A Marine;s Story Part 6

"The Memory Ends and Worst Fears Are Realized"

Joe took a moment to take in the terrain. It didn’t take very long. All Joe saw was mountainous mounds of dirt formed tall hills which had bunkers and anti-air turrets on them. Orange dirt blew up around them with the wind. In the distance Joe saw a human base. It had huge walls surrounding a central complex with four openings on each side. Two bunkers and two siege tanks, with shock cannons deployed, sat at each entrance. This base was far more protected than his last. “Where to?” Jon asked from behind. “Headquarters.” Tiffany answered for him. Two minutes into their trek to the base Mike, Jon, and Joe put their visors down and Tiffany pulled her goggles over her eyes. Although they were less than a mile from the base Joe could barely make it out in this storm. From what he saw it was a standard Terran base, buildings clustered close together. When they got to the east gates a guard asked for their names, ranks, and divisions. “Staff Sergeant Joe Tarn. This is Corporal Jon Rulli, Shadow Marshal Tiffany Duke, and Lance Corporal Mike Patterson. All of us are in the 390th infantry division.” Joe answered into his suits comm. system. The guard punched some buttons on his data pad and said, “You are to meet up with captain Drake Pitynski in his office. On the complete opposite side of the base.” “Thank you.” Joe said and as soon as the were out of distance from the guard Joe said, “Why is everything on the opposite side of where we are? Why can’t it be the next building down or something?” The rest laughed as the walked through the base. It was nearly deserted. Not many people were out running around like on Tyrador IX. It might have been because there was a storm going on right then but a base of this size must have people running around constantly. This place could have done with a roof too. Sure, it would have to be a little big but it would make things here go a lot more smoothly.

When they finally made their way to the other side of the base the found Drake’s office and walked in. There he was. Drake was there, standing right in front of them. As he turned to look at them Tiffany ran forward. She pulled him into a hug, which Joe thought would have been a difficult task seeing as how Drake was in full body armor. “Yes. It’s nice to see you too Tiffany. Now if you would please release me, we have some very important business to attend to.” Drake said pulling Tiffany’s arms off of him. He then walked forward to shake Joe, Jon, and Mike’s hands. Reaching Joe last, Joe finally saw Drake up close. He changed a lot from what Joe remembered. Drake used to have tan skin and long curly hair. Now his hair was short and unkempt. His skin had lost most of its color and he was now very pale. He also had numerous cuts and bruises on his face. But his smile remained. He took his seat at his desk and motioned for the others to sit as well. “Sir?” Joe asked, “What happened?” “As most of you know” Drake started, “I was ambushed by Zerg on the way up to HQ. Goddamn Transports were too lazy to bring us up there directly so we had to go by land.” he paused for a moment, sighed, and continued, “I was traveling with the 122nd mechanized division. They were kind enough to escort me up to HQ. About twenty minutes into the trip we took Zerg Mutalisk fire.” Joe reached back into his memory and he knew how Drake must have felt during that attack, “The mechs I was traveling with held them off with minimum casualties though. We started up our trek again. We moved a little faster this time knowing that we had let some of the Zerg fly away. Forty-five minutes from HQ we were hit again.

“My hunch was right in thinking that the Zerg we let go would return with more friends. They hit us on our right flank knowing that we had only open road to the front and back of us and a cliff to our left. We held them for a while and called in air support. It never came. We were slowly being killed by the beasts. The commander of the division took spines in his back and was killed. Command fell to me. I ordered an immediate retreat. We mounted up our vehicles during a lull in the battle. Having all vehicles out and safe was my main concern. So me and my crew were the last in the line of vehicles.

