Wing and Sword: Life During Wartime

The Shaman

First Post
The platoon, tired but no less wary, navigates the twisting track back to the bourdj where the GMCs are parked. Again Sgt. Katsourianis’s section leads the way, with Lt. Ramadier near the head of the column. Sgt. Altmeier’s section brings up the rear of the paras, followed by Lt. Ferrand, Sister Courcy, the harkis – and the donkeys. Marcel again follows at the back of the platoon – the nurse and the SAS officer are deep in quiet conversation covered by the sound of the hooves of the donkeys and the curses of the skinner, leaving the medic to listen as Sgts. Müller and Altmeier growl at one another in German for ninety minutes.

At the front of the column, the legionnaires of the first section pick at the mud and cement clinging to their skin – a hasty wash at the cistern wasn’t enough to remove the caked-on dirt of the day. Sgt. Katsourianis addresses Lt. Ramadier as the column leaves the village. “Sir, was the lieutenant’s intelligence any good?” His tone is skeptical.

The tall platoon leader nods. “Yes, it was,” Ramadier answers. “That village back there is in one sector and El-Biya, where we left the rest of the company? That’s in a different sector.” His looks ahead at the hills bordering the oued as he talks over his shoulder to the sergent. “This is the only trail. The commander of the sector won’t send his troops up here because there’s no road in, and the commandant of the battalion in El-Biya won’t send his men up here because it’s not his sector.”

“That outpost where we left the trucks – those soldats have never been up here. They patrol the boundary between sectors, and that’s it.” The platoon leader shakes his head as if in disbelief. “How did it go with Lt. Ferrand?” he asks, lowering his voice slightly.

Kat gives him a rundown of the work in the village, along with Pyotr’s observations. “Sir, I think we should have tossed the houses,” he offers at the end.

“Yes,” Lt. Ramadier agrees. “These rappelé officers who never served overseas, never lived in the colonies – ” He doesn’t finish the thought. Le Capitaine stresses cooperation with the SAS, Kat. So we cooperate.”

Oui, mon lieutenant,” Kat replies, apparently satisfied that he made his point to the platoon leader.

The sun has dropped below the hills as the platoon arrives at the trucks. Lt. Ferrand speaks with the adjudant at the blockhouse – the harkis and the stock will spend the night at the outpost and be picked up in the morning. The paras climb aboard the deuce-and-a-halfs – Lt. Ferrand and Sister Courcy ride in the cab of the lead truck. The drive back is no less gut-wrenching than the trip out, perhaps more so due to the day’s exertions.

It’s full dark when Third Platoon rolls into El-Biya once again. The rest of the company has pitched their shelter-halves alongside the barracks belonging to the sector troops garrisoned in the market town. Le Capitaine appears almost as the trucks roll to a stop. As the paras unload, they can overhear Lt. Ferrand enthusiastically praising the legionnaires to the company commander for their hard work in the village.

Marcel suddenly finds himself face-to-face with Sister Courcy – standing in the glow of the headlights of the deuce-and-a-half, the slender nurse’s battered fatigues and combat boots are covered in dust, her dark hair tucked up inside her khaki sunhat.

She offers hims her hand. “Anne-Marie. Anne-Marie de Courcy. Remember what I told you, Marcel.” Her heart-shaped face breaks into a smile – for the first time it seems to spread across her face, lifting the tip of her nose, crinkling the corners of her blue eyes. “About the fatigues.” She turns and walks away toward the blockhouse.

The weary paras take up their primitive quarters for the night.
 

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Barak

First Post
Normand, as usual, takes the time to stow his gear properly in the appropriate place before even thinking of finding some water available to remove the worse of the grit off of himself. His minimal ablutions completed, he thinks of what to do next.

Alright, I need to find something to do. I know.. Ortu. He thinks I'm a arab sympathizer, and maybe I am, but having him think that is not overly healthy.

An informal plan in his head, he walks around, looking for his fellow légionnaire. Once he finds him, he loses no time going up to the man.

"Hey, mon frère! I was looking for you. We have some free time tonight, correct? What is there to do around here?"
 

