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Complete Mistaken Enemy

Discussion in 'Dread Wastes' started by Manfred von Richthofen, Dec 10, 2018.

  1. Manfred von Richthofen

    Manfred von Richthofen The Red Baron

    Posts:
    106
    Occupation:
    Owner of The Hanger/Smuggler
    Location:
    In the Skies
    Race:
    human
    Age:
    25
    November 21st-Year 108
    @William J. Blazkowicz

    He was walking Moritz that morning, the sun not quite over the desert Wastes making it bearable enough to walk his dog along the desert path that winded around Seratorra, when the vines dumped the man unceremoniously in front of both human and dog. Seriously: it was so sudden that even the calm and happy Moritz was taken by surprise: barking and whining at the figure now laying in the desert sand.

    Manfred had a choice then, and he knew what Carissa would insist that he do: keep walking, not your business, newcomers needed to be used to the survival of the fittest attitude of Waste Landers anyway……

    So of course he did the exact opposite of that. Instead approaching the large hulk of black, blue, and clearly unconscious. After figuring out the man in question was in no shape to walk on his own, he hoisted him up over his shoulders and with much difficulty…. Carried him back to the hanger with Moritz sniffing at the strange man as they went.

    Carissa was understandably…. Upset. But after Manfred promised he’d be no large trouble well… the clerk merely gave him a prolonged silent treatment as Manfred suck the stranger in his own bed and ran to get the sole medic in the town. After bribing him with the last bottle of Canadian Whiskey (painful), the medic patched the man up, left Manfred with some antibiotics and pain killers, and for the extra price of one pineapple: a wheel chair.

    The stranger was apparently…. Paralyzed from the waist down.

    So Manfred spent the day tending to the man who was now situated in his room rather than doing what he was supposed to be doing that day (smuggling). Carissa was now furious with him…..

    He’d just have to make it up to the woman later….

    Manfred’s ‘room’ was actually an office space in the back of the Hanger. It had no windows, and was tiny with walls made of tin. Despite the cold surroundings he’d tried his best to make it feel like a home. An easy feat for a solider. There was an old wardrobe that had fancy little carving decorations depicting elves in old forest scenes. A desk with neatly organized stacks of paper in proper filed places, a Pandora desk calendar marking important appointments and flight days. There was a big dog-bed with a bowl of water that laid empty as Moritz was currently outside playing fetch with some of the children from Seratorra.

    A side table next to the bed which the mystery man was currently borrowing held three pictures in old frames: items that Manfred had in his plane when he ventured out into this strange place. The first picture was a picture of Manfred with his family: His father and mother sitting down, with their four children one daughter and three sons standing around them. The second picture was of Manfred and his flying circus squad. Lined up in front of a line of planes with Moritz sitting next to Manfred. The third was of Manfred, Friedrich Sternberg, and Werner Voss: just finished with their first ever mission. Friedrich had his arms around Manfred and Werner and was grinning from ear to ear: as he’d just shot down two Frenchmen while Manfred and Werner had just shot down one each.

    The three of them looked so impossibly young in that photo. Perhaps barely eighteen to nineteen between them.

    Beyond the bed that BJ currently lay in, there was something up above. Along the ceiling ran a wide board with a toy train that at the moment, was stopped above the door. But with the wire running down to a switch above the bedframe: clearly it was designed to run the length of the room electronically when it was on.

    Quietly as possible, Manfred opened the door to his room, carefully holding the tray of antibiotics and bowl-of-water with a rag he was balancing, and therefore because of the juggling act he didn’t notice that his guest was in fact awake until he’d shut the door and turned to see him staring from the bed.

    Guten tag… good to see you finally conscious.” Manfred tried to stay cheerful as he made his way to the side table, setting down the tray, ”I know you probably have a lot of questions-“

    He didn’t know why…. But at that moment: the hair stood straight up on Manfred’s neck. The pilot felt the same feeling he’d get when an enemy pilot was sneaking up behind him. And as fast as he could…. Manfred jerked backwards away from the bed as quickly as possible……
     
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  2. William J. Blazkowicz

    William J. Blazkowicz Wolfenstein

    Posts:
    30
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Texas
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    49
    Directory:
    link

    Caroline, has death been quick and painless to you? Have you suffered when that bitch slaughtered you like an animal at the butcher's?
    I promised I would avenge you, but I know revenge is only ever for the survivors, not the gone ones.
    Caroline. This was not how I had wanted to go.
    But we rarely get what we want, only what we deserve.

    The sky went black when the blade's cool traced his neck.
    William felt the blood warm and fresh, running a river down his skin, dripping off the back of his neck onto the cold concrete of grounds that had once been American.
    But the pain was brief, numbing. Distant. Not unlike the first collision of a bullet entering flesh.
    He had imagined a beheading to feel more...raw, more final. Pain like fire licking skin, like legs giving out, explosions shaking the earth. He had imagined it to feel more hopeless, more time-drawn.

    Anya, you knew I was dying. But you didn't know I would die a terrorist in the eyes of monsters disguised as men. I never wanted to leave you alone - you and the kids. I want to see them, hold them, I want to pick their names, with you. But perhaps I want too much.
    I wanted to marry you.
    I still do.
    Please don't grieve over me for too long. I am sorry that I was not strong enough.

    A last time he opened his eyes to skies clear and blue, but somehow seeming grayer now than a moment ago. He thought to feel himself falling, thought to hear the crowd's cheers fade into the distance.
    Mistakenly, he assumed this to be death calling.
    Then, something hit his head. Hard. The pain familiar but not as burning as the shrapnel-accident had felt.
    There wasn't enough time to analyze it, really.
    With the next drawn breath, Blazkowicz lost consciousness.

    ____________________
    ____________________
    A distant, soft humming, and warm but clean air.
    An ache was throbbing in his temples, a tingling in his fingers as he clenched his fist experimentally before relaxing the muscles again.

    He was thinking. He was aware.
    Could it be...?

    Opening his eyes was a pain, an exhausting, draining stir, but William did it anyway, because he had never been one to close his eyes to all that ached.
    A small room, hardly a room at all, but arranged in smart ways to provide the most possible comfort. It reminded him of the submarine, the lights they've put up all across the place, the pictures and blankets and scribbled paintings of Max.

    Mama, is this hell? It's too peaceful. But it cannot be heaven, I know.

    Framed pictures decorated the side table next to what appeared to be a bed that he was occupying. William raised his head just enough to be able to look at the images - there were people he didn't know, but he recognized their attire. Soldiers.
    Pilots. A family, too, not uniformed - that shot appeared to be older, it showed more traces of the years it might have seen. None of the faces he recognized.
    His glance took in the photographs carefully, jumping from one to the next as if the details would reveal a story he couldn't know.
    He looked at those smiling young men, proud, grinning, likely having shed first blood. He knew this smile. He's worn it himself, many years ago, before bitterness and grief had erased misplaced pride.

    Planes lined up behind a group of pilots, some of them having already appeared on the other photograph. The shades of the planes seemed different, thought the pictures were not in color.
    They looked old, dated. Nothing like the machines he's been flying. Nothing like the giants of the skies he's seen.
    But they wore familiar symbols nonetheless.
    German.
    The planes were German. Wearing crosses he's seen before, the smiling men suddenly claiming a different light to them than just a moment before.

    Caroline, do you copy still? I am not visiting you yet - the nightmare's just runnin' on. May I have your wings for just a little while longer?

    The distant, quiet sound of steps incoming settled past the conversations with the dead. Instinct kicked in fast, eyes scanning the room for anything he could reach, and landing on a small knife abandoned against a plate and a glass to his right. It was better than nothing.
    He's escaped a Nazi jail with little more than a broken off pipe. A knife was five steps ahead of a rusty pipe.

    There was no way to tell what had happened while he's been out. He thought to have felt Engel's blade against his skin, certain his silent goodbye would be the last thought his brain would form while still connected to his body. But the pain had never quite set in, and the blade had merely left a cut on the side of his neck, which seemed impossible all by itself unless Engel had somehow stumbled aside while swinging that sword.
    Or somebody had pushed her.
    And yet.... he was still there.
    Someplace else, but still there, in their grasp, within their walls.
    Not for much longer.

