They're Random, Baby!

Fan Fiction

HALO: Missing In Action by Hikaru-119

HALO: Missing In Action - Prologue to Chapter 3
Date: 14 December 2002, 7:47 pm

      The year is 2552 and mankind has been streatched out into a fledgling empire of several colony worlds for many years now. Over years past several decades human insurrections against Earth and her many off world neighboring colonies have taken place and a unified government had been needed to control these conflicts. Thus the United Nations Space Command, U.N.S.C. was formed.

      The U.N.S.C. created by the many colonies and Earth now governs most of the known universe under human control. Only loose rebels and smugglers do not fall under the command of the U.N.S.C. Yet these rebels are only one of two threats to humanity. The other is known only as the Covenant.

      The Covenant first known to mankind in the year 2525 made their first apearance above the outer-colony world Harvest. Only one ship came about and glassed the whole planet killing 3 million people in a short span of time. The U.N.S.C. ships in the area came to defend the now decimated colony were all but one destroyed. The remaining ship badly damaged and almost in total ruin made a desperate jump to the military colony of Reach. There it described the seeming unstoppable warship that destroyed Harvest and the U.N.S.C. ships in the area. That started the current losing war for the U.N.S.C.

      Now after nearly thirty years of war against the Covenant humanity is nothing more than a hand full of colonies and Earth evading complete destruction of the religously hell bent Covenant Warrior class. As of late the planet thought incapable of being over run, Reach has fallen under Covenant attack and a lone ship, the Pillar of Autumn, armed with many Marines and the last survivor of the human super soldiers known as SPARTANs have escaped the fall of Reach and have now retreated to an unknown ancient alien ring world where they now continue their desperate fight against the Covenant.

Chapter 1: Miss Drop

      The Pillar of Autumn was launching its escape pods and Pelican Dropships at a rapid rate. The situation was now very grim for the survivors of the Fall of Reach. Suddenly multiple bright plasma bolts hit and boiled away at the Pillar of Autumn's hull. As these hits pummeled the ship smaller guns began to target the life pods and dropships. The Covenant wanted all of the survivors dead on the ship and off it.

      A small amount of the escaping pods and dropships were shot by other bolts of plasma. They were instantly pulverized in the vacuum of space. The Pillar of Autumn was now accelerating towards the object that it had found. It was an artifact that can only be described as a gigantic derelict ring in space.

      Over one of the arctic regions of the ring came in an escape pod that was well off course. It streaked acrossed the cloudy sky and came close to the ground. As it flew out of control it left a line nearly 200 meters long of melted snow behind it when it finally crashed to the surface. Inside the pod though were a small group of U.N.S.C. Marines, Fire Team Tango and a crew man lucky enough to get in the pod before it launched.

      Meanwhile inside the pod everyone except the pilot were knocked out cold. The pilot was pasted acrossed the front wind shield. Blood was everywhere on her chair, helmet, and forward view. Finally until nearly 20 minutes had passed by did the Marines wake up. Among the team was Pvt. James Roberts, Pvt. Kevin Spencer, Pfc. Lucas Samarant, Cprl. John Watson, Sgt. Michael Taylor, Ensign Fredrick Hayward, and Lt. Victor Johnson. All of survivors excluding the ensign and Roberts had the standard mechanical brown body armor plates and steel reinforced kevlar helmet which contain nightvision, the targeting reticle for their firearm on the green hud that came over the right eye and the friend/or foe status marker.

      Confused the Marines exited the crashed pod after finding the pilot dead in her seat. As they did it began to snow lightly and the sound of a high pitched whine came from overhead. They were in a large wind tunnel so most of the survivors assumed nothing of this. Except the lieutenant. The lieutenant was a war torn man. His body was laiden with several battle scars from Covenant ground battles.

      He also had the longest record of combat with the Covenant and knew the sound of incoming covenant fliers known as Banshees. Attempting to put it in a good tone the lieutenant turned to the survivors with a look of fear and anger. This did not go well with the men at all. Finally he spoke up.

      " Men I am assuming you don't know what that sound is above us," he said getting confused looks from his men. " They are Covenant fliers most likely Banshees. I'm guessing about three considering that would be the normal amount on a light scouting patrol." The message did not go over well. Only after a minute had passed did Sgt. Taylor walked up to the Lt. with his MA5B at ready.

      " Sir what are your orders?" Taylor asked with a sturn expression upon his face.

      " From my experience and with as little of options as we have I suggest we find some place to hide. That would at least be the sensible thing to do." Lt. Johnson said. " Alright Marines we will be heading out in five! I want ammo packed, weapons distributed, and supplies packed anyway you can carry them. No hurry up and get to it!" he ordered.

      The men hurried as fast as their bodies would allow them to go. Gathering ammo and supplies from the weapons cache in the pod the Marines prepared with what little weaponry they had to take on the Covenant forces that were in the area. The ensign and Roberts then went over to the bodies of those who didn't make it and put on their armor. They knew they would need it.

      After ammo and supplies were distributed among the survivors the lieutenant moved out from the pod into the wind away from the sound of the banshees. Looking back at the men at his command the Lt. signaled them to come with him. They all hurried to catch up to his location.

      Then they heard the fliers. Sgt. Taylor ordered the men to fan out with his black hand and to stay low. No soldier argued. After fanning out Fire Team Tango was ready for the Covenant. The sound of the fliers became unsettling in the guts of the survivors. The whistle of the engines was terrifying. Finally the Covenant fliers came out from the cloud cover and did multiple sweeps around the life pod. After several runs the 3 banshees finally got into a formation that was similar to a V and fired thier fuel rod cannons. Green streaks of plasma hit the pod sending it up in smoke. The Banshees were now heading in the direction of the survivors.

      " All units hold your fire until my mark." Lt. Johnson orderd. The fliers now came closer and there purple chintonous armor could be seen with the two one meter long stubs that were best referred to as wings. The fliers flew right over the survivors not noticing them. A complete blessing. Then the Lt. yelled mark.

      The air was filled with 7.62 mm AP lead. Sparks came as the bullets pinged off the armor of the fliers. The covenant banshees made a sharp turn and came in firing with amazing speed. Bolts of superheated blue plasma struck near the marines sending pieces the ground around them up into the sky. During the bombardment a lucky bullet hit a pod on the center banshee and sent it crashing into another to its 4 o'clock. The lead one was destroyed and its wingman was badly damaged and came slowly to the ground.

      The Marines now had gone through a few magazines and the remaining flier was badly damaged. It to came close to the ground and its pilot opened the top half of the flier and jumped out to reveal its self. Smoke billowed out and the pilot ran to a nearby rock. The creature was nearly 8 ft in height and was wearing a dark blue uniform that revealed parts of gray leathery flesh at the joints of the armor. It waved its right arm around its face clearing the smoke revealing its split chin.

