A Marine's Story Part 8

"...And Then There Were Four"

Joe heard a tac-com buzzing in the other room. Walking out of the bathroom, he noticed Jon’s armor head set was talking. Walking closer he heard Drake’s voice, “Private Rulli, come in, I’m looking for Joe. Corporal pick up.” Joe reached inside Jon’s helmet and retrieved the headset. “Go ahead sir.” Joe whispered, “This is Joe.” “Joe?” Drake sounded confused, “Head to my office. I’ve got good news.” “Yes sir.” Joe tossed the headset back into Jon’s helmet and walked over to his bunk. He pulled on his shirt and grabbed Tiffany’s goggles on the way out. It was a good thing he did. The wind was throwing the sand around so fast that it cut open his skin.

Once he arrived at Drake’s office he had numerous cuts along his arms, cheeks, and neck. He looked up to see Drake wasn’t alone. Stack was with him as well, “Congratulations,” Drake was saying, “you’ve made lieutenant.” “Thank you sir. I won’t let you down.” Stack replied. “I know. You’re dismissed now.” Stack turned heel and walked past Joe. Joe nodded at him and Stack gave him a smile. As he smiled Joe got a very bad feeling from it. He’d seen that smile before, but he couldn’t place it. “So Joe, you feelin’ better?” Joe cleared his mind and said, “Yes…yes sir.” After giving him a puzzled look he continued, “Good. Now we’ll be moving out in ten hours. Our objective is to locate an abandoned Refinery.” “Is that the good news sir?” Joe asked. “Depends on how you look at it but, the good news you’re referring to is that you just got a promotion. You did better than I expected and that deserves a reward.” “Thank you sir.” Joe replied not entirely listening. Drake noticed and tossed something at him, “Here you’re new rank. Put it over you old one. I’ll call you back here in a few hours to go over the mission.” “Yes sir.” Joe positioned his goggles back over his eyes and walked to the door. Drake stopped him, “Joe. Are you alright?” Joe didn’t know. Should he tell Drake about the bad vive he got off Stack. The way he smiled at him just gave him a foreboding feeling. About his so called vision that he could no longer recall. Joe made his decision. He nodded and walked out.

After retrieving his armor and rifle from the quartermaster he applied his new rank insignia. Everyone was just as Joe left them. Finishing with his decals he returned Tiffany’s goggles and laid down next to her. She stirred. Joe looked over just in time to see her eyes flutter open. “Morning.” Joe whispered. “Morning.” she yawned, “I was having such a good dream when-” she cut herself off, “What’s wrong?” she demanded. “Nothing.” Joe replied. Raising her eyebrows she warned, “Don’t lie. I can tell.” Joe sighed and told her everything, “About Stack? You have a bad feeling about Stack?” Joe nodded, “The way he smiled at me when I was with Drake just gave me a foreboding feeling I haven’t felt since…” Joe stopped. What he was going to say was, ‘since you’re brother died.’. “Still, he saved my life.” she stated. “I know, that’s why it’s all so confusing. It’s probably nothing. But just be careful around him alright.” She looked skeptical, “Alright fine. If it makes you feel better I will.” “Thank you.” A deafening whine sounded in the barracks. Jon shot up from his bed and Mike jumped off his onto the floor. Joe sat up along with Tiffany who pulled the sheet up over her breasts, seeing as how she was still naked. Jumping from the bed Joe ran over to the window and looked out. All he saw was a massive sea of brown Zerg carapaces that stretched to the horizon.

Joe left the window in a flash and darted for his armor. “What is it?” Tiffany asked as Jon and Mike made their way over to the window. Tiffany’s armor was sitting on the bunk next to him. He picked it up and tossed it to her, “Zerg.” Joe replied and stepped into his armor.

He slipped on his belt and sheathed his knife as his tac-com sounded, “Joe come in.” Drake. “Right here sir. I’ve seen them.” Joe responded before Drake said anything. “I need you’ all down here double-time.” “Roger that sir.” Joe picked up his rifle and headed for the door. Tiffany finished next and was right behind him. Joe punched the button and the door hissed open. Marines were running down the tiny hallway and cramming into the elevator. Turning back to Jon and Mike, Joe yelled, “Come on. Let’s move.” They both started moving faster at these words. Joe turned back to the sea of marines flooding the corridor. Finally Jon and Mike put on their armor and hurried over to them. Joe shoved all three of them into the hallway and started on his way out. The next thing Joe knew was that an explosion had gone off somewhere and propelled him into the corridor wall.

