Warrior by Patt

Warrior - Patt

Cascade Hospital, in the middle of the night:

Three nurses watched helplessly as the two military men came through the baby nursery looking for the noisiest and strongest of newborns. They dreaded the military men taking these precious babies, but there was nothing they could do. The man that had the most medals on his jacket seemed to be in charge and put a mark on each of the twelve bassinets that held a baby that they were interested in. The nurses knew from experience that any baby taken by the military would have to work hard to stay alive. There was no room for failure and once they were chosen, it wasn’t likely they would be given back to their parents. And speaking of the parents, they had no choice but to step aside and let the military take their beloved babies. They could always try for another. Some of the women had already lost more then one child this way.

The military men then called down to get more men to help them carry squalling babies to the van that awaited them outside the hospital exit. The van was fitted with twelve bassinets and once they had all of the babies loaded, the man in charge shut the doors and that was the last the nurses would ever see of these little ones.

One of the nurses shivered as she watched them pull away, thinking about what kind of life those babies would have. She once again told herself that there was nothing she could do and returned to caring for the remaining babies as she tried to forget about the nightmare that had just begun for the chosen ones.

Two Years Later:

The twelve two year olds were forced to watch animals tear each other apart as the man in charge watched their faces to see who the tougher ones were. He needed to weed out the weaklings and keep only the strongest of the strong. These children appeared to be much older and wiser than others of their age, but some of them still grimaced as they watched the animals fight. The man in charge made note of each look of distaste so he could begin the weeding process.

There was one child that showed signs of being very special. He seemed to hear things before the other children, he knew when they drugged their food and refused to eat it and he seemed to have all five of his senses online more than any of the others. The man that was in charge of the project was very impressed. It had been ten years since they’d had one of these subjects to work with and they needed this one to evolve into the ultimate warrior.

These children were given no contact with anyone other than the military, so they knew of nothing else. There were no windows in the classroom and this didn’t seem to bother any of them, but that was because they didn’t even know what windows were yet. The men on this project worked day and night seeing how much they could obtain from these little minds and in return, filling these minds with what they saw fit.

Four Years Later:

They continued to watch them at all times for the next four years and saw that the one called Jim was the best at everything, thus far. Not only could he put puzzles together faster then anyone else, he could hear, taste, smell and see much more than the other children. Jim was the top pick for the men who were working on this project and sometimes they forgot Jim was only six years old.

Every day they were taken outside and formed in a line where they marched in time while the drill sergeant watched with a close eye. Jim was the fastest in all of the tests that were run. He was able to climb a barbwire fence without even thinking about it and never showed any emotion on his face as his skin was poked from the wire. As far as the drill sergeant was concerned, Jim was near perfect.

Eight Years Later:

The subjects were taken to a location that resembled a concentration camp for the next phase of their training, an obstacle course that they all had to pass. They were required to jump, roll, dive, crawl, swim, and slide down a rope passed under one thigh, across the body, and over the opposite shoulder or through a special friction device. The brutal course featured vertical wooden walls, fast moving rapids, tangles of barbed wire, steep rock faces, and finally the rope that had to be slid down and over and across the body.

Whoever passed this would then move on to violent hand to hand combat. They were forcefully taught that only the strongest one would win, so they all tried to be the strongest. Jim was indeed one of the stronger ones. He seemed to think nothing of beating one of the others until he couldn’t walk anymore. The object of the lesson was kill or be killed and Jim learned it well.

When the remaining boys turned sixteen, they were moved onto new tests. There were guns, explosives, knives and extreme brutal force. All of the young men had cold dark eyes as if their humanity had been totally stripped from them. They were now what the military wanted, ultimate fighting machines. It would only take a few more years and they would be ready. The man in charge was quite proud of his group. He had weeded out the weak ones and had ended up with six perfect specimens.

Four Years Later:

The six young men were dropped behind enemy lines on a mission to destroy a village and all of the guns in the area before the other troops got there. They moved quickly and quietly through the jungle and upon arrival at the village, readied their weapons and began their task. Jim didn’t even take notice of the children or the women that were running screaming and crying from the buildings. They were not taught to notice such things; this was a normal occurrence to them and before long, the entire village was empty and ready for the other troops to move in.

Jim and his comrades walked by all of the bodies without giving them a second glance. The coldness that a person could see in their eyes was also in their hearts. They felt nothing and this was all right with them or so everyone would think. They retreated back to the helicopter and contacted their superior to let him know that all was safe to move in. They would await their next mission.

On Another Planet:

The soldiers were moved to a planet called the Argentine Sector, a new place that they needed to help conquer. The men would have to wear breathing equipment to do what they needed to get done. As they moved through the area, shots rang out and the man leading the group was hit in the face. The soldiers left him where he lay and moved on to take the area as planned. It was bloody, but finished. Jim’s superior complimented him on a job well done, but Jim didn’t really notice what the man said because he was just following his orders. Praise was wasted on these soldiers.

For the next fifteen years, they fought on different planets trying to follow orders as much as they could. Jim wasn’t there to ask questions, he was only there to do his job and finish what he had started. During this time, he had been promoted and was now a Captain of the military. Again, this meant nothing to Jim. Labels were for other people. Jim was only there to do one thing and that was whatever his superior told him to do.

That night in their barracks, they were all sitting on their bunks in silence as usual and Jim looked around for a change. He studied the other soldiers to see if they looked any different. For some reason, Jim felt different. He found himself growing somewhat tired of this existence and wondered if anyone else felt that way. They never talked to one another, so Jim didn’t bother to ask anyone. Before long it was time for lights out and Jim went to sleep.

~~~~~

It was raining the next day making the buildings look very lonely with their boarded windows and slogans painted on the war-scarred walls.

Rubrick, a thirty-five year old lieutenant, rushed through the downpour past the barracks and headed for the command quarters. As he entered, he shook the rain off of his poncho and joined the two bored looking officers lounging in the cluttered office. There were empty cups all over the desk. Rubrick couldn’t believe how much clutter and filth these people lived in. Where was their pride?

The Captain of the group, a man named Church, was a fifty year old man that had let himself get very soft. He sat there with his feet raised up on his desk and didn’t seem to care anything about Rubrick being there. The other officer, Sloan, also a lieutenant, was a thirty-five year old woman, dark, somewhat attractive, but not particularly happy being stuck with these pigs.

Rubrick cleared his throat to get their attention. “Colonel Mekum has his ‘boys’ unpacked and I think he would like to show them off.”

Church put his feet on the floor and asked, “What’s the rush?”

Rubrick said, “They look very impressive, you might want to check them out.”

“We’ve heard about these guys before, so what is the big deal?” Church asked once again.

They all followed Rubrick to the barracks as he explained that these were new ‘boys’ and they might just be a little more impressed.

As they entered the barracks, they were shocked to see all twenty young soldiers, looking no more than eighteen to twenty years old and the coldness in their eyes was apparent right off. They didn’t seem to be affected by the cold air or the rain dripping on them through the skylights. They were like robots, except they looked very human, other than the ice in the eyes.

Church, Sloan and Rubrick all looked the men over, as if they were pieces of meat. But the men didn’t seem to mind. Quite the opposite, they seemed unaffected by everything.

Their keeper, a thirty year old Colonel named Mekum, looked on with pride as everyone studied his ‘boys’.

Sloan walked up to the new soldiers and studied them as she tried to figure them out. “I’ll say one thing for them, they are all pretty.”

“What’s so important about these soldiers?” Church asked.

Colonel Mekum smiled and proudly said, “These soldiers are improved in every way. They are physically and physiologically stronger. They have more endurance, quicker reflexes, better hand-to-eye coordination and their technical training has been very much improved. With the first group, you had 90% obedience, with this group it’s 99.4 %.”

Church sneered at the Colonel and said, “Well, my daddy was in maintenance, and he said…”

Rubrick and Sloan rolled their eyes and looked at each other with a sigh. They both thought that Church was overly fond of quoting his father.

Mekum looked at all of them and said, “I’m not sure I understand the point you’re trying to make.”

Church said, “The soldiers we have now have been through all of the same training and they always get the job done. These new ones, these hot-shots, what kind of action have they seen?”

Mekum smiled, even though the smile didn’t reach his eyes, and said, “It’s up to you. You’re going to break them in during the annual sweep in January.”

“The sweep is nothing; it won’t show us a thing. I’d like to see something a little more action packed, if you know what I mean?” Church said.

“Such as?” Mekum asked.

“Maybe we could compare the old and the new and see what the results will be. What do you think of that idea?” Church inquired.

Sloan and Rubrick looked a little alarmed by this, but Mekum seemed to understand what Church meant. He also seemed to agree with him.

~~~~~

Next day:

Riley, one of Church’s soldiers, fired an automatic weapon at an electronic target 100 yards away while Jim and the other older soldiers sat cross-legged on the floor and watched.

Jim took a moment to watch the new soldiers who were sitting on the floor directly across from his group. He found himself staring at them and noticed they didn’t blink at all. Jim and the other older soldiers were covered with battle wounds and scars, while the new soldiers were quite ‘new’. They looked fresh, young, clean and very, very strong.

The weapon firing finally stopped and Riley saluted Rubrick who had been watching the demonstration along with everyone else.

Mekum looked at the shredded target and said, “Let’s see what my ‘boys’ can do.”

Mekum took the weapon, tore it apart, tossed the pieces into different places on the floor and gave his instruction to the first young soldier named Caine 607. He told him to assemble the weapon, load, fire the weapon on the target from various evasive positions, in a thirty second period. Then he pushed the button on his stopwatch and said, “Now.”

Caine 607 gracefully began to pick up the pieces of the rifle, putting it together so quickly, it was almost unbelievable. He then loaded, and started to fire at the target all in the thirty second period. All of the officers watching were very impressed.

Mekum pushed his stop watch and said, “As you were, soldier.”

Caine 607 stopped almost as quickly as he had started, standing at attention and saluting while Sloan checked the target and said, “Ninety-nine percent.”

Mekum tried not to appear too smug, but it was hard when his ‘boys’ did the things that his did.

Jim watched from across the room, not showing any emotion but internally he was somewhat worried about what the future would hold for him and the other older soldiers.

“See, he is much stronger,” Mekum announced and pointed at Caine 607 who was still carrying the large weapon, showing no sign of tiring from the weight of it.

“What about endurance?” Church wondered aloud.

“Just wait and see. Take your old soldiers to their quarters and we’ll see them in the building tomorrow,” Mekum ordered.

