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Force Recon, Scout Sniper by Helljumper

Force Recon, Scout Sniper part 1
Date: 27 June 2004, 9:07 PM

1307 Hours (Military Time), January 4, 2553 (Military Calendar)/ Camp Baker Marine Corps Orbital Drop Shock Troopers' training camp, planet Thurs in the Contra star system. Marine Force Recon Scout Sniper stalking training grounds, 10 kilometers northwest of Camp Baker.
Where is he?
      Gunnery Sergeant Lindon lowered the binoculars from his dark brown eyes. At the age of fifty, the Gunny was still in top physical shape and as sharp as any new recruit. His white hair was showing under his Marine issue cap but this was no indication of his skills or performance. Sitting on the meter high observation chair, his eyes scanned the fourty meter long field of tall, tan grass as it ends in a forest of thin trees with green foliage. Some where out there, a sniper was stalking Lindon.
      The wind blew the red and white target positioned three meters to the left of Lindon's chair. He turned to make sure it didn't fall and turned his attention back to the task at hand. The Gunny knew the sniper well. Shit I thought him everything he knows. He thought to himself as he stared through his binoculars at the field for anything that seemed out of place. Most new recruits for the Marine Force Recon Scout Sniper program were always predictable. They all made the same mistake when stalking.
      The Gunny laughed to himself as he reflected on the first time he caught the current sniper those many years ago. The sniper had made the mistake of crawling into the tan field while still having green leaves attached to his Ghille suit. That was years ago. He's currently the best Scout Sniper the Force Recon has to offer the war. He maybe the best now, but I was the best before him. I will catch him.
      The three seekers out in the field waited patiently for the Gunnery Sergeant's orders. Lindon knew the rules of the game too well. It reminded him of chess... well in a way. The Marine seekers were his hands and he was their eyes. They couldn't move without his directions, and they couldn't tell him if they saw the sniper. That's the way the Corps designed the sniper stalking training exercise, but like all rules, they are meant to be broken. He arranged with the seekers to perform prearranged body signals to help him spot the sniper. Secretly, Lindon knew the cheating probably wouldn't help, but hoped it would.

      The sniper laid prone in his Ghille suit behind a bush, safe within the forest. He looked through the scope of his S2 AM sniper's rifle at his former teacher and mentor, Gunnery Sergeant Lindon. No matter how many times he beat the Gunny at this game of stalking, he always demanded a rematch. It was their way of staying in contact over the years and it gave the sniper the chance to polish up on his skills with the best.
      He maneuvered the crosshair of the rifle onto Lindon's head. The crosshair lit up red as the sniper aligned it between the Gunny's eyebrows. Steadying his breathing, he relaxed his other muscles and zoned out the world. His finger rested lightly on the trigger. He knew his weapon well, including the lightened trigger pull.
      The sniper inhaled, held his breath and gently squeezed the trigger. The firing pin clicked. He smiled to himself, Got ya Gunny.
      The rifle was lowered from his eye as his left hand slide up the side of the trigger to the bolt. Slowly, he pulled it back allowing a 14.5 mm armor-piercing fin-stabilized, discarding-sabot round to slide into the chamber. The bolt slide forward until it locked into place. The sniper placed the scope back to his eye. He aligned the cross hair on the red and white marksmanship target next to the Gunny. His thumb clicked off the safety while he placed the butt of the weapon firmly against his shoulder.
      With his left eye closed, the sniper started to zone out the world. The chirps of birds and the rusting of the leaves by the wind started to fade away. Everything was silent until a new sound penetrated his ears. It was a low whine and rumble. An all too familiar sound that grew louder. A dropship was approaching. The growing sound started to interfere with his concentration, but he kept the rifle pointed at his target. That's when the words of the Gunny started to echo in his head. Use your surroundings to your advantage. Not just the ground and the plant life, but the sounds and confusion of war.
      The dropship was close. He could tell that it was heading north and would probably fly right over the stalking grounds. The sniper chose to wait as the plane moved closer and closer. The sound was loud and he could see its shadow crawl across the forest floor. It was now or never. He steadied his breathing, exhaled, held his breath, and squeezed the trigger. The plan worked perfectly. The sound of the passing dropship drowned out the sound of rifle fire. He smiled to himself.
      Looking through the scope, he placed the crosshairs on a very confused Gunnery Sergeant Lindon.

      The Gunny stared in disbelief at the dead center bullet hole through the target. He didn't even hear the shot, only the sound as the bullet passed him and entered the target. That bastard, he used the dropship to mask the shot, that's why he's the best. The first part of the exercise was over. The sniper took the shot from within the forest without being seen. The second shot had to come from within the field of grass. That's where I'll catch him. That's why I kept my seekers from going into the forest. I'll win this game yet.

1323 Hours (Military Time), January 4, 2553 (Military Calendar)/ Camp Baker Marine Corps Orbital Drop Shock Troopers' training camp, planet Thurs in the Contra star system.
      Colonel Ackerson disconnected his seatbelt as the D77-TC "Pelican" dropship touched solid ground. The drop from Ackerson's personal Prowler, the Mystic was noticeably smooth. He had personally selected the Pelican's pilot. A smile crept across the Marine officer's face and quickly disappeared as he reflected on the day he snatched the pilot from underneath the nose of a Vice Admiral during a counter attack that was trying to retake an outer colony.
      The Colonel relaxed his muscles and turned to check on the other occupants of the Pelican's troop bay. Two ODST Marines sat across from him in their new issue Battle Dress Uniform (BDU). The Corps had changed the uniform shortly after the fall of Reach. The new Class C uniform (same thing as BDU, the uniforms from the E3 demo for Halo 2) incorporated camouflage patterns. The ODST were issued new armor that was lighter in weight, stronger against plasma fire, and included a full helmet. The ODST across from Ackerson weren't carrying a full combat load including the new armor and helmet. They wore the woodland camouflage pattern with their black berets that contained the ODST emblem on the front along with their equipment kit. Their new Battle Rifles were secured in between their legs. M6D pistols were strapped to their thighs the way only ODST are allowed to wear on the weapon.
      The Helljumpers, however, weren't there to protection him, they were there for the young ONI Lieutenant sitting next to him. Even with Ackerson's high security clearance, he was not allowed to read the young officer's file. He didn't argue. If he wanted to read it bad enough he could have. The Lieutenant wore the all black ONI Class A uniform. He held a briefcase securely in his lap attached to his wrist with Titanium A handcuffs.
      Ackerson reflected on how his duties with the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) didn't allow him many opportunities to wear BDUs. He was always in the Marine Class A uniform like he was now. His silver Colonel ranks sat on the collar of the uniform's tan shirt reflecting any light that caught them.
      The pilot must have finished shutting down all of the dropship's systems because the rear ramp began to open. There was a hiss as the troop bay decompressed. Sunlight rushed into the cabin making everyone's faces more visible. The ODST wore stern and serious looks on their faces. These men were professionals with several combat drops under their belts. That's why Ackerson picked them. They were the best he could find in the time frame he had. There would be no need for security on this particular assignment since they were on a Marine base full of Helljumpers or those in training to be Helljumpers, but ONI standard operating procedure (SOP) required at least two armed guards.
      Colonel Ackerson was the first to stand. He straightened out his uniform and adjusted the custom M6D pistol on his belt that rested over his dress jacket. The weapon was given to him by his father General Ackerson senior. The 2x integrated scope on the weapon was removed and replaced with iron sites. The entire pistol was chromed except for the white ivory pistol grip. Instead of the standard twelve round extended clip, it was equipped with a nine round clip that didn't extend pass the pistol grip. The weapon was mostly show, but was fully functional if needed.
      He led the others out of the Pelican and unto the paved surface of the landing pad. The intense sunlight caused the group to cover their eyes with the brim of their hats. Days spent in the artificial light of the UNSC spaceships had that kind of affect.

