2-6: Crimson vs. Ivory, the Aftermath
“He would have tortured them.”
Catherine’s eyes widened. A soldier from the Ivory Army was talking in front of her, with Red sitting on the ground nearby, covered in bandages. As was expected, the young general had sustained a significant amount of damage during the recent battle: bullets that hit him, slashes that connected, along with Zack’s electric shocks and small bruises that he got from getting knocked back a few times. However, because he had the power of the general serum within him, simply bandaging him up was more than enough. Catherine had volunteered to be with Red as he questioned one of the enemy soldiers, and this was where they were now.
Things had not gone so smoothly, however. Previously, upon seeing Red in a relaxed state with bandages, a few of the Ivory soldiers tried to assault him, only for them to die almost instantly. The rule that a battle ends when one general dies was not something made arbitrarily; it was simply something that was supposed to be implied. Whichever army loses its general loses all chances of winning simply due to the power of the general serum. The unfortunate Ivory soldiers tried challenging that rule, and they paid for it with their lives.
During the battle that had just transpired, between meeting up with Victor and having the one-on-one showdown against Zack that ultimately ended the entire conflict, Red had been stalled to a large extent by platoon after platoon of enemy soldiers, as if they were trying to center their forces on him alone even though the best they could have done was slow him down, injure him, and wear him out. It was basic knowledge at this point in the war that only in the presence of another general could someone like Red possibly lose, and after having disposed of over 200 enemy soldiers prior to this, they ought to have at least hesitated even just a little bit.
And yet they didn’t. They had willingly jumped straight to their deaths, and the source of that determination was what Red wanted to ask first and foremost.
“He would have tortured them” was the answer that he had received.
Red nodded. “Makes sense,” he simply said in response. “Has he been using such threats from the start?”
“What kind of torture did he put his soldiers through?” Catherine added in. However, upon seeing hints of hesitation from the soldier, Red pulled Catherine’s sleeve to get her attention and shook his head, gesturing her to not pry on the issue.
“Don’t mind her,” the red-eyed general said. “My question holds precedence here.”
“Y-yes, sir. General Zack had been using the method of torture to coerce us from the very beginning. Upon assuming command of the Ivory Army, he sent out small platoons to scout out enemy armies, and when they refused to take on such risky missions, they-”
“That explains two things,” Red butted in. “First, that’s why you guys were the first ones to know that the Cerulean Army was led by a teenage girl. Second, that explains the little warm-up fights I had to deal with in the past. Oh, by the way, I personally cremated all of your dead spies, so if you were acquainted with any of those guys, I’ve kept their ashes safe in jars with pictures of them. The pics are from their corpses though, so please exercise caution once we give them away.”
The soldier’s eyes lit up. “You mean…I can give Barry and Stu a proper burial?” Tears began flowing from his eyes and he wiped them immediately, his voice beginning to shake. “I understand that in war, dying and killing is common sense, so for you to preserve even the enemy…you’re too kind for one called the Blazing Monster.”
Red grinned. “Come on, you figure that out now? Where the hell do you think we are?” At present, the Crimson Army and what was left of the Ivory Army were working together at an open field near the border between their countries, digging graves for those who fell during the major fight that they had just gone through. This was all organized under Red’s orders.
The soldier nodded, his sobs beginning to subside. “Indeed, indeed. I am very grateful.”
I couldn’t care less about which one’s Barry or swine flu, but whatever. Red shook his head to clear his mind. “I will have their ashes sent to you guys along with the pictures if you cooperate with me. Now, moving on: You were saying that Zack, from day one, was so hell bent on getting a strategic advantage over the other armies that he sacrificed his own soldiers for intel, right?”
“Makes sense, makes sense.” At that point in time, when he had turned into the Crimson General, Red had been focusing solely on training himself and getting along with his troops, so he thought of this difference between him and Zack as proof that he had not been very general-like in his approach to the whole war. “As far as I know, he never sacrificed biologically-enhanced soldiers for such suicide missions, seeing as how the tally for your army remained at 1000 until our direct confrontation. Does the threat of torture still apply to them?”
