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Grathier
Grathier
Posts: 127
Joined: March 28th, 2014, 8:58 am
Grathier

Re: Of Family and Redemption

Postby Grathier » October 18th, 2014, 5:08 am

"War!" the herald shouted. "War has descended upon us once again!"

Barnaby halted in his tracks and joined the crowd gathered to hear the daily news. He could read, so he didn't usually stop by heralds, but hearing it now was easier than reading it later. The herald spoke of an attack from the Dark Portal, of Nethergarde Keep falling and King Varian scrambling a force to repel the invasion.

"Is it a vanguard?!" he shouted amongst the crowd who also demanded more answers from the poor herald. It went unheard, so he left for the Hero's Call Board. Men and women swarmed it, and he tapped one on the shoulder.

"What's the go?" he asked.

"Nethergarde Keep has fallen." the human replied. He was dressed in some exotic, impractical armour, with an equally exotic, impractical sword at his side. "The King has dispatched a battalion of marines to head off the invasion."

Barnaby wondered if they were part of the 12th and promised himself to chase that up later. "Is it full-scale war?"

"It looks that way." the man replied, before summoning an exotic, impractical proto-drake to carry him off into the skies. Barnaby made his way to the board and drank the information in. Orcs. Using the same technology as Garrosh's Kor'kron, it seemed. If it was full-scale war, he thought, the King will call for volunteers and muster a few Brigades. Part of him wanted to fight again. A very large part. He thought about Krasarang, remembering how much he felt at home with his unit. The Stormwind City Guard paled in comparison to those rogues.

He changed his destination to the Garrison. If it was confirmed to be full-scale war, he may request a service transfer back to the Navy. But what about Miranda? She had agreed to leave the orphanage and live with her big brother.

Too many things to think about and he needed to think hard about this. Until then he would wait. He had been on his way to buy that house as well.

Grathier
Grathier
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Grathier

Re: Of Family and Redemption

Postby Grathier » October 21st, 2014, 7:14 am

The pumpkins were out before he knew it. Streets were painted in eerie candlelight even during daylight hours like now, never seeming to burn out in the pumpkins they occupied. Every other man, woman or child on the street wore a mask or costume or both. Funny how they celebrated the birth of a bitter enemy so. Hallows End was here again.

A girl in a witch costume was pelted with a stinkbomb by a boy which sent her fleeing back home with tears in her eyes. Children plied their trick or treat line on door after door to mixed success. A young couple passed Barnaby giggling and whispering to one another the way lovers do. She would be getting pounded within the hour, he thought with a smirk, and wondered if she was a screamer.

Have fun, you two.

As he rounded a corner to the main square in the Trade District, he saw something that stopped him dead. An enlistment desk. The recruiting officer was promising excitement, adventure, danger and all the usual selling points to passerbys. He dribbled crap such as patriotism, their love for King Wrynn and the opportunity to kill as many orcs as they liked.

And just like every enlistment desk he had ever seen in his life, the line was immense. Stormwind never had a shortage of volunteers, young and eager to see the world, kill an orc and kiss a rescued maiden.

"Screw maidens." he muttered to himself, pausing to snicker at the pun. "I'll take a girl who knows what she's doing."

He could joke all he liked, but he still felt bitter now. He had made a promise to himself if he saw that desk set up. He crossed over to the Cathedral District, beelined to the orphanage and relieved Miranda of her daytime chores (the matron almost refused, but their fish still left him with a good impression he could take advantage of). When they left, they started walking.

"There's a Hallow's End party on Sunday." Barnaby said. "But it's after dark."

"Oh." Miranda said. "Would Matron..?"

"I'll speak to her."

"Okay."

The first stop was the library as usual and Miranda got a new book. They walked in an amiable silence most of the way and he steered them behind the cathedral. He sat down in the shade of an apple tree, near a gazebo where weddings were often conducted. Today it was a bare assortment of benches, flowers and elegant timber framework. The lawn needed a once-over with a scythe.

"Can you make me a costume?" the little girl asked. Barnaby was taken aback for a moment by the question, but nodded.

"Of course." he smiled. "What did you want to go as?"

"A dragon!" she spread her arms and bared her teeth cheerfully. "Rawr!"

He chuckled. "You need a spooky costume."

"Aw, like what?"

"Anything." he replied. "A witch, a skeleton. A--

"Wow, they're boring." he said with some realisation. Who the hell liked dressing up as a witch like everyone else? "Dragon? Sure. What colour?"

"Blue?"

"All right." he smiled again. "But you're making it - I'm just helping."

"Okay."

