Part 28: Interview 14 BonusThe Barracks 14 - Memoriam
“I can’t believe it.” murmurs Ivan. “Leo…”
“I tried to save him.”
Boris turns to the speaker, Dimitri, who is sitting morosely in the main barracks room. He barely looks up when Diana storms in. Alina and Zlata are following close behind.
“Don’t sit there like you feel something, filled with false pity!” spits Diana, glaring at Dimitri. “This isn’t the first time your failure has allowed someone to die, is it?”
Dimitri’s knuckles whiten as he grips his knees, refusing to meet Diana’s gaze.
“Hey, now. Let’s not get too aggressive, shall we?” Ivan says, but he can already see that Diana is far past niceties.
Boris scoffs. “Come on, Ivan. First Wanda, now Leo.”
“I really didn’t wanna have to do this, you know.” Dimitri says. He eyes the group around him, and sighs. “She asked me to keep it a secret, but… let me tell you what happened on that mission where Wanda fell.”
The group fall silent. This is the first time Dimitri has ever spoken about the events in the Alara region. Zlata sits beside him, hoping that whatever he’s about to say will in some way clear his name.
“Me and Wanda didn’t get along, I think everyone knew that. She would constantly go for suicidal plans that we just barely made it out of alive. The Alara region mission was no different - she charged into the fray whilst I was catching up. We got caught by a couple of Orange Star soldiers and both of us went down.
“I crawled over to Wanda; she had the first-aid kit on her. She handed it to me. I said ‘Why are you giving this to me? You’re leader. You take it.’ She laughed at me, and I still remember what she said. ‘You know, Dimitri, I like you. You really do have the Olaf Mercenaries’ best interests at heart, don’t you?’ I shrugged, but she had more to say.
“‘Dimitri, I’m dying. I don’t mean from this damn bullet wound. I have a degenerative disease, everyone in my family has it. The older I get, the worse it’ll become. But I don’t want to be like them; I wanna die how I choose. I want to die on the battlefield.’ she said to me. She shuddered, and I realised that her wound was getting worse, but she still wouldn’t let me treat it. ‘That’s why you always have such suicidal plans.’ I said to her.”
Dimitri lets out a heavy sigh. At this point, even Diana and Boris are staring at him as if seeing him in a whole new light.
“She laughed. ‘Yup. I’m chasing my own death, Dimitri, and it seems today I’ve finally found it. I don’t want them to know that, though. I want them to remember me as their fearless leader… not as somebody selfishly searching for their own death.’ Then she handed me the first-aid kit and pointed to my bullet wound. ‘You aren’t here to die, though. Take this, and patch yourself up. When you get back, you’ll lead them. And you’ll do better than me because you actually care about seeing them all make it out alive.’
“I said to her, ‘I won’t tell a soul. I’ll say you died gloriously.’ She smiled at that, but she never got to reply. She’d already passed on. So… I took the first-aid kit and dressed my bullet wounds. I picked her up, and took her body back to base. And then at the funeral… well, I’m sure you guys remember. I said I was going to be the next leader, and then the accusations about me murderin’ her came flying, and… Olaf’s Mercenaries broke up, pretty much.”
Dimitri falls silent for a moment as he allows everyone in the room to process the information.
“That’s what really happened. I was honourin’ her wishes by not telling you, but… that backfired. So now you know.”
He stands up and begins to walk out of the barracks room, willing himself not to let his tears fall until he is alone in his own room.