"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."
―Abraham Lincoln

Stephan Heuss hugged his G36 close to his body as he made his approach to the Kelley Barracks outside Stuttgart, Germany.

The barracks were in ruins now, the victim of a raid by Zemka forces after they burned America to hell. It had been a military base from America in Germany since 1945, just after World War II. However, the place was still under Zemka watch, which lead Stuttgart's resistance leaders to believe that something of use was still inside.

Stephan was a very tall and muscular man, about six foot three and two hundred thirty pounds. He was once a member of the German infantry, a sergeant of a ten man squad that he took command of back in 2018. During the Civil War, he and his men were stationed in the Rhineland, where they held base for over a year. When the Rhine was taken in 2026, the Zemka allied Germans attacked the government loyalists on May the fourth, 2027, they carved a bloody path through the Rhine in a ten day battle. Once the rebels won that battle, the took the state of Baden-Wurttemburg with less resistance than any other state in the German Civil War. By the time America was blown apart, Germany had dissolved its government and was under full control of the Zemka. His squad had died in the retreat from the Rhineland, and he'd been trapped in a Zemka occupied Stuttgart; far from his home in the Rhineland and wanted for execution for war crimes.

He was one of the first twenty soldiers to join the German resistance corps, along with a group of politicians, scientists, and rich men from Stuttgart. Stephan thought of working under politicians as messy, but they didn't have much choice. They needed the money to stick it to the Zemka.

Stephan was the second in command of First Company, also known as the Black Forest Company. This group was a thirty man squad, the first of three in the Stuttgart Rebellion. They now had a large group for rebellion standards, over five hundred men, which was starting to draw the attention of the Zemka. As the days past, the German Zemka volunteers and the Italian Zemka that patrolled the streets after the surrender of Germany began to slowly be replaced by the alien Zemka. We've got the Zemka worried, Stephan thought to himself as he crawled through one of the vineyards of the rural area of the base.

"Looks like we have..... Eighteen Germans, six Italians, and a Zemka overseer." One of the men, Hermann Otto, a sniper, said over the mic. "Shiza, he's a big bastard. Six legs, to arms, holding a laser rifle. How the hell are we going to take on that?"

"Thats what panzerczeck is for, Otto." Commander Cody Tomic, the commandig officer of the Second Company, said. "Now, everyone, once Otto and the rest of his sniper squad open fire on the Italians and traitors, I want all machine gunners to follow Huess into the fray, distract the Zemka. Galum, Bosch, I want you to hit him with those panzerczecks, take him down before he takes us down. Now, snipers, on my mark...."

"Fire!" He shouted, and bullets began to fly from the vineyards into the ruins of the Kelley Barracks. As Stephan gave the command to move in, he counted heads. Six enemies dead from initial fire, one wounded. He had fourteen other machine gunners with him, ten snipers in reserve under Tomich's command, two germans with panzerczecks, three backup riflemen and three medics sitting back in reserve.

If it weren't for that Alien Zemka, Stephan thought to himself, the odds would be even.

Machine gun fire lit up the night as the Italians and German traitors opened fire. They all had Heckler & Koch G36's, as did he, with the exception of one German and the Spider Zemka, who carried their odd black laser rifles. Stephan dived behind some of the outer rubble, signaling the rest of his men to do the same. Stephan aimed over the rubble and took out an Italian. The only way to tell the difference between what countries the human soldiers of the Zemka were from was either in their faces or on the band of their arms, were the flag of their former country was painted to a white band.

The Spider Zemka started to move through the last few of his soldiers, holding his rifle just away from his face, right around where the mouth should be. This struck an older soldier like Stephan as odd, because it wasn't moved off to the side so he could aim down the sights. It suddenly struck Stephan that it must have something to do with the eight eyes he assumed were under the helmet.

In any case, he knew now wasn't the time to worry about it. As he saw the last of the humans fall, he knew it was time to move up. The remaining members of the squad, it looked like he had lost three men. He and the remaining other eleven encircled the Zemka, opening fire, careful to leave enough room between them, the area of fire, and the Zemka. Barely a breath from his mouth as he fire his G36 futily into the Zemka's armor, he said, "Galum, Bosch, fire at will." He signaled his men to back off a bit, and before the Zemka could realize what was happening, two missiles hit him in the armor and blew on impact. The German resistance men scrambled for cover, as shrapnel from the armor flew out over the ruins of the base.

"Regroup!" he yelled, as the snipers and panzerczecks fell in. Tomic came over and patted him on the shoulder. They had lost only four men. Statistically, that was an amazing achievement, but to a commander, a leader, and a friend, every death cut deep. If it didn't, you had no right to be in a commanding position.

