I started this old work, which I'm going to start writing on again, back around this time in 2010. I have the originals still saved to an old computer of mine for proof if people think I stole ideas. Just sayin'.

Never one to doubt the truth behind a persons eyes, and motives, I didn’t want to acknowledge the fact that the world was destroying itself one war at a time. I’d always been the one to jump at the chance to “save the world” personally believing in the Greater Good of Humanity. Perhaps I was wrong. Death tolls skyrocketing and the means of survival becoming less and less real, people were fighting now it seemed, just to fight. It’s not that I’m pessimistic, just a realist, and I know the looks of defeat when I see them. Whatever it was that these people wanted before the war began, well it now seems what was left of their lives from beforehand has all but disappeared.

First Moon, Month of Harvest, Year 10 (after the destruction of the known world)

Hagan looked to me with pleading in his eyes, “You don’t have to do this. You can opt out and join the ranks of the Peacemakers!” He’d tried this before, but as he said these things I knew what I‘d say.

“I don’t think you understand. I was born into a world that was full of beauty and happiness… and now… just look around you. It’s gone; there is no ‘opting out’ for me. I am taking the mission and staying with the EverFlame Team. You should know better than to try and sway me, Hagan, it’s not like I’m going to budge on the matter.” I shook my head.

It was time to go, my duffle packed and ready, I told him, “I’m sure you will come to understand my decision in time. But I must go, and you too have your own mission to attend. So let us part on good accord. You and I have known each other far too long, and I am not one to enjoy arguing, especially with you.” Reaching out a hand, he grasped mine, “Go with assurance that we will meet again.” He held it tight for only a second before enfolding me into his grizzly arms and hugged me tight, “Be careful out there, Roz, I mean it. Watch your six and keep your head down. I don’t want to think about…” I interrupted him,” Then don’t. I’ll be fine, and you know it.” Shaking his head he let go. “Until next we meet then.” I nodded and walked away.

Walking along the main path of the barracks, I looked to the sky, taking note of the shade of the moon. It was glowing red, a distant sign of bloodshed and death. Bowing my head, I knew that there was more to come, an endless plane of misery covered in blood just over the horizon. I often think too much of such things, “Why … ?” I spat the word.

“Ma’am?” a soldier standing nearby looked anxiously in my direction, “Are you all right?” His questioning gaze irked me.

“I’m fine. Go back to your duty.” I didn’t need to be so curt, but I am in no mood for conversation. I continued walking briskly along the path avoiding eye contact with anyone I passed. My mind reeled with the plans for the upcoming mission. We are going northbound to the ShadowsBane and NightShade regions within a matter of hours, and the team is to assemble in the Lake District for accountability and briefing, but I know that we are ill prepared for such a risk laden mission. My mission is one of importance, but a danger to the lives of all concerned. Death is inevitable, but I am in no hurry to join the ranks of the dead, and I have no wish to lose any more of my comrades to this coming excursion. Bad enough we are having to add two new recruits to our team; yet, even now we are heading down a route that is surely going to ensure more death!

Frustrated with the flow of my thoughts, I push on toward the station where the train will soon pull away. The train is old, but it is safe. There are no guarantees with planes anymore. They could be shot out of the sky in the blink of an eye. Ships are a gamble as well. Mines, amongst other things, are strewn everywhere in the oceans. Cars are not so common anymore, and those who own them are primarily the Peacemakers or the TransCouriers. The trains are the most common form of transportation, and it seems I am about to miss mine.

Running with my duffle bouncing off my backside, I reach around in my jacket pockets to find my ticket. Handing the porter my ticket, I drop my duffle at my feet. He stamps it and takes hold of my bag. “Oh no, I can handle it.” I said while pulling it back from his hands. He looks almost relieved as he let go of the strap, nodding he says, “Yes ma’am, right this way.” Pointing ahead of himself, he leads me to a small cubicle like area that is to be my hole for the next hour. I smile my thanks and inspect my surroundings. “Would you like me to bring you anything before we pull away from the station, Ma’am?” quips the Porter to my back. “No, thank you, I’m fine.” I turn to look at him before he nods his head again and walks back the way we came. “Peace, if for only a moment,” I sigh while sitting down. Closing my eyes as I lean back against the seat, I reach my hand down for my duffle. My eyes shoot open as I jump to my feet, “What the…” pulling my boot knife and pointing it directly at the collarbone, I look into the eyes of my teammate. “Come on now Ryan, what on earth were you thinking! Walking up on me like that, and unannounced to boot! You got a lot of nerve…” his hands up and eyes twinkling, he replies, “Easy, easy, Roz, I meant no harm!” I glared at him with every ounce of fury within me.

