At the signal Alfredo and the other conscripts began a chaotic charge out of the forest. Despite they were clearly visible, the serfs who could be seen in the village not fled or barricaded themselves in their homes but remained just motionless in the streets like unaware of the threat. The conscripts engaged in the attack were too excited to notice, but officers were dumbfounded by the enemy's behavior not, however, giving orders to stop the charge. Then, when suddenly from the base of the buildings that make up the village sprang hundred of laser beams aimed at the charging conscripts, Alfredo, and most likely the brigade officers, understood that the plan went to hell.
The first volley was deflected on the nearby trees by the conscript's shields but Alfredo knew that its purpose was not to kill but to allow the opponents guns to hook the frequency of the various shields and allow the future volleys to cross them. Coinciding with a second volley, the officers gave the order to scatter but, due to the chronic lack of training, various conscripts stayed crowd making themselves easy targets for the enemy beams.
Alfredo was into one of these groups that ran to the shelters offered by irrigation channels located on the sides of each camp but the advance was hampered by the attempts of the conscripts to interpose their fellows, who were trying to do the same, to the village buildings. Fortunately for him, Alfredo proved to be particularly skilled in that 'dance' and this, together with his personal shield, allowed him to jump into a channel a few moments before a mass-energy shell exploded in the midst of his group crashing overloaded shields and vaporizing bodies.
Meanwhile in the fields conscripts who were not dead or didn't achieve to reach the channels had occupied every little endorsement of the land that could protect them from enemy shots but, nailing them in place, made them easy targets for mortar shells that kept to rain uninterrupted.
"They've got mortars!" Shouted a conscript, immersed up to the chin in the mud at the channel bottom, immediately followed by a burst of explosions as to emphasize that fact.
"It was not supposed to go like that! They are shitty serfs, who provided 'em with such shit?" Whined another, busy digging a hole in the muddy ground, presumably to hide himself inside.
"Where are our mortars?" Continued to shout the first conscript to no one in particular "We have at least a thousand, what the fuck are
waiting to fire?".
Alfredo was lying on his side of the channel and was preparing to dig a hole of his own when a commanding voice from below prevailed
"Silence, spineless!" Yelled a soldier with an officer's uniform with a comm operator who followed him like a dog.
"I just talked to the corps command, the conscripts of the fourth brigade are still trying to figure out how to use their mortars" continued the officer with a tone of authority.
"In the meantime, I need you lionhearts will deploy on the edge of that muddy channel and looking to scare a little those smegma bags at the base of those buildings!"
"Oh! You can also use these bodies as cover, come pick them up!"Said the officer again pointing to some bodies of conscripts laid on the
channel bottom but, as Alfredo tried to grabbing the belt of one of them, that one began to kicking in the mud, screaming "Hey, hey, I'm
not dead yet!"
"Fight then! Instead of practice to do so!"
"Yes, sublime!" The 'corpse' replied to the officer, fumbling in the mud for finding his gun.
Then the officer came down on the the channel bottom along with the comm operator and start talking furiously to the comm while a new series of explosions shook the ground.
While Alfredo and the other conscripts in the channel were preparing a wall of bodies to use as cover, they were not achieved by a
sustained fire but only by several beams fired erratically for keep them down. In fact the enemy's attention was focused toward the tree
line, in flames at various points, from which came laser beams and tracer bullets targeted towards the village.
Suddenly a group of three modular homes was swept away by a mortar barrage but this didn't interrupt the enemy fire from that position, and Alfredo, who was placed behind three dead bodies on the edge of the canal, heard the officer yelling in the comm "Yes, understood! ... Ineffective? ... Uhm, Well!".
When the officer returned the comm to his operator stood for a moment in thought, then he began to give orders.
"Well then, lionhearts ready to get out of your holes! It seems that those smegma bags have built a series of sentimetal bunkers under their houses and our mortars can not destroy them, so now they will fire an electrogas barriage on the enemies positions and, when the bunkers are blind, you will burst the village and will crush them with your numerical superiority! The other groups received our same orders so you will attack all together."
The conscripts were nodding with conviction when Alfredo noticed something curious in the officer's briefing.
"'You' sublime? Aren't you coming with us?"
The officer was taken aback for a moment but then said with a menacing tone "Is your use to discuss with your superiors, worm?"
"But, really, I thought..." tried to answer an Alfredo worried about a possible summary execution but still being interrupted by the
"That's your mistake! You think too much, that's my job, you just do what you are told to do. I was clear enough or I have to enlighten your mind?"
Seizing the implication of the last sentence, Alfredo mumbled an apology and returned to his post, but the officer, however, noting to
be viewed with doubt by conscripts, continued with more accommodating tone
"But do not worry, even if I have to stay in the back to get a clearer picture of the situation, my operator will follow you and will hold the corps command track of your progress!"
A that last sentence the comm operator's face, distorted hitherto by an amused grin, turned into an expression of dismay unleashing the hilarity of Alfredo and the other conscripts as they were going to take a position on the edge of the channel. Here they noticed that, during the speech, a dense brown smoke curtain had fallen on the village drastically reducing the accuracy of enemies beams.