Thort was already sitting in the canteen. Amelie was walking around in the kitchen. I went to the counter and asked her if I should bring something to the table. She put the coffee pot and a bowl of oatmeal.
“I bring the rest,” she said softly. At breakfast we were all quiet Amelie ate slowly and somehow without appetite. She wasn’t very talkative today. I talked to Thort about him practicing “Old Bethan” today.
"We should all be able to shoot with any weapon. But I think everyone should have a main weapon. And since "Old Bethan" has quite a strong recoil, it should be led by a strong shooter".
When I said that, I looked at Amelie a little strict. She dodged my gaze and lowered her eyes.
I offered Amelie my help in clearing, but she refused. I went to the bedroom with Thort and got "Old Bethan" I said to Thort
"Watch out well for the old lady, she needs a lot of care. She’s heard my grandfather.’
“A family heirloom, I’ll take good care of them. You can rely on it Hell.” We went to the armory and got ammunition.
Amelie met us in the hallway. I told her
“Please get your gun and then please come to the shooting range. I’ve been going with Thort before.”
She just nodded and walked by. Somehow, I didn’t like her today. We got ammunition; we had found boxes of bird-dust ammunition, so I was able to provide Thort with several cartridges to practice. I was still looking for an empty canister to serve as a target, as a wooden box of “Old Bethan” would be dismantled with a few shots. Amelie also arrived and I asked her to watch as I loaded the gun and then unloaded again.
Then I pressed the gun into Thort’s hand and asked him to load the weapon. Finished on my instruction, he loaded the pumpgun. After two or three shots, the canister flew high into the air.
Thort laughed, "Hey, this is the right baby for me, the old sweetheart seems to get along well with me."
I looked around for Amelie, who was sitting on a wooden box in the back. She had her hands in her lap and played nervously with her fingers. She looked down. Obviously, she seemed to be depressing something or she was chewing on something and didn’t know how to swallow it.
"I think we both have to talk," I said to her. I told Thort that I was leaving the shooting scene with Amelie. He nodded and laughed
"I’ve had enough work with her and petted “Old Bethan.”
I asked Amelie to follow me down the aisle.
“What about you?” I asked her, “you’re quieter than usual all morning. You are depressed by something and do not say no, because I feel that something is weighing on you."
She pressed around a little bit and then said quietly.
“I’m scared of shooting, I’m afraid of doing something wrong again and being scolded again. You’ve been swearing a lot with me lately."
"OK. I can understand," I told her.
I had an idea, she needed a change and above all a successful experience and I thought she lacked a good dose of sunlight, because we had been hanging in the bunker for 8 days without ever seeing sunlight. Our clocks alone gave us the rhythm of the day and night. The mood also became more irritated and Amelie’s inability was the lightning rod. When I scolded her, I always tried to stay on the matter-of-fact level. But she has now been receiving a regular package for a few days now.
Yesterday’s incident was also very violent and could not have passed without a trace. I looked her in the eye and said to her
“You and I, we’re doing a deal now.”
She looked at me with a smile.
“Today you don’t shoot, we both go on a trip.”
"Hääh," she says, asking.
"We both go out of the bunker, come with me to the bedroom, then I’ll explain everything to you.”
We went to the bedroom and I spread my card. Then I showed her.
"Here we are, we go down the street to this house."
It was a house that stood about three houses further by the sea.
“We’ll go in there a little bit in the sun and sniff fresh sea air.”
"Do you really want to do this with me?" she asked, stunned.
'But I don’t know if I can.”
"You will be able to do it. I am with you; I will cover and protect you. You absolutely have to do two things when I tell you."
She looked questioning
"First, when I say run to the bunker, then you run as fast as you can into the bunker. You don’t look left or right, you run into the bunker and when it’s going to shoot away what gets in your way. Don’t pay attention to me.
Secondly, when we are separated, you go to the house where you are and go upstairs. Don’t make a firefight but wait for Thort and I to get you out of there. Will you be able to do that?”
She nodded with big eyes.
"Can I have the hunting rifle?" she asked.
"OK," I said, pushing the gun and some cartridges into her hand.
"Can you deal with it or should I show it to you?"
"My Grand pere (French Grandfather) had one. This is a repetition rifle Grand pere showed me how to shoot with it.
"Good," I said, "then show me that you can load them." She loaded the gun as if she had never done anything else." Loading and unlocking” I said and went to side.
