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The following is a work of fiction. Any statements regarding any person, place, or other entity (real or imaginary) is the sole responibility of the author of this work of fiction. Fan Works Inc. takes no responsibility for the content of user submitted stories. All stories based on real people are works of fiction and do not necessarily reflect on the nature of the individuals featured. All stories based on other copyrighted works are written with authors knowing that these works violate copyright laws.

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For But a Moment
By TWH

 

For but a moment...

A Shadow Hearts Fanfiction

---

Et Circa: December 1914

Lieutenant Karin Koenig sighed wearily against the muddy trench. It had been like this for.... she
had forgotten how long ago this war started. Wasn't it only six months ago? How come it seemed
several times as long?

All that started was a shot that took the life of Franz Ferdinand. Then alliances were formed for
reasons beyond her scope of understanding. The politics that eventually made the mandatory buildup
of the Imperial German military and her eventual commission.

Wilhelm Koenig had to pull the few strings he had left in order to allow her entry into the army.
Even then, there was a lot of opposition to allowing a woman into the Imperial German Army.
However, what he did not expect was her success of proving every man, which had opposed her, wrong
and earn the rank of Lieutenant.

She chose the army as a career for some hopes of restoring the great honor that her family once
held. However, she had a feeling no matter how hard she would try, the stigma would follow her
family's name. Fallen Nobility. And no matter what family it was that fell, the fate of all was
the same. The men would resort to stealing and the women prostitution.

It was a fate Karin did her best to avoid. She wanted to say that this route was safer, however the
consistent barrage of mortar, gas, and bullets belied that assertion. She was prepared for another
tremor from a mortar barrage, but it never came. For that she was grateful as the last rays of the
sun slowly faded.

"Sir," Sergeant Johan Trier asked wearily, "I just got word from the Major: Our watch is nearly
over. We'll be able to take our rest after we get something to eat."

She nodded in thanks and returned to her musings while taking an occasional look through the barbed
wire fences and into No-Man's Land. The stench of rotting corpses assaulted her nose and it
reminded her of the naivet? she once had of glorious military service. Less than a few hundred
meters to the west of their position was the English and the French.

When was the last time their position had moved? She looked back east to some of the older trenches
that had once been the front. Now, it seemed like the Imperial Army was simply inching its way
forward to victory instead of marching forward like the great force of nature she once thought it
was.

Morale was at an all time low and with it being Christmas, the full realization that this wretched
war would not end hit the troops harder than the upper echelons of command expected. She, like the
rest of the troops in her squad, wanted to spend the holidays with their families. However, for
reasons none of them could fathom, they were away fighting a war with no semblance of dignity.
Where were the throes of patriotism for one's homeland? Where was the true danger of the enemy
threatening the very fabric of one's way of life? Nowhere!

"Lieutenant Koenig, Lieutenant Ibsen reporting to relieve you and your men of your watch," a taller
brown haired solider said suddenly, breaking her from her reprieve.

She hastily stood up and saluted her compatriot. There was no mistake of the disdain he held for
her in his eyes. However, in front of her men, he would not make such a statement. For the past
year, she had fought tooth and nail to achieve the trust she now held with her squad and they would
not stand to hear their superior officer ridiculed if they couldn't help it.

She walked past him with her men behind her and towards the rear trenches as fast as their feet
could take them. She didn't want to deal with the chauvinism right now. If her hunch was correct,
she should be receiving a letter from her grandmother any day now. One of the few comforts she
could relish, aside from the Wagner arias, was the correspondence with what few family members she
had left. Uncles, cousins, and siblings were conscripted into various branches of the service with
no means of communication due to the increasing paranoia of spies infiltrating.

Her grandmother, a humble seamstress that lived in a modest cottage in Munich, had been her only
link to reality during the first bloody months of the war. And though her grandmother had
occasionally spoke about her objections to her military career, she was willing to become a safe
haven for Karin should the need arise.

Karin thanked the heavens for her grandmother's heart and hoped that the war would be over soon
enough to pick up the pieces of the life she once knew before the military build-up.

Reaching the central command of the Western Front, she dispersed her men to their food and business
for the little rest they would have. As for herself, the anxiety of receiving no letter at all
destroyed her appetite. She would pay for her negligence later, but she couldn't care less as she
went to the makeshift office where the COs worked.

Entering the office, she looked to the company clerk typing furiously a report meant for the
colonel.

"Private, has the mail arrived?"

Without a look or glance, he said casually, "No mail has arrived for you, Lieutenant Koenig. We
just got word that the mail from Munich's going to arrive late."

Resisting the urge to strike the private on the back of the head with the butt of her sword, she
stomped out of the office and to the edge of the camp. She needed something to clear her mind and
work out her frustration. And the dummies meant for target practice were more than adequate for her
anger.

---

One slash downward, a second slash upward, another slash across the collarbone to the hip, and with
a quick spin enabled her to run her sword completely through the dummy's chest.