“Yes. In fact, the danger was bigger for them. I’m sure you know why.”
Red nodded, and Catherine looked over to him in confusion.
“Regeneration powers,” was Red’s response to his female companion’s questioning look. “Torture is all about making someone experience great pain while keeping them alive. For a biologically-enhanced soldier, the experience would be many times more painful. More so, perhaps, for a general.” His eyes suddenly widened in surprise. “Wait, does that mean…?”
“General Zack tortured 5 biologically-enhanced soldiers,” the soldier continued, responding to Red’s sudden realization. “They all survived, but the mental and emotional scars they sustained were so deep that they served as enough of an example for what would happen to anyone who acted against his orders.”
“So they would rather die by my hand than survive and face Zack’s wrath…that is twisted.” Red shook his head. “Twisted, but as far as coercing troops goes, very effective. Considering that he was a lightning-user, I think I can get a grasp on what he could pull off in a torture chamber with his powers alone. What more if…oh, man.”
The former enemy soldier bowed his head and raised his eyebrows slightly. “Do you have any further questions, General Red?”
Catherine turned once more to the bandaged teenage boy, who stayed silent for a few moments before grumbling and continuing with his questions.
“I wanna learn more about Zack,” he began.
Zack was a man who excelled at almost everything: school, sports, even in social skills like humor and wit. The twist was that his family was very poor and that he had been able to go to good schools using scholarships alone. Because of this, there was a big difference in social status between him and his classmates. He would see their luxurious lifestyles firsthand and wonder why working in an office gave so much more money than the blue-collar work his parents spent many more hours on. This was the seed of envy that would eventually give rise to the Lightning Assassin.
Throughout his life as a normal human being, cases of corruption in the political world became a thing of concern for him. For one who lived in poverty such as himself, issues of financial misuse greatly affected him and his view of humanity. “When will their greed stop?” “When will my family’s hard work pay off?” “Why do we face such inequality?” These were some of the many questions that he was never able to answer in his lifetime.
Upon graduating from college, he enlisted in the army and rose up the ranks quickly. He showed great promise in all aspects, and eventually became a candidate for the general serum, mankind’s most potent invention yet.
At the age of 38, Zack became the Ivory General.
With great power in his hands, the first thing he did was “clean up” from the inside, assassinating several politicians whom he had held grudges on from the past until the present. Zack wanted to change the system of his country; he wanted equality for everyone, and for him the first step was to have those in power step down. However, from his experiences prior to becoming a general, he knew that those in power tended to be very unwilling to relinquish their privileges. Thus, in a “two birds, one stone” fashion, he exacted revenge and made a statement to his country:
“This country needs to change, and I will lead the revolution towards achieving this. Those who oppose me will die.”
For one who had excelled and never lost at anything his entire life, such a bold statement was perhaps something that should not have come as a surprise. Zack sincerely believed that he stood above everyone else, and from this the ideology of the Ivory General was born.
Having come from the army, Zack knew the value of information. After sending out troops to spy on enemy forces at the cost of their own lives, he devised a cunning strategy: “The Cerulean Army was being led by a girl. Send our forces against them, but our goal is to simply shake them up. The Crimson Army, if they’re not cowards or idiots, will take the chance and try to finish off the job. Being two armies led by kids, one of them will die and the other will emotionally break down. We will then finish off the surviving army, all while Emerald and Gold fight each other.” This was a long-term plan that took a lot of foresight and preemptive information to come up with, and for the most part it was flawless.
It was flawless if not for the irregularity known as the Crimson General.
The Crimson General was an irregularity simply because he was a teenager who was not only willing to kill, but would habitually put himself in the front lines to eventually become the war participant with the highest body count. He was also a very capable fighter, able to shoulder much of the weight in battle for the sake of his troops.
