A Warrior’s Tale… Once a Warrior

By Kenneth Stepp

Jeremy was an interesting character. He was a product of the 80’s. Typical, strong willed, smart, and lived a life layered in secrets. He was a salesman, everyone loved Jeremy, was the phrase said most about him. So how many secrets did he have? Too many to count. He was a husband, father, church leader, and lived large in his community. That was his life in the daylight hours. Nights were very different for Jeremy…

The room was musky and dirty, the air was full of an interesting energy. The people there had gathered for a show. Gladiators were there. This was what occupied Jeremy’s nights, almost always on the weekends, usually, Saturday nights involved this show of testosterone, the masculinity in the ring was palpable. Two warriors enter, one walks out. A brutal, yet simple way of proving yourself as a man. One rule and only one. Two in, one out. The fight ends when one is unconscious. It was a war of two people…

Jeremy thrived in this unlikely environment. Many wondered how an average man, a pillar of the community, a mere salesman, could win every time. It was close often, but some became suspicious that Jeremy made it look close. If they only understood what he was, well, they would know a secret so huge that it could change the history of the nation, or at least what they had learned in school about their country. Jeremy had a secret. One he vowed to keep secret forever. One of the nation’s greatest secret.

Green Light:

The family had eaten, the kids were watching television and Jeremy was helping his wife, Wanda, do the dishes. It was a nightly ritual their friends thought was cute. The family was ideal. Jeremy’s cell phone began vibrating, on the screen was simply the number 7. Honey, I need to take this in the garage. He knew. That number doesn’t show on his screen because someone wants to have small talk. That number meant something big was in process. He answered the phone with his name, Jeremy here. A female voice was on the other end of the line. Estate 3, 9:00 am. The call was over.

Hey babe, I have to catch a plane tonight. I have to meet with a client at 9 in the morning. Forgoing her offer of a ride to the airport every time, he went into the closet and grabbed his go bag. It stayed packed. Strangely, he also, as always, grabbed his suit bag as well. In Jeremy’s world, appearances mattered. He threw his gear in his truck and headed out. But not to the local domestic airport, he headed to the Air Force base 25 miles away instead. He parked in a designated spot just inside the base fence and walked towards the only hanger with a big number 8 ball painted on the door. No doubt someone high up thought that would be funny.

As he walked in, lights were on, a pilot was doing his checklist on a plane, and everything was in perfect order. He climbed aboard and told the pilot he would be napping during the flight. Jeremy’s personality was different when he slipped into this mode. He was focused, quiet, and hyper aware. The flight was a little bumpy but he did manage to get some sleep. They arrived at a small airport in the hills of Appalachia. It was Jeremy’s favorite estate, there were a few others, but the mountains were like art to him.

A car awaited Jeremy when he got off the plane. The driver, an Air Force Lieutenant, was very friendly and seemed excited by all the intrigue. Of course, he had no idea just how secretive this meeting was. In this world, compartmentalization was the norm. The young Lieutenant thought he was driving a spy like character to a rendezvous. In a way, this had some truth to it. But Jeremy was not a spy. He would tell you real fast, he’s a warrior. One of the greatest ever imagined.

They pulled into the driveway of a small house in the middle of nowhere. He laughed at the idea of calling it an estate. But everything in his world was not what one would think it should be. One car was in the driveway, he grabbed his gear, said goodbye to his driver, and headed into the house. Hey Charlie, he said with a smile. Charlie was actually Charlotte. She was beautiful, smart, and somewhat of a warrior herself. More than anything, she was Jeremy’s handler. She handed him a file. Study this tonight, you leave tomorrow. This is what they called, Green Light… It meant go.

The Mission:

Jeremy studied for a few hours, then dozed off for a while. Charlie knocked on his door at 6:00 am. Time to get ready. It was an dreary overcast day, Charlie was dropping Jeremy off at an Army base about 100 miles away. He’d leave from there. No one was read into his mission except Charlie. She was the keeper of secrets. A lot of them. It was striking that someone as capable as Jeremy, would have everything done for him on American soil, then he would be totally on his own in a few hours. Alone and ready. Charlie called it, unleashing.

The flight was long, he arrived as the sun was coming back up. The air was dry. Yemen, not a great place to find yourself. Meanwhile, back home, Charlie called Wanda with, “the cover story”, she was use to it by now. Jeremy had his orders, orders from the highest level. There was a terrorist base in the mountain region and the Army was having a hard time with them. Snipers had already taken out 6 soldiers. Jeremy’s job, end it. He headed out alone, his face blacked out, he was invisible. The base commander was told to stand down and wait till he saw a sign that things had changed. Confusing, but an order he’d follow.

Destroyer of men:

Jeremy had been gone 32 hours. The commander was irritated when he was told that Jeremy did not take orders from him. And waiting for who knows what seemed disrespectful. After all, he was the front line, not Jeremy. 3:00 am, A loud BOOM! The mountain base was light up on the night sky. Smaller explosions followed, boom, boom, boom. Then silence… The commander ran out and saw in the distance that the entire area where they suspected the terrorists base was on fire. What in the world has happened?

Ten minutes later the commanders phone rang. Your problem is solved, I don’t believe you will have anymore trouble out of that base or those snipers. The commander asked, what is going on here? The voice on the other end of the phone was that of Charlie. Suffice to say that Their monsters aren’t as good as ours at being monsters. As the sun rose, it was obvious to all that there was no life in those mountains. It was, for the most part, void of trees. Grateful to not fear losing anymore of his men by sniper fire, the commander accepted war was a need to know business. And the loop was too small to keep him in it.

So what happened back there? One man knows and only one. That means this story about that base vanishing off the face of the Earth will die when Jeremy does. It’s how it is, it’s the job, and seven men are excellent at their job. Seven remarkable, capable human beings.

Two days later, Jeremy was back home, back in his office, and dreaming of the next time he’d be a warrior. In the meantime he would go pick on lesser men on Saturday nights till the light goes green again. Jeremy was aware he was part of something amazing, important, and secretive. He often wondered about the other 6 men, or were they men? He was no longer sure what he was at times. He was a destroyer, a wrecking ball that killed some to save others. It was a confusing reality, but one all 7 accepted. And acceptance is important when your job involves what theirs does.