      The leaves of the bush separated revealing the barrel of a rifle. The sniper observed the location of the Gunny and his seekers through the S2 AM sniper rifle scope. They have no idea where I am... This is too easy, I need to finish this once and for all. An idea crept its way into the sniper's mind. He lowered the scope from his eye and scanned around him. This is going to be great.

      Colonel Ackerson hopped out of the transport Warthog in front of Camp Baker's Headquarters buildings. A second LRV pulled up causing loose dirt to be kicked up into the air. The ODST guards and the ONI Lt. dismounted. The Warthogs drove away as the Colonel stood admiring the United Nations flag and the Marine Corps flag flying from the tall flagpole outside the HQ. That's what we're fighting for. He thought as the UN flag flapped in the wind.
      A Marine approached the group. "Welcome to Camp Baker also known as Hell's training grounds. I'm Captain Webb, the Camp S1 (Personnel Officer)." The ODST Captain saluted Ackerson before the two shook hands.
"If we knew you were coming Colonel, the Camp commander Lieutenant Colonel Sicat would have made himself available."
"Where is the commander, Captain?"
      The Captain looked at his watch and then looked over to his left. He pointed off into the distance. Numerous Human Entry Vehicles, (HEV), were falling through the atmosphere. Their ceramic skin began to peel away. Moments later their parachutes deployed slowing their decent.
"Colonel Sicat is recertifying his drop status, sir."
"How about the Camp's executive officer?"
"Major Williams is currently off planet visiting his family on Earth."
"Well they don't matter. I'm here to see you. I have the transfer orders for a Sergeant Deel."
      Ackerson signaled to the ONI Lieutenant who walked up and produced papers from the suitcase. He handed them to Captain Webb who read the transfers orders from top to bottom. He nodded when finished.
"We usually don't get Colonels, and armed guards to complete transfer orders, sir."
"Captain, this isn't the usually transfer orders. Can you tell me where I can find Sergeant Deel?"
"Of course sir."
      Webb reached into his cargo pockets and pulled out a data pad. He typed in a few orders and waited as the data pad made a direct connection to the camp's computer mainframe and to the Captain's personnel computer. The data pad beeped. Captain Webb read off the small screen.
"Sergeant Deel United Nations Marine Corps, ODST Marine Force Recon Scout Sniper. He is assigned to the 2nd ODST Battalion 109th Regiment... Currently he is at the Scout Sniper stalking grounds ten klicks north of camp."
"Thank you Captain, we'll be on our way and I'll leave the paper work to you."
"No problem, sir. I'll arrange two Warthogs and some Privates to drive you."
"We're kinda strapped for time right now. I have a Pelican waiting at the landing pads."
"Sorry sir, but regulations don't allow Pelican's into that area."
"Captain, I'm ONI, I'm above regulations."

Force Recon, Scout Sniper part 2
Date: 1 July 2004, 1:22 AM

1417 Hours (Military Time), January 4, 2553 (Military Calendar)/ Camp Baker Marine Corps Orbital Drop Shock Troopers' training camp, planet Thurs in the Contra star system. Marine Force Recon Scout Sniper stalking training grounds, 10 kilometers northwest of Camp Baker.
      Gunny Sergeant Lindon looked at his watch. It has been thirty five minutes since the sniper took his first shot, and by the rules for Scout Sniper stalking exercise, the sniper only has five minutes left. Why is he taking so long? Lindon raised his binoculars to his dark brown eyes and lowered them quickly in frustration. "There's no sign of him. You would think you could catch him at least once?" He said to himself in a whisper.
      He checked the location of his three seekers as something brushed against his leg. These Helljumpers were trainees for the Force Recon Scout Sniper program and knew how to effectively stalk. He hoped they were taking good mental notes from the sniper.
      The left and right seekers were positioned fifty meters apart with the third seeker in the middle. That's when Lindon noticed the middle seeker patting the back of his neck, the pre-arranged signal. The Gunny started to get excited but forced himself to remain calm. His heart started to beat faster as he looked through the binoculars. He followed the direction of the seekers elbow to an object protruding through the tall tan grass.
      Lindon adjusted the magnification and focused on the object. It took him a few seconds to recognize the eight sided muzzle break of a S2 AM sniper rifle. He knew all to well how effective the muzzle break is. Attached to the end of a rifle's barrel, it kept the barrel from jumping too high after a shot. This allowed a sniper to quickly relocate his target for another shot.
      The Gunny unclipped the small walkie talkie from his belt and placed it close to his lips. He spoke softly hiding the excitement in his voice. "This is Oscar one to Sierra two. Take three steps to your right and two steps forward."
"Roger Oscar one,"
      Lindon watched as the seeker executed his commands and stopped close to the muzzle break. The sniper didn't move. I got you now. The sniper instructor placed the walkie talkie back to his lips. "Sierra two, sniper at your feet," Lindon said with full confidence. He observed through his binoculars as the trainee bent down and then stood back up. Lindon focused on the Helljumper's face. "Sierra two, what's wrong? I repeat sniper at your feet." The seeker bent back down and picked up a camouflage painted sniper rifle.
      The Gunny was shocked and slumped down in his chair. Something brushed against his leg, but he dismissed it as grass blown by the wind. He checked his watch again. I guess I won since you ran out of time. It wasn't the kind of victory he wanted but at this stage in the game he would accept it. He pulled a blow horn from a side pocket on the chair. Adjusting the volume he announced that the exercise was over and that by default, the sniper had failed. That's when he heard a familiar click. The sound registered in his mind as that of a M6D pistol's firing pin hitting an empty chamber followed by the cocking open of the weapon's slide.
      Lindon turned around to be face to barrel of gunmetal black pistol. His eyes adjusted from the barrel to the dark figure holding the weapon in both hands. The figure stood in a combat stance with its left leg extended forward and arms extended fully forward holding the weapon in both hands. The tan grass inserts in the sniper's ghille suit radiated from his back as his front was covered in rich brown dirt. The sniper's face was painted in green and black face paint combined with dirt.
      The instructor felt something brush against his leg again and looked down to see a strain of grass touching his thigh and followed it as it attached to the sniper's left leg. Lindon didn't want to ask how long the sniper had been behind him.

      The seekers turned to the Gunny's observation chair after not seeing the sniper reveal himself. After seeing the site in front of them, they started to clap in unison and letting out cheers followed by the chanting of 'sniper', repeatedly.