Church gathered up his soldiers and led them outside into the pouring rain. It didn’t seem to bother any of them since they didn’t get cold like normal people. Church never quite understood that about these men. They were still human, why didn’t they get cold or tired? For that matter, why didn’t they talk or complain like a normal person. It just wasn’t normal. Church pulled on his poncho and put the hood up. He wasn’t stupid enough to stand out there in the rain with nothing on. He led them all to their quarters and told them to stay there until they were summoned.

~~~~~

The Next Day:

“Take your best runner and get him started on the ten mile run,” Mekum told Rubrick.

Rubrick didn’t have to think twice when he chose Jim to be that runner. “Jim,” He yelled.

Jim appeared quickly, stood at attention and said, “Sir, yes sir.”

“I want you to run the ten mile run as fast as you can. Push yourself, you want to do it faster then you usually do. Understood?” Rubrick asked.

“Understood,” Jim answered and started running down the path without giving it much thought.

Jim was running in rain that was pouring so hard that he couldn’t even see the buildings in the background with his perfect eyesight. As his feet sloshed through trash and huge mud puddles, his breath remained even and unlabored. He pushed himself a little harder, because Rubrick had told him to. He always followed orders.

~~~~~

Officers Quarters:

Sloan was drinking a cup of coffee with Rubrick, as she considered the papers spread across Church’s desk. Mekum had very good things to say about his soldiers and if everything was true, the older soldiers were going to lose.

Church was standing near the front window watching Jim run in the rain and wondered what was going on. No new soldier had appeared as of yet. He turned to Mekum and said, “Our man has been out there for over fifteen minutes, when are you sending yours in?”

Mekum turned to Church and smugly said, “In a minute.” Then he went back to showing off his numbers to the other two officers. Finally when he was finished showing off, he put his poncho on and walked over to the warehouse where all of the soldiers were waiting for orders. The other officers followed suit, wanting to see what was going to happen.

Mekum walked in and shouted, “Melton 85, forward.” Melton 85 moved forward and saluting Mekum said, “Melton 85, sir.”

Mekum ordered, “Ten miles, Melton 85 and you’ve got sixty minutes.”

Melton said, “Sir,” and out the door he went, running in the mud very smoothly and gracefully.

They all put their poncho’s back on and went back to the office. “Make a note that my man left 20 minutes after yours did,” Mekum said.

Rubrick asked, “What are we supposed to do with these old soldiers?”

Mekum shrugged and said, “Old soldiers never die…”

~~~~~

Jim was still running smoothly and effortlessly in the rain. He finally came to a point in the road and turned around to head back to their home base.

He tried not to think, because that took time off of his running. But he couldn’t help wondering what they planned on doing with the older soldiers when this was all said and done. He cleared his mind once again and began to run faster but kept his stride smooth, so that his breathing didn’t change much.

~~~~~

All of the men and Sloan were still standing in the office, trying to see through the hard pouring rain.

“So really, what do you expect the older soldiers to do?” Church inquired.

“There are a lot of things they can do. You can use them as a labor force, like cleaning up around here. Picking up heavy equipment, any hard labor that needs to be done can be done by these men,” Mekum answered.

Sloan looked somewhat surprised and said, “You expect them to just sit and wait for us to ask them to clean something?”

“What did you think they were going to do when they got old?” Mekum asked.

Church jumped up and said, “They aren’t that old. I don’t understand why you couldn’t use both teams.”

“They need to be replaced, just as these ones will need to be replaced,” Mekum said.

Church went back to looking out the window in hopes that Jim would outshine the newer soldier.

~~~~~

As Jim ran he could hear his own heartbeat picking up the pace as he became more tired, but then he listened and heard another heartbeat coming up behind him. Not close yet, but close enough for Jim to hear him. Jim tried not to focus on him and just continued to run at the same speed, but then he realized the new soldier coming up behind him was running much faster than he was. Before long the soldier was even with Jim, not taking time to look at him even once as he passed him by. Jim kept up his pace and hoped that he would catch up, but somehow he knew he wasn’t going to.

~~~~~

Mekum smiled as Melton ran up to the building and saluted as he said, “Melton, sir.”

Everyone looked out into the pouring rain for signs of Jim, but he wasn’t even on the pass yet. Finally after Melton had been there for ten minutes, Jim came around the bend and started up the pass. He arrived in front of the building and saluting Church said, “Jim, sir.”

Church said, “Isn’t Melton tired?”

“Tired? They are trained to do more and last longer than anyone else. Why would he be tired? Your man is tired; he can only do what he was taught. Run him up the chain,” Mekum ordered.

Church shouted, “Jim, up the chain.”

Still breathing hard from the run, Jim answered, “Yes, sir.”

Without glancing at anyone, Jim did as ordered and began to climb the chain as fast as his tired body would let him.

Mekum watched until Jim was about 30 feet up, then said, “Melton, climb.”

“Yes, sir,” Melton said, saluting and climbing the chain twice as fast as Jim was doing it. Three quarters of the way up, Melton was side by side with Jim and then passed him by. When Melton reached the top, he waited for Jim to arrive. Mekum smiled smugly as he watched his soldier make Jim look very old indeed.

Church watched and said, “But what about the spirit of the man? He’s got what it takes to do the job. He’s just not as fast.” “Spirit? You mean aggressiveness? The new soldiers have 99.4% aggressiveness and more. They have no sexual drive, so they are faster and stronger. They aren’t like normal human beings. Jim is old and needs to be replaced,” Mekum said quietly, but not quietly enough. Jim heard every word he said and was somewhat worried about his future.

They watched as Jim got to the top and they both just hung there, waiting for orders. The young soldier seemed to be having no problems, but Jim was tired and was feeling the stress on his muscles and body.

Mekum smiled smugly again and proposed, “How about we have them fight each other.”

“Sounds like a deal,” Church quickly agreed. “Jim can take him, I know it.”

“I think this isn’t going to be fair. Send up two more of your older soldiers to help Jim fight Melton. Keep in mind, he just ran ten miles and climbed that chain faster than anyone else could. It just wouldn’t be fair with just Melton and Jim,” Mekum said grinning.

Church called Jackson and Mitchell over, and ordered them to join Jim on the chains. They climbed gracefully and as quickly as they could. They might be the older versions, but they weren’t stupid enough to think that their lives weren’t on the line here. They were 60 feet off the ground and were going to have to take on something they weren’t familiar with yet.

Mekum stood below with an evil looking smile on his face, knowing how this was going to turn out. He reached out and started turning the chains in a circle so they would all be moving, making the fight much harder for all of them.

They all watched the four soldiers in the air and Rubrick hollered, “Get him, men.”

Jim had never taken his eyes off Melton the entire time he was up there, but Jim also knew that Melton was faster. This was going to be one of the hardest things he had ever done in his life. Jim pulled back his arm to hit Melton and Melton hit Jim in the jaw quickly and very savagely. Jim’s head flew back, saw stars for a moment and he almost lost his balance, but he wasn’t done yet. He wasn’t going to give up without a fight.

Melton hit Jim again and Jim did lose hold and went down the chain about 20 feet. The other two older soldiers moved in and Melton was merciless. He was hitting them over and over again, knocking them almost off the chain. Melton used his legs and got Jackson, hard and fast. The man flew through the air and landed on the cement floor. Everyone heard the sound of cracking bones and instant death.

Jim climbed as quickly as he could to the top again, so he could help Mitchell. He got up there and while he was occupied, Jim hit Melton four times on and about the face and neck. Melton stopped what he was doing for a moment and seemed to have to rethink his strategy. After a few seconds, he began to hit them again. Jim was hanging on but was losing the battle. As quickly as Jim could, he grabbed Melton and tore his eye out of his socket. Melton didn’t even stop for a moment to think about losing an eye as he hit Mitchell with his legs and he went flying through the air to land on the cement floor beside the dead man. The last thing Mitchell saw were the cold dead eyes of someone he thought would be alive forever. Then he died too.

Melton seemed to get a second wind and started after Jim with a flurry. He hit him over and over again, not giving Jim enough time to protect himself. Jim slid down the chain about 20 feet and Melton slid down to be on the same level. He kicked him long and hard in the legs and thighs, until Jim knew nothing but pain. He reached over and broke Jim’s arm without a thought and Jim lost his hold. He started sliding down the chain, tearing flesh from his hands as he went and before long, he lost control all together and fell the remainder of the way to land on top of one of the other soldiers. There didn’t seem to be any movement in Jim’s body.

Mekum looked up and saw the damage that Jim had managed to do before he fell and got very angry. Melton should have been able to take out all three with no blood drawn on himself.

“Melton, get your ass down here, you piece of shit,” Mekum yelled.

Church, Sloan and Rubrick all stood and stared at Jim lying on the pile of dead soldiers and then looked at Mekum like he was insane. Why was he yelling at the young soldier?

Melton slid down the last 15 feet and landed gracefully and saluted Mekum. “Melton, sir.”

Mekum continued to yell at Melton about how much money they had spent on them to train them, raise them and they sure as hell didn’t want a one eyed soldier on their team.

Rubrick grabbed Mekum and said, “Why are you yelling at him, he was fantastic. He killed three men in minutes. And speaking of the three men, what do we do about the losses? Someone will wonder what happened.”

Church calmly said, “I’ll write it up as a training accident, no problem. Don’t worry about it, Rubrick.”

Mekum then took out a gun and shot and killed Melton.

Rubrick was the first to say anything. “What are you doing?”

“I can’t have a one eyed man in the field. He would have no depth perception at all. He’s worthless to the cause. We’ll have to settle for the 19 that are left. They can do wonderful things. As for your older soldiers, they will stay here and do what you tell them to. They are worthless to us now,” Mekum said.

~~~~~

Jim woke up in an old refuse-garbage ship. He glanced around and saw the men getting ready to dump all of the trash on this planet. He closed his eyes, knowing it was better not to know where he was going to end up. He was too weak to fight them off, so he did the only thing he could do. He played dead. Before long, Jim was among mattresses and other garbage that was dropped to the surface of this planet. Jim held on to the mattress and hoped that it would soften the blow of landing and it did. He didn’t know where he was. He didn’t know what he was supposed to do and he didn’t know if he could live like this.

Jim was aware of one thing, the wind was picking up and he’d be blown away if he didn’t get something to hold on to. He was so weak, but he had self-preservation and it made him become stronger. He looked across the junk yard and saw a piece of steel sticking up and knew if he could make it to that piece of steel, he might survive. He had to survive. He had no idea why he had to survive; he just knew that he should try.

He stood up and the winds blew him instantly 30 feet into the air and back down onto the mattress. Jim knew this wasn’t going to be easy to do. He crawled on the ground, holding on to anything and everything he could to get to the piece of steel that could possibly save his life. Once he got there, he held on for dear life. Again, wondering why, because he didn’t know what to do with himself.

As he stood holding on to the steel pipe, he looked off into the wind and saw four figures coming his way. How were they able to withstand the wind, Jim wondered? Then he watched as the scene got clearer and he saw they were all tied together and then tied to a wire post that moved along with them.

All of the figures were wearing huge parkas with hoods, so he had no idea what he was up against. He could hear the wind howling so loudly that his ears hurt, but yet he still could hear their hearts beating very hard. One of the figures moved away from the others to pick something up and Jim figured they must be some type of scavengers. He knew that he had to watch them closely, because they might be dangerous to him in the state he was in. He wasn’t strong enough to fight off four men. He was lucky to be alive. Jim almost groaned when he thought about being lucky. He had never thought about being lucky before. What had changed?

