Son, someday, you will understand why I trained you so hard. Why I took you to the fields and pushed you past all your limits. As long as humanity stays the way it is, there will always be war. Conflict is ingrained within us because we are all different struggling to make people see things our way. As long as it remains this way; men like us will always be made to fight. So I prepared you for that. When the time comes for your war, you’ll survive.
His father’s words passed through his mind as he sat in the battle chopper. He never identified with the war as being his but he was thankful that he had survived thus far.
“Scared, youngin?” the middle aged man next to him spoke, his breath rank with tobacco.
“Not really, I’ve grown accustomed to situations like this.” Marcus replied. He hoped the talking would end there. He never aquainted himself with fellow soldiers; it made their deaths easier to bear.
“It’s not good; you being so accustomed.” The man continued. “It’s a sure way to lose your humanity.”
“Well then.” Marcus jabbed as he placed his earphones in his ear. “Guess it’s too late for me then.”
He did not want to be mean, but his preparation for battle came first.. The one that ended this God forsaken war. It all started in early 2030. Earth was in a horrible state of affairs. The rise of innovation that swept the world from 2015 had fallen flat. Earth’s population had sailed past the 9 billion mark. Drought, famine, pollution, global warming; all took turns leveling the playing field between developing and developed nations. The Resource Wars broke out. In ten years the earth that comprised 196 countries, merged into four: EAA (Europe Asia Africa), Oceanus ( Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Philippines etc.), Cariamerica (Caribbean, South and Central America, Antarctica) and the United States of Canada (USA, Canada, Greenland and Iceland). The world settled into peace once more, the new countries taking time away from fighting each other to promote unity within their borders. Their focus however, could only be swayed for a time. In 2041, The USC and Cariamerica joined forces, declaring that it was time that humanity be united under one government for the benefit of all. The others resisted. Soon after, the war began. This was year 10 of the so called Unification War. The death toll stood at a whopping 1.5 Billion soldiers and civilians alike: all for the sake of unity. The deaths alone made Marcus sick to his stomach. He just wanted it all to end.
“T-5 until drop.” His commanding officer yelled to the troops. “Say your prayers, and write your will. I can’t guarantee that any of us will be make it back today. Gentlemen, make your life count today. Make sure that this is the final battle.”
“Yes Sir.” the unit cried in unison. Marcus had forgotten most of the names of the soldiers that surrounded him. The Black Gammas received the high risk missions as the most talented graduates of their military academies. Being sent to battlefields where common infantry dear not tread, meant that most times few of the returned with tales of the battle. Today would be no different.
The normal army units would storm Istanbul from the west with the main force attacking from the harbour. Their mission was simple: Storm the fortress of the last surviving leader of the EAA, Andros Mikhal and eliminate him. The window between their assault and the main one would be short, thirty minutes at the most. Success had to be acheived in that time span; lest news of the other attack would reach him, giving him time to escape.
“Aneus! You’re leading the drop.” His CO barked.
’Yes sir!” He replied.
Marcus grabbed the bars at the sides of the open chopper door. Wonder if your last mission was like this dad. He leapt. The others followed forming their usual formation and pulling their parachutes. As they landed, they split up into their groups; Marcus having the unfortunate distinction of being point man. He would lead a group of three onto the compound, disable all of the unmanned security systems and let the rest of the team in for the hammer blow. He hated the responsibility of lead; explanations of why so many of his team members died was apain. ‘You know captain,’ Marcus pleaded. ‘I can do this by myself. It would be safer if I...’
‘The plan was a group of three correct?’ Captain Bordeaux shouted. “Then stick to the plan”.
Marcus figured Bordeaux would have spouted off something like that. It was his plan: only he could alter it. Without another word, the team of three: Marcus, Scully and the middle aged man, made their way through the small forest that stood a mile away from the complex.. Marcus remembered his name because he was he only team member left besides Bordeaux that was from the original team. Scully’s fighting style reminded him of himself: quiet and deadly.
’Are they expecting us? ’The middle aged man spoke as they made their way through the grove of trees.
’They will if you don’t keep your mouth shut. ’Scully retorted.
The terrain changed as they got closer to the mansion. The tree cover receded above them, the splases of sunlight causing Marcus to squint. Taking cover behind some large boulders, Marcus looked around. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted them. He motioned to the others to get down, putting on his visor for a better look. “What’s the matter?” Scully inquired.
“Sentries… automated with attached camera and rail gun.”
“Well let’s just take them out...” The older man interjected as he raised his rifle. In one smooth motion Marcus kicked out the old man’s kneeling leg as he grabbed he man’s rifle.
“Shoot them with that and it’s all over.” Marcus replied. “The sensors are linked and the cameras send feedback to security’s HQ.” Marcus turned his attention to Scully. “You got this?”
