Please feel free to share any short stories or poems or what have you here, whether they relate to your SAP empire or not. We do ask you try to keep them a reasonable size, if they're too long then ideally just link to somewhere like the Google Doc (make sure to make it so those with a link can view it) or where ever.
Not SAP related, this is actually what I wrote down as part of my AP English Language final exam-
The room I'm in shakes and sways with the movement of the craft I'm in. I have jitters, it's my first mission away from home territory and the stress is starting to get to me.
“Hey, rookie,” a voice calls in front of me. I look to the source to see a rough looking man with kind eyes and a reassuring smile on his lightly bearded face. There's an insignia on his collar identifying him as a Chief Petty Officer.
“ No need for shakes, this is an outpost we're hitting, not a fortress. At best we're gonna take some light fire, nothing to be scared about,” said he, his expression easy and body relaxed in comparison to my tensed pose. I smile shakily in response.
“ I know that, sir. I was logged into the brief too. Just, first time away from the family, you know?” He 'ah'ed' at my words. 'Family' was slang for the company you graduated from the Academy with. Mine was almost completely annihilated by orbital artillery some weeks back during an enemy offensive. What was left was split up and assimilated into other companies, as it was much simpler than pouring resources into reforming ours from near total destruction.
I don't know about the others, but I was given some weeks leave as a result of it, so I could recover and be naturalized into my new, adoptive 'family'.
The kind faced chief spoke again, “You're from the 272nd, aren't you?” I nod. “ That explains it. You don't look like a bed wetter, you've got some death in you. Still, I wouldn't worry about this drop, we'll be fine.” At this proclamation, the cabin shakes, the move too sudden to be simple turbulence.
“ I don't know sir. I get the feeling it's going to be something none of us are going to like,” I said. At this, the golden-bird grimaced, his face scrunching up in a rather humorous way.
“Bah, just send the enemy our sensor footprint while you jinx us, why don't you? I thought you knew better than to say things like that!” He exclaimed, eliciting some chuckles from the soldiers around us. I got a laugh in too, and checked my hands once more to realize they weren't shaking. I looked back up at the chief, who winked at me.
“ Like I said, kid. This is nothing to be stressed about. Just another day on the job.” We share a chuckle.
A light blinks on my display, signaling that it's time to get ready. My armor begins spooling, and my shields come online with a small chime and a shimmer of light.
“Alright, kids!” Calls the chief, the name “Hennericks” appearing above him as my HUD fully activates. “This is a routine drop. In case any of you forgot the briefing-” A few hesitant laughs start before dying out, “we're hitting a moderately sized FOB on the world below us. It's a levo-friendly, average garden world, so no need for filters, but it's still advised. Resistance will be mostly infantry with some armor support, nothing special.” Going along with his words, a series of images and scans pop up in front of my eyes, illustrating what the NCO said. “ Our objective is a missile battery about five kilometers to the planetary north-east from the outpost, so be on watch for patrols. We're to pop the missiles, and secure the site for further operations. Any questions?”
At this, a somewhat feminine voice pipes up, “Yeah, what color undies did you wear today?”, drawing some laughs from the others in the dropship, and a smile from the lieutenant.
“Varmyn, I'm not wearing any underwear. I don't know about you, but it's damn hard to be comfortable in skivvies in this undersuit.” My bearded superior said this without a trace of embarrassment, taking the jest with as much grace as one could when saying they were going commando. Granted, what he said was true. Chafing was not fun at all.
The pilot's voice came over the intercom, “Drop in four minutes, get ready.” Our seats slid back shortly afterwards, and we darkened our visors. However, I had an annoying tingling at the back of my mind. It was rather bothersome actually, it was exactly like the one on Terryon, shortly before the attack that destroyed... my...
Eyes wide in panic, I looked to the lieutenant and blurted, “ Chief! Something's wrong!”
He tilted his head at this, his face obscured by the now-opaque face mask. “Waddya mean, rook? Jitters back or som-”
Of course, it was here that everything went straight to hell.
A great 'boom' and the screech of metal is all I heard next, even as my helmet dampened the noise. We were hit by anti-aircraft fire, heavy by the looks of it, as a section of our rather heavily armored dropship was simply forced inward, decompressing the cabin and sucking a few unfortunate souls that were knocked loose by the impact out of the ship.
