The Let's Play Archive

Advance Wars

by cosmicPostman

Part 47: Extra: The Night Before

Hey, guys! I wrote a little piece in preparation for the endgame, since I thought it would be nice to have another prose piece. The update will be going ahead on Friday - once more, this is just a little extra present.

I’m really happy with how things have turned out. This SSLP has been so much fun, and I’ve come to love these characters so much, and I hope you guys feel the same way. We’re almost at the end now, which is kind of crazy to me. Thank you all so much for your support.

Now please, enjoy the night before!

The Barracks: The Night Before

I stand before my army, gathered in the main room of the barracks. I fix them with a serious look - no jokes today.

“Alright, you guys are getting deployed tomorrow.” I say. “I don’t know if I’ll be the one commanding you, and let’s be real, they’re probably gonna let a professional handle this battle. But either way, I want you to do your best out there tomorrow.”

I can see my troops looking ill at ease. Dave’s glowering at the ground. Wilbert and Tina are holding each other’s hands tightly. Von Panzer’s lips are pursed and his expression is pained. Mulligan is pale, and Cassandra is playing with a stress ball. Rose seems confident, but she’s the only one.

“Once this campaign is done, those who were conscripted can go home, and everyone else will most likely get at least half a years’ leave.” I continue. “So hey, for all intents and purposes… this is the end. Spend your evening as you wish, and see you tomorrow.”

I watch as the soldiers disperse, off to do whatever it is they do whenever they’re hanging in the barracks. With how tough this final battle is going to be, I don’t blame them if they’re taking the chance to chill out. Deciding I should do the same, I begin to walk to my room, but something makes me stop.

Would Nell go to bed so early?

...Ugh, fine.

I turn around and head back to my office; there’s some more work I should do before I head to bed.


Dave, Michael and Gareth are playing a few rounds of Bullshit to relax, sitting in Dave’s room around a small table. After their third game concludes, Dave deals out the cards again whilst they discuss the coming battle.

“That was ridiculous.” Gareth says. “I could’ve won that if you hadn’t called me out. I didn’t even show any emotion in my face.”

“Hey, you’re predictable, that’s all I’m saying.” Michael replies, grinning. “You guys feeling confident about tomorrow?”

“...Eh.” Dave says, putting the cards down, sensing that the conversation might go on for a short while. “It’s just a regular battle, like any other, really. Stakes are slightly higher, but at the end of the day, any battle could be our last. You know?”

“I know.” Michael says.

“But now that we’ve come so far, I almost want it to be done properly.” Gareth replies. “I don’t usually feel that way about campaigns, and I’ve seen a lot of ‘em in my time. Usually if someone falls, that’s just the way of it. But this one… why do I suddenly hope everyone gets through it?”

“Well, they say we mimic our leaders. Perhaps my dude wanting everyone to live has rubbed off on you a bit.” Michael suggests.

“Bah.” Gareth says. He glances towards the window above Dave’s bed, watching small raindrops slide down the pane, mixing with other drops as they all patter inevitably downward.

“I just wish everyone was here. All those needless deaths… I blamed Blue Moon for all that, but it’s clear that this war was engineered entirely by this bastard.” Dave spits.

“Don’t let your rage consume you again, Dave.” Michael chides gently. “We’ll get through it fine, OK?”

“We will, but what about everyone else that was lost?”

“There’s no bringin’ them back.” Gareth replies. “You learn that lesson a lot in war. There’s never any bringing ‘em back.”

“I suppose not.” Dave replies. “But I have a duty to uphold to the dead, at least.”

“Dave.” Michael says. Dave looks back at him.


“Fight for the living instead.”

Dave doesn’t reply, and picks up the deck of cards to keep dealing. He knows what his duty is, and it is no longer revenge. Not after his last conversation with Rin.


“Hey.” Tina says. It’s dark in the room, but she can feel the comforting presence of Wilbert, lying beside her, his arm around her. She relaxes on the bed, staring at the ceiling. “Whatever happens tomorrow…”


“We’ll be OK, right?”

“Yeah.” Wilbert replies, nodding. “We’re gonna win. And after that, well, the world’s our oyster.”

Tina rolls over and rests her head on Wilbert’s bare chest, letting one of her fingers trace the line from his neck to his navel.