Scully nodded,reaching into his backpack. From it he pulled what looked to be a miniature bow; about two feet in length. He crawled over to the rock where Marcus was hiding, taking a good look at the sentries as he did. Sitting upright, he placed the bow in a slot on the glove of his left hand. He grabbed some arrow from a compartment on his trouser leg. Inhaling sharply he turned, aimed and fired at the first sentry tower. The arrow was silent in its flight, only making a small thud as it pierced the sentry’s pole. On contact it erupted in a burst of sparks, the EMP blast making its way through the circuitry. Scully continued firing until each sentry looked like a mini fireworks display.
Marcus patted Scully on his shoulder. ‘Not bad.’
They slid down the side of the small hill, hiding in some of the small clumps of shrubbery. ‘How long before the guards get here?’ Scully inquired.
‘I figure we have a minute or two.’ Marcus replied. They waited in silence, memories of Marcus’ past washing across his mind. Maybe it was the terrain that was reminding him of his youth in Tucson; the days of hill climbing, marksmanship practice and sparring with his father. He was the quiet type, cold with his family. At first Marcus thought it was because he was unhappy; it was only later that he found out that his father was fighting a battle of his own. The Resource Wars had left his father with a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder. Daily, he would show signs of it affecting him; ducking for cover at the sound of gunfire in television shows, the terrible nightmares he had. The only time his father seemed to be at peace was during training; the time with Marcus acting as a release for the part of his brain still in combat mode. Marcus was just glad that something they did together brought his father some joy.
His mother was a different case. She placed a mask of happiness over her torment just to survive the day. An IED tore through the tank she was in, obliterating her left hand. She gained a cybernetic one, but the stigma she bore from it was as painful as losing the arm. ‘Inhuman’ was only one of the names he heard spat at her. She bore it all with a smile for her son, who she lavished as much praise on as she could give. He wished both of them could have seen him graduate from the academy as valedictorian. The war had taken them.
His ire rose as he saw the guards emerge from the complex. They were in full body armor, only a sliver of their necks exposed.On their arrival a the first sentry, Marcus gave the signal to his team. Marcus slid his hand down to the pocket on his trousers, removing a throwing dagger. It was time.
He waited patiently until the soldiers passed the shrub he hid behind. Signaling his intention to the others he stepped out and threw his first dagger. It flew through the air silently, not even making a sound as it dug into the neck of one of the guards. As he began to fall to the ground the others turned, guns at the ready. As Marcus readied his second dagger he felt something whizz by his ear. Freezing in place he saw Scully’s arrow imbed itself in the guard’s chest. Boom. The blast from the arrow echoed in the trees as both guards flew backwards. ‘Scully! Why did you use that?’ Marcus inquired furiously. ‘Now we’ll have to hurry.’
Marcus searched the men for their passkeys. Handing them one they all entered the complex. The faded exterior of the fortress gave away to lush carpets and antique flair. “Guess we know where all the state’s money goes.′ The old man chimed as they chipped through the halls.
’Our informant said that the security control room is just up ahead. ‘Marcus spoke between breaths.’ When we get there, we disable the perimeter defenses and lock the system. Then it’s...
‘Killing season.’ Sully said with a smile.
Rounding the corner, a sharp smell prompted Marcus to stop. He held out his hand indicating to the others to stop.
‘What’s the matter?’ The old man cried out.
’I smell ozone; they are lasers in this passage. ’Marcus replied.
‘There aren’t any red lines’ The old man spoke as he entered the hallway. ‘See there’s nothing...’
His sentence was cut short by the sound of searing flesh. He was cut from head to groin. As he fell in parts to the carpeted floor Scully spoke. “ We’ve been set up. This wasn’t in the intel.”
‘We can’t say that yet. It might have been installed yesterday.’
‘So what now?’
‘We do this the hard way.’
‘Seems your killing time might be a little early Scully.’
Marcus figured that the old man’s death triggered a silent alarm, giving them about a minute before they were swarmed by guards.
“I’ll take the ones coming from the security station; you take everyone that comes from that end.” Marcus chimed as he readied his service pistols, a gift from his father that he treasured.
‘Will do!’ Scully replied with a smile. Marcus knew Scully loved days like this. No infiltrating or tiptoeing around; Just a regular old fashioned blood bath.
They both sensed the guards approaching: the quiet footfall of professional mercenaries. Marcus guessed about six on each side. Easy enough he thought to himself.
He aimed his gun and steadied himself.
As he saw the first sliver of a gun metal helmet peer around the corner, Marcus fired. The bullet whizzed in and out of his target’s head in a flash, startling the men around him. As they reached for their guns, Marcus fired again. Another soldier fell, the rest firing at Marcus’ retreating frame.
