“Fuck…” He found himself watching the television to sleep. He woke up because the room was getting colder — the air conditioning lowered the temperature lower, and he was naked. He looked to the clock; it was about half an hour past midnight. At the moment, the television, which was still on, showed breaking news program. It was another reporter, but the news he brought was horrible.
“We just received emergency news that one of the military headquarters was just attacked by unknown group. I’m reporting just few hundreds from the base. As you can see…” the camera shifted from the skinny male reporter to the base behind him. They were capturing the unknown group — most likely terrorists — ambushing the military base. He could even catch the sounds of the explosions and machine guns. Having chills to his bones, he was pretty sure it was the same base Shepherd took him to.
Adam rose from his bed and slumber. His attention was poured fully on the ferocious battle far behind the reporter. “… it’s not really quite clear, but we can tell that the base were attacked. The attackers has surrounded the base, despite that they aren’t able to go in further, thanks to the advance weaponry of the base. There is no clarity on whose responsibility this is, or what the motives are, and the military haven’t given any enlightenment to us regarding the attack, nor the military base that is being attacked. We have no estimation on how many soldiers were trapped in the base. It is believed that the strike started…”
There was a sound of something passing around the reporter; it felt like a bullet nearly hitting him, because he ducked his head with fear and panic. “The attacked started around midnight, so the strike has been thirty minutes long. The military said that they are sending for reinforcement to aid and defend the base, but so far there’s no improvement. That’s all I can report, any development will be informed soon as possible. Brian Kipling, reporting.”
What Adam could only do was standing with cold sweat and chill at his bones. He didn’t really acknowledge them all, except probably Liron, but he couldn’t deny that he owed them his life. He could quite well imagine everyone in the base shouting to each other, even though they had radio, with any kind of weapons on their hands, struggling with any means necessary to fail whatever the enemies intended to do. With the reporter informing that the base was on their own and that the enemies were surrounding them, he was aware that the chance of their survival was low.
The breaking news program then ended, and the channel went back to advertising. Adam then looked to outside to the balcony. He didn’t know exactly where the base was at — the sky was pitch black, and he spotted nothing red and big, aside from the red neon lights at a hotel around. The night wind bathed his naked body with coldness, but it didn’t really bother him.
Looking to the city, he was automatically reminded to what Sorrell said again. His opinion became real and true, whereas what Liron regarded and believed about the people’s optimism sounded more and more to bullshit. This is not optimism. They just didn’t care, even though the Aurican Conflict had reached to their very own doors. Thought Adam.
He realized that two rooms at his left, were a man and a woman, getting laid at the balcony. They were also naked, and high that they didn’t notice Adam’s presence. Adam was immediately triggered to get back in, quick-bath for the second time, dress up, and went out. He had his binoculars in his hands.
It was the first time he drove at night. Despite that there were lots of stars at the sky — he regretted not bringing camera along — none of them was strong enough to lighten his path. He was completely driving in darkness, using only night vision from his binoculars. He didn’t want to alert his presence to anyone, and the jeep was quiet enough for him to drive in darkness. His left hand held the wheel, while his right hand held the binoculars on his eyes. With riding the jeep through rocky desert, about half an hour, his hands got tired holding both the wheel and the binoculars.
He even punched the gas full, even though it was dark. His eyes wandered around wildly to every direction, in case there was a rock or another hostile. The only thing he spotted so far was big rocks and some animals, like snakes and lizards. But he didn’t spot Liron everywhere; Adam believed that he shouldn’t have arrived yet, since he supposedly went back by foot. He didn’t even spot anything suspicious like a silhouette of a man anywhere. Where the blood is Liron?
Few moments later, he spotted a crowd of lights ahead. He stopped close enough to look ahead with his binoculars. It was apparently the press, waiting for any development of the attack. The lights was from about twenty press trailers, and light poles. He began to panic; he absolutely didn’t think of them. Damn it! If they caught me, I’ll be infamous! Thought Adam. His mind spontaneously imagined Vera’s reaction when she saw Adam in news program, and he immediately erased it off his head.
Soon enough after thinking of the press, he then thought of being found by the military, who promised to bring reinforcement, who was just as awful as by the press. He honestly didn’t like the idea of being held for lurking at night, even by the military. He looked around more warily, his head started to feel heavy and dizzy, just like when he was escaping from the previous three hostiles.
