Disclaimer: Names, characters, places or incidents featured in this story belong either to Glen Morgan & James Wong (and 20th Century FOX) or they are a product of the author's (that's me) imagination. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. The jokes and the comments in this fan fic does not necessary represent the author's personal opinion.

Author's note: The members of the 7th Force Recon belong to me. Names, characters, places or incidents featured in this story belongs either to Glen Morgan & James Wong (and 20th Century FOX) or they are a product of the author's (that's me) imagination. Any resemblance to actual people (living or dead) is entirely coincidental. The views in this story does not necessary reflect on my own thoughts and/or opinions.

The Mini Inter Solar System Personnel Carrier is part my idea and part Roy Thomas (author of Space: Above and Beyond comic book 'Running the Gauntlet') I have not asked for permission to use the idea of a smaller ISSCV model. However, I have modified it a bit. Feel free to use it.

Many hugs and thanks to Vince, my favourite demonic assassin of typos. His beta reading and ideas saved my ass a numerous of times when I was swearing over being stuck. My deepest thanks goes also to SSgt. Michael Hanson who again has shed light on this story with his Marine words of wisdom. And, again and as always, to Billy and the rest of the people who give their lives so that we can sleep safely in our beds.

The 7th Force Recon
Book III:
Natio Fides (People without fear)


Anne Schjerven

"Today, the world looks to America for leadership. And America looks to its Corps of Marines."
    President Ronald Reagan

"I thought I smelled something," a voice said in a high squeaky tone.

The five Marines of the Seventh Force Recon turned their head from the foosball game. Their eyes locked with the eyes of one Marine standing there with her arms crossed over her chest. Hammer ignored her, returning her attention to the game.

Lieutenant Cassie Billings chuckled. "What happened? Did you forget to shower after being in the rear with the gear? Did you piss your pants?" she asked, moving closer to Robbie.

Gunny's hands tightened around the table, but his eyes met Hammer's. What he saw almost scared him. He kept her eyes locked, sending her a silent warning to not do anything.

"Like you zoomies are any better," she suddenly said, turning and placing her hands on her hip in a challenge to the other woman.

Billings' smile faded and she was now just inches away from Hammer. Their eyes were locked. Cold blue versus deep brown. "You are scum. You didn't have what it took to become a pilot. I don't see what all the fuzz about you is" she hissed to Robbie.

Robbie stared at the woman's silver bars. That was the only thing keeping her from pounding some respect into the lieutenant. "Funny. I was going to say the same to you" she lifted her eyes up.

"Fuck you, bitch" Billings said loud enough for the whole Tun to hear. From a distance, the rest of the 5-8 was watching. The 7th stepped away from the table to stand beside Robbie. Billings felt intimidated by them. "Are you challenging me? I'll just drop these bars for a sec cause that is all I need," she said, her hands moving to her silver bars. They dropped on the floor. Billings raised her fist and send it in contact with Hammer's jaw.

The Marines of the 58th Squadron got up as the fight started. Hammer had knocked Billings out cold with a curse. For a moment, the Tavern was all quiet until the 58th attacked.

Men and women yelling, screaming and hitting. Gunny giving a man who was about two feet taller than him a punch in the gut only to find himself five meters away on the floor. Hammer kicked a man in the jaw before slapping another one. She lost count on how many times someone slammed into her.

"I cannot believe you got into a brawl with officers, Gunnery Sergeant Azaria!" the Commodore said, his voice harsh as he looked at the young man. This was the first time in a while that Ross had chewed out a Marine but he had not forgotten old tricks.

Gunny was standing in attention, his eye a bit swollen and his lip bleeding. His clothes were ruffled and it looked like someone had dragged him through a bush. "Sir. The Gunnery Sergeant apologizes for his and his men's behaviour and reassures the Commodore that this will never happen again" he said, his voice strong.

Ross looked at him and then at the CO of the 58th Squadron. Captain Nathan West looked similar beaten and was standing in attention beside the Gunnery Sergeant. As a former Navy SEAL, Ross was a very respected man. Every Jarhead, Squid, Groundpounder and flyboy knew his reputation. They snapped their spines to rigidity when ever in his present; most of them that ended up in his office, also those brought in for commendation, actually trembled. Ross loved the respect and the rigid spines. He did not like the trembling. Neither Victor Azaria nor Nathan West were trembling. But they were damn well standing in attention. "I sure hope this will never happen again, Gunnery sergeant," he said after a while. "I just can't understand how two Marine units can get into a brawl"

West and Gunny looked at each other for a moment. West cleaned his throat. "Sir. It was partly the 58th's fault, sir. Apparently two of the Marines had met before and some words were exchanged, sir" he looked at the Commodore.