“Well, since we don’t have anyone but each other… we’ll go back to the capital, find a nice little place. Settle down, at least for a while.”

“Only for a while?” Wilbert asks.

Tina nods. “I think we both know that fighting is in our blood. We can’t settle for long.”

“What about... you-know-what?”

Both of them fall silent for a minute. Eventually, Tina lets out a loud sigh.

“I dunno.” she grumbles. “We’ll figure that out after tomorrow, alright?”

“Heh. Alright.”

For a while, they lie together in the darkness, until Wilbert’s hand lightly grabs Tina’s rear. She jumps and shakes her head at him.

“Dear me, Wilbert, what happened to the dense kid who’d never had a girlfriend before? You’re wild these days.”

“My mind was wandering too much.” Wilbert replies. “I thought I’d let my hands wander instead.”


“Nah.” Wilbert says. “Even if I was, you know I can’t admit weakness to you. I’m gonna get more kills than you tomorrow.”

“Oh, is that a promise?”

“I don’t know, actually. You have been doing quite well recently...”

“That’s underselling me - I’ve been crucial to some of these last few missions.”

“Put it this way, I’m not putting money on it.” Wilbert replies.

Tina pouts, and though Wilbert cannot see it in the dark, he can tell she’s pouting by the way she speaks. It’s one of the many small facets of her that he’s come to understand in the last few months. “Boring. But fine, I’ll take you up on that challenge.”

“Sounds good.” says Wilbert.

Neither he nor Tina voice their true concerns.

What if the other one doesn’t come back tomorrow?


“Ah, here’s where you got to.” Harvey says, poking his head into Bernard’s copter. Bernard and Fleur are relaxing in the copter, still in the HQ’s aerial hangar. It’s quiet, since most of the other soldiers are in the barracks.

“Hey, Harvey. Come join us.” Bernard says, waving him in. Fleur grins.

“Ah, bonjour!” Fleur says.

Harvey sits with them, and notices a plate of biscuits. Bernard offers one, and he takes it gratefully, biting in.

“So,” he says through a mouthful of biscuit. “Why are you here?”

“Heh. Quiet, mostly.” Bernard replies. “The soldiers here ain’t exactly chill, ‘specially not the night before a big battle.”

“But you are?” Fleur asks.

Bernard nods, shrugging. “Yup. I don’t see the reason to get all worked up about it.”

“I suppose we don’t need to worry. We’re not the ones doing the fighting.” replies Harvey.

Bernard grows serious, and looks at Harvey and Fleur. “Hey, none of that. We’re still risking our lives. I’m chill because it’s easier than being scared, but I ain’t ignorant of what the others are doing. They’re fighting, but… we’re helping. We gotta be just as ready to give our lives as them. OK?”

Fleur smiles. “Bien dit!”

“Yeah, you’re right.” Harvey says, clutching one of his bug books nervously. “I guess we need to be ready.”

“We do, but not until tomorrow. So for now..?”

“...We relax?” guesses Harvey.

Bernard nods, sitting back and closing his eyes, beginning to doze in the comfortable little copter. “We relax.”


“Hey, Luthy, can I borrow thome of your-” Rin says, walking into Lucy’s room. She stops and stares in surprise at Michael and Lucy, huddled together on the bed. “...Oh?”

“Oh, Rin!” Lucy says, waving. “Yeah, what did you need?”

“I wath going to borrow thome makeup, but now I thee that you’re watching Tabitha High… I hope you don’t mind if I join you? It’th one of my favourite showth!”

“You’re welcome to.” Michael replies, smiling. “Come join us!”

Rin hops onto the bed, and the group rearrange themselves to make everyone comfortable. Rin watches the screen in enrapturement.

“Ah, thith ith epithode five! A favourite of mine!”

“Yeah, we figured we’d rewatch the season since the new one won’t be out until next year.” Michael replies. “You can binge it with us!”

Rin beams and nods. “Yeth! I had no idea you two watched it… to think, we could have watched it together thith whole time!”

“That’s a real missed opportunity, you’re right.” Lucy says. “Hey, if we all get deployed together in the future, we’ll definitely make sure to watch the next season together!”

“Mm!” Rin nods.

“Yeah. Yeah, definitely.” Michael replies.