Zack’s plans should have been flawless, and he could have easily secured a spot in the final three remaining generals, what with Emerald and Gold unwilling to take part in any major battle to settle things.
But the Crimson General was just so unpredictable.
Zack predicted that the survivor in the Crimson-Cerulean battle would be too emotionally scarred to continue fighting, and while the Crimson General did have an emotional breakdown, he recovered from it even more determined than ever to kill. Zack predicted that taking hostage a teenage girl whom the Crimson General treasured more than anything and anyone else would guarantee him a win, and in response to this the Crimson General created a crazy countermeasure that ended up turning the tables around the fight and ensuring the safety of the kidnapped girl. Finally, Zack thought that he was superior in a one-on-one match, and one instance of overconfidence led to his eventual demise.
However, even if he had fought to the fullest of his abilities, the fact that the Crimson General already had an unpredictable, unfair trump card well before their battle made winning impossible for him. The sneaky kid was able to get the Emerald Army, along with its general, to fight on his side. And after struggling for his life, he met his end in a sea of flames.
Zack the Ivory General was a conceited man who wanted to take the whole world in his hands and reshape it into its most ideal form.
He was, like the young teenager who swore to become a monstrous murderer in order to protect a single girl, selfish.
“I’m quite the selfish general, huh?”
“You and me both.”
Red held his temples as he tried taking in all of the information he had just received about his fallen enemy.
“I’m done,” he finally said after a long period of groaning and pulling his hair. “Anyway, I’ll have the ashes of the spies sent to you guys. Oh, and please do tell your comrades that if anything bad happens to my deliverymen, I will personally stop by and slaughter every single one of you.” There was no hint of malice or mistrust in his tone of voice – in fact, it was said in a matter-of-fact, monotone fashion – but the way Red worded his sentence sent chills down the soldier’s spine, especially since he could actually imagine him strolling around their country and killing everyone on his own.
“Mm. Now get out there and help the others with the burying.”
The soldier straightened up and gave a stiff salute. “Yes, sir! Please excuse me!”
Red returned this gesture with a salute of his own, but his was soft and casual. With the exchange completed, the soldier rushed away towards the tool shed in order to take a shovel and begin helping out.
Catherine sat down on the ground beside Red. “You’ve…changed, Red.”
“Really? In what way?”
“Well, let’s see…” Catherine began playing with the tips of her fingers as she thought of what to say. “You have this really influential air around you now. You know what questions to ask, implications feel like common sense to you…”
“That’s only because I stand as a general and, as an inevitable consequence, the cruel truth behind this war has already been hammered into the very core of my being,” Red replied before Catherine could continue any further. “As for the influential air…are you sure about that? The guy was probably just scared after I killed three of his friends. He probably didn’t respect me from the start.”
“The truth behind the war…?”
Red shook his head. “What, even that’s not obvious to you? Well, whatever. Let me spell it out for you: It’s the truth that people are out to kill each other, because at the end of this war only one general out of five will remain alive. There are only three of us left right now, and who knows if the final survivor will actually be me. Even now I can’t relax just yet.” The battle between the Crimson Army and the Ivory Army had just ended, and right after that they had gone straight to burying the dead. Despite having done the most work, Red had not taken a break at all.
Catherine knew how tired her former classmate was. While she was faking her unconscious state at the final moments of the battle, she knew that upon killing Zack, Red began crying his eyes out. After this, the Crimson General was on the brink of losing consciousness, but after catching his own fall, he immediately ordered his troops to begin the burial operation. After this, he was attacked from behind and had to kill three more people.
Furthermore, it was also not like his battle began upon getting to the capital. While the members of the Crimson Army were preparing for the big fight, he had gone on ahead and traveled all the way to Emerald territory, where he began his secret plan of having a fourth of the Emerald Army escort him to turn the tables on Zack. Also, according to post-battle reports, the reason Red killed so many Ivory soldiers upon entering was because he had charged in on his own in order to give the Emerald Army a clear path and to prevent as many casualties on their side as possible. Right after this, he saved Victor, fought another 200 soldiers to take away much of the burden from his own army, and battled Zack.
