Heres everything I know about war. Somebody wins, somebody loses,
and nothing is ever the same again.
Admiral Constanza Stark
They became recruits at the same time. They were the best of their squads. They believed nothing could stop them, that nothing could stand in their way. How foolish they were, before they got that real taste of battle.
Nath Lloyd smiled as he readied his weapons, a sniper rifle and a pair of SMGs. Sergeant Mark Williams shook his head, Boy, youre never going to take down an Alarian with those things. You need something with a bit more power. If ya dont youll never pierce their armor. Nath laughed, Im not going to pierce their armor, Im going to shoot at the cracks in it. Nath looked over at his friend, Illiam Hatch, and said Besides, if they get to close you can blast em, right? Illiam nodded with a smile, Right.
The pilot spoke over the speakers, Get ready, we are now entering the battle zone. Naths smile disappeared, this was it. His first time in combat. Suddenly the proximity warning started to wail. STRAP YOURSELVES IN, WE ARE UNDER FIRE! the pilot shouted over the speaker. Just as Nath got belted in, the transport exploded, and careened down to the ground.
Yes! Shalendra Kel smiled, Thats one human transport down. Nice shot! exclaimed Ashemmi , Who knew you would be such a good sniper. Ashemmi laughed Especially since you couldnt even hit a stationary target when we first joined, let alone a moving one. Shalendra huffed, Hmph, look whos talking miss couldnt even sense the Alarian if front of you. Ashemmi smiled and lowered her head in defeat, then the two friends shared a laugh right before their Captain snapped at them. Hey you two, stay sharp. Shalendra, keep on the look out for more reinforcements, take them out if you can. Ashemmi, try to see if you can sense anything coming from behind? Yes Captain! the two Alarians responded.
Ashemmi then closed her eyes and began to concentrate, as Shalendra went back to scanning the horizon. Ashemmi opened her eyes after a few moments and reported, I cant sense anyone behind us, although I did sense something faint from the direction where that transport crashed. Captain Lashrael Bur shook her head, a grim look on her face. Dont worry about that, its probably just a few Humans who are wounded. If they make it through the day our medics will find them, fix them up enough to be moved, and then bring them back here to either give them better medical aide, or to get them ready to send back to Alarie as POWs. Shalendra shuddered, thinking about how terrifying it must be to those humans who survived. Knowing that they were on enemy ground, that they had no chance of defending themselves, and that most of their comrades were dead.
The Alarian frowned, all joy from hitting the ship lost. It would almost be better to die then have that fate. she thought. The Captain put a consoling arm around her, I know how you feel, Lashrael said in a soothing tone, but you cant help it. This is war, a war that Humans started. You have to remember that. Shalendra sighed sadly, she remembered, but that didnt make things any easier.
Nath felt as if he was floating. Am I in Heaven? he wondered aloud, but no, Heaven wasnt supposed to have pain in it, and he hurt like hell. Nath then heard a faint sarcastic sounding voice, as if from a distance, Ha ha, this is about as far from Heaven as one can get. Mom? Nath asked groggily. The voice laughed, Do I look like your Mom to you? You must have been knocked harder from that blast then I thought. Suddenly everything came flooding back to Naths memory. He had been riding in a transport when they had been hit. Part of their craft had exploded, and what was left had crashed. He opened his eyes to see the Sergeant standing over him. Well well, chuckled Sergeant Williams, he lives. Can you move? Nath moved his hands, and fingers, they hurt like hell but they all seemed to be there. He then lifted his arms, those also hurt, but they werent broken. Yeah, I can move. Nath replied, Williams nodded. Can you stand? he asked. Nath stood up slowly, and took a few steps. Seems like it. he started to reply, when he suddenly slumped forwards. Illiam caught hold of his friend, and said gently, Careful, youve lost a lot of blood. Its not enough to kill you, but it was enough to weaken you. The Sergeant nodded again and spoke, Youll be able to move in about a day or two. Until then one of us can help you move around.
Nath looked around at the wreckage. Are there any other survivors? he asked. Illiam shook his head, No, he answered in a toneless voice, were the only survivors. Everyone else either died from the explosion or the crash. Naths eyes widened, Thats not possible, there were twenty soldiers, twenty-two counting the pilots, in that ship. Are you saying we are all thats left? The Sergeant shook his head, and said grimly, Its worse then that. Our crash ended in enemy territory. To get to our base, we have to sneak past the Alarians, and get through the main war zone without getting killed, by both Alarian and Human forces. Illiam looked up in alarm, What do you mean Human forces. Were Human arent we? Why would our troops fire on us? They wouldnt fire at us on purpose, but the fact that wed be starting at the Alarian side means wed be dodging mortar rounds, and tank shells. They wouldnt even know that we were there. Williams replied gravely.
