Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta military. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta military. Mostrar todas las entradas

viernes, 30 de junio de 2017

Mission

   It wasn’t very normal for Truman to be assigned to a special mission. Not that he didn’t deserved to be in one, rather than his superiors had always deemed preferable that he stayed with the troops, helping do what soldiers usually do instead of traveling the globe protecting something or someone. He had never been the bodyguard type and people saw that. Instead, they considered him a mastermind of strategy, a very skilled mind that could solve difficult situations were a lot was at risk.

 However, about a week or so ago, he had been summoned by his superiors and instantly praised and thanked for his service. When they did that, he knew that they wanted something out of him. The only question was what? What did they want him to do that they couldn’t find anyone else to do it? Was he their first choice or had they just decided to send someone that not many people would miss? So many questions amassed in his head in only a few seconds. His muscles were tense.

 After being done with the praising, they explained they needed him to form a team to protect a very special cargo travelling through a very difficult region of the world. A region at war that needed to be crossed by a train carrying very important things for the country. At first, Truman wasn’t very convinced by the aspect of the mission. He was normally given a lot to work with but this time they wanted him to get a team just to ride and protect a train. They wouldn’t say anything else.

 But he couldn’t refuse to help him. In the military, there was no such thing as the word “no”. You can have doubts and you can even express them to your superiors but you cannot, never, say “no” to any of their orders. Maybe one day when you become a superior as well and that may never happen for many reasons people knew very well but preferred not to talk about. The point was the he had no option but to accept the mission, as vague and unclear as his orders could be.

 Truman contacted every single soldier that he knew, the ones that were actually good at what they did. The team he needed to gather had to be very large in order to have a successful trip through deserts and farmlands, as well as devastated cities. Some of the men he contacted were spending some time with their families but they all accept in an instant. Again, there was never a negative word inside of the military; there were just orders and the right way to proceed about them. Besides, they all respected Truman a lot, as they knew him from the field.

 They were given amazing brand new weapons as well as a special suit that would protect them in case of an attack. As there was no time to train, Truman asked the men he had invited to the mission to exercise daily until the day they traveled to the city where the train was stationed. They all obliged, going back to their intense gym routine in the blink of an eye. Most of them loved the pain that exercising brought. They felt more powerful after it and their confidence was easily boosted.

When they got to the train, they were kind of surprised to discover that the train they had to protect was not a cargo train but rather an actual passenger train, with few but too many passengers for them to worry about. Truman expressed his concern to one of his bosses but he just said he had done lots of missions like this one that he didn’t have to worry. But he did, because he had prepared everything to protect a cargo train, not really a place were people had drinks and laughed too.

 Because the train was not exclusive to one person. To ensure that their enemies thought twice about attacking the transport, the government had decide to use passengers as a human shield to protect whatever it was that the government needed to have protected. It was very complicated and not very patriotic to use others in order to defend something that no one knew what it was, but once again, they had to trust the superior and just proceed with everything, no matter where they were.

 The train departed on time, early in the morning, with at least one hundred people seating inside. The team had no idea where what they protecting was in the train but, as they guarded doors and such, they discussed their ideas about what it was and why the government want to protect it like that. Some said it was only a bunch of papers incriminating someone somewhere and others were certain it was some kind of new weapon that they had developed in secret and needed to be moved.

 Any of the guesses could be correct, that was the thing that bothered Truman the most. As he walked outside, in order to guard the last wagon, he realized for the first time in his life that he had no idea why he was in that place. Something didn’t feel right to him and when that happened he did prefer to go with his gut instead than his head. Whenever something was off, he had stomach cramps. By the time he reached the last wagon, he wasn’t feeling especially great either. More like the opposite. He felt a little dizzy and then realized it wasn’t because of his gut.

