Fireworks and a Moment of Silence
This is the sixth and final part of the compiled and edited log of the 2009 Memorial Party role-play. It encompasses the ninth and tenth strings. The ninth string had three branches, concerning fireworks (Branch 1 & 2) and a meeting between Agents Rilwen and Crelmos (Branch 3). The tenth string concerned Agent Deryn finally procuring a trumpet and conducting a moment of silence for the fallen. The writing in this section comes from the following Boarders:
String 9, Branches 1 & 2: Fireworks
Leto went to storage again. When he returned, he brought out several high-quality fireworks. Jane was surprised, and was about to ask Leto the reason when she saw the change that had come over this part of HQ.
The ceiling had changed itself into a vast dome, large enough for several rockets to set off at the same time without any serious damage to those below.
"Don't question it, my love, you know better than that."
"Very well. Now let's set up a surprise."
They then lined up the fireworks one by one, and Smeagul the mini-Balrog set them off.
What resulted was one of the brightest displays of pyrotechnics ever known.
Then, they kissed.
"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE FIREWORKS!!!" Krisp was excited again.
"There ain't enough for this guy," said South.
What' couldn't but agree. All three watched the fireworks.
The fireworks had hardly started when What' found Krisp and South holding each other.
"I thought I was used to it, but I guess I'm still afraid of these," said Krisp with a shivering voice.
South wasn't saying a thing: he was too scared.
What' didn't feel that good, either. "Guess we still have our triggers since these bombings... Looks like we're not the only ones here to have lived this war. Don't worry guys, it's only fireworks."
"I know, I know," said Krisp. "It's just... I can't help remembering the time... well I guess South does too. Well, South, these things go up, not down, there's no danger here."
"Thanks, Krisp, I... I think I'm okay now."
The two of them then managed to get themselves together and enjoy the show.
After it was over, What' said, "Wow. I think Banzai would have loved this party."
"Quite. A pity he's not there. This is much more epic than any tall ship gathering. The Columbus Race was nothing next to this. Actual fights?"
"Well, in a sense I wonder if it's not better to not have somebody who plays music until three a.m. every night for ten days."
"What', I know you're getting old, turning Vulcan, and all, but going after Banzai??? This is just beyond me."
Deryn yelped as the first ones went off and dived for cover. "Will someone tell whoever's doing that that this is not a good time for a re-enactment?" she yelled, to the room at large. (What, precisely, might be being re-enacted she left unsaid.)
"It's just fireworks," Leas said, watching them.
Deryn considered this, then retreated further under cover as the next lot went off. "It's not exactly an appropriate occasion for that, either! Lord. Next we'll someone'll've brought metal." She shook her head. "Least we shouldn't be able to turn this into a muddy field, an' that's not an invitation for anyone to do so!"
What' saw Deryn's reaction. "I guess half the room has issues with fireworks... What is FicPsych doing?" he said to nobody in particular.
Leas shrugged. "Testing everyone's response to loud noises would be my guess," he said.
"Or how they'd react to similar situations," Deryn grumbled. "Some Sues do seem to fancy guns, after all. Or they could just be trying to give everyone Issues."
"I think they've got enough work without doing that…"
"They should know better than testing the reactions of people who lived through WW2 or anything similar," said What'. "Unless they want to give FicPsych extra work, that is."
"Like there ain't enough work for everybody," said South.
"Exactly," Leas said. "I do think that there really are times when it's inadvisable to use loud noises."
"Quite," said What'. "I used to tell some of my friends exactly that... when they shot cannon."
"Looks like you still haven't gotten over Banzai's style. Oh, I haven't, either. This guy just gets on your nerves. As if partying until three a.m. wasn't enough."
"Don't think there're many pieces that call for cannons. Probably fortunate." Leas arced an eyebrow. "Banzai? A friend of yours?"
"Yes, he is," said What'. "In fact, his name is Cuauhtemoc. No, Krisprolls didn't nickname him this time. Guayas did. Guayas is his brother, by the way. Well, Banzai's one of the fastest ships in the fleet, and one of the most outgoing guys I know. Only Krisprolls and Guayas are worse. Banzai is also very nice with people. Thing is, Krisprolls always has bad ideas to test on him. When I don't have the bad ideas..."