A voice was screaming at him. A loud, deep voice. Two other people were carrying him as well. “There’s nothing seriously wrong with him. He’s just knocked out.” He recognized that voice. Tracy! “Not serious?!? Fucking Scourge decided to detonate in their room. Threw him at, like, a hundred miles and hour into a solid, steel wall.” Dale was holding Joe’s right arm and was arguing with Tracy. He felt a small bead of blood slid down the side of his face. “And he was wearing armor when it happened. If he wasn’t then you would have a good reason to be arguing with me. Now get out of here.” Tracy finished as Dale and someone else laid him down on the ground.

Dale mumbled something then ran off. The other person leaned over his face and said, “Come on babe. Wake up. Please wake up.” Tiffany! These words brought Joe back to the world. He shot up but an arm came out of no where and forced him back down. “Hold up Tarn. Give me five minutes to close this cut then I let you go off and get killed.” Tracy ran her healing ward over Joe’s head and he felt the familiar tingling sensation running through his body. “Rulli, Duke get over to the southern line and report to Stack. Patterson, stay by me. You’re my radio man.” Drake was giving out orders, he turned to Joe and Tracy and asked, “How is he Tracy?” “He’ll be fine.” she said shortly. Ignoring her tone, Drake turned to Joe, “Tarn get over to the northern line. Your in command up there.” “Yes sir.” Joe pulled himself up on his rifle and ran off to the northern line. “Good luck.” Drake called after him. Closing his visor, Joe replied, “You too.”

A familiar yellow arrow raced across his HUD and hovered over the second bunker to the left. Three SCV’s hovered in between the bunkers making various repairs. Two more went to work on constructing more bunkers behind the four that were there. Joe broke into an all out sprint to his bunker. Mutalisks, Scourges, and Guardians flew all over the sky firing globs of corroding acid along the bunkers, barracks, and buildings. He looked up to see the buildings ablaze. Joe arrived at his bunker and unsealed the hatch as fast as he could. It hissed open and he climbed in to see another marine already firing out of one of the slits.

Gauss rifles, C-10’s, rocket launchers, and all different kinds of ammo were spread across the metallic floor. This bunker must have been used to store supplies. Stepping over the equipment he saw them. The eyes and carapaces of Zerglings and Hydralisks glistened in the high sun as the charged over the hill. Raising his weapon he targeted the Zergling nearest him. He pulled his trigger and sent his rounds through the insects carapace and slowly splintered it. The hatch hissed open and maroon armor stepped in.

They stared at each other for a fraction of a second and Joe flashed him a thumbs up. He turned back to his window and started shooting again.

Humans. So predicable. They are so independent yet they repeat the same mistakes over and over again. And the Protoss. So strong and noble, but they also repeat there mistakes. Zerg on the other hand have one single mind, connected to Kerrigan. The supreme being. Her minions drive forward into waves upon waves of enemy fire until they achieve their objective. They don’t care about trampling over their fallen brethren, just as long as they achieve victory and please their master.

In this case their master was me. Lieutenant Kevin Stack. He stood behind the four main bunkers and overlooked the building of two more. The annoying SCV’s buzzed about welding neosteel blast plates together. He sensed two forms approaching him from behind. Quickly putting on his mental block he turned to face them. Tiffany Duke and Jon Rulli were standing in front of him. “Drake told us to report to you sir.” Tiffany yelled over the roars of gunfire and screams of dieing Zerg. Her mind was blocked, he couldn’t penetrate her defenses. This was odd. She trusted him, she wouldn’t normally do this. He nodded and pointed to the bunker all the way on the right flank.

He watched them dash off and climb into their bunker. She was becoming a problem. She didn’t trust him anymore. Did she know what he was, had Joe interpreted the vision? He smiled at this insane thought. How could a human, a marine at that, possibly deduce that vision. It would have taken the mental power of a Protoss templar, or and extremely powerful ghost, but certainly not a marine. But Tiffany. Given time she could probably break the mind block he had put on Joe.

He had no choice. He would have to kill her. Or maybe he would keep her as a prize for himself? Even though he had become Zerg he still had human urges and she defined the term “human beauty”. But, alas, he could not. Kerrigan would definitely not approve of him having human slave. He would have to kill her himself. Make sure the job was done.

The bunkers fired their tongues of flame at the onslaught. Soon his minions would start devouring them. Piece by piece. Slowly. He looked over and saw a young marine doubled over and clutching his legs to his chest. Stack smiled to himself as the marine slowly rocked back a forth. It was amazing how weak and frail the human mind was. Fear is what consumes them over all else. It was also amazingly easy to corrupt. One little parasite and, given a few days, it will be completely under your control. His captain was a perfect example of this. Relishing this thought he called in two Mutalisks to kill the young marine.

The screams of humans in pain was like music to his ears.

