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  Click here to go to the first special guest post in this thread.   Thread: Inceptum Terminus: Echoes of the Past Anthology Sample

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    Inceptum Terminus: Echoes of the Past Anthology Sample

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    Rendezvous


    I've been a Marine for the past 20 years. When my country called, I willingly served with pride and distinction. I've fought in Yugoslavia, Mexico, and other warzones that the President of the United States deemed to be enemies of freedom. I've held men in my arms as they died. I've seen a lot of shit that would break a normal man. I've shot men dead and been wounded. I've earned medals for "heroic" actions. In the end, they don't mean a goddamn thing, except as a reminder of the foolishness in following orders blindly.


    The current situation has never been as bleak as it is now. President John Hannah executed as many Congressmen, judges, governors, state representatives, and other elected officials as he could in his seizure of power. What the hell was I thinking when I swore an oath to follow orders from a madman? The men and women in my Marine unit saw the United States government fall from grace to become the very thing our friends died to fight against. The orders being handed down are unlawful, in violation of our oath of enlistment, so it gave us the opportunity to do what we should have done begin... we broke free from the United States government. Our oath is the glue that holds us together as a unit. It enables us to follow the ideals of the Constitution of the United States... not that it matters anymore.


    The shit really hit the fan on December 31, 2002 at 00:00 Greenwich Mean Time...



    Terrorist cells attacked all of the major cities in the United States and unleashed a hell upon the fat, lazy civilian population. Not many of them survived the suitcase nukes, stolen US Army manufactured biological weapons, and chemical weapons that went off. My unit, Third Platoon Bravo Company Second Recon Battalion Second Marine Division, was holed up out in the Everglades at the time. Luckily, we missed most of the hell storm that occurred that night... Private Michelle "Killer" Keller had found a water moccasin inside of the tent she shared with Corporal Jill "Jelly Bean" Hennessey. Nothing like waking up to the sound of M249 SAW going off at 02:30 on full auto.


    Pardon me, I apologize for not properly introducing myself. The older I get, combined with the stress of spending the past three years of constant combat, really wears you down. I'm Gunnery Sergeant Davis Hildebrandt. I'm the glue that holds what is left of Third Platoon together. First Lieutenant Dean was killed in a running firefight with a US Army patrol back in the Florida panhandle almost three years ago. Since that time, we've lost a lot of good men and women. Currently, we're only able to field a squad... an under strength one at that. The rest... are buried... in shallow graves... excuse me... I need a minute...


    We buried our friends in shallow graves in various locations in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana or tried too. They died from all of the firefights from various US military units still loyal to the federal government. We've lost 52 people since we began our fight for the Constitution against these domestic enemies. I marked the locations of their graves on the map I took from Dean's body in the hope that we can go back to get them and give them a proper burial.



    The United States military splintered after the death of President Hannah into two sides. One side follows the last order from the president and the other fights for the Constitution of the United States. The US Army and Air Force split along the lines of roughly 75% adhering to the last orders, 15% following the Constitution, and the rest going rogue to set up little marauder kingdoms. The Navy, our ride, was decimated in the attacks against Pearl, Charleston, and other Naval bases. The rest of the grand fleets have been out of contact with what's left of high command. The Marines split roughly 90% for the Constitution, 6% into following the last order, and the rest as marauding bands. I hate those type of Marines...


    The last order we received was to attack and hold the remaining cities to allow for Hannah's daughter, Megan, to achieve the office of the President. Her first responsibility was to bring order to the chaos of what the terrorists had done. Too bad that President John Hannah never read the Constitution of the United States because his desires are contrary to that precious document. Rumor has it that she was assassinated by an unknown gunman outside of her home in Virginia. Good for the gunman and the people of the United States, I say.


    The orders didn't sit well with us, so Dean and the other officers had Bravo Company assembled to discuss our options. At that meeting, the vast majority present voted to be Marines by adhering to their oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, while bearing true faith to the same. It's fitting since the Marine motto is Semper Fidelis... "Always Faithful". As a unit we upheld the proud tradition of being always faithful to the Constitution. I remember 9 July 2001... President Hannah's response to the hijackings of American airliners was an affront to the Constitution. I pray that in the future, we will be able to prevent what he did from happening again.


