Raven Squad's Hard Day
Posted By: Adam Brennan<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 22 September 2008, 3:52 pm
"Holy shit, man," yelled Corporal Kris Jovan, Kurl to the guys, over the rip of his Squads Battle Rifles, "they've got a bitch of a Wraith down there!"
The mission, that the eight man Raven Squad was on, had just got off to a bad start. A hidden Jackal sniper had picked off Joey, one of the groups newest volunteers, when he had popped his head out from behind a tree. The miserable Grunt, which had been leaning against a scorched rock when Joey moved to crack its skull with the butt of his Battle Rifle, had been bait for Raven squad and they had walked right into a trap.
Now crouched behind a ragged rock formation at the base of a cliff, they were trapped, and things were looking dire. The surviving six members of the squad looked to their Sergeant to secure their safety. Sergeant Cage Adams could tell his troops were focused even though he couldn't see there faces, he had uncharacteristically led them astray, outwitted by an Elite, and he was hating himself, but now was not the time.
"Alright you dogs, if you want to make it through this it's going to take some serious balls!" Cage said with conviction. "If we let them get mobilised and storm us then we're as good as dead."
The rush down the slope to the waiting squad of Grunts led by the tactical Elite, that Cage presumed had engineered this whole thing, from the assassination of Joey to the herding of Raven Squad to their present spot, was going to be hit or miss. Sergeant Adams knew he was going to have to split his squad, Kurl would lead Dougie, Carlos and Jade, the other new members of the squad who still had to prove their worth down among the trees to the right, while he would take Buster and AJ, two battle hardened veterans of dozens of battles, who along with Kurl formed the core of this squad, and flank the left. Kurl's team were to draw the heavy fire form the Grunts, but the trees should offer them some cover. Cage and his team had the unwelcome job of rushing the Elite in the open, they hoped that the ferocity and surprise of their apparently suicidal attack would be enough to overwhelm the Covenant scum, and give them a chance to get a few grenades bouncing among the gravel under the Wraith.
"Ready on my mark, Kurl go hard and fast, Buster, AJ keep your heads down I don't want to lose anybody." Cage checked the position of the Covenant, the Elite had his back to them, he was talking to the Grunt in the Wraith; it looked like it was getting ordered in to blast them out. The moment was upon them.
"Kurl, ready, break!"
Kurl's team ran for the trees they made it without incident, the Covenant still weren't aware of what was happening. Kurl took point down the slope hugging each tree for cover.
"Keep it quiet, we need to get close." whispered Kurl, "One burst, one kill."
The shots were the signal for Cage to do his stuff. The Sergeant had lost his entire family during the course of the war, that's why he fought so hard, that's why he refused promotion, he had to be in the thick of battle to quench his hate for the murderers that took his wife and son. The whine of a Battle Rifle was music to his ears, as he rushed out from behind the rocks. The slope was firm under foot and he was aware that AJ and Buster were right on his shoulder. The Elite launched a Plasma Grenade as he dived for cover, but with three Battle Rifle scopes trained in on him he took a lot of bullets. The Plasma Grenade was a perfect shot though and struck AJ square on the chest, he flew backwards as it exploded leaving Buster and Cage to challenge the Wraith as it turned to face them.
Kurl and his team, had done their job the Grunts were down, but they too had lost a trooper, Carlos had taken a lot of rounds from a Needler and the, "Fear of the Pink Mist," was as true as ever. Kurl urged his team forward it was going to take the remainder of Raven Squad all focusing fire on the Wraith if they were to stand any chance of destroying it.
"We're to close for the plasma mortar, but the repeating blasters are still hardcore!" Cage said into the radio as he and Buster lay sprawled in a ditch.
"Rodger," Kurl replied, "Same as usual I take it?"
"You know it!"
The Wraith turned to face Kurl's team spraying a stream of bullets into the trees just as they tossed their grenades. Dougie got hit hard in the gut; there was a pool of blood already soaking into the dirt beneath where he fell.
Cage seen Dougie's death, but he knew they had just won; he primed the alien grenade he scooped off the ground as he bolted toward the back of the Wraith. With that sickening beep, this time at least it was the sound of victory, he knew he had hit his target. The explosion rocked the soldiers most of them losing their balance.
"HOO-RAH!" the troopers shouted as one.
Buster spotted the wounded Elite, purple blood forming a trail behind him, and kicked him over onto his back, he couldn't believe he was still trying crawl to a weapon. You had to respect the Elites as a race, Buster thought, as he emptied a clip into its ugly face, they were true warriors.
Disaster turned into conquest the Covenant forces were defeated. The rest of the marines could come down the easy way in a Pelican and establish the much needed base. Jade was on the radio alerting command that the mission was a success. Buster was checking the corpses; Cage was smoking a well deserved cigarette while Kurl reflected on his love of being an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper.
Safely aboard the Frigate UNSC Smoke On The Wind Sergeant Cage Adams reflected on what had unfolded in the valley on that beautifully green world.
"Do you think we got spotted last night as we dropped?"
"I wouldn't have thought so had we not been taken for a ride," responded Kurl, "Man I can't believe we got played."
"Don't sweat it, job done," Buster interrupted."
"Yeah, we all knew what we were signing up for when we volunteered for this crazy shit," Jade said with a smile, "We're doing a kind of dangerous work, you know we're going to take losses."
Jade was right, they only lost four out of eight, fifty percent casualties was a pretty low figure for ODST squads, usually it was closer to ninety.