They were silent for a while longer. A melody tweeted from the tree above them and Barnaby whistled the tune back. The new response was a rapid-fire patter as the bird took flight.

"There's... something else." he said quietly, fighting the urge to skirt the subject. Miranda looked at him.

"I'm not buying the house just yet."

She looked at him for a brief moment, and he saw her trying to process this. "Why not?"

"Did you hear about the orcs?"

Miranda nodded. It was bellowed from practically every street corner.

"I may have to go away for a while instead." he said wanly. He was straddling a fence of excitement and bitter gloom, and it was the latter he shoved himself into. The last thing he wanted Miranda to think was he wanted to leave.

"What?"

"Gotta go be a brave warrior again." he tried to smile at his mother's words, but Miranda was getting the message. She tried to make a sound, but choked on it and made a faint wheeze instead. Tears welled up in her eyes.

"But you said..."

"And I still mean it." Barnaby said. "Just... not now. Maybe in a year or so."

"A... year?"

He nodded solemnly, which caused her tears to flow free. How was she crying, he asked himself, when she had known him for hardly two weeks? He felt both bemused and flustered at a lack of an answer. No one alive gave two shits about Barnaby Francis Grathier. He could count on one hand the number of people who would attend his funeral, and he doubted any of them would cry (except maybe Dinpik, but she would shed a tear at a stranger's funeral, he thought).

Frustration welled inside without any answers, and he hugged her and let her cry on his shirt.

"Why do you have to leave?" she asked, muffled by his shirt.

"It's what soldiers do." he replied. "It's not so bad - just another year at the orphanage."

"I don't like the orphanage!" she wailed. "Nobody likes me!"

He steeled himself against his anger, reminding himself that she was a seven year old girl. He supposed she could cry and sob a little - even if he couldn't at that age.

"I'll make sure someone watches over you, if you like." he suggested against all his instincts.

"Who?"

He couldn't think beyond what his cracked pride would look like first. Landreth had ordered him to come forward if he needed help - but his entire being rebelled against the idea of submitting to him. Dinpik would be ideal - but he felt like he took too much from her as it was. Beyond that, he could think of no one. He supposed this was the catch of not having friends.

"I'll find someone." he insisted.

Her tears were dried up and she folded her arms crossly. "I want to go home."

He didn't argue, and he didn't mention the party again. He'd give her a few days to process this.

Grathier
Grathier
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Grathier

Re: Of Family and Redemption

Postby Grathier » October 25th, 2014, 3:27 am

It rained the entire trip.

The massive downpour had driven everyone inside, which meant the square was almost empty when he arrived. A few distant churchgoers at the Cathedral, coming and going with umbrellas and a few groups huddled in the tunnels out of the way. The day was dreary and bleak, the sky bleached an off-white that just made you want nothing to do with it. Puddles deep and shallow covered the cobblestones which set Barnaby on a windy course toward the orphanage. In his arms was a box covered in a scrap of tarpaulin to keep it dry, making the subdued thudding of clothing as he walked. He hammered the door for a full half minute before it was answered by the Matron.

"Morning, Matron." he said, slicking a hand through his drenched hair - he didn't believe in umbrellas - to make himself look a little more presentable. He beamed a smile for good measure. "Beautiful day, isn't it?"

"Get inside before you catch your death." she insisted, standing back as if he was contagious to let him in. The fireplace was going, surrounded by children. The rain was just a patter in here, drowned out by chatter and thudding feet. It was a few degrees warmer inside as well, adding to the cosy feeling.

"Relax, I don't get sick." Barnaby said with a smile. That was almost painfully true, all things considered. "Deep end of the gene pool."

The matron almost left to fetch Miranda when he called after her.

"Could I speak to her in your office?" he asked. "If it's not too much of a hassle."

It wasn't, though the condition was to stay out of her chair in his drenched state. There was little warmth here compared to the common room. Miranda was brought in soon enough, sullen and miserable.

"Say hello." the Matron had to say.

"Hello."

She was almost back to her old self again, back when she was scared of him. The box was on the table, the tarp safely away from the Matron's things to dampen the floor instead.

"I have a present for you." he said, trying to cheer her up. It failed and the Matron eyed him for a distrustful second before leaving them alone. No doubt someone would be near that door with an ear turned their way.

He opened the box, producing a small stuffed toy. It was a red dragon, about the size of his forearm with black buttons for eyes. Miranda looked at it tentatively, but held her ground.

"I couldn't find a blue one," he said apologetically. "But the next one is blue."

