--- Italica ---
Date: June 11th, 2025
The original plan was for Vanguard-7, the Ambassador Willington, and Princess Pina to go to the Empire capital of Sadera. For the peace process to continue, it was agreed to include the Emperor to finalize the agreement.
About two hours before they left, a massive rainstorm came through the night. With the heavy rain and the condition of the dirt roads in doubt, it was decided that it was too dangerous to travel in this weather. A twenty-four-hour delay was agreed to.
He looks through the window, watching the intense rain come down. The rain reminds him of past operations.
"I have been all-over South-East Asia,” he says. “The rain there was mindboggling, but this is ridiculous."
Hearing that, Andrew speaks up from a new manga he is reading. "What countries have you been to sir?" He asks. He is sitting on a chair on the other side of the room.
Scott, Lelei, and Alicia are at a table playing a hand of poker. They are teaching Lelei the arts of the game.
"Ten bucks he says classified," Alicia says, placing a bet.
"He does say that a lot," Lelei points out as she watches and tries to analyze Alicia bet. "I think you are faking."
"Well, he says that mainly to her," Scott adds to what Lelei said, referencing Alicia. He then looks at Lelei as he matches her bet. "Also, it's called a bluff."
He thinks about the answers. "Taiwan, Philippines and… hmm, I can't talk about that one. Let’s call that good for now. Now you own me ten bucks." He looks at Alicia and winks. He looks back at the window. "By the way Sergeant, don't ever piss off the Philippines Special Forces. A good way to end up in jail for a week." He shakes his head with a smirk. “Carlos you bastard.”
"Wait what?" Scott asks after hearing that.
"Long story, lost a bet. If they ever offer you to gamble, say no," he says to Scott.
That is when a Marine opens the door. "Major Sharpe, you are needed down in the lobby."
Sharpe looks to the Marine and nods. "Hope this is good."
Once Sharpe leaves the room, everyone goes back to what they were doing.
Alicia folds her hand. "God, even when he says something he's still encrypted."
"Yeah, but hasn't he has opened up more since that story from the bar?" Lelei points out. "Isn't that what you wanted?"
"Yeah, that's good. Can't trust a hollow man in battle," Alicia says as she increases the bet. "Don't take what I say to literal Lelei, after Elies(1) I have a lot of respect for the guy. It just has a feeling it is not his record that he's hiding."
Scott smiles and takes all the chips that were betted. "What makes you say that?"
"Women's intuition," Alicia replies to him. "Now deal again."
Sharpe hear all that but ignores it.
--- Italica, US Diplomatic Outpost Alpha ---
Date: June 12th, 2025
Sharpe follows the Marine downstairs into the makeshift lobby. Once he arrives there, he sees Ambassador Willington arriving as well. There also is this cat woman standing there. She has glasses and purple hair. Sharpe wonders if the purple hair is natural or some kind of dye color. He recalls seeing her before when he was ‘wounded' by one of the Rose Guard. She and some other maids helped take care of his people that extra day.
"Mister Ambassador, what can I do for you?" Sharpe asks him.
Willington looks to the Major. "Actually, I was just summoned to."
"That was me." The Catgirl say. "My name is Persia, a servant to the Countess of Italica. I bring an offering. Countess Myui and Princess Pina offer a small feast until the storm pass. To build on our new friendship between us nobles."
Sharpe was about to reject the offer but then the Ambassador would accept it.
"We will be happy to accept the offering. I think a nice meeting out be healthy, to better understand each other. When should we arrive and who is invited?" Willington says and then asks her.
Persia looks slightly confused. "Didn't I say nobles? Sometimes my mind forgets to say what I am thinking."
Willington smiles, seeing the misunderstanding. "No, you did. We don't have nobles in our society. I take it you mean our leaders that we currently have here?"
Persia nods her head, also seeing the cultural misunderstanding. "Yes, what you consider to be your nobles then. Also, Rory Mercury and the other two girls are also invited if they wish to come."
What she said would confuse Sharpe a little. He understands why Rory would be invited since she is the demi-goddess of Emroy but Selina and Lelei? "Why Selina and Lelei?"
Persia looks over to Sharpe. "The blue hair magic user, she is one of the heroes of Italica and a close friend of yours. For the other girl, it would be rude not to invite the hero of Italica daughter."
Sharpe would stand there, looking more confused. He then looks to Willington and sees the same confused look on his face. He can tell the Ambassador is doing the math in his head and it is not adding up.
Sharpe delays his response, not really knowing how to commit to that. "Actually, she isn't my daughter. I am just helping her until she gets back on her feet."
"Oh… you could have fooled us," Persia says with a big smile. "Well, a plate is already planned. They are welcome if they wish."
"Thank you." Willington intervenes. "When should you expect us?"
Persia looks to him now. "I will come back here when everything is ready." She then bows and leaves.
