Birds Don’t Sing Anymore

Started by Holger Heyerdahl, September 06, 2018, 08:26:30 pm

Holger Heyerdahl

Distant gunfire peppered the air. Otherwise there was silence. No birds sang. Birds didn't seem to sing much at all, these days. No one did. War will do that to a person. It has a tendency to not only kill a population, but also suck the life out of those that are left. Well, most.

Holger Heyerdahl listened to the gunfire and decided that it was was far enough away that he could continue on with his humming. A tune from his childhood, only half remembered and tunelessly vocalized. But it comforted him all the same.

He was lost. And alone.

During the fighting, Holger had somehow become separated from his unit. The 66th Division, besieged by Alliance ground and artillery, had dug in deep and were waiting for reinforcements no one would admit weren't coming. The Alliance, finally bolstered by air support, had made their move and scattered the Browncoats just that morning.

Holger had taken flight as he watched his friends and comrades die. It wasn't cowardice. It was survival. Everyone had been running.

Snow began to fall. It was mid afternoon by Holger's meager reckoning.

If anything the snow was comforting to him. Holger hummed his tune because it made him feel better. He was lost. He was alone. But the snow made him feel at home. Rescue would come.

Overhead, distantly, Holger heard the sound of an engine. He raised his eyes to the sky, a glimmer of hope, but fearful of what may be coming. His hands tensed on his rifle. He was lost. He was alone. But he was armed.

Dialogue Color - Orange

Melody

The Foxbat Bomber slid through the sky smoothly, the sound of its engine the only thing potentially announcing its presence. It had been deployed just a few moments earlier, taking off from its designated cruiser to carry out a simple task. It moved in calculated, practiced formations, although on occasion it did dip lower than it should have and those tight rolls were likely not regulation maneuvers, but it was apparent that whoever was piloting it was quickly becoming either tired, or bored. The bomber had aided in the final scattering of the Independent's last main groups earlier that morning and now it was halfheartedly searching for any remaining gatherings of the rebellion, not wanting to allow them the time and space to regroup nor the hope that they might be able to make it out of this.

They say that even a broken clock is right twice a day, and with that much dumb luck and sheer coincidence, a member of the Independence spotted the Foxbat with enough advance warning to mark its movement, take aim, and fire a lucky shot into the underside of one of the ship's wings. In a petty amount of retaliation, the bomber let loose with a hail of auto cannon fire, lighting up where the shot had come from before zipping past, smoke trailing from the fiery remains of the left wing, leaving a trail as it moved lower and lower to the ground. The light snow began to settle on the windshield, covering it up and saving the pilot the sight of the ground rising to meet the ship. It looked as though the one in command of the bomber was trying their best to keep it from nose diving and killing them and for the most part, they did an acceptable job.

With a loud crash and a cloud of dirt, debris and snow, the Foxbat slid across the ground, finally stopping near where a certain Independent had settled in and not too far from an Alliance command post. At least, close enough that they could likely come pick up the pilot if it survived.
There was silence, save for the crackling of the flames rising from broken bits of the bomber and the dirt slowly raining back down onto the ground. After another couple of moments, the hatch popped up off the ship and landed with a thud in the thin layer of snow, smoke rising from the area like a beacon. A figure, clad in the rigid uniform of Alliance pilots, pulled itself from the top of the ruined bomber and stood on its carcass, waving smoke out of its face. There was another stretch of silence before...

"Fuck!" a female voice called out, her hands ripping her gloves off and tossing them down into the beaten ship, fingers working the buttons on her jacket before that too was removed and dropped near her feet, leaving her in her grey pants and a black tank top. "This stupid hat," she muttered to herself in frustration, fighting to get her hat unpinned before tossing that one directly into the fire, her almond brown hair in as neat a bun as she could manage, the orderly hairstyle further mussed up by the crash. She'd need to radio in for assistance but she needed to get out of the bomber before she asphyxiated on the smoke.
Dialogue Color: Brown

Holger Heyerdahl

September 07, 2018, 09:08:02 am #2 Last Edit: November 16, 2018, 09:49:59 am by Holger Heyerdahl
The sound of the engine came closer. Holger's brow narrowed in concentration as he tried to discern its trajectory. "Close." He said to no one. It was a guess, but even he knew that volume of sound equaled proximity. One didn't need to be a genius to understand that. The sound grew louder. "Very close." His eyes scanned the sky, though clouds and snow and trees blocked every vantage. All he had was the sound of the engine to go on. There was distress in the noise. A slight sputter. A cough. "She's hit." He said to no one. Realization dawned on him. "She's coming down." His eyes lit up at the prospect. Independent air support was in short supply everywhere. They had been promised help within the week, but that had been four weeks ago. The bombings that had taken their toll on his comrades pointed to a more likely culprit behind the noise. "This will be a fine trophy." He said to no one. Holger smiled, big and toothy beneath his fire red beard.

CRASH

SNAP

WHOOSH


Just over head, an Alliance registered Foxbat Bomber crashed through the trees. Holger dove for cover as splinters of trees and dirt and sparks showered over him. He peeked up from his place in the dirt and watched as the bomber crashed, sliding to a stop and leaving a path of destruction in its wake. If Holger was the poetic sort, he might think about how this vessel crashing could be a metaphor for the Alliance's meddling. But he wasn't, so he just grinned and made his way cautiously towards the wreckage, the stock of his rifle pressed firmly into his shoulder, his finger on the trigger, the barrel pointed at the hatch.

