It was impossible to keep still.
Everything around him shook and jumped with every moment. It was also impossible to even try to nap, so he opened his eyes. The small metal compartment jostled the rest of the squad around in a uniform manner. It seemed like every pothole on this country road was being hit. Sparek knew that it was cliche to say that and he hated cliches, but this was clearly one of those times where a cliche was meant to be taken seriously.
Leather handles dangled and danced from the metallic ceiling in unison. The engine, though quiet compared to most other machines of its kind, hummed a loud monotonous tune through the chassis and framework of the armoured personnel carrier. Equipment was stowed perfectly above them; strapped down, clamped down, and magnetised to their fixtures. He envied them their comfort until he realised that he was strapped into his seat too, forced to enjoy every jerking motion that the vehicle shared.
“Wheeled APCs,” he mumbled.
It was Saethwyr who shouted. Maybe. Someone had shouted but it was Saethwyr who was looking at him. He was strapped in too, and the look on his face betrayed his dislike of the motions.
Sparek returned the shout although he kept his eyes closed just in case he was wrong. “Wheeled APCs! They’re-” a particularly sharp dip in the road interrupted him. “They’re bastards! Stealthier. Quieter than tracks they said. Won’t hear you coming, they said.” He opened his eyes to see half of the chosen men squad grinning at him. They were all sat in their black gear: carapace armour, fitted to wear, covered their bodies from the neck down and weapons were strapped to their chests and limbs in holsters and two-point slings.
“At this rate” called a thick Russian accent, “the rebels will hear motion sickness before carriers.” You could barely hear the squad laughing over the Serpent class APC’s movement although it was plain to see everyone’s morale was enlightened by Yuri’s wisecrack. Nobody seemed to notice that he didn’t have to raise his voice to make himself heard over it.
Sparek looked to the seat opposite. The captain of his regiment, Clara, sat there. Although strapped in like the rest of them, she looked as tempered as she often did, and Sparek was somewhat disquieted by her ability to not be as disturbed in her seat as the rest of them. She sat there, forced to move along with the serpent-class carrier, but her movement seemed minimalised. She didn’t smile like the rest of them. Instead she sat looking at the bulkhead door to the driver’s compartment, half eaten ration in hand.
“We’re close,” she said.
Sparek looked to his watch. She was right. The driver sent no complaint over the comms and they were due to arrive at the deployment zone in five minutes. They must be on time. It was so: announced by a harsh static the driver’s voice came as an indistinguishable statement. What everybody was now looking at was the bright green light beneath the dull red one that was sat above it near the exit ramp.
The chosen squad of 9th Union Marines looked to their colonel. By this time Sparek had unbuckled himself, altered the black bandana on his head and turned to address the company.
“There’ll be nothing left but ghosts and shadows.”
+ + +
OPERATION T-MINUS 00:01:02
– by Kier Sparey
© Copyright Kier Sparey 2014