War as Told by Apex Soldiers

Excerpt from Dr. Gladwin's interview with Sergeant Grey 09 - 16 - 2045

Dr. Gladwin: What do you think of Apex Corporations?

Sergeant Grey: It's a blessing. Honestly. Apex gave me my job back. I served in the U.S Army and got deployed to Iraq for a few years. There...was an incident while I was there. A kid...He, uh...Guess you can say he followed in the steps of his dad. Killed a few of my buds and nearly got me. Was missing an arm and a half, and a leg. The Army sent me home, paid me all the benefits and got the cheapest prosthetics I could afford. Man, I got a wife and three kids, and we were living off my checks. After that, I couldn't work anymore until some recruiter from Apex called my phone. Told me my whole family will be paid for with anything we needed as long as I would sign a contract to serve in their army. Of course I signed it.

Dr. Gladwin: Would you recommend others to sign up?

Sergeant Grey: I don't know. I mean...Yeah, I hope my sons will sign up when they're old enough. Be a soldier like their old man, but not right now. It's rough out there, man.

Dr. Gladwin: I can only imagine, Sergeant. How has it been, for you?

Sergeant Grey: Satan's playground. This entire war is just hell. Man, I was just a corporal. My whole squad got wiped out over in Korea. Got promoted to Sergeant and now I lead a squad of ghosts. I don't even know who these boys are. I couldn't tell you any of their names. The moment I learn 'em, they're dead the next night.

Dr. Gladwin: You mentioned boys: Is that a pejorative…?

Sergeant Grey: They're all just kids, barely old enough to enlist. Sure, they got the training, but not the experience. Most of them never seen a dead animal, not to mention killed someone.

Dr. Gladwin: Can you say whether this differs from your experience in the Iraq war?

Sergeant Grey: It's a whole lot different. In Iraq we had to worry about jihadists and plastic bags on the side of the road. Most of the time it was just a popshot and then silence. It was rare that we had any real combat, or anyone got hurt. Every so often there would be a battle, but an airstrike would usually take care of that. Over here, you can get a bomb squadron to level an entire city block, but them damned Norks are still there fighting out of the rubble. There's no sleep, barely any time to eat. We've actually dug trenches with our bare hands because we would have to hold a line to keep the enemy from gaining ground. Iraq was no war compared to this. Iraq was just terrorism on terrorism.

Dr. Gladwin: What about the Hunters from the Order?

Sergeant Grey: Yeah. I've worked with some of them. They're tough sons of bitches. Despite the rumors, they can be pretty talkative. Off duty that is. They don't really talk to us normal soldiers though, not unless they have to. They can fight. I saw one take a few shots from an AK, hit the ground and immediately get back up to kill the guy with his bare hands. That was just a normal Hunter. We got one of those...what are they called...Alpha Hunters? Yeah, the real big ones, you know, numbers for names, leading our platoon. There's a whole lot of them around and they're all practically the same from what I've seen, but our First Lieutenant…. - He exhales a soft whistle. - I ain't ever met someone like that before. If the other Alphas are like that, I hope we have a shit ton more of them.

Dr. Gladwin: Alpha Hunters are a rare commodity for Apex, I've heard. Can you tell me more about them?

Sergeant Grey: We had this mission two months ago to assault an underwater base out in the Pacific. Man, it was stupid. We're Recon, you know? We aren't supposed to be attacking bases head on like this. Either way, we're sent out there. It's complete crazy shit from the get go. We're met on the surface and we got the Lieutenant assigning specific boats to jobs. We get in and before we can grab our guns, it's nothing more than firefights. Every single corner there was a Nork or a Russian. Eventually, the whole place starts to cave in. Water's pouring in from the seams, the base is about to crumble. We're a mile from the surface, by the way. We got wounded and the Lieutenant is swearing up and down that we ain't going to leave a single living person behind. As we get out, the whole thing collapsed. It's just this big ass disaster. I got stuck just outside the door. Beams and walls fell, crashed onto my head. Knocked off my rebreather. I managed to push some of the debris away, but my leg took some pipe and got pinned beneath a beam. It looks like I'm getting left behind and 'cause I don't have my rebreather, I have no microphone so I can't talk into the squad lead channel to tell them anything. I'm there thinking I'm going to die. I'm going to drown in some Nork base and my kids are going to be fatherless. I close my eyes and just let it come. It felt like an eternity, but I feel this hand on my shoulder, shaking me. I open my eyes and it's the Lieutenant. My own damned Platoon leader came back himself to save me. Takes off his rebreather and gives it to me. Gets my leg unstuck and swims me right up to the surface. Puts me on his...er, ha ha, I'm sorry, I sometimes forget the Lieutenant is actually a woman. She puts me on her boat, and goes back down to help anyone else that's stranded.

Dr. Gladwin: That is harrowing, Sergeant. - The Doctor rubs at his chin for a moment, reclining in his chair. - You mentioned that the Lieutenant is a woman. That seems unheard of in the military, even less so for Hunters. Can you tell me more?

Sergeant Grey: There's more than just her. Only Hunters, though. They ain't like every day women, none of them. The Lieutenant in particular, she's one hell of a man. I'd follow no one else into battle. Knowing she's the one calling the shots out there is the most reassuring thing for me and for the other men.

Dr. Gladwin: According to what you've said, this comes to no surprise. Please, continue.

Sergeant Grey: A lot of the guys say she's just suicidal. She doesn't really care about herself I don't think. She puts the men first. She'll tend to the wounds herself if she feels she has to. She leads us into some crazy shit, but everyone comes out alive. You should really talk to Sergeant Michael York, he's part of her actual squad. He swears by some story that while they were in a firefight some place in Korea that she had been shot twice. Shoulder and hip. She was still up and fighting until the medic got to her. York says she helped the medic treat her wounds by shutting her own vein in her shoulder. The whole while, she was still giving us orders and staying there in the fight. I don't know if it's true, but I was there in the area at the time. When the fight was over, she was walking on her own feet wrapped up in bandages and covered in her own blood from head to toe. She was a real mess, but I'll be damned, she got us through and back to camp. She's a damned monster, real small, but a monster.