Quote
After another couple of moments, the hatch popped up off the ship and landed with a thud in the thin layer of snow, smoke rising from the area like a beacon. A figure, clad in the rigid uniform of Alliance pilots, pulled itself from the top of the ruined bomber and stood on its carcass, waving smoke out of its face. There was another stretch of silence before...,


"A girl?" His smile grew. "This will be fun." He said to no one as he stepped gingerly over the fire and positioned himself at the tail of the ship, covering himself from any incoming weapons fire.

Quote"Fuck!" a female voice called out, her hands ripping her gloves off and tossing them down into the beaten ship, fingers working the buttons on her jacket before that too was removed and dropped near her feet, leaving her in her grey pants and a black tank top. "This stupid hat," she muttered to herself in frustration, fighting to get her hat unpinned before tossing that one directly into the fire, her almond brown hair in as neat a bun as she could manage, the orderly hairstyle further mussed up by the crash. She'd need to radio in for assistance but she needed to get out of the bomber before she asphyxiated on the smoke.


Holger gave her a moment to remove her clothes and watched her. Perhaps she would remove more? Improper thoughts were pushed aside as he realized that not only was she of a age with his youngest sister, but her impressive use of coarse language further cemented the comparison in his mind. Could he kill such a young one? One that reminded him of sweet Erna? Holger thought back to the men he had killed and wondered suddenly if he had ever killed a woman. Not to his recollection. He would kill any man if it became a question of his own survival. He knew this. But a woman? This one was barely a woman at all. With grim determination, Holger decided that it would be even more improper to not give a woman the same treatment he would a man, not to mention this one could just as easily have killed him with her bombs as she likely had his brothers-in-arms - "And sisters." He said to no one, correcting himself.

"Girl!" He said to the pilot. "I have you in my sights. Do you have any last words?"
Dialogue Color - Orange

Melody

September 07, 2018, 10:27:04 am #3 Last Edit: September 07, 2018, 10:57:36 am by Melody
She needed to call for help, that was to be her first plan of action. But of course, her radio was down in the burning interior of the bomber. The woman stared down into the hatch, briefly considering jumping in there for just as long as it'd take to send a message, completely aware of how stupid an idea it was and knowing full well that she'd likely be chastised for it once she was rescued. Well, for that and for crashing one of the Alliance's ships, and the lack of her uniform, and a whole plethora of things she couldn't even begin to count right now. Her expression soured all the more, hands settling on her hips as she stared into the smoky dark portal leading to the potential of rescue. She knew they'd likely know that she'd gone down but would they come to investigate if they thought she'd died in the crash? Before touching down she had sent her coordinates to the nearest outpost but hadn't managed much else before the ground had come to greet her and the smoke forced her out.

“Girl!” came a voice from behind her. “I have you in my sights. Do you have any last words?”

Shoulders stiffened and instinctively, the pilot raised her hands at her sides just a little, fingers splayed and palms facing forward, showing whoever was pointing a gun at her that she didn't have any weapons in her own grasp and that she wasn't going to grab at the Alliance issued pistol at her hip. A fiery tingle ran down her spine and over her exposed skin at the thought of a gun trained on her and very slowly, cautiously, the woman turned just her head so she could see whoever was speaking out of the corner of her eye, her profile facing them, a tendril of almond hair framing her face.

"Yeah, I do... Ni ta ma de, g'en ho tze bi dio se," she snapped at him in response, her shoulders tense and her gaze narrowed. If her superiors were there to hear her, she'd likely be scrubbing toilets for the next month for that alone. She remained still, then, waiting for him to either pull the trigger or command her down from her ship to take her as a prisoner, or to go on his merry way as she'd so politely requested. Although really, she thought to herself, I'm willing to bet his garbage rifle doesn't even work. Poorly made Independent junk slapped together last minute to fight off a force too strong to possible have overcome. "If you're going to shoot me, hurry up about it before the smoke does me in," she requested grumpily, clenching her jaw and glaring daggers in the man's direction. If she could get down from the wreckage, she had a better chance of getting out of this situation than she did standing up here like a gorram target for just about everyone to take a shot at.
Dialogue Color: Brown

Holger Heyerdahl

September 07, 2018, 11:53:26 am #4 Last Edit: November 16, 2018, 09:50:29 am by Holger Heyerdahl
Quote"Yeah, I do... Ni ta ma de, g'en ho tze bi dio se," she snapped at him in response, her shoulders tense and her gaze narrowed.


Holger's eyes widened with excitement. His Chinese was not great, though he had learned some things here or there, particularly in the rock quarry back home. Laborers of all ilk made their way to the holes in the frozen ground of St. Albans, and while Holger would never claim to be even conversational, it was the fun words that he had picked up. The curses and the insults. To hear this from a girl's mouth, well, he liked her all the more now.

Quote"If you're going to shoot me, hurry up about it before the smoke does me in," she requested grumpily, clenching her jaw and glaring daggers in the man's direction.


He entertained her request. But what a shame it would be to kill such a creature. Fierce and strong willed. Normally Holger considered bomber pilots some form of coward, but this one certainly had a war-like spirit. But this was war. And war dictated the terms, not he. "Very well, girl." He said with a soft grin. "I will make it quick for you, so as not to anger your spirit that you should haunt me." He sighted down his rifle, aiming at her head. Even from this distance, Holger was sure of his aim. He pulled the trigger.

CLICK

Where there should have been the retort of his rifle and a spray of blood and brains there was nothing. Her body remained upright, which is not what a shot person does. He was certain his magazine was not empty. Training dictated that while ammunition stores were low and the the weapons they were afforded were, admittedly, of a certain quality, a good soldier always kept their weapon loaded and cleaned. Holger resisted the urge to think back on the last time he had loaded and cleaned his weapon. He was sure it was loaded and cleaned. Pretty sure. Confused, Holger pulled the trigger again.

CLICK

No blood. No brains. No shot.

