Fall of the Angel

    • Space Diaries

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    • Fall of the Angel

      Well going to make a hopefully long enough short story regarding the background of James Raymond Taylor of the UNOE. So here is a short info of the man of the thread.

      Name: James Raymond Taylor
      Gender: Male
      Date of Born: May 12th 2318
      Place of Birth: South Australia, Australia
      Blood Type: B+

      Chapter 1 - The Bond of a Brotherhood
      Chapter 2 - Treat the New Kids Nice...
      Chapter 3 - I Never Signed Up for This!
      Chapter 4 - Death From Above!

      Any comments, criticism and/or feedback will be very much appreciated. But remember to NOT post them here but instead post them here. This is pretty much part of the Future War series anyway. Thank you and enjoy!
    • Chapter 1: The Bond of a Brotherhood

      Year 2343 April 17th United Nations Time
      2130 UNOE Time
      Fort Garland Canteen

      The night was very young and as a result was filled with activity even in a boot camp. With graduation in no more than two more days, the new UNOE soldiers decided to celebrate early by throwing a party in the canteen of Fort Garland with the approval of the commanding officer of course. Despite the "chaos", James decides to sit quietly in a corner reading an article regarding the ongoing war with the Red Alliance. The subject always interested him. After all, "knowledge is your best weapon against your enemy".

      Sam also known as the child prodigy among them who was six years younger than James approached his best friend with two pints of delicious alcohol. James too focused on his article did not notice Sam until he sat down next to him. While sipping some beer, Sam offered his friend a drink that which he declines by shoving it aside.

      "Why so tense James?" said Sam with his breath filled with the stench of alcohol. James continues to ignore him. "This is a party James, enjoy it! What still not happy you only got a 95% score on advanced mathematics? 95% was pretty good. I think...." continued Sam while slurring a bit. James then stopped reading and gave Sam a friendly smile.

      "Well Sam one it's because I don't plan to get dragged to the infirmary" quoted James recounting an earlier incident when Sam and James had a drinking game. "Either way I feel pretty lazy to go party right now. That PT exercise earlier was horribly tiring" said James while rubbing his thigh still aching. Sam looks at James disappointingly which made James chuckle a bit. "Oh what the hell, shut up and give me a drink Johnson!"

      As time flew quickly so did the amount of beer the party was drinking. Soon enough, Sam and James were seriously intoxicated which humorously James when drunk who in contrast with his "normal" stoic self never shuts up. This of course loosened his tongue considerably which he begins to blabber nonsense. With one final drink, the alcohol scores another as James is knocked out cold.

      "Uhh James? Are you alright?" pondered Eric Warrick a fellow UNOE cadet who was prodding James' unconscious body. Sam while drinking remembers that James never could hold his glass. Noticing that it was getting late, Sam and Eric then picked James up and decided to drag him back to his bed which fortunately for them was not too far away.

      "So Sam, exactly how much did he drink?" asked Eric curiously. "It better not be more than 3 pints Johnson. You know as well as I do that James despite being a pretty good martial artist is an extremely weak drinker. So how much?" continued Eric mockingly.

      "Well, 3 pints. He gulped down 3 pints" responded Sam while trying badly in hiding the real figures.

      "Just 3 Sam? Are you absolutely sure it was just 3 pints?" interrogated Eric as he opened the door.

      "Yes it was just 3. Plus 9 I believe or maybe 10" answered Sam embarrassingly. Finally reaching James' bed, Sam and Eric just throws James on it. They then took a deep breath of relief as James was slightly bigger than both of them and the alcohol they drunk was not helping.

      "He is going to kill you Sam when he wakes up. Well if he survives the hang-over! Get a bucket for him, he'll definitely need it" said Eric as he wipes the sweat on his forehead. Then he proceeds and lays down on his bed staring at the ceiling. "So Sam where are you transferred after grad?" he continued while closing his eyes.

      "Not too sure. I believe its the 59th Infantry Div, 27th Reg and idle the 91st, 154th or 155th Battalion as a field officer. As I said I'm not to sure" responded Sam.

      "You got assigned to the 155th? Those guys are a living legend. One of the best of the best of the UNOE killing those RA scum."

      "Told you E, not to sure yet. Still it would be nice to be CO of that Battalion" said Sam. "Sam Johnson.. No, General Sam Johnson, leader of the legendary 155th Battalion kicking RA :censored: with the best the UNOE has to offer!"

      "Dream on Sam. I bet you won't even reached Major if you somehow get accepted into it" responded Eric to Sam's fantasy which was interrupted with a yawn. "It's getting late Sam, time to get some shut eye. Can't wait to see that reaction James is going to have in the morning eh Sam? Turn off that light when you're done reading. Gave me nightmares once. Something to do wit-" continued Eric before finally dozing off to the dream world.

      "Night Eric, hope you do get nightmares"
    • Year 2343 April 19th United Nations Time
      1300 UNOE Time
      Fort Garland

      Graduation day has arrived and with Sam, James and Eric finally receiving their military license. Standing at attention among the hundreds of other specially trained officers dressed nicely in their uniforms is a tight neat row, a perfect example of military discipline. Having literally to be forced to stand perfectly still under the sun for exactly one hour the commandant of the fort, Major Eli Nexus steps up to the podium to deliver his long awaited speech.

      Major Eli Nexus, Commandant of Fort Garland, Janson Prime wrote:

      Ladies and Gentlemen of the mighty UNOE,
      You have done our nation proud as you have been through what few would go through and achieved what few would achieve. It has been no more than seven years which most of you have begun your training and in no more than one year; you shall be proving yourselves on the field fighting the Red Alliance rebels. Some of you will fall in combat but remember, your sacrifice was not in vain! For you are loyal and brave servants of Mother Earth. Death shall not and will not deter you from your duty. Remember this above all, “United we stand and divided we fall!”

      As soon as Major Nexus finished his speech, he took notice to his sweating soldiers. Apparently standing in a heavy dress uniform in the 45°C heat was not particularly enjoyable. Having a small sense of humor himself, Major Nexus slowly took off his combination hat and wiped some sweat off his forehead. "You may all throw your hats now" ordered Nexus which the cadets did so enthusiastically cheering as they did.

      Year 2343 April 19th United Nations Time
      1330 UNOE Time
      Fort Garland

      Being finally initiated into the military, the trio returned to their barracks and rested having a nice conversation among each other as it may be their last. Unlike their usual conversations on fantasizing about what they are going to do during their years of service, they instead asked each other on where they are getting transferred. Sam of course still boasting that he was accepted into the 59th Infantry Division who was more or less the parent unit of the legendary 155th Battalion.

      "Shut up Johnson, now James where are you going?" asked Eric sarcastically.

      "If I remembered correctly it was the 121st Mobile Infantry Division as their Intel officer" replied James proudly.

      "The 121st? Damn, they are in that unit" quoted Eric wittily.

      "They? Who are they?" asked a clueless James.

      "They are the 973rd Battalion a.k.a the "Bloody Hooks". Those guys are pretty famous like stupid's 155th. They are also crazy. I heard they even once fragged their own CO once cause they don't like him and even HQ are scared of them. Watch your back James or else they'll hook you." warned Eric while also teasing Sam. James however wasn't bothered as he was happy enough to be a intelligence officer mostly safe from combat.

      "So when are you guys transferred?" asked Sam.

      "On the 27th" replied Eric.

      "In about a month" replied James sadly.

      "A month? You unlucky :censored:!" teased Eric. "And you Sam?" continued Eric as he realizes he never answered.

      "Tomorrow at 0100 hours. Looks like I'm going to go first guys" revealed Sam as his friends were obviously shocked. Eric being the resident wise guy attempts to find some justification in this. James however just keeps quite knowing that he coudn't do much to change anything. Sam just kept quite unwilling to give Eric an answer which infuriates him enough to storm out of the barracks. James pads Sam on the shoulder and persues Eric.

      Year 2343 April 19th United Nations Time
      1341 UNOE Time
      Fort Garland

      "Eric, Eric!" called out James as he runs towards his friend.

      "What do you want Taylor?" responded an angry Eric.

      "Why do you have to be so hard on the kid E? It's not like he decides when he's going."

      "You don't get it do you James? It's just-" said Eric before he rudely shoves James aside then just walks into the distance. James returns to his barracks and clears up the commotion among his other "roommates". He then walks over to Sam and offers his help to pack. Sam reluctantly agrees.

      "Why did E get so pissed?" asked Sam who was bothered by his friend's reaction.

      "It's just he's lost so much Sam. Lost both of his siblings in the war. Why do you think he joined in the first place?"

      "Yeah, I though he would be some kind of novelist or something"

      "He actually does. Although he's terrible at it but he's trying. Maybe one day after his service, he can actually do that. Well maybe just cheap novels but at least novels" joked James as he helps Sam pack.

      "United we stand divided we fall huh?" said Sam quoting the earlier speech made by Major Nexus.

