|APAGear II Archives||Volume 3, Number 1||February, 2001|
Tish looked at the beach in the picture and sighed. Small waves rippled up onto the sandy shore as sun worshippers lounged on long reclining chairs. A wall of exotic plants formed a barrier, standing between the beach and the resort buildings. It was one of the rare and expensive resorts on Terra Nova that could offer such a vacation delicacy. She had gone there once, a long time ago for her honeymoon. It almost seemed like a lifetime ago. She could almost hear the wandering musicians playing.
The bottle that she was filling began to overflow and spill water over her hand. The cold water brought her back from her musings. Tish shut the water fountain off and screwed the top onto the bottle. She did not have a towel for her wet hand and had to be satisfied with just shaking the water off.
She turned and walked back down the vacant hallway to her office. It was after hours and her heels clicked loudly on the hard floor, announcing her presence like a bullhorn. They were not the most sensible shoes to wear to the office but she had loved the way that they matched her skirt and jacket. Tish stretched her arms out over her head to work out some of the stiffness that had been gathering in her shoulders all day. This workday seemed to go on forever but at least she was down to her last patient.
Upon reaching the door to the office that she shared with her partner, she made a mental note to really lay a guilt trip on Brant tomorrow. Brant had made an unusual offer to work the early part of the morning and this left Tish covering the afternoon. She didn't see anything wrong with the idea at the time and had welcomed the chance to sleep in. She should have known better. Dr. Brant Mathius, she often reasoned, must have highly placed connections somewhere up the way and he had known that a regiment was coming back from the front today. This particular unit had been involved in some nasty fighting in the Basal and had suffered high losses. This meant that there was plenty of work for her to do as a member of the Crisis Intervention Team.
It was not that she avoided work, like Brant seemed to like to do. Tish enjoyed helping out others, and she felt that she had a knack for it. With the open hostilities between the North and the South in Basal there was plenty of work. There were just some days, like today, that were so busy that it just drained the energy out of her, and the last thing that she wanted was to be tired while with a patient. It was just not professional to yawn while someone was telling you their problems.
Tish opened the door, walked past the receptionists desk and entered her office. Private Gregori Lask was still lying on the couch, staring up at the ceiling while he clasped his hands to stop them from trembling. Since returning from the field, he had said barely a word, could not get motivated and just acted like an immobile lump. The poor guy was a real mess and she wondered why he had even become a Gear pilot. She handed him the bottle of water and sat in a chair near to the couch. She restarted the electronic transcriber and placed it on the table next to the gear pilot while he gulped down half of the contents of the bottle.
"Are you comfortable Gregori?" Tish asked in her most soothing voice, as she crossed her legs.
"Y..Yes Ma'am." The pilot stuttered back as he stood the bottle of water on his chest. He didn't look at her, which Tish found distressing. Gregori seemed to just withdraw into himself more and more.
"Would you like anything else before we continue?"
"No ma'am." The pilot replied as his gaze rested on the water bottle.
Tish had to get him talking, pull him out of the funk that he was settling into. "Alright then. Would you care to continue then? I believe that we were about to talk about Heidle. You said that it was a small village?"
"Yes ma'am. Heidle is a small town. It was...was near the frontlines. It..." Gregori's voice trailed off.
"Why were you in Heidle?"
"My...my squad had been assigned to...secure...the town. It was one of the...key points in the area."
Gregori was still staring at the bottle. His responses were becoming more automatic, just giving her facts and trying to suppress any emotional attachment to them. She had to get him to access the emotional side. "How many of you were there?" she asked.
"There were...five of us."
"Can you tell me their names?"
"Gibson, Wong, Lt. Brkovich. I...I was there...as well...I think."
"That's only four Gregori."
The Private fell silent, as if trying to search his thoughts. Tish watched Gregoris eyes dart back and forth. He knew that he was forgetting someone but didn't want to remember who it was. "Who was the fifth member Gregori?"
Tish picked up a note book from the desk behind her and flipped open the cover. The small screen lit up and she scrolled through the list of names until she found Gregoris squad. "Was Private Ramkissom in your squad?" She already knew the answer but wanted to make Gregori say it.