      Sgt. Taylor saw the pilot and threw a grenade behind the rock. An explosion came and sent the body up several feet into the air spraying a purplish colored blood in the corpse's general vicinity. The Marines gave a victory cheer and went and examined the body.

      They could see it was a Covenant field officer type, an Elite. The entire body had holes blown through it and purpulish blood was seeping through the wounds. Several of the men spat on the body and went about talking amongst themselves about their minor victory. Yet their memory as to the number of kills was off. The other banshee pilot was still alive and now out of the flier and coming about to flank what humans it could.

      After lying in wait behind a small rock formation the elite hopped out and threw a plasma grenade. It glowed bright blue and landed 8 meters away from his comrade's body. The Marines dove out of the way as the grenade exploded in a pillar of blue plasma. The Lt. was not about to lose his men quite yet.

      " Men find the bastard that threw that and take it down!" he ordered. But just as he finished his sentence the elite revealed itself and opened fire with its plasma rifle. Plasma streaked towards the Marines hitting the Lt. on his shin guard. The plasma melted the metal protectant and made it nearly worthless. The marines now without hesitation unloaded on the elite.

      Bullets flew and ricocheted off the elite's shields. Finally under too much bombardment the shields failed and AP rounds seared through body of the elite sending bits of flesh into the sky.

      " Good work men," the sergeant said reloading his MA5B. He then slung his rifle and approached the corpse of the elite and forcefully took the plasma rifle from the elite's cold dead fingers. After shouldering his MA5B and looking at the plasma rifle for a moment and getting a good grip on the weapon he carried it as his primary weapon for the time being. The Lieutenant then activated his helmet radio.

      " This is Fire Team Tango calling any nearby U.N.S.C. forces. Over. " Static came through after the lieutenant called. He repeated his message and recieved the same static. " Dammit. Alright men let's move out." the lieutenant said. The squad now moved onward towards the direction the fliers came. It was a long a silent walk into the wind for the squad and the cold was finally getting to some of them. The lieutenant wasn't doing so well either.

      His lower right leg had second degree burns from the plasma bolt that struck his armor. He attempted to hide the pain from his men, but every time he stepped on it a sign of pain streaked acrossed his face. Finally he stopped and orderded the squad to hold up for a 5 minute break. Watson and Samarant walked over to the lieutenant. He was holding his shin.

      " Sir what are your orders once this interval is completed?" Cprl. Watson asked. The lieutenant looked up from his wound and saw Watson's gruff face and looked back at his wound.

      " Soldier we will move out and attempt to find some sort of shelter. Once that is accomplished we'll need to try to communicate some how to anyone nearby. If there is anyone nearby." the lieutenant said. Watson and Samarant saluted and then went out on point before the break was over. By the time the squad was out of the interval they heard machine gun fire and the sound of plasma weapons as well.

      Watson came running back to the squad with Samarant's body over his shoulder. Blood was on both their faces. And Samarant's chest armor was blown to hell.

      " Sir" Watson said laying down the PFC, " Covenant Jackels sir about tweleve of them. We got four and then he was hit. They'll be coming soon."

      The lieutenant unslung his weapon and rallied the squad. " Men I want us to fan out in groups of 2 or 3. Cover your flanks and concentrate on one at a time. Now move out!" The squad did precisely what they were told. The jackels were now in the middle of the squad's poorly forged trap. They were ugly creatures. Their heads were shaped like those of a vulture and had yellow energy shields attached to their wrists. The aliens couldn't have been taller than about 5'6''.

      When the jackels stopped and looked around for the Marines they had just encountered the air filled with bursts of fire from the squad. The jackels were flanked and surprised too encounter more resistance and a plasma weapon being fired at them! The remaining Covenant jackels standing opened fire on the marines and took cover behind their shields. As bullets and plasma flew through the air the covenant were being pushed back into a small group of four. Then as the squad saw they were pushed back this far Pvt. Spencer stood up and yelled.

      " Frag out!" he yelled throwing a M9 HE-DP fragmentation grenade at the jackels. The enemy dove out of the way exposing their backs to a hail of lead and shrapnel. Fire Team Tango cheered at another minor victory that they accomplished with minimal casualties. A rare thing for any human squad to accomplish.

      " Marines gather their weapons and let's move out!" Sgt. Taylor ordered. He approached the bloody body of Pfc. Samarant and Cprl. Watson knealing next to him. The sergeant knelt down to examine thier wounds. " You all right soldier?" he asked Samarant. The Pfc. gave a bloody thumbs up. His abdomen had burn marks and the body armor was nothing more than a hunk of dead weight metal. " Good. " he said standing up. He walked over to Johnson with a bad look upon his face.

      " Is he going to make it sergeant?" Johnson asked.

      " He might if we had some damn biofoam and bandages. I estimate he will live for a while but in serious pain for the next day or two but after that I assume he will have slowly bled to death. We need to get him medical attention now sir." Taylor said. Johnson had a grim look. He nodded his head and mouthed the words "alright...alright," and went on over to him.

      Privates Spencer and Roberts ran over to the dead jackels. They began to yell obsenitites at the bodies and kicked them. Finally after a few minutes of rage they stopped. They also picked up two intact plasma pistols.

      " Watson, Hayward get your asses over here and give Samarant a hand. You got carry duty for now." Johnson barked. Roberts and Spencer ran over and slowly carried Lucas between them. The squad now in recuperation moved out.

      The weather was now becoming worse. The snow came down harder and the wind had picked up. It was now becoming dark on this section of the ring. The bitter cold swept across the whole squad. It was nearly an hour's hike before the squad decided to stop and rest. Johnson looked around trying to find a place for his squad to escape the cold. He looked carefully and saw a blinking blue light. He had found a small structure to hide in. He pointed to it and walked into it.

      As they entered the entire area was as dark and only the blinking light provided a light sourceas the unlit night sky. The marines then turned on their rifle mounted flashlights and saw the structure had many complicated designs engraved on the slate gray walls. There was also a small amount of plant life and large ice crystals that glistened as the lights went over them when they looked outside the entrance.

      " Hey lieutenant!" Ens. Hayward said brushing off the snow that had accumilated on him," What do you think of the place?"

      " Well ensign I think we will set up camp here for now. Anyone have any ideas on how we could start up a fire for some heat?" the lieutenant said. Spencer and Roberts looked at each other and gave a grin.

      They spoke in unison, " We do sir." the lieutenant turned to them and saw them hold up their plasma pistols.

