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File 162282789379.jpg - (266.71KB , 980x1457 , cop197.jpg )
1002615 No. 1002615 ID: e30795

Your name is BAN. You're a warrior.

The attack's been underway for a couple hours, now. Air support's getting shot out of the sky left and right, but they're still getting the job done. You've gotten this far without detection, but now you've reached an impasse.

Sergeant Dane leaps into cover behind you. MUDA and VARGA fall in close behind. You've lost sight of JOAN, WEIS and ORI. They might still be hiding in the last piece of cover.

>"Fucking hell, LT," Dane hisses. He adjusts his helmet nervously. "Fucking hell, that tank's like 30 yards away. I saw a couple foxholes, too. What the hell can we do now?!"

"Cool it," you chide. "We've got this."

The rest of your platoon is spread out in the ruins across this small area. What's left of your company is a small distance behind, waiting for you to find a point in the Canardi defense line to pierce through. If the sounds from the city are any indication, you've got thirty minutes at most to succeed before this flanking maneuver blows up in the entire Advance Team's face.

If you had a mouth, you'd be grinning from ear to ear. God, you love your job. In seconds, you've already put together a few ideas...
15 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
>>
No. 1003870 ID: 094652

You have the initiative, use it to flank from all sides! Have two demon soldiers throw grenades from the front door, have your stealthiest soldier open the back door and infiltrate, the rest shoot from the windows.
>>
No. 1004089 ID: b7456f
File 162458727458.jpg - (144.93KB , 997x744 , cop203.jpg )
1004089

"Soften up the front door," you order quickly, "and clear those fucking windows!"

Your commands are followed to the letter. MUDA and JOAN stack up on the front door and toss the last of their grenades inside. The rest of your squadmates square up by the fence and start firing into the side windows. A couple of policemen pop up to return fire, but get mowed down instantly.

"Dane!" you call. The sergeant's read your mind, and he's already halfway over the fence. He drops to the other side, gets low and starts scrambling toward the back of the building, being careful to stay clear of your buddies' cover fire.

A change in the sound of the action catches your ear. THOMPSON's machine gun has gone silent, now--the platoon must be getting ready to send the second flanking team.

>MUDA pokes his head into the doorway, then turns back to you. "Front door's clear!" he barks.

>"LT, look!!"

You look in the direction that ORI's pointing. Far down the street to your left, a squad of eight humans is moving in your direction. You can't tell if they're Advance Team or Canardi from this distance, and they haven't started shooting yet.

Several gunshots ring out from the other side of the building. An Advance Team rifle starts chattering in response. Shit, sounds like Dane ran into some trouble...

>ORI's eye darts between the approaching force and the front door. "What's the move, boss?!" he asks urgently.
>>
No. 1004092 ID: a2493c

>>1004089
That doesn't look like a military formation, so I'm going to assume those are either civvies or canardi. We gotta get out of the pinch-zone. All in on the cop shop, we need to fortify yesterday.
>>
No. 1004095 ID: 9d29cf

Let's get everyone inside,, but leave a lookout to tell us who those oncoming guys are.
>>
No. 1004210 ID: b7456f
File 162468159315.jpg - (201.37KB , 1200x787 , cop204.jpg )
1004210

"Everyone in," you yell. "CONN, keep watch out here. Figure out who our guests are..."

>"Yes, sir!!"

You motion for the rest of the platoon to come in as well. Your squad stacks up on the front door and storms the police department.

The lobby has been blown to hell and back by those grenades. Six corpses litter the area. Looks like there are both police officers and soldiers among the dead. There are two doors on the back wall leading further into the building, and one on each side leading to adjacent rooms. You hear someone crying in pain from the room to your left.

>"Everything's dead in the right room," ORI calls. He and WEIS move to take up positions inside of it.

>MUDA and JOAN move to investigate the yelling on the left. "A couple meatbags are dying in here," MUDA reports. "More cops. Should I plug them, or let 'em keep crying?"

>"It's kind of nice, isn't it? Like white noise," ORI remarks, poking his head back into the lobby. "It's the LT's decision, though."
>>
No. 1004211 ID: b7456f
File 162468179330.jpg - (145.81KB , 1193x654 , cop205.jpg )
1004211

>Dane bursts through one of the doors on the back wall. He stumbles and falls, narrowly avoiding a salvo of Canardi bullets. He contorts himself to fire back through the doorway. "Fuck!! Close the door!!!" he screams. "Fucking close it!!!"

You fire three shells' worth of buckshot into the hallway. You catch sight of an enemy, but he ducks into another room. You pull back to help Dane up while VARGA slams the door shut.
>>
No. 1004213 ID: b7456f
File 162468275543.jpg - (190.80KB , 903x980 , cop206.jpg )
1004213

>"Fuck me," Dane groans. He starts patting himself frantically as he checks his torso for blood. "Fuck me, they killed me. They shot me. They fucking shot me, BAN!! Jesus, they were right there, I fucking felt it, where did they--!"

"You're fine, buddy," you say, prodding the sergeant's armor with your shotgun. Near his gut is a fresh bullet hole, but it's incredibly shallow. "Look at that, and thank the Canardi government for still trying to field these pea shooters. Can't pierce anything worth a damn."

>Dane stares at the hole for a moment, then closes his eyes. "Jesus H. Christ," he breathes. "You could have told me sooner, asshole..."

>"Lucky motherfucker," VARGA laughs.

>"Hey LT, I still can't tell who those guys are," CONN calls nervously. "They've stopped moving forward... I think they saw our boys."

The rest of your men have closed the distance to the police department. Sergeant KAVE's squad joins you indoors, while THOMPSON and his men keep watch outside.

On the other side of the lobby doors, you can hear several men shouting back and forth in Canardi. Your soldiers are looking at you with hungry eyes... If you give the word, they'll tear the rest of this building apart with no survivors. As much as you'd enjoy that, you do take an extra moment to think on whether or not your attack plan needs any extra nuance.
>>
No. 1004225 ID: a2493c

>>1004213
These cops or soldiers? If the former, we may be able to negotiate. Probably not. I say we dig deeper in, try and make it out the back. Don't dig in or try to fortify anything more than a distraction, getting stuck here would turn it into a war of attrition and we have places to be.

Also, we're here to kill, not to torture, we're sons of bitches not bastards. Unless we get intel out of it, plug 'em.
>>
No. 1004352 ID: 094652

Begin negotiations for their immediate surrender, while you reposition some guys to breach from the flanks. If they try to kill you again, waste them.
>>
No. 1004516 ID: b7456f
File 162500358698.jpg - (170.50KB , 1201x650 , cop207.jpg )
1004516

"MUDA, put those guys out of their misery unless you think we can get something out of them," you call into the other room. "We're sons of bitches, not bastards, remember that."

>Your subordinate nods sheepishly and hefts his rifle. "Sorry, sir. I'll handle it."

The cries of the wounded are cut short by three shots. You nod in satisfaction. You have a lot of fun on this job, but you're still professionals. You're not about to let your boys get too sadistic about it, like those freaks in 11th Company...

You turn back to the issue at hand. You send KAVE's squad back outside to cover the sides of the building, and assemble your own men in the lobby. If the fuckers on the other side of these doors are soldiers, they'll start shooting the second they hear you speak. If they're just cops, though, then maybe...

You carefully crack one of the doors open a sliver. You catch the quickest glimpse of someone in blue, but he ducks out of your tiny line of sight. Someone shouts in Canardi, and you hear that familiar sound of peashooters getting loaded... "Anybody speak Inglish in there?!" you shout. "Answer me, dammit! We want to talk!"

>Your squad's already positioned themselves for a breach. Dane looks at you with wide eyes. "LT, what are you--!"

>A gruff voice answers you from somewhere on the other side. He's got a thick accent, but he can be understood. "Answer me, Statesman. Am I speaking to a man, or a devil?"
>>
No. 1004520 ID: df76b1

Both, last I checked.

You really want to die for this glorified cop shop? we're just killing time until the big guns roll in.
>>
No. 1004521 ID: 9d29cf

A devil who wants you to surrender.
>>
No. 1004524 ID: a2493c

>>1004516
"Both. My devilry is for soldiers and warmongers, not policemen and peacekeepers. Exit the building, we have no quarrel."
>>
No. 1004525 ID: 094652

"Devil, definitely; I love this job.

And here's my deal: are you seriously going to commit suicide with guns smaller than your dicks?! Because you don't have to die for your country! In fact, they can just replace the free logistics slot from your deaths with some fresh conscripts!

Take it from a devil, War is not Hell, it's an occupation! And Hell isn't a place, it's a realization!

