As the sun started to set, a fog bank rolled in.The artillery started to die down. Thirty seconds until the attack. It was eerily silent across No-Mans Land. Evans checked the cotton in his ears then gripped his rifle. He looked to his right.
Captain Kestel’s face was shining bright underneath the mud. She held a pistol tightly in her left hand and the long, shimmering sword in the other. She took a moment to darken the blade with mud from the bottom of the shell hole. The Captain grinned then faced forward with an open mouth.
Evans slid his bayonet out of his scabbard and fixed it to the end of his rifle. He opened his mouth and faced forward, poking his face slightly over the edge. His watch ticked over.
A huge column of Earth, Flame, and Smoke rose into the air. The ground started to shake and roll as the pressure started to push all the air out of Evans’ lungs. A deafening blast passed through the air. Boulders the size of trucks were flying like pebbles. A groaning roar hit Evans once the ground started to fall back down. In this short moment Evans understood what Hell was like. Then, with a crash, the artillery batteries opened up again. Evans could hear the metal whizzing through the air overhead.
Out of the corner of his eye, Evans saw Captain Kestel stand up, holding her sword high. She was screaming something, but Evans couldn’t hear a thing. He pushed himself up and looked around.
The ridgeline was dominated by the massive cloud of smoke directly ahead of Fox Company. Shells were bursting ahead. Flares started to streak across the sky. And, around him, Evans could see tens of thousands of soldiers begin to advance.
All throughout this, the Vledscan line was silent. Unsurprisingly. Evans doubted that anyone could have survived the blast. As they closed on the crater, a stream of Vledscan soldiers started to advance, hands above their heads. The fog started to thicken. Evans picked the cotton out of his ears.
“What should we do about them Ma’am?” Newey pointed at the Vledscan’s.
“Let them pass. There is a blocking division for that. Keep moving.”
Captain Kestel circled her sword in the air and pointed left, “MOVE LEFT!” The Lieutenants repeated the order. The company followed into the trenches on the left side of the crater. They worked their way through the empty trenches, tossing bombs into various dugouts. Fox Company reached the edge of the trench line and looked down.
Shells had moved to burst on the second Vledscan line a few hundred meters away. Evans could hear the beginnings of firefights in the distance. A runner from Lieutenant Colonel Strummer came up and saluted Captain Kestel, “Ma’am! Colonel Darling wants to take the Second Line. Spread back right once we reach open ground.”
“Understood,” Captain Kestel threw her sword up and yelled, “FORWARD! SPREAD RIGHT!”
The company clambered out of the trench and moved forward. They faced some resistance taking the second line, taking a half a dozen casualties, but the defenders soon started to stream out. Colonel Darling ordered an advance to the next line.
The Vledscan artillery started to come into effect. The Company started to spread out. With the increasing artillery fire and thickening fog, Evans could barely see the world around him. The Hard light from the flares wasn’t helping. Tracers ripped past. Evans just made sure to keep Captain Kestel in his sight.
Once they reached the trench, Evans dropped in next to Captain Kestel. He immediately thrust his bayonet into a Vledscan with a shovel. The company pushed through. Another runner sent the company forward. The Third line was more scattered, but the company managed to take a small section. When no one came, Captain Kestel sent Evans back to ask for orders. It was darker now, and foggier. Evans could only see a few feet in front of him, his path illuminated by the flashes of light in the distance. He jumped into a trench and immediately had to dodge a bayonet thrust. Evans readied his rifle when he saw it was a friendly uniform, “Lance Corporal Evans, 202nd Infantry! I’m looking for Second Battalion!”
The soldier pointed to the right, “That way. Just got back. HQ got hammered.”
Evans nodded and ran down the line through the twists and turns until he found an officer. He saluted, “Sir, I’m looking for Lieutenant Colonel Strummer.”
The man twitched, “So… So are we all. I’m in temporary command.”
“Sir, F Company is holding part of the Vledscan Third Line and is requesting orders.”
“I don’t know I don’t fucking know. I’m just a Lieutenant. Hold the line.”
Evans nodded, Captain Kestel wouldn’t be happy, but it was still technically an order. Evans worked his way back to the point he thought he had gotten into the trench and started to run perpendicular to the line. Hopefully he could find the Company again.