“I gotta go check on my dad after this episode, though - I’ll catch up with you guys later!”

Lucy dashes off, leaving Rin and Michael to continue watching Tabitha High.


This work is a bit of a nightmare, I decide, as I put the notes aside and lean back in my chair. So much work, being an ACO and doing all the odd jobs… I suppose the CO’s job is to win battles, but why does it fall to me to do 90% of Dipshit’s fucking paperwork?

There’s a knock at the door. Thankful for any distraction from my job, I get up and open the door to reveal a worried-looking woman with long blonde hair, dyed red at the tips. She’s biting her lip and is clearly nervous.

“I, um…” Selena begins.

“Is everything OK, Selena?”

She nods. “Yes, it’s fine. I just…”

“Go on.”

“I just… wanted to know. Why did you forward me for a promotion?”

I sigh. I thought she’d come knocking on my door about this sooner or later. I invite her in, and we sit at the desk. She looks across at me, waiting for me to speak.

“Selena, I think most of the soldiers have noticed that I have a…”

“An attraction? To me?”

Oh, god, this isn’t going well. I fumble over my words. “Uh, no, not quite. I mean, Nell is very special to me, after all.”

“I can’t help noticing our similarities…” Selena murmurs, staring at the ground. “Am I replacing her for the duration of the campaign?”

“No, no, not at all. Selena, I find you attractive, but my appreciation for you in terms of this promotion is purely professional; you’re an excellent soldier, and I’d think that regardless of my feelings towards you. We’ve not spoken nearly enough for me to view this as a legitimate relationship or anything. Nell is the object of my desires.” I explain, trying to choose my words very carefully. Selena seems to brighten up.

“Oh. I just thought-”

“I can see why you’d think that.” I reply, grinning to try and put her at ease. “Selena, please don’t worry. There’s no nepotism or favour going on here - you’re a good soldier, and I think you need a promotion to really shine. That’s all.”

Selena nods. “OK. Thank you, commander.”

“Call me my dude.”

“I shall.” Selena replies, standing up. She walks to the door, then turns back. “You know… I wouldn’t have minded.”

“You mean-” I stutter, but she’s already gone. Did she mean…

No, never mind. I’d better focus on Nell.

Or rather, right now… my paperwork. Sigh.


The rain patters down lightly. Mulligan turns to see Howard exiting the barracks, and immediately sighing.


“Were you going to take a walk as well?” Mulligan says.

“No, I was going for a cig.” Howard replies, gesturing to the cigarette in his mouth.

“I see. Well, would you like to walk with me?”

Howard sighs. “No.”

“OK.” Mulligan says. He stays exactly where he is, and glances at Howard every so often. Eventually, Howard grows sick of it.

“Mulligan, why exactly are you so bothered about spending time with me?”

“I care about you, Howard.” Mulligan replies, without batting an eyelid.


“Remember those walks we had? All the times we’d find a quiet spot to sit and chat for a while? Those times are special to me. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you.”

“I’m so much younger than you. I’m some stressed loner who smokes too much and hates himself. What is there to get to know?” Howard says.

Mulligan heaves a sigh. “I won’t spell it out clearer than this: I want to spend more time with you.”

“Oh, you mean-” Howard gasps. “I… no. Mulligan, I appreciate that you’re trying to help, but I can’t quit smoking and you can’t-”

“I can’t what?”

“You can’t love a depressed person.” Howard replies. “You just want to fix me. Once I’m fixed, if ever, you’ll get bored. Don’t waste your fucking time.”

Mulligan is quiet, and for a while, they continue to watch the rain. Howard tosses his cigarette on the ground once he’s done with it, then sighs and leans against the wall of the barracks.

“Oh my god, you drive me insane.” Howard grunts. “Say something, Mulligan!”

“I don’t have much to say.” Mulligan replies. “I just want to ask… if you really think that you can’t love a depressed person, what I can prove you wrong?”

“And how can you do that?”

“After the war, we’ll stay together. Nothing official. Just… two people. Hanging out. And we’ll see whether I’m right or whether you’re right.”

“I… see.” Howard murmurs.

Mulligan smiles.

“Howard, you could stay the same, or quit smoking tomorrow, and I’d still want to get to know you. I want to help you, but that’s not why I’m doing this. I don’t hang out with you purely to help you. It’s also selfish… because I really like talking to you.”