      The sniper's voice was deep and harsh after not speaking for the last hour and thirty minutes. His African American accent was strong as he spoke each word slowly. "I guess the student has surpassed the master, Gunny?"
      The once stern look on Lindon's face disappeared and his facial features formed into a smile. The sniper replaced his pistol to the olive drag holster strapped to his upper thigh. The former student and the teacher embraced in a tight handshake. The three seekers arrived at the observation chair when the sound of a low rumble filled the air.
      The sound increased until a dropship emerged over the forest and banked towards the open field. It came in fast turned 180 degrees on its horizontal axis before landing with the troop bay facing towards the group of snipers. The engines started to decrease as they entered a standby mode.
      They watched as the rear ramp opened and four figures emerged from the Pelican's troop bay. Upon seeing the Colonel ranks on the lead man, the group snapped to attention and presented a salute. The Colonel in his green Marine Class A uniform returned their statue while covering the distance between the snipers and the dropship quickly. "At ease men," the officer ordered as he stopped in front of the group. The two armed guards moved into flanking positions of the snipers while the ONI Lieutenant stepped next to the Marine officer, briefcase in hand.
"I'm Colonel Ackerson with the Office of Naval Intelligence. I'm looking for a Sergeant Erik Deel."
      Ackerson was surprised when a large dark figure emerged from behind the group of Helljumpers. He was instantly impressed with the Scout Sniper in his full Ghille suit. "I'm Sergeant Deel sir," the six foot two inch tall figure replied.
      The Colonel led Deel away from the others. The Colonel already knew what the man was thinking. Marines, especially those in Force Recon, knew that when ONI came knocking, they wanted you for a Special Operations mission. ONI was infamous for snatching Marines from their units sending them on suicide missions never to be heard from again. Once the Marine Corps brass heard these reports they mandated that Marines must be given a choice in participated in these missions. As a Marine, Ackerson knew that loyalty to one's unit came second only to their loyalty to humanity. This made ONI's job especially more difficult in selecting candidates for their missions, but Colonel Ackerson wasn't discouraged by this fact. He knew the mind set of Marines and employed the ONI's best weapons successfully, Lies and Deceit.
"Sergeant, you already know why I'm here, so lets cut to the chase. You're the best Scout Sniper available and the mission I have for you is of the utmost importance."
      Ackerson was surprised that the sniper took time to formula his answer as he wiped the camouflage paint from his face. "Sir, my unit the 2nd ODST Battalion 109th Regiment is being deployed on a major combat operation in just a few weeks. There is no way I can leave them now."
      Ackerson was prepared for this reply.
"Sergeant, what is the Force Recon creed?"
      Sergeant Deel was caught off guard by the question. He, like all Force Recon Marines, knows the creed by heart, but never expected to have to recite it, especially right now. He straightened himself to the position of attention and held his head high. His body still hurt from crawling around in the bush from the stalk but forced the pain aside.
"Realizing it is my choice and my choice alone to be a Reconnaissance Marine, I accept all challenges involved with this profession. Forever shall I strive to maintain the tremendous reputation of those who went before me. Exceeding beyond the limitations set down by others shall be my goal. Sacrificing personal comforts and dedicating myself to the completion of the reconnaissance mission shall be my life. Physical fitness, mental attitude, and high ethics, the title of Recon Marine is my honor. Conquering all obstacles, both large and small, I shall never quit. To quit, to surrender, to give up is to fail. To be a Recon Marine is to surpass failure; to overcome, to adapt and to do whatever it takes to complete the mission. On the battlefield, as in all areas of life, I shall stand tall above the competition. Through professional pride, integrity, and teamwork, I shall be the example for all Marines to emulate. Never shall I forget the principles I accepted to become a Recon Marine. Honor, Perseverance, Spirit and Heart."
      Ackerson was impressed. The pride that laced the Sergeant's recitation of the creed was exactly what the ONI Colonel was looking for. The first part of getting a Marine to do what you want is to appeal to his pride.
"To quote your creed 'to quit, to surrender, to give up is to fail.' We are in a losing war with the Covenant son. Your volunteering to help the ONI can be a deciding factor in winning or failing. I don't have to remind you that failing is not an option."
"Sir failing is not an option, but I'm not sure that I'm the right person for whatever mission you have planned."
      He is going to need some more convincing.
"Are you qualified with the Barrett M82A5 .50 caliber sniper rifle Sergeant Deel?"
"Yes sir."
"What is the effective range of the weapon?"
"1,800 meters sir," Deel replied without hesitation.
"That's a one point eight klicks. That is a very long distance. Do you agree Sergeant?"
"Yes sir, but most people can't hit a target with that weapon at that range."
"Can you hit a target at that range?"
"Yes sir, I've used the weapon close to that range but the Corps no longer uses the Barrett."
"Do you know how many Marines are trained to use the M82A5?"
"No sir."
"There are only three men qualified to use this weapon and that includes yourself. One is MIA and the other is standing behind you."
      Ackerson hoped that the sniper didn't know the truth. There were probably a hundred other snipers qualified with the weapon, but Sergeant Deel had a special ability that made him perfect for this mission. An ability that made him the best marksman in the Corps.
      The sniper turned to look at Gunny Sergeant Lindon. The Gunny was the one who trained him to use the Barrett. He knew that the Corps didn't train many snipers to use the weapon because its heavy weight made it difficult to carry in the field. Because of the weight issue, the size, and power of the .50 caliber bullet the Corps stopped production and field use. Even with the disadvantages, Deel personally loved the weapon. Its ability to deliver a powerful bullet to a target from that distance insured that the sniper would not be found. Ackerson interrupted the sniper's thoughts.
"Sergeant, this mission is on a tight time schedule and I need to know your decision now."
"I'll agree on one condition sir."
"Speak your mind Sergeant."
"Sir, I reserve the right to pick my spotter."
"You pick, I'll approve, does that work for you?"
"Yes sir."
"Who do you have in mind?"
"Sir, I request Corporal Jeffery Baker."
[inden]Ackerson held up one figure to the Sergeant and excused himself. He walked over to the ONI Lieutenant and spoke in a whisper so no one would over their. "Lieutenant, I want you to hack into Camp Baker's personnel computer and find the file of a Corporal Jeffery Baker. Read it and decide if he is qualified for his mission." The Lt. nodded and produced a data pad from the briefcase and got to work.

0900 Hours (Military Time), January 25, 2553 (Military Calendar)/ ONI stealth prowler Mystic/ Slipstream space- unknown coordinates
      ONI Captain Kara Manu sat in the command chair on the bridge of the Mystic reviewing several navigational charts. Her shoulder length brown hair was tied in a knot exposing her pale white neck. Her black ONI uniform was expertly pressed even after being on duty for the last eight hours. She rotated every ten hours with her XO but felt out of place when not on duty.
      Even thought she was officially the prowler's commanding officer, she took orders from the cold Colonel Ackerson. She personally didn't like the Marine officer. She felt as if she wasn't needed. He made all the tactical decisions and told her where to go and when. To him, she and her crew were nothing more than transportation.
      Navigator Ensign first class Grey turned from his station and reported that they would be exiting slipspace in twelve hours give or take a few minutes. Kara acknowledged the Ensign's message with a nod. She pulled the wireless PA mic from the arm of her chair. "Bridge to Cryo-bay," she waited for a reply before continuing. "Awaken our Force Recon guests."

