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 Post subject: Sharpe's Jihad
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 1:17 am 
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Antisocial General
Antisocial General

Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2003 8:35 am
Posts: 7883
Location: MLC, Lyran Alliance.
It was a cold, misty day, warmed only by the smoldering patches of flame amid the ruins. Obie couldn't remember the name of this godforsaken Outback world, but it didn't matter. Just another domino to fall as the Jihad marched across the Federated Suns, just like him marching through the rubble that he and his fellow former Fedrats had helped to make. "Fedrats," he thought aloud to himself with a smile. The epithet just felt right, and that was all the reason he'd ever needed for anything.

Just as he finished that thought, Obie came upon some of his men herding some prisoners. "What's all this then?"

"Sergeant!" One of his men hailed him. "We found this lot hiding out." He grabbed the arm of a woman accompanied by a young girl. "A fine catch, eh?"

"Fine enough to catch a bullet if you don't get your hands off her." The man looked at Obie in wide-eyed disbelief; Obie met the runt's gaze evenly as he clicked off his safety. "Now." The man carefully removed his hand, and Obie smiled as he sat on a chunk of wall beside a fire. "Good lad." He pulled out his hip flask and raised it to the woman, who was watching him warily. "Good health, mum." He took a hit from the flask and grinned wickedly. "Run along now. There's a war on, you know."

The other Blakists watched in silence as the woman gathered her daughter and quickly ran off into the ruins, looking back repeatedly as if expecting pursuit, but none came. Obie smiled as she disappeared. "See the way she went, lads? There's our target." His evil grin widened. "They've got instincts. Prey animals. Run toward safety, and the fools end up betraying what they know, easy as pie." He pulled out a ration bar and held it toward the fire to warm and soften it.

"Good show," the young soldier who had grabbed the woman said. "But was it really necessary to threaten me?"

"Yes." The quick firmness of Obie's answer was almost startling. "Besides stopping you from being stupid," Obie said as he chewed down the ration, "You need to learn something. Mothers are sacred. They watch over you. I know mine does." He looked at the sky, revealing the scar around his neck as he did so, and raised his flask in salute for another hit. Then his com unit beeped, and he put away the flask to look at the screen. "Ah, we've got intel. Defending units..." Obie's voice trailed off as his expression first became puzzled, then dark, then strangely distant. "33rd Foot...95th Rifles?" He shook his head as if to clear it.

The Blakists glanced puzzled at each other. "Something wrong, Sergeant? You don't look right all of a sudden."

"Aye." Obie rubbed his face briskly with his hands. "Just the past coming back, as it always does." He took a deep breath and rose, suddenly seeming taller than before, and the fire reflecting in his oddly clear gaze as he readied his rifle made the Blakists glance at each other again. "Come on, lads. We've got the devil's work to do."

----

"Colonel Sharpe!"

Rick turned from his command post map to see one of his men, a young Davion soldier, leading a woman with a young girl. "Hello," he greeted her with a smile and a wink. "What's all this then? More civilians?" He patted the girl's head as she looked up at him with wide eyes. If she grows up to look like her mother, he thought, she'll be a dangerous one.

"Aye sir. She says ran into the Wobs on the way here."

"I did," the woman said. Her voice was clear and proud, like a noble brought low amid the chaos, and Rick couldn't help noticing her body through the tears of her dress. "Infantry, that way. Not sure how far, a few kilometers perhaps. They're probably coming this way." She looked off into the ruins, back the way she had come. "It was odd; their Sergeant actually made his men let me go."

Rick started at that. "Did you come straight here?"

"More or less. Why? Do you think..."

"Yes, they followed you." Rick moved past her, stepped one leg up onto the sandbag wall and raised his binoculars. "An old predator's trick. Lost prey always runs to the herd." The view in the indicated direction was ominously still. Except for those scavenging crows that just started up. Rick grabbed his radio. "Manta three, come in." He quickly relayed orders to his tank support, then jumped back down to rest a hand on the woman's shoulder. "Look love," he said firmly, "I'd love to talk more, but there's trouble coming. You two need to get out of here, now. Lorry to the refugee center is straight off that way. Go, quickly." The woman hesitated a moment as if memorizing his face, then nodded, scooped up her daughter and ran.

The young soldier chuckled as Rick watched them go. "Anything in a skirt, eh Colonel?" The soldier coughed. "No disrespect."

Rick grinned, then clapped a hand on the man's shoulder as he turned back to his command map. "It's not disrespectful when it's true, lad." He sighed. "Get back to your troop and dig in." He rubbed his face with his hands, trying to shake a sudden strange feeling...

