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Red Crosshairs


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#1
scottishace

scottishace

    Glasgow Rangers Champions Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh

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Set in the real world: please review.

I think this might be my 'farewell' fanfic project, though. I just don't get any pleasure out of writing any more, although I'll work on the fics I've got on my plate until I decide to finish up.

Red Crosshairs

Prologue
0800 Hours. First of February, 2020.
Northern France.



It was the crackle of distant gunfire. Distant automatic gunfire. There was no mistaking it. The repeated cracks, the super-sonic squeals and booms, and the fleshy thump as a tumbling round buried itself in the body of a man, a woman, maybe even a child.

And then there are the screams. Not a deep, annoyed roar. It’s much higher, much more penetrating than that. The scream of a dying person is so shrill, so basic, and so horrible that it curdles your blood in a way that nothing else can.

It’s not the killing of people that gets to me.

It’s the screams that come along with it. The helpless begging, the gasps, the pleading, the attempts at bribery, even the promises of revenge. All are futile. Because you can’t turn back. Because once you’ve shot someone, someone who you were either meant to kill, or had to kill, you don’t get down and help them.


The rain lashed down from above, mingling with the sound of the automatic weaponry. I gritted my teeth and shifted uncomfortably. My camouflage fatigues were soaked, and seemed incredibly heavy. My belt kit was also soaked, but I hoped its waterproof pouches would keep my equipment dry. My heavy backpack, my ‘bergen’, lay just off to my right, shielded from bullets in the muddy outcropping. My breathing was laboured and loud, but I hardly noticed. The three other members of my fireteam lay prone to either side of me.

My hands, calloused and blistered, were closed tightly around the handgrips of my assault rifle, the M8. It was a reliable piece of kit. Also, and most importantly, it was extremely Multirole. I could easily convert it from automatic/semi-automatic assault rifle, to a grenade launcher, LMG (light-machine gun), sniper rifle, carbine, or, indeed, virtually any other configuration I had the add-on for.

The rifle was unique looking, looking like something that should’ve been invented next century. It fired the 5.56mm wide NATO round from a thirty-round curved magazine. It had a built in scope with 2x, 4x, and 6x magnification, as well as iron sights for close-range aiming. It’d originally been designed for use by the American Army but they had dropped it in exchange for a more basic, cheaper weapon, and Britain had picked up the programme in 2008 to replace the aging SA80s in use at the time.

The rain battered down on us, and mucky water pooled at my feet, on the bottom of the small gully. A ridge of mud sat atop the gully, offering cover in case any of the French soldiers a hundred metres ahead opened fire.

Britain had been at war with France, Germany, and Spain for four years now. The war had resulted in the break-up of NATO, and the occupation of Italy and Poland. America, suffering from the economic crisis that was a direct result of the second Wall Street Crash, couldn’t help. The only allies Britain had came from Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, all of whom had sent large fractions of their armies to Britain. The war had begun when large deposits of platinum and oil were discovered in the British Channel Islands and Gibraltar. The French and Spanish had once owned the former and latter, respectively, and had attempted to reclaim the islands through negotiations. But Britain was adamant that they would not surrender the islands, so, after promising to share the oil and platinum with Germany, France had declared war on Britain. Spain and Germany joined France, and the trio had withdrawn from the European Union, the failing Northern Alliance Treaty Organisation (NATO), and the corrupt United Nations. Soon, after Italy and Poland challenged Germany and offered aid to Britain, the EU collapsed completely, and a joint force of Spaniards and French soldiers conquered Italy and Poland in less than two months. At that time, the Wall Street stock market collapsed, and America withdrew from international affairs. NATO, without the support of its three biggest allies (America, Britain, and France) collapsed. Men, women, and even teenagers were drafted into the British Army, Royal Air Force, and the Royal Navy. I’d been drafted into the army when I was just eighteen. I was in my second year at Glasgow University, back home in Scotland, studying the various subjects needed to join either the Royal Air Force as a fighter pilot, or the Army as an officer. I didn’t get the chance for either; I was drafted before I finished university, and ended up as a Royal Marine private, picked to join the Marine commando force instead of the infantry because I was tall, broad-shouldered, and well-muscled, which were all qualities that helped a commando.

I wasn’t operating the way that I’d been trained to, and that really irritated me. My four-man fireteam were operating like common infantry. The wide gully we were stationed in was almost a kilometre across, and filled with approximately five hundred normal infantrymen. Then, there was us. My squad and I had no specific objective; we were just to sit here and repel any enemy advances until a tank division came up behind us and repelled the French forces, who were also hiding in a gully about fifty metres ahead of us, and then we could advance. It reminded me of old World War I-style trench warfare, only back then we’d been fighting with the French instead of against them.

The easiest way to clear out the French positions ahead of us would’ve been an air strike, but the RAF was too bogged down with the several major engagements that were ongoing in Southern Germany.

I peeked up over the mud, looking ahead. The flat ground between the two gullies was a blur of green and brown, waterlogged grass and mud. We would definitely need a tank-division to clear out the French resistance; charging at the enemy gully would result in the death of hundreds of our soldiers.

The French were dug-in well; I counted fifteen GPMG (general-purpose machine guns) emplacements protruding out from their gully. Also, I could see several RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) launchers, leaning against the side of the French gully, their front ends sticking a foot or so above the lip of the gully. That was a concern; unless it was Main Battle Tanks coming to help us, the RPGs would wreak havoc on the armoured support.

I slid back into the gully, frowning. I shifted uncomfortably, and the M8 magazines in my webbing clinked against each other. Lewis Stewart, my closest friend and Sergeant of my squad, looked up. He was about twenty-nine, with dark hair which was usually messy but was now plastered to his head by the rain, and brooding dark eyes.

“What is it?” he asked sharply. His hand slipped absent-mindedly to his rifle.

“RPGs,” I trailed my fingers thoughtfully along my five o’clock shadow. “Any ideas on what kind of armoured vehicles are coming along to back us up?” I asked.

He nodded slowly. “APCs and light tanks,” he grunted and shifted. “We’re going to need to clear that gully,” he spoke the obvious.

Lee Grey, the youngest member of the squad, turned around and smiled nervously. “Really? Do you know how many GPMG positions they’ve got?” he ran a hand nervously through his dark crew-cut, but tried to maintain an illusion of calm. I grinned a little; Lee had come into the army much like I had, with a crew-cut, attitude, and bravado. After a few months, though, he’d soon end up like the rest of the squad; seasoned soldiers.

“At ease Private,” I laughed. “The Sergeant hasn’t lost it yet. He’s not quite thirty,” Lewis frowned; he was always worried about appearing old, so, being his best friend, I dutifully embarrassed him and mocked him.

The ping of a bullet impacting against dirt jerked me out of my laughing mood. Dirt, kicked up from the bullet as it embedded itself in the ridge of the gully, sprayed all over me. I grabbed my rifle and flung myself against the side of the gully, peering over the edge and looking down my rifle’s scope. I got a visual of the enemy shooters; four French infantrymen, spraying fire from their FAMAS assault rifles. I took aim at the one who’d just reloaded; he’d be the one who stayed out of cover for the longest. I held my breath, and steadied my weapon. I aimed at him, counted to three, and fired. My gun crackled and kicked slightly in my hands as two 5.56 rounds were fired in less than a tenth of a second. The bullets shot forward, moving at almost a mile per second and embedded themselves in the Frenchman’s head. The man was hit soundlessly, and his rifle dropped from his hands. He toppled to the ground, forehead squirting crimson gore form the two round holes in his skull. A single report came from my left, and another Frenchman dropped as Lee’s shot hit him in the throat.

The other two Frenchmen dropped into the safety of their gully. Adrenaline thundered through my veins, making me jumpy with fear, but training and experience guided my hands. I grabbed a fragmentation grenade from my webbing, pulling the pin from the circular explosive, and lobbed it towards the enemy position. I growled in frustration as the grenade fell just short of the enemy position and exploded harmlessly.

Well, I thought, feeling both terrified and excited. It’s time to kick the tires and light the fires!

Edited by scottishace, 16 February 2008 - 04:10 PM.

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#2
Firegal

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Nice start! Lots of detail. I look forward to reading more of it. :)
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#3
Red_9

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I'm kind of in the same boat as you, SA. I really don't get the kick out of writing I used to. Maybe I'll just do what you did: write a farewell fic and just end it.

Chopping off a story mid-plot isn't easy, but we've gotta do what we've gotta do.

AS for this story, I liked it. Seeing as it's a lazy Saturday afternoon, this little chapter made my laziness worthwhile.
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#4
scottishace

scottishace

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I've still got to introduce the fourth member of the fireteam, but that'll be dealt with in the next chapter. Here we go.

I

0810 Hours. First of February, 2020. Northern France.

  I gripped my rifle tighter and shot a look down the trench. A few soldiers were leaping up and exchanging fire with the Frogs (French), but most were still waiting in cover, checking their weapons before exposing themselves to incoming attacks. The commander of the battalion, a Brigadier, was crouching calmly in cover, smoking a long cigar casually. The grey smoke that twisted out from the glowing tip of the cigar rose into the air lazily, and was distilled by a breeze. The damn officer never even paid more attention than a quick, bored glance when a soldier who looked only about eighteen took a bullet to the chest and fell right in front of him, screaming and clutching at the crimson bullet hole where his right lung was. The Brigadier simply tapped some ash out of the end of his cigar and turned to his second in command, a Captain called Smith. Smith was a good man; one of the small group of men who'd been sent by cash-strapped America to aid Britain. Smith looked livid; his face was scarlet and he was grinding his teeth as the Brigadier lazily gave orders, taking long pauses to puff at his cigar whilst men died on all sides.



  Smith nodded as the Brigadier finally finished with his orders; the movement looked like it caused the American pain. I couldn't blame him. I would hate to have to relay the Brigadier's dangerous orders to soldiers who would be dying en masse in a few minutes.