You've let yourselves get sucked into a corporate nationalist narrative! You need to wake up and remember who you are and how precious your life is, because nobody else gives a flip! Not even me, and especially not the ten soldiers ready to shoot you if you come out guns blazing!"
>>
No. 1004526 ID: a2493c

>>1004525
not-
no, not this one.

-1.
>>
No. 1004528 ID: 9a2966

Everyone’s a devil in this war, but whoever told these fellas that policing duties involved frontline stationing must be some kinda demon lord.

Tell your folks that anyone who drops their weapons to surrender and gets to the ground may get out of this alive when we breach - anyone still fiddling with something is fair game. Cops have fucking cuffs or zip ties right? You can stash some prisoners. Maybe even in their own cells. Sound cozy, right?

Frankly, you just didn’t expect to be fighting cops with peashooters - half civvies, half soft butter, practically speaking, no offense. Tell your coworkers or don’t, this place is getting cleared regardless.

(Give them ten seconds, and your own troops a silent exhortation to just ‘try capture’ and to get to the sides of the door. Kick the door open, but stand to the side - if gunfire pours through, you pump a few shotgun shots through at waist height to tag whoever’s standing their ground like a dumbass. If not, you breach proper.)
>>
No. 1004816 ID: e30795
File 162541568188.jpg - (429.10KB , 880x786 , cop208.jpg )
1004816

"Both, last I checked," you reply. "Now clear out of here, will you? We're here to fight soldiers, not cops. We've got no quarrel with you."

>You hear some excited chatter in Canardi. Eventually, their spokesperson speaks up again. "We can't do that, devil. As long as your kind draws breath, we're all soldiers."

You scoff. "You really want to die over this shitty building? We've got an entire force headed this way, we're just killing time. Surrender, and we can--"

>"Enough!! You're wasting your time!" the cop shouts. "We are men of the First Police District! As long as we live, we'll fight for our city!"

So that's how it is, you think darkly. "Listen closely, civilian, because I'll only say this once," you announce. "I'm coming through that door, now. Anyone who drops their weapons and gets on the ground might get out of this alive. Everyone else is fair game, understand?! Tell your friends what I just said or don't, if you don't value their lives. This place is getting cleared, regardless."

There isn't a response, but you're not waiting for one. As you count to ten in your head, you quietly address the squad. "When we breach it, get to the sides of the door. Capture anyone you can, ice the rest."

They acknowledge eagerly. You take a step back, and with one kick you smash the door off of its hinges.
>>
No. 1004817 ID: e30795
File 162541593531.jpg - (320.83KB , 1000x767 , cop209.jpg )
1004817

MUDA, VARGA and WEIS make it through the ruined doorway and take cover off to either side of the hallway. A barrage of fire comes your way almost immediately afterward.

>"Fuck! They're in those side rooms, too!!" MUDA yells over the noise. "The whole corridor's covered!"

Dammit, so much for diplomacy... You snap out to fire back at any dipshit who's standing their ground--!!!

A live grenade rolls right past WEIS's cover. A second lands directly at MUDA's feet. Two cops are charging your position with bayonets attached...!
>>
No. 1004819 ID: 094652

Shout 'grenade, take cover' as you shoot into the left leg of the nearest soldier to get him to fall onto the grenade, then dive to the right.
>>
No. 1004832 ID: df76b1

Strafe to the left, firing at the two chargers. Then kick the grenade back at the ones in the back.

They try to shoot back, they're gonna shoot their own guys first. Idiots.

Trust someone to deal with the other grenade.
>>
No. 1004854 ID: e799e4

Kick that thing back, MUDA

Yell that as you shoot at the oncoming soldiers.
>>
No. 1004971 ID: 88966b
File 162561824703.jpg - (497.60KB , 880x878 , cop210.jpg )
1004971

You approach the attack with a cool head. There's still enough time on the fuses to handle this. You'll have to trust WEIS to get clear of the second grenade, you decide. You take aim and bark orders at the same time. "MUDA, kick that--!"

Your world incinerates in two explosions of light. Shit, they were flashbangs?!! Your vision's gone, and it feels like you've been thrown underwater. You think you can hear someone yelling, but you can't make out what they're--?!!

Someone crashes into you at full speed from the front. The two of you get tangled up, and start to fall backward...!
>>
No. 1004981 ID: a2493c

>>1004971
no footing, but you're both moving. Rookie mistake. Use the momentum to roll that fucker over you. Use your weight to send him flying.
>>
No. 1005049 ID: 9a2966

>>1004981
Sounds like a plan, but make sure you don't hit your head hard.
>>
No. 1005084 ID: df76b1

drop your gun and snap his neck as you topple. You may need to use him as cover when you land.
>>
No. 1005515 ID: 88966b
File 162619859776.jpg - (525.69KB , 1593x700 , cop211.jpg )
1005515

Muscle memory kicks in well before any conscious thought. You let go of your shotgun and grapple the assailant as you fall. You strike at where you expect their neck to be, and feel a very satisfying crunch. You hit the ground and lash out with a foot, rolling your opponent over you and sending him flying several feet. Blood splatters you as he passes over your head.

You stagger to your feet and grab your gun. Your vision's returning, slowly. You can make out Dane going after the fallen cop, combat knife in hand. You turn back toward the door just in time to watch the mangled corpse of the second cop go flying back down the hall.

>ORI grabs you by the shoulder pad and pulls you back to one side of the open door. "--hurt!! They got him!!" You have to strain to hear your radio man's voice over the ringing in your ears. "He's bleeding bad, we've gotta wrap this up!"

>"Fucking assholes," JOAN grunts. He pops out of cover and takes two well-placed shots. "I got one," he calls as he pulls back. Another barrage of small arms fire comes your way in response.

You use a splitsecond break in the gunfire to peek into the hallway. MUDA is slumped against the wall, tightly gripping the rifle that's now jutting out of his stomach. Red is already soaking through his armor... VARGA and WEIS are blind-firing down the hallway in turns. They're definitely still reeling from the flashbangs, but their suppression is keeping any other cops from attempting a charge.

Fuck, it's getting hard to think. You made sure not to bang your head as you fell, but your brain's still swimming in pain from those grenades. You try to will the discomfort away as you quickly decide how to break this impasse...
>>
No. 1005530 ID: a2493c

>>1005515
throw a couple inactive grenades, make them panic.

Use the distraction to force them back into their holes, then rush them before they can fortify. No need to actually expend more than bullets here, just gotta reposition the fuckers.

They had their chance to surrender.
>>
No. 1005531 ID: df76b1

I say pop smoke, let them use up their mags, then go in for CQC
while they're getting their bearings.
>>
No. 1005617 ID: e30795
File 162638114976.jpg - (499.29KB , 850x904 , cop212.jpg )
1005617

"I need two frags and a smoke," you order. "We're not wasting more than we have to, here."

>ORI pulls the grenades out from a slot on his radio backpack. "This all I've got left," he reports, pressing them into your hand.

You toss one of the frags to JOAN, keeping the other and the smoke grenade for yourself. Your subordinate catches on quickly, poising himself to throw without pulling the pin.

>"Frag out!!" he bellows.

Frantic shouts follow as the two frags roll through the doorway. You prime the smoke grenade and sling it in, next. Confused gunfire answers you for a moment, but fear of the two grenades seems to win out. You don't have to give the order when the firing stops--your squad immediately moves to rush the hallway.
>>
No. 1005618 ID: e30795
File 162638210149.jpg - (348.57KB , 980x802 , cop213.jpg )
1005618

VARGA hangs back with MUDA while the rest of you charge. WEIS, ORI and JOAN disappear into the growing smoke cloud to clear the room on the right. Cries of shock get cut mercifully short as your men get to work in close quarters.

You barrel into the left room with Dane close behind.

You skid to a stop and freeze up at the sight before you. It's a detective's office... A tiny desk sits against the wall near a small window, and two of your pillows--

>"LT, behind!!" Dane barks.

You kick yourself for letting your mind wander. Three cops and two soldiers have been crouching along the wall to either side of the door, clutching riot batons. You notice police-grade rifles, an assault rifle and a Canardi officer's pistol are strewn about the room--they must have finally run out of ammo.

They quickly rise and move to encircle you. The cops exchange a few nervous words, but they're silenced by several desperate-sounding orders from the soldiers. They all look almost feral with fear--they've probably never seen a demon this close before, you realize.

>Dane backs toward you until you're close enough for your armor to touch. "I've still got rounds, you?" he asks breathlessly.

"Yeah."

>"We could ice them right now," he says, warily looking around the room. "Unless you want to give them a fair fight. Either way, I've got your back..."
>>
No. 1005619 ID: df76b1

Got to get back to MUDA. take them out hard.
>>
No. 1005624 ID: a2493c

>>1005618

>two of your pillows

ah fuck this isn't real is it

"Last chance. On the ground. Throw your weapons away."
>>
No. 1005966 ID: 88966b
File 162667104460.jpg - (561.20KB , 1026x860 , cop214.jpg )
1005966

You consider one last attempt at making them surrender, but you decide against it. There's no time, not with MUDA bleeding out... "Take them out hard," you order.