The Shaman

First Post
Slivio Ortu is seated on his bedroll, relacing a boot when Normand approaches. “Here?” he says with surprise, looking at the garrison barracks and around the dark village. “Not much.” The Sardinian tugs at the laces and slips the boot over his foot. “I missed the match this afternoon. AC Milan and Juventus,” he continues, tapping the transistor radio in his pocket. “What do you have in mind?”
 

Barak

First Post
Normand guffaws.

"If I had anything specific in mind, I wouldn't be asking what there is to do. As you said, I doubt anything real fancy would be around here. But surely, a place to have a few drinks, play some cards, something."
 

The Shaman

First Post
“Drinks?” Silvio answers with a derisive snort. “The wogs don’t drink alcohol, remember?” The tireur finishes tying his boot and inspects his handywork, then looks up at Normand. “So was jail worth helping that Arab? Y’know, he’d probably kill you if he had half a chance. Every one of ’em is a killer, Normand. Every one.” He looks down at his boots again. “Anyway, even if there was anything to do here, there’s no way we’d get a permission tonight. I overheard the lieutenant say we’re moving out at dawn.”
 

shadowbloodmoon

First Post
Pyotr finishes stowing his gear, wearily cleaning his rifles as he overhears his squadmates talking about what to do the rest of the evening. Deciding that he needed to get the day's activities out of his head, he pulls a deck of cards out.

"Somebody say cards?"
 

Barak

First Post
Normand shrugs.

"I thought I got solitary for keeping those local idiots from ruining the crap out of our raid. If it was for saving that kid, I don't feel so bad. In the end, if he had died, it would have riled up all the wogs even more, making our lives even worse. Think 'bout it, Ortu." With a smile, he adds. "And I did learn that I'm probably the only one in the whole outfit who knows how to give a real beating, which is good to know. Anyway, water under the bridge and all that."

Pulling his cigar-gear out of his bag, he shrugs.

"So no alcohol and no going out. We can still stay in and take Pyotr's money. The russkies, they don't know how to play. What do you say, mon frère?"
 

Bobitron

Explorer
Marcel, still prone in his bunk while he thinks on the days events, sits up and shakes his head, clearing it of the reflections.

"Cards, you say? I'm not very good, but someone needs to play and make sure Normand doesn't cheat," he says with a grin, pulling out his pack of smokes. "Cigarettes?"
 

The Shaman

First Post
“Talk to some of these guys who were in Indochina,” replies Ortu, unlacing his boots again. “They’re like fish in a net. The Communist thing.”

“Fish in the sea, Silvio, not a net.” Manolo Sánchez rolls over from where he’s lying on his bedroll, props himself up on one elbow. “It’s Maoist doctrine. ‘The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea.’”

Ortu waves his hand. “Whatever.” He sprinkles foot powder liberally in his boots, then sets them aside. “No cards for me, thanks.” He slides into his bedroll, pops the earpiece from his transitor radio in an ear, and lies back with his head on his hands.

Sánchez sits up and reaches into the pocket of his smock. “Room for one more?” the veteran legionnaire asks, a tidy wad of francs in his hand.

Sánchez settles in, declines Marcel’s proferred cigarette, pulling an Ideales from his own pocket instead. The Spaniard watches as the cards are shuffled. “In Indochina you could never be sure who was Vietminh, and who wasn’t. After awhile they all became ‘viets.’ It was the only way to stay alive – treat every one of ’em like he was going to cut your throat if you turned your back.” He takes a long drag from his cigarette – the lines on the veteran's face are deep in the glow of the flashlight lighting the cards. “The fellaghas use the same tactics. Some of ’em learned ’em from the viets themselves, in prison camps. That waiter - ” he focuses on Normand “ - could’ve been working with that mechanic back in Portemonte, for all we know.” He flicks a bit of ash from his cigarette and takes another pull. “The Arabs, the Berbers - they're no better or worse than anyone else. But you can’t trust them either, not completely. Even in the best of times they’re a shrewd people. Cunning. And these are not the best of times.”
 
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Barak

First Post
Normand shrugs, and starts shuffling the deck.