  Smith roared down the trench, "All RPG squads; hit the enemy trenches! Now!"



  A bullet whistled over my head, striking a tall sergeant in the throat as he tried to move to a different position. The man went limp instantly and fell, like a rag-doll, arms flailing. His fingers sprang open, sending his rifle tumbling into the dirt. His eyes were wide and stared, with shock and awe, at something no living man could see. He slammed into the back wall of the trench, dislodging a lot of dirt; the brown particles toppled to the ground like rain, as the Sergeant finally collapsed in a heap, mouth half-open in a stunned, but silenced scream. I wrenched my eyes away from the Sergeant, away from the pool of ruby blood surrounding his lifeless body, and peeked over the top of the trench. The Frogs were doing worse, I noted with a hint of malicious satisfaction. Three of their GPMG positions had fallen silent, although the others were still spraying a hail of death from their barrels. The entire Frog force, more or less equal to ours at the number of five hundred, looked like they'd lost about fifty men.



  A Frog suddenly appeared from behind cover, hoisting a large metal tube with sights and a trigger onto his shoulder. I growled; the man was aiming an RPG (rocket launcher).



  I swung my rifle around, gazing down the scope, relying on instinct, and acting on reflex. I found the Frenchman in my sights, aiming for the interior of his mouth, which was open in a triumphant laugh. I pulled the trigger, sending a double-tap of bullets his way. The bullets punched a perfect hole through the rear of the man's mouth, severing the man's spine and nerve centre.



  But more Frogs were firing RPGs; great metal rockets, trailing gold flames flecked with deep crimson and black, thick plumes of smoke shot towards the British trench. A few of the rockets were blasted apart in mid-air by stray bullets, but most of the rockets got through. Barely fifty metres to my right, a group of fifteen men who'd been alive and well just an instant ago, were engulfed in a great fireball that blossomed like some sort of deadly, poisonous flower. I continued to take aim at many of the enemies, holding down the trigger on my rifle for just long enough to squeeze off two bullets before selecting a new target.



  A bloodcurdling scream shot down the gully as I dropped into cover to reload. I instinctively shot a glance down the gully towards the shriek, dropping my unloaded rifle and pulling out the Walther P99 pistol I carried as a backup. But my worst fear hadn't come to pass; French aircraft weren't swooping overhead and raining bombs and napalm down on our position. But what I was seeing was almost as bad. The gully itself was on a very shallow slope, and, trickling slowly but surely down the slope, was a thick, red river of blood. The putrid stench filled my nostrils, mingling with the smell of sweat, smoke and cordite, gagging me. I felt hot, stinging bile rising in my throat; I did the best to resist it, but I couldn't. I threw up, coughing and hacking as fluid flew from my nose and mouth; I'd seen a lot of gore, a lot of deaths, maiming, and injuries, but a river of blood was too much even for me.



  Another RPG explosion, so close that I felt and saw shards of smoking, white-hot shrapnel shoot past my nose. The boom of the explosion shook me back to the all too grim firefight going on all around me.



  I poked my head out of cover, gasping for air, trying to escape from the smell of bile and blood. I scanned the muddy wasteland between the Frogs and my fireteam, only to see what every military commander dreads.



  Frenchmen, at least two hundred of them, were clambering out from their gully under the covering fire of GPMGs and another hail of RPGs. They raced forward, slipping on the wet ground, succumbing to heavy fire from British forces. But they still kept advancing, brandishing FAMAS assault rifles with bayonets attached to the front, taking out their own fair share of British troops.



  Some of the French stepped into deep, water-logged holes created by earlier bomb blasts and RPG strikes. Under the weight of their heavy gear, they were dragged, flailing, screaming, kicking, struggling, crying and sobbing, under the ominous, murky brown water to their cold, lonely, painful deaths. The wet, dying grass on that wasteland was covered in blood and severed limbs. The French continued to advance, sprinting towards the British trench, hollering curses. More of their allies leapt out of the enemy gully, rushing after the initial force.



  I knew that the French would reach our trench before we could stop them. So I quickly dropped into cover, slung my M8 into its shoulder sling, and strapped it to my back. I then pulled out my P99, which was loaded with a sixteen round nine millimetre magazine, and stood up. I knew my M8 would be of no use in close-quarters combat; it was too large, and it was so powerful that if I shot a Frog at close range in the trench the bullet would probably rip right through the Frenchman and kill one of my own comrades.



  I held my P99 in my right hand, and whipped out my eight inch long Commando Knife with my left. A second after that, the Frogs had reached the lip of the gully and were leaping down on the British soldiers below, filling me with terror as adrenaline started to course through my veins, making me feel light-headed and weak-kneed. But I kept my cool, used the fear as motivation, and attacked.



  I swung my knife up into a short, stout, bearded Frenchman who'd been jumping down at me. The knife stabbed through the soft flesh in the man's throat; he started to thrash and mumble as blood erupted from his neck and trickled from his mouth, sliding onto my knife and hand. I pulled the knife out of the Frog's neck, and the convulsing soldier dropped to the ground, dying. I shot two Frenchmen, and then felt a fist connect with my cheek. I stumbled backwards, my view spinning, my head swimming, and my pistol falling from my hands into the mud…



  I could see the blurred shapes of the ongoing battle as the Frenchman who'd punched me raised his rifle, ready to drive his bayonet deep into my stomach. But my survival instinct kicked in just at the last second and I thrust my right hand forward, palm open.



  I felt pain tingle up my wrist as my hand hit the Frog's magazine. But I held my hand there, stopping the Frog from continuing his thrust with his rifle bayonet. The Frenchman screamed in anguish, gnashing his teeth and giving me an evil, loathing leer. He swung his rifle back for a renewed thrust, but I launched myself forward, using my pain wracked body to push the Frenchman off balance. I used my free hand to clamp down on the Frenchman's wrist, forcing his hand and rifle away to the side. I jammed my knee into the man's gut, and kept it there. The Frenchman couldn't move as I swung my knife back, ready to stab him through the eye. But I was thrown off at the last second; a French corpse, felled by a British private, fell against me, throwing my stab off target. My knife missed the man's head, but drove through his ear, pinning the floppy piece of skin and cartilage against the gully's wall. The man screamed as I jerked the knife violently, ripping his ear off. I gave a casual flick of my knife to remove the ear, and tried to stab again. But the Frenchman, given incredible strength by his pain and terror, scrambled to the side. He was out from under my knee, but I was still clutching his right wrist. I swung my knife down twice in quick succession, cutting through flesh, tendons and bone. The Frog's arm and upper quarter of his forearm fell away, as did the Frenchman; he'd fainted. I gave his head a good kick to make sure he was out, and moved off into the fray after grabbing my P99, feeling extremely sickened about how violent and cruel I'd been with the man; he may have been the enemy, but he was still a real person, with a life, maybe a family, and I'd just maimed him. Although, it'd probably been a stroke of fortune that he'd attacked me; if he'd attacked a few of the more brutal soldiers, he'd have been shot as soon as he'd fainted. So, I continued to advance, felling Frenchmen with my gun.



  I waded through the blood, the screams, the bangs and the cries. My P99's barrel, hot from repeated firings, hissed and emitted steam as rain pelted down onto the metal. My knife, guided by my hand, slashed and stabbed as I ripped through the Frogs. Corpses were piling up, like foreboding walls; their lifeless, almost accusing eyes stared sightlessly at me. I shuddered as I caught sight of the eyes.



  A Frog leapt towards me, bringing his pistol up to fire. I slashed wildly with my knife, and the Frog jumped back, the silver and crimson blade whipping past his throat, missing by mere millimetres. His aiming was thrown out of line, and I used the instant of pause and confusion to fire off a round at the Frog. He took the hit in the leg, just at his kneecap. There was a horrific crack and smashing sound, and then splinters of white bone and crimson pieces of flesh started to rip through his flesh, like fragmentation from a grenade. The Frog started to scream incoherently, sobbing as he fell to the ground into the blood, clutching his shattered leg and crying hysterically. I stepped over his pain-wracked form, feeling a pang of guilt; he'd probably end up drowning in the blood or suffocating under corpses. But there was nothing I could do. That was my attitude to war. Nothing I could do.



  The attitude that is the bane of humanity.



  I pulled the trigger of my P99 as I targeted a rapidly advancing Frenchman who was swinging a ferocious looking, foot long knife. The black pistol clicked ominously in my hand; my magazine was empty. And I had no time to reload. The Frog was almost on me, his eyes wide and filled with incandescent rage. The wicked looking knife he clutched would plunge into my guts in just a few seconds.



  I threw my pistol at him; the Frog merely ducked, not even slowing down. But he was off balance, so I swung my leg out with a shout. He twisted to the side, stumbling and banging into the side of the gully as he scrambled into a dodge. I whirled to face him as he swung that vicious blade of his at me. I shouted in pain as the cruel, sharp blade ripped through my webbing and chest fatigues, cutting into my skin and dragging a long, crescent-shaped gash in my chest. The pain was incredible; it seemed to grow, like a parasite, grabbing my chest in its killer grip. But the cut wasn't deep, and failed to cut anything vital to my continued living, so I flung myself forward at the Frenchman in a wild attacking frenzy.



  The Frog beat me back with a vicious blow to my solar plexus. I let out a 'whump' sound as the air was blasted from my lungs, and stumbled backwards. The enemy leered nastily at me, and advanced like a predator. He curled his hands so that they looked like dirty, blood-stained talons. His nails were long, jagged-looking, and dirty. He swung them down, clawing at my bleeding wound and succeeding in ripping off a piece of my flesh. I screamed and fell back onto the wall of the gully, sliding into a crouch. The Frenchman shouted an order to two of his allies, who nodded and advanced. I was powerless to resist; they seized my arms and dragged me into a standing position, ignorant of the carnage going on around them.



