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@Penny, great post!
Post up. Nothing fancy, but then again, we're just walking to the damn square!

The two friend strode down the narrow streets toward the tall spires of the Town Hall, easily spotted as they towered over the thatched rooves of the common folk. They dodged potholes filled with water from the nights rain and the ever present cow pies that littered the road as the farmers drove their stock into town. The sun, at least, was out, and had begun to chase the morning chill away when they ventured outside.

Their night, and the breakfast, had been unremarkable. Pushing a pair of benches together and wrapping themselves in blankets provided by the barmaid had provided them a warm and affordable place to stay. Admittedly it could have been more comfortable, but those with limited coin could not be choosy. Better than another night in the woods, after all.

Roderick was painfully aware that he smelled wet, despite drying out in the tavern. He hadn't bathed in a day or two and was feeling a bit gamy as they approached the town square. The paving stone expanse was mostly intact, a pair of peasants replacing two cracked tiles near the centre of the space. There were overseen by a bored looking village reeve who spared the two men a nod and a polite word to the sigmarite.

"Decent looking building for a place like this, eh?" Roderick commented as he looked up at the clocktower, admiring the polished glass and second hand that ticked away faithfully behind it. Brandt grunted an agreement. He was less of a morning person than his friend and was likely to remain somewhat "stoic" until the sun had climbed a bit higher in the sky. Maria on the other hand was fair giddy with excitement, earnestly sniffing at everything she encountered, snapping her teeth at a horses heels and trotting quickly after the two men when a drover snapped his long whip at her.

It was not hard to find Sebastian Johan Bock, the man stuck out a fair in a town where most folk wore homespun brown linen garments. The red and green robes of his office, fancy golden chain, and staff, marked him at once as an important man. He looked almost as out of place as an Orc in a nunnery. The two approached him with a confident stride, noting that they were the first to arrive. Not that Roderick was much surprised. Getting up early was his trademark.

"Sebastian Johan Bock, I presume?" The young priest held out a hand. Bock took it, his wrist limp, and grimaced at the grip.

"Yes, and you are?" His voice was strangely high pitched and Roderick had to fight down a grin. Even Brandt seemed amused.

"Brandt the Brave and plain old Brother Roderick," He glanced at the dog who was eyeing Bock with something between disdain and curiosity. "And Maria."

The man nodded and glanced behind them to where other figures were emerging into the square. "Thank you for coming. We'll wait for the rest."

Long rolling swells pushed south through the Mozambique Channel, turning from deep black to beautiful blue turquoise and building into white caps before crashing in a thunderous roll along the white sand Rhodesian coastline. Small fishing boats, a riot of colours and sizes, rolled with the swells, their stubby masts creating a leafless forest upon the sea.

One boat, notable for its bright blue hull and yellow interior, was listing heavily to port as Joaquim Chissano hauled easily at the weight of the net and its catch. He was a big man, broad shoulders and corded arms bare to the sun, well known for his broad smile that made him popular with the ladies. A series of white puckered scars stood out in stark contrast to his black skin, a reminder of his days serving in the Rhodesian army. He was one of a few in his village who enjoyed full Rhodesian citizenship.

The water below him was shattered into a frothing mass as his catch reached the surface, silvery fins flashing to send glittering arcs of water through the air. White teeth, slightly discoloured by the odd cigar, flashed in his face and he dragged the entire wriggling mass into his boat where the net burst open to scatter fish across the deck. His two sons, identical twins, leapt forward and quickly began to exam the fish. Anything less than a foot long was quickly tossed overboard so that it might be given a chance to grow.

"Hey pa, you hear that?" Nyimpine, the eldest, paused for a moment, fish in hand. Ramiro and his father also stopped to listen. A heavy rumble could be heard across the blue waters and Joaquim looked to the south, quickly spotting two black dots racing toward them just above the coastline.

"Spitfires." He said dismissively, though he did not return to his work but instead watched as the planes drew closer. He had always wanted to fly but never gotten the courage to try it. He had been in planes of course, army planes, and even a helicopter, during the brush war. The feel as they rose from the ground and climbed into the sky had always been exhilarating.

"Didn't you want to be a pilot, dad?" Ramiro asked, tossing a fish over the side. The roar was growing quickly into a ear shattering crescendo as the planes swept in low over the fishing fleet. The blunted wing tips and cigar shaped fuselages were impossible to miss and he felt his soul leap skyward as the planes flashed overhead, their huge Griffon 85 engines driving them through the air behind a five bladed roto propellor. Their likeness and equal existed nowhere else.

It was an impressive sight as they pilots flew wingtip to wingtip, not more than a foot or two between them, maintaining their position was they banked to follow the coastline and dwindle swiftly into the distance. Only when they had passed beyond clear sight did Joaquim reply to his son.

"I did. But I was always afraid I would fail." He had always been honest with his sons. For him to admit that he was afraid was no small feat. They both knew that he had killed men before and bore that burden quietly, never speaking of it to them. It had marked them as well nonetheless, Not every black person in Rhodesia was happy with the state of affairs and more than a few fights had broken out at school between the children of those who "served the white man" and those who thought the whites should get out.

