Welcome, folks, to my newest story! The very first thing you should know, is that this story, in its entirety, is A/U! That means everything following the title is to be considered: Non-Canon!
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let me get on with introductions.
This is the latest in my string of stories in the Mass Effect Universe, and I hope for it to have a much different tone than my other two. (For reasons you'll find out quickly, after the main Rising Action has occurred)
I draw the slightest influence from BombSquad's Mass Effect: A New Past series, but I say 'Slight' because that was the A/U series that introduced me to the concept of A/U, and gave me the idea to try my own.
Finally, before we begin, I'd like to give a *big* thank you to two specific people:
Michael1110, for being my Beta for this (And other) story. He's just been an awesome guy to work with, and his constructive criticism (Be it good or bad) has really helped me grow as an author, and create the stories you all - seem to - enjoy.
Lastly (But not least), I'd like to thank WPago, for being my veritable 'Informant' for all things Military. The moment I started drafting up the Proof of Concept for this story, I knew I couldn't go into things armed only with knowledge gleaned from Wikipedia and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, so I looked around and managed to find this genius of War, and he's been essential in helping me with the military aspect of this story.
And now, without further ado, we're off!
Mass Effect: The Hopeless War
"But, the Invaders! They're coming!" Shouted a woman.
"We don't have any weapons, we can't fight them off!"
"I think he's an old-world soldier!" A kid pointed at the man in the Uniform.
"Please! Do something!"
Christopher McGraw was leaning against the wall of a subway tunnel. He'd stopped getting messages through his radio a quarter of an hour before. He kept the most positive attitude he could afford, and assumed that it only meant that the Invaders had finally knocked out the last of the Old-World Satellite Communications Networks. He was alone, in this small area. In front of him there were hundreds, if not, thousands, of Human Beings, hiding in the subway, trying desperately to evade the Invaders' wrath. He wouldn't tell them this, but he knew it was futile, the Invaders found everyone, eventually.
Chris sighed, and pushed off the wall. He opened his eyes, and found the first able-bodied young man he could spot.
"You." He pointed at the man, who couldn't have been older than sixteen.
"Me?" Asked the kid, before he shook his head, "Er, I mean, what do you need, sir?" He asked.
Chris pulled out one of the side-arms he'd taken from one of his fallen brothers. He had managed to take three magazines for the weapon, before he had to flee. He gave the weapon to the kid, and the magazines as well.
"If it isn't Human, it doesn't pass." The Ranger stated, before he turned on his heel and began moving up the stairs.
"Wait!" Said the kid, "What are you doing?" He demanded.
"I'm buying you as much time as I can. Reinforcements are on the way, that's what the last broadcasts said. So I'm going to do what I can."
"But you can't hold them all off!" The kid pointed out.
Chris smiled, "You know what the Old-World relied upon us Americans, for?" He asked, "It wasn't to be the biggest economy, it wasn't to be the 'free' world… No, they relied upon us for one thing: Soldiers. Before the fall of the Organized American Government, we'd had dozens of major wars in which we'd participated, most of which we won, many we lost, but all with heavy losses on the enemy side." He explained, "And we'd only been around for about two and a half centuries." He added, almost as an afterthought, "America had this idea… That if it was strong enough, it could protect everything, and usher in an era of relative peace, for all." Chris said, "Sadly, we'd never actually gotten to that point, but the fact remains, American Soldiers are the very best at what they do. So I may not be able to hold them all off, but like any hot-blooded Amer... Any hot blooded Human Being... I'm going to try my damnedest." He stated, with a smile. He nodded once, before he left the subway, and closed the gate.
Outside the subway tunnel, and on ground-level, Chris took a few moments to marvel. If there wasn't hundreds, perhaps even a few thousand, jets and planes up in the air fighting, it would look as if the city hadn't even been touched by the war, or had been ignored entirely. Australia had been one of the few nations on Earth to have avoided the Invaders' wrath for the entirety of the War, but that was because the Invaders most likely saw the small 'island-nation' as having little to no threat, and decided to conquer it as the final campaign in the war. As such, many of the cities - including it's capital, Canberra, which Chris was currently standing in - had avoided the devastation of war.
For the entire year that the war had raged, Australia had missed out on it. It wasn't hit by the Invaders' orbital strikes, or the Humans' last-ditch-effort Nuclear Bombardments. It hadn't yet had to deal with the senseless mass-slaughter of it's armed forces, and the even more mass-enslavement of it's civilian populace. It was the last bastion of Free Humanity, and as a result, it would be the sight of the bloodiest battles in the war.
"This is Sergeant Christopher McGraw… United States Army Rangers…" Chris said into his radio, as he chambered a round in his M4, which, like his uniform, had managed to survive the entire war with him, "If anyone can hear this… I've got a subway station stuffed full of Human Civilians, who need immediate assistance. Invaders are moving here…" He paused, "I know I shall fall in this battle. Let all who know of my death, know I died fighting not for my country… But for my species." He said, as, in the distance, he saw them.