"And what could those 'words' be, Captain West?" Ross dreaded to ask but McQueen's kids rarely got themselves into messes like this. From Azaria's team he had expected nothing less. His Marines had the reputation for being a bit hot tempered.

"Sir...the Captain cannot recollect-"

He is covering up for Billing, Gunny thought. Not that I can blame him. "Sir, it was just a Marine brawl. They were blowing off some steam," Gunny said, his voice getting that artificial sound he got when burying his emotions.

Ross looked at them for a moment, not sure what to say. The Wild Cards usually held themselves out of fights -but there was almost no one of the original Wild Cards left. Of course, Ross had tried to patch things up. He promoted and gave West the responsibility for the 58th as their CO -knowing that the young man could handle it. Hawkes had unofficially taken the role as XO. Vansen was back home on leave. She would not come back in this war. For the last four months, the members of the 58th had been working together and everything was almost the same on the Saratoga.

His eyes wandered to Azaria. The Gunnery Sergeant was a good Marine and his team was one of the best he had onboard. It would be a shame to let a good team go to waste over some steam blowing...The Lord knew they all needed it from time to time. "Are any of you going to bring up charges?" he asked, knowing that they both could. Striking a superior officer was against the Uniform Code of Military Justice and striking an enlisted was just as bad. Hell, Ross was pretty tempted to file charges himself.

"Sir, no sir!" both Marines said in unison.

"Then dismissed, gentlemen" Ross waited until they left before sitting back and taking his guitar.

Nine sour, beaten and angry Marines met Gunny and West. Gunny looked over the 7th. Except from a few bruises and black eyes they basically looked the same. Hammer looked worse because she had gotten the Tank on her. Gunny looked at the 58th. First, they were one more than they had been. Second, the In Vitro looked like he could punch a hole in the bulkhead if he wanted to. He looked over at the CO of the Wild Cards. For a moment, Gunny and West looked at each other in a silent challenge before both groups headed their different ways.

Cummings rubbed his sore jaw as they headed to their quarters. "That Captain sure knew how to hit" he said, referring to Captain West. "And he looks so...weak. But there was nothing weak with that hook" he said and eyed the others.

Hammer smiled and touched her swollen lip. She grimaced. "Well, at least you didn't get an angry In Vitro on the hand" she marked as they entered their quarters. She started to strip, looking forward to a warm shower to get away the blood and sweat.

Wakefield was already heading to the showers. "Seemed to me like you enjoyed it!" he yelled over the water.

The rest of the 7th finished stripping and entered the unisex showers. The idea to let both men and women use the same showers at the same time was most likely put through the senate by horny soldiers. Yet when in the showers most people were too sore, too tired and too sad to even consider the word sex.

Hammer closed her eyes as she felt the hot water loosen up her muscles. "I must admit it had its own sick little pleasure but I did not enjoy his punches" she confessed and grabbed the Marine issued soap/shampoo.

"Well, these things happens. We are just lucky that Gunny managed to keep the Commodore off our butts" Stratfurt said, his voice serious. Stratfurt was a good second-in-command. He knew what to say and when to say it in front of the rest of the 7th.

After they had showered, the 7th gathered in their quarters. Cumming looked up from his magazine. "We nailed those flyboys" he marked and put away the magazine. "We really did"

Gunny couldn't do anything but smile. Wakefield chuckled softly. "Yeah. But still, it was a bad idea. I told you so. Hell, I even warned Robbie before we entered the Tun that she shouldn't get all John Wayne while we were in there " he pointed out as he stood up.

Hammer just grimaced. She had gotten her revenge on Billings now and it had never felt this good before. She had never actually hated a person before but this was as close as she got. For all she cared, 2nd Lieutenant Cassie Billings could rot in hell.

"Okay. This one is on the ground, mostly" the Intelligence Officer said sharply, standing between the 7th Force Recon and the holographic image of the Phobos system. There was a fine line with different sized asteroids on the map. It seemed almost impossible that anything could pass. "We need a recon report of the asteroid belt between the star Achilles and the planet Hector" he continued. Colonel Jeff Sims was a short man in his early forties with black hair and a small moustache that looked strangely out of bounds on his fleshy face.

Gunny studied the map, marking the biggest asteroids. The colonel continued. "Your mission is to gather data from those asteroids. Document all Chig activity and take samples from the asteroids"

"Sir, why take samples from the asteroids, sir?" Stratfurt asked, his pen resting in his left hand.