      " Good suggestion. Go and find something to start it with." the Lt. ordered. Roberts and Spencer went away to find some wood. After finding sufficent amount of burning material they set it a'fire with a charged blast of their plasma pistols. Samarant was set next to the fire. The fire burned for three hours. Upon finishing their rest the squad set out once more.

Chapter 2: The Long Haul

      It was now two hours since Fire Team Tango had left their temporary resting location. In that time they encountered no Covenant forces. That is what they were worried about. Not knowing where and how many Covenant there may be just lying in wait to ambush them. A very uneasy thought for such a small amount of Marines. Other than these thoughts roaming around inside their minds the hike was rather dull.

      There was nothing to be seen that would be considered marvelous. There was the occasional group of trees or a rock slide that was along their path but other than that the fire team encountered nothing of significant interest. The fire team had now travled many a mile and were rather dulled on their senses considering the lack of action they had encountered in the past few hours. The squad had taken a short rest among another rock pile.

      It was still cold as it had been since their arrival on the ring world. The men were beginning to gripe and the lieutenant was no going to argue with their complaints. Considering he was thinking of the same basic things. Amidst the bickering Ens. Hayward found a spot to take a seat and avoided the confrontation. As he sat he heard several low hums about a few hundred meters away. Confused he consulted the squad.

      " Sir I think there is something you should hear just over in this direction." the ensign said leading everyone to where he was. They all leaned toward the sound and approached it rapidly. They ran through several thickets till finally they came to a stop near a ravine. The lieutenant could see a few blurs moving off in the distance. He pulled out his M9D pistol and activated the linked scope there displayed right on the HUD of his helmet's eye panel.

      Although it was only a two power magnifacation he could see what the source of the hum was. There was a convoy of nearly 4 Ghost light assualt vehicles and a Wraith motar tank. A challenge his squad could not take on with their amount of fire power. The lieutenant watched as the covenant armor rolled by. They hovered along and their purple bulbulous structure shined but barely. Finally they came to a stop. The Elites on the Ghosts looked spooked.

      Suddenly two white streaks came out from two tree tops killing two elites in the ghosts. Then the sound came to the squad. They were sniper rifle shots. Then the lieutenant saw two gray figures move by some rocks and plumes of fire came from them and struck the Wraith with explosive force sending it up in smoke. The remaining elites now zoomed around to find the new threat. Two more shots came from the trees causing the Elites to perish from the living and sending them to the dead. The ghosts crashed down to the ground.

      " Men lets move out." the lieutenant said going towards the ravine. He was nearly 100 meters away from the ambush site when he yelled out. " Marines!" The men down below acknowledged his presence and the presence of his squad. The group of ambushers approached the Lieutenant. They saluted and he returned the favor.

      " Sir. Am I glad to see you people." one of the men carrying a M19 SSM Rocket Launcher said. The rest of the squad caught up with the lieutenant.

      " Same here soldier. What unit are you from?" the Lt. asked.

      " From Fire Team Sierra. We dropped way off from our designated point and well...many of us didn't make it. Only Sergeants Gordon and Jacobs plus Private Griffes over there and myself Private Mclean made it out of our escape pod alive sir. Most of our gear was damaged or destroyed upon impact. Most of our ammo and supplies were also greased by those damned covenant Banshees. Sir. " the Marine said. The two snipers in the trees now came down from their spots and joined the group.

      Sergeant Gordon came over to McLean. " Who are they?" he asked reloading his rifle.

      " I don't know. Sir what unit are you from?" Mclean said with a puzzled look on his face.

      " Fire Team Tango. Well what is left of it anyway." the lieutenant responded. The lieutenant now had thought of something. " I have another question for you people. How did you know that a Covenant armored scouting party would come by?"

      " Sir I can answer that one. The fact is Griffes over there was sort of fooling around with his launcher and stumbled across a cliff edge and saw them moving along. So we decided to get into a posistion to ambush them . So we ran ahead of them and found where the cliff forms into this ravine here. So it was rather simple considering they were bottle-necked and packed tightly together." Gordon responded.

      " Well you boys did all of us a big favor by destroying that armor." Taylor said stepping in. " But why the hell didn't you avoid it? I mean for the love of god you could have lost your lives and not even had scratched them! But good work anyway."

      " It is our job to destroy the Covenant whenever possible. We are Marines. Sir." Griffes said. Taylor rolled his neck around once in bitterness towards the marine's comment. He didn't like be put into his place by those of lesser rank.

      " Very well then. Marines let's move out!" Johnson said heading towards the direction his squad had came. " We'll continue on our previous path." he said looking over his shoulder. The squad followed him as they continued on. He then realized he was one man short. " Hayward where's Samarant?"

      " Back up at the top sir. I'll go get him." Hayward responded.

      " See to it that you do. Roberts, Spencer help him out. I want you men down here double time. We can wait but only for so long." Johnson said. He then went over to the newest members of the team. " You men have any medical supplies on you? We have a critically wounded soldier."

      " I do." Mclean said. " I've got four units of biofoam, several bandages, morphine, the works. Why how badly is he wounded?" They were now back with Lucas. They set him down on the ground.

      " He was hit square in the abdomen with a charged shot. We need to get him medical attention soon or he'll bleed to death internally." Watson said walking over.

      " Alright then I'll get the supplies ready for him then." Mclean said putting his weapons aside. He bent down and removed a canister of biofoam and a package of bandages. He examined the burn wound and wrapped all but a small portion in bandages. Samarant winced in pain as the wound was tightly wrapped. Then in the uncovered part of the wound Mclean injected the biofoam. It was a sudden sting on the wound and it would be irritating for a long while, but it would keep him alive. Mclean then finished wrapping the wound and Samarant was nearly able to stand on his own two feet in a matter of minutes.

Chapter 3: Rememberance

      It was now rapidly approaching dark and the squad has wandered into a rather forested region of the ring. Still among the cold the squad was becoming tired and requiring rest. After being in the forested region for some time the lieutenant decided to stop the squad.

      " Men we rest here tonight. You have six hours. Mclean, Roberts, and I have first shift of guard duty. Gordon, Taylor, Watson, and Samarant have second. The rest of you have the remaining hour of sleep time on duty." Johnson said. The Marines went inot a general area of sleep and rested.

      Johnson found a spot to sit and began to clean his weapon. It wasn't a very long process until he was done. When he had finished the task Mclean and Roberts walked over to the tree he was at.

      " How's it goin sir?" Roberts asked sitting down on the other side of the tree.

      " Alright soldier. How about you?"

      " I'm fine sir." Roberts said looking up through the trees. As he did he could see the other side of the ring above him and many stars beyond it.

      " Good. So what did you want?"

      " Are we...I mean sir do you think we are the only ones who made it off the Pillar of Autumn?"

      " Watch your mouth son. Of course others made it. I mean why wouldn't they? Besides you need to have more faith in our Captain and the rest of the crew."

