Personal Army – Unused chapter ‘Return To Earth’

Author Note – I originally had the gang actually fulfilling John’s mission to save his world, but the deeper I got into it, the more I felt his world was too awful to save. So this (not so great) section and a couple of others like it went into the archives.

The air in the cavern became disturbed, a strong wind blew from nowhere, scattering papers and grit, sending people scurrying for cover behind anything they could find. From the bent space that was forming emerged a hand, then more hands, then several sets of legs until standing there were eight very different people. Five had near identical features, but radically different postures and physiques. Of the remaining three, one was old, another female and the third, huge.

They all had a uniform look of bleariness however, cross-dimensional transport not being a regular life experience.

A technician cautiously approached, greeted the easily recognisable John and after a nod from him, held a hand scanner to everybody’s bracelet and administered a pinprick to their fingers for a tiny blood sample. John sagged where he stood and gratefully accepted some fortified water that another attendant was passing amongst the group in capped bottles. The Brute looked at his uncertainly till the writer assisted him, showing him how the pull up cap worked. One of the council arrived and spoke to the group as a whole.

“Welcome to our Earth, we will get you settled in soon, but first we would like to thank you profusely in helping our cause and… yes, what is it?”

John had raised his hand from where he slumped.

“With all due respect, piss off. I said I will look after them, so no speeches please. Just give them their shots or whatever and go away.”

For a careful few moments the Councilman looked to be angry, but did not gain his position through displays of misplaced anger. This world encouraged rational, military thought as a survival skill and experience spoke volumes. He bowed slightly to John.

“Very well. Please, all of you then. This world has too many viruses and other pathogens you may not be familiar with. Some of you may have immunity, but it is recommended you undergo therapy. This will make you very ill for a day or two, but we have set aside quarters for all of you, with various materials to familiarise yourselves with our situation. Follow, please.”

The group warily shuffled out the door, casting glances back at John who was till sat on the floor. He waved cheerily at them.

“Don’t any of you worry about nothing, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

The Brute was the last one to exit, his face set into the grimace only shared by dogs and orphans. Terri tugged at his sleeve for it seemed that he would stay with John whatever the cost. The tugging broke through his loyalty and he departed in a grey mood.

“Lads,” said John, lying flat on his back in the middle of the floor. “Treat them good or I’ll send you outside. is that clear?”

The technicians and other soldiers in the vicinity gulped a little and saluted the Colonel. somebody brought him some rations in the shape of a chunky, brown, chewy brick that was grown deep within the underground hydroponic bay.

Sean Heslin