Reflections of The Past

Reflections of the Past

 

“Human nature is evil.. Goodness is caused by intentional activity.”-XUN KUANG

 

Dessert air crackles with the sounds of gunfire from near and far. Small arms, a few larger caliber pops, but nothing that concerns you. The scents of the desert heat, stale body odor, animal shit, and urine assaults the very nature of cleanliness.  A blade unsheathed, and hangs lightly in the hand, as the gun rides secure in the hoster. The knife, of your design and manufacture, a familiar weapon, or tool, depending on what end you were on. The gesture was more nervous twitch than actual application of the weapon.  On the edge of vision, a dust cloud stirs small at first, then builds to a tunnel like vortex. The familiar excitement builds as that familiar rush of adrenaline courses through your body. The mind races through the plan, then backup plans are reviewed in the seconds that pass as the vehicle nears you.  Calm now…Emotions gone…A cold chill seeps into the brain, and washes over you. Time slows down, elongates and almost stops, as the action unfolds below. A symphony of destruction, of death, of paid-karma. A small shock wave moves through you as several bright flashes churn the air, cleansing the stench with phosphorus fire.  Then the familiar smell of fuel and gelatin burning as the improvised napalm covers the vehicles and spills to the ground; a cleansing by fire… ‘Hello Waiter, Yes, I will take the appetizer of seared translator, with the entree of well done insurgent leadership, and for dessert, a large order of deep fried security team please.’  The events unfold in front of you almost exactly as you had intended.  Explosions, fire and the screams of the dying fill the air. As quickly as they scream they stop, heat and concussive force are mighty things.  Three vehicles disabled, the security detail that came out of the vehicles were eliminated by secondary explosives, and more incendiary devices.  You wait….Patience… Patience is everything. They have no means to communicate, a transponder planted just out of sight has made all the fancy gear they carried useless.  Now just to wait…Just a little more.. They will think that it’s just an IED and no one is waiting for them. Just wait a little longer… The fires on the vehicles are burning out… Eight of the thirteen occupants are dead and still smoldering just outside the vehicles.  The tires have melted from the rims. Patience now. You must have patience. The butterflies inside your gut are about to erupt as the energy seems to crest on your body, causing goosebumps to form.

 

“So, you going to finish this or play with them?” Snarks your partner, just over a whisper, even though there was noise, it was not wise to give away your position.

 

A chuckle escapes your lips, “I’m not playing with them, I’m observing reactions, and making notes for future encounters in this neck of the woods.  You would be wise to be more observant”

 

“Another experiment then?” He half chided, looking up from his binoculars, as he surveyed the area.

 

“Something like that.  I have to become proficient in my craft don’t I?” You smile under your face wrap.  You know what you’re doing and it’s dirty work, but a bit fun as well. There was always something addicting about hunting human prey.

 

“You sick fuck, just glad you’re on our side.” Your partner pokes and jousts with you.  It’s the only way he can gauge what side of the fence you’re on. He has seen this shift in demeanor, personality, and vocal expression many times.   Danny Burgess has been working with you since you were both selected and hauled in for training early in your ‘official’ military careers. It was in the swamps of Fort Polk, that you met each other and bonded.  Almost like mirror images of one another, from different sides of the US you came to that god forsaken bayou hell, but you both emerged stronger and partners in crime, so to speak.

 

Another chuckle escapes your lips, “That’s a matter of perspective!  Yes?”

 

“Stop that perspective shit, it clouds the truth.  No matter what perspective you take, you just killed a bunch of people.  Its like you are starting to enjoy this, maybe a little too much.” A little louder this time.  Danny ponders, Yes, you have gotten good at this.  Setting traps, improvising things along the way, creating ever increasing ways to eliminate targets by unconventional means.  Maybe too good.

 

“Enjoy?” Humanity pokes back into the conversation and speak through you.

 

“Yeah, you have had a smile on your face all day, humming that damn tune over and over, and generally acting like a kid at Christmas.” Danny spoke a little more forceful now.  The fires were burning out below and whomever was left alive would start to depart the vehicles soon.