"This guy is too nice. He's so high on playing nice and 'I would die before you could be harmed oh so slightly in any way' and stuff like that. He just deserves a smack on the head."
After the two minutes of silence, Krisp said: "Good thing Banzai wasn't there. He would have died in this. He wouldn't have given up before that. If we ever see him again, we're not telling him about this, or he's going to whine like waaaaaaaaaaaah he wasn't there waaaaaaaaaaaaaah. The idiot just deserves a smack on the head."
"Krisp, you're being too harsh with him. He would have saved many lives, I'm sure. I hope he's happy with the other ships, even as we're not there."
"I hope so, too. Otherwise he's really being an idiot. Who would be unhappy that we don't test our bad jokes on them anymore?"
"Stop that, you dwarf. I prefer Banzai's whinin'."
"Your brother's right, Krisp. Well, I wouldn't mind if both of you stopped calling Banzai whiny. He's not."
Branch 3: Rilwen and Crelmos
Ignoring the sounds, even those of fireworks, Agent Shadowflame slipped in silently. She'd felt that it wasn't her place to come here. After all, she had not been here for the event being remembered.
She was a little surprised at the party atmosphere, but shrugged and reminded herself that everybody celebrated events differently. Finding a corner where it wouldn't be knocked over or set anyone on fire, she lit a single small candle, sticking it to the floor with its own wax.
She hadn't known those involved, but it was fitting at least to pay some small tribute.
Huddled inside her cloak, Rilwen turned to leave.
"I wasn't expecting to see you here." The voice was low, calm, and familiar, sounding from just behind her.
"To be fair, I was not directly involved in the circumstances either. Even after the viruses had been eliminated and the quarantine ended, I didn't venture far from Research during the fight..."
There was a note of amusement in Crelmos' tone now, mingled with a certain wistfulness. "Although I will admit, when I did so, the benefits were considerable, for a while at least... But," he amended, "I suppose this isn't a topic I should pursue at the moment."
It was, at this point, probably fair to say that only a Cardassian could manage an audible smirk.
Then, surprisingly, he added, "I thank you for your tribute. Astatine survived the viruses, through some miracle best known to himself, only to die at our enemies' hands. Were it not for him..." There was a pause, as though he was considering whether or not to reveal his true thoughts.
"Were it not for him, I would not have lived—in more than one sense, you understand. This place may have its shortcomings, but it did allow my mind to awaken at last..." He chuckled softly. "But, once again, I digress."
Rilwen turned, halting her departure. She gave an almost delighted smile upon seeing him. "I wasn't expecting to see you here either. I promise not to tell Teek if you don't." Her smile turned faintly teasing for a moment.
Rilwen nodded a little gravely at his comments about the tribute. "I felt it fitting, even if I never knew them. Because I never will. And, given what you've said, I'm grateful to one of them in particular. I'd have a friend less in that case, and that would be a sad loss." She smiled again.
If only a Cardassian could manage an audible smirk, it was quite possibly only Rilwen who could have been that sincere in describing it as a sad loss in this specific case, though she seemed rather unaware of this singular status.
His thin lips twisted in a wry smile. "Oh, I think she'd be astounded to hear I actually seem to have some vestige of respect for the dead."
Crelmos paused, and put his head to one side. "No, silly me," he added, "she'll only accuse me of some twisted ulterior motive or another. In, of course, less than polite terms."
He smirked again, adding, "It's a pity Astatine is gone. I would have quite liked to see what he would have made of my dear current partner... Really, half the things she accuses me of are quite tame by comparison."
The Cardassian stroked the ridge on his chin, looking thoughtful. "And then, of course," he murmured, "there was the Bajoran... How ironic that he survived, only to succumb to a virus."
Crelmos turned his head to gaze at the candle again, his dark eyes shadowed and unreadable. "I would be lying," he said at last, "if I claimed to feel any emotion over the loss. I hope that does not trouble you."
She looked at him thoughtfully. "It does, a little," she admitted. "I refuse to lie to you. But your reactions are your own, and scarcely my business to judge." Rilwen met her Cardassian friend's eyes, her expression remaining utterly honest.
