ONE MORE MOMENT OF HAPPINESS.
The sixth entry in the diary of Jesse Charleston Maith
18 December 15 N.G, 2335hrs.
We’re home. At least for the next few days.
Funny, at the end of Basic, I tried little to convince anyone that Hathawayans are real. I was more relieved to be leaving that godforsaken base so I can enjoy Christmas with my family.
I still have the motivation I need to go into battle, and I’d suppressed my anti-Stewart feeling and so-called “conspiracy theories” about his true intentions.
Until after the graduation ceremony.
After Sgt. Louis gave his speech praising Platoon 809 for its valor and bravery, and thanking us, blah blah blah, he mentioned he had a very special pre-recorded message prepared from an Endgame veteran, only known as “Agent O.” I found it strange why this one would stay anonymous or why their face appeared muzzled on the giant holoscreen behind the podium where Louis stood. Equally bizarre yet amusing was its robotic voice.
I disregarded those quirks. But as Agent O got into the whole bit about good luck, remembering our training, and reminding us we represent the greatest nation on earth, the words and phrases with sinister tones it used sounded like someone I’d known in my life. Someone I’d crossed paths with. At first, I thought it was Principal Harrison, but I could argue it was Francis Stewart! It wouldn’t be a surprise, considering he always wants to take credit for other people’s work.
What if it was someone I know?! Hell, I believe my parents and Aunt Stacy are alive, but it’s impossible. Plus, none of them could be that nefarious!
Perhaps I miss them so much, but that’s my teenage mind believing anyone close to me I’ve lost will somehow resurrect and reassure me everything is going to be okay, like in those stupid kiddie movies, right?
Maybe I am losing it…
Well… with that said, I promised Mary I’d read the latest Justice League comic with her; it’s her way of coping with her emotions before deployment.
I promise you one more entry before then. But for now, be free, however long that may be.
Christmas Eve, 15 N.G.
The Maith family, the Schale family, and the Faithville Four were gathered in the lavish dining room of Greg and Beth Jacobson, festively feasting on roasted turkey, garlic mashed potatoes, biscuits, and assorted vegetables.
The two brightly lit chandeliers shone over a king-sized white porcelain table, accentuating the green and red Christmas lights strung upon the windowsill behind Greg at the end of the tables. Symbolically, they highlighted the DRF flags draped on either side along with Endgame military paraphernalia and yellow ribbons fastened to the beige drywall.
The collective mood amongst the group was jovial, with nary a hint of trepidation for what was about to occur in the days following Christmas. No hint of family drama or political tension threatened to spoil one more moment of happiness.
Until after dinner, when the Jacobsons’ overt patriotism overtook conversation.
“I’ve always talked about how proud we are to have neighbors like you,” Greg began as he finished chewing on a biscuit. “We say it cheekily, but I’m full of pride calling Jesse, Mary, and Matthew our neighbors. Your devotion to this country has earned us eternal respect, and I know you’ve made God and Joshua equally proud as you’ve made your family.”
“Patriotism is the noblest virtue of all,” Beth added. “If you don’t love your country, you hate life, period.”
Jesse paused in appreciation for their kind words, but flinched at the idea of their acts making them feel good.
“Thank you, Greg and Beth,” Jesse gingerly replied. “But I don’t think we should be called heroes. I believe we’re doing what anyone else would do given the circumstances.”
“Revenge is an ancillary benefit,” Greg added.
“Well, with all due respect, Greg,” Jesse retorted, “My aunt, their mother, was killed. It is about revenge.”
“So you’re saying this isn’t about defending freedom, either? Defending your country?!” Beth asked, her tone gradually inflecting to enraged and menacing.
Sensing this, Matt cut off his cousin to quell any potential tension. “Of course, it’s about defending the Divine Republic!” he enthusiastically shouted, eliciting a smile from both Greg and Beth. “Son of a lady dog, it feels good!” He was clearly acting, but it didn’t deter the Jacobsons from flaunting their pride.
’That’s what I like to hear!” Greg yelled, putting his hand over his heart. He and Beth began humming the national anthem under their breaths.
“I just hope this incursion is quick,” Mary nervously chimed, “and that you-know-who doesn’t get trigger-happy.”
“That’s another thing,” Beth interrupted. “His Magnificence was right all along!”
“Well,” Jesse, attempting to project calmness to avoid triggering a passionate rant from either Beth or Greg, “he was right about Fetisov caving in…”
“He was right about peace or death being a farce!” Beth aggressively interjected. “It’s why we stockpiled on lasers, for this moment! If we need to protect ourselves from those Knats if they come to invade Clarkson, we’ll be ready!”
“I’m pretty sure they won’t…” Jesse fruitlessly countered. He, his cousins, the Schales, and the Four could only sit back and watch the Jacobsons rave, especially when they invoked racial slurs.
“How do you know that?!” Greg irritably asked. “What if the initial incursion into Seattle fails, huh? How long before the Knats reach our borders? How long before they H-bomb New York?!”
“Who says they won’t do it tomorrow? On Christmas?!” Beth shouted.
“Yeah!” Greg barked. “They could…”
“GUYS!” Jesse boomed, causing a silence so awkward, everyone in the room froze in place, seemingly afraid of what Jesse was going to say next. After a few seconds, Jesse took a deep breath, then sat down. “We can disagree on what you-know-who gets credit for and what he doesn’t. No matter your opinions or mine, the reality is we’ll be going to battle next week to seek revenge on New Alaska. This isn’t just at a personal level! This is at a national level, especially for the families of those that died on 9/25! Isn’t that patriotic enough?”
Greg and Beth hesitated to answer, sinking into Jesse’s throat and eliciting further silence from the group. After a few heart-stopping moments, Greg sighed and acknowledged Jesse’s statement.
“He’s right,” Greg conceded. “We’re all in this together. If Beth and I didn’t have bad knees, we’d be there on the front-lines voluntarily. We’re with all of you. One hundred percent.”
Beth then led the group in the most awkward toast in history. The Maith children and Sarah hesitated in raising their glasses. They didn’t match the enthusiasm of Bob, the Four, and the Jacobsons, and after the toast concluded, a gawkiness once again befell the group, and lingered for the rest of the meal.