We could not reach the encampment sooner, it was already midday. We marched at double speed because if there is one thing we do not want, it is to be caught or ambushed outside the encampment at nighttime. We march on, ignoring the fact that we just saw a rebel suicide bomb his own comrades out of little more than spite.
After marching down a small road through the woods, we finally reach the encampment. We are all exhausted, but I do not allow myself to rest like the others. I head strait for Commander Barca, because I have a feeling in the seed of my gut that this bundle has something vital in it.
After I find him, I explain how a loyalist partisan gave this to me with explicit instructions to personally deliver it to him. He suggests we talk about this in a more private setting. Once we are inside one of the houses of the village that the encampment is build around, we can talk freely.
"So your sure he told you this was important?"
"Well, let's open it up."
Commander Barca walked over to a wooden desk and laid the deerskin bundle on it. He unrolled the untanned deerskin, and I could see that inside was a stack of papers completely covered with writing. After looking at the papers for a few seconds, Commander Barca wrapped the stack of papers up in the deerskin and got up while handing it back to me.
"Come on, we need to get this to the nearest Headpeacekeeper immediately."
"Where is he?"
"At the Solitary Rock encampment, about three hours down the road from here. We'll need to go fast if we are to get this to the nearest Headpeacekeeper in time."
We went off to the armored cars, and we left in one while three other armored cars followed close behind us to provide security. It turns out we need security.
The cars stop when rebels fire at us with machine guns, but are not piercing the bulletproof shells. We do not wait for their rocketlauncher to get into position, but instead fire back. Commander Barca and I fired out of the slits that served as windows in the car, while the drivers resumed driving while rebels with machine guns shot at us from behind and were gunned down by the gunner who had a seat on top of the armored car and fired from a machine gun that was mounted on the car.
Fortunately, these attackers must have just been highwaymen taking advantage of the chaos to rob travelers while peacekeepers are busy preventing the end of civilization. Most of them are dead now, so I think we sent a clear message to the survivors as to whether or not crime pays.
Our armored car trip goes well enough until we are just forty minutes away from our destination. Then we find a surprise; the bridge leading across a stream has fallen it. The stream is small enough that we can jump over it, but there is no way to get the cars across. This means only one thing; we have to continue on foot.
Commander Barca leads me and half of the Peacekeepers in the armored cars as we get out to continue on foot. The rest drive the armored cars back, and will most likely have to mop up the remaining highwaymen. It is already dark, and and cold, and quiet. The worst part was the quiet, as it felt like the whole of existence was holding its breathe. We walked quietly to avoid attracting attention, but also with haste to avoid being late. Each each minute felt like eternity, each second feels like a lifetime.
I hold the deerskin bundle, inside of which are important papers. We march tirelessly, never stopping. After an hour on foot, we hear growling in the woods. They are most likely wolves, come to dine on our flesh. Commander Barca is still unfazed, but he gives his orders wide and clear.
"Peacekeepers, when I say go, we all fire. ... NOW!"
The wolves jump out from all directions and bound towards us. Without hesitation we open fire in the pack. We fire low, and the bullets hit the wolves and they die without fight. Some whimper and stand on their hind legs before collapsing backwards, others simply let their front legs collapse and pull them forward to the ground the moment the bullet pierces through their skin and embed in the wolves flesh. Once all the wolves are dead, Commander Barca gives the next order with the steadiness all come to associate him with.
We all sprint down the road without rest, adrenaline pumping through our veins. My heart beat rapidly with every footstep, and yet I found I did not even slow in the slightest. Eventually we saw the light at the end of the road and knew we found the destination. Once we reach camp, I waste no time.
"Somebody take us to the Headpeacekeeper of this legion! We have inportant information that can not wait."
All the people milling around the camp turn to look at us, and I can bet we must be a sight. Panting, gasping for breath, covered in twigs and branches, and having arrived in the middle of the night. Fortunately, they saw our peacekeeper uniforms and knew we were serious.
One loyalist militiaman, someone who's accent carries a hint of District 1, leads us to a tent completely indistinguishable from the other bunk tents. Across from it is a tent more fitting for a Headpeacekeeper.
"Wait one minute, I'll get him."
The loyalist disappears into the bunk tent for a few moments, then out comes the Headpeacekeeper. He is dressed in a sleeping uniform, but still wears a belt upon which are two handguns and a combat knife. His black hair, which is starting to silver around the edges, is shaven to military regulation and as such not disturbed by sleep.
We introduced ourselves.
"Peacekeeper Commander Larsen Barca."
"Peacekeeper Major Lysander Hardley."
The Headpeacekeeper shook our hands and introduced himself. "Legionary Headpeacekeeper Romulus Thread."
With formalities out of the way, Thread went strait to business. "I trust you came all the way here and woke me up to tell me something important."
Commander Barca, being of higher rank than me, confirms this as fact. "Yes sir, we did. I'm sorry, did we woke you?"
"Yes, but I'd rather lose sleep than soldiers. And if your wondering, I sleep in the common quarters because I am a peacekeeper like them and you. I don't need special privileges or better food."
He leads us into his headpeacekeepers tent, which I can see is basically an office. Rather than tell him, I hold out he deerskin bundle for him to take. He takes it and asks, "What is it?"
Commander Barca answered the question, "It is vital information handed to us by loyal partisans with the instructions that it be handed to you."
Romulus Thread placed the deerskin bundle on his desk and unwrapped it. He sat down, bade us to do the same, and looked through the papers for forty. The placed the papers in a flashing machine one by one and took them our unharmed.
"You were right, it was very inportant information. Its a good thing you brought it, the traitors don't want us to find out the information in the paper and would likely have sent assassins after whoever tried to deliver it if you waited. I just sent a digital copy both sides of every sheet, so now the Acropolis and the Capitol have the vital information and there is nothing the traitors can do about it."
Then he addressed me specifically. "I'm sure you want to know what it said, right?"
"Well, it's only fair considering how you walked through the woods at night. In those papers were logistic information on the rebels; weapon depots, enemy encampments, supply lines, battle strategy, the locations of POW camps, a list of collaborators, a list of rebel officers, and governing officials in rebel held districts. It also includes a list of rebel atrocities being commit in rebel held districts, as well as war crimes commit by the rebellion and rough estimate as to the number of those killed. You can look at the papers if you want."
"I'm glad we can help bring the peacekeepers one more step closer to defeating the rebellion."
Romulus Thread looked at a framed picture on his desk and whispered, "The damend Mockingjay has taken something from all of us."
I recognize something in his voice, something I feel myself. It is personal for him. Another person who suffers because of the war.