Pulling a grenades from his vest, Marcus threw it into the corridor. The firing ceased in response to Marcus’ present, the guards running for cover. Marcus waited, withdrawing his second pistol from his hip. He glanced to the other side of the walkway where Scully wasdispatching guard after guard, his smile broadening with each kill. Marcus still didn’t know what to quite make of him; he just trusted what he saw on the battlefield. He was a man too willing to sully his hands.
The guards were probably now thinking that the grenade was dud. There was no bang, or light or smoke; so they made their way down the corridor. As the first guard past the grenade he saw a small light flash from its tip. The ground vibrated as the grenade went off. Turning the corner amongst the smoke and strewn body parts he looked for any survivors. From the corner he heard a light moan. The blast and thrown one of the guards to the back wall. He was bleeding heavily from his severed leg and would die; painfully. Marcus looked into the guard’s eyes as he raised his gun. The silence in their gaze spoke more than any words either could have muttered. As he squeezed the trigger Marcus called out to Scully. “Corridor clear!”
“Coming! “He said as he dispatched the final guard. He ran quickly around the bend and down to the end of the corridor. As he jogged, he surveyed the damage done by his commander. I do not want to fight him…ever’
They combed the walkway slowly, ensuring that they were no more traps or troops. In one of the walls, there was a metal sliding door. To the left there was a biometric scanner for a hand print. “Crap.” Marcus sighed.” Now we have to go back and…”
“Get a hand?” Scully replied holding the mangled hand of one of the guards. “I was in a hurry so the cut wasn’t clean.”
Taking the severed hand, he placed it on the scanner. The door opened with a small chime as the wheeled across, revealing a room of LCD screens, levers and switches.
“You know what to do, Scully”, Marcus chimed as he looked at the monitors.
“Bring in the cavalry and notify you if anything changes with the ‘prize’ and the ‘target’.” Scully replied sarcastically. “The ‘prize’ is three doors down after you turn the corner. The ‘target’ is at the end of the hall. Make it back in one piece alright?”
“I’ll try, Scully.”
Marcus left the room, the metallic clank of the door putting a chill into his bones. The end of the war was at the end of the counter. He knew that there would be the elite guards there; men who had been trained just as hard and as long as he was. But capturing the ‘prize’ came first. Their contact on the inside was a scientist; Dr. Mauro Alva. From the little he had managed to research on him, Marcus understood why he was the prize. A pioneer in genetic engineering, he would be a great asset in solving the global food crisis that was gripping the world. Many said that the war was necessitated by the famine that had gripped the former Cariamerica states. As he reached the corner, hesitation gripped him.
He emerged from behind the wall scanning the situation quickly. Four guards, full tactical armor. The first guard, who had shielded his eyes, had trained his gun on Marcus’ advancing frame. Marcus kept his eye on the barrel of the gun noting its position. Guns fire in straight lines. Get your bearings from the barrel and if you’re fast enough, you can cheat fate. He always heard his father’s voice when he used his techniques.
He had holstered his guns as he ran to the guard, eyes still trained on the barrel. As the guard started to squeeze the trigger he reacted. Left and down he thought as he arched his back down. The bullet tore through the air, grazing the back of his armor as he continued running. The guard squeezed again. Roll forward. The second bullet clipped the side of right leg. From the compartment on his thigh he pulled a long bowie knife, which seemed to gleam through the slight smoke in the corridor. He threw it at the guard skewering him in the chest. The eyes of the other guards had readjusted just enough and they all began to fire at Marcus’ frame.
As the skewered guard fell, Marcus ran beneath him resting his dying body across his. Removing his knife, Marcus continued running into the firestorm, using the guard as cover. Quickly he shortened he distance between him and the other guards. He threw his knife again aiming at the guard closest to him. The knife cleaved the guard’s helmet as he dropped to the floor still firing his gun. Inching forward, Marcus removed the final grenade from his chest. He stuck it into the office his knife had created. He pushed the corpse off of his body towards the last two guards as the pulled the pin. He dropped flat on the ground as the guard’s body exploded, spewing viscera everywhere. Reaching for his pistol, Marcus arose, his sights set on the two guards, or what was left of them. He surveyed his wounds: the graze on his shin and two clean shots through his right hand.
He could feel the numbness of his body going into shock, but he didn’t let it set in. Pain is a killer. Worry about what you’re going through now and you won’t live to see tomorrow. His father’s words always played in his mind.
Slowly he walked over to the guard he impaled and removed his knife. Kneeling down, he removed the guard’s left hand. He then ambled to the doctor’s office and placed the hand on the scanner. As the door opened he saw them: The target holding the prize at gunpoint.
’Kill me and he dies.”