Mist: Chapter 1
Posted By: Winters<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 30 December 2004, 9:06 AM
Author's Notes: After reading this, I know you'll have the "what's this have to do with the prologue?" feeling. But trust me, the connection comes much later.
Also, I forgot to put the code in earlier, so here it is:
bold: Place or location names to indicate viewpoint shifts.
italic: Personal thoughts, written material, or points of emphasis.
Chapter 1: Battlefield Woes
Aeola, in the Fenris System
Aeola. Such a pretty name for such an uninspiring fog world. Aeola, located well inside of official UNSC-known space, was ironically totally unknown to anybody except for several high ranking officers in ONI, two UNSC destroyers, a force of Marines, 2 billion colonists, and the entire Covenant armada. The only thing that made Aeola special from any other world was its unique orbit. Rather than orbiting around one sun, this planet simultaneously orbited around two suns in a figure 8 loop. This odd configuration of planets and stars created massive, unexplainable electromagnetic fields, which fortunately for the humans, the Covenant ships could not tolerate for some reason. Many hypothesized that the combined magnetic fields from both suns and Aeola disrupted the plasma energy that powers the Covenant ships, making them unable to fire their weapons and sometimes causing engine failures.
Though that didn't mean UNSC ships were wholly unaffected as well. The magnetic fields played havoc with communications and sensor equipment, giving countless Navy techs fits.
Even though this system was clearly hazardous to both the Covenant and Humanity, both forces had very large military presences either near or on the planet. The Covenant had a ring of warships surrounding the system, keeping a close eye, while the planet itself had dozens of orbital shipyards and secret weapons labs scattered all over the surface of the planet.
Aeola itself was home to about 2 billion human colonists. Most were scattered around the planet in small towns and even villages, and there were actually very few major cities. This made the planet seem very rural and undeveloped. Also, many people would've been under the misconception that having to orbit two suns would make the planet extremely hot. Actually, it couldn't be farther from the truth. The atmospheric conditions blocked out a significant amount of solar radiation, making Aeola very cool and very foggy. Every day, it wasn't a question of whether it was going to be foggy or not, just how thick it was going to be.
"Hey, El Tee!"
Lieutenant Karla Wellings looked up from her Warthog to see who it was. She saw a young Marine huffing and puffing in her direction. His unit patch suggested he was in her unit, but she could not recall seeing him before. That just meant one thing. Replacement.
"What is it," Karla took a quick glance at his Identify Freind Foe signal, "Boxer?"
"Captain Armbruster is asking for you! Says its important."
Great, over 300 combat missions against the Covenant, and I don't even get a scratch. Get transferred back to my home colony, and my CO gets me killed on the first day by sending me on another half-baked patrol.
Karla sighed, muttered something under breath, and turned to the young Marine.
"Where is he?"
"Great. Go tell him I'm on the way. And go check on second squad while you're at it. See if they got that roadblock set up on the east side of town."
Boxer gave a quick salute and bounded off into the fog.
Karla just stood there for a moment, wondering how long that kid would last, when she slammed her Warthogs hood down and started walking to the Company HQ. She really had no idea where it was, but she had the general idea that it would be over at the town hall. They always tended to put them in the most obvious places. It at least made it easy to find. Wellings stopped for a second and took the moment to absorb her surroundings. It has been quite a while since she had last seen home. Even with an entire Covenant army swarming all over the place, nothing seemed to have changed much around here.
Karla continued walking through the streets. Right now, her company, the Death's Heads, aka D Company, was stationed in the town of Kenwood, since it held a bridge that was vital to civilian evacuation. Even though there really wasn't much chance the Covenant would glass the planet, that didn't stop them from landing huge armies on the planet surface. Right now, there were only five thousand Marines in the area, with over forty towns spanning hundreds of miles. Covering all of these locations with such limited resources proved all but impossible, so every town was advised to evacuate to the capital city of Lorain. What made Lorain so special was that it was the largest city in the area, it had a permanent military installation, and it held the fusion reactors that were vital in powering the orbital shipyards. Right now, the Kenwood Bridge was the only avenue of escape from the Covenant for every town on the north side of that river, and the stream of civilian vehicles crossing the bridge still showed no sign of ending.
As for her company, the Death's Heads, she was in command of its mechanized platoon. A unit exclusively made up of Warthogs. This gave the Death's Heads unparalleled mobility and speed, making them one of the more dangerous Marine units. Unfortunately, their combat effectiveness was not the result of exemplary leadership from the higher brass, but rather the lower ranking officers and NCOs who had the initiative and courage to hold the company together and salvage success from poor planning and intelligence. The unfortunate result was that higher ranking officers often took the credit for their accomplishments and used them as excuses to climb even higher up the promotion ladder.
Captain Armbruster was one such man. He made no attempt to get to know his men. He just thought up of the best way to get them all killed, convinced the top brass to put their stamp of approval on it, and send the Death's Heads into yet another suicide mission that would presumably fail, and when Karla and her fellow Marines managed to win despite overwhelming odds, the Captain gained even more favor with the top brass, convincing them to approve even more hairbrained missions that only the craziest Helljumpers would accept. It was basically a no-win scenario for Karla and her Marines.
At least in the Helljumpers, you died fighting the Covenant, not from stupid decisions...
Karla's thoughts were immediatly interrupted by a very shrill and very familiar voice. She looked up and saw Captain Armbruster storming over, blowing off steam as if the Covenant were right at his doorstep.
"Lieutenant Wellings! Its about damn time you got here! It seems that your father's habit of being late all the time has rubbed off on you!"
Karla stopped for a second and added another though to her previous one.
...and not from fighting each other.
As always, Captain Armbruster was in a foul mood, especially when he started a conversation with her. The Captain just loved sending her on the suicide missions and making snide remarks on her father. Karla suspected that Armbruster's grudge against her had something to do with her father before he disappeared.
That still didn't mean she wouldn't snipe at the man's pride whenever they met. She answered with her usual sarcastic greeting for him.
"I'm sorry, but it was my sister's birthday. I was out getting her a present, sir."
If it was even possible, Armbruster grew even more red faced and his shrill speech started to devolve into blubbering.
"You will treat superior officers with respect, lieutenant! It wasn't your sister's birthday last week, and I'm very sure it isn't her birthday today!"
Everybody else in the room shook their heads and went back to their tasks. These verbal matches happened all the time, and interfering would just put them in between the two of the most ill-tempered officers in the entire UNSC Marine Corps.