2-2: The Man Meant to be the General
The 7-year-old boy named Red and his father Adam stood side by side, their eyes opened widely and their bodies frozen in shock at what lay before them.
No, it wasn’t just that. It wasn’t just the scenery at that moment that paralyzed them. No; they had seen everything that transpired, and everything happened so fast that neither one of them knew how to react. Thus, they just stood there, dumbfounded, as they stared at the two bodies lying down in the middle of the road in front of them, with a blood-stained truck stopped nearby.
It was a woman in her mid-30’s and a small male child, around the same age as Red.
Adam managed to speak after a while. “A…Amy…” He uttered the name of his wife.
A woman who could be surmised as being the mother of the dead child ran straight to the scene of the crime and cried her heart out. She had gone out for a while from the bus stop they were in to buy some drinks from a vending machine, only to end up with the tragedy in front of her.
Amy and the child were together before all this had happened, sitting at the bus stop. The child had just opened a case that contained a yoyo, and the toy rolled its way over to the road. Amy saw a truck coming and tried pushing the kid away, but she reacted too late, and the large vehicle hit both of them, killing them instantaneously.
Adam, having partially recovered from the initial shock, remembered that Red was with him and tried to cover the young boy’s eyes. When he tried, however, Red pushed Adam’s hand away and stepped forward.
“Mom…?” he managed to say. “Mom…why aren’t you moving…?”
The young boy’s words brought tears to Adam’s eyes, and with it an immense rage. With a growl, he charged at the truck, whose driver had exited and was looking in disbelief at what had happened. Adam approached this man and began punching him, sending him to the side of the truck.
“That was my wife, you bastard!” he blurted out while he held the man’s collar. Tears were running down his eyes and his voice was shaky. “You killed my wife! And in front of my son!”
The driver was speechless. He simply avoided eye contact as he continued accepting Adam’s punches.
Adam had been extremely busy with his work that he could not go home for several weeks, but for that one day, he decided to meet up with his family. He personally came to Red’s school to pick him up, and they were supposed to surprise Amy who would be waiting at the bus stop going home. Adam would show up with Red, and they would go home together to prepare for a family dinner at an expensive restaurant.
It was the couple’s 9th wedding anniversary, and Adam had planned many things for that day.
Her wife dying in front of him was not one of them.
The father-son pair arrived across the bus stop just in time to see Amy jump in front of the truck. In the middle of her heroic act, her eyes met Adam’s and Red’s for but a split-second before she crashed to her death. She did not even have time to react to the sight of her husband who had been away for weeks suddenly appearing in front of her.
The whole place was a mess.
The mother who was crying as she kneeled in front of her child. Adam who was relentlessly beating up the driver who killed his wife. The two bloodied corpses, one of which had a face that a certain boy was very endeared to.
In the midst of all the commotion going on, the young boy named Red stood frozen, engraving the sight of his mother’s corpse into the deepest corners of his memory.
Adam was sitting on his usual chair in his laboratory waiting for his son, Red the Crimson General, reminiscing the fateful day he lost the woman he had sworn eternity to. He felt a sudden headache and held his temples with the middle finger and thumb of his right hand, just in time to hear the door open.
“What do you want, old man?”
Adam tried shaking off the pain. “As your lead scientist and father, I just have a few things to tell you before you go out there and give the go-ahead signal to fight Zack’s army. Come, have a seat.”
Red, rolling his eyes, decided to comply. “I’m listening.”
“You don’t need me to tell you that you’re in a really difficult situation right now,” Adam said, “but I want you to know that I believe in you. I gave you the general serum believing that you could win this war.”
Red made a pained smirk. “Heh, you say that, but we both know you were only forced to use the general serum because you didn’t want me to die after having lost mom.” He slapped his face. “I’ve been meaning to ask you this for the longest time, old man: Why did you have to use such an important thing just to revive me? I was fine being dead, but then you had to be the hero and give me that serum. You wasted the precious general serum on someone like me. You put an entire country at risk in order to save a kid who didn’t even deserve to stay alive! You think I’m happy living like this?! Every single day, I tell myself ‘You weren’t supposed to be the Crimson General’ and train hard, almost to the point of killing myself. Every single day I strive to be the person worthy of being a leader of an army, fully aware that I was never meant to be one. Do you have any idea how hard it has been?!”
Adam was wide-eyed during Red’s entire rant, and when his son was done he began laughing. “Hahahaha! Wait, time out, Red! Oh man, is this why you’ve always seemed to hate me?”
Red was taken aback by this. “What the hell is wrong with you, old man? You want me to burn you so badly?!”
Adam waved his hand. His outburst had ended, but minor chuckles still remained. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. It’s just that…I never knew you thought that way; that you actually thought I would forego giving the general serum to ‘someone more fitting’ just so that I could satisfy this hero complex of mine by saving your life.” Adam took a deep breath. “You being in a near-death situation was just a coincidence. If you were at full health that day, I would have asked you to take the serum either way. But you were unconscious and dying, so I couldn’t get your consent.”
