Chapter 21: RemembranceEdit
Wulf jumped at the sound of the explosion. The enemy was getting closer to the High Command room. Two more doors and they’d be at the elevator, descending upon Wulf and the other personnel inside the room. Some of them were women, some of them were young. Some of them were young, pretty, women. All of them besides Wulf and the other soldiers, were innocent and had never been trained with a firearm.
“Positions!” John shouted. Everybody scrambled to get cover whilst maintaining a clear field of vision on the door, and steadying their guns, aimed at it. Overturned desks, pieces of electrical equipment and some stored sandbags made up the majority of the cover. Wulf was towards the front of the room, he had his PKM mounted on a steel desk and was peeking his eyes over the edge, ready to mince anything that came through the door. The sweat on his hands made it difficult to grip the handle of the gun, his finger was at risk of easily slipping and loosing off a few rounds at the door. Then the sound of the next explosion rattled his ears.
Eagle was still startled by the firefight, they’d managed to cross to the entrance to Base 17 without gaining any casualties, and were now rappelling one by one into the broken elevator shaft. Eagle’s turn came and he clipped on, and slid down. The rope burned his fingers through his tattered gloves, when he reached the bottom, Matrix was already leading the team through the blood-stained corridor, gun first. “Check your corners.” He announced to the group.
The squad passed the first blown-in vault door, the room behind it smelled of blood, bodies littered the floor.
“Vector, Ranger, Hawk, Scorch” I want you all to check for survivors and escort them outside.” Matrix signalled for them to move back the way they’d come. “On it” Hawk and Vector replied in unison. Ranger and Scorch were already moving.
“Doctor, Blitz you guys get our left flank, Striker, Flash you guys on our right. Eagle, take point, I got your six.” Everyone rearranged themselves before moving through the next door, Eagle’s SMG was pressed hard into his shoulder, and his finger was sweating on the trigger, slightly tensed, ready to loose a shot at the slightest sign of trouble.
They came to a long room that looked like it had been made of glass, due to the shards all over the floor. Beyond the shards were hundreds of lifeless civilians. SAWAT had slaughtered them. A spark of anger rose inside of Eagle.
“Let’s pick up the pace!” He grunted. The Squad began to move quickly through the corridors, hearing an explosion as they went. They were getting close to the infiltrators.
One more door to breach. One more and they’d be here. John was trying to radio in to contact his backup, but something had obviously happened to the Delta Squad’s radio, and they’d gone dark. The people inside High Command’s Center had found all the weapons in the vicinity and given them to the civilian workers inside of the compound. Soldiers had parted with their sidearms and given them out. One woman was even harnessing a fire extinguisher, everyone in the room know that she wouldn’t be able to last a second against an armed soldier, but it was the thought that counted. High Command themselves were positioned further back in the room, each wielding a standard issue pistol, and each shakily aiming it at the door. High Command were pets of decision, not pets of action. They told Soldiers what to do, they didn’t ever expect to be in the midst of the warzone. Wulf hadn’t seen Shade in a while, he’d probably be hiding somewhere in the back. This was no place for pets of such importance, but here they were, soaked in fear, seconds away from possible death.
The room was quiet. The whimpers muffled by each and every pet's personal pride. Everyone in the room was waiting. Waiting for the next knock at the door, the knock that meant death for them. And it came, deafeningly. The sound of the explosion was so loud that it left a quiet ring in their ears.
The woman holding the fire extinguisher was the first to die, the extinguisher was punctured, and since it was pressurized it exploded, throwing shards of aluminium into her face. She was not killed instantly, she took a few seconds to die. High Command was not ready, three of them were shot in the head before they had a chance to duck behind their overturned desks. A pet in the corner managed to get a good shot at one of the attackers with his pistol, but he was soon dispatched with an SMG barrage to the stomach, he was thrown into the wall behind him, and was dead before he hit the floor. Some tried to run. They were shot in the back. The survivors of the initial onslaught were those who stood their ground. Wulf unleashed a hellish burst into the smoke of the oncoming invaders, killing three or four of the group standing at the front. It was no use though, their must’ve been thirty highly trained soldiers coming out of the elevator. Wulf dived behind the nearest cover, just as a bullet landed where he had previously been crouching, however, it still managed to catch him in the leg.
“Gah, damn it!” Wulf blurted in agony. He’d been shot before, but the bullet had fractured his bone, rendering his leg useless. He used his arms to shuffle himself fully behind the cover, before leaning up against it and reaching for his pistol. Upon finding his holster empty, he remembered he’d given it to one of the civilians. His MG would be useless if any enemy tried to attack him if he was backed up against his cover like this, but if he tried to make room he’d expose himself and risk being shot. These thoughts were running through his head, when a dirty black boot stepped onto his newly broken leg.
