Chapter 1 - District of Embraya
rocket exploded in a flurry of light, shrapnel, and heat before
the general even had a chance to take
"Get the fuck down!" someone shouted in Allen's ear just
before it hit. The next thing he remembered, he was being
pulled down into the bunker by a mess of arms, the last glimpse
of his general firing into a group of UDA troops, then looking
"No!" he yelled, straining against his
teammates to get back up to ground level. It was to no
Tossed into the underground bunker, Allen
sank to his knees as he watched a man help some others shoot
down UDA soldiers at the entrance. After felling two, the blast
door was closed, shut tight. The man rushed to Allen's
"Allen! Allen!" He was on his knees shaking his comrade
almost violently. Allen's eyes were looking into the other
man's, but his mind was elsewhere. Three times today, now, he
had watched a close friend die. Today. He blinked, and looked around at the
cracked walls and ceiling of the bunker. That was a hell of a
blast, even for a bunker this large. Allen wondered if any of
the surrounding bunkers held as many soldiers as this one.
Hell, he wondered if they even held any
now, the other man had called out for a medic, if there was one
present. "I think he's gone deaf!" he
Allen looked at him. "No, Blitz. I can hear
you." he said in a low, somber tone. "It wasn't close enough
for it to knock my hearing out."
Blitz looked away, waving off the medic that
had arrived at his call. "It's alright. He's fine." The medic
nodded and shuffled of to the aid of another injured troop.
Facing Allen once more, he said, "Hays was a friend to me, too.
A hell of a soldier. But you can't change what happened.
Remember that he died for a reason, like all the
down, looked at the MP5K series-model gun still in his hands.
He had chosen it specifically out of a variety of selections.
It didn't just shoot bullets. No, it sprayed
them. He enjoyed using
automatic guns for situations like this. For situations like
General Hays'. Maybe... he
thought. I could've helped him. Could've gunned a
few of those fuckers down while he got inside. Maybe it's
"Parker! Elza!" A booming voice rang down the
corridor behind the two. They turned to see a tall
African-American man, garbed in the regulatory captain uniform,
coming towards them.
"Captain Reynolds!" Blitz yelped, jumping to
his feet along with Allen. The soldiers stood, backs erect,
giving a formal salute.
ease." Reynolds said, stopping in front of them. The two
relaxed. "Well, I'm glad to see you boys are still kickin', at
least." He noted a gash on Blitz's face, a memoir from the last
"Yes, sir." Elza said. Allen only nodded,
looking at the ground.
"Moreover," he said "I would like to relay the
news of the presidential race's conclusion." Blitz Elza raised
Captain Reynolds straitened his back and
folded his arms behind him. "Candidate Lucas has beaten out
Harrison and Frank. He's won the election." he said, an
approving smile on his face. Both privates looked
figured." Allen said, broken from his trance. He removed his
helmet, revealing a low-lying layer of blond hair. "He's a
master of propaganda."
Reynolds shot him a disapproving look. "Even
so, he meant every word he said. He will put us back to what we
should be." He smiled, more to himself than to the soldiers,
showing off an chipped incisor, a "badge of courage", as he
called it. Clearing his
throat,he said, "On another note, I've been sent to round the
two of you up. You're to see Adviser Wadell, regarding
yesterday's skirmish on the outskirts."
"Y'mean the outpost, sir?" Parker asked
The captain looked at him gravely. "More importantly, the nuke you found inside it."
Allen and Blitz stood in a line with two
other individuals. The one standing next to Allen, a big, burly
man in a general's uniform, was standing, back straight, with
his arms folded behind his back. His name was Dimitri
Cherzevok, the standing field commander of the 32nd Rangers
regiment. The man on the other side, younger than most Rangers,
was Corporal Omith, who stood with his eyes glued to the desk
in front of the string of people. Seated behind it was Adviser Wadell, who sat
speaking to a man behind him sporting a standardized pilot's
outfit. He, like Cherzevok, was not a small man. His large
frame hid the back of his chair from sight, his large hands
folded in his lap while he spoke.
Blitz nudged Allen with his elbow. "This guy
better hurry it the hell up, before this entire thing
collapses." he said, noting the shudder of the walls every time
a blast came near. Allen ignored him. Over the years that
they'd known each other, he had learned to block Blitz's
Giving a nod to the pilot behind him, Wadell
swiveled back around to face the Rangers. Sticking his tongue
against the inside of his cheek, his glanced over some papers
on his desk. With his head hung, you could see that his dark
hair was already starting to thin, although he was only in his
mid forties. War takes its toll on a man.
cleared his throat, and looked to Cherzevok. "General
Cherzevok?" he inquired. After the general affirmed this, he
continued, "Alright. Would you like to give your account, here,
Cherzevok nodded, licking his lips. "Yes." He
spoke surprisingly fluently in English. He carried a
considerably heavy Russian accent, although it wasn't so that
you had trouble understanding him."Yesterday, we were deployed
to the eastern sector, on the outskirts of Embraya, nearing the
District of Barton. Air support had detected several large
masses of UDA soldiers coming from a large outpost north of our
Allen remembered that moment, getting the
warning from air support, then looking to the north. He
remembered the massive amounts of them coming at them, armed
with the most advanced guns and scopes and grenades,
outnumbering all twelve or thirteen Ranger platoons three to
one. He remembered the gut-wrenching, heart-sinking realization
that D.C. would just keep pumping more and more of them out.
