White skies stretched out over the moving backs of the mountains. God's breath poured out into the valley in a tangle of breezes. First comforting, then stirring, then nearly knocking you to your knees. All would have been peaceful if it weren't for reality. The soft putter of the age old engine mixing with the sound of wrenches jostling for room inside an old tin toolbox gave a sense of apprehension which only was addressed by those assembled in passing, awkward glances.
Of the four of them, only one spoke, swearing feverishly beneath his breath like a retired sailor. If only he could get the wheel off a bit faster. The others expressed their concern in their own unique ways. Silo kept adjusting the tightness of his ball-cap, silently hating its faded camo design. If it weren't for his eagerness to impress the Legion, he would have tossed that hat long ago. None of them were too keen on the traditional brown and green, but then again it seemed so trivial at a time when the entire world burned both physically and metaphorically. Silo was definitely the most fidgety, he always had been, and as a result he had always been the cause of most of their patrol's distress.
"How much longer Brass?" he finally called from his position on a nearby stump. The young man working on the tire looked up briefly before returning a frustrated grunt.
"I don't know, Jesus, just give me a minute or two ok?"
The others tried to ignore the mild fear in their voices, as though it would somehow make their own anxiety go away. One of them, a stout man of Korean descent by the name of Colin, wandered the edge of the clearing with his hand placed reflexively on his rifle. Of all of them, he had by far the most experience. Having served a brief stint as a US Army reserve before the...invasion, Colin was one who constantly liked to think that everything could go back to normal in an instant, it just took enough effort.
Soren was unlike the other three though. A certain combination of youthful naivety and blind delirium blunted his sense of survival in a way that made most others think of him as being reckless. Nevertheless he was as dutiful as the others. In his first sixteen years he never suffered much, but since the coming of the giants he felt the horrible, disemboweling jab of loss. This was not unique to him however, although there were times when he thought it was.
While the wind continued to stir the fallen pine needles and the sound of cranking made the others shift uncomfortably in their positions, Soren just waited. It would be a while until he had a calm oppurtunity like this again, and he considered now as a good a time as any to write down what he had just seen. After all, time and fear would surely distort the memory.
So, quite casually, he set his M4 aside and began searching his pack for the notepad and pen he had kept. After a few idle seconds of searching, he withdrew both and turned to a blank crumpled page. Putting ink to paper he quietly began to write...
The most astounding things happen in this new life of mine. Although it is not as comfortable or as easy as my old life it is filled with many more rewards. Not all are tangible though, and I believe that my appreciation of them comes from the hardships I've faced. Ah, if only you could see it now. I am currently atop one of the highest mountains in the Cascades, looking out over the valley and it is so beautiful. It's almost hard to believe that a war rages on around me. You would be so proud of me now. I have joined the outgroup patrols of the Legion and they will no doubt promote me to a full-time operative soon. I would never have thought being a soldier would give me such purpose, but I have found a great deal of satisfaction in it.
The hours are long, sometimes hard, and sometimes very boring too, but every moment I have off I spend thinking about the good I have been doing. So far, as I've mentioned in previous letters, I've mostly been scouting with my troop. Silo, Colin, and Brass are good men and I consider myself very fortunate to work with them. Times can get heated, especially now, but in the end they are my brothers in arms. That actually brings me to the main point of this letter actually.
You see, at the moment, we are in a bit of a jam. This morning we were tasked with scouting the outer ridges for basecamp November when another squad radioed us in about some disturbances a few miles north. We went to check it out, expecting it to be more scavengers from the hills or possible another bandit caravan. It ended up being much worse. When we got there we found the wreckage of a small town, one that must have been destroyed ages ago. It didn't appear on any of our maps so we assumed we had veered far off our main course. It was then we noticed the earth had begun to shake.
I think you know where this is going, but oddly enough, the four of us were in complete denial at the time. One of the reasons our region has become so successful in relocation for human settlement is because so few giants find their way up here. As you are probably aware, most go for the larger urban areas down South. Needless to say we were absolutely terrified when the shaking grew stronger and stronger. Silo didn't even say anything, he just jumped into the Jeep and started it up. Colin fell back as though he was going to fight the damn thing while Brass and I just ran for cover.
In our confusion I don't think any of us really noticed when she came out from behind the mountain. That's right, a giant, a real live giant. She must have been fifty stories tall. None of us could bare to look at her though, purely out of fear. All I could tell out of the corner of my eye was that she had dark hair and a young face. This is where things get weird. Now, we have never really been trained for instances like that. Mostly only those troops down South get trained to actually fight these things so we were basically doomed. Our only real hope was stealth and...well we weren't very stealthy either. Between the yelling, the tripping, and all the chaotic scrambling I was certain she saw us. Sure enough, when I finally did poke my head out of cover I saw her staring right back at me.
I have never prayed so fervently Erin. Her eyes were cold, narrow, and confused. I don't reallly know how best to describe her because already my mind has blurred my concepts of reality and imagination. I just remember feeling suddenly awestruck. Silo, meanwhile, was certain we were about to die. Come to think of it, so was I, but something stopped her. Instead of drawing closer she just sort of stood there, staring at us. If anything she seemed sort of shocked. Colin almost started shooting at her but we managed to calm him down before he did anything too rash. Then, after what felt like hours, she just turned and started waking off, as though we weren't worth the trouble.
I can't say for certain what dissuaded her but when I get back to camp I'll be sure to tell Father Saul. Surely this was the intervention of some divine force. Whatever the case may be, with the giantess gone we high-tailed it out of there. I don't think I've ever gone so fast in all my life. But, with panic comes recklessness which in turn leads to disaster. Silo cut abruptly around a corner and blew a tire, so for now we are just trying to fix it and get the hell out of here. Last thing we need is a bloodthirsty giant changing their mind on us or a bunch of mountain-dwelling freaks cutting us down while we idle around the woods.
Anyway, I must go, night will fall soon and I believe my time grows short. I will write to you again soon, and as always you are in my prayers.
For you, My dear I remain your loving brother,
"Alright lets get a move on!" Brass suddenly roared. Soren looked up just as he finished touching up his writing. With two swift movements he tossed his belongings in his bag, swung his rifle over his shoulder, and joined the others. Colin gave him a slap on the shoulder as he took his seat in the back.
"Let's go, let's go. We ain't got all day. Unless want to stick around and see what that bitch might have in store for us!"
The door slammed behind him and the wheels peeled against the dirt road, carrying the four men back through the cluttered wilderness. Each led out a silent sigh of relief, expressing their joy with the usual lewd conflagration of spiteful jokes and irreverent humor. Soren remained silent for a while longer though, careful thinking of the words he had written before finally joining the others. As their jeep sped along the windy path, the sun made its hasty retreat behind the distant crests, lighting the sky with its gilding fires. Even as the winds died down and landscape made its preparations for night, not even one of them took a second to look out of their window for fear of what may look back at them through the darkness.