It had only been seven months since Private Ulrich Sankt had left his homeland of Germany shortly after signing up to the Enforcer Corps. His Battalion had shipped out a week ago after the war had started. World War Three. Ulrich was still in a state of shock over the entire thing, a three way war between Europe, Russia and the United States was the last thing the world wanted and now Ulrich knew he would be staring death in the face. He had been woken in the early hours of the morning by his Platoon Sergeant bursting into the men's bedroom shouting for everyone to get up. Just fifteen minutes later and everyone was fully dressed in their combat gear, weapons at the ready and ready for combat. Now Ulrich was finding himself sitting aboard an EC 660 Whirlwind helicopter racing across Central Italy heading for God knows where. Ulrich had been sitting with his rifle held firmly between his arms as he tried to mentally prepare himself for whatever he was about to face. He didn't know what was happening, the briefing before the mission had been short and vague. He'd spent the entire journey so far pondering over what was happening, praying to God that he wasn't going into battle; he didn't feel ready for that. But every second made him feel that he was indeed going to war and he couldn't help but feel that it would be a baptism of fire. He was only 20 years old, but he was the third oldest out of all fifteen of the soldiers onboard. Whenever he looked around he felt like he was around kids. 18 years old and they seemed more ready than he was. Sitting across from him was one of the Enforcer Corps Kommandos, Europe's Special Forces. No way would they bring in Kommandos with regular soldiers unless something big was happening, and from the amount of radio chatter going on this hardly seemed to be a drill. Ulrich looked down at the grimy floor of the helicopter and tried not to think about it. Instead his thoughts dwelled on home back in Berlin, his girlfriend and his baby. He wondered if he should think about those things before battle, would they make you more or less able to fight? Ulrich had no idea but he wasn't going to let anything stop him from remembering his girlfriend.
The EC 660 Whirlwind helicopter was still heading south, but turbulence was increasing strongly. Ulrich dared himself to look out of the window behind him. He glanced out and could see smoke rising from the ground below. He exhaled deeply to calm his nerves but was anxious about what was going to happen. Something was going on, that was clear enough, but he didn't know what role he'd play in it. Would his platoon be waiting on the sidelines for hours or would they be landing right in the middle of the battle? And if it was the latter, who would they be facing? The Americans or the Russians? Ulrich contemplated whether it would be better to fight the Russians or the Americans. He knew that Americans were good enough to let you surrender, but he didn't know about the Russians. He'd heard stories about what the Russians did to prisoners in the last world war and it made him shudder, especially since he was German and a Russian captor might not be too happy with that. But surely he would be okay, he wasn't going in alone and there must be plenty of support ready at the battle zone? Ulrich tossed all these thoughts around his head, a head which was being tossed around itself as the helicopter shook every few seconds, making Ulrich even more nervous. His headset had been silent since the platoon had been ordered to turn them off until they were told, but now the Platoon Sergeant stood up and shouted over the din of the rotor blades, all the while trying to keep his balance as the Whirlwind shook violently.
"Everyone, we're landing in five! Turn on your headsets; we're touching down in Matera! Once we land, stick together, stay focused and watch each other's backs! The Russians aren't known for small invasions!" he shouted.
Ulrich quickly fumbled with his helmet as he lifted it so he could reach his headset, before flicking a switch and turning it on quickly. The rest of the soldiers were doing the same and the rustling of their movements provided a new noise. But a third noise was coming into play now. The moment Ulrich turned on his headset he was almost deafened as panicked radio chatter came screaming into his ear.
"The Russians are advancing south of the space research station! We need air support at grid square 4645647 on my command!" he could hear someone screaming into their radio as gunfire rang out constantly around him, clear background noise. So they were facing the Russians. Ulrich could feel his heart thud as he listened to the radio chatter. Whatever was going on, the Russians had a lot of material as they began their invasion of Italy. He could hear talk of tanks, attack helicopters and even fighter jets. He saw his Platoon Sergeant stand up again and hold up a single finger before mouthing "One minute!" to signal when they would be landing. Ulrich could hear anti-aircraft fire and flak exploding just outside the helicopter.
