Chapter 3. North Beach...

Kasam Beach patrol, what a wonderful way to spend the war. I joined the ARMY so that I could make some good money and support my family. I figured that with the whole "no killing" rule I had nothing to fear. I thought I'd end up in a few battles, maybe win some metals and then I'd go home a hero. The brave and mighty warrior home from the fields of war. I couldn't have been more wrong. I went into the same training as every other person in our ARMY. Now here I was with a medium size garison. We were protecting a beach that was so rocky a person could hardly move. The only way to get across was to either creep between the rocks and hope you didn't get to messed up or stuck. Otherwise you had to jump from rock-to-rock. That took time and energy. No ARMY in their right mind would even attempt to cross on that beach. That was why we were there, only a medium sized force. Almost everyone else was sent to the main battle out to the West. We were the worst of the ARMY. Everyone who scored low on the testing was sent to the back of the fight. They were the ones left to guard the cities. My group of guys were the best of the worst. We didn't make the cut to get into the Main forces but we were good enough to guard a beach that was never going to be of any use. I hated the ARMY. I had no chance to fulfill my dreams of glory. I was almost looking for a way to get out of this war but it was to late now. At least I had a nice place to rest.

My company is stationed Dena. We work on a rotation with the other companies stationed at Dena. There is a small fortified camp just on top of the hill on the North side of Kasam Beach. Every couple of weeks we march down to the camp. Our company spends a whole week in the camp and then goes back to the main fort as a new company relieves us. Dena is also a heavily fortifide town. Because it is the capital of the Som province it has to be protected very well. Even if noone can really get to it.

The area around here is really nice. There are some woods around the base of the mountains which fill with fog in the mornings and make for a great view. The sea spread out to our east. We've got a good view of that from on top of the hill. It's not like home though because there aren't any ships sailing over on that side. Most of the coast is nothing more than large cliffs so there aren't any ports to speak of.

Today was going to be just as boring as the others. The war had officially started yesterday. Yesterday was also the day we started our stay in the watch post. The switch had taken place early in the morning.

We'd packed out sacks the night before with our uniforms and mess kits. The next morning we got up at 4 am to get ready for the switch. Dispite being the worst of the fighters in the ranking system we still had to follow the procedures. We were also disiplined too. At 4 am we were all up and fighting to get into the showers. There was half and hour for one hundred of us to do everthing we needed. That is to say the old "Shower, shave, shit, shine and shampoo" routine. I was lucky enought to be one of the first ones in. The first ones in aren't as rushed as the others. If you're late getting there though it can be hard to get everything done in time.

Even if you don't finish with everthing you must be in the barracks by 4:30 and in uniform. We only needed to be in our standard uniform, not the full armor. At 4:30 was the inspection of our uniforms and barracks. That would go on until 5:00 am. At 5:00 was morning chow. Again we had thirty minutes to get everyone through the line and to eat our food. There was a system to the madness and we all moved as fast as we could to make sure we were done in time. At 5:30 we finished eating and reported to the center court for the morning briefing.

The morning briefing took the next thirty minutes. At the meeting we were given the days general overview and instruction on what was going on. Yesterday's meeting was mostly about the upcoming stay at the watch fort. They talked forever about how we needed to keep our eyes open because the war had offically started. Noone ever stopped to think that this beach was too rocky for the enemy to make any type of skilled attack on our outpost. This meeting ended close to 6:00.

At 6:00 we all put on our armor and grabbed our weapons. They had us all lined up in four collums and in tight formation. We were lined up by the gate and ready to go at 6:00. The gates opened up and we started to make a double time march toward the Watch Fort. The group that had been there had only been there for five days but Command wanted a fresh crew in the post at the start of the War. I guess they didn't want a bunch of guys thinking about how they were almost ready to go back to town. They wanted us to be there instead.

As we marched up to the gates of the Watch Fort we slowed down in order to let the gates open all the way. Each of us had our own post to take, which we had been preassigned. Mine was along the south wall. I headed straight for my post once we were all inside. As I went up the stairs I could see the night crew heading into the Bunk Building to get some rest before their shifts.

I made my way to my post quickly. My post was just a small tower like stuctuer along the wall. One of several. It was only about three steps higher than the rest of the wall, but it allowed me a great view of the beach line. I usually looked at the sea a lot though. I had to spend twelve hours at my post and I got twelve hours off. Noone had to stay at their posts for all twelve hours though. We had back up men that would take over for a while while we went down to take a break. The back up men were there to relieve us and would take up positions along the wall if we were attacked. I didn't care too much for my job but I tried to make the best of it.