The next thing he fished out of the box had once been a crocolisk toy he had won at the Darkmoon Faire. He won dozens of prizes like those whenever he went and would only stop when his two mortal enemies - the troll that ran the quick-shot booth and the dwarf that ran the tonk commander booth - threatened to fetch the ogre if he didn't leave. He had decapitated the poor crocolisk, gutted the head, dyed it blue (with help - he didn't know how to dye fabric beyond pouring an inkwell on it), redecorated it and was rewarded with a hat with a snout she could wear. It looked close enough like a dragon head.

"Try this on." he offered. Miranda meekly inched closer and he put the hat on. It was a size too big, but he could fix that.

"Ha!" he said, slapping his thigh. "You look great!"

Miranda was smiling now. Barnaby produced a pair of claw-gloves, a belt with a lightly stuffed tail sewn on, a pair of claw-socks to go over her shoes and a long-sleeve shirt and a pair of pants, with scales and a dragon belly drawn on. She put them all on, needing help with the belt, and by the time she was done, all seemed forgiven.

She beamed an adorable smile at him. She's going to be a real heartbreaker in ten years, he thought.

"There's still one thing." he said, fishing out the biggest object from the box. He had destroyed four fishing rods to make this, and it had turned out perfectly. It was built out of a backpack, which he put on.

"You see this?" he said, showing her a pull tab on the left shoulder strap, not unlike a parachute cord. "Pull it like so."

He pulled the tab, which pulled lengths of fishing line against a spring. The line ran along the fishing poles, except where he had broken them and put wedges between them in a duct-tape job. When the wire pulled everything taut, they held at whatever angle the wedge was.

That was the basic mechanics of it anyway. All Miranda saw was when he pulled the tab, two great canvas wings unfolded like a parachute. He could see she was at a loss for words, stunned by them. When he slackened the pull tab, they collapsed under a spring and good old gravity and refolded back into the bag.

"What do you think?"

"Let me try it!" she suddenly exclaimed, jumping up and down. "Let me try it!"

He shrugged the backpack off and gave it to her. She put it on and imitating him, pulled the pull cord. The wings fitted her better (he had her size in mind when he cut them) and the tips of the wings were well above her head when taut.

"Rawr!"

He chuckled. The costume was pretty good, and another point for his handicraft. He had thought up the wings when thinking of an old BASE jump he had done in the Marines when he was eighteen.

"This is so cool!" she exclaimed brightly. She ran around, roaring and laughing, pulling the tab over and over which actually passed for flying to some extent - he hadn't even thought of that. The Matron peeked in at the commotion, muttered an "Oh, wow." at the costume and left before Miranda saw her.

"That Hallow's End party would be a great place to show that off." he said amiably.

"It'll be the best costume ever!" she said. "And we can go trick or treating too."

"You could go scare some of the boys away."

"Ew. Boys."

She was happier than he had ever seen her, and all seemed forgiven for now. He was happy for her, and happy that the wings he created worked. Looks like the Hallow's End party is back on, he thought to himself.

Grathier
Grathier
Posts: 127
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Grathier

Re: Of Family and Redemption

Postby Grathier » November 1st, 2014, 2:31 am

"Care to explain this?"

"Sir, she said she was eighteen." Barnaby immediately protested. "I swear if I knew--"

"I MEAN!" Landreth snapped, closing his eyes in frustration. "The transfer request."

"Oh. Oh! That.

"Yes, sir." Barnaby said, regaining his proverbial footing. "Transfer to the Marines. Specifically, to the 122nd Marine Regiment."

"Yes, I see that." Captain Landreth said, opening his eyes. His nerves looked frayed to him, moreso than usual. "What I want to know is why one day you're in here, asking for leave to buy a home for yourself and a minor, for whom you are the last known guardian, and barely the next week you're asking for leave to join a combat unit."

Don't you second guess me old man, Barnaby thought to himself. He realised he was gritting his teeth and stopped. "I sat half the last war out, sir. I want to be somewhere I can be more useful."

Landreth's nostrils flared and his lips formed that thin, angry line. He was the final hurdle. If the Captain refused the transfer, Barnaby would have to go over his head to get this. It wouldn't be hard - the Commander of the battalion he was trying to post into was his old Captain in Northrend - but still a delay. "Part of me wants to do the right thing, because it is my nature and my duty. But you've been by far my most difficult subordinate, as I'm sure you're aware."

"Yes, sir." he replied automatically.

"Just tell me, honestly -- utterly truthfully -- if you can do that:" the Captain began. Barnaby let that slide. "When this idea occurred to you, did you look at that child and think 'How can I protect her?' and once you decided on this action, that it KILLS you to think you won't be here to watch over her, yourself?"

