OC: I was playing Ace Combat Six and watched the cut scene when Melissa and Ludmila were stopped by Emmerian partisans. I felt like the partisans story was largely left untold in the game (there was no mention of them at any other time besides cut scene 9) and just wanted to expand on the idea that not all Emmerians were contempt with being under Estovakian rule. Hope you enjoy.


September 6th, 2015

A parade of T-90 Main Battle Tanks rumbled past Gracemeria Castle. Their turrets were pointed upwards and the commanders were all standing upright in their cupolas saluting. Not far behind the tanks were Estovakian soldiers who goose stepped holding their rifles to their shoulders in perfectly even rank and file. Above flight after flight of Elstravokian fighter planes streaked by in delta formation leaving white contrails in the serene blue sky. An Estovakian general looked on from the balcony of the castle as the endless parade of men and machines continued. Loudspeakers throughout the city blared telling the citizens of Gracemeria that they were now free from the oppressive yoke of the Emmerian government. The citizens of Gracemeria milled about on the side of the road showing no particular interest in the invaders. Those who did look at the Estovakians wore a mask of scorn on their faces. No one dared shout or throw anything due to the heavily armed Estovakian soldiers that lined the streets. Louis McKellar was one of those who showed no interest in the parade. He walked with one hand in his pea jacket pocket and the other holding his five year old daughter's hand tightly.

"Daddy." Louis' daughter, Madison, said tugging on his hand.

"Yes." Louis said looking down at his beautiful daughter. He could proudly say she looked like her mother. She had shoulder length straight blonde hair that framed her cherubic little face. Her eyes were green like emeralds and freckles dotted her nose and cheeks.

"How long are those men going to be here?" she asked completely naïve to the fact that a pair of Estovakian soldiers had just walked past them. Louis looked over his shoulder to make sure the soldiers had not heard her. Whether they did or not they continued their patrol.

"We've been through this before, Madison." Louis said sternly. "You can't say those kind of things in public."

"But they won't let me go to school. It's the only time I get to see my friends." Madison whined. Louis stopped and looked down at his daughter. He frowned when he saw tears brimming her eyes and her lower lip quivering.

"Don't worry love." Louis cooed softly bending down to wipe the tears that now streamed down her cheek. "Maybe tomorrow I'll bring you to one of your friends' houses. We'll go out and get ice cream. How does that sound?" Much to Louis' delight Madison's face brightened and she smiled.

They boarded a trolley, which by the way had two soldiers posted on it, and road it all the way to Downtown Gracemeria. There weren't as many soldiers as there were in other parts of the city in the Downtown area but that didn't mean there weren't a lot of them. Louis couldn't help but notice the lack of people on the streets. Usually there were throngs of people either walking on the sidewalks or driving on the road. Ever since the Estovakians invaded most people stayed inside and the ones who did venture outside all looked beyond depressed. One of the houses had furniture and clothes strewn about the front yard. Clear evidence that Estovakian soldiers had raided the place. He didn't know the family who lived there but he'd heard that Stovie soldiers had swooped in at night and snatched the family up before anyone noticed what was going on. A truck painted pea soup green filled with Estovakian soldiers flew down the street completely disregarding both stop signs and red lights alike. Across the street an elderly man said something a little too loudly about how the Estovakians went around like they owned the place and was knocked in the face with the butt of a rifle for his troubles. Louis covered Madison's eyes and picked up the pace.

When he walked in his house his nose immediately picked up the savory smell of his wife's delicious cooking. Madison ran into the kitchen and hugged her mother's leg bombarding her with the details of her day. "That's nice, Maddie." Louis' wife, Alexis, said smiling as she stirred something in a big pot. Maddie was Alexis' nickname for Madison. Personally Louis preferred Madison.

"Hey love." Alexis said kissing Louis on the cheek before returning to cooking. Louis ran a hand through her hair and kissed her back. It surprised Louis still that Alexis and Madison looked so much alike. The only difference was in the eyes. Madison got her emerald green eyes from Louis. Alexis' eyes alternated between an icy blue and light green depending on the light. She checked her watch and said, "You're running a bit late. We have guests."

"Guests?" Louis inquired with a raised eyebrow. Just then two men walked into the kitchen from the living room. Louis couldn't help but let his mouth hang open. Two Estovakian soldiers were in his house. "What are you two doing here?" Louis asked coldly.

