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Once upon a time,
There was a group of old men who had fought in a long-forgotten war
But now enjoyed their twilight years in a quaint, peaceful village,
Drinking tea, reading newspapers, and reminiscing about events long past.
They were some of the happiest people, old or not, in the entire village.
But the day came when the hoofbeats of the Apocalypse brought War to the village.
The earth trembled and the streets split, and from the flaming pits of hell rose up horrifying demons, savage creatures of bloodlust and destruction, announcing the arrival of Judgement Day by slaughtering and killing, leaving the streets running red with blood.
People fled, but there was no escaping the monsters, and the demons had no mercy to give. It seemed like there was no hope and no salvation from the monsters, for how could ordinary townspeople survive the nightmares of hell?
And then, marching up the road in formation clothed in worn yet clean dress uniforms,
came the old men carrying old and outdated rifles tipped with shining bayonets.
The demons were confused by this; they couldn’t remember a time when their prey fought back. But to them, fighting back only delayed the inevitable, for none could prevail against them.
There they stood, the line of old men in their tattered uniforms, wielding well-oiled Springfield rifles, and the unholy horde of demons and devils clad in cursed steel.
Undeterred and uncowed, the old men lowered their guns and fired, bullets tearing through steel and flesh and bone. Old and shaking hands, remembering training many years past, steadied and worked bolts with crisp precision, sending volley after volley of lead down the road.
The demons charged, but were ripped to shreds by unrelenting, thunderous gunfire. Bullets mangled demonic limbs and spilled hellish blood where once they had done the same to ordinary men.
But the old men were few, and the enemy was many, and the monsters began to break into the ranks of the old men.
But instead of running, the old men continued to send their leaden messages of mortality, leaving monsters lifeless in the cold, blood-soaked mud. Life-long friends died, torn to shreds with hellish magic and bloodied claws, but the old men did not even flinch, nor did they cease shooting.
The Demon Lord, not expecting but not entirely surprised by the resistance, decided to take matters into his own claws. Rallying his troops, he tore through the lines of old men, ravaging and killing, slicing and mauling, but still the old men held, and for every one of them that died ten hellish warriors went with them.
Soon there was only the mighty Demon Lord, who was thoroughly nonplussed by these old men. “Why do you fight?” he asked them as he dismembered a man stabbing him with a broken bayonet with his bare hands. When his only answer were not screams of despair but rather angered warcries, he grabbed one of the old men and forced his way into the old man’s mind.
At first the Demon Lord found only images of smiling family and friends, beautiful and peaceful images of rolling fields and majestic mountains. As he dug deeper and deeper, however, going further into the past, he found memories of other fields, but these were no fields of grain.
These were battlefields of lifeless brown beneath grey, uncaring skies, filled with craters, cold, sickly mud, and the dead and dying, and as the Demon Lord relived the old man’s memories, he charged across a battlefield strewn with barbed wire and burning hulks of metal, littered with the corpses, pouring their red life-blood into the fields.
Suddenly gunfire tore through his comrades, and something came whistling out of the sky. The old man dropped into the mud when the world abruptly exploded. flinging dirt and mud and pieces of bodies into the air.
Yet still the old man got up, shaking the debris off his uniform, and continued to march further into the endless field of mud and wounded men too weak to pull themselves out of their trenches.
Finally, when the Demon Lord could take no more, no more of cold mud and wailing cries of pain, when all he wanted to do was go home to the comforting pits of hell, where it was warm and safe and the world did not rain the mangled body parts of friends upon your back.
He threw the old man away from him and asked, trembling, “What kind of monsters are you? What have you done to yourselves?”
The old man looked upon the Demon Lord and, with fire in his eye said, “I do not fear you, mighty Demon Lord. I have been through hell already.” He leveled his rifle at the Demon Lord’s head.
“And it was called Verdun.”