The Stand

"There's more coming up the hill sir!"

"Hold the Uplink at all costs. Got it?"

"Yes sir!"

Traces lit up the black night as fire was traded between the two sides. Hunkered down behind an Uplink's security walls were two platoons of the JSF Ghost Riflemen while multiple Euro infantry and armor platoons were pushing against them. A yellow fireball lit up a small area of the battlefield a Euro tank's main gun roared. The launched shell screaming past the JSF platoons and Uplink before slamming into the old, stone fortress walls that surrounded this specific Uplink.

The JSF responded with a flurry of rifle rounds that ripped through exposed Euro troops and peppered against the hulls of their armored vehicles.

"This is Vampire, we are pinned down and in need of immediate support, over!" cried out one of the platoon's radio operators as bullets pinged off of the metal outside of the Uplink and dug into the concrete security walls around the structure.

"Vampire, this is Command. Ground assets are inbound to assist but they are facing heavy resistance. ETA unknown, just hold on. Command out."

The radio operator unleashed a string of curses that would make a mother faint as he hefted his rifle. Peeking over his cover, he could see the silhouettes of the armored vehicles and of the infantry running back and forth. Yellow flashes of light would appear briefly in a random pattern in front of the two platoons. After a bullet whizzed by his head, the radio operator ducked back behind cover.

"Ground support incoming, Captain! ETA unknown!" the radio operator reported.

"Damn it! We are in danger of being overran, don't they understand that?" the Captain yelled back before standing up, firing three rounds in quick succession before ducking back down as MG rounds slammed into the wall.

A spray of blood splattered onto the radio operator's face as the man ducking down next to him fell forward against the wall, which was now covered in his blood.

Quickly snapping out of the shock, the radio operator spun around to see two Euro Kommandoes standing in the open. Dropping them both with well-placed bursts, the radio operator got on the horn as he covered the approach.

"Hostiles flanking our six! I repeat, hostiles on our six! They're behind us!"

"Roger that. This is Werewolf, moving to cover our six."

Almost half of the riflemen against the wall began to move around the building. As the men moved, the radio operator could see some dropping to the ground with new holes in their bodies while others were already firing at hostiles on the other side of the complex that the radio operator couldn't see.

Turning back to the direction on the other side of his cover, the radio operator stood and fired several, short bursts wherever a yellow flash appeared. With the amount of light being generated, only someone wanting to lose their vision would use the night vision built into their helmets. The radio operator felt a sense of satisfaction as some of the hostile silhouettes dropped to the ground, unmoving.

Hearing the 'click' of an empty rifle, the soldier ducked back behind cover and ejected the spent mag, hearing it clatter against the other mags and shell casings that had beat it there. After fishing for a new one for a couple of seconds, he came to a disturbing conclusion.

"I'm out!" he yelled, "I need a mag!"

"Gibbons!"

The radio operator, Gibbons, turned towards the sound of the voice to see another Ghost waving a mag in front of himself before tossing it at Gibbons. Gibbons watched the mag arc through the air towards him. As it came down, the soldier moved his left hand to catch it. His gloved fingers brushed the metallic exterior of the mag when the world blew apart beneath him.

Gibbons felt himself being tossed onto his back as his vision blurred. He watched as the magazine slid across the ground, out of his reach and as the wall that protected him so far was turned to a useless pile of debris and smoke. He could see many other soldiers on the ground around him, most of them with shards of debris sticking out from their bodies and pools of blood forming beneath them.

"We got men down over here!"

A feeling of being underwater washed over Gibbons as he heard the jumbled, far away voices and rifle fire. The soldier could see the tracers drilling through the sky overhead as he felt something dig into his upper back. It was than that he started being dragged to his right, away from his injured, or dead, comrades and the debris that was his saintly cover. His head rolled to the right to see a Euro tank crest the hill. It's main gun roared as it spat out a shell that split the sky like thunder before slamming into the Uplink.

Gibbons felt himself stop moving as the pressure from his upper back was removed. After being pushed by two pairs of hands against the outer wall of the Uplink, Gibbons's vision was assaulted by the facemask and visor of the Ghost's signature helmet.