  I realised with a horrible, final certainty, that I was about to join the ever-higher pile of corpses in the trench. My shoulders sagged in defeat; I felt cold, alone, terrified, as the lead Frenchman, the one who'd taken the chunk out of me, raised his knife. I felt like a sacrifice at an Aztec altar. But then, a new sensation filled my body.



  My vision suddenly seemed to turn red-hued. I wondered if my body was preparing for death. My mind became clear, with a single purpose. To survive. I realised my head had fallen forward. I brought it up, straight and proud. I stared into the Frenchman's mad, wide eyes, and what he saw in my eyes, must have scared him and shocked him. He faltered, looking confused and a little bit scared. The knife lowered a fraction, and then I felt a fire ignite inside my chest, engulfing my very bones in its boiling inferno of fury. I let out a strangled cry of fury, and grinned maliciously at the Frenchman, who looked increasingly more afraid. I knew that my eyes held a promise of death to him.



  And I always kept my promises.



  I launched my body forward with renewed strength. The Frenchmen who'd been pinning my arms let out gasps of surprise as I bodily jerked them forward with me. The lead Frenchman froze, completely petrified, as I swung my left arm, along with the Frenchman clinging to it, forward. My knife entered the Frog's belly, and I dragged it upwards in a zigzagging pattern like a rake, cutting through his intestines, his stomach, his liver, his ribs, his lungs and his heart. His hands came up and gripped the great, lightning bolt-like cut in surprise, and then he crumpled to the ground.



  The other Frogs let go of my arms, falling to the ground. In five seconds, they were both dead. I just stood there, oblivious to the mêlée, panting and feeling my superhuman anger ebb slowly away to be replaced by a feeling of horror and disgust. I'd become an animal. An animal fighting for my country, my friends, my family, for freedom, but an animal nonetheless. My anger eventually subsided completely, and I realised that I hadn't been shot, which was surprising considering how intense the battle had been five minutes ago. I looked up, tearing my eyes away from the corpses of the three Frenchmen, and looked down the trench. Corpses obscured my view, acting like damns to the flow of blood. But I could clearly see that the French were gone; retreating, dead, incapacitated, or captured. I saw the other three members of my fireteam, all of whom were looking haggard, weary, and sickened, but sporting no serious injuries. I made a mental note to help give the Frenchmen a decent burial. They may have been the enemy, but, after what I'd done to them, they deserved every bit of compensation I could give.



  I stood up, wiped blood from my knife, and strode towards my fireteam.


Edited by scottishace, 16 February 2008 - 04:09 PM.

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#5
scottishace

scottishace

    Glasgow Rangers Champions Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh

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II

0820 Hours. First of February, 2020.

Northern France.

  I reached my fireteam, who stood, enveloped in a grim silence, as per usual after a fight of such intensity. The fourth member of the fireteam, Albert Windsor. He was distantly related to the British Royal Family, and it showed. He came from England, and was the stereotypical Englishman. He spoke with an accent so upper-class and with an incredibly varied vocabulary, although he was just as funny and as good a friend as anyone else I knew. He once proudly proclaimed 'Over the top, chaps' (he had a tendency to call everyone chap) as we'd leapt from our trenches, and 'try that one on for size, my dear Fozzie!' as he stormed a French-German encampment. He was laughable at times; even his appearance was ridiculous. He had a narrow, high cheek-boned face that smacked of snobbery (although he was known to down fifteen pints upon occasion) and a narrow, well trimmed moustache.



  "Ah, my dear boy!" he proclaimed as I walked towards him. He was a lot younger than me, but yet he insisted on calling me 'my dear boy', "I trust you're in good health?"



  I shrugged half-heartedly, "As good as I can be in a trench filled with bodies."



  Albert nodded and his smile faltered a little.



**

  Two hours later, the bodies of the French and German soldiers had been piled up in a smaller, secondary trench behind our gully. I myself leaned against the wall of the primary gully, clutching my rifle with my white-knuckled hands, my eyes squeezed tightly shut. The war was getting to me. It was no surprise. I'd seen it get to other people the same way; a worm of insanity crawling into their brain as they saw death after death after death. The worm would grow, fed by hear and hate and anger and grief, until it burst forth.



  The worm was insanity.



  A hot tear trickled from behind my closed eyelids and onto my dirty, bloody cheeks. I though back to home, to the family I didn't have anymore. My parents were dead, my brother was a POW in a camp outside of Rome, and my best friend, whom I'd known since primary school, had been shot back in the initial landings in Normandy and Cain. I hadn't seen him since; maybe he was one of the bodies swallowed up by the great muddy fields, or maybe he was floating in the ocean.



  Or maybe he was alive, lying, starving in a POW camp somewhere, in pain, being tortured and beaten regularly.



  Maybe he blamed me for what had happened.



  I shook myself out of it. My breathing was loud in my ears, and my heart was pounding. I had to detach, to do what all the veterans seemed to be able to do; to just let go, to let all my emotions go until I could not go insane.



  But then again, if I did that, I'd become an empty shell.



  I made a mental note to ask a veteran what to do one day. The problem was, out of the forty thousand veterans who'd fought in the first battles of the war, and kept fighting, only nine thousand were left.



  What was better: insanity, or death?



  I hoped I'd never have to choose.



  I heard footsteps crunching over the spent cartridges and crushed bones in the trench, coming towards me. I opened my eyes and caught sight of the American Captain, Smith, walking towards me, his M16 rifle with its ferocious-looking M203 grenade launcher strung over his shoulder. His grey eyes were narrowed and filled with grim purpose and intent.



  "What is it?" I asked; standing up, glad to have something to distract me from my brooding.



  "We've got a few Blackhawks coming in; med-evac and reinforcements. We're going to need to clear that trench that the Frogs have," he growled in his nasal New York voice, "I don't like this."



  I nodded my agreement, "None of us do," I tightened my grip on my rifle, cursing silently; we'd have to go over the top and storm the French trench. There was only a fifty-fifty chance of success, although the odds were slightly better considering the fact that we'd beaten the French badly when they'd try to storm our trench.



  "The problem is, we've only got four hundred troops left, and most of our medics are tied up treating the wounded," Smith spat angrily into the gradually fading river of blood, "There's one Apache and a Little-bird coming in for air support. Our APCs dropped off another fifty troops two miles back, and they'll be joining us."



  "How long until they arrive?" I asked, glad to hear that we would be reinforced, if only partially.



  "Half and hour. The problem is our air support's already returning from another mission; they're almost out of fuel so they can't wait around for long. We have to storm that trench in the next twenty minutes; air support will be here in five."



  I nodded slowly, grimly. I'd only just recovered from the first battle. And now we were going to have to fight again… It didn't help that we only had a fifteen minute operation window.



  "And our flyboys are only lightly armed too," Smith added glumly.



  "The news just gets better and better!" I growled, angrily whipping out my knife and stabbing it into the dirt.



  Smith shrugged, "You'll get used to it, son. Get your fireteam together. We'll move out in six minutes. The air support will be here for just one minute to saturate the enemy position. Then we're on our own."



  With that final, grim message, he carried on down the trench.



  I sighed and pulled my knife out of the trench's stone-dirt wall, slipping it back into its scabbard.



*

  "So, we're going back over," Lewis said dejectedly. He was staring glumly into the ration can he was eating out of; a lovely hot dinner of cold, sweaty, processed cheese.



  "Yep," I said. I'd had time for the news to set in, so I was fired up and ready, although I was still concerned about my mental health.



  Albert, as unflappable as ever, half smiled. Everyone knows the Frog rations are better than ours. Maybe we can grab some baguettes!"



  I grinned despite myself and sank onto my haunches. My grin faltered though, when I noticed Lewis and Lee were both sporting several graze on their faces, obscured before by mud, that pointed toward the fact that bullets had missed them by millimetres in the last fight. Maybe their luck was about to run out.



*

  Five minutes later, the distant rumble of propellers filled the air. Everyone in the gully tensed, ready, as two distant blots appeared on the horizon, one slightly larger than the other.



  The largest blot, the Apache AH-64D, came into full view. The long, narrow helicopter nimbly swung to the side as it entered range of the enemy trench. It fired on Hellfire air to surface missile. The rocket streaked out, trailing a long tail of fire and white smoke. The missile hit the trench dead on, and fifty flaming French bodies flew into view, blasted from the trench. The gully walls collapsed near the missile's impact zone, effectively cutting the French position in half. The Apache fired another Hellfire, which had a similar effect, and then fired its main air-to-surface gun. Streaks of tracer raced into the gully, and clouds of dust and blood erupted where the missiles missed or struck their target.



  A volley of RPGs soared up, and the helicopter banked suddenly, turning away rapidly to avoid the rockets and stay airborne. Almost straight afterwards, the French GPMGs opened fire, and the Apache shuddered, sparks flashing from impacts. It swerved to avoid the fire, but columns of smoke were rising from its main propellers, and the damaged helicopter spun violently, almost losing control. But the pilot was well trained, and he threw his craft into a dive, his gunner still strafing the French lines with hails of bullets.



  The Apache, just ten feet above the ground, accelerated away, heading over the British gully and moving back towards allied airbases.



  The smaller Little-bird gun helicopter arrived a second later. Beside its small, bulbous cockpit, sat four soldiers; reinforcements, obviously. There wasn't a lot of them, but every little bit helped.



  The helicopter slowed and stopped just long enough to allow the four soldiers to leap from the helicopter, fast-roping down into the middle of the enemy trench, landing amidst stunned Frenchmen and mowing them down with their M249 Light Machine Guns (LMGs)



  Shock troops! I though, totally in awe of the bravery of those men.