      Year 2343 April 20th United Nations Time
      0052 UNOE Time
      Fort Garland

      While waiting for his vehicle out, Sam and James have a brief story telling session between each other regarding what they did before they joined. Both came from entirely different backgrounds but still enjoyed each other stories as much as they could as this may be the last time they would ever see each other in years or perhaps lifetime. When they heard the M-20 flying across the background, both men leave the barracks to the landing pad. It seems that few other officers were also being transfered to the 59th Infantry Division among them a John Redwood who James never really liked.

      Then as if fate anticipated it, Eric came running towards Sam giving his own goodbyes. Despite him being rather resentful that Sam was getting deployed earlier than both of them, he ignores that for this moment as he too fears that this could be his last chance to tie up loose ends.

      "Hey Sam, sorry about earlier" apologized Eric shamefully.

      "It's okay E. I told you not to smoke that" humored Sam as he attempted to break the tension. Despite being a rather bad joke, all three of them chuckled. Suddenly, Eric gave a very surprised look and dug into his pockets. He then removed an old 22nd century coin.

      "Here you go Johnson, you need this more than I ever do" said Eric as he offered the antique coin.

      "But E, this is your lucky coin"

      "I know but you are never lucky Sam. Always getting your :censored: into trouble and having me and James here coming to save it. You keep it"

      "Thanks E" thanked Sam as he puts the coin in his pocket. After checking almost everyone, the co-pilot calls out Sam's name to board the craft. But before he does, James hatches a plan. A plan that would bind them.

      "A pact you two? Whatever happens we'll always be friends" suggested James as he puts his hand forward.

      "Well we could be millions of light years away. Never ever seeing each other again other than the mortuary but what the hell" joined Eric. Sam soon followed. With a wave of goodbye, Sam boards the craft which the pilot soon impatiently takes off with James and Eric watching it fly to the distance. This was the last time they will ever see Johnson for a long time.
    • Year 2343 April 25th United Nations Time
      0723 UNOE Time
      Stane's Hill

      Since graduation day, many cadets are being transferred away to the front while those who were not transferred instead had to stay at Fort Garland continuing their training to solve the issue to idleness. To keep the cadets fit, Major Nexus forces PT exercises onto them on a regular basis. While running up a mountain known as "Stane's Hill", James tries hard to put aside his friend Sam for now as he has to concentrate. Eric running next to him breaks his concentration.

      "Hey James, how far did we go this time?" asked Eric curiously. James closes his eyes and thinks. A few seconds later after a deep breath, James is ready with his answer.

      "We crossed about 5 miles E. Now shut up, I'm trying to concentrate" replied James snarky.

      "5 miles? :censored:! And this is supposed to be like what 13 miles? We are slow today" complained Eric.

      "James is right E, you really do have a big mouth!" taunted Dean Sunderland. Though a friend of the two, he never did like Johnson.

      "You and what army skinny?" replied Eric. James who was tired and gasping for air glared at Eric.

      "Really, E just shut up! It is muddy and drizzling now. So please keep quite"

      "Fine... Fine I'll shut up. But give me a gun and I'll show you who should shut up!" boasted Eric.

      "Eric... You're stupid" quoted John Vellian who everyone just chuckles at his "joke".

      When the soldiers reached the top of "Stane's Hill", they dropped on the ground and rested. Normally, climbing up the mountain was no problem for them but the rain and condition of terrain was an exception. On top of that, they are also forced to climb it at a much earlier time than usual disallows the cadets from having their breakfast which makes even worse when they never had dinner the day before.

      "Oh damn. Captain Turachi really hates us today" cried Eric.

      "No he doesn’t E. He just hates that big mouth of yours" replied Dean.

      Year 2343 April 25th United Nations Time
      1121 UNOE Time
      Fort Garland Canteen

      Returning back to base at exactly 11 AM, James and his unit changed out of their PT gear and lines up at the canteen. Due to the fact that they were very late, most of the better foods have already been gobbled up especially they very demanded pancakes. After settling for baked beans and mashed potatoes, James takes his seat along his usual table. While taking a spoonful of beans and putting it into his mouth, James notices numerous empty seats. Symbolizing the amount of cadets sent to the front. Eric as usual sits opposite of him shoving down as much food as he can into his mouth. Dean enjoys his warm meal while reading his monthly UNOE propaganda magazines. While eating his meal something just popped up into his mind.

      "Eric, something just came to me. What unit are you being transferred to?" asked James politely.

      "79th Infantry Division, 500th Regiment, 98th Battalion, Saber Company" answered Eric as he gobbles up his food. Eric noticing that James was not eating his food prompts him to ask "Are you going to eat that?"

      Looking that he was half done, James just pushes his plate at Eric. He then stands up and leaves the canteen heading straight to the library. James always liked to read poetry with his favorite being the legendary 16th century poet and playwright, William Shakespeare. Memorizing the library by heart, he walks up the literature section and picks up a book regarding the subject.

      As the saying goes "Time flies when you're having fun". This was very true in James' case. James always enjoyed the company of books if his friends are not around. While the hours past, James notices the time. It was nearly time for Eric's favorite exercise of the day, target practice. Fearing he could be late as punctuality was essentially prided in Fort Garland, James made haste to the target range.

      Year 2343 April 27th United Nations Time
      0900 UNOE Time
      Fort Garland

      The hour has finally arrived and the M-20s was waiting on the landing pads. Despite it's size, the sound of it's engines gave out a soft and gentle humming noise barely noticeable. Taking advantage of the UNOE policy that cadets are allowed to say their final goodbyes, James decides to do so as this might be the last time he will see his friend. Eric who was dressed neatly in his dress uniform strongly contrasted agaisnt the BDU James was wearing.

      "So this is it James. I'm going off to war. Sigh, I hate this tear jerk moments but well this could be an exception" said Eric as he tries to hold in his tears.

      "E you're always an idiot. Shut up and don't die out there okay?" joked James as he pads Eric's shoulder.

      "I won't James. I won't die" said Eric as he boards the M-20 waving goodbye to James. When the M-20s' engines sound off, everyone stood clear of it as per protocols. As the M-20s flew off into the distance, James just stands and waves goodbye. Of the three, James was the last one to leave.
    • Year 2343 May 20th United Nations Time
      0902 UNOE Time
      Fort Garland

      Finally being deployed on the field, James waits in line to get onto one of the numerous M-20s waiting on the landing pads. Despite the weather being unsuitable for flying, time was of the essence and they were on a very tight schedule with no exceptions. Within a short time, it was his turn to board the craft. James climbed onto the M-20 with his friend; Dean helping him onto to it.

      Finding a sit in the already crowded M-20, James makes himself as comfortable as possible as this will be a long journey. The loud engine of the M-20 hums in harmony with the raindrops tapping the windshield of the craft. Soon enough, the M-20 was full and the official signaled the pilot to take off. The pilot responding in thumbs up then seals the airtight door of the M-20.

      "All passengers of the M-20 please stay clear of the doors when opening or closing and we here at UNOE Air hope you have an enjoyable flight" said the pilot into the speaker in a Chuck Yeager like manner. The pilot with a press of a button turned on the engines for take off. The loud but powerful EZI Engines lifted the M-20 into the air although not in a particularly smooth fashion.

      With all of the M-20s off the ground, all of them then flew toward the horizon. While being a very shaky ride, it couldn’t have really bothered them. In fact it was all part of "basic training". If they were riding on the past model the M-19, this would of course be suicide to fly through a thunderstorm but the M-20 was the answer. Though much slower than its predecessor, it has a built in shield generator that makes it much more durable.

      Year 2343 May 20th United Nations Time
      1243 UNOE Time
      Septimun Airspace

      Flying for a few hours can be extremely boring especially if they are strictly ordered to keep quite. Most of the passengers on the M-20 are already taking a nap to past the time but James having slept early the night before is unable to. Dean as usual is diligently reading his UNOE propaganda magazines. James trying desperately to past the time leans over to Dean and breaks his concentration.

      "Hey Dean, you got something that I can borrow?" whispered James as he doesn’t want to wake the sleeping soldiers. Dean then gives James an approving nod and passes him the magazine he was reading and then leans back. James takes the magazine from Dean's hand and then opens the magazine. Bored, James then just flips open a random article. Dean already tired drifts off the sleep.

      While reading the magazine, James finally understood why Dean and Sam just loved to read them. The magazines were well written and inspiring. Soon enough he shot through the entire magazine in no time. James then wondered why he used to hate these magazines. Maybe it was because he was less passionate about the war, maybe it was just the technique they used at the time but whatever it was, it does not matter now. After a few hours past as usual, James puts the magazine neatly onto Dean's arms and moves back. James finally tired drowses off to sleep.

      Year 2343 May 20th United Nations Time
      1500 UNOE Time
      Arakshi Shipyard

      "Right on time" said the pilot to himself as he decelerates the M-20. Flicking a switch he turns on the speaker on the M-20. "Wakey, wakey everyone. We are here at Arakshi Shipyard. Please remember to act politely and don't forget your belongings because I certainly don't give a :censored: about it if you leave it here" announced the pilot calmly.

