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The Ghosts 2: Hidden Enemy by fallschirmjager

1st SPEC OPs Division: The Ghosts 2: Hidden Enemy Part 1 of Many
Date: 1 November 2004, 7:55 AM

1st SPEC OPS Division, 'The Ghosts' 2: Hidden Enemy Part 1

Seigfried Prime, Solaris System, 2553, April 6th, 0409 hours, Military Calender

      Lieutenant Shane Flanders led his men away, away from their hidden enemy. The enemy that would kill them all if they didn't escape soon. Shane stopped at the next tree of Seigfried's vast forested areas; which covered almost 98% of the planet. Flanders turned and looked at the mixed squad running toward him.

      As the mixed squad of Shane's Bravo Team and the remains of the Echo Team ran past he gave them each a pat on the back; they had been through a lot today and it wasn't over yet.

      For anyone to make sense of this you would need to go back. Back 36 hours before this Hidden Enemy and this fear wasn't known.

Tiger Class MKIII Battle Cruiser, Outreaches of the Solaris System, 2553, April 5th, 0715, Military Calender, Bravo Team Briefing.

      "So what you're trying to say is that you lost contact with the base?" Said Ress Akira to their Commander of operations for this sector; Colonel Scott.
      "Precisely," said Scott.
      "And we've got to go and see if it's alright?" Said Earl Enfield. Scott nodded as he took a sip of cold bitter instant coffee. They hadn't been to another port for months and the good stuff was all gone.
      "I don't want to rain on your parade, sir," said Shane Flanders looking out the viewing window at the Solaris System, he had a bad feeling about this one, "but I believe this is a waste of my platoon's skills. I think you should give this to someone else, like those Rangers, they might be able to handle it."

      Scott's face turned a dark shade of red; he had been in the Rangers once.
      "Well I'm in command and I say you and your team are to go, God Dammit!" Scott's fists slammed down on the bench, spilling his coffer over his clean pants. "Crap!" he exclaimed wiping at the liquid with a shirt sleeve. "GO and suit up, we've got some new gear for your lot to try out, ship leaves in 90 minutes."

      An hour later the seven man Bravo Team were fully armed and armoured with the latest and most advanced equipment in use; ex-Shock Trooper grade armour and ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence) grade 11mm Carbide Shadow Rifles (also used by ONI SPOOKS; SPOOKS are secretive soldiers of the ONI and no one outside of ONI knows of their existence without running into one) and 13mm Raptor Magnum Pistols; stealth didn't seem to be on today's criteria.

      In 15 minutes they were aboard a Z-48 'Whale' inter-planetary drop ship bound for Siegfried Prime; a good 8 hours away.

      The men settled back for the ride in the carnivorous passenger area designed to house somewhere between 20-30 fully loaded troops in relative good comfort or four heavy United Nations Space Command (UNSC) heavy vehicles, from Scorpion tanks to nimble M12 LRV 'Warthog' recon jeeps. Other than the Raptor Magnums and Shadow Rifles; which the Ghosts were cleaning, they also had a K48A2 machinegun and a SPNKr ('Spanker' or 'Jackhammer') rocket launcher.

      Shane tried to give his men some advice and basic tactics but they booed and hiss him to be quiet. They all knew the drill; standard clean and sweep. It was probably just a bad communications system but Shane reframed from telling his men his bad feelings.

Seigfried Prime, Solaris System, 2553, April 5th, 1645 hours, Military Calender

      Ten minutes ago they had just entered the planet's atmosphere and now they had just left the safety of their drop ship for the jungle covered planet; the enemy could be anywhere...

      The team's sniper; Corporal Hans Muller lead the way with his S2 AM Snipers Rifle. They had been dropped some ten kilometres from the camp to maintain surprise if the base had been taken over by the enemy; or it could just be faulty communication, but they weren't taking any chances.

      The seven disciplined 'Ghosts' edged closer to the base, no one was talking; it was game time...

      All went well; they had traversed four kilometres when Shane had sent his Scout; Ress Akira to check on ahead.

      "Sir," Came Akira's voice in an unusual quiver over the radio.
      "What is it Akira?" Asked Shane looking over his shoulder to see his men; they had spread out and set up a small perimeter.
      "I found something..."
      "What kind of something? Good or bad?"
      "I have no friggin' clue!" Exclaimed Akira, he must have found something extremely bad...
      "Where are you, we'll come to you."
      "Almost two hundred metres north of you, Akira, out!" The radio went dead as Akira had stopped sending a signal.

      Shane stood up and looked around again; his men were looking at him with balaclava covered faces. "Alright, let's move!"