"Wanna play au beigne, then? Since it works with any number of players anyway." After shuffling some more, he starts to deal. "Me, I don't care much about the politics, you know? But that waiter, coulda been an informer working for our side, too. I don't know. One thing for sure though, I had stood there with everybody and watch the crowd beat him, he would have been a fell in a month, if he wasn't already. They kill him? His whole family would have hated us then. Me, I don't think about it, I just don't let a mob beat up a kid who did nothing."
 

shadowbloodmoon

First Post
A quick jab to Normand's shoulder is used by Pyotr to accept his challenge at cards. Pyotr waves away Marcel's proferred cigarettes as he listens to Sanchez attempt to explain Communism to them. He could only smile. A muttered "Tiy nye znaiyesh...", escapes in his native Russian.

He then looks at his cards with a grin. Normand's cheating again...
 

The Shaman

First Post
Manolo studies the grenadier thoughtfully. “There is that,” he answers, looking down at his cards once again. “That’s what Le Capitaine says, too, Normand. That’s probably why your discipline was so light.”
 

shibata

First Post
As the soldiers play their card game, Raffaele works in his sketchbook near-by.

"Hey guys! You can fight over this. It'll be worth a lot of money someday when I'm famous!" Raffaele tosses a charcoal sketch of the card-players in their tenue de leopard, as serious as if they were in battle.

craft(visual art) charcoal sketch of card-playing camouflaged legionaires = 17 + 4 = 21 http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=478179
 

The Shaman

First Post
The Tomb of Abd-el-Hammou

Manolo gazes Raffaele’s drawing. “This is very good. May I?” He points the drawing in the direction of his field pack.

The legionnaires pass a pleasant half-hour at cards, until Kat orders lights out. “Reveille at 0430,” the sergent intones.

The biting cold of the pre-dawn darkness digs deep into the flesh of the Legion paras as they gear up, a mockery of the heat that will come as the sun climbs to zenith. The paras are loaded into trucks once again and after a bouncing ride down a rocky piste, the company is assembled for a quick inspection and an even briefer sick call – none of the legionnaires fall out, apparently less intimidated by a four-day march in the desert than eight days in prison for malingering. Inspection completed, the company jumps off down a lonely canyon. The rat hunt begins.

The pace of the march is blistering – in contrast to the exaggerated slow steps of the Legion’s parade, the ratissage is conducted at a near-run, uphill and down, from the chill of the morning through the furnace of the afternoon. This is no mere race across the countryside, however, but rather an exercise in maneuver, the four platoons and the company headquarters performing an intricate dance over the rocky, dusty landscape – advance, support, reserve, the platoons cycle through the motions like a clockwork orrery.

The ratissage offers an opportunity to study the platoon commanders in action. Lt. Bloch commands First Platoon – he is the most respected officer in the company after Captain Martini, a baroudeur who fought in the Resistance as a teen, then enlisted after the war and rose to the rank of adjudant before being selected to attend the academy in Strasbourg. Bloch’s platoon is a precision machine in action, seemingly a step ahead of the rest of the company. Sgt. Santos, the platoon sergeant temporarily commanding Fourth Platoon pending the arrival of a replacement for the transferred Lt. Gauthier, is another veteran, with twelve years in Indochina as an infantryman and paratrooper – he is efficient, no-nonsense, and expected to be promoted to adjudant very soon.

The sous-lieutenants, Binard and Ramadier, command the second and third platoons respectively. Both are St.-Cyrians, one of the six officers selected from each graduating class for posts in the Legion. Binard, known as “BiBi” among the other officers, is an Olympic skier, a member of the French national team – after graduation he served as a staff officer in an Alpine regiment in order to train for the games in Cortina d’Ampezzo this past winter. Following the Olympics he received a transfer to the Legion that, according to the scuttlebutt around the mess, was facilitated by his father, a colonel and Officer of the Legion of Honor, on the General Staff in Paris. Lt. Binard leans heavily on his platoon sergeant, Sgt. Bachman, during action in the field – BiBi is the newest officer to the company, and it shows.

