Bullets slammed into the walls, and the four Galbadians returned fire. The rockets had exposed themselves trying to fire upon the building, and well aimed bursts had knocked them down. However, militiamen with rifles had returned fire, and the four soldiers were now pinned. The corporal on the radio tersely requested assistance.
A missile slammed into the building across the road, followed by streams of bullets that threw up dust as they ripped the bricks, mortar, and men in the way to shreds. The GASH-92 zoomed over to a now-clear rooftop and four soldiers leapt from the back. Becker watched as the four disappeared down a hole blasted into the roof, and the faint blasts of gunfire from within the building opposite rang out. Then about two minutes later, the front door of the building opened.
Four Galbadian troops in urban uniform and black tactical vests ran across the road quickly. Four more ran into view from the right hand side, and neared the vehicles. They ignored the rear two except to grab a fire extinguisher from the middle vehicle. As they began to put out the flames, Wedge came to the window of the building the eight survivors had holed up in.
'Morning, troops,' the Hauptmann said. 'I believe you're waiting on a lift. Well, simply follow the men out the back.'
The surprised members of the patrol did so, and Wedge led them out the back of the building, to find eight more TKSK soldiers controlling the street outside. He radioed in.
'Major, we have the eight men in the building, and are recovering bodies from the vehicles. Request one helicopter to get them out.'
'Roger that, Hauptmann, good work. You'll meet Hotel Alpha Three at sector four Zebra.'
'Roger,' Wedge replied, waving the eight men at the back to take the regulars to the pickup point. They quickly but cautiously ran down the street towards the designated area. Wedge and the other seven returned to recovering bodies, a GASH-92 hovering at the end of the street with two already loaded and another being put in.
'How many bodies are still in the vehicles?' Wedge yelled.
'Just one. He'll be out in a moment,' a Special Forces soldier replied.
'Move fast. We're going to use thermic charges on these, make sure the DB doesn't even get a sniff of any G-Army gear, then we're hauling ass to the LZ.'
The soldier nodded as the two others loading the fourth body finished, and ran to the rear four by four. A moment later, the four and final casualty of this ambush was removed and taken to the waiting helicopter. It quickly sped off, and a moment later, the Special Forces placed the charges and ran through the building once held by the men from the convoy. Seconds after that, what remained of the three vehicles was completely torn apart by the high-temperature charges, reducing everything important aboard to melted slag as the mixture of barium nitrate, aluminium and iron oxide burned through steel like it were butter.
The outer perimeter at the crash site became the first unit apart from the Special Forces and the ambushed convoy to fight, and the battle began in earnest. As GMR11 fire and AT rockets streaked into a column of technicals and infantry charging straight for the crash site from the northeast, more squadrons of the improvised attack vehicles and platoons of militia fighters hit the government controlled sectors. The Socialists and National Army had interpreted the fighting as government-initiated, and even when they realised the mistake, also realised the Galbadian forces were concentrating on the Democratic Brigade areas of the city. They didn't waste their window.
Twenty pickup trucks dropped men off near the airport, and zoomed towards the passenger terminal. The machineguns began raking the building with fire, only for AT missiles to streak out and destroy three. The militia surged towards the terminal, firing wildly, as the Galbadian and Government forces inside opened fire across the forecourt of the airport. The technicals roared towards the runway, engaging four Galbadian GPFWDV-80's at the gated access point that led through the fences to the hangars. The heavy machine guns on the Galbadian vehicles concentrated on a lead truck, ripping it apart in a hail of fire and causing it to flip over. The next crashed into it, and the fuel tank of one ignited in a fireball. The four Galbadian utility trucks kept up their hail of fire as the others drove past the wrecks and further along the perimeter fence of the airport.
They sped along the fence, and one smashed through. On the runway, three Galbadian IFV94 Infantry Fighting Vehicles turned their turrets to greet them. Tracked, medium armoured light tanks able to carry six soldiers in the rear, they were the heaviest vehicles the G-Army had deployed at the airport, and another twelve of them were on site. Twenty millimetre autocannon shells spat forth and tore more technicals apart as they vainly blazed away at the armoured fighting vehicles, not even a heavy calibre machine gun any match for the front armour of them.
At the docks, a National Army technical sped down the road leading to the main gate. It was blown apart by a shell from a Main Battle Tank parked outside. The technicals following it tried to turn around, but two other tanks trundled out of the dockyards and began firing. Then the column of APC's and IFV's from the base came down the opposite end of the road, pincering the attackers who sought to hit the docks. The crossfire ripped the entire NA attack force apart in less than a minute. The column ignored the possibility of survivors, either running over the wrecked trucks or barging them out of the way.
