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Red Fear

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This is a little something I've been working at during the last two days. Of course, it's nowhere near complete, but it's about four pages or so worth of work, so hopefully you guys will like it.

The young sergeant of the United Nations Marine Corps (UNMC) puffed on his cigar, watching the Martian sky as Mars sat there, an ever-looming presence. He watched the fat planet drift lazily onward, and exhaled a smoke ring. He was going to be 24 in just a few days, why not relax on Phobos, he mused. The heat was drawing sweat from him, slicking his dark brown hair against his head. His warm brown eyes kept watching the planet above. He puffed again, and he heard footsteps behind him. He turned around and saw his commanding officer standing nearby. “Afternoon, sir,” remarked the sergeant.

“Afternoon. I wonder what could bring you out here to watch the sky, soldier. Memories?”

“No, sir. Just some relaxation. I’m going to turn 24 in just a few days, so why not just watch the sky for a while?”

The officer blinked, dwelling upon this for a moment. “You’ve a bit of a point. You look like you’ve been out here for a few hours, why not come back into the base? You’ll end up shriveling in this heat.” He wiped the sweat already forming from his brow. 'It must be at least 130 degrees out here,' he thought.

“Alright, alright, sir. I’ll come,” said that young sergeant, standing up and then walking alongside his commanding officer as they re-entered the base. The gunmetal-gray door to the massive brown monolith opened with a gaseous whir, and then closed, imposing and looking as though it would forbid any entry.

Inside of a Mars base’s laboratory, a young man in a white lab coat worked diligently, fiddling with all sorts of cables and cords as he attempted to figure out a way to create teleportation to ship United Aerospace Corporation (UAC) personnel and UN marines from moon to moon. Phobos and Deimos were on opposite sides of Mars, and the scientist knew that creating a teleportation system would work well for the UAC and the United Nations. He grunted as he hooked two cables together, and he moved over to a nearby workstation covered in all manners of keyboards, monitors, and buttons. He began frantically typing into the console before him, and then switched on the audio recorder. He cleared his throat, and said, “Test number 12. I, Dr. Alfred Ferris, am going to take an apple and test my teleportation system that will link Phobos to Deimos. The teleporter in this base, the Sunder Base, links from Mars to Phobos, instead of being moon-to-moon as the final design is to be.”

With that, Ferris stepped away from the console, and went over to his desk, and retrieved an apple. He pushed a button on a nearby console, and the teleporter flashed on, filled with swirling green light and releasing a gentle hum. “Gateway number 3 is active, and the test is commencing. Forging radio link to Phobos Base Delta. Delta, do you read? This is Dr. Alfred Ferris, and I am preparing to test the teleportation system.”

“We read you, Doctor. The gateway here is online, and we are ready to receive the subject of your test.”

“Very well then, Delta. Test commencing…now.” As soon as he finished the statement, Ferris underhanded the apple into the green light of the teleporter. It vanished, making a soft noise as it did so. “Delta, has the test subject reached you?”

“The test subject...has reached the base. The teleportation system works on inanimate objects now. Good work, Doctor. In time, we hope to have human subjects. Delta out.”

“The test was a success,” said Ferris after Delta had terminated the connection. “The apple is confirmed to have went through the gateway from Homebase Mars to Base Delta on Phobos. With any luck, human subjects will be a concern to be dealt with in the future. This, I restate, is Dr. Alfred Ferris, and the test was indeed successful.” Ferris shut off the recorder, and shut off the gateway as well.

The young sergeant who had been smoking and watching Mars watched as his commanding officer terminated the connection to Mars after having received the apple from the scientist. “I wonder if it’s still good to eat…?”

“Five-second rule on that little red fruit, it’s already bad.” The officer and the soldier shared a laugh as they left the laboratory and went into the mess hall of the base. Numerous UNMC marines sat around, chattering and sharing stories from home.

“...I tell you, that girlie was the sweetest thing I’d ever met,” said one marine to a small group of fellow soldiers as the soldier and officer passed by. “Chick had a body fit to make even a eunuch’s jaw drop! Oh Lord, the time I had with her was glorious!” The other soldiers laughed along with the storyteller.

“Didja get it in?” The question came from a spry-looking marine.

“‘Course I did! The question is, who wouldn’t?!” More laughter.

“What was her name, man?” This time, a rather fit-looking soldier asked the question.

“Good question, pal! Uhh...I think her name was...Alison Yeates! Yeah!” This scored whistles from the group of marines.

“Whoa, bro, you got it in with Alison Yeates? The celebrity who starred in that movie about the Tei Tenga stuff?”

“Yeah, yeah, she’s the one! Good stuff, am I right?”

The officer rolled his eyes as the chatter of the excited marines faded away. “I know that you’re young too, sergeant, but don’t you think the other marines are a little…out of it, to speak in euphemisms?”

The sergeant nodded. “Yeah. Never had a girlie back home, and I didn’t really care to, either. Too much attachment if you’re going to be stationed a whole fraggin’ planet or further away.”

“Ain’t that the truth.” The officer kept walking, approaching the massive steel door of the base master’s room. The base master was a decorated UNMC captain designated to watch over the base, and each base had one of them. The officer knocked on the door.

“You may enter,” called the basso voice of the base master.

The metal door slid upward, and the officer and the sergeant entered the room. The door slid shut with a small hiss as the captain looked over them, and said, “Afternoon, gentlemen. What can I do for you?”

“We were assigned to the test laboratories in order to receive the test subject - an apple - from Mars via the efforts of one Dr. Alfred Ferris,” stated the officer, if only to begin conversation and to give news.