 

“Well, I wouldn’t call it excitement.  More like pent up energy wanting to get all this done.” You try justification as a means to diffuse the anger you feel coming from Danny.  He was your top cover and you his, but things had been really strained since they came to this Unit. It was a weird group, operations off any normal scope.  No uniforms to speak of. Loose operational control. At least the chow was good and the showers hot, not to mention the pay was way more than expected.

 

“Bullishit.” Danny said agitated.  He knew that Matt was not this way at his core, but just changed gears as the situations presented themselves..  But still, this was getting a bit worrisome, even for him.

 

“Shhh. they are finally going to leave the vehicle.  Now it’s time that YOU get to work.” Serious now, you rest on the butt stock of a familiar weapon, eye trained down the scope. You pull the small blanket over your head, darkening your vision, making it sharp. More focused on the targets and less on the surroundings.  This weapon is one of your favorites. Not because its light, or easy to carry, far from it. It’s the most effective for your work.

 

“Yes it is.  Okay, i’ll call out the targets.” Replied Danny, and with a few words they set to work.

 

The sound of a safety being clicked into the fire position punctuated the arid, and now putrid air.  In quick succession large caliber armor piercing rounds ensure that the last of the vehicle occupants are no longer with the living. With rounds also being placed on downed targets to ensure death. After waiting, silently for a little longer.  Letting the area rest, and the area come to a place of calm, The two figures rise gently from hiding and take their leave.

 

“So, you going to set off the charges?” Danny asked a little terse.  This could have been accomplished days ago. This sorte didn’t have to be like this. Matt was a dead shot and could have gotten this done with a longer range application.  However, Matt had been increasingly eager to mix in closer to the action. Get right down to eye level with the targets, up close and personal to the nasty. It was troubling to say the least.

 

“Of course!”  Sounded Matt. The concussion of secondary explosions ring through the air, as the little building that were hiding in, all but vaporizes.

 

“You know we are running out of time to meet the extraction.” Said Danny, eager to get out of this crap, to a hot shower and hot food in his belly.

 

Matt replied, like a child that had just been scolded, “I kinda like it here.”

 

“Seriously, we need to leave.” Danny said sternly, taking the tact of a parent.  It would seem that his response is what Matt responded to lately. It wasn’t like Matt was not effective at his work, or lazy in action.  It was just that he was seeming to lose his sense of humanity in his work, and it took a bit for it to come back. With each of these missions, it would seem it was taking longer and longer for Matt to be Matt again.    

 

“Okay, we can leave, but I’m not going to brief the CO when we get back.  That blowhard is about as trifling as it gets and he is NOT deserving of the rank on his shoulder.” Stated Matt, almost sulking.

 

“Wow, a little crass are we?” Danny glared at him.  

 

“Well, I’m getting tired of him to say the least. He has been circling us like a vulture since training.  Now it would seem that we get sucked into these little operations more and more. I only signed on for 2 years of this. It’s been 6. “  Matt snapped back as he started the truck and moved out onto the dusty road into open dessert.

 

Danny replied, while checking his rifle and putting his foot on the dashboard.  “We have 2 days left out here, I would rather not cause a shit storm.”

 

“Okay, let’s get a move on, I think that the chow hall is open.” Matt said while looking at his watch. It would be dusk in a few hours, and dead night after.  There was no moon tonight.

 

In short order, the two made their way to a spot out in the middle of nowhere. Just a spot, a random coordinate in open dessert, perfect place to pick up two killers that had racked up a decent kill count for the week.  In the distance a speck on the horizon quickly became an unmarked helo. Coming in just over the dunes. Looking out, it was one of the new ones, the quiet ones. Hovering close the ground the two boarded, and sat in the jump seats.  Turning, one of the two triggered the last of the explosives reducing the stolen truck they were using into pieces and smoldering waste. The 40 minute ride back took way too long. Danny looked over and Matt was sound asleep in the jump seat.  Head lolling as his chin was in his chest. On the tarmac they were met by the handler, a very young looking female intelligence officer, almost fresh out of the FBI Academy.

