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A Marine's Tale: Boot
Posted By: pj-NYkr90<phantomf4@earthlink.net>
Date: 23 July 2003, 11:38 PM

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Saturday, September 19th, 2551

      I feel her warm embrace in everything around me; her hug is like the air around me, warm and soothing. She is my best friend. She has been for years. I bolt up from the cot and find myself awake in a cold sweat. The warm air of the swamp flows through the barracks freely; the door is open, merely a group of strings waving in the air. I scan my surroundings and see nothing but the smog of swamp air. That's what else I forgot. I forgot to tell her I was leaving. Shit. I get out of bed and pull on my fatigues and other various items. I guess I can put on my armor, we'll be woken up soon. I slip into it and strap it on. I pull out my assault rifle from the rack. I walk out of the barracks and into the steamy, muggy, and humid swamp air.
      I look and sees that the cafeteria lights are on, the cooks busy making food. It's probably not for us. That would figure. But after taking a closer look around, I see that the Radio (I guess it's a radio station) station is open. Two guys are standing out the door, each with a piece of paper in their hands. I sling my rifle over my back and head on over. One guy is a short Hispanic dude; the other is an oriental guy, quite tall as well. I get in line behind them.

      "Corporal, you can get in line in front of me, sir! Oh, by the way, my name is Emanuel Sanchez. I'm in your squad, sir."

      "Thank you, sir. I'm Corporal Ryan Dunbar. So, where might you be from Emanuel?"

      "Sigma Octanus IV dude. Lived there all of my life sir."

      "I'm from Earth."

      "Whoa, the motherland. Dude, you are like a savior."

      "I doubt that. Who are you writing to?"

      "My mom, she's very sick, and I at least want to tell her I live her before she dies."

      "Damn, man, that must suck ass," I reply. I begin to feel emotional. That's one sad fuckin' story. It makes me feel I take things for granted.

      "I'm writin' to my girl. She's back on Earth too. I can see her now, her wavy blonde hair, he emerald green eyes, and her full, red lips."

      "What's her name?"


      "Man, I just may wanna go out with her, the way you describe her."

      "Watch it man, that's my girl."

      "Oh, yeah, right."

      "Alright, well, I'll talk to you later."

      "Yeah, see ya later man, bye." I walk forward when the oriental dude left. I pulled the seat out, and feed the letter into the transmitter device, and walk away. Sanchez moves forward and does as I did. I walk back to my barracks. I look at my watch and see it says 0345AM. Fifteen minutes left till our reveille. I lie down in my cot and rest. I'm not going to get much more sleep. I know that. But all the sleep will count.
       As soon as I closed my eyes, I opened them, it seems like at least. The Staff Sergeant enters, followed by a couple of ODSTs. I wake up quick for I see that they have shock-rods. I'm not in the mood to get shocked by a big guy.

      "Being prepared are we Corporal, what were you in, Boy Scouts or somethin'," questions West. He apparently sees that I'm in my armor.

      "Yes sir, I was," I reply.

      "Well, we'll need your experience in the field later. Alright, gather your men Corporal, and we'll be outside."

      "Sir, yes sir! Alright, first squad, lets go." The squad responds with a series of moans and grunts; No one wants to get up this early.

      "Com'n guys, let's go." No one rises, let alone takes me seriously.

      "Goddamnit you stupid fucks, get the hell up before I put a round in your skull!" The barracks go quiet pretty much immediately. Everyone, even the Sarge, looks at me.

      "You'll make a fine leader one day son, just don't kill 'em this early," states West.

      "Thank you sir." My squad begins to rise up, with a new sense of respect for me. They know I mean business and I'm not gonna take their shit.

      "Alright, let's get suited up and armed. We'll get formed up in the courtyard ASAP. You have five minutes."

      "Five minutes sir? With all due respect sir, that's a little short isn't it, sir," asks one of the soldiers.

      "Four minutes, Soldier." I'm beginning to be a prick. Sure enough, in a couple of minutes, my squad is ready.

      "Alright, follow me." We walk outside and form up in our ranks. We were the only team outside. Sergeant West climbs up onto the stage and gets up close to the podium. He hands his Sergeant Major something and tells him something in his ear.

