The tenth part of my space opera.
UNSC CAPTAINS LOG – SARAH KEYS CH.
United Naval Space Corps
“I… I don’t have any friends or comrades with the insurrectionists. I was labeled the ‘Harlot of the Traitor’ so I couldn’t make any friends. I might as well become the traitor they all thought that I was.”
“Well, let’s get back with the others. We don’t want to keep them for long. Mike, record what you found for classification later. We need to record all anomalies. A forensics team will take care of identifying the deceased.”
Together Sophia and I make our way back to the rest of the team, stepping over burnt rubble and debris.
“Why don’t you have me cuffed?” Sophia asks.
“It’s because I trust you. I wouldn’t be showing my trust if I had your hands tied behind your back.” I reply without hesitation.
“You Shure do put a lot of trust into someone who was just an enemy.”
“Call it intuition or insanity, but I’ll even give you back your side arm.”
Finally reaching the others, I gather Sophia’s weapons and hand her pistol back to her by the barrel. Quickly I brief the team on our findings using a secure channel. Turning, I find my father sitting against a burned car with his head in his hands.
“Mr. Keys are you OK?” My father looks up at my words.
“Why all of this death and destruction?”
“Don’t fall apart on me now. We need to get to the bottom of this situation to find out the why. So, get up, and let’s keep moving.” Extending my hand to my father I help him to his feet.
As a group once Mike returned, we make our way through the rubble keeping our sensors keyed for any signs of survival. Each time we uncover a dead body, the entire team bows their head to pay respects to the deceased.
Finally, after two hours of searching we find our first survivors buried beneath the rubble of what used to be a store in a shopping mall. It was a father and daughter pair and using all the strength our power armor can give us, we clear the rubble from on top of them and extract them.
“Leave the care of the survivors to Mr. Keys. The rest of you continues the search. Bring any survivors to Mr. Keys after you triage their wounds. Sophia and I are going to investigate the whereabouts of the other enemy squads.” The entire squad acknowledges, including my father.
After leaving the others to their work, Sophia lays out what she knows about the fire-bombing plans and where the other squads are going to be.
“There should be one squad in that government building right there, and another hitting the main city bank.” Sophia informs.
“So, they turned this into a good opportunity to rob the place?”
“You should know how expensive war is, it takes a lot of money to keep the gears of war moving and with the UNSC cracking down on illegal trade, the goods for war have gotten more expensive.”
“So, cracking down on illegal trade hurts their supply network.”
“The insurrectionists don’t have the ships to move the supplies and man, so they have to rely on illegal smugglers to move what they can’t locally source.”
“Like?” I ask to get Sophia to continue.
“Items like tanks and heavy munitions, to generals and nuclear warheads.”
“Oi! What was that you just said?” I ask, alarmed, hoping that I just misheard.
“Tanks and heavy munitions? Every large battle has those.”
“No, no, after that, the nuclear part?”
“Oh, Generals and nuclear warheads? You can’t obtain those everywhere, now can you? But why are you surprised about the nuclear warheads? The council said they already told the UNSC about them and are threatening to blow up earth.”
“No, they haven’t told anyone about the nuclear weapons. We keep looking to see if we find any, but our search always comes up short. Now I know they just obtained some as of a few hours ago when they stole a few ships, complete with their entire arsenal of munitions, but this is the first I have heard about the Insurrectionists going nuclear.”
“It appears I have a lot to tell your intelligence group… if you supply tea and cookies, I would be glad to share what I know.”
“That sounds like a plan, I’ll bake those cookies myself if I have to. Now, how about announcing your resignation like a badass and helping me clear out this government building?”
“With pleasure. But do you think we can clear it out on our own? The most skilled group was assigned to the government building so it’s not going to be an easy fight.”
“You’re going to need this then.” I toss Sophia her assault rifle back. “Welcome to the team, just try not to shoot us in the back.”
“Same to you, and I enjoy being a part of an actual team. By the way, what are you going to clear the building with? You look like you have an armory strapped to your back, with a munitions supply dump clipped to your belt?”
Grinning, I pull my pump action shotgun from my back. Sliding the pump action, I load a round from the detachable magazine. “Say hello to my little friend!”
“Even the UNSC issues those relics?”
“This one is a personal weapon. It was passed down from my cousin. I just made some small updates to the ammunition it fires so it can keep up with some of the newer guns.”
“[Oh god, did she just get out the dooms day rounds? God help us all. I think the rest of us will have to join the other side just to stop her.]” My external radio activates, streaming my teams’ complaints externally about my choice of gun.
