Origin of the Playground Warriors

Military recruiting always took place on school playgrounds, during recess. Studies conducted by the military indicated that playground recruiting was less disruptive to the overall learning process for the student population than recruiting during class time.

As a note, the nickname “Playground Warrior,” was originally coined by a ten-year-old student from Indonesia, who was recruited from her school’s playground for combat training. The nickname quickly became popular with the children, who began to use the term interchangeably to describe all children recruited by the military.

Regardless of duty assignment each child was trained with a common purpose in mind; to battle the evil Hydrotian Empire. With no less than the survival of the human race hanging in the balance, the children answered the call to arms. These children from all across the world became the champions of humanity. They were young heroes born at a most desperate time in history. These children of destiny were known as the Playground Warriors.

Part 2: Ian & Jackson Meet The Recruiters

“Recruiter Apprentice McCain, will you please give these gentlemen details?” said the Major.

   “Yes sir!” responded the young Recruiter, opening his blue folder and thumbing the pages for his prefabricated remarks. “I would like to welcome you both to the New World Military and the next class of recruits for the Denver based training school. I’m pleased to report that both of you have received your first choice of preferred duties. After completing basic training in Denver, Jackson Shepherd will remain in Denver to train with the Deep Water Warfare Command. Upon successful completion of the intensive program, including mastery of light weapons, explosives, sniper skills, and hand-to-hand combat, you will be assigned to a Deep Water Warfare Unit. Jackson, you’ve been accepted into the most elite combat training program in the world, Trench Operations.”

   For the first time since birth, Jackson Shepherd was speechless. He glanced nervously at Ian, then quickly back at the two men. Ian could only shake his head in utter disbelief.

   “Ian Thomas,” said the young recruiter, glancing back down at his notes. “Upon completion of basic training in Denver, you will report to specialty school at the flight base in Mexico City. There, you will receive extensive flight training and learn to pilot the Turbo Hydro-Hawk 3000 Combat Fighter Craft.”

   “Mr. Thomas,” interjected the Ager Major, “I understand you may already know someone who’s pretty handy in the cockpit of a Hydro-Hawk?”

   “Yes sir, my older sister, Sofia Ann,” replied Ian, proudly. “The Trenchers don’t like her much.”

   The Major smiled and nodded at Ian, approving. “Gentlemen, are there any questions, so far?” asked the Major.

   “No, sir!”, the two boys answered emphatically and in unison.

   “Very good then,” said the Major, shifting his weight, slightly grimacing as he turned toward the parking lot. “As is customary, Recruiter Apprentice McCain and I will drive you both to your homes, giving you the rest of the day to prepare for transport pickup early tomorrow morning. I highly recommend you read the pre-basic training packets Recruiter Apprentice McCain has for you. The packets contain very useful information about training.”

   Ian and Jackson shook their heads, trying to appear as if they were actually listening to the Major’s instructions. Both boys were still mentally processing the fact that they’d been recruited.

   “So,” the Major continued, “while you both gather any personal items from your classroom, the Recruiter Apprentice and I will wait for you both in the truck.”

   Ian and Jackson exchanged high-fives, watching as the men inched toward the parking lot. Mrs. Campbell, who had remained silent throughout the entire recruiting scene, held out her arms and pulled the boys close. She began to hug the boys quite firmly.

   “Hope you don’t get any of my blood on your sweater, Mrs. Campbell,” said Ian, contorting his eyes, peeking above the bear hugging arms, searching for blood on the white sweater.

   Jackson giggled under his breath, remembering how Ian bloodied his face minutes ago in the midair collision with big Robert.

   “Don’t worry about mussing this old sweater, son,” replied Mrs. Campbell, squeezing the boys even more tightly. “I want you both to know how proud I am. You will both do so well. I just know it. Please come see me when you can.”

   The boys escorted Mrs. Campbell to the classroom one final time. Mrs. Campbell took a towel from her cabinet, allowing the water from the faucet to warm. She wet the soft towel with the warm water and began to scrub the dried blood from Ian’s face. Jackson helped by standing behind Mrs. Campbell, making goofy faces at Ian. Jackson loved to make Ian laugh. This time Ian smiled, but closed his eyes. He was enjoying the pampering Mrs. Campbell was providing. As she rubbed the warm towel across Ian’s face, he was reminded of his mother. This was something his kind mother would have done for him.

Part 3: Ian & Jackson Meet The Recruiters

     The boys said their final goodbyes to Mrs. Campbell then jogged toward the parking lot. They first saw Recruiter Apprentice McCain standing beside the opened rear door of the truck. He nodded at the two boys as they hurried into the back seat. The Ager Major was already slumped over in the front passenger seat, asleep and snoring heavily. The boys glanced uncomfortably at the young recruiter, who was now leaning toward them through the rear door.

