Tweet of the Day: Strings of Retaliation- 14a- Contract
3rd Mechanized Brigade HQ, Aéroport d’Avignon – Caumont, Avignon, Vaucluse Department, France, 6 May, 11:02 hrs +1 GMT
Max stood in a corner of the tent. The brigade staff moved about, tapped on computer keyboards and updated the large map. Nobody paid any attention to “the reporter”, who had managed through his military contacts a place at the HQ. Someone in Max family had served in the armed forces since the days of Marquis de Vauban and his famed corp of engineers. Max left the army to become a reporter because he believed military correspondents had no idea how the army worked. The truth, of course, was far more complicated. Yet, he managed to impress military official with his knowledge and war stories.
He often won over skeptical soldiers by saying, “I have seen everything from Bali to Mali, and that’s just the first page of my resume.”
At the moment he observed the action around him. The french general in charge of the brigade conferred with his British counterpart from the Blues and Royals regiment. He traced a line along the Rhone river valley. The army held strong positions along the western bank of the Rhone. But the roads to the front lines were clogged with refugees and abandoned vehicles. The weather restricted all air craft to fly under the cloud cover. Jet engines shut down the moment the sucked in the air suffused with volcanic ash. The troops fought without fighter cover, since the bases were buried under mounds of ashen snow and low level flight cut drastically on their range. Plus the enemy had a huge amount of anti-aircraft guns at their disposal. The few drones that flew over the river lasted less than an hour over enemy territory. Only the superior training and firepower of the a few thousand men kept the enemy hordes at bay. The brigade, like all units on the Rhone line, was under strength, with formations fighting elsewhere or assisting the germanderie hunt for saboteurs and bombers.
An officer walked into the tent in full battle gear. Max noticed a series of short wires that connected the ammo pouches on the captain’s web gear.
He grabbed man nearest to him, “Look out!”
The captain lifted his left thumb.
A fireball ripped though the tent.
Max dragged the wounded soldier away from the burning tents. He pressed down on his chest to stop the bleeding from a gaping chest wound. The man grasped Max’s forearm, then went limp. Max noticed wet grass under the man’s leg. A piece of shrapnel had pierced the femoral artery. Artillery shells whistled trough the air. Helicopters exploded in huge fireballs. Shrapnel bounced from the tarmac. A diesel generator went up in a black pall smoke.
Max stopped somewhere beyond the airport’s outer fence. Then he heard the unearthly screech. Dark bat like shapes dived from the cloud layer. Flames erupted from their maws. Fire bathed the ruins of the airport and the city of Avignon. He staggered away, overwhelmed by the shock of the days events. Sometime later, with blood up to his elbows and mud up to his ankles, he flopped down by the road from the city. Military vehicles roar past filled with wounded. He took out the little digital camera he kept in his vest. He snapped picture after picture of tired men digging. A collection of bloodshot eyes, mud caked uniforms and eyes firmly on the horizon. This was an army that was battered, but far from beaten. A distant screech reached them. One soldier stopped, looked at the dark sky above and flipped it the finger.
At that moment Max snapped a picture that would span the globe.
At that moment the soldiers began to sing:
Le jour de gloire est arriv?
Contre nous de la tyrannie
L’?tendard sanglant est lev?
Entendez vous dans les campagnes,
Mugir ces f?roces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras
Egorger nos fils, nos compagnes! Aux armes, citoyens!
Formez vos bataillons!
Qu’un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons! Amour sacre? de la patrie,
Conduis, soutiens nos bras vengeurs!
Libert?, Libert? cherie,
Combats avec tes defenseurs!
Sous nos drapeaux, que la victoire
Accoure ? tes males accents!
Que tes ennemis expirants
Voient ton triomphe et notre gloire! Nous entrerons dans la carri?re
Quand nos ain?s n’y seront plus;
Nous y trouverons leur poussi?re
Et la trace de leurs vertus.
Bien moins jaloux de leur survivre
Que de partager leur cercueil,
Nous aurons le sublime orgueil
De les venger ou de les suivre!