Looking around the broken village, the caramel-skinned man scoffed. With a gun in his hand and his helmet hanging off his neck he walked over to one of his squad members.
"Tyler, what the fuck are we doing here again?" he asked the redhead.
"The president finally gave in to Grosha. He sent us troops out to help in the war effort," the other man explained. "Now put on your fuckin' helmet. We're being sent out in a bit."
Daniel rolled his eyes. "The fuck for?"
"Recon. Bossman said there's suspicious activity in the outskirts of Moscow. It's too close to King Commie and our main base, so he's sending us to check it out."
This made the man groan. "Why are we always stuck with this bullshit, man?"
Tyler rolled his own set of eyes. "Suck it up and stop bitchin'. Let's go."
Daniel reluctantly obeyed to the command. Putting his helmet over his head, he followed Tyler to the other squad members so they could head out. The group of five left by the beginning of the afternoon. One member, Jason, suggested they take a jeep, but Tyler explained it would give them away.
Meanwhile, Daniel paid little attention to where they were going. His eyes scanned their surroundings with every step they took. He trusted no one other than his squad members. He didn't want to take the chance and die in another country. Brown orbs twitched and zoomed around with every noise made around them. Even just a snap of a tree branch was enough for him to snap his head in the disturbance's direction, gun nozzle following his line of sight. Tyler noticed it, and instantly scoffed at the rookie.
"I get we're treadin' on enemy territory, bud, but no need to be hostile to everything," he said with a laugh. "It's not like we'll run into a bear. It's like travelin' through Westchester for you!"
"Westchester wasn't filled with reds lookin' to get some target practice on me," Daniel retorted, keeping his eyes along the treeline.
"No need to go hard on 'im, Ty," another soldier, Arnold, chuckled. "Rookie's just nervous. Everyone's got their first day jitters on the field!"
The man was about to hiss at the chestnut-eyed kid before him. Arnold was younger than Daniel—only 17 while Daniel was 24-years-old—and yet he spoke like a man with experience. Daniel served far longer than he had in the military. Yes, this was his first time overseas. However, he never got the chance to be shipped off. He was just a newbie when the U.S. declared neutrality in Russia's civil war, and he wanted to stay at home for the first few months. It wasn't much long afterward that the country finally did something about the fight and joined in to support Russia and President Grosha.
"Can all of you just be quiet," Jason sighed. "We'll get fuckin' shot at this rate if ya'll don't shut your traps!"
Tyler nodded in agreement. "He's right. Keep it low, and don't shoot at anything without my orders. Got it?"
"Yes, sir," the group whispered in unison. With that, their march went on.
It was another few hours before the city could be seen in the distance. Daniel felt tired, as did the rest of the crew. Tyler stopped everyone as the sun started to set. He told everyone to search around so they could set up camp. After all, one couldn't rest until safety was guaranteed. Especially in a war.
Daniel laid against a tree, sighing in relief. "Fuck, my feet hurt," he groaned, agitated. "So what we havin' tonight boys?"
"Canned sausage. No different than at the base," Tyler announced, digging through his supplies. "It was supposed to be a quick 'search and go'. Didn't think it'd take this long to get to the damn place."
Arnold sighed. "At least the boys back at the base gave us some rice with that shit. They both taste like crap, but together ya've got some good shit goin' on."
"Shut the fuck up, Arnold," Jason hissed. "Ain't nobody wanna hear about your nasty tastebuds."
"Hey. That's an old family recipe, ya schmuck. Fuck off."
"Guys, enough," Daniel growled at the two. "Besides, it's war. We gotta take what we can get. So stop blabbering and start fuckin' eatin'."
The group grew quiet once again. Sometime after dinner, they discussed who'd stand guard. Daniel agreed to do it. Leaning against his tree, Daniel scoped the treelines in the dark. He had his pistol in his hand in case anything, or anyone, came to attack them. His eyes remained sharped despite being washed with fatigue. It had been a few hard weeks for Daniel.
When the war broke out, he heard a lot of citizens were trapped in the country. No one was allowed to leave, including foreigners that were visiting. He knew a couple of people that were in town when it started, and he had no doubt in his mind they were long gone by now. Dark and gruesome images flashed in his mind of rotting corpses by the streets filled with bullet holes, or scattered brain matter from explosions that were too close for them to even remotely survive it. Even if they did, they died from the loss of blood. It was inevitable. They were gone. Friends and friends that were like family. All gone in a matter of months.
Especially his dearest, Melanie.
Melanie was one of the most beautiful women Daniel ever met. With long, brown hair with matching eyes and black-rimmed glasses, Melanie was truly a work of art. She wasn't skinny, but she wasn't overweight. "Fluffy" was what he called her, which would always put a smile on her perfect face. Everything was perfect with her. Daniel couldn't remember a time he loved someone as deeply as he did with her.
However, their fall was a dark one. One that broke Daniel to the core, and before he could even fix what happened between them she disappeared. Went to Russia and was now most likely rotting away with the other poor folks who had nothing to do with this foolish war. Her perfect, long hair was mattered with blood and knotted with muck. Her eyes were glazed over, half-lidded, and lifeless. Her beautifully milky skin was now paler than ever. Daniel couldn't help but give out a light chuckle thinking of how that'd frustrate her. The girl always tried to look as Cuban as she could, lest more people confuse her with being your average, Caucasian city girl.
Daniel's laughter slowly died down. Now he began to wonder if he should've brought his pack. At least he wouldn't have to be stressed and miserable all at once.
The man scowled as he refocused on the trees. Any moment now, an enemy could pop out from them, and it was up to him to save his squad. Thankfully, he snapped out of his daydream just in time.
A small 'CRACK!' was heard not too far away, and Daniel jumped to his feet the moment he heard it. He pointed his gun at the darkness from whence the noise came from, narrowing his eyes at the shadowy figure.
"Who you?" he asked in his best, though still broken, Russian. No answer came from the shadows.
Another 'CRACK!' was heard, followed by another, and Daniel soon realized the thing was getting away. Grabbing his gun and other supplies, the soldier left his crew behind to chase after it. If it was a spy, he couldn't risk letting them go so they could report to their boss. If it was an animal, at least they'd have meat to bring back. Most importantly, if it was a citizen, they could save someone and escort them safely back to the base.
No matter how he looked at it, Daniel couldn't let them get away. He just couldn't.