We Were Soldiers

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We were boned right from the jump.

There were four of us on the bus. My boys from basic: PHALLICxCUPCAKE and Redzepplin69, me, and a new kid we picked up for the mission to fill out the squad. We decided Flush Factory was our target drop zone; easily defensible, plenty of steel to harvest and far enough west from the bus’s flight path that we wouldn’t encounter much resistance when we got there. On paper, it was a perfect plan. We bailed out over Salty Springs, hoping to come in low on Flush so we could get to the ground before anyone else that might be meeting us there. Early bird gets the chests and all that.

About halfway through our descent I noticed the new kid wasn’t in formation. I checked my map, thinking he was late on the release and was just lagging behind. I was wrong. He was off the bus, but his GPS locator was heading away from the rest of us, barreling toward Tilted Towers. A flood of thoughts swept through my mind. Maybe he hadn’t seen our colored beacons on Flush Factory, or maybe his chute was giving him some trouble. I knew he would never survive Tilted Towers alone. Our recon had it pinged as the most dangerous point on the entire island. He was rushing into certain death.

We tried to raise him on the comms, desperate to get him back on course, but there was no response. It was like he didn’t have his mic on. We watched as his locator got closer and closer to the Towers, knowing the hell that awaited him. It wasn’t long before he was gone, the GPS no longer able to pick up his position. Our fourth was dead before my boots hit the ground. Not two minutes into the mission and our squad was down to three.

I couldn’t dwell on the kid’s death for long. A quick shout from Red alerted us that were not alone. I craned my neck to catch sight of another squad coming in behind us. We would have company at Flush Factory after all. However, we were ready. While the assholes had us by numbers, we were ahead of them in our drop path, meaning we were going to hit the ground first. As we approached Flush, we broke formation. I aimed for the parking lot, already seeing the golden glint of the chest recon had informed me would be there. Red split out left to hit a little building connected by bridge to the main factory and PHALLIC landed on the roof of the primary structure. I knew I had seconds before the squad behind us made landfall, so I blitzed to the chest, ripping it open to reveal its contents. A tactical shotgun was my prize. I grabbed it and quickly wheeled to face my rear, just in time to watch an enemy squad member land not five yards from me. Four spent shells later and he was gone.

Some gunfire sounded in the distance, followed by a report that Red had killed another one of our enemies. That left two of our foes unaccounted for. PHALLIC bellowed frantically over comms; he had both of the remaining members on him. I burst through the front door to the factory, grabbing a pistol in the atrium before entering the wide expanse housing the manufacturing line. I bounded up a staircase in the corner to see PHALLIC engaging the two combatants with his pickaxe. I made quick work of one with my shotgun, but the other managed to escape outside. Red gunned him down as he made a run for it toward the hills. We were in business.

A search of the factory brought us a bounty of goods. I picked up an assault rifle, a few smoke grenades, a silenced pistol and some bandages to go with my tactical shotgun. Red found himself a grenade launcher, a shield potion, and a few other things while PHALLIC grabbed himself Slurp Juice, an SMG and some bush camo. It wasn’t all good news though, the protective zone had fucked us and formed around Pleasant Park, leaving us hoofing it quite a few klicks to avoid the storm. We quickly snatched up some steel and set off for the safety of the circle.

We decided to move out of Flush using the side path toward Shifty Shafts instead of through the main entrance by the bridge. It made perfect sense at the time; put some distance between us and that shithouse clusterfuck of a red zone Fatal Fields. We were humping along pretty good, until we came to the ravine. A tactical nightmare, the ravine was 300 yards of open ground bisected by a river, surrounded by hills. It would be a goddamn slaughterhouse if we got caught out in the open. But with no time to go around, our choice was made; no other way but through the son of a bitch. We made our break for it, Red on point followed by me and then PHALLIC bringing up the rear, the storm nipping at our heels.

It was a one in a million shot. Dead sprint, running sideways across the horizon in the dark of night. Only a few people in the world could make that shot. Red hit the ground instantly, the bullet cutting right through his shield and knocking him clean on his ass. I roared a warning to PHALLIC as I built walls around my position, the sound of a second sniper shot clanging off the steel of my protection. Quickly, I popped a smoke grenade next to Red’s kneeling form, trying to obscure him from the sniper’s finishing blow. PHALLIC cut into my comm-link to inform me he was moving down river to build a ladder up the cliff face. He was gonna flank them. I just needed to keep whoever was above us busy. I sprayed the top of the ravine with bullets, praying a few would find the cocksucker who had us under fire.

I had to get to Red. I could see on my meter that his vitals were slowly dwindling down, I didn’t have much time. I thought about his wife and kids, what their life would be like without a husband and father. I had to go for it, I couldn’t wait for PHALLIC. I popped my two other smokes to conceal my approach from the sniper and sprinted toward where I saw him fall. I searched the smoke, but the thick haze made it difficult to make anything out. Finally, as the smoke began to dissipate, I saw the outline of his kneeling form. I bolted for it. But as I got closer, I saw something else. Another silhouette, standing above Red, pointing something down at him.

