Then with as many people as we do have for the Rainbow angle I'll get things set up for the Seven story as well as the trial operation. As said before it is likely going to start in a S.A.S. facility where the squad will get introduced to each other IF they don't know each other already and I'll work on an OP. If you have any relations to the ops like Ghost does then it might be a good time to introduce those relations.
Because we are working from the Rainbow angle we will be seeing collaborations with Rainbow Six. When I get the new OP I'll link the thread here and there you can post your full character sheets. I look forward to working with you. and of course we will have operators from the Silver Octopus Legion who we will face off against as the time comes.
That is more than fine. Rainbow is what I expected anyway but I figured the terrorist option could have been an interesting angle for people to play with. In the end Seven and Legion will be gunning for each other. With time they'll become more aware of each other but Seven will discover Legion well before Legion can get anything solid on Seven.
I had ideas planned for both but at least with Rainbow Seven we'll have things starting with Smoke and Thatcher giving a rundown in an S.A.S. facility about further details of their job and what they should expect on their trial operation as well as the general tests before deployment. It's a joint operation thing although I've considered changing the name of Rainbow Seven so it is more distinct but I think it will do the job fine as well. I'm sure Ghost will fit in just fine. Maybe have a little banter with the experienced ops.
I'm happy to hear that all of you have such interest.
I will then ask which direction you'd like to play from or if you'd like the possibility of doing both.
I would also like to take this time to answer what possible concerns or questions you might have regarding the thread and may soon after work on setting up a discord for ease of access communication.
I already have a basic concept that I'll be working on for an operator I'll be calling "Flak" whose job is to simply provide plating like Rook for the purpose of reducing the effectiveness of explosives against the team.
This will be focused on being able to operate from either the perspective of counter terrorist or terrorist units. It is possible to delve into playing as both, although we will pick one to begin and either side will be capable of offense and defense. It is advisable to create two operators although the same operator can be used for either.
I would also like to say that it could be possible to use existing operators but whether or not they will be used permanently is up in the air. As it would be preferable to upkeep your own unique operators.
Anime style or realistic is allowed for profiles although I would prefer it if your character age is 22+ with the exception of 18+ for recruits of either Rainbow or Octopus. I would rather this be the exception than the norm but if you can make it work then it may just be allowed.
Chaos erupts in the street as news reporters give their daily warnings and plead for citizens to take refuge in their homes. The operations commenced by terrorist groups and counter operations conducted by various specialist units are at an all time high.
Your task force is assembled from all over the world. You bring your own talents, strengths, and experience. Some of you are as fresh as they come but with potential. Hand picked by various commanders and trusted under a new name. Rainbow Seven.
Together, you will find the means necessary to eliminate the White Masks. Although fledgling, we believe you will be one of many units which will be capable of handing these merciless fiends. I will be your director.
Although our efforts have been recognized by our superiors, we have yet to gather the necessary materials to forward our plans for the future. With special operators on our heels we have found struggle in our cause. The government rallies the people against us, but our own friends speak highly of us in our efforts against the corrupt regimes.
As you know, we have been selected to prevent the collapse of crucial holdings and to ensure the capture of vital resources. To avenge our fallen, to prevent the total control by the governments of the world, and to provide a better future for those to come we must strike with undying strength.
We fight for true liberty and to end these needless assaults against our people. The end of censorship, the end of systematic oppression, the rebirth of an age of truth forged from the flames of war!
I have been assigned to be your director. Call me Legion. My specialists, you are the finest we have. We award you for your bravery. We salute you for your merits. Be proud to wear the title of Silver Octopus. I worked my way to my position and in time may it be so that you too are a part of this grant movement. And for those of you among us who have recently adopted your white masks, be proud. You are the bright future of our growing cause.
It is because of you specialists that we can afford to direct funding to the poor who have been neglected. We can give to those who have nothing. We are the bright new future for those who have been oppressed by the elites of the so called democracies of the world. It is because of you that I can rest easy knowing my daughter will get the education and supplies she deserves.
I know that not all that we have done has been ethical, and even now you may have doubt, but trust in the White Masks. You have seen how we help those in need. You know how the media keeps our good deeds in the dark. Let us free those prisoners stuck in their daily jobs being worked to the bone for less than enough to feed themselves, let alone their families, and may it be that together… we can calmly put an end to our unethical deeds.
Brothers, sisters, children of the cause… we will put an end to this chaos… once and for all!
SIEGE is a series of campaigns designed to lead up to major conflicts in a sort of end game. You will play as Operators who will improve with time. You will have your own unique codenames and gadgets with allowance to borrow concepts from existing operators or brand new ones.
What the limit for gadgets would then be is a question of your creativity guided by the possibility presented by Rainbow Six. Weapons may be preexisting although custom weapons may be reviewed for approval.
Should your operator be downed they can be extracted based on circumstance or can be killed.
Romance might be touched on more off objective but it is likely that I will take time to prep maps and objects with objectives and stories. The introduction of counter operators who will exist with their own gadgets, borrowed from other operators or completely new, are to challenge your own.
This will be an RP of planning and execution meaning there will be periods of planning allotted both IC and OOC to give a more realistic feel to the knowledge of the operators you play as as well as the expertise given by Seven and Legion.
