Scars of War

“I sit writing this in the pockmarked remains of a border town, our unit having rolled in to secure the area. I am Specialist Jacob Dalmers, a member of the United Nations Armed Forces, of the North American Regiment’s Engineering Corps. Our duties here are threefold:

  1. Sweep and secure the area, making buildings safe and disabling any IEDs or traps that may have been left.
  2. Restore utilities to the area, from water and power to sewage and communications.
  3. Aid the civilian population who have remained behind.

The first duty is very important. A year ago, I was on the receiving end of such an attack. Most of my body is now military-grade cybernetics. A rough estimate would be 80%. Organs have been replaced with cybernetic components to power and work the prosthetics that make up my limbs. I had some augmentations beforehand, military standard comm units and vision augmentation. This is far beyond that.

Removing these threats means the rest of our operation can proceed smoothly, with minimal risk of injury. And the threats are not always due to traps. Unstable buildings are common thanks to artillery and rockets, and we have tools to buttress them or bring them down if they are too hazardous.

The second duty only takes place after the first. We have supplies to last us while we work on repairing the destruction brought here thanks to the war between the UNAF forces, and the insurgent Cartel organizations. The Annexation Wars that ended in the 2080’s were supposed to be the last major conflict. As a soldier, I can say there will likely be more after this. As a person, I am sad to feel that way.

The people in this region have had to endure much in the course of this conflict from both sides. War damages everyone. And the populace do not have the benefit of exoframes to enhance their strength to clear the rubble. They lack the armour plating to protect themselves or their livelihoods from damage caused by both sides of this battle. They do not have the benefit of carefully planned logistics to keep them supplied with essentials.

And that is what the last duty is about. The first two points help the people, but we must do what we can to aid them and to gain their trust. We cannot presume to ride in the victors to praise and adulation. There is only one way to earn their respect and prove that we are here for the right reasons…”

The journal he had been writing disappeared from his vision as he approached the rubble of a small housing complex. Saved to memory, Specialist Dalmers had more important things to do than write for his memoirs. With his mechanical limbs, his body armour and the corps exoframe he wore to aid him in his duty, he towered a head or two above most of the men left in the region.

The people digging through the remains of the building looked warily at him as he approached. With his armaments secured in their holsters, he raised his hands up. One of them, an older looking woman, said something to him in Mexican. After a moment, the translation of what she said appeared in-vision, suspended above her in a speech bubble.

[We’re looking for our belongings. We aren’t looking for trouble.]

Nodding, Jacob joined them and sunk down to his knees to begin lifting chunks of debris up, his arms and exoframe easily hefting the rubble to the wheelbarrows they had set up to aid in clearing the site. With wary eyes still on him, he pulled up his translation program to compose a sentence.

[I am not looking for trouble either. May I continue to help?] He selected, and then watched as the program finished the translation. Reading off the words, the civilians seemed to consider this for a moment before nodding. With a slight bow of his head he got back to digging with armoured hands well suited to the job. It would take a lot of work and time to heal the scars of the Annexation Wars, let alone this conflict.

Author’s Note: This week’s Three Word Wednesday words are: Destruction, Endure, Trust. This is a Tranquil Law setting story, dealing with one of the secondary characters in his former profession.

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