“Long live the Corps!”
Positioned on top of a hill not far away from the Capital was the 3rd Phasewalker Artillery Battalion. The battalion was part of the detachment sent to the UHC, but it wasn’t in the march across the city. Instead, it set up a foothold on the high ground.
This hill was a brilliant artillery position, with a clear view of the city. Usually, there would be sentries and patrols posted here, but since Ants couldn’t quite use artillery units, all those personnel were pulled away to the front, leaving this position exposed to the Phasewalkers.
40 M109 Howitzers were locked and loaded. They were aiming straight at the city below.
When the order came, no one hesitated.
Weapons operators were already given a list of coordinates of targets. These were the manned bunkers. The tank squadrons. The command centers. The barracks. The missile turrets. Anything and everything that could be an obstacle to the advancement of the Phasewalker Corps.
“All units, open fire.”
And that was exactly what the Phasewalkers did.
Governor Hanson was still looking out of the glass window. Behind him, his secretary, a pretty blonde woman with green eyes and soft skin, was reporting to him what was going on in the front.
“Following the first three Armored Battalions, the 14th Armored Division and the 19th Armored Division were wiped out. The 23rd, 8th, 7th, and 4th Armored Divisions were crippled. One of the Titan V is down. We lost multiple Mutants.”
Hearing the heavy casualties, Hanson’s expression barely moved. “And the Ants?” He didn't give a damn if Kenneth’s troops were marched to their death. All he wanted to know was if they could take the Ant horde to the graves with them.
“Their progress has been halted. Their casualties are equally high, but they have more reinforcements on the way.” The secretary paused. “General Kenneth has just pulled his flagship back to its hangar. Our sources say he has identified a leader of the Ants, and he is preparing for a surgical strike to exterminate that leader. The forces from Fortress Alpha were sent to board the Destroyer and participate in the operation.”
“Oh…” Governor Hanson frowned. “And here I thought that old fool would just throw them into the meatgrinder like he did to the idiots that follow him...no matter. As long as the Ants are dealt with, I don’t give a damn how.”
Governor Hanson was a politician. His field of expertise was dealing with people. Briberies. Blackmails. Political deals and maneuvers. The Ants terrified him for one simple reason: they couldn’t be bargained with. They wouldn’t accept surrender. The only thing that they understood was blood and steel, and that was what Governor Hanson was poor at.
Luckily, General Kenneth could deal with them. Once the Ants were handled...Governor Hanson didn't feel threatened by the general. The man had power, but he was shackled by his own guilt. His own sense of duty. Once this was all over, if he forced the general to give up power...the General would never risk another all-out civil war, not after all the atrocities committed. Likely, he would give up command.
After that, taking his life would just be the matter of sending a gunman.
That was when the sound of explosions ended his aspirations. The Governor snapped back to the window. Outside, the Capital was no longer the peaceful city it was a minute ago. Instead, it was a place of flames and death. A distance away, a tall building was blown up by some sort of artillery shell. The Governor recognized it. It was the cell tower the UHC put together for communication.
“Sir, all the comms are down!” His fears were immediately confirmed.
Before he could say anything, another shell exploded in a place way too close to Governor Hanson’s room for comfort. The politician snapped around and went for the door. Just before he could leave the room, another explosion rang out, shaking the whole house violently. Screams and chaos covered the entire building as an endless barrage of shells started landing.
Governor Hanson struggled to stand up. With another burst of strength, he stumbled out of his office room. Outside, dozens of officers were running around in horror. None of them had any idea what was going on. Who was hitting them. Why they were hitting them. Nothing.
Slowly, the man adjusted his glasses, which were almost falling off his face thanks to the blasts. He opened his mouth, about to chastise his underlings like he did countless times before. But this time, he would never get the opportunity.
Another shell hit, this time taking out a handful of the building’s support beams. That was enough to send the whole house crumbling down, burying the Governor for good.
Just minutes after General Kenneth was put down, he was joined by his nemesis in the world of the dead.
It has been said that the spirit of a military unit was the same as its leader.
The 6th Division might be the largest division in the UHC, but its leader was a corrupt officer who took bribes from the highest bidder. Perhaps once upon a time, he was a skilled commander, but that time was long gone. The only reason he wasn’t replaced by General Kenneth was because of the number of political maneuvers Governor Hanson did to keep him in place.
