#8
 
I am filled with joy for the amazing people we have, are, are becoming.  It is important to take time for joy.  That is why we are having a celebration.  We may not have luxury items to pass around, but we can sing, dance, beat out rhythm on makeshift drums, share funny stories or sentimental ones, enjoy ourselves together, those of us who are here. 
 
Quite a few are out on assignment, picking up the information that can be found, spreading the information that can be given.  Those who are not currently at the compound will certainly be celebrating on other occasions.  We like to have that shared enjoyment on any occasion we can.  Right now rumors are rife that the mercs are sadly encumbered by our activities.  They are losing troops to the extent that it is affecting their bottom line.  We hear they are planning a special board meeting of the Central Command and their cronies to address this.  The rumor is that it will take place at Carnival, so the high level mercs can enjoy their own partying after their strategy session.
 
We all need downtime, to kick out the jams.  I have been through too many zones too  quickly, making it on the fumes of fast-pacing circumstance.  Finally, I am letting all that wound up energy unwind.  I am finally free, here with my people, of the fear and misunderstanding, of the never being part, among strangers.  Letting go, dancing, the music, simple percussion and voice,  carrying me into a meditative peace.  I am immersed in pleasure, in the fluid movement of my body, the fluid intermovement of beautiful bodies, beautiful mutual emotion, inter-connected in mind and music.  Deeply exhaling, inhaling, lifeforce in chemical embrace with air.
Gray has the new recruits quite as at home as I feel.
Reag and Calinda are out doing debriefing of the newest recruits coming in. We have people in the field who have learned the art and craft of pulling lone soldiers away from merc command without getting caught. Pretty much the only ones of us here are those who take care of the infrastructure keeping the compound going, recruits still too new to send out on assignment, and Gray and me. We’re all glad for the tension-breaking shared revelry. We have been feeling something big building. Best to be relaxed and limber going into unknown dangers. We are dancing, making music, feeling close, free, unafraid. So, in that sense we are ready.
It was all pieced together later.  Janna and Kore were scoping out the Carnival city scene, working the crowds of locals and tourists for information that could give us leads on the upcoming Central Command meeting, spreading information about the mercs and their methods.  Most civilians are not really aware of the mercs and their “crowd control” operations.  We let them know, what to watch for, what dangers they could face, through local rumor mills with our mind insertion techniques.  Janna and Kore are experienced agents.  Still, they were found out by merc freak advance guard, working the crowd from their end to assure their masters’ safety, comfort, control.  Our well-trained agents were able to send out a relay alarm as they realized that they were captured.  Full text was likely:  “We will crack under interrogation.  Get yourselves somewhere we don’t know about!”  We at the compound, in midst of mind-wide-open revelry, felt the alarm as hard-edged panic warning:  “Move!  Get out!  Attack imminent!”
Gray and I take charge of getting everyone into the tunnels, as quickly a they can move, carrying what equipment can be salvaged easily.  The tunnel system is fairly vast and complex to get us hidden, out of range, leaving as much uncertainty as possible of where and when we might emerge, in case of attack.  There are stashes of essentials:  food, water, blankets, first-aid supplies, light sticks, to pick up along the way. 
We are scrambling through the tunnels, the others moving quickly ahead of us, quietly, efficiently, in the low light of our led torches.  I do not feel any fear.  My mind is clear, alert, hyper-aware.  Gray holds my hand as we move, keeping together in pace and reassuring presence.  We are soldiers, born and bred.  We are rebels by choice, engaged in just another little adventure, all in a day’s work.  We  have this covered.
The explosions are loud, jarring, sad testimony that what we had built as our home has been destroyed.  We will build again.  Right now, we move, keep ourselves safe to regroup and fight that destructive force intent on taking our lives, minds, free will.  If we don’t exist to serve them, they need us gone.  To be truly free, we must defeat them.
I feel the shocks and after-shocks of the bombardment above.  Rock and soil dislodge, obscuring vision, stinging bits of sand, coughing as they impinge on our airways, sliding forward on moving ground.  I fall against Gray as we are knocked down by more percussive rippling, hit by rubble, finding ourselves blocked by debris as we attempt to arise and move on.  I notice blood and internal screaming.  Gray is injured.  We are cut off from the rest, who continue their scrambling exit through the tunnels, ahead of us, ahead of the falling tunnel-way in which we are now trapped.  We know we only need to wait, stay hidden.  Our comrades will return for us, dig us out, once it is safe to do so.
Gray is bleeding dangerously.  I have cuts and bruises, but he is seriously wounded, hit by something heavy and sharp.  I can see that he must have internal injuries as well.  Still, I must keep him from bleeding out.  I fashion a tourniquet from my belt-sash, get us both into reasonably comfortable positioning.  He is supine, head in my lap where I sit on smoothed over tunnel floor.  We have blankets around us.  I am encouraging him to drink sips of water, to stay hydrated.
“It’s no good.  I’m dying,” he informs me, somewhat wryly.
What can I say?  It is self-evident.
“Better you keep the supplies for yourself.  You don’t know how long it will be.”
I open fully to him, showing him my compassion, my love and admiration.  He is quietly in reverie, relaxing into the inevitable.
Then, he is excited, suddenly enthused.  “This will work.  Dorie, you have to hold on to my spirit, keep me a ghost, like Nerice.  I will be able to infiltrate the Central Command Guard and give us the intel we need on the CC’s plans.  Do it.  Make this stupid dying thing worthwhile.  You know, rebels have to use whatever means we can to survive.”
I see the wisdom in what he demands.  I have never done this, but I can certainly make the effort.  I go into that place where his soul is between life and death.  I whisper the trance ritual into his ear, special sound reverberation techniques from our corps training.  I feel his soul/body connection dissolving.  His body is at peace.  The working part of him, tethered to me by a psychic thread, is ready and waiting for his next assignment.

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