 Before fainting Truman had realized what was going on: they had used some kind of poison or gas that made people fall asleep. As his eyes closed, he was certain that he had fallen into some kind of trap but he had no idea who the trap was supposed to catch. The other soldiers were not attacked, only him as he was alone and the leader of the bunch. He woke up much later, judging by the night sky outside. Truman knew that he was still inside the train but in some sort of closet.

 He was very cramped in that small space, his head still spinning. He wanted to talk to someone; he wanted his questions answered and his men beside him. But he didn’t get any of his wishes that night. Instead, he go to hear the most awful of noises: a woman’s scream pierced the sky. It was so intense, that Truman felt the voice inside him for a while. The sad thing was that the scream was followed by more screams and they were not only done by the same woman, but by other people too.

 Truman fought the cable they had used to tie him up. But it didn’t move from his wrists for a second. She tried to make every part of the small room to shake in order to cause someone to hear him or at least to be able to open the door but he couldn’t. They must have used some kind of lock for the door and the cable on his wrists seemed to pierce into his skin every time he tried to get rid of it. It was very painful, because he had tried very hard and now his wrists were covered in blood.

 The screaming continued and it was followed by the sound of weapons. Truman’s face was drained of all blood when he heard something he could recognize anywhere: his brand new weapons. He had practiced a bit before boarding the train and had discovered how that new assault weapon was just so much better than existing ones. Apparently they were made only to be used by a special task force that protected the most private secrets of the nation, whenever and wherever necessary.

 The sound of the weapons lasted for at least fifteen minutes. Then, it was silence. A very eerie silence because nothing but the train tracks could be heard. Truman thought that maybe they had been attacked by the enemy and now they had killed everyone on the train.


 But then the door opened and someone pulled him out of the tiny closet. The brightness of the lights were very hard to look at but it was way harder to look at one of his superiors with one of the new weapons on his hand. And on the floor, Truman’s team, all dead. It was the first time he needed someone to explain the situation.

jueves, 25 de febrero de 2016

Jovian loop

   It was a completely closed room. It had no windows, only one door and no visible openings for heating or air conditioning. However, the temperature in the room was very nice and the two women and three men inside were chatting just as if they were out in the park with the sun above their heads. There was a large table shaped like a U on one side of the table and in the other there was just the empty space where they were talking to each other. Next to the table there was a wall covered in TV screens that looked more like very black glasses. The room fell silent the moment the door opened and a woman, accompanied by a gentleman in a military suit, entered the room talking. The only word heard was “people”.

 The two stopped talking when they saw the rest of the people and just went on to the table. Each seat was occupied and the small woman that had entered last had the central seat, facing the screens. No one said a word for some minutes. They glanced at some sheets of paper in front of them and just gave each other strange looks. The woman looked at her hands, also waiting. Finally, the screens turned on and formed one big image in high resolution. Everyone was even more silent then, if that was possible. They appeared to have no ability to breath or be relaxed. They couldn’t believe their eyes.

-       This is the only image taken by the Hercules probe as it descended through the clouds of Jupiter only two days ago. The image was beamed to an orbiter before the probe was crushed by atmospheric pressure.

 The small woman read this from one of the papers and when she was done she looked at the image, apparently trying to figure out what she was seeing.  Noticing no one said a word, she told them to state their view on the matter, starting by one end of the table. When they were all done exposing their theories, she wasn’t any more relaxed than before. She looked at the screen again; her hands in the position of prayer, and talked as calmly as she could, her voice trembling a bit.

-       Life, then?

 The group around her, nodded. They seemed terrified but not of her. Each one of those scientists had gone through the picture once and twice and even thirty times, checking every single variable and making copies of different sizes and colors and formats and the conclusion was always the same. As the probe descended through the clouds, it had taken a picture of things that were clearly alive. It was hard to describe the creatures but the movement was obvious and the camera on the probe was state-of-the-art, the best one ever on a machine sent to space. Many had thought it wasn’t worth it to put that camera in a probe that was going to be destroyed.