Barnaby felt the frustration bubbling over inside. "Look, she doesn't understand either. She thinks I'm abandoning her."

"Just... answer me."

"Do you think I'm the only person who leaves someone behind when they go fight, sir?" he was gritting his teeth again on the pause and stopped. "Fine. I don't like it. If I had a wife, this wouldn't be an issue, but I don't." he spread his hands. "This is the hand I've been dealt."

"You're right. If you had a wife, it wouldn't be an issue." Landreth said. "But you can't commit to anything or anyone enough for that to have happened."

Barnaby let that one slide, too. The man could take all the bitter shots at him he wanted. Landreth smiled tightly as he picked up a quill. "BUT, you are making this a lot easier for me."

"I know you don't like me here, sir. I don't like it here either."

"That isn't the point!" he snapped. "The RIGHT thing for me to have done is to deny your request, as even Stormwind during wartime doesn't like to send Last Guardians or Only Offspring into battle." He blew on the ink to dry it.

"People like that are the reason Stormwind has never conscripted."

The quill scratched some more. At length he held the request out. "Congratulations, Grathier. I've set all of us free. If you survive this engagement, I suppose we'll see what happens next. Good luck.

About time. Barnaby took the form. "Thank you, sir."

"King's Honor," It almost sounded genuine.

Barnaby lingered a moment. He felt like he still needed to justify this whole situation. He almost spoke again, but instead turned on his heel and left. Fuck him, he can think whatever he liked.

Grathier
Grathier
Posts: 127
Joined: March 28th, 2014, 8:58 am
Grathier

Re: Of Family and Redemption

Postby Grathier » November 1st, 2014, 3:20 am

"Did you enjoy yourself?" he asked.

Miranda was gloomy. The Hallow's End party came and went, leaving Barnaby feeling like a fool as he walked her home. First off, she had been the only child present in a courtyard filled with drinking, smoking and swearing.

As soon as they arrived, she was in tears. A giant man with a spud for a brain thought it was a good idea to slaughter something before showing up covered in fresh blood. Barnaby tried to tell her it was part of his costume, but it didn't work - some deep, subconscious part of her mind knew it was real. Perhaps a little more simply, Barnaby knew it was real because he could smell it.

She had liked the scary stories (he had been chatting a lady up instead of listening to them) but had stubbornly refused to go in the dress-up competition. When he tried to encourage her to go up, she started crying again until he relented. If they hadn't been trick-or-treating beforehand, he would have thought those wings were a waste of time and effort.

Part of him wished he had the sense to have taken her somewhere more appropriate.

Most of the walk was silence, his attempts at conversation always halted by silence or single-word answers of hers. When they turned in sight of the orphanage, she was crying again.

"I don't want to go there." she said.

It was a few hours shy of midnight, meaning the streets were deserted of running orphans and churchgoers. He squatted on his haunches so they were eye to eye. Did children always cry so much?

"It's not that bad." Barnaby said, knowing how stupid that sounded.

"They're mean to me." she said.

"B--" Be mean back, he had wanted to say. He stood back up. "It's just words, Miranda."

She had said nothing for a moment.

"I want mom..."

Aw shit. Barnaby had nothing for that. He squatted again and removed her costume hat.

"You know, my dad used to hit me whenever I cried." Barnaby reflected with a smirk, dusting the fur off. "He said he was toughening me up and mom hated it whenever he did that." Miranda was looking at him now. "She said I would grow up with problems later on if I bottled all those tears up. Do you know what my dad said to that?"

Miranda shook her head.

"He said if men cried whenever life was hard, Azeroth would be a sea of tears." he chuckled and put her hat back on. "There's another meaning to that. It's that life is hard, Miranda. It's hard for nearly everyone.

"You learned to read over there, didn't you?"

She nodded.

"And write?"

"Yes."

"And numbers?"

She nodded, smiling a little at that. She was better with numbers than he was, he had learned, though that wasn't saying much. He smiled in turn.

"It sounds like life won't be so hard for you if you stay there a little longer." he said at last, finally bringing his point to bear. "What do you want to do when you grow up?"

"I don't know." she said sullenly, sniffling. She had stopped crying.

"Give that some thought." he said at last, standing back up. "Wahtever it is, maybe one of the Matrons can help you towards it."

Just don't join the army, he thought with a bitter humour. Thinking back, a good part of his career was literally a living nightmare. He offered his hand, which she took with a gloved dragon paw and he walked her across the square. She was a little less gloomy and a little more resigned about it now. At least he didn't bring her back in tears.

