The group exited the camp with Darius in lead. He gave a friendly salute to the guard before the entrance who hurriedly gave one in return with a smile. Darius was relieved that before he left from home he had googled the path from the camp to the square. He would be really embarrassed if he got lost alone, not to mention he had a group to lead.
Adrian was walking on Darius’s left side, while his right one was quickly filled with a young girl with dark long hair.
“Sooo, Darius, right? I am Lena, nice to meet you!”
“Nice to meet you too,” replied Darius, not breaking his stride.
“I was wondering if you and vice captain knew each other well?” she asked wit a grin. The question immediately caught the attention of the entire group.
“No, I wouldn’t say so,” replied Darius truthfully.
“Why are you the one leading then? And I have never heard him say an assistant’s name before.”
“I have just done some errands for him, nothing else.”
“Oh well, and here I though you were some kind of special assistant secretly hiding in our ranks,” teased Lena.
Only silence answered her.
The group continued in more or less organized formation. It was not like the couple of marching lessons they had made them a well oiled machine, but some basics were learned nonetheless so at least they were not looking like kids on a school trip.
As Darius feared, the streets were already filled with people and it was impossible for cars to move further to the city center. When Darius’s group passed a street turn only three streets away from city square, they halted. Darius heard a curse and glared behind himself, not finding who the author was. He stopped himself from sighing. The whole street was fully packed with people, some windows were already broken and there was red and yellow smoke in the air. At the end of the street was a massive police barricade stopping the crowd like cliff breaking waves from ocean.
“Alright, we will try to pass through, everyone keep close to each other. If you are feeling you are losing the rest of the group, shout or grab the member before you who will help you. Any questions?” asked Darius.
“Alright, lets go.”
The green group started pushing through the crowd. Sometimes, the crowd pushed back. Like, every two seconds.
“Excuse us! Please make way!”
From behind he heard the rest of group yell similar words. Twice they had to stop to not lose members in the back. It was like going against waterfall, every steps was harder than the previous one. With the difficulty spiking up, Darius tried another strategy.
“Excuse us! We need to help prepare baptism! We need to help prepare baptism! They need us to fasten the queueing! We are from army! Please make way!”
It took more of an individual approach, like not shouting the words at crowd but at the person before you who you grabbed, but it worked, somehow. Finally, the group made it to the barricades the police hold and kept the crowd away from the square.
Darius took out his identification card and started waving it in the air. It took some more time and shouting the word officer till the group got recognized as “probably not entirely civilians” and were let through the barricade. An important looking police officer with riot squad was waiting for them.
“WEAr fro,” Darius coughed a few times, the shouting taking its toll. Then with a bit hoarse voice he tried again.
“Excuse us, we are from PA B unit, our vice captain sent us here, more groups should come at later time.”
“About time. Go that way and report at the commanding tent, it’s the biggest one,” said the officer impatiently, not willing to waste time on greenhorn kids, turning back to the barricade as he was speaking.
Darius recounted the whole group. Satisfied no one was missing, they marched in the direction they were shown.
“Ahh, yes. PA. Of course we have work for you,” said a middle aged woman and pushed her glasses back on her nose. She was sitting in front of the commanding tent behind a table with mountains of papers.
“You won’t be much of a help up on the barricades so stay in the square. We need to check if the blankets have arrived yet and if there is enough. At the moment we are reading four stalls with hot drinks and refreshments, go see what they need help with, one of you for each stall,” she commanded as she quickly checked some documents.
“Ah yes, here it is, the blankets group, this is for you, remember to check if there is not missing something and then take the blankets to that green tent. The package should be in the square’s upper right corner. “
Darius took the papers and turned to the group around him.
“Anyone wants them?”
He waited three seconds, then passed the papers to the most bored looking assistant.
“Alright, why don’t you take that one? And take her with you too,” added Darius as he pointed at Lena who gave him a mild glare but went with the bored guy.
“I will check the stalls,” said Adrian helpfully. The three assistants around him quickly joined too.
“Good, the rest of you can prepare the waiting lines, take this sketch , start from the center. Oh and one more thing. “
“Someone go call your superiors that you have arrived and inform them that if they want to send someone here they need to do it fast, you saw how is the situation escalating. And it would be nice if they were able to bring some more supplies with them. “
Darius felt the eyes of the other assistants on himself.
