His face shone the wariness of war. He along with many others belonging to his country were tired from the generational bloodshed that had been forced upon him and his brethren. Over the last twenty years calls had been ringing out from the citizens calling for and end to their leaders’ imperialistic ideals. He may not have wanted to perform this wretched service for his country, but he was duly bound by his citizenship to do it.
“Sir, there’s a call from the general,” the radioman said as he handed to phone to him.
“Captain Shadler here,” he answered as he took the receiver from him.
“General Heiser here. Captain, get your company to coordinate Delta Whiskey Hotel immediately. There is a two-story building being used as a command-and-control center. We have extensive intel that the enemy will be attacking within the next five to six hours from all directions. Get the staff inside into the fortified bunker below the structure. Hold as long as you can two other companies will be there in approximately six hours. Out!” He was loud enough that everyone near me could understand what lie ahead of us.
He didn’t even get a chance to acknowledge the command when the call ended abruptly.
“Stisen, break out the map and find Delta Whiskey Hotel pronto.” We didn’t use actual geographical coordinates like you would find on a regular map for fear that the enemy would know which location we were talking about.”
“Here sir,” he replied after retrieving the map from his top left pocket and pointed to the area. “Approximately nine kilometers from here.”
“Shit, two hours to get there and prepare for a siege three hours later. Tank commander,” he commanded turning to the man on his right. “Get your tanks there as quickly as possible and setup, one on each side of the building. We will follow up as fast as we can. Lieutenants get your men moving double time we need to dig in quickly. Move out!” Within minutes the sound of machinery and footsteps of soldiers where echoing through the forests.
He knew they had a tough fight ahead of them, this wasn’t an enemy from a completely foreign nation but a conglomeration of fighters from all of the countries his had subdued during the last few centuries. This war had been going on now for three years, but they weren’t fighting on a distant land but their own soil for the first time! Their fighting force outnumbered his three to one his only advantage had been a technical one and the knowledge of his own country. His cities and people were feeling the sting of war they had inflected on so many others and they were brutal. Their enemies never stooped to the savagery that had been wreaked upon them but acted more civilized even though his country didn’t deserve it. There was talk in the air about a cease fire, but he was not in the loop, and this was only hearsay to him.
Tired troops caught their breath after the forced march and began to fortify their positions with anything they could find to create a barrier between them and their foes. The captain proceeded inside with several of his men top usher the staff into the protection below the compound.
Stepping the into the command center it was there he laid his eyes on the most beautiful creature he had ever seen which stopped him in his tracks. She was not of his country; her skin was lighter than his and shone with the brilliance of the morning sunlight cresting the horizon. Dressed smartly in her uniform, skirt, light blue blouse buttoned all of the way up, her neck draped by a dark tie. Her hair was pinned up in a tight bun, everything about her manner spoke of elegance.
Their eyes caught each other’s view at the same time and locked creating a world of their own, unflinching they both stood mesmerized by each other’s gaze. To each the world had stopped moving both frozen in time unaware of the happenings about them.
“Captain sir,” a lieutenant that had accompanied announced breaking the hypnotic spell. “We need to get these people safely below sir.”
“Yes, yes,” he replied. “Open the hatchway and let’s get them down there.” He knew that their home forces were dwindling so that recruitment from the other countries had been required but he had never been to many of the ones they had subdued. Completely unaware that women such as the beauty standing before him even existed. “All right all personnel need to exit this floor quickly, enemy forces are approaching, and you will be well protected below.”
He felt the world slip away from the grasp he had just had as he watched her take her steps to safety. She gave him one last glance as she disappeared to the underworld making his heart stop once more as the pang of loneliness hit him. “Okay let’s get back outside and check that we have been secured the perimeter.” He ordered snaping back into his military train of thought.
Back outside he made the rounds making sure their position was well fortified, it was when he returned to the front that the quietness in the air was shattered.
“BOOM, BOOM,” The first salvo from the enemy tanks alerted him and his men to the incoming firefight. A familiar loud whistling sound which only came from an artillery round flying through the air grew louder as it approached it’s intended target. “BAM” A corner of the building behind them disappeared creating a pile of smoking rubble.
“Here they come men! Hold your positions!” Sunds from his tanks and the others rang out along with the sporadic “RATATAT” from automatic weapons. When the battle begins everything stops for an individual it was either hold or advance and time mattered not just survival. Hours could be minutes and minutes could be hours there would be no way to tell until the fighting grinds to a halt.
“Sir, they’ve broken through the rear perimeter!” A platoon sergeant screamed out trying to raise his voice above the roar of war.
