August 5, 2094 – Canada
Switzerland stood, shoving his chair back. He surveyed the room, his eyes cold and suspicious. His fists were at his sides, shaking. For the first time, he spoke.
"You – all of you – are on notice. Anyone who steals from me will pay the price. Give it back now, or you won't like it when I find you out." The man's voice was deep, hollow, and haunting. "I don't know what you expect to find, whoever you are, but I think you would better give it back than find out what's inside."
All of the other competitors glanced at one another, unsure of either what he was talking about or who he meant. Everyone's attention had been on the fight, and theoretically anyone could have taken anything during the distraction.
Growing more agitated as each uneasy second passed, Switzerland scrutinized the thirty faces around him. He stormed across the room and out the door, slamming it behind him as harshly as possible. A few moments passed, and Rome stood up.
"Look," he said evenly, "we don't have to deal with this. Whoever has Switzerland's book needs to give it up. Now. Right now, it's best not to have this kind of petty behavior. And I can promise any would-be thieves that I will act as the law for the time being. Now, will anyone confess?"
He got no response from the room. He shook his head, disappointed, and left the room, Italy trailing behind him. One by one, the others began to leave, most of them finished eating by now.
All of this, Canada had watched with polite interest. He leaned towards Europa, across the table, and asked in a whisper, "Is it always like this?"
"Yeah," Europa answered, "it's pretty depressing. I'm glad that we're almost done with this whole train thing."
"Me too," Ukraine threw in. "I want some more space to move around, too."
Europa grinned a little. "And maybe to get away from Antarctica and your brother, too?"
Ukraine bowed her head, avoiding the question. She stood up, walking around Europa and out the door. Europa frowned.
"I suppose I must have hit a nerve," she guessed. Canada shrugged, and then stood as well.
"Hey," he asked, "does anyone know where my room is? I think I want to rest for a while – the train station wasn't especially comfortable."
Europa nodded. "Yeah, follow me, Cody. We've got the same room." Canada gave a grateful smile and followed behind Europa. She led him to the last room of the last car, room 5B. She opened the door for him, and he stepped inside. The top bunk on the left was a bit messy, clearly taken. The bottom one on the right was neatly made, with a bag – it reminded him of a gym bag – on the floor beside it. The top bunk was occupied by Alaska, who lifted her head to look at him as he entered.
"Oh, you're here to?" she muttered, "I was hoping to get some sleep along the way, but I guess not now. Can you at least not talk to that stupid bear all the time?"
Canada frowned, giving Alaska the saddest face she had ever seen. She lay back down, facing the wall, but Canada could still hear her muttering under her breath, "At least I don't talk to my animal…blasted insane…"
Canada turned around to face Europa, and she gave him a sympathetic smile.
"Sorry," she apologized, "but we don't really get much say in the matter."
He nodded glumly and sat on the only empty bunk, opening his already-delivered suitcase to make sure everything was still there. He zipped it back closed, and Everest started playing with the end of the zipper, batting it back and forth. Europa sat beside Canada, and Uko climbed off her shoulder and onto the bed, taking a regal and vaguely displeased stature as he watched Everest.
Europa put her arm around Canada's shoulders.
"Listen," she consoled him, "you won't have to be around everyone for long. And you're sure to make some more friends, anyway. It won't be as bad as you think."
He nodded dumbly.
"The thing is," he said, in a quiet, far-off voice, "this is the first time I've left home. I don't know anyone. I don't know where I am, or even where I'm going. I don't know what's going to happen, or whether I'll even be able to leave our destination. There's so much I don't know."
"Yeah, it is a little scary. But you have to realize, there are other people like you here, people who are just unsure. I know I am, and Ukraine is. She's absolutely frightened about what will happen win everything goes up in flames. Japan and China – that's East China – aren't really looking forward to it either. And I'm sure there are more who just put a brave face on it. But I'm sure you've heard the phrase before," She leaned back. "it's a necessary evil.
"I've heard about what everything was like before this all started. When all the countries were alone, and ruled themselves. Do you know what happened? Nation constantly fought against nation. Thousands of people died needlessly to accomplish trivial goals of their leaders. My own country was formed as people fled these wars. Nations were dissected into smaller and smaller parts – the United States used to have fifty states, for example. Ten of those are gone, and are now their own countries. Rome resurfaced. China split in two, and North and South Korea joined together. It was a mess.
"But then, the U.N. came up with the idea for the World Wars. They saw it as their masterpiece. Instead of thousands of people dying, what if – every year – each country lost only one person? And the rest of the time, the entire world would have one central government, and live in harmony?
"I mean, it was too bad for all the people who died during each War, but overall, it was a win-win-win scenario. The U.N. won, the countries all won, the people won. I guess it made more sense than people dying left and right and the center of power shifting all the time."
Canada and Europa turned to the door as it opened to admit the grey-haired girl who ate with them. She glanced at them, her face expressionless and eyes hidden beneath her bangs, before walking to her bunk and taking a seat, cross-legged, on top of it. She rested her elbows on her knees, her head propped up on her knuckles, silent and serene. Her polar bear cub curled up in her lap, surrounded by the alcove her arms provided.
The two sat quietly, watching her for a while, but she made no move to acknowledge them. After a few minutes of this, Canada pulled a sketchbook out of his suitcase and started to doodle.