~~~~~

The planet’s four suns were beginning to set and Jim wondered if it had a moon. So far he could see nothing like that in the sky, but the wind made it hard to see much of anything.

Jim slowly made his way towards the cable lines that the four men were using and made sure that the men were gone before he moved any closer.

Jim fought the wind as he crawled on his hands and knees trying to keep the people in sight. He had to find somewhere to heal. Anything would be better then this wind. They must have buildings. They must have food. Jim’s stomach was growling and he didn’t know what to do about that. He had never had to feed himself; the food was always put in front of him. If it wasn’t for the wind, he could hunt for some type of animal to kill. That was in his training though he had never used it, but he knew how to do it. This was a very different experience and he wasn’t sure he liked it one bit.

Jim passed through a very barren landscape as he followed the men to wherever they were going. This was a horrible planet and he hoped things would get better soon. His broken arm made it difficult to hold on to the wire cable with both hands

Jim was so tired and hurt that when the wind blew the next time; it threw him up in the air and slammed him back to the ground. While he was lying there he saw a graveyard with metal crosses. He wondered if that many people on this planet had already died or did they bury people like him that got dumped there. Maybe there would be hope yet. Up ahead, he could see a light glowing. There was hope. Jim didn’t usually feel, so this was new for him.

Jim finally saw a small building sticking out of the ground with little of it showing. At first Jim thought it had been buried by the windstorms, but he then realized it was built that way for protection from the wind and cold. This was Jim’s first time at dealing with pain, cold and isolation. He liked when things were in control. He was not in favor of this out of control planet.

He watched through the window of the building and couldn’t figure out what was happening. There were maybe ten boys and girls all hitting one another with pillows. Jim cocked his head as if to think about that and was reminded once more of the cold and wind. Jim was so totally enthralled he couldn’t take his eyes off of these children. What were they doing and why?

Jim saw another window with light shining through and walked weakly towards it. The wind had calmed down somewhat and he was able to hold on to the cable with only one arm. When he got to the next window, he heard music and again wondered why there would be music on this planet. He saw people holding each other and moving around the room. He’s wasn’t sure what they were doing, but they were all smiling and appeared to be happy. Jim had no idea that this was dancing since he had never seen dancing before.

Jim headed towards the next window and suddenly heard a howling and knew the wind was back again. The wind began tossing Jim around as if he weighed no more than a feather. One moment he was in the air and the next he was lying on the ground, helpless. He looked around and when he spotted a nearby trench, knew that if he could make it there, he could live. He crawled on his hands and knees until he got to the trench, barely conscious and saw a pair of shoes. What was a pair of shoes doing there?

Jim saw that there were four children standing there but passed out before he could think what to do about them.

~~~~~

The Compound Meeting Room:

The meeting room inside the compound was crowded with the 50 men and women of all ages, races and colors. They were a weathered group, all dressed in rather plain clothing. Everyone was talking at once, trying to find out where the children found this man. They needed to find out if he was as dangerous as he looked with all of his scars and battle wounds.

Simon shouted, “How many are there and are they armed?”

“The children found only him in the trench. I think he was left for dead,” Blair said.

“He may have brought people with him. I say we put him back out in the wind and let him fend for himself,” Simon suggested.

Rafe, Henri, Joel and Megan all agreed with Simon, but Blair was the leader of the group and he disagreed.

“What if they left him here, thinking he was dead? He looks to be almost in that state now. They might have thought he was dead. Don’t we owe it to him to at least get him well before we send him on his way?” Blair asked.

Simon said, “He’s not going to be someone you can save, Blair. He looks like a soldier or something. Not someone we want to really save, I would think.”

“Let’s see what he has to say for himself. We can always put him back outside. He’s weak; he wouldn’t be able to fight us off. Let’s see what happens,” Blair stated.

“I say we vote on this,” Simon shouted.

Blair’s mother Naomi said, “I’ve been caring for him since we brought him in and he seems very weak and very calm. He doesn’t seem dangerous at all. I recognize him as one of the ultimate soldiers they created years ago. I saw a bunch of them once and they must have run out of need for them. I vote to go with what Blair advised us to do.”

Joel, Megan, Rafe and Henri then agreed with Naomi. No one really ever wanted to argue with Naomi. She was the strong force behind this compound. Blair smiled when he realized they were a strong family, but were always open to discussion. That was very important in their lives.

Naomi continued, “He woke up for a few moments and sipped some soup from a spoon. He didn’t try to hurt me in any way. I think he’s been hurt for a long, long while. He has battle wounds that will never heal. I think we’re making the right choice in waiting this out.”

“I think we should keep two men on him at all times until we find out what he’s up to,” Simon barked.

“That’s reasonable, Simon. I agree with that. Why don’t you pick the two men out and be in charge of that? What about two for the day time and two for the evenings?” Blair replied.

Simon walked over to Henri and Rafe and asked, “Would you two mind being the first up for watch?”

“We would consider it an honor, Simon. We’re all part of this family and we need to help each other. If he will ever fit in, he’ll have to learn that too,” Rafe said wisely.

Simon then walked over to Megan and Joel and asked, “Will you two be willing to be on the second watch?”

Megan smiled and said, “I’m glad to help. I think we’re doing the right thing, Simon. He’s different and we aren’t used to him yet, but we may grow to accept him and him to accept us.”

“I agree with Megan. I think it’s smart that we’re giving him a chance at life before we take it away from him. Then we would be no better than the ones that sent him here. They discarded him like garbage,” Joel said sadly.

“Let’s not forget that he’s our prisoner for right now. We need to stay on top of things and be sure that he won’t hurt anyone, especially the children. They don’t know to stay away from his quarters. We need to talk with them about the stranger and explain that he isn’t like the rest of us,” Simon declared.

Blair stood closer to Simon and touched his arm. “We can’t forget that he was once a person, just like the rest of us. Maybe he just needs to be taught how to behave like one.”

Naomi smiled at all of them and said, “We’ll make this work, you wait and see.”

Daryl came running up to his dad and said, “Dad, can I go and see the soldier?”

“No, you most certainly may not. He’s not well and he needs his rest. Until we find out what he’s like, I don’t want any of you children around him,” Simon ordered.

“But Dad, I’m not a little kid anymore. If I’m old enough to go out on scouting expeditions, then I should be able to go and see the soldier. I’ve never seen one, just heard about them,” Daryl replied.

Naomi hugged Daryl close and said, “He’ll need friends as he begins to heal. Maybe you can talk with him once he’s better. He’s not much for talking right now and it might take some time to get him to open up. We just need to be patient with him.”

They all began to leave the meeting room and went to do what they had to do for the evening.

~~~~~

Naomi went back to doctoring up Jim and got his arm set in a fashion to help it heal. Jim ate some more soup each time he woke up and couldn’t miss the two men in the room with guns. Jim knew they probably didn’t trust him which meant they were intelligent and he was glad of that. Jim knew that one was Rafe and the other was Henri. They both seemed like good soldiers, so Jim approved of them.

When he woke up the next time there was a 16 year old standing near his bed staring at him. Jim had never seen a child up this close and this child had never seen anyone like Jim before, so Daryl was quite taken with him. Jim stared back at Daryl with the same cold look he had always stared at people with. He knew no other.

Henri said, “Daryl, your dad said not to come in here. Now get out.”

“But he’s not mean. I can tell. He seems nice. Has anyone even tried to talk to him?” Daryl asked.

“That’s for Naomi and Blair to take care of,” Rafe supposed.

“Can I come and see him in the morning and see how he’s doing?” Daryl asked.

Jim stared at Daryl and found it interesting that Daryl didn’t seem to be afraid of him at all. Jim stopped looking at him the same way he usually did and instead tried to almost smile. It didn’t reach his mouth, but Daryl understood.

“I’ll see you in the morning,” Daryl yelled on his way out the door.

Jim heard a pleasant sounding voice and wondered who it belonged to. Whenever he spoke, Jim’s pain lessened and he found himself hoping that the voice would come into the room so he could sleep uninterrupted.

At that moment, Blair entered the room and saw Jim watching him like a hawk.

“Hello there, my name is Blair Sandburg. I’m the leader of this group of survivors. We were stranded here years ago and we’ve been waiting for someone to come looking for us. We’ll discuss all of that later. What is your name?”

“Jim.” Jim somehow knew he could answer.

“What is your last name?” Blair asked.

“I was given no last name,” Jim answered, somewhat surprised by this question.

“Do you have a family?” Blair inquired.

“No.”

“Do you know where you came from?” Blair questioned.

“Earth and then the Argentine Sector before we started traveling all over the place,” Jim answered quietly.

“We saw those places tattooed on your chest and arm. Why?” Blair asked and turned to find Jim asleep once more.

He turned to Rafe and Henri and said, “You guys let me know when you’re tired and I’ll take over for you.”

“Thanks, Blair, but Simon already told us who will relieve us,” Rafe said.

“That’s fine with me. I need to get some sleep in order to deal with all of this tomorrow. I think he’s going to be a handful,” Blair answered.

“Why would you say that?” Henri asked.

“He looks like one of the soldiers that are raised from birth on and have no emotions, no feelings of any kind and have no thought process other than what they are told to do. My mom thinks so too,” Blair explained.

“What a terrible way of life,” Rafe commented.

“You can say that again,” Blair agreed.

“You honestly believe he’s not going to be dangerous?” Henri asked Blair.

“I think he might be if he doesn’t learn how to deal with emotions. But that’s what we’re here for. We’re going to help him get through all of this, aren’t we?” Blair inquired.

“We’ll do what’s right,” Henri answered.

“See you tomorrow, Blair,” Rafe said.

Blair walked out of the room and Jim felt him leave. He couldn’t explain it, but he could feel the difference when Blair was in the room and when he left.

Henri looked at Jim and wondered what that type of life would have been like. He wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But if there was anyone that could bring someone out of their closed feelings, that would be Blair Sandburg.

~~~~~

Jim woke up quite a few times during the night with a lot of pain, but fell back to sleep when he realized he was safe for the time being. He could hear a lot of people talking and wondered why they were all still awake. He didn’t realize that it was almost morning.

