Gallant

His right arm ached when he held the United Nations Armed Forces Gallant Star medal in his left hand. Of course, the ache was simply phantom limb syndrome, the flesh and blood and bone no longer connected to his shoulder. In its place was human prosthetic-grade metals and plastics to form an anchor for his UN Prosthetics ‘Stephenson’ Military Right Arm Replacement, currently disconnected from his body and resting in its cradle being recharged.

Every July 4th the same e-mail would arrive on his HUD, old comrades from the UNAF 1st Adders wishing him well and saying how sad it was that he couldn’t make another reunion. They knew the reason why, but they still always offered. To do otherwise would be impolite.

July 4th, 2086. UN Annexation of Rwanda Day. The 1st Adders had HALO dropped in to Kigali the previous evening, and by 19.21 hours the next day, the New Rwandan Republic President had agreed to become yet another nation under the direct supervision and control of the burgeoning United Nations. The 1st Adders operation was timed with military precision, taking down obstacle after defense that the NRRA had erected under the threat of annexation. It was the hand over that evening that would be burnt forever in Ameer’s mind, the scars and injuries still on his body.

A child bomber, rigged with a pressure release explosive vest, was sent into the UN Aid camp. Ameer was there at the time, noticed, and he did the only thing he could do. He talked to the child. His hand carefully closed over the young boy’s hand to help keep the release trigger held down while he called in the bomb squad. It was all in hand. Until another soldier blundered in. He reacted fast and unthinking to the threat, raising his rifle and shouting. The child flinched and stumbled back, eyes wide with fear at the sight of a fully armoured, exoframe-clad soldier pointing a massive rifle at him as he screamed.

Ameer’s legs twitched as he remembered pushing himself back, knowing it was too late. With his arm still outstretched, he flew back as the blast wave engulfed him. It was a curious feeling. Slow and feeling deathly cold even as light flashed instantly over him and a roaring fire swallowing his limb and clawing at his upper body.

They called him a hero, for spotting the bomb threat and clearing the aid camp around him while he waited for the bomb squad to arrive. Even in the face of the incident, they still found fit to award him that stupid metal star, augmented by the UN logo. Even as the doctors and prosthetic technicians patched him back up and drilled support struts into his body to handle his new augmentations, news reports hailed him as a hero. While his lung was removed and a brand new artificial one was added along with synthetic ribs, people held toasts in his honour.

Ameer clenched the medal in his fist until his palm ached, the pin digging into his skin and drawing blood. The medal stated he was a gallant hero. It drew a bitter laugh from him. Gallant heroes didn’t fail to save someone, extenuating circumstances or not.

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