The boom of an artillery shell echoed through the trench as the bombardment from the faceless enemy continued. They had been holed up in this position for well over a week now, trying to survive on barely sufficient rations of food and water. Sergeant James Reilly thought back to how he had even gotten involved in this goddamn hell hole. Told by his uppers that this was the next ‘Great Crusade’ to rid the world of terrorism, Reilly was still curious as to how it was worth leaving his home and family to come fight another man’s war.
This ‘Great Crusade’ was the second to sweep through the Middle East and was destined to be worse than the first. Fear and power do not mix well, and the United States of America had both. More horrific terrorist acts had taken place; many iconic buildings of the US had been brought to the ground, the Empire State Building the latest to go. Before long a new war was declared and the American people, dying for an opportunity for revenge, threw their support behind this newly declared Crusade. Men streamed into recruitment offices, eager to protect and serve their now ravaged actions. The cloak and dagger type attacks on the Al Qaeda were over. This was an old type of war reborn-war built of revenge, called without thought and would have unprecedented support from its people. America wanted blood.
At first, Reilly believed in the whole retribution mantra. He wanted to make them pay for his countries suffering and embarrassment. He was quite the patriot. But now, after more than a year away from his family, he was beginning to question the intelligence of his decision. Reilly had seen things, horrific terrible things that he had hoped that he would never have to see. It was not only the deaths of friends and fellow men that haunted him, but the terrifying circumstances under which they happened. Men dying slowly from irreversible wounds, some of them reduced to a bloody pulp within seconds of engaging with the enemy. One time such thoughts would have drained him, leaving him as nothing more than a shell, but this war had hardened him, made him a different man. What would have once brought tears to his eyes, barely even interrupted his chain of thought. He wasn’t fighting for America anymore; he was fighting for his mates that had died and his family.
However, Reilly knew that to voice such thoughts would result at nothing more than certain death. Not only would he die, but the blood thirsty warhounds he called ‘sir’ would track down his family and no doubt finish them as well. This, more than anything, kept Reilly facing in the right direction.
The explosion of another shell interrupted Reilly’s thoughts as the constant state of war continued around him. He heard the call echo down the line. Time to go over. He took a deep breath as he prepared to meet his fate. Reilly checked his gun, making sure everything was clean and ready for action. Huge helicopters flew overhead as the army was preparing for a make or break charge. The next few hours could change the fate of the war. The terrorist stronghold of Datta Khel was no more than two kilometres away, the centre of terrorist operations in the Middle East. But, as a primitive roar filled his ears, it wasn’t revenge that made Reilly throw himself over the top of the trench, but fear of what would happen if he didn’t.
Reilly’s legs pumped underneath him as he dashed across no man’s land, eyes fixated on the enemy’s ramshackle barricade as machine gun and rifle fire screamed through the air next to his hears. He shot the low wall down with a blast from his grenade launcher and with a primeval roar, unsheathed his broadsword and leaped into the maelstrom.
Reilly growled as a bullet nicked his shoulder, going through both muscle and bone as he whipped around, decapitating his unfortunate assailant. He hacked indiscriminately, fighting like an enraged bear with little care for bodily harm. Before too long, Reilly cleared the area of enemies, this part of the trench cleared of terrorists. Reilly ran down the ramp and, with an intake of breath, surveyed the vast array of tunnels that lay before him.
Reilly entered the catacombs as a bone shattering thud crashed down behind him. A psychotic voice slithered through the now dark space-“You thought that was hell, wait to you get a taste of this”, the madman cackled. Sergeant James Reilly steeled himself as he stepped into the suffocating gloom, prepared for the fight of his life.