"As you know we are looking for a new way to get Helium Three Ore to our ships. There are a chance that the asteroid belt is made out of the same metals that we have on our asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter" Colonel Sims explained. "You will be issued one Mini Inter Solar System Personnel Carrier. However, the small craft is experimental. You will need a good pilot"

Gunny looked over at Cummings, remembering his résumé. Craig would fly that I.S.S.P.C without a problem. He looked at the Colonel again, who seemed a bit anxious. "Good luck, people. God's speed"

Personal diary for Gunnery Sergeant V. Azaria. Mission #21, entry one

Giving us an experimental craft without weapons is like calling the Japanese during WWII and tell them that Doolittle was gonna bomb. We need weapons! Without weapons, we are sitting ducks on the asteroids. I guess we just have to put out faith in Cummings and his skills. The craft is very crampy...only room for top five Marines. We are starting to drive each other insane. I know that I should be used to missions like this by now but there is a difference between willingly putting yourself in danger and being put in unnecessary danger. I have a bad feeling about this mission... End recording.

Stratfurt looked at the newest photo from home. His two children, Erin and Thomas, were standing by a river playing. Two dark haired, healthy children with big smiles. He smiled and rolled on his back. God, he could not believe that they were almost four years old. And he hadn't seen them since the Saratoga returned to Earth for over a year ago. He had already been home when Chartwell was assassinated. He looked at the photo again and then at the letter from his wife. He send her recorded messages so that she could play them for their kids and that way they wouldn't forget his voice.

In the other end of the small craft, Cummings was busy piloting. God, he loved this. There was something special with flying a spacecraft. Yet he would never trade it with the feeling of a well done job after a recon mission.

"See anything on the LIDAR?" Gunny asked, breaking the silence once again.

Hammer scratched her head and looked at him with her deep blue eyes. "Nope. The LIDAR shows no Chig activity. No sign of the enemy. It's quiet, dead, and silent. Like Silence of the Lambs" she added with a grin.

"Doesn't mean Hannibal isn't watching us" Stratfurt said and put away the letter.

"You know about the movie?" Robbie asked a bit surprised.

Stratfurt just smiled. "My dad used to watch the old movie channel a lot. Silence of the Lambs was his favourite" he explained.

Gunny looked at them from his rack. He was actually the one who should be sleeping now but he found that an impossible task. He did not know why, really. He just felt too damn jumpy. It wasn't claustrophobic. God knew he had gotten that under control during his first week onboard the USS Seahawk during the AI Rebellion. No, it was something else, another fear. The fear of knowing that you have no business out there and someone's gonna get killed if it continues.

Everyone had that at some point. For Gunny that point had come as soon as he was briefed about the mission. It felt like the Brass was putting them in unnecessary danger again. He hated that feeling more than anything else. The thought that one of these happy, cocky, unstuck teens might get their brains blown all over the walls was not a very nice thought. He closed his eyes bitterly, suppressing the images of former buddies that had died in the line of duty.

The M.I.S.S.P.C was quiet again. Only the muffed sounds of Patrick and Robbie talking and the soft whistling that Craig made while flying.

"Touchdown!" Cummings cried as he landed the M.I.S.S.P.C on one of the largest asteroids in the sector.

The landing send a shock up Gunny's back and he winced. It reminded him of when he and his team had gotten extraction from Cape Town during the Rebellion and the pilot of the craft landed on the storm cast carrier USS Seahawk. Only the pilot apparently suffered from night blindness and two of his Marines go killed in the crash. He looked around, seeing the sour faces of the rest of his present Unit. They were all alive at least.

"Damn your landings to hell, Craig!" Robbie yelled to Cumming. "Next time, I'LL fly this double-damned thing!"

Cummings walked to stand in the middle of them, a huge grin on his face. "I thought it was a good landing. Like an angel coming down from heaven" he said and went to get his helmet.

Robbie wasn't trough with bitching. "More like someone throwing an angel out!" she stood up and took her helmet. "You better wipe that grin of your face, Craig Cummings, or I will use your ugly face to polish my boots!"

"Hold your horses, Hammer" Cummings passed her helmet. "Any landing you can walk from is a good landing, right? And you are walking, right? So what are you complaining about? Nothing!" he gave her a smug smile and winked to her.

Blowing off steam, that was what the kids were doing. Gunny had no doubt in his mind about that fact. "Let's drop the chatter and start working, Marines" he said and grabbed his M590. "Remember to adjust your weight to the asteroid. Stratfurt, you stay here" he ordered and went to the air lock.

Seven mikes later, four Marines were standing on the white dust on the asteroid. Wakefield knelt down and took a handful of the dust and let it slip through his gloved fingers. The stars looked so strong and so close from here. It was like you could reach up and take one down from the sky. Ben stood up with a grin on his face. "It looks amazing. I wish I had a camera" he marked and turned to face the person beside him. According to the helmet it was Cummings.

"Yes...it does look rather enchanting" Craig said and swung his M590 over his shoulder.

"Let's secure the area" Hammer bumped into both of the guys and started walking past them.

