A Marine's Story Part 7

"The Traitor"

“Oh Joe, I thought we were all alone.” Tiffany’s voice came from in front of him. Joe continued to stare there until her beautiful form faded into view. Her Canister rifle slung over her back. Joe raised his visor as she said “Oh god. What are we going to do?” “About what?” Joe asked as she rested her head on his shoulder. “Your side.” she cried. “Well, I’d say I got a few more minutes until the stim wears off or I loose too much blood and die.” Joe said with a smile. Tiffany looked up at him with the most serious face he’d ever seen on her. She obviously didn’t think this was a laughing matter. “Don’t worry we got a highly trained medic with us. She’ll be here soon.” Joe reasureed her. She put her head back down on Joe’s shoulder and Joe stroked her hair with his gloved hand. “You said earlier ‘I thought we were all alone’. Who’s we? Did anyone else make it?” Slowly she raised her head and replied, “Only me and sergeant Stack.” “Shit. I’m sorry Tiff.” Smiling she said, “You called me ‘Tiff’. You’ve never called me that before.” “Hmm, I guess I did, didn’t I.” he smiled at her and bent down to kiss her.

Two fake coughs came somewhere from Joe’s left. They broke apart to see M. Lt. Calmanes standing a few feet from them, “I hate to interupt such a intement moment, but unless you want to bleed to death from the wound right there sergeant Tarn I suggest you let me take a look at that.” “Yes ma’am.” Joe replied stepping over to her, “You know I could go a few more minutes, maybe you should take a look at private Murry.” This was a lie. Joe’s vision was already starting to blur up and he felt really light headed. “Murry’s dead. You saw him. Damn Lisk ripped part of his brain out.” Calmanes explained running her wrist mounted healing ward over his side. “How’s Norrt?” Joe asked. “He’s going home. Not much use to the military now is he?” Tracy said running the ward slowly over his wound. A tingling feeling ran through his side as she did so. “I am a lot of use to the military even now lieutenant.” Norrt pipped up from the wall were he sat. “Sergeant I’ve got good news.” Joe looked over to see Drake standing with sergeant Stack and Mike, “I’ve found the survivors of Sparrow one. A lot more than the survivors here. By Corpraol Patterson’s count we just got ten marines.” “Great news sir. What do we do now though?” Joe asked as Tracy finished up with his wound, “Thanks Tracy.” he added walking over to Drake. “We wait for further orders. I need to contact command, tell them our casualties, and evac the wounded. Get the men ready to move.” “Yes sir.” Joe walked over to the other ten marines. They all looked tired and battle worn. Joe had no doubt that he looked the same in his eyes though. Joe was getting Jon back into lines with Tiffany, Ria, Mike, and the remaining marines and ghosts’, when he heard, “WHAT!! Sir, what the fuck are you thinking? We fought this hard to get here now your gonna-?” Drake’s voice sounded behind him. Who ever he was yelling at, for what ever reason it didn’t sound good to him. Joe walked over to hear the whole conversation, “Drake, we know how much you’ve fought through to get where you are now but the casualty numbers are just too high and more Zerg are moving in this town than we originally thought. It’ll be suicide if you stay. We’re going to pull you out and blow the damn town to hell.” “Roger that sir.” Drake sighed angerly, “When will our ships get here?” “Five minutes.” came the reply. “Sir, please don’t tell me that they’re pulling us out.” Joe asked, knowing the answer. When Drake just stared at him Joe assumed the worst, “How can they pull us out? We have enough men to get through this town. Me and two ghosts’ killed three Hydralisks and three Zerglings on our own.” “Forgive me sir, but you also sustained two casualties, both extremely critical, and you wouldn’t even be standing here right now if it hadn’t been for shadow marshall Duke and I” Stack spoke up, his arms folded across his chest. His long brown hair had yellow highlights that fell into his eyes. These were the first words that Joe ever heard the ghost say. Joe opened his mouth to respond but Drake cut him off, “Look I know that we’ve all taken heavy losses from this raid and that’s why you want to stay. For revenge. But it’s the same reason why we’re wanted on the front lines right now. We all survived what most companies fail to. Enough chit-chat. Lets get the wounded up and moving.” “Yes sir.” Joe and Stack said together.