She pressed the loading lever, cocked the hammer and unsecured the weapon.
“Very good,” I said in amazement, "you did that well. Now they’re unloading again.’
That, too, she made safe. I wondered why she couldn’t get it with the gun.
"Well, put on your helmet now."
"Excited," I asked her as I unpacked a chocolate bar.
I handed it to her and said
"Eat, a piece of chocolate!" She smiled and took the piece out of my hand, caressing my fingers over my hand.
I informed Thort and told him to wait at the bunker door in about an hour. At the bunker door I heard that she was breathing deeply.
"Well, heart palpitations?" I asked her, then I said, "OK, gun out, load and unlock."
She did. Then I asked her
“May I touch you?"
"Yes, why are you asking."
“First, it’s a matter of courtesy, and secondly, so that you don’t feel groped.”
“You’ve never groped me.”
“No, you’re right, but can I?”
I carefully pulled her index finger from the trigger of her Klaucke. Then I put it outstretched out on the trigger bar.
“So, you must hold the gun while you’re running, then you don’t run danger unintentionally. When you get into a fight, you’re quickly back on the trigger.”
She nodded. I told her that I would walk to the gatehouse first. If I had looked around and waved to her, she should run to me as quickly as she could. I unwrapped another piece of chocolate and gave it to her.
"Smiling, she took it again by caressing my hand.
"Ready!" I said
"Hmmmmm," came from her, as she was still chewing on the chocolate.
Then I gently opened the door, watching the terrain. The air was clean, and I ran off to the gatehouse. I looked around and waved to her.
She came sprinted. I explained to her the next step.
"I walk to the gate, open it and walk over to the house opposite. I go to the porch and when I wave, you come to me. Run as fast as you can."
She nodded, then I ran off. I opened the gate, looked right, and left down the street and ran to the house. I saw no enemies and waved to her. She came fast and turned like a cat ran. When she arrived on the porch, I told her
"You made up for that."
She smiled all over her face.
"The next stage. Do you see the yellow house there diagonally opposite?"
"Yes," she says.
"Take your binoculars and say what you see.
"I see the porch and the door is just leaning."
“That’s good, do you see any enemies?”
"No," she replied.
"Well, then run off to the house, when you get there, look around to see if you see any robots and then wave to me."
She looked at me a little frightened. I smiled at her and said
"Come on, run, you can do it."
She ran fast and quiet, at the crossroads she looked around and quickly ran on to the porch of the house. Through the binoculars I could see that she looked around and finally waved to me. I also ran off, looked carefully into the intersection. At the end of the road I could see a runner, but it was too far away to notice us. I kept walking up to the porch. We could already see the sea as we carefully lurked over the veranda. Then I told her
“The adjacent red house, that’s where we want to go. Run fast and wink me.”
I gave her a little pat on the helmet and said, “Let’s go!”
She flew off and quickly reached the house. She waved at me and I came after me.
We ducked into the house and reached the kitchen first. I opened the fridge and looked inside. A glass of Nutella, a loaf of toast bread, two apples and a can of fish. For all the things, the expiry date hadn’t expired yet, so I put them in. At the sight of the Nutella glass, Amelie licked her lips smiling. I also gave her one of the apples.
"We have to take everything we need with us."
We carefully sneaked up the stairs and looked around. There wasn’t much except a little bandage and plaster. The house had a balcony facing the sea. I carefully opened the door and peered over the railing. I couldn’t see any enemies. Then I straightened up carefully and saw myself around only seagulls, water and sun, no robots. I sat down with my back to the wall on the floor.
Amelie also came out in a ducked posture and sat down next to me. She held her face in the sun and smiled blissfully. I inhaled the sea air deeply. It tasted salty and excellently fresh. I could hear the surf and the screaming of the gulls.
"Is that nice!" said Amelie
"You did a great job," I told her.
"Really, quite honestly?"
"Yes, I said everything flawlessly." She beamed all over her face.
"Why are you afraid of me? I thought we had sorted everything out yesterday?" I asked her.
‘You both threatened me with beatings yesterday and I’m afraid you’re both losing control and really beating me up. I’ve known Thort for a long time and I don’t think he would, but I wouldn’t put my hand on the fire for it. I know you too little, you don’t talk much, only if you teach us something but talk about yourself you speak little, you are so closed. I can’t assess you. At least I don’t.’
"Oh, that way," I replied.
