Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Flash: War Medals

Luke pulled the box out from under his bed. He kept everything he had from his dad in the small, black trunk. Around his neck was a chain with the key on it. The key opened the lock with a click the resounded through the room. Luke opened the truck with all the solemness reserved for prayers and funerals.

At the top were photos, every one that Luke could scrounge up. He had gone to relatives and his father’s friends. They painted the story of Lieutenant Brandon Young from his childhood on a Florida farm to his career in the army. Luke knew a story to go with each photo. The one he kept on top was the most important, a picture of his father and mother together. It was the last picture taken of his father, before the Incursion War.

The Incursion has arrived eleven years ago. No one knew for sure why they came or what they wanted. His teachers taught the theory that they had arrived from a dying world and wanted to colonize ours. To that end they invaded the earth and started a campaign of extermination. Most of Earth’s armies were wiped out in the first week.

Under the photo albums was a tray of miscellaneous items. There was a pocket knife and some unit patches. There were little souvenirs and coins his father had collected. Coins from countries that did not even exist any more. His father had traveled around the world during his time in the army prior to the Incursion War. He had fought in Afghanistan and Pakistan. After becoming an Army Ranger he had missions in both the South China Sea and the Middle East.

In the final level rested the most important mementos of all, his father’s metals. Brandon Young had been a very decorated indeed. There was a Purple Heart with five oak clusters, the last posthumous. There were two Medals of Honor. Luke’s father had been the first double recipient in over a century. There were medals for various acts and battles, among them the awards for the fight against the Incursion. Shining most brilliant among those was the Medal of Global Sacrifice. It was awarded to all of the men and women that had died as part of the last ditch assault on the alien forces.

In school they said that if the invasion had come twenty years earlier the world would not have been ready for the invaders. Even then, many said it was fortunate circumstances. Luke, and other children whose parents had died fighting the invasion did not care for that assessment, feeling like it diminished the sacrifice their families had made. The facts remained though, that it was a desperate fight.

The aliens had far more advanced technology. Shields protected their ships from conventional and nuclear assault. They had terrible energy weapons that could wipe out tanks and aircraft with ease. They did not have to fight themselves either. Instead they sent robotic ships to attack human bases. They wiped out major population centers in the blink of an eye.

The key weakness was found when someone made realized that the shields were not always active. They were only used for defense against major attacks such as nuclear strikes. Some researchers believed that the aliens had used up their energy reserves on the journey to earth and lacked the capacity to use them without imminent need. A plan was formed to attack the control ships. A small aerial attack was launched against the hive ships. It was not enough for the Incursion forces to raise their shields. Instead, they just shot the planes and helicopters out of the sky. The human forces did not bother shooting back, instead they headed for the ships on a crash course. It was too late for the ships to raise their shields. The modified aircraft half crashed, half landed on the ships to deposit elite teams. Luke’s father had been one of the team leaders.

The details of what happened inside were sparse. There were very few survivors of the World Wide Offensive. What was known came from the few first hand accounts, transmissions inside the hive ships, and studies done after the war. Luke knew that his father had led his team of rangers into the core of a ship and that they had been pinned down. Whatever happened after that, they overcame it and destroyed the core of the ship, bringing it down. What happened was a mystery to most, but in his minds eye, Luke could see it all clearly.

Lieutenant Young fired at the aliens, tearing them apart with a hail of bullets. He dashed from one piece of cover to the next, working his way through the corridors. His men followed after him, inspired by their brave commander. They forced their way to the engine chamber with a deadly force close on their tales. They were cut off and outnumbered. Young watched as his men fell in the hopeless struggle. He took out the picture of his wife and young son that he kept in his breast pocket to give him courage. Grabbing a bag of explosives he charged through the alien weapons fire and leapt over the railing to the reactor bellow. With a victorious yell he activated the bomb and destroyed the ships core.

Thinking about his father’s sacrifice and looking at his medals always filled Luke with courage. He closed the box, and put away his sacred treasures then hid the key behind his shirt again. The eleven year old boy that was the son of a hero marched down stairs and out the door. There was a bully down the street that had been picking on him and all the other kids. He was big and frightening, but Luke would be like his father and stand up to the menace. He held his head up with pride and courage as he walked down the street to face his enemy.