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The Gruesome Side of War - Part II

Posted on Tue May 31st, 2022 @ 3:51pm by Lieutenant Commander Shaille Levine

Mission: The Koldaran Encounter

Shaille was no stranger to hostile situations, she'd been in her share since joining Starfleet, but this was unlike anything she had ever encountered. There was nothing she had ever experienced that was even remotely close to the stench of death in the air, the rotting bodies of the Koldaran that littered the wooded areas around the walls of the village. She could hear the sounds of another attack on the temple, it sounded like it was coming from behind again.

The Koldaran advances were becoming more persistent and more adventurous, even in the short amount of time she had been on the surface. From what the crew of the Astraea crew had said, the attacks to the rear of the temple were a new strategy that the Koldaran had employed.

Regardless, in that moment she found herself silently praying that the assault on the village and the temple would be enough to distract the Koldaran and keep them occupied while the Federation team completed their objective.

"Over here" she whispered hurriedly to the rest of the small group. "There's another group of bodies, just over there, about a hundred yards away."

Dirk ran lowered to try to make a smaller target in the darkness. The group of bodies were sprawled on the ground, some with clean phaser wounds others were torn by debris from damaged buildings nearby. "Let's try to get the least damaged stuff that we can," he said as he began pulling off a helmet and the stuffing it into his pack.

Hailey joined him within seconds, eyes constantly on the swivel as she stopped to physically check as many of the bodies for lifesigns without using her tricorder, which would give off light. None of the bodies she checked had any warmth to them, none had pulses. She moved to the edge of the group to cover everyone, even as she patted down the closest body in search of anything useful with one hand, the other holding the rifle up and ready, just in case.

The dead littered the ground, left where they fell with no regard for the dignity or sanctity of the dead. Their own brothers and sisters abandoned to the same piles as their enemy. That was the Koldaran way. Though they hadn’t been here long enough to really begin to rot, there was one thing clear: The Koldaran had a odor to them that was best described as “Moist and Unpleasant”.

Their armor was bright red, moulded to resemble a shell or some form of support, while their helmets had a wide blackened visor, perhaps to filter out the harsh sun. Harsh to them, maybe. The armor itself wasn’t hard to remove, but it did have some form of vacuum seal around the bodies within, and removing it was difficult before that seal was broken. The pieces that failed, that allowed their occupant to die, were easier to remove.

Easier, but still the armor clung to the bodies of their charge. Literally. Thick strands of some form of mucus or sludge tethered the armor to the soldier, and their entire bodies were covered in a thin layer of the stuff, drying quickly when exposed to the elements. The simple examination of their body showed no signs of life and no warmth to their forms, but left Hailey with a generous sample of their bodily mucus coating.

Theirs was the most rudimentary of biologies. Simple stomachs, simple hearts, simple skeleton. In fact, their armor seemed to also help support their own body posture as they marched, a form of artificial exoskeleton to help support their crude, almost underdeveloped bodies. Under the helmet showed their hideous visage. A simple mouth with jagged protrusions that served as teeth, and short eyestalks that held their visual organs up. No hair, not a single strand anywhere on their entire form.

Every body that Hailey walked over to inspect, Ichiko followed shortly behind. She took out a small knife, the blade a black material that had the shine taken out of it. Every body that Hailey touched, Ichiko stuck that knife somewhere specific in the chest cavity. If this thing had ribs, it would have been a stab through one of the bones. But it didn’t seem to have ribs. Just flesh, stink, and thick slime.

Every single body got the same treatment. Even those that were missing parts of their body from the trauma of what killed them. Find a body, stab. Hailey was checking for life. It seemed Ichiko was making sure they were dead. “They don’t have hearts. Not the kind you’re looking for.” she advised Hailey. “Only the officers do. Only the adults..”

Emony kept close to Henry and Camille as they approached the bodies. The stench was awful and it was everything she could do to not lose her lunch. Death was rarely as clean or orderly as people thought it to be. A solid rock offered some cover, so Emony got behind it and took a moment to look ahead, her eyes sweeping the horizon and skyline first. She then regarded the Koldaran dead again as the others set to work.

“...the Academy lectured pretty heavily about how the Jem’Hadar were bred for war. So the term…it seems just to say things like “heightened reflexes” or “dependant on their masters” or “cannot consider other viewpoints”...” She reflected in a low whisper, “This. This is something beyond that. Something both sinister and tragic…”

“C’est fascinant,” Camille whispered to herself as she made her own examinations, listening in to what Hailey and Ichiko were doing nearby. Her tricorder was gathering data as she helped claim the pieces and components in the best condition for their use.

