halo.bungie.org

They're Random, Baby!

Fan Fiction

The Battle for Phi Delta by witelancer



The Battle for Phi Delta: Part 1
Date: 28 November 2003, 1:55 AM

(I've posted this story again on my freewebs, www.freewebs.com/halotherecovery, so that you can read it with the pretty blue background.. just click on the link on the navbar.)

Chapter One
April 14th, 2545
On the surface of Phi Delta V
Heat radiated off of the barrel of the Warthog's 50mm chain gun. Sergeant George C. Buford took his hands off of the overheated gun's polymer grips and let the weapon cool off before firing again. The Warthog was nestled in a snowy clump of trees on Phi Delta V, an Inner Colony world under attack by the Covenant. Buford and his Warthog crew were firing at a large group of Grunts that were attacking Firebase Charlie, an outpost near the main Marine HQ on Phi Delta.
The squeals and grunts of the dying Covenant infantry could be heard for many yards. Buford gripped the gun again and started to fire, the massive recoil of the huge cannon slamming backwards into his shoulders. The squeal of one Grunt in particular stuck in his mind, a high-pitched squeal that ended with a nasty-sounding squelch as a 50mm round decapitated the Grunt.
Meanwhile, the other members of Buford's Warthog team were on the snow-covered ground, firing their sniper rifles. The crack of 14.5 mm rounds being fired echoed all over the valley. Shell casings coated the ground near the Warthog and rolled around. Buford and his troops continued to pick off Grunts, wincing as the powerful rounds from their weapons tore apart their adversaries. Bright blue blood stained the snow in front of the Grunts. Their keening cries continued to echo across the plain.
"Sergeant! Banshees at three o' clock!" screamed Private Johnson, a broad-shouldered, big-bellied heavy weapons specialist. Johnson jumped up and ran to the Warthog, dropping his SM02 sniper rifle behind him. He ducked down, emerging with a Jackhammer rocket launcher. The private pulled back the release handle on the launcher, firing a 102mm rocket that shot up through the tree cover, shaking snow off the heavily strained boughs of the trees above.
As the Covenant fighter roared overhead, the 102mm shaped charge smacked into its belly, causing the main engine to erupt in flame. The Banshee dropped like a stone, digging a long furrow behind itself as it crashed into the snow-covered plain. The burned corpse of a red-armored Elite fell out of the destroyed cockpit as the shell of an airframe finally ground to a halt. Johnson breathed a sigh of relief as another Marine in a different grove of pine trees brought down the other Banshee with the 50mm chain gun.
"Well, I guess it's back to business as usual, Sergeant," said Johnson as he picked up his sniper rifle once more and then assumed the prone position, sniping off an gold-armored Elite.
***
Three hours later
Marine Firebase Charlie
Phi Delta V
Buford sighed and took a seat on the back of the Warthog as Private McAlister, Buford's communications specialist and driver, spun the Warthog into the concrete garage. The floor was stained with melting snow, Covenant blood, and motor oil, lending the garage a very disrespectful appearance. The Warthog's powerful engine roared as McAlister accelerated for the last time, beating another Warthog to an open maintenance stall. The three Marines, McAlister, Johnson, and Sergeant Buford, hopped out of the Warthog's snow-covered chassis and proceeded to the power lift to the main part of Firebase Charlie.
The lift was full of other Marines, who were all shaking snow off of their ballistic armor. Many of the Marines sported plasma burns on their armor, for the battle had been fierce and not all of the Marine fire teams had been lucky enough to find sheltered positions like Buford's Warthog team. All of the Marines could hear the roars of the Pelican engines bringing in the wounded and the dead above them. It was a gripping reminder of how lucky the Marines in the lift were.
The battle on Phi Delta V had been going for about a week now. The Covenant had employed their usual tactics of attacking in space and dropping dropships, and then sitting back and waiting for the planetary defenses to be disabled. So far, the Covenant had only tried to overrun a few of the planet's defensive installations, choosing rather to wear down on the Marine garrison. Grunts and Jackals had mounted suicidal charge after charge, getting mowed down by the Firebase's mounted 50mm cannons. The battle today had been a rare one, with the humans ambushing the Grunts and winning. Usually, the Covies were waiting for human patrols so that they could utterly annihilate them in ambushes.
The lift's bell system dinged and the Marines filed out, with most of the soldiers heading for the armory, but some of them heading straight to the barracks. This armor is killing me, thought Buford. I'd be better off just taking my time and getting a few hour's good sleep than trying to sleep in this. Buford turned and strode down the hallway to the armory, while McAlister and Johnson took a right turn and headed for the barracks.
"Well... that was a change, for once," said McAlister to Johnson, her hair peeking out from underneath her helmet.
"Yeah, it was. It's so weird, taking the fight to the Covenant. I wonder what tomorrow will be like?"
"So... you going to the party tonight in the Briefing Room? Or are you going to sleep this off?" asked McAlister, as she took off her helmet and tucked it under her arm.
"Well.. I was going to go, but Sarge wants us up bright and early for morning patrol, remember?" said Johnson.
"That's right. I'm going straight to bed... my shoulders hurt from driving."
The two Marines continued down the hallway, and then took different paths to the men's and women's quarters.
"Well.. I'll see you tomorrow, then," said Johnson.
"All right. Sleep tight."
***
April 17th, 2545
Marine Firebase Bravo, approximately three hundred miles south of Charlie
On board a Pelican dropship
McAlister, Johnson, and Buford all nervously checked the bolts of their MA5B assault rifles as a Naval Lieutenant began to brief them on the situation at Firebase Bravo. The blood-red light of combat floods strobed the interior of the Pelican, lending the situation the appropriate amount of tension.
"As of 0900 hours, local time, we've been out of contact with Firebase Bravo," said the Lieutenant. "We know that a large group of Covenant infantry was seen in the vicinity a few days ago. Although we'd like to have faith in the brave Marines at Bravo, we have to assume the worst, people."
The lieutenant turned around, pacing with his hands behind his back.
"So... our orders are to scour Bravo for survivors, and then torch the place to make sure the Covenant don't get at the NAV database in the Control Room. Let's hope we're early enough," concluded the lieutenant.
The Marines continued their preparations, and suddenly music began to pour from the Pelican's speakers. It was the ancient national anthem of the United States. The lieutenant stopped pacing for a few seconds, and then spoke once more.
"So, Marines, are we ready?"
The whole Pelican responded in one vigorous shout. "YES SIR!"
"Good. Finish your prep, and then we'll be landing soon. Don't leave anything behind—this Pelican's got another load of Marines to pick up."
The Marines sat back and relaxed, their weapons ready and their harnesses secure. And then everything went straight to hell.
The Pelican shook violently and smoke began to pour from the wiring. "We're hit!" screamed the pilot. "I'll try to bring her down without a scratch, but brace yourselves!"
The Marines all gritted their teeth as the fuselage of the dropship began to shake and shudder. Components shot out of the Pelican's walls, and the lights went out. Finally, the dropship slammed into the ground, and everything went black.

