On a planet alled White Blood by United Nation Marines, a small group of humans, who recently were shot down, battle their way to their allies in this short story.
Cpl. Frey Karlton
April 23, 2107
Today I arrived on the Phoenix, a UNIGC Jackson class ship, along with all the others in Echo squad. Captain Beckson said that alien activity in this area of the galaxy, the M-P4-4 solar system (M for milkyway galaxy, P4 is the solar system, and the fourth planet from the star), is only mild. This lifted my spirits because the sign on the wall during training said “Expect the Worst.” It kind of sounds weird, but it really made my stomach turn every time I glanced at it. Anyway, tomorrow we get introduced to our mission, which is scheduled to be on the 29th. I hope the mission is calm.
Frey sighed. It was always the same.
“Don’t do blah blah, don’t try blah blah.” He could almost swear he had heard the exact same speech on the first day of training back on earth. Once Cpt. Beckson finished his very entertaining lecture to the new recruits about all the rules, Frey decided to go get some grub from the slop, which is what the veterans called the cafeteria, with his friend from training whose name he could never tell anyone because it was “too embarrassing.” When he still wouldn’t tell anyone, everyone started calling him Anonymous, and then they shortened it to Amous, which stuck.
Frey and Amous got in line. They had heard that the Sloppy Joe was pretty good, along with the fruit cup. After getting their lunch, they grabbed a table next to two guys whose names were James and Fredrick, but people called him Fred. James and Fred were almost exact opposites. James was tall and skinny, with red buzz-cut hair. He also had a lot of freckles, so his nickname was “Spots.” Fred, on the other hand, was small and chubby, with black hair. His face always reflected a bored expression. You would never think of them as friends.
“Hey, you gonna eat that?” Fred pointed to Frey’s fruit cup.
“Yeah,” Frey replied in a deep voice to sound cool. Fred mumbled something to himself as he turned around.
“You ready for the mission next week?” Amous asked.
“To be honest, I’m pretty nervous,” Frey said in a worried tone.
“You’re not the only one,” Amous mumbled. “At least we have a week.”
At around 5:30 on the 26th, Frey was woken up by a deep voice that told him to meet with everyone on the observation deck. Frey yawned and pulled on his uniform. He stumbled out of the barracks section of the Phoenix and walked to the observation deck. Once he entered, a blinding light hit him. His eyes adjusted to the searing light and he saw that it was the starlight reflecting off a snow-covered planet. As his eyes adjusted more he saw about twenty people in the corner talking quietly. They all looked annoyed and tired. Frey spotted Amous in the crowd and walked over to him.
“What are we doing here?” Frey half yawned to Amous. “I hope it’s for something useful, not like a ‘congrats on getting to the Phoenix successfully.’”
“I’ll be so freakin’ mad they’re going to have to call a whole squad to get me to the brig.” Amous had been so mad that his beauty sleep had been interrupted that he didn’t notice that the sergeant had entered and everyone was silent.
“What was that?” the sergeant said.
Amous’ face turned red and he replied in a shaky voice, “Nothing, sir!”
“Yeah. Sure. Since you are new here, I’ll forget this happened.” Amous exhaled deeply but quietly.
“Now, assuming there will be no further interruptions let me introduce myself. I’m Sergeant Douglas, but you,”Douglaspointed to the Marines, “will refer to me as sir or sergeant on the days that I’m in a bad mood, which is most of the time, But on the good days you can call me Doug or Douglas.” Someone in the back raised his hand.
“How will we tell if you’re in a good or bad mood?” The marines chuckled.
“Trust me, you’ll know.” More chuckles followed.
“Now, let’s get to business. The planet you are currently over is officially named M-P4-4, but most people call it White Blood, because it’s covered with snow 24-7, the highest recorded temperature was 23 degrees Fahrenheit, with a lowest recorded temperature of minus 176 degrees Fahrenheit, which was in the north pole, so don’t get too worried. The blood part is from the intense fighting over the control of it. Over 400 marines died in the final three days of retaking it. We finally got it back, but the UNIGC requested frequent recon of the area for any signs of the Proxima. Quick question, does anyone know what Proxima means?” Frey’s heart jumped. He knew what it meant. He raised his hand. When Douglas pointed at him, he answered.
“It means next in Latin,” he said trying to sound smart.
“They believe that they arenextin line to be gods.”
“Correct! At least we have one person who has a brain, Karlton,” Sarge gave Frey a thumbs up.
“Now that we know where we are, let’s talk about the mission. In three planetary rotations, or what you ding-dongs call “days,” we will leave the Phoenix. At 0800 hours we are gone, no exception unless you are coughing up your liver or something.” A guy in the back of the crowd coughed. People held in their laughs.
“He, he, he,” Douglas said in an obviously fake high pitched tone.
“Shut up and listen,” he said annoyingly.
“Where was I? Oh, right, at 0800, we are gone. Meet in the hangar bay. We are going to be landing at firebase Goliath, which is a small outpost on White Blood. That’s where you will be staying for about two, three, max four days until Delta Squad, who left today, completes their recon rotation. Once you begin your rotation, you’ll be on your own with limited radio contact to patrol the surface for five, six, or seven days, depending on what you stumble upon.”
