(Cisterna - January 31, 1944, 2239 hrs.)
Heavy fighting occurred near the village between the United States Army and the German Army as the former was having a hard time trying to take the village. At one point, elements of the 7th Infantry Regiment were the closest ones to the town, being led by Corporal Welkin Gunther.
"How far are we to the town?" He asked his men before firing his M1 Garand.
"We're just 900 yards away, Corporal." Private Pedro Ibarra answered. "If those higher-ups didn't screw up back at Anzio, things would have been better."
"Yeah, but we are on our own now. Just keep fighting."
After some intense fighting, Welkin shot and killed a German machine gunner.
"That MG nest is down!" Welkin confirmed. "But don't push your luck! Stay and cover!" Men, let's move!"
The men in his command replied before the team slowly moved forward while under cover. They continued firing back. After travelling a few hundred yards, one of the Germans killed an Allied soldier.
"We've lost Kimberton! Damn!" Ibarra uttered.
"Don't let 'em get you now!" One soldier said. "We can't lose here!"
Ibarra shot the German in retaliation.
"Got that bastard!" He declared.
Welkin and the others followed suit when more Germans appeared. Some were killed by the bullets. Then, one American soldier began tossing a grenade.
"Grenade!" He shouted while throwing. The grenade killed four German soldiers upon detonation.
"Nice throw, Lombardo!" Another soldier congratulated before firing his weapon.
When they moved a few meters forward, the Germans formed a defensive formation and opened fire at the team.
"Take cover!" Welkin ordered and the team followed while returning fire.
A fierce firefight ensued. Then, a Panzer II appeared to support the German foot soldiers, promoting Gunther to direct a retreat.
"All units, we need to fall back!"
"Good idea!" Ibarra agreed.
"Fall back!" The team complied as the Panzer attempted to fire at them with no avail. They then successfully escaped.
As they move on, a middle-aged man with a Thompson arrived with the remaining troops. His appearance, coupled with the Army uniform he was wearing, signaled Gunther and his men to salute.
"Sergeant Potter, sir." Gunther said.
"How's your progress doing over there on the southeast?" Sergeant Largo Potter asked. "Did you cover some ground?"
"Negative, sir. The Germans have dug deep and they have tank support as well."
"Well, it's not your fault for this. We have the same problem as well on our end. It's best if we retreat and wait for any reports on their movements. We can plan another attack."
Ibarra came close to Gunther.
"At least we can relax a bit, now that we have some time to plan again." He said.
"Yep. But still, German air units could find us at any time."
(February 1, 1944, 0104 hrs.)
The team was waiting for any recent developments from the front lines. As some ready their weapons, others left to fight. Then, an officer arrived.
"Corporal Gunther, Private Ibarra?" He asked the two.
"Yes, sir!" They replied with a salute.
"Follow me. Command has requested your presence at Anzio at once. They have something in mind for you."
They both left for a Jeep that will take them to Anzio.
"I wonder if Sergeant Potter went there for something." Ibarra said.
"I have the same feeling, too." Gunther agreed. "Oh, I hope we aren't doing anything wrong."
When they reached Anzio, Potter was waiting with a smile.
"Sergeant, glad to see you here." Ibarra sighed and greeted. "We thought you are in trouble and so are we."
"Ah, don't worry, Private." Potter assured. "I'm also glad you came because we have been reassigned."
"Reassigned?" Gunther felt dumbfounded. "To where?"
"Just...come inside." The officer responded. "More details will be explained."
When they reached the office of the officer in charge, the three soldiers saluted.
"Well, good to made it here on such short notice, especially when we will be stuck in Anzio for a little while." He greeted. "I'm Lieutenant Colonel Richard Balton from the Office of Strategic Services."
"OSS, am I correct, sir?" Gunther asked.
"Exactly, Corporal Gunther."
"So why are we here?"
"Basically, after some evaluation with your records; training and all, we decided to pick you people for this daunting task. But to ease the burden, you will receive full support. Weaponry, transport, intelligence, you name it. We deliver it."
"Sir, we will be ready." Ibarra accepted. "Just give us the intel."
"You got it."
He then showed the three soldiers a folder. As with any classified document, it has an "EYES ONLY" mark stamped on the front, aside from the OSS seal. What is really interesting about the file is what it contained. In it, files concerning 'Projekt Walküre' were shown.
"What the hell is this?" Potter asked quietly.
"We don't know at the moment but the files you are seeing is enough to give you a glimpse of what's gonna happened for a while." Balton answered.
"Then let's get that thing finished so that we can rest easily." Welkin declared. "But...who will be in charge of our guys in the Regiment?"
"I can take care of that, Corporal."
"And also, you will be joined by one of our agents. She's quite a strong-willed type during her duties."
Balton pointed the men towards a woman who arrived moments after with some documents.
"Agent Stark, how's your progress so far with the sabotage operations?" Balton asked.
"Sir, I'm pleased to tell you that it is currently fulfulling as intended." The agent answered. "And here is the files I've recovered."
She then gave them to Balton.
"Excellent. Oh, men, this lady here is Brigitte Stark, one of our newest recruits so far." He introduced her.
"Just call me 'Rosie'." She requested.
"Nice to meet you, Rosie. I'm Welkin Gunther of the 7th Infantry Regiment." The corporal greeted before shaking hands.
"The Cottonbalers? I didn't expect you people to show up here."
"Easy there, Agent."
"I'm Sergeant Largo Potter, the one in charge of the two young men here." Potter followed suit."
"And I'm Private Pedro Ibarra." Pedro finally introduced.
"Now that you people are accustomed to each other, I would now direct you to your first mission as OSS operatives."
Another folder was shown featuring aerial reconnaissance photographs.
"As shown in the folder you are holding right now, there is a small base housing some sort of weapon, 6.8 miles from Atina. Intel suggest that there is a shipment coming in at 2200 hrs. tomorrow, enough time for you to practice jumping out of an airplane."
"Wait a minute!" Gunther reacted. "We have to do that?"
"It will be simplified. When you are done with the mission, then we can further practice that. I'll arrange the training far south of the line as we speak. As for the weapon, I suggest you destroy it. Due to its location, your extraction point is on the other side of the Gustav Line. Operatives will be ready for your arrival, but you better finish it fast in order to escape expected German reinforcements."
"Sir, order complied." Potter responded. "We'll move out if permitted."
"We've got some transportation ready for flight. I'll come with you for some more explanation."
"Thank you, sir." The men said.
"Come, let's head out." They then head out for a PBY Catalina ready to take them to a base in the south of Italy.