I slept restlessly and woke up again and again. Finally, I set off. Before that I made myself a cup of coffee and warmed my ready meal. My next destination would be the homestead Sandbo. There was an airplane hangar and the Vidsele 140 airfield nearby, and there was a robot base that I had to destroy. That meant the robots had to be destroyed and the airfield secured. When I left the bunker, I secured on all sides. Then I disappeared in the still raging snowstorm. The temperature had dropped to the bottomless, -20°C Celsius. The beard froze in my face. I pulled up my scarf.
I hope my weapons didn’t freeze. I had a long way to go and few places to hide. Since I was in the farmland, I often had to cross open terrain. The blizzard helped me. I braced myself against the wind and walked step by step. The only orientation possibility was my map and the possibility to put a marker in my helmet. I found myself in a White Out. All around me only white I could not see five meters far. Basically it was dangerous to march on. The next accommodation was 20 km away. So about 4 hours in this storm rather 6 and if I still had enemy contact even more.
Despite the suit heating I was freezing. But I went on, step by step. Now and then I crouched down and scouted the area with the infrared device. In a field, I met a pack of Hunters. I couldn’t see which ones they were. I dug myself into a snowdrift, so that only the barrel of my rifle was visible. When I fired at them they ran around aimlessly. I sent one of them a hacking pulse and they started shooting at each other. I shot each of them with a few shots from the G3 at first, then I erased them one by one. I collected the ammunition from the still smoking wrecks and warmed up at one of the burning hunters.
In the afternoon I noticed that I was getting tired. I could hardly keep my eyes open. I took another Ritalin tablet when I found a sheltered spot between some boulders. The Ritalin couldn’t be more dangerous than falling asleep in the cold. Towards evening the storm eased a bit, but it snowed heavily. The snowflakes whipped into my face despite the helmet visor and the scarf. Completely pumped out I reached Sandbo.
I locked the front door behind me. Secured the house and when I had convinced myself that there were no uninvited visitors I went upstairs. I opened my esbit cooker and prepared a hot broth and a ready meal. With my cold, clammy fingers I could hardly open the ready meal. In the fireplace of the house I lit a few logs to warm myself. When I’d finished my meal I dug out a can of beer. It was freezing cold but luckily not frozen. I put it by the fire for a moment to warm it up a bit. Then I drank it greedily. I fell asleep on the couch, sitting down. The loaded Klauke in my hand. Although I was very exhausted, I fell into a restless sleep.
We walked down a bunker hallway. It looked like the Uttern Bunker, which I had fought mostly free yesterday. Amelie was running behind me, her AK5 at the ready. At a bend in the corridor I looked around the corner and gave Amelie signs to stay behind me. I jumped forward and fired at the runners lurking behind the bend. I destroyed them one by one.
Amelie jumped out of her cover and fired along. She fired at the ticks that came running between the runners. She retreated to reload, good girl well learned, I thought. When the last runner exploded, we moved forward carefully. In the dark passage we could hardly see anything. Suddenly the scream of a hunter sounded, and a bullets sheaf from the back of the corridor comes. Pieces of plaster and ricochets howled around our ears. We both fired and could see the approaching Hunter.
Suddenly Amelie fell backwards and made a noise that sounded like "UGHH". I had just shot the machine gun away from the Hunter. Amelie dropped her gun and slid down the wall with a startled
look on her face. She made gurgling noises that sounded like "ARGH" and I caught her and pulled her into my arms. She looked at me sadly and stroked my face with one hand. She made "AHH" and then she said softly and pressed "Helldiver I am so cold!" then she gave a deep sigh, her hand stroking my face, fell down powerless and her head fell backwards. Her eyes stared broken at the ceiling.
“No,” I said in a trembling voice, "No, no; no, AMELIE, no AMELIE. I ripped my Klaucke out of my holster and fired wildly "YOUR PIGS; YOUR MURDERER; I’ll KILL YOU ALL!
I fell to my knees chunks of plaster and ricochets were howling around my ears. I woke up, the still smoking Klaucke in my hand, trembling all over my body, bathed in sweat, my heart was racing. The blood was pounding in my head, so the scar on my head hurt. My breath fluttered and the shivering was not from the cold, because the room felt warm.
I had had another one of those brutal nightmares. It had been so real that I had felt Amelie’s hand on my face. The opposite wall was littered with bullet holes. I reloaded the Klaucke with trembling fingers. I sat down on the couch again and buried my face in my sweaty hands. The dream reverberated for a long time. It took me a long time to calm down. I looked at her picture what I had from the photographer, how beautiful she looked, like an angel. What had I done to this delicate woman. I felt deep shame. How I’d like to be in a warm bed with her in my arms now. I had to swallow several times and struggle to get my composure back. “Amelie, forgive me,” I said, trying to go back to sleep.
She woke up in the morning. She had slept restlessly and had woken up again and again. The storm roared and howled around the building Jim walked up and down again and again with his AK 5 in his hand. A cup of coffee was steaming on an Esbit stove. Beside her, Akiko sat next to her, just like her on a piece of cardboard with her backpack in her back. She had snuggled up to Amelie. So they didn’t freeze so miserably. Amelie became aware of what Helldiver had been through. He was all alone out there, hopefully he had found shelter too. The cold was murder. Jim had noticed that Amelie was awake. “Well, good morning, would you like some coffee. I’ll make some more.” Jim bent down and gave her the cup. Akiko was still asleep. Amelie moved cautiously so as not to wake her. She warmed her numb hands on the hot cup and sipped gently. He warmed her a little from the inside.