At the moment I will consider Intelligence/Supply Points as a way to support operators on offense and defense which will reveal things about the map before or during engagement.
This would come in the form of dropping in care packages, calling in support units based on the map which could include back up units, smoke mortars, sniper support, and other benefits such as active scanning rooms or installing new cameras.
NPCs will be controlled both by myself and you as players.
As mentioned before, I will be taking time to plan maps so in the meantime one of two things can happen.
1: Wait and discuss things while I work on the map [Which could very well be a month or so to produce depending on scale.]
2: Participate with each other on smaller scale operations or general roleplay in downtime to get to know each other better as allies IC while awaiting for deployment.
I know this sounds like a rather ambitious roleplay, but I’ve had the itching to at least get this idea out there. I’d like a minimum of 5 to fulfill the R6 Quota It could be possible that with co-Dms we could set up sub-directors who assist Legion and Seven with managing their collective groups and if the numbers aren’t high enough to commit a full 5 team to the sub groups then they can be enabled to work with adjustment to difficulty so to speak.
If we so desire and if we have the appropriate number of co-dms we could probably just make siege attempts with lower numbers in mind.
This RP will include a grey morality for both organizations so if you're not a fan of the bad guys having redeemable qualities or the good guys having shady history then this is not the RP for you.
The pace of this RP will be slower than others and will operate in rotations (first, second, third, etc) and hybrid (order of posting and collaboration of posted based on the circumstances)
Franz opened his eyes to witness a darkness in the world around him. With a grunt he sat up, feeling his wound. It was leaking blood. It was cold, the temperature of the room- or maybe his body, freezing him as he got up and went to wake up Lucia. A hand was placed upon her shoulder, shaking her before rolling her over to her back from her side and looked into her cold glazed eyes. He staggered back, staring at the dry blood on her lips and throat with a wound visibly open. He grabbed his rifle, checking the room methodically with his heart pounding in a blaze. Wha-what did this?!
He checked Michael's bunk, pulling the covers only to find the man coated in barbed wire. The blood oozed off of the mattress and onto his boots, making the man's heart punch his throat "Michael..." He whispered, slowly turning his head with his free hand and noticed his eyes were missing. More shock. What had happened here?! A groan came from the confused man as he felt his wound and pressed against the wound after it began to spray blood. "Fuck!" He cursed under his breath, shifting to the door and taking a bullet from his magazine, shoving it into the hole with what bandages he could gather from the corpses. His mind was all over the place as he restrained from screaming. He had to stay calm... Stay... stay calm... the enemy had to be here. He didn't know when they got in but it was the only logical answer. Why they didn't kill him... maybe they... the wound? did that save him? Either way, he couldn't let him drag him down now... He had to... survive.
Pushing past the door and into the corridor of dimly lit and flickering lights he surveyed the halls, listening as he slowly stepped over pools of blood and gore. The stench was horrid! Letters with no meaning were written on the walls. Numbers in his head confused him as he tried to recollect what had happened prior. He began to shiver. It was beginning to feel cold again. He moved faster, checking his corners and moving toward the exit hoping that nothing would be in his way. If he was alone against the federation he would have no way of surviving... Think... Think... A corpse? Maybe he could pretend to be one, rag doll if he came across any guards... No... No that probably wouldn't work. Why would a random corpse be laying around? He sighed quietly, pushing into the trenches beyond the exit.
His eyes were met with ashes. He had to blink, wiping the dust away as he crouched down and held himself against the wall. He blinked rapidly, needing to adjust to the lighting and becoming wide eyed at the blood red sky... Was this? He began to lose himself, gritting his teeth together as he tried to think of something else.
"Upon the hill was a silver lamb who's fleece was white as snow. Her legs were strong and her mind was too, no shepard would leave her be." He began, whispering to himself as he inched forward. Step after step he made his way to the corner of the wall and noticed the piles of bodies laying about... The Federation... as far as his eyes could see there was just body after body. Blood pool after blood pool. Guns, ammo, equipment, and helmets scattered about with no sign of the empire anywhere.
"S-she hopped th-th-the fence and felt the w-wi-wall-wind! Wind! She felt the wind! It's warmth in her coat." He shakily continued, feeling the cold creeping behind him again. He crouched down, thinking about Markus... about Amber... His vision was distorted for the moment, thinking about the people he loved and lost. His breathing was off but after thinking of their smiles and love he felt his vision return to normal as he quietly went prone and crawled by the bodies, watching vultures land and feed. Breathe in... Breathe out...
"She knew her friends. She knew her enemies. Within the range of the village she roamed."
Footsteps clapped against the ground and he went rag-doll, listening to the sounds of men speaking inaudibly. He kept his eyes opened, faking a glazed look as the steps continued. A boot landed in front of him, shifting and touching his face. It pushed his nose, tilting his face to face the sky. He allowed the boot to move him, offering no resistance as it held him there. There was a face... covered... by some kind of... mask? It breathed oddly, sounds of hissing as it tilted its head and removed its boot from him. Soon there was more chatter, the figure looking to something else before walking away with the other voices.
