Promises to Keep Chapter 3
Part 9: Our Final Mission?
Two weeks later:
Wow. Whoever longs for the field of battle is certainly on some type of drug. This guard duty is the tops. It's been over a month, and still the brass hasn't found a mission for us. It's either that, or they have something very special planned for us. There's a big threat of a German counterattack, so why they're keeping us out of the Ardennes forest is beyond me. Privates Slocum and Miceli were promoted to Privates First Class, and transferred to the 1st Ranger Battalion. We missed them a lot. Edgar and Setzer on the other hand, since their company was wiped out, we “adopted” them into our squad in the 2nd Rangers. This French countryside landscape was much prettier than the bleak beachfronts. Chirping birds, gentle breezes, and gorgeous bouquets of flowers made me at peace with the world, only to be interrupted by the occasional but distant artillery strike or air raid. The beauty nature provided was only a lull to the storm off in the distance. This was the world I wanted to stay in, the world of tranquility, my world with my family and my friends…and Celes most of all. I stared off into the distance, spanning for miles, off into the lush countryside and hedgerows. Unfortunately, before I could finally relax, sitting down on a nice big rock, I was rudely interrupted with a slap on the shoulder.
“Whatcha starin' off into buddy…space again?” Sabin gives me a slap so hard he could've broken my arm.
“I was enjoying the scenery before you had to go ahead and do that!” I harshly reply.
“Jeez. Sorry Locke, I just figured you'd wanna hear the good news.”
“What good news?” I ask. You see, good news was hard to come by these days, so whenever it came, it was a God-given miracle.
“Well…besides the fact that the mail service has finally negotiated something with me…”
I chuckled, knowing that it was me who had to go over there and plead with them, not Sabin.
Go on…” I say.
“Terra sent me a letter, and it's the best letter I've got all this time. You'll like it Locke. She found her mother.”
“WHAT? Her mother?” I ask him, shocked by such a thing. Call me Doubting Thomas, but I figured when her mother was taken by Gestahl's goons, that she was long gone.
“Yeah I know…it's hard to believe, but she has a photo of her. Here…” Sabin hands me the photo.
“Well I'll be damned…” The resemblance was almost completely alike, sans the green hair and age difference.
“I'm glad…she and the kids have been so lonely without me, so this is perfect for her.”
“You're right. This certainly gets rid of a lot of the pain she had.”
Sabin handed me the letter. I must admit, what it said was incredibly cheery. It certainly lit me up, even if it felt like a dim bulb in a fog patch.
IT'S YOUR WONDERFUL WIFE TERRA. YOU'LL NEVER BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED! I FOUND MAMA! I HAVEN'T BEEN THIS HAPPY SINCE OUR WEDDING DAY! SEEMS LIKE SHE WAS STILL ALIVE AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, BUT I KNEW SHE WAS ALIVE. IT TOOK US A WHILE, BUT CELES, KATARIN, AND I FREED HER FROM KARINA. WE BRANFORDS ARE TOO STUBBORN TO DIE, KINDA LIKE YOU FIGAROS! I HOPE THE TROOP IS FARING WELL, ESPECIALLY YOU BUT I ALSO HOPE EDGAR, DUANE, AND LOCKE ARE DOING OK. CELES MISSES LOCKE OBSESSIVELY AS ALWAYS, BUT SHE DEALS WITH IT. ANYWAY, PLEASE COME HOME. MAMA IS DYING TO SEE YOU, AND SO AM I, SO WIN THIS WAR AND GET YOUR ASS HOME NOW! I LOVE YOU FOREVER.
TERRA BRANFORD FIGARO
P.S. WE ALSO HAVE A NEW FRIEND THAT VISITS FROM TIME TO TIME. IT'S GAU'S WIFE RELM. SHE'S QUITE THE LOOKER, BUT HAS SUCH A FOUL TONGUE SOMETIMES. ANYWAY, TELL GAU THAT RELM MISSES HIM AND LOVES HIM VERY MUCH. THANKS HONEY.
“Still the wonderful woman as always huh Sabin?”
“Damn right…and I'll always love her like that.”
“Hell…I'd like to see her mother.”
“Yeah…apparently she was still the prisoner of Kefka and Gestahl, but after Kefka died, his nutty sister carried on the dirty work.”
“SISTER?” I ask in a shock again. Any more shock and I'd have a heart attack.
“Her name was Karina.”
“Oh that's the woman Terra mentioned in the letter!”
“Yeah. Anyway, apparently Karina had some big trap for them, capturing Terra in the process, but Katarin and Celes laid a trap for Karina, and there was some huge fight. I'll have you know that your wife is quite the sharpshooter.”
“Hey…who do ya think taught her?” I wink at Sabin. He just scoffs and turns his head.
“Indeed. What happened was that Terra basically got in a huge fight with her and beat the crap outta Karina, and finally freed her mom.”
“Good for Terra…she's still got that killer instinct.”
“I can only wait until I come home. I'd love to see what her mother thinks of me. I hope she likes me.”
“Are you kidding? C'mon Sabin…don't be so doubtful. You're a regular…regular…ummmm…” I try to think of the words looking at the massive brute, who already knows what I'm going to say.
“I have a great idea Locke…don't finish your sentence.”
“Ok then, how about we see how the others are doing? I think they're playing Setzer in a game of poker, Edgar's there too.”
“Oh dear God no…EDGAR!” Unfortunately for Edgar, he was a terrible gambler, so we could already imagine the beating he was taking from Setzer. Hell, even Gau could do better than him. Sabin always feared that he was going to gamble something valuable or bet on doing something stupid. He once had to get plastered and tell the captain off, and oh boy did he get an ass whooping for that.
“HA! You lose again sir!” Setzer yells out loud in sheer victory.
“You're kidding right? I have nothing left!”
“That's not true sir…remember what I took from the village?”
“No…please don't make me put that on…no!” Edgar pleads.
“Sorry…you lost…those are the rules, and now you have to put it on.”
“Edgar! You're gonna put on whatever he's talking about, or I'm gonna pound you for gambling again!” Sabin threatens.
“God almighty why did I get myself into this…this weather is too friggin' cold!” Edgar walks away mumbling while Sabin and I look at what was Setzer's card game.
“Wait…please don't tell me…you guys played poker again huh?”
“Yes indeed, and as you can see, I am the victor with Gau over here coming in second, losing only his jacket and boots.”
“Thank you Setzer.” Gau replies while Setzer gives him light applause.
“Private Haley over here came in third, losing his shirt, boots, socks, and jacket.” I notice a small private already shivering a little bit from the draft that was blowing into the tent. “And our unfortunate Lt. Figaro lost everything except his undies, and now he's gotta put on the dress.”
“What dress?” Sabin asks.
“Oh there was this lovely pink dress I saw in Thamasa, so I took it and hid it behind the other side of the bridge. I dunno why I kept it, maybe it might get me some money, but now I use it as a punishment for losing to me.”
“I can only imagine…no wait…I don't wanna imagine.” I say to Setzer, disgusted at the idea of Edgar in a pink French dress. “Well speak of the devil!”
It was Edgar, and he looked all dolled up with the dress on. He was madder than a thousand bulls in a gigantic china shop. My mouth opens wide as I fall to the ground, rolling in laughter. I though I was gonna suffocate myself.
“Oh Scarlet, you look lovelier by the day!” Sabin mocks, fluttering his eyes with a kissy smile on his face.
“I will murder you, and bury you in this dress…” Edgar threatens. His face is as red as blood.
“Hey! Ease up there bro. I'm only joshing ya.” Sabin chuckles slapping his already embarrassed brother on the back.
“Yeah…at least you can now show off your true colors sir…pink!” Gau jokes, causing Setzer to crack up.
“I'm gonna grind you into dust! Get back here!” Edgar chases Gau around the table, while Setzer, Sabin, and I just continue to laugh our asses off.
“Jeez sir…I didn't know you felt that way about me. I'm flattered!” Gau mocks, enraging Edgar who continues to chase his around the tent.
“ATTENTION!” Private Haley yells as the captain storms into the room. This guy has a knack for killing the fun in any situation, like the Grim Reaper is behind him all the time. Immediately we stop the monkey business and snap to attention.
“What's going on here?” Capt. Clyde asks with utmost suspicion. That is until he sees Edgar in a pink dress. His jaw drops and he scoffs with disgust. “Oh good Lord, maybe I don't wanna know what's going on.”
“A friendly bet sir…Edgar lost it.” Setzer explains.
“I can see sergeant! Lieutenant…get that thing off right now! I expect you all to rendezvous with me at the briefing room. Looks like we've got another mission fellas…and it's from the top generals themselves! Get cleaned and ready, because this one's a biggie!” The captain leaves in a flash. Sometimes that man gives even me the willies. A sane man would jump at the opportunity to stay on guard, that or on R & R. I'm beginning to think that man wants us all dead along with him.
“Well he's a bundle of giggles isn't he Mr. Cole?” Edgar asks me, no longer enraged from his losses.
“You haven't even the slightest idea Edgar.” I reply.
It started to rain. It was just a light sprinkle, but for some reason I had no qualms with it. In fact, I felt more at ease with the rain. I always liked rain…it made me feel one with everything. Before I could get myself into another trance, I collected my senses and walked over to the officer's tent. Wow…talk about being pampered. The officer tents had everything, from boilers to wooden beds and other ritzy crap. Jealousy hit me like the plague.
“Come in gentlemen. The briefing will commence in five minutes.” The captain says.
We all sat down, with Duane walking in about three minutes later, while the rain continues to pitter-patter on the roof of the tent. There I saw the captain, with a face as grim as a dead man's, but then I saw two other people, people I've never seen in my life. They almost looked foreign.
“Who are they?” Setzer asks me.
“At ease men…I would like to introduce some gentlemen from OSA. That's the Office of Secret Actions. Apparently, our superb work in Thamasa has caught the attention of the top brass, and that's why we're here. I'd now like you all to pay attention to Captain Banon of the SAS, 3 Troop.”
My eyes widened. The OSA? SAS? 3 Troop? These were the cream of the crop of British elites. The British always fascinated me. They're nearly beaten to death by the Germans, but for some reason they never give up. I like that bold determination. It's almost inspiring.
“Thank you captain.” The accent was so thick you could cut it with a knife. He was a rather gruff gentleman, with sideburns that reached his neck and a moustache so full of hair any American soldier would freak out over. “Hello chaps my name is Captain Banon of the SAS, or Special Air Service of Her Majesty's Army. Next to me is Master Sergeant Bixby. I wish there was more time for handshakes and hellos, but I'm afraid there is not. As you well know, the Germans are digging in for the long haul, and they're intent on driving us out of their 'Fatherland.' They've taken desperate measures to halt our progress, from King Tiger tanks to jet planes all the way to the dreaded Vengeance rockets, both V-1 and V-2. These 'secret' weapons have already had many commanders shaking, and the rockets have continued to ravage London. It's time we strike back! There are reports from our recon planes that the main assembly line of these Vengeance weapons are built in a German country area called Narshe. This town is unfortunately near the middle of Germany, so we'll have to airdrop you at an earlier point in the town of Heidelberg. There you'll meet our contact who will escort you via underground to Narshe. There you must demolish the V-2 rocket plant and end the production of more of these monstrosities. There are also reports of a deadly new bomber they're constructing, called the Ho-IX, or 'Ho-9' Delta Wing. Supposedly this delta wing fighter has the capabilities of dropping these V-2s in bomb forms, which will unleash untold destruction on out forces and cities. Rumors have been spreading of a secret German weapons project, building a weapon far more powerful, and more fearful, than the V-Rockets. We have to find what we can about this new plane and weapon when you get there. More details will be discussed as we are ready to deploy. Gear up lads! We're in for the ride of our lives!”
“I'll be speaking with Capt. Banon and Lt. Figaro about the mission while MSG Bixby instructs you all on the airdrop. The rest of you fall out to the barracks. He'll meet you shortly. Dismissed!” The captain says. We make our way to the tents while the rain pours down harder. Back inside, Setzer offers a nice suggestion.
“Well gents, after hearing that who feels like getting the hell outta here?”
“I know exactly how you feel Setzer. It seems like every time we survive one thing, something even more dangerous is thrown in our faces, like we seem to cheat Death with every mission.” Duane agrees.
“I dunno about you fellers, but I've got a feelin' in my bones that if we get through this, we can go home.” Gau cuts in.
“I appreciate your wishful thinking Gau, but I doubt that this will be our last mission. Who knows? Maybe it will be.” I answer.
“Last mission or not you'll do this mission yanks!” The master sergeant barks before taking a deep breath. “Pardon my rudeness lads. I didn't get many winks last night. I assume you all know about our glider planes right?”
We all nod.
“Right. Well, it's basically a British version of your Yankee C-47. Who here knows how to airdrop?”
“I do master sergeant!” Setzer raises his hand like we're back in elementary school.
