Authors: Eric McMeins
THE INHERITED WAR
By Eric McMeins
I would like to thank a few people for helping me with my first book. First I would like to thank my
mom, Mary Lou, Brother Will and my Aunt Linda for reading and editing my book. Without them there would have been no way for me to make the corrections and adjustments to make this work readable. My cousin Jeff, for helping me through some of the plot and figuring out how some of the Tech was going to work. My other cousin Scott and my friend Eric for reading and telling me how much they enjoyed it. For my wife and kids who gave up time spent with Dad so I could write. The support of my wife was invaluable and her encouragement to write kept me going. I would also like to thank cousin Amy for the wonderful cover she made for my book.
This work is dedicated to, above all, my
wife, Stacy. And also my father, James, who gave me my first Sci-Fi novel to read, watched old reruns of Star Trek with me and in general made me love all things Science Fiction. You are missed every day Dad.
“It [revenge] is sweeter far than flowing honey.” Homer
“If it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge.” Shakespeare
The steady drone of the C130’s engines had a white noise
effect and was putting the private to sleep. Private First Class Cole Smith was currently reclined on a stack of rucksacks strapped tightly to the deck of the military aircraft. Unfortunately, he had been awake most of the twenty hour flight to the Middle East and was only now starting to doze off. As he drifted off, he reflected back on his troubled past and what he hoped was a bright future.
had no idea who his birth parents were or when his actual birthday was. He had been left, like so many other unfortunates, at a hospital with no record of his birth or parentage.
He elbowed the equipment behind him trying to shift
himself into a more comfortable position. He had spent his life bouncing from foster home to foster home and never quite fit in. There were a lot of couples who would have loved to adopt a healthy newborn baby boy, but none who wanted an underweight sickly one. That had been Cole. He spent the first ten years of his life fighting colds, flu and pneumonia.
That was only the beginning. At the age of five he had been living with a nice older couple that genuinely seemed to care for him despite his infirmities. Shortly after his fifth birthday
, the disappearances started. The first was just days after his birthday party, and he was gone for almost a week before being found wandering along a stretch of I-90 near the Snoqualmie Summit. He had been naked and alone with no memories of what had happened. He disappeared three more times that year and the old couple couldn’t take it any longer, so they gave him back up to the foster system.
The next six years saw him grow sicker and weaker with each turn of the clock. He moved from home to home never finding peace or acceptance, more often than not he got placed with people who only wanted the states money and couldn’t care less about the children. The disappearance
s continued throughout those years as well. The length of time varied but he always appeared near a major highway, naked with no memories. The foster parents always ended up blaming him.
His life took a turn for the worse after
a disappearance near his thirteenth birthday. He had been gone for a whole month that time and ended up in the hospital for almost two. He had slipped in and out of a coma and was even pronounced dead once, before miraculously coming back after two minutes with no heartbeat.
was released from the hospital into the care of his newest pair of foster parents. If hell had an address on Earth, it would have been those people’s house. He secretly called them “The Assholes.” Bobby, the dad, thought that the only thing kids like Cole needed, was some character. He must have beaten that idea into Cole a thousand times. Days without food were commonplace and nights locked in a tiny storage closet were the norm.
It changed nothing
. No matter how badly they beat him or how strong the locks were that they put on his room, he still disappeared at least two times a year. Things changed on his seventeenth birthday. Not that he ever got to celebrate his birthday, but he kept track of it in his mind anyway.
He did his normal disappearing act near the time of his birthday but was gone for only one day. This time was different, he came back naked and ignorant of what had happened
, but he felt stronger. The cold he had felt coming on was gone and he didn’t feel so tired or listless anymore. He could feel it; things had definitely taken a turn. He hoped for the better. After he recovered enough from the beating he got for being gone, he snuck out of his house and left for good. He took only what he could pack into his backpack and left for an abandoned building that he had heard some of the other kids stayed at, just outside of town. He didn’t plan on staying there forever, like some of them, he had a plan. He dropped out of school, got his GED, and was down at the Army Recruiters office the next day.
The rest was recent history. He had forged his foster parent’s signatures and had signed his life away to Uncle Sam. He wanted to be a part of something, something that would allow him to become more than he currently was. He looked forward to the three square meals a day, warm clothes and
the structure that the Military life was supposed to provide. He chose to join the infantry and opted for the college money that came with it. He knew it would be dangerous, but hell, his life could have ended anytime in the last seventeen years.
He boarded a plane to Ft. Benning
, Georgia two days later and never looked back. Compared to the others in his class, he was pretty weak and had little endurance, but by the end he was keeping up with all but the most physically fit of the class. After graduating from basic training and infantry training, he left Georgia for Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. The home of the 101
Screaming Eagles, one of the most famous units still active in the army. Also, one that had done some of the hardest fighting in the current war on terror.
Cole spent the next six months training with his new
, permanent unit. It was the first time he actually felt like he belonged to a family. It was here he picked up his love of firearms. They were the great equalizer, and he found he had a knack for using them effectively. He made friends for the first time and enjoyed the guys he worked with. That’s ultimately how he ended up here, forty thousand feet above sea level heading for the armpit of the world.