Now, he said with an air of authority that came from years of battlefield experience, we need to find some better cover. I have a feeling that the Alarians will be coming here soon, and I dont want to be here when they get here. Grab all food rations you can find, and see if there is any other weapon then these three SMGs. Plus find a bag that hasnt been ripped. Illiam looked at his Sergeant curiously, Why do we need a bag Sir? Well, Williams replied with a smile playing at his lips, I was planning to use the bag to carry the food, and ammunition. Unless you have a better idea.
About two hours later they were on the move, albeit slowly. They did their best to keep hidden while moving, but Nath felt worried. Sir? he asked, How are going to get back to the human side without getting killed or captured? We have to get past the Alarians and all we have are three SMGs, and about five frags. Williams laughed, I thought you said all you needed to take down an Alarian was a pair of SMGs and a sniper rifle. Well, we have your SMGs, so all you missing is the sniper. Although in all seriousness, your right. We need to make a plan of action once we find some good cover for the night. They stopped and gave the surrounding area a quick scan. Sir, will that do? Illiam asked, pointing over at what looked like the wreckage of an Alarian transport. Williams looked at the wreck and mused, Hmm, its not that far away, and we could easily get into it. Its to big to be able to defend it, but we could probably hide in it, if we had to. Its not perfect but it will do.
Captain Bur turned, and began to relay instructions to Shalendra and Ashemmi, Alright ladies, Ive just received word from command, looks like we get to look for survivors. Lashrael smiled at Shalendra, and that means we can hunt for the humans as well, if their still alive. Now Ashemmi, your going to have the most important role. You need to keep your mind open to find any Alarian survivors. Once you find one, tell us where she is, and well head over to see what we can do. If the Alarian we find is in a condition that our medical supply cant take care of, then well just do what we can and call a med unit. Oh, and Ashemmi, see if you can find those humans you sensed earlier. They may have moved, or they may be dead, but still see if you can find them. Ashemmi nodded, Ill do my best. Shalendra then spoke up, Why were we chosen to do this job? As you said, we dont have enough medical supplies to help anyone whose been really hurt. Captain Bur sighed, Seems like medical units are becoming shorter in supply. The medics arent getting killed, but the suits need replacing after so much use. Fortunately a supply ship is on its way and well be getting a ton of suits but its scheduled to be here in two days. Now lets quit yapping and start searching.
Nath, Illiam, and Williams made it to the downed transport just as the sun started to set. Sergeant Williams immediately turned to Illiam and ordered, Pvt. Hatch, get Lloyd somewhere safe and comfortable while I see if there are any good places to hide. Yes sir. Illiam saluted, then proceeded with settling Nath in an out of the way corner by the door. Sergeant Williams glanced back towards two soldiers. Is Nath safe? he asked, About as safe as I can get him sir. Illiam replied. Sergeant Williams nodded Good, now get over here and help me find a place to hide.
The three Alarians had been searching for a while, and had already found four Alarians. After a while they came to a downed transport. Captain Bur shook her head We arent going to find any survivors here ladies. We might as well keep going. Wait! Ashemmi suddenly exclaimed, I sense something coming from the ship. Im not totally sure, but I think there are Humans hiding in that transport. Shalendra turned to her Captain with a relived smile. I guess the Humans made it through the day. she said happily, Captain Bur just groaned. Damn, I was hoping that they would be found by some other group. the Captain gave a sigh, Even if its a pain to do, we will attempt to capture them. We all know how useful a POW can be and I also dont like casualties, even Human ones.
So are we going to catch them instead of kill them? Shalendra asked hopefully. Captain Lashrael Bur sighed again, We will try, but it will depend on their situation. If they have any weapons that I deem deadly, then we are to destroy the transport they are hiding in. If they act overly hostile towards us or cause to much trouble, then we may have to kill them. Do you understand Pvt. Kel? Shalendra saluted Yes maam. Captain Bur turned to Ashemmi, What can you sense from here, or do we need to get closer? Ashemmi shook her head, Im fine. was her only reply. Ashemmi then closed her eyes and the crystals floating around her head started glowing.
After a few minuets she opened her eyes and gave her report. They dont seem to have any deadly weapons, just a few SMGs I think. That and a couple of fragmentation grenades. Other then that, they dont have any weapons. The Captain thought aloud for a second, The SMGs wont do them any good, and neither will those grenades, so long as they dont get close to our face. What did you feel emotion wise? Well, theyre more worried then hostile, and it seemed to me like they would prefer to hide instead of fight if it came down to it. One of them is wounded, not enough to kill it, but enough to cripple it. Ashemmi explained. Captain Bur ground her teeth, Great, she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm, I just love it when I have to play hide and seek with Humans. We may as well walk on in, and have Ashemmi convince them that we mean no harm, and to come out peacefully.