Wakefield grinned at her. "It's 05:53. The Chigs are having their morning coffee" he countered.

Usually, Wakefield had enough brains to know what not to piss Robbie off. But after a two-day flight in a can with her, he really didn't care. Gunny saw that look flash over Hammer's face and he placed a gloved hand on her shoulder. "Relax" he said, searching for her eyes through the visor. He let her go and turned, feeling his heart beating a bit faster. Stress? Oh, just let it be. "Let's secure our position. Wakefield and Cummings, you get the 'scope. I want you to scan the sky for any Enemy activity"

"Aye, Gunny"

He grinned and looked over at Hammer. He really needed to talk with her. They moved away from the others, their weapons ready. "Mind if I ask what's on your mind? You usually don't let Lieutenant Billings bother you," he asked after a few minutes of silence.

He saw Robbie stop. "Same old demons" she muttered after a while. They were on one-on-one range and no one else could hear them. "She hit a spot and I just...snapped. Besides, she is the stupid bitch"

Gunny looked at her. He had read her file on her own request. Apparently her mother had gone to prison after killing her husband and Robbie had spend her life pending between uncles and aunts in the US and Russia. He saw a lot of himself in Hammer, actually. Except his demon was jealousy. "But you have it under control?" he asked. He wasn't sure if he was reading the signs right but he had noticed that Robbie had become somewhat more hot-tempered than usual. And her fire seemed to be going out.

"I think so. It's just...have you ever felt like you are someone totally different than what the others want you to be? Or think you are? I hate that feeling" she confessed, her voice low and very thoughtful. She hadn't planned to share this information with the Gunny but somehow she felt that he would understand.

Victor did understand damn well. He had lived with that feeling ever his whole life. This conversation made him feel a slight nausea forming in his gut and he wanted it to end. Funny...he had wanted to talk with her and now he just wanted away. "Maybe we should check with the others," he quickly said.

Robbie swallowed. Yeah...but she didn't want this moment to end. "Sure" she said, as if it would make everything okay. There was something about Gunny. Not the fact that he looked damn good in a uniform -even for a Marine. But the fact that there was something deep in his eyes that she could see at moments. Almost like a small flame deep in those dark eyes. It made her wonder about him. It made her think...it made her remember.

They returned to the LZ, finding Wakefield sitting outside with his weapon while Cummings was scanning the sky. "Nothing" Craig said, rolling on his side to look at the rest. "I have been to art museums more exiting than that sky. Not as much as a comet. Only Achilles in one end and Hector in the other. It's like seeing Mars, man!" his voice got an octavo higher as he talked. Shit, he didn't like this. Things always got nasty when it was quiet.

"And we all know what a bitch Mars can be" Wakefield added with a grin over his youthful face. "Yep. Mars is a bitch, alright" he repeated.

Robbie's jaw tightened but she didn't say anything. "So our position is secured. Let's take the samples," she said instead, kneeling down and taking out her ka-bar. Wakefield handed her a small bag to put the dust in. She filled it and closed it, stuffing it in her suit. "Let's hit the sack," Gunny said with a smile. "We leave this afternoon"

Personal diary for Gunnery Sergeant V. Azaria. Mission #21, entry two

I am starting to get worried about Hammer. Something is bugging her. But I doubt it is her past. Maybe it is PMS or something...I don't know. But I just hope she can handle it. Maybe it is stress? We are all stressed out here. What we need is some serious R&R. I find myself wondering why the brass put us here. A recon job isn't really needed in this sector since we are not going to use it. It feels like...someone high up is trying to get us away. Maybe I am just being paranoid? Maybe Wakefield finally got to me. In any case, it isn't the best feeling.

End recording.

"This is Erin and this is Tommy" there was no doubt that Stratfurt was proud of his kids. His voice and his face said it all.

Craig looked at the photo with a smile. "Gosh, they are cute. Except from the hair they look like Megan" he marked.

"And thank God for that. Poor kids if they came out looking like their old man" Patrick chuckled and looked over at the photo of his wife. "I miss her and them" he whispered.

Cummings nodded. "Of course. You haven't seen them in a while" he looked at the photo again. "This war makes me wish I had proposed to my girlfriend" he confessed, looking at his older friend.

Stratfurt's brows hiked up. "You have a girlfriend?" he asked, his voice mock surprised.

Cummings didn't even bother to reply to that stupid joke. He and Patrick were to very different people. Craig was born and raised in Boston, from a fine family and he had been to Oxford. Patrick worked as a clerk since he finished High School in the Mayors office in Newark. Their humour was quite different. Their background was also very different. Their present situation wasn't.

A beep came on the LIDAR and Stratfurt looked at it. There was another one and another one. "CHIGS!" he suddenly yelled.

