Ernst turned away and scuttled into the irregular belts of rubble and fighting positions. He ran from hole to hole, calling for the commander of First Company. Finally, there was an answer by a Maxim position.
“Over here, sir!”
The Maxim was firing in steady bursts, it looked to Ernst as if von Hassel was directing its fire. He nodded approvingly. He called out.
The Leutnant jumped.
Ernst cut to the chase. “Hey, I’ve got a company of Sturmtruppen at my back. We are going to attack right here, right now. Can you provide us with covering fire?”
“Fuck yes, sir.”
“Then wait for us. I have to go get them and lead them here. As soon as we set up, we attack. Tell your men! No fucking friendly fire!”
“I’ll arrange passage of lines. How soon?”
Von Hassel’s eyes went wide. “Christ! That’s soon!”
“Better get moving, LT.”
Ernst turned back toward the south, he ran, his heart pounded. His Bergmann pumped in his hand as he sprinted along the treacherous footing, his canteen and gas mask banged along his hip. He passed back to the smashed cluster of houses where Leutnant Hofsteder and his grim one hundred awaited.
With a final dash, he reached their waiting spot. He called out.
“I’ve arranged passage of lines! We attack right now.”
Hofsteder called out.
“Manner! On your feet!”
Ernst watched as dozens of men arose from the rubble. They looked like so many wraiths in the flickering darkness.
Ernst padded off, he could sense the special assault troops following in his wake. He retraced his steps, he returned to First Company’s perimeter, the chunk of blasted city that they held by their fingernails.
Ernst grinned. He knew he was going to kick the lousy XXXXX right in the bollocks. He approached the Maxim nest where von Hassel lay.
“Leutnant! Are your men ready and warned?”
“Good.” Ernst turned, Leutnant Hofsteder was sending his men left and right, into a rough assault formation. It appeared to Ernst as if the man arrayed his company to attack in a rough skirmish line, divided into three parts. He crouched and hastened over to the Sturmtruppen leader.
“Alright, let’s go! I’ll accompany you; I will guide you to where I think the English commander is waiting. We hit there with everything we have.”
“Do or die, Major?”
“Is there any other way?”
Hofsteder looked around, he shrugged. “Yeah.” He pulled out a flare pistol.
Ernst spoke. “Hold on.” He called out between bursts of the Maxim. “Von Hassel!”
“Tell your gunner we assault now. Keep the fire right over our fucking heads.”
“Meter and a half?”
“Yeah. Close shave.”
Ernst heard von Hassel scream something to his machine gunner. He looked over at Hofsteder.