The flight of seven ECC 660 Whirlwinds sped towards the battle, escorted by two PAH-6 Cheetah attack helicopters. The Whirlwinds touched down inside the Space Research Centre, throwing dust everywhere as their powerful rotors showed exactly why the helicopters had their name. The two Cheetahs hovered overhead, scanning the area for any threat to the Cheetahs. The doors at the back of the choppers opened and hit the ground with a thud. Ulrich saw the light bursting in as his helicopter's doors opened and he stood up as everyone else did the same. They ran in formation out of the helicopter and into the daylight, where Ulrich saw several AMZ-50 Marksman howitzer trucks firing into the air, hopefully shattering the Russian positions. The sound of gunfire and explosions was tremendous and a huge cloud of black smoke was growing from a nearby town. Ulrich ran after his Platoon Sergeant, who led six other men towards a hail of tracer rounds that shot right towards them. All thoughts of fear vanished from Ulrich's mind and he followed his Sergeant loyally as they ran towards a nearby house. The Russian gunfire appeared to be coming from a nearby hill where a tall white microwave dish stood, fire oozing from several holes in the dish. As Ulrich followed his Platoon Sergeant into the house, the noise died down and he managed to catch his breath. He realised that he had just ran right into a hail of bullets and smiled to himself but his thoughts were interrupted by the Sergeant.
"Private Sankt, get upstairs with Warner and check the second floor, then get a recon on the hill the Russians are firing from."
"Got it sir" replied Ulrich and he led Warner upstairs. Ulrich raised his rifle in a state of readiness and slowly walked up step by step. He inspected each room carefully, opening any closed doors by hitting them with the butt of his gun. Once he was satisfied that the house was clear, he beckoned for Warner to follow him. Warner did so without speaking and they found a small room with a large window that had a perfect view of the hill.
"Alright Warner, what can you see?" asked Ulrich as Warner took a pair of worn binoculars and studied the hillside intently.
"Well... I've got multiple snipers and several tanks up on the hill but other than that not much" replied Warner.
"You sure?" asked the wide-eyed Ulrich, considering 'not that much' to be used to describe one or two soldiers, not tanks and snipers.
"Positive" sighed Warner, already annoyed by Ulrich's enthusiasm.
"Okay, well let's get downstairs and tell the Sergeant" said Ulrich, but Warner was quick to respond.
"No, you go do that, I'll keep watching the hill and I'll say if anything comes up."
"Alright, back in a second" said Ulrich and he ran down the stairs, only to find the Platoon Sergeant lying motionless on the floor, with blood seeping from a bullet wound in the side of his neck.
"Sergeant!" yelled Ulrich is horror and he ran towards the Sergeant but a fist appeared out of nowhere and punched Ulrich in the face. Ulrich was knocked backwards and he lay there on his back, realising that his nose was broken. He looked up and saw a soldier standing over him. But this wasn't just a soldier, it was a Russian Spetsnaz soldier, the Russian Special Forces. The soldier raised his foot and was about to stamp on Ulrich's face but Ulrich grabbed his foot and yanked it sideways, causing the Russian to fall over. Ulrich rolled over and launched a flurry of punches into the Russian's face, before one of the punches was caught and the Russian delivered a single, powerful right hook to Ulrich's face. Ulrich was knocked back but refused to give up, he went right back at the Russian who was getting to his feet and threw another punch, which just missed, before the Russian punched Ulrich again and Ulrich fell backwards. Ulrich watched as the Russian slowly walked towards him with a knife in hand, before he stabbed at him. Ulrich rolled out of the way and the Russian missed, stabbing the floor instead. Ulrich reached for his pocket and pulled out a handgun. He fired at the hand holding the knife and hit the Russian in the centre of his hand. As blood flew in all directions, the Russian yelled out in pain and Ulrich took this as a chance. He tackled the Russian to the ground and punched him in the stomach, but the Russian punched back, hitting Ulrich in the face. Ulrich recoiled but only for a split-second before facing him again and punching as hard as he could. Still it wasn't enough and the Russian punched back again, before kicking out and hitting Ulrich in the stomach. Ulrich fell backwards and the Russian got to his feet, before picking up Ulrich's handgun that he had dropped a minute ago and aiming it at his forehead. He muttered something in Russian as Ulrich lay there unconscious, before firing. Ulrich was killed instantly.
The Russian surveyed the two dead Europeans before running from the house as more Russian soldiers moved up. Ulrich's platoon had been sent in as the last wave of reinforcements in the opening stages of the Russian invasion and it was pointless. Within a few hours, the entire Space Research Centre was under Russian control. Europe was one step closer to defeat.