Stories from the Grand Republic

Thaddeus stared beyond his foxhole and to the lights blooming in the distant via a binocular, his free hand nursing a cup of coffee to help him through guard duty that night. His company for the night was a single decrepit, battery-deprived radio with a bent antenna playing again and again the tune of a song the name of which he could not, for the life of him, recall. The radio, and Alissia.

It’s been a few minutes since he’s seen Alissia who had excused herself out to, in her own words, “grab something to chew”. Though he had reminded her to grab something for him as well, knowing her, the best he’ll be getting is half a salted cracker that she got by punching a rat a couple of times.

“…drink the gossip, drink till you chokee…” he sang along to the tune playing in a mumble until he was rudely interrupted by a familiar voice calling out his name with a pat on his shoulder,

“Thaddeus!” Alissia called out, scaring him enough to turn around and almost throw at her face the hot coffee.

“Could you possibly pick a worse way to sneak up on me?” Thaddeus asked rhetorically with a frown, composing himself enough to continue his routine of staring.

“You know they don’t sign our paychecks to stare at random shit beyond the border right?” Alissia asked him as she walked beside him and stared in the general direction he was as well,

“They don’t sign your paycheck to be a smartass now, do they?” He responded, taking another sip of his coffee,

“Nope, but it helps to be one,” she said, pulling from the canvas satchel she carried besides her a bar of cereal, and giving it Thaddeus, “Got something for you”.

He was decently surprised by the gesture, especially considering how the last thing that she got for him was rotten tea she stole from some poor guy’s locker.

“Who did you fight to get this?” He asked, grabbing the bar and throwing it into his coffee.

“What?” She asked, “I can’t be kind from time to time?”

“Last time you were kind, you and I got locked inside a car because it was sooo silly of you to ‘accidentally’ slip and drop the keys outside.” Thaddeus said, taking a sip of his coffee with chunks of the cereal bar floating within. Even when he did not want to say it, it tasted surprisingly good, though only time will tell if its expired or poisoned.

“Hey, my hands slipped!” Alissia argued. Knowing her, yet still Thaddeus couldn’t tell if she was serious.

“Yeah, sure, it did.” Thaddeus chuckled, his eyes moving back to look afar, shifting between guard posts and barbed wire walls. From his time here, he’s learned to tell who was Mirhaimian and who was Sayqidi by their uniform alone.

“Why do you think we’re here?” In a snap back to reality Alissia asked him, “It’s been too long since we’ve been back.”

“I don’t know,” Thaddeus responded, “I’m getting a pay bonus for it so I’m not complaining.”

A thought struck Alissia, one that she too recognized was all but too ridiculous for her to have but yet still she said it to him,
“You think we might invade?” She asked Thaddeus, hesitating for a moment before she did.

Thaddeus’ turned his head to look at Alissia who understood well the confusion that he had had. It was a strange thing to ask - one uncharacteristically of her.

“Nah,” he said before returning to his observation. Looking through his binoculars, his eyes scanned the defensive fortifications erected

“If they wanted us to they would have had us throw punches the moment we got here.” He told her, “Besides, I ain’t going 'less the captain has a real nice speech prepared.”

Though realizing what he said was right correct, Alissia wasn’t reassured though she quickly swept away the thought. They did this last year, so why must they be concerned now?

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