G'day everyone. I have writing on an idea I have been mulling over for the past year or so. I finally sat down and began to write something that was in my head. Essentially this is a prologue of sorts - but really it’s more of a test of my current writing ability (limited, as this is mostly my first attempt at writing seriously). Hence, it would be wonderful to have some criticism of the work below - I am sure I need it!
Light has a large focus in the theme, and the story kind of ‘begins’ with the sun ‘disappearing / turning off’ (which will make more sense later, trust me ). Anyhow, this is sort of an opening sequence to the idea.
Being my first serious attempt at anything (since high school!) any responses about anything at all would be much appreciated.
‘Funny how everyone takes the little things for granted. Then again, who would have thought we would see what we have witnessed in our lifetime? Most people thought it would never be something that could possibly happen. I mean, who would have thought something so... natural... could end so suddenly. I guess it caught us all off guard, but then again it wasn’t natural was it? I can still recall that day in early 2087. I was 23 at the time.’
‘Then’ LT J. DeCosta.
13 April, 2087.
2 Platoon, Delta Company, Royal Anglion Regiment.
Exercise Eagle Sorrow.
The day the sun died.
Clear open sky stretched over the canopy from each end of the earth. The morning sun was glowing ember in the East, its tips breaking the tree line’s silhouette. CPL Matthew Nailer tried to keep his profile low as he crept through the ferny covered floor, his matt-black assault rifle carried loose and low.
‘Move up to line of departure and hold’ the Platoon commander’s voice fuzzed through his earpiece.
Nailer relayed the order through hand gestures, his section complying swiftly. Their movement was deliberate, the target was close. Their combat uniforms moved freely over their bodies as they stalked between the trees, webbing fastened tight around their hips and rear. Hardened kneepads were fastened, ready to take the sudden impact if they had to go to ground quickly. He glanced at his map and raised his hand, halting Bravo section. The men scattered into cover, their mottled green camouflage blending with the surrounding plant life. He depressed his communications switch.
’One-two this is one-two-bravo, in loc over,’ His thick British accent transmitting over the radio waves.
’One-two-bravo this is one-two’ his commanders voice crackled back, ‘acknowledged, H-hour remains unchanged over’
’One-two-bravo, roger out’.
Nailer moved his section into extended line, his soldiers forming up on his left and right. They lay prone, weapons raised, their breath forming tiny puffs of condensation. Silent they waited. Nailer checked his wrist watch, just less than two minutes until H-hour – the moment the attack would start. Support section, call sign Delta, would be set-up in their designated location, forward of the platoon’s right flank, training their weapons on the enemy position. Their heavy guns would be sighted to provide cover for the assaulting sections to move through and clear the enemy’s defended position. Alpha and Bravo section would lead the assault side by side, whilst Charlie remained rearwards in a depth position to act as reserve. Text-book assault.
Nailer knew his enemy well enough to understand this fight would not be easy. His opposition would be dug-in and have every approach covered through a maze of crossed fire arcs. God he hoped Support section had serviced their weapons well this morning. A breeze picked up, leaf litter slipped along the forest floor, ancient trees creaked in protest.
One minute. He glanced left to where his second in command, LCPL Richard Jacobs, was waiting patiently. Jacobs’ eyes stood out through a face smeared in green, black and brown. A broad, white smirk split his cam paint.
‘Just under one minute Richard,’ Nailer whispered, ‘I need your –‘ his voice was cut off by Distant gunfire to the right. The radio filled with traffic.
’One-two, one-two this is one-two-alpha. Contact front, we’ve been bumped by enemy clearing patrol, over’ commander Alpha section, CPL Daniel McArthur’s, frantic voice came over the comms. Periodic gunfire broke the morning silence, the air crackling with discharged electricity. The breeze began to gust.
‘One-two-alpha, this is one-two. Roger, wait out.’ their commander’s reply was swift, ‘one-two-delta, fire on target reference point zero-one until last safe moment. Acknowledge, over’
‘This is one-two-delta, firing now over’. Support section’s distant location erupted in a hail of fire, their heavy weapons distinct barking reminding Nailer of bloodhounds on a hunt.
