SOTER lunges,
catches the GUARD dead center in the CROTCH.

MARINE PATROL stalls, heavy resistance.

The SCREAMING GUARD drops his GUN, keys go flying, COOPER
grabs the GUN, struggles to handle it.

Another GUARD appears, COOPER drops him.

MARINE PATROL getting closer, engaging the INSURGENTS
outside the SAFE HOUSE.

SOTER presses his attack. The KEYS are just out of COOPER's
reach on the floor.
                                                            
                       COOPER
SOTER! OFF! OFF!
                                                            
He breaks off.

While COOPER is covering the door the injured GUARD dives
out the open window.
                                                            
                       COOPER
      (pointing to the
       keys)
SOTER! FETCH! FETCH!
                                                            
SOTER is confused, brings him the empty rice plate.
                                                            
                       COOPER
      (tosses it aside)
NO BOY! THERE! FETCH!
                                                            
Still handcuffed. Tosses SMALL STONES at the keys.

SOTER gets the point, finally finds and brings them.

He almost UNLOCKS the shackle just as another GUARD appears.

SOTER attacks, COOPER is free now, can't shoot, rifle butts
him out.

Goes to the WINDOW, it is clear, they scramble out, but he
can't hold on to the GUN and drops it back inside.

He tries to reach back in to get it, another GUARD appears,
spraying BULLETS.


51.

He retreats, heads for the back of the house, away from the
INTENSE FIREFIGHT in front.
                                                            
Two INSURGENTS who were guarding the TRUCK are now shooting
back at some of the approaching MARINES.

He and SOTER manage to jump in the truck.

But now the MARINES and the INSURGENTS are fully engaged
behing the HOUSE, COOPER is caught in the CROSSFIRE.

BULLETS hit and spark off the front of the TRUCK as he guns
it backwards out of there.

WIDE VIEW. The MARINES overtake the SAFE HOUSE, killing and
capturing INSURGENTS.
                                                            
SHORT TIME LATER. ALMOST DAYLIGHT.

The TRUCK engine is SMOKING. They abandon it, jump in the
ditch just as a TRUCKLOAD of ARMED INSURGENTS speeds by.

They head back in the direction they came, come to a CULVERT
pipe under the road and crawl inside.
                                                            
                       COOPER
It's going to be a long day Boy.

I don't even know where we are.
                                                            
He settles in, SOTER by his side. Tries to yank the
HANDCUFFS apart, no luck.
                                                            
                                         DISSOLVE TO:
                                                            
 
INT. KAITLIN'S BUNGALOW, COLORADO SPRINGS - DAY
                                                            
NIGHT, BEDSIDE

Kaitlin, teary eyed, finishes up a letter.

Seals it in a envelope, goes to place a STAMP, but
hesitates.

Decides to put in the drawer of her NIGHTSTAND, underneath a
PICTURE of COREY and SOTER.

Rolls back into bed, wide awake, CRYING.
                                                            
 

52.

INT. CULVERT PIPE - DAY
                                                            
ALMOST DUSK
                                                            
COOPER slowly awakes, looks around, no SOTER, frantic.

We hear a truck full of INSURGENTS stop on the road above,
voices and chatter.

He eases along the PIPE toward the opening.

Looks down the deep DITCH leading into the PIPE, we see
SOTER sitting, looking away off to the horizon.
                                                            
                       COOPER
      (tries a loud
       whisper)
Soter, COME!
                                                            
The INSURGENTS disembark, run to SOTER. Have him SURROUNDED
on both sides of the deep drainage ditch.

SOTER doesn't move, continues to look toward the HORIZON.
Looks up, WAGS his tail - he hears something.

CUT TO a US MH-60 HELICOPTER way off in the far distance,
same direction SOTER is looking.

The armed INSURGENTS are confused, talking, pointing at the
dog.

CUT TO INTERIOR HELICOPTER. A CREWMAN on BINOCULARS.
                                                            
                       AH-60 CREWMAN
      (in his mic)
I see a black dog. ROLL IN!
                                                            
INSURGENT LEADER steps forward, points his GUN at SOTER.

COOPER rushes from the PIPE, yelling, puts his HANDCUFFED
HANDS in the air.

They rush to GRAB him, start DRAGGING him up out of the
DITCH.

HELICOPTER. All hell breaks loose as the AH-60 unloads along
the bank with ROCKETS and 30MM CHAIN GUN.

INSURGENTS SCATTER.
                                                            
                       COOPER
SOTER COME !
                                                            

53.

They hit the ground and CRAWL together back into the CULVERT
PIPE.

The HELICOPTER presses its deadly attack.

LATER.

We see COOPER and SOTER being loaded into the HELICOPTER,
taking off amid dead INSURGENTS.
                                                            
 
INT. COOPER'S TENT, CAMP SHEBA - NIGHT
                                                            
TEX is sitting on his cot.