This was neither the subject nor the time for their usual dancing about on meanings, deceptions and little games.
He looked at her thoughtfully. "I see. I... appreciate your clear thinking," he said at last, his voice completely flat and calm. It was closer to sincerity than he had ever been, perhaps was actual sincerity.
"Well," he added, after a long pause, "do you still intend to leave, or shall we attempt to mingle with the celebration?"
"If you're staying, I'll keep you company." She shrugged. "I see no reason to leave you here." Rilwen looked around. "Of all interesting combinations to create, I think they have Bleepanar over there, right next to the Bleepulan ale."
"If, of course, you'd prefer to absent yourself, there's always kotra." She smiled, and took a neat step sideways to allow an inebriated fellow agent to stagger past without colliding with her.
He smiled again. "How thoughtful of you. But I must admit, I had only stopped by out of curiosity, and the atmosphere is beginning to wear on my nerves somewhat."
He narrowed his eyes slightly, adding, "That moment of silence a little while previously was the most properly respectful part of the whole affair. Honestly, they're like Klingons... my people have a proper reverence for the dead."
There was a low hiss to his words now, which intensified as he said, "But of course, this place is not very hospitable to Cardassians in any case... tsk," he chided himself, "all that talk of Astatine has been forcing me to dwell on the past too long."
The smile he offered was slightly forced, but his voice remained velvety as always. "Kotra sounds delightful. Shall we go?"
Rilwen lowered her eyes briefly. She gave a demure smile before looking back up at him. "Yes, I rather think we shall, even if you are likely to win yet again." Her smile turned wry. "At least I win more games of dejarik, for now. The scores in both should even out over time."
She turned to go, tilting her head back to look up at him. "Reminisce as much or as little as you like while we play. I'll be audience for whatever of it you feel like sharing."
He stared back, his expression carefully neutral.
"That depends on how much you particularly care to know," he said at last. "I'm not very loose-tongued when it comes to my past. That, at least, you ought to know by now."
One corner of his mouth curved in a faint smile, mocking her own with its obviously contrived innocence. "And you really must learn to stop making assumptions. You lasted for quite a while the last time we played, but I must say, jumping to conclusions is not a good long-term strategy. But come," he added, "let's stop dawdling, hm?"
She shrugged and smiled slightly. "I know. It's why I don't intend to pry. But you hand me fragments of it now and then. If I appreciate those, why shouldn't I provide time where you needn't glance over your shoulder and censor yourself?"
Her smile became somewhat teasing. "Maybe I'm lulling you into false security about the game. Maybe I'm playing another five games beyond the one you can see. Or maybe I just enjoy seeing you try to work out what I'm doing." Rilwen stretched a little, smiling lazily. "I agree. Let's go." She headed for the door, pace measured. Knowing Crelmos, he'd likely want to get the last word before they left. And it was the generous act of a friend to give it to him, no?
String 10: A Moment of Silence
Deryn had managed to procure a trumpet. She wasn't getting very far with playing it, though.
Leas sighed. "I think perhaps we should just recite the 'Ode of Remembrance' and observe the silence," he said as she blew another fouled note. "We're not getting anywhere with this."
"And I promised I'd be ready, too," Deryn muttered, lowering the trumpet.
"Well, you might get some attention," Leas suggested. "Two minutes' silence won't be much good unless people are."
"Least people probably won't mistake a trumpet for gunfire," Deryn said, and blew. The sound she produced was remarkably unlike gunfire, and also unlike the sound of a practised trumpet player.
Leas cleared his throat, and pulled out a piece of paper. "If I could… From For the Fallen, Laurence Binyon, forth stanza.
"'They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
"Lest we forget," Deryn murmured, head bowed.
Leas folded the paper up and put it away. "I would now like to ask that we observe two minutes' silence. For ours—and for kin." He bowed his head.
Leto and Jane bowed their heads as well.
Silence reigned, even the stereo going quiet.
