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What I got at this time.

September 28, 1914




I better hurry. There's no telling when Imperials will arrive to investigate the explosion... Reyna thought as she kept her rifle at a low ready, moving through the tunnel system. She already passed the room her and Michael agreed would be a good shelter from the explosion she would cause, but just in case she took the time to secure the room. This room did not have much: it was just an empty storage room, albeit small. There were racks for firearms and empty crates, but that was all there was to this room. No person was inside of it.

Satisfied that this particular room was empty, Reyna moved on to toward her goal, her objective. She moved quickly, but cautiously for she didn't know when any Imperials could show up. Her heart was beating rapidly while her hands only swayed a little. Hyper-alertness was a funny thing. Every sound she heard caught her attention, if only for a split second or less, before she moved on. She never had to worry about such things back home or in the encampments.

Finally, she reached the storage room that was her target. After clearing the room the same as she did the first, she moved to the middle of the room and set down her pack. One at a time, she took out the equipment to set up the demolition charge, then finally the demolition charge itself. As a sapper, she was entrusted with the knowledge of setting up such dangerous explosives as well as how to disarm them. But, this all took time even with such knowledge of the explosives, especially since she had to put a longer fuse on the charge so she'd have time to escape.

Right after she finished setting the charge, which took her two minutes, she heard voices. They were certainly not friendly voices, but rather Imperial voices, and from what she heard they sounded a bit rushed. Reyna figured these Imperials came to investigate the explosion earlier, or they were getting supplies for the defense against the Federation assault. Unfortunately, that meant that she had only a few seconds before they would undoubtedly search the room she was in. If they found the demolition charges....

Reyna knew what she had to do: ambush them. She didn't know how many were coming, but that didn't change what she had to do, only how difficult it would make her situation. Carefully, she hid behind a few heavy crates after retrieving her pack, crouched in darkness, attach a bayonet, aimed her carbine at the entrance and waited with anticipation.

Sure enough, what seemed to be only two Imperials entered the room via the entrance. Reyna, however, took an opportunity as soon as her sights were upon the first one who entered the room. A heavy trigger pull and a sizable rifle bullet was the end of the unlucky Imperial who entered the room first. The Imperial was felled with a shot in the chest, the man not moving as he fell to the ground. The other, however, quickly unholstered his rifle and fired a shot at Reyna's direction.

Thankfully, she chose her cover well. While the bullet passed through the heavy crate, the view between her and the Imperial was obscured and the bullet did not hit its intended target. Reyna remembered what McGriffin told her to do: if you don't know what else to do, move forward and attack. Thus, she immediately after firing and cranking the bolt on her carbine moved to another set of crates. Her ears were ringing from all the gunfire that was being thrown in the enclosed space, so she couldn't hear when the Imperial was cranking his bolt. She only knew a second shot came after her while she was moving toward those crates.

After guessing another time that a shot was pulled, Reyna charged the Imperial who was behind the corner of the entrance to the room. The Imperial fired, Reyna feeling some kind of impact before she was pointing her carbine right at the man's chest. Another trigger pull later, her gun discharged a bullet to the man's chest, Reyna thrusting her bayonet another second later again into the man's chest, this time where the heart was. A moment later, the man fell down to the ground with a stab wound in his heart and a bullet in his shoulder.

Reyna quickly ran over to the demolition charge to light the fuse. She lit the fuse and stood back up, starting to walk back out. However, right when she did so she felt a large stabbing pain as the adrenaline in her body started to go down. By instinct, she put her hand at the spot on her torso and held it tightly. Staggering a little further from the place she lit the fuse she lifted her hand up. Already, her small hand had the red liquid of life on it. In fact, now that she was starting to realize it, she felt that liquid slowly drench her shirt.

Oh Valkyrur....... Reyna was normally not a religious person at all, being agnostic between the Cruz faith and the faith of the Valkyrurs. However, right now.....

Nothing could prepare her for this. She saw soldiers who were shot before but she never thought she'd be one of them truly. She started to panic, breathing quickly as she tried to move away from the upcoming explosion. Survival was her priority right now. That is what she had to do. Survive.

She finally staggered close to the room she cleared earlier. The long fuse should give her time to get out...if she was in peak condition. That room could provide her with protection, and it was fairly close to the place her and Michael split off. However, she was not going to make it out of these tunnels by herself now. She already felt dizzy, disoriented and her body was weakening. The wound must be worse than she thought.

How to survive....Reyna had an idea. Actually, it was a small hope. She was not sure if Michael was gone by now, but she had to try. It was either that, be captured by Imperials, or die. With great struggle, Reyna took off her pack and the entrenching tool she had. Following that, she put her bloody hand several times of her pack and threw them at the intersection, tying a piece of her cloth over on her entrenching tool and pitching it forward as best as she could. It put great strain on her, and she didn't know if she even managed to throw it as far as she needed to, but she was desperate. It was her only hope as she felt after the shovel the strength leave her legs. She crawled inside the room for shelter, leaving her pack outside the entrance with her carbine leaned on a wall outside the room, sat against a wall, and thought about her family, hoping that she would see them again and that Michael would find her.

September 27, 1914




After speaking to Ines, Reyna was more than a little embarrassed as she hurried over to her bunk to stash the small book. Hopefully it won't go missing again, and Reyna will make sure it won't. She didn't want any more people finding out what she wrote about when she was....well she didn't want to think about it. Shoving the book into a discrete pouch, Reyna got to the next order of business: getting comfortable so she could sleep.

After disrobing to all but the minimum to keep her decency, the posh woman climbed under the covers of a blanket and curled up underneath. Tonight, however, more time would be needed before she was able to fall asleep. Her thoughts drifted to what happened that day, what she thought when she saw Thomas's body, and what that meant. She wrote down her thoughts in her journal earlier, of course, but that didn't prevent her from dwelling on them for an hour. Clutching her pillow, Reyna finally fell asleep, not looking forward to the next morning.




September 28, 1914


Reyna had only but five hours, waking up thirty minutes later than she wanted to. Normally, this was not an issue but she was part of the team that was to go into the tunnels as one of the sappers. She had a lot of trouble just getting herself up and dressing herself and preparing, getting a quick bite to eat and using the bathroom in a hurry.