    It's 05:00 on 3 August 2003 and I'm standing watch in the command post with PFC Jarvis patrolling the perimeter. Our little camp is set up on 250 square meter island in the middle of some God forsaken north Louisiana swamp. The radio is silent. It's been silent for a few weeks now. Strange on how you remember unimportant details like that. I hope things are going alright for headquarters, but with the chaotic nature of war it's hard to say.



    "Everything okay Gunny," Jarvis asks me.


    "Yeah, I'm fine. I'm just remembering my twenty years in the Corps."


    "Damn, I never knew that you were a lifer," he grinningly says.


    Nodding I reply, "Yeah, being a lifer has its advantages like the retirement pay and lifetime medical benefits."


    Jarvis breaks out into laughter while walking away to continue his patrol. Jarvis has always been one for a quick joke. He once told me that, back on Parris Island when he was in boot camp, he got the nickname of Joker. I'm grateful that he can break the darkness with his mirth. Smiling, I plan to let the squad sleep in because they need the extra rest. The reality for the remnants of my platoon is just basic survival. This hellish new world can take its toll on the morale of my people. In order to alleviate it, I stay off their backs and cut them some slack when it's needed.


    "Anaconda Two Six, Anaconda Two Six, this is Old Dog Actual over," the speaker on the radio breaks the silence.



    "Old Dog Actual, this is Anaconda Two Six over," I say after keying the mic on the handset and putting the ear piece up to my head.


    "Anaconda Two Six, what's your sit rep over?"


    "Old Dog Actual, our current sit rep is we're low on supplies and ammo. No activity in this sector. It appears that the Armee grunts hate the location. No contact with any enemy patrols over the past two weeks. Position had been probed by gators, over," I describe the events of the past two weeks while smiling about the three alligators that decided to try to make a meal out of my squad.


    "Anaconda Two Six, ready to receive new orders, over."


    "Old Dog Actual roger, over," I reply flatly.


    "Anaconda Two Six, due to elements from the 4th Armored Division and the 101st Air Assault Division attacking, we're pulling out to Little Rock to link up with Gateway Consolidated Aerospace forces. You are to move your unit up to Little Rock and fold your unit into the nearest Gee-Cee-A security detachment. If possible meet them at 12th Marine Reserve Artillery Armory on North 35th Street. Protocol is Gee-Cee-A popping smoke from the armory and you call it in. Gee-Cee-A is monitoring frequency UHF 125 MHz using call sign Black Angel, over,"


    "Roger Old Dog Actual, see you at the rendezvous, out."


    The radio goes silent as Jarvis saunters up to my tent that serves as the command post. The sun is starting to break through the fog that blankets the swamp. The thick, ancient cypress trees and moss cover everything not in the water. The water of the swamp is black and undrinkable. It's a good thing that we're being ordered to move out since our supplies for fresh water are running low. I wait to speak to Jarvis while I run through the mental checklist for prepping a move.


    "Anything out there Joker?"


    "Nope. Just a bunch of mosquitoes, snakes, gators, and other wildlife," Joker reports.


    "Good, wake up the squad and get them moving," I tell him while thinking about the grumbling from my squad at being denied their extra sleep. I can see why they'd ***** and moan about it, but we have to get a move on. I don't want them to miss the opportunity for some rest after the long march from northern Louisiana to Little Rock, Arkansas. It's a good 150 miles over unforgiving and dangerous terrain without any support from headquarters.



    Joker walks up to the six other tents surrounding mine and quietly wakes up everyone. I see bodies moving slowly from the pain of sleeping on the ground and age, fast catching up to them. I hear Killer *****ing as usual about being woken up, but like a good Marine she pulls her gear on. They really need to get some R&R soon. They're at the breaking point after the past two years of constant combat, patrols, and the mind numbing boredom of waiting for something to happen.


    "Form up on me," I tell my Marines as I go by their tents.


    "Why the **** do I need to form on you Gunny," Killer asks when I stopped by her and Hennessey's tent.


