Part five of my space opera.
UNSC CAPTAINS LOG – SARAH KEYS CH.5
United Naval Space Corps
—–FIVE YEARS EALIER—UNDISCLOSED LOCATION IN CHINA—–
“PRIVATE PELHAM! WAKE YOUR ASS UP! I SAID WAKE YOUR ASS UP!”
“Sir yes sir!” The marine on the floor wakes with a start and jumps to attention, only to be stopped by the belts fastening him into the aircrafts jump seat. Other marines are sitting in the jump seats lining both the front and back of the transport helicopter. The squad captain is sitting in the middle seat against the front bulkhead looking over the marines.
“All right marines! It’s your time to shine! The good Captain Starlock has agreed to personally escort your asses out here! So, let’s make this count!” The commanding officer is shouting to be heard over the beating sound coming from the helicopters twin ducted rotors.
“Attention all squads. Check exo-suit function before drop-off. Rules for engagement. Engage all hostiles. Avoid civilian casualties at all costs. Check hostile identification before engaging unknown hostiles.” Fleet-comm orders pour over the tactical battle net.
“Fleet-comm! What is our support strike package!?” Pelham asks over the radio, knowing full well that it’s not his responsibility to ask.
“CAS will be provided by Chariot Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta once anti air establishments have been taken care of. Additional supplies can be airdropped from Dragon three if requested.”
Private Pelham nods his head as he checks that all his gear is stowed correctly and his exo frame is powered on and functioning correctly.
“Ten seconds to touchdown!” The helicopter flairs and suddenly drops between two high-rise buildings. The squad of marines in the bay get up and move to the doors of the helicopter, bearing their rifles up and checking their perimeter.
“All right Bravo! Let’s MOVE! MOVE! MOVE!” The entire squad jumps from the aircraft while it is still six feet from the ground. The sudden loss of payload, causes the helicopter to lurch back skyward.
Each member of the team remembers their training as they rush towards the first alleyway between them and their actual destination.
“Bravo, your mission is to clear the student classroom wings. Local guerrilla forces have taken the students hostage, and are trying to demand ransom from whoever they can get to pay. Team, roll call.” The commanding officer reassures his troops.
“Bravo One, Silva.” The commanding officer barks over the local channel to start the roll call.
“Bravo Two, Pelham.”
“Bravo Three, Brown.”
“Bravo Four, Mathews.”
“Bravo Five, Kiriga.”
“Bravo Six, Chu.”
“All Bravo team members accounted for. Bravo, keep your eyes peeled. Bravo five, get a good vantage point over the entrance of the school. You will provide precision cover fire for us to enter, then we will provide cover for you to move up. Squads Alpha, Charlie, and Delta are going to enter the grounds from the other sides. Let’s bring the pain!” Silva explains the situation over the radio.
The squad moves through the streets as a collective group, leaving no side uncovered.
“School yard spotted across the street. Six hostiles guarding the grounds entrance, another two guarding the building entrance, and four patrolling the grounds” Bravo Five reports.
“Hey Silva, what do these terrorists want with school children anyways? Wouldn’t it be more profitable to rob a bank?”
“Mathews, do you even know what the implications are of robbing a bank? Most banks contain money that belongs to people overseas. Robbing a bank for funds will likely piss off other countries, thus drawing more people against their cause. And a school is much more profitable. Whatever kids they can’t ransom off in time, will be taken and sold into slavery, fetching them a neat price. This school has a mix between middle school and high school. And as a bonus to the terrorists, about seventy percent of this school is female, and that will fetch them a bigger ransom, and a bigger black-market price.” Silva lays it on hard and cold.
“Just hearing that makes me want to go and destroy these bastards.”
“Pelham, you will have your chance.” Silva keys his radio. “Bravo Five, you in position?”
Two clicks come over the radio. The squads signal for affirmative.
“Bravo Five, I need you to take out the two outer most patrols.”
Two more clicks, and two shots sounding like popcorn, come from the building overhead as the patrols slump to the ground.
“Bravo Five, Work your way from the front to the back, sweeping left.”
Two clicks from the radio, and more popcorn sounding pops go off. The patrols falling one by one to the ground.
“The rest of you, move up.”
The rest of the squad minus Kiriga moves from cover to cover, entering the school grounds. Reaching the doors, squad leader Silva turns to his men.
“Bravo Five, move up. Rest of Bravo cover him. As soon as Kiriga gets here, we split into two-man teams and clear the building. Eliminate the hostiles, and secure the civilians in place until we are ready for evacuation.”
A chorus of ten clicks comes over the radio.
As soon as Kiriga joined the rest of the group, the squad broke into twos. Moving from classroom to classroom, each two-man team opened the classroom doors and took down the hostiles with their suppressed pistols.
