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Prelude to a Beginning

Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.

The sound of the helicopter as it flew just above the jungle below. He sat there, bolt upright, eyes closed, as sweat rolled down his forehead like a runaway train. He didn't even bothered wipe it.

They were moving in under the cover of the false dawn, like Santa but instead of gifts they were bringing death.

Morganfokker sat across from him, smoking a shitty smelling cigarette, reading a dossier. Raising his eyes from the file, he said, "Max."

Max opened his eyes, looked over at Morganfokker.

"You okay?" Morganfokker asked him.

"Yeah, just the sweat," he lied. 

He didn't dare say anything about the recurring dream he had been having for the past three days. If he did, this mission would be scrubbed. He was a good solider, and like all good soldiers he obeyed orders.

The problem was that Morganfokker knew Max better than Max knew himself. He had spent the last four years subjecting Max to various tests and treatments. The project was coming along according to plan. Morganfokker was pleased that he was going into the field with his star pupil on this one. He would get to see him in action.

There was a low buzzing sound, the sky was blood red.

"We'll be over the LZ in 3 minutes," the helicopter pilot called back. 

Morganfokker tapped Max's leg and handed him a brown envelope. "This is our assignment."

Max ripped the seal and slid the glossy photo out. The picture showed a scene of a small native community, several people sitting about a campfire; a red marker had circled an elderly man who stood there. It named him Muronki, Witch Doctor.

The shaman was the target. He had been classified as a threat and, like all threats, had to be dealt with. Max looked at the photo. He studied the face of the man and then he looked at the surrounding people in the photo. His eyes taking in each person around the shaman.

The door to the copter rolled open and lines were dropped. Max and Morganfokker slid down into the thick tangle of leaves and vines. They checked their gear as the helicopter disappeared overhead, leaving them alone in the jungle.

"The village is just a few miles this way," Morganfokker said. "Let's get this done, quickly."

Max checked his handgun and brought the weapon up behind Morganfokker's head and pulled the trigger. Strawberry pie flew forward.

"I quit," he said to the corpse. He crumpled the photo and dropped it onto the body. He headed towards the village.

The crumpled photo began to uncrumple. One of the faces around the shaman was that of a young woman; she looked like she was looking directly at the camera. Her eyes held a look of knowing, and her t-shirt declared: I [heart] U.

Max didn't know who she was, but he definitely remembered seeing her somewhere before.