    "Because I said so and if that isn't good enough for you then it's my M4 pointed at your thick ****ing skull," I retort, thinking at how close she is to the edge. Killer knows that if she doesn't follow orders I will kick her ass to make her comply, and she respects that. I think I'll switch her off of the SAW with Corporal Johnson's M4 since she needs a break from the machinegun. Sam won't mind the switch up. She knows, as well as I do, that Killer needs a break the most.


    I can feel eleven pairs of eyes on my back as they follow me to my tent. Joker is still walking patrol since he wasn't waiting at my tent. He probably overheard my conversation with headquarters, so knows what is coming.


    I look at the assembled faces of the men and women kneeling with me, "We've got new orders. I think that you'll like these orders since it will give us a chance to get some hot chow, showers, and a clean rack for awhile.


    I have their attention now, "Old Dog Actual wants us to move, with the rest of division, to Little Rock to merge with the Gee-Cee-A forces there. It'll be a tough hump, but I know that you all can do it. I have the toughest, meanest, orneriest sons-of-*****es in the entire Corps. We need to break camp quickly and move as soon as possible. I want to try to be out of the swamps by nightfall.
    "Old Dog informed me that the 4th Armored and 101st Air Assault Divisions have been hammering at our division recently. She arranged for the entire division to merge with the Gee-Cee-A security forces. This will help us in our fight against the Armee and Air Farce loyal to Uncle Sam. Pack as much as you can and leave the rest. If you have to leave something behind, booby trap it for some moron to find."


    "Aye-aye Gunny," everyone around me says in soft firm unison.


    They head back to their tents to make our small camp a hive of preparing to move out. Words are rarely spoken since each one knows their job. I work on packing up my own gear while talking to Sam. Sam is an old dog like me, but joined the Corps right after the terrorist hijackings out of patriotic duty.


    "I need you to switch weapons with Killer," I say.


    "Alright, any reason why Gunny?"


    "She's on the edge of losing it and we can't afford that."


    "I'll go easy on her then," Sam replies with concern in her voice.


    "Sam, I'm going to split up the squad into fire teams, so you'll have to command Bravo. I want us to move in a parallel line with each of the fire teams."


    "Sounds good," she answers and heads over to Killer's tent.


    Within twenty minutes the entire camp has been packed into our rucks. Being light infantry is a blessing and a curse sometimes. The blessing is that it doesn't take us long to break camp and remain relatively undetected. The curse is that we have to walk everywhere with everything we own in a rucksack. I look at each one of the people in my squad and nod. The squad breaks into two fire teams with PFC Miller, walking point, leading us into the dirty water of the swamp.



    Overhead, two F-16's scream... four grey-blue tanks drop from the planes' undercarriage and plummet to the earth. I look up as I noticed the sounds of the jet engines in my ears, catching sight of the four tanks hurtling to the ground.



    "Drop into the water," I scream at the top of my lungs from pure reflex before I submerge myself.


    The entire squad submerges themselves as the tanks hit the ground to explode in a rapidly expanding line of fire that eats everything in its path. The oxygen is sucked from the surrounding air as the wave of heat pushes outward from the line. The water is too murky to see anything but the fire up on top, burning everything. My Marines swim out from under the lines of fire from the napalm canisters and break the surface.


    "I really ****ing hate jet jockeys," Joker mutters.


    Miller turns to look at Jarvis, "Yeah, well I hate napalm more."


    "Not as much as I hate you," Hennessey jumps in.


    "Shut the **** up and lay off Hennessey. I hear that shit from your pie hole again, I'll knock your block off," Sam firmly says before I could. Good woman, I think to myself.


    Hennessey glares at Miller with a stare that is hotter than the napalm around us. I feel for the man, so I walk between them and tap him on the shoulder.



    "Stop playing grab ass, Hennessey, and move your slow ass out," I order.


    She turns away from me as the squad begins to walk north quietly. Time passes as do the klicks under our boots. The swamp is hot and humid, filled with insects and wildlife. Whippoorwills sing while bullfrogs croak. We made good time while avoiding two Armee patrols using john boats. Stupid grunts were afraid of getting wet... and the gators. We waited patiently, amidst the heavy vegetation, for them to pass.



