Chapter 18: Revolution
The road back to the Ledford building proved to be quite uneventful, which was just fine with Daniel. After the events of the past one and a half hours, he needed to clear his head. He couldn’t even decide whether the nuke disturbed him more, or Simmons’s mere existence. That Esmosian crippled Daniel for the rest of his life and killed the person he has been serving with since Bootcamp, and now she was here to help? What sort of sick joke was this?
The thought that both the nuke and the agent were conjured up by the universe just to agitate him also crossed his mind more than once.
When they finally arrived at the office, it took a lot of effort for Daniel to even stand up, let alone make his way out of the prison truck. As he and the rest of his squad left the vehicle he felt somewhat better upon seeing that the Ledford building's entrance was fortified with vehicles, crates, and all sorts of improvised defenses. He was also quick to notice that the building was suddenly a lot more crowded than before, and there were a couple of the soldiers from Bull squad standing guard on the other side of the barricade. “Seems like Bull made it alright,” remarked Daniel.
Hopkins turned to him to respond when her eyes suddenly stopped at one of the soldiers. She ran past Daniel all of a sudden, noticing that Captain Brown was one of the guards.
The Captain’s armor was full of scorch marks and dents, but otherwise, the man seemed okay. He and Hopkins saluted to each other, and Daniel noticed that both of their eyes had the exact same emerald green color. He made a mental note to himself to ask about it as Brown turned to Major Jefferson.
“Major! Glad you’re holding up,” said the Captain as he shook hands with Jefferson.
“You look like shit on the other hand,” he replied jokingly. “I’m sure you’ve got stories to tell but we found something… well, disturbing.”
Captain Brown nodded. “Right, we can discuss it inside.”
Brown greeted everyone else from Rhino and Charlie quite similarly. He was about to greet Riley as well when he literally froze.
“Permission to come aboard Captain?” asked Riley mockingly, with a smug smile on his face.
The Captain wasn’t amused at all. He retracted his hand and turned towards Jefferson. “Where’d you find this idiot?”
“Sorry Cap,” replied Nick instead of the major. “I figured I’d take him along after he saved my ass, killed half a dozen soldiers, and found an ancient relic.”
Brown stared at Nick for a while before he turned back to Riley. “I’m keeping my eye on you,” he said finally.
“Make sure you look at my vest too!” boasted Riley as he pointed to his Lieutenant patch. When the captain noticed it, he looked just as confused as he was angry. He did not say anything else though, but instead, he stormed inside the office while leaving Hopkins there. She turned towards Riley with crossed arms.
“What?” he asked. “He had it coming!”
As the soldiers made their way into their makeshift FOB, Daniel noticed that there were some new bullet holes in the walls of the first floor, along with a large gap on the left side of the structure. Another squad of enemies, who were officially called the New Azuno Federation according to the log, must have attacked the base at one point.
Before walking up to the meeting room which served as their command center, Daniel took a few minutes to walk around the lower floors. With Captain Stanley’s men, there were now 21 soldiers in the building. Curious about their arrival, Daniel talked to Winters as soon as he found the Corporal sitting on top of a crate of munitions.
As it turned out, Bull squad had a surprisingly easy job, since the T-Croc bomb that leveled the SAM site near the Anthill Military base ended up killing most of the defenders by the time Bull had arrived. They were able to take the rest out without much issue, and afterwards shutting down the turrets was a cakewalk.
Daniel was going up to the second floor when he ran into Master Sergeant Dresden. He seemed angry about something, but he seemed happy to see Daniel. “Schmidt! Glad to see you in one piece!”
“Hey Andrew!” replied Daniel as they shook hands. “What’s the problem?”
“You know how we had a RAT tank on the Skyraider?”
“Well, it parachuted down alright, but Staff Sergeant Nichols ended up dropping it on the goddamned roof of a house!”
Daniel couldn’t help but laugh at the situation. “That’s quite the predicament. Did you manage to contact them yet?”
“Still no luck in that regard, but they sent down a note as well.”
Dresden pulled out a folded piece of paper from one of his pockets and then handed it to Danny. He quickly unfolded it. “Here you go, just don’t break it. We have about five hours’ worth of fuel left, so make it fast people!”
Daniel scratched the back of his head. “Five hours… that might be a problem.”
“Maybe,” responded Dresden with a shrug. “but in an emergency, they should be able to land somewhere around that military base we cleaned out.”
