Casualties of War Part 2
Posted By: Tom Murphy<email@example.com>
Date: 28 January 2002, 7:32 pm
In about seven hours we were out of the country-sized battleground and on our way through the doors to the barracks. The barracks were the most unsafe to be around these times because they were easily seen and more easily bombed. Air raids were constantly being held around the borders.
There were beds in the barracks but nobody slept in them. I always thought they were only for show. But obviously the general is feeling extremely confident because we were all going to sleep in the building.
The building consisted of about five rooms full of standard white covered bunk beds and a few chests to keep your belonging in. There were also a few large halls, which were lit up by hanging light bulbs. There was also the mess hall, which no longer served food. Lastly, was the study that was well lit and full of books. Old books.
No one really wrote anymore because there were movies. Paper pens and pencils had become delicacies and to see a tree being torn down to make one of those was even more rare. In fact, when I was growing up, during my last few years of schooling I had to watch movies such as Lord of the Flies or The Prince and write reflections on each part. I'm told the movies were based on old books.
I was in a dark room, which had unpainted walls of gray plywood and a few bunk beds. I was on the top bed and lying down with my hand behind my head replaying exactly what had happened on the field. Then a private burst in through the door and told us to report to the mess hall.
When I got there I saw the rows and rows of tables all lined up as if it were a cafeteria and the small serving line room. I found the three who were left from my brigade and sat next to them. The one who had been weeping in the truck had let tears fall down his face the whole way here, and I could see now he had dark circles under his eyes and his hair looked like someone had tried to spike it up. This should never happen.
I looked up to the front of the room, near where we had come in and saw the general speaking to someone. General Hawke was a balding man around forty-five, his face was deeply wrinkled and his eyes showed more pain than I thought existed. He had been awarded four Purple Hearts and one Medal of Honor. He wore and dark gray commando suit, which was decorated with several medals and stars.
Once he had finished speaking to the man next to him he turned to all of us and started to speak. "I'm afraid I have some disturbing news for you all," he said glumly, "You were pulled off the battlefield because-"he paused and drew in a deep breath, "The colony of nearly forty thousand humans has been destroyed."
Everyone just stared completely shocked, at him for a few moments. "What planet, sir?"
The general gave him a somewhat angry glare, but then proceeded to answer. "Felix- it was Felix.
"Little is known about who did this, but we know that it wasn't a human force. The Felix government sent in one last distress call muttering some jumbled and inscrutable words into the microphone, we have our best men with our most advanced technology trying to figure out what was said. We don't know how many survivors there were," he paused and looked around the room nervously, "if any. "Every planet inhabited by man has been warned about these tragic events and I am told each one is assembling an army. The rulers of Earth are now in a meeting that will change the history, and the future, of mankind forever. A peace treaty between all nations is under negotiations at the moment, and they are in the process of creating an alliance between all humans." The captain finished what he was saying and put his hands behind his back and looked at the floor, fidgeting. A man at the table in front me raised his hand slightly. The captain looked back up and began scanning across the room, saw the man's hand and asked him what he wanted. "What about Felix, sir?" "I- I don't know." He gave the room one last glanced and walked out the back door. Moments later we were being ordered to head back to our sleeping quarters. I took off my clothes and lay down in my bed staring up at the blank ceiling. I had never even heard of the planet the captain had mentioned but apparently it held some sort of sentimental value to him- he looked so pained. More than usual. I knew Felix was a Greek or Roman God but nothing more. They named all the planets after ancient Gods. Buddha, Mars, Venus, or Jesus. There were tons of new planets that had been discovered, I hadn't even heard of most of them. My thought went on and on all through the night, never stopping to give me rest, each thought springing a new question. I eventually fell asleep, although I don't know how late it must have been. The next morning I woke up much later than I thought the captain would have let us. It was almost noon, and I really needed the sleep. I went to find the mess hall and was surprised to see they actually had food waiting for us. It didn't look very good, but at that point I would have eaten almost anything. While I was eating, many of the other soldiers drifted into the room groggily and without any energy. When it looked like everyone was present they started making announcements. "In light of the events that recently occurred we let you sleep in and are serving you food. After you all were probably asleep last night a peace treaty was formed between every nation on Earth, and even those new ones that were formed off the Earth. The alliance is still being worked on but will hopefully be finished by the end of the day. Also, we need to speak with the following people: