Night guard duty is the worst.
When you first move into an area, it's terrifying. Every sound is the enemy, every movement is a surprise attack, every shadow the enemy in some terrifying form. The dawn can't come soon enough, and when the sun finally starts to break over the horizon, a wave of joyous relief envelops you. You've lived to see a new day, and as you inhale one last cigarette before you fall into your bunk...a habit you didn't pick up until you came over here...a sense of accomplishment and purpose hits you, and you're on top of the world. You, and maybe one or two other guys, kept your platoon or company safe, and you're all rising to meet a new green and gold day.
Once you have pacified an area, though, it's boring as hell. Yeah, you still need to post sentries, but the chances of an attack are slim. It becomes a mental exercise to stay awake. Boredom is now the enemy, as is complacency. And that's usually when the enemy will strike. You think you're ready, but you quickly find out you might be in over your head.
And such was the case for Packer Owner Bernie Beergut, He Of Three Shares Of Stock. This was familiar occupied territory, the vast Northern Steppe known as Minnesota. It was a land long conquered, but for a brief rebellion by the traitorous General Favre back in 2009 that briefly tipped the balance of power. He was taken care of back in 2010 in two crucial battles, before he was finally killed by a Bear Mercenary on one final, fateful battle in the snow and cold on a dark December night.
Since then, the Occupied Minnesota Steppe had been about as quiet as a conquered land could be. The forces of Green Bay moved freely and with impunity, controlling both the sky above and the ground below. What token resistance Viking Partisans employed was usually brushed away without much effort, except for the 2012 Metrodome Rebellion...which was quickly squashed the following week, as Green Bay was able to choose the ground to fight on, and overwhelmed an inexperienced field general.
That battle had seemingly broken the Vikings, and now, all was quiet. Oh sure, there were unconfirmed intelligence reports about a new Viking Army on the rise, but how many times had they read these reports before, only to find them to be a false alarm? No, this is just Chicken Little crying Wolf. Again.
Sigh. That Chicken Little crowd was as annoying as the supply geeks telling them their equipment is in disrepair, and if attacked, they might not be able to withstand the onslaught. Sure the Green Bay Air Force isn't what it was in past seasons, but it's still the best out there. The ground attack might have a few maintenance issues, but it's good enough.Like the sign in Green and Gold said above the main gate of Fort Cheese:
"We are the Green Bay Packers. We Are The Perennial Pre-Season Paper Champions...and we do not take the title and all the rights and privileges thereof lightly. Now go get drunk and act accordingly."
Such was the lay of the land as Owner Third Class Beergut began his sentry duty that fateful night. As the evening turned into late evening which became oh dark thirty, Beergut began that age old internal struggle all who have pulled sentry duty understand--how do I stay awake? For Beergut, it was working his multiplication tables. At 37 years old, he was your typical Packer soldier--grossly overweight, raging alcoholic, and borderline imbecile. But by God if he wanted another share of stock he was going to fucking learn what 5 times 6 was. Even if it gave him his seventh heart attack. And fork over 350 bucks, even if it was just a piece of paper that said 'stock and 'owner' on it, and had no value at all.
Because it mattered, man.
"Six times one is one. Shit, I mean six. Six times two is eight. Mother of Lombardi, that's addition. No, it's twelve."
As Owner Third Class Beergut stuffed yet another braunschweiger, onion and limburger (so much goddamn cheese, what is it with these people) sandwich into his grocery dump, and roughly chewed it with his 11 remaining teeth, he failed to notice movement just beyond the perimeter wall, a storm gathering the likes Fort Cheese hadn't seen since possibly the mid 1970's...
/three hours earlier
"ROOM....TEN-HUT!!!!!" cried out the voice from the side of the room.
The voice boomed, cavernous and deafening. General Zim Tzu entered, unassuming but with a face that conveyed instantly that he meant business. He walked with a brisk gait to the front of the room, and stepped on to the makeshift stage in front of his troops.
"Take your fucking seats. Fuckers."
The cacophany of 53 folding chairs moving and creaking under the weight of massive men quickly overwhelmed the room, and just as quickly died out. All eyes were riveted on General Zim Tzu as he began to speak.
"Great fucking moments... are born from great fucking opportunity. And that's what you have here tonight, boys. That's what you've earned here tonight. One game....until the fuckin' regular season finale. We've played played 'em the last eleven times, and they've won nine.
