After the war of 1972, world leaders made the superior decision of splitting the surviving ten million people into six distinctly different domains - merging culture, religion as well as language in order to live in their own perspective territory. Each domain is ruled by a Prime Minister, guaranteeing that all persons be provided by whatever they need to survive.
Over the years it had remained peaceful, but five nations soon began to display their desires for more territorial claims. Only the nation of Siho remains in neutral grounds, choosing the side of peace.
To prevent another war from breaking out, Siho's Prime Minister created the National Guards Alliance, a special defense army that vows to fight for peace and order. They act as the kingdom's peacekeepers, and are made up of men not only from Siho but also those who sided with Siho's beliefs.
Anna, a Siho native, is accustomed to seeing men in uniform roaming around town since she was a child, but the presence of a new face awakens her curiosity, and ultimately, her heart. This is a love story of a young couple, in a time where war is inevitable.
--- ---- ---- ----
Chapter Fifteen: D-2
"You understand, Lieutenant Han, that you must separate with the Captain's daughter an hour before sunrise on the third day."
Anna could still hear Lieutenant Well's words in her head, like a tinkering bell clipped to her ears. This meant they have two more days together, in each other's harmonious company, before the sunrise of the third day separates them - he would go back to the camp and she would continue traveling to Sonddor's first gate with the map, where she would give the map to the National Guards whose identities haven't been leaked yet.
Of course, before they separate she would have already told him the truth. After that, he would never speak to her again. She might move to her aunt's house - in Ezterdelle.
She jumped as she felt Daniel's hand on her shoulder. It was clear that the morning after was very hard on him. He was definitely suffering from a hangover. His forehead was scrunched like an old man, his eye barely open from the sunlight hitting the inn. Massaging his head with one hand while drinking his coffee on the other, Anna couldn't help but let out a short chuckle.
"Pathetic, I know," he said to Anna, who passed him a baguette. "I've always had a higher tolerance. I don't know what happened."
"Then how did you manage to climb up on the roof?" She asked him. "You seemed like a dead fish when we brought you there."
Daniel covered his face from embarrassment. "Betsy told me the story. She said I was carried like a damsel in distress," he sighed. "I ached for water so I got up from the bed. But then, I noticed your door was open. You weren't there."
She looked down and stirred her coffee.
"Anna," he called, "what were you doing in the roof?"
"I was there for some fresh air," she replied, but he didn't believe her.
"Not with the map in your possession." He examined her carefully. "Were you perhaps trying to see what was inside? Would you be able to read it?"
She shook her head.
"That's not it," she replied. "Actually, Lieutenant... "
"-Who wants pie?" Betsy interrupted as she came out from the inn's kitchen. "I've made the most creamiest mango pie in this damn village, and you two might never be able to try this again in your life."
She placed the pie between them, and she sat beside Anna as she sliced it.
"Are you two heading out now?" She asked cautiously.
"We are," replied Daniel. "Thank you for having us."
"Nonsense," replied Betsy. "Besides..." she looked at Anna before giving her a slice.
"You two remind me so much of me and my husband when we left Andestris."
Anna was stunned. "You came from Andestris, Ms. Betsy?"
She nodded her head. "Me, my husband Michael and my sister, Linda all did. She passed away three years ago, and so we named this place in her honor."
"I'm sorry," said Anna.
"Nonsense." She gave Daniel a slice, and then she cut herself one as well.
"You two must have quite a journey ahead of you, ain't that right?"
Anna glanced nervously at Daniel, yet Daniel did something remarkable.
"Actually, we are on our way to Sonddor."
"Sonddor..." Betsy breathed. " What could you possibly want from there? Surely not to relocate?" She shook her head. "This village may be small, but you can live here comfortably if you prefer. I know that old man Frank has a spare little bunker you can live in for a while, until you sort things out."
Anna quickly shook her head. "No, that's not it. Actually... Um." She looked at the Daniel for help, but she was startled as he suddenly put his fork down. Then he began to speak.
"Don't you remember me, Betsy? I'm Daniel. Daniel Han. Former General Henry Han's son. You took care of me and my twin sister, Alexandra when we were younger."
Betsy dropped her fork and let out an excited shriek.
"My little Dan-Dan!"
Quickly she ran beside him and gave him the biggest hug. "Oh, I never thought this day would ever come! Oh you evil toad! I can't believe you're only telling me this now!"
Anna watched the lieutenant glimmer as if he was a child again, with a large grin plastered on his face. He was genuinely happy for this reunion.
After a few moments, they let go of each other, but then he grabbed Betsy's hands.
"Betsy, Anna and I need your help. Please tell us how to get to Sonddor without using the main road."
"Oh dear," she chimed. "What could you possibly be doing in that scary place? Did you... cause trouble?"
He shook his head. "I'm a member of the National Guard now, Betsy. And I..." he looked at Anna, "...we, need to get there quickly. It's very important."
Betsy nodded. "Whatever it is, I'm sure you both know what you are doing. I do know a way. I will give you map now and you can leave in the backdoor. It's an alternative road only the locals know. Just tell me where you're heading and I'll draw the shortcut."
