Eight years ago
The small young woman sat in the cargo hold with seven large crates that contained the next month’s supply to the unit that was actively deployed in the African jungles. She was also to be dropped off at the site they were using to lead a team of other scientists to find the origin of the virus she was deemed an expert on. She had been groomed from a young teen to do this by her processor who was the only one who believed she could find it. They had been looking for years be the time, and she was hopeful but didn’t understand the faith he had in her. No one had that much faith in her before. She was nervous about being in a new place, but the feeling was more the adenine rush of knowing she was finally free. She was free from the toxic grasp of her mother who had instilled nothing but a lingering doubt about everything she had ever done. The more the young woman had accomplished in her twenty years, the more her mother tried to undermine it.
The woman thought of when she had graduated college in a spectacularly short amount of time, only six months after she had left the confines of high school, her mother had said she couldn’t have really done any of it and she had probably paid someone off for a fake diploma. Even though the ceremony was held at the university with the staff present her mother droned on how her daughter wasn’t anything special. When six months after that she had been presented with two of her master’s degrees it was a repeat of the first ceremony, and afterward, her mother continued to show her apathy to the young woman who now at eighteen was one of the leading scientific minds of the area. No matter who said it, or how many awards she received her mother always found her weak spot and continued to cut her down to even smaller bits of herself.
By the time she graduated from medical school she didn’t even tell her parents she had. She knew better, and the small amount of time she had spent away preparing herself for the challenges of the future of a new country and way of life, she had grown as a person. One person had believed in her, her boss now, he was sitting two seats over against the side of the plane now sleeping. He was the only one who believed she was the answer to all the questions they had come up with in the past thirty years. She hoped she could live up to his faith in her. She just really wanted someone to believe in her.
The plane landed hard and what seemed in the middle of an open field as she got up and looked out of the bay doors that had slowly opened. The landscape was so different than anything she had seen before. She was in awe as she looked out. Her new life was going to begin here. Everything was going to change just as the older man standing next to her had said. He looked at her and smiled his kind smile as he gave her the low down of where they were and how long it would take to reach camp. She barely paid attention to him as he was talking. She was to busy focused on everything else around her. She was home, finally.
The jeeps were loaded up as well as the covered vehicles that were there to bring the supplies to the camp. She was surprised that it was only four of them plus the three jeeps, what she wasn’t surprised was the outriders they had as if the cargo was indeed the most precious things instead of food, water, and medical supplies. She remembered where they were and changed her mind, the idea of the outriders was probably the smartest thing. She was hopeful that the people at the camp wouldn’t mind her there. She had heard of horror stories of certain military members taking an instant dislike to doctors like herself. She wasn’t here to make friends. She was here to do a job. That was what she kept telling herself anyway. She hoped she could make a friend or two as well, secretly.
They drew closer to the camp, and she could see her first glimpse of her new home for the next nine months. It wasn’t much. A simple camp sight with four large tents and three smaller versions as well. She could feel her spirits soar as they approached. Her boss got out of the jeep, and she stood in his shadow as soon as she got out herself, still in shock and awe of the natural beauty of the jungle.
“Hey, boss!”, she heard a group of men say as they walked up to him.
“Hiya guys.”, CJ said back. “I brought a few presents.”
“More food?”, one asked, “Please we are almost out, and well the village helps out, but we have no idea what they are really bringing.”
“Yes, Date, I brought more food.”, Cj said chuckling. “I am just dropping things off right now. I won’t be staying. I have a few meetings a little further south, but I do have some important cargo for you guys.”
“What is it this time?”, one of the guys asked. “More testing equipment?”
“Sort of.”, Cj said as he moved to show everyone the young woman standing in back of him. “This is the doctor who will be running the test, may I present Dr. Kit Johnson.”
“That’s our new doctor?”, one of the guys asked with such disappointment that she felt like she was slapped across the face.
“I am.”, she said after she cleared her throat.
“That can’t be our new doctor.”, another one of the guys said, “She looks like a little kid.”
“Guys.”, Cj started but was stopped by her placing her hand on his arm.
“It’s okay Cj.”, she said as she looked at the guys standing before her, “Where is the personal tent so I can stow my things.”
“Sweetheart we were not expecting you.”, One of the older men said as he stepped closer. Though his words came across harsh he had kind eyes she thought to herself. “We only have one bunk open, and it is in our tent.”
“Wonderful.”, She muttered to herself. She looked up at them in front of her. “That’s fine. I’ll hang a sheet or something. Just show me where.”