Franz laid there quietly, tears beginning to form as he felt another innocence slipping away from him. Once silence embodied the world again he slowly came up to a prone stance again, looking around himself to see nothing had changed. He crawled faster this time, unwilling to take another chance with his fingers becoming fuzzy. His entire body felt like it wanted to lock up with that cold feeling crawling into his feet. Faster he went, making it to the trenches and checking it quickly before throwing himself inside with a quiet slide.
"H-her value unhind... um... her value... her value was...her..." He began to choke, forgetting the words before sitting down to think of Amber again. "Her value insurmountable. Her love undying." He continued, opening his eyes to see Jean in front of him. Or at least, his head. Franz vomited, feeling even more shaky as he tried to take in the dismemberment as best he could. He needed a minute to breathe, coming closer to the head to grab a note sitting atop the man's head.
"Franz, if you're reading this then that means you've made it. I'm sorry I had to leave this here, but it was the only place that I could. I left in such a rush and I'm thankful I wasn't buried that deep. If you want to make it alive, you need to follow me. Hurry Franz. They'll be coming for you and the cold is going to worsen. Climb the hill, I'll see you soon... Mila Wagner..."
The man couldn't register his emotions properly, he didn't know how to feel or even what it was that was stirring inside him, but all it took was a single flake to land on his hand to tell him that the cold was coming.
Step after step he rushed up the hill, looking at the bodies on the way up and felt thankful that he had become somewhat numb to them although he pondered briefly if that was a good thing. Before he questioned his sanity he returned to the story.
"She visited the other sheep, she ran to greet the farmer, she was fed a special treat from the local bakery and prized was she."
He vaulted over the trench, noticing a soldier crouched in front of him choking a federation soldier on the ground. Without hesitation he punched the turning soldier and pulled out his knife, planting it hard into his heart and twisting before yanking out the blade and throwing the man to the side. He examined the body and found it had no face.
"She... she came to... she... blood... coat... eyes gone... burning in... sky..." He held his head as he heard something from afar. Thumping... then... a...piano?
He turned around quickly to spot the noise, the thumping continuing as a body stepped into view. In a blood stained uniform it came forth from the far end of the trench. Her hands were enlarged, lugging around a artillery in one arm tied to it with barbed wire and held a shell in the other hand, blood coated and flesh exposed in strings as it came closer. Franz froze as she approached, the woman speaking up in a distorted voice. "And when she came to the town there was a celebration, a feast. There was much love and kindness until the day of her golden years. They tied her to the table and they hushed her to sleep as they tore away what fleece she had left." She pulled her head up, abnormally snapping to look at Franz with black holes for eyes.
"M-Melanie..." Franz felt his calm snap, panic taking over as he quickly walked backwards. Shelling dropped onto the hill, the woman simply beginning to walk faster, lugging around the artillery as though it was nothing. He turned quickly, running away with rifle tucked into chest! Panic!
"Th-that's not how the story- it can't- that's-AAAAAAAGH!" He began to scream, running out of view and jumping up to climb out of the trench before barbed wire grew from the ground and cut at his hands. The entire hill was sprouting barbed wire and the trenches below were flooded with blood and snow, the creeping conditions making their way up hill. He held his hands as he jumped back down, spinning left and right before running to make his way further into the maze of a trench. He kept going and pushed with the sound of that dreaded piano and thumping growing. He ran and he ran. He slammed foot after another until he was grabbed by his collar. He turned to see the face. Middleton!
"I told you to head downhill. Are you deaf or dull witted you bloody muppet?!"
An artillery shell hit them both, the lieutenant spraying into gore as Franz felt much of his body scream in pain. Flesh exposed from rips of skin as shrapnel settled into his legs. He was in tact and the wounds not too deep. Mila! "Mila! Mila! Where are you?!" He screamed, desperate to find a way out as he heard the dragging of the artillery behind him. He had to limp and use the walls of the dry blood coated trenches. He pushed and pushed, following the sounds of the piano and eventually making it to the top of the trenches where he heard the piano most clear. There... in the spotlight of the sun was Mila. She continued to play the piano, gliding fingers gracefully with imperials dead around her. Her rifle sat next to the piano, clean and well maintained.
"Mila!" Franz shouted, limping closer with a thud as he fell. Crawling quickly he tried to make sense of the chaos around him. Pushing up he watched a fog form in the air around him, the mist suffocating him with the man in the mask approaching from the apex of the hill, rolling fog following him. The sound of artillery exploding around him as he fell to his side and looked to where he came from. Melanie approached ever so much closer with the dirt being ripped apart while she continued to effortlessly drag the moving piece. He couldn't breathe! It burned his lungs to breathe in the fog and the shrapnel dug into his back from how close it had hit. He felt a hand on his shoulder and recognized the shape. He felt a peace enter him as he grabbed his rifle and prepared it while Mila dragged him out of sight of the two.