“...Fine.” Howard says, quietly.

Mulligan turns to him. “What was that?”

“Fine. After the war, we’ll go back to Green Earth together. That’s your home, right?”

“Yes.” Mulligan says. “...I’d like that.”

Howard sighs. “Don’t expect much. But, I dunno, maybe something will come from it. I guess we’ll see.”

“We’ll see.”

The pair continue to watch the rain, whilst a flicked cigarette butt glows on the ground at their feet.


“Daddy, are you really drinking the night before such a big battle?” Lucy asks, as she walks into the room just in time to see Red, sat on the sofa, down a shot of whiskey. He coughs guiltily.

“I just thought it’d settle my nerves, daughter dearest.”

“Goodness gracious, daddy.” sighs Lucy, walking around the table with the whiskey on it and staring across it at Red. She remains stood up.

“It’s calming.” Red says, pouring another and eyeing it carefully. “The bottom of a glass doesn’t judge you.”

“Are you nervous for tomorrow?”

“I’m nervous about afterwards, really.” Red sighs. “We’ll... have to go home once the campaign is done.”

“I’m staying.” Lucy replies fiercely. Red looks at her in surprise. “If you can’t bring yourself to divorce mom, I’m staying with my real family, here at the Orange Star barracks!”

“I… I know I’m a failure of a dad.” mutters Red. “If I could divorce her, I would. I would, for everything she’s done to you… I just can never bring myself to go through with it.”

“I know.” Lucy replies quietly. “But you’re no failure. You’re my pops, and I love you lots.”

Red can’t help but smile.

“I love you too.”

“And I believe you can do it!” Lucy says. “I’ll stay whatever happens, but if you do go back home after this… don’t go home to her. Get the divorce, and make yourself happy. OK, dad?”

“I’ll try.”

Lucy pouts at Red. “Promise me!”

With a chuckle, Red salutes airily.

“Alright, my girl. I’ll do it. If I can.”

“Lucy? Are you in here?” says a voice from outside the room. The pair look up to see Ingo walk in. Red grins at him.

“You must be Ingo, huh? The likely lad that my daughter’s taken a shine to!”

“Uh, yes, sir.” Ingo replies, nodding. “Forgive me, I don’t see you round the barracks. I would’ve said hello otherwise.”

“Don’t worry about it. Now then, what did you need, m’boy?” Red booms. He gestures towards the whiskey, but Ingo shakes his head.

“I’m teetotal. I just wanted to see where Lucy is… especially considering how tomorrow might go.”

“You were worried about me?” Lucy says, shaking her head in bemusement. “Ingo, I’m perfectly capable!”

“I know.” Ingo replies. “I… was more worried for myself. I’m not strong. Lucy, I might not-”

“Don’t say it.” Lucy replies, her voice getting deadly serious. Even Red is taken aback. “Don’t say you won’t come back tomorrow. You’re coming back, whether you like it or not! I won’t let you do otherwise!”

Ingo is quiet for a few moments.

“Alright. But you have to promise the same.”

“Of course. You’d be lost without me!” Lucy replies, winking.

Red chuckles at the kids. “Alright, kiddos, I can see you have plenty you wanna discuss. I’m gonna get myself a refill, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“No drinking! What you need is some sleep, daddy, otherwise you’ll be hungover tomorrow!”

Red laughs as he walks out of the room. “If you insist, daughter. Goodnight!”

“Your father is certainly something.” Ingo murmurs, watching him go. He shivers as Lucy’s hand creeps into his own, and grasps it tightly. It’s the first time they’ve held hands.

“He is. But now it’s just us two…” Lucy murmurs. “Can we just stay here for a bit? No words. Just us.”

Ingo nods. “...Sure. I’d like that.”

Sitting on the sofa, hands tightly clasped, Ingo and Lucy close their eyes and imagine what might happen in the battle tomorrow, as the soft sounds of rainfall echo around them.


Raynald of Châtillon crusades into the mess hall, where a few soldiers are sitting around chatting. He crusades over to Barnaby, Stanley and Eddie, who seem to be having a quiet discussion.

“Good morrow, friends!”