"Couldn't you still try?" Nymipine asked, bending back to his task. "We can run the boat, Ram and I. We're old enough now."

Joaquim chuckled. The boys were only fourteen, big for their age and getting stronger every day as they helped bring in the catch. He opened his mouth to dismiss the idea outright but found himself unable to utter the words.

"Yea dad, why wouldn't you try?" Ramiro piped in as he tossed another pair of fish, and a couple of rays, overboard.

"Well, you know, I don't know. I never thought to even ask if I could."

"Didn't you always tell us that the answer is always no if we don't ask?"

"This is different. There aren't any black pilots in the Airforce." Joaquim said the words despite the strange feeling of excitement that had suddenly seized him.

"Well, there has to be a first." Replied Ramiro, his young face earnest as he stopped what he was doing to look at his father. "You could do it."

Hours later, as the sun began to dip below the Western horizon, the clouds lit up like a sheet of fire across the fading blue, Joaquim sat alone on the beach. His bare feet were in the sand and he held a bottle of local beer in loosely in one hand. He had been unable to shake the feeling he had had when the twins asked him about being a pilot. Why couldn't he do it? Because he was black?

There were black army officers, a black naval captain commanded his own ship now, and more than a few black police officers patrolled the streets. The face of Rhodesia was changing in many ways and he had earned his right to be a pilot in blood, literally. Doctors had dug nine bullets and a mess of shrapnel out of him when he lay in that MASH unit after the ambush.

He relived that day every time he closed his eyes to sleep. The shouts, the screams, the roar of gunfire. Medics had gotten him onto a stretcher and returned him to an aid station to wait for evacuation. Lying there, staring into the sky, he had watched as two Mosquitos, flanked by their Spitfire escorts, roared in to deliver a barrage of rockets on rebel positions. How they had wheeled and soared, like they were immune from the petty squabbles of the men in the dirt. A desire to be like them had been awakened inside him.

After when he recovered from his wounds the army had given him an honourable discharge with full pension, service was over. They had asked him to reenlist but he was done with the army. It had never occurred to him that he might have tried something else. Maybe his dreams weren't finished yet. There was nothing wrong with earning an honest living at sea but the thought of dragging fishing nets out of the sea every day for the rest of his life had never been really appealed to him.

He tilted back his head and drained what remained of his beer before standing and walking back toward his small home. The lights inside glowed against the encroaching darkness and he saw the twins duck away from the window when they saw him coming. He smiled to himself and pushed open the door to his home and his family.

* * * * *

The day was starting to get hot when the first train of the day chugged into the new stucco brick station on the edge of town. Built within the last year, the plastered walls still smelled of paint and the concrete walkways weren't yet stained with the passage of humanity.

It had nearly a year since Joaquim had been on a train, let alone in Beira. He had never enjoyed the big city and this, Rhodesias second largest port city, was busier than he liked. His quick eye noted the youngsters who stole for change, the men selling bootlegged items from small stands along the sidewalk, and the scowls of police officers as they chased both the former away.

He was startled to see a white man operating a small food cart. That was a first. He had a strangely round face and spoke Bantu and English with an atrocious accent. Joaquim could only assume it was one of the whites that had begun immigrating to Rhodesia recently, one who didn't have a specialized trade. Not one the government wanted at any rate, but whatever he was selling smelled delicious. Joaquims' stomach growled and he walked over to see that the man was selling. Sausage, fryed onions, and small little dumpling looking things that were being cooked in hot oil.

"I'll have two." Joaquim said, gesturing to the dumplings.

"Perogies!" The word meant nothing to Joaquim but when he bit into one a short time later he found them to have a potato filling that was strangely bland and yet delicious. He deeply regretted not getting the sausage and onion along with it, the three together would have made a better meal.

He finished the perogies as he walked down the newly paved highway leading into the city. The last time he had been in Beira the dirt road had been the only means of accessing the city other than rail. Now four concrete lanes ran from through the countryside straight into the heart of the city. A treed boulevard separated the cars from pedestrians and he considered hailing a taxi but then thought better of it. His destination wasn't far and money was still tight despite the good fishing season.

The walk took him some fifteen minutes in which he marvelled at the new buildings that had gone up all around. The city had sprawled even further than before and improvements were evident even in the new housing projects that had been built to replace the shanty town slums where so many had died of cholera and a dozen other horrible diseases not five years ago.

His destination, a very official looking building with a Rhodesian flag dropping in a breathless air, stood on the edge of the large park. A fountain, unheard of five years ago, tossed water that shimmered with rainbows into the air as giggling children ran across green grass, young trees casting a pitiful shade on chattering parents.


The word was big and bold on the front of the building and he climbed the three steps one at a time, his heart hammering, and pulled open the polished wooden door. He found himself the only customer, a single black female civilian, her knees crossed and a skirt almost to short to be decent, barely hiding her groin, smiled at him and a uniformed military officer who stood up when Joaquim walked in.