(don't worry—they're not dead... but should I continue this series? What does everyone think?)



The Battle for Phi Delta: Part Two
Date: 28 November 2003, 3:43 AM

Chapter Two
April 17th, 2545
Wrecked Pelican
Buford slowly came to, his vision clearing. Where am I? Oh, that's right. We were on a Pelican, on some kind of mission... but what was the mission? What's that smell? Thoughts raced through his head, making it spin. Buford shook his head out and unbuckled his crash harness. He fell straight to the ground, ten feet below him, and landed flat on his face, feeling the snow beneath him. The sergeant grunted in pain and then stood up, his vision still blurry. He looked up and saw that over half of the Pelican's crew was dead, pierced by the titanium hull's bracers and girders. Blood dripped from their orifices to the ground, coating the snow underneath the Pelican with crimson. The dropship was overturned on its right side, with one wing shattered beneath it. This crumpled wing had killed more than half of the Marines on board.
Buford looked around for his MA5B assault rifle, which he remembered dropping in the crash. He found a rifle about five feet away, clutched in a death grip by one Marine. He would remember the dead Marine's face for a long time—a titanium hull bracer had pierced his eye socket, leaving the rest of his face a distorted mess. Buford averted his eyes and pulled the rifle away from the corpse with considerable effort. Then, he turned around and walked away from the wrecked Pelican, looking for a Warthog.
Meanwhile, Johnson and McAlister were in the same situation. Johnson had been thrown out of the Pelican when it crashed, but he was miraculously unscathed. He even had his sidearm, an M6D pistol, with him. When he came to, a mere five minutes after Buford, he was right next to the Pelican's Warthog, which had been thrown free. He quickly got to his feet and jumped in the driver's seat.
"You're in the wrong seat, Calvin," said McAlister from behind him. Johnson jumped up, scared out of his mind, and then he heard Private McAlister laughing.
"Goddamn it, Nadia, I don't want you to do that!" he exclaimed.
"Stow it, Johnson. We've got work to do. Where's the Sarge?" asked McAlister, as she abruptly stopped laughing.
"I don't know... let's find him."
Johnson jumped up over the Warthog's console and landed in the passenger seat as McAlister took the steering wheel. She gunned the engine and left tracks in the snow as the two Marines began to search for their commander.
***
Ten minutes later
Main Gate of Firebase Bravo
"Where.. where is everyone?" asked Johnson.
"It can't be... they're all dead," said Buford. "We were too late."
The three Marines had linked up within three minutes. Buford had taken his usual place behind the 50mm cannon, and the three soldiers had sped away towards Firebase Bravo, a remote UNSC outpost manned by three hundred Marines and a few Warthogs. Bravo only had one Pelican, an older-model ship armed with 40mm chain guns under the wings and unguided rockets rather than the newer-model dropships, which were armed with 70mm chin guns and guided missiles. But both varieties of Pelican were sitting in front of the Warthog.
The Pelicans were burning or had already burned down to skeletal frames. The corpses of Marines were strewn out all over the entrance to the Firebase, laying in pools of blood, with their weapons tossed aside. Plasma burns and 7.62mm bullet holes dotted the Pelicans' hulls.
"Well... we should check for survivors, I guess," began Johnson, but then Buford cut him off.
"Shut up, Johnson!" hissed the Sergeant. "The Covies are all over this damn base, and we don't want any more attention than we've gotten already. Everyone, dismount!" whispered Buford.
The three Marines climbed out of the Warthog and stealthily snuck towards the Pelican wrecks. Smoke was rising from the ships, and Buford found it hard to breathe. The three Marines searched every wreck in sight, but they didn't find a single survivor.