The officer starts to shout something, but it's too late. Dane mows down both soldiers and a cop in the same burst, and you blow the other two soldiers back with your shotgun.

>"Clear," Dane shouts. He makes for the smoke-filled hallway again. "There's three more rooms!"

>"We're clear!" ORI calls from the other room.

Geeze, what a mess. As if the office wasn't shitty enough already...

>"Stack up! Dane, where's the lieutenant?!"

>"I'll get him!" Sergeant Dane runs back into the room. She urgently motions for you to follow her. "C'mon LT, are you hurt?! BAN?!!"

You still haven't moved. You look around the room, confused. Why are you so hung up about this space? You feel panicked, like there's some weird kind of pressure on your head. Did the flashbangs fuck you over worse than you thought? Every time you stare at your desk, you feel--!
>>
No. 1005967 ID: 88966b
File 162667128944.jpg - (381.44KB , 1041x800 , cop215.jpg )
1005967

>"You're a little late to the party, boss!"

You're standing in some kind of armory or workshop, surrounded by your squadmates. A few men from THOMPSON's squad are running in and out of the room, and one is keeping an eye out the back door. The effects of the flashbangs have all but worn off, but you still feel weirdly disoriented... The building's cleared, and your platoon's already started scanning for potential funeral pyre triggers, but when did it all happen...?

>"The lieutenant held back to keep an eye on our new friend," Dane lies through his teeth. He elbows you roughly and forces a laugh. "I lit her up but she kept coming at us with that baton, it was scary."

You've put together your best hypothesis in seconds. You must've been knocked out in the fight to clear that room, and now the sergeant's helping you save face... You put on your best poker face and nod.

>"The whole building under control in twelve minutes, and a Canardi captain in custody," ORI says proudly. "Big Man will be pleased when he arrives."

"What's the situation?" you ask. "How's MUDA?"

>"DIN's taking care of him now, but it doesn't look good," VARGA reports. He hangs his head. "I wasn't quick enough to stop that cop from sticking him, LT. I'm sorry."

>"If that bastard could die from just getting poked once or twice, I would've done it myself. He'll be fine," Dane scoffs. He's trying to keep up his usual attitude, but his eyes give away his concern.

>"Those guys are still watching from up the road, LT," CONN announces from his new perch at the back door. "THOMPSON wants to engage, but he said to ask you first..."

>"Current orders from on high are to hold here until the rest of the company arrives," ORI says. "We've got maybe ten more minutes to kill, however you want to do that."
>>
No. 1005974 ID: 094652

"Set up some basic defenses, a couple sandbags and some mines or whatever junk you can pile up.

And get me a medic, I think something in my cranium got jilted serendipitously stop playing Jackpot 2 Dane where's my Chiiiiiiiii-"

Fall on the floor unconscious.
>>
No. 1005981 ID: 510e7b

Dig in and await. We've put in enough time for now.
>>
No. 1005993 ID: df76b1

Lets send a couple guys to detail that tank in case we need it. Even if it's just hosing it out. Everyone else sweeps the building and moves the bodies out.

With that kind of timeline, Thompson should just stay put too.
We should find our medic, and see if we can be of any use there
>>
No. 1006474 ID: 88966b
File 162741575972.jpg - (341.96KB , 1045x800 , cop216.jpg )
1006474

"Just dig in and wait," you order. "Tell THOMPSON to stay put, too. We've put in enough time, for now."

>"Got it, boss." ORI adjusts his backpack and runs out of the room to spread the word.

You close your eyes for a moment. Shit, more errant thoughts... You try to clear them from your head and focus. You open your eyes and turn to VARGA. "I want a couple guys to run back and detail that tank. Everyone else should sweep this place, and move the bodies out."

>"I'll get ZAN and YUDI to do the run," VARGA says. "They used to be armored cavalry, they can handle that thing."

"Great." You start toward the door that leads back into the hallway. "Sergeant, where's our medic?"

>"They're back toward the front, come on."

Dane leads you back the way you came. Your men have opened some windows, but the halls are still hazy from that smoke grenade. Judging by the red streaks on the ground, the platoon's already started clearing out their victims.

>The sergeant waits until he's sure that nobody's nearby before stopping in his tracks and turning to you. "Look, before we keep going I need to know." He awkwardly fiddles with his helmet. "Are you good, man...? You scared me when you froze up like that. The way you looked, I thought you'd finally snapped, or something..."

"Yeah," you lie. So much for your hypothesis... You really have no idea what happened, then. "Sorry about before, I'm fine now."

>Dane stares at you for a second. Finally, he frowns and starts walking again. "Alright, I'll trust you. But you and me are gonna talk about this after we're all in the clear."
>>
No. 1006475 ID: 88966b
File 162741659779.jpg - (280.67KB , 1258x800 , cop217.jpg )
1006475

The two of you reach the other end of the main hallway.

>"Fuck," Dane breathes.

Your heart sinks at the grisly sight. MUDA's still down by the door that you busted open. Someone's gotten his helmet off, and his vest has been cut open, revealing the full extent of the damage. Corporal DIN is frantically working on him while two more of KAVE's men watch from the lobby. The medic's almost as red-stained as his patient...

>DIN glances your way and gives you a look before quickly getting back to applying field dressing. "Hey, LT," he says cheerfully. "I was just telling MUDA about my buddy in First Company who got poked like this. It looks like shit, and it feels like shit, but all things considered it's really not--"

>"DIN," MUDA rasps. "You only talk this much...when someone's dying...."

>The medic falters for a splitsecond. "That's not true," he says darkly, returning to his work. "And I told you not to talk, didn't I? This thing's still a cunt hair away from your lungs."

>Your subordinate weakly tilts his head back so he can see you. "LT... Sarge... What'd they really get me with...?"

>"What do you mean? You're holding it in your hands," Dane says. "The fucker just stuck you with a bayonet. DIN's right, you'll be fine."

>MUDA stares at the rifle jutting out of him like it's the first time that he's seen it. "Can't be right," he slurs. "It's too cold...."

>"You're talking too much," DIN says, urgency creeping into his voice. He motions for one of the other soldiers to pass him some more tools. "What do you mean, cold? Don't answer that."

>You can see MUDA picking his words carefully. He takes a deep, painful breath. "LT knows... Bullets, blades, if they make us bleed... There's always heat, like...like it's burning... But this time... God, it's fucking freezing...."

>Your subordinate looks at the two of you. His breathing's getting more shallow... "You guys... Sarge... LT.... We...we've been together since basic...." His eye rolls lazily before fixating on you again. "Why...did we come here...? Going out like this.... There's a point to it.... Right....?"
>>
No. 1006491 ID: c65507

Try to remember- why are you here?
...Where is 'here'?
>>
No. 1006500 ID: 094652

"There isn't. When you get to Hell, tell the cops we mowed down we're sorry we're violent, ugly brutes that love war. Then do a 180 and tell them you're not sorry you separated them from their families because now their children have a chance at a real life instead of a fate as indoctrinated, abused slaves."
>>
No. 1006505 ID: df76b1

There's always a story, but it comes down to us doing what we had to, cause no one else could.

Making it worth it... that's not our job.
>>
No. 1006536 ID: a2493c

>>1006475
Nothing that would make this worth it.
>>
No. 1006594 ID: 0fbdcd

"Why do we wage war" is for the philosophers, not for the likes of us. I'm sorry, son.

Don't panic about how you can't remember what the war is over.
>>
No. 1006765 ID: e30795
File 162766851076.jpg - (418.17KB , 1405x750 , cop218.jpg )
1006765

You grip MUDA's shoulder plate tightly. "Nothing that would make this worth it," you say bitterly. More words are floating in the back of your mind, but you're struggling to get them out.

>The wounded soldier looks disappointed. "I figured.... Like you always say.... Thoughts like these...aren't in our paygrade, right...?"

"Right... I'm sorry, MUDA."

MUDA leans his head back against the wall, closes his eye and lets out a weak sigh. "Geeze, LT.... This part of the job....isn't as fun....."

>"No, no, no...!" DIN's movements are becoming more desperate. He quickly finishes the dressing and starts patting MUDA's face. "Buddy, open your eye back up for me, alright?! I told you not to close it until I was done! MUDA!!"

>The medic checks for a pulse. He utters a curse and slowly rises to his feet. "Fuck. He's done, LT..."

>"God--!!" Dane stands abruptly, tears his helmet off and slings it down the hall. He looks at MUDA one more time before storming off to retrieve it.

