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Old 2010-01-22, 16:13   #1
Herbiie

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Default Fist of Iron. (Short Story - finished)

Hey Y'all, I finished my story that I started ages ago xD if you guys like I'll write more

Note: I'd just like to say that the Qinling Mountains are a real place, so try not to think of this as that map. Also some of the technology doesn't exist - but it's set in the future and it's only a story so yer :P

FIST OF IRON


He hadn’t signed up for this. He realised now that the posters, the radio adverts, the stalls in the street, everything, were no more than propaganda. He’d left his job, his fiancĂ©, his daughter, for this. This wasn’t the heroic, romantic warfare he had been lead to believe. No. The heat was unbearable; his clothes were drenched in sweat. His world was a small metal box, one of the hundreds of battle tanks that were deployed all along the Qinling Mountains. Over three hundred Challenger 2s. Feared by the PLA, it was a sixty-two and a half ton behemoth. A heavily armoured vehicle, moving across the rough ground of the mountains faster than any other tank like it. It’s cannon was rifled, and could destroy enemy armour up to two miles away. Martin Wilson was a gunner in one of these man-made metal monsters.

He’d been in China for four long weeks now. He’d fought at the battle of X’ian, just north of the mountains. Not that he did much fighting. By the time his unit had gotten into position the enemy armour was in full retreat, their infantry not far behind. He hadn’t even fired a shell. Now his tank – which the crew had named Big Jodie after the commander’s wife – was concealed under camouflage netting, barely visible, covering the valley to make sure the Peoples Liberation Army didn’t try to counter attack, and to cover the garrison in the village next to the lake. They’d been here for 3 weeks. The enemy never came. They didn’t leave their vehicle except to take in the supplies that were dropped off at the start of every week. Horrible “Rat Packs”, designed to keep a soldier going no matter where he was, not designed to taste nice. Jerry, Martin’s loader, and closest friend, loved them for some reason. Their commander, simply known as Griff, was a veteran soldier. He’d done tours of Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Northern Ireland. He knew every dirty, underhand trick, he could usually fix minor problems on Big Jodie fairly quickly, even under fire, and he always knew where to get more Rations.
“Got a choice here lads, Bacon and beans, Sausage and Beans, Burger, and beans. Or just beans.”
“Hard one Griff, I’ll go for the Bacon.” Replied Bill, the driver. The rations were handed out and the gas strove was lighted.
“Also, I’ve got a nice treat for you, lads.” Said Griff, smiling down from the hatch, where he was struggling to get his bulky body inside the tank. When he was finally in, he reached outside, and brought back down a black box. He opened it. There was a mini fridge inside.
“How the hell did you get a Mini Fridge?”
“Found it.”
“So you stole it?”
“Something like that, anyway let’s turn it on and we can have some nice cold water!” A few hours later, rations eaten, the crew were playing cards, enjoying cool water, and a disastrous attempt at Ice Tea, while Bill was on watch, making sure the PLA didn’t try anything sneaky. They wouldn’t. They never did. They were probably in a nice air conditioned barracks waiting for the British to attack by now.

Another week passed. Then another. There was virtually no sound in the mountains, save for the singing of the birds, the tank’s engines were all off, they were running on smaller electric generators to power the cooking facilities. Occasionally, the repeating chop of a Helicopter’s rotor blades seared through the valley like a spear, the only reminder to the men of the terrible war that was still going on. The only highlight of the long, boring, hot wait occurred when Martin was on watch. The low rumble of engines growled around the mountains. Martin stared through his binoculars towards the Chinese line. He couldn’t see anything. The rumble grew louder and louder, until Martin finally saw the source of it. A column of tanks and trucks was driving slowly along the road, towards the Chinese. They weren’t British. Martin called Griff up, who said they were Americans. The line of dark green vehicles stretched into the distance, all the way to the Horizon. It took four hours for the column to pass. Then silence reigned once more.

Three more days passed. Then it began. Dull thumps sounded from the direction of the PLA. Constantly. Griff knew what it was.

“Gun fire. Probably the yanks getting in a spot of bother. Doubt we’ll have to do anything.” He stated. Then the dull thumps were accompanied by the terrifying screech of Artillery rounds whizzing over head, fired from the Command centre in a fortified farm to the north east. The sound of jet engines pierced the din every hour or so, and the familiar sound of helicopters was common. The war was slowly becoming more and more real as the days trickled by. Yet still, no sign of the Chinese.

