Characters: Hauptmann Dietrich and Hauptmann Arnulf Rosenthal
Author's Note: Sometimes it takes an outside person for us to see the consequences of our actions. The character Arnulf Rosenthal is my own and may not be borrowed without my permission. Nothing from "The Rat Patrol" is mine, obviously, and I am not making any money off of these stories. These stories also are not for the glorification of war or the Nazi Party.
Summary: Even the German army falters under the intense heat of the sun and battle, forcing Dietrich to take action against one of his own to save his life.
"Rosenthal, kommen Sie mit," said Dietrich in a somewhat commanding tone, but the Austrian pilot continued sitting stoically under the shade of the panzer, his eyes closed.
"Nee," Arnulf replied lazily without opening his eyes. "Lass mich in ruhe."
Dietrich smirked and gazed down at the bucket in his hands. He was amused despite the outright disobedience in Arnulf's response. "Rosenthal, I set aside training for today because if I did not, my men would probably faint. I sent them indoors, warning them of dehydration… and here you are, soaking up the sun."
"I like it out here."
"Rosenthal, out of all the men here you are the one most likely to get heatstroke even in the winter here. Come inside."
"There is shade here; I'll be fine."
"Not for much longer you will be. You were out flying today and unless you have anymore canteens hidden about, I suspect you have only had that empty one I saw dropped on the way to here."
Arnulf didn't reply. He simply sighed in annoyance.
Dietrich took a step closer as his worry mounted and showed plainly in his question, "Are you trying to get yourself killed, Rosenthal? Has your life that little meaning?"
"Bitte, geh weg!" Arnulf groaned angrily as he covered his face with his hands. "If you are my friend you will let me be!"
Dietrich's brow furrowed and he thrust the bucket opening at Arnulf, sending a cascade of cold water down upon him. The water hit Arnulf directly in the face and splashed all over his tan uniform.
"Aufstehen Sie! Schnell!" Dietrich yelled, unwilling to give Arnulf a chance to speak first.
Arnulf staggered to his feet, knocking his shoulder against the track of the tank. He yelped in pain, but when his gaze met Dietrich's, he froze. No longer was he listening to a sympathetic friend. The man who stood before him, glowering at him with intense frustration, was a man pushed to the limits of his patience.
Dietrich had had enough.
"No one ever expects that the life of a soldier or even that of a pilot would be easy. Any man who does this is sadly misinformed. Whether you agree with it or not, your life is valuable here and now. Whatever grieves you, whatever forces you into these acts of complete selfishness, just know that it has consequences against all the men who are fighting just to live another day!"
The water dripped from Arnulf's brow but he didn't dare wipe it away.
"If you can't think of a reason why you wish to keep alive, then at least think of those who are depending on you right now! Do you understand me, Captain?"
Arnulf forced himself to square his shoulders, but he couldn't stand at complete attention. His friend was hurt by this. Though Dietrich's tone had been severe, the pain in his gaze betrayed him. Throwing water on him and yelling at him had been the very last resort, one that Dietrich had clearly not wanted to use, but had to out of fear. There was so much for him to fear here.
"Jawohl," Arnulf replied submissively, feeling quite ashamed. "Tut mir leid, herr Hauptmann Dietrich."
Silence passed for a moment, then Dietrich's features relaxed and he smiled lightly. "Ich verzeihen Sie."
At once Arnulf's posture relaxed and he took a moment to inspect his now soaked clothing.
Dietrich asked, "Now, will you come inside?"
"Yes, of course." Arnulf looked at the bucket and frowned. "You could have just kicked me, mein Freund, instead of wasting clean water on me. Clean water, I might add, that you said we need to conserve."
"Who said it was clean?" replied Dietrich as he lifted an eyebrow. He kept his expression void of emotion as he turned from Arnulf and strode back towards the safety of the building.
Arnulf lifted his arm and sniffed his sleeve. "Das Wasser ist schmutzig?" He made a face and shook his arms repeatedly, trying to rid himself of the filth. At least it wasn't anything worse than dish water, Arnulf hoped. He glared at Dietrich's retreating form and yelled, "I could get sick from this you know!"
Dietrich didn't bother turning around, but he yelled anyways, "Would you prefer a slow baking death, Rosenthal?"
"By the way, Rosenthal," said Dietrich, now pausing a moment to look back at him. "You're out of uniform!"
"Panzer commanders," Arnulf hissed loudly as he trundled grudgingly after his friend.
"Pilots!" 15 May 1942
15 May 1942