The smell of gun powder wafted over the battlefield and filled Nelson with visions of a history he had never been a part of.
This battlefield was more a battlefield than any he’d encountered yet. The main reason is it actually WAS a battlefield. They had entered Pea Ridge, Arkansas, where a Civil War battle had taken place hundreds of years before. Nelson had visited once or twice but could not now remember who had won the original battle or how it had started, he only knew how this one had started and that, for a moment, his side was losing.
For weeks they’d been coming across tents and campsites outside of small towns which made it easy to determine where the defectors were staying. Today, however, was much different as they came into the valley and there were no tents and no campsites. The only sign of life was a decrepit building from the Civil War era with smoke coming out of its chimney. He had his men spread out just to be safe and sweep an entire side of the hill they had arrived on but there was no one else. Finally he sent in a small squad of ten soldiers to check out the building which turned up empty.
His senses were immediately heightened at the news and as soon as he ordered everyone to be on the lookout they were ambushed.
The first sound he heard was a cannon from across the valley when he then sensed a number of his men being knocked down. Gun fire then started filling the quiet air and several more of his men started to fall. He scanned all the area he had access to but could not yet see more than the people loading the cannon.
Once he told his men to spread out and watch for gun fire it didn’t take him long to realize that finding his attackers would be quite easy as almost every weapon they had appeared to be civil war era. The cannon that was firing along with several muskets to its south were very easy to point out and he started having men head to flank around their back as he and another group stayed to provide suppressing fire.
This, too, was a mistake though as the men he sent to flank were also caught by surprise by various booby traps and another group of defectors that had remained silent until needed. A couple of soldiers were tripped by wire while another one fell into a camouflaged hole. A couple more were knocked over by a swinging branch leaving the rest to be stabbed by men with bayonets.
The massacre continued to deteriorate as Nelson tried to follow the new group of enemies with one of his fallen soldiers but was quickly blinded at that end when the runners removed all the spinal implant pieces protruding from the backs of the fallen.
He called his men to retreat back up the hill a short ways and called for backup which he was immediately aware that there was none. He relayed the current status to his superiors who relayed back to him how his situation was remarkably similar to numerous other groups around the country. The only groups not having trouble were the urban soldiers and pulling them would mean losing position in the most vital parts of the country.
They were not to lose ground; that was the only real order. Retreating now would mean large groups of defectors like this one could meet up with other large groups and combine their power and organizational skills along with their knowledge of all Wartines goings on.
‘Stay put. Fight or don’t fight, but do not leave your current position and don’t let any defectors get past you.’
He relayed this message, minus the fight or don’t fight, to his men. He wasn’t sure if he was going to send them to fight or not. He needed more information on their numbers and positions and tried hard to think of how to get this.
He asked for airbus fly-over for intel gathering. He was immediately placed on a waiting list. Currently they could guarantee they would have an Airbus to him by late tomorrow.
This was too long and not knowing how many people were standing against him made sticking around and doing nothing one of the worst options he could consider.
Continuing to scan the area he looked on top of the ridge to the south, behind the cannon brigade that was still firing shots. He thought he could make out another group of runners on top of it. This made sense and had he been able to come in from the south there would have been no ambush.
He only wondered for a few minutes how they could have known which way his troops would be coming from since just over a thousand troops walking across the mountains of Arkansas were bound to raise a few eyebrows. Still this was the most organized any resistance group had been and it seemed to be coordinated across many areas of the country.
This was not his concern, however, and he had to push it out of this mind. The less he concentrated the more he lost control of what thoughts were fed to him from his men. If he let his mind wander for a second it could soon be filled with hundreds of random thoughts that may or may not be his.
He gripped his cane tighter and considered his options. His cane was the new toy he’d purchased the night before. It was made of a shimmering black metallic substance with tiny waving lines etched throughout. The bottom had a tiny needle sticking out that one might think were to get better grip in wilderness terrain if one didn’t know any better. The only other feature on the cane was a tiny silver button just under the handle.
Leaning on the cane made Nelson think of what he’d given up to be here. He couldn’t actually remember anything specific but he was sure it had to have been pretty special. Then he considered the option that it could have easily been a pretty horrible situation he’d been in which had pushed him to join the military in the state it had been. If only he could remember…
His mind raced again and a headache instantly formed. Someone, or many someone’s, were hungry and it made his stomach growl. Someone else wanted to shoot the people who had shot at them and it made him angry. Someone else was cold and he shivered.
Nelson regained himself again and straightened up, as though a superior officer had just walked onto his battlefield. He had not had a rush of thoughts like that since he’d first tried the router programming, and that had only been with five soldiers.
He started making a list of their weapons they had with them. Mostly rifles and only a couple of snipers, more of which would be helpful but most of the talented snipers were kept on duty near the White House. He had no rocket launchers or artillery as they were heavy and cumbersome to keep on the move. They had also been deemed as unnecessary.