If that didn't wake up the other, nothing would. Within seconds, five Marines were gathered around the LIDAR, staring at the red spots on the screen and hearing the beeps. "Send out a distress call. Get your gear on. We have a better chance outside!" Gunny quickly ordered. The other moved, not saying a word.

Robbie took her gear and sat down by the Radio. "C'mon.." she muttered as she turned it on. "USS Saratoga, this is the 7th Force Recon. Encountering Enemy activity, please advise"

"7th Force Recon, this is the USS Sara-"

"What happened?" Gunny asked, looking at Hammer.

She turned to face him and the rest. "They cut out communication"

"Try channel four" Gunny ordered, his eyes locked with hers. When she hesitated he cried out. "Just do it!"

Robbie did as she was told while taking on her rebreather pack and her helmet. Static and...clicks. Clicks and beeps. "AIs" she said, her voice nothing more than a whisper.

Gunny's jaw tightened and he moved to the supplies. "Get out of here. Cover each others sixes" he ordered, his voice hard and solid. His hands went to the C670s and he took a bunch of them and put them on different parts of the M.I.S.S.P.C.

Wakefield and Stratfurt went out first, firing at the Silicates. Cummings followed as soon as they reached cover. Robbie waited for Gunny who soon finished up his work. "Let's go," he said and they ran out, firing at the advancing enemy.

Unfortunately, no one saw the five AIs standing just behind the rest of the Seventh. "Bad move, soldiers" a voice said. "Drop the guns"

Gunny and Hammer stopped before putting their M590s down. A Felicity Model was apparently in charge. She looked at them with her crosshaired eyes and smiled. "Good Marines" she said. "Now walk"

The 7th obeyed in silence. Robbie tried to get a look at the others but all she saw was Cummings' backside. She wet her lips, wondering and dreading what would come next. She knew the stories. She knew what the AIs did to their prisoners. Especially Marines for one reason. Maybe because of the sense of duty and honour that Marines have or maybe because it was the Marines who had control over the sector.

Gotta give 'em credit, Gunny thought as he saw the caved out area, which he assumed the Chigs had made. They know how to make a hideout.

There were about ten Chig Fighters there, heavily guarded by Chig soldiers. They didn't look surprised to see the Marines. If anyone knew how a surprised Chig looked like, that was. Felicity stopped, turned around and eyed the Marines. "Him" she said, pointing at Stratfurt. Patrick frowned slightly and looked at the others. Another AI pushed him forward until he was standing face to face with Felicity. "Follow me" she said, pointing her gun at him.

Patrick turned for a moment to look at his friends. "Semper fi" was all he could say before following the AI.

Robbie bowed her head, tasting blood in her mouth. She must have bitten her tongue to stay quiet. She swallowed, looking at the others. She could only guess their expressions. And right now she just didn't want to think. She did not want to know anything anymore.

The Elroy EL model stepped forward, eyeing the Marines again. The crosshaired eyes made Gunny shudder and he clenched his fist. Not again...please God, not again.

"I know you are allowed to tell your name and rank, Marine" Felicity said as she moved closer to Stratfurt, sitting in the chair.

Stratfurt stared on a bulk in the bulkhead. "Stratfurt, Patrick. Corporal. 342-76-6341. United States Marine Corps, planet Earth" he smiled weakly. "Big blue and green planet. Can't miss it"

Felicity chuckled. "Well, Corporal Stratfurt. I believe you do have a wicked sense of humour. I like it. It's rare out here" she smiled and approached him slowly.

Stratfurt sat there, not moving, not even daring to breathe. He knew what was going to happen. He had read the literature. He swallowed. "I guess Chigs aren't that funny, huh?" he knew it was a stupid comment but anything just to...say something. He hated the silence.

Felicity grabbed his hair, forcing his head towards her. "No. They aren't" she replied, her voice a bit too harsh. She let go of him and moved to the wall. Slowly she unscrewed her finger. "Let's see how funny you are when I am finished with you"


Gunny winced and closed his eyes. The scream told a thousand stories. Behind him, the remaining members of the 7th were no doubt talking. "Patrick" Cummings said slowly, as if not realizing who had screamed until now. "They are torturing him..."

"In a few hours, that will be us" Robbie said. She was standing against the bulkhead, both hands flat on the surface. Her long hair was hanging down in her face and for the first time she looked older than she was. She turned, her cheeks wet with sweat and maybe tears. But her eyes were dry and hard.

"We can't just sit here and wait for them to come and get us" Wakefield marked from the deck. He looked up at them, real fear in his eyes. Wakefield used to say that he was scared all the time. That was a lie. But now he was truly terrified.

Hammer hit the bulkhead with the base of her hand. "What else can we do, damnit? I'd give my last double-damned drop of blood to safe Patrick..."

