Raine, James best keep his wits about him, something tells me he's met his match in Alex. She could prove far more dangerous than the air Huns.
Oh Harry, I feel awful for poor Lazlo. The worse fate for any airman is to burn. I hope the stout fellow can recover quickly, but I fear it will be a long painful road for Big Red.
Wulfe, I knew that lion cub would be making an appearance soon. An excellent telling of this classic bit of history concerning N.124 Américaine.
Fullofit, it's no wonder Swany's feelings about the enemy have changed. Since coming to France he's lost two gunners that he'd grown very close with and come to depend on, as well as his good friend and fellow American Mark Jericho. Also, since the beginning of the Somme Offensive, over two-thirds of 70 Squadron's original 36 pilots and G/Os have either been killed or captured, with twelve of those in the last week alone, (an RFC record that no one would want to hold). Add to this the fact that Captain Swanson has been wounded three times himself and because of it he still must follow the health regimen to keep his headaches at bay, and must resort to the cane on occasion when his leg is hurting. Losing Chris simply was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back. The following may provide more insight as to where our young ace's head is at as of late.
After the marathon on the 15th Swany had been lying in his bed trying to fall asleep. Despite his body aching to do so his mind kept racing, preventing him from drifting off into slumber. A memory unexpectedly appeared:
He was sixteen, in a deep pine woods in northern Minnesota, working with his uncle, felling trees. The elder had gone back to the wagon at the trail-head to fetch their lunch. Swany had decided he would get his starting cuts made on the next tree that was to be dropped, and picking up his freshly dressed four-pound felling axe he headed towards the big pine. He hadn't taken two steps when he heard a loud crashing noise behind him. He spun round to see a sow black bear charging at him full tilt, it had to be 300 pounds if it were an ounce. There was no time to think, the monster had already covered half of the 100 feet or so between itself and the young woodsman in the time it had taken Swany to see it. In the next instant and operating purely on instinct, (just as the bear was), Swany swung the axe high above his head and brought it down with all the strength and speed his adrenaline-fueled muscles could muster. The crisp, heavy, razor-sharp blade caught the bear just at the back of the snout next to its left eye, splitting through the fur and thick bone and plunging deep into its brain. The speed and weight of the bear threw Swany backwards a good fifteen feet, slamming him into the tall pine, knocking the breath from his lungs. He dropped to the ground on all fours, gasping for air as he snapped his gaze back up, expecting to be eye-to-eye with his killer. Instead what he saw was the bear motionless on the ground directly in front of him, its front legs folded under its heavy body, eyes closed, tongue draped from the corner of its open mouth. The axe head was well buried in the bear's skull, the handle cracked clean off. A ribbon of blood oozed out. Swany got shakily to his feet, then collapsed back down from the fear now suddenly sweeping through him. He began to cry. It was this scene his uncle returned to brief moments later.
"My Godt", was all the elder said, then walked over and helped his shaken, weeping nephew to his feet, putting an arm across the young man's shoulder. A minute or so passed.
"Soooo - are ya cryin' becuss yer scared, or are ya cryin' becuss ya broke yer axe?"
Swany shook his head, wiped his eyes, and looked at his uncle. The man was grinning, while a mixed look of concern and relief lined his face. Swany smiled back, then let out a small laugh.
"Da axe - I'm cryin' about da axe."
"Goodt boy!" his uncle boomed. "Ve can fix da axe, but first ve got to skin and butcher dis bear. I'll go get da knifess - you come vit me diss time."
The Captain hadn't thought about that incident in a long while; at first it made him smile, then it made him deeply homesick. Here he was in France, fighting a war, for what exactly? Hell with the war, he was fighting an enemy just to keep himself alive - just like he'd done with that bear. And that's what his enemies were - animals. They were only out to kill you. So you'd better by god kill them first, as fast as you can, with every ounce of strength you have. And don't think about it either. You think about it and you're dead. You kill 'em on instinct, pure and simple.