    Guten Tag
    The door was pushed open.
    William's grasp tightened around the knife. It took no more than a swift, well aimed motion, and the cutlery was flying towards the German.
    "Nazi scum."
    His voice was scratchy, and even the mere mumble of those words ached in his throat. The quick movement of sitting up for proper aim had made him dizzy, but this was not a first-time situation for him.

    William saw the man jerk backwards but it was too late to do anything about it.
    And there was one important aspect he's forgotten - he couldn't walk.

    It was like waking up in the submarine all over again.
    He's managed to get to his feet in a swift, fluent motion - muscle memory. And he's reached out to grasp for the Nazi's shoulder, knife positioned just right in his free hand to stab that piece of shit straight in the neck so he'd choke on his own blood.
    But the moment the German jerked away, William's hand missing the other's shoulder with a mere inch or two, his legs gave out beneath him.

    B. J. was quick enough to twist the wrist of the hand holding the knife - just enough so the blade may hit flesh after all, at least cut open the scumbag's arm, before William collided with the floor harshly, shoulder first. He felt the pain shoot up his back, dig into his head where the metal splinter had been stuck for a long time now.
    He drew in a sharp breath.

    The old and the weak are doomed

    The sensation of a blade being dug into his insides spread like a sickness he couldn't shake. He was falling apart, could feel the blood pumping not quite the way it was supposed to, his organs not enough to keep this body going.
    Dead man walking. I am falling to pieces. Could this be death? Is this hell, after all?

    The knife remained in his hand, clutched tight enough to paint his knuckles white. Even with his vision swimming around the edges for just a moment, William was already aiming that knife at the German's achilles tendon anew.

     
  3. Manfred von Richthofen

    Manfred von Richthofen The Red Baron

    Posts:
    106
    Occupation:
    Owner of The Hanger/Smuggler
    Location:
    In the Skies
    Race:
    human
    Age:
    25
    ”Nazi Scum”

    Manfred’s hunch had been right: jerking away from the bed in a mad-scramble: the feeling of a hand just grazing his shoulder as he moved away in a twirl, tripping slightly over his own feet and feeling something sting at his forearm like a bee.

    He continued stumbling backward, back hitting the wood of the wardrobe hard enough to make the thing rattle loudly. Though hardly as loud as how the big man he’d rescued hit the floor, the toy train above them rattling along with the tin walls.

    Manfred let out a hiss of pain: the back of his head hitting the wardrobe where he’d stumbled. The tell-tale signs of a migraine emanating from the old war-wound as he clutched at his head. Scheiße He muttered, ignoring the shallow cut in his arm for now. In comparison the pain in his head was always, always a hell of a lot worse. ”What the hell?!”

    The man on the floor pointed the knife at his heel with all the threat as one who was standing there. Manfred rubbed at his head, irritated slightly: ”You know you can leave at any time, right? For fuck’s sake….” He grumbled, wondering if Carissa had been right all along about taking in strangers. Carefully moving away from the wardrobe and along the wall with just enough distance that the man on the ground couldn’t reach him as he made his way carefully over to the door….

    …. Only to realize that he couldn’t quite get to the door without passing the man’s feet. He stopped and thought about it:

    Okay: so clearly the man had been through some trauma. Perhaps he’d been tortured, given the state of his wounds. Manfred raised his arms carefully in surrender…. Despite clearly having the upper hand being that A) he could walk and B) the other man’s wounds would make him slightly slower.

    Slightly, apparently.

    ”…… Okay: start over.” He intoned carefully, pointing to the door, ”Outside I have a wheelchair for you….. just let me get to the door. I’ll roll you out of the Hanger. You can go wherever you want: Lethe, Horizon…. Wherever you want to roll to.” He held up his arms pointedly: ”You are not a prisoner here.”

    He gestured towards the tray where the antibiotics and painkillers were. ”Or…. You can stay and rest up a bit more. Got pain killers….. antibiotics….. Your choice……”
     
    #3 Manfred von Richthofen, Dec 10, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018
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  4. William J. Blazkowicz

    William J. Blazkowicz Wolfenstein

    Posts:
    30
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Texas
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    49
    Directory:
    link

    The room rattled, walls shaking, the sound of the tin trembling like a rain of bullet shells against pavement. Like the sound of guns being fired in the submarine.
    Armor hitting the floor, corpses falling like ash-painted snow.

    He heard the German cuss, saw him reach for his head as if to prevent an ache that had no way of being avoided.
    Blood was staining the Nazi's arm - not enough. Never enough for what they've taken.
    Steps carefully crossing distance towards the door while William pushed himself up into a sitting position once realizing he wouldn't be able to reach the other from where he was anymore. But the weapon remained in his hand - he could throw a knife as well as he could fire a gun, one step closer to that door and he'd send that knife straight into the bastard's eye.

    Perhaps he would have spoken that threat aloud, had the other man not suddenly paused, seeming to have changed his mind on reaching that door. Clearly wary of Blazkowicz - as he should be.
    The Nazi raised his hands in a gesture of surrender, and William nearly huffed in disgust.
    Beg all you want, I will not spare you.

    It would have taken no more than another second for the knife to be thrown - but luck seemed to be on Manfred's side, for he spoke up right the instant that B. J. tensed his arm to throw the weapon.
    The knife never left his hand.
    You are not a prisoner here

    Was this a trick?
    William clenched the knife tighter, as if it would have answers for him. As if it would help him understand why the other would be saying that, whether there was truth behind his words. Would just help him understand.

    Caroline, how did you judge truth from lie? How did you know when a man was of good intent, even if his accent promised otherwise? Your wisdom has always been more than most could see. Help me.

    Seconds passed by. William stared at the stranger, sharp blue eyes seeming to lose their intent to kill slowly, slowly.
    The silence stretched as neither of the men moved, neither made an attempt at attacking.
    "..Horizon?"

    Count to four. Inhale. Count to four. Exhale.

    Blazkowicz lowered the knife.
    His head was throbbing with pain, pieces of information refusing to add up in any pattern recognizable, and he was tired, so tired.
    Horizon, Lethe - he's never heard of these places before, not even the taste of those names upon his tongue was familiar to him.
    He's seen Nazis surrendering. He's seen them beg and flee and attempt to manipulate him - but they were a bunch of pathetic, stupid assholes. More pride than brain cells, and it was easy to recognize their motives and intentions.
    This? This didn't feel right.
    And his gut - though there wasn't much of it left - was telling him that this wasn't quite right.

    "Where is Anya?"
    It seemed he had asked this question too often already, too often had he been so close to losing her. It tasted bitter, like failure. Like something he didn't think he deserved.
    What she needs you cannot provide, old man.
    But she would always be his main concern. Before there was need to understand anything else, there would always be the need to know whether she was well.

     
    #4 William J. Blazkowicz, Dec 10, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018
  5. Manfred von Richthofen

    Manfred von Richthofen The Red Baron

    Posts:
    106
    Occupation:
    Owner of The Hanger/Smuggler
    Location:
    In the Skies
    Race:
    human
    Age:
    25
    There was a moment of silence as the man eyed Manfred as if he was debating which proper way to kill him. Shit: Manfred was good enough in a hand-to-hand fight. He’d had the training at least: though a pilot he’d started off trained in the Calvary. Before horses became outdated in this newest war, and planes took over where a horse would be. The sky instead of a field of battle.

    Still Manfred really didn’t want to pay the medic to come back and look the man over. And he didn’t want to fight him….. or hurt him or end up hurt himself. Clearly the man on the ground was deadly even paralyzed and hurt. And Manfred wasn’t foolish enough to think that just because he had working legs meant that he had some kind of upper hand.

    Finally: the man spoke. A question with the word ‘Horizon’, and lowered the knife. An action which allowed Manfred to breath slightly, lowering his own hands but keeping the palms face up for the other man to see. Okay….. progress.

    Ja…… it’s a city beyond the mountains to the north. Or…. Maybe Centuria would be better? Good hospitals there, better doctors…..”

    Though Manfred would have to fly him there. And the man wasn’t really…. In the best shape to travel. He should really rest up first, or at least that’s what the medic advised. Really he shouldn’t be wheeling his way to Lethe all on his own either. At this point Manfred was just trying to assure the man that he had every choice to leave if he wanted.

