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My short story, continued

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Go read the first part here. I have spotted a minor continuity error in the story - I called the ship the Potemkin earlier in the story, then stated that it's name was Unity. Scrub the Unity part and refer to it as the Potemkin (I couldn't be bothered changing the original post so just bear that in mind). Anyway, on with the story (tis a short update, much more to come)...

The shuttle had already left the bay by the time I arrived there and was about to jump out of the system back to home base. The new arrivals were waiting along the wall. “Welcome to the UPMC Potemkin. I am not your commanding officer, but I have orders from the Sergeant to bring you to our briefing room. You won’t have time to organise things here as we are going to be briefed on a mission of importance.” The faces of the five new people almost had a look of annoyance, but their training kept it under check. “Introductions can wait until after the briefing, so follow me.”
We weren’t the only marine unit on the Potemkin. There were 49 other units on board, and each had their own launch bays, quarters, rec rooms, etc. It really was like a mobile army, complete with command structure. Ours was the 23rd Potemkin. It was customary to give a unit a nickname after it was formed, and after our first mission we discussed what it should be. I held back a few suggestions because they really were in bad taste (hey, don’t persecute me, everyone has those thoughts – I still like Corpse Explosion though), but eventually we decided to call ourselves the Guardians of Death. We had already dealt quite a bit of death out to our enemy, and we were sure more was to come, so we thought it was appropriate that we should be guardians. After all, it was us who were guarding death from them until we felt it appropriate.

“OK Marines, listen up! This is one mission we can NOT fuck up on. This could very well be the most important mission of this whole war.” The Sarge seemed deadly serious while still giving his usual over-the-top impersonation of a Sargeant. He was a warrior at heart and it seemed the best sort of Sergeant he could be was a mockery of a Sergeant.
“Sir, what could be so important that it needs to be done yesterday?” came Chambers’ voice.
“Hitchhiking was outlawed an hour ago?” offered Simmons, referring to an earlier joke.
“That’s enough, Simmons,” came the Sarge’s expected reply. She shot a grin over to Chambers, who mouthed “You’ll get yours” to her.
“I’m sure you’re all aware of what happened in this solar system a week ago,” the Sarge continued as if there was no interruption. “What none of us knew until two hours ago was the reason for the amassing of an OA fleet in this system was for.
“This star system was to be the staging point of a smash and dash run to Earth in an attempt to capture and kill the leaders of our United Planets.” This news brought a few surprised looks to everyone’s faces. The thoughts going through everyone’s heads must have been similar to my own: We might very well have lost the war by now if they made it to Earth and eliminated our leaders. What is a war effort without leaders after all?
The Sarge continued; “But – and here’s the good part – the OA thought their plan was so flawless that their Emperor was on planet over-seeing the construction of the fleet. He was planning on having a ship of his own in the fleet so that he could watch his victory first hand, but we proved how superior our forces were that day last week, and today we will prove that their stupidity and arrogance will be their undoing!”
I had a fair idea what this mission would be and a smile was already across my face. I joined the Marines to make a difference, and in no less than my second mission, I was going to directly affect the outcome of this war.
“As you have no doubt already guessed, the Emperor did not get off the planet. He’s still down there. Our mission is to capture or, if necessary, kill the Emperor. He has high security around himself – actual trained combat soldiers, just like yourselves – so this mission will not be an easy one. If you thought that was bad enough, intelligence reports indicate that in two hours a rescue party for the emperor will finally arrive in system, which means we will need to be in and out within half an hour so that we can haul ass out of this system.”
The Sarge continued with the details of the operation. He was holed up in the local centre of government surrounded by three units of trained combat personnel. The Marines have an advantage over their training – we were taught stealth methods. All weapons were to be fitted with silencers, and no heavy weapons were to be brought along at all. Each of the four groups of three marines would have a sniper and two people with KT-54’s.
After dismissing us, he pulled me to the side. “Anderson, I’ll be personally inspecting your weapons and ammo before you board the dropship. If I find any modifications I’ll drop you out of the airlock. Understood?”
“Sir, yes Sir,” I replied. That certainly put a set back on things.

The mission was set to start an hour before the Emperor’s rescue party arrived. To help confuse the OA and the Emperor, every active unit on the planet were to be recalled at the same time. The drop ship activity should help confuse the OA and our dropship landing on the surface should hopefully be mistaken as picking up marines instead of dropping off. We were going to be dropped off 3 klicks from the centre of government. 5 minutes to get to the surface, 10 to get to the building, 10 to find the Emperor and 5 to get back to the Potemkin, after which we would jump out of the system. Intelligence says the rescue party isn’t taking any chances and will come with quite a bit of firepower. Quite a difficult mission, but nothing the Guardians of Death can’t handle.