The general was supposed to be at the center of the formation, the safest place to be. And yet there he was, working harder than anyone else, risking his own life in the front lines like a pawn in a chess game, all in order to protect as many of his allies as he could.
The large losses in the Ivory Army and the relatively small losses in the Crimson and Emerald Armies were all thanks to Red risking his life over and over again and going beyond what was normally asked for a general in this war.
As Catherine looked once more at the boy beside him, she finally realized what made him so special.
The Crimson General treasured his troops. His soldiers all possessed unwavering loyalty towards him and would willingly die for him because they knew that he would not let them die if he could help it. He trained and challenged his limits every single day for the purpose of protecting his own allies. “He’ll definitely protect the others” was probably what the fallen Crimson soldiers thought in their final moments. Unlike Zack who used his troops as pawns, Red was willing to become the pawn himself if it meant decreasing casualties on his side.
Upon closer inspection, Catherine noticed that the injuries on Red were not healing very quickly. It was probably because he was exhausted. Yet for some reason he would not let his guard down.
“Why don’t you rest, Red?” Catherine finally asked. “You can ask Uncle Allen and several others to guard you. You deserve to take a break after all you’ve done. And unless you do, your injuries…”
“I’m not staying awake and alert because I’m scared of being assassinated, you idiot,” was Red’s reply. “Don’t you get it? I want to stay awake.”
The young general reached out his hand slowly, ever so shakily, and pointed straight forward, at where his troops and the Ivory soldiers were working together to dig holes in the ground. “Because I wouldn’t want to miss out on this scenery for the world.”
Catherine had been too preoccupied with thinking about Red that she completely missed the point. The entire time, Red’s eyes had been moving left and right, actively trying to take in every single detail of what was going on in front of him.
There was a mix of emotions amongst the soldiers. Some were crying as they buried their friends, and some were smiling as they talked about the memories of the bodies that lay before them.
Ivory and Crimson talked and opened up their hearts to one another.
That was why Red could not relax just yet.
“He would always sneak out of training in order to eat lunch ahead of us,” he heard one of his troops tell an Ivory soldier about one of the corpses. “He was just such a glutton, and we used to think he was a real slacker, but it turns out he just wanted to have some alone time with the cafeteria lady. He actually trained in secret at night to make up for it, and the kid caught him in the act.”
“This guy began what became a fun pastime for us,” Red heard an Ivory soldier say of his fallen comrade. “He openly talked about Zack’s white eyes in front of us, and making ghost stories about him became a source of laughs and energy for us whenever we felt down.”
“During the time when we fought against Red, this wimpy bastard was the last in line. He got beaten down so easily despite the kid being exhausted beyond human comprehension. Ever since then, he never forgave himself. I heard he got creamed by Zack. To think he would actually kick the bucket without even having a chance to prove himself…”
Different conversations were going on all at once, and several prayers also offered. With a smile on his face, Red looked up and offered a prayer of his own.
May their families and friends be able to move on with their own lives even after this tragedy.
Red knew that the soldiers would pray for the spirits of those they were burying; they knew the fallen more than he did, after all. Thus, he decided to focus on those that the deceased ones would be leaving behind. Simply from Victor’s plea to have his family spared in exchange for his life alone, the young general knew how important these civilian outsiders were. These soldiers all fought this war to protect those they held dear, in the same way that he was fighting in order to protect the girl sitting beside him. And now that so many of these brave men were dead, he could only imagine the sadness and grief that would spread around.
These soldiers fought because they would rather have themselves die instead of their loved ones, and that’s exactly what they got. However, this simple logic would not reach the affected civilians so easily, and Red knew this. To know that someone laid their lives in order to protect them…it would greatly sadden anyone, if only for the sheer fact of death alone. Red himself had been crippled for years when his mother died, so he had an idea. And that was why he offered his prayers not for the fallen soldiers, but for the civilians who were waiting – now in vain – for them to safely return.
