A/N: I've returned.
Alnus Hill burned in the night. It burned in the way that nature intends: Completely, to the ground, doing away with the pretenses of the modern world and returning those and what would impress upon it to the Earth. The walls themselves, steel and concrete, melting away beneath fire that burned as hot as the rage of those that had called upon it. It was both the fire of God, and the fire of manmade implements that intended to do one thing, and one thing only: To destroy the enemy.
Three years, six months, and twenty-one days. D-Day plus 1298.
1298. That number stuck out in the mind of a dark man as he stood on the ground he had once witnessed a massacre on, beneath his very worn boots the bone and blood of several thousand men who did not understand him, or people like him. The greater of two evils came to clash on these fields surrounding Alnus Hill, and, in the irony of it, that man very much knew he now stood in their footsteps. Full-circle.
He dropped the hood made out of the head of a wolf onto his shoulders, the dark of night silhouetting him against the stars as four mechanical, fiber optic tubes had instead been mounted, slid down as he assumed the four eyed visage that gave him the ability to see in the night. Around him, others stood, dressed in the history of the war they waged. A woman wore an eyepatch over one eye as she flicked the safety on her combat rifle to semi, the stitching of a scar on her jaw present in the faded rune casted by a wood elf, now lost. To her side: a man, burly and roughed up, a brown beard complement to sideburns that had been held the sides of his face. He was only thirty, but he had lived one hundred years behind his blue eyes, thumbing in the last rounds into his shotgun as he rose one hand up. Like a chorus a procession rose behind them; the ghosts, the survivors, the wolves and demons that would ride into battle, one last time with them, cloaked in darkness, seen by fire.
"Good effect on target." The dark man had said into the radio attached to his chest rig, the fifty or so behind him that had risen from the dark, cursed earth, similarly donning the vision he had, weapons at the ready.
"Vegas Lead copies all. Give them Hell, Hitman."
The time was now. This battle was already won the second the defenses had gone silent and the fire had come down on the holiest hill of all the Empire, the screams of a foreign tongue echoing out into the night. They were screams many of them recognized.
The good doctor? The old man? The otaku? The natural born killer? Had they survived that long? Would they fight to the last against them? Questions that one of the men there desperately had wanted to ask God, but instead, uttered this as he walked, cautiously, to the dark man. He was a lanky individual, spiky hair, a slump to his shoulders that gravity seemed to constantly drag down. He was dirty, tired, bags beneath his eyes speaking to a great struggle, a journey that he had set out upon that had costed him very much.
"According to some people," he started, the dark man not even looking at him as the fire reflected all upon them. "Judas was a hitman."
The dark man turned to him. Irony, self-loathing, it dripped from the words that came to him, speaking from the Gospel. Judas, the betrayer, an Apostle, and then the hanged man. The dark man had thought for a few moments. Perhaps Judas was right to be called for with him. He would be hanged, if he had his choice. Though if he was Judas, then that meant, of all things-
"I will never forgive you, your sins." He said in return. "You're not one of us."
So it was like that… With a sigh, breathing in burning air, Judas had resigned himself to his fate, thumbing the safety on his battle rifle as he looked up onto Alnus Hill and saw the last vestiges of a Special Task Force be burned away. The Americans had a story, of a battle fought by dawn's early light…
The bearded man had another story, shotgun barrel poking into the back of Judas, ushering him forward as those held to him followed. He would be the first forward. He, alone, would lead the first charge in that final battle, and he did, dozens and dozens shuffling through, passing by the statue like forms of warfighters that had given their due, and were willing to let them die.
The bearded man had a story from before even the one Judas thought of. It went back into Gospel. "And he, bearing his cross, went forth into a place called the place of skulls: Golgotha. May you go with God. Inshallah." he spoke. In cruelty and in jest, in profession and in warning.
Judas had turned around, one last gaze out, looking at the people he had called friends once, at the people who ended up on the other side of the battlefield. "I was always, just, following orders… Do you really want me to die?"
In the distance, the beat of helicopters, the roar of tanks, getting ready to roll behind cover. Modern warfare would never stop. Not for anything, not for anyone. It would never stop, never, until it ate itself alive.
"We're just following orders." The one-eyed woman parroted, more than willing to shoot him, and Judas knew it. For all the death that had been because of them, it had turned the other cheek, finally. "Go."
So Judas went, his rifle up as he approached the fort which he had seen built with his very own eyes, burning down as the remains of the choking battle that had finally tightened around its neck had come forth, and he had been the noose that finally closed it. His followers had nothing more than spears, swords, maybe a hunting rifle if they had been lucky, but it was enough as he had scaled those destroyed walls and seen the blown open artillery and guns, hit by the airstrikes and artillery days and days earlier, unceasing, trying to force the enemy to surrender.
It would never be easy though, not as the heat from the fires came upon all of them, pausing them, forcing them back, a precursor to what truly had been the horror of that night. It was the only thing that could've happened, so many years after they came here. It was the right thing to happen, what was just and holy in that world ordaining it by consequence of Empire. For all his life Judas saw his people burn. No different would be today as he climbed to the top of the defensible positions of Alnus Hill and he looked down.
Dear God. As if the heavens had fallen, or Hell had been raised up. Little stars of white floating along as metal and flesh came together in a union that had turned the world black, buildings and men falling together as fire itself ruled.
And all at once, those who burned, dead men walking, trying their best to make the pain go away, had looked up at the walls at Judas, their eyes popped or blackened, and screamed at him.
They were burning. They were all burning.