He was screaming inside. How could she do this to us? To ME? I can't lose the only medic- No, I can't lose Achada. She's the only thing keeping me from going insane.
He was reminded once again of the sister he would never see. Would Achada be seeing her soon?
No, no, no. Don't think that way. Just...just go back to the camp and say everything is all right. The gods know they don't need any more bad news.
The man's wound was completely bandaged. Achada had dragged him onto the grassy bank of the stream. He was resting now. He hadn't stirred since she had finished spraying the wound.
Achada was looking through his pack now. Funny. A month ago, this would have been considered "creepy" or "strange". Now, it's just a precaution.
She had found some interesting artifacts. The man carried several guns with him, and his pack was filled with rations- they almost looked like military rations. She pulled out a few throwing knives, and noticed he had grenades strapped to his belt. Achada gathered all of the weapons and hid them under a bush a few yards away. She didn't want him grabbing something and killing her as soon as he woke up.
She was almost done going over his belongings when she found a small, black book at the bottom of the bag. She opened it, and was rewarded with the man's diary. Inscribed on the inside cover was Property of Gwilym Corecear of the Dragon Battalion.
Her heart plummeted. Battalion? He must be a member of the Rebellion. Still...
She opened the page to the latest entry.
The General has ordered us to search for any survivors of the last raid. Those monsters decimated that entire town, and we don't know why. Usually ,they have a goal, but it seems like this attack was completely random. There was no motive. Those Rebellion sons of a-
Never mind, I can't write like that, I'll just end up furious.
No word on the refugee group that fled from Wefal several weeks ago. We think they've died, but you can never be sure.
This mission should be a successful one...I hope...
Achada closed the book. He was not with the Rebellion, but he was with some kind of military force. She studied his face again. He looked to be only in his mid thirties. He had a large scar running along his neck, as if someone had tried to slit it from behind and failed. He was in good physical shape. He had a typical military buzz cut, but she could tell his hair was black.
She had no idea how long it would take for him to wake up. It was still dark out; she pulled an old shirt out of her pack, laid it out on the ground a few yards away from him, and fell asleep.
She woke the next morning. Her patient hadn't moved, and she wasn't sick. She cried out with joy. She had made the right choice!
She examined her patient. The wound had stopped bleeding, but she redressed the bandages anyway. Just as she was finishing up, his hand shot up and grabbed her wrist. She yelled in surprise and tried to shake him off. He seemed to realize he was scaring her, and released her.
Achada backed away. "Who are you?"
The man cracked open his dark green eyes. "..Not going...to hurt you..."
Achada slowly walked back towards him. "What is your name?"
"Gwylim...I am Gwylim..."
"Well, Gwylim, I'm Achada. I'm going to take care of you."
He sank back into unconsciousness. Achada breathed a sigh of relief. She checked his temperature. The man's fever had gone down, but was still there. She grabbed an old rag from her pack and dipped it into the cool stream water. She washed his face off and managed to get him to drink some.
After she was sure he'd be all right for a while, she reclined against a tree and fell asleep.
Adish was still furious. Their only medic seemed to think it was just fine to leave the group for some stranger. After telling everyone else Achada was preoccupied with...something...he collapsed by the fire and buried his head in his hands. It seemed no one really was dedicated to the group other than himself. Sure, Gersemi helped him out a lot, but she was usually busy talking to Ekram or something.
Adish felt alone for the first time in a while. He considered Achada his only true friend in their group, and now, he wasn't sure anymore.
Stop whining, she's just doing what she was trained to do...his subconscious whispered. He considered it for a moment, before telling his subconsciousness to shut the hell up and go away.
When Achada awoke, the man was sitting up with his back leaning against a tree. His eyes were closed, and he had his legs stretched out in front of him.
Achada slowly sat up. The man opened his eyes. They stared at each other a few seconds before he sighed.
"I'm afraid I don't recall if you told me your name."
Achada relaxed a bit. "I'm Achada."
"Greetings, Achada. I believe I owe you my life."
"You owe me nothing, I was merely doing my job."
Another awkward silence.
"Tell me, Achada, are there any more people here other than you?"
Achada hesitated. "You aren't a member of the Rebellion, correct?"
He nodded. "I'm a member of the Invictus. We are the resistance. Together, we fight against the terror of the Rebellion. I am known as Lieutenant General Corecear. I serve directly under our second in command, the Commander. Our General, or leader, is an honorable man. I am glad to serve under him and fight these Rebellion dogs..."
He started to cough, grabbing his side. Achada was next to him, now. Hope was returning to her life. A resistance? Could they still be saved?
Another wave of coughing hit Corecear. Quickly, Achada dug through her pack and pulled out her last throat lozenge. He popped it in his mouth, and his coughing gradually ceased.
"My turn for a question. Achada, are there more of you? I was sent on a rescue mission with a dozen others to find survivors of the recent attack. However, we still had rumors that a group of twelve escaped from Wefat-"
"Only nine, now. Three were taken by a Rebellion airship."
"But there are others?"
"No, I just said nine to smash all your hopes when I said it was just me. Yes, there are others."
"This is amazing! We've never heard of so many survivors in one raid!" He was smiling now, his coarse face aglow with happiness. Achada couldn't tell how old the man was, but he did have laugh lines around his eyes. Surely, he couldn't be older than thirty-five.
"Would you rather have me call you Gwilym or Corecear?"
He froze. "You know my first name?"
