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Long Time Gone Part 37
Posted By: grylsy<grylsy@hotmail.com>
Date: 10 February 2005, 6:36 AM

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Long Time Gone Part 37: Taking Out The Trash

August 14th, 2551, Space, Undisclosed Location, Aboard Pirate Vessel 'Geiger', Cargo Hold, 1348 Hours

       Henderson hit the deck immediately; a bullet had just missed his head.

"Fuck this!" He screamed over the comms; barely audible over the deafening gunfire echoing around the Cargo Hold.

       Chris noticed Henderson's plummet from behind the forklift he was using as cover. "Get the hell back up, Henderson! You wanted to go, so move!" Henderson laid there for a moment; then he pushed off the floor and stood straight up but went back down to a crouch when another near miss flew over head.

"I'm going, I'm going..." Henderson started his sprint again with renewed vigour.

       Chris hammered down on his machine gun's trigger; a steady vibration assaulted his shoulder. Chris just changed his firing vector every thirty or so bullets - so his weapon suppressed the enemy effectively.

       Henderson had a little less than three metres to run to the ladder, he had been on the opposite side of the door and had to break cover to reach the same side as Alison - who was next to the access ladder.

       Henderson dived the last little bit and slid across the plated floor. He skidded to an abrupt stop when Alison grabbed his webbing when he had over shot her by a good half of a metre.

       Henderson got up slowly. "Thanks," he said brushing off his front, a thick layer of dust and grime now covered him. Henderson looked up at the ladder.

"It didn't look this big from over there," Henderson turned to Chris across the floor, "sure you don't wanna just swap suits?"

"Get going already," cried Chris reloading his weapon, "don't make me come over there!"

"Roger, sir," said Henderson taking a grip on the ladder, "one small step for man, one giant leap for man kind?" He joked taking a step onto the first rung of the ladder.

       Alison turned and gave him a smack on the rear, "move it!"

       Henderson wasn't usually the one to joke but being counted on must have brought out his funny side, which no one else thought was funny...

       The Pirates' rate of fire slackened under the withering hail of fire coming from the experienced Orbital Drop Shock Troopers.

       Despite all of the firing going on, barely anyone had been hit on either side; several ODSTs - including Chris and Alison - had been hit but their suits' integrity held.

       Henderson scurried up the ladder, two rungs at a time, powering as fast as he could - under heavy fire from the Pirates.

       Henderson was half way up the ladder when it happened. A sharp burning sensation ripped its way into his right shoulder - leaving a rugged, gapping hole through it.

       Henderson swore loudly. "Fuck! I'm hit again, bad this time." Chris didn't take notice; he was busy trying to prevent further incidents for Henderson.

       Alison saw his difficulties; she turned and yelled up to him despite using her comms equipment. "Just keep going Henderson, you're half way there, don't give up, we're depending on you..."

       That's right isn't it? I die, we all die? Or will someone else have to try and do this...

       Henderson kept going; his newly wounded shoulder made him have to take the rungs one at a time, slowing him down considerably. Bullets zipped, pinged and bit at his limbs.

       Bright bullet impact sparks filled his vision and combined with the steady stream of blood pouring out of his shoulder, Henderson swore he was starting to see things...

       Henderson gripped each rung as if it were his last, knuckles turning white inside his suit's gloves and heaving desperately trying to stay focussed.

"I don't think he's gonna make it," said Chambers - firing hard - to Elliot who was next to him.

"Just keep shooting, Chambers and he'll make it, alright?" Elliot bit down hard as he fired, trying stay as focussed as Henderson, "don't die on me, buddy."

       Chris snapped a look at Henderson, he was almost at the top, the ladder and the wall around it was littered with hundreds of inward facing dimples from bullet impacts - the wall was showing a resemblance to the ducks at the shooting galleries.
       Henderson himself was in a bad way, his uniform's back was covered in blood and a large pool of blood had formed at the base of the ladder - being slowly filled by the waterfall which was the wound in Henderson's shoulder.

       Henderson reached the ledge and like a rock climber did what they did when they reached the top of the wall.

"Fuck, yeah!" Henderson exclaimed smacking down on the cat walk that led to the 'Sky Box' and the controls to the air lock.

