The Traveler stood before Zeus who glared at him, "The tribunal requires your presence, in case you forgot we aren't allowed to tell him no."
Zeus stood and roared, "I am King of Olympus."
The Traveler rolled his eyes, "Look you can come willingly or I can take you but either way you're coming."
Energy crackled around Zeus' fist as he stared down on the annoyed Traveler. Athena put a hand on her father's shoulder, "Father, I believe you are forgetting something."
Zeus turned to face her,"I will not be..."
She cut him off, "Consider the messenger."
His rage seemed to subside for a moment, "Why were you sent? What new tragedy must my people face?"
The Traveler sighed, "Why do people always assume I come with bad news? You don't know we could be having a birthday party for Galactus."
The gods gave him a blank stare, "Doesn't matter, Zeus needs to be somewhere else and that's all you need to know."
The response did nothing to allay their concerns but Zeus decided to go willingly and left Athena in charge in his absence.
The New Latverian army left a skeleton crew to run the base and had set up camps inside the DMZ along the Northern border. To add insult to injury Ares planted his command post a half mile west of what had been the Ferrum relay station. In the first day they claimed several miles of land inside the DMZ, what locals they'd encountered thus far had simply run away at the mere sight of them and the Iron army was caught unaware until the occupation was well under way.
Ares oversaw the preparations when he noticed an old looking man with one eye wandering through the camp seemingly unnoticed by the men. He nudged his lieutenant and asked, "Do you know him?"
He looked over, "That's private Yeltzin, sir."
Ares looked over and noticed the young private behind the old man and realized that he was the only one who could see him. He walked over and told the old man to come to his tent. The old man nodded, "I was beginning to think you'd overlooked me."
Ares sat down, "You're not a ghost are you? I really don't have the time for a haunting."
The old man chuckled,"No, though I have died before. I wasn't fond of the experience. I can't tell you who I am at this point, I'm just here to deliver a message. Your father has left Olympus, no matter what you hear you need to know he's in no danger at the moment."
Ares stared at the old man, "What has happened in Olympus?"
He waved a hand, "Nothing as of now, Zeus was simply needed elsewhere. It is very important that you stay here and keep doing what you're doing. regardless of what else is going on in the world your place is here."
Ares tried to ask more questions but the old man disappeared. He kicked over his chair, "I was sick of this mysterious stranger crap a thousand years ago."
He came out of the tent annoyed but he shook it off as he grabbed his lieutenant, "Any word back from the scouts yet?"
He looked up to Ares, "Nothing yet sir."
6 miles south of the command post.
The Abdulov brothers along with Private Barinov sat on a hill overlooking a small village. Boris looked to Anton, "They look hostile to you?"
Yuri tapped Anton on the shoulder and made him look through the scope on his gun, "Cannibals, wonderful."
Boris grabbed the gun and looked down the scope and saw a group of men carving a corpse like it was a side of beef, "I thought that was just a story to scare people out of the DMZ."
Yuri chuckled, "The truth of this place is frightening enough for that."
As Anton looked down the scope he turned, "We got a blood hound."
Yuri snatched the gun as Boris jumped up,"What does that mean?"
He then noticed the man sniffing the air as he stepped out of the village. The man started to point out their position but Yuri put him down before he could and the three started running. Boris yelled to Anton, "What do we do?"
The brothers looked back and Yuri answered, "What you're doing now, only faster."
Anton then hit his comm and called the camp, "We got hostiles."
The sound of engines came up and Yuri pulled up his scope, "They have a jeep, its old but a lot faster than us."
Anton nodded and went back to the comm,"A pick up would be appreciated."
He then looked to Yuri, "First chance you get, get rid of the driver."
He nodded as they continued on. Gun shots rang out as the men in the jeep spotted them. Yuri fired back disarming one of them. Boris and Anton followed suit but they were much less successful at the distance. They did manage to provide enough of a distraction for Yuri to score a fatal hit on the driver but their pursers merely pushed him out of the way as another driver took his place. It provided them with enough time to escape momentarily.
The comm came back on, "Transport on route, we have a lock on your comm."
Anton replied, "Make it quick and I'll tip extra."
Yuri started to get winded, "To Hell with this."
He then turned and put two pulse blasts in the engine of the enemy jeep. Anton looked over,"Why didn't you do that in the first place?"
He shrugged, "You said to shoot the driver."
Anton shook his, "Do I have to tell you everything?"
Yuri then shot down one of the men,"You are the one in charge."
Boris managed to take one out and turned to the brothers, "Can you have this discussion later?"
They glared at the Private and answered in unison,"Fine."
They then turned to fire on their pursuers when they noticed one of them kneel down with something over his shoulder. Yuri took aim, "Never seen one of those outside a museum."
The man launched an RPG that Yuri shot out of the air. He then shot the man as he reloaded. Anton looked at the men coming up on them, "How many did they cram in that jeep?"
Yuri looked at the power cell on his pulse rifle, "I have about 5 shots left."
Anton tossed him his rifle and pulled his side arm, "We have about five minutes till our ride gets here, they'll reach us in two."
Yuri looked to Boris, "About to get dirty boy, hope you're ready."
The Chechyen men came over the hill. Anton came out from behind a tree and jammed a knife in the chest of the nearest man. He then threw him back toward his comrades. Boris shot two men. He hit one in the Jaw and the other in the knee as he went for Anton who quickly dispatched him.
Yuri stayed back picking them off as they came into his sights. He began to worry about his weapon's charge when he heard an engine roar behind him. He let out a sigh of relief as he saw his fellow soldiers arrive. The Chechyen men fled as they opened fire.
Anton hoped in the transport and gave the driver the coordinates of the village, "Id say they probably sent most of the men out after us, hard telling though."
The driver nodded, "Not an issue, we have an air strike en route."
Back at the camp
Ares debriefed the scouts, "The group you stumbled upon controlled most of the land for around 15 miles around their village, Ferrum chased them out of this area a few years back so they worked their way south. I'm sure others will try to claim it but I don't see them being too much to handle. The Mutants tend to stay a bit further East. All in all, I'd say you men had a very successful day. Anything else I need to know?"
Anton sat up, "There were some signs that some major equipment had been moved through recently, since that jeep we shot up appeared to be the sum total of their transport I doubt it was the cannibals."
Yuri chimed in, "I noticed some Ferrum badges on some of the locals, they seemed to be wearing them like trophies. I'd say its a fair bet there's some presence in the area. At the very least tracking equipment."
Ares looked a bit distracted causing Boris to ask him, "Problem, Sir?"
Ares returned his attention to them, "Nothing for you to be concerned about. You've done good work today. Go get some rest, you've earned it."
( To be Continued)