A blackout was implemented; the frontlines remained silent aside from the night patrol squadrons, and she remained in contact through her Para-RAID with all the surviving forces.
Faced with this serious predicament, Lena pursed her faint colored lips.
They were already prepared.
They had known that this day would come. The Republic, which had long ignored the destruction beyond them as they cooped up within their solace, was at its final moments, trying to resist with it's feeble might in the face of the "Legion" assaults.
As the 'death god' stationed at the Eastern frontline had predicted, there was a difference in how they faced their enemy, for the proud Eighty-Sixers kept fighting, knowing that they could not run from their final fates.
In any case, she had pleaded the various sections—to regroup in the Eighty Five zones, that aid would be provided, before switching her Para-RAID off without answering any question, and hurrying off towards the control room. There was no need to answer those questions. If they truly intended to help, they would arrive here, in the Eighty Five Legislative Zones. Before then, she would have to clear the mines between the Eighty Sixers and the Republic, and open the gates of the "Grand Mur".
Lena gently pressed upon a certain thing that was hidden within the inner pocket of her black uniform.
That was their final hope.
A figure stealthily appeared upon the corridor that she had just passed through.
"—What are you intending to do, Captain Vladlena Millize?"
At that moment, Lena was grabbed by the shoulder. She immediately turned around.
Seeing the person before her, she murmured.
"Brigadier General Carl-Stahl…!"
She waved his hand aside, and glared at the man who was a head taller than her.
This moment was the Rubicon that determined whether the Republic, the Eighty-Sixers and Lena could survive.
Surely she could not allow this man, who was hesitant in despair, get in her way.
"I am going to clear the landmines and open the "Grand Mur"…call in all the forces on the frontlines, concentrate our firepower against the "Legion". We might have hope…"
"Enough. It's better off for the Republic to be wiped out by the "Legion" than to let the Eighty-Sixers in. The citizens might be better off."
"At this juncture, how are you–…!"
Still so obsessed with thinking that the Albas are the only humans, that only the Albas have the right to reside peacefully in the Eighty Five zones like delusion, and watch our country be wiped out?
"There is no way the Eighty Sixers will fight for the Republic."
Upon hearing these sudden words, Lena felt a verbal lashing upon her face.
"They, oppressed, abandoned and harmed by the Republic, will not agree to our pleas at this point. Thy have no obligation, no reason to save us…at most, they will mock us, saying that we deserve it."
Lena gritted her teeth.
She knew that.
She could not bring herself to shamelessly ask them for help, to protect them.
"They have no obligation, but they have a reason. We have generators and production plants. These facilities remain necessary to survive, to keep fighting. There is no way that they won't understand that, having fought all this while."
A frown appeared on Carl-Stahl's scarred face.
It appeared that he had witnessed something truly intolerable.
"How idealistic you are…maybe they might have such thoughts initially. However, they will soon realize that it is better to resist the "Legion" with their own might than to protect the useless citizens incapable of protecting themselves."
"When that happens, what next? Slaughter might be a better outcome here. You should know, having studied history, that what happens next will not be as nice as you will like it to be, especially…for a young woman like you."
Once he mentioned this possible future, Lena was left terrified.
Not that she had never assumed this possibility.
Having commanded many battles, she might have gained the trust of the Processors in her squad. However, to them, she was merely a white swine flailing away safely at the back.
She had accounted for such a possibility—that once the Eighty-Sixers were summoned, they would be slaughtered.
She had also thought of the wanton violence that might happen.
But even so.
She reached her hand out to the letters and photo beneath her uniform, gently placed in her inner pocket, and concealed with a waterproof bag…just in case the "Legion" began its assault.
Those were the final words left behind for her.
"But even so…I don't intend to give up right from the beginning and wait to be annihilated. I might die giving all I got…but I want to keep fighting until the end."
Or else, she would be unable to face Shinn and the other members, who had lived that way, and believed that she too would do so.
The two pairs of silver eyes met each other—and suddenly, Carl-Stahl looked aside.
"Do as you please."
He turned around and proceeded down the long corridor. A large assault rifle was slung around over his shoulder, resting upon his large back, swaying heavily. It was a well maintained 7.62mm rifle produced by the Republic, capable of firing once or thrice.
That was probably the gun Carl-Stahl had used during his youth.
The rifles assigned differed for each soldier, who could only use their personal rifle during training and combat. It was a mass-produced assault rifle, but each had a distinct quality. Only those familiar with their rifles could use them well.
It was the rifle Carl-Stahl obtained during his youth, had used during the battles against the "Legion" ten years ago, and remained with him till this point.
"Having dreams is a privilege for the children, Captain Millize. And it is the duty of an adult—to protect such dreams before they wake and be crushed by the cruel reality."
With one hand, he removed his tie, and tossed it to the ground. At that moment, Lena noticed that beneath the thick officer uniform were the clashing combat boots fit for practical purposes.
Had he always intended to…?
"Wait and be crushed, Lena. Wait and see how your beautiful dreams are crushed by reality."
Unknowingly, Lena reached her hand out towards her 'uncle'…only to immediately purse her lips, and clench her fist.
The boots clattered as she saluted the silhouette that had no intention to face her.
"Yes, good luck—Brigadier General Carl-Stahl."
Upon saying those words, Lena again returned to the corridors of the military headquarters.
She quietly meditated over her last words towards him. Again she repeated it until it was ingrained in her mind, into a tiny guiding star in a corner of her mind.
If one day, we arrive at the end of our journey.
Surely, I will head towards where you rest.
To the destination of your journey.
The endless hordes of "Legion" continued their onslaught, the cannons rumbled, and the blades clashed.
Suddenly, Shinn was seemingly reeled over by something.
He seemed to have heard a voice.
He was taking on the masses before him, battling for his life. That moment lingered for but a second, and was quickly devoured by the battles, forgotten as it vanished.
Never once did he think it would be 'her' voice during her last moments.