Joe was the last to board the dropship and sat the closest to the door, next to Tiffany and across from Jon. As soon as he sat down Tiffany rested her head down on Joe’s shoulder and fell asleep. Joe wished he could do the same but he was without a shoulder to sleep on. The engines started up and Tiffany continued to sleep. Joe watched her, moving the hair out of her face and running his fingers through it. To think how close he came to loseing her. He noticed scratches on her arms and chest, what Joe presumed from Hydra spines but none looked fatal. She was beautiful.

Taking his eyes off her he noticed that Tracy was sitting next to Drake. A slow smile came across Joe’s face. Neither of them seemed to be enjoying it either. Jon caught what Joe was looking at and smiled as well. A sharp whistle focused Joe’s attention back to the ramp which was closing. Outside the rapidly closing opening he saw the outline of a nuclear missile flying staright into the middle of the town. The last image that Joe had of that town was the mushroom cloud silhouetted in the darkness as the ramp sealed itself.

The dropship settled in a Terran Forward Fire Base. A well defended one as well. Four bunkers sat at the northern line of the base and four to the south with three siege tanks in each opening. All the structures of the base were gathered around a central command center. Three siege tanks sat around the structure as well. The dropship set down at the southern Starport and dropped it’s ramp. What was left of Joe’s company stepped off the two transports. Joe thought about this for a moment. They went in with three full loads of troops and coming back the barely filled one and a half.

He shook his head to clear it and looked over to Tiffany who was still asleep. Shaking his shoulder he said, “Hey wake up we’re here.” Groaning, she mumbled, “Too tired. Leave me on ship.” “I’m not leaving you on the ship.” Joe smiled standing up and putting her arm around his shoulder, “Come on, I’ll carry you.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and Joe hoisted her up. Joe walked over to the elevator that sat on the opposite side of the drop pad. Luckily enough they were the last two off the ships and got the elevator all to themselves. When they got to the main floor Joe’s tac-com buzzed, “Joe…Sleeping quar…four hours… copy over.” “What?” Joe asked into his helmet. “Sleeping…twenty-four hours…over.” “Hold on let me get outside.” Joe navigated out of the crowded Starport. Once he and Tiffany got outside he said, “Alright go ahead.” “Joe, your sleeping quarters are barracks 360. We have twenty four hours until we move out for another assignment. Got that?” Drake said slowly over the com. “Yes sir. Thank you.” Joe said as slowly as Drake did.

As Joe neared their assigned barracks he spotted Jon and Mike waiting at the entrance. Both looked up as he got closer but neither smiled. “Hey, you guys alright?” Joe asked. The look in both of their eyes said it all. Sighing Joe said, “Alright fallow me. I’ll put sleeping beauty here into a bunk and talk to you guys.” Joe walked onto the ramp and up into the barracks. Jon and Mike fallowed. Walking up to the front desk Joe asked the women, “We’re from the 1st battalion of the 390th infantry division C company. Do you know where our bunks are?” “Who are you?” she asked eyeing Joe and Tiffany. “Sergeant Tarn, Corporals Patterson and Rulli, and Marshal Duke.” “Level two, door three.” Joe nodded and lead the way. All three of the marines and the ghost crammed into the small elevator and it groaned as it lifted. Neither Jon nor Patterson said a word since Joe meet up with them. Something was seriously wrong. Once at the top Joe walked out in search of the room. “Wait here.” Joe asked Jon and Mike as he found the room. Both nodded and Joe walked into the room with Tiffany.