After reading it once again to memorize it, Daniel handed it back to Dresden and then continued walking up the stairs. He ran into both Hopkins and Weiss on his way up, but the two soldiers were busy discussing something technical, so Daniel didn’t bother them. He hastily walked up to the meeting room. As he stepped inside and found a few changes. The desk and the wall on the left had numerous maps on it, and there was an old radio on the top of a small shelf, with a headset attached to it and a chair in front of it.
Captain Kingsley, Brown and Stanley were standing around the map, while Jefferson was discussing something with Patterson. Once the Major noticed him, he told Daniel to close the room’s door.
“Alright,” he said afterwards, “since Dresden is busy trying to find a way to get the tank off from that roof, I think we can begin.”
Daniel took a seat, but once he saw that nobody followed his example, he stood right back up.
“Now, I’m sure you’ve been told about the nuclear situation we have here.”
“Yes,” replied Kingsley “Quite a disturbing revelation.”
“That’s for certain, but we need to discuss another issue.”
Daniel crossed his arms. “What’s more important than a nuke in the middle of the city we’re in?”
Jefferson pulled out his wrist terminal, and after scrolling around a bit on it, he placed it on the table. “I suspected that there was something more going on here than just a broken GCSA tower, and it seems like that my suspicion was right.”
“Yes, the jamming,” nodded Brown. “Do we know where it originates from?”
“No, but we do know the exact specs of the device.”
Patterson raised his eyebrow. “We do?”
“That’s right. In fact, PFC Weiss invented it.”
The Major explained that before her team was dismantled, Weiss had her own tech division inside the ACDF. They were working on ways to block or effectively shut down radio frequencies remotely under the codename of Project Cipher. They were close to a breakthrough with their prototype device, but then one day the GIS arrested one of her team members as she had previously mentioned, which resulted in the dismantling of her entire division.
“Not that I doubt the integrity of the Global Intelligence Service,” remarked Stanley. “…but am I the only one who finds this bloody suspicious?”
“Certainly not,” Jefferson replied “but we need to focus on the current situation for now. Weiss was smart enough to keep some of her old schematics, so we know how the device looks like, but we don’t know where it is.”
“We do know where the nuke is though,” said Patterson as he turned towards the Major.
“That we do, which is why I support Kingsley’s plan to create a diversion and then strike at Central Blackfortress. One half of the strike team can investigate the tower while the other attempts to recapture the city hall, and afterwards, the reactor.”
Daniel nodded in approval. “Multi-tasking worked great so far. I second that.”
“Me too,” agreed Brown. “Guerilla tactics are the only things we can rely on until we have Big Sister’s support again.”
“Speaking of them, any word on where they are?” asked Cole.
“They’re still in the air somewhere in the eastern part of the city. That’s all we know though.” Brown explained.
Kingsley took a step forward. “Not that I don’t appreciate you all supporting my plan,” he started “but who’s going to hold this place once we begin our attack?”
“Nobody,” Jefferson answered. “Weiss mentioned that she can turn the ICN terminal here into a portable variant which we can take with us. As for the cannon, McConnel and Tibor were both eager to blow it up.”
Cole snorted. “No surprise there. Plus, if we can get the tank off from the roof, we won’t really need it.”
“Speaking of McConnel,” Brown said. “I’m not entirely sure it was a good idea to draft him into service. Not just because of his liberal interpretation of protocol, but because he’s inexperienced.”
Daniel turned to the captain. “Maybe, but do you honestly think that he would just go home and wait if we kicked him out?”
“Besides,” continued Cole. “…he’s been fighting these Federation guys far longer than anyone in here, and that’s not an advantage that we should just toss out the window.”
Brown didn’t reply, but instead just turned towards Jefferson. “So what about that nuke?”
“Well, if we could disable it then that would make my day for sure, but frankly… it might be better to just call in the cavalry once we’ve got comms back.”
“Pretty sure our orders won’t let that,” noted Brown.
“Well, with all due respect to the General and AMC Command; screw them. If they have a problem with the way we handle things, they are free to come here and correct us.”
“Didn’t the log say that the Feds would blow the bomb if we tried leaving?” asked Patterson.
“It did, but that was recorded when the enemy still had the storage drive that McConnel recovered,” Jefferson noted. “If his theory that the NAF came here for that thing is true, then they won’t pull the trigger until they have it.”
Captain Stanley scratched the back of his head. “Hold up. If that is true, what’s going to stop these fellas from blowing their bomb once the drive leaves the city? Since I assumed that we would evacuate once we got the chance to do so.”
Jefferson blinked. For the first time today, he seemed clueless. “That is a…” he started, but he didn’t continue the sentence until after a bit of a delay. “Hm. Ethics probably.”