"Bah!" He pulled the gun down from his shoulder and examined the weapon. He quickly deduced that it was jammed and worked the action, clearing it out and readying it for firing. He was reneging on his promise for a quick death and, not to mention, looking quite foolish. Best to get this over with.  "Aha. Now, little dove, I shall kill you." He raised the rifle back up to fire the death blow. "Goodbye."
Dialogue Color - Orange

Melody

"Very well, girl." The man said, grinning creepily. Well, creepy to her anyway. "I will make it quick for you, so as not to anger your spirit that you should haunt me."

Her shoulders stiffened and a quick intake of breath slipped in through her lips as he aimed, the woman internally preparing herself for whatever was to come next. As she stood there at his mercy, waiting for him to end it all, she made a very clear and strong mental to note to herself: She was going to absolutely haunt the living hell out of him, were she given the option. She would be his own personal poltergeist if she had anything to say about it. Say goodbye to an orderly bunk, wave hasta la vista to any chance at technology working right. She'd make his life miserable, unbearable, mildly inconvenient.

The pilot flinched at the less than violent sound his rifle made, her arched brows lifting and a slow grin pulling at one corner of her pink lips. Independent junk, that's what that was. The poor man was doing his best with what he'd been given but you can't turn dirt to gold and you can't make shoddy equipment work when it was really just a bunch of scrap metal glued together with children's craft paste.

Again the weapon refused to fire and slowly, like a cat uncurling from the warmth of the window, she turned toward him, watching him lower the gun and fiddle with it, her movements cautious but languid, eyes glued to the man and his gun. She didn't want to spook him, after all. He looked formidable on his own and the pilot was pretty sure grappling with him would be far more unpleasant than dealing with a bullet. At least that would be quick and, in theory, painless.

With his gaze and the muzzle of his gun no longer upon her, she jumped down from the wreckage, stiffling a hiss of pain as the shock of the ground ran up through the heels of her feet into her ankles and beyond. Crouching down and holding her breath, she used the smoke of her downed bomber to conceal her, hoping the wind didn't change too quickly and expose her position. Then she'd look just as foolish as he had.

"Aha. Now, little dove, I shall kill you." she heard him speak from the tail of the wreckage. "Goodbye."

A hand lowered to unclasp her pistol's holster before fingers curled around the handle and pulled it free, the muzzle lifting to point in the general direction she remembered him being, the smoke blocking her view as well as his. Little dove? She'd have shot him just for that if she'd been able to see him... A thousand insults bubbled up in her throat, held at bay by her pursed lips. While she wanted nothing more than to insult his intelligence or perhaps his endowment, she knew shouting at him would give away her position and she liked living a little more than she liked being an ass hole.
Dialogue Color: Brown

Holger Heyerdahl

September 07, 2018, 01:30:30 pm #6 Last Edit: November 16, 2018, 09:51:03 am by Holger Heyerdahl
Ready for death-dealing, Holger was surprised to find that the little pilot was gone. "Huh?" His lack of eloquence could be blamed on his befuddlement, but truth be told even at his best Holger was not exactly the loquacious type. His rifle swung with his gaze, trying to locate her and put an end to all of this. "Where did you fly to, little dove?" He said to no one, but intended for the pilot to hear him if she was still within earshot.

Training and realization kicked in as the smoke cleared and Holger finally spotted her, with her side-arm pulled and raised with deadly intent. His rifle now trained on her, he felt nothing but pride and respect for his opponent. At last a formidable foe. While Holger had dreamt of battle and glory when enlisting, the war had proven to be a disappointment in that regard. Huddled in trenches, waiting for the artillery to rain down on him and his foes alike, it was a wake-up call Holger didn't know he needed. There was only death in war, no honor. "Ah. Found you."

Weapons pointed at each other, Holger sized her up as best as the smoke would allow. The fierce glint of a Valkyrie shined in her eyes. She hated him, there was no doubt. She held strong and didn't surrender under threat of death. While the theory would hold Holger's rifle to be the superior weapon at this distance, it had already malfunctioned twice. Would it fail him yet a third time? Courageous, he had often been called by his superior officers. Insane, his comrades had chuckled at his daring.

But Holger was not stupid. It was best to be sure.

With a quick move, Holger ducked down behind the tail of the felled aircraft and double-checked the readiness of his weapon when he believed the coast to be clear. "I wonder if you will shoot me? It is much more difficult to kill a man when you look him in the eye than it is to drop bombs on his head. Not everyone has the balls." He said with a laugh. The weapon appeared to be functional to his eye, he could find nothing wrong with it. To test it, he raised it into the air and fired twice, hoping to draw her to cover to allow him to reposition himself. "I know that you don't, girl."
Dialogue Color - Orange

Melody

"Ah. Found you," the man announced and again, the pilot felt like rolling her eyes but she knew better than to take her gaze off him, even for the brief second it would have taken to sass the stranger. Her body was tense, coiled like a snake, ready to bolt or move to cover if it became necessary, her finger pressing lightly against the trigger as they sized each other up. He was definately larger than her, there was no mistaking that. The pilot would need to avoid a physical altercation with him at all costs because she knew she couldn't win if it came down to fists against fists, not against him anyway. Although, she'd put her best effort into it if it came down to it. She stared into his eyes, her expression stern and hard and dripping with a venom she might not have felt had they met under different circumstances.

Her head lifted a little, brows aloft, as the brute ducked for cover, the sound of his gun being fiddled with bringing another sly grin to her lips. Maybe she should offer to lend him one of her guns, make the whole situation a little more fair, or maybe they could stand back to back and march ten paces out before shooting wildly at one another... But those were thoughts for another time, right now she had to focus on not getting shot and on maybe, if she was lucky, on shooting him.