“Oh, hello, Raynald!” Barnaby says. “What a wacky guy you are. Come sit with us! We’re looking at doggies!”

“Ah, I see.” Raynald replies, looking at the photos that Stanley has laid out. “You, Stanley! You own these hounds?”

“I do, yes. They’re my wonderful dogs.” Stanley replies, smiling. “I’m just showing them to people, to… I dunno, calm me down? We’re a little stressed.”

“I’m fine!” Barnaby replies. “It’s gonna be pretty wild tomorrow, but we’ve come through worse!”

“That’s debatable.” Eddie says, shrugging. “This Sturm guy is pretty tough. We’re going to have to do our best, and hey, what’s more inspiring than pictures of dogs?”

Raynald nods. “I see!”

“I just want to memorise their faces… should the worst happen tomorrow.” Stanley murmurs, his face falling.

“Stanley, worry not! I, Raynald of Châtillon, shall protect you! You will go home to see your beloved hounds again!”

“Yeah, we’ll do it together!” Eddie says. “The storm’s big, but I’m ready to chase it down and find out what’s on the other side.”

Stanley smiles at everyone. “...OK! You’re right! Tomorrow, we do our best!”


Across the mess hall, Lloyd, Elvin and Landon are eating a meal together. Landon is scribbling in a notebook in between bites.

“...Yes, if we strike like this, we should be able to push through their forces quite easily.”

“Landon, you ain’t an ACO. Why are you puttin’ the effort into strategising?”

“It’s very important.” Landon says, looking up and adjusting his glasses. “I… want to be an ACO. That’s why I need to make sure that people see my tactical prowess!”

“I see.” Lloyd mutters, shrugging. “Alright, then, aye.”

“Captain Lloyd…” says Elvin slyly. “Will you be keeping an eye on me in tomorrow’s battle?”

“It ain’t gonna make me like you, but I want you to come back safe.” Lloyd replies. “Elvin, you’ve been impressin’ me lately. But please, stop.”
Elvin’s face falls, and Landon winces.

“I…” Elvin says.

“Elvin. I understand how you feel. Had a girl at home that I was the same with, actually.” Landon says.

Elvin turns to him, and emboldened, Landon continues.

“She told me she wanted no part of me. Said I was too egotistical. So I continued working hard to impress her, learning tactics and battleship strategy, until, well… somehow I’d gone from working hard to impress her, to working hard for my own sake.”

“Just like that?” says Elvin.

“Aye, that be the right way.” Lloyd replies.

“I see.” Elvin muses. “Captain Lloyd, I’m going to try it. Next time we get deployed, I’ll work hard for my own sake. I can’t hide my feelings for you, but I can stop using them as the motivation to succeed, at least. Would that make you happy?”

Lloyd has a wide grin as he looks at his sheepish subordinate. “Aye, Elvin. That would make me happy indeed.”


In Barold’s room, Alfonse and Cassandra are doing some weapon maintenance with Barold. They talk as they work.

“So, about tomorrow…” Alfonse says.

“What else is there to talk about?” replies Barold. “Tomorrow...”

“I just hope that we can come through it without casualties.” Cassandra says. “I have grown to love this army quite a bit. It would not do for it to fall here.”

Barold looks at his gun. A tool for killing, and one that has never felt comfortable in his hands. “I’m scared.”

“I don’t feel as scared as I thought I would. After so long of living in the shadows of the other infantry and mech squads, I…” Alfonse begins.

“Feel more at ease?” suggests Cassandra.

“Not quite. More like, I feel like I’ve grown to their level now. I’m much more confident than I was.”

“I see. That is good to hear.” Cassandra replies. “Barold, you’re one of the longest-serving soldiers in my dude’s army. Why do you feel fear?”

“Do you guys remember Steve?” Barold says.

The pair nod. Alfonse turns to Barold. “He was your friend, wasn’t he?”

“He was.” Barold replies. “He was the other soldier who my dude first met. He was the only other soldier to have served the same length of time as me.”

“Oh, I see.” Cassandra replies.

“And he-” Barold says, struggling with his words. “I’ve always been terrified of dying here. I just want to go home. I told Steve these concerns, and he promised… that while he lived, he wouldn’t let me die.”

The pair are quiet, realising why Barold is so scared.