Force Recon, Scout Sniper part 3
Date: 12 July 2004, 3:41 AM

      Corporal Deel crouched his way slowly through the thick woods. The sun was setting leaving the sky a mixture of black and orange resembling a painting. Few birds chirped the bringing of night making it a pleasant scene. He paused kneeling on his right leg. He didn't hear his Spotter seven meters to his right and four meters back, but he could sense him. Ahead, the sniper could see where the ground started to decline steady forming the side of the hill. At the base of the hill would be a rebel camp and his target. Silently he hoped the Intel on this Op was accurate.
      He placed his S2 AM sniper's rifle between his legs as he checked his watch. The green illuminated numbers read 1907 hrs. The Scout Sniper only had another fifty three minutes before retrieval. He turned around to make eye contact with his Spotter. His eyes scanned where his Spotter was suppose to be before spotting a MA5B assault rifle sticking out of a clump of leaves. He could barely make out the Spotter's camoflagued face but wasn't that the purpose?
      Deel was about to give the "move out" signal when he heard a twig snap off to his left. Turning his head quickly he could make out three forms about seventy-five meters away. Slowly, the sniper lowered himself to the ground. His Ghillie suit would distort his profile and blend him into the foliage. The sniper retracted his sniper rifle under the cover of his Ghillie suit, folded down the weapon's bipod, and extended it forward. The process was silent as the bipod settled unto the ground. He placed the rifle's Oracle sight to his right eye. Adjusting the magnification to four times zoom he placed the crosshairs on the figures.
      The rebel patrol was speaking loudly. Their neo-German was rough and their heavy accents didn't help. They walked in a loose line as they spoke amongst themselves laughing every few seconds. The sniper could see that they wore hunter's uniforms mixed with military fatigues. They each carried foreign made weapons that Deel had never seen before. He made a mental note to look up the makes and models.
      The Scout Snipers waited until the rebel patrol was a hundred and fifty meters away before continuing. They crawled the remaining thirty meters to the side of the hill and carefully proceeded down. The trees and vegetation started to thin out as the Marines reached their firing position (FR). The FR was a section of the hill where it flattened out like a ledge, containing a large bush.
      The Force Recon Marines started to set up their equipment. Corporal Deel set the bipod of his S2 Am while his Spotter set up the Ground to Space Radio (GSR). The small device was a quarter of a meter high with an adjustable satellite dish on top. The Spotter turned the dish until he received a signal from the UNSC Carrier in space above the planet. He radioed in their situation report (SitRep).
      The trageting reticle of the sniper's scope scanned back and forth across the rebel encampment. They had several stolen UNSC Warthog LRVs roving around the perimeter. Pre-fab memory-plastic cubicles replaced the use of permanent structures. They differed in size with a large two story cubicle in the middle. Deel figured this was the command post. It contained several windows but they were covered sheets. The light from inside casted shadows as people on the inside moved pass the windows.
      Guard towers were positioned at the four corners of the camp with large spot lights scanning the area around the base. The Force Recon Scout Sniper team was safely outside the security partols and spot lights by two hundred meters.
      Deel checked the distance range finder of his Oracle scope and compared it to the reading his Spotter received from his binoculars. They matched and all relevant information was radioed to FLEETCOM. The sniper checked his watch. Only fifteen minutes until retrivel.
      The mission was simple, recon the rebel camp and laser designate it for bombing by a Longsword squadron at 2000 hrs. If the rebel leader a Colonel Higlzer was spotted, Deel was to take the shot to confirm that he was dead. INTEL had little on this rebel leader. All they knew about him was that he wears a red beret and a silver chain with a Nazi swatsica on it. At this point the Colonel wasn't visible. Deel continued to sweep across the base. Rebels walked back and forth, while others sat around fires. They have no idea what was instore for them. In less than ten minutes the valley below would be a giant fireball of death and destruction. The thought made Corporal Deel smile.
      The targeting reticle landed on the front door of the camp's command post. The door openned and several important looking rebels exited. The last person out wore a red beret. Deel closed in on the figure. He was shocked, Colonel Higlzer was a woman. She was easily in her fourties but still attractive in that aged kind of way. Her blond hair flowed in the wind as she struggled to keep her beret from blowing away. The unbuttoned top of her shirt revealed the swatsica on her chain.
      His Spotter nudged Deel getting his attention. The two looked at each other. No words were needed. Both read the same INTEL file. The last line of the briefing suggested the rebel leader could be a female but neither of them expected this to be true. The Spotter set to the task of calculating the necessary math for the shot. Taking in the elevation, wind speed, and distance to target, the Spotter instructed Deel to adjust the nob on his scope by three clicks down on the left and one click up on the right.
      The sniper had never " neutralized" a woman before. Of the twenty three confirmed kills under his belt, all had been men and important Covenant warriors. Deel placed the reticle on her head as his Spotter radioed the information to FLEETCOM. The reply was expected, 'take the shot.'
      The sniper started to zone out the world. The only thing in his life at that moment was the trigger and his target. He aligned the targeting circle between her cold blue eyes as she saluted a subordinate. He pulled the trigger.

0855 Hours (Military Time), January 25, 2553 (Military Calendar)/ ONI stealth prowler Mystic/ Slipstream space- unknown coordinates
      Colonel Ackerson sat at his desk reviewing Sergeant Erik Deel's Career Service Vitae for the fifth time. He's a true soldier, the officer thought to himself. Thirty two confirmed kills and other twenty unconfirmed. Joined the Corps at the age of sixteen, promoted to Lance Corporal at eighteen and volunteered to be a Drop Shock on the day of his birth day. After training, he was a platoon sharpshooter and assigned to the infamous 105th Drop Jet Platoon. He was one of the three survivors of his unit's slaughter on Jericho VII. Two years later and Deel was recommended for Force Recon and then Scout Sniper. Here, he was sent to put down rebel leaders poking at the open wound in the UNSC's side caused by the Covenant. The Colonel was impressed that he killed a female rebel officer. Very impressive, he's loyal, just the kind of guy we need.
      The office phone rang and he picked it up. "Thank you Captain for informing me." Hanging up the phone, he picked it back up and dailed the Cryo-bay. A female answered. "Its Ackerson, you know what you have to do."

0902 Hours (Military Time), January 25, 2553 (Military Calendar)/ ONI stealth prowler Mystic/ Slipstream space- unknown coordinates

      Sergeant Erik Deel awoke. His eyes were blurry as the dream escaped his mind to the point that he wasn't even sure of the subject anymore. I was on a mission... rebel leader...female. These thoughts were replaced as the neurons in his brian began to send signals quickly as they received information from his senses. The figure infront of him was blurry but human. Colors started to form to a bright light on a brown figure. At first he thought it was his mother. The same skin complexation but it couldn't be, she was dead. His ears started to operate as sound entered. It sounded like words but his frontal cortex was not fully operational to process the words and their meaning. Bits and pieces started to fall together.
      The Sergeant soon realized that his eyes weren't blurry but instead he was seeing wisps of fog flow from the cryogenic tube. The figure infront of him was repeating the same phrase over and over, "breath... Sergeant breath." She was like an Angel, am I dead?
      He started to panic as he realized he wasn't breathing. Pushing himself up from the gel bed, he leaned over the side of the cryo tube and tried to inhale. He began to cough until the clear cryo bronchial surfactant fluid erupted from his lungs. The coughs were violent at first but grew gentler after a few seconds.
      Clear of the cryo fog, he could make out the cyro tech that awakened him. She's beautiful, was the first thought that came to mind. Her light brown skin was similar to that of his mom's. She took his left hand and proceeded to check his pulse. Her touch was gentle and her skin was soft. She continued to speak to him with a smile but he was still only processing a few words here and there. Looking at the screen next to Deel's tube she checked on his respiration and heart rate. Both were close to normal. Producing a hand towel from the cargo pocket of her yellow jumpsuit she proceeded to wipe the "freezer burn" from the Drop Shock's chest. She continued to smile as she wiped his build frame.
      Sergeant Deel proceeded to put on his BDU pants. Finnished with that task, he sat on the bench next to his locker. His body was still tired from the stalk training those days ago or was its months. He didn't know how long he was "frozen." The cyrotube did little in respect to what actual sleep does. Looking up, the sniper saw the same beautiful tech awakening his Spotter, Corporal Baker. The two had done several Ops together and he trusted the Corporal with his life.
       Baker took the awakening process better than Deel had and was out of his tube in half the time. He stood on the cold white tile deck and streched his body to his full height of five feet ten inches. Baker wasn't as built as Deel but his Irish American frame was more physical fit than "regular" Marines as an ODST requirement. The Spotter walked over to his friend followed by the cyro tech.
      Deel and Baker clasped hands and exchanged greetings. Tech Officer (2nd class) Miranda Gloss introduced herself. Deel examined her five feet, five inch body. Her feminine shape was hidden under her jump suit except for her ample breast. The sniper smiled as thoughts entered his mind but he pushed them aside. Miranda's voice was sweet as she explained the Colonel's orders to the Marines.
       "We are twelve hours from exiting Slipspace. Colonel Ackerson suggest that you take two hours of personal time to eat, workout, shower, and other personal heigene. Then you are ordered to have eight full hours of sleep. We need you guys all rested up for your mission. At 1900 hrs you'll be awaken for briefing and mission perpartion."

