Chapter 5 – Mission and Escape

It's been two days after Mella and Alice left me behind at my own will. I wonder what they would've done if they were given the choice to choose what to do. I guess they might leave me behind anyways, just to save them the trouble of looking out for an extra person. In the ranks, I was quickly given high authority due to me being a manipulator; an earth one at that. Of course most of the fire troops use fire style, due to country statistics, but there were some instances where someone may have more than one style. I saw the commander of the eighth squad use basic water manipulating to put out his sub-ordinate's fire. He was actually quite nice, for someone involved in trying to dominate the world, but the objective was the same nonetheless. Yet now, I'm a part of it against my will. Wonder what's his say in this? But you know, what a change it is, from helping the Incarnation of Spirits prevent apocalypse, to helping the fire country rule the world. The more I think about it, the more I realize I may just be a mere pawn in this game of life and death. Lapin's starts to talk to me unconsciously again.

"JADE, FROM MY FINDINGS HERE, IT LOOKS LIKE THEY INVENTED ARTIFICIAL SPIRITS. WHENEVER WE PASS BY SKILLED MANIPULATORS, I SENSE A WAVE OF IMMENSE EVIL COMING FROM THEM." Lapin announced. "ENDANGERING THE SPIRIT, THE EXTRACT IT'S POWERS INTO AN ORB FORM WHICH THE SOLDIER CAN CONTROL IT FROM. US SPIRITS ARE IMMORTAL YOU SEE, SO-"

I cut him off. "Meaning they can produce as many manipulators as they want to power the fire army." I turn to my squad of men. "Men, you are the newer recruits, no?" A few of them nodded. "We've been assigned the task of guarding the forest southeast of the earth capital. Please ready yourselves, we'll be leaving tomorrow morning and will take us until sundown tomorrow to get there. We will stay there for a few days while the main forces prepare for and skirmish with the capitals outer defenses. Got that? Then you are dismissed."

I walk away in sorrow as I finished my first mission briefing. The two should have gotten to the capital by now. If not, there would be the problem of having to fight them against my will. Lying in my bed, I look out the window in my assigned room to see the watchtowers' lights, and my restricted view of the sky. There's no moon or stars to see here. My view darkens to pitch black and I figure my eyesight is gone again, which happens now and then. It's a hassle, I should really get my eyes checked. But it's times like this where I can feel isolated from the army. It feels somewhat refreshing to have no clue where you are and you can drift in your own world. Like, in an endless field of grass in the night.

Even half asleep, I hear the soldier's footsteps patrolling the halls. This is what happened when I first tried to escape. They made sure I stayed here, so they made some new recruits patrol this wing of the building. Then I hear it. The struggle of soldiers. What were they doing, fighting amongst themselves?! At this hour?! If you wish to confine me here, at least make sure to have nice quiet nights while off-duty! I used an ability that Lapin told me about when I told him about my eyesight. Using the entire flooring of the building, or the ground itself, as a mediator, I will be able to hear and feel every vibration made. And right now, I could feel multiple people struggling in front of my door. Bursting the door open, I hear everything loud and clear. A girl struggling with the guards. The guards struggling with the girl. Then the guards coming towards me when they see me come out during the commotion.

"Let go of me!" the girl screamed. I can hear her on the floor struggling with her arms to escape. I stand while the others come and grab me.

"Commander! You mustn't let this child disturb your sleep." the lesser soldier said. "You have a mission tomorrow! There's no need to be concern about a brat!"

I'm amused to see them say for it not to disturb me. No, no, no, no, that isn't like me. But, it does bother me. "What you say about this mission is true, but my concern for the child doesn't interfere with anything. If anything, it relates to me. You know why?" I feel like telling them off. I really, really feel like it, but it's not the proper way to handle things. "Well, if you did, you would avoid any interaction with me." The soldiers successfully put down the child. "Please. Unhand the child."

They do as they were told and the child stands up. She looks innocent and hurt. Like Mella when I first found her when she had no idea that she robbed my bag. The girl looks at me. Then unexpectedly kicks me in the side. She took me by surprise, but I got her trapped. Holding onto her leg, I questioned her. "Why are you here, of all places?"