“Say, Red…” Catherine suddenly said, conveniently right after he had finished with his little alone moment. “About the little interview you did a while ago…I understand why you would be curious about the torture part, but after that you just kept asking things about Zack. Why?”
“Personal reasons,” Red replied. “I just want to know the person behind the corpse I kill. That’s all.”
“But what about the other bio-soldiers or human soldiers that you…killed?” She still had problems saying the “k” word. “You won’t learn about their pasts?”
“Who said I wasn’t curious about them?” Red’s straight response surprised Catherine. “The enhancements given by the general serum aren’t limited to just the physical aspect of a person. How else do you think I was able to memorize the names and backgrounds of my troops, both bio and not? Those guys number in the thousands, you know.”
“I thought you only knew them by name and face…”
“I know exactly the weight of the burden I’m shouldering,” Red simply said, heaving a sigh while still looking at the burial site. “And when I say ‘exactly,’ I mean I know that Matthew will never be able to confess his feelings for Jessica. I know that Robert can no longer keep his promise to his only daughter to visit her on her 18th birthday. I know that Jerry had been looking forward to eating his mom’s cooking after the war is over and that it can no longer happen. I know that-”
Catherine covered her ears and began sobbing. Red had kept his voice monotonous the entire time, but in reality, Catherine saw it. She saw tears flowing down the boy’s eyes as he enumerated the tragedies beyond just the deaths of his own soldiers. As she stepped closer to Red and covered him in her arms, the crimson-eyed boy stopped speaking.
So that’s why he cried like a baby right after defeating Zack, she thought to herself. He knew the circumstances of every single one of his troops, and he knew that he was closing doors of opportunity whenever he killed someone from the enemy.
Red did not make any sound. He simply wiped away his tears and allowed Catherine to continue holding him while she continued sobbing in sympathy for him.
The burial operation was put to a halt at 9pm, when all the bodies were buried. Tombstones would be added later on; for now both armies were to return to their bases and recuperate as per Red’s final orders before he finally gave in and collapsed.
Sitting in the passenger seat of a military truck was Red and Catherine, with the former sleeping peacefully as he unconsciously leaned his entire weight onto the latter. The driver was the former traitor, Victor.
“Seeing the kid like this,” the division commander said as he drove towards the base, “it makes you doubt that he’s capable of killing hundreds of soldiers on his own. Don’t you get that feeling?”
Catherine smiled. “Indeed. With him sleeping so peacefully, it’s like he’s just a normal civilian survivor.”
“And yet he’s the Crimson General. He’s the man who’s shouldering thousands of lives and deaths. And at such a young age, no less…” Victor heaved a sigh. “He’s like a main character straight out of an RPG.”
“Oh, you don’t play games?” Victor asked while giving out a laugh. “Red’s like the stereotypical RPG protagonist who refuses to sacrifice others. In the battlefield, a general is meant to be protected at all costs, but the idiot kid thinks that if he works hard enough – if he levels up enough times – he would be able to protect both you and his troops.”
Catherine chuckled. “I guess you’re right. He is kind of naïve that way.” She reached out her hand to grab Red’s cheek. “But that in itself is really admirable because he actually pulls it off.”
“Yeah, but…” Victor paused for a few moments. “Say, Catherine, I have a favor to ask, and I hope you’ll take this seriously.”
“What is it?”
“Please protect the kid.” Victor bit his lip. “The only reason many of us have been able to survive up until this point is because he protected us. But you see, we can’t return the favor. When he killed the Cerulean General, Shirley, he went absolutely insane, and there was nothing any of us can do. Look, protecting him from that is something that only you can do, so please…You’ve stayed with the army long enough; you should know what he’s going through. Please protect Red. In the end, he’s till 17 years old; make sure he doesn’t break down from all of this.”