“The Zerg gave us a chase. Spines ricocheted off the hull and we ran over many Zerg who were dumb enough to go under our treads. The Mutalisks’ were far more devastating. Their acid rained death upon who ever was under it. Our vehicle was one of the first hit. I jumped out and started shooting. The rest of the team did the same and were eventually killed in this process. When the last man under my command was killed I ran for it. That’s when a spine was shot through upper left calf. I fell to the ground and passed out. I was surprised to awaken two hours later. All the Zerg had left. I got up and limped the seventy-nine remaining miles back to HQ. As I walked I noticed that not one of the vehicles from division 122nd made it back to base. I was devastated...” A long silence fallowed this story. Drake spoke again, “Anyway, that’s all in the past now. I have called all of you here to start planning for our up coming mission…”

Drake briefed them about a small city that was held by Zerg. The Terran forces have encircled the town and there wasn’t a lot of movement spotted in the town. The 390th would move in and take the town. “We are moving out in two hours, so get your teams ready.” Drake summed up, “Oh Joe I need to talk to you.” “Yes sir.” Joe said. Tiffany, Jon, and Mike all got up and left before Drake started, “I heard about what happened back on Tyrador. You showed courage and calmness under combat. You saved a lot of lives.” “Thank you sir.” Joe said after Drake stopped. “I’m going to give you a recommendation for a promotion. Heroism like that disserves to be rewarded.” “Wow. Thank you very much sir.” Joe said. When Drake didn’t say anything else Joe got up to leave. “Looks like we’re the only ones.” Drake said unexpectedly. Joe turned around and asked, “What do you mean sir?” For a moment or two Drake didn’t respond. Then came, “The only ones who know what it feels like to watch someone be killed in combat.”

Joe rounded up the battalion and explained the mission. “Look alive men. Game time. At 1700 hours we will be inserted to a small town four miles south of the main lines.” Joe explained, “It’s our job to clear this town of Zerg and report to HQ at the main lines. Intel suggests minimal resistance. We will be dropped at three separate drop zones south of the town. Drake and I will be dropped in the center and lead a platoon of marines and a squad of ghosts while Sergeant Stack leads the rest of his ghosts around the right flank. The rest of our battalion will flank left and we will conduct search and destroy through out the town. An easy in and out mission. I don’t want anyone dieing. Any questions?” Everyone looked at each other to see if there were any question but no one raised a hand. “Alright. Grab your gear. Lets move out.” Joe finished and left to collect his gear. It was no surprise to Joe that he was the first to the launch bays. Having already come here with most of his gear all he had to pick up were two extra drums for his rifle, three clips for his pistol, and his three frag grenades. He stood at the bays and watched as everyone loaded up onto their transports. It was just like back on Tyrador IX. And, once again, the ghosts were the last to show up. What did they do that made them come last? Joe took the first six ghosts out of the line, told them to go to his transport, and then told Stack that he needed to take his ghosts to the very last transport. Stack nodded and led the way.

But Joe caught sight of Tiffany lingering in the back. Waiting for Joe. Joe walked over to her and asked what was up. She didn’t say anything for a moment she just looked at the ground. She was scared. He could tell just by looking at her. She was biting her lower lip and trembling a little. To be honest, Joe was nervous as well, but he would never show it. Joe moved his hand under her chin and raised her head. “It’s gonna be alright.” Joe assured her, “I‘ll be fine. I promise.” Hearing this from Joe must have made her believe in it stronger. Because she now smiled at him. Joe pushed back her bangs so he could see her beautiful eyes. He bent forward and kissed her. They broke apart as the engines of the transports came alive. “Be careful.” she said as she walked to her transport. “You too.” Joe said standing there watching, “Good hunting.” She turned around one last time and flashed her sexy smile. Looking around and seeing no one else around him he decided that it was time to mount up. Shouldering his weapon he walked off to his ride.

Joe's boots clanked on the steel floor of the Dropship...

Joe felt every worry in his body fade away. He felt like he was flying. Was this what it was like to die? He didn’t feel any pain though. And he could still hear the harsh wind on his audio recepters. Then Joe heard a hard cough and something splattered onto his arms. Joe lowered them to see what it was. He opened his eyes to find that he was still on Kel-Moria. But what amazed him even more was that the Hydralisk that threatened his life stopped two inches away from his face with a blue energy blade protruding from the back of its mouth.