      The soldiers then woke each other up while stretching their arms as their journey have been very uncomfortable. As the M-20 landed with a rather loud thud, the soldiers ready their belongings as they are desperate to get out of this "rat cage". As the pilot disengages the lock of the doors, the vacuum sealed doors open. "We hope you enjoy your time with UNOE Air, please consider us again for your future travels" joked the pilot as the soldiers get out of the M-20.

      Both James and Dean jumped out of the craft together. Moving to a safe distance from the M-20, they started stretching their aching bodies as lying still in a very confined space had such a "wonderful" effect on them. While they were stretching their aching muscles an officer, a colonel to be exact walked up to them. Their response was just saluting to him.

      "Are you 2nd Lieutenants James R. Taylor and Dean H. Sunderland?" asked the colonel. Both men nodded.

      "Follow me"
    • Chapter 2: Treat the New Kids Nice...

      Year 2343 May 20th United Nations Time
      1520 UNOE Time
      Arakshi Shipyard

      Though curious, James and Dean were not allowed to say even a word. Then James noticed something on the officer's waist; a rusty old hook. Judging by the cynical tone this officer was speaking in and the fact that he owns a hook, James deduced that he was part of the 973rd Battalion or at least was as their espirit de corps was legendary even among cadets.

      Following this mysterious officer for a few minutes, they finally reached a building that stands out from all of the other "high class" buildings; an old warehouse. Stopping at it's large metal doors, the officer simply knocked on it. Within seconds, James and Dean hear a loud crank like of gears. Very soon enough, the large doors open completely albeit not in a particularly smooth way.

      The officer then side stepped and "politely" welcomed them into the building. Not wanting to breach UNOE protocols, they simply do so without question. What they saw when they entered the building shocked them. Men and women all clad in ragged UNOE uniforms gathered around barrels for heat. Some with noticeable injuries others have a certain "homeless" looks about them. Could this be the legends that are feared? James had his doubts but he could not have a word as orders are orders. It was just not a soldier’s place to ask.

      Walking up to what was somewhat a command tent. The officer then walked inside it and ordered James and Dean to follow. The interior of the tent is a stark contrast than of the warehouse. Holographic projectors, radio jammers and whatever top military equipment there was; it was there. Standing at attention while the command staffs were doing their business, the colonel walked up to a woman. Whispering something into her ear, she smiles and then turns around to look at James and his friend. Giving an approving nod to the colonel, he just continues his business and leaves the tent.

      The woman then walked up to the two who were obviously nervous. The women who had silver oak leaves on her collar signifying that she is a lieutenant colonel had yellow-blonde hair and blue eyes. Her age however was remarkably young for her rank as she was about James’ age. Looking at Dean she asked did the basic protocols for new-comers into her unit. After Dean has given her the appropriate amount of information she needs, she then turned her attention to James.

      “Serial number lieutenant?” asked the woman.

      “Serial Number 5122318343” replied James nervously.

      “Name?” continued the woman flirtatiously.

      “James R. Taylor… James Raymond Taylor madam” answered James.

      “So Lieutenant Taylor am I right on your name?”

      “Yes madam”

      “You have beautiful eyes Lieutenant” said the woman. James not used to be in this position just gave her a nervous chuckle and blushed a bit. Noticing James’ reaction, the woman then backed off him and walked towards the table to grab some files. The woman then began browsing through the files while James takes a deep breath and stands at attention.

      “Alright, it says here that both of you are assigned from Fort Garland to my unit as our intelligence officers, am I correct?” said the woman. Both of them simply nodded.

      “So then lieutenants get to work but first, you should get to know more about the unit first but remember. They are not as friendly as I. Do you have any questions?”

      “What is your name lieutenant colonel?” asked Dean.

      “You’re intelligence officers. Figure it out!” teased the woman.

      “So what do we address you then?” continued Dean.

      “Hmm… Let me think…You can refer to me as Fox. That’s right you can call me Fox. Now go meet some of the captains of the 973rd for a briefing on what the hell we are going to do and I’ve said it once I will say it again; they are not as friendly as I am, you would do well to remember that lieutenants. Dismissed” answered Fox. Both men saluted before turning around and leaving the tent. James puzzled takes a deep breath to calm down.

      “That was odd” quoted Dean.

      “She was probably just messing with us Dean. We should go talk to one of the captains for more information” replied James before walking towards a captain. James salutes to the captain and then the basic protocols.

      “Sir, Lieutenant James R. Taylor reporting for duty sir!”

      “At ease lieutenant” said the captain. James looking at his tag shows “Adam Barry”. The man also carries the Blue Sword of Honour; one of the highest military decoration of the UNOE. James rushes as he thinks of what he wants to say as Adam gives him a very impatient look. Finally piecing the words together in his head, James begins.

      “Captain Barry, Lieutenant Colonel Fox directed us here for our briefing. If you were to be so kind as to brief us on what is going on” requested James. Adam gives James a rather frustrated look.

      “We are mobilized to attack Mark III. We leave this god damned shipyard at exactly 2300 today. That’s why I am in such a lieutenant and is there anything you want to say to waste my time, please go ahead. Having that badge on your arm immediately means you are entitled to do so” replied Captain Adam. James not wanting to provoke that man just salutes to him politely.

      "Alright James, we have homework to do" said Dean.
    • Year 2343 May 20th United Nations Time
      1536 UNOE Time
      Arakshi Shipyard

      James and Dean are confused by the erratic behaviour of the 973rd but first things first; they have a job to do. Despite that their duty being rather boring, they are very relieved that they wouldn’t have to get shot. Walking towards what seems to be the intelligence post, James starts to help them pack as they are leaving soon. While packing the equipment, James is utterly puzzled on why there are no other intelligence officers.

      "Private, where are the other Intel officers?"

      "You wouldn’t be here if they were still alive now would you? They got terminated" answered the soldier. Not particularly surprised of his answer on where are they but why did they die as intelligence officers though capable; were exempt from combat duties.

      "Grenade accident, someone was practicing his throws and it slipped of his hand and landed where those guys were at. A shock but no one really missed them. They were terrible Intel offs, why you think we're under strength lieutenant?" continued the soldier while James is having a very grim look on his face. "Hey cheer up lieutenant! Name's Jonathan Davids from Buenos Aries, Earth" said Jonathan as he attempts to cheer James up.

      “Explains the accent… So anyway, you guys must live a kind of a tough life huh?”

      “It’s in the badge lieutenant” said Jonathan as he points at his badge. The motto right below the logo reads “Live Rough, Fight Tough”. James just simply nods as he doesn’t plan to offend him.

      “So uhh Lieutenant Colonel Fox is really something huh?” quoted James as he desperately wants to change the subject.

      “You mean …Fox yeah commander. She a nice gal but don’t let those eyes fool you. She has years of experience hidden within them”

      “Years hidden? But she’s about my age”

      “Child soldier, word is that her old man is or was top brass at a time. He never liked her but she was more or less fond of him. Sort of an inferiority complex thing she used to have at the time. Or at least that’s how I remember how the story goes. Anyway, how the hell do you think she made it to Lieutenant Colonel at her age? What she slept with a general?”

      “No just pretty amazed how she got to Lieutenant Colonel that’s all. You don’t see someone of her age get that high into the brass”

      “Well never really did ask her myself, she has that look that makes even the most blood thirsty veteran feel… warm. No idea how but she just does”

      “Why does she want us new people to call her Fox instead of her name?”

      “You know what, don’t know don’t care. Either way you’re going to find out sooner or later with later more likely”

      “I see, so how about Captain Barry? What’s his story and how did he get that medal?”

      “What Bison? He’s a war veteran, killed lots of people. Also I heard that he was in this battalion for maybe 20 years or so”

      “Wait he’s called Bison? 20 years? Shouldn’t he be a Lieutenant Colonel or at least a Major by now?”

      “From what I heard he passed up the promotions, didn’t per say liked the attention. About his badge, not to sure about that one though. As I’ve said earlier, he’s been in this Battalion for a long time. Hell, I’ve only been here for 7 years! Enough talk okay; this is tiring enough than it is loading all of these pieces of :censored: around”

      Year 2343 May 20th United Nations Time
      2041 UNOE Time
      Arakshi Shipyard

      Spending five hours lugging around heavy equipment was no piece of cake. Finally packing the last of the equipment, James sits down on a crate and takes a deep breath of relief. As he wipes the sweat that was dripping down his forehead, his friend Dean approaches him.

      "Saw you made a new friend there James"

      "Names Jonathan Davids, pretty nice guys from the others of the 973rd so far"

      "Got any ideas on what Commander Fox's real name is yet?" asked Dean curiously.

      "Nope, it seems to me that this is some highly guarded secret among these guys. Don't try asking them and definitely don't piss them off. Provoke one of them and what is left of you could be mistaken for a ketchup spill" warned James in a grim manner.

