Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Cache – Part 13 – C1

The area which he would be traveling through for the next couple of miles had a lot of housing development outside the city limits, and so moving through it would be best conducted during early morning hours before daybreak, or later at night after 10:00 PM when people were readying themselves for bed. He seriously doubted that there would be much activity in the way of patrols on these back streets. Nevertheless, he would need to remain cautious. There was also the possibility of encountering the youth of the neighborhood, as they roamed about at all hours of the night. Perhaps the enactment of martial law had abated that, but it was still a possibility. He wished to remain unseen by any if at all possible.

C1 was not that far away, and he would be able to travel in the woods along the riverbank to avoid the checkpoints set up on the highway that had put him upon this detour. From this point onward, the path turned away from the stream and skirted a marshy area through which the stream flowed. He was thankful that it was not late summer, as the mosquito’s would probably be thick in here. As he was resting, he heard what appeared to be voices coming down the path. He quickly moved off the path and silently settled as low as he could to the ground. He pulled some brush over him and spread the poncho out to just cover his feet, then pulled the hood over his head and waited.

He did not have long to wait for within a few minutes two young men meandered down the path, talking in low voices. Foolishly, they had a flashlight with an unfiltered lens and the light was bright enough to be seen at quite a distance. A red or blue filter would have given them enough light to see the trail but not be as easily detected.

"Tell me again why we need to go get some weed now after curfew?" said one youth. "Because dawg, if we were to get stopped and searched during daylight hours they would haul us off and that would be it! Poof! Never seen again!" said the other. "Hey look over there! It looks like a camo tarp covering up sumpin! Lets check it! out" said the first youth.

His heart jumped up in his throat and he quietly slid his knife from its sheath. He tensed up, ready to deal with the two in a permanent manner when the second youth responded to his friend. "Forget about that garbage! We can't be foolin around with crap like that during curfew.  It’s probably got some homeless person sacked out under it. Besides, Ole' Dawg is waitin for us and he won't be happy if we keep him waitin too long. Sides, you can check it out later on the way back!"

They passed him by, the first youth grumbling about having to be in a hurry all the time, and then they were out of his hearing range. He relaxed and slowly let out his breath, unconsciously having held it as he prepared to strike. He needed to get off this pathway as it would seem to be used heavier than he thought it would be.

As he followed the path, he saw that it skirted the edges of the developed area and he would be somewhat exposed if he followed it. Reluctantly, he moved off of the comparatively easy pathway into the brushy area that had grown up on the opposite side of the development. He had hoped to make better time but remaining undiscovered was more important. A sheltered place to lay up for the coming day was needed as he was not willing to travel openly during the daylight just yet.

The path skirted a partially inhabited cul-de-sac, sprinkled with split level McMansions and empty lots. A golden light was growing in the east, threatening to break out into full blown daylight soon. He must traverse this area and get into some dense undergrowth before dawn revealed his presence in the neighborhood. To the left of the development was a greenbelt mandated by county building codes. Within this quarter mile wide swath of trees was a large bioswale created to catch and hold runoff from the housing developments on either side.

This area was not well explored by any of the inhabitants of the area except perhaps a few of the more adventuresome youth. Most others were glued to the idiot box in the living room playing on their game consoles or ensconed in front of their computers playing games or surfing the internet. Whichever the case, it was to his advantage as he could remain hidden from sight comfortably with little chance of being discovered. Few residents even knew of the fact that the bioswale existed, which in the absence of human interference had turned into a small lake perhaps as long as a football field, but much, much narrower.

The greenbelt had been in place for over fifteen years, giving nature the opportunity to take over management of it. Cattails had found their way to the area and had heavily populated both sides of the small lake. The water level would drop some in the summer, but it would refill soon in the fall as the rains came. The lake drained into a swampy area which in turn drained through a large culvert that ran under the main highway and found its way to the river.

Sometime during those first few years, a older retired gentleman who had a penchant for fishing had released some smallmouth bass into the lake. A large frog population created a decent food supply and the bass population had taken off. Since no one else fished the area, the population was quite proliferate, as much as the food supply would allow anyway. It was into this area that he burrowed unseen by the slumbering residents, as the edges of the greenbelt were guarded by the ever present blackberry vines.

The area inside the trees was somewhat clear of underbrush allowing for freer movement as he moved to the center of the wooded area. It was there to his surprise that he discovered the narrow little body of water at the center, over shadowed in many places by the branches of the trees surrounding it. He had used Google Earth to explore all this area when he was planning the caches, at least as much of it that it showed. Once outside of the heavily populated areas, it’s coverage was sparse and he had to fall back on his topographical mapping software. He used the Delorme Topo USA software on his home computer and laptop when he was scouting out the locations he had picked for his caches. Combined with his handheld GPS, he was able to pinpoint the exact areas he had selected at home, and update them in the field as necessary.

He explored the greenbelt on the west side of the little lake and soon found a perfect campsite under a large cedar tree. The cedar's branches would breakup and help dissipate any smoke his small fires would produce and made it easy to set up his poncho shelter. It would also help keep the rain off him as the branches formed a natural umbrella above him. He set about digging his Dakota Fire Pit as it was the most effective way to conserve fuel and remain relatively stealthy while being warmed. He then began to gather fuel for his fire, and soon had a pile which might last several days if used with care. He was very weary from the constant battle with the blackberry vines, and his pack was heavier with the treasure he had found at the old farm house.

He had not eaten anything since leaving the treed area in the middle of the field the evening before and was feeling a little weak with hunger. He knew he was not getting enough calories on a daily basis nor enough fats and carbs. He was leery of cooking anything that might have an aroma this close to human habitations, but chose to boil some water to replenish what he was using no matter what he later decided about cooking a meal.

He started his fire and once it was well established, took his cooking pot down to the lake’s edge to fill it. The shore was marshy in most places and he had to hunt a bit to find a firm place on the edge of clear water instead of the dirtier water amongst the cattails. He wondered if there were any fish in the lake but saw nothing to announce their presence. He returned to his comfortable little encampment and set about boiling his water. After he finished eating, he was going to bank the fire as best he could with a few larger diameter limbs he had collected with just that purpose in mind.

He pulled out a handful of the coon jerky and began to chew on that while he decided on having tea or hot cider to go with his meal. He decided on the tea and soon was steeping a bag of it. Off in the distance he heard the muted blast of an approaching train. It made an ominous rumble that grew stronger as the train grew nearer, no doubt it being a freight train rather than a passenger. As he sipped on his tea and listened to the train draw near, he felt his eyes grow heavy. Sleep was overtaking him now that his basic needs had been met. He struggled tiredly to his feet and stumbled off to take care of his bodily functions away from where he was camped.

Having finished with natures call, he rolled up in his meager bedroll and was soon asleep. While he caught up on his much needed rest, the wind begin to pickup and soon had brought a slow drizzle to the area. He had chosen his camp well and only a few drops found their way down to drop on his poncho. The wind sighed gently through the tops of the trees while he slept, as though reluctant to wake him. He slept the sleep of the truly exhausted, unbroken by dreams or nature calls as is the wont of some unfortunate souls.

He woke refreshed, but with the familiar dull ache of hunger in his belly. As he sat up, his stomach let out a large rumble, voicing it’s discontent over the lack of sustenance it was receiving. “Ok, ok!” he grumbled in answer. He poked the remnants of the fire around until he had it roused and then added more fuel until he had it healthy once again. He put the half empty pot back to where it would heat once more and retrieved another handful of the jerky. It was disappearing fast and he would have to be on the lookout for something to replace it again soon. He had access to plenty of the bland tasting cattail roots that he could eat, but he would fast tire of that for a staple diet. Modern civilization was spoiled in that respect. But hey, variety is the spice of life, right?

He noticed the soft hiss of falling rain, but observed that the area under the cedar was remarkably dry. He smiled smugly at his choice of a campsite and decided he would spend more time in the area, perhaps a day or two. There were plenty of cattail roots for him to harvest, bland as they were and he had a notion to try his hand at catching a fish or two, if there were any to be caught. It was hard to imagine a small body of water such as this without any fish of some kind.

Looking at his watch, he determined that he had slept for over 6 hours, it now being 12:30 PM. Considering the ever present chill of winter and the uncomfortable ground upon which he had lain, it was a quite a feat to sleep for that length of time without waking at least once. His stomach rumbled once again, not to be silenced by merely ignoring its needs. He sighed and dug out the bag containing the cattail roots. He selected several of the larger pieces and began to peel them while chewing on the jerky. Once peeled he sliced the roots into bite sized pieces and then ate them one by one while staring off into space.

After he finished the last bit of the roots, his stomach seemed to be satisfied for the time being and he directed his attention to the task of rigging up something to fish with. He could use a small piece of the Mylar blanket for a flasher type lure, and he had over 100 yards of high strength dental floss he could use for a line, but he was lacking material to fashion a hook. If he were back in town he could most likely find enough discarded material to fashion several hooks, but isolated here in the greenbelt, he didn’t see any of the usual signature of the human race.

He cursed himself soundly for not including a small package of hooks and sinkers in his get home bag. But who would have thought that it might be needed just to travel 5 miles home from work? He gave up in disgust and put everything back into the pack. Since he wasn’t going to be fishing, there was no reason to stay another day regardless of how comfortable a camp he might contrive in this hidden refuge.

He sat sipping on a cup of hot cider that he made with the now heated water, considering his next movements. He was about a half mile from the county refuse collection site, and beyond that another mile or so to C1. He got a bit excited as he thought about reaching his cache and replacing all the worn and damaged items with fresh equipment. The thought of warm clothing made the task of deciding to break camp all the easier.

He decided that he would pack up just before dusk and position himself near the edge of the greenbelt on the eastern side where it joined the next development. Once night had fallen, he would leave this refuge and cross the relatively open but short distance to the woods on the other side of the street.


It was just about 7:00 PM and he had been traveling for an hour or better. He decided to make camp for the night as it was too hard to see while moving through the brushy areas that were interspersed within the woods on either side of the road. Up ahead he could see the county refuse collection site. It was located about 500 feet off the highway and screened by the trees. It was only open during the day on weekends, so there was no nighttime activity. He set up his shelter and settled down to wait until daylight. After eternity had faded away, daylight made its appearance with very little fanfare as the sky was heavily overcast, threatening to rain in the near future. He settled in to wait until 8:00 AM, when the site would open if it were going to that day. Opening time came and went with no unwanted activity.