“Now he’s gone… I don’t know if I can protect myself. We’ve fought for so long, and every time, I wish Steve was here. Steve would know what to do.”

“Then it’s clear.” Alfonse replies.

Cassandra turns to him with surprise, as he puts his gun down and extends his hand towards Barold.

“I’m no Steve, but I swear, Barold, I’ll make the exact same promise that he did. Tomorrow, I’ll give my life before I allow you to die. You’re going to go home. OK?”

Barold is silent for a moment, staring at the outstretched hand in a mixture of fear and surprise. But then he takes it and shakes it, allowing himself a soft smile.

“Alfonse… thank you.” He really has grown up.

Alfonse gives a devil-may-care grin. “Barold, you are very welcome.”


Rin opens the door to her room, disturbing her roommate, Selena, who was listening to music as she lies on her bed. Sitting up and taking her headphones off, Selena waves briefly.

“Hello. Did you get the makeup?”

“Oh, gosh!” Rin replies. “I completely forgot, Thelena. When I got to Luthy’th room, she wath watching Tabitha High with Michael, tho I watched it with them!”

“Oh, I see.” replies Selena, smirking. “How amusing. No matter, you can borrow mine.”

“Thankth. How about you? Have you jutht been lithening to muthic the whole time?”

“I… yes, I have. I haven’t spoken to anyone else.” Selena lies. “I’d have liked to speak to Alfonse again, but I wasn’t sure where he was. So I just want to relax with my music.”

“Well, don’t let me dithturb you. I’m back now becauthe it’th getting late. I’m gonna get to bed.” Rin replies, smiling. “Goodnight, Thelena! Good luck for tomorrow - you’re going to be amathing!”

Selena remembers Alfonse’s words. You’re a legend.

“Thank you, Rin. Tomorrow, I will perform to the best of my ability. That’s all that can be asked of me.”

“I know you will.” Rin says, turning to her side and lying down. Turning her lamp off, Selena puts her headphones back on, and relaxes, staring at the ceiling.
For some reason, sleep evades her.


Rose sees Balthazar in the barracks’ mail room, and opens the door quietly, causing him to look up.

“Oh, Rose!” he says, looking pleased to see her. “You OK?”

“Yes, I am acceptable.” Rose replies. “I simply wanted to see how you were doing. I must say, I am intrigued to hear what your plans are after this battle.”

“Oh, that?” Balthazar says. “I’m going back to Yellow Comet. I’m a free man now, thanks to you, so I want to head home. I’ve been sending letters to my brother, Bankai, lately. We’re looking forward to reuniting!”

“I’m very glad to hear that.” Rose replies.

“I really have to thank you for that, Rose. You made a pretty big decision, but I think it’s for the best. I’m so, so thankful that I can go back to my home country with no fear of being arrested.” Balthazar says.

Rose nods, blushing slightly. “I… simply did my job, and found the truth. I am happy for you, Balthazar. I hope you and Bankai can live happy lives.”

“Are you going back to Yellow Comet?”

“I am.” Rose says. She stares at the floor, then back up at Balthazar with a faint smile. “I have come to love this army, which is why I elected to stay even after proving your innocence. Everyone here is so kind. I owe them my support for this final battle.”

“I understand that. I feel exactly the same. These guys have been so kind to us!”

Rose nods. She picks up a random envelope from the table nearby, looks at it, then tosses it into a nearby mailbag.

“We shall support them until the end. And once it is done, we’ll go back to Yellow Comet. I’ve already heard tell that I may be up for a promotion in the ranks due to my performance and devotion to this money laundering case.”

“Oh, that’s amazing! I guess you must be excited to get back.” Balthazar replies. Rose nods, but in her mind, she’s picturing the teddy bear that is currently sitting in her room, lying on her bed.

“I am. But I shall miss some of these people. They have been so very special to me… I shall make sure to keep in touch, through letters such as these.”

“That sounds like a good idea. You and Tina are pretty close, huh?”

“Yes, we are… I will miss her the most.” Rose replies.

Balthazar walks to the door of the mail room, and turns back to Rose with a smile. “Thank god for letters, huh? We won’t let these ties we’ve made be broken so easily!”

“Indeed. Tomorrow, we shall repay our debt to the Orange Star Army.”


