Vignette:In Formation

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In Formation

Reichstag, Alvastadt, Imperial State of Alva
May 20th, 2008

he sight of thousands of soldiers marching in lockstep is certainly something.

The roar of jet engines permeates the entire city as they fly past the marching columns of soldiers. The parade marches on, led by the big brass of the band as they play jubilant tunes. In tow were the brilliant standards of each branch flying in the light breeze. The cadets of every major military school march on by just behind them in their bright parade uniforms, each one unique in its own way. Some wear fustanella; some don keffiyeh. Some look like they’ve come from the 1800s. The only thing that stays the same between all of them is the commands their officers shout and the rifles they carry.

The 50th anniversary of the May Putsch is a sight to behold. They’ve gone all-in with the works for this one; there’s no pyrotechnics to speak of, but the sheer amount of people involved in this is hard to even wrap her head around. The bass of the pounding drums amplifies each step every soldier takes, but it isn’t long until the footsteps of hundreds are replaced by the droning hum of engines and the creeping crackle of asphalt under tank tracks and road wheels.

Monsters of metal pass by her; they were modern war elephants. Tanks, artillery, anti-air platforms, armoured personnel carriers, and missile launchers drove past her with the same dull hum of motors. The cavalry of old followed behind their new jeep counterparts; their camelry brothers passed by not long after. They all carry themselves in the same way: upright, righteous, and orderly. The sight of women in formation never ceases to make heads turn. The drab khaki uniforms of yesteryear are nowhere to be seen now as more soldiers pace past her clad in newer camouflage and modern equipment; ballistic vests, helmets with night-vision goggles, and new guns. There’s no more wood and iron now, but plastic, polymer, and aluminum.

The navy passes by next; with each column is one generation of uniforms. There isn’t much change between the first few, but their modern uniforms are quite an eyecatcher on land. A wine-dark blue wave passes by her with pomp, contrasting wildly with the pale golden glow of the city. The air force makes another appearance in the skies; their showcase of planes awes the crowd beneath and around her. It’s quite a sight to see three jets braid smoke plumes of gold, green, and blue against the azure sky.

The biggest spectacle of the parade has come after quite the wait; all at once, there’s a uniform wave of uniformed soldiers stretching as far as her old eyes can see. It’s jaw-dropping to see tens of thousands of soldiers come to a halt in front of her. All she has to do now is step up to the podium and speak, so she does just that with shaky legs and trembling hands. It’s quite hard to comprehend where she's at right now and how she’s gotten herself here, but the script is right in front of her and that’s all that matters right now.

With a deep breath, she looks at the top of her speech.

“Men and women of the Reichswehr, it is an honour and a privilege to be your commander-in-chief.”

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