“Splendid! Maybe you can help me instruct the rest on how to do a successful airdrop?”
“Sure thing master sergeant.”
I've never done an airdrop before, but I know I had a little bit of parachute training when I was training. I assumed it was a “just-in-case” reason as to why I had to learn about airdrops. This was certainly going to be a blast. The sergeant, with Setzer giving side commentary, instructed us all on how open the chutes when airborne and the whole tuck and roll jazz. I nearly fell asleep.
“Cpl. Cole! Are you paying attention?” The British sergeant asks me, snapping me back to the real world.
“Ummmm…yes master sergeant!” I yell.
“I hope so. Otherwise the only thing you'll be good for is the crater you'll make falling!” He retorts. As he turns away I make a sneer at him. I'm usually not so disrespectful, but then again, I'm not thrilled about this either.
Taking eternity as always, the master sergeant finished his crash course on airdrops, as if I was just a child learning how to ride a bike. He leaves the tent while the rain continues to pour and the wind starts to howl, an ominous sign if I ever saw one.
“Hoo boy. That was certainly a lot to cram before we begin.” Gau says.
“You said it pal…I just hope my legs don't break when I hit that ground.” Sabin adds.
“Yeah I know. Hey Sabin, by the way I couldn't help but read that letter your missus sent ya. Awful kind of her to befriend Relm and what not. It's been kinda hard on my Relm to get around bein' pregnant and what not and with me gone it doesn't make matters better. Tell your wife I said thanks.”
“Sure thing pal.” Sabin tells him with a grin on his face.
“Hey…where's Edgar?” Setzer asks me.
“He must still be with the captains. It's like they always say, the officers stay with the officers, the enlisted stay with the enlisted.”
“I dunno Locke…that's not like Edgar to not come back, even after all this briefing.”
“Buck up guys. This is my bro you're talking about. He'll be fine, and he'll be back. Has he ever let us down before?”
I wanted to tell Sabin my opinions of Edgar, but I bit my tongue. Edgar is a great guy, compassionate, friendly, and a massive flirt to boot. However, I know Edgar has some demons and problems to confront. I knew he was in pain the minute Private Elder died or after the battle at Thamasa. When he yelled to us about his loneliness and how much he hated his job and perhaps his life, I knew something was up. Though he wouldn't show it, he was jealous of Sabin, and of everyone else. While every other person who knew who he was wished they could have his power, his money, his prestige, and the gaggle of ladies following him, he wished for something more than that. He envied Sabin for his simplistic nature and his uncanny ability to be strong-willed even in the toughest of situations. But what he was most envious of Sabin for was how Sabin had Terra's heart. Though Edgar himself made no effort to ever win Terra over, Terra represented that love that Edgar couldn't find in his one-night stands or his female escorts to big events. Terra was the personification of true love to him, and even me and Celes to an extent, and it killed him sometimes that he decided to choose obligation to his city over freedom to work however he wanted, and do whatever he wanted. It killed him that Sabin, as deserving as he was, was able to find happiness in the arms of Terra. I hope that Edgar will find his peace somewhere, be it here or back home after this war. It's funny how you do it Locke. It's amazing how you can just figure people out that easily sometimes, except when it comes to yourself. Speaking of which, I should get to work on that captain sooner or later.
Hours passed as we were transported to a Royal Air Force airfield via truck. By that time we got to write our last letters and pack all of our equipment. Poor Duane had to carry the most, since it would be only him and that German contact that would do the demolition duty. I tried not to snicker when I saw him lugging around all of his gear, nearly falling over to one side.
“Hey Duane…how about you give some of that stuff to Sabin? He can certainly carry it.” I suggest.
“No…it's ok…I can…handle it.” He grunts out, still trying to balance himself.
“Oh for the love of God gimme that!” Sabin grabs the ammo canisters from Duane, despite the protest from Duane.
“Hey! I need all that!” Duane yells.
Sabin looks inside on of them. It's just a tin with .30 caliber ammo. “You really think you need this? If anything…I need it! I hate to say this pal, but I think they screwed up our packing lists, because I also have about five cases of TNT and charges.”
“What?” Duane takes off his rucksack and looks inside, and much to his surprise, it looks like what an MG would carry, not an engineer, with ammo cases, grenades, spare barrels, and what not. “Well I'll be damned…you're right.”
“Here…let's trade huh?”
Sabin and Duane hand off their appropriate rucksacks, and immediately I notice a face on Duane like he's just had something better than sex.
“Oh my God that's therapeutic! Thanks Sabin.”
“No worries man.”
The truck comes to a halt, as the British airmen let us out.
“So…you're the yanks who're gonna stop those V-2s huh? Well Godspeed to you. Capt. Banon is waiting for you at the airstrip.”
We shuffle over to the airstrip, where the Horsa glider is waiting for us. Standing there are Capt. Banon, Capt. Clyde, Master Sergeant Bixby, and Edgar. We were glad to see Edgar again.
“Ah…you finally got here. Excellent! Our plane leaves in a half hour. We will have two Spitfire escorts to watch us while we're in the air, but they have to leave when they hit German airspace. From there on in…we're on our own until we meet the German contact.”
“Permission to speak freely sir?” I ask.
“Go ahead Cole.” Capt. Clyde answers.
“You mean to tell me that we have a German, one of their own people, helping us in all this?”
“Yes. There are several German resistance groups that did not take kindly to Hitler's ride to power, and they'll even go to such length as fighting their own people to end this madman's reign.” Capt. Banon says.
“I'll be damned.” I reply.
“Yes quite.” He replies. “Well it's almost time, let's get on with it shall we?”
“Men! Assemble your gear and follow Capt. Banon, Lt. Figaro, Capt. Clyde, and the master sergeant in. We take off in less than fifteen minutes.”
The squad and I walk our way over to the glider. A row of British airmen and soldiers form up and salute. I couldn't help but salute back. I liked the fact that even though we British and Americans had our differences, that we could support and unite each other under the banner of liberation. As we got into the plane, I saw our two escort pilots board their Spitfires and take off first into the night horizon.
“All right lads, get fastened, because once we take off…there's no going back!” The master sergeant yells to us.
The door shuts, sealing us all in, sealing us to our collective fate. The propellers start, with Capt. Banon and MSG Bixby at the controls, our own captain watching them.
“I pray those fighters can get us through the Rhineland safe.” Setzer says.
“Well the odds are a million to one we'll even get to our destination Setzer.” Edgar replies.
“I like those odds.” Setzer smiles a cocky grin on his face.
By this time we were already in the air, an hour already passing by. The cabin was stuffy as all hell. I nearly suffocated from the lack of space.
“How on Earth can they fly in these things?” I ask myself quietly while trying to ventilate myself.
I felt like I was choking, so I dug in my shirt to see what the matter was. It was probably my dog tags that were wrapping around my neck, but before I was about to yank them off, I almost yanked off something much more important. It was that runic charm Celes gave me. I dangled it in front of my eyes, looking at the crude but meaningful symbol engraved on it.
“Safety from harm huh?” I mutter while remembering what Celes said about it. I couldn't have picked a better time to say such a thing, because before I knew it, the plane was under attack from the Jerries.
“Condor 1…Condor 1 this Hawk 2, Jerry Me-262s, Focke-Wulf 190, and Heinkel 219 spotted heading towards your position. Take evasive action.” The radio transmission from an escort fighter sputters.
“Roger that Hawk 2. Blow those bloody bastards out of the sky!” Capt. Banon replies.
The minute I start questioning the usefulness of the charm, I take everything back and hold it to my heart while everyone else braces themselves for the attack. The Messerschmitts zoom right by us as a second afterwards the sky lights up with tracer fire. We barely get by with only a few scratches. There are four German fighters against a Horsa glider and two Spitfires. Looks like one helluva uneven dogfight if ya ask me.
“Looks like those odds just increased fellas!” I yell.
“All the better…” Setzer responds.
Rolling, diving, spinning, and with all sorts of other acrobatic feats, the fighters slug it out all for the fate of one glider plane. I notice one of the Spitfires being tailed by two of the German fighters. I dreaded the poor Brit was done for, but then I saw bullet fire rain on one of the Germans planes. Immediately the tail broke off and it spiraled to the ground. Following it right down comes the second Spitfire. We cheer as the Spitfire pulls right back up to our wing. The second Messerschmitt broke off formation. Whether that German pilot got out or not I hadn't a clue.
“Great shooting Hawk 1! Get those other two off our backs. We're getting shot up the arse here!” MSG Bixby radios to the fighters.
A trail of bullets hits the rear of the plane and goes right through. Luckily, no one was hurt from the shrapnel. The Spitfires continue to distract the fighters until one gets caught in a pincer move, getting hit in the right wing.
“Condor 1…this is Hawk 1! I'm hit but still able. Stay on course!”
“Roger. Three planes still remain men…get to it!”
The Focke-Wulf makes a dash towards our plane, guns blazing. A bullet zips through the window where my head was, making me hit the ground faster than a sack of bricks. Raising my head again, I could only see a bright flash. While the Focke-Wulf fires wildly at us, the wounded British fighter shoots it down. Thank God. Duane and I look out the window and to our horror we see the Heinkel fighter heading straight towards us. Closer and closer it flies, and all we can do is stare as it's about to open fire. In a split second its nose is shot off by the other Spitfire and plummets, followed by a silk chute opening. The Spitfire cuts left a split second before it would crash into us.
“That was too close for comfort eh Condor 1?”
“Too close indeed Hawk 2. You've got one more bloomin' fighter though! Get to it!”
“Right. C'mon Hawk 1…let's give this last chap some double team eh?”
“Copy Hawk 2!”
Unfortunately, the last Messerschmitt got the drop on us, tearing into our left wing before we could evade. We were hit pretty badly.
“God Almighty Hawk 1 and 2…get that bloody fighter!!” Capt. Banon screams.
Within a few minutes, we're able to catch a glimpse of the German dodging the British fighters, but time was inevitably on our side, as the German finally flew himself into a line of fire, going down in smoke.
“Good job Hawk 1! How're you faring Condor 1?”
“Limping but alive Hawk 2…unfortunately this is the border, so you have to leave now. Get some repairs and maintenance. We'll be fine as long as we stay under the radar.”
“Godspeed Condor 1. Tell those yanks that we'll by 'em a round when they come home.”
“Will do Hawk fighters.” Capt. Banon ends the radio contact. “Sorry lads, but we had to maintain radio silence. We still have enough fuel and such to get to our destination. Just sit tight!”
“After that little encounter how can we sit tight?” Edgar asks.
“We will hold on as long as we can, even if we have to redirect our course a little bit.” Capt. Clyde replies.
“I say we buy those pilots a round. Those guys nearly killed themselves defending us!” Duane suggests.
“Good call Duane. Hey, did they tell you exactly what you're going to do with all those explosives?” Sabin asks.
“Besides blow up the V-2 silos…I haven't a clue.”
“Well, they did mention that Ho-IX Delta jet plane, maybe you gotta go blow that sucker up too!” I add.
“Keep quiet men…we don't want the Germans to pick up anything. After that little fiasco we certainly made some significant noise.” Edgar tries to shush us. I figure he's just being paranoid after his last airborne plane disaster, and he has every right to be after going through what he went through.
The ride, despite the shakiness, was relatively smooth because we didn't run into any more trouble for the next half-hour. It looks like we're still under the radar. We were all a little shook up from the air battle, but we had to keep our cool. Unfortunately, my body started to shake again. Something tells me that something really bad will happen when all of this is over. I pull out Celes's runic charm again, staring into its stone engravings.
“Funny…the minute I looked at this, we were in danger, but we were safe in the end. It does its job well, despite the circumstances.” I think to myself while fiddling with it.
“What's your obsession with that charm all of a sudden?” Setzer asks.
“It's from my wife Setzer…anything from her I'll be obsessed with!” I retort sharply. “She gave it to me so I could have protection from harm.”
Though Setzer was the man of odds, I'm surprised he would discredit any form of charm or good luck. “Well…that charm isn't of much help now. Besides, we evaded the Germans, so we're in the clear!”
The minute he said that, a huge ripping sound came from the right wing of our glider. We were being his from the ground, and it sounded like a Flakpanzer shooting us.
“You just had to say that huh? You just had to jinx it huh?” I sarcastically ask Setzer.
“Brace yourselves men…we're taking a hard landing! Luckily we're near our drop, so we need to gain some altitude and jump!” Capt. Clyde yells to us.
The plane rumbles and shakes from all the flak and engine troubles. Capt. Banon pulls the plane us, helping us shake the ground fire, but unfortunately our battle damage wasn't going to keep us up here for too long.
“Get ready gentlemen…we all jump out in ten seconds!” MSG Bixby screams. “3…2…1…GO…GO…GO!”
