It’s the year 2050. The war with ISIS is over, but now the battle field has gotten closer to home. In 2025, it was rumored that ISIS had ties with Mexican Cartels, specifically the Juarez Cartel. They killed thousands of people before an inside man gave the US intel on the whereabouts of Juarez leader, Jesús Salas Aguayo, five years later. It was supposed to be a simple mission; infiltrate his location and capture him. Unfortunately, Aguayo saw it coming and the mission became a trap. Twenty US soldiers were captured and tortured for ransom. Since then, nine of the hostages have been killed. This is what started the US. Mexican War, in 2045.
It was a bright summer morning, the birds were chirping, children were playing in the park. A typical day in Chicago. Corporal Price lives in his apartment with his 4 year old German Shepherd, Sasha. He named her after his older brother, John,whose nickname was Sasha in the Army. John told him that one of his teammates gave him this nickname after he saved his life. Unfortunately, during one of his tours, John set off an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) while trying to disarm it. Price was only 12 when he lost his brother, and ever since then, he wanted to join the Army. His alarm clock woke him up at 0800, (8:00 am) same as usual.
“Rise and shine, Sasha.”
Sasha lifted her head and gave him a look of, Five more minutes, please.
“Oh, come on. You wanna go for a run?” She turned away and went back to sleep.
“Wanna treat?” Her big tan ears came up to attention. “Come on, let’s get some breakfast.”
She leaped off the bed and walked into the kitchen. He put down her kibble and began making his pot of coffee. He sipped it slowly as he watched her eat.
“You all done?” he asked as she licked the bowl clean. “Alright, let’s go.”
It was time for their morning run, he put on her collar and locked the door behind him.
“Hold on, girl, let me get the mail.”
Bills, bills, bills...wait...bills. When he got to the last one, he noticed it had the presidential seal on it along with it. It read,
Dear Cpl. Richard J Price,
The United States Secretary of Defense and the President is pleased to tell you that you have been chosen to be a part of a covert mission in Mexico. This mission consists of finding and capturing of Juarez Leader, Jesús Salas Aguayo. We have received intel on his whereabouts and thought you and Sasha would be perfect to execute this mission. Please report to 270 Washington St where you will be transferred to the Base in Durango.
Cpt. William H Kingsman
**This is a mandatory mission, failure to show up will result in a warrant for your arrest.**
They arrived at the Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Durango the next morning. The plane’s tires screeched as they hit the runway. Richard squinted as the cargo door opened blinding him with light. Sand particles filled the air and made it nearly impossible to see.
“Welcome to Durango, Cpl Price!” a man shouted.
The two exited the C-17. As the sand settled, a tall, African American man stood in front of them. That must be Captain Kingsman, he thought.
Price stood at attention and said, “Cpl. Richard J…” and before he could finish, the captain interrupted. “I know who you are Cpl. At ease,” he said. “I’ve read your file. Sorry to hear about your brother’s death. Who is this?” he asked patting Sasha on the head.
“This is my pal, Sasha.”
“Good to meet you. Follow me, I’ll show you where you’ll be staying,” Kingsman said. “Your squad leader’s name is Sergeant Jackson. You will report to the main tent to be briefed at 0700.”
That night was hell, nobody slept at all. Who has time, when you could die the next the morning? Sergeant Jackson woke the squad up at 0500, and prepared to move out. Price grabbed his Remington Semi Automatic Sniper System (RII RSASS), some ammunition, and camo.
“Sasha, come.” She pranced over to him and he petted her head.
“I can’t forget your bullet proof vest now can I?” He put it on her, a snug fit, she licked him on his face. “I love you too girl,” he said laughing.
They walked to the tent to get briefed on the mission. In the middle of the table was a Holo, which is a holographic map of the city.
“Aguayo is located in the center of town. Here,” Sergeant said pointing to a building. “Price, you and Sasha will be our eyes in the sky. I will need you to cover our soldiers. Try not to shoot any civilians. Aguayo has some of his men disguised as ordinary people. Additionally, he has child soldiers. And if you need to neutralize them, then you have to do it.”
Everyone looked at him with disbelief. “Are you out of your f*cking mind?! I am NOT shooting little kids!”
“You are, if you’re given an order.”
“God help us all.”
Bullets ricocheted off the humvee, hitting buildings. A thick cloud of sand billowed up off the road as they speed into the battlefield. Grenades and other explosions made it impossible to hear.
“Corporal, I want you to...” BANG “...up in that abandoned hotel,” Jackson ordered.
He pointed and yelled, “I WANT YOU TO SET UP IN THAT HOTEL!”
As they approached the hotel, Price noticed a few soldiers standing in the window. He motioned for Sasha to stay low. Then he gave her the command to search the building. All he could hear were gunshots and screams.
BARK,BARK That was Sasha’s signal to the men that it was all clear. Several bodies lay in the door ways. Teeth marks were seen where Sasha had ripped their throats. Bullet shells lay on the floor covered in sand and blood.