      "Really? That doesn’t sound very nice... So it's best we keep out of trouble. Oh right! The ship we'll be boarding is a Talos Class Battleship called Hidden Agenda whose captain goes by the name of Elliot Denson. Seems like a pretty decent guy according to his file" responded Dean.

      "Hidden Agenda? What is this; did they come up with names from one of Shakespeare’s poetry?" replied James sarcastically which both men laughed. Taking time to think, an urgent question appears in his head. "Wait his file? How did you get his file?" asked a shocked James.

      "I'm an intelligence officer James and this is what I do. Besides, it wasn't too hard to get this kind of information. They practically have these kinds of things lying around"

      "Yeah and hope you can keep this streak up Dean. One wrong move and we're a step closer to death!"
    • Year 2343 May 27th United Nations Time
      0520 UNOE Time
      The Hidden Agenda, Above Mark III

      It has been about a week after the departure of the 476th Fleet from the planet Hyperion V and within hours the 973rd battalion and the entire division will be deployed on Mark III. Throughout the entire week of waiting, James and his friend keeps themselves occupied by memorizing maps, complex mission details and any information trivial or important regarding the planet and the operation.

      Looking at his watch, James notices it is time for them to show the results of their week long work has produced. James being better at speaking than Dean volunteers to present the intelligence data they gathered. Dean after downloading the briefing chip hands the still warm device over to James. Looking curiously at it as it this so called "modern" information storage device before putting it into his pocket.

      "Okay just to get things right, this is called operation "Turquoise Fist" and we are deploying at Sector 87 with the 210th and 2471st battalions am I right?" asked James.

      "Yes and don't fo-forget that the 973rd are going to be the spearhead in th-this"

      "That stuttering problem isn't getting any better eh Dean?"

      "Actually i-i-it is improving. Guys at the in-infirmary say it’s just the stress. It will eventual-l-ly go away. I wil-l-ll be fine James"

      "If you insist Dean. Just relax and try not to work too hard. Go read your news or something" advised James who is worried for his friend.

      Year 2343 May 27th United Nations Time
      0523 UNOE Time
      The Hidden Agenda, Above Mark III

      "Ladies, gentlemen and fellow countrymen of the UNOE. Today you know why you're here. We are about to engage the Red Alliance forces on Mark III. This mission is known as "Operation Turquoise Fist" and objectives are to cut off their supply lines between Mark II and IV thereby severing them of vital information. Any questions so far?" briefed Colonel Luke Adams before cutting into a question.

      "Why don't we just blow the hell out of them? Isn't that what we have the armada for?" asked Private Davids.

      "Well we could have but it would be far more valuable and easier to capture a planet as you all know, our weapons are highly radioactive. This is why we don't authorize orbital bombardment so easily. Any more questions?" said Colonel Adams. "Well since there are none, Lieutenant Taylor will brief you on the details"

      "Alright we are to be deployed Sector 87 with the 210th and 2471st battalions at 0920 hours which should be under the cover of night. The RA resistance there is real heavy so you'll have to fight hard" said James while some soldiers of the 973rd simply scoffed at the figure.

      "To be exact we'll be deployed at 410487 which minimal artillery support as it is expected to be very rainy. Division is sending all intelligence officers and battlefield advisors planet side as something seems to be jamming transmission down there. After insertion point, you are to engage Fort Gustaff which is 5 miles north of the drop site via the new M-21s. Objectives are to capture and hold Fort Gustaff for as long as possible"

      "Why the hell do we have to hold it for?"

      "Our role in Operation Turquoise Fist is just to be a distraction trooper. While holding Fort Gustaff, the 210th are to capture Fort Englehart the main goal of the operation. Engehart is the main communications centre of Sector 87 and it is vital they capture it"

      "Anyway, Mark III unlike IV is like going to a permanent cold shower. Terrain is expected to be in a swamp and local wildlife is unknown, so don't go petting something that may look like something that came out of a children's cartoon. Also expect to be there for days without reinforcements as the Intel crew are setting up base at our drop site"

      "Regarding the RA forces there. Estimations of their strength are about 3 divisions lead by from what we intercepted as a Colonel Colette Tatou. 2 of them will be definitely guarding the forts but the last one is one constant patrol making it impossible to track it under these conditions. Good luck and see you planet side"

      Year 2343 May 27th United Nations Time
      0920 UNOE Time
      The Hidden Agenda, Above Mark III

      James sitting in a M-21 while all dressed in his battle gear. His friend Dean however is unable to join him in the operation due to "medical" reasons. James definitely enjoys the newer M-21 so far as it has much more room than its predecessor the M-20. When the siren sounds off, the M-21 takes off and flies into the planet.

      As the M-21 reaches the atmosphere, the friction causes the M-21 to shake violently as if in an earthquake. Some soldiers even vomited as a result. Then the sound of anti-aircraft fire is heard. James nervous as it is first time facing the enemy take a deep breath. Suddenly, the passengers of the M-21 hear a loud explosion. Thinking its just an unlucky hit they stay calm. They could have never been more wrong.

      Apparently the Red Alliance is much smarter than the UNOE think. They carefully chose this specific region to defend. The thunderstorms both functions as a cloaking device and an anti weapon. The soldiers could do nothing but stay calm and pray for a safe passage. Unfortunately the fates were not so kind. Getting on the engines blown the M-21 spiralled out of control. All James could hear was the screams and mutterings of everyone before it was all black out.

      James opens his eyes but saw nothing but fire and corpses and the smell of burning fuel. Struggling to get out, James crawls his way out of the wreckage on to the ground. After reaching out James still suffering from the shock faints. A figure then comes and drags James from the wreckage and into the jungle.
    • Chapter 3: I Never Signed Up for This!

      Year 2343 May 27th United Nations Time
      1042 UNOE Time
      Sector 87, Mark III

      James woke up with a headache as the crash gave him a bad concussion. This however is the least of his concerns. James should consider himself lucky as he is the only survivor of the crash but he is not alone. The Red Alliance had anticipated the attack therefore giving them the upper hand. Hearing thunder and feeling cold drops of water dripping on him, James sat up and analysed his surrounding. Though relieved that he was saved by fellow UNOE soldiers, the headache he suffered was unbearable. Taking a few moments to shrug it off, James then realised he was in a muddy ditch.

      "Good to see that you're still with us sir" saluted the soldier.

      "Ugh I guess so. Thanks troopers" said James. "Anyway, looks like my bird went of course" continued James.

      "Funny you should mention that sir. Pretty much everyone is of course"

      Puzzled by his comment, James takes a deep breath to calm him self down and gather his thoughts. "Of course? Which unit are you from trooper?"

      "I'm from the 210th Battalion sir. My bird went down not too far from here. There were others but well..."

      "I see. That would explain your manners unlike my unit" joked James which the soldier laughs politely. "We have to get moving trooper. This storm isn't going to get any better soon and night on this planet is about 20 hours. You got a spare weapon? I lost mine in the crash" briefed James before he request for a weapon. The soldier gives James his sidearm.

      "So what's your name trooper?"

      "It's Adams sir. My name is John Adams"

      "Adams? I know a few Adams. Anyway Private Adams, do you have any idea what happened? Any idea why our M-21s crashed. I'm pretty sure it wasn't AA fire"

      "I'm pretty sure that our new birds aren't built for weather. Seems like the guys at R&D forgot about that part. The M-21 is crazy effective when under fire from AA but it's like swatting a fly in weather like this"

      "State of the art huh?" retorted James sarcastically. "We have to move out Adams, gather more survivors and continue on with the mission. The faster we finish this the faster we get to go home and eat hot chow"

      Year 2343 May 27th United Nations Time
      1105 UNOE Time
      Sector 87, Mark III

      James and his companion are trekking through the thick jungle for a while before reaching a crash site. Taking the opportunity to gather ammunition and look for survivors, James decides to take the risk and check it out. Searching through the wreckage, both James and his companion noticed something peculiar. Though there was ammunition and some supplies scattered, there were no bodies.

      "Where could they b-" commented James before hearing a gun cocking behind him.

      "Drop your weapons!" ordered the muffled mysterious voice in a rude tone. James and his companion complied. They then turned around with their hands up in the air. James feared the worst. It was after all an ambush. A Red Alliance squad had been waiting for them.

      "UNOE scum..." insulted the RA soldier. Then fortunately, friendly units in the area arrived. A gun battle erupted between the RA and UNOE forces with James and his companion are caught in the crossfire. Jumping down on the ground, James slowly and carefully crawled his way to the direction of his allies. Reaching there James' uniform is now covered in mud.

      “Good to see you lieutenant” said Commander Fox as some of her party members dragged James into safety. Realizing that their shootout has reached into a stalemate, the RA squad retreated back into the jungle. James took the time for a quick breath as this was the first time he’s in action. James then stood up and wiped off as much mud as he could from his uniform and calmly walked towards his superior.