As a result, the 6th Division descended lower and lower into weakness. That was not to say it lacked the weaponry. As a matter of fact, they were frequently the first to get new gadgets. What they lacked was the resilience to adversity, the willingness to die for a cause. Not surprising, considering in the event of certain death, their commander would be the first to flee.
So when the 3rd Artillery Battalion started bombarding the city, the first thing they did wasn’t to identify the enemy artillery position and deploy rapid response teams to neutralize it. It was to hide in shelters and try to contact their commander. No one was willing to take the risk of acting on their own, getting defeated, and being used as the scapegoat.
Considering the 6th Division’s HQ was among the first to be blown up, along with the Governor’s office...it would take them a while to make contact.
The Phasewalkers struck way before that.
After five minutes of nonstop shelling, a significant portion of the city was in ruins. Whatever defenses that weren’t destroyed were neutralized anyway. Why? Because when the shells came dropping, those behind the machine gun turrets or anti-air guns didn't pause for one second before abandoning their duty and running to the nearest cover.
Not the best thing to do when enemies started marching in.
The blade of the Regiment was the first to make a move. Lines of Predator II tanks drove along the city streets as if it was a repetition of what happened minutes ago. But this time, all facade was off. This time, the true nature of the Phasewalkers was revealed. They were no longer the bringers of hope. They have become the bringers of death.
The 1st Armored Battalion moved straight for the Armory, where all the UHC machines of war were kept. Even in this time of crisis, the UHC still had more tanks and APCs than qualified drivers to handle them. Ideally, Major Nelson wanted to add these armors to his iron fleet.
Behind the 1st Armored Battalion, the five Support Battalions poured into the city. They, for one, didn't have a specific target to go after. Their order was simply to identify points of resistance and crush them with utmost efficiency.
To their credit, as ineffective as the unit was as a whole, there were some brave men in the 6th Armored Division. When the invaders were near and the bombardment had stopped, sergeants and lieutenants organized squads of UHC Troopers out of the cover and engaged the Phasewalkers.
Their valor paid off...just not the amount they might have hoped for. The slight skirmishes in the streets from these valiant troopers were responded to by the Phasewalkers by mortars and grenade rounds, as well as a combo of tank advancement and infantry follow-up.
Gradually, they were pushed back. Nonetheless, they did serve as a minor disturbance for the Phasewalkers.
“Go go go!”
Chelsea ordered as a squad of Phasewalkers turned around another street corner, making their way past a burning car and three torn bodies. None of the Phasewalkers gave the bodies the slightest glance as they moved.
Before the operation, after learning that Governor Hanson kept one of the largest UHC Divisions in the Capital, Ryan was concerned that the 1st Armored Battalion and the 5 Support Battalions would have trouble handling them. So he made some modifications with the units. The 4th Motorized was divided into a few parts. The 41st and 42nd Companies were merged in with the detachment tasked with seizing the Capital.
As the Captain in command of the 41st Company, Chelsea herself led a squad of Assault Troopers and charged in the front. She has always been itching for a fight, against Mutated Animals and human beings alike. No way she was going to sit this one out.
Two Assault Troopers raised their Defender-I and secured the area. Suddenly, just as the rest of the squad was about to move out into the open, one of the Assault Troopers suddenly collapsed on the ground with a bullet piercing his chest and engraving itself in the ground.
The other Assault Trooper quickly snapped back to the cover of the corner with a level of speed that could only be gained through endless experience on the deadly battlefield.
The wounded Phasewalker laid on the ground, groaning in pain. Just as Chelsea and the others were about to reach out to him, another gunshot rang out, ending the man’s life.
Chelsea brows turned dark.
“Sniper!” The Assault Trooper that survived yelled at Chelsea. He caught a glimpse of the shooter the second time he fired. “The red building on the right! 50 meters! 3rd floor!”
Chelsea turned to the rest of the squad.
“Use the smoke grenades! Form a path!”
The Assault Troopers quickly got ready. They were all elite Phasewalkers who had their fair share of combat experience. Even the few Generation IV Phasewalkers in the unit have personally ended several lives before.