"Gibbons! Stay with me damn it! Come on!" the man was yelling but it sounded like little more than a bogged down whisper. Gibbons saw the man raise a hand,

"Come on, damn it!"

the hand moved faster than Gibbons could track as it slapped against the soldier's helmet, knocking the man back into reality. Gibbons shook his head to clear it more before looking back at the soldier who hit him, noticing that it was the Captain.

"You good, Gibbons?"

"Yes, sir!"

"Alright! We're in danger of being overrun! I need you to get on that radio son because we are out of options! Broken Arrow!"

Broken Arrow was a code phrase meaning that an American combat unit was in danger of being overran and it called in all operational air assets to divert and support the unit in danger. The most notable scene, and only scene, that Gibbons had seen an American unit call in Broken Arrow was during the move We Were Soldiers. The battlefield in the movie quickly became more of a hell than it was before.

Gibbons knew better than to question his CO, however. Nodding blankly, the soldier let his rifle lay on his lap as he grabbed his mic with his left hand and set his right hand where his ear would be if he wasn't wearing the helmet.

"Broken Arrow!" he cried into the radio, watching as another one of his comrades was turned into Swiss Cheese by the sheer amount of incoming fire. "I say again, Broken Arrow!"

"Broken Arrow confirmed. Support inbound. Activate IR strobes and hang tight. Command, out."

"Roger that!" Gibbons replied before he turned to the Captain, who was crouched down beside him. "We need to activate our IR strobes to mark our position, sir!" gunfire drowned out most of the noise, making communication between the two near impossible. Another tank gun roared, smashing against the Uplink once more.

"Got it!" the Captain responded as he took out the aforementioned strobe, activated it, and tossed it into the middle of his men. The device did nothing that the naked eye could see but if one was looking through a night vision or thermal filter, it would give off emit of a blinking light that could be seen by passing fast-movers.

"This is Werewolf! Strobe deployed!"

"This is Eagle 1-1, flight of four. Inbound to your position."

"Cobra 3-1, inbound."

"Roger!" replied Gibbons with a smile, "Friendly forces marked by IR strobes, all else is considered hostile! Surrounding infrastructure is expendable, over!"

"This is Eagle. Jesus Christ. You guys interrupt Oktoberfest or something? Dropping strike package."

A scream like that of a Banshee pierced the battle space as the four Razorbacks passed overhead. Not five seconds later, Euro vehicles and infantry on either sides of the Uplink were disappearing in great, big fireballs. One of the old, stone towers began to collapse from the damage it had received during the bomb run.

The survivors of the bomb run continued to push forward, their German made assault rifles spitting out rounds faster than a redneck would be able to spit out his dip. A tank gun roared once more, it's round piercing one of the fiery clouds, skimming the Uplink, and slamming into the stone walls behind it. The JSF soldiers responded in kind, their XM model Assault Platforms barking at the rabid Euro attackers. One of the soldiers lifted his gun a bit higher before popping off a M203 round from the under-slung grenade launcher.

A steady thumping began to pierce the incoherent noise that was battle. Gibbons looked up to see the black silhouettes of two AH-80 Blackfoot gunships fly over the walls of the fortress and bank in separate directions to attack the two different hostile groups.

"Cobra is commencing assault."

As the last of the report was uttered, the helicopters came to life with the fury of Zeus as Hellfire missiles flew off the rails and streaked towards their targets. A couple seconds after launch, the missiles slammed into their intended, armored targets. The explosion, and secondaries, that followed lit up the night in such a spectacular fashion that one may find themselves thinking of the Fourth of July celebrations back in the States.

The copters didn't stop, however, as their 30mm chainguns came to life. The large rounds tore infantry, and their cover, apart leaving little more than piles of something that no longer looked human. Still, the Euro forces advanced. Some of the hostile infantry made a made dash for the main building of the ancient stronghold. They made it with great casualties but they were protected from the death that had rained upon them.

