“I’m leaving. I don’t want to cross the border.”
“Oh?” The commander inquired, raising his eyebrows. He was a young man, only a couple of years older than Celia, and handsome with his short blond hair and clear blue eyes. He was enjoying his new-found status. “You’re going to disobey orders. Really?”
“Yup,” the girl replied, smiling. Her lack of concern made commander Kirov bristle.
“Hey!” Kirov yelled indignantly, drawing his sword. “Stop right there! You’ll be killed for deserting!”
“And you’d kill me?” Celia asked. Kirov’s hands were shaking, and he lowered his weapon. “No,” he admitted, “but I can keep you here by force.”
Celia started laughing hysterically. “No you can’t.”
“I can’t!? What on earth makes you say that?”
In reply she held up a flaming hand. Kirov turned white. “You’re … you’re one of them…”
“Sorry,” Celia called apologetically, as he stumbled backwards, then ran. The rest of the team had gone on ahead; the border was just on the other side of this valley. She hoped for his sake that he wouldn’t tell them what he’d seen. It’s so easy to be labeled crazy by both your friends and your enemies in this miserable, godforsaken war.