UNSC CAPTAINS LOG – JOHN MATHEWS AUTUMNS RETRIBUTION
United Naval Space Corps
“Hand me one of those shield units. I have a feeling we might have to shield against heavy fire.” I call out over the radio.
“Might? I think the forecast calls for a definite chance of plasma fire.” One of the members of the fire-team smarts back.
“Ok, I mis-phrased that. We will encounter heavy fire.” I correct myself, grabbing the offered energy shield that is essentially a miniaturized version of our ship’s shields.
“Fire team is a go.” The fire team leader calls out as the door drops to the ground.
“Fire team, Phalanx positions.” I call out, causing the fireteams to gather in a V shaped line, linking their shield generators together to boost the output and create a seamless wall of shields.
Advancing out of the rear of our transport, we step onto the Icy and rocky barren asteroid. Once we have cleared the tail of the craft, I check the surroundings for any signs of hostiles.
“Nothing visual. That confirms that they have advanced stealth.” I call out as I start scanning my radar feed from the shuttle.
“Anything on radar Captain?”
“Definitely. I can tell they are trying to hide their signal by absorbing the signal, but I’m seeing a big blank spot right in front of us.” I point with my armored hand where I saw the anomaly.
After a few seconds of pointing, three figures descend from the massive spaceship that suddenly appeared. Looking at its design, I can clearly tell that it’s not something made by human hands.
“Jeff Matthews! I would like to speak with you regarding the safety of earth!” I shout towards him.
“I don’t think he is in a speaking mood right now.” Salina calls over the radio, just as a bolt of plasma from a hidden rifle slams against our linked shields.
“Obviously. I just want to speak to him that’s all. I don’t need the fighting when we have the Kirrix war going on. If I lose any soldiers here, that will just make protecting Reach a little more difficult.”
More bolts of plasma continue slamming our shields from now visible rifles, and the now visible commandos holding them.
“Fire team, Split formation and flank maneuver. Spread our fire pattern wide to cover all angles.” I order the fire team, their captain acknowledging my orders.
Laying down plenty of fire, my small group makes our advance in the open, relying on the shields to hold back the barrage of plasma fire.
“Anybody of the Matthews clan, if you can hear me, cease fire so we can discuss the situation!” I call out again desperately.
“Captain, I have bad news. If you take out Jeff, Ship will most likely end up destroying this end of the galaxy in rebellion.” Salina informs me.
“Great. Ship is your ships AI?”
“Calara, see if you can contact their ships AI. Let it know what we are here for.”
“Affirmative. By the way Captain. I might have spotted a living bio signature in a pile of debris not too far from the ruptured reactor.”
“Go check it out. If it is what I am thinking you are looking for that my come in han—” I’m suddenly interrupted by something slamming down on the upper edge of the shield wall. Looking up I don’t see anything, but I feel a presence swinging towards us.
Before I can even call out the unseen force slams against us from our right flank, knocking us out of formation, and even blowing away one of the fire-team members into space, his boot clamps and the small gravity field we put up obviously not enough to keep him on the icy rock.
“Watch for unknown battering ram! I cant se—ACK!” Something grabs me by the throat of my battle armor, as something else wraps around my waist, securing my arms to my sides. Glancing down, I see nothing holding me as the invisible force tries to squeeze the life out of me.
Alarms start blaring in my helmet as the seals of my suite threaten to let loose and vent all of my atmosphere. The combination of twisting and pressure causes a leak to suddenly develop on my right forearm, causing my suite to seal off that section, exposing my arm to the vacuum of space.
I look at Jeff in the eye as he sneers at me, with his face contorted in concentration. Using a gesture, I select for my face mask to unpolarize, so I can show my final moments to my killer. Jeff’s grip relaxes for a second before tightening again as he realizes who I am.
That second of relief is all I need to break my left arm free. Reaching up, I jamb my fingers between whatever is grabbing me and my throat.
“Fire team retreat!” I rasp, still not able to pass enough air.
The grip gets even tighter, pulling my boots out of the ice and dangling me in the low gravity. More popping can be heard as my heads-up display winks out.
“Captain! I found John Mathews! I found his bio signature! He’s got bad radiation burns but he’s barely alive!” Calara exclaims excitedly through my external speaker, now that my earpiece is dead.
Struggling to talk, I key my mike. “Go find him! Get him to the Elnath Collective! Fire team Iris, get out of here!”
The leader of the fireteam calls his squad to reconvene back in formation behind me.
“Negative Captain, give us the order to fire!” The squad leader defiantly stands his ground.
“Get.. out.. of… here!” I choke out, watching as the spider web of cracks spreads across my visor.
With a nod from fire team Iris’ leader, a few of them drop to their knee and open fire, concentrating their fire on the sides of Jeff’s crew. As a segmented group, Iris splits and leapfrogs backwards towards the transport.
“Girls, go get them, while I take care of this snake.” Jeff sneers, as he grips me tighter, squeezing the life out of me as I feel the atmosphere inside my fire suite start to slowly depressurize. Jeff brings me closer as he squeezes tighter, giving me a good look at his space suit. Obviously not designed nor manufactured by human hands. Its smooth lines hug the wearers body, looking more like a skin suite attached to a oddly shaped fish bowl.
