My hands are clammy, there's sweat pouring down my neck and the slow rotation of the ceiling fan in the command bunker does nothing to soothe my nerves. Just two hours ago, I was Second Lieutenant Parker, professional military assistant to Captain Bannon (and professional military sandwich-eater). Now, I'm standing in the command bunker, with the tactical map glaring me straight in the face. All around me are enlisted men and women tasked with running the various comms- and information-equipment. They're all looking to me to guide them through this disaster. I'm feeling panic anxiety and hunger. I can't stop thinking about that turkey sandwich, still sitting there in the mess-hall, uneaten. "Uhm... I guess we should get started." I say hesitantly, knowing that no other words will get me through this any faster. "Yes, sir!" rings from everyone else in the bunker.
Two hours ago
It's lunch, I'm sitting in the mess, looking at the sandwich in front of me. "Another good day half-done" I say to myself as I fit the napkin neatly in my lap. I look onto the mess delightedly, today it's surprisingly empty. It's me, a couple of chefs and three enlisted men sitting opposite me in the room. I overhear bits of conversation, they're talking about some meeting down by the dock today, and how "The top brass" is attending it. Their conversation comes to a quick stop when they spot me looking at them. One of them fixes me with a stare, picks up his knife and in a gesturing motion draws it across his throat. "Lovely fellows" I think, unfazed by their display. "Today is too nice to be ruined by a couple of jarheads" I think and look out the window. The trees and foliage outside sway in the breeze. Lovely day indeed. I pick up the sandwich, and as I go for the first bite something happens. A light rumble, and then chaos.
The tactical map flares up, images flare up on the screen showing destruction and disarray. The rumble that so rudely interrupted my lunch was from large explosion near the docks. That explosion was the first strike in the biggest invasion seen since... I don't know. I must confess that I slept through most of military school, flying on the coat-tails of my family name. No matter, the invasion is on. Russia has launched a large scale offensive on the American west coast. Since most of our forces are committed to the protection of Europe, they have caught us completely off guard. Reports are sketchy, but I'm willing to bet, with my luck, that the explosion was probably the Russians bombing the gathering of the top brass at the docks. With any hope, they took Captain Bannon with them.
"To any forces, are you reading me!" A voice blurts from one of the comms. "FUCK!" I shout in recognition. "Sir?" A junior radioman looks at me bewildered. "Eh, nothing, patch him through." I say.
"This is Captain Bannon, I'm hold up by the southern cordon by the docks. There's Russians fucking everywhere! Fucking brass is nowhere to be seen. I need a sitrep and order FUCKING NOW!"
-Do you see where the Russians are coming from? I ask.
-From FUCKING EVERYWHERE! They're falling from the skies, there's heavy fucking artillery rolling from civilian tankers at the port.
-Can you secure the area?
-Can I secure? Wait. That voice! Lieutenant Parker, you little shit, get off the comms and put the commanding officer on the horn, pronto!
-Excuse me, sir, but I am it.
A sergeant comes up to my left and leans in. "You've been given command of these units, sir."
-Which? I ask
-Uhm, these, the ones on the center screen, the ones we've labeled "Noble 1", sir.
I see them now, they've been sitting on center screen, idling, this entire time. I imagine the soldiers inside the vehicles literally shitting themselves, sitting there for this entire time.
"So, what are these? And what should we do?" I ask quizzically. The sergeant, obviously not having any more of my ignorance, throws a manual my way, it hits me straight int he face. I parse the manual, turns out they're "bradley IFVs", light tanks.
"We need to check the docks, look for the brass, and then we need to DUST OFF!" Captain Bannon shouts at me across the comms. It's uncanny, I'm standing at the central position, in the command bunker of the biggest military base in Washington, and still I'm getting chewed out by Captain Bannon. Can't believe my luck. The Russians invade, force me into this position, yet they SPARE this piece of shit that has me running up and down like a terrier on crack.
I steel myself, rub my hands on my pants and set to work. Commanding these forces comes surprisingly easy. You just point on the map, say what you want to do, and the staff figures out the rest. I could almost get used to this. And as that though passes my head, two bradleys explode in a Russian ambush. FUCK. I might not get used to this yet.
The fighting is fierce at the dock. I command the rest of the bradleys to skirt the area, relieving national guard troopers as they go. The resistance is stiff, but the soldier fight hard and fight well. After a series of "strategical retreats", Captain Bannon finally looses his cool. He calls me on the radio to relay his next moves. He will move towards the eastern tunnel, to escape the city via the I-90 bridge. I command my forces to follow suite.
On our way, we come across more National Guard troopers. They say that civilians have taken shelter in the Kingdome. It is under heavy attack from the Russians and the Guards request our intervention. Captain Bannon explains that the situation is one of "every man for himself" and speeds towards the tunnel. My gut knots up, my heart sinks and just as I am about to command my soldiers to follow him, a radioman below me says that his family is probably there. Not one to want more blood on my hands, I command the bradleys towards the Kingdome, cautiously.
In the parking lot of the Kingdome the Russians have set up. They've got light tanks, infantry and the odd AA-emplacement. The situation looks grim, too grim for us. Just as I'm about to give the order of retreat, a radioman says that a squadron of low-fliers are en route. Quickly, I ask him to redirect them towards the Kigndome and then command my tanks to fire on the AA-guns. The guns fall in seconds, and a minute later, the entire parking lot is engulfed by the heavy payload of the fliers. By providence, or by skill, the fliers manage to miraculously leave the Kingdome standing. I ask the radiomen to call in retrieval trucks and reinforcements to the Kingdome and command my bradleys to resume their course to the tunnel.
With my soldiers safely tucked away in the tunnel, I step down from the command post and walk towards the door. "Where are you going, sir? We're not done here!" A sergeant says.
-I've got to get something from the mess-hall, and then I'll be back. I say as I leave the bunker.
Maybe I got the right stuff to do this, I think as I follow my nose to the delicious turukey sandwich that I know is waiting for me.