"Any more wounds?" Tomic asked the Klaus Glemser, chief medic.

"Wulf got shot in the knee, he isn't going to be able to get back into action anytime soon. Other than that, minor wounds."

"Sir?" Rich Landler, the teams expert mechanic, and a former member of the Air Force, said over his mic, "I think you might want to see this."

The two left behind the rest of the squad and went deeper into the ruins. Their, Landler sit on his knees, examining what looked like a blown out store celler. "What are we look at?" asked Tomic

"Schematics of the place didn't show this."

"You think it may be something?" Stephan asked.

"Only one way to find out." Landler said with a grin, while unstrapping his G36 from his back.

"Otto, Glemser, Bosch, get your asses up here, double time!" Tomic called over his mic.

The three came up shortly afterward, Otto armed with a Barrett M82 he had gotten when he was a marksmen in the Army, Klaus Glemser armed with a Benelli M4 Super 90 Shotgun that he had gotten used to using when he was in the army, and Mark Bosch, the only one without military experience, but was a policemen in Stuttgart, armed with an MP5 now that his panzerczeck was usless in this close quarters battle. The other three carried G36's, and all four had Heckler & Koch M64 pistols, except Bosch, who had two weapons and didn't have the room for a pistol, and Tomic, who had a P90 personal defense weapon where his pistol would be holstered.

These were the best in the Black Forest Company. The majority of the other men were either militia without former experience, or firemen or policemen. They were lucky enough to have a large group of volunteers coming in and a good amount of weapons, but unlucky enough to have to train them hard because of lack of prior experience.

Klaus put a shot with his shotgun into the lock, and led the rapid entry. Inside was total darkness.

"Anyone got a flare?" Stephan asked.

"I do." said Bosch, as the room lit up in a red hue. Two human soldiers, who were asleep in front of what look like prison cages, awoke with a scream, as all six soldiers lit them up in a hail of fire.

Stephan assessed the situation, suddenly realizing their were prisoners in the cages. The prisoners rushed up to the cage doors, yelling in English.

"Anyone speak fluent English?" asked Tomic. "It's been a long time since I was taught it in school. Not sure if I could carry on a conversation."

"I do." Said Stephan. "Spent a few weeks with my church in America, and a few more with them in my home." He turned to the first of the cages, seeing an old rusted metal bar ranking this man as a sergeant in the Marines. He looked like he was in his fourties. "I am Stephan Huess of the German Resistance Corps. Who are you, sergeant?"

"Oh, thank god." he said in a New York accent. "Sergeant Chris Kelnor, US Marines." He gestured across the room to a Black man in green fatigues. Over theirs Lt. Tommy Searal, US army," He gestured to a strongly built woman in the cage across from him. "and Petty Officer Liz Aldway, US Navy," He poked his thumb at the cell next to him. A strongly built woman resided in the cell next door.

"Why such different departments?" Stephan asked, as Landler gave him the keys.

"We were all that's left after the attack. They took us as POWs, tried to convince us to join up within that first few months, then just tortured us and tried to make us give up positions of other bases." Stephan helped him to his feet. "Whats happened in the last two years? I mean, we haven't heard anything since...." his words trailed off.

"It's not good. The Zemka have abolished every major government on the planet. Some willingly, some not. Their are probably a few other small Resistance groups out their, but anything that gets even close to dangerous is crushed."

"Gloom and doom, then." said Tommy, joining his teammates and their German saviors.

"So I assume your group is a small one, correct?" asked Liz.

"Big as you going to find." said Tomic in forced English.

"Well, since theirs no chance of us going home," said Chris, "I guess we should help you. If we're welcome, that is."

"As far as we concerned, you welcome. Our leaders may not think so." said Tomic.

He smiled. "We do have a peice of info that may help you guys out majorly"

"We could use all the help we can get." said Stephan, lighting a cigar. "Any of you want one?" he asked as they walked out of the bunker. He handed a Cigar to both Tommy and Chris, but Liz refused it. The rest of his crew, with the exception of Klaus, lighted up a cigarette or a Cigar as well. Stephan figured it was an unconscious way of congratulating themselves. "Go get our guests each a G36 and a pistol. Galum, go get the van from hiding and bring it up to the front of the base."

He'd probably be dealing with the rich politicians squabbling for a while. He might as well chill out while he had the chance.

Somehow, he figured, the arrival of the Americans would change the way the resistance handled the Zemka.

In the meantime, he'd sit back, take his time, and enjoy his cigar.

Times were about to get trying.