“We’ve never recovered any piece of Koldaran art or music that wasn’t also propaganda. We know next to nothing about their society except that they follow their officers orders and they worship their admirals like gods.” Ichiko continued while casually ‘double tapping’ the bodies. “We’ve never seen even a picture or an image of an Admiral. We know nothing about them, except for the same thing we know about every Koldaran alive…”

“They’re the enemy.” another stab, this one gave a twitch as a reflex. Or maybe she hit a lung and the deflation made it twitch. Either way, that earned it a second jab.

“Is it safe to beam one back to the Pennsylvania?” Camille asked, eyes turning to her Captain but also looking to the local expert. She knew she could learn much more in her lab, even if it was from a corpse that was badly damaged.

“As long as it’s dead.” Ichiko responded. It was a brutal shift, to see someone who not just three hours ago was almost pleasant to be around turn into someone so cold. It wasn’t cruelty, just wartime efficiency. These were her enemy. This is what the Federation had to look forward to in the Delta Quadrant. It was easy to think of the Quadrant in terms of “Borg” and “Not Borg” as far as how to deal with threats but this was a different dynamic. The Koldaran were hostile for the sake of expansion, brutal to a point, and every world was ripe for the taking regardless of who was already on it.

“But that’s not my call.” she added after a moment.

"We will discuss this later" Dirk said quietly, "We have our mission objectives, retrieving a cadaver for study isn't one of them."

“I would recommend holding off,” Shaille responded as she kneeled to the ground, rifle shouldered, diligently working to remove the armour and the helmet from the alien in front of her. ‘Transport of any kind is a dead giveaway of our current location. If you want a new toy, we can get one when this is over. I’m sure other ships would like to get their hands on one as well, but not as much as the Koldaran want to get their hands on us.” She flicked a hand, copious amounts of goop flying off her hand and landing on the leaf littered ground with a wet ‘thwack’. “Gods this stuff is disgusting.”

“As disgusting now as it was then.” Ichiko remarked, “But you have an excellent point. We can pick out fresh cadavers when we’ve finished the task.”

“And I’m going to want to be in on it, or at least get the data from it.” Hailey wiped her hand on her pants leg, “After I get a new uniform, that is… I don’t think this is going to wash out.” She looked at Ichiko, “You know they’re already dead, right? No need to desecrate their bodies any more than we have to.”

“I know this one is dead.” Ichiko countered. She was silent for a moment, “I fought the Koldaran while serving my Three. I remember every offensive, every ambush. I remember everyone sent home in bags. In boxes. In memory. I remember every disfigurement, every cry for help from a wounded son or daughter of Ts’usu used as bait to draw us out into sniper fire.” she fixed Hailey with a glance, “Desecration? Them? You don’t get to use that word. Not here. Not up to your knees in the dead of a people that couldn’t defend themselves.”

“Karera wa tekidesu.”

Hailey pressed her lips together hard for a moment, but shook her head, “We are better than them, ma’am, we don’t have to stoop to their level in order to defeat them.” Her gaze held defiance… and knowledge, “I’m not a white knight of pure heart, I am very familiar with hate, too familiar. I’ve done things that I’m not proud of, that I’d never do again. I’ve seen battlefields where this,” She gestured to the array of bodies, “Would be just a footnote, in size and barbarity. But now, older and wiser than the child I was, and the woman I have been, I know, not think, but I know that we are better than the cretins that do this, and so I can kill them, dispassionately, without being one of them. To save others, and to save my own sanity.”

Shaille rolled her eyes. “Seriously?” she hissed. “You want to turn this into a pissing contest now? Can we just shut up and get the damn job done so we can get the hell back to safety? I don’t care how they’re dead, so long as they’re dead. If Commander Gail wants to stab them eleventy times to make herself feel better, let her bloody do it. Her people have more reason than most to loathe these cretins, especially while we’re dealing with the fact that they’re killing our own. Now, can we please shut the fuck up and get the job done so everyone else can get their jobs done and we can wage this God damned war properly!”

The discussion on wartime morality was interrupted rudely by one of the piles near Ichiko shifting. One of the dead Koldaran soldiers turned out not quite as dead as the team would have liked. Severely injured, they still had some fight in them, but didn’t have the angle to aim or fire their rifle. They did, however, have the angle to swing it.