Hordes of them.
Some of them were small, with orange colored skin, minimal clothing, and hideous looking eyes. Some of them were enormous, lumbering creatures, who looked like bipedal frogs, with the builds and anger of Rhinoceroses. And the most populace of them were Human-sized, with ugly, lemon-yellow skin, and four dark, evil eyes. The Humans of Earth didn't know what these evil, evil monsters called themselves, but the Humans knew them as Invaders.
What The Invaders couldn't solve through their immensely advanced technology - which Chris could see in the form of tanks and hover-based aircraft, following the ground hordes - they solved through their alien biology, and mass-horde tactics. The frog-aliens were immensely brutal, had thick hides, and seemed to have little to no self preservation instinct, not to mention their immense strength. The frog-aliens were, in essence, walking, talking tanks. Then there were the small, hideous ones, with what looked like skin stretched all across their faces. They had minimal armor, and weren't smart by any definition; they were quite easy to shoot, but they were numerous, and possessed some sort of regeneration mechanism that nothing save for fire and incendiary ammunition could counter. At first glance, they looked like the main grunt force for the invaders, but those who assumed so were wrong. They were being led by the most Human-looking of the groups, with sickly yellow skin and four dark, soulless eyes. These ones had to be the most brutal of the groups, and would constantly use weapons that did so much damage that they left no body to find. They seemed to be the smartest of them all, and had the most 'Human' of tactics, and because of this they were the most difficult to kill, when coupled with the hideos aliens and the frog-aliens. The aliens were so advanced, and so complimenting of each other's strategies, that they seemed like the perfect armies to counter act the unorthodoxity of Human beings. The fact that they owned Earth's orbit and atmosphere, did nothing to give the defending Humans any break.
"Guys…" Said Chris, not to anyone in particular, "I'm coming home." He said, as he shouldered his rifle, and aimed down the sight.
He inhaled deeply, and exhaled just as deeply. In once again, and out. He gripped the trigger for his M203 Grenade Launcher, in once again, and out. He pulled the trigger, sending his last grenade downrange, and the battle began.
"Sir!" Called a medic, as he tried to rouse Christopher McGraw from his blood-loss induced stupor, "Sergeant…" The combat medic paused, to check the Ranger's name tag, "McGraw! You're going to be okay! We'll get you out of this!" He shouted, over the sounds of war around him.
The bleeding Old World veteran underneath the soldier coughed, the medic saw blood begin to fill the bandana which covered the American's face, he took it off as carefully and as quickly as he could, and wiped some of the blood off of the man. "I'm going to give you something to help with the pain, Corporal, we're going to get you out of this, you just have to stay calm, and stay still!" The medic shouted, as the soldiers that had been behind him, roared forth, spewing everything he and his species had at The Invaders.
The soldier beneath the medic shook his head, "I'm… Done for… Kid." He said, halting the medic's hand's advance, and stopping the injection of the morphine. "You've got to help the guys who'll live to see another day…" He ordered the medic.
The ground next to them shook as a Human tank exploded, and on top of it came an enormous invader, this one looking like a bi-pedal toad, with thick skin, like a rhinoceros. The enormous invader spotted the two soldiers, and uttered a deafening battle cry, before it sprinted towards them, only to be cut in two by a passing gun ship, which was being chased by at least five Invader fighters. It was obvious to the medic and the dying soldier that the pilot knew he or she was done for, and was simply making a last-ditch effort gun run, to take out anyone he or she could, before the ship inevitably exploded.
"Sir, I can get you out of this, just take the morphine and -" The medic was interrupted when the dying soldier reached into the pants of his uniform, a relic of the countries that had used to divide his species. Its tan, green, and gray 'Universal Camouflage' pattern had long since been bleached by the sun, dulled by explosions and gravel, or stained by Invader and Human blood alike. But like the nation it had once belonged to, it still stood proud alongside it's bearer. The object the soldier pulled out was a journal, about twice the size of the soldier's hand.
"If we…" The soldier croaked, "When we win…" He corrected himself, "Make sure this gets into the right hands…" He said, before he smiled, "I took out a damn good fifty of those guys… I think… Before you guys got here." He said, fondly remembering the battle that had taken place between him and the Invaders. He'd been able to single-handedly halt the Invaders and stop them in their tracks, a feat that was quite impressive, especially for the bigger ones.
"Sir, you're going to be okay!" Said the Medic, though he could see the beginnings of death in the man's eyes. It wouldn't be long at all, now.
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil… For my species' warriors are with me; your guns and your bullets, they comfort me." The dying soldier said, before another cough, "I'll see you again in Hell… Kid. Bring a few of them with you, please?" The man requested, as his eyes glossed over and his tense body suddenly went limp.