‘All call-signs, all call-signs this is one-two.’ The commander’s stern voice thumped through the comms, ‘H-hour, I say again H-hour, commence attack. Acknowledge over.’
‘One-two-alpha. Acknowledge over.’
‘One-two-bravo. Acknowledge over.’
‘One-two-charlie. Ack over.’
‘One-two-delta. Roger over.’
‘One-two. Good luck, out.’ The attack would begin early, in response to the enemy discovering their position.
Nailer took a final glance at his men, their faces staring at him for affirmation. ‘We’re advancing,’ Nailer strained above the thunder of gunfire, ‘by groups, assault go!’ His arm thrust through the air in front of him.
Motion exploded on his right flank as his assault group launched themselves off the ground. The four members of Bravo section’s assault group took several swift paces before throwing themselves flat several meters forward.
‘Guns go!’ Nailer’s left flank burst onto movement, each man remaining upright for a few seconds only before hurtling to the ground. Upon landing after their run the men crawled to covered fire positions behind rocks, fallen debris, plants, anything that offered some form of concealment against the enemy.
Each group took turns in advancing a ‘tactical bound’ until contact with the enemy was made, which never took long. As the assault group made their second bound PTE Simpson jerked rearwards and twisted, landing on his face.
‘Mandown!’ the call cried. Bravo section returned fire, the gun group’s LSW churning. Without an identified target the section lay down their fire in a wide arc forward in an attempt to suppress their attackers. Flame erupted from weapon barrels as expelled magnesium particles were ignited and supersonic rounds snapped through the air, the men’s assault rifle rail-guns able to accelerate projectiles at eight times the speed of sound.
‘One-two this is one-two-bravo. Man down, I say again man down. One casualty over’ Nailers report came through rasped breath.
‘This is one-two, roger your last, push through, depth section will collect the casualty over’
‘One-two-bravo. Roger out’
Assault group lay down another burst of fire as the gun group took another bound. The forest was awash with noise. Nailer could hear Alpha section in the distance to his right, the frantic calls of McArthur barely audible. They reported a casualty.
‘Two enemy, 50 meters, one o’clock, slight left of large grey boulder’ LCPL Jacobs screamed, his target indication identifying the first visible enemy pit. The enemy position was built from sand bags to roughly knee height and concealed behind logs, branches and leaves. The enemy soldiers were firing through slit holes built into their cover.
‘Seen!’ chorused Bravo section in reply. With a visible target, Bravo section began to take aim at the identified enemy. Within seconds the effective fire they were receiving diminished.
Nailer grabbed his comms switch. ‘One-two this is one-two-bravo. Over.’
Inside Nailer’s ear the comms piece chirped, ‘One-two-bravo, this is one-two. Over.’
‘One-two-bravo, we have encountered the forward enemy position over.’
‘One-two, roger, wait out.’ The commander’s words came in quick succession. ‘All call-signs, this is One-two. Bravo section has located the enemy forward line and will achieve break-in to their position. Charlie section, be prepared to move through and support the assault once break-in has been achieved. Alpha section, hold position and provide fire support on targets indicated by Bravo. Delta, maintain fire on Target zero-one. Acknowledge, over.’
Once Nailer had acknowledged the command he crawled through the foliage, the soft earth smearing across his legs and lower arms. Enemy rounds snapped over head. They had begun receiving fire from unseen enemy positions. He managed to shuffle to where Jacobs was controlling the gun group. The ferns parted as the LSW fired on their new target.
‘Jacobs! Go firm and prepare to cover the assault group. They will clear the identified pit and cover your advance forward to them.’ Nailer pointed to a fallen tree several meters to the left of the known enemy location. ‘Once the assault group has taken the pit move forward to that log and provide a base of fire into the depth positions of the enemy’s location until told otherwise.’ Nailer indicated left, ‘use the thicker foliage on the flank to conceal your approach and stay low.’
‘Got it, setting up now’ rasped Jacobs, his voice straining, perspiration running down his forehead.