'Damndamndamn' I chanted in my head. The craft we were in was spinning, and I had to fight against the forces exerted upon me. The cockpit must have been destroyed, as I couldn't even contact the pilots. What was I, some sort of unlucky charm?! I attempted to manually launch the pod I was in, but the door wouldn't shut, and the locks wouldn't blow. I looked around the cabin once more, hoping beyond hope we wouldn't take more hits on the way. Well, that and land on rock or something like that. With my track record, we'd be likely to land in an active volcano.
I looked to see if the friendly chief was still alive, and to my relief he was indeed attempting to activate his pod, mirroring my actions. At least one thing was going right today.
There was time to keep trying. Better to hit the ground in a sealed pod than with just the safety bars holding me back. We were rather high up, so it would be some time before we hit the ground.
Of course, I was underestimating the speed of our fall.
Here was me, struggling to activate the drop pod I was in, before hills appeared in my peripherals. My last conscious thought was ' Oh damn, this is going to hurt.'
Then, everything went black.
Rain pelted my visor, and my boots crunched on the gravelled surface of Nocturne as I ran. I was driven not by rage or by purpose, but through sheer terror. I ran after Berezysky, who was barely visible in the thick hot smoke belching from the dischargers mounted on the dropship's stubby wings. It fired salvos of missiles into multiple targets, its twin Vulcan cannons roaring as they spat death toward the enemy . The dischargers too billowed hot smoke from its sides to help mask us from the enemies sight and infra-red, and scores of flares shot into the sky to deter missiles. the dropship had become a deadly firework show so loud my earphones could barely filter it. It was necessary to protect us, as well as the dropship itself, from the enemy because they were close, very close indeed.
I ran in a crouch through the smoke, the dear of death in me as I followed Berezysky toward the ditch that the dropship pilot had told us to use as cover.
We were the first ones out. There was an order to debussing that we were taught on Prometheus and had practice again and again using the Centurion's simulators during our voyage. The section command never went first, and neither would the second in command. This wasn't a cowardly thing by any means, the section command was so busy commanding the section, listening to the company radio network and planning his next action he often wasn't paying much attention to his own safety. Corporal Evans was right behind me, though.
'Move!' He yelled, with an urgency I had rarely heard from him.
The air crackled and hissed around my head as munitions punched through the air. We were being fired upon, and we were only being missed because of the sheer firepower being unleashed by the dropship. It wouldn't last forever, though. Adrenaline spurred my body even faster
I threw myself into the ditch, rolling down the steep bank and into the a pool of cold water. I felt it soak under my armour and seep into my boots.
It was a drainage ditch, designed to keep the crops from been drowned in the heavy Nocturne rainfall. It ran for several hundred metres in both directions, and through the smoke my visor identified another section debussing from their dropship into the ditch a hundred metres or so off to my right.
Black smoke from the orbital bombardment drifted overhead from Hesiod city a few kilometres away, mixing in with the white smoke created by the dropships and smoke bombs fired by our own battalions own artillery.
Rounds ricocheted of the lip of the ditch, chucking great chucks of dirt down at me where I cowered in the blood-red mud.
Yeah, you heard right, I cowered. Overwhelmed by the sights and noise around me I had curled almost into a ball in the bottom of the ditch like a frightened child. In my defence, I hadn't done it consciously, rather my body's natural defence instinct had kicked in and told me to stay low and hide. It hadn't even reached my comprehension that what I was doing was against everything I had been taught to do since becoming a drop trooper.
Berezynsky was five metres to the right of me, lying against the lip of the ditch and firing in the direction of the enemy. He stole a quick glance down to me, his eyes a mixture of terror and anger
'Andy, what the hell are you doing?' He asked over the intercom. I think it's the most I ever heard him say.
To be honest I didn't have a clue what I was doing. The whole section had formed a line along the ditch and everyone was firing apart from me, but I still remained frozen on the spot
The dropship began to close its doors and shot backwards, its guns still roaring. Along with its battle brothers it would give fire support and air defence from the rear whilst it waited to be used again. I wished I could have gone with it, for then it was just us and the enemy.
