Posted By: Harbringer352<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 13 April 2010, 1:19 am
The boy gasped and wheezed, stumbling over the tangled system of roots spread across the forest floor. He was making an awful racket, he knew it there was no doubt about it and he knew she'd catch him.
He kept running. He tripped over a thick, mossy root and cried out as his ankle sprained. He felt the air rushing out of his gut and for a few moments he couldn't breathe and oh god he had lost the game-
Something fell on him from above. Something had leaped down from the trees and tackled his tranquil body. He grunted at the sheer force and his vision went splotchy.
"You call that fighting?" screamed a girl. Almost certainly the one who had her knees dug into his back. He tried to move but he couldn't. He felt tears rolling down his cheeks and forming little creek beds in his cameo face paint. His sight went blurry and he squeezed his eyes shut.
"No! I'm sorry! Please, stop it, Alexandria!" he pleaded with his sister to stop. His back hurt and his throat ached from the sobbing and his eyes were red. Suddenly the weight was lifted from his back and Alexandria used her foot to roll him over. The darkness was gone and he was facing the cruel sunlight bleeding through the thick canopy.
Above him stood an angry-looking girl. Her forehead was etched with a permanent scowl and her thick lips frowned in disappointment. In him. Her face was painted in green mud. Black hair was pulled up in a ponytail that hardly left the air. Bright, gleaming eyes were startlingly bright against the green. She wore cameo pants and a pilot's jacket, painted with mud. Though she stood above him, she offered no hand to help him up.
"Why are you sorry?" she barked. "That won't get you anywhere! You heard Dad saying sorry won't save your butt!"
Her eyes hardened as he broke down into sobs. "Saying 'sorry' won't get you anywhere!" she kicked him. "Wake up and smell the coffee, James!"
"I'm-" he stopped. He paused and sniffled. "I don't like fighting!"
She laughed. "You call that fighting?" she repeated. "You were hiding! Running, like a little sniveling boy."
"I'm sorry, Alexandria!" he tried.
"There is no 'sorry' in war!" she screamed. She kicked him and tears ran afresh down his cheeks. "And my name is not Alexandria! I am Alex! Wake up, James, wake up!"
"Damn it, James! Get your ass in gear!"
James heard Sarge's voice as if through a blanket. Her voice was dull, faded, fuzzy or was it him? He couldn't tell. He blinked and saw a pale, dirty face looming before him. It was the rookie, the raw recruit. His eyes appeared bright jewels against his dirt-smeared features. The recruit patted him on the shoulder and told James something. James registered he'd been touched, he felt it he couldn't hear. On the edge of his hearing there was static, a broken radio and a undying white noise.
"I'm sorry," James said, and he heard the words in his head as he imagined to have said them, but the recruit only frowned and stared at him like he'd grown a second head. "I mean, what happened?"
But the recruit what was his name tapped his ear and looked at James questioningly. "I can't hear you!" screamed James, but the recruit wasn't hearing him. He was pressing a MA5B in his hands. James looked at it, for a moment wondering what the hell it was. The recruit patted him on the shoulder again, pulling him up from where James realized he'd been laying in his own blood. He stared at it in mute curiosity.
The recruit pulled him out of the building, a decimated building that was one of many in the city of Monastir. The recruit led him to the edge of the neighborhood, bordering the wide expanse from the dilaphedated structures to the south end of the city. The road they had to cross was spacious and too open; plasma bolts flew from the right while less frequent, more sporadic bullets sputtered from the 50mm mounted turrets on the left. The safest way to cross was to cut through the closest buildings and get behind the turrets. But the recruit didn't seem to understand that.
The recruit tugged his helmet further over his eyes; the poor sap's head was too small and the helmet too large. He held his hands before James: he pointed to Jame's chest, then pointed to the ground. Indicating himself, he held his palms upward and imitated walking. He thumbed over his shoulder.
"No, no! Don't go! Stay, it won't work, you'll get shot down!" James sputtered; his hearing was returning slowly. The recurrent sounds of battle beat a tattoo in his brain, a numb heartbeat. But the recruit mistook his meaning. Believing he was afraid, the recruit patted his shoulder and took him by the arms, moving him against the broken duracrete wall. James felt a rebar stabbing into his back.
The recruit saluted him, smiling an idiotic, stupid grin as if he knew what he was doing. James watched, helpless, as the lad waited for a lull in the fighting. Then the young man darted across the road. Unbelievably, he made it.
On the other side, he met up with the Sarge and the remains of the platoon. The recruit what was his name? pointed at James and nodded furiously. The Sarge nodded, peered around the corner of the building. She held her assault rifle professionally. Like if she needed to use it she could.
The recruit saluted her. James cursed out his name under his breath; never salute a superior officer on the hot zone. But the recruit remained ignorant he ran across the road. He was just halfway across, waving nonchalantly at James, when a magnesium-brilliant ball of glowing energy landed very close to the recruit, and the lad exploded in a cloud of red mist.
" gaped James, as he was showered in the gore. He closed his eyes and tried to ignore everything he knew about hygiene when he remembered his mouth was still open. "Oh god," he repeated.
The Sarge saw what happened. He opened his eyes in time to see her avoid a second grenade. She was closing on his position when he heard a noise all too familiar.
"Wraith!" screamed the Sarge. She made the final dash and dove for him. She grabbed the front of his fatigues and yanked him behind a pile of gravel and duracrete chunks. James followed her down the narrow alley way; at the end they hid beside a pile of fly-ridden garbage bags. Far down the alley, like at the end of a tunnel, the glowing purple behemoth slid past, not noticing the two soldiers.
James felt his eyes closing, though not of his own accord. He felt so tired. His stomach felt warm and he felt pain lancing through his gut. Looking down, he touched his stomach and his hand came away warmly. And wet.
"Crap," said Sarge, not too quietly either. She looked around, searching for a way to help James. She looked to the side. A ladder leading straight to the roof.
"Come on, James," Alexandria whispered. "We have to go."
James coughed and felt that same warmness flooding his mouth and flowing down his chin. His stomach hurt.
"I'm sorry, Alex," muttered James. "I don't feel too good."
"Don't you know anything, James?" Alex replied. "There's no 'sorry' in war."
Then a light. A light at the end of the tunnel. Except the light was a plasma grenade, thrown by a Grunt. The grenade latched onto Alexandria's fatigues, and she looked at it stupidly and started to scream.