A soldier stood in line like all the rest. He wore the same green uniform as all the rest. He had the same rifle, slung around the same right shoulder and the same haircut under his hat like all the rest. Everything was the same save one thing. This soldier's head towered above the rest by at least 2 feet.
"Big Fuck!" a deep voice came booming from behind the group. Big Fuck looked up at his drill instructor who gestured that it was alright for him to turn around and address the origin of the voice. He turned around to see General Marshall Jackson walking through the crowd with men on all sides saluting him as they noticed who he was. The General was well respected at Camp Fortnite as he was a veteran of both the Western Continental War of 2035 and the South American War of 2045. Both wars had lasted years and General Marshall had led men to victory many times. He always made it a point to deliver important messages in person.
He walked up to Big Fuck, looked up, and said, "Private Gigantic As Shit, I presume?" the general asked sarcastically.
Still saluting his general, Private Gigantic As Shit responded in his deep voice, "Yes, Sir."
The General let out a, "HA!" and said, "No shit. I've got a message from DC that you're to be reassigned. Come with me." The General turned suddenly and started walking back the way he came. Private Gigantic As Shit stood stunned for a moment and then rushed along behind the man barreling toward the main building.
The General sat behind a large marble desk staring up at the private for a moment before he spoke.
"How long have you been in the army private," The General asked.
"6 weeks, sir," the private answered.
"What's our mission," The General said with a serious look.
"To protect the Realm, maintain peace, and end global instability," the private said confidently.
"Good. You pay attention," The General said with a smile and continued, "That will keep you alive. Now, it seems that you might be able to offer a strategic advantage in our battles in Spain. So you are skipping the end of your training and going straight over to help our effort over there."
"Yes, Sir," The private said confused.
"Well, gather up your gear, and head to hanger three. Your plane takes off in 30," The General said as he stood up and saluted the very tall soldier. "Good luck," he said as the private saluted back.
"Thank you, sir," the private said and turned to leave the office. When he got to the door he turned around and shyly asked the general, "Why me, sir?"
"Because you're big as fuck and they need that particular characteristic in Spain. You'll see!" The General said with glee in his voice.
Private Gigantic As Fuck rushed to his bunk, gathered his things as fast as possible and ran out to meet the plane that would take him to Spain. When he arrived at hanger three a transport jet awaited him with its pilot standing by. As the giant private approached the plane the pilot saluted him and said, "You must be Private Edward Johnston. I'm Airman Jordan Watersmith. I'll be taking you to our Spain headquarters."
"Thank you, sir," Edward said incredulously. He couldn't believe that the pilot knew his name and that he actually used it! Edward hadn't heard his name in months. He almost didn't recognize it. They had been calling him names like Big Fuck, Huge as Shit, The Biggest Private, and the general's Gigantic as Shit since the first day of basic training but it never really bothered him. He was used to it as the boys at the orphanage had called him worse names and treated him much worse. Edward was happy to be in the military even if it meant being called names.
The two boarded the jet and with Edward sitting quietly in the copilot's seat they made their way to Spain. On the flight, the two soldiers sat in the cockpit guessing at what Edward's "secret mission" might be.
Edward guessed, "I've heard they have mammoths in Spain. They use them in the hills. I bet they need me to ride one."
"I don't think so," Jordan replied confidently. "They had mammoths in Russia a few years ago but the whole mission failed as the genetics were still in beta. The mammoths grew too quick and never stopped growing. They died within months of birth." Jordan stopped and thought for a moment before adding, "I hope you're not going there to fight in the pits."
"Pits?" Edward asked staring at Airman Jordan wide-eyed.
"Yes. I overheard some sergeants talking about how instead of having a battle the generals of each army sometimes decide to have a hero", at this Jordan took his hands off the steering wheel and made quote fingers in the air and as the small cargo plane began to drift off course he put his hands back down and continued, "represent each side's force and the two heroes fight to death to determine the outcome of the battle."
"I can fight," Edward said confidently.
"I'm sure you can and being so big you would probably do well. But I also heard that the leaders don't like losing and sometimes", Jordan mimed air quotes again, "they just have the battle anyway and the heroes, being in a pit, get killed first."