The site was enclosed with a 8' chain link fence with barbed wire on top. It only had a very flimsy looking lock on the gate, and it was no great feat to pick it. Inside the fenced off area was the shack from which fees were collected and some various recycling bins. There was also a port-a-potty which he immediately checked for toilet paper. Since this station got so little use, the paper dispenser was full, about 2 rolls worth of paper. He removed all of it and stored it in some of his empty Ziploc bags. Next he went to examine the shack.

The shack was a 8'x10' construct with a pitched roof to shed any snow load. It had a standard entry door lock and so within moments he had it open also. Normally, he did not approve of this type of conduct, having been victimized by tweakers and other dishonest persons in the town where he had lived. But this was survival, his survival! And the powers that be all seemed arrayed against his making it. By picking the locks as opposed to breaking them, he hoped to make it seem to be an inside job.

Within the shack he found a case of bottled water, a bag of Gardetto's snack mix, a pack of Big Red chewing gum, a box of Gatorade Drink mix and a bag of Snickers small size candy bars. He drank one bottle of water and refilled his water container with another. Everything else but the bottles of water went into his pack. He drank a second bottle of water to be sure he was fully hydrated. He had read that it was easy to become dehydrated in the winter and by the time you started to feel thirsty, you were already well on the road to severe dehydration.

Nosing around a bit more, he found several cans of ready to eat soup and added them to his pack also. He knew that when it was discovered that these items were missing, there would first be some confusion over who did it and when it happened. In a drawer under the window, he found several types of batteries new in blister packs. He thought about taking all of them, but ended up taking the only 4 pack of AAA's. He did not need the extra weight of the rest for possible use in the future, remote as that was.

He had no doubts that eventually it would be determined that it was the work of a fugitive rather than a disgruntled employee of the county who perpetrated the liberation of the missing items. He felt a twinge of guilt taking them, but quickly buried it under the rationalization that no one was going to be seriously discomfited by the lack of these items, except maybe the toilet paper, and they could well be his means of survival. He wiped down the surfaces that he had touched, just to leave no trace should it be looked for.

Since it was midweek by his reckoning, he felt that he would have plenty of time to clear the area before his trespass was discovered. As he readied himself to leave, a pang of conscience hit him and he fished around in his pack until he found and withdrew the pouch that held his silver dollars. He hesitantly took out one and after wiping it down, laid it on the counter. He realized he was overpaying for what he had taken, but he couldn’t very well wait around and ask for change. Feeling better, he left the enclosed area the same way he entered, snapping the lock closed as he exited.

He entered the woods skirting the highway and began heading east, towards C1. 200 yards or so ahead of him was a space that was almost clear of cover, so he stopped just short of it to study his surroundings. He spent about 10 minutes surveying the road in both directions, looking for hidden surprises, but not seeing any. Finally convinced that there was no danger, he left the concealment that was his safety and crossed as quickly as he could manage. He then moved on through the brush until he came upon a trail leading down to the river bank. He needed to take a leak after drinking all that water at the refuse station and this spot was as good as any.

He leaned the shotgun against the nearest tree where it nestled into a crotch formed by twin tops and then took off his pack and leaned it against the same tree. He then took several steps to the left of the tree so as not to splash on his equipment as he was doing his business.


Sergeant Russo sat in the comfort of his cruiser, sipping on his cup of coffee, hot and fresh from his stainless steel vacuum bottle. He had parked his patrol car on a side road that gave him a good view up and down the highway while being nearly impossible to detect unless you were almost directly on top of it. The absence of a light bar on top helped to further blend into the brushy road as well as the brown color of the car.

He would be able to see better if he were in the established position out near where the road entered the highway, but he would be damned if he was going to sit out there in this miserable weather. He had been here since before dawn and was getting tired of this duty. He always seemed to get these shit jobs since he was investigated for corruption several years ago. Then there were the charges of excessive force and the matter of that punk whose head he had split open during a takedown. The little asshole was still in a coma, and he chuckled at the memory of the event. Overall, Sergeant Russo was a walking talking piece of shit with a gun, uniform and a badge.

Russo scanned the highway to the east, and seeing nothing of interest, turned his attention to the west. Just as he was taking a sip of coffee, he noticed what appeared to be a man crossing an area that was exposed to view for a short space. The man disappeared into the brush on the other side of the exposed area and was lost to view. Russo missed his mouth and poured the hot coffee down the front of his shirt. He burst into a tirade that would have turned anyone listening ear’s blue.

He brushed the coffee off the front of his shirt and piled out of the cruiser. He reached in and slid his baton into it’s holster and quietly closed the door. He was going to bounce this character as hard as he could to make him pay for his scalding! He ran across the road to the place where he saw the man disappear and began to follow the same path his quarry had taken. Once upon the path he slowed to a quieter pace so as to come upon his target unannounced.

There! Just a few yards away the asshole stood, apparently taking a leak. Russo readied himself for the take down, just as soon as the man had finished his business!


"Stop right there!" came an angry sounding command! He spun around to face the voice and was just in time to see a uniformed man with a badge launch himself at him, intent on taking him down. They hit the ground with a force that drove the wind out of him, rendering him momentarily unable to counter the violence of his attacker!

The LEO grappled with him like he was a Greco Roman wrestler, using his free hand, the LEO punched him repeated in the side of the head. Semi-stunned, he feebly fought off the other hand that grasped wildly at his throat. He returned a punch that caught the officer off guard, hitting him square in the nose and bloodying it. Snarling viciously, the enraged officer redoubled his attack and head butted him, temporarily rendering him incapable of responding further.

The LEO took this opportunity to grasp him by the throat with one hand, and began punching him again with the other. Slowly choking, he flailed at his foe with his right hand while fighting off with his left the hand that was stealing his life ever so slowly. The LEO ceased punching with his free hand and began to use it also to choke him with. Weakened as he was by days of substandard nutrition, his ability to respond to the 230 pounds of his assailant was severely diminished.

Blackness gathered around the edges of his vision as he slowly began to loose consciousness  from the lack of oxygen. His hands slowly fell away from his attacker’s arms one by one and dropped to his side as the blackness began to blot out his sight. As his right hand dropped to his side he felt a small fist sized rock under it with a roughness to one side.

He knew that he was going to die, almost welcoming the end of the struggle to survive. Then the face of his youngest son appeared in the place of the savage visage of his attacker. " Dad! Don't go, don't leave me!" it cried out! With dwindling energy and fading consciousness, he spoke. “ I won’t leave you!”, almost silently as his wind was cut off. He then used the last of his strength to grasp that stone and bring it sharply against the head of his would be killer.

The rock smacking upside his head was effective in stunning the LEO, feeble as the impact was. The attacker's grip loosened enough to allow sweet oxygen to flow once more into his victims lungs. He again swung the rock with more force and connected with the head of his attacker, knocking him nearly off his position of straddling his body. Severely stunned, the LEO made a weakened effort to get away from his victim. Again the rock struck as he regained strength lost from the lack of oxygen. It was a glancing blow, as the LEO was moving away from his reach, but the rough edge opened up his cheek with a gash to the bone, releasing a cascade of blood.

Now the LEO was down, groaning and retching as he tried to recover. He weakly crawled to the side of the LEO and struck once more, producing another gout of blood as the scalp peeled away, torn by the ragged edge of the rock and eliciting a sharp groan of pain from his downed foe. As strength flowed back into his body, a growing hatred of all those that pursued him welled up and was focused on his erstwhile tormentor. He lashed out again and again with his rock, not noticing when his enemy passed beyond all resistance and the skull gave way.

Slowly, through a red haze of rage, he saw that the conflict was over. He had survived, but barely. He crawled over to the nearby tree and wearily leaned up against it, severely drained by his ordeal. He looked over at the nearby product of his rage, what had once been a human being, and promptly threw up the little food he had in his belly. The rage faded away quickly now, replaced by remorse which flooded through him as the reality of what had happened sank in.

Then the truth hit him.

He was now a cop killer!

It didn’t matter that he was only defending himself against a murderous assault!

He would now be hunted mercilessly and most likely would never survive his arrest if he were identified and apprehended! Everyone “knew” that cops considered themselves above those that they were supposedly serving. Hah! You could hardly call it serving when you heard everyday of some LEO or another arbitrarily killing someone and being exonerated of all charges. People everywhere were becoming distrustful of the police, preferring to be victimized by the criminals rather than call Law Enforcement to deal with the problems. In some cases, the people dealt with the thugs in their own manner, and a body would be found that later would be identified as a "perp" with a police record.

All these thoughts raced through his mind as the adrenaline that had flooded his body slowly dissipated and the shaking began. After a time the shaking ceased and he begin to get cold. It was time to get moving and take stock of his current situation. He needed to hide the body as best he could to delay it’s discovery for as long as possible. He knew they might possibly bring in dogs to find the body and to pick up his trail.

He slowly rose to his feet and staggered over to the now cooling corpse. He checked the body for useable items and soon had a small pile to add to his collection. The most important was the .40 cal Glock 22 and 2 full magazines. He dragged the body down the riverbank and slipped it into the sluggish current. The river obligingly took the body and carried it slowly away from the bank into the faster current in the center. It soon disappeared from sight, further helping him delay it’s discovery for a while.

He gathered up the few items in the small pile, placed them in a Ziploc bag and stowed them in his pack after retrieving it from next to the tree. He also reclaimed his shotgun from where he had left it leaning against the tree. He needed to put some distance between him and this location before dark and it was looking like it would begin raining soon, fortunately for him as it would diminish his scent in the area and wash away the bloodstains. He threw the rock he had used for a weapon as far out into the river as he could, and then washed the dried blood from his hands and face. Looking about for any stray evidence of what had happened here, he saw none except the pool of blood seeping slowly in the earth. He kicked some loose sand over it and then moved off into the darkening underbrush along the river bank. C1 was close now, only half a mile away as the crow flies. Too bad he wasn’t a crow...