Frey tried to process the information he had just received down to details, while Doug asked if there were any questions. Frey, Fred, and another guy who Frey recognized from the slop, raised their hands. Fred went first.
“What hangar bay do we meet in?” Fred asked.
“Good question. Hangar three.” Doug pointed to Frey.
“When do we get our weapons?” Frey asked.
“Another good question. You will get your weapons later in the week. Next question!” The other dude started talking.
“What will the weather be like?” He asked.
“Hummm. I remember that Captain Beckson said it was going to be close to -70 degrees at Firebase Goliath from the end of April to the first week of May, because of a small blizzard.” Everyone groaned. Sarge muttered something about “little sissies” and continued.
“Any more questions? No? Ok, you’re dismissed I guess.” Everyone continued talking and walked toward the door. Frey caught up with Amous.
“Hey, lucky,” Frey said as he approached Amous.
“Why do you say that?”
“You’re lucky that Doug let you off the hook.”
“Yeah, well. I’m going to sleep. See you tomorrow.” Amous walked faster and left Frey behind. Frey wondered what was wrong with Amous. He figured it was nothing. He crawled into his bunk, yawned, and fell asleep.
Cpl. Frey Karlton
April 28, 2107
Tomorrow we go down to M-P4-4, or White Blood, as it’s more commonly known as. Sarge said that the temperature was going to be about negative 70 degrees, which is 90 degrees colder than the coldest winter I’ve been in on earth, and it’s in the spring on White Blood. Good thing it’s not winter. Another bad thing is that the recon mission lasts a little under a week. I feel sorry that Delta Squad had to go down before us, 3 days after arriving on thePhoenix. Later today we get our guns...finally.
“Next!” Lieutenant Gwen yelled. Amous stepped up.
Gwen handed Amous his gun; an ACR-56, Advanced Combat Rifle.
“Sweet,” Amous said. Amous looked at Frey briefly as he turned around. His bright-red hair looked like fire, while his bark blue eyes reflected the ocean. I thought about what he would see if he looked at me. He would see dirty blond hair with blue green eyes.
“Next!” Gwen yelled again. Frey stepped up. He handed Frey an ACR. The light weight weapon felt great in Frey’s hands. He had training with it. He thought he had his own gun, until they took it and told him he would get another on thePhoenix. He suddenly remembered his history lessons in school about 5 years back. He remembered how 120 years ago, in 1987, the original ACR was designed. It was the father of modern weapons in 2107.
Back at his bunk, Frey studied the weapon. He wondered if it would ever kill anything. He didn’t like to think about it, so he focused on the mission that was going to be tomorrow. After a few minutes, Amous entered.
“Thinking about White Blood?” He asked.
“Yeah, you?” Frey said back.
Amous shrugged. “I dunno,” he said casually.
“Well, I’m going to go eat. You coming?”
“No. I’ll stay here,” Frey said.
“Suit yourself. See you later,” Amous walked out.
Frey sat on his bed and thought. Why did he even join the army? Oh, that’s right. For the money so he could go to college when he was older. He closed his eyes.
“Everyone, get your lazy butts to the bridge,” Sarge yelled out. Everyone groaned.
“Get up!” He yelled. Frey got up and pulled on his uniform. He followed the others. In the small room, he expected to be hit by the same light that he experienced on the observation deck, but the windows were tinted. Around the perimeter sat men at desks with computers, radars, and microphones. In the middle of the room sat a large holographic map showing Firebase Goliath. Then Captain Beckson spoke.
“Good morning gentlemen. You are abo....” His sentence was cut off by one of the men at radar.
“Enemy destroyer! Take Cov....” A huge boom followed by the whole ship rocking cut him off.
“Charge all heavy cannons, fire at will! Give me a sit rep!” Beckson yelled.
“Medical section has taken multiple hits, they are venting atmosphere!” A radioman yelled.
“Crap! All medics and fire crews to the medical wing. Get them out then seal it off!”
“What do we do?!” A marine yelled.
“Get to hangar three! Your mission cannot be aborted, a transport will be there!”
“Battle stations, battle stations, general quarters, general quarters,” A disembodied voice rang out throughout the Phoenix. All the marines stumbled back through the door. Down the long halls, the crew was at full alert. Fire crews, medics, engineers, and everyone else raced to their desired locations.
“Hangar three is on the left!” Fred yelled. Everyone followed him into the third of the four hangars. Fighters of all sorts were being prepped as fast as possible. In the center were two T-A46 transports, more commonly known as “grasshoppers.”
“Everyone load up!” a pilot screamed to be heard over the now raging battle only a few yards out of the hangar. Frey, Amous, James, and a few others piled into the first grasshopper. As soon as the door clicked shut, the pilots hit the gas. The sudden acceleration caught Frey unprepared. He flew back, almost threw up, then slid up to his seat and buckled the strap.
“Phoenix, this is Swordfish, we’re out.”