Goddammit...
>>
No. 1006766 ID: e30795
File 162766876687.jpg - (678.80KB , 1976x600 , cop219.jpg )
1006766

You try to stand, but your legs feel like lead. Your stomach's twisting as you stare at what's become of Private MUDA. Why did he have to eat it, of all people?

Why are you here, again?

Where is here...?

You stay by MUDA's body a moment longer. A foreign emotion is eating at your insides. Fear? Panic? Dammit, you've been through too much to break now... You refuse to move from this spot until you can get yourself under control.

You know where you are, BAN, you think desperately. You crossed the border into Canard half a year ago. You're all here to end this war by any means necessary. That's why their capital has to burn. That's why MUDA....!

But what are you even fighting for?

>"The company's arrived, LT. LT...?"

You feel like you're going to be sick, but you keep kneeling by the corpse. 13th Company has lost almost 80 men since crossing the border. Before today, First Platoon's accounted for only four of those casualties, and only one of those were from your squad. You're just in shock over the loss, you rationalize. STEVE was one of the few constant faces in this shithole of a city, and with him gone--

>"BAN, tell me you aren't a vegetable or I'm gonna shoot you in the head and be done with it."

You blink. You're currently staring down the barrel of Dane's rifle. "Cool it," you say, quickly standing and pushing his gun off to one side. "My hearing's still a little shot, that's all."

>"Just your hearing, huh?" Dane looks like he's holding on by a thread. His eyes keep darting back to MUDA. "We are entirely in the shit right now, BAN. I know we're all fucked up in a lot of ways, and if you want me to shrink your head or something I'd be happy to do it later. But jesus christ, if you break right now then we're all gonna end up like that--!"

"I said I'm fine, goddammit!!" You must have given him a dangerous look, because Dane immediately backs off. You try to calm yourself some before you speak again. "You said the company's made it?"

>"Big Man called a meeting with the lieutenants ten minutes ago," Dane says, looking down at the ground. "I told him you were praying for MUDA and that you'd be right out."

You mask your concern for the sudden passage of time and walk into the lobby. "Let's not keep them waiting any longer, then."
>>
No. 1006767 ID: e30795
File 162766938341.jpg - (383.17KB , 1000x966 , cop220.jpg )
1006767

You feel more like yourself when you exit the police department. It's a lot easier to ignore your subconscious with the constant noise of battle in the distance.

The rest of the 13th Company has arrived. It looks like they've made short work of any opposition in this area on their way to your position--your flanking attempt has succeeded, so far. You're quick to notice the captured tank sitting further up the road, at the front of the company's vehicle column. Seems like KAVE's guys have already gotten it combat-capable.

>Big Man smiles widely as you approach. "Lieutenant BAN, fine work as always. Your radioman told me that you only took one casualty while pushing this far."

"Thank you, sir." You bite your metaphorical tongue as your stomach turns. He's right, only one casualty is a resounding success...

The other lieutenants shoot you blank looks from behind the captain's back. IFRIM, OTTO, RIN, CORVO... Despite First Platoon always taking point, their men have suffered the bulk of the company's casualties, and they've really started to resent you for it.

>"Here's the situation." Big Man gestures toward the map that the other officers are crowded around. "The operation's going well on our end, but the main force is hurting. Sounds like the Canardi still have a good amount of armor and artillery, and they're throwing all of it at them. Our guys are facing at least two extremely dug-in defense lines. The air force is about ready to give up on their current sortie, and when they do, everyone on the front line will be in a bad way..."

>The captain looks into each officer's eyes in turn. "We're at a crossroads, gentlemen, and I want your advice. We've been on the horn with Lieutenant Durst from 11th Company--Captain FINN's dead, and he's taken charge of the outfit. He suggests that we forego reinforcing the front line entirely, and blitz the cathedral with everything we've got."

>"If Durst suggested that, then we shouldn't do it," RIN speaks up. IFRIM nods in agreement. "That guy's just hounding for another medal, and he'll get half of us killed to get what he wants. If we don't follow our original orders, there might not be a main force to return to after we take that church!"

>OTTO shakes his head. "Bullshit, that's not the kind of guy that Durst is. He's got a head on his shoulders that rivals our golden boy, over there." The lieutenant gives you another unreadable look. "If Joe wants us to do this, it's because he believes in the main force's chances, and in ours."

>"Captain, OTTO and I both suggest listening to Joe," CORVO says.

>Big Man nods sagely. "Two for and two against, then." He turns back to you. "Lieutenant BAN, where do you stand on this?"
>>
No. 1006772 ID: df76b1

They know we want that cathedral, and we are going to get torn apart getting there. That's fine, it's... what we signed on for.

But if we don't reinforce, and they hit us, we could lose this whole push. With all due respect, I'd rather get shot from the front.
>>
No. 1006779 ID: 7eb947

Saturday morning cartoons have taught me the trouble always starts when the gang splits up. We reinforce the line and push as one from there.
>>
No. 1006782 ID: 094652

You're hurt, but you have to move on.
How many people have you slaughtered? How many times have you forced others to watch their friends die?
Except this is your @#$%ing job. You are not in control. You don't get to decide which country to attack, you don't get to decide if this war ends now, you don't even get to decide if you want to be a part of this war. Your responsibility is to ensure that your team lives. You are not expected to single-handedly win this war, they wouldn't send wave after wave of soldiers if they did.
Just don't commit any war crimes, that's on you because it's what you can control.

And what was that about STEVE?

Yeah, reinforce the front lines. But while we have the flanking advantage, confuse them a little by sending shock troopers to stealth and attack from the rear, while the main force attacks from the sidelines as they regroup with the main force. With any luck, the entrenched lines will be too confused to realize what's going on.
>>
No. 1006789 ID: 3ed3c3

>>1006767
If we split up now, I guarantee it's going to get worse. I'm all for getting stuck in with the best of them, but there comes a time to dig in and play it smart.
Also, we're in the process of possibly securing a tank, so that's nice.
>>
No. 1006862 ID: df76b1

I would point out that reinforcing the line means some splitting up, because those troops have to come from somewhere.
>>
No. 1007332 ID: e30795
File 162826828613.jpg - (226.08KB , 1058x900 , cop221.jpg )
1007332

You squint at the map. The company could do it on their own, you muse. The enemy would see it coming, though, and you'd get torn apart in the process... You glance back toward the entrance of the police department. That would be fine though, wouldn't it? It's what you signed up for...

You shake your head. No, there's no way that you could throw away your team's lives like that. Besides, you've seen enough mystery cartoons to know what happens when the gang splits up... You finally address the captain. "It'll only get worse if we split off now, I guarantee it. Even if we managed to take the cathedral, leaving the front lines unsupported could make this entire push fall apart at the seams."

>"So you also vote to stick to the original mission?" Big Man asks.

"Yes, sir. With all due respect, I'd much rather get shot at from the front."

OTTO and CORVO shoot you dark looks as the captain nods in agreement. RIN and IFRIM look as appreciative as two hardasses like them can be.

>"It's decided, then." The captain kneels to get a closer look at the map, and the rest of you do the same. "We'll dedicate all of our forces to break the stalemate on the front line. BAN, your strategies have gotten us this far--any ideas?"

You point to a couple key areas on the map. "We have an overwhelming advantage, being this far up their flank. Some of us could strike from behind while the rest attack from this side and connect with the other companies."

>"And who would get stuck with attacking the rear?" OTTO interjects. "Third Platoon is out of the question. We lost a quarter of our men when we pulled that stunt back in Serenes, and that was maybe half the scale of this fight."

>"If we're going that route, then it would have to be the Special Platoon," CORVO says reluctantly. "We're the only ones with the equipment to silence their tanks and artillery."

>"Second Platoon can't do much against armor, but we would act as anti-infantry support," IFRIM offers. "We still have our radioman, too--if we get good coordinates, we can send our planes in to do some damage."

>"Fourth Platoon's working with similar weapons and personnel," RIN says. "If someone else can handle the armor, we could hold our own back there."

"There's also that tank that we captured on our way here," you say. "If my platoon has that, we could do the job."

>OTTO looks annoyed. "Hang on, you can't all volunteer for this! That would leave only Third Platoon and Headquarters to attack the flank and aid the other companies. We should only send one platoon toward their rear, two at most."

>"That's a good point," Big Man says. He strokes his chin for a moment before looking to you again. "How would you divide us up, lieutenant?"
>>
No. 1007338 ID: a2493c

>>1007332
Tanks for Flanks, with a second squad running interference on any would-be tankbusters. Get the scouts on that.
Rest of us cluster up into "whatever a proper defense formation is, I don't know military shit someone bail me out oh god" formation
>>
No. 1007355 ID: df76b1

First platoon and our tank will assist special platoon. We're expecting a rough welcome, so we'll take all the spare tubes and ammo we can.