"Sir! Look at this!" exclaimed McAlister.
"What is it?"
"There's bootprints here, sir. They look like combat boots, size 9 or 10. I can't see all the way to the barracks, but it looks like at least a few Marines got away."
"Yeah, that's a good way to look at it," said Johnson, his rifle ready to fire.
"I agree. Let's check this out, Marines," said Buford.
The soldiers followed the trail left by the Marines, looking for survivors. As they traversed the snow-covered plateau, they were constantly on the lookout for Covenant. Suddenly, M6D shots rang out. Johnson gave everyone a tight smile as he assumed a shooter's stance and strafed left, firing at a Grunt about one hundred feet away. The Covenant trooper fell, blue blood spraying from a neck wound.
"Get under cover, everyone! There's more of them!" screamed Buford. More Grunts and Jackals streamed out of the base's guardhouses, firing plasma pistols and needlers. The green bolts of plasma and the magenta trails of needler rounds tracked the three Marines as the sheltered beneath the wreckage of one of Bravo's Warthogs. They fired their weapons at the distant Covenant, but only a smattering of Grunts fell. The Jackals began to form shield formations, drawing off most of the Marines' fire.
"Damn it! The Jackals are covering the rest of the Covies. Johnson, I need a grenade," said Buford as he snapped off a three-round burst.
"Here, sir. Take this one."
Buford accepted the HE grenade and took a good look at the Covenant through a hole in the Warthog's bumper. All right, here goes nothing, thought the Sergeant. He stood and tossed the weapon, while hoping that the other Marines would keep the Covenant pinned down. It was the longest three seconds of his life as Buford waited for the grenade to explode. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the crump of the grenade echoed across the plateau and the screams and wails of the Covenant could be heard.
All three of the Marines stood and fired their assault rifles at the Covenant troops, ripping apart the survivors of the blast. Then, they turned and sprinted through the corrugated steel door into the barracks. Plasma bolts whistled through the air behind them, and then Buford slammed the door shut.
"Well.. that was close," he said.
"Nice throw, Sergeant," said McAlister. "I was surprised—for an old guy, you throw pretty damn well."
The three Marines laughed, and the sounds of their chuckling was the only happy sound that could be heard for miles.
***
1700 Hours, April 17th, 2545
In orbit around Phi Delta V
On board the Minotaur
"We'll be coming out of Slipspace in about ten minutes, Admiral," said a lieutenant.
"All right, Lieutenant. Prepare the ODSTs... we've got a whole lot of work to do", said Vice Admiral Preston Cole.
The Minotaur and her task force had been urgently called to Phi Delta in response to the attack on the system ten days earlier. The flight from Reach had been full of anxiety—who knew whether the Minotaur would see the bright green gem of Phi Delta V or a glassed, destroyed planet? The ship's complement of ODST Helljumpers had been especially uneasy about the deployment, since the last four worlds they had seen had all been glassed.
Cole looked out the viewport at the wildly shifting space-time rifts of Slipstream space. The view showed a dimension in which nothing was constant, and the rules of physics didn't apply—and the same was true of the war against the Covenant.
They're so unpredictable, thought Cole. They glass Harvest, invade Chi Ceti 4, glass the next fifteen colonies, and then they take the time to invade Ruur? It doesn't make any sense.
"Admiral, we're coming out of Slipspace now," said the lieutenant. "Orders?"
Cole snapped out of his musings and began to order the Minotaur into position.
It's going to be a long day, he thought.