   “He snored the entire trip from Denver,” whispered the young recruiter, sniggering quietly. “He sounded like a friggin’ chainsaw, but it’s better than hearing him talk.”

   Ian and Jackson covered their mouths with their hands, trying to be as quiet as possible as their bodies shook with laughter. The last thing they wanted was to wake the Major from his slumber. The young recruiter gently pushed the rear truck door shut and climbed into the driver’s seat. As the recruiter apprentice had already experienced, the Major responded to the sound of the shutting truck door with a couple sharp, pig-snorting sounds, then shifted his weight, still fast asleep.

“Here piggy, piggy,” whispered Jackson, leaning toward Ian’s ear.

Ian shook violently with laughter, burying his face against the back seat of the truck, shaking his head for his friend to stop trying to make him laugh. Luckily, the hum of the truck engine helped the Major remain fast asleep.  

   A few minutes later the truck arrived at Jackson’s house. The young recruiter gave both boys thick packets of paperwork and explained the importance of reading and understanding the information.

“These are your pre-basic training packets,” said the young recruiter, quite serious. “Everything that will happen at Basic is inside these packets.”

   Ian and Jackson understood. They shook their heads confidently and jumped out of the truck. The Ager Major awakened just long enough to wish the boys well, then nodded off to sleep once again. Ian and Jackson exchanged fist bumps as they watched the truck pull away.

   “See you bright and early in the a.m., Bloober!” exclaimed Jackson, executing an upside-down salute.

   “Yeah, see you in the morning,” Ian said, returning the goofy salute. “Hey! Don’t forget to read your packet. I don’t want you to screw anything up on your first day.”

   “Man, that’s for sure,” Jackson chuckled, opening the front door of his house. “We’ll be kicking some Trencher butt in no time!”

   Ian jogged down the street and unlocked the door of his own house. He placed his old school supplies and the thick packet of military papers on the kitchen table, then grabbed a drink from the refrigerator. He couldn’t wait to share his big recruiting news with his mother.

Part 1: Ian & Jackson Meet The Recruiters

    For Ian and Jackson, what had been a blissful celebration of their hard-fought victory in the football game was quickly replaced by an uneasy feeling in the pits of their stomachs. Merely hearing their teacher’s voice blaring their names from across the playground was enough to change the mood.

    As is usually the case with most fifth graders, the boys wondered what they could have possibly done to cause the teacher to summon them during recess. Both boys soon realized there was no way to avoid the teacher without creating further problems and reacted accordingly, by having a foot race.

   Ian took an immediate lead, after shoving Jackson playfully into the crowd of teammates. Jackson enjoyed a brief chuckle, then took off in fast pursuit. It wasn’t long before Jackson’s long stride caught Ian and passed him like he was enjoying a leisurely stroll in the park. Jackson even took the time to tap Ian on the shoulder and wave as he zipped by. Both boys cackled out loud, gasping for air as they hurried toward the school.

    Mrs. Campbell found it remarkable that the boys had any energy to run after playing in the football game. The two recruiters simply grinned as they watched the race unfold, almost as if they’d placed a wager on the outcome.

    Jackson arrived a couple steps ahead of the bloody-faced Ian. Both boys immediately rested their hands upon their knees, filling their lungs with deep breathes of the fresh Colorado air. The boys glanced at each other. Jackson raised his eyebrows a couple of times and grinned, making certain Ian was aware of his superior speed. Ian smirked, shaking his head and rolling his eyes in response.

    “Goodness, child, you’re bleeding everywhere. Are you alright?” asked Mrs. Campbell, concerned, holding Ian’s chin in her hand.

    “Oh, yes ma’am, I’m fine. I’m not even bleeding anymore. It’s all dried up. See?” replied Ian, brushing his hand across his face, then showing the palm of his hand to the teacher.

    Mrs. Campbell whimpered something unintelligible, then smiled softly through her pursed lips. “Boys, these gentlemen are here to visit with you,” said Mrs. Campbell, turning quite dry, emotionless.

    In all the grand excitement of the foot race the boys hadn’t noticed the two military men standing beside Mrs. Campbell. A dozen thoughts raced through the boys’ heads as they stared at the two men, none of which included being recruited. Ian immediately thought the men had news about his sister, Sofia Ann.

    “Hello, gentlemen, I’m Major Ryan and this is Recruiter Apprentice McCain,” said the Major. “First of all, congratulations on your victory! That was quite a football game.”

    The two boys nodded with appreciation, then executed one last celebratory fist bump before turning their attention back to the Major.

    “We’re with the 4th Recruiting Regiment for the New World Military,” continued the Ager Major, “and we’re here to inform you both of your acceptable scores on the military test battery. I’d like to be the first to welcome you as recruits to the New World Military.”