Shalendra smiled and, while ignoring her superiors obvious sarcasm said, Thats actually not a bad idea. Captain Bur shook her head, Yeah, if it werent for the fact that Humans are extremely tricky and would probably start shooting us as soon as we got in there. Ashemmi shook her in disagreement, They wont shoot, Im sure of that. They know that their weapons will have no effect on us, and as I said before, they seem more likely to hide then fight. They may not believe me if I tried to tell them that we mean no harm though. Captain Bur sighed, something she was doing more often around these two, We may as well try it out, and if it doesnt work, we can just hunt for them normally. With their plan of action decided, they headed over to the transport, where three little Humans were waiting.
Sergeant Williams and Illiam had just found the perfect hiding spot when they heard noises coming from outside the transport. Sergeant Williams cursed, Damn our luck, theyre here. Come on Illiam, we have to get Nath into the hole we found. The two had just started towards him when three giant armored beings entered the ship. Sergeant Williams pulled Illiam into the hole they were using as a hiding place and motioned for him to stay silent. They watched as three Alarians entered and began to search the ship.
Meanwhile Nath was trying to look as small and as invisible as possible, all the while hoping he wouldnt get stepped on. He gave a small gulp. Suddenly the Alarian closest to him turned, raised its visor, and looked at him. It smiled after a while and turned away. He would have ran right then and there if he had been capable of it, but he knew he would never make it past the door in his condition. It must have known that I couldnt run. That must be why it didn't do anything. he thought to himself. He was brought back to his senses when he heard one of the Alarians say something in a commanding tone. The other two immediately joined the one that had spoken in the middle of the transport. The Alarian who had spoken began talking with a smaller one that had crystals floating around its head. After the big one stopped talking, the little one saluted and closed its eyes, while the crystals started to glow faintly.
Thats when all three Humans felt small tendrils of thought try to enter their minds. Sergeant Williams fought it, proving his worth by nearly removing the intruder but finally being overcome when the tendrils of thought slammed against his mind with all their strength. Illiam also fought, but stood no chance against the mental intrusion and was likewise invaded. Nath, on the other hand, welcomed the tendrils of thought into his mind, although he had no idea why he aloud them in.
Shalendra was looking around the ship when she heard something from behind her. She turned around a saw a small Human leaning by the corner near the door. She opened her visor, at first confused at what she was seeing. Why isnt that Human running. she thought to herself. Then she realized why, this was the wounded one. It wasnt running because it couldnt. She gave it a smile and turned away thinking, May as well leave it alone. Its not going anywhere, and I dont want to spook its companions by picking it up. If I did that, they might never come out. Suddenly Captain Bur spoke loudly, making her jump a little, Alright everyone, front and center. Shalendra and Ashemmi joined their Captain in the center. Captain Bur turned to Ashemmi and ordered, Begin trying to tell them that we mean them no harm. Send out images of them coming out to the open, weapons down, and us helping them with some of their wounds. Throw in some good feelings to help out the ideas. That way we can get this over and done with.
Ashemmi began to do as she had been ordered when Shalendra spoke up. We might also get further if we opened our visors so they can get a good look at our faces. It will show a certain amount of trust on our part, because we will be trusting them not to shoot at our faces, and they will be able to see that we truly dont mean them any harm. Captain Bur thought about it for a moment, Sounds like a good idea. Alright, well do it, do you have any other suggestions?
Shalendra nodded, After Ashemmi sends her message, I know where the wounded Human is. If one of us picked it up and began helping it, that might entice the others to believe what Ashemmi is telling them, and come out. In any case, one of them might make a noise which will make it easier to find them. Captain Bur looked at Shalendra in amazement. What? Shalendra asked, puzzled by the look her Captain was giving her. Nothing, Lashrael answered, its just I thought Id never see the day when you would be making this much sense. Either youve grown up, or Ive hung around you and Ashemmi for far to long a time. Both prospects make me feel a little nervous. The two Alarians shared a laugh as Ashemmi finished her communications with the Humans.
After she stopped laughing Captain Bur turned to Ashemmi, Well, how did it go? Ashemmi sighed, Well, I know that one of them doesnt believe me. The second believes that I dont want to harm him, but hes not coming out all the same. Something to do with protecting his men from harm. Captain Bur smiled, she knew that feeling quite well. The third one, the one thats wounded more or less, did something that surprised me. Instead of fighting me like the other two, he let me into his mind. He doesnt seem to be really worried if we capture him or not, since he cant escape without his friends. He doesnt want to be captured, but is willing to if it will keep his friends from harm.
