The difference between Good and Evil goes back millennia. Rationalizations, justifications, relativism, excuses, desperation, desire, greed and above all fear have driven man to do the impossible, the unthinkable, the inexcusable, the depraved, the insane.
What does it take to drive subjects, colleagues, minions and slaves to do the unspeakable?
Good vs Evil, always so complex for the human race. Always the weakest link in any mans armor. There was always a way to appeal to one of the two. It was really that simple. Whatever fed you; you were drawn to.
This day would be no different The Old Man thought. Hundreds of men, in armored vehicles rode into a gap the Old Man had helped create. These Soviets it appears were here to do the mop up as it was called.
Really the hard work as the Old Man knew it for these people. It is easy for a tank to ram down a road, firing SABOT rounds left an right, picking off squads of men, shredding M113s, killing Bradleys and M1’s. Not much to fear there.
However try working your way into a town held by a contingent of desperate men, who were surrounded, low on ammunition and food. Men who knew there was little chance of relief. Men who held their fear at bay with camaraderie, bravado and false hope, these were often the best, most delicious, once the fear broke thru to consume them. Their fear gnawed at the inside, slowly gestating, It was real. He could smell it. The Old Man wanted to taste it.
The Soviets drove across the fields towards the town. Coming from the South and the East. BMP-1’s armed with MG’s, a heavy cannon and a take no prisoners doctrine hurtled from the tree line and sought either targets or cover.
Capt Moore was observing in the cornfield, his confidence now shattered. There was no way. No way, no how, to hold this many Soviets off. In fact they were closing so fast he was likely to get caught with his pants down. This did not happen at officers school.
Sgt York however had seen the exhaust of the enemy a while ago. Situated in a long brick office building replete with staff cafeteria they held a commanding view of the approaching enemy.
The microwave behind him dinged. “All right Larry hand me one those dam Hot Pockets. None of that pepperoni bullshit, just ham and cheese.” He said. A steaming package of wet cheese, mushy pastry in saran wrap flew towards his head. In seconds the wrapping was discarded and the food had vanished. “How the hell do you do that?” Said Larry “mfwhetat?” mumbled York, his mouth full of scalding hot processed food, a flavorful mix of corn syrup, processed wheat, fake cheese and other not good for you shit. But it beat C Rations.
“Eat those freaking things right outta da microwave, don’t they burn yer mouth?” Larry continued. “Nah, I’m Marine slumming it with you pricks.” Said York.
York was indeed a Marine slumming it. 2 tours in ‘Nam had he thought, shown him the worst of war. He was wrong. This war, new as it was, was filled with un remitting violence on a huge scale, malice, hate and more. He was supposed to be on contract training punks to be men sitting in some of the latest technology the US had to offer. It never ceased to amaze him how much the tech had advanced.
The guys were ‘kind enough’ to call him “Sarge”, but he was long out of fatigues. Though when the shit hit the fan he was here, with no chance of getting out of country as a civilian, he figured once a Marine always a Marine, he had grabbed a webbing sling, a weapon and left the training exercise to help in the fight.
This war he thought was filled with cold, calculating, remote death. Rounds penetrated just about everything. Tanks fired from 2kms away. Jets, Choppers and Artillery (still the Queen of the Battlefield) pounded the ever-living shit out of him and his men.
“Lets get our game on” York said. They all got serious, and turned to face him, they had that nervous eye flitter, that body pumping despite the training, and years of experience most of them had. He was all they had. No one trusted the Captain, to manage. They were looking at him for hope.
This was FUBAR.
A hot war was never supposed to have happened. But it had so the hell with it.
“Gentleman we are in a world hurt. Eisenbach is just a short distance away. But it looks like the hordes are between hot chow and us. Our job then is simple. Survive. In order to do that we need to hold on until some sort of help comes.” He looked around. Everyone knew. Who was he kidding? They were screwed.
The Old Man could feel the tension build, along with the delicious fear. He watched York shoot his M16 calmly. His men did likewise. Regardless the Soviets ignored losses. Bodies littered the ground. US Ammo was scarce and running out. Every round had to count. There was grim determination that in time would yield to fear, The Old Man was sure of it, time to find another morsel until then.
Across the village a BMP was taking fire as it accelerated towards the building facing the eastern tree line. He knew the vehicles weapons were suppressing these men. Round after round pounded the building, brick exploded, glass penetrated uniforms. Men bled. He moved came closer to the action. There was fear in here.