      Deel exited his private shower in a pair of olive drag shorts. The shower felt great after working out with Baker in the Prowler's small weight room. He had eaten a great meal of beef and potatoes in the cafeteria which was better than most of the food he'd ever eaten in his six years in the Corps. It reminded him of the last meal convicted murders get before their execution.
      The Drop Shock climbed under the covers of his bunk. His body was tired and needed rest badly. It didn't take him long before he drifted asleep. Dreams came and went during REM sleep. After a particular dream of reliving seeing his mother die in that hospital bed, Deel woke up staring at the ceiling. He turned onto his side to see light flood his room as the door opened. Damn has it been eight hours already? A figure entered the room, and to his surprise, the door closed. He was about to sit up when a hand gentlely pressed against his shoulder. He heard Miranda's voice say, "its me."
      Deel was confused but didn't resist as she slid into the bed with him. Her body pressed against his and he realized that she was naked.

      Colonel Ackerson had fallen asleep at his desk. After finnishing all the necessary paperwork for the up coming mission, the ONI officer was tired. He had forced himself to finnish working on the budget for his many Special Operations. The failed SPARTAN program had drained millions from his own projects and that still angered him. If all went well with this next mission, the UNSC would give him all the money he needed for his "projects." That pleasant thought had led him to sleep.
      The sound of the door buzzer had awaken the Marine officer. He sat up from his desk fixing his uniform as he did so. There were a few wrinks but he didn't care, he was still tired. The buzzing continued until he hit the switch on his desk and watched as the door slide open.
      Tech Officer (2nd class) Miranda Gloss walked in and saluted. He nodded and gestured for her to sit at the chair opposite his desk. "How did it go?"
"It was fine sir," the cyro tech said as she stood at the position of parade rest.
"I know that was an odd request of you, but we need to give Sergeant Deel a reason to survive this mission at all cost so that we may utilize his skills for another. I don't know whats a greater reason to live than love."
"I'm aware of that Colonel," she smiled. "If serving your species is that," she paused searching for the right word. "Fun, I'm glad I signed up."
"I know I've said this before, but this mission could be a deciding factor in this war."

Force Recon, Scout Sniper part 4
Date: 21 July 2004, 3:39 AM

A future lit by their accomplishments
Their struggles and failures
And most importantly; their hope

For hope is what the Covenant lack
They know not of defeat or despair
And for that, they shall not know victory.


