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Long Time Gone Part 26
Posted By: grylsy<grylsy@hotmail.com>
Date: 21 November 2004, 2:29 AM

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Long Time Gone Part 26: Depression

August 25th, 2550, Reach, Camp Hathcock, instructor quarters #3, 1745 hours

       Chris' eyes snapped open and he sat up immediately in bed, his body awash in a cold sweat.

"Something terrible has happened..." He breathed trying to wonder what had caused him to rouse. Soon his thoughts clouded his mind so much he couldn't remember even putting his head back down on his damp pillow and was asleep in seconds.

August 26th, 2550, Reach, Camp Hathcock, Communications Centre, station #1 0001 Hours

       Floyd Weine was sitting back at his console, it had been a late night and it wasn't over yet, the Pillar of Autumn was due in for a report
The transmission started but it wasn't a happy one...

"... Pillar of Autumn personal log for the 25th of August, 2550. Twenty-nine casualties, all KIA, an un-known enemy had waited until they had boarded a stricken vessel before slaughtering them. The names will be read in order of rank..." Floyd grabbed a pen and paper and was ready to jot down the names. "Lieutenant Ripply, Michelle, Sargeant Dale, Ben, Sarge..."

       Floyd was shocked. Fourteen of the KIAs were Shock Troopers, he was a Shock Trooper himself, stationed with the training division at Hathcock, but was doing the close combat course as well and also had been unlucky enough to pull radio watch tonight.

"Oi, Klein!" Bellowed Floyd at another Shock Trooper on another console half way up the room, they were the only ones here.

"Yo, what?" Replied Klein.

"Hey whose the Sarge at the rifle range? The funny bastard, you know McDonald or something?"

"You mean McAllen?" Said Klein with a lack of enthusiasm.

"Yeah him, well what was the Lieutenant he was screwing?" Floyd stared at the piece of paper.

"Ripply I think, why?"

"Then I got to go break the news to him..." Floyd put the entry into his PDA and sat back; thinking.

August 26th, 2550, Reach, Camp Hathcock, instructor quarters #3, 0633 hours

       A soft droning 'beep beep' echoed out from Chris' alarm clock.

"Turn that fucking thing off," groaned Chambers face down on his bed; swinging blindly at the clock on its stand next to the bed, "bah, die already!"

       Chris sat up on his cot and looked at Chambers swinging blindly at the clock. Chris pressed the button, the beeping and Chambers' swinging stopped.

"Come on," said Chris putting his pants on, it was going to be a good day, he only had three too be snipers to train, "wakey, wakey, hands of snakey!" Chris poked Chambers a couple of time.

"Piss off," said Chambers hugging his pillow, "wake me in an hour or so."

"I am not covering your ass again, Chambers, now get the hell out of bed! Don't make me go get the Lieutenant!"

       With that Chambers jumped out of bed and put some clothes on; their new Lieutenant was an absolute hard ass.

Within ten minutes the two were seated in the mess hall; which was extremely empty; not many personal were around at this hour, they were either already up and had breakfast or were still in bed.

"Bah, I hate this fricking battery acid!" Spat Chambers pushing the cup of coffee away.

"Come on," said Chris taking the cup and about to take a drink, "it can't be tha... blah!" Chris spat the disgusting liquid out and pushed the cup further away from them.

August 26th, 2550, Reach, Camp Hathcock, Advanced Marksmanship, 1130 hours

       The shot echoed along the range. The S2 AM sniper rifle had a monstrous sound to it and the echo only made it seem even more powerful.

"A bit low, Skip," said Chris looking at the mark the target crew had put over the bullet hole, "give me up two, left half."

"Aye, Aye, sir," said the young Marine Sniper adjusting his sights as Chris stated.

       The Trooper fired again, a better result, Chris was about to give some more adjustments when he heard someone running behind him. A Black Clad Shock Trooper in 'casual'; he was only wearing his fatigues and breast plate, nothing else, ran up to him.

"Sargeant McAllen?" Asked the man after giving a salute.

"Yeah, hey your that guy from 1st aren't you? The guy Chambers was talking about yesterday, he said you did damn fine in the close range course, ah God, what was your name again?" Chris scratched his head, "f... Floyd! That was it, how you going?"

"Err, ok I guess, sir, but I'll feel somewhat better after I tell you this." The man took a step and turned gesturing for Chris to follow.

"What?" Said Chris following, he turned to the waiting sniper, "Skip just wait there, I'll be right back..."