 The woman told them that, as the president, she was entitled to accept or dismiss their theories. So, again, one by one, she asked them to explain why the image depicted living beings. Why those couldn’t be just clouds or errors or whatever else. There was a scientist, a woman, who stood up and said in squeaky voice that the image was not the only thing they had gotten from the probe. A couple of the others looked at her surprised, clearly they had no idea about this new information. The president looked tired and asked the scientist to show them the information she had.

 The scientist went to the wall, were a small keyboard appeared and introduced a code no one else knew. Then, the screen changed in order to show a very small video on a loop. It was only six seconds long and the quality was not as good as the picture’s but it was clearly visible that those things in the image were moving. There was no sound but everyone seeing the footage supposed it would have been a very noisy environment. There was something like a flash at the end of the video, possibly a thunder.

-       Could any of you describe… the creatures?

 Another scientist, a bald man, said he was a biologist and had concluded that the creatures appeared to float in the upper atmosphere. They seemed to control their elevation perfectly and had a look between a cloud and an elephant. The comparison was very strange but they could all agree with the man, who sat down very fast after concluding his theory. The video kept repeating itself on the screen and the president just looked at it, as if trying to decipher some other meaning behind it.

 The aide she had come with, an older gentlemen in a military uniform, stood up and asked the rest of the people if the creatures were hostile. Surprisingly, it was madam president who told him that was the stupidest question she had heard recently. He told him it was impossible that those creatures could be any threat. The implication of their existence went much farther than just aggression. It made a change in our collective minds, our societies and civilizations. There was life on another planet and they had the proof right there.

 The man sat down, embarrassed, and the woman inhaled some air and just pulled back into her chair, thinking about many things, some of which they hadn’t even been talking about. After all, she had a daughter and was thinking of how weird it would be to explain all of that to her. She was a smart young woman but was curious to see if a young person would be as shocked as she was. To her the revelation had been too much to handle, so much she didn’t really know what was the next step.

 Apparently everyone was thinking the same thing because one of the scientists asked exactly what they were going to do with this information. Would they keep on studying the data or would they just released the video to the public and let them decide what it was? The president had no answer to that and her military aide was not going to say one more word on the matter. Silence again and the video in a loop. The creatures moving up and down, through the clouds. They had lights or something on them and had a strange color. The president wondered how it would feel to fall through the Jovian atmosphere.

 Her mind went back to the room when the video disappeared from the screen, instead being replaced by a white flag, whit a skull in the center, flanked in the back by two crossed swords. It was a pirate flag. Everyone in the room looked at each other, is if they were looking for someone to jump from their seat and excuse themselves for the mishap or the joke or whatever that was. But no one moved. Worst even, someone let out a gasp and said almost in a scream: “The Pirates!” The statement was a little obvious at first but then, slowly; the y understood what he had meant.

 The president said a course word and asked the military counselor for her phone but he reminded her that no phones worked in that room. He then yelled at him, ordering him to run out and tell the security forces to confront a cyber attack.  But it was too late. The famous Pirates, a band of virtual brigands that dedicated to looting governments and stealing their most precious belonging, had already done their deed. The Pirates were famous because of their logo with the white flag instead of a black one and their tendency to never ask for money. They said people paid them, with their honesty and enthusiasm.

 The flag on the screen disappeared and then they were looking at a webpage, more precisely it was someone going to YouTube. One of the videos the site recommended, as it was knew, was the one they had just seen. It played in a loop again and the comment and number of viewings rose in only fifteen minutes, time it took for madam president’s aide to go out and make all sorts of calls that wouldn’t make one ounce of a difference. The information was public and they could not make unseen what had been seen millions of times.


 The president couldn’t move, couldn’t keep her eyes apart. The man she had come in with tried to help her up but she just wouldn’t budge. She saw the creatures going up and down, and up and down. And she realized that the world had just changed. Her daughter would now next time she saw her. She cried a single tear, cleaned it and marched out of the room.

martes, 12 de enero de 2016

Him and the gym

   It was very annoying, but it was more and more frequent that, in the middle of the night, he had to wake up to a cramp or some other time of pain. It would normally be in his feet or legs but sometimes it was his waist that felt the pain or even his face. He had gone to the doctor several times and to many different ones but none of them was able to tell him why that happened. He hated when it was obvious they were inventing what to say instead of giving him a science based and objective point of view. They just shot in the dark, trying to get it right.

