Well It Looked Like A Bomb

"Well it LOOKED Like a Bomb…"

Who: Morgenstern, Christiane, Thomas & Underwood
Where: Grand Place, Arras, France

What: Morgenstern heroically (and drunkenly) saves the church from deadly birds. Later, Christiane huffs about the incident with Underwood and Claude, and reflects on the end of the war that isn't coming nearly fast enough.

Grand Place
==============================================================
[The Grid]-----> > > > > THE LOST GENERATION < < <


What remains of this once lively marketplace is a sight to see. Most of the cobblestones from the street are torn up from artillery shells or soldiers using them as patchwork for something else. Craters are some obvious dangers as exploded shells have done their dirty work leaving yawning holes for the unwary traveller. The beautiful Flemish architecture remains intact on some buildings and mostly destroyed in others. Falling bricks and timber pose another threat to the unwary. Sandbags are piled up eight feet high (2.4 m) around the entrances of the buildings that remain mostly safe as added protection against artillery fire.

The center of the Place is a busy hub. Soldiers move about freely when there is no shelling. Trucks with construction supplies drive in and out, sometimes laden with the wounded instead. Lumber cut from the nearby forests and extra sandbags also lay about amidst the craters. One must be extremely careful when walking about during the night.

It is currently daytime.

Sub-Rooms :
1. Communication Trench
2. Redoubt

Contents
Christiane
Aubrey
Underwood
Morgenstern
Thomas - 1. Communication Trench

(#580) 1918 Harley-Davidson
(Item 1) 8mm x 61 Ammo

West to Rue d'Amiens <W> Somme River <SR>
Bapaume <B> North to Training Ground <N>
Church + Med Station <C> East to Arras Outskirts <E>
South to Train Station <S>

Christiane arrives from the Out.

Morgenstern stands holding a ladder, together with Thomas. On the roof itself is Underwood, who is now putting something into a sack, a rope attached to the sack. "It's a real one, isn't it?" Morgenstern says almost triumphantly. He's also drunk and might get demoted. But he cares about the patients!

Underwood starts to lower the sack down, carefully. "You'll get promoted for this I am sure." He then shuts up to concentrate on the sack until it's in Morgenstern's reach. "Have a look for yourself, but be careful."

Thomas's hands remain on the ladder, although he can't seem to help leaning away from the sack as it descends, as if that'll really help, should it explode.

Christiane is at the edge of the square, huddled with a couple of other nurses and watching, as best she can see, the soldier's work. The medical staff has evacuated at the patients in as orderly as fashion as possible. Now all they can do is wait. The Belgian woman holds her breath, squeezing the hand of one of her fellow nurses.

Morgenstern gingerly takes the sack, concentrating hard. He steps away from the ladder, leaving Thomas to hold it on his own, before he peers down into the sack. He stares. He stares a bit more, squinting suspiciously. He reaches a hand inside and picks out first an old bird's nest, then an old egg which is kind of sooty and finally, a large grenade shard. "See! I told you it was… a, grenade-shaped item. And the bird's nest really did look like a dud." He eyes all the evacuated patients and personel. "I need another drink," he murmurs.

Underwood slides down from the ladder quickly, dropping the rope in the process. "Eyes on the ground at all times." he mutter to Thomas, "Takes you through the war easier than you can imagine." He looks back to Morgenstern, his face blank like he's waiting for what is next.

Thomas remains silent for a long moment. Then, he prizes his hands off the ladder, forces himself to relax, and solemnly asks, "D'you think the egg would be alright to eat?"

Morgenstern stares at Thomas with a blank expression as if he's unable to think of a nice reply. So, he simply holds the egg out to Thomas for him to find out on his own. "And return the ladder. And after that, come help the patients back inside." He nods to Underwood, turning a lopsided smile his way. "Thanks for going up there. I'm a bit afraid of heights too. I'll go tell the happy news and present them with the bird's nest," he adds and gestures at the crowd of hospitalized before he marches off in that direction. "Nothing to worry about, you can go back inside now! Anyone want a ratty old bird nest?" he shouts.

Underwood nods to Morgenstern before turning around and shaking his head at Thomas, "No, that was what I was afraid of breaking. Imagine the smell", he pinches his nose shut. "Worse than a gas attack I tell you. Don't find out anywhere near me."

