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.