Elements of War by Junkrawk

The sun is an hour away. This is the coldest part of the night. Your hands are numb and vision is blurry. Try firing an AR in this. Frostbitten hands meet hot steel. If you take a bullet in this weather, you'll die from the shock alone, forget the blood loss and lead poisoning. Then again, the crimson river system inside of you is pumping so slowly that the latter two probably won't occur.

Sleep on the cold duff of the forest. Find a boulder that might as well be made of ice. Your squad mates are the only people on your side that'll sleep next to you for warmth. Everyone here opted to be here at one time or another. Most of these guys have no right to complain. Some do. One nader I met is the only remaining member of his family. The rest of his kin were on an outer colony on the edge of this system looking for a winter home. Collective was misinformed about there being a large Titan force on it, and because it was of no use to Collie, they blew up the entire planet. Thank god we're stationed on a gold mine. Red needs the gold under our feet to finance their gigantic war machine. Luckily, Titan has every major mine heavily guarded. We then export our gold in exchange for high-tech weapons. We buy from the same companies Collie does. Thank god Collective amended free trade.

So we hold our position. On top of gold, in the frigid air. Waiting for the sun to defrost us. Waiting for the first shots. Waiting to get into the shit. Waiting to live. Waiting to die. Waiting.

The sky is now a deep purple, and the heavy guns that light the night are steadily slowing fire. Then they stop. Then the firecrackers come out. Collie is on the offensive today.

I wake up and put on every piece of clothing I can find and still stay mobile, making sure I can peel them off later. "Have a nice sleep?" asked my sarge. "What sleep?" I replied as I joined him and three others as they studied maps to determine where Collie is coming from. Slumber still had a hold of me and I broke from the huddle to take a short walk.

I knew there were scouts ahead of me, so I strolled towards the direction of the gunfire. I didn't get far. My eyes struggled to see, and I almost didn't catch the figures running toward me. I stood in amazement as three or four Titan soldiers blew past me. My arms shot with pain as the last man grabbed me yelling something about the Collective advance. The energy in the air awoke my body. Shaking off the touchy feely sentry, I sprinted back to base.

I burst into my squad's tent and screamed at my slumbering friends, "COLLIES ADVANCING!!!"

The short-winded scouts were doing the same. I fire one or two AR shots into the air to wake up the camp. Cold steel froze my newly warmed torso as I quickly fitted my armor. About the time I finished suiting up, the first wave of Collies shot over the area I was just at. The AR fire cracked the ice in the air, and the lights from the tracers turned the dawn into noon.

I squeezed my trusty AR's trigger. A bright wave of Titan goodness bee-lined into the advancing enemy. Gunfire zig-zagged every which way, occasionally finding a poor soul to stop its blind flight. The camp reluctantly awoke from its sleep, and immediately joined the chaos. Collectives first wave barely even scratched any Titan property, and the scene was quiet for a few moments, which might as well had been days. Sarge screamed for us to start digging trenches. Some of the support men dropped their AR's and donned shovels and explosive charges to break through the dew covered soil.

Trenches formed. Inch by painstaking inch. Lying on our bellies with our weapons ready to tear into the flesh of anyone we wish, like a cobra lying in the brush waiting for a rabbit or a child to get close enough. Every eye was focusing further and further, trying to cut through the early morning mist that flooded the forest. Silence overcame us, and no one dared talk. To be deaf is to be dead. At least when tango is out there, stalking you, and you are oblivious to their position. One cracked twig could start a flurry of fire from either side.

Sarge motioned for me. I forfeited my position towards the front lines and crawled back to his roost behind a large boulder. "Get four or five marines, take a medic, and a sniper. Hook around to G7, and await further instructions," he whispered. A reluctant nod from me let him take care of other issues such as backup and the scratch on his forehead.

I always hated him, ever since he picked a fight with me in basic over a missing sock. The blame landed on me which led to me not graduating with a higher rank. He got my position, and now he's ordering me around.

