World War: Campaign for Eastland
Chapter 16

Copyright© 2018 by Lazlo Zalezac

The Lieutenant approached Sword Tomas timidly. Shield Lee made a gesture to Sword Tomas letting him know that someone was approaching him from behind.

“Mr. Jade Warrior, Sir.”

“I’m Sword Tomas.”

“I’m Lieutenant Jasper.”

“What do you need?”

Lieutenant Jasper fidgeted nervously for a moment. A dozen emotions flashed over his face. Finally, he blurted out, “I think we have a problem.”

“What kind of problem?”

“We just sent out three privates for town watch duty in Hamasada. My opinion is that they shouldn’t be given that responsibility.”

“Why not?”

“They’re bullies.”

“Did you inform anyone of your opinion?”

“Yes. I told Captain Martin, but he dismissed my concerns.”

“Did he tell you why?”

“He said that we were short men for that duty and they’d have to do.”

“You say they’re bullies,” Sword Tomas said.

“Yes. Sergeant Stanton and I interrupted several little scuffles that everyone denied was actually happening. We didn’t have enough evidence to officially put it down in their folder. I did note in it that they had problems getting along with others.”

“Captain Martin was aware of this?”

“Yes, Sword Tomas.”

“And he dismissed your concerns?”

“Yes, Sword Tomas.”

“Why did you feel it was necessary to bring this matter to my attention?”

“I would not want to contribute to a violation of a contract,” Lieutenant Jasper said nervously.

That was putting it mildly. He’d heard about the guy who had been crucified. He’d read the contract and knew that he could easily end up sharing in the punishment of the three men if they did something wrong. Knowing the three men, they were definitely going to get into trouble. Official chain of command or not, he wasn’t going to hang for anything those three bullies did. His life was more important than his career.

“That is understandable. What if you’re wrong?”

“I’d rather err by being too careful, then by not being careful enough.”

“Where is Sergeant Stanton?”

“He’s over there,” Lieutenant Jasper said pointing over to a cluster of men.

Sword Tomas pushed the button on his microphone and, in Elvish, said, “I have a situation. There’s a potential violation of contract with a high degree of probability.”

Every Jade Warrior in the area turned to look in his direction. The expressions on their faces were not pleasant. Looking around, Lieutenant Jasper wondered what he had just set in motion.


“Pua, are the people here mad at me?”

“No.”

“Are they mad at you?”

“No. They’re not mad at either of us.”

“Are you in trouble because of me?”

“I am not in trouble because of you. In fact, I’m not in trouble at all.”

“Why do they talk about us as though we are a problem?”

“Because we are a problem.”

Shield Pua pulled Susanna in for a hug. Rocking her gently, she said, “I am a Jade Warrior. I belong to the Shield cadre. My calling is to protect others. It is what I do. I stand guard through the dark, waiting and watching for an enemy that may never appear. I practice my skills during the day so that I’ll be fast to react when an enemy does appear.

“The thing is that I haven’t been standing guard at night or practicing during the day. People are worried that they can not depend upon me. That is the problem.”

“It’s because I’m with you all the time that you don’t stand guard.”

“Yes.”

“I could go with you,” Susanna said.

“No. You do not have the training to stand guard.”

“I could learn.”

“It’s too late.”

“It’s not even noon.”

“Your training should have started five years ago. Even if you had started five years ago, you wouldn’t finish your training for another seven.”

“Is guarding that hard?”

“It’s very hard. It is a great responsibility. The price of failure can be the death of everyone you know and love.”

“I guess that means that I can’t grow up to be like you.”

“You can grow up to be better than me.”

“Doing what?”

“I don’t know. There are a lot of things you could do, but you need to learn how to do them first.”

“I’m too old.”

“No you’re not.”

“You said that I had to start training five years ago.”

“That’s to be a guard. Other jobs that help Jade Force don’t require that kind of training.”

“Like what?”