Catherine was rendered silent for a while, and Roger’s words from before echoed in her mind.
“You don’t really have to do anything aside from staying put and giving him a reason to move forward.”
Come to think of it, she began thinking, a major part of the tragedy in this battle was my fault.
Her getting kidnapped was the reason why the Crimson Army did not have enough time to stage a more favorable attack, and in order to cover it up, Red put his life in danger more than he should have. A stinging pain hit Catherine’s chest as she realized this fact.
Holding the hand of the soundly-sleeping boy beside her, Catherine gave her reply.
“I’ll do anything for Red.”
As the victorious bio-soldiers of the Crimson Army marched towards their base, they were greeted outside by the women who had been lying in wait ever since news of the great triumph reached their ears. Wives went to their husbands, and sisters went to their brothers, with some crying over those that didn’t make it. Emotion was rampant, but one thought in particular stood out.
They were all extremely grateful to the teenage boy named Red.
“I feel so bad for doubting him now,” one of the bio-soldiers said to his wife. He was part of Felix’s unit, and was on the helicopter with the regular soldiers in powered suits when they openly expressed their anger at Red. “I just followed the other bio-soldiers, but deep inside I felt as if Red was being really unfair, letting his soldiers die all because he wanted to save Catherine. But then he appears out of nowhere, takes down nearly 500 opposing soldiers, several tanks, a couple of planes, and the Ivory General himself. All on his own.”
“Without Red, we wouldn’t have gotten away with this many survivors,” came another bio-soldier. Other praises could be heard.
“I can’t believe that kid was able to shoulder all of that pressure in our place. He may be a monster, but he’s a monster that really cares for all of us.”
“I never thought I’d see the day when a kid with a staff would take down tanks like it was nothing. To see it twice by now...oh man, he is really something.”
“We owe Red our lives.”
Victor, while carrying the unconscious general on his back, was talking to his wife, Anabelle. Beside him was the center of the battle that had just transpired: the teenage girl named Catherine. The four were met by a man with messy hair clad in a white lab gown, accompanied by several people carrying a stretcher. It was Adam, the lead scientist of the Crimson Army and Red’s father.
“I heard what happened,” Adam said. “Let’s get him taken care of quickly.”
Thanks to Red’s contribution in the battle as well as the intervention of part of the Emerald Army, the bio-soldiers of the Crimson Army only needed the regeneration powers granted by the biologically-enhancing serum and were all able to walk at the very least by the time they got back home. Red, however, was a different story. As he was loaded onto the stretcher, he was immediately taken into the base and straight to a hospital room, with Catherine and Adam following closely.
Once he was situated on a bed, several doctors began their work on him. One could only guess what was going on at the time.
“Is there something wrong?” Catherine asked Adam from outside the room.
“Even for the person that arguably holds the title of the world’s strongest fighter,” Adam replied, “he still has his limits. I was told that he couldn’t regenerate properly and even went so far as to uncharacteristically fall unconscious. You heard what he did out there, didn’t you? His current state kind of reminds me of something similar that has happened only once before.”
“He fell unconscious as a general before?”
“Well...not exactly.” Adam scratched his head lightly with his index finger. “It was on the night of June 28, when he...” He flinched upon remembering something, and cleared his throat. “...when I injected the general serum onto him. He was in critical condition after a certain accident, and it was pretty much a gamble on whether his weakened body could take the serum; after all, the general serum was known to reject and kill other completely healthy prospects in other countries. It took him a week to wake up, but when he did, he was already completely healed. I doubt it’ll take Red a full week to recover from this, but the fact remains that he came so close to death that his regeneration almost came to a halt.”
“All because I was taken by the Ivory General...” Catherine bowed and her heart sank.
Adam smiled and placed his hand on Catherine’s head. “Don’t sweat it,” he said. “Red’s smarter than that. He wouldn’t go in charging on his own if he knew he was gonna die, not with the war only halfway over. I promise, he’ll be perfectly fine within 2-3 days.”