I can still hear the way the shot echoed through the ravine. Seemingly reverberating off every wall, returning to haunt me with every repetition. I was too late. It was execution style; one bullet to the head and my friend was dead. A ghost. Erased from time. I charged through the thinning smoke, producing my pistol from my holster. I downed the man who had killed my squad-mate in a hail of ammunition and continued running; racing up the hill in front of me toward the sound of fighting. I topped the ravine in time to watch PHALLIC put a few rounds into a downed member of the sniper’s squad. He informed me that the other two had fled north. PHALLIC and I trudged back down the mountain to the site of Red’s demise. On the ground, next to my fallen friend’s weapons, was his killer. The motherfucker hadn’t even bothered to crawl away. PHALLIC drew his SMG to finish it, but my hand on his shoulder gave him pause. I relished the fear in Red’s killer’s eyes as I took out my pickaxe, the rising sun gleaming off the iron edge of the blade. Again and again I bludgeoned him, caving his head in like fucking Jello. After I was finished, I searched him for supplies. He only had one item worth the trouble; a pretty new sniper rifle.

PHALLIC and I moved carefully after that, skirting around Greasy Grove and keeping a safe distance from Tilted Towers, all while the safe zone got smaller and farther away. We had used my bandages to heal up after the firefight at the ravine, so we were in desperate need of some health items. We decided to hit the docks on the west side of Loot Lake in hopes of finding a med-kit. We thought that since the protective circle was now to the northeast of Pleasant Park, we were far enough behind that it would be safe. For a second time, I was wrong.

We were on the 3rd level of one of the dock buildings when an explosion blew out half the bottom floor. Not wanting to get stuck upstairs, we cut through a wall and jumped down outside. Our assailants were waiting for us. They had built fortifications around the building, anticipating our exit. Realizing we were fucked without protection, we quickly erected some walls of our own, boxing us into a corner against the building behind us. We were trapped. It was those two shitstains from earlier, the pieces of filth from the squad that killed Red. I don’t know how in the hell they had tracked us without alerting us to their presence, but they had. The fuckers had us beaten; either we would die by their hand, or the god damn storm would torch us all. I crouched down behind our walls, accepting our end.

At the sound of my name, I looked over at PHALLIC. His face was an ashy grey and his left arm was tightly clutched to his diaphragm, failing to conceal a gaping wound in his stomach. I checked the reading on his health meter; it was under 20. I said it was alright, we had one hell of a run, even made the top 15. We just got caught. Without speaking, he moved his hand into his inventory and took out his Slurp Juice. He cradled it in the crook of his arm for a second, like it was the most precious thing he had ever held, and then abruptly tossed it to me. He knew he wouldn’t make it, even if he drank the Juice. Our fight had cost us time, and now no matter what, the storm would catch us. Without bandages, he didn’t have enough health to travel all the way to the safe zone through the storm. But I did.

I told him no, that I wouldn’t leave him here to die alone. We didn’t leave people behind. He just shook his head. The mission was never contingent on all of us making it out alive, just for one of our squad to be the last one standing. I had to go, and we both knew it. In exchange for the Slurp Juice, I handed him Red’s grenade launcher, the last gift our fallen comrade had left for us. We smiled at one another, knowing that this was it, this was where we parted ways. PHALLIC rose to his feet and let out a guttural roar. He stormed out of our bunker, firing grenades at the enemy fort. I followed him, breaking into a full sprint toward the safe zone as soon as I was clear of our walls. The sound of explosions grew fainter as I got farther and farther away, until finally, the only sound I heard was my own labored breathing. I was alone.

The storm caught me about halfway to the safe zone. I felt the life force begin draining out of my body, the rain clouding my ability to see the path forward. I stopped to shotgun the Slurp Juice, its healing properties willing me to keep going. Finally, after an eternity, I emerged into the beautiful daylight of the circle. Disoriented, I made a beeline for a small wooden shack that lay ahead of me, the corners of my vision still blurry from the rain pelting my face. I crashed through the entrance and slammed the door behind me, overjoyed to find just a bit of safety this late in the mission. As I turned to survey my surroundings, I was greeted with an incredible surprise; there, sitting in the corner, was a med-kit. I pounced on it and quickly wrapped myself in its contents. At long last, I had a bit of hope.

That brings us to the present. As I write this, I can see through my shack’s tiny window the storm making its way toward me. My meter reads nine soldiers still alive; my guess is two full squads and myself. I can see them building their fortresses to the north, closer to the center of the safe zone. Huge constructions of stone and steel that can only be made with the combined might of multiple people. To achieve victory, I am faced with an impossible task. To survive in the face of all odds. To survive for the sake of my squad, because I am the only one left who can. However, even now, I do not feel alone. I know my brothers are still with me. Watching me, trying to tell me where to look and where to go, how to play this horrible game of life and death. Bunch of arrogant fucks. I miss them.

If anyone should find this account, I do not ask for you to remember my name. I do not expect you to lament my passing or burden yourself with the weight of understanding my plight. I only implore you to take meaning from my story. This battle is not about harvesting the most materials or finding the greatest weapon, it’s about fighting for the men next to you. It’s about the sacrifice of the many in the hope that the one will succeed. It’s about staring down the perils of this world and earning a chance to die for something greater than yourself. That is true triumph.

The sound of gunfire from the north calls to me now. My opportunity awaits. One final effort to prevail; one shot to be the last to walk off the battlefield. For my squad and for the conquest. Those motherfuckers will never see me coming.

– Private First Class xXSweatySackXx, Knight company, 93rd Airborne

Image via Youtube

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Wooden hulled, three masted heavy frigate. Named by President George Washington.

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