Then, Betsy rubbed her eyes before cupping the lieutenant's face with motherly affection. "I'm glad you're alright, Daniel. After the accident, everyone was transferred to different houses. I worried about you for years. All of a sudden I heard that you got involved with the lion. I didn't hear about you after that."
The lion? Thought Anna.
The lieutenant didn't say anything, but instead he gave her a kiss on the cheek.
"I'm alright now. I've been residing at Siho for a few months, and they've done nothing but treat a foolish guy like me really well."
Betsy smiled. "They? Including this lovely lad here?"
He grinned, grabbing Anna by the shoulders. "How do we look?"
Fully packed with new supplies and an army's worth of Betsy's food, they start to make their way using another road. With the roaring of the engine, the lieutenant started to drive.
"What did she mean by the lion?" Anna asked suddenly. She was curious, because for a quick split second, Daniel's expression changed drastically after Betsy mentioned this so-called lion.
"The lion she referred to was a commander from the Andestris territory," he replied. "I served under him for many years, thinking I was serving a greater cause, but..." he simply breathed. "He was a malicious criminal that used other men to do his dirty work".
Then, what did he make you do? Anna wanted to ask, but she held he tongue. Instead, she changed the subject.
"Have you told Lieutenant Wells where we're heading?" Asked Anna.
"He'll find out on his own."
"But why did you ask Betsy for another way?"
"Precautions," he replied. "I need to decrease the amount of uninvited visitors we have during this trip. Freeman's Land was close to the Union Republic, so that might have been why they quickly got to us. They must have had a lookout."
As he talked, Anna remembered about the woman who visited her last night. It was strange, the woman did not want anything from her, but she knew of her. Of the lieutenant too.
And what's more... that strange, beautiful woman said she loved the lieutenant.
"Lieutenant, did you leave behind a lover in Andestris?"
At once, the car came to a sudden stop.
"Jesus, Anna!" he turned his head. "You and all these sudden questions. A lover?"
"Yes, someone who you have strong affection for, someone you promise to protect and watch over..."
He looked at her and started to clutch his chest as he sighed. "Don't tease me Anna, because you know very well how I feel."
"... forget what I said. Let's continue our way, lieutenant," said Anna as she turned her head around.
"Did you go back to calling me lieutenant?" He grinned. "What stupid thing have I done now?"
"Lieutenant Han," she said sternly. "Now that we're getting closer to Sonddor, perhaps I should start calling you something else now. Major Romero mentioned that the spy is aware of the National Guard's identities, so it won't help if I keep calling you Lieutenant Han or even Daniel."
"... but you can still call me Daniel when we're together like this," he said, his eyes still on the road. "I call you Anna all the time."
"That's alright. They don't think of me as someone important."
"Then they really have no idea about me."
"If they want to get under my skin, they would go after my weakness."
"What does that mean?"
Daniel didn't say anything for a while as he drove. "I'll let you think about that yourself."
Anan waited a bit longer for Daniel to say more, but he never said anything and started to tinker with the radio instead. Defeated, she turned her attention to the map that Betsy drew for them. She placed her finger at their next destination, trying to figure out where they were heading to, but all she saw was a drawing of clouds or cottons... and birds?
"What does Betsy mean by this?" She asked him.
"Oh, that?" He smirked. "That's the sky, Anna."
"Didn't I tell you?" He beamed at her. "We're heading to the National Guard's Air station right now. Flying is the best way to get to Andestris, after all."
Helicopters. There were helicopters everywhere. No matter, where Anna turned, she found aircraft of all sorts, some similar to the ones at the camp while others she had never seen before. They ranged in sizes and color, yet all were equipped with the latest technology for battle. Now, despite the large amount of jets around, she found nobody else there.
"Believe it or not, this is the smallest air station that belongs to the National Guards," said Daniel. "The biggest one is right by the gates of the Union Republic."
"But I thought Freeman's Land wouldn't condone soldiers?" She asked him.
He pointed at himself. "Us, they hate. But these helicopters are free for them to use whenever they need them, provided that they let these things stay here. They won't say no to a deal that benefits them this much."
Then, Daniel climbed onto one of the smaller helicopters. He sat on the driver's seat, clipped the headset and began to maneuver the buttons from the control system. A few minutes later, Daniel stuck his hand out.
"Come on, let's go."
She grabbed his had and climbed aboard.
"Ever been on one of these before, Anna?"
"No, this is my first time."
"A day's worth of ground travel can be done in a less than an hour with this baby right here," he told her.
Anna was excited to fly. She never rode on a helicopter before, but after a tingling sensation from her ears, she heard a small pop come out from the air pressure and the next thing she knew, they were flying.
The trees began to look smaller, and she could start to see the fluffyy white clouds disappear from under the aircraft. They were so high up that, she started to feel chilly. Daniel handed her a thick blanket. "Nothing exciting to see here at this point. Try to get some sleep, because the minute we land, things will get exciting. The quickest way to Sonddor is a ship coming from Andestris, after all. There are less barriers between the two."
He didn't need to convince her further, because at that point her eyes have already gotten heavier. Yet before she fell completely in her slumber, she swore Daniel began to say something else. The words echoed under her closed eyes were few, and no matter how good her memory, she would forget about it when she wakes up.
I will... find... girl..... cause.... sister... die.