6th Marines


Marines of the 6th Marine Division, on Gardel, towards the end of the war

Hi everyone. I am seriously considering writing another Marine story. Quail Pilot has somewhat inspired me and the Marines, or any ground pounders for that matter, have generally been under-looked in here. So I'm hoping to change that.

What I have below is a list of characters, which not all will appear in the beginning, along with weapons, and organization. If everyone could look it over and give me pointers on anything before I actually post the story I'd greatly appreciate it. I have tried to stay true to the WC Universe so if something is wrong let me know! I don't want to appear totally incompetent on here amongst other fans.

I have pulled my sources from End Run, Heart of the Tiger novel, and the Wing Commander Universe map. As for everything else its a mix of computer games, comics, books, and my own experiences as a "military brat."

Place: Gardel
Unit: 6th Marine Division, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Regiment, 3rd Battalion, 1st Company, 1st Platoon, 2nd Squad
Company CO: Captain Biggs
Platoon CO: 2nd Lt. Richtoven
2nd Squad:
Sgt. Paul "Cruiser" McKenneth (M, M47 rifle)
Cpl. Justine "Venus" Angelos (F, M47 rifle, Stenson-Drakon rifle with scope)
L. Cpl. Rich "Bunny" LeHavre (M, M47 rifle)
Pfc. Traci "Dixie" Lee (F, M47 with grenade launcher)
Pfc. Zachary "Zip" Naguchi (M, M47, radio operator)
Pvt. Annon "Rag" Baradai (M, M80 mass driver scatter gun)
Pvt. Michael "Tenor" Trayzk (M, M47 with grenade launcher)
Pvt. Edgar "Poet" Shelly (M, M80 mass driver scatter gun)
PO3 Amanda "Angel" Wright (F, medic, M45 (chopped down version of M47))

Thanks everyone for your time. I hope to post the first part this weekend or early next week after getting some feedback.

Bombadier (Yeah, I know, why aren't I writing a story about bombers? Because it would be hard to compete with the other great fighter stories out there.)


Rear Admiral
AFAIK, Marines don't use callsigns. Also, I'm not certain of this(especially not as far as WC is concerned) but I believe you are mixing ranks of multiple service branches. A PO3 is usually an Navy enlisted rank, and it would actually be higher rank than a Marine PFC. The other ranks are alright though.


There is a difference between callsigns and nicknames. Hey at least there is some one who also likes the marines in WC:D


Rear Admiral
QuailPilot said:
There is a difference between callsigns and nicknames. Hey at least there is some one who also lokes the marines in WC:D

Yeah, but nicknames usually don't apply to everyone in a squad.


and while the PO3 is a navy rank this denotes the groups navy corpman which as noted is their medic


Thanks Everyone

Thanks for the replys. Hopefully I'll get a bit more feedback before I post the first part, which will probably be Saturday.
I have decided to cut out some of the nicknames since it would get confusing and just tiresome to keep switching back and forth between three different modes of address for the main characters. As noted, PO3 is a navy rank but since I haven't seen anything about Confed Marines supplying their own medics, I'm assuming they work like the USMC. The parent organization (the Navy in both cases) supplies the medical personnel.
Right now it looks like there will be two main characters in the squad that will provide their own little insights and such. The others, right now, appear to be falling into the role of very strong secondary characters.
If anyone has any further suggestions or ideas feel free to chime in. The wonderous thing about computers is i can modify to my hearts content without having to start entirely over! Thanks for the feedback.



Update and First Part of Story

Ok, I have decided to cut out some of the nicknames. A valid point was raised about everyone not having a nickname and then I am too lazy to work out all the history behind the nicknames. Also switching between the different names for everyone would be too complex. So here's a revised list:
2nd Squad:
Cpl. Justine "Venus" Angelos Pfc. Zachary "Zip" Naguchi
Pvt. Annon "Rag" Baradai PO3 Amanda "Nightingale" Wright
Pfc. Traci "Dixie" Lee

Ok here is the story. Let me know what you think of this first part.

The 6th Marine Division on Gardel
Somewhere in the jungles of Gardel
“Marchii, start throwing some stuff their way!” Sgt. Paul McKenneth shouted as he nestled in closer to the log he was using for cover. Of course, the way the Cats were throwing down the fire it wasn’t going to last much longer. “Rodriguez!”