~~~~~

As Blair approached the door of the room where Jim was being kept, Rafe stepped outside and said, “I think he can hear when you come. It’s the oddest thing, he seems to be in a lot of pain, but suddenly he will cock his head and turn towards the door and a look of relief washes over his face right before you come in. It’s weird. Do you think they bred them to become super human?”

“Maybe he has a heightened sense of hearing. But if that’s the case, he can hear everything we say. Does he talk to you guys?” Blair asked hopefully.

“Not a word. We help him get up when he has to go to the bathroom, but that’s all. Other than that, he just lies on the bed waiting for you. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he has a thing for you,” Rafe teased.

“Soldiers that are bred for this type of life don’t have a thing for anyone. It’s so sad,” Blair admitted.

“Talk to him about hearing you and see what he says,” Rafe said before he walked back into the room.

Jim was wide awake on the bed and looked somewhat better than the night before. Blair pulled up a chair next to Jim’s bed and said, “Do you mind if I ask you some questions?”

“Whatever you want to do,” Jim answered.

“Why don’t you have a last name?” Blair asked.

“I was taken when I was a baby, so I never learned my last name. It wasn’t something that was necessary to know,” Jim confessed.

“Well, I’m giving you one today. As of today you’re Jim Ellison. Now you have a name,” Blair informed him.

Jim didn’t know what to think of this man or why he felt better whenever the man came around. It made no sense to him. He had no clue as to why he was feeling this way and no way to express his questions.

“Do you have heightened senses?” Blair questioned.

“Yes, all five,” Jim answered.

“Were you taught to control your senses and use them as needed?”

Jim shook his head no and Blair frowned.

“Are you having trouble with pain right now?” Blair asked.

“Not when you’re in the room,” Jim explained.

“Let me tell you how to control those senses, so you can turn down a dial and the pain will be bearable even when I’m not here. First of all, don’t focus too much on one sense. That will send you into a zone out and you don’t want to do that. Try to focus on hearing and sight at the same time and see if that helps a little. Picture a dial in your mind with numbers from 1 to 10 on it and see if you can turn that dial down with your mind. Keeping it on five should help your pain,” Blair remarked.

Jim followed Blair’s orders without questioning them because that was what he was trained to do. He looked over at Blair with awe on his face for the first time and said, “It worked. I am controlling the pain myself.”

“Good, now don’t worry about anything. If you need me during the day or night, just ask one of the guards to get me. Do you understand?” Blair wondered aloud.

“Yes, I understand,” Jim replied.

“Do you have any questions?” Blair asked.

Jim thought for a moment and said, “I don’t understand why I feel better when you’re in the room.”

Blair smiled at the idea of Jim actually forming a sentence on his own and felt it was a good sign. “I might be someone called a Guide that can help you get control of your senses. What you are is called a Sentinel. If you have any questions, please let them know that you want to talk to me, all right?” Blair encouraged him.

Jim almost smiled when he said, “Understood.”

~~~~~

Days went by and Naomi tended Jim’s wounds and made sure they were healing properly. Jim never complained, he just watched everyone closely to see if they would turn on him when he least expected it. He still hadn’t learned to trust anyone, especially after what had happened to him on the last planet. He did like Naomi and the way she always managed to spend time with him. Her voice was pleasant and she was much like her son. Jim wondered from time to time how it would feel to have a family.

Naomi told him stories about the compound, how they arrived and how they stayed alive. Jim admired all of them for the sheer force of will power they must all have. She told him stories about the children and he never asked questions, but he always wondered if the parents lived with the children. As if Naomi could sense what he was thinking, she said, “All of the children here are in a family group. They have either one or both parents with them. Those that lost their parents were adopted by those of us that couldn’t have children or had room to love in their hearts.”

Joel came in with a lead pipe and Jim tensed up seeing the weapon and knew he wasn’t in good enough shape to fight off Joel right then. But he would try. He watched calmly as Joel got closer and closer with the lead pipe until Joel tried to hand it to him. Jim looked somewhat confused and Joel smiled when he realized Jim didn’t know what the pipe was for, so Joel put it in his hand and leaned on it, as if it was a cane. He walked around the room and said, “See, this will help you walk. If you do well, you’ll be able to go out in the garden with Blair in two or three days. You’re getting stronger every day.”

Joel then handed the pipe to Jim and Jim took it, still somewhat confused at how these people were treating him. He could be a killer for all they knew and yet they still let him in their little community, showing him nothing but kindness. Kindness was something that Jim was unfamiliar with, so this confused him too. There were times that he wished he talked more, so he could find out what these people were up to.

Jim got up and started limping around the room using the pipe as a cane. It did help. He didn’t need to have two men help him go to the bathroom from that point on. Jim was pleased. He would get back in shape and find out what he was supposed to do. He wondered where he would go and who would give him his orders. Little did he know, Blair was the perfect person to help him find his way.

~~~~~

At breakfast, Rafe sat next to Naomi and asked, “Do you think he’s getting stronger?”

“Oh yes, indeed. He’ll be up and about in no time. We just need to get him used to being treated like a human being. He was treated like an animal for all of those years and it’s going to take awhile to get his brain wrapped around this new way of life. We have hope, Blair and I, that things will work out,” Naomi assured him.

Henri, his wife, and his two children entered and sat down to breakfast. His son, Matthew said, “Can we go and see the soldier today?”

Henri’s wife, Sarah replied, “No, not yet.”

“He needs to get stronger first, then you’ll be able to meet him. Okay?” Henri asked.

Henri’s little girl, Susan said, “Maybe I could take him breakfast. That would be nice, wouldn’t it, Daddy?”

“That would be very nice, but Naomi already took him his breakfast and he ate it all. He’s trying to get stronger every day,” Henri explained.

Rafe’s significant other, John came into the room and Rafe’s face lit up. He hadn’t been able to sleep with his lover since the soldier’s arrival. Their son Thomas, who had been adopted after he lost both of his parents when they arrived at this planet, followed closely behind John and ran and jumped into Rafe’s lap as soon as he saw him.

Thomas was five years old and Rafe knew the curious child would be asking a ton of questions as usual. But Rafe lucked out when Thomas just wanted to cuddle and be with his other dad.

The wind was howling outside the windows, making everyone feel chilly just from the sound alone. This was such a barren, cold place to live; they all hoped they would be saved some day.

Everyone continued to eat breakfast and almost everyone discussed the soldier.

~~~~~

As Jim got stronger, he started walking around the compound and watched everyone like a hawk. He wanted to see how they had survived on this planet without any help. He also wanted to be able to fit in somehow, so he needed to see how they acted and reacted. He noticed that everyone seemed to have a chore to do and he wondered why he hadn’t been given one. He imagined they didn’t trust him enough to have him be with the others alone yet. Jim was very used to having Henri and Rafe by his side each day and Megan and Joel at night. He no longer took this as a bad thing; they were just looking out for their own people and Jim admired all of them for doing their job so well. This was something he totally understood.

Naomi joined him and asked, “Do you feel well enough to go outside today?”

Jim didn’t answer right away because he was listening to see if the winds had died down. He then nodded his head in the affirmative and followed her to the door leading outside. She handed him a parka and Rafe and Henri got theirs on too. When she opened the door, the light shone in, almost blinding him. He collapsed onto the floor and tried to shield his eyes. It was very dark in the compound, so he wasn’t expecting it at all. His senses were going to be a bother, he could tell already.

Naomi got down beside him and said, “Does the light hurt your eyes that much?”

Jim started to get up and finally answered, “I’ll be fine. I was unprepared for the extreme brightness. I’m ready to go outside.” He found the dial and dialed down his sense of sight to be able to be in the light and was astonished that it worked.

He followed Naomi out and saw a group of the community members planting seeds and watering the plants that had already started growing. He noted that not one person was sitting down and doing nothing, they were all busy. Jim limped his way over to Blair, immediately feeling better again and said, “What can I do to help?”

Blair smiled brightly at Jim and replied, “You can help me plant when you’re up to it. I don’t think you are, though.”

“In another day or two, I will be able to get down on the ground just as you are,” Jim said.

“Then I will see you in a day or two,” Blair answered. He caught the look of loss on Jim’s face and realized that Jim might like his company. “Would you like me to come and share some reading material with you tonight? I have some wonderful books.”

“I haven’t read a book since I was in school, but I would appreciate you reading one to me,” Jim said very quietly. He found it odd to actually talk to people and wasn’t used to using his voice to carry on conversations. He was only used to shouting ‘Sir, yes, sir’. This talking business was going to take some time to get used to.

“I’ll see you tonight. Now go and rest and get stronger,” Blair suggested.

“Yes, Blair,” Jim answered and turned around and started limping away.

“Jim, that wasn’t an order. I was just suggesting you get some rest,” Blair said softly.

“Yes, Blair,” Jim replied once again and walked away.

Blair knew he was going to have a lot of work ahead of him if he was going to teach Jim any social skills at all. He obviously didn’t know anything about families or children by the way he watched the little ones with questions in his eyes all the time. Blair knew he would have to get him to ask questions. He had visions of finding a fine human being under the tough exterior before him. No one else really saw that in Jim, but Blair did. Maybe Naomi did since she was open to almost anyone. He also found himself attracted to Jim and wondered if that would ever be an issue.

~~~~~

That night:

Blair entered Jim’s quarters and smiled when he saw him. Jim actually tried smiling back at Blair. Blair was carrying quite a load of books and Jim wasn’t sure what they were at first. He hadn’t seen books since he was in school and he had no use for them as a soldier.

“You have a lot of books,” Jim said.

Blair was encouraged when he realized that Jim had actually started a conversation. This was the first time that Jim had initiated any conversation with anyone.

“I have a book about Sentinels and Guides and thought you might like hearing about them. Do you wish to read them yourself, or do you want me to read to you?” Blair asked.

“I would like you to read to me. Hopefully I won’t fall asleep. I seem to fall asleep every time Naomi is in here talking to me. I feel badly about that. She seems to understand that I’m still tired,” Jim explained.

“Get into bed and I’ll read a few chapters until you go to sleep. It’s a very interesting subject,” Blair remarked.

“Thank you, Blair. You are very kind,” Jim confessed shyly.

Blair went on to read three chapters and noticed Jim had fallen asleep. So he put the book down and covered Jim up before he left.

As he was leaving, Megan walked out into the hall with him and said, “Don’t go getting hung up on the soldier, Blair. He doesn’t know anything about love or friendship.”

“It’s too late, I think I love him already,” Blair admitted.

“Just be careful. Promise?” Megan pleaded.

“Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon after you’ve slept. Say goodbye to Joel for me.” Blair walked down the hallway with a spring in his step that he hadn’t had in a long while.

~~~~~

Three days later:

“How do you feel about eating in the dining area with the other folks today, Jim?” Rafe asked, making Henri look at him oddly.

“That would be fine. I don’t need my cane anymore. I can walk without help,” Jim said.

Henri said, “You’re getting stronger every day. We noticed that you were trying to do sit-ups today. I think you should wait on that until you’re much better.”

“Yes, sir,” Jim answered.

Henri smiled at Jim and said, “I’m Henri. You don’t have to call me sir.”

“It is the way I was trained, but I will try to remember,” Jim admitted.

“How is your arm feeling now?” Rafe asked.

“It is almost ready to come out of the sling and cast that Naomi made for me. I’m almost back to normal again,” Jim said cautiously.

“Let’s walk down to breakfast and sit with everyone and just keep in mind that these people aren’t used to seeing you around yet, so they might stare and talk about you,” Rafe warned.

“That is fine. I’m there to eat and eat alone,” Jim said quietly.

Henri knew this might not be a good idea, but he didn’t want to question Rafe about it in front of Jim.

When they walked into the room, John came over and kissed Rafe on the mouth. Jim stared at them for a moment, trying to understand. He had never seen two men kiss before and he wasn’t sure why they had done it.

Rafe said, “Jim, this is my life partner, John. John, this is Jim.”

John put his hand out to shake hands and Jim just stood there. Rafe smiled and said, “John, he doesn’t know that custom. Show him how it’s done.”

John took Jim’s hand in his and shook it and he said, “It’s good to meet you, Jim.”

Jim almost smiled and said, “It’s good to meet you too.” He hoped that was the proper way to respond. This was all new to him and he had a lot to learn.

“Let’s go get something to eat,” Rafe said and Jim obediently followed him.

John sat with Rafe and kissed him every now and then. Both men noticed that Jim was watching them when they did that. Rafe finally said, “Did you know that two men could be in love?”

“I know nothing about love, but no, I have never seen two men together,” Jim replied.

John smiled and said, “Well, you better get used to it.”

Rafe laughed softly and Jim wondered why they were laughing.

Jim bent his head over his dish eating his food like he hadn’t seen food in years. Everyone around him stopped and watched in awe of how fast a man could put food down his throat.

Henri’s wife, Sarah said, “Slow down, Jim. No one is going to take it away from you.”

“I’m sorry, did I offend someone?” Jim wondered.

“No, we just don’t want you to get sick from eating so quickly. Take your time,” Sarah said.

Jim did as he was told and slowed down but that gave him more time to hear all of the whispers that were going on in the room, all having to do with him. They all wondered if he was some type of animal or some type of freak and Jim wondered that himself.

Jim finished his breakfast and asked, “Rafe, is there something I can do to help out somewhere?”

“I imagine you are getting bored aren’t you?” Henri asked.

“I’m very bored. I’m used to running every day, sometimes up to 40 miles a day. So just sitting seems wrong,” Jim declared.

“How would you like to work outside with Blair today? He’s planting some seedlings and it might be interesting and some exercise too,” Rafe answered.

“That would be fine,” Jim said standing and waiting for them. They weren’t done with their breakfast yet, but they all knew he was anxious to get out of the compound. Rafe and Henri were anxious to get out too.

They both stood up and kissed their mates goodbye and walked into Jim’s quarters to get their parkas and ready themselves to go.

Rafe handed Jim a warmer shirt to put on before the parka and said, “This will keep you warmer.”

“Thank you,” Jim replied and found he actually meant it for a change.

When he got to the opening to leave, Jim turned down his dial so he would not be so surprised at the sun shining. Again, he was shocked at how well that dial system seemed to work and realized that Blair was very useful to him and his senses.

They went outside and the wind was blowing, but not howling like it did sometimes. They attached themselves to the line that ran from one side of the garden to the other and Rafe went to find Blair.

Rafe returned and said, “Blair isn’t working outside today, so we’re going to show you how to plant the seedlings. Get down on the ground and let me show you how it’s done.”

“Let me show him,” Daryl said.

“Okay, Daryl, you show him. Jim, this is Daryl,” Henri said.

Jim took Daryl’s hand and shook it and said, “It’s good to meet you, Daryl.”

Rafe and Henri almost laughed, but knew that would be rude. Jim was like a child absorbing knowledge every day and it was good to see him learning.

Daryl handed a trowel to Jim and said, “Dig a deep hole right here, and then put the seedling in and cover it up. It has to be deep enough to withstand the windstorms. Then you water it with this watering can.” Daryl showed Jim what to do and Jim learned very quickly and began to work silently next to him.

As they worked side by side, Daryl told Jim all sorts of stories. Some of the others came over and worked near them so they could watch Jim do his seed planting. He was very fast. At that moment, a viper snake slithered through the garden and Jim chopped off its head without even thinking and went back to planting his seedlings. Everyone knelt there with their mouths open wide in shock. They hadn’t even seen the snake and it could have been dangerous for all of them. Each of them knew at that moment, he might be good to have around after all.

But then, Jim experienced a flashback from one of the battles he had been in and he thought there were soldiers there to kill him. He stood up suddenly and tromped frantically all the way through the garden until Rafe stopped him. “Jim, what is going on?”

Jim looked very confused at finding no one there but the settlers. There were no soldiers; it was only in his mind. “I had a flashback of my life,” Jim whispered.

“Come on, you’ve done enough today. Let’s get in and get you some rest. I’ll see if I can find Blair to talk to you,” Henri said easily as they pushed the big man towards the compound.

~~~~~

When Blair entered the room, Rafe smiled and said, “He had a tough morning. He scared everyone when he killed a viper snake and then tromped through the garden, killing a lot of things that had already started to grow.”

Jim stood when he saw Blair coming towards him and kissed him on the lips.

Blair stepped back in surprise and asked, “What are you doing?”

“I thought it was a custom,” Jim answered, looking embarrassed.

“Only if you are with that person. You don’t kiss people you don’t want to be in love with,” Blair explained.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand,” Jim admitted.

“Do you want to tell me what happened outside today? Rafe said you were doing well, and then you had a setback. What happened?” Blair inquired.

“I thought I saw the young soldiers looking for me. I thought they were going to kill me. I shouldn’t be allowed to be around everyone. I could be dangerous,” Jim decided.

Blair tried to think of an answer for that and Jim found himself looking at Blair’s body. He found him most interesting, in an odd way, and discovered that he had feelings inside that were never there before. Jim looked down and saw that his body was reacting to the nearness of Blair so he walked to the bathroom and shut the door without saying a word to anyone.

“Was it something I said?” Blair asked Rafe and Henri.

“No, I think you were having an effect on him and he didn’t know what to do with it, if you know what I mean,” Henri teased.

“You’re kidding? A soldier is turned on by me? Will wonders never cease?” Blair blinked in amazement, then remembered that Jim could hear him. “It’s only normal to have feelings for someone that has taken care of you from day one. So he’s actually acting just like any of us would be.”

“Keep telling yourself that, Blair,” Rafe answered with a laugh in his voice.

Jim came out of the bathroom and said, “I need to start running and working out again. I have to do it.”

Blair said, “I think that you could find a room to do exercises in somewhere in the compound. Why don’t we go and look now?”

“That would be fine,” Jim answered and walked beside Blair, still blushing over what had happened earlier.

Blair took him to all of the rooms that had less furniture and tables in them and had Jim choose a room to work out in. Jim found a room that was rather dim and empty. It was perfect, now he just needed to find some things to exercise with.

Blair said, “Do you do any type of exercises like karate or anything like that?”

“I do tai chi and karate. But the tai chi would be perfect for right now. It’s a stretching exercise that will help me get stronger and stronger,” Jim said happily.

Blair had never seen Jim look that happy since he had been there. He was glad that Jim would get back into a routine and hopefully become one of them.

Jim turned and looked at Blair and said, “I’m sorry for the kiss. I misunderstood. I thought you felt something towards me and I thought that is how you wanted me to behave.”

“I do feel something for you, Jim. But I don’t want to take advantage of you in the state you’re in right now. I want you when you want me for no other reason then you just can’t live without me,” Blair said.

“I have never had sex before,” Jim said blushing once again.

“I figured as much. That’s not a problem when the time comes. We’ll be good to each other, Jim. You wait and see. Just tell me when you feel the need for me more than anything else,” Blair said.

“May I kiss you?” Jim asked shyly.

“Yes, you may,” Blair answered.

Jim leaned down and kissed Blair and this time stayed there and continued kissing until Blair finally pulled away. Jim looked confused and said, “Did I do something wrong?”

“No, you’re doing everything right, Jim. I just don’t want anything to happen right now. I want you to be sure that this is what you want,” Blair answered.

Jim seemed to understand this and smiled for the first time since he had been there. Blair was thrilled and returned the smile. He had pulled something out of this non-feeling human that they had only hoped for.

“Why don’t you go ahead and work out and I’ll send Rafe for you when you’ve been here long enough?” Blair suggested.

“All right,” Jim answered and was happy that he didn’t say yes sir.

Jim watched Blair leave the room and felt a slight loss, then shook his head clear of those thoughts and began his routine.

He stripped his shirt off and began stretching and pulling all of his muscles. His body was in deep need of this routine, so it was good that he was doing it. From the doorway, people would stop and watch in awe of the graceful way the man could move and stretch. As he began getting more limber, he picked up the pace and by that time, there was a crowd of people watching from the doorway. Some of them were in awe, some of them were very frightened of what this man might be able to do to them. Jim was flinging his body around at an invisible stranger and it worried most of the people that were watching.

After two hours, Rafe walked up to the room, sent people on their way and stopped Jim to tell him it was time for lunch. Jim wiped his face off with the towel that was offered to him by Rafe and then put his shirt back on. Rafe couldn’t believe the scars this man had on his body and wondered how Jim would ever get over his previous life.

~~~~~

After lunch, Jim asked Rafe, “Do you think I could go running in the trenches where it is safer?”

“I don’t see why not. Let me ask Blair and we’ll go from there. He’s probably around here somewhere,” Rafe said.

“He’s in this room, right here,” Jim said as he pointed to Blair’s study where he taught children during the day and sometimes at night.

Rafe knocked on the door and asked, “Do you think it would be safe enough for Jim to run in the trenches?”

“As long as you’re careful, Jim. You have to watch the winds and your footing. It’s not a jogging path out there. It’s barely a walking path,” Blair said worriedly.

Jim realized Blair was worried about him and that made him feel somewhat warm inside. He smiled and said, “I’ll be careful, Blair.”

“Okay, have a good time running and come back safe,” Blair said before he closed his door and went back to teaching again.

“He is a teacher?” Jim asked Rafe.

“The best of teachers,” Rafe answered.

“I agree,” Jim said as he went for his parka to begin his run.

~~~~~

As Jim was getting ready for his run, Blair joined him and said, “I’m going to run with you.”