She did all of this with a big frown on her face for two reasons. The first reason was she had to get up so early for this mission, and she was already a little behind what she wanted, though not late. The second, however, was very silly: the rain meant mud and that meant that she was going to get muddy, especially since they were going into the tunnels. After everything was all set and done, she was going to need a good shower.

Finishing with her preparations, she picked up her equipment and moved to the place she was to meet the other sappers, including Michael. She didn't know very much about the small sapper man, but first impressions told her that he was intelligent and religious, and that he very much liked tea. Lucia also hung out around him, and it seemed he was a influence on her. Well, now they will be working together as a team. At the very least it will be interesting.

By the time she saw Michael, her mouth was wrapped around a cracker and nibbling on it. It seemed she was among the last to arrive, not a bad thing but not ideal for her. With tired eyes, she examined the group and lazily waved to the three. Biting down on the cracker then taking it out of her mouth, she quietly spoke in her light southern Vinland accent.

"Hello.... Is this all of us?"

She was definitely not looking forward to the tunnels, but it was her job. And that job needed doing.

@Conscripts
“Ugh…”

From her spectacular view of the front line encampment, Inès couldn’t afford a spare uniform. Even the replacements others had received in the train just prior to Amone she had seemed to have missed out on; The result of her rushed redeployment, she had always begrudged. In a rainwater washbin, she scraped and scrubbed her fatigues to the stitch, the residual water becoming a thorough tint of bubbly red. Some stains remained incredibly stubborn, and even as well-toned a woman as she - her sinuous upper body tirelessly motioning back and forth as she scrubbed every last inch of her bloodstained jacket - were so sternly adorned with Thomas’ essence that, like the memory to just transpire...it refused to escape from her current state of mind.

Naturally, such expenditures required that she secluded herself to some manner of privacy, gad only in her equally worn smallclothes whilst the Darcsen toiled away in a race to utilize the last minutes of sunlight the best she could.




Earlier that day

Just as Reyna was getting her composure back was when Victoria, the woman who was carrying Thomas, moved by her. There was a heavy feeling of sadness in her heart as she gazed on the man who was just this morning was alive and well. Her effort in keeping her composure soon became in vain as she felt Marathon’s arm brush her. Victoria’s words reached her, but Reyna didn’t know how to react at first. Then, after figuring it out she moved herself slowly to Thomas, standing next to Victoria quietly for a moment before her lips moved, a quiet, solemn whisper following. “May you rest in peace, Thomas. Thank you for all you have done for us all.” After that, she nodded to Victoria and slowly spoke one line. “I-If you need something….don’t be afraid to ask.” Reyna noted the hat on Victoria, but she did not recognize it right off the bat in the midst of her own conflict. It’d only be later when she would recognize what it meant….




Present time

This dirt on her uniform irked her. Normally out on this battlefield Reyna gave her uniform a little leeway but with the death of Thomas still fresh on her mind and Luke’s glory-seeking attempt, Reyna had to do something to get her mind off of both what she was going to do the next day and the recent events. But first, a spot needed to be found. Reyna did find such a spot earlier while she stayed at this camp, but what she’d find there currently was a bit of a surprise to her. For two girls to meet like this would normally not be too big of a deal, but when she walked in on Inès, stepping loudly into the secluded spot, she found herself frozen as she saw that it was occupied: Apparently, privacy was much harder to acquire than she thought…

Thoroughly fixated upon her action at hand, Inès only barely looks up from her task to exchange eye contact with Reyna. Only a cursory gaze strayed upon her, then just as quickly, Inès returned to her task, particularly nonplussed at the sight of Reyna before her. Logically, she hadn’t much to fear, for the encampments were still largely segregated by gender for some modicum of privacy and such sights weren’t entirely uncommon.

The intense brushing came to a halt, Inès lifting her jacket from the water as steady beads of crimson-bubbled water poured from the article. She frowned, pursing her lips in a corner of her mouth, giving way to a short sigh. Small, faint blotches stained her jacket still, yet for now it seems she’d give it a bit of a rest. A curiousness etched upon her face - if still rather painted by her signature grim sternness - now looking at Reyna more firmly paralyzed in the doorway.

“Are you...okay?” she queried, an eyebrow steadily raising through the course of the question.

The question brought Reyna back to reality..and caught her off-guard. She barely formulated a response to the question “Y-Yeah, it’s just I haven’t seen anyone here before.” Her eyes gazed upon the scene and noted the water’s color. This red colored water caused Reyna to bite her lip. ”At least..around this time. I just came here to wash my clothes...” There was no telling how this was going to go. She heard of Inès’s yelling at Luke at least, and if Diana was any indication all of the other girls were crazy in some way. The fact she didn’t know Inès as well as some only contributed to the mystery.

Inès had made a few theories about Reyna, judging from both the scrawls as well as the limited observations she had of the young woman; If her writing were to be believed, she was rather...inexperienced, if curious. A definite shy type. An ambient soul with a desire to see the world around her...if she would prefer to do so in the soles of a life less frightening. With the struggles come experience - Inès knew - and there exist few who wish their wisdom had come at less of a price. But Inès joined those ranks as those with few truthful regrets in obtaining their fables.

The Darcsen motioned her eyes back to her washbin in a motion some might call dismissive, yet one the well-versed would correct to be, “acknowledging”. It was rarely on purpose that Inès averted only her gaze as a means to show antipathy; She was far more accustomed to a more direct means of assailment to get her point across.

“Get a bin.” she responded - if such a reply in so blunt a tone came across as more of a command than a suggestion.

Just as quickly...her eyes dived. A heavy, weary sigh came as her shoulders dropped, lowering in tandem with her jacket. Her posture remained straight, if considerably more closed, etching inwards like a contracting breath.

“Sorry. It’s that…”

She exhaled sharply.

“...a lot has happened today.”

Reyna could already tell that Inès was not in a good mood the moment she looked away from her. Then again, she should have known so even before speaking to Inès. The events today were not going to be gone from anyone’s mind anytime soon, if ever. Still, she awaited the consent of Inès before nodding and grabbing her own bin and sat down to prepare and tend her own clothing. A few moments of silence passed as Reyna did this before she heard Inès’s words.