It was not far now, just behind those trees ahead and in the small clearing. An adrenalin surge flooded his body and he grew excited at the prospect of re-supplying his food and consumables! New boots and fresh wool socks! He smiled in anticipation and quickened his pace a bit. As he stepped into the clearing he received a horrible shock!

The ground had been tore up and several tattered and empty buckets that had held his supplies were scattered about the clearing.

His cache had been discovered!

It appeared as though C1 had been destroyed!

Friday, October 22, 2010

So It Begins

John lowered his binoculars and let them hang from around his neck. A grimace formed across his face. He almost didn't need the binoculars to spot the thousands of enemy planes and paratroopers in the sky. He had only used them to get a clearer view on the scene; they came equipped with night-vision. The black arrow-shaped blotches that almost blocked out the moon and stars and were darker than their surrounding environment contributed to their visibility. He could also clearly spot the blinking lights on the wings and noses. Their shields flashed as anti-aircraft missiles slammed in to the energy barriers and detonated far too early; having next to no affect on the planes themselves.

Anti-Aircraft tracer fire didn't seem to have much trouble penetrating the barriers. The high caliber rounds passed through the barriers and pierced the hulls of some of the planes; causing enough damage to knock them off course. Occasionally, the end result would be one plane passing through the energy barrier of another and slamming directly into it; causing both of them to take nose dives far down into the city below and explode into fiery balls. For every two that crashed into each other and exploded on the ground four more seemed to emerge from the darkness.

There were many brightly lit parachutes; almost too many to count. Fortunately; they made easy targets for the AA guns which began targeting groups of paratroopers instead of the planes dropping them to conserve ammunition. Streaming beams of blue light shot into the sky; connecting with some of the paratroopers. The resulting effect was beyond nasty. He recognized the weapon that was firing the beams; it was known as the "Evap Cannon". Cironian intelligence had suggested that the weapon was a myth; a piece of disinformation designed to deter Cironith from launching invasions involving paratroopers. The effectiveness of Theanorian espionage operatives seemed to know no bounds.

The cannon was a modified microwave beam that operated in the forty megawatt range and was narrowly focused and used to evaporate all of the water in a human being's body; essentially dehydrating the cells and "melting" a person in a single shot. The name “evaporation” was shortened to “evap” by the Militia and Military; they were all aware of what it did. The Cironian paratroopers struck by the weapon became slowly floating bags of minerals---they were dead long before they hit the ground. At sea level far beyond the city he could see the silhouettes of ships emerging from the stygian darkness. After spotting the ships he quickly put the pieces of the puzzle together.

For the moment, John was seated at the top of the hill with his back to a thick tree. It overlooked the scene far below. His Militia unit---five hundred to a thousand well trained men and women between the ages of fifteen and fifty---were directly behind him and all over the hill. They hid amongst the brush, trees, recently dug and fortified foxholes, and well-concealed sandbag-bunkers, weapons at the ready.

They each carried rifles similar to John's own rifle. They were known as "Type-47's" and "Type-46's"; rifles designed, built, and distributed by the lowest bidder and for the lowest bidder. They both had wooden stocks with receivers that were made of a lightweight yet incredibly durable polymer. The Type-47 was magazine fed; it's long curved magazine holding up to sixty rounds of thirty caliber bullets. The rifle was selective fire and had a lesser effective range than her cousin; the Type-46. The Type-47 could even be fitted with an under barrel 40mm grenade launcher. The Type-46 was clip fed, held less ammunition, and had a greater maximum effective range. The rifle could also be fitted with a red-dot sight.

John and his unit had been training for this day for most of their lives. At a very young age their parents had taught them basic marksmanship with small caliber rifles. As they progressed from their childhood into their teenage years they learned to shoot larger caliber weapons. Throughout their teenage years their parents would then teach them hand-to-hand combat, small unit based tactics, Guerrilla warfare, and pitched battle tactics. At the age of sixteen they could legally join existing units or form their own Guerrilla battle group. If they so chose they could even operate alone. Manuals were available for purchase that detailed the tactics behind operating as small units, recommendations for training, and instructions to burry weapons and gear. The manuals even instructed those who so chose to form small units to exercise heavy secrecy in regards to names of unit members and locations of buried equipment. A year or so before hand they were required to purchase their own rifles, handguns, ammunition, and equipment. If they joined an existing unit they were required to muster for training at the end of each day.

The city that the gigantic transport planes were dumping paratroopers into was thought a highly valuable piece of real-estate. It was both positioned on the coast and around a river. Supposedly, the city was home to a factory that produced ballistic ammunition, a seaport, an airport, and a fuel refinery. The funny thing was the Cironians believed it to be more valuable than it actually was. Many Cironian Generals were under the belief that the city was home to the "Offices Of Special Operations", the non-existent high command building for Theanorian espionage and Special Operations. The rumor was that the building supposedly contained documents and electronic data pertaining to the identity and whereabouts of Theanorian espionage units that had gathered a wealth of tactical data on Cironith and its standing army.

In reality, the building was a pentagon shaped tower falsely labeled as a communication network station that was completely useless to the Cironians. It contained documents with false information that held the identities of alleged espionage operatives and a ring of Generals in the Cironian high command that were supposedly plotting the assassination of the "all mighty one". To further solidify the illusion that this building was anything but false it was rigged with explosives and defended by a dedicated Militia unit made up of five hundred combat ready personnel. In addition, the refinery and the ballistic ammunition plant were both false structures---ambush sites constructed days before the invasion.

John pulled away his camouflage uniform's left sleeve. He glanced at the watch that occupied his wrist. It read "12:30" or "0030". He overheard a lot of tactical chatter over his radio headset. A lot of the chatter seemed to focus around "The Device". Hidden in the interior of a structure directly in the center of an island in the middle of the river the city was built around was the fabled device. "The Device" was a beacon that the "Weaponized Satellite Network" was designed to align with.

Once aligned, the specific satellite that had lined up with the device would fire a nuclear weapon that would detonate at a high altitude above the exact position of the beacon, generating an electromagnetic pulse. The network of weaponized satellites that the Theanorians had in orbit had other functions: they could shoot down incoming nuclear missiles and objects with a defensive particle beam, fire very destructive focused beams of ions capable of destroying entire cities, deploy a device into the planet's atmosphere over a specific target nation that would blanket it in radiation, and fire a much larger variant of the “evap cannon” that was capable of vaporizing either entire populations or bodies of water.

The network had many drawbacks. In order to fire the satellites had be lined up with a beacon positioned at desired target coordinates. They could not be activated remotely and to design a device that could activate and fire them remotely without the use of a beacon was illegal. To attempt to repeal this law was considered an act of treason that tended to result in those responsible finding themselves subject to being drug out by the people to be publicly hung. This was done so that the power of the network did not end up in the hands of any one person. In addition, the public had to vote on the use of the weapons. The Theanorian Government could not use the weapons without the consent of the public. Shortly after their creation and mass production the plans in regards to their construction had been destroyed. In an act of patriotism the scientists who had built them and worked on the network erased the details of their construction from their memories. In preparation for failure of satellite[s] or the loss of any one satellite spare plans were archived and hidden.

Theanorian politicians were consistently reminded that one such beacon was positioned directly under the building that housed the highest levels of Government and that if they did not Govern by the consent of the people or if they began to violate the rights of each province or even the individual rights of the people there would be hell to pay. Most of the other beacons in existence were issued to the Militia commanders and were given to espionage operators sent in to Cironith and in to other nations for swift and destructive retaliation in case of invasion.

At exactly 0130 one of the satellites would align with the beacon on the island and would fire a nuclear weapon to be detonated at a high attitude, sending every plane in the sky crashing down into the ground or directly in to each other. The theory was that it would also turn the enemy ships into useless floating hunks of metal. However, one thing the Theanorians hadn't counted on was the fact that they were EMP shielded. The burst would still put a huge damper on this part of the invasion. Which---based on what John was looking at----appeared to be a "Matthews" Scenario.

The "Matthews" scenario had been named after the citizen that had thought it up. A teenager by the name of Frank Matthews had suggested the scenario and how to prepare for it while training with his unit. He had suggested that Cironith----their closest neighboring country and one of their most bitter enemies---would attempt to invade Theanor using many different methods from many different directions at once. He had suggested that first stealth transports would drop Special Units behind their lines. The units would be dropped in as far as the center of the country where the central sensor network station was located. They would infiltrate the facility, destroy it, and disable the sensor network.

Once the sensor network was disabled they would send a signal back to their headquarters. Afterward, shielded transport planes would fly over the city believed to be one of Theanor’s most important port cities. They would drop in airborne divisions that would secure the city and then fan out into the countryside; securing and occupying the province town by town. In order to gain access to the entire nation the Cironian Paratrooper and Marine divisions would need to secure "Defiance Valley" and "Defiance Pass". Currently, both were under Theanorian Militia control. Due to rivers with destroyed crossings and mountains that seemed to go one for many miles the divisions would have to go through the pass and valley to reach the interior of the nation.

At the same time Cironian sappers would insert along the Theanorian/Cironian border and disable the EMP and Anti-Personnel mines. It was at that point that waves of infantry and armor would cross the border and begin securing valuable pieces of real-estate one by one. Boats loaded with infantry would also begin crossing River-Theanor. While that was happening waves of ships carrying waves of infantry and armor would attempt to make amphibious landings on the coasts. The only details Frank had missed in predicting the invasion was the fact that the vessels were EMP shielded and that the Cironians would be invading in waves. However, he had developed a plan to foil the predicted invasion that had circulated throughout the Militia units and had eventually caught the attention of the Theanorian Government and Theanor's small standing army. The plan was to: heavily fortify everything along River-Theanor, station units along the border, station units at the central sensor network station, position a weaponized satellite network beacon at Theanor-City, and position artillery units and units to cover them at the hills to the flanks of Theanor-City. Frank was now twenty-four and one of the five commanders defending River-Theanor.