"He...Indro was...I mean...yes he was there. Indro Ramkissom was...there."
"He was a friend of yours wasn't he?" Again Tish knew the answer. Gregori was trying to separate himself from what had happened. He just wanted to forget everything.
"He...We...went through...boot to...together." Gregoris voice started to crack a little. He was slowly breaking through the mental wall that he was erecting. It was not much but it was some progress.
"Was this the first time that your unit had been in an urban battle?"
"Nuh..no. We were in North Tember the...week before."
"That fight was different than Heidle, wasn't it?"
"Yes. We were rousting out a...southie artillery group."
"And your group did not suffer any losses that time?"
"No. They were distracted. We snuck up and flanked them. It was like target practice."
"But Heidle was different. Wasn't it?"
Silence again. Damn, Tish thought. She was making some progress, now it looks like things were back to the beginning again. Gregori was not responding too well to subtlety. Maybe he needed to be shocked a little.
"What happened to Indro in Heidle, Gregori?" The Gear Pilot remained silent, his eyes fixed on the water bottle. "You were there, Gregori. Tell me what happened to Indro."
Gregoris looked up quickly and then returned to the bottle and then back up again. That's something, Tish thought. At least he was remembering.
"Indro...Indro was...he...Killed. Indro was..Kuh...killed." Gregori stammered out the words as though each one caused him great pain. "The Jaeger shot him...shot him in the..back."
"And that angered you, didn't it Gregori? A friend of yours from basic training was killed right in front of you."
"Y..yes. I wanted...tuh....to kill the Jaeger."
Finally, Tish thought. Gregori had started to break down the wall. The next part had to be taken carefully. "So what did you do, Gregori?"
Gregori looked at Tish. His eyes held a combination of sadness and anger. "I turned and fired." He said definitely.
"What did you fire at him with?"
"I fired...rockets. It was a rocket volley."
"What happened next? Take your time, I want to get as much detail from you as I can get." Tish leaned forward in her chair. Now they were getting to the event that had caused all of this. She knew what had happened because she had read the reports. What she was after was Gregoris view.
"I fired rockets. The Jaeger...do...dodged behind a building. The Rockets..." Gregori fell silent again as he squeezed his eyes shut.
"What happened to the Rockets Gregori?"
"...the....rockets..." Gregori started, his eyes still shut tight. He was trying to hide from what happened next. Tish noted a single tear slowly roll down his face. "Sweet Mamoud I can still see their faces."
"Whose faces Gregori?"
"The children." The water bottle began to make crunching sounds as the Gear pilot tightened his grip. "the children were...looking...out of the...windows. I can remember their faces. Innocent...staring...frightened...just before the rockets...Just before the rockets hit their school."
Gregori sniffled covered his mouth with his hand. The water bottle that he was holding fell to the floor, its contents spilling out over the carpeting. The wall broke open and the mix of memories and emotions gushed forward. "I...kuh...kill...Sweet Prophet I Killed those Kids. They were hiding in their school and I KILLED them. The explosion...the...the fire."
Gregori lost all semblance of composure as the images filled his mind. Tish could only watch, this was something that Gregori had to face. "One girl was thrown...out the window by the...explosion. Her head...half missing. A boy ran into the street...on fire...collapsed....burning...Sweet Prophet I can still hear the screaming!"
Gregori started sobbing and muttering to himself. Tish pulled herself out of her chair and sat on the couch next to the pilot. She put both of her hands on his shoulder and held him to her. "It's okay." She cooed. "It's okay. There's no screaming. Everything will be all right now."
Gregoris sobbing quieted down as Tish tailored her words to comfort him. This had been a breakthrough. The pilot who had shut himself away from everything and everybody after the incident was now returning the world. Hopefully over the next few weeks he could come to terms with what had happened.
To be continued...
|APAGear II Archives||Volume 3, Number 1||February, 2001|
Heavy Gear is © 2001, Dream Pod 9, Inc. All rights reserved. APAGear is not affiliated with Dream Pod 9 in any way. Submitted material remains the property of the creator.