Taking a moment to process what Inès said, she nodded to the Francian woman as she started taking off her uniform shirt. “I know. I heard what happened and...saw the result up close.” Reyna spoke softly, trying to select her words carefully. “If you want to talk about it, I don’t mind. Anything, really. I know I wasn’t there and that you might think I won’t understand, but it’s better to speak what’s on your mind than to hold it all inside…” How many times did her own mother tell her this? It worked each time, so hopefully it will help Inès too...if she chooses to talk.

“No, it’s-...”

Inès raised her hand, synchronized with the lowering of her eyes, waving away Reyna’s prerogative. Her head hung just slightly, the heaviness even visually imprinting into her sunken, sullen eyes, baggy from the transpiration of the day. Slowly, it rose once more to meet Reyna, just out of what Inès could scrape along to - almost jokingly, or even insultingly - call etiquette.

“...”

She sighed.

“He-...”

The Darcsen shook her head, her loose hairs obfuscating her equally-toned eyes.

“...that imbecile just doesn’t understand.”

“You mean Luke?” Reyna asked, recalling what happened earlier that day. It was an obvious guess, but the only other one that Reyna could guess was Jean, and she had no idea what Jean’s involvement was in the entire situation. Reyna slowly washed her shirt, but kept steady eye contact with Inès as she listened.

“Yeah…” Inès responded, rather fatigued at the mere mention of the man. A clear ire broke into expression as her brow furrowed into a deep, dismayed grimace.

“He acts like he doesn’t know what to do, or like he can’t do anything, but when he wants to be the big man? Oh, then he knows just what to do!” Inès mocks, shaking her head as she most venomously recalled her exchange earlier that day, “He must think i’m an idiot...i’ve been in this goddamn war longer than he’s even considered going…”

“I don’t know much about Luke, but honestly he always struck me as some kind of idiot the moment he made racist comments in front of Jean, an NCO. I’m sure he has his own reasons and he’s not that bad in some way or another, but he’s definitely not the smartest.” Reyna answered honestly, remembering the moment that Luke insulted Jean for being a Darcsen in front of, well, a group of darcsens, a NCO darcsen at that, and his bad decisions he has made. She wasn’t going to judge too harshly, but there could have definitely been better times to be brutally honest.

Perhaps not if Reyna was going to be the one to redact her words on the subject, Inès had no such qualms. They were…as Inès would put it, frankly demeaning, and only did well to show that Luke had much more to learn in his lengthy journey. For a man with such horrid esteem as he had just hours (as well as days) ago, Luke was certain to always fill the premises with some manner of bravado.

The likes of which Inès saw bring the haughty to…

...she would finish with “their knees”, but the woman stammered on that thought; It was an exceptionally fortunate soul who combined arrogance with ignorance and finished with functional legs.

So, she would have to settle with “His grave.”

“No. I’ve met a lot of Luke’s. All of them finished their first year of their careers with retirement.”

“It’s likely to happen if he doesn’t change his act. I won’t say it will but it’s likely. It seems to me he’s trying to act like a hero, but father always told me that the real heroes don’t truly seek such fame out. And acting like one for the sake of it gets you killed is what the instructor said.” Reyna called the lessons she learned. Of course, experience was the best teacher but Reyna didn’t have the experience to consider herself an expert, so instead she relied on those older and wiser than her to speak for her.

She shook her head. Strands of errant hairs split their way well along her already moody expression, and the sight of such obfuscants soured her expression to the point of palpability. In her off-hand, she grasped her jacket to her right and scrubbed against the washboard in a coarse manner more appropriate for smashing one’s being against a hard surface than for the gentle removal of a few missed stains.

“His act is going to get him killed.” Inès angrily vented as she scathed the words between her clenched teeth, “He’s afraid. And stupid. Like everyone else who came here and got told they would have a chance to see the world.”

Frustrated grunts escaped her maw, a grittled woman furrowing in disappointment. Surprised wasn’t how Inès would describe this particular quagmire. If anything...she had, in a sense, expected such from him, and was only waiting for the inevitable to transpire. And like everything else, this was another little horror that had perhaps spawned because Inès stood too firm: Too firm in the belief that there was nary a chance of Luke heeding her advice, no matter whether it was a sobering tale from her ex-lovers or from the battlefield.

“I wish he’d shoot himself in the foot and get it over with. Go home to the sisters he says he loves so much.”

“But if he gave a damn, he wouldn’t have gone.” Inès scoffed.

“Better to be a coward than a hypocrite.”

“If you say so. At least the former is more honest.” Reyna said carefully as she hefted her shirt up to inspect it. Already the shirt was cleanish, but not clean enough for the rich daughter of a captain of industry. Thus, Reyna got right back to cleaning the shirt again. “I think we’re all scared of what could come, just some know how to deal with it and others don’t. I don’t know about Luke and if he simply does not know how to deal with it, but I guess we’ll see what happens. Anything can happen, after all.” She bit her lip, recalling the task she’ll have to do tomorrow. What the sappers were going to be sent doing was no small task with those tunnels, and she had the night to think on what she would do, not knowing if it’d be her last moments or not.

Finally satisfied that she got the grime off of her shirt, Reyna moved on to the next bit of clothing: her pants. “You sound inherently distrusting of people like him, and as my father would put it: ‘know hardship like the back of your hand.’”

Though a series of particularly non-rattled gazes gave passes to Reyna, Inès made her intent of listening clear. Her jacket would slowly rink and grind away what remained of the bloodstains, until a deep-soaked olive color was all that transpired upon her Francian uniform. The constitution bore the uniform a distinct heaviness upon submergence, yet Inès herself was, perhaps, tempted not to bother with washing. If her command could be bothered to remember to give her her new uniform.

Her head turned again to Reyna. “It’s what I do for a living.” She responded, in a tone that might be called “risible”...if not marred by the harshness of which the Darcsen presented her statement.

“People love to go and ask what makes you go through it. How you can keep going when you’re surrounded, or when everything around you just tells you to give up. And the answer is that I have to.”

“People like Luke are always trying to look for some easy way out of being poor, or being a farmer, or working in a factory. Darcsens are also used to being poor. And the difference between Darcsens and people like Luke is that poor earthheads act like they’re not supposed to be there in the ghetto.”

