The general reached into his pouch and fished out a couple of documents. He placed it gently on the counter in between Jayce and Arty, stuffed his rugged hands back into pockets and awaited their response. The pair stared at the documents silently for a few seconds, noticing only the military crest on the top of the page and long paragraphs of words. The crest was that of a lion, snake and a eagle bearing a shield with the England flag printed on it.
"What's this?" Jayce questioned.
"The two of you. You're jobless, penniless, friendless. Hopeless. I can fix that."
The general picked up the documents and turned it around to face them. He explained the documents - it was to draft them for the war. The military would provide a career, food, shelter and comrades. Things Jayce and Arty needed. But there were the disclaimers. Should any death, injury or any harm occur to the individual, the military will not be held responsible nor will they have the need to compensate their families.
Families were not something Jayce or Arty had much of and they understood the terms. But there was this line that caused much more consideration to be done. At the bottom of the page, it said:
'By signing this document, the signer agrees to serve and fight the war till the end of the war or his/her life.'
Jayce and Arty looked at each other unanimously and stared back at the general.
"You want us to sell our soul to the devil?" said Arty curtly.
"We're not exactly the devil. But let's be honest. You two don't have much of choice. Might as well do something for the nation, right?" The general made a compelling argument. Both of them had nothing and nobody to live for, and thus nothing to lose. Food and shelter was all they needed. Comrades were a bonus. Jayce nodded gently to Arty and turned to the general.
"Let's do it", Jayce said, gesturing for a pen. The pair read the documents carefully once again before signing their life away. The general received the papers back and glanced at them satisfied. He stuffed the papers back into his pouch and held our his hand.
"The name's Ekstrom. Brigadier General Ekstrom." the three of them shook hands and followed him out to the back of the bar. There it parked was a military vehicle with the same crest printed on its doors. Jayce and Arty climbed onto the back while Ekstrom climbed onto the front seat. A driver was already waiting on it and Ekstrom signaled for him to set off.
"Are you sure you don't need to go anywhere to retrieve any belongings or say goodbyes?" Ekstrom said while turning back at them.
"We don't have any." Jayce replied, and looked back down at the floor of the vehicle. Ekstrom nodded and the vehicle was bound for the military base in London.
A ride for what seemed like days and months passed and the military base HQ was now in sight. As the military vehicle pulled up to the base, Ekstrom hopped off and instantly the soldiers in the vicinity dropped whatever they had been doing and saluted him.
"At ease, soldiers!" Ekstrom commanded. Jayce and Arty followed him while many soldiers glanced at them with eyes that seemed almost judgmental. Jayce glanced around the base and observed what he could. The infrastructure and technology were just like he remembered, nothing different. Laser rifles, vibration-absorbent armor, helmets with X-Ray vision, condition analysis and built-in virtual mapping and commands sent from the HQ. Gamma bombs and tachyon missiles and bombs were lined up in warehouses ready for deployment at anytime.
However one thing was different. There were constant lines of troops boarding military planes and battleships to go out for war. Planes and battleships had marks like "ENG - JAP", "ENG - RUS", "ENG - USA", etc. printed on the bodies.
"Something tells me those ain't World Cup scores." Arty chuckled and Jayce followed suit. Humor hadn't been a common phenomenon in prison and Jayce had treasured the first sign of it in what felt like a hundred years.
Ekstrom passed them onto the hands of Captain H. Ornelas and explained that they would join the troop under Ornelas for the upcoming battle. They then watched on as Ekstrom strolled off out of sight.
"Jayce. Artemus. Infiltration is arguably the most dangerous post. You've been trained well but you should know that we travel the lightest on both weapons and men, so we would get massacred in a regular gunfight. But you should know all these well. You have a week to get back into shape before we fly off for Japan. You'll join Bunk 6. Rest well for the night." Ornelas explained sternly while leading them to their bunk.
The door slid open and the eyes of 3 soldiers inside locked onto them almost immediately. Ornelas did brief introductions for them before returning to his own bunk, leaving them to socialize and bond. These 4 soldiers, including Arty, were the comrades Jayce was going to depend on for the upcoming battle. His life depended on them. Trust was not his forte and this proved to be a test he had to endure.