After she leaves, Sharpe lets out a relaxed breath. "Well, if I know this was going to happen, I would have let the city burn."
Willington chuckles at that. "I understand your feelings on that. You are still going through."
"I know, isn't it why I am here right?" Sharpe says as he looks to him. "Do you want to invite them all?" He would be referencing both Sarah Rose, Charles Johnson, and the three girls.
"Yeah, however, it is optional for the three girls." Then Willington will think about what he just says. "But it would be better if they come. Show a sign of respect and trust."
"Yes, sir. I will give them the heads up." Sharpe says and then thinks. "Sir, is this a good idea though? Could be a trap."
"You tell me, Major. Do you think the Princess is setting a trap just for us? Your team is technically the experts here." Willington asks him.
"No, she seems genuine. Her loyalty is to her country and currently, this is their only option for them. Let's do it your way." Sharpe finishes and then heads back upstairs.
He walks down the hall, heading to one of the spare bedrooms where Sarah is supposed to be. Once he arrives, he knocks.
"Come in." It is be Sarah's voice.
Sharpe opens the door and leans into the room. To his surprise, he also sees Selina in the room. It looks like Sarah is helping Selina settle in. "Hey ladies."
"What's up boss," Selina asks, hearing that term before and now using it.
"We just got a hero's welcome dinner at the palace. You are going with Sarah." Sharpe says.
Sarah looks to him. "Really? When did this happen?"
"Just now. One of their maids came over. The Ambassador wants us to go over, PR reasons. Him and the officers." Sharpe responds with. He then looks over to Selina. "You have an invitation to. But you don't have to go If you don't want to."
Hearing that, Selina hesitates to answer. The truth is she does not feel comparable being in an Empire city. She knows she is safe with him and in this building, housed with very well-trained American Soldiers. Still, she feels safer around him. In addition, when she was temporarily taken as a slave, she was supposed to be given to the royal family as a gift. Being in the same room with one of those people is hard to handle.
"I rather not," Selina ask in a soft voice.
Sharpe nods her head. "I understand. Trust me, I rather bail to."
"Sharpe, this is important. This could end the war." Sarah says.
"I know, but isn't that why we have diplomats?" Sharpe says, knowing Sarah just poking fun at him. "ETA is unknown. Probably in a few hours."
Before Sharpe leaves, he stops and looks back at Sarah. "Do you know where Rory and Charles are at?"
Sarah thinks for a second. "I think Charles is with Randy having a smoke. I can go get him. Rory, I have no idea. She is probably being Rory."
He nods and then thinks. On his way out he closes the door and heads down the hallway. He goes back to the room he was at before all this started.
As he opens the door, he sees Alicia shot up to form the table celebrating. She probably won a hand of poker.
"Ha! I totally owned you!" Alicia says very energetically.
He sees Lelei still sitting there at the table playing the game. "Hey Lelei, the Countess is hosting a formal dinner. You have an invitation. Interested?"
Then Alicia looks to him. "What the… you get to go have a nice dinner while we are all stuck here." She then looks at him more closely. "It is because you're an officer isn't it? Are Sarah and Charles going to?"
"Yes, all three of us are going." Sharpe replies and then smirks. "You want to switch places then?"
Alicia then stops and thinks about his question. "Ahh… not really. It sounds really boring. Yeah, you are hanging out with a princess but it is not like anything can happen. And the food probably sucks. Great for their standards but sucks by ours." Then she thinks some more about the subject. "God, the conversations. All formal and fancy."
"Thank you for your always interesting point of view Sergeant," Sharpe says, lightly shaking his head. He then looks to Lelei again. "Interested kid?"
Lelei, always finding Alicia's attitude in life interesting looks back at Sharpe. "You can tell them thank you for the invite, but I have no interest in going. I have no business with the Empire, and I wish not to get more involved in their politics." She then looks to Alicia as she sits back down. "Besides, Alicia summed it up very accurately."
"Good answer kid. Well, make you into a grunt soon enough." Scott says as he shuffles the deck of cards.
"I completely understand. Have fun all." Then Sharpe leaves the room.
A few hours pass since that conversation. Both Sarah, Charles, and Sharpe be in the lobby after being called. All of them are in their standard Army Dress uniform with their Peaked Cap. Ambassador Willington is in a nice black tuxedo.
"Where is everyone else?" Willington asks, noticing it is just the three Rangers.
"Selina and Lelei say no. I personally don't blame them. Haven't seen Rory all day." Sharpe replies to him, adjusting his tie.
"They won't be happy about that." Willington points out.
"With all due respect sir but this is mainly for us correct?" Charles asks. "We need to do this ourselves."
That is when Rory walks through the door, dripping wet. She stretches out yawning. Right then she notices all of them in highly dressed. "Ahh… what is going on?"
"Where have you been?" Sharpe asks.