    By the time darkness falls, we see a small town on the edge of the swamp. The town looks deserted, with a heavy smell of death in the air. Something terrible has happened here. I force the thoughts of what possibly could have happened to the more immediate problems of bedding down for the night. We walk out of the swamp, cautiously, to stand on what must have been Main Street. The buildings are in a severe state of disrepair with roofs collapsing, paint faded and peeling, and the wooden walls rotting. Several burned out M1 Abrams and M2 Bradley IFVs sit on one end of the street. Parked, wrecked cars lined the street are filled with bullet holes. A heavy firefight took place here, but the brass rusted a long time ago. All that's left of the dead is skeletal remains, picked clean a long time ago.


    Confident, I motion with my hands for my fire team to advance towards the gas station in front of us. We move up in pairs, leapfrogging our way, over to the building. Bravo fire team followed suit, but head to what looks like a hardware store. All of the windows have been blown out with the glass lining the road and sidewalks. Silence fills the air... something is wrong here. I motion with my hands for both fire teams to be ready for anything. Quietly, my fire team enters the remains of the gas station. The shelves have been picked clean. Damn, I bet the other stores are just like this. At the rear of the building, the door has been blown off its hinges. The rotted remains dangle sadly.


    Crouching, Miller takes a step out into the alley behind the station. A click of him stepping on a mine shattered the silence. He freezes in place while scanning the area with his M4. He doesn't even break a sweat while standing on that mine. Miller turns in place to face back into the building. The rest of my fire team moves back to the front of the station to avoid the shrapnel from the upcoming explosion. Miller's right hand drops from the foregrip on the M4 to motion to me that he is going to run for it. The pucker factor for standing on a mine is unbelievably high. I can just imagine his stomach and intestines doing somersaults. Silently, I prayed that the mine is a dud as his foot lifts off of the ground. Another click from the mine's trigger breaks the stillness of the moment. Miller falls to the concrete floor, unharmed. The mine's firing mechanism must have succumbed to the humid conditions of the swamp.


    I smile at Miller, "You're one lucky bastard Miller ya know that?"


    "Yeah, I am Gunny."


    My fire team exits the front of the building, just as the mine finally explodes. This still makes him one lucky bastard. At least, it didn't go off right away. Both fire teams tense up, ready for anything, since the explosion gave away our position. The next few minutes, in a situation like this, always seem the longest because there's no way to tell how any hostile forces will react to the disturbance. I motion for my team to hold, then carefully make my way over to Sam and her team. I run while crouching between cover to minimize my exposure. God... it's times like this that I miss my headset radio.



    "How are things over here," I ask Sam as I come up beside her next to a parked car.


    Without turning, she replies, "Quiet, except my guys keep seeing movement in the upper stories in some of the buildings. What happened over at the gas station?"


    "Miller was exiting through the rear door when he stepped on a landmine. He managed to dive back inside the building before it went off. We thought it was a dud at first...


    I fill the ensuing silence, "I'll let my team know about the movement. I'm beginning to think that entering the town was a very bad idea. What do you suggest?"


    "Well, it's the only real cover we have right now. I suggest heading to the police station to hole up there. At least it will be made out of stone, providing some decent defense against possible attack," Sam recommends, pointing to a granite building to the right end of the street at a T intersection.


    "Sounds good, I'll move up the street on the left while you move along the right, by the swamp. This way if we get engaged by hostiles you can break contact and continue with the mission," I reply.


    I catch my breath. With her slight nod I bolt from behind the car to head back to Miller and the rest of Alpha fire team. I catch a glimpse of something humanoid moving in the upper floor of the hardware store then see a rifle muzzle sticking out from a second story window. I go upright to gain more speed and to zigzag to present a tougher target to hit. I hear a single gunshot ring out as I finally slide into the front door of the gas station. Behind me, a man wearing ragtag, torn clothing falls from the second story window of the hardware store. I hustle out of the doorway to lean back up against the doorframe, using the wall as cover. I see Lance Corporal James Smith smiling with his Remington sniper rifle poking out from inside one of the parked cars. I flash him and Bravo team a thumbs up to let them know I made it safely.


