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Gunfire has a minion!

Tom the Azra




Gunfire
Legacy Name: Gunfire


The Nostalgic Devonti
Owner: SEOUL

Age: 5 years, 9 months, 1 week

Born: November 7th, 2016

Adopted: 5 years, 9 months, 1 week ago

Adopted: November 7th, 2016


Pet Spotlight Winner
October 1st, 2017

Statistics


  • Level: 1
     
  • Strength: 10
     
  • Defense: 10
     
  • Speed: 10
     
  • Health: 10
     
  • HP: 10/10
     
  • Intelligence: 0
     
  • Books Read: 0
  • Food Eaten: 0
  • Job: Unemployed


Nancy

She could just make out her reflection in the sliding glass of the train's window. Pretty brown eyes that were a little puffy from lack of sleep. Small lips made more notable by a thin layer of pink lipstick. No-nonsense black hair cut nearly as short as a boy's yet curled in such a way that she could pass for a movie extra as easily as a nurse-in-training.

She shuddered a bit as the whistle blew. She'd heard the phrase "my life passed before my eyes" often enough but she had never thought to live such an experience.

There were warm summer nights sitting on Daddy's lap in the belly of his plane. He'd taken up crop dusting after the first Great War, making a little money on the side when the crops did poorly. Their family was never rich, but neither did they end up living out of a box when the Depression hit. The year she turned fifteen, her best friend Mary had delighted the group with a glossy magazine she'd dug out of some rich girl's trash can. They sat for hours staring longingly at the models who boasted fashions straight from Paris and London and New York.

Nan was going to be the first female pilot. She was going to fly to Paris someday. She was going to eat at the little bistros and shop until her bags were too heavy to carry. Some handsome young man with a foreign accent and a mischievous twinkle in his eye would surely come to her rescue...

Such fanciful thoughts ended with the start of the War to End All Wars.

Her attempts to join the air force were scorned by men in peaked caps, their beefy chests plastered with rows of medals. The girls she had once considered her best friends were disappearing, some going into training as nurses and secretaries while others abandoned all reason to chase a soldier boy who had promised his heart after a night of too much wine and moonlight.

She was full of angry energy the night she let Peggie convince her to go to the dance hall. Peggie always had been a practical farm girl with zero interest in the world beyond her father's fields. She wanted no part in the war. All she wanted was to have a fun evening.

Nan lost sight of Peggie almost instantly. The band was really swinging and there must have been a hundred men in the place, dancing and laughing or sitting at one of the tables and chatting up their dates. Nan let the music draw her into the arms of one, two, three partners. All were in uniform and all were nice guys, but none captured her eye like the brooding brunette in the corner.

Her looks were not wasted for more than a glance or two. He rose slowly, as if dazed. When he held out his hand, there was a rightness in the shape of his fingers curling around her palm. He moved with a fluid grace that made her shudder and when he leaned in to steal a kiss, she could taste the subtle hint of lemon and booze and something vaguely spicy on his breath.

They ended up sitting on a hay bale next to Fred Smith's barn, of all places. He told her about growing up in South Dakota and she gushed about her dreams of flight. He never scoffed or tried to convince her that such thoughts were unbecoming. He recognized the passion in her voice.

That night he made her two promises. He would make her his wife and he would put in a good word for her with his best friend. Ed was a pilot with few rivals, one capable of teaching a child the controls. Two of the boys he'd trained were already aces.

Her decision to join the Nurse Corps came later as the tone of his letters gradually went from cheery to dismal. Things were not going well overseas. Nan had to do her part. She just couldn't sit and do nothing while the world was changing not by the day, but by the hour. She had to make a difference somehow.

This was the thought lingering in her mind as the train chugged and started to pull forward. I have to make a difference.

Tom

The Colonel's voice was a droning buzz in the back of Tom's mind. He had a more important subject to consider than the tactical advantages of attacking the Nazis from Alpha-2 rather than Delta-8.

Like the precise curve of Nan's chin when she laughed. He'd always had a vivid imagination and a photographic memory. He put these to use now, envisioning the way Nan's flawless lips parted ever so slightly at the center. He leaned in to close that gap with his upper lip...

"Do you find this topic boring, Lieutenant? Or do you find it amusing that without this information, you'll be leading a dozen men to their deaths?"