“Why?” Jim wondered.

“I thought it would be nice to help you out the first time. From then on, you can run when you want, as long as you’re careful,” Blair answered.

They both got their parkas on and went out the door, the cold wind hitting them in the face, reminding them of how warm it was inside the compound. After they both hooked up to one of the cables, Blair picked up some heavy metal objects and put them in Jim’s pocket. Jim gave him a questioning look and Blair replied, “To help hold us down if the winds come up quickly.”

~~~~~

Warrior Part 2

In the following months, Jim tried to blend into the community, but knew he would probably never really fit in. People were still frightened of him and he realized it was with good cause. The only thing that Jim really enjoyed about this place was that he was alone a lot to work out and get himself in shape again.

The next thing he really enjoyed was being with Blair Sandburg. As a soldier he was never allowed to feel. As a man on this planet, he was still a soldier, but had begun to experience feelings. He enjoyed Blair’s company and wondered what it would be like to be with him sexually. All that they had done so far was kiss, but that was perfect and Jim enjoyed it a great deal. Jim heard things being said about them having sex and he wondered if and when this would ever happen. Was Blair afraid of him? Was he afraid that Jim would hurt him in some way? Jim really wished he could talk to Blair more. He needed to work on learning to open up.

~~~~~

One day while out running, he took refuge in a big trench when the winds came up and Blair was there waiting for him. Blair pulled Jim down to the ground and they began to kiss with such passion that Jim was at once lost in the feelings.

“Jim, I want to make you feel really good,” Blair whispered while the winds blew by savagely.

“I do feel really good. I almost always feel good when I’m around you,” Jim replied.

Blair pulled him closer and said, “I’m going to show you what we can do for each other.” Blair unzipped Jim’s pants and pulling his cock out, began to suck on it intently. Jim was surprised to say the least and felt himself tensing up. He couldn’t believe what Blair was doing to his member and wondered why he felt so odd while having that done. But the next thing he knew, he was shooting his come down Blair’s throat while howling Blair’s name. It was the first time Jim had ever experienced an orgasm and he was very confused.

Blair crawled up on top of Jim and kissed his lips, letting Jim taste himself on Blair’s lips. “Did you like that?” Blair asked, smiling.

“I’m confused about how I feel,” Jim answered.

“Did you hate it?” Blair asked seriously.

“I did not hate it, but I’m confused,” Jim replied.

“Did it feel good when you came down my throat?” Blair inquired.

“Yes, that felt good,” Jim answered.

“Then why are you confused. Just enjoy it. Just enjoy letting me make you feel good, okay?” Blair advised.

“Okay…”

“Would you like to do that to me now?” Blair wondered.

Jim had no idea what he was doing, but he did exactly the same things Blair had done. Blair was impressed, but also couldn’t stand all of the suction and biting and came wildly into Jim’s mouth and throat. Jim pulled up from Blair’s lap and kissed Blair as Blair had kissed him. But something was missing.

“Jim, do you have feelings for me?” Blair asked.

“I like you very much. I admire you as a person and a teacher for the children,” Jim replied.

“I love you, Jim. Do you understand what that means?” Blair asked.

“No…”

“It means I don’t want to be with anyone else but you. I have only feelings for you in this way. I love you,” Blair tried to explain.

Jim looked at him still somewhat confused, but beginning to understand some of it now and said, “I don’t want to be with anyone else but you. I do not feel for anyone like I do for you. Does this mean I love you?”

Blair beamed with happiness and said, “It’ll do.”

Blair asked, “What’s it like being a soldier? You must have thoughts or feelings, right?”

For a moment, Blair thought Jim wasn’t going to answer, but then he realized that Jim was thinking of his answer. “Fear. I think about fear and discipline. Always,” Jim answered.

“My god,” Blair said before he hugged Jim close to him. Jim had no idea what Blair meant by that and didn’t understand why Blair was suddenly holding on to him so tightly.

They both got themselves zipped back into their pants and started the run back to the compound. Blair smiled when he realized that he was looking forward to teaching Jim about love and relationships. He knew it was going to take a lot more time but he wasn’t about to quit no matter how long it took. He could be patient and move slowly until the man understood it all.

~~~~~

The following day, ten of the men were out collecting various scrap metals in an attempt to get the wind turbine working properly. Jim was watching them work and wondering what they were planning, when he suddenly cocked his head. Blair knew that was a sign that the winds were about to start and he shouted, “Everyone tie on, the winds are coming.”

Joel went to go tie on but his jacket and pant leg caught on the metal and he couldn’t get loose right away. By the time he got loose, the winds had started and he was blown toward the turbine which had begun to turn. Everyone tried to get hold of him, but no one had the strength to pull him over to safety. They were all tugging on his rope trying to get him out of the wind, but they weren’t getting very far. Blair was certain that Joel was going to be chopped into a million pieces by the turbine when all of a sudden Joel was being pulled away from it. When they turned and saw Jim using hand over hand on the rope to pull him back, they all jumped in to help him. Before long, the winds stopped and the turbine stopped turning. The crisis was over and everyone was smacking each other on the back in relief. Joel walked over to Jim and patted him on the back but Jim turned and glared at him. Joel took a step back and then realized Jim didn’t know why he was being hit. He wasn’t used to being patted on the back, so Joel told him why he had done it, smiling the entire time he talked. Jim just nodded and walked away. Joel shook his head sadly when he realized that Jim might never fit in. The men gathered up the things they had come for and started back for the compound.

Rafe said, “Joel, don’t you find it odd that he waited until you were almost chopped into pieces before he did something?”

Joel looked over at his friend and answered, “I think he wanted to see if we could do it by ourselves first. When he saw that we couldn’t, he stepped in. He saved me, that’s what’s important. I’ll be forever grateful to him for my life.”

Simon joined them and said, “He can probably hear what you’re saying.”

“Who cares, it’s not like we’re saying anything bad,” Rafe replied.

“Just keep some thoughts and opinions to yourself. We don’t want to piss him off,” Simon said seriously.

Joel said, “I like Jim. I think he’ll make a good settler someday. We just need to give him time to grow. He’s like a child and needs to learn each and every day.”

The wind started coming up again, so they all went for shelter once more and Jim found himself almost smiling at Joel’s comments. Jim liked Joel too and decided that he really needed to work harder at fitting in.

~~~~~

The settlers had a Christmas party that night and everyone attended except Jim. He watched from the floor above as people danced and laughed and wondered if he would ever feel like these people. He was saddened that the loss of his childhood might mean he never would and there was nothing he could do to change that.

Blair looked up and saw Jim watching everyone with sadness in his eyes. He got Jim’s attention and beckoned him down, but Jim shook his head no and walked away. Blair wanted Jim to fit in so badly, but it was easier said than done. He’s going to take a lot more work, this one.

~~~~~

John and Rafe were walking down the hallway wondering where Thomas had disappeared to when they spotted him in Jim’s room watching him do sit ups.

“Let’s leave them alone,” John said casually. “Jim is trying to figure out what children are like. I’ve seen him do it with Thomas and with Daryl. We’ll check back on him in a little while.”

Rafe said, “We’ll give him ten minutes. That’s probably long enough for him to drive the soldier nuts.”

John smiled at Rafe before he said, “His name is Jim, not the soldier.” He knew that Rafe liked Jim to a point but still worried about his mental state. John worried too, but he believed in giving Jim a little more time to grow.

Thomas was engrossed in watching Jim do sit-ups. Jim’s training had made him always aware of his surroundings no matter what he was doing, so he immediately saw the viper snake slither into the room and head for Thomas. Jim tossed his big boot over to the little boy who just looked at him questioningly. Silently, Jim showed Thomas what to do with the boot, hitting the floor hard with its heel but Thomas still didn’t seem to get it. As the viper got ready to strike, John came through the door and killed it quickly with a shovel. He glared at Jim and Jim knew he had done something that wasn’t approved of. Rafe and John hugged Thomas and warned him again to watch out for those snakes.

Jim put his boots back on and walked out of the room. He was discouraged to think that he wasn’t part of the group and would never fit in.

“John, we have to report this to Naomi. She needs to know that he’s dangerous with the children,” Rafe declared.

“Not yet. I want to give him another chance. I think he understood that he had done something wrong,” John assured Rafe.

“The next time, he might kill someone or allow them to be killed,” Rafe reminded John.

“We’ll give him a little more time and see how it goes,” John said hoping that the subject would be closed.

“And if someone dies or gets hurt because of him, what will you say then?” Rafe asked.

“It’s not a secret that you don’t care for Jim. Just try to keep an open mind about him learning how to fit in. It’s not easy for someone that spent the last 37 years being taught to be like a robot. This is hard on him too. Have some patience, Rafe.”

“All right, John. You win,” Rafe reluctantly conceded. “I’ll remain calm until he gives me reason to think differently. Let’s go outside with our son and play.”

~~~~~

Joel approached Blair and said, “I knitted this scarf for Jim for when he’s running in the wind. Would you give it to him? I made it for him for saving my life.” Joel held up a colorful scarf that would look wonderful on Jim.

Blair smiled and said, “That’s really nice of you, Joel. He’s in his workout room. Why don’t you give it to him? He’ll be pleased that you made it for him.”

Joel walked down the hallway and found the room that Jim was using for his workouts. He seemed to be very focused on something, Joel wasn’t sure what, but Joel went up to him and waited for him to stop hitting the hanging metal piece that he was using as a punching bag.

Jim was in a flash back and was hitting the metal over and over again, trying to kill the new soldiers. When Joel finally touched his shoulder to get his attention, Jim, still in the flash back, knocked Joel down on the floor and put his hand to Joel’s neck and started to squeeze. Joel was to the point of passing out when Jim came to his senses. Jim pulled away from him, looking mortified, but not before Naomi had seen it from the doorway.

Joel got up and said, “I made you this scarf for when you run, for saving my life.”

Jim didn’t know what to say to him. He had just tried to kill the man, and yet he gave him a scarf. Jim was confused again and hated that feeling. He knew one thing, Joel might forgive him, but Naomi wouldn’t. He knew the look on Naomi’s face well. He had seen that look many times in his life and he readied himself for the outcome.

~~~~~

On the Ship:

Mekum called Church and Rubrick into the room. “I wanted to let you know that we have found something for the new soldiers to do.”

“What? There is nothing going on up here at all,” Church answered. “We’re in between wars.”

“Sloan found survivors on Arcadia 234, the Waste Disposal Planet. We can’t have survivors down on that planet, so we’ll have some of the troops go take care of them,” Mekum said.

“What do you mean, take care of them. They haven’t done anything to be killed for,” Church argued.

“That you know of. We’re going to send in my ‘boys’ and let them take care of all of them. It’ll give them something to do and give all of us something to report.”

“I still think it’s a bad move, sir,” Church said.

“Stop thinking, then,” Mekum replied and said, “Sloan, let’s go back to Arcadia 234. We have a mission.”

Sloan made her way to the navigational board and punched in their new flight plan. She then started flying the ship back to Arcadia.

