A Hero's Death - Terminator
Kyle Reese sighed and leaned his head against the concrete wall of the barracks. Living in the time he did, he should have been used to it by now: the fighting, the machines, the constant fear, for everyone around.
It was only the great John Connor that kept everything from falling apart, and even he had to work hard to keep everyone from panicking and getting killed. Although he'd only met the great leader once, this much he knew.
John Connor was a legend. A hero. The kind of man that stories were created around, myths and ballads created for. Whether it was his escape from a SkyNet prison camp or his daring rescue of a half dozen trapped soldiers, John Connor would never be forgotten.
As a child of twelve, Kyle had already done more than kids who had lived before Judgement Day had. At least according to Kyle's father. Kyle knew how to make bombs, how to reload his gun as quickly as possible, how to fight, how to survive, and how to spot a terminator. Twelve-year-old kids before Judgement Day worried about schoolwork and crushes, and getting out of school. Kyle had never been to school, and never would be. He had learned to read from his mother, and some simple math and other useful information, but he would never learn about biology, algebra, or physics.
Kyle's brother, Derek, was just as skilled as he was, and their father said that they would become great soldiers. Sometimes he looked sad as he said that. Kyle's mother said it was because their father wished they could have gone to school and had the chance to do whatever they wanted with their lives. Instead, they were automatically drafted into the fight against the machines.
Now, as Kyle waited for his father to return from the scouting mission he and a few others, including the great John Connor, had gone on, Kyle thought of his first and probably only meeting with John Connor.
Far from being perfect, Connor was older than Kyle expected, and when he saw Kyle and learned his name, he seemed sad.
"Hi, Gen'ral Connor," was all Kyle could think of to say.
"Hello, Kyle," said Connor, a note of sadness punctuating his voice. Neither Kyle nor his family understood why.
Derek had told him later that he sounded like an idiot – Kyle, that is, not Connor. "That was all you could come up with to say? 'Hi, General Connor'?"
Kyle snapped at him, "Shut up."
Now, the brothers waited anxiously for their father to return. Their mother sat with them, drilling Kyle on various pieces of information. Derek listened to his mother's voice and his brother's answers.
The sounds of gunfire and bombs were heard in the distance. Kyle's mother was worried, Kyle could tell, despite what she told them. Derek tried not to think, but Kyle could sense his tension too.
Their father was with General Connor, and they should have been back by now. Kyle tried to tell himself that General Connor wouldn't let anything befall his men. He was too good, too smart, and much too quick for the machines.
There were footsteps and then sounds of metal on metal. Kyle jumped up and ran out into the passageway – they were back.
The soldiers walked back to their barracks, and their families. Derek was right behind Kyle, their mother not far behind.
The men walked past them, going to their wives and sons and daughters. General Connor locked the door – a gesture more than anything; a terminator could rip the door off its hinges if it wished. Kyle felt as if Derek had suddenly kicked his feet out from under him. But he hadn't. Kyle was still standing.
Their father was not there.
Connor walked slowly down the passageway, and when he saw the Connors, watching him, he hung his head and said softly, "I'm sorry, Mrs. Reese, Kyle, Derek." He took a deep breath, and Kyle struggled to retain his composure. He would not cry in front of General Connor.
"He died saving my life. I won't forget that. I owe him my life. He died a hero's death."
Mrs. Reese began to cry. She wrapped her arms around her sons from behind. Kyle felt as if a terminator had him by the throat. As he watched Connor trudge away, he recalled Connor's words: "He died a hero's death."