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Soldier Girl: Part 15
Posted By: Adam Stark<Xvash2@gmail.com>
Date: 14 May 2010, 7:12 am

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Chapter 7: The Beginning of Things to Come

      Eight months, eight long months since UNSC Einherjar had broken out of slipspace and came crashing into the orbit of Mihai, a gas giant orbiting the star Alpha Forcanis A. The inhabitants of the near-derelict vessel should have considered themselves lucky, Alpha Forancis happened to be a star that was home to another planet, Macerr, a UNSC colony in existence for some years now. But in orbit around the closest planet to the star, and without much in the way of working systems, the battle-damaged cruiser, sat waiting, hoping for rescue from the colony.

      Cryo had shut down as well. Refugees, in the thousands now had to endure on limited supplies, and people began to slowly starve. The officers however had kept plenty of the rations for the marine contingencies that had been brought aboard, and soon, due to their decisions, an uprising began to form.

      Sanderson found herself bunking in quarters that were holding triple their normal capacity, and after being brought out of Cryo, she had lost track of Nubel. It was a fairly large ship, and he could be in any of the marine quarters. She slept on the floor, beside the bunks of two older marines, a Sergeant Dempsey and Corporal Jakobi, whom she found herself out with on impromptu patrols around the ship's corridors. They had no real weapons though, as the admiral had deemed it necessary to keep all weapons under lock and key to prevent any insurrection.

      It would be at meal time one day when it began. Sanderson stood watch at the entrance to the cafeteria, with orders to only allow marines and naval personnel in to eat, so that they would all have their fill before the civilians could. Around the time meals were beginning to be served, several 'fugees tried to talk their way through.

      "C'mon miss, we're starvin' out here, can't we just get some food?" a rather short one pleaded with her, with a rather ratty tone in his voice. Melissa's right hand dwindled on the grip of her unloaded rifle that was slung at her side, as she sensed a foreboding trouble coming.

      "The mess hall is off-limits to civilians until personnel have been served. Please step back and return the refugee quarters." A simple, automatic response she had drummed up in her head. She couldn't get too personal anyways. Melissa certainly didn't want them to hate her, it wasn't her decision to make, just order for her to follow. Noticing two marines coming in, she stepped aside, blocking the 'fugees from passing. A crowd of them formed now, shoving slightly, trying to get in.

      "Sergeant Sanderson requesting back-up at Deck Nine Mess Hall, potential riot," she whispered through her comm, hoping someone would show up. Despite the fact that she was equipped with a rifle, nobody would be scared; even they knew that it was unloaded. A taller man now moved through the crowd, and her grip tightened on the weapon at her side, left hand's fingers now repeatedly tapping the hilt of her combat knife that was resting in its sheath attached to her belt. The tall, somewhat fat man came to the front.

      "Move it, I gotta eat," he rumbled, his stomach sticking out slightly from under his undersized shirt. Sanderson took a step back.

      "The mess hall is off-limi-" a flying fist cut her off, forcing her to quickly duck to the ground. The lumbering man reached down to try to pick her up, but she swiftly unsheathed her knife and jammed it into the man's kneecap, twisting it before extraction. Just then a team of marines and naval personnel came through the door from behind, weapons drawn. Sergeant Dempsey was at the front.

      "All right now, you'll get your food later! Clear out of the corridor before we open fire!" he shouted over the now riled mob, which pushed and shoved against the marines to try to enter the mess. The fat man still writhed in pain on the floor, right leg immobilized as searing pain shot through his knee. A few stepped on him, but none cared, as the refugees started swinging. The swelling conglomerate of bodies began to force the marines into the cafeteria, drawing the attention of both the naval personnel as well as other soldiers in the mess hall. They quickly scrambled to their feet, joining the fray to fight back the frenetic civilians.