“This will be fun.”, one of the other guys said sarcastically as she was led away from them by the one man who seemed partly nice in the camp.
“Cj where did you find her? Preschool?”, one of the leaders of the team asked not quietly, and she was still in earshot.
“Watch it, Oda.”, CJ said clearly. “That girl is the only hope of this project ever working. At twenty she is more than qualified to run this camp.”
“You are supposed to run this camp.”, one of the guys responded.
“I can’t do it all, Mitsunari. She is the future of viral research. Give her a chance before you write her off. Give her some time as well. As you might expect this is her first deployment. She will need a few days to find her feet. Give her that.”, Cj said. “She is good, and she will bring achievements to you all if you just let her.”
“You have a lot of faith in a child, CJ,” Kenshin said.
“I have known her since she was nothing but a child really. I met her years ago and was amazed at the way her mind worked. If anyone can find what we are looking for it is her. I gave her all the resources I could to train her and to teach her now is her chance to fly or drown. That will depend on the people around her. You were all hand selected to make sure she had the chance to fly. She is really Pandora, and you all are her box. Keep her safe otherwise she could destroy us all.”, CJ stated as he walked back to the jeep. “I will be back in a few weeks to check in.”
“Well, this is going to be interesting.”, Nobunaga said as he looked over to the tent she had just been led to by Shingen.
“We shouldn’t leave him alone with her.”, Yukimura said as he started to head to the tent.
“I’d like to hear some of her ideas.”, Sasuke said as well.
“you really think CJ meant any of it?”, Masamune asked as he looked at the tent.
“He very well might believe it, but I don’t see how she could do anything remarkable.”, Mitsuhide said. “she looks like she still is that child CJ was talking about.”
“She looks nice.”, Mitsunari stated.
“She looks like trouble.”, Ieyasu stated.
“Looks like we have to watch her.”, Hideyoshi said as he looked towards the tent as well, “Kind of like babysitting how fun.” Hideyoshi walked toward the ten as only Mitsuhide was left standing there thinking that maybe she would entertain the group for a bit.
Two months Later…
She was looking over her journal that she had started the day she arrived. She was in her bunk alone, as everyone else was enjoying the care boxes they had received from loved ones back home in the states. As usual, she hadn’t received anything. She didn’t even stay for that crate to be opened and had left to go be alone. No one seemed to care if she was there or not anyways.
The place is absolutely beautiful. The sounds of the jungle are ones that I could get used to every day. The camp isn’t as big as I thought it would be, but it is still a good size. The equipment is outdated, but it will be a good jumping off point in the research once I figure out how to use it. I am looking forward to the next few days of getting to know everyone. I hope they stop looking at me like I will be the one to destroy everything. Hideyoshi wants to go over the safety rules in the morning. Sounds like a plan.
I was bitten by five hundred mosquitoes today, I think. Why do they not bite anyone else here? I should ask. The equipment is going to be a problem, I think. It is older than most of the guys here, and I can only use one piece at a time instead of having multiple tests running because of the drain on the power generators. The other scientist still look at me like I am an alien or something when I ask a question. No one really talks to me as they stay in their own packs. Maybe one day.
The village is beautiful, surprisingly. They seem to like us here, and for that I am grateful. I may not understand what they say some of the time, but they seem to accept me at face value. I spent the day going around meeting everyone and trying to grasp the language as they were trying to teach it to me. I think I should be able to as long as I go there a few times a week. As for the camp and the testing, nothing is really happening here. Everyone is always so busy, but nothing is ever done, really. Next week I get my first phone call back home. I am looking forward to that, that says a lot.
We only get ten minutes on the sat phone every two weeks. The guys all seemed so happy after calling that it got my hopes up as well. Mom hung up on me, twice. When I called Dave, he handed the phone to his wife who told me I shouldn’t call again. I shouldn’t call any of them as they would have to choose their mother or their sister, she hung up too. I am not surprised that they chose mom. The village is a nice walk in the mornings, and I am starting to grasp what they are saying more and more every day. I spend all my free time there as I have a lot of it with the fact I can’t do much in a day due to the equipment. I blew a fuse the other day and had Kenshin nearly blow up at me. They don’t care about the research or much of anything but their groups.
I hate this place. Well, I hate the camp. Nothing goes right, and it is always my fault. Everyone looks at me like I am an idiot for trying to do everything, but no one seems to understand at this point it is my everything. I gave up on calling back home. The idea that I just posted my phone code on the bulletin board so someone could use it came to me while I was trying to be nice. They can’t even realize I am trying to be nice, I got yelled at for posting it by Hideyoshi. When I said I had no one to call, I got the looks of pity I dread more than anything else. I went to the village for the rest of the day then got yelled at again for coming back to the camp past dark. I can’t stand this place, and I just want to leave.