It was the crash site where the attack was almost overwhelming. The numbers of attackers forced the perimeter to fold on the northeast and fall back towards the inner perimeter. Zell and the seven other SeeD forces raced there. They held one city block, the ten roads in defended. One of those roadblocks, Romeo Golf six, was falling.
The twelve Galbadians there were being overrun by infantry, the hail of fire forcing them to fire blind. Zell and his team worked around to hit the attackers from the rear.
'Romeo Golf Six, Romeo Golf Six, this is Sierra Delta One. We're approaching from the rear of the tangos, keep your heads down and anything flammable away from the windows.'
The bewildered Galbadians wondered what that meant, only for a hail of magic to rip into the attacking infantry. Fire, lighting, and ice cut a swathe through the crowds of militiamen. One Galbadian looked out of a window in time to see the surviving militia cut down in a hail of ice shards, apparently being spat out by a pale blue woman floating off the ground near the building the magic had come from.
Then she vanished into thin air, and the rest of the militia appeared to follow suit. A few moments later, eight SeeD's ran towards the building held by Romeo Golf Six. Two stopped behind a burning, ice-peppered car, readying shoulder-launched rockets. Two dull pops and two screeches heralded the rocket's flight, and dull crumps from along the street indicated a target hit.
'Who's in control here?' Zell asked in Galbadian. A sergeant saluted.
'Stabsunteroffizier Scheer, sir,' the G-Army sergeant introduced himself.
'I'm going to leave you four more soldiers here, cover the corners. Keep the militia back and keep the roads open to friendlies.'
'Yes, sir,' the sergeant nodded, and began radioing orders to his own men. Zell waved four men, including Almeis, to join the Galbadians. And almost as quickly as the SeeD troops had came to clear the attack, the Captain and three others sprinted back to the crash site, Zell wondering why Galbadians, who were if not enemies of SeeD then at least hardly the best of buddies, could stow any issues with being under the command of a Balambian mercenary whereas Krastovians, so-called allies, bitched about everything SeeD did.
At the other roadblocks, the militia began to mass up. Within a few minutes, the defenders were besieged at every point on the perimeter, but in doing so, the Militia drew their forces thin.
At one roadblock area, accurate anti-tank rockets managed to block off the main route the militia had sought to attack down by immobilising three technicals. Militia solders vainly tried to scrabble over the wrecks, only for the scopes of the GMR11 rifles to help the defending Rangers pick them off like shooting fish in a barrel.
Even trying to go over the roof proved a mistake for the militia, for the inner perimeter had put themselves on the roof of the buildings they held. The residential area was composed of buildings no higher than two floors, with only a few shorter buildings well within the block held by the Allies.
A small group of Militiamen, carrying rocket launchers, attempted to sneak over the roofs to hit a roadblock. They were about a thousand yards away, but the high-powered scope on top of Irvine's L00 Bolt Action Sniper Rifle. A black plastic framed rifle which mounted a bolt action system and detachable five-round box magazine, it wasn't SeeD standard. In fact, most qualified SeeD snipers took their own personal weapon, and many took the BASR, despite it being shorter ranged than the SeeD version. However, it was a good deal lighter and due to its unusual side-folding stock, much easier to use in mobile warfare.
The head of the rear militiaman exploded, and in less than half a second, the front soldier was killed in the same manner by Selphie's SR2DM rifle. Before the bodies had even hit the ground, two more rounds were in the chambers of the rifles. By the time the remaining six heavy weapons soldiers realised a sniper was attacking, the next two bullets were in flight. Two more fell as the survivors scrabbled for cover. Irvine lined his crosshairs up on the backpack full of rockets one militiaman wore.
'Those look like type three rockets to you, Selphie?'
'Yeah. Anti-personnel frags. You going to set them off?'
'Might as well. If they want to bring the wrong weapons to attack a dug in squad, their problem.'
A second later, the militiaman vanished in a cloud of dust, and the other three were hurled off the roof and to their deaths.
Other roof-moving Militia squads were picked off in less unconventional manners. Bursts from Squad Automatic Weapons and General Purpose Machine Guns reached out over the rooftops and ripped the militiamen down, sheer hails of fire accomplishing the end result of a bullet into a rocket.
An hour after the crash, the perimeter teams were facing overwhelming numbers. Zell ordered a careful fallback to a few streets just beyond the inner perimeter, and the allies left a few simple traps for the defenders. Remote antipersonnel mines and motion detectors had been set up within the perimeter by the inner defenders, and as an orderly fall back saw the perimeter collapse inwards, the first militia were allowed to actually pass over the traps.