The numbers on my radio frequency dial evade my numb fingers for a while, but eventually the correct frequency is input and I can communicate with my squaddies. "Evil.. Mavy.. Killa.. Omega.. Demon.. Loki.. this is Junk.. sarge needs us man.. fall back behind the rocks.. we need to group up," I said, my tongue fumbling behind numb lips. "What the fuck? Why?", Killa asked. "Not sure.. but we need to go to G7.. Loki.. bring your sniper rifle," I replied. My squad slowly formed and with a nod from sarge, we began our trek backwards. We eluded any spot we thought could be taken by the enemy.

Ten minutes later, only a few hundred yards from G7, the firecrackers erupted behind us. The camp was being rushed. My radio screamed in my ear. A mix of wails and static. I spun the volume dial down to decipher what I was hearing. It went silent. I motioned for us to take cover. We stooped in the brush, motionless. The gentle mist enveloped us as a mother would to a child to keep her from harm. We were invisible.

Again the screaming came through my earpiece. My friends stared at me as if it would give them any answers. The fire had not stopped, it only changed position. We were retreating. "I want me some of that action," Evil whispered to me as he stared in the direction of the gunfire. I was listening to the static so hard my ears hurt. Then I heard a voice. "Negative!" Louder and clearer than any other. "That's a negative HQ..... the bai.." It was Sarge, and he faded for a moment. I couldn't decipher what he had said. "Negative HQ, the bait is on its way to G7, no confirmation of contact!!"

My hair stood on end as my skin tightened. "BAIT!?!?" I accidentally screamed. Gunfire erupted. We were unknowingly only a few yards from Collectives over night camp. Sarge wanted to get rid of me once and for all, and sent me on a suicide run. I pieced it together. Stunned I sat there, listening to the bullets whiz by, blind with only a prayer of hitting someone. Hold gunfire. That's all I could think of. So I motioned for it.

The bullets stopped, and we breathed easier. Evil leaned over to me and whispered, "Now they're gonna search for us!!" Talk button depressed I was ready to give orders. "Loki, climb that tree and report enemy movement. Killa, move to the heavier brush about 20 yards past you. Omega and Demon, position yourselves on either side of Loki's tree. Evil, move way back to the south, about 50 yards. Mavy, go same direction, but only about half the distance. On my go-code, we pull a jack in the box on these guys. Work your way back here where we'll fight as one. It's 6 vs. The World. Get pumped ladies!!! We're leaving the battlefield heroes."

Loki scrambled up the tree, Omega, the medic, and Demon covered him. The rest of us fanned out to our respective locations. We listened. We watched. We waited. Again.

Mortars. The whistle was undeniable. The explosion made grown men crap their jump suits. This was a scare tactic though. The heavy canopy prevented any shells from getting to our positions near the base of the trees. Five minutes and Collective got tired of nading. Now they sent in the cavalry.

"Anything Loki?" Demon inquired. "Nada." Each one of us had our sights fixated on the direction they would come from. "Contact!!" We perked up. I kissed my AR and thought of home. I'm sure everyone else did something similar. Then we saw them.

Silhouetted pawns. In red suits. With faces. With families. Completely oblivious to the hell they just checked themselves into. They moved swiftly. Mighty bad idea for a search party. They figured we retreated. Some of them got very close to our position, but none of the dumb bastards found us. I looked in Killa's direction. Two very smart soldiers, smarter then the others at least, were checking the brush. They crouched down and out of view. They found footprints. We were found out.

Before they could alert anyone else, I yelled into my mouthpiece, "GO!!" Crack! Loki's gun went off. My head snapped to the direction of the shot, and I saw bits of blood and bone fly into the air. Perfect headshot. Then three rapid shotgun blasts blew through the brush and into the other man, the third removing head from torso. Killa always liked his shotty. I exploded from my position and ran up to a pair of Collies oblivious to my charge. My shotgun exploded pellets straight into one man;s cranium, and my six inches of steel sliced the others jugular.

Evil and Mavy had teamed up and mowed down about a dozen men so far. Demon charged further in, with Omega in hot pursuit to keep him healthy. Loki was busy sniping medics to keep Collective wounded and helpless, waiting for the money shot, an enemy sarge. Killa was raping noobs like no ones business, slowly moving towards me. "TAKE THE BASE!!!" I screamed. We moved towards the Red base, rapidly taking down tango about every other step. Collie was falling. The red menace was spilling red blood. Titan owned this day so far.

