“Defiant” – Life in Wartime

Episode five seems to be consuming my mind.  That’s fine.

Someone pointed out the spelling/grammatical errors.  Yepper:  by the basket-load.  These are RAWS.  I make a very basic spell and grammar check before posting, but no editing.  I’m writing, quite possibly to save my life, in what time I have.  After a long dry spell, I SEE things!  I want so much to show all of you!

So, sorry about the errors.  I’ll try to do better.  Cheers!

“Defiant” – Episode 5 (part 1)
    She walked purposefully out the door and across the hall.  Unbidden, Nichole rose and followed her.  Franks rapped on the door as she opened it.
    “What can you see, Henry?”
    A middle-aged man with a goatee in a faded brown suit – elbow patches, Nichole thought, that’s so last Century!  Wait – was standing while cranking the charge handle of a small radio.  He looked up.
    “Hey, Pat,” he said.  “Gimme a sec.”
    He turned the radio on.  Nothing but static.  Nichole was curious that he didn’t try the dial.
    “Humph!  Let’s hope the flaggers are better!”  He grumbled.  He picked up a pair of field glasses as he walked around his desk and looked out the window to the northeast.  The sirens continued their wail.  Coming quietly behind them, Nichole looked down to see the students running.  Not randomly, but running.  Franks took note of her and spoke.
    “As I said, Miss Clarke:  by our fingers.  And that means we can’t get stupid!  We – ”
    “Flags coming out!”  The older man, Henry, called, not moving as he peered into the distance.
    “Militia A… north bridge… mob… militia B… stand to… and wait…”  He called out slowly.  Nichole realized that they must use the height of the bridges to send messages throughout the city using semaphores, or something close to it.  The radio crackled.
    “…peating:  mob from the north attempting to seize the bridge!  All Militia A to milepoint 307; DO NOT cross to Heyden Island, there are reports of boats on the river!  Fort Vancouver under heavy fire.  Militia B to stand to and await orders!  Repeating:  mob – ”  Henry turned and lowered the sound.
    “Boats, huh,” he said gruffly.  “Not bad for a mob.”
    “I’d thought them all starved by now,” Franks said quietly.
    “’Them?’” Nichole ventured.  Henry seemed to notice her for the first time.  He looked a question to Patricia.  She smiled ruefully, flipping her wrist at the girl.
    “Recall all that talk about the ‘resurgent Japanese’ and the help they might send us?”  She said bitterly.  Henry was even more lost.  Patricia dropped her hand, then her head.
    “She’s it.  We’re dead.”
    I’ve never felt offended before, how interesting!  Nichole thought.
    “She’s… this kid… is all they sent?”  Henry was almost choking.  They’re afraid; leaderless.  Nichole had been thus right after she awoke.  A strong hand saved her then; they need that now.
    She slammed her open hand onto the man’s desk.  They both looked at her.
    “Report!  Who’s trying to cross the river!”  She shouted.  From the hallway she heard others wonder who was yelling.
    “Ahm, er…”  Henry muttered.
    “A barbarian mob of survivors from the starving of all points north of us in Washington State.  The Breakup was a bloodbath in Seattle.  When rumor reached the survivors that Portland was intact, they’ve made two incursions against us.  After the first, Mayor Johnson blew the I-205 bridge to make defense easier.  It just that then…”  She trailed off.
    “Yes!  What ‘then!’”  Nichole shouted.  Franks flinched as if shocked.
    “Then, we started getting raids from the highlands across the Cascade Range.”  Her head dropped again.  “The survivors there are nothing more than the Huns, seven hundred years on.  They… they like to flay people alive.”
    Nichole heard the rumble of diesel trucks outside.
    “What’s that noise?”
    “Self-defense gets priority,” Henry said, sinking back into his chair.  “Even with fuel.  All able-bodied men sixteen to sixty in Militia A are being sent north to the I-5 bridge.”
    “Militia A,” she echoed.  “What’s that Militia B?”
    He looked up at her.
    “What a child they sent!”  He said bitterly.  “If we send everyone north, what happens when a raiding party comes at us from some other direction?”  His head fell again.
    “Doesn’t matter.  We’re done for.”
    There was shouting outside.  Male voices.  Must be those men from the school going to fight.  Wait!
    Her hearing picked out one voice….  She stepped towards to Henry’s office door, clicking her tongue.
    “I going now,” she said in a low voice.  She almost looked back, with her frozen emerald eyes.  “To save your world.”
    Patricia and Henry looked up to see an empty doorway.
    She was down the four flights of stairs in less than fifteen seconds.  Then outside running towards the voice she heard.  There!  Joe was just sitting down in the back of an old open topped deuce and a half with two dozen others.  No uniforms, but all had a light blue armband on their upper left biceps.  Militia, indeed.
    “Joe!”  She yelled, surprisingly loud.  Everyone turned.
    “Nichole!  What are you doing here?”  He shook his head.  “No matter; we’ve got to leave now!”
    The last two men climbed in; the rear gate was slammed shut.  Joe started to wave, but, perhaps thinking of his fate, thought better of it.
    Damn him!  She fumed.  My first friend here!
    She tore off her scarf and wadded it into a ball.
    “Here!  Catch!”
    She flung it at him as hard as she could, but silk was silk.  It unfurled and just made it to the outstretched hand of the young man seated last.  He stared for only a second, then passed it on.  But he looked back.
    What a girl, he thought.
    His mates passed the scarf to Joe, who half stood.
    “Than–”  He was thrown back onto the bench as the truck lurched off.
    “Don’t you DARE die!”  Nichole screamed, her amplified voice echoing around the campus.
