Crossover Fan Fiction ❯ Spanish Rhapsody ❯ Sniffles ( Chapter 2 )

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TWO: Sniffles


My day was another day at school. That night I went to sleep and awoke as Noelle once more. So not exactly like niisan. He woke up in different places. I was back in Spain. I know this is Spain because I looked up the location and it is a town called Cuenca, occupied since the Dark Ages and looked it. Most of the buildings were stone, very old, and there were statuary and pots with faces on them, gargoyles that survived the Moorish occupation, and the cathedral still had original stained glass, over a thousand years old. Cervantes wrote about the region in his novel Don Quixote, and it is sad that the wars have turned some of those places into ruins today.

The renaming of villages into numbers was a curious affectation by a government who wanted to be seen to be doing something, and made no difference other than changing the signs and forcing residents to stop using the home town’s real name for a number. Ridiculous, yet people complied to avoid penalties. Such is life.

I wonder what my brother would make of this place? It was beautiful as the sun rose, and I meandered around the base, heading towards the hangar when Rio ordered me to assist Private Sorami Kanata, who kept sneezing. She’d had a dip in the river with her full pack the prior evening, chasing after the acorn bell that belonged to Rio, and her father before that.

This is somewhat more important than she liked to admit, since the crown princess owned an identical bell and wore it when she declared the armistice. She had died of disease since then, which upset Rio more than she admitted. Rio was her half sister, after all, and the implications were significant. Rio could be made the Crown Princess. She did not know I knew, but again, I’d seen her file.

Ever since the Silent Reaper incident, I’d backdoored all my security, which sometimes meant forms and authorization numbers I’d inserted into the bureaucracy which made my information requests go through. I made a point of learning things about the people around me. Most of them were very nice, and a few were trying to recover from horror they experienced during the war. Not many were genuinely bad, and I think, since I’m known as an international war criminal anyway, I may as well use that if I needed to.

Kanata is a cute little girl. Genki and enthusiastic, even with her continued coughing. I tried Cure Disease on her and actually found an infection, some virus known for respiratory and fever problems and able to kill children, so I cured her before she got worse.

Our uniforms were green cotton, with bulky helmets stamped from steel. An old design, but adequate for identification purposes and catching light rain. Useless against anything larger than small rocks, they were mostly decorative and heavy. Our rifles were long, heavy, and in operating condition. A centuries old bolt action designed to fire rifle cartridges in the ostensibly named 8 by 57 mm Mauser bottleneck, with smokeless powder and a non-corrosive primer, it was a fine round for large game, if there was any to spare, and enemy soldiers if there was a war on. There was not. For house to house with fixed bayonets? Terrible, slow, heavy, and in the way. As an exercise it was exhausting. I am glad I ate breakfast.

I managed to save Kanata from falling from the broken end of the building into the canyon a hundred feet down when we were both startled by the owls living in this end of the building. It was an old classroom, filled with school books rotting in the rain, unfortunately, and old broken down student desks. Considering the building was unlivable I am not surprised this has gone to rot. And why our leader Filicia Heidemann spends most of her time cooking and cleaning. She’s got so much Mom Energy. Won’t she be surprised when she starts having periods again? She and the Major Klaus deserve some happiness together, even if that’s going to sting Kureha for losing her first crush to an older woman’s charms. Filicia had a very bad time in the war. She was a tanker, and got blown clear when it was hit, watching her crew burn to death in front of her. She still screams in the night over it. As a mere second lieutenant, she was still in charge of the fort for us leftover girls because the military brass, and the men in general, felt better having us away from mine fields, radiation, and bioweapons leaks they were dealing with during the cease fire. They were losing men to that stuff, and losing young women of obvious marriageable age (and some too young for that) dying after the fighting was over is just too much to bear. It was maybe a little chauvinistic, a little, but honestly, how bad off does your army need to be to accept a fourteen year old like Kanata or Kureha? Even in signals, you can get shot or step on a mine. War is nasty, and I mostly have memories of working in a lab, not front lines or live human testing.

The other bit of interest in my job went to my chemistry ability. While I’ve spent much of my time on the spider tank repairs, I also setup and run the still which converts apples from the orchard into calvados brandy, which we bottle with our own label and trade to the various shops, for their resale, trade, or personal use. Having a valid trade good makes us useful to the town, and we end up doing each other favors and getting discounted food and second-hand goods in return, stuff that Rio and Filicia manage most of the time. Sometimes it is me, of course. Or rather this body when I’m not here. I’m not entirely sure of that situation, thus why I got the Skyrim magic, just in case. Healing is a superpower in most universes, and incredibly valuable when you can do it to others.