Without thinking twice Setzer is the first to jump out, then Gau, then Duane, then Capt. Clyde. I see Edgar shaking at the door. He doesn't want to jump out again. That disaster with his airborne company must've really shaken him up.
“I can't jump…I can't!” He yells.
“For God's sake bro…we need to jump or we die in a fiery wreck! Let me jump with you…on three. 1...2…3!” Sabin grabs Edgar by the arm and jumps out with him.
“Out of the frying pan…and into the fire…” I mutter to myself as I'm next to hop out. Jeez…didn't I say that once before? Immediately the wind force feels like it's ripping my face off, then the sudden jerk of my parachute opening pulls me back up. I try to look around, for the SAS men. Fortunately, I see them with their chutes open while the Horsa glider starts to slowly plummet before it gets torn up by more flak and takes a crash dive right into the forest. Knowing the Germans would obviously pay more attention to that crash than some parachutes. I could only pray that they didn't notice our parachutes, even though they were night camouflaged. A bright flash erupted from the exploding glider, lighting up the whole forest.
“Jesus God…now either we've now been spotted, or they don't see us, meaning they have to be the blindest people on the planet.” I say to myself, watching myself gently fall to the terra firma. After about a minute or two airborne, I finally hit the ground while the others except for the British commandos wait for me.
“That was certainly not enjoyable…not one bit…” Sabin mutters with the pale look as if he's just seen a ghost. “Now I know why you were so freaked out to jump among other reasons Edgar.”
“I think I need a change of clothes.” Gau says outta the blue. We all look at him. “I'm just joshin' fellas.” He timidly replies to our looks. The British come over, a little shook up, but still on their toes.
“Well so much for a stellar landing eh chaps?” MSG Bixby asks. Our captain just gives him this look of utter disgust. I try to hold back any chuckling.
“Christ…with that much noise the Germans are gonna be on us like flies on a horse! We need to move…now!” Capt. Clyde barks.
“I'm afraid I have to agree with your captain men. We're a little behind our rendezvous point, but we have to keep moving lest the German patrols find us!”
And so, we are forced to move on, having to abandon our aerial chariot for some lovely ground-thumping. The radio was shot, so we had no way of contacting the outside until we ran into the resistance contact. Meeting this German contact and doing this mission better be worth it. I'm sick of having to go through hell and high water for the sake of the Allies…again and again!
Part 10: The Woman in Black
The Black Forest. Der Schwartzwald. It's such a lovely place to walk around, when you're not being hunted by German patrols every fifteen minutes. It was around 9:00 PM. The men and I were lucky to get a little sleep before this huge escapade, so the hiking and hiding around wouldn't be too much of a burden. When the Germans stopped looking for us, it gave me time to appreciate the beauty of the forest, all in my own private and quiet manner. I figure it would take us at least another two or three hours to reach even the outskirts of Heidelberg.
“Capt. Banon, hand me that map. Sgt. Gabbiani, hand me your lighter.” The captain orders while unfolding the map. “You see, we are about 25 km from our destination in Heidelberg. I figured we use the low elevation areas of the forest to our advantage. If we're too high, then their recon planes will spot us, and then we're screwed.”
“He's right guys. We need to stay low. Hopefully we can move quickly enough through the forests that the Germans won't be able to pick up our trail and find us.” Edgar adds.
“Well it's settled then. We move in low and stay in the forest by all means.” Capt. Banon. “Keep close lads…let's move.”
The wind had a surprising calm, much like a lonely Figaro night, when you're walking down the streets all alone with no one to hold your hand. On a positive note, the wind also felt like a Mobliz summer sunset, where I'd sit on the wooden loveseat outside and cuddle with Celes for hours talking or kissing. Boy I missed those days like I missed home, a whole lot. It was very quiet after the plane crashed, which was surprising to say the least. We of course had to evade the commonplace German patrol about every twenty-five minutes. It was a steady ebb and flow of stop and go. The Germans were surprisingly not very efficient in their patrols, but I knew they have bigger things to worry about, like bombing raids.
About two and a half hours passed of this continuous hiding and running towards Heidelberg.
“What's the skinny with how far we are sir?” I ask.
“Just a sec corporal.” He opens the map. “We're about 10 km from the outskirts of the city.”
“Sir, do ya think that German fella might have seen the plane?” Gau asks.
“Well specialist, I think everyone, Nazis and German contacts both, saw that flaming ball in the sky called our glider. But you're right…I'm definite everyone saw it. I just hope the contact knows we're alive.”
“I wonder…maybe this German contact is of the female type eh guys?” Edgar winks to us. Sabin chuckles while Setzer just shakes his head. “What? The Free French had ladies in their ranks, so why not the Germans?”
“Edgar…you're too much sometimes.” I say.
“Hey…I got a thing for European women. They're more…exotic 'rowr!'” He purrs like a cat. I'm nearly about to fall over laughing if it wasn't for the stern eyeballing of the captain.
“Hate to break up your comedy session lieutenant, but unless you wanna have the Germans laugh in on your conversation, I suggest being quiet.”
A large grinding noise came from the distance, startling us all.
“Please God…if you're up there…please don't let that be a Tiger!” I pray.
“Hold up men, we might have company again. Get down and stay down!” Capt. Banon barks.
Hugging the ground as hard as we could, we scrambled to find cover.
“Cole, go and check it out!” Capt. Clyde orders.
“Me? Are you insane? I'm not getting my head blown off!”
“Do it now or I'll throw you to the Germans myself!”
Mumbling to myself some real nasty things about the captain, I high crawl myself up to a rock jutting out of the ground. Even with my scope I wasn't able to pick up anything really visible. For God's sake I had to rely on the moonlight of all things to help me out. I nervously twitch my rifle around, trying to get a bead on the Germans, but to no avail. The grinding sounds fade more and more.
“Thank you God…no tanks.” I whisper.
Lately more and more I've found myself becoming one with the big guy. I don't know if it's because he gave me so much, especially Celes and friends like Sabin, Terra, Duane, and Katarin, and I don't want to fail them, or it's because I think I have some special relation with him personally. It seems like no matter what happens, where I go, or what I do, I always have some issue to tackle. I mean scratch the several years I had blossoming my family with Celes, but I always seem perturbed by the world around me, preferring to retreat into my family and wife. Being away from them for so long really got me thinking, thinking about what peace of mind I had to find here. Everyone had something to find, to quest, to search for. Maybe my quest was to muster the strength to survive this brutal war and become the hero once more to my family. However, I had no reason to prove my heroism to my family, especially to Celes, who already knew I was her hero. Something must be missing, and maybe this war will help me find it.
There's a problem with thinking so much while doing something else. It really, really distracts you. I collect my senses, and crawl back to the rest of the squad.
“Hey fellas…it's all good. The tanks just left, so we can probably move out now right?”
“Come on men, let's get up.” The minute the captain said that, there was commotion only thirty feet away.
“Oh crap!” Gau says. “German patrols!”
We hit the ground again, hiding as best as we can. I managed to raise my head for a quick second, and see a pair of Waffen-SS scouts. I know we could outnumber them, but we're not here to pick a fight. We just need to reach Heidelberg.
“Guys…just stay completely still and they won't notice!” I whisper to whomever I can.
Closer and closer the patrol sentries step. I can feel their steps on the ground. My heart trembles faster and faster, to the point where a heart attack was real certain. I tilt my head to the side while under a dead limb of a tree. My eyes close so it looks like I'm dead. I then feel something very menacing right next to my face. I open my eyes and they widen automatically to see the sentry's jackboot right next to my face.
“Oh Jesus…oh God…” I thought to myself. “Don't let him see me.”
All of a sudden a sneeze came from where Sabin and Edgar were. Oh no! One of them just gave us away accidentally.
“Was war das?” One of the Germans exclaims. The boot next to me disappears as they both run over to Sabin and Edgar. They spotted them…crap.
“Amerikaner! Erhalten Sie Ihre Hände oben jetzt!” They point their guns at them. I saw the look in Sabin's eye, squinting like he's ready to get shot, like his whole existence was about to be cut like a loose wire. All I heard then was two hard thwacks and two bodies hitting the ground. I raise my head up slowly and see a mysterious figure in black with a rifle in its hands. A calm but stern voice comes out of the mouth.
“You Americans have to be more careful! The SS patrols are everywhere!”
This must be the German contact. I'm surprised it was a woman, but then again, I've seen plenty of action heroines in my day i.e. Celes and Terra. Looks like Edgar got his wish. She wore an all black ensemble including a black skull cap and black mask covering her face. Judging by her eyes, she was relatively young, and probably pretty to boot. She takes off her cap and mask, revealing a beautiful Germanic complexion of a robust face, brown hair, hazel eyes if you look close enough, and delicate skin.
I notice Edgar in a trance as he turns to stare at this feisty vixen. Apparently he's going through female withdrawal and either he needs his fix, or he's found one incredible match in his mind.
“Hello? Edgar, are you with us?” Sabin snaps his fingers in front of his brother's face, but to no effect. I can only imagine what he's seeing right now. I'll bet it's either angel wings on the woman, maybe her on a shell like that Renaissance painting, that or some colorful aura surrounding her or something. All Edgar can do is mumble incoherently, causing me to smile from ear to ear.
“Ah…you must be the Kreisau contact. What's your name again?” Capt. Clyde asks.
“I am Erika Krohn. I am an agent of the Kreisau Circle here to rendezvous with you. You are the commandos heading for Narshe ja?” She asks.
“We are indeed little lady. I was wondering maybe you could help us?”
“I've been ordered to do so and I shall. And you are?” She asks again.
Edgar rises to his feet without hesitation. “I am Lt. Edgar Roni Figaro, and you are quite the lovely young lady. I am thankful for your actions!” He kisses her hand formally while she looks at him with some surprise.
“I see you were raised a noble gentleman Herr Figaro.”
“Not really, but I am the governor of my city, so if that's considered aristocratic, then by all means yes.”
“Impressive indeed. Most Americans I hear about are usually so crude, reckless, and…informal.”
Sabin and I look at each other. Sabin winks to me and I get the message loud and clear. I think a certain someone has a first sight crush on another someone. Whether it was this German dame who liked him first or vice versa was yet to be determined.
“Well I hate to break up the box social, but I believe we have to get to Heidelberg right Frau Krohn?” MSG Bixby interrupts.
“He is right my orders were to escort you to Heidelberg to stowaway in a cargo train to Narshe. Quickly! We have to reach the town before the sentries wake up.”
“Right, let's get a move on men!” Edgar says like he has some life in him again. Maybe this woman will be a good and interesting development for the young governor.
“Heidelberg is about 7 kilometers from this location. I can show you a route through the forests that the Nazis rarely patrol.” Erika suggests.
“Good idea Erika. You take point.” Capt. Clyde responds.
Finally running into our contact, we were able to cut this bullshit of hide and go seek. I was rather surprised that despite all of the commotion we made, the Germans weren't forming an army just to find us. Then again, the boys on the frontline gave them plenty to worry about.
“What exactly is the plan Miss Erika? I mean, when we reach Heidelberg, how exactly are we to stowaway on one of their armored cars?” Setzer asks.
“You are to make contact with the resistance radio so they can make arrangements for you to board the armored train. There are several Kreisau members working in the Heidelberg Station, so they can give you safe passage when you're inside. The funny thing is that…supposedly I am receiving orders to assist you in this mission as well.”
“Well I say it's for the better my lady! We need someone who can fully understand the Germans and have a good knowledge of the surroundings.” Edgar's eyes light up like a Christmas tree.
“You thinkin' what I'm thinkin' Locke?” Sabin asks me.
“Way ahead of ya. Hey Duane…notice something with Edgar?”
“If you're talking about his 'all-of-a-sudden' pep step, I think I know why.” Duane answers. “I just hope this isn't another massive flirtation attempt on his part. If he can pull his head outta his ass, maybe he'll snag this dame.”
“To be honest with you, I think this might something a little more, at least I think so!” I answer, even if it sounds too optimistic.
Edgar is kinda like a dog sometimes. Throw the dog a bone, and they'll go nuts. It's like the same thing with Edgar and ladies. He freaks whenever he sees one but unlike a dog tries to play it cool like the ladies have no effect on him. The guy is incredible with how many women he can pull, but hearing him before shows me that he does want more.
“One question my lady,” he asks, “do you even want to go with us on this mission?”
“Well…normally I wouldn't like suicide missions like this one for example. However, now that you mention it, this would allow me to find out exactly how you Americans get things done.”
“Well I certainly hope that I…I mean…we can impress you with our work.” Edgar stutters. Erika just looks at him with a bewildered look, causing him to sink his head embarrassingly. I notice from the side of her face a small humored smile and a light chuckle afterwards. Maybe this German broad likes him.
“You certainly have a sense of humor in you Herr Figaro. I haven't really smiled from much in a while.”
“Score one for Edgar.” Sabin whispers to me. I'd like to see where this goes as well.
