• Chapter Zero: A new Era
    The clatter of empty shells on the concrete was almost as loud as the numerous volleys of ammunition. Christel couldn’t help but smirk at this. If her troops couldn’t hit their live targets, Fur her forbid, they could easily deafen them. At least she didn’t have to worry about that, because each soldier was trained from the age of 4 to handle a (insert gun type here). A quick glance towards the direction of the targets allieved her minor worries. Each target had a hole the size of her fist in its chest. The Fur her would be pleased. Turning back to the bottle of pink champagne on the table, she began to drum her perfectly manicured nails on the hardwood surface.
    This is ridiculous, she thought. He should’ve shown up by now. I know that he got my message. As if to answer her unspoken critisism, Fur her Berthold stepped into view and took the seat opposite the irate commander.
    “So how’s my little Christel today?” he said, pouring himself some champagne.
    It took her a few seconds to recover from her initial shock of her great leader materialize like so. “Everything is going well. The replacements for our lost soldiers are fitting in well except for-“the commander pointed to the unfortunate soldier that was 6th from the left, Ermentraud. His firing rate was slow, and he took 30 seconds longer to reload than the others. Big mistake.
    With a grin that bore no joy, Fur her Berthold asked Christel to send him over. She signaled her temporary assistant, Alphonse, to start the stop siren. There was no response. She tried again, but he still couldn’t hear her over the roar of the gunfire. Why such fools had sensitive ears was beyond her. No explosion, no matter how loud, could bother her. With a grunt, Christel got up and marched across the chilly warehouse to him. Still unnoticed, she grabbed his ear protectors and unceremoniously yanked them off. Alphonse cried out and began to cradle his bleeding head. Stepping over the whimpering fool, she pulled the siren. That was another reason why she didn’t wear those things, they were attached to the eardrum. The gunfire ceased immeadiatly. In a barking tone that belied her innocent appearance, Christel called Ermentraud forward. As he came, so did his great leader with the same malicious grin. Christel bore the grin too, knowing what always followed when a soldier was called up by the Fur her for this certain reason. Ermentraud stood stock still after giving the salute.
    “Do you know why you’ve been called up?” purred Fur her as he toyed with something behind him. The soldier shook his head. “Your firing speed leaves a lot to be desired”. Ermentraud began to sweat beads the size of marbles.
    “Please Fu her,” he pleaded, “just give me one more-“Ermentraud never finished what he had to say. His face still held that fearful look as his head crashed and rolled to the floor. His body fell into a kneeling position, the fell forward with a soft thump. Christel produced a handkerchief from her sleeve and handed it to the swordsman. He took it and began to clean his dripping blade that he had christened Sonne, sun. It was quite lovely with its polished gold basket hilt that led to the cold steel blade that was slightly tinged with red from the many lives it had already taken.
    She strolled over to the hade and examined its neck. The cut was done at a slight angle. ”You’re losing your touch Fu her. It’s not a perfect cut,” she chuckled as she sent the men back to their positions for target practice.
    “Perhaps it’s my age,” he said while sliding the weapon back into its scabbard. He joined her by the head and returned her handkerchief. “I’m not as spry as I used to be you know”.
    “Aw, you haven’t aged ever since I first met you,” said Christel as she gave him a hug. Not returning her embrace, Fur her Berthold gently pried her off and bent down. When he came up, the head was in his right hand.
    “I shouldn’t have to resort to termination this late in their career,” he said as he tossed the head up an down like a morbid ball. “What say we return to that champagne before it gets too warm?” he said as he tossed the head over his shoulder. Christel nodded and they both strolled back to the table.
    Taking their seats, Christel poured some more of the sweet liquid.
    “To victory,” toasted Christel.
    “To God.”
    Their glasses made an evil tinkle as they contacted. They empty shells rained down upon the cold floor as the soldiers fired, the image of their dead compatriot long forgotten. Failure would not be tolerated in the eyes of their leader. Amen.