My breath tries to come quicker, as I slowly asphyxiate. My breath attempting one final gasp before the entire world goes black. The last thing I see is Jeff’s face of confusion with a hand on his shoulder.
—–INT. ATMOS. RES.: DEPLETED
—–EXT. ATMOS.: BREATHABLE
—–USER: CARRIE HENSWORTH
—–USER STATE: UNCONCIOUSES
I groan as I try to lift my head. The strength missing from my limbs. My eyes are greeted with a list of cracked messages as my armor goes through its diagnostics, the visor a mess of cracks and chips, most likely no longer air tight.
Unfastening the latches, I remove my helmet, trying to blink the fogginess from my eyes.
“About time you are awake.”
I startle at the sound of the voice next to me, instantly recognizing it as one of John’s mothers, Arlene. Groaning I try to clear my headache by shaking my head.
Looking at my armor, I realize that all my spare equipment has been stripped from its mounting points, leaving me only with my armor and mark one fists for defense and offence.
“Ship was not sure about removing your suit. She said it was tied into your nervous system and she didn’t want to risk making you go brain dead.” Arlene explains why I’m still donned in my armor.
“Does that really even matter?”
“We are not murderers.” Arlene responds with anger at my accusations.
I pause to let Arlene’s temper cool, the silence defining between us.
“And I’m not a spaceship captain… But if you’re not a murderer, then what do you call the most recent battle?”
“Protecting ourselves and protecting our home and planet.”
“Protecting a planet from humans… You do realize there where a fair number of people that wanted to go back home to earth and couldn’t because of you. But that’s neither here nor there.”
“It’s a valid reason to want to protect your home- “
“Without asking if we where invited or not? Back to your point of not being a murderer… Your family’s actions in the most recent battle broke many inter-galactical laws regarding the treatment and handling of emergency evacuation vehicles. Why did your forces open fire on the emergency life pods that where launched from the Autumns Retribution?”
“Don’t tell me that you where trying to protect earth.” I interrupt. “Protect the earth from a group of stranded sailors? Sailors that have families to get back to? Or was that the idea… Shock the mothers and wife’s behind the men on the front line… keep them from sending their boys into battle…”
Only silence comes from Arlene.
Checking my right arm, I remove the seals for detaching the arm and pull my arm free. The mangled mess that greets me isn’t surprising. Everything had already thawed while I was knocked out, but the thawing had allowed massive blood blisters to form. What wasn’t blisters was purple and blue from massive bruising.
A sharp gasp comes from Arlene as she sees my arm, clearly distraught at the sight.
“Oh, don’t act like you haven’t seen this kind of stuff before. Its only decompression damages. If my suit hadn’t constricted at the base of my arm, the nitrogen bubbles in the blood would have killed me. At this point its only a lump of dead flesh.” Looking past Arlene towards the doorway I hear boots storming down the hallways. “Looks like your husband is on his way here…”
Sitting cross-legged, I set the removed armor piece in front of me and inspect my arm further.
“ARLENE!” Jeff bursts into the room shouting Arlene’s name. Seeing Arlene in a state of shock, Jeff pulls out a pistol and levels it with my head.
“Do it.” I counter, threatening him to pull the trigger.
Jeff hesitates, his pistol wavering as he looks from my arm to my armor laying on the floor.
The standoff continues until Arlene jumps up between Jeff’s pistol and I, catching both of us by surprise.
“Don’t kill her…” Arlene sobs out.
“Why? Why shouldn’t he kill me? I’m just a captured prisoner of war. I don’t expect you to suddenly show mercy and treat your POW’s kindly. Just consider me another sailor in a life pod and pull that dam trigger.”
Jeff lowers the pistol, pulling Arlene into a comforting hug. After a few minutes of hugging in front of me, Jeff releases Arlene and addresses me.
“Explain yourself. What about these life pods?”
I sneer at Jeff as I reattach my armors arm, allowing me to move my right arm through the armor’s actuators. “Two life pods from the Autumns Retribution where recovered with the occupants still alive. The other forty-eight had damage that varied from holes punched through them, exposing the occupants to vacuum, or where reduced to fragments the size of gravel. Ten souls survived, the Captain is still missing in action, and that was just on one ship. There have been twenty-five capital ships lost in this conflict alone. That’s enough for a system fleet.”
“Now tell me this. Why did you open fire on life pods? Their transponder is designed to broadcast on every known frequency.”
Jeff’s brow wrinkles in thought, then relaxes as his face pales. “All of their messages are here… Untouched…” Jeff gasps. “We killed them… not bothering to answer their calls for mercy…”
I wait as Jeff struggles with the realization of his actions.
“Mr. Mathews, don’t even bother with it. Your government will be the one to answer for the crimes at the intergalactic tribunal. A fitting reparation will be decided there.”
“No but’s about it. Now weren’t you in the middle shooting me in the head and dumping my body overboard before we got side tracked? Or have you suddenly decided that you would like to follow proper procedures for keeping prisoners of war?”