One Phasewalker tossed a smoke grenade at the intersection. As the smokescreen blocked the line of sight of the sniper, four Assault Troopers stepped out into the open. Two of them simply threw out smoke grenades with their hands. The other two raised their grenade launchers and fired the grenades out so they could land further.
Within seconds, a path of smoke was created. The sniper was obviously panicked as he fired blindly into the smoke, attempting to scare the Phasewalkers off.
Hearing the random gunshots, Chelsea glanced at her troops and grinned in excitement.
“For the Corps!”
The Captain was the first to jump out into the smoke path as she led the charge at the house. Sensing someone coming his way, the sniper got even more panicked. He prayed for luck to guide his hand, but luck wasn’t on his side. Every shot he blindly fired missed.
Chelsea smashed her way through the door of the house that the sniper was in. Leaving the Assault Troopers to handle the survivors who were cowering behind a sofa, she leaped onto the second floor. There were several people hiding there. Once again, she ignored them and charged onto the third floor.
There, at the window, a man quickly dropped the sniper rifle he had set up against the window and drew a Gauss handgun. Not the standard-issue Defender-C, but some other cheaper variant. He was ready, likely because he heard the sound of her coming up the stairs. As a result, he got the draw first.
The problem was...he missed all the shots he took.
The sniper likely never had any experience of enemies getting so close to him. He was so used to picking off foes from a safe distance away that when the enemies were able to put him in their sight, he felt terrified. As Caitlin charged at him, his hand shook, and he missed.
That was his mistake. The mistake that would cost him everything.
Chelsea opened fire, and she didn't miss. After two bursts of rounds from her Defender-C, the sniper collapsed in a pool of his own blood, much like the Phasewalker he sniped just minutes ago.
The rest of the Assault Troopers reached the third floor and secured the area.
Chelsea knelt down beside the dying man. A vicious smirk was on her face as she faced her defenseless prey.
“Did you know this was going to happen when you shot at my men?”
The sniper held his teeth tight and didn't answer. Annoyed, Chelsea stood back up before raising her feet and stepping down on the man’s bullet wounds with her army boot. The man screamed as more blood dripped out of his mouth. A sickening smile found its way onto Chelsea’s face as she watched his expression twitch in excruciating agony.
“This is what you get for resisting us! Scum!”
Suddenly, a woman ran up to the third floor. Fear was in her eyes, but also concern. As soon as she got up, her eyes landed on the man Chelsea had under her boot. She tried to reach him, but an Assault Trooper blocked her and forced her to stand back.
The sniper saw the woman as well. His eyes widened in horror as he shook his head, urging for the woman to leave. Chelsea glanced at the woman and then back at the sniper again before grinning.
“He’s your husband?” She asked.
The woman nodded, despite every attempt to stop her by the dying sniper.
Chelsea slightly lifted her boot.
“Any last words?”
“Please…” The woman begged. “please...show mercy!”
“Your husband shot at my men. He killed one of us. And you’re asking me to show mercy? Plus,” She nudged her boot. “even if I don’t kill him now, he’ll be dead in a day. Oh, and also!” She snapped back at the woman. “I was asking if you have any last words for the world before I execute you.”
“Captain,” One of the Assault Troopers frowned at the notion. “she's a civilian. She doesn’t pose a threat.” He was fine with Chelsea torturing a sniper who killed one of their own, but the woman? What did she do?
Chelsea snapped back at the trooper. Fierceness was in her eyes. “She is the wife of an enemy of the Corps. She was in the same building when he attacked us. She watched him put one of us in his sight and she did nothing. That makes her an enemy.”
She snapped back and stared the woman in the eyes. There were a lot of things in Chelsea's gaze. Frenzy. Zeal. Satisfaction. The only thing that wasn't there was mercy.
"Here's the thing, local..."
“For our enemies, for those who seek to stop us from our cause, they don’t deserve mercy. They don’t deserve humanity. The only thing they deserve is the cleansing of death. Cleansing that we, proud warriors of the Phasewalker Corps, shall deliver to them!”
With that said, she raised her Defender-C and shot the woman in the head before turning back to the sniper on the ground. Staring into the eyes full of hatred, the woman smirked in ecstasy.
“For the Corps!”
Red blood stained the wooden floor.