Many of the rooms are empty now, whether from death or retreat. It's quieter. Less screams, less sobbing, sounds which were always worse than the artillery that now falls like rain. There's only a few orderlies left, no doctors, though. Anyone the brass thought was useful was evacuated long ago. The patients still here... most are too injured to move. And they'd never survive the forced march back to the Alliance stronghold at Mt. Bison. The brass said they were working on a plan to get them out, though. Probably some sort of stand to defend the town while the wounded are taken. A last stand. You'd volunteer in a stuffed heartbeat.
Mickey's room is on the second floor, and he looks up at you sheepishly as you enter.
"O-o-oh, hey, buddy. H-how's it going?"
"You shouldn't be out of bed," an obvious remark. "Your stuffing is getting out all over."
Mickey glanced down to the piles of fluff. "I-I'm OK. I'm ready to fight."
You sigh. Mickey's a good kid, brave. But like most of the Alliance fighters, he's never seen action before, and his training was woefully lacking. Given a gun and pointed to the front, just one more bison sent to charge the guns of the elite Republic forces. You tried to keep him safe, but with the way the war's going, he's lucky to be alive at all.
He motions weakly toward the window. "We retreating?"
You nod. "They're working on a plan to get you back to safety. All of you."
"G-good. Cause then I'll be ready to f-f-fight again. Free our p-people and all."
Your smile is meant to be comforting, but it comes out wrong. The pity that marks it is disheartening. "Sure. You'll be---"
A crash of artillery strikes somewhere nearby and the building shakes. Someone in the hall calls your name. You point firmly towards the bed. "Rest," you say. "That's an order."
As Mickey climbs back into bed, you head out into the hall. General Balrog awaits.
You snap off a sharp salute. "General, sir. Orders for the evacuation?"
He nods. "Indeed, Colonel. You're to join up with the column outside and head for the stronghold."
You glance back to Mickey's door. "What about the patients here?"
"We don't have the time or resources to get them out," he replies. "Tough stuffed crap, but that's war."
"Sir," you continue, "we have to do something! I volunteer to lead a defense while they're evac-ed. Two dozen men and I can---"
"We don't have two dozen men to spare! We don't even have ten, five or one." He turns to look out the window, surveying the fires and debris of what was once a great town. "You're a good man, Colonel, and your special operations experience has helped the Alliance to no end. But we can't risk anyone for the defense. Especially not you. Your orders are to move and you will follow them. Go outside, alone, and join the retreat. Dismissed."
Quietly, almost as a whisper: "You heartless monster."
Stiffly, as Balrog leaves. "You have your orders, Colonel."
And the artillery continues to fall outside.