As Thomas and his squad entered the vast fort, Thomas found that the interior was similar to some of the castles at Monte Cassino in Italy. If so, then the layout should be the same. He can't take any chances though, not here. Sure they were only allowed to use hand to hand combat which the others in his squad probably didn't know. He just couldn't take the chance, they had to stay together. The fort was already unlike his previous life in interior appearance, who know if it was changed any further. He felt like someone was watching him and changing things accordingly.
"Group up, stay together!" Thomas motioned with his hand in a circle above his head, "we don't need to take the risk of splitting up and encountering anyone else."
"Sir, what if it's more of a detriment to stay together than to split up? We can cover more ground right?" McLaney asked.
"You're right McLaney, but sometimes the best option is not to split up, even if it's to cover more ground it can be potentially fatal to the mission, on top of that we only have four of us, it's even riskier to split up. We're not commandos, we're just regular troops." Thomas explained.
"Thomas is right, it's much safer to stick together." Smith agreed.
"Shut it Smith, you're just scared of running into something or someone," countered McSnickers.
"Shut it both of you!" Thomas said. "We don't have time for this, let's just explore the first floor, see if we can find some information, maybe a map of the fort." With that Thomas signaled for McLaney to keep moving, they went down the right corridor from the main hall. Here the corridor branched into five different rooms, they broke into the first door by kicking it down. It was a sparse room, not much in it besides an aerial picture of Camp Young on the wall.
"Next room, go!" Thomas shouted and they quickly scuttled to the next room, McLaney kicked down that door too. There was a bed and some chairs, a quick search revealed nothing. They moved on systematically from room to room. In one room they found a 30s pornography collection complete with stains, another room was filled with giant ducks, and the most dangerous room was filled with a modified machine gun that flings rubber balls at high rates of fire. It was truly disconcerting.
They reconvened at the main entrance, the first floor wasn't entirely out of expectations. However, it was not as dangerous as they feared. The second floor onward will be a headache. If Thomas can remember right, the fort should be five floors high, they would need to clear each floor before they proceeded. Due diligence, it pays to be aware of what's around you, and in this case, what's in each room on each floor. An exercise in caution and room clearing tactics, Thomas had done all this before.
Thomas wasn't sure, they felt like familiar memories, but at the same time they felt foreign to him. He pushed the feeling aside, now was not the time to get distracted. He had a job to do, he had to lead these men to the top, he had to lead them to victory. These men were counting on him and every decision he made counted.
It was at this moment that the tiny seeds of leadership formed within his spirit, molding Thomas from the inside out. He had now truly stepped off the path he had known from his previous life and embarked on the unknown. It was a truly fearsome and awe inspiring sight that would have sent chills down anyone's spine. The planting of the seeds of leadership gave Thomas a new direction and some of the memories within him that had been repressed were now available.
Memories of his time in Africa, leading the charge on German Flak-88 and other anti-tank positions, the battles of El Alamein, the fierce fighting in Sicily, Monte Cassino, and many other places he'd been to. He felt empowered, but not invincible. He knew there were still many things he could not do, but right now, here, in this place? He was doing the only thing that mattered, the only thing standing between him and his memories of this place. Grasping victory by the shaft and waving it in the face of all the other squads in the platoon.
His renewed sense of vigor and leadership allowed him to gain greater command of his squad, more precise instructions were given on the second floor. Smith breached doors first, being the shortest only his head was a discernible target, which was ideal when breaking down doors. First room cleared, it only had a crossbow which triggered an arrow covered in melted marshmallows dyed a blood red color, it missed Smith by two inches. Room by room they cleared the second floor, and found more "intelligence" in a bunk room, some of the most recent pornography magazines were hidden under a mattress.
In a similar fashion they cleared the third floor, despite many of the rooms being there merely for decoration. There were more traps on the third floor than the second floor for sure, at the minimum it would just be a harmless trap capable of embarrassing for just a few short weeks to traps fully capable of putting you out of commission for a month. There was a trap in one of the rooms that could be considered a child's prank, but it wasted a good twenty minutes of time and slowed down the team when it knocked McSnickers out for ten minutes. By the time they cleared the third floor, they had a fifty minutes left until the six hour mark.
They knocked out the fourth floor after twenty minutes, since they were vigilant for knock out traps they didn't fall for the same trick twice, of course one room had gas in it that made your eyes water and your sinuses burn. Everyone of them hated that room, but no one was seriously hurt so they moved on. They collected more magazines just like previous floors and moved on to the fifth floor with twenty minutes to spare. Just enough time to either search for more magazines or reach the roof and complete the objective. Thomas had a tough decision to make, one of many to come.
"All right men, from here we can either search for more of this so called evidence, or we can complete the objective within the time marked," said Thomas.
"The other teams have to be in here by now right," asked Smith.
"That's right, they should at least be on the second floor by now and rushing, that's why I said, we can either search for more evidence or complete the objective," replied Thomas.
"Well it's simple really, we came here for the objective, any evidence we find is secondary," said McLaney, he was all for moving on to the objective.
"What if this so called evidence is really important for the next operation," countered McSnickers.
"They're both right Thomas, but I'd have to go with McLaney on this one," said Smith, who hardly ever saw eye to eye with McLaney.
"That's what we'll do then," Thomas decided. "We've gathered most of the intelligence and if this were a real mission, I'm sure HQ analysts would be able to make sense of what we brought given time. All right men get ready to move." Thomas and the squad searched for the stairs or ladder to the roof, he wasn't sure which one it would be. From two floors below they could hear people shouting and breaking things as they discovered that the rooms had already been searched.
After ten minutes they found a ladder leading up, just in time as one of the teams managed to get to the fifth floor, they heard them shouting and cursing as they stumbled up the stairs. Thomas and squad climbed up the ladder in a hurry, and finally they got to the top of the fort. The flag was right there! Caution was thrown to the wind and they rushed for it. Bad mistake, they triggered a tripwire hidden just out of sight, it caused a large chain reaction in which Smith, who was the first to trigger the trap, was snatched up by a solid rope and yanked off the roof.
"Smith!" Yelled McLaney, "Smith!!" He tried to jump after him, but he was pulled back by Thomas.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING HE'S GONE! GO! THE OBJECTIVE IS RIGHT THERE!" Thomas roared, he knew this was a vital leadership moment, whatever he did right here was being watched.
"I WON'T LEAVE SMITH BEHIND!" McLaney fired back, instinctively he knew that Smith would want him to finish the mission, but he couldn't do it. "WE DON'T LEAVE MEN BEHIND!"
"DAMN RIGHT WE DON'T! WE'LL LOOK FOR HIM AFTER, COME ON!" Thomas brought McLaney back on track and the trio made it to the flag, grasping it by the hilt, all three of them lifted it off it's holder and waved it above the fort in victory. One of the squads managed to make it up just in time to witness this and they fell to their knees in utter defeat, their spirit broken. McLaney had tears in his eyes for Smith whom he considered dead, McSnickers was ecstatic, and Thomas had a proud look, they had ascended, above all the other squads they clawed their way to the to and grabbed victory by the shaft.
From an outpost on a hill not far off, Drill Sergeant Lloyd watched the entire thing through binoculars and a primitive camera system in black and white, the system hardly worked, but the Office of Strategic Services promised a working model by the end of nineteen forty-five. He smiled and waved a corporal over. The corporal saluted smartly, "Sir!"
"Get a medic and a truck transport ready for Smith," Lloyd ordered, "I have some goddamn soldiers to meet."