September 2028, NorthAmerica.
The war is continuing,and the Pure Alliance and the Equal Federation continue to fight in Missouriand Kentucky.
Death also brandishedhis sickle, and the 58th Division of the Equality Federation was wiped out inSycamore by the Pure Alliance garrison, with tens of thousands of casualties.The Pure Alliance 4th Army was also suppressed in Carson City by the ferociousFederal Guard, with more than half the casualties.
Tahoe City is just asmall town by Lake Tahoe, where only one reconnaissance company is stationed bythe California Republican Defense Forces, while heavy troops are stationed inLake Valley, which has an airport there. As a result, the task of thereconnaissance company is fairly easy.
September 27, earlymorning.
Sergeant Wilson Leeexamined the XM8 assault rifle and began the patrol with Corporal Morris Berne,Private Walter Xu, who was waiting outside the barracks.
None of the three spokemuch. Every morning patrol is always like this, silent, empty cities, boringpatrol routes. It's not a potential target for hostile forces-no one wants tosend hundreds of crafts across an inland lake.
Tahoe Lake, sparklingand crystal clear, is a rare inland plateau lake, one of the famous scenicspots in the United States in peacetime.
But now that a secondcivil war broke out in North America, no visitors were seen, only barbed wireand machine-gun positions, as well as watchful eyes behind the bunker.
The patrol walked alongand said hello only to their fellow soldiers at the post, who knew nothingwould happen. If something really happened, their entire scout would be closeto death.
Wilson thought the triowas like an old man walking out in the morning and abandoned houses nearbyreminded him of his home in Eureka.
"They reported thatthe battle in Nevada would soon be over. Do they think we'rethree-year-olds?"Morris grumbled. He could have enjoyed his leisure lifein Seattle, far from the war zone, but finally, he was there, holding his XM8.
Wilson didn't say anything.He had been in Afghanistan for three years before joining the CaliforniaDefense Forces and was used to war-life.
As Walter looked up totalk to Wilson, he saw a man running in the distance.
"At two o'clock,there is a man running in the bay."
Morris looked in thatdirection quickly, holding back his complaints.
Wilson looked throughhis binoculars and saw a white man in Pure Alliance uniform running madlytowards the top of the bay.
Walter shot the tree infront of the white soldier. The white solider lied down on the ground brieflyand got up and run again soon.
"Walter, keep onfiring! Morris, come with me!”
The two galloped to ahigh ground near the lake bay. The white soldier was still crawling and Morrispointed his gun at his head and shouted, "Freeze!"
At the same time, Wilsonrushed to him and pressed him down. The white soldier was then knockedunconscious by Wilson’s elbow. He then bundled up the white soldier and threwhim beside a tree.
Wilson pulled the dogtag around his neck. "Hicks Matthews, Major."
“Yo, man. You know howmuch a major worths? We really make a fortune!”Morris whistled excitedly.
Walter did not speak. Hesat down and lit a cigarette. "When he wakes up, you two ‘take care of’him well."
Wilson took a quick puffand nodded.
The three sat aroundhim, guessing the identity of the captive.
"In any case, thisis going to be tricky, the Pure Alliance has missed a major, and therelationship between California and the Alliance is not optimistic, despite thesigning of a non-aggression agreement, California's military-tech companies aretoo attractive for the Alliance. I am very worried that this will lead to abilateral dispute. "
The other two weresilent. They were petty officers, and the bilateral dispute was too serious forthem.
At this time theprisoner groaned low and opened his eyes slowly.
The three men pointedtheir guns at him at the same time.
"Don't kill me.Don't kill me." cried the captive hurriedly.
“Tell us everything orbe killed.”
The prisonerhesitated, but said, "I am the technical major of the Pure Alliance. Wewere defeated at Carson City. The establishment was completely disorganized, Iescaped with my three fellow comrades and swam across the lake alone. I don't knowwhere they are yet. "
"Are you threearmed?"
"Yes, they all arescouts."
Wilson took a deepbreath. The Fourth Army of the Alliance is the main force, and their scoutshave extraordinary skills and qualities, if they want, they three can eliminatethe stationed company.
"Not safe here.Let's move."
They dragged the captiveinto an apartment building. Walter checked the ropes and threw the captive intoa room without windows.
Wilson and Morris sat ata table, silent and unsure of what to say. The situation now exceeded theirexpectations. Well-trained troops may be on their way searching for the missingmajor now.
Walter leaned againstthe refrigerator, pressed his hands on the gun, and, leaning his head, said,“What about now?”
Wilson moved his lipsbut did not speak.
"Kill him as if itdidn't happen," Morris said. "Find a stone tied to his ankle andthrow him into the lake. No one knows."