Osbert had been about to answer Celinus' question, but when the trumpet sounded he instead turned on his heel, facing the players. Old reflexes and habits kicking into action, he found himself standing at attention, his arm snapping rigidly into a salute as Leas called for two minutes' silence. In his peripherals, he could see Langston struggle to his feet, almost falling but managing to stand and fire off his own salute even as he swayed drunkenly. Nobody said a word, total stillness befalling the Store as a spirit of reflection and remembrance took hold over the celebrations from before. In almost eighty years, he had seen several occasions like this, but he was sure that for many of the people inside, it was their first. By God, did that make him feel old...
You watching us up there, boys?
Troy had wrapped an arm around Cassie's waist to support her when she said she needed to sit down, and had been about to try to lead her to one of the empty RCs he had seen along the hallway, but was interrupted by the call for a moment's silence. Keeping his hold on the young woman to keep her from falling over, he took on a sombre expression, lowering his eyes to the ground. So many people dead, not all of them his friends but all of them comrades-in-arms, it was just terrible. He shuddered, thinking about how many people he almost lost, and did lose, especially as at the same time he wondered how Berger was holding up. His partner had been hit a lot harder by the Invasion than he had.
Shine on, ya crazy diamonds.
To Roy Berger's mind, it was almost as if the fighting had still been going on even as he half-heartedly drank and celebrated with the others. The call for silence had its intended effect, apparently, especially as his eyes moved to the floor and paused at the two mechanical fingers on his right hand. Prosthetics, of course, he'd lost the genuine articles in that damned Escher Room. Gunshots, metal swinging through the air, the screams of the dead and the damned, in the back of his head it was all as fresh as when it happened. Fifty agents trying to hold off what had seemed to be hundreds of Sues... why had he been the one that made it?
Damn it, don't fool yourself... it's because you ran. Just left them to die while you high-tailed it. You Eru-damned coward! Damn it, Silas, Dixon, Carpenter, Harris, Reason, Silverman... they all deserved to make it out of that room more than you did. They were walking around with far worse than a couple missing fingers! You should've faced your fate with honour, dammit!
A hand placed itself on his shoulder, and he looked over just out of curiosity, having to redirect his glance downwards at the shorter man to his right. He didn't dare break the silence, but the look on his face communicated well enough.
To use a saying that had popped up long after he had supposedly "died" on the fields of Waterloo, Alois Bouchard had been given the short end of the stick. Being dragged off the field by what he had thought were either angels or looters in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo, delirious and nearly dead from three bullet wounds and having been stabbed with a bayonet, he'd been an agent less than a month before the viruses hit. Still not fully recuperated from his wounds or the shock of Napoleon Bonaparte's fall and finding himself in totally alien surroundings, he'd had to fight for survival against gigantic, monstrous macroviruses that tore agents apart by the hundreds. Even after that it hadn't been over, he'd had to face a literal army of Mary Sues.
He didn't know what it was, the hand of God, his own skill, or something else entirely, but somehow he'd made it through the ordeals and fighting far more hellish than what he'd seen in the Grande Armeé with not even a scratch. His partner hadn't been so lucky, she didn't even have a chance before the bugs ripped her apart.
In the silence of the Store, he could still hear Lee's screams and remember his own frenzied attempts to fight through the viruses to her. If it hadn't been for that strange blond-haired Norseman, he'd have likely met a similar fate to his first partner. Now, though, he stood here where there was no gunfire, no screams, no dying, just those who lived remembering those who had not. Shaking himself out of his reverie, he looked to his left at the agent who stood by him. The man was a good bit taller than the 5'1" Alois, but even without looking at their face he could tell they were upset. In response, he found his hand reaching out, resting on the man's shoulder in what he hoped was a comforting gesture.
Am I the only one in this store with dry eyes?
Sandra Richardson placed down the mug once the request for silence was heard, the drinking contest she had so boisterously called for grinding to a halt as she looked to Leas, not even paying attention to the drunk man on the other side of the table whose gaze had now drifted to the front of her uniform. She'd been one of the ones lucky enough to escape HQ during the Macrovirus attack, and hadn't been very active in the Invasion's fighting, but she knew many people who had been. Most didn't make it, not even her best friends or partner. That unlucky bugger had caught a bullet with his head in the very last seconds of the fighting. It was a sobering thought, but it hadn't stopped her from coming to the party and trying to enjoy herself like she knew they'd have wanted her to. Her eyes started to water up, but she closed them and shook her head, trying to force any of those feelings down. She couldn't let her feelings or memories get in the way of the party. Eventually, everyone in the store would be dead, why get so worked up?