Captain Bur turned to Shalendra, Alright Pvt. Kel, show me where the wounded Human is and Ill commence with your idea. Shalendra gave her Captain a disappointed look, I thought I was going to be the one to pick him up. Captain Bur shook her head, No, we dont know what kind of state this Human is in. He might have a broken leg, or arm, or something else entirely. Ive had more experience picking up and hold wounded Humans then you, so I will pick it up. If after I look at it and deem its okay, I will give him to you, understand? Shalendra saluted, Yes maam. as Lashrael moved slowly toward the wounded Human.
As soon as she was standing over it, the Human looked up at her a slightly nervous look crossing his face. Cant really blame him for that, Id be nervous too if I were him. Lashrael chuckled to herself. She gave the Human a reassuring smile, reached down and picked him up. She quickly began turning him over, checking to see if he had any broken bones. After she completed her check she handed him over to Shalendra. Hes healthy enough for you to hold. Now, dont hold him to lightly or youll drop him, and dont squeeze to hard or youll hurt him. Shalendra nodded, Dont worry, we were shown how to hold humans at the end of our training. This one doesnt squirm around as much, so its easier to hold. Captain Bur turned to Ashemmi who had the other two humans in her mercy. Put those two to sleep and secure them somewhere, then we have to get back to base. We have to hurry, so we may need to run. That means you are to be extra careful with whatever humans you are handling, do you both understand? Ashemmi and Shalendra nodded, Good. Captain Bur said, Now lets get out of here.
Nath was amazed after receiving the message from those tendrils of thought. He was also surprised with himself, instead of being worried he felt at peace. Instead of wanting to fight these Alarians, he wanted to know more about them. They seemed peaceful enough, and he was sure they wanted this war to end as much as most of the Human soldiers did. He looked up when a shadow fell over him. Standing above him looking down was an Alarian. The Alarian made a small noise that sounded a bit like a chuckle, then gave him what looked like a reassuring smile and reached down to pick him up.
Williams and Illiam had been watching from their hiding spot, and when they saw the Alarian reach down to grab Nath, Illiam gave a small gasp. No
. he said quietly as he watched what he was sure to be his friends death. Sergeant Williams put a hand over his mouth and motioned to stay quiet, but it was to late. The smallest Alarian was already looking over at where the hole was, and Williams doubted it was a coincidence. The Alarian walked over, sat down, and closed her eyes. At first the two humans were confused by this action, but then the Sergeant noticed that the crystals were casting off a faint glow. Then he felt himself start to rise, not very high but just off the ground. He looked over at Illiam to see the same thing happening to him. They both floated out of the hole and up to the sitting Alarian. The Alarian opened her eyes, gave a nod of satisfaction, and put them to sleep.
Meanwhile Nath didnt know what to think. He had been picked up by this giant Alarian, who then proceeded with turning him over and over, all the while poking him in some places. When it finally stopped, the Alarian holding him said something to the one that had spotted him earlier, and handed him over. Then it turned towards the smaller one and said something. Thats when he noticed his two companions, floating in midair in front of the small one. He watched as the little crystals encircling the Alarian started to glow as his friends fell asleep. The Alarian that had picked him up reached over and grabed Illiam, while the smaller one took ahold of Sergeant Williams. Then the three Alarians, Human captives in hand, exited the transport and began running.
Nath awoke in a small room, Odd, he thought to himself, I dont remember going to sleep. Better find out where I am. He looked around and immediately noticed three things. The first was that he was in a cell of some kind, No surprise there. The second was that Illiam and Williams were okay, sleeping in cells across from him. He noticed the third thing when he turned around to see a group of four Alarians in battle armor watching him. The one in the middle spoke up, and then one of them walked over. The Alarian who had walked over opened the cell door, and reached in. Nath could have escaped but decided against it. He probably wasnt strong enough to run yet. Besides, he was still alive so far, and the encounter with the three from last night made him doubt that the Alarians would simply keep him alive just so they could kill him while he was awake.
The Alarian seemed pleasantly surprised that he hadnt tried running. She gently picked him up and began walk out of the room with the cells, the other three following her. They soon entered another room, this one with plain white walls and nothing inside other then a large table, and some sort of machine. Nath was placed on the table, he waited for a moment then sat down. Can you understand me, and are you comfortable? the Alarian that had been holding him asked, causing him to fall back with surprise.