I kept anyone from hearing or seeing me as I crept up to the sergeant in charge of the patrol. I put my hand on his shoulder and quietly whispered to him, "I've got four prisoners up the trail, maybe 300 meters, sergeant. Do you think you could give me a hand with them?"
"God, I hate you fucking LRRPs," the sergeant said when he regained his composure. "Are there any more NVA in the area?"
"There's a base camp with at least a division of infantry about a mile or so from here, on the other side of the river, but there's nothing on this side that I've been able to find. Don't ask for a guarantee though," I said with a smile.
"Sanchez, Wilson, Johnson, Crisp, go with the hero to get his prisoners and come right back." The sergeant told his men.
I woke them up, one at a time, when we found them. We took them back, with the bicycle. Taking it down the trail was interesting. There were a couple of bamboo poles, one tied to the handle bars, and the other to where the seat would have been. With one person on either side, it was pretty easy to roll it along the trail, despite the heavy load it carried.
When we arrived back at the ambush site with my prisoners, the sergeant got on the radio and reported in. I could feel the relief on everyone's mind as he passed on the word that we were to return to base, especially when they knew that there was a division of NVA not far from here, just on the other side of the river. For at least tonight, no one was going to die.
The captain was happy to see the prisoners, but asked me what happened to the rest of my patrol. I handed him the dog tags as I told him, I could tell that he was mourning for his men. His voice was tightly controlled as he told me, "You did the right thing. If you tried to stay and fight, you'd have been killed too. By using your head, you survived, collected some valuable intelligence and brought in these prisoners. Despite everything, you continued the mission. Go get some rest, and be ready to leave first thing in the morning, I'm sending you back to see the colonel with your prisoners."
The next morning after a brief helicopter ride, I was standing in front of the divisional intelligence officer. He called in a major and the two of them fully debriefed me. I told him everything except about the ruins and the medallion. I pointed everything out on the map, including the position of the NVA base camp that I'd found in the colonel's mind.
When I was done, the colonel looked at me closely and said, "Good job sergeant. Your determination to Charlie Mike (continue the mission) despite catastrophic losses and overwhelming odds has given us an opportunity to deal the enemy a death blow."
I looked at him and said, "Sir, I'm only a PFC."
The colonel walked over to where I was standing, put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Son, I want people like you, who think when things go wrong and the odds are against you, in charge of my boys. You may be able to keep some of them alive when things get tough."
When I was dismissed, I heard him thinking that he would write me up for a distinguished service cross (the second highest award for valor). I thought that it was more than I deserved, but no one ever asked me. I finally did receive the medal, but it had been downgraded to a silver star. The medal was nice, but the extra two stripes put more money in my pocket. The most disappointing thing was that it was three days before there was an air strike against the NVA base camp. When we went in to check it out, a few days later, we only found evidence of two hundred or so fatalities. If we had been able to get the arc light strike approved immediately, we could probably have done at least ten times better.
I took over command of a team, since their sergeant had rotated back to the states. The assistant team leader hoped to be put in charge, but he wasn't yet prepared to lead. It took me a couple of weeks to gain control over the corporal without using force, but it helped me learn how to control people using a more subtle method.
His natural response was to rebel against orders. I could have just forced him to do what I ordered: however by subtly influencing his personality and making him realize for himself why I was right, he became better and was much more prepared to lead our patrol himself.
He was leading my team while I was on R&R when he was killed. His actions on that night saved the rest of the team. His DSC was not downgraded. I wasn't able to keep him alive, but he at least went home a hero.
I had signed up to go to Hawaii for my R&R. It was the most popular destination for married men traveling to see their wives, and the least popular for single guys. I had developed my ability to control people to a decent level during the time I'd spent in the bush, but in Hawaii, I learned what a valuable ability I now had.
I went a little wild. Although I was never much of a drinker, I never had to pay for a drink. I was never perfect with women before, but now I never went to sleep with less than two beautiful, hot women. I'd never gambled before, but I got into a crooked game and took them for more than $7 thousand, had them pay me and made them forget me when I left. I took care to change people's attitudes about us veterans whenever it was needed. Servicemen no longer had to endure the irrational hatred that they had to before from those I fixed.
I ended up extending my tour a couple of months, at the regimental commander's request, so that I could train my replacement. I was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the field, shortly after I returned from R&R; and was promoted to first lieutenant, just before I left for good.
The captain I trained to take over the company that I had commanded did very well, eventually attaining the rank of lieutenant general before he retired. I would have never have been able to make a career in the army, since I hadn't yet gone to college. It's unfortunate that the ability to do the job in war isn't always what is required to keep the job in peace.
The GI's called it the freedom bird. Those who survived their tour boarded the plane for the long flight back to the states, or as we called it, the land of the big PX (an army subsidized department/grocery store, which helped to support dependants who relied exclusively on the scandalously low pay).
When I got off the plane in San Francisco, I saw something I never in my life thought I would see. A group of about twenty-five people jeering at the returning veterans. For the first time in a long time I got angry. Most of the men were military age men. None of them had served in the military, and yet they were screaming and cursing at the men who had given so much for them.