"Take him back tothe headquarters, maybe we can get a reward."
"You know what? Ichoose none. "
Wilson stood up.
“Pull him over here, weneed more details before we make decisions.”
So they sat down againand surrounded the captive.
"Anything you wantto say?"
"I was just a carengineer in Minneapolis, and the Alliance forced me into the army. I have twodaughters in my hometown. I love them very much; I love my wife very much. Ijust want to go back and enjoy my family life. Please don't kill me. I evenhaven’t pulled a trigger in this war. I'm just an engineer. "
Hicks pleaded urgently.
Wilson lit a cigarette,took a deep puff, and said nothing.
"You put us in areally tough and dangerous position."
Said Morris angrily.
"Maybe there arehundreds of Alliance Delta Teams looking for our location. They can shoot us asfixed targets.”
At that moment, therewas a sound of gunfire outside, far apart, but still vaguely heard.
“Damn it! I am sofucking right, now!”
There was a sudden soundof gunfire on the walkie-talkie, and then the whole room fell into a deadsilence.
Wilson broke thesilence. He picked up the talkie and asked, "Reservoir, what's goingon?"
"Unknown armed menfired artillery on the lake, we suspected this is their initial fire. Secondand following ones are coming soon. Morning bird, what's your situation? "
"Business as usual,we didn't find any armed men."
"The reservoirreceives. Be on your guard."
Wilson threw thewalkie-talkie on the table. His arms crossed over his chest, eyes on Hicks.
Hicks was pale, and hedidn't know which side had gone nuts and fired at neutral side. His own lifewas hanging over the following attack.
"You're soimportant." Wilson gave a sneer.
Hicks nodded and hastilyexplained: "But I absolutely have no devil purpose, I just want to gohome. So I didn’t go north, my father-in-law lives in San Diego, I told my wifeto leave for there before I came to the army."
Wilson did not speak butstared closely at him.
Hicks bit his teeth andpulled a mobile hard disk out of his underwear pocket. "Maybe this is whatthey want. Data of Alliance’s missiles under developing and a big part of theclassified data of a California military-tech company. Once developedsuccessfully, the alliance can greatly change the situation now. "
Wilson took it, took alook, and put it in his pocket. "No wonder."
All of a sudden therewas gunfire outside, which sounded only a few hundred meters away from them.
They quickly searchedfor shelter, and a few seconds later, Morris fell under the window and lookedout. Two groups were at a crossroads, only four or five blocks from thebuilding.
"Two groups ofarmed men, about 50, five blocks away, engaged in fierce fighting. Over."Morris shouted.
“And, Sergeant! Youmight need to make a decision ASAP.”
"Just hand himover, and let's get back to the barracks." Walter cried.
Wilson bit his upper lipand stared out of the window at the blazing light, his eyes moving quickly fromleft to right, the gunfire getting nearer and louder, and he had to make adecision as soon as possible. This is about one or three or four lives.
Who wants to leave thewarm home, the beloved wife, the lovely children, come to this cold and fiercebattlefield and shoot at the enemy who is also forced to join the army? Hickswas right. He just wanted to go home, but who didn't? If Higgins were handedover, I and my two fellow comrades would be protected by the neutral agreementand wouldn’t be hurt, going home is just a matter of time. But what aboutHicks? He will be sent back to Alliance or getting kidnapped to the Federation,or might be killed during his way. What faults did he make? He deservesfamily-life, not war-life.
I must save him.
Finally, he made thedecision.
"Go and find somecivilian clothes yourself."
Walter turned around andwas surprised to say, "Why, you let him go?"
"He doesn't haveany weapons, he hands in confidential data, and he just wants to go home. Whynot?"
Walter's face was stillshocked.
“Don’t stand there likea status. Find your position and ready for contact.”
“No way! You can’t justlet him go!”
“Listen. He has nomalice and handed in the confidential information. All he wants is going home.Do you know what's going to happen if we handed him over? The racists wouldkill him.”
“What about us? We mightget back if we hand him over.”
“No way. Don’t takeracists as idiots.”
“Well! Let’s bematerialistic, how much is a major worth?”
Wilson turned and staredat Walter. "Remember one thing, son. He's a human, not a fucking prey. Youcan't take a life as a few medals and bonuses. Not to mention he didn't killanyone, there is nothing for him to pay with his life."
“But I made up my mind anyway.”Walter raises his XM8.
“I've had enough of thislakeside barrack. I want to go back to Los Angeles, which means I need apromotion. So, I am bound to hand him over to Alliance. Obey me or get killed.”