Finally reaching Heidelberg, it looked as if the place was already surrounded by the Jerries, as if they were expecting us.
“What exactly do we do to get into the town itself Ms. Krohn?” Capt. Clyde asks.
“Follow me. We have to go under the bridge to the sewer systems. We'll have to wade through the river. I hope you men are prepared for that.”
“Sir…is my dynamite waterproof?” Duane asks the captain.
“Lucky for you they don't get waterlogged easily sergeant. Just move in and out of the water and you'll be fine.”
We reached the coast of the river. Heidelberg was just on the other side. Luckily the water was rather calm, so swimming through it wouldn't be a problem. Slowly and surely we walked right into the river and dived under. Our rucksacks bore some weight on us, but we were still able to swim without worry. I poke my head up to take a recon look at any German soldiers, but I found nothing. I saw searchlights on a guard tower though, so I quickly go down again. Finally, we reach the bridge and right under it laid the pathway into the sewer systems. We all got up from the water and quietly assembled on the stone platforms.
“Ok…this is the sewer entrance. We all have to be quiet, because the SS are right above us! I can show you the way to the secret HQ of the resistance, but we have to keep really close intervals as well.” Erika opens the door, leading us into the sewers of Heidelberg.
“Man…smells like the farm I was on when I was a little kid.” Gau comments.
“No kidding Gau.” Setzer adds.
“Just get in there!” I yell before the searchlight shines on the bridge.
I was damp, dark, and unbelievably tight, but if it was safe passage, then it was fine by me. It wasn't the smell, the murkiness, or the risk of disease I was afraid of. It's running into patrols and getting my head blown off that I'm afraid of.
“This way…we're right under the main roads Heidelberg.” Erika points the way.
“This sneakin' around isn't all that bad. Hell it takes me back to the old days.” I mutter smugly.
“When you were a thief Cole?” Capt. Clyde retorts.
“That's trea…” I take a deep breath realizing what I was about to do, “please not now sir.” I cut myself short before yelling once again, giving us away like I did in Thamasa.
“Finally. We're here.”
Erika knocks on the steel manhole while conversing afterwards with a guard outside. The manhole opens and quickly we get ourselves out and into the cellar of an apartment building before the SS could spot us.
“Guten abend Frau Krohn!” The resistance officer greets her.
“Guten abend mein Herr. Diese sind die Kommandos, die Sie ungefähr erklärt wurden!” She responds.
“What?” I ask aloud.
“She's just introducing us Locke…it's ok.” Duane answers me.
“So…you are the Americans and British sent to help us? I'm impressed by how well prepared you look. I admire you all on your courage to stop the insanity of those awful weapons.”
“Why thank you Herr…?” Capt. Banon replies.
“Prinz. I am Major Prinz, a former Wehrmacht officer. After realizing the incompetence of Hitler and his brutal inhumanity, I could no longer serve such an awful man. That's why I joined the Kreisau Circle here. We Kreisau are former intellectuals, soldiers, officers, and aristocrats that rebelled against Hitler and his tyranny. Unfortunately, we are too small to do anything significant, but you Allies are the key to saving the Fatherland from his plague.”
“Well that was a mouthful.” Setzer jibes silently. “Thanks for the compliments pal.”
“You're welcome.” Major Prinz responds, not even detecting Setzer's sarcasm. Edgar nudges Setzer angrily, while all Setzer can do is shrug his shoulders, like he doesn't even know he was being a dick.
“Ok Major…now how exactly can you smuggle us aboard the armored cars? They'll have that thing armed to the teeth.” MSG Bixby asks.
“As the lovely Erika I hope has already explained to you gentlemen, we have several members working in the station, unbeknownst to the soldiers and officers there. We can board you inside the weapons boxes, and when you reach your destination, you're on your own from there. I will have Frau Krohn accompany you on your mission.”
I notice Edgar's eyes light up again, but this time he remains silent, as if we didn't already figure it out.
“Are you quite sure I have to go with them Major? I really don't know how to work with Americans and I could compromise things!” Erika tries to coax the major into not sending her for the ride, which makes 'Capt. Obvious' Edgar starts to look nervous.
“Nonsense Erika! They could use an interpreter.”
“Well sir…I can speak rather good…” Edgar muffles Duane before he could finish his sentence.
“He meant he can read German really well, but not speak it. He's an engineer, so reading is more important to him anyway right guys?” He looks around for approval. I just nod out of sympathy for Edgar.
“Ok…then it's settled. Erika, you are to join them on the mission to Narshe and end the Nazis' production of the Vengeance Rockets.”
“No buts! You have been given an order and you must obey it!” The major snaps back.
“Yes…Herr Major.” She answers…rather upset. However, I notice she gives Edgar alone a rather suggestive wink. This broad is an absolute tease for Edgar…and I think he's eating it up. It's like she doesn't wanna go, and usually shrugs off Edgar's advances, or she totally digs every attempt he makes. I'm already starting to see the similarities…almost sickening it is. It drives Edgar nuts, but I think he really likes it on the inside. I hate to quote my wife like this, but maybe they're like two peas in a pod.
“I already know how we are going to get in the train, but some things still linger in my mind Major. First of all, how are we going to reach the station? Second, how on Earth do we sneak out of the armored train?” Capt. Banon asks.
“Well Captain, lucky for you there is another sewer system that can link us to the train station, so just follow Frau Krohn again, and you'll get there safe and sound. As for getting out of the train, I'm afraid that's for you to decide.”
“Yes of course…”
“Good luck to you all. Help this accursed war end!” The Major sends us all back to the sewers again, back to the smells and murkiness. La dee friggin' da.
“Well it looks like I'm in for the ride as well eh gentlemen?” The woman commando gently asks. “Follow me…I do know the way to the train station. We must hurry though.”
“Why is that Miss Erika?” Gau asks.
“Because we've heard reports that the Allies are going to bomb Heidelberg soon!”
“But there are innocent people in the town! They're gonna get killed!” I protest. Why on Earth would the Allies make a bombing run all the way here? I hope they at the least hit only military targets.
“Don't worry Herr Cole. Some of our members have already warned many of the sympathetic citizens of the bombing. Hopefully they will shelter themselves.”
“I certainly hope so…” I reply.
It takes us another fifteen minutes of walking through the sewers to finally get to the inside of the train station. With a few knocks, Erika signals an employee from the station to open the manhole.
“Is the coast clear?” Capt. Clyde asks.
“Ja. It is safe, let's hurry!” One by one we climb out of the dingy sewers into the cargo bays of the train station.
“Quickly Americans…I'll get you to the supply storage!” The employee rushes us along to the supply boxes, where the weapons have been taken out.
“Come on men…and woman,” Capt. Banon says, “let's get in quickly!”
We all squeeze ourselves into the boxes. Edgar as always attempts to squeeze himself in with Erika, but she blows him off real quick. “I'm sorry Edgar, but I don't think the both of us can fit. Excuse me…young medic, maybe you can?” She asks Gau and he manages to fit himself in with Erika, frustrating Edgar on the inside. My God this is an absolute tease for Edgar. Either she wants him or not, and it drives him nuts to try and find out.
“There's not much time commandos! The Nazis will come by really soon!” Erika tries to get us moving.
A few minutes later, like Erika predicted, two guards come by to talk to the station employee. The employee would probably come up with the same old story that he already boxed up the weapons and will send them to the train himself.
“What're they saying Duane?” I ask as he huddled next to me.
“I think they're buying it.”
“Thank God. This is one helluva harebrained scheme they've cooked up!”
Luckily for us, the German soldiers did buy it otherwise we would all buy the farm. The worker called a few more friends over to load us into the train. It wasn't the smoothest of rides, and I banged my head real good in the box.
“Please…keep it down in there Americans!” The worker asks politely.
“Well if you were more careful…” I mutter under my breath.
I looked through a crack in the box and saw the armored train that would take us to Narshe. No army in their right mind would attack this thing unless they had some serious firepower to take it down. It was smothered with MG42s and cannons, like a mobile fortress. The train whistles loudly, signaling that it's ready to go. Time was of the essence as they quickly boarded us in the second to last car. It looks like they fell for it…for now. I could only imagine how we're gonna get the hell off this train. The conductor screams some gibberish, while the car doors closed, sealing us in for the long trip to Narshe.
We're off, off to the hidden base, and whether this will be a one-way or a return trip, I hadn't the slightest. I certainly prayed for the latter. There's something about suicide missions that unsettles me. I think the word “suicide” in suicide missions might is what does it to me. I could be wrong though, could I? Yeah right…I've always been a realist in these types of scenarios. It's good old lady luck that pulls the surreal shit with me, like surviving Thamasa for example. It was about two to three more hours to Narshe, so I wonder how I could make the time worthwhile. It appeared as if there was no guard in sight on this car, so it'd be safe to talk.
“Hey Duane, got any names for that kid that Katarin's gonna bear?”
“Jeez Locke, I didn't think about that. Thanks for reminding me. I was leaning to a somewhat common name like Eric or Timothy if it's a boy, or Jennifer or Susan if it's a girl, but now that you mention it, I gotta think of a more unique name.”
“That I can't help ya with pal. How about Theresa or Faith?” I suggest.
“Not bad. I like those names provided it's a girl. If it's a boy I was thinking Roland. Whaddaya think?”
“Like that French knight?”
“Hmmmm…I like it actually. It sounds like a courageous name.”
“If it is a girl I was thinking maybe…how about…oh hell there's so many names! How about Rebecca as a name?”
“I like that too. Both Roland and Rebecca would go well with your last name.”
“That is true my friend.”
“Jeez…this is certainly great small talk huh?”
“Well…there's no sense in fretting over this mission Locke. The only thing we have to make sure of is that we get outta there in one piece. Believe me, constant worrying will get you nowhere. I was afraid and always thinking too much everyday I left Katarin. But then I thought to myself, because I've survived all sorts of peril and danger, from Kefka to this, I wasn't meant to die in this war.”
“That's certainly an interesting way of looking at it Duane. It's somewhat similar to me, but Locke Cole always has issues. This time it's just finding peace from all this and going back to my family.”
“Don't sweat it Locke. We'll pull through, as always, even if can no longer walk…we'll live. It's as Setzer says, 'Lady Luck is always on our side, that's why we never die!'”
“Luck…it's something I haven't embraced too much, considering how I've lost so much and even the good things that have happened. Celes was no incident of luck, and neither was running into Terra and the rest of you guys. Sorry to sound like a broken record, but Celes was the epitome of the positive in my life. There's no friggin' way you could call that love I formed with her a matter of luck. Call me foolish, but I've been thinking that maybe there is something that's guiding my life through all this…to learn what it's like to live a full life. This war may just be one of the final chapters of a grand experience, kinda like one of those fantasy epics or something. After that, it's probably easy living from there on in.”
“Wow…ya talk about your classic head trip! Now you got me thinking too.”
“Sorry about that…”
“Maybe fate did put us all together Locke. Maybe you're right. If it's worth anything to ya, if I was given the opportunity to change who I did this mission with, I wouldn't replace anyone here for a second, especially you Locke.”
“Well thanks Duane. You've certainly grown into quite the man after all these years.”
“Some things like dealing with Mobliz, marrying Katarin, and fighting Kefka can do that to ya.”
“Amen to that Duane…amen to that. Listen, we should get a little shut-eye. According to the captain we should be in Narshe in another two hours.”
Gently shutting my eyes, the rocking of the train doesn't seem to bother me. My little heartfelt conversation with Duane kinda put me at ease for a little while. I dream the same things I always want to dream about. When they weren't nightmares, they were dreams of escape from this accursed war. My morale slipped through every passing event, and I know this mission might kill what's left of it. It's the Mobliz summer and a gentle breeze flows through the window. Wind chimes clang softly outside as I walk out to the porch, the same rickety porch I built with my own two hands. Outside I take a huge whiff of the fresh air, free from the city, free from all sorts of impurities. Suddenly two svelte arms wrap around me.
“Whatcha starin' off into honeybunch?” The same angelic voice I've adored for years asks me.
“Nothin'. I should be staring at you though Snowflake…” I reply lamely.
“You're too much Locke. Come, the rest are waiting for us in the town greens.”
I walk down to the town center, where Duane, Katarin, Sabin, Terra, Gau, Relm, Setzer, and Edgar are all waiting for us. There are absolutely no kids in sight, which was odd. There was a huge quilt laid out so that we could all sit, lie down, and talk on.
“Well look who finally decided to join the party!” Sabin yells.
“Don't mind him tiger…he's just a little anxious about the get-together.” Terra explains to me.
“Yeah…Sabin gets in a hissy fit whenever he gets impatient. Don't mind him.” Edgar adds to Terra's comments.
“Glad you could join us Locke…me and my Relm here were lookin' forward ta seein' ya!” Gau speaks up.
“My my, aren't you the dapper one since last I saw you Mr. Cole!” Relm exclaims. She's still got that lip I remember from those years ago.
