"During times of war, hatred becomes quite respectable, even though it has to masquerade often under the guise of patriotism."
―Howard Thurman

"Sir, incoming truck!" yelled Private Doyle from the top of the old castle.

"Friendly or Bogie?" yelled Jack Taylor, snapping his AUG rifle into ready position and dropping into the cover of the small trench hole.

"I can't tell, sir. One unarmored human, two armored, but without helmets."

"You sure Doyle? Them human helmets are tiny." asked Monty.

"Yessir, and the passenger is Paul."

"Repeat that, boy." said Jack coldly.

"Yessir, definatly him. Bloody traitor."

Jack looked at Monty, but the old man kept his cool. "Don't shoot until they're within the wire, mate. If they flash the visual ready signal, let them in but keep your rifles trained. All units, seventy percent security."

"Monty, you think Paul's gone rogue on us?"

"I'd doubt it. If he was a traitor we'de have a full Zemka armmy dropping in on us, not two brits."

"Whatever you say, old man. I..."

"Sir, they just flashed the signal!"

"He knew it anyway, it could just be trying to lull us into a false sense of security..."

"Jack, I'll hear none of it. I trust the boy." And there it ended. Jack would never contradict him.

Jack used to be a member of the Provisional Irish Republican army. He recruited when he turned 16 in 1985. His first mission was to blow up the car of a British official while on his trip to Belfast. He and three other men, one as a sniper, and two to stay on the ground and keep watch. When he hit it with his RPG-7, he saw a horrible sight: the burning corpse of the officials baby.

He went to his commanding officer to see if he knew about this. He said he did, and that it would drive home the Provisional IRAs want to kick the British out of Northern Ireland. Soon after, he was contacted by the MI-5, or the British Security Service. They told him that there was a deal about to go down on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland between the Provisional IRA and officials of the KGB. The Soviets were going to trade weapons for information vital to both British and the Republic of Ireland's national defense. If he wore a microphone to record what was said, they'd get him out and into Canada for relocation. Otherwise, he'd be sent to jail. He agreed.

Things went sour when the Soviet operatives checked the Provisional IRA members for weapons and found the microphone. The communists killed his colleagues and took him prisoner, and attempted to flee through the Republic of Ireland.

This is where he met Monty. The SAS tipped off the Irish Rangers about things going south, and Monty was head of the five man squad sent to save him. Monty and his team managed to not only let him free but get him out of the country with the help of his government. He came back to the country in 1997, a few years after the treaty was established. He lived mostly in seclusion, minus visits from Monty, who he had kept in contact with after all those years.

Needless to say, he'd jump into a fire pit for Monty.

But seeing a baby burn do to his actions had lessened his enthusiasm for combat, war, or even defense. But he'd experience it again, not to save the world, but to save Monty from getting in over his head.

That didn't mean he had to believe everything Monty did. Jack was cool and calculating, Monty was trusting and hot tempered. It made them an unlikely duo.

The truck stopped about 12 meters from the trench holes. Paul hopped out, hands on his head, ans signaled the two British twins, as Jack could plainly see by the near identical faces and the colored armor, to come out with no weapons. They unholstered all of there weapons and layed them out to see.

"Paul, what the hell is the meaning of this?"

"Things went to hell down in town, Monty. Zemka, alien Zemka, killed most of the residents. They almost got me, but these two, Dave and Alec," he said, pointing at the twins. One had the insignia of the SAS on his chestplate, the other the army's royal coat of arms. "they helped me shoot my way out of town. In the back of the truck is an ammunition crate filled with bullets bathed in Zemka metal. It penetrates Zemka armor."

"Bloody hell, thats gre..." Monty began, but Jack cut in.

"Are you boys taking the piss outta us? The SAS was wiped out, and the army is rank and fire."

"No sir," said the SAS lad Alec, "My regiment fought the Zemka. Why do you think anything but radio short bursts are down? They want the other nations to believe that nobody else is fighting. We infiltrated the Zemka rank and file, and when we transferred over to fight you guys, we went rogue."

Monty sighed. "If what you lads say is true, than your bloody hell welcome with us. But understand that we've been fighting, thinkin' we're all alone out here. We're not gonna trust ya outright."

"I'd bloody hell hope not." said Dave, the former army lad, "otherwise you'd have a hell of a problem with spies. Look, things went to shit down there..."

"...and the Zemka know your somewhere out here now." finished Alec. "We can debrief you on all we know, butwe need to bunker up. The Zemka are pissed about your activities in this region, and they want to squash you. They'll end up sending in anything they got if this gets out of hand. They made the mistake of beleivin' the bleedin' "Fightin' Irish" were nothin' to worry about, but they're gonna see that was a mistake soon. If we don't take control of the situation in this region, your gonna end up with fighter ships and, eventually, laser firin' in this area..."