    Then the man asked another question: a name. And despite the situation, Manfred felt pity flash through his blue eyes. He’d wanted to know where his men were, too. Where his brother was, his cousin, his wingmen….. his family. But some in Pandora were not so lucky to have family arrive with them.

    ”I’m sorry.” He told the man softly, ”I don’t…. know who Anya is. You arrived in the desert here, alone….. I don’t even know who you are, honestly…..”

    It wasn’t the best news to hear, he knew. And hopefully he wouldn’t get a knife in the face for it. He figured at this point he would just have to be as honest as possible. He backed up a bit, slowly, so that he was back towards his desk. Away from the door enough to make the man a bit more comfortable.

    ”My name is Manfred von Richthofen.” He started off, slowly and calmly as possible. ”We are in a town called Serratora out in the desert. In a Hanger I use as a trading depot. I found you this morning, brought you in, had a medic patch you up. That’s all. No strings…. No imprisonment. You can leave right now if you want.”

    Perhaps if he repeated that the man could leave it’d get through his head eventually.
     
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  6. William J. Blazkowicz

    William J. Blazkowicz Wolfenstein

    Posts:
    30
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Texas
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    49
    Directory:
    link

    Descriptions of places with unknown names, cities and towns he's never stepped foot into, and he's already seen so much of the world, though not much by own choice.
    Germany, Poland, France..... the war scattered wherever it could reach, stretching its ugly fingers over the continents and chasin' them like the little tin soldier William's once jumped into a pond for.
    The pond had never been this dark. The well his father forced him to climb into never this deep.

    I don't know who Anya is
    The breath he was releasing staggered.
    The man continued to speak of deserts and doctors, but William was only partly paying attention. He felt his heart slip out of its spot beneath his ribcage, thought he heard it pause for just a moment too long.

    Count to four. Inhale.

    Anya wasn't here. She has not been here with him, in this... desert, apparently. This man hadn't seen her, didn't know where she was.
    Perhaps it meant she had escaped with the rest, was safe somewhere deep below the sea in the submarine. Or up in the sky in one of their helicopters.

    Count to four. Exhale.

    She had to be safe. She and the twins, and William thought he would pray like he hadn't done in too many years, because he did not know what else to do.
    Go out and look for her, that was what he wanted to do. But the world was swimming, and this man was speaking of things he's never heard of, and Anya had not been with him, if he could trust this Nazi's word.

    The knife softly touched the floor as he released the weapon without hurry, forcing his fingers away from the handle, blue eyes darkening in a frown for a moment.
    Caroline, I know I am selfish, greedy. I know I am asking for too much. But keep her safe, please. There is nobody else I can ask. If you still have strength, give it to her, to our twins.

    "I'm William Joseph Blazkowicz. Sorry about that."
    A medic. That bad, huh? Again being patched up, again trying to hold together what would inevitably fall apart.
    I am dying. You are wasting time and effort, Nazi

    "Made bad experiences with Germans."
    The short explanation didn't delve into detail, but he didn't want to. There were things more worthwhile to be speaking of so long as relative quiet lasted. Matters of war would never grow old, but William was tired of having nothing else to speak of.

    He reached out a hand towards the other in an offer for a handshake, wary still, but recognizing his wrong-doing.
    "Thank you, for the care."

     
  7. Manfred von Richthofen

    Manfred von Richthofen The Red Baron

    Posts:
    106
    Occupation:
    Owner of The Hanger/Smuggler
    Location:
    In the Skies
    Race:
    human
    Age:
    25
    Manfred waited, like he had cornered a rabid animal and was waiting for it to calm enough to make a move. Anything short of that was asking for that knife to be thrown or for something else to be up the stranger’s sleeve. He knew that in Pandora you could get all types of super-powered folk. All he needed was for the paralyzed man to have some sort of…. Bullshit explosion power.

    Finally though…… finally the man set down the knife. Manfred’s shoulders relaxed, though he was still careful where he put his hands. The man had just about stabbed him to death so he figured he ought to stay a little wary. Wouldn’t be making the same mistake of cheerfully telling a previously comatose man ‘good day’ now would he?!

    William Joseph Blazkowicz…. An Eastern European name with an American accent. The Americans had just started to join the fight when Manfred was…. pulled into Pandora. Still: the man had called him something that he’d heard before. He just couldn’t quite put his finger on the term, or where exactly he’d heard it said in the same righteous anger.

    He ventured a small smile as he mentioned he had bad experiences with Germans. ”Well….. on behalf of my countrymen: I deeply apologize for their asshole-behavior, whatever it was.” Manfred himself had nothing against the British, French, nor Canadians he flew against. In fact: he made it a point to treat his enemy soldiers with respect and dignity. It meant that he’d shoot a plane down, land next to it if it was on neutral ground, and after the pilot was confirmed alive and safe he’d share a drink and point the Frenchie or Canadian to their side of the front.

    A feat that earned him respect…. But also chagrin at least from Berlin. Perhaps he was just a better example of a German. Or a poor one: who knew.

    Then from the floor: the man held out a hand for a handshake, thanking him for the care. Manfred hesitated: eyeing the hand with understandable wariness. He’d promised himself not to be an idiot and yet…..

    Fuck it: if he stabs me I fucking deserve it for my stupidity, I guess. Manfred stepped forward carefully and grasped his hand with ‘William Joseph Blazkowicz’s in a handshake. ”Don’t mention it…. Let me help you up-“

    A knock on the door, followed by it opening, caused Manfred to look over to see Carissa peek her head in. The woman was darker skinned (Manfred thought she was of African decent except…. She was from a world where Africa did not exist), freckles dusting across her face. Her eyes were a gleaming purple as she eyed the scene in front of her with severe disapproval.

    Her hoodie was up over her head. A hoodie that covered up two short purple horns: something Manfred knew she covered up during the day…. Christ knows Manfred wouldn’t have known they were there except that he’d been around her enough.

    ”…… When you are done fucking around playing nurse maid, I’ve got a list of orders you are running tomorrow to Centuria.” She grumbled, eyeing the man on the ground with clear disdain. ”Why’s he on the ground?”

    Manfred smiled easily: ”Fell out of bed…. Would you mind helping me get him back up? Bring in the wheel chair that’s in the hallway maybe?”

    Carissa let out a groan of annoyance, rolling her eyes as she turned and opened the door all the way, dragging the wheelchair in with clear annoyance as she placed it in front of the two men with the air of having done some great thing out of her way that was annoying to her.

    Manfred ignored her annoyance, smiling still: Danke…. Put the orders on the desk for me. I’ll set out first thing tomorrow morning.”

    Carissa did so and, without another look or care about the man on the floor, marched on out the room: leaving the door open to the odd dark shapes and light of the Hanger beyond.

    ”….. Don’t mind her. She’s irritated at me.” Well: if he hadn’t been stabbed yet there was hope it seemed. He carefully wrapped his arm around the man and lifted, managing with only a slight strain to get him into the wheel chair. ”…. Okay….. anything busted back open that I need to knit back up?”

    Manfred said this…. All while ignoring the blood staining his shirt sleeve.
     
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  8. William J. Blazkowicz

    William J. Blazkowicz Wolfenstein

    Posts:
    30
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Texas
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    49
    Directory:
    link

    On behalf of my countrymen: I deeply apologize for their asshole-behavior, whatever it was
    This couldn't be. Everybody knew what the Germans had done, it was not hard to miss, and no matter how remote this desert may be - this man had to be insane.
    Or perhaps suffering from amnesia.
    Nothing about the situation added up, and it made his head ache. But it ached most of the time, these days.

    If only an apology would be enough.
    But no apology could make up for the lives that had been taken, abused, wiped off the face of the earth. No apology could justify the violence and cruelty, all the things he's seen, all the things he was perhaps lucky to not have seen.
    Yet, if this man was truly suffering from memory loss in some form, the apology was a kind gesture. Maybe enough to make it through this day.
    So William remembered how to smile, at least somewhat, because there was not much else he could do.

    The wary glance towards his offered hand was one that made his smile widen just a hint - he knew that look, knew that this handshake could easily have been an opening for an attack.
    He didn't take it as offense. Only the stupid ones trusted blindly.
    Or those who were in love.