 

“You two need to debrief fast, and get on the next transit flight out.  You’re needed stateside.” she stated matter of factly.

 

“Seriously I just got here,” quipped Danny, looking her over with a sexual desire that needed to be answered.  He was a different kind of predator.

 

Looking like he was pouting, “What, we have another objective here.” sulked Matt.

 

Turning slightly to face Matt, “That was given to the other team a few hours ago. You were taking too long. Besides, you two are have other things to worry about,” she said.

Neither of them got the chance to ask her, as the darkening night became day.  Mortars fell inside the camp, explosions from all around. The young female you were speaking with moments ago lay across you in pieces; your teammate a few more feet away, lying still.  The ringing in your ears made it hard to hear what was going on as your struggled to look around, rolling over onto your side and then knees. Then, it happened again, something clicks into place, a thing takes over.  The pain you felt washed away, replaced with a low hum of heat spreading through your injured body. You get up…stumbling a bit toward the perimeter, you have no weapons aside from your blades, a baton, and plenty of smaller nasty things.  Making your way toward the perimeter, away from the commotion that was coming from the west. Looking over one of the makeshift walls, you jump over and then a short jog into the shadows. You are safe, in the dark, Alone. Finally alone.

 

Night comes as the attack continues on the camp.  Members of the defense teams are pushing back against the attackers.  From a nestled spot, in the comfort of the shadows, you see several members of the attacking force resting just inside a blown out store front.  Making a quiet approach, a self locking cable loop is slipped like lighting around the head and down onto the neck of an unsuspecting insurgent. The cable quickly drawn tight enough for blood, ensuring death to whomever or whatever it’s drawn around.  The human reaches for its neck, as you break the knee, dropping you first victim of the night to the ground. The brief confusion, gives you the seconds needed to leap at the larger of the two remaining men. Your leap is on target, as both knees impact his chest and your blade sinks into his neck, ripping it free as you both slam into some rubble, the middle aged smelly bearded man, sinks to the ground, trying to stop the blood, the light of single lantern dancing in his eyes. The last of the three scrambles back and up, dazed.  You kick the lantern toward him. The fuel spilling from it, catches his long garments on fire. He screams and flails and rolls on the ground. In the small commotion, you reach over, grab the can of fuel they had used and pour it over him. Curses turned to screams, and screams turned to sobs as the flames engulf him. Three dead in less than a minute, not bad. Making a quick survey of the area, you picked up a weapon and several magazines, then made a fast exit….the night was young..and there were people to kill, the hunt was on.  

 

Quickly you make your way up to gain some vantage.  The little commotion you started is drawing attention.  You wait, just up and out of sight. Your humanity has finally slipped away as you survey your prey.  You watch, gaining information, listening. Gathering details on others in the area. It was a small force, mostly the mortars and rocket propelled grenades all released at once.  It was a shock and run attack. You think to yourself. “…can I kill them all before day break?”  you move off silently, to the east.  Rounding a corner, you spot two of the little group of curtain-wearing-towel-heads.  You stop, blend into the shadows and wait. As they both turn to look at an oncoming vehicle you fire four rounds, two strike each person, wounding them.  You move to higher ground, leaving them. A little bait for later.

 

Chuckling, you remember that you laced all the rounds in the magazines with rat urine and feces.  In any case, if they survive they will die slowly. You chuckle again, looking for higher ground. Circling the the little FOB, you notice that the few civilians that were left in the area a day ago have departed, the little town or whatever you want to call it, is deserted except for the fighters and a random news crew.  This is where you decide to ensure that no one will be getting any video of this. Leaning in closely to a broken down truck, you ease in. You have 6 rounds left. 4 people…..Hmmm…..An explosion rocks you as the camera crew comes under hostile fire. You roll out and up. The three ragheads didn’t know what hit them as you attacked. Firing and moving from shadow to shadow. Two down, you kick the third, knocking his weapon away, He draws a sword of native origin, raising your weapon, click..empty…he charges.  Blocking the first charge with the empty weapon, you knee him in the gut and back him off a bit. Blades it is then. You toy with the man. Cuts and stabs find their way all over him as you egg him on. You’re not without a few cuts as well, but you feel no pain at all. The other side of yourself doesn’t accept pain, and uses it as fuel. Finally you end the life of the man with a blade to the neck, twisting it slowly and pulling it free, leaving a gaping hole in his throat. You savor the moment, looking in his eyes as he slips into the afterlife….Cradling the now dead human to the ground as you would a child.  The smell of the blood is intoxicating as you move out of the area, still covered with the gore from the people you have killed. Before melding back into the shadows, you look back making eye contact with the reporter….she is frozen, this all took place a few meters from where they were. Lifting your blade, you lick the blood from it, smile at her, turn and meld back into the shadow. There are more to kill.