We ran. Forward. To retreat is to be scared. To be scared is to die. This is how you live. No one can ever say you never did anything this way. Grandchildren don't like to know Grandpa died getting shot in the back.

AR. Shotty. AR again. Knife. Toss a nade. Explosion. This was the most alive I ever felt. Five others felt the same way. Many, many others weren't feeling much of anything anymore. So many Collectives charged thinking they could kill at least one of us, yet all they did was trim a tree with expensive bullets. Damn this was easy. Good cardio.

We were bunched up now. One steadily moving organism of death. Crack! I felt excruciating pain explode through my shoulder. Completely through. Sniper. Only one type of bullet can tear through flesh like that. The force threw me back, and I slammed backwards into the ground. "Sniper!!! Grab cover!!" Demon screamed. "Don't come out!!" I yelled, "He's using me as bait!!" Just then ripper fire emerged from every direction in front of us. Tree branches fell. Rocks were tossed into the air like dust. The inaccurate ripper was never known for marksmanship, it's tough enough to handle the kick. My squad mates returned fire, spraying blindly into the slowly lifting mist. Meanwhile, I lay on the ground, bleeding, completely at the mercy of the man on the other side of the scope.

I glanced at Loki. He gave me a wink and took off to the side, away from the fire. The blind fire continued. Omega screamed at me, "PUT PRESSURE ON IT, CONSERVE STRENGTH, YOU AREN'T GONNA DIE ON ME MAN!!" I snapped back, "No shit, I haven't even made Commander yet!" Crack! I waited for more pain. It never came. When I realized I wasn't dead, I turned to see Loki jogging back to our position. He winked again and said, "Dude, you owe me hella." We both laughed. "Like hell I do, and Omega, GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE!!"

Evil and the rest had moved forward. Gaining ground and stealing my kills. Omega was sealing the wound and Loki was covering our ass from above, picking off stragglers. Omega put duct tape over the mounds of clotting gauss, which was a really good idea, I thought. Then he whipped out a syringe they use to drug elephants. The damn thing was huge! He then decided he should jam, not gently place, it into my skin. "What is it?" I timidly asked. "It works like Diazepam, slowing heart rate to slow blood loss, and Morphine, to kill pain." I sighed and replied, "Oh, I feel much better now," and gave him a You're an Asshole look. Gently getting my feet under me, I stood waiting for the mix to take effect. "Let's find the other's shall we?" Loki said to us. I gave him the look I just gave Omega, only with a little more Shut The Hell Up mixed into it.

The pain faded, and I was soon good enough to run. We sprinted in the direction the gunfire was at now. "What's that?" An immense and hazy figure arose in front of us. "Collie Dropship," I answered with extreme dismay. Then from the mist in front of us, "HURRY!!" Evil, Killa, Mavy, and Demon had cleared the base of any Red's that were still there, and had taken positions in the trench. "What the hell guys, I thought you hated campers," I remarked. "Yea, we do," Mavy said, "But the odds are against us here, we'll stand a better chance in this trench." Holding back laughter, I replied, "Yea Mavy, I understand. When you've got a woman like Mimi to go home to, it's a really good idea to start to increase the odds of survival huh?" It was my turn to get the You're an Asshole look and we all chuckled. "OK guys, all kidding aside, we're in some tough shit here," Killa said. "Yeah," I paused, "Find any heavy ammunition you can, this is gonna be a siege of biblical proportions. Go look now, Loki, stay here. Watch for any tango, you have the best eyes out of all of us." He nodded and we all went separate ways.

The fire continued. It was in front of us now. No matter what the outcome was, we were gonna have to fight off a Collective horde. What worried me was the fact they have firepower. I look at inventory list on the empty crates they left behind and I pray that they don't hit us with them. This search has gone on for about twenty minutes, and nothing. So I return to our meeting place, empty handed and doubtful we're gonna make it out with our lives. Everyone else was back already and they had nothing to show for it. We sat silently. Listening. The fire was still a ways away. The fog had lifted and Loki was busy picking off scared noobs running from the fight from over four hundred yards away. Evil got up and asked Loki if he could bust off a few shots, so Loki laid down and gave his hawk-eyes a rest. You can nap during battle, just do it carefully.