“Yo, Sarge, what you need?”

“Lay down some covering fire with the M80, we’ve got to flank this position!” Sgt. McKenneth looked around for the rest of his squad and singled them to begin moving towards the left. Hopefully, the thick growth and largish rocks would provide some additional cover while they moved. Bloop went the first grenade round out of Marchii’s launcher followed immediately by Rodriguez opening up with the M80. The jungle in front of their current position turned into shredded leaves, wood, and dirt. It looked like a shotgun blast to tissue paper. Over the constant chatter of the M80 McKenneth heard the grenade land with a ground shaking explosion. Even more jungle disappeared and was shredded. He signaled the rest of the squad to begin moving right away to the left and up the hill. Just as they started moving the Cats opened up again from their position further up the hill.

“Damn it Marchii, you missed!” yelled Cpl. Justine “Venus”Angelos as she began darting from cover to cover on the left. “How the hell can you miss with a grenade launcher?”

“It ain’t my fault! They must be really dug in up there, maybe even a bunker! I can’t even see what I’m raining grenades down on, just laser flashes!” Marchii shouted as he continued to fire off more grenades with his launcher. The M80 had been going non-stop since McKenneth gave the command to open fire. One thing was for sure they were coming back with a lot less weight than when they went in.

The rest of the squad continued moving up and to the left with the Sgt. taking the rear position. Rodriguez and Marchii kept up a constant rate of fire from their position hoping to keep the Cats from noticing the rest of the squad moving up. McKenneth figured they were about three quarters of the way there when Justine shouted from up ahead, “Spread out, we’ve got Cats coming our way!” Seemed the Cat in charge had the same flanking idea.

The squad immediately spread out finding any available cover that would have to protect them on two sides now. Up ahead and to their left where the Cats where continuing to pour fire into their previous position and their two squad mates were pouring it back. McKenneth moved up to where Justine was just as the Cats began firing on them. He popped his head over the rock and saw only three flashes from Cat weapons. Ok, this will be easy. Doesn’t look like any heavy weapons and we outnumber them. “Alright boys and girls, clear our front, we’ve got to keep moving!”

The squad opened up with everything it had, not really aiming at distinct targets but at the weapon flashes and guesstimating body positions of the Cats from that. McKenneth took a bead on a flash, moved his weapon down and to the right a bit and opened up with a quick burst. His flash stopped firing and to be on the safe side he fired some more into the general area.

“Sarge, I think its clear to our front.”

“Alright Justine. Baradai, Trayzk get out there and check. Stay low and don’t go where we lose sight of you. We’ll be right behind you.”

“No prob,” said Pvt. Baradai bouncing up from his position and moving at a crouch towards the ruined jungle in front of him. Pvt. Trayzk followed a few steps behind and to the left. Both were obviously tense since one of the Cats favorite tactics in a fight like this was to climb the damn trees and avoid the human’s counterfire. Hugging some largish trees about where they suspected the Cats of being, they quickly but throughly checked the area, including the trees, while the rest of the squad began moving up. All three bodies were found, one had died trying to climb a tree it looked like, and with the enemy accounted for they began moving out rapidly once more. “McKenneth here, Rodriguez, how are things down there?” he called into the tactical radio.

“No change here. They must really be dug in since Marchii must have lobed ten grenades at them. He’s only got eight left Sarge.”

“Alright, we’re almost to their position, have Marchii lob a few more then switch to his rifle.”

“Got it.” Rodriguez replied. McKenneth could here him faintly further back shouting out his instructions to Marchii.

“Alright squad, spread out, skirmish formation. If you see the Cats call it and open fire. We’ve got to get out of here before reinforcements show up.” The squad spread out in the jungle in a loose line abreast formation so hopefully someone would spot the Cats since they still didn’t have solid reference to where they actually where.

They all heard the last of Marchii’s grenades go off and then the higher pitched whine of his M47 joined with the deeper M80. A few seconds later, if that, probably no more than a couple of heart beats, Pvt. Baradai called a contact in over the tactical radio. Those close enough to him actually heard him shout out part of “Cats! On righ...” before the sound of a second M80 drowned him out. The squad quickly began collapsing on his position, moving like wraiths through the jungle, darting from cover to cover, but never really stopping. They had the Cats now.

