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The Dust Settles
It was late morning when the Légion Première jet touched down at Lungi International Airport. The facility was still closed to international travel, but the remnants of the Sierra Leonean government were able to strong-arm General Wallace-Johnson, whom had overseen the liberation of Freetown from the Temne rebels the day before.

The flight from Mecca to Freetown had been without rest for Jacques. Throughout the night he had been speaking with investors, contract holders, the Chinese, the Moroccan government, and the remnants of the Sierra Leonean government. Representatives of countries neighbouring Sierra Leone had refused to speak.

By the time they had landed, Jacques had managed no more then a few hours of sleep, before being roused by field reports from his teams in the northern portion of the country. The picture was rapidly solidifying into a horror story all too common to Africa. Ethnic cleansings, mass rapes, torture. The Temne hatred burned brightly, it seemed.

They were met at the airport by five of the Légion Première armoured SUVs, all of which showed varying forms of scars from the previous day. Mr Trano was left aboard the jet and was joined by two of the Legion's medics and various supplies, and after the jet was refueled, it would press on to Casablanca where he would receive proper medical treatment, and then would be carried onward to the United States for long-term care.

The Lungi airport was a sister image of the one they had abandoned in Dominance V. Bodies still lay scattered about, as did burned out vehicles and damaged planes. The brunt of the fighting had been aimed at the military base, however, and not the terminals and facilities of the airport itself, and so the airport was still mostly functional, and already swarming with foreign-born refugees or those of dual citizenship, eager to escape.

Jacques stood within the protective laager of SUVs with Capitaine Antic as the medics' gear was transferred to the plane, where he had left Reed and Trano. He assumed she would fly to the United States with him; after all, she was a member of his crew. And American.

"The bureaucracy has proven very slow going, Capitaine. Third Company is mobilizing now, but considering how hard it was for myself to land here, they will likely be arriving by the sea. Expect it to be a fortnight before they can arrive."
Jacques held a cup of coffee fresh brewed from the kitchenette aboard the jet, and one of his junior officers was tasked the honour of pouring small cups for each of the Legionnaires that were present in the motorcade that would escort him to their new HQ in the city.

Casualty reports for the Sierra Leone action were blessedly low; the Legion had not been a target, and most of their teams had been at locations that were of low priority to the Temne offensive's first day goals. That would change in the coming weeks, unless the government-loyal forces were able to get back on their feet quickly.

And from what Jacques had pieced together, that had seemed unlikely. The forces that had liberated Freetown now patrolled the streets and the national park to the south seeking stragglers of the Temne attack, and were digging in along the north-south run of the Peninsula Highway, cutting Freetown and the park off from the rest of the country.

It seemed likely that General Wallace-Johnson sought to stabilize his base of operations before entertaining the idea of bringing order to the rest of the country. It did not sit well with Jacques. The man was planning something.

"We had trouble reaching the airport, Sar. The Sierra Leonean military controls the ferries and the crossings. We were able to secure passage only by order of the President's wife, and that ruffled more then a few feathers. Getting back may be a challenge."
Capitaine Antic forwarded a recording of the strongly-worded command the woman had issued; the morning had seen the bruising of her injuries fully swollen. She was in for a rough few days of recovery.

Jacques nodded quietly and downed the dregs of his coffee before handing off the cup to one of his men who was already gathering the others to return to the jet. "We shall make do, Capitaine. I will speak with whomever is commanding the detail at the crossing."

The Capitaine smiled and nodded; none could doubt how persuasive the CEO could be. There was a reason why the previous CEO had chosen the young battle Capitaine to be his successor.

The men began to load back up into the SUVs, with Jacques left alone in the private compartment of the center-most vehicle. With how bad the roads were between the airport and the Tagrin Ferry Terminal, it would take near to an hour to reach. An hour of rest the CEO clearly needed.


The situation in the Embassy district of Freetown had quieted down quickly after the government loyal forces had arrived. They had bypassed the embassy's for the most part, asides from a small detail of troops that held the only road into the area, but even that post had been abandoned after a few hours when the throngs of foreign-nationals began to swarm them, seeking access to their embassies and the perceived safety there.

Sierra Leone had never been an important country, at least not until recently. The discovery of rare minerals in abundance had made it a point of great interest for many countries, but few held embassies on it's soil. The Chinese had the largest presence amongst those that did, and their people swarmed to the embassy in the dozens, with rumours of hundreds more on their way in the next few days, fleeing from all corners of the country to the only place they thought they were assured to escape.