“I can’t shoot you. Your soon to be my son’s wife… I can’t do that to him.”
“I never heard it put that way, but the thought isn’t all that bad. Though that is determined if John can survive until the crew of the Winged Serpent can get him to the medical care that he needs.”
“Call them back! We can get him the medical treatment he needs!” John demands passionately.
“I don’t think so. His chances of surviving with any of the medical facilities around here are nonexistent. He needs advanced care. I have seen what advanced stages of radiation poising looks like from other accident victims. Its never pretty.”
“We have advancements… medical technology that we cant talk about, but it could save his life!”
“You healer does not have the resources and experience dealing with these kinds of wounds… And yes I know about your healer. I have even conversed with her once while you where sleeping in the living room.”
Jeff looks panicked, rubbing at his back where the little alien healer was spread across his shoulders, where he thought she was out of sight.
“While I am sure you are quite confidant in her ability to heal John, she is woefully under prepared for this. Plus, I have no way to contact the Winged Serpent. My radio is out of range and most of the way busted.”
Jeff looks at the floor, conflict spread across his sharp features. “About these life pods… I’m sorry that we killed them…”
“Don’t worry about feeling guilt. Most of the captains that survived after ordering the call to abandon ship had to go into extensive counseling when they where rescued as they felt they had personally ordered their crews execution by making them abandon ship.”
“But its not their fault!”
“It doesn’t matter. They still felt they where responsible. We had one captain send out as many life pods as he had bridge crew, then purged the entire ship of atmosphere all at once. Explosively putting his crew down instead of having them killed in a rescue pod.”
“That’s barbaric!” Ann exclaimed, suddenly appearing from behind Jeff.
“He left us a message saying he wanted to go to hell personally killing them instead of sending them to their deaths.”
Silence permeated the room.
“Now if you don’t mind, I am going to exercise my galactic prisoner of war right to remain silent and get some shut eye as I am absolutely exhausted, and my arm is killing me, though since you don’t follow those rules, just feel free to beat the information out of me… As an asshole once said, ‘every woman could use a good beating.’”
With a sneer towards Jeff I pick up my helmet and slip it over my head. Engaging the locks despite the internal atmosphere being offline. Leaning against a bulk head I close my eyes and quickly slip into dream land despite my injuries.
How do you quantify luck? Well one really can’t… however if a scientist where able to quantify luck as a number, I don’t think I would want to know mine…
It was just my ‘luck’ to be knocked off that asteroid, and it was just my ‘luck’ that I was found, not by friendlies but by the enemy. Here I am floating through space, willing to accept a ride from anyone that isn’t shaped like an insect, and those bastards decide to pelt me with multiple energy rifles. While not all that much of a concern, especially with armor, those bastards still hurt.
So yep… that me. Being interrogated by these earth picketing aliens. At least they are humanoid shaped… and the ones I am assuming to be female, are delightfully shaped.
“Chief Petty Officer Second class Samuel Ambrose, serial number delta marines three three six one five six.”
The bigger of these creatures jabs me in the ribs with the barrel of his rifle.
“Chief Petty Officer Second class Samuel Ambrose, serial number delta marines three three six one five six.”
I have been chanting my name rank and serial number like a mantra every time they poke or stab me with something… which seems to be all the time as we navigate the spacious confines of their ship. But something is bugging me. Something about the size of this ship… I put that thought in the back of my head as we come to an open door. With a firm kick to my back they push me into the room and slam the door behind me. The only thing adorning the room is a bench sticking out of the rear wall, and the door on the opposite side.
“Oh, come on… Your not going to at least take me out for drinks?” I joke. “Oh well, at least they aren’t the Kirrix… Dam bugs.” I mutter, honestly thankful that I at least want picked up with the parasitic Kirrix.
Sitting on the only thing considered furniture in the room, I dismount my helmet and start running through diagnostics through my gear. Thankfully I hadn’t taken too much damage in the initial attack, and the energy rifles they where blasting me with only really filled the shield capacitors as the suit tried to passively absorb the blows.
Silence and solitude with my tasks only lasts about ten minutes, before the door is opened again, and one of the more shapely aliens walks in, allowing the door to slide shut silently behind them.
“Well good evening there… As you might have heard, I’m Chief Petty Officer Second class Samuel Ambrose, serial number delta marines three, three, six, one, five, six. You can just call me Sam though. I don’t mind. But may I know who I am speaking with?”
The alien crosses their arms towards me. An idea springs forth in my mind about its behavior.
“Let me hazard a guess… I’m kept on a need to know basis most of the time, but I bet your Terran… Or Human as Earth natives like to call themselves.” Hah, that made them flinch.
“And let me hazard just one more guess… though its not safe to let a marine think… judging by the altercation with Hensworth, and the royal beat down we got while leaving Earth… You must be related to Captain Mathews… John is it?” Ohm, another flinch. I think I narrowed it down.
“So if im not mistaken, you must either be Johns mother… or older sister-“ *SMACK* quicker than I could react the shapely alien back hands me with more force than I thought possible, knocking me to the floor.