Night had long since fallen and the snow was falling upon her uniform. To her relief, all the
movement prevented the snow from gathering. A few hours with her sword and handgun always seemed to
calm her down, though a few years ago, she would have shuddered to hear herself act this way.

With a quick change of hands, she swung her heel into the head of the dummy, tossing it off the post
and into the air, using her sword as a makeshift pedestal. Moving quickly, she drew her sword from
the ground and stabbed the dummy just as it was about to hit the floor. True, such swordplay would
hardly be as effective in real combat, but it certainly was a spectacle to perform.

With a heavy sigh, she gathered the dummy and placed it back by the post it once stood on. By now,
the mess tent was most likely closed and all the food packed up for the night. She considered going
back to her tent and going to sleep when she noticed Johan at the edge, waiting for her with a tray
of dried sausage and cheese.

"Lieutenant, I thought you may have been hungry, so I persuaded the cook to keep something for
you."

The scowl she normally carried in the field slowly melted to one of tired resignation. Taking the
tray, she thanked the Sergeant and sat on a nearby log. Army rations were nothing to write home
about, but they were hardly the swill that some of the enemy troops had to eat.

"If I may be so bold, sir, you've been more aloof and angry than usual."

Sipping from a water canteen, she considered his words carefully before nodding. "Is it that
obvious?"

The older soldier nodded once. "If it's any consolation, Lieutenant, most of us feel no different.
We want to be fighting the good fight instead wasting away in a trench. Every day, I can tell
Olaf's been praying to get us transferred away from the fighting to somewhere safe. I've been
considering joining him in his prayers."

Karin only stared to the dark forest just past the borders of the range. He had just voiced the
same complaint she and other officers have been saying for the past four months. If this had spread
to the enlisted, then things were not going as well back home as she thought. Regardless, she could
not but help and agree with him.

"Pointless... it just seems so pointless," she whispered to no one. She quickly squelched the
thought and finished off her meal. "Pointless as it may be, we have to see this to the end," she
continued more audibly.

"When do you suppose the end will be? To this war, I mean?" he asked, rubbing his hands together to
generate some warmth.

"Who knows... if the generals can't see an end to this, what chance do we have?"

"Then it's a good chance my dear Katja and I will be spending another Christmas apart."

"Weren't you stationed at Mannheim before you got assigned to my unit?"

"Yes. But my wife and I were in T?bingen before I got transferred. And what about yourself? Have
you a husband waiting for you at home?" he added with a wry smile.

She matched his smile with a non-serious scowl, "Of course. My non-existent husband tends to the
children we never had, waiting for me anxiously every night, praying to God above for my safe
return."

Johann's smile didn't falter as he replied, "I'm no stranger to sarcasm, Frau Koenig."

"All I have waiting for my is my grandmother and parents. I'm not sure whatever became of my
brother and cousins. And... I keep waiting for word back home, but none ever comes..."

Johan nodded in understanding. "It must not be easy."

She stood up, feeling the conversation turning stale. "No. It's not. And I think it'd be best if
we were to get some rest before our shift comes up again."

She was about to leave the range when her subordinate's voice stopped her. "While the truce is up,
the rest of the men and I were wondering if you'd join us for a drink. We were able to acquire a
bottle of 1894 vintage from Berlin. We wouldn't think of drinking it without our superior
officer."

She turned back to Johan, wondering if this was just some cruel joke. However, in the year she had
served with him, he had never led her wrong. Maybe it was because she reminded him of his wife back
in T?bingen or some other reason. Whatever it was, his respect of her earned the trust of someone
she so desperately needed. And so, she accepted his invitation and went back to the mess tent to
return the tray.

---

The snow was still falling on the organized set of tents in the living quarters as Karin made her
way to her company's part of the area. Sure enough, her men were around a fire, a few keeping their
hands warm near the flames, a few others mesmerized by it, and all saying nothing to revel in the
comfortable silence of each other's company.

"Sir," one of the privates said before standing up and saluting. The others followed suit and she
returned the gesture, letting them go at ease.

"We didn't think you'd come," another private said, elated at her presence.

She gripped her hands together at the small of her back, "I was feeling a little too high strung and
got sick of the isolation of my tent."

The men smiled to her. Perhaps it was a bit of a morale boost to them to know that their commander
was quite similar to themselves. However, they still kept a respectable distance as she took a seat
beside Johan.

The private that held the wine soon passed around classes to the small group of soldiers and to his
commanding officer. When the glasses were passed, the private walked up to Karin, opened the
bottle, and poured the wine three quarters full.

As he started to pour the wine for the others, he asked casually, "What should we toast first,
sir?"

Karin tried to raise her own spirits, but the cold was a greater damper on her mood than she
realized. Staring at the blood red liquid in her glass, she was at a loss as for what the company
should toast to. With the cold, a scowl formed on her lips.

"How about the bestiality that is this war? Or the idiocy of those that started it?"

The cheerful atmosphere slowly faded and the men understood her statement and predicament. However,
it would take more than that for it to dampen their mood as the courageous private spoke, "I was
thinking a bit more along the lines of more pleasant things, sir. No disrespect intended."

