They're Random, Baby!

Fan Fiction

A Rifleman Went To War
Posted By: 2 Minute Trooper<kalae@online.no>
Date: 22 June 2008, 9:37 pm

Read/Post Comments

A Rifleman Went To War: Prologue

2100 Hours, August 20, 2552 (Military Calendar)/
UNSC FFG-095 Gibraltar (Convoy duty), Slipstream Space - unknown coordinates

Corporal Sealrest Holland was in an uneasy sleep rhythm for the thousandth time since he joined the UNSC. He had always been rather active in bed, not the jumping in the hay type, but turning and rolling back and forth. Even his fire team mates knew it by now, so much so that the marine that had the bottom rack in the sleeping quarters had taken advantage of it. By trading the bunk for a month's worth of desserts, for a marine in the field this was like selling his arm. Not that Holland minded that much; he'd rather go without dessert than have a broken back from rolling out of the top bunk.

As he turned over yet again, the crash of his body hitting the deck confirmed to him that this night would be no different than the rest. Just as he tried to get up the claxons started roaring out its signal to battle stations.

"Fuck, not again!" yelled Private First Class Tolo, Holland was so used to his PFCs outbursts that he almost laughed at him. It hadn't struck in his mind that they could be under attack or anything. In all likelihood they hadn't, Holland had not felt the deceleration from slipstream space yet.

He concluded quickly that it was this randomized slipstream jump was coming to an end. With every deceleration in to normal space the whole ship was called to battle stations. If everything went without a hitch they would be back in another randomized slipstream jump as per the Cole Protocol. He got up, quickly stretched his arms and legs before putting his gear on.

"Let's move it people, this isn't a picnic we're invited to!" growled the platoon Sergeant. With that everybody really started moving, not that they were lazing around. The Sergeant was pretty new to the platoon; Holland hadn't caught his full name yet.

As the marines got their combat fatigues and armor on, the sergeant walked to the weapons rack near the hatch. As each marine came by the sergeant pulled a weapon from the rack and handed it over. It was a new operating procedure for Holland; as far as he knew the sergeant had taken it along with him as a sort of tradition from his former unit. As the corporal went by the sergeant handed him a MA5B assault rifle and an ammunition sack.

"The Captain wants your fire team at the infirmary, Corporal."

Holland nodded and started walking upward through the frigate. His fire team fell in behind him, they were unusually quiet this evening, he thought. He looked in too his ammunition sack, six clips for the rifle and four grenades. Just the way he liked it. The old MA5B was not a particularly accurate weapon, he'd seen marines firing an entire clip at a distant enemy and missed with every single one of the weapons sixty 7.62x51mm rounds. Most of his fire team preferred the BR55 battle rifle. But not corporal Holland, you only had to know how to use the rifle. If you use it right it will be your closest friend, he reminded himself as he rounded the corner. The red triangle on the deck with the writing "Infirmary" in it confirmed that they were only a few steps further.

"Why do we always get the babysitting duties on these Convoy runs?" asked Private Popova as the fire team set up shop at the infirmary entrance.

"Stow it trooper!" answered Holland, he hated the whining his marines could come up with on these easy and safe postings. Then he turned his attention to the corridor and its defense. For some reason, he couldn't in heaven understand why, the combat barriers that let the marines defend the ship relatively easily was turned the wrong way. The barriers only worked properly when the "operator" was on the right side. So he ordered the fire team to place them properly. He reminded them that if the Covenant boarded the Gibraltar they would do it from the hangar, and there for the best defense had to be set up towards the aft of the ship. The marines started to growl at him now.

"Do want to live or is this just a vacation for you, I can assure you the Covenant doesn't take vacations," growled Holland back at them. He didn't want to sound like an old fart, but taken that the Covenant were clearly winning the war even these milk runs were dangerous. He thought over the term "milk run" for a second and at the same time checked the Fire team's fields of fire. Milk run is an easy task that doesn't need any additional troops to be completed. The term should be used after the fact, thought Holland.

"Corporal, could you help me with something?" said a sweet voice behind him. He turned and got a look at the source of the voice, a marine corpsman attached to the ships infirmary.

"No problem, lass. Tolo hold the fort. If any problems show up call me," said Holland. The PFC nodded.

As he walked in through the hatch of the infirmary he got a real shock. The whole ward was teaming with life. The sound of laughter ringed in his ears. Popova was right it is a babysitting duty, thought the Corporal. For some reason he just kept watching the... action was the only word that came to mind at the moment. Children, by the sound you would think there were hundreds of them here. The real number was more like fifteen, he couldn't be entirely be sure since none of them kept still for more than a few moments.

"Were did all these children come from?" he asked out loud, even though the rest of his mind didn't really want to know. The second thing that came into his mind was who would protect these defenseless small humans. Thank god we're not going in to a warzone, he thought.

"They've all had a pretty bad case of the flu. The hospital ship attached to the convoy didn't have the room or staff to care for them. So the Doc had them transferred on to the Gibraltar'' said the Corpsman. Smiling broadly as she said it.

"They're quite… active is the word I'm looking for I suppose," in a fairly lost tone. His mind was buzzing of just the sight of them.

"Yeah, they are very active. I think it's a modified version of hide and seek," she answered. Since the infirmary was extremely small the whole game was over in about thirty seconds each time. The only thing that changed was the one that was the seeker.

"What was it you wanted help with?"

"Oh yeah. Those seven crates in there were supposed to be transferred to one of the ships in the convoy, but no one has come to collect them yet. Would you be so good and see to it, Corporal?''

Holland took one look at the crates and the first thought that came in to his mind was, do I look like a dock loader or something. The crates were huge, easily two hundred kilo grams each. And there were seven of them.

A shudder and shacking went through the Gibraltar. What was that, thought Holland before another part of his brain whispered. Slipspace.

"We just went out of Slipspace. Sorry, lass but I've got to get to my post. It will have to wait to the next jump," he said and turned around just as one of the children bumped in to him, and just as quickly the little girl seemed to run for cover or something. Holland let a small laughter go from what had been a stone-face a moment earlier. Children aren't they wonderful, he thought and walked through the hatch, back behind the cover of the combat barriers.

"Did you get her number of something, Corporal? Or were you more lucky that that? " asked Tolo.

"The Corporal doesn't get that lucky, he isn't that fast either,'' said Popova. Holland didn't like the joke as much as the rest of the fire team did. But if it kept their spirits up he could ignore it from time to time, but this time a single sentence popped out of his mouth.

"Stow it troopers."

Something significant shacking rocked the ship violently for a tenth of a second and then then nothing more. What the hell was that, thought Holland. Something really bad must be happening top side or… The new thought chilled him to the core.

"That didn't feel like a slipspace jump. What do you think?'' asked Private Bosch. The entire fire team was looking at the ceiling of the corridor as if that held some answers.

"The Captain just fired the MAC…'' said Holland, his sentence drifted away from him as he said it. The jinx he was waiting for had arrived. Never become complacent in the post you are in. For sooner or later the enemy would show its ugly face. And when it came to the Covenant it didn't get any uglier.

"They're her…" said Bosch in a fearful voice.

"Yeah chaps, they are her," said Holland calmly. He really wanted to find out what was going on. His first impulse was to find one of the ships monitors and activate the ships external cameras on it.

"All personnel to battle stations, I say again all personnel man your battle station. This is not a drill. Repeat, this is not a drill," the female voice sounded through the ships speakers. As clear as day was saying that they were basically screwed.