-----

"FIRE IN THE HOLE!" The Blakists' SRM launchers roared, sending inferno missiles at the Davion armor that had met them. The narrow alleys and rubble made the fight almost a moving ambush, as the Blakists scrambled under cover and popped up to shoot. Obie grinned as flames rose from the Manteuffel's rear deck, jumped out and waved his men forward. "Come on!"

Just then, the Manteuffel's turret swung. It wasn't dead yet, and the rattling, hissing thunder of its guns filled the alley, all but drowning out the screams of the Blakists, who saw their leader silhouetted ahead of them against the muzzle flashes...

And then, with a sudden explosion as the creeping inferno gel finally reached the tank's ammo, it was over. Wounded, maimed Blakists cried for help, for mercy, for their mothers, as their luckier brethren broke cover to aid them.

One young soldier, the one who had grabbed the woman, paused in dressing a comrade's missing arm as a shadow fell over him. He looked up, and his eyes widened to see Obie standing over him. The Sergeant seemed taller than ever, his strange gaze almost noble as he looked through the soldier at something only he could see. "Bloody hell," Obie said with a smile. "Told you mothers were sacred." He took a deep breath and then suddenly roared as if possessed, leading his remaining men forward. "COME ON!"

-----

Combat had always been an odd experience for Colonel Sharpe, but never more so than now. He had always felt like he belonged to a different time and place; his brother officers attributed it to the common nostalgia they shared, a longing for the Federated Suns' noble past, but they did not really understand. Nor did they know the odd feeling that Rick always felt when he looked through the scope of his marksman's rifle, as if he was looking through time as well as distance. Never one to simply leave things to his men, he was braced up on the parapet of his command post, expertly picking off Blakists one at a time as they advanced.

"Damn, there's a bloody lot of them." It almost reminded him of...what? He blinked as sweat ran into his eyes. "What?" He looked around in confusion, momentarily feeling like he didn't know where he was.

"Colonel, they're pushing us hard!" The young soldier sounded scared as he fished in his web gear for another clip. "What should we do?"

Rick blinked, then shook his head back into the present from wherever it had gone. He patted the younger man's shoulder. "Steady now, lad." He looked back through the scope. "We've got fall back positions. Pass word to pull back from the outer..." Then he broke off as he started and jerked back from the scope. "No, it can't be."

"Sir?" The young soldier grabbed his shaking commander. "It can't be what?"

Rick stayed frozen for a moment, then shook himself hard, as if suddenly waking up. "Nothing, lad. Just saw someone I knew. Bloody traitors, we're facing."

"Aye, sir. We'll give them hell." The soldier jumped the wall to pass the word forward, leaving Rick alone on the parapet, trying to get his head around his thoughts and keep them in the present. He knew that man, but HOW did he know him? An elevation in the noise of battle yanked him back to the present, and he looked through his scope to see the outer wall position pulling back under heavy Blakist pressure. They were breaking through, and he jumped down to his command table. Quick strokes of his fingers on the electronic map signalled his men, indicating their fall-back orders...

"Well, BLOODY hell." Rick's gun snapped up to aim at the laughing Blakist standing on the parapet, but neither man fired, struck as they were by mutual recognition.

"Obadiah," Sharpe breathed.

Obie's laughter faded into a psychotic grin beneath eyes that seemed to glow as they reflected the burning battlefield, and he and Rick simply stared at each other over their weapons, seemingly through a mist. A mist of time, of betrayal and hate, of a cycle unbroken for centuries that lingered behind their consciousness and only manifested in such moments as this. "Bloody hell," he repeated. "Fancy meeting YOU here, Sharpie."

"Yes," Rick replied evenly. "Fancy that."

The whole world seemed to fall silent for a moment around the ancient rivals. And then suddenly, simultaneously, their guns spoke for them...

-----

Fini.

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Last edited by Shades of Grey on Mon Sep 07, 2015 11:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Sharpe's Jihad
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 3:06 am 
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Loki
Loki

Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2001 8:00 pm
Posts: 11444
Location: Minnesnowta
Very interesting little piece there.

I haven't read the novels so I don't know who Obie is, but I like the references. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Sharpe's Jihad
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 3:50 am 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Fri Apr 05, 2002 8:00 pm
Posts: 1928
Location: At the base of America's Mountain
Hakeswill versus Sharpe, a rivalry for the ages.

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 Post subject: Re: Sharpe's Jihad
PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 5:32 pm 
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Stratego
Stratego

Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2001 8:00 pm
Posts: 10855
Location: Ft. Hood Texas
Well done.

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