“That day,” Adam said with a painful expression on his face. “…that day, I couldn’t protect Amy, and Amy couldn’t protect that child even when she laid her life for him. It made me realize how unfair the world was, and so at the very least I wanted to give you the power to protect whatever it is that’s dear to you. I don’t want you to end up like me and experience the same sense of grief I felt that still haunts me to this day.”
“I…I never knew…but why would you entrust the responsibility of the world to me?”
“Conveniently enough, I wanted a teenager to be a general,” Adam replied, making Red even more surprised than he already was. “Look, this war was staged by the higher-ups, adults who represent the world. How much did the younger generation affect this decision? Zero. Their opinions meant nothing. These older guys, they say they’re planning on creating a better path to the future, but they exclude the very people that will live out this future. They think they have things all figured out, acting as if they know what the youngsters need. That’s why I chose you, Red. You represent the burning potential of the youth. The uncertainty that you bring to the table incites fear to the control-freak adults, and I think it’s a good thing. That’s why I entrusted the powers of the Crimson General to you; I’m entrusting my future – no, the whole world’s future – to you, no matter what path you choose. Even if you’re fighting the whole world for a one-sided crush.”
Adam’s last sentence sent a stinging pain to Red, which the young general tried laughing off. He then opened his palm and created a ball of fire on top of it. “I will win this war,” he said. “I’ll win, and prove to you that your decision wasn’t wrong. Mom wasn’t wrong when she jumped in to save that kid, and you weren’t wrong when you stuck that needle with the general serum on me. I’ll save Catherine, and take down Zack’s army.”
Adam smiled. Does that mean…you forgive me…? ”That’s the spirit, kid. Now, there’s something you need to know. It has something to do with our army.”
Adam scratched his head. “Umm, where do I begin…? Well, you see, I have a record of all phone conversations that go outside the base.”
“Woah woah, since when did you turn into a stalker, old man?”
“Let me finish, kid. Remember the fight against the Cerulean Army? We kind of passed by the Ivory Army on the way, right?”
“You’re also aware that while you were busy in the front lines, a few of our own soldiers got assassinated. I got scared, thinking it was the assassination specialist Zack trying to get double agents. For example, he would grab a bio-soldier, and if that person wasn’t willing to cooperate, he would kill them, that kind of thing. So ever since that battle, I created a little interceptor, and after a while I was able to get this little conversation that you have to hear now.”
Adam turned his rotating chair in order to face his computer and opened the audio file he wanted. It was dated over a month ago.
“Wow this is old,” Red commented. “Why show this now?”
“No other conversation like this has happened after, so I thought I’d be able to keep it secret,” Adam replied. “But now that Catherine’s been kidnapped, I need to let you know that there’s a double agent among us.”
Red listened to the conversation being played on Adam’s computer and his eyes widened.
10am, Red’s appointed time, on the dot as usual.
The remaining bio-soldiers, as well as the leaders of the factions composed of normal humans, were gathered around the large meeting room. Red stood in front of them all, already in his combat outfit: a red and white martial arts robe. His holsters on the waist as well as his Bo Staff were all set in his outfit, unlike his troops who were all unprepared at that moment. It was still not time for deployment, so the one with the weird outfit ended up being the general in charge of the entire meeting.
He looked around, but unlike the time when he fought against his soldiers to gain their trust, he already knew them all by face, so he was able to ascertain the attendance of everyone before grabbing a microphone and beginning his speech.
“So as you all know,” he began, “we’re gathered here right now to discuss what to do with Zack and the Ivory Army. On the night he kidnapped Catherine, he sent me a letter of challenge. He wants to have a head-on fight 2 days from now, 12pm at the capital. I’ll explain the details later. Right now I’d like to address a more urgent issue.”
“More urgent than our upcoming battle to rescue your girl?” a bio-soldier asked.
“She’s not my girl, Felix.” Red shook his head. “Anyway, yes. Victor, could you come up front for a second?” He fixed his eyes at Victor who was near the center of the crowd and motioned him to come forward.
After tilting his head momentarily, Victor complied. He walked up the platform and stood beside Red. “What’s up, kid?”
Suddenly, a circle of fire enveloped Victor. In that same instant, Red took out one of his guns and pointed it right between the division commander’s eyes.
“Bio-soldiers have insane regeneration powers,” Red said. “If I shoot you now, you could probably still move a bit and perhaps survive with an operation. But if I shoot you and incinerate you while you’re on the floor cringing in pain, that’s a different story. Oh, and don’t even think about jumping out of the way if you don’t wanna get yourself burned.”
Whether it was from the flames or from fear – or perhaps both – Victor was sweating heavily. He tried opening his mouth but stopped immediately when the hand where Red held his gun made a quick, decisive twitch.
This gesture was clear.
“Don’t you dare make any unnecessary movements, traitor.”
Red would not even allow Victor to gulp in fear.