The smile dropped from his face. He'd never been good at controlling his tongue, especially when someone was talking down to him. He'd been an unholy terror to his teachers. It didn't help that he'd been compared to Cary Grant in the looks department. It was sort of hard to live that one down.

"I was just thinking this war would be over in half the time if we'd all stop jawing about pins on a map and get out there and kill some Jerrys, sir." The other men cheered until an icy glare from the captain froze those smiles in place.

"I suppose it doesn't matter to you how many of our fine boys get blown to bits in the process?" Captain Pullman's lip curled in disgust. "You're the sort of hothead that's all actions and no brains, Warren. To teach you a little appreciation for the finer details in life, you're going to scrub latrines for the next two weeks. If I see even one speck of dirt on that floor, you'll earn yourself a month. Are we clear, soldier?"

"Sir, yes sir!" Tom screamed the reply at the top of his lungs. His captain would probably push him in front of a Nazi artillery cannon, given the chance. Tom didn't care. He'd heard Wagner playing in the captain's tent one night when he was coming in from patrol. It was the sort of music the enemy loved. Tom couldn't look at his captain without wanting to hit the man.

The photo of Nan tucked into the springs of the top bunk was his focus that helped him calm down. She was so beautiful in her red polka dot dress, her leg lifted slightly and her eyes crinkling at the corners. So beautiful. He wrote her every chance he got and he couldn't care less that some of the guys teased him. They were jealous and he was glad.

Nancy

Nan sat in the space between her bunk bed and the corner of the wall, doing her best to make no noise as she cried. She had no idea that the other eleven new nurses in the room were doing the exact same thing at that same moment. They were warriors of a different kind from the moaning mass just a few feet away. They hid their disgust and terror at the sights of war behind lipstick smiles and flirty banter. It was that or go insane.

They'd seen three waves of incoming wounded so far. Nan was learning not to look in the eyes of the soldiers she treated. There was nothing she could say to ease the terror of dying boys who should have never been allowed to board a plane. There was nothing she could do to ease pain when the morphine ran out. All the supplies were running low but this too was in the hands of others. She could only stand meekly while the doctors yelled and eventually collapsed from sheer exhaustion.

Her parents had forbidden her to go when she asked their permission to volunteer. She had snuck out in the middle of the night, sleeping in the barn where she and Mary used to play as a child. The war had been going on too long. Nobody asked questions anymore about where a girl came from or what her precise age might be. Volunteers were too badly needed. At the tender age of seventeen, Nan was halfway around the world from her home and learning more about death than any butcher in America.

The sketch helped her retain her sanity. It had been in one of Tom's letters, an almost perfect replica of a B-17 Flying Fortress. She touched the propellers and nose with reverent fingers, imagining how it would feel at the controls of such a monster. The view would be unbeatable. She could almost hear the drone of the engines, almost feel the sensation of taking off as her heart soared high above the conflict to a place in the sky no member of mankind had dared to explore.

Tom

Battle was like nothing else. He'd never felt so energized, with every detail of the world was thrown into sharp relief. He could have counted each blade of grass and clod of dirt lifted by the boots in front of him, if it weren't for the line of flashing muzzles that forced him to refocus on the enemy. The fighting had been going on for well over an hour but his squad was just reaching the real action zone.

In the heat of combat, he'd barely registered his first kill. Somewhere in the back of his mind was the thought that the guys would drink to him that night. The thought of their typical boisterous songs almost brought a smile to his face.

Reasons to smile were getting fewer every day. Ed's death had shaken him bad. Ed was one of those guys who couldn't die, the kind who had tested his luck so many times and come out smiling. Then there was the fact that the new recruits were late and the units in the area were holding a piss-poor piece of swampland that held nothing but the promise of mold in their socks. Tom was glad he'd have the chance to blow a few things up. If he had to stare at trampled mud for one more day, he would lose it.

Tom grimaced as he watched the soldier next to him get thrown high into the air by a well-aimed lucky shot. Even as he took cover, Tom's eyes remained on the boy. Was his name Jack or John? Ron? Tom felt sick. He'd eaten his corn flakes across from this guy not two days ago and he couldn't remember the guy's name.

He saw the captain's subtle signal. Go left and use the terrain to your advantage.

The stands of tall weeds did keep him out of view of the pair of krauts arguing over something they'd found in the mud. They couldn't be more than fifteen, either one of them. They didn't even hear his approach. Most of the soldiers were moving east, leaving behind the fallen. There would be time to honor the dead later.