      "Marines, clear out!" shouted a booming man from the back of the mess hall. A naval officer, Commander Ludwig Sturm, along with three security officers, held M319 Grenade Launchers. As soon as the marines caught glimpse, they scattered from the doorway as the security officers unleashed several tear gas grenades towards the unruly mob. They attempted to disperse, but many stumbled and became seized up by the effects of the gas. The security detail soon donned gas masks and made their way through with zip-ties, detaining many of the inciters of the group. But in the middle, they did find the fat man, trampled and bled out on the floor. Beside him, Sanderson sat, eyes red and coughing a fit, mucus dribbling out of her nose. One of the officers knelt down and put a mask over her face, helping her up from the floor and extracting the marine from the still foggy cloud of gas.

      She found herself in the medical bay, being attended to by one of the marine corpsmen, shaking off the effects of the riot control agent. The corpsmen checked her eyes with a flashlight, gloved hand holding her head still.

      "Sergeant, are you feeling alright? You passed out for a moment on the way here," he inquired, kneeling slightly to steady himself at her height as she sat on a table.

      "Yeah, couldn't brea- ea-" she paused for a moment, coughing up more mucus. "Couldn't breath. I think I'll be ok."

      "Alright good, you better get back to your quarters, rumors talkin' 'bout an uprising that might start." An explosion rumbled the ship, knocking several medical instruments off tables, and causing the corpsmen to fall back onto his rear. Several shouts quickly arose as he shook his head. A voice boomed over the speakers of the ship.

      "This is Admiral James Austin. The ship is now on lockdown. All refugees report to the refugee quarters, all marines and naval personnel report to ready stations. Use of deadly force to contain riots has been authorized. I repeat, the ship is now on lockdown. Use of deadly force has been authorized." The voice, the name flickered in her head for a moment, but the frenzy quickly pushed it aside. The corpsmen drew her attention as he drew his M6.

      "Listen, I can't help you back. I have to stay here and guard the medical bay with the others; can you find your way?"

      "Yeah, I think so." Sanderson stood, knees cracking, grabbing her rifle as it leaned on the side of the table. Still no bullets, though. She moved to the doors of the bay, peering out. The corridors that were once packed with people were now desolate, only teams of marines and naval security moving about. As she was about to move out, two medics burst through, carrying a marine on a stretcher. His left arm had been blown in two, as he screamed in pain, despite the blockers that had been administered. She took another look, a cautious one, before shouldering her rifle. Two steps out, three lefts and then two rights to the quarters. Or was it two lefts, three rights? She shuddered at the realization that she wasn't particularly certain on the path back, but being one not to admit such an uncertainty, she proceeded with her instinct. Three lefts, two rights, and she came to a corridor. No quarters, but a team of marines, pinning several 'fugees on the ground, M6s to the skulls. She walked up to them as a corporal struggled to get one of the men's hands in the zip-ties.

      "Corporal, where are the deck nine quarters?" she asked, rifle pointed slightly at the arrested civilian.

      "Back down the other way and take a left. Now get back, these boys have been pretty jumpy today. They killed one of my squadmates." As he spoke that last line, he gestured over to a doorway, where shadows cloaked a motionless body, blood dripping down the side and running across the decks of the ship. She did not speak, but only acknowledged his assistance.

      She found herself back at the quarters, just in time to run into Dempsey and Jakobi. The latter sat on his bunk, reassembling his M90A shotgun. Next to him resided two boxes of ammo, one an eight-gauge buckshot, the other some riot beanbags. He loaded the eight-gauge, dumping the riot shells into a pouch on his belt. Dempsey sat below, bandaging his wrist, undoubtedly an injury sustained during the altercations in the cafeteria. She sat on the floor, next to an ammo trunk that had been opened for dispersal amongst the troops. She grabbed several magazines for her battle rifle, slotting them in the pouches on her gear. Dempsey stood, flexing his wrist.

      "You took a hard hit in that fight Melissa. Good to see you're sticking around for the big show," spoke Dempsey, sitting back down on his cot, looking out at the other soldiers in there as well.

      "What do you mean?"

      "Ship's losing orbit, some saboteur felt it necessary to destroy a significant portion of the starboard hull with a hell of a lot of shaped charge. They don't think it'll get patched up."

      "So what are we going to do?" At that moment, Jakobi chimed in.

      "I'm in for a turkey shoot; that is…if we're all going to die."