“Wait, wait… are you saying that Riley essentially can’t leave the city?” Patterson asked as he leaned closer to the others.
“Not with the drive at least,” answered Brown. “And if we leave it here, or we destroy it then the NAF will either get it and then blow their bomb, or they’ll skip to step two,”
Daniel placed his hands on his hips and stared out the window. They were effectively unable to leave the island, unless they either gave the drive to the enemy, effectively handing them their goal, or they let the city blow up.
Their only realistic option was to stay and fight, no matter how much causalities they took.
“Well, I guess this answers the question of fighting or fleeing,” remarked Daniel.
“Seems that way,” agreed Kingsley. “So, who’s leading which team?”
“…once that’s done, the enemy should be distracted with the attack long enough for the strike team to get through the gate and drive inside the city center,” explained Daniel to the other soldiers. “From there, we’d split up, with one team going for the tower to look for the jammer, while the other would go to the city hall. Any questions?”
Jones raised his hand. “Sergeant, are you sure that blowing up this cannon is the right call? Having it would make things a whole lot easier for us down the line.”
“I agree with you, but the problem is that we’re taking the ICN terminal and every soldier here with us. If we wanted to use the cannon, then we would need to leave at least three or four of us back here to defend the office, and we need everyone we have on the attack.”
Jones shook his head disappointedly.
While the captains and Jefferson were preparing the vehicles, Daniel and Patterson were explaining the battle plan to the rest of Rhino and Bull. Stanley’s two soldiers were here as well, though they didn’t exactly decide yet which squad they wanted to belong to.
“Now,” continued Cole. “since the SAM site might be just as heavily defended as the city gate, we’ll send the tank there, along with seven of you. Any volunteers?”
Richards, Winters, and the two soldiers of Stanley, Hauet and Bisson, all raised their hands.
“Dibs on the tank cannon!” exclaimed Richards.
“I’ll take the wheel!” said Bisson and Dresden in unison.
Hauet rolled her eyes. “Fine, I’ll walk then…”
In the next few minutes, everyone got assigned to their respective squads. Echo team, led by Captain Brown and Captain Kingsley, consisted of Weiss, Ira, and Jones since the three of them had gotten used to each other’s company. Their job was to investigate the GCSA tower while Patterson’s Rhino team would go for the city hall. Daniel, along with North, Nick, Riley, and Hopkins were part of Rhino naturally, and everyone else was assigned to Major Jefferson’s and Captain Stanley’s Alpha team.
Once everybody had gotten their respective assignments, Patterson spoke up. “All right people, any questions before we leave?”
To Daniel’s surprise, nobody raised their hands. “Nobody? Great. I won’t lie to you ladies and gentlemen, what we’re about to do here might very well end with us dying a noble, but painful death,” explained Cole. “But, we’re not the kind of people who will run away from fearful odds, are we?”
“You bet your ass we’re not, Lieutenant!” said Master Sergeant Dresden enthusiastically.
“Damn right! When we were surrounded by dozens of enemy soldiers back in Grarrak what did we do? We charged forward until we made a hole in their forces!”
A few of the veteran soldiers raised their hands or cheered.
“That, my friends, is exactly what we need to do today! The New Azuno Federation has been here for well over a week now, and you can bet that they entrenched their positions. But guess what, we have everything we need to drag those bastards out of there!”
Another round of cheering later Patterson continued. “We may have been kicked in the balls when we arrived, but we are still standing, unlike many of the enemies. Today, we’ll show the rest of the world what the AMC and the Sapphirian Navy are made out of, and if we bite the dust then at least the world will know that we didn’t go quietly!”
Patterson raised his fist. “For Azuno!” yelled Patterson.
The sound of the soldiers cheering was probably heard in the entire neighborhood.
Once the speech was over, the soldiers made their way to their respective squads. Both Echo and Alpha teams had a prison transport truck, but Alpha was also outfitted with the tank now that Dresden managed to pray it off from the roof.
Daniel was the first to get into Rhino’s T-Croc, and once he activated the engine, he moved aside a bit so that Hopkins could take a seat too. One by one, Patterson, Nick, North, and finally Riley got into the APC, and as soon as everybody was seated, Daniel spoke into the vehicle’s radio. “Rhino ready!”
“Echo is ready as well,” replied Captain Brown.
“Alpha-2 here,” Specialist Bisson reported. “The tank is loaded and ready to roll!
“Alpha-1 is ready as well.” Major Jefferson announced.
“Sounds like we’re good to go,” remarked Hopkins.
