The Brood War: Prologue
The Brood War:Chapter 1: Prisoner
The walk down the barren hallway was silent; the only sounds came from the hard thumping of booted feet of the prison guards on the cold pavement floor. No words were spoken between the three of them, an unusual occurrence for Terran Marines. Normally the three would be making small talk, boast, or they would trade insults with each other. But not today; today they were taking a criminal to the execution area, a criminal whose actions against the Zerg, and the Terran Dominion they all had heard about and were in awe of, but orders where orders. Murder, Desertion, and Treason, had to be punished. The only punishment available to someone who had committed even one of these offences was death.
"Shit, ya think command would've been a bit more thankful to this guy." The man on the right exclaimed breaking the long uncomfortable silence.
The man on the left gave the speaker a smirk as he answered "Commands gotta make examples, ya let one go, ya gotta let them all go."
"Still ya think after Braxis, and Korhal, that they cut the poor bastard a bit of slack. Ya know throw him into a punishment battalion or stick him in a cell fer a couple of years."
The marine on the left was about to respond when the one in the middle cut him off.
"Would ya two shud up, I don't give a flyin' fuck what ya think of the son-of-bitch, or why his ass is here. Orders are orders, and in twenty minutes this guy gonna fry."
The two marines shrugged, and complied with the corporal's orders. They continued down the hall for another minute or so until they reached the cell. Opening the view point they saw that the prisoner was lying on his cot, reading. The man's long, shaggy, blonde hair touched his broad shoulders; he wore only the bottom part of his prison uniform showing of his chiseled chest that was flecked with numerous scars. His left shoulder supported a tattoo of the Star of David; and on his right fore-arm were his identification number, and the United Eath Diretorate insignia.
"Alright Stoppable, on yer feet, it's time."
The three men opened the prison door and walked in. Sergeant Major Ronald Dean Stoppable stood up closed his book and set on the table. The title was in plain view. The corporal glanced down to read the title but was surprised to see instead of English lettering their was instead what looked like several lines spelling out "תנ״ך"
"Alright boys cuff 'im."
While his two men went about the business of securing the prisoner, the corporal kept his weapon trained on him. The round that was loaded wouldn't kill anyone but it would knock him out for a good half an hour. Ron just smiled; his large ears and multiple freckles would have made the expression goofy if not for his cold, haunted brown eyes, and allowed the two marines to chain his hands and feet together. "Awe, come on dude, I'm not going anywhere." Ron's voice was surprisingly calm for some one who was about to be executed, "I mean even if I was to knock these two out, and avoid your shot at point-blank range, were the hell would I go?"
The corporal just shook his head. What the man had said made sense. Even if he did get out he would run into a prison full of well armed guards, but be that as it may, he still kept the weapon trained on him until his men had finished with the hand and foot cuffs.
"Alright, let's move out."
The two privates took position on either side of Ron, the corporal kept behind him as they moved down the silent hallway. The rhythmic thumbs of the marines booted feet were now accompanied by a steady jingle of chains, and the slap of bare feet.
"Dead man walking on the red line!"
Ron simply smiled as he turned his head to look at the corporal.
"Way to make the prisoner feel better there dude. Interrupting his silent prayers and personal thoughts with a statement like that. Where's the complaint box? I should defiantly inform the Warden about stuff like that."
The rest of the men ignored him, and continued down the hall. The walk went on for a few more minutes before the marine on the right broke the silence.
"I gotta ask ya somethin' there Stoppable, if ya don't mind."
"You want to know why I did it."
"Well yeah, I mean I heard what y'all did at Braxis, holding of that Zerg attack almost single handedly. And at Korhal you managed to evacuate an entire squad who was pined down by Dominion tank fire. A guy who's got the balls to do that, don't cut and run from his company like that without a good reason, let alone frag his captain and knock his LT. out."
Ron thought about his answer for a moment before stating simply "Men were dying, the captain believed in his own invincibility; I was just trying to save as many as I could, and if I had to do it all again, you can bet your ass I would."
The three marines looked at him for a minute, surprised by his answer. Then it was the corporal's voice broke the silence. "I don't get it"
Ron turned his head to look the man straight in his eyes. "With all do respect corporal, until your actually there I doubt you ever will."
The four men fell to silence once again, as they marched down the dimly lit hall. Rounding the corner that would take them down to the Execution room they were surprised to see their way blocked. Four men in the full steel grey battle armour of the UED, their weapons were held at the ready, their faces obscured by their visors.
"Halt! Where are you taking prisoner #357824?" The leader of the four men demanded, a slight sneer detectible only in his voice.