    Help me up. Caroline, when you lost your legs, how long did you take to understand that you did not need them? When I carried you to the helicopter, did you resent me for it?
    But no. Pride would never be what'd ruin you.

    A knock at the door had William's free hand reaching for the knife again - a reflex, not ill intent.
    But when an unknown woman peeked in, eyes of a color too odd to be healthy (radiation, perhaps?), he released the weapon again. Manfred knew her, so he wouldn't harm her.

    It wasn't hard to tell that she wasn't happy with his presence, but something about her annoyance and disdain reminded him of Grace. Another woman hard to get used to, rough around the edges - and not only around the edges. Despite everything, the brief resemblance had him smile.
    He didn't get on with Grace very well, but she had good intentions, and she was a fighter - there were enough reasons there to respect her.

    The wheelchair was a familiar view, but not a pleasant one.
    It was a hard thing to get used to - wake up one day, and not be able to use your legs. Stand, walk, fight. Even in a wheelchair he was a good shot, but it slowed him down. And it made him feel old.
    It made him a burden to the rest, the one who couldn't keep up.

    Caroline, am I too weak for this fight? It's been so many years now. So long since I've been anything other than a soldier. Is it selfish to wish for peace?

    Supporting himself with his free hand against the wheelchair, he tried to help Manfred best he could with getting him off that damn floor.
    "Thank you."
    A short nod, fingers reaching for the wheels just to shy away again from the cold iron there. It felt so different than the firearms he's held. So much colder than all the blood he's spilled.

    "Why's she irritated at you? -Your wife, or...?"
    Manfred had been kind to her, kind enough that perhaps they were merely close friends, or maybe more. It was no business of his, but the silence had a habit to turn bitter and dark, so William kept it at bay when he could feel himself slipping anyway.
    Talking to the dead in his head, instead of the living in front of him.

    anything busted back open that I need to knit back up?
    Blazkowicz spared a quick glance down his own torso, finding no blood there, and no ache of the sort that would have indicated an open wound. All the ache he felt was within, and that couldn't be fixed.
    Then, he nodded towards the other man's arm.
    "Your arm's still bleeding, that'd be a good place to start."

     
  9. Manfred von Richthofen

    Manfred von Richthofen The Red Baron

    Posts:
    106
    Occupation:
    Owner of The Hanger/Smuggler
    Location:
    In the Skies
    Race:
    human
    Age:
    25
    Manfred didn’t know the other man’s thoughts. But to be fair to everyone involved: Manfred was to this man a relic of some distant history. Pages in a history student’s textbook: Of the first World War’s flying aces none other was known as the ‘aces of aces’ than the Red Baron…. He didn’t live to see the next war. He didn’t become enthralled by Hitler’s speeches, he did not join the fight for the fatherland again. He was not the same enemy…

    He’d encountered another man who had called him a word he didn’t understand of course, but the man had not gone into detail. Once Gerold Hirschberg realized he was from 1918, he’d laughed it off as a mistake and Manfred was left with an uneasy feeling of not knowing something important about the Germany he left behind, but feeling almost too afraid to ask Hirschberg much more.

    He’d rather remember the Germany he left than know of what became of his friends and family when his war was over.

    The man was smiling, though. And he hadn’t stabbed him. Perhaps a smarter man would have taken the knife from him but….. Manfred figured it was a sign of good faith. If the man was left with a weapon he would probably be more at ease, as Manfred’s pistol was in his plane he was unarmed. And while he tensed when Carissa entered the room, he relaxed after it was clear there was still no threat.

    All went well: the man was off the floor in his wheelchair no stabbing.

    Now Manfred was left with the awkward understanding that he still needed to give the man the usual ‘Welcome to Pandora: there’s no way Home’ speech. Clearly he was a newcomer: hell Manfred had seen the vines as he had appeared right in front of him. But the poor German didn’t know where to start.

    He was mildly distracted with his question about Carissa: if she was his wife. He let out a slight snort at that: Nein, my clerk. I run a trading outpost. She is in charge of making sure everything runs the way it should….. which: when I chose to trade expensive material to bribe a medic into helping a wounded stranger it understandably irks her…..”

    His problem: not Blazkowicz’s. It was his choice to take him in, and he’d work his ass off later getting more whiskey and what-not. Not the end of the world.

    The pain in Manfred’s head still throbbed: and so he had almost forgotten…. Actually totally forgotten, about his arm until the stranger mentioned it. He glanced down at the wound, actually taking a moment to really look at it for the first time. It wasn’t deep enough that he was in any sort of trouble or needed stitching but…. Well might as well take care of it if his guest was in one piece.

    He shrugged, as if he was used to wounds caused by angry house guests he’d take in, ”Fair enough…..” He said, going over to the side table where he’d had a bowl of water and the medication the medic left him. Before setting to clean it off, though, he grabbed the pain killers and popped one out. Popping the pill in his own mouth for the intense migraine that was starting to form curtesy of the hole in his head (and also showing his jumpy guest that it wasn’t poison), he capped the bottle and tossed it towards BJ: ”Pain killers, if you need them.” He told him, setting about washing the blood off his arm and ignoring the sting as he grabbed some bandages, figuring as he wrapped his wound this was the best place to start:

    ”You are from….. the United States of America?” He asked: the man's accent was yankee despite his Polish last name. ”Can I ask you what the last thing you remember was?” Black vines, being pulled down suddenly….. anything……
     
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  10. William J. Blazkowicz

    William J. Blazkowicz Wolfenstein

    Posts:
    30
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Texas
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    49
    Directory:
    link

    There was a lot of history to be learned on past wars and political conflicts. The Nazis had shifted and adjusted the facts to their own advantage, lying through their teeth about matters others didn't have the proper resources to research.

    William was taking a long time to connect his host's name to his much more famous title, relate the information to a world war that's taken place when he's been but a young child.
    But perhaps he could not be blamed for it - injured and lost, and having missed a big part of the publication of relevant-considered historical tellings due to his head injury, it was not quite as simple for him to connect the dots in the current situation. And though the name may have rang familiar, he wasn't quite grasping why yet.
    Sooner or later, however, it was prone to happen. And it would merely mean another misunderstanding for Manfred to resolve.
    But that was for another time.

    William gave a slow nod towards the explanation, easily accepting that the woman had not been the German's wife. Perhaps he's been raised a little too traditionally, and on occasion it showed.
    when I chose to trade expensive material to bribe a medic into helping a wounded stranger
    It wasn't hard to understand that this wounded stranger was him, and however much the German's had to pay for the medic - clearly it hadn't been cheap.
    There was a sting of guilt in his chest at the knowledge that this man had invested so much into the well-being of somebody he didn't even know. William was grateful, no doubt, but he couldn't help the thought that perhaps those "expensive materials" would have been better off to be spend on somebody else.
    Somebody who would actually recover.

    Even in these times, I can find kindness in people. Is that what kept you going, Caroline? Or have you just forgotten how to stop fighting?

    "Understandably.... maybe I should apologize to her about that later."
    It was a spoken-aloud thought as well as an inquiry. He didn't know this woman, couldn't judge whether she'd care for his apology, or his gratitude.

    William watched the other man reach for what he assumed to be pain killers, and he remembered how the other had been holding his head in pain after backing away against the wardrobe.
    He was - or at least, had been - a pilot, if the photographs were anything to go by. Chances were high that he's suffered a head injury, and those weren't unlikely to lead to amnesia.
    It was a conflicting thought. Because was a Nazi truly free of his guilt just because a head injury's made him forget? He had still committed those crimes, had still participated in those horrors.
    But now he's (probably) forgotten.
    William didn't know how to judge a man as this, in such a situation.
    He knew war always demanded sacrifice, it was always cruel, and rarely rewarding. It took many victims - but whether this man could be a victim, by any definition of that word? This, William would need time to think on.

    For now, it would have to be good enough for him to handle an amnesiac Nazi; as long as Manfred didn't remember, he had no reason to act upon the ideals of his country reign.

    B. J. caught the bottle of pain killers with ease, his reflexes having suffered very little in all these years. For a moment he glanced at the bottle, trying to work out the name of the medication as if he'd know what it was if only he'd have the name.
    Anya may be a nurse, but he wasn't. And they've had matters more relevant to attend to as that she would have had the time to teach him a few medical terms.
    After a moment of consideration, he popped two of them into his mouth and dry swallowed, uncertain whether he wanted to numb the pain or the thoughts in his head.

