Thomas McCaughley

Star Strike: Soldier

I never liked these landing pods. Som how being dropped 200 miles above the atmosphere of an enemy planet, doesn't really appeal to me. But yet here we were- the Star Marines, the pride of the Torragonian Federation, marching into the huge grey metal, pill shaped mass of the pods. The APCs already been loaded in, with their four disk shaped hover engines positioned around the dome shaped vehicles and their spherical drivers cab. A door slid back on the dome section of the vehicle and we all piled in, and sat around on the crowded circular benches in the gloomy grey interior. One of the marines in our platoon took up the seat in the drivers cab, another climbed up a ladder, leading to the laser turret on the top of the dome. That's when we felt the shaking of the pod caused by our seperation from the mothership- no noise of course being out in the vacuum of space. I now knew we were falling, all the way down to the planets surface, with an enemy ready to start shooting at us.

The six of us sat in silence. Staring at our laser rifles, and prepping them for battle. Waiting. Waiting to get shot at.

"You scared?" asked Reaal, who was sitting next to me.

"Nope." I lied. I looked at him. "You?"

"Nope." He lied. I could tell he was lying. He always scratched his hair when he was lying. For both of us, this was our first time in battle. But he and I were scared for different reasons. His reason was no doubt he was afraid of being killed. That was not the case with me. All my family had been in the marines, they had taught me not to be afraid of that- it was having to KILL someone, that was what terrified me. That was something they had taught me not to be afraid of that, but for some reason I was…does someone really have the right to take someone else's life? Even if it is the Gradonians- a species who aren't even humanoid- a species that has made it clear that they want to wipe us at is it still right? Even in battle? What would my family think of me? They would think me a coward…it's too late to think about it now. The pods already vibrating…we must be entering the planets atmosphere. The computer warned us to brace for impact- heads between our legs and waited, not for long though. We felt the huge force like an Earthquake as the pod as we slammed into the planets surface. Not long after that, we heard the hydraulics at the front of the pod opening up, and the APCs began rolling out into the open. I began to breathe deeply, it was coming. Sooner or later, I was going to have to kill someone, whether I liked it or not. Our APCs hover engines kicked in and slowly moved out.

We waited and watched the view of the battlefield roll past the window of the drivers cab. It was raining heavily, and there was nothing but mud for miles and miles around, you could hear the explosions in the distance, as our Starfighters dropped plasma bombs on the target. Eventually we reached our destination, and Corporal Secn started yelling "Go! Go! Go!" as he slid open the door of the APC and we all piled out into the huge muddy battlefield. We all stumbled at firs, the tower that was our target stood towering into the sky, a few yards in front of us in the middle of a huge crater. The tower was a metallic grey and silver, shaped like a huge rocket- with an energy dish positioned at the top of it- an antimatter cannon the Gradonians had been developing.

We all ran over to the small brick wall that was surrounding the edge of the crater and took cover behind it. The other marines in my platoon had already begun lobbing plasma grenades over the wall and firing their Laser Assault Rifles at random targets below. But I wanted to take my time…so I swapped my Assault Rifle for a Sniper Rifle in my equipment. I rested the long thin barrel of the gun over the wall, and peered into the scanner-sight positioned near the handle of the gun. I zoomed in on the tower: that's when I finally looked on the face of the enemy, the one I had my sight on was about 3ft tall, completely naked, with their elongated limbs, toes and fingers. There skin was a bluey grey, his head was hairless, and had no nose but simply two nasal slits, and a really small mouth with no lips. It's eyes were huge and oval shaped, and were deep black. This was the enemy, and he was my first victim. My finger shook as I prepared to squeeze down on the trigger, one simple pull would end this Gradonians life. I waited for the shot to come…but it didn't. I couldn't do it, What was wrong with me? I had to do it now or the Gradonian would go out of my sight! I tried to squeeze down on the trigger again put I simply couldn't do it. I started to breath deeply, fear like I had never felt before started to wash over me. If I couldn't kill, how could I possibly hope to survive on a battlefield like this? I tried one more desperate time to take the shot at the Gradonian…but he was already gone. I looked up from my sight, and Reaal nudged me.

"What the hell was that about?" he yelled. "You could have got that one!"
Suddenly I snapped. I had an uncontrollable urge to escape! To run away! Yes that's what I've got to do! Escape! I threw down my sniper rifle into the mud, turned and ran! I've never run like that before, I stumbled a bit in the mud but I didn't care, all I wanted to do was to get the hell out of there.

"Where the hell are you going!" cried Reaal- but I wasn't listening anymore, I just had to get out of there. "Kadaj! Get back here!" I heard him yell again, but he was still too distant for me to care.

I just kept running, and running. I didn't evcn know where I was going, but I closed my eyes and felt the tears fall down my cheecks. I had given up…and I knew it. My family would think me a coward…There would be no future for me in the military…My friends would turn on me…But I still didn't care, I just had to get out of there. What kind of a man am I? I felt so ashamed of myself.

Suddenly I felt a huge rumble beneath my feet and I slipped in the mud and skidded for a while. I heard the ground crack beneath my feet and suddenly it exploded! Sending mud and earth flying through the air, I covered my face with my arm, and when I moved it away I saw a huge mechanical creature crawl out of the hole in the ground…it was at least 20ft tall, it had a massive egg shaped head with two eyes like the Gradonians. Two reptialian-like metal legs and four giltttering metalic tentantcles- on the end of two of the tentcales were huge laser cannons, and claws on the other two- it was a Gradonian Mecha-Unit. It stared down at me with its huge metal eyes, showing no emotion, I stared back up with fear...suddenly it lashed out with its metal claw, slamming it into the ground! I rolled out of its line of fire just in time to be tossed away by the wave of mud that followed. I banged my head against the leg of the Mecha. I shook my head and waited for my vision to clear…I watched as the machine removed its claw from the ground- the pilot must have thought I was dead. For a moment so did I. Sudddenly I looked up- the glowing power core of the machine was inbettween it's legs…then I looked back at Reaal and the others shooting into that crater. If this thing got to them…it would make mincemeat of them. I couldn't let that happen…I couldn't let them down…not like that. Almost instinctively, I pulled out my laser assault rifle, lay down in the mud, yelled and opened fire! The rapid bursts of laser fire pummeled the power core and eventually it exploded! The machine tumbled over and fell head first into the mud, sending another wave of it sloshing over me. Was it over? Had I actually done it? Was I man now? Suddenly the head of the machine popped open, revealing the cockpit. The pilot fell at and began to crawl in the mud and caughed up blood.

No- it wasn't over. Something clicked inside me. Suddenly I wasn't afraid anymore. I pulled out my knife from the holster on my belt and crawled over to the Gradonian pilot as fast as I could. Eventually I caught up to him, and we wrestled in the mud, until finally I managed to grab his forehead to pull his head back, giving me chance to hold my knife up to his kneck. The pilot started to squeal with fear, I held my head close up to where his ear would be and whispered, still panting:

"I'm sorry…"

I slashed open the pilots throat with the knife. His purple, alien blood spilled out onto my hands. I let go of his head and he collapsed onto the floor, dead. I took a deep breath and looked up to the sky with my eyes closed. I knelt there in the mud, and simply let the rain wash away the blood. I felt at peace with myself. When the blood was gone, I picked up my laser rifle and started to run back over to the crater. I had done it. I could call myself a soldier now. I could call myself a man now…

Words: 1695

Friday 23rd november 1st draft due in

2nd draft Friday 7th december

Thurdsay 20th December