"Murray!" The medic heard someone shout, as his gaze was enraptured by the pen and journal he'd been given. "Tyler!" That same voice shouted, the medic saw that the book has a hastily scribbled title written on it's front, "Get the hell up! We've got to get out of here! Canberra has fallen, so has HASCo! Everyone's moving back inland to regroup, last transmission was that six Invader ships from southern Asia were moving here, we need to get out of the city before it gets turned into a kill zone!" The man shouted, shaking the medic's shoulder.
"Yes sir!" Shouted the medic, Tyler, after he put the book in one of his pants pockets, and turned to run with the other soldier.
The book had been titled, "The S̶u̶b̶j̶u̶g̶a̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ Hopeless War.", Tyler had been able to see the man's full name for only a moment, but he knew he wouldn't soon forget it. "By C̶o̶r̶p̶o̶r̶a̶l̶ Sergeant Christopher McGraw, American, Human, United States Army, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment."
Entry No. 1:
For thousands of years, we as a species thought we were alone in the universe. Our lack of substantial evidence had told us, almost bold facedly, that there couldn't be anything out there. Our religions would dictate that there is nothing but Man, that there was nothing but Man, and that there will be nothing but Man.
In the early days, not even a year ago, we didn't know what was happening right on our celestial doorstep. We as a species were still continuing on with our daily lives, working, saving lives, complaining about broken appliances, eating junk-food, fighting wars, etc., etc. We didn't know that there were aliens out there, We didn't know that the ET's that were entering our system were doing so with Big Fucking Bombs.
We didn't know that the Invaders were planning to enslave us with the Subjugation War.
June 11th, 2013 (C.E.)
Aboard the Batarian Cruiser, Shalanaza, captain Shin Tso'Mal was smiling. His species had finally, after decades of pathetic groveling and grueling deliberation, been given rights to colonize further out into the Attican Traverse. Sensors had shown that this particular sector of the Galaxy had at least one Garden World, and was actually amongst the closest planet to Khar'Shan since Tyber, the fifth planet the Hegemony had colonized. This garden world, which had been colloquially dubbed 'Reach' [Named so, because it was the Hegemony's first 'Reach' into the inner portion of the Galaxy], was about the same size as Khar'Shan, and was expected to have an almost unnoticeable gravitational difference.
This system had a Mass Relay within it, however the sensors had shown that it had been encased within ice. Unsheathing it was as simple as activating a relay [With the permission of the 'Illustrious' Citadel Council, of course], and just like that, the frozen relay broke off or melted the ice around it. The Shalanaza had just completed Relay Transit, when the sensors had noticed something off about the readings in the system. At the time, it had been assumed that this was because of the younger sun in the system, giving off radiation that the sensors hadn't quite been used to. After a mere five standard minutes of scanning, it was revealed to them that it was not a radiation malfunction.
This system was inhabited, by a species that was so primitive, Tso'Mal had considered calling in the fleet to simply bomb the species to oblivion and put them out of their misery. A few hours of sifting through this species' satellite and information network, to obtain information and historical documents, while being hidden by the planet the Relay was orbiting, had shown them interesting data, which had, even for the Hegemony's vastly superior technology, taken them close to a week to create a translation software. The 'World Wide Web', as the 'Homo Sapiens', or 'Humans', called it, had an enormous amount of data to sift through, almost as much as the Extranet. The captain focused on the 'Humans' history, and had been surprised yet again that day. These Humans had been in a state of near-constant warfare for over two millennia. That was longer than both the Rachni wars, and the Krogan rebellions combined. And apparently, there were hundreds - if not thousands more - years of undocumented warfare even before 'Year One'. What Tso'Mal found interesting was how quickly these Humans had advanced, technologically, and how brutally efficient they were at warfare.
Merely a century ago, for instance, they had yet to even consider the possibility of 'Mankind' taking to the skies and flying. However, when a war (Which they called 'World War 1') occurred not two decades later, aero-planes were almost a common occurrence, they were almost immediately brought into combat roles and used the world over. As if they were seeking to please their new, unknown, unseen masters, the Humans delved into another war not even a few decades after the first (Dubbed 'World War 2'), and had utilized even more rapidly advancing technologies. Automatic weapons, immensely powerful naval ships, and even more aero-planes were all used to great effect in this war; and further proving their tenacity and war-prone attitude, they developed atomic weapons and entered their Atomic-age, during a war! They even proceeded to use said weapons on one of their enemies, an event only ever seen by the Krogan, and the gods know how efficient they were at war. But the most impressive aspect was that these Humans were so effective, and so efficient at warfare, that despite overwhelming odds, even the smallest squad or battalion of soldiers could make the difference in the war.
