One Man against the Reds

The City of New York lay in ruined tatters. The fallen bodies mingled with the clouds of arid darkness... a pale curtain hung over the city... On the other hand, you can say that pale curtain of smoke hung over what was left of New York City. The Soviets had invaded, come out absolutely nowhere. They had bypassed all of our security and early warning and radars. Scuttlebutt said they were south of the Brooklyn Bridge, and building a base for their invading army. It was as if somebody had drawn a line down the middle of the city and made it nine-tenths Red, one tenth blue. We were holding, the last of the defenders in New York. The World Trade Center with its twin peaks reaching up to the skies. The last landmark left standing. The Reds had blown apart Lady Liberty, with their opening salvo and then marched through the city, slaughtering the innocent noncombatants by the thousands.

Bodies lay everywhere, tossed around by explosions, ripped apart by rifle fire, eviscerated by the Reds little robotic Terror Drones. The streets ran red with blood. If you looked down at the USA from the skies, you would probably see the rivers run red with the blood of the dead. The Reds had turned New York in to a ghost town with only two opposing armies. One fought a defensive holding action, the proverbial suicidal rearguard. The other was a horde of savage barbarian invaders driven by one purpose.

Revenge.

The Reds wanted revenge for their earlier defeats during the first war. They wanted to avenge their lost comrades. Moreover, they were exacting their revenge in every street, every building, and every store and in the rooms of every home. They were the great losers in the first war between the Allied Nations and the Soviet Union. They want revenge.

Seven allied patrols had set out, a mix of lightly armored IFVs and GIs. My patrol had been one of the lucky ones: We had had a pair of Abram Main Battle Tanks. I was the last one left alive. We never saw them, only heard them. The first time we heard them was when two garrisoned buildings at a crossroads had rained hell, fire and damnation upon us. Dug in, deeply entrenched and fortified; I do not know if we could have ever dug them out. Add to all those fortifications that they held the high ground, and it was a massacre.

Who am I? You know that. Rank? You know that too. Serial Number? Come on. You know that too. Would you like my social security number? Can we quit playing games? If you are who I think you are, and If I am where I think I am, you know my name, rank, serial number, social security number and underwear size. The only important thing is what I am… or was. I was a Soldier, more specifically a Sniper. That is important. I am a sniper. I am one man, and I am about to go toe to toe with Goliath. Except Goliath has about a million to one odds on me, and he has a long more guns and ammo than I do.

American soldiers lay dead around me. All had died fighting for their way of life. However, more than that: They had died for freedom. Freedom is what counts. Without freedom, you cannot live your "way of life." Somebody once said that the "tree of liberty must be regularly refreshed with blood of patriots and tyrants." The tree has probably drowned in the blood of patriots. I hope the tyrants choke on our blood. However, long before that, I am going to make a lot of the commie bastards choke on their own blood.

Corporal Simo Havers, had been dead for some time, like everyone else. The flank cannon on their aptly named flak track had torn him open. They had done the same to everyone else to: "Squint," Hayes, "Bucky," and all the rest - you can see them, sitting over there. I checked my rifle again. It was fine - at least it should be as I recall a blast, a shockwave and then everything going black before I landed on my face. They had left me for dead.

They Reds would get a chance to correct their mistake, once they had paid my price.

I check the magazine and it clacked in to place like a man coming home from work. I flicked the safety from "Safe" to "Armed." It was time, to hunt. To hunt for the killers of my brothers in arms, already dying, fighting and dying. Finding my prey would be no challenge: all I had to do was follow the ancient orchestra of war: Tanks hurling shells at each other, the drum roll of artillery batteries firing, the screaming of men overlaid and drowned by the clattering of machine gun fire. If I could not find the battlefield by sound alone, all I had to do was follow the Kirov Airships floating in distance.

I had to chuckle: As a sniper, I was in prime position, in their rear lines. Let us see how good the commies really are. The ruins of New York actually worked in my favor. All the rubble means more cover. Perfect sniper country, especially since urban warfare is a three, not two-dimensional battlefield. The Reds had demonstrated the power of high ground to me when they slaughtered my patrol barely an hour ago. I picked up the pace, running along the lifeless streets, skirting the civilian bodies, stopping by those of fallen soldiers. Habit and training drilled in to me since boot meant I snapped every dog tag I came across. Then searched them for ammo, weapons, grenades, food and water, and found next to nothing: The commies were also the worst - or best - scavengers: They left nothing but broken husks of men in combat fatigues.

