Silent Valor: A tale from the desert war
The 5 remaining survivors of sword squad 14 lay uncomfortably huddled in the half-mile wide, 5-foot-deep trench their 2 engineers gave their lives to finish, less than 500 feet away from the weakest point of the battered city walls of Ikasha. Their mission was to take out the Spike cannon mounted on the top of the wall. For the last 6 hours, the 7 men had tirelessly dug a circle of cover around that section of the wall. But just moments ago, they were spotted. A spike cannon round killed 2 engineers on impact before its operator was killed with a shot to the chest from returning fire, and the 7 remaining cartel gunmen defending the wall’s lower half began to engage with small arms fire from makeshift murder holes in the lower level.
1st guard rifleman Elero was hugging the bloody body of one of the engineers, crying and praying to Vetera to save his dying brother, leaving only 4 active soldiers left to make way for an assault of 15 DR26 tanks and 10 shield squads.
Observing the target, force commander Seran Daringer knew they had ample time before another 2 or 3 men mounted the spike cannon, loaded one of the heavy rounds into it, aimed it, and fired again. The only way to avoid the cannon’s fire at this point was to breach the lower half of the wall before that happened and take the cannon in melee combat.
His three remaining active squad members virtually read his mind, and their faces already emanated fear and regret as Daringer began to explain his plan.
“Everhardt, get the N-bomb off of Elero’s belt. Marton, give me a light round,” he said quickly, as the 2 men reluctantly, but hastily did as they were told.
As soon as Everhardt began crawling to Elero’s position, WPR fire riddled the ground in front of the trench, the glowing red tracers piercing even the brightness of the desert sun. As the gunmen revealed their positions to fire, Daringer hastily loaded the borrowed light round into the empty cylinder of his NP60 revolving rifle. Marton and Tethera returned blind fire cover to slow down the suppression armed with an NP60 and a fully automatic NP25 submachine gun respectively. Once the suppression had slowed, Daringer quickly jumped up to a crouching position and fired a shot into the arm of one of the heavy gunners, blowing his arm off the gun with a shattering impact explosion of bright light and sonic force, severing it from the gunman’s body before hitting the ground again.
Everhardt, half to Commander Daringer’s surprise, returned with the grenade and handed it to his commander.
“There’s only 4 left on the lower level. The other 3 are on their way to the top of the wall,” said Daringer, as he frantically unhooked his sheathed broadsword strapped to his back and handed it to Everhardt.
Everhardt turned to his 2 squadmates, and though he was only one explosion, scream, or hail of bullets away from throwing his helmet down and huddling into the space beside Elero and crying for the violence to stop, all of his doubts were washed away when he saw 1st guard riflemen Marton and Tethera trading rounds and daggers, replacing what armor plates they could, and strapping grenades to their belts in preparation, the look in their eyes reflecting the same fear as his, only a glint of something else in their expressions, overriding it. He didn't know what that thing was, but as soon as he caught the sheathed dagger Tethera tossed to him, his fear was overridden as well. He strapped the dagger to his belt, hooked the broadsword to his back, and checked the cylinder on his NP60. Only two silver rounds remain in the 6-round cylinder.
“How many silver rounds have you got?” He asked Tethera.
Tethera unstrapped the ammo pack from his back and tossed a full bag of silver rounds to Everhardt.
Everhardt suddenly felt a smile creep across his face too quickly to contain.
“I want a blade pincer on that wall on my mark,” exclaimed Daringer as he twisted the cap off of the N-bomb grenade and threw it.
“Mark!” he screamed as soon as the grenade hit its target and flew straight through a hole in the wall, and the three riflemen sprung up from the cover and rushed to the wall, unabridged by returning fire as the men on the other side scrambled to find the grenade and get out of the blast radius.
They stacked against the wall, Everdardt, and Marton on one side, and Tethera on the other, as the blast blew open a hole big enough for them to walk through, and Tethera stepped inside, followed by the other two.