Christiane starts moving the patients back toward the church, along with the rest of the medical staff, at Morgenstern's OK. When she's near the corporal she bustles hastily over to him. Though she doesn't seem interested in the bird's nest. "Corporal!" she calls. "Is it all right? What did you find up there?" She still sounds a trifle nervous.

Thomas carefully takes the egg, wraps it up in a ragged handkerchief, and carefully tucks it in a pocket for later inspection. "At least I get it all to myself," he tells Underwood, matter-of-fact. "Now I just need some bread…" Without further ado, he picks up the ladder again to return it to from whence it came.

Morgenstern gives Christiane a somewhat sheepish smile. "Hello Nurse Ingels, it's nice to see you again. And I assure you, it's all safe, there was no dud. Just something which looked suspiciously like it," he says, holding up the nest and the shard to show her what was found. "I apologize about the trouble."

Underwood moves over to the HD again, keeping any comments to himself although he has to shut his mouth loudly a couple of times to do so. Doesn't look like he has any intention of helping anyone back into any church.

"Something that…" Christiane trails off, staring at the bird's nest. Then Morgenstern. Then at the nest again. And finally settling on the corporal. "…a bird? This was all over a bird?"

"We thought it was a bomb," Thomas tells Christiane as he passes her with the ladder. Because birds can easily be mistaken for explosive devices, naturally.

"Well, it looked just like a bomb from down here!" Morgenstern says defensively, rattling the old bird's nest in the air so that sticks and feathers fly around. "See? It's round, and there was this shard gleaming a bit. It /could/ have been a bomb." He glares at some of the wounded soldiers that are snickering at him. In an attempt to distract Christiane from the topic, he asks; "Heard from your fiance?"

Underwood can't keep quiet anymore, raising his voice slightly. "No, not a bird, an egg." He looks like he thinks he said too much and shuts his mouth again, quickly looking away from the corpral and the nurse.

Thomas vanishes to return the ladder. He's back pretty quickly, though - in fact, he approaches the church at a slight jog, probably to escape the ladder's irate owner.

Morgenstern glares at Thomas and Underwood both, tucking away the shard and the nest into the sack again. He moves to push a wheelchair with a wounded soldier on it, the soldier grinning and smoking and quite happy about the change of pace. He's only got one leg, a stump above his knee the only remains of his left leg.

Boggs arrives from the West to Grand Place.

Underwood looks over his shoulders a couple of times and then fingers the HD, showing off his lack of knowledge by the pushing and pulling in different locations on it. He finally sits down on it, but with both legs on one side, watching the crowd getting moved back into the church.

Christiane's cheeks get very red as Morgenstern's wriggles the bird's nest. She's not sniggering, but she does look as if she could belt him. "A bird…a bird…!" She shakes her head and starts muttering to herself in Dutch, turning to storm back into the church. She ignores the question about her fiance, or does not hear it over…whatever she's muttering.

As Christiane storms off, Thomas clasps his hands together behind his back and watches her. "She doesn't like birds?" he asks, baffled.

Morgenstern gives Thomas an uncertain shrug. "I think she might be a bit upset about having to evacuate the church because of a bird's nest. But it /looked/ like a bomb!" he exclaims loudly. The man he's pushing across the square just grins more broadly.

"Keep your voice down, or someone with real rank will show up and ask questions." Underwood speaks up again, raising his voice so Morgenstern can hear him. "And that's never good, medal or execution, I don't care, just keep them away from me."

Christiane is occupied with getting the wounded back in now, so Morgenstern and his merry band are left unmolested. Aside from the occasional stern gray-eyed glares and pointed sniffs she sends the good corporal's direction.

"It -could- have been a bomb. What if it had been a bomb? She wouldn't have been angry then," Thomas says, primly, then shuts up at Underwood's command. He then peers back at Christiane, and murmurs, "She keeps giving us Looks."

Morgenstern gets the wounded soldier inside, and decides that he better get going. "That was fun. Beats finding a whore anyday," he says sarcastically, now finally remembering why he left the bar. "I'll see you back out in the war." He tips his head at Christiane, and murmurs to Thomas; "It's a nurse thing. They train it for weeks, perfecting that Look. I swear, it is what makes us all get better faster, works better than any medicines." He gives a wave and then saunters back out in search of drunken friends.