      "Lieutenant Taylor reporting for duty" saluted James. Commander Fox merely smiles at him and says "At ease" which James complied. She then orders one of your party members to give James a weapon. The soldier walks towards James slowly as he struggles to get his boots out of the mud. Taking a RA PIK-29 assault rifle from his back, the soldier then rudely shoves the weapon into James' arms.

      “Yup definitely 973rd” said James to himself justifying the soldier’s behavior.

      “Lieutenant Taylor, report on your status” said Commander Fox.

      James straightens himself and salutes to her. “My bird went down before we were dropped. My companion; Private John Adams stated that I was the only survivor of the crash and he dragged me of to safety. Private Adams’ bird also went down but most of the survivors were gunned down by RA patrols. Me and Private Adams then trekked through the jungle looking for survivors and then stumbled across this crash site”

      “I see. Well lieutenant, carry on” replied Commander Fox. Turning around and whistling, she then gives her party a briefing. "Alright listen up. As with all plans, this one never gone as planed. Fortunately for us, we are about 10 miles west from Fort Gustaff our objective. We'll have to make do with what we can and rally any survivors. Remember survivors are a priority on this one"

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Lord Magroth ().

    • Year 2343 May 27th United Nations Time
      1521 UNOE Time
      Fort Gustaff, Sector 87, Mark III

      After reaching Fort Gustaff hours ago, James and the platoon who are under the command of Fox held positions outside the fort. While waiting for an opportunity to strike, the platoon was busy checking their weapons as speed is of the essence if they were to capture the fort. James who was part of the "assault squad" waited patiently for Fox to give the orders for an attack.

      "When is it going to be dawn here lieutenant?" whispered a soldier.

      "Dawn will be here in four more days our time. Mark III has 40 hours and this storm won't stop until then. Remember the plan?"

      "Yes sir! As Commander Fox gives the signal, we charge in and attack the eastern flank while the commander's forces attack from the south causing a diversion. We storm the fort and capture it"

      "Good you remember now just sit down and keep qui-" said James but before he can finish his sentence, he hears a loud explosion coming from the southern gate. "That must be the signal" he thought as James commands his squad to attack the fort. As the assault squad rushes towards the fort, a group of guards fired at them. After taking cover as quickly as they can the assault squad fires back.

      "Damn! You two get over there and plant those charges. The rest of us will cover you" ordered James. Both soldiers nodded approvingly and made a dash to the fort. Wolf whistling, the assault squad unleashed a barrage of bullets at the guards hitting one of them.

      "Charges are set and ready to detonate!" said one of the soldiers. James gave them a thumb up which they detonated the charges effectively blowing a hole on the wall. As the assault squad charged in, the sound of the firing stopped.

      "Ceasefire!" screamed one of the guards. Puzzled, James cautiously ordered his squad to stop. "Rocha!" yelled James.

      "Mocha!" answered the guards as he responded to the code word. James came out of his cover and walked slowly to the guard. They were UNOE soldiers.

      "What the hell? Which unit are you from trooper?" questioned James as he was shocked to see one of his kind.

      "210th Battalion. Commander Fox came through the south gate. She did more damage than you did"

      "I see. Count the casualties; I need to talk to the commander"

      Year 2343 May 27th United Nations Time
      1526 UNOE Time
      Fort Gustaff, Sector 87, Mark III

      "This is embarrassing" whispered James to himself as he looks for Fox. When he found her, Fox was looking for survivors from their attack. Clearing his throat, he gained her attention.

      "Yes Taylor what is it?"

      “Just asking for further orders on what to do now"

      "Officers are assembling in the fort. We're going to have to fortify it if we are to defend it but first, help me move him" ordered Fox. James not wanting to go against rank obliged and helped her lifts the corpse. Despite his "elite training", James was slightly unnerved at the sight of corpses. Putting aside the body, James quickly stepped back. Fox notices this and moves towards him. Giving James a soft smile and padding him on the shoulder, she walks into the fort.

      "Damn it" cursed James to himself for his weakness which could and will endanger him if he were to do so again. He was dumbfounded on why it unnerved him as he was sure that he was ready for such things. Not wanting to let such thoughts of regret cloud and bother him, he tries his best to disregard it and goes into the fort.

      Walking down the lonely halls of the fort, James could hear the meeting going on. Looking at the rooms, he could tell that it was abandoned not too long ago by the Red Alliance forces. Entering the meeting room, he was soaking wet like the rest of them. Overall there were eight officers; three of them are from the 973rd Battalion as identified by the hooks hanging from the side of their belt.

      "Nice to see you Lieutenant Taylor, Lieutenant Von Sthalbe will bring you up to speed later" said Major Lykes of the 210th. "As I was saying we are going to be stuck here for days and I suggest rationing our supplies" continued Major Lykes.

      "Agreed but how do you suppose we do that effectively Major Lykes?" asked Lt.Colonel Fox.

      "Easier said than done Commander. We have to ration every supply we have and I mean every supply. Food, medical supplies, ammunition and barricades maybe"

      "I see" replied Fox. "Then get to it soon but if are to do so we have to be careful" cautioned Fox. "Taylor, how many more days before reinforcements arrive?"

      "In five more days’ commander but what of battle plans?" answered James.

      "We were just getting into that Taylor" said Captain Rholl. "As all of you know, we must have at least the strength of 3 platoons. I suggest that we equally divide our forces on each sections of Fort Gustaff" briefed Captain Rholl.

      "I have to disagree with that Captain" vetoed James while pointing on the map of the fort. "The problem of your plan is that it is too restricting on our forces. We have no Intel on RA forces at the moment and they can strike at any moment. I suggest that we divide the fort into three sectors and place our platoons there"

      "And how is that different from my plan?"

      "Simple, each platoon is charged with defending a specific sector therefore the burden is separate not joined like yours. Furthermore, this allows mobility to our defence forces and as a fail safe in the event one of our platoons gets decimated"

      "I see. You have no arguments from me" said Captain Rholl. "All those against Lieutenant Taylor's plan" asked Captain Rholl which none of them raised their hands.

      "Alright men, dismissed" ordered Fox. Just as James is leaving the room, Fox says "Except you Taylor, I need to talk to you about something important"
    • Year 2343 May 27th United Nations Time
      1531 UNOE Time
      Fort Gustaff, Sector 87, Mark III

      “What’s bothering you James? Tell me what you are thinking?” questioned Fox vigorously.

      “Nothing is wrong commander” answered James while avoiding eye contact.

      “Is that so? You don’t have to lie to me” continued Fox. James knowing that it was pointless to keep it in takes a deep breath to gather his thoughts and carefully choose his words for an answer.

      “I just… I don’t know commander. I’ve been thinking and this isn’t what I signed up for. It’s not what they tell us. I’m having doubts” said James shamefully.

      Lifting her right hand and placing on his shoulder to comfort him, Fox says calmly “James, you’re a soldier. You shouldn’t have any doubts. A soldier has to follow whatever orders he is given no matter how immoral or illogical it is. It’s not his place to question why. But as I’ve seen, you’re looking for a reason to fight”

      “How did you know that?” asked James who was very surprised by her statement.

      “From the magazines you read" answered Fox while removing her hand of his shoulders. "You’re a natural born fighter James but not yet a soldier. A soldier is a tool of politicians, nothing more nothing less. Right and wrong has no place in his mission. He has no enemies, no friends, no family just the mission. Just follow the orders you’re given without question. That’s what it is to be a soldier”

      “I do my duty without question. I couldn’t care less about the politics involved” quoted James stern fully.

      “That’s wrong James" retorted Fox disapprovingly while shaking her head. "Sooner or later, your conscience will begin to haunt you by the choices you make. Like should you save your friend who’s mortally wounded or kill him to ease his pain. Should you destroy a village full of civilians or risk attacking the enemy on open ground”

      “As I said Commander, I follow the President and the top brass. I am more than willing give my life for them if necessary” insisted James repetitively.

      “The President and top brass won’t be the same ones you’d followed before. One day, they’ll get replaced with someone else and it repeats”

      “I follow whoever is leading. It is not my place to think about who is in charge”

      “Your magazines won’t tell you this but these people aren’t the one who determine what is going to happen”

      “Who does determine them?”

      “Not who James, what does. It’s the times. Everyone’s values change overtime. There was a time when something was acceptable, sooner or later it will not be. Today’s enemies will be tomorrow’s friends and vice versa”

      “I understand commander. Times change”

      “Good, don’t think too hard James or you’ll loose the goal of the mission. Oh and one more thing, don’t take things personally; this is war. Dismissed”

      James walked out of the dry and warm hallways of the fort and into the wet and cold ground outside. However it didn’t bothered him as he was thinking of what Fox said to him. Her words shook his very beliefs he had before he joined the military. "Times? Missions? Changes?" were the words James said to himself as he thinks about them. "Taylor get over here!" ordered a rought sounding voice in the distance breaking his little "trance".
    • Year 2343 May 27th United Nations Time
      2231 UNOE Time
      Fort Gustaff, Sector 87, Mark III

      The UNOE forces fortified the fort and set up a defence perimeter as they know the hell that is coming for them soon. The breached walls have been filled with debris, some sections of the walls are improvised into guard towers and land mines and booby traps were set outside the fort. It was still dark and rainy although the rain has weakened considerably since the time they arrived; a very much preferred condition.

