Crouched, my squad and I crept along a low ridge, calling in enemy positions to the other squads. Brittle, wintry trees provided cover as we moved behind our objective, taking the slow approach. We had time, and we had an angle. We were invisible.
And then Kozlov slipped.
The snow hadn’t settled around our sniper before he had seized the enemy’s attention. He hastened to find cover, but found only bushes and the trees that, when on the ridge, gave him adequate protection from enemy eyes, but offered none from enemy fire. The three of us still on the ridge watched in still silence as gunfire caused the trees, and Kozlov along with them, to fall. We were exposed.
The explosives came next, flung, propelled, and dropped from the sky. Popov, our medic, jumped right into the shit, hurrying to resuscitate the unsure-footed Kozolv. But he didn’t see the grenade in his way — the shit overcame him.
Sokolov and I were left on the ridge. I struggled with my fight or flight instinct as he mastered his, and flew. Torn, but thinking it the nobler thing to do, I dove into the white hell below. My AUG made two short bursts and let go of six rounds which made their new home in an enemy sniper. I searched our departed medic’s gear and scrambled to ready the defibrillator as I, like Kozlov, Popov, and so many trees before me, fell.
But death did not take me. Instead I lay in the war-stained powder contemplating our missteps. We had all made some. And then my vision went white; when it cleared I saw Sokolov, who held two whining paddles, moving for cover behind a rock. I joined him there and dropped a box of ammo at our feet. Moments later, the instigative Kozlov and Popov redeployed next to us, and we partook of medical supplies. All without a word, we prepared to have another go.