I scanned the radio for anything. Nothing but static. The radio was useless. I tore mine off in anger, and tossed it over the side of the trench into no man's land, the area just passed the trench. We're dead to the world, or at least we should be.

We sat for another hour. Not really saying much. Everyone has had a chance to snipe. Boring as hell. No change in the fire in the distance. Still loud and rapid. It was about 1200 hours when the booms started. Large earth shaking booms. They shot clouds of dust above the tree-line, and drowned out the gunfire for a short while. None of us knew what they were. "Junk?" I woke up from my trance and cleared my head. "What?" I replied. I looked over at my bros. They gave me a puzzled look. "We didn't say it."

I stood up and checked over the trench. "Junk are you there man?" It was the radio. I rolled on my belly to it and grabbed it, "I'm here." The voice spoke familiar, "Oh my god, your alive?" I replied, "Well yeah, it's not like we're going to get shot by Collective being bait and all. Who the hell is this, but more importantly, where are you and how long is it going to take to get your ass out here?!?" He laughed and said, "Well man, I'm disappointed you don't know gx86's voice when you hear it, but I'm very impressed you guys are still alive. You guys are all alive aren't you?" I looked at the rest of my guys. "Yeah, but there are little pieces of us everywhere. We're at F11 ,exact is 234.342. How long till you can get here?" The transmission cut for a while, then he came back on, "How did you take the base??!?! Great job!! Well, if we keep marching they way we are, we'll get there in about an hour, as the crow flies at least. Three hours at most." I sighed and told my men how long it'd be.

"So what's happening there?" Killa asked me, and I relayed the inquiry. "Sarge died just after you left. Nader positioned a perfect one. Everyone broke up into about five to ten men guerilla squads. We're pushing them back towards you." For the first time ever I was glad a fellow Titan died.

We talked for several more minutes, I found out what the booms were. Titan Artillery goodness. From our cannons straight up Collective booty. Some assembly required.

Gx and I switched off our radios after good luck's and what not. A relieved version of myself dropped back into the trench, better than the hopeless one the crawled out. "We have a chance boys. We're gonna face some weak opposition, but there's gonna be a lot of it. We're gonna fall asleep very quickly tonight."

We sat for an even longer time. Nothing happening. No sniper rounds firing at all. Then, as if someone put their hands on my ears, the gunfire stopped. With a snap, the radio turned back on, "They're in full retreat, gear up guys, good luck!" I smiled and screamed, "SHOWTIME!! Take you positions, Show these fools what Titans are made of!" We all shook the cobwebs off and donned our gear once again. "Junk," Killa said, "I always thought you were a hottie." We all busted up. "Thank you Killa, we can finally put the sexual tension behind us." We shared a wink and positioned ourselves throughout the trench. I sat at my end all alone. Evil yelled, "Killa, I hope you were kidding." I chuckled. "Naw, ya think?" Killa responded. I chimed in, "Killa, he's just jealous. Now let's rape some reds shall we?"

A flood of red uniforms, shot out of the tree-line, sprinting for what they think is safety. Loki was the first to shoot. Crack! Then we all opened fire. An entire line of men fell. The ones behind them fell to take cover. Some ran back into the trees. The mortars opened up on us. Jetting straight up then straight down. I fired at some of them and they blew up in midair harmlessly spreading fragments of metal.

My AR was on cruise control I poured entire rounds into a single enemy. Wasteful, but stress-relieving as well. Pop after pop after pop. I love this job. Then my gun clicked. It jammed. I tossed it aside, pumped my shotty and charged into no man's land. I dove for a dead marine whose rifle was laying on his bloody chest. Cocked and ready to go like a boy on a first date, I poured Collective's own bullets into red armor. Nonstop fire erupted from it's muzzle, and many Collie soldiers fell to it only yards ahead of me. Shotty in one hand. AR in the other. I made sure to get a wall behind me to keep from getting flanked. Loki had me covered anyway, but extra insurance doesn't hurt.