"We are to be quartered in this household by official proclamation of the Estovakian Army ." the older of the two soldiers said putting his hands behind his back. He looked like he was in his early thirties, a little younger than Louis who was 37, but he was a full head taller. "I am Sergeant Major Yuri Kamorov." the older one said in heavily accented English and extended his hand. Louis took it reluctantly and shook it. His eyes immediately fixed on a long scar that ran from Sergeant Major Yuri's eyebrow to the corner of his lip. The next thing Louis noticed was his eyes. They were so dark brown they were almost black. It unnerved Louis just to stare into the seemingly lifeless eyes of the sergeant major. "Introduce yourself, Michelangelo!" Sergeant Major Yuri barked at the younger man. Madison yelped involuntarily and hid behind Alexis.

"My name is Private Mikhail Stasenko." the younger man said quietly removing his steel helmet and bowing his head slightly. He was skinny and shorter than even Louis. His eyes were grey and looked sad. "I apologize for our intrusion and I thank you for allowing us to stay in your wonderful home. I promise I won't be a bother."

"Do NOT apologize to these degenerates. They are the enemy. They are to be treated as such, Michelangelo." Sergeant Major Yuri said Michelangelo like he was recalling a bitter taste.

"I thought your name was Mikhail." Madison murmured poking her face from behind her mom's apron a little. It surprised Louis that his young daughter could pronounce the foreign name. Sergeant Major Yuri let out a bellowing laugh.

"Care to tell them why we call you Michelangelo?" he said when he was through.

Private Mikhail smiled awkwardly and said, "I like to paint. In basic training I'd paint landscapes on the sides of tanks. The rest of the men would always make fun of me for it and they started calling me Michelangelo. Like the artist." Despite his heavy accent Private Yuri spoke English very well.

"You like to paint! Me too!" Madison yipped.

"That's good. The world needs more painters. If it's okay with you papa and mama can you show me some of your paintings?" Private Mikhail said and looked up at Louis and then Alexis.

Alexis traded a glance with Louis before saying, "That's fine with us." Madison gladly took Private Mikhail by the hand and led him upstairs to her room.

"Such a weak person. If it was up to me people like him wouldn't even be allowed to step foot in the armed forces." Sergeant Major Yuri said frowning.

"Dinner isn't going to be done for another few minutes. Why don't the two of you watch TV in the living room while I finish." Alexis suggested as she started chopping potatoes.

"That is acceptable." Sergeant Major Yuri said. He did an abrupt about face and walked into the living room. Louis hugged his wife from behind to conceal the fact that he whispered in her ear.

"Did they search the house?" Louis said as quietly as possible. Alexis replied with a subtle shake of the head so only he could see. He kissed his wife on the cheek and headed off to the living room. Sergeant Major Yuri was sitting on the couch stiff as a ram round. Louis' thoughts immediately went to whether or not the Stovie felt the Glock 21 .45 ACP Pistol he kept under the cushion.

"So Louis," Sergeant Major Yuri started as Louis sat in the love seat next to the couch. "You've been in the military I see." Louis eyed the folded up Osean flag in a case above his fireplace and wished he would have put it up.

"Yes." Louis said as he turned on the TV. The usual reporters had been replaced and the new reporters wore red bands around their arms meaning they were Stovie lap dogs. "I was in the Osean Armed Forces in the One Hundred First Airborne Division. Served during the Belkan War from start until I caught a bullet taking Solis Ortus." Louis found no reason to lie. If he was correct the Estovakians already had a detailed file on him considering his extraordinary war time service record. He lifted his shirt to show Sergeant Yuri a ugly scar from where the bullet had embedded itself in him.

"That was part of Operation Varsity, yes. I was told we studied the operation and included some parts of it when we landed soldiers here. Why didn't you join the Emmerian military when you came over here?" First Sergeant Yuri asked jotting something down in a notebook. For the first time Louis noticed the Estovakian letters for FIA on Sergeant Major Yuri's shoulder patch. So this bastard was part of the Federal Intelligence Agency. Louis would rather have a platoon of regular Stovie soldiers in his house than one FIA soldier.

"I'm tired of war." Louis lied. "I moved my family here so we could get away from any future wars. Guess I picked the wrong place. Add to that I'm not seventeen anymore and I don't enjoy getting shot at like I use to."

Sergeant Major Yuri nodded and put away the notebook. "You will enjoy life under Estovakia."