Already, the Chinese were collapsing their embassy, packing up equipment and furniture, burning documents. Three helicopters had arrived from 'civilian' ships in the South Antlantic Ocean to carry away non-vital personnel.

The Moroccan embassy had already been filled to capacity by the Legionnaires and the government personnel they had rescued. Wounded government-loyal troops that had been taken in for triage had been relocated that morning, and civilian wounded were being moved to clinics and field-hospitals around the city.

As for the government VIPs, they had demanded to return to the administrative district, and were seen off with the remnants of the Presidential Guard and General Wallace-Johnson's troops. But the embassy was small, and simply hadn't the space for the throngs of Moroccan citizens eager to find shelter in it's walls.

So the Legion was forced to appropriate space. This came in the form of a series of now abandoned, expensive estates to the south and west of the Embassy, forcing the already thread-bare Legionnaires even thinner as they garrisoned three adjacent small mansions and knocked holes in their concrete fences to link the three together, and to secure a corridor between them and the new Legion headquarters.

Volunteers were sought among the refugees and embassy staff to help administrate the situation. The names of the refugees were needed to be taken, a stock taking of food and medical supplies. The Legionnaires were even willing to accept volunteers to bolster their security, although by all accounts, Freetown was safe. There was hardly any sounds of weapons fire in the city since very early that morning when the last large pocket of Temne fighters had been finishsed off.

Natalie had been found a room within the embassy for the night; an office with a couch, and had been provided a fireblanket. The office had it's own restroom, one of the few, marking her as a high priority VIP in the Legion's eyes. They had been payed quite a bit of money to see her safe, after all, but her private washroom would likely not be hers alone for long.

Hollywood had been seen to as best as the beleaguered Embassy doctor and Legion medics could, and once they had completed their surgery, he had been relocated to another boardroom with his kitten.

Unsure of what to do with Ekene, the boy was left under the supervision of Natalie. The fact that he was just a boy had spared him much of the Legion's wrath. Of course, Jay would receive no shortage of ribbing later for having been downed by a kid with a broken hand of all things.
"You're going to do WHAT to me WHERE?"

"You need surgery, Hollywood. Or you'll never walk again."

Jay looked around a windowless room and swallowed anxiously. A narrow desk was shoved to one side and served to hold a metallic instrument tray. Industrial lights hung from hooks in the ceiling. And a gauzy tarp dangled over a gurney pilfered from a nearby fire-station. None of it looked too sterile.

Doctors were scarce in Sierra Leone, and the ones with surgical skills were all the rarer. Jay was none too pleased by the prospect of being short a useful leg. But going under the knife in an office in the middle of the embassy with two guys that probably hadn't slept in 36 hours. Not his top priority of the day.

Turned out, he didn't have a choice.

He woke in screaming pain, twice. But was able to do little more about it than groan incomprehensibly. Disconcerting dreams filled the time between. He ran through cornfields only to fall off the side of a cliff. He played chess with brothers and cried when he won. He constantly dropped a shield he was trying to carry up a mountain.

The third time he woke, the heat was cooler, the pain softer. The dreams faded into obscurity, but their sensations lingered a few moments: frustration and honor chased, and fear - deep, deep fear.

It took a few moments to gather his bearings. Of all the bullshit he'd done to himself in life, sprains, gunshot wounds, lacerations, burns..sliding into home and breaking his ankle against the catcher.. he'd never needed surgery.

He wasn't a fan.

He was on the floor, he realized. They'd put a drape beneath him, but that was about all. No pillow or blanket. Which was why his toes were numb, likely. He'd been stripped of socks, boots and pants. Actually he didn't mind that last part. Pants were great and all, but sometimes a guy just wants to lay around post-surgery in his shorts. Alright?

He followed the trail of an I.V. line from his hand up to a bag dangling on the window crank overhead. He frowned at it, though anything that delivered drugs was a friend in his book, he wasn't too fond of being tied to a plastic bag.

He grumbled, voice gruff and sharper than his fogged-mind at the moment.

"Where's my socks?"
He yelled toward the hall. "And my kitten?"

Only darkness shows you the light.

The Ambassador had echoed the advice of the medic, hemming in Natalie's options for distraction. A frown creased her brow, and though she didn't argue she did ensure to secure the available details about their situation; enough to ease her concerns, at least, before she accepted there was nothing she could do right now to be of help. The eventual silence of privacy held more relief than she'd anticipated; enough to douse the irritation that they treated her special, offering the commodity of space when it was clearly sparse. The washroom was certainly appreciated. She wasn't even sure she had the energy to wash, but the blood on her skin itched, the desire to be clean supplanting the need to keep busy.