There never seemed to be a shortage of patriots for the
twisted, corrupted monstrosity that once was the United States
Ergon Wadell nodded as the general spoke,
jotting down notes on his desk, having to scratch out mistakes
here and there due to the shaking of the
"Their sheer numbers alone wore us down a
great deal." Cherzevok was saying. "Their weaponry dealt even
heavier blows to our troops." He paused, waiting for the
adviser to fix a mistake and catch up with him. "With some help
from air forces, we managed to push through. But our body count
was tremendous. Very few of us made it through the
were given direct orders to infiltrate and destroy the UDA
outpost. Those of us remaining - a very few, I would say only a
good forty or fifty - set out for it. There were complaints:
Not enough troops, low ammunition. And of course they were
Another blast - close, they could tell -
shook the bunker. There were shouts outside the room, in the
Let's hurry it the hell up,
Blitz thought, cringing at the
smaller blasts following the larger
"Long, bloody story short," the general said,
"we infiltrated the outpost. Pushed our way through, cutting
down anyone in our way, getting farther and farther into the
building. We got deep enough, and found a nuclear bomb - set
up, getting ready to go. We shot at some things that...looked
important, but we only managed to delay the launching, for more
UDA troopers were on their way from smaller, neighboring
Wadell continued giving absent-minded nods.
Parker began to think that he didn't have a care in the world
about dying SLM troopers.
just...did not have enough fire power to overcome them. We were
evacuated by air support, and brought back to
adviser finished off his notes, and put his pen down. He swept
his gaze across the line of people, then back to General
Cherzevok. "And you are the only survivors of the
Cherzevok nodded, although he knew that it
wasn't a question, only a thoughtless statement. He and Parker
shared similar views of Ergon Wadell.
"Well, then, general." he said, folding his
hands. "How would you like another chance at
Cherzevok waited for him to further
supply you with the needed firepower to overcome the UDA
outpost, I'm sure." He used the word supply
as if he could just load up a
few "expendables" and ship them out. "It doesn't seem that we
have much time. Lucas hasn't been put into office quite yet...I
would be next in line to set this all
The Russian glanced to Corporal Omith, then to Privates Elza and Parker. Letting out a sigh, he looked again to the man at the desk. "Yes. Yes we are."
underground hanger in the bunker was alive with lights, roaring
engines and people scrambling in all directions. Wires, of
every width and color, lay strung across the floor, connecting
to large electric generators, or small computers laying atop
metal desks, at which sat engineers tapping on keys, grids and
graphs displayed on the screens. Those who were not at work on
computers were giving a few final, brief inspections on the
helicopters scattered across the hanger.
Somewhere amongst the chaos, a mass of pilots and ground soldiers stood listening around Ergon Wadell, who was explaining the battle plan.
"We've taken the best five platoons we've got in this place, and that's you." he said. "You will all be sent out via helicopter convoy to a UDA military outpost east of here. Inside, you will find one hell of a big nuclear missile, and it's pointed right at us. So you'd better not fail at disarming it. Failure to complete this mission could - would - result in catastrophic consequences. Do I make myself clear, gentlemen?"
gaze flew to a soldier throwing his hand up in the crowd.
"Yes?" he asked.
man cleared in throat with a curt grunt. "Yeah, how are we
gonna know that there aren't any near-by enemy placements that
we don't have to worry about blowin' the entire damn thing up,
with us inside?"
Wadell didn't make any efforts to laugh, or
make any facial expressions at all, for that matter. "They
wouldn't risk destroying their own base,
Another man spoke up. "Yeah, but we all know
that Mirat don't give a damn about his own troops. "Danger
close" hasn't ever meant anything to him, and it never
will." A few others
grunted in agreement.
"Perhaps not." Wadell said. "But they still
wouldn't dare risk a bombing without their missile already
launched. I'm sure Emperor Mirat would spare a couple hundred
of us in exchange for the entire headquarters of the SLM. May I
remind you, he wants us wiped off the map."
crowd took this with silence.
"But we aren't going to let that happen, huh?"
General Cherzevok said, grinning, putting his fist into the
air. Cheers erupted from
the mass of soldiers; countless fists rose up with Cherzevok.
Wadell merely observed it with pursed lips.