The Captain had sent all his findings to the Hegemony several months earlier, and it had taken the Hegemony only a week to realize the potential in these people. For centuries - nay, millennia! - the Hegemony had been a downtrodden race, seen unfit for councillorship by the Citadel Council. But their troop numbers rivaled even the Asari, and that was with just their people, that didn't include their slave-warriors, or the legions of mercenaries they had at their finger tips; despite this, the Hegemony realized that would need only one advantage in a war to conquer the Citadel, and steal Galactic Rule from the cursed Council. The Hegemony quickly decided that these Humans would be the perfect soldiers, better than even the Krogan, because of their ingenuity, their ferocity, and their affinity for war, not to mention their intelligence, which immediately makes them superior to the Krogan. All the Hegemony would have to do, would be to subjugate them and enslave them. This would have to be done in secret, of course, and thus the Hegemony had decided to use its relatively vast wealth to hire entire organizations of mercenaries - hundreds of thousands of soldiers, from ex-Asari Commando, to the bloodiest Krogan battle master, and even the most blood-thirsty of Vorcha BattleVectors. A couple million more credits were needed to buy the Shadow Broker's silence, as well as the leaders of the mercenary organizations. Now, armed with the Mercenary Fleets, and their own vastly superior marines, ships, and soldiers, they could easily dominate the Humans, break their collective backs, mold their men to be slave-warriors, their women to be pleasure-slaves, and their children to be workers.
It would take time, the Captain realized, as his crew reported the rest of the Invasion Fleet was arriving through the Relay, it would take some cunning, too. But Shin Tso'Mal knew that he and his, would conquer these puny Humans, and burn their 'Earth'.
Entry No. 1 (Cont):
While the Invaders were planning how properly to destroy the 'Puny Earthlings', we were still here, stuck on our planet, unable to strike back, unable to even call them on the telephone. Just sitting here, on our only planet, going about, business as usual. Hell, we didn't even know they were here until they'd already changed something in our 'Territory', and even then, it was months before the nerds at NASA realized what was happening.
I'll say it here, and whomever reads this can quote me on it, I MISS Afghanistan. I'd gladly take eleven Afghan Wars - at the same time - instead of the Subjugation War, if that meant my species could continue to exist, continue to be ignorant of the galaxy around it.
June 11th, 2013 (C.E.)
At the Goddard Space Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland, the day was less than interesting. These words had come from the mouth of one of the head engineers of the center himself, Joseph Wayde. Not many days had he go so far as to say this, fewer were the days where he'd actually consider praying to some God that something would happen. Anything would do, he would reason, during these brief spouts of boredom, he would even accept a possibly catastrophic event out on the edges of the Solar System. The most interesting thing that had ever happened in his history of working at the center had occurred several months ago, when an asteroid had slammed into Charon, and had literally split the ice-moon in two; thankfully, the asteroid had been halted entirely by the moon itself, and the few chunks that were moving towards the Earth would either get burned up in the atmosphere, or would be so small at the moment of impact that it would more than likely go unnoticed by the people in the immediate vicinity.
At least, that's what they'd told everyone. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration had genuinely thought that an asteroid had hit Charon. But when the cosmic dust had settled, they'd immediately learned different, when, in Charon's place, was an immense object, clearly mechanical in nature. NASA had checked, rechecked, and then checked it again sixteen times, before they figured out that they weren't being played by the boys at Langley. They were almost literally staring at ET's tuning fork.
This had caused the President's jaw to drop, obviously. No one knew what the 'Tuning Gate' was doing there, or how it had gone so long without being discovered. It had almost immediately received a dedicated satellite, because almost everyone in the Department of Defense believed that, if it had activated so suddenly, there had to be a reason; and being the jarheads they are, they assumed it was with military reasons.
It had been a rather tricky situation, after that. Almost all of the world's space agencies reported the same thing, and all of them gave the same NASA Cover-up about the meteor. And just like the United States, many militarily capable countries believed that the Tuning Gate could have been activated for military purposes, and had started bringing troops home from the Middle East en masse. Even the US, who had said they'd get the troops home at the end of 2014, had to massively accelerate its plans in light of this possible threat.
Wayde himself thought it was stupid, why would aliens travel untold light years just to start a war? Surely they would have evolved, societally, past the need for war, yes? But, he reasoned, it's not like he can change the mind of the same governmental body that had brought the nation seventeen trillion dollars in debt, so he kept his mouth shut, and his ear to the void, secretly giddy at the prospect of alien contact.
Things hadn't ever gotten so exciting, since then. The adrenaline rush from the prospect of meeting actual, real aliens, had been addictive. This was a fact that Wayde would never admit, but he knew it to be true. Wayde was currently on break, he was sitting in the miniature cafeteria, eating a McDonalds hamburger he'd bought a couple blocks away, and had brought back here, and was currently exploring the latest news websites on his smart phone. A begrudging fact that, like many, many others, he didn't want to admit, was that he was enraptured by foreign events. More specifically, the situation that was occurring in North Korea. The mere idea that he might knowingly be living on the eve of an enormous, possibly nuclear war, was enticing; this was why he didn't hear his co-worker shouting his name, until the annoying woman was jostling his shoulder.
