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Long Time Gone Reveille Part One: Introductions and Informalities
Posted By: fallschirmjager<grylsy@hotmail.com>
Date: 4 October 2007, 3:38 am

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Long Time Gone Part One: Introductions and Informalities

January 29th, 2550, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Capital City of Kinshasa, Coalition Forward Staging Area Mike, 1230 Hours

      From a dancing swirl of red dust brought up from the loose dirt runway by a DC-88 "Pelican" drop ship, Specialist Private First Class Chris William McAllen of the Australian Defence Force appeared. McAllen stood on the rear platform of the transport, kit bag hanging from one hand, rifle in the other with only the starch beauty of Africa to greet him.
      With a reluctant step of uncertainty, Chris exited the craft; he had been the only trooper onboard the early morning flight from the supply bases to the south. A last minute replacement for a squad of experienced Coalition soldiers fighting the rebel forces in Africa's heartland.

      To Chris' left, a group of UNSC marines clad in anti-ballistic body armour and brandishing assault rifles rushed into a nearby DC-88 on the opposite landing pad in the base, obviously heading out on anti-Rebel activity Chris told himself looking around the Coalition base.

      With no welcoming party to tell him where to go or what to do, Chris swung his kit bag over his shoulder and headed for what appeared to be the mess hall in an attempt to find someone who could tell him what to do.

      Second Lieutenant Alison Marie Parker of the UNSC Marine Corps sat out in front of mess hall chatting with several other troopers when one of them made a motion to the approaching solider who was undoubtedly a rookie by the way looked around the base; trying to absorb as much as he could about its design.
      "Fresh meat," breathed a veteran marine with a smirk, "I'll give him a week before he's dead on the side of the road outside of Kinshasa like the last rookie we had."
      "Would be a shame," said a female marine looking closely at the approaching marine, "he's kind of cute."
      "Indeed," agreed Alison also with a smirk as she noted the man's medium build, appealing looks and blue eyes topped off with a mess of loosely kept sandy brown hair.

[Indent The soldier stopped several metres away from their group and dropped his kit bag as he stiffened to a salute upon noticing Alison's rank. Alison roughly returned the salute out of courtesy and leaned forward on her chair to listen what the man had to say.
      "Excuse me, Lieutenant..." Alison watched the man's eyes dart to her name tag above her left breast where they remained for just a second too long, "...Parker, I just got here on the last bird but I'm not sure where I'm supposed to go."
      "What unit are you in?" Queried Alison looking up at the soldier where she noted the strange uniform that he wore displaying the Australian flag on the right sleeve.

      Chris couldn't help but stare at the young Lieutenant seated in front of him. She was beautiful; her blue eyes denoted a serious nature as well a high level of intelligence, her auburn hair was tied neatly back in a cute tony tail and despite the loose nature of her fatigues, Chris could tell she possessed a pleasant physique.
      "Trooper," a voice brought him back to his senses, it was the Lieutenant, "what unit are you in?"
      "Uh..." Chris struggled to think of the name that had been printed on his orders. "I was ordered to report as a replacement for a Captain T. Foster's platoon... I think... ma'am."

      "Well you're in luck," said Alison, "I'm the second in command of Foster's platoon. I guess you're McAllen if you're the new guy, right?"
      "Yes si... ma'am, I'm PFC McAllen, reporting for duty." Chris stiffened for another salute.
      "Alright, alright, cut the formalities!" Joked Alison with a smile, "I'd suggest you go and drop you gear off at section three barracks and check your gear in over at master storage."

      "Thanks," said Chris offering a less formal salute this time and turning on his heel towards the barracks.
      "Hey!" Cried a voice behind him, Chris turned, it had been the Lieutenant, "nice to meet you by the way, I'm Lieutenant Parker. I'll see you around the base sometime, show you around the place if you want?"
      "Nice to meet you too, ma'am, and I'd like that very much," replied Chris with a smile as he turned and continued off towards the barracks with an extra spring in his step.

      "What was that all about?" Joked the female marine sitting next to Alison with a look of amusement on her face as the soldier walked away.
      "What was what all about?" Replied Alison not understanding what the marine meant.
      "Oh come on! You like him, don't you?"
      "Be reasonable!" Said Alison with a laugh, "he's cute, that's all, and needs someone to show him around the place. Besides, Jeremy is probably right, he'll be dead in a week..."