When I got to the battlefield itself, I search and found the high ground: Third floor or a blown out building with a crater running from its roof all the way in to the basement. I think I could actually see the massive piece of ordinance that is a Kirov's bomb.

My urban pattern battledress let me blend in almost perfect with the destroyed environment. I had a good six inches of concrete for cover and a pair of claymores planted in the mostly intact stairwell covered my six. My early warning system was in place, and if I had to get the hell of dodge, the fire escape on the far side would do the trick. I peered down my scope, and watched the hapless infantry, outgunned, outclassed in a tank fight. I was hunting for Soviet Officers. Take away their officers and the hapless commie conscripts will just sit in a hole. Those idiots still cannot take piss without orders. The only problem was that there were so damn many of them.

The Soviets had learned though, I would give them that. You could not tell an officer from a conscript down there. Then I saw the cute little gathering, taking place in what they assumed to be relatively secure rear: They were officers or they were soldiers. I was going to make them all dead men. "One shot," I murmured, "one kill." They looked away to the East. They could have been looking at me. However, the sun was in their eyes, and I waited as time thundered by, passing with the roar and thunder of war to mark its passing.

"Filth." I fired. One shot and it created a geyser of blood and flying brain matter

"Bastard." I squeezed the trigger again. This one was holding the brains of his deceased companion, when his brain leapt out the back of its skull.

"Coward."This was a blood fountain that sprayed the dead and the living as he clutched at the hole where his throat had been.

The remaining seven dropped or ran for cover. No courage amongst the bastards…. A shoulder stuck out from behind a stack of ammo crates. I made sure the arm parted company with its owner. When it struck the ground, it was still holding a pistol in its hand.

I figured what the hell, and put four bullets through the maps, the table, the charts and the radio lying there. Could not hurt my cause any. For eight rounds of ammo, I had nailed for officers, disrupted their chain of command, taken out a radio and caused some panic and chaos. Felt like a good start to long last stand.

Of course, all that meant they had a clue: A sniper was on their flank. They dispatched infantry to deal with me. I almost laughed: They were hunting a sniper and they sent their worthless conscripts, and Tesla Troopers, even a pair of Desolaters - everyone gave that pair a wide berth - and then a Crazy Ivan - everyone made sure they were at least ten feet away from him. Shame really.

Two minutes, relatively open ground, and I had plenty of ammunition. I let them come. It was strangely easy to find the rhythm: Inhale, Sight, track, breath in, lead, half exhale, fire, and exhale, then confirm the kill and continue. I took out the Crazy Ivan first, aiming for the nice big splotch of red on his chest: A couple of pounds of dynamite went off and everyone else ducked for cover - except for the heavy armored assault troopers: The irradiated and electrified psychopaths.

One fell over, his faceplate shattered as my bullet pulped his brain. The second one turned for cover and my bullet missed him, but ripped apart the electronics is the backpack of his suit. He jerked and danced as he fried inside his armor. I let him broil. Two bullets took out a Desolator. The first spanged off his armor plated head. I think the second found a weak spot or went through an eye slit. Either way, he died with his hand clenched on the trigger of his radiation gun. He melted a few conscripts for me. I silently thank the sonofabitch.

I saw every single man fall through my scope: A Desolator, the Tesla Troopers, a Crazy Ivan and a dozen conscripts. I almost pitted the little fuckers and their rifles: They never had a chance. I was a god almost men at that moment, I haunted the battlefield and every time I reached out with my rifle; I touched somebody's heart or head and harvested their soul. It was liberating. I moved, to another part of the ruined building, going down a floor as two tank shells obliterated the third floor - or what was left of it. The building stayed upright. I got down to the bloody business of war.

I scanned, searching for officers for specialist soldiers and took them out. For the most part, I ignored the conscripts. I did not have enough bullets to kill them all. Even so, I burned through my stockpile of ammunition faster than anticipated. A hundred rounds and four burned out barrels later; ninety-two commie scum had my name tattooed in to their chests.

One of the things they tell you is that a "still sniper is a dead sniper." True enough. I had stayed still too long: The proof of that was the first half of my early warning system going off. The M18A1 Claymore Mine is a nasty piece of business. They can be command detonated, or triggered by improvised tripwire, as mine just had. The pack about seven hundred 33 millimeter wide steel balls, that sit on top of a layer of explosives. You set one off and you have a shrapnel storm in a seventy-degree arc facing forward. The superheated shards not only punch through clothing and flesh as if it is not there. However, those flashed heated metal shards will continue to cook you apart from the inside. I figured six to ten had eaten the first one if the screams were anything to go by.