'Andy, get up and fire you little weasel!' Somebody shouted, I think it was Chase.
'Get some rounds down!'
I was paralysed with fear. The voluntary nature of the Dropship Infantry and the intensity of its training often led people to believe that we were invincible, incapable of fear. People can talk themselves up as much as they like, but until they're in contact with the enemy for real they can never really know how they might react. My first reaction was a bad one, I was almost unable to move, I was so scared.
Boots slapped against the water at the bottom of the ditch behind me, and Joe Mac grasped me by the throat and threw me against the bank, his teeth bared, rifle held up as if he meant to smack me round the head with it.
'What are you doing? What the HELL are you doing?' He screamed, his face so close to mine our respirators almost touched. Spittle sprayed over his visor. He was beside himself, he must have ran half way along the ditch under fire just to get to me.
'I don't know!' I cried out, wild with terror.
'Get up there and put some rounds down the range now!'
I guess that was what I needed, a good kick up the arse. Whatever the enemy could do to me, Joe could probably do far worse. Training kicking back in, I crawled up the bank of the ditch and took aim.
The crimson red Nocturne surface was dazzling as it was terrifying. Angry dark pink clouds broiled high above, flickering with lighting or perhaps the flashes of battle between atmospheric fighters. Balls of flame would regularly break through the clouds and strike the ground far away, causing shockwaves so powerful I could feel them through my respirator. It was as through some great deity has decided to wreak terrible revenge on the land, but it was in fact our ships, high above, dropping kinetic weapons on the enemy. Nocturne was already a warzone, and it looked like hell.
When worlds collide
"How do you things live on this planet?" A pilots first and last remark. It took one swoop from the bladed arm of a L'tuk to smash his helmet wide open. His screams would be of great distress to his crew, but no more so than his body that would set on fire in the blistering sun. The rest of the crew piled off the trade vessel, none of them brave enough to say a word to the large L'tuk Harbour master monitoring the delivery.
"Dispose of his body Sargent, we don't have time for idiots like that." Bellowed the captain as he ordered his men off the ship, pointing and shoving as though his men couldn't perform basic tasks. The emotionless face of the L'tuk Harbour master looking on insited fear in the newer recruits, but in this job they had came to learn that you do what your captain tells you and you will stay alive. It took some time for the men to pile off the ship and line up ready for the Harbour master to Data log them for Identification purposes. The Harbour master got invasively close looking into the visers of the men deep at their faces before scanning them entirely. Row after row of men out there being catalogued for the security systems of the planet, It was tedious and bore no excitement for even the L'tuk, but it had to be done, the nest worlds were precious and few.
Once finally the Captain had been catalogued aswell he headed to the central podium of the deck. A crude block of Granite-like stone that had been worn down to the point that the steps were more of a ramp and you were better off stepping straight onto it. The painfully bright blue sun bore down on them harshely making even the tempered metal of their suits expand slightly. He set up his holographic projectors, 4 of them to present a secondary briefing to the crew and began his opening speach.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, here we have it, a very warm welcome to K'tar! and if you were wondering just how warm, the answer is 84 degrees celsius, it's also the height of winter and we are several degrees north of the equator of this world in particular." The captain jested as he began to continue his speach, the Harbour master made his way over.
"This my friends, is one of the alien life forms you were shown in the initial briefing. No, it is not a thing. No, it is not beast, it is, in fact, A living, breathing and occasionally murdering L'tuk." As the captain paused for a moment to let his crew gaze dumb struck at the Harbour master he set up the projections of three other life forms.
"And without further ado let me introduce the other inhabitants of this planet. This here is an Imayu, Strikingly tall and pale. He is faster than you can ever hope to be, so if you annoy one don't run. Next, a Sterk'r, Yes they look like frogs, no they are not frogs. That lush planet we came past you couldn't wait to land on? That's their home. You should be thankful that they're much less likely to kill you than a L'tuk." As he wrapped up showing the different aliens inhabiting K'tar he brought up the final projection showing the Cargo.
