He walked as casually as he could, his armor, weapons, ammunition, and other supplies being rather bulky. The weight didn’t bother him so much as the fact that it did restrict his movements some. He kept his eyes sharp for any movement around the area. His half of the squad was spread out as much as he could get it. He turned as he walked, scanning to see where the others were. As he turned back around he realised that one of the newer men had stopped, his weapon to his shoulder as if he meant to fire. “What you got?” He asked the replacement, for the life of him he couldn’t remember the kids name. “Got movement over here, Corporal.” Said the replacement, Stine? No, that wasn’t it either. He looked in the direction the kid indicated and saw movement, grey clad movement. “Everybody down!” He commanded over his comms unit. He wasn’t sure but it looked like at least a squads worth of European Union infantry. “Keep down, do not open fire unless you are fired upon.” He said gently over the comms. Those were standing orders, not to provoke any confrontation. The politicians thought it looked better if they only fired back to defend themselves. Dead Marines on the news was apparently more acceptable when giving justifications for war. He didn’t want any of his men to be those dead Marines, nor himself. He checked his GPS terrain map, making sure they were on their side of the Dividing Line. They were, and the Euros were on the wrong side. Still, they were outnumbered, which was never good. Standard Operations Protocol was for him to inform the Euros they were over the Line. He wondered if the genius who’d though up that little rule had any idea things like this may happen. Nope, he decided, the men who wrote the rules for any armed conflict usually never saw the frontlines. He cleared his throat, wishing like Hell he had a bottle of something other than the water in his camel vest. He slowly stood up, making sure his weapon wasn’t directly aimed at them, but still able to be quickly aimed at them if necessary. “Attention European Union soldiers!” He shouted, as clearly as he could. “You are over the Dividing Line! Keep your weapons where I can see them and I will escort you back across the Line!” He shouted. The replacement hissed up at him; “think we’re at war?” Rudd shrugged his shoulders. “If we are, they’d know. Nobody’s told me a thing.” He replied back, making sure none of his men were visible. Only thing is, if an enemy is confronted by only one combatant who wishes to escort them back to their lines, they assume numbers are not in the individual’s favor. Also, when twelve people have one target, the odds of them missing that target are very low. “What if we refuse, eh?” Demanded one of the Euros. The voice heavily accented, Dutch probably. “Then I guess we have an issue. But I do have a full company of reinforcements in the area that I can call upon to help you find your way if you like.” The replacement snorted at his feet. “Do we really have a full company?” He asked Rudd. “Kid, I’m so full of shit right now, my eyes are probably brown.” Rudd replied. The kid laughed nervously. “Alright, we will pull back to our side of the Line. We got turned around, this area all looks the same.” The Euro replied. Rudd snorted. “Yeah, sure. I’m Chinese too, just call me Wang.” He muttered to himself. His bluff had worked though, the Euros swiftly made there way back towards the Line. He watched them go, waving after they were down the hill and officially across the line. He waited for them to get out of sight, scanning the area with his rifle scope to ensure none were watching him. “Alright, everybody up. Just barely managed to keep that from getting out of control.” He said. The replacement, Stegman, that was his name, stood and looked in the direction of the Line. “what would you have done if they’d called your bluff?” He asked. Rudd put the safety on his rifle and slung it over his shoulder. “Waited for them to fire, then hoped like Hell they couldn’t aim.” He said, wondering how he managed to sound so casual about the idea of him dying. Decided he was just tired, and so they made their way back towards the town. Back towards her. He noted the area on his terrain map and also noted the number and formation they’d used. They had been scouting out the terrain, the high ground here being an essential defensive position for anyone who could take it. He sighed, at least no one got shot. But a nagging voice in the back of his mind said that they had merely delayed the inevitable war that would come. Millions, maybe billions would die when it came. He pushed his thoughts away from the image of a mass grave full of blue clad corpses. The most haunting part was that he could see a lone figure standing over the grave. She was crying uncontrollably, he realized as his mind played out the image that the reason was simple. He was one of the bodies in the grave.

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