Scarapace CH1 ~ Journey into the unknown

Scarapace CH1 ~ Journey into the unknown

A Chapter by Carbon Muse

The rear escort bounced along over the rocky terrain of the desert pass.  Its camouflage no longer desert beige, but a dull rust color from the red sand kicked up by the troop transport lumbering ahead.

 

The soldier reached down between his feet and grabbed a water bottle from the floor-boards.  “So, where are we headed Sarge?” he asked as he proceeded to drain it of its contents, water dribbling down his chin. 

 

“These runs are need to know only, Private…” his sergeant replied, yanking the steering wheel hard to the left as he swerved to avoid a boulder too tall to clear the chassis.

 

“Wowha!”  Caught off guard by the vehicle's sudden movement, the private slammed into the passenger door dropping the bottle and spilling the remaining liquid on his lap.  The empty bottle, bouncing around on the floor before coming to rest next to his boot.  “Need to know?  That doesn’t make sense Sarge…  Seeing as I was issued the orders, wouldn’t that mean I would need to know?”

 

Rolling his eyes, the sergeant glared at him and snarled, “Don’t question me, Private, didn’t they teach you anything in basic!” 

 

“huh?” came the response as the private rubbed at his now soaking wet crotch with the sleeve of his combat jacket.

 

Sighing, the sergeant just shook his head, keeping his gaze on the rough terrain ahead.  “Never mind, just keep a sharp lookout.”  ‘What did I ever do to deserve this, this kids going to get us all killed’ he thought to himself.

 

“I don’t understand it Sarge, I don’t see what’s so important about this troop transfer.  These soldiers have only just been released from hospital and it’s not like there is a rehab facility this far out in the desert … nor are they ready for reassignment,” he frowned as he steadied the rifle cradled between his legs.

 

The sergeant gritted his teeth and in a sudden violent outburst, roared at him, “I SAID IT’S NEED … TO … KNOW, PRIVATE!  Now put your cover where it belongs before a sniper does me a favor and aerates your head!”

 

The private, jumping at the sudden outburst, found himself tucked up against the seat and the door, his hand holding onto the leather strap dangling from the roof.  Realizing he had nowhere to go, he fumbled with the combat helmet on his lap and placed it on his head, only to start grabbing at it as he realized it was the wrong way around.  Taking it off again, he acted as though he was inspecting the lining, nodded to himself and fastened it back on his head, this time the right way around.  Scanning the horizon, he puffed out his chest and proclaimed, “All clear, Sir!” 

 

Closing his eyes, the sergeant said a silent prayer, his knuckles turning white as he gripped the steering wheel. 

 

“How long till we get there, sir, I need to relieve myself.”  

 

With that, the sergeant’s neck muscles gave way, his head rebounding a couple of times as he banged it against the steering wheel.

 

***

 

For what seemed like the hundredth time, she tucked the canvas flap of the tailgate around the corner post, just to have it fly back out and flap in her face.  The troop transport was in dire need of an overhaul and it showed.  With each bump, the suspension would creak and grown and the occupants would get jostled around without mercy.  The hard steel benches they were sitting on, burning hot from the desert heat, were no better.  Part of the bench facing her was starting to collapse to one side and the soldier’s unfortunate enough to be seated on it had to clench the edge or risk sliding to the floor.

  

“NO!” bellowed the soldier as the transport lurched over a bolder.  He clenched his fist and thumped it on the side of the cab, yelling in frustration, “Take it easy would you!” bending down to pick up the playing cards that had spilled out onto the floor.

 

“Settle down, they can’t hear you, you know,” said the soldier sitting opposite him.  “Always wondered why the driver cab gets an inch thick armor plating while we sit under nothing but a canvas tarp.”

 

Glaring at the soldier, he shook the few cards he had managed to recover thus far, “I told you to keep the deck in your hand Vix!” 

 

Vix just shrugged, “Hey buddy, I only have one hand you know,” he smiled as he waved the fan of cards at him and continued re-arranging them. 

 

Oblivious to the banter she stared out into the distance, her mind replaying the same memory over and over again when something caught her eye.  Shielding her eyes against the glaring sun, she half stood up to get a better look.  “Raven!” she shouted with surprise and pointed at the sky.

 

“WHAT!” came the reply almost in unison from the rest of the occupants, “What in the name of all that is holy is it doing out here in this waste!” exclaimed one of the voices. 

 

Almost all the occupants were now standing bent over at the rear of the lumbering transport, pushing and shoving to catch a glimpse of the VTOL* as it roared overhead.

 

“Man, what I wouldn’t give to be in one of those right now,” Vix sighed. 

 

“Forget it,” groaned the soldier behind him, “You blew it, they wouldn’t let you pilot a dropship let alone a fighter, not after that stunt you pulled.” 