    "Texas, yeah."
    Was his somewhat absent-minded reply towards the other's first question. For a moment longer he observed the bottle of pills in his hand, before neatly placing it aside.
    And then -

    Can I ask you what the last thing you remember was?

    It was a strange question to ask. But maybe not too strange for an amnesiac. And maybe not too strange for this situation at all.
    For a brief moment, William's blue eyed glance got lost somewhere in the room. Staring at nothing in particular, but rather into a place that did not exist in this moment.

    What he remembered?
    General Engel, the shimmer of a blade beneath clear skies. The humming of a camera drone, the crowd holding their breath....

    I remember the end.

    "My public execution."

    I remember waiting for death, knowing this once I would not escape.

    With the hint of a soft frown, though it didn't speak of terror nor of pain, Blazkowicz looked towards the German.
    "Did I die?"
    There was no reason to ask, he knew. Even if he's died beneath that blade, even if this was what death felt like, there would be no answer that could settle the question.
    No matter what Manfred would say, there wouldn't be a way to reassure himself that it was the truth, or another lie.
    Such questions could not be answered - and yet, he was asking.
    Perhaps the answer didn't matter. Perhaps it just mattered that he had asked.

     
    #10 William J. Blazkowicz, Dec 14, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2018
  11. Manfred von Richthofen

    Manfred von Richthofen The Red Baron

    Posts:
    106
    Occupation:
    Owner of The Hanger/Smuggler
    Location:
    In the Skies
    Race:
    human
    Age:
    25
    Manfred hoped that eventually the man would calm down. He wasn’t sure he was okay giving him the ‘You are in Pandora’ speech while the stranger was still heavy on the knife-trigger-finger, as it were. But eventually the man seemed calm enough. And he seemed to at least accept Manfred’s help at what it was…. As far as he was aware. He had no clue that he thought he was some amnesiac member of a hateful group of Nazis.

    He’d probably laugh, despite himself. Though: he wasn’t really sure what a Nazi even was.

    He mentioned that he would need to apologize to Carissa later. The pilot waved a hand: ”She’s mad at me, not at you. Don’t worry about it.” Carissa would keep giving Manfred the silent treatment as well as a multitude of back-talk until he went out flying again tomorrow morning and brought back something good. Carissa was only in a good mood when he brought back materials to trade, if he thought about it.

    Other than that she was perpetually grumpy.

    The man eyed the pills, before popping two in his mouth without even asking for water. Manfred calmly wrapped his arm, mentally reminding himself to add some antibiotics to it later. If on top of everything else he ended up with an infection Carissa would be well and truly pissed off to high heaven with him.

    Texas….. The state bordering Mexico. At least one of the States that idiot Zimmerman had promised to give back to Mexico if Mexico joined the Central Powers. A telegram, unauthorized by the Kaiser, that had caused the beginning of the end to the war Manfred was involved in. Also he had some vague memory as a child in 1901 of his mother discussing a terrible Hurricane in Texas…. Or was that in Louisiana?

    ”Well… if you couldn’t tell from the accent…..” He teased lightly, not sure if telling an American exactly where he was from in the vast German Empire would really matter at the end of the day. Ah well: all in good faith: ”I’m from Schweidnitz.” Little did he know that what was once apart of the German Empire was Poland in the future.

    Then the man looked off to the side: staring off as Manfred asked him what he remembered last. The pilot took the time to finish wrapping and securing the bandage on his arm, turning his full attention on the brooding individual in the wheelchair. Then the man said it:

    "My public execution."

    Manfred let out a low whistle: ”Well…. That explains why the first thing you did when you woke up was attacking me…” Part of him was wary: why was the man being executed? Not that it mattered here: Pandora governments didn’t acknowledge crimes made in other worlds. And in the Waste it especially didn’t matter.

    And as a solider it wasn’t as if Manfred could condemn the man if he was a murderer. He had at least 80 deaths on his own head after all: ordered or not.

    The man asked if he had died: and Manfred let out a soft sigh, moving over to sit at his desk chair for this lovely part of the conversation. Here it comes…. ‘Welcome to Pandora’…..

    ”…. No. You are no more dead than I am. Though…. You are no longer in the World you remember.” Manfred started, crossing his arms as he leaned back in his seat. ”You have instead been transported….”

    ”You are in a place called Pandora. It is a world that takes people from different times and dimensions at random and brings them here to this space.”

    There it was: the bomb shell. Manfred knew there was always a chance he wouldn’t believe him but…. Well the world was out that door. If he didn’t believe him here he’d believe him soon enough. Moment he left, actually….
     
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  12. William J. Blazkowicz

    William J. Blazkowicz Wolfenstein

    Posts:
    30
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Texas
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    49
    Directory:
    link

    Schweidnitz was a name that took a moment to ring a bell in William's memory. He knew it as Świdnica - a place in Poland, though he's never been there.
    There wasn't much that connected him to the place where his parents had written their own stories. Most of the time he's spend in Poland, he's been stuck in an asylum due to his brain injury. And though he's been well cared for there, awareness had been slippery and hard to grasp, and he's only ever seen the ever same rooms.
    The most polish thing about him was his mother.

    William wasn't too surprised that Manfred would use the city's German name rather than its Polish one - though it only really made the other seem all the more painfully German. Stubborn and unwilling to care for other languages, cultures, heritages.
    Of course, B. J. had no way knowing that his judgement regarding the other man was heavily flawed.
    And even with a polish city named as birthplace, there was no doubt that Manfred was, in fact, German. William didn't think he could ever confuse that accent.
    And to him all of it made sense, still. After all, where he's come from, most of the globe belonged to the Germans. Where somebody came from had little to say in regards to who they actually were; the Nazis were like a pest, taking over everything they could get their hands on, and then calling all of these places their home.

    Manfred had thought right doubting William's ability to judge a German accent's origin in detail, though. Much like most american accents probably sounded the same to them, so did the German accents sound the same to B. J. - he could only tell when somebody was German, never something more location-specific than that.
    But frankly, for a man from his time and place, that was quite enough to go by.

    The low whistle and surprisingly non-threatening remark lured a somewhat amused grunt from the older veteran. He had expected a different response.
    Usually, when somebody admitted to having been sentenced to execution (not that B. J. did so often, mind you...), there were understandably negative reactions to the news. After all, only criminals were executed. Offenders, enemies of the state.
    Manfred didn't appear to be as wary at the news as he perhaps should have been - and it left William wondering whether the man was naive, or merely foolish.

    It wasn't that he wanted Manfred to fear him.
    But perhaps this German accent of his, amnesia or not, was getting beneath William's skin. A steady reminder of an enemy, a representation of all the things he's lost.
    It was hard to just ignore it, or look past it. And one might say Manfred had been lucky to pick up B. J. and not somebody else from that particular time and place, for another might have slaughtered the German on the spot, no second thought.
    William was trying. He had not yet reached the point of believing that people couldn't change, couldn't think for themselves. He knew there was more than heritage, name, or language that defined someone.
    But sometimes it was just a little harder to accept.

    And some things were just a little harder to swallow.

    When Manfred took a seat in the fashion of a man about to share conflicting information, William knew that whatever was to come, would be one of those things hard to swallow.
    But there had been so much of that sort in his life, that B. J. doubted there was much left out there that he wouldn't be able to handle. He's had friends be slaughtered in front of his eyes, had been forced to decide upon their deaths if he wanted to save anyone at all. He's seen all the horrors of war, and all those beyond, and he's attempted to bring war back because it had been the only way he's seen to change the present.

    So when Manfred spoke, clearly picking his words thoughtfully, William leaned back in his wheelchair, resting his hands in his lap because he felt like he'd need the little comfort he could get out of this position very soon.
    You are in a place called Pandora. It is a world that takes people from different times and dimensions at random and brings them here to this space.
    The silence lingered, and he gave the other man the space and time to decide whether he wanted to say more. Only when it seemed for sure that Manfred was done, William broke this quiet with the sound of cracking knuckles, as he thoughtfully applied pressure to his hand there.

