Under the cover of darkness, the eight soldiers snuck to the motor pool. Tiscornia pumped his flashlight and shined it at the ID numbers as they passed each truck. They finally reached truck number 3418 after a slow half hour. Giuliano opened the drivers door and sat behind the seat. Tiscornia and Evans went into the two passenger seats while the rest of the group got into the truck bed. Evans whispered to Tiscornia, “Why are we sneaking around, I thought we officially have the truck?”
“The motor pool officer owed me a favor, but his boss might not like it. Better to be quiet about it,” Tiscornia then tapped Giuliano on the shoulder, “Drive on out, I can give the guard our papers.”
Giuliano put her foot on the accelerator and pulled out of the motor pool. Evans turned a bit to the side and fell asleep.
By the time Tiscornia woke him up, the sun had already come up. They were pulled over by the side of the road. Giuliano turned the truck off and slid out. Evans scooted over and got behind the wheel. Giuliano walked around the truck and sat next to Tiscornia. Evans started the truck and pulled onto the road.
“So, how did you learn to drive Evans?” Tiscornia tried to make himself a little more comfortable, while Giuliano fell asleep on his shoulder.
“My best friend from back home, Jack. His dad owned the only store in town, so they needed a truck to drive out to some of the farmers on the outskirts of Halton. I tagged along a few times and Mister Shaw taught Jack and I how to drive,” Evans laughed a little, “I felt like the coolest kid in Halton. I knew how to drive. So uh, how did the first half of the ride go with Giuliano?”
“You didn’t really miss much, mostly dark boring roads. You get the good half of the drive. Sun is up, nice breeze coming up from the ocean. Almost reminds me of home,” Tiscornia looked out over Giuliano towards the ocean.
“So I know everyone besides Turner and Giuliano. Can you tell me a little about them? Turner’s the Auto rifle right?”
Tiscornia nodded, “Yeah. Turner’s pretty quiet. She’s been with the platoon for a while now. I honestly don’t know her that well, but she’s a good friend of Chilly. She’s pretty nice though, when I’ve talked to her.”
“What about Giuliano? You seem to know each other quite well.”
“Yeah,” Tiscornia put his arm over Giuliano, “We actually grew up around the same town in Liguria, didn’t know each other until I joined the company though. It’s nice to have someone from around home though. She’s also a very heavy sleeper.”
Evans chuckled, “So, are you and Giuliano a thing then?”
Tiscornia shook his head, “If we both survive this war, then maybe I’ll ask Maria… And speaking of that, Zwev told me about the plan. So I looked at some places nearby. We can go this afternoon. Chilly says he’ll come with us.”
“Wait,” Evans took his eyes off the road momentarily to stare at Tiscornia, “You told people? Isn’t what we’re doing, sort of you know, not quite allowed.”
“Only Chilly, and I trust him not to tell.” Tiscornia looked out over the ocean and stared at the waves.
Evans shrugged and kept driving down the road. The two stayed mostly silent except for Evans humming a little to himself. Evans drummed a little on the steering wheel. About an hour passed, “So, Tiscornia… What are your… Interests?”
Sighing, Tiscornia responded, “Sorry to be boring, but ancient history. I’m going to return Liguria after the war and try and go to University. Maybe be a professor.”
“Really?” Evans smirked a little, “I can’t imagine you as a stuffy University type. Don’t tell me your also a poet. Lamenting the horrors of war like that prat Michael Lloyd in the Strongfield Post.”
“Belinón! History is interesting and exciting! Also, don’t compare history to poetry. History is an intelligent study of knowledge, and Poetry is just annoying whining about how some girl won’t fuck you,” Tiscornia laughed.
“Well, what’s something interesting about history?”
Tiscornia screwed up his face for a moment and drummed his fingers, “Ah! Back in the olden days, the um… Velian empire, before they had the emperor types, there was this guy, Publius Salonius. He was a famous general. His five thousand army was defending against the frontiers in the Vledsco area, by about where the Northern Gate is today. He’s inspecting the walls one day when a young soldier rides in. A thirty thousand strong barbarian horde was approaching.
“So He gives his orders and mounts his horse and rode down the hill to meet the horde in the valley below. With only two of his aides to accompany him, he confronts the horde and asks for their leader. After a few tense moments, a man steps forward. Salonius yells to him, ‘Sir! I humbly accept your surrender.’
“The barbarian, after processing for a moment, refuses to surrender. Salonius nods responds with, ‘Thank the gods, I haven’t killed in a while.’ Throws his spear into the chest of the leader and blows into a horn. His five thousand men all took a few steps forward, revealing themselves on the hill, but in such a way that it was impossible to see that the Velian line was only one man deep. And instead of fleeing, he just folded his arms and stared at the horde, smirking.”
Evans laughed, “Oh come on, you don’t believe that happened. Why wouldn’t they just cut him down as soon as he approached?”
“I don’t know, but we have historical evidence. One of his aides was a historian, and a few other historians wrote about it. And the official reports record thirty thousand slaves from the Northern Gate area. And there is a statue of him where the camp once stood. Well, assuming it hasn’t been destroyed by this current war,” Tiscornia looked out over the ocean and noticed Giuliano stirring, “Hey Maria, did we wake you?”
Grumbling, she sat up, “Feh. Your babbling about history always annoys me awake.”