McKenneth dove and rolled behind some type of large tree, Baradai was on the opposite side of the trunk keeping up a steady rate of fire. He looked out and saw where Marchii’s grenades and Rodriguez’s fire had been going. Marchii had been right. It was a damn bunker with supporting trench network! No wonder the grenades had little effect. This is going to be a close quarters fight. Just what I wanted, fighting Cats in their own little warren. Damn. “Baradai, keep up a steady fire on the on that entrance to the bunker proper. Squad, the rest of you get ready to toss some grenades and close right after they go off.” Saying this, McKenneth readied a fragmentation grenade in his hand then shouted “Let ‘em go!”


very good, so far the only problems i see are the consistant inconsistancies of him switching between first and last names depending on the squadmate. will probably read closer tommorrow when i have more time


6th Marines, Part 2

Part 2

A handful of grenades went sailing into the newly created jungle clearing and it appeared as if most actually landed in the trenches. Of course since the Cats weren’t stupid and had dug them in a zig-zag pattern the damage would be minimal. But it would clear areas for his squad to jump into. “Lets get moving” McKenneth shouted before even the first grenade had gone off. Just as he stood up the first grenade went off, followed by the others. By then the squad was already in motion, firing through the cloud of dirt and dust to keep the Cats down. Baradai kept a steady fire going on the bunker entrance and the far side of the trench network. Hopefully that would keep the Cats a little more concerned with cover over rapid movement.

McKenneth jumped into the trench and nearly fell over on his face. Lying there at his feet was an eviscerated Cat. Poor bastard was right there when a grenade went off. He keyed his tactical radio and told Marchii and Rodriguez to shift their fire to the right of their current position, this to further discourage Cats on that side of the bunker from moving up. Checking around real quick it appeared that everyone in this section of the trench was dead. He could see L.CPL. LeHavre at the next zag. “Whose occupying the end of the trench?” he asked over the radio while keeping an eye towards his front. The problem with a network like this was that there could be Cats in the next section and no one would know it. They had to clean up the trench line quickly and work towards the bunker.

“Just me and Edgar,”said Angelos. “Lots of dead Cats at this end, I think they were getting ready for a rush down the hill side. I hate to say it Sarge but I think we ran into a platoon here. I’ve got about six bodies here.”

Damn! That would outnumber us about 4 to 1. Still, we’ve kicked their butts so far. “Alright, Angelos, begin moving in towards the bunker. You know the drill everyone, hold position till you’re reinforced.” Taking a look back to make sure LeHavre was still there, McKenneth called to him. “LeHavre, check the corner, I’m going to do the same. If its clear move up to me, we’ve got to keep moving. I’m going to trust to the others to keep our tails clear.”

“Roger” came the reply back. McKenneth got down on his belly and slowly eased his head around the corner. Not seeing anything, alive anyways, he assumed a kneeling position and waited for LeHavre’s report. “Nothing back here Sarge. Not a single body, it looks like it was unoccupied since there’s no empty power packs on the ground.”

“Alright, move up here and lets start checking the next section.”

After killing a single stunned Cat they found McKenneth and LeHavre pushed up the trench towards the bunker. They had just one more section to go when the rest of the squad joined them. “Angelos, anything?”

“Nope, nada. The grenades did a number on them. We found dead Cats and pieces all over.”

“Alright, ladies and gentlemen. Lets frag and clear the rest of this lousy litter box.” McKenneth singled the squad to move out and finding no one in the next section they plastered themselves at the doorway to the bunker and around the first corner of the trench. “Trayzk, throw a grenade in there, LeHavre, secure the far side, and Angelos and I will clear it out. Lets go.”

Trayzk tossed his grenade inside and it went off. Dust blew out the door and the firing slits to the front. Before it had even cleared LeHavre raced in, firing his rifle on the run and trying to get to the far door before anyone could come through. Justine and McKenneth dove to either side of the doorway and looked around looking for targets. Two Cats were slumped over heavy repeating lasers with another lying in the middle of the bunker with his legs turned into so much shredded meat. Trayzk came in behind them and immediately began checking out the corners for survivors and booby-traps. Angelos moved up to the other door with LeHavre and checked outside real quick. Not seeing anyone she singled LeHavre to cover her while she moved up to the first corner and checked out the next section of trench.