"Mila, we need to leave! I'll cover us, ju-"
"You're right... I... They'll hear me if I-"
Her hand pressed against his mouth, forcibly tilting his face to face her own looming structure. Horror struck as her face dripped blood from the shrapnel coated damage. Her eyes were missing. She blinked and suddenly Michael's eyes were in her sockets. "And when the little one was stripped of her value and her sight grew dim they took a blade and brought it to her throat saying 'merry, merry, the end of life begins so that the end of birth can begin.' Life for life. Old for new." The beserker's spirit blazed through what purity there was, the man helpless to watch as she released him and took his knife, swinging into his eye sockets with a scream from the defenselss! Franz awoke with a gasp, pushing himself away from the floor that he had somehow ended up on. For a minute it felt like nothing but hard breathing and coughing... It was quiet, but... The sounds of soldiers moving about. Steps came close to the door, openning it up with Franz still panting and leaning on his elbow.
"Don't jerk it too hard, private. Got a train to catch." The soldier smirked, closing the door and going his way while Franz sat up and looked around... Was it all... just a dream?
Franz marched with a steady neutral expression as he made his way to the back of the group, listening to Middleton speak- well- pretending to anyway. He might had asked the Lieutenant for forgiveness for being distracted when he witnessed a demonic nightmare unfold during the night where the lieutenant exploded into a shower of blood and gore. He might have asked if he could even fathom what Franz was feeling but he had the inclination that perhaps it would be best to keep it to himself. What was he to tell Michael? "Hey friend, I just saw you dead with your eyes in Mila's sockets." Disgusting, honestly. He felt as though he was much weaker, much more frail in his dream. Maybe it spoke of the boy inside who was locked behind an array of defensive layers. He felt everything rather vividly in that dream of his and he could make little sense of what was even happening half the time. What was that cold? What was that fog? Melanie? Wagner? He remembered every detail and it bothered him to an extent that was unsettling especially when he had such good thoughts of the two. Who was the man in the mask and why did he feel like death himself? He had to blink himself out of it after overhearing a conversation.
"What kind of fucking idiot made that asshole, Captain?"
"Hey, at least, he isn't making us walk."
"I'd fucking prefer taking my time on a march than ride straight into hell. Command is so fucking incompetant and I didn't join just to die for them. I'm telling you, the moment I get a chance I'm getting out of here."
"You won't. Just relax."
"Relax? Yeah, sure. Even when he's pulling people like that Lucia in to have private conversations with... Hey, you think she's fucking him?"
"Would you relax? Don't overthink things. That's only going to get you another bullet in the leg."
"Whatever, where's that pretty girl from the other squad anyway? I'm thinking maybe I could get payment on that favor before I go into hell's reach."
After listening in he passed by the soldiers, pretending not to have heard anything as he waded through the crowd and boarded the train trying to remember what else was said... Well... now he remembered hearing something from Michael. He woke up in the middle of his dream to respond to... the train... Hmmm... Why couldn't he remember that earlier? Was he really that tired? Perhaps. What real-
"Hey Darscen! Quit wasting fucking air and get moving!" That voice from earlier spoke, pushing him along while the man who was with him pulled back the taller man.
"He's in the way!"
Blood began to boil as Franz calmly pulled out his cigarettes and ignored the man, huffing once and pulling out a match to light it... all he needed... was just a little sm-
"Darscen! You hearing me? I said stop fucking around and get going!"
"Charles he's already walking faster than us. Would you leave him be?"
"Hey, you're the one who was talking about those dark hairs, so why don't you take back what you said and we'll be even?"
"But everything I said was true!"
Franz shook his head and li- A punch from the back sent the cigarette flying into the crowd and his eyes flared in an alert state. Blood began to pump and pulses of hatred responded within his own fists. He calmly turned, facing the two gentlemen calmly.
"Charles? Was it?" Franz asked the man, looking up to him with a stone expression.
"Yeah, dark head. I've got a problem with you dragging your feet. I just want you out of my face so get los-" Before he could finish his statement a sudden hook came from Franz's right hand, knocking the man to his back before looking to the more delicate man beside him and wrapped an arm around his shoulders.
"Listen, friend. I don't want any trouble. If he doesn't like me then that's fine. I just don't want him to ruin what time we have left before half of you die in the next battle. Me? I'll survive. I want you to enjoy what time you have left too. So if your friend Charles wants to spend time with his candy girl then tell him he better forget I was even here or I'll tear his scrotum from his worthless body and feed it to him while I slit his throat. And I will smile when they line me up for treason. Understand?"
The other man nodded, listening quietly while others came to break up the encounter.
"What's your name?"
"Francis? Good name." Franz would respond, patting his back and smiling at man sprawled out on the ground before shifting into the crowd. It was a lot of moving about and swapping places with people but in time he made it onto the cart without so much as an NCO stopping him in his tracks. He stopped between carts for a quick smoke break, taking in the sweet sweet smoke before puffing it out for a few minutes. The stress, nightmare, thoughts of all the bodies he would see would burn away with every huff and once he felt he was stable he forced the fire to die and saved the rest of the stick for later... It was time... A good time at that to finally talk to the squad.
Franz walked in briefly after Jean had spoke, showing a more solid version of the man he was when he gave his report and was back to seeming more reserved and fortified mentally. He approached with a steady pace and stood with shoulders wide, a hand in the pocket, and his other clasped together as if he was holding one of his sticks and looked to the band of men. It didn't take very long for him to simply chuckle and try to throw in his own personality.