Joe stared at this strange sight for a few moments and then looked to the marines who hadn’t left him. He looked to the left to see Dale still holding his weapon at the Zergling that also had an energy blade sticking through its back. Another blue blade was hovering in midair a few feet away from the other. Joe looked back at his Hydralisk and the floating blade that had saved his life. This blade also had another hovering a few feet away from it as well. Joe stepped back and tried to figure out why blue energy blades were floating around Kel-Moria with no visible masters.

Then it hit him. He’d seen these blades before. When he first got to Tyrador IX. The Protoss were sparing with them. The Protoss! Just then a ship flew over head. It wasn’t a Terran ship either. It looked like some kind of all yellow lady bug, but bigger. As it passed two blue rings formed at the ground behind the Hydralisk. They moved up and then formed into a single big ring around waist height and ran upward and formed the outline of an oddly shaped head. This process repeated many more times, each time grow faster than the last, until a nine foot tall Protoss appeared in front of him. Joe looked to Dale and he also had a Protoss standing in front of him as well. Blue circles were appearing all around him now. Ten, twenty, thirty Protoss were now standing around them. “It is good to see you again Sergeant Tarn," a voice said in his mind. Joe said. “Praetor Gylenacs?” “It is I.” he said removing the wrist mounted blade from the Hydralisk’s head and it slumped onto the ground. “Holy shit. You have no idea how glad I am to see you.” Joe said smiling and laughing a little on the last words. “Actually. I do.” Glyenacs said and Joe remembered that they could read minds and thoughts. There was a heavy sigh that came from Joe’s right and he turned to see Jon on his ass, rifle a few feet away from where he sat. Joe walked over and pulled him up. “I thought we were dead.” Jon finally said through his tac-com. “So did I.” Joe admitted. “I hate to interrupt this moment but I think one of your fellow warriors need some assistance.” Gylenacs interrupted. Tracy! Joe spun around to see that she was motionless. The Zergling had done serious damage to her suit as well to her. She had numerous, deep gashes along her stomach and lower chest. She was bleeding like crazy. “Shit.” Jon said kneeling down next to Joe, “What do we do?” Tracy mumbled something and it didn’t come through on Joe’s tac-com. Joe lifted his and her visor’s and asked, “What?” “In my back sack there is a healing probe. Run it over my wounds slowly.” her voice was weak and she coughed up some blood as she finished. “You know how to us a healing probe don’t you?” Joe asked franticly. “Yeah, yeah I can.” Jon said rummaging through her brown leather sack in search of a healing probe. Jon found it and held it over Tracy’s wounds. It glowed with a blue light and got brighter as he moved it over her wounds. When they all closed up they left little pink scars over the wounds. Joe stood up and turned to Dale. He hadn’t moved an inch since Joe last looked at him.

“Hey, you ok?” Joe asked and Dale turned to look at him. Everything wasn’t all right. Dale had spines sticking out of his upper left leg, lower left abs, and one lodged through his bicep. “Shit. Tracy we need you.” Joe looked over to see her sitting up and looking over at him. As she stood up she had to grab Jon for support but made her way over to where Dale was, “Preator Gylenacs.” the Protoss seemed surprised that Joe was addressing him. “Yes.” “Can you call those men running away back here?” “Certainly.” Joe looked over to the men still running away as they stopped, looked back, and started running back toward Joe. Those little shit heads. They disobeyed Joe’s command to stay here and defend Tracy. If they weren’t so cowardly maybe they wouldn’t have needed the Protoss to help them out. If he could he was going to get them all court marshaled. When they finally got back to where Joe and the others were waiting he opened up on them, “YOU LITTLE FUCK BAGS. YOU DISOBEYED THE DIRECT ORDER TO COME BACK HERE AND HELP DEFEND A DOWNED MEDIC. YOU AREN’T MARINES IN MY EYES ANYMORE. You are cowards. Marines have courage. They do what they are told to do. They don’t question the command just because Zerg were fallowing them. Marines stand and fight to the death. Somewhere along the lines you must have missed that critical message. And you know what price you have to pay now for your cowardice?” Joe asked moving aside so they could see Dale, “If all of you had been here he wouldn’t be in the condition he’s in now. He has three Hydra spikes in him and I don’t know what would have happened to him if Lieutenant Calmanes hadn’t been defended so she could do her job. Now once, and only ONCE, will I allow this to happen. Alright? If this happens again I will personally put a bullet through each of your heads. DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?” “SIR, YES SIR.” came the voices of the four men who had run from battle. Thinking of nothing else that they could do he snorted, “Go find captain Drake.” Joe watched and read the name on the back of the closest marine’s helmet: Private Murry. Fucking pussies. They hurried off so fast that within the minute they came back with Drake and his ghosts. Joe and Jon were leaning over Dale’s body when Tracy administering the antidote for the Hydra’s venom when the deserters returned with Drake. During this whole time no Protoss had moved and inch. They had a lot of self control.