“Marchii, Rodriguez, move up and join us, stay to the left. We haven’t cleared the right trench network and be on the lookout for Cats. Looks like a reinforced platoon up here possibly.” McKenneth clicked off and went over to where Trayzk was checking something out on the ground. “Baradai, move up and come in where we did. Join us in the bunker then head out and support LeHavre and Justine.”

“Got it Sarge. No movement to report on that right side by the way.” Baradai radioed back. The sound of the M80 cut off as Baradai obviously began shifting his position. It was amazing how quiet it was without the constant sound of lasers, mass drivers, and grenades going off.

Looking down to where Trayzk was kneeling McKenneth saw a large wooden door set at an angle in the floor. “Think it’s a trap Trayzk?” he asked.

“Hard to say Sarge. Could just be their storage area for food and power packs. Or maybe it’s the head Cats sleeping area. Want to check it out?”

“Damn straight. The Corps doesn’t pay us for useless speculation. Dead Cats and hard facts though, they pay for. Open her up but carefully.” Trayzk eased off to one side, McKenneth copying his movements on the opposite side, as he slowly felt around the edges looking for any simple trip-wires and anything that felt like it didn’t belong. Not finding anything overtly suspicious, Trayzk grabbed the handle and tensed. Looking up at the sergeant he nodded once as McKenneth readied his rifle and crouched down. How I hate moments like this. No telling what was on the other side of that door. The Corps sure doesn’t pay me enough for this.

With a finally tensing of his arm Trayzk threw open the door and McKenneth began sweeping the revealed area before the door was fully open. So far so good. Nothing by the door waiting to take my head off. Trayzk knelt down on the opposite side and began his own sweep. It appeared to be nothing more than a bare room with a Cat sized camp stool and table tucked into one corner. Almost in the middle of the room was a gaping hole in the ceiling, obviously Marchii had done some damage with his grenade launcher. The hole was irregularly shaped and roots and plant matter clawed against the edge of the hole as if desperately trying to cover it back up. Almost directly underneath the blast area was the body of a dead Cat. McKenneth quickly advanced into the room and kneeling down by the Cat began to search for any insignia, papers, and other pieces of intelligence. Trayzk had gone over to the table and was busy poking through some shattered equipment. McKenneth continued checking the pockets he could get to without having to roll the Cat over. There was a lot of blood around the body and he was a little wary about what he might see if he did roll him over. Besides, the Cat was huge. Taller, as was to be expected from a species like the Kilrathi, but it had to out-mass him by a good 2 ½ times. Might need Trayzk to help me with this one. Besides, he can stand in the puddle of blood and gore for a change. “Trayzk, did you find anything over there? And when you’re done, come over here and help me roll this carcass over. I still got to check his front pockets.”

Trayzk looked up from where he had been going through the pile broken equipment and quipped back, “You getting old Sarge or just lazy? Looks like this was a field radio here, but either the explosive blast or concussion did a number on it. No books or data readers over here so it’s a wash on its intelligence value.” Finishing his short statement he walked over to join McKenneth and looked over the body of the dead Cat. “I guess you’ll want me to take the messy end, uh?”

“Yep. Lets get this over with and get out of here.” McKenneth walked around the Cat and grabbed him around the waist while Trayzk grabbed him around the shoulders. They began to roll him over when all of a sudden McKenneth landed on his rear. “What the hell...?!” Looking down he realized what had happened. The Cat’s body had almost been torn in two at the waist and the force required to turn him over finished what the grenade had started. They now had two separate pieces of a dead Cat to check on. “Trayzk, check his vest for the usual, I’ll take this half.”

The two conducted their search in silence not finding much beyond a unit insignia, rank, and some personal ID. “Sarge, do you copy? This is Angelos, we just finished the sweep of the trench and out to the tree line. Nothing to report here. This section looks like it was recently completed. Still some entrenching tools laying about.”

“Thanks Angelos, good job and bring it back in. Keep your eyes peeled for Marchii and Rodriguez, they should be about here by now.” Just remembering the lack of intelligence they found on the CO? radio operator? he called her back, “Also check the bodies for any useful intelligence, we haven’t found anything illuminating here.”

“Will do, heading your way now.”

McKenneth looked over at Trayzk and then nodded for the door. Both men got up and headed for the door when there was an earth shattering explosion. Close by too, McKenneth could feel his eyeballs vibrating in their sockets from the shockwave. A cloud of dirt, from both the ceiling and the floor, was floating around beginning to make him cough as he shouted into his radio, “What the hell was that? Everyone report in. Say again, everyone report in!”