Daniel nodded, and then reached for the radio again. “This is Rhino to all units; Operation Black Knight is once again, a go!”
Alpha team’s vehicles began rolling forward as fast as they could. As soon as the tank was out of the parking lot, Daniel stepped on the gas pedal and the T-Croc launched onwards. They followed Alpha for a while with Echo team on their tail, passing by numerous apartment buildings and abandoned vehicles. As much as he was used to the sight by now, Daniel still found it eery that there wasn't a single soul anywhere.
As soon as they reached the main highway, Alpha continued rolling forward while Rhino took a turn to the left.
Once Daniel said farewell to the attack team, he leaned back into his seat a bit. As he was driving their T-Croc towards their next objective, he felt a strange mix of happiness and excitement.
“Man I missed this…” he said after a sigh.
Hopkins raised one of her eyebrows. “You missed driving into a heavily defended hostile territory?”
“…in an armored vehicle, yes. Nothing better than driving around in an armored brick where nobody can hit you.”
It seemed like Hopkins understood what Daniel had meant if the smile on her face was any indication. “I can actually understand that. I’m not much of a fighter, to be honest with you, but there’s nothing I enjoy more than traveling inside gigantic ships or trucks that I helped fix.”
Daniel nodded in approval. “Is that why you joined the Navy? To fix things?”
“Sort of,” replied Hopkins after a bit of thinking. “I wanted to see all of the new techs they developed for myself, and it was sort of a family tradition to serve. Plus, I always liked tinkering with things…”
“Tradition huh? Who else is serving?”
“My dad, actually. In fact, you already met him!”
He suddenly remembered his observation of Captain Brown. “That wouldn’t happen to be––”
Before Daniel finished the question, he saw something weird appear in the sky. For a moment a small part of the scenery above them looked like it was being reflected off of something, but the phenomenon disappeared just as quickly as it appeared.
As if it just flew by.
“Hopkins, did you see that?”
The corporal leaned closer to the T-Croc’s front windshield, but she couldn’t see anything. “I can’t say I did.”
Daniel lowered his eyebrows as he reached for his radio and asked Nick the same question, who in turn just politely asked if Daniel was high right now. He turned off the radio afterwards. “I swear I saw somet––”
Out of nowhere, a dark blue aircraft appeared in the sky, with its weapons being aimed at their T-Croc. Daniel turned the T-Croc to the left as hard as he could, just in time to avoid the rocket that was fired at them.
“How about that Corporal?! Did you see that one?!” he shouted in his surprise.
Daniel was about to yell at Nick to start firing but he was already ahead of him. The attack plane was being showered with bullets, and after a few of the shots hit the cockpit it began violently spinning. The injured pilot opened fire in a last-ditch attempt to take down their T-Croc, but moments afterwards the aircraft hit one of the houses on the side of the street and shattered into multiple smoking pieces on impact.
“Nice shooting…” muttered Hopkins to herself as she gazed out the window.
“I don’t know about you Lola, but that thing looked mighty familiar. I’m going to check it out.”
“You get no arguments from me!”
Daniel quickly radioed Echo team about the situation and then stopped their T-Croc not too far from the crashed aircraft. He quickly got out of the cockpit while Nick and Hopkins made their way out as well. The three of them quickly closed off the distance between them and the wreck. I
t did not take long for them to figure out what kind of an aircraft it was, and when they did, Daniel groaned up in his frustration.
“For fuck’s sake! How?! How do these NAF guys have a Mark V dragonfly in their arsenal?!”
Hopkins didn’t reply but instead just grabbed her head. Nick on the other hand seemed confused. “Can somebody fill in the Aftonian here?”
“This thing,” replied Hopkins as she pointed at the wreck. “…is a stealth plane that isn’t even out of prototype phase, let alone in active service!”
Daniel couldn’t even begin to theorize how the enemy was able to get their hands on this aircraft, much less how they found out about it in the first place. The only thing he was certain of was that the Federation was serious about their business if they had nukes and non-existent stealth planes in their arsenal. He shook his head in his frustration and left Hopkins and Nick to their discussion.
I'm just an average dude from Hungary who has way too much time on his hands. I started writing a couple years ago as a hobby, partly because I wanted to practice and improve my English, and partly because there's just something amazing about inventing new worlds and people from scratch and then writing about their deeds and adventures.
At this point I honestly can't imagine myself putting down my writing pen ever again, and I would like to wish lots of luck to every other writer out there with their projects!
Favorite genres: Science Fiction, Adventure, Military