“Hey Locke! How's it going? Haven't seen you at the bar in a while!” Setzer says.
“With all due respect, I'm glad to see you're all here, but I'm curious…what brings you all here.”
I felt Celes's hand caressing my neck to my ear. I cringe because it felt so good.
“Locke sweetie…we're all here because of you.” She answers.
“Something has been troubling you greatly Locke.” Relm says.
“She's right feller, since I've been fightin' with you, you've been in pain.” Gau joins in.
“It's this war Locke…it's affecting you. You've become so…disheartened.” Terra says.
“What?” I'm shocked by this claim.
“It's true buddy…I've never seen you so depressed in your life.” Duane cuts in on the conversation.
“You fight courageously, but it's like you want to die and get this awful conflict over with sometimes.” Setzer adds.
“I don't understand. I'm not miserable…and I don't wanna die!” I retort sharply.
“Calm down pal! We're just trying to help!” Sabin says, though he was in his quasi-fit before.
“Locke, you have a heart of gold, and the strength of ten men, but this war wears you down piece by piece. You mustn't let that happen.” Terra says again.
“Honey…I love you more than anyone else combined. You're the whole reason why I can continue to live. You can't let your attitudes cause your downfall. The good Lord blessed us both with each other. God wants you to press on and fight.”
“He has good intentions with you Locke.” Edgar says.
“You're too kind of a person to die alone. You're special to all of us, especially to your dear Celes. God wouldn't just throw away a great man like you Locke.” Katarin says.
“Locke…we're all here for you. Believe in yourself and in us!” Terra says.
I was aghast by all of this. It was like the peanut gallery, only it actually tried to help me.
“Locke…please…just get through this last mission. Put your faith in yourself and all of us. He wants you to and I want you to as well. I love you Locke…I'll be waiting every day for your return.”
“Celes…I love you.”
Then we bend forward and kiss, regardless of everyone else around.
“Come back to me Locke…I'll be there for you…always…come back to me.” She whispers gently in my ear.
“I'll be there for you Celes…always…and I will come back…I promised to you that I will!” I answer as we kiss again.
Suddenly a loud voice interrupts.
“Cole! Cpl. Cole get up!”
“Wha…who…huh?” I woke up from my dream. It was the captain staring me in the face.
“Come on Cole…we're in the base now. They still don't know it's us and they moved the boxes in the storage garages. We have to move now!”
Of all the dreams…that was one of the most touching ones. It looks like I've found my personal revelation, my missing link that will reunite me with Celes and my family mentally, and that's through God. I know it sounds corny, but maybe the big guy did have plans for me to live a long, fruitful life. Casting my doubts aside, I managed to muster up some courage to face the last mission, I hope, forever. I will succeed in this mission, and I know Celes is there for me, and always will be.
“This way gentlemen…the rocket silos should be close by!” Erika signals to us.
And so we sneak off…to shut down a terrible weapon of evil, for the forces of good. God was with us on this one. Also looking at our new German friend Erika…I knew in my heart that we would all go back, for leading the front was the woman in black.
Part 11: A Hidden Agenda
Like the days with my escapade in the Vector refinery, this base is filled with clacks, clangs, and all sorts of heavy industry moving about. This time though, I was in completely new territory, and it wasn't a bunch of idiot Gestahl cronies I had to deal with. The German elite aren't anything to mess around with. We were a big group, but I think we could handle the mission despite an occasional lack of stealth.
“Where on Earth are these bloody silos?” Capt. Banon asks.
“The hell if I know Banon.” Capt. Clyde retorts.
“Please sir, keep it down or the mission will be compromised.” Edgar cuts in.
“You Americans are too noisy. We have to maintain silence or else the SS patrols will see us!”
“Cole…you're the most quiet one here, you take point.”
“Again? But I don't…
“NOW!” Capt. Clyde whispers angrily.
So it looks like it's going to be me leading the pack…again…as always.
“Duane…can you follow behind me? If I run into any German directions…I need a translator. Erika would probably need some help.”
“Sure…” Duane shuffles over to me.
“Let's move out now. Is everyone set? Check your weapons and check your flanks!”
Everyone primes their weapons, from Capt. Banon to Erika to Sabin to Gau. This was it…our final mission. If everything went smooth then we could all go home once and for all. We were promised that by the brass themselves. I remember the captain and the British fellows talking about that to us. The thought of going home made my mouth water with excitement, but I couldn't let that interfere with my duties right now. We had to get to these Vengeance rockets, blow them the hell up, dig up info on this Ho-IX plane, and high tail it outta there post haste, and everything becomes hunky dory again. I notice some painted directions in the base.
“Hey Duane…what's that day?”
“It says…fuel silos to the left, rocket silos are in the basement, and observation booth to the right.”
“What the plan sir?” Sabin asks.
“Ok…what we need to do is set up demo charges in both the fuel dumps to ruin their chances of any flight missions, and then hit any rockets able to be launched. Maybe they'll have a Panzerschreck or two nearby to help us take them out.
“Finally…some action.” Sabin says excited.
“Should we split into teams to make this mission a little more expedient?” MSG Bixby suggests.
“A wise idea,” Capt. Clyde answers. “Count on a Brit to come up with the more clever stuff.”
“I say one of us takes some men to destroy the fuel dumps, while the other team goes after the rockets, and then we rendezvous back in the storage area. Sound like a sound plan captain?” Capt. Banon suggests as well.
“I like that. Ok…here's how it's gonna go down. Cpl. Figaro, Specialist McGavin…”
“Whoa whoa whoa…you mean to tell me you had a last name after all this time Gau?” I ask rather astonished.
“Well…no one ever asked. Besides…I just like Gau anyway.” He responds, rather ashamed for some reason.
“I like your last name Gau…don't feel too bad. It's better than mine.” Duane assures him.
“Can I be charge here?” The captain cuts us short. “Thank you. Anyway, Cpl. Figaro, Specialist…Gau, Sgt. Gabianni, Capt. Banon, and MSG Bixby will go destroy the fuel dumps. It shouldn't be too hard considering how flammable the fuel is. I will go with Lt. Figaro, Sgt. Robillard, Miss Krohn, and Cpl. Cole to the rocket silos. Like Capt. Banon said, we'll rendezvous back in the storage facility, and then…we'll have to find an exit strategy.”
“If we can find a communications room, then maybe we can contact Allied HQ to send planes over!” Setzer suggests.
“I like your style sergeant. I'll see you get promoted after this!” The captain nearly smiled on that one. There's a big emphasis on the word “nearly.”
“All right then…it's settled. We have to split and move now. Unfortunately we'll have no contact with each other, but I can only be confident that both teams will accomplish their objectives.”
“I'll see you soon guys. Good luck!” I said while the other team scrambled to their immediate left to the fuel dumps, while we had to find an elevator…or something.
“Well we're on our own now.” Duane said.
“Let's keep close then…I'll stay by Miss Krohn!” Edgar “volunteers,” making Erika chuckle silently.
“Even in situations like this, you're a piece of work Herr Figaro.”
“Call me Edgar…please.”
“Ok…Edgar it is then.”
I chuckle a little bit, laughing at the absolute obsession Edgar has with this dame.
“What?” He asks defensively.
“Nothing…nothing at all 'Herr Figaro!'” I mock.
“You're just jealous corporal.” Erika jibes, which surprised me. Maybe these two were a match made in heaven; I mean they had the same bi-polar attitudes in any situation.
“Now's not the time to play lovers people!” Capt. Clyde has to break up the socializing again.
“He's right…let's move.” Erika says, immediately dropping her amorous act, nearly leaving Edgar in the dust until he caught up to her in formation. That's her in her “tease” mode again.
I'm surprised there weren't as many guards inside the base as they were outside. Maybe they were freaked out from the threat of bombing raids. When I looked through the box cracks outside, I could see a bunch of flak guns and Flakpanzers. I certainly made me scared if we ever attempt to flee the case via stolen airplane. Occasionally we would have to hide one by one to get past several patrolling sentries.
“We need a better way to get past all this!” I complain to the group.
“I think I agree on Cpl. Cole on this one…maybe there are guard quarters nearby.” The captain is finally agreeing with me? Talk about stunning new developments!
“Hopefully they'll have some uniforms for us to 'borrow.'” Duane says.
“What about me though…rarely are females allowed on base!” Erika complains.
“Never fear milady, we'll find a way to get you through. I'll make sure of that!” Edgar answers with an assuring wink.
“Whatever…let's find the guard quarters now. Sgt. Robillard, Miss Krohn, take point with Cpl. Cole. We'll need to find a map that tells us where we could find any potential uniforms.”
“I got a hunch that the guard quarters would be in the basement levels too, so basically we can kill two birds with one stone if they're both down there.”
“He actually makes sense people…let's just go down anyway, German disguises or no German disguises.” Holy crap…this is the second time he's agreed with me. Is he going through some epiphany or something?
Rushing downstairs to the basement, we ran across another mess of hallways, with more painted German gibberish on the walls.
“Duane, Erika…do your magic.” I say.
“Ok…lemme see, the paint's a little scratched, and they're symbols too along with the lettering.” Duane explains.
I hear footsteps of the conversing sentries drawing closer and closer.
“For the love of God hurry!” I'm pleading, trying to rush the both of them.
“Get down!” Edgar says as we cower behind some supply boxes while the SS patrolmen just saunter by, like they don't have a care in the world. Fortunately they didn't see us behind the boxes.
“That was close people…let's get going faster. Lucky moments like that won't come very often.” It takes only the captain to motivate us to work just that little bit faster, mostly from the fear that he wouldn't have any qualms killing us if we hold him up. What a big bag of sunshine that Capt. Clyde is.
“Ok…we got. There are several guard quarters in level B2, close to the elevator, which is a good thing for us.” Erika says.
“The elevator shaft is just around the corner, let's go.” Edgar says.
One by one, we sneak into the elevator, making sure no one follows us or needs to take it with us as some “friendly company.”
“Level B2 here we come.” I say aloud.
Taking about ten seconds, I was impressed with the speed of these elevators. An elevator in Figaro or Vector would usually take about fifteen minutes just to reach up or down two floors. Unfortunately it wasn't the quietest of methods, as I believe we just startled a German guarding the elevator.
“Was ist los?” The guard spins around to see the matter. Before he could freak and scream about intruders, Erika lays him out with a sucker punch to the gut and then a knockout punch to the jaw. She's certainly an ass kicker like some lovely dames back home.
“My kind of woman!” Edgar exclaims, making Erika smile for a short second. Everything was good so far, with only one KO'd guard, and we still have the elements of stealth and surprise. I can only hope that the other group is doing as well as us.
“Ok…the guard quarters should be just around the corner…” Duane peeks his head around the corner but jerks it right back with a rather terrified look on his face. “Oh boy…oh jeez…we've either got some serious waiting to do…or we need some plan.”
“What's the problem Duane?” Edgar asks.
“Well…it looks like we're no longer on Easy Street, because we have three guards right by the doors.”
“Let me try something.” Erika suggests. “Hide here, when I give the signal, ambush them.” She walks over to the guards. “Guten tag, grosse Jungen! Sie wundern vermutlich, sich eine welche reizende Dame wie ich hier...” She says to them, trying to draw them near.
“She's seducing them…this is funny.” Duane explains to us.
“Oohhh hallo kleine Dame. Würden Sie einige "Qualitätszeit" mit uns verbringen wollen?” One of the guards asks her. Apparently they're buying it, which just sets them up for a good ole fashioned beating. They walk over, unsuspecting of anything. For such an efficient army, the Germans certainly have their fair share of clods. Erika leads them on with her hand beckoning for them. When they were in range, it was the time to strike.
“Let them have it!” She yells.
“Was?” One of the guards yells while we rise up from the boxes. We caught them with their pants down, and it was no effort saying good night to them. Unfortunately, I did not count on anyone hearing the scuffle.
“Amerikanische Eindringlinge! Warnung! Warnung!” Another Nazi guard from the right side of the hall screams, despite how close he is to us. In a flash, before he could hit the alarm button, sparks emit from the alarm button as a knife cuts right though the middle of the device. Without thinking, I quickly rifle butt the surprised guard. At least that's one extra uniform we can use. I turn around and see the captain with his arm extended, like he just threw that knife a split second ago.
“That was you sir?” I ask.
“Yeah. Let's just saw I excelled in knife throwing and other 'projectile' weaponry in my younger years.” He mutters as he pulls his combat knife out of the broken alarm and sheaths it again. His knife looked awfully familiar, like I've sent that somewhere, either in a picture or something. Now wasn't the time to recollect thoughts and memories. We had to take these uniforms and hide the KO'd guards.
“Quickly! In here…they'll never suspect it.” Edgar says as he points to the maintenance room, full of boxes, mops, and all sorts of cleaning equipment.