The sounds of the terrible battle being fought was loud in the soldier’s ears for months, so long that they grew used to it. Five long months after the battle began, something was happening in the valley. A Chinook helicopter was coming through, flying low. It’s rear blades were smoking. It didn’t seem to be able to fly in a straight line; it kept zigzagging from side to side. Then it hit the ground. An almighty explosion pierced the air. The crew of Big Jodie looked on in silence, until a voice crackled through the radio.
“Stand to, all units stand to, cover the recovery team.” The crew ran back to their stations. They were not needed. A few Jackals drove over to the crash site, followed by a pair of Lynx helicopters and a Samaritan armoured ambulance. The downed helicopter stayed there until the end of the war, a grim reminder of what the men’s fate could be.

Then everything was back to normality. Another two months passed. Gradually the gun fire petered out, and no more shells, jets, or helicopters flew over head. A strange silence floated around the tanks. No one spoke. Then, after two days, the American column returned. This one took barely a minute to pass.

Another day came and went, then early one morning, as the crew were shaving and having breakfast, Griff was told over the radio that intelligence suggested that the PLA, buoyed up by their victory over the Americans were preparing to attack. The crew gathered as much supplies as they could find, did a final check on the Challenger’s camouflage, then closed her hatches and waited inside.

An hour passed. Two hours. Three. Then, for the first time in Martin’s life, someone was shooting at him.


The first shell slammed forcefully into the mountain side, barely fifty metres to the right of Big Jodie. Mud and rock flew through the air. Martin closed his eyes. He could hear the shrapnel and debris knocking against the side of the Challenger. It sounded like rain on an umbrella, or a car roof. A screech followed by a huge explosion marked the second hit. More rain. Martin was trying to stop his imagination. But it was no use. All he could think about was what would happen if one of the shells hit. Another screech, another boom. They were coming every second now. With every scream the image of twisted metal - of blood and guts – flashed across Martin’s brain. Bill looked through the driver’s screen.

“Jesus, the village is being hit hard, they’re already bugging out...” his voice trailed off in dismay. Bill’s hand reached inside his top pocket, fingering the last letter he had received from his wife. Jerry opened up one of the shell containers, and took out a picture of his beautiful girl back home. Martin was stroking the locket that was hung on his ID tags. Inside a picture of Alice, his fiancĂ©, and Ani, his daughter. Both beautiful blue eyed brunettes. A tear dripped onto the cold metal floor of the tank. Griff had the legendary “thousand mile stare” that was common amongst soldiers at war. Staring into nothing, lost in deep thought. For a whole hour each man was in his own world. Griff broke the sad silence.
“Who’s turn is it to be on watch?”

***

Martin slept.
Martin awoke. It took him a while to figure out what was wrong. He was in soft, pure, white, linen sheets, looking up at a very familiar ceiling. It took him even longer to remember that it was the ceiling of his bedroom, at home. He relaxed a little, and looked at the girl lying next to him. It took him no time to recognise her. He stroked Alice’s hair. She finally responded to the petting after ten minutes or so. She smiled her cute little smile at him, and kissed his nose. Martin smiled back. He was home. At least, he thought he was. Something wasn’t quite right. They kissed. Something still wasn’t right. They kissed again. Martin finally worked out what was wrong. He was still in his grimy uniform, and was still filthy. This confused Martin. Then Griff walked into the room.
“Oi, Martin, your turn on watch, get up you lazy arse!”
Balls. Martin thought.

Martin awoke, to an altogether more uncomfortable reality. Griff gave him another kick.
“Up. Now. Your watch.” Martin grudgingly got up, and peered through the many sights that adorned the turret of the battle tank, still grumbling. The artillery had eased off slightly, though the PLA seemed prepared to level the entire mountain. Martin could see nothing, like usual. Occasionally he thought he could see heat signatures of enemy infantry, but assumed they were just animals. Certainly nothing to worry a mighty Challenger 2.

Dawn broke over the mountains. It gave each explosion a golden outline. It would be wonderful, if it wasn’t so deadly. The Peoples Liberation Army was still shelling the mountain side. A handful of Challengers had gone down, more were badly damaged. During the night some Chinese soldiers had patrolled into the village. The tanks had kept quiet. From the random shots from the artillery, command had decided that the location of the British armour was still unknown to the enemy. AS90s attempted to return fire with the PLA howitzers. Intelligence suggested that the PLA had over two hundred 155mm cannons raining death onto the British line. They also estimated at over a thousand enemy type 99s, the PLA’s Main Battle Tank. The Challenger 2s outclassed them now by far, but to the PLA, numbers were everything. Life hadn’t changed much in the belly of Big Jodie. Sad silence, interrupted by gloomy conversations. As the hours dragged on and on the war became more and more pointless. No one knew why they were there. Why the war had started. No one really cared. All anyone, including Griff, wanted to do, was go home.

Throughout the day the deadly barrage laid it on heavily, but the crew were already used to it. The fear that had numbed them the day before was subdued. Jerry was on watch. He caught a glimpse of something moving, behind a ridge. A barrel, a turret. A Type 99.