      " Sorry sir." Roberts said in shame. The lieutenant turned to look at Roberts.

      " Don't worry about it. Besides we should be able to meet up with the rest of the survivors shortly." Johnson replied. A long silence fell among those awake in the squad.

      " Hey sir. How many missions against the covenant have you had?" Mclean asked. Victor looked up into the sky and thought back really hard.

      " I can't remember, but I've been in the Corps. for 13 years now so I honestly don't know." Johnson replied looking up the trunk of the tree.

      " I joined just a year ago. I was there on Sigma Octanus 4. God that was a battle." Mclean said. Suddenly a very solemn look struck his face. Within his memory he saw his friends shot by Covenant troops and the fighting grow in his mind. The sight of blood and bodies flooded his mind. As these images grew he could remember the smell of burnt human flesh and the screams of the wounded.

      " I was there too. And you're right what a battle. Hey did you see the SPARTANs?"

      " Nope."

      " Excuse me sir," Roberts asked," but what is a SPARTAN?"

      " Why the most elite soldier the U.N.S.C. has. They wear some sort of green armored suit. I believe they have shields or something like that integrated into the suit. They are the one thing you want to see in a bad situation. They are our super soldiers." Johnson said. Then his voice dropped, " Except all but one didn't make it off REACH when the covenant hit us. If we are lucky we might see it."

      " Interesting. How come I haven't heard of them?" Roberts asked.

      " Good question, considering their fame amongst the entire U.N.S.C.," Johnson said looking at his watch," Its time to trade shifts. Johnson and the other two went over and awoke the next shift and went right out.

HALO: Missing In Action - Chapter 4 to Chapter 8
Date: 14 December 2002, 7:47 pm

Chapter 4: Incoming

      It was now dawn as the squad of survivors awoke to Griffes scream.

      " Holy shit! Covenant Dropship incoming!" The scream alerted everyone from their rest. Grabbing their rifles the fire team approached Griffes.

      " Where is it!? Griffes tell us!" Samarant yelled. Private Griffes pointed his M6D towards the direction the dropship landed.

      " Marines we are leaving!" Taylor yelled as he ran in the direction Griffes pointed out. The squad ran through the woods. As they approached the landing sight they could hear the hum of the dropship's engines. " Fan out encircle the landing zone!" Taylor screamed motioning the squad into position. They found an opening in the trees where the dropship was landing. It was a darker shade of purple like everything else the covenant had and was in the shape of a U with a turret mounted at the front.

      Fire team tango fanned out and watched as the covenant dropship doors folded down and spilled out its troops. Ten grunts pilled out. They were the Covenant equivilant of cannon fodder. About 5' and rather stocky. On their backs were shell like packs that housed a form of artifical enviornment generator creating conditions that were rather cold and methane based.

      The Marines lied in wait. They could hear the grunts as they talked among themselves. Their language was primarially barks, sqeeks, and other high pitched noises. It was nearly three minutes unitl the dropship finally left the grunts. As it did Taylor Stood up.

      " Now!" he yelled. The Marines fired their weapons setting three of the grunts on fire. The rest snapped into combat mode and fired their needlers. Pinkish spikes came flying at the squad only to hit branches and foliage. The needles exploded sending micro-shardes in the air. The grunt numbers fell rapidly leaving only one wounded one on the ground.

      " Get it before it reloades!" Samarant yelled. The Marines charged the wounded grunt. Watson in the lead was right on top of it as it rose its weapon to fire. Watson then kicked the gun out of its hand. The grunt was now screaming in terror as it could no longer effectively defend itself against the squad.

      " Nice work marines!" Johnson yelled. The grunt stopped screaming and began to look around frantically. Johnson looked down at the grunt. " Men take a good look at this little son of a bitch you'll be killing alot of them." Samarant looked down at the grunt's face.

      " Sir how do we kill it? I mean how should we? A slow suffocation maybe, or perhaps a beating, ooh better yet how about breaking every bone in its body one by one." he said.

      " Gordon grab me a plasma grenade from one of those corpses over there please." Johnson asked.

      " Sir!" Gordon replied going off to retrieve a grenade. When he found one he quickly gave it to Johnson. Johnson tossed it back and forth in front of the grunts' face. The grunt watched closely. Finaly it attempted to grab the grenade but was forced to the ground by Spencer's boot.

      " This is for all of my fellow men that had one of these things attached to them." Johnson said. " Break its legs." he ordered. Griffes immediately fired a round of his pistol into each leg. As the grunt screamed in agony Johnson pushed the orange trigger on the plasma grenade causing it to become surrounded by a moderately warm blue plasma flame that did nothing to his hand. He then tossed the grenade on the grunt. The squad ran away from the grunt as it screamed terribly. Then the grenade went off in a plume of superheated blue plasma sending the grunt's remains into the sky and leaving a small crater in the ground.

      " That was cool." Hayward said looking into the sky. Some members of the squad looked over at Hayward with a smirk on their faces. Gordon stepped forward.

      " Sir I believe we should get moving." he said to Johnson. Johnson was looking at the bits of grunt on the ground. They were a sad reminder of the comrades that were lost in such a matter. He had no time for such thoughts to be trailing around inside his head.

      " Alright. Squad let's move out." Johnson said stepping off. The streak of pain screamed acrossed his face once more. The squad this time did not see the pain as it has been growing slowly in the lieutenant. As they continued on their journey they had noticed an hour later that the weather was becoming lighter and heating up at a gradual pace. They also heard the distant sound of crashing waves. Finally the squad had navigated their way through the forest and were once again in the open. To their left was a massive mountain formation.There was also a pile of rocks and a shore exposed to one of the many oceans on the ring. On the other side of the rocks 100 meters distant was a rather unfortunate sight. There were at least thirty of them and they couldn't have been there at any worse of a time for the wounded and the unscathed. The squad ran to the nearby group of rocks. Hayward looked over to make sure. He gulped down his fear and knealt back down. They were all grunts. Mostly red armored and packing needlers.

       " Sir," Hayward said with a look of fright on his face," All grunts sir. Red armored except maybe a few. So far only needlers." Johnson and the rest of the squad all digested this in their minds. Johnson knew what a needler could do to human flesh after the needle impacted and exploded inside of a body. It wasn't a pretty sight. He then took a look for himself and got what little geological data on the area as his eyes could tell him. He then knelt back down and quickly drew in the sand what he saw. It was basically showing the grunts in packs of three to six clustered around the shore. He then quietly spoke pointing to a little circle.