The mobile unit will most of the big guns, so anyone that's left will have to dig in and hold ground. Try to signal us before calling any deep airstrikes.
HQ, there's no way we can risk you with the flanking unit. Hold here, and keep everyone shipshape.
>>
No. 1007593 ID: e30795
File 162861968128.jpg - (218.40KB , 1058x900 , cop222.jpg )
1007593

You study the map for a moment longer before nodding decisively. "First Platoon should assist Special Platoon. I'll have THOMPSON's squad run interference on anyone who gets too close to our tank. We'll take all of the spare tubes and ammo we can--we can expect a rough welcome."

>"And the rest of us will be the flanking group?"

"Right. Form a column and hit their flank as quickly as possible. Once you've made some ground, dig in until we disrupt their lines, and keep us posted if you call in any deep airstrikes."

>"Brilliant." Big Man looks around at the other lieutenants. "If there are no objections, we'll move out immediately."

"Just one more thing, sir," you add as the officers begin to stand. "There's no way we can risk our headquarters with the flanking unit. If you'd hold here--"

>Your captain silences you with a wave of his hand. "I appreciate the sentiment, BAN, but we're going too. I trust this strategy's chances for success, but only if we're committed to it down to the last man." He cracks a smile as he starts gathering up the map and his gear. "I know it's been a while since I've had to lead from the front, but don't forget how I earned command of this company in the first place. I'm a 'motherfucker,' too..."
>>
No. 1007595 ID: e30795
File 162862041302.jpg - (615.21KB , 1522x900 , cop223.jpg )
1007595

Preparations are complete within minutes. With ZAN and YUDI's help, ORI manages to switch the tank's communications frequency to one of his preferred channels--you can now command it through his radio. Everyone's replenished their ammunition and picked up an extra frag grenade. Your squad and THOMPSON's both carry two single-shot rocket launchers now, as well. The men of KAVE's squad who aren't manning the tank can now act as a makeshift mortar crew. Special Platoon is already armed to the teeth--Between their two rifle squads and their EOD squad, they have everything from mines to anti-tank rifles to heavy explosives.

Once you're done pulling out gear, you entrust your prisoner and MUDA's body to the company's supply trucks. After some quick goodbyes, Big Man starts leading the flanking unit southward. Soon, the only soldiers left near the police department are yours and CORVO's.

>"This isn't going to end well," CORVO mutters as he watches your tank crew work. "If Joe didn't want us to do this, he had a damned good reason for it."

"Ask about it when we see him," you reply. You take one last look at the police department and steel your nerves. "Let's get started."

Your platoons fall into a large column. With your squad at the head, you begin pushing west as quickly as your additional gear will allow.

Your team faces no resistance, a fact that becomes more and more uncanny as you get deeper behind the enemy's lines. Did they really commit everything they had to these defense lines, you wonder? And what about the civilians? Did they really manage to evacuate everyone already? And if they didn't, then where did they go...?

The ground shakes under your boots again. The rumble of artillery pieces is getting more and more intense as you go...

>A runner from one of CORVO's squads reaches you. "Word from LT," he reports. "'Just a little further, and we can start cutting south!'" He heads back toward his spot in the column.

>"We're real close, now," VARGA remarks. He scowls as he adjusts the rocket launcher slung over his shoulder. "Jesus, those things are loud."

>"Seven... Eight...." Sergeant Dane doublechecks his finger math as the Canardi fire another volley. "LT, there's nine of those big pieces. A full battery... There must be a hundred men or more stationed with those things!"

Smaller explosions catch your ear, as well. There's probably an entire tank battalion scattered across their defense line. If you were all humans, the situation would be daunting. For a force of almost fifty demons, though...? You feel a familiar thrill as you contemplate your odds.
>>
No. 1007596 ID: e30795
File 162862094515.jpg - (497.13KB , 1124x900 , cop224.jpg )
1007596

>"Hey, LT...?" CONN pipes up nervously. Your subordinates all turn to look when he speaks. With MUDA gone, he's been moved over to your squad indefinitely... "Those guys who were watching us came from this way, right? We passed by the street they were on a few minutes ago."

>"Yeah," Dane answers for you. "THOMPSON said that they turned tail after Big Man's group started moving out."

>"Right..." The private looks back the way you came. "I don't see a trace of them now, though--!!!"

A loud crack echoes between the nearby buildings. CONN's head snaps backward, and his helmet is sent flying. He turns and stares in shock as it lands a short distance away, now sporting a massive hole on both sides.

Your eyes widen as eight lenses catch the sunlight from the rooftops up ahead...!
>>
No. 1007597 ID: 2d57a3

Sharp eyes, to have caught all those lenses glinting!

Everybody take over in the nearest building! We'll have to move through the narrower streets or the insides of the buildings!
>>
No. 1007632 ID: 3ed3c3

>>1007596
GET TO COVER, DAMN IT!
>>
No. 1007634 ID: df76b1

Looks a solid use of a Tank round or two.

but those of you not made of armor should probably get somewhere safe.
>>
No. 1008311 ID: d1f472

Into that alley, on the right!
>>
No. 1008338 ID: e30795
File 162940534110.jpg - (406.69KB , 1200x643 , cop225.jpg )
1008338

"Get to cover, dammit!!" you yell. Your squad breaks for the nearest building to your left, dragging a stunned CONN close behind. You signal for THOMPSON's squad to take the alley to your right. You make it to cover in one piece, narrowly avoiding several follow-up shots. The rest of the column is reacting as well, hiding wherever they can. Your tank starts advancing from the middle of the formation.

>"Fuckers," Dane grunts. He checks CONN's bloodied head and grimaces. "A little lower and that would've been clean through your skull, kid. You're gonna have one hell of a bald spot..."

>THOMPSON's squad has safely taken refuge across the street from you. The sergeant waves at you urgently. "We can't get caught up here, LT! What's the move?!"

You turn to ORI. "Get the tank to send a round or two."

>"Got it, boss!" Your radioman shouts the orders into his transmitter.

You watch as the tank continues to move up the street. The Canardi take several shots as it approaches. Most miss, but one glances the armor plating just above its left treads...

>Dane notices the size of the mark left by the round as quickly as you do. "Tell those guys to be careful," he tells ORI. "Those aren't just snipers, they're using anti-tank rifles!!"

>"They're sending one!" ORI announces, ducking his head.

The captured tank fires. One of the occupied rooftops explodes in a cloud of shrapnel and smoke. Four rifle rounds ricochet off of the tank's front armor in response. After a brief correction to the turret, a second shot blasts away the other roof.
>>
No. 1008352 ID: e30795
File 162941165954.jpg - (362.87KB , 1100x719 , cop226.jpg )
1008352

Your forces cheer, but nobody dares to move from their cover yet. Everyone waits as the tank's attack goes unanswered for another few moments. Your squadmates look at you expectantly...

>"I hate this," Dane says under his breath. "That was way too shitty for a Canardi ambush. There's gotta be more of them closing in on this road, right?"

Your sergeant is right. The fact that they were obvious enough for you to catch their lenses is concerning... You check your surroundings carefully. "We'll have to move through the narrower streets, then," you say.

>ORI points toward the tank. "There's no way that this will be able to come with us if we don't stick to this path," he says.

>"Ditch it, then!" Dane carefully peeks out into the street before turning back to the radioman. "We're way too deep in this shit, it's too risky. We can't lose anybody before we even get eyes on those cannons."

>"Leaving a combat-ready tank behind will be a much bigger risk, Sarge." ORI looks at you pleadingly. "We're only a few blocks from the intersection that we wanted to use anyway, right? We could make it that much further."

>"BAN, how does it look?!" CORVO's voice carries all the way to your part of the formation. Looks like you'll have to choose quickly...
>>
No. 1008358 ID: 094652

Screw it
Have the tank reign destruction on the entire block. Either we make a path for the tank, or we give it line-of-sight to continue artillery support!
>>
No. 1008359 ID: 3ed3c3

It's unlikely they knew we were coming with the tank, so we still have that as an advantage.
However, we can't afford to be careless.
We could have a team scout ahead and check the path forward. Depending on what they find, we can come up with a better strategy.
>>
No. 1008363 ID: a2493c

>>1008352
I'm liking option 3: the tank makes us a new path.
>>
No. 1008418 ID: df76b1

The Tank is too valuable for antisniper support to give it up, It's a lot of our firepower besides. We adjust the route as needed.
>>
No. 1009005 ID: 88966b
File 163025931032.jpg - (315.35KB , 1400x700 , cop227.jpg )
1009005

"We can't afford to be careless, here," you tell your squadmates. "Let's send some guys to scout ahead, first."

>Dane grinds his teeth for a moment before nodding. "Fuck it, I'll do it. C'mon, VARGA!"

