Small Dose Of Sanity

Where: Miravet on the Ebro
Who: Avery, Lind, Matti, Vaclav
When: July, 1938

City

Coordinates : 9 7

The small town of Miravet is a picture of Spanish poverty. Very rural, but with little in the way of arable land around, its population in peacetime was made up of desperately poor Spanish campesinos. Governments, no matter how well intentioned, can't make corn grow from stone and so the situation here had not improved greatly under the Republic.

The town is abandoned now, as the war looms near, but the red and black stripes of the CNT can still be seen, painted on the walls of the shacks in paint now peeling with premature age thanks to the hot Spanish sun.

It is currently daytime.

Sub-Rooms :
1. Shack
2. Shack
3. Burned out church

Avery large form is silloetted in the door frame as he pauses to let his eyes adjust to the dimly light church.

The church's former purpose is all but lost to sight, amidst the crates of munitions, and machine gun emplacements which dot the western wall. Standing near one of these, Vaclav turns his narrow eyes toward Avery at the other soldier's entrance. "Comrade," he rumbles in even greeting.

Matti is leaning against the wall near a window, his left leg straight to the side, splinted and bandaged. His right arm and shoulder are also bandaged, but seem to have some mobility… Looks like he's been shot up. Again. As Avery enters the charred church, he turns around, calling out, "Hey there, pirate."

Avery nods to each man in turn as he moves further into the building.

Vaclav rumbles curtly toward Avery, "Throw good, Avery?" Adding a moment later, "Pick up petrol bottle if you can do with it. Take plenty bullets, and stand ready."

Avery smiles at Vaclav, "I have one with me Comrade. Are we expecting company soon?"

Vaclav sniffs once, still frowning, to return, "Always expecting company. When orders come- one way or the other, want to be ready to move, fast." His blue eyes glare out the window onto the rocky ground to the west.

Avery nods quietly, then looks about the room finally taking up post in another westward window.
Matti mutters, over to Vaclav, "By the way, how did the rest of the attack go? I lost consciousness at some point after we took this village. Did the enemy penetrate the minefield?" Matti's English has improved substantially over the year or so he's been to Spain. His accent is still terrible, however.

Vaclav does not look back to the finn as he replies, "Chevalix went to scout. Make stupid mistake, tank kill him. Rifle ambushed engineer, shot Engineer through heart before we kill him. Minefield still there. Our sentry shoot at any who try to disarm. Army of Ebro crossing bridge-" a toss of his head eastward, where the long lines of infantry have been crossing the Ebro over the captured bridge for days.

Avery looks at Matti, "It looks like you got hit again. I was sent to the rear to help guard the supply lines." This last bit said with a tinge of bitterness.

"Well, I think I have plenty of rear-line duty now myself. I figure we all get more than enough of combat, here." This to Avery, with a sideways look at Vaclav. As he speaks of what happened, Matti shakes his head, snorting in disgust. He mutters, "I told Frenchman that we need to cover minefield while panzer trying to cross. He not listen to me much. Die as a hero, then?" The word 'hero' is imbued with some considerably irony.

"Just dead," Vaclav returns flatly, glancing away from the west long enough to fix Matti with a stare out of the corner of one eye. "Stupid and dead. Fascists not call him a hero, and no one else listens." A dry sniff, as the corporal comments, "Maybe it good that Comrade Captain O'Callaghan not here. He not recognize his own Company, anymore."

"I suppose it all the same, really." It's hard to say what Matti means by that. He turns to stare out of the window, idly thumbing the stock of his rifle. After a moment, he adds, "Yes, I suppose not many veterans left."

"No. Not all the same," Vaclav replies, eyeing the west again. "Some deaths man something. Some deaths change what comes after. Some deaths let others live. A man can be remembered or forgotten for how he dies. By what he leaves behind." Blue eyes still fixed on the distant rocks of the Ebro Valley, frown marking his expression.