"Well, fuck that!" Edward shouted in Jordan's ear causing him to cringe.
"Jesus! Don't yell in my ear! You asshole," he yelled and pushed Edward back.
"Sorry," Edward said trying to shrink into his side of the cockpit, which wasn't big enough for him not to be right next to Jordan's ear. Edward continued but quietly, "why did you put sometimes in air quotes?"
Jordan just turned to him and laughed. The rest of the trip went without incident and the two said their goodbyes on the tarmac of the American embassy in Spain, which had turned into the HQ for America's forces fighting there. Spain had been a long time ally of America and recently there had been violent resource disputes with neighboring Morocco and Algeria so America came in to defend its ally. The fighting had made its way into many major cities and was creeping up on the embassy slowly by the time Edward arrived.
When Edward walked out of the large bay doors at the rear of the plane he was greeted by a chipper female soldier.
"You must be Private Edward Johnston," she said hovering around him like a frantic butterfly. "I'm very excited to meet you. We're all excited really. I mean a real life giant," she continued but paused when she said giant to see his reaction, which was none. She kept going, "Oh, I'm sorry, that's rude, isn't it? I just mean, well, you are a giant, aren't you?"
"Uh...," Edwards started but was immediately cut off.
"Well, anyway", the butterfly interrupted. "I'm here to take you straight to your quarters and then straight to Master Sergeant Rory Bullworth's office for a briefing." At this, she started walking, taking a million steps to Edwards one and turning around every few seconds to stare and smile back at him.
They made their way around the building to a courtyard that had been turned into a makeshift barracks with large tents placed in neat succession with soldiers buzzing around. They all stopped what they were doing as Edward came into view. This was not a new phenomenon for Edward but this time it felt different. The people staring at him this time looked glad to see him and not afraid or disgusted as was the case almost every other time. He wasn't sure what to think about these faces but he was hopeful.
After making their way past many tents the butterfly caught his attention, "Here is your tent," she said happily pointing to the last tent in the line. "You only have time to drop your rucksack off on your cot and then we have got to go see the Master Sergeant. He is very excited to see you. He keeps talking about how you will be a game changer for our campaign here and how he can't wait to see such a big fucker", she said using dramatic quotation gestures.
At the entrance of the aforementioned tent, they both stopped and the butterfly pointed inside. He had to slightly duck to not hit his head and when he was inside the tent he was shocked to see that there was only one cot sitting right in the middle of the floor by itself. One very large cot, a small bookshelf, and a large footlocker were the only furnishings in the entire tent. 'Why did he need his own tent?' Edward thought to himself. He put his rucksack on the cot but before he could do anything else he heard his name from outside.
"Edward! We have to go," the high pitched butterfly soldier belted at him prompting him to rush to her.
Outside the tent, a crowd had gathered. About 25 soldiers of varying ages, sexes, and ethnicities stared at the giant as he made his way to the main building, all of whom possessed slack jaws and wide smiles.
Inside the main building, the butterfly suddenly became more like a professional caterpillar. She walked with purpose, her shoulders back, head high and boots in step with the usual right, left style Edward knew from boot camp. He started shadowing her moves as he walked behind her simply out of habit. Although he had to modify the timing a bit not to trample her. After a turn or two down the immaculately furnished embassy halls, the butterfly stopped in front of a door and turned to Edward.
"It was nice to meet you, Private Edward Johnston," she said with a professional and genuine tone. "I'm Private First Class, Beverly Finn," she continued and raised her hand.
"Nice to meet you," Edward said taking her hand, which disappeared inside his.
Beverly smiled, right-faced and knocked on the door.
"Come in," a calm voice called from the other side.
The two entered the office and stood to salute the Master Sergeant who stood up to greet them. He saluted them and said, "At ease privates. Thank you, Private Finn. You may go." She nodded, about-faced and closed the door on her way out. The Master Sergeant stood in front of Edward and stared up at his huge face.
The Master Sergeant broke the silence saying, "Well, I'm gonna get straight to it. You're here because you're bigger, faster and stronger than most anyone around and we need someone here who can rally the troops and strike fear into the heart of the enemy. What do you say to that?"