Adam stopped at a cliff, few hundreds meters from the base. He then lied down on the ground and watch the base from the cliff with the binoculars. There was no need for night vision, as the base was quite blazing.
The reporter — Brian Kipling, as he recalled — appeared to undervalue the enemies. Adam was no expert in weaponry and artillery, but there were lots of weapons and artillery, he could tell that they were hammering the base with meteor. One of the base buildings were burnt and demolished to dust and ground, and the others were still standing, like, at the ratio of sixty percent. The soldiers themselves were struggling to defend the base — they all were covered with dirt, blood, burnt wound, and probably sweat — but from the look of it, they could fall anytime. He spotted some soldiers carrying the wounded ones; there was one whose both legs and hands he couldn’t find anywhere.
The press was a much more calmer situation. They were a contradiction to the military base. The first impression he had from seeing them was that of a party in the middle of a desert. Adam knew they couldn’t do much to help, but he felt it was wrong to just sit in the middle of the desert and do nothing. He nevertheless admired their bravery for reporting the attack in close distance and showing their presence openly to the enemies as well.
He looked around. As far as he could see, Liron was nowhere to be found. He started to regret his decision as second by second passed by.
“What the fuck are you doing here?!” a voice said behind him. It was familiar, yet it startled him to death. He turned back, and found Liron standing one meter behind him. His hand held a pistol; Adam was almost sure Liron was about to shoot him.
“Liron! Where have you been?” asked Adam instead.
“Don’t change the subject! What the fuck are you doing here?” repeated Liron, as he stood up.
“I… I don’t know…but if there’s anything I can do to help…”
“Nothing!” Liron whispered loudly. “Bloody…! If there’s one reason for their attack, it’s about the three terrorists we blew up to crisps!”
“Then… then… then… we can use them… I mean, make them think we… we have them in our hands…”
“No! They wouldn’t bombard the base then!” Liron lied down on ground, so Adam followed. He took Adam’s binoculars from his hand. “There is someone or something they want to destroy!”
“Then… then we can’t let them do it…”
“Go back home! This is nothing to with you!” shouted Liron, still in whisper.
“I can’t… I can’t go back… I must do something!”
“Then do us a favor, go back, and save yourself!” Liron said. Then he said calmer, yet his eyes looked deeper and his voice sounded creepier. “Look, I don’t know how or why, but if they happen to acknowledge you, and what you recorded, you’re dead. I don’t have to mention the government and the public. Can you imagine what would happen then?”
A mere civilian accidentally caught in Aurican Conflict. Adam imagined the headline of the news of his own death. But when he thought of what he did, he came up with something. “Wait, do you think that’s the reason? Destroy the record?”
“I don’t know… whatever it is,” said Liron, and then stopped. “Go back home…”
“N-No! I’m staying! We’ll do it together!” said Adam.
“That’s an order! I don’t have time to take care of you!” said Liron. He just noticed that they no longer whispered, although they were covered in dark.
“Then don’t! You said it yourself! We don’t have much time!” replied Adam. “What’s the plan? I’ll do whatever you say. You have plan, don’t you?”
“You…” Out of the blue, Liron punched Adam with his elbow in the face. The punches made him nearly unconscious with horrible pain, but he could still vaguely see Liron dropping a pistol, and then left him.
He slowly stood up and gained consciousness. His sight was blurred, and he was sure enough his nose was bleeding. By the time he absolutely gained consciousness, Liron was already gone. He ran all alone by himself toward the enemies. Adam found a pistol at his left; he wasn’t sure with why he left it. He took it anyway, wept his nose — it was indeed bleeding — and followed Liron in stealth. From the look of it, Liron thought that he managed to knock Adam down.
While following Liron, he looked with attention to the pistol. He had no idea on why Liron left him with a pistol, or how to use one. There was only one button on the pistol, and Adam clearly didn’t know what it could be. He pushed it, while pointing the gun below; he made sure the pistol did not point straight to his feet. Apparently it loosened the magazine, which fell onto the left of his right feet. Okay, so it’s for reloading… thought Adam. He took the magazine from the ground.
Taking it from the ground gave him an idea. He put the point of the pistol on the sandy ground, and buried it with sand, about few centimeters deep, hoping that the sand would bury down the loud sound. He put then magazine into the pistol, and pulled the trigger. As the trigger was pulled, there was a small sound from the pistol, but it wasn’t from being suppressed. He realized that the pistol did not bang loud sound. He then pulled it out from the ground. The shot created a small crater of less than one centimeter with a bullet inside. It then unreasonably felt funny to Adam, seeing how everyone was so afraid to a small thing called a bullet.
