Chapter 1: Honcho
"Sorry about that Honcho."
. Short for Head Honcho. Miles still wasn't sure how he felt about that. He couldn't tell if they snickered about it behind his back or if it was intended as a sign of respect. He had sort of backed into the position after that whole muck of a situation with Gomer, but who would pass up getting promoted to Squad Forerunner, regardless of situation? Thoughts for another time.
"Don't worry about it Dougie. Let's focus on what we can do now," Miles responded. Dougie had missed a check as they'd worked their way down an alleyway, and one of the opposing forces had ambushed with a quick pop to Kevin. With Kevin out, the squad was down to four with a lot of ground to cover and undoubtedly some fortifications.
"Alright, Honcho, what's the plan?" Carly asked, getting them back on point. Again though, Miles wasn't sure if there was a slight bit of sarcasm behind that - as if they didn't really trust him.
Miles' mind began to race. They were in the middle of a training assault mission. Their goal was simple - extract documents held at a known location on the field, and return them to where they began. The not so easy part was the opposition. Blake was known as the most ruthless Forerunner of any of the squads and it showed in their ranking, consistently near the top. He'd undoubtedly taken full advantage of the one hour preparation period before the assault to set up appropriate defenses, and they'd already fallen for a one man (as far as he knew) ambush much further from the extraction point than expected. Miles was really being thrown into the fire on this first attempted mission as Kilo Squad's Forerunner.
"Miles, you there? We can't just wait around for Blake to pounce. We gotta at least try something," Carly again.
"I know. I know. I need a bit of a scout and I'll come up with a few ideas. Ash-" before he could even finish his sentence, the small, quiet Ashley had already sprung away. She never said much, but was always quick to action.
The crew waited for a short bit, calmly scanning out the small alcove they'd met in after the scramble resulting from the ambush. She returned and explained what the field looked like from the vantage point she'd claimed at the top of a tree nearby. As Miles had suspected, Blake had chosen his extraction point wisely given the terrain of the simulation. There was a wide range of barren hills, directly in front of the extraction point, coupled with a tight forest off to the left and
a small townscape to the right. Miles would have gladly taken either of the sides. While generally holding off in a corner, to decrease the number of angles of attacks, was a good idea, given the barren hills up the middle made for a difficult decision for Miles.
"I say we go in guns blazing, right up the middle. Charlie Squad can't shoot for shit and Blake probably expects us to choose one of the sides. I'd love to wipe that smirk off his face when we show up right on his front doorstep!" Carly offered.
"There's a surprise. Bad shots or not, that hill sounds like a death trap. Just trying to entice us into a big mistake," Dougie responded. Ashley nodded her head in agreement while the brazen Carly just scoffed as usual. This left all three of them staring at Miles.
"I've got an idea. But you're not going to like it, and it goes against most of what they teach us," Miles cautioned.
"Out with it, Honcho," Carly spat.
"Alright. We're gonna split up." Eyes shifted, but no one said anything just yet. "Ashley, you're going to be on your own. Dougie and Carly, you're with me." Carly started shaking her head and beginning to counter, but Miles just kept on going. "Ashley, I'm taking your rifle." Even Ashley raised a brow at this, but Miles was doing his best to seem confident, so he plowed on with his idea. "I know how attentive to detail Blake is - almost to a fault. He'll be counting the rifles he hears if we attack anywhere. His whole squad is trained to do that. The three of us will work our way through the town. No doubt encountering opposition and some fancy configurations, but that's fine. With all three of us, sounding like four of us, making a strong push through town, Blake will try to pull all in for the kill. All the while, Ashley, I want you to speed your way right along the edge of that forest, darting in as needed, making haste to that extraction point. We'll supply a full distraction, and hopefully you'll get in and out untouched."
"That's straight fizz Honcho." Dougie quipped. Miles waited though, and the silence was all the confirmation he needed.
"Ashley, make sure you hear the firing before moving in for the docs. Good luck." Ashley gave a small nod, the intensity of focus in her eyes, and she took off.
Without needing to speak much more, Miles, Dougie, and Carly took off towards the outskirts of the small town. All the while, Miles began to wonder if this was such a good idea. He could only imagine what the After Action Report
would look like, slamming him for sending Ashley off on her own. He was sure his strategic score would be decimated by this, regardless of whether they succeeded or not. But he was all in. No turning back at this point, so he was committed to making it work.
As they came up to the town, Miles motioned for them to stick tight and begin a tactical move forward. With two of them checking all angles, the third and rearmost of the squad would move forward a few yards, find appropriate cover, and begin spotting themselves. Repeating this over and over, they agonizingly slowly moved forward, knowing any second they could make contact with the opposition.
Before Miles even realized it, shots were ricocheting off the wall above his head and he was diving for cover.
"Contact! Contact! I heard what I believe to be two points of fire off to our left!" Carly called out. Already things looked bad. Dougie had moved forward in their leapfrogging movements, and just as he'd found cover is when the firing had opened up. Miles imagined Charlie Squad had been watching them for some time, and waiting for an over aggressive progression forward to split them up. They'd done exactly that.
Just as quickly as the firing had began, it stopped. An eery silence fell over the rubble filled town. It reminded Miles of pictures he'd seen of a great war some time ago. Lots of stone buildings, all a bit decrepit, with alleyways and wide open streets strewn with debris. Carly was a few yards ahead of him, holding herself up against a corner of a stone building. Dougie was maybe 40 yards ahead, sheltered behind the sill of a street side shop - the window having been blown out by the quick burst of fire. Miles flashed some quick signals to Dougie to stay put. He was concerned that they'd only accounted for potentially two defenders. He needed to draw the opposition all in, or else Ashley had no chance.