January 29th, 2550, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Capital City of Kinshasa, Coalition Forward Staging Area Mike, Master Storage, 1305 Hours

      Having dropped off his kit at the barracks and attempted to acquaint himself with other occupants of the barracks despite their obvious dislike of new recruits, Chris had turned towards Master Storage with rifle in hand and with his handgun in its holster.
      "Greetings, trooper," said the acting Quartermaster in a noticeable South African accent as Chris entered the building. Chris looked the man up and down; he was a young private with inquisitive brown eyes, dark hair and mildly attractive looks.
      "G'day," said Chris with a smile walking up to the counter and laying his rifle down, "a Lieutenant Parker suggested I check my gear in?"

      "Parker, eh?" Said the Quartermaster with a sly smile, "see anything you like?"
      "Can't say, I only just met her. She seemed a nice enough woman," said Chris noticing the gaze the Quartermaster had directed at Chris as he spoke, Chris pushed his rifle forward to avoid the issue of Lieutenant Parker.
      The Quartermaster eyed the rifle with a puzzled look, "what's that? I've never seen that issue before."
       "It's a newly issued SR-120 SOPMOD Carbine for Specialists in the Aussie Defence Force," said Chris looking at the rifle on the counter, "just picked it up before I shipped out. Not much to say really except it's fed from standard issue MA5B magazines for OSP."
      "Smart move," remarked the Quartermaster, "nearly the whole galaxy uses the '5B!"
      Chris laughed, "too right, mate, too right."

      "Anyway," continued Chris after an awkward pause between them, "what do I need to check in?"
      "Well I only need to get the serial and model number down so we can keep track of repairs, loss or damage to the units."
      "What about this?" Asked Chris removing his pistol from the holster, the Quartermaster had seen nearly every weapon in regular usage with the UNSC but he hadn't seen one of those pistols before.
      "Once again I have to ask, what's that?"
      "It's a Heckler und Koch Forty-Five," he replied laying it down on the counter for the Quartermaster to examine. Turning it over in his hands the Quartermaster noted its construction, particularly the primitive use of polymer for the fame and a heavy blued steel slide.
      "God this thing belongs in a museum to be completely honest, man," stated the Quartermaster handing it back, "Twentieth Century?"
      "Twenty First," replied Chris with a grunt as he holstered the pistol once more, "wait, do you need to record this?"
      "Don't bother," said the Quartermaster with a wave of his hand, "it's obviously not military issue and I doubt the UNSC could care less about what happened to it."
      "Yeah, I guess so," said Chris lowering his head in thought in whether to divulge some family history to a complete stranger. "It was a gift from my father when I joined up, from father to son, since the early two thousands I think. Well looked after."
      "It sure is," said the Quartermaster nodding, "must be worth a lot on the collector's market, it looks like it still has the original finish and what of the original parts?"
      "The finish is good but it's hardly got any original parts on the inside left, whenever my relative brought it he got a fair few spare barrels and parts, I've still got two spare barrels and one set of full internals left. Sadly with only that left, I don't think I could pass it on to my children if they joined the military."

      "Given the current situation, I think kids should be the last thing on your mind!" Said the Quartermaster with a troubled laugh, "if the real war starts spiralling out of control anymore, I doubt there will ever be another generation of humanity."
      Chris didn't say anything at first, only slowly nodding his head, "yeah, from the news things are looking pretty grim for us."
      "Yet here we are. We'd be a lot better off without all these rebellions popping up." Chris noticed the anger in the man's voice as he spoke. "Believe me there are some civil wars on the outer planets that make this lousy excuse of a rebellion look like a picnic."
      "Yep, we're getting fucked all over," said Chris now shaking his head in disgust, "you think with the prospect of annihilation looming, humanity would finally have learnt to stick together but no. Hostilities are as rife as ever."
      "Sadly that's what makes us human," said the Quartermaster solemnly, it was apparent to Chris the quartermaster had ill feelings towards rebel forces but why was yet to be known.

