Amethyst part 1: Planetfall
Posted By: kr142616<email@example.com>
Date: 24 October 2007, 2:08 am
The first thing he heard was beeping. At the moment, it was the last thing he wanted to hear.
Groggily, Jeff slapped the alarm off, and rose from bed. Next to him his girlfriend stirred, rolled over, and went back to sleep. Sighing, Jeff leaned his back against the window. Another day of flipping burgers, he thought, yawning.
Turning around, Jeff pressed his forehead against the floor to ceiling window. It was still dark outside, and the view of pre-dawn Corona was beautiful. It was the only benefit to the low-income apartment he and Sam shared, though.
Still not fully conscious, Jeff shuffled into the bathroom, and slid into the cramped shower. He was greeted by a blast of cold water, however, shocking him awake, and belatedly remembered that the landlord had yet to fix the water heater. Thoughts of the landlord brought thoughts of rent, and thoughts of rent brought thoughts of his job, and thoughts of his job brought thoughts of how his life just plain sucked.
Years ago, when the government had restarted the draft in the wake of the Covenant invasion, Jeff had skipped. His life had been going well, he was straight out of college and lining up for job offers, and he'd just met Sam. Now, though, things were different: he'd never gotten the jobs, he'd been unable to pay the rent, and he'd had to move in with Sam to her dump of an apartment in east Corona.
Jeff turned the water off, letting it drip for a moment, and toweled himself dry. Moving to the sink, he began brushing his teeth. Pausing a moment, Jeff heard a faint popping sound. He couldn't place it, and unworried, he went back to brushing. It was probably one of their weirdo neighbors: the bad parts of town attracted more than a few nutters.
Finished cleaning up, Jeff walked back into the bedroom, where Sam still lay sleeping. Fishing through his drawers, he pulled on some clothes, and grabbed his gel. Glancing in the mirror across the room, he spiked his hair up in a Mohawk, and again found himself looking out the apartment window, where the Amethyst Army Global Guard compound dominated the landscape, several kilometers in the distance. Slowly, his hand slipped down the glass.
I could have been there rather than this shithole, he thought. No action on this backwater world, anyways. Serve my six years and get a free education to boot. Joining the military wasn't for all people, though, and Jeff knew it. His uncle's service in the marines had made him a near-psycho.
Jeff let his hand drop from the glass, and turned to leave, looking for his keys and a jacket. He stopped, though, when the room around him began to grow steadily lighter. It's not dawn yet, he thought wonderingly, looking out the window for a source. What he found, though, was at first incomprehensible.
Outside, it looked like the sun was falling. A roiling ball of light grew in the sky, larger and larger, until it was bright as day. Then it grew brighter, bright enough Jeff was blinded. Jeff was shoved violently through the air, and found himself on the floor.
Jeff's found himself blind and unbalanced, his ears ringing. Slowly, his vision came back, and the ringing subsided to an unsettling silence. He rose from the floor, amid tipped chairs and magazines scattered across the carpet, and made his way to the window, a sinking feeling in his gut.
Outside, only a few kilometers away from the apartment, an entire city block was gone, the ground a glassy sheen. Only about half of the AGG building was still there, the remaining portion looking like a cutaway model. Though he knew what it must have been, Jeff couldn't bring himself to quite think it.
Jeff looked out of the window to see where the ball had come from, and saw bright flashes up in the sky. It was hard to make out what was happening, but he knew what they were.
"Holy fuck," Jeff whispered.
"What was that?" Sam asked from next to him, worry in her voice. Jeff hadn't heard her get up, nor seen her approach him.
He wanted to say something comforting, wanted to say something to reassure himself and Sam alike. All that came out was, "Look," accompanied by a stiff nod.
She stepped forwards to the window, and upon seeing the destruction, brought her hand to her mouth. Horror was written across her face, reflected in the glass. "What happened?" she asked.
Again, Jeff was at a loss of words. "Plasma bombardment," he said, finally thinking it. He pointed upwards, high into the sky, where the flashes sparked against the fading darkness. Sam gasped when she recognized them for what they were: enemy ships.
For a moment there was silence between the two. Then, Sam spoke. "What do we do?" she whimpered.
Jeff gazed out the window; his thoughts were racing yet painfully slow at the same time. After a few seconds, he responded.
"You need to get out, down to the bomb shelter," Jeff said, keeping his voice as steady as he could. "No, wait," he said, just as quickly as he'd finished his last sentence. "Take the savings and go to the spaceport, and get on the first ship you can. I have to do something first."
He turned and started walking towards the door, and knew she was staring at his back in confusion.
"Where are you going?" she called after him.