    The trucks were gone.  Everyone else began moving again.  There was an odd puttering sound behind her.
    “Such a loud voice from such a small girl.”  Someone said quietly behind her.  She whirled about as she tried to think what she should do next.
    Gil, on a dirt bike.  He, too, had an armband.  From this angle, she could see the large ‘B’ on it.  Oh.  So he and his others would be the reserve….  When her eyes took in the rest of him, she smiled.  Dangerously.
    His eyes were somewhere between brown and gray.  They betrayed nothing.  She walked over to him, stopping only inches away.
    “Yes?”  He asked carefully.  She reached both hands around his neck.
    With her left she touched the stock of his VEPR II battle rifle; with her right, the pommel of his samurai sword.  Now her mouth was a half foot from his.
    “We’re going to get along just fine!”  She slid around him onto his bike, her left hand on his shoulder.  “Take me to the Kongo, now.”
    He didn’t move.
    “Hey.  My orders are to report…”  He began.
    “Your orders are to save Portland.  And right now,” she leaned her mouth close to his ear, “I’m the only one that can.  That’s an Order, militiaman!”
    “Dammit,” he swore, softly.  The bike’s engine whined in protest at the weight and speed.
    He almost lost her on their first hard turn.
    “Have you ever been on a bike before!?”  He yelled over his shoulder.
    “Nope!”
    “Idiot!  Get your damned hand off my shoulder and wrap your arms around me!  Like that!  Lean into me, or else you’re just gonna be a smear when I get to the dock!”
    An Order, but not an Order.  She leaned into him, thinking quickly.  She felt the odd sensation from the evening before, even in the midst of this crisis.  She wondered about what she smelled earlier, and tried again.  No, totally different.  Besides the fuel and leather, Gil did smell slightly of fear, but other unknowns as well.  She allowed herself to feel alone and afraid for a timeslice, then focused again on saving the world.
    “Why the ship?”  Gil yelled to the wind.
    “Guided missile destroyer!  Do you people have one?”  She yelled back.  They were now on the road next to the Willamette.  She could see Kongo’s mast ahead.
    “Japan’s gonna fight for us?!”  He yelled, incredulous.
    “Yes!”  She shouted.  I am.
    The dirtbike screeched to a halt.  She gave a harder squeeze about him.
    “Wait for me!”
    Nichole took off running down the pier.  She knew people – people with guns – were yelling for her to stop.  She also heard the voice of John Beauchamp yelling ‘don’t fire! don’t fire!’
    There were two armed JMSDF Marines at the base of the gangway; more at the top.  They’d heard the sirens, too.  She drew herself up, then bowed respectfully.
    “<I must speak with Captain Gunzou,>” she raised herself.  “<Now.>”
    They all knew her from the voyage over.  They were all also slightly in love with her, too.  But this and that were two different things.
    “<Miss Clarke,>” the lance corporal began, “<please…>”
    She hated to let one shoe drop.  But she hated the image in her mind of explaining her failure to the Throne two weeks from now.
    “<You all know I’m different,>” she began.  They barely nodded.  “<I am a personal agent of Empress Togame.  Step aside!>”
    She read their human reaxions in a moment and moved pass them.  By the time she was at the top of the gangway the lower group was waving at the others to her through.
    She’d passed through an outer hatch and was on her way up when just collided with Midshipman Sasaki.
    “<Miss Clarke!>”  He exclaimed.
    “<No time; come on!>”  She pushed passed him, headed up.
    When the bulkhead of the bridge banged open, several officers and men let their hands fall to their sidearms.  Seeing it was their most recent mascot, they sighed in relief.  Until they saw the look on her face.  And that she strode quickly to the Captain’s Chair.
    Not that there was anyone in it.  There never was.  The Captain was either in CIC or, if he was on the bridge, walking about with his white mug of coffee.  It was a rumor on ship that he took his coffee with a single drop of machine oil in it.  It was also a rumor that the Romanji around the base of the mug said something about “…the time of EVE?”
    As it was, he was talking quietly to the Communications Officer.  He seemed surprised to see Nichole.  She stepped towards him and bowed respectfully.
    “<Sir!  You know my Secondary Commission!>”  A statement.
    “<Yes.>”  His voice was low, but everyone heard it.  And shivered.
    “<Please decode the following!>”  She cried.  “<Time is of the essence!>”
    His eyes narrowed to almost nothing.  Unknown unknowns.  His eyes flicked for a second to the Comm Officer, who took what looked like a smartphone from his pocket.  But not connected to any wireless at all.  This man nodded to Nichole.
    “<H455633JE445KLE5027KHH335.>”  She recited.  The Comm Officer grunted and proffered the handheld to the Captain.  He looked at it for a moment, then to the girl.
    “<’A storm in the Inland Sea.’>”  He said with great precision.
    “<’The snows in Iwate are great.’>”  She replied.  The Captain paused for only a second.
    He took a step back, and to the utter shock of the bridge, bowed to Nichole.
    “<Please, tell me what you need.”>  He said simply.
    “<A personal radio; and please put your ship on battle stations.>”  The stress was getting to her processors.  She allowed her arms to fly over her head.  “<We’re going to save this little corner of the world, Captain!>”
    Someone – she never knew who – guffawed slightly.  She learned much later of how that man’s career ended that day.
    “<Hurry.>”  He said.  As she left, she realized neither his face nor eyes had betrayed the slightest emotion.

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