SPARTAN III Ch 1: This is War
Date: 18 February 2004, 7:28 AM
Spartan-362, Aeris, was possibly one of the most unusual in the group of fifty-five SPARTAN IIIs. Unlike many of the other Spartans, Aeris wasn't exactly comfortable with killing. Actually, she wasn't quite sure of that for having to suppress the feeling for the last 27 years. 27 years of long hard training since age six. Now, many of the past events seemed like a blur, like they had happened a lifetime ago. Since the day she woke up find that her room was gone, surrounded by Marines and other six-year olds, to the excruciating pain of the surgical implants. Aeris had just one goal now. Fight the Covenant and save Humanity.
Like many of her fellow Spartans, Aeris remembered exactly what she was doing when news of the destruction of Reach. She was on Earth, in an undisclosed training base sparring with Spartan-324, Gus. Since then, she and her fellow Spartans were told to pack their equipment and ship out to the UNSC destroyer Medal of Honor.
The Medal of Honor was a marvel of human engineering. It was so new, its halls still reeked of industrial grade chemicals, and the engines gave a hearty roar as they were broken in with the ships systems. It was armed with hundreds of Archer missile pods, multiple 50mm turrets, a top of the line MAC gun, and several meters of Titanium A to defend itself. For the next two weeks, this would the SPARTAN-IIIs new home.
Aeris sighed. The thing she hated most about space travel was the sheer boredom and repetition being cooped up in a small starship in the middle of Slipspace, especially for one trained to fight on the ground for her entire life. Finally, the ship comm beeped and blared, "All Spartans, report to briefing room B-7." Aeris quickly gathered up her gear, beckoned for Gus, MikeZero, and the other nearby Spartans to follow, and sped off to the briefing room.
The briefing room was a dark, clean area. Chairs and desks were arranged in a large circle around a central podium and holoprojector. Quickly and efficiently, the Spartans, even scattered throughout the entire ship, somehow managed to get to the briefing room all at the same time, marching in step and taking seats classified by designation number. Once all 55 Spartans sat down, the Captain and an AI standing in the middle of the room began to speak.
"Good morning, Spartans. I am Captain Mahoney, commander of this destroyer, and I will be briefing you on this mission." Mahoney then began to pace around the podium. "I know many of you are itching to prove yourselves in combat, and is your chance, but don't think that just because this is your first mission that it'll be easy." Mahoney stopped. "I don't expect to see all of you back."
None of the Spartans budged or flinched. If they were bothered, they hid it very well.
"Anyways." Mahoney continued, "This is the planet Sigma Alpha, just outside of official UNSC space. Sigma Alpha is of strategic importance because ONI is running a top secret research base over there codename: HOLLOW BASTION. As of two days ago, Sigma Alpha belongs to the Covenant and HOLLOW BASTION soon to follow. We have no idea of the condition of the Marine garrison there, but we know that they are holding the fort. We don't know if they can hold much longer, so we're sending you in to extract the research team, the Marines, and any other survivors."
Wolfman, their squad leader, raised a hand. "Sir, our method of insertion and extraction?"
Mahoney stopped, and almost smiled, at the Spartan's promptness.
"Insertion will be by drop pods, the same kind the ODSTs use, and Pelicans. Extraction will be by Pelican only."
Aeris almost frowned, not at the fact that they were using a very risky form of insertion, but at the mention of the ODSTs, or Helljumpers. The rivalry between the Marine elite and the Spartans was legendary, and their views were often shared by their commanding officers. Meanwhile, Mahoney picked up a remote and activated the holoprojector, displaying a three dimensional map.
"You will all be separated into three groups. Red, Blue, and Green groups. Red group will come down first, on this Covenant outpost as a diversion. Don't worry about anti-aircraft fire, we'll be sending down several "dummy" pods to draw their fire. While the Covenant are busy trying to figure out what's happening, Blue and Green teams will come down in Pelicans. Blue team will be deployed at HOLLOW BASTION to shore up the defense there, while Green team lands at these hills over here, where they can support both teams. Once Blue and Green teams set down and get in position, Red team will pull out with Green team supporting and fall back to HOLLOW BASTION. There, you will rendevous with Blue team and any survivors, destroy the base, and get to Extraction Point Alpha, just 2 kilometers away out of range of Covenant defenses. There, you will be extracted and taken back to Medal of Honor. Remember, once the attack starts, Medal of Honor only has approximately 48 hours to stay in position before Covenant reinforcements can arrive. Also, you may have noticed this AI next to me. This is Joshua. Fleet Command was kind enough to donate an AI for this unit. Joshua's primary directive is in tactical planning, but he's also a 'smart' AI, so he can do any sort of task you ask him."
Mahoney took one last look around the room.
"I know this mission is going to be tough, but that's why we're sending you in. Because you are the best of the best. Show those Covenant what Hell really is. Dismissed."
