Rainier smiled sadly at Dimitri's attempt to bring the conversation to a more jovial point. The wolf had opened up about his history, a past he no doubt wished to leave behind. Farsight could relate; it was no different than him in many ways. "I am sure I can pull a few strings, perhaps there will be three. Landren women are... free spirited." he said, retaining his smile. It faded a bit and his eyes lost focus as he looked ahead, crossing his arms. "I told myself through this whole fight the North men we fought and killed were bandits, cutthroats who had turned their back on duty and civility. People who gave up their right to life by preying on those who do not live by the profession of arms. I was raised an honourable man, one of pedigree. Those we killed were little more than vermin, waiting to be put out of their miserable, wretched lives." he paused, sighing. "But something seems wrong. They were too well armed to be bandits, and far too disciplined. I think they may have been an Imperial detachment. It's what I am having a hard time coming to terms with."
The fox thought over what Dimitri had said about his past, he had left when he was young. He had lived a tough, brutal childhood with little love and exposed to death at far too young of an age. Rainier had grown up under a warm roof with a good family, one of the wealthiest in Trovuna. His small country did not have the mandatory conscription that others had, at least, not openly. Children were raised under the expectation that they were expected to serve, and it would bring great honour to their family and community. Most of the industry and business in Trovuna only hired veterans, where the mines were the sole exception. Trovuna was rich in raw materials, and it supplied much of the Empire. Farsight stood alongside Dimitri, watching the sunset. It looked so different here, so far South. The fox wondered if he'd ever see the auroras again, or feel the warmth of the community centers that had defined his life in Trovuna. He didn't even know if he'd step foot on the ice and snow of the North. Now it was just the hot, abrasive sand that swept the canyon of the badlands. This was the land he had been given a second chance to serve.
"I thank you for your confidentiality, Dimitri. I truly am humbled by it." he said, turning to look at the wolf. "I think it is only fitting I now let you know who I am... or was. I was born to an aristocratic family in Trovuna, a small nation in the arctic circle that encompasses much of the mountain ranges that define the North. My father was heir and owner of the chief mining and masonry industry in the mountains, being responsible for the design and construction of many of the Imperial government buildings across the North. In Trovuna, the name Farsight is well known. It carries weight and prestige. We worked as hard as the common people of Starlight, our city, and our culture remains unique from the rest of the Empire. There was always a romantic view of it, of the joining of nations that were so far away from us with their big cities and massive populations. It seemed so unbelievable, especially when you could look in any direction outside of our city and see no other city lights, just the winter ice and the summer tundra, and at night the dancing auroras. I named my GEAR after them, it serves as a reminder of the home I had left behind. In Trovuna, we believe that when we die, our souls carry on to the sky and the auroras are our ancestors dancing and lighting our way on the coldest, deadliest of nights." he smiled at the memory. "Of course, it probably seems silly, since most of this world does not adhere to spirituality because of the Net, but most of the world has never witnessed the beauty of the Trovunian sky and the spirit of my people."
Rainier continued walking, watching as the sun had begun to dip on the horizon. It would only be a few minutes before darkness fell. "I volunteered for service, my countrymen were never put into the rank and file of infantry and armoured combat regiments. We always formed specialized units in the brigades, having earned a reputation for being excellent scouts, snipers, navigators, winter warfare specialists, and so on. Often, entire classes of boys and some girls would sign up together and go of to serve together, our units were always very cohesive and had excellent morale. Even the non-Trovunian officers who often had command of us never had word of complaint. We did our duty and made no complaints, and were just happy to be a part of the machine that kept civilization together. The South was a terrifying enemy, it represented anarchy and hatred for our people. We were always told how the Norht cared for the common person, how nobody in the Empire would ever be left wanting. We heard stories of in how the South shat on the poor, where people starved in the streets or slowly died of treatable illnesses that such meager money could afford, but they could never obtain. How the rich did nothing for their communities except hide behind their big walls and count money. It was a very unflattering picture of the South, you can be sure. You probably recall similar experiences.
