January 11, 2006

Terra Mortis II: The Gathering

Chapter 17

By Dwayne MacInnes

It was only a few days of hard marching before Nori, Coop, Brady and Nathan arrived at the hidden rebel camp. Brady's first reaction was that it was far from the military-type resistance he envisioned. Instead, the base looked more like a compound of college age kids at keg camp hidden at an abandoned campground in the woods. There was no order to the placement of tents and trailer houses. Most of the residents just lazed around in the shade of the afternoon sun drinking a beer or even harder alcohol some were even smoking pot.

"Let's see how things have been since I've been gone," Nathan smiled as he approached the camp.

They just walked into the base. Brady was appalled by how untrained and unprofessional these rebels were. There weren't any sentries, and nobody took any real notice of them until someone recognized Nathan. Then there was a shout. Almost everyone raised a head or shouted out in excitement as they watched the group enter the compound.

People started running over to Nathan and asking various questions all at once. Nathan shook many hands, patted many backs, and smiled at everyone. The newly returned leader walked over to an old cable spool and jumped on top of it. He raised his hands over his head urging everyone to quiet down. It took at least a minute before everyone became silent. Brady, Nori, and Coop just hung back from the group observing what looked like something out of a Civil War painting of General Lee addressing his troops.

"They may not be well trained, but they definitely have spirit," Brady mused to himself.

"Now, now, the rumor of my demise has been greatly exaggerated," Nathan joked with the crowd around him. Everyone broke into laughter.

"I am back and I have brought us some new recruits. I want everyone to treat them with the respect that they deserve," Nathan pointed to the three companions at the rear of the group.

Brady felt uncomfortable as about one hundred pairs of eyes turned and looked at them curiously. Brady felt Nori fidgeting next to him, obviously as uncomfortable as he was. Coop just smiled and waved weakly at the spectators.

"Here we have the young, but mighty warrior Thomas Cooper! Next to him is my personal savior the lovely, but deadly Noriko "Nori" Fubuki! Finally, and least is the new recruit Brady West." Nathan introduced the three in a cheery voice. It was hard to tell if Nathan was slighting Brady out of jest or hatred, but he had a good idea which it was.

Brady was about to say something when he heard a female voice on the other side of the group shout out.

"Nathan, thank God you are alive!"

Everyone turned in the direction of the voice to see a young blonde girl in her early twenties run up to Nathan and embrace him. The woman started to kiss Nathan when he pushed her back and pointed over to the trio again.

"You can thank them for my life. If they didn't come at the right time, I would have wound up dead like the rest. How have things been here Lisa?" Nathan enquired.

Brady noticed the glare that Lisa gave Nori as she glanced at them. It was obvious that Lisa saw Nori as a threat to her. Lisa quickly snapped her head back to Nathan.

"Not as easy as you may have wanted. With your supposed death, nobody has been in much of a mood for raiding. Morale has been pretty low. But now that you are back…"

"Come let's talk in private. I think we can bring our new friends into the inner circle," Nathan responded as he waved Brady, Nori, and Coop over to join them.

Inside the trailer house, the six leaders of the rebels and the three companions sat around the table. It was a very tight squeeze but everyone found a place to sit. A window was opened so that the air could circulate. It became obvious to Brady at how untrained these people were. The marksmanship training composed of shooting bottles off a log. There was no martial arts training, mostly everyone just brawled. Leadership was more of a popularity contest than based on merit.

It became apparent that this was a group of the popular inner crowd kids, and the fringe unpopular kids would never be allowed to join in. That was the other thing; these people were all kids. Granted that they were all around Brady's age but their training was greatly inferior to his. None had any actual military experience, and few knew how to operate a firearm before they joined the resistance. Therefore, he couldn't help but feel that they were kids. Brady wondered if this was how Sarge felt about Nori, Coop, and himself.