      James is positioned himself in such a way that he overlooks the south and eastern flanks. Though well trained, James was very eager to engage the Red Alliance forces in combat again as a "repayment". He then curiously examines his PIK-29; a weapon he never came across before. "Not bad for a Red Alliance tech" he said to himself as he was impressed with its design which probably made it reliable.

      Suddenly Captain Barry calls him down by whistling. James being a green in combats situations obliges and slings the weapon over his shoulder and climbs down the ladder. "What could he want?" he asked quietly as from what he had experienced, the captain never really did like him. Running as quickly as he could, by the time he reached Barry he immediately saluted to him.

      "Are you trying to get me killed?" said Captain Barry as he gives James the evil eye.

      “Sorry sir, mistake on my part” apologized James as he remembers the reason why he must never salute in a combat situation. “So what is wrong sir?”

      “Nothing is wrong. The commander requests you follow me to the meeting room ASAP” replied Captain Barry. James with the fact that he was outranked followed Captain Barry into the building. Walking down the lonely halls again was rather unnerving. James did not know why but it was. Reaching the meeting room, he saw an entire platoon composed of mixed units in the fort.

      "Thank you for joining us Lieutenant Taylor. Please take a seat" greeted Fox politely.

      "Now as you all know, this mission is blown to hell. Though we have Fort Gustaff taken, Fort Englehart still stands and this is a big problem" said Fox as she started her briefing. "We only have supplies to last us for a few days so I think it is best if we do this quick so that we can get out of this planet. Now all of you in this room are chosen specifically for the assault on Englehart but timing is the key to win this one as the Red Alliance forces seem to be extremely keen on keeping it"

      "As usual, the Red Alliance are going to launch an assault to retake Fort Gustaff from us so I need all of you to hold them for as long as you can until I give the signal for all those of you who are in this room to mobilize. Be aware that after we leave Fort Gustaff, there is no turning back. Since the Red Alliance knows exactly where we are, the jamming frequency is consequently stronger and all radio contact with whoever is in the fort will be lost"

      "That would be all. Now those of you who wish to drop out on this assignment, please walk out the room" offered Fox. There were some mutterings but overall none of them dropped out on the mission. "Thank you and hope to see you when we move out. Dismissed"

      Year 2343 May 27th United Nations Time
      0455 UNOE Time
      Fort Gustaff, Sector 87, Mark III

      Everyone on duty was extremely bored as the Red Alliance has yet to launch their attack. James however was "fortunate" to have his duty to be rotated to supply inspection. Though he never per say enjoyed such a job, he didn't mind it. While working, Jonathan calls up to him about their assignment.

      "So James, you got picked for the commander's assignment?" asked Jonathan while wiping the water out of his face as they were stinging his eyes.

      "Fortunately or unfortunately yes I was chosen. Personally I don't mind going, at least it's something to do. Plus it sounds much more easier to take the fight to them than freeze my :censored: in Fort Gustaff. Precisely how, I have no idea" replied dryly James who was still busy with his work. "And you?" said James as he turns around to question Jonathan.

      "Of course I'm in it kid. Part of the 973rd who Live Rough, Fight Tough, we basically find action. Also plus I know you wouldn't believe this kid but I'm your designated marksman" answered Jonathan.

      "Wait, you're our marksman? Where's your C-9 Rifle?"

      "I told you that you wouldn't believe me. Still yeah I'm your marksman but C-9 is for wimps. I use the good old A&M (Anthony & Miller) Rounder Mk V. Light, durable and quick. Also another on the plus side, it using magnets makes it less tiring for the arm" boasted Jonathan.

      "Then if it's so great why did they replace it? Was it becau-" said James before he was interrupted by the sound of gunfire which both of them lowers their heads to make themselves a smaller target. Seconds later, another gunshot was heard before one of the sentries screamed "RA TROOPERS!"
    • Chapter 4: Death From Above!

      Year 2343 May 27th United Nations Time
      0457 UNOE Time
      Fort Gustaff, Sector 87, Mark III

      Within seconds, the quite fort suddenly became a hotspot of action. Red Alliance and UNOE soldiers quickly and gladly exchanged fire despite not exactly knowing the location of each other. The flashes of their weapons replaced the thunderstorm's role as the primary light source in the area. As the action continues James and Jonathan rushed to the nearest post so that they can have a taste of combat.

      Though adrenaline is pumping through his veins, he tries to stay as calm as possible to not compromise the duties he was given. After finding a good vantage spot both of them takes cover as they brace themselves for the hell to come. Listening to his impulses, James blinds fires at the Red Alliance soldiers in hopes of getting a hit that was quickly lashed out by Jonathan.

      "What are you doing kid? Aim before you shoot!" yelled Jonathan angrily at James for using such a desperate and unreliable tactic. "Save your ammunition! You are going to need it!" he continued while waiting for the enemy volley of fire to stop or slow down. James coming back to his senses, immediately stops wasting his ammunition and like Jonathan waits patiently.

      A few seconds later with the Red Alliance soldiers' attention drawn to something else, James stands up and fires at the RA forces wildly to suppress them. Jonathan then takes this opportunity to take aim at one of them. As James stops suppressing fire; Jonathan fires successfully killing the soldier. Suddenly, a UNOE runner heads towards them and dives into cover.

      "Are you Lieutenant Taylor of the 973rd Battalion?" asked the soldier while struggling to make his voice loud enough to be vaguely detectable. James fully aware that he never had a loud voice nods slowly. "Captain Barry asks you to help him defend the southern gate, don't ask why it's so screwed there" explained the soldier. "You go I'll take your shift here"

      James then crawls slowly and carefully toward the stairs. Reaching the stairs, he gets up and runs down quickly before he makes himself a noticeable target. While making his way to the southern gate, dangerous thoughts began clouding his mind. Remembering what Fox told him, he shoves these thoughts away as he doesn’t want them to make him a liability. Nearing his objective, he smells the sickly sweet scent of blood and hazy smell of smoke despite the curtain of rain that should had blocked it.

      “Taylor, get your pathetic :censored: up here immediately” commanded a frustrated Captain Barry . Being the obedient soldier he is, James complied and ran up the stairs before going into the prone position. While going towards Captain Barry, shrapnel and bullets whizz pass him as the battle gets more and more intense. This was definitely not like what their “motivational” magazines claimed to be. “You called sir?” greeted James.

      “What the hell do you think Taylor?” replied Captain Barry. “You’re going with Adams over here to that tower. Once you’re there, load one the ARCs with an incendiary warhead and use it on these RA dogs. Now move it” continued Captain Barry. James nodded his head and swished his hands up and down to signal Adams to follow him. Crawling their way to the tower, Adams pops out and covers James as he runs to the top which he in turn returns the favour.

      "An ARC? I've never seen one of these before in boot camp" commented John as James loads the ARC with an incendiary warhead. James then tapped John's helmet telling him that it is armed and loaded. On the count of three, James gave John suppressing fire and the latter takes aim and fires. As expected, the weapon did its magic. The fire spreads despite the rain due to volatile chemicals. Fortunately for the two, the blowback from the recoilless weapon did not kill nor injure them as the tower was without a ceiling.

      Despite the battle lasting for now more than ten minutes, the intense fighting of the first Red Alliance wave was tiring enough to make James lie down for awhile to celebrate a very brief moment of piece. Just happy that he survived through the first wave unharmed, James took a deep breath as he prepares for the next wave. “That was easy” he thought of the Red Alliance counter attack as they were known to be very vicious and ruthless in their tactics.

      Year 2343 May 27th United Nations Time
      0509 UNOE Time
      Fort Gustaff, Sector 87, Mark III

      After repairing the fort and counting the casualties as quickly as they can, the UNOE forces immediately returned to their positions preparing themselves for the next wave. Despite the intensity of the first wave, the fort was miraculously relatively unharmed with only a few bullet holes but some UNOE soldiers were unlucky. Now reassigned to be part of the ARC launcher team with Adams, James waits patiently at the tower as their temporary spotter while scanning the area for the next Red Alliance attack.

      Apart from the rain, the UNOE hear something rather peculiar. They heard sounds that strongly resembled the rumblings of engines of an airborne vehicle. Undeterred however they merely ignore it. Bothered by the noise, James scans the surrounding area intently and much closer until he spots what was making the noises on his NV binoculars hovering at the distance.
    • “What the hell is that?’ said James to himself in confusion. Though still unsure on precisely what that was, he knew it definitely wasn’t a good sign. James then puts his binoculars down to rub his eyes and take a deep breath to process the information he just received as he did not want to waste his energy fighting hallucinations. Right after that, he looks through his binoculars again he realised, that was no illusion. More “wisps” appeared in the distance. “RA Air Support, inbound!” he yelled.