“I’m sorry I lost control, but there’s still a long way to go between saying and doing. I’ve never beaten a woman. And I think Thort is a rough journeyman, but he wouldn’t beat a woman either.I would know how to prevent that.”
“Yes, I don’t actually think you would do it, but I’ve been beaten a lot in my past,” she said.
"Who beat you and why?" I asked.
I took out my apple and the pocketknife while she gave me an answer and peeled the apple, I had found downstairs.
“My Maman (French: Mother) is very dominant. When I had bad grades at school there were always beatings from my mother. Even if I was too stupid, I got punches. That’s why I’m afraid to do something wrong. It has slowed down a bit since I got older. I wanted to escape from my mother with my studies. She always told me what to do. Amelie go here, Amelie do there, Amelie do there, and do it immediately and if Amelie didn’t sprint there were blows. At home, I couldn’t take a step that wasn’t monitored by my mother. Sweden was the only way to get away from home and now everything is broken.”
As she spoke, her voice became sharper and higher. Her eyes filled with tears again.
“Hey, don’t cry again, please,” I said.
I held her a piece of apple, she took it again and stroked over my hand. She swallowed and fought with her tears.
'It’s bad that this happened to you and it’s good that we’re talking about it. You must face your fears, I can’t spare you that. But I can promise you that no one will beat you here. None of us will beat you up just because you made a mistake."
“But you’re always so strict,” she said
'That’s because you must deal with deadly weapons, and you have to be incredibly careful with these weapons, so you don’t hurt your comrades. Because things are vital to you, the whole process must sit. Seconds can decide life and death, you understand." She nodded and took the second apple piece I handed her.
“We talk here at eye level Amelie you on mine and I on yours. You don’t have to be afraid if you criticize something. You have to have full confidence in us, we have to trust each other, otherwise we don’t work as a team.”
"May I ask you what Helldiver?"
"Yes, just too," I said.
"Why do you call yourself Helldiver, you certainly have a real name?"
“Yes, I have, but you won’t know him. My name is Helldiver and I come from Ibboholmen. You and Thort don’t need to know more.”
"But why?" she asked
"I think there is a conspiracy going on or a military coup. I want to find out where my parents are and whether they are still alive. I want to find more survivors and organize a resistance. If the opportunity arises, I want to get you out of the country so that you can get home safely. I want to track down and hold accountable the people responsible for all this. I will take revenge for my friends. But this is my struggle, not yours. I must lead it all by myself. You could be captured. You will then be questioned, perhaps even tortured. It’s better not to know something. I’m protecting my family, friends and relatives.’
"Can I understand," she said, nodding.
I unwrapped another piece of chocolate and gave it to her she laughed and said
“You’ve been feeding me chocolate all morning and I’m round afterwards.”
“You’re still light years away from that.”
"I always have to pay attention to my weight, because I danced ballet until a year ago. My Maman put me in ballet school because she really wanted to."
'But you’ve got to eat a bit more because we don’t know when we’re out there when we’ll get the next meal. It can take days, that you’ve seen how fast it can go. You must have something to add. You will fit into your dress again at home. That’s why eat a spoon more than usual."
She smiled at me and asked
"Helldiver, may I touch you?"
“Yes, I don’t know what you’re going to do, but I just want to.”
She embraced my arm and pressed her face on my shoulder. She closed her eyes smiling happily and let the sunshine in her face. She quietly summed a melody. I enjoyed the light and the wind as well. After a while, I said
"We have to go back."
“It’s a pity,” said Amelie, but she made her way back without a reply.
We reached the bunker without any problems. Thort stood in the doorway and waited for us. He had "Old Bethan" in attack.
"That worked out well with the shootout, so I can really wipe out the tin cans"
"It worked out great for us. Amelie was great today." I high fived with her, she beamed properly.
Then she spread her arms and I hugged and pressed her, "Merci,(French: Thank you) Helldiver," she whispered in my ear.
"OK. we are all going to the classroom now. I still have to do something with you."
Both looked at me inquiringly. “In the classroom,” I said
“We clear the tables a little bit on the side I need space for the exercise we’re doing now.”
"What kind of exercise?" asked Thort.
“You’ll see that in a moment.” I stood in the middle of the room and said
"Thort, please stand here."
I gave him a place. Then I said
"Amelie, come to me in the middle!" Amelie did as I told her.
"May I touch you?" I asked her.