"I see you boys can't get enough of polishing your equipment. Couldn't even wait to get to the next stop. I suppose not everyone has the restraint to do it at a decent hour." The joke was crude, sure, but it was common for such crude humor to be accepted universally. "Forgive me for the crude humor. Just thought I'd lighten the mood a bit further. I haven't properly introduced myself to the rest of you, but I am Franz Blau. It is my pleasure to serve alongside such fine degenerates." He joked, trying to remember what Markus told him about having a good time with strangers as he walked to shake the hands of Issac, patting the shoulder of Michael, and finally shaking Jean's hand if they allowed.
Upon noticing the promotion he smirked. "Moving up in the world are we corporal? And your lady friends? Not keeping them for yourself are you? Maybe invite them to join us? And..." Franz became a bit more serious as his tone reflected it, eyes narrowing a bit as he tightened his grip. "If you need anything, come to me. Darscen look out for one another. I don't care what it is, find me and I'll watch over my brother. Enjoy your life for those who cannot, Jean." He pat his shoulder, moving so he could ask to sit beside Michael.
Franz had been at a loss of words for the longest period. Nothing of his situation spoke of a man who could recover as he sat dwelling on what had been lost. He thought of the many who had died in his life. He thought of old friends who would never again sit with him at the counter at the local distillery with a pack of cigarettes, a bar of chocolate, a hand full of change, and a grin from one cheek to the other. That Doctor Hensel who saved his life and later found himself in the wrong alleyway in those streets of the Federation's slums. That sweet Cleo who was taken by disease after giving him life in yet another dark moment in his life. How many people had to die? How many people needed to be claimed so early?
"To preserve people's future is also a future."
The words echoed once more as he felt that patting give him the reassurance of what he was here for. For those who died... even Mila Wagner and Melanie Vogel... Those who lived... Markus's gang... Franz had forgotten what it was all for. There had to be some reason that he had survived so much. There had to be a reason that he held a thousand scars in the sea of the pure. Was this is purpose? Was this how he achieved that peace? Was his life preserved so he could end up one of the men who would bring an end to these blood thirsty conquests?
Pulses waved through his body! The pain was still there. The memories were still there. He remembered each face perfectly. He remembered their spoken motives well. The memories of his suffering, his recovery, the support he received, and the support he gave.
He could not be weak.
He could not let this end his spirit!
"My... purpose... My future..." He whispered, grinning somewhat as he took the book and stood up, placing a hand on his arm with tears still in the corners of his eyes. "You're right, Michael" He began, his voice increasing to a normal speaking voice with his spirit notably increased. "I-I am alive so that I can give others the gifts that have been given to me." He spoke a little louder towards the end, catching himself with a quick grunt as he looked back to the sleeping Lucia to make sure he didn't accidentally wake her up.
"What about her? Should we wake her up? What's her name, anyway?" He asked, eyes darting before he opened up his book with rejuvenated strength. He wiped his eyes, trying to suppress his sadness as he pulled out his pencil and quickly began to add more features to the drawing, having to stop briefly once to make a slight adjustment before speeding through again. He added details to her cheeks, nose, eyes, hair. He did so with eyes speeding and paused once he had gotten the finer details out of the way and he gently turned his book around slowly. He looked for any potential flaws and made adjustments slowly, wanting to get the picture just right while he waited to see what Michael had to say while he made the best of the lighting and packed it back up to preserve it.
"I'll worry about the colors later. I-I know I seem hyper but... Thank you, Michael. I don't... know how to thank you properly, but maybe I'll draw for you. It's the least I can do." He calmed, slowing down and grabbing his closest hand for a shake. There was still a man who was broken inside, but Michael managed to jump start that man again. There was still much to be done both internally and the people around him but, now, he wasn't incapable of helping anyone anymore and he wanted to make sure none of them would be forgotten.
The man didn't waste much time, nodding to the man before walking to his side and sighing internally. He looked over to Lucia, rubbing his chin for the moment before he quietly sat down and took off his pack. He dug his hand into it and held still for a moment.
There was great hesitation, but eventually his had slid back out with a closed sketchbook. It was fairly new. After opening it he would flip a few pages, spreading the pages with basic information such as name, rank, and a note section below that was empty on the left hand side. On the right hand... A sketch of her that captured her look rather perfectly even if only line art.
"Her... That's... Wagner. I..." His eyes stared into hers, eyebrows furrowing as he remembered how she died. He blinked, closing his eyes tightly before slowly handing the book over to Michael and putting his hands together.
"She... She was a good woman, from what I could tell. A little bit of a temper but a good woman. I wanted to know her. In examining the past I find that I was falling for her if I'm being honest. I didn't think she would throw herself onto me so I wouldn't get hit by the shrapnel from the shell. I didn't think I would hurt so badly and even now I don't know exactly what I feel and what connects to what... I was going to draw the squad individually. I thought it would be a nice gift as I got to know everyone. She'll never get hers."
Franz would hold his face in his hands for a moment, brushing his hair aside as he sighed quietly. Breathe in... Breathe out...
