Full Summary: (Prequel to Won't Back Down) Melody Johnston lived a long hard life with her father, but now it was her time to move on from being 'Daddy's precious weapon' and on to bigger things. When the day of her graduation comes, she finds that she must shed her old life when General Shepherd comes to take her away and train her for war. Melody figures this to be nothing new and that she'll most likely end up dying any other way, but when she was placed in Shepherd's personal squad, she finds that all of this is false. Along with Sergeant Ronan Clarke, Lieutenant Shaun Blakely, Private Steven Parks, and Corporal Mallory Gestring, she fights behind the scenes of the first Modern Warfare story, beginning her own story as an unknown soldier under Shepherd's command.
Sudden story inspiration: Hero of War by Rise Against. It's an amazing song and just made me really want to write about the unknown story of how Melody rose quickly in the ranks and why she's so full of and so bitter in the beginning of Won't Back Down.
Okay, now on to the story! Hope you enjoy and please leave me a completely 100% honest review! Thanks for actually stopping by, also!
General Benjamin Johnston walked down the long, waxed floors of the hallways that he had once called his sanctuary. The walls were their usual light green color, showing the right emotion of every living soul in the establishment. Complete and utter depression and often the lust of somehow and someday leaving the cursed place and let it be a simple memory of the past that they wished they could erase from their minds. But, those dreams were simply that; dreams. The reality of the situation of each resident of the so-called academy was either the child was an orphan or unwanted or simply sent to be taught discipline and responsibility. Sometimes, that meant the hard way. Well, for some at least. Some had to endure harsh punishments for slacking off or simply running late for classes or any sort of tests. Benjamin thought these academic activities to be of great importance and found that any child was slacking off or insisting to be uncooperative surely to be punished and see the light of this situation. He usually had this problem most with one boy named Leon Childers. He was quite rebellious and thought the academy was Hell on Earth. Well, he most likely wasn't the only one.
They guessed that the boy had either been removed from the premises or simply ran away. He secretly wondered whatever happened to the young man and what had become of him. He sighed softly to himself as he passed a busy-looking Charlene Roberts as she tackled file work and also continued a conversation via Bluetooth. He shook his head with slight shame as he thought about how ridiculous the woman looked as she loudly spoke to the piece in her ear and rounded a corner that led to his office. She must've had something for him or one of the others since she was far too caught up in what she was doing to notice that they were two feet away just seconds ago. He quickly pulled away the thought as a new one approached his mind. Everything seemed so calm and tranquil when things were actually going to be completely different after today.
The familiar silence followed him as he strode about the hallway, passing door after door that held some kind of class. There were some that walked down the halls and would halt in their steps to give a salute to the retired General that he only acknowledged with a simple nod of his head and continued on his way. There was something much more important to him at the moment then pursuing his usual morning activities of checking each and every class to make sure things were running smoothly.
Lieutenant General Shepherd had made an early arrival to take the now eighteen year old Melody M. Johnston. She had received the needed training and healthy diagnostics to meet Shepherd's standards. Before, he would come any time he could to check on their secret weapon. Anytime he was there, he'd be so quick to fill her with anger and hatred that he knew would make her dangerous. She was the perfect solider in his eyes, but nothing special in anyone else's. They just thought of her as the spoiled brat who got her way in the snap of a finger.
Shepherd, always hungry to see her growing strengths and techniques, would always mention her past. Most likely her mother and saying something about her that would set her off since the slightest thing always light her fuse, so to speak. He knew the young woman was full of rage that was undoubtedly stored inside her from years and years of her trials and training. Though some of his own men thought it to be a bad idea that he tried to set the girl on the very urge of murder, no one stopped him. He was a General after all. They thought that he must've been doing this for benefit for the soldiers.
Of those that had known of this young woman joining his hand-picked squad, they hated the idea of it. The others that had already been picked and accepted were skilled and experienced with years of knowledge gained from participating on the battlefield. She was just a recent graduate who promised great training and skills. But, no matter how impressive her profile could have been, the others didn't like it because she had no experience with real war and battle. She was used to training and given a second chance to scrape off any rust that she had gained; it was the complete opposite on the field. The enemy wouldn't be caught dead giving her a second shot or a second more to live if they had been caught spotting her.