"We'll see, general. We'll see." And with
that, he motioned for everyone to load onto the helicopters and
set off. The people parted for him as he went
"All right, then." the general said, raising
his chin. "Let's load up!"
chorus of "whoops" emitted from the soldiers once more as the
mass broke, filing into their designated helicopters. Allen and
Blitz follow General Cherzevok through the mess of people and
wires to theirs.
"Wadell seems a little unenthusiastic." Blitz
said. "For being our military adviser, and
"Ignore him, Elza." came to the reply. "He
thrives off of pessimism, you know it. Let it
Blitz just shook his head and swallowed his
protests as they came upon their helicopter. Its exterior was
painted a deep blue, cut through by a solid white line
streaking all the way across the hull. The front end was
painted to look like a shark's head, only this shark had
light-blue skin that faded into the black hull with sharp,
blood red teeth lined up against a pitch-black maw. It had two
sets of propellers, the supports jutting out and up on either
side of the body. The hull's large sliding doors were closed
tight, as if it were forbidding entry.
Allen stared at it in awe. "Whoa.
This is an AC-L 34, isn't it?" He reached out and ran his hand
over the metal plating. "This is a brand new line of these
things. Feel this armoring! Wainrithium. Titanium, ironand
aluminum mixed. The perfect combination of strength and
Blitz wasn't as impressed. He used to work
with the engineers before he entered actual armed forces, which
was only a little over a year ago. He got to see the plans for
this model and several others long before they were ever
manufactured. Aside from a few modifications with the landing
gear and ammunition compartments, the vehicle in front of him
wasn't much different than the one in the blueprints eleven
is much more...glamorous when you are a new-comer to these
sorts of things, eh? Once you're around them more, they lose
their glamor. Trust me." Cherzevok patted Parker on the back, a
slightly grim expression on his face. He moved closer to the
helicopter and rapped on it's hull with his knuckles. Inside,
there was a rustling sound, then some latches unlocking. The
door slid open, and inside, standing tall on the metal
flooring, was the pilot standing behind Ergon Wadell in the
"Aye, lad!" he said, his British
accent loud and clear, even over the roar of the countless
engines in the hanger. He looked over his shoulder to someone
in the direction of the pilot's cabin. "The general's here! Get
out here, boy!" He turned his head back to the three men. "Ah,
well, nice meetin' ya, General Cherzevok!" He took the man's
hand in his and shook it firmly, grinning wildly. "I saw you in
the meetin' a bit ago, nice finally being able to talk to
Cherzevok nodded his head. "The pleasure is
pilot smiled again and nodded his head as well. "The name's
Rini. I know, an Italian name, right? My father was a bloody
Italian, but my mother -eh, mymother - was a full-blooded
British woman. I s'pose I got her accent, is
"Wonderful." Blitz said, heaving a sigh. Allen
shot him a shut-your-mouth look, and followed his general into
"Strap yourselves in, lads." Rini said. "This
is gonna be a bumpy ride." He turned to close the sliding door,
but turned at the sound of a voice calling.
"Hank!" The young Corporal Omith came sliding
out of the cockpit, down the little "hallway" into the main
cabin. "Hank, what'd you - oh, General Cherzevok!" He
immediately straightened his back, saluting his
Cherzevok waved off the gesture. "At ease,
corporal. Come, have a seat. We're preparing to lift off, it
seems. He looked out the open door at the last of the other
soldiers piling into their helicopters. Omith gave a nod, and sat down on a metal
bench jutting from the wall while Hank Rini turned back towards
the door. Even with five men in here, there was room for more.
These newer AC-L models not only came with enhanced armor and
fire power, but increased hull size as
Rini slid the door shut, and the room was
immediately filled with a sickly deep-red light emitting from
fluorescent lights on the ceiling.
"Liftin' off in twenty!" he said, then made
his way back to the cockpit.
four strapped their belts around them, hearing - and feeling -
the hum of the engine as it started up.
Hank's voice crackled to life over the
intercom, drifting all throughout the cabin. "Alright, mates,
we're lifting up! Eh, Sean! Hit that red button next to you.
The flat, round one. It should open up the aerial view port
Corporal Omith scanned the wall to his left,
looking for the button the other was talking about. Because of
the red glow of the lights, everything looked blood-red to him.
But he finally found the button and tapped it.
Immediately a thin layer of metal
on the ceiling slid open, revealing a large, rectangular
window. Looking out of it, the four men saw the hanger's huge
metal ceiling splitting open, flooding the entire room with the
bright yellow light of the morning sun.
They shielded their eyes as the helicopter
lifted off of the floor and started its ascent out of the
hanger, out into the desert of the District of
Rini's voice came over the intercom once
more. "Hang on, lads, here we go!"
"Stay frosty." Cherzevok
And with that, the helicopter rose out of the hanger and into the sky, followed by a hundred other of the mechanical monsters.