      "Anyway I bet you've got something more interesting today then here me babble," said the Quartermaster recording the serial number of the rifle, "by the way if you just shipped in, what unit are you in?"
      "Foster's platoon," replied Chris.
      "Hey, same as me!" Said the Quartermaster extending a hand, "I can see we'll be seeing a lot of each other then, let me introduce myself, I'm Michael Chambers."
      "Nice to meet you, Michael," said Chris shaking his hand, "I'm Chris McAllen."
      "Please, call me Chambers, everyone else does and it's nice to meet you too, McAllen."

[B January 29th, 2550, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Capital City of Kinshasa, Coalition Forward Staging Area Mike, Enlisted Mess, 1920 Hours

      Despite the increased rebel activity around Kinshasa, there was no news about patrols for Foster's platoon that night; Chambers invited Chris to the Mess Hall to get further acquainted with one another.
      "So you were born here?" Chris questioned judging from Chambers' accent, "in Africa, in the Congo?"
      "Well not here," said Chambers nursing a beer, "I was born in Botswana, it's further south. My father was the head miner of an iron ore mine there."
      "Was?" Queried Chris as he noted Chambers' grave tone.
      "He died eight weeks ago," breathed Chambers in a flat voice.
      "Oh, sorry, mate," said Chris, "I had no idea."
      "Neither did my mother," spat Chambers, "no one did until it was too late and my hometown was attacked by rebels."
      "Why would they attack civilians?" Said Chris puzzled, "I mean, aren't they trying to win the hearts and minds of the people just as much as us?"

      "True but when UNSC forces made a sweep of the area several days prior, they passed through the town. I heard one of the younger children of the town ran up to the UNSC soldiers and told them about 'bad men with guns' who came the previous day and scared him and hurt his parents.
      "When asked which direction they headed, the child gave pretty much an exact location of a nearby rebel safe house which was quickly taken out." Chambers made the motion of an explosion with his hands and snorted what almost appeared to be laughter.
      "Rebels from another group came in later that night and killed lot of people. Men, women and children; however my mother and brother had been spared by some twist of fate. Although the killings served as a message to anyone else to not even think about betraying them for the consequences would be dire."

      "That's horrible," remarked Chris, "how can you kill women and children let alone unarmed civilians?"
      Chambers didn't say anything at first, "they're not human, those rebels, they're monsters. Rabid dogs even, and there is only one way to deal with a rabid dog; one between the eyes."
      "So you were obviously in the UNSC before that happened, right?" Asked Chris.
      "Yep, two years next July."
      "How long have you been here?" Asked Chris.
      "I shipped in with Lieutenant Parker little over a year ago."
      "You've been here that long?"
      "Well the longer you stay, the shorter the days seem to travel," remarked Chambers pouring another beer from the pitcher and offered to refill Chris' glass but he declined.
      "How well do you get on with the Lieutenant?" Chris asked fishing for information.
      "We're not like that," scoffed Chambers, "we're just friends. But don't worry, I've tried," Chambers laughed to himself, "man that ended in flames!"
      "Ice Queen, huh?" Joked Chris.
      "Oh yeah," said Chambers holding a finger up on his hand as a warning, "she's not to be messed with!"

      "Enough politics," said Chris still laughing, "what role are you in the squad?"
      "CQC," smirked Chambers.
      "CQC? As in a shotgun?"
      "Yep, things can get pretty messy though," commented Chambers with a chuckle.
      "I can imagine," replied Chris, the image of a corpse shredded in places left over from a shotgun blast clouded his thoughts.
      "What about you?" Asked Chambers, "why are you here?"
      "Like I said before, father to son. Very strong military tradition in my family," Chris said nodding to himself as the memories of his father's aspirations being pushed upon him.
      "Anything noteworthy in your family's military history?"
      "My uncle died at Harvest," replied Chris grimly, "one of the first to die I might add but that ain't exactly something you'd win a medal for."
      "What about your father?"
      "Seems we have a lot in common," said Chambers lightly trying to cheer Chris up, "what about the rest of your family?"
      "They're dead too," said Chris losing his voice momentarily, "my mother, two brothers and a younger sister, all dead."
      "Jesus, man," breathed Chambers, "your entire family is dead? What the hell, I only lost my father, but to lose everyone dear to you?"
      "Happened a while ago now on the outer colonies," Chris rolled his eyes in thought and faked the motion of rubbing his eyes to conceal the tears forming, "some bloody holiday planet that was attacked and glassed by the Covenant, I forget which. I had an invitation to come along on that family holiday but I had joined the ADF three weeks prior and was still in the midst of boot so I couldn't go anyway. It was another three weeks when the reports of the attack reached Earth."