“Hey Mathews, how many rooms are on this wing? It seems like we have opened about a dozen doors so far.” Pelham changes the magazine on his pistol for the umpteenth time.
“I have no clue. But at this rate I think we should grab the suppressors for our rifles to conserve on our sidearm ammunition. I know I brought a few extra cases of rounds, but I don’t think we can go all day like this.” Mathews unslings his pack and rifles through it finding a suppressor can.
“Let’s just hope we don’t make too much noise. These rifles are going to be difficult wielding around these doors.” Pelham commented while screwing his own suppressor can onto the end of his assault rifle.
The two silently preceded to the next door down the hallway. An orange metal plate protruded from the bottom of the door, and the door itself had several boot prints on it.
“Bravo One, this is Bravo Two. Looks like we have evidence of a failed forced entry. Looks like there are civilians holed up inside.”
“Bravo Two, mark the door and continue. If you have a pen and a paper, slip them a note. Over.”
Pelham pulls out a small note pad and a pen and starts writing. When finished, he tears the sheet off, folds it in half, and slips it under the door.
“What did you write them?” Mathews asks.
“Oh just a friendly little note, letting them know that we will be back for them to evacuate. I’m hoping that they see the note.”
“Well, Next door. This one is unlocked.” Mathews turns the door handle and shoulders the door open, holding his rifle at firing position.
Four muffled pops are heard before an unsilenced gunshot rings out. Pelham, standing right behind Mathews, sees the paint fragment from their side of the door, and immediately determines where the rounds are coming from. Two more rounds hit the door before Pelham grabs Mathews by his backpack, pulls him out of the room, and kicks the door the rest of the way open. As soon as the assailant is visible, Pelham cycles the trigger on his rifle, letting four rounds loose in quick succession.
A cloud of red mist settles around where the assailant was standing, settling on several students.
“Bravo One, this is Bravo Two. We have broken the silence. Do we have an evacuation route ready for the civilians?”
“This is Bravo Three, the Gymnasium is over run with Hostiles, however we do not see any hostages. Looks like the grail has not been shattered yet.”
“This is Bravo One. All teams escort your hostages to the entrance we arrived at. Bravo Three and Six, assist Two and Four. Looks like they are stacked with hostages, they will need some assistance.”
“Well looks like we are getting a little help. You know any Chinese?” Mathews looks over to Pelham.
“I know a little bit. Enough to order food at least.” Pelham replies with a chuckle.
“都跟着我疏散疏散.” Pelham tries to translate his intentions.
“Well let’s hope they understand your mumblings and get them out of here.”
Suddenly a young teacher gets up from behind her desk with a surprised look on her face. Quickly she starts gathering the children.
“Pelham, why do you recon the hostile behind the door was there?”
Pelham looks around where that hostile fell. Picking up the remains of a small shirt and a small bra he holds them up to examine.
“This might be why. Looks like he decided to have a little ‘entertainment’ while waiting.”
Mathews dismounts his pack and pulls out a thin space blanket. “You have the better luck with the ladies, find out who’s those belong to, and give her this as a temporary replacement. She is probable going to be traumatized so you will have to carry her out. I’ll cover you.”
Pelham scans the room and finds the girl in question curled up under a desk in the corner of the room. Another student, presumably her friend, has draped her own jacket over her friend and tries calming her down with soothing words.
Pelham unslings his rifle and kneels next to the two girls. Unfolding the space blanket, he hands it to the victims friend.
“朋友？” Pelham tries asking.
The victims friend nods her head. “I speak some English.”
“That will help. Your friend. Was she…”
“No. She grabbed. Nothing more. Her name Lin. I Chen.”
Chen nods her head up and down.
“Ok Chen, I need you to cover Lin with this blanket to cover her up. I will carry her out. Make sure she is covered nice and tight so the blanket doesn’t fall off.”
“You kind. Name?”
“Why thank you. You can call me Jake. Make sure Lin is covered for me.”
Pelham turns to Mathews. “Mathews, I need you to gather these students near the door. Think you can get them to gather in a block formation?”
“No problem Boss. It looks like miss teacher speaks some English to. That should help a little.” Mathews turns to the teacher and explains to her how to gather the students.
Pelham turns back to Lin and Chen. “Ready?”
Chen nods her head and props Lin up. Due to the difference in age and nationality, there is a large difference between our body size, so Pelham gently holds Lin with her arms around his neck much like a mother would hold a sleeping toddler. With Chens help, she gets Lin to calm down a little bit and has her hold onto him a little tighter so she won’t fall off.
“Bravo Three, this is Bravo Two. Be advised we are exiting from the south side of the hallway to our randevu point. We have a group of hostages with us, and one casualty. Over.” Pelham nods to Mathews.
Mathews carefully opens the door and pokes his rifle out. Scanning every direction in the corridor, he calls the coast is clear. Motioning to the teacher, he has her guide the students as a group into the hallway.