“Oh god, Enemy Armour sighted, seven-hundred metres, quarter left, stand to!” the crew rushed to their positions, Griff looked through his sight.
“I see it, aim for the edge of the hill, wait my order to fire.” He pushed the send button on the radio console, “Bravo Mike 0, this is Brave Mike 1-2, enemy sighted behind ridge November, over.” A few seconds pause.
“Roger, all units fire when ready, I say again, fire when ready. Out.”
“Up!” Shouted Jerry, as the shell was pushed into the chamber. The engine roared into life. Big Jodie was ready for a fight. Seconds tricked past. The rest of the Challenger 2s started up. Adrenaline was pumping through the crew’s veins. A minute went. Then two. Then Martin saw the hull of the Type 99. He identified one of the weak spots, and fired.

Martin’s vision blurred. The pressure of the explosion made his ears pop and ring. He heard an incredibly faint crump, as the APFSDS round slammed into the Chinese tank, blowing a huge hole in it’s side, rendering it useless.

“Up!” Martin shook his head and stared into the sight again. He couldn’t see anything. He heard another challenger fire. Then another. Then silence.

“Cease fire, all units cease fire, their pulling back, good job lads. Out.” Martin closed his eyes again, and took a deep breath. There was a new feeling in Big Jodie. This was what they were there for, to fight the enemy, and to win. The men buzzed with anticipation, staying at their posts long after the order to stand down was given. They knew the enemy were there. The enemy knew they were there. It was only a matter of time before the Chinese launched another assault. The hours flew past.

An almighty explosion caused the tank to shudder. Another explosion, and more of the mud rain.
“What was that! What the HELL was that?” Yelled Bill,
“I don’t know I don’t know! Everyone check systems!” Griff screamed, and the crew busied themselves trying to find faults.
“Everything’s good. What was that?” said Martin,
“All stations this is Bravo Mike 1-2, what the hell just hit us? Over.” Griff calmly questioned over the ‘net.
“I think it was a missile, probably launched from the village, your deflector blew.” The deflector was a type of armour, which, when it sensed a missile coming towards it, fired, deflecting the missile away from the tank. “I suggest you change position, quick, before another one gets you. Over.”
“You heard him, Bill, get us out of here.” They reversed over the crest of the hill, and back towards the forward headquarters. They got out of their tank, and into a strangely calm world. Though they were barely eight hundred metres away from the front line, it seemed very distant. For the first time in too long, the men were able to stretch their legs as they replaced the blown deflectors. Griff disappeared into the commander’s tent, and the men relaxed on the tank, smoking, and waiting for orders. Griff reappeared half an hour later, with details of a new position to move into.

That night they drove along a re-entrant to the new position, hiding themselves from the Chinese. When they got there, they switched the engine off as quickly as possible, and put up new netting. By morning Big Jodie was invisible once more.

Two more days passed without incident. Another missile slammed into their old position, to persuade the crew not to return there. Their new position, however, was better, and they identified where the enemy who had fired the missile was. Three high explosive shells blew the position to pieces. The artillery eased off once more, with only a few rounds hitting every hour. British Jets and helicopters attempted to target Chinese positions, but were dissuaded by the enemy AA systems. The PLA’s own air support was facing similar trouble from the Rapier 3 missile systems the British had. Night came. Martin slept once more.

He was dreaming of Alice and Ani regularly now, dreaming of simple things such as the breakfast table, or taking Ani to school. She was nine now. The mail had arrived a couple of times since the start, and with one of the letters Alice had sent him was a picture of Ani’s birthday party. He looked at it every now and again. He feared not recognising his family when he got home more than he feared being killed. Sometimes he wondered if Alice had a new man by now, occasionally he wished she did. He felt that he should never have come out here in the first place, that he should never had abandoned his family. He wrote back to his loved ones every day, yet could only send the love-filled letters whenever the mail arrived for him. He cursed at himself for leaving them, they were his world. He had no other family, and before he joined the Army no real friends to speak of.

Martin had grown up on a council estate. He’d known Alice since he was 5 and she was 3. He used to look after her when she was Ani’s age. She used to follow him everywhere, she even followed him to University. Their romantic relationship was a long one, all starting from a kiss in the rain under a tree in the quad. He could still remember what happened. He even dreamt about it sometimes. It was winter, and they were at school, hanging around in the grassy area known as the quad, and it had turned from a beautiful day to a monsoon in the blink of an eye. Alice had seen him sitting under a tree, and run over to cuddle up to him. She’d been doing this whenever she was cold for as long as either of them could remember. He’d put his coat around her to keep her dry, and they’d just stayed there, until she looked up at him, and he kissed her. From there, there were more kisses, and when Martin was twenty nine, Ani came. The little girl brought a new joy into Martin’s world, even though everyone else’s was falling into ruin.