The Battle for Phi Delta: Chapter 3
Date: 29 November 2003, 2:13 AM

Chapter Three

April 18th, 2545

Inside Firebase Bravo

Buford turned the corner and spotted a lone Grunt. Hmmm... a little bit too convenient, thought the sergeant. He quickly slipped back around the hallway.

"Hold here. I’ll take care of this one," he told McAlister and Johnson.

Buford knew that the MA5B was too noisy, and so was the pistol. But his combat knife would take down the Grunt with nearly no noise footprint. Buford reached down and grabbed the razor-sharp knife from his boot holster. He balanced the knife in his hands, and then turned the corner again. He whirled, the knife in his hand, and stopped dead in his tracks.

The Grunt was dead, stomped on by a Brute. The ape-like behemoth had evidently just stepped on the Grunt in its haste to get to the opposite end of the hall. Buford could see the hunched shape of the Brute’s back at the way back of the hall, its furry shape tense and bent-over, as if the Covenant trooper was looking for something. Without a sound, Buford turned back to Johnson and McAlister.

"Get the Jackhammers, Calvin. There’s a Brute down there."

"Here, Sarge. Take 'em," replied Johnson as he handed Buford the twin-barreled rocket launcher.

Buford turned back to the hallway. As he stepped out into the corridor to fire the weapon, the Brute saw him. Time seemed to slow down as the Brute roared a cry of defiance and Buford, his jaw set, pulled the trigger on the launcher, sending one rocket down the hall. The Brute fired its plasma cannon, scoring the wall behind Buford with heat and spraying Buford with superheated metal, just as the rocket hit the Brute in the head. Buford sighed and wiped off the back of his ballistic armor with one gloved hand.

"Well, that was a messy one," he said. Grunts and Jackals poured around the corner, and all three Marines opened up with their assault rifles, mowing down the unprotected Grunts and only wounding the shielded Jackals.

"Fire in the hole!" shouted Johnson as he tossed a M9 HE grenade down the corridor. It bounced around and then exploded, tearing apart the Jackals and staining the wall behind them with purple blood and gore.

The three Marines had been exploring Firebase Bravo’s main buildings and underground tunnels for more than a day now. They had found no survivors, but they had seen the work of the Covenant—UNSC corpses littered all over the ground, dimples of 7.62mm bullet holes piercing Covenant corpses—and they had fought off numerous attacks. The Marines had started their journey in the barracks of the base, and they had continued to advance through the base, taking out Covenant left and right.

By the time they had gotten to the base’s underground tunnel system, they had been exhausted. The three Marines had slept in shifts, with two of them sleeping and one on guard. Thus, they had continued on their way to the base’s command center.

McAlister took point and advanced down the hall. She came to a fork in the tunnel and heard a firefight going on down the right fork. "Sarge, there’s something going on down there," she said.

"I hear it, too," said Buford. "Let’s check it out. Johnson—watch our backs."

The Marines advanced, with McAlister pressing ahead, Buford in the middle, and Johnson warily watching their backs. McAlister turned the corner and walked straight into the middle of a raging battle between Covenant troops and the remnants of Firebase Bravo’s Marine detachment. 7.62mm rounds shot from the UNSC troops ravaged the suicidal charges that the Grunts performed. Plasma fire erupted from many of the Covenant weapons, casting shadows on the wall and usually scarring the wall behind the UNSC troops. McAlister and Buford opened up on the Covenant troops’ flank, while Buford readied the Jackhammers.

Grunts and Elites flew everywhere, torn apart by the barrage. Buford and McAlister strafed and crouched, firing clip after clip. Johnson ran around the corner and fired their last two Jackhammers, wincing from the recoil. The rockets streaked ahead and blasted apart the Covenant gaggle of troops. Clean-up took about five minutes, with one Grunt refusing to die even after fourteen rounds of 7.62 hit it in the chest. Buford crushed its skull with the butt of his rifle.

Eight battle-weary Marines approached the three, carrying their assault rifles. "Who are you guys?" asked their leader, a corporal dressed in battle fatigues and a set of well-worn Marine armor.

"We’re from Firebase Charlie... sent here to 'rescue’ you, I guess. But our Pelicans went down at the Main Gate. We’re in just as bad shape as you guys," answered Buford.

"Well.. I suppose that no one else is coming, right?"

"We saw so many bodies on the way in. It doesn’t make sense that anyone would be alive—we only saw a few bootprints from the Pelicans to the doors."

"Well, I guess we’re screwed then, Sergeant."

"I like your style of thinking, Corporal. What exactly happened here, though?" asked Buford, giving a tight-lipped grin.

"Well, Sergeant, the Covenant attacked our base at about 0700 hours yesterday. We lost a lot of guys when they smashed their way into the living quarters—those Brutes can go right through our walls. We lost control of the Command Center and we couldn’t send radio messages to anyone, so we were hoping that someone would show up."

