At this point, Anton prayed for something to happen. Anything other than manual labor. He begged and pleaded with any deity that he thought might exist to just have him be shot or at least get shot at already. However, one of the first lessons Anton learned in South Zagoria is to be careful what you wish for.
Late in the evening, Lt. Kral, one of Lesnitsky's commanding officers, kicked everyone out of their racks and told them to grab their gear. Anton instinctively grabbed his shovel instead of his weapon, as did many other conscripts. "NO YOU FUCKING IDIOTS!" The Lieutenant shouted. "Grab the shit you use to kill people with! Bring plenty of ammo!"
They were only given a short briefing, but the gist of it was that, Jaysh Shallah, a Takistani terrorist group, were executing the villagers of Myshkino. They were going to go and rescue them. The journey there was grueling and tiring, as it was on the other side of the province and they had very little time to get there. Once they arrived, his squad met up with a group of armed foreigners dressed in civilian and military clothing. Anton assumed they were NATO remnants or something and there were a lot of them. At least a platoons worth. The plan was simple, the Militia, having greater numbers, would move in to secure the hostages while Anton and his Squad would cover their retreat. The element of surprise was on their side and the Takis had no idea they were coming. The adrenaline was already pumping through Anton's veins as the combined force of 20-22 men moved into position.
When the first shots rang out, the Militia secured the hostages while Anton and his comrades made short work of Jaysh Shallah forces however, unbeknownst to them, a Russian separatist group was also in the village and there were enough of them to launch a counter attack up the hillside they were holding. Lt. Kral order his men to fall back as their primary objective was already completed. The Militia had already secured the hostages and had gotten them to safety and it wouldn't be long before the Russians would overwhelm them. Unfortunately during the midst of an intense firefight with advancing Separatist forces, Anton got separated from his squad and was left to wonder behind enemy lines.....alone.
He ended up coming across a lone Militia member who seemed to be in the same predicament. An American who appeared to be almost the same age as him. They navigated their way behind enemy lines, dodging numerous Separatist patrols before they managed to regroup with Lt. Kral. Although Anton let out a sigh of relief, he soon realized that this wasn't gonna be the end. The Lieutenant had offered the Villagers and Militia to stay at the their FOB at Berezino, in order to do so, they would have to escort all of them back across the entire Province. There was nothing the young boy could do to prepare him for the grueling fight that laid ahead.
Ambush after ambush, every treeline seemed to have snipers, every town seemed to be occupied by them. And no matter how many he and his comrades killed, they just kept coming. By the time, they reached Stary Sobor, Anton was running dangerously low on ammo, and finding it more and more difficult keep his cool. His nerves were being stretched thin from the constant fighting. He had to keep moving, there was no other choice. If he got separated again, he knew for sure he wouldn't make it. This was Anton's first taste of combat and while he was loving the thrill and rush it gave him during the beginning of the battle, his body and mind were now being pushed to their absolute limits.
After fending off yet another ambush in Stary Sobor, the Militia and other Villagers had regrouped with them and were now making their way through Novy Sobor where they would make a B-line straight through the hills and forests towards the FOB. As the massive caravan was leaving Novy, the remaining Separatists had followed them and set up positions behind them in the town itself and opened up on them with a hail of gunfire. Tracers zipped past Anton's head as he dove into a shallow ditch, however he had not realized that the others did not do the same. They instead darted up the hill to take cover in the treeline. It seemed like Anton's worst fear was about to come true. There was no way he was going to be left behind again. There's no way he would ever be that lucky again. Panic overwhelmed the young boy, as he sprung up out of the ditch sprinting up the hill as fast as he could. The dirt kicked up around him, there was no one else out in the open, he was the only visible target. Unfortunately no amount of luck could've saved him from the volley of gunfire that finally struck home. He felt his legs give out and fell face first into the dirt. The gun fire had stopped, they must've believed he was dead. Anton could hear a voice call out to him, but he couldn't make out who it was. He was too scared to move. His vision began to fade and the last thing he remembered was someone beginning to try and carry him on his shoulders, however the blood loss soon rendered him unconscious.