I panicked. It took three Rangers to hold me down and calm me. I knew Shieta was in grave danger. I didn’t want anything to happen to her. It took me a little time before I realized I couldn’t do anything. The Special Units department was already on scene. The others had already gone to make sure nothing else would happen. Ash was back but not up to fighting, even though he and I wanted to fight the most. He stayed with me at the station and consoled me.
“It’s best that you stay here.” He said.
“But then I can’t do anything. I have to go and help her!” I yelled.
He slapped me across the face. “Listen! By you going in there and getting killed you will have done nothing except making her lose you and possibly get some of the other hostages killed! You will not do anything else except help with setting up a perimeter.”
It hit hard that I couldn’t do anything else. “Aye sir.”
“Listen, just do your job. You see her?”
I looked at the hologram. “Yeah.”
“See how she’s being strong? Not crying like some of the others? She’s keeping her cool. Be like her. Keep your cool.”
I nodded. “Aye sir.”
Ash and I got into our patrol vehicle. We drove to the site. I reported immediately to my commanding Ranger. He greeted me and told me to help hold the perimeter. I got to it. Ash was with me. It must have been big. I have never seen a situation this bad. The reporters haven’t shown up yet. That was something odd. About twenty minutes had passed. Special Forces Units were set up with our Special Units teams. It must have been something very big if they had the military involved in this. Then the reporters showed up.
Everything started to become hell from there. If there is one thing that hadn’t changed, it was the attitude reporters gave. New Law kept the First Amendment from the old United States Constitution. Despite the fact that the First Amendment was one of the reasons the United States fell, it was one of the rights given to people in the New Law. It was working well however, due to the other laws that made a set boundary on how far freedom of speech was allowed. Reporters were always using that right as an excuse to go through whatever they wanted.
It had been a good hour or so and the terrorists hadn’t made any demands or spoken yet. I had an image flash into my mind. The building exploded and a fiery hell consumed everyone inside the building. The Commercial Center was about the size of four city blocks. The entire Center went down in the image. Then it hit me, I knew why the terrorists hadn’t made any demands. They were waiting for the publicity to kill the hostages. And then it happened, my premonition became a reality.
I saw the fire blast the windows. Glass sprayed everywhere. I felt the air rush into me and knock me back. I could feel my ears pop and some blood trickle down my nose. Then I passed out.
I didn’t know what happened. When I woke up I was in a white room. There was another person with me, it wasn’t Ash. I got up and a person dressed in a white uniform came in, it was human. He tried to get me back into bed. I insisted I was fine and began to ask what happened to the hostages and where I was. He became silent. I asked again and he just shook his head. I realized what happened and passed out. When I came to again I saw Ash in the one corner of the room sitting down. He noticed I was awake.
“Hey, you’re up.” He said.
He became silent.
“What happened?” I asked again.
“They’re… dead.” He said with a slight tremor in his voice.
“No… no no NO!”
“I’m sorry.” He said, a tear forming.
“No. I got the ring. I was gonna propose and… and now…” I was crying on his chest now. He put his arm around me.
“I’m so sorry.”
I kept crying. Nothing would be the same. I felt two emotions now, pain and hate. Shieta had always warned me against hate, now she wasn’t there and it was all I could feel beside this pain in my heart. I cried for at least a half-hour. Ash just stayed there, patting me on the back trying to comfort me.
“I’m going to be right outside. If you need anything, just come and ask me. You want your uniform?”
I looked at myself, I was wearing a hospital robe. “Yeah. I’m good enough to get out.”
He brought me my uniform and let me change in privacy. I got out and went to the main desk where Ash checked me out of the hospital. He took me home.
“If you need anything, call me.” He told me.
“Yeah.” I said, blankly.
“Hey, don’t do anything drastic.”
I spent the entire night alone in Shieta’s room. I stayed like that all night, sitting up on her bed. I felt the soft silk sheets I had gotten her. They felt soft, smooth, and reminder me of her. I started to cry again. When I stopped I looked outside and saw the sun rising. I went to my room and cried myself to sleep.
I dreamt she was in my arms. She had on the traditional Loupian wedding garb. She looked more beautiful than anyone else ever did. She came to me and kissed me. A gentle wind blew across the open field we were in. All our friends were there. Even Jake had gotten out of prison and made it to the wedding. I hadn’t heard from Jake in a while. I introduced her to him and we caught up on old times. Then, it ended. I woke up and began to cry again.
I thought about what Ash had said to me. Not to cry, to be strong like Shieta was before those Chattan bastards killed her. Then I stopped and regained myself. I thought about what I should do now. I began to gather her stuff up and put them in cases when I heard a knock on the door. I opened the door and it was Ash.