      " We are here," he said. Then he dragged his finger to a little cluster nearby the posistion he had just pointed out. " We take this group out first. Use short controled bursts only. It doesn't take to much to eliminate these suckers. Now stay around these rocks, don't rush out there. Those needlers don't need to hit you to explode they can be nearby and still send micro-schrapnel into the air and I don't need any of you blinded or hit so be evasive to a point." He then pointed to three other groups that were just a little bit away. " After the first group is down hit these. Even though these grunts are all 'field corporals' mainly it seems these ones are more in control of the situation. So we target them second and we mop up the survivors. Be prepared for a long engagement. Let's just hope it isn't one. Alright fan out among these rocks and wait for my signal." The squad nodded and fanned out. Johnson then remembered something. He turned to his men. " If you unfortunately get a genade stuck on you..." he hesitated, " Run at them if possible or run your ass away from the rest of us. I don't want any of us to die, but if only one does the rest of us can live to avenge you in the future. Do you understand?" They all nodded. " Good." Johnson then readjusted himself and had a good bead on the forward grunt of the nearest pack. He then held his left hand up and dropped it at fast rate and yelled, "Now!"

      The air bristled with rifle fire and three streaks of plasma. The first group of grunts fell. The marines then targeted the next group and took out the majority of them. The grunts then went into a panic and ran in all directions. Finally after maybe five more dropped the remaining ones discovered where the attack was coming from and engaged in the direction of their attackers. The marines were now changing clips almost after the man next to them did. It became to the point where when one man was reloading three others were either starting to unload, mid way thruogh their clip, or reloading was an option that was necessary soon. Taylor then saw a blue flame arc through the air.

      " Grenade!" he yelled knocking Watson out of the way. Several of the marines rolled away from the grenade. Seconds later it detonated creating a meter deep crater. The marines were now exposed to the incoming needler rounds. The tiny needles exploded around the squad sending micro-schrapnel into the air around them. Taylor was struck in his throat by some of this and he could feel the tiny fragments inside him moving and tearing barely away at his flesh. He clasped his hand around the wound and returned behind the rocks and continued firing. The grunts were now massing into a single line that was stretched so that they all could be seen. There were now maybe 15 of them remaining. Johnson tossed a grenade and the ones near it hit the dirt. Only three bought some schrapnel, but it had ignited their enviroment suits making them into an instant roman candles. They screamed in agony and ran in circles attempting to put out the flames. Now with the grunts exposed the marines unloaded their weapons on the survivors killing the remainder of them. Gordon gave a victory cry and lifted his rifle high in the air.

      " Don't get cocky now soldier!" Taylor said pulling down Gordon. Gordon was shocked by Taylor's words.

      " What the hell was that for?" Gordon asked. Taylor put his finger to his lip and went shush. The squad then heard it as well. " Oh shit." Gordon said closing his eyes and looking into the sky. The sky ran with many high pitched roars. This was bad for the squad. All of them heard the noises and were nearly accepting defeat when a radio transmission came in.

      " This is Pelican Dropship Gamma 038. I have been engaged by multiple Covenant banshees. Warthog rear gunner is down. If anyone is around this grid please respond." it said. Johnson instantly responded.

      " This is Fire Team Tango. We read you loud and clear. I can just see you now coming around the ridge. We are on your one o'clock. Do you see us?" Johnson said. The pilot repeated his message. Johnson couldn't get through. Either his radio or the Pelican's was down and he could only pray it was the Pelican's reciever. The Pelican then grew even larger and smoke could be seen from it's cockpit.

      " I am going down. Repeat Gamma 038 is hit. I am going down. Sending distress call now." The radio went silent and the Pelican came crashing down at a rapid pace. The Pelican then swerved into the water and crashed ten meters of shore, still in shallow water. The banshees could now be seen. The squad instinctively dropped and stayed still. Johnson looked over to Mclean and Griffes.

      " How much ammo is in those rockets?" Johnson asked in a whisper.
Griffes examined the launcher and his ammo pack. Mclean did the same.
Griffes looked up and held up his right with five fingers up. Johnson nodded and looked over to Mclean. He held up only three fingers. " Alright." The Banshees totaling ignoring the dropship went into a wide swing and pulled straight up and flew away. Hayward let out a sigh of relief. Samarant gave a cough and finaly spoke the first time in the past day.

      " Sir how about we salvage the crash site. They did have a warthog." he said. Taylor looked over.

      " Marines assemble for salvage duty! Let's see what we can find. Stock up on ammo and what ever you can find!" he barked. Everyone went over to the crash. Watson and Samarant walked while the rest of the squad ran to the crash.

      They moved through the freezing cold water to reach the crash. Inside there were many dead, maybe ten and ten feet away from the warthog's location was a carbonized skeleton. Armor was melted away and the fatigues were burnt to rags. The marines didsmissed the sight and gathered the dead marines' weapons and ammo. After grabbing an arm full the marines put them on the shore. There must of been nine M6D pistols, seven MA5Bs, and two S2 AMs. Johnson after gathering weapons and ammo looked at the sight. The top end was still smoking and the warthog LATV would be a problem to get to. Johnson continued his thought and went inside the Pelican. He took the first aid kits on both sides of the cockpit's access door. He opened the door and saw the pilot. He was dead and his head was twisted at an unnatural angle. Johnson saw that he had one hand on the controls and another griping his M90 combat shotgun. Johnson leaned over and took the gun and searched the body for an ammo sack. Underneath the pilot's seat was a bag full of the 10 gauge shells. He snagged them and slung the shotgun over his other shoulder. As he left he looked back once more. A thought had dwaned on him and he decided to grab the pilot's combat recorder. He exited and saw the bodies were along the shore.

      " Men come here quickly and grab a combat recorder from each of the deceased." Johnson said clutching the cargo door of the Pelican. The squad did as instructed. He popped the one he gathered into a small viewing screen in the cockpit. It was crowded with the squad all trying to see what was going on. The screen flickered and showed what the pilot had seen for the past six hours. Although they saw several bits of what happened they quickly skipped to the last 15 minutes. They then saw the combat extraction. He was looking directly at a large amount of grunts, jackels, and a few elites. The Pelican was being shot at and the windshield cracked and fizzled. They heard the pilot's frantic screams as he waited for the marines to get on board. After a moment he lifted off. A red light began to flash on his HUD and an alarm sounded. The transmission he sent to the squad was then said. Johnson stopped to video. He turned to his men. " Let's distribute the weapons we salvaged and get that warthog turned over." The marines did as ordered. Everyone without a pistol was given one and 6 mags for it, then ammo for the assault rifles was distributed, and Gordon and Jacobs took the sniper ammo that was intact. Once this was accomplished the entire squad went over to over turn the warthog.

      Once this had been accomplished Taylor hopped into the driver seat and drove the half water filled jeep to shore.

