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Research and Reconnaissance
It has been six years since this war started. Experts say it’s a war far worse than the Vietnam War, World War II and World War I combined in terms of casualties. Twenty-five million United States soldiers alone died in this war. Far more civilian casualties; some say that number is nearing sixty million. My group has rightly named it World War III. If any war will end all other wars, it's this one.
I work in the Rescue and Reconnaissance team, a U.S. Special Forces group. My squadmates are Carly “Banoi,” affectionately known as the Blond Devil. Banoi is one of the best infiltrators I've seen in action. She has fought by my side for years. Carly now hides her face behind a mask for a reason she won't disclose.
There's Crow, a famed demolitionist throughout the military. His official file is locked to everyone.
Franklin “Tech” Biscuit is the electronics expert. I've personally seen him hack his way through a secured computer in about a half an hour and rewire electronic locks in less than thirty seconds. He tried to hack the CIA’s database and was subsequently caught. The government gave him the option to work for them or go to federal prison. Luckily, he chose to work for them.
Teresa “Spider” Johnson, the scout, can find a hiding place nearly anywhere. Hailing from Hawaii, this mission means she's not just fighting for the States; she's fighting for her home.
Adam “Mozart” Schneider is the designated marksman. Reports estimate he can hit a target from 500 meters with near pinpoint accuracy; anything closer is “too easy,” according to Mozart.
Last, there’s me. I’m Edwin “Singer” White, the squad’s leader and medic; I've been leading ghost squads for four years. Our mission is to locate the site of a piece of heavy ordnance at a storage site in Pearl Harbor, Oahu. We'll land in Moloka’i, cross the ocean to Oahu, and traverse through twenty miles of the bombed, urban landscape of Honolulu. (Page 1-3, Singer’s Journal)
“Well, boys, welcome to Moloka’i. You'll be dropped off near the coast of Maunaloa. There, you'll find a sailboat. It's twenty miles across open water to Oahu; this is as close as we can get before we show up on the Eastern Coalition’s radar.
After you land on Oahu, you have to make your way to Pearl Harbor. Quickest way is through Honolulu. Once at the harbor, look for the supply depot. You’ll find your objective there,” the pilot informed us through the helicopter headsets.
“Alright, last stop before there's no turning back. Last chance to go back home,” I said to my squadmates. “It’s my home. I'd rather die there than some other god-forsaken country,” Spider said. “I've fought every mission with you. That's not going to change now,” Banoi responded. The rest just gave a shrug of their shoulders. We arrived at the landing zone and loaded our gear in the boat. Then, we kicked off the shore and began to cross the channel.
The water was calm and crystal clear. “I’ve spent years near these waters and they've never been this clear,” Spider mumbled. As we neared the shore, I was met with the most wretched smell of rotting fish. “I think I know where all the fish are,” I said in between gags. “And this is one reason why I wear a mask,” Banoi said. The boat hit land. “I don't recommend standing here, let's move,” I ordered.
We entered the Honolulu, rightly nicknamed the City of Rubble. Few buildings were left standing, streets were covered in bricks, rebarred concrete, and pockmarked with bomb craters. We’ve seen two squads of Chinese soldiers. One of the squads decided to get curious; we put them down. (Page 4, Singer’s Journal)
“There's rubble blocking the road, Singer,” Crow pointed out. “I do have eyes, but thank you, Crow,” I retorted. “So, we can either go around or go over,” Banoi said. “We don't have ropes, but I can climb over. I doubt anyone will be able to follow me,” Spider said, starting to climb over the rubble. “See you guys on the other side,” she finished. “I saw an alley through some buildings a few streets back. Let's move,” I said.
Bang bang bang. “Were those gunshots?!” Tech said, alarmed. “Yeah, someone also returned fire,” Banoi mentioned. “S***. Teresa!” Mozart panicked, rifle at the ready as he took off down the street. “He’s rather hot headed,” Crow murmured. “Move, before he gets himself killed,” I commanded.
When the four of us rounded that corner, we saw what we all feared. Spider slumped against the rubble, her eyes full of tears, her breath raspy, and the blood puddle under her growing ever larger. (Page 4, Singer’s Journal)
“If I'm to die today, then I'm happy it’s in my home,” Spider whispered before her breathing shuddered and fell silent. “At least her dying wish was granted,” Banoi muttered. “Where the hell is Moz? We should find him before he does something rash again,” Crow said. “I’m over here,” Mozart yelled from across the street. “She killed them all,” he added. “Tech, grab her dog tags and put a beacon on her. We'll get her when we return. We'll bury her on the beach,” I ordered. “Yes sir,” Tech responded.
