SPECIAL OPS: WHY WE ARE HERE
Nada went into a long (more than two sentences) explanation of combat fatigue and how it happened occasionally that a guy lost it on a mission. And might even want out.
The last part caused each of the listening men to look into their own psyche for a moment. They had all been special before coming to Nightstalkers: Green Berets, Rangers, CIA, Black Ops—it ran the gamut. The fact that Ms. Jones picked them meant they had something that went beyond special, into unique. The thing was, none of them were exactly sure what made each one unique.
Ms. Jones: “You believe Misters Burns should be separated, Mister Nada?”
Nada: “I never really trusted him.”
Mac snickered because they all knew Nada wouldn’t trust a Girl Scout leading a nun across the road. He’d figure there was an angle to it, and it wasn’t a good one. In Nada’s world, the Girl Scout would throw the nun under the bus, then steal her rosary beads and hock them, using that—along with the money from her cookie sales—to feed her gambling addiction. But Roland frowned at both the snicker and the comment. He knew Nada meant something deeper, something real. Because the funny thing was, no one on the team had ever really trusted Burns. Well, they had at first. You had to. But something had been brewing between Burns and the rest of the team for a while.
Ms. Jones: “Mister Burns was an experiment on my part. I was trying something different and I take responsibility for the decision and the result.”
Mac choked down another snicker because Ms. Jones always took responsibility for everything on the team and even Mac couldn’t laugh at that. They all knew she had their backs.
A record-setting second sigh came from Ms. Jones.
Ms. Jones: “Mister Burns will be out-processed.”
Moms and Nada were silent; the decision had been made.
Ms. Jones: “It could have been worse.”
All three men in the outer room—even Mac, who hadn’t been there—were nodding, because they all implicitly knew Ms. Jones knew what “worse” was.
Then Ms. Jones began speaking, almost like Moms, except she wasn’t detailing a mission, she was talking about the Mission. It was pretty close to what she’d told each of them individually when they in-processed and it was similar to what they’d all heard when they’d volunteered and made it into whatever high-speed unit they’d come from. It had a catch phrase in those elite organizations: Why We Are Here.
That’s why Roland and Eagle and Nada, and even Moms—though she wouldn’t admit it—had known Burns was done when he’d been screaming with an ass full of spikes: “Why am I here? Why the hell am I doing this crazy shit?”
They all knew why they were here and they all knew Ms. Jones was repeating it as much to them as to Nada and Moms.
Ms. Jones: “We are here because the best of intentions can go horribly awry and the worst of intentions can achieve exactly what it sets out to do. It is often the noblest scientific inquiry that can produce the end of us all. We are here because we are the last line of defense when the desire to do right turns into a wrong. We are here because mankind advances through trial and error. Because nothing man does is ever perfect. And we are ultimately here because there are things out there, beyond mankind’s current knowledge level, that man must be guarded against until man can understand those things. We must remember this.”
During the in-brief, she’d then ask each prospective team member: “Can you live with that?”
And they’d all said yes. But every once in a while that yes turned into a big NO, like it had with Burns.
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