Sasha barked and ran toward the open stairwell. She stopped and stood in an aggressive position not knowing if the figure was a threat or not. Price followed her, gun at the ready, but when he reached the stairs, he saw not a man, but a kid. He was wearing a red short sleeve shirt and a hat. The boy’s jeans were covered in sand, and so was his short black hair. He clearly wasn’t old enough to be a teen, let alone be in a war. Startled by Sasha the boy raised his Mendoza HM-3 and aimed it at Price.
Don’t do it kid...please don’t f*cking do it, he thought.
The boy waved his gun at Price and yelled in Spanish. Beads of sweat began to form on Price’s head as he hovered over the trigger. His heart beat out of his chest while he imagined the possibility of killing a child. Price fired a warning shot to scare the boy but it didn’t do anything. The boy shot the gun and bullets hitting the walls and ceiling; all of them close, but never where they should be. Price didn’t want to shoot him, but it came down to either him or the boy. He closed his eyes and exhaled slowly hovering his finger over the trigger. The boy shot once again, but this time so did Price. BANG! The boy fell to the ground, limp and lifeless. Something came over Sasha, and she ran down the stairs to the boy who could easily be tricking them.
“SHIT! SASHA, NO!” Price called after her, but it was too late. She was already down the stairs. Price ran down the stairs making sure not to break his concentration on the boy. The boy seemed dead. Sasha nudged the boy’s feet with her nose, nothing. Price began to walk away to continue his mission but Sasha wouldn’t leave.
“Sasha come!” he ordered, but she refused to move. He slowly walked toward her kneeling by her side. “We can’t save him...he’s dead…”
She looked at him puzzled tilting her head to one side. Then she turned toward the body to see if it would move.
“I’m sorry...it’s too late,” said Price. Suddenly, the body moved. The boy opened his eyes and in a weak voice said, “Ayudame...ayud...a...me,” which meant help, before passing out.
“We need a medic stat!” Price yelled as he jumped out of the Humvee. The unit’s top medic, Dr. C.R. Avery, rushed over with his medkit. Dr. Avery studied at Stanford Medical School before joining the Army. He was there when Price’s brother was pronounced dead.
“Can you tell me what happened?” he asked with a sense of urgency in his voice.
“He’s been shot, I think in the left shoulder. I don’t know, I can’t tell, there’s a lot of blood.”
Price handed the boy over to Dr. Avery, as he continued to provide more information on what happened. At this point the boy had awakened but was very weak.
“Has the boy lost consciousness at all?”
Dr. Avery took his stethoscope and listened to the boy’s heart and lungs.
“His lungs sound fine. Does he have a name?”
“I don’t know. He passed out before I could ask him.”
“Ok, I need to take him to the medical wing to see how badly he’s hurt.”
“I’m a child murderer,” Price said with tears running down his face. “I’m a goddamn…”
“Shut the hell up, Corporal!” Dr. Avery ordered. “You did your job, now let me do mine. This boy won’t live if you keep crying and don’t let me help him.”
Dr. Avery transferred the boy to a stretcher and promptly took him to the examination room for x-rays. Corporal Price sat in the waiting room, thinking about the boy’s fate.
What if he dies? Price thought. What if he has a younger brother who looks up to him and I’m the one who took him away from him? How is that boy going to feel looking at an empty room for the rest of his life knowing some asshole, military guy is the one who robbed him of his brother. Sasha came up to him and licked his hand, assuring him that everything would be ok. Just then Dr. Avery walked out with a mournful look on his face.
“The bullet missed his lung but did hit his thoracoacromial artery. Which means that we will have to use a thoracoacromial artery perforator to reconstruct the damaged section. Unfortunately, he’s lost a lot of blood and probably won’t make it through the surgery.”
Disappointment filled Price’s face like a dark shadow. “There’s no other way?” he asked.
“Well, there have been recent studies about canine blood being neutral enough to infuze into humans but it hasn’t been tried yet.”
Sasha looked at Price and Price at her. “What do you say girl...do you want to?”
She looked at him once again with her head tilted to one side and barked in agreement. “Ok girl,” he responded.
“Right. We only have one shot at this. Let’s make it count,” Dr. Avery said. As he took Sasha into the operating room a tear formed in Price’s eye, not knowing if he would he lose her, too.
The surgery was a success. Sasha was happy and healthy, and the boy was recovering in the ICU. Three days passed before Price got a call from the ICU saying the boy was awake if he wanted to see him. Price walked over to the medical wing to finally see the boy after all he been through. He walked into the room and was greeted by Dr. Avery.
“Good to see you, Corporal,” he said. “This is Miguel, he’s our translator.”
The boy woke up and looked at Price, who nervously walked over to his bedside and said hello.
“Hola, me llamo Juan.” the boy said.
“What did he say?” Price looked at Miguel.
“He said ‘Hi, my name is John’.”
“Yes, John…” Miguel repeated.
Price looked at the boy and began to cry.
If my brother couldn’t have been saved, at least another John was, he thought to himself.