"We've got tanks!" A voice frantically reported over the tactical channel belonging specifically to the 83rd "Wolf Men". John brought the binoculars back up to his eyes after looking toward the direction of the scouts who had made the frantic report over the channel. There were two of them. They were positioned in a tree stand about one thousand yards from the hill itself. The sounds of the battle raging in the city had almost drowned out the noise generated by the tank treads rumbling toward the hill. He recognized the massive tanks rumbling toward them; they were known as M-70 "Demons". They were Cironith's main battle tank. As they rumbled passed the scouts and towards the hill several missiles suddenly arched upward out of the canopy on the hill and slammed into a few of the tanks; turning them into smoldering hunks of metal. The resulting fiery explosions lit up the fields around them. Several of the tanks fired their main cannons; blasting the hillside. They never touched the Theanorians positioned on the hill. John stood up from his seated position against the tree and disappeared into the thickets; the battle had finally reached his neck of the woods.


Both hands gripped the machine gun. The barrel was long and cylindrical and had many holes for air cooling purposes. The weapon’s back was a rectangular box shape; belts of ammunition could be loaded into the weapon here via a top-opening hatch that provided direct access to the chamber. There was also the front and rear sights on this part of the gun; both of which seemed to be a part of an aging sighting system that had somewhat confusing equipment for making necessary adjustments. The bolt protruded from the right side of the gun. The trigger and handle to pull down on while she was being shot all protruded from the back. One of the greater features it had was that after a simple barrel change the weapon could fire 40mm grenades [with a slower rate of fire]. They say that she is heavy and she spits but she packs a punch. This particular machine gun was attached to a tripod; raising it from the ground a little and making it more controllable. Directly beside it was a multitude of steel ammunition cans; a belt of ammunition running from the closest all the way into the chamber of the weapon. One hand gripped the handle; the other grabbed the bolt, pulling it back and letting it slam forth with a satisfactory clank.

He could hear the rumble of their tracks and the roar of their engines in the distance. However, he could not see them. He was positioned in a sandbag bunker close to the base of the hill. It was among more than a few fortifications that protected the 83rd's flanks. Long grass, thick underbrush, and the occasional cluster of thick trees surrounded his position; the tree clusters getting thicker and thicker as one traveled up hill. A narrow dirt road ran right through the center of it all; passing in-between his sandbag bunker and another one concealed at a position directly across from his. Both bunkers were built around and in box-shaped holes in the ground; putting the barrel of the rifle that extended passed an opening to shoot out of at ground level. They were concealed by nets filled with grass, moss, and brush. A material that masked their IR signature lined the walls and ceilings of the bunkers. In the more open fields ahead of the bunkers there were anti-personnel mines. The road itself had more than a few EMP or "pulse" mines rigged in the center of it. There were also deep pits of thick sharpened wooden stakes among the anti-personnel mines.

His name was Billy. He wasn't very high ranking---just another team leader. His team consisted of four members counting himself. A teenager known by the name of Michaels helped reload the machine gun and held up the belts while Billy actually aimed and fired the weapon. One man in his late twenties named Simon stood off to the left with a pair of binoculars and a Type-46. The last man was named Mark. He was seated off to the right; his back to the sandbag wall. Both hands were wrapped around a pump-action shotgun with a tactical sling, rifle-like sights, and loops all over the sides holding shells. With the stock pressed tightly against his shoulder and both hands clutching the shotgun he kept it trained on the back entrance of the bunker. The massive hulking metal beast of an M-70 "Demon" emerged from the darkness. It rumbled up the road just as human silhouettes began to emerge from the darkness on either side of it. At that exact moment a missile shot straight up from the top of the hill and arched downward; slamming into an M-70 off to the right of Billy's bunker. The resulting explosion lit up everything that surrounded it on the road that it traveled along and killed a few personnel following the tank a little too closely.

The M-70 on the road directly in front of them came to an abrupt halt. The sound of the engine ceased. Inside the tank nothing worked. The crew struggled to figure out what was going on, banging some pieces of equipment with a wrench in a feeble attempt to get them working again. It was no use. The tank had ran over and triggered a pulse mine; the detonation of which was almost silent and invisible. It was now a useless hunk and would soon become a burning metal coffin for the crew inside; somebody with a rocket launcher hiding within the wild beyond the booby traps got off a lucky shot and nailed the fuel tanks.

Billy quickly lined the sights of the Machine Gun up with a group of five men. As the soldiers caught out in the open whipped toward the direction the rocket had come from Billy cut loose: fifty caliber slugs ripping the Cironians apart. The machine gun seemed to kick like a mule as he fired; recoil causing the weapon to rise. He maintained control over the weapon and accurately gunned the Cironians down with short controlled bursts.

When the slugs suddenly came flying down range the Cironians dived for cover. One Cironian soldier wasn't paying attention to his footing and fell feet first into a pit of sharpened stakes. He died slowly and painfully. Another triggered an anti-personnel mine while diving for cover. The explosion lit up his surroundings and he was riddled with shrapnel. As others triggered mines there were little pops and thumps and flashes of light throughout the field that most certainly were not the result of muzzle flare. By the time Billy had chewed through one hundred rounds a large amount of Cironians lay strewn in pieces all over the field. He then began to disassemble the Machine Gun while Mark slung his shotgun over his shoulder and uncovered a hatch hidden in the dirt. Simon kept watch with his rifle; scanning the darkness for silhouettes. Meanwhile, Michaels opened up a pouch on his assault vest; withdrawing an explosive charge. He set it on the back of a small stack of ammunition cans crammed with explosive materials in the corner of the bunker; rigging it to go off via remote.

Michaels then withdrew a small spider-like robot from the upper right pouch on his vest. He pressed a small button on top of it and set it down in the opposite corner of the room. As though it were a real spider it then began to crawl up the wall and build a web although it seemed to do it three times as fast as a live spider. There were miniature cameras all over the spider-like bot.

Equipped with their own night-vision and thermal sensors; the arachnid bot sometimes referred to as a "spider-cam" would have no trouble seeing in the dark. It also came equipped with "fangs" [they were more like pop-out miniature surgical syringes than "fangs"] that were capable of injecting the body with very deadly poisonous compounds or anesthetics. In the darkness you could barely tell the difference between a "Spider-Cam" and a true arachnid. If the Spider-Cam's "web" was disturbed it would send a signal to the explosive charge behind the ammo cans. While it sent the signal it would probably kill whoever disturbed the web, jump off of them out of the opening, and seek cover before the detonation. It was rigged to return to its "master" shortly afterward and was set up with IFF.

The web itself tended to automatically wrap itself around whoever disturbed it. Sometimes, the web would be something nasty; like razor wire or an acidic substance that would pour out upon disturbance. A map of the area with false depictions of their defenses was folded up on a small stool behind the Spider-Cam's "web".

Afterward, he stepped over to another corner of the room and picked up the parts of another machine gun; assembling them where the other machine gun had been and loading the new gun. When compared to the other machine gun there were many differences about this weapon. First off, it was operated by an Artificial Intelligence. Human intervention was only required to reload the weapon and activate/deactivate it. The weapon was fed via a large one-hundred round box magazine and it had a targeting system that tracked infrared. Unlike the Spider-Cam this weapon lacked IFF; if it detected heat it would open fire regardless. The best "IFF" was to either be behind it [because the targeting system didn't scan everything in its surroundings and the weapon generally didn't swivel beyond a half-circle] or to have one’s thermals well-concealed. The weapon looked almost exactly the same as the previous machine gun and was the same caliber.

While Michaels rigged the bunker to explode and set up the auto-sentry turret Mark very quickly loaded ammunition cans into a back pack and hoisted it on to his back; making haste down the hole with the others in tow shortly afterward. Billy had loaded the parts of the machine gun into a pack similar to the one that now carried a majority of its ammo while Simon carried the tripod on his back. The last man down concealed and closed the hatch behind him; locking it from the inside before climbing down. Carrying hundreds of heavy rounds on one's back seemed like an impossible if not highly challenging feat to accomplish. However, Mark was one strong son of a bitch.

The four of them then advanced through the underground tunnels toward their next position; a camouflaged ditch off to their right of their former bunker. Upon arrival Billy had already spotted the Cironians rushing in to both bunkers through their backs. Sixty seconds later the bunkers exploded into fiery balls. "You weren't expecting that, were you?" Muttered Billy under his breath as he erected the Machine gun and loaded a one-hundred round belt into the weapon.


The Cironian Sergeant executed a left-to-right sweep; scanning every inch of the bunker. To him; it seemed like your average defensive sandbag structure. It even came complete with empty shell casings on the ground! The only thing that struck him as odd was the fact that the Machine Gun was not manned and there was some odd machinery on top of it. This machine gun had given his comrades plenty of grief while the operators of the original machine gun had been moving through the tunnels below. The Cironian Sergeant and his squad had been forced to come at the bunker from the side under the command of a Lieutenant leading a platoon [which had been mostly slaughtered by booby traps and mines and ambushes]. When the bunker appeared to be clear after he and his men had stepped further inside he give the order for his men to look around for anything useful. It seemed, the Sergeant was the first one to spot the map and consequently the man to reach for it.

He had not spotted the web during his left-to-right sweep and he had not seen it once inside; it and the spider-cam seemed to blend in quite well. In a cocky manner he stepped forward; reaching for the folded map. The Cironian Sergeant cursed as he struck the web face first; both hands swiping and swinging to get the stuff off of him. As he stepped forth into the web it seemed to buckle inward and wrap around and stick to him. As the web buckled inward the Spider-Cam leaped off of its original position in the center of the web and landed directly on top of his head; very quickly crawling to the back of the neck.

The Spider-Cam's "Fangs" easily pierced the skin. It took mere seconds for the compound to travel through his blood stream. He fell over into the table with the folded map; his arms still swinging wildly as he hit the floor and knocked the table over. The Spider-Cam leaped off of his neck. It cleared the opening and scurried away just as the Sergeant's buddies whipped around to see what was going on. As they turned a red light on the explosive charge flipped on. It illuminated the wall behind the stack of ammo cans crammed with explosives. For a few seconds the charge let out a series of high-pitched beeps; giving one of the men just enough time to utter "Oh fu-" right before it detonated. The resulting fiery explosion tossed the sandbags of the bunker high into the air like rag dolls. The remaining men inside were killed instantly.