We were boarding the dropship when the Sarge pulled me aside. I had scrambled about removing the OCTS from my gun and getting some new clips right after the Sarge warned me earlier. To his approval, they all checked out to be normal. Thankfully, what I thought to be a set back earlier proved to be a minor inconvenience. There was no way I could smuggle the OCTS aboard, but thanks to Simmons, she was able to hide my clips on herself. What a nice thing to ask of her, don’t you think? “Hi, I hardly know you, can you hide my clips on yourself?” Thankfully she saw the humour in the situation and didn’t slap me on the spot. Sure, I had to agree to let her use the clips aswell, but that’s a small price to pay. When we reached the planet – me and Simmons were with the Sarge again – she reached down her armour while the Sarge wasn’t looking and pulled out the clips. The Sarge had decided to take sniper duty this time around, and as a result, Simmons had a KT-54 to use the clips with.
They spared no expense with Marine training. Running 3 klicks in 10 minutes would usually make a lot of noise. The stealth training we all undertook was repeated and repeated again until we made no more noise than an ant crawling along the ground. The climate of this planet is on average more humid than that of our training planet so we unfortunately had worked up a sweat by the time we reached the building.
It still makes me wonder why we were chosen for the mission. Perhaps it was because of the Sarge. Maybe it had something to do with my illegal weapon modifications – certainly if we failed this mission we would have been closely examined for any signs of incompetence, and without a doubt my weapon modifications would be known to more than a handful of people. No doubt they would have turned it in to some propaganda slogan, something along the lines of “See what happens when your weapons aren’t standard?” The Guardians of Death weren’t ready to prove that they could foul up every mission given to them though.
The four teams were sweeping the perimeter of the building, hiding in the shadows, making no noise, and killing the occasional grunt on guard patrol. Within two minutes of arriving at the building, the perimeter was clean. From my count, we had eliminated 8 soldiers, which left 28 elsewhere – which wasn’t too bad. 4 soldiers a minute leaves one minute to spare.
The OA were a paranoid lot. Surveillance systems were the norm for any building or ship under their control (the UP is all about trust, especially on their military vessels, and do not install surveillance systems unless the utmost security is required – a fact that worked to my advantage when Marvin cracked). As a result, they knew we were coming when we finally infiltrated the building. It was no doubt going to be messy for both sides. The odds against us were more than 2 to 1, possibly more if they were in communication with the surveillance network. The unofficial motto for the Marines is “Fear is for the weak.” Since no self-respecting marine sees themselves as weak, it works wonderfully for most Marines. I don’t see fear as being weak, I see it as being mortal. I wasn’t suffering from fear, but I was sure as hell going to make my enemy know fear before they died.
We had split up in to our groups and, by the looks of things, the soldiers were in communication with the surveillance network as a group of seven soldiers was waiting for my group. The Sarge took one in his chest and was winded, the body armour stopping the bullet from creating a hole where his lungs were. I dragged him away while returning fire, incapacitating one soldier. I took one in the leg, but thankfully it didn’t get in between a chink in the armour. It made it difficult to walk properly, but we made it to cover quickly.
There would have been no way for us to get past the soldiers. Simmons was keeping them busy while the Sarge was recovering from the shot. I was busy working on a small idea I had. Our flashbangs were set for a three second timer by default. I double checked it, and then popped the pin. I counted in my head the instant I popped the pin, “One dead OA troop, Two dead OA troop,” then flicked the grenade around the corner. Sure enough, it landed at their feet just as it exploded. The noise was minimal, but the light was blinding. There was no doubt in my mind that if I didn’t delay throwing the grenade they would have thrown it back and got us instead. Thankfully, my gamble paid off, and as Simmons and myself stepped around the corner the soldiers were too busy being startled to notice our guns firing. Within three seconds the rest of the soldiers were either dead or incapacitated. 7 soldiers in 10 seconds isn’t too bad at all. I never did check up on what the record was for the quickest kills though.
The Sarge still hadn’t recovered from the shot though. “Anything wrong, sir?”
An involuntary cough later and a tiny amount of blood from the mouth told me the armour hadn’t been wholly effective. “I’m fine, Marine, nothing the doc’s can’t fix when I get back.” I took the Sarge for his word – he definitely wasn’t bleeding from where the shot had struck the armour – and helped him up. I had a bit of a limp, the Sarge was finding it hard to breathe, and Simmons was walking along as if nothing had happened. “Hey, Simmons,” I said, “if I’m so lucky why the fuck do I get wounded all the time?”
“You are lucky,” she told me. “For me, anyway.” A lopsided grin was the only other response I got out of her on the subject.

Much more to come (like what's wrong with the Sarge and whether they catch the Emperor or not)...

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Brilliant story Gooberman!
It appears to me that you ran over the combat situations a bit quickly this time around, but it's an exciting read nonetheless.
Keep up the good work :-)

And a side question: May I ask whether the story is going to have any demons in it or not?

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That's only one combat situation, there will be at least one more in this section. That's all I'm going to say about what else is coming up though, nothing like keeping people in suspense :P

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