“Pelham, you take point, and I’ll take rear. We’re most likely to be attacked from the rear.” Mathews holds his rifle at the ready as Pelham gestures to the children around him to follow.
Surprisingly quietly, the students move as one. The teacher gently knocks on several doors as we move down the hallway, gathering instructors and students as we move down the hallway.
“This is Bravo Three and Six, Approaching on your left.”
“Brown, Chu. Good to see you again. Cover us as we move between the classes.” Pelham moves to the locked classroom and knocks three times on the door slowly. After a few seconds the metal plates protruding from the bottom of the door move, and disappear under the door. Suddenly the door is wrenched open and an old assault rifle belonging to the terrorists is jammed into Pelham’s face.
One of the instructors in the group starts conversing with the owner of the gun in rapid fire Chinese, asking her to not point the gun at their saviors. Soon the door opens, and seven more students pour out into the hallway with their teacher.
Pelham and Mathews continue to direct the group back to the entrance they came in at, collecting whoever they can along the way.
Pelham looks over at Brown standing next to him. “So, what did you and Chu see in that Gym. Why do you think there are so many terrorists in that gymnasium?”
“They were all gathered around a cylindrical object on a large vehicle pallet. They had a panel open on the cylinder and where tinkering with the insides of it.”
“Anything else you could remember? Where there any other pallets in the room?”
“Now that you mention it, there was a pallet in the corner of the room that had something that kind of resembled a set of fins from a guided missile or a guided bomb. But it had a parachute pouch attached to it.”
“Mother of god. Or shall I say mother of all bombs, this is not good.”
Pelham grabs the radio off Browns vest, switches the frequency, and depresses the key.
“Attention all squad leaders, this is Bravo Two. We have confirmation that the terrorists possess a weapon of mass destruction. Upon reviewing Bravo Three’s account of what was in the room, it appears they are rigging a Massive Ordinance Air Blast bomb to a manual detonator.”
“Bravo Two, this is Fleet-com. Proceed with the evacuations. If need be we can perform an airstrike on the building with the WMD to neutralize the threat.”
“Negative Fleet-com, there may be civilians in that building.”
“Good call Bravo Two, As soon as you drop off your evacuees, proceed to the building the WMD is located in and scout the area for any civilians. Fleet-com out.”
Pelham hands Brown his radio back. “Quickly, lets get the hostages to the evac point.”
“All teams this is Alpha. Enemy AA is down. I repeat, enemy anti air is now down.”
“Chen, can you grab my radio from my shoulder for me? I can’t reach it.”
Chen runs forward and grabs Pelham’s radio, handing it to him. Before she moves back into the group she checks on Lin, who is sobbing into his shoulder.
“Chariot Bravo, this is Bravo Two. We need an immediate evac of civilians. Copy?”
“Copy that Bravo Two, LZ will be directly in front of the doors you entered.”
Pelham looks at his team members. Each of them already busy escorting the group towards the LZ.
“Bravo Two, this is Bravo One. Kiriga and I have swept the entirety of Bravo’s sectors. Ensure your civilians are evacuated immediately. Are you still sure you want to check the gym?”
“You know that I am going to check. Is there any need to ask?”
Rounding the final corner, Pelham looks through the glass doors and sees the rear ramp of the transport helicopter.
“Ok, everybody into the bird!” Quickly Pelham strides into the helicopter, and sets Lin down on the seat designated as his during sorties.
“Chariot Bravo, as soon as you are done loading, get them all out of here, off load in the secure zone, and get your ass back here. I may need your assistance.”
“Copy that Bravo Two.”
Pelham turns and runs down the ramp just as the last of the hostage’s board. Pelham continues running through the school’s hallways, following the signs towards the Gym. After approximately fifteen minutes of running, climbing and crawling, Pelham achieves a vantage point to look over the floor below.
“Tactical note. The Weapon of mass destruction is an older model Massive Ordinance Air Blast bomb designated as the GBU forty-three B. Appears to be wired to a manual detonation timer used in mine explosives.”
Pelham moves down from his vantage point on the roof, and enters the side of the building through a small window. Inside Pelham finds himself in an almost flowery smelling locker room. Proceeding towards the doors leading to the main gym, Pelham checks every corner of the room.
Just before he reaches the exit Pelham hears a crash coming from a private bathroom. Pelham grabs the door and rips it open, wrenching the lock open in the process. Shoving his rifle muzzle into the room first and switching on his barrel mounted flashlight, a girlish squeal comes from the room. Pulling his rifle from the room, Pelham peers into the room, knowing that whoever is in the room is harmless.
