A character scene for Hildegunde von Vernichtung, a 14 year old Gunslinger on the deadly battlefield that is The Front in the World of Fera.
As the sun dipped below the horizon, casting a ghostly pallor over the desolate landscape, Private Ivan Petrovich sat huddled in the muddy trench. The chill of the evening seeped through his threadbare uniform, and the relentless fear of impending doom gnawed at his soul. He’d been in the trenches of The Front for months, and the stench of decay, the constant thunder of artillery, and the ever-present shadow of death had become his grim companions.
Beside him, his friend and fellow soldier, Aleksandr, leaned against the trench wall, cradling a letter from his sweetheart. Aleksandr read it with a wistful smile, a temporary escape from the hellish reality around them. The men around them passed the time in whispered conversations, the sound of a harmonica in the distance providing a faint glimmer of hope amidst the despair.
Suddenly, a low, ominous whistle cut through the air. It was a sound that every man in the trench recognized, one that sent shivers down their spines. The dread that accompanied that sound was unlike any other. Gas attack.
Ivan and Aleksandr exchanged a look of terror as they scrambled for their gas masks. They fumbled with the straps, the biting urgency of the situation making their hands clumsy. Panic rippled through the trench like wildfire, and the harmonica fell silent. Men shouted and coughed, the eerie metallic clank of the gas masks being hastily secured providing a discordant symphony of fear.
As Ivan secured his mask, the acrid smell of the gas reached them, seeping through the cracks in the trench’s wooden supports. Tears welled up in his eyes as he saw the cloud, an unnatural greenish-yellow mist, rolling towards them like a malevolent beast.
Aleksandr, still clutching the letter, fought to get his mask on, but his trembling hands made it a struggle. Ivan reached out and helped him, his own mask protecting him from the insidious gas. Together, they watched as the wall of death grew closer.
In the distance, enemy artillery continued to pound the battlefield, the thudding explosions and the gaseous fog merging into a surreal nightmare. Men all around them coughed and gasped, their gas masks their only lifeline.
Then, as abruptly as it had begun, the gas attack ceased. The mist dissipated, leaving behind a silent and haunting battlefield. The trench was a scene of chaos and suffering, men wheezing and choking, their eyes filled with terror.
Ivan and Aleksandr, though shaken, were among the fortunate ones who had donned their masks in time. Some were not. The bodies lay strewn on the ground, some twitching, some coughing up their own lungs in thick bloody clots. Nothing could be done for them.
“A shame isn’t it?” A young voice said softly and the two looked up to the Trench Lip. Stood there was a short figure, no bigger than a child, maybe thirteen or fifteen year old.
They wore a mask too, but not the same as their own, in fact their uniform was completely different to their own in more than just style. Their own were linemen, foot soldiers. The one of the short figure was a flight suite for those new aeronautical craft that buzzed the sky on wings. Straps held together some sort of mechanical equipment that buzzed with Aetherial power.
Then they saw it at the same time, the Imperial Eagle embossed on the metal straps clatch.
The Ilmarian Imperial Eagle. They dashed forward for their rifles and the little thing on the Trench wall swung the small submachine gun around, plastering them both with a half-dozen shots in the chest.
“It is a shame.” Hildegunde von Vernichtung sighed as she reloaded the magazine in the short stamp metal submachine gun. “That these rats can get their masks on fast enough.” she looked over her shoulder at the advancing forces of Imperial foot soldiers before taking off to the sky with a loud pop of displaced air.