The Guardians are one of two indigenous groups on the eastern fringe of the Amazon that have taken radical action to reduce illegal logging. They have tied up loggers, torched their trucks and tractors, and kicked them off the reserves.
As a result, such logging has sharply declined in these territories. But the indigenous groups have faced reprisal attacks and death threats for their actions, raising fears of more violence in an area known for its lawlessness.
It was rare that Matvei was able to take advantages of his days off and leave the base. More often than not, he was only able to get a day at most, which made leaving difficult. Most of his off-days were spent squirreled away in his room where he could be certain it was safe or spending his time pouring over language lessons with Laika. Today, however, the hallways had been empty and he had two full days of freedom ahead of him, and he quickly took advantage of the abnormally barren corridors to rush outside.
“Do you believe it is wise to stray so far from the base on your own, young master?” The voice from the vicinity of his hip sounded exasperated, its owner far too accustomed to Matvei’s impulsive actions. “You failed to log your departure in the lobby books.”
“It’s fine, Gauche,” Matvei hummed, kicking a path through the snow rather than walking in it, “I’m not leaving. I’m just going for a walk. Those are allowed.” He paused, raising his gaze to the dark sky above. It was still early in the evening, but the lack of light was nothing new. He’d grown up adjusting to Sharo’s drastically different light schedule, and his night-vision had only sharpened for it. “Besides, I’m not even that far away.”
“You’ve used that excuse before,” Gauche chided, “and you lost several days to training because of it.”
“It was a cold.”
“It’s fine,” Matvei huffed, putting emphasis on the second word as he started toward a bank of snow at least twice his height. “I brought a scarf.”
“And not your jacket.”
“It’s not too cold.”
“I doubt your uniform was intended for playing in the snow.” Gauche scoffed lightly, but her tone still carried amusement as Matvei began to work his way up the snow pile. “Do not blame me when you fall.”
“I never do.” Matvei countered, grinning as he reached the top in only a few seconds. His gloves were damp and the tips of his fingers had begun to feel the surrounding chill, but the view was worth it. While not nearly as high as some of the windows back on the base, the lack of floodlights and general security towers made it much easier to see the stars and appreciate the surrounding untouched snow.
“I didn’t realise we got so mu–” Matvei trailed off, his body tensing as his ears picked up on the familiar crunch of boots in snow. He turned his body, angling it toward the noise as his uncovered eye danced across the open field, landing on a figure in the not-so-far distance. “…someone is out here.” He murmured, taking a step back as he brought his feet together. ‘They don’t look like a soldier either…’