      "Troops, attention," he bellows over the courtyard. We stood still and at attention. He walks over to me and hands me a folder. "Distribute these."

      "Yes sir." I pull out the folder's contents and hand back all but one packet. I place the folder between my armpit and body, and then flip through the packet's pages. Pictures of grotesque aliens (think they're aliens) fill the pages as well as statistics. A purple turret-like thing is on one page, something that looks like a plane, occupies another page. A tall, warrior alien, like what the ODSTs were dressed up as, was grouped with a smaller shielded alien on the third page. Then a hover-bike thingamajig and a short fucked up little bugger are on the last page.

      "These, are your enemies, troops. These are the bugs that have killed so many of our own brethren. You will see plenty of them around. But, when you do, you won't stare. You're gonna put two in it's chest and one in it's head. Can I get a ho-ah Sergeant?"

      "Ho-ah Sergeant!"

      "Now, 'cause ya'll got up so early, you're gonna leave for your training early," he says. My squad, including me, get irritated at this. But I always think too quickly.

      "…And, ya'll gonna get some real food. This'll be the last real food ya'll have for the next two weeks. Your suit's auto-feeders, they don't give you anything tasty, just enough to get ya by. You can take my word for it. Now, go to the cafeteria, fill up, and then you'll leave an hour before my gods are released. Unlike the others teams; hurry up 'fore I change my mind! Oh, and Corporal Dunbar, you will report to my tent as soon as you're done. Understood?"

      "Sir, yes sir."

      "Sergeant Major, dismiss the troops."

      "Troops, dismissed," barks the Sergeant Major. We are all happy over this new revelation. My team scurries quickly over to the cafeteria and loads up on chow. I put an egg and sausage sandwich on my tray, get three milks (I love milk…if ya catch my drift), and some cereal. Spotting Bynam, I walk over, and pull up a chair.


      "Hey, Corporal."

      "Wazzup, the food good?"

      "Like it is in the school cafeterias back home." I take a huge bite out of the sandwich, chew, and swallow.

      "Tangy, sorta. Yours?"


      "Well, looks like we got a full schedule up ahead of us. I was listinen' in on the Sergeants talkin' and one of 'em said somethin' like two-fifty klicks."

      "Damn. That's a lot."

      "Yeah I know, so in order to finish in two weeks, we gotta do somethin' like…12 miles a day….no….about 18 miles a day. That's about 1 1/3 mph, but then we have to calculate enemy resistance, terrain, weather, pack weight. Shit. Too much to think of."

      "Dude, we are not in school anymore. Don't overheat your brain before we get to kill somebody." I look at my watch and note that the time is 0432AM. We've got about thirty minutes left until we depart, that'll give us an hour to get at least two miles hopefully away from the Helljumpers.

      "I gotta go talk with Sarge. Be back in ten."

      "No prob man; I'll just help myself to your cereal and sandwich."

      "Touch my food, I'll shoot ya." Bynam chuckles to himself as I advance on the Sarge's tent. I'm about ten feet from it and he comes out to greet me.

      "Corporal, I've got something for you."

      "Yeah, what is it?"

      "Mission objectives, estimated enemy resistance…"

      "Estimated, what is that supposed to mean?"

      "I'm supposed to make this op as life like as possible, is that clear?"


      "May I continue?"

      "Yes sir."

      "Now, as I was saying, maps, available support, supply drop locations, intell, everything you'd be supplied in an actual op." West hands the package to me and pats me on the shoulder. "Good luck son."

      "Thank you sir." I salute and walk away. I look around the base for the last time and then jog to my troops. I go to my table and put the milk cartons in a small storage pack at my side and then bellow over the team's noise, "Troops, attention." Their noisy bickering and conversations cease immediately. They all look my way and then stand at attention.

      "We are going to get the hell outta here in a few minutes, so get ready. Make sure you have everything and meet me over there," I say as I point to a fountain near the camp's exit. Several troopers are already ready and they meet me over by the designated meeting ground. In a minute, they are all in front of me. I am proud to be in command of a branch of a highly prestigious organization. I will take my position seriously.