  The helicopter suddenly jerked to the side, and I stared at it, horrified, as an RPG streaked up and hit its tail rotor dead on. The helicopter spun violently, in a deathly spiral, its tail rotor little more than a lump of melted metal and shrapnel. I almost though I heard the pilots scream before the thing crashed, smack bang in the middle of No Man's Land, its front end crumpling horribly, the canopy shattering with an ear splitting crash that filled the sad silence. I could vaguely see two shapes feebly stirring; the pilot and the gunner! They'd survived. We just had to get them out of the helicopter before it blew. The incoming med-evacs would take care of them.



  We'd just have to get them out first.



  But already twelve French soldiers streaked out from cover, legging it towards the helicopter's crumpled remains. A salvo of fire from British lines dropped three of them straight away, and another two dropped to the ground, killed from multiple gunshot wounds.



  I swore and took aim, but my shots missed every French soldier. They reached the helicopter, taking cover behind it, and I couldn't risk suppressive fire in case I hit the pilot and gunner.



  Damn.



  I had to get to the chopper. I'd heard stories about the treatment POWs were subjected to. I intended to save the pilots from that fate.


*

  The order was finally given.



  Instantly, a roar filled the trench as men fired themselves up and loaded their weapons. I dropped my bergen onto the floor and checked my ammo levels, ensured my pistol and knife were secured at my right and left thighs respectively, that my belt kit was secure, and that my grenades were within easy reach. Then I glanced up to Lewis, who was screaming incoherently, his face a mask of anger and excitement as he the adrenaline rush that occurs before combat hit him.



  "GO!"



  I leapt up instantly, scrambling up the slightly slanted walls of the trench. My squad had been issued the orders to take out the seven remaining French troops guarding the pilot and gunner.



  Again, I felt the intense focus of combat; I had one objective; to kill. It was my purpose. In that instant, I was nothing more than a narrow-minded butcher, racing out to kill.



  It's sad that human beings have to resort to that to solve their problems…



  I came under heavy fire as I raced towards the helicopter. I raised my rifle and fired a trio of shots, my rifle's butt hammering into my shoulder as I sprinted, keeping my head down and my back stooped. One of the shots hit a Frenchman in the leg dropping him to the ground. He smashed his head off a rock as he fell, knocking himself unconscious, I noticed with grim satisfaction.



  Another Frog fired a shot and I heard a scream behind me. I kept running; I couldn't look back. If I looked back I would be distracted, if I was distracted I wouldn't be a butcher anymore, if I wasn't a butcher any more I'd balk at the killing, and if I balked at the killing I'd shrink from my duty.



  If shrank from my duty I'd die from the shame before a bullet could kill me.



  A bullet hissed past, kicking up dust that flew into my eyes, blinding me. I stumbled and fell, blinking the stuff from my eyes as I crashed into the dirt. I clung tightly to my rifle and struggled to get up, still half-blind and operating purely on adrenaline. I'd have been shot then and there if I hadn't felt someone seize my webbing and drag me along at running pace, my knees hammering against the ground.



  "I… can… walk!" I managed between gasps of air. I struggled to my feet and the man who'd been dragging me, saving my life, let me go. I started running and nodded my thanks at the man; it was Albert, as reliable as ever.



  I'd reached the helicopter. A Frog appeared, atop the helicopter's remains, pointing his FAMAS at Albert. I returned Albert's earlier favour by shooting the Frog in either knee. The Frenchman screamed as his kneecaps shattered, toppling headfirst off the helicopter. He landed on his head and his neck snapped with a sickening crack.



  Another Frog leapt from atop the helicopter. His knees impacted my chest, hurling me to the ground in a dusty heap. I could taste blood; I'd bitten my tongue.



  I landed heavily, my rifle falling from my grasp and sliding away. The Frenchman was atop me, pinning me down, his long, cold fingers searching for my throat. I roared at him and tried to punch him, but he was kneeling on my arms. I bucked, but the Frog was large and heavy, pinning me to the ground. I eased to the right, and the Frenchman's leg slid, right onto my knife, which had half slid out of its scabbard.



  He shrieked in pain as the knife's sharply honed blade dug into his shin, sending a fountain of blood spurting onto my belly. The Frog fell back, clutching his wound, and I quickly seized my knife and slit open his jugular vein.



  I stood up, grabbing my rifle. But it was over. All the other Frenchmen were dead, apart from the one I knocked unconscious. The fight was still going on, however' across at the French gully, British troops were leaping into the melee, and bodies littered the field, some dismembered, others bleeding heavily, both French and British. I stood up, dizzy, and shouted to Albert.



  "Where are the pilots?" I asked, kicking a Frog corpse away from me.



  "Over there," he replied, jerking a thumb, "By the fellow you knocked out!"



  I looked around to the pilot and the gunner, who both lay unconscious"



  I froze. The Frog I'd knocked out earlier wasn't unconscious. He was clutching the gunner, holding the man's unconscious body against his. The Frog held a knife under the gunner's throat.



  "Salut," The man's tone came off as mocking even without the language barrier.



  "Hello," I said calmly to him, and, without wasting a second, I dropped my rifle in a gesture of surrender. The Frenchmen grinned, and the knife's pressure eased, but I ruined the Frog's otherwise perfect smile I drew my pistol and shot him through the teeth.



  The Frog's head jerked back, blood streaming from the exit wound at the back of his neck. He released his grip on the gunner and his knife fell from his dead hands.



  I turned, suddenly remembering the scream as I ran towards the helicopter… Who had been wounded?



  Then I saw him. It was Lewis, lying on his back twenty metres back, groaning and clutching a large, oozing wound over his liver.



  I dropped everything; my rifle, my pistol, even my composure. I ran towards him, screaming.



  I even stopped being a butcher.



  Just for that moment.



  "HOLD ON BUD!" I screamed, anguish and fear clawing at my heart. Not another of my best friends… Please, no!



  I reached him and dropped to my knees beside him, my heart pounding. I looked at his wound. It was bad; deep, right through his liver. The bullet had exited out the other side, so he had two wounds.



  "NO!" I roared, "I WILL NOT LET THIS HAPPEN!"



  I felt rage and determination fill me. Once I saved Lewis I was going to get to that trench and slit the throat of every Frog in that place, but only after finding out who shot Lewis and torturing the freak for weeks.



  My medi-kit was in my bergen; I didn't have time for that now.



  I rolled Lewis onto his side, clutching his wound and closing it. I wasn't thinking straight enough to diagnose any particular threat… All I knew was that he was leaking fast…



  He was still breathing, his heart was still going, his eyes were still focused…



  But then he coughed blood, and tried to talk. He spoke, his voice hoarse and pain-stricken.



  "Happening?" he laughed a little, but that seemed to cause him too much pain and he stopped, groaning, and then, after a pause, he spoke again, "I guess… I guess I don't have to worry about… getting… any older… huh?"



  I couldn't believe it. He still had some mirth in his voice.



  "You're not gonna die on me!" I exclaimed, encouraged by his resilience, "I've already bought you your thirtieth birthday present."



  "God!" he groaned, and then continued, "That's reason enough to die!" he laughed at that.



  "It's a hundred bottles of beer and a bottle of whisky…"



  "Maybe I'll stick around a little longer… Heh-heh!"



  "You do that."



*

  I stayed with him, clutching his wound, keeping him talking. I let him drink half my canteen of water, and then the pain seemed to overcome him, so I took a few painkillers from my belt-kit and gave them to him (I would've used morphine but he'd lost too much blood, and the medicinal heroin would've killed him)



  They didn't ease the pain at all. After another five minutes, he passed out.



  I sat there, hunched over him, ignoring the bullets that whipped past, sometimes just metres away. One came so close that it hit my back belt pouch and spilled ration bars everywhere.



  The fighting subsided a minute later, and I knew we'd won. Shouts of triumph echoed towards me, but I stayed with Lewis. I couldn't leave him; he'd die if I left him. He probably would anyway, but I had to try to keep him alive. I couldn't abandon another one of my friends.



  Then the med-evacs arrived. I heard them, three Blackhawks racing down, touching down just metres away. Instantly, medics were leaping from the troops bays of the long, slender choppers, bearing stretchers and shouting orders. Three appeared on scene straight away. Two went for Lewis, pushing me away and getting to work in grim silence. The other checked me over, ensuring I wasn't injured. Ten more of them raced around No Man's Land in pairs, and the rest headed towards the French gully.



  I looked at Lewis for a few seconds as the medics frantically worked to save him, and felt guilty, insanely guilty, for worrying about my own mental health when people were being wounded and dying on all sides in this damn war.



  It was horrible. But it was the reality, the truth behind war.



  And the truth hurt.

*

  Lewis was loaded onto the rightmost Blackhawk along with the more seriously wounded and the Little-bird crew, and it lifted off, soaring away to the west. The reinforcements dropped off by the APCs (armoured personnel carriers) appeared a few minutes later, jogging forward. A few of them must've radioed the light tanks and APCs, informing them that the enemy were dead, because the armoured vehicles arrived a few minutes later, trundling towards the battlefield.



*

  I turned as Smith approached me, holding his radio and listening intently. He nodded, said a few words I couldn't hear, and then spoke to me.



  "You and the rest of your squad have a new assignment."


Edited by scottishace, 16 February 2008 - 04:08 PM.

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#6
Guest_Blak110_*

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Very good! Just a few grammatical errors, but it's otherwise a wonderful story.
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Red_9

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I thought for sure you had just up n' left, SA! While I'm not expecting you to be back in the writing business like you used to be, I'm just glad you didn't decide to disappear altogether, lol.

Nice work, good decision using that font.

Edited by Red_9, 06 January 2008 - 07:36 PM.

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#8
scottishace

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Thanks, Red. I've decided to take a huge break from aviation writing and focus on groundbased stuff. With school and the fact that I've never had a girlfriend as needy and clingy as the one I'm seeing right now (I was used to easy going people... But she's very nice looking so I'll let her away with it :lol:) so my writing time's virtually gone...
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Equitas Invictus

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Ah, I'm amazed at the amount of detail you put into your writing, it's really great!

