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Warrior's Fate: Prologue- The Lucky Ones
Posted By: maxx<spiritedge@yahoo.com>
Date: 16 March 2005, 7:41 AM

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Viking Patrol, Task Force 152
*Overview of Operation Bear Trap: TF 152 to aid in capture of Covenant outpost (AgaC1), cease equipment/weapons/material, prisoners where possible.
Patrol Designation: Viking
Elements: Viking-1 (8), Viking-2 (8) fro. 3rd ODST Btn. SpecGru Bravo Co.
Objective: multiple ion cannons on moon surface impede full Task Force landing. ODST SpecGru patrols to a) effect covert drop to surface, b) locate and mark cannons for surgical strike, c) evade enemy contact and await main force landing.
Viking AO: Tango Blue Sector
Outcome: Failure
[Patrol mis-dropped...covert insertion compromised. Lost comm. Heavy contact.]
Casualties: 10 KIA, 3 MIA (presumed KIA), 2 WIA

      A soft tap on the shoulder pulled Daryl Tai out of his dark sleep. The nurse standing above his bed smiled down sympathetically at the young corporal.
      "I heard you yelling a bit in your sleep, Tai. When I came in, you were tossing back and forth...and breathing pretty hard too. Having more nightmares, eh?" she asked soothingly.
He blinked groggily as he tried to focus on her face. The vision in his new left eye was still somewhat blurry, and it itched a little. He tried to smile back as he replied. "Yeah, but its okay. I never remember the dreams after I wake up anyway."
      "That's probably a good thing," she commented as she adjusted the bed to a sitting up position. "Now lets take a look at that cloned eye." She examined it closely, instructing him to look in different directions. "Its healing good...so is your skin around the reconstructed cheekbone," she nodded with approval. "Looks nice. I bet the girls are gonna love it." She didn't sound too convinced of that, but he appreciated the effort.
      The nurse went on to examine his other injuries, intermittently stopping to comment on the great progress he was making in his recovery. Lastly, she paid particularly close attention to his prosthetic hand. Light glinted off the metallic hand as he moved it about. The fingers whirred with soft mechanical noises as he shifted and flexed them. "This is looking good also," she commented. "You won't be writing calligraphy or making clay sculptures with it, but its good enough to hold a rifle, isn't it?"
      "That's all an ODST jarhead needs," Daryl replied grimly.
      She was still bothered by the appearance of the mechanical prosthetic, which was attached where his hand had been blown off, from the forearm down.
      "Now kid, are you absolutely sure that you don't want to add a cosmetic layer over this thing? I guarantee that it'll match your skin tone."
      He shook his head, "I'm sure, ma'am. I don't like those rubber skins. They just don't look anything close to real. To me, they look a lot creepier than the naked metal."
      "Suit yourself, Marine," she nodded at him with compassionate eyes. "I know you probably wish we could've just put a cloned hand on you, but bottom line is that they take too long to heal, and the Marines need you combat functional again ASAP. Besides, they're expensive."
      "I know, ma'am. Its no big deal," he assured her. "The Corps can't pay, and I sure as hell can't spend that much of my own money right now."
      The nurse typed some updates into her data pad as she continued talking to him. "Well, everything looks good. So we'll be able to discharge you out of the hospital this afternoon, as scheduled. I also want to let you know that two other guys who were on the mission will be picking you up."
      He shot an urgent glance at her. "Really? Who is it? Who else made it out?" he asked excitedly.
      She looked down at her data pad again. "Um, let's see...one of them is a Master Gunnery Sergeant Crowe...and the other is a Sergeant Moran."
      "Is there anyone else? Did anyone else make it out?" he persisted.
      She looked at him apologetically. "I really don't know, son. I'm sorry." She gave him a maternal hug before leaving him alone in the room again.
      So Master Crowe and 'Moron' Moran had made it out, Daryl thought to himself. They had both been with Viking One. Daryl wanted urgently to know if anyone else from that eight-man chalk had survived. He himself had been with the second chalk, and was the sole survivor from his group. He spent the next hour watching the clock, anxiously anticipating Crowe and Moran's arrival...

      "There you are, kid!" Master Gunny Crowe bellowed as he walked in.
      "You backwater colony mutt, we're taking you back to base. And that means no more being pampered by nurses," came Moran's distinct London accent behind him.
      "Well I'd rather be escorted out by a couple jackals than two nasty helljumpers as ugly as you guys are," Daryl retorted with a grin. He felt a sudden wave of emotion sweep over him as two comrades he had thought dead now stood before him. He fought to stifle back a few tears, knowing that if Moran saw him cry he would never hear the end of it.
      Moran made a mock-disgusted face at him. "Well I'm happy to see you too, leatherneck. You're a sorry excuse for a Marine, you wanker!" They all chuckled for a moment.
      Anxious to have questions answered, Daryl shifted to a more serious line of conversation. "I thought you guys were dead, bro. No one told me anyone else made it out, until today. What happened to the others in your chalk? Ray, Legs, Yuri, and the rest...did anyone else make it out?"
      Moran's mood instantly changed, pain written in his eyes. "They're all dead, mate. We're sure of it."
      "Yuri, Legs, and Gaustad might still be listed as MIAs," Crowe jumped in, "but there's no chance they survived."
      "The same with the rest of my chalk," Daryl replied somberly.
      The three Marines fell silent for a few moments, their thoughts focused on thirteen lost comrades. What the hell had gone wrong?
      When Crowe broke the silence, it was as if in response to that unspoken question.
      "Look Tai, all three of us need answers. So you'll be glad to know that the colonel has agreed to meet with us in a private conference, before our official debriefing. He'll be returning to base tomorrow, and our meeting is scheduled for the morning after. I suggest you think back on everything that happened during the op, and come to the meeting prepared with every question that needs answering."
      Moran nodded sadly. "Yeah, and I think you ought to keep in mind that we're probably not going to like some of his explanations."
      "That was one blinding mess down there, Tai. I wish your first major op with the unit could've went better."
      Perhaps noticing that Daryl was hiding strong emotions, the Englishman reached down and took his good hand in a brotherly grip, locking eyes with him. "Just remember this, mate: it doesn't get any worse than what happened down there. But guess what? You're still alive! And that which does not kill us makes us stronger."
      Feeling at a loss for words, Daryl silently nodded his appreciation for the encouragement. Somehow he already knew that the events of their tragic mission would stay with him forever...