      " Men use those helmets to get this water out of here." he ordered. Watson and Jacobs came over with two helmets of the dead marines and emptied the warthog to the best of the crude buckets' ability. Watson getting water out the passenger seat saw a metal welder underneath the seat. He grabbed it, looked at it then looked at the dead marines and then the warthog. He turned to Johnson who was examining his new shotgun.

      " Sir," he said. Johnson turned. " How about we weld some of that body armor onto this thing. It would maybe buy us a few more shots from plasma burns." Johnson nodded and he went to work. The others took notice of this and handed him armor when he needed it and went to work on burial detail. " There." Watson said wiping sweat from his brow. The warthog no longer looking the standard green was transformed into a slightly bulkier, brownish turtle loike vehicle. If not for the lack of treads and main 120 mm cannon it could have passed for a small scorpion main battle tank. Gordon looked over from his work to see what Watson had accomplished and gave a whistle of amazement. Watson wiped the sweat from his brow and looked with pride towards his accomplishment.

      " Well now that you've done that you want to give it a spin?" Johnson asked patting Watson on the back. He allowed a small grin and jumped in the driver's seat and started it up. Hayward hopped in the gunner spot and Samarant dropped himself into the passenger seat. Samarant then tapped the dashboard ready to go.

      " Back in ten sir." Watson said.

      " Make it five we need to get moving again soon." Johnson replied. Watson nodded and drove off. He and the others were admiring the view of the ring above them, the icy waters, and the fact that it could almost be mistaken for a colony world if not for the ring's other end in the sky. A minute into the trip the joy ride went down the tubes. They ran into an entire covenant scouting party complete with grunts, jackels, elites, and two creatures they had never seen before in their life. They were big, blue, and weilding some sort of metal shield. Hayward laid down the trigger as Watson made a sudden turn away from the covenant. A few grunts were taken out along with a jackel but much more remained. When Watson met up with the squad they were running to him. He slammed the brakes and jumped out.

      " What happened we heard gun fire? " Taylor said. Watson was catching his breath.

      " There were alot of them. The works and something new. Sir." he replied.

      " New?" Taylor asked puzzeled.

      " Yeah sarge new. They were big, blue, and had a massive shield. They were seperate from the others but they were definitely Covenant."

      " Hunters." Griffes said. Everyone looked at him.

      " Hunters Chris?" Gordon asked.

      " Yeah hunters. They were first encountered on Sigma Octanus IV. I recieved word of them just an hour before we shipped out from spacedock. Every heavy weapons specialist at Reach was told about them. Something about rifle rounds being ineffective against their armor."

      " Well that's just fucking peachy." Samarant said forcing himself out of the warthog. He walked over to the back of the squad and got into a prone posistion. " You people going to get ready or do you want to die? "

      " He's got a point." Griffes said. The squad fanned out and got into defensive posistions. They waited and heard the covenant soldiers yelling and the roar of their feet rushing to the marines. They were about to come over the hill. Finally the first elite ran over the hill. Jacobs was on it instantly.

      Two sniper rifle shots were fired. The first knocked out the shields and the second spilt its throat in two. Now several grunts came over the hill and the marines opened fire. Roberts opened fire with the .50 cal on the rear of the warthog.

      Bullets sliced through their armor and they poured blue blood unto the sandy beach. Many more came and fired on the marines. Plasma fire was being exchanged from both sides.

      The grunts were wiped out making way for the hunters that now slowly came over the ridge. One opened fire on the warthog. The green plasma shot missed and sent an intense wave of heat onto Roberts back. His armor plating fused with his flesh. Roberts jumped off the warthog rifle in hand and screamed in pain as the molten chunk of metal burned into his spine. He let out a final scream of pain and fell to the ground next to Griffes. He twitched and his eyes rolled back into his head as his life exited the body.

      Griffes saw the corpse of his comrade and found a new spark of rage and hate for the enemy.

      Johnson went over to Robert's body. The dead man's face was filled with pain. Johnson could also see the wound that killed him. It wasn't a pretty sight. The spinal cord was fused with the armor plating and alittle spinal fluid leaked out of the wound. He turned from the sight and gathered Robert's combat recording. Johnson stood up and walked over to the warthog.

      He looked in the back and counted the ammo. Two thousand rounds and a six thousand round spare drum of ammo left. He then looked back at the body.

      " Watson," he said. Watson looked over. " Remove what armor you can salvage from Roberts and put it on this warthog. I need it concentrated on the rear of the vehicle.

      " Yes sir." Watson replied. He went and removed the armor from Roberts and carried it to the warthog.

      " Taylor, Mclean, Griffes, Gordon, and Samarant." Johnson said looking off into the neighboring ocean.

      " Yes sir?" the all said.

      " You three got weapons detail. Gather new covenant weapons. Pile those bodies and set up a stash of what they've got where I am now." Johnson replied. They all nodded and went to their tasks. " Jacobs, Hayward, Spencer you three assist me with Roberts burial detail. When we are done assist those that need help." They went to their work after the orders were given.

Chapter 5: Arc Angel

      Burial duty was over and the other tasks were complete. The squad was refitted and ready to move out. Johnson drove with Samarant next to him and Spencer on the rear gun. They traveled at a fair pace to allow the rest of the squad to keep up.

      " Excuse me sir, but I've got a hunch on something." Samarant said. Johnson kept his eyes down the beach and was listening.

      " Well explain this to me. What hunch have you got?" Johnson replied. Samarant grabbed the warthog's radio and activated it.

      " This is Private Lucas Samarant of Fire Team Tango. Does anyone copy? Over." he said. Static came over the line. He repeated the message. Again no response.

      " Guess nobody is out there." Johnson said. Johnson had already given up on radio communication. He never really had luck with it anyway, but the private was not about to give up. So he repeated the message and to his C.O.'s surprise a response actually came back.

      " This is Pelican Tango 756. Is that you Lucas?" the female voice said over the radio. Johnson slammed the brakes and snagged the radio from Lucas.

      " Is it really you Angel?" he said.

      " Sir? I thought this was-"

      " Never mind who you thought it was! Can you get a lock on our signal?" Johnson snapped back.

      " Yes sir. I've got a lock now. I'll come and pick you up." the pilot said. Johnson let out a sigh of relief. He jumped out of the warthog.

      " Men we've got a ride." he said. The squad was in a bit of shock. In the distance they heard the roar of the dropship's engines. It finally appeared and set down fifty meters away. The door was open and five men were in the back. Three with MA5Bs, another with an S2 AM, and the other was gripping a M19SSMRL.

      Johnson's squad walked over to the pelican and hopped in. Johnson himself went into the cockpit.

      " I need you to grab the warthog before we leave." he said. The pilot gave a thumbs up and flew over to the warthog and set down carefully. The tail magnets were activated and the warthog lifted off the ground.