“Come on, let’s get going before I have a mutiny on my hands.” Leading the way, I kick my way through the front doors, scattering the collection of chairs behind the door.
“Oh, it’s time to party on bitches!” I Scream as I line up the first victim and pull the trigger.
The shotgun bucks in my hand and the insurrectionist is instantly blown away with a portion of the nearby wall. Almost like clockwork, I settle into a grove and start blowing away my victims. Sophia covers the rear as I blast our path through the government building.
Shot after shot my kill count rises. Despite my destructive wall of fire, ten lucky rounds get to test my armors durability.
“Sophia, you still hanging on back there?”
The angry chatter of her assault rifle tells me that she is still behind me, and the lack of impacts on my back tells me she is still aligned with her new cause. Suddenly, the chattering stops with a loud click. Turning around I line up Sophia’s opponent and pull the trigger, blasting away both the insurgent and most of the heavy oak desk he was hiding behind.
“I think your shotgun is a little bit over powered.” Sophia comments while eyeing my shotgun.
“How can it be over powered? The building is still standing isn’t it?”
“You can’t use a buildings structural status as a reference point to a gun’s power!”
“I’m the captain of a battle ship, we use structural casualties as a frame of reference all the time. You can accurately judge the ability and output of a weapon by the depth of the crater and the circumference of destruction. Once calculated, you have the destructive output.” I explain.
“That’s for ship weapons!”
“Meh, it gets the job done in the quickest manner possible. That’s all that really matters out here. Though I should probably switch to something a little bit more delicate when working around hostages.”
You think?! With that massive cannon you have got there you will blow away not just the insurgents, but the hostages and half the building as well!”
Three more insurrectionists take this moment to ambush us. Though due to their poor spacing, a single doomsday round from my shotgun eliminates them from the entry way, along with the entry they came through.
“You know, I designed the round to negate cover, I think it performs quite well actually.”
Sophia looks at me with a look of shock on her face. “You seriously don’t get it? Do you?”
“[Welcome to the club.]” The rest of the peanut gallery I call my squad crows.
“OK, I definitely admit that it may not be the wisest weapon of choice when rescuing hostages but give me a break here. Is there really a weapon that performs every job well?”
Taking my teams concern into mind, I holster my shotgun on my back and grab my marksman rifle.
“There, that make you happy?”
“[Better than having to worry about the ceiling collapsing on your head because some moron blew up all four of the walls…]”
“Oh, whatever! How many times have I ever done that? That’s right- “
“[About five or six times so far from what I remember.]” someone from the team interrupts, putting out the number I was trying to deny.
“-Well whatever, I haven’t brought down a building this big before.”
“[Doesn’t mean you won’t try.]”
Leading with my marksman rifle, we make our way deeper into the building.
“Sophia halt, heat signatures detected on the other side of the wall in front of us. I need you to slip this camera under the door, so I can get a positive read on the hostiles.” I slip Sophia a small disk camera and pull up my viewer in my goggles.
“Six hostages, three hostiles. Marking on HUD for firing.” I call out the situation I see on the other side of the wall.
Marking the targets through the wall, I take a few steps back and raise my rifle. “Fire inbound.” I pull the trigger three times in rapid succession, shifting the barrel to each target.
“Threats neutralized, hostages secured.”
“[Another wall shot?]”
“Oh, you betchya. There’s no cleaner way to do it.” I open the door to the hostages casually, bypassing a shocked Sophia still holding the camera after she jerked it out from under the door.
Walking in, I count the hostages on the other side of the door. After verifying that all six where present, I start by removing their bindings, giving each of them freedom.
“I’m Captain Sarah Keys with the United Naval Space Corps. We happened to be stopping by, so we thought we could help?” I explain as I cut through the ropes, frowning at how dull service knifes are when we receive them.
Each of the hostages tentatively group up in the corner of the room near Sophia. Her insurrectionist uniform drawing tension in the hostages.
“Oh, don’t worry, she’s with me. We thought we would try a little cosplay and confuse the enemy.” My explanation visibly calms the people we rescued.
Each of the hostages continue to thank me as I free them. At least half of the hostages ask me to find their loved ones. My only response to them is telling them that I’ll have my crew keep an eye out for them.
The last man to be untied is one of the younger males in the group at about thirty-five. Almost immediately he starts begging. “Please! Please! You must save my wife and daughter! Those scumbags took them! They took them somewhere else! I don’t want them to die!” His frantic pleading prevents me from cutting all the way through his nylon rope bindings.