Grathier
Grathier
Posts: 127
Joined: March 28th, 2014, 8:58 am
Grathier

Re: Of Family and Redemption

Postby Grathier » November 2nd, 2014, 2:42 am

"Ah. Grathier!" he toasted his glass from the railing above the bar, beckoning the man over. "Come hither!"

The Blue Recluse wasn't much of an officer's hangout, but they made the place look tidier. Barnaby went to the counter, insisted a round of drinks follow him up and then made the climb. When he arrived, he pulled up a chair.

"Evening s-" he stopped short of 'sir', as this was a casual meet-up and they were out of uniform. He smiled. "Stevenson."

Captain Stevenson waved a hand. "Call me Paul, don't be afraid." The other man and woman present chuckled in that reserved, quite officer-like way. "Come! Sit!"

Barnaby seated himself down as the drinks arrived. As they were being organised (the barmaid had remembered their drinks from the previous round), he rolled a cigarette and offered to the three officers. The woman took it and he rolled himself another.

"So. Amanda. Harry." he gestured to his seat. "This is Barnaby. Or Corporal Grathier. My lead scout in Krasarang - until his shoulder exploded."

"Barnaby," he gestured to woman he assumed (dearly hoped - you never knew) was Amanda. "Lieutenant Emmerson." and to the man who couldn't be older than seventeen. "And 2nd Lieutenant Jasper. If we can get you into my company, you'll be suffering these two as I do."

"Evening." Barnaby offered, sizing up the three officers. He knew Captain Paul Stevenson back when he was a Lieutenant on the Skyfire - still his size and frame and the same auburn crew cut. He hadn't met the other two though. Amanda Emmerson looked about his age, with shoulder-length brown hair and brown eyes that held a hard edge to them. Harry (Harrison?) Jasper may have looked young, but he was broad-shouldered and looked solid. He had shaved blonde hair and intelligent hazel eyes. Barnaby's first instinct was this man could go far in his line of work - he looked more like a football team captain than a sophisticated officer.

"How's the Guard life?" Paul asked.

"Doesn't compare with storming beachheads." Barnaby replied with a wry smirk. "Speaking of which..?"

"We're the leading Marines now that the 125th are in the Blasted Lands." Paul replied. "We're been dumped with scores of fresh recruits, so don't worry - someone has plans for us."

"Prepare for the worst, hope for the worst, hm?" Amanda commented, and Barnaby laughed at that. He hadn't heard that phrase in years and had to toast his bourbon at that. The others followed suit.

"So Grathier." Harry said. He had been quiet up until now. "Captain speaks quite highly of you. You been in long?"

"Signed up for Northrend." Barnaby summarised. "Was army for about a year before I switched over. Had my eyes on the Skybreaker and this battalion was stationed on it at the time." he spread his hands in a 'there you go' gesture. "Missed the Arathi Basin rotation - I was picked off by the 7th and helped them in Gilneas instead." he drummed his fingers. "All well and good from then until about six months into the Pandaria Campaign when I took a round to the shoulder. Wound festered and I nearly lost the arm - thank the Light for priests, am I right?"

"You know the boss went half to madness trying to find out what you and Kashka got up to when that happened." Paul commented with no small amount of amusement in his voice. "Kashka still stonewalls us with 'Classified'."

"And I'll be doing that too, don't worry." Barnaby replied with a grin. He scrambled for a change of subject. "Kashka is still going strong?"

"She's a sergeant now in Crawford's company. She was almost demoted for getting in a drunken brawl about a year ago if I recall, but we were short on good sergeants at the time."

Barnaby nodded, crushing the remnants of his cigarette. "She marched on Orgrimmar as well, I take it?"

"Of course." Paul replied. "She won a bar for her SDS there."

"Good on her." Barnaby mused. It occurred to him that his Star of Distinguished Service was six years old now. "She'll never let me live it down that I wasn't there for that."

"Bah." Amanda scoffed. "There'll be more fights, right Harry?"

"Let's hope so." Harry replied.

Paul jerked a thumb at the Second Lieutenant. "New guy..."

The three of them laughed their officer-laugh but Barnaby kept respectfully silent. Good humour or not, something told him he wanted to stay on Jasper's good side. The Marines sure can pick them, he thought. When his bourbon was done he shook their hands again and tried to leave, not wishing to overstay his welcome.

"Before you go," Stevenson said, clamping his arm before it left the table. "The boss wants your transfer request personally."

"Oh does he?" Barnaby was amused at that. "A birdie told me that Barker is sitting in that chair."

"And who told you that?"