A missile flew out from one of the windows. Gibbons watched as one of the gunships tried to bank away from it, only to get struck in the tail and begin to spin out of control.

"This is 3-2. We are hit. I repeat, we are hit. 3-2 going down. 3-2 going in hard. Shit!"

As the pilot calmly reported of his imminent crash, the curse was soon followed the rotary craft slamming into one of the stone towers and exploding in a brilliant yellow and red fireball that made night briefly become day. The stone tower, and connecting wall, began to crumble to the Earth below, snuffing out any chance of the flames spreading.

"Cobra 3-1, pulling out."

Gibbons couldn't see the other chopper leave the battle space, as it was on the other side of the Uplink, but he could see gunfire begin to pour from the main building of the stronghold. The roar of a tank gun pierced the night. Seconds later, a chunk of the building was turned to rubble by the tank round.

"The Calvary has arrived gentlemen!" the Captain cheered, some of the soldiers following suit as two more tank guns roared, blowing away more of the building.

"Eagle 1-1 to Vampire. We're at bingo fuel. One more pass and than we're gone, over."

"Roger that Eagle 1-1!" Gibbons replied, "One pass is all we'll need anyways! Hostiles have repositioned themselves inside the Castle, over!"

"Roger that Vampire. Bombs away."

The four jets screamed overhead and, for a couple seconds, nothing happened. In a spectacular red and yellow fireball that dared to rival the sun, the front of the castle seemed to disappear from existence and it only took a couple seconds before the rest of the structure came crashing down. The cheers of the JSF soldiers pierced the night as the last of the castle finished crumbling and, with it, the last of the Euro attackers were killed.

"This is Eagle 1-1. We are RTB. Happy hunting Vampire."

"Thanks Eagle," Gibbons responded with a face-splitting smile as he shakily got to his feet. His smile slowly dispersed as he saw the sheer amount of wounded and dead littering the battlefield. Such a waste of human life over what was basically a shrine to technology. His eyes settled over the corpse of a JSF riflemen. His head was bent back at an awkward angle while his right leg, from the kneecap down, was missing.

"This is Bedpan. We are inbound for casevac, over."

"Roger," Gibbons replied dryly before a firm hand grasped his shoulder. Looking over, Gibbons saw the Captain standing next to him, examining the corpses as while.

"Casevac is inbound, sir."

"Many good men and women died here today." the Captain paused to take a deep breath, "I need you to promise me something Gibbons."

"Sir?"

"Never forget the men, and women, who've died so far and always remember those who will die in the future," the Captain's gaze shifted. Gibbons followed his line of sight to see the shattered tail section of from the shot-down Blackfoot sticking out of the rubble of the tower it had smacked into. Men were clambering over the debris, trying to get to the cockpit to retrieve the body, or at least the dogtags.

"Promise me that Gibbons."

"I promise sir. I will never forget those who have fallen or will fall."

"Good," the Captain said simply before patting Gibbons's shoulder a few times, "Let's go lend a hand."

It wasn't exactly an order. It was more of a suggestion but, as Gibbons looked out at the battlefield and the carpet of corpses, he realized how surmountable a task that cleaning the battlefield would turn out to be. So, trying to get his guts into line beforehand, Gibbons nodded to his CO. The two soon melted seamlessly into the controlled chaos that was the cleanup operation.

Tanks were pushed aside, debris was moved to a central pile, and bodies were laid out in nice, orderly rows. It didn't matter if the corpse was JSF or Euro, both were treated with respect and both got their dogtags collected. Dogtags displayed a soldier's information including his name, religion, serial number, and blood type. However, some, it reminded them of those brave men and women who sacrificed their lives so that their nation's government could perform the duties that it considered 'Just'.

Problem was...

'Just' had a very vague definition.

A/N: Hope y'all enjoyed this. Spent one evening writing it while listening to the new Disturbed album.

Don't know why I wrote this either. I just got a EndWar oneshot vibe out of the blue and decided to put it down on... er, 'paper' and submit it for y'all to read (and hopefully review on).

As I hinted before, please leave a review of what you think of this story. I'd really appreciate it.