6th Marines, Part 3

“CPL Angelos here.”

“L.CPL.. LeHavre checking in.”

“PVT Baradai here. What the fu-“

”Stay off the line till everyone’s reported in!! Continue!”

“PVT Trayzk here.”

“PVT Shelly reporting.”

Then silence. An uncomfortable silence. Like the kind people have when first discovering a loved one has died. It’s not quite real yet and you’re just too shocked to really feel or do anything. “Marchii, Rodriguez, report. Marchii, Rodriguez report. If you can’t talk key your mic twice.” Nothing but silence answered McKenneth. “Marchii and Rodriguez report in.” Nothing but continued silence hung in the air and over the radio.

“This doesn’t look good.” Trayzk whispered mostly to himself, but since it was so quiet McKenneth couldn’t help in overhearing him.

“Everyone start looking for Marchii and Rodriguez. Should be somewhere to the front of our position. Be on the look out for mines.”

“Why mines Sarge?” asked Edgar.

“Because it was only one detonation and if it was artillery or a missile strike there would have been follow ups by now. So be careful!”

McKenneth went over to one of the firing slits and looked out. The explosion had been close so he might see something from here. He didn’t like what he saw.

Shit. Those two were due for some R&R when we got back to base camp. A still smoking crater was about 8 meters away and about 20 degrees from the firing slit to the right. He could see something on the edge of the crater, looked like an arm or maybe a leg, but it was hard to tell with all the damage done to it. Heck, it was even hard to tell if it was still attached to anything. McKenneth could see Baradai’s M80 lying just a few meters away almost in front of him, further back towards the crater he made out what looked like another body or Marchii’s pack. Hard to tell with the smoke still blowing around.

Trayzk walked out and climbed the lip of the trench and pulled out his combat knife. Slowly he inserted it into the dirt at an angle feeling for any mines. Damn. Hope he’s careful. If the Cats planted any mines with a side contact fused he and I are screwed. McKenneth walked outside the bunker and stood behind Trayzk watching him work. Just then the rest of the squad joined him. “Shelly and LeHavre get out there and join him. We aren’t leaving them behind but we’ve got to pull out fast.”

“Got it.” Aping Trayzk, LeHavre and Shelly dumped their packs and took out there knives and began on either side of him. In a short time they had crawled, poking at the dirt and sweating every second of it, the eight meters or so to the blast site. “Nothing left of them! Nothing! I’ve got pieces all over the place!! Shit! I can’t tell what belongs to who!” Shelly shouted back, his voice barely containing the rage and anguish.

“Get it together Private. We’re Marines and we aren’t leaving those two for the Cats. Baradai, get some rain gear together and we’ll carry them out in that.” Angelos was very cool with the orders she had just issued but McKenneth could hear the pain underneath it.

“Angelos, get on the horn with command. Have someone come give us a lift out of here.” McKenneth issued the order without even looking at her and watched his squad work. Trayzk took the rain gear from Baradai and began wrapping a body in it. Shelly and LeHavre were doing the same, McKenneth saw them pick up an arm and place it in the second set of rain gear with another body. Or parts of a body. Damn, what a horrible way to go. At least it was quick. And the families will at least have a body to come visit. Assuming we can hold this planet and eventually win the war. If.

“Sarge, got command. They have an extraction for us. The pickup is two klicks due west from here. We’ve also got some top cover for the lift out, which will be a nice change for once.”

She began policing up the others gear so it would be ready to move out. “Alright, bring it back in. We’ve got a lift coming and we got two klicks to cover to get to the extraction point. Trayzk, you’ve got tail. Make sure you drop a satchel charge here. LeHavre, you got point. Baradai, you are slack. I’ll take the 3rd slot. Angelos you and Shelly carry them out.” Saying this McKenneth went back inside the bunker where his squad could hear him breaking something. He came out a short while later with some lengths of metal tubing and plastic rods.

“We’ll make a crude stretcher, carry them out in that.” He quickly began laying the tubes and rods out, in a series of H’s. Reaching into his pack he pulled out some trusty Marine green 5-50 cord. Why its called 5-50 cord I don’t know. Sure is useful though. He quickly lashed the series of H’s together, making a frame for them to lay the two bodies on. They were no longer man sized nor the same weight they had been just minutes before. Which is why he could do this and take them out. “Load them up, grab your packs. Angelos I’ll take yours. Keep your ammo and water on you though. Shelly, same goes for you, give your pack to Baradai.”

