Derailed Part 8
Posted By: Dispraiser<email@example.com>
Date: 12 October 2003, 4:04 AM
The truck, albeit more sluggish than the usual Warthog, still raced forward with zeal. The civilians in the back hung onto the Warthog, riding on the tops, sides and inside the trailers, stacked, literally, upon eachother. Amongst the chaos I thought one had fallen off, but I didn't know well enough to declare it a fact. I sighed in an attempt to alleviate the pain of my command, but could do nothing to destroy such a foe. At least 300 civilians had died since I began to lead them, and I had lost at least half of my team to death or injuries. This operation was turning into a massacre faster than I had expected. Originally we had a golden plan, to get on the train, grab the nukes, and then get off the train as fast as we could, and ride the Pelican straight to Awwek. However, since the operation began it seemed that everything that could go wrong would. As the leader of the ODST squad it was my job to had realized that simple fact, and to have accounted for it long before the plan had begun.
"So, I never did ask you," Martes began, "what's your name?"
"Ciriaco Kazimierz." I replied, half attentive.
"Oh. Got a nickname?"
"Well, Kaz and Jake." My thoughts still lie elsewhere, but I replied to Martes. At least it took some of my mind off the pain of defeat.
"I like Kaz, can I call you Kaz?"
"Aright. So, got anyone to fight for back home?"
"A girlfriend and a planet. You?" This question grew like a cancer in my mind. My planet was dying, and my girlfriend undoubtedly dead.
"Same as you. I've got a beautiful place out in the deserts. I've got a little ranch out there."
"I live in Awwek on a military base. It's hardly a home. I generally live half my time on the ODST station in orbit, but it was being refit for polar drops, so I got shipped to Awwek."
"Sounds like being an ODST isn't just hard on the battlefield, but also off... Sorry, if it makes any difference."
"I've learned to deal with it. I was raised to fight the Matheans, and changing that from them to the Covenant was easy enough."
"Ah. I was born in the tiny little area of Lunar 4 that wasn't so racially biased, so I never really hated the Matheans. They never did anything to me."
"They killed everyone I knew and shot me. I hated them. They did everything to me."
"Didn't mean to, sir." Martes replied, confused, but hiding his bewilderment very well.
"It's okay." I replied, "I've just got a lot to think out. I've got a lot of stress right now."
"Alright. I'll let you think." There was a minute of silence with nothing but the Warthog's engine obscuring perfect tranquility before Martes reached for the radio. He turned it on, flipping from channel to channel, finding that nothing was on any. Clearly they had all been destroyed in the invasion, that or the hosts didn't feel like spending the last hours of their lives talking and playing music. Hindered but not halted Martes continued to pull a small datacube from his pocket and slide it into the Warthog's battered player. The smooth music began sliding from the speakers, though it did little to sooth my pain, until I recognized the words. Soon my foot began tapping, and I doubted I could stop.
"Heard this song I see. It's great!" Martes said.
"Yeah, one of my favorites. We used to sing it between missions and Karaoke at the bars. Better with the music video though."
"One step ahead of ya, Kaz." Martes replied, pressing a button on the Warthog. A tiny hologram, greyscale, granted, began projecting the vivid visuals of the music video. Somehow this tiny gesture delved into the depths of my soul, stirring up emotions of happiness. I remembered times when I didn't fight every day, and I smiled. Martes took notice, but showed no reaction. I could tell Martes was a friend. Quietly I mouthed the words of the song, but it was only a few minutes before there were at least eight of us singing along. I smiled knowing that this was the best my life would get over the next few days. Despite the stress of the situation it was enough to relieve the stress of command. Another red bolt arched into the distant stellar realm. I smiled. Hope.
The next morning no one was singing. The music had died, and the enemy had shown itself. A half dozen minutes ago a Banshee, alone and damaged, flew overhead. No one dared to fire or make noise, and the Warthog was brought to a silent stop. As the sputtering beast skipped overhead everyone simply cowered in fear, knowing that we wouldn't be able to fight a Covenant attack party. While stopped we had determined it a good time to get out of the Warthog, and to begin to teach some of the civilians about how to use weapons. The first in the list, the Mathean Kraftods. First, I demonstrated how to open a magazine of ammo, and that the Kraftod clips must be handled with extra caution, because of their inherent delicacy. I explained how to reload, cock and change the rate of fire on the rifles, and then what it did. They were very quiet as I showed them the scars.
