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The haze was thick through the Bog, casting a gossamer veil from the cliffs into the flatland. The morning hour was marked by weak sunlight and the waking sounds of the animals that populated the Bog. Spags stood at the wooden rail of his camp and looked outward. The structure was built against the cliffs to provide not only a reliable defensive position but to afford the man a tactical view of the Bog.


Tactics. Always it came down to tactics. Warfare, politics, survival… he could point out the tactical aspect in each and countless others. With the constant presence of such thoughts rattling around in his head, the man known as Big Boss by the Free States Militia once more stood in quiet reflection of the world as he knew it, and where the winding paths of choices could possibly take him, and those that walked with him.


Resting a hand upon the wooden rail, Spags sighed and glanced down one direction from his vantage point. In the periphery of his vision, the neon letters that promised sanctuary to those who knew the code gleamed their bonded truths. The ties of brotherhood were deep--old, shared truths that were the bedrock of an agreement--and afforded him the capacity to look beyond the gruesome acts perpetrated by the raiding band. And yet, as Spags turned his head to look down the opposite side, there was a grim forecast in such binding truths of violence. In the distance, now, there was another truth, a belief in the humanitarianism of action. True, that distant point spoke of order and structure--concepts that were an anathema the Free States man--but they lacked the echoes of enforcement and brutality. Even Spags could not deny the attempts from the blue-and-red to assist in the survival of humanity.


Two sides placed before him, Spags felt the soft gnaw of introspective consideration. The Free States did not have a solitary leader who determined the direction of the larger group. The Council worked together in harmony, where voices had votes and no one person sat at the head of the proverbial table. And yet, Spags was well-aware of the unintended force of his viewpoints and thoughts on the rest of the Militia. Picking at the wooden rail a moment, the man felt the weight of his years and his past. At what point did his guidance cross that final line that defined the Free States and separated it from his personal connections? More importantly, would he truly be able to separate himself?


There were no easy answers. Once, perhaps, when the three of them were younger… hopeful… naive… the answers would’ve been plucked as golden apples. Now, however, the raptor and the wolf stood upon the map with their eyes fixed upon the other. Idealism was met with violence, barbarism met with justice, and where they met upon the map, there was bloody attrition. Turning from the rail, Spags walked back to the door of his home. The wood creaked beneath his feet until he paused, a hand upon the knob of the door. From the burrows of the shaken, stained earth beneath the raptor's talons and the wolf's claws, the badger was emerging, coming into the light to take its place in the fray. He would defend one brother-in-arms from another, because honor could ask for no less.


At least… for right now.


Nodding once to himself, Spags pushed open the door and walked inside. The day was just beginning, and there was a truth to reveal, a line to be formed, a choice to be made. The door swung shut behind him, latching into place with a sound that he found oddly haunting in its finality. So it must be, he thought, so it must be.

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