Before Louis could say anything about how much he enjoyed hearing about his neighbors being taken away from the dead of night there was a loud knock on the door. He heard Alexis walk over and open the door. "Jack!" she exclaimed rather loudly. "You should have called earlier and let us know you were coming. I don't think we have enough food for all of us." Alexis' voice became cleared the closer herself and Jack got to the living room.

"Don't worry about it. I just came to pick up a jacket from Louis." Jack said as he walked into the living room. Jack Erwin was easy to describe. He looked like a politician. His face looked like it belonged on camera. He had a light brown hair and cool grey eyes. Not the sad ones like Private Mikhail had. These eyes were full of life and seemed to observe everything with great intensity. His chin looked like it had been carved out of marble and tightened up when he laid eyes on Sergeant Major Yuri. "Alexis said you had company but I never expected this." Jack said crossing his hands behind his back. Louis widened his eyes in fear ever so slightly. He knew that Jack had a Walther PPK in his waistband and he wouldn't be afraid to use it.

"The jacket is in my room. Come on." Louis said standing up. Sergeant Major Yuri's beady eyes followed the two of them as Louis headed up the stairs with Jack behind him.

"You never told me you had a fucking St-" Jack began but Louis shut him up with scowl as they passed his daughter's room. Private Mikhail was sitting indian style on the floor looking a lot like a big kid as Madison showed him a notebook full of paintings. "Not one but two Stovies." Jack murmured as they got into Louis' room.

"I know it's bullshit. They didn't quarter any soldiers in your house yet?" Louis said checking the hallway to make sure it was clear.

"No not yet." Jack said taking over watch of the hall as Louis went in his closet. He came out with an armful of high grade military explosives and a black leather trench coat. He shoved the plastic explosives into special liners on the inside of the trench coat and handed it to Jack. As they passed Madison's room again Private Mikhail called out to him.

"Mister McKellar!" Louis stopped dead in his tracks and poked his head through the door putting on a fake smile. An utter look of joy was on Private Mikhail's face. "I apologize for bothering you but I must say your daughter is showing great promise in being an artist. Did you teach her how to paint?" Madison was standing next to Private Mikhail doodling something on his helmet. For the first time since Louis met him Private Mikhail's eyes didn't look so sad.

"I'm afraid not Mister Stasenko. She gets her artistic abilities from her mother I must say." Louis said scratching the back of his neck.

"His name is Stas, daddy." Madison said still working on whatever she was doing on Private Mikhail's dome shaped helmet which was still on his head. She had her tongue poking out which was a clear sign that she was concentrating.

"Stas?" Jack asked poking his head in the door too. He muffled a laugh at seeing what Madison was doing.

"A shortening of my last name; Stasenko." Private Mikhail said as he smiled and nodded.

"Keep still!" Madison shouted and tapped the top of Private Mikhail's helmet. Jack openly laughed now and it was Louis who had to suppress a laugh now.

"Apologize to Mister Stasenko." Louis demanded sternly.

"Do not worry about it Mister McKellar. I have a daughter back in Estovakia about the same age as her. I am use to it you see." Private Mikhail said with a large smile on his face.

"Okay then. Well play nice with Stas, Madison." When Louis and Jack got back down to the living room Sergeant Major Yuri was cleaning his AK-74M on the coffee table.

"That took a while just to get a coat." Sergeant Major Yuri remarked as he carefully polished the barrel. When he looked up and saw just what kind of coat Jack had his eyes narrowed. "What would you need such a large coat like that for? It doesn't get cold for another few months."

"It's for my girlfriend." Jack replied with a smirk. "I like to keep my house cold and she complains about it a lot so I figured she can just where this around the house." Jack didn't miss a beat when it came to lying. It just added to his political like traits.

"That may be the case. You are free to go." Sergeant Major Yuri said returning to cleaning his rifle.

"I'll see you later, Louis. Thanks for the coat by the way." Jack said heading towards the front door.

"Anytime. You wanna get a beer before curfew?" Louis said following Jack to the door so he could let him out.

"No go on that. Alison wants to spend some alone time if you know what I mean." Jack said winking. Louis chuckled and opened the door for his friend.

"I'll see you later then." Louis said shaking Jack's hand. With that his friend draped the deadly trench coat over his arm and walked off. Louis knew that those explosives were going to be used to kill Estovakian soldiers. Jack would somehow find a way to smuggle the explosives onto a parade route or onto an army checkpoint before the day was done. He also knew that he was only one of many such men who provided Jack with explosives. He wondered how many more "coats" Jack would pick up before he did what he planned to do. Louis carried the thought with him as he went back to the living room and filtered out whatever the Stovie collaborators were saying on TV.