I packed up and crossed towards the fire escape. In the corridor of the ruined apartment building, I heard the second mine claim another collection of the hapless fuckers. I saw movement through the hole in the front door. I lobbed a grenade through the opening. I would like to think that it bounced, once, twice and maybe even a third time before it went off, finishing off those wounded by the min and maybe killing a few more.

I should have used the fire escape, but then, hindsight is always perfect. Rifle slung, and pistol drawn, I went out to greet them. Blood and scorch marks decorated ever surface. A lot them looked like ground beef. I found one possibly alive. If he did live, he probably would not want to without his legs and a hand. My hand cannon barked once.

Luck was on my side, maybe. He was carrying a Russian Druganov. I was attached to my rifle - try and find a sniper who isn't…. try and find a grunt who isn't attached to his grease gun. You will not find one. Every man has their own rifle and they will always be the most comfortable with their rifle. Even something straight off the factory line is not as good as you own rifle. She had been with me since I got my specialist certification but this is war. You cannot stand on regulation horseshit. You have to be practical. You have to adapt if you want to survive. I did not fancy trying to collect NATO 5.56mm when it would be so much easier to get Russian 7.62mm. I dropped my rifle and slung his and I was damn near killed.

I have no idea how the fuck it could move so quietly. His armor had to weigh at least a couple of hundred pounds, the fuel rod gun and its nuclear backpack at least a hundred on their own. The cannons are fine in the open but up close or indoors, backwash was likely to kill him and me. He had raised the weapon high and tried to club me to death. I saw his shadow, and then heard the dull crump as his gun caught and snagged up on rebar poking through the reinforced concrete of the roof. He struggled to tear himself free, and I struggled not to laugh at him.

You do not laugh in the face of the enemy. You shoot the enemy, before he shoots you. Then you can dance on his corpse if you want. The Desert Eagle, guided by my hand put seven large .50 caliber Action Express rounds through its chest. And he stopped moving as I backed away, nearly shitting myself as I tripped over a corpse as he, just hung there. That was when I laughed. He was hanging and swaying ever so gently like a flower in a cool summer breeze. I fired two warning shots, right in to his head.

I got distracted for a couple of minutes with the pressing matter of survival and the commie fucks had ground onward to victory. The defensive line we had built was almost three hundred meters deep, and they had managed to plow through a lot of it. Less than a hundred meters from breaching the base proper and they were paying for every inch they took. I could see the flashes of Prisms Towers, their lucent beams crashing in to soviet tanks. There was the telltale sparkle of Browning .50 caliber pillboxes and sandbag entrenched GI's behind M60s, rattling out a hail of bullets.

The kept pushed forward, and I crept closer behind them. One sniper blends in and can hide easily amongst the carnage of ongoing warfare. I did not have a flash suppressor or a silencer but nobody seemed to notice me, not when I was firing a Druganov. I remember smiling and smiling and chuckling between shots as I watered the tree of liberty with the blood of so many would be conquerors and tyrants.

It was strange, as I killed my way across the battlefield, showing Desolator infantry that their backpacks were too weak to keep their nuclear genie bottled, lauding Crazy Ivans in to one premature detonation after another. I remember though, from all of, one single Tesla Trooper, who lumbered like a drunken ox, sending tendrils of lightning dancing towards the allied lines. He stopped alongside almost every dead commie - and there were many dead commies - and I paused to watch him. It made me laugh as he made the sign of the cross over each of his fallen comrades. What was he supposed to be? Some kind of "Battle Priest?" I laughed, perhaps even giggled girlishly for a moment before falling back in to my old routine: Inhale, Sight, track, breath in, lead, half exhale, fire, and exhale, then confirm the kill. Repeat.

I think it cost the commies about thirty minutes and maybe three dozen tanks, god knows - and he should - how many half tracks and thousands of infantry died trying to take that last one hundred meters.

Incredibly, I had killed my way across the entire battlefield in less than twenty. I thought for sure one side or the other would shoot me. I think the rest of the GIs recognized me by my standard issue American combat fatigues. Ironic, considering just how tired we all were at that point, and all of our fatigues hung from us like a lifeless second skin. Perhaps they were just happy to see somebody drag themselves in out of "commie land," bleeding and limp from a leg wound, fall in to the trench, pick himself up and start shooting at the commies.

