23 July, Monday 11:30
Funny how soldier’s luck is a finicky thing. A few days ago, I was under an investigation, practically a step away from court-martial. Not that I expected a triumphant welcome worthy of a Roman general, with a parade, crowds shouting my name, and statues made in my image. But I hoped at least for some recognition of my military prowess. Instead, I got endless inquiries, revisions, and pointless Senate hearings. They accused me that I intentionally sabotaged our war effort. I’ve tried to make them understand, convince them why my decisions were logical and necessary. I almost failed. And look at me now: Vindicated! They tried to grind me in their bureaucratic machine, to suffocate me with their paperwork. Tough luck. Better men than you have tried to deal with general Ulysses Brine, and all of them failed. I was able to beat the Senate in their own game, thanks to my conviction and strength of my arguments. In short, they’ve finally bought everything. What for a moment looked like an untimely end of my brilliant military career, turned into my greatest victory. Of course, it helped that the main witness for the prosecution – remember my unfortunate adjutant? – has been found dead in a bathtub, his veins slit. He apparently od’ed and took his own life. Who would have thought he was a junkie and a disgrace for the Confederation? In the end, I always get what I want – he of all men should’ve known that.
23 July, Monday 14:50
Of course, there’s no rest for the wicked. I wasn’t able to enjoy my success for more than a day or two, when they sent me on another mission. Departure time – 5:00 AM. This time I have to protect one of our experimental facilities located in the Gran Chaco area. I’ve personally never heard of this “Shroud” project, but, apparently, it must be something extremely important. If all goes well, as it should, I’ll get considerable freedom from my superiors, as well as another gold star on my shoulder. Minister Haine himself promised me that. I admit that all this sounds like glorified guard duty, but there’s a large Resistance force amassing there. The suckers are probably totally oblivious of what’s going on there, but, still, we can’t risk it. Minister said that we already have a few covert operatives on the location, tasked with thinning out their forces. I even know one of them: a guy named Rodriguez. A colonel in the Resistance military, he’s actually on our payroll. Don’t think I’ve ever met such a greedy man – a fact that I intend to exploit completely.
24 July, Tuesday 5:30
My troops are ready, waiting to board transport airplanes which will take us to the Paraguay border. In fact, they’ve been ready for quite some time. The only thing that’s missing is the takeoff approval from the higher-ups. What are they’re waiting for? I’ve asked one of the sergeants in charge for the boarding. “The Iron Brigade, sir,” he replied calmly as if it’s the most normal thing in the world. “Or, what’s left of them, anyway” he added and returned to his business. The infamous Iron Brigade? I mean, those guys have a bad rep even among our ranks, let alone the Resistance. I heard that they were reinstated, but why are they joining their forces with mine? They had been disbanded a decade ago, because the Senate thought them too excessive. The Brigade couldn’t be controlled, they said. Do we want the Confederation represented by these freaks, they complained. The company so brutal, so extreme, so utterly merciless that our own politicians banned them, its commanding members dishonorably discharged from the service. Yet, here they are. Desperate times truly call for desperate measures. At least Minister Haine has the guts to do what’s necessary. But, why now? Is the Senate somehow testing me to see what I’ll do, to crumble under all the pressure? Are they waiting for me to make a wrong move? I guess I’m about to find out soon.
24 July, Tuesday 16:45
We finally landed, deployed our troops and vehicles, and started regrouping. I’ve ordered Sergeant Major John Tusk of the Iron Brigade and his men to use some of the Fortress vehicles and take their position at the back of the column. He didn’t look too happy about that. “As you wish, sir,” he complied wryly. He was apparently too slow for the taste of one of my senior officers, who barked at him from a safe distance “Have a problem with that, major?!” Tusk’s chiseled jaw tightened harder as if he tried to swallow something. He disregarded him completely, and turned to me “Permission to speak freely, sir?” What now? He looks like he’s able to snap that man’s spine in two with his little finger. I would expect nothing less from a commander of the Brigade, although Tusk must’ve been just a kid when they were disbanded. I allowed him to speak, so he continued. “You have us, the best goddamn fighting force in the world, and you want us to ride at the back? Don’t see much logic in that…sir” Against my better judgment, I was starting to respect his resolve. So instead of telling him that I don’t trust him – or his men – not one damn bit, I reminded him that all that was a decade ago, and that the Brigade has to prove itself again. Until then, they ride at the back. That seemed to shut him up, at least for a moment. Although I know that we’re bound to butt our heads again sooner or later.