Confusion crept over Edward. His hands began to tighten and his face gave him away.
"I don't know," Edward said slowly.
"What don't you know?" Rory Bullworth pressed him to continue.
Edward responded, "What do you need me to do sir?"
"Good," Rory Bullworth said smiling and then sat behind his desk.
The next morning Edward woke to loud trumpets. He had stayed up most of the night with nervous anticipation and when 5am came around he was already dressed and ready to go. He made his way to the mess hall where no one seemed to notice him at all. No staring or attention whatsoever. Edward was once again confused.
He got his food and sat down at an empty table. After eating a few bites Beverly came buzzing over and sat down looking at Edward with a huge smile. Edward looked up to see her smile and smiled in return. This time he spoke first. "Good morning."
Beverly replied, "Good morning Edward. How was your night? What did the Master Sergeant tell you?"
"He said I would be here to rally the troops and strike fear into the enemy," Edward said sarcastically. "Whatever that means."
"Ohhh! That's great. He must mean you'll be in the parade tomorrow", she said with excitement. "We're having a parade to show our alliance with Spain and to show that we are winning to the public here. You'll be the star of the show."
Edward smiled but then quickly frowned and looked down at his peas and mashed potatoes.
"What's wrong," Beverly asked.
"Nothing. I'm happy to help," Edward said without looking up.
"Come on. What's wrong?" Beverly prodded.
"I'm just not used to that kind of attention," Edward answered softly, as soft as a giant man with a deep voice can muster. "I'm used to people staring but it's never been for anything good."
Beverly's sympathetic gaze just made him feel even more awkward. She grabbed his left hand from the table and pulled it to her and said, "Don't worry. We are all happy you are here. No one will look at you like that or I'll kick their ass." With this Edward couldn't help but blush.
The rest of the day Beverly Finn's job was to prepare Edward for the parade. She took him to see the float that he would be on. It was the biggest float in the parade and looked like a small sailboat with tall sides and a deep platform. American and Spanish flags surrounded the edge of the stage and it had a platform at the front where he would stand holding a huge medieval sword representing the strength of America. Next to him would be the President of Spain, Sebastion de Silva Devereux, who would have a shield representing his defense of his people.
The two spent the entire day together, eating lunch and then dinner back at the embassy mess hall. They parted ways at the opening of Edward's tent and wished each other farewell. Again Edward couldn't sleep. This time he couldn't stop thinking about Beverly Finn. Regardless of his musing about his new companion and circumstances, the morning came with the sounding of trumpets.
Edward got his gear and made his way to the showers where he could barely get low enough to clean himself. He got dressed in the uniform that they gave him for the parade. It was a gaudy, over the top version of a dress uniform with oversized shoulder pads, unearned medals, and a ridiculous beret with a long feather coming out of it. He looked at himself in the mirror and managed to muster a half smile while waving to himself in the mirror.
Edward made his way to the mess hall where again no one seemed to pay particular attention to him. Minutes went by as he looked around the hall but Beverly wasn't there. Edward's stomach started to fill with butterflies and he couldn't get any food down. He felt all alone again. The same feeling he had when he would eat alone in the orphanage. The same way he felt at school and during boot camp. Just then the Master Sergeant came into the room holding a massive broadsword in his hand. Everyone in the room stopped what they were doing, stood up and saluted. Edward did the same.
The Master Sergeant walked briskly and stood in front of Edward, saluted in return and said, "At ease." Edward put his hands behind his back as the Master Sergeant eyed him up and down. "Look at you. You look goddamn great son."
Edward knew what he looked like and couldn't agree but smiled anyway and said, "Thank you, sir. I'm ready."
"You look it," he said handing Edward the massive sword. Edward took the sword and put it to his side and saluted again. "Let's do this!" The Master Sergeant saluted and they both walked out of the mess hall. Only after they left did the others drop their salutes and go back to their mess hall business.
The drive to the parade starting ground was silent and the butterflies in Edward's stomach grew in intensity with every mile. Waiting for them at near the main float were five black SUVs and Spanish military personnel all around. The two American soldiers got out of their jeep where the Master Sergeant confidently walked up to the SUV in the middle of the group. He looked into the back driver side window and knocked hard on it.
