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Amethyst part 2 - Corona
Posted By: kr142616
Date: 16 November 2007, 3:10 am

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      Jeff Walther's hands gripped the steering wheel of his 'Hog, white-knuckled. Nest to him sat his marine passenger, full-visor helmet back on and hand on the side of his head. He kept reminding himself that the marine's presence was only temporary. He was only giving the asshole a ride, that was it.
      For a long while they rode in silence through the deserted city, no sound but the whirring of the Warthog. There was no conversation, no sound of traffic, no music. It shouldn't be like this, Jeff thought. Cities need noise.
      Jeff glanced sidelong at the marine, then towards the jeep's center console. The 'Hog had been a gift from his uncle, and while the jeep wasn't brand new, the radio was top of the line. Jeff reached for the sound system, found his favorite track, turned the volume up high, and hit play.
      As a wave of sound hit him, Jeff felt instantly at ease. The marine didn't seem to share Jeff's taste in music, though. He jumped and shouldered his rifle, scanning the area, and ripped of his helmet.
      "Who the fuck's screaming?" he shouted, when he turned to see Jeff laughing.
      "Hell, mate, turn that shit off," he said, scowling. "You want the whole city to know we're here?"
      Jeff continued laughing. "Calm down. It's a city, it needs to be loud." This asshole sure was a bad sport. "It's creepy without any noise."
      "Yeah?" the marine sneered. "All that shit is is noise," he said, shaking his head in disgust. "Now turn it off."
      The marine was really starting to get on Jeff's nerves now. "My car, my rules," he said. "You don't like it, go back to walking." He reached for the dial, and turned back to the marine. "And it's called shrill."
      The marine made to reply, but was drowned out as Jeff turned up the volume, chuckling. So, that's how loud it goes.
      Jeff could see the marine trying to shout over the music out of the corner of his eye, enjoying himself. He eventually seemed to give up. Then, Jeff felt a gloved hand grab one side of his head, and cold metal press into the other side.
      Jeff's foot came up from the gas, and he remained still, not saying a word. The marine removed his hand from the side of Jeff's head and, keeping the pistol level with his head, switched the radio off. He smiled wickedly at him, and winked. "Martial law, mate."
      Jeff's face was set like stone. He was seething and terrified inside, but he wouldn't let the marine have the satisfaction of seeing either in his expression.
      The marine kept speaking. "Now, listen. "I've been a marine all my adult life. You've been a cashier. Who do you think has experience in these matters?" He waited for a moment, but Jeff didn't respond, and simply stared ahead. The marine sighed, and continued.
      "We're in an abandoned city, with enemies potentially nearby. With this music blaring, everyone will know where we are. Including the aliens. So we turn it off." The marine paused, and donned his helmet with his free hand. "Understood?"
      Jeff couldn't bring himself to look at him. "Asshole," he said, spitting out the word.
      "Understood?" the marine asked again, the cool threat replaced by one more heated. His handgun still hadn't moved.
      Motherfucker. Jeff didn't think he'd shoot him, but he didn't want to risk it, and if his uncle was gone, if he went to join the fight—"Sure, whatever," he found himself saying, hanging his head.
      He was already regretting helping this guy. So much for civic duty. Should've run the bastard down.
      "I get it," he said, staring at his knuckles, hands wrapped tight around the wheel.

      Darin stepped into the walk-in closet, and had to struggle to keep his jaw from dropping. Around him was a miniature armory, in a middle class apartment in downtown Corona.There were several assault rifles and a pair of shotguns, numerous handguns, boxes of ammunition and preloaded magazines, and packages of explosives, among other things, all neatly arranged, mounted or stacked against the wall.
      "Jesus, your uncle would've been screwed if there was a fire," he said, trying to cover his surprise with humor. After his loss of temper in the 'Hog, Darin needed to try to get this kid to respect him.
      The kid—Darin still hadn't gotten his name, nor given his own—looked like he was about to grin, but before Darin could tell for sure he turned away. Good, he thought. If he likes me, he might trust me, might help me. Behind his helmet, Darin smiled, though it wasn't the friendly smile of his driver.
      The kid walked towards a rack, and removed a short carbine, a bit smaller than Darin's MA5B, and an ammo belt of 7.62mm magazines. "I told you he was a hardcore son of a bitch, didn't I? Hunter, too."
      "Hunter, my ass," Darin said, removing a suppressed .50 rifle from the wall and whistling. "Gonna bag a deer with this fucker?" The rifle was older and by no means as accurate or heavy-hitting as a UNSC S2 AM, but it would sure make a hell of a mess of anything living. Definitely not civilian-legal, he thought, replacing the rifle. Who is this fucker?
      The kid opened a locker, and removed a combat jumpsuit and armored jacket. "Well, he's definitely at the outskirts. One of the suits is missing, and I think a rifle's gone, too." The kid didn't look happy, nor surprised. "I'm gonna change into this," he said, lifting the suit. "Help yourself."
      Darin grinned, feeling like a child in a toy store. "Thanks," he said. "Oh, and you gotta do something about that hair."
      The kid shouted back from the other room. "I'm not getting rid of this," he said. "You know how long it took to grow out?"
      Darin reached for a short-barreled shotgun on the wall. "Yeah, well how fast will you lose it when they blow your fucking head off!" Darin reached for a box of shells and began stuffing handfuls into his belt. "Might be bloody useful! The blue might make them think you're one of 'em!"
Darin heard a muffled, "Fuck you," from the kid, and continued filling his ammo pouches.
      So much for him liking me, he thought. Ah, well. Little shit probably won't make it out of the day alive.
      As Darin placed bricks of explosives in a bag, a thought struck him. None of us might make it out alive. He quickly dismissed it, though. They were marines. Sure, they'd suffered casualties, but that was in the air, beyond their control.
      They'd win this.