2114 Hours (Military Time), January 25, 2553 (Military Calendar)/ ONI stealth prowler Mystic/ Fross Star System
      Sergeant Deel and Corporal Baker stepped off the lift onto the deck of the small "Hell's Waiting room." The ONI prowler housed two rows of five oval shaped Human Entry Vehicles, ten in total. The Marines continued down the short compartment to the last two drop pods checking their equipment as they walked. Both wore woodland camo BDUs with olive drag equipment belts and load bearing equipment (LBE). The LBE consist of two vertical, padded straps over the shoulders that connect to their equipment belt in the front and back. This disperses the weight of the Marines' ammo, grenades, flares, radio, and med packs. Rucksacks are carried in their hands with their Ghillie suits rolled up and secured at the bottom in black, plastic tubes.
      Green and brown powder coated battle rifles are strapped diagonally across their chests with the butt stocks facing up. Deel's rifle is equipped with a longer than stock scope that could easily be switched between 2x and 4x zoom. Baker opted to remove the lower hand guard and attached a M20G3 .40 mm high explosive (HE) grenade launcher.
      The modified S2 AMSF2 Special Forces sniper rifle is stripped and divided with Deel carrying the receiver, bolt assembly, and the new light weight, folding butt stock. Baker carries the barrel, scope, sling, and bipod. Each part vacuumed sealed in plastic and packed into olive drag gun cases and attached to the side of their rucksacks.
      Scout Snipers always go into battle carrying what the Corps refers to as "light gear." This means without ballistic armor or helmets unlike their Marine sharpshooters counterparts who drop into combat with full gear and fight within a squad. Deel reflected on those days with the 105th Drop Jet Platoon on Jericho VII. Images of the wave after wave of charging Covenant Grunts filled his mind as well as the stream of plasma that ripped through his platoon. The sniper pushed the thought out of his head. They were good men.
      The duo stopped next to Baker's HEV. He knelt on his right leg and attached a two meter long bungee cord to his rucksack and the other end to the ankle part of his drop boots and then another strap two inches below his knee. Standing to his full height, the spotter checked the straps of his rifle to his LBE. The two Force Recon Marines shook hands. "I'll see you on the ground," Sgt Deel said as Baker climbed into his drop pod.
      With Baker secure in his HEV, Deel prepared to enter his. The door to the room slid open getting the Sergeant's attention. Colonel Ackerson stepped onto the deck and commenced starting forward. Deel was impressed with the Marine officer, I've yet to see a single wrinkle in his uniform.
      When Ackerson was three meters away, Deel snapped to attention and saluted. To his surprise, the officer didn't return his salute but instead extended an open hand. The Marines shook hands. As if reading the Drop Shock's mind, Ackerson said, "I just wanted to check on my troopers." Sgt. Deel responded with a truthful thank you.
      "Remember Sergeant, this is just a recon mission. You have the data pad right?" Ackerson asked followed by the NCO patting the pouch attached to his equipment belt.       "Good. The name of the game is stealth but I don't have to tell you that. That's what we pay you Force Recon guys for. The data pad has a list of all the relative information we want about the enemy cruiser's exterior defenses and the code word for each piece. I suggest that once you reach your firing position, just review the list and familiarize yourself with the code words."
"Yes sir," a simple answer from a simple man.
"Oh before I forget, pay extra attention to the code words governor and mayor. If you see a governor," he paused for a second. "Take the shot. If you see a governor and mayor together, take both shots. A mayor alone isn't worth the shot. This goes above all other recon data. Radio in the situation; take the shot or shots, and fallback to the designated extraction zone for immediate retrieval. Do you understand what I have just told you Sergeant?"
"Aye, aye sir."
"Good luck Marine and come back in one piece, I might have other assignments for you."
      Sergeant Deel nodded trying not to laugh at the term 'assignment' like this was homework or a school project. He watched as Ackerson exited the drop room before turning back to his HEV. Adjusting the holster strapped to his upper thigh for his black powder coated M6D pistol, minus the 2x zone, the Drop Shock expertly climbed into his 'egg' and sealed the hatch.
      The small flat screen monitor positioned six inches from his nose snapped to life revealing a count down starting at fifty seconds. That was more than enough time for the ten second procedure of securing his harness, running the systems check, remove safeties, arm the ejection tube, and brace his boots against the bulkhead. This left Erik with forty seconds to contemplate the random assortment of thoughts that entered his mind. He reflected on his night with Miranda and her beauty, and then shifted to the Colonel's last minute briefing, and finally stopping on the dangers that accompanied HEV drops. This would be his thirty first or was it thirty second combat drop. He stopped counting after so many missions as they all started to blur together in his memory. All his drops occurred without incident to himself, but he knew many other Helljumpers who bought the farm from enemy anti-aircraft fire or whose parachutes failed to deploy. Drop Shocks couldn't... didn't have the luxury of contemplating these forms of death. They all volunteered to be Helljumpers and wearing the golden comet patch came at a cost.
      Deel came out of his private thoughts to see a zero appear on the curvilinear status screen. There was a sudden explosion as the drop pod blasted out of the drop tube. The Sergeant's body slammed against his five point harness. He gripped the seatbelt with all his might as the HEV cleared the prowler and fell towards the planet below. A moment of weightlessness followed as Deel free fell through the planet's upper atmosphere.
      The temperature started to raise steady at first but at a point it increased drastically. The status screen read 101 degrees then it started to shake violently along with the rest of the 'egg.' It flipped end over end twice before balancing out. All the Drop Shock inside could do was hold on and pray. He only had control of two functions of the pod, deploying the emergency parachute and detaching himself from the pod when the time came, but they were of no use now.
      The high velocity and the high temperatures that followed started tearing away at the pod's first layer of ceramic skin. The first chute deployed and rapidly decelerating the pod. Deel's body jerked against his harness from the rapid deceleration and accelerated again as the chute broke away, but that was its purpose.
      The second skin peeled away like an orange revealing the light weight Titanium A alloy crash cage and the Marine inside. Cool air rushed all around the Drop Shock as his HEV passed through the clouds. The second chute deployed but this time stayed slowing his fall. The status screen displayed his altitude in meters as it decreased. A blink appeared on the radar signal coming from the Mystic revealing an object moving towards him. The computer identified it as Corporal Baker's pod.
      Seventy five meters from the drop zone, Deel flipped a switch with his thumb. An explosive charge disconnected the straps of the parachute followed by a second of freefall before a second explosion blew the top hatch of the HEV. The fold down chair that the Drop Shock is strapped to slide out of the pod. Clear of the pod and at fifty meters from the ground the Marine pulled his last chute. This was a perfect two-point landing... if it was actually on solid land.
      The black outline of the lake below came into view as the waves broke against the shore. The loud crash of the empty HEV hitting the water broke the silence and it rapidly began to sink. Looking down, Deel could see the rucksack hanging from his ankle as it sank into the water followed by his legs and then the rest of his body. He held his breath until the air trapped between the surface of the lake and the chute caused the chute to float. The sniper pulled the quick release tab on his harness while keeping a grip on the harness. Using his upper body strength, he pulled on the straps, forcing the chute under the water. Like a blur his hands reached for the breathing device attached to his LBE. He ripped off the plastic cover and stuffed the mouthpiece into his mouth. Oxygen filled his lungs. He started kicking his legs, propelling himself up.
      Another two crashes and Baker was under the water starting the unclipping procedure. Both made eye contact as they swam to the surface unstrapping their weapons from across their chest.
      A dark head emerged from the water causing circular ripples to rush away. A scope appears followed by the rifle's barrel. The figure holding the weapon sweeps left and right scanning the tree line for any movement. Another figure emerges three meters away doing the same thing. Water flows out of the large diameter of the second figure's grenade launcher attached to his weapon.
      They move forward onto the shore and quickly into the woods. Stopping thirty meters into the woods, the Marines stop and disconnect their rucksacks from their ankles and pulled them onto their backs. Checking all gear, they begin walking more into the forest until they are sure that the Covenant aren't approaching or already present.

2129 Hours (Military Time), January 25, 2553 (Military Calendar)/ ONI stealth prowler Mystic/ Fross Star System

      Colonel Ackerson stepped unto to the bridge after stopping at his office. Strolling up to Captain Kara Manu he stopped by her command chair. While looking straight ahead out the bridge window, at the planet that took up half of the view, he spoke. "What's the status on our package Captain?"
"Camera's show that they landed in the lake as planned. A large cloud formation moved into our view. They should be reporting in any minute."
      As if on cue, the communications officer signaled for their attention. Captain Manu told the ensign to put it on loud speak. A rough, out of breath voice boomed through the speakers. "This is Foxtrot Romeo to TACCOM. We are GO over."
      Ackerson smiled to himself but the facial expression vanished before anyone could see. All is going to plan.

Force Recon, Scout Sniper Part 5
Date: 24 January 2005, 3:47 AM

I know it has been a long time since I've posted a chapter of my story. To the newbies and even the veterns, I encourage you to read the 4 other parts before this one to understand the storyline. This chapter is plot continuation, not a lot of action but important for the story as a whole.

2145 Hours (Military Time), January 25, 2553 (Military Calendar)/ ONI stealth prowler Mystic/ Fross Star System.

      Captain Kara Manu was relieved when Colonel Ackerson left her bridge. She had a general dislike for the Marine officer, but she respected him at the same time. Tapping the stylus from her data pad on her pink lips she sighed. At the age of forty six, she possessed that aged beauty. The few wrinkles that radiated from the sides of her eyes were the results of years in the UNSC Navy and she figured that a few were from the Colonel. Forty six and never married, close but the Covenant had taken that away from her.
      Ackerson had used her. Kara held a strange reservation about that fact. Staring out the main view screen at the planet below the Mystic, she tried to fight the memories. The image of his strong arms holding her on the cold nights would not leave. His facial features were blurry; it was that long since she had last seen him. Holding back the tears, that followed the realization that she would never see him again, were difficult but she managed.
      Coming out of her private thoughts she returned her attention to the task at hand. "Ensign Jones, launch the surveillance satellites. Once they're in position move us to the dark side of the planet's moon. And make it quick, I don't want to be caught out in the open if a Covenant ship decides to randomly enter the system."
      The male navigator replied with an aye, aye ma'am before returning to his task. The Mystic shuttered twice. Kara watched as the Ensign guided the satellites into orbit with a mini joystick while controlling their thrusters so they wouldn't get pulled in by the planet's gravitational force.