 Many had told him it was the lack of exercise so he tried to jog in the mornings. Soon, he changed it to the afternoons, and then the nights. All of this happening in the same week, as he realized he hated to reorganize his life around such a menial activity. He didn’t understand how some people dared to say they loved to exercise often and for many hours. He didn’t tell this to anyone, but for him all those persons in the gyms and the parks exercising every single hour of the day, were just insane people without any real talent in them.

 Of course, he didn’t tell this to anyone when he signed on for a year at a big gym near his house. A perky girl showed him all the machines, explained the courses he could take (as if he was entering Harvard) and told him about the trainers that helped people there. Some even had experience in the military, which assured quality but also inspired some fear. In his first week he avoided the trainers and the courses and the dancing lessons, in order to focus only in the machines. It was a failure anyway but at least he wasn’t getting yelled at.

 The screams were constant in that place and everyone behaved as if it was extremely normal that a man build like a house would scream a bunch of skinny short women about how they couldn’t meet his extremely bizarre quotas of exercise. The man was clearly deranged somehow, always screaming and never really doing any exercise himself, only when he needed to demonstrate something he wanted all of them to do. Even then it was strange, because he would do the exercise so fast and in such a bizarre way, none of the women would get it fast and the screaming would ensue.

 He wasn’t the only insane one in the place. For a spinning class, there was a lot of yelling there too. The “teacher” there was a woman. She was very beautiful and her body was testament to her prowess in the exercise area but she was another one that yelled a lot. And he could never hold his laughter when looking at the spinning class because it was simply ridiculous. That woman yelling others to accelerate on bikes going nowhere, in a closed room with the concentrated heat that everyone was releasing, without the refreshing sight of the actual world.

 He exercised independently as long as he could but in every area of that place, there was a man or a woman kind of supervising that everyone make good use of the machines, normally looking after the cleanliness of everyone in the gym and to see that everyone was using the machines in the right way. To him, it was amazing how little sense of humor people in a gym could have. He saw a young man once trying to do a choreography he had clearly taken away from the TV on some of the running machines and they simply expelled them for that because they deemed his behavior “irresponsible” and “dangerous”.

 No one laughed there unless it was hypocritical laughter or if the person was talking on the phone. Besides that, the sound that ruled was heavy breathing and the eternal sounds of the machines and the one of the stupid music the put every single day. Every day it was the same playlist, from beginning to end and he already knew it by heart. And what was so annoying about it, is that it was there to make you feel you could always do more, like the music they put on shops and so on.

 Basically, the place was a laboratory, and every stupid person that paid to be there was a mouse or a hamster forever turning in their little wheel like an idiot, not ever thinking twice about anything. It was easy to see how brainwashed some of them are and the scary thing was that the results they had made them even more prone to stay there and keep on going and just obsess about the whole thing. He had hated to rearrange his life around exercise but many others were happy to do it, dedicating even more and more time per week to what they called “the art of exercise”.

 “Horseshit”. That’s what he told his doctor after a couple of months going to the gym. They did a lot of exams and tests and it was revealed that the exercise had nothing to do with whatever was happening to him. The cramps would even get worse some nights and he had slowly became a person that slept on his chest, as it was impossible to him sleeping in any other way. His legs always hurt and his body was still as bad as it was months ago.

 When he saw the results of the test, he decided to quit the gym. He had paid for a year but he didn’t mind “loosing” that money because in any case he had already paid it and new that the people in the gym had already spend it in some stupid machine. So he decided to only exercise in the weekends and on the park and maybe doing something he would enjoy, for a change. He played football with friends sometimes, or with a Frisbee or he could even buy a dog and play with him. The possibilities were endless.