The corporal face was one of surprise, not only were UED men inside a restricted area, ordering his guards, but were actually wondering what was happening with a well known death row prisoner.
"This prisoner is scheduled for execution at 1300 hours, which I might add is in fifteen minutes. So if you would excuse us sergeant."
"Sorry corporal but we've got orders. Stoppable is to come with us."
Ron gulped, what was Barkin doing here? The last time he had seen the man was after the hell hole that was Bunker Ridge. Barkin had threatened to shoot Ron right then and there for his actions. Fortunately for Ron however the Brigadier General believed in due process and restrained his subordinate, unfortunately Barkin sat as judge and jury for his trial.
"Fine then. We're turnin' over prisoner #357824: Sergeant Major Ronald Dean Stoppable to your custody. Looks like this is yer lucky day there Stoppable."
Ron paled with the thought of being turned over to Barkin's men. "I'll considered it my lucky day if you ignore the orders, and just take me to the chair." Ron exclaimed catching all seven men by surprise, "knowing Barkin he'll probably shoot out my knee caps then drop me off in some Korhal desert, or drop me into a pit full of hungry Zerglings, or worse, a pit full of starving and bad tempered monkeys!"
With that thought Ron visibly started to shudder. The other seven men turned to stare at him, this was the Hero of the Zerg Run? The Hero of Anders' Peril? Frightened by the mere thought of a monkey? A UED marine started snickering while the rest just stared at him.
Ron shrugged self-consciously. "Really bad childhood experience." He explained.
"You really, really, don't want to know." And with that Ron fell silent on the issue.
The sergeant of the UED grabbed Ron by the shoulder and shoved him back down the hall from which he had just come. "You deserve all that and more, traitor." He stated hatefully, "I had a lot of friends who died on Bunker Ridge because you ran. Your lucky that the Colonel gonna get you, because if I had my way, you die slowly and painfully."
Several bloody and painful images flashed through Ron's mind, and for the second time that day he said a prayer hoping he would survive the encounter.
Their pace was much quicker then the guards, causing Ron to stumble often because of his chained feet. The group quickly reached their destination and Ron was roughly pushed inside. The hard shove caused him to over step and, because of the chains; he tripped, and crashed face first into the cold hard floor. Staggering to his feet he got a good look at the room he was in. There was little light provided by the flickering bulb which cast most of the room into shadows, only the desk and the two uncomfortable looking chairs, were illuminated.
Shit, he thought, instead of having me executed, they lock me in the fucking interrogation room. Taking a seat in one of the chairs, he fished in his pocket for his cigarettes, and lighter. Taking a deep drag he sat back, attempted to get comfortable, and waited for Colonel Barkin to make his grand appearance.
The door slammed open, signifying the arrival of Colonel Steven Barkin. A physically large and well built man, he made an impressive looking figure in his dark grey command uniform. His dark brown eyes narrowed hatefully when he looked at Ron, and he could tell that they were both thinking of the last time they had met. In the after math of Bunker Ridge.
The smell of smoke, ash and death still hung in the air, even though the ragtag, group of survivors were a good three or four klicks away from the slaughtering grounds. The charred, brunt ground crunched under their armoured feet as the fifteen exhausted and battle weary men, moved towards the command center. Large explosions could still be heard, as wraith squadrons continued to bomb the ridge.
Ron's face was a mixture of sadness and exhaustion, as he shifted the unconscious form of his Lieutenant on his shoulder, in an attempt to make her more comfortable when she awoke. When they reached the camps perimeter, they found a platoon of marines waiting for them, and every single one of them had their weapon trained on the survivors. Ron slowly lowered his XO to the ground, while the others dropped their own rifles to the ground and raised their hands.
"What the hell is going on here?" Ron demanded, the weariness replaced by a shuddering rage, "put those guns down, do you know where these men just came from?"
"Bunker Ridge." A cold voice answered him. Colonel Barkin approached the group; his expression a mixture of contempt and disgust, "we just got conformation that Company Kilo, Delta, and Echo where found, killed to a man, so the only way you boys could have survived, is if you deserted." Barkin turned and spat, as if to get some foul taste out of his mouth, before he continued, "your all God damn cowards and traitors, and as such I'm placing you all under arrest."
"Sir the decision was mine and my own, these men just followed my orders after the captain was killed, and the Lieutenant was knocked, out." His men looked at him, knowing that was false, he had asked them to follow him; he had asked the whole company of two-hundred men, saying he might not be able to save them from a dishonourable discharge and an execution, but he could save them from becoming Zerg fodder.