Seigfried Prime, Solaris System, 2553, April 5th, 1703 hours, Military Calender

      "WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!" Cried Earl Enfield; kneeling next to one of the many pools of green foul smelling liquid that covered a small clearing, "it almost looks like blood..."
      "Human blood..." exclaimed Reilly who was the team's medic and knew the most about this sort of stuff. But the blood isn't what made Akira flip out...
      "Shadow Rifles..." Breathed Shane, "ONI Spooks only work alone, the only other Troops issued with Shadows are..."
      "US?!" Exclaimed Chris Duncan; kneeling over one of rifles, it had a smear of red curdled blood along one of its sides, "other Ghosts... dead...?"
      "It seems that way, Chris," said Shane walking around the clearing, there were three Shadow Rifles here and several hundred empty bullet casings, "who ever they were, they went down fighting."
      "But if they went down," started Jefferson, "where's the bodies?" It was a good question, there were signs of where bodies had once been, but they weren't there and more.
      "That's a good question, Jef..." Gunfire...

      Gunfire erupted several hundred metres ahead; the Bravo Team scurried for cover in the trees on each side of the small clearing. More gun fire erupted this time closer; who ever was being shot at and shooting back as they ran.

"REILLY!" Yelled Shane, "PUT THE '48 OVER THERE!" The Trooper complied setting his weapon where Shane ordered.

                  Then they waited...

      The gunfire got closer and closer until they could finally hear the thumping of boots hitting the ground and exhausted yells of the men.

      "They're right on us!" Cried one.

      "Just keep moving!" Said another.

      "They're getting closer, Sarge!"

      "Don't stop!"

      "We can't out run them! Not forever!"

      "We'll make a stand where the others copped it!"

      The first Trooper; dressed in jungle kit with his 1st SPEC Ops Division badge clearly visible. Bursted through the brush and into the clearing and was greeted by a hastily camouflaged K48 and its operator who put a finger to his mouth and pointed over at large trunk and gave 'hide' hand signals.

Three more men entered the clearing, saw the Bravo Team as fellow Ghosts and joined the first of their number at the log.

      The first Covenant leaped into the clearing; it was not the sort Ghosts were accustom to killing, it stood taller than the average Elite at nine foot tall and must have weighed almost two hundred, two hundred and fifty kilograms. It resembled a great ape except for the fact it had armour and two sinister looking curved blades attached to the armour on its fore arms which were gripping a Covenant battle rifle.

At first appearance the creature howled as it saw the original four Ghosts behind the log with their weapons drawn, then it beat it's chest before making a lead at the four green clad troopers.

"IT'S A GOD DAMNED BRUTE!" Cried Enfield, "SHOOT IT, SHOOT IT!" HE cried switching from Shadow rifle to shotgun and firing instantly, the creature didn't lose a stride nor its nerve at the fifth man, this time dressed in black to reveal himself from the trees.

"FIRE!" Cried Shane after Enfield had already shot, all eleven Troopers opened fire with a mass sortie of weapons into the Brute. At the sight of six more of the humans the creature stopped and turned to run; it might have been big and stupid but it wasn't suicidal. As it turned to run Muller got a shot off from his sniper rifle at a gap in the armour where the vest armour didn't cover.

The Brute toppled over, the ground shook as the beast hit the ground and stopped moving.

      A slight 'crunch crunch' could be heard; the sound of marching feet, but at a quickened pace.

      'Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch...' Suddenly another Brute, then another, and then another leaped into the clearing, seeing their dead brethren pounded their chests in anger as smaller Covenant entered the clearing.

Most notable was several Elites standing eight foot tall in sparkling light blue armour and a few grunts in their orange jump suits and only stood five foot tall.

"Oh, my, god..." breathed one of the Ghosts dressed in green, he raised his Shadow rifle, flicked from 'single shot' to 'fun' and let loose what was left of the magazine.

The 11mm Carbide coated shells quoted they could pierce any armour worn by Covenant Troops except for Jackal Energy Shields and Hunter Shields, but they could now add Brute armour to the list. The bullets ricocheted off the Brutes and several rebounders hit some Grunts and Elites.

"KEEP SHOOTING!" Cried Shane to everyone, instantly the small peaceful clearing was turned into a battle zone once more, a constant high pitch BOOM echoed as weapons were fired at the Covenant; but it was all human weapons, several of the Elites began to shoot as they raced toward the humans, they hit some Ghosts but their armour was top of the line and the burning balls of super heated plasma sizzled as they hit the high impact plastic armour.

      In less than three seconds all the humans had dropped off the Grunts and Elites but the three mighty Brutes stood there, staring intently at the humans who were reloading their weapons.