 

“Screw you Fuse!  I didn’t blow anything!” he yelled as he shoved Fuse onto the floor. 

 

“Shut up all of you and sit down!” a stern voice bellowed over the commotion.  They turned to face the soldier sitting in the middle of the bench and looked at him in shock.  With his arms folded he raised his head, a jagged line running from his left brow down to his cheekbone.  The white gauze covering his eye stained pink with the red desert dust.  “Look, we all got a raw deal here, none of us deserved to be shipped off to some god forsaken post for who knows what reason, now sit down!” 

 

Fuse picked himself up from the floor and stared at him “Where are they taking us anyway Sarge?” 

 

“I said SIT DOWN!” the Sergeant hissed. 

 

At that moment, the transport lurched again.  Those that were still standing became airborne and seemed to float in mid-air before they came crashing down on top of each other.  Having gone airborne with the rest of the occupants, she crashed down hard onto the steel tailgate, lucky not to have been ejected from the vehicle altogether.

 

“Good god that was uncalled for.”  Fuse, holding his head, started searching under the benches for his cards that flew out of his hand when he took flight. 

 

The sergeant sighed and shook his head.  “I swear Fuse you have to be the most insubordinate soldier I have ever come across.  Didn't the incident in Sacris teach you anything...” 

 

Fuse jumped at the comment, hitting his head against the bench he was searching under and muttered, “I thought you just said none…” 

 

“Shut up Fuse and deal a new hand would you!” Vix moaned.

 

Crawling out from under the bench, Fuse stared up at him.  “All right, all right, keep your cammies on,” he retorted as he pulled himself onto the bench and squared the deck of cards.

 

Vix, nursing his elbow, looked towards the back of the transport, “So what about you ‘deadeye’, you’re the only one not from our platoon and I don't recognise you from our company either, where did you fall out?” 

 

“My name is not ‘deadeye'!” she cringed, still sitting on the floor with her back against the bench where she had ended up after her brief introduction to the tailgate.  Her combat jacket draped over her shoulders, she clutched at her right arm with her free hand. 

 

“Could have fooled me, you sure spotted that fast mover long before we even heard it,” he retorted. 

 

The soldier, seated next to him, dropped his cards and placed his hand over Vix's mouth as he moved towards her, the transport jumping and jostling beneath his feet, threatening to topple him over onto his companions.

 

"Mutts be mig oidea 8Ball!”  Vix mumbled through 8Ball's fingers. 

 

8Ball knelt down next to her and studied her face.  "What have we here," he smiled as he noticed the tell-tail beads of sweat appearing on her brow, her complexion as white as a sheet.

 

"Don't any of you listen to your commanding officer!" she hissed as she glared up at him.

 

"Easy soldier, I'm just going to take a peek," he reassured her as he lifted her combat jacket from her right shoulder.  "That can't be good..." he commented to himself as he studied the crimson stain growing on the bandage. 

 

She cringed, turning her head to the side as he undid the bandage and lifted the gauze.  A single tear tracing a line down her dust-covered cheek as he examined the open gash in her shoulder. 

 

“That impression of a hummingbird tore your stitches.”  He sighed, inhaling through his teeth as he inspected the wound. 

 

Trying to hide the smile spreading across her face, she dug her nails into her thigh as he poked and prodded at her shoulder.

 

“This is no good.” he murmered, tossing the blood soaked bandage out the back of the transport.  “I don’t have a field kit on me.  I will have to make do with a patch job.”  8Ball tore one of the sleeves from his olive T-Shirt and wrapped it around her shoulder.  “That should hold it for the moment, but you need to get to the base medic when we get there.”  He frowned and thought for a moment, “where ever that is.” 

 

Looking at her shoulder she studied the patch job, “Thanks...  I guess...  You’re the medic I suppose?” she asked. 

 

“That’s right, you can call me 8Ball,” he said with a goofy grin on his face.  'Not as frail a little bird as you make out to be, are you', he wondered to himself as he studied her deep blue eyes.  Her gaze, cold and calculating, sent shivers down his spine.  He was about to return to his seat when he brushed against her by accident, allowing her combat jacket to drop from her other shoulder.  "Uh...", 'Tha ... that insignia!  I've seen it before!'  His eyes grew wide as he studied the tattoo on her shoulder.  'Wha ... what!  That can't be!'  Counting the symbols below the insignia, his heart stopped in his chest, a cold chill creeping through his body.

 

Puzzled, she frowned at him, trying to make sense of the curious name. “8Ball?”

 

8Ball nodded, relaxing his gaze as he draped her field jacket over her shoulders again “… long story, I will tell you some other time when you are not in pieces.”  He held out his hand to her as she tried to hide another smile, shaking her head.

 

“Thanks, but if it’s all the same, I’d rather stay closer to the floor this time.” 

 

Shrugging, he pointed at her shoulder, “How did you manage that anyway.” 