A gloved hand slowly lowered a small pair of binoculars. The hand's index and middle finger wrapped around the form of a rifle's charging handle. They pulled the charging handle backward and then let it slam forth with a satisfactory clack, the gloved hand wrapping around the rifle's stock once more. The thumb rested on the safety switch while the finger rested ahead of the trigger on the stock; the very end of which was pressed tightly against the shooter's shoulder. His name was Brian. He was a Theanorian Militiaman of the 83rd "Wolf Men". Twenty-four personnel were under his direct command. He and his Platoon hid among the cover of a creek bed; which was two miles to the north west of the hill.

Conveniently, the creek bed was three hundred yards directly behind the exact position that the enemy had been using as a staging area. During the last hour of fighting a scout had backtracked the tanks and had located where they were coming from. Large amounts of enemy armor and enemies on foot had been moving along a dirt road through the wilderness around to the backside of Theanor-City after having established a beach head thirty miles to the south of the city. Thankfully, that dirt road was miles away; if that hadn't been the case than they would have no chance of engaging the enemies ahead.

According to the scout the enemy had initially been five hundred strong and had been supported by a few groups of tanks. However, ambushes and failed attempts to assault the hill had caused their number to drastically dwindle; the latest report stated that they were down to fifty men and four tanks. Unfortunately, all of them were M-70 "Demons". The binoculars that hung from his neck were an interesting piece of technology. The pair came equipped with a built-in digital camera for taking recon photos, a range finder, and the ability to switch between various modes of vision [white-hot thermal, black-hot thermal, colored-thermal, and night-vision]. He had easily spotted the multi-colored blobs of the enemy past the trees through the binoculars. The rifle that his hands were wrapped around was known as an ST-61. The weapon was mostly made out of a light-weight yet incredibly durable polymer; the same stuff that other firearms and some of their parts had been manufactured out of in recent years.

The rifle’s performance was generally good. Although, she would occasionally show up to battle drunk---figuratively speaking. Essentially, the weapon had a lot of small parts in her that could very easily be lost while the rifle was being cleaned. Some of these small parts were not made out of the same polymer as some of the rifle's larger parts. Therefore, they would occasionally break although they were not highly prone to it. In addition; the powder would sometimes cause the ammo to jam up inside the rifle. However, the weapon was cheap to manufacture and so was it’s  ammunition which was a little smaller than thirty caliber. There had been complaints about her ammo from nations friendly to them that Theanor had sold these rifles to. The big complaint was that the round wasn't lethal enough. Brian had been in firefights using the rifle all night-----the ammunition seemed pretty effective to him. These complaints didn't necessarily hold water. Her parts were also capable of firing different sizes and types of ammunition after simple barrel changes. She was a long black rifle with flip-up sights, a rail that scopes or holographic/red-dot sights could be fixed to, a threaded barrel for suppressors [which also had a bayonet lug], a rail under the barrel that grenade launchers could be attached to, a receiver that could accept Type-47 magazines, and ambidextrous controls. The rifle's sights could also be very easily adjusted for windage, elevation, and distance. The case was the same with most scopes that could be fixed rifle's rail.

Brian's own rifle had a grenade launcher under the barrel and a telescopic sight. The telescopic sight itself was electronic and could switch between various reticules at the press of button. He had felt that those had been the only accessories he really needed. Out of the Platoon that he commanded he was the "odd man out" when it came to rifles. Everyone else had Type-47's and Type-46's and were shooting a completely different size and type of ammunition. But really, all he would have to do is swap barrels and he would be able to use their ammo. Slowly, he slid open the rifle's under barrel grenade launcher. From a pouch on his assault vest he withdrew a launchable EMP grenade and carefully loaded it into the launcher; quietly sliding it closed. He thumbed a button on his rifle's scope and fiddled with a few knobs; adjusting the grenade launcher’s sights for range.

Brian took three steps back; his right eye going straight down the scope. He angled the rifle upward with the stock still pressed tightly against his shoulder. His trigger finger eased toward the launcher's trigger while his thumb disengaged the safety. Those under his command knew the plan of attack. He had formulated it and briefed them a few moments prior. It would commence the second he fired the EMP grenade. He had zeroed in a trio of tanks. When he pulled the trigger he caught them completely off guard. The grenade detonated in mid air; the pulse raining down on top of the tanks and frying them. At that exact moment he switched modes on his scope and threw himself back up against the cover of the creek bed. His thumb flipped the selector switch to "semi-automatic" as he lined his sights up with the target that seemed the most important as those under his command had begun to fire launchable grenades of their own. They slammed into the ground near groups of enemies; riddling them with shrapnel and tossing them off of their feet.

By the time the Cironians had actually figured out where the grenades had been coming from the bullets had begun to fly. Those that had survived the initial barrage had sought cover behind the worthless hunks of metal that had once been called tanks or had just plain gotten lucky. They dropped to their stomachs or crouched on their knees behind whatever cover they could find and returned fire; the darkness beyond the trees lighting up with muzzle flare. Most of their rounds flew harmlessly over the heads of the Theanorians or turned thick trees ahead of them into Swiss cheese. Several fragmentation grenades even detonated far ahead of Brian and his men; giving them a nice fireworks show. A few Cironians got off some lucky shots that ended the lives of three of Brian's people. However, they seemed to be missing for the most part. That EMP grenade had disabled their night-optics and had essentially made them blind.

Satisfied that enough them had been killed he waved his personnel the signal to cease fire; flashing them a signal to fall back out of the creek bed. One Theanorian turned over the corpse of a fallen comrade on to a fragmentation grenade after removing its pin. It didn’t take the Theanorian long to catch up with the rest of Brian’s people. They had positioned themselves about one hundred yards from their original position. Each person under his command now hid behind thick downed logs or were prone close to very thick trees. They watched and waited; crimson flares lighting up the creek bed. After the shooting had stopped the surviving Cironians [fifteen men] had reloaded their weapons---some men fumbling to reload their weapons in the dark---and had checked themselves. They had withdrawn glow sticks and flares and had advanced into the creek bed only to find a trio of bodies and a lot of spent shell casings.

The flares and the glow sticks messed with Brian and his Platoon's optics for a bit. However, it wasn't enough to stop them. After a few adjustments the enemy could be seen as clear as day. With a fist held high Brian kept his men from opening fire; waiting for the opportune moment to engage the remaining enemies. It seemed, each Theanorian’s trigger finger itched. The time between then and the moment when Brian finally gave the order to open fire seemed like an eternity. They watched as the Cironians scanned the creek bed; going over the amount of bodies and shell casings in confusion and searching for foot prints. Finally, somebody turned over the booby-trapped body. The grenade rolled out in-between the man's feet and detonated a few seconds later; the blast killing him and knocking his corpse over.

As the other Cironians turned to investigate Brian gave the order to open fire. It was over before a minute passed. When the last man dropped dead Brian's people emerged from the darkness and stepped into the creek bed; bayonets protruding from some of their rifles. Occasionally, gunfire would roar into the night. Those in Brian's platoon without Bayonets that had discovered Cironian soldiers still slightly among the living had given them a single round to the throat and moved on to the next corpse; kicking it once before checking it for pulse. Those who had bayonets simply stabbed bodies, stepped on them in order to more easily pull the bayonet free from the corpse, and moved on to the next body. When they reached the enemy staging area they found a series of tents which they burned with controlled fires and a very important person among a pile of bodies. He was an unconscious Cironian Colonel. It only took one of Brian's men to restrain him and blindfold him.

An empty supply truck protected by a tank and a pair of armored transports arrived a few moments later. Brian and his men gathered up the extra weapons, ammunition, and gear loaded them into the truck. They then piled the bodies up and burnt them; covering the corpses of their dead comrades up and sending them back up the hill with the supplies. The Cironian Colonel was loaded into the back of one of the transports. For a moment Brian was lost in thought. He was seated on a downed log. His rifle hung from around his neck; both of his hands free for other tasks. The weapon's safety had been engaged and the muzzle was pointed away from his comrades. His right hand was wrapped around his canteen; the canteen resting on his knee. The cap was unscrewed. He had taken a swig shortly after sitting down.

Tonight, three men in his group had died. It was nothing compared to the casualties that the enemy had suffered just in the first hour of the invasion. However, to him it felt like three thousand men had died. Each man lost was a close friend or a relative. They were all brothers, sisters, close friends, husbands, wives, fathers, sons, and daughters. Words couldn't describe how hard they had been hit by the deaths of those three men. Yet it seemed they sucked it up and drove on as if nothing had happened. Brian couldn't quite wrap his mind around that phenomena. It confused him more when he called the wives of those three men over to offer them a chance to opt out of the rest of the fighting and they refused. Of course, he could see hurt in their eyes a mile away...and even spotted one burst into tears while seated at a different downed log. He interrupted their session of tears to move the Platoon out before hostiles moved up on them; falling back up the hill.

However, while he had been seated on that log the thought had occurred to him. The Cironians had kick-started what very well might've became the second world war---it wouldn't take long for the allies of both sides to attack each other and join in on the fighting going on in Theanor or launch strikes against Cironith. They were seeing the beginning hours of what could end up a very long and bloody war with a great cost of human life on all sides. Of course, the alternative was slavery which the people Theanor would refuse no matter what. However, in the back of his mind he wondered if it all could've been avoided. The answer to that unspoken question came very quick. It seemed to be a solid, hard "No!" The Theanorians knew they were in the right. They knew they held the moral high ground. This did wonders for morale; keeping their spirits higher than ever.

"So it begins..." Brian thought, stepping into the darkness of a tunnel that would take them uphill.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Short Update

I am glad so many of you have commented on 3oEight's story and have enjoyed it as I have. I get the privilege of editing his story's before posting, but I don't change them too much. I feel that the constructive criticism of the readers helps to allow the authors talents to grow by pointing out weaknesses in his presentation. We do discuss topics and such, but for the most part the story is 99% his.

I know many of you are waiting, wanting to boot me in the rear to see if you can dislodge another chapter of The Cache. I have been working on three different chapters concurrently and as I have the inspiration. Chapter 13 is halfway done, and is being held up by some details and a particularly violent interaction between the main character and an aggressor.

