Katy stumbled across the muddy field, her heart still beating hard in her chest. Adrenaline from the battle still pumped through her veins. The raid had ended, but it always took hours to bring herself down from the rush of war.
The area between where the rebel coalition called Ahuva had set up fort and the occupied city of Rostislav sat empty of human life. Other than herself and a handful of retreating soldiers, only the crows occupied the dead zone between the city and the rebel camp. In the darkening field Katy couldn’t tell what uniforms the stray soldiers wore so she didn’t fire at them, but she did suspiciously watch them until they disappeared. Dusk had fallen, and no one wanted to be out alone in the war-torn mud pit after dark.
Her feet ached from running on the concrete inside the city for hours. Her neck and shoulders ached from tension. Her stomach ached from hunger. Her bones ached with utter exhaustion. Parts of her young body she had never before acknowledged ached. Even her teeth hurt from grinding them in anxiety. Not even her previous life as a farmer punished her body the way her life as a rebel soldier did.
Again and again Commander Hayim sent them in to raid small strongholds of the Teodor Empire’s army in Rostislav, with little rest and little planning. She didn’t mind the many chances to avenge Victor. But anger roiled in her stomach anyway, because she knew she and her fellows were being used until collapse or death. And then their new commanders would just be replaced them all with someone else who would be driven just as hard. The days of being a family…of being a small band of cheerful rebels throwing off an invading power were gone.
Now she was so tired she could hardly see straight. Her heavy feet caught frequently on pieces of broken tanks and trucks, and occasionally she even stumbled over a body. Only her anger at Hayim and her hate for the Teodor kept her upright. One dirty hand absently rubbed at her face, the other hand loosely clutching her gun as she made her way across the field towards the lumpy cot she knew waited for her.
Her mind focused on the glorious idea of a few hours of sleep, she didn’t notice the figure crouched in the mud and destruction in front of her until she saw movement in the corner of her eye. She had almost passed an entire human being without noticing them at all. Suddenly the adrenaline that had been slowly flushing out of her system rushed back full blast, making her head spin. Her other hand came around and tightly clutched the gun that had been held limply at her side. She jumped back slightly, training her gun on the living body, blinking furiously to clear her vision of the dizziness brought by the adrenaline.
She looked closely at the figure in front of her. A woman dressed in muddy clothes crouched in the increasing darkness. Katy could see the faded mark of a medic emblazoned across the chest of her jacket. She also wore the white and red scarf denoting her rank as a doctor, but the strips were more a brownish gray now than white. Dark, curly hair covered her head and hung around her shoulders, obscuring her face for the moment. Katy realized she had to be very short as well; all these things made her nearly invisible until Katy had almost tripped over her. The medic crouched low over a gurgling and squirming Teodorian soldier.
“Hold it!” she shouted, cocking her pistol at the top of the medic’s head. She had to be a doctor for the Empire, or perhaps the Wojciech. Katy couldn’t let them go.Continue reading