It was as normal a morning as this family ever had.
Two men were having a passive-aggressive argument over the breakfast table, while another seemed very busy making what appeared to be toast. The room was filled with eating noises and a quiet sort of familiar warmth, as if this was a normal routine that happened often. Another man entered.
"Mail's here!" He grinned, tossing a few envelops on the island then going to sit with the other two. They had just started talking about something unimportant, when a loud crash stopped them.
The jam jar had slipped out of the standing man's grip, shattering. He was holding a heavy, formal-looking letter in one hand, and the other was trembling and covering his gaping mouth. His eyes were wide and staring blankly.
"He's gone." The man breathed. "He's…He's gone."
The warmth left that house for a long, long time.
Some of the papers really were just, Michelle hated to say it, junk. Strange notes-to-self's written in some sort of shorthand she didn't understand (Impor: ICNT due. Can't/can, temp***), very bad pictures that were over-exposed or just showed the side of a thumb or a half of a head, journal pages so water damaged they were unreadable, a hastily-drawn map of some village.
Then she found a letter.
Dear Liz and Roddy,
How ya been? Before you ask, yes Roderich, I misspelled that just to mess with your head. Ha.
I've been awesome, as always. The food here's complete crap; I don't know how the prince there survived it. The guys on my squad are pretty cool, though. Two of them, Francis and Antonio, are nearly as awesome as me. I know, hard to believe, right? Then Arthur has the personality of a cranky old man, and Yao acts like a little kid even though he's the oldest, and the twins- Al and Matt- are good guys. Ludwig still has that sick up his ass though. But that's just him, I guess.
Hey, Lizzy? Could you do me a favor and not read for a sec? I just want to tell the Priss something. Thanks.
Alright, Roderich. I'm going to say this, and I'm only going to say it once. You were right.
Did you get that? You. Were. Right.
I thought you were just being YOU and all prissy and stuff when you said all that stuff about what was going on over here. This is me eating my words.
It's not even just the other side…Our army and our allies are burning down just as many innocent civilian towns then the enemy! I don't get it, aren't we the good guys? And the enemy is ruthless: they mutilate bodies, Roderich! I've only heard of what they do to POWs, but even hearing it…God. Just be glad you got out of here when you did. Not that I'm happy about your hands! (Come to think of it, how ARE your hands? Can you play?)
And Ludwig's been weird since we went through this raided town. He won't tell me exactly what happened, but it has something to do with a kid…He has nightmares about it.
So…Yeah, that's all I want to say to you. Don't show it to Liz: I don't want her to worry and stuff. She can start reading again after this line, okay?
Hi again, Lizzy!
So…Yeah, not the best place I could be I guess. Not my top vacation spot. But everything will be okay, and I'll come home soon and it'll all be awesome! We'll have a party!
They reminded her of a group of friends a year ahead of her in school- Two girls and a boy. They had been stuck together pretty much since they were born due to their families and were almost never seen without each other. It was painfully obvious that two of them were going to get together, but there were actually running bets as to which two (And since at least one of the girls was Bi, it really could be any combination).
She hoped those three would never be forced into a situation like this one.
Michelle placed the thin paper to the side and picked up another. Her eyes widened.
This was Grandpa Francis's handwriting.
My dear Jeanne,
I will start by saying that imagining your beauty helps me through the long nights here. In a place of such ugliness, the thought of you shines like a beacon of hope. I miss you darling, more so every day.
Things are so much different here than at home. It is so easy to kill…So easy to sin. We have already lost a friend here, and we don't even know to what. Days pass slowly, nights even slower- I haven't slept properly in weeks. The nightmares follow me even there. I miss home- You, Momma and Father, even dear Geneviève, insufferable dog she is.
Yesterday, though, was a bit better than most. Knowing many of us were feeling down due to recent events, Antonio, Alfred and Gilbert put together something to cheer us up. They decided to make a strange show for all of us, though it was mostly them acting out old Saturday Night Live skits and telling bad jokes. Antonio tried a magic trick or two as well…Let's just say that now we all know why he's not in magic professionally. It did make us all feel a little better, though. Those three are good at that. Arthur, of course, griped about it because he says they're never serious, but what can you do? Once a stick-in-the-mud, always a stick-in-the-mud.
We are heading out for a mission soon. It might be several weeks before I can write again. My heart, as always, is with you.
Her hands shook. Grandma had died when Michelle was just a kid, about 7 or so, from a brain tumor. Her memories of the women were fuzzy at best, but one thing she remembered well was her going on about how much of a sweet talker Grandpa had been in his youth.
If all the letters he wrote to her were like this, she could see why.
Before she could make herself more upset then she already was, she let the paper slip from her hands and snatched another one up.
Something's gone wrong.
I'm not sure how, but something's gone horribly, horribly wrong.
It was just a mission, a routine mission, nothing to worry about. At it seemed like that, at first.
Then there was a sound all of us recognized as a bomb, and we turned to see the place base camp used to be with a huge smoke cloud over it. There was a moment of eerie silence, and then everything went completely to hell.
They came from all directions: The enemy was everywhere, and no one knew which way was up. One second Toris was next to me, the next second he was on the ground with a bullet through his skull. And there was blood everywhere. God, there was blood everywhere.
We all ran for cover in the forest, which is where regrouped...Kind of. The only people here are Yao, Gilbert, Ludwig, Francis and myself. No one has any idea where Alfred, Matthew, Ivan or Kiku are. Francis says he might have seen Antonio go down, but…We just don't know.
We have almost no supplies. We have no navigation equipment. The radios are shot. We're trapped in enemy territory. There isn't much hope.
All we can do now is pray to God someone finds us, and stumble on as best we can.
Michelle had never felt more helpless in her life.
Guys, I'm SO sorry this took so long. There's a lot of family stuff I've been needing to deal with, and I've been camping, and…Sorry. Also, FF has been being stupid. Really. Fucking. Stupid.
This chapter's a bit longer. And more existing. Things are going to start getting much, much sadder in the next chapter.
I admit, I love the Frying Pangle way to much not to include it at least once. If you didn't get it, Roderich was in the army but was discharged due to injury.
I hope Francis's letter wasn't too sappy…
Thank you for reading!