On the floor of the bathroom is a young middle school girl. Pelham quickly grabs her arm and puts her over his shoulder, grabbing his sidearm in the process. With the girl over his shoulder, he makes his way into the gym. Raising his pistol, Pelham cycles the trigger as he runs towards the exit on the other side of the room. Using his body to shield the young girl, he keeps the enemy on his free side. Soon the slide of his pistol locks back, signaling that the magazine is empty.
Finally in the door frame, something slams into Pelham’s back, sending both him and the girl to the floor. Pelham turns and lets the girl fall on top of him, using his body to cushion the fall.
“Young girl, what is your name?” Pelham asks the frightened little girl.
“OK Mia, I am going to need you to run down this hallway to the other people dressed like me. As soon as you see them, head to the exit, and you will find a helicopter waiting outside. Now go! RUN!” Pelham turns away from the girl, who is now stumbling her way away from the gym.
Grabbing his assault rifle from over his shoulder, Pelham staggers to his feet and dashes back into the gym. With the rifle on three round burst mode, Pelham methodically works his way through the enemy combatants, ignoring the rounds flying towards him. Three men who where rushing towards the main gym doors to pursue him and the girls got new lead lined holes in their faces, while the combatants that where standing next to the bomb got their insides rearranged.
“Chariot Bravo, this is Bravo Two! I need two A-two-G rockets on these markers! Then I need you to extract the rest of Bravo and the civilian Mia!”
“Copy that Bravo Two, air to ground missiles inbound with positive locks.”
Pelham tosses a designator grenade into the midst of the combatants. The moment the grenade touches the floor, two rockets burst through the windows and dig into the ground next to the grenade, causing a massive explosion that throws Pelham against the other side of the gym.
Shrugging off the effects of the explosion, Pelham craws towards the bomb, Pelham leans against the cold aluminum casing and brings his rifle to his shoulder. As soon as he gets his finger settled on the trigger, terrorists burst through a side entrance of the gym.
The screen suddenly went static.
“Mr. and Mrs. Keys, this footage I just showed you was the body cam footage of private Pelham’s last fight. He was able to serve in forty-seven separate missions, and was involved in over seventy firefights. He was, and is in our eyes, a true war hero. The only thing that kept him at the rank of private, was at his insistence that he enjoyed being out on the field, taking orders.”
Father spoke up. “How come this wasn’t released when he died?”
“This incident was not released during the time of the incident, due to the fact that a weapon of mass destruction was found at the scene that had traces back to our home country, and it was located in a foreign country. Releasing that information at the time would have caused an international incident and could have sparked another world war at the time.”
“I agree that it is good you finally shed some light on Jake’s death, but how does this fit into the situation with my two girls?”
“Mr. Keys, I showed you that to prove that the UNSC are not a group of murderers, and that Pelham was indeed killed in action. As for your girls, Sarah was a top mark student in officers training, and has proven to be a reliable and exemplimentary captain. As for Anita… all I have to base my opinion of her is the little interaction I had with her on the cruise ship, and off hand accounts from Sarah. But from what I can till in person, I think she is slightly self centered.”
“And you expect us to believe that?”
“Mr. Keys, how about this. Since you do not believe in your youngest daughter, you will shadow her during her next deployment to get a feel of what she does during her active duty.” John peaks my curiosity with this new idea of his.
“And what would I have to gain missing work to shadow her?”
“Her next mission will be a little over one-week long. Since the company you work for is a subsidiary owned by the UNSC, I can get you time off for the time you will be gone. Also, if you provide yourself useful during the journey, we will pay you at the same as what your daughter will get paid for her service.”
“John, do I get any say in this?” I say voicing my displeasure.
“No. This seems to be the only other way to defuse this situation. And if you don’t want to accept the order from me, I can have the fleet commander issue the order.”
“So let me get this straight. You want me to shadow my youngest daughter at work, and you are willing to pay me to do it?”
“That would be correct Mr. Keys, all you would really have to do is follow your daughter around, and maybe participate in normal shipboard operations and drills. Please discuss this with your wife, and let me know your decision. Now on to the main topic for me being here… Since Captain Keys has been cleared of desertion charges, she is required to attend the awards ceremony tomorrow evening at the naval shipyards. Your entire family is invited to watch the ceremony. Also, since your eldest daughter has joined the civilian branch of the UNSC, she will also be receiving her dispatch orders tomorrow night also.”
“Well we don’t have anything to do tomorrow evening, however I don’t thing I can get off work early tomorrow to ride the elevator up to the station.”
“Transportation will be provided Mr. Keys.”
“Honey, I think we should go. It’s the least we can do for Sarah. If you think about it, we haven’t been treating her the same as her sister. And no matter what way we look at this, it seems that Anita has been leading us to believe that Sarah has been the problem.” Mother finally comes to my rescue.
“Mother, Father, I would like to inform you that as soon as I return from my next mission, I will be filing for independence from the family. It will release you both from responsibility, and will allow me to have a much freer range of operations being out from under parental guidance.