"This, is what a Kraftod did to me. When I was struck by one of its bullets two of the blades were lodged in my right lung, one ripped out my neck, and two from my hip. Why it did this? Because the Matheans are mean. They made this bullet so it was shaped like an elongated thumbtack with a bulbous end, hollow. Five blades were put on the pin, like little saw blades. When it is fired part of the gunpowder blast is used to spin the blades, creating a gyroscopic stabilization making it very accurate. The bullet moves at around half the speed of a normal target, and less than half as far as a normal assault rifle bullet. When it hits you, however, the initial pin of it is shattered, causing great pain. The five blades are no longer held in place, so they begin to tear you apart from the inside out. They are too small to snap a rib and make it out your side, and too slow to snap your spine or give you an exit wound. Instead, they just bounce around. So, when firing this weapon, be careful not to shoot your friends. Keep track of where they are, or they will have a few new airholes."
There was an understanding silence.
"Now, the primarily difference between this rifle and the MGS-90 is that the MGS is able to reach out and touch something much, much further away. This rifle uses standard caliber bullets, and fires them very, very fast. It is similar to the common sniping rifle used on Earth, but it is slightly less accurate and has a 30 round clip. The scope is a two times zoom optical though. This is not a long range rifle. Again, reloading is similar to the Kraftod, but you can use less caution." I gestured to a small lever on the side, "Switch controls rate of fire. Auto, three round burst, semi automatic."
Again, a silence was my only reply as 52 sets of eyes peered towards me. I grabbed the rocket launcher. I was never much of a orator, but it seemed as if it was easy to present the rifles that I had spent my life working with. "And this, the final weapon I'll be explaining, is the rocket launcher. It is called the Verwustung by the Matheans which literally means havoc. It fires a canister of explosives with almost no recoil, four round magazines. When it hits, it explodes and fragments into slow burning smoke grenades, which are scattered by the normal explosion from the missile. This creates havoc and death. Now, this shouldn't be something I have to tell you, but do not stand in front of or behind the person using this. The backblast will burn you. Also, you are all undertrained and will be too fast to fire at anything coming out of the smoke cloud, so I want you all to stay away from the smoke so you don't get shot by your friends on the way out. Understood?" It seemed as if a few people were daydreaming, but most grunted a low pitched yes. I knew that the daydreaming ones would wish that they had paid attention when three blades began to emerge from their body...
"Alright, everyone grab a rifle, it's time to fire a few practice shots. You only get six if you have a nonscoped weapon. If you've got a scope just practice reloading."
The next hour passed as a blur, memories of my own training repressing anything I might have learned from teaching them. Soon we had loaded back into the vehicles, and had driven for an hour with no music to dull the pain. However I realized something about Lunar 4. It was a unique planet, unlike the others. Nearly 250 years ago when the first war was waged on the planet something changed among us. Every penny our governments ever earned was poured into buying weapons and new technology to make killing an art. It has been speculated that the general issue rifles for both the East and West are around a half decade more advanced than the ones the UNSC uses. Such weapons development created two distinct lines of weapons. The West, full of jungles, was ideal for close range combat, creating a breed of high power weapons like the Kraftod, which is less accurate but more powerful. The East was largely desert terrain, so it created long range weapons like sniping rifles and long range assault rifles. Our tanks were far more sophisticated than the UNSC ones, and more numerous. We never traded with the UNSC in fear that they would give up our technology to the West. Even the least of our rifles was as powerful as the UNSC's finest. Perhaps Lunar 4 would survive the Covenant onslaught? Most normal planetary invasions last hours, but already this one has taken nearly a day. Our most powerful cities still stood, unwavering, and we had destroyed probably a dozen Covenant cruisers. It was odd really, but perhaps hundreds of years of senseless warfare and genocide had spawned what would save billions. I sat in the passenger seat of the Warthog pondering the concept. Humans winning.