Catherine raised her head to face the scientist. “I have a request, Uncle Adam,” she said. “Once the doctors are done with him, can I stay by his side until he wakes up? I promise to get out of the way whenever he needs to be checked up on or treated.”
Taking his hand away from the young girl’s head, Adam jerked his shoulders. “Why not?”
“Ah crap, a hospital room. So it really did come to this.”
A boy with eyes that were dyed a deep crimson got up from the bed he was lying in. He was wearing his indoor clothes, but had several equipment stuck on his body.
It was November 27. Two days have passed since the fall of the Ivory Army.
To his right, he saw a girl using the bedside as a pillow while she slept sitting on the floor. Raising his eyebrows momentarily before dismissing the sight in front of him, he turned his head even further to the right and saw an intercom microphone installed right next to him. Smiling, he grabbed it and cleared his voice.
“Guys, I’m awake. Meet me at the cafeteria. Cynthia, make sure you keep up with my appetite. Over.”
His message resounded throughout the entire base, effectively waking up the girl on his bedside as well.
“Good morning, Cath,” the boy said while he forcibly removed all electrodes on him and the intravenous line on his forearm in a carefree manner. Catherine’s eyes widened at this.
“R-Red...is it okay for you to...?”
“Hm? I’m fine.” The boy named Red, after clearing all the equipment attached to him, got up from the bed and proceed to exit the room. “Well, fine, but pretty hungry. I’m gonna go get me some grub. Why don’t you join me for breakfast today? If you don’t mind the crowd that’s gonna fill up the place.”
Catherine tilted her head as she got up and followed Red.
During the time that Red was asleep, the entire burial operation was able to successfully pull through, and the ashes of the spies from the Ivory Army that he killed were safely delivered and likewise given proper burials. He was currently eating the meals he had missed out on while several bio-soldiers sat across him with pieces of papers on their hands. They read the contents to him one by one.
“Ross, 27 years old. Used to be a construction worker but joined the army at the time of the war as a volunteer because he wanted to protect his parents, despite their protests that he might not make it alive. He flung himself as a shield to stall you from Zack, and you shot him in the head.”
“Clarence, 32 years old. Bio-soldier. He was a soft-spoken man who wanted the sudden influx of money into the military to afford an operation for his wife who had leukemia. He was able to get the money, but the operation was unsuccessful and she died last month. He died during your entrance to the city in order to let his friend, Joey, escape. Joey was the one who told me this, and he was crying so much it was hard to make out the words he was saying at the time.”
“Tyson, 38 years old. Bio-soldier. He used to be a classmate of Zack’s, and respected the man a lot. He volunteered because despite coming from one of the rich families that Zack despised so much, he yearned for equality for all, and believed that Zack as the Ivory General would be able to achieve it. He was in charge of intercepting you in case you came to the city, and according to the reports of the enemy soldiers...” The reporting bio-soldier bit his lip. “...you killed him in one hit. Square on the head. His skull cracked, and his brain was instantly incinerated.”
Red groaned as he listened. In retrospect, the body count of his victims was merely a number, and meeting their deaths by just a single blow was a very anti-climactic end to a human being’s life that highlighted the sheer power of the Crimson General, but Red did not want it to end there. He wanted to know the lives behind the corpses he left behind in that battlefield as he fought the world for that one girl.
He listened to what each one of them had to say while he ate without restraint at the cafeteria. Catherine stayed by his side, and hearing the stories behind the fallen people made the war even harder for her. She was sure that Red felt the same way.
And yet the teenage general decided to know anyway. He wanted to affirm to himself that he was killing human beings with feelings, experiences, memories…and most of all, loved ones.
“I know exactly the weight of the burden I’m shouldering.”
The teenager devouring meat like an animal held a sense of despair too deep for her to comprehend.
Catherine decided to stay by this teenager’s side, and learn more about the pain he shoulders day-to-day. She would stay by his side, and protect him in the way only she can until the war was over.