      " Good to see you sir. Where to?" the pilot said.

      " Are there any other survivors?" Johnson asked.

      " I'd assume so sir, but we haven't seen any except for a squad a few hundred miles away. They have a single pelican and a scorpion tank sir. Last I heard they went off on a scouting patrol in hopes of finding other survivors." she said.

      " Fun. I hope you people have found some place to hide." he said.

      " Yes sir. I'll take you there now." the pilot said lifting off.

Chapter 6: Trenches

      The dropship flew for an hour before they were above the Marine garrison. Watson looked out the back end of the dropship. He saw nothing but the canopy top of a jungle.

      " Where the hell is it?" he asked. The marine sniper next to him answered his question by pointing. Watson looked closely and saw a break in the foliage. Not a very large break, but enough to see part of the forest floor through the light fog.

      The pelican hovered down to this spot and broke through the canopy top. It then landed and the pilot shut down the engines.

      " Release the warthog." Johnson said to the pilot. The magnets holding it up were then removed and the warthog fell down gently. Everyone exited the dropship. As the lieutenant hopped out of the back end a single marine ran over to his posistion. He snapped a salute and Johnson returned the gesture.

      " Sir follow me please." the marine said. He and most of the squad followed. They could now see what kind of setup was in place. A maze of trench was dug for nearly one hundred yards. In and among the trenches were roughly 15 marine regulars. Towards the back were also two warthogs guarding the entrance to a cave. The marine that approached Johnson headed for this cave.

      If it weren't for the fog the squad would have seen something much different from a cave. Instead it was a large opening. Not natural in appearence, but artifical. They entered the opening and saw it was more of a large hall. On the walls were pipes, grates for maintence work, and alien carvings that almost looked covenant.

      " Marine tell me what this is?" Johnson asked looking up to the ceiling. The marine turned.

      " I don't know sir. It looks to me like a hall that has electronical systems, a little fog, and a support for the hill above it sir." he said. Johnson frowned at this. They then passed by three men, all wounded. The squad brushed passed them and followed the marine. They could now see the end of the hall. It too was an opening of significant size. Outside of it was a parked Scorpion MBT. Behind it were three marines that were ducked down behind it. One saw the lieutenant. He got up and approached them.

      Johnson recognized the man instantly. " Well well. Look what we've found," he said. " How've you been Bill?" The stopped.

      " Good sir. Thank god you people showed up. I've needed somebody of real rank around here. " the corporal responded.

      " Why's that? Were you the ranking officer here besides Angel?" Johnson asked.

      " Yes sir. I've been in command of this unit. I've got members of Sierra, Delta, and Tango sir. Roughly twenty plus four wounded."

      " Have you made any contact with any other survivors? Maybe the captain, or any others?" Johnson asked. Garrison's head sank and his glance went to the ground. " I'll take that as a no." Johnson said. He heard a roar above the canopy. The other dropsip was coming in by the scorpion. Five men hopped out when it landed. Garrison turned to the men.

      " Report your findings." Garrison said. The first marine to encounter them spoke.

      " Sir we've encountered potential resistance. Roughly a hundred units total. We were lucky they didn't see us. It was an outpost. I counted multiple armor units, standard front line supply crates and comms. You want the numbers sir?" Garrison waved his hand.

      " What unit are you from?" Johnson to the marine.

      " Delta team sir." the marine responded.

      " Alright then. I want to know the armor numbers."

      " There were at least twelve ghosts, eight banshees, and exactly ten Wraiths. Plus assorted infantry."

      " Thanks." Johnson said patting the marine's soldier. He walked off. The men that came with him followed. Taylor rushed up.

      " I'm assuming you've got a plan?" he said. Johnson stopped.

      " I plan to kill those alien bastards." he said with vengeance in his voice. He continued his walk. He stopped in the cavern and activated his radio. " I am going to lead a raid against a covenant outpost. I need volunteers with the will to fight. All willing to come along meet me near the wounded." he said.

      He waited a moment and his squad assembled. Along with them were ten other men. Two snipers, three heavy weapons, and five rifle men. One of them was the marine Johnson recieved the recon from. They then piled into Angel's dropship and lifted off. The corporal stayed behind.

Chapter 7: All Is Missing

      It was night and the dropship set down five hundred meters from the Covenant outpost. Everyone piled out and fanned out. The area was a massive field with a few trees sparced around. Also their target was down hill from their location. Johnson used his radio to communicate with the group.

      " Men we move in quick and silent. No shooting unless your spotted. I'll give the word when we fire. Understood?" he said. Everyone responed with a yes to his orders. " Good. Now let's move."

      The group ran quickly and Angel sped off. They were undetected by the Covenant. They came to a stop and got low. The sight was unnerving. Johnson's mouth dropped open and was confused along with the other marines.

      The area was well fortifed, but one effective detail was missing. Only the Covenant hardware was present. Not a single soldier, pilot, or any other biological unit was there. The outpost was abandoned.

      " Gordon what have you got?" Johnson asked. Gordon zoomed in on the outpost.

      " Not a damned thing sir. All I see is equipment. Nothing else." Gordon responded. Johnson thought this over in his head. Things didn't seem right. " Wait sir. I've got something. A single unit. An elite sir. Looks wounded. Taking the shot." The elite was limping out from a prefabricated structure holding its gut. Blood was seeping from a wound and was catching on its shield. Gordon fired his weapon and it pierced the elite's shield. Its head popped from the anti-material bullet. " Target down sir maintaining eye on the area."

      " Alright then. All marines excluding the snipers and heavy weapons move in. We need to clean sweep this area. All those staying behind watch our backs." Johnson said standing. The men moved in slowly with weapons ready. They turned on their flashlights. They now saw what really happened.

      Pock marks and plasma scoring were on all the equipment. Behind the tanks were blood stains and no bodies except for the elite. The outpost was cooked already.

      " Sir what the hell happened here?" Spencer asked looking at the damage.

      " I have no idea, but we're bugging out. I don't like this." Johnson said. His grabbed his radio. " Fire team Tango to Tango 756. Over." Angel called back.

      " Tango 756. Over."

      " We need immediate evac. The area is," he was looking for the right word," secure."

      " Roger that Tango Leader. Tango 756 on appraoch." The dropship sped inbound a moment later and landed at their posistion. Everyone got on. Johnson took one look back and was rather confused.

      " Angel take us back to base." The dropship headed immediately for the base. It would be a long while before they would make it.

Chapter 8: Devils

      The radio hissed with static and a desperate message was sent to the marine outpost.

      " Sir we've got<static> Can't<static>out. Need ass-<static> arghhh!" it said. Corporal Garrison was confused. He then heard gun shots in the distance.