Wulf roared in pain. A SAWAT stepped out in front of him. The SAWAT drew his revolver slowly. Wulf watched as the smoke cleared around him, and he saw the mindless slaughter that had taken place. They hadn’t stood a chance. Across the room, Wulf could make out the lifeless body of John, he still clutched his pistol. Then Wulf felt the cold steel against his head, bringing him back into caring for himself.
The SAWAT smiled. An Evil Smile. Wulf prepared himself, although there wasn’t much he could do other than shut his eyes.
And then the SAWAT's head exploded.
The Delta Squad burst into the room, dispatching the entire enemy team in less than four seconds. Blood sprayed from every SAWAT head in the room, they had no time to react.
“We were too late.” Wulf faintly heard one of their voices, before his vision blurred and he fell out of consciousness. Wulf woke up to a slow rocking motion, he hadn’t felt so calmed in a long time. He sat up and realized he was in a small boat, with no land in sight. He was at the gentle mercy of the sea. He lay back against the single wooden seat and took in the sea air. He had no idea where he was going, and no idea how he’d got here, but he thought he’d enjoy it none the less. A slight breeze swept over the boat.
“Wulf” a solitary voice whispered into his ear.
Wulf was startled, he looked around. He didn’t see anything of any significance.
“Wulf” the familiar voice whispered again.
“Hello?” He said aloud.
“It’s been an honor... “ The voice said again, with an inhuman hiss.
“We’ve got nowhere to run...” The voice grew more ominous.
“Save us!” Multiple specters cried out in unison.
“Wulf...” The voice grew even more familiar.
“Wulf...” Was it...?
“WULF!” The voice roared.
“GET YOUR ASS UP SOLDIER!”
Wulf was jolted awake, gasping for air, he tried to recollect himself and adjust to his surroundings. He was lying on sand, and a pet was looking at him, shouting at him whilst shaking him.
“Wh-Yes, I’m awake!” Wulf stuttered to the man.
“Good, our ride is here.” The pet pointed ahead.
The view that lay in front of them was awe inspiring, Wulf had to push himself onto his feet, using a nearby crutch like object, his leg was still pounding. A Large DA Warship, with the DA Flag painted on its steel armored side, sat on the waves about a mile out to sea. The newly risen sun poked through some of the now lighter rain clouds of the previous night, a light drizzle still remained, but this increased the scenes beauty, by giving the sea a strange texture. Multiple boats were streaming their way over the ocean in the direction of the beach. This could only mean one thing for Wulf.
He was going home.
Delta Squad were all sat up against some abandoned crates on the beach, about twenty meters away from where the main group of surviving DA soldiers were waiting for the rescue boats.
“Good job today.” Matrix said to the pets. They all nodded in agreement.
“We saved four members of DA High Command, and twenty odd civilians, you’re all heroes.” He continued.
A feeling of depression had settled over the squad, they were all aching and bleeding and wanting to go home, but at the same time they all knew this was the end. Not one of them wanted to return to War after what they’d seen.
“Matrix...” Flash said. Matrix looked up and gave him a questioning look.
“We’re not coming back here, are we?”
“No. The mainland is lost. We’re going home.”
“But what about our families? The SAWAT army won’t stop here, they’ll come for our homeland.” Blitz pointed out.
“What can we do but fight?” Hawk replied to him.
“We’re soldiers, when the time comes, they’ll give us the tools and we’ll get the job done.” Matrix said, nodding with Hawk.
“But for now, Gentlemen. This is the end. Once we get back home, we’re to get on with our lives, Hawk, didn’t you say you wanted to open up a pie shop, you fat SAWAT pig?” Matrix laughed at him.
The rest of the squad followed suit.
“Matrix!” A voice came from a cobblestone nearby path onto the beach.
Their heads all turned to the direction in unison, their dirty, bloodied faces all being shadowed by their own bodies.
“Delta Squad, my Delta Squad!” A pet wearing a blue headband ran towards them, and so did another.
“Wanderer? Commander?” Vector exclaimed.
“Sir!” Matrix saluted. The DA Commander returned the salute, he only came up to Matrix’s shoulders, so it failed to deliver the same message.
“How did you survive?” Vector asked Wanderer.
“I fled Base 17 before the firefight began, sneaking through my personal escape route. I thought my own survival was necessary, I am the Commander of all DA Forces, after all.” The Commander thought Vector had directed his question to him. Shade...
“And you, Wanderer?” Vector played along.
“All I can remember is pulling my parachute cord after the zeppelin exploded. Then The Commander found me in the rubble.” Wanderer took a while to speak, pondering his words.