"All right. How hard would it be to get into the Command Center for five minutes? That’s all McAlister here needs," said Buford, gesturing to the Private.

McAlister laughed. "Well.. more like fifteen, actually."

"Well, we could try to storm it—but how would we get out?"

"I have no idea, son. But it’s the only thing we can do," said Buford with grim determination.

"All right. That sounds like a better plan than dying here in these tunnels. We’ve lost over fifty men since we escaped from the Command Center, but we can take it back for half an hour, if we get some more heavy weapons."

"Sounds good. Which way is it now to the Command Center?" asked Buford.

"We’ll take point," said the Corporal.

"All right."

The fourteen Marines made their way through the room, wary of any Covenant ambushers who might have crept up on them during the conference. The Marines then exited the room, proceeding to sneak along a long corridor scarred with bullet holes, corpses, and empty weapons.

***

Four hours later

Buford called for a halt. "There’s something fishy about this," he said.

"Yeah, something’s not right," added Johnson. "I don’t feel good at all about this."

Suddenly, a group of Commando Elites leaped out of the wall, and the battle was joined. Screaming curses at the top of their lungs, the Marines opened fire.



The Battle for Phi Delta: Chapter 4
Date: 29 November 2003, 2:14 AM

Chapter Four
1800 Hours, April 18th, 2545
Inside a corridor of Firebase Bravo
Buford wheeled, firing his MA5B and screaming at the top of his lungs, "Johnsonóthe Jackhammers!" Shell casings shot from the rifle as if they were possessed and had a life of their own as Buford emptied his last magazine of 7.62mm ammo. He cursed and reached down, pulling his sidearm out of its holster and crouching. The Elites continued to spray plasma fire like water, hosing down the Marines. The Corporal who had met Buford a few minutes back was on the ground, his face burnt off by an Elite's accurate fire.
The rattle of automatic weapons fire continued as the Marines desperately sought cover in the sparsely furnished corridor. Buford and McAlister hid behind an abandoned cart of power cells and reloaded their weapons. Wordlessly, the two Marines sprung out from behind the Cart, firing as they leapt. McAlister fired her rifle, catching two Elites in the chest with 7.62mm rounds. Buford finished them off with a barrage of pistol rounds, and then caved their skulls in with the butt of their pistols.
Other Elites, shielded by camouflage generators, were harder to kill. An unfortunate Marines looked around and lowered his weapon just as a camouflaged Elite smashed his head in with the butt of his plasma rifle, killing him instantly. All the surviving Marines turned, hosing the air near the private's falling body with 7.62 and 12.7 rounds.
The Elite snarled as the rounds hit him, and then he fell to the ground, purple ichor spouting from three chest wounds. Buford took stock and looked over his Marines. The Corporal was dead, along with three of his troops, leaving Buford with ten Marines under his command. They were desperately low on the 7.62mm ammo they needed for their assault rifles, and they only had four Jackhammer missiles and two launchers. The room was coated in human and alien blood, with bullet holes all over the place and plasma scoring on many of the human bodies' armor.
Buford gathered the Marines together and addressed them. "We were lucky that time," said the sergeant, while field-stripping his pistol. "We need to get to the Command Center fast, because I know that our little group here can't take much more of this. We won't last long with all these ambushes."
"That's right, sir," said Johnson, nodding emphatically. His armor was scarred with three plasma burns, and he had been lucky not to have received a serious hit.
"Well, let's go, Marines."
"Aye, sir," they echoed back.
The group of ten battle-weary Marines proceeded down the hall, nerves on edge. Every shadow seemed to have the angular head of an Elite; every splatter of motor oil looked like Grunt blood. But their journey continued without incidentóno Covenant troops attacked them for more than three hours.
Suddenly, McAlister brought all of the Marines to a stop. "Do you hear that?" she asked.
"Yeah, I do," replied the Marine behind her in line.
"Let's proceed with caution," said Buford. "McAlister, keep your eyes and ears wide open. That applies to all of us, actually."
"Let's go," she whispered.
***
About the same time
On board the Minotaur
"Sir, we have radio contact with Firebase Charlie," said a JG as he ran frantically around the bridge, trying to relay messages to the Marines on Phi Delta.
"Good. Put it on the main speakers, Ensign," said Cole as he gestured toward an Ensign seated at communications.
"Yes sir. Just a second," said the officer.
The radio gave only static for a few seconds, but then a clear signal got through. "This is Firebase Charlie to any UNSC forcesówe're taking heavy enemy fire and need reinforcements immediately! Please, send help!" blared the radio.
"Hold on, Charlie. This is Vice Admiral Cole, on board the Minotaur. We'll send you some ODSTs."
"Acknowledged, Admiral. Please try to make it quick. Firebase Charlie out."
The radio signal cut off, leaving the Admiral with nothing but static to deal with. He turned to the ship's Marine liaison officer. "Well, let's prep the ODSTs. We've got a base to save, groundpounder."
"Aye, sir."
The liaison officer turned away from the Admiral and motioned to another Lieutenant. "Send the orders, Lieutenant. I want some troops on the ground ASAP."
***
One hour later
Command Center, Firebase Bravo
Buford fired three rounds into a Grunt, finishing off the Covenant inside the Control Room. The Marines had stormed the Command Center with no casualties. It's too easy, thought Buford. But, I'll take whatever I can get, so long as we get out of here. "McAlister, how's it going?" he asked the private, who was hunched over the subspace radio.
"Not too bad, Sergeant... We should be in contact in about five minutes or so, give the planet's rotation."
"Good."
"Siróthe doors aren't locking! The main computer is offline!" exclaimed one of the Marines who Buford had met earlier.
"Well, I guess we're screwed then," said Buford.
"Not necessarily, Sarge. I can boot up the computers," said Johnson, lugging a Jackhammer launcher into position to cover the door.
"Great. Why don't you do thatóit look like we might be here a while. Everyone, settle inówe're going to sit tight until we get some help here."
"Aye, sir. We'll shore up the defenses."
***
April 19th, 2545
On board the Minotaur
"Sir, we've launched the ODST drop pods," said the JG.
"Excellent. Move the ship into a geosynchronous orbitówe'll take up position around the planet," said Cole, waiting for the good news from Phi Delta.
The Minotaur moved into position, her titanium hull armor blindingly bright in the sunlight, waiting for the news of her attack.