Reyna listened closely, maintaining eye contact with Inès and processing the words she said. “Earthhead” was not something Reyna heard before, but considering that darcsens were called “darkhairs” and Reyna herself was a brunette, she could guess what it meant. Noting this new vocabulary, Reyna spoke softly. “It’s unfortunate people have to live in a ghetto in the first place, but I understand why it happens. Some spiral themselves out of control into them while others were simply forced or born into them. The latter is mostly what many darcsens fall under. Some non-darcsens, of course, but still equally bad.” Careful words were difficult to craft as she said “I’m only as wary of darcsens as the places they tend to learn resentment from, but that applies to any poor and desperate area. I’ve had darcsen and non-darcsen alike belittle me for my wealthier status, but few of them were willing to put in the work to dig themselves out of the hole through opportunities that required hard work. Some even opportunities my father gave them, at that.”

Memories of belittlement for her wealth and how she “never earned anything” flooded Reyna’s mind for a moment, a frown appearing momentarily before returning to normal. “I don’t like people who act like that, then don’t do anything to better themselves. Or those that give up so easily and then take their anger out on those who didn’t.”

“Pft.”

The notion of The Vinlandic Dream, told by the most Vinlandic Vinlander to cross the seas, was it? Perhaps the obvious need not be reiterated. Inès didn’t smirk, nor give nary a smidgin of sarcasm to her cold-faced expression. Like she had just so boldly pronounced; Reyna was acting like they weren’t supposed to be there.

“Everyone wants to leave the ghetto. But what happens when everyone leaves?” she queried, shaking her head once again.

“When you come from the community, it’s more than just a giant slum. You know, people have asked me, “Inès, why do you bother staying in Ostend if it’s so shit? All you do is complain!””

Inès cracked a smile.

“Of course I complain. I’m Francian! I sit, I complain! I bitch and moan and say how everyone doesn’t care! And you know what? It’s my home. Everyone I love lives there, and everyone there deserves better.” She laughed.

“But!” Inès interjected, lowering her gaze with a cynical smirk, “Nothing fucking comes easy to a Darcsen. You learn very early on that there are no easy ways out. There’s nothing waiting for you if you leave the ghetto except a lot of earthheads who wonder what a darkhead is doing in their neighborhood. And anytime anyone tries giving us something? Sure. We take it. We’ll have fun for a bit, drink, and try to forget we were ever enemies. Because we know the only time we seem to get along is when they’re either drunk, or when they want something from us.”

“Besides, if you leave the ghetto as a Darcsen to make it big, you become a Hotza.

An unfamiliar term.

“Cold.” Inès translated.

Reyna listened, and then had to think for a bit about what Inès just said to her. It was...a unique perspective that she never thought she’d get. It was foreign to her to say the least, far from the merely academic perspective she experienced in the safety of her home. Concern was the first thing that popped up, followed by curiosity. Finally, Reyna thought of a reply to Inès.

“That’s...something I never heard before. I didn’t realize the racism was so bad. Still, I believe things should at least get better, even if they don’t want to leave their community behind.” Reyna answered. “In the country, even the poorest of us don’t live in horrid conditions. Most of those in Darport go hunting or poaching when they can’t get food on the table or receive meals distributed for those in need of them. Both the churches and the workers’ barracks do that.” She stopped cleaning her pants for a moment to think about what to say next.

“That all must seem strange to you, and you must see as privileged. You would be correct. I’m blessed, but that don’t mean those who aren’t shouldn’t be able to even surpass me especially if I help them… sorry, this must sound so stupid to you.” Reyna gave Inès a sheepish, nervous smile. If anything, she didn’t want to make Inès mad. Just speak what she thought and at least try to understand her perspective on things. It’s the least she could do.

“It’s different in the city.” Inès explained, “In our apartment-”

Inès reached her hand, generally pointing to the corner of the tent situated at Reyna’s heel.

“It’s about that big.”

Her hand waved over to a tent opposite of her. Barely the size of a large tent occupied by a superior officer. And this residence was intended to be permanent.

“My mother and I live there, and a lot of times, we have one or two more families living together with us.”

What Inès just explained to Reyna was even more foreign to her than the ghetto conditions and community. “You mean...you don’t even have a room to sleep in for yourself?” Reyna looked at the size Inès emphasized with her hand and imagined it, shivering slightly. “That’s really weird to me, and a little scary. At least here everyone is at least somewhat disciplined, but I am not sure if I would be comfortable with sharing such a small size of a place with people I don’t know very well and wouldn’t trust my safety to.” After hearing this, she was glad she was born in the country and in a relatively safe community. The most she had to worry about was someone trying to make her give them money and never return it.

Inès had suspected she would need to provide a more detailed narrative to...elucidate...Reyna’s comprehension. Not that she imagined the woman to be unintelligent, mind; Only rather ignorant of the true conditions of inner city living. Truth be told, Inès was a tad surprised.

“When I was twelve, we shared our apartment with two families; The Roux, and The Paget-Mullers.” she began, “The Roux Family had Madame et Monsiuer Roux, their youngest son, their daughter, and their oldest son, as well as Monsieur Roux’s father and mother. There was also Monsieur Paget and Madame Muller, who had their two children.

Inès gave but brief pause to allow Reyna to comprehend the absurdity of cramming thirteen people into the space of what was approximately a kitchen.

“...Oh my….” And it did take a pause for Reyna to digest that information, to put into perspective thirteen people in a single small room. The entire concept was absurd, but considering how much detail Inès told her about who was there this was not an exaggeration. Therefore, it was a reality that Reyna never knew. The first thought, however, was the hygiene.

“That has to be really dirty and unsanitary! I can understand living like that for a short time in bad times, but for years?” The thought made Reyna look at her pants again. As squeaky clean as they were going to get it seemed, so next was undergarments. “How did you clean yourselves and not get sick?”

“The yard.” Inès answered. Subconsciously...Inès was going to be more than a little amused telling the tale of the tenement yard.

“We have a central yard in the tenement where we the water pump is. Everyone uses the water pump there to do their laundry and bathe out in the yard.” she explained, “You take water from the pump and use the furnace in the basement to get it hot, then you use that hot water to wash your clothes in the yard. Sort of like we’re doing.

“It’s the same if you want to take a bath. You have to get someone else to help you carry the hot water to one of the bathtubs in the yard, then you bathe until the water either gets too cold or too dirty.”