Once I was in position I told the man on duty that he was relieved. He then turned and ran down to the Court Yard to join his company. As soon as the old company was assembled in the Yard the gate was lowered for them and they were allowed to go back to town. Those men were going to get two days of free time to roam the town. I wished I was one of those men. I didn't want to get stuck watching an empty shore line for a week in those long twelve hour shifts. Oh well, I was here now. I turned my head to the shore line and began my shift.

After twelve hours and many breaks I was done for the day. I went down to the Bunk Building as soon as I had been relieved. We had a hour before the next briefing. That was enough time to eat and rest for a few minutes. The briefing wasn't really worth going to but it was required. After that I spent the rest of the day sleeping and getting ready for the next days shift.

This brings us up to today. Like I said today was going to be just as boring as all the others. We'd all gotten up and prepared ourselves for the day. Thing in the Watch Fort were a lot less formal than in the city. We didn't have too many high ranking officers around us so we typically did things the way we wanted. It was just about 6:00 am when I climbed up into my tower to take my daily watch. I started to stare out to sea. I don't know how long I stood there but it couldn't have been more than ten to twenty minutes. Then I could see it. Out on the water I thought I saw some movement other than the normal waves.

"Captain to the Watch Tower!" I screamed.

The Captain came running up to my tower. He didn't know what was going on but it might be important so he got there quickly.

"Yes, what seems to be the problem?"

"Sir, look out there. Just off the beach. I think I see some movement in the water."

The Captain held his hand up over his eyes to block the morning sun. He stared at the beach and the sea for a long time. Then I saw the look spread over his face. It wasn't really a look of fear but there was a sence of dread in his eyes.

"Alarm!" That was the only word to come from his mouth before he bolted for the stairs. Moments later the bells were ringing in the fort. I glanced back toward the town. I didn't see any movement coming from the city but I knew within ten minutes another 200 soldiers would be pouring out of it's gates.

I scanned the fort quickly before turning my gaze back to the sea. The reserve men were grabbing their weapons and rushing towards the south wall. I turned back to the sea. The sight I saw made me fill with terror. I was ready for war, but not like this.

The movement I had seen was not men or ships. It was a partially submerged raft or rather a whole series of rafts. Then I looked along the rocks. That's where the men came from. Soldiers began to pour from the rocks. The rocks make for a tight squeze but these men had on no armor which made it much easier for them to move. Hundreds of men kept seaping from the stones. Then more men came from on top of the rocks. These men were carrying huge packs on their shoulders. They used long rods like a pole- vaulter to jump effortlessly from bolder to bolder. When the men came to the end they slid down their poles and dropped their packs. The soldiers opened the packs and retreived their armor. As more men came from within and from ontop of the rocks they masses in groups and advanced slightly toward the fort. Other small groups of men headed for the rafts that were floating close to the shore. They reached into the water and retreived the lines that had apperently been used to guide the rafts along the shore. With these lines they pulled the rafts into the shore. The tops of the rafts were flipped open and inside were stored many weapons. The small groups of men busied themselves with passing out the weapons to all the soldiers as they continued to mass and the end of the beach. Soon the flow of bodies slowed down.

I turned back quickly to see almost 200 of my fellow soldiers charging down to our Watch Fort. The entire beach area had been blocked off a long time ago, back during the death wars. Now the only way to get past the beach was to pass through our fort. That was not going to happen now. Our fort was now full ready. The only way they could get through was to break down the doors and then fight us hand to hand. It was going to be impossible for them to make it past this garrison. We were ready for them.

With the passing of the Death Wars, "range weapons" were now basically unheard of. Therfore as long as our gates held up we would have the advantage. We were 300 plus strong. Each company was 100 men plus commanders. The commanders of all the companies were in the bunk house planning the defence. I could see runners coming in and out of the bunk house. Nervously I turned back to the south. I couldn't tell how big the enemies army was, but it was huge. More men seemed to flow out of the rocks and arm themselves. By this time I guessed that there had to be nearly two-hundred men amassed outside of our fort and more kept coming.

