Darkness folds over his eyes. Breathe. Listen to the sound of gunfire, of screams, and explosions in the distance. The frantic yells of a commanding officer.
“Get up private! Your empire needs you!”
He opened his eyes, breathing in the ash stricken air of the wasteland. Through the cracked lenses of his mask, he could just about make out the form of the major. Both of them were clad in the blacks and greys of the Reich uniforms. Both had that familiar coal-scuttle helmet. Both wore a gasmask.
“Just beyond that ridge! Victory will be ours!”
He didn’t recall getting up. But in that next moment, he was charging forward by the side of the officer and the rest of his comrades. He didn’t care for the sounds around him, choosing to ignore the bullets and the screams.
An explosion rocked the ground near him, sending limbs and gore flying. Blood splattered across his helm.
Just keep moving forward.
There, a trench choke full of Albion soldiers. Machine guns roared, gunning down troopers with no distinction. A grenade sails overhead, silencing it and those manning forever. Rifles cracked to life as they got closer.
“Bayonets ready! Char-”
The officer’s last words filled his ears as another explosion filled his world. He recalled flying through the air, before crashing down to the blood soaked mud.
He recalled the sounds of fighting, of a fierce melee in the trenches as soldiers amassed and fought. Dying screams filled the air amidst the battlecries of troopers.
“For the Kaiser! For Reich! Albion stands!”
Yet all he could feel was an immense wave of drowsiness as thoughts of sleep wandered into his mind. He felt his eyes drooping shut as the sounds of battle were slowly drowned out.
Perhaps sleep wouldn’t be so bad. It would almost be a relief after all this fighting. If only that blasted noise could stop…
As he drifted off to the unknown, he could’ve sworn that a change had happened. The mud was awfully soft. And the noise seemed to have actually quieted down. Was this…
Emerald eyes opened. Breathe. Those years were gone now, taken away when the new Kaiserin of Reich vied for peace and ending the seven year long war. It was just another dream, one of many he had these nights.
He was not in the muddy wastelands of Europa. Nor was he in the midst of fighting and war. No. He was instead in a small steel room, lying comfortably on a small bed. A desk was pushed up against a wall, laden with books and papers .A half open wardrobe. It wasn’t the best of accommodations, but it was one nonetheless.
Quietly, the soldier sits up on his bed, wincing at a few creaks in his back. He stretches, ignoring the knocking on his door and the female voice calling out his rank as he stands. Time for a new day, he supposed.
“I’m coming.” He approaches the wardrobe, and opens it, revealing the very same grey uniform he wore during those war stricken years, albeit cleaned up and updated.
With a sigh, he put it on with haste, almost relieved at the comfort to be back in a uniform again. A quick look in the mirror, and soon, he had opened the door, revealing the youthful face of the trooper.
“Lieutenant von Lorica, sir!” she snapped to attention, which was returned. Seeing no reason to hold him up, she spoke. “Colonel Schmidt wishes to meet you on the bridge. We’re making touchdown on Port Weiss soon, sir.”
He nods and waves her off, dismissing her. “At ease, get some food, and thank you for informing me of this.” Whatever else she did was tuned out as he stepped out of his room and into the steel hallways of the Reich Airship Siegfried.
Walking through them revealed no further enlightenment. A few crewmembers nodded at him as he walked by, though he encountered no fellow soldiers. Perhaps they were all in the mess hall. In less than five minutes, he had entered the bridge.
Instantly, he was greeted by the sounds of working pilots and mechanics. The chatter of the crew as they eased into their flight. The whirs and hums of machinery and screens.
And then, there was the view. Past the glass screens, the skies, untainted by smoke or smog. Clouds drifted lazily past as the vast expanse of the bright blue sky stretched for what seemed to be an eternity.
For a moment, he loses himself in the beauty. Truly, airships were one of the greatest miracles of the Age of Steam. Even now, he was still surprised how this hunk of metal stayed flying.
“Ah. Good morning lieutenant,” the words snapped him out of his reverie, and the soldier stood at attention to his superior officer. “Colonel Schmidt.”
Irvin Schmidt was a tall individual. Pale and blue eyed, with dark blonde hair and smooth features. His dark grey uniform contrasted with his bright features. The commander nodded and gestured for him to come over.
“I suppose you’ve heard of our assignment?” he inquired. To his side, a brown haired officer with dark eyes stared. Lieutenant Colonel Hans Meyer. While he never got along with the younger officer, he admired his sound head for tactics. Irvin however, was another matter entirely.
“Yes sir,” he replies. His thoughts wandered. Behind them, a flock of birds flew past the screens. Idly, he wondered what it would be like to fly like them. To be free and unidbidden by the duty that burdened him. Those thoughts are quashed by the words from the fourth officer who had joined their group.
“Those damn rebels really don’t know when to quit do they?”
Irvin said nothing, but Hans flinched at his harsh words. He always was a soft man. “Richter. Mind your words,” he lightly scolded. “We’re supposed to act professional.”
Captain Arnold Richter was anything but a professional man. His features were tanned and rugged from years of fighting, his dark hair cut short and his beard even shorter. The man scowled and folded his arms. “You know I’m right.”
A brief silence ensues. He supposed he was. The rebellion was far more fierce than what the government or the military had expected. So much so that the uprising had spread to the colonies.
Any reply he had in mind was soon cut off by the captain of the ship, who approached them, her bright eyes gleaming with amusement. “If you fine gentlemen would allow me to interrupt, we’re almost at port. I suggest getting your troops ready to disembark. We’re on a schedule.”
Irvin nods and gestures for the trio to get ready. “I will, captain,” he said nothing else, and it was clear they were dismissed. “Pardon me for cutting this short. We’ll talk again when we land.Get some breakfast while you still can.” Nods and ‘yes sirs’ were his reply, and soon they found themselves marching towards the corridor to the mess hall.
“And Fabian,” Irvin spoke. The lieutenant stops, startled by the older man’s call. “Try to get more rest.”
For a moment, Fabian von Lorica stood on the bridge, waiting for the colonel to say something else. But when no other words came, he sighed, and made his way to the mess hall. Partially to gather the troops and partially so that he could get some more sleep after a quick meal.
If he closed his eyes, he could still see the blasted wasteland of the fields.