Looking around and seeing that Trayzk was waiting for them to move out so he could set the satchel charge and not seeing anything else that needed doing he signaled them to move out. LeHavre disappeared into the trees to the west, followed a short distance by Baradai. After a minute, McKenneth moved out following them. He could hear Angelos and Shelly pick up the stretcher with their two dead comrades on it and follow him into the jungle.

Two hundred meters in there was a loud explosion, muffled somewhat by the jungle, from the location of the bunker. At least we didn’t leave anything for the Cats to use. And they aren’t getting their buddies back unless they can reconstitute hamburger meat into a Cat. Serves them right, bastards. He continued following LeHavre and Baradai deeper into the jungle and towards the extraction point.


I hate this place. It’s a hell hole. I hate the rain, I hate the mud, and I hate the bugs. Especially the bugs. Even the bugs have bugs. Why couldn’t I get a nice posting to an orbital station or a carrier? Been here only 18 hours and everything I own is already wet or muddy or both. The Cats can keep this place, hell I’ll pay them to keep it! Pfc. Zachary “Zip” Naguchi wondered why the Confed wanted this planet back. Sure, it had once been human but so had a lot of other places in the long war. As he glumly considered his rotten luck in getting assigned to this camp he trudged down the muddy path towards the mess tent.

Still being in the repo depot and not assigned to a unit yet he had just finished a job of helping unload a supply shuttle and restocking some of the defensive batteries with anti-personnel rounds. He was tired, sweaty, dirty, and hungry. Just then his foot slipped on a loose piece of packing material and next thing he knew he was looking at the grey sky. Which wouldn’t be bad, lying down, except he was in the mud. Again with the mud. This was my last decent shirt. Damn how I hate this place. Picking himself up he didn’t even bother to wipe himself off but continued resolutely towards the mess tent. At least he would be somewhere dry for his meal.

Stepping into the mess tent he looked around quickly, and not seeing much of a crowd and no one he knew, proceeded to the chow line. Grabbing a tray and silverware he shuffled quickly through the line trying not to listen to the sounds of congealed grey goop as it was dumped on his tray. Why would I ever leave home and Mom’s cooking for this? You would think the Corps would like to get some use out of me before they killed me with food poisoning or starvation.

Grabbing a seat at an unoccupied table Naguchi slowly began to eat, not really savoring anything, just eating because he had to eat. Somehow, someway, the cooks in the Corps had found a way to make all prepared food in the mess tent look the same three general shades of grey, green, or brown. Even the vegetables didn’t look right. It didn’t help matters that everything was plopped together in the same bin on his tray. Oh well, its all going to the same place in the end. Luckily, Naguchi’s father had been in the Confederation Army and had told him a little trick to make anything palatable. Even military food. Add tabasco sauce and never be without it. After a few liberal dashes of tabasco sauce the food at least had some flavor, whether it was supposed to be hot and spicy, only God knew.

Resuming his eating Naguchi looked around kind of hoping someone he knew from the shuttle ride down would walk in. So far no luck. Even though the shuttle had been packed most of the enlisted personnel had been specialists and more senior than him. Still any familiar face would have been welcome, even just to say hi. Not really paying attention too much to his surroundings he missed the person standing next to him. When the bench jostled with someone sitting down Naguchi looked over to his right.

What he saw nearly sent him into a choking fit. A Cat he could have dealt with. An officer he knew how to handle, a senior enlisted he knew how to respond to. But not this. It was the last thing he expected to see sitting next to him while he was filthy, tired, and not suitable for polite company. If Mom could see me know, she skin me alive for looking the way I do with this person sitting next to me. “Dress to impress” she would say. Reaching for his glass of juice he quickly drank some down, mostly to cover his stunned expression, but also to keep from spitting his food back up. That would not do. Definitely not do right now.

Part 5

Sitting next to him was another Marine Pfc. This Pfc. was in a set of clean, if comfortable and used looking, battle dress uniform like everyone else in the tent. Except this set happened to be clean. Which was one abnormal thing about it. The other, and as far as Zachary was concerned, the more important abnormal point was what exactly was occupying that set of clean battle dress. It was a woman.