 

The next few hours are spent quietly moving around, picking up things you might need.  Scattered ammunition from undisciplined fighters, wire, a few cans of dog food, which you ate quickly.  Looking out from a blown out two story storefront, you see a small group of fighters massing beside the south entrance to the compound.  They’re next. You set out to deal more vengeance, the night was dark, no moon. Perfect! You had always had better than human night vision, it would pay off this night.  As you make a silent approach, one of the men walks straight toward your location, he squatted a few feet from you and started relieving himself.

A smile creases your lips, as earlier in your gathering efforts you had looped a length of wire, and was going to use it as a snare, but in a flash, you threw it around the young man’s neck, cutting off his wind, and voice.  You dragged him back into the shadows, loop the other end up over an exposed pipe, and hung him there. As the young man flailed around, you gutted him like a deer, letting his entrails spill on the ground. For a second you survey the scene.  Then, leaving it. Moving off quickly, circling around just to the flank of the little group. Just 5 left now.

 

Listing to the conversation, they were getting worried about the young man, four of the five paired off and started to search in opposite directions.  Two in each group, one towel-head was left. Licking your lips, salivating like a hungry animal waiting for just the right moment to strike. You waited, for the small group to give you just the right distance.  Just a few more seconds, and they found the young man..loud yells were heard, the single man turned away from you, toward the voices. This is when you pounced, picking up a steel pipe you lept from your perch, striking the man in the center of his head, the wet ping of metal on bone rang in your ears, as you rolled to a stop and kept going, into and through the building they were in front of.  One of the two groups spotted you, and opened fire on the building as your run. One of the rounds finding it way into your chest, just on the edge of your body armor. Knocking the wind from you, you stumble and fall through and open window to the ground. Scrambling up, you keep moving, something else is taking over in your mind. Something repressed. Something hidden. Heat enters your body, the world explodes in color and light.  Hearing becomes acute, smells sharper. Then it happens again. Time seems to slow down as you move, a distant grunt escapes you, as you move faster than a human could or even should, easily avoiding the ones in pursuit. You burst into another ramshackle building and shut the door behind you. Sensing that the chase had been abandoned, you sit quietly, gaining your breath, surveying the damage and making plans for attack and defense. Hearing nothing around you, sensing nothing living, you take off the body armour and start to clean the wound…

 

~Inside FOB 4-035~ (Forward Operating Base)

 

“What do you mean, he walked out after the attack” Snarled General Thomas, (General Thomas O’Landier…AKA: Baba-Legba)

 

“Yes, several of the ground crew saw him just walk out of the camp.  He looked injured, but he just walked out.” The report given by one of the leader of the defense team.  General Thomas knew this person, he selected them all, but this operation was a large one. The person name just escaped thim.

 

Speaking up was the leader of the Scout and Sniper Teams, “General, there are reports of killings outside the perimeter that you need to see.”

 

“Please tell me, before I pull the evac order, and get us all the hell out of the third world shit hole.”

 

“Sniper positions to the east and west report movement, but were unable to track it through streets.  Whomever was moving knew where to walk and where to avoid. Also, a scout team out in the east reported they found 3 dead, one of strangled with a locking cable, one had most of its throat ripped out and the other burned to death. We recalled them after.  Whatever is happening outside the wire, the targets seem to be the attackers not us.”

 

The door burst open, it was the Second in Command, Major Maddox. “General, there is a news team at the west gate, wanting safe harbor.  They say that they witnessed someone kill a group of the attacking force, and want to speak to someone.”