“Indeed, indeed. But let’s save our catch up chat for later, Gentlemen. We need to get out of here. I intercepted a SAWAT radio signal that said this place is getting Nuked.”
Eagle was about to say something before the Squad all jumped to their feet,
“Let’s move, Soldiers!”
A few minutes later they were all sat on one of the rescue boats, being carted across the sea at high speed. Everyone was silent, just waiting to get to the boat and on their way. Home. Wanderer was constantly reaching into the pocket of his black coat, he probably had something in there that was making him feel less nervous.
When they reached the boat, The Commander was the first to step aboard, and he was welcomed by the Captain of the vessel. Captain Blind, served seventeen years in the SAWAT navy. He’d never seen pets in such a state though. They had more blood on their skin than he’d seen in his years of service; the war mainly took place on land, so there was not much naval combat involved. He offered to show the pets to their quarters, which were under deck. He gave the Deltas a choice of singular rooms or one bunked up room. They went with the latter, as most of them agreed they wouldn’t benefit from single rooms anyway, it was roughly seven hundred miles til’ they reached the mainland, and there was nothing to do to kill time, so they might as well talk and try to get some sleep.
Only a few hours into the journey, and most of the squad were incapacitated on their assigned bunks, still clutching the alcohol provided to them by the crew. Eagle was the only one who was too traumatized to drink, he couldn’t bring himself to relax. His mind was still too full of adrenaline.
They’d lost the offensive war, now they’d have to start playing defensive. The SAWATs weren’t going to wait to attack the homeland, they’d probably be ready and mobilized within a year. The worrying thoughts of the destruction of the entire DA Race were suddenly overridden by a more natural feeling. Eagle needed to pee. He dragged himself out into a sitting position on his bunk, it creaked as he went, causing some stirs from his nearby squad mates. They soon settled again, allowing him to jump down, as his bunk was one on top of Ranger. He was dressed only in a dirty white vest and the trousers he’d worn for the battle, the ones given to the squad by Firestar. Firestar, Eagle wondered what had happened to that aging pet. Probably captured by SAWAT, being used to make them even more advanced weapons. This world was so full of good pets getting given bad luck. Eagle started thinking about any survivors of the battle at Reefwater, they’d have been nuked by now. They probably didn’t care. All these thoughts ran through Eagle’s head as he walked the long walk down the tight corridor of the ship’s hull, towards the nearest toilet. All these feelings were of less importance as the pee began to flow. The relief was surprising, it was more than just a natural need, it felt like he was getting rid of the badness he’d experienced. It was over for now. And like Matrix said, when the time came to fight, he would gladly take arms again.
Eagle washed his hands, drying them on his mucky trousers, he then stepped out of the toilet doorway, and noticed something fairly bad. He’d forgotten which direction he walked from, both ways looked exactly the same, and were both equally long, stretching the full length of the ship in total. He looked left, then looked right, then looked left again. He saw someone running down the corridor, in the opposite direction. He started to follow, in curiosity. He soon found himself running as well. He was about forty meters away from the man before he stopped running and starting climbing a ladder, back onto the main deck of the ship. This made Eagle instinctively dive into the nearest open door, and hide behind the wall before he was sure the pet had stopped climbing. Eagle followed quickly, he climbed the ladder two rungs at a time, poking his head out of the exit hole just as he got to the top. It was extremely windy and Eagle’s hair was being blown completely off of his face.
Eagle’s heart skipped three beats as soon as he realized what was happening. A Khaki-green helicopter was extracting someone from the ship. That person was wearing a blue headband, that person was The Commander. The wind was blowing towards Eagle, so he could just hear what they were saying on the Helicopter.
“Let’s get out of here, Let’s go go go! Wanderer blow the charges in fifty!” The Commander was shouting at the pilot on his radio whilst running to the helicopter, it started to pull off just as he climbed aboard.
As they started to pull away, Eagle climbed completely out of the ladder and whipped his pistol from his Krafty trousers. He started shooting at the helicopter, The Commander was laughing, this fool thought he could damage the helicopter. He lent out of the window and gave a victorious wave, this angered Eagle, he aimed for The Commander’s head, but the wind and the speed and pitch of the helicopter were all factors Eagle didn’t compensate for. After unloading a full magazine at his own Commander’s face, his shots didn’t reach their intended targets. One shot managed to hit Wanderer in the head, his body was knocked out of the helicopter and it dropped limply into the ocean below. Another lucky shot also hit the Commander in the waving hand, he drew it back into the helicopter with a high pitched squeal. The rest of the shots were reflected off of the armor of the helicopter and dropped from the air harmlessly.
“RAWWWHRRR!!!” Was all Eagle could manage, he threw his pistol at the helicopter, it fell about fifty meters short, as it was well and truly away now, heading back in the direction they had come from.