Looking up, she realized that she had done a great disservice to her men. Sighing, she stood up and
held the glass up to the flame, watching her men follow suit. They were in the same boat as she was
and she had no right to make things any worse. These men were her responsibility. And she needed
to make sure they were taken care of.

With a change of thought, she raised the glass high and said, with a fond reminiscence of her
childhood, "To our loved ones. May we be with them again by this time next year."

The smiles on Karin's subordinates' faces returned and they clinked their glasses to one another
before taking a small sip from their wine.

"To our homeland. May she stand strong in the face of all adversity," Johan said raising his own
glass. The men heartily agreed and took another sip.

There was another silence for a moment before another private, Olaf, spoke up. "To our Lord. May
His birth help us remember the reason why this truce is here."

Again, there was approval and more sipping of wine. They were almost out of their drink when the
private that brought out the wine in the first place aimed his glass at Karin. "To Frau Koenig.
May she be protected by God's own hand and led to glory. Our commanding officer deserves no less."

Karin was stunned when she saw all the men raise their voices in agreement and finish the last of
the rare wine. She had always assumed that her men had secretly resented being led by a woman.
Now, they were toasting to her and her dreams. It seemed far too good to be true, but it was.

She wanted to bawl and act half her age, but her joy had completely swallowed up any sorrow that
would have brought tears to her azure colored eyes. She had believed that there was nothing left to
believe in concerning mankind. And yet, she was proven wrong.

Perhaps, it would be best to return that favor.

Finishing off the last of her own wine, she handed back the glass to the private before
straightening her uniform and saying, "I have an idea and all those who wish to join me are
invited."

---

With a small bag in her arms, she walked up the stairs where the path to No-Man's Land led. The
snow was still falling and the silence was thick. It was almost impossible to believe that a war
was going on. With every step in the snow, she could feel the anxiety of her men grow for what they
were about to do.

With a silent prayer in her heart, she started to sing;

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schl?ft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

The men behind her caught on and began to sing as well. It was a feeling of peace she had not known
for so long.

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Halleluja,
T?nt es laut von fern und nah:
Christ, der Retter ist da!
Christ, der Retter ist da!

Looking through the falling snow, she noticed the French and English soldiers stepping out of their
trenches and singing the same song in their native tongues. It was one of the most beautiful sights
she had ever seen. There was not hatred. There was no malice in their voices.

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
Lieb' aus deinem g?ttlichen Mund,
Da uns schl?gt die rettende Stund'.
Christ, in deiner Geburt!
Christ, in deiner Geburt!

She and her men began the song from the first verse and were soon joined in a small makeshift chorus
in three separate languages. Too soon the song had ended and she stood back and watched as her men
marched forward and started swapping small creature comforts they had brought with them from home.

To her surprise, an English Captain marched forward and offered her a small box of French
chocolates. With a smile, she opened the small bag of sausages for the starved Captain. Not being
able to speak German, the English captain bowed and said thanks as best he could. She didn't need
any further explanation as she accepted the chocolates and stepped aside for more of her countrymen
to meet and fraternize with the 'enemy'.

Soon, the sounds of laughter filled the air as some men, discovering they had once worked side by
side in England, had started a football game, using a bundled up piece of cloth. Despite the cold
weather, Karin felt warmer than she had ever been that day.

She watched in amusement as the men from both sides of the teams often slipped in the snow. Other
sights were a bit more somber as some of her countrymen gathered the bodies of their friends,
assisted by French soldiers, to take them back to their side so they could be buried respectfully.

Though the general atmosphere was a good one, Karin knew in her heart of hearts that it would not
last. So, she resolved herself to make it last as long as possible. Separating herself form her
men, she moved to a quieter part of No-Man's Land and listened to the silence.

Looking up, she saw but a few stars through the clouds above and relished in the comfortable
silence. In fact, she didn't even mind the snow getting into her rich red hair.

In years of war, she mused, there were only brief moments of peace. It was those moments that gave
her hope this nightmare would end. It did not seem likely, but she would not give up.

Looking back down, she cupped her hands in the snow and felt its softness. Like snow, the peace
would soon fade into nothing.

But not now.

For but a moment... it would remain.

The End.

All things belong to Azure and Midway.

This story was inspired by one of my first memories of Christmas. The Christmas Truce at the
Western Front has always been my favorite tale and it's the first thing that comes to mind when I
think of the holiday.

As for the story itself, it takes place about six months or so before the game actually starts. By
this time, Yuri's most likely somewhere in France sulking after experiencing the end of the first
game. For those who haven't experienced this game, I advise you do to so. It's worth the price of
admission.

 

The preceeding was a work of fiction. Any statements regarding any person, place, or other entity (real or imaginary) is the sole responibility of the author of this work of fiction. Fan Works Inc. takes no responsibility for the content of user submitted stories. All stories based on real people are works of fiction and do not necessarily reflect on the nature of the individuals featured. All stories based on other copyrighted works are written with authors knowing that these works violate copyright laws.

Please see the Terms of Service for more information.

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