In the bathroom she turned the faucet, braced herself against the sink for a moment as dizziness drifted in and out. There was not much she could do to salvage the shirt, which she draped over the toilet-seat, but the grey vest beneath was okay. Not that she had anything else to hand anyway. She cleaned as best she was able; arms, chest, face. The water swirled dark, fading to dirty pink, and in her mind all she could see was Kofi, the gleaming slash of his skull awash in all that red. It wasn't the first time she had witnessed such horrific violence, nor the first time she had tended someone she'd known had been going to die. Leaving him at the hospital had been a necessary choice; one she did not regret making. But between the fatigue and the silence fogging up her head, all she could think was that she'd left him to die alone.

She unravelled her braided hair, slipping the hair-tie over her wrist. Though she couldn't wash it properly in the sink, she could at least scrub out the blood and dust, which she did with a monotonous insistence until she felt at least somewhere appropriating human. The damp hair was cool against her skin as she returned to the office. Ekene was still out cold on the couch, so she curled into the leather chair by the desk. She didn’t think she'd sleep in bright afternoon daylight, but exhaustion claimed dominance over her desire to stay alert. Her dreams lapped a rhythmic harmony, but were punctuated by something absent; she bobbed close to lucidity, but in the end it was the wail of a disorientated cry that woke her fully.

It was complete dark by now, but she didn't bother to flip on the light. The curtains were still open, casting ghostly luminance on the edges of furniture, and she could just about make out the glow of Ekene's eyes as she knelt by the couch. He was tangled in the blanket like he had been dreaming bad, face slick with sweat and tears. His chest heaved ragged, the blurriness of sleep and pain-meds still glazing him over, pulling him back into terrifying dreams. "Hey, kid."
She pressed a hand over his brow, but he only sobbed. She wasn't even sure how lucid he even was as he began spluttering words.

It turned out they had dragged him from his bed in the middle of the night, drunk on the thrill of tomorrow's - now yesterday's - plans and thirsty for violence. Five young Temne men, among them Ekene's brother. Eager to christen another to the bloody cause, to make the first terrible cut into the disease of Mende culture, they had coerced him. Teasing at first, amused by the disorientated, groggy and frightened child in their midst, until alcohol had fuelled them darker.

The story eked out of him slowly, choked and disjointed. How they'd forced out his left hand, cajoling at first, then condemning of his friendship with Kofi. They'd bantered, nervous of their first taste of blood, but Ekene had trusted them. Trusted his brother. Until the hammer came down. His brother had placed the knife in his good hand after, Ekene's vision blurry with the flash of white pain and stars. Do it, or you're one of them. Do it, or we'll smash your other hand.

Natalie had assumed most of it already, her first inkling of something amiss back at the hospital, but the detail made her sick. "Budge up."
She shuffled him over gently, trying not to rouse him from his half-sleep. There was not enough room for her to lay, but she curled an arm about him protectively. He relaxed a fraction into her side. "No-one's coming for you tonight. Go back to sleep."


Natalie woke properly in grey dawn light, Ekene breathing steady and quiet, curled tight into her side. Her limbs ached, but her head felt clear - which in itself fostered enough relief to override the discomfort of an awkward night's sleep. She extricated herself carefully and left him under the fireblanket, swilling her mouth out with water from the taps in absence of a toothbrush. She was pale in the mirror, drawn with the shadows of someone who could do with a few hours more rest - though she felt fine enough, considering. She ran her fingers through the tangles in her hair, pulled it into a knot at the back of her head, splashed cold water on her face. Refused to let her thoughts settle.

The Embassy was not quiet; she could hear evidence of movement beyond the closed door, if it had ever truly lulled even through the night, but for now she retreated to the seat behind the desk. She was loath to wake Ekene, and equally reluctant to leave him. With any luck he wouldn't remember his night-terror, but in any case she did not wish for him to wake alone, trapped in unfamiliar surroundings.

In the meantime she fiddled with booting up the computer, hoping its inevitable encryptions would not lock her out altogether, and looking for a port with which to sync her Wallet. Her concerns for Masiaka had subsided after the information she had gleaned yesterday, but she would feel better once she had spoken to Azubuike. Verify Ekene's familial situation. Begin to assemble the help the Red Cross could offer. First objective of the day.