SOTER and COOPER enter.

His face is SWOLLEN, BRUISED, broken RIBS wrapped.
                                                            
                       TEX
So they finally cut you loose.
                                                            
TEX gives him a HUG, he WINCES in pain.
                                                            
                       COOPER
Yeah, they wanted to send me home,
but I talked them out of it...with
Captain Peterson's help.
                                                            
                       TEX
I sure am glad to see you.
Everyone's been talking about it,
what happened, and what Soter did.
                                                            
                       COOPER
He saved my life, for sure.
                                                            
Sits on his cot, SOTER by his side.
                                                            
                       COOPER
I heard Sergeant Benning made it
out of there okay...the night I
was captured...is that right?
                                                            
                       TEX
Well, yeah, he did.
                                                            
                       COOPER
I looked back for him but couldn't
see him anywhere. I thought maybe
they got him too.
                                                            
Lays down on his cot.
                                                            

54.

                       TEX
You better get healed up fast
Coop. Things have been getting
really hot around here, and we've
been ordered to step up our
patrols.
                                                            
                                         DISSOLVE TO
                                                            
 
EXT. PATROL, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN - DAY
                                                            
A FEW DAYS LATER
                                                            
ON PATROL, VACANT STRETCH OF ROAD.

BENNING is way out in front (again), PUSHING his dog on.

SOTER is working a little FARTHER out than usual, not as far
as HERCULES.

HERCULES stops in the road, SNIFFS.
                                                            
                       BENNING
Captain! I think we've got
something here!
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
      (another false
       alarm?)
Tex, go forward and check it out.
                                                            
TEX hustles forward.

HERCULES breaks off and moves off down the road.

SOTER comes up and ALERTS on the spot HERCULES passed over.

The DISTANCE between the main PATROL and COOPER to TEX,
BENNING and the two dogs has INCREASED.

A MORTER EXPLODES in between them.

TAKE COVER. RIFLE FIRE.

TEX has been HIT by the MORTAR and is DOWN.

BENNING takes cover, calls in HERCULES, leashes him.

DOWNRANGE. SOTER stops, sits, looks to the side of the road.

BENNING looks back, sees a smokey CHAOTIC scene, TEX lying
in the road.

55.


He turns and starts SHOOTING at the ground in front of
SOTER, trying to detonate the IED.

A hidden INSURGENT opposite SOTER thinks he is being SHOT at
by BENNING. He POPS UP, shooting.

SOTER breaks off, ATTACKS, flushes him out into the open.

BENNING drops him after a short engagement.

CUT TO the MARINES, engaged in a FIREFIGHT.

BACK TO SOTER. He goes back to ALERT on the IED.

BENNING shoots at him again, KICKS up dirt.

SOTER has enough, RUNS OFF down the road, out of danger.

The AMBUSH is over.

PETERSON is screaming for a MEDIVAC over the radio, wounded
are being treated.

COOPER and another MARINE rush to TEX.

HUMVEES, TRUCKS, MEDIVAC chopper arrive.

PETERSON directs two chopper MEDICS to TEX.
                                                            
                       COOPER
C'mon Tex, hang in there. You can
make it.
                                                            
                       TEX
Soter...is he...okay...
                                                            
COOPER looks down the road, no sign of him.
                                                            
                       COOPER
Yeah Tex, he's fine. You just
take care of yourself.
                                                            
TEX pulls COOPER down, WHISPERS in his ear.

He is carried away to the CHOPPER.

COOPER takes off down the road for SOTER.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
COOPER! GET BACK HERE! WE HAVE
WOUNDED TO EVACUATE!
                                                            

56.

HUMVEES, TRUCKS departing.

COOPER runs behind the last TRUCK, tosses his WEAPON in.

Takes of his VEST, strips off his UNIFORM SHIRT, tosses it
to the side of the road.

Pulled inside the TRUCK, speeds away...looking back.
                                                            
                                         DISSOLVE TO
                                                            
 
EXT. AMBUSH SITE, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN - NIGHT
                                                            
STAR FILLED NIGHT.

SOTER slowly making his way along the road, STOPPING,
SNIFFING, CAUTIOUS, a BREEZE in his face.

We follow until he comes cross COOPER'S UNIFORM SHIRT.

He SNIFFS, wags his tail, LIES DOWN on the SHIRT.

O.C. We hear a group of INSURGENT MEN approaching.

SOTER'S ears are up.

CLOSER and CLOSER.

SOTER does not want to leave.

He's SPOTTED, they SHOOT, he runs off.

INSURGENTS find the SHIRT, examine it, toss it into the
DITCH.

Slowly DRIFTS AWAY away in the water.
                                                            
                                         DISSOLVE TO
                                                            
 
INT. COOPER'S TENT, CAMP SHEBA - NIGHT
                                                            
TEX's cot is empty.