"I wonder if you will shoot me? It is much more difficult to kill a man when you look him in the eye than it is to drop bombs on his head. Not everyone has the balls," her grin turned into a scowl and the woman glowered in the direction he'd gone, her gun still trained on his position, ready to pull the trigger if he stuck his giant crazy head out. Her breath caught in her throat, then, the echoing sounds of gunfire sending a dose of adrenaline through her body and goosebumps along her skin. Despite her urge to get up and move, she stayed stubbornly where she was, half crouched in smoke, gaze staring holes into the bit of the tail he hid behind.

"I know that you don't, girl," he added. The urge to shoot him rose with every word that spilled from his insane mouth. Clearly he was nuts. Was the Independent so desperate that they took on actual berserkers now? With a twitching of one eye, her finger tightened against the trigger of her pistol, shooting two warning shots into the metal between her and him, knowing she wasn't going to hit him with them. "Why don't you stick your head out and find out?" she offered, half fake politeness and half thinly veiled aggression in her voice.
Dialogue Color: Brown

Holger Heyerdahl

September 08, 2018, 06:26:07 pm #8 Last Edit: November 16, 2018, 09:51:27 am by Holger Heyerdahl
She fired back! A thrill shuddered its way down Holger's spine. The courting dance was going well, at least to his reckoning. This might not end in the traditional sense, death or defeat as opposed to... the other thing, but Holger could not deny that there was an exciting adventure to their repartee. "A shot for a shot for a shot for a shot. You still missed me, girl."

He considered his options. Pop back up and, possibly, fire before she did. That would only work if he was able to surprise her. Taking cover as he did, Holger had lost any advantage he once had. But, he reminded himself, better safe than shot. He could move around the felled vehicle and find a way to get her from the flank. That, of course, had its risks as well. She was likely prepared for such a maneuver. Holger didn't know what to do.

Quote"Why don't you stick your head out and find out?"


That was an interesting question. Why didn't he? There was still the question as to whether she would be able to pull the trigger while looking him in the eye. Worst case scenario, she popped him once or twice in his ginger head and the war would be over. Holger was prepared for that.

He chewed on his tongue as he thought. Yes. Holger took a deep breath, readied the rifle in his shoulder, and rose out of cover. The pilot was not hard to find in his sights. But would he be in hers? "Well?" What did it matter, after all? The rifle dropped from his shoulder and he laughed like a mad man. Realization set in. There was nothing left to lose and to hope to win would be folly. Holger held his arms wide, exposing his chest, daring her to fire. "Shoot a man and kill him while he stares you in the eye. I am certain your Alliance Command would reward you with many medals for such an act."

What medals would he receive? Say, for instance, he killed the girl, claimed the ship as his trophy, survived this battle, and returned a hero. Holger May have been crazy, but he was not stupid. The Independents were fighting a losing war. Suddenly it all seemed inconsequential. He fully dropped his rifle to the ground and pounded his chest with his now empty hands. "You kill from the sky! Kill on the ground now, little dove. Shoot me in the chest. Kill me with your hand, not with a button. And then we both learn a lesson, don't we?" Holger waited for the shot and listened for the birds, but their song didn't come.
Dialogue Color - Orange

Melody

Melody stared hard at where he'd vanished, listening for any sounds of movement, wary of him and worried he might attempt to come around to ambush her from behind. She backed up a bit, keeping one side against the wreckage, breathing only when she had to. Her hands were steady and after the two initial shots he'd fired, her heart had calmed itself, leaving everything clear and focused in her eyes and ears, her mind zeroed in on him as completely as possible.

When he came out of cover, she tensed, her finger squeezing just a little, although she didn't fire just yet, watching him watch her instead. His rifle lowered and her brow arched in dubious confusion, gaze scanning his face, body and the hand holding his weapon once more, her own pistol trained upon his head.

"Well? Shoot a man and kill him while he stares you in the eye. I am certain your Alliance Command would reward you with many medals for such an act," he wagered.

Both brows shot up, then and she paused, baby blue gaze staring into his own eyes. Was this a trick? Some insane diversion meant to lower her guard so he could shoot her himself? Had he recieved word of backup and was now attempting to kill time while he waited for his comrades to show up? Her questions ceased and she watched his rifle hit the ground, her shoulders lowering ever so slightly. The pilot lifted herself up from a crouch and stood with her feet a shoulder's width apart, chin turned away from him a fraction of an inch, as though trying to see him from a marginally different angle might help her see his reasoning for what he was doing.

"You kill from the sky! Kill on the ground now, little dove. Shoot me in the chest. Kill me with your hand, not with a button. And then we both learn a lesson, don't we?" the man asked.

The muzzle of her gun lowered to point at his chest, her eyes still on his and a frown pulling at the corner of her lips. He would have killed her. Tried to twice, in fact. And yet here he was, now, asking for death. Just as she had. Although there was quite a bit less sarcasm in his voice than had been in hers. Her eyes narrowed in thought and quick as a whip, the pilot lowered her weapon and pulled the trigger, grazing the side of his right thigh. It would be enough to hurt, sure, and might make running a little difficult, but she hadn't hit any arteries and he wouldn't be bleeding out any time soon. Once she was finished, the pilot lowered her gun very slowly, keeping it at her side just in case. "I like you," she called to him in explanation, "Not a whole lot, obviously, but enough," Melody continued, shrugging one shoulder. "And medals are overrated," the woman added, her body still tense, ready to react if he was just tricking her.
Dialogue Color: Brown

Holger Heyerdahl

September 09, 2018, 12:44:45 pm #10 Last Edit: November 16, 2018, 09:51:56 am by Holger Heyerdahl
The leg. She shot him in the leg. A squeeze of the trigger without a moment's hesitation and she shot him in the leg. Holger's eyebrows narrowed at her. "You shot me." Angry? Surprised? Impressed? Holger felt all of these things and more. A lot goes through a man's head after he is wounded. He took a step, testing the wound. His leg didn't give out, there was no real muscle or bone damage. A wing. A graize. But still, bullet had met flesh. Another step. His weight held and he was able to take yet another towards her. "You shot me in the leg." He said through his teeth. He didn't bother to look down to check the amount of blood flow. He had been injured worse in childhood scuffles with his brothers.