"My duties. I might spend most of my time with you people, but I still have responsibilities as the apostle of Emroy. There has been a crime problem in this city sense the siege, so I am… enjoying myself," Rory says that and then looks at them. "Now answer my question."
Willington jumps in to answer her question. "We were invited to a formal dinner with the Countess and Princess. You were also requested."
After hearing that Rory burst out laughing. "Ha, ha, ha, no. I don't do the formal stuff of man. Besides, I can't do all the heavy lifting for you all the time." She says smirking, knowing the Americans have been using her as their ‘get out of jail card'. She has been fine with it, is a ton of fun.
"Rory, aren't you cold?" Asks Sarah, looking up and down her. Rory always wears a Gothic style cloth with a skirt.
Rory looks down and then looks at her smiling. "Nope… well, maybe a little but no worry."
"You really shouldn't worry mom," Rory says, teasing Sarah. She then walks away. "Have fun, you are going to need it." She then stops and points to Sharpe. "You, no funny business. I will know." And then she turns back around and walks up the stairs laughing.
"Mom?" Sarah asks, confused by what Rory said.
After Rory leaves, all three of them look to Sharpe. He looks at them all.
"What? I have no idea." Sharpe says, just as confused.
"… Your right Lieutenant. It is best if they don't come. How do you put up with her?" Willington says, a reference to what Charles said before.
After a short time waiting, talking amongst themselves, these two maids come over. One is Persia, the lady who came before. There is another one with her, she looks like a Human Bunny.
The Bunny introduces herself as Mamina and is their escort to the palace. Persia offered to stay behind and serve the others.
The four of them arrived at Italica palace. When they arrived, many of the staff were amazed by the umbrellas, impressed by the fact that they can shield someone from the rain. As a gift, Willington offered the umbrellas to each one of them, which they all accepted.
Pina watched that, baffled by all the small wonders these Americans have. She started to realize that their bigger and more powerful technology isn’t the only amazing tools. The smaller devices seem to be more amazing than the bigger ones.
Pina has gotten to know the staff well, Myui personal maids and assassins. Aurea, Mamina, Persia, and Meia. All of them are Beast Humanoid races, all consider less than the Common Races. She finds it distasteful that Italica treat Beast Races like men.
Within the Empire, Italica has always been the black sheep. The Formal family have always had a weak heart for lower cast of humanoids, especially Colt Formal. Anywhere else in the Empire those four maids would be slaves and she assume that is why they are in Italica as maids, to avoid slavery.
As the Americans head into the dining room, she stops and looks at Mamina, an orange Warrior Bunny, “don’t get too comfortable. You might dress like us and walk like us but both you and the Nekos are savages. Italica won’t be able to protect you all from the law forever.”
Warrior Bunnies are considered savages throughout the Empire. Her brother, Crown Prince Zorzal Ceser lead a massive army to the Warrior Bunnies homeland and conquered it, forcing all of them into their proper place for a savage, slavery. Belonging with the Cat-People.
Mamina glares at Pina, “you say that Princess however you think you will be able to outsmart these people. I was born free and I will stay free. The Empire is too weak to do anything about it.”
Hearing that angers her. Not just the words but the tone to. She felt like Mamina knows something that she doesn’t. Not wanting to create a bigger scene she goes into the dining room.
Everyone sits at the table, being served food and drinks. There is clearly some tension in the air, not really knowing what to do. She doesn’t know what customs the Americans have and from her last encounter with them, she noticed how different they are. The only person that seems comfortable is the Ambassador.
Pina takes the head seat. She wants everyone to understand that she is representing the superpower on Falmart and is in charge. Her father taught her to always display power in front of others, otherwise they will see you as weak.
"I am sorry for the meal; this is the best we currently have right now,” Myui says as plates arrive. “Since most of the men were killed in the war, we don't have the manpower to probably harvest before the winter months arrive. Plus, we lost weeks from that bandit siege."
"Don't apologize, this meal is perfect. Don't feel like you have to spoil us," Sarah replies.
A line of waiters brings plats full of food. The portion of the plates looks like this hybrid of beef and ham. With it is the brown Kikrish fruit. And last, a bowl of soup with these strange looking plants inside it. However, the portions are small.
She looks at the plate, not impressed. She is used to the big meals at the capital. She was surprised that Sarah brushed off the small amount of food. She considers the size and low quality to be offensive however she keeps that opinion to herself.
To help break the uneasy silence, Willington looks to Myui. "Countess Myui, how long has your family lead Italica?"
Myui looks at him. "Well, the Formal Clan has ruled over the city since its foundation. The days before the Empire, my people were once refugees fleeing the elves from the west. This was the only place we could safely settle. Slowly it became a great trading city like it is today."
“Only because of the Empire,” she adds, not liking how Myui left out Sadera importance. Italica became a major trading town only because of the Falmart economy that Sadera created.