 

“Hm… sounds like the Little Ghost has finally had enough of those chains he keeps so carefully locked around himself…  Yes, Yes. Go ahead and let them in, and bring them to me. Also, is his partner conscious yet?”

 

“ Yes Sir, Corporal Burgess is back in his hut awaiting orders.” responded the Major.

 

“Let me talk to him.  Also, call back anyone we have in the area.  We will EVAC in 10 hours, start making the preparations.  Pack it up, we are out of the Shit Hole.” Ordered General Thomas, as he jumped to his feet, turned and gave the middle finger out the window as a final Fuck You, to this shit hole.

 

“Yes Sir, General Thomas!” The Major saluted, did an about-face and set to work.

 

In short order the reporter and her crew were escorted to see the General.  Once inside, all there gear was forcefully taken and every piece of electronic media was destroyed. Even the cameras were pounded to bits on the floor in front of them.  Soon they would learn the one rule of working with General Thomas.

 

“ We’re American Citizens, you can’t do this,” screamed the female reporter.

Chuckling “Cunt, you can shut the fuck up and go back out the door, I dont give a damn about you, your gear or if you live or die.” said General Thomas sternly.

 

“You’re US military, you can’t do this,” she screamed as all the members of the crew were forcefully searched and stripped naked in the middle of the room.  All there clothing, gear, documents…everything was destroyed. Burned in the little pot bellied stove that was in the corner of the room.

 

Laughing deeply “look around, cunt.  Do you see anything that’s marked USA.  Stupid whore, you walked up to the wrong gate.  Now, tell me what you saw, and maybe, just maybe…I will drop you close to the border, and you can walk to the American outpost.

 

“I am going to report you, I have your name, they called you gener….” she was cut short…..the general took out his sidearm and shot there interpreter…..the other three stood there in shock.  They had no idea who they had asked for help. The was a Raven unit, 114 killers and support staff. Go anywhere, set up a small camp, survive. There motto — Take Everything, Give Nothing!

 

“Like I said, tell me what I want to know, and live,” smiled General Thomas.  He knew they wouldn’t survive the walk to the American outpost…but at least he did not kill americans…..this time.

 

~~ Back Outside The Camp~~

 

You’re calm.  Breathing steady and slow.  Hearing acute, the world is still lit from the  weird colors dancing in your vision. As you cleaned the wound, there was a stroke of good luck, the round did not penetrate, but the impact still left a depression in your chest. It was already starting to bruise and pool blood.  Inside your med kit, was a small scalpel. Making a small incision, the blood oozed steadily from the wound. It would leave a mark on the left upper of your pectoral, another scare to add to the roadmap of pain. A flashback, your childhood……the sparring ring, your older sister is beating the shit out of you.  Father and mother were out of town on business. She is 22 years your senior, you are about 12. Slaps, knees, punches, all land hard, as she curses you. You hold your own on defense; however, you’re still getting banged around. She keeps calling you a little bastard, and leach. You struggle with the realization….why is this happening, what had you done to spark this kind of anger and hatred.  You are knocked to the far side of the ring…Down! You went down hard. Then it happens for the first time. The cold slips into you, the calm takes you. Your mind shuts down, and the world seems to slow down. You get up as she curses you, you see her take a few steps back, and then she charges. A roar escapes your being as you start to counter everything she throws at you. You move inside and past her defence and strikes.  You center on nerves centers, points that will cause the maximum pain, without dealing lasting damage. Her words fade into the background as you keep pressing the attack….soon she is backed into the corner of the ring. She stops and looks at you, then…you just walk away. This fight is over…The next time you would talk to this sibling was when your father died….some 20 years later.

 

A scent draws you from the silent reverie.  Sulfur, and rotten milk….A smoke beacon. You get up quietly and start to work your way up and out of the building and to the roof.  You had to get some height to get perspective. There in the distance….a beacon, used to mark a landing zone. Then it dawns on you. There is no moon, no power in the area, the only light in inside the base.  So, either this was an evac order for anyone in the area, or they were calling you. There are only two people that know you have this night vision…General Thomas and Danny….You decide to investigate.

