CHAPTER 2: Welcome aboard MaggotUNSC Flagship Hercules; Pelican Landing DeckLocation: Earth's Lower Atmosphere
The landing deck had slowly been filling in with platoons of marines as the intercoms ordered one of the companies to report. Space between the Pelicans and the ships walls grew smaller as people in uniform began showing up. At first everyone seemed disorganized and wandered about aimlessly, some even formed up their own little groups to converse among each other. Though each one of them looked just like the guy next to them, they seemed to know the difference. When that company's commander showed up, he waited a moment before calling his company to come together, "Echo, fall in!"
The soldiers did as they were all told, the squad leaders counting off the steps away from the single platoon sergeant before standing to attention and soon followed the squad members beside their leaders to copy the position. The platoon sergeant then asked the squad leaders to report and each one told the sergeant how many were present in their squad and if someone had been missing.
With an about face, the platoon sergeant saluted her commander and and reported, "All present and accounted for."
The commander looked over the large platoon and studied the group of soldiers. The platoon was too big to stay single and he almost smiled at the thought of finally being able to announce a replacement for the missing platoon sergeant. Giving his approval to the platoon sergeant, he began his speech to the company, "As you know, during our last encounter with the Covenant we lost a platoon sergeant along with a few good men. You all have been good sports in becoming one platoon, but now we have a replacement. The ones lost in battle will not be forgotten, but let's take this time to get acquainted with your new platoon sergeant and get some of you moved to that platoon."
The commander walked down the row of Squads and members and each one he placed a hand upon moved to the other side of the company to form a new platoon. He paused at a rather short soldier, her height only reaching five feet even. She looked just like the rest, but for some reason he did recognize her and even offered her a smile. "I think you'll do better in the other platoon, you know the sergeant who will be in control." he told her as he touched her shoulder lightly and pointed to the other side as the soldiers began filing into their new locations. The petite soldier said nothing, made no motion of facial expression. She fell out of her current spot and fell into a new one on the opposite end.
Satisfied at his progress, the commander returned to his position at the front of the company and ushered forth the new platoon Sergent. "This is Sergeant Jacobs and he will be the 2ND platoon leader. You don't have to like him, but get to know him and follow his orders. 1st platoon get familiar with your new members and fall out. 2ND platoon get familiar with your new platoon leader."
The commander gave a light pat on Sergeant Jacob's back and lowered his voice to only speak to him, "I'll leave you to your platoon. Once we reach word from Admiral Bane about the spartans, you'll prepare for evac. Give you a chance to better familiarize with your new platoon. That's all, carry on."
The sergeant said nothing, nodding his head, his blue eyes watched as the older man walked away and then gazed at the 1st platoon before moving his full attention to the 2ND platoon. He made his way around the platoon and looked at them all for a moment in silence. Walking in between the rows of soldiers he began talking, "It is a shame that the covenant took so many of us last time. Your last platoon sergeant may have done his best, but I will see to it that I will better fit the position and keep casualties to a minimum. I've had a good share of encounters and will pass what knowledge I have gained to you and we'll be the best in the companies.."
He stopped in front of the small woman. It seemed like a lot of people were doing that today. Maybe it was because she was shorter than the other soldiers and that made her stick out. It could have been her eyes that indicated more experience than her ranking, but whatever the reasoning, the woman would refuse to talk unless she was forced to do so. She was a private and a lot of her past was confidential, her only concern was to survive the battles with the covenant. Therefore, she didn't need to make small talk nor did she need any friends unless she was ordered to do so.
The sergeant leaned forward and studied her green eyes, as his blue narrowed. He studied her for a good two minutes, trying to compute what he was seeing before him. His breath touching her face, she wanted to push him away from her, but instead she continued to stare forward in a hallow gaze.
"Shana..?" he whispered almost unsure of himself. His eyes looked upon her ranking and then went back to look upon her aging face. "...what did you do?" he asked, almost not expecting a response back.
She said nothing, and didn't react to the name he had used. Her expression said nothing. The sergeant could have been wrong, the soldier might not have been the name he had referred to her as, but he knew her and wasn't fooled by her actions. Standing back up straight the man looked at her a second longer before he continued his walk down the rows of soldiers. "Before I allow you to fall out I want guns cleaned, loaded, and ready to go. Once we receive word from Admiral Bane, I'll take the most prepared squad out to battle. If we're lucky, maybe we'll even see a spartan. Fall out!" he said and moved away from the group of soldiers.
They did as they were told, taking one step back before grouping off in their own little groups and walking toward the armory.
"A spartan..can you believe that?"
"Seems so early to go into battle..I just got out of training.."
"I heard they look like giants compared to us.."
