13. Moral Booster

Jody and I walked back to the housing complex. It was hard for both of us. I was injured incredibly bad. With every step pain shot up from my legs, it went to my singed side, and it burned with a fury rarely found this side of Hell, then the skin on my back stretched and my gunshot wound stung like there was no tomorrow. Then I was battered and bruised from getting hit by the truck, and I had bits of glass embedded in my skin from the windshield.

The makeshift bandage that Jody and I made out of what remained of my shirt, and a piece of rope was soaked with blood within minutes. I wasn't doing too good. All the blood I had lost was making me extremely dizzy. I am used to pain though. It had been a constant part of my life for several years.

Jody on the other hand was a schoolgirl, who was suddenly thrown into my world. And my rough take down of the cars had left it's mark. While the seats acted like a seat belt preventing her from going out the windshield, it was much rougher than a belt. Her whole left side, including her arm and hands were thoroughly bruised. And she was limping. Normally I would have carried her, but I couldn't even lift my arms with out falling over I was so disorientated.

If anything, I would hope that I am realistic. I realized why I was so disorientated. I was slowly dying. My body could not function without blood, and I had lost much of it. Plus the bullet was still in my body. And it wasn't just a flesh wound. If I didn't get immediate medical attention, there was no way I could survive.

The walk back to the housing complex seemed to take forever. Especially when every step was a battle on it's own. But I made it. I found where I left Pat. He was leaning against the fence, he had made a bandage for his shoulder, and was sitting there with his shotgun in his lap.

"Holy shit man, what the hell happened to you?"

"Well there was an incident where I got shot, then I was thrown from a car going about thirty five and skidded on the pavement." I replied. The lack of blood was making me a little giddy, but I felt like crap at the same time.

"We have to get you to a hospital." He said getting up, and gently grabbing me under my right arm. "Come on, I'll help you walk to the others." He said.

He helped me walk, but it was like I was disconnected. I couldn't feel my legs, and they were moving just out of instinct, not because I was moving them. After what seemed like forever we made it to the others. I dropped on the ground. Davis came and stood over me.

"He needs medical attention now." He said. "He needs blood badly, if we don't get him to an ambulance in a few minutes, he'll die."

"What do we do?" Scott asked.

"I don't know." Davis replied.

"Wait I hear something." Matt said.

"Sirens." Rossi said.

"We're gonna be all right." Davis said.

"Yea all right." I said, happily with a smile. I was smiling because all sense of pain had just left me, and I was slipping back into a white light. I realized at that moment that I passed out.

"We're losing him!" An unidentified voice yelled.

"He's flatline!" Yelled another.

"Clear!" Yelled the first.

"Clear!"

"CLEAR!"

Pain. Unimaginable pain. Every nerve in my body was on fire. I opened my eyes. Several doctors and nurses were standing over me.

"Welcome back." One said.

"What happened?" I rasped, for my throat was incredibly dry.

"You almost died, you were flatlined. Rest now, We're going to put you under so we can operate." Said a doctor, leaning over me. A breathing mask was placed over my nose and mouth, and I fell into a warm sleep.

* * * * * * * * * * *
Six months later

"Reporting as ordered sir." I said as I entered Craiger's office. We were stationed on a military base, and I had spent the last six months in the hospital. Jack and Brent had been there for four months. Pat was let out much sooner.

"Good to see you up again. You scared us pretty bad." Craiger said. "But it seems that you are made of tougher stuff than even I foresaw."

"May I ask why I was summoned here?" I asked.

"To the point as always." Craiger replied.

"When you waste time lying in a hospital bed for six months you learn exactly how precious time is." I said.

"Too true, to learn the value of a minute, ask someone who missed a train." Craiger said.

"Very true." I replied.

"But anyway, I have called you here because I have numerous things I need to discuss with you." He said. "Our whole program has been a subject in the newspapers, the news, and the tabloids have been having a field day. This operation is getting too much publicity. Our original intents of this program was to make super soldiers that we would have trained until they were in their twenties. Then they could be shipped to other countries in the case of an incident, and deal with it covertly."

"So there wouldn't be a big spotlight on the operation, because it would be classified, and no spectators could see it." I said.

"Correct, but the incident at the school changed things drastically. Then your flawless performance changed things even more." Craiger said. "But things are too hot. There are starting to be protests, they are saying that we are letting kids do our fighting. When you first appeared you were barely sixteen. Even though you are almost eighteen now, your face is still recognizable. Stories about 'the mysterious child warrior' have been in the papers ever since your first mission."

"It was a mistake to send boys to battle when it wasn't necessary." I said simply.

"Indeed it was. This whole program was a mistake, particularly your part of it. I regret I was ever apart of such madness, accept for the fact that I got to work with such splendid people." He said. "We can never be forgiven for what we have done to you."

"I have no regrets. I have saved the lives of many men, women, and children. That justifies everything that has happened, or been done to me." I said. "Likewise, it justifies that I had to become a killer a such a young age. It's ironic, 'The perfect solider having a soft stomach for death. I never told anyone, but I could never bear to look at what I did, unless I had to."

"A trait that survives from your true self, that hasn't been covered by our training." Craiger said.

"Indeed." I said.

"With things as they are now, we are disbanding the unit, and the program. Your unit has already been taken off active status. If there is an incident, it will go to the SEAL team you fought against. The program has lost it's grant. With the destruction of our compound, and the death of sixteen staff members, it lost all Whitehouse backing." Craiger said.