Gunny looked at her, almost shocked. "Last drop of blood? Blood?" he started chuckling. "Of course. That could be it!"

"What?" Cummings eyed the Gunny. "Are you cracking up, man? Is he cracking up?" he asked the others.

"Shut up, Craig" Hammer hissed before setting her ice cold eyes on Gunny. "What do you have in mind?" she asked him.

Gunny looked at them before shaking his head. "No...it won't work. They use a force field here..." he threw a piece of rock on the floor. "The Chigs don't like blood, right? So if one of us gave a bit just for show we could lose the two Chig guards-"

"But cause of the field they won't notice it" she finished for him, getting a sour expression. "I got ya..."

Wakefield pressed his eyes shut as another heart tearing scream echoed through the corridors. "What the hell are they doing to him?" he muttered.

Gunny stared at the youths before speaking slowly. "Using electro magnetic pulses to stimulate the nerves causing extreme pain and agony" he looked at his hands before looking back at them. He owed them an explanation now. "The CCs got me in Africa in 57', at the end of the war. Two days later the Dutch troops attacked and freed the camp"

Cummings swallowed. "Did they break you?" he asked after a moment of painful silence.

Gunny smiled sad. "Depends...how much does a young Sergeant know? They didn't waste much time with me. I doubt they will with us. They don't want intelligence data...these AIs want to play" his voice sounded almost bitter now.

"How do you know?" Robbie asked, her voice light. Just in case there might be some shred of hope left.

"They would have killed us on the spot. But they didn't. And in a few hours, we'll wish they had" Gunny stood up and walked as far away from them as he could in the cell.

Wakefield stared on the floor. "Like a cat toying with a mouse" he muttered. "Fucking war. Fucking Marine Corps"

"You shut up, Wakefield!" Hammer barked to him. "We do what we have to...We don't tell and we stick up for each other. Like Marines have done ever since 1775. Got that?"

No one said anything but on that they all agreed. They would have to show no fear on this subject. Even if it killed them.

"A Marine's wife" Stratfurt said between pants. He was sweat soaked and he felt so thirsty. The pain had stopped, leaving a dull ache just as a small remember. His left side hurt but he was too tired to care. "If making a movie, it would start with the old Vietnam song..." he gritted his teeth and twisted his head, trying to remember the song. "Eve of Destruction"

Felicity watched the Carbonite sweat. He was trying to find something to hold on to. It was pathetic. But this Carbonite was unmistakeably married. Too bad. The married ones were always hard to break. And she didn't have time.

"All time favourite actress...Grace Kelly. Favourite actor, Montgomery Clift...Producer...." he frowned again. "Steven Spielberg"

Felicity grabbed him and dragged him to the 7th's Cell before throwing him in. Then she just walked away.

Hammer quickly moved to the body on the floor, turning him. "Patrick" she checked his pulse. "He's alive and breathing" she stated, a relieved look going over her face.

Gunny noticed that there was blood leaking from the corporal's shirt. He moved closer, unbuttoning it to find a nasty would on his left side. "Did they take out your appendix or something?" Gunny joked, seeing that Stratfurt was conscious. No reason to worry the kid.

"Or something" the man replied, panting. His breath was shallow and he licked his lips. Gunny knew the reactions from his own time. "Is it bad?"

"No" he pattered Stratfurt's shoulder and smiled encouraging. "Not at all. Just a bit blood. You'll be thirsty for some time though...we are low on water"

Stratfurt nodded, feeling exhausted. "I...It's okay" he said and smiled before closing his eyes.

Gunny nodded. "He needs to rest. Take care of him" he said and stood up, looking over their heads

"Gunny? What are you talk-" Hammer turned, seeing the AI pointing at Gunny. "Oh..."

Gunny met her eyes for just a moment before walking past them and through the now open force field. He turned and looked at them. He felt proud for them and he would try to remember them when he was in there. "Natio Fides" he said, his whole attitude arrogant.

Robbie looked away, not wanting to watch as the AIs dragged him away. She focused her attention on Stratfurt. From behind her, she heard Cummings whisper. "God help him...and us"

"You don't hurt 'em if you don't hit 'em"
    -Lieutenant General Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, USMC

"We meet again, Victor" Felicity grinned to him, her fingers tracing his jaw line rather seductive.

Gunny twisted his head away from her. "Yeah. I guess we do," he said. "I killed you in South Africa"

"That was Felicity 4382. I am Felicity 632. You will never meet anyone quite like me, Victor" she chuckled and kissed his cheek. Gunny didn't pull away this time, knowing it soon would be no other chance...he moved his head a little, kissing back. His lips moved over the AI's. The Silicate moved closer as the kiss became deeper. What Felicity did not notice, however, was that Gunny's hand was moving to her belt where her knife was. He drew it and cut the AI open. Her lips stopped responding and she fell down.

