❯ The Colours of War: The Conscriptees – Part 1 of the Alara War ( Chapter 1 )
[ P - Pre-Teen ]
Part 1of the Alara War
The wood seemed empty, Carter reasoned. Still, he could be very wrong. The wood could easily swallow a tank unit without a trace. Carter almost wished that was the case, with artillery and air support to boot. That way he’d see some real action in this damn war.
The Alara region of Orange star had been disputed by Blue Moon since the beginning of the two countries existence, but in recent history, there had been no real hostility. However, under the command of C.O Olaf, a wave of Blue Moon troops had swept through the area, in a deadly surprise attack. That was two months ago. Since then, Orange Star’s chief C.O Nell had battled Olaf’s forces to a standstill. And Orange Star had mobilized.
Commercial factories had been converted to make weapons, tanks, planes, guns, and bombs. The Army had been placed on high alert, cities had been fortified, civilians evacuated, plans drawn. Orange Star was going to war.
And the call had gone out. Men from all walks of life were called to serve. Tankers, pilots, sailors, drivers, medics, cooks, engineers, Soldiers.
That was why Ben Carter, apprentice baker, was advancing towards this wood in Alara wearing an Orange Star infantry uniform that was still stiff and uncomfortable and was cradling a Mark 5 machine gun at the hip. Along side him were four other members of his squad who, like his equipment, were still unfamiliar. He had only met them three days ago, when he shipped out from basic training. On his left, roughly five meters away, was Pvt Roy West, a lean, rugged man native to Alara. His eyes were scanning the land with fiery vengeance to reclaim his homeland. Despite his fierce personality, Carter liked him. When he wasn’t raring to personally retake Alara, he was friendly and sociable. On Carters right was his squad leader, Sergeant Howard. Everyone else in the squad was new, “Conscriptees”, the instructors at basic had called them. Sgt Howard, however, was a member of the peacetime army. He had been in the army for seven years and was held in awe by the other members of the squad. For the short time Carter had known him, he knew the squad commander had instant and unwavering respect. Carter hoped that the man knew what he was doing. He certainly looked like he did. Further to Carters left, was Pvt Robert Davidson, looking as usual as though he was thinking about something else. Carter felt that he didn’t quite have the measure of Davidson. The first time they met, Davidson greeted him with his statistical odds of surviving the Alara campaign. It was 87%, Davidson had said. He then asked Carter is he would like to know his odds of surviving without being wounded, maimed or losing limbs. Carter said no. Davidson had been a stockbroker’s son who specialised in probability. He wanted to serve, if he had to, as an officer, but had been conscripted as a trooper. He didn’t seem to put too much effort into things.
The final squad member was Pvt Dobson, on Davidson’s left. Where Carter didn’t quite get Davidson, he was quite sure about Dobson. He had a pale round face with huge eyes and was always smiling an apologetic smile. He was a farm boy and had shocked his instructors at basic training with deadly marksmanship. He was shy and spoke little.
So, Carter mused to himself, im in a war zone with people I don’t know and equipment Im still not familiar with. Yet I want to see some real action. So far Carters war had been one of taking objectives, sleeping in foxholes and chasing shadows. The squad had once come under sniper fire, but Sergeant Howard had immediately called in artillery support and the sniper had stopped. Carter wanted to see real enemies. He didn’t relish the prospect, like West, but he wanted to prove himself and know his abilities. It seemed to him that the only way to stop worrying about how he would function in combat would be to experience it.
The squad were at the forests edge now and had begun to step around the sparse trees. Sergeant Howard stopped and quickly knelt. Carter followed suit, holding up his hand to halt the rest of the squad. Howard ran towards him at a crouch.
“Blue Moon troops, right there” Howard said, pointing.
Carter followed his arm and saw a patch of blue ahead, about 35 meters away, moving through the trees. Enemy.
His throat tightened. His heart beat a frantic pace against his chest. Sweat sprang from every pore.
