You ready for the second chapter of Tagged?
Before we dive into this story, a few housekeeping notes: this story features description of violence (not domestic violence). So if that’s a trigger for you, I suggest you proceed with caution.
Also, this is a story with MarineWard, and I suck at intensive research. So even though I have done my research on the US Marine Corps., I request you to bear with me because I’ll be taking a lot of liberties in this story. I assure you, none of it is meant to be disrespectful of any entities.
Most important of all, Shae, I hope you’re having fun. :*
Chapter-2: Land of Ruins
I don’t like it. I know I should be supportive of you, and I am. It’s just … I miss you, honey. I admire how brave you are, Edward. Every time I miss you and want to get mad at you for leaving, I remember the reason why you left; and I end up loving you even more. I am so proud of you.
I love you, Edward. Always.
Something constricted in my heart, making me feel like I couldn’t breathe. I reread the last line of her email again.
I love you, Edward. Always.
Three months two weeks four days and seven hours. That’s how long has passed since I had received this email from my mom. It was right before I was being sent to this mission in one of the villages in the outskirts of Tikrit. I had to haul ass before I could respond to her. With the lack of secure connections, I hadn’t been able to reply to her since.
She must be worried sick, I thought, holding the now crumpled printout of her last email.
Maybe tomorrow we’ll get the word to return to base, I hoped like I did everyday.
The sound of heavy footfalls alerted me to a possible visitor. I hid the email printout inside the file in front of me and looked up in time to see a young man striding into the tent. His voice resonated strong as he greeted me. “Good morning, Staff Sergeant. I have a message for you from Sergeant Major Denali.”
I gave him a nod. “Good morning to you too, Private. What’s the message?”
“He has requested you to pay him a visit, sir.”
Immediately, I stood up. I didn’t question why I was being summoned because it was the United States Marine Corps. Here, you don’t ask questions; you simply follow orders. After thanking the young marine, I walked out of the tent I was sharing with two of my comrades and went to receive my orders.
Once I was in Sergeant Major Eleazar Denali’s office, I saw that I’m the only one there. He smiled at me when he greeted me, putting my nerves at ease. “Staff Sergeant, I have an additional responsibility to handout and I thought you’d be the perfect man for the job,” he said to me.
“Additional job, sir?” I asked, raising an eyebrow in silent curiosity.
“Yes,” he responded with a slight nod. “I know it will probably piss off Whitlock or McCarty to do this. So I’m giving this one to you.” He regarded me for a moment before continuing. “A photojournalist from the Seattle Times is coming in today to take pictures of the warzone. You’ll be in charge of their safety.”
My eyes widened as soon as his words registered in my mind. However, before I could voice my concerns, he held up a hand to stop me and said, “Babysitting a civilian sucks when you’re in a warzone, I know, but the American people needs to know what’s happening out here. So we’ll have to accommodate one person … for a week.”
“Seven days?” I repeated in shock. “That’s a long time to take a few snaps of the war, Sir.”
His mouth lifted at one side in a half smile and he nodded. “I told that to my superior. Want to know what he said the journalist told him when he asked the same question?”
“Perfection takes time,” he replied with a smile. “The photojournalist will be arriving at our campsite at thirteen hundred hours.”
Realizing that I was being dismissed, I took a step back and said, “I’ll take care of it, sir.”
I was almost at the door when he spoke again. “Oh, and Staff Sergeant? The journalist’s name is Isa.”
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See you Thursday.