“Fine, I will do that.”
“Good, now I have more work to do and so do you, don’t just stand here!” commanded the woman.
Darius went to find a quiet place near one of the buildings surrounding the square. He took out his phone and called a number which was given to every assistant as a way of communicating.
The phone rang for a moment. And another one. And it kept ringing. Then there was the answering machine and Darius ended the call.
‘What the hell? And this is supposed to be used in emergency situations? “
Darius called again. After fifteen seconds someone finally picked up.
“Sorry, we are busy, call later!” said a rushed female voice and ended the three seconds long call.
Darius glared at his phone.
‘Well excuse you, I am somewhat busy myself! “
He rang again. This time, right after the call was answered he started speaking.
“PA UNIT B ASSISTANT 72 HERE! CONNECT ME TO VICE CAPTAIN CLARK OF PA UNIT B PLEASE!!”yelled Darius and got a look from two passing soldiers.
There was a silence and Darius feared they have already stopped the call. Then the woman voice asked:
“In which matter are you calling vice captain Clark?”
“Reporting from the central square, ma’am.”
There was some background noise from the other side.
“Where is he calling from?”
“Central square, sir.”
“Let him through.”
Then the female voice stopped talking to the someone and told Darius:
“You will be connected shortly.”
Darius patiently waited. Seriously, this calling center existed so the superiors wouldn’t be distracted with a flood of useless calls. Well, Darius felt the center worked pretty good, because you wouldn’t be disturbed if no one was able to call you….
“Vice captain Clark speaking.”
“Sir, assistant Darius speaking, we managed to arrive to the square.”
“Sir, I was ordered to inform you that if you want to send more people, it needs to be done now. The situation is escalating very quickly and it will be impossible to get here by normal means.”
“I understand. The assistants have been already called to the camp. Tell the officers on your side that in half an hour about 70 assistants from our unit will be on their way. I believe they should be still able to get to the square. Anything else you have for me?”
“Yes sir, we are lacking supplies here and it would be useful if the assistants could bring some.”
“Good, I will tell them. I know which supplies should be missing but next time you better ask the officer for more details.”
“Yes sir, sorry sir!” Darius’s cheeks reddened yet again.
The call ended and Darius reported back to the officer lady. After that, he joined the assistants preparing the waiting lines.
“Huff, I think, we might be done. The police told us not to bring the lines past this point yet, so for now it should ok,” commented one of the assistants and received nods from the others.
Darius looked up. The clouds were already dark black, not a single spec of moonlight was able to pass through. There were reflectors shining down on the square from the roofs of nearby buildings. Darius heard that they were prepared right after the square was marked as special spot, about two days ago.
Currently at the square there were about two hundred soldiers, more than four hundred policemen and about one hundred and fifty assistants, mostly from unit B. Currently the city had four PA units. The D unit was patrolling in the outer streets of the city, A unit managed to send only sixty assistants before it was impossible to enter the square through the crowd in the streets. And the C unit completely overslept and were probably going to be ordered to assist D unit, or so thought the officers and assistant from other units Darius heard talking.
“Shall we have a look at the stalls? I would like to get some hot tea,” said an assistant from unit A who came to help with preparing the waiting lines.
“Sure, why not. I heard we have food reserves for two weeks and unlimited supply of water. They should be able to give us something, “ agreed Darius, following the assistant from A unit with the other nearby assistants.
Each one from the group was given a cup of hot tea. The cups were supposed to be given back to the stall, the tea in them fortunately not.
“Ahh, this is something.”
“Yep, it’s nice.”
“Feels like we are on camping trip,” commented an assistant with B unit mark on his uniform.
“A bit too chilly and loud I would say, “ commented another one.
“Guys, how can you be like this? We will be able to get the magic soon! Don’t you dare to be gloomy. “
“We will be guinea pigs, and we won’t even get the honor to be the first ones. They just need us for the numbers so they could feel safe when they let civilians test it.”
The whole group turned to look at one of the police barricades. Over it shined a small green flare in bright light, soon followed by another. And Another.
“There goes our camping trip,” sighed Darius.