      "Well it's lucky you didn't go or you would be dead too. Call it fate?"
      "Nah, I don't believe in that crap," said Chris, "a strong man makes his own future."
      "Well I do so I'm going to call it fate, friend," said Chambers with a smile, "there was a reason why you enlisted when you did and why you survived whilst the rest of your family perished."
      "What am I going to save the universe?" Laughed Chris, "it's just luck. Now that's something I believe in but luck can't last."
      "Perhaps," said Chambers, "but why are you here and not fighting the Covenant."
      "The Covenant aren't a happy subject for me," said Chris in a low voice, "besides, I didn't want to head to the front as a rookie. My CO said I should volunteer for the Coalition effort in Africa for some easy points and maybe climb the ladder a little before the real deal."
      "I see," said Chambers, "well what did you do in the ADF?"
      "Well, I trained as a sniper right out of boot then was offered slot in the Commandos. Where I completed the extra training and achieved my rank of Specialist, Private First Class."
      "That's why you got the SOPMOD, right?" Asked Chambers.
      "Exactly," said Chris, "I only completed my training two months ago where I was stuck in a unit that acted as OpFor at a training base at Wagga Wagga."
      "Opposing Force, we acted as the 'bad guys' for the troops in training."
      "So you're really not the rookie everyone seems to think, are you?"
      "Well," started Chris, "I'm not exactly a rookie in general terms of a soldier straight out of boot but I have no real combat experience. Everything outside of training and OpFor exercises has been Virtual; lots and lots of virtual training. What about you? Any combat experience?"
      "Well I've killed a few people, let's just leave it at that," replied Chambers trying not to think of the lives he had taken.

      "Any for avenging your father's death?" Chris asked and Chambers nodded slowly.
      "It's just..." stammered Chambers, "some people just need killing you know? And no one needs it more than those rebels for what they did to my father and my village."
      "Hey, I understand," said Chris with a chuckle now trying to lighten the situation, "you're talking to the guy who has an uncle, a mother, a father, two brothers and a sister to avenge."
       Chambers returned the laugh, "yeah, compared to you, I've got it pretty easy, man."
      "That's the spirit!" Said Chris patting Chambers on the back then checking his watch, "alright it's about twenty to eight, I think I'll go for a walk before going to bed."
      "Bed?" Questioned Chambers, "lights out isn't for at least another two hours."
      "I know, I'm just feeling a little tired, I'll see you back at the barracks." With that Chris left the mess hall, passing Lieutenant Parker on the way out with a courteous nod.

      "Hey Mike," said Alison seeing Chambers sitting alone at a table, "you all alone?"
      "No, no," said Chambers, "I was just talking to the new guy in the platoon; just shipped in today."
      "McAllen?" Asked Alison genuinely.
      "Yep, that's him, Specialist Chris McAllen of the ADF," said Chambers smiling at his old friend.
      "Specialist?" Said Alison with a look of confusion, "but he's a rookie?"
      "He's Special Forces," replied Chambers.
      "So that what was classified about his file," stated Alison.
      "There were sections of his file that only the Captain could read. Everything past leaving basic had been painted over all up until a week ago where he volunteered for service here."
      "Well he's got something to prove volunteering here just for the experience. I would advise you to avoid pissing him off as he could have a bit of an anger issue. Not positive though, just something I felt talking to him."
      "Hah, men and anger, you're all the same!" Remarked Alison motioning to leave.
      "You two have one thing in common though I must say," replied Chambers sheepishly.
      "And what would that be?" Questioned Alison but Chambers only responded by shaking his head with a smile. "Whatever, I'll see you in the morning, Mike. Captain wants everyone prepped by oh-nine-thirty, full load out, food and water for three days, ammunition for six, the usual deal."
      "Roger, I'll let anyone I see, know what's going on."