The two soldiers dart out into the street and begin moving forward, using all of the cover they can find. Soon, they're over a small incline and out of sight. Several minutes later, they come bolting back toward your position.

>"We got up to that intersection," the sergeant reports as he catches his breath. "We didn't see anybody, but there were more buildings like those two they just attacked from."

>"The university's pretty close to where we're trying to flank from," VARGA says. "They might have been sentries for whoever's holed up in there. The front line might still not know what we're doing."

>Dane frowns. "That's pretty optimistic, considering we just blew the roofs off of two buildings. It's possible, though..."

Your brain's firing on all cylinders, now. Whoever does or doesn't know that you're back here is irrelevant--they definitely didn't know that you were coming with the tank, so you still have that advantage. And seeing as now it may be your only trump card...

"The tank's going to be too valuable for us to give it up," you decide. ORI breathes a sigh of relief at that statement. "We'll adjust the route as needed."

>"Adjust it how?! Trust me, that thing's not gonna fit in one of these side roads unless you start going through--!" Dane stops mid-sentence as he figures out your new plan. "You're kidding me."

"What do the buildings look like up ahead?" you ask.

>Dane stares at you incredulously. You know that there's a vein popping out under that helmet... "They're shops and townhouses, LT! We're not talking corporate buildings, here!"

"Even better," you say coldly. The tank should be able to get through those kinds of obstacles without needing too many rounds. You turn to ORI. "Tell the tank to move up a bit further and level the block to our left. They'll either clear a path to get through, or at least be able to keep giving us fire support."

>"Gladly!" ORI keys his transmitter again and starts relaying the orders.

>"Christ." the sergeant sighs resignedly. He fidgets with his helmet and looks up the road. "If they didn't already catch wind of us, they'll definitely notice that. We'll have to be fast, LT."

You nod. "We'll strike ahead of the tank. By the time that it catches up, it should be in position to do some real damage."

>"Alright, then." Dane motions for JOAN to start giving this information to the other squads. The sergeant stares at you intently. "This is it, BAN..."
>>
No. 1009006 ID: 88966b
File 163025975120.jpg - (512.39KB , 1472x950 , cop228.jpg )
1009006

Your revised orders get passed on as your forces regroup. Both platoons will strike within a relatively small area of the second defense line, then spread outward. Killing the artillery will be priority number one. Your tank will start demolition as soon as you pass the first few buildings along your new path.

There isn't any additional retaliation as you start your approach. Avoiding the main street takes you through some kind of large marketplace. Eventually the streets open up again into what seems to be general housing. You think that you occasionally catch movement in some windows, but there's no time to clear all of these smaller buildings. You're almost on top of them, now... Your men start involuntarily ducking at some of the closer-sounding blasts.

Your men stop and when you reach the last few blocks of housing. You've reached the front lines.

A few of you scale a nearby townhouse to get a better view of what's ahead. Past this point is a vast, empty space. All of the smoke has turned the sun a deep shade of red. You forgot how high up this section of the city sat--this feels more like a mountain than a hill. You're uncomfortably close to the action as Canardi and UCS jets engage each other overhead. Dane swallows hard as one of your planes smashes into a building several blocks away from you.

A large road along the hill's side has been occupied by nine enormous howitzers. Canardi soldiers are dug in all around, and it looks like they've erected a line of sentry towers as well. A makeshift field headquarters stands a short distance behind the entrenchments. Beyond this hill, the city has been reduced to almost nothing. You can see glimpses of the Canardi infantry's entrenchments down there, and from where the artillery shells are falling, you think you know where the rest of the Advance Team has dug in. It looks like some of the artillery are firing on a section of their first defense line--the captain must have already started to make his move.

>"Jesus," Dane mutters from his perch next to you. "Look at them all..."

>CORVO runs up to your position. "No heads have turned yet, even with that going on." He points back the way you came as another distant explosion goes off. The tank is making steady progress toward the front, but they're still a ways behind you. "How should we cut them up?"
>>
No. 1009012 ID: df76b1

Two teams.

One to the side, one to the rear. Opening strike is 2 LAWs on the tower, followed by the side team. They're on a hill, so they'll flee back not down, into the rest of our LMGs. Let's try to get elevation for both units.
>>
No. 1009014 ID: 3ed3c3

>>1009006
I'd say bringing down that tower would be a good place to start.
You can tell just from looking they weren't expecting an attack like this. There's so little cover down there that's it's practically a shooting gallery.
When the attack comes, there's going to be panic and confusion. That should give us a window to shave down their numbers before they can get it together.
>>
No. 1009078 ID: a2493c

>>1009006
Start with the tower, and light one of those covered munitions tents. Get a nice bonfire going.
>>
No. 1009148 ID: fb071e

High value targets are the tower and ammo/supply crates. I see minimal cover and no protected escape routes. If you can mark the commanding officers, terminate them if possible.
>>
No. 1009178 ID: 88966b
File 163046264569.jpg - (569.00KB , 1491x800 , cop229.jpg )
1009178

You quickly lay out your plans. CORVO's platoon pulls back and starts moving a number of blocks to your left. They'll go down and attack from the side while your men catch anyone attempting to pull back. You feel very, very good about this setup--the Canardi definitely haven't prepared for something like this, you can tell just by looking at them.

Your platoon fans out along the nearby houses. THOMPSON's squad is spread out to your left, while you and KAVE's squads try to cover as much ground to the right as you can. At your signal, you'll all move forward and turn this part of the enemy's line into a shooting gallery.

>"I'm gonna kill fifty of those fuckers," Dane murmurs. You can see that he's trying to work himself up more before the fighting starts. "And I'll stick ten more up close, as payback..."

>"You'd better," JOAN says from his hiding place a few townhouses over. "Each of us'll have to plug that many if we want to get out of this on top. Our positioning's great, but the odds are still fucked!"

You stand, hefting the launcher that CONN had been carrying. "Let's fix that," you say, advancing slowly.

The rest of your men follow suit. Your battle line creeps past the edge of the houses, onto grass and pavement, right up onto the crest of the hill. Jesus christ, that is a lot of soldiers... Being this far out reveals even more to the enemy headquarters, and a number of reserve squads running ammunition and gear to the artillery. Much to your dismay, you catch sight of a few policemen scattered throughout the reserve ranks as well.

An ammo loader glances up from his duties near one of the headquarters's tents, and locks eyes with you. You watch as he processes what he's seeing, widens his eyes and opens his mouth to scream.

You score a direct hit on their ammunition stores.
>>
No. 1009179 ID: 88966b
File 163046319530.jpg - (862.91KB , 2125x900 , cop230.jpg )
1009179

The blast is huge, much larger than you'd expected. You and your men hit the dirt as a number of smaller explosions follow it. The strike cuts a giant swath in the back row of soldiers, and their field headquarters is decimated in an instant. Small fires spring up, fueled by Canardi fortifications and bodies. The enemy's thrown into disarray, with men diving for cover anywhere they can. Twelve back-line soldiers who missed the explosion turn and try clambering further up the hill, but THOMPSON's machine gun mows them down quickly.

VARGA's launcher reduces the closest sentry tower to a pile of splinters and limbs. Gunfire's opened up already--or is that the ammo stores, still? You don't have time to know for sure. You rise into a kneeling position and start laying into the enemy below you with everything you've got.

Your platoon keeps the Canardi trapped in the depths of hell for what feels like an eternity. KAVE and his subordinates manage to get their mortar set up and dial in on the enemy's positions with great accuracy. Dane, JOAN and VARGA get several grenade throws in, doing a number on several of the nearest howitzer crews. Your squad picks their targets well--anyone who looks like they're rallying troops gets dropped, and the Canardi are left without potential leaders for several grueling minutes. It's a genuine surprise to you when return fire finally comes your way. Any smugness at the success of the attack gets dispelled when one of THOMPSON's men starts calling for a medic, though...

They've finally figured out where the attack is coming from. The surviving Canardi soldiers vault over their fortifications and try to reverse their lines to face you. At this steep angle of attack, though, it's no use--they're still completely exposed. Men from further up the defense line sprint to reinforce them, and the battle starts getting rougher. You notice that no new soldiers are coming in from the left of your position--CORVO's platoon must be pulling their weight, on the side.

>"LT!" ORI scrambles for you and Dane's position, pistol in one hand and transmitter in the other. An unlucky Canardi shot pings harmlessly off of his radio backpack. "ZAN and YUDI are through the marketplace, they should be here s--!!"

ORI lets out a cry and falls face-first into the grass a few yards away from you. He tries to keep moving, but flinches and starts clutching at his side. Red is already seeping through his fingers...!

Dane tries to move toward the fallen soldier, but small arms fire peppers the ground around you. The two of you stay prone as more wild fire lands near your position.