At least there would be, if these boys were not robbing a corpse.

The soldier was a private but somehow he'd managed to get his hands on a silver flask. Real silver. Tom's vision went a little blurry as his focus narrowed on the exact place that would drop the first boy before he could make a sound. The second stared with wide eyes as Tom raised the gun again.

Crack!

This was not the frenzy of battle, where an opponent's face was blank of all emotions. The two bodies crumpled to the ground were just boys. Scared boys who probably hadn't managed to secure a bowl of gruel in days. It was the first time Tom had really studied one of his kills. His hands began to tremble and he bit his wrist until it bled.

What am I turning into?

Nancy

Nan was coming to recognize the beauty in trivial little details that most people would ignore. The red lipstick stain on a white porcelain mug with a chip on the rim in a shade only Betty was bold enough to wear. Carol's towel thrown casually over a chair that had curled to form an upside-down question mark. Tiny motes of dust bright as stars that danced in the light of the single beam of sunlight that had snuck through a crack in the blinds.

She'd been with her unit for nearly three months now. They had no secrets left, not when one injured batch came at the hour when they usually spent their shower tokens. Arms went around shoulders automatically when one of them began to cry and all twelve would giggle at jokes that left visiting commanders, fly boys and common soldiers staring at them like they'd all cracked down the middle.

Laughing was the only way to keep from cracking.

The sirens blared to life, cutting off Sandy's story about her last conversation with her boyfriend at the local ice cream parlor. They all scrambled into their uniforms, all hopes of a quiet morning erased by the annoying wail overhead.

It wasn't so bad. Only a dozen soldiers and only three of the men had serious wounds.

Deb rubbed her hands together. "One for each of us. I call dibs on the cutest one of the bunch."

They all laughed and a few of the soldiers smiled. Nan was about to make her reply as her eyes scanned the men in the beds. They skimmed over the mummy at the end of the row...and returned.

She could no longer hear the laughter and banter at her back. Though the room was not large, she seemed to be fighting a current of some soupy liquid that was stopping up her lungs and blurring her vision. She knew the shape of his nose and the curve of his lips, about all that was visible of his face beneath a thick wad of bandages. She'd been studying his picture for weeks, whispering his name into her pillow like a prayer before going to sleep.

She picked up Tom's limp hand, unaware that everyone in the room was watching her. She didn't hear when they called her name and she took no notice when the doctor came over.

She flinched at the hand on her arm. The young doctor's face was greasy with sweat and there were bags under his eyes. "The best thing you can do is get some rest. What happens to him is out of our hands but it won't help him at all if you collapse. The only way you can take care of him is by taking care of yourself."

His words made sense. She tried to take his advice, eating mechanically and going to bed at the usual hour. The whispers of the other nurses - their pity for her and their wonderings about their own men in the lines - was too much. Though it was the wee hours of the morning, Nan slipped into her robe and tiptoed the length of the hall to the room where the new arrivals were kept.

She sat at Tom's side all night. The same doctor found her drooping in her chair, fingers still wrapped loosely around Tom's hand. He escorted Nan back to her quarters and warned her that she was not to work that day. He charged Betty and Jane with her care. They took that duty seriously, hiding Nan's uniform and commanding her to sit when a small group of new arrivals was escorted to B wing. Six trained nurses and two rookies could certainly handle that crowd.

It wasn't easy finding a balance but Nan pulled herself together enough to fool even her friends into thinking she was alright. She was not alright. Every day that Tom remained in his coma, another tiny piece of her heart shriveled up and died.

She spent every spare moment beside him, sponging his brow and talking to him about anything that popped into her head. She would swear to anyone that asked that the motion of his eyelids increased when she spoke. She took it as a good sign though the doctors were less optimistic. They warned that if Tom woke, he would never go back into battle.

It was about three weeks after Tom's arrival that the doctors made the rounds to every floor at 3:00 A.M. The allied forces had been pushed back too far. The city was in danger and the hospital was directly in the line the enemy was trying to break.

The evacuation started immediately. The most critical patients were loaded into trucks first, the able-bodied soldiers following behind on crutches or walking unaided.

Nan had once been a leader of her unit, jumping in to help wherever she could. Now she was almost useless, able to care for and about only one patient. She was oblivious to the orders barked by doctors. In the chaos, nobody even noticed her insubordination.