“So...outside with little to no privacy.” Reyna concluded. “I’m no stranger to others in the bath or wash area, but that’s a little much. At least you had a way to be clean...”

“Yeah.” she nodded.

Truth be told...Inès had very little left to say on the subject. She could go off on some manner of pitiful tangent on how difficult it was, or how it was to be a Darcsen in the cramped city...yet, such pitiances would be both nonsensical and rather errant; Inès was never of the opinion that she was necessarily entitled to anything greater. She would spare Reyna the moaning and groaning of that conversation...if also because she had little use to complain, herself.

“Geez, I’m sorry you had to live in such horrid conditions….” Reyna responded with a frown. “You should definitely see the country when we’re not in a big war. I think you’d like it. Fresh air, lots of privacy, and small peaceful communities. Quiet aside from sometimes hearing dumb tractors.”

“With what money?”

“Hmm, maybe from what you get in the army? Or...well I don’t know what you exactly want to do but maybe that letter father wanted me to hand out to everyone in the squad could have something?” Reyna thought. “Father has been known to give opportunities to those with talent, no matter who they are. He’s...one with older views than I but he doesn’t let that affect his business.”

She couldn’t help it; Inès was a bit of a cynic, even by her own admission. And in such earnest self-admission, doubt arose at the mention of some manner of opportunity, for she knew well that with opportunity also came cost. If anything...it resonated, such that she felt as though her words went through one ear and out the other. Yet, Inès knew - as Reyna made ever clear - she wasn’t one to spread malice. And certainly, with opportunity came cost, but also came profit...and enticement.

Well..she couldn’t help but be curious. And a slight questioning would do nothing to harm her, if Reyna were to offer. Yet, miracles she did not expect.

“What do you mean?” she asked, a pique of curiosity coming over her.

“My father wants me to hand out a bunch of letters to those near me, namely squadmates. I have the feeling it contains more than just him asking to keep me safe or something, as corny as it is.” Reyna only guessed that was what it contained, but none-the-less she was going to do what her father asked. “If he thinks someone has the talent to make his company better and bring in more money, he will at least give an offer and even pay for travel expenses. I’m not sure what those contain exactly, but it wouldn’t hurt to read it.” Reyna tried to explain, though she felt her explanation was lackluster as she reached into her bag that was nearby and plucked out one of the letters and offered it to Inès. It was very obvious from the look on Reyna’s face that she thought the letters were dumb enough as it is, but to hand them to the rest of the squad made her feel like a spoiled brat.

“If someone has the talent”...? If Inès had imagined that to be just what she presumed, then she was rather...cynical of the fact. Though...it did not go without that same curiosity. Savate was generally ill-known outside of a more dedicated crowd, and Reyna herself likely knew little about the intrigue that was Inès’ career. That was, unless-...

“Wait, have-...” Inès raised an eyebrow, dashing her eyes over the letter, then back to Reyna.

“Have you…heard of me??”

“Hmm, I’ve vaguely heard your name before, but I don’t know if you’re of the same circumstances. Only in passing.” Reyna thought hard. “I don’t really keep up with those martial art things myself so I know next to nothing, but that’s how your last name is vaguely familiar.”

(“Shit...i’ll need to find out just who she is…”)

Inès nodded, wiping her hands on her camisole to rid themselves of water once and for all. She rose, appreciation coming about her otherwise stoic demeanor.

“Well. Thanks.” she responded, briefly walking over to her bag. As she knelt down and undid its buckles and belts, Inès was sure to open a second, thinner compartment within her satchel, stuffed there with an assortment of other varied letters, snippets, drawings, and other documents.

And among them, a little something...familiar.

Inès retrieved it, plucking its leather-bound cover from its confines...and smiled. She then walked over to Reyna, a light smile clear upon her face. She gave an awkward half-chuckle, then presented Reyna’s little book back to her.

“You…forgot this at the Inn… She laughed.

At first, Reyna didn’t know what Inès was doing. Curiosity kept her watching until Inès pulled out that little book that she wrote in. It may have been a plain blue book, but to Reyna, especially seeing it in another’s hands, it was the most embarrassing little book in her life. A great red tint came across Reyna’s face as she hurriedly grabbed the book, now feeling like she was about to die of embarrassment. It was clear: at least Inès knew what dirty secrets that book contained.

“Uhhh…...thanks. But uh...this is a little embarrassing…” Reyna stuttered. “....Did…..someone else….see?” She was almost afraid of the answer.

Inès giggled at her reaction to the reunion of her and her glorious collection of questionably-written pornographic content, starring the cast and crew of Squad 1 itself. And fear not, Inès knew full well that, perhaps inadvertently, Reyna had scored Inès a most pleasurable night with the ever-so-lovely Freya Baines. Of course, that meant that the contents of her book were kept with the most outwardly sociable - as well as possessive of the thinnest content filter - member of their lively band.

“You’ll be fine.”

There were some things that Reyna was better off not knowing.

She didn’t like that answer at all, but there was little that could be done with it. Quietly tucking away the book back into her bag, Reyna contemplated her decisions now. Was those nights she felt...unladylike all going to destroy her in the future?! She didn’t know the answer of that, but nothing could be done about it now. She goofed, and at least this explained why the book was missing when she improvised a dance with Jean.

“ Uhh, if they don’t know...I guess I will be fine. Uhh, I hope it’s not too awkward. I...just kinda have needs too, no thanks to those nights at the inn….”

“Maybe i’ll tell you about it the next time we get leave.” Inès laughed, holding off on any additional comment on, “Giving her new writing material.”

September 27, 1914






Compared to back then, Reyna's sleep was not the best. In a warzone, she always had to be ready for anything to come up. The scout team went that off to do their mission that morning while Reyna was still snoozing. The shell, although it shook the ground, was far from her so when she did wake up she was not among the injured. It was when the scout team came back that Reyna started to be truly worried.

There was Ines, Luke, Jean, and Victoria, but where was Thomas? Where was the nice Oceanic guy? It was only moments before she saw what Victoria was carrying: the body of Thomas, whom was missing a leg. It was not moving..... Reyna froze as she spotted this. She saw many bodies of the dead, even in the gas attack. The civilians they talked to simply....dead. However, nothing hit her as hard as the nice Oceanic guy not moving and obviously now gone from this world. By the Valkyrur and every other god there could be, she didn't know how to deal with this. She should have talked to him more, she should have went with them, she....