But not this fucking game. Not tonight.
Tonight, we overwhelm them. Tonight, we stay with them. And we shut...them...down because we can! Tonight, WE are the greatest fuckin' football team in the world. You were born to be Minnesota Vikings. Every one of you. And you were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Their time is done. It's over. I'm sick and tired of hearing about what a great football team the Green Bay Packers have. Fuck 'em. This is your time. Now go out there and fuckin' take it. Just don't take the cheese, though."
As the general strode out of the room, eyes fixed to a point in space, not a word was said. The room leaped to the position of attention, and then relaxed ever so slightly as Zim Tzu left. Battle hardened men looked each other in the eyes, saying nothing yet everything all at once, as they gathered their gear. Once more into the breach, they said silently to themselves. But this time, the outcome would be different.
This army was different.
And as they assembled at their designated jump off points, doing one final mental checklist, they knew that just over the horizon...destiny awaited...
//oh dark thirty
...It had only taken Beergut an hour and a half to get through the sixes, and had moved on to sevens. He was stuck at seven times one when he thought he heard a noise in the distance. Grabbing his beer goggles, he scanned across the vast open field between the reinforced Cheddar and Roquefort walls of Fort Cheese and the treeline, scanning.
The hair on the back of his neck would have been standing on end, only it was caught between four or five fat rolls, causing a kinda disgusting rash if we're being completely honest with ourselves. Still, Beergut sensed something wasn't right. He turned down his Nickelback music...all Packer fans listen to Nickelback (or Florida-Georgia Line) and listened.
Silence. An eery silence. Usually, there's some kind of noise...be it gophers, squirrels, or birds moving indiscriminately. Occasionally he'd see a Packers bandwagon careening out of control down the highway, driven by some drunkard that was driving on a license that had been suspended no less than seven times, who was probably a fan of the Cowboys or the Steelers until General Favre arrived as a brash, gunslinging lieutenant in 1992.
Not now, though. It was silent.
Beergut, his uneasiness growing into full blown indigestion, decided to get on the radio, partially to see if anything was going on in sector two, and partially to calm the panic that was slowly starting to grow deep in the pit of his prodigious, almost record setting belly.
"Dickey, this is Mandarich, over."
"Go ahead Mandarich, this is Dickey, over."
"Hey, you got any movement over there? Something just doesn't feel right over here."
"You been eating those goddamn braunschweiger and onion sandwiches again, you idiot? You probably just have indigestion. Again. And I swear to Starr Almighty if you shart yourself in the tent when we get off shift again you're sleeping in the porta potty. I'll put you in it myself."
/beergut keys radio, burps
"For the love of Hornug, get off the goddamn radio Mandarich. This is the most quiet sector in the Northlands. even Detroit is rowdier than we are right now. Things are fi...waaaaait, what the he----AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
"Dickey, quit, screwing around, man. This shit isn't funny. Over."
There was no response from Dickey.
"Dickey, this is Mandarich. Come in. OVER."
Still no reply.
As Beergut was staring blankly into the radio microphone, trying to decipher what the fuck seven times three was, he heard a sound coming from the treeline. A sound that hadn't been heard in the Northlands since the 1970's, as it had been outlawed by the Provisional Green Bay Government. He had only heard it on grainy, old, NFL Films videos, during mandatory training classes.
Beergut's throat constricted, and all the saliva in his mouth dried up, instantly. Which is pretty fucking amazing, because like most Packer owners, he had an incessant drooling issue.
A gjallahorn. From the treeline, a gjallahorn was blowing, cutting through the trees, across the field, and straight into his spine...although that last part seemed to take five minutes as sound doesn't travel well through hairy back fat.
A goddamn gjallahorn.
And then, moving as one, a purple hoard emerged from the treeline, moving methodically, with purpose, lead by a man with fire in his eyes, and a camouflaged headset covering his ears.
"LET'S GET THESE FUCKING MOTHERFUCKERS!"
Beergut shook himself out of his paralysis, hitting the alarm just as the Vikings got to the base of the wall, and the alarm blared throughout the fort, over and over, alerting all the Packer forces, and rousing them from a beer soaked slumber:
It was on. The Battle For Supremacy Of The North. Victory or Death. Good vs. Evil....
Or, you know, 8-2 vs. 7-3...your call.