Myui glares at Pina but then continues telling her people story.
Sharpe looks at the meal. He takes a bit from the meat. The food tasted plain, nothing special. That is when he tats this strange unknown flavor. He looks at Johnson, "do you know what that taste is?"
Johnson looks at Sharpe, "I don't know sir. It is like this beef and pork combined. But that doesn't seem right."
"I know what you're saying," Sharpe replies, also trying to figure out the mystery flavor.
She notices the two talking quietly with each other. "Excuse me, is there a problem? If so, we been happy to resolve it. You are our guests after all."
Sharpe looks over, "No problem Princess, we were just trying to figure out what kind of meat it is."
"It has this flavor we never tasted before. It is close to beef but not exactly that. Do you add something to it while cooking or is it natural in the animal?" Johnson points out.
Pina is confused from that question. She glances down at her meal making sure they all have the same thing. She then looks to Myui to see the same reaction.
Myui has the same confused reaction as she does.
She looks back to the black soldier name Johnson. "I am sorry, but the meat is normal….," Right then she realizes something.
Since Pina first meant these people, she has been in complete shock by their advanced technology, desperately trying to understand them. These Americans seem so alien, she struggles to understand anything about them. Truth is, she is clueless about everything about them. However, based on that question and some other small things she has noticed, she realizes they might be stronger, but they are also just as clueless as she is. They know as little about Falmart as she knows about their world.
She notices everyone looking at her and now just realizing she didn't finish her sentence. "Oh, I am sorry, lost my thought. It is a normal animal we have here. Assuming if things go as plan tomorrow, we might be able to arrange some trade agreement around the boar."
"Maybe, I know Willington to be happy to discuss trade terms," Sharpe says. A little payback for getting dragged into this mission. That is when he feels a slight kick to his left.
That be Sarah implying to shut up and be nice.
"Maybe,” she says. “I do have another question. It has been bothering me for a while. What do you call those iron flying wagons of yours?"
"We call them Helicopters," Sarah answers.
"Helocopters…," she tries repeating. She gets frustrated that she couldn't say like Sarah did.
"Don't worry. It can take some time to pronounce right." Charles commit. "We are still struggling in pronouncing some words from your language."
Pina nods to what he says. "So, these helocopters are used to kill your enemies and move troops around?" She then asks. She has grown a fascination with the flying machine.
"Yes, for the military that is. We mainly use them for troop transport or logistical support. Only a few are heavily armed for combat," Sarah explains.
Willington leans forward and adds to the conversation. "However, they also have civilian roles. We use them for search and rescue, gathering news, cargo transportation, or VIP transport."
"So how can we get one?" Myui asks.
"That wouldn't be an option for a long time. They are not like horses, feeding them and letting them sleep. It takes a major amount of labor to maintain them." Willington responds and then thinks. "Maybe one day though."
Pina leans forward, looking at the ambassador. "You said search and rescue?"
"Yes. If one of our citizens go missing, we have government services that go out and find them. Either in the mountains, on sea or else ware." Willington says.
"You really put that much energy in finding one person?" Myui asks kind of surprised by that. Here, if someone goes missing, that is not the government problem. It is who the strongest rules.
"We try to. Sometimes life is just cruel, but we try," Willington says.
"It is the government sole responsibility to protect its people," Sharpe adds to what Willington just says.
"That brings me to another question. My maid said your people do not have a noble class?" Myui says. "How does your society run then? Wouldn't it be anarchy?"
"Not at all. Our country is a union of fifty-two States. They are like mini nations you can say. We are all bound to document called the Constitution. It creates a three-branch government that represents all fifty-one States. Basically, the document forms a federation that represents all our states," Sharpe says in a nutshell.
“Only a few nations on Earth still follow a feudal society,” Wellington adds. “That system proved to be a failed.”
What Sharpe and Willington said kind of confuses her. Parts of that sound like he was describing her Empire however not having nobles governing to country sounds alien to her. "The Empire has many different vassals. I guess you can say they are like your States."
"I wouldn't agree with that conclusion your highness," Willington interjects. "Our States and your vassals are not the same. All our States and the people who live in them are all equally protected under the law."
"How can you do that?" Pina asks.
"Like this," Sharpe continues. He pulls out a pen and looks for a piece of paper. One of the maids would give him on and he thanks her.
Sharpe then draws the American Federal System out, the three branches of government and the role they each play. Explaining how the system is designed to represent the people of American but to make sure the majority overrules the minority and in reverse. To prevent from one State from gathering too much power and override the others on the federal level.
He then draws out and explains the State level. Sarah jumps in at bits to help explain the purpose of the States and how it is a balancing effect between the two levels of government. How the people elect their rulers regularly and how it works.