The artillery started to fall as the last few Red Cross trucks were pulling out of the back city gates. Nan listened to the screams of the dying and the popping of many guns firing in the night. She cried until she ran out of tears, holding Tom's hand as they left the French town that had sheltered them far behind.

She had once dreamed of visiting the sights of Paris. By all accounts, Paris was burning and the world was soon to follow.

The young doctor found her settling Tom into a new bed. She could not meet his gaze. He gestured for her to sit on the edge of Tom's bed, taking a chair for himself.

"I'm going to pretend I didn't see you ignoring a direct order from one of your superiors. You swore an oath to put saving lives above all else. We all have loved ones in this bloody war, but what happens to them does not give us a chance to wallow. We are the difference for life and death for these men."

His words hurt because there were true. She nodded, unable to speak around the lump in her throat. He nodded in return and left her.

"He's right, Tom. I love you so, so much, but I'm part of something bigger now. I promise I'll still be there for you as much as I can but I have my duties now."

Tom's eyes flickered and opened. His eyes came into focus, settling on Nan.

"Where am I?"

Nan scooted into the corridor. "Doctor!"

It was the young doctor that heard her cry. He stood over the bed, shining a light in Tom's eyes and speaking to him gently.

"What's your name, Soldier?"

"My name? I don't...I can't...I think my father used to call me Scooter."

"Do you remember your father's name?"

"No."

"How about your mother, son?"

"She made the best gosh darn pies this side of the Mississippi. At least, I think she did. Somebody told me that once. I think his name was Carl."

"Don't try to sit up, just relax. Do you remember this young lady?"

Tom stared at Nan for so long, his eyes looked glazed. "I sure wish I could, Mister. She's the most beautiful girl I've ever seen."

Nan put on a brave little smile, trying to contain the wail building in her chest.

One of the nurses in the hall stumbled, sending a tray of surgical tools clattering to the floor. Tom stiffened and shrank back against the pillow. "Oh sweet Lord, they're everywhere! They're going to take the town!"

The doctor steered him back, holding him down. "Relax, son. There are no soldiers within fifty miles of our location. You are perfectly safe."

Nan bit her lip so hard she tasted blood. Nowhere was safe anymore.

Tom

His body didn't obey the simplest commands and his mind was wrapped in a fog that would sometimes clear with frightening clarity. Tom had always been so sure of himself. Now he wasn't sure of anything.

Every day was a new source of frustration. His bandaged hands wouldn't allow him to feed himself for two weeks. His bad leg hitched as he was limping his way past a visiting Colonel, leaving him sprawled on the tile as the blood from his battered nose pooled. When he spoke, there was a slur to his words that hadn't been there before and he would often trail off halfway through a thought as he tried desperately to remember some snatch of memory that was playing through his head.

Worst of all was his utter lack of memories about the gorgeous nurse who insisted on visiting him every day. Nan. Her name was Nan. He had to remember that. Maybe he could get it tattooed somewhere. He smiled at a memory of Private Winter's very private tattoo.

He could remember most of the men of his unit and the battles he'd fought in. He still saw the faces of the boys he'd killed in his nightmares. It seemed like he could remember all the things he would rather forget.

He smiled when Nan walked in. He could picture the dance hall she described in such perfect details. He just couldn't remember it.

Nancy

They flew back to the States together. Tom was treated as a hero at first but in time came the cease-fire and the return to daily life for so many. People were embarrassed by his public outbursts when a loud sound brought back the horrors of combat at the most unlikely moments.

He did make good on his promise, though. It was only days after their arrival back on their home soil that Tom slid a wedding band onto Nan's finger.

Nan had made her peace with the fact that her bond with Tom would kill any chance she'd ever had of learning to fly. She bore his challenges with patience and never complained. She did not get angry when his condition forced him to leave three different careers. She kept the children at a safe distance when Daddy was having one of his bad days.

When they were both too old to live in their old farmhouse any longer, she scoffed at the idea of a room of her own. Though she hadn't worked as a nurse since the war, she was always plenty eager to speak her mind if she felt Tom's latest meds were doing him more harm than good.

They made so many wonderful memories together but to his dying day, Tom could not remember their first meeting.

The sound of gunfire was in Nan's ears when she breathed her last.

Credits
Profile by Shantal Story by Pureflower Art by FEL

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