       His accomplishment was short lived as another bullet found its mark, sending Henderson into the wall side of the cat walk - a hideous red splash covered a good metre square on the wall. This time he had been hit in the throat...

       Henderson tried to scream but all he could do was gurgle, blood filled his throat, his vision begun to get fuzzy, he was on the very edge of consciousness.

       Henderson tried to take a step but his leg buckled, feeling like it was made of lead. He fell down unto the mesh material which was the floor of the cat walk.
       Henderson looked in front of himself, he had blood speckles on the inside of his visor and he could feel the nauseating feeling of warm liquid swishing around in his helmet - his own blood...

       The 'Sky Box' was only a stone's throw away.

       Why me? Why did I volunteer? Because if you hadn't McAllen would have blown the locks and you would have died of decompression, fuck head... But why this? God I just want to die...

       "Go, Henderson!" Cried a voice, Henderson tilted his head downwards with a great effort and saw some of the team cheering him on, Chris included, "come on, man!" It was Elliot talking, "show these mother fuckers who they're dealing with!"
       The words started take affect on Henderson, "we ain't no ordinary Marine fuckers, we're ODSTs! ONI, ODSTs! The best of the best, go hard, son!"

       Henderson raised a knee, and sat up; a bullet pinged close to his head. Henderson - feeling almost suicidal do too his wounds - whipped out his holstered sub machine gun and emptied the contents of its magazine across the vast cargo hold - pushing the weapon's short range beyond extremes..

       Because he was up higher than most, his bullets rained quick and nimble death upon the Pirates unlucky enough to be seen by the hallucinating Henderson.

       The weapon ticked dry and Henderson discarded it with a weak grunt. His throat was on fire, every breath was a battle of its own.

       Henderson fell back down onto the mesh and kicked and clawed his way towards the door to the 'Sky Box'. It was only thirty feet away but it might as well have been one thousand, it would seem like forever for Henderson.

       Chris reloaded his K50A1, discarding the drum with an unusual amount of frustration - he then removed a grenade from his webbing and threw it as far as he could; it exploded with a mighty explosion and sent several Pirates to the wild blue yonder.

       Alison however, kept her anger under control but only enough so she was thinking straight when she shot her sniper rifle. Mighty retorts had been sounding through the entire endeavour; Jeebs had reluctantly given Alison his ammunition when she had used all of hers.

       Chambers was truly enjoying himself. Not bothered by the massive amounts of lead flying over head as he emptied another magazine from his BR-55. He reached for another... But he found he that had been his last.

"Whoa, how the fuck did I go through eighteen clips already?" He asked no one in particular as he swapped it for his shotgun.
       As the buck shot would be good as throwing pebbles at the Pirates at this range he switched to the blue, poly core slugs.
       Chambers mumbled as he loaded the shells. "Mother fucking, lame ass bastards, I'll fuck you all up, just wait 'til I'm locked and loaded!"

       With in a millisecond of Chambers using his thumb to push the last light blue shell with a bright brass base that would fit into the shotgun, he did the action and brought the weapon up to his shoulder.
       Chambers had the classic 'V' aiming device with a Pirate in the centre - their HUDs do not support shotguns due to the buck shot accuracy, which is why Chambers was using the sights.

       With a squeeze of the trigger, Chambers felt the mighty retort of the shotgun going off unto his shoulder. The solid, poly core, tungsten coated, armour piercing slug sped towards its victim at an impressive 2,423 feet per second.
      Upon impact the initial wound was a hole the size of the projectile appeared - roughly the size of a golf ball - on the Pirates chest - above the left breast - but the slug continued straight through the man, taking with it, a large chunk of his flesh the size of a tennis ball, the man got slammed backwards to an almost standing position from his previous kneeling position.

       But Chambers hadn't finished, it that same moment he done the shotgun's action again and had fired, this time the slug impacted high on the man's forehead, the man did a full back flip, ass over end. The body hit the floor and started to convulse rapidly, the missing half of his head splattered on a wall ten metres away.

       "Whoa, see him?" Asked Chambers, "ass over fuckin' tit he went!" Chambers ducked behind cover and loaded up two more slugs just in case he didn't have time later.

       Henderson had reached the door. He swung his hand wildly and hit the door open switch and left a bloody hand print on it.