Shield Pua looked around the room struggling to think up examples. She said, “We have people who raise our food. Without food, we’d all die. We have people who fix things. People who make things. We have people who collect information for us. We have people who do ... well they do what needs to be done. Without them, we’d be nothing, and that’s just here at the citadel.

“Back at the academy, we had people who taught us. We had dorm mothers who watched over us. We had cooks who made meals for us and maids who cleaned up after us.

“There are so many things you can do. All of them are a lot safer than being a Jade Warrior.”

“I’m not afraid.”

“I know you’re not, but I am. I’m afraid for you. I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.”

“Lord Ekkakaur said I should be in school.”

“She’s probably right, but not until you are ready for it.”

Susanna frowned. “When will I be ready for it?”

“I don’t know.”

“Would I learn numbers in school?”

“Yes. You’d learn all about numbers. You’d also learn to read and write.”

“I think I want to go to school now. I want to learn my numbers.”


The helicopter landed on the outskirts of the small town that was nestled amongst a patchwork of green fields and woodland. As far as tribal towns went, this one was pretty successful economically. They grew more wheat than they needed and sold the overage to a major dealer of grains. Every house had a satellite television. There were two temples in town.

The Cart got out of the helicopter carrying a medium sized box with him. A second Cart got out and looked around. It was not normal procedure to sent two Carts out like this, but with the sudden expansion of territory Jade Force was suffering from a significant shortage of people. There was too much to do and not enough people to do it all.

Cart Lou asked, “How do you want to handle this?”

Cart Sue said, “I wish we had a couple Shields.”

“Well, we don’t.”

“You can go into town alone and I’ll watch the helicopter or we both can go into town and leave the helicopter unguarded.”

“I guess I should probably go alone. If things turn ugly, then I can probably get back to the helicopter and you can get us out of here. If we’re both in town and things turn ugly, then we could get here only to discover that the helicopter has been damaged.”

“Okay. Just watch your back while you’re there.”

“They signed a contract.”

“That doesn’t mean they’ll follow it. That’s why we have town watches.”

“All I’ve got to do is drop the box off,” Cart Lou said.

“Well, get to it. We’ve got more stuff to deliver before the day is over.”

Cart Sue took a slow walk around the helicopter. When she got to the side nearest the woods, she stopped and studied the tree line. She might not be a shield, but she was a Jade Warrior. There was something that just didn’t look right. It didn’t take her long to focus in on it. There was a man out there and he was doing his best not to be seen.

She eased towards the back of the helicopter. She knew he was watching her. She knew he knew that she was watching him. There was a small movement. She saw the outline of a gun. She relaxed and then continued her inspection tour around the helicopter.

Cart Lou returned after her third trip around the helicopter. He climbed in and waited for her. She climbed in and started the sequence to start the helicopter.

“We had folks watching us from the woods.”

“Who?”

“Gangin.”

“I wonder what they were doing here.”

“No telling. What was in the box?”

“I don’t know. They didn’t open it while I was there.”

“Something is going on.”

Cart Lou said, “That’s not our job. We’re just the delivery guys.”

“Yeah, we’re just the delivery gals,” Cart Sue replied with a smile.


As the Jade Empire expanded across Hamasada, the local tribes became less and less impressed with the invaders. Sure, they had heard how the Jade Warriors were willing to take out entire villages who broke the contract. They also heard stories about how the Jade Empire treated the tribes with respect, but that’s all they were – stories. They also heard about Jana executing the rapist. It was true that some of the stories bore very little resemblance to the truth.

In the town of Zwicka in Hamasada, the tribal leaders had signed the contract that was delivered by an officer of Jade Empire army. The old men had been waiting to see these Jade Warriors for themselves and were disappointed that a Jade Warrior hadn’t made the trip to deal with them directly. In fact, they felt insulted, but signed the contract because the alternative was the death of the tribe.

