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The Hyacinth House (part 1)
Posted By: SeverianofUrth<residentpark@aol.com>
Date: 30 June 2004, 1:11 AM

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      A messiah stands, awaiting
      some primal call from above

      I was some yokel from the country before the war broke out.
      I was the literal farmboy, the yee-haw clan of the midwestern America, the tornado-suffering cousin-lovin' hick with a dirty accent and rough manners. I was just some boy with a smudged cheek from playing with the six-legged frogs who spat muck at you; I was just some hill-billy who caught the two-legged squids from the freshwater creeks and ate them raw and alive.
      I was Henry J. Dean, the poster boy of the propagandic war my beloved planet was suffering; I was the man who set from his backwater home and fought the buggers for humanity.

      But I was never a hero, as the holos make out. I never did anything. The press loved me because I was the only survivor of the Rascnak's Roughnecks; and I was supposedly good looking in a next-door white farmboy way.
      Want to hear my account? Want to hear my call, the birdcry of swooping owls and the prey that is the rat? The hillside of pockmarked corpses and littered limbs, scattered by some invisible sense of morbid appreciation for random, spastic pattern? Then read on.

      The war came upon my doorsteps.

      The Hyacinth House

      China had just recently won the battle of Beijing, having thrown reportedly three billion lives away on a mass, near-suicidal attack on the Covenant encampment there. Their citizens were armed with some smattering of modern and alien weaponry, along with some pre-Hegira weaponry such as M-16's and old Springfields.
      I go into such a detail about this particular battle, reader, because it reeks of what happened to me.
      The milita was sent into battle at midnight, whilst some thunderstorms rocked the sky above. Maybe it was some portent; maybe some prodigal raven flew above the milling masses, crying "Nevermore!" as the thunders boomed and the lightnings raged.
      Of course, the human capacity for interpretation of the natural into the supernatural never failed, but not in a good way. The good way would have been for them to take it as signs of doom; but they took it instead as a sign of coming victory.
      It was a victory, histories say. But having only five hundred thousand left of a three-billion strong army is not a victory.
      The UNSC fleet was occupied somewhere else at that time, in an ill attempt to defend the besieged city of London. So the milita faced the Covenant scourge alone. They faced with masses of bodies the molten rivers of plasma that had poured out of the Covenant forces that day.
      Guess who won?

      Stories abound of insane heroics that day, of unfeigned cruelty and unbound malice. Unchained passion and misguided empathy, of hate and an overriding sense of justice and vengeance for their homes.

      The Chinese won...

      Now, for me. I'll start with the battle. Then I'll tell about the motives, the reasoning behind such a skirmish... And the sacrifices many made, the price such men as I paid.

      The Battle, from the memoirs of Henry J. Dean

      "Come on, get over here!" The soldier, some youngster from the cities, said hurriedly, as he waved me over. "Come on!"
      I raced to him, terrified for myself and my family. He was behind what remained of the bank, it's walls having been torn down in the blast.
      He tossed me a pistol from his belt; I caught it, and hefted it with care. Every man past the age of thirteen had been required to go through the three-week training camp since the war, and I was familiar, if not comfortable, with the weapon.
      "Roughneck?" He asked, eyebrows raising in surprise. I smiled shamefully.
      "We called ourselves that in boot."
      He nodded, and merely muttered, "farmyard yokels..."

      I had already salvaged a helmet from the corpses that now littered the city, and looked in part a soldier that I was soon to become. My tattoo, gotten in some drunken reverie, spelled "Roughneck" upon my left arm in big, black letters in the same style as that of the official UNSC lettering. That is, stiff and boring.
      The soldier waved me forward, and motioned for me to race ahead, to another cover. I did, not knowing what he meant for me.
      I started racing ahead, running full speed with the M6D clutched in my hands, then suddenly- plasma started pouring in my direction. They melted the pavements, scattered the glass, broke the masonry; I froze like some deer caught in the headlights.
      I was the bait. The soldier then broke out in the different direction, running full speed.