Why can no one see me? It is like I don’t even speak any more to anyone. They all do their own thing with the patrols, and I do my work and set off to the village. I come and go as I please for the most part, but the tribe’s elder makes two warriors walk me back to the camp if it is going to be dark soon. I can speak the language enough that they can talk to me. They at least talk to me. I can talk back, and I feel like I am supposed to be there. I really like it there. I don’t even try at the camp anymore. A few weeks ago when the month’s supplies came in, I wanted to ask them to take me to the plane, but I didn’t. Cj believes in me. I will keep pushing but the simple things like the care packages the guys got from their families back home, it nearly broke my heart again. Why can’t I have a typical family? Why can’t I have just one friend who cared enough to send me something? Who cares about me?
Thanksgiving is coming up in a few weeks. The guys seem really excited about it. I don’t understand why. It isn’t like this is home with their families or anything remotely fun. It sucks here. They all hurry up and finish food like it is a race, and then they talk amongst themselves like no one else is there. I am really not sure if nine months is ever going to make it here. I spend as much time in the village as I can. The medicine woman has been teaching me all the remedies she has as well as I have been showing her somethings as well. The tribe’s elder has taken a liking to me according to the warrior they usually send to escort me to and from the village. The tribe seems to care more about me then my own unit does. I think I care for them the same way.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. She used to force us to say something we were thankful for every year. I am thankful for the village. The tribe is the most important thing here. I have given up trying to talk to anyone here unless I have to. I do my work that I schedule out, and then I leave. If I could, I would do it backward and live with the tribe and just come here to work. Date said he is preparing the dinner of a lifetime, but I think I will skip it if I can. Thanksgiving is meaningless if you have nothing to be thankful for in the end, right? Later they will be coming with the new supply truck, and the guys will get their boxes from their families. Why does it always hurt when I see them happy? I hate it here, and I want to go home. This was a mistake much like everything in my life it was a mistake.
She knew she couldn’t get out of the dinner as the guards have said it was mandatory. She didn’t even want to eat as she curled up on her bunk and prayed, they didn’t come for her. They did of course. She went to the mess tent and sat down and had a plate set down in front of her by the chef himself. “You need to eat. I think you have lost more weight than all of us here.”, He said as he walked away. She knew she had lost weight but didn’t think anyone else even noticed her. She picked at her food and toward the end, Hideyoshi stood up and started his speech about how he was grateful for this or that, they all started to do it. She got up and emptied her tray and walked out of the tent. She walked past the bunk tent and still went further away. It was when she had climbed a rock and sat that the tears fell. Everything she had held in her mind for not only the two months of hell here but for the last few years came out. She was full on sobbing and wanting something to take the pain away she had in her heart and mind. It wasn’t until she felt the arms around her that she knew she wasn’t alone on the rock.
“What is your issue, doc?”, she heard in her ear, but she couldn’t tell who exactly it was.
“Nothing. I just need some time.”, she choked out.
“Take all the time you need. When you want to talk, I will be right here.”, The voice said again behind her. She turned to see who it was and was surprised more than anything. It made her cry even harder, and he just sat there waiting for her to talk after she got it all out.
He had been watching for this moment for the past few weeks though he wasn’t going to say anything to anyone else about it. It was a rite of passage though a cruel one to see how long a recruit can survive without breaking down. She had gone longer than anyone had thought and he was pleased he had not misjudged the spunky little doctor. They all had watched her fade and become distant over the course of the two months. She had never lost her dignity though, and she had continued to do her work though limited as she was. She held her head high every day though she hated it there and they all knew it was partly their fault.
She continued to sob in front of him, and he realized it was so much more than just the situation here that she was trying to force out. “Doc, it is okay.”, He said as he reached out and she clung to him as if he was a lifeline. She began to speak, and he realized what he thought had been correct. Everything came out of her mouth as if she had been waiting for just one person to listen to her. He now wished they hadn’t pushed the game on her so much or hard, though it would prepare her to stand on her own two feet there it was only she had been playing that particular game her whole life. Everything made sense to him then. The reason she never got anything, the reason she didn’t call home, the reason she went to the village and stayed for so long. She had no one except CJ. It was then he got an idea in his head as he reached out his hand to her and though it was probably a reflex she did as well. When their hands met it sealed an unspoken pact between the two for the rest of their lives.