Edited by Natalie Grey, Jun 23 2014, 04:43 PM.
Word of the Battle of Jeddah had reached the Legion officers in Sierra Leone as it unfolded, and by morning the picture was clear. 217 Legionnaires were lost in DV, but an as yet un-tallied hundreds had been saved, and as for the number of fanatics killed, well, that number would likely never be confirmed.

Already, propaganda was leaking from the insurgency that CCD soldiers and mercenaries had run rampant through the city and left thousands of innocents dead. The CCD had yet to release it's official statement as it waited to gather a better understanding of the bigger picture. And the Legion...well, it was just a matter of time before their truth was revealed. All of the footage of the battle, shot from the cameras mounted in every Legionnaire's Landwarriors, was being combed over by the public relations department, which had hired a small private production studio in Morocco to assist.

But the rumours were already spreading through the repurposed Moroccan embassy, and anyone with a Wallet had not shortage of news sources to reference. District Five of the CCD had fallen into a lawless state. Hundreds, if not thousands, dead throughout the entire Dominance. Early accusations of war crimes on both sides, the speculation of economic repercussions. Hastily compiled profiles of the most interesting people involved. Even those rallying for or against the CCD's use of mercenaries in Operation Jeddah.

"...entire 2nd Battalion?"

"A few survivors. The wounded are being treated in Jerusalem. I hear old Israel is solid as a rock. As always."

Two Legionnaires, tasked as Orderlies to keep an eye on the wounded in the rooms (they themselves were little better then walking wounded; one man had no left hand, the stump neatly bandaged and slung tight to his chest, and the other sported thick bandages on his neck that vanished under the loose shirt he wore), were caught mid-conversation and mid-stride past his door as Jay came around, and they shared a glance before the one with no hand calm towards Jay, and the other stepped out of sight.

"Hey Hollywood. Only way you get to wear socks is if we cut the toes out of them. Need to see your feet, so we can make sure the circulation is good. The bone-saws say it went well I guess."
The man offered a shrug and a glance at Jay's leg, then lifted his slung stump, "Guess you were a bit luckier then me right? Your cat's in the other room. Gave it a bath, seems to be doing pretty well."

Legionnaire 1er Classe Amirmoez, Iranian by birth, stood then to check Jay's I.V., although he clearly didn't know what he was looking for asides to make sure it wasn't empty and there were no air bubbles along the line leading into Jay's arm. "The CEO landed an hour ago. He'll be here soon."

The other wounded Legionnaire returned with a small box that seemed to be lined with someone's shirt. In fact, it was Jay's; the man's scent lingered on the clothes and had seemed to do wonders to keep the little fuzzball within quiet, and the box was carefully set down at Jay's side.


Shortly after Natalie found her way to the small computer that still held a lofty post on the room's desk, there was a knock at the door. The knocker waited until given permission to enter, then stepped in to reveal a Legionnaire, part of his face and his left eye covered in bandages. The injured man carried a surprisingly stylish wooden meal tray, acquired from the Embassy's kitchen, on which sat two plates of what apparently passed as breakfast for the day.

A large heel of bread, a pitifully small block of warm butter and a little dish of olive oil. There was a few blocks of cheese and cup of apple jelly. And even a small cup and kettle of mint tea. A very classic Moroccan breakfast, albeit a bit on the small side in it's servings.

"Morning, ma'am."
He glanced at the computer, and grinned a strange smile. He'd been told from higher that she would probably want to get on there as soon as she could, and on the tray sat a post-it note with a guest log-in for the system.
Jay frowned, "You'd cut the toes out of my socks for me, Amir? I had no idea you felt that way about me."
He pushed up to one elbow and followed the guy's gaze down at his leg. The knee was strapped to a stability board so it'd stay straight and was wrapped with gauze and padding from his calf to mid-thigh.

He lifted his stump of an arm. "Guess you were a bit luckier then me right? Your cat's in the other room. Gave it a bath, seems to be doing pretty well."

He supposed it was better than losing a hand. "Hey man, I'd rather lose a hand than be taken out by a ten year old."
His eyes crimped laughter that translated grimly to the joke they both shared.

Amirmoez barked a laugh, "If you feel the need for a bodyguard again, I'll be sure to let miss Grey know."

Jay pondered that long and hard. A pretty girl standing guard over him twenty-four seven? "Don't think anyone would turn her down."
His smirk over Natalie turned curious when another Legionnaire, Miki Knudsen, came in bearing a box.