"...and if things don't get better within' the next few months, they'll burn this region off the map, just like America."

"You think they'd do that?" asked Jack.

"Not unless its a last resort." said Dave. "Burnin' America has been the thorn in their asses. Its caused numerous revolts, so our sources tell us." said Dave.

"Once again why communications are down." said Alec.

"Alright, everyone inside. These boys are gonna give us a debriefing on the finer etiquettes of fightin' Zemka."

Jack sighed. He didn't like leaving his hope to two Brits in Zemka armor, but he wasn't about to revert back to his racist PIRA beliefs. He'd have to deal with them.

Trust, however, was another issue entirely.

And so Alec and Dave went into a long explanation. They told the band of 54 men how the SAS was the only branch not splintered into two parts by the revolution, and how they fought their adversaries all the way down and out of Wales, and how they, to their knowledge, were the only free state in the world, and if not, at least in Europe. They told of how trench warfare had become common place on the border as they discovered that melted Zemka metal forged with a bullet could peirce Zemka armor. They told of how three units of Tornado F3s jets and two Tornado GR4 jets had managed to stop alien fighters from using air superiority to quell the uneasy army nation. The Zemka were very weary of overusing resources in fighters, for one reason or another. This then explained why British troops were here instead of back home, because the Zemka were devoting large resources to troops to stop the uneasy standstill on the Wales border. They told of how they'd infiltrated the Zemka army with no way of contacting Wales, thanks to all global communications down. They told of how they'd learn some uneasy facts about countless small revolts against the new authority. The two went into elaberate details of learning that Humans were unique in the though of making things explode, and this was why frag grenades were so effective against the enemy. Two theories were put out before Monty hastily pushed along the subject, one was that we were far more reckless than any of the thousands of species the Zemka had encountered, or, two, the requirements to make large explosions were not as abundant as they were on Earth. They began to go into detail on the aliens spcies, but Morty cut them off, saying that would have to wait.

It took three hours to get through the little history lesson, and Paul absorbed all of it like a sponge. This was the first time since he joined up that he had not regretted being a history major rather than gone into active military service.

"Okay," said Monty, "time to get into details on the defenses of Roundstone."

"Too right." Alec said, who had been sitting backwards on a chair for the last half hour, messing with some device in his armor. suddenly, a red holographic display map of Roundstone. He took off his gauntlet, and placed it on the chair. "I'd much prefer a drop, but seein' as we sparsely got paper to wipe our arses with, this will have to do. Now, here..." he pointed at the local church," is Zemka HQ. Our best bet is to divide into three units and hit the twon from three sides, which, ideally, would be here," he pointed at the outer woods on the east side, "here, which is where the trucks would move in from", he pointed at the surrounding plains, and here." he said, pointing at Gurteen beach. "We'd need a ship with a trade of trade for that.

"I can handle that." said Billy Shay, "I work those docks regularly. Its where we got our intel on the last mission."

"Bloody good, mate." said Dave.

"With your permission Monty..." said Jack, "I'd like to handle the Woodland area."

"Good idea." said Monty, stroking his beard.

"I'll go with," said Dave.

"Right then. By land, mates?"

"One problem." said Paul slowly, "There is absolutely no cover on those plains. It'd be the equivalent of storming Normandy. We' get chewed up and spit out. Might I suggest we wait for a signal that the attack began before we hit that landmass?"

Alec nodded. "Break squelch three times after firing begins, then catch 'em with their backs unprotected. I like it.

"I'll lead that squad." said Monty. "I'm not so good on my feet these days anyway."

"I'll go with Billy. Now we just need to divide into three groups by morning." Paul commented.

"Why mornin'? asked a young lad named Kenny Jenkins. "Why not hit them at night?"

"Because we need an excuse for Billy's ship to dock, and he usually does his trade in the mornings.

"Right then." began Monty. "Lads, I've never lied to ya before, and I won't start ow. This is gonna get bloody. We're a small militia of veterans of wars past, farmers, and exiled members of the armed forces. But over the last year you all have learned the tools of the trade the very best you could have. If anyone has the power to take Roundstone from the Zemka horde, it is us! I have all the faith in the world you will serve your planet prudly in the days to come. Roundstone is just the first step on a long roud, but we will prevail! One day not only ur nation, but all the nations of the world, will drive off the Zemka! Earth will stand together, for the very first time, and drive these bastards and their rodent leader off this planet!"

Paul smiled, despite the grim circumstances. These times made leaders, and if they were to win, Monty would damn well be at the front of a united Ireland and Wales fighting back the scourge, and probably lead all the way until once again each nation had its freedom.

But in the wake of all that had happened, it was hard to look beyond Roundstone, much less other nations.