Chapter 9:Setting up camp
We finally reach the inn at a fork in the road where we are to set up encampment, and not a moment too soon. Now comes the hard work.
The Peacekeeper Legions are trained to set up camp in only one hour, and we are able to do it in an hour and twenty minutes with the Loyalist Militiamen slowing our camp building. Trees are then felled and pushed aside to both clear space and establish a perimeter, the wood is used as stakes for the surrounding camp boundaries of for firewood. We are able to clear out the needed space so quickly in part because of modern wood cutting technology. Finally, we set up antipersonnel mines in the woods beyond the freshly cut perimeter; this should give rebels second thoughts about probing the legion encampment.
Once everything is set up, every coil of barbed wire laid out, and every mine activated, we can now rest. Those soldiers of the loyal army who are not on guard shift go to the outside lunch tables to eat now that the rain stopped. There I am able to meet up with the rest of my friends and we can talk about what happened while I was busy delivering information to Headpeacekeeper Thread.
Harod, always thoughtful, asks first, "Lyes, its good to see you still in one piece. Where were you?"
"I got a gift from a partisan while leading soldiers in the woods. I thought I'd share it with Barca, and he decided to share it with Headpeacekeeper Thread."
This seemed to interest Aric, "What was so important about it that it couldn't wait until morning?"
"It was a rebel to-do list. I don't think Johnny Reb would not want the Capitol to see all the horrific things they were doing with Panem."
We talked a bit more, and Harod had to get up and go off on some business, but when I described how explosively one rebel reacted to his comrades wanting to surrender, the table became silent. In an attempt to change the conversation, I asked about some old business.
"Hey Montgomery, did you ever find out what was wrong with the owl?"
Montgomery chuckled,"O yes, yes. I caught the bird and couldn't find a thing wrong with it. Just a regular screech owl."
"Jacobine, didn't you ever hear screech owls before?"
"No, I lived in the district's central city; not many owls there."
There are not any poor people in District 2 who would not be considered part of the upper merchant class of Districts 11 and 12. While life in the city is less physical work, life in the villages is more pristine and idyllic. Of corse, the district is so connected that even those in the farthest most villages can take the public transportation system time city for a day trip, and most living in the homesteads can also afford to do this; though many simply do not bother to.
When Harod gets back, he brings along with him an army nurse who is not short, but appears that way when standing next to someone as tall as Harod.
Harod is practically beaming when he is next to her."Everyone, I'd love you to meet my fiancée. Anna, these are my comrades."
Aric says this, "We already met, remember?"
"Good to see you again Aric, and it's nice to meet you all."
Crispin then holds his hand out; shaking the hand of someone you are introducing yourself to is a common form of greeting. "Crispin Armitage, Militiaman of the District 4 Loyalist Volunteers. It is nice to finally meet you, your fiancé has spoken quite a bit about you."
Anna shakes his hand and says, "Nice to meet you."
One by one, we all introduce ourselves to our friend's wife to be. Once formalities are out of the way, we talk about how we have been holding up. I learn that Anna adapted well to being a nurse for peacekeepers, and that she even saved someone's life.
We do not talk about fighting long, in actual fact we try to talk about literally anything else. If it will distract us from the fact that the civilized world is threatened by a murderous extremist from District 12, we will talk about it. I can almost forget for a moment that there even is a war to begin with, or that my cousin was tortured to death by the two sadists who started the war.
If only for a moment.
In just a few hours I have to head out again to protect the encampment. It is dark outside, and it is cold.
My unit is one of those on the night shift; we need to keep watch over the camp to be sure no rebels try anything sinister. Right now I am at the outside of the encampment, patrolling into the night. With me are some of the other patrolling peacekeepers, while other peacekeepers in my unit are asleep. It is a dark and dreary night, a night when I shiver through to my center. It has a nervous silence.
This silence is interrupted by the sound of gunfire coming from the encampment, and I can see shadows leaving the encampment and running across the clearing. I do not need to be a genius to know what is happening.
I run after and fire at the rebel spies, with Helena and another peacekeeper who I do not know following.
They fall to the ground, but that is no guarantee that I hit them. For all I know, they fell to play dead and surprise us when we least expect it.
Then I see the blood.
It covers the snow, painting it a color than in this darkness can only be described as deathly black. I can see only two of the four rebels moving; I guess I know how many of them were fatally hit.
"One wrong move and your dead."
The two surviving rebels turn themselves off their stomachs and on their backs, and I can see that they were shot thought the stomach. One of them is only twelve years old, and yet he was still holding a gun.
The older one decides to disregard the warning, "Now!"
Out of the shadows stand rebel soldiers wielding machine guns. A hale of bullets kill some on both sides.
We all get down to kneeling position and fire back at the rebels. More rebels are coming, so we need to get back the encampment.
I shout over the fray, "Fall back to the encampment."
Helena's response: "I'll guard the rear."
As we jog back to the encampment, Helena is constantly turning around and gunning down the multitude of rebels who emerge from the shadows. Once we are enough distance away, she pulls three grenades from her belt and throw them all at the two surviving spies and the rebs who are trying to rescue them.
The explosion knocks us off our feet, but we are able to get back on them and keep moving.
I see the glint of a glass circle in the bushes, and fire at what i am correct in assuming to be a sniper. A bullet flies harmlessly past Helena's shoulder.
The explosion killed most of the rebel guerrillas, and it is safe to say the rest have slithered away like the cowards they are.
When we reach the encampment, there is still work to be done. Some other rebels have barricaded themselves in one of the houses. Many peacekeepers and camp aids are gathered around watching, unsure what to do next.
Commander Barca approaches us with instructions. "Our snipers probably cleared out all the rebels, but we should still send someone to look for booby traps. I can see one peacekeeper walk into the house, searching around for rebel ambushers.
I can hear Harod and Anna talking, the latter reassuring the former. Her voice is so uneasy that it is clear she is also trying to convince herself. "I am sure there is nothing, those rebels are not thorough."
"Are you sure? They can be dangerous."
"True, but I saved enough injured soldiers to be sure that the rebels are too cocky to aim steady."
A small explosion tears through the air, and the next thing we hear is the sound of a District 2 voice calling out for help.
As some try to move out, Headpeacekeeper Thread stops them. "Wait! It could be a trap. I don't want to force anyone to take that risk. At least not without being sure."
What Anan says next confirms all the good things I heard about her. "Sir, if I may; I am willing to be the one to get him out of there."
Romulus Thread looks dumbfounded, Harod is speechless with shock. The Headpeacekeeper asks, "Are you sure?"
"Alright, but be carful."
Before she can head out, Harod grabs her arm. "Please don't, I can't lose you."
"I need to. I know it is risky, but I can't run away. I need to do this for the same reason you march into battle each morning. "
"I love you."
Anna takes off Harod's helmet and kisses him in the mouth. It is a long and romantic kiss, I can tell just by looking.
After this, Anna whispers, "I will always love you."
The combat nurse enters the house, and all is quiet.
Not a cricket chirps, not an owl hoots, not a sound interrupts the still quiet of the night.
Then a large ball of fire erupts from the building, no doubt killing all inside.
Anna is dead.
Anna is dead, and I am sure part of Harod has also died.