"Good day sir! Welcome! Looking to enlist?"

"Reenlist, actually," Joaquim replied and was rewarded with a broad grin. "I want to be a pilot."
@Jb, so you’ll move us along by Sunday type of thing?
<Snipped quote by The Wyrm>

I feel similar about a guy with a screaming cheetah midget as an avatar but here we are.

Yea, not even close to being in the same league. But I will agree, it would be good to keep this rolling.
@Jb, I work shift work so don’t ever feel the need to delay the show on my account, I’ll catch up if needed. Or Brandt will keep things updated on my behalf.
I have to be honest, it’s hard to take someone with the user name @POOHEAD189 seriously...

Roderick was quite certain that the Ogres Maw had never been this full of strangers on a single night, and likely never would be again. He paid little attention to the regular crowd other than a friendly nod when they smiled at him, and tucked into the simple but heavy stew as soon as it arrived. He was a man given to enjoying his feed and munched happily on the soggy vegetables and over cooked meat. Brandt, he noticed, hadn't missed a beat either. Both men downed a pint of some tolerable local ale before their bowls were done.

He used the remainder of the bread to hunt down the last of the stew, ensuring he got every drop before passing it Maria. She took it gently from his hand and then wolfed it down instantly. She was steaming slightly and had spared a gentle lick of the hand for the young lass who brought her a bowl of water and a bone with some meat still attached. Her pointed ears never ceased moving as she regarded each person who went about the taproom. Roderick knew she was starting to relax when she accepted a morsel from Brandt and even let the blacksmith turned Greatsword fondle her ears for a few moments before trotting back to the fire and her bone.

The arrival of a warrior type, a Bretonnian by his slim build, caused little stir in the room. Roderick eyed the new comer from beneath half closed eyelids as the heat began to make him drowsy. They were a slender people, not given to the proud shoulders of the Reiklanders, but that did nothing to still their fighting prowess. He wondered what on earth the fellow was doing in such an out of the way little town. Then again, what were he and Brandt doing here?

Peace returned swiftly enough as the Knight settled at the end of the bartop, close enough that Maria stretched out her snout enquiringly, sniffing the air with interest. Must be a heck of a thing, the nose of a dog. Roderick could only imagine what she was picking out on the newcomer.

The barkeep brought brought the pair another round without being asked, the wooden mugs loud on the table as he set them down. He paused for a moment and shifted on his feet until Roderick finally looked up at him.

"Er, thing is father, I know your kind is good for it, but have you any coin?" The man looked dreadfully embarrassed and had turned quite red in the face.

"Oh, right, of course. My apologies my good man." Roderick dug into his robes and pulled out his coin purse. "What do we owe you?"

"Three bits for the stew, one per brew, and did you want a room?" Relief showed on the strong simple face.

"Five a piece then, so far." Roderick said with a sigh. Money didn't grow on trees in these parts but at least these small towns were cheaper than the man wagon roads. "And have you any objection to us sleeping in the taproom this eve?"

The proprietor shrugged as he took their coin, making it vanish into his apron with all the skill of a magician. "Not at all, father. I'll stack a bit of wood for the fire afore we close up. The hound will likely stick with you then."

"I have no doubt he will be welcome company." Roderick said with a smile, glancing down at Maria who was staunchly ignoring the humans, her ears cocked toward the front door. "More guests I reckon."

"Quite right." Said the other as he bustled off toward his space behind the rough oaken counter top.

As if on cue, the door burst open and new figure hurried in with what appeared to be a child in his arms. The man rudely dislodged the two dogs, Maria slinking away with all the hurt disgust her fifty pounds could communicate. Roderick reached down to tousle her ears as he observed the strange new pair. The child, couldn't be the mans child for the two looked nothing alike, had clearly been through a rough patch the last little while. A quick glance suggested there was little Roderick would be able to do to help. His healing skills were largely confined to making sure a man didn't bleed to death before he got to proper care.

As it was, not his child, not his problem. The village would have a healer somewhere who could look after the waif. Sigmar was not known for his sense of charity outside of his own sworn servants. Maybe they had one of those damned barbers who doubled as a surgeon. Just as likely to bleed you to death as whatever it was that had cut you. Roderick shuddered at the thought and saw Brandt do the same. The two shared a quick grin despite the new arrivals. It was apparent the two had been thinking along the same line.

As the two Bretons, he was sure of it now, spoke quickly with the liquid fluidity of their native tongue, Rodericks gaze was dragged away by the arrival of a Sister of Shaylla no less. He was impressed. Every small hamlet in the Empire had a shrine to the deity, but to have ones very own Sister, well, that was a different thing altogether. She largely ignored everyone else, pushing past a drunken Halfing who was trying to jab a potato into the boys face.

The small figure knelt next to the hearth and the blaze lit up her blonde hair and slim features. Roderick at least felt vindicated in his decision to not touch the child. There was very little he could offer that compared to the Sisters knowledge and he was certain that if she required his help, she would ask for it.
Great post, @Penny!
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