    "Well it looks like we're not alone after all. I want everyone to keep their eyes peeled while we move up to the street to the police station. Miller, make sure we avoid any mines and traps as we move. You're also on point. Joker, I want you and Flannigan to set up a base of fire here to cover our movement. We'll need your sniper rifle and Flannigan's SAW here. We'll be heading up the street on the left while Bravo team moves up along the edge of the swamp."


    My team nods, knowing that my plan is a sound one. I hear them check their weapons to make sure safeties are off and mutter prayers. MOUT really sucks balls because the enemy can be anywhere with the streets and obstacles funneling people into enemy fire lanes. The advantage belongs to the locals, so we're going to play it safe. I pray that they aren't using the police station as a base of operations. If they are then it will get really bloody for us, so we'll have to break contact and melt back into the swamp.



    We learned long ago that the locals view anyone with camo fatigues as a threat. It's perfectly understandable since many military units went rogue. There's no possible way to negotiate with them. We learned that lesson two years ago at Palmyra, Mississippi when we lost six people in repeat ambushes. They were only wounded in the ambushes, but were killed when we attempted to negotiate for their treatment and release. Shaking the memory off, I motion for my team to begin hustling up the street to our target 150 meters away. One hundred fifty meters may not sound like very far, but when you have to dive in and out of cover while watching for incoming fire... it might as well be on the moon.


    I tap Miller on the shoulder to start. He carefully steps out of the doorway, scanning with his rifle, and moves up slowly. One thing about Miller is that he's so very methodical. Which is the reason why he's the best point man I've ever seen in my career. He moves in and out of cover like a rabbit running between its holes. Once Miller reaches five meters out, Samson moves out. Next out the door is Hennessey, then it's my turn. Since choosing an alternate route can be lethal, and has been in the past, we follow Miller. Even he cannot check all possible firing positions. It's a comforting thought knowing that there's a machine gunner and a sniper covering your progress. I can imagine Bravo team is doing the same thing by the swamp.


    Our progress is slow because Miller is taking his time. I don't mind since it will minimize any possible casualties that may happen if we engage fire. I sweep my sector with my M4 while using the ACOG sight. I scan to my right looking for Sam and Bravo team. I can't find them, so Sam and her team are doing a damn good job of using the swamp and its vegetation to hide their movements. Good, we'll need to use them as our ace in the hole. After what seems like eternity, we finally reach the T intersection. My fire team moves into cover behind some more parked cars, riddled by bullet holes, opposite of the building. More of the rusted and shot up wrecks are on the road. That will provide us with cover to cross the street when the time comes. I motion for my team to stop and set up a small perimeter.


    I pull out a pair of binoculars from its case, attached to my web gear. I thoroughly check the police station for any signs of life and weapon emplacements. On the second floor I see several heavy machineguns behind sandbags in the windows. On the ground floor, the windows are all boarded up with what looks to be steel sheets. On the sidewalk, leading from the road to the front of the building, we see skulls and skeletons hanging from stakes lining the path. A four foot tall concrete wall, topped with razor wire, surrounds the building that sits about four meters from the building itself. This isn't a good sign for us. I look to the swamp where Bravo team is hiding and signal my findings. Sam motions back to me that we should exfiltrate back into the swamp and avoid the combat. I motion for my team to provide cover for Joker and Flannigan. Joker and Flannigan run flat out from the gas station's doorway to our position. Nothing else moves as they finally reach us.



    "Joker, I want you to cover us as we move out. Flannigan set up a base of fire here to cover those MG emplacements," I order quietly. "Miller, can you see any breaks in the wall surrounding the station?"


    Miller shakes his head in reply.



    I decide to pull my team back when Joker leans in close to me, whispering, "Gunny, I can see some people held in cages on the second story. They look like they're still alive."


    "****," Hennessey mutters.


    "So much for leaving," Samson sighs.