She managed to eliminate the entire squad of hostiles before succumbing to her injuries. Ten soldiers met their fate at the end of a barrel in that intersection and one heroine. (Page 4-5, Singer’s Journal)
Day turned into dusk which turned into night. We took refuge for the night inside of an upright building. It seemed stable, but we'll stay close to the entrance just in case.
At the end of the day, we made it halfway to our objective with roughly ten more miles to trek. With the death of Spider, we are going to have to be more careful when nearing corners and other obstacles we can't see past. (Page 5-6 of Singer’s Journal)
The night was uneventful. I am surprised that I was capable of sleeping through the night given the events of yesterday. Eating cold MRE’s really causes one to think about their surroundings; the sunrise was serene. I started to notice all the wildlife that’s usually unnoticeable during the day. The birds flying through the sky as if there isn't a war going on, the rabbit poking its head out of its burrow. Lucky creatures they are. (Page 7, Singer’s Journal)
“Good morning,” Banoi said groggily, sitting up and stretching her arms. “What time is it?” Tech asked. “Dawn,” I muttered. “That's not a time,” Tech responded. “It’s about six in the morning,” Crow replied. “How?” Banoi questioned. “Position of the Sun,” Crow answered. “You’re an oddity,” Banoi muttered. “I know,” Crow said kicking Mozart to wake him up. “Ack. What?” Mozart sputtered. “We need to start moving soon. Get up, eat, and stretch,” I answered. “Ergh. Fine,” Mozart groaned. “City folk,” Crow mumbled, shaking his head.
We once again started towards our objective. Once more through the sorrow filled streets. Once more jumping at an unknown sound. “I didn't realize they used armor,” Banoi said, looking at a rusted-to-disuse tank. “Chinese light tank NORINCO VT-30. Cheap to build. Not as safe and don’t have as much firepower as main battle tanks, but they still pack a punch for their mobility,” Tech informed. “I think that's the most I've ever heard you say, Techie,” Banoi joked. “I'm not much of a talker unless it comes to technology or vehicles used in warfare,” Tech replied honestly. “Like tanks?” Banoi asked. “Like tanks,” Tech confirmed. “You're an oddity,” Banoi said. “Banoi, you're no different,” I smirked. “I know. I'm friends with you,” she replied. Mozart was standing behind them all, looking gloomy and kept his finger posed near the trigger of his rifle at all times.
We continued on towards the supply depot on the harbor. We encountered no soldiers this day, only more light tanks and other lightly armored vehicles. There was also a family of Small Asian Mongooses. They peeked their heads out of a hole in the ground and stared at us as we passed. There was also a Chiral Deer that walked across our path, but didn’t panic and sprint away. (Page 7-8, Singer’s Journal)
“And we have arrived,” I announced. “Looks like the containers have electronic locks. Want to break in Tech?” Crow asked, amused. “I'll go scout ahead. Tell me if you find anything good,” Banoi said, activating her armor cloak and rendering her invisible except for a slight shimmer. Tech walked up to the container and started fiddling with the keypad. Click. “Wow, that was fast,” Crow said as he opened the container. “My god,” Tech muttered. “Is this what they wanted us to find?” he finished. “No, these are just artillery missiles. We are looking for something larger,” I said. “What does it look like again?” Crow asked. “A control room. It'll have a control console in the center and screens on the walls,” I replied. “So it wouldn't been in a shipping container?” Crow asked. “No, it would be a building somewhere in this metal jungle,” I answered. “I’m going to keep unlocking these,” Tech said as he unlocked another container. “Whoa, high explosive tank rounds. Why are these just sitting here?” he asked. “Hawaii was overtaken by the enemy,” Crow sassed. Crow placed a black square between the two containers. “What's that?” Mozart asked, readying his rifle. “A beacon. Now put your gun down, it's not a toy,” Crow said. “Put it down Mozart,” I commanded sternly. He lowered his gun, finger still on the trigger. “I found the building,” Banoi said over comms.