The ARMY outside of our fort continued to group together for a few more minutes. Then they attacked. I gave myself a little nervous laugh, because they were about to try and storm our fort. Their men just kept on charging. The men along our wall prepared their nets for the attack. Soon the enemy was crashing into our walls. The nets were droped on them immediatly. I watched as the weighted nets came down and covered the first row of enemy soldiers. They went to the ground under the weight of the net. I could see them struggling with the ropes. A cheer went up from our side of the wall. We were untouchable. Then the horror became too real. The men under those nets weren't fighting to get free they were fighting to get their knifes. Every one of them was carring a rather large, sharp knife. They all began to cut the nets into shreds. The ropes of the net vanished into the crowd. It was clear to us now that net's wouldn't work. We were going to have to face them hand to hand.

Just then a cry came from the south west corner of the fort. I saw a mass of reserve soldiers, led by an officer, go rushing for the corner. All I had to do was lean a little over the wall and I could see why they were yelling for more help. With tremendous skill and practice the enemy had made rope ladders out of the nets we had dropped and were in the process of forming a human ladder at the corner of the fort. Men and rope combined to reach to the top of the wall. Many of the gaurds that had been standing at the top trying keep the enemy down, had been pulled over the edge. We were taking the first casualites.

The reserve men came running to the corner with poles. They tried to push the Human-Rope ladder over. However there were too many men and they were too well prepared. Most of the poles were ripped from the grasps of our men. The Human-Rope ladder reached the top of our walls and began to spill over. I wanted to go and help my fellow men but I wasn't able to leave my post because of the threat that they could try the same along my section of wall. For now I could only watch and wait. The fight was in the hands of the some two hundred reserve men.

By now the enemy was over the wall and into our fort. They only had a small section but they were expanding it. The enemy kept coming over the wall. Our men kept dissapearing over the wall. Every man of ours that wasn't able to hold his ground was swept up and carried down the ladder of men to his "Death" down below. It looked as if they were simply turning our men into theirs. For every one of ours the went over the wall it seemed as though two of theirs came from the other side.

The other wall posts, along with myself, were still holding our positions. I'd given up watching the wall though. It was obvious no one was going to try and come over on our side. Now I watched the battle before me. Men were still coming over that wall. By now the enemy controlled almost half of the upper walkways. They still had to finish taking the walkways and the ground level before they could win, and they were well on their way. All I could do was wait for either them to make it to my position or for the commanders to order us to attack.

It was now that I first realised that our position was not invinsible. The enemy now controlled a large part of the upper walkways. They now had the foot hold they needed to really fight us. Men started to pass up nets. Soon a group of men came over the wall and for a few minutes the walkway was packed full of soldiers. So many men were on the walkways that they couldn't move. Then they jumped. They held their nets out in front of them as they fell to the ground. The shock alone was enough to stop our men in their tracks. The enemy had netted about five guys in one net. Two of their soldiers began to tie the net closed while a group of other soldiers provided cover for them. At least ten of these groups jumped from the upper walkway within a few seconds of each other. The full nets were pulled up against the wall under the walkways. Now they had captured more men and had a small, but growing foot-hold on the ground level.

More of our men were shoved at the enemy, and more of our men were lost. We were taking a toll on the enemies personnel too but it seemed that they were pulling their wounded away before we could make any "kills".

The fighting continued this way for over a hour. By that time we were only holding on to a small postition along the North wall. Command had ordered all of us to pull back and make a strong defence. I was in the back of the lines helping with the wounded. Unfortunatly we couldn't afford to rest so I had to help the men back to their feet and send them back at the enemy. There were only around a hundred of us left. I looked over the court yard below. I could see nets full of wounded soldiers from our ranks. I could also see many of our men uncountious on the ground who had alread had their TAGs taken away. We held our postion for a long time. Every man there was prepaired to fight to the death. It soon became clear that this still wouldn't be enough. With some earging from his staff, the commander gave the order to fall back to the city.

The gates were quickly opened and we began to run for the city. This was the first time I'd ever seen my commrads in a panic. This day was becomeing filled with new experiences for me.

It was just after 9:00 when we reached the city. The battle had lasted for over three hours and we had lost our fort. Thankfully the enemy had stopped at the fort. I watched as the remaining men who hadn't come over the wall quickly came running around and walked through the front gates. Now they were probably helping their wounded and removing the TAGs from our wounded. Inside the city the scene was much different. Our wonded were being helped to their feet and readied for another round. Meanwhile the officers went into a nearby building to plan what our next option would be. Nervously we waited.