COOPER can't sleep. He's finishes writting a LETTER, pulls
on his PANTS and BOOTs

CUT TO: BENNING'S TENT.

He's asleep. COOPER enters.

HERCULES is lying on a empy cot, RAISES his head in

57.

recognition.

COOPER's hand on BENNING's THROAT, awakes in SHOCK.
                                                            
                       COOPER
You better damn well hope nothing
happens to my dog.
                                                            
                       BENNING
      (grabs his forearm)
You Sonofabitch! You'll pay for
this...I outrank you!
                                                            
THE FIGHT IS ON.

HERCULES scrambles out the door.

CRASHING around the tent.

BENNING tries a couple DIRTY moves, COOPER blocks them.

CUT TO: TWO MARINES in the nearest tent, step outside and
hear the fight, SMILE, go back inside.

BACK TO The Fight. COOPER has him PINNED down.
                                                            
                       COOPER
Why didn't you just shoot him, if
you hate him that much?
                                                            
                       BENNING
Didn't want to leave
any...evidence
                                                            
                       COOPER
Tex saw what you did.
                                                            
                       BENNING
He's dead. You have no witness.
                                                            
COOPER grabs a DOG LEASH, HOG TIES him.
                                                            
                       BENNING
I'll have you courtmartialed for
this.
                                                            
                       COOPER
I don't care.
                                                            
THE NEXT MORNING
                                                            
CAMP SHEBA "GRAVEYARD".


58.

RIFLES stuck in the ground by their bayonet, helmets on top,
dog tags.

COOPER KNEELS next to one, TAPS a makeshift wooden CROSS
into the ground.

ZOOM. Written on the horizontal cross piece is CPL DWAYNE
DALLAS WASHINGTON.

Written underneath on the vertical piece, beneath his middle
name, "TEX"

CAPTAIN PETERSON drives up in a HUMVEE.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
I'm sorry Coop. He was a good
MARINE. One of the best.
                                                            
                       COOPER
I can't believe he's gone. He
was...more than a friend.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
All the units in the area have
been notified to look for SOTER.
C'mon, jump in. Let's go find
him.
                                                            
They pass BENNING walking with HERCULES.

He has a full DUFFLEBAG slung over his shoulder.

A BLACK EYE and SPLIT LIP.

GLARES at COOPER.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
He came to see me this morning.
                                                            
                       COOPER
      (oh shit)
Captain, sir, look I ...
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
Sergeant Benning doesn't work here
anymore.
                                                            
A MARINE stops their HUMVEE, hands PETERSON a piece of
paper.
                                                            
                       CAPT PETERSON
Your dog has been found.
                                                            

59.

SPEED off in a cloud of DUST.
                                                            
LATER
                                                            
HUMVEE POV. Ahead is a whole unit of MARINES with VEHICLES
stopped.

SOTER is off to the left side holding an AFGHANI up against
a wall.

The MARINE UNIT'S LEADER is out in front, next to his
AFGHANI INTERPRETOR, and a MARINE with a hand held
MINESWEEPER BOMB DETECTOR.

PETERSON and COOPER stop at a distance, get out.
                                                            
                       UNIT LEADER
      (yells)
We found him like this. He won't
let us come near. We swept as
much of the area as we could and
it's clear.
                                                            
COOPER approaches SOTER.

He doesn't budge and STARES intently at the AFGHANI.
                                                            
                       UNIT LEADER
We need to get this guy searched
and move the hell outa' here.
                                                            
                       COOPER
      (pats Soter on the
       head)
Easy boy, good boy. You stay.
                                                            
He searches the AFGHANI, then notices something.

Picks up one of his HANDS, SMELLS it. Looks him in the eye
and he SMILES.

COOPER steps back, senses heightened.
                                                            
                       COOPER
I smell diesel fuel on his hand.
                                                            
                       UNIT LEADER
He told our interpretor he's just
a farmer.
                                                            
COOPER looks at SOTER, still on full ALERT.

Looks back to the AFGHANI, sees MOVEMENT, looks down at his

60.

FOOT.

ZOOM: We see his FOOT slowly rising off of a PRESSURE
DETONATED IED.

COOPER DIVES toward SOTER.
                                                            
                       COOPER
IED !!
                                                            
EXPLOSION.

Huge CLOUD of SMOKE and DUST, obscures the entire scene.
                                                            
                                         DISSOLVE TO
                                                            
 
INT. ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETARY, CHAPEL - DAY
                                                            
PREACHER at the PULPIT.

FLAG-drapped CASKET in the F.G.

