Promises to Keep
Author's Note: This is a sequel to Of Love and Gunsmoke, my first FFVI fan fiction involving Locke as a detective. This is a classic World War II setting, in Europe. The dates may be slightly off, but I don't want Locke to be around 40 by the time he gets sent to Europe. Europe doesn't exist in the game, and neither do a lot of the figures, but to make this somewhat like history, you have to break the boundaries. Five years have passed since the end of the story. Locke is now 29 and his wife Celes is 26, with several children, and still live in Mobliz with Terra and Sabin, who have some children of their own as well. Everything is peaceful in the land, but then war in Europe begins. Sabin and Locke are drafted by the U.S. Army and sent over to fight the Nazis, much to Terra and Celes's disapproval. They are tearful to leave. From D-Day on, the pair fights alongside other soldiers and other characters from the original story, trying to stay alive just to return to see their families, who they promised their return to alive, and uncover an insidious Nazi plot to turn the tide of the war. As a small side story, Terra, Celes, Katarin, and the rest of the Mobliz women all pitch in and stick together to help their men overseas, while encountering some difficulties of their own.
P.S. If any of the terminology I use describing the different peoples offends anyone, I apologize. That's what soldiers said at the time. I also apologize for any foul language I use. In wartime, you can't really watch what comes out of one's mouth.
“There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but boys, it is all hell.”
-Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman
Part 1: Gathering Rumors
Why'd I have to go? Life was so perfect in Mobliz, with Celes and Terra and Sabin. I had kids, a wife, and happiness, and now it's all gone and turned bleak, just like this friggin' weather. It's been over five months since we've left Mobliz for our basic training and then for our Ranger training in England. It sucks. That's all I can say…life is sucking right now. How the hell did I get drafted of all people? I didn't wanna go. I wanted to stay…with my wife and kids. To hell with this war!
“Stop thinking to yourself Cole!” I slap myself, knocking myself back into the real world. I look up to the sky, sitting on an ammo can trying my best to not take a drag from another GI's cigarette. I made a promise to my love Celes and I have to live up to it. Well…here I was, in merry ole England, with the 2nd Ranger Battalion. I know no one here…except for Sabin. Thank God he's in my same squad.
Since the war began a year ago, the Nazis have ravaged every part of Europe, except for England. The draft came into effect a few months after we declared war on them. Shame Sabin and I were in good condition, because they saw us as prime choices for the Army Rangers, to send to the slaughter. I remember that piece of paper, that horrid piece of telegram paper. I remembered what it was like for Sabin and me to tell our families that we were goin' to war. We received those papers a while ago...we were shocked. We talked about it, only among ourselves though. We had no idea what to say to our families…but at least it was better than Celes or Terra receiving the letters first. I still remember that awful night after dinner with the family.
“Ummmm…Celes…kids…there's something I need to tell you all.” I tried to muster up enough courage to break the news, my fist clenched on the draft letter. I couldn't bear to tell them.
“What is it honey” Celes asked me, with the most beautiful innocent blue eyes I've ever seen. This was gonna hurt her more than anyone else.
“Yeah daddy…what is it?” Catherine and my five-year-old son Lawrence ask me. My other two kids, my other son Adrian and my other daughter Mairin were only three and one, and Mairin couldn't really talk as they sit next to my wife.
“Well family…you know how there's a war out there? The country declared war on the Nazis, and they need people and…” I couldn't finish my sentence as I lifted my right hand to show them the draft letter. The room suddenly becomes filled with silence. “I'm reported to leave within the next day for training.” Their jaws dropped.
“No…no…please no Locke…you can't go! Please don't go Locke!” Celes was pleading as tears began to run down her face. She pounded her fist on the table. The startled kids began to cry, all four of them. “We have a family Locke…we have our love…I can't lose those things over this stupid war! Don't go!” She gets up as she tries to take the paper from my hands and tear it up. I couldn't let her as I pulled my hand away every time she swiped at it. She broke down, crying hysterically, as she leans right on me…the tears dripping down on my shirt, her golden hair curtaining my shoulder. I could feel her tears…they were warm. “Don't go…please…” She begged.
“I'm sorry Celes…I'm sorry kids. My country needs me, and I have to fight. There's nothing I can do…I'm sorry.” I broke down as well and cried over Celes's shoulder. There we were, huddled together as a family, crying over the news. I could hear a big commotion in the house over. It was Terra sobbing uncontrollably. I assumed Sabin told her the bad news as well. I could only imagine Sabin wrapping his big arms around the svelte Terra as she cried on him. Sabin wasn't much of the cryin' type though, but I think he might have shed a tear or two.
The next day a bus came to load up the draftees and send them to infantry training. I remember how painful it was to grab my things and load them on, my family watching…secretly crying inside. Sabin walked right up to me.
“They didn't take it well either did they?” He asked.
“No…not at all.” I replied rather glumly.
“Terra is heartbroken…I didn't know what to say to my family. Vincent can't stop crying, and my other two kids, Ryan and Madonna, don't even know where I'm going, but they're sad.”
“Locke…I love you…always remember that.” Celes says out loud to me, as I was about to get on the bus. I suddenly walk over and kiss her. My kids ran up to give me their hugs and kisses.
“Don't worry Celes. I'll return…I promise. Don't worry kids. Daddy's gonna come home, and then daddy will never leave you again…ok? I love you kids and your mommy too much to leave you for good.”
“Ok daddy….we love you. Be safe over there please daddy.” They responded.
“I love you daddy…” Catherine said to me. I was nearly moved to tears…she was my special little girl.
“Celes…you're the light of my life. When I'm over there, I'll write and think about you every day. Goodbye Celes…I will come home.”
“Goodbye Locke…please take care of yourself…I'll be waiting for you.”
“Always Celes…” I said like that night I got rid of the old Locke inside of me.
“Always Locke…” We kiss one last time and then I turn to the bus, and board it, with a tear in my eye. I hope the feeling of those lips stay with me for as long as this war lasts.
“<Sigh> Sabin…what'd you tell you family?”
“I gave them a letter, but I kept a copy for myself.” He reached into his pocket and opened it up.
THIS PAINS ME MORE THAN ANYTHING IN THE WORLD. HOWEVER, I'VE BEEN CALLED TO DUTY, AND I NEED TO PERFORM MY DUTY FOR YOU AND FOR MY COUNTRY. TERRA…MY BEAUTIFUL WIFE…YOU'LL BE IN MY HEART EVERY DAY AND NIGHT I'M OVERSEAS. TO MY KIDS, YOU ARE MY FUTURE…I WILL COME HOME TO SEE YOU ALL GROW UP. DON'T WORRY ABOUT ME…MY BROTHER EDGAR IS ALSO FIGHTING. WE WILL KEEP EACH OTHER COMPANY ALONG WITH LOCKE. WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS WAR. YOUR HUSBAND WILL COME BACK TO YOU ALL. I LOVE YOU TERRA, AND I WILL NOT DISAPPOINT YOU.
WITH ALL MY LOVE,
SABIN RENE FIGARO
The letter was tender…I shoulda done that before I left but I didn't. But I left them a promise, and Locke Cole always keeps his promises, ever since I met Celes those years back in Gestahl's HQ, I always kept my promises to her.
End of flashback
The English sky was as grey as could be…much different from the warm and sunny temperatures of Mobliz. I hated this place. Everyday we trained and trained and trained, always doing the same things. If it wasn't squad tactics, then it was weapons familiarization. Figured Sabin and I didn't need that junk. We already knew how to pop a man in between the eyes. Sabin and I luckily got promoted to Corporal, so we didn't face the wrath of the sergeants all the time. Sabin became an expert machine gunner, so he was always totin' around that .30 caliber machine gun of his. He was still the brute I remembered that time at the Albrook Club, so the MG was no sweat to carry. I was assigned as a scout/sniper, usually carrying either an M1 Garand or even a M1903A Springfield sniper rifle. Looked like my detective/treasure hunter experience was useful to the military huh?
Everyday I became more anxious. Everyday I became antsy to get this war over with. Thank God he was in my squad. He was my only means of sanity. Unfortunately, I couldn't say the same about him. He was devastated to hear that his brother was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, instead of the Rangers. He kept on bothering the sergeants to get the info on his brother Edgar, but every time he'd come back furious. His brother volunteered while Sabin was drafted, which also kinda set the wrong mood. We were both nervous though…because we didn't even know what we were doing. All I know was that there was some big thing going on called Operation: Overlord. All I knew was that it was gonna be huge. Sabin happens to walk to the ammo cans I'm sitting at, noticing my shaky hands.
“Too bad you can't have a cig huh?” He says like a smartass. “I noticed you have that nervous hand shaking whenever something comes up. Is there something wrong?”
“Yeah…exactly…but a promise is a promise. This shaking…I dunno…I've had this ever since I heard about this war.”
“Yeah I know what you mean. Hey…you heard anything else about this Overlord? I heard we're gonna invade France.”
“Jesus Christ…the friggin' krauts have that place secured tighter than a vice grip! Are the brass insane?”
“Apparently they aren't. We're also gonna have the Canadians and Brits helping us. The Soviets are pushing them back from the east, but they're gettin' massacred in the process.”
“They'd better be of some help damn it. I ain't gonna throw my life down for a bunch of lobster-backs and commies who won't fight with us. Man…we'd be better off back home, like the good old days when we fought Kefka and Gestahl.”
“Amen to that Locke…the brass has got me training so much…this MG feels like is a part of me now. The headaches I have are enough to make a skyscraper collapse.”
“Sorry to hear that…but my scout training ain't no better. They've got me runnin' for miles and miles all around this English trash heap called countryside. I'm always crawling, always snooping. I know I'm gonna get whacked by the Jerries when I'm out in front. I just hope they gimme that Springfield rifle when I'm out there. I'd rather be sniping than gettin' sniped.” I don't know what possessed me to say that, but for some reason I did. The Jerries was a nickname the GIs gave the Germans. I dunno why, but the name sticks to them better than krauts.
From what I could understand, the Germans were no laughing matter. These guys were tough…really tough. If they could almost conquer all of Europe, then Sabin and I were in for a fight. They were headed obviously by Uncle Adolph Hitler, but under him was perhaps the most threatening man of all…Field Marshall Erwin Rommel. The man was good…at everything. He led the Panzer Tank Divisions all over North Africa and Europe, smashing most of the opposition. He was an honorable man though, nothing like his pig “führer” Hitler. He had a wife, a son, and the respect of the entire German army. I read about him when I was in the Figaro library, just as the war began. What I wouldn't give to see this man…it'd be a shame if he died. Suddenly we heard a familiar voice.
“Sabin! Locke! Oh my God…you guys are here too? I can't believe I'm here with you guys!” It was Mayor Duane, M1 Carbine rifle in hand. I was rather surprised to see him. I figured his duties as mayor would override the draft, but I guess not.
“What are you doing here Duane?” Sabin asks.
“Well it looks like a mayor isn't safe from the draft. I'm now part of the 101st Engineers. The beauty is because I was a mayor, I automatically became a sergeant!”
We quickly rose to our feet to properly address a sergeant, feeling like idiots for not knowing beforehand.
“No need for that men, we're all pals.” He pats us both on the shoulders “That kind of crap isn't necessary with you guys.”
“Good. I can't stand that proper Army protocol garbage.” I reply bitterly. “No offense.”
“None taken. Anyway…in case you're wondering, Katarin's running the show in Mobliz, while Celes and Terra act as the security and leaders in the Mobliz activities. The kids are fine…I made sure of that.” We were actually relieved to hear some good news for a change.
“How did Katarin take your call to duty?”
“Not good at all…” Duane replies with a rather somber tone to his voice, “She wouldn't stop sobbing and screaming. It took me a while to calm her down. I miss my beautiful Katarin everyday. Poor Hope…my little girl…she was especially upset. She's my little angel, and now I can't see her…it's what kills me every day I'm here. My Tyler is also gettin' to be a big boy too. I'm gonna miss him just as much.”
“Hey Duane…you're a sergeant now. What have you been hearing about this big operation?” I ask with curiosity.
“Well from what I know, this is the largest undertaking of men from all three nations. We're supposed to land in Normandy, and the Germans think we're gonna land in Calais. If this works, we'll catch the Jerries with their pants down and we can go all the way to Berlin!”
“Certainly optimistic aren't we Duane?” I cut in making a snide remark.
“Shut up Locke…I like where he's going with this.” Sabin responds.
“Whatever guys…in the Army, a rumor is rarely true. We'll have to wait when the big sergeants and top brass tell us what's happening.”
“Yeah…you're right. I'll just have to wait.” I agree with Duane.
“Ok guys…well I have to return to my unit…I'll see you later I hope.”
“Later Duane...” We both say as he fades into the crowd of soldiers.
“Hey! What's the deal with ignoring your own brother?” A man suddenly barks. We turn around and instantly I saw Sabin's eyes light up.