"The Cargo is light and heat sensitive so it will remain in the bay until night falls. Night falls in 41 hours. Aren't you just thrilled we made such good time getting here? you meet here 4 hours after nightfall and I won't let the Harbour master eat you. That's right kiddies L'tuk eat human flesh as a staple part of their diet. Enjoy your time mingling with the Inhabitants." The captain stepped off the podium rather happy with himself that he'd scared the living daylights out of his crew. He made his way into the harbour masters office to fill out paperwork as the crew dispersed onto the cities streets. Once they arrived in the office the door clamp sealed and he was able to remove his helmet.
"Good lord you didn't have to hit him so hard, I'm going to have to pay his family you know?" Remarked the captain somewhat irritated by the actions of the Harbour master.
"I didn't think your helmets were that flimsy, or I was that strong to be honest. It has been a long time friend, I am glad I convinced the Council to hire you for this shipment." The L'tuk replied, a bright welcoming tone in his voice.
"It's been too long T'ok. Far too long" The captain finished his sentence with a grin and reached out for a hand shake, a happy compromise for the two of them, the traditional L'tuk greeting of headbutting was a little too much for the Captain and L'tuk weren't the most frequent hugger. Releasing his hand he broke into laughing as he slumped into one of the chairs. "Do you think they bought the whole thing about human flesh?"
Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out. Ignore the shaking, do not think of the outside. There is no danger, there is no fear. Only the objective. Open your eyes, see the instruments laid out before you. Remember your briefing. Remember your training.
Remember your first death. Remember your regiment. Honor your regiment.
Breathe in, breathe out. Ignore the pressure. Ignore your limits. You are not a machine. You are not the machine. The machine is not part of you, it is not an extension. The machine is you.
You are you.
Buzzing. Get ready. A thunderclap. Light. Falling.
Remember your objective. In light of your duty, no obstacle is too great. An enemy. They go down, another tally for your shoulder. Your allies advance, and many a foe falls to your fury. You advance again. Comrades fall to the enemy, but there is little time to mourn. Pressing on is the only option. Duty before danger. Duty before fear. Duty before life.
We have taken the objective. Our mission is updated. Enemy counter attack, waves of lesser beings. Fire. Thunder.
You are wounded, but duty calls. You must fight on.
The new objective is near, the mission almost done.
A lance of light severs your legs. Your team members drag your shell as you hold off the enemy. The objective is complete, extraction is coming.
The enemy marches on. You hold fast. Just a moment longer...
-Hrama 36th, Universal Era 831-
I'm driving home from a long day at the manufactory, my mother beside me, a small smile upon her face. It is a simple, dirty job, maintenance, but it is fulfilling. It keeps my family fed and my home maintained. It supports the effort against those blind fools in the Alliance, who are too caught up in their own hubris to realize their actions will end them. I know better. When I'm old enough, I plan to enlist, to bring the fight to those who shed the blood of my people and defend the homeland. I'm chatting amiably with mother, the megalopolis I call home covering the horizon when small objects tear through the sky. One is heading in my direction. My mother panics, and turns into a ditch. I can SEE the shockwaves rippling the air as my home is torn apart, just before my body is covered by a heavier one and wind tears overhead, rending everything around me and tearing my mother from my arms-
-Urmas 12th, UE 837-
My eyes open. It's been a long day, in the trenches, and even now the telltale 'crack crack' of modern weapons tears through the empty, dusty, gray sky. I stare up, unblinking, before an icon pops up in the corner of my vision. The CO is calling. I head briskly toward the briefing tent, gathered with hundreds of others.
"Our position is looking to be targeted by Alliance forces soon, troop composition and attack time unknown. All I know is that we're got some hours to dig in before we start seeing fire, so we need to prepare. Not much time, I know, but it's all we've got. A third of a day, at most. Your individual assignments will be handed out after this meeting." The commander droned on for some minutes after that, before dismissing us. I receive my assignment, as told. Gunner duty.
I arrive at my post shortly, and we set to work fortifying our location as best we can, keeping watch on the area and generally being aware of any small noise or strange bump in the land around me.
