Author's Note: I wrote my first fanfiction (Three Weeks Ahead) as a bit of a laugh back in September but had such great fun in doing it that a second was inevitable. As with my first, I wanted to try and write something different from the stories already available and thought I would try and weave a little bit of the series' backstory into it too - since I feel that it is overlooked by fans and haters alike. But my main inspiration for this piece is Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence and his musings on the nature of warfare and the men who fight it. Not to say I am attempting to suggest I can even come close to capturing this to the level he manages. I have no intention of extending either of my stories as I think they stand well on their own and don't see myself starting another until I finish Killzone 3's campaign. Anyway, enough of me. Read it at least, review if the need takes you and remember I have no aversion to criticism.
Motivation, each man much find his own. His motivations will turn to reasons when his actions are questioned and he will be his own worst critic. If his reasons stand up to his own questioning - his own doubts - then few may force him to rethink his position. The stubborn, self-realised man is a dangerous thing, acting blindly in accordance with his own wishes and ethos. But the stubborn, suggestible man is perhaps more dangerous yet as he may be led and moulded to act out the desires of others, through a motivation that was not originally his own. This is why the desires and wishes of the old are fought over and paid in the blood of the young.
The Helghast fight and die in the name of Scholar Visari, a pompous if enigmatic dictator, who promised them restoration of a former glory that only he and other 'well-off' Helghast so much as know of. As such they fight with single-minded purpose, making them a difficult adversary not only to battle but to predict. They fight because of the oppression they have suffered as a people, their motivations are the same stories as that of their fathers and of theirs fathers before them. A fervent mix of hatred and self-pity that can be traced back to the forced exodus from the paradise of Vekta - the eventual result of the First Extrasolar War (2201-2202). The Vektans themselves may be similarly unified by the Helghast invasion which sparked the Second Extrasolar War (2357 onwards), but it is by no means as potent a hatred - two years hardly compares to one hundred and fifty. However, memory only extends as far and as clear as serves our immediate purposes.
For the purposes of their revenge, Vektans don't like to think much further back than the Helghast invasion because to delve much further would strengthen the Helghast case against them and place doubt in the minds of their newly patriotic marines. In turn, the Helghast memory only stretches as far back as the Interplanetary Strategic Alliance/United Colonial Army oppression and abandonment on Helghan, neatly forgetting the mass greed on their ancestors' part that led to Earth's intervention in their operations. And it is the UCA's (essentially the will of Earth itself) memory that stretches back the farthest and is able to come to the most balanced conclusion about the state of play between the two worlds.
The current invasion of Helghan by Vektan ISA marines is not sanctioned by the UCA, who are calling for restraint on each side, and is therefore technically illegal. But both sides are spurred on by motivations outwith UCA control. All are guilty to those who look on from the outside, all are at fault but none can admit it. This however is all politics, words that will fill fat books and be used for nothing but gathering dust. Only to be pulled out and read when the mistakes have already been repeated and there is material for new books. Indeed, though they are made up of masses of individuals the politics of these groups do not necessarily represent the motivations of their members. For example, the individual Helghast solider appreciates his people's struggle - perhaps even more than his own leader - and how this is enough to warrant the invasion of Vekta, even Earth (Visari's final goal).
But these thoughts are not the forefront of his mind as he stands on Pyhrrus' main bridge that leads to the Academy, watching the scorched skies for signs of the inevitable arrival of the ISA's first wave. His immediate motivations are instead those of shame and fear. Shamed for his lack of involvement in the operation on Vekta and now desperate to prove himself in this arena. Spending his life as a soldier only to then be passed over for a chance to fight? It was inconceivable to him and he shakes his head to think of it now, but dared not to raise any such thoughts at the time. Who was I, he thinks, to question the wisdom of Visari? The speeches, Visari's words that stirred within him and every other Helghast such anger and pride, are with him now. Not rining in his ears as they were at the time, but reduced to a whisper as though Visari were behind him this very second urging him and more importantly, watching him. This is the Helghast's biggest fear, not death in battle but that he will fail his leader and pay the penalty for it, like a son who still fears the belt of his father. He has no worries for family as he never married and his parents died long ago from lung burn, still a common cause of death on Helghan after a century and a half of acclimatisation. Even those soldiers with immediate family have little reason to worry as the Scholar has deemed it necessary to evacuate all major cities on the planet (especially the capital). Visari's concern is not with civilian casualties but that his men are able to fight more effectively, without distraction or hesitation.
