FRIDAY FEATURE #19

FRIDAY FEATURE #19

Characters

We know you’re all eagerly awaiting characters, and while they are currently finished and written, we have not yet assigned them to you. This is because we are running a bit late on the interaction side of the participant system, and we want to you have full access to the tools you are going to use to flesh your character out at the same time that you read your character for the first time.

This means, sadly, that you will have to have wait a bit longer until your characters will be assigned. How long? Probably a couple of days more. Sorry!

Slang

We also did a little list of slang words and expressions way way back, and never got around to posting it anywhere. So here it is, tio:

Derogatory words

Backpedaler, kvetch – Someone who is sabotaging the effort to go forward.
Regressives, Remmies – Someone who holds onto the past, a nostalgic. Reminiscing.
Senile, Flakies – Someone who ignores or wants to forget about the past, a progressive
Naive, scab, leech – Anyone who does not want to sacrifice for the common good (not volunteering)
Glory-shopper – Someone who brags about their job or achievements
Fassi – Someone who thinks might makes right, a militarist. From the word fascist.
Flowerfighter, pinko – Someone who does not agree with the militarist/and or interventionists, who wants to “fight with flowers”
Spartacus – A ‘people’s hero’, who thinks they are sacrificing much but really isn’t
Privies – Someone who has too many luxuries
Toothbrusher – Someone who complains about the standards of living or lack of stuff
Tunnelworm, Hard-hat – An isolationist
Greasemonkies – Maintenance. They tend to take offense at this word.
Primates – SURFOPS teams.
Choppers – Medics
Gaffa – implying that the one you’re speaking with is a bit too bossy, ie someone who is making demands or not being nice when asking you to do things. “Get down here and bring a shovel” “Yes gaffa”.
Popo – INTSEC or Intelligence, or basically anyone that has the authority to tell you not to do things. Often used when talking about INTSEC breaking up the fun you were having. “It was just a friendly brawl, but then popo showed up and shut it down”.

Neutral words:

Surfer – A SURFOPS member. “Never play cards against a surfer”.
Greasejock – A member of Maintenance. “Send a couple of greasejocks down to tunnel 15, will you?”
Brass – A member of Command. “The brass wants us to switch shifts”
Wrangler – A member of the medical team.
Upstairs – The surface
Ernie – The Enemy. Used in the same way as “Charlie” was used about the Viet Cong by the US.
Ticket – A wound sustained in the line of duty, usually by The Enemy. “Got clipped in the leg six months ago, real nasty ticket”.

Admiring words

Ripley – “A real Ripley”, someone who’s badass beyond the call of duty
Mensch – like “a real mensch”, someone that is good and stands up for what’s considered human
Korova – A true friend. Russian for “cow”, and has its origins in the soviet prison system, but nobody remembers that now.
Bumpa – means something like “boss”, used both as adjective (“that’s bumpa”) or to adress someone you respect (“yes bumpa?”).
Tio – Spanish slang word for friend. Also used in general to adress people in a friendly manner, like “What’s your name, tio?”.

Fan-fiction!

While you wait for characters, why not read Ivor Plecas wonderful fan fiction about a soldiers experience of Nightfall?

DAY -1
“Is it the right number?” Serpa said, leaning on his table, holding the handset to his ear. The other two young men looked at each other, only the faint sound of the unanswered ringing tone breaking the silence. Crone turned the tobacco-stained phone and examined its ancient screen. “Speed dial seven?” he asked, looking at Greer. Greer nodded. “Yeah, seven.“ he said, rubbing his eyes tiredly. It was late, and the others from their office floor had already gone home. Greer, Crone and Serpa were the night shift of the NSA’s Russia desk in Europe: one politics guy, one languages guy, and one comms guy. And still nobody was answering their call.