"I'm starting to think that all we leave behind are spent cartridges, comrade." This, Matti offers quietly to Vaclav, his blue-grey eyes regarding the other man directly. It's fatalism, but not defeatism - the man seems as resentfully defiant as ever. Hope just isn't a marked part of his general constitution.

Avery quietly watches out to the west listening, but making no verbal or non-verbal response to the other men's conversations.

Vaclav sniffs in grim amusement. "Spent bullets, dead enemies, and for many comrades: letters." A snort. Chest and shoulders rise with a slowly drawn breath. He makes as though to speak for a moment, before simply closing his mouth and looking over sun baked rocks.

"I sent one of those, too. Maybe I should not have done that… I hear people often die, after sending letters. It wasn't weepy, though." Self-irony - wonder where the Finn's picked that upp.

Avery 's clear baritone voice suddenly breaks the silence as he asks outloud to no one imparticular, "Were is the mine field?"

"People often die after being shot by fascists," Vaclav rumbles with a wry edge to his tone. "Letters are ink on paper. Nothing more." Half turning back to eye Avery, the big czech replies curtly, "Straight west. Just before the first rocks."

Matti shrugs his slight shoulders, leaning back to slump against the wall. "I forgot. You didn't believe in superstition." He keeps an eye out waist, rifle resting on his healthy leg.

Vaclav sniffs once, eyeing MAtti sidelong to rumble in reply, "Survive too many bullets, and too many bayonets to think ink and paper can kill, Comrade." A wry curl briefly tempers his frown, before the czech shakes his head, and crosses his arms. "Maybe you should write letter, and see?"

Avery takes a drink from his canteen and wipes his mouth on his sleeve before recapping the canteen. Avery puts the canteen back on his belt, then systematically checks all of his gear; examines the bayonets edge, works the action on his rifle, double checks his spare ammo clip, and even retightens the laces on his boots.
Avery moves over towards the front door, then spits to one side and announces, "I'll be back." then takes off at a low crouch, darting between the buildings.

Avery has left.

"I already did. You not listening to me, like usual." Matti mutters this with mild humour - he seems to mean it, too. "Maybe I get hit by MG because of letter? But then again, I'm still alive. Hard to say."

"Say something useful. Then I listen," Vaclav mutters flatly back toward the bedridden Matti. As usual, the flat, frowning banter between the Finn and the Czech has very little to give the clue to it's humor. unless, one happens to know one or both of the men in question.

Avery arrives from the East.

Lind knows both men, perhaps better than many others. She's returning from some duties elsewhere in the small town, her uniform stained with dirt and limbs aching from some heavy physical work somewhere, digging, filling sandbags, moving crates with ammo. She stertches out with a groan and looks around to see who's up and about.

Avery reenters the church carrying a basketful of lemons, "I didn't seen any sign of movement to our west or south. I did gets some lemons though."

Matti shakes his head at Vaclav, before turning back to the window looking out to the road. "It's useless to try and educate you. Even if I managed to get through, you'd take another head wound and get even dumber." He looks up as Lind enters, offering an absent wave of his unwounded hand to her. He's wounded, again - his leg is bandaged and splinted, and his arm and chest are also bandaged, but seem to be mending.

Avery sets the basket to one side snatching up a few lemons, then using a knife he quarters one of the lemons and eats the sour fruit.

Avery makes a face and shudders a bit as he sucks the juice out, some of it running down his chin.

"Hrm!" Vaclav mutters to Matti's quip. "I get hit in head. You just born stupid." Turning to follow the Finn's wave, the corporal's regard falls on Lind, who is greeted with an evenly voiced, "Comrade." Apart from a tight wrap about his left hand, the czech looks unusually intact.

Avery smiles as he sees Lind enter and comments, "Ah what light through yonder doorway breaks, for it is the east, and Lind is the sun."

Lind smiles broadly at the three men, leaning her rifle against a wall and stripping out of the dirty coat with a grimace. Througout the war, she's done her utmost to keep some personal hygiene - it doesn't always work. "How're you all doing?" she asks, raising eyebrows inquisitively and looking over the wounded in particular with that medic-eye.

