(Author's note: Hey, remember Calm Before the Storm? This story has a similar premise, except it's about Nichol and Franca. Since this story has so much to do with Nichol and Franca's life after the civil war, I thought it'd make sense to post their epilogues here.
Nichol's epilogue: After the end of the Gallian Civil War Nichol joined the army as a sniper to protect not only his sister but all of Gallia. His skill with a sniper rifle rivaled even Brixham's.
Franca's epilogue: After graduation, Franca enlisted in the military after Nichol and was given command of a squad, despite enlisting after her brother.)
When the civil war of EC 1937 ended, the Lanseal cadets, even though their education wasn't really complete, received their diplomas and were sent home. Many of them chose to enter a profession, but those with pushier parents had to complete, as in really complete, their education first. Franca and Nichol were among those.
Franca felt it was unnecessarily humiliating. Most of the Class G students, even those a few years younger than her, had gone into professions. But when her parents told her their plans, she readily accepted, not because she really felt a need to complete her education, but to make sure Nichol completed his and was able to get into a decent profession.
Franca would disguise her protectiveness as she always had for her younger brother: by acting like a pressuring sibling, just like at Lanseal - even after she dropped her guard on this front once when rescuing Nichol.
Nichol accepted his parents' views simply because he couldn't face the embarassment of saying no. Even after fighting through a war and getting paise for his sniping skills (except, of course, by Franca) he lacked the confidence of giving his own views on any matter and simply agreed with whoever was speaking at the time.
He hadn't told anyone about it, but ever since learning that they weren't related by blood, he had started to feelings for Franca. He wouldn't have told anyone about this even if everyone didn't think they were siblings, and because everyone thought they did, and Franca thought he did, he found it even harder to tell her.
That was two years ago. During the spring of 1939, the Federation attempted skirmishes on its side of Gallia's border because most of Gallia's defence was concentrated towards the Empire, and in a few weeks these skirmishes developed into all-out war.
Their education was barely completed, when the Army came knocking at their door to scout Nichol again, the same way he ended up at Lanseal. Their parents talked it over with him that evening, with Franca sitting silently apart from them and maintaining an icy silence. Nichol was the only one who realized that the reason for her giving her parents the cold shoulder was that she hadn't approved when they let Nichol go to Lanseal either - she didn't want him put in danger. They had said she was sheltering him too much. They'd argued loudly about it for hours, and Nichol, who had been lurking outside listening to them shout, heard Franca say that she didn't want him shot at.
It had been a surprise finding out how much she cared about him. She'd always criticized him for, well. everything. Even things he did right; she'd say he could do them better. But the even bigger surprise was when he overheard his parents talk about it later and mentioned that Nichol wasn't really Franca's brother, though she still thought he was. In the end, Franca gave in and let her parents send Nichol off under the condition that she enrolled at Lanseal at well.
So now, while Nichol listened to his father lecturing him about one's duty to their country and the importance of patriotism, he wasn't all that surprised to see Franca so tight-lipped. Finally his parents turned to Franca.
"Don't think I have forgotten about you either, Franca," his father said (he, like Franca, had a stern nature), "Your silence this evening has spoken volumes. I know you disapprove of Nichol having to put his life in danger. But your brother can't live sheltered his whole life, and this is not his first exposure to war. Don't hold someone of his talent back."
For the first time that evening, Franca spoke, and her voice wasn't as strong as it always was. "If you insist... but I'm not letting him go by himself," then with an abrupt return to her usual nature, "or he'll slow his entire squad down."
"I'm surprised," said her father. "The last time we did this, you kept arguing for hours. Look on the bright side, Franca. Nichol might be in more danger there, but at least he'll have a splendid weapon to fight with."
At that the temperature in the room dropped three degrees, and Franca left without a word.
"I should go get ready then," Nichol said hurriedly and left as well.
That had been a few months ago. Nichol joined the army as a sniper and following his briefing about the areas they'd have to defend, Nichol was introduced to his squad's leader. The squad leader was a tall man with a goatee and shoulder length hair that looked like it had never been cut.
"I'm Imran," the leader said, shaking his hand like a thermometer. Clearly their energy levels didn't match. "What's your name?
"Nichol," he said quietly.
"Nichol Martin? I heard a lot about you from some students at Lanseal."
Nichol looked up in surprise. Could he get a good impressionhere, if those students had praised him?
"What did they say about me? Something about my sniping?"
"No," Imran said, looking amused. "Mostly they told me how you got shot thirty seconds into one of the Levatain prelims. Or how you got left behind in a battlefield when everyone went back and a whole class had to come rescue you. Or how your hair caught fire once." Imran went off into an alarming cackle of laughter.
"Oh," Nichol said. He had a feeling he knew who the students were, and sure enough two or three soldiers passed by who he recognized from Lanseal, led by Ricardo Kristenson who had been the class chair of Class A after Juliana died. Although they pretended to be passing by, Nichol felt what they were really trying to do was see how humiliated he was.
"Don't be depressed, I'm not here to remind you of your mess-ups," Imran said, thumping him on the back. "I'm sure you've got a lot of potential. Now get ready, we're throwing you into the middle of conflict tomorrow."
That was how Nichol got introduced. Franca joined the same squad as Nichol a few days later and got right around to telling Imran how much of a liability Nichol was. Imran thought otherwise.
"We've had him here for a while," Imran said, "and he seems pretty good. Don't you think you're being a little... overprotective of him?"
In fact, that was what everyone's attitude towards Franca was at the start, but a few days in she proved that she was as good a soldier as Nichol if not better, so they allowed her her 'overprotectiveness' even though whenever she'd have Nichol stay behind they'd complain about how much that would affect them and every time Franca would point out, not altogether unfairly, that a sniper was the best kind of soldier to defend base camp.
On one of their night missions (which unluckily had a thunderstorm as well), Nichol was leaning against the sandbags around their base camp thinking how much more useful he could be if he was out in the field when he noticed that the 'distant gunshots', as he always thought of them, weren't really distant anymore. They were so close now that he could hear the shouts of the soldiers. They were being pushed back. Finally, he got to make himself useful. He put his sniper rifle over the sandbags and fired at the Federation soldiers when they came into view.
His sniping was so good that he surprised even himself. Although he couldn't take all the credit himself, the battle soon leveled as the Gallians stayed close to the base camp and waited to wipe out each group of Federation soldiers that came up. While one of the final groups of Federation soldiers moved out one of the Gallians yelled as he took a bullet to the leg. Everyone gathered around him and only Franca saw the camoflauged Federation sniper lying flat on the ground and taking aim at Nichol who had abandoned his cover.
She yelled and dragged him out of the way, just in time as the bullet whizzed past them. The sniper got up and fled and the Gallians went after him except Franca, who was still clutching Nichol, and Imran, who was looking after the soldier who'd been shot.
"What the heck were you thinking?" Franca shouted at Nichol.
"Hey, everyone makes a mista - " Imran began, but was interrupted.
"I told you he's no good when everyone's not babysitting him!" she yelled at him. "I told my parents years ago what a disgrace he is."
Luckily the others came back and told them the sniper had gotten away, otherwise she'd have gone on for hours. Although Franca didn't go on about it when they got back, she wasn't peaceful in her mind for a long time. The adrenaline that went through her when Nichol was in danger could power half the tanks in Gallia. She wasn't going to let him go through another war reliant on moments of good form or sparks or flashes of good luck to cover for a lack of experience. Although after cooling down she felt she could have let him escape the blame, the notion that even keeping him at the back of the field kept him safe was completely unconvincing.
(A/N: Well that was pathetic. I really need to work on writing battle scenes.)