The 3 soldiers comprised of 1 male and 2 females, Kanith, Ling and Rissa.
Kanith was born in India before moving to England to escape the destruction from The Fever. He was an electrical engineer before an earthquake destroyed most of his company assets and he was retrenched. He was exceptionally tall and muscular but had a slightly simpler mind.
Ling was a seamstress from Northeastern China and was sent to England by her family to escape the warfare from Japan and was left jobless. She was tall for female and slightly muscular, but was still less of a dominant woman than one would expect.
Rissa had a job in a prestigious hotel before wars started raging and the need for hotels were lost along with her job. She was a very attractive lady with foxy, seductive brown eyes and a slim, hourglass body with stunning body assets. One could describe her as a beauty with a brain, as she had no lack of either.
It was at this point when Jayce realized that the government was deploying not only men but also women for war. The new world called for new laws, as Rissa explained it. Arty did his introduction and now it was Jayce's turn to introduce himself to the team.
"I'm... I was. I was a con man. Sort of. Jailed for 7 years for scam and fraud." Jayce spoke softly, before looking up to check their reactions.
Kanith and Rissa were indifferent but Ling was slightly irked. Ling went on to question what Jayce did exactly, who he scammed and what he did that was considered fraud. Before Jayce replied anything, Kanith cut her off and said,
"What does it matter? It's in the past. We're comrades now. That means we're family. Family don't judge each other."
Jayce smiled softly before a Lieutenant walked by and signaled it was for time for bed. The lights went out and Jayce laid still on his cozy, cold bed. The bed might have been considered hard to normal civilians, but it was soft as a marshmallow compared to the ones he slept on while serving his sentence.
His thoughts wandered back to his past, during his time in high school. He thought of his best friends, teachers, family, and most of all Nora. He missed them so much and these thoughts only reminded him of how alone he was currently.
The complete silence in the bunk only worsened the ache in his heart. He pulled out a photo of Nora and looked at her. He kept this photo throughout his time in his cell and was his only source of hope in prison. She was once again his only source of hope, hoping to meet her again one day.
He turned and looked at Artemus who was already fast asleep and snoring away. In the midst of all this misfortune, he was thankful to have made friends with him. But he begun to wonder if he had made the right choice enlisting. His soul did not belong to him anymore.
The training week started and Jayce and Arty got back into shape fast. Jayce had impressed Ornelas with his exceptional marksmanship, and also his skills in manipulating computer software which he explained was from his time studying computer science back in school, and as well as from books he read while in jail.
Artemus showed great skill in bomb disposal and engineering, along with skills in breaking physical locks. Kanith proved to be an expert in electrical devices and circuits, knowledge from his time as an electrical engineer. Rissa showed her high levels of flexibility and physical capabilities, fitting an ideal physical infiltrator. Ling showed a mere adequate level of skill in every aspect, much to Ornelas' disappointment. However she had fantastic linguistic abilities, giving herself a plus.
The week flew by and the team was combat ready. Their team was given the code name Viper, while the members were given one respectively. Jayce was given "Scorpion", Artemus was given "Shark", Kanith was "Grizzly", Rissa "Fox" and Ling "Badger". They moved out and marched briskly toward their plane "Peregrine". Peregrine was a Missile Plane; a small plane built for speed and stealth, with built-in retro-reflective panels and nuclear turbo boosts for visual invisibility and unparalleled speed, respectively.
"Aptly named," Kanith commented on Peregrine. He went on to explain, "Peregrine Falcons are the fastest animal alive with a speed of over 389 km/h. They've kept the title ever since they were discovered hundreds of years ago-"
"Oh shut it, Grizzly." Ornelas yelled, yet smiling afterwards and the team chuckled. Viper boarded Peregrine which was compact but snug. They each entered their own pod specialized for resting in super speed flight and got comfortable. Permission came from the radio tower for it to take off and minutes later the Viper Peregrine jetted off for Japan.
END OF CHAPTER 2