Almost three hours passed before the officers returned. They ordered us all into formation. There we stood in formation in the middle of the street waiting for our orders. I hated the wait. Finally the answer came. With all the soldiers who made it out of the fort and all the reserves who had been left in the city our number was almost 200. It was decided that this attack was more than just a test of our defences. It must be the begining of something much bigger. The commander felt that we needed to tell command. At night, half of our men were to leave the city and head straight for the location of our main forces. To make everything fair, an officer went down the line and simply counted every other man. The men who were pointed out were the ones who would go. The rest had to stay and defend the city until the end. I was picked to go. I would have much rather stayed. The city had much higher walls and it would be easier to defend then the little Watch Fort, but I had to go. Those who were to stay headed for the main gates and started to set up their defence. The rest of us went back to the Command center a few blocks away.

It was at the command center that we received our instructions. The Commander stood before us and told us again of the the importance that the Main Forces received our message. Then he turned the meeting over to another officer. This officer passed out some crudly drawn maps to each of us. They had been done in a hurry and no two of the hundred maps were the exact same. He told us the maps would get us to the area we wanted, after he appoligsed for the quality. They may not have been "to scale" but everything was marked properly. Basically we went through the woods to our west. Then we were to go past several small town, being careful not to be seen. finally when we got close to a certain town we were to turn straight south and we'd eventually run into the Command army. The estimation was that we would leave tonight and we'd be there in just under two days. I still wanted to stay behind.

They then dismissed us to get some chow and met back at the barracks in one hour. It was 2:30 when we lined up at the barracks. The Commander ordered us to change into our Camoflauge gear and prepare to leave the city. It took thirty minutes to get ready, but by 3:00 we were once again back in formation waiting for orders. The disipline had returned to our troops. It was nothing like it had been a few hours earlier. I almost felt like we could march out the gates and win back our fort. However, we didn't have nearly enough men to storm that fort and take it back.

The plan now was to exit the city in five groups of twenty. Each group would leave five minutes after the previous group reached the woods. A mile into the woods was an old training facility. That was the rally point. Once there we would all spread out a little ways and begin our march to the Main Army.

It was now just about 3:30. I was in the third group to leave. The Officer in charge gave us the signal and we began our ten minute run to the woods. I took off in a dead run for the wood line. Thankfully we were all in shape and could make the run quickly and with out stopping. As we ran I was only able to catch a little tiny glimpse of the fort. I could see a blue flag flying high over the fort walls. There was going to be plenty more fighting at the town tonight. I still wanted to be there with my commrads to help defend the city. However, I knew my job was just as important to the survival of the city.

We reached the woods and slowed our pace down to a simple jogging. At this rate we'd make it to the meeting point in ten minutes or so. It was hard to imagin that anything bad could happen here. The woods were calm and quiet. The only sound was the slapping of our feet on the small dirt trail, and the occational bird chirping.

My group got to the meeting point only to find another officer standing there, and none of the other men in sight. The officer walked over to us and addressed us.

"I trust you all have your maps. Good. Your orders are to take a five minute rest here and then begin on your journey. Try to keep seperated from each other by a good distance, but keep within sight of each other if possible. We don't know where the enemy troops may be. Therefore we must be careful. Stay out of sight of any towns. If you keep moving you should reach the Main Forces by the day after tomorrow. Be careful out there, and good luck."

The words he spoke gave me a chill down my back. It wasn't like there was much that could happen. It would take a week for them to move an army over the mountains, and there was no way they could have worked their way around from the other side. It was going to be an easy trip.

My group rested for a few minutes. While we rested we talked a little. We decided it would be best if we kept fairly close but far enough apart to avoid being seen too easily. Then we'd all follow our maps and keep in our group. Every couple of hours we planned to group up and talk about where we were going to go. With the dense woods it was going to be hard to stay on track but together we could do it. I was glad I wasn't in charge of this group.

The rest of the day was spent walking in relative silence. It was nice to get away from it all for once. The birds kept singing to us all day. The peacefulness of it was great. Everytime one of us got tired we grouped up and took a quick break. We didn't know if we were ahead or behind any of the other groups. Nobody could hear anyone else out in the woods but with the crude maps we were using each group was probably spread out over a couple miles.

