Bio of “Sching” (Planetfall)
I was born to UF parents. Dad was part of GroundCom NorCom Urban Command Dallas at the time, while Mom was SpecOps PsyOps. Literally, I grew up looking up to my parents as a modicum of where I wanted my life to go. Because we were military, they rotated in and out of so many bases and postings it made my head spin. However, being inside the Administration Zones and around UF kids, we didn’t have the problems of adjustment like military families of the past; everyone saw each other at some point during each family’s 3-month rotation and reconnected like nothing changed…that is, until the Great Schism occurred.
The Great Schism…I was no more than 10 when it started. The years that followed were some of the worst I can remember. Everyone, regardless of the normal rotation schedule, spent more time in the SouthCom area than we liked to admit. It was during that time that friends changed due to the horrors that happened in front of our eyes (when we climbed up on top of the buildings with binoculars to survey the Basin) or just disappeared because they ventured too far outside the safe zones. Regardless, deployment to the Amazon Basin didn’t bode well for the survivability of some, and the same spoke true of my family.
In 2187, we were on the last month of our rotation in SouthCom, right in the Amazon Basin. I had just joined UF and, because of my high scores in school and the background of my parents, been assigned to officers school at the Kamina Training Center, or “Big K” as we called it. My parents were thrilled that I was joining them in a career just like theirs, and I couldn’t have been happier. But, that happiness was very strained because of the stress that deployment had on my parents. Dad had a fairly easy time patrolling the borders of the AZ and what little urban areas there were, but Mom, she had it the worst. Being PsyOps, it was her job to go into the interior of the basin and try to “convince” the rebels and other groups to give up and join the UEA…the only alternative was death. There were times when she’d leave the base suddenly, be gone for weeks, and come back without warning looking like she’d been through the worst hell imaginable twice. She became more morbid, moody, combative, but she always managed to perform her duties to the family like nothing was wrong, though Dad and I knew better. However, her number was up one mission into the Basin to “convince” a rebel encampment to stand down. All I knew at the time was that a man showed up when Dad got off patrol and informed us that Mom had been KIA, no more than two days before I shipped off to Kamina. It wouldn’t be till later that I’d obtain the clearance to learn that her platoon she’d been attached to had reached the rebel camp uninterrupted to find it devoid of life. However, upon sweeping the camp, they were ambushed by guerillas numbering in the hundreds, something Games and Numbers never saw coming. Half the platoon was wiped out, but the other half, including my Mom, were tortured and executed publicly and violently just out of gun range but not telescopic range. The retaliation of the UF was quick, but to no avail. The guerilla force melted back into the basin to the point that only two rebels were killed in the week long sweep.
The loss of Mom hit us all really hard, but gutted my father the worst. It was like he began going through the motions on patrol, a perpetual thousand-yard stare on his face. I guess it was the grief of having a “soft” job while she risked her life every day, combined with my appointment to Kamina and being alone, that sent his health in a downward spiral. I was only two months into training that I received news that my father had collapsed while on patrol and had died before anyone could assess what was wrong. They say it was a heart attack, but I know the grief of losing mom was what really did him in.
With both my parents gone, something in me snapped, and I threw myself into training, always taking the biggest risks, always wanting to come out on top, and always taking the hardest road possible to achieve my goals. It was because of this that I graduated from Big K as a “Butter Bar”, or second lieutenant, with full honors and selection for the “advance course” at Kamina; effectively, I was selected for Special Forces. But before then, I had met a young Sergeant Major named Samantha and we had hit it off right from the moment we laid eyes on each other. It wasn’t a whirlwind romance or a quick military marriage, but we were married and happy and in love and for the first time in my life, I began to think about the future and how to make it more secure for my family. While in Special Forces, she was deployed elsewhere, but we got to see each other often enough, but with me taking the most dangerous assignments possible, that time became very precious.
After two years globe-trotting to counter terrorist threats, and a chance to pay back the rebels that took my mother from me and sent my father to an early grave (that’s another story entirely), I was second to the Continuity Directorate’s Office of Radical Measures’ Consolidation Squads. It was a rough job, and with eradicating disease and dissidents, it was dangerous, but I was protecting the world for my family. However, there came a period where I began to notice a change in Sammy’s outlook on the UF’s policies. Being a Medic in a GroundCom platoon, her job was to fight second, tend to the wounded first. But, after seeing the disease-ridden zones before I was sent in to “consolidate” them, she began to wonder why there was not more that the UEA could do for them medically. It wasn’t until we had gotten deployed together in 2197 that my life, family, and everything around it came crashing down.
We had been deployed to the Amazon Basin, that hell-hole that had taken both my parents from me. I hadn’t been back since my “revenge” deployment and mission deep into the Basin to ravage guerilla leadership, but this was Samantha’s first time “in-country”. We had only been there a week when I was called in to quell a protest that Games and Numbers had predicted would lead to a larger revolt in the Primary Zone. Sammy was off- duty and decided to go shopping in the urban areas around the base, so I left a note saying I’d be home later and deployed with my team. Half of us, including me, carried heavy assault weapons designed for sweeping large areas with bullets, while the other half carried napalm flamethrowers, an experimental piece of tech that only recently came into use. The rally was really working themselves into a frenzy when we arrived and began hosing them down with bullets and liquid death. But the sight that got all our blood boiling was the fact that there were military uniforms mixed in the group. At that, I called in that the flamers should hold and only burn those trying to run while the rest of us weighed in the crowd and take out the military personnel, now traitors, before they used their training to escape. I took out the first two I came across easily, but the third managed to avoid me twice. She was crafty, so I used the oldest trick in the book and called out to her. When she stopped suddenly and began to turn, I Squeezed off a double-tap into her back. But the biggest shock of my life came when her momentum continued to spin her and I looked into the face of my wife. Her lips uttered one word, “Sching…” before she fell. I immediately rushed to her side and called for a medic while holding her and trying to keep her with me. She reached up with a blood-soaked hand, whispered “I love you. I’m sorry...” before the life left her eyes. It took four of the squad to drag me away from her, crying out in anguish at the loss of yet another family member, this time one that was my only tether to sanity.
The days continued on in a blur. I remember beginning to question why we “consolidated” people for no reason other than they were standing in the vicinity of the act. However, it wasn’t until I refused to obey a kill order that I was brought to trial in a general court martial (being UF seconded to ORM/CS, I was still technically under UF jurisdiction). I was given the choice of being drummed out of the UF (basically death) or volunteering to be a part of the new colonization effort aboard the Sikander. Obviously, I chose to volunteer for the colonization. As they began to seal my cryo-pod, I promised myself that no one would ever know my real name, for it carried too much heartache and guilt. Forevermore, I would only be known as my nickname and callsign for all those years of service…Sching.