Sure, women were in the Corps. Nothing wrong with that and they were among some of the best fighters and commanders in the Corps. No it wasn’t that. It happened to be the fact that this particular female Marine had sat down next to Zachary. And that she was the prettiest thing he had seen in a couple of months that wasn’t a hologram or a two-dimensional image. And the fact she was clean. He still couldn’t get over that fact. Everyone, from the highest officer in the camp to the latrine orderly, had some mud on them. Maybe not as much as Naguchi, but everyone had it. But not her.

“Mind if I sit here?” she asked. Not getting a response from Naguchi, who had been staring at her with stunned silence, she asked again. “Private First Class Naguchi, mind if I sit here for lunch? I assume since you’re a Pfc. you can speak. Can’t you?”

Naguchi realized she had asked him twice now and he’d better say something before she got fed up and walked away or thought he was completely brain dead. Of course as good looking as she was she was probably used to this lack of verbal response from the male population. “Uh...Yeah...Sure. Make yourself comfortable.” he finally managed to get out just as it looked like she was reconsidering sitting there after all. “My name is Zachary Naguchi. Been on planet for just under a day.”

“Hi Zachary. I’m Traci Lee, but you can call me Dixie. I just got here and the 1st Sgt. in charge of our group told us to scrounge up some chow then report to the repo depot in an hour.”

“Well you haven’t missed much so far. Just your fair share of rain, mud, and bugs.” Noticing how unenthusiastic she appeared to be looking at her food, Zachary took his bottle of tabasco sauce and tapped her on the forearm with it. Traci looking up from where she’d been vainly trying to sort out her food into recognizable items, smiled and took the battle from him.

“Thanks, I have no idea where my gear is or I would have brought my own. Is the food always this bad or is this just special?” Saying this she began adding a large amount of tabasco sauce to each of her grey, green, and brown piles that were on her tray. Even the pile that looked like vegetables. If one closed their eyes and pretended they were green, orange, and other vegetable colors. “So what’s your MOS?” she asked trying to keep the conversation going and not look at her food too much.

Looking over at her again Zachary couldn’t help but notice how intently her blue eyes were studying him. They were the darkest shade of blue he had ever seen, so dark they appeared almost black, but it was like looking at a drop of oil. The way they collected and reflected the light he swore he could see a thousand different shades of blue in her eyes. It was like looking out on the night sky that very last moment before the last ray of light disappears beyond the horizon. He was still looking at her eyes, not having responded to her question, when some survival instinct kicked in and he realized he’d been quiet too long. “Uh...uh...” was all he was able to stammer before being interrupted.

“Hahahaha. Don’t worry Zachary, I don’t bite and I don’t kick little lost puppy dogs. That’s exactly what you remind me of at this moment and I’ve always had a thing for lost puppy dogs.” Traci replied in a lighthearted and friendly voice.

This just made Naguchi even more awkward but he realized he had to say something. Preferably the answer to her original question. If only she wasn’t so good looking. Her laugh is must be what God hears from the angels. I’m never going to live this down if I keep acting this way. At least my sister isn’t here to see this! Taking a discreet breath of air Naguchi gathered up his courage and will, which were somewhere in fantasy land, and issued his reply to her question. “My MOS is just your standard Marine grunt, one rifle and assorted equipment. My secondary is as a radio operator. This is my first tour out here on the front. What about you?” Well he managed to get it all out without stumbling over it like a drunken pilot.

“Ditto, for the primary MOS. Secondary is intelligence. This happens to be my second tour out here on the battle lines. My first was in Vespus helping to put down Kilrathi raiders in the system.” Traci studied Naguchi a little more closely and finally noticed that his entire backside of his uniform and head was still caked in mud. “So what happened to you there,” she asked indicating his uniform.

“Oh, nothing. Nothing at all. Just decided I would take an unexpected break and look at the sky for a minute or so,” Zachary replied in a light hearted manner and with a smile on his face. That had always been something he’d been good at, laughing at his little mistakes and quarks.

Just as he was about to shovel some more food in his mouth this horrible stench came wafting by him. Looking around quickly he noticed a small group of Marines, including a sergeant and two corpeals sitting at the table behind him and Traci. They looked like hell. Scruffy, even dirtier than him, if that was possible, all the men were unshaven, and they looked like they were going through the motions of being in the mess tent and eating. He noticed several others, Traci amongst them, studying the newcomers. Guess you can tell who the newbies are around here.