He hid behind a big rock, about twenty meters behind Liron, who was about twenty meters from the enemies. He realized that they were more creepy than what he imagined. They were about a hundred men, each one had a rifle on their hand, with grenades and pistol at their belt. Aside from those, they had plenty of rocket launchers, like the one he dealt with, and about fifteen tanks lining up facing the military base.
It was the first time he saw a real tank, much less in a close enough distance. The size was three times bigger than the army jeep with huge attached rocket launcher. The cannon alone was approximately four meters’ long, and twenty centimeters’ wide. No matter how he looked at it, the cannon itself looked deadly, solid, and powerful. Every time it fired Adam could hear the deep boom sound from the cannon in loud volume. The power wasn’t strong enough to break down the base wall, which was stronger than Adam thought — one shot could only crack a five centimeters’ deep crater — but the wall itself seemed like it couldn’t hold them much longer. The machine gun above the cannon kept firing ammo nonstop, aiming the craters on the wall.
He looked at them all, as Liron did as well. Their direction was onto the base, yet it felt impossible to sneak in. There were several soldiers watching for the back of their formation, their eyes staring to the dark desert. The number was quite plenty and scary to stop any surprising strike from their back. As if it wasn’t enough, they all had rocket launchers, and something else he guessed was grenade launchers. So far, there was no weak point or blind spot for Adam to sneak in. Liron likely thought of the same, because he stayed where he was, still looking to the enemies’ formation. Adam began to regret leaving the binoculars behind.
Few seconds later, he looked that Liron immediately ran away from.where he was at. From the way he ran, he looked frightened. That was when Adam looked to the enemies.
Two tanks at the middle turned back. One of them pointed to a point probably where Liron was at, but the other one indeed pointed to a big rock Adam hid behind.
That was when Adam thought of radar. They must have found us in their radar! Thought Adam. He ran on response, away from the rock, just like Liron did, while cussing, “FUCK, FUCK, FUCK, FUCK…”
The shot hit the rock, and demolished it to pieces, with deafening sound. Dirt and small rocks were blasted all over the place, hitting his back. For once he felt the same sensation he felt back at the jeep chase. It was fear and pain of impact all over again, with a difference that there wouldn’t really be help for him, but he still could run as fast as he could. He looked back; the big rock was his only shield from the tank. He then looked to where Liron was at, but with the darkness and explosion, he couldn’t tell if he was hit or not.
“COME ON! THINK!” shouted Adam to himself, but there was literally nothing he could think of, other than running away. He tried running zigzag to mislead and confuse the tank, and at the same time, looked back repeatedly to see the tank. It was ready for the second shot; the cannon turned toward the direction where he was at.
A crazy idea came to him. He ran straight, lined to the cannon’s point. This time he didn’t look forward; he instead looked backward to his tank. As far as he knew, there was nothing like rock or a hole on his path to make him stumbled, yet he paced as fast as possible in wide and careful steps so that he wouldn’t be likely to fall.
It was full rely on his own instinct, under pressure of fear. Right when he felt they would shoot at the very second, he bounced away to left as away from the cannon’s aim as he could, and ran fast like a crazy man. He predicted that it took at least two seconds between aiming and firing, which made evading the bullet much more difficult than it should be.
The prediction was correct. The cannon ball hit with massive explosive power at his right. He still got the impact, as he jumped not far enough, but it was enough for him to avoid certain death. But his body was hurt quite terribly, just like the wounds from the jeep chase back then. He was getting sick and pissed with experiencing the same situation again, at the same time feeling hilarity and irony.
“AAARRGGHH!!!” His body was so in pain that he could barely stand up and run. The black hot smoke was enough to cover him from their sight, although it also covered his own sight. He looked to his body; he caught something like a blood on his body, but he couldn’t feel it because of the pain. He was nevertheless certain that he didn’t lose any arm or leg. There was no telling whether Liron was still alive or not; he wished he was still alive, and someone would rescue hum right away, because the next shoot would kill him off in an instance.