With his brain racing, Miles looked to Carly who shot him furtive glances as she tried to scan the buildings across the wide street for where the shots had originated from. Miles recognized he needed to do something, and he needed to do it now. He motioned to Carly to lay down some fire, offering him the momentary chance to make a movement towards Dougie. On the count of three. One. Two. Three!
Miles ran as Carly fired blindly across the street, pausing only for a second to allow Miles to pass. Miles was gaining ground on Dougie just as the battering of fire elevated to another level.
Dougie peeked over this sill of the window and began firing shorts bursts, but Miles realized that not all this cacophony of fire was from his squad. Fearing his head down run would knock him out too early, he dove into a small alley between two buildings. His heart was pounding, but moreso, his mind was ticking, realizing the horrible situation he was in as he gazed down the alley and saw nothing but a stone wall. What had he been thinking? Blindly running a basic maneuver when he had no idea where the opposition was holding out. Again, the firing died down and the same silence fell over the town.
"Miles, you hit?" Dougie called out.
Miles was about to call back, as the opportunity struck him. Depending on the vision of his opposition, they may not know whether or not they had struck him. He could take advantage of this, and firing anew elsewhere, could make it seem like this was the whole squad. Giving Ashley exactly the freedom she needed. Miles looked around rapidly, trying to find someway to escape this alley.
"Miles? Damnit! Carly! How far out are you?" Dougie continued after the lack of response.
"About 30 yards. But that's a long thirty yards my friend," Carly called back.
There was no magic escape for Miles. No way to climb the wall in the back of the alley. No side doors to the two buildings. No drain pipe to climb up. Simply nothing. It was just as his hopes were flailing that Miles got the small miracle he needed. Carly used the one smoke grenade allocated to the team. Clearly seeing the situation was dire, she chose to use the valuable piece of equipment, likely in an attempt to make it to Dougie in one piece. With the smoke billowing, the opposition opened up blind fire - this time sounding like like a consistent drumming, as at least four rifles opened up. Miles saw, despite this rain of fire, a shadow pass in front of the alleyway. Carly was sprinting her way to Dougie, cast away in the large plume of smoke.
Miles knew this was the time to be unpredictable. Rather than jump behind Carly and regroup with Dougie if they could escape the fire, he ran directly across the street. Now likely on the walled off by fire side of the opposition, Miles had the element of surprise on his side for the first time that day. He wondered how Carly and Dougie would proceed, having lost their Forerunner as far as they knew, one other member of the squad, and with their third squadmate running without a gun on the other side of the
With a slight feeling of helplessness, Miles creeped into the backdoor of a one of the buildings. He was immediately met with stairs up to what he assumed was the second floor. He lightly stepped up the stairs, but the old stairs did everything in their power to betray him. As he got to the top, Miles assumed his moment of surprise must be over. The creaking had to have been too much. Nonetheless, he peaked around the corner and saw the emptiness of a small living space. Windows lay wide open to the street below. He cautioned towards the windows and peered down. The smoke was slowly billowing away, and Miles could make out the broken glass storefront that Dougie has been hiding out in. It was unclear whether Carly had made it to him, and whether either of them were still there.
Pondering what to do next, the importance of his role quickly became apparent. Fire opened up again on that small storefront, and Miles had to assume that Carly and Dougie were trapped in the small space. He quickly realized that the firing was coming from both a building to his right and left. A quick poke of his head out the windows, and he saw that the building immediately to his right housed a shooter, and a building two to his left housed another shooter - both on the second floor. This provided a superior angle to hold Carly and Dougie at bay, and with the smoke all but gone, it looked as though the two members of Kilo squad were sufficiently trapped.
The fire continued intermittently until Miles saw something that he couldn't quite believe. A pair was slowly moving out of the first floor of the building two down to his left. Miles had no time to think, he pulled his rifle up and began firing. The distance was a bit further than he expected, so his first few shots fell short. However, holding down the trigger he watched as one of the figures crumpled to the ground. At this, the other turned around, clearly in a state of confusion, assuming that the fire was coming from his or her own squad. Miles wasted no time reloading his rifle, but rather grabbed Ashley's rifle off his back and continued firing. Not even allowing time for the second figure to yell out, they fell too. At this, Miles heard the confusion he needed as feet slammed into wood as the opposition in the two residing buildings ran to the window front and peered out.
This was exactly the turn they needed. Suddenly the odds were even, almost in their favor. Two Charlie squad members down and mass
confusion for the defense, not realizing Miles had crossed the lines of fire. Miles heart jumped with confidence. Maybe they would pull this off indeed. He turned back to the steps to run back down and continue his behind enemy lines disruption.
Pop! Pop! Miles felt a cold sensation surge through his body. His eyes transfixed, there was Blake, at the top of the stairs with fire in his eyes. Miles could not fathom how he had reached him so quickly. That moment of jubilation, the hope of success, immediately washed away as he slumped to the floor. The paralysis effect of the simulation bullets activated and he lay motionless on the ground.
"Sneaky," Blake hissed and he turned off. Not bothering another second on Miles.
The slight pain of the bullets hitting his skin and the odd feeling of paralysis tried to overcome Miles' thoughts. But the only thing he could consider at this moment was his ability to count. The speed at which Blake had reached could only mean one thing. Two in the streets, two in second floor buildings, and one to shoot him down. All five Charlie Squad members had come calling. Now all he could do was wait.