I understand where you might be coming from going from aviation to groundbased stuff, I mean there's much more room to expand on details and imagery that way. It's a little tough to have details with writing based on aviation, especially in first-person, considering that person may have a very narrow field-of-view considering the position they're in. That's why I ended up varying between the first-person of the main character and the third-person of other essential protagonists and antagonists between chapters to allow for better detail through characterization more than anything else.

In fact I had an impromptu writing exercise in class earlier this week based on a groundbased-related tidbit of writing and that's when I realized how free I was to show more than simply tell in a groundbased piece of writing.

Your fanfic is another clear example of why groundbased pieces of writings can be more advantageous for a writer sometimes. You really seemed to have gone all-out with some of the visuals of the interaction between the characters and I really enjoyed reading the scenarios you put them in! Awesome job!
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#10
Red_9

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That's what's great about ground-based writing; it's so much more expressive, since you can bring in the scenery so much more than you could writing 'from the air'. Instead of everything but the planes around being just a blur or a dot, everything can be expressed in painstaking detail (depending on the writer, of course), which can really highlight certain scenes with the kind of atmosphere that can really bring out the best in a chapter.

In short, ground-based scenarios are much more flexible, and you can illustrate things much better. Which is why I decided to bring my own story to the ground for a while to really outline what the main character was going through.
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#11
scottishace

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I need a bit of reader input. I'm not entirely sure where to take the story next, should I?

a) Give the fireteam some leave to develop their personalities a bit more.
b ) Send them on a mission to a Russian cargo ship.
c) Send them against an emerging insurgency in Britain (I'm thinking a resurgent PIRA).
d) Drop them behind enemy lines for some guerilla warfare.

Edited by scottishace, 27 January 2008 - 12:00 PM.

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#12
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No thoughts at all? Not even from the Yakuza?

Well, I've decided to give the team some leave, introduce the PIRA storyline (but not involve the team in it directly) and then give the lads some special operations, behind-the-lines action.
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#13
scottishace

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III

2100 Hours. 23rd of February, 2020.

West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Great Britain.

The dilapidated block of flats was as unremarkable as any other block in the run-down Western area of Belfast. The nine story high building seemed to sag forward, its bleak, faded, mossy granite bricks steadily dripping drops of filthy water from the leaky gutters onto the deserted, weed-covered street below. A few dusty, burnt out cars dotted the street; if it wasn't for the light patter of rain and the distant sound of a plane taking off, the place could've been Beirut or Basra. The street below was dimly lit by a single, sagging streetlight which flickered on and off.



  All of the windows were blocked by metal shutters, which were steadily being eaten away by patches of copper rust. The door to the building was hanging off its hinges, beaten and cracked. The half-collapsed stairwell inside the building reeked of pish, and the walls were covered by graffiti, the floor dotted with discarded heroin needles and smashed bottles of cheap vodka.



  On the top floor, however, the place was different. The six flats on that floor were clean, and smelled of flowers. They had thick carpets, and every electronic device worked.



  And there were a lot of electronic devices, from fifty inch televisions to massive computers, to radios and state of the art remote detonators for bombs.



  The floor itself was blocked off by an unremarkable looking door, but behind that door, four men always lurked. They were tall, burly, wearing balaclavas and thick, mercenary-style body armour. One was armed with a massive, dated, but still effective, M60E4 light machine gun. Another carried a suppressed MP5 sub machine gun and carried an RPG-7 with three explosive rounds. The other two carried vicious looking knives, AK-47 rifles, and had pistols holstered at their thighs. All of them had grenades and extra magazines strapped to bandoliers on their chests.



  Further into the floor, were a further twenty security guards, and a contingency of Irish computer hackers, terrorists, and idealists.



  This was just one of twenty main PIRA outposts located in Belfast and the Ulster region of Northern Ireland.



  PIRA were back.



*

  The first bomb exploded in Canary Wharf at half past eight. The fireball was massive, a sphere of orange flame that blossomed upwards and outwards, filling the air with hundreds of black darts of shrapnel. Flaming bodies were hurled into the Thames, blood trickled into office blocks, and, an hour later, PIRA claimed responsibility.



2200 Hours. 23rd of February, 2020.

Glasgow, Scotland, Great Britain.

  I strolled casually down the street, admiring the stone buildings that flanked the wide avenue full of bustling shoppers and clubbers. Glasgow was my hometown; the largest city in Scotland, the second city of the British Empire, and was once again the number one ship builder in Britain. Also, it was churning out elite soldiers faster than anywhere else in the world, despite its population of only about a million.



  The city itself was a triumph of architecture; New York and Chicago, to name a few, were based on it; it had innovated the 'block system' that was the staple of many sprawling metropolises.



  I reached my destination; a large nightclub. Music thudded out through the door, and bright flashing lights stung my eyes. But I didn't care; I was looking forward to my first good night out for a long time.



  I had seven days of leave; seven days to enjoy myself before I was back on the job. Myself, Albert, and Lee had all been to see Lewis; he was getting a bit better, and was off life support. He'd be back, ready for combat in about four months.



  Ready for combat, that thought darkened my formerly jovial mood. Lewis had barely survived the last contact; he would be sent back as soon as he was fit. It wasn't right. It was sick, to be honest.



  Albert, Lee, and an Army Lieutenant I knew quite well, Steven ('Stevo') Stone, were looking forward to the night out. I'd jokingly divided it into three main objectives; get out of our faces on drink, get laid, and try not to get into any barroom brawls.



*

  I stepped into the nightclub, paying the five pound entry fee, and quickly moved into the crowded club. Already a couple of hundred people were dancing (making complete fools of themselves at the same time) to a song that was about fifteen years old; Now You're Gone. It was old, but it had a catchy beat so it was no surprise to find so many people dancing to it.



  Stevo and I headed towards the bar which was lit by blue neon strips, managing to look classy rather than tacky despite the glare.



  I took a seat in the middle of the bar, and ordered a pint of lager. Stevo took a bottle of Budweiser. I tapped my glass to his bottle and took a deep swig from the bitter lager, savouring every drop; I hadn't had a drink for almost a year.



  Stevo flicked a glance in my direction, "Alkie twat!" he laughed, shaking his head at the look of pure ecstasy on my face.



  "You can't talk; you're an Edinbugger; you're all tramps over there!" I countered laughing. As a Glaswegian, I was brought up with a friendly prejudice towards people from Edinburgh, Scotland's capital and second largest city. So I was naturally inclined to call people from Edinburgh 'Edinbuggers' just as they called me a 'Weedgie'.



  I took another swig, and then felt Stevo tap my arm.



  "What?" I asked.



  He flicked his head backwards, grinning, and I looked discreetly round towards a pair of nice looking blondes who sat at a table on the raised balcony looking down on the dance floor.



  "No lads with them," I observed.



  "Good sign," replied Stevo, still smiling away and looking like the village idiot.



  "Let's go," I said, downing the last of my lager and popping a piece of chewing gum into my mouth.



  We marched up the carpeted stairs onto the balcony, and moved quickly over to the table next to the blondes. One of them glanced up at us, and caught sight of the muscles on our bodies developed by years of battle and training. She tapped her friend's arm and the two of them started conversing in whispers.



  "Contact right, mate," I said through gritted teeth "She likes me the best."



  "Oh aye," countered Stevo, raising an eyebrow, "Anyway, I get paid more than you. Women like men with dosh."



  "It's a shame that's the only thing you can offer them beginning with D."



  A few seconds later and a short guy sidled up to the table and took the chair next to the tallest blonde. She kissed him and I realised there was going to be some competition between me and Stevo for the last single one.



  I glanced down at the dance floor. Albert had pulled a bird already and was dancing away. I couldn't believe it; the man was God's adopted son I was convinced of it! Lee was nowhere to be seen.



  The single blonde stood up, and I got a good look at her. She was quite short, not skinny, but curvy, and I could tell her hair was naturally blonde. She had nice eyes but I couldn't make out their colour through the rapidly blinking lights below. She smiled at me (or was it Stevo? We were both sitting close together) and walked down the stairs towards the dance floor.



  Stevo tried to stand up but I volleyed him under the table, and he cursed loudly and grabbed his shin. I tapped my forefinger to my brow and stood up.



  "I take my leave, sir," I said, moving off. I loved a bit of friendly competition



  I bumped into Albert, who was sitting with a tall brunette, chatting animatedly about his experiences in the Army, no doubt making himself out to be some glamorous war hero (which I suppose he was).



  I sat down sharply next to him; he looked up surprised, then spoke, "Hello, old boy."



  The brunette giggled at his 1930s-esque upper-class accent.



  "Is he telling you about the time he was knee deep in blood back in France?" I asked, "Seemed to be enjoying himself," It was a complete fabrication but I wanted to wind him up and make his chances a bit slimmer, because that's what pals do.



  Albert flicked me an angry glance, and I grinned back, like an idiot. But the brunette seemed undeterred, just a little wary of Albert's crazy mate. I said a polite goodbye to her and moved off, looking for the blonde; I was trying to work up the courage to ask her to dance.



  I almost walked straight into Lee, who stepped back, spilling the glass of wine and the pint he was carrying all down himself in the process.



  God! Lee's usually the last to pull someone!



  "What's her name then?" I asked, smiling at Lee.



  "Who's name? I'm just mixing wine and beer; I'll get out my face faster."



  I rolled my eyes as Lee moved off.



  The blonde was almost at the bar; I hurried up, striding quickly towards her. One overly-eager couple backed into me, their mouths glued together. I pushed them away, shaking my head (but hoping full well that in an hour or so that would be me with the hot blonde)



  I reached the bar just as the blonde sat down. I skidded to a halt beside her, trying to look cool but I had no doubt I looked like a psycho with the flashing lights reflecting off of my eyes. She flicked a glance at me and smiled; good sign! I tried to play the cool-guy, and winked back at her, praying that I looked presentable.



