Minutemen: Do No Harm – Prologue


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MINUTEMEN: Do No Harm

Prologue – “No Exit

16:00 DLT

Frigate Enduring Progress

High orbit above colony world Eridanus

The Frigate Enduring Progress was a nuclear-armed coffin tumbling through the inkwell of space. To the passing ship or satellite she was a metal husk, a rush-job war machine with weapons that looked welded on last week. To sensors, the Progress was bereft of life, fallow, useless. As Colonel Tovald Bristow stalked the Progress’ hallways only by the grace of magnetic soled boots, he could not help but agree with that assessment.

As the Progress’ Executive Officer reached the rusty blast doors of the warship’s bridge, a hacking cough attacked and he scowled at the sky blue mucus floating in front of him. Now matter how short the journey, cryogenic freezing was, is, and forever would be a mother.

Ancient blast doors scraped open and Bristow scowled as he stepped into the cold dark silence of the bridge. Nothing moved, save a few pieces of trash floating in zero gravity. No hum of computers, no rush of air outside, only the eerie sensation of hurtling through space at a ludicrous speed yet feeling nothing at all.

The Colonel grunted and put an orange key into a glowing blue port on the captain’s chair. The soft, ethereal, symphonic tones of the ship’s computer booting managed to lift Tovald’s a mood a little as he nodded to the room. “Report.”

The seemingly ubiquitous, disembodied woman’s voice filled the room. “Per emergency order by the Commander. I have repaired essential systems. And am prepared to calculate an escape vector.”

“Where are we?”

 

“We are drifting with the remains of the Resistance Fleet. Of the thirty ships involved in combat action, only Martyr’s Sword and Just Cause survived. Be advised, Just Cause is venting atmosphere and has not responded to my hails in three months.”

 

             “Three months?” The cobwebs in Colonel Tovald Bristow’s head fell away in an instant. Bristow was already dreading the weeks of physical therapy required after such a sustained cryogenic freeze.

All essential systems suffered catastrophic damage in the assault against Colonial forces. Immediate repairs are required.”

“What’s the body count on the ‘Collies? How many did we get?”

The Libertad suffered one fatality from equipment failure during an after-action space walk–”

 

            “Computer to mute.”

 

The clinking of trinkets falling to the deck informed the XO of the return of artificial gravity a split-second before the computer flashed confirmation on the navigation table. A DNA swab and a hand wave later, the table hummed and disgorged gorgeous holograms of turquoise Dominion and its twin moons, Scylla and Charybdis; but there were no holograms of any of the dozens of ships that were always buzzing around the planet.

Bristow smacked the table with a fist, causing the image to flicker and splice, still nothing but the planet and moons. “God damn border control officers,” he muttered as he stalked back to the chair, feeling the hot flush of his blood pressure rising, “Bribe ‘em and they give you a blank map…god damn criminals.”

The Colonel jabbed a button on the captain’s chair. “Begin cryo thaw for all crew and bring jump systems online. Lieutenant Hartley is required ASAP at the bridge to explain himself to the Commander.”

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Minutemen: The Crucible -Chapter 14-


Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13

MINUTEMEN: THE CRUCIBLE

Chapter Fourteen: “Wind Sprints and Suicides”

Black Rose Bar
Evacuated City of Boston
October 20, 2552
Late evening

This isn’t fair.

“Tim!”

Tim McManus shifted his gaze down in reply to Rachel Lynch, who was staring at him with teary green eyes that still stubbornly sparkled in their last moments. The roaring rush of wind combined with the bucking, shuddering chassis of the Warthog disoriented him, but he fought against his churning guts and forced himself to look as brave as possible for his last friend.

They had marched across an obliterated and forgotten city. They had watched strangers and friends die. They had fought and survived firefights with no military training against superior hostile alien forces. They had faced paralyzing fears and crippling conditions, and they had walked away alive from every single encounter.

It was not good enough.

The Harvard Junior was once again lost for words and he hated himself for it. The last thing he could conjure from his racing mind was two words that he doubted she could hear over the deafening, high-pitched shriek of the incoming plasma mortar.

“I’m sorry.”

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Minutemen: The Crucible -Chapter 11-


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MINUTEMEN: THE CRUCIBLE

Chapter Eleven: “End of the road.”

Rowes Wharf
Evacuated City of Boston
Late afternoon

The scene at the warehouse was now the embodiment of chaos. While everyone at the scene had witnessed their fair share of violence and destruction over the course of the day, the Pelican being shot out of the air in full view of the civilians was the equivalent of a match being thrown on a long trail of gasoline. Master Gunnery Sergeant Gus Reynolds and the rest of the soldiers were doing their best to get everyone out before the wharves went up in flames.

Captain Jack O’Shea, Tim McManus, Ron Parsons, and Rachel Lynch jogged back into the tumultuous loading area only a minute after the airship went down, but they hardly recognized the scene now.