"Wayde… Mister Wayde, sir?" The woman said, trying to rouse his attention with a light shove.
"Hm?" Wayde looked up and saw the scientist, a rather unattractive brunette woman, who looked nothing like his wife, with pale white skin and several clusters of poorly concealed zits on her nose, cheek, and forehead, "Yes? What is it?" He asked, his Australian accent cutting through the air.
"The engineers are frantic, they told me to get you!" The woman responded.
Wayde suppressed a scowl at this, once again proving his justified dislike of this woman, she still thought that the entire world revolved around her. Despite the fact that she, quite literally, knew the opposite to be true. Wayde shut his phone off, and finished his burger, "What do they need? Did they say?" He asked, wiping his face with a napkin and depositing the trash in the nearest trash bin.
"Not really, I heard something about an object orbiting Pluto, but when they raised their voices to get me to leave and find you, I stopped listening." She said, as she led the doctor to the laboratory.
After a few minutes' journey, Wayde and the woman entered the room, where a rather large crowd had gathered around one specific cluster of desks. An image was being broadcasted onto one of the largest screens on the wall in front of them, Wayde immediately realized what was happening, when he saw what was on the screen.
"Alright, who was the poor, poor idiot who put an image of a space ship on the TV?" Wayde asked, his loud, deep accented voice silencing the room, as he walked down to join the crowd, which parted for him as he went through.
When he neared the engineer who manned the station everyone was crowding around, he received his response, "Sir… I've… No damn way to tell you this… But… This isn't a joke…" He said.
Wayde looked at the man skeptically. The man's name was James, he thought, James Thomas, something like that. He was a fresh-out-of-college worker, the signature 'Bright-Eyed' NASA engineer, who more than likely did exactly what Wayde had done, and joined wanting to discover something new, and change the course of Humanity; instead, he, like Wayde and so many others, got sucked into the same pattern of routine daily life at the Goddard Space Center, and would slowly feel his dreams bleed out of him like a fresh wound.
"James, right?" The man nodded, "I don't know what the others have told you, but we don't actually do things like this." Wayde said, "Not since one of ours tried to convince Kennedy, and nearly ended up getting the moon-landing canceled." He stated, "And given the very... sensitive... subject matter you are dealing with, how about you cut the image editor out, and tell us it was a joke?" Wayde asked.
"Sir, it's… Not a joke! Look!" James fiddled with his computer, and zoomed in on a specific section of the screen, "See that? Right there, just behind the… Well, what I think is the machine's engines?" He asked.
Wayde leaned in, humoring the kid, "Looks like a meteorite." He shrugged.
"That's ice, sir. It's a shard of Charon… But that's nowhere near as interesting as this…" James zoomed in on a different section of the screen, the back end of another, smaller-looking machine could be seen. This one was glowing a fierce blue, and had some sort of ring structure rotating around the fierce blue orb. "This is the machine that came from Charon's corpse, the one we covered up. I think that the ship might have used the Charon-Object to come here..."
Wayde's patience was wearing thin, he was expecting this to turn into one of those 'Scream' videos his son was so in to, or perhaps a very, very odd way of expressing the desire to meet a real alien. "What are you saying… That ship -" He pointed to the ship, "Came from the Monolith that destroyed Charon?" He inquired.
"Er…" James muttered, Wayde inwardly smiled, he must have asked a question the man hadn't thought up an answer for. "I… I don't know, sir. I just detected the ship on the Charon-oriented satellite." He said, "I saw this… So… I… Um… I don't have anything else, there's a frigging alien space ship orbiting Pluto, and it's sitting there." James deadpanned.
"Call up the guys at the KSC, consider calling the ESA." Said Wayde, "If I get conflicting reports from both of them, someone's losing their job." He stated, leaving the office.
Entry No. 1 (Cont.):
I'd said we here on good ol' planet Earth were going about, business as usual, and I meant it. The last 'normal' day I had was June 12th, 2013, my fucking birthday. My girlfriend and I had a pretty heated argument the day before, my squad and I had been called in to assist some SEALs in a Search and Rescue operation. If you want to think about it in a harsh way, we were the 'Fall Guys'. The SEALs were heading in to conduct some sort of assassination on some Al Qaeda leader, who happened to be sitting on a big-ass pile of POW's, or hostage/refugees, I don't remember too clearly. So while the SEALs were doing stealth and espionage, we were, in essence, blowing shit up and causing the world's best distraction for the Frog Men.