The four of us made our way to Banoi’s coordinates. Along the way, we found military grade backpacks, extra ammunition, a tranquilizer rifle, and portable tents among the shipping containers. She did find the building. It had brick walls on the outside and cool, white drywall walls on the inside. She gladly took a backpack and extra ammo from us. Banoi, Crow, Tech, and I explored the building. Then, Mozart said he'd watch the entrance while we called Command. (Page 8, Singer’s Journal)
“Command, this is R&R lead Callsign Singer. We found the target building. What exactly are we looking for? Over,” I asked over our long range communications. “Singer, this is Command. You need to look for room 203. It'll be on the second floor. Over,” Command responded. “Solid copy. Over and out,” I replied. “Has anyone checked room 203?” I asked, addressing the squad. “I did, but there was a terrible smell, so I continued on,” Crow informed. “That doesn't sound welcoming,” Banoi muttered. “Let's go check it out,” I said.
“It's a conventional lock, I can't break through this,” Tech said. “Anyone know how to pick lock?” Crow asked. “Are you guys really that technologically dependent?” I queried, kicking the door and busting the lock. Crow and Tech stood in silence, slowly realizing how foolish they were. Banoi just let out a chuckle.
After we opened the door, there was a few seconds of reprieve before the smell of death hit us. All but Banoi gagged. We slowly entered the room, I was trying not to puke. The room was dark, there were no windows and no lights except a dim, blinking red light. We made our way to the screen, while Crow tried to find the lights. (Page 9, Singer’s Journal)
Flick. The lights came on. We saw what smelled of death. It was a female body with blonde hair and it was halfway decomposed. Banoi dropped to her knees when she saw the body. “No no no,” she panicked, falling to her knees before crawling to the body. She rolled the body over and looked at the dog tags. “Banoi, do you know this person?” I asked. “Yes. She was my sister,” she responded. “Your sister?” Crow question. “Did I stutter?” Banoi snapped back. “Uh, guys. This console… is for a weapon of mass destruction. A giant laser,” Tech said over Banoi’s sobs. “It's set on Changqing. China’s third largest city by population. Why are we attacking civilian populations?!” Tech questioned. “It's called total war. You're too green to understand,” Mozart snapped. “Now, call command or I will,” he ordered raising his gun. “Why the sudden hostilities Mozart?” Crow asked calmly, raising his arms in a surrender. “I know none of you are going to call command. You won't kill civilians, you're weak!” Mozart exclaimed. “You're right, we won't kill anymore innocents. Shame you aren't one,” Banoi said as she raised her rifle and shot Mozart. The bullet hit in the center of his forehead and caused his head to jerk back, making him fall to the ground.
“Well, that was a little rash, don't you think?” Crow questioned. “Better his brain than yours, Crow,” Banoi stated. Tech grew pale. “Are you alright Tech?” I asked. “You just… she just… he's dead,” Tech stuttered. “Would you have killed the millions of civilians for the sake of war?” Banoi asked. “Don't interrogate him. If he was going to do something he already would have,” I ordered. “Anyway, welcome to war. Where civilians die and the victors are the good guys,” Crow said with a smile. Crow placed a black square on each wall of the room. “We should probably move far away from here or we'll be everywhere,” Crow informed.
We walked out of the depot, placing the explosives on every few containers. Crow had Banoi place high-explosive tank rounds around the depot and a black explosive near them. Once, we finished placing the explosives, I informed command that we found the objective before I disconnected my communications. The supply depot and laser controls stood no chance against the massive explosives. After the dust settled, there was a crater where the supply depot once was. The body we found was Banoi’s sister, Leara. She had papers detailing the control system for the laser, which Banoi took and burned. We returned to where we left Spider. Everything was as we left it; we took her to the beach and buried her there. Banoi even took off her mask in respect. She has a scar running from her forehead, through her left eye, and to her chin. Tech said it was kind of cute and got punched in the chest for it. Though she did sit quite a bit closer to him when we returned to our camp. Anyway, our mission is complete. (Page 9-11, Singer’s Journal)
“I have two in my sight, both American soldiers. Take them out?” Banoi asked. “No, they’re unarmed. The war must be over,” I stated. “I've checked the news and various military communications and it seems like we've been pardoned,” Tech informed. “Then let's go meet our saviors,” Crow said with sarcasm. We all shared a laugh.