000

Later That Night

"Citizens of Gracemeria! It is now eight o'clock at night! Those without permits to be out past curfew must remain indoors! Those who do not obey will be shot one sight! Citizens of Gracemeria! It is now-" Peter Seth couldn't help but roll his eyes as the Estovakian message was repeated again over speakers that were now on every corner.

"Damn Stovies think they own the place." Peter said in a low voice as he pulled his black balaclava over his head. It took the sting out of the chilly wind that was blowing and helped block the retched smell of the alley he was in.

"Peter." Carter Griffin said pulling a dark green balaclava over his own head. "Technically they do own the city." This drew a dry chuckle from Peter.

"It's our job to make it just too costly for them to stay boys." Jack Erwin running a hand through his hair intentionally messing it up. The three men tensed up as Estovakian Ural-4320 slowly rolled down the street. Peter and Jack threw themselves behind a large garbage bin while Carter pushed himself up against a doorway. Peter's heart leapt into his throat when he heard the Ural stop. A spotlight pierced the darkness that shrouded the alley and scanned the area. Peter relaxed a little when someone barked an order in a language he didn't understand and the truck continued down the street.

"That was close." Carter said as they reunited. He looked at Peter and asked, "You okay kid?"

"Yeah." Peter said more to himself than to Carter. The truth was he wasn't okay. What had just happened scared the shit out of him. He couldn't let the others know they. They had enough worries about him considering he was only sixteen. That meant he hadn't had to report for mandatory military service like Jack and Carter had. The only reason they'd let him join the resistance was because they were hard pressed for members and he'd had some firearm experience from hunting.

Jack slung the duffel bag he had on his shoulder to the ground and unzipped it. "You have shot one of these?" Jack asked as he handed Peter a vz. 58 P Assault Rifle. It was one of the ugliest weapons he'd ever seen. If Peter had to describe it he would say it looked like a wanna-be AK-47. Peter pulled back the bolt and brought the weapon to his shoulder. It felt a bit heavier than the hunting rifles he was use to but he could manage.

"Just point and shoot." Peter responded lowering the weapon. He accepted four spare magazines that Jack gave him and shoved them in his jean pockets. Carter pulled a MAT-49 Submachine Gun out the bag and gawked at it.

"This thing has to be older than me. What if I pull the trigger and it explodes in my face?" the muscular black man said eying the MAT-49 like it was an Estovakian soldier instead of a weapon.

"If we pull this off we won't have to do much shooting." Jack said taking a flashlight out the bag and then discarding it in the trash bin. "And you needed something light if you are going to be carrying seventy pounds of explosives." Jack slug the other duffel bag he had onto the ground and rolled his shoulders.

"You are a complete asshole." Carter said as he slapped a magazine into his weapon and picked up the bag with ease. "What are you going to use?" Jack withdrew his trademark PPK and threaded a suppressor on the barrel. "Of course. You must feel like James Bond with that thing."

Jack laughed quietly and checked his watch. "Okay time to move." Jack said handing the flashlight to Peter. Jack put his pistol back in his waist band and nodded towards the two balaclava clad men.

Jack led the way through the winding alleys of Downtown Gracemeria. Peter strained to see Carter in the dark alleys. He switched from watching the ground in front of him to make sure he wouldn't kick anything and looking up to make sure he still saw the back of Carter's head. The balaclava that had once comforted Peter now felt like it was suffocating him. He moved it around a little making him a bit more comfortable. They trekked through the alleys for close to fifteen minutes staying clear of roads to avoid Estovakian patrols. Every once in a while a helicopter would fly by with spotlights blazing. When that happened the three men did their best to disappear into the shadows.

Finally they arrived at their destination. It was a medium sized one story building in the middle of the block. Large steel shutters blocked the wide glass windows that once displayed the shop's display. They needed weapons to get the resistance off the ground and this was the place to come. It was one of the few gun shops in Gracemeria so it had a large safe in back to keep surplus weapons. No one was allowed inside anymore but rumour was the Stovies were making their ammunition and spare gun parts in places such as this. It was supposedly easier to do it here than ship them from Estovakia so that part made sense. Also the Emmerian Army had left so many weapons behind during the retreat that the Estovakians couldn't store them all at the airbase in the city so they spread them out to places with safes such as banks and gun shops.

