Author's Note: I haven't written for this in two years. Crazy. This is just a haphazard mix of ideas and characters, an incoherent mess. That being said, it is hard to work on this when every day I hear about a border crisis, China threatening war, Europe in political turmoil, etc. I don't want current events to shape what happens in this story, but when current events start to mimic the story it becomes difficult, so I stopped working on it. Here's a short chapter to remind you I'm still alive lol and thanks for reading this far!
Voices murmured barely above whispers. They must have thought he was asleep because they were doing their damnedest to not make too much noise. Percy sighed. His eyes were wide open, although no one could tell since he had placed his hat over his face. He had done so to block out the world, even if superficially.
That and he hated crying in front of others. When was the last time he had even shed a tear? It had been so long the feeling was foreign to him. No matter what had happened around him, he had been stonewalled. Now, the frustration inside of him was boiling over.
They had left Union towards Plattsmouth with the intention of getting Warren and Torres the medical care they needed. Warren did not make it. Percy had held his hand as he breathed his last breath, a whispered prayer of forgiveness. At the time, Percy had shown no outward emotion. Instead he had simply told those with him it was time to turn back to Union; Warren needed to be returned to his family and there was work to do.
During the drive back – after draping a Federation flag over Warren's body – Percy began to dwell on the futility of their situation. Had he not lost his two closest friends, perhaps he wouldn't have felt the creeping sensation of despair. Losing Wallace was a blow almost strong enough to kill him. He had no clue how he would survive without Warren, too.
To make matters worse, he couldn't find a way to win. He wasn't an idiot. Taking on the United States was a risk few in the world dare attempt and for good reason. The odds were never in their favor. Yet throughout his entire life, had they ever been in his favor? Then again, just because he had been lucky before didn't mean it would always be that way…
"So, at what crossroads did you make your deal with the devil?"
Percy hadn't a clue who spoken or what they were talking about. Carefully, he peaked out from under his cap to find a muddy-faced soldier staring expectantly back at him. This man repeated, "At what crossroads did you make your deal with the devil? You ever hear of Robert Johnson? They say he met the devil at a crossroads. Sold his soul to become the greatest guitar player man'd ever seen. Where did you sell your soul? No way you didn't. No normal man accomplishes what you did."
"First Ave and Harrison Road. At the recruiter's office," Percy said.
The people around him laughed. "Hey, the man's got jokes! I always thought the famous Major Raymond would be more of a hardass," someone said.
"He's not wrong though. We all made the same deal. Travel the world for free! Only cost is your sanity!"
As those around him grew louder, he focused his hearing on the radio chatter. Well, he focused the best he could. Every day he became more aware of what war had done to his hearing, Sometimes he felt thankful to have any hearing left at all.
From what little he could pick up from the radio chatter, it sounded as though his senior officers were split. Mackenzie was still in Offutt, running the entire operation in his absence; Barton and Conroy had gone to Weeping Water, where allegedly Rawlings and Riane had been taken; Goldwin was entrenched in Union; Skipper and Sun had yet to return from the Bitterroot Mountains. Of course, by this point, Wakeman was considered lost in action.
It was likely he wouldn't see some of them ever again. Such a thought made him look bitterly back on the actions that had gotten them to that point. War wasn't supposed to happen on American soil. It never did. For most of its people – Percy included – it seemed untouchable. When they had been sent to the border, Percy and his Company had wrongly assumed it was an insignificant situation that would end quickly. They had no idea the unraveling that would commence.
Percy had dedicated himself to his troops. That is why he had gone along with all of their desires. He knew their actions were foolish but he felt as though there was merit in their reasoning. Now he was left wondering if things would have escalated as quickly as they did if he had put his foot down and told them no. It didn't matter. They were all paying for their sins.
Eventually, he was going to have to make the decision where his final stand would be, and how many of his faithful followers would he take with him. The end result of this fiasco could only be death. That didn't mean he wasn't committed, however. Despite the reality of their situation, he wanted to make sure he put forth his best effort. Yet to do that, he was going to have to severe his emotional connection to Union, America, and all of its people. He would have to be ruthless.
"Send communication to Goldwin and the others. Tell them to reroute to Offutt immediately," Percy suddenly ordered. These weren't even his men. These were Americans. It was possible they wouldn't heed his command.
The muddied faced man that had addressed him early said, "Why don't we tell them when we get there?"
"We need to reroute, too. We'll have to bury the Minister in Offutt," Percy said. Just saying those words caused his body to shake. It was hard to disconnect himself from all emotions. Failing to take care of Warren's body felt like he failed as a friend. "Tell the men with Torres they need to leave Plattsmouth immediately and join us. I don't care what his medical condition is."
Those in the vehicle with him hesitated for a moment. It seemed like an order given in the haze of a fever, uncharacteristically foolish for the famous Major. A soldier asked, "What's the game plan?"
Percy didn't have to answer. He thought about leaving his plans unsaid. After all, these soldiers were not part of his movement, not part of his extended military family. If they somehow fought off the stratocrats then they would become enemies. Percy's group were traitors. It just so happened that the Liberation Sect viewed the stratocrats with more disdain, and all agreed they were a more immediate threat to the American way of life.
However, he felt as though he had to say it. He needed to speak his truth, no matter how brief or pointless. Life was growing shorter for him every passing second. There was no reason to hide. What was there to gain? Nothing.
"We're going to make our stand against the Americans in Weeping Water. I'm going to annihilate them. Or die trying."