No Reyna, stop that. Reyna had to remind herself. The first time she ever showed visible worry and sadness before the others was this moment. Why? She wasn't there when he died but the others were. Why was this hitting her this hard? Suddenly the words of McGriffin rang in her mind again. You weren't guaranteed to survive no matter how trained you were, how elite you were. How...veteran you were. It came to both luck and skill, but not just your's. It also was the enemy's....

And for the first time Reyna was starting to understand the plight of the lower enlisted truly. Even as one herself at the Hill helping with artillery, after even the act of killing and seeing the death of countless others, she finally fully understood. They weren't just fighting for a country, fighting to push back the Imperials. We're fighting to survive. She spotted Luke making an announcement to soldiers about the Green Fox and attempting to rile them up and paint him as a martyr. But how many more "martyrs" were there? Those on the cavalry charge, those on the hill, all of those who fought before them and died. Inevitably, there was going to be more and no amount of glory would be worth it all. That did not mean they couldn't be proud of their service and their accomplishments, but glory was often fickle.

Reyna attempted to step away from such thoughts, now leaning onto partial wall and gathering her thoughts. She couldn't let anyone see her like this...not in this state. She had to be calm, but it was a difficult thing to do. She started taking deep breaths, breathing in and out. She could mourn later, but right now she needed to stay calm. Something could happen at any moment in this foreign city.

@LetMeDoStuff

September 26, 1914




Another love letter. And another, then another then another! This is getting silly! Reyna thought as she gazed upon another letter, again from Daniel. Geez, how many can one guy write?! Of course he was not the cause of all of the love letters, but he definitely made a portion of them. How many did this make from him? Ten? Twenty? She lost count after five. By the end of it all, Reyna will have thirty letters solely dedicated to being love letters. Out of that thirty, Reyna will later burn twenty-five of them in frustration.

Then, she heard a voice. Diana's voice to be specific. Reyna turned her head to see the giggling girl offering her cookies. Nothing ever beats homemade cookies so Reyna looked up at Diana with a smile of her own and a small sigh of relief. Cookies are always nice, especially homemade ones! "Thank you!" Reyna said as she took a cookie and lightly bit it, continuing to munch on the cookie while she talked to Diana. However, what came next was surprising.

Diana told her about Jean's confession. Wait a minute....herself, Diana, and Kalisa? He likes all three of them? Geez, Jean is really wanting a lot of girls just like the older days, isn't he? Reyna didn't know how she felt about that just yet. She didn't really want a relationship right this minute and she doubted she'd want one until she knew she was going to survive. That and to make sure it's not an immediate squad leader which could impair judgement on the field. Then again, there have been times where people loved each other so much they performed better on the field. However, Reyna didn't think the latter would happen, at least not yet. Time will tell, but Jean would have to talk to her himself. Randall, her father, wouldn't exactly be the happiest if she got hooked up with a Darcsen, but he also wouldn't discourage it either. "So that's why he kissed me on the forehead that night...thanks for telling me Diana. I was suspecting it myself for a while." At least this provides opportunity to have a little more entertainment and fun involving Jean....and probably not the entertainment he dreams of at night. She wondered what he had to do to deal with it. Boys will be boys.... Reyna thought to herself.

Soon, the subject changed to her letters and the burning of such. "Oh believe me, I am very tempted to. Random people giving me love letters is too annoying. This Daniel guy I specifically want to strangle." Reyna sighed with annoyance and a clenched fist, not even reading the guy's letters anymore at this point. She looked at Diana in the corner of her eye, a small smirk forming on her face as she ate the cookie and looked at Diana stifling a giggle. "Go ahead and laugh. I know how silly this looks! Reyna said with a small, barely stifled giggle, her hand moving to her mouth to cover said giggle. The attention, soon, turned towards the stack of letters from her father, Randall. "Yeah it is. Go ahead and take one of them. Father wants me to hand it out to some people in my unit anyway." Reyna said before answering Diana's questions. "Momma's Melissa. I got my hair 'n nose from her. And I'm not privy to all of my dad's business trips but he did take a few trips over to Edinburgh before and he attends a lot of high-end business meetings in Vinland. Maybe your dad met him on one of those?" Reyna spoke this with a thicker accent than usual, but only slightly. Reyna occasionally dipped into that accent from time to time, mostly when she was either concentrating or nervous.

Then, it was about tea and a drinking contest as Reyna listened to Diana. She stopped reading one of the letters for a second and looked at Diana in the eyes, who was a munching on a cookie. "Sure. I don't mind teaching you or anyone really. It's just momma's recipe. As for the dance I'm always happy to help. Though now I am curious: were there any stakes when you lost and why was the dance so embarrassing?" Reyna couldn't recall everything that night off the top of her head but there was no harm in asking questions.

Finally, there came the pendant. Reyna saw both Gavin and Rebecca, Diana's parents. This put a smile on Reyna's face as Reyna commented "Aww, they look like good people!" Reyna did not notice Diana's blushing, but she did hear the "crap" that came from her mouth. By this point Reyna simply put down the current letter and adjusted herself to face Diana a little more before asking with a little concern "Something wrong, Diana?"

@Landaus Five-One

September 11, 1914




Well, it certainly became very interesting by the time Reyna was done with the day. And it certainly seemed that Jean himself enjoyed the dancing that they did. Of course, that wasn't all that Reyna did, for she also invited Diana to dance with her after Jean went to rest. Really, the whole time she was dancing was really fun, even though Reyna's eyes drifted a little to Diana's features while they danced, baser thoughts taking over for only a moment. The features in question were nice, but Reyna enjoyed the dancing far more than anything the thoughts gave her. They, however, made her curiosity for what she liked grow, and that question was still left largely unanswered for the rich young lady.

What came after the dance, however, was both sweet and surprising. He commented how he enjoyed the dance and didn't know that she knew how to dance so wonderfully. I hope I can, because I always liked to dance since I was a little girl. She thought to herself before Jean kissed her on the forehead. The move took Reyna off-guard and by surprise, with herself not even registering what happened until after Jean left, her mind processing it all. How she felt afterward? Awkward. On the one hand, it was a very nice gesture and showed appreciation to her. On the other hand.....