  I stopped the bearded, irritated-looking barman, as he moved off to get the blonde's drink. I muttered a few words in his ear, and a few seconds later he returned and handed me a small vodka and coke, and gave her a pint of lager. She glanced at the thick beer and then looked at the barman, unimpressed. I sidled over and spoke to her before she could gob off to the barman, who might give away my little plan,



  "Sorry; the barman must've mixed our drinks up," I said, handing her the vodka and coke with a smile.



  She looked up at me; I could tell she knew I'd arranged the little mix up, but the look of playful interest in her eyes told me she didn't really mind, "It's alright."



  She slid the lager over to me. Uninvited, I dropped onto the seat next to her, ready with a thousand bad chat up lines and one or two good ones.



  But she spoke first, "Hi," she looked at me with her deep blue eyes and I suddenly felt nervous, like every other lad who tried to chat up a woman, "So, are you going to buy me this drink or what?" She didn't say it in an irritated or stuffy tone. It was clearly an invitation to a bit of banter.



  And hopefully more



  "Aye, no bother," I slid a fiver over to the barman; the look of satisfaction on his face told me I wouldn't be getting any change, "I'm James. James Laird."



  "I'm Louise Gerrard," she said, taking a sip of her drink.



  My mind was racing; what should I say next? No matter how many times you try to work yourself up to ask a woman out, it never becomes easy. Never.



  She filled the gap, yet again, "Were you drafted?" Not every able bodied man had been drafted for the war.



  "Aye; I'm a Royal Marine, Corporal. I didn't mind being drafted, though; I was going to be a pilot anyway,"



  "Sounds exciting," she said coyly, "Do you know any of the Marines that got that General what's-his-name Pires?"



  I paused, stunned. The attempted capture and then killing of General Jacques Pires had been my first operation as a Marine. I thought back to that fateful day back in the August 2018, remembering the bloodshed, the fear, the violence.



  It was on that god-forsaken hill, in that god-forsaken village, that my long lasting hatred of begging, pleading enemies had been born.


Edited by scottishace, 16 February 2008 - 04:08 PM.

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#14
Red_9

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Excellent, I was especially impressed with your description of West Belfast; really gave the reader a true vision of a nitty-gritty run-down city street.

Let's hope our main man can score with Ms. Gerrard, cause it seems most of his other buddies don't seem to be having much luck!
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#15
scottishace

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Thanks Red! I don't know... Albert always seems to get lucky, the way I'm writing him :angry:.
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#16
scottishace

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I decided to change the text for this chapter... I like the new version better :wacko: . This chapter is mostly flashback, but only the first half of a much more important memory that affects our brave boys on the battlefield.


IV

0600 Hours. 9th of August, 2018. 15 miles North of Chambois, France.

  It was four Marine squads. Sixteen men. Two CH-47 Chinook helicopters. Two Apache gunships. Against fifty French soldiers, a couple of armoured vehicles, with just thirty minutes to complete our objective; to capture the French General Jacques Pires, who was sitting cosily at the top of a small hilltop village, who would soon be waking up to have breakfast with his grandchildren.



  Or, alternatively, waking up to find four Marines dragging him aboard a helicopter.



  No wonder I was afraid. Afraid, in fact was an understatement. I was terrified as we crossed into French airspace. I was shaking so hard that my M16A2 rifle (an American weapon chosen for its reliability, range, accuracy, and power) vibrated a little. I was leaning against the side wall in a dark, oily, Chinook helicopter troop bay. I could see a little in the dim red light; I didn't want to use my night vision goggles just yet. I could dimly make out the shape of Albert, Lewis, and Smith, the American Lieutenant who was leading our squad into battle.



  I put a hand on my bergen, checking that the sixty kilos of explosives, food, water, ammunition, an anti-tank rocket, and other supplies were secure in it. I carried most of my essentials in my belt kit and webbing, though; ten full magazines, an extra three hundred and fifty rounds of ammunition in numerous pouches, three days worth of food and water, grenades, flares, 40mm rounds for my M203 grenade launcher (which was attached to the bottom of my M16), a small medical kit, and numerous other essential objects for survival should the mission go awry and we were forced to go evasive.



  It was to be my first operation, and I knew it wasn't going to be easy. We were outnumbered three to one, with little air support and no reinforcements.



  The aerial reconnaissance showed the hilltop village; it was unoccupied by civilians, as every building had been bought by Pires, giving him his own private estate. His guard force stayed in the six small houses in the positively tiny village.



  Our helicopter would land at the very bottom of the steep, grassy hill, just in front of a large lake. My fireteam would go left, moving up a small, lightly-forested slope. We would then storm a guard house on the left side of the hill, whilst the other fireteam from our helicopter did the same to the house on the other side of the hill. One fireteam would wait with the helicopters, to protect them and offer supporting fire, whilst the last fireteam would push ahead, and try to capture, or kill, the General.

 

  I checked my watch; two minutes to touchdown. Everyone of the Marines in the helicopter got onto their feet, pulling on their bergens and checking their weapons for the thousandth time; when you pull the trigger, you want to be sure your weapon's loaded and not jammed. If even a split-second is wasted, you will die. We had that drilled into us during our gruelling, thirty two week training course.



  I heard the distinct whump-whump of the helicopter's blades slow, and my stomach flipped as we began a sharp descent. The helicopter's loady rushed forward, his footsteps clanging on the metal floor as he opened the helicopter's rear troop door.



  Instantly a high-pitched whine filled the troop bay as the helicopter's hydraulics kicked in and the landing gear descended. A small road at the bottom of the hill was visible; the LZ, the landing zone.



  The helicopter touched down, kicking up massive clouds of dust, and I was aware of how obvious it would look to any guards that we'd arrived; despite the early hour, the sun was high in the sky.



  We were first off the helicopter.



  Fear released adrenaline into my veins, but my training kicked in and I moved left as soon as I'd raced down the ramp, followed closely by Lewis. Both of us checked up the hill and to the left, before dropping into a crouch and pulling off our astoundingly heavy bergens. We'd leave them there, and come back for them if we needed them.



  I glanced right; Smith and Albert had cleared the right side of the helicopter, and the other Marine fireteam were disembarking as the other Chinook swung in to land.



  My fireteam moved off quickly but quietly, crouching and hurrying along, stepping onto the grass at the foot of the hill. It was a hot day, and I was sweating already. My breath came in ragged pants, and flies buzzed around my face. I looked up the hill; there was a one hundred metre stretch of grass, covered by a light spattering of trees, and then there were the two houses that would soon be stormed. Both had GPMGs mounted at the front, but no one manned them. In between the two houses was a road, leading up to a large aerial and up towards another two houses, and the large farm that the General lived in at the summit of the hill.



  Lewis and I took point, spreading out until we were twenty five metres to the side of one another, and crept forward, listening intently with our mouths hanging over to prevent any internal noise from our bodies obstructing our fine-tuned hearing as the helicopter's blades died down.



  I was just creeping past a tall tree, behind a bush, when I heard the sound of a door being pushed open from the large, old, white-wood house that lay ahead. Lewis and I both froze and slowly, carefully, dropped into prone positions, looking down our scopes at the house. Training had worked; I was afraid, but my fear didn't hinder me.



  I saw the fireteam responsible for capturing Pires, who were codenamed 'Alpha Team', advancing at either side of the road. But I was distracted by a sudden shout from the house I should've been watching, followed by the click of a GMPG being loaded.



  I dropped flat, burying my head in the dewy grass as five French soldiers appeared at the GPMG position at each house, and opened fire instantly.



  The sound was deafening as the GPMGs rained streams of 7.62 rounds onto Alpha Team. I saw one killed for sure he was shot in the head and his skull exploded, bloody shards flying everywhere. Another was shot at the elbow and his forearm flew off; he screamed in agony but then his roars of pain subsided I knew he was dead.



  The other two dropped to the ground, rolling into natural cover.



  I lay there, frozen by fear, unable to move as my heart pounded. Mud was blasted all around me as bullets rained into the ground, some barely missing me. I had to get off the hill; it had turned into a killing ground. The enemy had us pinned down. WE HAD TO MOVE!



  I kicked myself into action, moving up into a crouch even as Lewis opened fire with his Minimi light machine gun, a fearsome LMG that had a high rate of fire and was loaded with large, two hundred round box magazines. I pulled up the leaf sight mounted on the barrel of my M16 to help me aim my M203, and fired a grenade.



  My M16 recoiled as the grenade fired with a soft, metallic pop. It flew forward and hit the ground in front of the GPMG position. Two Frogs screamed as fragmentation from the grenade blast injured them no doubt removing their ability to fight, but the GPMG kept firing, so I reloaded my M203 and crawled a little further forward, until I was just fifty metres away from the GPMG position. I flicked the safety catch from three-round burst to single shot, and gazed down the iron sights of my M16. I took careful aim at the man who manned the constantly firing GPMG, aiming just above the rapidly flashing muzzle



  I pulled the trigger, and a single 5.56 millimetre round hit the Frog in the chest and blasted out the other side along with snapped ribs and a shower of blood.



  My first kill I'd expected to feel saddened, or upset. I wasn't. That man would've killed me or my friends if I hadn't done what I'd done. It was what war was all about.



  I flicked the safety catch back to three round burst and then broke from cover, racing forward before another Frog could man the GPMG.



  "Coming through!" I bawled. I heard Albert and Smith open fire, laying down covering fire to allow Lewis and me to advance, as was standard operating procedure (SOP) for Marine fireteams in a contact. If you take the fight to the enemy with speed and aggression, they'll be scared shitless and you'll kill them with little effort.