Jefferson raised his SPNKr and fired a rocket at the closest Brute, the shell caught him or it in the chest and the Brute spiralled off into the bush in a wail of pain. The grins coming from what they were going to do to the humans vanished on the other two Brutes as fast as their comrade was blown away.

      They turned to run but again Muller knew where the weakness was and in two quick BOOM, BOOMs the enemy were defeated.

Silence echoed through the forests once more, the Ghosts waited and tried to see if they could hear any more Covenant coming, after two minutes of silence they decided no one was coming.

      The Green Clad Ghosts were members of Echo, the experienced jungle team. Bravo was the team used for Search and Destroy, Boarding enemy ships and missions like this, milk runs...

      "What the hell are you guys doing here?" Asked Shane talking to the Echo Team's Sargeant, as their commander was one of the three who died here.

      "We were on our way back to base when we got the distress signal," said the Sargeant.

      "Distress signal?" Said Shane, "we were told they lost contact and we were just here to see if anything was wrong."

      "We clearly heard 'Covenant are invading', we landed a few clicks out and we were ambushed by some, the Cap'n and two others got it so we ran off to get some help from the base but it was deserted," the Sargeant looked over his shoulder at his men; they looked like hell, heck they had been there! "Except for blood, lots of freakin' blood! Not normal stuff either it was like..."

      "Green?" Guessed Shane.

      "Well, yeah that's the thing, sir, how did you know?" Shane pointed to the ground a few feet away where pools of green blood littered the clearing.

      "Oh crap, where's the bodies?" Asked the Sargeant, a look of confusion on his face.

      "You know as much as us, anything else?"

      "Yeah one thing we noticed actually from the comms centre of the base," the Sargeant pulled out a data disk and inserted it into Shane's helmet. Shane watched a video of a Covenant vessel; extremely damaged, almost the whole structure was charred and the purple glaze of all Covenant ships wasn't visible any more. Then he noticed he was watching from a satellite somewhere up in space, then he saw the second and third ships tailing the first; not just tailing shooting! Two Covenant ships were assaulting the other one.

      "It seems there is a rebellion or something, sir," said the Sargeant after Shane handed back the disk, "we've seen the damaged ship but from like ten clicks away, it was swarming with Elites."

      "I want to see it..." Said Shane turning on his heel and mobilising his men.

      "With all do respect, sir," the Sargeant took a step toward Shane, "but we've been there and there is nothing we can do, we're eleven men, now, not with a hundred of us could we do it..."

      "Just lead the way, soldier, you're going to earn your pay today!"

Seigfried Prime, Solaris System, 2553, April 6th, 0002 hours, Military Calender

      The scout from Echo team lead the way, he was an experienced woods men and knew what to look for in the signs of an ambush.

      They had been walking for almost six hours now and they were almost at the Covenant ship which had been attacked. The team had their night vision goggles on and were ready for more Covenant.

      "There it is," said the Sargeant pointing down at the ship, only with night vision could they see it, they had not set up flood lights around the ship like the aliens usually did. The only light source was from several small fires on the hull where it had been hit.

      "Strange," said Shane examining the ship and the immediate area, "I don't see any one, not even any dead..." As if on cue gun fire erupted, but from Covenant weaponry. Plasma bulls exploded onto the side of the ship, then Shane could see the attacking force, several hundred Elites with twenty or so Brutes and maybe five hundred Grunts stormed out of the forest into the landing zone.

The gravity lift on the damaged Battle Cruiser begun to glow purple and waves of strange looking Elites deployed from the ship and fanned out had rush the on coming attackers.

      "Never seen that before," said Jefferson.

      "What?" Asked Shane.

      "Elites running around with broken necks, sir." Shane looked closer, this time using ten times magnification, Jefferson was right! The Elites that deployed from the ship did look strange and now he knew why. Their usual yellowish skin was now green and somewhat... eaten, also they had no armour and they had grown strange tentacles which were used as weapons in the oncoming assault.

      "They look strangely familiar, Shane," said Enfield remembering the mission on the Covenant Battle Cruiser when they got information on The Flood, "are they..."

      "They're... The Flood..." Breathed Shane, "We're screwed..."

      The same could be said about the Covenant assault on the Flood. The Covenant troops fell under a lethal hail of plasma and tentacle swipes, dieing in the hundreds. The assault faltered and the remaining Covenant pulled back.

Even the Brutes stood little chance against the massive numbers of The Flood, they swiped left and right with their massive fists and curved blades but the carved up Flood just pulled themselves back together and kept on attacking.

      "I'd hate to see what a Brute looks like when it's turned into one of those things." Said Duncan, the thought sent a shiver down his spine, they were scary enough!

