Alexander PolawskiLocation: The General's Office
Alexander drew in a long drag of breath, letting it out again with a heavy, drawn out sigh as he took in of Aeron as possible, just like he'd been taught by Freedman over the past six months. He'd learned that keeping those happy moments, filled with good people and the comforting company of his friends, were amongst the few things that kept the old veteran going those days. Yes, the list of reasons to live had grown longer since he first joined Camp Mexico Beach, but on the top three of that least, Aeron could be found…and now Alexander did his best to remember as much of the General as he could. For when he was going to pass over to the hands of the Father, the old veteran wanted to keep the fond memories, even if they were painted by Aeron's worn face. "I see…Bless his soul, Doc, he's a good man. We all can use a little hope now and then, but on this I trust your old bones, Aeron. They've carried you a long, long way, so they know their shit."
Alexander's reply was a somber acceptence of the time running through their hands, like the very sand they'd stood in many a time, just the two of them staring out into the blue ocean and in deep conversation…sometimes a deep silence. Another memory Alexander would carry of his old friend. Oh, how far they'd come since 'Nam and the 70's. "Days…agreed. May God see to what we mere mortals cannot change, unless he can find me a good cache of military-grade copper!"
Alexander's somber tone fluttered into a chuckle at his own joke, doing his best to push away the lingering reminders of Death standing at a distance, waiting for Aeron patiently. An image was conjured up in his old mind, one where Alexander himself delivered Aeron to the Afterlife and greeting Death like a familar face…would Judith be there, waiting for him when his time came?
Turning back to the list as Aeron requested, Alexander squinted at his own writing in the dim light of the room, reading it out aloud for Aeron to hear. "Like I said, copper wire. The young fellas down in the basement haven't stored what I requested last time properly, so some of it's been corroding like Lady Liberty herself. Nothing too bad, but if we should find a way to store it dry, and I wouldn't mind some more spools down with me in case something hotwires. Same with screws and LED lights, we can never have too many of them."
Alexander explained to Aeron, talking as clearly as the radio operator he'd been four decades ago, clearly giving of the vibe of someone who knew what they were talking about. "Then I'd like to put in a request for the scavening teams; rechargable batteries, tons of them. I know it's already a priority for the entire camp, but I've been dealing in those little suckers half my life and know how to take care of them. Kids these days just keep them plugged in the sockets all night, when they shouldn't be charged more than neccecary. Overcharges them, you know…anyway…"
Alexander kept on explaining his wish for a better trained crew down with him in the Communcations Room. Those he had now worked, it wasn't that. They knew the basics, but Alexander had to remind them what and what not to do with those old radios. It was mostly the younger ones who needed his foot shoved up their asses, but he couldn't fault them. Some of the radios they used were as old as he was. Old and reliable, but clunky to use. He would request himself teaching some volunteers in Education when he had the time. Knowing how to operate and maintain a radio was important to CMB after all.
Then came the last request on his list, the one he'd saved for last…and like last time when he looked at that list, his strength failed him. Alexander looked down on the list, read and re-read the bulletpoint time and time again, though Aeron would be able to clearly read what it said and figure out what it was Alexander wanted to request. Still, Alexander let his head hang down, heavy with the sense of guilt for how he had left his old settlement behind so many years ago…how he'd left Judith's grave back there. He sighed, looked up at Aeron and his tired eyes, and at that moment knowing another question he needed to ask. It had been on his mind for the past half year, spoken about with Freedman and reflected over countless sleepless nights in his bed…the image burned into his memory, just like the napalm burned those kids, and the bullet must have burned through his uniform… "Aeron…I, I mean…Freedman and I have spoken about this since my first week outside of Quarantine, and…Forgive me, I am not good at this."
Alexander shuddered at what he was about to tell Aeron, though equally determined to head through with it. He'd spent so much time, uttered so many words and torn himself apart inwards over this, and now the only thing left was to ask for forgiveness…and it all started with Aeron. "Do you remember Sergeant Jackson, my commanding officer back in 'Nam? Tall, stern black man from the South and as firery as a preacher himself. Do you remember…or know how he died? I…I need to talk about it, with you."
Nigel CooperLocation: Training Grounds -> Bus
As they all stepped into and found their seats in the now infamous bus, just as they had done when they first happened upon the scouting party of CMB and decided to join their small piece of civilisation half a year ago, Nigel found himself conversing in the briefest of sense to his fellow passengers about what was to come. He was certain that their briefing of the coming test was not far behind them, but for now Nigel was content to continue exchanging words with those who willed it; for the most part this meant Thalia, at least verbally.
Nigel anticipated the non-verbal response he recieved from the one-handed Amazon warrior, her wordless grunt having become a staple of Thalia to him at this point. It was almost as if he was commucating with a barbarian, not well-versed in the art of diplomacy and orating in finely constructed sentences, though he could hardly fault her. It was he who spoke like the Roman senators and soldiers, not her kind - if one did not count her brother, of course. The "Nnn" was more than enough to get the point across, even for a scholar as him.
The same went for their talk of Ash, who seemed to throw a polite jest in their direction, to which Nigel responded equally. It had not been his intention to forego his inclusion in the conversation, it just so happened…odd. Nigel reminded himself to speak more with Ash, more than they had done before. After all they were military both of them, just from very different times. They had much to teach and learn from another.
That last part of Thalia's observations struck a chord in Nigel. A good one! Nigel nodded approvingly at her words, his eyes taking in those in the bus and very possibly on their team. "Well said, Thalia. Ludemus bene in compania. We play well in groups, as anyone should strive to do when one can. I'm sure we'll find our place in said group once we get out into the field, for our baptism of fire…"
With the bus rolling out towards the gate, like the chariot headed for war awaiting the last gatehouse of its home city, they recieved more information for the coming test. Nigel wasn't wholly surprised to hear the group he'd been put into. Perhaps he'd been more taken back by the inclusion of Wayne, but…so much water had passed under that bridge that who knew how much the reincarnation of Caligua himself had changed? Then again, a fox changed its furs, not his habits. Was Wayne a fox then?
Either way, Nigel sat in deep silence as Maddoc continued the briefing. The task was a simple one in mind, though the neo-Roman knew how much different reality tended to be, certainly out there. Enter the town, move north and scavenge for supplies noted down, then move back and rendevous. Nigel nodded, gesturing that he understood the task at hand and accepted the fairness of it. A test was a test.
With that the bus passed through the gates and found itself out on the road…the outside. Nigel couldn't keep his gaze from taking in what the outside looked like. After half a year inside the safe confines of protective walls, it was indeed a change to see where he'd come from, where he'd fought through to get to safety. Like a Roman merchant returning to the travelling life, away from the comforts and worries of city life, Nigel both looked forward to and steeled himself for what was to come. They could spread their wings, but he knew to beware the eagles hunting them.
Soon they were told to be armed, their names called up for them to decide between two bags of weaponry. Once Nigel's name was called, he decided to take the obvious option of a sword and small side arm, clearly more comfortably with the first. A sword he knew how to swing like Hercules himself, but the gun? He silently cursed himself for not training with the pistol, finding himself look at Thalia, understanding her troubles. Like her, this was something he needed to learn. Nigel even looked over at Ash and gave him a contemplative look, before commenting briefly "You teach me how to use this, "
while gesturing towards the pistol, then over to his sword "and I teach you this. I'd like to listen to the expert, after all."