They didn’t want a couple of soldiers coming into their town to tell them what to do. Soldiers were soldiers, not fighters or warriors. Soldiers were disciplined, but fought under orders. Fighters were undisciplined and entered battle with a passion. A warrior was disciplined and required neither orders or passion to fight, only necessity. The old men wanted to see a Jade Warrior. Unfortunately, what the town of Zwicka got was Private Conway and Private Shoemaker.

Private Conway was a tall thin man with a laid back easy personality. He didn’t talk much, but when he did it was in a deep voice with the words delivered in slow measured manner. When he walked, his long legs made his movement seem slow and languid while still covering distances with deceptive ease. He was a thinker.

Private Shoemaker was a squat man with much more expressive personality. He seemed to talk with his hands. When standing at attention it was like he couldn’t talk since he couldn’t wave his arms about. His words came out in a high pitched voice and in a staccato manner. He tended to have sharp quick movements. With his shorter legs, it looked like he was running when walking beside Private Conway.

Individually, Private Conway and Private Shoemaker were unremarkable. Together, well ... they were something else. One officer had said of them that they had a fine future as screen writers for the theater of the absurd. They would exaggerate a situation until it passed any point of credulity. They would smile broadly and act with extreme politeness while pointing out every blunder someone ever made. The truly weird thing was the people liked them. They would laugh at the antics of pair and walk away thinking about the point the two had made.

After being delivered to the town watch headquarters, the two men spent an hour setting things up in the top floor which served as a barracks and in the bottom floor which served as the office. The building itself didn’t have the full defensive alterations yet. That was to come in the next few weeks. The pace of the war had accelerated and they were nearly at the bottom of the list for improvements.

The two men, now comfortably settled in their new abode, decided to take a walk around the town just to get a feel for the place. They were going to be there for a while and thought they’d learn just what there was to do in town. They were hoping there would be places to go for entertainment, like a movie theater and a restaurant. They had been warned that the tribes didn’t go much for things like that, preferring to engage in family oriented social occasions. They couldn’t expect to be invited to any of those.

They hadn’t gotten more than ten steps from the office door when two young men stepped into their path. The men just stood there blocking their way. Private Shoemaker moved off to the side and made a gesture for them to pass. The young men just stood there blocking their way.

The young men didn’t look angry. They didn’t make threatening gestures. They didn’t even say anything. They just stood there looking past the two privates as if they didn’t exist.

Knowing what punishment awaited them if they got into a pushing match with the locals, Private Conway said, “Let’s just walk around them.”

“Sure.”

The two privates walked around the young men. They made it a couple dozen steps before two more young men stepped in their way. Like the first two young men, they didn’t move when Private Shoemaker stepped out of the way and made a gesture for them to pass. Getting concerned, Private Conway looked over his shoulder to see the first two men walking away from them. At least they weren’t getting boxed in.

The two privates walked around the two men who were blocking their way. They had just about reached the two market when two more young men stepped in their way. Like the others, they just stood there looking past the privates. Once the privates passed them, they continued their walk down the street leaving the two privates watching them.

Looking around nervously, Private Shoemaker said, “This doesn’t look good.”

“No, it doesn’t,” Private Conway said.

“They’re trying to provoke us.”

“It looks that way to me.”

The two privates made their way to the market. There wasn’t much to see this late in the day. The majority of vendors had already packed up their goods and headed home. Disappointed, the two men turned to make the walk back to their building.

From the gates of four different residences, packs of women emerged. They met in the street and started talking. They filled the street from one side to the other. There was no way past them. Men stood at the gates watching over the women protectively, although to be more honest about it, they were watching the two soldiers to see what they would do.

“We can’t go back the way we came,” Private Shoemaker said.

“We’ll just have to wait them out,” Private Conway said.

“You mean we just stand here and do nothing?”

“There’s the tea house over there. We could go in and give our respects to the tribal leaders.”

 
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