What had once been orderly lines of shuffling wounded refugees was now a wobbling, pulsing, bending and breaking mass of desperate people clawing for a chance to board the last available truck, a salty cargo vehicle that, while quite large, did not stand a chance of fitting everyone. The soldiers on hand were on the verge of losing control of the horde and looked like they were considering using their weapons to maintain order. The Captain craned his head and searched the crowd for his second in command, and upon finding the Master Guns directing a pair of soldiers back into action, picked up the pace and ran the rest of the distance to the tall, dark-skinned leader.

“Captain!” Reynolds shouted over the growing noise, “COMs were a mess after that Pelican got—well, truck two’s safely away, we’re loading up Mr. McHale’s commandeered vehicle and throwing the rest on truck one’s return.”

Jack turned around and jumped on the back of Adam McHale’s commandeered mail vehicle, which was sitting lower and lower to the ground with the sheer weight of the refugees. O’Shea frowned. “We’re going to need an escort Warthog right the hell now. Where’s the doctor?” O’Shea began snapping his fingers, trying to recall something. “What was her name again?
Halo Marine
Gus glanced down at his data pad. “Kathleen. Dr. Kathleen De Vere.”

“Dr. De Vere. Where is she?”

“Truck two. Said she wanted to get to camp ASAP to take care of the worst. Didn’t see any harm.”

Jack grunted, taking the pad from Reynolds’ hand. “I would have felt better keeping her in sight.”

“She wasn’t taking ‘no’ for an answer, sir, and I wasn’t about to restrain her in front of all these folks.”

“For a smart woman, she wasn’t exactly thinking about the mess she left behind.” The Captain shook his head in brief exasperation, scanning the crowd again. “All right,” he yelled to huddled masses, “we’re locking down this transport and loading the remainder in the returning truck, warthogs, wherever we can fit people! It’s a short ride, so sit tight!”

Rachel groaned, doing a mental headcount of the remaining soldiers and civilians. “It’s going to be a hot meat locker in that last truck,” she said, tilting her head toward Tim, “I think I’d rather walk.”

“We might have to,” McManus replied, checking his watch. “No way we fit all these people. But if push comes to shove,” he said, patting Ron on the arm, “We’ve slipped by Covenant already, we can do it again.”

“And please don’t diss meat lockers,” Parsons interjected, still looking up at the sky where the Pelican had been shot down. “At this point, I kinda miss my pride-swallowing, soul-sucking sandwich gig.”

“So you’re cool getting packed into a container?” Lynch turned toward Ron, tilting her head at the people crowding into the truck. The lithe amateur sniper shook his head, finally taking his eyes off the sky.

“It beats flying, apparently,” Parsons took a step back as the truck fired up its engine and began rolling away from the docks.

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Minutemen: The Crucible -Chapter 9-


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MINUTEMEN: THE CRUCIBLE

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Chapter Nine: “Everything Must Go.”

Broad Street
City of Boston
United North American Protectorate
October 10, 2552
Late Afternoon

Tim McManus’ face dropped in total shock, his green eyes wide as saucers as the pair of trucks tore towards his Warthog and certain death. Ron Parsons’ featured twitched with confusion at Tim’s sudden and drastic expression; he immediately turned back to face the rapidly growing front grills of what looked like large, gray mail trucks.

Before Ron could react with a scream of warning, surprise, or fear, the Warthog jerked to the left, nearly rolling the vehicle. The heavy duty Marine transport’s wheels screamed in protest and Tim’s vision blurred and the passing obliterated building facades lurched sickeningly from his perspective. Lance Corporal Adam McHale and McManus twisted in their seats and fought against the force of the skid as Ron Parsons began to fly out of the transport.

Both men barely snatched the arm holes of the tactical vest as Ron lost his balance and began to fall toward the rushing pavement and the huge tires of Delta’s trucks. As Bravo’s Warthog righted itself, Parsons managed to get a grip on his large S2 AM sniper rifle, which was slipping out of his hands. The petrified, former Harvard cook clutched the weapon like a newborn against his chest.

Tim noted for the briefest of moments that the lead Warthog had fallen back to guard the rear of the now-doubled convoy. The trucks took just as hard a turn onto the main street, flirting with tipping onto two wheels, but righting themselves at the last minute. Eventually O’Shea’s Warthog, now the head of the convoy, stopped listing to either side and found its balance. The trio in the back of the troop transport collapsed in their chairs, sweating.

“What the fuck!” Parsons gasped, gesturing angrily at the trailing trucks.

“Delta stole some trucks to move the civvies,” McHale explained. “IFF tags occasionally go nuts and we know the aliens track our COM traffic. We’re operating dark most of the time after we issue orders across town and we’re trusting our sync to time ops right.”