“Was the experiment successful?”

“It was.”

“Excellent news. I’ll ship out to Mars soon and see if I can’t become a test subject myself. It wouldn’t hurt to try. Now then, the reason you came here…”

“Yes. I was here to talk to you about the sergeant.”


“John Baine, sir.” Baine looked up, differentiating himself slightly from his commanding officer.

“Well met, Sergeant Baine. Alright then, officer, we’ve come to discuss Sergeant Baine - with him in our presence - and see what we can do.” The captain intertwined his fingers and swept his gaze over both the officer and Baine. “As we know, Sergeant Baine has a fine service record with the UNMC, and was involved partly in the crisis at the Tei Tenga base complex. He fought his way through mutineers and helped the loyalist base masters escape Tei Tenga so then they could report the insurgency to the UN. The problem was dealt with, fortunately, because had the rebellion kept going, it could have spread back to Earth and caused intergalactic havoc.”

“A fine record indeed, if not a little...lacking,” said the officer, patting Baine on the back gently to let the sergeant know he was making a small joke at the latter’s expense. “Things have been going slowly around Mars and its moons, we know this for a fact.”

“Indeed they have, officer. I’ve been hearing some talk of human subjects being readied up - with their consent, of course - to go to Mars and enter the gateway system to Deimos and Phobos to ensure it works. I’ve been selected as one of the subjects, I accepted the offer, and with that comes my question, and ending the talk of Sergeant Baine - I would like the both of you to accompany me to Mars.”

“It would be an honor, Captain,” replied Baine, bowing his head.

“What say you, officer?”

“I’m in agreement with Sergeant Baine - It would indeed be a fine thing to accompany you to Mars.” The officer’s slight Southern United States dialect was coming out a little, and if anyone noticed, they didn’t comment on it.

“Excellent. We leave tomorrow to go to Mars. You two relax; we’re going to have a busy next few days. You’re dismissed.”

The base master’s door shut once again as Baine and the officer stepped out of the room. “Surely you’re excited to go to Mars, sergeant,” remarked the officer.

“That I am. I haven’t been stationed on Mars during this tour of duty, so it’ll be something fresh rather than the same brown base every day.”

“I feel you, brother.” Baine and the officer kept walking, and they heard a commotion in the mess hall. They approached, and saw two marines in an intense arm-wrestling match, a common sight in Base Delta. Their green body armor flashed in the dim light as they stared at each other, straining to make their opponent’s arm move onto the table.

“Oh boy, that’s Private Polluk up against Corporal Anderson. I think we already know who’s going to win,” said the officer. Baine could detect the slight wonder in his voice, and he knew that Polluk was actually holding his own against Anderson, something rarely seen, only known when the base master and Baine were up against the corporal.

The marines gathered around were chanting out the names of Polluk and Anderson as they struggled, and Baine watched as Anderson’s arm gave out and fell onto the table, bested by the private. The marines cheered for Polluk’s victory, and the two arm wrestlers stood and shook each other’s hands, conceding a good match. “Kind of tense, wasn’t it, Baine?”

“No kidding. C’mon, we should probably get some sleep. It’s getting late, anyway.”

“Yeah, that’s right. In all that, I almost forgot that we were going to go with the base master to Mars to watch him go into the teleporter. Sleep well, Baine.”

“You too, officer.”

The next morning, Baine awoke, stretching out his arms. He flung himself out of his bed, and strapped on his green armor, hooking on his gauntlets and leggings. He pushed the button that lifted his door to see his commanding officer waiting outside, the captain alongside him. “You’re right on time, Baine. We’re departing in just a moment. The UNMC’s sent a captain by the name of Queeg to overwatch the base. Hopefully things won’t get too messy while we’re gone.”

“I don’t think they would. Everything here’s been smooth from what I’ve seen.”

“Precisely, Baine. Now then, shall we get going?”

“Yes, sir.” The trio made their way through Base Delta, past the marines rising fresh out of bed. The latter were all making their way to the mess hall, some of them waving a brief hello to the captain before resuming their idle conversation with their friends and comrades. The brown walls of the base passed by in an almost dreamlike quality as the three men approached the hangars. The blue armor of the base master caught in the light, and Baine pondered it. He knew green armor offered plenty of protection, but only base masters and important officers obtained the blue Mega Armor.

The doors of the hangers opened for the three men, and the marines in the hangars all stood to attention and saluted the base master. The captain looked around and offered a salute of his own before saying, “At ease.” The salutes lowered, and the captain continued on. “Is the craft I’ve commissioned ready for travel?”

A private nodded. “Yessir. The personal craft XBB-192 is ready to go to Mars at your leave. I’m assuming these two are accompanying you?”

“They are, private. Captain Queeg of the UNMC is coming to oversee Base Delta while I’m gone. Don’t give him too much of a hard time,” said the captain jokingly. This scored some chuckles around the hangar. “We’ve dallied, soldiers. Let’s get in the craft and get to Mars.”

Baine and the officer nodded, and they climbed into the ship XBB-192, followed by the captain. The pilot climbed in last, and throttled the engine. The hangar bay opened as the ship XBB-192, containing Sergeant Baine, the basemaster, and the officer, rocketed away from Phobos and departed for Mars.

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Waffenak said:

well written story

Thanks! Glad to see you liked it.
I do know there is a bit of a continuity error within the story itself, and I've never gotten around to fixing it on my post, though my updated version I have on my Google Drive has the error fixed.

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