Gunny closed his eyes, taking a shallow breath before cutting himself loose. The stupid Silicate hadn't checked the claps well enough. He took her weapons and walked out of the interrogation room. He moved fast but they stopped. Shit, he couldn't take out the two Chigs now. He had to save ammo. He took the knife and rolled up his sleeve. "For my Corps, I guess" he muttered as he cut himself. Not deep but it was bleeding a lot for show. He smeared his blood over his face and hands before moving towards the Chigs. They both approached him but when they saw and smelled him, the stood there in shock. Gunny didn't waste time and attacked, killing both aliens quickly and swiftly.

He approached the force field. "Marines!" he grinned as he looked at them. They gathered in front of him, unconsciously getting into a straight line. "Get out of there"

"We'd like to, Gunny" Cummings looked at him, puzzled look on his face. He was wondering why the Gunny looked like he had been swimming in pig blood. "But the force field..."

"Gunny, is there a square greyish box on your side?" Hammer suddenly asked, moving closer.

Gunny scanned the opening before his eyes landed on it. "Yeah"

"Good" she grinned to him. "Open it, please"

Gunny did as he was told and opened the box. There were four different coloured wires along with a small keyboard. "There are a few wires here...and some kind of keyboard" he told her.

Robbie scowled and her voice became very serious. "That's an standard Aero Tech restricted area code box," she said.

Wakefield looked up at her. "Aero Tech? What the hell are Aero Tech doing here?"

Gunny shook his head. "Just tell me what to do, Robbie," he said. "We need to get off this rock"

"Right" Hammer pressed her hands against the force field, trying to get a better view. All she saw was Gunny's side. "The code will take days...what colour are the wires?"

Gunny let his fingers go over the four wires. "Blue, Yellow, black and red" he said after a moment.

"The Marine trap" she grinned and actually laughed. "That is easy. My Aunt Olga in Russia worked for Aero Tech. She said that these kind of code boxes could only be broken if you cut the wires in the right order...she also said that the only one who would get the joke was the US Marines" she bit her lip. "We'll just have to find out the colour code"

"Easier said than done..." Wakefield eyed her.

Cummings was more optimistic. "Okay. We are Marines. We can do this.... Okay. The colour red represents the blood we shed, right? And Blue was...because we are under the Navy?"

Gunny chuckled. "Maybe. Hey wait a mike. This is like that cadence, right? First there came the colour blue to show the world that we are true" he suggested, looking at Hammer as if she was the real expert. Compared with himself, she was. Hell, Gunny couldn't even turn on a computer yet alone figure out colour codes.

"Yeah...and next there came the colour red to show the world the blood we shed. And finally came to colour green to show the world that we are mean" her voice dropped. "We don't have green..."

"But black. As in 'paint my face black and green. You won't see me I'm a Recon Marine'" Wakefield stood up.

"Right. But what about yellow? We don't use yellow" Gunny suppressed a scowl.

Cummings looked at them. "Yellow...Yellow can mean coward. But there are no yellows in the Corps"

"No, stupid. When the Corps was started, the cowards stopped. The colour code is yellow, blue, red and black," Stratfurt suddenly said. His voice was weak but he had made his point.

Gunny grinned and wiped the sweat of his forehead with his shoulder. "Funny. The smartest guy of all of us is the one on the floor" he marked as he took his ka-bar. "Here goes nothing"

The others looked as he slowly cut the yellow wire. Then the blue wire. Sweat tinkered down the sides of his face and he stooped to wipe it away with his hand. Gunny wet his lips as he cut the red wire. Then he stopped briefly before taking out the black. He let out a tight breath as the force field suddenly disappeared. He walked in and picked Stratfurt up. "Let's move. We need to take over this joint!"

"Aye, Gunny" they replied in unison before walking out. Wakefield took the sidearm while Cummings grabbed the ka-bar on the floor.

They moved out, walking down the corridor slowly, listening to every sound and every motion. Hammer took the lead, pointing out targets. As another Chig hit the ground she moved over to it, releasing its weapon. "Let's see how we fire this thing" she muttered as she took it on her arm. Inside there was a strange hold which she could curl her fingers around. No trigger but the Chigs usually kept things simple. She circled her thumb and suddenly a burse of energy went out of it. She grinned satisfied. "Looks like I found the controls. All this thing needs is a woman's touch"

"Sure...but where is the woman" Stratfurt muttered tiredly. Gunny was worried now. Patrick sounded worse and he felt hot in his arms. He quickly touched the Corporal's head only to discover that he had a fever. He looked over at Robbie, standing there as a proper jarhead with her tanktop, combats and the Chig weapon.