The smoke started to clear off. Thought it was still vague, he thought he saw a silhouette of a man lying on ground. He saw that the man dragged himself off with his hands, which seemed that he was in horrible situation. He looked at the tank targeting him; it was still pointed to him. He had no idea on what kind of radar they used to track them, but he had a strong assumption that the black smoke hid his presence from the radar, and by the time the smoke disintegrate, they would realize he was still alive. His pistol was still in his hand. It made him wonder in imagination if he could atop the cannon ball with a pistol shot.
The tank shifted its direction to something ahead further from him, as well as the other one, and then fired. The ball flashed above him quite far, but he could hear the sound of the ball shot straight to something else, as if someone swung a bat in front of him nearly hitting his head. He looked to where it headed, and found other tanks and helicopters. One of the tanks countered the shot with machine gun weapon, shooting evenly spread against the ball.
Are they military reinforcement? Thought Adam. He didn’t spot any flag, but then again, it was dark. The bigger problem was, he realized that soon enough the place became a heavy artillery battlefield, and Adam, with Liron, was trapped between them.
The realization scared and crept into his mind. Both sides fired with cannon balls, and both countered it the same way. Even more horribly, the cannon balls mostly hit to the ground both sides were facing toward, exactly — and literally — the spot where he and Liron was at. Each ball hit the ground and turned into huge impact of energy explosion, fire, and heat. In a way, it was like only-one-color fireworks, which was beautiful, but on second thought, he damned himself for considering the beauty of the blasts. Though the chance of them being hit was low, he certainly didn’t want to lie down at such place.
He crawled with his hands, and legs, toward the silhouette. His pain rose up every time he rose, yet he pushed himself and kept crawling, ignoring the pain. He even crawled as fast as he could, which probably worsen the wounds. Eventually in about three minutes — one ball flashed, nearly hit and blasted his head — he reached to the silhouette.
It was Liron. He was indeed wounded quite heavily, but that wasn’t the most scary trouble. He could see his lower parts from waist only to knees, and then it was a puddle of blood. He didn’t see anything else below that; Liron groaned badly and loudly, that Adam’s frightful assumption seemed to be true, although he couldn’t absolutely be sure. He wanted to touch his knees, to prove that what he feared was true, but with such dire situation, he put his pistol in his pocket, sat himself in front of Liron, and without further ado, dragged him along.
“COME ON!!” shouted Adam, replying Liron’s responsive scream of pain, before he could say anything. It was a slow drag, but he pulled as strong as possible, and pushed beyond his limit, even though his body was already in pain. He badly wished that the military would send someone to take them away and rescue them.
“STOP! STOP! STTOOOPPP!” said Liron in suffering. He rebelled against Adam’s pull, but Adam insisted. He had to kick his head to stop his resistance though only for a while.
“SHUT UP! I’M GETTING BOTH OF US OUT OF HERE!” replied Adam, louder as possibly than the boom sounds from the tanks.
“NNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! NNNOOOOOOOOOO! STOOOOOPPP!” Adam now believed that he did lose his legs, as he had dragged Liron for just about ten meters. He grasped his hands tighter and kicked his heads frequently; he wanted to knock him down, but he wasn’t dare to kick with full power. He looked back to the military reinforcement; he saw some silhouettes running toward them. It was hard to tell if they were friends or enemies, but he could only assume they would rescue them.
The ground exploded about close enough at his left. Once again the impact and the rocks hit his body. The difference was that he was to blackout. He could now understand why they said war was torment. Every centimeter of his body ached like being beaten by four men in a full hour, so his mind could no longer stay awake and conscious. The only thing that kept him conscious was his will to save Liron. He willed so hard to stay awake and continued dragging Liron, he shouted with utter frustration to the enemies, though he knew they couldn’t hear it, as response, “COME FUCKING ON, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES!!!”
Ten medical soldiers approaches them, as he counted, and without question, lifted them to stretcher — they lifted Liron at his armpits to his stretcher. Adam breathed with a bit of relief, as he no longer needed to drag and kick Liron. It was already amazing that they completely survived from the very middle of the battlefield. They ran away fast from from the middle of the battlefield. The enemies seemed to know it, because after being rescued, their surrounding was bombarded quite frequently, yet none of them hit bad enough to serious damage. They charged forward without fear and doubt, and without serious trouble, probably because they were already in safe zone, close enough to the military reinforcement. The lights lightened the flag of their nation, which was a simple big blue star with white plain background.