Smith, Julius; a Arthur, Ronald;" Ronald Arthur, I suddenly realized that was my name and looked around the room to see what Smith was doing. I saw him walking up to the front of the mess hall and followed him. I stood next to the speaker and waited patiently for him to finish calling names, "Um- Rohin..ee?... oosh? Oh, Rohineeosh, James." There were now eight of us up there and I looked around curiously from face to face. "Good morning gentlemen, the captain will be with you in a moment. Please this way." He gave us a brief nod and began walking out the back door. We followed him out and through the narrow hallways and into the study. There were red and green shelves lining every wall that were packed full of books. Each one looked a million years old but had some sort of aurora to it that made me want to pick it up and flip through the pages. The room was quiet and there were comfortable looking red velvet couches to the right of the door. The captain was sitting at one of them with one leg propped up on another, and scratching his head as if he were thinking hard about something. "Have a seat soldiers." He said tonelessly. We all sat down at the couch across from him and waited nervously for what he would say next. "As you know, the planet Felix has been captured by an unknown force. One that was able to take over an entire planet without us even knowing they existed. Somehow we need to find out what they are- or who they are. The President wants me to assemble a team that will go on a covert operation to Felix, and find out as much as they can. Each of you has been chosen for your special and unique talents in the Art of War. When I say this, try to remember, you may be a good sniper, or pilot, of driver, or whatever it is your good at, but you are only human. Understand?" "Yes, sir," we all chorused. He nodded slightly and then began speaking again, "I'm sure you have already figured out that it is you eight that I have chosen to go." We all gave a brief nod or grunt and he continued, "Good. I'm sorry to have to do this to you but we will be leaving in one day. So pack up and write to your family," he stopped for a moment, "It could be your last chance." At this we all got up and walked out the door and to our quarters.
I had to give my family a letter before I left. So I picked up my message recorder and started filming myself. Then I had a thought. I put the camera down and went into the study. "Captain," I said, "Is there any paper and um- writing utensils in here?"
"You have your own message recorder." He said.
"No I mean- paper," this time I said with and emphasis on the word.
He cocked an eyebrow at me and then got up and got me some paper and a pencil, I think it was called. In the letter I told them all about what was happening but I couldn't tell them everything. I just said, 'I have to go somewhere, and I might not be back for a long, long time. I'm going to miss you.'
After I was finished I thanked the Captain Hawke for the help but he stopped me before I left and told me to follow him. "Don't show anyone this." He said to me, standing near a bookcase. He pushed the bookcase over to the right revealing a small door way with stairs leading down it. He put one foot on the footstep and turned back and gave me the signal to follow. I followed him down the stairs and into the basement. He flicked a light switch and eight fluorescent lights turned on overhead and lit up the room brightly. He flicked another switch and the bookcase rolled its way back into place. In front of me were shelves and shelves of weapons. He started walking down along the side of them, almost hugging the wall until he got the fourth shelf over. I followed him and he walked down a little ways in between two shelves and he stopped at place and stared respectfully at one gun. "See this Private? This is a Class A weapon. A sniper rifle designed specifically for the military and far to dangerous to be released to the public. There were only five hundred of these made. The scope can go eleven miles and still give you a decent shot at something. The accuracy on the weapon is just as amazing. Wherever your cross hairs are aimed, is where that bullet is going. The gun fires with such immense power that it has been seen to go right through two layers of concrete. Of course, you couldn't take an army on by yourself with it, but it is truly a magnificent weapon. It was a long black rifle designed the same way as most sniper rifles except in the back, above the butt and below the scope, there is a small screen that had the letters thermal heat reader. The captain picked up the gun carefully and handed it to me. "I want you to have this weapon Private. Take good care of it." "Don't you want it, sir?" "Me? No, no, no, no. You have that. I'm using this." He picked up a gun that looked like a regular automatic but I knew what it really was. It fired twenty bullets a second, with surprising accuracy for an automatic and with almost as much power as the sniper rifle. That was a gun for a lunatic. The Z-7400. I went upstairs and my new gun away. I wandered around aimlessly for a short while wondering what to do next. I didn't really have anything of value with my so I just sat around all day wondering what exactly it was going to be like. Wondering who these mystery attackers were. Hours went by and I finished my two extra meals of the day and dragged myself off to bed. Once again I found myself awake until almost dawn, until my eyes finally shut and I fell into a deep slumber. It seemed like only ten minutes later someone was nudging me repeatedly to wake up. I opened my eyes wearily and turned my head to face whoever it