The Nexus Force soldiers had gathered fifty or sixty ill-kempt natives and huddled them together in the center of the village. They frowned at the soldiers from beneath shaggy reindeer hoods. The Colonel pointed to a man in the front, who was dressed slightly better than the rest of the villagers. Are you the chief? He asked.
I am he, lord. The man replied, bowing profoundly.
Have you seen any Nexus Force recently? The colonel continued.
No, my reverential lord, you are the first to visit my humble abode in many hunts. The chief bowed once more.
Are you certain that none have come to guard your bridge?
Yes my liege, He bowed again, I am certain. I do not know why any would take interest in our humble bridge.
You have a point there matey, The Colonel muttered to himself. But what of the stromlings? Have you been visited by any?
Not since the last mating of the reindeer my lord. He bowed twice more.
Very well. We want nothing from you. We will camp close by tonight, but you neednt fear, my soldiers will do you no harm.
The chief expressed his gratefulness by giving another, more exaggerated bow so low that a clump of snow powdered his eyebrows.
The Colonel issued orders to pitch camp on the other side of the river, TwoEdge joined him looking tremendously red in the face.
Are you feeling alright, Edge? The colonel asked, genuinely concerned not just because they were close friends, but also because it is the duty of any officer to take care of and take responsibility for their troops.
I think I burst some internal organs. TwoEdge grinned, barely keeping from laughter. You simply cant imagine how preposterous that village chieftain looked, bobbing up and down like a childs jack-in-the-box. And there you are, stoically conversing with him just as if he were looking at you all along instead of studying the snow for botanical specimens.
The Colonel smiled somberly. If they had been back at the base he mightve seen the humor, but as it was, he never felt at ease when on a mission without a clear objective. The troops were busy building igloos all across the impromptu camp. The colonel stepped to superintend the construction of his own impermanent igloo. He watched as Emarcee heaved a block onto the rapidly shaping dome. One of his builders stumbled with a block in hand. She was of medium build and unrecognized by a colonel who knew all of his soldiers. He moved to hold the block while she steadied herself, Thank you, she began, brushing back a loose strand of hair and avoiding eye contact. But I really was doing fine, I could have gotten it myself.
Equally you could have crashed my igloo, and we dont have that kind of time to waste. Now up, careful as she goes, a little to the left He instructed as he helped her lift the capping snow block onto the dome.