Vignette:Finders Keepers

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Finders Keepers

Camp Bagn, Colony of Sorland
October 4th, 1975

I remember the heat. We were used to the heat; we came from Alva, after all. But the humidity was nothing like what my brothers and I experienced on the banks of the Alva River. We entered this small town called Steinkjer on the 18th–no, 19th of September. I picked up a tourist brochure back in Gullhavn before it all went to shit. Apparently, Steinkjer’s a great spa town. It didn’t look like it when we got there, but I’ll admit the baths were exquisite.”

“We were only a few kilometres from the frontline; you could hear the artillery duels every few minutes. We were tasked with reconnaissance, data collection–you know, raiding, pillaging, plundering. We had one of our pilots, Ahmed, scout ahead with the 381. Quick passes, a barrage of rockets here and there; he always had a grin plastered on his face whenever he came back.”

“So they tell us to pack the anti-tank gun the moment the helicopter’s back, which doesn’t bode well. We all stack up in the armoured cars; all two of them. Honestly? I’m impressed they had paved roads this far into the Cerrado; the ride was great until we had to go offroad, and then we all settled in for the usual pain-in-the-ass slog. The driver tells us to get out quietly; it’s, like, nine in the morning by then, and they’re probably expecting us.”

“We both come up on this ridge and in front of us is a decently large convoy. Good news: it’s been wrecked to shit thanks to that crazy bastard Ahmed. Bad news: he missed a handful of tanks when he swept over the road, and now the whole convoy’s shit their pants and are ready for a fight. They’ve got guys scanning the sky, wondering if Ahmed’s going to stick his crazy ass out for another round of rockets. The tanks I mentioned? They’re off the road, in the fields, scanning for anything remotely human. Most of the tanks, rather.”

“Two of them had their tracks blown out. The trucks didn’t fare much better; there were holes in the canvas, and I could see straight through the truck. I don’t know if Ahmed got lucky or if he’s accurate, but they were out in the open. It was odd, hearing the enemy speak Goetic. I figured they were from Sungkou. So anyways, the officer gave the order to open fire.”

“Whoever had the recoilless rifle on hand, their shot was damn near perfect. That bitch arced through the air like an arrow. It was like slow motion, honestly. I could see it make contact with the turret, center mass. There was a small boom, then suddenly- the turret just went up. Straight up into the sky. It must’ve gone 30, or 40 metres up. I’m not great at judging distances. After we’d all gotten over the initial shock, I started letting the machine gun do its thing. Man, that was beautiful…”

“Honestly? The whole thing’s a blur. I remember them managing to get some trucks turned around; we fucked up there, not hitting the rear. They pulled off a fighting retreat; I think we managed to disable the fourth tank–the one on the other side of the road, the other one that had intact tracks. Someone told me some maniac rushed up to it with a satchel charge. I know we were supposed to bring anti-tank equipment, but a satchel charge of all things?”

“And that’s how we’re in possession of two lightly damaged Sorlander tanks, sir.”

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