(19 May, 2011) I'm going back over the earlier chapters and revising certain parts. I'm planning to fix up some of the dialogue and expand a few scenes.
September 18, 2238
Marine Base 9-B, Vitaris, Vitaris System
"Anything new, private?" Lieutenant Lucas Wilkins asked.
"No, sir", Private Jackson answered, "Nothing's changed for the past three hours."
Wilkins took a look over the railing of the watchtower, thinking. It had been a day since the rebels' last attack.
"Alright. If anything suspicious happens, call me."
"Yes, sir," Jackson yawned. "Sir?"
"Is this really necessary? I mean, do you really think that the rebels are going to attack again so soon?"
Wilkins saw the worried look on the young soldier's face, and hesitated.
"They might not attack soon, but it is likely they will try again," he finally said.
Wilkins decided to leave out the fact that scouts had reported that the surrounding settlements were deserted. Jenkins seemed relieved, and turned back to the forest with a slightly more cheerful look on his face. Wilkins looked at him for a little bit longer. Jenkins, like many soldiers stationed on the small outpost, has been worried ever since the rebel attacks became more frequent. Until now the outpost had stood, but they were beginning to run low on supplies and ammunition. Trying not to think of what might be coming, Wilkins sighed and climbed down the ladder, turned around and started to walk. Captain Froyd had sent out a message to Central Command requesting reinforcements a few hours earlier, but nothing had come from it. He tried to make the best of the situation by increasing patrol duties, before and retreating into his office. Wilkins chuckled at his commander's habit of sulking.
"What's so funny?" Wilkins jumped and wheeled around, only to face Sergeant Sarah Honduras. Without noticing, Wilkins had walked past the women's barracks.
"Hey, Sarah," he smiled, embracing her.
"Hello, babe," Honduras said, breathing a kiss onto Wilkins' cheek. "How's the situation?"
Wilkins released her and looked into her eyes. "You know that I am not allowed to tell you."
"It's classified," Wilkins continued, ignoring it, "but I can tell you that the soldiers' morale has been better."
"And what do you think?" Honduras asked, "Will they attack?"
"I hope not," Wilkins replied, looking around to ensure no-one was watching. "Listen," he said, placing his hands on Honduras' shoulders, "If someone else hears me saying this, the both of us are in big trouble. The scouts have reported that the surrounding villages are empty, not one person was present within a radius of fifteen kilometres. You know what this means, right?"
"Yes," Honduras croaked, considerably more pale and shaking slightly. "We're as good as de-"
"Don't say that," Wilkins interrupted, trying to calm her down, "They could just be over-reacting "
Honduras smiled slightly, "Yeah, maybe." She kissed him on the lips and turned away.
"Don't worry," Wilkins said softly, "We'll be fine."
"Yeah," Honduras replied, but she did not sound too convinced. "See you."
Wilkins watched her walk away and head towards the mess hall.
"Nice job, moron," Wilkins said to himself and walked towards the outpost HQ. Unlike the rest of the outpost's structures, the HQ was the only building on site that was not a tent. Wilkins entered looked around the small command centre before focusing on Froyd.
Froyd looked up from the map on the tactical screen when he noticed Wilkins standing beside him.
"Ah, Wilkins. How are things around the camp?"
"Could be better, sir; almost all the soldiers are worried and so are some of the officers,."
Froyd sighed. "I thought so. It's to be expected, I suppose. If the rebels decide to attack us soon, we won't be able to hold them back for long." He looked out of the window for a few minutes, and then turned to Wilkins. "Central command seems to be having trouble; they say they can't spare any reinforcements for at least 3 days, as you have certainly heard."
Suddenly, Wilkins TacCom crackled.
"Sir, I think you should come and take a look at this," the voice of Private Jackson said. Froyd nodded to Wilkins,who saluted and left. Wilkins pushed the door open, then jogged over to Jackson's watchtower and climbed up the ladder.
Jackson was standing facing the forest with his sniper rifle ready. He handed Wilkins his binoculars and pointed at some bushes a few metres into the forest line. Wilkins focused the binoculars onto the bushes and waited. When a few minutes passed with nothing happening, he gave the binoculars back to Jackson.
"Doesn't look like there's anything there. Continue the watch and inform me of any changes." Jackson nodded a little pink in the face.
Wilkins climbed back down the ladder and contacted Froyd on the TacCom.
"Doesn't look like there was anything there, sir. I've told Jackson to keep me updated."
"Right," he replied over the TacCom, "You're off duty, Wilkins. Get yourself some sleep."
Just when Wilkins had just turned to walk to the barracks, a large explosion swept him off his feet. Deafened, disorientated and shocked, Wilkins rolled onto his back, just as debris from the watchtower began to rain down around him. Wilkins clumsily got to his feet and stumbled towards the burning skeletal remains of the tower. He fell onto his knees in front of it, ignoring the sudden activity around the outpost. He felt someone grab his shoulder, pull him to his feet and yell something in his ear, but he could not hear what they said over the ringing in his ears.
"Man down." Wilkins said half in shock, just as the shock wave from another explosion knocked him over. This time he did not even attempt to get back onto his feet, but someone pulled him up yet again. The sounds of gunfire snapped out of his stupor and he realised that it was Captain Froyd standing in front of him.