I seem to be attracting a lot of requests for linking to sites which are not related at all to the subject matter of this blog, nor are they of particular interest to me as their subject matter lies outside my main interests. I am considering a link policy because of this. And the requests show up in my comments as well as being emailed to me. Are these the spam comments that you are talking about receiving Mayberry? Hmmmm.... Decision coming soon!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Eagle On Fire

My youngest son is an aspiring author and film director. As a guest post, here is the prologue to one of the stories he is writing.
And hey, no Zombies!

One strong hand gripped the hook. One hook each were situated just above the main sliding doors of the stealth transport. Generally, they were in place so that gunners could tie cables off to something in order to prevent them from falling out. Stealth transports were essentially standard transports with the ability to turn invisible. The name of the soldier whose hand grasped on to the hook was unimportant. His role to play in the events to come was of far greater significance. Unknown to him and the other five men with him; he would go down in history for the orders he was about to carry out. One hand gripped the stock of a rifle; an M-43 Carbine. It was a short-barreled automatic-rifle [hence the name "Carbine"] complete with telescopic sights. Unlike scopes that could be fitted to bolt-action or semi-automatic rifles this one didn't seem to have that great of a zoom magnification.

The telescopic sight's crosshairs had a crimson tint to them and they were illuminated to make them more visible through the darkness. The M-43 only came with telescopic sights; she had never been built with open iron sights. Her stock was adjustable. Depending on the soldier’s needs, he could either collapse it inward or pull it back, making it usable within close quarters. It was made of a light-weight highly durable polymer and fired a round just under thirty caliber in size. There were various rails and attachment points under the rifle that would allow the soldier to fix accessories such as bayonets and grenade launchers to the weapon. The barrel was also threaded allowing suppressors to be fixed to it. The Commando's particular rifle had a tactical sling which kept it hanging from around his neck. The sling would prevent him from dropping the weapon as he made his exit from the transport. A suppressor protruded from the barrel of his weapon.

The Commando [often referred to as a Zealot] served the nation of Cironith. To put things simply; it was hell. For the most part the people of Cironith lived in constant fear. Free speech was virtually non-existent. They could not own property and the fruits of their labor went straight to their ruler; an evil man who ruled over them with an iron fist. He ruled through both brute force and trickery. He was both the political leader and the religious leader of the Nation of Cironith; something that he had carefully orchestrated over decades. Propaganda throughout the nation depicted him as some sort of god. Videos and posters called him the "almighty one". In the cities; electronic surveillance devices solicited the people's conformity and coerced their submission. Vehicles conducted random sweeps of strategically positioned video and audio devices.

If any one man or woman dare question "the almighty one" he or she would be dealt with swiftly and harshly. Men armed with submachine guns and clad in body armor and night camouflage would mercilessly assault the home of the dissenters. At that point they would either be killed or kidnapped under color of law. If taken; they would be hauled off to one of two camps. One was designed to "re-educate" them. The other was designed to work them to death or flat out put them to death in a very horrific and painful manner.

These camps had very horrific set ups. They had large barracks buildings that could house hundreds of people at a time, giant propaganda screens or buildings staffed by well-trained individuals who knew how to convert a person from their hard core beliefs [depending upon the camp], Gas Chambers disguised as large shower or disinfectant facilities [depending upon the camp], and a staff that would consistently experiment on or torture prisoners. Those guarding the prisoners were extra cruel to them. Their cruelty and brutality had many false justifications and rationalizations; most of which the guards consistently fed to themselves after receiving their own special dose of propaganda from the chain of command. If those who chose dissent openly were lucky, they would be killed in their home while they slept and would simply disappear off of the face of the planet without their neighbors ever noticing a thing.

Upon turning eighteen years of age the Commando had been barraged with a battery of tests to decide whether he was worthy of Military service. If he was found worthy of combat he would be forced into service. Afterward, he would be sent to an unspoken of third type of camp; a training facility. Some conscripts [everyone in the Cironian Military had been conscripted at some point] stayed in the camp longer than others. They were bombarded with propaganda while undergoing brutal treatment.

Commandos or Zealots specifically were singled out of regular infantry training camps for displaying great potential in training. They would then be sent to their own special training camp where they would be bombarded with propaganda harder than anyone else and put through a far more rigorous training course for a longer period of time than the average conscript. Rumor had circulated that Zealots were some of the fiercest warriors on the planet. However, there was no way to separate the facts from propaganda when it came to these circulating rumors.

"Thirty seconds!" The pilot shouted, the Commando's hand that free hand moving toward the transport’s sliding door. After pulling the handle forward he slid the door open. Doing so didn't seem to require a great amount of force. The Commando was a hulking monstrosity of a man. Far down below he could see the tops of the trees through the darkness. The wilderness below was in a completely different nation than that of the one he blindly served. It was a Nation known as Theanor; one of the last free republics in the world. There were few nations in the world that had not fallen to tyranny.

Deep in this wilderness the Republic of Theanor's small standing army had a facility that controlled the Nation's "Sensor Network"; a large array of special devices positioned in the sea farthest from the nation, on land at it's borders, and in the air. These sensors were capable of detecting the sound of tanks' or vehicles' engines, the heat generated from them, the sound of tank tracks, the march of massive infantry waves, the propellers and engines of ships at sea and planes in the air, and just their very presence within the "net". They could even track and detect all of those things miles out of the net itself. How it was done was beyond the scientific understanding of the Commando. However, that didn't matter to him.

All that mattered was that the "all mighty one" had given the order for his specific unit to disable the central control facility responsible for operating the sensors. This would allow the Cironian Military to begin surprise attacks all over the country and essentially launch an invasion. What most of the conscripts didn't know was that they would never 'take' Theanor militarily. While it's standing army had approximately four hundred thousand combat personnel; it had somewhere between fifty to sixty million citizens sworn under oath as members of its many Militia units to defend the republic. There were some sixty to seventy thousand citizens a part of small five to twenty-person cells/teams solely in existence for the purpose of resisting occupation of provinces or the country itself. And of course, there were millions upon millions of citizens armed to the teeth willing to fight to the death for the republic and for liberty.

The transport came to a halt. On the hard metallic floor of the transport in front of his feet there was a coil of rope. It was tied off to a hook positioned on the floor. Shortly after the transport came to a halt the Commando lifted the rope with both hands and tossed it out of the opening; he grabbed on to the end shortly afterward and slid down into the concealment of the trees. Six men followed shortly afterward. When both feet were on the ground the men were on the move and the stealth transports disappeared into the night. Like ghosts, they slithered through the black toward the compound without making a sound. The target compound was a well concealed structure. In fact, it looked like an impenetrable wall of moss and brush. It was as if the compound was a part of the mountainside. The men patrolling it were equally well camouflaged. If they weren't equipped with extremely rare very expensive personal "stealth" devices they were dressed from head to toe in camouflage suits that looked as though they were made of vegetation. Beneath the visual concealment of the camouflage suits there was a material designed to conceal a human being’s body heat; essentially making the shooters in the trees invisible to IR and thermal sights. The guards hid amongst the trees and in ditches concealed by nets filled with brush and twigs and leaves. The very same material shielded those in the ditches from unfriendly eyes.

Shortly before their arrival the commandos had pulled Thermal and Night-Vision goggles over their eyes. They quietly slithered forward under the belief that the enemy would stick out to them like soar thumbs. In reality, they had walked in to a trap and had made the same deadly mistake that their leadership had made in invading Theanor in the first place; they had heavily underestimated their enemy. Unknown to them they had dropped directly into the center of a large amount of well-hidden infantry who quietly stalked them. It seemed; the main entrance was right within their grasp. The lead Zealot was seconds away from hacking the door control panel; his fingers hovering right over the buttons just as it happened. The hairs on the back of his neck stood erect. A chill shot up his spine. A very uneasy feeling occupied the pits of his stomach.

Without warning; a nozzle suddenly emerged from a concealed port in the panel. A green mist shot out of the nozzle; spraying the lead Zealot directly in the face. He stumbled backwards and coughed a few times; his lungs struggling to expel the poisonous substance that had just entered them. He fell backwards on to his back. As his vision began to slowly blur he spotted the Theanorians emerge from the darkness out of the corners of his eyes. Each Cironian Zealot took three Theanorian soldiers with him before eventually going down himself. However, it didn’t matter; they had captured the lead Zealot. As his vision slowly descended into the black he watched as a group of four men in gas masks and camouflage lifted him up by the arms and legs and began moving towards a truck that slowly backed up towards them out of the darkness.

“Where exactly are we supposed to take this one?”

“Central wants him---they don’t know much about Zealot Operations within our borders so we’re taking him to be interrogated.”

The last remaining Zealot of the first team that had been sent in began to scan his surroundings as the darkness receded. While he had begun slowly recovering from the affects of the gas that had rendered him unconscious he had eavesdropped on the conversation of the Theanorians guarding him. As far as he knew he was being taken to a place called “Central” to be interrogated. Through the open back of the big truck that hauled him he could see the road they drove along. He could faintly see the silhouettes of thick trees on both sides of the road and the dark outline of an armored transport with a 25mm gatling gun and what looked like a pair of rocket launchers on either side of the turret.

Both of the Zealots hands were cuffed behind his back. At the moment, they weren’t cuffed to anything. So; he was quite free to stand up and move. However, there were ten well-armed soldiers of Theanor’s small standing army riding in the back of the truck along with him. With his hands cuffed and the amount of men riding along he was at a bit of a disadvantage; an escape attempt would likely result in him being gun-butted back into unconsciousness since the Theanorians needed him alive. The Theanorians possessed a powerful drug that would suppress a lot of his higher brain functions thereby taking away his ability to tell a lie when asked direct questions. His size and the fact that he was highly resistant to most forms of interrogation were bypassed by this drug. If they successfully brought him to central; he would be interrogated and shot and a good many Zealots in hiding within Theanorian borders would be exposed and killed.

He was in the process of considering and rejecting escape plans when it happened. Without warning, the vehicle hauling him suddenly came to a complete halt. The sudden unexpected stop jolted them all forward. The soldiers sitting closest to the Zealot kept one eye on him; each armed man in the truck checking their weapons before pouring out through the back and setting up a defensive perimeter. The few that remained behind in the truck kept rifles trained on the entrance and one eye on the prisoner. It was at this point that he sprung into action; slowly but surely he began to pick the cuffs that restrained his hands all the while maintaining the appearance of being unconscious.