“EDGAR! You son of a bitch…how are you?” Sabin yells in the loudest tone possible while squeezing Edgar so hard his eyes would've popped out.
“That bitch is your mother too idiot! I'm peachy keen little bro…how are you and how's that fine woman Terra?” Good old Edgar…no matter what or where he is, governor or soldier, the city of Figaro or in another country, he's still thinking about nothing but women. Even on his deathbed…he'll be thinking about the broads.
“She's gettin' lovelier every day, not like she already isn't! My kids are growin' up too. My Vincent is getting' big, just like me!”
“Lovely. Soon we'll have two Sabins on our hands…and that's too much for me!” Edgar jokes lightheartedly. “I'm glad for you Sabin…hey I see you got promoted!” He notices our newly acquired stripes. “You see this?” He points to his helmet, revealing a golden bar. My God…he was a 2nd lieutenant…the last person I wanted to lead me into battle no offense to Sabin. Sabin quickly rushes into a salute like a stiff.
“That's not necessary little brother. Don't ever feel it's necessary to salute me. Maybe when Major Garamonde is around you should salute, but not now.”
“Major Garamonde?” I ask.
“Yep…it's the most goddamned thing in the world. Ever since I volunteered to fight and leave Figaro to my chancellor, he decided to come with me. He took my orders back in Figaro, but his previous cop training allowed him to get promoted before I did. Lucky bastard he is…”
“Hey bro…are you gonna be part of this invasion?” Sabin asks Edgar.
“Sorry, but I won't. I'm being dropped behind the lines. For what reasons I don't know exactly, but it involves opening the way for you guys.” Sabin looks worried and disappointed.
“Hmmmm…interesting. I guess we can only wait.” I say.
“Too true Locke…well I have to report back to my platoon. Hopefully I'll see you after the invasion.”
“Take care Edgar…I'll see you there.” Sabin hugs his brother, nearly suffocating him. Edgar, like Duane, disappears into the different units.
“You can be such a softy Sabin…for such a big guy.” I sarcastically said to him.
“Shut up Locke…”
There were men from everywhere: Figaro, South Figaro, Tzen, Albrook, Doma, Maranda, the Veldt, Jidoor, and even my home town of Kohlingen. I didn't know anyone though, which was the problem. At least there were two more people I knew, those people being Duane and Edgar. Hopefully I would see them in France. Hell…maybe we'll fight together too. An hour passed until suddenly the sergeants called us in for a meeting. We were all huddled together, rather nervous as to what we were going to do. Suddenly Master Sergeant Arvis silences the crowd.
“Kill the lights Pfc. Martin.” The lights suddenly go out, and a projector lights up, flashing artsy slides no one could understand. “As you all know, the Germans are running Europe ragged, and it's up to us to stop them once and for all. We will all be part of the grand invasion of Europe, called Operation: Overlord. We will be crossing the English Channel to the coasts of Normandy. There will be five separate beachheads we must establish off the coasts of Normandy. They are Juno, Gold, Sword, Utah, and Omaha. Gold and Sword will be established by the British armies, including the 2nd Special Air Service. Juno will be established by the Canadians. Our troops will land on Utah and Omaha. Units from the 5th Ranger Battalion and 2nd Army Division will spearhead the assault on Utah, while the 2nd Ranger Battalion, 101st Engineers, and 1st Army Division will spearhead the assault on Omaha. The day before the initial invasion, troops from the 101st, 82nd, and 506th Airborne Divisions will be dropped behind enemy lines to take out German defenses. Remember, the Germans think we're landing at Calais, but Rommel knows that Normandy is also a target, so they will be well defended at the beaches. If the airborne units are able to cut off their supplies, taking the beachheads will be much easier than expected. After our initial invasion, the 3rd and 4th Armored Division, led by Generals Patton and Bradley will spearhead our attacks into the French countryside. That will take a lot of weight off of our shoulders, as we then have to take back France, town by town until we reach Paris. We will begin our invasion in two days, with the airborne divisions being dropped one day before. With luck, persistence, and the grace of God…we will win this. Good luck brave soldiers. Dismissed!”
So that was it…that was we were going up against. They're sending us like lambs to the slaughter. God damn it I hate this war. Sabin, Duane, and I were going up against near suicide the minute we set foot on that sand, while Sabin's brother Edgar faced likely leaden death the day before we would. This plan was bullshit, pure bullshit. I could only pray it would work. I managed to find a piece of paper and a pen, and I wrote to Celes.
WE'VE FINALLY BEEN TOLD WHAT WE'RE DOING HERE. WE'RE GONNA INVADE FRANCE…LANDING ON NORMANDY. THE GERMANS ARE WELL PREPARED, BUT I KNOW I WILL LIVE THROUGH IT. I HAVE SABIN AND DUANE IN MY LANDING GROUP WHEN WE LAND ON OMAHA BEACH, AND WE'LL PROTECT EACH OTHER TO THE BEST OF OUR ABILITIES. I HOPE THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT. I HOPE TO SEE CATHERINE, LAWRENCE, ADRIAN, AND MAIRIN WHEN THIS IS OVER. I WANT TO SEE HOW BIG THEY GOT. I WANT TO SEE YOUR PRETTY FACE AGAIN. THESE BRITISH WOMEN ARE HIDEOUS. IF I COULD ONLY GET A SMALL GLIMPSE OF YOUR FACE, I COULD FIGHT FOR DAYS, EVEN WEEKS. SAY HI TO TERRA AND KATARIN FOR ME. KEEP THINKING ABOUT ME AS I AM ALWAYS THINKING ABOUT YOU. I WILL RETURN TO YOU ALL. I LOVE YOU.
CPL LOCKE COLE, 2nd RANGER BATTALION
Sabin and Duane walked up to me, after I folded the letter and gave it to the private collecting mail.
“What was that Locke?” Duane asks.
“It was a letter to my family. Don't laugh.” I remark defensively.
“Oh on the contrary pal…I wrote to my Katarin yesterday. Last time I heard from her, she was still expecting another baby. I'm so excited about it…hopefully it'll be a boy. I want it to name it when I come home and she's still pregnant.”
“Our wives are amazing aren't they?” Sabin asks. “I wrote to Terra two days ago. She's so eager to respond every time she gets a letter. I got a response only a week ago. The town is just fine and the kids are peachy keen.”
“They certainly are amazing. I heard from Celes that she's working at an arms factory in Figaro, building guns. Hell…maybe she made this Springfield I'm holding now!” I say, thinking way too optimistically.
“Really? Terra is working at a tank factory. She's been asked to be in the new 'Rosie the Riveter' picture for the Army newsletter. She'll look great…I can't wait to see that.”
“Good thing Katarin's still around. If it wasn't for her, Mobliz would be in quite a pickle and the kids would be running amok!”
“Our wives are certainly something huh?” I ask. “Hey guys, we have to make a promise to each other. When we land on that beach, and if we're together, we keep each other alive…ok? We're all goin' home to our families after this! We're not gonna leave them!”
“Here here Locke! Sabin yells as he places his hand on mine and Duane's.
“For love,” I say.
“For our families,” Duane says
“And for ourselves, as brothers in arms!” Sabin finishes.
We then go our separate ways. Duane went to go write one last letter to Katarin while in England. Sabin went to go find his brother Edgar, and I was left by myself again. Damn it! My hands were shaking again, and there was nothing to fix it. I took a swig from my canteen. It used to be a simple shot of Jim Bean that would calm my nerves, or the loving touch of Celes, but neither was here. This water was terrible, but it was all I had. A lone private comes up to me and hands me a piece of paper.
“What the hell is this Private?” I ask.
“It's a letter for all of the troops, signed by General Eisenhower.”
I pick up the letter and open it. Inside is a finely written address to all of the troops invading tomorrow and the day after the airborne division drops. General Eisenhower was the Supreme Allied Commander of this entire gig. He was the boss, the big cheese, the head honcho of the entire army. Only the president had more power than this guy. It was kinda sweet of him to write to us like this. The letter was in plain black, and it read:
SOLDIERS, SAILORS, AND AIRMEN OF THE GREAT ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY FORCE!
YOU ARE ABOUT TO EMBARK UPON THE GREAT CRUSADE, TOWARDS WHICH WE HAVE STRIVEN THESE MANY MONTHS. THE EYES OF THE WORLD ARE UPON YOU. THE HOPES AND PRAYERS OF LIBERTY LOVING EVERYWHERE MARCH WITH YOU. IN COMPANY WITH OUR BRAVE ALLIES AND BROTHERS IN ARMS ON OTHER FRONTS, YOU WILL BRING ABOUT DESTRUCTION OF THE GERMAN WAR MACHINE, THE ELIMINATION OF NAZI TYRANNY OVER THE OPPRESSED PEOPLES OF EUROPE, AND SECURITY FOR OURSELVES IN A NEW WORLD.
YOUR TASK WILL NOT BE AN EASY ONE. YOUR ENEMY IS WELL TRAINED, WELL EQUIPPED, AND BATTLE-HARDENED. HE WILL FIGHT SAVAGELY. I HAVE FULL CONFIDENCE IN YOUR COURAGE, DEVOTION IN DUTY, AND SKILL IN BATTLE. WE WILL ACCEPT NOTHING LESS THAN FULL VICTORY!
GOOD LUCK! AND LET US ALL BESEECH THE BLESSINGS OF ALMIGHTY GOD UPON THIS GREAT AND NOBLE UNDERTAKING.
SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
June 5 had already passed us. The airborne units were already sent over, Edgar being one of them. God I hope he's all right. Sabin would be devastated if Edgar was killed before he saw him. We were making our final preparations to invade, starting off with last minute weapons familiarization, including German weapons. Funny thing though…I remember that Luger that Celes had when I first met her. She gave it to me when I shipped, saying it could come in handy. We also had to learn the various German tanks and planes, know their strengths and weaknesses. We got our packing lists completed. Last but not least, we were briefed on what to expect from the Germans when we landed. There were mines, Belgian gates, MG34s, MG42s, which could tear a man limb from limb, 88mm artillery, 20mm mortars, and barbed wire all around, not to mention Kar98k riflemen all around. A lump in my throat the size of my fist formed. I pondered how Duane, Sabin, and I were gonna get through all of that. We had to work as a team so we could survive. I was fast on my feet, so I had nothing to worry about concerning myself. Hopefully they'd give me that Springfield, so I could take out a German MG or two, save some of my men in the process.
A feeling of terror came over me as we started to board the Navy transports. I thought of Celes and my kids. I thought, “What if I don't come back? What if I betray them? What will they do? How will they live?” The questions were nerve-racking…sweat covered my body. My hands started to shake again. Why couldn't they stop? Was this some sort of omen or sign of bad things? God…please see me through this…I wanna go back to my family. I look all around, and I see men, mostly of my age, some just kids. Some are nervous, some are shaking or crying, some are bold, and who show no fear in their faces. I walked around, trying to find Sabin and Duane. After we set sail for France, it took me only an hour to find them.
“Sabin! Duane! There you guys are!”
“Hey Locke…Jesus…you look terrible!” Sabin exclaims, concerned over my nervousness.
“Don't worry Sabin…I'm just a little shook up…but I'll be fine.”
“Well I hate to say this, but I hope you are. We're expected to board the Higgins boats in 45 minutes.” Duane interrupts, letting us know what's going on.
“Remember what we said to each other guys…we fight as one…we stay alive as one.” I remind them.
“We all go home…alive and together.” Sabin adds.
Part 2: The Day of Heroes and Horrors
45 minutes have passed. I board the Higgins boat, along with Sabin and Duane. There are about twelve other soldiers with us, a few officers, but mostly enlisted guys. It was around 4:30 AM. We took off, as the fourth Higgins boat to leave. I look straight ahead, dead ahead to the coast. I can only imagine what they have in store for us. It'll be a war zone, a slaughterhouse…looking at the ominous grey sky, and the distant rumblings. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! The naval cruisers open fire on the coastline, causing massive eruptions of sand, metal, and water. The artillery rounds shake us up a little, knocking us side to side. I hold on to Sabin and Duane as tightly as possible.
“This is it fellas! This is our moment of glory…” Sabin says to us.
“OH SHIT! Messerschmitt! Hind side! GET DOWN!” I scream as a German fighter careens down, streaming fire on the boat behind us. The Higgins explodes, sending men everywhere. I nearly vomited. The mortars and artillery fire at our boats. Another Higgins goes down when a shell hits it smack dab in the middle. In seconds it sank…nothing was left. I start breathing heavily…with Duane trying to calm me down. I reached for a sip from my canteen, doing the sign of the cross. I was never a real religious man, but ever since Celes came into my life…I've been puttin' a little more trust in the big guy.
“We're gonna get through this Locke…just remember…we'll all survive together.”
“Together…” I reply softly.
“Clear the ramp in 30 seconds! God be with you all!” The Higgins operator screams.