"You careful there with sweet talk, pirate. Comrade Corporal here can get a bit grouchy." Matti mutters, flicking his blue-grey eyes from Lind to Vaclav. Does he know something? He doesn't dignify Vaclav's words with an answer, merely snorting at him. This conversation has been had before. Many, many, many times. To Lind's question he shrugs his slight shoulders, apparently not having the energy to provide a suitably sarcastic answer.

Avery smirks

Vaclav turns a narrow eyed look toward Avery, frowning as brown brows knit together, and the corporal rumbles flatly, "That is west, Comrade." A brief look toward matti, still frowning before he turns his eye to the swede. "Have petrol bottle?" he queries.

Avery tries in vain to explain, "Yes, I know it's west, I was quoting shakespeare, for surely compared to us three, Lind must be a ray of sunshine, yes?"

Lind gives Matti a quick wary glance, then looks at Vaclav before looking away, pretending to busy herself with her dirty uniform, trying to brush some of the dust off of the coat. "No, I don't have one," she replies to the corporal. "Suppose I should get one," she adds, looking towards the storage where they're kept. Avery is given a sunny smile. "Oh, don't be silly. Spend enough time with the three of you and even the most optimistic person will become jaded and bitter," she says, dead pan. But she hasn't, yet. Though nobody could claim she's as optimistic as she was a few months ago. Her face is thinner, dark bags under her eyes, no great belief in the cause any longer.

Avery frowns and shakes his head, "To quote Shakespeare on last time, 'Men of few words are the best men' so for now I'll shut up." turns back to the window to peer out.

"I don't read shakesphere. Not care much, for poetry." Maybe half a year ago, Matti would have tagged on something contemptuous about the uselessness of sentimental bourgeois art. Now, he doesn't bother. He nods to Vaclav, "It all his fault. I always try to cheer him up, but he just surly bugger by temperament."

Vaclav nods once, curtly to Lind as he moves to supply herself with the petrol bottles. Still frowning he eyes Avery and voices flatly, "Hrm. If all sunshine put fire to fascist tanks, I would better like July in Spain." Arms crossed over his chest once again, the corporal adds to Matti, "Yes. All my fault. Winter is too cold, summer is too hot. Because of me."

Avery holds back a laugh, then says to Matti, "You..cheering him (points to Vaclav)up?"

Lind arms herself with a molotov, putting it into the pocket of her coat which she dons again, leaving it unbuttoned. It's hot, and she wipes a sweatsoaked lock of hair away from her face, then moves to splash some water onto her neck and face. She wets a couple of rags and takes them to the wounded, to let them feel a moment of coolness against their faces. "Sometimes at night, he lies there giggling. I've heard him," she says jokingly. "All the jokes the rest of us have told during day that he's not laughed at, he laughs at then." Her eyes glitter with teasing as she watches the corporal; no lack of respect there, rather the jargon she's adapted to in her own way. "And Matti here, he will become a happy laughing man when he finds his woman."

Avery looks thoughtful for a moment saying nothing, starring off into the distance, then mutters something about "their having much to live for", though quiet his voice sounds sincere and forelorn. Then he once again steps out of the church, only this time he heads West.

Avery heads off West.

"Hrm!" Vaclav rumbles wordlessly, brows knit and eyes narrowed on Lind at the swede's quip. The glare spoiled only slightly by the faint, short lived upward curl of his lip. It has faded back to stoicism by the time he voices evenly, "Yes. One day, Comrade Finn will find the right reindeer, and all will be well."

"Likely story." This to Lind - Matti doesn't sound like he believes one word of it. He shakes his head sadly at Vaclav, turning away to stare out of the window. "The reindeer is better, and more grateful company than you, Vaclav. He listen to me with interest, and not offer snide remarks all the time."