She agreed but wasn’t sure what would happen next. I blindfolded her with my scarf and said
“Don’t worry Amelie, that’s like blind cow what we’re doing now. Don’t be afraid”
I turned her around her axis twice, so she lost orientation and told her
"Let yourself fall backwards now. Don’t worry I promise you that nothing will happen to you.
She did it hesitantly and I caught her very quickly and straightened her again.
"Let yourself fall backwards again, please!"
She did it again and I dropped her a little further. When I caught her, She screamed "WAH." I carefully set her up again and turned her again, then I pointed to Thort.
He immediately understood what I wanted. I said to Amelie,
"Let yourself fall back again." She laughed a little insecurely and asked
“What’s the point?”
“You’ll see that right away,” I told her.
She dropped again, Thort caught her safely and put her back.
“Let yourself fall backwards again!” She did and didn’t scream when Thort let her fall a little further.
After he put her back on her feet, I took off her blindfold.
"What have you learned now?" I asked her. She frowned
"What am I supposed to have learned, you both caught me again and again after I dropped myself."
“And did you doubt that someone would’nt catch you. Did you think the bad guys are having fun seeing you backwise hit the ground?”
"No, I already thought that you, especially you, would not let me fall."
"You see, I said what do you call it, if you can rely unconditionally on your comrades? What do you call that when you know that someone catches you when you fall?"
I walked around and looked at everyone, Thort scratched his head embarrassedly and Amelie pulled her forehead in wrinkles, put her finger on her mouth and suddenly ripped it open.
“Haah, I know it trust, that’s trust!”
I went to her took her by both arms and told her, "Right Amelie, trust."
Then I turned her over to Thort and said while I held her left and right by the arm
“You can trust that Thort and I will always catch you. You don’t have to be afraid of someone beating you up or groping you here or suffering you. We both will catch you. Just as we will both catch Thort when he falls and you both will catch me. We have to trust each other, otherwise we can’t work as a team.”
Addressed to Thort, I said
"Thort, we both had a conversation by the sea where she told me that she feared both of us because we threatened her with beatings yesterday. We were quite angry, but we would never do that. I would like us to promise her here and on the spot that we will not hurt her and protect her. She can trust us unconditionally.
“Yes, of course, I’ve never slapped a woman and Amelie the poufs I’ve given you before, we were still children. I’d never beaten you up. I’m more likely to beat away those who do something to you.”
"And why did you take me for this exercise now?" she asked
“Well, you are the smallest and lightest person of the three of us. I think it would have been a problem if you had to catch Thort alone. I don’t think that would have gone well for both of you.”
Amelie chortled I also started to chortle and then we broke out into a roaring laughter. Thort said panting.
"If I had fallen for our little Amelie, she would have been flat as a pan cake."
Then Thort spread his mighty arms and walked towards Amelie
"Oh, come here little sugar doll, the old Thort will protect you and never do anything to you. Amelie beamed all over her face. She hugged me and said to me in the ear
"Thank you, Helldiver, thank you for doing this."
I disassembled the shotgun together with Thort and showed him how to clean it.The dinner tasted particularly good today and we had a relaxed atmosphere.
After the meal I put in the Deep Purple cassette and we danced all three exuberantly.
I instructed Amelie to use the hunting gun. She was very skilful and had a high strike rate, even when she shot free-handedly. Her face glowed when she came from the shooting range and was praised by me.
Amelie still seems to have her problems with the gun. She hits but takes too long and she keeps forgetting the safety lever.
Even when disaseing, she always has problems I kept wondering why she couldn’t do it. It was to despair.
Today I decided that we should risk the external action. We could no longer consider the problems with Amelie’s pistol. We had to move forward. If she found the safety lever, she could shoot and hit. I just hoped that this would be enough. I decided to take care of them.
Today I practiced with them "House jump." The houses were the rooms in the bunker, and I ran with them from room to room. We agreed hand signals. I agreed with them that we would retreat into the bunker if it got too tight.
We sat in the classroom and discussed the action. I provisionally drew the card to the whiteboard and explained how I imagined that we were reaching our destination.
Today I made an outdoor mission with Thort. We carefully advanced to the vicinity of the sports field and scouted it out. We chose a house as a base point. Then we retreated into the bunker.
Thort was visibly proud that he could travel alone with me.
I refined our plan again based on our findings, which I had found out with Thort in the field. I practiced with Amelie one last time. Then I decided that we would start a trial the next day.