“Ok listen up!” Captain Clyde yells. “We're gonna hit the beach real soon. Check your weapons, and stick together…I can't stress that importance enough. Engineers…check your demo gear…we need to remove that barbed wire with those Bangalores! Watch for MG fire, and move in serpentine. Keep running till you reach the shingles…got it? I'll see you on the beach!”
“YES SIR!” We all reply. For some reason that captain has a familiar voice.
“Clear the ramp…5 SECONDS!”
“This is it Locke…Celes…I will see you again…” I thought to myself.
“OK CLEAR IT!”
The doors of the transports open with a whistle. In a few seconds a literal stream of bullets come down on the other boats…including ours. The men in front just collapse to the MG fire. They didn't even have a chance.
“SHIT!” Sabin yells.
“Jump over the side! Over the side! DO IT NOW GOD DAMNIT…NOW!” Duane yells.
We all with haste grab our stuff and jump over…bullets flying everywhere. The water was cold, almost cold as ice. I struggle to pull myself up from the cold water…so I could see what was going on. I had no idea where Sabin and Duane were. I felt the bullets rip by my sides as I continue to swim up to the coastline. One of the MG bullets manages to hit the loose end of my pant leg. It felt like an animal yanking my leg. I had no time to waste otherwise I'd be a corpse sinking to the ocean floor. I managed to hold on to my Springfield and crawl up to the sand. Men all around were falling, screaming in agony, and all I could do was straggle to get up. Those machine guns were horrifying…sounding like canvas ripping loudly every time they fired. I found one wounded kid. He was hit in the arm, but stunned on the ground nonetheless. I took pity on him, knowing if he stayed he would get torn apart. I grabbed him with all of my might and dragged him along with me.
“DUANE! DUANE!” I yelled.
“LOCKE! I'm over here!” Thank God. Duane was still alive. He also had his explosives luckily, a M1 Carbine in his hand.
“Duane…I need to get this kid to a medic. I see one to the right of us…but that MG will go through me like a hot knife through butter. Can you gimme some cover fire?”
“Sure thing…on my mark…run like hell. 1…2…3…COVERING FIRE!” Duane lets loose his entire magazine, hitting only the edges of the slits, but it gave me a small time to run him over to the doc.
“Doc…patch this kid up. He can still fight, he just needs some bandages.”
“I'll do what I can!” The medic replies.
“Thank you…thank you!” The wounded kid yells to me. I hope he'll get through this disaster.
I run back to Duane, but then a mortar round fires right behind me, and I'm sent straight downwards…my face slamming the ground. Everything gets blurry for a while, and my hearing gets shot. I try to get my bearings straight, but more explosions rock me around like a rag doll. Men everywhere are falling or getting blown apart everywhere. This is a slaughter…this is hell. I'm in hell now…and there's no way out. Scrambling to find my helmet, I slam it back on my head, bloody water spilling all over me, and stumble back over to Duane, who's under some serious MG fire.
“God damn it. These friggin' krauts don't know when to stop!”
“I have no idea…see if you can find the captain…maybe Sabin's with him. Go run on my mark…1, 2, 3, covering fire!”
Once again I ran like hell, jumping over mortar holes and corpses, looking all around. I managed to find Capt. Clyde, huddled behind some ammo boxes, trying to get the radio working.
“Where the hell is that naval barrage? And who the hell made this map? We're off by 15 degrees, and now smack dab in a massacre! I need artillery now damn it! NOW!”
“SIR! It's great to see you.”
“Cpl. Locke! Thank God! I thought our whole group was wiped out. Have you seen anyone else from the boat?”
“I've only seen Sgt. Duane and a couple of the privates. They're with Duane, held up by the MG fire. Sir…we need Cpl. Sabin. He can lay down cover fire with his .30 cal while we can run to the shingles! When we reach the shingles…Sgt. Duane can blow them open with the Bangalore.”
“What the hell are you waiting for Corporal? Get moving…find Sabin and the rest and tell them to get over here!”
“Yes sir!” What the hell am I…a battlefield courier? I ran back to Duane, hopefully finding Sabin in the process. Suddenly I heard some cursing that sounded very familiar. I look to my right. It was Sabin! His gun was stuck in a Belgian gate.
“Son of a bitch you stupid gun!” He yells.
“Sabin! It's Locke! Let me help you outta this! We need your .30 caliber to cover our assault to the shingle.”
“Locke! Thank God it's you! Where's Duane?”
“He's fine…we need to reach him and get over to the captain!”
“Ok…help me pull this gun out!” Grunting and heaving as hard as we could…we managed to tear the gun off the gate. Sabin's a big guy, but sometimes he needs help.
“Good…now run damn it run!” I fired my five Springfield rounds to the German bunker in front of me. I managed to hit a rifleman in the shoulder despite my poor accuracy running. At least that's some less fire on us. Finally all together, Sabin, Duane, the privates, and I make a break for the captain, with Duane and Sabin offering suppressing fire. The fire rained down like it came down from heaven itself. God was furious, and he's making us pay for it. I could only hold on to Sabin and Duane as I ran towards the captain. A private next to me gets shot in the leg and falls like a sack of bricks.
“AHHHH! I'm hit! Help me! Someone help me!” The poor kid screams.
“Sabin…Duane…go to the captain…I'll help him out!”
“No…I'll do it…just provide cover!” Duane volunteers to save him as he slings his rifle over his left shoulder and the kid over the other. We continue to run, firing blindly at the concrete bunkers. A flamethrower gets hit in his tank, causing it to burst into flames. The poor man runs around, completely ablaze.
“He needs to get doused…I'll save him!” Sabin then runs off to the man and throws him in the water, dousing the flame…but the poor man is burnt badly as Sabin drags the man behind a steel barrier of a wrecked Higgins.
“Sabin! We need to go…NOW!” I yell as we finally reach the captain. We rested the private behind the boxes…hoping a nearby medic would attend to him.
“Sir…we've got everyone we could…we have one wounded man though!” I tell Capt. Clyde.
“Good…we've gotta reach that shingle. Sgt. Duane, you run with corporals Locke and Sabin to the barbed wire. If we stay here any longer, we're all dead! You privates stay with me and give me covering fire! Get ready to run…and don't forget serpentine motions! One…two…three…COVERING FIRE!”
Under a “protective” sheet of gunfire, the three of us run all the way to the wires. Luckily, Duane still had his Bangalore, so we could blow it the minute the captain got here.
“Run…run…move now…don't stop…we gotta get to the shingle!” I yell. Another wounded man lies right next to me…screaming for help. I turn around…thinking I could save another life…only to see MG fire pump a more few rounds in him. He was gone…God damn it. Running at full speed, we thrust ourselves onto the sand…a mortar blast sent another man flying right into the barbed wire. We could only stare in shock as we hugged the ground as tightly as possible.
“Where the hell is the captain?” Sabin asks.
“I don't know...but he better get his ass over here now!” I yell.
“HERE I AM! STAY THERE!” I see the captain from a distance. He has the other four privates with him. Running as fast as possible…he slams himself onto the sand, despite the MG fire nearly takin' off his head. He turns to the radio operator, “Whoever you're talking to, tell them we are off coordinates, and we are being pounded. Ask him about the tank situation!” He turns to us, “Who's here now?”
“Cpl. Cole sir!”
“Cpl. Figaro sir!”
“Sgt. Duane sir!”
“Pvt. Elder sir!”
“Pvt. Miceli sir!”
“Pfc. Slocum sir!”
“Pvt. Manson sir!”
“Where's our medic?”
“He's over there helping another doc sir!” Pvt. Elder answers.
“Well get him over here now! We need him! Cpl. Cole…you see that kid right there kneeling next to the wire gate? That's our medic…get him!”
“Yes sir!” I ran as fast as I could to him. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw him. It was Gau! He was helping some poor guy who got hit in the chest, trying to stop the bleeding.
“Gau! Gau! Over here! We need you!”
“No time for that buddy…I gotta stop this guy's bleeding! Just another minute please! Locke? Locke is that you? Oh my God…it's you!”
“No time for chit chat Gau…you gotta come with us now!”
“Just a little more time please…I did it! I stopped the bleeding! Now I gotta patch this guy up…” He seems overjoyed but then drops his smile when a bullet hits the helmet of the downed man. “FUCK! GOD DAMN IT! YOU ASSHOLES! I COULD'VE SAVED HIM! WHY GOD DAMN IT WHY?”
“GAU! We gotta move now!” I pulled him away with all my might and dragged him to the rest of the squad. Gau's still cursing up a storm…nearly crying because the man was killed before he could save him. I've never seen a boy like Gau hurt so much…this war must be destroying him. A few years ago…he was able to marry Relm and get that nice place he was talking about so much. He still worked at the bar, as happy as he could be. I knew he didn't wanna be here either. He was happy with Relm, and like me with Celes, never wanted to leave her all alone. Still dragging the nearly sobbing Gau, I put on the bottom of the dune. The captain is talking over the radio, since the radioman was killed, so I couldn't get his attention.
“Where are my god damn tanks? What the fuck do you mean they can't land here? FUCK! Can't you see we're getting slaughtered? I need help now! It'll be near impossible to secure the beaches!” Suddenly sparks fly as the radio is shattered by MG fire. “SHIT!” Capt. Clyde yells as he catches his breath, “Is everyone here?”
“Everyone's present sir!” Duane replies.
“Ok…sorry boys, but it looks like we're on our own. The airborne units ran into some snags, and Omaha was never touched. We're in the thick of it, so we gotta get ourselves out. Sergeant…get that Bangalore ready!”
Fumbling and scrambling as fast as we could, while MG fire still sprayed everywhere, we assembled the demolition charges into the Bangalore. Private Manson slid the explosives into the tube as a bullet hits his helmet. Stunned and amazed…he stupidly takes his helmet off for a second.
“No you idiot! Don't take that off!” I yell. But it was too late. Another bullet ran right through his head, and his blood sprayed on my face as he crumpled to the ground. I could only look in terror, wide-eyed, at what once was my squad mate until Duane pulled me back to finish the charges. Damn it…we just lost our first man.
“All set! Everyone, get back! I'm gonna light it!” Duane yells as we all turn around for cover. “FIRE IN THE HOLE!”
“FIRE IN THE HOLE!” Capt. Clyde yells. We all hit the dirt.
KABOOM! The entire barbed wire section blows, sending sand, metal, grass, and debris everywhere.
“Over the side…get over the side now!” We scream as we all make a run for it over the hill, MG fire spraying everywhere. We were safe from the mortars thank God. We managed to run right to the bunker wall, Private Miceli was about to charge towards the other bunker, but Capt. Clyde yanked him back.
“Are you insane? There are mines in those foxholes!” He points out, pulling out his Colt .45 and shooting one of the pits. BOOM! A huge explosion erupts from one of the craters. “Slocum…gimme your knife.” He takes a small mirror, and using the knife as an extension of his arm, gently glides it over the edge of the bunker wall. Suddenly a huge burst of MG fire sprays at the mirror. “SHIT!” Capt. Clyde yells as he pulls the mirror back. “Ok…here's the situation, there's two small sandbag MGs. Corporal Cole…if we give you cover fire…can you get those two gunners?”
“No sweat…just make sure they fire at you instead of me sir!” I reply
“Good enough for me Cole…get ready…one…two…three…covering fire!” They open fire on the sandbags, knowing they won't hit the gunner, but it works. The MG fires over to them, giving me enough time to run to safe cover. I quickly raise my rifle, aim my sights, and POW! There's one less gunner.
“I need more cover!”
“Just keep moving Cole…we'll handle it…covering fire!” The MG is not duped, as he tries to tear me to shreds with a nice long burst of fire. Thank God I'm so fast…because if I wasn't able to find another spot quickly enough, I'd be nothing but bits and pieces right now. Concrete is flying everywhere as he lets loose on my cover, but then I hear his MG click. He's out of ammo. Quickly I get up, aim my sights, and with one simple squeeze, he's no more.
“All clear! Move along the edge…and for God's sake…watch those mines!” I yelled.
The captain, Duane, Sabin, Gau, and the rest run over to me, while I try to pick off any pesky riflemen trying to hit them.
“Ok everybody…over the hill…now!”
Ignoring any other MG fire trying to hit us, we made a mad dash up the hill…into the German trenches. It was as bad up here as it was down there. A grenade explodes in front of a poor sap in front of me. All that work to get through the beach…just to fall right after. I don't understand. The Germans are relentless…the still continue to fire as we sweep through the trenches. The captain and the remaining privates take the left side of the trench, while Duane, Sabin, Gau, and I take the right. A German pops up right in front of me, but a quick rifle butt knocks him out cold. I run into a German bunker, firing one shot into the air, and they were caught surprised.
“Drop your weapons…NOW!”
“Auslieferung jetzt!” Duane yells…catching me by surprise.
A rather sad looking German soldier quickly raises his hands and says, “Amerikaner! Ich übergebe... schiessen sie nicht! Bitte! Bitte!” The other Wehrmacht, or German Army, soldiers are quick to follow surrendering.
“What's he saying?” I ask Duane as our weapons are still fixed on the Jerries.