~~~~~

On Arcadia:

Naomi called a meeting with all of the adult members of the community. Jim wasn’t allowed to be in the room while they decided what to do about him, so he stood out in the hallway, waiting, because he knew what they would have to do.

Everyone started talking at once. They all seemed frightened of Jim in one way or another. Blair kept reminding people of all of the things he had done for them since he had been there, but it was to no avail.

Naomi stood up and said, “I’ve given this a lot of thought and there is no place in our community for Jim. He must go. We’ll give him food, clothing, a weapon and we will all pray for him while he tries to make a new life on his own.”

Blair shouted, “This is wrong. You all know it’s wrong. We can’t send him out there alone. He’ll never make it by himself. He needs a community. He has no one to help him decide what to do. He’s used to following orders.”

Naomi said, “Blair, remember you are in charge of this community and we come first. If he is voted out, he’s out. You have to look out for the people you swore you would protect.”

Blair just sighed and realized she was right. He was bound to these people but what about Jim? He had no one. How could he let Jim go?

“Bring Jim in now, please?” Naomi asked softly.

Simon brought Jim in and he stood as tall as he could for his sentence. Naomi said, “We hold nothing against you, Jim, but you can’t make it in our society. We have to think of our community first. We will give you food and clothing and a weapon and then you will be on your own.”

Jim nodded his head in agreement and saluted Naomi. “I’m ready to go, sir,” Jim said stoically.

Blair had big tears in his eyes as he watched everyone bring him clothing, a coat and a rifle. Blair was afraid that Jim wouldn’t be able to make it without them and he hated what they were doing. But his first job was to make sure the community was safe, and if they would feel safer with Jim gone, then that is what Blair had to do.

Jim put all of the clothing on, followed by the coat and the scarf and put the rifle over his shoulder. They all walked him to the door but as it opened Jim felt a terrible pain in his heart and wondered what it was. He wished he had time to discuss it with Blair. And what about Blair? How could he just forget about him? Jim had never met anyone who made him feel alive the way that Blair did.

Blair took Jim’s hand in his and said, “I’ll find you in time. Don’t give up on me.”

“I will never give up on you,” Jim answered and turned and walked away from everyone.

Jim walked for a while until he heard the winds coming, so he hurried to a trench and dived in before it started. He couldn’t even see the compound at this point, the wind was too strong. Jim felt something wet on his face and wondered what it was. He wiped at it and realized he was crying for the first time in his life. He sat there for the next 20 minutes, listening to the wind howl as the tears ran down his face. He had never felt such loss and it pained him to think of carrying that loss around with him. He missed Blair and wished he was there with him.

Jim realized he would have no one to discuss anything with from this day forward and this saddened him even more. He was really going to miss his talks with Blair and hearing Blair’s heartbeat when he wanted to listen to it. Jim knew he was a lost man.

~~~~~

That night Naomi tried to talk to Blair, but he wasn’t listening. “Blair, I made the decision for the community.”

“And what about Jim? He’s alone. He has no one. There is no way he can make it on his own. You’ve signed his death warrant,” Blair shouted.

Naomi knew it was useless trying to discuss things with him now. She sadly walked out of the room and hoped someday he would forgive her.

~~~~~

That night, while John and Rafe were sleeping, a viper snake slithered its way up the bed and started across their legs. They were awakened by Thomas hitting the viper with the heel of John’s boot. Rafe realized that Thomas had saved their lives and they might have made a mistake. “Do you think he was right all along that Thomas is capable of protecting himself and us?”

“I’m going to get Jim and bring him back. You tell everyone we made a huge mistake. Tell them what happened and why I’m going after him,” John said as he dressed quickly.

“Be careful, he might not take kindly to us anymore,” Rafe said nervously.

“He’s not going to hurt me, unless I was going to hurt him. I’m not worried, Rafe. Now go and take care of business. We’ll be back soon,” John ordered and hurried out of the room.

Rafe grabbed him before he got very far and kissed him. “Be very careful.”

“I love you, Rafe,” John said. “Now go and do what I asked you to.”

Rafe did as he was told and woke everyone to explain what had happened and how Thomas had saved their lives. “He needs us as much as we need him. John’s gone to bring him back.”

Blair was ecstatic that the community members had changed their minds. This was the best news he had heard all month and could hardly wait for Jim’s return.

Naomi walked up to him and said, “Do you forgive me, Blair?”

“You were just doing what the settlers wanted. But I’m glad that we are getting him back in the fold, Mom. He’s a good man and I love him,” Blair admitted.

Naomi smiled and said, “Any fool can see how you feel about him.”

~~~~~

On the ship:

Riley, one of the old soldiers asked Sloan, “Do you have weapons for this drill for us, sir?”

She sighed because they asked every day if they would receive weapons and she had to keep telling them that they were no longer soldiers. So again, she said, “Riley, you are no longer soldiers.”

“Yes, sir,” Riley replied.

“You don’t even have to call us sir anymore, Riley. You’re just like us,” Sloan tried to explain, but knew it was futile. She would have to tell them once again the next day. Sloan, Mekum and Rubrick treated the men as if they were stupid. But Church knew they were intelligent, just quiet about it.

As they neared the planet, Mekum got his ‘boys’ ready for combat. Not that Mekum was expecting much resistance, but there would be some. The new soldiers were eager to go. It had been too long since they’d seen action.

~~~~~

On Arcadia 234:

Jim was still sitting in the trench from the night before, eating some food and thinking about some of the things that the settlers had said to him over the last six months. He remembered that the first time Simon spoke to him, he asked if he was a deserter and Jim had told him he was replaced by a better soldier. Simon seemed to accept him more after that. Jim wished he could have adapted better and fit in so he didn’t have to be alone, but this was the way it was. He looked off into the wind and saw John holding on to the cables as he headed towards him. Jim wondered what he wanted.

John climbed into the trench and said, “We made a mistake, Jim. We never should have sent you away.”

“Soldiers belong with soldiers, sir,” Jim answered.

“You belong with us,” John answered.

At that moment, Jim heard a ship in the sky and looked up. John moved out into the open and waved his arms when he saw what Jim was looking at. Jim pulled him back into the trench and said, “We don’t know who they are, yet.”

It was too late, they had already seen John waving and once they landed, they started out in their ATV. They shot a missile towards the trench and Jim pulled John out of the line of fire and told him to run. As they ran faster and faster, the missiles kept pounding the area, until John was finally hit. Jim looked down at him and knew it wasn’t good, but he still picked John up and carried him to another trench. He put him down and started to tend his wounds but John said, “I’ve lost too much blood. Promise me that you won’t let them kill Thomas.”

A stone faced Jim answered, “I promise.”

“Promise me you’ll look out for Rafe and Thomas,” John pleaded.

“I promise, John,” Jim agreed as John died.

Jim saw a second ATV heading for the compound and knew he had to get there to save the community, but first he’d have to eliminate the threat of the first ATV.

He hid in the deep water in one of the trenches and when the soldiers came in on foot, he killed them one at a time and took their weapons for his own use. He kept going, the silent killing machine that he’d been trained to be, only this time his purpose was to save the lives of the settlers. He knew they were on their own for a short while, but he had to take care of this. Without any thought, he stuck a knife into the throat of the 12th soldier he encountered and headed for the ATV where he eliminated the driver and the two that were on top of the ATV. Jim was wearing down and was relieved that three of the soldiers had been taken by the wind. So Jim counted the dead in his head and realized there were only three left on foot and the driver of the second ATV. He would take care of them now. He ran toward the compound and hoped he would be in time to save them all.

~~~~~

On the ship:

Mekum said, “They killed the two civilians, but they found an outpost up the road from there. I told them to take it out. Leave no survivors to tell the tale.”

“I can’t believe you’re going to kill all of those people just because you want to see how well your ‘boys’ work on another planet. What is the big deal about killing a bunch of settlers? Don’t your men deserve worthier adversaries than that?” Church asked.

Sloan found she agreed with Church for a change, but said nothing.

“Stop worrying about the survivors, there will be none. I’ve got the greatest skilled and trained minds on this. We can just sit back and relax until they come back,” Mekum commented.

Church walked away scowling. He knew something was going to happen. He just knew it. He hated Mekum and didn’t trust those new soldiers as far as you could throw them.

~~~~~

On the planet:

As the ATV approached the compound, Naomi and some of the others agreed to go out and try to talk to them. Naomi stopped in the doorway of the buildings when she saw the looks on the soldier’s faces. She knew it was bad and only had time to whisper, “God help us,” before she was hit by a missile. Then the other men began firing on the rest of the community members, killing them quickly and savagely.

Simon and Blair led Joel, Rafe, Henri, Sarah, Megan and the children into another part of the compound. They knew they were running for their lives and needed to find somewhere safe to hide. Blair didn’t see much hope, but tried to keep the 20 children from getting so scared. Surely, these animals wouldn’t kill children, would they? He thought about it for a moment and realized why Jim always looked so haunted. Blair couldn’t understand how anyone could live like that.

~~~~~

Of the four remaining soldiers, one stayed with the ATV while the others went into the compound and opened fire with their machine guns and flame throwers. The settlers fought strongly, but they were under armed and weak in the eyes of the new soldiers.

Simon could hear the gunshots and flame thrower and he wondered how long they had before they would be overtaken. He didn’t really care; he was going to give them a fight and so would everyone else that was with him. They all continued to run, hoping that the rest of their people would be able to get out too.

Simon barricaded a door and said, “Blair, you take everyone and go. I’ll wait for them here.”

“Simon, you can’t fight those new soldiers with one gun. It would be suicide,” Blair answered.

“Don’t argue with me, Blair. Get the children to safety,” Simon ordered.

Daryl hugged his dad and said, “I’ll stay with you, daddy.”

“You go and help Blair with the children. Don’t worry about me, Daryl. Now go.”

Blair pulled Daryl away from Simon and they took off down the corridor, shutting doors behind them as they went. As if a door could stop those relentless soldiers.

Simon listened and heard screams and gunfire, but as yet they hadn’t made it to his position. The next thing he knew, the door was pushed in and Simon went flying to the floor. He was helpless to do anything but before the soldier could kill him, there was a crash from the ceiling and Jim slid down a rope and shot the soldier in the head. He pulled the gun and flack vest off of the dead man and gave them to Simon. “Where is Blair? Where are the children?” Jim asked quietly.

Simon whispered and pointed, “They went that way to the other end of the compound. I wanted them to get a head start.”

“Simon, go join them and help them. I’m staying here to get the other two soldiers. I’ll join up with you when the time is right,” Jim said as he slid quietly through the door.

Simon took off running, with screaming everywhere he passed and knew he had to get to Blair and the others. At least they had one decent weapon now.

Jim found the second soldier easily because he knew his way around and the new soldiers were unfamiliar with the territory. This was an advantage that Jim had been trained to use for his own benefit.

Jim stripped the body of the second dead man and knew he only had to find one more enemy inside the compound. He waited quietly and before long, the soldier came through the doorway and Jim shot him with a missile. Jim took his weapons that hadn’t been destroyed and started hurrying after Blair and the children.

The radio crackled to life and the soldier from outside said, “223, check in.”

Jim held the radio up to his throat and growled. Then he was off and running for the others.

