Episode 75 - Revenge is a confession of pain

I was still pretty upset about Jill’s death. Resentment was seething within me. It was obvious to the others that I had changed quite a bit. With new information concerning Dr. Johnson’s whereabouts, I was truly tempted to go after him. But Redman was still injured and Dr. Walker, a key witness against Ivanov, shouldn’t be exposed to the dangers of a manhunt. Roy was also a factor: I couldn’t trust him just yet. Bottom line, I needed to get the remaining members of the PondPatrol Third Recon Fire Team out of the Mulberry Ridge. It was unlikely that Sgt. Palmer, Rodriguez and the Professor made it out of the region. We should’ve received troop reinforcements by now. Something had gone wrong, which made me even more concerned. I also needed to clean up a bit. If I was to act like a US Marine, I should look like one; I was still wearing the stingy jumpsuit stolen from a guard at the Laboratory. - Dr. Walker is getting you a new uniform. Is there anything else? - Malloy asked me. I was having a hard time getting my boots off. - Well, I think we should really figure out what we are doing here - I told Malloy. - What do you mean, Harris? - she asked me worried - Well, I want to stick to our original plan: fuel up the abandoned van and get out of the Ridge. But I’m concerned about Stg. Palmer. He should’ve reached the city already. It’s been two weeks! Besides Ivanov’s men are still out here. Ben could be with them… I don’t want to compromise everything we’ve done, but I’m not sure if leaving now is our best move. What do you think? - I asked Malloy apprehensively. She leaned over the metal barrels and scratched her head. Susan Walker had just arrived from the barracks with my clean clothes. She was wearing a MARPAT uniform as well. - Anyway, you were saying… - I asked Malloy to continue while I was getting undressed. - Well, we need to get Redman and Dr. Walker out of here. It’s important for the success of our mission - said Malloy. I nodded in agreement struggling to get the rest of the jumpsuit off. Malloy was certainly right. Even if we were to stay, Redman needed medical assistance. I asked Dr. Walker to get closer. - Do you think you could drive the van? - I asked Susan. She pondered for a second and replied yes. - Good. So here is my idea: We will split in to groups. Redman and Susan will escort Roy to the van and take care of the fuel problem. Malloy and I are going to pay a visit to the pond where…Has anyone seen my toiletry case? - I had lost my train of thought. - Right behind you! Please continue… - said Malloy. I reached behind me and grabbed the case. - Well, according to Roy, Ivanov is extracting the rest of his men out of here in two days. Dr. Johnson and Brian are still out on the loose and we have no idea where they took Ben. It would be a good opportunity to get some answers - I said, grabbing my shaving cream out the case. Malloy looked troubled. - You’re still thinking of revenge, aren’t you? - Malloy asked me irritated. By now I had my face covered in shaving cream; no matter how confident I spoke I still looked like clown. I tried to shave as fast as I could. - You are forgetting that Sgt. Palmer hasn’t contacted us yet. He could’ve been captured. I’m only suggesting that we should be sure of that before leaving him and the others behind. Besides, I’d like to know where Ben is - I told Malloy. I had finished shaving. Malloy gazed into the woods thinking. Dr. Walker handed me my new uniform and then cleaned the scabs on my left eye. - Redman and Susan will maintain their position by the van while you and I gather information at the pond. We will rendezvous with them by the logging road. We’ll bring radios. Does that sound reasonable? - I asked Malloy while putting my sniper gloves on. - Sure…I have one request though: Can you promise me not to act heroic? - said Malloy. I pulled my pants up and nodded. Redman made his way back to base camp. I gave him details of our new strategy, to which he complied without questioning. - Alright people, let’s get moving then…- I ordered. I finished getting dressed. I grabbed the camera and looked at it for a moment before putting it around my neck. Amazing how a small piece of equipment can be a huge part of this mission. While Redman and Malloy collected gasoline using the fuel cans, Dr. Walker hurried back to the barracks and collected some medical supplies which she stored in a leg-pack. In the mean time, I grabbed an old M79 Grenade Launcher out of the shed along with a few rounds. Malloy frowned at the gun and asked me: - What’s that for? - I checked the grenade launcher’s adjustable sight and replied: - Just in case… We have a long way home… - Malloy shook her head and went back to help Redman. While everyone was busy, I went down to the barracks to grab Roy. He had spent the day cuffed to one of the big tents. It broke my heart to see a long time friend treated that way, but for now it was the only way. After all he betrayed us. He didn’t say much, I didn’t either. Roy and I walked back to meet the others by the fuel tanks; finally we were as prepared as we would ever be. Redman had made arrangements to leave Mulberry Ridge at noon on Friday with, or without us. I sure hope I’m not late. I’m sick and tired of this place.

by Corporal John Harris, April 19, 2007