“I didn’t want to alarm you, but you looked so darned cute and comfy, all laid back and relaxing like. I just figured I’d put your duffle up for you. Besides, it’s not like you’re in a danger zone or anything, so what’s with the red alert attack here?” he grinned and pushed my knife aside.

Still fuming I retorted, “YOU of ALL PEOPLE should know better. Seriously, I mean, I could have hurt you just now. Not to mention, I booked this cabin for myself… SOLO… and I wasn’t expecting any visitors, so you were not supposed to be here, moving ANYthing.” I stuffed my knife back into the sheath and continued to glare.

My duffle still in hand he lifts it onto the rack behind me and plops down on the seat across from where I was just sitting. Twisting sideways to prop his feet up on the seat and putting his hands behind his head, he looks at me and says, “Well you just gonna stand there or you going to sit back down?”

“You have got to be kidding me!” I swat his feet off the seat and grit my teeth, “Didn’t your mother ever tell you it’s not polite to impede on peoples personal space? OR put your feet on other’s furniture?” sitting back down stiffly, “I think I did mention the fact that this is a single occupancy.”

He grinned at me, “Perhaps you did, I can’t remember, and really it’s not like I’m taking up all that much space and besides this isn’t your furniture, it is a bench seat on a train in a cabin that you’re riding in.” he paused to think a second, “Look at it this way, I’m just here to keep you company. You really shouldn’t spend so much time alone anyway. It’s bad for your health.” His grin grew even wider. “I’m hungry, are they going to serve some kind of late night snack or something?”

“You aren’t seriously going to just sit there and then ask me if they’re going to serve food, you bottomless pit. I cannot believe that you would actually believe that bull you said about you being here has any effect on my health.” My annoyance worsened as he said, “Come on, it’s just better if you have a companion. You can’t argue with yourself now, can you? I’m here to help you pass the time, and while I’m at it I was just wondering if I could get a bite to eat.”

“Incorrigible is what you are. Plain out annoying too. But whatever, I don’t care if you stay, just shut up and let me have some quiet. It’s bad enough that I spend every waking moment with the team when we’re on active, that now I’m going to be sharing my little bit of … what was supposed to be some peace and quiet …” I let my cheeks swell with air, he just sat there unrepentant and apparently unconcerned. The force of air out between my lips made a sort of whistle, “ I don’t know about the food and I really could care less. I would appreciate your lack of noise or even lack of presence, but I will deal. We should be there soon enough.” I lay my head back and thought of what was coming. The sigh I hear coming from the other side of the enclosure lets me know that he was drifting off to sleep. How like him to be so capable of passing out at the drop of a hat, while I can’t even get my mind to shut down long enough to let me rest let alone have some peace. I turn my head and look out the window as the train slowly begins to move, it’s wheels groaning on the tracks as if it were an old woman with painful arthritic bones that didn’t want to move.

I look across to Ryan and think about his predicament in life. I say predicament because there’s no real telling where or who or when he’s been. I know that it really didn’t make sense, him being this casually collected when all around him everything seemed to be shattered and broken. He would be the most self-maintained and cocky man I possibly would ever know, and as that very thought crossed my mind I realized I didn’t want to meet anyone else like him if it were possible. A crew cut that was slightly shaggy on the top in dirty blonde is the mop that he calls hair and shockingly blue eyes pierced from under his ridiculously long lashes. He stands exactly one inch above me in height, and never fails to point it out. 

Thinking about him in general brought forward the memory of when I actually thought of being normal. Normal in the sense that I could find someone to love, maybe settle down and perhaps even start a semblance of a family with. Thoughts and memories that I've all but blocked or forgotten after making the decision to be a Lifer. Being a Lifer meant that I chose The Corp over being a civilian, and that I was going to be a "soldier" until I either was forced into retirement or unto death during my time in service.  As the second on our team of seven, it was my responsibility to maintain the overall Health and Welfare of the team. Every member of the team has an OS (Occupational Specialty) that makes them an invaluable asset. There are primarily five groups of seven or eight that make up the Special Assault Teams of The Corp. The Corp is what you would consider the main body of the Military force with it's head being the Prime. 

Standing up quietly so as not to wake Ryan, I opened my duffle and pulled out a collection of manila folders I had placed on top when packing so that they were easily accessible for me to pull out and review during the trip, are the files of each team member. I put the files between my teeth and closed my duffle back. As I sat back down across from Ryan, I released the them from my teeth and looked at the top of the foremost file. Another sigh followed by light snoring let me know that my quiet rummaging had not disturbed my sleeping companion. I gazed out the window of the cab and saw nothing but darkness and shadows in the shapes of what I suspected to be trees speed past as the train charged forward into the night. Again thoughts of what could have been crossed my mind and this time the sigh I heard passed through my own lips. 

The End

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