This meant that the mines were set off in the middle of masses of Militia troops and vehicles, killing or wounding dozens in the path of the shrapnel. Those at the front turned in surprise to look behind them, those at the back slowed down. The entire goal of the distraction was for the rearguard to lob grenades into the groups of militia and pour an entire magazine from their rifles into the enemy troops at the rear. Those at the front were mostly eliminated by the grenades, those at the back fled for cover. The soft skinned vehicles had been easy prey for the explosions and even if the crew in the open topped improvised fighting vehicles hadn't been hit by shrapnel, the engines often wound up immobilised. Short bursts of fire into the few moving engines almost certainly rendered them nothing but a lump of steel and oil.
The fall back ambush made the militia pause, and that pause was exploited to help set up another set of booby traps behind the new perimeter. Knowing the enemy would not mass up again, the mines were planted at the sides of the streets, overlapping the cones of death. The ambush squads this time consisted of just a single SeeD operator or two Galbadians, ready to begin hurling magic or grenades down into the streets from a second floor window.
However, even as the Democratic Brigade forces found that not even their numbers could help them crowbar open the defences, the other, better equipped factions found easier targets. The Galbadian Embassy was held by only a platoon of Marine guards, and the first technicals roared past, blazing at the walls of the building. The Marines returned fire and knocked out a couple of technicals, but the militia circled the building, pinning them down.
'Major, we've got reports the embassy is under attack,' a radio operator shouted across the command centre.
'Where are TKSK?' Caspar asked.
'They're airborne again, sir, just heading to help clear the way for the crash site relief column.'
'Have them move to the embassy, get the relief squads to reinforce there as well. Where is the relief column?'
'They're currently bogged down on the way, taking rocket fire into the lead armour, forced to return fire with autocannons.'
The column itself indeed was crawling along, an IFV aiming its main gun at the windows. The commander, using a remote control system, rotated his machinegun from ground floor door or window, to ground floor door or window. Roadblocks had to be blasted out of the way with wire-guided missiles and explosive charges, for not even a tracked vehicle could simply run over a pile of rubble or overturned cars that a suicidal bomber or some other booby trap could be lying below.
The four roads around the embassy had about twelve technicals now circling, and the antitank rockets had run out. Only precise fire could help stop the vehicles, and without something to stop the machine-guns on the back of the militia fast attack carriages, all the Marines could do was blaze out of the windows for half a second before diving for cover.
The four GASH-92 helicopters lined up, approaching on each road that led to the embassy. Four roads, three helicopters. The result, hails of rockets and minigun rounds ripped the dusty roads apart and shredded the thin steel of the technicals as the helicopters circled the roads like the cars below had. They quickly landed on the rooftop helipad, and the Special Forces leapt out, twelve of the sixteen strong troop reinforcing the marines, but also providing another useful service: a means to get important personnel out of the embassy. Oberst Golmann and eleven key embassy staff, including the ambassador, raced to the roof. Under the cover of the other two scout/attack helicopters circling the embassy and firing at any hostile target, the first of four boarded and left.
The second helicopter landed, the remaining one covering the roads. One more, the last and most dangerous, covered only by small arms and the few antitank rockets the Special Forces had brought. But it was a success. The small helicopters were faster and more manoeuvrable, able to either outrun or jink past rockets from the ground, and never worrying about any radar guided or heat seeking missiles, for the stealth choppers simply would not be registered by most weapons as even existing.
'Major Caspar, all we need is some heavier birds to get the rest of the embassy staff out, and we can turn the place into one giant booby trap,' Wedge radioed in.
'Negative on that, Hauptmann, the 92s took heavy fire on the way out. Anything bigger or slower would be torn from the sky while the embassy staff got on. You and the Marines are going to have to sight tight, and hold your ground.'
'Are there at least reinforcements dropping in?'
'The last platoon we've got spare is on the way, but everyone else is committing or on the ground convoys. We'll keep the 92s in the air and do our best to keep you covered.'
'Roger that, sir,' Wedge said. He moved to the window, where a marine and one of his men were firing upon militia in the street below. Wedge joined in, semi-automatic shots aimed precisely into the crowds of gunmen trying to overrun the embassy.
An hour later, the first IFV rolled through the roadblock, having spent nearly two hours fighting through Militia cordons. The column had made it there intact, and remarkably, bar those killed during the first ambushes, only a few more had been wounded since the fighting had begun, the poor marksmanship of the Dishagoum soldiers ensuring that.