The distance closed between them as he took another step. Not too fast, she was still armed, and Holger wasn't certain how long his leg would hold, but he had something to prove. One, two, three more steps and then, Holger was there, before her, within reach of a lunge but not quite close enough for a hug... or worse.

"You shot me in the leg." He said. "I told you to shoot me in the chest." Fist met chest at this last. Holger allowed the moment to linger, giving the pilot ample time to consider what she had done. Standing at his full height Holger towered over the girl. Brow furrowed, frowning, Holger thought back on everything that had happened. Not just in the last five minutes, but in his life, and what had brought him to this moment. What had made him ask her to shoot him. To end his life and this fruitless campaign in the name of Independence. Emotion overcame him. He could hold it back no longer.

Holger bellowed with laughter. Threw his head back and roared with mirth and joy. "You should have shot me in the chest, little dove. Now you will have to make conversation with Holger as it seems neither of us wishes to make more war this day. Do you have any food?"
Dialogue Color - Orange

Melody

Blue eyes lowered, then, to his leg, watching a meager amount of blood stain the fabric of his pants. He was fine, he'd live. Honestly, she was fairly certain he'd just need to rub some dirt on it and walk it off. Which...he seemed to start doing. In her direction. The pilot remained where she was, rooting herself to the ground with a suspicous frown. He was a big man and seemed to only get bigger with each step he took in her direction. The woman's chin tilted upward a bit to keep her eyes settled upon his, her hand still at her side, the pistol with it.

The moment was tense, to say the least. She watched him as he spoke, her own jaw clenched and her chest tight. At this distance, all he'd have to do was reach out and touch her. She could try to bolt but had no doubt he would be able to snag her before she got too far. Everything seemed to rest, then, upon whatever he did next and Melody waited to see how their confrontation would end.

Laughter. That was not what she'd expected. The girl flinched a little, her eyes wide as she watched him, shoulders seeming to relax almost instinctively. Violence and hostility she could handle, she was prepared for it, but such a jovial sound coming from an enemy had her more than a little baffled. Were they supposed to laugh in the company of one another?

"You should have shot me in the chest, little dove. Now you will have to make conversation with Holger as it seems neither of us wishes to make more war this day. Do you have any food?" he asked.

With a skeptical downturn of her lips, the pilot lifted her gun an inch or so before sliding it back into its holster and snapping the loop shut over it to keep it in place. "I'm sure I'll regret it later," she muttered, only half serious. With one more hard stare up at his face to make sure he wasn't going to rip her head off just yet, the girl turned and reached up to grab at the sleeve of her coat hanging over the side of the wreckage. Once the adrenaline wore off she was going to get cold, there was no doubt about it.

"Holger," the girl repeated absently. "That your name?" she asked, not really needing an answer. Digging into one of the pockets of her coat, Melody pulled out a non-regulation bag of almonds she'd hidden away on her way to her bomber and held them out to him. "I'm Melody," she informed him. She considered adding that she didn't like her name and would rather have been called Mel, but that felt a little too familiar and friendly for her liking.
Dialogue Color: Brown

Holger Heyerdahl

September 11, 2018, 09:55:14 am #12 Last Edit: November 16, 2018, 09:52:25 am by Holger Heyerdahl
Holger accepted the bag of almonds and examined it. They were wholly unfamiliar to him. "Holger. Yes. That is my name." What were they? He poked a finger in and pushed them around. Where were his manners? Holger offered a big smile. "Thank you for your rocks." He wasn't sure why he was thanking her, he had asked for food after all. But while his parents may not have been able to afford much more than gruel growing up, with the occasional home baked bread, they had at least instilled in their children manners.

"Are they for eating?" He removed his fingers and realized they were covered in a fine powder. A sniff and a taste and Holger's eyes lit up. "Salty!" He said, amazed. The almond went into his mouth and he worked it around for a moment. He frowned as the salt disintegrated on his tongue, leaving just a bland object in his mouth. Holger tested a bite. Not as hard as he thought it would be. An interesting texture, not wholly unpleasant, but the taste left something to be desired. It was sort of wooden.

Holger tested another, this time biting right away. The salted coating mixed with the wooden interior and provided a much more satisfying bite. "I have never had these al-monds, before. But they are not terrible." This time a handful, which left Holger chewing for a few seconds. Suddenly, his mouth was dry and as he tried to swallow, some of the almond decided it didn't want to go down. Holger began to choke. Coughing and sputtering and his face blushing to match his beard, Holger glared at the pilot. "Poison! You have poisoned me!"

A cough. A sharp intake of breath. Holger was fine. Red faced with an irritated throat, but fine. He looked down at the bag of almonds and tossed them back to Melody. "Melody is a nice name." He said, as if nothing had happened, though his voice was slightly hoarse. "Why does a girl with a nice name drop bombs for the Alliance?"
Dialogue Color - Orange

Melody

The pilot stared at him with furrowed, confused brows and parted lips, her gaze jumping around from the bag of almonds, his fingers, and his face. She supposed this wasn't a food he'd encountered before. He thanked her, for rocks, and she shook her head slowly in response, never taking her eyes from him.

