By Caleb Fast
Camp Spenser, Allegra
“This is our stop,” James’s voice rouses Matthew from his sleep with a light kick to his foot.
Matthew opens his eyes slowly and he looks up to the silhouette that had awakened him. Blinking a few times, Matthew sees that night had fallen and everything is dark. It’s much darker here on Allegra than it ever got back home on Sinclair.
Matthew slowly rises to his feet as he listens intently for any sounds of conflict. After a beat, he points out, “I don’t hear any fighting.”
When Matthew had fallen asleep, he had assured himself that he would simply wake up back at home. He hoped that he was just having a terrible nightmare. Now that he is awake, he realizes that was not the case.
“Well, it’s night,” James informs him with a shrug, “I told you the Beets hibernate at night.”
Matthew yawns as he looks around, sure enough, night had fallen. After a moment, Matthew asks, “How long was I out?”
The world has been overshadowed with a deep darkness which makes Matthew nervous. Not only is he on a new world, but Matthew is also in a war against a race no one has ever seen before. As far as Matthew is concerned, he has every right to be scared right now. Regardless of how he feels, Matthew doesn’t let the fear that has been nagging at him show itself.
A cool breeze wafts over him, reminding him of home, and the cool morning breeze which journeyed in from the ocean. Being this close to where the fighting is, Matthew can’t help but wish he was home right now. He would gladly exchange the cold morning and the smell of bad fish for his current setting.
Countless pinpricks of light are scattered across the land like the stars of the sky. In some areas, there are dense blobs of radiant light while others stretch outward in haphazard patterns, much like the constellations Matthew sailed by.
“Long enough that you missed the worst part of the trip,” James chuckles, “Now we’ve just got a few more kilometers to hike.”
“How many is a few?” Matthew asks, picking up his large backpack.
“Do you see those lights way over there?” James’s silhouette asks as it motions toward a few dim and lonely lights far in the distance.
Matthew’s legs grow a little sore at the thought of walking so far, but he figures that he doesn’t have much of an option. Doing his best to sound neutral, Matthew simply replies, “Yes.”
“Well, that’s not even halfway,” James informs him with a chuckle.
“I’m sorry, what?” Matthew demands, his eyes wide with surprise.
“We’re on the front lines,” James answers with a glum voice, “This is just a forward camp. They call it Camp Spenser.”
Matthew sighs in defeat as he resigns himself to a very long hike. Hoping to see where he is going, he reaches into his pack and produces a flashlight. He is about to flick it on when he says, “Well, I’ll follow you then.”
“Don’t use that,” James snaps when he notices Matthew fumbling around in search for the switch, “Save your battery for when your life depends on it. We’re hiking in the dark.”
“I can’t see anything though!” Matthew counters in distress.
“Your eyes will get used to it,” James assures him. He pauses as he looks up to the sky and he quickly adds, “The moons will be rising soon anyways. You should see how bright it gets when all five are visible.
Sighing once more, Matthew puts away his flashlight and cedes, “Fine, lead the way.”
“See that ridge over there?” James asks as he suddenly stops.
“Yeah, I see it,” Matthew sounds, thankful for the break.
Matthew had been following James in the dark for nearly eight hours. Sure enough, two moons have risen shedding some light on the weary world below. After such a long night, Matthew can’t help but wonder when the sun would rise again.
On their trek, Matthew and James had seen a plethora of other soldiers, all of whom weren’t Mudders like them. They all boasted their sharp navy-blue Coalition uniforms which appeared to be as clean as the day they got them.
Not only that, but the other soldiers were using their flashlights like there was no tomorrow. They were using all their gear with reckless abandon. James said that this was because everyone else got everything they needed to fight. That was his way of saying they got all the food, clean water, and munitions they needed.
Mudders, on the other hand, were expected to die. They—Matthew, James, and everyone else on the frontmost lines—were simply cannon fodder until the upper brass figured out their master plan to take back Allegra.
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