The conversation goes far quicker than expected as Pina quickly picked up how their system works. To her surprise, it is extremely complicated but simple to understand. She did not need to hear everything to figure out their system is designed to prevent any form a dictatorship, like her father and his fathers.
Pina glances at Myui and guesses what she is thinking. A system like this could hugely empower her city. Not just her but all others to. Decentralization of power. However, though, the idea does seem to have many interesting ideas that could empower the Empire even further. The throne wouldn't have to worry about their vassals' rebellions all the time.
"I think that is enough. How our system of governing is not a state secret. If you have a deeper question, I will be happy to provide information and talk about it." Willington says, wanting to stop this topic. "Princess, while we are at your capital, I would like to learn more about how your system works. Our scholars would love to know how."
"Excuse me," Sharpe says, looking at the Princess. "What actually is the Empire?"
Pina looks at him knowing the answer. She was hoping to avoid giving any information about how her people operate.
"Well, we have a Senate like you, they create the laws and manage the everyday duties of the Empire,” she says, speaking very carefully. “The Senators are people who have many investment interests in the Empire. Either with trade, generals, nobles and many others. My father Molt Sol Augustus, the Emperor has total say over the Empire though."
"We guarantee the flow of trade between clans like Italica and provide security against monsters and demons," she finishes.
"Normally yes. If a war is called, vassals are called to join the Imperial Army. After the war, the spoils come back to each of the kingdom and cities who joined in the war," Myui adds and then glances at Pina. "Most of the spoils usually go to the Empire as a tax."
"I think that is good for tonight," Willington says, declaring the conversation over. Throughout his career, he learned not to overdo the politics. "After the treaty is agreed to, I personally would like to learn more about your country."
She looks over to him, "I will be happy to provide any information I can. In return for more information on this subject."
Johnson puts down what he believes is a spork and leans forward. "I have a question, what is the name of the Empire? All I ever hear people from this world is Empire."
Everyone looks at Johnson and then at Pina and Myui.
"Actually, I have been wanting to know that myself. Your capital is called Sadera. Is your Empire calling the Sadera Empire?" Willington asks, interested in the answer.
She looks at the Americans, confused. The question did not make any sense at first until she realized something. They call themselves Americans, the name based on their country. She heard the same story from other warriors from their world. "No, honestly we never thought about it. Our nation is called the Empire because it rules over all of Falmart."
Willington picked that last part up but decides not to disagree with her, "Interesting."
That uneasiness from before seems to have returned after that. It is clear how different the values each other people have.
After a little time has passed, she speaks again. "So Major Sharpe, I assume you are a great warrior from your world. Do you have any glories stories?"
Everything looks to him, wondering what he is going to say. Sharpe thinks about it for a bit and then smiles, "I think I have a good one."
Two large mugs clash together. There are singing, dancing and a lot of cheerful spirit in the atmosphere. While the Ranger officers are off on this formal high-class dinner, the rest of the team decided to spend the night at the local tavern.
When the word that the same people who saved the city from the bandits are back and that they were at the local tavern. It did not take them long to come to see them. One by one more and more people arrive to say thanks and ask questions. At some point a large party happened, everyone, celebrating for the sake of celebrating.
Lelei sits there watching the chaotic celebration as the townsfolk treat the Rangers as heroes. She didn’t realize how famous Vanguard-7 has become.
"This was a great idea Sergeant Major." Says Alicia, taking a drink from a mug.
"Shut up!" Randy says. He is currently in the middle of an arm-wrestling match with this Leonoid. Currently, this is the fifth round, and they are tied.
Unlike the Nekos who are considered one of the weakest Command and Beast races, Leonoids are bigger, stronger, however not as smart and creative. They are seen more as muscle.
There are people around them both, some are Rangers, and the others are local villagers, all cheering for one of them. While Randy is strong for a human, this Leonoid has the advantage.
Andrew and Frost are at some table flirting with some local girls.
Scott has been talking to someone that looks like he was once a soldier. They are probably telling war stories.
Surprising, a maid name Persia came along. She said that she is their personal escort while they are in Italica. Curiosity she has been around Scott since they arrived at the tavern, listening.
Lelei is sitting at a table, watching everyone. Alicia walks over, "come on sweetheart. Enjoy the hero's party."
Lelei has never been called a hero before. She remember seeing paintings of powerful mages at the Magic Academy however she never thought she would be among them.
"I shouldn't drink. Your people have rules against underage drinking," she says, watching some people making food of themselves. Truth is, she never enjoyed the taste of alcohol.
"Well… yeah. But we are not in our world. Besides, you helped in the battle. This is also for you." Alicia says, already a little buzzed.
"I am sorry, but I am not a fan of the taste of alcohol," she says, looking back at her.
"Oh, I hate this stuff. That is not the point sweetheart," Alicia stands up and grabs Lelei's arm. "Come on, let's have fun."