"I hope we can all give these guys the respect they deserve," Nathan said to his cadre of officers. "I believe that they'll be a great asset to us. They have actual military training so I'm appointing Brady and Nori instant officer rank. But even Coop here shouldn't be brushed off. He has more combat knowledge than any of us."

The group of young men and women nodded assent. The only person that didn't seem pleased was the woman called Lisa. She glowered again as she glanced over to Nori. Nori didn't seem to notice.

Nathan began to introduce his group of officers. The young woman whose name was Lisa Allen was second in command of the rebels. Brady found out later from some of the other officers that Lisa and Nathan had been living together. Nathan tended to be a philanderer and Lisa was dangerously possessive. Brady realized he would have to keep an extra eye out for Nori.

Nathan proposed that Nori be in charge of a group of rebels with Brady as her second, but Nori refused and adamantly suggested that Brady be in charge. Nathan finally assented and Brady was assigned a group of twenty people.

The next morning Brady, Nori, and Coop rounded up their new charges. Brady's initial optimism fell as he realized that he was assigned to a group of misfits. These were the unpopular and troublemakers that the other officers didn't want to deal with. Brady was about to walk out of the camp then and there when Nori pulled him away from the group and talked to him in a low voice.

"I know that you are disappointed, Brady, but you have to train these guys. Who else will do it? I also know that Nathan assigned you this group hoping that you'd leave. We all desperately need you, even if the rest of the group doesn't know it."

Brady nodded his head and approached the ragtag group of kids. There was a variety of reactions from the group as Brady returned. Some were of disdain; others looked with fear.

"OK, it looks like I'm you new leader," Brady began slowly.

"You don't say?" a slender African-American youth responded garnering laughs and high fives from his neighbors.

"THAT'S ENOUGH!" Brady shouted in surprise to even himself. The authority in his voice quieted down the group. "Look here, I don't expect you to respect me. I have to earn that. But I want you to realize that if you want learn how to fight I will teach you. There are no officers here who can teach you what I can. For that matter, they don't even want to deal with you. If you want to leave, leave now. Leave this camp and see how well you do on your own. So far, you have proven your spirit to the cause, now we will show you how to fight and fight hard and smart."

The group looked at each other deciding what to do. Brady's words had struck a cord with the twenty misfits. So in the end no one left and all looked towards Brady.

"I'm going to work you hard. Train you hard. But by the end, you will be the best of the best of anyone here. You'll prove to everyone that you are better than any ten of the other group warriors."

Brady then introduced his companions, "This is Nori and Coop and they'll be helping me with your training."

Brady noticed a young Asian man looking at Nori puzzled. "Do you have a question?" Brady asked.

"I am Akira Ifukube, I am from Japan," the young man responded in broken English. "Is your name really Nori?" he asked Noriko.

Noriko started conversing to Akira in Japanese. Brady was at first taken back, he had never heard Nori speak in Japanese before. He knew she could, after all her parents came to the US from Japan before she was born. After a couple of minutes, Nori looked up a Brady.

"Akira was an exchange student from Japan. He's been having a hard time with everything because no one will speak with him. He was surprised that you called me Nori. Nori in Japanese means ‘seaweed'. I explained that it was only a nickname for Noriko," Nori said in her usual quick and bubbly voice. "I, of course, told him that he had an unusual name himself. He said that he was named after the famous movie composer."

Brady looked at her with a puzzled expression.

"Man, you really needed to watch more movies. You obviously never watched a Toho monster flick," Nori responded shaking her head. "In any case, Akira can speak English well enough. We just have to speak more slowly so that he can understand us."

"Cool," Brady smiled.

"Kakkoui," Nori replied.

"What?"

"Kakkoui, you are going to start learning some Japanese. Your first word is kakkoui, that's slang for ‘cool' or ‘far out' if you're as old as Sarge."

Brady turned back to the group, "Now that the introductions are done I'm giving you one last night of fun. Tomorrow we begin training that means no alcohol or parties and drugs are not allowed at all. If there are any violations you are out."

Posted by deg at January 11, 2006 9:41 PM

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