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Homeworlds VII
Posted By: Mainevent<billygoat359@netscape.net>
Date: 11 September 2003, 9:59 PM

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Due to technical difficulties once again, this chapter has seen several re-writes, and none that I myself have felt up to par for release. So instead I decided to go down a new route for once. I took the road less traveled, and in the end, it has made all the difference.

Chapter Seven- Glassed Innocence, Broken Covenant

      "Jason, honey, be careful out there." The shallow voice of his mother was barely audible from his position under the small steel bridge that seperated his house from the neighbors. Jason loved to camp at the small stream brimming with minnows, crawfish, and other small animals. He could spend hours toying with them and splashing around franticall trying to catch them.

      "I will mom." He replied with a quick shriek as one of the larger fish loosed itself from his grasp. He giggled as the refreshing and crisp water soaked him, and chased after it to no avail. No matter how hard he tried, he could never seem to catch them.

      After several minutes in a futile race between him and the fish, he finally gave up. He followed the small beck to where it zig-zagged from under his house.

      His house was one of the older houses on Tendon IV. Built before the new-age Modany style architecture, it had enormous pillars and high-gaping windows. It's two enormous stories encompassed much of the two-tens it was settled on.

      His small fingers followed the crevices until they found a crag suitable enough to maintain his weight as he scaled the small ravine leading out of the creek. Huffing and puffing as he rolled onto the ground, several longswords passed overhead. Too slow to be fighting, yet just fast enough to be heading somewhere.

      Jason had always loved the wonderful flying machines he read about in school and at home. When he grew up, he wanted to be a longsword pilot. Fortunately for him, his dream would probably come true.

      Jason Tillerman was only ten. He didn't know who, or what the covenant were, only that they were the bad people who didn't like his mommy and daddy. But to a ten year old, that means little. He, like most ten year olds are want to do, was an adventurous lad who found pleasure in the simple things in life. His untapped innocence was more than to be admired from a human, who if allowed to grow older, would one day become a hardened killing machine.

      Of course at his age, he never actually thought about having to kill someone, or being killed himself. He just wanted to fly them. The majestic aircraft were sleek and fast, all of the qualities a young male could want.

"Jason, come in honey."

"Aww mom, do I have to?"

"Jason Tillerman, get inside now."

"I'm coming, I'm coming. Sheesh."

      He trudged disheartened inside, where to his surprise several men were standing around the office table. He recognized one of them as his father and wanted to run up to him, but one of the men closed the heavy oak doors. The click of the lock signaling that he wasn't meant to hear anything they had to say.

"Mom, why are those men in there?" He looked at his mom, who had a somewhat contorted expression.

"Honey, don't you think it's time to get a bath?"

"But mom...." He started to protest, but it was a battle he couldn't win.

"No siree. You head upstairs right this instance and get yourself a bath. When you get down here dinner will be ready, so hurry up."

      He rushed upstairs as fast as he could, and in fifteen minutes there was not a speck of dirt to be found on his body. He quickly dried off and ran downstairs, he had left his shoes off in the hopes of sneaking up on his mom.

      The doors to his father's office were once again opened and all of the men inside had apparently left. The voices of his parents permeated through the house, but he could barely hear them.

"But you can't! What about me and Jason, who will be hear to protect us?"

"It's alright, I asked Mr. Zucker down the road to check up on you, and he said he would do so twice a day."

"It's not the same Terence. It's just not. Why do you have to go? Can't someone else?"

"Honey, I don't know if you have watched the news anytime in the last five years, but we're at war. The UNSC is getting their asses handed to them and they need every man and woman they can get. I have to go."

"What about Jason, what do I tell him?"

"Tell me what mommy?" Jason asked as he entered the kitchen.

"Oh! Jason, hey baby."

"Tell me what?"

      His father walked over to him, and took a squatting positiion as he grasped his shoulders. The look in his eye made what was coming evident, and it wasn't good news.

"Son, daddy has to go away soon. I'm gonna go fly one of those Longswords you see outside."

      "NOOO!! Daddy you can't." Tears were forming in the corners of his eyes. He beat on his dad's chest with all of his might, but nothing he did had any effect. No amount of beating would stop him, and his father hugged him tightly.

      "I won't be gone long, I promise. Me and the guys are gonna go help kill some covenant. And when I get done doing that, I'm coming home, and we're gonna take a big vacation. On one of those fancy AeroWak's you wanted to get on. How does that sound?"

      He tried to suck up the his emotions and be tough for his dad, but he was still red in the cheeks and breathing deeply.

"You're going to be the man of the town now, can you handle that?"

"The whole town? What about Mr. Palmer and McCallister?"

      "They're going with daddy too. You'll be the oldest man in the town besides old man Zucker. But we both know you'd win that fight." They both laughed and his dad ran his fingers through his hair. "How bout we get some grub? I'm starving."