“Hey, I see you didn’t kill yourself.” He said, with a slight joking tone.
“No, I knew Shieta wouldn’t have wanted that.”
“You took me advice. Sorta.” He touched the spots on my face where the tears had run.
“Yeah. Just don’t go telling the entire department.”
“I know. Hey, what are you doing now anyway.” He said, looking at the cases.
“I’m going to give Shieta’s things to her best friend.”
“What are you going to do now?”
“I’m going to join up. Help fight the Chattans.”
“You sure about this?”
“Listen, they’re not all bad. Just be careful about what you do.”
We talked for a while. I had made my mind up and I was going to enlist and fight. He knew he couldn’t change my decision so he just gave me advice on how to survive Basics. Basics was like Hell Week of BUD/S (SEAL Training). There were still Navy SEALs. I just didn’t want to be one of them. Ash suggested the Force Marines. They were like the older Force Reconnaissance Marines of the 20th century. I would probably take Ash’s advice. I would have to see about it. I knew I would either try to become a Force Marine or SEAL. I didn’t want to become a regular grunt, they got killed too easily and it would be a waste of my fighting skill. At least that’s what Ash said. We talked about it some more as we packed up Shieta’s belongings. I never noticed how empty the house was before. Now I knew. Ash looked at me and knew what I was feeling.
“Hey, I’ll tell the guys that you need a little rest. Just make sure not to do anything crazy.”
“Yeah. I won’t.”
“Hey, you might want this.” He tossed me a picture of Shieta. I was holding her in my arms and she kissing me.
“Yeah.” I managed to say.
“Hey, remember the good times man. The station is holding a memorial service for those who died. It’ll be a week and a half from now. Make it there.”
“Aye. I won’t miss it.”
I took the things over to Shieta’s best friend, Evereen. She was named after one of the legendary immortal Loupians. She welcomed me with open arms, saying how sorry she was. She helped me bring in Shieta’s things and then went through some of it.
“You want me to have all her things?” She asked.
“Yeah, for safekeeping. I’m going to be gone for a while. I want you to keep ‘em safe until I come back.”
“What do you mean, ‘gone for a while’?”
“I’m gonna join up.”
“What!? You’re going to become a soldier!?”
She became silent for a little. She went through a case with some pictures and other breakables and saw a picture of us, Shieta and I. I saw her beginning to cry.
“You two were so happy together” She said.
“Yeah.” I took out the box with the ring in it and put it in the case.
Evereen looked at it and opened it.
“Oh… Oh no… I’m so sorry…” She began to say and then started to cry.
I rested her on my shoulder and tried to console her but began to cry myself.
“There’s a memorial service a week and a half from now. Ash said it’s on the 20th.” I said.
“I’ll be there.” She managed to say.
“Keep things safe for me.”
The memorial service took place nicely. All the Rangers and military personnel who were going to rescue the hostages attended. There was a brief speech and 21-gun salute. The service ended with a marker with the names of those who died engraved was set on a plot of land separate at the graveyard. The bodies now were cremated and buried or scattered. There was no room left for entire bodies to be buried. Shieta’s was one of the first three on the list. There was a photographer there and took pictures of the events. I felt some hate toward him but knew that there was nothing he did to really cause the death of all those people, 30 dead. He took a picture of me, a tear coming down the side of my face. I had done more crying in the past two weeks than I had done my entire life. As soon as the service was done I went to the marker.
“I know I should have said something sooner. I bought the ring and had started to make arrangements for our wedding. I knew I should have asked sooner. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for being late on all those nights. I’m sorry I didn’t do a better job at being there for you. I was so busy trying to make it safe for others I didn’t remember to make it safe for you. I’m sorry. I know you spoke against me joining the military, so please, forgive me for joining. I’m sorry…” I began to cry yet again. This time, it was only a few tears. Ash put his hand on my shoulder.
“You did a good job at protecting her. She never had to suffer any pain since you got out and stayed with her, man. You loved her more than anyone else ever could. Even when you missed a few dates, she knew that you were out helping some kid live another day. You would have made a great husband.”
I just looked at him He was right. He knew I had some more grieving to do, and that would come and finish in due time. He knew how it was. And he knew I had to go and fight. I will come back to get Shieta’s things from Evereen someday. Evereen was next to Ash. She looked at me with some understanding. We each paid our respects and left. We were the last ones to leave. I would soon be starting a new life. I would be finding the part of me I lost when Shieta died.