After sitting back up the man looked to Michael, seeming to let his facade fade. "I'll be honest, Michael. I don't have much I care to live for. I haven't felt grief like this in a while and I thought that maybe if I talked to someone I could make some kind of peace with myself... but I guess I wouldn't care if I followed Wagner in the days to come. I don't have a future, hope, dreams of living in some society that will accept me for being a Darscen... and more than anything I can't help but feel like I could have stopped her from dying. I thought about that artillery before she even heard the first shell. I could have grabbed her then and there instead of asking something as fucking stupid as if she had heard of the order to fortify in case of a shelling... She had a future, you have a future, and she does too." He pointed to Lucia for the last point, his voice becoming more emotional as he sat up and looked at the girl for a moment.
"I... have none. So why couldn't it have been me?"
“Why should I be buried like all the others? Why must they all be the same?”
“There is no other way.”
“There is, but it starts with you.”
“...I don’t understand you, sir.”
“Steffen. Call me by my name.”
“Explain to me what you mean, Steffen.”
“Why must it be that when a man dies the clouds turn grey and the light runs dim? Why must it be that when life is out there to live people would rather spend it in death?”
“People hurt, Steffen. They hurt and in the end death is what gives life meaning… or so I’ve been told.”
“Death gives death meaning. Life gives life meaning. When you are happy it is not because death has made it so. You are happy because you are happy. You live because you have more of the same.”
“I still don’t understand.”
“When I am gone, long buried away in the cold dirt and the rain soaked soil, buried in a box far away from home… do not weep for me. Let that be clear. Remember me! Remember Dennis! Remember Rothe! Remember them and be merry as I was!”
“We missed them dearly, brother, how are we to drink and cheer when they are long gone before us?”
“Because it is how they would have wanted you to remember them. It is how I want you to remember and celebrate me. I want to feel the sun against my cheeks when my time is done. I want to hear my friends drinking and being merry as I rot in my box. I want them to, even if they are crying, pour me a drink and tell me how they can’t wait to see me again! That is how I want to die!…. Because… to die any other way…”
The older man placed his hand on the young one’s shoulder, gripping it gently and staring him in the eyes.
“Live your life, Franz. Don’t look back. When all is said and done I want you to not let those scars define you. If you give up because of them… If you keep hurting yourself over them… You put all the effort we poured into you in vain. No matter what you have to promise me you will try. If not for yourself then for the people around you… Try...”
The Cold Front
He had stood there for quite some time, jaded and broken with nothing left. he had no hope, no love, no desire. It hurt so badly to see a woman he was beginning to fall for perish under the weight of shrapnel and overloaded madness. She was so beautiful. She was so young. Melanie and Mila were two very wonderful women who he saw die before him. How many more? He closed his eyes and breathed in, thinking of Steffen's words and how he had tried to respect his wishes. He had felt numbness then too. He felt it now. Yet this was a numbness that was fluctuating hard with sadness as the world took a turn for the worst. Yet...
It took courage. It took a hardness that felt far and long gone from him. It took much strength and in the end he felt broken, but he... he had to try!
Franz looked over to the people in the trench for some kind of guidance. He watched their faces and their hearts. He noted the poorness in their spirits and the overthrown reign of their peace. For some it hurt less than others, but all the same sorrow took hold where it had no place to before. Darkness infected the pure of heart.
Michael... He seemed to still have himself. Good. They needed that. What did Franz need? His spirit back.
In a moment of fighting his broken will he realized that he had only gotten worse with time... He realized that for all the cool talk and bluffing he was becoming more and more of an empty shell. This war was beginning to make him realize that time was not on his side. His youth was not going to help him endure. Soon, he would be an old man, and one that would be a husk. With time he would forget who he was. With time he was going to die...
It hurt to walk. It pained him to breathe. It was excruciating to try and smile but he forced it the best he could with shaking corners and locked eyebrows.... but he set down his pack, pulling out his pad and the supplies he had known from before... He clutched the utensils tightly in his hand...
Breathe in... Breathe out...
"No matter what you have to promise me you will try. If not for yourself then for the people around you… Try...”
Soon a hand would breach through the door. Step after step and before Michael would stand the broken man from before.
"Michael? May I... sit with you? I thought that maybe we could...maybe we could talk? About... the war? About... Mila?" His voice was raspy, a bit monotone still but forcefully made less so. His eyes spoke of a man trying to carry the world on his shoulders with arms ready to give way. His posture ready to crumble with exhausted breath and worn limbs. He was tired and trying to hold onto what was left of himself. The words of Steffen echoed in his mind. The will he left behind engraved in his mind.
Here, Franz was trying. In a time where he felt no hope and hardly anything at all other than a shattered body, he looked to the first man to help him when he had nobody. Here, he hoped, he could find the strength to go on.
In the matter of seconds a briefly lived victory was turning into a bleed.
The sudden blast sent him to the ground in a panic- or so his body processed. It was ear deafening. The violent quakes of the earth rumbled and roared. The beast of war demanded more! He began to breathe, taking in the moment and trying to collect himself as he realized this was it! Do or die!
He moved lower, trying to help his comrade in arms. She was unconscious! Shit! There was dust everywhere. He coughed, wood and dust scattered everywhere with the sounds of artillery waking him from his brief trance. No time to waste!