The Battle for Phi Delta: Chapter 5
Date: 2 December 2003, 7:01 PM

Chapter Five

April 19th, 2545
Command Center, Firebase Bravo
Phi Delta V

The Command Center was full of broken glass and broken bodies. Covenant corpses littered the floor, staining the metal panels with blue and purple blood. Shell casings and empty plasma weapons lay on the ground amid shards of plasteel viewport material. The computer console sat lifeless, with dimples of 7.62mm round impacts and the blackened scars of plasma impacts plastered all over their faces. McAlister sat crouched in front of the radio, waiting to establish radio contact with Firebase Charlie, but she only got static.

Suddenly, the radio blasted a message at her. "Sergeant Buford—is that you?" asked an unknown speaker.

"No, this is McAlister," she replied. "Who am I talking to?"

"This is the Minotaur," said the radio. "Where is Buford?"

"He's here, but he's busy. We're holed up in Bravo's Command Center. We need assistance on the double."

"All right. Let me check with the Admiral. If everything goes over well, you'll have some Pelicans on your doorstep soon."

"Great. Thanks a bunch, Minotaur."

Just as McAlister cut the signal and turned to tell Buford, the Covenant attacked. Elites led the charge, running down the hallway and firing their plasma rifles. Grunts and Jackals followed, hitting the Marines with a barrage of needles and plasma fire. The Marines returned fire, emptying their last 7.62mm clips. Buford grabbed a plasma rifle from a dead Elite and opened up. The weapon's output overloaded one of the Jackals' shields, opening a hole in the Covenant defense. One of the other Marines stood to toss a grenade, but took a plasma bolt in the midsection. Johnson, showing extraordinary reflexes, caught the grenade in the air and managed to toss it at the Covenant. The HE explosive tore apart the Covenant formation, splattering the walls with blood.

The squad's medic ran to the fallen soldier, desperately clutching a first aid kit. The poor Marine was bleeding out, his intestines strewn out all over the floor from the impact of the energy bolt. The beleaguered Medic shook his head, got out the self-sealing biofoam, and got to work. The Marine bled out within minutes; there was nothing the medic could do. Meanwhile, the Marines fell back, firing the last of their UNSC ordnance and then appropriating Covenant weaponry.

One by one, the Marines were killed. Soon, only Buford, Johnson, McAlister, and two of Bravo's Marines were left. They backed into a corner of the large room, firing what weapons they had. Grunts and Jackals fell within twenty feet of their position, torn apart by plasma weapons. Elites' energy shields allowed them to fare slightly better, but they went down as well. Buford cursed as his stolen plasma rifle's power core ran out of energy. He tossed the weapon to the ground and drew his sidearm. If I go down, he angrily thought to himself, I'm taking those Covenant with me!

With a shout, Buford fired his M6D, nailing three Grunts and taking down an Elite. Johnson unleashed a charged blast from a plasma pistol, tossing several Covenant corpses to the ground, their armor scorched and warped from the energy weapon's output. McAlister screamed as a plasma bolt missed her by inches; then she fired the last 12.7mm round in her pistol's clip, capping a red-armored Elite in the head and killing it. Suddenly, the Command Center's main viewport shattered. Thousands of 70mm chain gun rounds penetrated the plasteel viewport and slaughtered the Covenant troops within. Once the barrage of heavy rounds had ceased, the five Marines got up and ran to the viewport.