 

With a blank expression, she looked back over the tailgate as though they had never spoken, the wind sucking loose strands of her blonde hair out towards the desert. 

 

“Suit yourself,” resigned 8Ball, bumbling back to his seat.  Sitting back down on his bench, he made a gesture with his fingers on his thigh. 

 

His sergeant nodded in silent acknowledgement, none of the other occupants seeming to notice the exchange.  ‘That can’t be right … something’s wrong here …' the sergeant thought, a grim expression spreading over his face.

 

"Don't lie!  I can clearly see the card tucked under your leg Vix!"  Fuse, standing over Vix, clenched his fist as he ripped the ace of spades from under Vix's leg.

 

"Don't look at me," Vix replied, holding his hands in the air, "You’re the one supposedly picking the cards back up from the floor."

 

"Why you!  Don't think you can worm your self out of this one you cheat!"  Fuse glared at Vix, raising his clenched fist, and froze.  "What the!"  The two of them stared at each other.  The odd sensation of the vibrations still reverberating through their bodies, yet the jostling had stopped. 

 

"Hey!  'deade...', lass ... uh ... whatever your name is god damn it!  What are you staring at?"

 

She sighed as she stared over the tailgate.  “Specialist Cassidy if you must know.  And to answer your question, nothing … there’s nothing, it’s smooth as silk.”  The two rushed over to where she sat and gawked at the smooth surface streaking away behind the transport. 

 

“There’s not a ripple or a stone.  Not even a pebble,” Vix remarked, as he studied the powdery surface. 

 

“Deserts are smooth, you dumb-a*s,” remarked Fuse, shoving Vix aside so he could get a better look.

 

“Not in this region you clout!”  Vix retorted as he clobbered Fuse over the head with his fist.

 

Fuse, once again having to nurse his head, retreated back to his corner and sat brooding with his arms folded.  "Stop bashing my head in will yah!" 

 

Vix looked back at their escort, the desert dust trailing off the bodywork in wisps as it sped along.  Deep in thought he lowered himself down to sit on the bench across from her but just as he was about to sit, someone behind him yelled out. 

 

“Get off you mutt!” 

 

“Sor... Sorry Hopper!  Geeze, you’ve been so quite I thought we lost you out the back.” 

 

“I was sleeping you insensitive brute!” Hopper planted her right boot on Vix’s rear and shoved him towards the sergeant. 

 

 “Sit down Vix, I think we’re almost there.” 

 

“Hey?  What you mean Sarge?” Vix enquired as he plodded down next to the sergeant. 

 

“I have a hunch.” 

 

Vix just rolled his eyes and leaned back against the side gate, his head bobbing against the canvas tarp.



© 2015 Carbon Muse


Author's Note

Carbon Muse
Feel free to give honest and open feedback but above all, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed exploring my imagination and creativity.

Terminology:

* VTOL : Vertical Take Off Landing, a airborne craft capable of both vertical and level flight

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Reviews

"remarked", "enquired", "retorted", may be examples of this: Said Bookism: An artificial verb used to avoid the word "said." "Said" is one of the few invisible words in the English language and is almost impossible to overuse. It is much less distracting than "he retorted," "she inquired," "he ejaculated," and other oddities. The term "said-book" comes from certain pamphlets, containing hundreds of purple-prose synonyms for the word "said," which were sold to aspiring authors from tiny ads in American magazines of the pre-WWII era.

Also: There's a sense that the author indulges in a lot of whimsical anime watching involving, comedy and craziness. As evident by the tonne of character tropes present. Your writing's good though.

Posted 4 Years Ago


I love the characters. They have a great personality and you displayed very well. I rarely find someone that can display character personality in the first chapter. My favorite character is Vix of course. I also loved how well you wrote this chapter and I would most definitely read more!

Posted 4 Years Ago


Your writing is great, and the banter between the soldiers is really fun to read. You seem like you've researched all this military stuff extremely well too! It's a strong first chapter and definitely makes me want to read more :3

Posted 4 Years Ago


Well written and strong story. The conversations felt a bit too structured at times. People usually don't speak in perfect written english. Also there were a lot of characters introduced in a short period of time, sometimes that's difficult to follow. Look forward to reading more.

Posted 4 Years Ago


Carbon Muse

4 Years Ago

Thanks for taking the time to read and review! Much appreciated ;)

- Thanks for po.. read more
quite fascinating.. :D :D amazing flow of words :)

Posted 4 Years Ago


Carbon Muse

4 Years Ago

Thank you ^_^ It's a bit of a saga so the progression to get to the core of the story may take long.. read more

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Added on November 29, 2015
Last Updated on December 1, 2015
Tags: Science Fiction, Military, War, Saga


Author

Carbon Muse
Carbon Muse

South Africa



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A Chapter by Carbon Muse