Benjamin scoffed thinking of it though it secretly bothered him to imagine Melody running along her squad mates; stumbling and forcing herself to be faster as the others passed her, focused solely on their target. Though some may offer her a hand up, he knew that she would be left if she was seen slacking off or looking around as if everything was just a dream. They hadn't any time to protect the private that acted as if the life was the dream.
Benjamin's thoughts were cut short when he saw his old friend, Lieutenant Thomas Scott. They had served together until they were forced to separate when he received his injury that put an early end to his military career. He was just as he had remembered him years before; ink black hair that was neatly combed back, sprinkled with newly grey hairs, vivid blue eyes that seemed like they could see through a brick wall. His facial features had changed some because he had noticed a small, light pink scar against his lower jaw-line, just an inch away from the corner of his mouth. He had also gained some facial hair stubble that made Benjamin guess that he had retired not too long ago.
He felt his thin lips stretch in a hearty grin as he further approached the man. Thomas returned his welcoming grin with a smile revealing spotless white, but slightly crooked teeth.
"Thomas! What are you doing here?" He said pleasantly shocked as he reached out to grab the hand outstretched to him. Thomas was one of few of Shepherd's trusted, right-hand men and he had last seen him when Melody was just fourteen when they had come to make arrangements regarding her future and their promise with the military.
He smiled at his old friend and embraced him with a small hug before pulling back and answering his question.
"Well, I assume you know that it's that day again. Taking in new recruits. I heard that it was finally your kid's time to take that long drive so I had asked Shepherd if I could tag along. I thought it would maybe give Melody an easier time seeing an old familiar face guide her along. And of course I had to see how this old dog was doing!" He said trying his best to explain his presence in a short story and smiled referring to his old friend once again.
Benjamin forced a smile when he then again thought about Melody permanently leaving the academy which he couldn't help but think for the last time. He had doubts of her returning, but he tried to keep that to himself.
"Well, I'm glad you could make it. I suppose it will be good for her to start off this experience with someone familiar, but she will undoubtedly end up meeting new people and mentors to help rear her up through her career," He said matter-of-factly as memories of his first few years came to mind once again.
They began to walk the rest of the way towards the back parking lot where he knew Shepherd must've been waiting for the two to come out, Melody in close range.
There was silence between them as they walked down the long, vacant hallway apart from the academy. The flooring had switched to a black and white tiling that greatly resembled a checker board and lightly-peeling white walls encased them as their shoes echoed around them and ricocheted back to their ears.
"Which reminds me, where is your daughter? I hope you don't think that I'm trying to barge in and snatch Melody away from you so quickly, it's just that Shepherd and I are on a tight schedule and it's urgent that we make it on time," He said finally breaking the ice between them as he cleared his throat, thoughtfully taking note that there seemed to be no sort of decoration on the walls as they continued slowly down the narrow hall.
Benjamin's mouth got dry as he thought about his daughter being absent on this day. He was at first angry with her being late since she knew perfectly well that this was the day, but then he had thought about how she must've been nervous and maybe even frightened that the day had come so quickly. He couldn't blame her; he had felt the same way ever since Melody was born. The fear of losing her so quickly.
He scolded himself as he knew Thomas was patiently waiting for his answer and still sat there staring ahead of them, sweat beading on his brow.
"You'll have to forgive me for not making sure she had come home at the right time. I had specifically told her to come straight home after her graduation ceremony and spare no time to see any of her classmates for that would just waste perfectly good time," He paused to sigh at her as he thought about the outcome of the order and continued, "She's always been so stubborn. I would say that she got it from her mother, but she had been rather calm and understanding and actually obedient," He said as he thought about his late wife, a smile stretching across his lips without his control.
Thomas looked over, catching the man's thoughtless grin at the mention of his wife. He arched an eyebrow simply as his own grin tugged at the corner of his lip as he thought about how he hadn't seen his old friend smile in such the longest time.
"Well, I certainly hope she makes it back soon. Shepherd wouldn't be so happy to drop all his time for her even if he is anxious to start her training," He said trying to move the topic of the conversation back to the matter at hand.
