July 4th, 2026
The air above the Aspendale Christian Camp was abnormally clear. On a normal day, the clearing that made up the camp would be packed with god-loving kids getting ready to celebrate the day that every American was ingrained to remember.
Independence Day. The day America became America. The day that our elected Colonial leaders looked our British occupiers in the eye and said, "Enough".
This wasn't a normal day, however, not by a long shot. Instead of kids playing in the fields, Humvees and APCs waited for repairs. Instead of kids rushing from the dorm to greet the new day, soldiers in olive uniforms with tan armor passed by each other. Instead of kids embracing their trust in God on the Odyssey rope-course, Korean soldiers trained for battle. Instead of the American flag flying true on the flagpole next to the Christian banner, the North Korean banner flew alone.
While the Koreans had changed what the Camp was, the tweeting birds kept it partly what it was. A mountainous environment. Trees reached for the sky, grass grew lush and green, and the cold air bit the inhabitants' flesh.
Even with the amount of activity, the small valley in the Sierra Blancas was quiet. Even the invading Koreans didn't want to upset the tranquility of the forest.
An explosion crashed that tranquility as the camp's Mess Hall was engulfed in flames. Cries of agony pierced the air. As the boots of the survivors stomped against the gravel to extinguish the flames and save their comrades, a bugle sounded off from the trees on both sides of the camp.
War cries pierced the air as men and women in a mismatch assortment of clothes and masks charged from the tree cover. Weapons barking, they descended upon the Korean garrison like a shark on a bleeding fish. Some of the attackers didn't even have rifles, they either wielded a pistol, knife, or some charged in with some sort of blunt object.
Rockets flew from the tree line and slammed into the vehicle depot and dorm building. The resulting explosion sent shrapnel flying and caused even more casualties amongst the Korean ranks. Gunfire filled the air as the attacking force began to fire down on the invaders. Even with the mass chaos and confusion, the Koreans fought back. The melee armed attackers were the first to be targeted and they began to fall to the barrage of rounds flying at them.
Even with their comrades falling, they charged on. One of the attackers, dressed in a German forest camouflaged flight suit and with a ski mask on, clothes-lined a Korean soldier before tackling another and beating him with a makeshift club. When the beaten Korean finally went limp and stopped twitching, the attacker stood and looked around to see that the battle was already over. It always ended as quickly as it began, that was the chaos of war.
Looking around, the flight-suit outfitted attacker saw the his brothers-in-arms searching the camp for survivors. Sporadic shots marked when one was found and finished off. Older, easy to fix civilian pick-up trucks came speeding up the dirt road, ready to receive the piles of weapons, ammunition, and food that the attackers would scavenge. Looking up the hill he charged from, the flight-suited attacker saw a man come jogging down it wearing an old American BDU uniform with a recon wrap around his nose and mouth and a BDU boonie cap on his head. Held readily in his hands was the tried-and-true M16 rifle.
"Schmidt!" the man called out to the flight-suited attacker as he caught up with him. The name-tape on the front of the uniform said that his last name was Cole. Schmidt knew his full-name to be Jason Cole, the co-founder and undeniably leader of the wide-spread Basin Resistance Cell. At the bottom of the Sierra Blanca mountains lay the city of Alamogordo. In the entire Tularosa Basin there were three settlements and two, former US, installations. The town of Tularosa lay to the North of the city while the village of La Luz rested just outside the Alamogordo city limits. Holloman Air Force Base was located west of the city, near the center of the basin, but was shut down when the government began the military budget cuts.
The Base used to be a training field for the American F-16 fighters, a home base for drone operations, and a desert training base for the German Air Force. Schmidt was a pilot at the base before he retired when the base closed and stayed in Alamogordo to be with his new found American friends.
The second installation in the basin, which was still open before the Invasion, is the White Sands Missile Range. A small Army garrison had manned the range, though they rarely did any real testing of missiles but more of just sat and waited 'til they were needed. Last Schmidt heard though, the range had fallen under Korean control, much like everything else in the western United States. The old Holloman Base had been transformed into a fully functional Korean airbase while Fort Bliss, located near El Paso to the south of the Basin in Texas, became a major Korean army base.
The Koreans took the Basin easily enough but holding it was a different manner. They had never planned for Cole and the other Basin citizens, added with the town of Cloudcroft citizens in the mountains, to fight back. The city of Alamogordo was basically abandoned when the Koreans began their major operations, as was Tularosa and La Luz. Everyone grabbed what they could and headed for the mountains. Now, as the Taliban did in Afghanistan, the citizens of the Basin began a major guerrilla war against the Korean forces. This attack on Aspendale was one of many operations that the Cell had carried out so far.
"Schmidt," Cole began, "I need you to take a group of people and get the surviving vehicles at the depot rolling outta here, got it?"
"Ja, it will be done," Schmidt replied. He knew he had a deep German accent and pronounced 'w' as a 'v' but he learned that Americans were quick to learn to understand the accents of others. As Schmidt grabbed a handful of men and women, he heard Cole's voice echo about the valley,
"Come on! We need to be gone before their QRF mobilizes! Move it people!"
Schmidt and his selected group of fighters reached the depot and began to search for any intact vehicles.
"Call out if you find one," Schmidt ordered before they split. Schmidt began to go along the rows of vehicles but saw that many were either damaged from shrapnel or were aflame, he avoided the ones on fire completely.
"Found a Humvee!" a woman cried out. A couple seconds later, and engine roared to life. "I'm rolling out!" she yelled again before Schmidt heard the engine growl louder as the accelerator was depressed.