January 30th, 2550, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Capital City of Kinshasa, Coalition Forward Staging Area Mike, 0920 Hours

      Chris was feeling nervous but also eager for combat and was the first of Captain Foster's platoon at the landing pads. Fully equipped with enough food and ammunition for two people for three days, Chris wanted to make sure he was prepared for the worst.
      The 'worst' also included combat, besides the extra ammunition for his rifle and handgun Chris also carried a double load of eight fragmentation grenades and two directional anti-personnel mines and to top it off he was wearing full body armour including a full HUD system contained in a set of wraparound glasses.
      Chris had a white marker and was carefully scribing his blood type 'O+' onto each of his shoulder plates as his drill instructor insisted he do in case his IFF implant failed and he was injured.
      "You're here early," Chris spun surprised as if caught in the middle of committing a crime but was relieved to see a man in UNSC olive drab marine fatigues complete with Captain rank bars on his shoulders and helmet.
      "Captain Foster?" Questioned Chris as he raised an arm to salute his superior who promptly responded in kind.
      "Correct," answered Foster looking at the soldier in front of him, "I guess from the uniform you must be the new Special Forces trooper, McLean?"
      "That would be McAllen, sir," said Chris adjusting his rifle sling to expose his name tag on the front of his vest.
      "Oh sorry, how stupid of me," said Foster looking at Chris' armour, "blood type on your armour, eh? That's bad luck, you know that, right?"
      "No it will really be bad luck if they have to read this for my blood type," replied Chris looking down at the dog tag wedged between the tongue of his combat boot and laces.
       "True," said Foster smiling, "well it looks like you don't fuck around. Got enough food and ammo for the patrol?"
      "I brought twice the recommended amount, sir."
      "Well I wouldn't have suggested it but I'm not the one carrying your pack." Foster looked over his shoulder and saw the rest of the platoon rousing, "good, it's time we got this show on the road."

January 30th, 2550, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Capital City of Kinshasa, Coalition Forward Staging Area Mike, 0940 Hours

      Captain Foster's platoon waited patiently at the landing pads for their transports to arrive but they were running late due to shortages of drop ships in the area as of an over stretched supply line. Chris found himself pushed towards the rear of the group, feeling the like the loner with his lack of combat experience and vastly different uniform; coloured a light yellow-brown with selections of darker browns and dashes of white compared to the regular UNSCMC olive grab fatigues.
      "Can you hold my rifle?" Asked a feminine voice behind Chris, he turned and recoiled in surprise at the walking shrubbery in front of him. It was a sniper in a full ghillie suit; a suit that is worn over regular fatigues and armour as a means of breaking up a sniper's outline and enabling them to blend in with the surroundings.
      "Lieutenant Parker?" Asked Chris staring into familiar eyes left exposed from the ghillie suit hood.
      "Yeah that's me," responded Parker removing the hood, "could you hold my rifle? I forgot something from the armoury."
      "Sure," said Chris taking Parker's sniper rifle, "I had no idea you were a sniper."
      "I had no idea that you were a Specialist until Chambers told me," countered Parker, "and don't say I never asked."
      "Well you didn't," said Chris with a smile to which Parker laughed as she ran for the armoury. Chris let his eyes drift and watched the rhythm of her movement as she ran back towards the armoury. Shaking his head to regain his thoughts; Chris finally looked at Parker's rifle.