“Have a try.” Wilsoncrossed his arms over his chest.
The gunfire outside thewindow grew louder and louder, with at least a hundred people engaged and evenheavy gunfire.
"There are at leasttwo companies and heavy artillery out there waiting to destroy us. How long doyou think we can stand, 10 seconds?"
“Morning Bird, do youneed any support?” the talkie said.
"We need some firecover, baby. Send an Apache. Over."
“The reservoir receives,over.”
“I tell you, I made upmy choice, too. Hicks must leave here safe and sound.”
"No way! Hand himover to Alliance or to headquarters. He can't leave! Are you still a fuckingsoldier? Don't even obey orders? "
"Let me remind youof your identity as a California Defense Force soldier, not a spy of Alliance,private Walter."
"There are justorders on the battlefield, no rank!"
Just then, Hicks,dressed in outdoor clothes, rushed in, and both Walter and Wilson turned theirheads to Hicks at the same time.
Walter rushed to Hicks,his right hand was stretched out to catch him, Wilson sped up and kicked Walterto a corner, then pressed himself heavily on Walter who groaned in pain.
“You listen to me andyou listen well, Hicks Matthews will leave here safe and sound, nobodyincluding you can hurt him.”
He then tied Walter upand threw him in the corner," Hicks, put your eyes on him. Morris, getready for contact. "
Five black soldiers wereadvancing on the street. Wilson and Morris shot quickly, the firstcounterattack successfully took down five.
Racial hatred seems moreappealing than classified data. Instead of suppressing on California soldiers,both sides continue to fire at each other.
Instead of running away,Hicks lied on the ground, said, "I'm sorry for bringing them here."
“It's not your fault,seriously, this hard drive should attract two brigades. It’s our luck forfewer."
"Morning bird,Apache in position, look for shelters to avoid accidental injury. Over. "
"The early bird receives.The enemy position has been marked."
“I am ‘Flamingo’,morning birds, targets are too close to your position, you have to withdrawquickly from the apartment to the distance. Over.”
“Roger that, withdraw in2 minutes. Over.”
“What about enemies? Morris!”
“They are still onfiring, we might be able to get out here from the back door.”
But in the back is apark, a large plain with no cover......
Anyway, they must leavehere now, this place would be in ruins in two minutes.
"Morris, you go anduntie Walter's rope, take Hicks and get out from the back door. I'll cover you.Be quick. We only have two minutes."
Wilson stood by thewindow and looked out, still hot on both sides. He then heard the back dooropen.
The next moment he lostconsciousness and a powerful shock wave knocked him straight to the ground.
But the noise was soloud that a small group of Alliance soldiers were attracted and quickly coveredthe building with gunfire.
Morris roared in thetalkie, “we are suppressed! we can’t get out!”
Wilson bit his teeth andyelled, “I cover you. Rush out when grenades explode!” He then pulled out fourgrenades, threw them one by one, and shot on the pursuers.
“This is Flamingo, ananti-aircraft missile is checked, we have to open fire. Morning Bird, you mustleave here in 10 seconds.”
Wilson threw all of hisgrenades, then ran with all his strength toward the door. Apache openedfire, eight bombs shot at the crossroads in front of the apartment when he wasjust a few meters from the back door, one is off track and hit the apartment. Astrong shock wave pushed Wilson to the ground, and the back door blurred in hissight.......
When he woke up again,he was already in his bed, Walter was lying on a bed next to him, with thickbandages on his legs.
"We’re good. Onlymy left leg was hit by a bullet, Just a small wound. It doesn't matter."
"And Hicks, did heescape?"
"Well, I stuffedhim two hundred dollars. He also found a car and should be on Highway 80."
Wilson heaved a sigh ofrelief and lay on the ground again.
“I’m sorry aboutthat...you know, he just wants to go home, like us...so..”
“Say no more, I canunderstand.”
"Then how did yousuddenly change your mind? "
"You're right. Hejust wants to go home." Walter sat up.
"Who doesn't wantto go home? None of us volunteered for the war. Why I’m so eager to hand himover to quarter? I want a promotion, so I can leave the war front and go backhome, I really missed my girlfriend at that time."
“I can understand.”
“Well, by then I took alook at Hicks and was reminded of your words, he is innocent, and he is aliving human, so I let him go, that’s it, simple.”
Wilson burst outlaughing. "Just figure it out, and I'll give you the three dog cards I'vecaptured if you want."
Walter laughed, "Comeon, I'm not that greedy. I just want to go home early. Now, here we are, may besent back to LA tomorrow. That’s what we want, right?"
Perhaps they shared thesame mood with Hicks, who was galloping on Highway 80, on his way home.