"Got an APC here!" announced a male voice before the rumbling of the powerful engine echoed throughout the depot. "Rolling out!"
Two more Humvees were found before it was just Schmidt and a female fighter left searching. After what felt like an eternity but was probably only a few minutes, the woman called out,
"Hey, I found something. You might want to see this!"
Following the voice, Schmidt found her staring at the largest piece of ground-based military engineering ever conceived. Sitting before the two of them was a M1A3 Abrams tank. From what Schmidt could see, as it had been put under a camo screen, it retained it's tan paint job.
"Must be from Fort Bliss," the woman concluded before she began to pull the rest of the screen off. Like Schmidt thought, it still had the tan paint work but painted on either side of the barrel was the Korean NKOA (North Korea's Occupied America) flag. The flag showed the American flag washed out in a red hue with the Korean star in the center and the wreath of the KPA wrapped around it.
"You know how to drive a tank?"
Schmidt looked towards the voice to see the woman looking at him expectantly. He shook his head,
The walkie-talkie hanging from Schmidt's flight-suit crackled before a familiar voice spoke through it,
"Schmidt, this is Cole, what the hell is taking so long, over?"
Unclasping the walkie-talkie from his flight-suit, Schmidt put it to his mouth and hit the button, "Cole, this is Schmidt, we found an Abrams. Don't know how to drive, over."
"Say again, it sounded like you said 'Abrams', over."
"You heard correct Cole. One of your American Abrams. NKOA flag painted on though."
Schmidt pronounced NKOA as en-co-eh. It was a pronunciation that spread quickly through the cell when it was first uttered by a very southern, very pissed, cell member.
"Well I'd be damned. Wait one Schmidt. Cole, out."
Schmidt attached the walkie-talkie back to his flight-suit before looking to the woman. The blue bandanna that was over her face was around her neck now and the hood she had on was pulled down, revealing the long red hair she had and the thin lips with freckled cheeks. She was looking at him the entire time he spoke with Cole.
"How long before the QRF gets here?" she asked him.
"Depends on whether this garrison got a call out but I'd guess in about twelve minutes."
"Think we'll be gone by than?"
"We better be."
"Schmidt, this is Cole, found someone who thinks they can drive it. He's heading your way now. Out."
Schmidt didn't plan on responding as he didn't need to. It wasn't long before a man in jeans, jacket, combat rig, and three-hole ski mask came dashing around one of the ruined vehicles with a Korean T3AK dangling at his side from a single-point sling.
"Oh, hell yes!" he shouted as he tore off the mask with one hand, revealing short brown hair and a rugged goatee. Shoving the mask in his jacket pocket, he moved up to the tank and went around to the front of the tank, the barrel was pointed backwards for storage reasons. Schmidt and the woman followed him around to see him climbing on the treaded vehicle to a hatch in the center of the front of the chassis.
"My dad was tanker," he began as he opened the hatch and dropped in, "he told me how he was able to drive a tank and showed me the interior of the driver compartment when I was a kid."
"Whatever. This thing operational?" the woman retorted, putting her fists against her waist. Schmidt liked her already. He jumped when the jet engine that powered the behemoth roared into existence. The man's head peeked over the lip of the hatch. He began to speak but Schmidt couldn't hear anything over the engine. Climbing onto the chassis, Schmidt put his ear right next to the man's head. When he spoke again, he could hear him.
"We're good to go! Need a crew if we get into any combat but I can drive it alone!"
"Roger that! We'll ride on top for security! Pass me your rifle!" Schmidt replied with a thumbs up. He watched the man fumble for a couple seconds before the rifle was thrust out of the hatch and into Schmidt's awaiting hands. Schmidt checked the rifle briefly before reaching down and yanking two extra mags from the guy's harness and shoving them in the pockets of his flight-suit. He than motioned the woman onto the rumbling tank. She moved up next to him so that she could hear.
"We're gonna ride up top as security!" Schmidt began, "You need to man the fifty!"
She nodded before climbing on top of the turret and prying open the hatch behind the large Fifty-Caliber Machine-gun mounted on top of the turret. Sliding herself into the hatch, she took a second to stare at the gun with a look of awe before pulling the charging handle back.
Taking the radio from his flight-suit, Schmidt reported to Cole once more, he had to yell to be heard over the radio,
"Cole, this is Schmidt! We're running and ready to roll out! Over!"
"Roger that Schmidt! Get it to camp and get it covered up. Hopefully the Forgotten and Wildcat guys did their jobs. We're edging closer and closer to Check Mate Schmidt. Cole, out."
Schmidt smiled as he put the radio back onto his flight-suit. Grabbing onto the cage on the back of the turret, Schmidt crouched down and yelled into the driver compartment,
"Let's roll!" To get his point across, Schmidt also pointed forward. With a hop, the tank began moving to the dirt road. Their destination was the Resistance camp deep in the forest. With only the attached bladders on the turret being the limited supply of gas for the tank's jet engine, Schmidt doubted he'd see the tank being used for much besides Cole's prophesied 'Check Mate'. Schmidt found himself looking forward to that day where the Koreans are pushed from the Basin for good.
Than, though, it'd be a defensive game against the counter-attack that they all knew would come from Fort Bliss and from the Korean detachment in Las Cruces over the mountains on the west side of the Basin. Things will get really interesting than.
But all Schmidt had to worry about right no was somehow sneaking a tank back to camp and hiding the damned thing.
Funny thing, this war.