"She's memorizing your face, so when you come in injured you'll get the special treatment." Underwood half-mutters. "Keep away from the nurses, I don't think even the Germans has as a good chance of getting back at you as they do."

Thomas blinks very slowly, and seems to take this to heart. No doubt he has visions of Christiane with shiny implements and rubber tubes. "…But they seem really nice a lot of the time," he says, carefully.

Grand Place
==============================================================
[The Grid]-----> > > > > THE LOST GENERATION < < <


What remains of this once lively marketplace is a sight to see. Most of the cobblestones from the street are torn up from artillery shells or soldiers using them as patchwork for something else. Craters are some obvious dangers as exploded shells have done their dirty work leaving yawning holes for the unwary traveller. The beautiful Flemish architecture remains intact on some buildings and mostly destroyed in others. Falling bricks and timber pose another threat to the unwary. Sandbags are piled up eight feet high (2.4 m) around the entrances of the buildings that remain mostly safe as added protection against artillery fire.

The center of the Place is a busy hub. Soldiers move about freely when there is no shelling. Trucks with construction supplies drive in and out, sometimes laden with the wounded instead. Lumber cut from the nearby forests and extra sandbags also lay about amidst the craters. One must be extremely careful when walking about during the night.

It is currently daytime.

Sub-Rooms :
1. Communication Trench
2. Redoubt

Contents
Christiane
(#655) Renault FT-17MG
Claude
(#580) 1918 Harley-Davidson

(Item 1) Vickers Gun Ranged Weapon / 2. Redoubt
(Item 2) 8mm x 61 Ammo

West to Rue d'Amiens <W> Somme River <SR>
North to Training Ground <N> Church + Med Station <C>
East to Arras Outskirts <E> South to Train Station <S>

Christiane comes out of the church-turned-hospital, blinking a little as her eyes adjust to the morning light. She's obviously just come off duty, and it looks like it was a long shift for her. She's discarded her apron, but there are still traces of blood on her skirt and sleeves. For a moment she just stops, leaning against the church wall, reaching a hand back to idly massage the back of her neck.

Underwood arrives from the West to Grand Place.

Claude is sitting square in a patch of mud off to the right of the Red Cross hospital, from some angles he might me obscured by a broken horse cart that he's using as a back rest. His helmet is off and to the right of him and most of his face and gear is coated with mud. In his hands is his Lee Enfield which he seems to have broken down to some degree to clean and resting out of the corner of his mouth is a thick cigar which adds a rich smokey smell to this corner of the town cross-roads.

Christiane's nose wrinkles a bit at the smell of cigar smoke. But she doesn't seem that put out by it. She's probably smelled far worse. The scent does draw her attention in Claude's direction and finally, after some looking, to Claude himself. She approaches him, rather dragging her steps. It's been a long night. "Do you know the time, Private?" she asks.

Claude looks up at the woman for a moment before placing the cigar in a notch on the rim of his helmet and shambling up to standing position. He seems to put some effort into appearing somewhat proper but when it comes down to it he just looks confused and says," Ermm, I, I don't know?" He peers around slightly and continues," It's a good question though." Something about the Canadian seems a little off as if he's spent a little too much time down front in the trenches.

Christiane gives Claude a closer look when he gives his vague answer. She shrugs, as to the time, glancing up at the daylight sky again. "It does not matter, I suppose. I do not have to be back on duty for some hours yet, whatever the precise minute." Her head tilts slightly as she regards the man. "Are you well, Private?" The question is likely automatic for the nurse.

Claude seems to snap out of his daze slightly and lifts his Enfield off the ground, shrugging he removes a rifling cleaner piping from the barrel and tucks it away into a muddy pack that is hanging on the cart. He rests the gun against the cart as well before lifting the cigar from the helmet and taking a drag, after some consideration he says," Eh, I suppose I'm alright. Just a touch of shell shock, nothing a good cigar and maybe some French wine wouldn't fix." He cracks a wide toothy smile, sometimes the Canadians can be just as coarse as their American cousins.