That is when the team medic Jerry walks over and grabs Alicia's arm, "Let her go, Alicia. If she doesn't want to join in, she doesn't have to."
"Ahh come on," Alicia says, annoyed.
"Go play over there. I think there's a cute guy over there," Jerry says, pointing in some random direction.
That got Alicia's attention. She then looks over to come directly and walks off.
Jerry looks over to her. "Sorry Lelei. They shouldn't have forced you to come along."
She finds Alicia a interesting character. She is surprised that she been able to keep up with the male soldiers with ease. Everything about her baffles her, Alicia being a lot like Rory.
She shakes her head, "no, it is fine. It is interesting watching you people like this."
Jerry smirks, "yeah. This line of work can get stressful. Sometimes it is good to just let yourself relax." He then sits down at the table.
She sits back down and looks to him. "Why are you not drinking with them?"
"I can't. I cannot stand the taste of beer. It is not my thing." Jerry replies, watching Randy get beat at arm wrestling.
"So why did you come then?" she asks him.
Jerry looks over to her. "Because we are a team. Being part of one sometimes mean you do things others want to do. Even if you don't want to."
She found that response fascinating. Up to this point she didn’t think that she was part of a team. Not that she felt as an outsider, just the thought never occurred to her.
"I see," she says and then takes a drink of tea. "Don't you think the Major is going to get angry at you all?"
"Him no,” Jerry replies. “He probably will get annoyed that everyone hungover but that's all. As long as he don’t hurt anyone or break anything I think he has other things on his mind. Personally, I think he is far more layback behind his personality.”
She nods and then thinks, "Sergeant."
"Just Jerry when we're off duty. Please," Jerry corrects.
"Jerry. Why did you become a healer?" she asks.
"Well, my dad is a doctor. I learned a lot from him. But I did not want to live that lifestyle. In an office every day, the same thing every day. I wanted to do something good and more," Jerry answers, trying to put his thoughts into words. "I can't really explain it. I felt like I needed to do this. Go around where I am needed and heal people."
"That is very noble of you," she says to him, smiling. “Many mages make claims like that, but many end up greedy for status and wealth.”
"Thank you,” Jerry says. “My old man hated it when I enlisted. He felt like I was a waste of skillset."
"Well, if he was here now, I bet he would be proud of you," she says.
"I doubt it. He is pretty thick-headed," Jerry replies.
"No, ever since our people met, you always took care of everyone. The refugees, you make sure everyone was healthy. In the Elias Forest, taking care of your people. Even the elves. You have done good work here in staying true to your purpose," she points out.
Jerry sits on what she said, thinking. "Thanks, Lelei. That means a lot."
And both heard this loud crash as someone gets tossed onto a table. It seems like everyone has too much fun.
--- Outpost ---
June 12th, 2025
The formal dinner at the palace has ended. Sharpe left with his two other officers, Johnson and Sarah. The Ambassador asked if he wanted to stay but he declined, stating that he had enough high-class culture for one evening.
When they got to the Italica Diplomatic Outpost, the Marine guards let them in the building.
"Well…, that was entertaining,” Johnson says. “First time going to one, hoping it is the last."
"Why are both of you being so negative about the whole thing," Sarah says, taking off her Peak Cap.
He looks to her, taking off his, "what are you talking about? You were bored half of the night. I could tell."
"Not the point," Sarah states.
"Still, Major that was an interesting story. I don't believe half of it." Johnson says chuckling at the memory.
"Classified man,” Sharpe says in a sarcastic tone. “I can't confirm or deny any of it."
"And what about the part with the Yetis helping out the insurgents?" Sarah says, looking at him.
He just laughs and thinks about his response. "Well, I might have exaggerated some of the details." He places his arm around his back. "To spice some things up."
Johnson laughs at that. "Alright, it is late. I'm clocking out."
Sarah looks to him. "Already?" She says with a yawn.
"Yeah… were not hourly remember," Johnson points out. He gives half heart salute to both and heads to his guest quarters.
"Well, he has a point. Long drive tomorrow," he says. "Night."
While everyone is out doing their own business, Selina is at the American diplomatic outpost, trying to get some sleep. Rory is in her bed snoring incredibly loud. She has never seen a girl snore so loudly before. She is louder than Sharpe and Randy.
She sits up from her bed and feels her head. "Mmm…."
For some reason she is feeling hotter then usual. She places her hand on her head and notice she feels warmer than usual, she looks over to Rory. "Rory…," she says softly. She looks over and notices Rory still snoring.
With a second thought, Selina decides Rory probably isn't the best person to ask questions. She looks around to see if Lelei came back yet, which she finds out that Lelei hasn't.
Selina moves over to the side of the bed and sits up. She feels this wetness in the bed and on her legs. She moves the covers and sees blood between her legs. Before her mother died, her mother told her the day a girl becomes a woman is when she begins to bleed.