      They sat down at the table full of Tendon Turkey's and roast ham. The steaming pot of mashed potatoes and gravy was calling to him, as were the several delicious casseroles sitting at the buffet. He was amazed at how large this dinner was compared to their usual one. His fork penetrated the gooey cheese with reckless abandon, but his dad stopped him.

"You will say grace before you eat."

"Aww dad, do I have to?"

"You were the first to reach for food, and that means you say grace, you know how it works."

      "Alright. Dear lord, thank you for this food which you have provided us, and please kill some covenant for us." He stared at his dad through the slit in his eyelid as he said this, and his dad had a brief moment of regret flash across his face. "How was that dad?" That was great son.

      After dinner his father gave him the longest hug he had ever received, kissed him on the forehead, and then tucked him into bed, even reading him a book before turning off the light and disappearing down the hallway.

      Something was wrong, he had slept to late. He could tell something was different. He kicked the covers off of himself and ran to his parent's room. EMPTY! He ran back to the stairwell and descended as fast as his little feet could carry him.

      The sound of bacon cooking eased his unrest somewhat, and he skipped into the large room. His dad was nowhere to be found though, and his mom had said nothing to him so far.

"Where's dad?"

"He's gone. He left this morning."

"He didn't even tell me goodbye."

"He did, but you were asleep. He left this here for you."

"What is it?"

"I don't know, he told me not to open it."

      Jason was amazed, he was getting a present and it wasn't even his birthday. He ran over to the counter, on which a fairly large tin box was situated. He nearly fell out of his chair as the lid suddenly popped open, revealing the bounty inside.

      There was some paper inside, with something written on it, and some other things. He put the letter next to his mother, and then went back to investigate the box. Inside were a pair of dogtags belonging to his father, several medals, a beret, a patch with two lightning bolts intersecting on the words "Winners never quit, and quitters always die" written on it. He took them one by one out of hte box and set them on the table, and was shocked to find a pistol.

      He recognized it, it was his father's very own UNSC Ace's pistol. The intricate gold lettering along the grip read ACE "Tack". It was heavy in his palm, and he wasn't sure if he would even be able to fire it if the need arose. His gaze on the weapon was broken by the sound of his mother crying.

"What is it mom?"

"This note. It's for you."

"Read it to me."

      It took all she could do to read the letter aloud, and finally took several deep breaths and began.

      Dear Jason,
I have gone off to do something for you and your mother. I am going to fight to the end for you, even if that means I may die. I hope this won't happen, but should the occasion arise, always remember I love you. Take care of mommy, and never let anything happen to her. Stay good, and I hope when you get older you will understand what it is I am trying to do for you. The gifts I have left you are from my stay in the military, and maybe one day you will appreciate them as well. Whatever you do, never give up the fight for freedom Jason, never.

      The battle had been raging for hours, and the losses on both sides were rising quickly. Eagle-Eye had run out of ammo for his rifle long ago, and taken up to the close-range fighting his marine counterparts had been in all morning.

      His aim with the pistol was as deadly as with the high-powered rifle he was so perficient with. Grunts dropped from the single bullets placed into their skulls by his team's hand, and they had even managed to slaughter two elites and a hunter.

      The covenant had retreated to inside of their compound, and many of the booby traps had long gone off. From now on it was going to be a brutal game of hide and seek, and a close quarters game he wasn't used to playing.

"Damnit, why don't they just keep bombing the hell out of this place? Why is the Colonel making us go in there when he can just obliterate it with the mortars and rockets?"

"Johnson said something about a box. They're looking for some sort of thing we've never seen before, and are afraid of blowing it to hell."

"Then why don't they come in here and get it."

"Because brass never get's THEIR feet dirty."

"Oh right, that's just us."

      Eagle-Eye and Quickshot were towards the rear of one of the four huge lines of marines about to launch a strike at the heart of the covenant formation. Although not extremely accurate as a weapon as he would have preferred, he would much rather have a shotgun over the pistol in his hands.

      They started rushing the base in pairs of two, with easily fifty rows in each group. The leader of the attack, Captain Jackson, was speaking into his radio as they entered the base.

"What the hell happened to team four? I want that HE now."

"Sorry sir, scans show that team four has been disengaged. They aren't there."

"Damnit. Well get me Capulet, and tell him this battle just turned ugly."

"Capulet has been engaged sir, I will tell him as soon as possible though."

      The news of the Suncoast's engagement was an even darker page in this ominous chapter of Jackson's week. Without the Suncoast, thousands upon thousands of covenant would embark on the planet, killing everyone on it, and leaving with what the UNSC believed was so important to the war effort.

      The line quickly shortened, and the sound of heavy gun fire and grenades echoed through the complex. It was a helluva day, and about to get a lot worse.

"Dear lord,here I go!" He shouted as he cocked his shotgun and entered the fray.