The sergeant spoke again. “Pick a target and wait for my shot.” His hard grey eyes seemed to bore into Carters very mind. “Wait for my shot.” Then Howard was gone, moving of to West at a crouched run. Carter was left alone. He lay down, raised his Mark 5 machine gun and pushed the warm butt plate into his shoulder. He ran his hand up the pistol grip and he slid his finger in to the guard. He placed the sights on the closest Blue Moon solider. He now clearly see the pale face under the garrison cap and the wooden stocked tommy gun held at his side. Carter quickly flicked his eyes onto his own weapon. Magazine in. Safety off. Bolt retracted. Shot selection fully automatic. All that could fail now was he, the human element. The Blue Moon trooper was only thirty meters away now. Carter carefully sighted his weapon on the foe’s chest. Aim for the center mass, his instructors always said. Damn… the enemy was 25 meters away now. Carter’s eyes were locked to his sights. His whole world became the target, the fore sight of his gun and his finger on the trigger. All he wanted to do was pull the trigger… pull the trigger…PULL THE TRIGGER. His ears were straining for the shot from Sergeant Howard.
Sweat poured from his face.
Just when the tension was unbearable, Howard’s Mark 5 split the silence with a bullet. Carter let rip, putting three rounds into the man in front of him. Suddenly wood erupted in noise, rattles of gunfire, cries of alarm and anger and over it all, Sergeant Howard’s voice.
“MOVE, MOVE, MOVE! LETS GO! MOVE!”
Then Howard was running forward, firing off shots from the hip as he went. Carter rose up after him, seeing out of the corner of his eye West doing the same. Directly in front of Carter a Blue Moon solider burst out of the foliage and tried to run, so Carter let rip and jumped the body and ran on.
Soon, the trees began to thin and more sunlight shone through the leaves. Carter slowed to a jog as Dobson came along side him. He was as white as a sheet. Carter spoke.
“Hey Luke, you alright?” He tried to sound tough, but probably failed.
“Im Okay.” Dobson replied quietly, his voice shaking. The trees ran out. Something whined past Carter and Dobson silently folded over with a small red hole in his head. Then Carter saw them. He saw the two Reconnisance jeeps first, the soldiers standing in the back slowly aligning drum fed, high calibre machine guns at him. He cried out in alarm as he dived to the ground, bullets tearing through the space he had just occupied. Then he saw the enemy infantry fanning out behind their vehicles, barking orders, loading guns, advancing and firing on his position. The clods of grass and soil flew up around Carter as the bullets began to chew up the earth. Carter franticly slithered backwards until he came to a depression where West was huddled.
“Dobson’s hit!” he yelled into West’s ear.
Dirt flew up around them and every few seconds, with a sharp snapping sound, a branch would fall from a tree, ripped off by the enemy rounds. Carter tried to raise his head over the lip of the depression, but a bullet whining overhead forced him back down again. He tried to crawl further into the depression.
“OPEN FIRE, MEN! GIVE THOSE BLUE BASTARDS HELL! FIRE!”
Carter raised his head and glanced of to his left. There stood Sergeant Howard, snapping off shots with his Mark 5 as if on the firing range. The man showed no hint of doubt or fear despite the bullets flying past him.
“POUR IT ON `EM, TROOPS! FIRE!
Without thinking, Carter crawled forward, sighted his weapon on the nearest jeep and fired a long burst. He could hear West doing the same thing next to him. The vehicles bonnet crumpled and the windscreen shattered as his rounds tore it to pieces. Brown smoke spewed forth from under the hood. It stopped moving. West’s shots punched the gunner of the back. The enemy fire slackened as the Blue Moon troops near to the jeep dived to the ground.
“Take that you scum! Eat it!” Carter heard someone say, before realising it was he.
“Come on! West yelled! “Come on!”
They set about pulverising the prone infantry around the jeep. Three enemies died as they ran.
Carter realised that nothing was happening as he pulled the trigger. He dropped the used clip and fumbled for another.
“Oh Shit.” West said.
Out of the dirty brown smoke came another three reconnisance vehicles, surrounded by another infantry squad. They aimed. Carter and West ducked. They fired. They had Carters position dead on. The ground around him seemed to leap and dance. All he could hear was the zip and whine of bullets.
The jeeps were coming closer.