"You're welcome...they're not..." she began slowly, flinching a little at his exclamation and discovery of the salty coating. Absolutely baffled by him, Melody found herself unintentionally leaning closer to watch him eat, fascinated by the way his brain was working out how to eat the snack she'd offered. She never thought almonds could be so interesting?

A hand lifted to try to stop him when she saw him grab a handful, but the woman wasn't fast enough and all of them ended up in his mouth. A gentle hum of what could have been befuddled concern filtered past her lips and she watched him struggle with the mouthful of almond paste. She frowned at his accusation, one hand reaching out toward him as though to try to settle on his chest before she yanked her arm back, chiding herself. She was about to ask him why she'd poison him when she could have shot him...but then he seemed to realize that he was actually fine.

"Mm!" she hummed in surprise, catching the bag and holding it against her chest, staring at his face as though trying to work out a complicated puzzle. His sudden compliment startled her and she reached into the bag to pull out an almond for herself.

"Why does a girl with a nice name drop bombs for the Alliance?" he asked.

Finally, Melody looked away from him to eye the wreckage of her bomber, feeling a little guilty for crashing the thing. She wasn't upset because the Alliance would be mad at her for it, but because she tended to get attached to the ships she flew. Reaching out, the pilot patted the bomber's carcass with most of her hand, still holding her almond between index finger and thumb.

"It seemed better than dying in a gutter somewhere," she answered simply, shrugging a shoulder nonchalantly, popping the nut into her mouth and turning to look around at the snow and trees. She didn't really agree or disagree with the Alliance's rules or their way of life. She'd just wanted to get out of the slums, away from the drugs and the loan sharks in her parent's lives, so she'd enlisted and never looked back. She hadn't cared where she'd go as long as it was away from there. Swallowing, Melody looked up at him with wary curiosity, "What about you? How'd the Independence get a brute like you on their side?" she asked.

Moving away from him a couple of steps, she emptied the bag of almonds and shoved them into her pants pocket. Crouching down, the girl scooped a handful of fresh, newly fallen and blissfully white snow into the bag and held it against her chest, melting it with her body heat. When she felt it turn from fluff to liquid, the pilot stood back up and held the cold water filled bag out to him carefully. "For your throat," she explained.
Dialogue Color: Brown

Holger Heyerdahl

September 12, 2018, 07:13:41 pm #14 Last Edit: November 16, 2018, 09:52:59 am by Holger Heyerdahl
"Ah, clever. Thank you." Holger said, graciously. He drank the water and cleared his airway, soothing the inflammation, and giving him his first water in two days. The Independent Faction was a lot of things. Scrappy and full of spirit. Principled and ready to put everything on the line. But they were not well supplied. Rifles, working or not, were few and far between. Ships were in constant need of repair. And water and food (not to mention almonds) were rationed heavily.

Holger considered all that in light of her question. The question was no longer why he decided to enlist, but rather, why did he continue to fight? He shrugged. "I am a good fighter. And there was a good fight to be fought." Boastful, perhaps, but not entirely untrue. Back on St. Albans, Holger was renowned for his wrestling and he and his siblings (in the Heyerdahl clan the women not only fought back but, especially in the case of his sister Mona, they often instigated and won the fights) had been taught from a young age to protect themselves. None of the siblings knew where their father came by his knowledge of fighting and weapons, but each was glad that he had it.

"I was looking for honor and glory." He said after a moment. "As you can see I am up to my balls in both." He laughed and it tasted as bitter as the almonds on his tongue. "War is tzao gao. They don't tell you that when they make you sign your name on their paper. Doesn't matter what side you fight for. Men die." He said and then thought better of it. "And girls." He smiled.
Dialogue Color - Orange

Melody

"War is tzao gao. They don't tell you that when they make you sign your name on their paper. Doesn't matter what side you fight for. Men die...And girls," the man said and Melody couldn't help but not in response. With a sigh, her hands settled on her hips and she looked back at the wreck of her ship, grimacing a little.

"Here, boost me up," she asked, not waiting for his response before moving closer to him and setting her foot on his knee. Hoping he'd assist her, she used him as leverage to get back on top of her downed bird. "I called for help before I crashed," she began informing him, lowering just her torso into the hole and keeping her legs outside so she wouldn't topple in and land on her face. Soft rummaging could be heard before she finally popped back out and slid down the metal on her belly, dirtying the front of her tank top with grime, soot, and dirt.

Once she was back in view, the supplies in her arms became visible, all of them a little blackened with soot, although that seemed simply a cosmetic issue. Dropping them onto the ground, Melody crouched to inspect them. A basic first aid and survival kit, several squares of emergency rations, a couple flares and a flare gun, and a thicker outer coat in her size. "I..." she paused, glancing up at him and then the sky, "Don't know when your help will arrive," she continued, gesturing at the supplies with an open palm, "If mine gets here first, these are yours," she murmured, looking back down as though embarrassed by her 'act of kindness'.
Dialogue Color: Brown

Holger Heyerdahl

September 14, 2018, 12:26:10 pm #16 Last Edit: November 16, 2018, 09:53:39 am by Holger Heyerdahl
Holger obliged her with a boost and couldn't help but remark on her weight. "You are so small!" He said, with a laugh. "Fighting up in the sky is a good place for you." As she searched through her ship, Holger sat tight and waited for her to return, his hand scratching at his beard.

Quote"I called for help before I crashed..."