       Henderson crawled into the room; a long, wide blood stain followed him into the structure.
       Got to keep going, almost there.
       Henderson noticed the control panel as soon as he entered the Sky Box.

       The welcome screen vanished as Henderson dragged himself into the control seat and it replaced itself with a screen displaying the status of the cargo hold.
       Henderson noticed the option, 'Open Cargo Hold' and let out a chuckle but it caused blood to surge from his wound, he rushed a hand to the hole to cover it up and begun to type feverously with one hand.

       The door refused to open whilst the computer detected human life unprotected from the atmosphere in the hold.
       Henderson continued you type rapidly with one hand, the constant noise of battle in his ears, blood was trickling between his fingers and Henderson begun to feel sleepy.

       No! I've got to fight it, they're depending on me, can't let them down...
       Henderson finished the last prompt line in the console and paused, sending two taps across the communication system as he was unable to speak.

       Even though super heated lead was pulsing over head, Chris still heard the double pause in the static.
"Henderson, is that you?" He asked.
Another pause came in the static.
"If you're ready to blow the Hold give me three more breaks," Chris turned and looked up at the Sky Box, its viewing windows were out of Chris' view.
Static... *break*... Static... *break*... Static... *break*
       "Great, Henderson!" Said Chris, "Blow it in ten seconds, over!" Chris sent an 'Attention Wanted' beacon over his Squad's HUD.

       The Squad turned as one; they had stopped shooting and saw Chris running for the cover of some sturdy containers lay so that they formed a wall parallel to the Cargo Hold doors; they were ten metres in front of Alpha's position.
       Chris waved his hand for them to follow which they did without question.

       Chris pushed hard up against the container; it was locked into the Cargo Hold's floor by the means of eight gigantic clamps. Chris checked his boots and motioned for his people to do the same.

...8 seconds...
9 seconds...

       Henderson's thumb came down on 'enter,' the response was instantaneous.

       Before the door had opened a bare millimetre the air inside the Cargo Hold turned a gale, a constant, soundless, screaming wind that bit at Alpha Team and the Pirates.

       Finally the Atmosphere started to pull the air out of the Cargo Hold and the long corridor Alpha had run through to get here as the air lock had been destroyed.
       Chris knelt down defiantly, clasping onto Alison and Chambers' shoulders, desperate not to let them go. Everyone else dropped to their knees, keeping their feet in contact with the metallic floor at all times.

       Along with the air, men, were being pulled from where they stood. The majority of the Pirates begun to scream as they were pulled towards the open Cargo Hold Airlocks.
Many tried to get a grip on what ever they could. They would hold on until the force became so strong they would get their arms ripped off...

       Everything that wasn't bolted down - but not even that saved many, the means of attachment were snapped like twigs - and all kinds of debris was flung out the Cargo Hold; containers, lifting equipment, an old, past prime, unhooked Pelican drop ship and of course, people...
       The entire endeavour lasted for a gruelling, 36 seconds, every moment was hell for Alpha, being pulled flat back against the container they sought refuge behind.

       Henderson typed another command and pressed enter hastily, the doors begun to close and the atmosphere released them from its grip.
       Chambers slumped to the ground as the room re-pressurised. "Now that was fun!" Chambers stood up straight away, he did his shotgun's action and the empty cartridge pinged to the ground, the small noise echoed through the vast space.

The unmistakable sound of silence echoed through the hold, Chris emerged from cover followed by his team.

       The hold was practically empty , not a single thing stirred. The area which had been one of the most brutal fire fights Alpha Team had been through was finally over yet not a single sign of the battle remained. Despite the bullet scarring, even the blood spilled had been sucked off the floor and crystallized in space.

       Only several large containers - bolted down in a similar fashion to the one Alpha had hid behind - remained on the floor.

"Henderson!" Exclaimed Elliot, he ran as fast as he could for the access ladder to the Sky Box.

       Chris just stood there, watching Elliot take the ladder two rungs at a time.

"What the fuck are you all doing!?" Yelled Elliot over the comms, "Henderson is hit, he needs help!"

"Flemings help him out," Chris turned and faced the other members of his Team. They raised their visors, revealing sweat laden faces and worried looks for Henderson. "You done good, people," Chris felt weight on his left shoulder and turned, Alison was leaning on him, looking down at the ground, "damn good today, but as you know, we aren't done yet..."