“I think he's surrendering. He's saying 'Please don't shoot. Please. Please.'” I took pity on the man for some reason. I used to not be so merciful…maybe my time with Celes has softened me up huh? How Duane also knew German was beyond me.
“How do you know German Duane?” I ask.
“I took it when I was much younger in Mobliz. I also know French.”
“Ok interesting…Specialist Gau…grab their weapons and watch them here. We're gonna go find the captain. Make sure no god damn private lays a finger on them.”
“Sure thing Cpl. Locke.” Gau says as he takes them into custody and walks them to the nearest CO, or commanding officer.
“Danke schoen mein freund! Danke!” The teary-eyed German says to me as he walks off with his men and Gau to a prisoner collection area.
“I think he was thanking you Locke.” Duane says.
“You don't say?” I ask with a kind of satisfied grin on my face, knowing I saved a few lives. However, my heart felt like it was sinking more and more. Something didn't feel right about this at all…we succeeded…barely.
I walk outside the bunker…the sky still black and grey like it was the apocalypse. Everywhere Germans were fighting us. Some were smart to surrender quickly. Sabin, Duane, and I watched as a young German boy walked over to the GIs with his hands in the air, smiling that he was going to be taken prisoner, only to be shot right in the back by a German officer. That barbarian! He shot a child! Duane got so angry he promptly shot the officer in a rage.
“You son of a bitch!” He yells as he fires his entire magazine into the officer. “How could you shoot him…he was just a kid!” He's yelling at nothing but a corpse. Duane was rather young himself, so he had a soft spot for children, because they were the only people along with Katarin that he protected before Terra, Sabin, Celes, and I moved to Mobliz.
It took us a while to restrain him until he broke down…sobbing. I looked over to my right and see another German giving up while a private starts hitting him with the rifle for some unknown reason. It wasn't until two minutes of blows that a sergeant was able to tackle the GI and pin him while another sergeant picked the German up and walked with him to his company.
What the hell did I get myself into? I've only been here for a few hours, and already I've seen enough to make me never want to pick up another gun. I already saw Duane, crying like he was only six. We didn't deserve this war…no one did. We were taken away from our livelihoods, our wives and mothers, our fathers and brothers. I was taken away from my true happiness, my kids…and my Celes. I look all around and I feel like I'm being put in hell for a no good reason. I think of Celes, and myself, and the wonderful times I've had with her. Screw finding the captain. I no longer have to strength to even walk. I kneel down…Sabin taking concern…and start to cry, as I see dead GIs and Germans strewn about…the hideousness of it all...the gunshots, screams of pain, and the stench of death and gunpowder consumes me. These poor kids…some of them are only 17 or 18…they should be at home, with their mothers.
“Why Sabin…why can't we go home? Why do we have to be here?” I ask him, choked up. He kneels down to me and hands me his canteen. “I want to see my wife! I want to see my kids! Why can't we go home…tell me!”
“We can't…we can't…,” Sabin explains as he almost chokes up too, “we can't because we have a mission to do Locke. If we were to not fight, what would happen? These Germans might have attacked our own home. Think about it Locke…the Germans coulda invaded our own town. Terra, Celes, and our children could've been killed. Even Katarin could've been killed,” Sabin says as he looks over to Duane, still sobbing over the kid that got shot. “We need to fight…to protect them. When we win this war, we'll all be heroes…again…and we'll never have to leave our families again. We must continue guys…we have to win.”
“Sabin…” I said amazed at the words that came from his mouth. Never have I heard Sabin, the “brute” of our squad, say such convincing, sentimental words. Maybe he learned a little bit of this from Terra, who in my mind was one of the most compassionate people ever. “You're right Sabin…we are fighting to protect our families. We can't disappoint them. We've survived together so far.”
“Yeah…” Duane adds ending his sobbing, “You're both right…and we'll survive together till the end. I won't fail Katarin.”
We help ourselves up…and look all around. The fighting was over for now, but the war still raged on. We knew when we looked into that blackish sky that more troubles would loom over our head. We mourned the losses of all those brave men on those beaches…including Private Manson in our own squad. I took my helmet off, full of debris and sand, and put it over my heart.
“For Private Manson…a brave young man.”
“For Private Manson…” Duane and Sabin say together.
“There you guys are,” It was the captain…with the remaining privates in tow…not really taking notice to our emotional strife. “It looks like we managed to secure the beachhead…even without tanks or air support. I'm proud of you all…I know it's upsetting to lose one of our men…but he fought for a good cause. We'll always remember Pvt. Manson. Get some rest men…we're staying here for the night. We'll receive orders tomorrow morning for our next assignment.”
I can't believe it. We survived what I thought would be the end of all three of us. I even managed to find my good time pal Gau from back in the day. Those days…long ago…they'll never come back. Gone are the days of my detective job, my treasure hunting, and innocence…not like I ever had that since Rachel died. However…Rachel's death, my affair with Terra, and my initial pains with Celes seemed insignificant compared to this war…it was too much sometimes.
A few hours passed. We were assigned to watch over some of the POWs captured from the bunkers. I watched them like a hawk, but there was nothing to be afraid of. Most of them looked like broken men and boys, tired of fighting, thanking God that they are free now from the battles. I felt very sorry for them…our bombing raids could have very likely killed some of their loved ones. I happened to notice one particular German that looked familiar. I walked over to him…his face looking dirty and tired.
“Hey buddy…how're ya doin'?” I asked. It took him a while…but then he recognizes me.
“Kamerad!” He seems ecstatic. “Wie geht es Ihnen?”
“Ummmm…gut danke” I replied. It was some of the only German words I knew. I just told him I was good.
“Ausgezeichnet! Danke für das Speichern meine Leben!”
“What'd he say now?” I ask Duane.
“He said, 'Thank you again for saving my life.'”
“Oh…What's your name pal?” I ask. Duane asks the man in German.
“Ich heisse Klaus...” That I understood. His name was Klaus. The man looked somewhat similar to me in age. He was probably in his late twenties. I took a liking to him. He seems to embrace us as somewhat of a savior. “Ich möchte nicht für diesen schlechten Mann Hitler mehr kämpfen...Ich möchte nach München zurückkommen. Ich möchte mein Lucie wieder sehen!”
“What'd he say this time?”
“He says he doesn't want to fight anymore for that bad man Hitler. He wants to go home to Munich and see his Lucie again. Wer ist Lucie?” He asks the man.
“Lucie…sie ist meine Frau...sie ist so schön...Ich habe eine Abbildung von ihr. Blick!”
“He says…she's his wife…she's beautiful…he has a picture and wants us to see it.” Duane says rather glumly. For some reason…his sadness grows, as he can relate to the poor German soldier.
The German reaches for his pocket and in his hand is a delicately flat but small book. He pulls the photo out and quickly shows it to us with enthusiasm. “Das ist mein Lucie. Ich liebe sie so sehr. Ich hoffe...dass sie sicher ist.” The German tries to hold back his own choking voice while smiling…possibly because he can now live to see this woman.
“That's his Lucie…he loves her so much. He hopes she is safe.” This man seems more like me every second I am with him.
Looking closer at the picture…I see a beautiful young woman, with delicate skin and an innocent complexion. She has baby blue eyes and long beautiful, silky blonde hair, and a pearly smile that would cheer any man up. The picture is so familiar. Suddenly, a trembling in my heart emerges as my eyes widen. Now I know why this man is like me. This woman is so familiar. This woman, whom this German loves so dearly and would fight and die for, reminds me of a special someone back home. She reminds me of...almost looks like…
“Celes…” I whisper to myself…a tear almost running down my cheek.
Intermission of Main Story/ Beginning of Side Story
Part 3: Home Front Strife
The day after D-Day, in Figaro around 1:00 PM:
The steam whistles, warning the workers of one hour left until the next shift is in effect. Throughout the entire factory…there are hammers, drills, mallets, gears, and all sorts of machinery that envelope the senses. It is here that the war effort begins…in the factories. Molten steel pours in giant vats, sparks fly everywhere from the mallets and anvils. On a bullet-making assembly line…there stands a beautiful, determined woman. With her long blonde hair all tied up, and her face covered with a protective mask, she works hour after hour crafting and boring bullets, from anti-aircraft bullets, to .30 caliber MG bullets, down to Springfield .30-06 caliber with stripper clips attached. The work is tedious and tiring, and it shows on her sometimes exhausted body, with her once soft and delicate hands now a worker's hands. This once rich, angelic diva has now turned into a common working class girl. Why does she do it though? Why did she give up everything for this kind of work? She does it for her husband…that's why. Celes Chere Cole does it for her husband, the crafty and adventurous, but loving and faithful Locke Cole, and she'll never quit until he comes back home. She loves him too much to work any less.
In a similar scenario, cranes and conveyor belts cause all the commotion in Vector, where the beasts of war are born. Tanks, straight from pure sheet metal, are designed into effective machines of victory. In the finishing stages of the assembly lines, there also is a woman, with wild green hair and a beauty covered in sweat and grease, who leads her workers on with diligence. She stands on these tanks, drilling, fastening, welding, and lifting every day and sometimes even the night. The burn marks on her arms and legs show it. The other workers admire her steadfast work ethic. She won't stop perfecting every tank. Terra Branford Figaro knows better than to leave a tank done half-assed. If that half-assed tank she let slip by fails in battle, it could mean her husband, the muscle-bound and rugged, but kindhearted and compassionate Sabin Figaro might not be coming home. She wouldn't sleep peacefully at night knowing that could be the case, so that is why she'll be a perfectionist, for him and herself.
The clock reaches 2:00 PM. The steam bell whistles twice, meaning it is the end of the shifts. Both women, wiping the sweat from their brows, leave their posts…satisfied of the fine jobs they did. After they change, and get their quick breathers…they get in their cars, and drive for home, back to Mobliz. They arrive 45 minutes later. Parking right next to each other, the two partners and friends shake hands and grin to each other. Every day they always tried to make their work like lighthearted competition, seeing who did more on one day.
“How was work for you? I crafted and was able to ship 1.5 tons of bullets!”
“Really? Well I got through 35 tanks in four hours! <Chuckle> Try and beat that honey!”
“You won this round Terra…but remember…I won the last time, so this makes it even!” She lightheartedly replies.
“Riiiight…anyway, let's go inside…I'm beat. I remember when I used to come home tired of working outside, and Sabin would give me this body massage that would blow your socks off!”
“Locke has his little 'home remedies' of his own when I'm stressed and tired, always does the trick.” She winks at Terra. “Ok…let me get some sandwiches and coffee from my house!”
Celes walks into her house…greeted instantly but a swarm of little arms.
“Mommmmy! You're home!” The three of her four kids run up to her, all waiting for their respective hugs and kisses.
“Oh my little darlings…how I'm glad to be home! Were my Catherine, Lawrence, and Adrian good kids for the sitter?”
“Yes mommy…we were good, except for Adrian, who ran all over the house with dirt on him!” Catherine was a bit of a snitch.
“Tattletale!” Adrian yells.
“That's ok Adrian…just wipe up the dirt with a sponge ok sweetie?”
“Yes mommy…” He runs off to the kitchen and gets to work.
The sitter walks downstairs, ready to leave. “They were good kids Mrs. Cole…little Mairin's sleeping like an angel.”
“Thank you…here's a little something for your troubles.” Celes thanks her while slipping her a $10 bill…which was actually a pretty generous payment at the time.
“Thanks! Thank you very much…but it's too much Mrs. Cole.”
“Nonsense…this job is helping me rake in all sorts of money. Think of this as a gesture of extreme appreciation.”
“Sure…thanks again.” The babysitter walks out the door.
Celes brews a big pot of coffee and makes some small sandwiches, some for the kids and some for Terra and herself.
“Who wants to go over to Aunt Terra's house?”
“These kids are too easy to please…” Celes thought to herself. “Maybe Locke and I are coddling them a little too much.” She just chuckles and walks out, kids, coffee, and food with her, taking little Mairin with her in a basket while the kids bring the other goodies.
Celes knocks the door a couple times. Terra opens it and immediately warms up to the kids.
“Kids! Your Aunt Terra missed you so much at work! How are you all?” She asks with the widest grin.
“We're good Aunt Terra…” They reply, once again almost in unison, Celes and Terra could only snicker.
“Vincent, Madonna, and Ryan are in the backyard…you wanna play with them?” Celes asks the kids.
“Ok mommy.” Lawrence and Adrian said.
“Sure mommy.” Catherine replied cutely. She had a little childhood crush on Vincent. They run off to the backyard as Celes puts the baby Mairin down on a chair.
“Here's some coffee Terra…” She hands her a cup.
“Oh yeah…that hit the spot!” Terra got some life back into her.
“Those kids are quite a handful…I think some of Locke's 'independent' nature rubs off on them.”
“Are you kidding me? Vincent and Ryan think they're like Sabin all the time, trying to smash things and lift heavy objects, always getting hurt, and I've always gotta patch them up too. I think Sabin had too much of an influence on them. But I can't blame him…he loves those kids so much.”
