With the demolition party destroyed and the supporting troops in disarray, the defenders of the Straight came out in force. Smoke from the burning buildings confused matters and confounded the snipers, but strike teams found they could outflank the attackers down the narrow alleys that ran parallel to the boulevard.
Shara’s squad were granted a reprieve. They had achieved so much in their one attack that it was time others were allowed to grab some glory. They fell back through the side doors and alleys all the way to the command centre.
The girl, Tenna, and a number of others were tended by medics. Tenna had a blistering scar running diagonally down her back, where her clothes had caught fire, that hurt a lot more than she wanted to admit. Such denial was common in the hospital rooms, where even the hopeless talked of the great victory to come. Shara left her squad clustered around their new heroine and went searching for Aurile.
She wandered the halls. The old administrative building was busy again with a different kind of organisation. Grand old desks had been turned into operating tables and filing cabinets were as likely to contain weapons stashes as paperwork. The command centre had been set up in the old debating hall. Aurile was laying out strategies and their possible repercussions, all culled from his vast knowledge base. He nodded at Shara as she entered, they wandered into a corner. “Your attack was a great success. Did it cost much?”
“Three dead and four wounded. I turned some children into killers.”
“We were naive to expect some sort of utopia without conflicts. Things weren’t supposed to run for so long without intervention.”
“This battle would be on without us here. It’s our best chance to head North. And there was never any directive against intervention.”
The windows rattled as a single engined plane flew low over the building. Despite themselves they both ducked. Aylo ran into the room. “They are bringing heavy artillery up. We should move to another building just in case.” He began gathering up the maps. More planes passed overhead.