Carter had wanted to prove himself in combat. He guessed he got what he asked for. He slowly reached for his weapon and carefully slid back the bolt. 30 rounds. Make them count, he thought. This is it.
The leading recon jeep was absolutely obliterated in a huge explosion. As scything pieces of burning metal rained down, heavy machine gun fire began to pulverise up the two recon cars into blood and smashed mechanical parts.
“What the hell was that?” Carter heard West say.
With a slow clanking and crash of falling trees, 5 Orange Star tanks crashed through the trees on the left and right of battered squad, guns blazing. Carter could see the gunners, standing tall in their turrets, making no effort to take cover. The first Blue Moon recon revved its engine and lanced forward, the rear gunner laying down a devastating fire pattern on the lead tank. I was hit instantaneously by two tank shells and ceased to exist. The second jeep was executing a 180 degree turn and had began to accelerate away, the gunner hanging from his smashed weapon, until it too was hit and came to a burning halt.
“Wooooooooooo! And don’t come back!” West was exhausted and covered in dirt, but elated never less.
Carter slumped down by his weapon, face white. “Okay, Roy?” He said.
“The look on your face when you came out of the woods and you saw them, Ben! Hilarious!”
Carter smiled. “You should have seen your self when the second wave came through the smoke.”
A lithe man in the uniform of Orange Star Tank Commander came up to them, his face a map of concern.
“Are you guys alright? You just had a heck of a fight.”
Carter forced himself to his feet and saluted. “We are fine, thank you sir.”
“Glad to hear it, son.” Sergeant Howard also arrived, Davidson behind him looking in horrified awe at the destruction before them. The Tank Commander continued; “I’m Lieutenant Gardner. My boys just moved out of the HQ. When heard what you had come up against, Nell sent in everything. Reserve troops, my tank unit, she even called down some air cover. Looks like they’re too late though.
On cue, as soon as Gardner had finished speaking, a roar filled the air and two fighters dived out of the clouds, the textbook Orange Star manoeuvre that was shallow enough to neatly pull of if they were friendly and fast enough for a deadly strafing run if they were hostile.
“You may want to call of the support, sir. The enemy’s beaten.” Howard said.
“Of course. I’ll get on my radio.” Gardner strode off.
“Alright squad, listen in!” The sergeant called out as the four man squad gathered around. “That was a damn hard fight. You did well.” The squad recoiled. This was the first real praise Howard had given them. He continued. “We move out in 2 minutes. Fall out!”
With that, the squad broke up, calling out, loading weapons, breaking out rations and mixing with the tankers. Carter however, had something else in mind.
He strode past the squad, mixing with the tankers, into the wood until he came to Dobson’s body. Apart from the trickle of blood from the small hole in his forehead, he seemed to be sleeping. Carter didn’t know what to do, or even why he came here. He heard a rustling behind him and turned, releasing safety on his weapon as he did so.
“Sergeant… I didn’t hear you…” Carter quickly slung his weapon.
“Don’t forget the safety on that thing, son. You’ll kill someone.” Howard spoke gently, gazing at Dobson.
“Um… Sergeant? I don’t really know what… they didn’t teach us about this at basic.”
Howard was silent for a moment. “A commander must be ready to send soldiers to their deaths. In war people die. There was nothing you could do.”
“I see.” Carter blinked hard. I was all so… inadequate. He was called up and he went and he took his basic training and was given a gun and taught to fight and advanced for a few days and was shot and died. He was only 18 years old.
“However, there is something we always do for our comrades.” The Sergeant knelt and gently drew Dobson’s Bayonet and gently pushed it into the earth above Dobson’s head. He then retrieved Dobson’s helmet from where it had fallen and placed it on top of his bayonet, an impromptu grave marker.
“A burial party will take remove of his body, but the civilians tend these markers for all time as a soldiers tribute. Lets go, son.” Howard walked back to the squad, where Carter could hear the engines revving.
“Squad! Mount up and Move out!” Sergeant Howard shouted. Carter looked up at the nearest tank to see West’s grinning face looking down at him.
“Need a ride?” He said.
Carter shouldered his Mark 5 and accepted the proffered hand. The tanks revved and began to roll forwards. The advance went on.