A small group of men made their way near a couple of warehouses. They hid behind some barrels, keeping an eye of their surroundings. They were not to be seen by anyone.
Brad glanced around. Somehow, he had a feeling that this mission would not go as expected. The mission itself was simple: they were supposed to blow up these warehouses. To their knowledge, there wasn't anything too important stored here; this would simply be a message to the Slayheim military.
"Why do you seem so nervous, Brad?" asked one of the men. "There aren't that many soldiers around..."
"I don't know... I just have the feeling that this might be a trap. Everyone, be extra careful."
The dark-blond man on Brad's other side smiled. "Trap or not, we'll get this done. Here..." He handed the dark-haired man half of the explosives he was carrying.
They waited for ten more minutes, but nothing changed. Finally, Brad decided it was time. "Sun is setting. You three, with me, and the rest of you go with Billy. Try to remain unseen. But if we are seen... Well, then we'll have to fight."
"Of course, we're hoping that we don't have to," Billy added. "We're a bit outnumbered here..."
One of the men looked across the yard. "A bit? What about those barracks? There's enough room for at least fifty men..."
Brad shook his head. "We'll just have to hope there aren't that many. These warehouses are not supposed to be that important to them. The barracks are there because they could store something important here, like weapons... And that's why we have to destroy those buildings. Anyway... any other questions? If not..."
No one said anything, so Billy nodded. "Good. Let's go!"
After the group split up, they prepared themselves for their tasks. Brad led his men around the first warehouse and looked around. There were a few guards on the front side of the building, but no one was walking around or checking the area.
"Hmm... See those?" He motioned to the other men and pointed at some crates. "If we go around them..."
One of the men, a blond, nodded. "Yeah... the hard part is to get there unseen. And we still need to get into the warehouse... Well, it's dark, and there isn't much light there. Should work."
The leader of the group nodded and took a quick glance on the area before sneaking around the corner, stopping behind a few barrels. They would go on one by one when the guards would be on the other side of the warehouse...
He turned around when he heard a gunshot. "Go back! Out of sight, everyone! That means trouble..."
"The others?" one of the men asked.
"Probably an ambush..." The tall man replied, looking dark. "I should've known..."
They ran to the other side of the building. Brad could see there was a fight in front of the second warehouse; there were a dozen soldiers, and Billy's group was on the opposite side using some crates as a cover.
"We've got to help them," the blond said. "But first, we need to..."
"Don't let those rebels get away!!!"
The blond man turned, and there was a gunshot... and then he just fell into Brad's arms. The tall man could see another dozen soldiers appearing from where they had been just a minute ago.
"Dammit...! Take cover!!" The black-haired man ordered the others, dragging the dead comrade with him. The others ran, barely dodging the gunfire.
Brad dove behind a barrel along with one of his men and looked around. This wasn't good. One of his men had fallen, and one of Billy's men was wounded.
We still have a job to do, he thought. Hmm, what if...
"Billy!" He called. When the brown-haired man turned to look at him, he pointed at the largest warehouse. "Cover me. I'm going to blow up that one. Might work as a diversion, too... We got to get out of here."
Billy shook his head first, but seeing the look on his friend's face, he nodded slightly and turned to face the soldiers.
Brad nodded to the man next to him. "Take care of him," he ordered, giving the body of the blond over to the other man. "We're not leaving him here... He took that bullet for me..."
The other nodded. Brad got up and ran across the yard towards the warehouse, avoiding the few bullets shot at his direction. He stumbled over to the door, knocked out a couple of guards with his bare hands and tore the door open.
There were huge boxes inside the warehouse. One of them was open - Brad could see a couple of ARMs there. "The hell...? There wasn't supposed to..."
He didn't have time to think about it now. He glanced around, took a few more steps, planted the explosives in the middle of the warehouse and set the timer to 20 seconds - that would simply have to be enough. Then he activated the bomb and ran.
Billy and the others were still fighting the Slayheim military. His men had managed to get the wounded man out of the way, so they didn't have to worry about that. He had ordered everyone to get away from the large warehouse, knowing that it was just a matter of seconds until it would blow up.
"There are more of them coming!" shouted one of his men. "We're badly outnumbered!"
"We were that from the beginning," the dark blond replied. "Just..."
That was all he had time to say until there was an explosion. "Get down!!!"
The blast tore up half of the yard and made the other buildings catch fire, too. Some soldiers were buried under burning debris, and most of the others seemed to forget the Liberation army members for now.
Once Billy could stand up again, he ordered his men to retreat immediately, taking everyone - alive or dead - along. They would leave no one behind. No one...
"What are you going to do?" asked one of the men, as Billy seemed to hesitate leaving.