‘Good lad,’ Nailer reached for his inter-section communications switch. ‘Assault group, clear that pit on my order.’
‘Roger that’ came the reply.
Nailer gave Jacobs a nod.
‘Gun group’ screamed Jacobs, ’50 meters, identified enemy position, 200 rounds rapid FIRE!’ The LSW increased its rate of fire, hammering rounds onto the enemy position.
‘Assault group, clear that pit!’ ordered Nailer.
In pairs the assault group began to crawl, no longer daring to dash forward. Within moments they had reached grenade range. Then the LSW stopped.
‘Shit’ yelled the gunner, ‘stoppage!’
‘Get that gun fixed!’ screamed Jacobs, ‘Come on! get it going!’
‘I’m bloody trying!’ A hard round smacked into the gunners shoulder. ‘****en hell’ he cried and rolled over.
‘Frag and clear!’ Nailer heard the call from the assault group. He watched as one of the assaulting soldiers rolled onto his back, a grenade primed in his hand.
‘Grenade!’ the warning call screeched over Bravo section. The soldier raised his arm to throw. Then all went black.
‘What the hell...’ exclaimed Nailer. The gunfire slowly died off.
‘All call-signs, all call-signs this is one-two. What just happened, can anyone see anything?’ The platoon commander’s confused voice came over the comms.
Nailer heard someone stand up,
‘What the ****?...’ it was Jacobs.
‘Bloody hell, thought I had died for real. What’s going on?’ the gunner’s voice came out of the darkness.
‘Hey!’ A voice came from the ‘enemy’ position. ‘What’s going on, whose playin funny buggers?’
It was as if the sun had just... gone out, or disappeared. Nailer stood up and brought his night vision goggles out of his webbing.
‘Not even the NVGs work. Nothing, no light, no ambient light... nothin’
He flicked on the torch mounted on his rifle. White light pierced the gloom.
‘Is everyone all right?’ He called. The section chorused their response, followed shortly by activating their torches. ‘Whoever was about to throw that grenade, make sure it’s bloody-well re-secured correctly.’
‘All call-signs, end activity.’ The platoon commander ordered, ‘Activate torches and move to my loc over’
‘One-two-alpha, copy that.’
‘One-two-bravo, roger over.’
‘One-two-charlie, roger moving now.’
‘This is delta, moving to your loc over.’
‘Bring it in bravo’ Nailer called, ‘Jacobs make sure we got everyone.’
One section closed in on his position. Nailer saw the ‘enemy’ activate torches and similarly begin to move, presumably to their commander.
‘Right lads, I’ve got no idea what’s going on. Follow me, single file. Jacobs take up the rear and make sure we got everyone.’ Nailer scanned his men with his torch. They wore troubled and confused faces. Once he had confirmed everyone had listened he turned and moved off, making a direct line rearward to the Platoon commander’s position, his men following closely their boots crunching in the undergrowth.
Their destination was behind where they had began the assault, Charlie section and HQ elements were illuminated by several torches. Someone, probably the platoon sergeant, cracked a flare and began waving it. The movement caused shadows to dance across the tree lines. Nailer saw Alpha section coming in from his left and managed to stumble into McArthur.
‘God its dark, I’ve never known anything like it’ thought Nailer.
‘Hey mate, what do you reckons going on?’ He queried McArthur, nudging his arm.
‘Dunno, but it’s got me spooked.’
You and me both.
Delta entered the position a couple of minutes later. Nailer could hear the platoon sig talking on the company net, ‘one-zero, this is one-two, what do you mean it’s just gone?’
‘Right lads,’ voiced the Platoon commander, LT James DeCosta, ‘If anyone has any ****en idea what is happenin speak up now. Maj Johnson has ordered end exercise until someone figures out what just happened... and where the bloody light went. So bring it in close, sit down and turn your torches off to save your batteries. Sergeant I want confirmation that everyone is here’
‘2ICs to me’ commanded the sergeant.
‘Right, let’s all just hope this is some practical joke...‘ LT DeCosta’s voiced trailed off.
Somehow I don’t think so...