"He did." Barnaby chuckled. When he made the decision to rejoin, Commander Barker had been his first point of contact. The man had been his Captain from Day 1 of joining the battalion and he was greeted like an old friend. Learning Barker commanded a battalion made Barnaby feel much better about his chances in this coming war. Good man. Great soldier.

"He's confident he can get me in with the next group of march-ins, and I'll defer to his judgement."

"It'll be good to see some medals amongst the next crowd." Paul said. "We've gotten a lot of talent of late, but no real experience."

Barnaby nodded and turned to leave. Reaching the stairs, he stopped. "Oh, and Stevenson! Who's your quartermaster right now?"

"Private Jems - you wouldn't know him. Why?"

"Tell him to stock up on some .45 Long if he can. I'll be bringing something to the Company you all might like."

He left the statement hanging as he left. It seemed like the 1st Battalion, 122nd Marine Regiment was still in good hands, and that made him feel good.

Grathier
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Re: Of Family and Redemption

Postby Grathier » November 6th, 2014, 7:42 am

Fourteen privates and one corporal gathered around the Lieutenant Commander as he read from a piece of parchment.

"Forrester! Grathier! Lewis! And Travis!" he announced. "With Captain Albert if you please."

Barnaby hadn't pushed for Stevenson's company. His old Lieutenant commanded a footman company while he wanted a rifle company. The battalion hadn't changed since Krasarang Wilds - eight sword companies and four rifle/crossbow companies of sixty and forty men each respectively and a support company of mages and healers that sized up at fifty. Slightly smaller than army equivilants, but Marines needed to work on frigates, destroyers and aerial gunships. They were generally considered a somewhat higher calibre soldier anyway.

Captain Albert flanked the Lieutenant Commander that Barnaby assumed was the XO along with the another Captain and a Knight-Lieutenant. He made his way over at the man's beckoning, followed by the other three new soldiers.

"King's Honour, gents." he said as the Lieuteant Commander read out more names to the remnants. "I'm Captain Albert, Officer Commanding of India Company."

"Morning, sir." Barnaby offered. It seemed well-received and Albert's eyes dropped to the two chevrons on his shoulderpads.

"You must be Corporal Grathier." he said. "You came highly recommended, you'd be pleased to know."

"Pressure's on now, I guess." Barnaby replied with a smirk. Albert scowled - probably at the informality and Barnaby decided not to do that again. "Won't let you down, sir."

"We'll see about that." he said. "Follow me to your quarters, you four."

Barnaby, of course, knew exactly where he was being led. Even if he had been Echo Company before now he knew the layout of the barracks. They passed the mess hall, the training yard - or just the ring - and the battalion headquarters. They were housed in long, crudely built buildings, one per company for the ORs. Officers, healers and other 'special' folks slept lavishly further down.

India Company was one of the furthest buildings and Captain Albert handed them over to one of the company Sergeants. Barnaby's face lit up in a grin.

"Kashka!" he exclaimed amiably, beaming a grin.

"Well here is bad news." she replied in her slightly-accented voice. They shook hands in front of the bemused recruits and Captain Albert. "It seems that I still have some pull with the commander."

"You pushed for this?"

"Yes." she affirmed in that frustatingly proper way one speaks a second language. Sergeant Kashka stood nearly a foot over Barnaby - being a draenei - and her face now had a faint scar on the left side of her face, tracking from just above the corner of her mouth down and back to her jawline, halfway between the chin and ear. She was built for a woman and could probably overpower half the men in the battalion. The running (and distasteful) joke had been she was the only woman who could rape a male marine.

"Well, I'm in good hands." he grinned. He looked around and noticed Albert was gone. Kashka beckoned the four inside. It was all bunk-beds, gender-segregated by a screen. Mostly for show as it didn't stop most determined urges. It was down for the moment and men and women - humans and dwarves mostly, with a smattering of night elves and worgen - were cleaning weapons, drinking, gambling and cheering. Two were in a hatchet-throwing contest against the wall, two were arm-wrestling and two more were practicing grappling techniques. Hell, two were playing chess.

The competitive rage was still here, ready for whatever they would be thrown at. Barnaby didn't realise until now just how much he missed the spirit here. A bit prey on the weak, but there were no weak folks here.

A few recognised the new recruits and hollered. A dozen marines in various states of dress gathered.

"Hey! New blood!"

"I come in peace!" Barnaby grinned and he and the other privates made introductions all around. Two names rang a bell from back in the day, but most were either new faces or faces he had never learned (being from another company and all).

"Still doing the same stupid competitive shit, I see." he said with a grin. A few of the others puffed their chests out defensively.

"What if we are?" one asked.

