Chapter 13:

La Capilla

A Moribund Hero

The ride back to base was fortunately uneventful. Leon relished the comfort of riding with Lucy in the tank. Rabbit rode shotgun with Wolf on his motorbike.Bookmark here

Night fell quickly by the time they had arrived at their destination. At one point, Leon had feared they were traveling out into the middle of nowhere, as the way had been flat land and dirt road with only the odd cactus and boulder for landmarks. So, he was relieved and intrigued to see where they had stopped.Bookmark here

Bessy eased into an old fashion barn with the outline of low hills behind it. It was obviously originally built for livestock. It had been reconstructed to fit the mini tank with ample space.Bookmark here

The barn's inside was clean metal and a stone floor, with a couple of fuel pumps to feed the hardworking black metal beast.Bookmark here

"Everybody out." She yawned as she prodded Leon to open the hatch and get off.Bookmark here

Leon hopped out and took in more of his surroundings. Galvanized cabinets and benches at the back wall contained various mechanical tools, steel drums, and containers. The fuel pumps on one side consisted of refined biomass. It explained why he had detected a lingering stench of rotten eggs from it.Bookmark here

"How far can your tank go?" He blurted out his curiosity.Bookmark here

"How far you'd think?" She grinned, feeling giddy that he was interested in her ride.Bookmark here

Of course, who wouldn't be thrilled with Bessy. The tank was badass and one of its kind. Made before the Golden War a hundred and thirty years ago. The metal beauty was labeled a mech-hybrid. Inspired by the M1 tanks of the late 21st century, it was made to be half the size of one; lightweight, compact, and flexible to literally hop over rocky terrain. Its original purpose was for hunting terrorists in some rocky cave or paddock. Bessy was best handled by two people; a driver and a gunner for, well, the gun. There was an additional turret for a mounted sniper.Bookmark here

She had inherited Bessy from her late uncle when she had received her honorary title. He was a veteran of the old times. He never said where he had got it. She suspected it had been carjacked during a skirmish and never returned. Since the People Army was mainly made up of common people itching to fight and serve the Anti Pope, they were glad she could BYO her own war machine. Just as well because Bessy was her baby.Bookmark here

"With the consumption of biofuel, possible 270 - 300 miles per hour, perhaps." He mused.Bookmark here

She heartily slapped his back with congratulations. "For your reward, you get to sleep in the barracks."Bookmark here

And sheepishly added. "Maybe."Bookmark here

Regardless, he followed her lead out and across a clearing to the single limestone building. He scanned the construction and learned the place was an ancient structure called a chapel. This one was established in the early 19th century.Bookmark here

"This is your barracks? It's a relic!" he blurted with awe.Bookmark here

"I know right? The damn thing has outlasted sixteen world wars and many cartel uprisings. Lucky, our squad leader had inherited the place. La Capilla is blessed by the gods." Lucy nodded.Bookmark here

He looked up to the weathered name plaque on the eaves. "La Capilla de Nuestra Señora."Bookmark here

A few meters above the plaque rested a sanctus bell hovering in the bell cot. Although, the bell was actually a ball aerial drone on standby to activate a magic barrier.Bookmark here

Nodding his head, he passed through the doors. The inside was partially cleared on one side, and the opposite side had a few rows of pews and dark wood booths.Bookmark here

At the chapel's far wall was an enormous colorful stained glass window behind a low-rise podium.Bookmark here

The window depicted a benevolent man in robes among flowers and a large silver cross. He had never seen the likes of it before. It made him gasp with awe.Bookmark here

"Duck!" Lucy screamed and slammed her body to the floor.Bookmark here

Leon yelped when a rubber bullet slammed into his stomach and sent him flying back out the door.Bookmark here

"When I said, report back to base. I DIDN'T SAY TAKE THREE HOURS TO DO IT!" yelled a woman.Bookmark here

Leon shuffled back into the chapel, holding his aching stomach, and found himself reeling from a cushy ball thrown at his face. It was another attack aimed at Lucy that she had dodged.Bookmark here

"Avril! Why're you attacking me?!" She whimpered.Bookmark here

Wolf sighed. "Yah bring home a couple of pets. Spend three hours procrastinating by shopping. What yah expect?"Bookmark here

His hypothesis scored him a rubber bullet in his gut. He groaned next to Leon, who was praying he wouldn't see the Mother anytime soon.Bookmark here

"Honestly. I'm this close to having a heart attack!" An older woman stepped down the aisle before them. She dumped her training rifle on one of the nearby pews and pulled out a white pill bottle from her pocket. "You see this? My cholesterol pills are almost empty. I almost ate an egg today! It's bad enough, I have to keep the Clerics off our backs. We're lucky, they didn't disband us!"Bookmark here

"Ma'am. Remember what Butcher said about doing the wood-ha-ha." Lucy carefully approached her, doing some heavy breathing. "Wood-ha-ha. Wood-ha-ha."Bookmark here

The woman was calm after a few wood-ha-ha breathing sessions with Lucy.Bookmark here

When Leon's eyes had stopped watering, he was able to see the woman better. Rabbit helped him straighten up and gave him a healing vial for the pain.Bookmark here

Avril was solid and seemed trained to weather sieges and the front lines. Obviously older than all of them, but her freckly face was still young and fresh enough for her age. Her green eyes held wisdom and strength honed over the years of fighting in the People's Army.Bookmark here

Unlike Lucy, her red hair was cropped in a clean cut with a small fringe to balance her naturally bushy red eyebrows, thin nose, and small mouth.Bookmark here

She wore khaki pants tucked into black heavy boots and a long-sleeved no collar shirt showing her sergeant title beneath the People Army emblem. A red scarf covered her neck. Holding up her pants was a heavy utility belt supporting her sheathed guns on each hip, a dagger, baton, and small pouches at her front and back. Padded leather gloves protected her hands.Bookmark here

Despite her warrior stature and passionate responses, Leon sensed a kind and caring vibe from her.Bookmark here

"Well, you're here. Go to the mess hall and eat something." She grumbled as she folded her arms over her chest.Bookmark here

Lucy grabbed Leon's arm and hastily led him around the outer edges of the main hall and into the connected kitchen.Bookmark here

Hungry Sheep
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