Interrogation

Immediately after their daring escape through the Vledscan lines, Radek and Evans had been thrown into separate jail cells and left there. It had been two days and the only human contact he had had was the Private who brought food and water twice a day.

“James Fucking Evans?” A familiar voice yelled into the cell.

“Cadet Chambers. Officers should not use familiar language.”

Wait. Chambers? It couldn’t be.

Lucy walked into the cell, wearing an officer’s skirt, shined boots, a blouse with a rainbow tie, and red insignia showing her status as an officer cadet. She smiled, shut the door, and waved, “How’s it going Goldfish?”

“Um… I’ve been better. I just spent half a year in prison, then spent a week on the run, and now I’m in prison again. And I’m pretty sure everyone I know except for you thinks I’m dead,” Evans sighed, “On the plus side, it turns out that you aren’t dead.” He pointed to her shoulder patches, “So what’s up with this?”

She sighed, “Well, after all my surgeries were done, it ended up I could still walk. Not enough to fight, but enough to do office work. And the army wants more able bodied junior officers on the front, so they’re commissioning some injured enlisted to fill behind the lines roles. I’m now training to be an intelligence officer.”

“You’re an Intel officer?” Evans stroked his chin, “The same woman who couldn’t do basic addition?”

“But, I know Vledscan and Moravian,” She paused, “Well, I am fluent in Moravian, and I’m pretty good with Vledscan.”

“Huh, hidden depths,” Evans sat back on his cot, “Now why are you here and why am I not headed back to the 202nd?”

Lucy pulled a notepad out of her blouse and read the first page, “Um, well, it looks like they don’t believe that you are who you say you are. They think you are a spy. Because, well, you really seem like one. You claim to be from the most famous unit in the army and claim to have served under the most famous captain and claim to be a medal winner who was killed months ago. It basically looks like some idiot picked up a newspaper and read the first article they saw.”

“Well, good thing I have you here then…” Evans paused, “So what happened with Radek?”

“We have you two separated so we can compare your story. Someone else is interrogating him now. Once we determine that you two are telling the truth, we will let you go, and send Radek to be further interrogated before we let him go,” Lucy sat down next to Evans on his cot, swung around, and laid down behind him.

“And why are you hanging out in here instead of letting me go?”

“Guh…” Lucy held her legs up and attempted to touch her fingers to her toes, “It’s really boring Goldfish. Once I’m done with this I have to do like a ton of paperwork. So I’m keeping that door closed for at least two hours.”

“So what are we doing for the next two hours? You guys have kept my cell very empty.”

“Well what did we normally do back in Urbs?” She swiveled around and sat up next to Evans, “I annoyingly try and convince you to have sex with me while you stoically refuse?”

Evans sighed, “I’m still married.”

“Well you are still technically dead, and dead people can’t be married.”

“Yes, I’m sure that would go over well with Anna. ‘Yes I had sex with her, but it didn’t count because I was dead’” Evans sighed, “And wouldn’t that make you a necrophiliac?”

“A Necra what?”

“It means you have sex with dead people.”

Lucy shrugged, “I’m an officer, I could order you to do it.”

“I am very sure that’s illegal and would get you stripped of your rank and thrown in prison.”

“Well,” Lucy drummed her legs, “Because you’ve been in prison for six months, are very horny, and want to fuck your very attractive friend?”

“Wow, great point, I’m glad I married my very attractive friend so I can do that when I get home,” Evans stood up and walked to the other side of the cell, “Why am I friends with you again?”

“We’re friends because the narrative demands it,” Lucy stood up and mimed holding a pistol out, “I’m the dashingly beautiful quirky hero and you’re the bumbling sidekick.”

“Oh, you’re the hero and I’m the bumbling sidekick,” Evans started to list things on his fingers, “I’ve saved your life way more than you’ve saved mine, I have done things far more impressive than you, I have spent most of my time far away from you, and I hardly feel like a hero should repeatedly try and sleep with the bumbling sidekick.”