      At first glance it appeared to be a regular S2 AM because of its familiar components but it was much shorter and Chris soon saw why. The weapon had been modified into a 'bull-pup' configuration with the magazine located behind the trigger to maximize barrel length whilst lightening the weapon and reducing overall length.
      "Very nice," commented Chris examining the customized rifle and then remembered the ID chip implanted in most UNSC weapons, with a tap of several buttons on his HUD keyboard attached to his left forearm, Chris soon saw what the chip contained: 'S2 AM S issued to Lieutenant Alison Marie Parker, UNSCMC'. "Alison..." murmured Chris to himself, "so that's your name is it now?"
      Curious as of how the rifle felt, Chris brought the rifle up to his shoulder and looked down the scope. Upon a close examination of the non-HUD linked optic scope he noticed one of the mounts had a screw that was somewhat loose and allowed the scope a fraction of movement in the mounts. Chris removed a kit from his pack that contained the tools of a sniper for adjusting scopes that he carried for the sights of his assault rifle; from which he used an Alan key to fasten the mount in place.
      Then to make sure the rifle was still sighted in, he also removed a sighting laser and placed it down the barrel of the rifle and tested the setting at two hundred metres on a distant building. The sight was off by several millimetres at the eye piece even on such a low magnification that if it was to be left uncorrected, it could be off as much as a foot at the target at longer ranges.
      "I hope she doesn't get mad," remarked Chris with a nervous glance about himself as he removed the protective adjustment cap to gain access to the adjustment dials were located and sighted the rifle back in.

      Alison returned from the armoury with a box of ammunition under her arm. "Don't tell me you forgot the ammunition?" Chris asked trying not to laugh as he replaced the adjustment cap back onto the scope without Alison noticing.
      "No, I just thought I'd bring another box," said Alison taking her rifle back from Chris, "there were reports of heavy rebel activity in the region surrounding our drop point."
      "Sure you've got enough?" Asked Chris, a standard box of UNSC fourteen point five millimetre APFSDS rounds only contained twelve bullets.
      Alison smiled and unzipped her ghillie suit front exposing her webbing; there were four pouches containing two extra magazines each and at least another box worth of loose bullets contained in a large pouch in her webbing. "It's better to be safe than sorry," remarked Alison zipping her ghillie suit back up.
      "I hear that," said Chris patting a satchel slung over his shoulder that contained an extra eight MA5B magazines.
      "Going to start a war?" Joked Alison with a smile.
      "No but I'm looking to finish one!" Chris replied with equal humour as he noticed a low droning sound in the distance. "Sounds like our rides." Chris put the Alan key and laser back into his sighting kit and was just about to place the kit back in his pack when Alison noticed what he was doing.
      "What's that?" Questioned Alison noting Chris' look of alarm at her noticing the kit.
      "I saw the scope was off on your rifle," said Chris warily, "so I took the liberty of sighting it back in for two hundred metres, UNSC standard I was going to tell..."
      "Y... you..." stammered Alison, lost for words, "...did what!?"
      "The scope was off..." Remarked Chris innocently.
      "You tampered with my rifle," started Alison, her voice still calm but Chris could tell her patience had been tested beyond breaking point. "What gives you the right to touch my gear? No, no, to change the settings of my gear? Fair enough if it was someone who knew what they were doing but you!? A damn rookie! What do you know about sighting in a rifle!?"
      "Hey you gave it to me, I was just trying to help," replied Chris holding his hands up as a sign of peace whilst inside he tried to refrain from becoming angry himself.
      "You wanted to help?" Said Alison, "I'll say this once and once only, never touch my gear again..." Alison narrowed her eyes squarely at Chris, "...or I'll kill you." With that Alison left Chris lost for words as she walked over and stood with Captain Foster on the landing pad.

      Chris' hearing had not failed him and as expected, a trio of 'Pelican' drop ships approached from the south-east. The drop ships began their decent with an unrelenting gale kicked up by each of the drop ships' four VTOL engines.
      "Alright, troops," called Foster above the din, "first squad with Sergeant Bernard in that drop ship, second squad with me and third squad with Lieutenant Parker to the remaining drop ship!" In a well organized manner the troops rushed to their drop ships, all par one.
      "What squad am I in?" Piped Chris feeling the sense of embarrassment coupled with panic as the men and women around him rushed into their respective drop ships, "which squad am I in!?"
      "Over here!" Cried Chambers from the third squad drop ship, "you're with me, come on!"
      Chris rushed into the drop ship, ignoring Alison and gave a polite nod to the waiting pilot who immediately begun the takeoff procedure as Chris took a seat next to Chambers. "You know, friend, you could have at least stood with me so I knew what the fuck was going on."
      "No worries," Chambers said amused, "what are friends for?" Chris just shook his head in frustration as the drop ship lurched in mid air as the engines rotated from their six o'clock position, to their three o'clock position and they were away.