       Chris posted Chambers and several Troops at the Airlock to the next corridor into the ship. Everyone else was up in the skybox, standing around Henderson.

       Chris looked at the man, his helmet had been removed - and it was sitting upside down on the floor, a largish pool of crimson blood filled it - Henderson had his eyes closed, his face was covering in caking blood and his head jolted up and down slightly as Jess Flemings finished putting the pressure bandage over the hole in his throat.

       Flemings then opened her suit and brought out a tube of bio-foam - it had to be carried inside the atmosphere suits because if unprotected when in space the can of foam would expand rapidly and explode, most likely killing the carrier - she shook the aerosol can the foam came in up and down, she removed the cap and placed it in the wound in Henderson's shoulder.

"This is going to sting, Henderson but I have to do it, ok?" Jess placed a gloved hand on Henderson's forehead, he smiled at her touch but his eyes were still closed.

       Flemings depressed the dispenser and yellowish foam injected itself in the open shoulder wound. Henderson convulsed shortly as the foam quickly turned from being freezing cold to roughly the same temperature as his body.

"It's ok, Henderson," said Flemings, "you're going to make it, just hold on." Flemings removed her helmet and leant in and kissed him roughly on the cheek

       Chris watched this bewildered, his Team's Technician had almost died climbing the ladder to open the Cargo Hold to save the Team.

"Nice work Henderson, nice work," Chris turned to leave when he got the drone over his Team Monitor, "oh fuck, no..."
       Chris turned and Jess Flemings was pounding repeatedly on Henderson's chest doing CPR, stopping momentarily to inject a Cardiac injection through Henderson's suit into his heart.

       Elliot jumped down next to Flemings. "Anything I can do?" Jess stopped for a second and thought.

"Come here and every fifteen compressions, give him two quick breaths ok?" Elliot nodded, moving up to Henderson's head and started CPR.

       Chris turned away, not wanting to watch, a hand touched his shoulder, he turned, Alison greeted him with a slight smile, it faded as soon as she begun to talk.
"Henderson didn't have a choice, Chris, if he didn't go, someone else would have and he would have died from decompression," Alison stopped as a harsh yell came over from Elliot.

"Stop talking that way! He's not dead! He just needs some help," Elliot looked at Henderson and started to blubber, "aren't you buddy?" Elliot stopped CPR and put his arms over Henderson's face, leaning down on them and cried at a steady rate.

       Flemings stopped, her hands still in the CPR position, she felt tears swell in her eyes, she had been dating Henderson since the Team's formation, it hurt her more than Elliot.

       Chris turned away in disgust, not at the actions of his men, but at the actions of everyone BUT his men. Another man had just lost his life under Chris' command.

"Fuck this!" He yelled over the network, he run somewhat to the ladder and slid down it. Landing on the ground with a thud he rushed over to Chambers.

"What happened?" Asked Chambers, knowing the answer but having to hear it from his friend and commander to know it was true.

"Henderson is dead," was all Chris said, he dropped his K50A1 - he only had a half a belt left anyhow - and whipped out his M7 sub machine gun. "Team prepare to move..."

"What about Henderson?" Asked Elliot over the network, his voice was in tatters, "we can't just leave him here."

"That is exactly what we are going to do," Chris heard the mutters over the comms, "listen, I don't fucking like this anymore than you but we have a job to do! We've all known Henderson since the Team's formation but we need to let go. It's bad for all you but it's worse for me, I have to live with the conscious that he died fulfilling my order."

       There was silence over the network, the remaining part of the Team still in the Sky Box filled out, down the ladder and across the hold to Chambers and Chris.

       Jess Flemings walked slowly up to Chris, her visor was still raised and her lush green eyes were full of sorrow. She held out a clench fist, Chris put an open hand under it and Flemings dropped Henderson's dog tags into his hand.

       Chris looked at her, he moved a hand and she flinched with fear at first, but he used a gloved finger and thumb to wipe away the swelling tears on her face and closed her visor.

"Be strong for him, Jess," was all Chris said, clenching the dog tags before putting them into his left breast pocket, "let's go..."