“Did you just get in from the bush?” Traci asked without a hint of fear in her voice. She’s braver than I am. I would have at least let them finish their meals.

“Yeah what of it?” a scruffy looking corpeal replied. Naguchi could see his name tag said LeHavre on it. The man appeared OK but there was something about him that just put Zachary on his guard. It was the eyes. They were normal, non-descript brown, standard brown, a thousand other people on the base probably had the same color. But there was something in them and they never stopped looking around the mess tent. They never stopped looking around the mess tent, just kept roving from one point to another, always looking for something and not seeing it. It was a little bit disturbing.

“Just curious, could smell you guys before you sat down. How long were you out there?” she replied evenly, again without any fear in her voice. Naguchi wished he was anywhere else but here at this moment. The way the five of them were staring at the two privates made Zachary feel like he had a target painted on his body. Zachary did not want the sixth guy to turn around. He was one of the largest Marines he’d seen. He had to be at least 2.2 meters tall and weight close to 225 pounds. He just sat there with his back to the two newbies but it was like having a grizzly bear right in front of you. Any second you expected your head to get taken off.

The man slowly turned around and looked both Zachary and Traci over. His gaze, while not as cold as LeHavre’s still sent shudders through Zachary, lingered on their name tags. Pulling a piece of old fashioned paper out of his pocket he looked at it, then at their name tags again. “Oh shit” he muttered. “They had to stick my squad with two babes in the woods pogies. Well if this ain’t great for you.” Looking back up, like he hadn’t spoken he continued to look the two privates over. “You two Pfcs Traci Lee and Zachary Naguchi?” he asked in a neutral voice.

“Correct Sergeant. Neither one of us have been on planet long. Anything we can help you with?” Zachary managed to get out. No sense in letting Traci think he was afraid of some dirty Marines.

“Wellll...for starters you can get over here. Bring your trays. If we like you enough we might let you eat your meals.” saying this he waved them over and gestured to empty spots on the bench. “I’m Sgt. McKenneth, this is Cpl. Angelos, L.CPL.. LeHavre, Privates Trayzk, Shelly, and Baradai. We are the 2nd squad of the 1st platoon. And you’re our new squad mates.”

Zachary and Traci both stopped where they were, not quite in but not quite out of their seats while they digested this piece of news. The reaction from their new squad was less than enthusiastic. “Shit! Sarge, why did we have to get them? There has to be some more experienced people out there we can tap?” Pvt Shelly asserted and pleaded at the same time.

“Yeah Sarge. I’m with Edgar on this one. Why these two? We saw the replacements coming in when we landed, someone must have more experience than these two.” Pvt Trayzk chimed in with his opinion.

Cpl Angelos jumped into the conversation right on the heels of Trayzk’s comment, “Sarge, look at her. She’s not even dirty! She can’t have been on planet more than an hour. And him!” She pointed her finger at Naguchi like she wanted to impale him on it. “He looks like he sleeps in the swamp! Can’t even keep his uniform decent here at base camp! What’s he going to be like out in the field?”

“Stow it. I have my orders and so do these two. They are now part of our squad. As such you will at least maintain the fiction of common courtesy amongst you.” Sgt. McKenneth had laid down the law and he expected it to be followed. “Ms. Lee, says here you worked as a spotter for a sniper back on Vespus?” McKenneth waited for her to reply before moving on.

“Yes Sergeant. We had 22 confirmed kills there.” Traci replied with a hint of pride and satisfaction in her voice.

“Mr. Naguchi, you’re some hotshot radio operator according to this piece of paper but without actual extensive training. Is that also correct?”

“Yes Sergeant it is. My parents run a small electronics and computer supply company back home, its always been a hobby of mine. I guess the Corps figured I didn’t need more than the basic course on military equipment and procedures.” Zachary replied promptly to the question. The sergeant didn’t seem like a person one wanted to keep waiting if one liked breathing.

McKenneth merely grunted at each of their answers. “Well finish your meals. You’ll be boarding with us in our shelter so grab your gear from the repo depot. I’ll introduce you to our Lt and company CO after you’re squared away.”

“Got it Sergeant.” both Traci and Zachary replied on top of each other.