A couple of decades earlier the Russia desk took up a whole Art Deco building in the center of Brussels and was the place to begin an exceptional career in the intelligence community. Nowadays, it was just this one floor in a faceless office building between the airport and the NATO headquarters, and working here was proof you didn’t qualify for much else. So the fact that their boss wasn’t answering wasn’t spy novel material – that hardass was probably just asleep. “Should we really be waking him for this?” Serpa sighed. Greer shook his head. “Even if they’re trying to Orson Welles us, it’s our job to let him know they’re trying to Orson Welles us. Keep trying”.
Crone turned to Serpa. “And their exact wording was…?”
“Cжигают небо. They’re burning the skies,” Serpa said.
“They meaning… aliens?” Greer said, raising an eyebrow.
“No,” Serpa replied, “not aliens but alien, the adjective. They spoke of an alien fleet.”
“Burning the skies,” Greer said.
“You can say it,” Crone replied.
“Say what?” Greer replied.
Serpa spoke up. “They might be drunk.”
They all nodded solemnly. And the phone kept ringing.
“They’re totally trying to Orson Welles us,” Crone laughed, readjusting his tie. “I’ll try them again.”
As Crone stood up to get to his desk, Serpa suddenly straightened and spoke. “Colonel, this is Serpa from the night desk; you’re on a secure line. We got a voice comm from Archangelsk about unidentified objects messing with their atmosphere and- … no sir, a direct call, not SIGINT… yes, some sort of unknown fleet supposedly burning the skies without any- … no, hovering in the air. Yes, that’s what we thought too-”. Serpa mouthed the words Orson Welles to the others and rolled his eyes. He spoke again.
“Yes, Crone is trying that as we speak. Let me put you on speakerph- … Okay. Understood, sir. You too, sir.” And with this, Serpa hung up.
“Not that curious, huh,” said Greer.
“He said to call him when we’re able to reestablish contact with Archangelsk and to ‘not let Ivan toy with us’ like that.” Crone covered the microphone of his phone on the other side of the room. “He didn’t really say Ivan?”
“He did,” Serpa sighed.
“He really talks like that,” Greer said, shaking his head. “Guys like him are just stuck in the past.”
“Jusht one Ping,” Serpa said, mocking Sean Connery’s accent.

 

DAY 4
“You need to get your asses out of the past, gentlemen,” said the Colonel as he stormed through yet another door, “or we’re all fried.” In the red emergency light of the underground car park, the blood dripping from his handgun looked like tar.
Crone was trying to keep up with the resolute pace of the colonel, his hair flattened and grey from the ashes and rain outside. “Colonel, look, I’ve never even held one of these before…”

He looked at his two friends, both of them holding on to an M4 while fighting with the straps of an ammunitions carrier.
“We’ve all never held one of these before…” said Greer. The Colonel’ was making an effort to stay calm. “You’ll be fine.” Crone stopped. “No, we won’t!” he said, a bit louder than he intended. The colonel turned around, his expression softening. “Look, kid,” he said, “you guys have more tactical training than-“
“Tactical ANALYSIS training,” Greer said. “We might know how to tell others how to outsmart them, but-“
“No, not THEM,” Crone said, stepping between the Colonel and Greer, pointing back at the long corridor through which they came. “We know how to outsmart Ivan, or Abdul, but not… them. And even if we did, we’d probably miss every shot, so we’d all just… you know, die, in a tactically superior position!”
“That’s not entirely true,” Serpa said quietly. “We can’t miss.” Everyone turned towards him, the rain echoing from the distance. “I’m just saying they’re too big, we can’t miss.”
The shameless grin on Serpa’s face made everyone relax a little. Crone leaned on the wall. The Colonel suddenly seemed to notice the blood on his arm for the first time, and covered the wound with his other hand. “It’s just us left,” he said with a heavy sigh, pointing to where they were headed. “Just us to keep everyone in that building alive until the buses come. Just hold those guns in a badass way and look determined. Make them feel a bit safer for having you around. Alright?” The rain was filling the silence again. Greer began rummaging for bandages in his backpack. “Here, let me get that for you, Colonel.”

 

DAY 8

As they pulled away in the bus, Greer wiped the condensation off the window, certain he could see the outline of the Colonel on the burning pile of bodies they were leaving behind. Crone and Serpa were sitting in the row in front of him, greedily gobbling up the pudding they got from the French soldiers. Only now, as they were driving on roads completely covered in dust and debris, did the full extent of the destruction around them become clear. The outline of their building, missing the top two and a half floors, was receding in the distance, backdropped by the dim orange glow of the grey skies.
“Cжигают небо,” came a voice from behind Greer. Greer turned a bit to see an exhausted woman sitting behind him, staring out the window at the cinematic skies. “That’s what they call it. Cжигают небо. I don’t know what it means.” She looked like she had forgotten how to shut her eyes, desperate for rest. Greer tried a smile and held up his unopened pudding for her. “Hungry?”
“Corporal Jree?” came a French sounding voice from the front. The woman shook her head and also held up a pudding cup. “I’ve got one of my own. Merci. But I think they’re asking for you,” she said, pointing to the French soldiers in the front of the bus. “Corporal Jree?” came the French voice again. Greer got up wearily, while Serpa and Crone were giggling at the French version of his name. He walked up to the soldiers, swaying side to side in the moving bus. “It’s Greer.”
“Oh, Pardon for that,” the officer said with an accent. “Corporal, we have you and two other NATO personnel in this bus being moved to reinforce at the defense line. Are those your comrades?“
Greer was taken aback for a second. “Oh no, you see, we’re not military, we’re liaison. We just hold a military rank because we’re in the liaison bureau for the Russian Federation.”
The soldiers looked at his fully loaded carrier rig and the cool M4s that Serpa and Crone were holding. They exchanged a few quick words in French and looked at a printed list in their hands again: “Corporal Greer, Specialist Serpa and Corporal Crone?”
“That’s us,” Greer said, pointing towards the two others. The buff French soldiers looked at the three pale, scrawny men and looked a bit irritated. “Please have a seat, Corporal, we’ll clear this up for you.”
“Thank you,” Greer said, and walked back to his seat.