"You'll want to sit down, Sarge," explained Floyd taking a seat on an ammo box, Chris pulled one up too.

       Floyd put a hand on his forehead; it was difficult for him to say this.

"You, were, um, like dating a Lieutenant from Alpha Company weren't you?" Asked Floyd, he had a piece of paper in his hand.

"Ah, yeah," Said Chris, unsure at first, he thought Michelle was in Alpha he couldn't be sure.

"Michelle Ripply?" Finalized Floyd clenching his hand which had the piece of paper in.

"Yeah..." Said Chris again, what's happened?" He thought, and then he remembered earlier this morning, "oh shit..."

       Floyd didn't say anything, he knew what Chris was thinking just handed him the now crinkled piece of paper. Floyd got up to go but Chris grabbed his arm.

"When did it happen?" demanded Chris, he was breathing heavily looking at the big red letters of 'KIA' next to Michelle's name.

"Yesterday afternoon, Sarge," Floyd stepped back and sat back down, "look Sarge, there was nothing you could do, she was half the galaxy away."

"No, there is one thing I could have done," Chris put the paper in his breast pocket, "I could have told her how I really felt!" Chris stood up unexpectedly, turned on his heel and walked towards the Instructor quarters; only if you were looking closely could you have seen the tears swelling in his eyes.

"But Sarge!" Cried Floyd, "what about the sniper?" Skip had gotten impatient and came over to see what the problem was.

"Fuck him!" Yelled Chris storming off to his quarters...

August 27th, 2550, Reach, Camp Hathcock, instructor quarters #3, 0001 hours

       Chambers stumbled into the room, drunk beyond belief. He's obviously upset that Susan isn't here thought Chris.

"... Good to see you again, baby," said Chambers leaning out of the door, "love you..."

"...Love you too, Michael!" Replied the voice, it sounded familiar.

       Chris was curious to ask who it was but he was too busy looking up at the ceiling. Thinking why he wasn't there with her, to protect her...

"Yo, McAllen" Said Chambers sitting down on his cot, his voice was stuttered, "I h... hear... heard... about Ripply, man," Chris could tell how forced it was, even from a drunk it sounded as fake as a cure for cancer, "if y... you want to t... talk I'm here for you..."

"Actually" Said Chris breaking his train of thought, "who wa..." Chris stopped as soon as he heard the unmistakable sound of snoring, "night, man..."

August 27th, 2550, Reach, Camp Hathcock, instructor quarters #3, 0800 hours

       Chambers opened his eyes finally, at first he was happy, he hadn't been woken up by that stupid alarm clock but then he felt worried, McAllen wasn't there.

Chambers stumbled out of bed; they didn't need to be at the range until 1030 hours so they had some time to muck around.

       Chambers walked down the corridor asking passer bys had they seen McAllen. No one had seen him.

Eventually Chambers decided to check the range, McAllen was always a stiffler for being early.

       A lone figure sat out in the middle of the deserted range, looking up at the sky.

"Better late than never," said McAllen not looking at Chambers.

"Man, if you're pissed about anything I did last night," Chambers sat down next to his friend, "I'm sorry..."

"It's not that man," Said Chris, he handed Chambers the piece of paper.

"Oh that..." Said Chambers almost too uninterested.

"Oh that?!" Chris restrained himself from slugging Chambers, "it's more than just that, it's this!" He pointed at the ground, "that!" Up at the armada of ships waiting to head off into space, "Christ even them!" A small group of recruits had come over and were standing back almost one hundred yards.

"What do you mean?" Asked Chambers seriously.

"I mean why the fuck am I stuck here!? I didn't ask to be here! I wanted to be with her; even if I died with her at least I would have been with her!" Chris started to cry, "I didn't even tell her how I really felt, man. I loved her..."

"Hush, hush," said Chambers in his most sensitive voice, "I'm sure she knew you did..."

"Why can't they just let me go and do my job? But no! I'm stuck here on this God forsaken shit hole teaching greasy haired little bastards who have seen more combat than both of us together how to shoot!" Chambers could tell by the way Chris' arguments began to be less about Michelle he was feeling better with it off his chest.

"Come on, Chris," Chambers forced Chris up, "you're going to have a sick day today..."

"I just want to die..." Said Chris. Chambers let Chris walked several steps ahead as he looked up at the sky...

"I bet she didn't, man, I bet she didn't..."