"Hmph! As if a fire commander controlled by the high arch cares." she talked back, trying to wiggle out of my grip which was rock hard. We were causing a scene in the hall, but it didn't really matter now does it. No, it does.

I look left and right, seeing soldiers leave their posts to see what's going on. "All of you. Return to your posts. I'll settle this." They leave without questioning my actions and I get to talk to the girl in privacy, or close to it. "So again, why are you here?"

She turns away. "I told you already...what would an army puppet like you know..."

"It is quite true that I may be a puppet, but not for the reasons you think." I say. I let her go, to have her sit on the ground. "My friends were captured by the fire. To free them, I had to join them, since, in their records, show I am a great fighter."

"Why should I believe you?" she asks.

I thought about it. Then I remembered something. My hearing, my eyesight, and my style. "Then, I'll tell you who I am." I crouched down to her height. "Jade Flair, from Teras, a small village south of the trading town of Portas Tela. If you don't believe me, look at my clothes, I don't wear the uniform of the fire and this necklace represents the strongest hunters and fighters in the village. You can trust me, but I had to let them take me to free my friends."

"You just let yourself go without a fight?" the girl seemed a little disappointed.

"No. I fought until he threatened to kill them, that-...Sorry, didn't mean to get angry about it. More over, they took everyone in the village when I was gone, and used them for the war effort. Then burned down the village."

"How cruel. I guess I really can trust you then. Right now, it's just there's no one I can talk to, or relate to. They killed my parents. They destroyed my village. There's really nothing left for me." the girl says, near tears.

"That's wrong. You have me to relate to. Our villages were destroyed; they captured us and used us. I don't even know if my parents are even alive, since it's been at least three weeks since they were taken." I tried to console her, but she just couldn't hold in her tears, and she held me for comfort. "Hey, it's okay. I think there's a way out of this, if my friends didn't abandon me. No. There is a way because I know they won't abandon me. We'll get out of this. Starting tomorrow, I'll be setting out, and you'll be coming with me. For now, let's rest our minds and sleep."

I take her into my room so she would be able to sleep in a more reassuring place. This night was really interesting. Meeting a girl with who has nearly the same conditions of living. We have each other to rely on now, so it won't be so hard to go through the day anymore. When we set up camp in the forest maybe my friends will come, and we'll be free. Well, shouldn't hope for too much, they should need to do some stuff before that could happen.

Morning came and Souris, the girl from last night, was allowed to come with me on our mission. After a few hours from departure, the soldiers were starting to feel the toll of long-distance travel by foot. Of course, I was quite used to it and Souris had no trouble being on my shoulders, but the rest were stamina-less. We all took a break by some rocks isolated in the plains. The forest should be a little more northwest from here, and from there, we have to head a bit more north to get into the middle of the forest. It'd be a hassle if one of the suspicious fire soldiers trailed us this far or plans to keep trailing us, but if we do something, they'll report back and have us killed. I can tell that they've followed us, but I'll have to put up with it, since I'm the only one that knows.

"Commander? Where are you looking? Northwest is this way." one of my men said.

"Oh. Yeah, let's keep going."

"Is something the matter?" Souris asked, aware of my frustration. I shook my head and told her that it was nothing. "Don't lie. I can feel it in your hands."

Just to make sure we're unheard I headed a bit further up front and spoke quietly. "I think one of the soldiers in the base suspects us, so they sent a scout to trail. There's not much we can do about it but we might lose our cover."

"Then there's no helping it." Souris just looked forward to our destination, the forest nearby. Not only were there scouts behind us, but I feel that there are more things watching us. The forest seems huge and lively, full of animals and life, it was wonderful. I haven't been out of that metal cage since they made my convert, but I have been hoping for Mella and Alice to come back. Otherwise, I'd have to use the plan that I came up with last night with Souris. If we have to resort to that, then we'll be chased for weeks. My soldiers enter the forest, not knowing that I saw a string at the entrance. Someone knows we're here now, whether or not they'll help us is the problem.