"Only one guard out front." Carter observed as he stared at the lone soldier from the shadows of an alley across the street. He stood there rocking back on forth on his heels smoking a cigarette. An AK-74M hung from a sling around his neck. "I'd say another ten inside working on the guns."

"We can do this. Move in as soon as I take this guy down." Jack said running a hand through his hair again. He plucked his eyes making them bloodshot and took out a vial. He pulled the stopper out and emptied the contents on his clothes. Peter immediately smelled vodka even through his balaclava. "Wish me luck." Jack said and stumbled out of the alley.

"Swing low, sweet chariot! Coming for to carry me home! Swing low, sweet chariot! Coming for to carry me home!" Jack sang horribly off key. Peter hoped that there were not any Estovakian soldiers around that would come and investigate the commotion. Jack sang another verse of the song slurring his words as he convincingly fell over and laughed. The Estovakian soldier trained his rifle on Jack and for a moment Peter thought that Jack would be shot.

"What you doing out!" the Estovakian soldier yelled in broken English slowly making his way towards Jack.

"Looked over Jordan and what did I see! Coming for to carry me home? A band of angels coming after me! Coming for to carry me home!" Jack sang as he slowly got to his feet.

"What you doing out!" the Stovie barked coming still closer. Jack's eyes got wide and he put his hands on his head.

"You got me. I plead guilty to public intoxication on the first account." Jack said and giggled. The Stovie muttered something in his native language and lowered his rifle.

"Papers. Need to know address so send someone to bring you to house." the Stovie said acting out the words so Jack would understand. After a moment Jack's eyes went wide again as if he'd just discovered how to turn lead into gold. He fumbled in his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. He went to give it to the Estovakian soldier but right before it entered his hands Jack intentionally dropped it.

"Can you pick that up for me, buddy. If I bend over I might fall." Jack said with a sheepish grin. The soldier muttered something that had to be a curse word in his language and bent over. In one swift motion Jack pulled his PPK out and put it against the back of the soldier's head right below where his helmet ended. Before the soldier could do anything Jack squeezed the trigger. Just as the soldier hit the ground Jack waved for the two others to cross the street.

"Fucking genius." Carter remarked as they gathered in front the door.

"It's not over yet." Jack said as he donned his own balaclava and picked up the dead guard's AK-74M. Peter's heart pounded as Carter kicked open the door. They stormed in yelling and screaming. "Put ya' fucking hands on your head!" Jack screamed pointing his weapon at a group of soldiers sitting at a workbench. One soldier ran from the back of the shop to see what was going on. When he saw the three armed intruders he reached for his sidearm.

"Don't you fucking do it!" Carter screamed briskly walking towards the soldier while keeping his weapon trained on him the whole time. The soldier hesitated for a second giving Carter the chance he needed. With a single punch to the face the Stovie was sent crumbling to the ground. Peter kept a close eye on the sitting soldiers daring any of them to move while Jack and Carter headed towards the back.

"If any of you move I'll waste you. Don't try me." Peter said trying his best to sound confident. His voice cracked and his hands shook. He was sweating buckets under his mask but he kept his focus.

"Fire in the hole!" Jack yelled as he and Carter came bounding from the back of the store. An explosion shook the building throwing Peter off balance. One of the sitting soldiers lunged at Peter and managed to grab the barrel of his rifle. Peter gasped and squeezed the trigger. 7.62mm bullet ate up the soldier's neck, disconnected the jaw, and obliterated the top portion of his head. Peter just stood there with his ears ringing. Carter was yelling something at him but he couldn't hear.

"The fucking flashlight!" Carter screamed right in Peter's ear. Peter snapped back into reality and tugged the flashlight out of his belt. He ran outside to a manhole cover in front the shop. With a mighty pull the heavy lid came off. He flashed the light three times in rapid succession down the hole. Seconds later several people started climbing up the later. Peter nodded to each of them as they climbed out and headed into the shop. Some were young like him and others were old enough to be his grandfather. The formed a bucket brigade and started passing weapons and steel boxes of ammunition down the manhole. The whole operation took a little over two minutes for them to get enough weapons and ammo for a platoon or so of men. Everything from M-416s, AT4s, AK-74Ms, M39s, RPG-30s, and M9s were passed from person to person making their way down the manhole.