    A part of him wanted to laugh. Because sometimes all a man could think to do was laugh, when so little things made sense that the brain simply didn't know how to react.
    But something about the other's explanation sounded oddly rational in its own, screwed up way, and B. J. couldn't find it in him to laugh, after all.

    This is it, Caroline. Are you here, I wonder? Have you found peace in this place? Will I ?

    "That sounds a hell lot like afterlife to me."
    And though there was the slightest hint of a grin tugging at the corner of his lips, the comment was no joke.
    William thought to know now, for sure, that he had died.
    And whoever this man was truly, he, too, was dead.
    There was so much blood on Blazkowicz's hands, he thought he'd go to hell for sure. With all he's done, it was of little relevance that he's been fighting for the right cause. He, too, had killed. He had harmed and taken and surely killed innocents, too, because collateral damage was just a nifty term to cover up the traces of deaths undeserving.

    But he's known that from the start.
    From the moment he's joined the resistance - hell, from the moment he's joined the army, he's known that he'd be going to hell. And somehow the thought hadn't scared him.
    His mother had always said that in the end, everything would be well.
    And he still believed her.

     
    #12 William J. Blazkowicz, Dec 14, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2018
  13. Manfred von Richthofen

    Manfred von Richthofen The Red Baron

    Posts:
    106
    Occupation:
    Owner of The Hanger/Smuggler
    Location:
    In the Skies
    Race:
    human
    Age:
    25
    Perhaps Manfred was naïve. The man clearly had no problem killing someone who had just helped him. What was indeed to stop him from killing Manfred anyway and making off with whatever the fuck he wanted. But perhaps he wanted so desperately to believe that there was good in everyone, or that Pandora was some new fresh start so it didn’t matter what this man had done in his past.

    Or maybe he came from a time period of chivalry and what-not, and he was therefore…. A naïve little shit.

    And while some would cling to accents and ethnicities in the wake of war and spurn those that they’d once fought well…. Manfred had nothing against Americans in general. He understood why they joined the fight. Just as he understood that if he faced an American plane back then he’d have to do his duty and shoot them down. It was especially true that there was no war here: and therefore no reason to hold grudges on men who were following the orders of generals and politicians. He could separate something being personal to duty.

    Clearly he was from a very different war than what BJ was in.

    In any case: the fact that the man didn’t remember any vines meant that this was all the more complicated to explain…..

    He had expected a lot of things as he sat there. He expected the man to curse, rage, perhaps even attack him again. Maybe accuse Manfred of lying. He was internally prepared to duck and move quickly in any case. But the man (after some very painful-sounding knuckle-cracks) merely grinned slightly as he mentioned it sounded very much like death. Manfred shrugged, and smiled slightly back.

    ”Confusing afterlife it is, then.” He lifted his arm, showing the bandage, ”But we still bleed…. Still die too. Sometimes the world causes people to disappear. Then they reappear with no memory of their life here before.” He lowered his arm and shrugged slightly, leaning back in his chair.

    ”In any case: it’s not Texas out there anymore.” Manfred explained, running his fingers through his hair, fingers brushing against the scar there even as the pain medication did it’s magic and he started to feel better. ”There are four regions. You are in the Waste region right now…. Mostly desert.” And rival warlords and gangs. Basically…. ”The pit-stain of Pandora’s arm pit.” He said with a slight grin
     
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  14. William J. Blazkowicz

    William J. Blazkowicz Wolfenstein

    Posts:
    30
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Texas
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    49
    Directory:
    link

    We still bleed
    That was the curse of being human. William wondered whether this would ever end - the bleeding. Sometimes, on particularly dark days, it seemed to him like all he's ever done was bleed.
    For his father, for his country, for the woman he loved and the flag he's once raised pridefully. For justice and right and freedom. For a chance at life.
    But gloom had a way to get him on occasion, and William was not always aware of it - though maybe he couldn't be blamed for it, what with how much he's lost.

    He listened to the German's words, huffing a somewhat laugh at the remark that "it wasn't Texas out there anymore" - it was ironic to him, because it had not been Texas out there for a very, very long time now. And in some ways, if his childhood home was concerned, it had never really stopped being Texas out there.
    It was complicated to explain, and William wasn't about to delve into detail. Not even in theory, not even to himself.

    He listened to the man's explanation, lining up the facts he could gather, but not really finding himself feeling much at all in regards to the news.
    He's surpassed the times of shock and despair, falling straight into acceptance now. It was easier to move on, to figure out a way to change things, if he didn't waste time flipping his shit over it first.
    Afterlife or not - William didn't think it really mattered at this point. It wouldn't change the fact that he was here, and that he had to keep going, somehow, here.

    "Sounds like little has changed, then. Pretty shitty afterlife, if you ask me."
    The pit-stain of Pandora’s arm pit really sounded like a familiar assortment of circumstances. Just that most of the world had kinda become "the pit-stain" concerningly quickly where he's come from.
    Out of the variety of afterlifes to choose from, however, there were probably worse out there. Certainly better, too. But he'd never deserve those, anyway.

    So William grinned instead, easing into his wheelchair and deciding to just let things be the way they are. Just for today. Just for a little while.
    God knew he needed it.

    "You were a war pilot."
    He stated then, with a slight nod towards the photographs he's spotted earlier.
    No, war would never grow old. And William couldn't help himself but ask about it, though he knew there were a million better topics out there he probably could have brought up.
    But war was what he knew best, and maybe that was much harder to shake than he's ever thought of.

    "You had a head injury?"
    It was a guess, but he's been around veterans enough to recognize the signs.
    His own was easier to see - the thick scars that stretched across the left side of his head were impossible to miss, and anyone who had slight understanding of war and medicine would likely realize that such scars didn't come to happen without heavy injuries.

    Manfred had no telltale signs like that though - or at least if he did, William hadn't spotted them yet.

    He didn't know why he was bringing it up. Asking about matters that were likely hurtful to talk about for the other - it wasn't something he usually did.
    But he wanted to know who this German was, who picked up a stranger and cared for him at own expense. How this German had wound up with his possible amnesia - a theory William somewhat desperately clung to, for it helped him soothe his mind.

     
  15. Manfred von Richthofen

    Manfred von Richthofen The Red Baron

    Posts:
    106
    Occupation:
    Owner of The Hanger/Smuggler
    Location:
    In the Skies
    Race:
    human
    Age:
    25
    Manfred grinned slightly as the other man noted that little had changed and it sounded like a pretty shitty afterlife. Perhaps it was the afterlife: but Manfred wasn’t sure he bought that. The vines seemed too real, he remembered Roy Brown’s face as he was dragged in and he had to pull up tight to avoid the weird ass portal even as Manfred and his plane was sucked in. He didn’t remember death. He’d been wounded before: the idea that he’d died via vines seemed a bit of a stretch.

    Though what did he know, really. He was a simple man. He tried not to theologize and ponder like others would. He would focus on survival, and perhaps wait and see if anyone from his world arrived here. Family or friends…. There was always hope in no longer being alone.

    ”Could always be worse.” He said with a small shrug, ”No hellfire and brimstone…..”

    He was interrupted by a scratching at the door. Manfred got up, calmly going to the door and letting in Moritz. The brindle greyhound shook the desert dust off his coat before trotting in and drinking from his water bowl, then turning his attention on the new person in the room: tail wagging happily as he sniffed at his wheelchair and legs.

    ”…. Also there are still dogs around. Added bonus!” He joked, patting Moritz as he walked past and went back toward his desk chair:

    "You were a war pilot."

    Ja, I was.” He said, noticing the fact that he was nodding to the picture, picking up the one with all of his pilots and him together, reaching over and handing it to the man in the wheelchair so he could get a better look. Jagdgeschwader 1…. Moritz there was our mascot.” Indeed: next to Manfred was Moritz: sitting next to his owner and looking over at something beyond the camera. ”We were stationed everywhere along the western front…. Moved wherever there was action. One of the first airforces that had to travel, now that I think about it.” He said, going to sit back in his chair as he grinned slightly at the memory, ”Called us the ‘flying circus’ cause we had to move about…. Used to paint our planes all different colors to go with the nickname.”