"I didn't see my first combat deployment until I was a Captain. And yes, don't look surprised. I was a commissioned officer with my own regiment to command, it's likely why Blade gave me command after he was incapacitated. We were deployed to put down an insurrection in one of the independent nations, Lucinia, and were told that they were planning on striking against the Empire. In hind sight, I don't see how that would have been possible. It's a relatively small tropical nation without much in the way of a standing army, but I believed what was told of me. We all did. I killed my first men in Lucinia, during an ambush of an armoured column in the forests. I killed seven men that day... not long after, Lucinia surrendered and became a proxy state to the Empire, and my regiment, although it was a reconnaissance and patrol regiment, was told to occupy the area around the town were were stationed with, Molvev. And so it became our new home until we were told otherwise." He smiled, pulling out his bundle of photographs from his tactical vest, handing Dimitri one of a beautiful red fox, a woman with emerald green eyes and long black hair. "It's where I met the woman I would take to be my wife."
Farsight put the rest of the photographs back in his pocket, staring at the dying sunlight and the creeping shadows. "Her name was Socia. She was the first one to really open my eyes to the true nature of the government I was serving, the deceptions, the lies... the oppression. We were told not to become infatuated with the locals, but we kept things quiet until Lucinia became a member of the Empire after it was annexed, after that we were allowed to marry and purchase a home together in Molvev where we met. It was a beautiful town, so vibrant, alive... happy." he smiled at the memories. "The people were wonderful, of course. They reminded me of the people of Trovuna, how close the community was. They seemed to have a new festival every week, merchants sold exotic things from stalls in the street, and dancing seemed to be a way of life, and the people had the sweetest voices you had ever heard.
"It was just after Socia had told me we were going to have a child that I was deployed to track down incursions from the Southern Borders, there may have been sorties probing the jungles from other independent nations who would potentially try to retake Lucinia from the Empire. It was on that deployment that everything changed. I had broken off from the regiment in Borealis in search of a downed aircraft, which I had found. It was a spy plane, and the pilot was still alive. He was a Landren boy, couldn't have been more than 18 or 19. He surprisingly wasn't injured. He knew he had no chance against a GEAR and just quietly accepted his fate... I couldn't fault him for doing his duty, and our countries weren't at war. He was just collecting intelligence... so, I had him turn over the aircraft and the black box, as well as any documents he may have had and let him go to make it back to the border. You know how Northern prison camps are. It's not a place for good people." Farsight said, holding his pipe in hand but not lighting it. It was there for comfort and familiarity.
"Another member of my squadron had come looking for me and watched the whole exchange... recorded it. The soldier approached me, a Corporal, no less and told me he had to report what I did. I was well liked among my men, I get results. I... administered my own justice. He told me to take my GEAR and run for the border, I'd be able to make it before he got back to command and told them what happened. I didn't even have time to try and get to my pregnant wife, I didn't want to implicate her in my treason." He closed his eyes, his voice straining as the memories came back. "I made it to the border, and was immediately taken into custody and interrogated for weeks before I was released, an expat from my own nation. I told the intelligence officers and my jailors about my wife, and my home. I needed to know what was going on and if it would be possible to rescue her. Two days later, a sympathetic man showed me the aerial photographs of Molvev. They had rounded up hundreds of people from the town for public execution. There was no need for words. Socia was gone." he took the photograph back from Dimitri, staring longingly at it. "The last thing I told her was that I promised I would come home in time to see our child born. I can't keep that promise, the Empire took that away from me. But I will return home one day, when the North finally breaks. I... need to say goodbye."
Rainier didn't look at Dimtri and was quiet for some time. "You're the first person I told that story. It isn't one with a happy ending, but I think you'd understand better than anyone what it means to lose your home." Tears formed in his eyes as he watched the last of the daylight disappear, and darkness overtook the men. "I pray you never have to lose the one you love."