My father once told me, in one of his pithy bits of Dad wisdom, that adventure was someone far away in deep deep trouble, terrified out of their mind, that happened some time ago and now was edited for the listener or reader. Normally, he said, it was explaining in far, far more colorful metaphors. I didn't believe him. I had, with my enormous wisdom of my then eleven long years, rolled my eyes and basically snarked "Yeah whatever, dad."
Sometimes the grownups had a point. Sometimes, even my Dad.
As the Chinese soldier pointed his rifle - we knew it was a guy based on his voice this time despite armor hiding gender - at us, I was afraid. And while I knew we were in deep sticky brown trouble, I thought we out of it. But, no, the goddess of adventures, whomever she may be, obvious was not yet done with us and a proverbial tentacle reached out and grabbed us to pull us back in. Just when we thought we were out. We were pulled back in.
We were scared. No, terrified. But we availed NOT to wet ourselves. Ha! We did better than Aneiren!
The Chinese soldier motioned for us to stand up. We did. Slowly and carefully. No one wanted to be turned into a into a lot of Earthlife jelly. That would totally poison the environment! Can't have that! Snark.
He motioned us to walk. The fighting had stopped and he was moving us away from the battlefield. He was also moving us away from Shadwell. Sigh.
He moved us quite quickly though and in about ten minutes, he stopped us, popped a tent over us and had us sit down. Weirdly, he didn't even bother collecting our needlers. I guess we were not really a threat to him with them. just after the Indians? Indian and Nigerian? had done so, it felt a little weird. They MIGHT be dangerous to him, a little bit, if there was some way to explode all the rounds at once, but no manufacturer would have designed it that way. That was simply stupidly dangerous. And with software bots now acting as lawyers, it would be an instant fail for the company: sued into oblivion in 3 milliseconds. Never mind all the people hurt and probably killed. We all know which of those the company ACTUALLY cared about.
We sat and waited and waited and waited. We heard the American Marines come and land. We waited for a day it seemed. The soldier let us eat and let us sleep and when it was time for other calls of nature, he told us to dig a hole and carry our business afterward. We did. It was gross.
We sat and waited did so for a day and night at least.
When he seemed satisfied, he popped the tent and had us start marching. We connected up with the rest of his squad. We marched for a long time and we were exhausted. They did not let us stop to rest. We kept marching on. Away from Shadwell. Away from the site of the recent battle. Away from the Church of the Sky Father Christ. They seemed to know enough to keep under the Jefflife forest canopy and, eventually, we made it to a cliff. It wasn't much of a cliff, but it was hidden by from the sky by trees and there was a pile of rubble and excavations right there.
They had dug into the cliff and made a cave.
And, yup, that's where we went.
Once inside, they sealed the cave and had a drone fly around with a small laser, burning all the taxitos out of the air. They did a quick sweep, maybe they were afraid of the loogers? And then they popped off their helmets. All eight of them.
Half of the Chinese soldiers were women. Not really a surprise, but, in a way, nice to see. In fact, the leader of the squad was a woman. She knelt before us and smiled. She was not an American and that was apparently immediately. Her smile was different. However, it did seem to be genuine. She was very polite as she introduced herself.
She was Captain Quon Li. She was commanding the squad here on Jefferson. She, too, had a tail of woe about her ship crashing, but when she told her story she seemed to leave very little out. She was part of the crew chasing the Indian ship. She commanded the ground troops and they were here to catch the Indians. Apparently, the Indians had been spying on something that they should not have. The Chinese soldiers and ship were sent to stop them catch them and prevent them from taking whatever it was back to India or her colonies. It was rather important and she could not allow the Indians to escape with whatever it was.
She explained India and China were not at war. If the Indians escaped with the information, it might lead to war. Or at least to the Indians and Chinese joining a war that was already taking place: a coalition of Nigeria, Indonesia and Brazil had attacked Europe's colonies when Europe had refused to open up one of its colonies (Othrys) to be an international world like Caerus, Nuwa, Nakshatra and Beira. None of the great powers - America, China or India - were participating directly, she said, but they often supported different powers for their own reasons while trying to settle the whole thing as quickly as possible through peace talks.
India, it seemed had spied on something, and it might mean China and India might start fighting over it.
When she said Nigeria, I tried to keep my face from reacting, but ... I must have given something away. Captain Li sighed when she saw.
She said once they had taken care of the Indians, they would surrender to the American Marines. They didn't want to fight a war with America and they knew they were in deep, deep trouble - ha! like we were not! - but still had a mission to do. Too much was too important for this and, she said, she was not sure the American government and military would stay neutral or would not pass on whatever information the Indians had to someone or some government that ought not have it.
She was being really honest with us. It was making my head swim a bit. America and China were rivals, if not outright enemies. America had alliances, I knew from class! with my smaller nations on Earth to help contain China or attempt to. it was a pattern America had done with many, many circumstances in the past. India was friendly, but still something of a rival to the US. Yet her soldiers had lied to us and here the soldiers of our enemy were being honest.
She then asked what we knew and, honestly, we told. I didn't mention Helmet might be Nigerian, but I got the feeling I didn't need to. When we were done, she reassured us we were no danger. She was angry the Indians had involved us.
She then reached out and in the most incongruous thing I could think of and perhaps one of the most humiliating things she could have done, she booped my nose with her finger and winked at me.
What the frak, world!
Sorry about the language, but, really!
Friends lie to you and nearly get you killed.
And then! And then! Enemies are honest and try to cute you!
What the frak, world!