Suddenly, a scream tears the air as supersonic craft shoot low overhead, high yield missiles bursting open several artillery positions behind the line, as LOLO jumpers begin hitting the camp. Within moments, my gunners' nest is hit, and only one other soldier is alive in there with me, my good friend Alvren, who graduated the academy with me. We stand up and fire back as hard as we can, taking out any enemies unlucky enough to pop up in our sights. Minutes pass, and our guns take the lives of many a foe, and we grin in elation at the idea that we might hold, that we might win...
An enemy soldier bursts into our nest, and tackles Alvren as I'm turned around, firing at some enemies in the distance. I hear the struggle, and turn around just in time to see a knife tear into the throat of my friend. I stare at the corpse for a few seconds, giving the enemy time to stand up, but... Red. Everywhere. All I see is red, all I feel is rage. We'd been fighting these bastards for so long...
All I can do is scream at the top of my lungs as I drive toward the enemy, who is caught flat footed at the explosion of rage. I bash him in the faceplate with the butt of my rifle, taking him off balance before punching is neck. He tries to bring up the knife, but I pull my pistol and put some rounds in it, before proceeding to inflict as much damage to his head as I physically can.
After a few moments, all that remains of the enemy soldier's head is a dented helmet with a cracked plate, bits of flesh and brain matter seeping out alongside a deep, dark red. I stand up, and look around at the field, seeing our position beginning to yield, steadily, to the enemy. I heartily disagree with that idea.
I walk over to one of the gaps in our nest wall, and lift the machinegun that had been laying there. It will do nicely. I walk out of our nest and proceed to open fire on the enemies running around me. Our position will not fall. I will not fall.
I tear into another squad of troopers, who are taken by surprise at the sight I pose, and fire back quickly. I take hits, but my armor holds.
The next hours or minutes, I cannot tell, pass in a blur, punctuated only by feelings of victory at a kill or pain, at a wound.
Time resumes as I stand at a hill, my allies long dead as I stand before the oncoming onslaught of Alliance forces. My weapons had been exhausted, and I resorted to scavenging the dead for any ammunition I could find. The battlefield burns around me and is stained with the blood of thousands of men and women on both sides. Still, more stand before me, advancing on my position, that of a lone gunner on a hill, wounded, tired... NO. I cannot fall. I cannot fail. I fire upon the enemy, who try to swarm me, and I claim more, adrenaline enveloping my very being, assisted by stimulants and pure, undiluted, limitless rage.
Their advance falters, their attempts at taking the hill proving fruitless. A hypervelocity round nearly tears me apart, but I get to cover when I see the tank approaching, lift a rocket launcher, and fire. The armored rocket weathers the vehicles' interception systems and impacts the hull, sending the turret up in a blaze of fire and force.
I fire once more, taking wild shots at groups of soldiers to keep them down.
I begin to tire, my wounds wearing on me. A dozen bloodied, ragged and boiling holes announce the presence of bullet and laser wounds, the armor being the only thing keeping my body together at this point...
Another boom, and I'm sent flying. I see a tank I had apparently missed before, its main gun oriented toward me. I cannot feel my legs as I land. Must have lost them in the explosion.
The enemy begins advancing once more, and I bare my sidearm, firing on the approaching forces before that too runs out.
An enemy footman walks up to me, his posture gloating and victorious in my defeat. My helmet was damaged in the fight, and it is removed, exposing my bloodied, white face and reddened teeth, snarling at the enemy...before my lips turn up.
The sky glows above me, though the others don't realize it. I know what it means, though.
Columns of light reach down across the land, erasing thousands from existence. I smile as the Alliance soldiers panic and scream. I win.
I lay in the mud and blood, body shattered but spirit unbroken. Down, but not fallen.
I close my eyes and experience only euphoria. I do not even feel the heat and wind of the SHEL rendering my body less than dust.
A man jumps in shock, recognizing the voice.
“Shit, Sam, is that you?!”
“Y-ah, su-e is...Ev-yth-n-ood down th-re, Peter?”
Peter keeps adjusting the frequencies as his friend's voice starts to clear. Sounds...tired.
“Yeah, man. What about you?”
“I'm g-d...C-ld be be-ter...”
Peter knew what he meant. The battle up in space had...not gone well.
“I w-s lis-ning in o- s-me of our b-ys downst-rs...”
Peter grimaced at that.