“My husband is the same way…they're amazing they are.” Celes agrees.
“They sure are…”
“Oh by the way…how much metal were we able to collect this week Terra?”
“We were able to amass over 300 pounds of metal, from scrap, pots, pans, cans, and all other sorts of goods. Half will go to the tank plants in Vector where I work, while the other half will go to the Figaro Arms Factory.”
Good…I'll be able to use some of that to make more bullets for my Locke.” Celes says enthusiastically.
“Indeed. How are the rest of the women in Mobliz?” Terra asks.
“They seem to be in good spirit. Every week they give me their fair share of food and other commodities that I give to you to donate to the war effort. Many of them have jobs over at the plants, including mine. How's work over at the tank plants? I heard you got to be in the next 'Rosie the Riveter' picture for the Army magazine!”
“Ha ha thanks Celes. Work is fine over there…it's hard, but I've never been stronger in my life. I've had to fight any men here off with a stick. If Sabin were here he'd crush any guy going after me. Maybe I'll be as strong as Sabin when he comes home.” She flashes a picture from the newspaper featuring her as the new “Rosie.”
“Ha ha…that's too much…Sabin'll love that! This job is killing me too sometimes, but Locke'll be amazed as to how much stronger I've become too!” She flexes her newly built and firm muscles, imitating Terra in the picture, much to the amusement of Terra. “We're doing a great thing for our husbands Terra…remember that.”
“You're definitely right…we should feel proud.”
Katarin walks in the door of Terra's house with her six-year-old daughter Hope in tow, along with her four-year old son Tyler.
“Go run off and play with the others ok darlings?”
“Ok mommy!” The children giggle as they run off to find Vincent, Catherine, and the others.
“Hello Terra…Celes…how are things?”
“Very good Kat, thanks for asking.” Terra replies.
“I just wanted to let you know that we're holding a wives meeting tonight around 7:30. We're going to discuss the upcoming nylon drive and the new rations.”
“Hey Katarin…how's your job doing as the mayor ad-interim?” Celes asks.
“It's harder than I expected. I dunno how Duane was able to do it. Between all the paper pushing and number crunching…I'm surprised I haven't gone nuts yet! I'm just glad I'm keeping the town in order until he comes back.”
“Well hang in there Kat…you'll do fine…and we'll do what we can to help.” Terra says, comforting the already weary Katarin.
The time seems to fly, as it is already 7:15 PM. Terra and Celes managed to get a few hours of rest, now up and at 'em. The women all assemble in Terra's living room. Many of them are rather young, ranging from 18 to 23. Some are small, some are tall, some are strong, some are weak, but they all come for one reason, to support their fighting husbands. The radio is playing some rather fitting music…it's a woman singing “The Bugle Boy from Company B.” It kinda went like this:
“He was a famous trumpet man from out Figaro way…
He had a boogie style that no one else could play…
He was the top man at his craft…
But then his number came up and he was up with the draft…
He's in the Army now…a blowin' reveille…
He's the boogie woogie bugle boy from Company B…”
“It's kinda funny…that song reminds me of my days when I sang with that Gogo band. Good times they were.” Celes gets some laughs out of it.
“Yeah…maybe he's over there too…” Katarin suggests. “Everyone seems to be.”
“Well…” Terra silences the room, lowering the radio volume. “Shall we get started?”
Katarin rises from her chair and begins to speak. “As you all know…there is a nylon drive going all around Figaro to help provide clothing for the troops. If you have any spare nylon stocking or anything of that sort that you can give up, please…let me know. Our goal is to produce at least one sack full of nylon. I'm also proud to report that the city of Figaro recognized our effort in collecting over 300 lbs. of metal and a plaque will be made in our honor!”
Everyone rises out of their seats, hugging each other and cheering. Celes and Terra have to hush everyone down again so that Katarin can continue.
“As far as our rations go, we will still stick to the same plan, except now there won't be any meat on Tuesdays, but it's not like we're gonna eat all that meat anyway!” The women chuckle amongst themselves. “And now…here's Joanna with some more protocol.”
“Thank you Katarin, as you all know, we have a weekly rotation of who watches the children while each of us work. For those who work at the tank plants, you will have to watch the kids Mondays through Wednesdays. Those who work at the gun manufacturers, you'll have to watch the kids Thursdays through Saturdays. Sunday…thank God…is our day of rest.”
“Anything else?” Celes asks the crowd. One rather small but pregnant woman gets up.
“Well…I just received a letter from my husband Patrick. He says that the Allies are invading France even as he speaks. He also writes that the Germans are losing ground every day and soon he'll come home. He can't wait to see the new baby.”
Everyone congratulates her on receiving the letter. Celes leaves the room for a second and comes back with a tray full of little shooter glasses, filled with whiskey…Locke's whiskey from back home. Locke gave up smoking, but he and Celes always had a drink or two whenever it was just the adults around.
“What's this Celes?” One of the women asks.
“This is something Locke and I always used to do, and still do today. Whenever we would go on an adventure, or excavation, or when I was pregnant, we'd both take a shot and give a toast to whatever was happening. It's a silly little tradition, but I like it. It's always brought us good fortune. Here…everyone take a glass.” Everyone including Terra and Katarin pick up a glass and hold it up in the air. “Here's to our brave fighting men…that they may all come back!”
“To our husbands!” The women yell as they clack the glasses together and down the shots. While Terra and Celes and maybe Katarin were a little more used to it, some of the women had a hard time downing the whiskey, making everyone in the room laugh.
Suddenly a car's lights hit the window as stops at Terra's house, parking there obviously noticing the amount of lights on and people inside.
“What on Earth is someone doing here at this hour?” Terra asks. Suddenly there is a hard knock on the door. Terra looks outside, and immediately turns back to the women. “It's a government car!” Everyone is shaking now. Terra opens the door slowly, with Celes and Katarin right behind her.
“Can…can I help you?” Terra asks nervously.
“Hello. Are you Terra Branford?”
“Maybe you could help me…I'm looking for a Joanna Foley.”
“Ummm…yes that's me.” Joanna replies as she gets up and walks to the door, utter terror in her heart. “Is there something I can help you with?”
“Mrs. Foley…we in the Army regret to inform you that your husband, Specialist Bruce Foley, of the 1st Ranger Battalion, was killed in action on the beaches of Normandy on June 6. We can only offer our condolences…as we know this is a hard time for you and for the rest of you. Your husband was a brave soldier, who saved several lives before giving his own. He was a hero Mrs. Foley. We're sorry.” The Army representative sighed with a heavy heart, knowing he just inadvertently destroyed this woman's livelihood
“No…nnnooo…no...no…NO! It's not possible! There must be a mistake!” She sternly denies.
“I'm sorry to have to tell you Mrs. Foley, but there's no mistake. Your husband was unfortunately killed in action.” The man replies, bearing the most painful look of guilt on his face.
“WHY? PLEASE GOD NO…WHY'D HE HAVE TO DIE?” The poor woman yells, nearly tearing the hairs out of her head. Terra and the rest are grief-stricken, trying to calm her down. They knew her husband was the only thing she had. She had no children, so it was really just her and Bruce. The Army representative already left…knowing he had the terrible task of delivering more bad news to women and families all around.
“Joanna…we're sorry.” Celes tries to coddle her…in vain. The poor woman is nearly broken, losing the one thing she counted on in her life. Celes felt a little guilty, making that toast right before Joanna heard the terrible news.
“Sorry won't bring him back! Why God? Why'd it have to be me?” She wails and wails…almost uncontrollably.
“We should get her home…” Celes whispered to Terra. “Someone should stay over her place and watch her.”
“Right…Helena…why don't you stay with Joanna for the night?”
“Sure thing Terra. I'll take care of her.” The woman agrees to offer her services. The rest of the women eventually walk out with Joanna, who's a nervous wreck by now. It's only Celes and Terra left in the house. It took only a half an hour, a g-man, and some really tragic news to turn a bunch of productive, cheerful women into the most somber get-together possible.
The clock reaches 9:45 PM. Everyone is gone, and a deathly silence fills Terra's living room. There is only Celes…with a glass of Locke's whiskey in her hand…staring off to one of the walls. Terra walks downstairs…quietly.
“Celes…Celes honey are you ok?” She asks concerned.
“I don't get it…I offer a toast, and the next minute Joanna loses her husband. Since when did I become bad luck in this place?” She takes another shot of liquor. She felt like she was devastated.
“Celes…you didn't do anything. Don't beat yourself up over her husband's death; it was out of your control. You just tried to help everyone feel better…and you've done a fine job doing that. I'm proud to be your friend Celes.” Terra notices that the bottle of whiskey is almost empty. Celes was drinking. She could barely look Terra in the eye straight.
“Thanks Terra,” Celes responds with some slurring. She looks at the clock. “Oh Jesus! It's 9:45! I gotta get ready to go to work! My next shift is in an hour!” Celes tries to get up, struggling along the way, nearly falling over the minute she got up.
“No Celes…maybe you should take the night off. You need to get some rest. You look tired.”
“But I don't wanna…I wanna work and go make guns for them!” Celes snaps back.
“Celes…you're drunk…please stay here.” Terra tries to get in Celes's way, but Celes resists.
“NO TERRA! I wanna work! I wanna help my god damn husband Cpl. Locke Cole!” She yells, stumbling a little bit.
“CELES!” Terra yells right back. “You're as drunk as a sailor…you're in no shape to work…look at you. You're a wreck. You've dogged yourself day and night, always working or always watching over the kids. For God's sake…you haven't slept well in months! We appreciate everything you do for us and the men, but Katarin and I worry about you.”
“Terra…I want him home! I don't wanna be lonely anymore! The letters comfort me a little bit, but they don't mean shit unless I see his face again.” Terra knew Celes was serious despite her inebriation. Celes rarely if ever curses in front of people. “I work day and night…for him…and always for him. I don't care how sick I become, how tired I get, or how weak I feel! I'll die for him, just like he might for me!” Celes breaks into hysterics.
“Do you not think that I feel that way too Celes? Do you not think I dog myself too, knowing everything I do is for my husband Sabin? Every barrel I cast, every bolt I fasten, every screw I tighten I know in my heart brings Sabin closer to home! Do you think that Katarin works day and night just for the hell of it? She works her ass off for her Duane, and for no one else! Honey…I feel for you…I really do. But there's nothing else we can do. We volunteer every day, sweat every night…building and constructing…all for them God damn it all for them!”
“I know Terra…I just want this to end! I don't wanna hear anything bad about my Locke! I love him ssss...sssooo much!” Celes quits her pacing around, breaking down. She starts to cry hysterically, as Terra wraps her arms around her, letting Celes cry on her shoulder. “I want him home now! I want my Locke home!” The tears stream from her cheek.
“There there Celes…it'll be ok. They're gonna come home…I know they will…Locke included. They'll be safe and sound, and then it'll be like old times. We've had too many memories with them for them to just die in a far away land!” Terra starts to shed a tear as well, as they both hug each other to comfort one another. Terra looks away, concerned…knowing that still…there is that risk…that they both could share the same fate as Joanna did.
“They will come home right Terra?” Celes asks chokingly.
“You're damn right they'll come home…they promised us…and a promise from Sabin Figaro and Locke Cole is always kept….always.”
End of side story
Part 4: Beyond FUBAR
It was over…it was finally over. Operation: Overlord was an initial success said the brass. They had no idea how much they fucked up though. The landing at Omaha…my landing…was perhaps one of the most poorly planned parts of the invasion ever. We weren't where we were supposed to be. The Airborne divisions never reached behind Omaha, so we bore the full brunt. Hell…I heard even the Airborne units suffered some screw-ups while gettin' dropped. If only Sabin, Duane, and I were at Utah…we wouldn't have had to see half of this carnage. Over 6,500 men were killed on Omaha's shores. It was a slaughter. Yet…despite the large toll…I couldn't help but think that the prices we paid will benefit in the long run. I also remembered the lives I was able to save helping my fellow men who were wounded on those beaches. We've just made our first steps in ending this war.
Morning broke around 7:00, the second day after D-Day…luckily I managed to get a few hours of rest, but I still had to watch the prisoners along with Duane. I was still rather sleepy. What I wouldn't do for a few extra hours of sleep…
“Here…this'll perk ya right up!” A cup full of coffee is given to me. I grab it slowly.
“Thanks Duane…I'd prefer some fine liquor, but I guess beggars can't be choosers huh?”
“That am true Locke. So…how was your night?”
“Restless and painful…I'm sore all over.”
“Well…get ready to move out again…I heard we've got a new assignment.” Duane gets up and walks over to Sabin, who is preoccupied writing a letter to Terra. Great…out of the frying pan and into the fire huh?
“American! American! It is me Klaus…I learn little English!” Klaus, my new German friend, runs up and yells to me, he seems overjoyed at such a small accomplishment.