This was his
chance; he could make his mark here, and over the next year, maybe even earn a medal or two. He would love to go back and find “The Assholes" and shove a medal down their throats and stick a boot up their asses. He could build a legacy for any future children he may have. Give his kids a dad they could be proud of. With that thought on his mind, he finally drifted off to sleep.
WHAM! His Sgt’s open hand slapped the side of his K-Pot. “Wake up son, we are on approach.”
, Sergeant." Cole replied and shuffled over to the seats lining the sides of the cargo plane. Cole had been chosen, with twenty others, to ride guard on his battalion’s equipment in this plane. There were also some headquarters REMFs who were hitching a ride. There was one Sergeant, who sat in the back the whole time, he was a LRRP (Long Range Recon Patrol) team leader and was watching over the division LRRP equipment. He had the look of a combat veteran and, to be honest, he scared Cole a little.
Cole felt it as the prop driven plane started its sharp decent towards the desert below. The supposedly great thing about C130’s, was that they could land on a short landing strip. Cole had done it once before and had almost thrown up. This was going to be
worse; he could feel it, not to mention there might be enemy down there shooting at them.
Cole’s face is starting to match his BDUs.” Cole flipped off Spec 4 West. “Don’t worry Smith, we’re landing in a safe zone, no one’s gonna shoot us down” West shouted over the increasing whine of the engines.
’s not the getting shot at that’s got me sick, it’s looking at your face, West.” Cole retorted to the joker of the squad. For good measure he shot West the bird again. The Specialist returned the gesture and they both settled back to ride out the bumpy landing. A few minutes later, they were safely on the ground and taxiing back down the runway. The aircraft finally settled to a stop and the red warning lights turned green.
Cole’s squad leader, stood up and shouted at his men. “Lock and load we are in a combat zone.” He led the way by tapping his magazine against his K-Pot a few times to snug all the rounds up in the magazine before slapping it into his M-4 rifle. Cole and the rest of the squad followed suit.
“Smith, get out the door, down the ramp, and link up with security.” His sergeant ordered him.
Cole didn’t even respond
, he just followed his orders and headed to the main exit from the plane. He got to the door and scanned his surroundings like he had been taught. Seeing the security Hummers parked all around them, and holding men with 50 Caliber machine guns performing over watch duties made Cole feel better. He stepped out of the plane, rushed down the stairs, and stepped onto the sun baked floor of the desert. The heat, even at night, was brutal but he liked it better than the humidity of Kentucky in the summer.
He took one more stride to clear the bottom of the ramp and won his first and only medal during his service. The official report said it was an enemy sniper
on the outside of the fence, but no one ever heard the shot or saw where it came from. It was either a bad shot or one not meant to kill. It hit his upper thigh and went clean through and into his other leg. Cole never made it any further than the bottom of that ramp. The pain from the two entry and exit wounds was worse than any he had felt before and he fell into the cool darkness of unconsciousness.
He woke up three days later in the Army hospital in Germany. His Purple Heart Medal was on the table next to his hospital bed.
The next few months of Cole’s life were a misery of surgery and rehab.
First in Germany, then later at Walter Reed in DC. Almost a year after being shot, Cole found himself back in Kentucky with his discharge papers in hand and a life-time on disability. He had lost his only chance to make something of himself. He walked to a nearby used car lot and spent some of his sizable back pay on a true piece of junk.
He headed west, his destination was Las Vegas.
He had money and Vegas seemed like a good place to go, it wasn’t like he had a home or anything to go back to. He loaded up his few possessions and filled up the tank. He grabbed a map at the gas station and turned into the setting sun. With luck he could be there in a day or three.
The junker broke down just one mile outside of the Vegas city limits. Cole pushed it off the road and decided to let Nevada DOT take care of it for him. He hitched a ride into town and checked into the nicest looking casino he could find. It was called the Wynn
, and apparently catered to those wealthier than him, but he had enough money to get a decent room for a few days. Regardless of what happened, he would only need it for a day or two anyway.
Cole spent the next week living high off the winnings he made the first night at the table
s. It seemed he won at any game he joined that night, and he played the role of big winner well. He upgraded his room and threw parties there for three days straight. He bought booze, drugs, women, and spent time enjoying all of them. It took him most of the week to burn through all of his winnings and his back pay. But it was worth it, it was one hell of a going away party.
Now here he
was, stone cold sober and stone cold broke. With his money gone, so were the partiers, the booze, the drugs, and the women. He had the clothes on his back and the wind on his face. Cole was perched on the edge of the casino’s roof. He had used a fire axe to batter the door open then used the same axe to wedge it shut. He did not want to be medically discharged; he did not want to spend his life on a pension. He wanted to serve his country and leave the army a hero or in a body bag. He had his one shot and it had been taken from him.
He balanced precariously on the edge of the roof. He could hear security banging on the door he had broken to get up here. Cole felt the slight chill in the air. It raised goose flesh on his arms and sent a shiver down his spine. He closed his eyes, tilted his head back and raised his arms out to his side. He never
hesitated; he shifted his weight slightly so that gravity took over. He fell and cursed the miserable world he had been born into.