>"Fuck!! Fucking christ!!" Dane's getting ready to try to make a break for ORI again. He's about to spring to his feet when something catches his eye. "Oh, shit...!! BAN!!!"

The sergeant urgently points to your right. Further down the enemy line, a large group of soldiers have crowded around the ninth howitzer. Slowly but surely, they're trying to rotate it toward your position...!!
>>
No. 1009193 ID: 3ed3c3

>>1009179
I was afraid they'd try to pull that, but I was hoping they'd be unwilling to turn their attention from the front, let alone fire into their own territory with one of those monsters.
Do we have any launcher ammo left? We need to take out the crew on that thing before they can spin it around.
>>
No. 1009200 ID: df76b1

Several minutes later? Where the fuck is our tank?
We have time for maybe one launcher shot before we need to fall back and scatter.

Ideally, CONVO will advance, but we don't have enough time to give him that order.
>>
No. 1009538 ID: e30795
File 163088172626.jpg - (368.46KB , 1402x850 , cop231.jpg )
1009538

Shit, you'd hoped they wouldn't resort to this...! Every second feels like an hour as the howitzer continues to slowly turn away from the front. "We need another launcher," you yell over the noise.

>"We don't fucking have another one! Dammit!!" Dane ducks his head angrily as another rescue attempt is cut short by incoming fire. "We'd need one of THOMPSON's!!"

Where the fuck is your tank?! You squash a creeping feeling of panic as you take stock of the situation again. Ideally, CORVO will be pushing forward by now, but you don't have time to check in with him or give orders. ORI's still writhing in the grass where he's fallen... With your platoon's current spread, the closest usable rocket launcher can't be less than 50 or 60 yards away. Could you retrieve it in time and get a shot off? Or should you preemptively fall back and scatter?

>The sergeant punches you in the chest again. Tears are welling up in his eyes as he unsuccessfully tries to shield both you and ORI with his body. Dirt is being kicked up by stray bullets just a few inches short of your position. "Jesus!! C'mon LT, not now! Fucking tell me what to do!! Fucking say something!!!"

...Wait, what?

Your eyes widen in shock. You involuntarily try to stand, but Dane drags you back down quickly.

In an instant, the howitzer's rotated many more degrees. It's almost halfway dialed in on your position, already. KAVE's mortar team has started firing at the artillerymen, but they haven't scored a substantial hit yet. Somewhere behind you, the rumble of your tank is getting closer and closer. When the hell did they...?

>"You shithead!!" Dane socks you in the gut. Even with your armor, the hit takes your breath for a moment. He scrubs at his eyes with a dirty arm and turns his full attention to shielding ORI. "You're awake again, huh?! I got ORI, now what the fuck do we do?!!"
>>
No. 1009539 ID: 3ed3c3

>>1009538
Fall back and scatter. Get to cover while the tank rolls up, then provide suppression fire while they deal with the artillery pieces.
>>
No. 1009665 ID: df76b1

I don't have any major refinements. Let's try to get ORI out where his wounds his wounds can be assessed.
>>
No. 1010321 ID: e30795
File 163145669254.jpg - (416.15KB , 1104x950 , cop232.jpg )
1010321

You don't have time to dwell on how confused you are. Ignoring the oncoming fire, you shoulder ORI and get moving. "We're falling back," you roar. "Pull back and scatter!!" You're relieved to hear the order getting repeated down both sides of your line. You dash back toward the edge of the suburb with Dane close behind.

You pass through the first row of houses and stop for a moment. Off to either side, you can hear your men shouting, trying to make sure that everyone retreated. You catch sight of VARGA in a nearby lawn, and wave him over to you.

>"You guys alright?" VARGA asks as he approaches. He winces when he sees ORI laid out next to you. "Is he...?"

>"No," ORI groans, shooting a glare at his squadmate. "He isn't..."

You check on the radioman's injuries as best as you can. It looks like the bullet entered right at the bottom of his vest. No exit wound that you can easily see. He's still bleeding, and you don't know what kinds of internal damage there may be, but for now he seems to be keeping it together. "You'll make it," you say, "but we'll need to get DIN working on this soon."

>VARGA looks relieved, but his face quickly darkens again. "I ran into THOMPSON on the way back," he reports. "ERD is dead, so is VILLIS. He says the rest of his men are alright."

>"That cannon's gonna be on us any minute now," Dane says urgently. "What's next?"

A few streets over, the tank rolls past you and continues toward the front. You grab the transmitter off of ORI's backpack. "ZAN, YUDI, are you getting this?"

>The transmitter's speaker is a little busted up, but you can make out a response. "LT! Hang on, we're coming in hot!"

"Engage the artillery immediately, start with that one on the right end! We'll cover you!"

>"We've got it!"
>>
No. 1010322 ID: e30795
File 163145700357.jpg - (520.78KB , 1643x800 , cop233.jpg )
1010322

Your orders are relayed along the line quickly. VARGA hangs back to stabilize ORI while the platoon charges back onto the crest of the hill. Your tank maneuvers onto the road a few yards from you and takes aim.

The Canardi still haven't managed to rally. When you and your men begin firing again, half of them seem to be facing off to the left--they must have been trying to prepare a defense against CORVO's platoon. There's a new desperation to the enemy's shooting that concerns you--cornered animals fight the hardest.

>"Fuck...!! Hurry up, you fuckers!! Hurry!!!" Dane's screaming at the tank as he fires into a collection of soldiers below you. "Do it!!!"

You're staring down the barrel of the ninth howitzer, now. You watch as one of their artillerymen points toward you. Another soldier grips the gun's lanyard and moves to pull it...!

An HE shell erases the crew surrounding the howitzer. Moments later, a second shot sends the artillery piece careening downhill.

Whatever cohesion the defending Canardi had left falls apart. Men are scrambling in all directions, now. Some are still trying to return fire, others are feebly attempting to gather around another howitzer, many more are just trying to escape in any direction. Anyone stupid enough to run uphill is cut down, and anyone who strays too far to the left of your position gets picked off by CORVO's men. Eventually the surviving Canardi rout completely, jumping the road barrier and fleeing down toward the ruins. There's a feeling of grim satisfaction as you watch many of the enemy lose their footing, tumbling uncontrollably down the hill's steep slope.

Your men smell blood in the water. Without waiting for your call, most of your platoon charges down onto the abandoned defense line. A few go even further downhill as they try to pick off more retreating soldiers.

>"LT!!" Sergeant THOMPSON's approaching you with a hungry look in his eyes. "Their whole line's broken, they're bailing toward the front! Should we run 'em down?!"
>>
No. 1010332 ID: cd79f5

>>1010322
Nope. Fortify this position. Most of us are tired and we have wounded. I'll tell command and wait for orders and reinforcement
>>
No. 1010333 ID: 3ed3c3

>>1010322
Tempting, but no. The objective is secure, and the enemy is routed. We should mop up the remaining ordnance, then prepare to pull out.
>>
No. 1010335 ID: a2493c

>>1010322
Get back in FUCKING FORMATION, soldiers.
>>
No. 1010336 ID: df76b1

It's entirely possible that when they hit the main line, they'll send a detachment to retake these heights.

That's unlikely to happen, but we also have to make sure it doesn't.
>>
No. 1011024 ID: e30795
File 163207943648.jpg - (525.99KB , 1036x850 , cop234.jpg )
1011024

"Get those motherfuckers back in formation," you bark, pointing at the soldiers who are standing beyond the road barrier. "We're fortifying this position."

>THOMPSON looks disappointed, but he nods and starts down the hill. "Yes, sir!!"

Your platoon falls back in quickly and starts claiming the abandoned fortifications as their own. Debris from the explosions gets moved out of the way, and hastily-repositioned sandbags are moved to face the front again. Frustrated by the sudden end to the fighting, some of your soldiers vent by slinging Canardi bodies downhill. They have a lot of ammunition to work with...

CORVO's platoon has reconnected with you, joining in on occupying the defenses and tossing corpses. A couple men from each squad climb the remaining sentry towers, as well. The medics get to work on each group's wounded, starting with ORI.

>CORVO walks up to you, followed by his radioman. He doesn't look happy. "These fucking meatbags killed four of my guys, BAN." The lieutenant watches as one of his men heaves another Canardi body into the air. "Those guys were worth a hundred of these small fry, each."

"We lost two as well," you say grimly.

>The radioman raises a hand. "Lieutenants, I've gotten through to Big Man on the command frequency."

>CORVO takes the transmitter, then hands it to you. "This was your plan," he says. "You do the honors..."

You nod and key the radio. It takes you a second to remember your platoon's callsign. "Big Man, this is Genius," you report. "The objective is secure, and the enemy's routed. Six of ours dead, several more wounded."