      The stars seemed so close but just out of reach. Lieutenant Commander Kara Manu stood erect with her hands behind her back staring out at the stars. For whatever reason, the repair station docked with her supply vessel was kept at a cold fifty degrees. This caused her body's muscles to involuntarily shake in order to produce additional body heat.
      They were so far but yet so close she kept thinking to herself. The Naval officer tried to image what early man used to think about the stars. Standing on Earth and looking up into sky. They probably thought that the dots of light were impossible to reach. Thousands of years later, all it took were a few seconds of calculations by an AI to plot a slipspace jump to as close to one as currently possible.
      The Lieutenant Commander turned her attention to her plasma scarred supply ship off to the right side of the large plain of plexi-glass that separated the vacuum of space from the internal atmosphere of the repair station. She reflected on how lucky she and her crew were to escape the Covenant destroyer that tried so hard to end their lives.
      Her eyes followed the charred black, twisted, and melted metal that once occupied the lateral starboard side of the aging space ship. The massive docking arm of the space station cradled over her vessel as dozens of lines of piping ran from it into the battle damaged ship. The view reminded Kara of the IVs running into her navigators' arm as the Corpsmen carried him from the bridge after escaping the prowling Covenant warship.
      The echoing sound of hard rubber shoes marching on the metal floor caught Manu's attention. Turning her head gracefully to the left, she observed the middle aged Marine officer flanked by two rough looking Marines with rifles approaching her. Her eye caught the silver eagle ranks perched on the lapels of the officer's Class A uniform. Completing a left face, the Lieutenant Commander snapped to attention and saluted.
      The Marine Colonel's dark grey eyes seemed to examine her from head to toe as he marched in unison with his guards. It didn't take her long to realize that they weren't normal Marines. The golden comet patch on their shoulders identified them as Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. Why would a Colonel need bodyguards on a United Nations Space Command space station? The answer was clear but she chose not to assume. One of the first lessons she learned in Officer Candidate School. Never assume that's how you make an ass of yourself if you're wrong. In battle the opponent that is wrong is the loser, and losing in battle results in death.
      The officer in his green dress uniform signaled with his left hand for his guards to halt as he closed the gap between himself and Kara. Ten meters away he finally returned her salute before stopping only a meter away from her.

"Lieutenant Commander Manu, it's a pleasure to meet you. I'm Colonel Ackerson Office of Naval Intelligence." His deep voice seemed to hide his intentions well as Kara ran his name through her memory. She had never met the Marine officer before.

"What brings a high ranking ONI officer out to the middle of no where, Colonel?" She responded to the officer's stern face with a smile. It didn't work to ease his seriousness.

"That was some very," Ackerson paused to find the right words. "Very creative maneuvering you performed today. Why didn't you just leave the system as soon as the enemy ship exited slipspace?"

"My ship was taking on precious cargo. I did not want to leave until the last possible moment, sir."

"Even if that requires endangering the lives of you and your crew?"

"Yes, sir."

"And what was this precious cargo?"

"My ship received a distress call from a colony ship. Their engines went out. We responded and were in the process of transporting the two hundred and thirty colonists to my ship when the Covenant destroyer entered the system."

"Let me jump to the point Kara." Manu didn't like the way he said her first name. It suddenly made her feel uncomfortable. "ONI has a need for your determination. More importantly I have a need for it. I need an experienced naval officer like yourself to command my personal Prowler. Once you agree, you will be instantly promoted to the rank of Captain and then I'll be further able to brief you on what you're responsibilities would be in working for me."

      Commander Manu wondered if the Colonel Ackerson noticed the hesitation in her eyes. "Before you answer, I unfortunately have some bad news." He paused awkwardly as the quizzical look appeared involuntarily on Kara's face. Producing a handheld holo-graphic projector from his pocket he held it between himself and the naval officer. The device snapped to life. A planet appeared followed by a small flash of white light. Three miniature UNSC ships exited the light. Manu listened as Ackerson explained what she was seeing.

"This is a recreation of a battle that happened five days ago in a newly discover star system. You might recognize the lead ship. That is the
Sigma." Ackerson paused and observed Kara's reaction.

      A rush of memories and thoughts filled her mind. Why is he showing me this? What happened to this battle-group? What happened to Carl? She watched the holo-display with attention.

"Commander, I know this is going to be hard for you to watch but it is important that you know. Captain Carl Louis's detachment exited slipspace because of a malfunction with his battle cruiser's AI. The group approached the system's only planet as the crew ran system diagnostics. We still aren't sure why, but a Covenant flagship entered the system. The first set of MAC rounds hit the enemy ship dead on, but it's shields took all the damage. Our ships on the other hand weren't that lucky."

      Kara watched as the small representations of the UNSC ships and the one purple Covenant ship exchanged fire. Captain Louis's cruiser was able to avoid the first volley of plasma torpedoes but the two destroyers that flanked it weren't that fortunate. One UNSC warship took a hit to its bridge instantly killing the crew and crippling the ship. The plasma burned through the vessel as the second destroyer tried to turn and took the torpedo on the middle of its starboard side. The force from the impact twisted the destroyer's superstructure. It snapped from the pressure breaking the ship into two.
Sigma recovered from its evasive maneuvers and leveled itself out before firing another MAC round followed by hundreds of Archer missiles. The heavy tungsten shell penetrated the enemy ship's shields and impacted the engines. Wounded the Covenant capital ship spun slowly towards the system's only planet before the gravity pulled the flagship into the atmosphere.

"Moments after winning, three enemy cruisers entered the system and destroyed the

      Kara gasped at the unemotional way that the Marine officer just told her that her fiance, Captain Carl Louis, was dead. She took a step away from Ackerson as she forced herself not to cry or in fact, show any emotion.

      Captain Manu excused herself from the bridge of the Mystic, leaving her Executive Officer in command. The memories were overwhelming her mental defenses and bringing with them a rush of emotions. How could Colonel Ackerson use the killing of her fiancé to recruit her for his Black Ops? The answer was too easy, because it worked.

Force Recon, Scout Sniper Part 6
Date: 6 June 2006, 4:22 pm

0459 Hours (Military Time), January 26, 2553 (Military Calendar)/ Planet classification Omega 23/ Fross Star System

      Despite all the rigors of ODST training, Force Recon training, and more than three dozen combat missions, Sergeant Deel couldn't stop his heart from beating faster as the Covenant patrol approached. He blinked twice, coating his right eye with moisture as it followed the enemy's movement through the scope of his camouflaged battle rifle.
      Two Grunts walked ahead of a Jackal, barking loudly in their language. The subtle body movements of the orange feathered Jackal depicted its dislike in its assignment. The bird like alien's head hung low watching it's feet as it continued along the beaten patrol path. Looking up for a moment, it snarled at the sight of the two Grunts and continued back to its boredom.
      Two rifles with steady fingers followed the trio of Covenant foot soldiers as they disappeared out of view. Sergeant Deel and Corporal Baker moved from a prone position to one knee as their weapons continued to point in the direction of the patrol. Deel slung his rifle over his right shoulder, taking a moment to wipe the sweat from his forehead before it rolled into his eyes. Producing a data pad from his utility belt, he typed in the four digit pass code. The device's menu appeared with several options. The sniper commanded the device to connect to the surveillance satellites launched from the Mystic. A lay out of the planet's, dominate continent appeared with two triangles representing the Force Recon Marines and a large rectangle for the enemy cruiser.
      Deel used the satillete uplink to zoom in further. His eyes scanned the topographical image on the screen for a suitable firing position. The image rotated, zoomed in and out at the sniper's control. Numbers representing distance and coordinate planes raced across the image, but none of the data satisfied him. The situation wasn't ideal, but when in war was that possible, Erik thought to himself. The Covenant cruiser was positioned in a large valley. The satellites couldn't give him an idea of how deep the valley was, but estimated it to be a little over two kilometers wide. Sergeant Deel logged out and turned off the device. He would have to see with his own eyes the particulars of the enemy's location.

