This is a rather lengthy story for a blog. This is the ninth of eleven parts. I never intended on adding onto it or making into something more. Perhaps your enthusiasm will change my mind.
“You have a special mission?” I began as tension shot through my chest. “Do you have to bring back a head to mount outside of the leaders’ home? Are you bringing back something precious? Gold or something? What kind of secret missions are you people on while we fight the blood thirst beasts that haunted our childhood?”
“We’re-” Benedict started but I cut him off. I was beyond their lies.
“Are you two out here to bring back some slaves? Someone for the men in the government to rape and toy with? What is this? How can anyone sanction the murdering of innocent people, especially after what happened? The world went to war. Your city survived way out here, only to be attacked by cannibals, stricken with some unquenchable hunger,” I was yelling at Benedict now, trying to break him down. “Are you out here to settle some personal vendetta? Is this a revenge mission? To Gregory and I, this is the most important time of our lives. This is the single biggest event we will ever be involved with. We are hunting and fighting the ravenous beasts that tore apart out forefathers and plagued our youth.”
“We aren’t seeking revenge,” Oliver muttered, waking up.
“Then what is this?” I yelled crossing my arms.
“We are trying to stop our army from annihilating a group of people,” Benedict finished. “We are trying to save lives, not kill anyone.”
“You’re what?” I asked, not expecting his answer.
“Save lives?” Gregory questioned, clearly taken by surprise. “You two are trying to save the lives of some random people?”
“We are,” Benedict confirmed.
“They aren’t random,” Oliver said straining to sit up. He seemed to be feeling better as his voice and color were returning to normal. “They saved our lives on a Hunt. It was a bad one.”
He fell back, as strength fled from his limbs. He was still hurting, though he was improving from his breakdown.
“This entire area has been fought over, as I said before,” Benedict repeated. “Oliver and I fought all over these woods. We killed people against these trees, and these rocks. Oliver and I were separated from our unit one time. We knew our way around here, we had been through these woods many times. But, when night came the people we were hunting started killing our teammates. We heard the gunfire, and saw the muzzle flashes in the distance. Later we would learn they were all killed. We were holding up by a massive tree with a small fire, listening to the fight. When it stopped-”
“When it stopped we smothered the fire and readied ourselves to fight,” Oliver continued. He was sitting up now, fighting whatever pain was surging through his body. “They came at us slowly at first, running at us with spears. We dropped them, but then they started shooting at us.”
“They had grabbed our teammates’ weapons and started using them on us,” Benedict took over. “They pinned us down behind our tree and didn’t let up the fire. They tossed grenades at us, shot at us with machine guns, rifles; everything. Bullets were raking across the ground and the trees. We were lucky they didn’t hit us.”
“That’s when they came to our rescue,” Oliver said, his voice firm again as he focused on the distant, yet powerful memory. “They seemed to come out of the trees, straight out of the night itself. They moved silently, firing their bow and arrows at these monsters. They killed all of them in seconds, saving us.”
“And they took us back to their village,” Benedict continued the story. “They took us back, nursed our wounds and told us these people had been terrorizing them. They heard the gunfire and hoped they could beg the gunmen for help.”
“These people were kind, strong, and terribly resilient. They had been persecuted by these evil folks for years,” Oliver explained. “They did what they could, but it was never enough. I guess we inadvertently poked a hornets’ nest, stirred something up, and almost got wiped out ourselves.”
“We worked together,” Benedict explained. “We helped these people, and they told us about the other cruel groups in the area. Over the next few years we took our teams out and killed them all. We cleansed this area of bad people.”
“And then I was told that we were going to steam roll whatever was left and expand,” Oliver took over again. “I knew I had to get these people out. Our leadership will never let them in. They won’t try assimilation. They’ll just murder them.”
“So, we’re out here to warn this mysterious, yet good, group of people that live in forest of their impending death,” I stated, trying to understand the situation.
“Exactly,” Oliver nodded. “We’re soldiers, Benedict and I, and we are supposed to protect people. We’re supposed to protect, innocent people, the non-combatants. Everyone in that village is innocent. They’ll fight back, but they didn’t ask for this fight. They’re peaceful. They’re good people. They’ve even been our silent allies for years! It’s only now that our imperial urges are kicking in will the rest of our city discover them, and they will suffer.”
“We can have them sent away,” Gregory asked. “Can’t we? Can’t we help them hide and maybe someday adopt them into our city?”
“We could try, but I doubt it,” Benedict said shaking his head. “They could run and hide. They could probably get away and not be found, but our leaders will never take them in.”
“They will never accept someone from these woods, because this is where the beasts live,” Oliver finished. “This is where the monsters dwell, not people, not human beings; but evil beasts that tear apart our flesh and eat our children.”
“When do we go to the village?” I asked.
“In the morning,” Oliver said with a smile. “And by nightfall they have to be gone, because our forces will be moving out as soon as we get back.”
“How long do we have before they move out anyway?” Gregory inquired.
“They won’t just move out, right?” I answered.
“Not this time,” Benedict shook his head solemnly.
“They’ll move out in a week if we’re not back,” Oliver interjected. “They’re dedicating the entire army, plus all of the reserve troops to this expansion. They’ll clean up whatever we miss, no matter how small or well-hidden, they will find it.”
“They what?” I asked, trying to clarify the news.
“They will move out in a week, with all of our forces and sweep this entire forest,” Benedict muttered slowly.
“And that,” Oliver sighed looking at us. “That is the truth we have been hiding from you, and your peers for the last few decades. I am sorry.”
“Oh, that’s all?” Gregory laughed. He sounded as though fear had taken over his mind, and stolen his senses.
“It’s a lot,” Benedict agreed. “Just sit down and think it over.”
“There isn’t time,” a voice announced form somewhere in the shadows. “Not if you want to fight. My people will not melt into the woods and disappear into the shadows. We intend on fighting. What are you planning on doing my old friend?”
Continue to part ten here!
Go back to part eight here.