The rifle came in fast and low, striking Ichiko in her ankle and producing a sound, a very unpleasant and concerning sound. The rabbitess gave a yelp before she clamped her hand over her mouth to stifle any further scream as she collapsed to the ground, her ankle giving out and unable to bear her weight anymore. The Koldaran was pinned under the body of its dead companion so it wasn’t going anywhere… but it intended to make sure this three moon bitch didn’t go anywhere either.

“Kreeeetok!” it called out in a gutteral screech, what passed for its throat warbling the noise into something as unpleasant and harsh to listen to as they were visually. With Ichiko on the ground, the Koldaran and the Daughter of Ts’usu were on an even playing field, and it was prepping for the next swing.

Hailey cursed quietly as she spun and took sim, but by the time she’d done so, she couldn’t take the shot without risking hitting Ichiko. As the rabbitess fell, though, and the Koldaren raised itself to strike, the Marine switched the selector on her custom rifle from phaser to slug-thrower and fired two rounds in a double tap to the center of the ugly forehead. The double crack of the bullets echoed once in the courtyard. “Clear.” Hailey pronounced as the body jerked and fell.

Ichiko still had her hand over her mouth, not risking the chance of making more noise until the flare of pain from her ankle had subsided. Not passed, merely transitioned to ‘almost bearable’. “W… we need to move. Take w.. What we have and … before more come to check…” she managed through clenched teeth, while her choice of attire did a good job of hiding the actual damage, the way she positioned herself to keep weight off her ankle left nothing to the imagination. .

"And now we have just told every Koldaran in the vicinity that we're out here," Shaille hissed angrily, shouldering her rifle again and turning toward Ichiko. "Stop," she ordered. "We need to make sure nothing is broken." She dropped to one knee, carefully palpating the area. "Does anyone have a medical tricorder I can use?"

“Backpack, bottom pouch, I’ve got a full emergency kit there.” Hailey turned her back on Shaille to give her access to the mentioned medical kit.

Shaille was about to reach for the tricorder when the sound of breaking twigs and crunching leaves in the distance alerted them all to a pending new presence.

"On second thoughts, lets just get back to the temple. Commander Gail can't walk until her ankle has been assessed, she'll have to be carried back. Captain Taggart, you're in charge, I suggest you start charging!" Shaille's voice echoed with urgency as she unholstered her rifle again, holding it against her side with one hand, her other hand grabbing for equipment they had already pilfered from bodies.

Emony patted both Henry and Camille on the shoulder, twice each. “Let’s wrap it up. I got you covered, so just focus on what you gotta do.” She said to them with an encouraging smile. That smile disappeared when she looked at Hailey.

“And you, no respect at all intended, shut the hell up.” Emony hissed, “The Captain calls the shots, not you.”

With the news of incoming adding to it, the Trill Security Officer took one last moment to assess the surrounding area, trying to pick out at least two or three good solid pieces of cover. The fingers of her offhand tapped impatiently against the foregrip of her rifle, the spots she picked out would have to do.

Hailey didn’t respond to Emony, eyes constantly moving as she watched for Koldaren troops. Marines and Security didn’t get along generally, she and Shaille were more the exception to the rule, but it didn’t bother her too much. She kept one hand aiming the rifle as she unbuckled and unslung her backpack and brought it around, unsealing one of the pockets and reaching in to pull a few small items out and sliding them into a pair of the pockets on her uniform before reversing the manoeuvre and putting the pack back on. “Captain Taggart,” she said in a hushed voice, “I recommend I take rear guard in the manoeuvres out, highest threat axis.”

Camille finished taking the last pieces and getting her last scans. Emony was right. Between the Commander’s injury and the noise they were making, it was indeed time to wrap things up, no matter how much the scientist wanted to keep digging.

"Kyle and I will cover the rear, Two of you help Gail off the ground, give me your packs, I will double up so you can move," Dirk began sweeping behind the group looking for hostiles as they prepared to move. The sound of movement behind the low hill indicated they would have guests soon if they didn't move quickly.



Captain Dirk Taggart
Commanding Officer
USS Pennsylvania

Lieutenant Commander Shaille Levine
Chief Security Officer
USS Wellington

Lieutenant jg Camille Lévesque
Chief Science Officer
USS Pennsylvania

Commander Ichiko Gail
Executive Officer / Ship Second
USS Astraea

Lieutenant (JG) Emony Kyl
Chief Security/Tactical Officer
USS Pennsylvania


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