>"Great work!!" the captain yells. The sounds of the combat going on down there are bleeding through the speakers. "All companies, hear this: their artillery is neutralized, and we've secured a position within their first line of defense! Prepare to advance!!"

>"What?!! Big Man, I told you to--!!" A familiar voice has cut in. Lieutenant Durst sounds pissed. "This is Boss! Genius, how many men did you kill?!"

You look at CORVO. He starts looking up and down the road, trying to estimate how many men you were up against. "Boss, why do you--"

>"How many?!!!"

CORVO gives you a number with his hands. "No less than 80 men," you relay, "probably many more."

>"And you said six of you, on top of that?! Big Man, what about you?!" A large explosion cuts the audio for a moment. "Stop playing games over here and rush the cathedral, immediately!"

Something in his voice is triggering your stubborn streak. This is just another lieutenant shouting orders at you, not your captain. "They may send a detachment to retake this position," you reply tersely. "We can't let that happen. We'll remain here until we receive proper orders."

>"Proper--?!! You get your asses moving right now, or else--"

>"Boss, remember who is in charge of this operation," another voice interrupts harshly. It sounds like Captain WOLFE, of 10th Company. "Stop cluttering up this channel. All companies, we'll attack on my signal. Genius, await further instruction. Excellent work, Big Man."

The line is taken over by platoon leaders reporting their positions as the other companies start to rally. You hand the transmitter back to the radioman. "Sounds like we'll be here for a minute."

>"Yeah." CORVO looks down at the front line uneasily. "This had better have been the right move, BAN. My gut doesn't feel right..."

The two of you stare at the battlefield a moment longer. "Get some rest," you finally say, walking back toward your men.
>>
No. 1011025 ID: e30795
File 163208053512.jpg - (344.11KB , 1017x850 , cop235.jpg )
1011025

Checking over your platoon is a sobering experience. Morale is still high, but you can tell that your losses are starting to weigh on everyone. There's only five men in THOMPSON's squad now, including him. KAVE's hasn't had any casualties in this battle yet, but with ZAN and YUDI manning the tank his squad still numbers only four. It hurts to remember a time when each squad leader was heading a full team of eight...

You turn your attention to your own squad. Both ORI and CONN are still with the medics, getting worked on. There are really only five of you left in fighting shape... JOAN and VARGA have climbed one of the sentry towers to watch the battlefield. WEISS is taking a nap, wrapped up in the recently-captured Canardi colors. Dane's leaning on the road barrier next to one of the abandoned howitzers.

>The sergeant fiddles with the edge of his helmet when he sees you approaching. "What's the word, LT?" he asks.

"Waiting for orders," you reply, leaning against the howitzer. "Be ready to pull out, but we're staying here for now."

>"Right..." Dane stares out at nothing for a long while. Eventually, he looks over at you again. "So what's going on?"

You blink. "What do you--"

>"If you play dumb with me, I swear to christ...!" Dane turns to face you full-on. "This shit's happened three times, now. This time, we almost got iced because of it. I really thought we were gonna die right there, BAN! What a way that'd be to go out too, just sitting on your ass, looking like you're off on fucking Mars...!!"

>The sergeant takes a second to calm down. He pulls the brim of his helmet lower over his eyes and searches for words. "Listen... I don't give a shit if you keep whatever this is a secret from everyone else. But I'm your buddy, and I can't keep both of us alive if I don't know what the fuck is happening. So what is it, BAN? Are you hurt? Did you hit your head, somewhere?" The sergeant hesitates. "Is it PTSD...?"
>>
No. 1011032 ID: df76b1

I don't know. It comes and goes. But It's like I'm somewhere else.

And If I saw someone I could be reassigned, and that could have got us all killed today, or tomorrow.
>>
No. 1011048 ID: 094652

You just... keep thinking you're someone else. Somewhere else. You may need to get a neurosurgeon when this war is finally over.
>>
No. 1011097 ID: 3ed3c3

>>1011025
Honestly? Undiagnosed. Could be anything.
>>
No. 1011151 ID: cd79f5

The police station rang my bells harder than usual. Might be a concussion.
>>
No. 1011680 ID: 88966b
File 163270361409.jpg - (459.03KB , 1991x650 , cop236.jpg )
1011680

You swallow hard. If only you knew, for sure. You haven't felt entirely on your game since that fight in the police station...

>"That's the look, again! Right there!" Dane points at your face, distressed. "Talk to me man, what is that?"

You prop yourself up on the barrier beside the sergeant. "I don't know," you say honestly.

>Dane studies your face. "Like hell, you don't know. What does it feel like?"

The longer you discuss this, the more pressure seems to be building up in your head... You try your best to force the words out. "I just... It's like I'm someone else, or somewhere different. It comes and goes..." You watch a few of your soldiers as they pick out places to rest. "Maybe it's a concussion. Undiagnosed, it could be anything. But if I saw someone about it, I could've been reassigned, and that could've gotten us all killed today."

>"Fuck." The sergeant tugs at his helmet again. There's no way he can see, with it that low... He chooses his words carefully. "Here's the plan, LT. I'll stay on your six, for now. I keep you from zoning out for too long, and you keep trying to get this outfit out of here in one piece. Honestly, I don't like it, but we can't do much else until this fight's over."

Where would you be without your NCOs, you wonder to yourself. Probably long dead, by now. "Thanks, Dane."

>Dane scoffs. "Don't thank me, dickhead. You're gonna owe me big time once we're out of here."

Below you, the battlefield erupts into action. It sounds like every surviving Canardi is firing a weapon at something simultaneously. The Advance Team must be hitting the front line with everything they've got. Tracing the placement of various explosions, you think you can track their progress--they'll be in close quarters with the Canardi before too long.

>Dane shakes his head sadly. "Damn, we can't catch a break. That shit will make its way up here, soon enough." The sergeant sighs turns back toward the road. "None of us are getting out of this in one piece, are we?" he asks the sky.

An absolutely deafening sound splits the air.

Your platoon is back on their feet instantly. You quickly turn toward the front line again, scanning for trouble. What the fuck was that? Too loud to be thunder, and the skies are still clear... More artillery? A bomb?

>"H-hey...!" Dane taps your shoulder. He lifts a shaking hand and points upward. You follow his gaze...
>>
No. 1011681 ID: 88966b
File 163270366350.jpg - (562.11KB , 1536x1200 , cop237.jpg )
1011681

Your blood freezes.
>>
No. 1011682 ID: 88966b
File 163270396228.jpg - (508.65KB , 1420x800 , cop238.jpg )
1011682

A flash of white.

An entire section of CORVO's platoon are blown to bits. Several demons and two of the leftmost howitzers are thrown out into the air like toys. Your head's ringing from the sound of the impact--it doesn't sound like any ordnance you've ever heard. It's all happened in an instant, a real one this time--Dane's horrified face mirrors your own. You--!!!

Your vision disappears for a moment, and you're suddenly being battered by dirt and shrapnel. It feels like someone's smashed you in the head with a brick. The shockwave almost lifts you off of your feet. Dane staggers back, smashes into a nearby howitzer and falls, a large splinter of wood jutting out of his leg. You dive to shield him. Jesus christ, the sentry tower was completely vaporized. VARGA and JOAN are dead, they have to be... Cries for medics are going up all across the line. Someone's calling for you, but you can't tell where it's coming from.

>"You fucking see that?!!" Dane screams from underneath you. He buries his head in his hands. "God, did you fucking see that?!!! You see the halo?!!!!"

"I can't see shit," you yell back as another blast decimates a stretch of road nearby. You duck your head as more shrapnel rains down.

>You can feel the sergeant starting to hyperventilate. "Oh, god...!!! We're fucked, BAN!! We're so fucked!!! Jesus, I never even got baptised...!!!"

Dane starts desperately clawing at the asphalt, trying to wriggle out from under you. Shit, he's snapped...!!
>>
No. 1011683 ID: 3ed3c3

Okay! So!
The Canardi have a what? An angel or something?
It would have been nice to have been briefed about that!
Slap some sense into Dane, gather whatever forces you have left, and find a place to hide. I would suggest running, but I think it might spot anyone making a run for it.
What else can you do? Fight a giant angel monster?
If there are any cannons left, you could try to turn them on it, but I doubt that would do anything other than draw its attention.
>>
No. 1011685 ID: a2493c

>>1011682
oh fuck, this must be what was going on in the church

fuck fuck fuck that is NOT good.
>>
No. 1011693 ID: eceb99

>VARGA and JOAN are dead, they have to be.
We have finally reached the checkpoint.

Get Dane to cover, order everyone else to do the same.
We need to get our bearings! Now!
>>
No. 1011694 ID: df76b1

We take who we can, beat a steady retreat, and call for air support.

We can't do shit. A couple 10k lb bombs might have a shot.
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