Miki set it on the ground next to Jay, and his smirk immediately phased into a happy grin.

The kitten with its overly large head for its wobbly body peered up at him.

"Hey little buddy!"
Jay scrooped it up and laid back. It was shaking when he placed the little yellow fuzzball on his chest. Apparently it had been happy in its little box. One that was lined, evidently, with Jay's undershirt. He had no idea where his uniform was. But after a couple of sniffs, the kitten started exploring Jay's chest. Claws and all. "Owe!"
He swiped at its forepaws, "Hey. Keep those guns holstered, will yah?"
It batted back at his fingers.

Keeping one eye on the kitten, Jay checked out the bandages wrapping around Miki's shoulder. "The CEO? Huh. Suppose that means things have gone to right shit if he's flying in. What's happening out there?"
Only darkness shows you the light.

Ever since the debacle at the airport, Reed felt like she'd been plunged into the Dark Ages, all but cut off from every mode of help, contact, and transport available to her.

She had her Wallet, though, and regularly made use of it on the flight. Every once in a while she would look over from tapping out commands on the keyboard projected onto the fold out tray - even private jets had shitty plastic fold-out trays for the little people in the back. Trano slept most of the way. One of two medics was always hovering around. They kept him comfortable, but he still managed to whine every time he stirred. Most important, Reed confirmed that he would be alright. The medics were staying with him all the way to the US.

She dozed in and out along the way, but was always roused with the Wallet buzzed a new message. She had a lot to discuss with her superiors. The last twelve hours were rather busy what with being hunted like a rabbit through the airport, keeping tabs on dozens of high-profiles, and being witness to wizard-war.

Of course, she couldn't quite come right out and talk about it. So when the plane was parked for unloading maintenance, refueling, she strolled outside for a quick conversation.

Quick glances checked her bearings. Theoretically, she assumed someone was listening to her all the time.

She put a hand to her other ear to drown out the noise of the airport.
"But what about Trano?"
Her lips formed the thin line of a frown.

"He will remain your contact, but with him out of the CCD, there's no more reason to keep you in his company. Higher priorities have emerged."

"A higher priority than shadowing the next president of the USA?"
Her tone didn't believe that.

"Your priority is in Sierra Leone. Our intelligence shows that Jacques Danjou has accumulated significant following in Freetown and is the primary holder of organized military presence in the region. He has the President's wife in his care, and has positioned himself for significant influence. We need his alliance in the region. The mineral is too vital a resource to abandon to foreigners, and you're already embedded. Keep it that way."

Her gaze hardened as it swung toward the horizon. "Yes sir."

She slipped the Wallet in the pocket of her jeans and looked up at the jet. She had to say her goodbyes to say to Trano.


She had nothing in the way of personal things besides herself, her jacket, and her Wallet when she climbed into the back of Jacques' vehicle. The CEO turned around and looked at her, but he was clearly too tired to kick her out. She could relate. She was too tired to ask nicely.

"I need a ride into town, and I'm guessing you're going straight to your country's cute little embassy?"

She smirked.
Jared had arrived in Freetown that morning and had immediately been assigned to duty in the Embassy district. His platoon had been placed high readiness just in case the situation in Freetown became dire. The day before, it had. Those who weren't killed or wounded were operating on little sleep, so his platoon of around 40 men were sent to Freetown to assist with duties.

Riding in the SUV, Jared checked his FAMAS and his Sig Sauer, and finding them in working order, he was satisfied and turned to look out the window. The situation was indeed dire. Signs of combat and refugees were everywhere. The destabilization of the country had taken it's toll and things were likely to get worse before getting better.

The armored SUV arrived and Jared disembarked quickly, his FAMAS held relaxed, but kept his eyes moving for signs of danger. He moved quickly to the embassy building, an officer approached telling him that he had a guard post for the building. The officer dismissed the current guard who was clearly very tired, and Jared took up his post. He checked his weapons again - it never hurt to be sure - and stood, eyes searching for anything out of place.


She was still trying to coax the Wallet into life, jammed lifeless where the screen had smashed and leaked black into the flickering colours. The old-fashioned computer screen in front of her blinked insistently for a password she didn't have, so there was not much choice but to try and navigate the broken bit of tech. Her eyes glanced up as the door opened, then stayed there, and the prospect of food was suddenly almost as important as the need for information. She hadn't eaten at all yesterday.