"Why now…," she asks herself softly. She looks back over to Rory. "Rory…."
Rory rolls over, still asleep. Apparently, when Rory falls sleep, she sleeps like a rock. Which is odd for an Apostle because they need little sleep.
As she sits there trying to figure out what to do next, wishes Lelei is there. "Sharpe…, maybe he is backed by now. Well no, I don't want to be a bother." She mumbles as she holds back tears.
After a short mental debate, she gets up and peaks out the door. Noticing one of the staff walking by, she hides in her room until he walks away. After feeling safe that the hallway is clear, she walks outside.
Selina looks around trying to remember where Sharpe's room is at. Deciding on the door down the hall, believing that room he was assigned, she walks down there slowly. She tries to talk carefully not to make a sound or mess. She feels ashamed and embarrassed, not knowing what to do.
Once she arrives, she raises her fist to the door, about to knock. She hesitates, self-doubting herself. "Please…." She takes a deep breath and knocks on the door.
Nothing happens after the knock, so she knocks again, this time a bit louder.
As nothing happens again, she begins to think that she knock on the wrong door or he is not back yet. Feeling more alone than usual, she looks around trying to figure out what to do next.
That's when the door opens. "Hold on…."
Sharpe opens the door, yawning. He stands there shirtless "Oh, hi Selina. What is wrong?"
She looks up at him, feeling more embarrassed. She sees some scares over his chest. She tries to speak but bottles up.
As he wakes up, he begins realizing something is not right.
"Can… can I come in sir?" Selina asks embarrassed and nervous voice.
Concerned, Sharpe allows her to come into the room.
After closing the door, he looks to her. "What is wrong kid? Is everything ok?"
Selina refuses to look at him. "I'm…, I'm…," Unable to say what she needs to say; her hands fold together. She then shows him her hand, with blood on it.
Sharpe looks, confused and concerned. "Did you cut… oh… oh!" Seeing her hands, he finally realizes the situation. He takes a deep breath. "Ok, everything fine.”
He walks straight to the bathroom and wets one of the clothes. He comes back and starts washing Selina hands. “Ok. Everything will be ok. Ahh…, stay right here."
She watches Sharpe leave. She looks around in the semi dark room, the only light coming from that ceiling from one of the Americans light bulbs. She stands there alone, cold, and confused on what to do.
That is when she hears Sharpe and Sarah walk inside.
“I only got forty minutes of sleep sir,” Sarah says. “What can be so important….” She says and she stops and looks at Selina, quickly figure out the situation. “Oh.”
“Yeah,” Sharpe says. “I have no idea what to do.”
“I am sorry,” she says.
Sarah walks up, “don’t be sweetheart.” She then takes Selina hand. “Come on. I will wash you up and we can talk.” She then points at Sharpe. “New clothes, cloths and go grab my bag with my tampons. After that wait outside until I call.”
“What are those?” She asks. As she speaks, Sharpe leaves the room.
“I will explain in a minute,” Sarah replies. “We will have a girl talk. Just like my mom did with me and my sister.”
--- Hour Later ---
About an hour later, everything calms down. Sharpe is sitting on his bed. Selina is laying down on the bed with him, her head on his lap fasts asleep.
He lets her lay there, letting her feel comfortable. He then looks over to Sarah, she is sitting in a chair, drinking some water, "Thanks for the assist."
"No problem. Too bad, it had to be now. No bathroom in here." Sarah says. The restroom facility is outside. The Diplomatic staff had to install some within the compound.
"I don't understand why she didn't go to you," he asks.
Sarah smiles and shakes her head. "God, you can be thick sometimes."
"Excuse me?" he asks and then think. "Actually, you have a point."
"Look, you're her knight in shining armor right now," Sarah saying her usual sweet empathic tone. "Right now, you're the world to her, we all can see it. You did save her from a life from becoming a sex slave for some pervert(2). You need to accept that when you broke regulations and intervened, you accepted some form of responsibility for her."
He knew that but haven’t put much thought behind it. The Army teaches not to get to attached to locals however he always struggled with that. So far Selina has been a wild card for him, trying to figure out what to do with the girl.
"I know,” he replies. “I have been selfish though."
Sarah has a confused look on her face, not understanding what he means, "what do you mean."
He thinks carefully and leans his head back. "Honestly, I been using her as an anchor. When I was assigned to your team I was in bad shape."
Sarah nods her head, agreeing with that fact.
"I have been using her to keep myself grounded,” he says. “To remind me that there still a purpose in life. That life has value, and that good thing can come from bad situations. I don't know how to probably say it."
Sarah thinks about that, wondering what on earth happens with him. "Can I ask you something. Why did you enlist in the first place?"
Sharpe gives a tired chuckle. "It is actually quite simple. Patriotic reasons. Very principle. Like a poster child. An Army recruiter from West Point discovered me and help me get in. I later learned it was Major Harper, my future CO and mentor."