"I see you," he said with the excitement of a schoolyard bully. "Let's get this show on the road President," he continued while stepping away from the door. Edward noticed that none of the Spanish military personnel made any movements toward Rory Bullworth. They must have known him or at least not been particularly concerned with the President's safety. A few moments later the door opened along with all the other doors to all the other SUVs. President Sebastion stepped out along with a dozen black-suited armed guards.
"Good morning President," Rory said with a quick salute. The president did not return the salute nor imply that he even noticed the Master Sergeant. Rory walked up to the president but before he got too close one of the guards stepped in between the two and stopped him. Rory looked up at the large man, smiled and said, "If I wanted to hurt the president son, you standing there wouldn't stop me. Now move aside."
The president set his hand on the guard's shoulder gesturing him to move aside. The two leaders looked at each other for a second and then the president spoke in a thick Spanish accent, "I don't think this is a good idea. It is too dangerous Master Sergeant Bullworth."
"Nah, don't worry about it," Rory responded in a chipper tone. "You'll be fine. It will be good for morale. The people need to know we are winning this thing and that you are not afraid of anything. Also, you agreed to do this and you don't want me going back to General Jackson telling him you pussied out."
The president winced at the word pussied and nodded his head in agreement. "You are right. I will show my people that we are not afraid of anything and that with the United State's help we will take back our country," the president said confidently. He looked over at one of his guards and said, "Give me a flack jacket."
A guard came rushing over and put a bulletproof vest on the president. Over that the president put on his military dress shirt. He also put on a historical dress hat with a long felt mohawk and a huge red feather sticking out the top. His attire was only slightly less ostentatious than Edwards.
"Edward!" The Master Sergeant yelled.
Edward got out of the jeep and ran over to Rory and saluted him.
"Don't salute me you big fuck!" he said. "Salute the president dummy."
Edward turned and saluted the president who looked up at the giant in his odd attire and saluted back.
"Nice to meet you, Edward," he said while continuing to salute Edward. "I am glad that you will be there to protect me on this stupid float."
"Yes, sir!" Edward replied, happy to hear himself called by his real name by such a powerful person.
Edward and President Sebastion took their places on the float. One holding a massive sword, the other holding a large shield. Side by side it looked like the president was Edward's squire holding his shield before an ancient competition. Two of the president's guards stepped onto the float and the Master Sergeant stepped on as well to give Edward some last minute advice.
He gestured for Edward to bend down and spoke quietly into his ear, "live for something rather than die for nothing." Rory looked up at him, slapped him on the shoulder and walked off the float leaving Edward as confused as ever.
Soon the float was moving and the president and the giant were smiling and waving to the thousands of Spanish citizens that lined the streets. They screamed, cheered and some even cried as their president went by. Everyone from the city had come out to see the president in person and when they saw an American giant standing next to him it was almost too much to believe. 'How could they lose with such an ally as the mighty USA,' many of them thought.
45 minutes went by and the crowd surrounding the procession was as energetic as ever. If anything it was growing in excitement. Fireworks and gunshots could be heard more and more and closer and closer to the float. Some of the classic American food carts, hot dog stands, and cotton candy stations that lined the streets were being overturned to make room for all the people following and surrounding the main float. Soon the floats behind the main float were forced to slow down as so many people stood in between them on the road and eventually each float was separated and obscured by raucous crowds.
The guards were beginning to become uneasy and they called the driver below them to drive faster and get away from the chaos but it was too late. There were too many people in front of the float to move any more than at a snail's speed. The noises of the crowd turned from cheers to chants and what was once a controlled parade was turning into a ravenous riot. People began breaking car windows and store windows along the road and the sound of loud bangs and pops grew more frequent and louder.
It wasn't long before the float had to stop fully. The president's guards were frantically calling on their radios for help but it didn't seem to do any good. Edward gestured for the president to get down just in time as a group of men dressed in Spanish military attire could be seen in a side alley making their way through the crowd toward the float. There were about twenty of them shooting into the air and hitting people that got in their way.
