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The Price Of A Mile

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Sarah watched the creature carefully, trying to decide what she wanted. Its fluffy white tail flicked back and forth as it waited for her to come to a decision. She wasn't sure what to decide on. It was not an easy thing to think of. Whatever her greatest wish was, it had to be worth risking her life for. Worth risking her life... Her face brightened.

The fluffy white creature caught on. "It looks like you've come to a decision. What is your wish, then?"

Sarah cleared her throat. "My father. He is fighting in the war. I want to be there with him. I want to fight beside him. So... so my wish is that I could go to fight beside him as a soldier." She looked down at the ground. "You can do that for me, right Kyubey?"

It nodded. "Yes, if that is your wish. Prepare for transportation, then."

Sarah blinked. "Transpo-"

...

"-rtation?"

In an instant, Sarah disappeared from her family's garden outside of London and found herself in some grayed landscape. Her little blue dress was gone, replaced by a brown combat uniform. Her blond hair was cut short and covered by a stiff helmet. Gone was the sound of birds chirping, replaced by a terrifying thunderous roar. The ground was shaking from impacts, the air screaming with voices and shrapnel.

Sarah ducked down and covered her head as bullets ripped up the ground around her. A man ran out of the dust and smoke and grabbed her, dragging her down into a trench. More bullets tore up the ground where she had just been, causing mud to splatter in her face.

The man shouted over the constant fire. "Pull yourself together!" He took a second look at the young face before him. "How old are you? And don't lie to me!"

Sarah didn't have the presence of mind or the will to lie. "Fifteen."

The man swore. "Bet you wish you hadn't lied on your papers now that you're here." It took her a moment, but she quickly came to the realization that he really thought she was a boy who had lied about his age to join the army. She nodded dumbly. He narrowed his eyes at her. "Where's your weapon?"

She started to get up to look out where she had first appeared, only for him to pull her back down as more shots ripped the ground right in front of her. As he ducked down, holding his helmet to his head, she became aware of her surroundings. There were other men, soldiers, lining the trench. They all looked scared and dirty, many of them holding their eyes closed. One man only a few feet from her was laying back against the other side of the trench, his eyes staring upward and his mouth gaping open.

Closing her eyes and looking away, Sarah felt herself nearing the point of crying. This was where her father was. He was somewhere in this living hell, hiding down in a trench, bullets flying over his head and people around him dying. He could be hurt himself, or even dead already.

Then it hit her. She didn't know what her father looked like. He had left for war years ago, and it had been so long she didn't even know what he looked like anymore. She had grown several years as well, so he might not know her either. With both covered in mud, wearing uniforms and huddled down in the trench, there seemed little hope now that they would find each other.

She looked up at the soldier who had saved her. "Excuse me, but I need to find a... Livingston? I'm not sure what rank he is, but I need to find him."

The man reached up and touched his helmet as a sort of makeshift greeting. "I'm Captain Livingston. What can I do for you, son?"

She lowered her eyes, suddenly unsure of what to say. It was him. He was knelt in the trenches right beside her and he didn't even know her. "I... I'm not your son. I'm your daughter."

He just stared at her for a moment, dumbfounded as his mind tried to understand, to comprehend, what she had said. He blinked, then fell back against the side of the trench, stunned. Gunfire ripped over their heads. Straightening, his eyes searched around him as if realizing where he was for the first time. His eyes landed on her. A mortar hit the ground nearby, sending dirt flying through the air. The sound from the impact seemed to shake him back to where he was.

"No... no, it..." He reached out and cupped his hands around her face, staring into her eyes. "Sarah..." She felt her eyes begin to tear up. "Sarah, why?"

"I wanted to be with you." She was crying. "I wanted to be with you, where you were. I didn't even know where you were, and I just wanted to be with you. I don't care where you are... because... wherever you are... that's where I'm home."

He pulled her into a tight hug. "Oh, Sarah..."

Before he could finish, an artillery shell landed in the trench near them. Several men disappeared in the explosion, blood and dirt flying through the air. He shielded his daughter from the falling debris, feeling her crying into his shoulder.

Sarah's little voice had never sounded so small and insignificant to her until now, whimpering under fire from some unseen enemy. "Who are they, Daddy? Why do they hate us?"

He shook his head. "Who are they, Sarah? They're fathers just like me, and sons and brothers, just fighting for some man they've never met. These men just want the fight to end, just like us. They all have little daughters they want to go back to. We fight because we're afraid. Not afraid of the men we are fighting, but afraid of the man who tells them to fight. Every day I remind myself that those men I am fighting all have little daughters waiting back home for them. How many fathers are out there, just waiting to go home? And so I ask myself... what is the price of a mile? No mile is worth one more little girl who will never see her father again."


More than two and a half months later, the battle finally ended on the tenth of November. Half a million men lay dead. The land was waste, destroyed by the fighting. Passchendaele had been captured.

Sarah lay on the ground, staring up at the sky, her soul gem clutched in her hand. No one living was anywhere to be seen but her and Erika. Holding her own soul gem, the dark-haired Magical Girl watched Sarah with tearing eyes. Not far off, Erika's father lay dead. Sarah's father had disappeared in the explosions. Two soul gems, black, began to crack.

Erika coughed, then smiled at Sarah through her tears. "Auf Wiedersehen, Sarah."

Sarah looked down from the sky. She smiled as well. "Goodbye, Erika."

Two soul gems, black, were broken. An angel came and took the two girls away.

"You don't have to suffer any more."