Evil and Killa were out of the trench as well, fighting side by side, taking everyone down. I decided to charge to their position. A wave of red emerged from the trees in front of me and fired everything they had at me. I spun, hit the ground rolling and firing at the Collies as I did so, and crouched next to a tree. This gun clicked. Again I tossed it. Five or six rather large Reds started to charge me with shotties. I pulled out my knife, swung it over my head, and into the tree trunk. Hoisting myself up, I found a sturdy branch to crouch on and fire from. Shots went straight through the top of their head. Instant death. Now my shotgun clicked, and their was still three guys left. We all paused in stalemate, and I gave a swift grin.

I dove from my perch and grabbed the knife from the bark. Somersaulting, I threw the knife straight into one man's forehead. In another swift move, I landed close to one of the two men. A swinging shotgun greeted his face. He flung his shotty into the air and I snatched it. The other man shot once. I evaded it and somehow ended up behind him. "Cancel Christmas mutha... " Shotgun shells and cranial tissue drown out most anything you say.

Just then I heard someone behind me. I spun around ready to give them a pump action surprise. "Whoa! Dude! Cool it!" Gx screamed at me while ducking. "What the hell man! You should know better! Watch it!" I said as I shot a Red approaching Gx from behind. "Heh," he said. "Well don't just stand there," I said, "Kick some ass!" We parted opposite ways shooting anything red that moved. I picked up an AR and surveyed the area.

I noticed Killa and Evil easily disposing of the Reds. Something caught my eye as I moved towards them. It was in the tree canopy, it was a glare from a scope. "SNIPER!!" I screamed and burst toward my friends. I cocked the AR and sprayed the trees. Crack! Ground at Killa's feet exploded as the bullet pierced the soil. Must have screwed up his shot with my gunfire. My blood pumped battery acid and my guts sliced with pain. Never could run this fast before, adrenaline is a great thing. Evil was behind a rock, gathering more ammo, but Killa was wide open. Five yards separated us when I dove. The flash hit my eye as I first got the sensation of flight. In slow-motion, I hit Killa with about as much force as the bullet would have. The buzz zoomed by my head, and slammed into a Red firing rounds straight at Killa.

Killa and I rolled for ages. My feet flung through the air, and hit the ground anchoring me. Rifle rounds poured into the brush from my gun. Killa climbed himself up next to me, firing in the same direction. We didn't know if we hit him or not, but the explosion did for sure. An amazing scream zoomed over us only milliseconds before, and a wave of heat and dirt smacked us in the face. I was knocked cold.

One of the Reds kicked me to see if I was alive. He jumped when I looked at him, and cocked his shotgun, pointing it to my head. I closed my eyes, thought of home, and put myself at ease. Every thought, or dream, or memory that I ever had flooded through my head. My body shot with pain, yet my mind was at complete peace. The gunfire was muffled, almost non-existent. I smiled and looked my assassin in the face.

My ears zoomed to attention, and the sounds of gunfire shocked my body. My would-be killer's chest erupted with red, like a volcano. Listing forward, body limp, he smashed into the ground next to me. A man ready for death, saved. A man ready to kill for his own life, dead. I sent a prayer to the heavens and sat up. Mavy smacked me on the back and said, "You ok bro?" I snapped, "Could be much better without that slap there." He laughed and hoisted me to my feet. "Do I owe you too?" I asked. "Yes, tell everyone Mimi isn't my girlfriend." I nodded and smiled. Evil woke Killa up and helped him to his feet. Omega and Demon ran up, "Wow, did you see that artillery blast!?" Killa and I gave them the No Shit look."Omega, where's that syringe?"

The day was ours. Collective is exterminated, we're all alive, and Mavy isn't Mimi's boyfriend. We live to fight on. We live so we can be free. We live to see our loved ones again. We live. Ah yes, it isn't much to live in a world of shit. But at least we're the kings of that world. The reigning kings.