      " All marines fan out take up defensive positions! All armor teams get ready! Incoming hostiles! Let's move it!" All the marines at the outpost ran to their defensive positions. The gun fire stopped and they waited nervously. Rifles were trembling and a single outline was visible. It was running towards them. It looked almost human to most of them. It then fired its plasma weapon at them. Machine gun fire tore into the target.

      A noise was then heard in the jungle when the target was down. It was an odd noise. It definitely wasn't Covenant or human. A moan was then heard and the trees shuddered. Then all was clear.

      Nearly a hundred targets were in their sights. Most of the marines were terrified. They opened fire. Machine guns, plasma weapons, pistols, and explosives were going off from both sides. Many fell dead.

      The incoming targets never made it passed the foggy outline. They all were dead. Garrison patted the man next to him and ordered him to examine the bodies. The private looked with fear and went reluctantly. He ran into the first body.

      It was disgusting. Tan with spots of green. Its digestive organs were showing, arms were missing and then he saw the face. It was human at one time. He then heard the odd noise again. He looked up and to many to count fell from the sky. They were small bulbulous creatures with tentacles. He fired and screamed. Several popped and they still kept coming. They then forced the tentacles into his body and caused his organs to shut down and he died.

      Now they came from all directions. They grabbed ahold of many of the marines and killed them. Some shot the beasts that entered their bodies and in turned died from the explosive force. Others pulled them out and were killed.
      Garrsion ran for the dropship in the back. Marines were dead or dying. Nothing could stop it. He then made it to the dropship. The pilot was dead outside. He got in and started it up. Another marine got in and they left. The outpost had fallen.

To Be Continued...

HALO: Missing In Action - Chapter 9: Late Witnesses
Date: 9 February 2003, 11:38 pm

      The dropships crossed paths. Garrsion's was swerving back and forth.

      " Sir incoming dropship!" Angel yelled over the radio. Johnson went into the cockpit of the drop ship and saw the pelican. He switched to his radio.

      " Fire Team Tango to unknown UNSC dropship. Please come in." he said. No response. He repeated the message. Garrison's pelican leveled out and set down. Angel went to the pelican and landed just fifteen meters away from it. Tango 756 emptied its troops and they all went to the other dropship.

      Taylor looked in the back. He saw the marine in the back. He had a death grip on his MA5B. Also he was shuddering and rocking back and forth. Taylor talked to the marine, but the man gave no response. Taylor turned around.

      " Sir he's jacked up. Something must of scared this man to death." Johnson nodded seeing the marine's condition. He had him pulled out and was being interrogated by a few of his men. Johnson and Mclean climbed in the pelican. They went into the cockpit and saw Garrison. He was an even bigger mess.

      There was vomit on his uniform and a touch of blood was leaking from his forehead. Garrison looked over to the two of them and removed himself from the cockpit.

      " What is your problem?" Mclean asked. Garrison just rambled on with words barely understandable. He kept repeating the same thing several times.

      " Like rain...too many.. a swar swarmmm...flo floo flood of the the them. All gone." he said. Garrison vomited again.

      " Something is definitly wrong," Johnson said. He activated his radio. " Angel raise the outpost for me."

      " Yes sir. Attempting communications link now." she responded. He waited a minute for her to make contact. " Sir I have nothing." He thought of this and went looked back at garrison and the marine. They were still the way they were when they found them.

      " Angel prepare for lift off. I'll take half the team you take the other half. We'll meet up at the outpost." Johnson said. He entered the dropship and turned aroun. " Taylor you , Garrison, and half of you go with Angel. The rest come with me." With that he entered the pilot's seat. They lifted off and went for the outpost.

      It wasn't a very long flight. When they had arrived they saw what was left. The entire outpost was a wreck. A warthog was blown to bits, spent ammo casings were everywhere, and the earth was soaked with blood. The dropships set down and the group exited out carefully.

      They examined the area. The occasional rifle was found, but no bodies were present.

      " Sir." Jacobs said.

      " What?" Johnson replied.

      " This is too damn odd. It's just like the Covenant outpost we examined. No bodies, few survivors, and an area left in ruins. Have any idea what happened?"

      " No clue." Johnson frowned. " Jacobs you know how to drive an M808 Scorpion?"

      " I've got a level two qualifaction. You want me on it?"

      " Yeah you and Taylor get aboard. You drive. I want four volunteers on that beast." Jacobs and Taylor made there way to the tank. " I have a bad feeling about this. Just doesn't make sense."

      They opened the main hatches. Blood was spilled on the seats and panels. They got in anyway and powered it up.

      " Watson." Johnson said.

      " Sir?" he responded.

      " You and two others get that warthog up and ready. I need as much armor up and running. I don't know what happened here and the only people who do are braincases."

      " Yes sir be right on it." Watson said. Watson snagged Jacobs and Samarant. They got on the remaining warthog and brought it over to the lieutenant. " Ready to go when you are sir." Johnson nodded and went to the scorpion.

      " Mount up. We're moving out." he ordered. His men did as he said and he turned his head to a nearby marine. " Grab Garrison and put him on T-756. You go with him." He then whistled and snapped his fingers. " Jacobs and Gordon!"

      " Sir!" they replied.

      " You two got air support. I need rocket and sniper support up in the air." They acknowledge his order and took the outer most two seats on Tango 756. " Take us out Taylor." With that the scorpion went off through the jungle.

      Wood splintered as it rode through the foliage. It wasn't long until they were out. There was a massive valley with little foliage. There was something else in the distance as well. It sould barely be seen. There were two yellow arcs coming out of it. In the dropship the radar alert sounded.

      Angel looked down and saw the entire forward section was filling with red. Her eyes bulged and looked up. With the night vision on she could see the arcs. They were flames.

      " Sir we've got a problem." she said with fear.

      " What have you got?" Johnson asked. As he did he heard a massive roar and the air shook. " Angel what the hell was that!"

      " Sir it looks like a Covenant starship!" she said. They all heard what she said and their faces dropped. A flash came from the ship and another trail of fire was visible from the bottom. The shockwave reached them and then the sound of an explosion. The arcs then went downward and the ship was crashing. " All drivers full stop!" Johnson ordered. They slammed the brakes and the vehicles came to a stop. They watched as it slowly came down and then it hit.

      The ground jolted violently and the ship slid for a mile. When it stopped several more explosions happened. They all watched the spectacle. Johnson's mouth then twitched into a smirk.

      " Taylor you thinking what I'm thinking?" he said.

      " Finally a real fight." Taylor responded.

      " Good." Johnson reactivated his radio. " Angel we're gonna check it out. Allow us to move up ahead and then catch up. It should take us twenty minutes to get there. We're gonna see what happened."