      The resting soldiers immediately sprang into the action and running into their battle stations as they prepare for another flash of hell. James loads the ARC with an AP warhead before readying himself. Now all that was left was the silence of soldiers and the engines of the “wisps”. James breaths heavily as these “wisps” approach the UNOE garrison. He found the very nature of them to be unnerving, as he doubted whether he could actually hit as something as small as these “wisps”. Still, he tried to bury such doubts as he was trained to do.

      Just before these “wisps” enter a reasonable firing range, they nimbly dispersed much to the surprise of the UNOE garrison. As soon as he gets a lock-on, Adams fires the ARC. The warhead dashes to its target leaving a trail of smoke. The “wisp” however didn’t seem to care as it continues its approach to the fort. As the warhead nearly reaches its target, the “wisp” carelessly dodges it by making a loop and wildly returning fire. Then, the fireworks party truly began.

      The other “wisps” opened fire, which rained red tracer rounds on the garrison who then gladly, returned the favour. Soon the dark and quiet fort became brightly and noisily lit with gunfire. James then loaded another warhead into the ARC and tapped Adams’ helmet before continuing to try to bring these “wisps” down. Noticing that it is extremely difficult to kill one of them if they were to simply track a target, the UNOE troops garrison formed a simple attack pattern; each soldier would just take out these "wisps" one at a time.

      After successfully taking down a few of them, the "wisps" also adapted to this and went into a more aggressive attack pattern; a direct head-on assault. Breaking of from a solid formation into a looser one, the "wisps" gracefully dive down and unleashed a simple yet effective terrors weapon; a flame-thrower. James keeps his head down as the adrenaline begins to rush through his veins again. The earlier trick the garrison used has been disabled as it could potentially have an unpleasant crossfire. Adams, his partner sat down next to him as he rocks back and forth as the stress has taken a toll on him.

      "Get up Adams!" shouted James as he attempts to pull Adams out of his trance all the while laying low. "Stay here and you're dead so move!" he continued but to no avail. Suddenly Jonathan runs up the tower and pads James on the back signalling that he has to move out soon as the strike team prepares mobilise to take over Fort Englehart. James though his moral convictions forbade him to leave Adams behind, picks up his weapon and descends from the tower as quickly as he could.

      “What about these RAs?” asked James frantically while checking his weapon, as he did not want to have the nasty surprise of not having a loaded when he entered combat.

      “You don’t trust me kid?” replied Jonathan dryly. “Well if not, just watch and learn” he continued as he takes aim at one of the attackers. He then held his breath to steady his aim and squeezes the trigger gently. The 10mm slug ripped out the barrel of his rifle with a very loud bang leaving an eerie blue trail of light. The sheer force of the shell literally tore through one of the attacker’s torso leaving a messy corpse dropping from the sky.

      Turning to his left, Jonathan spots one of the “wisps” diving down towards him firing madly with whatever weapons it used. Both James and Jonathan instinctively took cover from their attack. After taking cover, Jonathan once again takes aim and holds his breath all the while gently squeezing the trigger. As soon as the slug leaves the barrel, it disintegrated the “wisps” head and hitting it’s fuel tank causing it to explode in a fireball. “Headshot!” he proclaimed.

      Year 2343 May 27th United Nations Time
      0519 UNOE Time
      Fort Gustaff, Sector 87, Mark III

      Fox and a few others held their ground near the south gate keeping it clear for the other members of the strike team to arrive. While it is suicide to stay in one position while fighting these “wisps”, the southern gate was not the case. Due to their earlier assault, the UNOE garrison was forced to focus most of its resources on the southern gate making it a plethora of cover and hiding spots.

      On the distance, James and a few others came running to the southern gate all the while under fire. Fox took notice and gave them some cover fire to chase the attackers away. Finally reaching his destination, James slides on the ground to safety. After finding some cover, he took the time for a breather before he walks up to one of his fellow UNOE soldiers who was manning a mounted machine gun.

      "Private, what the hell are we waiting for?" said James loudly as the sound of gunfire drowns his voice along the fact that he was fighting did not help.

      "To get these guys off your backs, the last thing you want are these guys tracking you in that terrain unless of course you plan to die in the first five seconds" the soldier replied.
    • Year 2343 May 27th United Nations Time
      0532 UNOE Time
      Fort Gustaff, Sector 87, Mark III

      Though unshaken by the smell of burning human flesh and the screams of his fellow soldiers, his combat performance was degrading. The sweat dripping from his head stings his eye while continuous automatic fire has strained James’ arm, only made worse by the adrenaline rush which is causing his hands to tremble wildly lowering his accuracy drastically. Seeing that his ammo is running low, he attempts to quickly remove the empty magazine from the gun before noticing precisely how bad was his “combat high” really was. Slipping back into cover, James struggles to steady his hands long enough so that he is able to reload his weapon properly.

      “Hold still damn it!” James said to himself angrily before resorting to holding his breath to steady his hands. Finally being able to reload his weapon, he then cocks his gun before taking aim again. However the battle is pretty much over, the remaining “wisps” are calling off the attack and are retreating. Relieved, he gently laid his weapon onto the debris to free his still trembling hands for a sip from his canteen before sitting down to enjoy the respite.

      “I assume that you are fine kid? Seeing how your hands are still shaking like your dancing,” asked Jonathan in a friendly tone as he notices James sitting down against some debris before extending his hand to lift him up.

      James though still rather dazed reaches up to it and Jonathan lifts him. James then looks at his trembling hands, which was caused by the rush of adrenaline earlier. Clenching both of them into a fist to make the trembling less noticeable than it already was. “In basic they taught us take the adrenaline rush would take about 10 minutes to burn off. So what’s your experience on this?”

      “Not too sure on that” Jonathan replied casually as he takes a strip of chewing gum. “On the field, you won’t notice your shaking. In fact, you won’t notice if you even get hit. Shrapnel to the thigh during my earlier years before joining the 973rd guys” he continued before he puts it in his mouth then he offers a strip to James who politely declines.

      “So where exactly are you going to be perched when you provide us sniper fire?” asked James curiously. “A tree, a tower, the nearby cliff and so on…”

      “Probably on a tower or a tree. That is usually the first places I’d prefer to be in but who knows kid; whichever nest would be fine by me as long it does its job” Jonathan answered casually. Besides, it’s not like you’re not going to e-“ he continued before he was interrupted by a wolf whistle.

      “Alright, strike team listen up!” announced Captain Barry over a megaphone. “We take off in five minutes so check your gear and make sure you have enough ammunition to take down Chateau Du Franc three times over” he continued sarcastically before stepping down from the debris.

      “So that’s pretty much our call to get a move on. You know pack up and go” commented Jonathan as he takes a sip from his canteen. “Nervous kid? You’re pretty much one of the few new guys that are going to be in the strike force”

      “A little but I’m not here to complain. Though I have to admit, I do believe that my chances of survival are very…. Undesirable” replied James humorously as he tries to stay calm. “But Commander Fox told me that I think too much, she’s probably right though but that is probably justifiable because I'm still pretty green. Damn listen to me talk, back in boot I was the quiet one; now I just never shut up” he continued as the tone in his voice noticeably changes from dry humour to a shaky one.

      Year 2343 May 27th United Nations Time
      0720 UNOE Time
      Fort Englehart, Sector 87, Mark III

      “Four manned guard towers, eight machine gun nests, two snipers and at least regiment Commander” whispered James, as he was the only soldier in the strike force who still carries his binoculars around. Fox nods her head and announces it to the other members of the strike force before heading out. James on the other hand was “volunteered” to be Jonathan’s spotter who was perched in a tree.

      As the rest of the strike force made their way towards the fort, James slings his weapon on his back and begins his ascend to the top of the tree. When he finally reaches the top, he sees that Jonathan has already settled in and taking aim. James taking position looks through his binoculars to identify immediate threats for Jonathan. Though it was raining heavily, both of them took the necessary risk as their roles was key in taking the fort.
    • Year 2343 May 27th United Nations Time
      0752 UNOE Time
      Fort Englehart, Sector 87, Mark III

      The sniper team were waiting eagerly for the signal; a flare before they could begin their work. While Jonathan is very used to remaining still for long periods of time, James however was not. Nonetheless, though his muscles were aching he still mostly stayed still. A few more minutes past before James notices movement on the eastern flank of the fort rather than the planned northern one. Though unsure, James tended not to ask any questions and he then directed targets for Jonathan.

      “Five squats to the left from Radar Alpha, roof sniper taking aim. Take them out…” said James to Jonathan who then carefully aims his weapon and bracing himself for the shot. He then gently squeezes the trigger causing the slug to leave the barrel leaving its noticeable blue trail of light. "Rebby sniper down, good shot" praised James. Then, he looked down his binoculars to scan for more targets of opportunity. "Nine squats to the left from gate E, big boomer te-" he continued before being interrupted by a new source of gunfire.

