~~Lunch is a little chaotic, Sina bombards me questions and we visit Jaylyn in hospital, he’s fine but just needs some rest and he’s forgiven me but I still spent our visit apologising every few seconds. Strategy class drags on for ages, we’re learning about the physiology of fear which is really boring and confusing. I try not to look at Ethan because every time I do I feel like I feel like I have a huge sign above my head saying ‘I have dreams lock me up and experiment on me’ when strategy finally does finish I say goodbye to everyone and wait for Teel to finish teaching grade 1’s. He walks over and gives me a weak smile “You’re lucky, Julie told me that she needs a hand at the scouting today” he says. I stare at him blankly “Scouting?” I ask.
“A group of soldiers go out every evening upstairs to look for anything that could give us away, and make sure we aren’t being watched. It’s not really important to you; all you’re doing is helping Julie, who’s running tonight’s search.” Teel says “She’s waiting for you in her office, go and get changed into something more normal” Teel orders then walks into the store cupboard where he seems to spend most of his free time. I leave the training hall and walk up to my apartment to get changed. I let my hair lose and put on some faded jeans and a zip up hoodie over a black strappy top. Not very creative but it will help me blend in upstairs. I quickly open the draw with my gun inside and tuck it into my belt then cover it with my clothes so that it can’t be seen. After putting my coat on and leaving the apartment I try to navigate my way to Julie’s office but I get lost and rather embarrassingly have to ask someone to point me in the right direction. I finally find it and see Frit behind his desk “Hi” I say giving him a smile “I’m here to see Julie” Frit hurriedly shuffles around his desk so he stands face to face with me “Hello Ashlyn are you settling in alright?” he asks politely as he walks over to the office door “Yes thank you” I reply before he knocks on the door. I hear Julies’ sharp voice ordering him to open it and when he does I step inside. She looks up from her small desk, removing a pair of glasses from her nose and giving me a stern look “Finally, I thought I’d be waiting here all evening for you to turn up, I have to say I was surprised to hear your name again so soon.” The words come out her mouth flatly but I still feel as if she is telling me off. “The soldiers are waiting for us by the main entrance, we’re going now, take one of those bags, inside is a gun so if we’re attacked you have something to defend yourself with and it also has a medical kit in it. I need you to carry this laptop as well” Julie hands me a purple hand-bag and a brief case type thing that’s quite heavy.”I must warn you, Marlec has told me that he suspects someone is up there so stay on your guard at all times.” She warns me, at school detention included writing out lines and sharpening pencils. Here I’m going on an apparently dangerous mission. We make our way over to the elevator Julie told me about when I first arrived here, the group of soldiers is the same one I saw on my first day, Ethan included. He doesn’t look surprised to see me and doesn’t say hello either. The other soldiers are though and they whistle as I walk over with Julie “Well who is this?” A man with curly brown hair and bushy eyebrows says looking me up and down. “She’s here on detention, just ignore her” Julie says pressing the button to start the lift. They don’t though it’s as if they haven’t seen a girl ever in their life. I notice the rucksacks on their backs and how big the bag Julie is carrying is. “Are we staying upstairs overnight?” I ask as we step into the elevator. Julie looks down at me “Didn’t Teel tell you? There’s been a change of plans, after I heard Marlec’s suspicion I decided we needed to do a full scout, you will be missing a few of your classes.” She says. I hold the handle of the brief case tighter “Why am I here? I’m not a soldier” I say to Julie, not caring that all the real soldiers can hear me. “Because, I have been hearing things about you that I want to see in action” Julie declares. I don’t know what to say to this, I look at Ethan and try to catch his eye. What has she heard about me? Has he broken his word and told her about my drawings? The elevator comes to a stop and we step out into a crowded business hall, I notice that all the soldiers are in casual clothes so we all blend in. I follow the group out of the busy reception and onto the streets of Jonsivil. We make our way over to a park, Julie splits us into 2 groups, she takes 1 around the west section and Marcus, the guy with curly hair, takes the other group to the east section. We then meet at this exact place in a few days after we’ve checked and we’ll do the same thing for the north and south section. I’m in Marcus’s group and Ethan is in Julies, even though I don’t like him I’m still disappointed that I won’t have any familial faces on my group. Julie explained that the Laptop I’m holding has a program on it that scans the area; it has to be plugged in to a block that the soldiers know where to find to be activated. “Why do you need me to do this?” I ask before we separate “I told you, I want to see you in action” I’m about to point out to her that she won’t actually see me but her group starts walking away, my group is getting ready to leave as well so I pick up the bags and join them. It’s strange that there’re only 2 girl soldiers and they’re both in the other group so that leaves me with a group of boys. “Hey there princess” Marcus says when I reach them; I show him an unimpressed face “Princess? Is that the most creative name you can come up with?” I say, relaxing as I realise these boys are just like the one’s I’m used to at home. The group laugh as Marcus’s smile is wiped from his face “We have a tough one here” Says a dark skinned soldier with a badge in the shape of an eagle pinned to his uniform, “Before we leave you should probably learn our names, its Ashlyn right?” Marcus says recovering from his earlier fall. I nod and watch as he points to each of the soldiers “This is Kiron, Liam, Jon, and Cam.” As Marcus introduces them they nod or smile, my nerves start to settle down and all the frustration from today washes away as we start walking through the streets. Marcus explains it’s about a day’s walk to the block; we can’t drive because we might arouse suspicion seeing as though there aren’t many cars on the road anymore. As we start to leave the main part of Jonsivil the houses get smaller and smaller, the roads more dusty and the pavements become bumpier. The sun starts to go down and the street lights that aren’t smashed flicker on and the whole city starts to fall asleep as curfew creeps closer and closer “What are we going to do when it’s past curfew? Won’t we spotted and arrested?” I’m not really worried about being out past curfew, I’ve done it plenty of times but we’re a big group out in the open so for the patrol we’re easy meat. “Don’t worry, we know what we’re doing” Liam says and winks when I look at him.
