A Peacekeepers Nightmare

Chapter 6:Partisan

We are marching down a pathway in the woods to rescue twelve loyal soldiers pinned down in a road side tavern. Our strength is about three units, so we should be able to defeat the rebels who are pinning down our brothers in arms.

As we march down the road, we see four hundred or so rebels in a standoff with the loyalists inside the tavern. The tavern looks as thought during more peaceful times it was as warm and inviting place where weary travelers would rest for the evening and have dinner. This is what I imagine, as now it is dilapidated and dusty and I assume has been since the evacuation into the heart of the District.

Neither one is willing to make the first shot to break the standoff, at least not until we arrive. The moment we notice the rebels those in front fire at them while those of us behind the first row of peacekeepers rush to get cover. The loyalists in the tavern take this as the cue to fire at the rebels as well, and those rebels are sufficiently surprised. While most of those not immediately gunned down in the crossfire return bullets, only six or so rebels have the sense to take cover behind rocks or fallen logs. The rest die right there in the street.

Once we surround the six surviving rebels who have all hidden behind a rock, they knew they could either fight and die or surrender and live. Despite this, they still were hesitant out of fear that surrendering would also mean death.

As peacekeeper Major, I did the negotiating. "Come out and lay down your arms, can't you see you can't hope to win this fight?"

"How do we know you won't just off us once we do?"

"Because we're Peacekeepers, the civilized side, the good guys; just because rebels stoop to barbarism does not mean we do."

The leader of the surviving six, a man who judging from skin pigmentation is from District 11, speaks for them. "You, civilized? Bombing a whole District into oblivion is not civilized."

"Do you expect me to believe your Capitol propaganda?"

"No, but you can expect peacekeepers not to be fooled by traitor lies. Look around, if you don't surrender you'll die."

One of the rebels says, "Don't do it, we fight to the bitter end!"

Another rebel, one who can't be older than fourteen, expressed different sentiment, "I think we should do what he says. I don't want to die, I just want to go home."

A third rebel agrees with the second, "I only joined because a press gang made me, I miss my family."

Only one rebel is against surrendering, the rest are done fighting. The rebel leader looks like is is about to give in, but something disrupts the talking down. A grenade explosion erupts from the hands of the rebel who did not want to surrender, killing all six of them and pushing back the three peacekeepers who were standing too close.

Those who were close enough to feel the wind of the blast were shaken, but this no longer surprises me: rebel aggression is just a fact of life now. We take our attention away from the splattering of blood and splinters and limbs that has taken the place of the six rebels- no, five people and a monster. While I do not feel anything now, I know this will disturb me upon later reflection; in some ways that is worse.

We approach the tavern and see fourteen loyal soldiers first look out the window, then leave the tavern. They are dressed in civilian clothes and identifiable only by the white armband they wear. They hold weapons that are ... makeshift, so it is understandable that they scour and confiscate any weapons or ammunition the rebel corpses may posses. Once they are finished and armed with District 13 machine guns, as well as more than enough corresponding ammunition, I talk with their leader for a bit.

Their leader is a nineteen year old man with curly red hair, who's first physical impression gives off a look of boyish youth. Only when he speaks and I hear his bitter voice do I find that the first appearance is misleading. "You, your the leader aren't you?"

"I'm the senior-most officer, yes. Is there something you need to tell me?"

The leader of the fourteen loyalists then pulled out something bundled and tied in untanned deerskin. He handed it to me.

"Give this to the commander and don't open it until your back at camp. Don't give it to a peacekeeper with the order to carry it to commender: give it to him personally. Its for his eyes only.

"Thanks. Whatever it is, I am sure it is important."

"When you get to the crossroads, you'll see the sign removed. Taking the left path will lead you to Solitary Rock, taking the right will take you to Drowning Trout."

"Aren't you coming?"

"We need to clean up the mess, or else some rebel asshole will take a picture of the blood pool and say we fragged them." I can easily imagine rebel propagandists doing this, or rearranging the rebel bodies to say a firing squad killed them.

"Are you sure you'll be okey staying behind?"

"We arn't afraid; we're loyal partisans. Our front is the Mockingjay's rear, and our home is the District 2 forest."

"Well, good luck."

"You too. You keep killing rebel bastards and we'll disrupt their supply lines and pick them off one by one."

So we marched back to camp, and the partisans went to work cleaning the road. We are both fighting the same battle.

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