Artillery

“Is there a Sergeant James Evans here?”

Evans yawned. He took his feet off the desk and stood up, “Yes Corporal. What you need?”

“You’ve been specially requested for a mission.”

“What’s it about? Do you have the paperwork?” Evans was kind of confused.

“This is top secret and I can’t tell you more than that.”

“We’ll have to wait for Major Kestel to come back. Or at least someone else who can talk to the Major.”

The Corporal sighed, pulled out a notepad, scrawled a quick note, and dropped it on Major Kestel’s desk, “Alright. I left a note. Now can you come with me. This is Time Sensitive.”

“OK Corporal,” Evans stood up, put on his helmet, and reached for his rifle.

“You won’t need that. We will supply you with something better.”

“Alright then Corporal. If you say so.”

Evans followed the Corporal out of the dugout. He saw Major Kestel coming in. He saluted, “Major!”

“Evans. Where are you off to?” Major Kestel returned the salute.

The Corporal answered for him, “Sergeant Evans has been requested for a special mission. He will be returned as soon as possible.”

“I did not receive any request forms. I need more warning if I am to give up an important member of my staff.”

“Your Grace, you do not have the clearance for this. I can’t give you any information about why Sergeant Evans is needed and why you haven’t been given warning. I can only say that this is a request in name only. If my Captain wants something, she will get it. I have… “ the Corporal reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a sheet of paper and handed it to Major Kestel, “Is this enough for you?”

Major Kestel handed back the paper in somewhat of a shock, “James.” She hugged Evans, “Stay Safe.” She looked back at the Corporal, “Fine. Take him then Corporal.”

“Very Well Ma’am,” The Corporal then led Evans up the trench line until they reached a dugout by one of the artillery batteries. They started to go down. This dugout was deeper than any Evans had ever seen. When they reached the bottom, there was a large steel door. The Corporal knocked three times. A slat on the door opened. The Corporal said, “Swordfish.”

The steel door swung open. Evans entered the dugout. The dugout was heavily reinforced. Communication lines criss crossed the room. He could hear the clacking of dozens of typewriters. In the center of the room, a Captain stood receiving a report. She wore the skirt of a staff officer, a rare sight for someone this far forward. She turned around to face Evans and the Corporal. The face was familiar.

The Corporal saluted, “I’ve brought Sergeant Evans Ma’am.

Evans saluted, “Captain Ricci.”

Captain Ricci returned the salute, “Good to see you Evans. I’m going to guess that you’re wondering why you’re here.”

“Yes Ma’am.”

“Well follow me,” Captain Ricci led him to a side office. She sat down behind her desk. Evans sat across from her. She reached into a drawer, pulled out a file, and handed it to Evans.

He started to look through it. It was filled with information about him. From promotion dates to citations to small news articles mentioning him.

“I’ve been following your career since we last met. Impressive. Now. I need you to do something for me,” Captain Ricci pulled another file out of her desk and handed it to Evans. Leafing through it, he saw pictures burning buildings, artillery shells, and strange diagrams with words Evans didn’t understand.

“It’s a new kind of Artillery Shell. It burns… well everything. We’ve tested it on various buildings and mock trenches, but… Well… Not people. For obvious reasons. That’s going to change tomorrow evening. We’re going to bombard a front about three kilometers North of here. Afterwards, I need to dash in there and take pictures of the damage. I need a guard, which is why you’re here.

“Why me Ma’am? You seem to have plenty of staff.”

“Well, my staff is great, but most of them haven’t fired a rifle since training. I have by far the most front line experience of anyone on my staff. So I’m outsourcing to you. Because I trust you, and you have experience. We aren’t bringing a full team with me because this needs to be fast.”

 

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