"Brad's still there. I'll go get him. You go on ahead."
The other man shook his head. "That's insane. The place is full of soldiers... Besides, he might have died in the explosion..."
"Get going," the brown-haired man ordered. "I'll find Brad, and we'll meet you in the base."
Billy watched as the others left, then sighed and headed back to the warehouse area, searching for his friend.
After looking around for a long time - barely avoiding the soldiers who were trying to put out the flames - he found Brad's ARM. He glanced around; the man couldn't be too far away.
"Brad... where are you...?"
The brown-haired man searched his surroundings. There were large pieces of metal and wood everywhere, and the dry grass on the ground was on fire. He circled around some oil barrels, glancing at them nervously, fearing that the oil would suddenly catch fire.
He tripped over some metal pipes and cursed his bad luck. It was completely dark, the only light being the fire.
There was someone lying on the ground, partially covered with some of the debris that was all around the place. Billy sighed, relieved, and crawled over.
"Brad..." He smiled to himself and started to move the metal wreckage away.
The dark-haired man raised his head and opened his eyes slowly. His head hurt, and the last thing he remembered was dodging behind some barrels, trying to take cover from the explosion. Someone was kneeling next to him, trying to move a piece of metal away.
"Don't move. I'm trying to remove this stuff...You'll get hurt if you move now."
Brad sat up, looking at his friend. He glanced around; the warehouse nearby was on fire, and there was debris all over the place. "I did it, huh..."
"Didn't I tell you that you should not move?" Billy pushed the other man down and continued moving some metal junk away.
"Is everyone safe?"
Billy didn't reply, just nodded. The older man shook his head, looking at him. "Why are you here? You should've left with the others... Dammit, I would've followed..."
"Someone might've found you here. I couldn't... Anyway." The brown-haired man threw a metal pipe away. "There. Can you move now?"
Brad tried to get up. He managed to do that, although somewhat slowly. "I think so... Hmmh. I think my shoulder is bleeding..."
The younger man wrapped something around his friend's shoulder quickly. "We'd better go and fast... There are soldiers all over the place. They aren't paying much attention, but..."
"Look for the best route, then... I'll follow."
"I can do that, but are you up to it?" Billy asked, looking worried.
The taller man sighed. "Do we have a choice here? Let's go already."
"Guess you're right..." The younger man looked at his friend, then turned and looked around. "The safest way out of here is... that way, I think. Follow me..."
The two men circled around some debris, then headed away from the warehouses, glancing around to make sure they weren't seen until they were out of sight.
They walked slowly away from the warehouse area, only darkness around them. The full moon shone dimly, covered by some clouds. They didn't care about the light; after all, if there was no light, they wouldn't be noticed so easily. Billy insisted that the taller man lean against him, while Brad said that he was all right.
After walking in silence for an hour, they finally stopped for a short rest.
"We'll have to walk half of the night... At least they know to expect us. If they believe that we're still alive, that is." Billy laughed a bit, sitting down on a rock. "You know..."
"I'm glad I came back for you..."
Brad sat down next to his friend and raised an eyebrow. "Why do you say that?"
"Because if I haven't... Well, maybe it would've went like you said. You would have followed us when... But... In that case, I'd probably be in the base by now, wondering where you are. That would drive me crazy."
To Billy's surprise, the taller man smiled. "I guess it would be the same if it was me..."
"Would it really, Brad?" the younger man asked.
"Stupid question." Brad lifted his friend's chin with his uninjured hand. "I wouldn't want to worry about you like that..."
Billy didn't have the chance to finish the sentence, as the clouds cleared and the moon lit the area. The two stared deep into each other's eyes for some time. It was like time had stopped... and they didn't even notice that they had moved closer to each other. Neither of them realized anything until their lips touched.
The kiss was short, but sweet and passionate. When their lips parted, they just sat there and looked at each other, not quite sure what they had just done. Brad stroked the other man's hair a bit, losing himself into his friend's eyes.
Finally, they broke the eye contact, too. Then they just sat there for some time until the older man broke the silence. "Billy..."
"Yeah...?" the brown-haired man replied a bit dreamily.
Brad shook his head, smiling. "Nothing much. I think there's a truck coming this way. Looks like one of ours, too..."
The other man blinked, then smiled as well. "...Oh. I'd better go see. You wait here... All right?"
"Go. I'll wait here." The dark-haired man patted his friend's shoulder.
Billy stood up, looking at the car closing from the distance. He took a few steps, then turned around to face the other man. "Brad...? What did we just...?"
"We can talk about that later." Brad leaned back on the rock, stretching his arms and closing his eyes for a moment. Then he looked at his friend, smiling to him.
"Later..." The younger man laughed a bit, then turned around again and headed towards the truck.