Christiane smiles faintly at Claude, giving him a little nod, though the concern in her gray eyes doesn't fade. "Wine is one of the few things that does not seem lacking in this town," she says. It's sort of a joke, but even she doesn't seem to think it funny. "I hope you get some rest, Private. The officers, I think they ask too much of you men. I am surprised more do not go mad, having to live as you do. You are very strong."

Claude nods slightly, he's a quick and friendly man once he's been shaken out of his stupor, and says," Sure is plenty of wine, if there wasn't any I believe I would be a very sad man indeed." He takes a drag from his cigar and shrugs indifferently about the Officer comment and states simply," Aggression is a dangerous thing, if we are to put a stop to this war there must be great feats from both the enlisted and their officers. It is not too much to ask given the circumstances."

Underwood comes walking up from the train station, helmet in hand while the other arm is busy wiping sweat and dust from his face, he's singing to himself, keeping his voice down just a little. "If you want to find the sergeant, I know where he is .." He slows down a little as he walks by Christiane and Claude, "Hello nurse, time to clean out the church again, I think I just spotted an egg."

Christiane shrugs, murmuring, "I suppose." She doesn't dwell on the subject any further. "I would not know about such things. I am not a soldier." Her gaze drifts back to the church, before she makes it return to Claude. "As for great feats, I hear there has been much of that lately. Rumor says the war will be over soon. This time, I even dare to believe it true." She turns to Underwood when he approaches, her lips twisting into a mixture of a stern grimace and a smirk. She seems torn between which she feels. "If you find it, bring it to me," she says with an arch of her chin. "I will deliver it to Corporal Morgenstern myself. Throwing it in his face, preferably."

Claude shrugs, maybe all of his shell shock has just manifested itself in extreme idealism, reaching down he picks up his doughboy and rests it by the strap on the muzzle of his leaned gun. He smiles and says," Eh? An end to the war would be nice, I miss Quebec." He pulls from his cigar and continues," When this war is over I'm going to fix this gun to the roof of my farm's barn, and spend the rest of my years watching it rot into nothing." He quints and the British private and shifts his weight so that the cart carries much of it.

"Don't tell him it came from me if you do, he looked like he could break me in half." Underwood puts his helmet back on and pushes it far back, "Good thing for me that I don't have to use my fists against the Germans too often, or this war would have been over a long time ago."

Christiane sniffs shortly. "If the corporal has us drag the patients out of the hospital again because he is too drunk to tell shell from egg, I will break *him* in half," the nurse says. But, though she sounds annoyed, it's clearly not all aimed at the corporal in question. "I pray it will end soon. This life, I think. It is turning us all half-mad."

Claude rolls his eyes slightly to the side, it looks odd, seeing all that white against such a soot and mud stained face. It's so bad on him that in battle it would be nearly impossible to tell what race of nationality he was other then 'mud-person'. Bucking a grin he says," Well, I believe it will be over soon as well, and that makes me happy but I don't get my hopes up to much…you never really know how it'll all pan out." He looks at the British private and questions," You been seeing much action in your divisions?"

Underwood shrugs as he searches through his pockets. "I've heard that the end is near for four years now, I've stopped listening a long time ago, just makes it harder to hop the bags and run to Fritz if you think that you just need to keep alive a month or so to survive the war." He stops searching his pockets, looking at Claude a moment before answering. "Depends on what you call action, with Fritz on the run like this it's almost hard to keep up with him sometimes."

Christiane nods quietly at Underwood's words. They're too true for her liking. "Yes. And how many times have they said, 'It will be over by Christmas'?" She sniffs shortly. She doesn't add anything to the talk of 'action'. That's far out of her field. "You were from…Quebec?" she asks Claude after a moment's pause. She says the name of the city with plain curiosity.

Claude nods and sucks on his cigar, and says," Seems like We've been shooting more at their backs then their fronts these days." He crosses his arms and eyes the nurse and continues," I'm Canadian, it's a big city back home, I'm not from it actually, I'm from the woodlands just to the north of the city, about thirty miles to the north or so."

"Don't know that about their backs" Underwood replies, "But they give up a lot faster now, and so many of them are so young." He rubs his nose, "Or old, some rather old ones out there too." He shrugs again, "But there is a lot more dragging the MG around over fields these days."