He grabbed Mila, hoisting her into his arms as he did Melanie and briefly looked to the girl on the rocks.
“Not my squad!” He stood shakily, blast after blast pounding in and around the trenches with ungodly power. He kept low as he held her close to his person, listening as Middleton called the retreat. Good! They could make it out with their lives! They just had to-
Thump after thump and Franz found himself ducking into the dirt from a blast that deafened him. If he had jumped over right then and there that would have been it! Dirt covered him and his wound… he had to make do. He looked back, tossing Mila over just enough before… He took a look at his hands… blood… did he…
There was a sudden pain in his gut, looking down briefly and seeing it on his uniform… today… was he going to die already? No… not yet! He needed to get her out of there! Hazed vision gripped his eyes as he forced himself over and scrambled for Mila’s body while the shells kept coming. He watched the air, listening to the sounds of the wind as he pat her face idly. “We’re almost there! Stay with me!”
Boots climbed down while he looked up, running with everything he had he followed spots that had already been bombed under the logic that lightning would not strike in the same place twice. Not so soon. He kept running, the dispersed shelling giving him tension in his muscles as every huff felt as though it would be his last. He took one more look at her face…
He knew very little of her. He hoped to learn of her. In her face he saw peace. He saw a life that could be. Perhaps she could be a friend? What chaotic thoughts! Very briefly there was a warmth in his boots again and knowing there was a wound in his stomach he had to act fast before they perished!
With determination he kept going, shelling caught by the ear. For a brief moment he paused and turned 180, kneeling and digging into dirt as shrapnel below scattered. Once it was safe he quickly stood again, running down the path and then running fast as he could to the rest of the army with a man grabbing him by his shoulder as he exited the shelling zone. He jerked the hand off, muffled screams coming his way as he kept running. He had to get her to medic, but where?
He searched quickly, reaching a medic and screaming in the poor man’s ear to explain the situation.
“Medic! She’s unconscious! You need to help her!”
The medic looked at Franz in a shock, saying something the rifleman just couldn’t hear. What was he saying? Was it his gut wound?
“I’ll be fine! Just make sure she gets help first!” He shouted, putting her down on a solid board and quickly turning to the medic who grabbed him by his shoulders with that insufferable ringing blocking what he was saying.
He squinted, looking at the medic who had a look of worry on his face. Why? Why wasn’t he helping her?
“I said I’m fine! Help the girl!”
He was shaken harder! What was he doing?! Did he speak the same language?
“I SAID FUCKING HELP THE GI-”
The ringing cleared… The ringing…
His eyes reluctantly looked over to her. His vision began to straighten. One foot after the other he slowly marched to her and noticed the dry blood. He noticed… the shrapnel. He felt his gut... nothing…
“Private? Private you need to come with me. Private?”
Franz ignored the man, stepping closer and closer until he was at her feet with the medic’s hands lightly grabbing his arm. He looked at that lush face now turned pale and thin. He looked at the eyes which remained closed and cold.
“Not my squad!”
His knees buckled as his own words came back to haunt him. He fell to one knee, feeling tears in his eyes. His gut hurt again, but this time it ripped with a pain his skin couldn’t match. It tore into his soul. This loss… this rending… He couldn’t even explain it to himself as he felt his entire stomach being ripped out and fed back to him. Why? Why did it hurt so badly? He barely knew her! Why?!
He crawled to her, gently patting her face. “Wagner? Wagner. Wagner please wake up! We made it! We made it! Please!” He felt a surge of anxiety, a collective attack of nerves being hit at once as the medic grabbed his arm tighter.
“Private… please come with me.”
Something deep inside triggered. Flashbacks of a time years ago. An instinct locked away for the chaos of war. He lost control.
“Why don’t you do your fucking job?!” Aggressively grabbing the medic he pulled him closer to the ground with the shuffling of feet from a shocktrooper putting him on edge.
“Private! There is nothing I can do! Nothing!”
“You will god damn try! I didn’t just carry her from the god forsaken hills just to be told that you think she is dead without even putting your miserable back into it you swine!”
A foot slammed against his jaw, sending the Darscen to his back as the shocktrooper dragged him out of the medic’s range. He grappled with the soldier, the bigger man smacking him across the face with a solid hook and pinning him by the wrists.
“Listen to me, Darscen! Unless you have a death wish you calm the fuck down right now! Am I making myself clear? Brass is going to hear about this and she won’t be the only one in the ground! Firing squad, your god damn choice!”
He felt the life drain out of him. His struggling hands softened with the tears still rolling. Cuffs came off and the man crawled to his knees. Held up by elbows and weak knees he thought of what could have been and focused on what was.
“Private… I’m sorry. That is just what happens in war. I took this position so I could save lives.” The medic began, kneeling in front of Franz and lifting the boy’s head. Oh Franz… Oh poor Franz. He shook uncontrollably. Something in his eyes spoke of a child looking for its mother. The stress breaking his mental fortitude as his screams of pain came out silently. He felt his throat spasm, mouth and jaw locked in place as he rocked back and forth with hands clenched again. He couldn’t breathe. All he could do was stream tears heavily with every passing moment. Why wouldn’t any sound come out? Why couldn’t he get his pain out? Why didn’t it stop hurting?