    Its decided. We need to rescue the hostages, so I signal to Sam my intention. I tell her to move Bravo to the right flank while Alpha moves up the front of the structure. She signs back that she understands. I tap Miller on the shoulder and he moves stealthily out into the street in a crouch. Within a few moments he reaches the first car on the roadway. I see him motion for the team to stop and he runs back as fast as he can. He slides back into cover beside me.


    "No good Gunny," Miller reports. "They've got the road heavily mined, the wrecks are rigged with explosives, and it looks like they've got everything zeroed for mortars."


    Shaking my head, I realize that we have to leave the people to die. My heart drops, but the lives of my men and women override it. I motion to Sam to pull back into the swamp and disengage. She'll meet us north of the town, she replies.



    "Alright people, let's get the hell outta Dodge," I say quietly. "Miller take us north through the town since we're too far from the swamp. We'll link up with Bravo once we're clear."


    My team acknowledges the change and we begin to move north using the parked cars as cover. After twenty minutes, Alpha team reaches the edge of the town and heads into the forest that meets it. Ahead of us, I can see a modest clearing that is roughly 10 meters in diameter. Stumps and fallen trees litter the ground, along with large rocks. We take cover at the edge of the clearing to wait for Bravo team. We wait another fifteen minutes before we step out of the protection of the woods. As we move silently, I can see Bravo team to my right doing the same. Both teams form up and make a perimeter to provide lines of fire in the center. Sam and I slump against a large tree that has been broken at its base.


    "So much for sleeping in an actual bed," Sam quips.


    "The ground is an actual bed, too," I retort.


    We both break into quiet laughter as we look up at the sky to enjoy its beauty. In moments like this, I almost forget the hellish world weve been forced into. I wish that the events of the past four years hadn't happened. We could have avoided all of the pain and suffering. I curse the stupid politicians and their mad grabs for power. I pull myself out of my reverie to look around the small camp my squad has made. Everything looks good with them busy digging foxholes or reinforcing existing cover in a circle around Sam and I. Their spacing is perfect to prevent any chance of hostile forces of being able to move through our line of defense.


    "We've got a long way left to go don't we," Sam asks me while staring into my eyes.


    "Yeah, we've got another 130 miles, but we should be able to make it without too much trouble."


    Nodding Sam replies, "True, but let's just hope that we avoid anymore hostiles. I want to get a hot shower and chow in my belly before I die."


    I laughingly reply, "Me too... it's one thing I'm really looking forward to. I've had enough death and destruction for a long while."


    Suddenly, I realize that Killer isn't the only one suffering from burn out and being on the edge of losing their sanity. We're all as close as she is. Theyd agree its ironic that big, tough gunny is close to the breaking point. I'm the one they all look up to and encourage them, when I can. There's no one for me to turn to for encouragement since I'm the highest ranking person for God knows how many miles around.



    Shaking off the morbid thoughts, I look at Sam to whisper, "Sam, check the perimeter and have them switch off every four hours to rest. Did you want me to take first watch?"


    "Naw Gunny, I got first watch. Get some sleep. You really need it."


    "Alright, I'll see you in four hours," I reply smiling.


    The last thing I remember is falling asleep beside the moss covered tree trunk...

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    Last edited by Richard Littles; 09-01-2010 at 05:56 PM.

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    That was totally Awesome! If I didn't know better, I would have thought that you were talking about the Second Marine Division Band. We had people that would fit all of those roles from back when I was in the Corps. I will allow you, if you want, to eventually have Cpl Mac make an appearance in your writings. Although, it would be more accurate for that to happen when Gunny and his squad finally get to rendevous with headquarters. Will this short story be part of the IT movie? I would really be interested in reading the entire IT series (even if it were to eventually be spread over many books) as well as getting hold of a dvd copy of the movie after it comes out in the future. Nice job on the Marine accuracy of knowledge. To include that they are using the old rucksack instead of alice packs or something newer. The Marines always tended to have to use older equipment quite a lot when I was in. We were like kids at Christmas time when we would actually get ahold of the newest piece of equipment out there.

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    I'm glad that you really enjoyed the story. The story won't be part of the movie, but who knows about the future. I'm very glad that the story passed the accuracy test.

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