      "Alright, everybody ready?" I am answered by a series of yes's, grunts and moans.

      "Okay, with that cleared up and out of the way, let's move."

       We begin to march out of the camp and into the Rorbae Rainforests and beyond.

An hour later…

      I view the map and see that we are to be coming up to a Pelican Deployment base. A perfect opportunity to take advantage of this training mission.

      "Emanuel, can you come to the front of the line for a sec," I order over the COM.

      "By all means sir," he replies as quick as asked.

      I signal for the squad to halt and everybody, except for Emanuel, stops. Emanuel comes up on my right half crouching and jogging at the same time.

      "Sir, you wanted me sir?"

      "Yeah, lemme get the compass for a second."

      "Here sir," he says as he hands me the compass. I put it up to the map to see if we have the right bearing. Yes, it's right. Due north!

      "Alright, Emanuel, make sure we got nobody slackin' off; we're makin' good time now, three hours ahead of schedule, we don't wanna screw it up."

      "Yes sir."

      Now that I know we're on the right track, I know that we can move double time. I signal for them to speed it up as we get under way. This may be my first mistake. I begin to notice a break in the forest's lines; maybe this is the base. We continue running. Two bullets whiz past my face.

       "Everybody down!" I see tracers coming from every direction. Fuck. We're screwed.

       "Argh!" The first casualty. A round hit my gunner, Private Alan Deere, in his arm.

       "Fire all over," I yell. We spray bullets all around the ambush site. These hellish fighters are relentless. I prime and toss a grenade in the general direction of most of the sound. New idea. "Smoke 'em up guys!" I see the explosion, though it's only a stun grenade, and a guy fly out of the brush. Two more grenades fly their way and another enemy is downed. I see that this firefight is pointless. There are too many hiding in the brush for me to notice.

       "Gery, get me the Jackhammer," I yell over the sounds of battle.

       "Gottcha." Gery rushes over to me, bullets flying over his back, and hands me the Jackhammer. I aim it at the brush and let a round fly. Several men run out of that area, though their little run is futile, and the rocket hits. Three men go down, and two are lurched forward several yards. Two other enemy troops make a break for new cover and are quickly put down by my team's fire. "Alright, let's go!" We move out with a lot more caution. Bynam comes running up to my side and hands me a rod shaped device.

       "This is how they knew we were he," he states as he hands me the contraption.

       "What is it?"

       "A trip mine. They wait, we trip, they attack."

       "The base must know now, we gotta go faster. Bynam, take an advance team, two others, and see
it there are anymore of them."

       "Yes sir." We advance behind the shield of the advance team. Bynam picked up two more of them. He saves us two more battles. We reach the base in record time. West is one step ahead of me though. The Pelicans' fuel tanks have been drained and the security is hiked up.

       "Gery, again, I need the Jackhammer."

       "Roger," he says as he hands me the rocket launcher. I aim it at the fuel below one Pelican and let it rip. The fuel explodes and vaults the dropship in the air. The enemies are distracted if but only for a second, and we open fire. Hot plastic (these are stun rounds you know) rain down on the enemy. Most fall. Few stand to contest our rage, but we cannot be stopped. My squad and me run down the hill and make defensive positions around the nearest Pelican. Emanuel grabs a fuel pump and places it in the tank. He loads it up on fuel.

       "Who here knows how to fly?"

       "I do sir," replies the tall oriental man from the Radio Station.

       "Then get this show on the road and you'll be PFC!"

       "Yes sir!" He goes into the cockpit.

       "Let's load up troops." The squad got into the bay of the ship and strapped in. I feel the ship take to the air. This op is going over as soon as it began.

Friday, October 2nd, 2551

      We were really good off. But we didn't see the bastard with the rocket launcher. He hit the Pelican's engine and then we went down. Don't get me wrong, we did go a jump in our schedule, but, we paid for it; we have two guys injured, and all of us are bloodied up. This is one day till we are scheduled to end the op, but with all of our injuries… I just don't know. We reach the northernmost ridge. This is beginning to be hell on me and the men. We have to rest yet again. Everybody is tired. So am I. I hope we don't die out here. Oh shit, there's another one…

Next up:
A Marine's Tale: First Encounter