 Yes, he wasn’t ripped like those nutbags from the gym but he started feeling better once he decided to relax about the whole thing and when he decided to get massages and eat better. All of those decisions made him happier than going to an enclosed space to run like a lunatic. Now he enjoyed his life and, even without the killer body, he felt better and that’s all he ever wanted. He had always been happy with who he was and had been depressed the whole time being in the gym. With all the pictures and the trainers and the brainwashing, it was hard not get out of there thinking “I have to be like all of this people”.

 He sometimes saw some of them in the park or in the street and they always gave him this look of superiority. But the look wasn’t only at him but at the world around them. For some stupid reason, all of this toolbags that had once decided to go crazy in the exercise, decided they were better than the rest of us and the worst thing was that all the media and the society at large believed that to be true. We have been taken by the balls by a small group of people and now the prototypes of beauty are radically different than what they were a hundred years ago and even more than what they were on the Renaissance or before.

 But people can stand up to that and just move along, living their lives as they may and not thinking every single second about how they look. He laughed alone when recalling some of the conversations he had overheard in the gym while in the machines or in the locker room. It has to be left clear that he didn’t thought they were all stupid but some of them were such idiots, it was a very difficult thing to ignore. They talked about sex in a way it was simply funny to hear about it, as if it was an exhibition of the caliber of a two peacocks showing their feathers to the one female, who also happened to be ripped like them.

 It hadn’t been his thing but he new that some people liked it and he was fine with it. Even some of his friends told him he should have at list used his membership the whole year, at least once a week. But he told them he simply couldn’t stand going there anymore. Seeing the faces of people that claimed they had fun exercising but were there every day stressed out because they didn’t lose as much weight as they had planned or because they wouldn’t meet theirs trainer’s demands. It was a disaster.


 He finally decided to buy that dog and it was the best decision he ever had. Not only he had tons of exercise running after his furry acquisition, the dog also became his best and most loyal friend. And that was something exercising like a lunatic couldn’t offer. It couldn’t give you real feelings, only shallow ones that surfaced because you can’t even think as you kill yourself on those damned machines.

viernes, 8 de enero de 2016

Bathhouse

   The place was full of steam and very humid. The columns that divided one part of the baths from the others appeared to be sweating, as everyone else in that place. There were mostly men, as the women baths were located separately but some women came in, naked of course, and served the high-ranking men. Prostitution was forbidden in the baths but business in that field was done there anyway and the act would be performed somewhere else, so that way the owner of the baths wouldn’t have any problem with the authorities.

 Many military loved the baths; especially after the long campaigns the emperor sent them too. The ones that came back, successful or not, were considered better than normal men so they received every single kind of gift and appreciation possible by the general public. For example, there was this general in one of the pools, enjoying the hot water, but also caressing a young man he had taken an interest for and eating with that boy many tropical fruits that were only accessible to the most important people in the empire.

 The fruits were served cut and ripe in a large plate. This was all done by men as women were believed not to be “good enough” to serve such powerful and important people. Women were always entertainment or responsibility, never anything else. Some of them resented that and claimed that women should also be treated like gods and so on, but the response was always that women did not go to war, so they had no idea what real sacrifice was or how loyalties and strategy worked.

 The baths were a men’s world.

 The hand of the general went up and down the young men’s leg and the only thing he could do was to smile. His family had been the one to send him against his will to the baths. He didn’t wanted to be there but had to as the general promised a very large sum to his family in exchange for his company. This meant that the poor boy had to be around the general every single day, at every time and everywhere until the older men just decided he liked someone else or until he verbally declared the boy was not suitable anymore.