Reyna had no particular feelings for Jean other than being his friend and comrade in arms, but neither was the move entirely unwelcome. It was a sign that Jean was feeling better at least. She wasn't entirely sure what the kiss meant. It wasn't anything on her lips, cheek, or even her hand as was customary in some scenarios. Well...Francians are kind of a romantic culture and I don't know much about Darcsen culture either, so this could be one of their traditions from either? Either way, it was not part of her own, which only contributed to her confusion. Was this what she thought it was, a culture thing, or was this something else?

Oh no....my book is gone. Darn it! Reyna returned to her seat to see that the book she had open was now missing. As the book was unmarked and didn't have her name on it she'd be fine even if someone got it and read it, but this unnerved her all the same. All of that dance and distraction....for nothing. No, there was something at least: everyone enjoyed it. That was the last thought as Reyna closed her eyes and went to sleep, oblivious of what will happen the next day.



September 12, 1914

I will not forget this day. I can't forget this day even if I wanted to. The gas was horrible. Outside the window, I watched someone who was shockingly similar to what I look like die outside in the most horrible fashion. Choking, vomiting her own guts out. I couldn't even help her. All I did was stand there shaking before I remembered the piece of equipment they issued us back at the supply depot. The masks....that's what they were for. To protect us from inhaling the gas and meeting the same fate.

We escaped the Inn. I don't know what happened to the civilians, but I hope they made it out or are at least ok. However, what came after the inn was worse. The Imperial soldiers caught in the gas was not as fortunate to have masks. I...had to kill a few of them that were crying out in desperation. All of this death...for what? Ragnite? Ideals? Whatever it is, it's horrifying for us on the ground. This is nothing like the propaganda says about glory, given I knew that was just propaganda. I knew that there was more to it. Now, I feel like I know what it actually is.

All of this deathdealing...ever since that first kill a few days ago its...been getting easier? I don't want it to get easier. It makes me feel like a murderer. But it's easier to pull the trigger, think it's nothing personal. It isn't personal. It's life or death. I'm not sure how I'll sleep tonight, but I am sure I'll manage somehow. I have to, for my comrades and my family are counting on me doing so. I have to remain strong and provide an example for those who are faltering. After all, father told me that's what those in the upper echelons of society do, and that includes me.





September 26, 1914.


So many letters. Too many letters. One trip to get mail and what Reyna received was an entire bag full of the envelopes. Some of them were genuine others...less so. One person, her father, made enough for the entire squad and herself even. It was annoying, but she'd need to read all the letters that were for her.

And of course, the first letter she picked up was a love letter. From....someone she didn't even know. What was this crap?! She wasn't interested in a "Daniel Alford." Quite the opposite, actually. So much flowery language was loaded in that letter that Reyna got tired of reading it. Goodness, she'd have to do something about that letter, but they did take the time to write it. She'd feel bad if she just chucked it into a fire.

The ones she did pay the most attention to were those from her father, mother, and her friends. One letter in particular was from Eleanor, asking how she was doing and stating she was worried about her, wanting her to come back home so they could hang out again. This one made Reyna smile. Her mother, Melissa, sent her one that was particularly encouraging and heart-warming, as well as telling her to watch out for the men, for soldiers were in her words "notorious for having relations under the sheets with women." A slight blush later, but it was a happy one. She loved her mother even if she is embarrassing sometimes. There was even chocolate attached, made by mother!

A letter from her brother John told her that he was enlisting in the Vinland Army as an officer, and wished her luck, pleading that she makes it through the war. This came as a surprise to Reyna, and she didn't know how she felt about her brother also joining the war effort. At least Jacob was not enlisting, otherwise she'd be even more worried.

All of these letters were at a table that Reyna found and set herself up at to read and write, the sheer amount of paper making her look silly she thought. Apparently, Britta was cooking which was fine with her. Reyna didn't think she herself was a bad cook, but she could certainly use work given the experience she did have. However good of a cook Britta was, it certainly couldn't be worse than-

No, don't you dare think about it. You'll jinx everything. Reyna thought as she looked up, taking her journal into her hands and flipping through the pages. There was still plenty of room left in it, but she was certainly going to need another journal by the time the year was done. She couldn't think about the alternative...of not needing it at all.

@LetMeDoStuff@Yam I Am@Landaus Five-One

September 11, 1914




September 10, 1914

Well, I can't say I saw this coming. We've arrived at an inn called the "White Hart Inn." And oh wow there was so much here. Baths, good food, and even good wine. All of it isn't as good as home, but compared to what we've been going through out there? It's a sanctuary. The first thing I did? Go straight for a bath. Ugh, I hate filth so much! Clean and healthy is the way to go! Some of the others talked to those Imperials that were here, who told us this was neutral territory: an unspoken rule of war. Reminds me of the unspoken rules in a meeting place honestly. We even met someone new: some Oceanic girl that I don't remember the name of.

Well, either way when we settled in everyone started drinking. That's when everything started to get crazy. And geez, didn't they get drunk! I'm not sure whether it is because they want a port in the storm to have fun or if they were always like that. Either way, there's going to be a lot of hangovers in the morning, not that I will be one of them.

However, with alcohol apparently comes sex. There were at least three times, if not more, that I heard the cries of pleasure in some room or another. Familiar voices too. I have to admit it made me flustered and made my thoughts improper for a lady. Must have affected Jean too, because when I asked him a question to test his response, he responded in a suspicious way. Not the bad way but still. He views me as something, but what I do not know. Maybe the consistent sounds of sex clouded his mind? Either way he's not telling anything to me directly. At least my tea served to make everyone but some of the horny happy and I got a few free things from the inn's generosity.

Before I went to my room to retire for the night, I went ahead and bought a couple of wine bottles. One was a 90 year old bottle and another was a 69 year old. Let's hope that I will someday be able to taste both.





Sitting in a chair in a corner table and reading a certain book she wrote herself, Reyna drank yet more tea she made for herself. A pitcher on the table and a cup with some ice was all she needed. It was a good thing she bought that wine last night, for Jean put in a prohibition on alcohol. She, however, did not think that the more resourceful members of the squad would have any problem with either bribing or smuggling a little alcohol on the side if only to have a drink. Sure, they may not drink to get drunk but they did not need to anyway. After all, they might have forgotten the night before but they were in a war zone. There was no such thing as a truly safe place.