“But I’m an officer, and everyone knows officers are better,” Lucy put her hands on her hips, “And I fit the look of a hero. I’m beautiful, except for the tragic scar on my face,I’ve also got the right figure for it, and I can make some pretty exaggerated gestures.”

“Oh moving pictures don’t count,” Evans sighed, “Those things are just popular because of the novelty.”

“You only think that because you’re from Halton or whatever. When you get a Movie Hall your mind will change…” Lucy was interrupted by a knock on the door. She quickly calmed herself down and opened the door, “Sir!”

Evans couldn’t see the officer through the door, but could hear him, “I was updating your file and saw that you used to be in the 202nd. Is that true?”

Lucy blushed, “Um, yes Sir.”

“And did you know the Lance Corporal personally?”

“Yes Sir.”

“Is this James Evans?”

“Yes Sir.”

“Go do your paperwork Cadet,” The officer pushed past Lucy as she left the room. He was a tall Major with short, cropped, blond hair, “Sorry about the suspicion Lance Corporal. Your Regiment is in Newacre if you want to rejoin them, and I’ve given you a weeks leave before you have to get to the train. And, since this is a bit weird of a circumstance, I’ve been authorized to discharge you from service if you want.”

“I’ll take a weeks leave Sir. I just have one question Sir,” Evans paused. He wasn’t sure he wanted to hear the answer, “Is the Lady Demetria still alive?”

“Yes Lance.”

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Fields

The sky bright with all the stars in the sky. Radek and Evans were kilometers away from any sign of humans. Evans looked at Radek, “So what is Moravia?”

“Of course you do not know. It has been too long since our flag has flown over my great nation. a hundred years ago, the Vledscans unjustly seized Moravia. But we will rise again.”

“And why are you fighting for Vledsco then? You seem to hate them and you live in Ethslin.”

“I was visiting my parents when the war broke out and was unable to return. And then I was drafted into the army. In an all Moravian unit no less… Vledscan officers of course.” Radek laughed, “We joked at my previous unit that we were the closest thing Moravia had to an army in a hundred years.”

“Ah,” Evans smirked, “So, where have you been? Maybe I’ve tried to kill you before.”

“Not much. Your offensive at Bolshoy Tsivil… Tsivil River at the start. My unit spent a few months on the Heroes Parade before I was transferred to a training battalion. A few years there before I was sent to Bílá Údolí. Though you people from Ethslin probably know it as Belaya Valley. And then after that failure I was reassigned to the camp. How about you James?”

“Never heard of either of those,” Evans then thought back, “First fought at White Beach, where I met my wife. Then sent to Urbs a few times. After that I went to the Northern Gate for a few weeks. Then down training for a few months before I was sent to the offensive at the Northern Gate. And now I’m here.”

“By Northern Gate do you mean the foggy battle,” Radek made popping noise with his mouth while expanding his hands, “The výbuch. Uh…” he snapped his fingers, “Exploze! Um… Explosion. Your word is explosion.”

“Yes.”

“Then that explains how you missed the Battle of Bílá Údolí. One of your platoons held a valley against my battalion’s attack. It was at the end of August. But you should have heard of Tsivil River, it was your nations greatest defeat.”

“Wait, Tsiv River maybe? That sounds similar. It was a pretty big battle in the beginning of the war.”

Radek nodded, “I know of no Tsiv River, so that is probably the right thing. Languages change names sometimes.”

The pair walked in silence for a few minutes. Evans looked around at the open field, “Won’t it be incredibly suspicious that two soldiers in uniform are traveling to the front by night?”

Radek shook his head, “No, sometimes soldiers from a garrison will be reassigned to the front, and trains are expensive. So they have to walk to the front. And no one really cares what time they walk.”

“Alright then. And how long will it take us to reach the front?”