"They are here to get us out, president," said one of the guards.
As the military men got closer Edward could see that they were all wearing bandanas hiding their faces. That didn't seem right to him but before he could warn the guards a flurry of bullets began to whizz by his head. He fell to the floor but the two guards didn't get out of the way in time and were ripped apart by the bullets. Edward used his body to cover the president as more bullets whizzed past them and into the float narrowly missing them. The good news was that the crowd was dispersing but the bad news was that the militants were just a few yards away. Edward crouched holding the large sword and waited for them to try to board the float, his heart pounding.
The top of an aluminum ladder thudded against the side of the float right in front of Edward. He quickly pushed it back over the side. Bullets rang out again above his head as another two ladders thwacked against the side of the float behind him. He turned and was able to push one over but before he could get to the other one a man in green fatigues jumped onto the float but before he could fix his sights on his target Edward swung the sword at his legs immediately cutting them both in half. The man screamed and hit the floor.
Edward tried for the machine gun the man had dropped but before he could get it another soldier dropped into the float. Edward spun around with the sword, this time swiping into the midsection of the soldier cutting him in half. Once again he tried for a machine gun and this time he was able to get a hold of the bloody one in front of him. He stood up to look over the side of the float but shots went out as soon as he did so he could only return fire without looking, barely clearing the top of the float.
Just then another two men jumped onto the float but Edward was able to turn and shoot. He made quick work of them with the machine gun but just as his gun clicked indicating it was out of ammo another man jumped onto his back. The man tried to choke him but his neck was too thick to get much of a purchase. Edward grabbed him by the head and slammed him down onto the floor. Before the man could get up Edwards used the butt of the machine gun to smash in his head.
Just then another man climbed over the walls but before he could jump off the ladder Edward threw the machine gun at him hitting him so hard in the face that the man flew backward with blood shooting out of him in multiple directions. Edward grabbed the sword again and rushed over to the president who was crouched in a ball in the corner.
"Are you alright?" Edward asked but the president didn't respond. The president was in shock and weeping. Just then another thud hit the float. When Edward looked it was a flashbang that went off right in his eyes. Blinded, Edward covered the president as best he could. More men came aboard the float and began beating him. He was able to push them and take the blows until all of a sudden he felt the sting of a metal baton hit the top of his head and the lights went out.
Sometime later Edward woke to complete darkness. He could hear a crowd murmuring some distance away and there was a taste of coppery blood in his mouth, which complimented the pounding in his ears. A familiar voice could be heard close and as its owner came to mind Edward's heart jumped. It was Beverly! He couldn't believe his luck. She must have been there to negotiate his return or maybe she was there to rescue him, he thought. He tried to listen in but couldn't make out what she was saying or who she was talking to.
"I think he's awake." Someone said to Edward's right side.
"Take that thing off his head then," Another voice said. This one Edward instantly recognized as Master Sergeant Rory Bullworth.
The black cloth was pulled off his head revealing that he was in a large warehouse. Edward's eyes adjusted to the bright lights to find that looking at him where Beverly and Rory. Behind them were about a two dozen well-dressed men and women sitting around a large square pit in the center of the room.
"Hello Edward," said the Master Sergeant as he and Beverly walked up to him. "Good to see you again. Aren't you glad to see us?"
Edward said nothing.
"He looks a bit confused," Beverly said. "Are you confused Edward?" She smiled at Rory who smiled back at her.
"I think he is," he said. "Well, it will all be clear in a few minutes." He turned and walked over to a microphone near the pit where he spoke to the crowd.
"Ladies and Gentlemen. Officers and Senators. Kings and Queens. I have a great treat for you this evening!" At this, the crowd stood and started clapping excitedly. " I give you a bought that will determine whether Spain belongs to the United State of America. As it should." The crowd began to boo. "Or if it belongs to Africa," Rory said, playing to the crowd whom all cheered.
Rory walked over to Edward, pointed at him and said, "This giant motherfucker here represents America's interest." Then he walked over to the opposite side of the room where a large black sheet covered something large. Rory pulled the sheet off to reveal another giant. This giant was an older black man who was also chained up and badly beaten. Rory pointed at the man and said, "And this giant motherfucker fight for Africa!" The crowd began to cheer even louder at this.