 

DAY 11

The bombs in the distance had been exploding for days, in such a methodical and perfectly constant rhythm that everyone already knew it by heart. You could almost forget about them until nightfall, when the flashing horizon finally revealed where to run from. It was like the loud ticking of a grandfather clock in an empty house; After a while, you just didn’t notice anymore.
Crone was standing in front of a command tent, wrapped warmly into a dead fireman’s coat, rifle on his shoulder, waiting to be called inside. Both he and the watch guard he was standing next to wore linen over their faces, dark spots forming around the nostrils and mouth, their breathing heavy. Everyone was choking on the weird dust that made the air heavy.
„Corporal Crone?“ a phlegmy voice called from the tent, followed by long coughing. The watch guard nodded and Crone went inside.
The tent turned out to be merely an extension of a Bradley tank, a canvas roof for a mobile command post whose electronic guts had spilled outside. The dim light of a handful of computer screens constantly changed the color of the lighting in the tent. This, paired with the deep, constant booming of the distant bombardment, made Crone feel as if a dance floor should be right around the corner. And the grey-haired German officer who stood up to greet him was the bouncer.
“Hi,” Crone said, putting his backpack on the ground. The officer seemed a bit irritated as he sat back down, and Crone realized that he was probably expecting a salute. Too late for that now.
“So the French tell me that you and your friends are a bunch of cowards trying to save your asses,“ he said smiling, coming straight to the point with a faint German accent.
“Actually, sir,“ Crone began, “we‘re trying to save everyone else‘s asses. You don’t want us covering anyone’s back during a firefight.“
The German laughed. “I see. You were intelligence in Brussels?“ he asked.
“Yes sir, Russian Federation liaison.“
“They landed there first, did you know that?“
“Apparently, sir.“
“It’s still weird they didn’t forward any warning, surely they-” Crone froze a little at that comment.
“Ah, of course. You could tell me, but you’d have to kill me.” The officer winked. “Okay, look. I’m going to be perfectly honest with you. There isn‘t much wiggle room in the orders we got: all officer grades are in immediate and total NATO draft. Europe, and we assume earth, is fully mobilized. I am supposed to deploy you according to rank and MO, and since you and your buddies are E-4 Riflemen, I will need you to run fire teams. Most probably volunteer fire teams out of node Delta, just down the river from-“
Crone didn’t believe what he was hearing and sat down. But there wasn’t a chair.
The officer looked genuinely touched by Crone’s exhausted slump. He walked around the table to help him back up, speaking to the others in the tent. “Haben wir noch ein Wasser für den jungen Mann?“ Somebody passed a bottle to the officer, who crouched in front of Crone and put the water in his hand. The German spoke quietly: “look, if you want me to clear up the misunderstanding with the liaison rank and all, I can do that right away. But…” he sighed. “If I do that, you’ll end up in one of the bunkers, with no one telling you what’s going on. With no fresh air and no chance to do anything about this. We have more people volunteering to fight than we have guns, everyone who’s in there is just trying to get out again, even if it’s more dangerous. So it’s your call, your decision for you and the other two. Either fight out here, or huddle below the ground with the starving masses. I can make both happen, hmm?” He put a reassuring hand on Crones shoulder as he drained the water bottle in one go. “Sorry, with the scarves we don’t drink as much as we should…”
Crone began contemplating his choices. There was no denying it anymore, not after so many days: the surface of home, not of Europe or the States or Asia, but of everyone’s home, was dying. That fallout was both toxic, and radioactive, and something beyond that… And those giant hulks were not of this world. From all he heard you either had what it takes to confront them and outmatch them, or you went quickly. It was as if-
“Corporal?“ the German asked.
“So we can either be dead weight, or cannon fodder.“
The German laughed, which started a coughing fit. „Maybe cannon fodder, yes. But maybe, right now, that’s not the worst of all possible outcomes.“ Crone gave a deep sigh. The German officer helped him get up from the ground, the dizziness making Crone cough again. He felt, once again, that the stuff in the air wasn‘t just soot. It was squirming in his lungs. It was alive. It made Crone mad that it was making itself comfortable in all of them.
“Comms node Delta?“ he asked.
“Yes,“ the German said, “just a kilometer down the river.”