"Cheers." the last man said as he disappeared down the manhole. Peter slid the cover back on and stepped on it to make sure it was closed. Carter and Jack ran out and met Peter in the middle of the street.

"What about the rest of the weapons?" Peter asked.

"What we can't have neither can the Stovies." Jack said holding up a detonator. A bullet cracked past Carter's head making him duck. Peter whirled around and pumped two rounds into an Estovakian soldier who was coming down the street.

"Let's get out of here." Carter said looking around for any more Estovakians. The trio disappeared in the alleys using a different way now just in case anyone saw them. Once they were a dozen or so blocks away they entered the courtyard of the apartment building that Peter lived in and went immediately to his apartment. Peter took of his balaclava and slowly opened the door. The kitchen was draped in darkness and no light came from any of the rooms. Good. That meant LeAnn and the baby was sleeping. Carter checked to make sure no one had followed them before closing the door and locking it.

"LeAnn won't mind us staying for a few days?" Jack asked as he collapsed onto the couch in the living room. He tore off his balaclava and sucked in cold air.

"No. I'll just say the military demolished your houses to make room for barracks or something like that." Peter replied in a low voice.

"How do explain these?" Carter asked tapping his MAT-49. Peter looked down at the vz. 58 P still in his hands surprised that he had almost forgotten he was carrying it. Peter collected Carter's MAT-49 and let Jack keep his pistol because he could conceal it easily. He crept into the hallway and opened a closet where they kept extra blankets and pillows. Careful not to make a sound Peter hid the weapons in the very back of the closet and covered them with pillows. He then put a blanket over the pillows for good measure. He went back in the living room fell onto the couch with Jack and Carter.

"Those soldiers still in their?" Peter asked quietly.

Jack just nodded at first. "Told them I mined the entrence. They'll probably had Stovies crawling all over the place now." He handed the detonator to Peter. "This is the first operation of the Emmerian Liberation Front. You did good kid. Do the honours." Peter squeezed the detonator and put it under the couch for now. A heartbeat later the entire apartment complex shook slightly. A heartbeat after that a high pitched cry resonated from his room. Every muscle in his body screamed at him to ignore it and go to sleep. With a defeated sigh Peter stood up and went to comfort his baby boy. On the way Peter wondered which was more stressful; fighting a military that had more soldiers, guns, planes, and just about everything else or being a teenage father. He decided the latter as he tip toed into his room with a warm bottle.


September 7th, 2015

Louis enjoyed a nice mug of warm coffee as he sat in the kitchen table just as the sun began to rise. He drank it black with no cream or sugar just like he did back in his paratrooper days. He didn't usually wake up so early unless he had work. His sleep was disturbed by Sergeant Major Yuri and Stas when they made a great commotion as they gathered their gear and headed out the house. Louis could see the TV from where he was sitting but for the sake of Alexis and Madison he kept the volume low and turned the subtitles on. At the moment he had it on the news where a petite reporter stood in front of a line of stone faced Estovakian soldiers that cut off the entire block. Every once in a while Louis would catch a glimpse of Stovies in the background carrying white body bags and loading them into trucks.

"In the dead of night," the reporter began stepping aside so the camera could zoom in on a decent sized hole in the ground. Louis remembered there being a building where the hole was but couldn't remember which one. "Armed assailants stormed into this building that housed Estovakian soldiers. After making off with an untold amount of weapons the assailants detonated a bomb that killed seven Estovakian soldiers that were inside and a further twenty –three soldiers that responded to the attack. Dozens more were wounded." The camera focused on a soldier who was sitting on a chunk of what use to be a building. He had his helmet off and his hands covered his face. The Stovie was visibly sobbing. "The military has said that they will find and punish those responsible but beyond that not much else has been revealed."

Louis grinned inwardly and took a sip of his coffee. He chose not to smile outwardly because he was pretty sure that Sergeant Major Yuri had placed camera spikes in the lower portion of his house. Louis realized he was wrong about what he thought Jack would do with the explosives. He figured that Jack would try to cause as many Estovakian casualties but instead he stocked up on arms so instead of taking a bunch of Stovies out in one blow and not do much after he could slowly bleed the occupiers dry. It was pure brilliance.

