Unless you’re an elf, probably just stick to calling me “Meira”. I picked up the nickname in my old unit, it literally translates to “the shadow”. Hey, I never said they were creative. Most people figure elves are loathe to get to the point, but soldiers are always spot on. Anyway, it was my job to figure out the lay of the land, open doors, that sort of thing. Get the squad in, you know? Well it turns out that promoting someone to their level of incompetence happens in the military too. I was so good at doing things that weren’t related to commanding a squad that I got put in charge of commanding a squad.
It went well for a while – I knew what it was like to follow orders, so I knew how to not give bad orders. Problem is, when you’re used to operating like I do, and things don’t go according to plan, it gets really bad. I’m used to setting up a situation where my squad can run in and mop up in a matter of seconds. By the time the bad guys realize what’s happening, it’s too late. Well, I got spotted on one op. Big deal, right? It’s not a solo mission. I retreated, got shot in the process, and dragged my skinny ass back to my squad, screaming and sweating like… well, like someone who just got shot, I guess. It really freaked my squad out – the CO doesn’t get to lose their cool. One of them gave me an emergency dose of kamakaze so I could hold it together until we got back to base at least.
Damn if that high wasn’t good. It didn’t last long, but when firefights are measured in seconds, half an hour might as well be an eternity. I started using before every mission, and it made me better at my work. But my squad was starting to act funny. They didn’t look me in the eye as often, and conversations stopped when I walked in. As long as they followed orders, their personal hangups weren’t any of my business. I should have noticed it was going to hell, but I guess I was too busy expecting people to be professional.
My last mission was a complete failure on my part. I failed spectacularly as a leader, and the rest of them finished without me anyway. Shows how useful I am. I took a hit straight to the head and told them to go in. One guy, big bastard by the name of Karyth, finally called me on it.
“That’s a bad call, commander. You need to stop shoving that shit up your nose and focus on the mission.”
“I don’t remember giving you permission to speak freely! You’ll do as you’re ordered and you’ll stop questioning my judgement! This is a tailored combat drug, not some nasty street soap brewed in a cracked coffee pot!”
I was seething, and jittery, and probably talking too loudly, given our position. He stood up, grabbed me by the front of my body armor, and punched me square in the eye. To add insult to injury, the back of my head hit the wall, though that might have just been adding injury to more injury. I guess I didn’t react fast enough since I was expecting my squad to be loyal, but he caught me completely off guard and knocked me flat. They dragged me off into a corner and let me stare at my feet while I tried to deal with the concussion. When I came down from the high, I was out like a light. Woke up in a hospital, and was promptly discharged for my substance abuse.
Karyth said he was just trying to keep me from sinking any further. In his weird, screwed up way, he’s still loyal. Well, it’s something I guess. Better to have someone who has your back than not, right? He thinks I’m clean now, and I want him to keep thinking that, mostly because he hits like a truck.
So what’s a gal with a few years of military experience, no job, and a handful of pills to do?