Fifth

The field was wide, open, with no cover, without a pebble to lay behind in hopes to dodge the shrapnel boosting away from the craters, and the bullets shooting across the open. Soldiers fell prone, others just fell on their backs, a small spray of blood falling in the wind, and dissipating. The soldiers whom did not cease to exist, well we dragged ourselves under the crossfire and huddled together.

"Who're we missing?"

"Private Holt and Private Ward are dead, sir. We Can not find Privates Kin or Private Logan,"I shouted as loud as his chords would let him.

"Alright, that's not so bad," The Sergeant, Gordon Tucker, started drawing in the mud, "I got a call that Gamma Squad is missing in action, I want what's left of Theta Squad to go down the side of this hill and try to find them near our last rally point, which is where we last heard them, before they went towards the electric tower out in the distance. Foxtrot Squad will try to push up here, and we'll all meet back up at the tower. Scatter."

The teams split up, I headed with Theta, knowing that Gamma was probably all dead and that we were all going to die looking for them. Tucker called behind me, "You're in charge of Theta, Winston," and without craning my neck behind me, I gathered that much, and ran with my team, desperate to not get hit by the swarm of enemy fire ahead of us.

These suits make you super soldiers, men.

We slid, or rolled, down the slope of mud and rotted grass. I noted that everything smelt like animal shit. Wet animal shit. My head spun at the bottom, and I got to my feet, the whole team circling me.

"Everyone magnify x50 to mid-East location. You should come over the tower. Now, we could head that way, and after twelve minutes of sprinting..."

These suits can run twenty times as fast you can, and they can survive jumps from incredible heights.

"...and we would come across an open field, with a turret and three or four troops of reds, all staring us down with their primitive automatic rifles. Instead of tackling them head on, I suggest we go south, then turn our way into the field, surprising them..."

You can automatically locate targets, enemy fire, and if you're agile enough, maybe you can dodge a bullet.

"...by coming out of the murky swamp that's right there. At that point we won't have a problem picking them off one by one, but I don't know what we'll do about the turret..."

The rest of the squad looked at me. Not stunned, just motionless faces and dirt covering the lot of them. If anything, I thought, they looked tired.

"Any suggestions?" I said, praying they weren't all brain dead, or just flat out dead in general.

Private Sparks raised his hand, "Why can't I just pick them off from a distance. I've got a scope and a rifle."

"And how far away do you think you could hit?"

"I don't really know the distance," and most soldiers now didn't, mostly because they weren't given any training, aside from that small you're going into battle speech, so there was always a chance that they didn't know how large a klick was, "but, pretty far," he laughed. He had a very nervous laugh, and it matched well with his small body type, and smaller demeanor.

"I'm going to take your word for it then. You better hit the fucking target," I wrapped up, and the rest of the soldiers continued on the front without a word to say.


"That's a kill shot." Spark cocked his gun, and a steaming empty barrel rolled into the swamp water.

"Holy god damn shit, Private! You're fucking amazing." I stood in awe, really. He had taken the first shot from 900 yards away. That's a good shot too, even after the advancing technology, effecting something that far away is just crazy. He even hit inside the cement slit, killing the turret gunner. It didn't even seem possible. "Okay, Theta, you're good to move up and pick off the rest of those soldiers." I said into a radio set, as I watched small specks run around and look for cover. After a number of seconds of them knocking on the turret stall door, apparently locked, they all fell to the ground.

It was quiet for a long while. I stared at the specks, looking for movement, and after ten or so minutes, there was none.

"Are they all dead, Theta?"

"Yea, we killed 'em good."

I motioned to Sparks that we were moving up, then continued to float alongside the plain, in the murk, looking behind me to make sure he was still there every few minutes. The swamp reached an end at about 300 yards from the spot, and we hit out into the plain, rushing up. With nothing to hide behind, our only hope was that there was no one else, and that it was hard to see us amongst all the dead grass.

As we approached the site, my heart pounded more and more, more and more, and I couldn't stand it. I just didn't feel right at all. We were in distance, and that was when my helmet picked up vitals, and two enemy soldiers jumped up and began fire. It really was a short firefight though. They shot, we shot back, people died.

The armor is impenetrable by incompetent weaponry, but if they've got higher technology out in the reds, tech like we've got, or if they've got heavy artillery- I suggest you look for some cover.

Bullets bounced off of me, and my auto-lock function beeped in my ear, telling me to pull the trigger, which I did, without hesitation. The two soldiers jumped back, the spray of blood calmly turning to mist, and I fell over by the guns jolt.

Spark ran up to me, picked me up, and asked if I was okay. "Yeah, I'm fine," I said, shrugging AK-47 bullets off my chest plate, "but they cracked my helmet screen."

"So, what now?" Sparks asked, motioning his hands towards the area of dead bodies.

