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"Observer/Engineer"
« on: March 11, 2010, 05:15:12 PM »
"Observer / Engineer"
“We’re about to start.  You wanting to watch?”

The Observer had been in his office, polished boots up on his desk, military service cap blocking the light from poking through closed eyes.  The knock on the door didn’t wake him up, the lingering friend of insomnia was the cause of that.  The medals on his left chest boasted that this man was of importance, and had witnessed history with his own two eyes.  The receding hair-line prevented any lies of his aging life, the Observer was under no illusions that he was entering the end of his dedicated military career.  Nowadays, he was far from the front lines, giving orders behind a desk constructed of wood and paper mountains.

“I’ll be right there.”  In his old age, he could no longer leap from his seat and be there in a second.  Stiff finger joints pushed aching limbs upwards, and a prolonged heave growled from his throat as the man got to his feet.  The short brown-come-grey strands on his head were soon covered by the cap.  On the floor next to his chair was a poorly-translated of Erich Maria Remarque’s The Road Back.  The cover had been ripped some years ago, and some of the pages were stained with various liquids, but the Observer continued to keep it in his possession, considering it to be one of his favourite books to read when he had nothing to do.

Picking it up, he wiped away some dust and tossed it on to his desk, turning the light switch off as he walked to the monitor room.  Two small televisions were sitting on a desk, with the same man displayed on both of them from different camera feeds.  A young soldier, hands tied behind his back and a Russian uniform untidy and dirty.  His hair was too long to be military standards, and a large bruise discoloured the area under his left eye.  “What a mess.  Is the sound working?”

A palm hit the side of the right television hard, and a voice was heard.  “It is now.”

“...So what do you do?  What unit are you with?”

“I’m an Engineer, with the 42nd.  I fix my General's radio when it breaks.”

“And do you know why you’re here?”

“Because your radio needs fixed too?”

“I don’t think you understand the seriousness of the situation here, son.”

“I don’t think you do.  The General gets pretty damn upset when he can’t listen to his music.”

The interogator slid a map in front of the Engineer.  Someone had drawn some large question marks at different points, and the captive soldier was asked to fill in the missing information.  “Enough of the games.  We know that there’s Russian forces around this area.  We want you to tell us where they are, and how many.”

“What if I say no?  Gonna tickle my foot with a feather?  Prod at me with a stick?”

“Something much worse.”

“Oh, I don’t know.  I don’t think there’s anything much worse than being prodded with a stick.  This one time, me and my friend were prodding this guy with a stick, and he chased us in to the mountains and fell off the side.”

The Engineer received a loud slap to the already-hurting cheek on his left.  “Keep up with the smart comments and we’ll be cutting out that tongue of yours.  The only thing we need is for you to point on the map and write down strength numbers.”  By now, the Russian’s long hair had fallen in front of his face, and dirty-blonde distorted his vision.  The room was small, dark except for the tired glow above the table and the map.  Occasionally, it would swing from side to side as the Interogater accidently brushed against it.  “Tell me now, and we’ll let you go.  Walk you right outside that door and back to doing what you do.”

“Fixing radios?”

“That, and what ever else you fix.”

“I fix tanks as well.”

“Tanks?”  He suddenly became a million times more interested in the conversation.  “Soviet tanks?”

“No, Canadian tanks.”

“Canadian tanks... in the Ural Mountains?”

“Yes.”

“Why are there Canadian tanks in Russia?”

“Because I’m hell of a lot better at fixing tanks than Canadian mechanics are.”

The darkened man sighed, shaking his head and walking from the table.

“A guy I knew put his car in to a garage in Canada, and he said that when it came out the wheels fell off.”  That seemed to piss him off, and the Engineer knew he had to get back on track to say what he wanted to hear.  He was pretty sure he heard a revolver being loaded.  He nodded his head downwards a handful of times like he were a crazed animal – his hair fluttering and dancing upwards with each tiny movement of his neck.  Eventually, he stopped, deciding instead to try and describe which question mark he was talking about rather than pointing.

“See that little red question mark there?  The one like Captain Hook’s hand?  Well the 10th Tank Brigade’s sitting right there, about half-strength.  And the mark to the right of that, about twenty-miles east of here, is the 14th Tank Brigade, along with some guys from the 500th Infantry.  Actually, come to think of it, I think the 252nd’s with them as well.” 

The man in the room was intrigued by the information, but so was the Observer.  His eyes were opened wider than they’ve been in days, head slowly tilting towards the left screen, hand over his mouth, listening silently.  The Engineer didn’t just stop there.  Oh no.  He filled in all the blanks like he were completing a cross-word.

“...19th Tank Brigade to the south... 7th Guards Division behind them...  56th Infantry’s coming up as reinforcements...  Oh, and they just got a brand new ship-load of tanks as well...”

The Interogator had taken a seat by now, elbow on table, head resting against closed fist.  The fingers in his other hand played with a biro pen, tapping a tune against the tabletop.  “Anything else?”

“...You know, I think I heard something about the 351st Tank Division being redeployed here, but don’t quote me on it.”

There was a loud origin of noise that began from the only door in the room, and continued with heavy boots against the wooden floor.  It was the Observer, a cocktail of anger and shock on his face.  There was a faint twitch in his eye, and the other two men in the room jumped ever so slightly when his fist slammed against the table.

Bowing his head in shyness, a slight grin flickered on the Engineer’s lips behind uncombed hair.

The Observer spoke.  “Son, what do you think you’re doing?  Never – in my twelve years of doing this – have I seen a soldier like you.  This is supposed to be a simulated training exercise for interrogation survival.  Not only did you reveal the location and identity of all Soviet troops in the area without much of a fight, but you actually gave out information on classified divisions that you shouldn’t even know exist!”

“Oh.”  Whispered the Engineer, before catching the stare of his superior.  “Sorry General.  I forgot the rules of the game again.”
« Last Edit: March 14, 2014, 11:56:41 PM by Lord Palatine »

 

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