A faint smile greeted the tray-laden legionnaire. "Just Natalie."
Though she wouldn't correct him again if he insisted. Her stiff posture and crisp accent might suggest otherwise, but she was not wedded to a shield of grandiose formality. Neither did she fight it like an indolent child. Ma'am sounded like something he'd call her mother, though. The man entered to set down the ornate tray, grinning curiously as he did so. On the couch Ekene shifted, a sigh of sleeping breath, then softer. Her first thought to ask: "How did the surgery go?"
Then a pause as her focus reoriented from the food to his bandaged face, and she added, "Jay Carpenter. Cut hamstring."
How many injured are there?

After that assurance - and before he had the chance to point out the post-it note, or she to notice it stuck to the tray - she had charmed out of him the other names of the men in the group that had pulled her and Ekene out of Freetown's chaotic streets, then his own name. Jacques Danjou was expected soon, she discovered, and in the meantime his legionnaires had been busy securing the area. The man didn't seem to mind to talk, and her tone was conversational rather than an interrogation. As the last thing before he left, he unstuck the note and offered it out. It took her a second to understand. "Apparently I am utterly transparent."
A smirk lifted her lips at the quaintness of a post-it note as she plucked it from his finger, and for the forethought of whoever had arranged for its gift.

"Thank you."
She uncurled from the chair to stand before he retreated fully, offering her hand. Ripples bloomed as the light stirred, the pain blissfully absent - thank goodness. Silver chords disappeared into his wrist, and she caught a hint of the damage beneath his bandages. The light sort of misted, dispersing something like a wish, an intention. Not that she was being entirely benevolent; it had come way down on today's list, but after the trials of yesterday and the violently sharp pangs in her head after the hospital explosion, she'd been concerned. The return to normality made her feel better. Probably it did him, too; he looked at her strangely before the door closed.

Back in the leather chair, she ate a little while she waited for the Wallet to sync with the computer, now unlocked. The progress blinked on screen until the arrangement of her clog feeds unfurled. "Oh."
The curse died, and her second sip of tea only made it halfway to her lips, the cup supported by suddenly leaden hands falling to her lap. DV scrolled bloody chaos across all the newsfeeds; Operation Jeddah, they were already calling it, as details leaked out from the Middle East. The CCD had yet to make a statement. Horror cooled her blood for several minutes while she read, until she forced herself away, frowning hard, closing herself off to the concern. If she had been religious she might have prayed for the lost souls, but since she was not it only reminded her of her smallness in a hard and cruel world. She snapped the feeds closed, pressed the tea onto the desk, and pulled up her contacts.

The line was bad, crackling with static, and there was no image. A camera blinked a red light on the flat-screen her end, but not his, which didn't surprise her. The school's line was still dead, but now that she could properly navigate the information on her Wallet, she'd tried his personal, a beat up pocket phone that predated the Wallet by several generations.

"Natalie? Natalie?? Thank God."

They spoke for several minutes until the line began to beep warning of a cut-out, and Azubuike's voice distorted an apology moments before abrupt silence. A brief exchange of circumstance didn't exactly lighten her heart, but it settled her. She'd passed on the news of Kofi like a first confession, to the uttering of Azu's prayers. Afterwards she asked after Ekene's family, but said nothing of what she'd learnt. The children of the school were safe, as were the teachers and her colleagues, though Temne soldiers had ransacked the place - looking for her, she guessed grimly, though either Azubuike did not realise it or he chose not to level her with the blame. The assault on Masiaka's military base had not gone as well as the attack on the capital. The presence of legionnaires had helped tip the balance. The town had suffered, but it would survive.

The second call was more formal, to her HQ, giving her current location, explaining her lack of mobile communication, confirming she was safe. She could hear the cacophony of noise in the background, and understood; the Red Cross had finite resources, and Mecca would suck them dry. Her voice grew heated as she discussed the minutiae of Freetown's situation, such as she understood it from the facts she had gleaned. The Temne had attacked a hospital. Her silver tongue spoke with an authority belied by her twenty-two years; she fought for extra and immediate relief-aid insistently, though she knew what the answer would be. Help would come when help could come. But for now, Sierra Leone was on its own.

When they began to broach the subject of getting her out, she hung up. The St. James school project lost its momentum if the country rocked around the edge of civil war, and that project was her sole reason for being here. The Red Cross presence in Sierra Leone needed to regroup, recalculate; they were scattered and mostly unequipped for the sudden and tumultuous turn of events. Their mandate was not political. They were supposed to be neutral.