“Good for you pal…” I can only grin back. The broken English is kinda entertaining…making me laugh a little despite what's going on. “My name's Locke by the way…”
“Locke…I like name. You like my Lucie mein Frau?”
“Ja. She's beautiful. She's like my Celes.”
“Who…is Celes?” He asks me.
“She is 'mein Frau' in America. She looks just like your Lucie. I miss her a lot. She gave me this before I left.” I pull out my Luger and show it to him. “There are markings on the back…here…read 'em.” Klaus bends down to read the small inscription on the grip of the pistol.
“LOCKE & CELES COLE…ALWAYS…was ist 'always?'” He reads in with his German dialect.
“It means forever Klaus…it never ends.” I also pull out a small crinkled photo of me and Celes. It was taken a year before I shipped.
“She is pretty mädchen Locke…you love her a lot?”
“Yes Klaus…she is a wonderful girl…I do love her a lot. I try to write her everyday.” Klaus can't understand some of the words, so I have to use my hands to let him know what I'm talking about.
“Locke! Hey Locke…the captain wants to see us all for briefing.” Duane tells me as I grab my gear and leave.
“Goodbye Klaus…I'll see you in a bit.” I know he doesn't understand all of that.
“Auf wiedersehen Locke…”
The squad assembles on a hill next to one of the decommissioned bunkers. We're all here, except for Pvt. Manson. There's Sabin, Duane, Gau, Miceli, Slocum, Elder, the captain, and me. The captain gets up to give us our briefing.
“All right men, I hope you all got enough rest…because we're not finished. I've just been given orders from command. We have to re-supply and ship out within 1200 hours. We've been given orders to reinforce a town called Thamasa. It's near Caen and St. Lorraine. Apparently, there's a broken division of 101st and 82nd soldiers trying to hold this little bridge, with a big German battalion coming right for them. It's small, but if the Germans got control of the bridge…they could send a Panzer division down on us and that'd spell trouble for us. These guys need reinforcements, so we're to hold the bridge from the Jerries until we get air and tank cover. After that…we're on to the next mission. Any questions?”
“Yeah…I got one…exactly how far is this place…and how the hell can we stop Tiger and Panzer tanks?” Pvt. Miceli asks.
“Good questions…though I don't like your lip. It's about 175 miles east/northeast of Normandy. We've been given a small box of these little Bazooka-type things we stole from the krauts. They're called “Panzerfausts.” They're small, lightweight, and disposable. Out objective is to take out any tanks in the area, along with holding the bridge.”
“Sounds a little FUBAR for infantry to be taking on Panzers huh Capt.?” Sabin asks. FUBAR by the way meant “Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition.” It was a little Army slang we use for a mission that sounds stupid, ridiculous, or just plain unnecessary.
“Oh it's especially FUBAR…that's why I like it.” The captain replies with sarcasm. You gotta love the captain…he never feared anything.
“You have your orders men…get supplied and meet me back to leave here at 1200 hours. Dismissed!”
I decided to go back to Klaus…have a few last words with him before I left. I also decided to write a letter while I was at it.
MY DEAR CELES AND FAMILY,
I MADE IT. I GOT THROUGH D-DAY. THE LANDING WAS TERRIBLE, BUT I MANAGED TO GET THROUGH IT WITH SABIN AND DUANE. THE WHOLE TIME I THOUGHT ABOUT YOU. WE LOST OUR FIRST MAN…WHICH MADE ME INCREDIBLY UPSET…BUT HE WAS A BRAVE MAN NONETHELESS. THE CAPTAIN IS TAKING US TO A SMALL TOWN CALLED THAMASA TO HELP THE AIRBORNE. HOPEFULLY SABIN'S BROTHER EDGAR IS THERE WITH THEM. I ALSO MADE A NEW FRIEND. HE IS A GERMAN POW NAMED KLAUS…WHO IS GLAD HE ISN'T FIGHTING ANYMORE. HE HAS A WIFE NAMED LUCIE THAT LOOKS LIKE YOU CELES. STRANGE, HUH? HIS WIFE REMINDS ME MORE AND MORE OF YOU. I ALSO STILL HAVE MY LUGER, WHICH STILL GIVES ME THE STRENGTH TO FIGHT. I WILL THINK OF YOU ALL, AND WITH THIS FIRST VICTORY, I'M ONE STEP CLOSER TO COMING HOME.
CPL. LOCKE COLE, 2nd RANGER BATTALION
Klaus happened to see me writing my letter. “Is letter for wife?” He asks, still with broken English.
“Yes it is Klaus. I write to her every day I can.” He can only smile.
“You have cigarette?” He asks me.
Knowing I gave up smoking a while ago…my smirk turns to a surprised look. I look into my right pocket. I pulled out a cigarette. You should be ashamed Locke Cole…you took a cigarette from another GI. I just thought that maybe just one could ease some of the tension. But like I said before…I gave up in order to kill the old Locke Cole that hurt me long ago. Thank God Klaus was around…because now I had something to give to him, and feel better about myself.
“Yes…yes I do…here ya go.”
“Danke.” I light it for him. “I like American cigarette…strong.”
“<snicker> I'm glad you like it Klaus. I hate to tell you this, but I have to leave. I have to go to this town called Thamasa. I have to move on Klaus. I'm sorry.” I break the news to him with a little sadness.
“It is ok, mein freund. I am happy to have friend like you Locke. Win this war for me Locke…so I can go home…back to home…to my Lucie. I have thing for you…here.” He hands me a crumpled piece of paper from his blouse pocket. It is a little messy, and in all German.
“What is it?” I ask.
“It is prayer for safety in battle…it kept…me alive…so I could go home…now you take it. Stay alive Locke…for your Celes.” He struggles to say in English.
“Thank you Klaus…thank you…” I didn't know what else to say. It was one helluva kind gesture, especially from the former enemy.
“You are friend now…I never met such kind American…take care Locke…goodbye.”
“Auf wiedersehen...mein kamerad!” I reply…he grinned from the German I tried to say. I walk away, backwards waving goodbye to my first ever German friend. Knowing him…it felt like he was my brother from far away. Why we were fighting I'll never know. This war does strange things to men. I remember when I was Detective Locke Cole…brash, young, arrogant, fearless…almost apathetic of the world around me. Now look at me…scared, sad, lonely, and still in pain for leaving Celes. What the hell happened to you Locke?
It was around 4:30 PM, or 1730 hours in military time. We had already left the base camp in Normandy and were on our way to Thamasa. It was just the eight of us…walking along the French countryside. Captain Clyde was in the middle with Duane, the privates in the rear and flanks, Specialist Gau, why am I saying Specialist? Gau was in the rear, since it's always wise to put the medic in the rear. And most unfortunately, Sabin and I were on point. Being the scout sure is quite the snafu. If the Germans attack…it'd be my ass to get shot first, that or Sabin's. I've always gotta go ahead and spot everything out…but this time we had to stay as a squad.
“Hey Sabin,” I whispered, “You know anything about this captain?”
“Not a friggin' clue. Doesn't have much of personality, and his look is usually cold. He kinda scares me, and I'm the biggest one here. He seems so…familiar though.”
“Yeah that's the truth. I'll bet you $100 by the time this war's over…I'll find out about him.”
“You wanna bet…in war? You're an idiot Locke.”
“You sure? I dangle a little cash in front of me temptingly, with a wide grin on my face. I made sure the captain didn't notice though.
“You're on Locke…” Sabin caved in…chuckling a little bit. I still had that Locke Cole jerk-humor in me.
“Keep it down up there!” The captain yells.
“Hey sir? How'd you get stuck into this mess anyway…what were you doin' before this war?” I ask.
“It's not important right now. Another thing…I didn't get 'stuck' in this mess…I volunteered, just like you did.” He was so full of shit…but I wasn't about to argue. Looks like he'd be a little harder to crack than I expected. My first attempt has already failed…now to figure out a Plan B to get to know him. I swear to God he is so familiar, but I can't put my finger on whom.
“Yes sir…sir…I've got a question.” Sabin raises his hand up.
“Go ahead Figaro…”
“I don't know if you know this…but my brother Edgar's in the 82nd. Do you think he might be in this town?”
“I know about your brother corporal…if he's here…I have no idea.”
“Ok sir…” Sabin replied with a little disappointment in his eyes.
“Cole…go ahead out farther…see what's up ahead…tells us what we might be up against. These Germans are crafty men! They'll use every trick in the book,” He tells aloud. “We'll stay here for a bit until you return…move out.”
“Yes sir.” I grab my Springfield and run out way in front. I knew why the captain had me go out that far. There was a gigantic hill up ahead, which spanned for miles. To go completely around it would have taken much longer than going through it. It took me about fifteen minutes to sprint out ahead and get over the hill, watching out for loose rocks or ambushing Germans. It was barren…for miles it seemed…as I could hear artillery all around, but it was quiet. It was almost too quiet. I used my scope to get a closer look at the surrounding forests and look down the long road in the middle. No one was around at all, and moments like these were hard to come by…so I had to tell them. Running back full speed, I gave my details to Capt. Clyde.
“Sir…there seems to be an empty stretch of plains, with a long dirt road in the middle. I didn't see any German checkpoints or any snipers. There's no barbed wire, mine signs, or anything.”
“Hmmm…it seems like it's safe, but I smell something fishy. Well…might as well take a look…maybe we could run into one of our convoys or something. Men…we move east about 150 clicks from this point, investigate the road, and see if there's anyone around. If no one shows in five minutes, we leave…got it?”
“Yes sir.” We all reply.
After about 20 minutes of drudging up the hill, it was a breeze walking down. We reached the barren road, with only tall weeds around it. Spreading into a two column formation, we saw no one, but orders were orders. We had to wait here. I liked the idea of taking five…gave me the chance to catch my breath after all that running. Each column took a side of the road. Capt. Clyde, Sabin, Pvt. Miceli and Gau took the right side, while Pvt. Slocum, Duane, Pvt. Elder, and I took the left side. Jesus…I hope a tank doesn't come rolling around. If we were to use any of those Panzerfausts that Slocum was sluggin' around, we'd give ourselves away faster than a marching band could. All of a sudden…I saw a faint image of what looked like a vehicle in the distance. I looked through my scope to get a better sight, and it wasn't good.
“Twelve o'clock…German half-track! Take cover!” I yell to the captain. The half-tracks were well armored, along with about the 10 fresh troops it carried and the three MG42s on the two sides and the rear. A Sherman tank wouldn't have any trouble with it…but we weren't to cause trouble, especially since we'd get mowed down trying to even get a shot at it.
“Everyone…stay the hell down! We don't wanna attract that thing's attention!” The captain yells. We all hug the ground, but have our guns drawn…just in case we were in for a fight. I could hear the rumbling from the ground. It was getting closer, coming to us like a bat outta hell. We all got as low as possible. Suddenly, just when I, being the eternal doubt sometimes, thought we'd be seen, it passes us. Holy shit…it didn't see us. However, just when we think we're safe…a loud screeching noise comes outta nowhere and then I see a white, blazing object slam into the half-track.
“Who the blue fuck is doin' the shootin'? WHO?” Duane says to us. We have no clue.
The truck gets slammed and stops…some men pour out…only to have another rocket slam the other side. The men are tossed like rag dolls…no one could've survived that, and if they did, they're probably in a coma right now.
“Clear!” A mysterious shout erupts from the tall grass.
“Clear!” Another voice comes out of the grass too.
The captain orders us to get up and investigate. None of the Germans are up, and they certainly wouldn't attack their own vehicle…so it'd be pretty safe to say that the mysterious strangers are Allied soldiers.
“82nd Airborne! We're comin' out!”
Two figures rise up…both with Panzerschrecks...nothing more than a more sophisticated, reload-able version of the Panzerfaust. They were powerful though…hell…one of them could easy decommission a Sherman with the right shot.
“Identify yourselves!” The captain yells rather strongly.
“Of course…I am…” and before the man could say who he was, Sabin's eyes widened to about the size of my fists, and yells at the top of his lungs.
“EDGAR! OH MY GOD EDGAR IT'S YOU!!!” The big lug ecstatically runs up to him and hugs him, lifting him up off the ground about two feet.
“Sense of self-control corporal…develop one!” The captain barks.
It's not a smart thing to yell like that, especially when the Germans could be anywhere. I could see Edgar barely breathing Sabin's grip was so tight on him.
“<grunting> I'm thrilled…to see you too…brother!” Edgar squeaks out.
Holy shit…I can't believe it. What are the odds? I figured there were so many mixed up divisions, from St. Lorraine to Nantes in the southern part of France, the chances Edgar would be here of all places were slim and none.
“I'm serious…what are the friggin' odds of finding you here?” I ask.
“Depending on how many men were dropped in all sorts of places, I'd say million to one.” The familiar man says to me. I swore I knew that face, especially because of the facial scars.
“Edgar! Am I overjoyed to see you! What're you doing here…by yourself…in this neck of the woods?” Sabin seems a little too ecstatic almost ignoring the fact we're in war.