It wouldn't have made me so mad if they had kept their opinions to themselves, or expressed their opposition civilly but they were screaming, cursing and spitting on these men who were returning from hell, where they had all gone against their will. I could see trouble brewing, so I quickly took control.
A sergeant, who had I found had lost over half of the people in his platoon, was about to kill the most obnoxious of the assholes when I stepped in. The sergeant and all the others with him saluted me when I came over. "Let me handle this sergeant, wait over there."
I froze the unruly group in their tracks and spoke to them quietly. What I said wasn't important, what I did was to give all the men an uncontrollable urge to enlist in the army and volunteer for Vietnam. There were four equally obnoxious women in the group. When the men left, I had them all giving the returnees blowjobs. None of those women would never again have an orgasm with a man who had not been in the service.
It was the only time I ever used my power in anger. I thought for a long time about what I did, and how I planned to use the ability I'd been given. I continued to the base where I was to be discharged, checked into the VOQ (visiting officers quarters, an inexpensive motel like building on base). After an early dinner I went to bed to try to readjust to local time. I fell asleep immediately and had an incredible dream.
A man in a silk oriental robe walked up to me. I was dressed as I had been in the monastery, nearly a year earlier. He kneeled with incredible dignity when he got close, and began speaking in what I was able to tell was Vietnamese. I was able to understand what he was saying, despite the fact that I didn't speak the language.
"My lord, you have been chosen to posses the power of the reunited Trung Medallion." He said.
"The Trung Medallion?" I asked puzzled.
He paused, considering how to answer the question and then said. "More than nineteen hundred years ago Vietnam was occupied by a corrupt Chinese regime. A warrior priest and a magician made a medallion of power and traveled throughout the country seeking a leader to save the Vietnamese nation."
"A rich Vietnamese merchant, named Trung, with two beautiful daughters, was found; but before he was given the medallion, a jealous Chinese official had him killed. The merchant had been a warrior and taught his daughters the martial arts. The oldest daughter met and fell in love with the Vietnamese prince and married him, thereby gaining the right to claim a leadership role. There was no one else, so the magician and the priest split the medallion in half, giving one part to each of the Trung sisters."
"They raised an army and ejected the Chinese from their country. They ruled well for four years, and without their just leadership, Vietnam would have ceased to be a country. The loss of face caused the Chinese to raise an immense army and reinvade Vietnam four years later.
The sisters didn't have enough power to successfully resist this overwhelming force, since the medallion wasn't nearly powerful enough when divided. Their army lost to the Chinese but the sisters escaped from the initial battle. They were trapped, and decided to kill themselves, rather than be captured, so they joined hands and drowned themselves in the river. When they died at the same time, the medallion reunited itself. The warrior priest and magician sealed the medallion into the statue. It waited there until a worthy leader found it."
I stood there, trying to absorb the information that I'd been given, while the man waited in front of me on his knees. I finally asked, "Why was I chosen?"
"You, my lord, posses the qualities the medallion was looking for. You are a brave and intelligent warrior, fighting in a cause to free others. You're a natural leader who cares a great deal about your fellow warriors; but most of all, you have a finely developed sense of right and wrong. You will strive to help others, even if it causes you inconvenience, discomfort or is dangerous." The oriental man told me.
I considered what he said and then asked, "When I found the artifact, I did some strange things, can you explain to me, why I did those things?"
"There was ancient writing on both halves of the artifact explaining what needed to be done to claim the medallion's power. Part of that was a riddle. You had to figure out the riddle make a choice and then act, if you would have made the wrong choice, you would have died or been given a lesser gift." He told me without inflection.
My eyes widened as I said, "I couldn't read what it said; how did I know what to do?"
He looked at me, surprised that I hadn't figured it out as he said, "The medallion questioned your mind directly. You hadn't yet received the gift, so it wasn't made clear to your mind what happened, or why you did what you did."
"You first touched the medallion to your head, so that you would gain the intelligence to rule wisely. You next touched your heart to help you love and care for those whose lives you will touch. You followed that by touching your stomach to give yourself health, strength and long life. Finally, you touched your staff, to give yourself sexual endurance and potency, for your lovers and yourself. You chose the order of importance that best served others; therefore the medallion endowed you with the maximum amount of power."
I carefully considered what he told me, and then I asked, "The first time I had a chance, I used my new gift to benefit myself. I took money, had a lot of lovers and made people change their attitudes toward veterans. Did my misuse of my gift have any repercussions?"
The man looked at me and smiled as he said, "The medallion was made in a time when a king owned everything, including the lives of everyone he ruled. Think about what you did. You took money from thieves who tried to cheat you. They had done it to others before you, but you turned the table on them. You didn't even get mad and kill them when you wanted to leave, despite finding out that they planned to rob and murder you on the way out: but you only used the gift to make them forget."
"The best rulers have a healthy libido, as do you. You didn't force yourself on anyone; you just read their mind and chose those who wanted you. You could have forced anyone to fuck you, but you just heightened their level of arousal to give them pleasure."
"As far as changing minds about warriors, one measure of the worthiness of a society is the esteem they hold for their warriors. You simply fixed a problem and restored a measure of balance. Some warriors don't deserve respect, they need to be fixed, and you can help them: but for someone to abuse a warrior who risks their life for them is a serious problem for a society."