Grabbing an appropriate syringe from my med pack, I hit him below his shoulder blade with the tip and let the auto injector do its job.
“We’ll carry him out on a grav stretcher if need be. Seems like the stress of being a hostage has gotten to him. Sophia, I’m putting you in charge of the hostages. I’m going to do a speed run of the rest of the building to check for any hostages and survivors we may have missed.” Unholstering my pistol after slinging my rifle.
Making a running start out of the room, I blast my way through the building, eventually grabbing my shotgun single handedly in my left hand with my pistol in my right. Pushing through the building, I mark rooms that have been cleared on my HUD and blast away at the Insurrectionists. Hallway after hallway, and intersection after intersection, I shoot and blast my way through the building, kicking ass and taking names later.
Finally, after clearing the last room I start rounding up the hostages. Apologizing as I go for leaving them after saving them so soon, I calm those that I am able to, and sedate the broken ones.
“[I bet your out of ammo after that run. I think that’s the longest kill streak anyone has ever seen. We better watch out, the captain just hit the Nuke Drop level.]” I smirk at my teams’ comment, referencing an old video game that we used to waste our free time with.
“[This is fire control on the Invictus. Captain? You have recovered a sensitive target. Gather the recovered hostages and return to the ship ASAP for a debriefing. We have more for you to finish up here. Over.]”
“Invictus, what would you like me to do with the turncoat? Over?”
“[Do you trust her?]”
“Yes, I do.”
“[Turn her over to your team. Give her your radio unit so she can work in junction with your team.]”
“Copy that, out.”
Finally making my way to Sophia with the hostages, I turn to Sophia. “Looks like I’m heading back to the ship. Your going to be handed over to my team as my replacement. Work with them to continue the search for survivors and the flushing of insurrectionists out of the rubble.”
“You got it Captain!” Sophia reply’s as she starts checking out the hostages as I round them up for extraction.
“I need an immediate evac on my location! LZ in front of the government building, I am unable to secure it myself, so soften it up with the rotary cannon and let me know when ready!”
“[Copy that. Sierra Seven inbound. Imaging shows no hostiles in sight. A few dead bodies though. Touch down in thirty seconds.]”
Ushering the rescued hostages, I start guiding them out of the building. Doing a quick count, I can count twelve in total. “Into the shuttle! Orderly fashion!” Each of the hostages makes it into the shuttle, followed by the two that where sedated, laying together on a gravity stretcher.
“All’s in! Take her up!” I call out to the piolets as I find a spot against the bulkhead to get a little shut eye. As soon as my eyes close I fall asleep.
After action reports usually make for exciting reading material, however in this case they were a bit nauseating. Each report contained graphic images of the victims burned in the blaze. And the squads that ran into the enemy squads of soldiers have even more graphic photos, each report filled with pictures of burned and mutilated bodies.
Calmly I sort through the grim reports, trying to come up with a somewhat accurate death toll estimate. After several hours of intense studying, I finally reach a conclusion.
Filing the appropriate information into the ships database and emailing my reports to the fleet commander and the governor of the planet, I get ready for some much-needed shut eye. After changing into a pair of regulation sleep wear, someone knocks at my door.
The door opens, revealing my father. His eyes look bloodshot and his complexion pale. It’s obvious by the way he is shaking that something is bothering him.
“Can I help you with something?” I ask out of courtesy.
“Is that…” he asks in almost a whisper, not even completing his sentences.
“What, do you mean is that normal? What we saw today?”
My father nods his head, temporarily unable to produce words. Carefully I lead him into my bedroom and set him down in a chair, thankful that he is dressed in a light off duty uniform, and out of his grimy battle gear.
“No. Today was not totally normal. The method of attack was something we haven’t seen today. But I get the feeling that’s not what’s bothering you?”
“Ah. The amount of death we saw today was pretty much cut and dry normal. From the civilian casualties, to the kill counts, that about sums up a normal deployment.”
My father pales further at my answer.
“I do have to say though, we don’t usually capture an enemy commander like that. If she spills everything she knows to the intel group like she promised, we may finally have a lead on the Insurrectionists.”
“Wh-why do you continue to go out there? Why do you put yourself into harm’s way?”
“Did you ever watch any of Jakes videos? It’s because if I don’t, a lot of innocent people will die. It’s up to me and my crew to push back on them and keep the system under control.”
“Do you ever think that they are fighting to protect themselves?”