Lt. Ramadier joined Third Company a little more than a year ago, David Nedjar says at the evening meal after their exhausting first day in the bled. “He took over the platoon after Lt. Dicommet was rotated back to France,” the Algerian explains as the legionnaires dine on tinned sardines and green beans from their field rations. “He was as greener than grass, of course,” he continues, his voice dropping a bit, “but he was willing to listen to Müller and the other sergents, and that’s the difference between a good officer and a bad one, hand to G_d.”

Ramadier is a colonial, Nedjar adds. “Guyana. His family owns a plantation there.”

The fourth lieutenant in the company is Lt. Degasser, the executive officer. He is something of an unknown quantity, aloof, methodical – it’s rumored that he is being groomed for a position on the General Staff, and his assignment to the Legion paras is simply to validate his credentials before he is promoted and installed behind a desk.

The greatest respect among the legionnaires of the company is reserved for their company commander. He is “Captain Martini” only when protocol dictates, and never, ever just “Martini” – to the paras he is Le Capitaine, as if he defines the word itself. Le Capitaine was an Italian paratrooper,” Silvio Ortu offers with more than a touch of pride, assiduously powdering his boots the second night in the field, “and joined the Legion after the war.”

Le Capitaine survived RC4,” Sgt. Katsourianis adds, referring to the battle of Route Coloniale4 in 1950 from which just twenty-three legionnaires of the 1e BEP escaped the Vietminh in the gorge at Coc Xa, “when he was a sergent-chef. He got his commission after and was a lieutenant at Dien Bien Phu – spent seven months as a PW before repatriation.”

The legionnaires resume the rat hunt for a third day. Shortly after breaking camp shots are heard from the head of the column, where Lt. Bloch’s platoon has taken the lead, followed by cheers. The paras hit the dirt, warily eyeing the terracotta hills and the tufts of grey-green vegetation scattered along the slopes. The word passes back down the line – Bloch’s paras bagged a gazelle. One of the company cooks, a German named Stuber, quickly butchers the sleek animal as the paras advance. That night the paras’ soup packets are pooled and chunks of fresh gazelle meat added to make a thin stew – the flavor is strong and sharp, but no one states a preference for another night of tinned salted fish.

Lt. Ramadier calls the platoon together as the stew bubbles and the sun passes below the hills. “We’re not returning to the trucks tomorrow as planned,” he begins. The legionnaires are quiet – Sgt. Müller’s stern gaze makes it clear that any outward sign of discontent would be unwise and probably unhealthy. “Based on the intelligence we received from Lt. Ferrand, we’re moving east. There will be a resupply drop in the morning to deliver additional rations.”

The blond lieutenant reaches into a pocket of his smock and withdraws a black case. Légionnaire Mador, front and center,” he orders. Normand steps forward and snaps to attention. “Legionnaire, on behalf of a grateful France, I present you with the Médaille des Blessés Militaires for wounds sustained in action at Oued Baraba.” Lt. Ramadier pins the medal to Normand’s dusty fatigues and offers a smart salute as Müller calls the platoon to attention: Fixe! After the men are dismissed, the platoon sergeant hands Normand the case – “Put it away someplace safe until we get back,” he advises, “and stay out of trouble so we can do this right next time.”

Around mid-morning the company is brought to a halt as a tri-motor AAC.1 Toucan appears overhead – a half-dozen parachutes spill from an open door and are retrieved by a detail from Lt. Binard’s platoon. Canteens are refilled or topped off, ration tins stuffed into packs, then the march is resumed.

The day passes uneventfully – aside from an occasional trail that may or may not be made by wild game, there is no sign of the fellaghas, nor Arabs. The fourth night in the bled finds some of the legionnaires restless. Putain desert,” Ortu swears for the third time in as many minutes as he removes the laces from his boots to let them air out. “We climb these worthless hills while the fells are back in town,” he mutters. Merde.”

“That SAS officer told the lieutenant that the fells stay clear of the villages here,” Kat replies. “The Arabs are too scattered and the villages are too small – the fells can’t blend in like they can in the north. We have to follow the springs, like they do.”