Reyna could not exactly understand the situation developing beyond her corner, but it seemed that some of her squad mates were taking care of the issue. It involved Diana, and even she could sense the sadness when she looked over. Reyna noted to go to Diana later and ask if everything was ok, when there were not a "dozen" people crowded around her. However, it came to a surprise...or relatively so, when Jean approached her corner.

....Oh crap. Reyna quickly thought as she looked at the book that was open. It was....not the best book for someone to look at. Quickly putting the book on a nearby chair, although still open, Reyna looked at Jean and studied him for a few moments. "Morning." She said with a small smile, hoping that Jean will not lean too much toward her and see the contents of the book in the chair. That tea better be! Otherwise I wouldn't have any pride as a Vinlander woman. She thought to herself as her tea was mentioned. Her mother taught her how to make it, after all, and it seemed the tea met the expectations or went beyond them with everyone that took a drink of it.

Suddenly, things got serious. How she felt about risking her life in dark tunnels? Terrified. There was nothing in the world that Reyna would rather do than go into a dark tunnel to set some explosives up somewhere filled with guns that could kill her. However, this was also something she signed up for. She wasn't going to admit she was scared at all. Her father taught her she needed to be confident in everything she did, even if it was only on the outside. Jean may have promised that promise he made at Garnia, but Reyna knew in her heart that violence bred terrible things, and she signed up knowing this. It was impossible to keep her from seeing such things, the cavalry charge and her first close-up kill the day before proved that, but his concern was greatly appreciated all the same.

With a confident smile, at least on the outside, Reyna spoke "Jean, I can handle it. You don't have to worry about sending me in some tunnel. I'll come out on top, even if you do have to send me in completely alone. I'm a trained soldier, and I'll see it through to the end. It's what I signed up for, anyway. Besides, father wouldn't let me go if he didn't think I could handle it all." Well, if this continued this would be too serious of a subject. She didn't want to think about her potential doom or being shot by a machine-gun. Instead she wanted to worry about the book that Jean could potentially discover. Quickly, Reyna looked for an out of this and discovered it: a phonograph! There's no doubt a few songs for it. And....oh she knows how to dance a little. Combined with the feelings she suspects Jean has of her and.....

"Hey, come on, let's dance! I know a few of these songs!" Reyna said as she stood up, went over to the phonograph, got a good, fast paced song on there, then went over to Jean and grabbed his wrist, tugging him in an attempt to take the lead and distract him from her private possessions.

@LetMeDoStuff

September 10, 1914




Upon entering the room, Reyna immediately saw the state that Jean was in. The first thing she noticed was his hair. It was quite messy and although one shouldn't have too many expectations when entering someone's private room Reyna couldn't help but have a few as she gazed at the Francian. Furthermore, it looked like he was having a rough time unlike....those others that she heard. It was a sharp contrast to the smiles and drinking contests downstairs, which worried her. Well, if she could make everything better with the tea she brought then it will at least be worth coming up here. With a small but friendly smile she poured tea for Jean and awaited the result.

Jean smiled. A smile was a wonderful thing for a person to have, but it seemed that her tea at least made someone happy from an otherwise gloomy existence. "Yes, thank you. I am glad that the fine tea I have made for everyone exceeds your expectations." Reyna spoke more softly and elegantly than she did when she was outside in the field. She didn't know what to say about the remembrance of home, especially since she vaguely recalled that he didn't have a home to go to. However, good memories were still good memories and she hoped that this tea caused such things instead of driving Jean to that despair again.

Letting him take and set the tray down, Reyna was by far not prepared for what was to come next. He hugged her! Her mind processed the intention seconds before it happened and although welcoming of hugs, Reyna did not know where this came from. She smiled and hugged him back, but at the same time she couldn't help but feel a little awkwardness inside as she did so. It was only a second later before she registered that Jean was speaking to her. A thanks for a lot of things she has done? ...What did I do besides smile and deliver tea? This confused Reyna right before everything started making sense. He was depressed about the potential future that he has, that he has nothing to go back to or look forward to. He wanted someone to lean onto, not that Reyna thought she was the best person for the job of comforting people. However, the wealthy often were looked up to as the elite and examples of success and as such she still had to perform that duty of giving people someone to look up to. "Yes, I can clearly tell that you had a lot of emotion pent up inside you. But I am glad the tea helps sooth that pain." Reyna delicately agreed.

She wasn't going to tell him not to hug her, she liked hugs like most people, but when he let go she certainly let herself have her personal space back from the surprise hug. Then, he mentioned the sounds that she heard, including an especially loud woman. She knew what it meant and the thought of what was going on inside that bathroom and/or bedroom or rooms made her cheeks redden slightly as she replied with a giggle "Yes, it seems there are plenty of people in the squad that like the act of sex in the most private...or partially private places." The sound of a woman was somehow more audible to her as a thought crossed her mind. Nightmare? You're right about that. It's making me hot at the wrong time....Ok I really need to stop with these fantasies. She really shouldn't be thinking thoughts like this. She was a woman with standards, not one who gives into their base instincts so freely. Regardless, Reyna smiled despite her own shame at the turmoil inside her. "Yes...let us hope one of the women will not be bearing a child. It would be very problematic."

The next sentence, however, gave Reyna an alarm bell. It might have been the activity that was going on around them, but Reyna felt something was up, especially with how Jean was speaking. Someone in particular. Hmm... it's probably the happenings around us. It wouldn't be the first time a boy..or girl had those kinds of thoughts. Slowly putting her right arm on her hip and putting more weight on her right leg, Reyna spoke carefully. "You're welcome! I'm very happy to be friends with you and everyone in this squad, but just how important is a wealthy woman to this 'someone in particular?'" Reyna gave a small but mischievous smile as she tilted her head slightly, with the intention of doing what her mother always did to her: tease, and usually with this very stance that Reyna herself is taking. Annnnd let's see how he reacts. He might be wanting to stick that erect little soldier in at this moment. Not that that's gonna happen. Of course, Reyna was a little embarrassed herself and had a urge to not do what she was about to do but she didn't let that show. After all, it was only one friend and comrade she at least semi-knew that she was dealing with that needed some cheer in his step.

@LetMeDoStuff
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