Benjamin shook his head slightly as if to shake away the memories and looked at his friend with an inner-questioning look and simply nodded, "Oh yes, definitely," He said trying to recollect what he had just said exactly, but just shoved the manner aside.
Zachary awkwardly bit at the corner of his lip as he tried to help his friend remove the ugly golden yellow graduation robe from her shoulders as she fidgeted around and wiggled to help the process of removing the robe easier and less awkward for her close friend.
His heart raced as he noticed that her shirt had caught onto some of the thread inside the robe and the tail began to lift as she began to simply toss it over her head. He blushed slightly when he saw the clasp in the back of her bra. He and Melody had been friends since they were little, but it was weird seeing her that way. He thought it like seeing his own sister with only half her shirt on. He shivered at the thought with a disgusted look.
Melody blushed when she felt a breeze tickle her bare back and she ignored the robe and immediately reached back to pull her shirt tail down to cover her back as she finally removed the robe from her. She took a quick look down to take a small note in her appearance. Though the others took a more serious note into the occasion and put on their best clothing, Melody just wore a simple purple T-shirt with white long-sleeves, her favorite pair of blue jeans that had been the victim of hers, Becca's, and even Zachary's boredom and was sketched with random doodles and sayings that had popped into their minds. She wore her matching pair of Converse that had been written and drawn on by multi-colored permanent markers.
She chuckled under her breath as she saw the familiar words written on her left shoe, courtesy of Becca: This person is owned by Becca Price. An arrow was angled upwards symbolizing to her. She sighed as she thought about her old friend who had moved because of Price's sudden "career" changes and lived in a small town in the U.K. Rachel, her mother and Price's wife, had told her that Becca was actually thinking about joining the Navy Seals once she reached the right age, but she hadn't heard any recent news of that matter.
Her thoughts were briefly changed when she heard Zachary speak beside her, placing his old, familiar head phones across his neck, music softly hammering against the speakers. She could tell that it was the song from an old movie they had used to watch every single Halloween; this is Halloween. She was honestly surprised to see that that was the first song that had popped into his mind about the event. She shrugged; he was always a pretty strange kid.
"Hey, Mel, did you ever tell Bec about that tattoo you got the other day?" He said remembering the day she got it and when he had spotted it when the robe caught her shirt and revealed it once again.
Melody grinned, "Naw, she'd have a complete heart attack if I told her that. You know how she is with tattoos," Melody said narrowing her eyes with an amused grin.
Zachary rolled his eyes slightly thinking of their old friend, "Yeah...Have you heard anything from her? I mean, she went like, completely under the radar. She sent me an email once saying that she's barely allowed on the computer and they took her phone away. I made a remark about how I was surprised that they took princess's toys away and haven't heard from her since," Zachary said remembering the girl's rant about how they, Price and Rachel, were being way too strict with her for not doing her usual chores for a couple of days and she was only allowed a thirty minute limit on either her phone or laptop once a day. He didn't think that would upset her since he and Melody always jokingly called her a princess before.
Melody chuckled and stepped back once to keep in step with Zachary as they exited the back alleyway they had been removing the gown from and were now walking along the sidewalk of an old bookstore in town.
"Who knows what's with her. You know how she can be sometimes. She'll probably simmer down in a day or so and be our favorite little princess once again," Melody said tucking her hands in her jean pockets and slowly walked with Zachary.
Her long brown hair blew in her face as cars whizzed by and Zachary looked as though something was disturbing him, but wouldn't say. She knew Zachary to always be like that; always keeping his thoughts inside whenever he thought he should. Although, whenever he thought he shouldn't say anything was usually the time he really should and this unnerved her. What was he keeping from her?
"Zach, you have that face again. What's wrong?" She asked looking up at him as they slowly made their way across the crosswalk on the vacant highway.
He was silent and hesitant for a moment, unsure of what he should say. He had kept it bundled up inside him since he heard of her news, but each day that grew closer and closer made him want to explode and the questions that circled his mind never ceased but grew louder.
"Are you going to die, Mells? I'm sorry if it doesn't sound like I have any confidence in you but, you're young and you're most likely to die out there. I don't want that to happen," Zachary finally said, halting in front of the stop sign as he looked straight down at her, looking into her eyes, trying not yell.
