Back to the green: Chapter 2

Cause and effect:

Private First Class Dante David Norton, third battalion colonial marines. An American by blood. To the point where he’d eat only the cornbread ration during his service. Born in an American patriotic family, Dante always was enthusiastic about anything related to his country. It was after all his primary filter of information. When something was American it was good. American army was the good guys, its allies were good but not as good and the rivals if not enemies the goofy incompetent bad guys. It was all plain and simple to him. Clear as day. He looked up to the army. But most of all the marines. They were the real life equivalent of a superhero to him, even as he was nearing his 18th birthday. Fighting where no man dared go, giving their lives to protect their home, to be part of something bigger and noble. And so Norton gifted himself with his enlistment in the marines when he became of age.

While bootcamp was certainly not pleasant his joy of even getting to partake in the process overshadowed it. He worked hard and he was rewarded. He became a fully fledged marine, born to kill, brotherhood and all the relevant. He graduated . It was not simply him being determined. He was good at it. And those who worked with him saw it. He had made friends. He was certainly not the best but he was satisfied. His family attended his graduation and his mother hugged him with tears streaming down her eyes. He noticed that his fathers eyes were also watery as he shook his hand with a smile as wide as his face. They had given birth to a true patriot. He was barely 19 at the time. Most at that age had a job or went to college. He was going head first into a warzone.

They were going to the Neroid Sector, some shithole far from home filled with commies and scum. To his displeasure he was assigned a cargo technician for one of the nearby bases. Where he was there was but stories of the men and women that fought and died when he could but dream of being there with them. He had expressed his disappointment to the battalion commander and after a year he finally got what he asked for. His first deployment. He is deployed in an outpost frequently hit by CLF guerrillas. There he met again with some of his friends from basic. At first he was very excited but his excitement died quickly as he looked at his friends faces. The gaze they gave him might as well had been from a dead man. He did not question his cause but what he saw in his friends eyes concerned him greatly. He did not take long to understand.

It was in the dead of night. The entire barracks was waken up by the sound of automatic weapons firing. Everyone rushed off their bunks and to the armory to get ready. Norton had his boots on already since he was next on guard. However as the crowd ran to the armoury a flash was seen. A blinding one. Then ringing to his ears. Norton realises he is on the ground head first. He tries to get up but when he raises his eyes his mind freezes. A severed foot is rolling to his knee. He looks up and witnesses in shock and horror as his friends and brothers lie dead or mutilated on the ground next to a large crater. He stays like that staring for a few seconds until a marine grabs him by the arm and shoves him towards the barracks. He can’t hear his screaming in his ear but he knows he is told to arm up. He rushes almost stumbling into the armory and gets his helm and armor on. He grabs the first rifle he sees. It is a M4RA. He loads it and grabs couple AP mags, shoves them in his the armor pouch and rushes out. The scene is chaotic.

Explosions rock the outpost as marines hide and fire their weapons to an unseen enemy. He can’t hear any of it, only feel it. He sees a M56D nest letting loose in the dark when a rocket hits the ammo crate next to it. The nest is obliterated and Norton takes cover behind some sandbags as debris fly over his head. Then dark figures emerge out of what was previously the MG nest. He without thinking raises his rifle. He shoots the first one where their head should have been and it falls limb into the ground. He puts two in the chest of the second and it falls down rolling. Third gets one in the throat and in the head falling forward head first. At that point some of the marines managed to grab weapons and return fire to the intruders. His hearing returns and the ringing is exchanged with a storm of gunfire as the guerrillas storm the outpost from multiple directions. He hears the marine next to him call for air support as he shoots at every muzzle flash he sees. To his surprise every few rounds he fires the flashes are reduced by a little. He pays little attention to that as bullets whistle by his ears. Then he sees a light again.

A UD-4 dropship flies overhead with its floodlight on and begins to engage targets with its GAU and rockets. Just then Norton sees that the guerrillas are retreating so he raises his rifle and empties his mag as they fall one by one like flies. Only when they vanish into the dark, dropship after them does he lower his rifle and stands up. He looks around. Most of the outpost is in flames or demolished and there are bodies everywhere. Most he can see are marines. He walks to one he recognises. It was a friend of his from basic. His eyes are wide open staring into nothing and he does not move. Norton leans in to take a better look. His right half upper torso was gone from the shoulder. His face on that side was flayed and he was missing his arm. Norton realised what that stare they had given him was as he looked at his once friend lie motionless on the ground with the same stare.

Norton was later told that out of the 80 men in that outpost 11 managed to return combat able. The mortuary officer came to meet him after having been to the sight himself. He informed him that to his knowledge most of the marines were packing M41As during the attack. He had stacked 20 or so bodies with wounds by a marksman rifle. He said “You made the bastards pay for every marine they killed. And it wasn’t few. I will be reporting this to the battalion commander. I feel like your potential is limited by your assignment.”. And so he did. An investigation was held and it was determined that 26 CLF guerrillas were killed by him. He was awarded a silver star for his exceptional marksmanship under immense pressure and for holding his ground long enough for reinforcements to arrive, and thus saving the lives of dozens of injured marines. But it didn’t feel like he had won. Instead he was filled with shock and pain. For the first time in his life he could not care less about his country. Everything he had thought of the marines and of his country were put to challenge. He even considered a discharge, until the news of his parents deaths came in.

They died one after the other. Reason being a failure of the state to cover for the costs of treatment of his father. After his death his mother did not take long to follow. Norton could not even attend to the funeral. All of it was nothing but a bureaucratic fuck up. But it cost him his parents. And at that point he lost all of his crumbling faith to his country. He had nowhere to go. That was when he decided to stay with the marines. The corp was the only place he could turn to. Killing the only thing he was good at. He decided that all those things were the truth. His truth. And after his feat in that disastrous outpost raid he had the credibility to advance. He was not promoted as per his request. But he was put into the more select marine squads. He became a marksman and would sometimes be included in forward recon missions. He saw combat in multiple planets for a few years with dozens of combat drops and multiple confirmed kills. He refuses to this day a promotion in fear that he will lose the one thing that keeps him going. However that one thing is the reason he had lost his friends yet again.