"Are you alright, lieutenant!" he yelled over the noise, hands firmly pressed on Wilkins' shoulders, shaking him. "Lucas!"
Wilkins nodded slowly, still slightly disorientated.
"Good," Froyd yelled, "Get to the armoury, then find your platoon!"
"Yes sir," Wilkins said as he stumbled off toward the armoury; he would need more than his side arm at the moment. All around him, soldiers ran past in all directions. The flap of the armoury was already wide open by the time Wilkins reached it, allowing him to run straight in. He paused for a second to scan the weapon racks for a rifle, which he snapped up as well as an armoured vest. Wilkins checked the charge on the rifle and picked up a few extra charge packs along with a first aid kit. After securing his equipment, he raced outside; the gunfire and explosions outside showed now signs of ceasing any time soon.
It didn't take long for him to locate his platoon taking cover behind some crates halfway between the armoury and the HQ building. Just as he reached them, he was forced to dive behind a crate to avoid a salvo from a nearby enemy. From behind the crate, Wilkins heard a cry of pain come from the other side. He peeked around the corner and discovered that his appearance had distracted the rebel long enough for Corporal Anderson to fire a burst into his back.
Captain Froyd's voice came over the TacCom. "Wilkins! Get up to the gate and stop the rebels blowing it apart. Watch out; they have rocket launchers."
"Copy that!" Wilkins replied. He opened a channel to his platoon. "Anderson, take your squad and cover the gate. Don't let anything through. Conrad, flank the gate and try to snipe the rebels with the launchers. We have to take out those launchers before they blow the gate apart!"
He and his platoon sprinted towards the gate, and were met with a scene of complete destruction. The two towers flanking the gate had been blown to pieces; the road leading toward the gate was strewn with debris and bloody lumps which Wilkins, suppressing the urge to vomit, recognised as human remains. Charred pieces of cloth and bent poles were all that was left of the tents to both sides of the road. Just as Wilkins' squad approached the gate, the gate suddenly blew apart, sending pieces of jagged metal in all directions. In the hole formerly occupied by the gate, a tank rolled in, firing its cannon through the gap.
"Shit. Scatter!" Wilkins ordered. He jumped behind a crate, just missing a salvo from the tank's mounted machine gun.
"Anyone have heavy weapons?"
A reply came from Jones. "Our squad does, sir, but were pinned down."
"Anderson, we need a distraction so Jones can move! Hope, right flank. Watch the rear of the tank! Don't let anything in behind it!"
Anderson's squad opened fire on the tank, drawing its attention away from the barrels Jones' squad was behind. The distraction worked; Jones' squad had just enough time to leave cover and fire a rocket towards the tank in front of them. Wilkins had to shield his eyes from the bright flash that the detonation of the tank produced. Behind the wrecked tank, Wilkins saw a large number of rebel soldiers begin to pour in through the gate.
"Suppressing fire! Hope, give them a grenade or two!" Wilkins yelled through the TacCom.
"Fire in the hole!" Hope shouted. Wilkins saw half a dozen small balls fly from Hope's position. He heard, rather than saw, them land; a chorus of panicked screams told him they had hit their mark.
"Fire at will!" Wilkins ordered. A steady stream of plasma bolts flew towards the rebels, but it was not enough to halt their advance.
"Wilkins! Fall back to the HQ! The gates are all down and the walls are breached in multiple locations!" Froyd ordered over the TacCom.
"All units fall back to HQ!" Wilkins yelled, ducking back behind his cover. "Jones, cover the retreat!" Wilkins' platoon slowly began to fall back towards the HQ, as Jones' squad provided covering fire for the retreating marines. Wilkins turned back towards the gate when he heard Jones scream out. Wilkins discovered why Jones was yelling half a second later when an explosion had ripped apart the crates he was hiding behind. The rocket troopers were still active. Wilkins fell backwards away from the crater, which a few seconds earlier had been his cover. He scrambled to his feet and felt his way through the receding cloud of dust and smoke, trying to find Jones. He found him lying unconscious on the ground and grabbed the corporal by his shoulders. He noticed that the rest of his men were providing cover, so he carried Jones away towards the HQ as fast as he could.
Once out of the line of fire, he and his squad moved quickly through the smoking remnants of tents, destroyed vehicles, radar equipment and personal items. The surviving soldiers had erected a small barricade around the HQ, and came running towards the squad to take Jones into the small first aid section of the HQ. Wilkins quickly jumped behind the barricade and smiled when he found Honduras near the door to the command centre. He mouthed the words 'Captain Froyd' and she pointed toward the door. He entered the small building and found Froyd sitting in front of the CommSat array. Froyd saw him and waved him over.
"What is it?" Wilkins asked. Froyd frowned and said
"I couldn't get through to Central Command; I've had to resort to sending an emergency transmission to High Command on Korlanis. We can only hope that they get it."
"Korlanis? Even if the do get it, they'll never get here in time."
"I'm well aware of that, lieutenant."
"So, what now, sir."
Froyd sighed. "Let's just say, the Japanese on Iwo Jima in 1945 were better off than us. The rebels have blown several holes in the wall and inflicted over 70 percent casualties. We currently have around fifty marines still in the fight." Froyd answered.
Wilkins' throat suddenly dried out. The outpost had about two hundred men stationed. Wilkins felt his knees shake and a wave of panic flow through his body.
"So all we can do is wait?" he croaked.