25 July, Wednesday 8:25
Somehow whenever I speak with Rodriguez, I feel slightly nauseous. Can’t help it – if there’s a thing that I can’t stand, it’s double-dealers and spies, and Rodriguez is both. However, he can also be extremely useful, just like now. I intended to go to that facility where “The Shroud” is located, to see what it’s all about, and decide how to protect it most efficiently. But Rodriguez had a better idea. There is a location where Resistance forces are scheduled to meet, including his own company. Not all are there yet, which is ideal since we can take them one at a time and minimize our losses. “The Shroud” can wait. I think we should pay the Resistance a little visit.
25 July, Wednesday 12.35
There they are! My reconnaissance patrol reported that the Resistance have gathered a force roughly the size of a couple of battalions. I’ve ordered the Brigade to stand aside, we’ll deal with the Resistance. After all, the surprise is on our side, and it’ll be a good thing that those hotshots see how we perform in action. They’ve immediately executed my order and retreated some 500 yards from our current position. It seems that I’ve managed to put them in their place, after my little clash with their commander. Perhaps they aren’t so tough after all?
25 July, Wednesday 13:00
We’ve engaged the enemy! We provoked them first with a few well-directed missiles from cover, so they started running all over the place like an army of ants. Luckily, this wasn’t meant to be a permanent base, so they haven’t erected Sniper Towers or any other defensive structures. Immediately, before they could recover, I unleashed our Hammer and Zeus tanks, to break their center. Their Coyotes had started evading our tanks, trying to outmaneuver us and go behind their back, where they could do more damage. They had speed on their side, but our Hammers managed to take them one by one. At the same time, a couple of our Torrents at the rear poured missiles on their infantry, breaking their formation and blowing them to bits. For a moment it seemed that we had them – then all hell broke loose. As we advanced, we discovered that they’ve booby-trapped the approach to the site with mines. Judging by the size of the explosion, they used both anti-personnel Frog mines and anti-tank Lizard Mines. That’s why they’ve been so reluctant to attack us from that direction. We must’ve detonated the bulk of them as we rushed forward, and now as we retreated. As if it couldn’t get any worse, they had a company completely hidden at those damn Ceiba trees. Now they’ve struck us from the side, forcing us to retreat towards the position that was, as I suspected, stacked with mines. No, this can’t be happening! A couple of our Fortresses were heavily damaged, now one of them has exploded, spraying the flammable liquid fuel all over our men. I must somehow take us out of this place, and quickly!
25 July, Wednesday 13:25
At that moment, something happened. At first, I couldn’t exactly see what it was through the cloud of flame, smoke, and vapors. Then I saw them – the Iron Brigade. They’ve engaged the enemy from the flank. The Brigade was greatly outnumbered, 4 to 1 in the favor of the Resistance, but somehow they had quickly managed to push them back toward their own mines. I don’t think that I’ve seen anything quite like it in my whole military career. The level of their coordination, their agility, the way they dispatched the enemy troops, their sheer brutality…I almost felt sorry for the Resistance. They had only a few vehicles with them, but they put them to good use. Their Assaults and Heavy Assaults had cut through the enemy ranks, followed by Fortress vehicles and Fire Assaults. The Fortresses tramped the dead and the dying, while Fire Assaults have systematically burnt everything behind them. It was sickening and exhilarating at the same time. Finally, when it was all over, the Brigade had gathered before me, in a neat double rank line formation, as if waiting for me to say something first. They’ve made their point. Me? For the first time, I was at a loss for words.