04 August, Friday 03:15
I knew it! I just knew that something was brewing in that big, dumb, bovine head of his for a while now! And with all the excitement because I’ll finally clear my name from that unfortunate episode in Tey Cuare, I completely forgot about Major John Tusk of the Iron Brigade. But he, apparently, haven’t forgotten about me. I’ll admit it straight away as an officer and a gentleman: it’s my bad. If there’s one sin that I was guilty of, it was the sin of pride. And in my great pride, I’ve underestimated my enemy. Oh, I’m not talking about Zhukov right now. No. I’ll deal with him later. I’m talking about the enemy in our midst. Domestic Enemy. You know the kind: sneaky, cheating, lying and backstabbing. They say that you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer. If that’s the case, I’ve should’ve taken Tusk under my wing completely, involving him in my deepest, most secretive plans and machinations, just to keep him satisfied and secure his loyalty. Alas, I’ve omitted to do that. Why? I’m not even sure myself. But I know this now: for some reason, the man disgusts me nearly as much as I’m wary of him and his soldiers. There’s something extremely unnatural about them, inhuman even. There, I’ve said it. So far I had to tolerate them because of the Senate and their stupid decision, but the gloves are off now.
04 August, Friday 04:00
I was just preparing to issue an order for a nice, rapid, nighttime attack when Tusk and a group of his men suddenly confronted me. Thanks to Elena, the girl I’ve let escape – by the way, why does her name sound so familiar? – we found out Zhukov’s location. And now – this! Not counting Tusk, there were about dozen of them: all in their armors, fully dressed for a party. And, no doubt, many more lurking in the darkness. Which means that they’ve been preparing their little coup for some time now. Well, touché! I was almost tempted to applaud them. “It’s over, general,” Tusk was kind to inform me. “I’m running the show now. Hand down any weapons you might have on you. I’ll also expect all documents, reports and anything else of use on my desk.” He must’ve seen me standing, stupefied, so he decided to spur me a bit. “Now, general!” A dozen rifles immediately pointed in my direction, like an echo of his voice. Your desk, major? How very amusing of you. You mean MY desk? What gives you the right to act like this? I’m still your general and this is insubordination. “I act on the authority of the Senate. They warned me that something like this might happen. And you, general, you’ve just released a POW. A spy, no less. That makes you a traitor”. He smiled, his perfect, white teeth shining in half-darkness. I almost couldn’t believe his stupidity. Let’s negotiate this, I tried to reason with him. “You’re in no position to negotiate with me, general.” Oh, think so? I was playing with something in my pocket while he was babbling. A simple remote controller. Now I’ve pressed the button. Suddenly, all around us, lights began turning on. The glorious metallic hum was heard, as the barrels of all of my Torrents started aiming at Tusk and his men. Well, it seems that I’m not the only one who’d underestimated his enemy. I’ll turn you to crater, major. Or we can talk. The choice is entirely yours. You should’ve seen the look on Tusk’s face. Like a scolded child. Priceless.
04 August, Friday 06:15
I’ve decided to confide in Tusk. Give him a little responsibility. Make him feel better about himself. I told him why I’ve released Elena. Told him that she may be a spy, but she’s my spy now. And now we know where to strike and end our mission here. Instead, we’re losing a precious time over this domestic squabble. Oh, I know that she’ll go straight away to Zhukov. In fact, I’m counting on it. But, you see, his hands are tied, he has to destroy “Shroud”. Or die trying. I know his kind well. But to get there, he’ll have to go through us – the Confederation forces united with the famous, unbeatable Iron Brigade. You know how it goes. Fairy Tales for little children, boy scouts, and vainglory soldiers – take your pick which category Tusk belongs. For a moment I wasn’t sure what will happen, whether he’ll accept or he’ll try something stupid, like blow my brains out with this gun. I could almost see little wheels spinning and turning inside his head, as he was considering everything I’ve told him. Then he took the bait – completely and greedily, like an enormous catfish.
