Chapter 17

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Terra walked back to her apartment, stopping once to admire the moonless starry sky. She had hoped to speak to Will, but his apartment was equally as dark and his truck missing. She felt tired from the events of the day and so went straight to her bed.

The next morning she went to look for Will again but there was no sign of him. He must have spent the night at a worksite. She went back inside and pulled out her viewer to report in.

"Hex?"

"Morning Terra. What do you have?"

"What can you tell me about a battle north and east of Freehold near a village called Fairhold?"

"Let me see what I can pull up. What is it anyway with cities around there that have 'hold' in their name? Hmm. It was recent and I don't have any reports other than there was a battle. Why do you ask?"

"Civilian casualties from Fairhold came into the hospital here. There were many. I know, I worked the triage. Something was not right so I went up to the village. Hex, it was leveled! It had been shelled by both the Dynasty and our forces!"

Hex was silent for a moment. "Terra, I don't know what to say."

"Connect me to Walt, and be insistent."

"Okay."

Terra fumed for a few minutes before Walt came on. "Terra, what is so important?"

"Walt, what the hell happened at Fairhold?!"

"An investigation is underway, it is classified for now. It looks like the Dynasty dropped shells on the village."

Terra yelled, "Walt, I did triage on the casualties and then I went up to Fairhold to see for myself. It was completely destroyed! The Dynasty did shell the village, but so did we! And we used anti-personnel ordinance! Who is responsible for this?"

"Are you sure about this?"

"I damn well am! And they pushed a cluster slug at me while I was there! This was a war crime!"

"Calm down Terra. We don't want any of this to get out."

"Walt we are supposed to fight for the oppressed of this world, not take them out! Didn't you read the pamphlet?!"

"Okay, Terra. I will see what I can do."

"You do that!" Terra hung up and threw her viewer down on the couch.

She sat down with her eyes closed and took deep relaxing breaths to dissipate the anger. Once sufficiently calm she checked the clock. There was still some time before she would meet with Benjamin, so she set off to the hospital. She visited the man who she operated on last evening to see how he fared from the surgery. She stood leaning against the door and watched with contentment as he slept peacefully.

She walked to the town market area to get something to eat. Along the way, she passed by a series of tents and temporary shelters, presumably for those displaced from Fairhold. Coming to a small café, she sat down at an outside table under a brightly colored umbrella. A friendly waitress took her order and returned with a sweet roll and a cup of hot spiced cider. As she ate she took in the bustle and interactions among nearby shops and stalls.

The people of this town are so warm and generous. It already feels like home.

Terra met again with Benjamin. He pointed to a poster announcing a school festival that evening. Terra smiled at the invitation and agreed to go with him.

Terra heard Will drive up late in the afternoon and went outside to meet him. He shook the dust from his clothes and stomped the dried mud from his boots. He shrugged as he noticed Terra grinning at him. "Hazards of the job."

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