Prompt: “At some point include the line, 'But if anyone asks, we tell them we're fine.'"
They started the first excursion after the first bombing. The program had been in place for years, but no one ever thought they would have the guts to put it into action. Then the bombing came. America’s safety, and the safety of our allies, was clearly under attack and drastic times called for drastic measures.
I was a part of the first corps. I had been trained since the age of eight in my field. My entire life had been leading up to the day when I would use my skills to save my country and my people.
They called it the Bald Eagle Initiative. Two hundred boys and girls from across the country, drafted at age eight into the initiative and taught strategies in preparation for war. The US needed young brains with plenty of time to learn, but more importantly, young people who had no other loyalties.
On the first day it was put into place, they conscripted 200 of us immediately through random drawing. Families were sent letters with statements of the draft, and asked to transport their child to the nearest airport for a complimentary flight.
The people rioted immediately. The entire country seemed to be up in arms. “You are taking our innocent children!” they yelled. But the government got their way when several countries in the Middle East declared war. The threat of a nuclear war was the highest it had ever been, and America promised it had the answer.
The masses started to turn and accept the idea of the adolescent infantry, and through peer pressure and the “persuasiveness” of the American bureaucracy, two hundred US citizens, all between the ages of eight and nine, were brought to a training facility deep in the backwoods of Nebraska.
They promised we would stay in touch with our family, that we would visit on holidays and call every night. They lied. A week after it began I was able to call my parents in secret. They answered, baffled at who I was, telling me that I must have had the wrong number and that they didn’t have a child.
I was only eight, and the thought of my parents forgetting my existence terrified me more than I could ever have thought. I was too afraid to bring it up with one of the adults on the base, and I spent the next two years crying myself to sleep and slogging unwillingly through everything they threw at me.
I quickly grew tired of crying, and trying to take the hard way out, so I swallowed my pride and my tears, and I put my entire will into training. I ascended quickly through the ranks, pulling a full 180 from what I used to be. At the age of 14 I was the best female in the program, and not too far off from some of the boys as well. I excelled in hand-to-hand combat and cryptography, as well as computer sciences. My accuracy and aim with a gun was superb.
I would have been the face of the initiative, if anybody remembered it. The entire country, save for those involved in the initiative and the President, knew nothing about the program, or the fact that 200 of us had been trained as master military leaders. We were holed away in the middle of Nebraska as a safeguard for the war.
The war with the Middle East slogged on for 10 years until the shit hit the fan. We were put into action immediately, but secretly. They sent us in droves into the Middle East, and we strategised and took out the big bads like the military never could have. We infiltrated and assassinated and spilled blood in gallons. Huge numbers of us were captured at one point, either accidentally or on purpose, and underwent torture to the highest extreme.
Still, no one back home knew of our existence, until we poured back into the country and a rogue became fed up with the secrecy. He told everyone, alerted the new stations, and all of a sudden we were in the public eye. People rioted, again. Families worried that we were their children.
We returned home as a shock to the nation and as military heroes. We came back to our families to find open arms and faces full of tears. We were treated like kings and queens and revered in high honour. The public loved to interview us, to ask us about everything, and pamper us to the highest extent.
Everything was perfect, except that it wasn’t. We were constantly asked how we were doing, and none of us knew how to answer. We had lived ten years of our lives on a military base, cut off from all other humans. We were trained to kill, and knew nothing else. We had been through the closest thing to hell in the war, and none of us would ever be the same again.
But if anyone asks, we tell them we’re fine.