Joe’s rounds smashed through the heavy armor of the oncoming Zerg. As his target fell to the ground a Siege Tank shell whistled down from the sky and left nothing but blood and guts over the dry, desert sand. Another hiss made him turn back to the hatch to see a young Firebat, with his visor up, climb in. He was middle aged and his face was heavily scarred. Then he heard it. A noise that made his blood go cold. A shiver went down his spine as he turned to see and Ultralisk make its way up, over the hill about 500 yards away.

Joe kept his cool. He turned around to the Firebat who had just entered and yelled, “Rocket launcher. NOW!” his scream barely made it over the sound of Dale and the other marines’ rifles. He looked confused but obeyed. Bending down he picked up the nearest rocket launcher and tossed it to Joe. The Firebat walked over to a firing slit and lit up the Zerglings tearing away the bunker. Joe caught it and threw down his rifle. It was a new version. Like the one he used in basic but it could be reloaded. It had three launch tubes that rotated and lined up with main barrel once the round was released. He steadied the weapon and checked the wind. His suit said that the wind wouldn’t affect the shot in any way but with the way sand was whipping around outside he thought different.

He let his aim drift a little to the left as the beast drew nearer. Pulling the trigger he heard a hallow click. “AMMO” he shouted over the guns. A box slid over to him and hit the back of his leg nearly knocking him over. Ignoring the Zerg tearing at the external shell of the bunker, he looked down to see it completely stacked with rocket shells. He grabbed one and slammed it into the barrel. He’d wasted a lot of time, the Ultra was less than 100 yards away now. “Joe do something.” Dale yelled changing targets fast. “I’m workin on it.” Joe yelled back, aiming. He pulled the trigger and the sound he wanted to hear came out. A huge explosion came from the weapon, launching the explosive from the barrel. The whole bunker watched the trail of smoke as it hit the Ultralisk right under the right Kaiser Blade. It was dislodged in an explosion of blood and bone.

Joe repeated this process until the massive beast was nothing but a bloody heap.

Stack listened to the comms intently. By the way things sounded it wouldn’t be much longer. A bunker at Joe’s line had been destroyed and two of Stack’s had fallen along with everyone in them. Four Siege Tanks were off line and almost ever building, with the exception of the Starport was burning. Stack had given specific orders not to destroy that building. He would need that to get Drake out of here alive. Kerrigan wanted to tell him in person that he helped her destroy his pitiful civilization.

Pools of dark red blood flooded in front of each remaining bunker. But still, Zerg slowly tore away at the metal. He saw something flicker off to his right. Tiffany’s bunker was on fire! Looks like he wouldn’t have to kill her after all. Just as he thought this an Ultralisk broke through the human lines and cut through her bunker like butter. It then exploded in a flame of napalm. “Huh. A Firebat must have been in there too.” Stack smiled, “I think it’s time to get rid of the other Lieutenant.”

Joe’s comm buzzed, “Joe I have a mission for you.” A mission? He’s in the middle of a god damn battle. He fired at the closest pack of Hydras and left a red patch of sand where they stood, “What sir?” thinking he misunderstood the message. “I need you to take the men with you now and recover a Protoss scout.” Drake explained, he sounded very monotone too. “Sir there’s three men with me now. You want me to take three men, behind Zerg lines, to find a Protoss scout?” Joe asked, cramming another rocket into the launch tube. A Siege round fell and left a smoking red crater in its wake. The shells were coming in slower and slower. Tanks must have been being destroyed. “Yes.” Drake replied simply. “Excuse me sir but, are you out of your fucking mind?” Joe fired blasting a leg off an oncoming Ultralisk. “No time for argument Lieutenant. A transport is on its way now. Get your men ready and move.” Drake finalized the conversation. Joe stood still for a moment. The roar of jet engines brought him back. He crammed three more rockets into the RL and slung it over his shoulder. “Follow me.” Joe yelled, grabbing his rifle and opening up the hatch.

The three men just stood there confused but fallowed soon. A blue Dropship hovered a few yards from where they stood. Joe sprinted for it. Spines whizzed by, missing him by inches. An explosion and screech jerked Joe’s head up. A Wraith had been hit and spiraled down into the central command center. Joe jumped into the ship first and helped Dale and the Firebat in. The last marine jumped in on his own. The ramp slowly sealed itself. But before it did Joe saw the belches of flame emitting from the Siege Tanks cannons.

From the air Joe saw that they would be overwhelmed in a matter of minutes. All but one was destroyed at Joe’s line and Zerglings were closing in on it. Stacks line of tanks were smoldering ruins. Zerg were breaking through Stack’s line and Joe’s wouldn’t hold for much longer. Seven of the twelve tanks were either burning wreaks or covered with Zerglings. Mutalisk’s and Guardian’s rapped the building tops with globs of corrosive acid as Scourges detonated and left gaping holes in the building's neosteel.

And, while watching all of this, somewhere in his brain said that Drake just sent him to his death.

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