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  1. Hairo Blanco was born in the Sucre municipality, department of Cáuca, Colombia on the 15 of august, 1988. His father Aparicio Blanco and his mother Luznelda Restrepo baptized him the 9th of September, in the small parroquia of San Judas Tadeo, to a small crowd of 10 family members and friends. His first memory was waking up to the inhuman screams of his father’s favourite horse “Morito”, who died that night due the wounds left by the lightning bolt that broke their Araguaney tree in half. Being the son of 3rd generation farmers, and the oldest of 3 children, Hairo was prepared to take up the family farm since a noticeably young age. It was an odd day when he did not have dirty hands from helping his father with the chores of the farm, and while his was not a life of luxury, his mother always told him that if he worked hard with his father, maybe his younger sister would be able to study in the University of Popayán one day, so he paid little attention to school and more to the fields and the crops. The day he turned 9 years old, sometime after lunch, 10 men and women dressed in camouflage appeared outside his family home. He remembers his father with a grim expression walking to meet the strangers, and his mother’s hands holding him back and blocking his vision with her dress. When he heard the first shot, he did not understood what it was, the deafening sound seemed to reverberate through the fields and the muffled scream of his mother sounded erratic and far away from him, then he saw his father in the muddied ground, holding his stomach and making a similar sound to the one morito had made some years ago. They took him, his brother, and his sister, put them in a truck with 10 other children and rode into the jungle. The road disappeared after 3 days, and the humidity and the insects gave Hairo’s sister a cold that took her in her sleep the week after, his brother survived the training with him, but died a few months later disarming an IED. After a few beatings and hungry nights, Hairo learned that if he did what he was told, even if the things he did turned his stomach, he would be left alone. After the nightmares about his father and the cries of morito left him, he would wake up in the middle of the night, sweating bullets, thinking the platoon had left him in the middle of the jungle alone. The only one that took care of him those nights at the beginning was a sergeant named Daniel, he was 10 years Hairo’s senior but he was kind when other were not, sadly he was transferred to another platoon soon after, but Hairo never lost contact with him throughout the years The commanders told them daily that they were fighting for the freedom of the Colombian people, that their sacrifices helped the cause and that the people in the cities were going to wake up soon and help them in the revolution, Hairo just did what he was told and repeated what the commanders said, but the words did not have any meaning to him, he just wanted to eat and live to see another day. During his time in the FARC Guerrilla, Hairo learned how to look for and disarm mines, how to shoot, improvise explosives and how to stay undetected. From time to time the commanders brought people that would teach them how to fight to kill or how-to highjack a vehicle, one of them said he was called Baruj, he was a short a pale guy who seemed to be drowning in the heat of the jungle but when he fought, there were no people in the platoon who could stop him. Baruj also taught them things he sometimes tries to forget, like how long does it take for a grown man to break after losing a few nails, how to kill with only a few pounds of pressure to the neck and specially, how to do it silently, in case you are trapped behind enemy lines. He left after a few months and Hairo never saw him again. From time to time, there were nights when he let his mind slip away whilst dangling in his chinchorro. He would remember things, small ones, like the taste of the ajiaco his mother used to make, the starchy smell of the potatos in the water, the laughter of his siblings and the deep but kind voice of his father, but when the pain was too much to bear, he would force the thoughts away, either by concentrating in his tasks or with pain, self-inflicted or otherwise. In the end he decided there was no use for memories anymore, only survival. In the jungle there was little room for enjoyment, but when there was, Hairo would take full advantage of it, especially if the ladies in the platoon were enjoying too. Intimacy was a good stress reliever, but the command advised not forming attachments that could hinder their performance on the battlefield so Hairo never did, and if there were any possible pregnancies as a result there was mandatory policy of terminating them. One day, after many years, the patrols started to get shorter and the marches started to last more than usual. Then the other platoons started to disappear more often, some would never return to report, and the commanders started to talk in whispers to one another. The radio comms started to be more spaced in time, till one day, one of the sergeants came to talk to us, he said that UN and the Colombian Government were taking people like us back, that if we gave them our guns and surrender ourselves, we could go back to our lives. Hairo honestly felt confused and ashamed when he heard this, since everything he’d known since he could remember had been the Guerrilla, and it never occurred to him the possibility of returning to a normal life, but when he saw that most of his platoon were planning on surrendering, the thought of being left alone in the jungle was just too much. Hairo