Joe got up and walked over to Drake. A rage a woke inside Joe but he controlled it for this question, “Permission to speak feely sir?” he growled. “Permission granted sergeant.” “What the fuck happened to you?” Joe yelled. Everyone, including Tracy, turned to see Drake’s response to this. Drake took a deep breath and then said calmly, “I’m sorry sergeant.” something in his voice took all the anger inside of Joe and made it disappear, “We couldn’t help you. The Zerg force was much larger than originally thought to be. They had an Ultralisk sitting behind the hill waiting to be called.” “I didn’t see it.” Joe interrupted. “Neither did I. A ghost told me he sensed the massive beast’s thoughts. So we waited and staged an ambush for it. If we had come out to help you we all would have been sliced up and casualties would be much higher than they are right now.” “You got it I assume.” “Yes. Once you ordered your retreat it charged. We flanked it and it didn’t go down easy. We finished it off just as the Zerg caught up to you and we were joined by our friends here.” he indicated the Protoss, “Joe, I’m sorry.” “It’s alright sir. I understand now.” “Good. Now, we need to collect all the equipment we can. Sergeant, if you would please help our good medic find some replacement armor for the time being.” “Yes sir.” Joe replied quietly dropping his pistol in the holster and picking up his rifle. He walked over to Tracy, helped her up and walked off to find a dead marine that didn’t need his armor anymore.

“How you feeling?” Joe asked as they walked through the towering forms of the Protoss. “Better.” she replied, holding her stomach, “Thank you sergeant. I know you could have just left me there.” “No I couldn’t have. You saved the lives of two of my men and friends. I couldn’t just leave you there to die.” Joe finished. She smiled and looked forward. The back of her nice, white armor was orange with sand and the front was stained in dried blood. The Zergling tore a hole in her armor about a foot in diameter just under her left breast. Its lower claws sent two gashes on either side of her belly button. Joe plugged his rifle back in and it flashed up ‘046’. Not enough for Joe. He pulled back the bolt until it clicked twice and his drum dropped onto the ground. Reaching around his back he pulled out another drum, locked it in place, and cocked his next round into the chamber. “150” flashed.

They came back on the trench and Joe counted ten bodies laying inside of it and two were killed climbing out of it. “I hate to say this but, try and find one in good shape.” Joe turned away from her and walked to the body nearest him. He was on his stomach with numerous spine holes going through his back. The name read: Private Wydon. Joe took a knee next to his body. “Sorry.” he whispered. Joe took the guys extra two ammo drums and pistol rounds. He took the pistol too and hung it off his other leg. Two was always better than one.