Oh, who the hell am I kidding?
Basilico Andretti had done a rather good job of blending into the crowd. In fact, he wasn't entirely sure if the majority even knew he was there. However, he was comfortable with this, as he was there just as much to keep an eye on potential troublemakers as to pay his respects to the dead. Of course, he still gave the bar a very wide berth, unlike many of the partygoers, especially since the one time he'd tried to go over one of the people there had given him a look so hateful he almost thought he'd drop dead on the spot. Still, as the moment of silence was called, he bowed his head in respect, even though he'd lost no friends in the fighting.
Lord, please watch our fallen comrades as we ourselves watched o'er them. Let them not be wanting, or troubled. For in Your kingdom, there is naught but peace, and respect for canon. Never shall they go unremembered or unloved, for the PPC still lives, and so does Your kingdom in Heaven. As the Word Worlds are in our care, so are their souls in Yours. In Nomine Patris, Et Fili, Et Spiritus Sancti, Amen.
There was a lot of sniffling, but nobody spoke.
Luke looked around for a moment, noting the wet eyes around him, then blinked hard as the memories of last year's tragedy rose up. While he'd made it through without sustaining any real injuries, he'd seen plenty of others who hadn't been so lucky. For a moment the memory of finding his partner nearly dead in the aftermath of a battlefield threatened to overwhelm him, and he had to wipe hard at his eye to stop the tears overflowing.
Damn it, Jessie, why'd you do that anyway?
At least she had pulled through. He'd known others who weren't so lucky. Taking a deep breath, the tall man swallowed the lump in his throat and stared at the floor, remembering the friends he'd lost.
Nat, who hadn't known any of the fallen, was nevertheless swept up in the emotional wave sweeping the room. She might have complained about the PPC non-stop since she'd arrived, but nothing brought home just how special it was here as much as the sight of all these other people joined together to remember those they'd lost. Suddenly, the solemn atmosphere dragged up some incredibly painful memories, and despite trying to fight them she broke down, though thankfully without making too much noise.
Next to her, Kelvin had also been touched by the remembrance ceremony of silence. He barely knew anything about the event being commemorated, but took the opportunity to pay his own respects to the fallen. When Nat suddenly burst into quiet tears, however, he reacted instinctively and gently embraced her, letting her cry on his shoulder even as he tried to repress his own emotions.
Despite having been rather giggly and fairly tipsy, Cassie was quick to sense the changing mood of the room, and sighed sadly as she let the memories of the fighting return. While she'd managed to avoid the most brutal of the fighting, she'd still seen several agents killed in the Tomb battle, including one man who'd caught a bullet aimed at her. Sniffling a little at that, and somewhat aware of Troy's comforting arm around her waist, she returned the favour and leaned her head on his shoulder, feeling a bit better for the company.
Jessie stopped dancing and turned to face whoever had spoken as the call for silence went out. Having just been beginning to enjoy herself, the switch back to solemnity was a rather unwelcome surprise, but she guessed it couldn't be helped. She glanced around the room, and was mildly surprised to actually spot Luke wiping tears away. Guess he must be more upset than he let on, was all she thought before turning her mind towards the friends — and lover — she'd lost in the fight.
Waking up in Medical, still shocked to find out she'd needed an emergency operation to save her spine, only to then be told that Emma had died in the battle... Jessie blotted the tears away on her sleeve. Don't cry, dammit. Just pay your respects and don't bawl your head off. Em's gone, but she wouldn't want you to cry. You know that.
A young brunette woman hovered near the door, biting her lip as she took in the scene. She'd wanted to help out her fellow agents during the invasion, but, being a member of the DIA, she had been drafted in to help keep order in the PPC city. She'd seen the injured coming in to rest up, though, and couldn't help but feel somewhat relieved that she hadn't had to face the fight.
Across the room, she spotted a fellow DIA agent, Basilico Andretti, and nodded silently to him to acknowledge his presence. Then Hollian Tannis joined the rest of the PPCers in paying her respects to the fallen.