“How are you doing Kanata?” asked Rio when we returned to the main barracks and put our gear away. “I noticed you had a cough?”

“I got better, Rio-sempai,” the girl responded, too tired to use her rank. Kureha bristled, but huffed and let this go. Filicia was in earshot, and she had ordered everyone to dispense with ranks when on base.

“I’ve got hot dinners, then its bath time, girls. Wash your hands and faces before we eat. That building is dusty,” Filicia reminded us. I followed the two younger girls to the washroom and took my turn scrubbing the bits that show. I smelled of homemade soap, lavender and honeysuckle? We’d traded this from one of the farm wives that had tallow to spare for soap making. Best to rinse thoroughly, because you can get burns from lye soap if you aren’t careful. And you don’t even feel it, because the base kills the nerve endings. We dried and returned to the dining room, seating ourselves and were served steaming plates of spiced rice, wild boar that Rio had apparently hunted before the festival, a bit gamey to my palate, and steamed vegetables. Filicia observed us eating with pride before digging in herself. Rio praised her cooking, and we assented with murmurs.

After cleaning up the dishes, I followed the others to the bath house, where a wood fired furnace boiled up the water to give us all a huge soaking bath. The other side of this boiler went to the still, a room we’re keeping locked and not mentioning to Kanata, since she was new, young, and innocent to the ways of the world, and the production of alcohol. As the foremost chemist in the entire empire, I enjoyed the trivial effort required to make good booze and keep my commanders happy. While nobody was looking I gave Filicia another dose of healing magic, working to lighten her scars and repair the superficial damage since I’d fixed the deeper stuff already. She was fertile, for the first time since her wounding in the war, and removing those scars on her belly and back would remove stress from her eventual wedding night.

Rio sempai also had scars, though they were basically the result of training and a wild childhood, following the death of her mother to a wartime plague that had spread around the land. While I am often hated by the enemy for my work producing a bioweapon, I am in the position to know that the enemy did it to us first. Mine was more effective. But theirs killed Rio’s mother when she was eight, and the trauma remains with her today. She’s got a love hate relationship with the church orphanage and the new nun that runs the place. War orphans are a direct result of the battles so recently fought, and the kids were coping well, considering their circumstances. It would probably weigh heavily on them when they were older, but for now they were in an endless slumber party and bright colored clothes. Considering my own family was slaughtered in the war by detonation of one of those energy weapons, I can understand how they feel. I’m just older and further along.

“I’m going to wrinkle up like a prune if a stay here a minute longer,” complained Filicia. “Don’t fall asleep in here. Come on, Kanata. Dry off and go to bed.” The girl arose from the water and stumbled through drying off, the water chilling enough to wake her into putting on her underclothes at least, carrying the rest with her out of the bathroom. I admitted I was pretty well relaxed and did likewise.

Sleep was calling and I drifted off into dreams.


Familiar ceiling. I was back in Chiba. So strange. I feel mostly rested, like I’d had a really long dream all night. So very strange. Cleaning my face and dressing for school, I chatted with niisan while we ate breakfast together. It was miso and eggs and rice I’d made quickly. Nothing special.

“So you were there, in Spain?” Hachiman asked me.

“It was some kind of post apocalyptic future, but the people were nice, and living sort of like the early 1900’s? Maybe 1920? There were a lot of old things there, and sometimes you could see the wasteland in the distance, where battles had been fought with tanks and nuclear weapons and particle cannons and lasers. There were ruins of skyscrapers out there, cities torn apart, but where we were it was all peaceful, a nice river flowed by, and we were just a group of girls kept away from the fighting for the peace of mind of all the men in uniform. I want to be mad about this but I can kind of see their point.”

“What do you mean?” asked niisan, ever the champion of equality of the sexes, at least as long as this meant he could be the stay at home house husband. Or so he said before. Ever since his drifting around began he’s gotten a lot more proactive and focused on life. I think all the travelling is doing him good.

“The war was vicious, and it killed a lot of people. You don’t send your fertile young women off to die after the cease fire is declared, or risk them to wartime accidents, when you need them to marry and raise kids and recover your population,” I explained. “Playing soldier and blowing bugles is pretty harmless. Clearing minefields is not.”

“Ah, I guess I see. You want a lift to school?” he asked me. I handed him his bento.

“You go ahead. I’m going to walk with Taishi,” I promised. He left. I locked up and met Taishi at the front gate of the house. We walked to school. I noticed a lot of speeding box trucks and some near misses with students who barely looked before halting in their attempt to cross the street. I swear I’m going to be traumatized by witnessing some cellphone zombie step in front of one of those trucks and get isekaied to some terrible fantasy world to fight the demon lord. I don’t need that before Algebra class, honestly.