Then Eagle remembered something.
He slid down the ladder back into the hull, running back the way he’d originally come from, he had to warn the squad! The room where they slept came into sight, and Eagle's hopes were raised.
The ship rocked as the first bomb blew. It was at the end of the long corridor, and then the second went, then the third, then the fourth. All in quick succession at measured intervals in every second room. He couldn’t just leave the pets he’d gone through so much with behind, he ran towards the exploding rooms and into the one where the Deltas slept, they were all awake due to the violent rocking of the ship and the loud noises of fire tearing apart steel.
“We need to get out of here, NOW!” Eagle ran into the room, exclaiming his urgent news.
No words were needed, the Deltas all followed in quick succession. Matrix lead them in the right direction, they had to go further inwards into the hull and down into the under-hull hangar, that was where the boats were kept. They rushed down the stairs as water began to spill into the ship, the red alarms dotted around the ship started going off along with the abandon ship alarms. Another long corridor lay ahead of them at the bottom, but it was sealed by several doors.
“Get those open!” Hawk bawled.
Blitz and Doctor all began trying to turn the vault style wheel on the door, forcing it open. As it shuddered open, the ship took another large hit and it shook so hard that everyone except the two pets holding on to the door were knocked to the floor. More water rushed in as Matrix gave the order to get through the door. Blitz and Doctor went through first, then Hawk and Matrix. Vector, Ranger, Flash, Striker and Scorch ran through in that order. But before Eagle could get through, another bomb went off completely filling the room with water, the water pressurized the door into closing, and the latch self sealed itself. Eagle was now completely underwater, he swam to the ceiling to get a gasp of air, before even the ceiling was underwater. He swam back to the door, and tried to open the latch. There was no friction on his hands, however, so trying to open it was useless.
He saw Matrix’s face on the other side, he wasn’t underwater, but he was extremely wet. He was pointing behind Eagle, telling him to go back the other way. It must have only been a one way door. Eagle turned and started swimming back down the corridor to the stairs. When he reached them, he looked up. His vision was starting to blur heavily due to the water clogging his eyes, he felt tired. He needed to rest, maybe he could just go to sleep and he’d wake up and this would all be a dream. But he found the will to carry on, and he began to swim upwards until the stairs was no longer engulfed in water, he dragged himself onto the step, he took a few seconds to catch his breath before moving on. He ran back into the corridor in which he’d first seen The Commander. Parts of it were completely blown open to the sea, but the corridor was not underwater. It was slowly tilting into the water below; the ship had begun to sink, and it was getting closer and closer to going under.
Another explosion rocked the ship even further, and as Eagle was peering out of one of the holes at the oncoming sea, it threw him out of the ships exterior. He managed to catch the ledge as he fell, but parts of rugged metal sliced his hand deep and he cried out in pain. He looked below. It was either drop and swim, or stay and die. He chose the latter, falling into the ocean below, he made himself as thin as possible so that the impact wouldn’t break any of his bones.
It still hurt. He entered the sea and plunged about five meters into it before the cold sea shocked his system and adrenaline surged through his veins. The salty taste of the sea made him gag. His eyes stung as he started to swim back to the surface. When his head was free of the water, he took a deep gasp and started swimming in what he knew was the opposite direction of the now sinking boat. As he came out from underneath the blown open hull, he realized it was raining heavily, and that a storm was ravaging the ocean to no end. But he had to keep swimming.
He swam until his arms were limp and lifeless, and his breath came in short fast wheezes. Then he stopped, and turned to face the ship, he tried to tread water but every so often a large wave would come along and knock him under. From what he could see, he was about three hundred meters away, and there was no sign of anyone else escaping. The ship was now at a fourty five degree angle in the water, and was sinking fast.
“There’s still a chance, there’s always a chance.” Eagle muttered to himself, whilst straining to remain above the cold, salty embrace of the ocean.
And then the Ship exploded. The entire ship went up in a ball of flame, as did Eagle's chance of rescue, and the Squad’s chance of survival. Everyone would die out at sea, where no one would know what happened.
Anger welled up inside Eagle, but it was helpless, he could do nothing.
He decided to lay back and try helplessly to float above the waves. The water kept jumping into his mouth and nostrils, his eyes began to grow heavy. The last thing he saw in his mind was Matrix’s face as it told him to go back through the small porthole window on the door that had sealed him and separated his fate from that of the squads.
At least they died together.
He would die alone.
Heroes save lives. Heroes fight for justice. Heroes know what’s right. Heroes die together. Heroes aren’t fearless. Heroes don’t come home. Heroes, will always be remembered.
Delta Squad, RIP, February 19, 2011.
End of Chapter 21: (Finale)