“Hold here sergeant! I’ll go check.” He said looking directly into the man’s eyes making sure he understood, then he was off. Scurrying around the side of the building halfway to the seized section he heard the shrill of whistles in the air. “What the hell is that for!” He screamed to himself out loud, it was then he was able to what was transpiring. He couldn’t understand why because they had been getting the upper hand on them, but they were retreating. He finally scrambled around the corner finding most of his men either dead or dying with their barricades torn to shreds. Coming upon a wounded soldier he bent down and put the soldier’s hand on the wound where blood was oozing out of his chest and through his shirt. “Keep pressure on here man and you will make it. Did any of them make it into the house?” He frantically asked concerned for the staff still waiting below.
“I don’t think so sir,” he slurred. “But I’m not sure I kind of blacked out.”
“That’s okay man a medic will be here shortly and tend to you.” He was then joined by two other officers who had managed to make their way back also.
“What happened sir? We were losing and they fell back!” One spoke.
“It doesn’t make any sense?” The other piped in. Unfortunately, he would never find out that a truce had been called and that was the reason for their retreat.
“I don’t know why men, but we can only be thankful for it. My immediate concern is for the staff inside we don’t know if any of the enemy soldier made it in. We need to check it out, follow me.” He set his rifle aside and pulled out his handgun it would be much more useful in close quarters, bravely he entered the house.
Fire had made its way through the house from the first direct hit, but it had only left scorched walls putting itself out. Smoke and dust filled the air as they went room by room slowly securing each. Halfway through the inspection he and his comrades stepped through a charred doorway. There sitting in a white wedding dress on a burnt chair was the beautiful woman he had laid his eyes upon earlier.
“Shit! It had to be you!” She screamed at him with her lips, but her eyes were filled with a deep sorrow. “I have a bomb under this chair and when I stand up it will destroy this entire build with everyone in it!”
“But why?” He queried with a sadness showing on his face and in his eyes.
“Because my country is tired of being controlled and beaten by yours! My children need to grow up free from your tyranny!” Tears were beginning to run down her smoot-soaked face created streaks of clarity to her soft skin below.
“Please believe me,” he began to plead. “We are not like our forefathers, many of us also wish to end the enslavement of people like yours these wars has cost us dearly like they have cost your people. My generation understands the pain we have brought. Please believe me!”
“Why should I believe you now? We have heard lies like yours for years and nothing has become of them!”
“I will show you,” he said in a soft reassuring tone. Please let my men get the others out from below to safety. I will stay.”
“Just go all of you!” Her crying grew louder as she held her head in her hands knowing that she could not bear the thought of killing all of the innocent people around her.
“Gentlemen,” he turned to his officers. “Go, get you and the others to safety.”
“But sir what about you? You can’t just stay here!” One of them said in a demanding tone.
“I’ll be fine, the lady and I will work this out.” He said as gazed at the poor frail person sitting before him. “You heard me! Go dammit!”
He listened as the soldiers under his command retrieved the other staff from their secure hiding place and made their way outside.
“How can you prove to me that what you say is the truth?” She cried out as she set her eyes upon him wanting desperately to believe him.
Softly and slowly, he walked over to a table sitting nearby. He reached up and then down on the harness which held all of his military equipment unbuckling each snap then slipped it off setting it on the table. Her eyes followed his every movement wondering what he was trying to accomplish. Next, he sat the pistol he was holding in his right hand on the table, now he was free of his soldier trappings. Tugging on the bottom of his coat he pulled it down so as to straighten it making himself look presentable. Finishing all the tasks he wanted too he made his way, finally standing in front of the beauty sitting before him.
Reaching out with both of his hands asking for hers in return. “This is how you can know that what I say is true.” He spoke using a soft tone. She reciprocated his gesture and placed her hands in his feeling the roughness that war had brought them but also the tenderness which lay within. He lifted their joined togetherness up as loving as he could knowing inside what was going to happen. Deeply they gazed into each other’s eyes locked forever.
His men had moved everyone a safe distance away from the building should the bomb explode. Enemy forces had emerged from the surrounding forest thrown down their weapons and were making their way peacefully towards their former adversaries. Pieces of concrete and wood flooded the immediate area surrounding the structure and when the smoke cleared nothing, but the stubble of a foundation remained.
An open window in the kitchen provided a picturesque view of the lush green lawn outside backed by rows of trees further beyond. A soft breeze wafted through the portal enveloping the couple locked in a deep embrace holding onto each other like there was no tomorrow. She lowered her head and placed it on his shoulder then snuggled it against his neck.
With a peaceful look about her face, she softly announced. “Now I know my children will be safe.”