      Two hours later, the team was called up to guard the bridge. The doors were sealed, and security officers insisted on having some of the more conditioned non-commissioned officers standing guard. Gunfire echoed down the corridors, and despite the fact that the elevators were shut off, the riled refugees continued to move about via access passages.

      Radio contact came in.

      "This is checkpoint Alpha-Papa 17, mob overrunning position; we have lost the deck-eight armory! I repeat, deck-eight armory is in rebel hands!" The group holding the barricade in the corridor grew uneasy; that armory was just two decks away from the bridge, and the 'fugees were most likely headed for the bridge. Capturing the bridge meant control of vital systems, and even if they didn't know how to use them, it would be the end of everyone on the ship.

      A raucous stirred down the corridor, on the opposite side of the sealed blast doors that cut off the access corridors from the bridge.

      "Marines, eyes on the door! Shoot anything that comes through!" barked one of the security officers, a gruff lieutenant who wielded an M90A shotgun. Unexpectedly, the door slid open, and the marines immediately reacted with a quick barrage of rounds.

      "Cease-fire! Cease-fire!" he shouted, quickly realizing those coming through were stragglers from the checkpoint one deck up. Three of them had taken hits in the midst of the friendly fire, and struggled to get on the other side. A batch of naval personnel ran through, following behind, pistols in hand. They hopped the barricade, trying to catch their collective breaths.

      "The refugees are on their way here, and they are armed," he gasped out, sucking down air as Sanderson noticed the blood splatters on the back of his uniform. No holes in the back, must've been from another man. She looked back over the barricade, as the doors sealed themselves shut. But moments later, a banging began.

      It's time. She gazed down her rifle's scope, waiting for the doors to open. An onslaught would surely result, but it was them or her. She felt somewhat lucky though, having experience killing other humans. Most people joined up to take out the Covenant, and intra-species combat wasn't something they were interested in. Most of the wounded marines took up position alongside her and the sergeants, refusing to give up a fight until it's over. So they waited there, time ticking away until the doors would open.

      But a shockwave ripped through the corridor. An explosive tore the steel doors away from the corridor, bending back panels and knocking out electrical systems. Small fires now lit the hallway as those still conscious tried to get their bearings. Sanderson looked around, trying to hear anything, but all she could feel was the blood running from her ears. Flashes of light erupted in the dust that remained unsettled from the blast, but no sound. She grabbed the side of the barricade, pulling herself up. The marine next to her got hit. She got to her knees, shouldering her rifle. Lights flickered down the corridor, creating brief glimpses of the 'fugees that slugged forward down the hall. Several marines had clicked on the lights on their barrels, trying to pick their shots with their flashlights.

      Sanderson wiped the blood from the sides of her face and began firing, lighting the corridor with her muzzle flashes. A grenade took off several panels from the ceiling, rocking them further. The doors to the bridge opened, a fire team of ODSTs bursting through, spraying M/7s as they made their way past the barricade and down the corridor. Sanderson ducked down, letting them do their work. She looked as the doors opened again, the admiral stepping out, wielding an M6. She realized who he was that instant. That name, from the mountain.


      He didn't recognize her, squeezing off shots down the hallway as naval personnel set up floodlights to illuminate the passageway. Several of the ODSTs had been shot, and were in the process of retreating back, intermittent fire coming from the other side of the blown-out blast door. Melissa rested for a moment, resting her head back, a ringing now prevalent in her hearing, everything still muffled. She looked up once more.

      James staggered back, blood beginning to stain his naval uniform. He cracked off two more shots before being hit again, immediately being dragged back into the bridge. Several marines took his place, unloading downrange, beating back what was left of the refugees. With the lights set-up, they had no darkness to hide in, and scampered back to other decks.

      The battle would have likely continued for days had the UNSC Cossack arrived on station to bail out the dying cruiser. After they arrived, MPs quelled the uprising, and were evacuated before the cruiser Einherjar was set to be towed back to Macerr.

      On her way to Macerr, Sanderson felt something odd throughout the trip. She constantly peered out at the stars, sensing that she was like a pinball on some cosmic bally table. She didn't like it.