"Well sir, this is the deal. Your leg's nearly broken, your nose is broken and...well, quite frankly, you stink. Really stink."
"Thank you private. Is that all?"
Taylor watched as the medic rose to her feet, silently walking off to socialize with the rest of the regulars on the beach. From ice queen to the process of sublimation within seconds, and the end of that process in an even shorter amount of time. But physics weren't the trooper's main interest, so he decided not to start thinking of ways of using every other form of matter transition to describe his situation. After all, his situation could speak for itself...even if he couldn't speak for it in turn.
"Did you see the guy? Totally nailed the hig."
"Yeah...but where's the rest of his squad? He's not a shadow marshal, he must have a platoon or something."
And in this case, let the regulars speak for his situation as well.
Taylor had since realized that "squad" might have been too generous an assessment, considering that the regulars only numbered as six and seemed to have little cohesion. While he'd had his physical state examined, some of them had dumped the helghast's body in a place "fitting" for him, some of them had complimented him on his "wasting of the fucker," some of them joked in response that as they weren't marines, they weren't obliged to swear every few seconds and the rest of them just stood around, doing nothing. Hard to believe that only six of them could perform such a wide variety of tasks and have Taylor notice them all.
Too bad I wasn't as observant back at Vekta City...
In a way, the trooper was glad that the regulars were now all doing their own thing. He wanted to be left alone, not put in a position where he could socialize with men and women that he was liable to get killed. Yes, he'd killed a single helghast in single combat, but as the lieutenant bitterly reminded himself, the helghast should have been dead on Dorothy Street and his men still alive. And after all, the helghast had had a dozen opportunities to kill him. Overconfident, true...but at least the goggle-head's overconfidence hadn't gotten his men killed.
Only good hig is a dead hig...but I guess the helghast say the same of us. Maybe I should be the one lying on the beach. Maybe the guy deserved to win...
"So, lieutenant, you ready to move?"
Taylor looked up at the regular above him, quickly deducing from the markings on his armour that he was a sergeant with the surname of Zigler. Two facts that Taylor wished were different-he didn't want to be the only CO on this bloody beach and names were overrated. Even when he knew them, he was only going to remember them after the poor sods had died.
"Private Coyle tells me the hig did some damage, but you pulled through. Nice job taking him-..."
"Luck, sergeant. Blind luck. Now either say something important or piss off."
"...your platoon's as dead as that helghast you nailed, aren't they?"
A chill ran down the CO's spine, and not just because of the cold sea breeze. He gazed up at Zigler, the man clearly in the here and now. No loitering, no jokes, just facts. Facts that Taylor felt compelled to remind himself of rather than letting others do it for him.
"Well?" the NCO continued. "Did vindication help?"
"No..." Taylor mused sullenly, averting his gaze and staring down at the sand. "It didn't. Because the helghast didn't kill them. I did. You want to praise me for taking out the hig? Don't. I don't deserve it."
"Fine. You don't. But you don't deserve to lie down on the job either."
The lieutenant glanced back up at Zigler. He also glanced at the M66-SD submachine gun being held out to him.
"We've all lost people," the sergeant grunted, gesturing to his squad and confirming what Taylor already suspected, that it was a band of survivors that had grouped together rather than any coherent unit. "Deal with it. Because right now, our only priority is to head north to Rayhoven and ensure that we lose as few other people as possible. Take what you can from this and give it back tenfold to the invading bastards when the time comes for it. But in the meantime, you're leading us."
Taylor snorted, marvelling at the notion of Zigler telling him to take command when not too long ago, Eubanks would have considered that the last thing he wanted. Just further proof that NCOs were crazy, whether they be RRF, regulars, or any other piece of meat the ISA could provide.
"Let's say I actually want to lead you guys..." the trooper began, his words as deliberate and regular as the break of the waves on the sand. "What makes you think I'm up to the job?"
"You're alive when many others aren't. And that's eating away at you. That's all the proof I need."
The lieutenant sighed. No doubt there was another metaphor he could use, but right now, he couldn't summon one.
Zigler wasn't going to back down. And maybe that was for the best. After all, as he'd said, they'd all lost people. Yet Zigler had gone on. His men had gone on. And like it or not, he'd have to go on as well. Go on with the ghosts of his men following him...and hope to lay them to rest. To live with himself as well...to learn from those ghosts and ensure as few people joined their ranks as possible.
Yeah...Taylor thought to himself as he took hold of the SMG and rose to his feet, the wind at his back and the sun in his face. I can live with that...
This is Vekta. A Hell among the stars. The black eye of Alpha Centauri B. A shattered world of the United Colonial Nations. A testament to mankind's ability to push the boundaries of the extent to which one can commit mass murder.
It is what the armoured company passing down Dorothy Street takes note of. The bodies, both human and helghast, both usurpers and reclaimers, all of them meat for the grinder. 100% casualties for both sides. More ISA troopers than the helghast, but to those in the company, it matters little. This is their world. Was their world. Will be their world again. The Helghan Empire will take back what was once theirs and the ISA and UCN will tremble in fear, knowing that their imperialistic course cannot continue indefinitely. Earth will pay for its crimes and the blood spilt on Vekta will become as blood spilt throughout the stars.
This is Vekta. And the helghast will never stop.
Well, that's that done. Another story finished. Hopefully a bit better than the ads it was based on.
By way of shameless plugging, there's no other Killzone stories on my 'to write' list at this point in time. My current writing focus right now is on a Battlestar Galactica fic titled Final Five. And...um, that's about it.