“Well Sabin…it's kind of a long story, but I'll make it short. Basically, we were all set to land in our drop zone, somewhere near St. Lorraine. The problem was…the Jerries knew we were coming. I was with Major Cyan Garamonde, for you privates who don't know him, and the rest of Baker Company in my C-47 transport. We were flying just short of our intended drop, when a Flakpanzer decides to choose us as its target. Might I remind you, a Flakpanzer is like a mobile AA tank, with four flak cannons. It took out a nice hunk of the right wing. The pilot starts freaking out, and turns the green light on. Another flak shell whacked our other side…some of the poor people got sucked out, yet their chutes deployed. I didn't know if they were alive when they hit. Three other soldiers managed to jump out along with me. I didn't know where the hell I landed, but the other three landed near me, so we quickly got together and managed to get a small foothold over a German checkpoint. Unfortunately…two of the three men died taking that kraut checkpoint. We've mostly been wandering around for the past day, taking German supplies and trying to find any of our men, while hitting the Germans with what we had. Thank God we ran into you! This was getting all FUBAR before you guys arrived!”
A short story my ass. “And by we…exactly who are you talking about, this guy right here?” The companion of Edgar's also looked frighteningly familiar.
“Allow me to introduce another Figaro native…this is Sergeant Setzer Gabianni.” Edgar says.
Jesus, God, Mary, and Joseph…it was like a friggin' reunion of my past. “Setzer Gabianni huh? What the hell is a gambling playboy like you doing here?”
“Well pal…I'll have you know that I'm here on my own free will…I volunteered.” He replies like a smartass, but I guess I was asking for that. He glances at Edgar, who nods his head. What was that all about?
“Enough of this idle chit chat!” The captain yells. “You just blew away an entire German patrol…and now they're gonna send more. We have to amscray unless you think you can take more infantry and possibly and Panzer or two in the open!”
“You wanna bet we could sir? I'll bet you ten to one these krauts have nothin' on me!” Setzer smugly boasts. He's a gambler at heart I guess…even in the thick of battle.
“Setzer…not now. I know you have a knack for being lucky, especially since we lived though that awful landing, but not in front of him.” Edgar tones the cocky sergeant down…just a little.
“Good thing Lt. Figaro's there for you sergeant, otherwise you'd be nothing more than deadweight to me, and I hate deadweight.” The captain coldly says. He doesn't have much regard for anyone not in his battalion.
“Well sir…Sgt. Gabianni is actually rather adept at projectile weapons, and he's an excellent grenadier.”
“Yeah…I used to play darts every day when I was in Figaro, I could hit the dead center of a horse's ass from 25 feet away I was that good! Give me a grenade and a far away foxhole…I'll hit it dead on!” He was a man living on odds…having dice painted on his helmet and all sorts of good luck charms on him and what not.
“Whatever…we're heading to Thamasa to reinforce a mixed 82nd and 101st Airborne troop. I guess you can join us. We could use the extra help. Just be careful, the Reaper's always one step behind me…so there will always be a fight brewing.” The captain says with slight apathy, but that phrase in the end…once again it was so…familiar.
“Thank you sir…maybe we'll find Maj. Garamonde along the way.” Edgar seems grateful for the offering that the captain made. Sabin's eyes light up like a Christmas tree, knowing a.) His twin brother's alive and kickin', and b.) He'll be fightin' alongside his twin brother, and c.) He and the rest of the squad have two new men joining us, Setzer and Edgar. Everybody wins huh?
“I say…it's getting late…why don't we camp somewhere in the woods ok?” There's a cabin somewhere in these woods. Setzer and I holed ourselves up in there for that night during D-Day.” Edgar suggests.
“That's a good idea Lt. Figaro…how far is this place?” The captain asks.
“Well…it's actually about an hour from here…due northwest. With the Germans on alert now, I'd say it might take us a little longer going slower but safer.”
“Great…well…at least it's better than staying in the open waiting for the Jerries to pick us off. Let's move out…now before more come.”
Once again…we were off. At least Edgar and Setzer were with us, in a tight squad formation. Not only could they provide some more companionship, but a little extra firepower to help fight off the Germans. In this countryside…you needed everything and everyone you could get. We managed to get into the forest, before anyone knew where we were. We were lucky, because we happened to notice a small squadron of Stuka dive bombers above our heads. If we were out in those fields any longer, we could've been annihilated by those bombers, and that would not be enjoyable.
“Stukas! Everyone get down now!” The captain orders. We all hug the forest ground, almost swallowing the dirt. When they leave, he orders us to get up and move again.
“Exactly how far have you ventured out from this forest Edgar?” I ask, trying to strike up a conversation.
“Not too far…Setzer and I can't handle the entire Wehrmacht you know…”
“Yeah, we've been lucky to only get through that small amount of Germans we ran into since the drop, shame we lost Lee and Price though.” Setzer adds.
“Indeed…it is a shame.” Edgar agrees.
“Well sir…,” Gau speaks up. “I reckon maybe a few of your buddies will be at this here Thamasa town, even that Major feller. We just gotta keep on lookin'.”
“Thanks specialist…maybe you're right.” Gau's words seemed to brighten Edgar up a little bit.
One of the privates happens to see me writing down another letter. “Whatcha writin' there Cole?” He asks.
“Nothing much Elder…just a letter to my Celes.”
“How sweet!” he mocks with a small southern drawl drawing laughter from the whole squad…except the captain, who never smiles or laughs. “I'm just kiddin' Cole…I write to my momma back home in the Veldt.”
“You know Specialist Gau then huh?” I ask.
“Ummmm…not really…but I was with him on the recruit bus. I think I've seen him with his wife once or twice too…but that's about it. The doc's a lovable guy though…ain't ya doc?” Pvt. Elder signals to Gau.
“You're too much Elder…” He replies, once again getting a few chuckles out of the squad.
“You live in the Veldt Gau?” I ask.
“Naw…I do live in a nice little town in between the Veldt and Figaro though. It's a small place, but it's got everything my missus and I need.”
“Good for you Gau…looks like ya got everything you wanted huh?”
“I sure did Locke…life is good sometimes.”
“It sure is…”
It took us about an hour and a half, but we finally reached the cabin. It was small, but it could fit us all in there. The time was around 1930 hours...I mean 7:30 PM. The moon was already out and we didn't hear anything come our way, so perhaps the Germans went looking somewhere else. The sky was pretty, full of stars and cloud streaks.
“Well here it is…our 'humble abode.'” Edgar mockingly says. “I just hope we can fit everyone.”
“We will, and we'd better.” The captain sternly replies.
We walk inside…it's rather dark and dusty. Hell…it reminded me of my old apartment in Figaro when I was a detective. It'd be easy…all I had to do was treat it like my old home…and there'd be no sweat. There was enough room for all of us, sleeping on the floor and the two beds it had.
“Oh I nearly forgot…this place also has a little 'pleasurable' commodity to it. Take a gander at this!” Sgt. Setzer exclaims while opening a large cabinet, revealing all sorts of liquors, from fine French wine to nice cognac. All of our eyes light up with excitement. The liquor was a relief to me…also a nostalgic reminder of the good old days…drinking up with Sabin, Terra, and Celes on those summer Mobliz nights. I haven't had a good drink in nearly a year. Sometimes Celes, and the other two lovebirds, and I would go to some nice Irish pub in Figaro. We'd always dance to the Celtic music they played too, even if we were all slightly tipsy, but those were good times.
“Well that's settled…let's drink up!” I say without hesitating.
“Hold on corporal…we're not drinking anything until this place is secure!” Once again the captain has to be the killjoy in every situation. “We're gonna patrol the area first, scout out for any Germans, and then get some rest. Get to it corporal.”
“<grumbling> God I hate you sometimes captain.” I mumbled to myself.
“What was that?”
Well la dee friggin' da. It takes Elder, Duane, and I nearly 35 minutes to scout out the area, but as I assumed, there wasn't a kraut in sight. It's like the friggin' patrol wasn't even necessary. My mouth waters at the thought of all those liquors…I needed a good drink…something to take my mind off my troubles. We enter the cabin, impatient as ever to get some R & R, the captain sadistically keeping us from it.
“Any sign of enemy troops Cole?” He asks.
“Not a soul around…we're lucky sir.” I reply.
“Good…and for your work…you're finally entitled to some rest and a drink or two.”
Our only source of light was two small oil lamp candles and our flashlights. Setzer passed out the cognac, as we all took a nice swig, in a nice circle. The captain refused to have a swig. Like I said…he was a killjoy, 100% killjoy.
“I don't know about this guys. I'm not really of age yet.” Pvt. Slocum tells us. We all stare at him, as if he was a space alien or something. Is he kidding?
“Now's not the time to think about legal issues Slocum! Drink up!” Pvt. Miceli assures Slocum.
“Good call Miceli!” I praise the young private. “Here ya go Edgar.” I hand him the cognac, which he refuses.
“Sorry my good man…but the governor of Figaro 'on hiatus' has a little more taste than just plain cognac. I'll have my Merlot, aged 1920. Wine is for the men of class.”
Sabin rolls in laughter at the way his brother speaks, while Edgar, about to take a sip, starts bickering with him. You had to love Edgar…no matter where he was, or who he was with, he was always a gentleman. He spoke so…formal…too formal for my liking. He would try to woo Celes, Terra, and Katarin with his eloquence and debonair flair whenever he visited Mobliz. The ladies would just blow him off, but he was still the gentleman, even if Sabin threatened to pound him for flirting with Terra. He was always swarmed by women anyway…hell…I remember reading the papers finding out about some scandal or relationship the “honorable” governor would get himself into. Having Edgar here was good for Sabin. Finally, the two brothers could spend some quality time with each other.
“So dear brother…I bet the women of Figaro were heartbroken to hear about your shipping huh?” Sabin asks.
“Oh indeed…I remember the women sending me flowers, love letters, there was even a gaggle of fine ladies demanding I not go. I had to calm them down with my charm, but still I had to also tell them it was a patriotic duty. They understood.”
“Thank God our wives aren't like them huh guys?” I ask to Duane and Sabin.
“Amen to that!” says Duane.
“You're lucky Sabin, to be tied down to such a wonderful and free-spirited woman like Terra. Those kids of yours must be something else too.”
“Oh hell yes Edgar…my kids are growing by the minute! Vincent and Ryan wanna be like me, they're always trying to act like their professional weightlifters. I gotta tire myself out everyday trying not to get them hurt. Little Madonna said 'mama' as her first word before I left. She's got greenish hair like my Terra. My son Ryan is the perfect gentleman, always helping my wife Terra with everything.”
“Maybe he takes after a certain uncle...ahem.” Edgar hints. We all laugh.
“Ahhhh…my kids are something in and of themselves. Catherine is the blonde beauty just like my Celes. Lawrence and Adrian are like you two, always doing things together, getting into trouble. It takes both my Celes and I to get them under control…and my little Mairin…she kinda looks like me, in a female way.”
“Then for God's sake…get rid of her! Another Locke is something we don't need!” Duane yells.
“HEY!” I know he's just joking.
“Well…to let you guys know…my wife became pregnant about four months ago. She told me via letter when I was training. I'm ecstatic guys…my sweetheart Relm is gonna have a baby.” Gau announced.
“Congratulations Gau!” I said. I noticed the captain actually raise his head, cocking his eyebrow, which was rather odd.
“I know I know…I'm excited. I can't wait to go home and start this family. Relm didn't have any parents, only her grandpa Strago. I hope it's a boy…she always wanted a son.”
The captain…still actually paying attention, breathes a heavy sigh.
“Something wrong sir?” Setzer asks.
“Nothing…I'm just tired. Let's get some sleep men…you've had your drinks anyway.”
We were a little tipsy…he was correct there. I noticed though…he seemed troubled when we talked about our families, and especially when Gau spoke of Relm and his up and coming family. Was the captain a family man or not? Was Gau's innocent love and newly developing family with Relm troubling for him? I still had that detective sense in me. I could tell what ate someone up inside. I'm good…very good…you might say I still got it. All I needed was a little time, and maybe some coerciveness on the captain to crack his shell.
I was the last to stay awake…sometimes it's hard for me to fall asleep, and wartime makes it extremely worse. However, still looking at the captain, who finally fell asleep, I notice something. He's mumbling in his sleep. He mentions a name…something that began with a B. I'm not quite sure what he's talking about, but judging by his tone, it wasn't a good dream. My sixth sense told me that this captain was hiding something.
Part 5: A Farewell to Brave Men, a Return to the Fray
The morning sun rises up, its rays streaking all over our faces.
“Wake it and shake it ladies…it's time to move out! You don't want the krauts to serve you coffee do ya?” The captain yells in our faces.
“Uhhhhnnnn…five more minutes to sleep mommy…” Sabin groans, his eyes still shut.
“I'm not your mommy Figaro! Now get your ass up now!”
“Ahhhhh…that's what I call some beauty sleep!” Setzer says aloud.