Anyways, my girlfriend and I had a heated argument on the 11th, she'd been planning a big huge surprise birthday 'party', for the big 30. I say 'Party', because in reality, I've only got about… Six or seven guys I'd feel confident calling my 'friends'. Five guys in my squad, one an old high-school friend of mine I haven't talked to in six months. She was angry because she'd taken a lot of time to set this up, and she'd heard about our sudden need for deployment through the Sergeant, and not me. (Thanks, Sarge!) After we'd been screaming at each other for a good two hours was when I'd had to cut off the argument and head out to Ft. Benning.
A lot of folks in my platoon were wondering why we were even conducting this mission, seeing as how The Government had suddenly shit its pants and started bringing everyone home. Granted, back then, we didn't know that The Government had shit its pants because it thought we were about to be invaded by Aliens.
Still, looking back, I never knew how long it'd be until I would see her again.
I never expected The Subjugation War.
No one did.
"Two minutes!" He heard the pilot call over the radio, as they flew over the sands of Afghanistan.
They were sitting in a Stealth helicopter, 'Dagger Squad', they were called. Five Heli's, with five Rangers in each. Christopher McGraw was strapped into the chair furthest from the canopy door, which was to open in at least two minutes, according to the pilot. He held his dog tags between his forefinger and his thumb, rubbing them between his fingers as if he would make some sort of spell by doing so.
"Hey Chris, you tryin' to rub off the name on those tags?" Asked one of Chris' squad mates, Jack, his name was, his southern accent filled the helicopter, and permeated the helmets and radios of everyone in the vicinity.
"I heard about the argument with you and Alison, man." Said another, correctly guessing the source of Chris' anxiety.
"I think she'll calm down soon enough." Chris muttered, just loud enough to be picked up by the microphone.
"You know… It's probably not my place to say, but I think she's looking for somethin' bro." Said Jack, "Something with a bigassed rock on it…" He said, slowly, so he knew Chris would hear it.
"You dumbass redneck, maybe down in Texas they use rocks, but us city folk use diamonds." Said another Ranger, Private Allen, his cheeky remark earning the chuckles of everyone who heard.
"Hey, I may be a redneck, but at least I've got a lady. Where the hell's your girl, city-boy?" Jack asked, earning his own round of chuckles.
"Seriously though, what do you think, Chris? Time to tie the knot?" Asked Allen.
Chris shrugged, dropping his tag and tucking it under his uniform, "I dunno." He said, putting a bit more strength into his naturally deep voice, "Most likely, is what she's looking for. But… Hell, half the time we argue, it's about me leaving for something. Do you really expect that to change with a ring?" He asked.
"Sixty seconds!" The Pilot called.
"Maybe you should just hash it out with her." Said Jack, "Be like: Look bitch, I'm out there gettin' shot at for a living, what're you doing again? Veterinarian?" Chris smiled despite himself, one thing he, Jack, and most everyone in Dagger 1-1 had in common was having fun at others' expense, "I may not be making as much money as you, but it's because of my job that you can do your job! So if you don't like it, then get the hell out!" He pretended to point at the 'door', to emphasize his point.
"Thanks, Jack." Said Chris, a smile still on his face.
"Thirty Seconds!" They heard.
"Alright, if you ladies are going to stop talking about your problems, can we start talking about our Country's?" Sergeant Fuller, Dagger 1-1's squad leader, asked, "You know our prime objective. We're heading in to find hostages and refugees, to make life living hell for the terrorist SOB's keeping 'em held there, and to make life a bit easier for the SEALs." He said, "Any questions?"
"How're we going to be able to tell who's who? How many frog-men are heading in there?" Allen inquired.
"We've got NVG's [Night Vision Goggles], and friendlies have IR [Infrared] Strobes. If you see a strobe, don't shoot it." Said Fuller, "And we've got six SEALs heading in."
"Ten seconds!" Said the pilot, before he hit the red light.
Immediately following that, all talk and activity in the several helicopters ceased as the Rangers un-strapped, stood up, and waited for the light to go green. Ten seconds passed, before the pilots switched the lights green, and the canopy door opened up and a second after it extended all the way, the Rangers dived out into the cold night air of the Afghanistan desert. They were miles into the air, and would have several seconds before they would have to deploy their parachutes.
"Twelve O' Clock, looks like a mile or two, headlights just flashed. Those our guys?" Came a voice Chris only barely recognized, he assumed it was from another Dagger squad.
"Most likely. Heard those SEALs went in a less conspicuous, more silent way." Said another Ranger.
The next few moments were silent, before one man declared he was deploying his parachute. A moment after that, the radio was filled with parachute deployment reports. Chris waited just a single moment before he too deployed his parachute. The familiar feeling of a sudden stop, and the rush of blood to his head occurred as he slowed down, thanks to the parachute now deployed above him. As he slowed down to a relatively safe speed, Chris executed the same practice he would each time he did a para-drop. He took two deep breaths, and allowed the fear to flow into him.