"The warrior never chooses the war; his task is to fight them. If a war is unjust, the problem is not the warrior but the government. If your leaders are corrupt, you can fix them as well. Use your gift to fix the problems you observe, to enjoy your life and to bring pleasure to others. You will be rich beyond measure, loved by all who know you, respected by most and feared by those who intend evil."
I thought about what he told me and then asked, "The gift, does it have any powers that I haven't discovered yet?"
The man, who I began to think of as my advisor, smiled as he answered, "There are many powers you don't know about yet. The gift will reveal new powers as you are able to wield them, and then allow you to find opportunities to use them. Use the powers that you have been given as frequently as possible. Like exercise builds muscle, using the power will strengthen the gift. Trust the power given to you; it's already saved your life fourteen times."
"Will you be back if I have any other questions?" I asked.
The oriental man stood, bowing out of my presence as he said, "The power of the Trung medallion will find a way to answer any questions you have, should the need arise. I would be pleased, should I be summoned; but I don't know if I will. It has been a pleasure to meet a ruler who cares so deeply for his people; I understand that your George Washington was such a man."
I began to awake as soon as the dream faded from my mind. It was five in the morning, time to get up anyway, so I showered, dressed and prepared to start my day. On the agenda for today, get discharged from the army. The power the artifact had given me guaranteed that I would waste no time for any governmental red tape. I put on my dress uniform, got breakfast and was waiting when the base personnel office opened. I was finished processing out two and a half hours later, with all of my paperwork completed. I knew that the next person wouldn't be done until at least four in the afternoon, so I had been spared at least six hours of useless delay. I was ready for whatever life had in store for me.
The story begins-
I had plenty of cash, one thing about being in a combat zone, you really don't spend much. I was going to go home, but the artifact told me that my mom brother and sisters had moved and no longer remembered me. It was for my protection and theirs, however it didn't explain why. I walked out of the base with a government check for nearly a year's pay. I wondered why I hadn't been paid for so long, but apparently when I was commissioned, they discharged me as an enlisted man and forgot to send the paperwork through to pay me as an officer.
I was paid for the last eight months in the bush and the nearly month and a half of leave I'd accrued, as well as the money to allow me to travel back to Atlanta. I still had most of the money I'd won in Hawaii, all together I had enough to keep me going for more than a year.
First thing I did was buy a car. I was in uniform, carrying almost everything I owned, when I walked onto the car lot. I ended up buying a Dodge Charger. It was a muscle car body with a small 318 cubic inch hemi engine and an automatic transmission. The car looked great, only had a few thousand miles and it was economical to operate. I looked into the salesman's mind to find out that he thought the car was the best value on the lot. I packed my duffle bag in the trunk and headed out for parts unknown.
I thought about what I should do to practice my gift, as I drove along. I decided to go to the largest shopping mall that I could find and practice there. I found the perfect place, and then I went to the nearest classy motel and checked in.
I changed out of my uniform and into some civilian clothes. It was the first time in months I hadn't been in uniform, and I felt strange. I was about to put on my shirt when I looked at my chest and arm. The burn from the medallion was entirely gone. The first scar from my first wound on my arm was so small it was unnoticeable. The wounds that I'd received later were barely noticeable as well.
When I looked closer, I noticed that I looked different. I had no visible body fat at all and there was a chiseled look to my muscles. Growing up, I'd always been strong; but it had been the strength gained from hard work. My muscles were not as visible, being hidden under a thin layer of baby fat. Now at twenty-one, I'd grown out of the baby fat stage, and my muscles had grown to make a dramatic appearance. I quickly put on my shirt and left the room.
The first thing I wanted to do when I got to the mall was get something to eat. I went to the food court and got a hot dog, fries and a foamy orange drink. I took it out to a table overlooking the mall and watched the people walking by as I ate.
Men have been looking at women since time began. We have learned to evaluate them quickly using our eyes, ears and sometimes our noses. Sometimes, we force ourselves to face humiliation and walk up to them to get their phone numbers. It doesn't always work, but we have to try, otherwise we can't face ourselves. Some of us are better than others, and we end up going home with a beautiful girl: but most of us back away in embarrassment, hoping we do better next time.
I was interested in practicing with my new gift, strengthening my ability to read people's minds. I began watching as I slowly ate my lunch. At first, I did the sight and sound first, and then did the mind reading afterward. Within a half hour, without making a conscious decision, I was doing them all at the same time. There was no extra effort, a mere glance revealed as much about their mind as it did about their looks. Men, women, old, young, it made no difference. I knew what they were thinking about, their problems, concerns, dreams, hopes and desires. I knew that I could help many of them with my gift.
In those first few days, I learned a lot about people. About one out of every ten had been drinking, enough to affect their personality and thought processes. Neither age nor gender seemed to be a determining factor in this ratio at all.
Another interesting thing was sexual obsession. Men were more frequently obsessed with sex, but the women who were so inclined had much stronger, more consuming obsessions. The men's obsession peaked around seventeen to eighteen, whereas the women didn't peak until around thirty.