Face of Death
Posted By: grantix<email@example.com>
Date: 27 September 2009, 2:42 am
The helmets were faceless, unemotional and very imposing. After serving five years in this elite force, I was used to it by this point. Still, I confronted the inhuman protection we wore on our heads, designed to protect us from more than just bullets. Our enemies must be filled with fear and uneasiness every time we meet. Our emotions are invisible, and all they can assume is that the black visor is a glimpse into their immediate future: death.
Everyday I stared into the deep endless black of those helmets, imagining myself the victim of our own psychological warfare. The victim of a gruesome death, carried out by the silent agents of the largest military force humans ever witnessed. On such a day as that one, my pondering wouldn't last long.
"Jacobs! We're dropping in 20! Get that gear on," the Major yelled into my room.
"Yes sir!" was my involuntary response. He was gone before I even spat it out though. After a moment, I sprung up, throwing on the urban camouflage uniform, and snapping together the metal body armor. A quick once over to make sure everything was pressure sealed, and finally that daunting helmet.
The internal communications unit in the helmet sprung to life as the HUD lit up. A system check and sync up flashed across the screen as random text scrolled along. The radio fizzled into the correct channel. Satisfied, I grabbed my assault rifle, a modified MA2B for close quarters operations.
"Our ONI spook on the ground said we have an hour window to hit Roberto Rodriguez hard," the Major's voice crackled through my helmet. "His intel says that Double-R's personal car is taking a trip from Valencia to Zaragoza. UNSC ships haven't been detected here in over two months, so he's feeling confident that he can move about Madrigal without protection. Now's the time to strike boys."
I was in the hallway, briskly walking forwards to the Human Entry Vehicle drop bay. The door slid open and I stepped in, noticing the whole squad was ready. Flanders, our sniper, Gore, the heavy weapons expert, Duncan, the medic, Chatham and I were the close quarters guys, and then there was the Major.
Duncan pulled on straps on Flanders' back, pulling the chest plate tighter. Chatham was helping Gore carry a few Jackhammer rounds into his HEV. The doors slid open again and the Major walked into the bay, carrying an MA5B as always.
"Everyone ready?" he asked from behind the visor.
"Yes sir!" we all responded.
"Alright, load up!" he commanded, stepping into his HEV.
I jumped in my own, double checking my gear.
"Gertrude's sending a map to your HUD's right now. We should land in a close knit circle around the car. I want Flanders to take out the driver. I'd prefer to keep Double-R alive, so no Jackhammers to the car. Once the diver's dead we'll pull our circle close and extract Double-R to the designated extraction point. Almost immediately a pelican should swoop down and carry us out."
I nodded to myself in approval. It sounded like a perfectly planned mission. The insurrection would feel a hard blow from this one.
Gertrude, the prowler's AI, finished uploading the map to our HUD's, and begun a countdown. "Three
"Sayonara baby!" Gore yelled.
The HEV lurched a moment before jettisoning out into space. The prowler hung overhead, black as space. I looked down, at Madrigal's surface. The G-forces were starting to increase, and the ride was getting bumpy. Fire sprouted into existence at my window and blocked my view.
"Fuck!" Chatham screamed over the comm. His siren came in over the channel. "Internal pressurization failing." The second voice was the HEV's computer. "No no no no no!" Chatham yelled. Suddenly a large explosion carried over the comm., followed by silence.
"Dammit! Who the fuck inspects these things?" the Major exclaimed.
"We're breaking through the clouds sir! Ten thousand feet," Duncan announced.
"I'm veering off course!" Gore yelled.
"What's wrong?" the Major asked.
I peered out the view port, spotting Gore's pod just a little ways from mine. "His booster's haven't fired up," I explained.
"More fucking shoddy pods?!" the Major yelled. "What's your new trajectory, son?"
"About twenty feet off course, towards the center of our circle," Gore replied.
"Alright, keep calm."
"Five hundred feet."
It was hard to keep track of who was talking.
"Drag chutes are deploying!"
The pod jumped up, my chute slowed down the descent. Then it disconnected and the pod sped up. The small town we were planned to land in was right below us. It was a shanty town in between Valencia and Zaragoza. It represented Madrigal more than either of the big cities could. It was a poor colony, originally forced to produce agricultural products. Most of its citizens lived in these small poor towns.
Just as I heard the voice my boosters roared to life, and the small buildings rose up next to me. Then we collided with the ground.
"Move move move!" the Major commanded.
The hatch on my pod flew off, crashing into the porch of a nearby house. I jumped out, aiming my rifle by instinct. That's what the missions were: pure instinct. I scanned from left to right, discovering the car, a special Earth model which must have been smuggled here. However, the car was utterly destroyed, thanks to an HEV pod which landed directly on it.
"Who was that?"
"It was Gore!"
"God damn it!"
"Move out! Extraction point, now!"
Everything was a blur. I followed orders, trying to keep my adrenaline under control, keep calm. Two squad mates were dead, and the mission was botched. Things were not looking well. I rushed to follow the remaining teammates, who were stumbling into the nearby hotel.
Suddenly gunfire erupted. It was from inside, but I was still in the dirt road, right behind Duncan.
"It's a trap!"
"Get back to a safe location."
I turned around, grabbing a strap on Duncan as I did. Rounds buried themselves into the ground around us as we sprinted across the road. I leapt into the house my pod hatch crashed into, hearing Duncan land next to me.
"Fuck!" Duncan yelled.
"You alright?" I asked.
"Yeah! Fine. Fucking trap!" he answered.
"Who's attacking us?" I asked.
The Major's heavy breathing came in over the radio. "It's
"What?!" Duncan exclaimed.
they took out
Flanders," the Major started. "It's just
"What a low ball move! Making kids fight wars," Duncan yelled, slamming his fist into the wooden floor.
. You've gotta take
" the Major explained, in between gasps.
I shook my head. "I can't do that sir."
"That's an order!"
"I will not shoot kids!" I yelled back.
demoted!" the Major roared back.
"Fuck that!" Duncan exclaimed.
The pelican's engines whined overhead. Rockets blasted through the air, and explosions tore through the walls across the street.
"Dammit!" I yelled.
Duncan and I both jumped up, running outside, waving at the pelican crew. "Stop firing! It's just a bunch of kids."
The pelican touched down, the bay doors opening up. Duncan ran in, cursing. I looked around at the immense damage the town received. My face cringed in disapproval.
"You better get aboard, Jacobs," the pilot said through the radio.
My head dropped, and my hands reached up for the helmet. I unlocked it, took it off, and dropped it to the ground. I bent down and picked up Gore's Jackhammer, which had flown out of his pod. "I can't do that."
"Why the fuck not?" the pilot called out.
I spun around staring at the ground. My faceless helmet lay at my feet, my reflection cast upon its surface. The face of humanity juxtaposed against the cold inhuman devices of a murderous military. My arms raised the rocket launcher towards the pelican. "I quit." My finger collapsed on the trigger.