For five seconds, Chris allowed fear to seep into and through every inch of his body. Fear for failure, fear for death, general fear, it all flowed through him, and it overwhelmed him. But the moment the five seconds were up, he opened his eyes, and it all seemed to evaporate. He looked down, and saw that he had just a few more hundred meters until he hit the ground. He took a moment to go over his equipment, one M4A1, with an EOTech sight and a suppressor, one M9 Pistol, four fragmentation grenades and flash bang grenades, ten magazines for his M4, and five for his pistol, which equated to 300 rounds for his rifle, and 75 for his pistol, not including the rounds already loaded into the weapons. He quickly checked his night vision goggles, which worked perfectly. Chris was now only fifty meters from the ground, he took a deep breath and held it tightly.
The second he hit the ground, Chris exhaled and bent his knees, just barely managing to keep his balance and keep from falling onto his side. He quickly gathered up his parachute and took off the pack, before he buried it under some sand. He shouldered his rifle and made sure the sights worked, they did, and he chambered a round before he reported his status. He and a few others had drifted a few dozen meters off course, but the compound they were looking for was still in sight, so he made his way towards it, vigilant of anything that an enemy could use to hide behind, in, or under.
Entry No. 1 (Cont.):
A parallel could be drawn between this mission, and the Subjugation Wars. The 'Evil Americans' heavily outnumbered the Taliban forces, and had much better equipment (They had AK47's and regular eye sight, we had M4's, NVG's, Kevlar, Grenades of all types, AT Missiles, etc. etc.), in the Afghan/Iraq wars. The Invaders had technology that far surpassed ours, and numbers to boot. They said 'History Repeats Itself', I never knew how true that was.
"Dr. Wayde, can I venture a guess as to why you're calling?" The man on the other end of the telephone asked.
"Excuse me, director, but I seem to be calling at a moment of slight stress. One of the 'noobs' in our center tried to pull a trick, you know the one, where they just take a bunch of pictures from 'alien sighting' websites and put 'em on the big screen. The man in question refuses to admit his deceit, so I've decided to humor him, and here I am." Said Joseph Wayde, his eyes only briefly resting upon the computer screen in front of him, which was supposed to be giving him a live image from Pluto, but was not because of some technical glitch that the other engineers were working frantically to fix.
"Tell me, Joseph… This alien ship trick… Is it orbiting Pluto?" The man asked.
"Yes sir…" Said Wayde, slightly caught off guard that he'd guessed correctly.
"And in the background, can you see the 'Tuning Gate', with a big bright blue center?"
Now Wayde was a little anxious, and his disbelief was beginning to wane, "We… Only caught the back end of the object… Sir…" He said.
"Well… You're seeing the same thing we are. I got off the phone with the ESA just a few quarters of an hour ago, same thing, but they claim to have seen six ships."
"Sir?" Wayde's disbelief was rapidly evaporating at this point, all he needed was a single, definitive sentence, one that could be the single most important in all of the history of the Human Race.
"I've spoken with everyone I can on this, Doctor… I'm even scheduled to meet POTUS in a few hours to bring this to his attention… But we've got living proof, now… Undeniable… Unquestionable… Facts. We are not alone."
"McGraw, Sanders give me suppressin' fire on a cluster of tangos, ten O' Clock low, forty five meters!" Chris heard Jack call out.
"Suppressing fire, heard! On three!" McGraw shouted, almost instantly knowing what Jack was trying to do. The Rangers had been able to identify one of the shacks as one of the three that held hostages, thanks to the Satellite images they'd been given earlier. The cluster of enemies Jack had specified was just a few meters from the first of three large shanty shacks. Chris was almost certain that Jack planned to link up with another Ranger that was pinned down, and after a few moments, use a path the other Ranger couldn't yet see to flank the enemies.
"One!…" Shouted Sanders, as he prepped his Squad Automatic Weapon.
"Two!…" Shouted McGraw, as he tested the weight of his M4, he assumed he had a half magazine, give or take a few bullets, before he would be dry and would have to reload.
"Three!" Jack called out.
"Suppressing!" Called Chris, right before he and Private Sanders peeked over cover and fired at the enemy targets Jack had picked out earlier. Chris could see at least five enemies, but he assumed that there could be two or three down reloading their weapons, or hiding from bullets, given the enemies' size and their spacing.
"I'm moving!" Shouted Jack, after he slapped in a new magazine into his M4, and chambered a round. He whipped around the small concrete slab the three had been using as cover, and sprinted off to the northeast. Before Chris had to dip back down into cover, he saw the dilapidated, wooden shack that Jack was rushing towards, and the Ranger he was trying to link up with.
"McGraw!" It was Sergeant Fuller, "I've got contacts on the roof, two with RPG's, I'm pinned down, can you see 'em? My twelve!"