~~~~~

On the ship:

Number 603 called Mekum and told him about the growl on the radio. Mekum ordered, “Get out and kill him.”

“Yes, sir.”

Mekum turned to Church and said, “We need to get a bomb ready for the surface. Instruct the old soldiers on how to do it, and we’ll leave it here and blow the entire planet.”

“Don’t you think it would have been better to breed them with brains?” Church asked, knowing it would piss Mekum off.

“Shut, up, Church,” Mekum said as he stormed out of the room.

Church had no idea how close he came to being shot by Mekum who was furious. He had just lost an entire unit to a handful of civilian settlers and he wasn’t about to let this go.

~~~~~

On the planet:

Jim caught up to the small group of survivors of the attack. Blair went into Jim’s arms and hugged him hard. “I’m so glad you’re alive,” Blair whispered, Sentinel soft.

“Me too,” Jim answered and formed a smile for Blair. Blair knew he was coming around and he was proud of his hard work. But this was no time for praising him for being human. Blair knew he needed the soldier in Jim now.

Jim heard someone coming and said, “Go stand over there and try to draw the fire your way, but be safe. I’m going to take care of this last one.”

Blair said, “No, you come with us.”

“Soldiers deserve soldiers, sir,” Jim said and then disappeared behind some metal piled in the room.

They all ran to hide as they were told just as the last soldier entered the room. He spotted Megan standing there with no weapon and raised his gun to shoot her but Jim came out of his hiding place and shot first. But this soldier was wearing heavier protection and Jim found himself facing hand to hand combat.

The fight began and Jim quickly realized he might have underestimated this man. He was very strong and Jim was very tired but he was determined to win. This new soldier would have to cut his heart out, before he stopped fighting for these people. They were his community, his family, and he would defend them with his last breath.

The two men had been fighting until they were both tired when Jim looked down and noticed a saw blade on the ground. His opponent saw him looking at it and reached down to grab for it, just as Jim had planned. There was a pipe hanging down above the soldier and Jim pulled it down, cutting the man’s stomach wide open. The new soldier was shocked that he was outdone by an old solider and a bunch of civilians. Jim then went to his neck and broke it just as quickly as he could. Soldiers deserved to die as soldiers.

He turned to everyone and said, “We have to get on the move. That ship will leave without us if we don’t hurry up. They aren’t going to wait long. Everyone grab the children’s hands and keep them close during the winds. We have a ways to go and we have to get there in one piece.”

Blair hugged Jim once again as everyone else shook his hand. They started out for the trip to the ship and Jim hoped they would make it. If they did, he would see that they ended up going to Trinity Moons.

~~~~~

On the ship:

Mekum and Rubrick were getting the ship ready to go. “Do you believe they killed an entire unit of new soldiers?” Rubrick asked in amazement.

“They’ll all be blown to kingdom come and they’ll get what’s coming to them. I just can’t understand how my soldiers let civilians get the upper hand like that. That’s never happened before,” Mekum stated.

“Everything is set for when the old soldiers get back inside, sir,” Rubrick said.

“I think we should get ready to go now. We don’t need the old soldiers, we can say they died in battle trying to protect us,” Mekum said.

Church, who was sitting at his station nearby, stood up and said, “You’re not leaving them behind. I won’t permit it.”

Mekum pulled out his gun and shot him. Sloan glanced at the lifeless body on the floor and said, “Sir, things will be ready in about ten minutes.”

“Now that’s what I want to hear. Don’t say a word to the old soldiers, they’ll never know what hit them,” Mekum responded.

~~~~~

On the planet:

Outside the ship, the old soldiers carried the bomb to the site they were ordered to and set it down. The settlers, the children and Jim all stood in the dark watching them.

Riley noticed Jim and almost smiled before he came to attention and saluted. He was relieved to see Jim was alive. Jim returned the salute and said, “We need to get everyone inside without Mekum finding out.”

Riley got an evil gleam in his eye and said, “Follow me, I’ll show you the way in. Everyone has to be very quiet once we get in there until we disarm the men. Understood?”

“Understood,” they all said at once.

Riley and his comrades showed Jim and his charges how to get onto the ship and led them into the back quarters.

Jim listened to see what Mekum was up to and heard Mekum say, “Take off now, just leave the old soldiers out there, they aren’t any good anyway.”

Jim turned to all of the old soldiers and said, “They think you are outside and they were going to leave you there to die with the bomb.”

Riley smiled and said, “Follow me.”

All of the old soldiers followed Riley to the control room where they surprised and captured Mekum, Sloan and Rubrick. Riley and Jim pushed them out the door of the ship while others carefully laid Church’s body on the ground. Jim stood guard with a big gun pointing in their direction and coldly reminded them, “You might want to turn that bomb off.”

“Surely you can’t be serious? You can’t leave us here. I’m ordering you to let us back on the ship so we can get back to what we’re supposed to be doing,” Mekum shouted.

Jim shouted back, “I’m no longer a soldier and that relieves me of all duties, including following your orders.”

As he said that, the door started to close. The three stranded officers made an unsuccessful attempt to get back in the door. They all landed on the ground and realized they needed to get that bomb disarmed. They ran for it and tried to remember the code that would defuse it.

~~~~~

Inside the ship:

Riley and Jim set course for what would be their new home on the planet Trinity Moons. Riley prepared for liftoff and everything went smoothly. Jim was watching what Riley was doing when Thomas walked up to him and held his arms out. Jim paused for a second and then remembered they weren’t soldiers anymore. He picked Thomas up and showed him all of the stars outside the window. It was a beautiful sight. Riley and the others were in awe of Jim holding this little person and hoped that someday they too could learn to be like Jim.

~~~~~

On the planet:

“What do you mean you don’t remember the code?” Mekum asked.

“You have to be certain or you’ll blow us up either way. It’s either 4789 or 8947. I can’t remember. Riley was in charge of it, sir,” Sloan admitted.

Mekum put in 4789 and the entire planet blew up.

~~~~~

On the ship:

Riley smiled when he saw the explosion and remarked, “I guess they should have remembered the code.”

Jim smiled back at him and walked towards the doorway where Blair was waiting, unsure of what to do in front of the soldiers.

Jim pulled him into his arms and kissed him. “Riley, this is Blair. Blair saved me from myself and everyone else. If anything ever happens to me, please take care of him.”

Blair got out of Jim’s arms and stuck his hand out to Riley but Riley just looked at it blankly. Blair said, “Give me your hand, man.”

Riley gave him his hand and Blair shook it and said, “It’s very good to meet you, Riley. It’s nice to meet all of you. I’m glad you’re all right.”

“Blair, we have set course for Trinity Moons,” Jim said softly.

“My god, we’re finally going to have a home, Jim. All of you soldiers are now our friends and part of our family.” Blair then shook hands with the other men that were in the room. The soldiers took an instant liking to Blair when they realized that he was sincere. They had been used to the abuse from Mekum as of late and Blair was a very nice change.

“I’m sorry your mother didn’t make it, Blair,” Jim commented.

“At least she died defending what she believed in. That’s what’s important,” Blair answered. “And we lost almost 50 others that will be missed. But we have all of these wonderful children that will need homes once we get to Trinity Moons. The soldiers can be family members too. Everyone will look out for each other. This is going to be the best colony in the world.”

“Did you tell Rafe about John yet?” Jim asked.

“Yes, I told him while you were taking care of business. He was very sad, but also very proud that he died with much honor. All he wanted was to find you and tell you that we were wrong. He did that and he’ll be remembered for that brave moment,” Blair said sadly.

Daryl walked into the room and said, “Blair, are we going to be all right?”

Jim smiled at Daryl and said, “We’re going to be just fine. We’re heading to our new home now. Tell everyone that we’re on our way to Trinity Moons.”

One of the soldiers stood up and said, “I’ll go and check on all of the survivors, sir.”

Jim smiled and said, “It’s Jim. We don’t have to call each other sir anymore.”

Four of the soldiers went with him and they got food and clothing for all that were on the ship.

Joel said, “This is actual food. My god, how long has it been since we got to eat meat?”

Simon smiled and said, “I just wish everyone could have been with us. It’s a shame that we had to lose so many in this fight. But thanks to Jim, we’ll be all right.”

Megan said, “Do you suppose it’s too soon to try and date one of the soldiers? I really like Riley. There’s just something about him.”

Sarah smiled and replied, “You’ve always liked the bad boys, Megan. When we get settled, ask him out.”

“I will. I want to have a family and a life. We have a lot of children to spread around, so we’ll all have plenty to care for,” Megan said.

“They will never lack from love. They will have everything they need from us,” Sarah agreed.

~~~~~

Blair said, “Is there somewhere we can take a shower?”

Jim blushed and answered, “Follow me. Riley, I’ll be in Mekum’s quarters if you need me.” Jim pushed Blair towards the hallway and they walked to their new quarters.

“Jim, how do you feel about having some children in our household when we land on Trinity Moons?” Blair asked.

“I would like having children around. They are very smart and know more than they let on. I like them very much. We are going to take some of the children into our home?” Jim asked.

“Yes, I think we could take at least four of them. They’ve all lost their families, we’re all they have left,” Blair said sadly.

Jim leaned down and kissed Blair. “Don’t worry about it now, Blair. We’ll take care of the children when we land on our new home. These old soldiers will be a big help with them too. They just need to get used to having them underfoot. Things are going to work out just fine, Blair.”

Blair smiled back at Jim and said, “I think you’re right.”

Riley had watched the couple leave and realized Jim and Blair were indeed a couple. He was a quick study. The officers that they left behind thought that the soldiers were stupid, but they weren’t. They were very intelligent and it was up to them to start a new life with these settlers. They weren’t going to screw it up either.

The end

Back to Stories.

Acknowledgments: Thank you to Claudia from TSSToryfinders group, who came up with this idea for a story from the movie, Soldier. Thank you to Lisa for always being here for me, no matter what. Thank you, Dorothy for everything. Beta by Most Crazy Lady, without her, I wouldn’t have done it at all. Thank you.