"Let's move out. We have a shuttle to catch" Gunny met her eyes for a moment. They said it all. Do what you can to reach the mission objectives and report this to the Saratoga before they send out a convoy. No matter what happens.

Robbie looked away, her jaw set stubbornly as she walked out in the corridor and fired at whatever moved. There was an expression in the Military. Rambo flying. It was used when pilots took great chances. What Hammer was doing was like watching Full Metal Jacket in its second half -without the music.

She knelt down and provided cover as Cummings, Gunny and Stratfurt moved out. Wakefield followed shortly to provide more cover so that she could get out. She did not cry out or anything when a bullet caught her arms but she bit down on her lower lip. She half fell half stumbled to the others before being caught in Cummings' arms. "Fuck. Why is it always me who gets those bullets?" she hissed and dropped the Chig weapon to hold her arm. It wasn't a deep cut and it didn't even hurt that much. It was just bleeding for show. But it stung like a bee sting.

"It's like one of those alligator movies" Cummings marked as he took her weapon and tried it. It didn't fire. He threw it away with a sneer. "Sixteen men and one woman. The alligator will always attack the woman first. Or the first black brother to show"

"Sucks, doesn't it" she smiled weakly as they moved to the door.

Wakefield broke up the conversation. "Ain't gonna be much to bitch about if we don't get our sixes out of dodge" his face was pale and his eyes dark. For the first time in all his life he looked older than he was. Very much older.

"I think I saw where they put our suits. It was in a room by the entrance" Craig said as they headed to the hatch. He stopped and kicked open a door. Inside there were indeed five suits with O2 backpacks as well. He reached inside to get them.

"I love you, man" Wakefield smiled again and took on his gear. Then he helped Gunny put the gear on Stratfurt. "Is he unconscious?"

Gunny nodded. "Yeah" he said and put on his helmet and checked the O2 flow. Everything seemed okay. "Let us blow this dump up while we are at it"

Cummings looked around until his eyes landed on the fuel. Very much fuel too. He reached into the room, getting two C670s and walking over to the fuel. "The Chigs will know we are here in about one mike. I suggest you move it" he set the timer and walked towards them, his weapon ready.

They started moving as fast as they could in the low gravity and with a wounded man. Hammer turned and watched as the base blew up. She grinned and turned to the faceless form of Cummings. "Hoo-RAH. How THAT'S a barbeque"

"Yeah. Hope we deep fried a few Chigs and AIs as well" Craig replied as they walked to the rest.

"Where's the M.I.S.S.P.C?" Robbie asked as she looked out over the place where the craft had been. All that was left now was a burned spot and a few dead AIs.

Gunny put Stratfurt down and smiled bitterly. "I blew it up. I sat the C670 on 2 hours. I guess the Chigs must have taken it and then it blew up in their faces"

"So we don't get off this rock" Wakefield stated and sat down. The cold realization hit him like a brick wall in the face.

"Looks that way"

Personal diary for Gunnery Sergeant V. Azaria. Mission #21, entry three

It looks bad. We only have air for about two hours. They all know it. I guess there isn't much to say except... Mom, dad, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I had to die like this instead of in battle. But I do die for a good cause. The Chigs won't be able to set up a new base for a while. I am also very sorry that these kids -my friends- have to die. They are all so young and full of life. But with old souls. War makes young people old. Take care. And semper fi.

End recording.

Hammer opened her eyes slowly. She didn't know what had woken her up. But there was some strange sound here that...


She grabbed her weapon and held it ready. "Sounds like a bomber" she whispered.

"No...it's one of ours" Gunny stood up and checked his O2 supply. 3 mikes left. God bless the Marines.

The ISSAPC landed and the hatched opened. "C'mon! Get in or do ya wanna be here the rest of the day?" a voice asked. His helmet was labelled 'Hawkes'.

The 7th quickly got in. As a medic took and checked up on Stratfurt, Robbie sat down next to the In Vitro. "Hi again" she said and grinned. Then she added, "Sir"

Hawkes grinned before standing up and walking to the cockpit. Or the lunch box, as it was so fondly known as. Stratfurt was regaining consciences and Wakefield grinned. "We are in a World of shit. But at least we are alive"

Personal diary for Gunnery Sergeant V. Azaria. Mission #21, entry four

Stratfurt is recovering well. However, we are all worried about our discovery at the Chig base. If it was indeed Aero Tech technology used there, and since it all was pretty new, are Aero Tech somehow involved in this war? Are they aiding both sides? I asked those questions in my After Action Report and send it to Pentagon. Though I doubt it will ever be read. Maybe someday we will all know what really happened in this war. But I have a feeling I won't be here to see it...

End recording.

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