August 5, 2094 – Iceland
Switzerland hadn't shown his face again today, and night was already falling. New Zealand had brought meals back to his room for him, but brought no news about the troubled man back to the others.
Russia laughed as he thought of Switzerland's rage at discovering the theft. Little did the fool know that the perpetrator had been right under his nose the whole time.
Russia, Antarctica, West China, Mongolia, Romania, and Laos were gathered together in Russia and Antarctica's room, Ukraine once again held under the spell of Russia's hypnotism. The alliance quieted as Russia took the small, black book from Romania and opened it to the first page. He found writing in ornate cursive, bearing the words:
This book belongs to Ulrich Burkhart.
There was a nice bit of information already – Switzerland's name. It seemed that the time had come to unmask the mystery man. Russia turned to the next page, grinning like a madman. He found just what he had expected and hoped for.
This entire time, Switzerland had been taking meticulous and detailed notes on each and every one of his fellow passengers. Russia skimmed through the book, reading out loud passages of importance.
Germany. Name: Kayla _.
Germany appears to be fairly competent, but prone to emotional attack. She surrounds herself with Spain, France, and Britain. Laid-back when unprovoked, fairly easygoing. No known skills or distinguishing traits. She does, however, come from the last nation to win, so she should not be underestimated. Threat level: Moderate.
Rome. Name: _.
Rome is often a bystander, but he puts up a good fight. Not an instigator, but will stand his ground, with the muscle to back it up. Possibly stronger than myself. Must watch closely to accurately gauge his abilities. [Note: Watch out for gauntleted hand. Gauntlet worn on left hand. Possibly left-handed? Investigate further.] Uncle of Italy, and is determined to protect him. Possible bargaining piece? In any case, avoid combat as long as possible. Threat level: High.
Russia was beginning to feel a little disappointed. He had already figured most of this out, and the records were clearly incomplete. Even he knew Rome's name was Lucius. This book might be slightly useful, but not nearly as much as he had hoped. He skipped ahead further.
Ukraine. Name: Mignon _.
Ukraine is timid and unsure. Does not appear to be a fighter, will likely run from most conflict. If this is the best that Ukraine has to offer, I fear for their chances in any of the future Wars as well. SPECIAL NOTE: Ukraine is deathly afraid of her brother, Russia. He may be able to convince her to fight. What is the extent of his influence over her? Threat level: Minimal.
Russia. Name: Stephan _.
Russia is nobody's fool. He definitely appears to have some kind of ace-in-the-hole, and many of the more unsavory competitors have begun to fall in line behind him. He appears to be the brains of the operation, with Antarctica backing him up. He also exercises extreme control over Ukraine and his other sister, who he simply refers to as 'Little Sister'. No one knows where she is from. One must wonder – exactly how many pawns does he have in this game? Alone, I could take him easily. However, Russia is a strategist, not a fighter – he has a plan. One laid out far before any of us boarded this train. Threat level: High.
Antarctica. Name: Peter _.
Antarctica is simply the brawn behind Russia's brains. I cannot defeat him myself, so I must trick him into fighting someone else, like Mongolia or Rome. He's strong, but doesn't appear too terribly bright. Russia's right-hand man? IMPORTANT: Instinctively searched for Russia as soon as he boarded. What's going on between them?
Russia laughed as he read. They were each just as pitifully clueless as the next. He closed the book, drawing a plain knife from inside his coat. He plunged it through both covers of the notebook, embedded in the paper. He handed it back to Romania.
"Here," he laughed, "get this back to him. Make it something good."
Romania nodded, and left the room. Russia looked around the circle formed by the rest of his followers.
"I'm sure," he said, "you've all already been preparing in your own way. It's almost time, however, so step it up however you can."
All of the other competitors, except for Antarctica, filed out. Russia sat pensively, head propped up on his fists. A hint of a smile touched his lips, but it flitted away just as quickly.
It was all so easy. Too easy.
Oooooh, Russia, you're such a bad boy! ;D
Hope you liked? Got a little more background on the Wars themselves, and a peek into Switzerland's notes.
Lady Iliasrum: I'm glad it's a little bit addictive, I'm getting addicted to writing more of it. Let's hope it keeps that up.
Stop-IBegYou: Thank you! I love long reviews, fyi, and I'm glad this was the kind of story that you were looking for! Yeah, about the Hunger Games thing - I finally finished the first book, and I wasn't nearly as impressed as I had hoped to be. This will get even further from that - eventually - so hang on to your hat! About Hetalia references...do I really have that many? I've watched ~7 episodes of Hetalia, and I'll admit Canada got a little inspiration from there, as a nod to 'my' Hetalia character, but I didn't think any others were that close. Maybe Rome (yeah, probably...), but I nothing else jumped out at me...hmmm. I find it a little funny that as favorite characters, you picked two (Egypt & Romania) who haven't been revealed that much, but...your pick! I'm sad as well about characters dying, 'cuz I've fallen in love with 90% of them. X3 I hadn't even really thought about how/when they're gonna die until today... Not looking super forward to writing about most of them dying, but I should have realized that when I came up with the premise.
And I hope this'll hold you until I finish the next chapter! We're getting close to the action, so get ready! Only one or two chapters left 'till then!