Standing back up he saw the bare back of Tracy Calmanes. She had pulled off the top part of her armor and was preparing to step out of the lower half. Joe started walking back to her. She wasn’t wearing a jumpsuit under her armor. After a low hiss her armor opened and she stepped out. She had a nice ass and a tattoo of a white rose right above it with the letters, ‘Drake’s’ in front of it. Smiling to himself he said, “Nice tattoo.” She spun around fast and covered up her full breasts. “Umm, a little privacy please.” she asked closing her legs. She had a perfect body. “Oh yeah, sorry.” Joe turned around and stared at the dieing sun. He rested his hands on his rifle and asked, “So, you know Drake huh?” She laughed a little then said “Well, that’s one way of putting it.” “You fuck him?” “In short, yes.” “Did you love him?” For a few moments all Joe heard were the hisses of her armor closing, until, “That’s really none your business, now is it sergeant?” “No, I guess not. I was just curious. He seems to like you a lot.” A click signaled that her helmet was on and Joe turned around. “Yes, I guess I did love him. Once.” she added taking her medic belt and reattaching it to her new armor. Her new all black armor had a number of small spine holes along the upper torso with small amounts of dried blood coming out of each. Joe nodded. “That the best you could find?” Joe asked raising an eyebrow. “Yep.” “Alright, lets get back to the other’s.” Joe sighed, lifting his rifle back up into his hands. “Sergeant, come in, we need to move.” Drake’s voice crackled over Joe’s tac-com. “More Zerg on the way sir?” Joe asked. “No, but it’s getting dark and command wanted this mission done by tomorrow so we need to haul ass.” came Drakes response. Slightly relieved Joe responded, “That’s good news sir. I’ve refilled on ammo and we got the medic some new armor.” “That’s good news too Joe. Now get back here on the double.” “Roger that sir.” Joe started to run. Tracy fallowed suit. When they got back Drake was in conversation with Preator Glyenacs. “Thank you again Preator for saving my soldiers.” “I am always glad to be of assistance captain.” Raising his bumpy blue arm he shook Drake’s and said, “Until we meet again.” Drake nodded and the Protoss stared walking east. “Alright men, we’ll have to be reinforced once we get to the target area. I don’t know about the rest of you but I don’t think six marines, two officers, a medic, and six ghosts can head through that town.” many murmurs and nodding came from the marines. The ghost’s remained silent as ever just looking off into the horizon. Like they could see something he couldn‘t. “Sergeant Tarn?” “Yes sir?” Joe asked looking back at Drake. “You got point. Lead us on.”

The trip to the target zone was supposed to take less than twenty minutes by air. Two hours later, Joe’s eyes came upon the targeted town. Joe sighed and smiled back to the rest of the group, “Town in sight sir.”

It was the most beat up, ruined little town he’d ever seen. Few building stood over two stories and the ones that did Joe couldn’t figure out how they were staying up. Joe also noticed a massive amount of smoke around this town. Fires burned as the walked closer to their target area and Drake called up the other platoons on the tac-com. “Sparrow’s 1 and 3, I repeat, sparrow’s 1 and 3 come in over. This is sparrow 2, we have reached the TA and are ready to move” No answer. Drake tried reaching them again. “Sparrow’s 1 and 3, come in over.” Still no response. Shit. Only bad things could come out of two platoons not answering their com’s. “Sergeant, take Rulli, Murry, Norrt, and Ria up to Sparrow 3’s position and tell me what you find. I‘ll take the rest up to 1‘s position.” “Yes sir. Squad, lets move.” Joe added closing his visor. Joe noticed that Norrt and Ria were ghosts. This would definetly be an advantage in finding out what happened to Sparrow 3. “Joe I’m marking the last known location of Sparrow 3’s position. Coordinates are 34.59.02 by 61.43.78. Out.” The yellow navpoint arrow raced across Joe’s HUD and hovered over to Joe’s left. Turning his men in the direction of the arrow, one question bugged him, “Sir, what part of our company was Sparrow 3?” “Our main force of ghosts.” Tiffany! Just as Joe started to sprint toward the arrow an arm grabbed him and held him back. Joe turned to see one of the ghosts grabbing his left arm. He shook his long black hair out of his face to reveal icy blue eyes and a thin face. “Sir, we have to stay quiet. We don’t know what’s out here.” the ghost said releasing the hold on Joe’s arm. “You don’t understand, we have to get there now. They could be-” “Quiet frankly sir, I think I understand this more than you do.” He cut him off. Joe opened his mouth to ask how the fuck the ghost understood what Tiffany meant to him. But as he opened his mouth he reminded himself that ghosts were telepaths and he probably understood how much Joe cared for Tiffany. Joe turned to face the ghost and raised his finger, “You stay out of my head.” “I try sir. I meant no offense.” “Alright, lets move. No one do anything rash.” Joe said lowering his finger. After two more minutes of walking as silently as his armor would allow they finally came up on Sparrow 3’s position. “Shit.” Joe muttered into his tac-com. There were bloody, mutilated bodies all around the area. Most of the bodies were on the soft dirt of the town but a few looked like they were thrown into buildings. As Joe took in the gore of the battle he noticed that there wasn’t one Zerg body among the carnage. Further away from where Joe, Jon, Murry, and the ghosts’ knelt Joe saw small round rings of earth that were slightly shrunken and about three to five feet wide. “Oh no.” came over the tac-com as Murry jump up and ran onto the street. “Murry, god damnit get your ass back here.” Joe yelled through his tac-com. Murry stopped just before a ring and said, “Sir, one of my friends is out here.” “Private, for all I know one of my friends is out there as well. Now get your ass back here before, NO!” With a crunch a Hydralisk burrowed up from the ground behind Murry and clamped his jaws around his helmet. “Hold your fire.” Joe yelled as he saw the others bring their weapons up. He didn’t want to kill Murry in a spray of friendly fire.

