Author's Note: I've heard the Sergeant referred to as "Rico" several times, whether that's his real name or not, I'm not exactly sure. But that's what he'll go by in this fic.

Purple Heart

Newly appointed General Rodent scurried down the lengthy hallways of the castle, heading for the throne room. He was to inform the king of an important matter from the S.H.C.: the squirrel army of Windy. Dashing along the corridors, and nearly toppling over a weasel guard, Rodent found himself in front of the massive oak doors which held the throne room. Tugging on his collar slightly, he entered.

Yet, the king was nowhere to be found.

Instead, the gray squirrel found the animated duo of Ron and Reg, a paint pot and paint brush that were rarely seen apart.
"Ehmm, hello there, h-have you s-seen, Conker?" Rodent piped up.
"Conker?!" Ron laughed, spluttering red paint every which way, "That king o'yers? Up in his room somewheres."
"Y-yeah, he's up in his room somewheres, hehehehehehe!" Reg naturally added.
"Didn't I tell you to stop repeatin' everything I say? Shut up!"
"You shut up!"
"See, there you go again!"
Reg simply laughed in response.
"Uhmm, are y'sure?" Rodent asked quietly.
"What?! Yeh, maybe. Maybe he's gone an killed hisself."
"Yeah, k-killed hisself!"
"Shut up!"
"O-okay then…thanks..." Rodent went on his way, finding the stone spiral staircase that lead to the king's quarters.

Conker, the king, lounged about on the oversized bed in the center of the room. He lay on his back, with one arm lying limply at his side, while the other flicked a yo-yo around. He had become rather good at it, given he didn't have the energy to do other things. He was still sore from the previous day's events, not to mention he hadn't slept well at all. Catching the toy once again, he sighed, chucking the yo-yo across the room and hitting the door. Little did he know that his skittish general was on the other side. Upon hearing the loud 'thunk' on the door, Rodent slipped, and with a nasally cry, tumbled back down the stairs. Conker thought of ignoring the wail from outside, but decided against it; Rodent would probably be back to bug him later anyway. Hopping off the bed, the red squirrel king proceeded to the door and down the stairs, stepping over the fallen Rodent.
"Oh, hey, Rodent." Conker idly greeted, stifling a laugh. The grey squirrel saluted him. "Good day, sir. I've come to report."
"Alright, what is it?" he replied, trying his best to look interested.
"Well, it seems that Sergeant Rico has something for you. He said he'd meet you down at the wharf."
"Huh, the wharf, well alright then." Conker started to leave, until he noticed Rodent following him. He gave the grey squirrel a quizzical look.
"Oh, thank you, sir!" Rodent scuttled off, muttering things to himself.
"Idiot," Conker said aloud, before leaving the castle.

Windy wasn't much different than it was the day before; the windmill was still scattered about, the dung beetles and wasps were out. The only glaring difference was the light rain that parted the clouds. Along the way, Conker found himself not paying much attention to where he was going. He knew the way well enough to the point where he could let his mind wander and still end up in the right place, which is exactly what he did. His thoughts returned to the prior day's events: the bad hangover in the morning, retrieving the late Queen Bee's hive, teaming up with Franky, a talking pitchfork, "assisting" several pompous catfish, hiking in Poo Mountain, participating in various coliseum games, becoming a victim to a vampire, the war, the heist, the grim reaper.

But every time his thoughts kept returning to one thing: the final moments he spent with his girlfriend, Berri, how he held her in his arms as she lay dying, peppered with bullet wounds. He shuddered at the memory, one that would forever be burned into his consciousness.

Eventually he ended up at the wharf. The rain was heavier now, and fog took to the sky. What surprised him the most was that he was not alone; the entire S.H.C. was there waiting for him, and Sergeant Rico headed them. Upon his arrival, all present took their gaze to him, and as if on queue, the S.H.C parted, opening a path to the Sergeant.
Conker hesitated slightly, but eventually followed the path. As he walked, he could feel their eyes watching him. Silence hung thickly in the air. It was rather uncomfortable. Taking a quick breath, he quickened his pace.
"Come over here boy." Rico called, gesturing with a furry paw. Conker stepped forward. "As a token of our appreciation for your service to the Squirrel High Command, we present to you, this."
The Sergeant opened his paw, revealing a Purple Heart. He placed it Conker's paw. The red squirrel just stared at the decoration for a moment before returning his gaze to the Sergeant, mouthing "Why?"
"You left before we could give it to you. Take it boy."
Conker was still confused; sure, he had taken a few hits and burns while on the battlefield, but nothing serious.
"We heard it. We heard it all."
And it was then he understood. Conker pinned the Purple Heart to his chest.

"Attention!" Rico ordered. All troops came to attention.

Rico nodded, and Conker set off down the open path once more. As he passed, each soldier saluted him. For some reason, the squirrel felt a sense of accomplishment, contentment, closure even. Regardless, he held his head high, and stuck out his chest;

and for once, he felt proud to be king.

One by one, he led the S.H.C out of the wharf. Conker paused a moment, turned on his heel, and looked back at the Sergeant, saluting him. Rico returned the salute, knowing then that he was dismissed.


End Note: I have no idea what the process/ceremony for rewarding a purple heart is like. It's probably wrong, please forgive me. XD