The older giant man continued to look down and it was obvious that he had done this before. Edward had heard of other giants but had never seen any and he felt sorry for the other man. Hoping for some sign of hope he looked over at Beverly who just smiled at him with a psychotic grin. Realizing her betrayal his mind began to fill with rage and his thoughts raced.
Rory Bullworth then walked over to a small door, opened it and dragged someone out by their feet. The man was wearing military attire and as the light hit his face Edward recognized him as President Sebastion. He was beaten badly and pleading, "No, please. No. No!"
Rory dragged him to the edge of the put and made him kneel facing him with his back to the pit. He pulled out his revolver, pointed it at the president's face and said, "Let's start this off right." Then he pulled the trigger shattering the kneeling man's face into pieces before the lifeless body slumped onto the floor. Rory walked over and kicked the body into the pit. He raised his hand to the sky and just then Edward's chair began to move forward toward the pit. He looked over and the same was happening with the other giant.
He tried to stop the chair from moving but it was on tracks and was too strong for him. At the edge of the pit, the rear of the chair lifted him forward and his chains fell away. Just as he was about to fall face first into the 15-feet deep pit he managed to twist his body around in time to grab the arms of the chair. There were gasps from the crowd as Edward began to pull himself up. A shot hit the concrete an inch from his face but he managed to pull himself up and over the chair as more bullets hit all around him.
He grabbed the chains that were behind the chair now and pulled on them hard enough to wrench them free from the mechanism securing them to the ground and hid behind the metal chair. The sound of screams and people running the other direction could be heard along with the sound of an empty pistol's clicking. Edward stood up from behind the chair, leaped over it and ran toward Rory with the massive chain in his hand. Rory turned to run but Edward whipped the chain catching his legs and flinging him to ground.
Rory's face hit the floor with a thud. Edward walked over to him but before he could get very far he felt the sting of a large knife in his right back shoulder. He spun around to find Beverly on the ground in front of him scrambling to get up. Enraged by this he grabbed her by one ankle and picked her up so that they faced each other.
"WHY!" He screamed in her face but she didn't respond. She didn't cower or cry. She just stared at him a fierce hatred. With no response, he dropped her on her head knocking her out cold. Spinning around quickly he found Rory attempting to release his legs from the chain but before he could Edward grabbed the end of the chain and pulled Rory toward him. Just before he was within striking distance Rory pulled himself free, jumped up and started to run but Edward was close enough and fast enough to grab him with both hands like a father restraining a bad child.
Edward picked him up and walked him over to the edge of the pit where the other giant man was looking up at them.
"Please, No. I'll do anything! I can give you anything!" Rory Bullworth pleaded but it was of no use. Edward dropped him into the pit with a crunch as his legs broke on the hard floor below. The giant man slowly walked over to him and with one swift motion stomped on his head splattering it like watermelon. Then he looked up at Edward.
"I'll get you out of there," Edward said and tied the chain around a large beam and tossed the other side into the pit. When the giant man got close to the edge Edward lowered his hand to help him out. Once out of the pit the two stood face to face not fully knowing what the other might do.
"What's your name," Edward asked.
With a deep guttural voice, the giant said, "Brute," and hit his chest.
"Ok Brute. Do you know how to get out of here?" Edward asked looking around the warehouse.
"Brute knows," Brute said gesturing towards a large door.
The door was locked but Brute slammed his shoulder into it and it snapped open. Bright sunlight broke into the room and attacked their eyes for a moment. They made their way out of the warehouse where outside was a small airstrip and several helicopter landing pads. Edward looked around the area and far to the right, he saw one helicopter and it was beginning to start up. Edward and Brute began to run toward the helicopter when they noticed it's pilot get out and start running toward them.
Assuming it was an enemy of some kind the two giants stopped and braced for a fight but as the figure got closer Edward could make out what the pilot was saying.
"Edward Johnston!" the pilot said waving his arms in the air. "It's me, Jordan Watersmith!"