"Now, we call up Theta to come out here, we burn the bodies in a nice big pile so we can get that animal farm stench out of our noses, we ransack the turret for supplies and we search for Manrikan Soldiers," I replied, as I took the screen off my helmet and replaced it, before calling the squad over radio set, "Theta, it's clear, let's go."

No reply.

"Theta? Come in Theta."

Nothing, zip.

I screamed into the set for as long a I could until enemy fire pushed us into the turret base. The two of us, Private Sparks and Private Winston, shot as many of them as we could from inside there, but it didn't last long. Eventually a grenade bounced around and landed next to my feet, and we both had to jump out the door, which was broken down, now just a wide open frame, to avoid disintegration. Staring right in our faces when we recovered were about twelve AK's and enough Red's to match all of that up.


I walk away slowly, from the pool of glistening pig shit, and observe the crunch of the dirt under my shoes, and reminisce about days of old. I keep walking, in fact, until I reach cement, and it's smooth, sort of slippery, and polished, though it is dusty and dirty. It's like a sidewalk, actually, and it serves perfectly as a paved drive way for tractor's and combines and semi's, and even better as an entrance to the towering tin house that we've called The Shop.

If you head inside then there's plenty to see. The main room, which reaches to the very top of the roof, has tar splattered across the floor, and feels more slimy than the dusted patio. And if you look, or listen even, then you can find the birds which have nested along the rails under the small windows, all of which have been covered by green banners to stop the light from getting in and to stop it from getting to hot, as it does regularly in the summertime up in northwest territory.

I walk towards the back, into the deepest back of the shop as I can, and reach the back wall, which is covered with tools. Tools that fix things, and tools that break things and tools that make things come apart or together peacefully. All these tools all made out of metals and all of them made by man, by hand. A mess, in fact, and I can't find more than two wrench sizes because it's so unorganized. Some tools, screwdrivers and hammers, are still tarred up or worn from being used too often, while others have been sitting in the same spot for decades, and I can tell by how their outline is dustless if you take them away from their appropriate spot.

I retreat, however, from this back wall, because it hurts me at the moment to see so many things not be put to good use, and I think to myself that someday I'm going to use every single one of these tools for something, at least once. I want them to feel like they had a useful life, even if it was only useful one time in who knows how many decades. It is these thoughts that bring me to a small side room, a next door, which comprises of a business place.

It seems to harbor a desk and a roller chair, and though it' half brown with dirt and half black, the way it came, I decide to have a seat anyways. Studying my surroundings, I find three calendars, all right next to each other. One planted on the door I entered by, and it's current, and has swimsuit models on it, and one to the wall left of that, which is dated for December 2013 still, and when I see it I think to myself that I could probably sell it for a hefty price to some antique collector, or some museum. The other one, to the wall right of the swimsuit edition doesn't have a date on it, and it's just red with yellow backgrounds and no imagery on it, no month, and I don't pay it any mind.

Sitting in front of me is a desk, and to the left of the desk, a worn couch that looks like it came from the back of a car, and even to the left of that is a small bathroom stall, and after peering in it I feel as if I'll be sick, because of the smell, and because the water in the toilet is black, and because there are dead flies along inside it, just lie they're along every window sill.

I wash my hands in the sink across the stall, and look in the cupboards for something to eat, only finding some age-old fudge cookies which haven't been opened, and a single coca-cola can in the fridge, and I say to myself, "Fuck it," and I drink and eat them anyways. After I finish, I search the desk for no reason, or maybe because I'm here looking for something more symbolic than tools and swimsuit models, but all I find are papers dated about as old as the calendar, so I leave.

After exploring the rest of the shop, which is another small room on the opposite side of the office, and all it contains are inventory parts, such as nuts, bolts and the likes, and a tractor and an old motorcycle that was missing a wheel, I decide to go back home, because there's nothing, nothing at all. Besides, I've got to get the shit off of me, and take a shower in some old, rusty water before I go see a bunch of old, rusty cars clank their old, rusty engines together.


I'm in the shower, and I'm crying again, and I'm not sure if I should go back to protecting The Prime after I get off suspension, or if I should ever go back to the military at all, anyways. After what's happened in the past couple days, I don't know if I could, because I don't know if I could stand to see all the same old places, and think of them the same way now as I did then.

I scrub the back of my head, and it starts bleeding again, and I remember that I've probably got a head wound, and maybe even some brain damage, and I think of when the next time I could break away into town and find a doctor is. I'm sure Tom will stop in Uptown somewhere, as we pass through, so I'm not worried at all about finding one. He probably wants to get a few drinks or maybe just stop at a gas station and get snacks for the road or some junk, so I can sneak off then and see if I can get help. It should be easy if I just flash my military card. I have to make sure I flash it quickly though, because if I don't, then they'll see the big red letters over the whole card that spell out "SUSPENSION".