“But I learned! I learned that half of the faces you will see today you will never see again. It hurts… I lost my friends who joined me in this war. I lost all of them. Do you understand?”
The man weakly nodded, his eyes closing more as the medic tucked the young man into his chest. Within seconds the coat was puddled with salt water. He took in a long breath, flesh pink and bright as he felt the medic’s arms wrap around him.
“All we can do is move forward and save who we can… That’s all we can do...”
It started as a whistle. Another deep breath and gasp later and finally the dam was broken.
“WAGNER!!!” His sobs became violent, the sound of a man who lost something so dear to him. The roar of a lion in the world of the ants. Even now he wasn’t sure why it hurt so much… Amber… Melanie… Wagner… How many people did he have to lose just as he was coming to know them? Sides ripped as he went limp in the medic’s grasp. His howling reduced to whimpers as the light inside of him died . It all felt so cold. Everything felt so awful. The thoughts in his head- the feeling in his body! He kept trying to describe it but he couldn’t put the words to the feeling!
“Wagner… I’m sorry...”
He wasn’t sure how long it had been since he had begun digging the grave. He wasn’t sure how long it had been since he had lowered her in and said goodbye. He didn’t know anymore. His eyes just stared at the name he carved into the wood. He stared… and stared… Was he even thinking anymore? What did time even mean anymore? Had it been seconds? Minutes? Hours? Had it been a decade? Was the war over? He didn’t know. Time seemed to have lost its meaning. He was up here, she was down there. With dry cheeks he simply blinked, expressionless motions indicating a change as he thought about all of the blood she leaked onto him. He thought about how she gave her life to save his.
What did this life mean to him?
Why was his life worth saving over her own?
He didn’t care if he died so why did she have to die?
Chaos. It all appeared to be unadulterated chaos. The madness that claimed the joy of so many men. This was what broke people. This feeling of emptiness accomplished by breaking a threshold you never knew existed. To keep fighting? To keep living? What was it for? What was it god damn for?!
He had to take a breath, a small squint as he tried to think. His dry lips pressing together as he held her tags in his hand. He shook it briefly. There was something he wanted to say- something he wanted to think! There was some answer somewhere! Where? What was even the question?
He tried not to think. Thinking led him into an unorganized mess in his scrambled mind. He just listened to the war while the sounds of war became a kind of broken record in his mind. Memories slipped into his cracked shell. The sounds of gunfire and mean screaming with his mother screaming his name. An echo chamber of darkness.
He remembered that cold quiet room where he spent hours counting the possibilities. He spent hours savoring the time before the beatings. He spent days and weeks and years just thinking and imagining of all the things that could have been. He dreamed of a future where all could be rectified in this world he never asked for. He dreamed of a life outside of that cold room. He sought something more than scraps and tales in a book with a looming figure judging his every move. Rain and silence. They brought him comfort. They were his friends when his father locked him away. Shivering and sneezing or barely breathing they were the only things that spoke with him when he wept for the girl he would lose every time. He mourned for the times he so sorely wanted back. He clung onto every memory of the good times he had away from home and felt darkness envelope him as he took a step forward into that familiar cell.
Even when the bars turned from wood to iron he felt that same feeling. More noise but more of the same. In the dreaded times when he had been judged for what he had done he felt that creeping darkness tangle with his soul in the feud for his spirit. Hands of leather armed with blades of iron pulled him from his confinement. The roars of saviors as they tugged him along… The safety of having a new family… For a time he had more than the rain to help him. For a time he believed that lie. For a good long while he bought into a reality as the high of it wore off. The sun oozed from the sky and the light faded. The walls of the sky and terrain melted into the floor, draining down into the corners and edges of the cold dirt floor.
His feelings… His heart… They began to melt too…
There was that familiar silence. As his expressions once more dulled into neutrality he heard it quite clearly. A hand slowly crept onto the mound, feeling the bump in the earth and giving a slow blink. Despite his best efforts he ended up right where he began. He lost the mother he never had. He lost the future he would never know. He lost everything to the luck of the draw. One more god damn time he drew a joker from the deck in a game that forbade its existence.
He closed his lids, bending to touch the dirt with his forehead and whispered.
The soldier stood, tightening the latch on his helmet and marching in rhythm. He marched at the steady pace, remembering their faces and simply regaining his thoughts.
The terrain looked familiar for once. He squinted, thinking. It then occurred to him that he was behind the intended target.
“Report to the NCO.” The only thought that spoke within his mind as he stopped and listened to conversations and groans of other soldiers. He quietly listened and took a path after getting his hint that he was looking for. He walked and walked until he finally arrived in front of Jean and his fair maidens. He arrived and… felt nothing. He paused for a moment to think, speaking after.
“Private Franz Blau reporting. Private Mila Wagner was K.I.A. in the bombardment. Shrapnel. Awaiting further orders.” His uniform was dried with blood. His voice was monotone. His form was stiff and his personality broken. If Jean had nothing more to say, no order to give, no actions to expect, then Franz would simply stand guard without movement. Quiet.