Von Panzer and Patrick, walking into the barracks’ bar to get a drink before the battle, spot Gordon, awkwardly perched on one of the booths, holding a camera steady as he points it at the window.

Herr Gordon? What are you doing?” asks Von Panzer, tilting his head.

Gordon, taken by surprise, jerks back and falls onto the booth’s soft seating, still holding his camera aloft to prevent it from being damage. “Gah! Heavens, you took me by surprise.”

He frees himself from the booth and stands before the other two. “I just saw the rain and the light playing off of each other in a cool way, so I wanted to try and snap some pictures! I wasn’t really able to do it justice, though.”

“Oh, um, you’re a photographer.” Patrick says. “I forgot…”

“Yeah, I like to take pictures! I’m not really much of a professional, but I’d love to be in the future. I’ve already offered to take pics for Wilbert and Tina’s eventual wedding! You know, provided we all...” he says, trailing off.

“Hah! That is a good plan, ja. I am sure you will all get to see it come to fruition. Worry not!” Von Panzer replies.

“Say, Von Panzer, I really wanted to ask…” Gordon says. “Is your name actually Von Panzer? It seems like a strange name. I just… was interested.”

“You look similar to the troops that we’ve been fighting, too.” murmurs Patrick. “Not that I was implying anything, but…”

Nein, nein, you are both right.” Von Panzer replies with a heavy sigh. “I was a mercenary. Hired, along with most of this Sturm’s army, to fight and kill for him. Eventually I tired of the killing for no reason. It was not what I wanted to do.”

“Oh, I see. So you went to Orange Star?” asks Gordon.

“I did. I took my Abteilung and defected from Sturm. I knew that Sturm would find me if I kept my name, so I decided to go by my Nachname - Panzer.”

“Oh. I get it. So your last name is Panzer?” replies Patrick.

Ja.” Von Panzer replies. “I am Mathis Von Panzer, or Mathis. But these days, I do not mind being called merely Von Panzer. It has a certain… appeal.”

“Well, we’ll keep that on the downlow, don’t worry.” Gordon replies.

Patrick nods, musing on what he has been told. “I guess tomorrow’s fight is even more troublesome for you then… fighting against your old employer.”

“He must be stopped.” Von Panzer says. “That is all.”

“We’ll do all we can to stop him.” replies Gordon seriously.

Von Panzer nods. “Nachdrücklich! But first… a drink.”

“You read my mind.” says Gordon, grinning. “Let’s relax for the next few hours!”


I try and steady my nervous fingers as they tap on the table in my office in the same rhythm as the rain pattering on my window. The lights are low; the office is dimly lit. I’m tired. Went in to do some work, but once the first lot of paperwork was done, I couldn’t shake my thoughts, and so I’ve just been sat here, doing nothing.

I shouldn’t have to worry tomorrow. There’s no way they’ll give me the order, right? There’s plenty of COs to fight, and they already said they don’t need me.

So why do I feel so nervous?

I can do it, if asked. I know I can. But knowing you can do it and proving it are two very different things.

Nell… until we meet again, I promised I would fight. I clench my hand into a fist, and stare at it for a while. Sometimes, I’m surprised at how far I’ve come. A few months ago, I was an ACO training under Nell, doing simple battles against Blue Moon. Since then, I’ve had to fight through Blue Moon, Yellow Comet and Green Earth in a desperate campaign. Never had a moment’s peace.

But I’ve won. Every time, I’ve won. And I’ll keep winning if they need me to.

“My dude.”

I look up. Lucy is stood in the doorway of my office; she gives me a soft smile.

“Lucy.” I reply, giving her a quick wave.

“You need to get to bed. Big day tomorrow!”

“...Yeah.” I say. “Yeah, alright, I’ll get some sleep.”

We walk down the corridor. Lucy, as usual, chatters as we walk.

“I spoke to my dad and Ingo. It seems they’re both ready to bring their best tomorrow!”

“That’s good to hear.”

“Everyone else is nervous or excited, but either way, I think everyone’s aware of how important tomorrow’s battle is.”

“No kidding.”

“We’re going to do our best.”

“Of course.” I reply. Lucy falls quiet for a moment, then turns to me.

“Are we going to win?”

I stare at her. For a minute, I want to tell her how I really feel about this coming battle.


I lie, instead.