Halo: Battlefield by Helljumper
Halo: Battlefield-Chapter 1
Date: 16 January 2010, 12:50 am
0748 Hours (Military Time), August 3, 2552 (Military Calendar)/ Planet classification Verna/ Zeta II Star System, Above UNSC Super Carrier Payback
Major General Thacher mentally blocked the pain developing in his lower back from hours of standing over the holo-map. Relenting he exhaled and straightened his back. He fought the urge to rub the pain away, instead he took the opportunity to glance around the brightly lit Command and Control Center aboard the UNSC super carrier Payback. Naval and Marine officers in various forms of dress uniforms busied themselves at their battle stations. A dull roar occupied the large room as the staff exchanged data and forwarded orders to the planet's surface or to the other vessels in the fleet.
Without a thought the Marine general touched the plasma scar on his throat. It served as a constant reminder to the dangers he sent his soldiers against everyday. His scan of the CC&C ended when his gaze caught the same exhausted gaze of Fleet Admiral Viktor Lasinko. The elderly naval officer at the other end of the control center offered the Marine a simple head nod before turning his own attention to the large holo-screen hanging near his station.
Turning his attention back to the large holo-map, he tapped the main continent of the planet simply name Sierra. The image zoomed out revealing the entire planet. With a soft swipe of his hand the view of the planet rotated. Reaching a smaller land mass, the General tapped it stopping the rotation. Another gesture and the map zoomed in. His eyes scanned the open plains and mountains of this continent. Data showing estimated distances, longitude and latitude, and heights of mountain ranges and valleys flowed across his view.
"Sir, Swarm One is nearing their objective," a junior officer stated as he read the communiqué off his data pad. The General nodded and manipulated the holo-map to center over the mass of Marine vehicles traveling across the vast plain of the land mass. He zoomed out slightly bringing the armored unit's target into view. Out lined in red, icons representing Covenant fortification structures, infantry units and armored units faced towards the green outlined icons of M808B Scorpion Main Battle Tanks, Lynx armored personnel carriers, MAAT-9 Wolverines, and Warthogs. Tapping a button the map's control panel, a small window showing a clean shaven Naval Ensign appeared. Placing his fingers at the top right and bottom left corner of the video COM box Thachter moved his fingers apart enlarging the image.
"Ensign do we have any eyes over objective Zula Mike?"
The naval intelligence officer adjusted the mic on his ear as he typed commands into his console. "Covies have anti air Wraiths in the area sir, they already knocked two of our drones out of the air. Our tactical satellites won't be in that area again for another two to two and half hours General."
The Marine commander sighed at the news. His men were going in blind with no air support. "Send me the last images from when our satellites passed over the enemy's location." The General ordered. After receiving a yes sir from the naval ensign he closed the COM box. Thachter zoomed out more on the holo-map revealing a flight of Marine Air Corps VTOL-12 Hornets three hundred kilometers from Swarm One. Tapping the icon of the attack aircrafts opened another video COM box. The Marine aviator in his pilot's helmet nodded acknowledging the General.
"I am putting your squadron in direct support of the mechanized battalion designated Swarm One and their objective of destroying an enemy Citadel designated objective Zula Mike. I am setting both as NAV makers on your HUD Lieutenant."
"Roger that sir, we are in route to link up with Swarm One."
"Swarm One is at rally point Alpha, beware that anti air Wraiths have been reported in the area, suggest hanging back until ground forces are able to confirm that anti air threats have been neutralized."
"Copy General, Hornet leader out."
0853 Hours (Military Time), August 3, 2552 (Military Calendar)/ Planet classification Verna/ Zeta II Star System
Lieutenant Colonel Kahlil Mohammad exited the rear ramp of his command Lynx armored personnel carrier (APC). The heat of the plains caught him off guard compared to the air conditioned troop bay. He pulled at his chest armor, loosening it enough for him to slip his fingers under neat to unbutton his collar. Satisfied, the colonel adjusted his red beret bearing his oak leaf rank over his dark black hair. Walking around to the side of the green APC he observed his troops forming a two tiered skirmish line. In the distance atop of a low laying mesa stood the enemy citadel, its purple alien metal gleaming in the sun. Bringing a pair of binoculars to his eyes, the battalion commander examined the fin like spear coming out the top of the Covenant fortress. Seven buildings radiated out of the central structure reminding Mohammad of an octopus. Moving around the enemy base were countless Covenant infantry and vehicles.