returned to Sucre in July of 2007. After being processed, vaccinated, and given some ID papers, the doctor that examined him in the UN camp gave him enough money to take a bus back home, and when he arrived at his farm, he found his mother hanging some clothes outside the rancho. When she saw him, it took her a while to recognize this strange man that appeared all of the sudden. Then her eyes widened, and she started crying and running to meet him, Hairo received his mother’s hug once again, in the middle of the dirt road that took him from her so many years ago, but He was not the same kid that hid behind her skirt, He returned to his mother irreversibly changed. Hairo found the farm changed, repaired and pristine, with new equipment, and inside the house he found another man sitting in his father’s chair, and 2 teens watching cartoons on the TV. Luznelda shared with him the details of his father’s death, how he drowned in his own blood before arriving to the Popayán Hospital and explained the fear and solitude that came after. But she also told Hairo how she met Rodrigo soon after, and how he saved the farm, put food on the table and how both fell in love. Luznelda had lost a family, but managed to create another in Hairo’s absence, even so she insisted that any son of hers was welcomed to stay in the house. At first Hairo did not know how to react in front of his stepfather and his new brothers, but soon after he found himself back into routine, helping Rodrigo with the farm and playing with the kids. The nightmares did not come until a few months later, and after an outburst of violence or two in the local bar and some liberal use of the stock of his gun, Hairo knew there was no way back to civil life in his future. For a moment he considered going back to the Jungle, but since risking his life was the only thing he knew how to do, he though: might as well get paid this time. So he packed the few things he had and on the 23rd of February 2008, less than a full year since he came back to his family, he left home again, this time looking for a new battleground on his own volition. Some of the people that he fought with had opted joining the military, although only the ones that were not recruited at the age Hairo was were accepted due to UN regulations, but he figured they might have something for him to do in the Quarter, or they might know someone that could make use of a decent Soldier. Upon arrival he found his fried Daniel getting ready to leave with his new platoon of green ones, after the expected pleasantries Daniel told him he would have a busy day, and then asked him if he wanted to tag along, he could just jump in the RV with them. Hairo learned then that a large chunk of F.A.R.C occupied territory had been vacated and they were tasked with cleaning duty (clearing equipment and supplies left behind). Upon arrival, Hairo noticed a bunch of “gringos” in tactical clothing patrolling the zone together with the military, Daniel told him that they employed Mercenaries from time to time, when they were being stretched too thin. Apparently, they had found a few active mines on the area and they were waiting for the Bomb squad to continue with the mission, Daniel Jokingly said that Hairo used to do that sort of thing with some plyers and a knife, and that they would not loose time on this thing if he were in the Army, to which Hairo responded with a different question: how much? After some banter Hairo agreed to disarm the mine for 20 USD, and he did it, with minimal equipment and even less safety to the dismay of some of the mercenaries. Some however were impressed with Hairo’s disregard for his own life, and how he literally sold himself cheap. One of the Mercenaries said that they needed a bomb disposal expert, said his name was Ratko Brankovic of the Chernoruska Komunisticka Fronta (CKF), and if he needed some work they would be happy to count with him. Hairo could barely pronounce the name of the company or his new boss’s, but he soon was welcomed by all. Ratko was tough but fair and rewarded loyalty and bravery above all, it was not long before Hairo found a father figure in him. The CKF took him all around the world, making several tours in Afghanistan and Libya, training troops, and fighting for whomever paid best. Years passed in the blink of an eye, and the CKF was contracted to train Soldiers in anti-insurgency operations during the 2018 frenzied flu outbreak in Chernarus. The years in Chernarus were difficult, originally in the business of training, the authorities later required field operations, and as the country’s infrastructure crumbled around them so did the company’s cohesion, if it weren’t for the moral support and camaraderie of the company’s priest Zarko (aka pop), Hairo’s resolve would have faulter, especially due to the inhuman cold that his commander’s country ironically called “weather”. The CKF was shrinking dangerously and the government of the area seemed to have almost no control of the situation, then around December 2020, Ratko took him and some of the other lieutenants of the company aside and proposed a solution: to take what they could take and escape, hunker down and come back strong when the disaster had passed, Hairo never questioned his commander’s decisions and he sure was not going to start then. They stole a couple Mi-8s and took to the skies, but when everything seemed to go smoothly, things took a turn to the worse and the Helicopter’s plummeted to the grown. The same luck that saved Hairo during his time in the jungle intervened again, but now he is alone, in a strange country trying to find his company, or what’s left of it.
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