Melody was taken aback by his question and yes, she was a little offended that her closest friend doubted her survival, but she decided not to show it.
"I've trained for this since I was four, Zach, you know that. I'm capable of this. Yes, I'm going to receive even more training from General Shepherd or whoever he have train me, but I'm ready for this. Matter of fact, I want this," Melody said removing her hands from her pockets to hide them once again as she crossed her arms across her chest.
Zachary let out an aggravated growl which threw Melody off, he never growled unless he was furious, "Melody! You're eighteen! You don't even have to be doing this! Legally, you're an adult! You get to decide for yourself what you want to do after graduation! You said it yourself the other night that you had no choice when it came to joining the Army. Now you do and you're just blowing it away!" Zachary argued, unbelieving that this is what Melody seriously wanted right now.
Melody was partially mad at him now, "Zach! I have no choice! Even if I wanted to go to college or move out or whatever, I couldn't! I chose not even set my hopes up on that false future because Shepherd is probably at home waiting for me right now! You just can't ditch a General, Zach! I mean, it's like illegal or something!" Melody said now becoming frantic for an explanation to why she couldn't say no.
"What are you even talking about, Melody!" Zachary yelled back completely confused.
"Oh, I don't know! I don't fucking know right now!" Melody yelled back throwing her arms in the air and letting her hands land on her face, trying to rub away the stress she was feeling now.
There was a moment of silence between the two as they both tried to cool down once they saw some of the shoppers around town staring at them. They knew they shouldn't be fighting at a time like this, but it was also the perfect time to release anger and true thoughts. She was leaving for a long time anyway.
Zachary glanced around at those staring at them and they suddenly found the store in front of them much more interesting than the scene that Zachary and Melody were causing.
Melody felt like on the edge of tears as their awkward silence was suddenly interrupted by Zachary's sudden chuckle.
Melody looked past her fingers to see Zachary's child-like face return to normal as a wide smile was stretched across his lips. Just this simple sight made a smile of her own appear on her face. Within a moment's time, they were both laughing at themselves and their little argument hysterically.
"What are we even doing? We're arguing like little kids," Melody said as they continued walking, side hurting from laughing.
Zachary just continued smiling and softly chuckling as he answered her, "I don't even know anymore. Seems like the older we get, the more we change. In our case, just stranger," He joked as he glanced down at her face, smile stuck on his lips.
Zach's words struck a memory in her head and she snapped her fingers and immediately spun around to him, stopping him in the middle of the sidewalk, "Oh, hey! Do you still have that pocket knife your Grandpa gave you?" She asked arching her brows.
The smile faded away and his brow furrowed in curiosity and slight worry, "Yeah…Why do you want it?" He asked hesitantly as he placed a hand on his back pocket.
"You'll see. C'mon, it'd be weird if I did it out in the open," She said glancing around looking for a suitable spot to begin her task.
Zachary worried that she was planning something risky with his pocket knife like she always did. She always ended up causing some kind of trouble for him and herself. He scoffed to himself when he remembered Becca's constant scolding after she did the mischief.
She grabbed his wrist and pulled him behind a store and into the back corner of a partially vacant parking lot. An old gray Oldsmobile and a pile of shattered glass from beer bottles seemed to inhabit the empty lot. She made a motion to give him the pocket knife and he hesitantly took it from his pocket.
He quickly moved it from her reach when she swooped in to grab it, "You're going to cut yourself or something, right? I mean, I know you've been upset since Margaret was fired and Becca left, but still," He said worried about his friend's psychological condition.
Melody just arched a brow and rolled her eyes, "Really, Zach? You'd think I do that?" She inquired in a low tune, clearly finding it amusing that he actually thought she was going to do that.
"Well, like you said when we were younger, people change," He said defensively and shrugged his shoulders, unsure of how to get passed this awkward tension he had created. He was always good about that.
She waved off that moment and took the knife from him, "Well, I will be cutting, but not in the way you'd think," She said circling the knife around her fingers, giving him a wry smile as she then clutched onto the handle.