But she wasn't leaving.

A shuffling and light groan announced Ekene's stirring. "Breakfast."
She gestured to the tray without turning, still idling on the screen. She should contact her mother, but a childish resistance stilled her. Ekene hovered darkly in her peripheral, the brevity of his eye contact morose. "How are you feeling?"
He blinked away, silent, and she supposed he was entitled to the self-pity. Honestly, she preferred the silence to the tears, and while the child was probably going to need help to sort out the horrific mess in his head, Natalie was not a therapist.

She was glad she'd already eaten given the voracity with which he attacked the remainder, pecking at it one-handed. Natalie reclaimed her cup of tea and leaned back in her chair, contemplating the screen, brow low over her pale eyes. The Legion must have reported their success to her mother; there was no need for her to open a channel of communication.
Jacques should have been resting, but it was evident the moment Reed climbed into his vehicle that he wasn't. He was sifting through the myriad of reports he was constantly receiving from throughout Sierra Leone from his scattered teams, and from teams in other parts of Africa. Those reports were at least of a more benign nature; business as usual throughout most of Africa.

Pockets of secular violence had popped up with the ever increasing news of DV, but such things were nothing new in Africa, and the had yet to gain any noteworthy traction.

The casualty reports from the teams tasked to securing the Red Cross workers was blessedly short as well, although he had already lost one full team when an American owned mine had been attacked only a few hours drive from Freetown, near Kenema, in the Kambui Hills Forest Reserve. By what he could glean of the reports, they had come under attack by Temne supporters led by foreign mercenaries. An unsettling turn of events.

"It is no longer the Moroccan embassy."
He didn't kick her out, and instead simply signaled for the driver to go. Moments later the small convoy was rolling off the airport and down the highway, south towards the ferries to Freetown. It didn't take long before the roads became choked with refugees fleeing to the presumed safety the city provided.

The convoy of SUVs was eventually forced off the road and onto the rougher terrain that ran adjacent to it. Even then there were crowds of people on foot or leading pack animals, but the Legion vehicles were able to navigate their way through at a slow and steady pace.

Jacques seemed intent to ignore Reed's presence for the entire trip, distracted as he was with sifting through the endless stream of information. But eventually he seemed to catch up with what needed his attention; e-signatures were given over on important documents. The loss of life in DV had created havoc with the Legion's life insurance providers; they were not eager to pay out on so many accounts so suddenly, but he had managed to corner them on the subject.

Of course, it meant the Legion's premiums were likely to increase, but he had over two hundred families dealing with the loss of a loved one, and while money wasn't going to make things better, it was the best he could do for the moment.

He finally tucked his Wallet away and pulled off his Landwarriors, rubbing tired eyes before settling his gaze on Reed. "I still want my vest back, you know."


Amirmoez and Miki's looks soured at Jay's question and the pair shared a look. Amirmoez was called away and he seemed quite willing to take the distraction, vanishing into the hallway after giving Miki a black-humoured pat on the shoulder with his stump.

Miki glanced around the room, then pulled over a simple metal chair and sat; the man was clearly tired, but who wasn't by that point? The Legionnaires were spread too thin to have been afforded any rest during the night. "Rumour has it the CEO is going to give a speech later today. Operation Jeddah, the civilian evac mission from Dominance five? Most of theDeuxième Bataillon was lost. The survivors are in CCD hospitals."

"The CEO cleared 4th Platoon's emergency deployment to back us up. They arrived a few hours ago. So at least the perimeter's secure."
4th Platoon, 1st Company was the current 'high readiness' unit based at the company's HQ in Morocco, set to be deployed en-masse should a situation turn sour. They had been spared deployment to DV only because 2nd Battalion had already been on the tarmac and best suited to the mission.


Confirmation of Natalie's safety had been delegated to Commandant Tuff, who had passed it on to her mother within minutes of her confirmed arrival at the Moroccan embassy. Of course, the message had been masked with a comprehensive list of all the Red Cross workers already rescued, and their medical state.

There were already plans in place to site refugee camps in the area. A team of Legionnaires coupled with Sierra Leonean civil engineers acquired thanks to their work with the elected government officials had departed at first light to start surveying a potential location south east of the city. Ideal locations were hard to find around Freetown though; the region was still mostly jungle and wildlife reserves.


The situation in the embassy was quiet, at least for the moment; with the added security they were better able to process the Moroccan refugees and grasp the situation at large.