was. It was a young man, maybe in his twenties, who had been assigned to come with us, he was the fifth name called. He had a smooth face and jet-black hair. His eyes were the same and he was already wearing his uniform. Commando pants and a camo shirt. "Wake up," he said somewhat gently. We gotta' go, man." I looked at the nametag on his shirt. Pvt. Keyes. I lifted my legs out from under the covers and got up and got dressed. Afterwards I followed Keyes out to the Mess Hall where Captain Hawke was waiting for us. "Alright men, follow me. There's a ship outside waiting for us." Upon hearing this I became extremely nervous because I suddenly remembered I had never left Earth before. I had never even seen a space ship for my own eyes. But here was one now. It was somewhat small for a ship, but they're only nine of us, including the captain. It had a pointed nose and a rectangular top. In the back there were double doors that opened away from each other. The ship looked like it had just been painted, because it was very clean and along the side, in letters as white as teeth was, PELICAN. "In ya' go, boys," the captain ordered us. I hopped into the back and made may way to the forth seat back on the left side. I took a seat and waited until everyone else was in. When we all were situated the captain started telling us how things would go. "Here's the deal, men. This will be a long ride. We'll be going just under five thousand miles an hour, and should arrive near the moon of the planet in about eight hours. When we get there you will wait patiently," he said eying each of us suspiciously, "for further instructions. Is that understood?" "Sir, yes, sir!" we all replied together. "Okay, here we go. Start the engines, and lets move." From the cockpit I could hear one woman talking to another, the first said, "I'll let you bring us up Alice." Then the second voice, which sounded African-American replied, "Thanks, but please, I want to be called Foe Hammer while I'm behind the wheel." There was then a laugh and ship started rumbling slightly, and the G-Forces kicked in making us all lean this way and that. It seemed in seconds we were on our way through the atmosphere and everything was getting hot. We were on our way to decide the future. Because of my lack of sleep the night before, I almost immediately fell asleep once we got into space. While I was sleeping I dreamt about what it would be like once we reached Felix. It began with the doors of the ship opening and us quietly getting out. We were in the middle of a jungle sort of area where trees shot up all around us and cast a dark shadow over the muddy ground. Suddenly the trees on my left started shaking violently and our entire group propped our guns up and stared at them. Then a huge greenish blue animal with tentacles jumped out at us and he left a trail of drool as he flew through the air. One tentacle wrapped around the man next to me and with a single movement, cracked his neck. I woke up sweating. "Hey! Just in time Arthur, we're just about there," Keyes said to me. I opened my eyes and squinted as the light flooded into them. "Huh?" I asked groggily.
"We're going to be landing on the second moon of Felix and once there we will be heading into another ship called the Meriwether Lewis. From there we will fly into through the Felix atmosphere and into a jungle area. We think this will provide us with better hiding and less obstacles. Near the outskirts of the jungle is the communication building where we received our last message.
"Speaking of which, the message has been decoded and we have realized it is an unknown language. Actually, it is two languages, to my understanding. One of which has been partly translated into, 'For our god, we will-', they haven't finished the rest. So we have guessed that it could be some weird cult or religion of some kind of violent protest for rights," the captain rolled his eyes, "Anyway, we'll be landing in about five or ten minutes." He gave one final glance at his watch and then sat back down on the black seat behind him.
Five minutes later the vehicle came to a slow stop and the sound of something mechanical outside connection to our ship drifted into my ears. Then the co-pilot, Alice, told us everything was ready and the captain pushed the doors open and there was a small hallway for us to go into an even smaller ship.
I was told though, that ship had cloaking and would make it up to four times easier for us to get in with out being noticed. On this short ride Captain Hawke gave us each an earpiece so we could all communicate no matter where we were. We were also given a few extra garments including bulletproof vests and camo colored facemasks.
In a short while that ship had touched down on a muddy and watery ground and the doors were open and we all stepping out cautiously.
"Alright soldiers, here's what I'm gonna' do for you all. You can just wait here for a few moments, I'm gonna' scout ahead and see what's goin on and if there is any major threat near by. You just wait here and stay safe.
"And if you don't come back captain?"
"I'll come back, private." Hawke gave us a reassuring look and then disappeared into the foliage.
"Aw, is poor little Bob worried?" Smith asked in a condescending tone.
"Bob?" I asked.
"Well since what's his name's name is so hard to pronounce we just call him Bob. It's easier." He shrugged.
I looked at Bob and saw he was just looking at the ground and kicking dirt up with his combat boot. I smiled slightly but then I heard the bush rustle slightly. Everyone else heard it to and we all had our weapons propped up and aimed at the bushes. "What the Hell?!" Keyes said.