“You gotta be fucking kidding me,” Ron wheezed, finally finding his breath. McManus looked pale as well.

“How many close calls have there been?” Tim asked, genuinely concerned.

Adam made a point of looking away from the vehicles and avoiding the three kids’ prying eyes. “That was our first.”

Rachel looked relieved. “Well, that’s not so bad.”

“…That everyone survived.” McHale finished, shutting up the new recruits.
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Minutemen: The Crucible -Chapter 8-


Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7

MINUTEMEN: THE CRUCIBLE

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Chapter Eight: Backseat Drivers

State Street
City of Boston
United North American Protectorate
October 10, 2552
Late Afternoon

“Where are the seatbelts?”

“Say again?”

“I don’t see seatbelts anywhere in the back of this Warthog.”

“That’s ’cause there aren’t any.”

“What? Why?

Captain Jack O’Shea frowned at Tim McManus like a disappointed schoolteacher whose star pupil had botched a routine quiz. “They’re life threatening,” he stated matter of factly.

“That doesn’t make any sense!” Tim said, fumbling to keep himself secure in his seat and out of the laps of his neighboring riders. O’Shea sighed.

“At any point that this convoy has to stop, there’s going to be incoming enemy fire, and you have to be out of the vehicle and shooting, not fumbling around with a seat belt and trapped in here with your nerves.”

Tim McManus’ eyebrows arched up as if he were the only sane person in the vehicle, which he was beginning to believe. “This thing’s almost punted me twice! If I’m not strapped in, I’m gonna be street pizza!”

Captain Jack O’Shea barely shrugged, turning back around in his passenger seat and trying not to smile, “Welcome to life in the United Nations Space Command,” he said grandly over the wind and dropping temperature.

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Minutemen: The Crucible -Chapter 6-


Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5

MINUTEMEN: THE CRUCIBLE

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Chapter 6: “The Prisoner’s Dilemma”

UNSC Administration Post 53
City of Boston
United North American Protectorate
September 19, 2552 (Three weeks before invasion of Earth)
Afternoon

“Some of the guys think the Sox don’t stand a chance going deep in the playoffs.”

“Some of the guys are idiots.”

A wall of translucent emerald and turquoise sped toward Master Gunnery Sergeant Gus Reynolds’ face and stopped dead two feet from it. With weathered but agile fingers, the UNSC soldier navigated through the mass of data, pushing away statistics and sliding down pictures until he reached his destination. “There,” Reynolds chuckled, turning in his chair and poking the Private First Class hard in the shoulder, “look at that. In the past six years the Red Sox have gotten to the sol system championship. Six years! You tell those New York transfers to look at those numbers before I shove ’em down their throats.”

“Yes, sir,” the Private First Class sighed mockingly. Reynolds spun back around in his chair, rolled his eyes, and smiled to himself. It would be a few weeks before the new arrivals got used to his tough love style of humor. Until then, Gus decided he would have as much fun squeezing the comfort out of them as he could. The dark-skinned UNSC soldier sighed and got back to work, twitching his hand making the data on the Boston Red Sox fall from view in an instant waterfall of ethereal holograms.
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Minutemen: The Crucible -Chapter 1-



MINUTEMEN: THE CRUCIBLE

308905-reach_superCHAPTER 1 – “CLASS DISMISSED”

“When we lost Earth, we lost everything. What got us through the first day was making sure we didn’t lose ourselves.” -Capt. Jack O’Shea, UNSC Marine Corps.

Harvard University
City of Boston
United North American Protectorate
October 20, 2552

Dylan was having morning sex again.

Jesus, Tim McManus thought to himself as his top bunk bed shuddered rhythmically, does he really think he’s alone at nine in the morning? Tim closed his eyes tightly and tried to block out the squeaking and pleasured grunts and muffled moans beneath him. The Harvard University Junior smothered himself with his pillow, but the smart memory foam immediately shifted to give him comfort and let the carnal symphony continue at full volume. Tim did everything he could to put himself into a comatose state, but with the early morning sunlight streaming in through the large bedroom windows, it was an impossible task. McManus rubbed his eyes vigorously, took a deep breath, and rolled so he hung over the edge of his bed and violated the airspace of the couple beneath him.

“Look, I’m not against morning sex,” Tim said nonchalantly, as Dylan and his girlfriend jumped backwards in shock and attempted to burrow underneath the sheets. “In fact, I often prefer it. The light’s nice, kinda romantic, there’s an excess of Testosterone, you get a start on the day, you wake up your roommate better than his alarm clock…”

As if on cue, Tim’s clock leapt to life from his desk in big blue holographic numbers and began playing a futuristic indie rock tune. Upside down, with unkempt, brown hair hanging from his head, McManus attempted a smile and nod. “But could you finish up? I have a big paper due in like an hour.” Tim broke out a mischievous half-grin. “Unless you guys need a hand.”

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