Slowly, Akiko woke up, too. Jim made her a cup of coffee, too. Amelie got up and walked a few steps, then she lit a cigarette. Slowly, her stiff limbs became supple again. While walking around, her circulation started to pick up again. She ate a sandwich. Helldiver had always urged her to eat something. “You eat like a little bird,” he had always said. “You must have something to add out here. You don’t know when you’re gonna get something next time.” How right he was. She thought of him again, how he was doing now. In this brutal cold and storm.
They conferred. Jim brooded over the map of where to go next time. He was here yesterday at 115 Beredskappsförrad. He must have blown it up. If I’m not mistaken. Then he’ll attack Törsberga Fort. Here the army could form a bridgehead to get further into the country. The fort could serve as a base because it had a small harbor. Otherwise in a straight line Boo Bruk would be a small industrial plant. The Uttern Bunker could serve Helldiver as a base. Because then Muskudden and Norrmyra artillery barracks would be within striking distance. If I were him, I would take Törsberga Fort, conquer the Uttern bunker and then attack Muskudden or Norrmyra. These are some strategically important targets. Muskudden and Törsberga are gateways.
Near Muskudden there is a big gas factory, this could also be a possible target for Helldiver. So if you ask me girls, I would go to the Minken Bunker and then watch the whole thing attentively. If he attacks Törsberga, then there will be a similarly big blast as at the gas factory in Östervik. Amelie said, "Jim, you have the most experience of all of us in what you say sounds plausible. I also think that when we are at the Minken bunker and he is going to blow up Törsberga, then we will know it and if he survives that, then we will be on his heels and then it can only be the Uttern bunker.
Knowing him as I do, he thinks everything through very carefully and he has always looked for a place to retreat before doing anything dangerous." "Amelie, you know him better than we. “But I think that’s exactly what he’ll do. So let’s go to the Minken Bunker, shall we?” Akiko and Amelie agreed.
They were getting ready to leave. Amelie knew the route somewhat because they had been to the Minken Bunker before. They started by walking along the road to Saltholmen. They could hardly see their hands in front of their eyes in the storm. The wind was murderous. Amelie pulled her scarf over her face and put on her sunglasses. The ice crystals were whipping in her face. Amelie thought of Helldiver again. He would be out there alone in this storm somewhere. Her heart seized up. She had Jim and Akiko, but he was alone. “Take care of yourself, cherie,” she thought. She had her AK-5 in her hands, ready to fire, and looked around intently. All around her was white, if she hadn’t had the street, she wouldn’t have known where to go. She could see maybe five meters away. After an hour they had passed the church of Saltholmen. Amelie knew that this road would lead to Överbysläten. It would lead past Salthamm’s standby camp and then turn left to Asö. The riot camp was in front of them and the snow had spread a white cloth over the bodies lying here in the meadow. In spring you would only find bones here.
Amelie had the painful memory of Thort’s death when they got into a firefight with some hunters here. They took a short rest. They looked like snowmen. Jim asked them to fire a few shots with their guns. So they wouldn’t freeze in. Amelie’s AK-5 worked fine. Akiko’s, too. Jim’s AK-5 worked fine, too. The submachine guns worked out right away. So did the Klaucke. Amelie warmed her hands on the warm barrel of her AK5. Akiko looked cute with her sunglasses with the frame in shape of two pink hearts. It was bitter cold and Amelie froze miserably. She thought painfully of Helldiver. Then they went on towards Asö. Just before Asö they run into an ambush. Some runners fired at them.
They threw themselves into the snow to locate them. They were assisted by infrared vision modules. One after the other, the runners were annihilated. Jim grabbed their attention, Akiko and Amelie snapped them off. When they had destroyed them all, Akiko and Amelie make a high-five. They walked on. In the late afternoon, the wind died down a little and it snowed heavily. The cold remained. They met some hunters. She could already see Villa Kaseberg and fled there. They had a long fire fight.
The hunters were very clever. But thanks to their infrared vision, they could see the robots in bright orange despite the heavy snowstorm. They scattered. Jim switched over to the garage and fired at the Hunters from there. Because their uniforms were covered in snow, the Hunters could not see them well in infrared. Eventually, they took out the Hunters. One of them had lain in ambush and stood behind an embankment. But since Jim had counted the wreckage of the Hunter, he knew another was lurking. They surprised him and took him down. Then they reached the bunker. It was already dark when they reached the Minken Bunker hangar. Amelie still had the code cards and opened the doors. Carefully they worked their way to the power station and turned on the power. They secured the entire bunker once more, but nothing unwanted had crept in. In the bedroom stood the two beds that she had shared with Helldiver. She remembered him as he almost didn’t dare to lie down with her. The night he lay down next to her, she had been terribly unwell, she was still in shock from the death of Thort and was traumatized.
He had laid down beside her because she had been afraid of being alone. The next night he didn’t dare. Today she would have to lie here alone, without his strong arm and his warming body. In the bunker it was cold. Here again, Helldiver had been right. How many times had he warned against winter. She took off her wet parka and the uniform jacket. Then she wrapped herself in a blanket. They wouldn’t be using the kitchen today. Maybe tomorrow. How many times had she cooked in that kitchen. They ate something. Jim went to the storeroom to get some more cans of beer. She drank a can, smoked a cigarette in the hallway. Then she took off her uniform pants and hung them out to dry, too. She put on fresh socks and wrapped herself in the two blankets. She looked at his picture once more. The top blanket still smelled faintly of him. She had a lump in her throat which she choked down. Squeezed a tear. Then she curled up and fell asleep.