We drag the men into the maintenance closet and quickly take their uniforms. Once again, mine was a big of a tight fit, but the price was right. It reminded me of when I took that dead goon's outfit during that rescue of baby Hope. I also grabbed an MP40 while slinging the Springfield over my shoulder. As long as the Jerries didn't see me with an American weapon in my hands, I would probably be in the clear.
“Ok…sergeant, we'll need you on point now. You're the only male here that can speak a remotely good amount of German.” The captain instructs Duane.
“Hey sir, look,” Duane says as he points to his own lapels and insignia, “looks like I outrank you!”
He was right, he had on a Feldwebel, or Staff Sergeant rank on, while the captain had on an Unteroffizier, or Corporal, rank on. I smiled at the fact that the captain could maybe and finally act a little humbled, but knowing the captain, he wouldn't take that lightly.
“Savor the moment now sergeant, because know that you'll never outrank me in real life!” The captain seemed awfully aggressive with that little jibe Duane had, killing the mood. “Come on, we've still got to destroy these silos! We need to gain access to the silo stations and maybe sneak into the communications room.”
Slinking along, past the guard quarters, I was still amazed as to how the entire German battalion didn't pick up on that noise with the scuffle we made with the guards. Lurking around the base for another fifteen minutes, curious thoughts lingered in my head as to how well the other team is doing. I pray they could actually find the fuel dumps, which would be doing better than my team in this steel and concrete labyrinth. There was a door open in the hallway, and I couldn't help but take a peek, but the captain yanks me back.
“Not a wise idea Cole. There could be guards there up to our necks!”
“Hey people, I think I've found where the Comm. Room is. The map says that there's a communications radio inside the control tower for the rocket launches. Maybe one of us can sneak in there and quickly contact Allied HQ via Morse code.” Duane suggests, lighting up the captain's face full of ideas.
All eyes stare directly at me.
“What? Oh no…you don't expect me to do this covert shit all the time for you do you?”
The eyes continue to stare at me.
“Cole…you're the thief, so you're the sneakiest.”
“For the last damn time…that's treasure hunter!!!” I angrily whisper. “Ok sir, you wanna make this interesting? If I can get this message through, and not get caught, you can no longer call me a thief and will refer to me as a professional treasure hunter. Does that sound fair?”
“You've got yourself a deal Cole…now get your ass over there! We'll be waiting for you near the observation booth.”
How on God's green Earth do I get myself into these situations? Oh yeah…I don't. It's the matters of circumstances that get me in these ungodly messes. I gently went down the stairs, making sure there wasn't a rifleman waiting to paste me the minute I popped my head around the corner. I saw a sentry sauntering with his back turned to me. I figure I could sneak over to the door, quietly open the door, and take care of any person inside, and everything would be peachy keen. Walking silently but efficiently, I managed to reach the door at the guard turned the corner and walked off. I peer into the keyhole but see nothing, so I bite my tongue and prepare for what was inside. Grabbing the knob, I gently turn it and open the door inch by inch and creep inside. The lone guard was looking outside the window, but I was afraid if I attacked him that close to the glass, someone would see. I then thought of the little German my pal Klaus from D-Day helped me learn.
“Zigarette mein freund?” I ask, trying to Germanize my voice to the best of my ability.
“Ja. Ich habe ein zigarette. Ein sekunde bitte...” He responds as he approaches me, handing me a cigarette. Now was the moment of truth for me, and I might have learned something. Never make serious promises when they could get you out of some serious trouble. I had to think fast as I put the cigarette in my mouth, trying to get the drop on this guard, and still not smoking the cigarette, breaking one of my promises to Celes. I make a hand gesture asking if he had a lighter. He leans over to me for a second as he reaches for his lighter. Again without thinking I go with my gut and slug him across the face while his face was turned to begin with. He just shakes his head in astonishment. Amazed that he could take that, I slug him three more times. Still in a trance, the German just looks at me. Then his eyes roll up and he falls flat on the ground.
“You're pretty tough buddy…” I say while shaking my right hand. I smile with a certain satisfaction that I was able to accomplish both feats. “Sometimes I amaze even myself with my cleverness.”
Unfortunately I knew that sooner or later if I dilly dallied, I'd be spotted. I hid the guard under the control, though I had a hard time fitting him in. I managed to find the radio with a telegraph machine. Quickly, tap after tap, I sent the most express message I could, giving the Allied HQ my status and location. I could only pray that no one saw me, and that we get bomber help soon, when we get out. I quickly scuttle out, not even looking around to check for that guard from before, but I was lucky he wasn't around. I hauled ass back to the rest of the team.
“Everything's taken care of from my end. I think I was able to send a detailed enough message to HQ.”
“Well done…treasure hunter.” The captain praises me on my action. For once, someone besides Celes or Terra has referred to me in that proper fashion. It put a big smile to my face for a really good reason, something that hasn't happened to me in a while.
“Well then…let's get to these silos and get this over with.” Erika says. We walk down the flight of stairs I previously journeyed on hopefully reaching a lower level of the silos so Duane could plant some charges on. Everything was going smooth, until we ran into an SS officer and his two escorts. Erika makes herself scarce as soon as possible.
“Genau wo Sind Sie Manngehen?” He asks. I had a hunch he was probably wondering what we were doing. Duane steps up to the plate trying to come up with a legit excuse.
“Wir sind gerechtes Gehen, die Rakete Silos zu patrouillieren. Ist der annehmbarer mein Herr?” He asks.
“Ja ja…mach schnell!” The lanky officer barks.
Phew! It looks like we barely got through that one. Unfortunately, I just realized something. How are we gonna get Erika through this? I turned around to notice the officer turning around sharply.
“Uh oh sir…I think we might have our cover blown.” Duane says.
“Was…?” The officer peers his head around the boxes to see Erika sitting there. Oh shit…we're busted. “Eine madchen? Es ist ein spion!” He screams.
Before the Germans could fix their guns on her, Edgar promptly shot them all.
“Are you safe milady?” He runs over and asks her, pulling her out of the boxes.
“Ja. Danke for saving me Herr Figaro, but now we're in serious trouble.” She couldn't have picked a better time to say that, as an alarm blared all throughout the base only a minute later, with a bunch of German commotion going on over the loudspeaker. We really, really had to move now, because now we're on the run from the entire base.
“This way!” I yell trying to evade all sorts of patrols, signaling the group to follow me down another hallway. We've been running around for more than five minutes dodging bullets and trading them at the same time. A lone German tried to stop me, but I quickly nailed him with a rifle butt, and he fell quickly.
“Great…I just pray they take us prisoner and not shoot us.” Edgar says.
“Now's not the time for wishes Edgar!” I yell back. “We have to find these silos quickly!”
“Here…take another left Locke!” Duane yells.
Running like hell, we ran down the corridor, ignoring the blaring alarm and pursuing German guards. It's just past this door! Thank God!
“Ok guys…the silo is just past this door! We need to get in each one and get out post haste!” The captain says.
The second I reach the door, I kick it down with all my might. There was only one particular problem to all this, and it wasn't that I just ran into what might be trouble. I did run into trouble, as two rows of Germans just lined their guns on all five of us. Duane tried turning around but saw several other guards right behind us. Fuck. We got caught.
“Amerikaner, lassen Sie Ihre Waffen fallen und setzen Sie Ihre Hände oben!” One of the SS sergeants screams out.
We had no choice but to surrender. If one of us fired a single shot, we'd all be Swiss cheese. Dropping our weapons one by one, we put our hands in the air. A distant clapping sound emerges as the alarms die off.
“Bravo…bravo Americans! I admire your stolidity and tact! It is somewhat like we Germans!” A man emerges from the shadows. He wore an all black uniform, jackboots and everything. His face had a scar on the side of his left eye, he was hideous he was. He was tall and nicely built for a man that looked like he was in his forties or fifties. His cap bore the “Death's Head” logo of the SS skull and crossbones. The men suddenly stood upright, almost afraid of him. “Oh I apologize, where are my manners? I am Oberst Todesritter. I am…how do you say in English, a Colonel. I run this Vengeance Rocket base here in Narshe. I am impressed to see that you got this far. Your friends fell into my trap much earlier.”
Crap…looks like they got busted a while ago.
“So that's why the alarm didn't sound earlier…” Capt. Clyde says.
“Indeed. You must be the commander behind all this ja?” Col. Todesritter looks him square in the eye. “What is your name?”
“None of your business…” The captain turns his head to the side.
“Ha ha ha! I love your American stubbornness. You're like the cowboy type huh Herr Captain?”
The captain just stood still, not saying a word.
“I see we have some other lovely guests too. What is your name young man?” He looks right into my eyes, piercing right through into my brain.
“Corporal…corporal…Locke Cole…” I stuttered. This man for some reason terrified me. He felt like Kefka, only German and had ten times the evil aura. This man could probably run rings around Kefka he looked so fearsome.
“Such a strong man Herr Cole…I see the strength in your eyes.” He then glances at my pant pocket where my picture of Celes was dangling out. He bent down to grab it from me, and all I could do was stand still, otherwise I'd be shot.
“Such a lovely woman Herr Cole…I like her beautiful blonde hair. You must love her very much right?” He asks, but I cannot respond. “Well…do you? She is your wife right?”
“Y…y…yes I do.” I was still terrified.
“I'm glad you do. I like a man with fidelity, especially to such a beautiful mädchen like your…” He flips the picture over, “Celes. I like the name.” I can't believe for such a frightening man, he was so amicable towards us. “Come! I have a lovely table waiting for you all. You are all hungry no doubt? Guards…escort the men, and woman, into the banquet hall.” He hands me back the picture and gives me a slap on the arm, as if the man has taken a shining to me. It's not exactly anything to gloat about.
“Schnell Amerikaner!” One of the riflemen pokes me with his gun as I shuffle along with the rest. The SS colonel certainly had some grace and civility, but these SS guards certainly don't, but the more sophisticated an evil man is, the more dangerous he is.
We're led by armed guards into a rather festive dining hall. This must be the colonel's private dinner table. I was certainly long to say the least. I've heard about this though, how the Germans treat prisoners. They play some serious mind games with you, pampering you with good food and shelter, while letting you know that they're your prisoner. Sometimes they would be very kind and converse with you, and sometimes you were scum to them. This I always thought would blow your mind more than just a regular POW treatment. I walk in and there I see, at gunpoint, the other five men in our little troop.
“Hey fellers…it looks like you were caught to huh?” Gau speaks up.
“Schliessen sie Amerikaner!” The SS trooper behind him barks, but with a wave from Col. Todesritter, he shut the trooper up.
“Let the men speak to each other before they eat.”
“Are you guys ok?” Edgar asks, noticing some cuts and bruises on Sabin. His state reminded me of that little play date with Vargas when I was captured by Kefka.
“I'm fine bro…it just took them a while to take me down. Some brute mechanic hit me in the back with a pipe wrench and I was down.”
“Sorry lads…there was nothing we could do.” Capt. Banon apologizes to us.
“Please gentlemen…sit and enjoy the food.” Col. Todesritter pleads. “It is custom for we German officers to offer honorable POWs some good food.”
“But you are SS, how is that honorable?” MSG Bixby rises up to say angrily. “Those Vengeance Rockets have murdered many civilians!”
“It is honorable because I serve the Fatherland to the best of my ability!” The SS officer retorts. “Is that not honorable…to serve effectively and efficiently?”
Duane, Sabin, Gau, and I kept quiet in all this. We knew anything we would say would get us in a world of shit, so we just shut up and ate our food. Ironically, it was actually delicious food…bread, sausage, cheese, and some good coffee.
Erika just sat there, sulking, while Edgar tries to comfort her but fails. Suddenly a door swings wide open, and there stands another German officer, Wehrmacht this time. Good…maybe there will be some sanity in this room now. That Col. Todesritter is, without a doubt, the SS version of Kefka, except more insane in an intellectual sense and not just purely insane.
“Ahhhh…Herr Leutnant! How good of you to join us!” The creepy colonel yells in excitement.
The man walking in looked relatively younger, like he was in his late twenties. He had a firm and determined look on his face as we walked over. I could tell that he was a decorated man. He also had the Afrika Korps insignia on his chest. This man served with Rommel! I'll be damned.
“Guten tag Herr Oberst!” The lieutenant greets his superior.
“Gentlemen, let me introduce one of the finest examples of German officers…Herr Leutnant Krohn!”
“What is this all about Herr Oberst?” The man asks.
“Well we found these intruders trying to stop our operations. We even found one of those wretched Kreisau members trying to help them!”
“Was?” The lieutenant peers over to the end of the table, throwing his head back at the sight of Erika. “ERIKA?” He bursts out surprised.
“Dietrich?” She responds. “Oh mein Gott, it is you!”
“Erika…you…you're part of the Kreisau?”
“Forgive me brother…I couldn't let them ravage Germany like that.”
“I don't believe it…you can't be one of those rebels!”