    It was nice…. Talking about Jagdgeschwader like this. Outside of the context of the death that was apart of war…. They were just young men. With a dog and lots of ideas for painted aircraft. Though Manfred always just kept his red….

    Then he asked if he had a head injury, and Manfred shrugged slightly, leaning in his chair and parting the blond curls of his head to reveal an extremely gnarly scar. The kind that would make ladies faint, but perhaps no worse than the other man’s injuries.

    Perhaps he was a veteran too. Manfred wasn’t sure…. With being publically executed he could be a hitman for the mafia, or something else equally as dramatic.

    ”Courtesy of the British.” He said, and after BJ had a good look at the head scar he sat back up, ”Captain Donald Cunnell…. Good pilot, horrible aim.” He said with a slight grin, ”Lucky for me, eh?”

    Said man was shot down two days later. Something he would learn months later while he was in the hospital recovering. The injury had him temporarily blind and paralyzed, and after he regained his sight and feeling he wanted to write a letter to the man congratulating him…. only to be told he was dead. Such was war….
     
    #15 Manfred von Richthofen, Dec 16, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
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  16. William J. Blazkowicz

    William J. Blazkowicz Wolfenstein

    Posts:
    30
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Texas
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    49
    Directory:
    link

    No hellfire and brimstone
    With an amused sound, William nodded his head in agreement.
    The German was right. It could have been worse. And William was in no position to complain - after all, hellfire and brimstone was exactly what he's been expecting. He probably would have met his father down there, too.
    But this wasn't the time nor place to reminisce on what hadn't happened.

    He watched the other walk to the door to pull it open for a companion on four legs, an the sight inevitably brought a smile to his lips. When the dog came closer, William leaned down in his wheelchair to stretch out a hand towards the animal, letting the wet, warm nose sniff his fingers before he scratched the dog behind the ear softly.
    He was lucky to have lived with trauma without letting it get the better of him.
    William doubted he would ever forget the day that his father had tied him up in the basement and shoved a shotgun into his hands, attempting to force him to shoot their very own dog. He's been no older than nine at that time. He's refused. Firing the weapon as far as possible away, but it hadn't saved Bessie. His father's shot her anyway.
    Burying the dog had been as painful as it had been necessary - but William's never stopped loving dogs.

    When the photograph was handed to him, William grasped it carefully, leaning back more comfortably in his wheelchair as he stared at the picture. There was more time to get a better look at it now, and despite the circumstances of war, he could find something nostalgic about it. Something bittersweet. A memory about times that had been somewhat warmer, somewhat.... easier.
    Listening to the man's words seemed to bring colors into the image - he could see these men painting their planes, grinning at each other, spending the nights out and drinking when they shouldn't have. He imagined them young, nervous but excited every time they sat down in their planes. He imagined them celebrating coming back alive.
    It was easy, perhaps because he's been there, too. He's made friends in the army of a kind that would be hard to find anywhere else - they've faced war and death together. He's dragged them off the battlefield, away from their fallen ones. He's also spend his nights out drinking, laughing with them, all hugs and shoulder claps and encouraging smiles.

    Jagdgeschwader 1
    The flying circus

    The words cut through mingled memories, as William frowned, looking up from the picture.
    Caroline, I have heard this before. My memory may be damaged, but I can see the pieces coming together.
    War had produced many heroes, and many more deaths. It was hard not to hear of both those when joining the military. There were names that wouldn't be forgotten, people who had mattered more than others. People who were honored long past their deaths.

    "You're the Red Baron..."
    Perhaps the words sounded a little lost.
    William lowered the photography, realizing that he's made a few mental mistakes when judging the man. First of all - he couldn't be a Nazi, because those hadn't been around at the time. Secondly - Manfred von Richthofen was dead. And had been dead for a while now. But was that really so surprising?
    After all, this was possibly a version of afterlife, so why would it be strange to meet a famous pilot from a past war here?

    He should have puzzled it together sooner.
    William himself had been at this man's monument - or rather, the thing the Nazis had made of it - in Berlin. He's been stood there for a little while, wondering how much of what he knew of this man was the truth.
    And now, it seemed, he would have to wonder again.

    Because Blazkowicz was not an idiot. He had been fighting the Nazis for too long now not to understand that every second word that came out of their mouths was a filthy, propaganda-steered lie.
    The Red Baron was praised by the German regime, but looking at the man sat opposite him now, it was hard to believe that those two were the same.

    The scar that stretched along the other's ski, jagged and partly hidden by his blond hair, only added another piece to a well known but possibly much twisted story.
    William swallowed.
    It was strange. There had been many famous people he's met during his time in the military and those afterwards, but it was a different story altogether to be sat opposite a fallen war hero he'd only ever read about in books, most of which had likely been heavily altered by the Germans.

    He struggled somewhat with a dry smile.
    "I've heard of you. Your name's pretty big out there."
    It was hard to tell whether it was a compliment or a mere stating of facts. William had a split opinion on heroes of war in general. Something as unforgiving as a war would always leave victory tasting bittersweet - and having one's name praised amongst all the fallen and the bloodshed was a struggle all by itself. Something many people would never understand.

    Somehow, he had felt a little more at peace when he's assumed he had been picked up by an amnesiac Nazi.

     
  17. Manfred von Richthofen

    Manfred von Richthofen The Red Baron

    Posts:
    106
    Occupation:
    Owner of The Hanger/Smuggler
    Location:
    In the Skies
    Race:
    human
    Age:
    25
    Moritz at least, was thriving on the attention. One of his back legs twitched at the ear scratch, happily leaning into it like he never got ear scratches ever. Big ham that he was: as if Manfred didn’t give him plenty of attention and love…. Dozy dog.

    He supposed he was lucky: most people arrived here with nothing but the clothes on their back. He had things: his plane, his dog, a few pictures he carried with him, the scarf his mother made him, his lucky jacket…. Little things that helped comfort through being torn from everyone, and everything, he’d once accepted as normal.

    He let BJ look over the picture: Moritz deciding that he was going to go lay down on his bed now that he wasn’t the center of attention. Likely the children outside had worn him out enough, because he flopped over, sighed, and went into dozing mode.

    There were good memories in the flying circus, for all the bad in the war the men he fought and flew with made it a bit brighter. Each one’s loss hurt his heart, and each win and victory was a note of pride. Even if the victory was knowing when to retreat….

    After a pause: the man looked back at him and there was recognition in his eyes. Manfred braced himself, and sure enough the man had figured out his identity with the context clues in front of him….

    ”You’re the Red Baron…”

    Manfred smiled, almost bashfully, as if it was a big secret he’d just discovered. Ja…. I was.” He rubbed the back of his head, ”You aren’t the only one to figure it out, at least here….”

    Logan Howellet of Canada, for one. There was that one man in the pub, Erik. Gerold Herschberg of America. Each encounter felt awkward and there was a certain… expectation that he was supposed to be something. He wondered idly if they were disappointed: Manfred wasn’t much on the ground then a twenty five year old German man with a love of drinking, smoking, and trading war stories.

    In the air he was some kind of hero…. Or demon if you were on the other side. He was good at what he did for his country: and afterward he’d either have died or gone home. That was that.

    ”In fact: someone in Horizon called me what you called me when you woke up.” He mentioned, suddenly remembering, ”Natti? Nassi?...” Maybe they were from the same world? Perhaps from the timeline, too.

    The man mentioned he heard of him, that his name had gone around. ”Ah…. Well I guess that’s what happens when you break records….” He was sure now that he’d… disappeared someone else would have taken his place. Or perhaps not.

    He figured he’d ask: ”Did you fight in the War, too?” The War…. Manfred’s war. It’d explain why he’d attack a German the moment waking up.
     
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  18. William J. Blazkowicz

    William J. Blazkowicz Wolfenstein

    Posts:
    30
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Texas
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    49
    Directory:
    link

    Stories of heroes had a way to paint pictures much bigger than those they were meant to be depicting. No matter from which side of the story one was looking. William knew that.
    His name had gone around, too. After his acts against the Nazi regime, people had come to know him. Resistance groups, small or big, around the globe had recognized his name if he'd come to seek them out. They'd gasp and stare and whisper That's Captain Blazkowicz!
    The Nazis did the same. Wanted posters of him all around the cities, plastered upon the walls, framing him a terrorist, an enemy of the state.