"Never seen one?"
Many voices were heard around as they moved past the small soldier. She allowed them to weave around her as she stood still a moment and thought about all that the sergeant had said. There were many things off about it that didn't sit right with her. He knew who she was, but then again..she recognized him herself, and in a way that disgusted her knowing how she knew him. He wasn't a bad man, she didn't dislike him..it wasn't a fond feeling knowing he was in command now. Spartans...there was another that didn't sit right in the pit of her stomach. The woman didn't like them for more than one reason.
The soldier looked back one more time at the sergeant before shaking her head. As if just another ant in the hill, the 34 year old woman followed the crowd of soldiers to the armory to follow orders.
After walking down the corridor and waiting for the doors to slide open to give her access into the armory she paused at the entrance and watched as one greenhorn picked up HER weapon. Her head gathered heat and anger swelled up in her throat. Walking rather hurriedly toward him she snatched the old rifle from his hands and held it close.
If eyes could kill, he'd have been dead twice already. "Whoa..." he said and backed up a few steps, holding his hands up in defense. "Easy.."
"Touching another soldier's gun is against protocol. Your dealing with a life of another and that can cause you major problems. If that life happens to die and you're found to be the one messing with a gun that didn't belong to you before hand.." She snapped at him.
The young soldier rubbed the back of his head. "Sorry..I didn't know it was yours. That's an old model..don't you want to change it? The older assult rifles can jam up and can take longer to load.." he would have continued his little speech if the woman hadn't turned her back to him and walked away.
He looked to his friend beside him and pointed a thumb in her direction as she continued to walk across the room. "What the hell..was that. Ain't she a little too old to be a private?"
His friend snicked and shook his head as he himself reached for a rifle to begin his evaluation of that particular weapon.
She cursed beneath her breath. How dare a snot nose brat barely passed puberty tell her that HER gun was no good. The woman had had this gem since she herself first joined the marines and took damn good care of it. That was nearly sixteen years ago..she could hardly imagine that she had been trapped in this hell for so long.
Sighing, the soldier placed her rifle on the table and quickly took it apart. Reaching for her cleaning supplies, she inspected each individual piece to make sure the greenhorn hadn't damaged anything. The old scratches and indentations gave it's age away and old stained purple splats here and there couldn't be taken away by any cleaning she could dare use on it.
It was a good rifle. She took care of it and it had returned the favor many times. The kid might have been right..the newer models did seem to be better in battle, but she didn't trust those ones. The woman knew her weapon better than she knew herself and she wasn't about to exchange it for something she didn't trust.
Her green eyes scanned the room to make sure no one was looking in her direction before she bent over and pulled her handgun from a holster around her ankle. The lower ranks were not permitted to carry a gun aboard in everyday runs. They had to keep them in their designated areas until something popped up. They were allowed a single knife, but the woman knew better than to give up her secondary weapon and always hid it while in the 'safety' of the mother ship.
Placing it on the table, she took the pistol apart and cleaned it up. This weapon was also an older model. She almost attempted a smile, waiting for some punk to comment on it so she could have an excuse to put him or her in their place. Lucky for the platoon, no one bothered to look in her direction. They kept to their groups and conversed among themselves light hearted as they cleaned and prepared their own weapons.
The older soldier walked across the room and reached for some ammo packs for her weapons, the irritating feeling of eyes wanted to make her react in a bad manner. She ignored the idea and went back to her weapons, not giving any attention to the others around her. It was true, she was definitely out of place here. The woman suspected the oldest one here might have been in their mid-twenties. That thought made her sick, but she did feel rather conceited that she had the most experience in battle. Her cold, hardened eyes looked around the platoon and studied the soldiers. Turning her attention back to her guns, she knew the outcome to the next few battles would leave very few of the platoon alive.
It was not a mean thought..no...it was just fact. Loading her pistol she inspected it above her head in the light before placing it in its holster on her lower calf. A part of her wished to die in battle too, but her instincts always seemed to kick into gear once the battle began, and she always managed to survive another day in hell, wether she wanted to or not.
Loading her rifle she placed it back on the table and checked her knife in the sheath around her left thigh. She knew it had already been sharpened earlier, but in habit, she had to check it again. As suspected, it was indeed ready for an unsuspecting victim. The soldier picked up her rifle and walked out of the armory. Her new destination was back to the pelican deck where she would await her new orders. As the soldier found a seat near the doors, the back of her mind hoped that her new squad wouldn't be the one to head into the next battle, but she had already known...the new sergeant was going to use the squad she was in only because he knew her and wanted to get an idea of why she was a private now.
She stared at the pelican and thought of her past actions..the reasoning for her rank today.