 

Moving quietly, like water flowing over rocks, you move from spot to spot getting closer to the beacon.  Rounding the corner, you see it, and “him” sitting there. General Thomas came out to get you back. “Took you long enough, ready to get back inside the wire?”

 

Almost Hissing, “Why leave, the night’s young, and there are more to kill.  I can see them milling around just a few streets away. So ripe…so full of life…that needs to be taken.”

 

“So it was you,”

 

“Me, little ole me, what did I do?”

 

Chuckling a little, with one hand on his sidearm “You gutted a kid, crushed the skull of another, set someone else on fire, shall I continue?”

 

“Well, in that case. Yes it was me.  Now, why did you call me, I have work left to do.  That was one of our objectives. ‘Everyone in the town was expendable?  Right?”

 

“Let’s not mince words. You knew the objective.  This little distraction, needs to stop.”

 

“Um…I’m having too much fun, besides, they killed Danny, I need to kill them.”

 

“Pup, your partner isn’t dead, he’s recovering in medical.”

 

“Oh good, so I really have no excuse for this….other than its just FUN.”

 

“Pretty much.  Look, we are going to evac in 4 hours, you are either on the helo out, or we leave you here. Period!”

 

“Understood”  You snapped a salute, turned and melted back into the shadows.  You were just not ready to let go of this fun game your were playing.  The game of killer and killed, predator and prey. The blood and excitement were just too much for you to let go of.  

 

A bit of time later,  you found yourself perched on a ledge overlooking a growing group of fighters below you.  None of them could have been over 20 in age. They were arguing a bit with each other, like a pack of day one recruits at basic training.  Looking up, you see the first of the helicopters start to take off, the heavy lift ones with all the major gear. Later, they would be smaller, just people.  To cover our tracks and destroy any ancillary evidence, a fire would break out and burn whatever was left into a mass of unusable scrap. Typical of this kind of operation. As you watch them, your mind calms.  You start to process and come into check, the cold slips away, replaced with your “human side”. Knowing what is about to happen, you rise and make your way back the base. Nearing the checkpoint, you flash the correct sign at the guard, and are allowed to approach. It’s a simple flashlight code, that can be given at a distance, then the countersign from the guard and all is well.   They greet you with thanks for “giving it back to the locals” and other forms of jockish bravado.  Pain is starting, you can feel your legs, hands, back,,,,well your whole body had taken damage.  A sick feeling enters your stomach as you begin to process the events that started about 10 hours ago.  It’s a weird thing when this happens, your mind records what is going on, but its like you are powerless to stop what is unfolding.  Your father called it an Acute Fight or Flight Response, but yours seemed to always be stuck on Fight.  Making your way to medical, a corpsman grabs you as the void takes you.  There you remain for about 24 hours, safe, with comrades.

 

~~ From Here, Things Start to Become Normal~~

 

With The Evac order was given a few hours previous, things ramp up as pack up is completed and gear is stored.  Toward the end it always seems like a frantic Snatch-n-Grab. All the expendable assets were left to burn and all the equipment and data was taken.  Watching this from a small window sat General Thomas and his fairly new intelligence officer, Captain Burke

 

“You know if word of this gets out, it’s going to cause a shit storm in DC,” Burke half stated and half asked.  The tone was less accusatory, and more What The Fuck are We Going To Do.

 

With more pride in his voice than remorse the General snapped back at Burke, “Understood, but that’s what we do.  All the nasty shit that the politicians and suits don’t want to do, we are left to be the executioners,assassins or protectors given the right circumstances.”

 

“General, the operative you so closely covet,  gutted locals, set them on fire and baited them with the wounded. You can’t….” Said Burke as he was cut short.  The General in a smooth motion, with speed that rivaled thought, unholsters his sidearm and points it in the face of the intel officer.  “I know you’re new to our little circus, but please understand. What we do isn’t on any radar, or even a manning document. The funding is buried so far down in the budget that 99.9% of the Government doesn’t even know we exist, but we’re the first call when something gets too sticky for them.  Ah, you want to know about the Little Ghost.  The Pride of the Training Program, but hardly the only one, and certainly not the last.   I’m sure that you noticed everyone avoids you, doesn’t look at you, and seldom listens to you.  Its because you have not yet been told the one and only rule of our life in the troop of freeks, outcasts, and rejects. You have yet to become a reject….you are still pure. Do you understand yet?”