“Well, by standard march pace, six days. 20 miles today, and 20 miles tomorrow. We will then jump onto a freight train that will be passing at around daybreak of the next day. We will ride this for a full day before getting off. Two more full days of marching, then the final night we will go into the trenches under the guise of new recruits, and sneak into No-Mans Land, then attempt to get back without getting shot. When we get close to the front we’ll put some bandages on your head and say you’re a bit dumb from a shell, but otherwise fine to give you an excuse not to talk or listen.”

“Won’t that be a bit suspicious?” Evans grew concerned, “You know, a soldier on the front lines who can’t hear anything…”

“Yes,” Radek sighed, “A bit of a problem, but, I am a Ryadovóy. Anyone stopping us will likely be a Serzhánt or officer. And they look down on Ryadovóys we are stupid. So, I will play the part. You are freshly shocked, and I got turned around trying to get you off the line.”

“This is a stupid plan.”

“Yes, if we are lucky, we will be shot on sight. If we are unlucky, we will be interrogated and then shot,” Radek sighed, “But me, I must do it. I must see my family.”

“Well, I’ve got nothing better to do,” Evans sighed, “Plus, I’m pretty sure Anna might like to see me.”

 

Escape

Everything hurt.  Everything was cold.

 

One of the guards walked over to Evans. The Guard looked him up and down, then prodded him with his rifle, and then spoke with a thick accent, “Name?”

“Lance Corporal James Evans.”

The Guard checked his paper. He then used the bayonet of his rifle to lead Evans forward. The two walked to the gate, where the two guards talked for a few minutes. Eventually the guard with Evans was handed a shovel. The guard took the shovel in his left hand. He tucked the stock of the rifle under his right arm, so he could still thrust the bayonet or pull the trigger if necessary.

The two walked far. Into the woods. Evans was starting to wonder where he was being taken. It was possible that someone in town needed a garden dug. Hopefully. He had occasionally seen guards take prisoners away and return alone.

The guard brought Evans to a stop in a thick forest. There was a small clearing. The guard threw down the shovel into the center of the clearing, “Dig. There.”

Evans picked up the shovel and started to dig. The guard spat, “No!”

The gestured for Evans to back up. He then moved forward and pointed at a rock, “There. Dig There”

Evans kicked the rock away and started to dig there. He started to formulate a plan. He would wait for the guard to lower his rifle a bit. Then, he would fling a shovelful of dirt at him. Using this distraction, Evans would strike. Then, he guessed, he would steal the uniform and attempt to make his way south. To Liguria.

If only this damned guard would be distracted for one.

Thunk.

Evans struck wood. Huh. Well then. He started to dig to the sides of the plank. To dig it out. The guard still stared at him. Evans cleared all the edges. Evans looked at the guard, who nodded. Evans lifted the plank. It was a cover. The guard then put down his rifle, put Evans in a headlock and whispered to him, suddenly unaccented,  “I am your friend. When I let go, do not attack me. We are friends.” The guard then let go and stepped back.

Evans put the plank to the side. He looked back to the hole. There was a rifle, bayonet, ammunition, a uniform, a map, and a compass.

The guard whispered again, “See, I help you. You need to help me now.”

“Excuse me?” Evans edged his hand toward the bayonet.

The guard held his hands up, “My name is Radek. I am not Vledscan. I am from Moravia. My wife and children live in Ethslin. I must go.”

Evans was confused. He didn’t know of Moravia. But, he might as well try and escape with him. He extended his hand to the guard, “Alright Radek, what should we do?”

Radek shook his hand, “Switch uniforms. Get your kit ready. Then, we will bury everything. To look like a grave. I will fire my rifle, spread some blood. It will look like you killed me and escaped. I know an abandoned barn a few kilometers from here we can stay at while they search. I have more supplies there.”

“Alright,” Evans paused, “Why me? Why Now?”

“An offensive is coming. In the North somewhere. The army will be concentrated up there, leaving less people in the countryside here. Less people on the front line in the South,” Radek smiled, “As for you, two reasons. One, you are a high risk prisoner. You were one of the soldiers we were told to watch carefully. Two, you fit the uniform. Now, let us get going. I hope to be in Ethslin in a week.”