    But not much had changed about him, as a person. Sometimes it felt like this man plastered on wanted posters was not the same as he was, at all.
    What the Nazis called "terrorism" was his desperate attempt at getting his life back - for himself, for those he loved. For those who had fallen.
    The resistance members whispering his name in awe, as if he was more than just a man. It was odd.

    And looking at Manfred, it felt odd, too.
    This man didn't look like a hero.
    Hell, he was in his early 20's, not particularly tall, not ridiculously muscular. Shy smile, bright eyes. He looked like that nice boy next door, who'd bake cookies with his mama on christmas.
    Nothing like a hero. Nothing like a victim of war.

    "Nazi.", William corrected the other's terminology struggles, somewhat unwillingly. But this time it didn't sound like an insult anymore. This time, he wasn't spitting it in rage and hurt at the other before attempting to knife him down.
    It sparked bitter guilt in his gut, realizing he's allowed prejudice get the better of him, when all he's ever tried to be was tolerant and respectful.

    I guess that’s what happens when you break records
    A rough chuckle escaped William; amusement the other could perhaps not understand. Manfred was heavily underestimating just how popular a man he's become.
    "They build a monument for you. Think there's more behind it than just breakin' records."
    There was certain softness to his voice, then. Though William didn't want to break the news to the other man. He doubted anyone wanted to hear that they'd die young.

    But when the other asked about war, William's smile slipped.
    He's fought in more than one war. But he knew that was not what Manfred was asking about.
    The questions that might follow he had no desire to explain - there was a future there that wouldn't leave Manfred happy, and William knew that.
    But it wasn't his choice to make, and it wasn't his place to refuse information the other kindly asked for.
    So he nodded.

    "I did, yeah. But not the one you've fought in."
    Perhaps Manfred had deserved to know a little bit about his injured houseguest, too. This stranger whom he's saved from likely death.
    Clearing his throat, William then added:

    "I was Captain of the US Army Rangers in the Second World War."
    Because he might not want to explain, but he owed Manfred this much. A truthful insight into a small part of his life. Perhaps an offer for shared common ground, painting them both as veterans despite different circumstances.

     
  19. Manfred von Richthofen

    Manfred von Richthofen The Red Baron

    Posts:
    106
    Occupation:
    Owner of The Hanger/Smuggler
    Location:
    In the Skies
    Race:
    human
    Age:
    25
    Manfred did not understand the anger of BJ and Gerold. He didn’t understand because he didn’t see into the future. He didn’t know what kind of people Germans became: how they became bitter and hateful after the loss of the War. Or the copious amounts of damage they did to countries and people. Part of him was afraid to understand, a healthy fear of the future. He had a sneaking suspicion, based on how his conversations with other veterans of wars went, that he might not have survived. Or something awful had happened.

    Did he even have a right to know?

    Nazi.

    Even when it wasn’t spat on him in anger it felt like something evil. Like declaring the name of a demon… Manfred thought since both BJ and Gerold, two Americans, used it that it must be some kind of American slang for a German. Like Kraut. What it meant though was anyone’s guess. Manfred at least understood ‘kraut’: ‘ya’ll eat and smell like sauerkraut’. Nazi wasn’t even translatable in Pandora so the word itself wasn’t a particular definition in English.

    Ja that…. Maybe he’s from where you are from?” If not at least from the same timeline they were both Americans….

    It was the next statement that made him pause. ”A monument?... Why the fuck-“

    They don’t build monuments for living people.

    The thought made him stop. Perhaps he died later, after the war was over. But that didn’t sound right, not the Imperial Germany he knew. No: they reveled in the glory of a war hero who died doing something glorious. Or they twisted it so it was glorious. And he always had a feeling: since talking to Logan and Gerald, that in their timeline he never flew back to the airfield.

    Manfred leaned forward in his chair, his blue eyes sharp with some emotion unidentifiable as he looked over his injured house guest. And he asked the question he already knew the answer to:

    ”April 21st…. I don’t make it back, do I?” Maybe…. He’d disappeared into Pandora and the allies, not knowing how to explain to his fellow Germans that a fucking bunch of black vines had grabbed him, decided to make up a lie and said he was dead. Found some unknown soldier and stuck him in a grave with the marker of ‘Manfred von Richthofen’.

    Or maybe BJ was right and this was in fact the afterlife. Or a version of one….. But how did anyone explain how Moritz was here with him? Or how did the allies explain that his plane just up and vanished?

    He breathed out a sigh: it didn’t matter. He was in Pandora now for good it seemed, for better or worse. His family, friends, fellow brothers on wing…. Thought him dead. And they had erected monuments to his name, apparently. He could puzzle out if he in fact was dead or alive in Pandora on his own. There was nothing he could do about it, now…

    He wanted to ask him if his brother and cousin survived the war but…. What was the point? Perhaps they’d show up here and that’d answer his question.

    He struggled to smile: ”…. Bet that monument is stupid-looking. Please say they didn’t try to make me into a statue….”

    Sadly it got even worse….

    Second World War.

    ”…. Second?” Manfred asked, looking weary as he leaned forward to rub his hands on his face, ”War to end all wars, my ass.” He muttered, getting up from his seat and going over to the wardrobe. Opening it, he took out a bottle of Schnapps: wordlessly pouring it into two glasses and giving one of those glasses to BJ.

    Probably shouldn’t mix it with medication but fuck it…. Manfred needed a drink.
     
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  20. William J. Blazkowicz

    William J. Blazkowicz Wolfenstein

    Posts:
    30
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Texas
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    49
    Directory:
    link

    It hadn't been difficult to guess that his host was a bright one - quick to catch up on facts that had not been presented openly, pick out details hidden beneath simple enough seeming statements. So when Manfred leaned forward in his chair, asking the one and only question sensible to ask, William wasn't surprised.
    But that didn't prevent him from feeling sorry.
    It must be a tough thing to swallow - be told that you'd die soon. Were already dead. Be forced to face the facts of a future you couldn't change any longer, and were not part of.

    B.J. didn't answer right away, merely meeting the other's eyes for a moment.
    But they both knew he didn't need to say anything.
    Softly, William shook his head - that was quite enough a response. There was no need to put it in words and drive it home with more harshness than necessary.

    Caroline, when I carried your lifeless body home, I never had to utter a word. They knew you were dead. Hell, you were missing your head. They knew who had done it.
    Wasn't my task to break it to anyone. My task only to bury you.

    He wanted to say I'm sorry, because he was. Because dying young was a curse and a blessing all in one. Because while Manfred would never learn what'd become of the nation he's died for, he'd also never get a chance to prevent it from happening.
    But I'm sorry wouldn't change anything and it wouldn't save the other. So William said nothing. Waited for the other man to speak again.

    Please say they didn’t try to make me into a statue
    The smile was weak, the shock still visible within the blue of the other's eyes, but it took strength to recover from such news, find it in oneself to keep pushing on. And William respected Manfred for attempting to make his peace with something he had no control over.
    "Don't think so - at least I haven't come upon a statue of you yet. It's a pretty stupid-looking monument either way though."
    The attempt at humor tugged the corner of his lips into the hint of a grin, making it clear there was no intent to offend here, merely an attempt at making the whole topic weigh a little easier on the other's shoulders, if only for a moment.

    But the humor had a way of dying quickly in matters of war.
    And the moment Manfred realized that the first World War had not remained the last, there was no saving the mood anymore. And William didn't think he wanted to try any longer.
    The war to end all wars
    Ironic that this was what the resistance groups clung to now, too. If only they'd bring down the Nazis, there would be no need for war anymore, never again.
    But that wasn't how humanity functioned. Society never learned, not in matter of violence. And William was painfully aware that he was a standing (well... sitting) example for that.

    William accepted the glass without second thought - he didn't much care for what it was, at the moment. He was suddenly aching for a drink.
    He was about to raise the glass to his lips when he paused, glancing towards Manfred for a moment and raising his glass towards the other in a toast instead.
    "To peace."
    And with that, he downed the contents of his glass in one go, the alcohol burning down his throat, soothing the pain in his bones, chasing away the lingering taste of copper at the back of his throat.

    For a moment, there was only warmth.


    The End