Lind's mind is not depraved enough to immediately get Vaclav's joke. She stares blankly at him, then when Matti follows up with the joke, she blushes a little. Not as much as she would've before - you can't help but become a bit used to such jokes after awhile, but still, sometimes she is way behind. She clears her voice. "Right. And Vaclav will be a jealous man when that day comes. He'll know he lost to a beast better than him." Having said that, she is quick to duck away from Vaclav, fleeing cowardly while grinning broadly. Still blushing, mind.

Vaclav snorted to Matti's retort, a breath is drawn for his own riposte, "Of course, rein-" without ceremony, the corporal's words fall off, and he turns, brows knit and blue eyes showing suprise, to regard the ducking Lind. For a moment he simply eyes her, going over the words again, just in case he might have misheard.. Abruptly, he barks out a short laugh.

Lind surprised herself with that joke. But being awarded by a laugh from the unlaughing one, she beams happily at him and manages for the moment to forget all about the war. "Fear, my brave comrades, because the stone-faced one has cracked!"

Avery arrives from the South.

Avery enters the church and takes a seat in a corner, nodding to those in the room as he does so.

Matti stares at Vaclav, like he'd grown an extra head as he laughs. He shakes his own head, keeping stolidly silent despite a slight twitch to the lips. Apparently he's decided to keep the faith, even if Vaclav has abandoned the cause of Sullen Bugger-ness.

Vaclav's sharp, barked moment of amusement passes quickly, leaving the corporal eyeing Lind, and shaking his head as a slow breath is released. By the time a fresh breath is drawn, the stoic demeanor is intact once again. "Don't tell the fascists," he rumbles with affected gravity. Blue eyes still locked on Lovisa, the last surviving traces of his earlier humor lingering in that stare.

Avery leans against the wall and closes his eye. The front of his clothes are covered by streaks of dirt, like if having been dragged. His fingers likewise are caked with dried dirt, the dirt on his elbows looks darker, almost damp.

Lind is brought back to reality by the mention of fascists. Her smile fades somewhat, and she takes a seat between the two wounded, leaning up against the wall between their beds. "I'm tired," she murmurs. "I'll catch an hour of sleep."

Matti looks away as Lind and Vaclav lock stares, even for a moment - even such an indirect show of affection appears to bother him. The sullen Finn hawks, staring thoughtfully out of the window as he sends a gob of spit flying through the broken panes. As prosaic as ever.

"Take the cot," Vaclav rumbles to Lind's intended nap, as he remains standing. "Only hand, and no other wounded, yet." Drawing and letting out a deep breath, he looks toward Avery, and frowns, again. "Comrade Avery. You see something?" eyeing the dirt which streaks the other's uniform.

Avery opens his eye and looks at Vaclav, then letting out a breath he answers shaking his head, "Nothing. There are some rough rocky fields north of mines. I tried to belly crawl through there to maybe get close enough to spy something, but I could not get through without standing, so I came back."

Matti continues leaning against the wall, glancing back at Avery and Vaclav with mild interest.

Avery leans his head back against the wall.

"Hrm," Vaclav rumbles with a nod, looking away and leaving Avery to his dozing. Popular occupation, this hour. Must be siesta. "Rocks. Everywhere rocks." The first of several steps are taken toward the gun emplacement, hefting and shouldering the light machine gun, ready to go out for a bit.

"I miss Tereul." This, from Matti. A rather odd statement, that probably says a lot about the Ebro valley, and their situation there. "It felt almost like home. Proper weather."

Vaclav holds the barrel of the mg across both shoulders, as he turns his eye back toward Matti at the Finn's statement. "Nothing in Spain feels like home."

Matti shrugs his slight shoulders, staring outside. It takes a while fore realization to sink it - when it does, he shoots a sharp look at Vaclav. Oh yes. He mutters, "They're only visiting. And when their welcome worn out, they going to get fire lit under their asses."

Vaclav hrms. "We start with tank," he mutters, picking up one of the petrol bottles on his way out the door of the ruined building.

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