AN: Trying my hand at something a little different today, a novelization of Woodland Snare, Chapter 8 of the Valkyria Chronicles Game.
Corporal Ramona Linton, leader of first rifle squad in Platoon 7 of the 3rd Militia Regiment, A Company swore softly. She hated trudging through the dirt, mud, and blood of the battlefield but Gallia had universal conscription. Thus even a model like herself had to become a soldier, well militia woman but what was the difference, and she hated every single second of it.
She had only disliked being in the militia up until a skirmish on the way to Vasel. Then she had really started hating it, that had been when she had killed her first person. Even today, three months later she still had nightmares. That man had looked so clear in the ironsights of her EWI-era Dekkish Short-magazine Leefield Mark III and she had pulled the trigger and ended his life.
But after that goddamned Imperial super tank and a supposed Valkyria which had, to put it bluntly, completely wrecked the shit of Platoons 1 through 4. She wasn't sure if they could win, Barious had indeed completely changed her mindset. She was in a Militia Platoon being led by the son of General Gunther and she wasn't sure if they could win the war.
Sighing, she pushed the thought aside and continued moving through the underbrush. Platoon 7 had been ordered back to Randgriz along with the rest of their forces which had deployed at Barious. Being that they had been in the best shape, they were bringing up the rear having packed up their base camp and were leading the logistic train home. Hence they were scouting the road ahead.
She sighed, the Lieutenant was being overly cautious about Imperials having gotten ahead of them. It was something that she didn't believe possible, after all the Imperials couldn't have gotten here ahead of them. If they had, then they would have been spotted by the other Platoons and a battle would have erupted, which would have resulted in them getting a distress message. Then again, we spent nearly a day making sure the Company HQ and logistic train was packed up. Guess I can't blame the man. She thought bitterly, a whole day could make a world of difference.
The night was more or less moonless, only a tiny sliver of moon shone in the sky. All she could hear was the chirping of crickets and the occasional hooting of an owl. She didn't like this all of a sudden, instincts that she had developed over the course of these long months screamed at her bad thing, why was she on edge.
She flashed a hand signal to her squad and slowly crept up to a large boulder that was just off the side of the dirt road they were creeping along. They needed to recon just another mile and then they could report back and move out.
So why was she so nervous all of a sudden? There was a feeling in the pit of her stomach and she didn't know where it had come from.
At that moment something shifted in the darkness. Black moving on black and taking the shape of a man. Without thought she raised her rifle and fired. The SMLF went off like an artillery cannon, fire blasting out of the muzzle. The man collapsed with a shriek of agony.
In response there was a braaap as an imp SMG blasted out rounds. "CONTACT FRONT!" she screamed as Imperial rifles began banging, heavy 7.62mm slugs shrieking through the air.
Vroomp! A bullet whizzed past her ear and she scrambled for cover. Other rifles were already cracking, the harsh booms of .303 sounded in her ears. She worked the bolt, the spent round leaped out of the rifle and then she slammed it home.
Braap! Braap! An Imperial SMG roared again, bullets thunked into her tree. She poked out from behind cover and fired her rifle in retaliation, worked the bolt and fired again.
Then the damn machine gun that all Imperial squads had started up, the weapon unleashed a horrifying thudding roar that seemed to split the air with its voice. Tracers slashed through the night like blazing comets as the machine gun continued bellow.
Gallian rifles continued speaking in response. "I think I can hit that machine gun with a grenade!" Private Dufour, a fifteen year-old who had lied about her age to enlist in the militia, cried out.
"Do it! Just don't throw the pin and not the grenade like last time!" Ramona roared at the Private.
"Okay!" Nancy replied as the machine gun stopped shooting. They only had a few seconds till that Beast was reloaded and would start raining hell down upon them again.
Ramona fired her rifle twice more into the trees ahead of them and watched as Nancy came out of cover with a grenade in hand. "Fra-" she began to shout.
The Beast started up again, the roar of the weapon filled Ramona's ears and dazzling tracers slashed through her line of sight. Nancy pitched forward with a shriek of agony, her left kneecap having been utterly torn apart by some of the bullets. Then Ramona saw Nancy try to throw herself over something and she barely heard over the roar of the imperial machine gun "Hope I can make it to heaven. Okay, I've got no sense of direction at all." from Nancy.
The grenade! Ramona realized with mounting horror, Nancy had pulled the pin when she'd been hit and had lost the pin when she went down! "No…" she whispered.
Then the grenade exploded with a muffled crump, part of Nancy's uniform was shredded by fragments that punched clean through her torso. Ramona had never lost a member of a squad and she didn't want to start now. But she knew deep down that Nancy was gone and no amount of ragnaid was bringing her back.
What the!? That was behind them! "Squad we've been outflanked! Retreat! Retreat!" she screamed, frantically looking for her bayonet and slotting it onto the end of her rifle. Figures moved through the trees, some fleeing and some advancing. She fired her rifle and one of the advancing figures crumpled amid a spray she couldn't see.
She heard more gunshots as that machine gun roared once again, bullets went scything through the trees. They thudded into trees and the ground, sending sprays of dirt and splinters flying as the bullets impacted.
