After the raid on the North Korean outpost, I began to question myself even more. Did I even know who I was fighting for? Did the people making decisions - on either side - really know what they were doing? I tried my hardest to put those thoughts out of my head but... I just couldn't. The questions grew stronger, and they always stayed at the back of my mind.
The day the letter came, I was drowning in sorrow. I had been fighting already for.....how long? I'd lost track. All that existed to me anymore was the war, the fighting. Then, a letter from Amber arrived, reminding me that there were things left to live for. It was a small letter written on plain old, loose-leaf paper - nothing special. But it meant the world to me.
I hope this letter finds you well. All is normal here in Albany - or, at least, as normal as things can be when you live in an underground bunker. I've met a lot of interesting people here, and made many friends. Odd as it may sound, people here go on with life as normally as possible, even under these terrifying circumstances. I suppose these rituals help keep us sane, in a way. Listen to me, I'm droning on about things that probably don't even matter to you. I miss you so much, and I pray that you come back safely. As soon as you’re home, I’m going to make your favorite cake. I love you dearly, Nick Sullivan.
I felt tears stinging at my eyes, and I wiped them away before they could fall.
"It must be hard," I heard Churchmen say, "Being away from your family for so long. I know for a fact that you've served longer than Marcus or I. I can only imagine what it must feel like."
"I have no family," I said, "and I don't recall inviting you to discuss my personal life, Churchmen."
"Of course not, sir," she said, sounding hurt by my response.
It was then that I realized how dramatically I had changed. I would never have acted like this before the war. "I lost my parents in the raid onNew York," I said. "Just when we thought we were safe, an anti-tank round exploded outside the restaurant we were taking shelter in. It took off the front half of the restaurant. My parents got caught in the blast."
Churchmen looked stunned. "I'm sorry," she said after a moment.
"A lot of people say that," I responded. "After a while, those words cease to be comforting. The only person I have left back home," I said, "is my girlfriend, Amber. I was thinking about proposing when I go back home."
"That's a wonderful idea. I lost my boyfriend, Gabriel -" I could see she was close to losing it.
I changed the subject. "There's a Chinese base a few miles from here. Looks like it’s time for a little demolition. Grab your gear and report back here as soon as possible. Then, we’ll take off.”
I grabbed everything I might need for the job – my weapons, some explosive charges, and so on – and by the time I was done, the rest of the squad had reported to the rendezvous. We moved out and beat the crap out of the Chinese shortly thereafter.
I shot down the last enemy soldier myself, just as I got confirmation from the rest of the squad that the area was secure.