 

DAY 14

“No, pushing ‘clear‘ empties the display, not the memory. So if you want to empty the memory, you select the slot, then you clear the display, and push ‘okay’ then. Now it has saved an empty register and won’t receive or send audio from that slot.”
Serpa was watching his buddies struggle with their radio handsets as an older man with a freshly bandaged amputated leg was showing them the ins and outs of the AN/PRC-152. He remembered how hard it used to be for him to wrap his head around the minimal controls at first, so he left them to it.
He couldn’t help but grin at Greer and Crone in full marpat gear. These days, everyone who was fighting alongside them made it a matter of pride to barter uniforms, gear and insignia. It was everyone’s way of creating a connection, of becoming part of an overarching earth defense force fighting for, well, life, instead of national armies fighting for sovereignty. Greer and Crone never looked so badass.
One tent over, the girl was back again, showing the newcomers how to clean any newfound mags of the soot. Their unit was tasked with raiding weapons caches that were in the enemy’s path, scouring them for anything useful before the mindless hulks evened them to the ground. It was sort of exciting to be moving ahead of the enemy. The mindless predictability of their path gave everyone a sense of control, of being able to do something about it, while the-
“Are you checking out me or my STANAGs?” The girl said.
Serpa caught himself staring. “Oh, sorry. Won’t happen again,” he said, getting up to leave.
“No, stay. You could at least help me dry the next batch. My ass should have gotten me at least that.”
Serpa turned red and joined her in wiping the clean empty mags dry.
“Or was it my squeaky clean STANAGs?” she teased.
Serpa laughed. “I don’t know if I should wish that you outrank me, or that I outrank you.”
“Oh I heard you’re not really the fighting type, so you better hope you outrank me,” she spoke, pulling at his specialist patch with wet fingers. “This actually you? Or did you trade ranks as well?”
“Why don’t you pull a little harder and see if it comes off?” he said.
“Oh Specialist! You should at least buy me an MRE first.”

 

DAY 39

The German’s familiar voice was becoming audible again as the high-pitched noise in Greer’s ears slowly faded.
“4-2, this is 6. Do you copy?” rang from Greer’s left earpiece, as the shrieking young voice of one of yesterday’s recruits bawled in his right. In the grey dawn light, he saw the young man bundled up in the mud right next to him, crying and rocking, hysterically spitting soil from his mouth. As the mighty steps of the hulks traversed their trench only yards away, Greer crawled towards the young man, disengaging his cramped hands from the radio switch. “You’re still transmitting. Let go of the button so I can- there you go.” He picked up the boy’s rifle and shoved it in his hands. “There. Just breathe and relax a bit.”
Greer leaned onto the trench wall next to the boy and used his radio. “This is 4-2 actual, go ahead, 6.”
“That looked really bad from here, ACE report?” asked the German.
“All green with two KIA over here. We didn’t get to fire a single damn shot.”
“Roger that, 4-2. You’re in charge of 4 now Greer, actual is down, together with 4-1, and you’re ranking. Stay put, they’re moving away and we’re coming to get you.”
“Roger.” Greer said, switching his radio. “Guys, this is Greer, taking over as 4 actual. 4-3, 4-4, what’s your ACE?”
“4-4 is green, green, green, we were on the far flank,” came Crone’s voice.
“Roger,” said Greer. “4-3?” Silence.
“Serpa?” Greer said, getting nervous.
“This is 4-4 again, they’re one down, and actual is distraught. We’re all set to secure the perimeter, maybe you should move towards them to get them sorted out.”
“Moving,” Greer spoke, and put an arm around the whimpering boy next to him. “Come on, Buddy, let’s get you out of here. Move with me.”
The boy nodded and they began a crouching run through the collapsing trench. As they came around the corner, Greer saw Serpa standing in full view, his head above the trench, without a helmet, his gun and pack on the ground. Serpa was… collecting bodies on a pile.
“Serpa, get down!” Greer spoke loudly, which got him Serpa’s attention.
“Only one more,” Serpa spoke absentmindedly, as he bent down to pick up another one of their dead.
Greer peeked over the trench, seeing that the hulks were ignoring them. He hurried over to Serpa to pull him down. In that moment, Serpa lifted the broken body of the STANAG girl, and laid her on top of his disturbing little pile. Staring at Greer, he picked up his rifle and pack, crouched to safety and transmitted on the radio: “This is 4-3, we’re all green with one KIA. Ready to move.”
Greer crouched there for a while staring at Serpa, and then walked over and hugged him.

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