This caused an eyebrow raise. If she had made a distress call, that would mean more of her Alliance friends would be coming. And soon. It would be best if Holger were not there when they arrived. He resolved to leave as soon as possible. The last place he wanted to go was a Prisoner of War camp. A man in his Division, Yorkie they called him, had escaped from one of the camps, and told everyone about it one night over their meager rations. Yorkie described it as a hell with everything but the flames. The prisoners were worked hard, hardly fed, and kept under constant guard. Dysentery and other sickness was common.  Some of them attempted to escape just to be shot by the guard towers and end their misery. Yorkie hinted that that had been his aim and his actual flight to freedom was accidental at best. Holger had asked Yorkie once why he had came back to fight, especially when the conditions were little better in the trenches, not to mention a fear of recapture. "Because they took my will to live away. And without that I have nothing left." Yorkie died in an Alliance bombing the next day and Holger didn't complain about his rations anymore.

"No help is coming for Holger. I will have to help myself." And just as he said it he was proven wrong by her gesture. He smiled, big and toothy and warm. "You are a funny little dove, Melody. You come from the sky, raining death and destruction in your wake. You shoot me, though I asked you to do that. You choke me with your salty rocks, but then offer me water and conversation." He looked down at her supplies, meager though they were even Holger could feel the thought behind them. He was truly touched. "And now this." He laughed. "The coat will not fit me. It is too small. Perhaps not every Purple Belly is-"

A sound interrupted him. Holger's ears perked up and strained to hear what it was. An engine. "Your friends are here." Holger grabbed the closest weapon, the flare gun, and made for the safety of the trees.
Dialogue Color - Orange

Maxell Graves

October 03, 2018, 11:54:38 pm #17 Last Edit: October 04, 2018, 12:09:23 am by Maxell Graves
A long, cold wind pulled at the gray thermal cloak layered about Major Maxell Graves' shoulders in a black mantle as he stared vigilantly across the frozen lake. A vibrant purple lining showed beneath the mantle as the synthetic fur flapped open in the winter air. A veteran Marine with plenty of hostile terrain beneath his boots, the Major honed his experience into a finely tuned instinct which guided his senses toward the most appropriate place to install a semi-permanent crossing in order to get supplies to ground forces preparing to advance following the day's bombing raids. As if summoned by the thought, a pair of wailing whistles carried on the steady wind as preludes to the resounding explosion eradicating both treacherous terrain and the rebel's front lines of defense. Maxell lowered the long-range viewer through which he peered and turned his head toward the wreckage being tossed above the distant treeline. A burning streak above it all caught his attention, and he brought the viewer back up to his hard, seasoned eyes. The feint outline of a bomber descending along a sharply shortening arc cut in a near crescent above the treeline before it crashed down. Maxell scowled disapprovingly.

"Navy flyboys. Wasting their time with these bombing runs, slugging back and forth like fat bugs waiting to be swat from the sky. I recommended a combination of napalm and flamethrowers. Command said they'd 'take it into consideration'. Hrm."

"What's a napalm?" came Captain Brenni's reply. The wind died down around them, settling the Major's thermal coat and giving a wide berth to the mounting tension.

Maxell grunted, shaking his head. "Command asked the same thing. You really ought to brush up on your history."

"Is that why you insisted on coming this far into the field, sir? For a history lesson?" The Captain's tone carried the air of defiance, no doubt displeased with the Major's unannounced inspection of the satellite command center.

A puff of air escaped Maxell's nose, steaming tendrils drifting downwind. "Negative, Captain. The purpose of today's visit is to determine whether you're actually fit for this operation, or if the promotion of one of your subordinates is in order. I don't think I need to reiterate the importance of this operation. If your preparations prove... lacking... it could stall rations and supplies to advancing units, further hampering the quelling of this ill-conceived rebellion against the Alliance's order. So. Perhaps see to your preparations, and concern yourself less with my presence."

The captain's mouth opened to speak, then snapped shut. A glower grew beneath the Captain's cap. Major Graves smiled ever so slightly as he felt the Captain's disdain burning over his shoulder. "Major! Captain!" Maxell's eyes rolled as the young lieutenant - Wilkes, maybe? - approached the hilltop vantage point not far from the command post. "Message from Central, sir!" Captain Brenni looked to Major Graves with a raised brow, clearly expecting the senior officer to take the lead in this matter as well. "Hrrm. Report." "Corps resources are to be mobilized in the event of downed bombers. Brass - er, Command - doesn't want the target information to fall into enemy hands. Intel says we've got a dead cabbage carrier roughly 20 klicks out. Orders, sir?"

"Prepare a reconnaissance sweep of the area to find the bomber's black box and any survivors." The Captain kept his brow raised as he issued the order, expecting Maxell to cut in at any time. "That won't be necessary. Just get me a medic and a Kappa." "All due respect, Major, I really must advise against you going any deeper into the field of battle. They're still dropping payloads down there!" More whistling, crashing, and the slightest tremor of earth followed as if on the Captain's command. "Noted, Captain. And equally unnecessary." The Captain's brow arched higher. "As you insist, Major. Though I must admit I fail to see the purpose of such a risk." "You fail to see the purpose of much, Captain."

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

The hovering amphibious transport known as a Kappa came to a stop about 50 feet from where the pillar of smoke rose in the bare, frozen wood. The trees too thick to continue except on foot, the Kappa operator had no choice but to bring the multi-terrain vehicle to a rest and open the vertically lifting side doors. A modest accompaniment of four armored Marines put their violet boots into the snow followed by Major Graves donning a shining purple flak vest beneath his gray coat. Feeling more than a bit nostalgic for a simpler time when the sum of his own responsibility fit comfortably in his own two hands, even if the stock never seemed to sit right against his shoulder, Maxell stepped out ahead of the quartet as if intending to take point. Instead, he motioned with his head for the grunts to go ahead as he fell in with them.