04 August, Friday 12:35
So here we are finally, preparing to attack Zhukov and his forces. What a picture-perfect spectacle we make, our Fortresses and Zeus tanks in front, decorated with Confederation flags and Brigade insignias. The only thing that was missing is marching band music, but we had to do without it. I could see that Tusk was eager to charge at Resistance at once, to tear them apart, but I’ve stopped him. Why don’t we let our Torrents deal with them instead? Even across a distance that separated us, I could see that he was disappointed. The fool was probably imagining himself riding into battle, Valkyries rushing above his head, earning eternal glory and a seat at Valhalla, Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture as the soundtrack for his heroics, or some similar nonsense. Why making unnecessary sacrifices, when there’s a more elegant way? From afar, Resistance seemed almost like heard of frightened rabbits. On my command Torrents started pounding them without mercy, getting closer and closer to the mark, as they’ve adjusted the distance. Soon, their vehicles started exploding. I’ve seen the commotion in their ranks which is always a good sign. They’re about to break. Their Jaguar tanks responded with fire, but, as we were a bit out of their reach, they started getting nearer. A big mistake. Moving like that, and shooting almost blindly on whatever target they could get, they were almost sitting ducks. While I was just starting to enjoy myself, Zhukov made his real move. When I’ve finally realized that he sent several Coyotes which managed to get close to my Torrents and destroy quite a few of them, it was too late. Damn it! I have to admit that Zhukov knows what he’s doing – not that it’ll help him. I’ve noticed that they’ve started falling back a bit, trying to consolidate their position. Oh no, you won’t! It’s time for Brigade to show us what they know. They started with some kind of maneuver where they divided into three parts trying to thwart their retreat. Efficient, methodical and deadly, as always. Soon it will be all over.
04 August, Friday 12:50
And then something happened, something impossible. The ionized cloud started forming between us and the Resistance. How? They had no Chameleons as I could see, and yet they somehow managed to generate the fog. Perhaps they’ve somehow got their hands on a couple of fog generation units or whatever technology they’re using. Ingenious! Got to hand it to Zhukov, the man know what he’s doing. He also must know that the fog will last only a couple of minutes, tops. When it clears, they’ll be dead. I’ve ordered my units to fire at will. We mustn’t allow them to recover, otherwise, they could try to escape into Espinal forests south of our location. Just a little longer! All of a sudden, I heard a voice from my radio:” General, “Shroud” facility here. We need help. Do you hear me? General, get out of there. We have an infiltration. I repeat infiltration! We did what we could, but they’re overpowering us. Get us some help!” I almost froze. All this was a ruse. A decoy. Zhukov must’ve sent someone to infiltrate “Shroud”, while we’re losing our time here. As the fog was starting to clear up, I could see the Resistance spreading out, zigzagging this way and that. No time for that now got a bigger fish to fry. I tried my comm device – still working. I’ve left a few of my men at our camp, a couple of Brigade soldiers too. I’ve contacted them and had quickly briefed them about our situation, so they went to “Shroud” directly. That will have to do until I arrive there.
04 August, Friday 17:20
Our retribution was swift and without mercy. Just as I’ve supposed, it wasn’t a large force: just a small unit of about twenty commandos and my old acquaintance – Elena. They’ve managed to gain access into the facility, heading towards control room and eliminating guards on their way. I wonder why they haven’t just blown up everything while they still could. What were they looking for? Well, we’ll have the time to draw some answers from them. I don’t think that I’ll interfere with Tusk’s…appetites this time. He can have the girl as far as I’m concerned, she’s no use to me anymore. This also means that Zhukov will be here soon, no doubt about it. The only question is: when? And how? Let him come, we’ll be prepared. I’ve checked the perimeter, secured all exits, and manned all possible entry points. Zhukov so far proved as a worthy adversary, so I’m almost excited about his arrival. Almost. This can end only one way. Mine.