With 4th Platoon newly arrived in the country, those Legionnaires that had weathered the first day of the unrest were given a respite, a chance to rest and tend their wounds.

There was a steady stream of Moroccans arriving at the embassy despite how difficult travel through the area had become; most were those already in or near Freetown, and had managed to pass through the Sierra Leonean military checkpoints that now secured the city's perimeter.

Most were people of dual-citizenships, and not 'true' Moroccans, but their birth records were enough to afford them the protection of the more stable of the two countries. Promises of a chartered ship to carry them back to Morocco had been announced by the government, although it would be days before it was dispatched, let alone arrived in Freetown.

The Chinese had proven faster; they had been much faster to respond to the situation, a benefit of their style of government. There was much less red tape to cut through. Rumour had it that the first of the Chinese vessels would be arriving the next morning.

Tasked to the small embassy's perimeter wall, Jared was afforded the unenviable view of refugees seeking their embassies. Most were African, and the Chinese were easy to spot in the mass; most were of the rich and powerful persuasion, arriving with armed guards of their own, mercenaries mostly (in some cases Legionnaires).

Many were wounded, exhausted. Foreigners had been prime targets for the Temne, second only to those of Mende origins, and few had escaped at least some of the horrors that had been visited throughout the night. And by the stories they brought with them, General Wallace-Johnson's soldiers were not innocent of their own atrocities.
Jared had a rather unfortunate view where he was situated. Refugees were coming in by the hundreds. Many were wounded and all were tired, and fear was in abundance. Most of the refugees were African, but there were also Chinese. Some were rich, but many of the refugees were poor.

Jared listened as people went by to their stories, and the same theme kept coming up: the atrocities of General Wallace-Johnson and his soldiers. Jared was so angry that he wanted to hit something, but he reined in his emotion as beating the wall would be completely unprofessional. These people were innocent bystanders - and true soldiers didn't attack civilians. The most difficult part was seeing the children. Jared saw parents carrying their injured kids and scared children that hid behind their mother's legs at the sight of the soldiers. Jared hoped to God that these kids would make it through this emotionally and physically unscathed. They were too young to know the horrors of war.

Jared wished he could help more. They were scared and hurt and all he could really do at this time is watch as they went to their embassies for help and evacuation. He wanted to do more. He wanted to tell all of these people that it would be okay, but he knew he couldn't give them that assurance. He didn't know if they would be either. It was a grim situation and everyone's mood mirrored that. As unlikely as it would be, Jared found himself wishing that before the day was out, he could make one person forget their troubles for a moment and smile, their hope in humanity rekindled.

A small voice caught Jared's attention, "Mommy, I'm hungry."

Jared turned to face the sound. A young boy and his mother stood perhaps a hundred feet away from him. They looked poor and malnourished. Both wore ragged clothing that was torn and dirty from hardship. Dirt covered their faces where tears hadn't etched lines through it.

Jared's heart broke as he saw the mother kneel down to comfort and tell her son that they would eat soon. Her face betrayed her true fear that she really didn't know when that would be. The whole situation continued to fuel Jared's anger, but he kept it in check and then remembered he could help this woman.

His hand moved towards his pocket and he pulled out the granola bar he had saved in case he wanted a snack while on the road. He had completely forgotten about it. He slung his FAMAS over his shoulder and began to walk slowly towards the woman and her son while opening the wrapper. As the boy caught sight of Jared, he darted behind his mother's legs, hand gripping her dress.

Jared knelt down, tore off a piece of the granola bar and ate it, showing the young boy that it was food, and spoke in a calm voice, "Here, for you."

The prospect of food made the young boy look from behind his mother's legs. The boy looked from his mother to Jared and back to his mother again before locking on to the small treat that Jared held in his hands. Jared offered the boy a warm smile of encouragement, and slowly the boy walked toward Jared, took the bar, and ran back to the safety of his mother's legs. He nibbled at the treat and as he realized it really was food, a gleam came into his eyes.

"Thank you mister,"
the tiny voice said in between mouthfuls as the boy moved forward and took his mother's hand.

Jared went back to his post without a word. He unslung his FAMAS and continued to watch the refugees pass through in silence. The mother passed by a few seconds later, new tears etching new lines through the dirt on her face. Jared gave her a polite nod and she returned it with a grateful smile.

Mission Accomplished.

Edited by Jared Vanders, Jun 26 2014, 08:35 AM.

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