Conscript

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
One soldier on a routine raid, or so he expects.

Submitted: December 19, 2011

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Submitted: December 19, 2011

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A dozen soldiers sat motionless inside a helicopter. The only sound was that of the thrumming of the helicopter’s rotors and engine. The soldiers lined the walls that would be the sides of the vehicle. Monotonous black armor encased each soldier from head to toe. Grey reflective faceplates hid their faces. Each clutched a black rifle in their armored grip.

 

The dim lights that lit the interior of the helicopter turned a dim orange. The soldiers all tensed in response. A few moments later, the back wall split vertically and slid out of the way to reveal a dark night. Almost instantly, the soldiers stood and quickly moved towards it. The first grabbed a hook hanging just inside the door and jumped out. Slowly a strand of rope spooled out of a hole. Shortly after he had passed out of sight, the next soldier followed him down. They joined soldiers that were coming down from other helicopters. After the soldiers hit the ground, they rushed to stand at attention in a line. Once in position they began to notice their surroundings. They were gathering in a plaza outside an apartment building. It had definitely seen better days, or years, or even decades. It was the archaic cement kind of structure, common in the worker sectors of the city. Once the last soldier left each helicopter, it quickly flew up and out of the area. Soon the soldiers were left alone with the eerie silence that pervades the city at night after curfew.

 

Inside each soldier’s head, a voice shattered the silence carrying the same message as it always had. “There is a rebel cell inside this apartment building. Nobody besides you and your fellow soldiers can leave this building alive. Move out.”

 

As soon as it finished, the soldiers charged towards the building. A pair stood guard outside but the majority entered. Once inside they charged up the staircase. On each floor, a few soldiers would leave the stairs and begin to search that floor. Each soldier searched alone. Suddenly the building was alive with the sound of the soldier’s rifles, and shouts of “clear” accompanied by the dying screams of the apartments’ inhabitants. In a few rooms, the inhabitants fought back, but other soldiers came to assist their ambushed comrade.

 

This killing frenzy continued uninterrupted until the completion of the orders. Without a word, the soldiers filed back out of the apartment. They stood at attention in formation until the helicopters returned. The helicopters hovered just inches above the ground as the soldiers returned to their dark bellies. The helicopters rose up and carried the soldiers back into the night they had come from.

 

*****

 

Kipe climbed into the waiting helicopter and took his seat next to another masked soldier like himself. He reviewed the information flashing across the inside of his faceplate. The map of the target zone was already familiar to him, but not because of his recent study of it. Even after all these years, he recognized his childhood home.

 

He had grown up in an orphanage across the street from the target building. At the time, it had been vacant. It was a more prosperous time and the poor hadn’t been driven to use the rundown concrete structures of desperation. After a years of a bloody war that still was raging, that all changed. Now the building, which Kipe had led many childhood expeditions into, had become a hive for rebels. The very war that had driven the rebels to hide among the poor is why he now sat preparing to eliminate them. His father was one of the first casualties. The rebels had launched a raid on the mine while his father was inside. He never came out alive.

 

The official story was that the rebels murdered his father. Nobody dared declare something shady went down, but there were always whispers. The bodies were covered up when the nation removed them from the mine. They stated the bodies were too mutilated to be seen publicly, but there were rumors that the bodies had laser burns from the nation’s soldier’s weapon. Whisper that the miners were rebels. Shortly after, there were whispers that the rebels had mutilated the corpses in a strange cannibalistic ritual. Soon the whispers grew exponentially more ridiculous. It had escalated to claims of the rebels committing a religious ritual to summon demons from a mythical land. Interest in this theory was soon dropped once it was discovered the ‘demons’ locals began to see wandering the city at night were merely a few teenagers with some cheap costumes and a bad sense of humor.

 

Kipe grew up in the orphanage listening to stories of his patriotic father who always wanted his son to become a military man. As he matured nobody doubted what Kipe would become, and here he sat being exactly that.

 

The dim light in front of him turned a dull orange and ripped him from his thoughts. He hopped up and joined his fellow soldiers as they descended to the apartment courtyard as they had done hundreds of times.

 

Kipe burst into his first assigned room. He found a young mother huddled over her toddler in the middle of the apartment. The mother had been running to hide her young daughter when he burst in. They stared at him with a desperate terror in their eyes yet there was a hint of resignation in their look.

 

“Just civilians again…” he muttered in frustration. This wasn’t the first time civilians had died in these raids, but military reports assured the public all casualties were indeed rebels. Kipe had learned to never believe the official story during his years as a soldier. He raised his rifle with the intent of following his orders completely, but he hesitated for a moment longer than usual. It was never easy to kill innocents to save his own life, but the mother’s face seemed too familiar to him. She had turned her daughter’s head away but she still stared at him with the same haunted look. The soldier lowered his gun as he studied her face. Again, he raised his gun to fire, and again he lowered it. A light above her flickered casting strange shadows across her face.

 

“Mads?” he asked her in disbelief.

 

“How do you know that name? I haven’t used it since I was a girl,” the mother asked. Curiosity and bewilderment replaced the terror and resignation in her face.

 

“It’s me. Kipe,” the soldier said as he removed his helmet to show his childhood friend his face as proof.

 

“I heard you became one of the nation’s ‘conscripts’,” she hissed in disgust.

 

“I didn’t want to… It’s what my dad wanted,” Kipe sighed with a faraway look in his eye as he thought once again about the father he never really knew.

 

“How do you know what your dad wanted? You never knew him. We both were orphans raised by a national institution,” she asked as she picked up her child and approached Kipe.

 

“It’s what the nation told me,” he said hearing how weak his defense was. He knew the nation was corrupt now, but hadn’t it been this bad before they had the war as justification.

 

“The same nation that murder civilians and claimed they were rebels?” she said with scorn clear in her voice.

 

With all the stories that had gone around, Kipe had his doubts, but, right then, hearing it from the closest friend he’d ever had, he knew for certain, "He was killed by the nation..."

 

“He wouldn’t want you to be this,” she affirmed, gesturing to his gun.

 

“You think I do? But we all have to do what we have to,” he said and put his helmet back on and raised his gun.

 

“Kipe… Don’t,” Mads begged as she turned to put her body between him and her daughter.

 

Kipe took aim and fired a pair of shots. He turned away from the pair of bullet holes in the wall just past Mads and her daughter. “Take care of yourself, Mads,” he said as he turned to leave.

 

“You too,” She replied as she began to comfort her young child, whom was visibly upset by the gunfire but was silent. Even toddlers knew when to hide here.

 

Kipe shouted the customary clear as he left the room and proceeded with the rest of his assigned route. Luckily, the rooms were all empty, as a majority of the rooms in these buildings were. Many were damaged in one way or another and unfit for use. Kipe filed out side to join the other soldiers and wait for the helicopters to return. He didn’t have to wait long. Soon they were back and the soldiers were boarding them. Kipe ran through the motions while pondering Mads story about his father. It didn’t take long for the helicopter to get airborne again. Once Kipe was secure in his seat, he removed a grenade from his equipment.

 

“What are you doing?” a soldier next to him asked sounding worried.

 

“Making my father proud for once,” Kipe calmly replied as he pulled the pin.

 


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