A Pelican dropship awaited them, its back ramp open and the door gunner manning a smoking 70mm chain gun on the ramp.
"Well, don't just sit there, Marines. Let's move!" shouted the gunner.

Buford, embarrassed to stare at the Pelican, leaped from the Command Center's shattered viewport to the ramp of the Pelican. As he strapped himself in, he thought to himself. I hope this Pelican flight goes smoother than the last one did.

The dropship pulled away from the Firebase just as a new wave of Covenant troops stormed the Command Center. Yips and barks could be heard as Grunts tried to bring the dropship down, but the Covenant troops' efforts were in vain. The Pelican shot away from the base into the sunset.

***

A few hours later
On board the Minotaur

Buford stepped out the Pelican into the Minotaur's expansive docking bay. The docking bay was full of Pelican dropships and C709 Longsword fighters, as well as the crewmen needed to run such an armada. Technicians ran around, dragging carts laden with the 70mm ammunition that the Pelicans needed for their weapons. Others armed Longsword interceptors and launched them into space. He turned to Sergeant Madison, the soldier who had brought them off Phi Delta V in the Pelican.

"So.. what's going on?" he asked, bewildered by all the activity.

"Well, the Admiral wants all UNSC personnel off of Phi Delta V. We've evacuated nearly all of the civilians, and we've saved at least a hundred Marines. Then, we're going to get out of the system and jump to Reach."

"What? What about Phi Delta?" questioned Buford, angry that the Admiral was giving up without a fight.

"I'm sorry, Sergeant, but the Admiral decided that it would be impossible to save the planet. Firebase Charlie and HQ were completely destroyed by the Covenant—what hope did we have of saving the planet?"

Buford knew that the Admiral was right, but he didn't want to accept it. He fumed with anger momentarily, and then softened his expression.

"Well, I suppose the Admiral's right. Let's get out of here," he said as he wheeled away from the Pelican, with McAlister and Johnson close behind.

***

Epilogue

Within five hours of Cole leaving the system, the Covenant attacked Phi Delta V again. However, the UNSC had completely abandoned the planet, leaving only the permanently placed equipment—such as the orbital defense stations.

McAlister, Buford, and Johnson all escaped to fight another day. However, their lives were to be short and violent. Buford died a few months later, when the Pelican he was on was shot down by a Banshee. McAlister died within hours of Buford when she was killed by a Covenant special forces team. Johnson survived for seven more years, but he was eventually glassed along with the rest of his division when Reach fell.

Thus, the Covenant and Admiral Cole's fleet played a game of cat-and-mouse in the Colonies. Countless Marines died, and the Human-Covenant war continued.
Witelancer thanks:

-HBO for hosting the fanfic.

-Everyone who read The Recovery as well as this fic.

-Family and friends.



The Battle for Phi Delta: Chapter Four (revised edition)
Date: 1 January 2004, 7:01 PM

Author's note: When I originally submitted this story, this chapter was kind of weak (at least the ending), so I added a bit.

Chapter Four
1800 Hours, April 18th, 2545
Inside a corridor of Firebase Bravo


      Buford wheeled, firing his MA5B and screaming at the top of his lungs, "Johnson—the Jackhammers!" Shell casings shot from the rifle as if they were possessed and had a life of their own as Buford emptied his last magazine of 7.62mm ammo. He cursed and reached down, pulling his sidearm out of its holster and crouching. The Elites continued to spray plasma fire like water, hosing down the Marines. The Corporal who had met Buford a few minutes back was on the ground, his face burnt off by an Elite's accurate fire.

      The rattle of automatic weapons fire continued as the Marines desperately sought cover in the sparsely furnished corridor. Buford and McAlister hid behind an abandoned cart of power cells and reloaded their weapons. Wordlessly, the two Marines sprung out from behind the Cart, firing as they leapt. McAlister fired her rifle, catching two Elites in the chest with 7.62mm rounds. Buford finished them off with a barrage of pistol rounds, and then caved their skulls in with the butt of their pistols.

      Other Elites, shielded by camouflage generators, were harder to kill. An unfortunate Marines looked around and lowered his weapon just as a camouflaged Elite smashed his head in with the butt of his plasma rifle, killing him instantly. All the surviving Marines turned, hosing the air near the private's falling body with 7.62 and 12.7 rounds.

      The Elite snarled as the rounds hit him, and then he fell to the ground, purple ichor spouting from three chest wounds. Buford took stock and looked over his Marines. The Corporal was dead, along with three of his troops, leaving Buford with ten Marines under his command. They were desperately low on the 7.62mm ammo they needed for their assault rifles, and they only had four Jackhammer missiles and two launchers. The room was coated in human and alien blood, with bullet holes all over the place and plasma scoring on many of the human bodies' armor.