"No, I mean it. Why did you enlist? You work really hard, you clearly went far in your career," Sarah asks. “You had to decide to join for all that matters.”
"I mean it. All my life all I wanted to be in the Army. Serving country and all that," he responds and then thinks. "I thought I could make a difference, make things different. Stop the bad guys. But then I realized no matter how hard I tried; I actually was making things worse for people."
"Come on, you need to give yourself more credit. The world doesn't work like that," Sarah says, trying to understand his meaning.
"Nope, you can't understand," he says and then pauses, not liking where the conversation is going. "Anyway, I enlisted for all that."
"What about now?" Sarah asks, seeing the hint not to dig any deeper.
"That none of that principle patriotic things matter if you don't have something to care about," he says and then thinks about what he just says. Like it was a realization of something.
Sarah smiles, "I don’t believe that you believe all that doom and gloom. Get off the GI Joe hill and enjoy the moment. You want to help people, be yourself."
He looks at him and nods, thinking it over. "What about you?"
Sarah looks surprised. "Me? Damn. Nothing exciting."
"Bull," he says chuckling.
Sarah giggles slightly and takes a drink from her bottled water, "Well, my dad did his twenty in the Army. So was his father and his father and so on. But he only had daughters and my sister had no interest in Army life, so I decided to continue the family tradition. Plus, I wanted to have some adventure, do something with my twenties before adopting a family life."
"So, you became an officer?" he asks.
"I was a four-point zero student. West Point was interested in me as one of my high school teachers served during the War on Terror. He helped me get a sponsorship into West Point," Sarah explains.
"That makes sense," he comments.
Sarah nods, agreeing. "Honestly, I didn't think I was going to enjoy the military life. Never intended Special Forces, was just going to do my time and get out. I ended up liking it more than I thought and wanted to see how far I could go."
He thinks. "Look…." He stops his sentence when he notices Selina moves a bit. Realizing she is still sleeping he continues. "Look, I didn't get a good chance to say it before. Thanks for the help at the Elias Fort."
Sarah knows what he is talking about. She went around normal channels and redirected an AC-130 gunship from a training mission to assist him(3). "It's no biggie. It is my job to assist you from base."
He raises his hand. "No, most wouldn't go that extra mile. I really do appreciate it."
Sarah smiles and nods, finishing off her water, "Thank you. Sometimes I don't fully feel like part of the team, being back at base all the time."
"Well, none of us feel like that. It is good knowing we have someone we can trust," he says.
Sarah gets up, happy about being appreciated. She then looks back to Selina. "So, do you know her story yet?"
He looks down at Selina. "Not really. I haven't been wanting to push the topic. Dead family and then was enslaved. Not something I want to force her to think about. She probably was intended as a gift for someone, being her age." He pauses for a moment thinking. "I am pretty sure she is some daughter noble."
"You think?" Sarah asks, thinking about it too.
"I believe so,” he says. “It is just a guess but how she talks, walks, how she asks questions. All that and more just adds up. Most people accept things, she doesn't."
Sarah was about to protest what he said but after some thought, she nods her head in agreement. "Yeah, maybe. I did notice she was pretty stressed out just coming here and seeing the Princess. Are you taking her to the capital then?"
Sharpe shakes his head, "She is staying here, especially after this."
"Do you want me to stay with her?" Sarah asks.
"Personally yes, but I need you with us,” he says. “The treaty is bigger than this and I cannot split the team just because of personal reasons. I am going to keep Lelei and Rory here. The three have become pretty close friends so at least one of them will stay."
Sarah agrees with him after hearing all that. She did notice both Lelei and Rory having no interest in dealing with the Empire. Going to the capital for a diplomatic mission probably isn't what they consider fun.
"Rory and Johnson did have a point earlier. We do rely on them a little too much. If they are going to be peace, it has to be us and not them. No third party," Sarah points out.
"I was thinking the same thing," he replies.
"Well, it is going to be morning soon. Need to get my beauty sleep." Sarah says as she gets up. "See you in the morning."
Sharpe raises his bottle of water, a sign saying goodbye.
As Sarah gets to the door, she stops and looks at the two of them. She giggles at the sight of them both.
"What is it?" he asks.
"Have you thought about just adopting her?" Asks Sarah.
"Wait what?" he says, surprised by that. He then looks down at Selina and then back at Sarah.
Sarah rolls her eyes. "I know you thought about it. I saw you looking up the adopting process."
Sarah can see him trying to find a way to justify that. "You two are cute. I can't think of anyone better."
Before he could say anything, Sarah says night and then leaves the room.
Alnus Map: https://www.wattpad.com/846518959-gate-wotw-pictures-alnus-regional-map
Elies Map: https://www.wattpad.com/887963010-gate-wotw-pictures-the-greater-elies-regional-map