"What is to become of us?" I asked.

"Everyone else will go to foster homes, or in some cases, back to foster homes. We will be returning them to as normal a life as we can. Your unit will have the toughest time. All the others will have to face is losing each other. Your unit will have to face the pain of separating, and rejoining society with the knowledge of what they have done."

"You speak of them as if I am not included with them." I said.

"You have an additional choice. Fighting, death, and combat has been your life. You have known nothing else. So seeing that you are almost eighteen, you can choose to join the military. Because you have trained for longer than anyone currently in the United States military, you can skip basic training and go strait to a new unit. Your CO will know your background, but it will be kept a secrete from every one else. You made a difference with us. You can continue to make a difference in the rest of the world."

"I honestly don't know." I said.

"You don't have to decide now. We realize that moral is low within the units. So we feel that we need a moral booster. One last time of fun and recreation with all of your friends here before we announce to the rest of the units our decision. That way they can begin to get used to being regular kids again with each other. And before we break the bad news to them, so the party won't be ruined." Craiger said.

"No disrespect sir, but why are you telling me before the party?" I asked.

"Because you need time to think of your options, and you need to be tasting what it is like to be a normal kid as you think about it. That way you can decide what is best for you." He said.

"That makes sense." I said.

"You remember the party we held after you beat the marines?" He asked.

"Yes sir." I replied.

"We are having a bigger and better one. We are returning to the same campground, and will have everything we had last time, and more. We have the money in our budget that is left over before it got cut. We have decided to send much of it to the families of the staff members that got killed in the raid. The rest of it will be for the party. We feel that you deserve it for all you guys have been through." Craiger said.

"That is very kind sir." I replied.

"Your unit alone deserves this much at least. For all you have done for this country, all the lives you have saved, all the times you have been shot, or wounded. And we have stolen three years of your lives, and for everyone else it was for no purpose. They will go home, and forget. They haven't fought like you, so they can. And it's better that way, but we can't give them back the three years they spent here, when they could have been normal children."

"If asked, I am certain that no one would have it any different if they had the chance. We have made friends, and learned useful skills, even if they all encompassed around death. I thank you for that opportunity." I said.

"Be that as it may, I would have done things differently." He said. "Dismissed, you can tell everyone about the party, they are at the mess hall. The sergeant at the door will tell you where it is."

"Sir." I said saluting. I walked out of the office.

"The mess hall is right over there." The sergeant said pointing. I thanked him.

I walked in. Everyone was sitting at two large picnic tables. There were other occupants, but they kept to them selves, shooting curious glances at me when I walked in

"Holy crap, looks like I've seen a ghost." Rossi said.

"We thought you were never going to get out of there." Jack said.

"Well it's nasty business getting shot in the back." I said. "How have things been here?"

"Fair." Matt said.

"You look upset about something." Jack said.

"It's nothing, I'm still on a few meds." I said.

"Okay." Jack said skeptically.

"I've got some news." I said.

"Good or bad?" Rossi asked.

"Well it just happens to be........" They all leaned closer as I paused, "pretty damn good I'm afraid."

"Your afraid?" Rossi asked.

"Yep."

"Okay, you can explain more." Davis said.

"We are returning to the campground where we fought the marines. And we are going to have the biggest goddamn party you have ever seen!" I said.

"This isn't one of your grand adventures like Cyberdelia was, right?" Jack asked over the cheers of the others.

"Nope, Craiger just told me. He's the one planning it." I said.

"Oh yea! Time to rock and roll!" Rossi yelled.

"This is gonna rule." Davis said.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

We slid the helicopter doors back. We were hovering over the lake. My unit, and Pat's was in one helicopter. The other two were in a second one. We opened the doors, and piled out onto the runners.

"Everybody ready!?" I yelled over the roar of the rotor blades.

"YEA!" Came the reply from everyone. I looked at the other helicopter, and gave Brent the thumbs up. He returned it. I could see his mouth open to yell to the guys on his helicopter, but I couldn't hear him.

"Lets go!" I yelled. We all jumped off the runners of the helicopter, and plunged into the water. Everyone came up, laughing and sputtering. We paddled to shore in one massive wave of bodies. It was significant to us, because this was where we first realized just how good we were. Getting dropped into the lake that mourning two years ago. It was particularly significant for me.

We waded ashore with lots of splashing, and yelling and cheering. There were already people on the beach. They were yelling and cheering along with the rest of us. Apparently they saw our fall from the chopper.

Amid all this yelling, and excitement, I had to find something wrong with everything. We were well known, my face in particular. I had been in almost all of the stills, and videos, and I had two very recognizable scars on my face. So when those people on the beach see us drop from the helicopters, and see us running around, and all that stuff. Some of them might put two and two together, and know who we are. But right now I didn't care.

Today was the last day I would get to spend with my friends. Today was also the last day I would be a normal kid. For my mind was made up. Fighting had been my whole life. I have known nothing else. And with Jack, Scott, Rossi, Davis and Matt, I had made a difference in the world. And I planned to continue making that difference. Today would be the first day of the rest of everyone else's lives. But I had a different life. My has been fighting. So that's what I would do to make a difference. I would continue to defeat the evils of the world where it was necessary. Today I would be a normal kid. I raced onto the beach with my friends and comrades. Today I was normal, but tomorrow, I would be the perfect solider.


Authors note: This is the end of "The Perfect Solider" I am in the process of writing a sequel. So don't worry, I wouldn't just end it like that with no real closure.