Vignette:Deliverance Under Fire

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Deliverance Under Fire

Eastern Border of Kodeshia
July 24th, 1955

he heat was oppressive, the humidity clung to your skin and sapped your strength. Corporal Chen was hunkered down behind the remnants of a stone wall, his uniform drenched with sweat. The outpost had been ravaged by the Selengerian artillery, the buildings reduced to rubble and debris.

Chen fired a burst at the advancing Selengerians, the rifle kicking against his shoulder. The rest of Cobra-4 was scattered around the perimeter, their faces full of grim determination.

Private Wu was struggling to reload, his hands trembling with exhaustion. Lin was propped against a shattered tree, trying to clear a jam in his carbine.

Private Specialist Zhao, the machine gunner, let loose a defiant roar as he raked the enemy positions. "Come on, you Selengerian dogs! I'll send you all to hell!"

The jungle was an inferno, flashes of explosions tore up the earth, covering the air with thick smoke obscuring the enemy's movements. Then the rattle of machine gun fire, the incessant buzzing of mosquitoes and cries of the wounded.

Chen grabbed the radio. "Ibis-1, this is Cobra-4. We're being overrun at the EZ. Request immediate evac. Over."

The radio hissed with static. They were cut off, abandoned to their fate.

Wu was muttering under his breath, "They're coming from all sides, Corporal. We're fucked!" Chen snapped at him, "Keep it together, private. We're not done yet."

The radio crackled to life, a glimmer of hope in the chaos. "Ibis-1 is two minutes out. Hold your position, Cobra-4."

But the hope was short-lived. Another wave of enemy soldiers closing in through the trees.

Chen switched to the second channel, his voice urgent. "Hawk-1, this is Cobra-4. Requesting immediate air support at grid Seven-Three-Five. Danger close, I repeat, danger close!"

The squad hunkered down, bracing themselves for the impending onslaught. Then the blessed roar of the Dongfangs piston radials filled the sky, the flyboys were coming to their rescue. They rained down a destructive firestorm upon the enemy, tearing the landscape into a twisted mess of shrapnel and gore.

"How'd you like the taste of freedom!" Zhao shouted, his face lit with a feral grin.

Yet the Selengerians were relentless, climbing over their own dead to get to us, their eyes filled with a fanatical fervour that knew no fear, no mercy.

Private Lin cried out as a bullet found its mark, tearing through his shoulder and sending him to the ground. Wu screamed, tears and snot mixing with the grime on his face.

They were being forced back, the enemy closing in for the kill. Zhao called out, "Last reload!" He slammed home the final box of ammo.

Then the radio crackled to life, the voice of their last hope of survival "Ibis-1 on short final. Pop smoke and prep for evac."

Chen rallied his men, "You heard the order! Fall back to the LZ!"

He tossed a smoke grenade, the green plume a beacon of hope. They retreated, dragging Lin's limp form between them. Chen fired until his rifle ran dry, the bolt locking back on an empty chamber.

The thump of rotors filled the air as a battered Haigao Hg.12 helicopter descended through the haze, its gunners laying down a blistering barrage.

The squad clambered aboard, the metal deck slick with blood and sweat. Chen slumped against the bulkhead as the helicopter surged into the sky, rounds pinging off the thin metal airframe.

As they climbed into the sky, Chen gazed down at the hell they'd left behind, the flames consuming the landscape.

They'd made it out, but it was just a matter of time before they were back in the thick of it, fighting for their homeland.

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