Jeff stopped. She wouldn't understand, but she deserved an explanation.
"I need to make sure my uncle's okay," he said, and left. She could take care of herself, but his uncle had a nasty habit of running towards fights. Whether it was to help or for the fun of it, he wasn't really sure, but Jeff needed to keep him away from this one.
So he left the apartment, leaving Sam rooted to the spot with fear, and feeling the same fear roiling in his gut.
Jeff had a bad feeling a lot of people wouldn't make it out of this day alive.
Corporal James Darin went against the flow of bodies, making his way to the outskirts of Corona. Around him people surged to the city's center, to the bomb shelters and passenger ships picking up anyone who could make it off-planet. Their eyes were wide in terror, their belongings in bags and clutched in arms.
Darin had been groundside for less than twenty minutes. His frigate, the September, had launched three of its Pelicans to assist in the defense of Corona after the AGG base had been hit. His dropship was hit, but thankfully the platoon had managed to bang out before they crashed, the airborne marines sailing down on parachutes.
I hope the pilots made it, he thought absentmindedly. The platoon had comm gear in their helmets, but the pilots had theirs linked to the dropship, and couldn't be hailed. Over the radio, he had heard reports of the other two September dropships being shot down as he sailed towards the ground. One had lost everyone aboard. This was already turning out to be a shit mission.
Now he was separated from his platoon, albeit in communication, and several klicks away from where he needed to be, without transportation.
Up ahead he saw a tunnel, marked as leading towards the outskirts of town.
"Hey, sarge, I'm taking the 23rd Street tunnel. Looks clear: it's a two-way three lane to the outskirts."
"Roger that, Darin," the platoon sergeant, Hart, replied. "Everyone copy? 23rd Street tunnel comes out at the dig site." There were scattered replies over the comm, and Darin went into the tunnel.
There were few cars and trucks abandoned in the road, fewer than normally would be expected. Traffic had been light when the first attack came, though; it had been only 0500 local time, before rush hour. Getting where you needed wouldn't have been that difficult yet.
After several minutes of walking and radio silence, Darin heard a familiar sound, and turned around, smiling. It was a Warthog LRV. Someone else in the platoon must have found transport.
What he saw looked like the familiar jeep, but it wasn't quite the same. It was dark blue and glossy, missing its massive 12.7mm LAAG, and looked nothing like a military vehicle. Darin ran into the middle of the road anyways, and put his left hand up, the other cradling his rifle, pointed harmlessly to the ground.
"Hey, stop!" he shouted as the civvie's 'Hog slowed. "I'm gonna need to commandeer this vehicle, citizen." He doubted the driver would readily agree, though. He looked about early twenties, with pale skin and dark clothes, and a tall blue Mohawk: a hard case if the marine had ever seen one. His reply only proved Darin's assessment.
"Fuck you, buddy. I gotta be somewhere." The kid scowled at Darin through the front windshield.
Darin thought quickly. He was about the age that he should have been conscripted into either the AGG or Marines, yet he looked like neither, especially considering his hair. That meant he skipped the draft. Darin immediately thought coward. Maybe he could bully him into helping, scare him a bit.
Darin removed his helmet, feeling fresh air on his face. "Hey, mate, if you haven't noticed, there's a war going on. Martial law was announced as soon as the Covenant arrived in-system." He motioned to the side with his rifle, one-handed. "Get out."
The kid's glare intensified, and he chuckled humorlessly. "You know what? You can go fuck yourself."
You're a right tough bastard, aren't you, taking on the big bad marine? Darin thought, almost laughing. Smart one, too. The 7.62mm armor-piercing rounds in his rifle could easily pierce that windshield, safety-glass or not. He'd play it safe and try to reconcile with him, though. All the same, he still needed the kid to know he meant business.
"Martial law means I can shoot you. No one would know, no one would care." He smiled and swung the rifle over his shoulder, though, not intending to shoot the kid. "Now, you obviously like this car. How 'bout you give me a ride to the outskirts? We're going the same way. Then you can go to your club or whatever as the sky rains plasma." Darin smiled sickly-sweet. He wanted to toss in the word punk, but that might have just pissed him off more than he wanted.
After a few long moments of consideration, the kid relented. "Fine man, whatever, get in. I need to go somewhere else first, though, then I'll get you to the outskirts."
"Great. Now, was that so hard, mate? Where you gotta go, anyways?"
"Look, if it's so damned important, I need to find my uncle. He was a dumbass marine, too, and I wanna keep him from doing something stupid."
Darin jumped into the back of the jeep, resisting the urge to bash the punk with his rifle. "Well, let's go, then." This was shaping up to be one hell of a day.