      Platoon leader, Second Lieutenant Jason Temyer ducked as the superheated plasma bolts flew over head while others struck the steel and reinforced concrete ramparts. Machine gun and battle rifle fire answered the enemies advance. Temyer knew the battle wasn't faring to well. His platoon had repelled two Covenant attacks but with heavy casualties. The thirty eight Marine infantry platoon was down to twelve able bodied men.
      Sitting with his back against the meter and a half high wall, Lt. Temyer pulled the empty magazine from his battle rifle and replaced it with a full one. Glancing to his right he watched Lance Corporal Bois on the M247 GP Machine Gun. The Marine's body shook violently as he held down the trigger. Plasma flew by the gunner's head but they didn't even evoke a reaction or reflex. The Marine officer had seen the scene before, it was desperation. The hopelessness of the war had taken over the Marine manning the standing machine gun. The only things that mattered were the targets in his sights.
      Temyer debated pulling Bois off the heavy weapon and having him assist with the wounded. Another option was decided for the Lieutenant as he watched a green plasma bolt impact the Lance Corporal's helmet. The near deafening sound of the machine gun stopped instantly as the limb body hit the ground a few seconds later. The closest Marine in the recently deceased Corporal's fire team moved to check on their leader. Private Morris looked up at Lt. Temyer. His hands were covered in rich red blood and pieces of brain tissue. Time seemed to slow as a single tear formed and rolled down the Marine officer's face. The battle could be heard roaring around the Lieutenant, but his mind refused to expect it. Nothing existed except for him and the blood covered Private.
      An explosion rocked the structure throwing Temyer to the concrete floor. His mind raced back to reality. A flash of bright green disappeared from where the M247 GP Machine Gun used to be. Private Morris was laying on his stomach as the smoke from his blackened and charred skin and uniform blew in the wind. Before the officer could ask what happened, two purple Banshees flew over the Marines' position. Fuck this. Temyer thought as he activated his COM.
"Outpost Bravo Whiskey to control do you copy?"
"Control here Bravo Whiskey, what's your SITREP?" replied the calm voice through Temyer's headset.
"Under sustained attack, effective strength down to ten, requesting immediate EVAC." The Lieutenant tried to block out the noise of gunfire as he awaited the reply.
"Negative Bravo Whiskey, the area has been deemed too hot for extraction. Trying to redirect air support to your location, hold for further directions."
       "Fuck," escaped Jason's lips as he took his place back on the walls of the outpost. The Covenant were advancing across the open kill zone. The range finder on his scope labeled the row of Jackals, with over lapping shields, at less than a hundred meters, with Elites following closely behind. Most of the enemy's Grunts were dead and their bodies served only as a hindrance for the remaining Covenant warriors to step over.
      Platoon Sergeant Leo took a position next to Lt. Teymer. He hoisted the massive M19 SSM Rocket Launcher onto his shoulder. His finger laid softly against the trigger as the two Banshee flyers approached the outpost. Their fuel rod canons glowed green as they charged preparing to take lives. The target locking mechanism beeped in the Sergeant's ear followed closely by the weapon's firing. The rocket escaped the launcher leaving behind a plume of white smoke. It raced towards the duo of aircraft. The Banshees broke formation but too late for the lead craft as the rocket impacted the nose.
      Marines cheered at the destruction of the enemy plane. The second Banshee fired its fuel rod cannon from a distance and pulled out of its attack run. The weapon impacted a few dozen meters from the Marine outpost creating a haze of dirt and dust.
      The TAC COM beeped in Second Lieutenant Teymer's ear, demanding his attention. The officer opened the channel on his radio.
"Control to Outpost Bravo Whiskey," said the soft female voice back in the command and control center of the Battle Cruiser somewhere above the planet.
"Bravo Whiskey here control, where is my air support" Teymer demanded out of frustration and exhaustion.
"Redirecting a flight of Skyhawks to your location, ETA nineteen minutes, you're to hold position until they arrive."
      Lt. Teymer walked away from the ramparts of the pre-constructed outpost. "We don't have nineteen minutes, ammo is low, I have critical wounded." A stern male voice replaced the gentle one of the naval radio operator. "Lieutenant you are to hold your position those are your order!" The channel closed. The Marine CO kicked the air in pure unrestricted frustration. The urge to scream filled his mind as he struggled to contain his sanity.
      Composure was difficult to capture but Jason forced himself. Looking up, he was grateful that his Marines were attentive to the enemy and didn't notice their CO's unexpected outburst. Taking another minute to gather his thoughts, he came to the realization that silence filled the space around him. The Marines of second platoon, Bravo company 187th Regiment were not firing, and neither was the enemy. He advanced back to the concrete and steel walls. Standing next to Sergeant Leo, Teymer took in the sight. Two Covenant dropships approached from the west two hundred meters away and deployed two massive Wraith mortar tanks.
      Jason debated notifying Control, but ruled out the option. "Sergeant," he said followed by a strong yes sir from the platoon Sergeant. "Have Stonoisky help the Corpsman with the wounded, prepare them to be moved. Then gather all weapons and ammo from the dead and wounded, redistribute it among the men. I figure we have a few minutes before those Wraiths can warm up their plasma mortars and get into position. I don't wanna be here when that happens."
      Sergeant Leo nodded in approval and moved to execute his orders.

      The lone D77-TC Pelican gunship hugged the deck flying at ten meters. The thrust from its engines kicking up dried leaves and loose dirt in its wake, as the armed dropship approached its maximum speed over the flat field. The military green aircraft's battle scars of blackened sections of its armor, didn't affect the visible lethalness it still possessed for its enemies.
      Marine aviator Captain Carlos Domin decreased the power to the thrusts, slowing down the gunship. The range finder on his heads up display rapidly counted down as the eighty meter high hill approached. Pointing the rear and wing thrusters vertically down, the Pelican came to a halt, as the pilot delicately feed just enough power to the engines to keep the aircraft in a hover.
      Domin glanced over at his gunner and co pilot First Lieutenant James Resident. "I got the satellite uplink, Outpost Bravo Whiskey is just over this hill. Wait," Resident said as he zoomed the in the image on his screen. "Looks like two Wraiths two hundred and nineteen meters from the outpost. Their power levels are rising, they have to be charging their mortars."
"Guess we don't have much time then, Jim." Carlos replied swaying the aircraft side to side playfully. "What kind of weapons do we have left?"
"Hmm," Lieutenant Resident tapped his finger on the touch screen bring up a display of the Pelican. "We have one air to air, one tank buster and a little over three hundred rounds for the chain gun."
      Controlling the aircraft with his left hand, Captain Domin searched through the channel listing on the radio. "Outpost Bravo Whiskey this is Birds of Prey Leader call sign Bravo Papa One, what's the location on that Banshee." Carlos opened the channel for his gunner to hear.
       "We still don't have enough to take out that second tank," the gunner replied after closing the COM with bravo whiskey.
"There are Marines down there dieing, we aren't some punk ass naval flyers, we are Marine close air support, so that's what we're gonna do, get nice and close. Just get those targeting locks and I'll do the flying."
"Aye, aye sir. Ready when you are."
      The pilot pushed the throttle to the max, sending the gunship into a vertical climb over the hill. At a hundred meters, the Pelican leveled out.