Her rifle kicked once more at the Imperials, another man staggered and his SMG coughed at her. Then without warning a hand slapped itself over her mouth. She screamed and thrashed but the grip was like iron and then a knife plunged into her chest. It twisted and the world began to grow dark and muffled as the blade was yanked out, blood fountaining from the wound. She gurgled as tears slid down her face as she crumpled to the ground, her body spasming and failing.
Breathing became difficult, her mind sluggish. "Why? Why me… I don't want to die!" she choked out feebly as blood splattered out of her mouth. She couldn't move her head, she heard the thudding of SMGs and the crack of rifles. Struggling to draw breath as the world grew dark, a thought wormed its way into her mind. If none of us return, the Lieutenant won't know that we got Imps in front of us.
Then Ramona slipped into the shadows and her body grew still.
"By the Valkyrur." The leader of the Imperial infantry squad, a Shocktrooper said as gunfire finally died away. He stooped to check one of the bodies, a hunch forming in his mind. If these Gallians were part of the formation he thought they were part of, then they just got quite lucky.
He turned over one of the bodies, a younger woman who had tried to throw a grenade and gotten cut down by the squad's Ruhm machine gun for her troubles. More than one trooper had seen the woman then throw herself over the device which had then exploded. The woman's eyes were half-lidded, her face twisted into a rictus of agony with her chest having been thoroughly pulverized. She might have been cute at one point the Shocktrooper noted, but now she was just another corpse.
First he needed to give her some respect, he gently laid his fingers on her eyelids. They were still warm to the touch and he closed them gently before doing the same to the woman's mouth. Now she looked at least little peaceful, he dug his lamp out and flicked it on. The amber colored light properly illuminated the woman and he brought the light down to her sleeve. Sure enough, he found the regimental insignia for the 3rd Militia Regiment. Now all he needed to do was find the helmet which would have ancient numerals on it to identify the platoon.
He found the helmet nearby, several fragments from the grenade and dented its surface. But clear as day, inscribed on the light blue helmet, in white outlined in red was 'VII'. This squad had belonged to 7th Platoon, commanded by Lieutenant Gunther.
The fact that the Edelweiss wasn't here and was in the process of rearranging their collective faces seemed to indicate that the squad they had intercepted was on scouting duty. If they could hurry, they might be able to get into a position to call their mortars down upon the Gallians.
"If you find any blood trails, I want you to follow them!" He ordered his squad.
"Sir, what if we find any Gallians?" Private Fritz asked cautiously.
"Don't execute them, even if they are darcsens. They're to be taken for questioning, I want you to split up into battle pairs."
"Yessir!" The various Imperials broke up and began searching.
The Imperial Squad leader frowned as he found more bodies, he knew that the Gallian militia didn't mix squads like the Gallian Army and Imperial Army did. Judging by how the gallians here had rifles, this was probably one of the rifle squads within the 7th platoon.
He knew that a Gallian Militia rifle squad had ten militia members in it. All equipped with bolt action rifles, maybe the odd Royal Gallian Arms Factory Model 5, also known as the G-5 rifle which was semi-automatic and primarily used by the Gallian Army. After counting all the bodies, the Imperial Sergeant frowned, they had seven dead Gallians and two blood trails. Which meant that one Gallian had gotten away unharmed.
That meant that 7th Platoon would learn that they were in a blocking position and try to work their way around them. Not good, he had heard stories of Platoon Seven's accomplishments. Thus the thought of having to face that particular formation wasn't very appealing, particularly since that Platoon with support from essentially one other platoon of militia and a platoon of regulars plus a tank, kicked the Emperor's Demon out of the Kloden Wildwood.
Granted, that had been after the regiment he'd brought with him to protect the supply base had gone through a meat grinder. The leadership for the Gallian Army at the strategic level were incompetent fools, but the leaders at the tactical level were lions. It was sad to be honest, the Principality of Gallia could possibly hold them off, if only their strategic chain of command weren't incompetent monkeys. Lions led by monkeys was how he would describe the Gallian Army.
But the militia? They were different, while their skill individually was well below average for even Imperial Army conscripts, they were prone to making mistakes during firefights, and indeed on more than one occasion he'd seen them fumble ammunition as they'd tried to reload. But they made up for it with sheer tenacity. He'd seen them fight desperately and not retreat until their position was literally being overrun and even then had seen the militia fight to the very end even when they had no chance of winning. They were almost fanatical in how they fought to defend their country against them.
It was a determination that he felt that he had to admire.
Gunshots cracked through the night.
"Doubletime it!" He roared and took off in the direction of the shots. The machine gun team, running after him as they thundered through the grass.
More shots rang out, followed by the Braaap of an SMG answering what he was certain was a Gallian rifle. There was another shot followed by another burst of SMG fire. The blood from the Gallian was in drips and drops across the ground and undergrowth.
They quickly came across where the brief skirmish had been. The Sergeant frowned as he found one of his men dead, the Gallian dead, but where was Fritz? Should he be here too?
More shots rang out. "Dammit, we'll track down Fritz later! Let's move!"
The Sergeant never did see the fresh blood trail that went further down the mountain as he began a climb up it.