I think the commies did not shoot me because I had killed every comrade officer and comrade specialist soldier in my line of advance. Maybe that was the commie conscripts and I agreeing that officers exist only to get the grunts killed. I do not know. I do not care. I am standing here and telling you my tale, so you can probably find out why, but it does not really matter.

It was the longest and yet, the fastest twenty, thirty minutes of my life. That last half hour or so, I don' remember too much of it. I do remember the head of the person to my left exploding. I remember watching two or three jerk and twitch as a Tesla Trooper caught them. I do recall the horror and terror I felt as half a squad of eight melted in the burning light of Desolator's fuel rod cannon gun thing. I also remember a medic with a red cross on his helmet charging up and hugging the bastard, clutching a grenade in each hand.

What I remember most is that medic bandaging up upper left arm, where a bullet had grazed me and just torn out a chunk of flesh and muscle. It hurt. No matter who tells you, what you have read, getting shot always hurts like a motherfucker. That medic was the man who dumped a three satchel box magazines at my feet, and a half dozen grenades.

There were few wounded and this was the last stand, this was suicide detail. All of us knew it. I was probably a Grade III wounded at the end. Blood had leaked from under my bandaged leg, and was starting to pool in my boot. Wounded, probably dying and effectively immobilized but I could man a fire point, and I had plenty of ammo, and I did not have an excuse.

The M60 rattled, and my teeth rattled in my skull as I let rip at the enemy, "Bring it!" I yelled. There was no sniper, no hiding, no hunting or stalking. This was about the slaughter of war in all its terrible, bloody glory. The gun kept rattling my teeth and shaking, no matter how tight I pushed it in to my shoulder. It was going numb fast. That was good. I would not feel the bruise forming…. I do not remember much of their last charge, except that bone-chilling cry, that sounded like "Hurrah!"

"I saw, Corporal," the figure was dressed in an immaculate white suit, "I can show you," he explained, "do you wish to see it?"

The bloody, fatigue-clad soldier nodded.

Corporal James Townsend McNeil, husband to a murdered wife, father two a murdered son and daughter, Corporal, United States Marine Corps, Sniper, service number V141284, held his ground. "Bring more motherfuckers!" he screamed as his gun ran empty. It was as if they had been waiting for this moment. They charged: Conscripts, Tesla Troopers, Crazy Ivans and Desolators. They all charged him position. Bullet whipped around him, sandbags grew fat on missed bullets, rounds shattered against concrete rubble and pain lanced through the Corporal's body in a number of new places.

McNeil grunted, trying to block out the pain, but he could. There was too much of it. Therefore, he fed off it instead; channeling the pain to keep his mind clear, his movements crisp and clean his DI would have been proud as he opened the rifle, set a fresh belt, closed and locked the breech, pulled back the charge handle to feed the first round in to the chamber. He held down the trigger and opened up anew.

Dozen, if not hundred charged, ignoring the gunfire and shrapnel, raping McNeil's position with weapons fire. Others took cover. McNeil held firm. Enemy infantry moved forward, fire and maneuver, using wreckage and rubble for cover against the raging fusillade

McNeil kept firing.

They approached the lip of his trench, rushing guns blazing. Grenades pushed them back, bullets ripped them apart. Blood and body parts arched through the air. The gun locked empty and he hurled a pair of grenades to buy a few seconds. Open. Set. Close. Lock. Charge.

McNeil kept firing.

Bullets went back and forth, defenders trading fire at point blank range; both sides hurled grenades and both sides hurled them back in the deadliest game of "hot potato." The numbers were starting to tell as one by one American riflemen began to fall.

Two bullets slapped McNeil off his feet. Pain flew up his stomach and punched out his chest. He screamed, in agony, in pain, and in rage. He screamed in defiance. He screamed for revenge. He screamed, giving freedom a voice as he swept the rifle across the lip of the trench. Two Conscripts were killed and a Tesla Trooper blown back. The beam of light lanced down from above and bisected the Corporal's throat.

The Desolator heaved itself in to the trench and vaporized the prone body. However, his trigger finger maintained a death grip around the trigger of the M60 machine gun, bolt pumping as the last few bullets poured in to the trench wall.

By the time the weapon clicked empty, Corporal James Townsend McNeil was ash upon the wind, except for the severed hand clutching his M60, long since dead.

"So Saint Peter," said the corporeal corporal, to the figure standing in front of the mythical pearly gates of heaven, "I'm just one more soldier reporting to heaven," said James, "Just like those guys over there. We've all served our time in hell."