The sky gets darker and I know that curfew has come when the street lights go out, now all we have is torch light and the very distant moon. My arms start aching from carrying the briefcase so I sigh with relief when Marcus stops outside a small, run down house on the out skirts of the city, the last house I saw was at least a mile away. Looking around all I can see is grass and trees, not one trace of humanity is here, I’ve never seen anything like this. “This is where we’ll stay the night” Marcus whispers and I notice how quiet everyone is, we might be in the middle of nowhere but they’re still on their guard. Marcus fits a rusty iron key into the lock on the door of the house and it opens with a groan. Inside its dusty and empty, the floor is bare and there’s no furniture. I look up the dark stairs but can’t see anything but it sort of looks like my house just with no life inside. I look around and notice that everyone has brought sleeping bags where as I only have a stupid hand bag with a gun inside and this brief case. I look around but there’s nothing to lie on “Where do I sleep?” I say and the men answer me by shrugging. I sigh and sit on the floor, I lie the handbag down and rest my head on it. It feels really uncomfortable and I can feel small splinters of wood digging into my side and my neck is already hurting from lying in an awkward position. Some one wonders over to me “You can have mine and I’ll have first watch then I’ll swap with whoever has the watch after me” Liam says and drops the sleeping bag on the floor then wonders over stand at the front door of the house “Thanks” I call across the room gratefully. I see Liam smile, I notice that he sort of looks like Ethan, he has his brown hair but his eyes are a chilled blue and they seem to light up the room. I drag the sleeping bag closer to me and wriggle inside instantly feeling relief as I feel safe wrapped in a cocoon of warmth and protection. I lie staring at the brief case for I don’t know how long trying to fall asleep; I hear the other soldiers breathing deeply as they sleep but I can’t seem to join them. The whole situation is a bit strange, Julie sending me on a scout with a group of boys I don’t know. I have a feeling that even if I hadn’t walked out of class this morning I’d still be here. The time ticks by but I still can’t fall asleep I turn over to face the door and notice Liam wide eyed and alert watching for any trouble. He must be exhausted even in the dark I can see the black bags under his eyes and the way he’s slouched over tells me he wants nothing more than to collapse on the floor and go to sleep. I, on the other hand, am wide awake so I’m about to stand up and relieve him of the job when Marcus gets up instead and quietly walks over to Liam. “Alright there?” He whispers making Liam jump “Don’t do that!” He hisses back and quickly scans the area outside. Marcus stands with his back to me but I can sense him frown “You worry too much”. Liam turns to stare at Marcus and I can see a flicker of annoyance in his eyes “Well I’m sorry for trying to keep your sorry ass alive” He almost spits at him, I get the feeling the two men aren’t the best of friends. I hear Marcus laugh without humour “Well I’ll take over now if you want” he offers. Liam shakes his head
“No need, I won’t be able to sleep anyway” which is obviously a lie, “Too much to think about” Marcus shakes his head “I think you mean too much of one person to think about” he scoffs. This confuses me so I try to stretch in my sleeping bag towards the men as much as I can without being heard. They don’t notice me; they’re too engrossed in their convocation. “I don’t know what you’re talking about” Liam says looking away ignorantly because it’s clear from the way he won’t keep eye contact with Marcus that he somehow guessed right. “Come on man, do you want me to spell it out for you? I already saw the way you looked at her, I mean we’re only human and she is pretty but we are on a mission, any way I think someone else has a claim to her.” Marcus says shaking his head again. “You have no idea what you’re talking about” Liam says stiffly staring outside. “I do not have a stupid crush on the girl but I am curious to why Julie made her come here with us, we’ve never had any one come with us in detention before” he continues. I feel myself go rigid when I realise they’re talking about me and I hear the same question I’ve been thinking coming out of Liam’s mouth. Marcus shrugs, “I never know why Julie does anything, but everything she does is for a reason so stop thinking about it” Marcus says. I frown and so does Liam “Well it doesn’t seem right sending a 16 year old girl with hardly any training on a mission” He whispers, I take offence to this he doesn’t believe I can handle it, well he’s wrong “She doesn’t seem to have a problem with it, neither do we so get over it” Marcus murmurs to Liam who glares daggers at him. They stand staring at each other for a few seconds before Liam cocks his head to the side “Have you ever thought we could have a traitor in the group?” He asks suddenly taking the heat from the argument I start to relax again as the topic of the discussion changes “Why would you say that?” Marcus says with, for once, some confusion in his voice. “The last mission, what was the point in it? We lost 2 men for what? A few glass bottles.” Liam’s voice sounds angry all of a sudden. Marcus takes a step back.
“I didn’t go on that one, but from what I’ve heard apparently it was a little easy” He says with a calculating tone in his voice. “It was, the guards were too easy to get past and the ones that spotted us seemed to give up the chase a little too easily” In the sleeping bag I start to feel a little hot, the two men are talking about us having a traitor in FREEM, does that mean this mission is dangerous? “Well I think we’re going to have to be extra careful, go around the forest a different way to the usual root we take its longer but I’d rather be late than dead” Marcus says and I watch Liam nod in agreement. I watch as Liam starts to look in my direction and quickly squeeze my eyes shut “What about her, do you think we can trust her?” I hear a shuffling noise as Marcus turns around to look at me “I don’t think she can cause much damage but still, keep an eye on her” Marcus’s words seem to echo loudly around the house as he walks over and climbs into the sleeping bag again. I keep my eyes close and will myself to fall into a not quite peaceful but dreamless sleep.