“They killed our parents Dietrich! The SS and SA killed them both for refusing to serve Hitler! How can you still be in the Wehrmacht and serve those monsters!”
“I…” The young man could not finish his sentence.
“Who is this woman Herr Leutnant?” The Death's Head colonel asks.
“She is…my little sister.”
“Oh ho! This…this is certainly quite a development!” The colonel rolls in laughter. “You two are siblings? That is too much! It will be a shame for you then Lt. Krohn!”
“Why do you say that?” The fire in the man's eyes begins to grow.
“Well...because they have tried to commit crimes against the Fatherland…I'm sorry but I'm afraid they'll have to be executed, and I want you to head the executions. I think it'll be splendid!”
“WHAT? I cannot kill my own sister!”
“Your duty to the Fatherland is greater than your puny family ties! You know, while we are all here…I think I should let you all in on a little secret before. You see…those V-2 rockets are good, but not good enough. I have decided to have a hidden agenda with my V-2 rockets and my jet technology. It wasn't until I received some info from an American gangster, a Karina, sister of the notorious Kefka, on how to construct a more terrifying weapon. She told me about the power of this 'Magicite' and immediately I had teams extract whatever Magicite I could find. Little did I know it was under my nose the whole time! See those statues in the center of the table Americans?”
“Yes.” Edgar answers. “They are impressively carved. They look like Espers.”
“Very astute observation American! They are indeed Espers, taken from the German Museums. They depict the Espers Odin and Alexander, one a Norse god and the other a famous conqueror. I was able to extract the Magicite out of them and have constructed bombs capable of massive destruction!”
“You monster! You'll destroy the world!” Sabin protests, but is restrained by the guards.
“Duane…what does Todesritter mean anyway?” I ask.
“It means…death knight.” He shakily answers.
This guy was the personification of fear in my eyes. Kefka never scared me, but this guy did…and that is really unnatural for me.
“Oh nein…not the world. However, I have under my command five Ho-IX bombers…the same ones you commandos were going after. You see…I plan to use these four jet bombers to drop…you'll love this…these bombs on five major Allied cities! Hitting Moscow and Paris should not be a problem, but you'll revel in the fact that I'll have them sent them sent to London…and then…your precious American cities of Vector and Figaro! It's deliciously evil! The civilian populace will now suffer the wrath of the Third Reich from afar! I call it Operation: Ragnarök, the end of your world and the beginning of a more beautiful world…the master race's world!” The old man cackles. My fears have finally been confirmed. I though Kefka was awful, but this guy is nutty like Kefka tenfold!
“You fiend…how could you destroy civilians and their homes!” Capt. Banon screams, restrained like Sabin by the guards. I learned that his parents were killed in the Battle of Britain only a few years ago.
“Your bombing runs on our cities are just as bad! You will all pay for the damage you did to the German people!”
“Herr Oberst…there is no honor in the destruction of innocent lives! Think this through.” Lt. Krohn tries to plead to his superior.
“I have already thought it through. There is honor in this, honor that I will serve the Fatherland so greatly by making its enemies suffer terribly!”
“Herr General Rommel would never approve of this!”
“Herr General Rommel is dead young leutnant! He was found guilty of treason to the Fatherland and to the führer! He killed himself to avoid a most painful death, but if I had it my way…he would have suffered along with his family!”
“Enough! I have had enough of this. I am shocked to see how dishonorable your actions are! I will have no part in this operation!” The feisty lieutenant storms out.
“Well that was amusing wasn't it kamaraden?” He immediately drops his screaming act and puts a smile on his face again, which scared me inside. “I apologize for that…argument, but I'm afraid it is time for you to go. I have to make some preparations for the jet flights, but don't worry. You'll be dead by the time the bombers reach their targets. It's a shame to kill such fine men such as yourselves, especially you Herr Cole.”
“Thanks…” I mutter under my breath.
“Guards…put them in the holding cells and try to talk some sense into Lt. Krohn. I want them dead before I leave. I will return to my quarters…you have your orders. Goodbye gentlemen…I'll be sure to send cards to your families concerning you deaths.” And with that final remark, Col. Todesritter gets up and walks out of the room.
A German sergeant comes by. “Come on prisoners! You heard the oberst!” With that the guards hoist us up and shove us all the way into the holding cells. The doors slam behind us as we patiently awaited death at their hands. I couldn't believe this was it. I knew this was our final mission, but I prayed it would be the final mission so I could go home to my wife and kids. Now I'll never be able to.
Part 12: The Truths Come Out
I sat in the dingy cell, contemplating what will happen to each and every one of us. I normally would converse with someone, especially Sabin or Duane, but I couldn't mutter anything. What I really couldn't understand was why Oberst Todesritter took a liking to me so much. It made me feel…dirty all over.
“This is bullshit…there has to be a way to get out!” Edgar defiantly yells.
“No use brother…we're as good as dead.” Never have I seen Sabin so disheartened in my life. It's like he's just given up, which is never like him at all.
I notice Gau over in the corner, shook up and stuttering.
“I can't believe…I can't believe I'm never gonna be a daddy. I'm gonna die and my wife will never see me again.” The poor kid starts sobbing.
“There there Gau…we'll get outta here. You'll see your child.”
“What's the point Locke? It's over…we're done for.” Duane responds to me.
This isn't happening. What happened to the men? What happened to their spirit? The minute they came into contact with that accursed colonel, all of their spirit was drained. That man is pure evil.
“I never had the chance to redeem myself…” Setzer sighs to himself.
“What do you mean Setzer?” I ask.
“You see me all cheeky and happy-go-lucky right? Well, things have never been that great. Maria left me, taking a lot of my money. I've lived nothing but an empty life. I have no one to love anymore. Sure I have a fun time at my bar and lounge, but it means nothing to me. I've been doing what I've been doing for years, drinking and gambling my troubles away. I joined the Army with Edgar to hopefully get away from all these troubles, but it's been nothing but misery. My only regret is that Daryl can't be here with me right now.”
“Who's Daryl Setzer?” Sabin asks.
“Daryl was the one and only woman I truly loved. She had that adventurer spirit and a taste for the risky just like me. Oh she would tease me and tempt me with her gorgeousness! I wanted to marry her in the worst way, but life has a funny way of punishing the hedonistic. She and I used to own two bi-planes, the Blackjack and the Falcon. She always loved to race me in those planes. It would always be a photo finish in those things, and she loved to be the showoff when she won. One day, she beat me in a race from the Veldt to Maranda, and she beat me. I laughed when she showed off her moves, but she told me she felt like 'a free bird,' wanting to fly up to the heavens. I saw her fly the Falcon as high as possible, smiling from her victory. Unfortunately, a few minutes later I saw to my horror her plane stall and start plummeting. I didn't know what to do as she fell to her doom. I tried to fly right next to her and get her to jump, but I saw her blacked out. Her plane clipped mine and I started spiraling downwards too. It all happened in the blink of an eye, and the last thing I remember was hitting the ground. I woke up in a daze, amid the twisted metal and cloth, my face bleeding. I scrambled to find Daryl, finally finding her wrecked plane, but when I got there, she was already dead.”
“Setzer…I never knew.” I whispered.
“I wailed and sobbed for the entire night, ignoring the broken state my body was in. I held her in my arms until I blacked out. I woke up in a hospital, my face bandaged. The doctors told me I was lucky to survive such a crash, but they couldn't do anything for Daryl. She was gone…the one woman I truly loved was gone. Looking into a mirror, I took off my bandages and saw the awful scars on my face. Those scars would remind me…every day…of the horrible crash that took my one love away from me. Now I have nothing, and I hoped that fighting this war would redeem me but it hasn't. If only there was someway I could fix all this. My only regret is that I couldn't.”
“My only regret is that I'll never see my Katarin bear my other child. I was looking so forward to having another blessing in my life.”
“I regret never having a family…” Edgar sighs. “I was hoping to have a family one day…but I guess I was doomed to not.”
“I regret not going to be able to see Terra again, and her mother. I told her I would come home, and now I won't be. She'll be devastated.” Sabin adds.
“I guess I regret not being able to be the daddy I always wanted to be. Where will my Relm go now?” Gau sobs out. “I remember the first time I met her. She was a little angel she was, and only 14 years old, but the mindset of a 24 year old. I remember when she tried to come into the bar after a stressful day of work, asking me for a beer. 'Hey cutie…I had a tough day at work…do you mind giving me a tall one?' She asked me. I knew she was below the age limit, but I gave her one anyway. I liked how she called me cutie, since most girls never really paid attention to me. She never got in trouble for it, but she was eternally grateful…all for a silly glass of beer.”
“Love comes in the strangest ways Gau, Duane and Katarin met through Mobliz's strife, Terra met Sabin all through a wanted ad, and I fell in love with Celes all because I happened to attend a jazz event.”
“Terrible feelings surge though me too young specialist. I regret not being able to see my daughter or my grandchild.” The captain mutters.
“What…what did you say sir?” Gau asks.
“I think it's time for you all to know something. You never knew who I really was, but now I'll tell you.” The captain looks at me, dead in the eye. “You're too noisy Locke Cole. If you were a mobster, I'd have killed you by now.”
Oh my God. It's him…it was him all along. “Shadow! You're Shadow! I knew it!” I point out to the rest of the squad.
“You mean to tell me that the legendary Shadow was our commander all along?” Duane asks.
“Yes. But I am no longer Shadow. My real name is Clyde Arrowny.”
“Wait…you mean…you're related to my Relm?” Gau is still in shock.
“She's my daughter. Long ago…I was a drifter, a former criminal, a nobody. I was paired with the best person I ever met in the entire world, my friend Baram. We were good at what we did. In fact, our bank robbing moniker was 'Shadow'. Everyone feared Shadow…for they never knew when we strike and rob them.” The captain chuckles, “All those train and bank heists you read about? Those were done by us. We were notorious. One day, we were ambushed by the cops during a bank heist. I managed to get us away, but Baram…he lost a lot of blood. He was wounded in the chase. He knew he was done for when we were running away from Johnny Law. He wanted me to finish him with my knife…but I couldn't kill him. I felt like I would be barbaric to kill my own friend. I chickened out, and left him to die. I remember his screams when I was running away. A few days later, tired and starving, I passed out right at the borders of Tzen. There was a lovely young woman who took care of me until I recuperated. Her name was Alyssa, and she was the most beautiful woman I had ever met, with her silken black hair and lovely hazel eyes. She knew about me, but for some reason took pity on my state, looking past my criminal side. Her father, one Strago Magus, protested, but I guess her compassion was too strong. When I recovered, I wanted to leave, but I was compelled to stay. I fell in love with her, and I felt obligated to redeem myself and repay her for her charity. We married only a year later, and she gave birth to my little girl Relm.”
“You're wife must've been beautiful sir…because Relm certainly is.” Gau cuts in.
“Thank you specialist. Life was certainly good with her, and I built a good relation with her father Strago, but as always, tragedy is right behind me. I ran afoul of Gestahl when his gang was starting to gain power. They drove through Tzen, ravaging it and taking whatever they could. Alyssa and I tried to stop them from hurting Relm, but they overpowered us. Alyssa was accidentally shot while we defended Relm. They left us, our house broken and ruined, and my dear Alyssa was left with me, dying right before my eyes. Strago and I did our best to save her, but it was too late. The last words she muttered were how much she loved me and how she wanted me to look after Relm. I promised that I would take care of her right before she closed her eyes. I cried for days and days. Strago tried to console me, but secretly he probably felt that I was partially responsible. I knew that everyone close to me would end up dead or hurt in someway…so I ran away, leaving Relm to be taken care of by Strago. I wandered around, with the moniker of Shadow, dressed in all black. I was a mercenary, working for the highest bidder but always harboring the grudge against Gestahl and carrying the guilt of Alyssa's death. I worked for a year or two with Sabin's wife Terra, not incredibly concerned with the kids or the town. My emotions were dead at that point. It was until I looked through the newspaper and saw the marriage of Gau McGavin and Relm Arrowny. My eyes widened at the site of my daughter all grown up. That is why I'm still so troubled today…because my daughter has become so wonderful, and she's never had a father to take care of her. I wouldn't say this normally, but I'm glad a man like you married her specialist.”
“Sir…I thank you. I never regretted marrying your daughter…and I took care of her to the best of my ability!” Gau assures the captain.
The captain sighs. “Gau, if we get out of here, I want you to give this letter to Relm. Something tells me that the Reaper will finally catch up to me on this one. I want her to know that her father was still around, and that he loved her very much, and is incredibly proud of her.” He hands Gau the letter, trying to hold back what new emotions might be surging through his body.
“I don't know what will happen…but I hope our wives know that we'll always love them.” I said to Duane and Sabin.
“I'm sure they know already…they're the strongest women I've ever run across. I wouldn't change a thing about them…ever.”
“I second that Duane. I wanted to see my kids grow up big and strong like me.”
