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Battle for Tectron Chapter 7 : Caught
Posted By: Helljumper<Pittklipse@aol,com>
Date: 15 January 2004, 6:59 AM

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      It didn't take Marcus long to reach the bridge, but he was told to report to a briefing room down the hall. The room was in an oval shape with an elongated oval table in the middle with ten chairs positioned evenly around it. Several flat screen monitors were set up around the room along with holographic projection equipment embedded in the table itself. Whitman sat at the side of the table facing the doorway. He placed his beret on the table and sat at the position of attention. This arms laid straight on the armrest of the chair and his back was straight two inches from the back of the chair. He waited.
      After twenty minutes of sitting in the painful position he rested his back against the back of the chair. He waited. Twelve minutes later he felt the ship shake softly and knew that the Twilight had entered Slipspace. Questions raced through his mind, but he knew the answer. No matter how many Covenant the marines killed on the ground, the Navy boys could never win in space.
      He rubbed his chin and looked down at the dirty ODST t-shirt he was wearing. It was okay for him to be out of uniform down on planet fighting the enemy but not aboard a UNSC ship. Oh well, nothing he can do about it. Someone wanted to see him. He reflected on the words that came over the ship's intercom. The female voice had asked for Lieutenant Marcus Whitman. Was he caught or did no one take the time to check. This wasn't possible. UNSC policy required a roll-call after every mission. Was this the reason why no one had come to see him? Were they taking roll-call now?
      Before he could think up an answer, the door to the briefing room slid open and a medium height man entered. The man wore the all black marine dress uniform with several rows of combat citations and medals hanging from the right side of his jacket. On his head rested the ODST black beret and emblem along with his rank. Marcus snapped to attention and the saluted the Colonel. The officer walked over to the table and pulled out his chair. Before he sat he returned Marcus's salute.
      The two men sat facing each other. The Colonel produced a folder and laid it out on the table. He scanned several sheets of paper before looking at Marcus. "I am Colonel Jackson, commander of the marines stationed aboard the Twilight." Whitman had never met the man, but knew that he existed. All marine officers included the deceased Lieutenant Williams would meet with him before and after every mission. The man paused to review some more paper before closing the folder and thoroughly looking over Marcus. He eyed the ODST beret on the table along with the gold bars. Colonel Jackson relaxed and spoke with a low tone in his voice.

"Under the United Nations Space Command military law three dash sixty eight dash two, impersonating an officer in a time of war is punishable by death. Are you aware of this marine?" His voice contained no hint of the importance of the matter at hand.

"I am aware of this, sir."

"Why did you do it?"

"No excuses, sir."

"I see," Colonel Jackson stared at Private Whitman as if he was reading the Helljumper's soul. "Why did you decide to change the airfield's defenses?"

"Sir, I noticed that the defenses were weak," Marcus paused to search for any reaction on the officer's face before continuing. "Captain James and First Sergeant Lee positioned the marines in a formation that excluded the possibility of the enemy using dropships."

"How did you know that the Covenant would use dropships?"

"It was a hunch, sir."

"I see," The Colonel paused again. He tried to read Marcus but he couldn't. The marine was honest. "Are you aware of UNSC military law article eight dash twenty two dash one?"

"I'm not aware of that law, sir."

"This article allows a commanding officer in a time of war to forgive any breaking of military code by their subordinates. After reviewing the stories of the marines you bought back and speaking to Captain James, I am willing to over look this infraction. You are a leader and we are running low on good leaders these days. According to military protocol, I can not promote you to the rank of Lieutenant but instead I'm willing to give you the rank of Master Sergeant. Since Lieutenants are hard to come by, I'm giving you a platoon. Now, you will be the platoon leader at this rank and you'll have a platoon sergeant."

The Colonel paused as Marcus absorbed the weird information. Whitman nodded and Colonel Jackson continued. His voice hardened and became more serious. "If you tell anyone about this, and I hear that marines are putting on the ranks of their dead Lieutenants, I swear that I'll have you stripped of your rank and executed with the quickness! Are we understood marine?"

"Sir, yes sir!" Marcus replied quickly almost screaming
like when he was at boot camp.

"Do you have any questions?"

      Marcus paused as he thought. The images of this dead platoon members crept into his mind, but were quickly pushed aside.

"Sir, will I be in command of a Helljumper platoon?"
Colonel Jackson hesitated and leaned back further into his chair. "Orbital Drop Shock Troops are... You will be commanding a platoon of regular marines. They are formed from the survivors of Tectron."

"What about Helljumpers, sir?"

"You haven't heard son... We lost Reach," he paused for a moment. "Your platoon is bunked in rooms B six and B seven. I want you to remember three things about being a leader. First, a leader is responsible for everything that his unit does and fails to do. Second, the mission and your men come first. Third, lead by example, never ask one of your marines to do something that you wouldn't do yourself. And lead by example means wearing the full combat uniform and armor. I know from experience that it can not stop a plasma blast, but it is better than nothing and it brings unity to the Corp. Now, I have business to take care of. Any request before I leave?"

"Sir, I would like Private Thomas Gaius and Private Julio Castro assigned to my platoon."

"I'll see what I can do," Colonel Jackson stood up and Marcus followed. They saluted each other. "Helljumpers are going out of style. The Corp doesn't believe that we are needed. Wear your beret everyday and even in combat... Before I forget," the middle aged man reached into his pocket and produced a small box and slid it across the table to Marcus. The marine opened the box revealing two sets of Master Sergeant ranks.

"Thank you, sir."

"See to your men Master Sergeant Whitman."

"Yes sir."

      With that, the Colonel exited the room. Marcus sat back down in his chair and took the time to reflect on the conversation he and the Colonel just had. Reach was destroyed. Millions must have died defending it. Hundreds of thousands of those were marines and twenty thousand were ODST.