  I dropped behind a concrete barrier designed to stop tanks, and caught sight of Lewis diving into cover in a small ditch.



  The pop of a mortar firing was just audible over the continued gunshots from the GPMG positions. But I heard it, and saw the stream of white steam lifting from the mortar's position, hidden behind a massive stone outcropping in the hill.



  The mortar round whistled as it plummeted, and I caught sight of the round passing overhead, little more than a black smudge in the sky. It disappeared down the hill, and out of sight, before landing and exploding.



  A second, larger explosion followed the initial blast, and I knew, straight away, that one of the helicopters had been hit.



  "This is fucking outrageous!" I bawled above the tumult of the firefight.



  I popped my head out of cover, pushing the helicopter from my mind, and dropped a Frog that tried to break from cover. I then raced forward, until I reached the small house. Lewis appeared beside me and we raced towards the front door, the wooden patio in front of us exploding as stray bullets smashed into it.



  Lewis skidded to a halt beside the front door's left side, and I quickly took my position to the door's right; we'd 'stacked up', ready to breach into the house. We didn't have the time to wait for Albert and Smith, so I simply shot the door's hinges off.



  The door slumped backwards and landed on the bare floorboards of the house. Lewis dived in through the doorway, his Minimi blazing. I followed him in quickly, taking a quick glance at the house's tiny interior; one storey, entirely open plan. Two Frenchmen, victims of Lewis's accurate fire, lay sprawled in a rapidly expanding pool of blood that lapped against my boots. One more Frenchman, a Private, stood in the corner, his hands in the air, his weapon at his feet. I could see his combed blonde hair, his mouth, twisted in a sob of fear; I could smell the stench of terror, emanating from him like the smell of gangrene from a decaying limb.



  "Please!" he begged, tears glistening in his wide, fearful eyes. He quivered and a moan of horror escaped his lips, "Please! Help me! I surrender! No Shoot! No Shoot!" he screamed, his disjointed English only serving to make his fear more evident.



  But, with at least one helicopter destroyed, there'd be no space to take any prisoners other than Pires; the rest of the room would be taken up by my fellow Marines and our wounded.



  So I raised my rifle and shot the Frenchman through the head.



  He slumped backwards. Blood rushing from his ruptured eye. He fell against a rack of pots and pans, and dragged them down with him. They clanged and clattered, thankfully obscuring the Frog's mouth, which was twisted in a final, silent, attempt to beg. I dropped to my knees, ignoring Lewis's sudden shock at my fall as I vomited. I was disgusted by what I'd just done. But it had been necessary. This was war. Total war. I got to my feet, and nodded to Lewis to indicate I was okay.



  The other GPMG position fell silent; either Fireteam Bravo had neutralised it, or it had decimated the Bravos. I prayed for the former.



  But there was no time to worry; Fireteam Alpha had sustained at least fifty percent casualties. My squad, Fireteam Charlie, were now responsible for taking Pires.



  Smith and Albert had advanced ahead, and crossed to the other side of the main road. Lewis and I exited the house and started to advance up the left side of the main road, along with the three surviving members of Fireteam Bravo.



  We reached a large VCP (vehicle check-point) about fifty metres up the road. Every soldier in the hardened mini-fortress was on alert; I could see them squinting against the sun, trying to spot us.



  I looked over and saw Smith jerk his hand forward, the sign to attack. I moved into a crouch, unaware of everything except the guard in front of the VCP, who had been smoking. His mouth opened in shock, and the cigarette tumbled to the ground. I pulled the trigger and the guard was dead before his cigarette hit the ground. A few more seconds of sustained fire, and the twelve Frogs in the VCP were all dead.



  The six Marines and myself broke into a run; we had to reach the top of the hill. Pires had a private helicopter, a Russian Mi-28 Havoc gunship. He had an elite pilot to fly it, and would occupy the gunner's seat. I knew the Havoc hadn't taken off yet, but it might at any second.



  We were almost at the top of the hill; the only thing in the way was two more houses. We started to run faster, our legs pounding against the grass.



  I heard the rumble of the armoured vehicle before I saw it. But the commander of Fireteam Bravo didn't. As soon as the Panhard IFV (infantry fighting vehicle) appeared, racing down the hill with its top-mounted machine gun blazing, he took a hit to the knee. His leg was blasted off in a shower of gore and slivers of broken bone. He dropped to the ground, silent despite his obvious pain. The Bravo medic stopped advancing and dropped into a prone position and began to crawl back to his injured comrade.



  I threw myself to the side, half leaping. My legs smashed into a small, white-wood fence. I flipped over it, my legs numb, and landed on my shoulder. Sharp pain shot down my left arm, and I grimaced. But adrenaline washed away the pain quickly; I still had a mission to do, and I was in an even better position to do it now.



  Using the visual cover of a shrub growing next to the fence, I pulled out my 84mm AT4 one-use, anti-tank rocket. Basically it was a disposable rocket launcher that fired a single, high explosive round for maximum damage.



  I inched my way forward, the steel tube resting on my broad shoulder. I heard sporadic gunfire, the pop of an M203; the Panhard slowed and then weaved, trying to avoid the fire that bounced off its lightly armoured chassis.



  I could wait no longer; the Panhard was bearing down on my fireteam, almost at point-blank range.



  I stepped out of cover, took aim down the iron sights, and squeezed the trigger.



  Pop-whoosh.



  The rocket shot forward with a whoosh; a cloud of white smoke trailed behind it, and a massive geyser of grey smoke shot out of the back of the rocket launcher itself. The rocket flew forward, and hit the Panhard dead on the side.



  The round exploded, but not before transferring all its kinetic energy into the IFV itself. The Panhard disappeared in a cloud of black smoke and flames, bit I could just make out its burning, blackened shape as it was blasted into the air. It rolled in mid-air, still burning, the sun shining almost placidly through the massive, gaping hole in the vehicle's side. The IFV disappeared over the small fence on the other side of the roll, and landed with a crash on a concrete platform that would've been used to mount a mortar had the need arisen. The IFV's unarmoured roof crumpled like a Coke can, crushing any survivor that may have survived the explosion. Blood spurted through the jagged gaps in the vehicle's smouldering remains.



  I leapt back over the fence, joining back up with Lewis, and we started to advance. I kept my M16 trained dead ahead; if there was a contact, we had to be ready.



  "Contact right!" screamed Lewis. Instantly, my fireteam and the last remaining Marine from Fireteam Bravo broke out of our single fire formation. Lewis laid down heavy fire with the Minimi whilst everyone else swung to the right, advancing towards the enemy position in a wide line with twenty metre gaps between each Marine to minimise grenade danger.



  The attacking enemies were crouched behind concrete tank-barriers; I counted about nine as I hurried forward. Everyone but Lewis jumped the fence, and I gauged the distance between us and the enemy; about fifty metres.



  I opened fire, giving Lewis the opportunity to leap over the fence and take his position in the five-Marine strong fire and manoeuvre line.



  Firing and manoeuvring is very simple. A standard four man Fireteam is divided into two Task Teams; One, with the team commander and the Minimi gunner, two, with two riflemen with grenade launchers. Whilst One advances towards the enemy aggressively to invoke fear in the enemy, Two gives cover. One will stop after twenty metres, and open fire, allowing Two to advance forward under the covering fire. The process is rinsed and repeated, and it was known to triple a Fireteam's effectiveness.



  In this case, the Marine from Fireteam Bravo hung back with Lewis, whilst Albert, Smith and I raced forward, roaring at the top of our voices to get 'sparked up' and ready for the firefight. I winced as every bullet whipped past with a whistle or crack; in a contact, you always want to just dig a hole and hide. It's your natural instinct. But you can't. If you cower you die. You must fight, you must advance. It's the only way to survive.



  I dropped into a prone position, just as Albert and Smith were doing. I took ain at the rightmost tank barrier, just to its left, and fired an M203 grenade. The grenade soared forward and landed just in front of the barrier; only one Frog was killed. He poked his head out of cover just as the grenade landed, and a piece of shrapnel had all but severed his head. His head hung motionless, held on by a single, straining vertebrae and some sinew. His body sagged against the tank barrier.



  Lewis suddenly appeared beside me, and I got to my feet, racing forward for just ten metres this time before dropping onto my belly. We were just twenty metres away from the enemy, a good distance for Marines armed with M16s. So we held our positions, Lewis and the Bravo guy just backwards, with myself, Albert and Smith as close to the tank barriers as we could safely go.



  Two more Frogs went down to the accurate firing of Smith and Albert. One screamed, the gunfire and raw, animal fear going to his head. He broke from cover, screaming like a lunatic, but a hail of 5.56 rounds cut him quite literally to shreds before he'd gone three paces.



  Lewis opened fire, a long, sustained burst that dropped another two Frogs. The remaining few tried to retreat, but a single L2A2 hand grenade delivered from the Bravo Marine finished them off.



  We started running yet again, and bypassed the last two houses entirely.



  And then the farmhouse came into view.



  It was fifty metres away across perilously flat ground, with no cover by a few hay-bales. It was flanked to the left by a barn, and the farmhouse itself stood on the very edge of a fifty metres drop down a craggy, treacherous cliff into the water below, which frothed like crazy, and was penetrated by hundreds of razor-sharp needles of rock.



  The house itself was modern; it was made with an all-glass front exterior, showing a few tastefully decorated bedrooms, a living room, and a long dining room with a huge oak table, a roaring fire, and a cabinet full of ancient china. I could just make out the shape of Pires, a slightly podgy, intelligent looking man with short grey hair a thick moustache.



  Between us and Pires was twenty Frogs armed with LMGs, two Panhards, and one Mi-28 Havoc with a pilot sitting in the pilot's seat, the rotors slowly starting to come online



  Against five Marines



  I shook my head slowly, remembering the first half of that horrible day.