CRACK sounded from the Hydralisk as his jaws cracked Murry’s visor and he let out a blood curdling scream. In a rush of adrenaline, Joe got up, raced around the side of the Lisk and opened fire. His 8mm spikes tore through the Zerg, spilling it’s guts over the thirsty sand, and in a shriek of pain released Murry from his jaws. Murry slumped forward and fell to the ground, blood oozing from his visor. The sounds of C-10 and C-14 rifles barked their rounds at the Hydra. Suddenly the terrain under Joe’s right foot started to sink. It sank too fast for Joe to pull his leg up and before he knew it he was at the bottom of a four foot hole. His combat suit had absorbed the shock but Joe’s stomach knotted seeing what was atop the hole. A Hydralisk decided to burrow up and was now looking down on Joe with a look of satisfaction in its glowing, red eyes. Joe pulled his rifle up to meet this threat as the sound of a frag grenade filled the hole. As Joe opened his eyes he saw the Hydralisk was missing his head. Smiling to himself he got up and pulled himself out of the Zerg hole.

First thing he noticed when he climbed out of the hole was Murry in a pool of blood. “Drake we need Tracy here now. Murry’s down.” Joe shouted as he knelt down by the marine. “Roger. I’m bring the whole squad over. Hold you fire.” “Roger that sir.” Joe turned around, “Jon, get over here.” Joe turned back to Murry and raised both of their visors. Joe almost threw up at this sight. Murry’s entire forehead had been ripped away along with a good portion of his hair. He could see his brain. Jon fell next to Joe and Joe ordered, “We need to get him out of the open before more Lisks show up.” Jon nodded and grabbed and arm. Joe grabbed the other and pulled Murry into a half destroyed building. “Jon, what can you do?” Joe asked looking at him. “Nothing. That’s way to deep to heal with a healing probe. We need Tracy.” Jon frowned. “Fuck.” Joe said, “Alright, next priority. We need to get rid of those other Zerg out there. Norrt can you sense how many are out there?” The ghost with long black hair nodded and closed his eyes. “Only six left sir.” “Can you sense any survivors?” Joe asked looking at all the dead ghosts. Again, Norrt closed his eyes and said, “No sir. No survivors.” Joes heart sank at these words. So Tiffany was gone. A huge hole immdeatly opened up in his heart, next to his families. He hadn’t felt this bad sense they died. And that was six years ago. Joe then felt a hand on his shoulder. It was Norrt. “What did I tell you?” Joe asked in a harsh voice. “Sorry sir, but you mind is just so open, it’s hard not to read.” “He’s right sir.” the other ghost, Ria, spoke this time. This ghost had thick, full red hair and red cheeks that clashed with his green eyes. Joe turned, looked them both straight in the eye, and said, “Try harder. If you two have been reading my mind this whole time, you’ll both understand how much that pisses me off. Now lets clear out those Zerg.” Joe finished, cocking his rifle. “Hold up, shouldn’t we wait for help.” Jon asked from behind. Joe walked over to a body of a dead ghost and knelt down beside it, “No. I’m going to make these bastards pay for all that they have taken from me.” Joe replied through gritted teeth. On the ghosts left ankle he saw a seven inch, neosteel combat knife. He took it and fastened it to his own. 'You can never always rely on guns,' Drake’s phrase popped into his mind. “You all can stay back, but I’m sure that the Zerg have touched each of you in a way.” Joe finished closing his visor.

