|Prerequisite||Justin Teng||Orlenz' Moretti|
Devil Dog is a specialist contact.
Prentiss has always been about as far away from Brett Donavan's hemisphere of happiness as its possible to be. Privilege never sat well with him, maybe because he left it all behind the moment he entered foster care, maybe because he saw for himself how the rest of the world lived without it, and maybe because, even at a young age, it all felt misplaced somehow: a happy ending right at the beginning of the story.
It's just the way things are for you now, Bretty, his father once told him. Your mother moves in powerful circles these days. We can afford to live safe. That's why we moved to Prentiss.
They did what all responsible parents did. They chose the best neighborhood for their boy in the hope he would live happily ever after, that every night would bring him sweet dreams. And for a while, Brett Donavan slept just as soundly as any seven year old boy should.
Turn the page and the story really begins back when the sleepless nights started.
A ten-year-old Brett Donavan came home from school one evening and spent the whole night sitting in front of the TV, waiting for mom and dad to get home. By nine o'clock he was worried. By midnight he knew they weren't coming. He stayed close to the light, to the glow of the TV screen, watching the news chopper flying out over Waterfront, the beige saloon car being dragged from the sea. There were Port Authority cops everywhere. Yellow tape. Bloodstains on the floor. A sheet covering a body. And then another. And Brett thought to himself: "Hey, that looks just like our car."
For eight years afterward, he barely slept. He came to know life in the foster care system. It was OK. Nothing bad to report. No stereotyped beatings or alcoholic guardians to contend with. Nothing in fact. Nothing to rebel against. Nothing to aspire to. No maidens to rescue. No vampires to stake. No plot at all. And so Brett grew up in a kind of daze, wondering where there story was leading him, wondering why he couldn't connect with it any more.
At 18, the navy brought him the chapter he needed, a whole cast of characters to connect with. He didn't need a kind ear, or a stable home, what he needed was purpose and the discipline instilled within him to see it done. He needed to pick up a sword and go out and slay dragons. And that was exactly what the marines gave him.
The sword they chose was an Agrotech DMR-SD. Turned out he was a devil with it- a true sniper master. Hero extraordinaire. Devil dog, the unit called each other when things were going good. After a time they began to stop using it amongst themselves, and Brett Donovan earned the title all to himself. They said he was destined for great things. Even the SEALs had their eye on him. But when was he ever that lucky?
A year or two later: boom! A fluke shot from an enemy unit. Snipers had him pinned down in his position, more or less, cooped up in a desert shack, the sun beating down so hard it was like lying inside a clay oven. He'd been in there for three hours, dehydrating a little more with each minute, his mouth as dry and course as sandpaper, but his focus unmoving. The bad guys had been waiting for about the same duration, far across the way in some shelled-out high rise, moving from one shadowy window to the next, trying to get a bead on him. They kept trying all afternoon, but they never did find him. Too bad the same couldn't be said for the mortars.
Skip forward a few pages, past the stay in a military hospital, past the honorable discharge. Almost as far as now: Chapter 2011.
Devil Dog is back in San Paro, looking for a new purpose. No sign of a happy ending in his sights so far. He's searching for someone in particular. A guy named Byeong Lee one of his old Drill Sergeant's buddies, apparently. If the rumors are anything to go by, the old cop could use a guy like Devil Dog, even though he doesn't hear so well these days. And the headaches haven't gone away.
He spends a few weeks in Prentiss. Down by the sea, trying to find that spot from the news all those years ago. He does. It looks just the same, minus the blood and shell casings. Maybe one or two. He doesn't hear the roar of the Bishada until it's almost passing him. He turns back in time to see some vampish lunatic with pink bunches leaning out of the window in a red crop top and firing a fully-automatic, scoped N-TEC at a Patriot Jericho with the word Tigers down the side of it.
Nearby, an old dude watches them speed off. Poor assholes don't stand a chance, he says. Just making it up as they go along. Back in the day, we got trained before we went to war. Can't just pick up a gun and call yourself a hero, you know?
Devil dog smiles to himself. Beneath the burn scars his face still smarts a bit.
No, he agrees. But then, even heroes have to make things up as they go.