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Serikin Border Crossing, Menyali, Condominium of Singaradscha
October 17th, 1981

t used to be a simple waist-height wall that demarcated the border and a simple dirt road that cut straight through it.

The concrete trucks kept coming in, and what remained of the East Ramayan military kept coming through. He grumbled at the thought; the communists were closing in on their capital, and yet they had the gall to set up their last stand on territory they didn’t even wholly control. Shouts of Bergeraklah and Raus occasionally peppered the air; a new, higher wall was being constructed in preparation for a final defence of the city. They were almost complete; workers and soldiers gingerly scaled it, draping barbed wire as they went down the length of the wall. The enemy’s pace had been rapid, even quicker than most had anticipated. He silently lurched for his holster; perhaps he’d finally get to fire his gun.

“Do you speak Goetic?” A soldier clad in khaki-coloured garb towered over him.

“Enough to understand you. What do you need?” Finally, all those years of Goetic class had paid off.

“The rear guard of the East Ramayans should be here in the next five to ten minutes.” He wore a disappointed expression as if he’d expected more resistance from them. “Once they pass through, close the border.”

He made a mental note. “What should I be looking out for?”

“They’ll be in trucks and jeeps. Once they pass, nobody else gets in.” He was stern. “Not even civilians.”

Someone interrupted him before he could get an affirmation out. “They’re here! The Fifth is here!”

As if on cue, he jumped into action; he flew up the ladder of his guard post, the soldier following closely behind. Even without his binoculars, he could see a caravan of headlights stream out of the distant brush. Pushing the door away, he scrounged the room for his binoculars in a frenzy of energy; the soldier stopped him, his pair in hand.

“Thanks.” He could feel the quality of the binoculars; it was miles better than the ones he'd been issued.

The soldier reminded him. “Keep watch.”

Looking through the cloudy lenses, he could still see the scene unfolding quite clearly. The convoy was utterly broken; civilians and soldiers alike sat limply on the trucks, their injured brethren laid flat on the truck beds. Some had even commandeered some horses; the less fortunate substituted their would-be steeds with donkeys. The vehicles themselves were riddled with holes; windows and windshields lay battered and smashed, and wet blood still decorated a handful of the trucks. The sole tank in the convoy fared no better; its roof machine gun was nowhere to be seen on its warped mount, and the engine deck spewed murky smoke into the hazy air.

The soldier behind him sighed. “At least they had armour.”

“At least they’re here at all.”

The soldier scoffed. “Get ready.”

He replied with a quick salute. “Yes, sir.”

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