APAGear II Archives Volume 1, Number 2 January, 1999


New Legs

Wayne Chang

Nothing felt right.

His legs didn't respond to his will, his arms went up when he wanted them down, and he couldn't figure if his spine was broken or just twisted. Terrance walked awkwardly, like a drunkard, and was amazed that he didn't fall flat on his face. Hopefully it wouldn't be his face, because he could at least move his head correctly.

Terrance took another step forward, concentrating solely on that one act. Down. The ground tested solid. He breathed a sigh of relief. Then something went wrong. Alarms went off in his head as his foot slipped, and he began to tumble over sideways. Instinct took over as he stumbled a bit to right himself. His heart was pounding in his ears.

His personal trainer looked over at him closely, eye to eye. "What happened?"

Terrance, grinned sheepishly, "I slipped."

Dahlia looked at him and shook her head, "I mean after you slipped."

"I... uh..." Terrance stammered. He was confused.

"How did you get back standing?"

"It was... instinct I guess."

He looked down and noticed he was standing quite normally now, without thinking. Something he'd been having trouble with before.

Dahlia smiled, "Stop concentrating on it. You know how everything works, but you forget when you concentrate too hard on doing it. Let it come naturally."

Terrance pondered that over for a moment.

"Try it again."

He took a deep breath and tried to move his feet again. Without trying, they began to move, as if he's never had problems before! Slowly at first, then faster, and finally breaking into a run, Terrance raced around, near dancing around the room at top speed.

Dahlia punched a couple notes into her datapad with a smile.

Terrance's head peaked over the top of the small dune rise. Rifle at ready, he checked his targeting sight again to make sure it was lined up perfectly.

The sun was beating down hard on his squad, but none of them noticed. They had a job to do. Everyone tensed as the moment for the attack ticked down.

Sergeant Davis raised his hand motioning readiness. The five-man squad gripped their weapons tighter, adrenaline running through their systems. In those few moments before the order to attack, Terrance's mind raced back to his trainer Dahlia, and his first few steps. She would be proud of him now.

Davis' hand dropped, and Terrance's shot signaled the beginning of their attack.

Hospitals always smelled horrible.

Terrance lay on his back, staring blankly at the sterile white ceiling. He felt cold... alone. He hurt all over.

The attack had gone incredibly well. The Southern opposition had fallen under their swift attack, the whole base camp had been put into disarray by their five-man force. They were invincible! That is... until another section had appeared. Their surprise lost, positions given away, and laser targeted, they were dead. An unlucky rocket impacted near Terrance before he blacked out.

The doctors had worked on him for hours, but there was nothing they could do for him. His legs had to go. He had said nothing though they had asked him.

Terrance just lay there now. In a couple hours, they would come and graft on metal legs for him. Prosthetics. He grimaced. Like such a long time ago, he would have to learn to walk again. Different, but the same. This time however, Dahlia wasn't here to help.

A soft knock at the door, followed by the soft steps of someone walked to his bed. He didn't bother looking over, probably just another nurse. Until that nurse touched his hand.

"Dahlia...?" he breathed silently.

She looked as if she hadn't aged a day, even though she was a good five cycles older than him. It had been ten cycles since they'd seen each other last. Ten cycles that had hardened and aged Terrance.

"Hello Terrance," she said with her smile, "It's good that you're alive."

"Wha-what are you doing here?"

"I heard you had been hurt."

Terrance turned his head away painfully, "You shouldn't see me like this..."

She guided his head to look at her again, "It doesn't matter. I taught you to walk once, I can do it again."

"But that was different..."

"Besides..." she continued, placing her old datapad in front of his face.

It read, dating back ten years ago: I love you Terrance.

Terrance sat in his wheelchair on the podium, waiting for the speeches to finish. It was a month after his surgery, and the doctors had said he'd recovered enough to attend the ceremonies.

"... We hereby award Northern Star to the 7th Northern Guard Regiment, 128th Heavy Gear Squadron, Sergeant Frank Davis, Ranger Jim Daniels, Ranger David William Hart, Ranger Gerald Tanashi, and Senior Corporal Terrance DeSol." The speaker waited for the applause to die down, "Sergeant Davis, Ranger Daniels, Ranger Hart, and Ranger Tanashi all died in service of their country. Senior Corporal DeSol will accept on behalf for them."

The speaker began to walk toward Terrance, but instead, Terrance slowly stood up and accepted the medals from the speaker. The great hall was silent as the supposedly crippled Senior Corporal slowly made his way to the front row, saluting, then placing the precious medal in the care of his fallen comrades' families. Lastly, his own medal was placed in the hands of Dahlia.

The hushed hall heard every word as Terrance asked Dahlia to marry him.

The Jaguar frame hung silently in the Hangar as Terrance approached it. The lower leg assembly had been severely damaged when the rocket had impacted, shrapnel fragmenting everywhere, even into the cockpit where Terrance had sat. "Stryder" had managed to race back to the Orca transport in time to save Terrance's life, even if it had cost him his legs.

"But it cost you your legs too my friend, didn't it?" Terrance tapped on his hollow feeling leg. He blinked back a tear.

"You'll learn them again. Just like I did. And you'll teach new kids to walk too. I've transferred to Gear training, and you're coming with. I hope you're okay with that. You, me and Dahlia will teach the next generation of soldiers to walk."

He walked over to the lift and raised himself in line with the Gear's head. Even though it was powered down, Terrance felt that Stryder looked over at him. Out of his pocket, he produced the other medal he had been awarded for his actions that day.

"No pomp or ceremony, but this one means more than all the other awards put together. And I want you to have it."

Terrance placed it on the Gear's shoulder, then lowered himself to ground and walked outside to where his fiance was waiting for him.

From inside the darkened Hanger, the dark red Prophet's Tear gleamed brightly.

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APAGear II Archives Volume 1, Number 2 January, 1999