<Begin Log><Start Entry><Date><23188.8.131.52.38>
[A man's voice begins to play, a cold melancholic sound that is often broken by the soft sound of sniffling, the sound of one who is 'dead'.. In the background is the sound of rain, hard rain.]
Rain. Cold rain.
It's been raining for days, just a nonstop downpour, like some sort of built in sprinkler system to this hellish ring. It's caused flooding all along the low lands, wiping out traces of destroyed vehicles, fallen comrades, scorch pocked land and bloody battles.
The rain drops are as sharp as any covenant sword, and the cold bites deeper than any needle from their weapons ever could. It lingers on your skin for a moment before trying to dive deeper into your system... the worst of it's on your back. It's a vile serpent that wriggles back and forth, striking the foul bitter venomous cold wherever you might have a dry spot for more than a few moments.
It killed Marcus the other day. Can you believe it? I can't. I mean, here's the guy, my comrade, my friend, who's fought with me side by side since we've landed on this diabolic surface. We've survived stubby grunts, elite blues, a red, and we even saw something that looked like a Hippo once. But... but just the other day he died... from rain. Jesus... I still can't believe it, I mean... -rain- man. I've pulled spikes out of him that didn't explode, been gunner on the warthog to cover his rear and even went hand to hand with a blue while he struggled on the muddy ground for a weapon. Rain,... man. His Personal Doctor Unit went silent last night after twenty minutes of shock, he died of hypothermia. No fancy burials, no twenty gun salute... I thought of rolling him to the edge of this impromptu shelter and shoving him into the raging waters below, but I haven't the heart. I mean. He was my friend. Rain. Man.
[The sound of his heavy shuddering breathing is almost lost in the thunder of the rain.]
My own PDU is warning me that I need to start warming myself up or I'll start going into shock as well, I've decided to dictate this all to my Personal Com Unit instead, I remember back in those history classes about how people were glorified for this stuff, leaving behind a "what it was like" and being written off as heros. Ha. I just want to say "F-You" to whoever reads this, god damn it, I better have my own chapter written about me. Fuck it's cold. I mean, here you are, reading my dying testimony probably millions of light-years away, sitting in a warm room, and probably even have the optional hot-chocolate in front of you. God I hope you die in a worse way than I do.
[Another long pause of thought, the noise of the rain never ceasing- his voice returns to a much softer tone now, as if no longer angry from his previous outburst.]
Where do I start though? With this whole 'history thing'? Do I tell just the simple details of how everything goes? Nah, I'm sure that'll all be figured out, or not. For history is written by the victors, and we're sure as hell not them. Should I talk of my own personal experiences here? Probably, but God, will someone really remember the simple tales of a grunt on a lost ring of an ill-fated species? Probably not, but this may be the only way to die sane, if not in some vain hopes that I might rise to heaven, and not suffer so in such a similar hell.
The truth behind my wish to define my whole account lies millions of light-years away, in the heart of my beloved. Wether we as a race survive or not I will be forever smeared in the records as traitor, and nothing will ever disprove that in the eyes of others. However I don't care about those millions, as my actions have proven, I live for her, and I write this for her. So that she may know the truth, and that I love her.
This is the truth, the personal account, of the downfall of the thirty-seventh mechanized calvary, and of the man who brought them to their deaths, and doomed the fate of an entire species. Sergeant Troy Arnold. Me.
[The rain almost seems to lighten up, to give the man a chance to tell his story.]
The first day the sky was lit up with fire. I mean that in the most hellish way possible, the amount of fire that was directed up towards the incoming life crafts from our miserable ship that was in the last of its death throes was amazing. Innumerable lasers of green streaked from the ground to form massive 'columns' as a few of the advanced parties that were transferred down from the Covenant battle group set up for our 'arrival'. Ships that came within mere miles of these laser columns turned to ash before our very eyes. To leave your com on and hear the instant death cries of thirty or forty men at a time was sheer insanity amplified and broadcast. There was nothing you could do, the life boats were automated, to use the manual override was to try to do a thousand manipulations and calculations per second. Some tried though. Suddenly they would swerve off course and smash into the impenetrable walls of the side of the ring, invisible death walls. God, it was horrible. Marcus was one of our pilots at the time, not that he flew the lifeboat, but in the top of the cylinder death trap known as a lifeboat we had two drop ships with warthogs attached. I had hoped to be in a company with a tank, big or small, it just felt safe to be behind two inches of steel on all sides. He kept his hands over his ears, his com hanging off to the side instead of in his ear, slowly he rocked back and forth, trying to hum, as if it would block out the sound of the dying. He wasn't mentally handicapped or anything, his behavior wasn't too dissimilar to the rest of ours. What do you do when every time the ship shakes you know you were spared but thirty or so others just died in your place? What do you really do? You pray, you hum, you shake, you cry. You become 'human'.
That was my first real taste of 'marred humanity'. Not that I'm not human or anything, but fear, fear is the mind killer. In the literal sense as well. One of the others, a young private, suddenly pulled out his standard issue and before we could stop him, blew his brains out. The spray splattered over the wall, we gagged for most of the rest of the trip down. He couldn't handle it, he wanted to be in control of his own death, and that was the way it was. I wasn't too much further from doing that myself. You've never seen such fear in men's eyes.
[A moment of reflection can be heard in his voice now, his voice remaining calm still. In the background is now a wind blowing, whistling over a desolate and high landscape.]
I stayed sane for her. For those of you reading this for the purely 'factual' telling, you're not going to get 'pure'. I should make this one long love letter to her, you're just lucky this has any relevance to your precious war what-so-ever, but I'm not going to just write a love letter, because she has to understand what I went through, what I did, and why I did it. I just have to, I .... God, I can't even believe I'm trying to describe 'love' to a bunch of civilians geeks who will be analyzing this. Simply... I stayed sane for her, everyone had a reason of why they didn't do what that private did, some were just cowards, others were too god damn brave. "I love a girl back home", and that was more of a 'human' reason that anyone else ever told me this entire stay here.
[His voice fades off again, not in reflection this time, his faint stuttering heard as he tried to form words in the cold that shocked his breath away. A few moments of heavy breathing and he was able to resume.]
God its cold... cold.... so cold. My PCU can barely understand me through my clattering teeth... I'm going to chance this. I'm going to sleep. I'm going to take some of Marcus's clothing in vain hopes that when I wake up tomorrow some parts of me might be dry and warm. My PDU is relaying to me the dismal chances on wether I wake or not... if there are no more entries in this journal... well...
- Sergeant Troy Arnold.