Joe stood up and started walking over to the odd rings in the ground. He stopped six feet from the closest one and raised his rifle. He didn’t stop firing until he heard the high pitched screech of death come from the ground. It was a Zergling. Joe’s head was jerked up by the sound of three crunch sounds. Joe was momentarily stunned at the sight of the two Zerglings running toward him and the Hydralisk opening up his chest cavities. Two C-10’s barked behind him and caught the Zerglings unaware. Joe raised his rifle up to meet the Hydralisk. But he was too late. Hypersonic spines were being fired from the beast. Joe jumped to the left and fired his grenade as he fell. It caught the Lisk somewhere between the mid section and blew it in two. The Zerg’s bloody top half fell on another circle and another Lisk popped out. Joe rolled over to check the ghosts progress and to check his damage indecator.

No damage was done to the suit but the ghosts seemed to be having trouble with the Zerglings. Norrt was still attempting to use his rifle at too close of a range and Ria had his knife sticking into the Zerg’s skull. Joe raised himself up to a knee and started firing at the Lisk that was slithering closer. Joe opened up on it as a scream echoed behind him. Jerking his head away he saw Norrt on the ground with the Zergling on top of him. He was holding, what looked like, what was left of his right arm. Ria fumbled for his rifle but the Zergling had already jumped from Norrt and closed his jaws around the rifle’s middle. Fast as lightning, Joe swung his rifle around and put 8mm holes through the Zerg. Its entrails spilled out its other side as Joe loosened up on the trigger.

Joe looked back to see the Hydralisk standing three feet from him and raising its huge, curved claw up to strike. Joe tried to roll out of its strike zone but its scythe caught him on his left side just below the ribs. A scream of pain issued from Joe’s mouth. He could feel the blood flowing freely from the wound but the stim packs kicked in after that. Rolling to his side, Joe saw the Zerg lift its other scythe to finish him off. There was no escaping now. The sound of a C-10 rifle went off somewhere and blew off a chuck of the Hydra’s carapace armor. It erupted in a howl of pain and tried to find the source of the blast. A second bark found it’s mark and reduced the Zerg’s head to a bloody half. Joe turned back to Norrt and Ria to see if they had saved him but Norrt was sill on the ground, nursing half and arm and Ria’s rifle was in pieces.

Not feeling any pain from his wound Joe got up and walked over to the last remaining circle. Raising his rifle for the last time he opened up on the hole. But before the high pitched shriek came, Joe’s rifle stopped firing and the ammo counter flashed, ‘000’. ‘Oh shit.’ Joe thought as the ground in front of him shook. Thinking quickly he pulled a grenade from his belt, pulled the pin, tossed it into the hole, and jumped away. Joe heard the ‘thunk’ of the grenade hitting the Zerg then the huge blast of it going off.

Blood, entrails, and parts of limbs rained from the sky and onto Joe’s back. Joe looked up to see Ria bandageing up Norrt’s stub and Jon still leaning over Murry. Pulling himself back up off the ground he put his hand over his side. A sharp pain shot through his side and he raised his hand up. Blood. A lot of it. Walking over to Jon something invisible grabbed him and hugged him. A high Fro Saraen voice rose out of no where, “Oh my god Joe, your hurt.” it cried. Joe stared into the space in front of him and put his hand out. His glove closed around a human head but he couldn‘t see it. The far off solution came into Joe’s mind, “Tiffany?”

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