Another large group of armed men poured out of the back of the armored transport. They had been forced to open the rear door manually due to failed or non-responsive electronic equipment. Some provided assistance in setting up the perimeter while several others fanned out into the forest. Those who had done so never returned to the convoy. Many of them found that their night-vision optics would not function. They had been forced to fire off flares and activate glow sticks to get a visual on their surroundings. In so doing they had lit their position up like a Christmas tree. The Cironians who had come to the aid of the captured Zealot had no trouble zeroing them in.

Phillips---a Theanorian soldier using the Armored transport for cover---kept one eye on the truck and another on the forest ahead. Both hands were wrapped tightly around his rifle; clutching it as if it were his only lifeline and the most valuable piece of machinery he had ever laid his hands on. The hairs on the back of his neck shot up like rockets. A chill slowly crept up his spine. His thumb flipped the switch of his rifle from ‘safety’ to ‘fully-automatic’ as his hands pressed the stock of the rifle tightly against his shoulder. Slowly, his eyes went down the sights toward the darkness beyond the silhouettes of the trees. An eerie constant hiss emanated from the crimson flares that illuminated the dirt roadway. What seemed like an eternity passed; the Zealot working quietly and patiently at picking the cuffs that restrained him.

“Something is very wrong here...” was among the last thoughts that ran through Phillips’ head. Mere seconds afterward one of the first bullets whizzed directly past him; passing harmlessly above the armored transport. It was followed by a loud crack and a roar; muzzle flare illuminating the position that the shot had come from. Other soldiers hadn’t been so lucky. In the first few seconds five guys were down; they were shot directly in the throat, between the eyes, or both along with twice in the chest. Those that were prone or behind deployable cover or vehicles fired their own weapons at the last seen positions of the muzzle flare. One man withdrew a cylindrical shaped grenade closely resembling a spray-paint canister and ripped the pin out of it. He held down the spoon for two seconds before emerging from cover and hurling it into the darkness. Its detonation rocked the perimeter, the illumination from the explosion revealing several silhouettes that were caught in the blast; they were now riddled with shrapnel and dieing. The man who had thrown the grenade was shot directly in the throat; he dropped to the ground like a rock with a heavy thud.

It seemed; every time muzzle flare illuminated the darkness behind the trees Theanorian troops dropped dead. Phillips had sent three-round bursts down range toward the last seen positions of the muzzle flares; unknown to him he wasn’t hitting anything but tree trunks and vegetation. A few men emerged from the back of the truck; reinforcing the remaining troops. Some of them were gunned down the second they stepped out of the back. It left two men alive in the back to guard the prisoner; who struck during the confusion. He struck fast and hard and seemed to best the first man physically faster than the other soldier could react to; whipping the dead soldier’s side arm into action and pumping three rounds into him before he could even get his weapon up. In the prisoner’s particular case; the affects of the gas had worn off of him faster than the Theanorians had predicted.

Crimson liquid splattered all over the armor of the vehicle in front of Phillips. His vision slowly began to blur and he choked for a few seconds before he fell backwards and his rifle slid from his hands. A thirty caliber round had pierced his neck from behind; very quickly putting an end to his life. Dark figures emerged from the black behind him; gunning down any remaining Theanorian troops as they made their advance toward the truck in the center of the convoy [the vehicle up front being another armored transport]. It wasn’t long before they met up with the Zealot, equipped him with replacement gear and a stealth device, and brought him back on course to taking out that central sensor facility. An hour later the facility exploded.

Northern Theanorian Border, 2200 Hours [10:00 PM]

Quietly, the Cironian sapper crawled through the minefield. Most of the mines were Anti-Tank; electro magnetic pulse devices designed to disable tanks or large armored vehicles that triggered them. Unless carrying Nanites or mechanical implants inside their bodies they were completely harmless to the average human being. And for the most part they were hard for organic organisms to trigger. However, if a Tank or massive amount of tanks set them off they would all be worthless scraps of metal. The grass in the Theanorian border fields were long enough for infantry to slip through unseen. Which was precisely the reason why the Theanorian Militias had hidden anti-personnel land mines amongst the Pulse Mines. They had predicted [rightly so] that the Cironians would attempt to sneak infantry across the border. This sapper was just one of five that crawled through the fields shoving a combat knife through the dirt. A device had already been placed to trigger each of the EMP mines at once; causing the field to become harmless to the waves of Tanks and Armored transports that were supposed to cross the border. The tanks would be supported by waves of infantry that would help seize and occupy two or three towns across the border.

The sapper stabbed the ground with his combat knife; the blade connecting with the metallic surface of a mine. Quickly, he dug the device up. The electronic anti-personnel mine was in some sort of sophisticated EMP shielded shell. The triggering mechanism was rigged up to trip wires running between some rocks in the field. Inside the center of the EMP shell there was a spiked object that would shoot out spinning from the mine. In mid air it would detonate. The explosion would toss shrapnel about; ripping up anybody in the path. After he had dug the mine up he carefully cut the trip wire without setting off the triggering mechanism [which was a small pin the wires were connected to.] This was the third anti-personnel mine that he had located and rendered harmless. The other sappers in the field had also disabled a total of three mines each and they had reached the edge of the known parts of the field. "Trigger the device!" The commanding officer of the sappers ordered in a low tone of voice. Shortly afterward all of the EMP mines triggered at once. Their shockwaves covered the entire minefield all the way across the border. The rumble of engines and the stomp of marching feet could soon be heard in the distance.

"Shit..." the Theanorian border Militia scout muttered. Her and her team of three others had been training for this moment all their lives. The invasion drills had finally become a reality. Quickly, she spoke into her headset's mouthpiece. She sounded as though she were deeply disturbed and under massive amounts of pressure. From her position down low in the long grass now far to the South west she could see huge M-70 "Demon" heavy tanks rumbling over the border; their engines roaring into the night. Each seemed to have anywhere from five to ten armed men jogging directly behind them. "Bandit One, Fox Den-Actual; Eagle on fire!" The response came through seconds later. It sounded as frantic as the scout had when sending the message in the first place. "This is Fox Den, say again Bandit One?!" Perhaps the distant roars of the engines had drowned out her speech? Nah, they were too far off. Maybe there was static? Either way, she had been asked to repeat herself. She did so in an even less calm tone than she had before. "Eagle on fire! Fucking Eagle on fire!" The code phrase 'Eagle On Fire' essentially meant that the Cironians were crossing the border. Unknown to her she had uttered what would become a historically famous line.

Militia Personnel had mustered within a short time span. It took them under ten minutes to fortify sections of the town and conceal their fortifications and grab positions at defensible locations. Teams hid up high in buildings with rocket launchers and machine guns. Singular Militiamen hid on top of buildings with an array of different rifles. Children under sixteen and adults not a part of the organized Militia who had opted out of the battle slipped out of town with rifles and gear of their own using Army Stealth Transports and troop carrier trucks that had very quickly arrived just for that purpose. It was the same case in all of the border towns whose populations had trained for this moment for most of their lives. When the tanks started rolling down the dirt roads they were ready for them.

Town Of GoldsTon, Twenty-Two Miles south west of Northern Theanorian Border crossing, 2230 [10:30 PM]

The town of GoldsTon had a long and bloody history. It was established back in the days when Theanor was run by a series of trades & crafts based guilds who only had their own interests at heart. The townsfolk were under the direct yoke of the guild that established the town. They were forced to mine Gold in the nearby mountains and pan for it in the river that ran directly through town. The miner's guild had hired mercenaries from the Soldier's guild to keep the people working. Unfortunately for the miner's, the people eventually learned that they outnumbered the mercenaries. A decade after its establishment the people rose up against the mercenaries and the miner's guild. The magistrate from the guild was publicly hung by an angry mob and his home was both looted and burned. Although the mercenaries had inflicted heavy casualties to the angry townsfolk due to superior armaments and skills they were eventually overwhelmed and killed. Finding it more profitable to side with the people of the town, Mercenaries stormed the miner's guild and forced them to sign a document stating that the mines, the town, and the land surrounding it belonged to the people and not the guild. A year later and the town was it's own free city state.

For one hundred years one guild after another tried to take it over because of the riches in the area. The people; who had gained the resources to become self-sufficient had produced their own weaponry and had been training on their ground. With the home field advantage and a concept of an early warning system involving scout riders; the town repelled one assault after another and successfully forced most of the guilds to abandon their attempts to take over the town---militarily. Numerous attempts at subversion and coercion were noted of in the town's history. It seems, all of the attempts failed. Its example later sparked other successful rebellions against the guilds that eventually resulted in the formation of the Theanorian republic. At about the same time the Cironian nomadic warrior tribes united. A few years later they attempted to cross the border into Theanor and invade the country with false justifications of the area being their "rightful homeland".

The town was the site of several historic battles during that time that resulted in the Cironian warrior tribes retreating back across the border. The town was surrounded by both vast open fields and large clusters of forest. The River that ran directly through it was called "The Golden River". It directly connected to "River Theanor" in the deep west and filtered out into the ocean to the far east. There were several hills covered in thick wilderness to its direct North and South and various dirt roads leading to mountain side gold mines jutted out to the south east. It was the first town anybody crossing the border would run into. If they were crossing the border with hostile intentions it would be the last.

The Cironian commander lowered his binoculars; a grimace forming over his face. Something was terribly wrong. Aside for the sound of the rain pounding against the leaves of the trees he and his infantry battalion hid amongst everything was quiet---almost too quiet. The town was completely silent. Not that he would be able to hear it from his position but it was as though there wasn't even a peep from a mouse. The lights of every visible building were off, the drapes were closed [and in some cases the windows were visibly boarded up], and there was next to no sign of movement. What he did not see through his binoculars were the men and women prone on top of the buildings, hiding inside beyond the boarded windows, and the Theanorian Militia platoons dug in at camouflage positions in the western forest closest to their position on the forested hilltop. Unfortunately for the commander the Theanorians knew right where their enemy was; well-hidden scouts had watched them get into position and had relayed the information back to the Theanorian commander in town.