"Well," Barnaby said, clapping his hands and bringing bringing them behind his back out of their sight. "Thought you might like a new challenge. So I come bearing gifts!"

He produced a pistol in each hand, pulling both hammers back (despite being empty) for effect. In his right hand was his .45 revolver, immaculately clean and oiled, the dull paint job removed and the receiver polished to a mirror sheen. Even the hardwood grips were polished. He had spent a whole night turning it into something more pleasing to the eye, dredging up what few tricks he learned in his brief gunsmithing trade. In his left was his old .50 ball-and-powder percussion cap pistol, silver-plated and polished and still looked as deadly as it was. When he dredged it out of his footlocker, soaked in oil, there was nary a speck of rust after more than six months since he last serviced it.

A brief moment of silence while they drank in the sight of these two weapons.

"Wow. That piece must've been expensive." a private - Gilnean by the accent - exclaimed at length, gesturing to the revolver.

"I've got a game for yall." Barnaby went on with a grin. "It's called 'quick-draw'."

They all cheered. A beer was thrust into his hand and he was taken with the other three privates into the crowd. He was home.

Grathier
Grathier
Posts: 127
Joined: March 28th, 2014, 8:58 am
Grathier

Re: Of Family and Redemption

Postby Grathier » November 9th, 2014, 11:42 pm

He hammered on the door so they could hear inside over the rain. It was coming down in buckets again. The Matron knew his face by now and he was let into the warmth of the Orphanage without being questioned now. Barnaby asked again if he could use the office and the Matron told him to let himself in while she fetched Miranda.

He could bribe and convince her all he wanted, but she was still obviously hurt over his coming departure. She was back to her old sullen ways now, not saying a word as she quietly sat down at the desk opposite him.

"How's your learning going?" he asked.

No response.

"Enjoying it?"

"Yes."

Silence followed. Barnaby took off his soaked jacket and draped it over the back of his chair. There were only a half-dozen candles to light the room, but it was enough to see her downcast face. The silence ground against him.

"I'm going to write when I get the time." he said at length. "If you want to write back, practice your letters..."

She wasn't listening. A tear hung on her cheek.

"Listen, Miranda." he paused to find the words. "I... know what it's like to feel abandoned."

She looked up at him.

"Let me tell you a story." he offered. "Once upon a time there was a boy in Lordaeron.

"He had a mom, a dad and they all lived happily on a farm. The boy sometimes got into mischief, but overall his parents were proud of him." he saw Miranda was listening now and kept going.

"One day, his dad died. Just... gone." Barnaby fidgeted as he spoke - he fought to keep it going. "He walked into a city and then that city was destroyed. Anyway, the boy's mother couldn't handle it. She took the boy and ran away, as *far* away as she could get. Over the sea, in fact."

She was still listening.

"The boy's mom was never the same. She had been devastated. You would think she would focus on being a good mom now, but it didn't turn out like that. In a way, the boy had lost both his parents.

"So we have our boy - not really a boy anymore. He's twelve and he works all day for coppers, every one of which he gave to his mother. What does the boy's mom spend with his money?"

He felt bitterness creeping into the story, and composed himself. "She gets drunk every day with it. When he stops giving her money, she demands it from him. Calls him a bad son, an uncaring soul and whatever else it takes to get it from him.

"The boy floats from job to job. He helps build walls and roads, he sews clothing, he cuts up dead animals, he--"

"Ew."

"I know, right? Anyway, he catches fish, he guts fish, he even tried hunting spiders. Then one day he suddenly has a new dad, a squat, fat man that waddled rather than walked he was so fat."

He rocked side to side, imitating a fat man lumbering around. Miranda smiled at that.

"And new dad insists the boy goes away. He's lived in the poor house and helped his mom for three years, you see?" he clenches his fist. "And what does mom do? She doesn't defend her son, she sends him off to sea for a year because new dad says so..."

Barnaby was looking at the wall now, as if it were a window to the thoughts in his mind. He took a breath and looked back at Miranda and smiled.

"When the boy got back, he wasn't a boy anymore. He was a man - a man who had realised he didn't need to put up with mom anymore. He lived by himself. He found a job he liked and stuck with it. Mom tried to talk to the boy many times, but the man closed the door on her each time. He figured he had no time for moms."

Barnaby drifted into a silence - there was a lot to the story he had left out, but the gist was there. Miranda looked sad. When he came back, he looked her in the eye.

"I wouldn't wish that on my family." he said at last. "So whenever you think I've abandoned you..." he pointed to himself. "The man knows that it's wrong to abandon a child."

"Was that mom?" she asked.

He nodded. "Before you were around." he replied. "A defeated soul."