Spartan III Chapter 3: The Hunt
Date: 3 March 2004, 6:43 AM
By the time the smoke cleared, the battle was over, and the humans long gone. Kano Kalamee, one of the many Elite investigators, pored over the entire battle site, searching for clues. The first and most obvious, the human drop pods. They were the first things to be examined, but they were already stripped of all useful equipment. They were nothing but useless metal hulks. Kalamee gave up on tracing the pods and put his attention to assessing damage. Right now, he was standing in a four foot crater filled with carbonized ash. Just over two hours ago, it was the command center for this tent. Kalamee knelt and picked up a handful of ash. Officially,, Field Marshals Pana Solamee, Naga Makanee, and their entire command staff were missing or dead. Kalamee threw the useless powder away. Even the most ignorant fool would notice the flecks of gold scattered in the ash. Kalamee would write up a confirmation of their deaths, and an analysis on the human attack.
Just less than a mile away, in a hilly region, Red and Green team kept a close eye on the Covenant team examining the battle site. It was Aeris' turn for watch, and she kept her binoculars trained on the group of Elites milling around where the hotspots of the battle used to be. On her order, she could have Blue team's snipers open up, and mow down every Elite standing in the field. Never before had Aeris have this much power over the lives. Never before did she feel so nauseous. She seriously considered giving the signal, and gleefully watch every Elite down there fall in a pool of their own blood, dead before they even hear the "crack" of dozens of sniper rifles. She shook the thought out of her head. Her watch was almost over. Let someone else deal with their deaths.
As she walked away, violent thunder-like cracks filled the air.
Kalamee rolled to the ground and tumbled into a nearby blast crater. Thanking the High Ones for sparing his life, he saw his fellow Elites toppling over like sacks of meat. He could only watch helplessly as his comrades were taken down. Massive holes suddenly appearing in their chests and heads in a blink of an eye. Kalamee stayed huddled in the crater for long minutes. It was not like an Elite to cower in fear of these lowly infidels, but Kalamee was not looking forward to death yet and continued to play dead. He thought, no, he KNEW that this had something to do with that besieged human base nearby. Once he was sure the humans were gone, he would go back and call for reinforcements. A LOT more reinforcements.
It was time for Red and Green teams to pull back to HOLLOW BASTION. Using the forest as cover, they slowly made their way to the mountain fortress, wary of any potential ambush. It was truly amazing how silent such a large group of soldiers cocooned in nearly half-ton armor could be as they moved through the heavily wooded area. Aeris didn't even bother checking her motion tracker. The group was too large and spread out to tell whether any movement was hostile or not. She instead kept a sharp eye for anything that didn't belong in the forest. Seeing that nothing was wrong, she started to slacken, but quickly corrected that. Being complacent was not a good thing on a battlefield, and certainly not good when there could be a Covenant ambush just around the corner. Then, two clicks broadcast on her comm. Two clicks meant that there was a Covenant patrol nearby. Everybody immediately crouched down into the bushes to hide. Her team leader, Jonesin, clicked his comm three times to confirm whether or not the previous clicks were random comm trash. Two clicks followed, loud and clear. Jonesin quickly motioned for Aeris, Cleetis, and Cargo to take a flanking position. Red team would lie in wait and herd the patrol over the waiting Green team. Aeris quickly took position behind a thick-boled tree and activated her active camouflage. Cleetis and Cargo did the same.
The scientists at ONI were able to back engineer the cloaking devices the Elites used, making it perfect for stealth and ambushses, but the only drawback was the active camouflage could only last for about 3 minutes before burning out and wold have to recharge.
The patrol, consisting of twenty-four Grunts, five Jackals, and three Elites were lumbering through the forest at top speed toward where HOLLOW BASTION was supposed to be. Probably some sort of reinforcements. Checking her internal clock, Aeris calculated that she had roughly two minutes of active camo time left. Quietly, she chose an Elite and crept up behind it. Cleetis and Cargo both did the same. Suddenly, as if all three Spartans knew when to strike, three quick blows the back of the neck and three Elites were down. The Grunts and Jackals turned at the sound of falling bodies, only to follow in suit. About half of the Grunts broke and ran, running right into Green team's line of fire and were torn to shreds. The Jackals bunched together, using their overlapping shields to protect themselves, but that proved to be a fatal mistake as a frag grenade rolled right under their shields and at their feet. Leaving behind a pile of corpses and a smoking crater in their wake.
As they neared the nav point, an ominous, black mountain loomed in the distance. Around the massive base lay a thin circle of color. Undoubtedly the Covenant troops, or what was left of them. Everywhere, the carnage Blue team left behind could be seen. Burned and bullet riddled bodies lay piled unceremoniously on the floor in shallow pits. Only one area was still intact. A then strip of gray. The road that led into the heart of HOLLOW BASTION.