As Louis poured himself another cup he decided he wanted to talk to Jack so he could know exactly how he did it. Jack would be lying low for a bit so he'd have to wait a few days but when he could Jack and himself would take a walk in the park where the Stovies couldn't bug and discuss what had happened. For the meantime Louis was contempt with just wondering. He looked at the clock on the stove and stood up. He owed his daughter a trip to one of her friend's house and some ice cream today. With a tired yawn Louis dragged his feet up the stairs and started preparing for his day.

000

Private Yuri Stasenko sat down and hung his head in his hands. He couldn't take it. There was no way he could pick up pieces of people he'd known. Sure they weren't his friends but he still knew them. The thing that got to him more than the sight of people he'd known blown apart was the smell. The acrid smell of burnt flesh mixed with the harshness of nitrocellulose that now floated in the air burning his nose. He could close his eyes and for the most part shut out the sights of human remains scattered around like twisted Halloween decorations. He could not close his nose so the pulverized remains of his fellow Estovakians continued to flow through his lungs.

Before Stas knew it he was crying. He couldn't help it. His vision got blurry as tears streamed down his cheeks cutting a path through the pulverized concrete that had plastered his face. He tried to wipe his eyes with the back of his uniform jacket but that only got more dust in his eyes making him cry more.

What would Father think of me now? Stas thought as he just sat there crying. His father, the famed Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Stasenko, would probably slap him around and tell him to man up. Stas would bite his lip and try his best to hold back additional tears as his father would continue to berate him. Stas was partially glad that his father wanted little to do with him. His was also angry about it too. Colonel Oleg had pulled all the strings to get Stas a sent to the best war colleges abroad but he always managed to mess up. His last option was the 76th Airborne Division. Unlike all his other posting Stas was actually good at being a paratrooper. He'd earned his wings just a few weeks prior to the invasion. His favourite thing about it was the moment after the static line deploys and he was just floating there. It made him feel like a bird gently gliding downwards. His least favourite part was when he hit the ground and started fighting.

"Michelangelo!" one of the soldiers yelled. Stas looked up still bleary eyed. Sergeant Alexandr Afanasiev motioned for him to come by him. Stas stood up, shouldered his AKS-74, and walked over to Sergeant Alexandr. Stas looked up to Alexandr. Everyone did. The man was a hardened veteran of the civil war and personally took care of a total of six Emmerian tanks with only grenades during the assault on the capital. He volunteered to do so because if anyone was to die he'd rather it be him than any of the other men. He had the highest of Estavokia's awards, the Hero of the Federal Republic, and dozens of other lesser medals. The only reason why the 6ft 11in beast of a man was still a sergeant despite more than fifteen years of service was he frequently fought with officers and his general lack of military discipline unless he was actively fighting.

"Are you okay?" Sergeant Alexandr asked putting a large hand on Stas' shoulder. Some say when you're in the presence of your hero they seem like giants. That was exactly how Sergeant Alexandr was to Stas at the moment. Unlike most other airborne soldiers he just wore a telnyashka with light blue stripes. He wore it with pride too as only Airborne soldiers were allowed to wear the light blue striped variant. His forearms were as large as hams and on his right bicep was covered by a large tattoo of the Airborne's emblem; a golden eagle with wings outstretched, in one claw a lightning bolt and the other a bundle of arrows.

"Yes, sir. It's just too much." Stas said wiping the last of his tears from his face. Sergeant Alexandr patted him on the back and almost knocked Stas down.

"You will be fine, comrade. These are the things a paratrooper must deal with." Sergeant Alexandr cocked his head towards a group of Emmerian civilians that were being pushed into the back of trucks. "We are going to get our revenge though." Stas watched as Emmerians were forced out of their homes often at gunpoint and loaded into the back of trucks. Once the trucks were filled to capacity the rattled off and another truck pulled up so the process could start again.

"Where are they going?" Stas asked.

"They are being taken to the port. I heard we're sending them back to Estovakia to work in the camps and factories."

"Not the camps." Stas said jerking his head up. He'd heard enough about the reform camps to know he didn't want to go there. There were numerous hard labour camps set up in the northern icy northern part of Estovakia. The worst rumour he heard was that the detainees were dropped in the middle of a forest and they had to build the camps themselves.

"Would you rather they do this again?" Sergeant Alexandr asked scratching his blonde chevron mustache.

"I suppose not." Stas said shaking his head.

"Good. Now let's get you cleaned up. I think you need to rest." Sergeant Alexandr said wrapping a large forearm around Stas' shoulder and leading him off.