“Owwww…not so loud sergeant…my head is still aching.” The alcoholically inexperienced Pvt. Slocum complains.
“Come on ladies…we've got a bridge to secure…God knows if the Germans haven't already taken it.”
“He's right men…we have to get out now. Sergeant Gabianni…grab us some of that wine and food…the men could use it over at Thamasa. Hopefully the major is over there.” Edgar says.
Setzer grabs some of the bread, cheese, and wine the cabin provided. It's around 5:00 AM…well beyond what time we were supposed to wake up. We grabbed our gear and got the hell out of the cabin. The Jerries were still nowhere in sight…which was good for us.
“All right men…we have to move about 75 miles due northeast until we reach the outskirts of Thamasa. Once again…stay sharp! I don't think we have any reinforcements heading here anytime soon.”
We set out for Thamasa…but this time we had to shuffle. The forest wasn't what worried me…it was once we got out into the open that I was afraid the Germans were waiting for us. Hopefully that commotion Setzer and Edgar made wouldn't attract an entire battalion breathing down our necks. Sometimes I felt like everything my squad did was an open invitation to battle, as if the captain wanted us all dead with him. That man creeps me out…but I'll figure him out by God I will.
The French countryside was still as peaceful as always, with a gentle breeze blowing at our backs. The birds made a lovely song…all chirping to each other. I wish I knew what they were saying. They were probably talking about the war, just like we are. For some reason, I felt at ease, as if I were home on a quiet Mobliz evening watching the sky, with Celes. Unfortunately, everything that is good…doesn't last forever…at least not here. We were about 25 miles out of the small patch of forest, until I was assigned another scout mission, with Pvt. Miceli as support. His B.A.R. would provide me some cover for me in case we ran into Jerries.
“Oh man…the captain's always got me up, down, and all around, like I'm his errand boy or something!” I complain.
“Yeah yeah…it's always hurry up and wait, move here, go there…but what can ya do Cole?”
“Hey Miceli…how long have ya been in this gig anyway? What made ya get into this?” I ask…as we walk way past the squad…keeping close so we can cover ourselves.
“Not for too long Cole. I was kind of a punk kid in Figaro…always gettin' into trouble. It was only six months ago…I was just walkin' around…lookin' for trouble. I already had a criminal record, but I was always tempted to cause trouble. I saw this lady's purse, thought it'd give me some dough, so I grabbed it…knocking her into a light post! I ran like hell, but the cops caught me. It turns out that the woman broke her nose and was gonna sue me and I would be locked away for some time. The only way outta prison was to join the army. I was gettin' sick of trouble anyway…wanted ta make my family proud, so I enlisted. Training was hell…but my pops would be proud.”
“Then you joined for the right reasons private. Man…I remember being young and rowdy like that. A 'treasure-hunter' I was…even though everyone else thought of me as a thief. You have anyone special in your life Miceli?”
“That's because you were a thief…”
“TREASURE HUNTER GOD DAMN IT!”
“Nah…I've been with girls, but for the wrong reasons. I'm here to right them wrongs. Maybe when I come back…there'll be a special lady. I know all about your Celes corporal…quite the lady she is rowrrrrr!” Miceli growls like a cat.
“Ha ha…very funny private! I'm sure some private will say the same thing to you years from now.”
“Hey Cole…what's that up ahead?”
“Dunno…let's check it out.” Miceli and I happened to see a faint trace of smoke bellowing from the bottom of a nearby hill. We weren't quite sure what it would be. It could've been a ruined Panzer, or downed glider, or just a dying fire. Like I said, good times come to an end abruptly…when our conversation was ended with a sight that made me gasp in horror.
“Good Lord…what happened?” Miceli asks.
“It was a massacre…” I could barely say.
At the crest of the hill, with our bellies to the dirt, we saw one gruesome sight. It was a downed C-47 glider, slammed right into a tree. There were bodies everywhere, not to mention metal and debris. It was awful. There was still a stench of death and craters were all around, with dead airborne GIs inside. My lips trembled.
“Captain!! CAPTAIN! YOU'D BETTER COME HERE QUICK!” I yelled over the hill…thinking he'd be over on the other side.
I saw seven heads bob up and down from the hill. They all stopped dead in their tracks the minute they saw what happened. Even the captain paused for a second, eyes widened.
“Good God…what happened?” Gau asks.
Setzer and Edgar's jaws dropped, their hands shaking.
“Oh no…this was the rest of Baker Company…they're gone…” Edgar says.
“All gone…” Setzer adds.
“I'm…I'm sorry guys…” I try to comfort them.
“Wait…where's Major Garamonde? Where's Cyan? He's still gotta be alive! He has to be alive!” Edgar yells. He runs frantically to the disaster site, Sabin trying to catch up.
“EDGAR! Wait up! It could be dangerous!”
At this time Miceli and I are investigating the crash site. I didn't see Cyan anywhere, until Miceli whispered to me.
“Cole…come here…look…” He signals me to the plane.
Edgar is too busy looking around all the foxholes, with the captain, Setzer, and Sabin trying to control him. I look inside and it's a mess of twisted metal and flies and all sorts of disgustingness. I saw something though…a helmet. I take a closer look…and happened to see a golden leaf on it, and underneath a dead body, looked like the man was near fifty. He had a slightly wrinkled complexion and a thick black mustache on him. Yep…it was him.
“Yeah I know Cole…it's the major.”
It was Major Cyan Garamonde, Commissioner of the Figaro Police Dept. Poor bastard was killed the minute the plane hit the ground. These guys…they never had a chance. The krauts probably got the drop on them the minute they landed, the craters looked like mortar holes, but I couldn't think of a good spot on where to put the mortars. It was odd how they were there.
“CYAN! Where are you?” Edgar continues to call the major. “Wait…the plane! Maybe there's a message from him in the plane!”
“Sir…you really don't wanna go in there!” Pvt. Miceli tries to warn him.
“To hell I won't! I wanna know if he's still ali…” He peeks his head into the window, his ranting stops immediately. My eyes closed in pain. Edgar pulls his head out, his lips trembling, his gun and arms shaking.
“No…it can't be. He was my best friend…my best man in Figaro. How could he have died like this? NO! This isn't happening! Oh Cyan…why?” Edgar starts to break down. His best friend back home was killed without Edgar even saying goodbye to him. “We were supposed to come back home together…ride in a victory parade together…”
“There there Edgar…I'm sorry.” His brother tries to comfort him.
I don't think I've ever seen Gov. Edgar sad over anything…anything! When I used to see him, as a detective in Figaro, he was always so happy-go-lucky, carousing with multiple women, having the time of his life. Even when Gestahl and Kefka ran him ragged, he always kept a straight face. This wasn't like him. Every time he'd visit Sabin and Terra in Mobliz, he'd always have a smile on his face, and he was great with their kids. It's only when you lose someone you care for do you actually form a different view on life, not to take it for granted.
“GOD DAMNIT! THOSE KRAUTS! I'll kill every last one of them!” Edgar screams as he stomps off by himself.
“Lieutenant! Get back here right now!” The captain snaps.
“Edgar! Get over here! It'll be alright.” Sabin tries to coax Edgar to return.
I notice Pvt. Elder looking down at the grounds. Immediately I see his eyes open wide and his lips read, “Oh shit…” as he ran towards Edgar.
“Sir! We're on a minefield! Get outta there sir!” He pulls Edgar back with all his might, but then <CLICK!>…he steps on something, something that wasn't good.
“Oh no…” Setzer says.
“Private…I hate to tell you this,” Duane says to him calmly, “but you've just stepped on a mine. Stay still…and I can get you away from it.”
“What's the situation sergeant?” The captain asks.
“He's stepped on a Spreng-Mine 44, or a 'Bouncing Betty.' If we're not careful we're all gonna have shrapnel in us!”
“Oh my God…oh my God…oh my God…get me off this thing!” Elder yells. “I don't wanna get blown up!”
“Calm down private…you're gonna be ok.” Setzer says.
“Oh my God…no…” The poor kid is trembling.
“Just stay still Elder!” Duane calmly says. He reached for his knife so he could fit it right in between the mine and Elder's boot. “Sabin! Get me a rock, a nice sized one too!”
Sabin runs around the plains, trying to find the biggest rock he can find. He was able to find a nice sized slab near a lone tree. Luckily we were only on the edge of the minefield, but now I know what killed those poor men.
“Ok Sabin…now get ready to slide that rock in place! Elder…I can apply pressure with the knife, but you have to step off very slowly…ok?”
“Ok…” He nervously responds.
“Ok…now step off…” The private slowly but surely slides his boot off, while Duane holds down on the pressure trigger with all his might. Sabin then places the big rock on the mine.
“Move away now!” Duane yells. We all hit the dirt and the rock slides slightly off place, and the mine explodes. Had we not done something, Pvt. Elder would've been up in the air about 30 feet.
“That…was too close!” I say…rather happy no one was hurt as we all get back up.
“Good job guys…that was too close Locke.” Duane agrees.
“Thank you sergeant…thank you so much for saving me!” Edler thanks Duane with a smile on his face. Duane can only smile back. “I thought I was gonna be a gon…” Suddenly a bullet rips right through the poor private's stomach, followed by a gun crack. All the poor kid can do is fall flat on his back, struggling to move.
“SNIPER! GET COVER NOW!” The captain yells. We all hit the dirt again
“Jesus Christ! Where'd that come from?” Setzer yells.
I crawl over to Capt. Clyde. “Where'd that come from Cole?” He asks.
“Judging by where Elder was hit…he was hit from the front, so the sniper has to be behind us! Just stay down sir…I'll take care of this.” I crawled over to the nearest available cover. I noticed a slight gleam coming from on of the big trees directly southwest of our direction. There was our sniper.
“Please…someone…help me!” Elder gasps for air.
“Elder…stay down…we'll help you…just stay down!” Pvt. Slocum yells over to him.
“I gotta help him!” Gau yells, trying to run all the way over to him.
“Are you insane? You'll get popped just like he did! Stay down!” Setzer yanks him down to the ground again.
I crawled as fast as I could to the downed C-47. I figured I'd get some cover there. I was able to take a quick look from my Springfield and get a sight on him, but he was already aiming for us, so I had to move. I got right under the wing. The sniper was still aiming to where the captain and the rest took cover. I fixed my sights and slowly raised the gun. Damn! Where was he? I look down at the tree and see him running. He jumped off and was trying to get to another position. I was going to make sure he didn't. I quickly followed his running path with my sight, and BANG! Shot him straight in the back…and he wasn't going to get up from that one.
“CLEAR!” I yell as we quickly ran towards the bleeding Elder.
“How bad is it Elder?” Edgar asks.
“I don't know…I'm getting cold…”
“Doc! What's the situation on this kid?” Setzer asks.
“Hold on…let me see. Elder…can you breathe alright?”
“Yeah…I can sort of…” he sputters a little blood from his mouth. “It burns…please…make it stop!”
“The wound…let's see…acorn sized, around the upper stomach area. Locke…hand me some of that sulfa powder!”
I hand him the sulfa powder, which he sprinkles on the kid. It only cleans up some of the bleeding while Miceli pours water on the wound.
“You're gonna be ok Elder…just hold on!” Miceli says. “The doc will patch you up good!”
“What can we do doc? How can we make him better?” Slocum asks.
Gau breathes a heavy sigh. “Guys…get my kit…we need morphine.” He bitterly replies. Gau then looks at the captain. “Sir…I'm afraid he's been shot in the liver. There's not much we can do…”
“Morphine…but that's if…” Sabin cuts himself short. He realizes, just like Edgar, Setzer, Duane, and I realize, that Elder is dying. We, with heavy hearts, bring the kit over to Gau. He takes out one of the morphine needles and jabs it into Elder's left leg.
“I don't wanna die, I don't wanna die…please God no! Please I don't wanna die…no God no…I don't wanna die.” The poor kid cries out. A tear runs down Gau's cheek.
“I'm sorry Elder…” The captain says. “Another one medic!” He orders Gau to use another morphine needle. Gau takes one out and jabs it in the other leg.
All Elder can do is grunt in pain and agony. “Am I gonna die Cole?” He asks me as I hold his hand tightly. I didn't know what to say.
“I'm sorry Elder, you did a brave thing saving Lt. Figaro. You're goin' to the big place in the sky…I'm sorry…” A tear started to run down my cheek too.
“Then I did my momma proud…” That was the last calm thing he said. His body was going into shock. Then he lost it. “Momma…momma…I wanna go home…I wanna go home…I wanna go home! Momma please…take me home momma! Please…” He gave a few last breaths…and then stopped moving, his grip loosening on my hand, his eyes closing. We lost another man. All we could do was watch in horror as the poor boy died in agony. We tried to hold back whatever tears we were going to shed. Pvt. Elder was gone…he died saving Edgar's life. He was a hero to the squad. He was a hero to me. God…get me out of here soon. I don't wanna die like him…I want my Celes with me here now...