Zach's eyebrows lifted in curiosity as she took a strand on her long brown locks and pushed it gently against the recently sharpened knife. He then realized what she was doing once he saw her wavy lock curl up and float to the ground.
"Whoa, what are you doing?" He asked holding up a hand towards her hair.
"I'm just cutting my hair, Zach. I figured the other night that I'd end up having to wear my hair in that tight bun you usually see women in and you know how I personally just hate that hairstyle. Always gives me headaches, but anyway, I figured it just be easier if I didn't even have to worry about my hair. Also, I always wondered what it was like to have guy hair. Dad was always like 'It isn't lady-like or proper for a girl your age to chop your hair off like that' all that shit, so it was also a way to say I'm evolving into a new person. An older Melody, perhaps?" She said with an amused tone as she continued, carefully, cutting her long brown locks.
Zach just eyed her strangely, "I'll never understand you, Melman," He said with a tired sigh and looked around to see if anyone was watching.
Melody just stuck her tongue out at him playfully when the use of her old nickname came up in the conversation. She remembered the origin of that name; oh-so long ago, it seemed. It was when they first met when Melody turned five, a year after she first moved into the academy with her father. It was her first day of kindergarten and Zach was the first one to really approach her that day after snack time, messy brown spikes and wild green eyes so vibrant with life. They had to be quiet during story time when they really introduced themselves to each other and they whispered very softly to each other. For Zachary, it was just a simple 'Zach' and easy to hear, but Melody had been too quiet when introducing herself.
Zachary had mistaken her and thought she said her name was Melman instead of the soft-spoken Melody. Ever since then Zachary would call her Melman for the kick of it. As they grew older, a simple 'Mel' would soon replace Melman, but every now and then he would let that kid inside him resurface and playfully call her Melman.
They stood there for a long while as Melody continually ran the knife through her hair, making sure she didn't cut her finger in the process, but when she finally finished, she placed the knife in Zach's hand.
She immediately noticed the difference as she stepped away from him, running a hand through the invisible locks. She felt around her neck and felt the spiked edges from her unprofessional job, but as she looked in the glass window of the store, she frowned with approval.
"Not too bad, if I say so myself," She said lightly complimenting her work.
"Damn, Melman…Would it be weird if I said you look like me, but, you know, without the green eyes," He said admiring the automatic change in appearance.
"Actually, yeah, it is," She paused for a moment as Zach chuckled and they continued walking, "Well, I just can't wait to see Dad's face when he sees new me. I actually really like it. Very cool and comfortable! I should've graduated earlier," She said with an approving tone, continuing to run a hand down the parting, admiring the lack of hair.
Zachary rolled his eyes at her and tucked the knife carefully back in his pocket, "Yeah, well, you'll get your chance. We should be back there in like, five minutes," He said looking up at the old store sign that they had used as a symbol since they were younger to show that they were close to the academy.
"You ready for this?" Zach asked returning to a serious tone like had before, looking down at her with a concerned expression.
It took her a moment to answer. Nerves, fear, and excitement were knots in her stomach as they continued walking. She was glad to finally be rid of her father and finally have something of meaning in her life, but she was also worried about the people she was leaving behind. Margaret had been fired for lying about Melody sneaking out with Darren when she was fourteen and soon after that she married her fiancée'. Melody hadn't seen her in nearly four years. Becca, Price, and Rachel were all gone too so that meant no good-byes from her best friend and practically sister, from her father-figure, or from her mother-figure.
The only person she really cared about that was there with her was Zachary and she didn't want to let go of him. He was like a big brother to her and she had grown to love him like one. How would she cope with his absence? Maybe he was right about some things; she wasn't ready for battle yet. She knew that if she was immediately deployed for battle, she would surely die and never even get to speak to any of her friends or extended family again. Never get to tell them how she really felt about all of them.
Melody sighed and tried not to think of that, "I guess I don't have a choice whether I'm ready or not. I'm weapon to Dad and Shepherd, remember?" She said adding venom to her words when it came to Shepherd.
Zachary took that as a sign to cease that conversation immediately. He knew how she felt about that man and how she didn't trust him. He sighed as they continued walking silently. Now terrified of what the future hold them as they grew closer to the academy; SUV waiting for her in the parking lot.