On the other side of the atmosphere, coming in out of orbit, the individual marine in the dropship is desperately trying to forget. Forget about his own wife and child back on Vekta. Two years ago when he fought back at the Helghast threat from his home thoughts of them had been his motivation - along with the fear of what would happen to them if he gave up. His son had been proud of his father upon the triumphant return, wants to be a marine like him and his wife was relieved but saw in him a change - a quiet rage that was not there before, brought on by sustained combat. His son's admiration hadn't sat well with him but he hadn't the heart to tell him the truth of war. Now though, on the spearhead of the counter-invasion, he knows that this is the not the same fight as before and he has no interest in cold blooded vengeance. However sitting in this tin can is his job. Running to cover upon landing and setting up a perimeter is his job and of course, killing 'Higs' is his job. And for all his attempts to forget, to focus his mind on the job at hand he can't help but remember his last words to his wife. A lie from the ISA that he had knowingly repeated to her; in and out in a month.
And he is surrounded by those who believe that same lie. He hates dropships and curses the one taking him closer to the enemy. The equipment tied up in the racks above his and the other fifteen marines' heads squeaks and rocks with the gentle movements of the craft. The dull drone of the engines picks up slightly but it just makes those around him shout louder. Rookies fresh from basic training to boost numbers, all bumping fists and trying to outdo each other in tales of sexual excess. One speaks whimsically about getting his hands on a Helghast helmet to take home for his mantelpiece and another thinks the Helghast women will be eternally grateful for his presence. They sound like kids going on a school trip, the marine thinks to himself, even the only officer on board is some cocksure frat boy straight out of the academy. Only one other grunt on the ship is as quiet as him and they meet each other's gaze. Each sees in the eyes of the other the so-called 'thousand yard stare' and they share a little nod before returning to their own thoughts.
He focuses his mind on memories of the enemy and tries his damnedest not to allow himself to slip over into anger, for it clouds the senses and throws training out the window. He finds himself somewhere between admiration of them and pity. It is not a comforting thought that you are going up against an adversary more formidable than those whom you fight alongside, but it would be folly to pretend otherwise. He remembers an enemy that fights without remorse or even regard for personal injury - that one Helghast who weaved in so close to his position that the porous, bullet-ridden corpse fell atop him, eyes still glowing that fearsome orange even in death. An enemy who doesn't take cowardly pot shots before hiding amongst a populace, but who constantly moves forward as though death by ISA bullets were a better prospect than the whips at their backs.
These thoughts, these motivations, were milling around his mind as a sudden thud turns the dropship and its marines deathly quiet. A groan emanates from the hull as the craft's chassis accustoms itself to an increase in load and a similar noise comes from the men as their bodies begin to ache. The marine and the other veteran of Vekta were expecting this, the replacement of the dropship's artificial gravity with that of the planet Helghan, but even they are a little taken aback by its intensity. The rookies are now working themselves into a state of panic, wondering just what they have let themselves in for. Some are attempting to keep up the bravado from earlier though it is coming up short against the roar of engines at full power. The only audible voices are now those of the two who had been quiet before, the promise of battle has their blood pumping. The high that only combat brings is something the marine never wants his son to discover or his wife to understand, it is why he is here, why he had bothered signing up for the counter invasion. Anything else is just an excuse he comes up with to keep the truth from himself; his motivation is his love of war and he sucked up every second of it back on Vekta. Life at home simply couldn't match it. He smiles over at the other marine who is unnerving the rookie next to him with a massive grin.
"Welcome to Helghan!" he yells over the noise and chaos of it all.
"Where even the planet doesn't want you to leave!" is the reply and they both laugh loud and hard with open mouths.
The Helghast regular keeping watch on the bridge thinks he spots something where the cloud is thinnest, a dark speck against a fluorescent sea of fiery pink and takes his helmet off for a better look. He is certain now of what he sees and runs a gloved hand over his newly shaved head before calling it in to a superior. He doesn't know it, but he is the first Helghast to spot the very front of the ISA invasion and takes his own place at beginning of a new stage in the history of his homeworld. All he sees is a chance to prove himself worthy of the pride placed in him by the Helghast war machine in making him a soldier. He doesn't know anything of the enemy coming down to meet him and doesn't trust Visari's propaganda that they are cowards, he will allow them to prove themselves to him in battle. He will measure their worth himself and in doing so, see his own.
And so the turn of the old men, with their posturings, meetings, ramblings, speeches and declarations has come to an end. They must now wait and see the outcome of young men's play. Visari waits and watches from his throne and the ISA high command sit in their boardroom awaiting word on the yet unknown level of Helghast resistance. Even the UCA back on Earth await the result of this entire war before deciding their next move. Each will interpret the outcome in their own way and each will decide what aspects to remember or forget in line with their own wishes. But for now, the young men fight and die in the name of the old.