The BMP now pulled up guns blazing just 30m from the building. A squad raced at the building. Now flames and fire were coming from all angles. He smiled. His influence had them cowering in fear. He turned his attention to the Russians entering the building thru holes in walls and windows and doors.
“Ahhh welcome to the feast” The Old Man murmured, arms spread wide as he walked amongst both sides. “Gentlemen now is the time to see the real world”. Ice formed on walls, fire licked it with no effect from its heat. A smell pervaded the room, overpowering the smell of cordite, blood and the taste of dust. Dust that hung still in the air. Then silence.
A flurry of gunfire preceded the screams. Then just the screams, were all that anyone could hear. Horrid, morbid, soul chilling screams of the insane. Of the open, naked bottomless well that is your darkest dream.
York had heard the commotion. He wondered what the hell was going. Yet his attention was drawn to a lone soviet running in the open towards the far side of town, right at the M113.
That lone man was Yuri and the squad of men he was with, had made it safely to the trees, and scrub. They were still some 300m from the buildings they need to capture. They had dodged fire all the way from an MG in one of the buildings and the threat of an M113 that had appeared at the end of town. They were locked down thought Yuri. He could relax. He was a reader. Yuri thought of himself as more of a poet than anything else. At night he would write when they were in barracks. Now. Well now there was no sleep, no rest. His body ached with weariness. His distress was palpable, his clothes were filthy, one lens from his spectacles had a large crack. He was dirty, and tired. Mostly he was frightened.
The Soviet officer roared in his face “ Get up Get up. It is not nap time. Move!” As Yuri looked around he saw men being cut down by the MG from the M113. He edged along the side of the building, then from tree to tree. His AK 47 held low, as he crouched and slunk along. Better to die he thought like this than a shot to the face from that filthy bastard. The way he thought ,was to be crafty, and quiet whilst the others fired to suppress and distract.
He looked out through the bushes. Shit he thought. Its farther than he thought…….he hung his head. His hands shook as they gripped the rifle tighter. A tear formed in his eye, misting his one good lens. “I want to write, not kill. “ He said to no one. Despite the noise all around he suddenly could he hear nothing but his own breathing, ragged, fast and shallow. An echo filled silence, with muffled sounds coming in waves.
He saw himself rise and move. Like he had never moved. Fast, lithe, blindingly fast and controlled. For once he felt co–ordinated, and strong and safe.
The Old Man watched from above the building he had just left. The terror has gone from that building, just husks of skin remained. As he stood on the roof, tiles decayed beneath his feet, cockroaches skittered and swarmed to him. He smiled. “ Run Yuri, run.” He whispered.
York, the crew of the M113, and the men with York all fired at Yuri as he sped across those last fatal 100 yards. Bullets hit the dirt all around, zinged thru creases in his clothing, burning holes in his jacket. Other rounds embedded themselves in his helmet, or chest. Dissolving. Burning but dissolving. Yuri, the Hero ran on.
He slung his AK, over his shoulder on the run, pulled two grenades. He let them get hot, then threw one left handed, and one right handed swiftly one after the other. Hard, fast, accurately at the rear most portion of the vehicle he could see from the angle he was at.
The ‘nades exploded together right near fuel tank, simultaneously. Yuri, thought he heard the men inside say “What the Fuck!” The concussion of the blast blew him from his feet and knocked him unconscious.
York looked on in disbelief. No way. None. None, that he had missed that guy. He turned to the men with him. “Lets move” He said.
York and crew, scurried across the street, only to met by a hail of fire from where the other of US soldiers had been. The fire was directed at the roof as well. Chancing a look he saw nothing up there however.
2 BMP’s rumbled into view firing their cannons at his location. Quickly he and the men retreated to the back of the building and up stairs. Trapped.
As Soviet soldiers rushed thru downstairs his soldiers snuck around and killed one squad with a booby trapped grenade, finishing the rest off with pistol rounds.
They were trapped. Doomed, thought York. The entity on the roof was disappointed; there was no fear in this York, nor his men. Just resignation and grit. Sighing he turned his focus elsewhere.
Without malice, or feeling The Old Man drove all of the Soviets insane, they shot each other, the BMPs turned tail, others saw the looks on the Soviet troopers leaving the building and turn and ran.
York and his men waited in the growing stillness.
No one came.