COMMANDER DAVIS, MRS. COOPER, KAITLIN are seated off to the
side of the DIAS.
                                                            
                       PREACHER
...and we command the soul of this
fine young man...loyal, brave,
outstanding Marine, to Your
Everlasting Kingdom. In the name
of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
                                                            
KAITLIN at the PULPIT.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
I would like to read a letter from
Corey that he wrote to me, the day
before he...was killed.

"My Dearest Katie, It is the
middle of the night and I cannot
sleep. I lost Soter today. I
don't know if he is dead or alive.

We were ambushed on patrol. He
had gone too far ahead of me and
we got cut off from each other. He
ran off, I didn't know why at
first, he is not a coward. But
then, I found out what really
happened. I have to wait till
morning to go look for him.

            (MORE)

61.

                       KAITLIN (cont'd)
I wonder, is he out there, alone,
looking for me right now?

As I sit here, overcome with
worry, I think about the impact
Soter has had on my life. He's
taught me the value of loyalty,
patience, discipline. He's made me
a better man.

You have seen how he will sit
alone, looking for some thing, or
some one, that he must care about
very much.

I see this in me as well. I've
been searching for something I
know is missing from my life,
never really fully trusting in
anyone. Soter has taught me what
the meaning of trust really is.

I don't want to spend the rest of
my life sitting by the roadside,
looking out into the world for
what I'm missing. I can only hope
Soter finds what he's lost in his
life, that has hurt him so deeply.

I need to tell my mother how much
I love her, how much she means to
me. I will give in to her love,
enjoy every minute of it, and give
back to her all that she deserves.


I also realize that you have
become the most important thing in
my life. You have filled my
emptiness, and I want to spend the
rest of my life together with you.


I want, more than anything, to
marry you when I come home. I pray
you will have me. I miss you.

All my love,
Corey
                                                            
She walks to the CASKET, puts her hand upon it.
                                                            

62.

                       KAITLIN
I love you Corey, and I always
will.
                                                            
COMMANDER DAVIS takes the PULPIT.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
Corporal Cooper and Sergeant Soter
were a very special team, as I
knew they would be.

I first met Soter when I was home
on Christmas leave in Reno Nevada
a few years ago. I was introduced
to him by my former high school
history teacher. He named him
Soter, after a famous sentry dog
in ancient Greece who had saved
the country from a devasting
attack by the Persian army.

Soter had been abandoned by the
roadside when still a puppy. He
was adopted by my friend along
with some other's who took great
care of him. But every day, at
about the same time he had been
abandoned, he would return to that
very same spot by the road and sit
there, waiting for his owner to
return. The finest example of
loyalty I have ever experienced.

Together Soter and Corporal Cooper
served with honor and distinction
in a very hostile environment.
They saved many, many lives, and
Soter more than lived up to his
namesake.

And now, I would like you all to
meet a very special dog.
                                                            
He MOTIONS to the FOYER of the CHAPEL.

A FEMALE MARINE DOG HANDLER leads SOTER down the AISLE.

He is WOUNDED and BANDAGED. There is a PURPLE HEART slung
over his neck.

They stop next to the CASKET.

SOTER tugs at the LEASH and SNIFFS the edge of the FLAG.
                                                            

63.

                       LTCOL DAVIS
This is Sergeant Soter, United
States Marine Corps, Retired.

(turns to KAITLIN)

Kaitlin, it was Corey's last wish
that you have his dog, should he
survive.

I have before me a directive
signed by the Secretary of the
Navy conveying ownership to you.

Will you, on behalf of a grateful
nation, accept ownership of this
fine Naval Expeditionary Dog?
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
Yes, I will.
                                                            
The DOG HANDLER has to pull SOTER away from SNIFFING the
CASKET.

When he is next to KAITLIN his demeanor changes, he likes
her.
                                                            
                       LTCOL DAVIS
      (O.S.)
Semper FI. Always Faithful.
                                                            
THAT NIGHT
                                                            
 
INT. KAITLIN'S BUNGALOW - NIGHT
                                                            
KAITLIN is ready for bed. SOTER is there.

She gets into BED and sees him LEAVE the room. She follows.

He LIES DOWN by the front door.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
See you in the morning, Soter.
                                                            
LATER

KAITLIN is lying awake, CRYING.

ANGLE to the bedroom DOOR.

SOTER is quietly sitting, watching, listening.


64.

MORNING

KAITLIN awakes, eyes RED and SWOLLEN.

ROLLS OVER, out of bed.

Her FEET hit SOTER lying on the floor, startling both of
them.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
What are you doing here boy? Did
you decide to stay with me?
                                                            
SOTER jumps up with his FRONT FEET on her LAP, tail WAGGING.

She CUPS his head in her hands.
                                                            
                       KAITLIN
Have you finally found what you
are looking for?
                                                            
She HUGS him, they turn CHEEK to CHEEK facing the camera,
SMILING.

FREEZE FRAME

CREDITS
                                                            


THE END


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