“Yeah. We've got a warship down here, doing its best to tear us a new ass.”
“I c-n t-ke care of th-t.”
“What, you got some secret friends none of us knew about?”
Sam's next words made a pit in Peter's stomach.
“N-xt best th-g. Station b-ster I ha-nt used y-t.”
“...Sam, those don't have enough range to reach from your position.” Peter was looking at his friend's IFF icon on the sensor screen, holding a decaying orbit some twenty thousand kilometers up.
The radio was finished clearing up.
“We can find an alternat-”
“No. You won't.”
Peter shut up at that. It was true. There were no nearby artillery or intact aircraft or ships. Or...anywhere, really. They'd all been destroyed, or were in the drydocks.
“Dont worry. I'll pull up and out. Eject. Maybe.” A harsh cough and a splatter.
“Bird's gone to shit, though. Might not make the trip.”
“But will your body make it?”
“Million dollar question, Pete.”
Peter was silent.
Up in space, the cabin had begun shaking as the engines revved up their power, the spacebourne fighter craft barely holding together.
The F-56 Wyvern. Undisputed king of the skies... His crew was either dead or unconscious. He was the last one up. Enemy'd gone landward, and Samuel was the only unit able to act in any meaningful manner.
Flames began licking up the sides of the view, cameras warping under the heat, some going out entirely.
“Hey...Pete.” Sam rubbed his wounds through the airtight suit, voice tranquil.
Warning, extreme altitude drop. Caution, atmospheric entry in progress.
“Remember that...stupid song I used to sing all the time?”
“When we were kids, I'd always wanted it as a callsign whenever we'd play together.”
“The one you never shut up with when you found out your squadron name?”
Sam smiled. Altitude, 10k. Target zone locked.
“Yeah. Wanna sing it with me again? For memory's sake?”
“...sure, Sam. Whatever you want.”
A grin. “If I didn't know any better, Pete, I'd take that as somethin' bad...”
Some static as the communications fuzzed out.
“Sam...what the hell. Maybe some of the others'd join in.”
“They'd better. I've got this shit-” Cough, spit. Splat. Another glob of red. “-on harddrive.”
Sam pressed a button. Nothing.
A chuckle. “Well, shit. Took my music... fuck it. You know the words, don't you?”
“Yeah, heh. I do. Hard to forget 'em.”
“C'mon, then, Pete.”
“Hello you...Yes it's me...You can't come back. Flyin' free...Ya think ya found...all that you...need....”
Sam drifted off, awaiting the response.
“Fly away, fly away. To your new home. Across the seas.”
5k. It's coming close.
“Leave your nest, oh baby, be the best thing...that you've been...”
“Fly on, thunderbird fly! Fly on! Spread your wings to the sky!”
“Fly on, thunderbird fly!”
He could hear voices in the background, singing along. He could hear Pete choking up.
“On your own...and I'm alone...”
“In the shadow... of what we've done.”
“And I can't help, but think...”
“That some day, you'll be back home!”
On the ground, soldiers looked up at the streak heading for the enemy warship, tearing through the sky like a finger of god. The ship tried to fire upon it, but it was too small, coming in too fast for the damaged point defenses to touch it.
“FLY ON! THUNDERBIRD FLY! FLY ON! SPREAD YOUR WINGS TO THE SKY! FLY ON!”
1k. .9 .8 .7...
Silence. The channel clicked out.
Pete choked up, and fell to his knees, sobbing as the ground shook with the fury of an angry god.
On the surface, there were few cheers as the enemy vessel was destroyed. In honor of the blatant, final sacrifice of one of their own, few spoke words.
Their honor would be that of remembrance. To brand in memory the final act of Thunderbird 1-1, his call reaching across the field and bringing an end to the war that had plagued the land.
(Some time afterward.)
“...He's still remembered by everyone that was on that little chunk of land.”
“Are we ever going to meet Sam, daddy?”
Peter looked down at his young children, sadness in his eyes.
“Yeah, one day, kid. He'll be waiting for us, and you'll be able to tell him all about everything you've seen and everyone you've met. One day.”
AN: For the record, thinking up this story, and writing the last part especially...I was crying. I will say that without a doubt.