Following the group toward their target, Maxell wasn't surprised to see the extent of the damage that'd been done to the Foxbat. He was, however, surprised to find a survivor. The medic went toward the pilot, asking her the obvious and checking her vitals before inspecting her for wounds. For his part, Maxell patrolled around the craft, adjusting his wide cap against the wind whipping through the broken trees left in the wake of the Foxbat's unplanned landing. Happening to glance down at the exact right time, Maxell noticed a discarded rifle just in time to avoid tripping over it and taking a tumble into the snow. Bending down for a better look, Maxell snatched the rifle up and looked it over. He admired the craftsmanship for a moment, noting that he'd not yet seen such a model, before coming to a realization. One word slithered from between his lips with a disapproving hiss. "Rebels."

Maxell's hand went to a pistol holstered beneath his gray cloak. He took the rest of the scene in slowly, catching a mess of hastily dropped emergency supplies and large foot falls heading toward the treeline. "Secure the perimeter and sweep the trees. Prepare to engage the enemy!" For a moment Maxell imagined he'd found the rifle loaded, and a brief grin lit up his face before disappearing as he himself followed the foot falls pocking the powdery snow.
The bugle sounds - the charge begins, But on this battlefield no one wins
The smell of acrid smoke and horse's breath, As I plunge on into certain death


Iron Maiden, "The Trooper"

Melody

October 04, 2018, 12:27:22 am #18 Last Edit: October 04, 2018, 12:32:02 am by Melody
"Your friends are here,” Holger announced, grabbing the flare gun among her supplies and moving away from the wreckage into the trees.

Still crouched, the bomber pilot stared after him for a moment before sighing heavily and looking in the direction of the sound that heralded the arrival of her ‘friends’. A grimace pulled at her lips and Melody stood slowly, finding she was becoming quite sore the longer she stayed out in the cold, the adrenaline wearing off and allowing her to feel the extent of the bruises forming on her chest where the straps of her seat had been. The wind chill finally worked its way through the excitement of her two near death experiences and Mel bent to pick the jacket up up, the group of Alliance soldiers entering her man-made clearing as she straightened, coat in hand.

Baby blue gaze slid over the Marines, pausing a moment when she spotted the Officer among them. She was largely underdressed to be in the presence of such Brass, her hat having been tossed into the fire and her under tank top clearly exposed, coat resting limp in the hook made by her index finger. She stiffened in anticipation of some sort of rebuke. The medic approached her and she waved her free hand at him grumpily, “No no, I’m fine. Yea, bumps and bruises, nothing broken. Stop poking at me. Ow! Yes, obviously that hurt,” she snapped, reaching out to poke the medic in the chest where he’d ‘poked’ her, checking her for the bruising she clearly possessed.

"Rebels,” the Major hissed and Melody’s head snapped around to stare at him. At first, she found herself worrying that he might have spotted the Browncoat somewhere in the trees. Then, she started worrying about why she was worrying. She liked Holger, yes, but he was the enemy...even she couldn't sell that to herself... In any case, the rifle in the Major's hand informed her that it had been the weapon that had tipped him off. She ignored the medic fussing over her now, choosing instead to keep her attention on the Officer.

"Secure the perimeter and sweep the trees. Prepare to engage the enemy!" the man ordered, and it took everything for Melody not to wince.

“Sir,” she began, not sure how to play this but feeling compelled to say something. Her voice was stern, clipped, and almost professional. It was about as near to professional as Melody could manage. “The… Independent soldier was… mortally wounded before he ran off. He’ll likely die in the snow, I don’t see him being a threat,” she told him, gesturing toward the gun in the Major’s hand, “Especially without a weapon…” Mel added, clenching her jaw and slowly pulling her jacket on, wincing as she realized she might have bruised a rib in the crash. Adrenaline was a hell of a drug.

When he started off in the direction she’d seen Holger retreat, a knot formed in her chest. The pilot pushed the medic’s hands away from her as the poor man attempted to check her blood pressure, hurrying after the man in charge and clearing her throat. She didn’t know what else to say and she sure as hell wasn’t planning on laying her hands on him so really, she had absolutely no idea what her next plan of action was. Anything she did could very easily lead to a court marshal or being marked KIA manually… A growl of frustration rattled in her throat. She hated feeling helpless.
Dialogue Color: Brown

Holger Heyerdahl

Away from the carnage of the wreck, the trees concealed sight and sound and disoriented the senses. Snow was falling more forcefully now, and the wind was carrying that which had not yet settled. The sounds of distant gunfire was sparse now, and Holger knew that, for his comrades, the battle was over. They had lost an unwinnable fight, but perhaps Holger could make up for it in some way. And he had an idea just how he could do that.

From his hiding place off of his trail, he watched as the Alliance soldiers crunched through the snow. His footprints had been easy to disguise once he had decided to, and doubling back equally so. Games of hide and seek on St. Albans with his siblings had, strangely, come in very handy for this very situation. A large tree obscured him from view for now, but Holger knew his luck would only last so long. So he would have to be quick.

The flare gun was deposited safely into a coat pocket, Holger retrieved a large knife from his belt, and waited for an opportune moment to strike. Any one of the Soldiers would be a prize. But the one in the cape? His was the belly Holger truly wished to open. But he would save dessert for last.

Once they passed, Holger circled around the tree and began to follow. Careful with his steps, he caught up with one of the trailing soldiers, grabbed him around the mouth, and forced the blade of the knife in between the man's collarbone and throat. The Purple Belly managed a muffled cry of pain before Holger picked him up and twisted around the side of a tree, concealing himself and his foul deed.

Maybe it wasn't exactly like hide and seek back at home.
Dialogue Color - Orange

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