Barkin stared at Ron for a moment. "So you admit to desertion and treason?"
Before Ron could reply a voice spoke out, "Not to mention… murder." Barkin's gaze shot down to the prone figure of the Lieutenant as she struggled to her feet, pushing her long auburn locks out of her eyes. Ron's face remained expressionless, while the platoon spoke softly with each other about the surprising information.
"Yes sir. He shot Erik… I mean Captain Wrungoyski, Sergeant Major Stoppable wanted to pull back, and regroup with the division, but… Wrungoyski refused saying the wraiths would arrive in time… They argued over it, Stoppable was saying that he was putting men's lives at needless risk… Erik said that the wraiths were fifteen minutes away… and that the forward base could be saved… the CO then gave Stoppable a direct order to hold… and then, he shot him." Fire danced in her emerald green eyes as she glared hatefully at Ron. It was apparent that had she possessed a weapon, death would be the only thing that would have stopped her from using it on him.
"Is what Ghost Lieutenant Possible saying true, Stoppable?
"Every word, I won't deny anything. I fragged him."
Barkin had heard enough. Snarling in rage that this coward, that this traitor, that this pile of shit was still breathing, he reached for his pistol and was about to kill Ron when the Brigadier General, noticing the commotion. Stepped in and ordered a trial.
And now they were facing each other again. Only nine months had passed since his sentence, yet he could still see the rage and contempt in the man's eye when he looked towards him.
"Hey Colonel B, how've you been?" Ron smirked, knowing just how much Barkin hated that informal greeting.
"Stoppable, you'd think that being close to an execution would force some manners into you."
"Yeah, you would think, that wouldn't you." Ron smiled as the scowl on his former superior's face grew more pronounced. "I suppose that you're not dropping by to give me the good news, that I've been acquitted, and that I can rejoin my unit?" Barkin ignored the question and dropped a folder on to the table.
"How's Possible doing?" he asked genuinely concerned, "I did hit her over the head pretty hard, and I was thrown into this hole before hearing anything."
Barkin stared at Ron for a moment, considering whether to answer him or not. "Possible is fine, a couple of days spent in medic care had her up and fighting again in no time." Barkin then leaned towards Ron and smiled wickedly, "She's still pissed off at you, you know, for killing her lover, just last week she requested leave; my guess is she wanted to watch you fry."
Barkin watched as Ron shifted in his chair, fishing for another cigarette. Lighting it he looked straight into Barkin's eye. "I don't regret shooting him, not even for a moment."
Barkin stared at Ron for moment before finally getting down to the reason why he was here. "Stoppable, as much as I enjoy discussing your past behavior, I have other things to do today, all of which are much more pleasant then speaking with you, so I'm going to make this brief." Barkin opened the folder and took out a sheet of paper. "As much as I would like nothing more then to see you executed, the higher ups think that you may be… useful." Barkin spat the last word out, as though it was something foul tasting, "as such you can have a chance to pay restitution, for your crimes, if you can survive, that is."
Ron looked confusedly at Barkin "What do you mean?"
"Admiral Director has assembled a new elite task force, Task Force Golf Juliett. She has put together the best that the UED has to offer, to handle the jobs that others can't. Unfortunately she found your records, and decided that you would be good for the former XO's position."
Ron's eyes widened with surprise at what the man was telling him. A chance to get back into the war, a chance to redeem himself, for the men he couldn't save. Barkin continued, "How ever the Mortality rate is incredibly high, but if you survive, your crimes will be… forgotten." Ron glanced at Barkin again and saw the distaste as he said these words. "What do you say, Stoppable?"
"One word Colonel B, Booyah! I'm in"
"I guess some congratulations are in order… Lieutenant. Your dropship leaves for Braxis, in two hours, I suggest you get outfitted." Ron's lips cracked into the first real smile since Bunker Ridge.
"Who's the CO?"
Barkin gave Ron a knowing smirk. "A Ghost Captain has been placed in charge of the task force." Ron's eyebrows rose in surprise. "Coolio! Never had a Ghost as my CO before, who is he?" Barkin's look became annoyingly smug, as he gave the name. "Ghost Captain Kimberly Anne Possible."
Ron felt his mouth fall open, and his partly finished cigarette fell out of his mouth, and onto his unprotected foot. "Awe Shit." What had he gotten himself into.
Well here is my attempt at something I have yet to see. It is honour of the up and coming Starcraft 2, and also in honour of me seeing the cinimatic trailor for the first time. So please read and review. I love reviews like a fat kid loves chocolate cake.