The record player rang with a lovely French tune. It sparked my curiosity.
“Nous nous aimions bien tendrement.
Comme s'aiment tous les amants.
Et puis un jour tu m'as quittée.
Depuis je suis desesperee.
Je te vois partout dans le ciel.
Je te vois partout sur la terre.
Tu es ma joie et mon soleil.
Ma nuit, mes jours, mes aubes claires.
Tu es partout car tu es dans mon cœur.
Tu es partout car tu es mon bonheur.
Toutes les choses qui sont autour de moi.
Même la vie ne représente que toi.
Des fois je rêve que je suis dans tes bras.
Et qu'a l'oreille tu me parles tout bas.
Tu dis des choses qui font fermer les yeux.
Et moi je trouve ça merveilleux.”
“Duane…that song is lovely. Do you know who that is?”
“I'm not quite sure…but I can understand the lyrics. Oh I remember…the song's is by Edith Piaf, a famous French singer. Here it begins again…she says that, we loved each other tenderly, but then one day you left…ever since I have become desperate. I see you everywhere in the sky. I see you everywhere on the earth. You are my joy, my sun, my night, my days, and my dawns.”
“I like the song already.” I held back the sudden upsurge of pain I felt, knowing that this is probably how Celes felt when I had to leave for Europe. The lone fact that is was a woman singing reminded me of Celes, how she sang for me many times, and every time was better than the last.
“You…are everywhere because you are in my heart. You are everywhere because…you are my…happiness…even life does not represent you. Sometimes I dream…that I am in your arms, and you speak softly in my ear. You say things…that make me want to close…my eyes, and I find that…marvelous.” Duane translates the lyrics while waving his hand. Of all of us, he might be getting the most into this melody.
“That's one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard. I feel awkward saying this, but you've made me incredibly attracted and aroused to you Duane.” Sabin jokes.
“Then please stay as far away from me as possible!” Duane responds, causing a little laughter to emanate throughout the room.
That song not surprisingly could only make me think of Celes, who waits every day for my return. “Erika…did you ever love anyone?” I ask with some leftover, lingering curiosity.
“Yes…yes I did. I had a husband. He was a young politician working in the Reichstag. He had passion, patriotism, and tremendous love in his heart. He had great plans to reform and repair Germany, but Hitler wouldn't have any of it. When the SA and the Nazi party took over, they arrested many of the other politicians to secure their power. My husband, trying to protect me, turned himself in so that I'd be saved. He was killed a few days after, after saying goodbye to me and the rest of the German people.”
“I'm sorry to hear about your loss Erika…it seems we've all lost something dear in our lives. We're all in the same boat.” I commented.
“I remember his incredible loyalty to me and his sense of humor. That is why your friend Edgar appeals to me so much. It hurts, but his position as governor, his absolute protective attitude for me, and his silly flirtatious attitude somehow remind me of my husband.”
“He can be like that sometimes Miss Erika…he is my brother.” Sabin says.
“His death ruined my life…so I pledged to help bring down the Third Reich anyway I could, by joining the Kreisau Circle. I wanted to avenge his death by any means possible!”
“We all have our issues Erika…but we have to press on and defeat our demons.” Edgar cuts in. “For me…my issue was finding my one true love. You know…I think, after all these years, I've finally found it.” He looks into Erika's eyes.
“Herr Figaro…I don't know if I can.” She knew she had feelings for the young lieutenant in such a short time, but she wasn't quite ready to be in love again, especially in a situation like this.
“I think I've finally found the woman I can fall in love with. You have everything I've ever wanted Erika…I can only hope that if we get out of this…I can be everything you wanted, again.”
“Edgar…” She whispers as Edgar draws closer and closer. Before they can lock lips, the door swings open. It's Lt. Krohn, and why he's here I haven't the foggiest.
“Leutnant? Was tun Sie hier?” The surprised guard asks Dietrich.
“Ich bin hier, die Gefangenen zu sehen!” He retorts. It's a shame only Duane and Erika can understand him. I wanna know what he's up to.
“Dietrich! What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be with that ungodly colonel?”
“First let me take care of one thing dear sister.” He taps the guard on the shoulder and then sends him flying with an uppercut to the jaw, and the guard is out like a light. “I'm here to get you out…we have to stop that madman from bringing more ruin on the German people and your people alike! I must maintain my honor for myself and the German people.”
“My savior hallelujah!” I yell with my hands up in the air as the lieutenant grabs the key and opens the cell door.
“Looks like you Wehrmacht boys aren't so bad after all eh?” Capt. Banon says to Dietrich.
“Thank you brother…I always had faith in you!” She reaches over and kisses him on the cheek.
“Come sister, let's avenge our parents!”
Everyone files out, ready to break out of this hellish base. I just had one thing to grab.
“Locke…what're you doing?” Edgar asks.
“I just have thing to grab…a souvenir of sorts.” I respond as I take the record off the player and wrap it gently with a cloth. I wanted this record…it would be the first thing I've taken in a while, but for a good reason, for Celes.
“Do you know where they have our weapons Lt. Krohn?” MSG Bixby asks.
“Yes. They kept them in the holding cell adjacent to yours. Hurry!” The Wehrmacht officer peers his head out the window, making sure the coast is clear. “I'll go and grab your weapons because no one will suspect me for the time being. Stay here until I come back.”
“Thank you sir.” Edgar says.
“Oh by the way Herr Figaro…if I ever see you approach my sister like that again…I'll beat you senseless.”
“DIETRICH!” Erika yells. “I'm not a child anymore so stop threatening Edgar!”
“Fine…but I'm watching you…Herr Edgar.”
He scampers out to the adjacent door to grab our weaponry. We could only pray there were no guards in the room or in the hallway at the time. A few minutes pass, and we still wait for him.
“Cole…I want you to go and take a peek through that door. I wanna see if he's still in that room, and if there's anyone coming.”
“Are you crazy sir? If there's a guard out there he'll blow my head off!” I protest.
The captain just grits his teeth as a threat. Although I know he's Shadow and we're on the level, I still don't wanna mess with him, knowing what he's capable of. I caved in. I quietly opened the door and stuck my head out. Everything looked kosher on my right side, so I checked my left. Immediately I saw a big, grey uniform right in front of me. I cringed and pulled my head back in real quick. Everyone noticed how pale I became, as if I just saw a ghost.
“What's out there Locke?” Duane asks.
“Yeah…you look very…shaky pal.” Gau notices.
“Big…big…SS…German…German guard…right there…has big gun…big big gun…very big…scary…will shoot us all…” I stuttered, because the big lug outside was wielding an MG34, which could waste us all in one full blast. I knew if I made any loud noises…he'd come in here and let loose, and that'd be very bad.
“Let me handle this. I need to get my fists a little warm-up anyway!” Sabin pushes me aside and silently opens the door. The next thing I hear is a couple of blows on someone, some struggling and grunting, and then silence.
“Sabin?” I whisper. “Sabin, are you ok?”
A few more seconds pass. “Yeah…I'm golden. The dolt never saw it coming.” He whispers back as he drags the unconscious SS guard into the holding room. “I've always been fascinated by these German machine guns…I think I'll 'borrow' one for a test run.” He strips the ammo and gun off the guard he just beat the crap out of.
“What would we do without a big guy like you Sabin?” Edgar remarks.
“Yeah I know…guess these stupid muscles come in handy after all huh?” Sabin responds.
Within a few more minutes the German lieutenant now turncoat came back, with all sorts of weapons in his hands and slung over his soldiers.
“Here are…your weapons gentlemen. They are still intact, along with your necessary supplies.” He sets everything down for us to sort out. Duane got his TNT again, and I got my sniper rifle back in my arms. It felt good to have it back, seeing as how it provided a sort of “security blanket,” especially in this particular situation.
“Ah…now this is more like it! I'm certainly glad you've come to the good side Lt. Krohn. Come on lads let's finally get on with it!” Capt. Banon says aloud.
This was it. This was the final hurrah, that last burst of energy that my squad and I needed to pull through these hard times. I smiled at the fact that we were able to pull ourselves through that dour, depressive situation, and now, through the moral courage of one German officer, and our own determination and grit, our “never-say-die” attitude, we were able to finally revive our morale and escape. Looks like the big guy did want me to live after all. Looks like Celes was with me after all. I love you Celes…more than anything this world could produce, more than any other woman or man, more than the greatest treasure in the world. No I'm sorry…you are the greatest treasure I have ever found, and I intend to see you again, and never leave you again…ever.
We swarmed out of the hallway, all of our equipment in our hands and on our backs. I made sure the record I took from the cell was protected under what cloths I could find. We managed to find cover in a small storage room…somewhere no one would really notice.
“What exactly is the situation Lt. Krohn?” MSG Bixby asks. “What are we precisely going to do to stop Colonel Todesritter and this mad scheme of his?”
“Well mein kamerad. His grand plan of his is to launch all of his bombers within two hours to their respective drop targets. If he succeeds, it will be the end of our world as we know it, including yours Americans.”
“He's right…our wives are still home, and even though they're not with us physically…we still have to protect them from this evil man!” Duane yells.
“Here here!” Sabin adds.
“God…any cheerier Sabin and you'll give us all diabetes.” Setzer comments.
“Bite me Setzer.”
“Ok now what we need is a plan…otherwise we're about as good as nothing.” The captain explains to the group. “What I think we should do is try to sneak some of us into the hangars and plant the explosives on the Ho-IX bombers…if we can knock them out, then they'll never ever fly. Screw the V-2s for now…hopefully the bombing run that will be coming can take care of them. You did send a message to the Allied HQ right Cole?”
“Yes sir…they said bombers would arrive in only an hour or two!”
“Good work…I always liked you Cole, even though I didn't show it. You're a good man, you do your job well…I think you may have found a line of work perfect for yourself.” Is the captain going some sort of epiphany again ever since he “revealed” himself in a sense?
“I wouldn't go so far as to say I've found my calling…”
“Though I've helped keep you all alive so far, it's still up to you all to do one last act for your country, for your families and wives, and for the world. We need to stop him before all hell breaks loose, before Ragnarök becomes a reality.” The captain certainly knows how to give a good heartfelt speech.
“What is Ragnarök sir?” Gau asks.
“In Norse mythology, there lived two types of beings, gods and giants, and they were always at war with each other. In Ragnarök, they would fight for the last time, bringing about the end of the world, but then ushering a new, more 'perfect' world. Now you see why Oberst Todesritter named it that. He wants to bring about the destruction of his enemies and the 'old world' and establish a new order under the banner of Nazism.”
“This man truly is insane…” Capt. Banon comments. “He's even more nutters than Hitler.”
“Y'all got that right.” Gau says. “If this man wants to hurt my Relm…he'll have to go through me first!”
“That's the spirit Gau. Glad to see you still have some courage in ya.” Sabin chuckles aloud.
“I cannot believe that I served for him…this man…he has no honor. God forgive me for my sins following him. I have shamed my family and my honor.” Lt. Krohn hangs his head down in shame.
“No you have not brother. You served the Fatherland to the best of your ability, even though you did not know the real agendas of these terrible men. You fought for Germany and for your family, and that's the real goal of a soldier or officer in life. We have each other dear brother…remember than.”
“Thank you Erika…I can at least live knowing that someone is proud of me. If only Field Marshall Rommel were here now. He would admire what we are doing, fighting evil to restore honor to the German people.”
“Gentlemen and woman…” Setzer sticks his hand out. “For us…brave soldiers fighting to stop this reign of terror. Let's finish this and all go home.”
“For family!” Gau joins in.
“For brotherhood!” Sabin sticks his hand on Gau's, looking at Edgar at the same time.
“For honor!” Dietrich says.
“For the Queen!” MSG Bixby adds.
“For vengeance!” Capt. Banon puts his hand on top of Bixby's.
“For our children!” Duane jumps in on the pledge.
“For love!” Edgar says, staring at Erika, who just takes a deep breath and smiles at him.
“For love!” Erika says right back. Looks like the cat's outta the bag and we have two new lovebirds.
“For redemption!” Capt. Clyde…I mean Arrowny says.
I was the last one to join in. “For…all of our loved ones. For ones we lost, for ones we have, and for ones we hope will come into our lives. For everyone who has suffered under tyranny, whether it is Kefka, Gestahl, this war, or any sort of misery that has come to this Earth. I'll fight for them.”
“We're all in this together…British, Americans, and Germans. Let's free the world from this monster once and for all.” Edgar says.
“Well what are we waiting for people? Let's go!” The captain rallies us as we walk out with our heads up high and our weapons locked and loaded.
I thought about the coming battle, and what might happen after it. I knew that God was on my side, and that Celes was in my heart, so I had faith that I would get out of this in one piece. Look at you Locke Cole, from humble, troubled detective to wartime hero, all through this one mission. It wasn't going to be easy, but then again, has saving the world even been?
To be concluded…