As evening approached we faced a problem. In the dark it would be easy to get lost, but we would make better time if we kept moving. After some discution we chose to rest for the night. We wouldn't be any good if we got lost and the message never got through. We found a spot where some trees had fallen and formed a nice shelter. We spread out to find some wild fruit and made ourselves a very small meal. It was just enough to fight the hunger and keep our streangth up. The leader of our group made the annoucement that we would all sleep in shifts. Two men would stay on watch for 30 minutes. Then they would go to sleep as the next two came on. In the end we would get five hours of rest and each person would only gaurd for 30 minutes. After that it would still be dark but we didn't want to lose too much time. In addition to that, if we didn't get on the right path soon enough the fog would roll in and set us back another couple of hours.

I slept well that night. I drew first watch so I got to rest my full 4 1/2 hours straight through. After our stay was up it was decided that with the darkness we should go slowly and stay together so that noone got lost or off track. We set off in a single file line through the woods with our leader in the front. I drew the middle postion. We had covered a lot of ground in the the time before the sun began to rise. About a hour before the sun came up the fog would roll in. The fog was so thick that I couldn't see the leader from where I was at. I hoped we were still on the right track. Even after the sun came up it was still bad. In the thick woods it was still hard to see past the first couple guys in the colum. Then we heard the screams.

The screams came from all around us. We couldn't tell where the sounds came from because the fog made the voices travel far. The one thing we did know was that these voices were close and in trouble. We took off running to find the men. It wasn't long before we were all seperated. I couldn't leave my friends to die in these woods so I took off looking for them. My search was in vein. Everytime I'd follow a scream I'd end up finding nothing. I finally was forced to give up. The sun was up over the trees so it wasn't hard to get myself moving in the right direction. I felt horrible for leaving my men. They were my friends and I was leaving them.

I took off running for the edge of the woods. It wasn't too far away and I made it with out much trouble. Once I got there I hid in the bushes until more men showed up. Even then I was still careful. I waited until they got close enough to tell if they were on my side or not. It wasn't much more than a hour before we had ourselves a small group forming. The woods were still full of fog even though the field behind us was clearing up. We waited until we were sure noone else was going to come out of the woods. Then we set off across the open fields towards our goal. The goal was still the Main Forces, and now we needed them even more than before. We had just lost a lot of men. I don't know how many were lost to the enemy, but surely most of them were going to be casualties. A few may have been just lost, but not most.

We spent the rest of the day dodging a few small towns. Other than that we simply walked. I can only guess at what the others were thinking, but my mind was on the men in the forest. We still don't know for sure what attacked us but it must have been big. Yet we ran and left our men to be captured. I kept thinking about these men all day.

That night we camped in a large washed out ditch. It blocked the wind which was all we needed. As far as we could tell we would be at the Main Forces camp by late the next morning. I don't think I slept more than ten minutes that night. I had left my friends alone to die.

Morning brought about a change in me. I felt better about the previous days events. I think I felt better because I knew that with the help of the Main Forces we would be able to get our revenge. It wasn't long before we were all up and moving. The sun hadn't actually come up yet but we were used to getting up before the sun. I grabbed my gear and fell into line as we started out behind our leader.

The sun was pretty to watch as it came up over the mountains. This was a sight to see. The sun made a wonderful back ground for our group. Here was fifteen men, covered in mud and soaked to the core, walking through a tall grass field with the sun rising over the bluish-grey mountains in the background. It was times like these that made war come to life yet made it hard to believe that we were in it. The beat up, tired men made the war real. The waves of green grass on the field in the mountains shadow, made the war seem so far away. This was truely a strange sight. I kept hiking with the group. I was getting tired but I'm sure it was because I didn't sleep the night before.

About ten or eleven in the morning we stopped and compaired our maps with each other. Luckily one of the men in our group was some-what familiar with this area. With his help and our maps we decided to swing a little more to the west. In another hour we should reach the goal, that was the general feeling in the group.

True to the plan the goal we were seeking was more to the west and only an hour and a half away. It was just coming up on the noon hour when we arrived. We walked into the camp and made our way straight for the command tent. It wasn't too hard to find with all the flags and officers around it. The men from the service watched us as we passed. They knew our uniforms but I think they were surprised to see us come out of the woods like that. They were probably expecting nice-neat, scouts or reenforcements, not our rag-tag, and dirty lot.

As we neared the command tent an officer ran up to us. He ordered us to halt.

Chapter 2
Chapter 4

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