City under mist was still sleeping in silence of the morning. That pale haze was striped out with smell of someone’s cooking and smoke that burned in the distance, hidden behind the crippled buildings Matocians called homes. Bator Lok Shaya spat in the metal cup he drank his coffee from and whipped its bottom to a clean shine. Our pulse tank sat huge above him, resting the power rods under its caterpillars. Tank’s cannon aimed at the misty horizon, casually collecting moisture on its surface, while I poured water over ashes and got prepared to move. We had a long day ahead of us, searching for the enemy in the ruins, searching for our troops we lost two weeks ago. Bator often spoke that we are in Hell, but I thought it must be the weary nerves that spoke in his voice, tired from chasing specters in a grey battlefield we got used to.
Hinges screamed closing the gaps that hissed sealing the tanks so nothing could go trough. Bator furled his commanders cap and moved concrete dust from his untidy uniform that looked like it belonged to a taller soldier. He was my Lieutenant, the only ranking officer left in this unit. Mavat, Helor and Dvasy died yesterday collecting firewood in a broken house’s foundation, while Salack and Rajid deserted two day ago. Poor boys couldn’t handle the pressure and damn fog that followed us everywhere. Matocian guerrilla took care of our whole battery, blew us up with mines and rockets. Who could blame them, we were in their city, their country, their homes.
A gentle tap on the button and the engine roared with black smoke. Lever placed us on the move where caterpillars whistled under us while cracking the trash on the street. A very dangerous sounds for a tank crew, anybody could hear us from a mile away, but never the less we moved. Bator fought to stay in one position but terrain made it difficult for him to do it so.
– Unfurl the banner. – he said in cold, starring at ate gun sight that leveled with the thorn out shop.
– But Sir. Terrorist could be in there. – I said looking over my shoulder, when he kicked me from his higher position.
– Don’t call them that way. This is their game, we are just participating. Call them Matocians, that’s what they are. We are fighting civilian population. Our army destroyed their brave, now we fight their weak. Fly our war colors. – he continued in a same tone, then he grinned at the mist, – Damn thing. I can’t see. Does that look to you as a operational battle wagon? – he leaned forward same as me.
– No Sir. This one is broken and burnt. It’s one of ours. Matocians could be close. – I said watching our flag rising from the bunker in our back.
Power rods crackled and the engine groaned further down the street where mist really got thick. My eyes flew rapidly to the sides, while Bator kept his firm on the gun sight, concentrated on a imminent danger that might spawn from the corners.
A quick buzz passed our top and smashed over the house we couldn’t see, but could hear its crumbling down. A tremendous wrecking sound stopped when a burnt dust smell glided over the metal tank.
– Who’s firing at us?! – I jumped in my seat, looking out for another shot and the flaming trail of the projectile.
– We are in war with Matoc, so it must be Matocians that soot at us, genius. – Bator grind his teeth, angrily moving our cannon in circle, – Barrel loaded! Aim 20 degrees left, elevation 15, charge at maximum power, conditions optimal! Stand ready! – he was screaming, but I wanted to get off the street and find us some cover.
Another buzz missed us leaving the trail we so wanted. Bator clicked on a dial and the cannon nodded for an inch where power rods glowed more intense and a ear-breaking boom exited the chamber.
– Loading another! – Bator shouted his throat out kicking the console for charging when a ball of flames broke at the end of the street where mist slightly got a yellow shade in a white field, – Firing! – Lieutenant screamed again and a boom flew away, – Loading! – he kept repeating his steps like a mad man when a person emerged from the mist, slowly coming at us.
– Sir!… Sir!… SIR! A man is in front of the tank! He is wearing our uniform, SIR! – I turned and Bator then stopped his aggression.
The hatch opened and a man climbed our tank, came to the top and looked at us like a mother looks at the mess her children did.
– You poor bastards. That’s our tank you blew up. – gentleman spoke.
– It fired at us. – Bator said in a dull manner stretching his throat to see the face of a man above him.
– Yes it did, because you are the enemy. – the man said, then gunfire rained in my Lieutenant Bator Lok Shaya.
How did I suppose to know that guerrilla started taking our uniforms, fly our war colors unfurled and hunting us down unit by unit?
It wan’t my day guys. We had electricity problems and I wrote this in a hurry.