Part 89: Interview 44 BonusBarracks 44 - Friends, Old and New
Though most soldiers are content to simply rest in the joint camp, awaiting the battle to come, some have decided to get some last-minute training as the moon begins to rise, lighting the ground in moonbeams as the sounds of training guns can be heard, slamming into targets.
Fliss is holding her rifle steady, and every shot she fires meets the mark, striking the direct centre of the target ahead of her. Bullseye after bullseye.
“You’re a natural.” says a voice behind her, and Fliss gasps and nearly drops her gun. She turns to see an older woman, boasting blue hair and matching fingerless gloves, observing her.
“Oh, um… I suppose I’m OK…” Fliss murmurs. The woman extends her hand.
“I’m Elena - Blue Moon Army.”
Fliss shakes her hand, giving her a nervous smile. “I’m F-Fliss… I’m with Orange Star.”
“You shoot like a professional. How long have you been trained in gunplay?”
“A… a year or two…”
Elena’s eyebrows shoot up. “Wow. Well, not bad. I’m a pretty decent sharpshooter myself - would you like some advice?”
“Oh, um, sure. Anything that can help me…” Fliss says, trailing off. “I… struggle to kill. I can aim, but…”
Elena nods, striding over and pulling the gun out of Fliss’ hands, holding it reverently. “That’s quite understandable. This is a weapon designed to take human lives, and that is all it’s designed to do. To wield it without feeling turmoil in your heart… that isn’t natural. When you hold it, you are acutely aware of what it can do.”
Fliss looks at Elena, her eyes wide. She’s never heard anyone so succinctly sum up her feelings about guns before.
“Yes, that’s… that’s exactly it!”
“What you need to do, Fliss, is change your perspective.” Elena explains. “You know that it can kill. But… by using it, you can also protect. It is a tool of safeguarding. Every shot you fire, if you aim true, ensures that your country remains safe. And when it comes to Black Hole, nobody’s certain that they’re even human, so you can fire with impunity. When you hold it, you must be aware of how it can protect as well as kill.”
“Protect as well as kill…” murmurs Fliss. Elena hands the rifle back to her and she stares down at it, thinking about her sister, Fleur. Every shot would protect her. “Nous continuons.”
“I can give some practical advice, too. Your stance is alright, but I fear that after long periods of time, it would cause your arm to ache. Try holding it like this instead…”
On the other side of the training field, where a few soldiers are hanging out, a disturbance suddenly arises when a coat-wearing youngster marches through, barking out orders.
“Out of my way! Move! I know she’s here somewhere!”
Michael spots the girl, and recognises her, giving a grin. “Rose! I know who you’re looking for. Come with me.”
Rose follows after Michael, and though she tries not to show it, she’s positively vibrating with excitement. Finally, they reach a particular tent, and Michael opens it up, allowing Rose to enter.
Tina turns to spot Rose standing before her, and gives a wide, motherly grin. “I was wondering when you were going to come visit me!”
Rose stares at the ground. “Tina. I’m about to do something incredibly childish, and I’d like to apologise in advance.”
“Come here, you.” Tina replies, opening her arms. Rose joyfully leaps into Tina’s embrace, holding her tightly and trying to fight back her tears. Tina pats her on the back gently.
“I’ve missed you. I’ve missed you so much…” Rose murmurs into Tina’s ear, so quietly that only the older woman can hear it.
“I missed you too, kiddo.” Tina replies. “And I have to say, that’s a pretty sweet coat you’ve got. How’ve you been, huh?”
“I’ve been doing my best to be a competent ACO.” Rose replies, nodding. “But… I play with Marlon a lot. He gets lots of love.”
Tina smiles. “That’s good to hear. Teddy bears need a whole lot of love.”
Michael leans into the tent. “Hey, Tina, you’re sharing this tent with Luce and Selena, right?”
“Yeah, why?” Tina asks. Rose sits in her lap, still hugging her tightly.
“Where’d they get to? I was going to see if anyone wanted to go for drinks with Mulligan and Howard, but I can’t find them anywhere.”
“Hah! Where else?” Tina says, chuckling. “Lucy’s gone to visit my dude. Selena, though, no idea. She just kinda disappears sometimes.”
Indeed, further into the Orange Star area of the joint camp, Lucy has just peeked into my tent and looks at me with a wide smile, her eyes glittering with joy. I’m sat at my makeshift desk, and I give her a wave as I spot her.
“My dude! It’s really nice to see you, you know!”
“You too.” I say, nodding. “Missed you, Luce. Have you been OK?”
Lucy nods, and comes in with a couple of notebooks in her hand. “It’s been so tough without you, but we pulled through! Thank goodness I’ve got Ingo to keep me sane. But I’ve been working hard… and that’s what I wanted to show you!”
“Working hard, huh?” I say, and she puts the notebooks on the table.
“Well, I, uh… I’ve been keeping Lucy Logs of all the battles we’ve been involved in. A blow-by-blow account! That way you can stay up-to-date on the campaign! I, um… I could… read them for you, if you like?”I don’t tell Lucy that I’ve already seen the battles thanks to Ruin’s interviews. I simply nod at her and gesture at the
“That sounds really good to me. Read away, Lucy.”
It’s worth it to see the huge smile on her face as she picks up the first notebook and begins to read.