      They waited several minutes before it happened; swarms of green things the size of base balls with tentacles to move around, swarmed out of the ship. They circled around the dead and the deader (the later being Flood that had actually been killed...again).

      Shane watched it shock and awe as he witnessed the even through Muller's rifle scope. The ten times magnification made the eight hundred metres seem so close. He could touch the enemy. Shane began to watch one of the small creatures.

      To begin with the creature crawled onto the body, and entered through an open wound, that had been caused by a blow from some sort of melee weapon. The creature disappeared from sight but Shane could see the bulge of something in the dead Elite's chest cavity that shouldn't have been there.

      Then for several minutes the body shook, shook as the green squid thing dug deeper into the victim until finally it stoped. Another minute passed until Shane noticed movement, a hand tensed on the 'dead' Elite, then a leg twitched followed by the upper portion of the 'corpse' sitting up, the Elite's neck hung back on an obscene angle... broken.

      Finally the creature stood up in all its hideous glory. Still resembling a Elite in blue armour, it removed its armour and Shane could see some of green flesh already starting to grow around where the squid had entered. Then he noticed others, more Elites and Grunts and even a Brute! Started to stand up; their necks also broken.

      "Let's get the hell outta' Dodge!" Said the Sargeant of Echo.

      "Not until I radio it in," said Shane extending the aerial on the radio system on his helmet.

      "Command this is Bravo Team, over," Shane waited.

      "Roger that Bravo Team, what is your SIT REP, over?" Said the communications officer sweating behind his desk under the light blue illuminated screen that was his console.

      Colonel Scott was standing behind him, a set of communication gear in hand.

      "We have made contact with Echo Team,"

      "Shit..." Breathed Scott, "Echo was meant to be dead, crap!"

      "And assessed the situation," continued Shane, "we have made contact with extensive Covenant resistance, two battle cruisers, over."

      "Any good news in that, Flanders?" Asked Scott, trying to hide his true feelings; the operation was in shambles.

      "Not really, sir but that was meant to be the good news," Scott knew what was happening, he wished these idiots didn't though, "any how, we've made contact with the Flood, what are your orders?"

      "Let me think, well, we'll send in another team then, probably Hell-Fire, they got the best demolition team." Scott knew what he was saying wasn't true, he would let the remains of Bravo and Echo stew in their own crap.

      "ETA?" Asked Shane.

      "Day break, around 0430 hours, at grid reference, five-five-six, nine-three-zero-nine," Scott cut the communications.

      "Should I contact Hell-Fire now, sir?" Asked the Comms Officer, Scott gave him an icy glaze.

      "You didn't hear, anything, get back to work or I'll have your stripes, soldier!" With that Scott left the room pondering what he would put on the report for how the experiment went wrong and how to explain that Bravo; the best Ghost team ever, was Killed In Action and also why the planet would be nuked tomorrow night.

Seigfried Prime, Solaris System, 2553, April 6th, 0036 hours, Military Calender

      Shane sat there reading the map, they were two clicks North of where Hell-Fire was to land, it would take them several hours.

      "Alright people have some rest, we move in an hour." Shane sat down and had some sleep last thing he saw of the Flood was that they had retreated back into their ship with some four hundred more 'soldiers'.

Seigfried Prime, Solaris System, 2553, April 6th, 0102 hours, Military Calender


      Shane opened his eyes instantly, then he saw Duncan and Enfield with their weapons drawn, firing down the slope at an unseen enemy.

      "Who is it!?" Shane asked obviously not friendlies.

      "It's them," the way he said it Shane knew it must be the flood, "there's ten or so, they just wandered up the hill!" Duncan shot again dropping a 'zombie' with a shot to the leg; blowing it off.

      "Ok, Sargeant," said Shane, "it is now time to get the freaking hell outta' Dodge!" Shane grabbed his gun and lead them off into the jungle, he looked back and saw a very bad sight, the contents of the destroyed ship spilled forth in a bloody rage. "OH CRAP!" He exclaimed running harder his men were right behind him.

Seigfried Prime, Solaris System, 2553, April 6th, 0406 hours, Military Calender

      They weren't far behind them but he didn't care, if they made it to the rendezvous they could ride out on the reinforcement bird.

      Shane reached the tree, gave each of his men a pat on the back as they ran past, it wasn't over yet...

Seigfried Prime, Solaris System, 2553, April 6th, 0429 hours, the Rendezvous Point, Military Calender

      They had made it to the Rendezvous point with the Flood close on their heels. Soon the reinforcements should be here but they wouldn't be coming, at least not now...