Chris looked to his left, and saw, about a dozen meters over, Sergeant Fuller hiding behind a large stone column. Chris used Fuller's position to gauge the location of the RPG wielders, he leaned out of cover for a few moments and saw the men Fuller had called out, before a few bullets peppered his position. He just barely felt one graze over his right shoulder, but a quick inspection proved his invaluable luck, as he saw no blood, and therefore, no injury.
"I see the RPG's, Sergeant! Give me three seconds, I'll take 'em out!" Chris shouted into the radio, as he ejected the magazine from his rifle, and put in a new one.
"Hurry, I think they're loading up to fire!" Chris heard another Ranger, this one probably on another team, declare.
Chris waited those three seconds for the bullets to stop peppering his position. Thankfully they let up, Chris could hear some raised voices shout in a different language, and he assumed that someone inside the main building had discovered the SEALs, who'd given a short, discreet message a while ago declaring their entry. Chris quickly leaned out of cover and shouldered his rifle; it took him just a few moments to find and sight in on the RPG wielding enemies, and just a moment after that for his rifle to cough out three rounds into the first of the two. Unfortunately for the man he hadn't yet shot, the former had clenched the trigger of the rocket launcher just as he fell forward from Chris' gunfire. The rocket propelled grenade had a grand journey of three feet before it slammed into the roof, and exploded. The entire building seemed to shake because of this, and the roof's structural integrity seemed much less sound, as it quickly started caving in on itself, the second RPG lost his footing and ended up falling inside the building, he launched his rocket as well, but it flew wildly off course, and ended up detonating far away from the compound.
"Damn, 1-1, what do I have to do to get into your team?" The light-toned voice of another Ranger asked.
"Start blowin' shit up, 1-4... Start blowin' shit up." Came Jack's voice, and a moment later, "Enemy group, KIA. You can move up now, guys, this balcony is clear."
"Roger that, McGraw, you and Whyte head over to that shack, check for hostages."
"Understood." Said Chris.
"Copy that." Said Jack, as he and Chris both moved towards the shack, rifles raised, constantly scanning and being aware of their surrounding, knowing from experience that enemies could pop up anywhere, any when.
It only took the two a few moments to stack up on opposite sides of the wooden door leading into the small shack. It had to be the same size as a small garage, but it smelled, in Chris' opinion, like shit. Chris almost immediately assumed that the enemies were only providing the hostages basic sustenance, but things beyond that, such as clothing, sleeping quarters, or even a place to relieve themselves, was to be found within the shack.
"Congratulations, my deadened nose and the flies have elected you to open that door." Jack said, pulling a bandana over his nose, so he could keep his hands on his rifle.
"Thanks, Jack-ass." Said Chris, as he slowly went to test the door knob. He felt no resistance when he jostled it a little, so he assumed that there wasn't a cluster of grenades attached to the handle, waiting for some unwitting American, or whomever may be there, to open the door and set them off.
Chris slowly turned the doorknob, and it opened without any resistance. The two were presented with a rather gruesome sight, the men and women inside weren't emaciated, or starved, but there were several corpses in the back, with discolored skin and sunken faces.
Must have executed a few of them to prove a point… Chris realized with grim certainty. The surviving hostages looked to the American with a suddenly renewed sense of hope. One of them started crying tears of joy when he lowered his rifle to call it in.
"Sergeant Fuller, we've got hostages in Shack A, we've also got some H-KIA. How goes things in your sector?" He asked.
"We're meeting light resistance as we head through the building, but Frogger has already been through here. We've got some people in the main building's basement clearing it out, and the top floor is clear apart from one or two confused terrorists." Fuller responded, "We got reports from shacks B and C, B had a full stock of dead hostages, they checked, no one was alive. Shack C was almost the same as what you described, but it had a bunch of kids, in place of adults."
Chris looked to Jack, "Ask them if they've got kids. Tell 'em we're here to help, but we need to know how many we're extracting." He said.
"Got it." Said Jack, before he moved inside the shack to talk to the hostages.
"Anything else?" Chris asked into the radio.
"Not at the moment, 1-3 found an ammo dump in the eastern part of the building, they're setting up some explosives, just for you Birthday Boy." Fuller said, lightly chuckling at the end.
"Hahaha, Sergeant. McGraw out." Said Chris, with a smile on his face.
Entry No. 1 (Cont.):
The rest of the mission went as expected, we extracted by air, we deposited the hostages at an Army Base in some town with a name I can't spell, next day we went home and did what we usually did after a 'quick' deployment in Afghan, had a crap-ton of Burgers and Beers, and watched the shittiest TV shows we could find. I'm talking, 'Jersey Shore' bad.
We didn't know that it'd be the last time we'd ever do something like that. We had no damn clue that some unnamed, abandoned base in Afghanistan would be the very last 'normal' mission we would have before the Subjugation War.
- Cpl. Chris McGraw, 75th Ranger Regiment.