      Suddenly, a white flare was fired from the northern flank, which confuses them. Shifting their attention to the source, Jonathan charges his weapon for a more powerful and accurate shot. “There they are!” proclaimed James eagerly before wiping the lens of his binoculars. He then scanned their section for more targets for Jonathan to kill. “Two squats to the right from Radar Gamma, sniper on the tower”

      Nodding his head, Jonathan takes aim and holds his breath. Suddenly, a stray bullet came whizzing by the sniper team. Surprised, Jonathan lets the trigger go too early causing him to miss his target by about a foot. The Red Alliance sniper then quickly turned his attention to the both of them. “Time to go kid!” exclaimed Jonathan loudly as he slings his weapon on his back that the both of them begin their descent.

      “Now what Jonathan?” asked James as he descends from the tree.

      “Well there seems to be another one of our guys making some trouble to the west. So now I’ll go displace somewhere else”

      “Alright lets go then”

      “No need kid. They need you more than I do. Get to it”
    • Chapter 5: When plans go awry; Improvise, Improvise, and Improvise….

      Year 2343 May 27th United Nations Time
      0841 UNOE Time
      Fort Englehart, Sector 87, Mark III

      As James joined the fray, his legs were aching despite his training; the trek was rather tiring for him. The strike force still outside fighting along another UNOE assault is having a little trouble getting inside. Jumping out of the bushes, James then dashes with haste to the nearest friendly squad. James breaths heavily as he tries to get there without getting hit by the bullets whizzing through the air and the explosions from the rockets getting too close for comfort. Nearly reaching his destination, James drops on his knees allowing the inertia to drag him to safety.

      “Trooper!” said James while keeping his head down. “Where is Commander Fox or Captain Barry?” he continued loudly as the sounds of gunfire drowned out his voice. The soldier then stops to reload his weapon before stopping to think. “Trooper who is in charge here?” he persisted asking. Giving James a rather annoyed look in his eyes, the soldier then pointed James in the right direction before returning fire. James then took a long deep breath to calm him down before a bright red flare is shot up in the sky illuminating the battle zone.

      “Now I see why people are fine being desk jockeys,” whispered James to humour himself as he calculates the pattern of enemy fire. When the machine gunner who was pinning them down stops to allow his weapon to cool, James makes a daring run for it to the next cover. After repeating this process for a few times, the machine gunner begins to take notice and changes his tactics accordingly. Now with the gunner firing in burst rather fully automatic the weapon will overheat slower. “What the…” said James to himself. Thinking fast, James removes his helmet and wishes for the best.

      Tossing his helmet in the opposite direction, the machine gunner quickly turned his helmet into Swiss Cheese. Taking the opportunity, James runs out of the machine gunner’s combat radius and dives into cover. “Taylor?” commented Barry who was genuinely shocked to see James. “How did When did? What are you doing- Ignore that! Taylor I need your help since everyone else is busy with something. See that machinegun nest over there?” he continued calmly which James nods his head. “I want you to take this M8 and suppress that machinegun nest so that they won't even stick their head out in the open while I grab that satchel charge and blow a hole in their wall. On my mark Taylor!”

      James then readies the bipod and aims carefully at his assigned target. "Ready" announced Captain Barry steadily. "Fire at will" he continued before running off towards the satchel charge. James waited for a few seconds before giving suppressive fire with the M8 LMG. However as he was not trained in it's use, James struggles to maintain a straight line of fire despite using the M8 with a grip and bipod. Nonetheless he did his job and though he ran out of ammunition, Captain Barry was safely back into cover and now waits for the satchel charge to detonate. Putting the M8 down, James rubs his shoulder as the recoil really did give him a nasty kick.

      Soon the satchel charge detonates blowing a hole in the wall that the members of the strike force then throw their smoke grenades to cover their movements. A few seconds later the smoke screen forms and a detachment of UNOE soldiers then charged forward into Fort Englehart while the rest continued to occupy the base defenders. Taking a few seconds to gather his thoughts, James picks up his PIK-29 and straps on a salvaged helmet. Breathing quickly to psyche himself up, he then makes a run for it through the hole in the wall. A machine gunner took notice of this and fires at James. However, he stopped firing as soon as he began as a sniper soon killed him. “Thank you Jonathan!”

      As he guessed, the battle inside the fort was more chaotic than outside; though the UNOE soldiers only entered less than 30 seconds ago, the place is already resembled a generic urban battleground. There was rubble and fire everywhere; bodies both friendly and hostile scattered all around and everything else that was expected. “Smart move James,” he said to himself as he kept his head down while looking for hostile soldiers. Pacing through one of the hallways carefully, he then encountered a squad that he could not quite see properly due to the visibility. However they spotted him which both parties pointed their weapons at each other.

      “Schwert!” cried the apparent squad leader of the silhouetted party. James notices that his accent was unlike any UNOE citizen he has encountered and then readies his weapon. That and his voice were muffled. “Schwert! Or we’ll fire!” he continued.

      “Schild!” replied James. The figures then lowered their weapons and approached James calmly. Taking cover behind a wall, James aimed his weapon at the figures and readies his trigger finger as soon as they enter optimum range.

      “Whoa! That was close!” said one of the figures. “We thought you were one of them! Good thing we never blew your head off huh? Ri-“ he continued before James opened fire; fully automatic on them dropping them instantly. James wanting to be sure walks carefully while pointing his weapon at the downed Red Alliance soldiers. Approaching closer, he could see one of them just survived his ambush.

      “Kill me you oppressive dog!” taunted the downed soldier who was struggling to breath. “Isn’t this all you people ever do?” he continued. James then allowed his enemy to receive his request; ending his life quickly. James then bends down to scavenge whatever ammunition and equipment he could find. Suddenly, he heard a loud explosion in the distance. Reloading his weapon, James then makes his way to the roof of the building.
    • Year 2343 May 27th United Nations Time
      0917 UNOE Time
      Fort Englehart, Sector 87, Mark III

      As the visibility in the building was heavily compromised due to numerous factors, namely smoke and dust James is forced to wear a Mobile Light Infantry's gas mask. "How do they ever breath in this worthless toy?" said James sarcasticaly to himself because the helmet was extremely uncomfortable for him to wear in a very hot and stuffy environment. Another issue was that the gas mask was distinctively Red Alliance, which in turn puts him in a very big danger of friendly fire. Nonetheless that gas mask was the only thing that kept James, a functional soldier from turning into a not so functional soldier.

      Carefully moving through the fort, the sounds of gunfire and explosions from the battle outside echoed through the rather eerily quiet corridors. Though slightly relived as he was confident that he was alone on the entire floor, James was nonetheless unwilling to stop for a breather as his sense of duty was cemented in his head. Finally, his persistence paid off. Having found a way to the roof or at least a tower, James can now provide fire support as he has the tactical advantage of the high ground. While anxious, he was nonetheless careful as the Red Alliance might of have thought about the exact same thing.

      Leaning his primary weapon onto the wall for a moment, James wields his sidearm and approaches the door slowly in case there is an ambush or booby trap behind it. As soon as the door detects him it unlocks which James then points his weapon at it as it opens. When it finally does, the noise of the battle outside amplifies itself startling him. Seeing that the room is clear, he then slings his primary weapon on his back and climbs up the ladder to the top. As the closer he gets to the end, the louder the battle gets. Just before he pops his head up, James takes a deep breath and hopes for the best.

      Sticking his head out, James could see a machinegun nest nearby. Carefully climbing out, he then crouches down and aimed his weapon at the machinegun nest. After thinking of a pattern to use, he fires in bursts of 3 killing the entire nest. Assuming they’re dead, he then runs over to the nest and shoves the gunner aside and reloads the machinegun. He then turns the gun towards a Red Alliance squad which he braces himself for the recoil taking experience from handling the M8 earlier. Squeezing the trigger tightly, James holds his ground as he hoses down his targets until the barrel overheats which the emergency stop function activates jamming the gun.

      As the machinegun cools down, James took cover and hopes that using his enemies’ weapons would cause enough confusion to disrupt them. Suddenly, James is fired upon as soon as he sticks his head up grazing his helmet. “Come on!” pleaded James as he recognises the sound of the guns firing. Taking out his only emergency flare from his vest, he ignites the flare and quickly tosses it over the nest. He then removes his gas mask as screams “Friendly fire!” repeatedly. “I’m on your side. Hold your fire!” he continued.

      “Just tell me how is it that our paths cross on a constant basis Taylor?” commented Barry wryly before pointing his weapon away from James, which then the rest of his squad does the same. James then slowly gets up from the nest and then walks toward Barry. “I am sure that you can fight properly Taylor. Pick up your gun, we’re going to mop up whoever is left. Apparently your Intel is off, there was no division here only a company” he continued which James responds with a grim look on his face.