Author has written 8 stories for Halo, and Indiana Jones.
Endless love, see you down the road. –Leonard Cohen (1934 - 2016)
Lazy journalism student.
Today we launch Ten Days in Mombasa, a project that has been coming together the better part of last decade. It combines everything we love about the Halo universe and blends our distinctive brands of action, drama, and politics together for an exciting new window into the great war we all love fighting so much. Here's a big thank you to those who have been waiting, any newcomers, and especially to the man EMF himself for sticking around and always being down to brainstorm. This story does not exist without that. Become a procrastinator today.
Protip: Large font size, Georgia font, 3/4 width, window adjusted to Kindle sized for my preferred reading experience.
"He was from a nothing-special outfit out of 25th Infantry, she from a unit called The Highwayman: 906th Brigade, renowned for its actions in hellhole places like Cassandra and Aurelia after that, rumours and stories that had spread by way of soldiers who came and went. She had a bandage wrapped around her stomach and ribs because a red-hot alien spike had taken a bite out of her fleshy side; he had a bandage wrapped around his wrist because he’d opened up his veins lengthwise in the shower when no one was watching—he hadn’t told her but she suspected anyway. This happened some time ago and underneath the dressing the skin had already come back together but it was still unsightly. It was still shameful.
Both ended up here. That was the war at this point, the way things were going."
November 2552. The month-long battle for Earth is not over. The Covenant meet fanatic resistance put up by UNSC forces scattered all over East Africa: a front on the verge of total collapse.
Truth’s army sweeps westward towards Voi to await his return, with standing orders to exterminate every living soul in its way.
In wartorn Mombasa, thousands of troops and refugees funnel towards a rundown, old hospital in the slums, the last stronghold of a city under siege. Overcrowded, undersupplied, and not even structurally sound, the hospital is not the well-oiled ship it needs to be to carry all these people to safety. In what many think are humanity’s last days, distrust, fear, and guns rule all. (War/drama)
It is the long concluding act of a collection of stories I'm calling the Lima/906th Trilogy: Though Hell Should Bar The Way, Alone, and Aim High, Dig Deep. (The latter two are written by Electromotive Force.) These stories collectively portray the UNSC as a gritty military machine, where soldiering is a full-time job and officers need to worry more about the politics of promotion and logistical nightmares—shooting at the Covenant is a fringe benefit.
Ten Days in Mombasa is a standalone miniseries that keeps the sense of realism of Generation Kill with the scope and cinematic feel of The Pacific and Band of Brothers and imagines the battle of Mombasa as an event like modern-day Aleppo or the fall of Saigon. Above all it portrays a military whose personnel are deep into a ten thousand-day war that has no end in sight and what might be the realities of that, the effect it has on the human psyche.
The Forever Soldier
“Did you know I was active during the war?”
“Had that feeling.”
"I’ve met old spies. It’s you lot who used to do this sort of thing for reasons beyond yourselves. For duty, yeah? Didn’t matter what—jobs dirtier than this, even—it was still for a cause. War meant you could do no wrong, ‘coz if you didn’t, there might not be a tomorrow. Big crusade made killers into soldiers. Then the war went away, and soldiers turned back into killers. That big reason just... vanished. The work was still the same—doesn’t put on its hat and call it a night, and do the white-picket, hair-curlers, potroast waiting in the oven thing—but it was qualms that won out. The whole feeling-bad-about-it. Post-war slump suddenly made the necessary an ugly thing—a very, very illegal thing. Bleeding hearts left the Office for good, got a pint, and went out to celebrate the end of the war in the streets. They were soldiers who couldn’t wait to come back from a tour overseas, from some dark calling that was done with them. But the lifers, now, they just burrowed in deeper, disappearing into rooms and floors that ONI still denies all existence of so that they could keep working. These are people I’ve met. Absolutely cold. Who you might mistake for career criminals because they don’t judder one bit. Like how surgeons don’t lose it, hacking apart a body. All just practice. It isn’t evil. It just is."
Julian, the ineffectual heir to an industrial empire loses a reconstruction contract with the UNSC. Mere minutes away from blowing out his brains in an old hotel room, his mother-in-law Rachel shows up to take matters into her own hands. As a retired Six of an experimental, hyper-lethal black ops program within ONI Section Zero, Rachel’s been around long enough to see the rusty inner workings of an unwieldy, overly bureaucratic machine—been around long enough to see all kinds of scandals, all kinds of cover-ups. She formulates a plan to save Julian’s position and company, and take down their competitors by dredging up details of an illicit wartime deal, a potential info leak that has the power to sink a celebrated, international arms-giant and deeply embarrass both Naval Command and Naval Intelligence.
Rachel has an asset waiting to be manoeuvred onto the game board, to make her plan a reality: proto-Spartan Brooklyn Fields awakes to a different world than the one she left behind fifteen years ago. She has her directives from the domineering Rachel that she is expected to carry out with her usual unfeeling, machine efficiency, and she quickly tracks down her target to an intimate coastal town situated on a Mediterranean island. Acquiring the mark, an off-the-grid ONI analyst named Seager who possesses evidence of the deal in question, should be a straightforward task for someone like Brooke. She's about to find out that her secluded post-war world is deadlier than any alien invasion. (Crime/drama)
I wanted to write a plot that would make Tony Gilroy (The Bourne Supremacy, Michael Clayton) proud. Back into the groove now, keeping up with Katsuhiro's thrillride Chimera Rogue, I'm enamoured with the world of cold war politics and ruthless intelligence plays. I wanted The Forever Soldier to be really analog in feel, because in a way it's a post-war, 60's story about living in the shadow of a massive and traumatic century-defining event. Part character study, part caper flick. It's going to be a slog, I promise.
Though Hell Should Bar The Way
“Driving right up that hill, Ted. Frontal assault with all my power, everything I own. Could get bloody. Probably will. It’ll be one long messy, bloody hike to the top, but it’s something Shield’s gotta do. Navy spook, LeFae, he’s here for a reason I don’t know. Observing, maybe. Well I pushed for the offensive, Ted. I told Mattis Shield would get the 906th on top of that hill. That promise needs to come true. Opportunities like this you have to seize, Ted. We won’t become the unit we want to be unless we show them what we can do first. You agree with me, don’t you? You agree this is our time—Shield’s time to be great. We’re a good fighting unit on paper, but we have to become more—we have to become legendary. That’s the mission, Ted. The real mission. Running outta time. It’s already ‘51—we don’t have much left to lose, you understand. A war like this, the men and women on the front wherever need to be able to hear about us and stand strong one more day—and one more after that—and believe like nothing else that The Highwayman is coming, though hell should bar the way.”
Newly formed 906th "The Highwayman" Brigade, an Army unit, is tasked with finding a group of Helljumpers, lost somewhere in an unruly river valley. (War/drama)
It's a Vietnam narrative that takes place during what should be considered a "good" war. Those GIs in-country after '68 could ask "What are we fighting for?" but the answer seems a little more clear-cut here when faced with the prospect of human extinction. However, although their backs are to the wall, there is still much more to lose, more than just flesh. (It's also a pretty left-leaning take on Western war mythology and military culture.)
Do not put unauthorized cinnamon on the goddamn meeting table.