"Excuse me Colonel, General Thacher is on the horn for you."
"Thank you Sergeant Major." The commander responded lowering the binoculars from his brown eyes. Turning he followed his senior NCO back into the command Lynx. Instead of the usual configuration of 20 seats for infantry, the command APC contained communication equipment and monitors on the two side walls. Dropping into a rotating chair he activated the video COM.
"Greetings Major General," the Middle Eastern Lieutenant Colonel said into a microphone extending from the console in front of him. Removing his beret he wiped beads of sweat from his bronze colored forehead.
"Good to see you old friend," Thacher began. "What's your sitrep?"
"We are in position sir, awaiting your orders. Is there any intel on enemy strength?"
"Negative, I am sending in assets now, will forward all intel to you directly. I have Hornets inbound to your position do you need any other support?"
"A modular encampment system (MES) would be a big help, attach pods for a field hospital, vehicle depot for repairs, and an air-pad for your hornets would be appreciated General."
"Consider it done. Thacher out."
0923 Hours (Military Time), August 3, 2552 (Military Calendar)/ Planet classification Verna/ Zeta II Star System
Gunnery Sergeant Steven Friendly flexed his chest in his black Semi-Powered Infiltration armor. Turning his helmet around in his gloved hands he examined the face shield. Sliding his hand inside he tapped the chin pressure plate which in turn polarized the blue reflective face shield. Holding the chin plate longer activated the microprocessor-controlled dynamic liquid display fabric. The helmet began to mimic the ambient light and background texture of the briefing room making it invisible. He pulled his hand out of the helmet and placed it back in effecting making it seem as if his hand simply disappeared at the wrist.
Looking up, he caught a few members of his Orbital Drop Shock Troopers sneaking a few looks at their squad leader. They knew his pre-mission ritual and no one dared interrupt. Nodding to his sniper Dre, he stood up. The rest of the squad converged on their leader satisfied that Friendly's personal time was over. Moving quickly he marched to the squad's weapons lockers. His men followed his lead, all more than familiar with the process as they filled their ammo pouches and readied their weapons. No one spoke as they went about their task. Only the sound of magazines inserted into precision weapons broke the silence. Closing his locker, the Helljumper squad leader exited the briefing room trailed by the other five members of his ODST Force Recon unit.
The only enjoyable part of an orbital insertion via Single Occupant Exo-atmospheric Insertion Vehicle (SOEIV) was the initial free fall. The feeling of weightlessness and calm was the only relaxing moment he would enjoy until extraction. Friendly stared at the picture of his son taped onto the hatch of the HEV. Little Adam was at least two years older now from the time the picture was taking, living on Reach with Friendly's mother. The Helljumper hoped she had obeyed his wishes and enrolled his only child in military school, a request she had argued with him up until he had deployed from Reach. He tried to block out the memory of her crying saying she had lost her only son to the military and didn't want to lose her grandson too, a point he had difficulty debating.
Weightlessness soon ended as the planet's gravity took hold of the human entry vehicle. The temperature began to rise steadily as the pod burned through the upper atmosphere. The HEV's cooling system kicked in loudly as the external temperature spiked suddenly. Breaking through the upper atmosphere, clouds filled the pod's viewport. Friendly activated the squad's COM. "Activate infiltration mode now." Five green status lights on his Head's UP Display (HUD) flashed acknowledging that all his men had received his order. The Gunnery Sergeant knew little about how the invisibility technology incorporated into his armor and then into the HEV's ceramic skin worked, but he knew it was reversed engineered from captured Covenant technology. He could only hope that it worked as the cloud's thinned out and the bright plains came into view. Orbital insertion during broad daylight was near to suicidal. The falling pods were good targets for anti air units and dead give away to where they were landing.
Activating exterior camera's, the Covenant Citadel came into view. Range finders estimated it at less than six kilometers away. Inserting so close to enemy lines would be impossible without the infiltration technology. For this reason, Friendly became more nervous for the one thing he learned from basic training was that technology was made by man and man was flawed.