***

Something was strange. It was quiet. No engine noise, no artillery, not even any bird song.
“Stand To! All Units Stand To!” was the order, given by a cracking, panicky voice. Martin rushed to his gunner position, and looked through the sight. Type 99s without number were pouring across the valley, firing shells as they went.
“Wait for the order to fire, easy lads!” commanded Griff, in a soothing voice. This was it. The Chinese counter attack. “Fire!”.

Martin pressed the dark red button marked ‘fire’ and Big Jodie shook with the recoil. The shell missed and showered one of the PLA tanks in mud.
“Up!” shouted Jerry, and Martin fired again, this time on target, turning the piece of armour into a smoking wreck. Another explosion rocked the Challenger II, but Martin kept firing the cannon, taking out no less than four Type 99s in a matter of minutes.

For an hour the Challengers fired down into the valley. The Type 99s were finding it hard to find their enemy, and to fire at them while moving so quickly. When they were half way across the valley, they faced more problems. Their turrets wouldn’t elevate far enough to fire at the challengers. Shells rained down on the weak top armour. It was a slaughter. Then they began to fall back, and a single command was given to the British armoured units.

“Advance.”

Bill sent Big Jodie crashing forward, the camouflage netting ripping when faced with the immense power of the Main Battle Tank. Martin fired again, but missed. All along the valley, tanks were moving towards the panicking Type 99s. Their crewmen greatly feared the challengers, seeing their shells simply bounce off then time and time again. Every now and again each tank would be engulfed in flame and smoke as it’s massive 130mm cannon fired death itself into the PLA lines. Occasionally a Type 99 fired back. Missiles from Chinese Infantry also fired, but most of the men were fleeing.

The tanks were unstoppable. PLA jets and helicopters were seen off by rapier missiles. Big Jodie flew over the ridge once held by the Chinese. The rest of the armoured division also occupied the position. What they saw on the other side was a well planed armoured ambush. Type 99s without number were in well prepared positions, and an almighty tank battle began.

The line of Chinese MBTs fired almost simultaneously. Yet a British Armoured Division is a formidable creature, even when taken by surprise, and this one returned fire with everything it had. The British tanks worked in pairs, advancing together, using smoke to hide their approach. Despite using superior technology and tactics, the British were slowed by the sheer weight of shells slamming into them.

Big Jodie stopped. Martin looked down the sight, and fired again. He turned the turret to the right, and saw a flash as a Type 99 fired.

A second later he was thrown back in his chair.

He couldn’t see. He could feel unbearable heat on his shins. He could hear Griff calling to him and the crew to grab their carbines and get out. After prodding around himself, he managed to get a grip on his rifle, as he did so he felt a hand grab his shoulder, and pull him out of the burning wreck of Big Jodie.
Martin looked around him, he could see his crew-mates firing at the Chinese infantry who had moved up to harass crews forced to abandon their vehicles. He could see Big Jodie with smoke pouring out of the hatches. His ears were ringing, and his eyes stung. He took a hold of his Carbine, and saw two Chinese soldiers running towards him.

Screaming defiance he pulled the trigger, releasing a burst of lead into the two men, who went down. He managed to crawl to his comrades. Bill was dead. Jerry was wounded, blood pouring from a hole in his leg. Griff and Martin were trying to keep the PLA infantry at bay. They couldn’t hear a thing over the deafening din of the battle. Martin fired towards a group of enemies, and saw one fall to the ground. Griff took another down. They were quickly running out of ammunition, but the enemy were still there. Jerry fired a pistol, and the lifeless body of an enemy soldier fell on top of Griff. Martin heard an almighty bang, and everything went black.

***

Martin woke up. White linen sheets again. This confused Martin. It didn’t feel like a dream. He looked at what he was wearing. Hospital pyjamas. Strange. He looked to his side, and saw his wonderful daughter Anastasia looking at him. He smiled at her. Behind Ani was the beautiful figure of Alice, who leaned forward and kissed him. It felt real. Strange.
“Am I home?” he whispered, Alice smiled, and tried to speak, but tears of joy stopped her. Then a new voice came in, full of authority,
“Let him rest now, you can talk to him in an hour or so!” it was a nurse.

Ani and Alice walked away, and Martin watched them until they left. He turned to his other side, and saw Griff in the next bed along. His head was wrapped in bandages, yet he still managed a smile. Beyond him was Jerry, sitting on a chair.

Martin looked up and smiled. It was over.

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Last edited by Herbiie; 2010-01-22 at 16:38.. Reason: Epic Fail Title
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