Thursday, July 25, 2013

Gauntlet - Episode 6.



Episode 6 – The Memories Make the Man

The walk down the street wasn’t exactly a long harrowing affair nor was it what you would call a scenic experience either. But the short jaunt did give Marshall a few moments for his mind to wander about. And for better or worse he found his memories once more drifting back on matters that he tried not to think about all too often. They were things that had undoubtedly shaped him and led him to this particular point in his life. Even though they weren’t times he particularly treasured.

Growing up he had spent his days playing games like heroes and villains where he always had to be the good guy. It was a simple childhood fantasy to be sure, but he always relished those innocent clear renderings of right and wrong that seemed so intrinsic to a kid’s view of reality. He savored every story about how special people were out there fighting against those who broke the law or sought to hurt others. It was a keystone in the foundation of everything he held dear about the world.

But with time and age came a new understanding. As he grew up more and more he began to look for some evidence of those courageous champions of society. Marshall would look around every corner for some sign of a savior stopping some source of sin or slight. Yet the older he became the more he realized there simply was no superhero standing sentry to safeguard them. By the time he had already grown into a young man he had all but given up hope for heroes that he had always held in his heart.

And then he heard the stories about the stoic soldiers who served the New Republic valiantly. Perhaps there was still some among those ranks who fought the good fight for the safety and security of all. So without a second thought Marshall rushed out to sign up for service. It was a proud day for him; one he thought was going to be the proudest day of his life.

Instead it was defining decision that brought with it a dark depressive depth to his already shattered dreams. For once he joined and entered into the recruit program he found a pervasive poison of profound misconduct. At first he felt compelled to report every misdeed or breech of behavior. He charged like some crusading champion to demand justice be done to those who sullied the name of every soldier to bear the banner of the New Republic.

But, much to his dismay only blind eyes and deaf ears awaited him. Before long he found himself earning on irritation and reprimand for repeatedly bringing such reports to his superiors for actions they deemed as expected offenses. It didn’t take long for his peers to take note of his criticism or how often he vanished to seek out an officer. And it took them even less time to decide amongst themselves that the little do-gooder had to be taught a lesson in minding his own business.

Eventually Marshall found himself painfully paying for every thought of doing his duty to uphold the ideals he had signed on to protect. By the time he had graduated from training program he had completely removed all notions of appropriate conduct from his mind. Instead he simply focused his full attention to obeying orders and with any luck he might find himself assigned somewhere where he could make a difference fighting to keep people safe. At least then he could rest with some relief that he had managed to live up to his own reasons for joining in the first place.

He could even recall one of his first assignments; it was a small civilian settlement where some harmless incident had been reported. But it had managed to catch the notice of some superior or politician somewhere who had decided to send a small detachment in to investigate. They had been order to ease or alleviate any fears and deal with the matter using their best judgment. In retrospect Marshall should have taken that as his first clue that something was bound to go wrong. He should have anticipated it but instead he had just assumed things would be different than back when they were just recruits in training.

Everything had happened so expectedly at first, the whole deployment completely by the numbers. And then he and his partner had been ordered to check out a few buildings at the end of the street. Nothing of any importance had even occurred at all so far, not even a single firefight or conflict or any kind. The whole trip had been completely one routine review of their training program. So Marshall had relaxed his guard a bit and figured after this final check they would be done and on their way back to base.

His partner had entered into the last building to take a quick check of the place and Marshall had stayed in position out front to stand guard. All in all he figured they were just going through the final motions before declaring their mission complete. But after awhile when his partner hadn’t returned he began to get curious. He couldn’t just abandon his post or else he risked being written up and odds were it was just nothing anyways.

Eventually there was a commotion inside that almost made Marshall reconsider investigating but shortly his partner reappeared in the doorway grinning and slightly disheveled. “What happened,” he remembered asking. They were the last clear memory he had that he could recall. What happened next had become a matter of official record that according to his trial said he had brutally pummeled another soldier until he had to be restrained by force.

It was his first and last time wearing the uniform in the name of the New Republic as one of its armed forces. After that he had found himself sentenced to a prison cell with only the knowledge that he could have prevented what had happened. Instead of waiting or looking for some hero if he had just went in as well he could have acted. Even if he had simply checked in on his partner instead of waiting outside obediently he might have been rewarded with the consolation his conscience desperately demanded. Instead he was tormented inside far more than any bars or walls could punish him.

The anguish of his past still pained him as it replayed itself in his head. But he didn’t want to dwell on it now; he had come to Redemption to move past it. With some effort he called up his will and pushed the images back down out of his thoughts. He needed to find a place called ‘General Good’ or some such and ask for Grandma. Composing himself with a deep breath Marshall closed his eyes and focused on the task he had set for himself.

“Good day Grandma Grael, My name is Marshall Lawson and Miss Donovaen mentioned the possibility that you might be a woman of some mercy,” he practiced aloud. Content that it sounded sufficiently sympathetic Marshall sighed once more and then made the turn around the corner. All he had to do now was find this place, talk a little old lady into a place to stay and hope no questions about his past came up. Seemed like a simple enough plan, but he knew better than to expect anything going according to plan. Nothing ever truthfully did in his opinion.