      Buford gathered the Marines together and addressed them. "We were lucky that time," said the sergeant, while field-stripping his pistol. "We need to get to the Command Center fast, because I know that our little group here can't take much more of this. We won't last long with all these ambushes."
      "That's right, sir," said Johnson, nodding emphatically. His armor was scarred with three plasma burns, and he had been lucky not to have received a serious hit.

      "Well, let's go, Marines."

      "Aye, sir," they echoed back.

      The group of ten battle-weary Marines proceeded down the hall, nerves on edge. Every shadow seemed to have the angular head of an Elite; every splatter of motor oil looked like Grunt blood. But their journey continued without incident—no Covenant troops attacked them for more than three hours.

      Suddenly, McAlister brought all of the Marines to a stop. "Do you hear that?" she asked.

      "Yeah, I do," replied the Marine behind her in line.

      "Let's proceed with caution," said Buford. "McAlister, keep your eyes and ears wide open. That applies to all of us, actually."

      "Let's go," she whispered.
***
About the same time
On board the Minotaur


      "Sir, we have radio contact with Firebase Charlie," said a JG as he ran frantically around the bridge, trying to relay messages to the Marines on Phi Delta.

      "Good. Put it on the main speakers, Ensign," said Cole as he gestured toward an Ensign seated at communications.

      "Yes sir. Just a second," said the officer.

      The radio gave only static for a few seconds, but then a clear signal got through. "This is Firebase Charlie to any UNSC forces—we're taking heavy enemy fire and need reinforcements immediately! Please, send help!" blared the radio.

      "Hold on, Charlie. This is Vice Admiral Cole, on board the Minotaur. We'll send you some ODSTs."

      "Acknowledged, Admiral. Please try to make it quick. Firebase Charlie out."

      The radio signal cut off, leaving the Admiral with nothing but static to deal with. He turned to the ship's Marine liaison officer. "Well, let's prep the ODSTs. We've got a base to save, groundpounder."

      "Aye, sir."

      The liaison officer turned away from the Admiral and motioned to another Lieutenant. "Send the orders, Lieutenant. I want some troops on the ground ASAP."

***

One hour later
Command Center, Firebase Bravo


      Buford fired three rounds into a Grunt, finishing off the Covenant inside the Control Room. The Marines had stormed the Command Center with no casualties. It's too easy, thought Buford. But, I'll take whatever I can get, so long as we get out of here. "McAlister, how's it going?" he asked the private, who was hunched over the subspace radio.

      "Not too bad, Sergeant... We should be in contact in about five minutes or so, give the planet's rotation."

      "Good."

      "Sir—the doors aren't locking! The main computer is offline!" exclaimed one of the Marines who Buford had met earlier.

      "Well, I guess we're screwed then," said Buford.

      "Not necessarily, Sarge. I can boot up the computers," said Johnson, lugging a Jackhammer launcher into position to cover the door.

      "Great. Why don't you do that—it look like we might be here a while. Everyone, settle in—we're going to sit tight until we get some help here."

      "Aye, sir. We'll shore up the defenses."

***

April 19th, 2545
On board the Minotaur


      "Sir, we've launched the ODST drop pods," said the JG.

      "Excellent. Move the ship into a geosynchronous orbit—we'll take up position around the planet," said Cole, waiting for the good news from Phi Delta.

      The Minotaur moved into position, her titanium hull armor blindingly bright in the sunlight, and she orbited the planet, waiting for the results of her attack.
***
One hour later
Alpha Base (UNSC Marine HQ)


      The ODSTs were reeling, their formations shot up and disorganized. The burning hulks of Warthog LRVs littered the battlefield. Hundreds of dead Marines lay on the ground, the charring of plasma weapons evident on their corpses. The rattle of automatic weapons fire echoed across the plain.

      Columns of smoke rose from Alpha Base itself. The Headquarters had been utterly demolished by a massive Covenant strike force. The prefabricated bawe smoldered while a few Pelicans ferried the rare survivor to obit. The Helljumpers were pushed back by thousands of Grunts as the Covenant closed in. The Pelicans returned—but by that time, only a few ODSTs were left. The smoking corpses of half a battalion of ODSTs littered the battlefield.

      Cole shook his head. "Goddamnit!" he shouted. The Admiral pounded his fist on the table in front of him. "All right, get the last of the troops in. Initiate the Slipspace engine as soon as we're—"

      "Admiral! We have radio contact with Firebase Bravo!" shouted an ensign.

      "Scratch those orders," snapped the grizzled old officer. "I want those survivors up here too—we don't leave anyone behind."





bungie.org