"You told it to me during your fever, actually. I'll call you Corecear if you prefer that.
"Yes, please. My first name brings back rather unpleasant memories."
It had been two days. Adish began the journey back to Achada's stream. He dreaded what he would find.
As he neared her little camp, he heard laughter. Relief filled him. She was all right. Then, he heard the other man's gruff, low voice. He was alive? That had been a rather nasty wound.
Adish finally reached them. Achada was roasting a small animal over a fire, and the man was reclining against a tree.
She looked up and smiled at Adish. "I told you I would be all right."
Adish tentatively smiled back before joining her at the fire. Turning towards the other man, he asked, " And you are?"
"Lieutenant General Corecear, at you service. I take it you are a friend of Achada's?"
Adish nodded. "I'll let you live since Achada seems to trust you. Could you explain who you are and why you were laying half dead in a stream?"
Corecear stretched, stood shakily (to Achada's protests), and walked over to the fire. Sitting next to the medic, he repeated what he had told her before.
"My mission was to find survivors, and I almost found you all before. My team found one of your old camps, and followed you from there. During our trip, we were attacked by a pack of diars, a vicious four-legged animal that has a long, whip-like tail. We scattered, and I circled around the forest before my pursuer finally caught me. I shot it in the stomach, but before it finally died, it managed to swipe at my side. I stumbled along, trying to get back to everyone else, before I eventually collapsed in the stream. The next thing I remember was waking up after Achada had finished bandaging my side."
Adish nodded. "Do you have a way to contact your group?"
Corecear raised his arm. Achada had left his gauntlets on, and he examined them. "Well, this is a wrist com-link, and it seems like the water shorted it out. I have a flare, but everyone can see a flare. I think our best bet is to try and fix the comm. Do you have any techies in your group?"
Adish turned to Achada. "Isn't Gersemi a technological designer?"
Achada nodded. "She specializes in designing A.I., but she should be able to fix a comm."
Adish stood up. "I'm going to bring the rest of the group over. We need to replenish our water supply, and it would probably be easier than moving Corecear."
With that, he turned and disappeared into the woods.
The other refugees made it to the creek safely, and curiously studied Corecear. The man was still recovering from his injuries, but his fever was completely gone. He casually reclined against a tree, his dark green eyes surveying the group.
Gersemi was the first to approach him directly. "I was told you have a comlink in need of fixing?"
Corecear straightened a bit, then slid his left gauntlet off. "I hope you are indeed as good at fixing things as Achada assures me you are."
Gersemi took it from him and looked it over. "Well, it looks like the components were shorted out by the water. I think I should be able to fix it. Give me a few hours, and I'll see what I can do." Smiling, she and Ekram both walked away from the group, sitting in a place a dozen meters away.
Corecear turned towards Adish. "I would like to know more about the nature of your survival. How is it that you all made it this far?"
Adish paused before replying. "We all were outside of the gates when the airships came. Out in the fields. It was early in the morning, before most had gotten out of bed. The merchants used to set up their stalls outside of the city, for more room. Smart customers generally join them before the sun comes up. That morning, it wasn't any different. However, just before the sun rose, the roar of the airships awakened those in the city. We saw the first bomb drop directly over the town center. We heard the first screams.
Pandemonium broke loose. There were people who ran back to the gates, screaming the names of family members still inside. They were the first ones shot by the ground troops. The smart ones- we ran towards the forests surrounding the town. We didn't know there were gunmen in the trees. There must have been a thousand of us at the treeline. There were only fifty at the end of the woods. Most of them formed a large group, to try and forge on together. A few of us split off- that would be our group. We parted ways, and were mocked for it. Our group walked a mile before once again being enveloped by trees. That's when the airships returned.
They easily found the larger group. We watched from the darkness of the forest as they were gunned down, the children taken for gods knows what. I fear their fate. Later, the airships found us and took three. We continued walking and found another bombed town. Then, we were forced to kill two infected children. That's our story."
Corecear leaned back. "That is an impressive feat, my friend. I admire you all for your outstanding resilience. You would all make fine members of Invictus."
Xanthus jerked his head up. "Excuse me? Who said we were going to join your group?"
"No one said you had to. I was just stating a fact. We DO have a wonderful community for civilians, for those of you who would rather live a more quiet life for a while."
Xanthus backed down. "Okay. I just don't want to sign up for something I know nothing about."
Corecear nodded. "If your friend manages to get the com working, you'll see our headquarters soon."
Adish still didn't trust the man.
He glanced over at the sleeping form of the soldier. For all they knew, he could be a member of the Rebellion. He was still convinced one of their group was a spy. Perhaps he was just being paranoid- but he had been paranoid about traveling in a large group, as well. Adish always followed his gut feeling.
Another scathing glance was sent to the sleeping figure of the man. How DARE he practically take over Adish's group! Adish, who had worked so hard to provide for them. The worst thing was most of them already accepted Corecear's authenticity. Especially Achada.
Just the thought of her trust in the man caused him to inhale sharply in disgust. He thought she was his friend. Apparently, she was perfectly fine with deserting him. Adish had cared for her the most, and now he was being cast aside. Let her act like that. He didn't need her.
He didn't need anyone.
Hey everyone! I don't think I've left an author's note anywhere yet, so hi! I'm Darth Jedi, and thanks for reading so far!
I really appreciate reviews, feedback motivates me to update more often and helps me improve my writing.