Well, I've updated Bullet Points at long last. cue applause from an off-screen audience
Now, some of you might have noticed a couple of things about the newest chapter. First, I slotted in a cheeky little nod to the original Bullet Points, just as a sort of bonus for the people who watched me on my old account and have been following my exploits since then. I'm not going to say what it was exactly, but props to anyone who can spot it.
You might also have noticed gave away a rather crucial tidbit of information with regard to Jackal's background, a bit like the reference to Kosovo he made in Chapter 2 - originally it was Northern Ireland, but I retconned it when I realised that he wasn't old enough to have served during The Troubles.
Whoops, there I go again.
Anyway...those of you who have read the original Bullet Points (and its successor, Exit Wounds) will doubtless know about Jackal's military background, so it's more significant from an in-universe perspective than anything because Dice knows next to nothing about him. But that's the whole point of doing this reboot - to flesh out the characters in my stories, make them more than just a collection of names with guns. The Modern Warfare series is particularly guilty of doing that. They give us characters who we desperately want to like but are either badly characterised - for example Ghost, whose representation in the Modern Warfare 2: Ghost prequel comic was fantastic but had the knock-on effect of making his in-game counterpart look like a cardboard cut-out - or characters like Sandman and Yuri, who could potentially be highly interesting characters but who the developers just hand-wave any information regarding them as "classified" before unceremoniously killing them off near the finale of the game.
The whole point of Jackal's character is that he's meant to be mysterious, and a little bit enigmatic. Few people besides Dice have ever seen what he looks like because he always wears a facial covering of some kind whilst on operations, and even fewer people know his real name. The problem is, whilst the whole mystery-man angle is cool at first, eventually it just leaves people dissatisfied and wanting to know more about the character they've grown attached to (as with Ghost in Modern Warfare 2). For that reason, I've decided that I'm going to dedicate a small segment of Bullet Points to characterizing both Jackal and Dice.
I'm going to aim to make it feel as fluid and natural as possible, so it doesn't just feel like I've shoehorned it in, but I think it's important to explain a bit about Dice in particular because when you take into account an event that happened in her backstory, it really doesn't make sense that she'd just throw herself at Jackal like she did in the original Bullet Points. Sure, she likes him, but I didn't really get that across last time and so as a result it just felt clunky and awkward and made Dice sound like some horrible Mary Sue whose only purpose is to act as Jackal's love interest - and that is the polar opposite of what Dice is. She's a fantastic character in her own right, and arguably better-developed than Jackal, but like all truly great characters she's flawed - not in the way that she's developed, but rather from an in-universe perspective.
Special forces operators are children of adversity. Like Ghost in the MW2 comics, his difficult childhood, the loss of his family, and what happened to him in Mexico shaped him into what he is. That's not to say that every operator is like him - Ghost is an extreme case (and a fictionalised one at that), but Jackal and Dice are similar to an extent. What makes special forces so good at what they do is the fact that they are used to being put under extreme duress - some are simply determined to be the best, but you have to ask yourself what sort of mental state a person has to be in to not only be accepted into the world of special operations but also to carry out such an awful job with such efficiency.
Let's be honest - "perfect" characters are fucking boring. A truly perfect character is one who comes off as being credible, like the "heroes" of Alan Moore's Watchmen or Joss Whedon's Firefly, or the kommandant of a Nazi death camp in a poem I once read who sends scores of men, women and children to their deaths without a flicker of hesitation and stops off at the sweetshop on the way home to buy chocolate for his young child. It's an uncomfortable paradox; we like the idea of villains we can hate unconditionally, but then we're forced to watch the kommandant kiss his wife and child who he loves so dearly. It's like the opposite of an imperfect hero - an imperfect villain, whose occasional softer side makes him imperfect, as opposed to the imperfect hero whose moments of darkness sometimes lay bare just how much of an awful person they can be. In war, all acts of heroism come at a price, because invariably people are going to die and at the end of the day it's you or the enemy.
Not only do you have to stop and think about the morality of what these so-called heroes are doing but you also have to take into account how it affects the heroes themselves - the human cost of war, which, given that my works are meant to be putting Call of Duty into a real-world context, is something I don't want to shirk away from. I might run the risk of upsetting someone or even of making my characters appear unsympathetic, but what you have to remember is that special forces soldiers are, at their core, killing machines. They might phone their wives and girlfriends before a mission to tell them how much they love them and laugh and drink beer with their friends after a successful op, but even if they don't enjoy doing what they have to do they don't allow that to stop them from doing it. As Curtis LeMay once said; "Every soldier thinks something of the moral aspects of what he is doing...but all war is immoral and if you let that bother you, you're not a good soldier."
On that note, anyone who hasn't played Spec Ops: The Line should definitely do so, especially if they're a fan of first-person shooters. Playing that game probably got this thought process going in my head in the first place.