The Cironian commander called his second in command over to him. "When are the tanks getting here?" He asked, part of him nervous about entering the town without armor support. They had arrived at the town twenty minutes ahead of the main force. In fact, his battalion had been the first sent across because the sappers who had disabled the mine field were under his command. "Last transmission said their ETA was fifteen minutes" [ETA=Estimated Time of Arrival]. "Alright" he said, adjusting his radio so that he could be heard through each soldier's headset. "Alpha and Bravo company; move through the woods and hit the town at the flanks! Once you breach the town perimeter secure it building by building. Charlie Company; dig out the mortars and start sighting the town in just in case! Move it, people!" Unknown to him the Commander had just signed the death warrants of two hundred men. Although part of him screamed for him to shell the town before sending his boys in to capture it he sent them in first anyway. Worse, he made an even bigger mistake by neglecting to wait for the armor to arrive. Like ghosts, the silhouettes of some two hundred men went left and right down the hill under the oversight of their company commanders. The first company to run into trouble was Alpha. They were unlucky enough to have maneuvered faster than Bravo company. The feet that belonged to Alpha Company's first Platoon passed directly beside the opening of the fortified and concealed ditch without the soldiers ever realizing it.

Some twenty men hid within the cover and concealment of the ditch. They were under the command of a young Militia Lieutenant named Benjamin. As he stood there watching the feet of the enemy pass right by the opening he held up a closed fist; one hand still on his automatic-rifle. The word was passed to each man in his platoon to stay quiet and wait for the signal. The hairs across the back of his neck stood erect. A feeling of nervousness irritated the pits of his stomach. He counted the silhouettes that passed the fortification; both distant and close in. The cold fall air brought a sting to his lungs and bit his skin. His eyes narrowed and focused on the enemy. His fist seemed to shake from being held in place for a prolonged period of time.

Was it fear that gripped him or a heightened sense of things? To the untrained eye it appeared to be fear. However, that argument would've been defeated when his fist opened and his hand slowly went back to his rifle. Slowly, he brought the weapon up and pressed its stock against his shoulder; his right going straight down the sights toward the closest target. At the exact same time a man operating a machine gun lined up its sights with what he guessed was the path of five different Cironian soldiers; leading them with his weapon. The silhouette of a Theanorian Militiaman leaned around the thick trunk of a tree and slowly lowered to a crouched stance; aiming his bolt action rifle toward a silhouette at the rear of the advancing Cironians.

A man among Benjamin's platoon gripped a remote detonator. Unknown to them, the Cironians were walking directly in the center of a kill zone. Remote and proximity explosives had been rigged up at positions of cover and on the path they tread on the surface at the lowest point of elevation. Militia were in positions along both sides of the kill zone; roughly twenty Militia per side. As each man and woman lined up the sights of his and her rifle at the enemy the one man with the detonator slowly lowered his thumb toward the button. The button his thumb was currently over would trigger hidden explosives along their pathway; which the Cironians had predictably moved through without ever noticing a single explosive device. His thumb pressed down on the button and he then whipped his own rifle into action. The explosives detonated, roaring loudly and rocking the land. The light from the small explosions provided enough illumination for the shooters to clearly see their targets. They timed their fire almost perfectly with the blasts; the first volley of bullets and the explosions dropping about half of the platoon. There were small thumps that echoed into the night as Cironians scattered in confusion and were greeted with proximity mines strategically placed at positions of cover. Some Cironian soldiers sought refuge in a ditch at the base of a slope only to be greeted with grenades rolled down into the ditch. Little pops and thumps that illuminated the ditch were followed by blood curdling screams.

And, it got worse for Alpha company. Those few Platoons that had been passing through that kill zone weren't the only ones suffering. Minutes after the shooting had started one particular platoon seemed to be assaulted by a 'ghost'. What they had encountered were five guys with long-ranged rifles peppering them with gunfire from different directions and constantly encircling them.

One man would fire once and move to a new position; his old position turned into Swiss cheese by machine gun fire. While the other man was moving another would fire and pick off somebody of importance. The five of them surprisingly kept the platoon pinned long enough for somebody to hurl in a couple of improvised poison gas grenades. While the gas slowly killed many of them the five men would fall back to a safe distance. A few others fell pray to ambush sites similar to Benjamin's. After a sufficient amount of Cironians had been killed at the sites the Platoons holding the positions would pull back through a tunnel network that had been in place since before the invasion which connected to some of the various concealed defensive ditches; leaving expedient booby traps in their wake. When the shooting stopped and the survivors eventually located some of the defensive ditches; they were greeted with a nice 'fuck you' from the Theanorians which generally resulted in half if not all of everyone who had checked out the ditch dead and a sealed tunnel.

Alpha company was wiped out in exactly thirty minutes. The two companies that the Cironian commander sent in to reinforce it found Alpha Company's commander hanging from a tree with a noose around his neck. They continued to push toward the town and suffered similar grief; arriving within town limits only to be wiped out by the forces actually inside the town itself. About half of Bravo was able to pull back toward the hill. During their retreat they suffered heavy losses; men were shot in the back while running away. Very few of them actually made it back to tell the tale. At that point the commander gave the order to shell the town. However, seconds before the first Mortar Shell could be shoved down it's tube something bigger and more powerful than a mortar shell slammed into the hillside. It detonated with such force that it flung the trees back, uprooted and tossed some into the air, and annihilated two hundred Cironian soldiers. The blast also knocked the commander on his ass and disoriented the remaining forces on the hill. While they were stunned from the blast some three hundred Theanorians that had flanked around to the rear of the hill using the tunnel network [which was also connected to the Gold Mines] quickly charged up hill. With the initiative they held the upper hand and very quickly slaughtered over half of the remaining Cironian soldiers before retreating down the hill and disappearing back into the tunnels.

As he regained his composure the Cironian commander realized what weapon the opposing side had nailed them with. Among the Cironians it was known as the "Mother Of All Cannons". Officially, it was called the "Massive Ordinance Attack Cannon." There were only three known of by the Cironians to be in existence. Their intelligence gathered electronically by hackers suggested that all three of them were defending River Theanor. In truth, there were about seven in existence. One currently defended River Theanor, another defended "Defiance Pass", one had been sold [with a lot of ammo] to the townsfolk of GoldsTon for a large amount of Gold, two of them were stashed deep in the mountains with a lot of other supplies and weapons for a 'rainy day', two of them faced the southern border, and a third was under the possession of the 5th artillery battalion stationed near Theanor's most important port city. The scary thing about these bad boys was that they fired a very destructive shell from ridiculous ranges far beyond anything normal artillery cannons could hope to match.

"Where the hell are the tanks!?" The Cironian commander screamed. For the most part their advance had been delayed by a combination of things. Rough terrain, bad weather, ambushes from Guerilla cells with anti-tank weapons, booby traps, and Snipers slowed the advance of the main force. In the end they arrived an hour late to scoop up the gory pieces of this particular battalion. "I have no-" Another powerful shell from the MOAC slammed into the hill. Since the previous shot a spotter in town had told the operators to adjust their fire. This time, the shell landed in the center of the hill and finished them off. The Cironian commander was in pieces all over the hill with the rest of his men. The only reason they hadn't been annihilated by the MOAC earlier was because the weapon was still being sighted in and loaded. This battle was over before it started.

Nation of Cironith, Cironian Capitol, 2300 Hours [11:00 PM]

It seemed like there were millions of them. The soldiers being loaded into the transports stretched as far as the eye could see; as did the transports themselves. They were gigantic arrow-shaped planes with large engines. The soldiers being forced into the cargo holds were all paratroopers. They would be dropped in to secure Theanor's most important coastal city, towns on the other side of River-Theanor, and in to the direct mainland of Theanor. Unknown to all of them there was a surprise waiting for them. The man known as the "All Mighty One" watched from the balcony of his palace as they were ushered into the planes. An evil smile formed across his face. Even with reports coming in that the forces advancing across the border had been slowed and that an entire battalion had been wiped out he felt that he was going to win this war. As he walked away from the balcony a dark silhouette flashed up on a great screen in the main room of his palace. A dark, demonic voice emanated from the screen. The sting of anger was easily detected in the voice. It seemed to be coming from the silhouette that had suddenly appeared. The second he saw it he felt fear crawl right up his spine like a chill in the cold.

"Your actions regarding the invasion of Theanor have been well noted." The voice stated. "Understand that we put you in power; we can easily take you out of it!" Although he was slightly in fear he was brave enough to retaliate to that last comment which stung him a little. "Just who the hell do you think you are? Nobody can take me out of power!" Without warning, there was an explosion of pressure and pain all over his forehead and face. A blast of unprecedented force hit his entire body like a giant fist or a gust of hurricane-strength wind. He fell backwards on to the floor. His nose began to bleed. The voice now sounded darker and full of more anger than it had been. "By invading Theanor you have kick started a chain of events which will lead to your downfall and the destruction of everything I and my collogues have worked so very hard to create. Do you realize that they have predicted the near exact details of your invasion strategy? We will not protect you from the consequences. We will no longer communicate with you. Goodbye, Cironian." The screen then exploded and showered the floor with glass. Despite their anger and distaste for "the all mighty one's" actions regarding the invasion of Theanor; the event did provide an opportunity for some behind the scenes work and would provide an excellent distraction. However, without the "all mighty one's" empire they would have some trouble regaining their foothold in the world...or would they?

Republic Of Theanor, "Hilltop Alpha", Nineteen miles south east of Theanor-City, 0027 [12:27 AM]

The truck ride had been an hour long. Most of his unit had very quickly gotten themselves into position on "Hilltop Alpha" by truck. They had only begun digging in during the last half-hour. The plan had been to ride in from "Defiance Pass" and provide security for the 5th Artillery Battalion that was supposed to be arriving with a MOAC and some other big guns within the next half hour. Of course, nothing ever goes according to plan. His name was John Green; Commander of the 83rd "Wolf Men", Defiance Valley Volunteer Militia. Although there were women in the 83rd the name seemed to remain the same. “DVVM” also aimed to cover Defiance Pass. John had gone to bed early at around 2100 hours [9:00 PM] but had been roused from sleep several hours later when he got a call ordering him to muster his unit. He kissed his wife and children goodbye before driving off into the darkness to dig in at the hill. Once in wasn't long before he spotted planes coming out of the darkness. The invasion had begun...

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