Jason: Tours of Duty Part 4

Jason: Tours of Duty Part 4

May 7th, 2183

Nearly two days. Two whole days. The time since Jason attempted to call Mina. Their tradition. Broken.

"I told you, Jason. She probably just dropped her omni-tool in the sink or something. You're worrying for nothing. Trust me." Gage reassured his fellow soldier with a pat on his shoulder.

Jason nodded and put on his best grin. The one he brought out for special occasions to dress up his insecurities and worries. Mina knew how important this call was for him. He always thought it was important to her, too. She wouldn't miss it. He left messages, one after another.

"I'm just gonna try her one more time." Jason said, seated at the edge of his bunk.

"You do that, Romeo." Gage responded with a wink as he studied a datapad from his back as he layed atop the bunk across from Jason's.

Jason had lost count of the number of times he tried to get through to Mina. Each time that it went to her messaging service, another pang of panic shot through him. His mind swam through the sea of possibilities. All of the things that could've went wrong. Maybe she just got tired of waiting. He knew she never agreed with his decision to stay on active duty. 'You put in your time, Jason!' she would argue, pleading with him to just accept a cushy desk job close to home. He knew it hurt her to be so far away from each other for so long, but it was the only life he knew. Cycles are hard to break. Impossible for some.

He pressed the call button. Just one last time before bed.

...Connection Established...

"H-... Hello...?" a voice hesitated for a moment before it came through the omni-tool.

Jason straightened his posture, his entire body going rigid and Gage sat up in his bunk, giving away the worry he had been hiding.

"Mina!?" Jason quickly spit out, but it was instantly obvious that it wasn't her on the other end of the call. The picture cleared up and the image of a timid older man came into view. His hair was beginning to grey at the temples. "Who the fuck is this!?" Jason barked, "Where is Mina? Why do you have her omni-tool!?"

The old man cowered into himself as he was scolded. "Mina..." he repeats as he looks offscreen, "I-... Her name is Mina." The man turned back to face the screen, finding it difficult to hold eye contact even through the bounderies of a screen and probably half a galaxy of distance.

"What is-..." Jason stuttered, finding himself quickly becoming more and more flustered. "This is Sergeant Major Jason Wolfe of the Systems Alliance. I demand you put my fiance on the line right now." he huffed, attempting to throw his weight around.

"I'm sorry I-... Wha-... Systems Alliance...?" the man responded, still not daring to look right into the camera. "I'm sorry, kid..." the man began, trailing off as he struggled to follow up.

Jason instantly gave a shake of his head. "Don't say you're sorry!" he instructed, now beginning to make a bit of a scene in the barracks as other soldiers did their best not to stare. A phone call beginning with 'I'm sorry' never brought good news. His eyes watered as he waited for the bad news to be delivered. His mind continued to race. Was she hurt? Was she...?

"I-... We-...." the small old man looked off the screen again for a moment, "The missus and I-... I'm so sorry, son. We found-... Mina? She was in the alley back behind our building. She was already gone when we found her. I'm so sorry..." he repeated, his voice cracking slightly as the weight of the pain he was inflicting sat heavily on his shoulders.

Jason blinked a few times as he struggled to make sense of the man's words. He could feel his entire life shift around him. All of the possibilities. The future he envisioned. The relationship he wanted. Mina was the glue that held it all together, and it was now shattering all around him, breaking into small shards of what could have been.

At some point Gage had taken a seat beside Jason, a supportive hand upon his shoulder. He was saying something, but it all sounded like a distant droning to Jason. He suddenly felt so very far from home. Whatever 'home' meant anymore.

...Connection Terminated...

The weeks following Mina's death were a whirlwind of unanswered questions. Mina's body was found on Omega. Shot. What business did she have on Omega? Jason was given time off to greive and the Alliance paid to have Mina's body sent home from the clinic she was being held at. Jason didn't attend the funeral. One day began to bleed into the next. The constant stench of alcohol on his clothes. Waking up in a pool of his own vomit on a bench outside of a local bar with no recollection of how he got there. Mandated psych evaluations.

'Unfit for duty' the results had stated. The honorable discharge came as a surprise to nobody. It was their way of sweeping what had once been a good soldier under a rug of paperwork. Give him a proper sendoff. It made no difference to Jason one way or another.

His apartment was like a frozen capsule of memories. Every corner was painted by his relationship with Mina, and there was no way he was returning there. The mere thought of the silent, lonely apartment was nearly enough to push him to his breaking point. It wasn't home anymore. It was a cold empty shell of a life that no longer existed. A husk. So what was home now?