"Many here are young also…" Christiane murmurs, but more to herself than the pair of soldiers. She tries to focus on Claude's words as he speaks of his home, a faint smile coming to her lips. "The woodlands. That sounds very nice. I am from a city called Ghent. My family, we lived in town, so there were not many woods. But I loved going to country when we could."

Claude looks at the fellow Private and pulls on his cigar and nods in agreement and says," It certainly looks that way from our positions as well." He turns his attention back to Christiane and continues," It truly is a beautiful place, wild, free, pristine lakes and rivers to fish in…Canada is wonderful. We may be young but they are younger still, and they have begun using their old, that's not a good sign of their reserves."

Underwood looks around for somewhere to sit down, but changes his mind. "Not sure what this war have done besides making sure that there won't be any of us left, no matter what country you are from." He looks from Claude to Christiane like to see if any of them have any objections.

Christiane certainly does not object. She even meets Underwood's words with a firm little nod of agreement. "All these years, and it seems we have barely moved an inch," she says. "All I want is for the Germans to be gone from Belgium, and for this to end. If that happens, I will rejoice. There does not seem any point to much else."

Claude shrugs and says," This war has dragged on far too long for me to even think about the future, it seems hopelessly far away. I'll be surprised if anyone except the American's actually have young men left when it's complete."

"I used to hunt before I came here, " Underwood smiles a little, ".. with or without permission." He wipes away the smile and shakes his head, "I don't think I will do that again, one way or another. And if I go home, I moving to London, where I can watch houses instead of fields and the horizon."

Christiane grins with some amusement when Underwood says he hunted, with or without permission. "I went hunting with my brothers a few times," she says. "When we would visit the country. I was better at it than Albert, too." She says it with some pride, but also a trace of wistfulness. "London? I have heard it is a grand city. I do not think I wish to see it, though. I will be happy to go home, and settle down.:

Claude nods with agreement to Christiane and says," I think I should like a nice bottle of Champagne when this war is over…that's all I'm willing to speculate about." He chuckles and pulls on his cigar, which is getting almost to the very end.

Underwood sighs and pulls his helmet down again, shadowing his face a little more. "If we defeat the Germans, and if we're alive to see it, what is there to say that there isn't a new enemy somewhere we have to march off to and dig down in a new place? I do my best to keep any thoughts of what to do after the war away from my mind."

"Champagne, and a good dinner," Christiane adds with a wistful smile. "I would almost prefer the dinner by itself now. A simple meal cooked by someone who knows how, with good ingredients, seems like a feast." Her eyes widen a bit at Underwood. "You think they want to keep fighting? I do not know. I cannot imagine anyone wanting to do this again, after it is over."

Claude shrugs and says," Fair enough I suppose, but it can't possibly last forever." On this note he squints as the sky and lifts his ruck-sack off the cart, and then his doughboy and finally his rifle. He looks at both the nurse and the brit and says," I'm afraid I need to return to our trenches, I was only given a few hours leave by my CO…" He looks a big glum, which is an interesting expression for the muddy man, he continues," If I don't see either of you again I suppose it was a good meeting." He tilts his doughboy slightly to the side of his head, typical Canadian cockiness and contempt for dress orders.

"I can't understand why anyone would be here in the first place anymore, but as always, the people above understands, and they don't get tired of the war like us, I am sure some of them want to go right on." Underwood nods to Claude as he stands to leave. "Unlike us, many of them above us have devoted their entire life to war, and here we have one, big and glorious. A meaning to their life."

Claude smirks at the last comment he hears Underwood say and shoulders his rifle, falling in behind some common-wealth troops he vaguely scurries his way towards the direction of the front-line. He pauses when he gets a little distance to wave to his new friends before disappearing amongst his fellow mud and soot covered allies.

"I do not wish to believe anyone wants to go on like this," Christiane says quietly, in response to Underwood. "But I suppose they must. Otherwise, it would have ended long ago." She smiles a little at Claude. "It was good meeting you as well. If you are in need of rest, come back to the church. We can likely find a place for you." Even if it's a pallet on the floor, as packed with wounded as the place usually is. She waves to him, then sighs. "I suppose I should get to my billet, myself. I must get some sleep before I have to work again."

"And I need to go and hide" Underwood sighs again and looks over his shoulder, "There is always more work to be done, and I figure I have done enough."

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