I got back in my car and drove back to the base as quick as I could. A mountain of dust followed me as I was practically flying down the dirt road. When I got closer, I heard the sirens going off and knew they were about to go to war.
Halfway parking the car into a spot in the garage, I jump out and run back up the winding block staircase. There were a few people that I passed in the garage who were frantically trying to make what was left of the vehicles in this garage functional for battle.
Up and up I went trying to make it the offices or to find a command center to see what I could do about Nat- not knowing if he was okay. I knew I shouldn’t have let him go with them. I thought if worse comes to worse he might get beat up a little, but Captain Phil made it seem like Nat was just going along for the ride- just to give him a little adventure.
When I made it to the office, it was in total disarray; people were up moving from desk to desk, shredding this, deleting that. I could barely hear myself think because of the repetitive alarm that sounded. Every minute or so someone would come over the speaker and say, “Attention all units, attention all units, please report to your battle-ready stations. This is not a drill. I repeat; this is not a drill.” I had heard it so many times that I could mouth it word for word to myself.
No one was at the front desk in the office, so I had to run back and try to stop one of the 40 people running around. “Hey!” I yelled looking up at one of them. He stopped and looked down at me with his eyes as wide as they could open and said, “what?” “Where do I go to find out what is going on?” I asked impatiently. “Walk out of here and down the hallway to the right, and you will see some signs that say “Command Center” with arrows to tell you which way.”
I didn’t realize it until I was out the door but I left right when he finished talking and didn’t even tell him “thank you.” As I followed all of the signs I passed many people who were also moving quickly through the torch-lit hallways. Since my dad lost his job, we hadn’t gone to church as much. One of the only things I could think to do is to try to pray and ask God to make all this better.
My teacher at church would always give us coloring sheets and tell us that God was in control of everything. Honestly, I didn’t really understand how that was possible since bad things still happened. But right then, I felt so scared and sad about Nat that I really hoped he was somehow still in control. After a while, I began to feel more at peace about Nat.
When I finally go to the double doors that had a sign that said “Command Center” on the right wall, two big guards with large “Nerd” guns stopped me. I tried to run past them, but they grabbed me. All I could do is scream “Let me in! My brother is in trouble!”
Just then, someone came and opened the doors behind them, which I could see through squirming in their arms. She said, “it’s okay men. You can let her through.”
When I went in, there were so many screens and holographic maps; I had never seen anything like it before. They had one that was of the entire castle, and I could see the dirt road that I traveled down and also, what they called “The Gem,” which was the massive base of the Jocks. It lit up in that light blue that I could kind of see through but still make out the texture of. It looked like a large gymnasium or stadium.
The yellow woman introduced herself as "Sergeant Stacy" but "Stace" for short. She looked at me and said, “I am really sorry about your brother. We will find out what happened to him.” No one told me to get out, so I stayed in and listened to all of them as they began to talk about what it was that they were going to do to retaliate.
It didn’t take long before the room was in one big argument about how to respond. By the bits and pieces that I heard, we didn’t have enough people to attack them from the outside. If we were to, we would lose far too many more men and be practically incapable of anything after that. If we do nothing, there is no telling when they might come at us again.
I went up to Sergeant Stace and said, “can we try to talk to them and see if they even have Nat before we fight again” “Ahh, diplomacy,” she responded. “We will look weak if we try to go talk to them after they have attacked us.” “So what?” I said. “There’s an unspoken law in the land where a leader can peacefully approach an enemy if it is for the purpose of trading prisoners,” she said thinking deeply.
A soldier with some ribbons painted onto his already painted on shirt looked at her and said, “We have 10 of their men in Cell Block C. One of them is the infamous Chad.” Everyone gasped when they heard his name. I have no clue who he was or what he could have done, but everyone seemed to not even want to think about letting him go.
Sergeant Stace looked at me and asked, “want to go with me to see if they have any of our prisoners and try to bargain with them?” “I don’t know that seems a bit scary after everything that has happened,” I responded. “I think they will respect the custom, and I don’t think that they would harm either of us, especially if you are with me. While we are there, we can look for all of their weak places to find out where to attack. I haven’t even shown you our tunnel system yet.”
She took me up to the roof of the enormous fortress to a helicopter made out of the same blocks. At first glance, it seemed like it might have a difficult time trying to fly, but it was a pretty comfortable ride. The higher we got in the hair, the more I could see where everything was. Just past the trees where I found the enflamed cars was a fast-moving river that had a long bridge stretched across it. The bridge was wide enough for most cars to go one way. I could see the fluffy tops of more woods right on the other side of the river. It looked like a bunch of green clouds that could be jumped from one to the next.
We landed right outside of their fence which went all the way around The Gem. The building was round from the top but had all of these interesting angles where it connected to the sides. It looked a lot like a diamond that doesn’t come to a point at the bottom. We walked up to the gate in the fence, which was metal and made a bunch of squares separated by some thin strands that wove in between one another.
Two guys met us at the gate wore some shoes with the number “23” on them. They wore shorts and tank tops- all of them. I wonder what they do when it gets cold outside.
“What do you want?” one of them asked in a rude tone. “We want to speak to your leader,” Sergeant Stace responded in a stern voice. One of them walked away for a short moment and was talking on a radio; then, he walked back over to us and said, “follow me.”
We followed him up a gravel road that took us into the front of the of The Gem. The gravel road split there and went around the building to various things in the back. Sergeant Stace did not look scared in the least. As soon as we walked through those metal double doors, there was a whole group of guys there dressed the same as the others.
They looked at us both, put blindfolds on us, and said, “don’t stop walking.” They took us through various rooms. I smelled so many smells that I never knew could linger in the air. One room we went through had these weird sounds of metal hitting metal, and the word “bro” was said a lot. Over at the far end, I heard someone say, “do you even lift, Brock?”
We finally made it into a room that smelled the weirdest of them all. It was kind of like that spray some of the boys would wear in school. Someone took our blindfolds off, and all I could see is lockers on either side of us. They took us over to one of the Jocks sitting on a bench. I think he is important because he had people all around him.
He stood up and said, “Hello Stace, and you must be Emma. Nat has told me so much about you.” “Hello Derick,” Sergeant Stace responded while gritting her teeth.
No one said anything for a few seconds. Breaking the silence, Derick said, “Very well. Put them with the others.”