The ship shuddered and shook violently, its hull groaning and moaning even louder. "What was that?" 

XO Ford scanned his console, "Damn marine jugheads are blowing the ship up! They just detonated 2 grenades in Engineering!"

Captain Blake looked at the main tactical screen and listened in to the marine comms.

"Need backup! Royce is down!"

He closed his eyes remembering his first fight with the Swarm on Himpra Prime. He and the other troops of the 6th PDF have been deployed on the outskirts of the city. He remembered the sky being a beautiful purplish pink with white clouds in contrast to the horizon marred with plumes of black smoke. He watched dark lines appearing in the wheat fields three km away using his binoculars, until there was too many to count. 

The Swarm were approaching their defensive location rapidly in a massive wave of black chitin. Artillery fired and balls of fire spurted out among the dark lines, yet the Swarm pushed on relentlessly. Soon the order to open fire came, and he among a thousand others fired their weapons en masse.

'Captain?" XO Ford called out. "Are you alright sir?"

"Yes, just remembering some things." Blake looked at the timer. four more mins before entering the Eycthn Jump Point. So far their mains have been keeping the Swarm parasite cruisers at bay, but they learned and were staying mostly at the blind spot of Main Gun 1, effectively cutting down a third of their firepower.

Combined with the emissions from their own engines, sensors have not been very effective meaning their point defense was less effective and the spore seeds were landing on his ship more frequently.

From his experience and research released to the military by Fleet Intelligence, the Swarm was attracted to sources of energy like the fission reactor and thrust engines. The scientists are unable to determine how they see as they don't have physical eyes. It was widely speculated that they sense and communicate using some telepathic ways.

"Let the Marines do what they need to stop the Swarm," Captain Blake said. "If the Swarm don't kill us first..."

The ship groaned again as the pilot put the ship through another bout of evasive maneuvers. As the timer dropped to two minutes, Captain Blake gripped his armrest and ordered, "Warp engines on standby, pilot, push engines to 125% power. Once we are in warp space, cut the engines immediately!"

The seven massive Mitsubishi ST RX-78 Astrospace engines created a bigger plume of superheated plasma pushing the 35,000 tons of armored steel faster towards the Ecythn Jump Point. The four remaining Swarm parasite cruisers, seemingly sensing that their prey was trying to escape, also put on speed and "swam" closer to the United Nations of Man heavy cruiser.


"Staff! What do we do now? Section 4 just suffered over 80% casualties!" 2nd Lt Frank urgently asked Staff SGT Pike. "Put the survivors with Section 3?"

"Sir, I advise you to let the survivors recover a bit first, put them here to hold the bridge. Push Section 2 to help secure Engineering B, and move Section 1 to cover Engineering A." SSGT Pike said while tapping the map on his readout. "Hand the rest of our M7A1s out to the crew security details to help hold Engineering. Other than our M7s, nothing is effective enough against the scums."

"Can't we load armor piercing rounds? Or get the heavy guns?" 2nd Lt Frank asked worriedly. "We are taking unnecessary losses."

"Unless you wanna chance blowing half the ship to space. No sir." SSGT Pike sigh. "Let's move the section out. Better to bring more ammo along."

"Alright, Staff. We do it your way." 2nd Lt Frank said. He activated his comms and instructed Section 2 to advance towards Section 3's location and ordered the survivors of Section 4 to take over the guard post at the Bridge.

"Yes, Sir." SSGT Pike turned to the rest of the section manning the guard post outside the bridge hatch and yelled. "Alright pack it up! We are moving to Engineering A. Lambert and Gath, you 2 stay here and wait for relief from Section 4. After that head to the armory and bring 1 times 6.5 mm "C" type ammunition case to Engineering A. Do you apes understand?"

"Yes, Staff! One times 6.5 mm "C" type ammunition case! Aye!" Pvt Lambert and Pvt Gath chorused.

"Sgt Raman! Where are you?" SSGT Pike commed over the net.

"Y-yes, Staff?" Sgt Raman, I/C of Section 2 replied after a while.

"What are you doing? Get your section to Engineering B and I want you to unlock the armory and issue out the remaining M7s to security details and also wait for Pvt Lambert and Pvt Gath to draw ammunition. Then get your ass back to your section. You clear?" SSGT Pike spoke into his comms.

"Of course! My pleasure! Staff!" Sgt Raman replied, happy to know he could get out of harm's way. Ever since he had been posted onboard UNS Singapore as an armorer, as there was no senior NCO for Section 2, he was assigned to be the I/C and armorer. 

Most of the men don't like him, as he was not the ideal example of a fighting marine. With a slight pot belly and balding head, he struggled to squeeze into his suit, harness, and armor. He normally skipped the drills and exercises the rest of the men went through, claiming he needed to inspect his armory, leaving the running of his Section to the 2 I/C, Cpl James. 

When the sirens went off, he was totally terrified. He hid in his armory, using as many excuses as he could to avoid being deployed with the men till Staff Pike kicked his ass out of his hiding spot.

While he may have been a coward and was posted to UNS Singapore to keep out of trouble, his skills as an armorer were top notch. He was able to modify or even build guns from scraps and gun parts.

Sgt Raman puffed out his chest, turned and said in a self-important manner, "Cpl James, you're in charge now. Staff wants Section 2 to link up with Section 3 and I am supposed to head to the armory." He grinned happily. "New orders."

"Eh, roger that Sarge." Cpl James raised an eyebrow as he watched Sgt Raman scuttled away like some huge cockroach.

Sighing, he turned and spoke to the rest of the section who were watching Sgt Raman leave. "Ok new orders, Staff wants us to link up with Section 3. Let's go!"

"Fat Ramen is a joke, man." Pvt Mills said in a low voice to Pvt Bartley. "He always tries to hide in some dark corner away from all the fun! Ha!"

Pvt Bartley, standing over 2m tall, replied softly "You shouldn't make fun of the sarge. He's a good man inside."

"Come on! He was posted here due to him losing his marbles in the front lines. He's lucky they didn't shoot him for cowardice." Pvt Mills scorn. "Hey Corp! Why are we joining Section 3?"

Cpl James looked up from his readout and saw Pvt Mills together with Pvt Bartley walking next to him. Pvt Bartley looked like a huge lost bear without his usual heavy weapon, and the M7A1 in his hands looked like a toy. "Heard that Section 4 got it bad. That's why."

"Ah shit, that bad?" Pvt Mills gulped. He wondered if he made a right choice in joining the Marines instead of Fleet or any other branches. Am I gonna die here on this old metal tub? He thought.

"All hands prepare to enter warp space in 2 minutes! I repeat entering warp space in T minus 2 minutes!" The shipwide PA system announced.

A note from neo Koh

updated 25/01/2020

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About the author

neo Koh


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