 The boy knew it was cruel to think that way but he wanted another boy to appear soon and be more of the liking of the general. He didn’t cared what happened to that other boy, he just wanted to be replaced in order to go home and become a scientist as his parents had once promised him. He had only attended a few lessons with a known master of the city when he was picked up by the general in a crowded street. He had gotten lost going to class and that had been his downfall.     
 But not all were anxious to be rejected. In another pool, a younger man was been honored with the most delicious wine and a nice ration of roasted boar. He was the young son of a general that had become an official too in Northern Africa. He had combatted a tribe there that had tried to liberate some slaves. The man had won, making his father and the empire very proud of him. So he had chosen a boy too to accompany him but the difference was they had agreed on all of it before.

 The boy was not from Rome. He wasn’t a kid with a family or with any prospects. No one really knew this, but he had been one of the many people captured in Africa to become slaves. His skin was dark but not as dark as to draw looks from everyone he encountered. He was beautiful and that was an advantage in a society were beauty was so important. The young military had seen that and liberated him with the condition that he should remain on his side as long as he desired.

 Strangely but not uncommon in these exchanges, the two men formed a very tight and deep relationship. They travelled together from those far lands to the capital and in the process got to know each other and taught one another things about themselves and about their worlds. The father of the young military man was not thrilled by his company but decided not to do anything about it because he was too proud at the moment to spoil his boy’s happiness. But he felt something had to be done in the long run.

 In the baths, the boy and the young military were side by side, holding hands and telling stories to the group that was around them. Everyone listened and laughed and sobbed in the right moments, asking questions and being curious in the most charming way possible. Of course, many of them were spies and others were poor trying to infiltrate the higher levels of society. But no one really cared because even there, with everyone naked in hot steamy water, people were still not fully themselves; they still hid some of their secrets and real feelings.

 No one would ever see any of those men do more with the boy than touching. That was all that was permitted in the bathhouse, by law. It was in their homes, their private dwellings, were every lie was shed and only the truth remained with all these gods that dressed like soldiers. And they did believe they were gods, or almost at least. They knew that they were better than others, smarter and much more valiant. They didn’t have the necessity to do anything else than be. That way people honored them everywhere they went and applauded their every thought, word or act, just because of they were. And their companions, boys or girls or women or other military men, were glad to be there to see it all.

 But not everyone was happy. In another pool, three military men cared only for the warm water and the food. They had no one tending to their needs or asking them to tell stories. That was because they had yelled away anyone who got close to them from the first day they had came back from the field. These men were a group that battled barbarians in the northern borders and had been together for many years. They knew each other from their first training and, although one could not see it, they were glad to be together and alive.

 However, there was no real happiness as many of their men had been killed by the savages. It has to be understood that in that group there was a head, a men with grey eyes called Decimus, but every decision was agreed on by every single member of the group. When they left the capital, they were seven men from the best families in the empire, ready to do what was needed to defend their land. But in the process of defending that land, four had died in the hands of the enemy. Their deaths had been atrocious and laid inside the brains of the three many that steam tried to relax.

 The women that brought the fruit often let some skin be seen by the men so they would initiate business with them. But the group of three man didn’t care at all about breasts or legs or anything else than their troubled memories. They weren’t seeking young boys like the others and had no mind to be thinking in romance or sexual pleasure. They just wanted to be left alone with their sore bodies and their ghosts, who were all there with them, reminding them of every single moment of the battle, again and again and again.

 They had refused real medical attention and also the presence of healers that would care for their wounds right there in the bathhouse. They just didn’t want to talk to anyone. They were voluntarily sinking in their own nightmares, feeling that they did not deserve a better luck that their friends that had died in battle. They felt that real justice by the Gods would have been to kill them all on the field, leaving all with the honor of having defended the empire and all that it stood for.

 Yet, they were soaking in a bathhouse, feeling the pain of something that would never happen. The pain was stronger because the bond between those seven men was too strong. It was friendship but it was also love that linked one to the other. Forever they would feel the presence of the others and the ominous feeling that something else should have happened and that their lives should have ended in a different way.


 The steam of the bathhouse had that peculiarity, of making everything possible and impossible at the same time.