It was completely empty. Either everyone who was assigned to this room had come and gone or they got it all to themselves. Either way Joe was happy about it. Walking over to a bunk he bent over and, as softly as he could, he laid her down. Tiffany moaned and rolled over so she could see Joe, “Joe? ‘sat you?” “Yeah, it’s me.” Joe smiled. “Where you goin’?” Tiffany asked. “I need to head up to the quartermaster’s. Get this hole fixed up and recharge my armor. I’ll be back soon.” He added standing up and walking to the door. “Hurry back.” came the faint voice of Tiffany as she slipped back into her sleep. Joe punched the ‘open’ button on the door and it lifted. He stepped out into the corridor to see Jon and Mike leaning against opposite walls. The door slid shut behind him and he asked, “Alright, what’s up?” For a long moment neither of the two spoke. They just looked at Joe then at each other. Until Mike’s voice, a lot higher than normal, asked, “How do you deal with it?” “Deal with what?” Joe asked raising an eyebrow. “People dieing.” This question stunned him. He really didn’t have an answer. “I don’t know. I just put it out of my mind. It’s all in the past now so I don’t put to much thought into it.” “I’m sorry” Jon whispered. Both Mike and Joe looked over to him. “For what?” Joe asked. “For freezing up on you during the fight. It’s just, Murry died right in front of me you know? I couldn’t take it.” “I understand.” Joe said, walking over to him and putting a hand on his shoulder just as Drake did, “It’s over now. I’m alive, your alive, we made it out. Everything that happened we can’t change. And I know you won’t do that again right?” Jon nodded and then smiled, “Yeah, I got this shit now.” “Good. I need to head down to the quartermaster’s and get this hole repaired. You two go and get some sleep. That’s an order. We got twenty-four hours until we ship out again.” He told them walking down the corridor.

Lucky for Joe the quartermaster was on his level and he didn’t have to walk far to find him. Once there he stepped out of the shell that had protected him from the Zerg and handed it over to be repaired. They also took his rifle saying that they would give it a full cleaning. Joe, however, took his pistols, his belt, and his neosteel knife. If the unfortunate happened he didn’t want to be caught with his pants down.

Hitting ‘open’, the door slid open to revile that Jon and Mike had found bunks. Their armor sitting at the ends of their bunks and each snoring. He walked as silently as he could over to Tiffany, who was still in her armor, sitting on the bunk she was facing. Her eyes fluttered open as soon as he hit the mattress. “I guess I was too loud.” Joe whispered to her. She shook her head and replied, “Nope. I didn’t hear a thing. I sensed your mind though.” Joe thought back to when he thought he was never going to see Tiffany again. Everything he saw in that moment was in his mind again. He came so close to dieing he couldn’t event laugh about it. He didn’t think he’d ever be able to laugh about it. “Looks like you had a more traumatizing day than I did.” Tiffany said unexpectedly. “I thought you said you couldn’t read minds?” Joe yawned. She shrugged and said, “I’m getting better. Come here.” She motioned Joe to her bed and once he sat down she took his hand in hers. She seemed to be going through her memories of the day as well. How Tiffany, and all other ghosts’ for that matter, could deal with other people’s thoughts and emotions, as well as their own, he didn’t know.

“I’m glad you didn’t die today.” Tiffany said pulling Joe down next to her. Joe looked over to her. Her hair was out of its ponytail now and fell behind her back. Her green eyes were heavy with sleep. “I’m glad you didn’t die today either.” Joe said smiling at her. She smiled back, closed her eyes, and kissed Joe.

Even the stiffness of the barracks bunk was welcome to Joe. Anything that brought on sleep was welcome to him. And a sexy, blond ghost sleeping next to him made it all the better.

Two Protoss warriors were doing some minor patrol duty for Praetor Glyenacs at the request of captain Drake. Ky Vela and his friend from birth walked back over the barren desert of Kel-Moria. Having reached their objective and spotting no Zerg anywhere near they decided to head back and report. Ky turned to his friend and asked, “Why do you think Praetor Glyenacs asked us to do this?” “He said it was a personal favor to the Terran.” his friend replied. “But why us?” “Think friend. Have you ever noticed Glyenacs care about what happens to us?” Ky nodded and turned away from his friends light blue eyes. In his 397 years of existence he had never seen Glyenacs care for them. Although they were the two strongest warriors in their ranks they seemed to get onto Glyenacs’ nerves. “Ky.” sounded from his left. Ky turned to see his friend face to face with a Zergling. Seeing this he focused his mind onto his blades and they crackled to life. “Don’t worry it’s just a Zergling.” Ky laughed. “It may be ‘just a Zergling’ but one Zergling around here means there’s more.” Almost as if on queue, a very high number of Zerglings, Hydralisks, and Lurkers emerged from the ground, encircling the Protoss. “Adun save us.” Ky whispered.