Her eyes were downcast. Barnaby pulled two things out of his jacket and put them on the table. One was a book, the other was a case you would store a large piece of jewellery in. He pushed the hardcover book over to her.

"This is a big girl's book." Barnaby said. "It's about a real dragon called Kalecgos. Not borrowed - yours to keep."

The book was easily three times thicker than anything they had borrowed and Miranda gaped at it. Barnaby slid the box in front of him. It was about five inches wide by a foot long, and two high.

"This isn't a present," he went on. "But perhaps something you might be interested in."

Miranda had opened the first page of the book but looked at him now. Barnaby tapped the box, turned it around so the clasp was facing her and opened it.

"Wow..."

Inside were ten neatly packed medals, made of iron, copper, brass - one even of purified saronite.

"This is what mom's brave warrior has earned since leaving."

He picked them out one by one and held it by the candlelight for her to see. Miranda had asked about his medals before, and was captivated by them now. He supposed she had heard enough tales of heroes and great battles from the paladins at the Church. Too bad he wasn't a hero. He started with the service and campaign medals. First was the saronite medal, fashioned into the likeness of a spirit healer.

"First off." he said, before handing it to her. "This is the Crusader's Medallion. It's not an Alliance medal, so I need to wear it last, you see? The Argent Crusade gave these to everyone who stormed the walls of Icecrown Citadel. Apparantly that medal was melted down from a piece of wall from the citadel itself, but don't quote me on that."

"Did you fight the Lich King?" she asked. She seemed quite interested.

He laughed. "No. I fought outside, on the ramparts. And aboard a gunship. I never went inside, I'm afraid."

"Oh."

He gave her the second one, a round, nickel medal with a kraken on it. There was a bar on this one.

"This is a common one." he said. "Naval General Service Medal. Marines often serve on ships, and I was no exception. The clasp says 'Theramore', though I was only part of the armada that broke the blockade afterwards."

"Theramore..."

"This would have been about the time you came here." the next medal was brass and had the King's face on it. "This one - Wrynn's Service Medal. Every man and his dog gets this one - nurses and foragers and such - so long as they are part of a campaign against the Horde."

"This one's the soldier's version - the Alliance War Medal." he passed her a silver medal fashioned like a shield that you would see a paladin wearing. Four clasps adorned this one. "Means I fought the Horde in these places." he pointed to each clasp as she held it. "Wintergrasp. Gilneas. Twilight Highlands. And Krasarang Wilds."

"You went to all of those places?"

"Soldiers get to travel everywhere. For free." he smirked. "I've been all over the world."

"This one's the Operation: Shieldwall Medal" he showed her a polished tin medal depicting the side profile of a roaring lion. Two clasps and an oak leaf adorned it. "That's what the main effort in Pandaria was called. See that?" he pointed at the oak leaf. "That means I was Mentioned in Dispatches there."

"What does that mean?"

"When you do something brave, and an officer writes your name in a report of your bravery." he made a crooked grin. "That was my second one. The clasps say Domination Point and Zan'vess. They were just battles I was in."

"This one's the Pandaria Expedition Medal." he held out another tin medal - just a simple cross this one was. "For if you fought over there in the two months before Operation: Shieldwall. I did only a few days of fighting on another gunship before we left. Still warranted a medal."

"Medal number seven..." he passed her a medal depicting a small being radiating light from the centre - who it was he didn't know. "We're back in Northrend now. This one's the Valience Expedition Medal. This one's your basic service medal. Like the Wrynn's Service one, but for helping against the Scourge in Northrend instead of the Horde. And in the same manner, this is the military version."

Medal number eight was a round, truesilver medal depicting Bolvar Fordragon in all his glory. He was basked in the Light and held a sword in the air. This one had two clasps and the other oak leaf.

"This is the Northrend Victory Medal." Barnaby said trading it to Miranda like the others. "The clasps say 'Angra'thar' and 'Icecrown Citadel'. There's another oak leaf there I got in Icecrown."

When she passed them back, he produced the last two - a silver cross and a round mithril medal depicting King Llane.

"These are my two gallantry medals." he offered them both. "The round one is the Llane's Cross - the third-highest medal and the other is the Star of Distinguished Service - the second-highest."

"What's the highest?"

"The Medallion of Valor. I wasn't quite brave enough to earn that." he took the medals back and put them back in the case. "First one means I was brave, and the second one means I was *really* brave."

"Do you have more?"

"I may get one for defending Stormwind as a Guard, but I probably won't see that until after I get back. These take a while to get to you."

"Oh."

"Oh indeed."

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