The vehicle column surrounded the crash site, engineers with cutting equipment moving to carefully extract the trapped men and the body. The arrival of the column drew in more militia, and, the entire allied defence, backed by the vehicles, fought tooth and nail as the militia charged blindly and fanatically.
'Oberst Golmann, welcome back, sir,' Caspar said, saluting the colonel.
'Major. How are we doing?'
'The crash site has just been relived by the convoy, and we have men defending key areas of the city.'
'Have you called in reinforcements from the fleet?' the colonel asked, meaning the carrier battle group of the GNS Deling stationed forty miles off the coast.
'Not yet, sir, that requires your authorisation.'
'Then you have it. Call in troops from Bakara as well, I want to be retaking this city in three hours, and I want the embassy evacuated. Who's in charge at the crash site?'
'It was a SeeD captain until...'
'Ah yes, General Caraway's hired guns. I see he hasn't managed to screw up too badly, so, let's have him and the spares from the crash site defence move to the embassy. Bring the pilots and bodies back here, and make sure we hold what we have now.'
'Yes sir,' the Major replied.
A few moments later, and forty miles away on the deck of the GNS Deling, two GAF-17A Naval Fighter/Bomber aircraft were preparing to launch. The eighty thousand ton super carrier was escorted by two missile cruisers and three destroyers, plus a Marine helicopter attack ship, GNS Luthor Hoffman. Marines were swarming into their helicopters on the deck of that ship, and the three VTOL GAF-17B Close Air Support fighters from that ship were already rushing to the capital city. Also floating out from the marine ship, six landing craft, carrying marines, armoured vehicles, and most significantly, battle tanks.
The Militia had begun a small war in ignorance of the threat of superior firepower, and the Peacekeepers were about to bring it to bear.
The counter-attack rested upon three things: The airbase, the airport, and docks remaining in the hands of the allies. Marine airborne could land directly into the city, but the only real option for the armour was to land at a friendly docks. The now-mobilizing paratroopers coming from the city of Bakara needed wide spaces to drop down, and since they were bringing light tanks and four by fours, the airport provided the best possible LZ other than the airbase. Landing at the airbase took them five miles and at least two hours from the Galbadians being able to form a force capable of pushing out into the city.
The trouble was, holding the airport relied significantly on the Dishagoum government, and currently, they were being routed across the city. They were falling back on the parliament building, and the defenders at the airport were being siphoned off to defend the house of the government. Galbadia, stuck in a holding action by lack of manpower, could offer little support but from the air, and for all the devastation an airstrike could reap, the planes and helicopters needed to pick off specific targets: civilians were still cowering in basements or shelters.
The airport became the next main target of the militia just as the defending Government forces fled to the parliament. They hit the terminal building with technicals again, and the first wave was halted by the Galbadians alone. The next, however, proved tougher.
Some of the militia factions had captured tanks from the government in the early days of the fighting, Esthar Battle Tank 1s from the forties that were obsolete against modern wire guided antitank missiles. But they were still a threat. One of these ancient tanks drove up with a squad of technicals, these technicals mounting large antitank missile launchers of their own.
The Militia artillery pounded the Terminal, and the missile gunners had no time to get a lock before being forced to take cover. Even as the shelling continued, militia infantry swarmed the terminal, and began to engage the Galbadians within in close quarters fighting. The Galbadians had the edge, hurling grenades and flash bangs to complement the blue-on-blue fire from the artillery outside, but the sheer numbers and fanaticism of the charging militia soon drove the Galbadians out of the building as the tanks and technicals trundled to the rear of the airport, where a few hours ago the technical charge had been halted by four by fours and light tanks.
However, even an obsolete tank was able to last against the machineguns of the four by fours, and they retreated, chased by shells from the technicals. One was hit, knocked off the road, but its crew managed to bail out and jump quickly onto another. The IFV's rolled down to the gate, six of them raking the technicals and the tank with autocannon fire, and were elated to see all the attacking vehicles immobilised or destroyed. Unfortunately, the tank had merely been halted, and its main gun spoke one last time before the IFV's silenced it with concentrated autocannon fire. That shell slammed into the turret of an IFV, and rendered the autocannon useless as well as disrupting the fire control system that let the commander's machine gun be operated with a closed hatch.
And as the militia infantry and more technicals began to swarm to the gate, even the IFV's realised that they could not hold back the tide. The Militia concentrated their light rocket launchers, knocking out more autocannons, hull-mounted miniguns, and commander's guns. The damaged IFV's retreated, and the militia spilled into the hangars.