The group settles in the forest clearing, near the capital walls. There are too many what if's in my mind, I need someone to clear them up for me. The most important one though is, if my friends are still out there. I hear rustling in the bushes, and strong wind from the trees. Souris looks around as well and the rest of the fire troops. I build a barrier over me and the nearby men. Those who were farther than a few meters were vulnerable, but that was only one or two. Our camp was trashed and the noise died down. I let go of our defenses and like I thought, Mella and Alice attacked us. I nod my head and they get what they need to do. Bring down the soldiers around me. I called Souris over behind me to put up another wall, but this time, weak at the ends. I didn't know until now, but Mella is a Manipulator attuned to water. The power of water and wind took everyone except me and Souris down, scattering them in the woods. I look up and Mella is coming at us with water style. I raised my defenses once more.

"What are you doing?!" I yelled holding on tight to Souris and the wall.

"That girl is one of the fire, is she not?" Alice questioned.

"No! I met her at the base. She was a prisoner." Souris held on to her dear life from the wind, and onto my jacket. "Now let up the attacks."

They put their attacks down and I was able to put my defense down. That exhausted me but it was worth my freedom. The sun was setting beyond the trees and the sky was orange-red and blue. Night was coming, the perfect time for the scout to come out. Guess we'll have to worry about it. Souris and I tell them about the scout following us. They exchanged glances thinking of plans, but they went with mine, to wait 'til night for the scout to come out. We ate our dinner, and we rested. Since I always look up at the stars, I waited until the other three slept to get up. The beautiful stars of night were always a sight to see. Just as I thought, the scout came up behind me, but unfortunately, the others weren't able to get up. I face him myself.

"Traitor." he said.

"I'm not a traitor. I just never was aligned with you." I rephrased. "More like, they threatened and forced me to."

"Heh. Whether or not you were forced, you are still part of the fire army. Your information has been gathered and recorded." he looks towards the camp. "As well as that girl."

"The more you talk, the more chance I have of hitting you." I say.

"We know everything. Your parents are still alive. On the battlefield, they fought ferociously for the sole purpose of seeing you again one day. The rest of the villagers are in their squad."

"No matter what you say, I'm not going back. If my parents are coming back, they'll be back by my hand."

"Ohoho. Your eyes seem interesting. Shining like that." he complimented. "Maybe I should dissect them. Hehehe."

"Woah...you're creeping me out...My jade eyes aren't that special, they're a family trait." I say, getting his hands off my face. "Also, who the heck are you? We totally missed our introductions."

"Hmm? Since I am a polite, I will tell you who I am. Ninja Typhr." Typhr started. "Jade, your eyes aren't jade. They're cobalt and green."

"W-What..?" I wasn't so shocked, since my mother told before that my eye change. "My eyes are jade."

"Hmm...It seems we are both wrong. When you were applied, your eyes were fiery red." When I was with the guy who threatened me. Can't seem to remember his name. "Moreover, other people have seen your eyes purple, yellow, blue, as you said, jade, and two different colors as it is now. Surely you are hiding something."

I'm not. I didn't even know my eyes turned into those colors. This is all a mystery to me. My mother told me some of this before, but I didn't understand it. There's nothing I can do about it. I'm clueless. This guy is very observant, and gets his information. What are we going to do about it? I barely know anything about this and he knows the basics about me, so we don't know anything. The only people who would know are my parents.

"What are you going to plot now?" I ask. "Have the army come after us? Kill us on the spot?"

"I wouldn't do such a thing. In fact I'm not even aligned with the fire. I freelance." Typhr said. "You seemed interesting enough, so I followed you. Since the mobile stones. It felt right calling you a traitor, since you did betray the fire."

"You've got to be kidding me. You followed us from there?" So, he's seen my eyes like that. Nobody has said anything. Alice, Mella, Souris. The fire soldiers even kept quiet. What was it about me that kept them like that? Hm...The fact that he freelances also has me thinking. "What if you were with our group?"

"Huh? Join you? Not that bad an offer. I'll sleep on it." Typhr answers. Guess it does seem good after the entire struggle helping the villages from the fire. He leaves as I continue to look to the sky. At least he wasn't a fire country scout or spy. That would've made things worse.

Well, the stars were glimmering in the sky, the moon high and full. The wind blew gracefully. At times like these, it feels like it's quiet and peaceful, even among the darkness of night in the shadowy trees. Always makes me fall asleep.