 

Shaking a bit, “No, I don’t.  I was transferred here right after my tour in the sandbox, I didn’t apply or even ask.  So, No I don’t know.” Burke replied visibly shaken a little. He was starting to get his mind around it over the last few weeks. This unit was like a dysfunctional family.  No one really reported to anyone, but they completed sorte’s and assignments with gusto. It was loose, he would give them very basic intel, and they would go to work. It was a departure from the normal miliary where intel was prized and the operative wanted details on everything.  This unit was the opposite, just give them a face, a rough coordinate and some general details, and they seemed to handle it.

“The only truth is that we’re all expendable, but I get to pull the trigger”  Then the general shot his intel officer, point blank, in the chest. The light body armor vest held, but the pain of that exchange would be felt for some time.  When Burke regained his composure, the General leaned down and spoke to him, just over a whisper. “Know that if you don’t do your job, I will kill you myself, burn your body, and never look back.  Also, if one of them goes to far, I will be the one to put them down. Understand?” Burke nodded and got to his feet. The two departed the little building they had commendered and walked out to the waiting helo.

“General, just so you know.  Little Ghost came back an hour or so ago, he has lapsed into a coma and medical is treating him.”  Burke stated matter of factly. His chest ablaze, breath coming in short gasps.

 

“Good, how badly was he hurt.”

 

“Unknown, from what I was told, he should have been dead, they pulled a dozen or more shrapnel fragments from his left side, supposedly this was from the mortar attack yesterday.  But curious, the docs say that he lost an incredible amount of blood, he should have been dead. When he arrived, he had respiration almost without a heartbeat. Doc said that he should not have been able to walk, let alone do everything he did.  There is also evidence that he had planned more eliminations before you went and chatted with him. They found materials in every pocket of this clothing.”

 

“Now you know why the little freak is in the circus… He can take a licking and keep on ticking.  He is one of the most resourceful assets we have. Put him in a round room, he will find the corner, or make one, then exploit it for tactical advantage”  Chuckled the General as the helo took off and the first of the fires started below them.

 

Epilogue

When Matt came to a day later, he awoke to a non-military hospital.  He was alone, he had no clothing, or Id or anything with him. After a few nurses came in, he managed to piece together he was in Iceland, just outside the base in a civilian hospital.  A hour or so passed as Matt looked out the window as the snow had started to fall, wondering what day it was, how much time had passed, when was the last time he called home to let Luke know he was alive.  Matt was calm, really calm, in a way the caught his attention. Medication? He heard footstep coming, they were heavier than the rest of the nurses or doctors, it was someone different.

 

Entering, it was General Thomas and Burke, they were in civilian clothes.  “Good you’re awake!” Burke said smiling at him, and putting a duffle bag on the rolling table by the bed.  

 

“Well Little Ghost, you did well this tour.  It’s time we sent you back home to heal. You’ll be needed again soon enough.” The General walked over and placed a hand on Matts forearm, reassuring, like a father would touch a child that was sick.  All you did was nod and smile at him.

 

“I’ll be waiting outside the front.  We need to be on the aircraft in 45, here is a set of clothing and papers from your crash-kit.  (Crash Kit=a set of civilian clothes and all personal documents that you leave behind when doing a mission)  You nod again and they leave the room. Left alone in the quiet again, you get up and get dressed. The clothing hids most of the bandages.  Looking at your watch to gain some perspective of time, its been 9 days since you called Luke. He was sure to be a wreck, but happier when you get home.  Walking out, your mind started to clear. Easily finding the car, you stayed quiet all the way home. Little did you know that in a few weeks, this would be repeated again….and then again……and again…until you just had enough of it.  But that is a topic for another story…..Peace

 

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