Putain desert,” Ortu repeats, pulling the now-nearly empty can of foot powder from his pack.

The fifth morning finds Third Platoon leading the company’s advance, with Kat’s section at the sharp end of the platoon. The sun is no more than a hand’s width above mountains, still casting long shadows as the paras wind their way along a twisting oued...

WATCH or Spot and Listen checks, please. Feel free to add some background to your post if you feel so inclined.
 

Barak

First Post
After receiving his medal, and the comment by Lt. Ramadier, Normand cannot help a smirk coming to his lips.

"I'll do my best, sir. But I can't say I hate receiving the medal in the field instead of base camp. Seems.. Fitting. But as I said, point taken, sir."

He then puts the medal in it's case, and the case safely at the bottom of his pack.

---

Now, this is what I signed up for. Marching through the desert, putting my body against the elements, searching for enemies of the mother country.

With a shake of his head at Ortu's whining, Normand falls easily into place, not overly fatigued by the heavy marching at all. His hand cradles the Grenade-Launcher rifle easily, with the ease that has come from carrying it often, keeping his eyes peeled for anything out of the ordinary.


OOC
spot check (1d20+1=17)
listen check (1d20=6)
 

shadowbloodmoon

First Post
Pyotr collects his cards, replacing them in his pack and thanking the crew for a good game. As the days of hunting and searching wore on, he found himself checking and rechecking every strap, buckle, lace and whatnot he could find on his gear. It was better than staring at the empty hills. At times, he thought he heard something or maybe even saw something, but he started to believe his mind was playing tricks on him when it turned out to be nothing or one of the other platoons messing around. That's when he really did sense something... Pyotr was sure of it this time.

Watch: (1d20+5=19)
 

shibata

First Post
Raffaele swears terrible oaths, sweats, marches, and swears terrible oaths. He watches the experienced NCOs and attempts to copy their fieldcraft and their bearing. Raffaele wants to be liked, and noticed, and respected. In this facet, he is unlike many of the professional soldiers who keep their head down and hope not to be "picked-on". Raffaele even breaks one of the cardinal rules and <gasp of horror> volunteers for things! Always with a cheerful attitude, even as he says things that would make a member of la Marine francaise blanche; what is it with this one?

Watch roll d20 + 3 = 14 http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=483159
 

Bobitron

Explorer
Marcel relaxes during the game, losing most hands with a smile, but his mind is elsewhere. He retires shortly before the others, writing a letter and finishing just as Kat closes them down for the night. The next morning, he rushes to get the note to the post before reveille.

Marcelsletter.jpg


Marcel's mood is bouyant on the march, even days in. He whistles softly as they walk, just loud enough for those closest by to hear. His eyes sweeping the rugged terrain, he takes a short pull from his canteen, balancing his carbine across his chest.

Listen is a 9, Spot is a 20.
 
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The Shaman

First Post
Around a bend in the oued, some twenty meters ahead of the advancing paras, two figures dressed in striped djellbas lead a pair of donkeys along the dry streambed. Both men stop short in obvious surprise at the appearance of the camo-clad legionnaires. Hurried words are exchanged between the two, too soft to hear.

Walking at the head of the column, David Nedjar raises a hand and the paras drop to one knee amid the rocks and scraggly scrub at the bottom of the streamcourse. Qif! Nedjar calls out – Stop! – to the two men as the legionnaires quickly glance about; the hillsides overlooking the oued appear empty. The two men in the hooded robes stand still as statues, one pulling the harnesses of the two donkeys to bring them to a halt as well. One of the dun-colored animals has a simple woolen bag draped over its back – the other donkey is unladen.

Choc, en avant! Sgt. Katsourianis orders, and Normand, Pyotr, Raffaele join Nedjar and Pamuk, moving toward the men and their livestock as the rest of the section takes up covering positions.

The distance is about sixty-five feet. There is scattered brush and rocks for cover and concealment all along the streambed. Marcel is at the back of the platoon again and unable to see the men – he is aware that the column draws to a halt, and a check of the surrounding hillsides reveals nothing but more rocks and brush.
 


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