They did have grenades, though, and lots of them. He started looking around to see what other features the land might offer. There were broken, worn, and burnt buildings scattered here and there. He had some of his men search them for any other usable items that may be around and to ensure there were no more surprises waiting on this side of the ridge.
It took a few minutes and more shots from the opposing cannon to get what would make him reconsider whether to fight back or not, a cannon of their own.
It was beside one of the buildings and though it had no cannon balls of its own but there was some old gun powder and the barrel looked to be in good shape. He began considering his options for projectiles and quickly came to one grizzly conclusion.
In just under fifteen minutes they were ready to test his plan. There was a rag filled with a dozen grenades stuffed into the canon and a string attached to each of the pins, tied at the other end to the bottom of the barrel. Their first test at this was rather unsuccessful as the pins did not come out cleanly and threw the explosives in every direction but the one that could have hurt some enemies.
This test did do one thing, however, and that was getting the attention of their opponents. The cannon fire from the other side stopped momentarily as they watched these explosions occur all around the valley in front of them.
After the smoke had cleared they went back to firing only this time they were firing from multiple directions. Another cannon set atop the ridge was now firing down at Nelsons brigade and getting much closer than the one directly in front of him. He quickly rethought his plan and instantly his men jumped to action.
Two men filled the barrel with more gun powder and fuse and then stuffed another rag down the barrel. This time, however, they lit the fuse before putting the grenades in as Nelson timed it out. Just before it was about to go off another twelve men pulled pins on grenades and threw them down the barrel before it went off sending them towards the ridge.
A couple of the grenades exploded in the air above the runners’ cannon which drew the people operating it out from behind their cover, giving snipers behind Nelson just enough time to pick them off.
The rest hit the side and front of the ridge causing rock and dirt to plume up over the area. This was the perfect distraction and all of Nelson’s men charged towards their enemies.
Most of his group, including himself, went up the ridge and rushed the bulk of those who had been firing at them while a few went to secure the lower cannon and ensure there was no one else hiding out there.
Before they made it to the runners the smoke had cleared and they were being fired upon again yet the old muskets were no match for modern semi-automatic rifles once they could see their attackers. People started falling on both sides and then rushed into close combat.
To his right, Nelson saw a runner stab at one of his routines with a bayonet before it was swiped away and a knife was dug into the runners chest. Another runner ahead of Nelson snapped the neck of a routine and made a bee-line for him. Nelson started fighting the runner, using his cane to block blows dealt by an old civil war sword the runner had procured and sharpened.
The sword came down above his head and he raised the cane to stop it as he turned his body and elbowed the defector. He swept his leg in a circle and his opponent jumped over it, however as the attacker touched ground again Nelson touched the pointy end of his cane to the man’s chest and gently squeezed the button under the handle.
A loud ‘whoosh’ filled the air and Nelson’s arm was shoved back violently. His attacker, however, was less fortunate and was thrown back ten feet and knocked unconscious. Nelson kept fighting a few men around him until he was surrounded. At this he pushed the cane hard into the ground and pushed the button again. This time a loud thud moved the earth beneath him. He was quickly lifted as though starting a jackhammer while the people around him were knocked down and stunned.
He turned and knocked a woman rushing him across the head and she fell in a short scream as he moved the cane under his arm and pushed the button again to take down another man behind him.
He tensed and turned but no one else was coming. In fact, no one else seemed to be left. He scanned the area and found they had killed and/or captured 33 people.
It wasn’t enough. It wasn’t near enough and he knew there were more somewhere. His men scoured the ridge and farther south but could find no one else. They did find a few abandoned guns and another cannon that had been prepared yet never fired.
He reported the outcome to his superiors who congratulated him on a well fought battle with a bonus 200 credits. They then deducted 100 credits for each of the 11 routines that were killed in the battle.
He also let them know about the small number in the end and advised they could probably catch up with anyone else that had fled. This was denied, however, as new orders were quickly issued. His brigade and 4 other larger brigades were to meet at the Oklahoma border and await further instructions. A more important battle awaited them.
The next day, President Hope would think over all the results from various battles across the states. He would note that the intensity of each of these had risen dramatically and the Midwest was being more of a pain than he had anticipated.
A few days before he had been wondering which city to bomb however now it was simply a matter of when. “How about now?” He chuckled to himself.
Turning in his desk he pushed a small hidden button which produced a small hidden number pad. He entered a sequence of numbers which then opened a small hidden drawer with a hidden compartment which in turn opened to a hidden control panel. He entered the destination, thanked God for the wisdom he had been given to see clearly what needed to be done, and turned a key.
Somewhere, in the middle of a desert in New Mexico the earth moved and opened up revealing a missile smoking and shaking, itching to be fired. When President Hope saw a green light he pushed a red button which started a dark day. The missile zipped into the air and headed for its destination.
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