Joe shot up from his bed in a cold sweat awaking from a terrible nightmare. Panting he tried to recall it. Something about being chased by a Hydralisk and no matter how hard he ran to escape them, every time he looked back they were still right behind him. So finally he collapsed from exhaustion and rolled over to see the Hydralisk raise its claw to plunge into his chest. But it just stopped and stood there. Not moving after that. After a moment of two it lowered its claw and slid behind him. And where it stood, a tall man with long, dark hair stood silhouetted against the sun. The man’s face was in shadow and he was wearing a blue Hostile Environment Suit. A ghost? The man walked towards Joe and stopped just in front of him.

Joe opened his mouth to say something but found out couldn’t speak. The ghost smiled an sinister smile. But what caught Joe’s attention more was the long, curved bone blade protruding from the man’s right wrist. He’s infested! As soon as the thought entered his brain the infested Terran raised the claw and plunged it into Joe’s chest.

Joe’s breathing returned to normal once he realized he wasn’t in any danger. Looking down he saw the beautiful, naked form of Tiffany Duke sleeping blissfully beside him. Smiling, he brought his hands up and rubbed his eyes. What a weird dream. But it didn’t really seem like a dream, it felt…more like a vision. Joe shook his head in a vain attempt to clear it. He tried focusing back on the dream but it was foggy now, more difficult to remember. Putting it out of his mind he slid of the side of the bed and put his pants on. As quietly as he could he slipped his belt on and sheathed his knife. Jon and Mike were still sleeping in their bunks and weren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Worried that the door would wake the others Joe decided against getting his rifle and armor.

So he walked into the bathroom and threw some cool water on his face to wake up more. What could that dream have been?

“The swarms are ready my queen.” a raspy voice sounded in the darkness. “Good. Get me our operative at the Forward Fire Base.” Kerrigan commanded. “Yes my queen.” Kerrigan walked over to the giant screen in her throne room. Pity she couldn’t talk to the infesteds’ the same way she could pure Zerg. Especially ones who choose to keep their skin instead of the more durable carapaces. But then again he wouldn’t have gotten this far if he had made the upgrade. The screen flashed to show a man with his face covered in an assassins mask. “Sergeant Kevin Stack.” Kerrigan spoke to the screen. “Queen Kerrigan.” he bowed slightly, “You know doing this jeopardizes my mission.” “Update.” she commanded, ignoring him. “Of course my queen.” Stack bowed, “The 390th infantry division is stationed here along with a small amount of Protoss Zealots around the perimeter. The base has eight siege tanks along the northern and sou-” “I know what the base is like remember I was human once and we have other sources. I’m sending the Tiamat Brood in to take the base. Make sure no one knows about you or our plans.” she saw Kevin recoil when she said this. Finding this odd she started to probe his mind. Before she got what she wanted Stack said, “My queen I apoligize but some ,er…complications, that I couldn’t control, have come up.” Anger rising in her voice Kerrigan replied, “What, complications?” “Two Protoss scouts have uncovered the swarm on its way here. But they should be dealt with before the attack commences.” “What else?” “Only one other complication had arisen, a young marine Sergeant has had a vision revieling what I really am.” “WHAT?!?” Kerrigan boomed, “I WILL NOT HAVE MY PLAN UNRAVALLED BY A HUMAN.” “I understand my queen but-” “The last remenents of this division and one most powerful Praetors is at that base. If it falls that planet is ours.” “I understand my queen but I’ve put a block on his mind so he can’t recall it anymore. I also do not believe he interprted the vision correctly.” “I hope, for your sake, that you’re right.” Kerrigan finished and turned off the screen.

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