We weren’t the first to engage.
The Donkeys, as much as they were a perfect example of a brutal oppressive dictatorship under the illustrious leader Kim Jong Ko, were also a perfect example of military proficiency. Ranks and ranks of foot soldiers backed by their dated artillery had moved at a seemingly impossible speed from Pyongyang, crossing the distance efficiently with no care of the individual’s state; a single entity that consumed the miles eagerly. Approaching the target area Titan reached the top of a hill crushing underneath it the flowers of late summer that were spread everywhere, adding blue and red splashes in the lush, green grass. The sight that greeted us will forever be locked in my memory.
My immediate thought was to a book I had read as a child, one that my grandparents had shown to me and that had become a favorite. The book, called “The Lorax”, was a tale of warning of misuse of resources. At the end of the book the ruins of a once bountiful countryside were shown as decimated; stumps being all that remained of the trees with blackened turf from all the machines. Shattered wood was scattered all over the giant clearing; all of the grass dead and the flowers gone. Holes in the terrain were blackened where artillery shells had clearly missed their targets, causing fires to burn here and there, eating what remained of the trees. The Donkeys had engaged at the side of the clearing opposite to us. I am absolutely certain of this because most of them were still there.
I’ve seen battlefields. I’ve seen people die. I’d never seen a massacre of that magnitude before. Bodies weren’t lying there, they were strewn across wide areas; no single corpse identifiable in the rivers of blood that flowed downhill with chunks of flesh floating in them like little boats. Artillery had fared somewhat better. At least there were recognizable pieces of the machines amongst the carnage, severed chunks of metal that looked as if they were just butter to some hot knife. Something had made human mashed potatoes out of the Donkey’s Elite troops.
A few seconds passed slowly before Giant’s voice split the silence over the com.
The comment was a mental kick-start.
“Snow, Twinkle, eyes on the sky. Find it. Zon, what’s on the satellite feed? Get me a target now.” I grabbed the mic for the com. “Scout, Heavy, this is Titan, you are green-light. Bring down any damn in the air.” I turned to Hardass whose face had hardened to granite. “Sergeant.”
He turned to me and our eyes locked. I’d done my part for now, I’d got us here in position. Now it was time to count on decades of combat experience. He nodded once.
“Right you bastards, it’s duck hunting time.”
I sat back as he took over the direction of the tanks and racked my brain for anything I could have missed, any small piece of information on Rodan that could explain the violence. I didn’t sit long.
To the west and a bit south of us, lights flashed and cracks rent the air as the familiar sound of the 105mm began hurling explosive anti-tank rounds.
“Titan, this is Scout we have contact at your 1 o’clock, 5 clicks out and approaching fast.”
“Damnit Zon, where was the warning?”
“Sarge, Satellite feed is clean, it must not…”
“Fuck it. Don’t matter now. Ladies, if you please?”
Twin auto-load 125mm high-velocity killing tools ripped the air apart only seconds apart as White and Twinkle picked up the target and let it have everything that a runaway military budget could muster. Round after round shot into the air and for a moment, a brief moment, I hoped that we would catch the bastard before it arrived.
“Holy shit that thing is moving!”
“Scout, shut up and shoot. Heavy, whenever you feel like joining the party, we’d fucking appreciate it. Ceilidh, I’d prefer not to be sitting still when that thing gets here.”
“Feckin’ reit Sarge!”
It took the giant winged beast from hell that was Rodan about 10 seconds to go from 5km out to spitting distance. The damned thing was like a 15 story building with four times that in wingspan skidding in the air to hover right above the ruin that it had created. The massive wave of air created by the beast decelerating nearly tipped the Titan right up off the ground, and skewed the ladies’ aim.
An ear-splitting screech rang out over the sound of the guns as the boys in the Scout adjusted their aim and laid into the demon bird. It turned towards the fire, massive beak opening. A catastrophic wave flowed out of its mouth visible as it distorted the air and accelerating violently into the Scout’s forest cover. Trees were ripped out of the ground and flung into the air, splitting and breaking into a whirlwind of flying debris. Dust and rocks spun and wildly, scattered out in all directions, creating a temporary cloud of complete cover around the whole area.
Hawkeye chose that moment of cover to let go with the Heavy’s main Gun. The Titan was designed to take fire, the Scout to avoid it. The Heavy, well, it had only one purpose. The specially fitted 250mm Baby Gustav armour-piercing Groundsplitter sent a shockwave across the ground as its blinding light, dampened by the dust, fought to brighten the day. Dust cover intensified as the wave hurled ground detritus into the air right before the horrific impact of shell on bird.
If you’ve ever had someone clap their hands together hard with your head directly in between, you’ll have some idea of what the impact felt like.
“Confirmed hit.” came Hawkeye’s voice through the come, though how he knew through the dust I can’t guess, but his statement was confirmed by a cry of rage and pain that was followed closely by the ground shaking like a damn earthquake.
“Fucking thing falls hard!” Hardass spat out of the tank. “Girls, don’t let it up again for Christsake.”
“Birdy fall, birdy fly, people fighting, people die.”
“Not now Gaga. Scout, report.” Zon pushed the giggling Gaga back down into a chair as she was trying to stand up as she sang.
“This is Scout. We’re a little bit sideways, but still alive.”
A violent whump echoed as Rodan trying to right itself flapped its wings hard, clearing away some of the dust. It was dead in the center of the clearing struggling to stand, blood running from a violent wound in its left leg. Its head turned towards us, beady eyes narrowing.
“Ceilidh, we need to leave, now.” I said, trying to maintain my calm as the creature struggled onto its feet, still able to support its weight after having the massive round embedded in its thigh.
“Ceilidh…” I remember my voice trailing off as the creature opened its beak.