  "I was there," I said, my voice hoarse. Apparently we were sort of national heroes, but mainly because of what had happened after we'd began our attack on the farmhouse

Edited by scottishace, 16 February 2008 - 04:07 PM.

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#17
scottishace

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V

0615 Hours. 9th of August 2018. 15 miles north of Chambois.

  The enemy opened fire without mercy. I dropped to my stomach, smacking my head against the dirt road as hails of deadly 7.62mm bullets raced over my head. The bitter taste of dirt dried my tongue, the smell of cordite burned my nostrils, and the sound of gunfire deafened me. I could just vaguely hear Smith on his radio.



  "This is Charlie Lead! We are at the top of the hill, and need support; two armoured vehicles, twenty enemy soldiers, and a single Mi-28 Havoc gunship are currently attacking us. We have no cover. We have one member of Fireteam Bravo, and all of Fireteam Charlie present. Can we have support?" he was screaming into the TACBE radio just so he could be heard over the noise of the gunshots.



  "Do you have the VIP?" replied the surviving Chinook's co-pilot.



  "Negative; we need support to continue the capture!"



  "Roger; the two remaining Alpha soldiers are moving up to assist. Two Fireteam Delta Marines are also inbound."



  "Four!?" bellowed Smith, "We need everyone! Now!"



  The co-pilot paused for a few seconds, and I could tell he was listening to someone on a different frequency, "Uh, roger, Charlie Lead. All surviving Marines are en-route."



  "Roger that."



  "We are now exfiltrating from the combat zone."



  "WHAT?"



  "We are exfiltrating from the combat zone. If that Havoc gets into the air, we'll be shot down," There was a pause, followed by a lengthy sigh, "Not my choice, I'm sorry; it's a direct order from Command. Also, mission objectives have changed; you are to kill Pires if there's even a chance he'll escape. An extraction helicopter will arrive in four hours."



  Damn armchair warriors! I thought to myself. We would be abandoned for four hours with literally thousands of French soldiers bearing down on us.



  I was distracted by a whoosh, and turned to see Albert firing his AT-4 at the Havoc. The long, sleek gunship was just starting to glide into the air when the rocket hit the base of its rotors.



  The rotors quite literally sprang off, flying like party streamers in every direction. The helicopter teetered over onto its side, and then fell. It landed with a crash atop the two Panhards and six French soldiers, who were crushed beyond recognition.



  That had just my job a lot easier.



  The sound of rapidly beating rotors reached me and I turned around just in time to see the Chinook come racing forward, determined to help us before it had to leave. It flew, side-on, giving a clear shot for its side-mounted Mark-19 automatic grenade launcher.



  Pop-thump-pop-thump.



  Grenades streamed out, mostly missing their intended targets but sending every Frog scuttling into cover. The Chinook stayed overhead for a few seconds, long enough to allow us to move into a proper battle formation.



  But then the Chinook started to retreat.



  A single Frog leapt out from cover as if on cue, carrying an RPG-29; a Russian device.



  I reacted instantly; I slid up onto one knee, aiming down my iron sights as the Frog lined up his shot at the Chinook's open, rear troop bay, where two loadies were just visible, holding Minimis and cabbying at the French soldiers. I held my breath to steady the gun, just as the Frog's finger curled around the trigger, determination in his eyes.



  I fired.



  The single shot buried itself in the Frog's shoulder. The soldier spun, screaming in pain, his finger tightening involuntarily on the RPG's trigger.



  Whoosh.



  The RPG hit the Chinook's rear rotor, and, without any spinning or tumbling, the helicopter toppled forward, its strained metal hull screaming in protest as fire melted it. The helicopter smacked into the dirt road and started to slide forward, uprooting grass and causing a massive dirt slide. It ripped up boulders and stones from underground, creating a granite avalanche.



  Eventually the helicopter hit a tree, and its weakened, stressed hull snapped in half, the cockpit resting against a bent and burned oak, whilst the troop bay skidded all the way down the hill until it landed on the very bottom with a sickening crunch.



  "Chinook down! CHINOOK DOWN!" screamed Smith.



  We kept firing. Nothing we could do to help just yet. The good news was, the Frogs were weakening; the bad news was that we were still exposed, and Pires appeared to be unconcerned. I could just make him out, glancing at the raging battle, drinking from a mug of steaming liquid.



  I quickly counted the remaining French soldiers. There were just four left; no match for five Royal Marines.



  "Grenades! On targets!" roared Smith. I obliged his order, taking aim with my M203 at the burning wreckage of a Panhard where the last French soldiers had taken cover.



  All of us fired at the same time.



  Four grenades soared forward, and landed just behind the Panhard. The French were killed instantly, without mercy.



  Lewis dropped onto his belly, reloading his Minimi whilst Albert, Smith, and myself advanced towards the house. None of the all-glass exterior of the house had shattered; it was clearly strengthened, as the only blemishes were thirty-odd white cracks where bullets had careened off the toughened glass.



  We caught sight of Pires. He sat at one end of a long dining table, looking towards us, calm and unconcerned. He was sipping hot coffee from a bone-china cup, his chubby hands clamped around it, croissant crumbs clutching his moustache like parasites.



  The dining room had a smooth wooden floor; its three inner walls were made of rough, red brick. The embers of a fire glowed pale orange in the grate of a large fireplace.



  We reached the strengthened glass and looked through. We had no time to look for traps; we just had to go right in. Pires observed us calmly, putting down his cup. His eyes suggested that we were mere inconveniences.



  Whilst toughened glass may take many long range bullet hits, it can't survive a three-round burst from an M16 pressed quite literally against it. The glass shattered loudly, sending crystal-like shards of glass cascading into the room, skidding across the table. A few smacked Pires' face, drawing tiny trickles of blood from his chubby jowls. He raised a hand and calmly dusted off the razor-sharp fragments.



  Albert raised his rifle, set to single shot, and aimed at Pires' forehead. Smith and I advanced lightning fast, down either side of the narrow table. I grabbed Pires' left arm at the crook of his elbow, Smith doing likewise at his right side. We dragged the silent General off his mahogany seat, which crashed to the floor and splintered. We pinned his against the mantelpiece of the fireplace. Smith raised his fist and smacked Pires' across the face. Blood flew from his mouth, but he made no sound.



  "I'm afraid you can't take me alive," he said calmly after a few seconds, in perfect English, "I won't allow it."



  "Aye, mate? Well because of you ten thousand of us died at Dunkirk. You give me a fucking excuse to kill you and I won't hesitate!" I hissed, venom in my voice, anger in my brain.





  It was truly heartfelt. I wanted to make the bastard suffer.



  "I see," he said calmly. I pulled back my fist and sunk a killer right hook that'd won me so many amateur boxing matches, right in his cheek. I heard teeth crack, and another shower of blood and crimson teeth sailed from between his lips. Lewis legged it past me, moving through the house to secure it. But it was obvious it was empty. We'd killed every enemy soldier in the area. The zone was clear.



  Pires continued coolly, "I would appreciate it if you allowed me to stand on my own two feet," he slurred his words slightly; his sudden tooth job might've been a factor in this.



  I responded by volleying him in the knee. A hiss of air escaped his lips and he sagged a little.



  "Clear!" shouted Lewis.



  "Secure Pires," Smith ordered.



  I should've pushed the General to the ground, straddled him and plasticuffed him. But I couldn't help myself. I grabbed him and hurled him headlong into the table, rage crowding my vision. He landed on the fragile table which shattered, the legs splaying and the wood splintering. Pires landed on the floor on a heap, but I saw his hand dive for a pocket in his golf trousers.



  I threw myself forward, but Pires was already drawing a USP pistol. I dropped my rifle, and drew my combat knife. I landed on top of the General, holding my knife to his throat, roaring incoherently at him.



  The General cracked a regretful smile, "I wish I could've said goodbye to my grandchildren."



  He pushed the gun under his own chin. I reacted straight away, my free hand diving to deflect the gun away. So Pires turned his aim on me.



  Albert shot Pires dead. The bastard had the last laugh; he'd died on his own terms.



2215 Hours. 23rd of February, 2020.

Glasgow, Scotland, Great Britain.

  Louise stared at me with an expression of worry. I realised my expression must've been grim, so I tore myself away from the memory before I had time to think about the desperate wait for extraction. Those hours had been the most harrying of my life. I couldn't think about them without falling into a brooding, grieving silence.



  "You alright?" she said, shaking my arm. The contact instantly made me feel a bit better.



  "Aye. It's just It's just you'll never have any idea what that day was like."



  She frowned, "I wasn't saying I did."



  "I know. Sorry Bad memories, you know? I lost so many friends that day. And I killed men I killed when I didn't need to," I looked away, sniffing and swiping at the hot tears that filled my eyes.



  I felt her arm around my shoulders. I looked up, my vision blurry through the tears, showing only the pulsing, changing colours from the strobe lights.



  She seemed to bluster, trying to think of something to say, "I understand."



  "No," My voice cracked horribly, and a strangled sob escaped my lips, "You can't. I'm so sorry, but you can't understand. I hope you never do. The pain Having to live with myself since then has been so hard. I'm not a hero!" I choked and coughed.



  Whether it was from pity or just to shut me up, I'll never know. She took my chin in her beautifully soft hands, and guided my mouth to hers



  I didn't resist. I just enjoyed the warm, squishy sensation. I slid my hands around her waist, silently crying, my tears trickling onto her eyelids, down her face, onto her lips.



  After a few seconds, our mouths parted. The memory of her tongue in my mouth never faded. I just stared into her eyes; her eyes filled with unashamed admiration, and then kissed her again, for much, much longer.
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#18
scottishace

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I'm going to carry this on, despite the previous chapters being utter, utter pish. :ph34r: New start; I'm back.
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#19
Zaku

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Frak yeah; carry on with this outstandingness good sir.
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#20
viper11

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Bloody nice read

keep it coming
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