Cage gave Jade a look of disdain, who did she think she was as fresh meat to speak to him like that, passion always ran high among these troopers. He suddenly released his mistake, Jade had showed her colour and came out alive, she was allowed an opinion, but he couldn't help regret the loss of three of his squad never mind the loss of AJ. AJ had served many missions with Cage and he would be hard to replace.
"Get some rest, we've got to meet up tomorrow with a squad of marines. Their job is to give us support as we stab hard into the middle of the Covenant stronghold, our job is to ignite the base, burn it to the ground, it's heavily stocked with supplies that Command don't want the freaks using." Cage stated.
"What, I thought we were getting out of this dump after we secured a base." Kurl said.
"Yeah, well so did I, apparently the Marines can't handle this on their own." Cage responded.
"What are they doing down there anyway?" Jade asked, "I mean it's a pretty out of the road sort of planet, not worth much strategically."
"That doesn't concern us, you shoot first and that's it no questions at all, you got that Trooper!" Cage snapped at Jade, as new to the squad she would get it tough for a while.
"Sir, yes Sir!" Jade answered
Buster sniggered; he always found the hazing of "newbies" funny.
Cage softened, he suddenly remembered his first few weeks with the ODST, he new it was needed but decided to relent she'd fought hard on her first mission "I hear it's something to do with Forerunners, command weren't specific."
"Forerunners?" Kurl thought aloud, "Sounds like something to do with the Spartan."
"Yeah," retorted Buster, "well he may not show his face round here, I haven't got time for that sort of Frankenstein."
"Well if he does you just keep your head down and don't start no fights, they don't end well." Cage told Buster. "The last three ODST that fought him ended up in a bad way."
"Come on man, you know we could take him." Buster joked.
Kurl glared at Buster, "He's right you know, we're meant to be on the same page, those other guys were fools regardless of the circumstances."
"Jesus, I was just joking around." Buster sulked.
Cage stood up and stretched crushed out his cigarette and made his way toward his bunk. The rest of the squad took that as their queue that the conversation, for tonight at least, was over and followed their Sergeant to bed.
Back on the planet beneath the four surviving Shock Troopers asleep in their bunks, Corporal Jason Thomas Cunningham was dreaming of the previous three days spent hiking through miles of valleys and forests on the planet below, his entire squad had been decimated in a Brute led counter-offensive. Rampant Brutes pulling your companions limb from limb was a hard thing not dwell on. JT had been lucky to escape with his life. The incendiary grenade he launched had covered his escape and with a few Brutes set ablaze, gave him enough time to put a few miles between him and his pursuers. The Brutes caught his scent though and a cold swim down a wide fast flowing river was all that saved him. He hadn't came away unscathed from the encounter though, he had taken a pretty heavy blast from a fragmentation grenade that had been generously returned by a Brute and was sore all over. The Brutes leading a number of Jackal trackers were still in the vicinity though and the Corporal was wisely choosing to maintain radio silence. He woke with a start and instinctively held his breath; he could hear movement close to him. The Covenant tracking party, now with their numbers swelled to a dozen Brutes and half a dozen Jackals moved by without noticing the Trooper lying prone in a bush barely two metres from them. The solitary Trooper decided he would wait fifteen minutes then move to a new position; it was going to be another long night of cat and mouse.
"Change of plan soldiers," Cage told his squad over breakfast, "Covenant forces took the base last night and rendered all our hard work useless."
"Typical, don't send a marine to do a Shock Trooper's job," Buster said with a grin.
Buster's happy go lucky attitude covered the fierce soldier beneath the smile, it helped him not go insane fighting a war on the back foot all of the time, it was how he coped. "So what is the plan then?" Jade inquired.
"We use the Human Entry Vehicles and drop in and meet the rest of the marine forces, then carry out the attack on the base from there." Cage told the group.
Forty five minutes later the Troopers were suited up and about to enter their personal Human Entry Vehicles. The HEV was the calling card of the ODST, the incredible heat inside them as they plummeted through the atmosphere was the reason they were called Helljumpers and it was where their motto, "Jump feet first into hell!" originated. Kurl locked himself into the harness as the door sealed itself shut with a reassuring hiss. The sequence of ten beeps started, on the tenth beep the pod would depart from the ship and the ride down through the atmosphere of the planet would begin. On the final beep the thrusters kicked in and the G force started to pick up. Kurl could feel the temperature rising as they hit the turbulence, the rocking of the cabin sometimes made soldiers new to the experience nauseous.
"Yeha!" Buster yelled over the radio
Shock Troopers always enjoyed the ride to the ground, even though it was highly dangerous. The metal canopy opened to slow them down and the change in the speed was dramatic. The roar of the thrusters as the approached the ground signalled the end of the ride, it had only took three minutes. The sealed doors slid open fast and the squad rushed out weapons ready.
The Marines were there to meet and the heckling began at once. Raven Squad was used to this sort of behaviour from Marines, but it didn't mean that it went unchecked. Fist fights between Marines and the ODST were frequent. Cage spotted the Marines Sergeant and made his way toward the coarse looking soldier. Introductions were made, "Sergeant Cage Adams," Cage stated while saluting.
"Sergeant Hickory Brown." The tall Sergeant responded.
"Shall we move out? My squad will take point; you guys follow behind, give us support if we get into trouble, but keep those apes of yours quiet." Cage asked.
"Try not to get killed." Hickory said sarcastically.
The twelve soldiers moved out of the temporary base and began the trek through the forest. Four miles into the expedition Cage ordered the men to drop and assume radio silence, he had heard something and he didn't like it, it was the unmistakeable howl of a Brute. "Safety Off, assume a defensive formation." Cage whispered into his radio.
The Marines retreated behind a fallen tree while Raven Squad quickly laid a couple mines. Footsteps could be heard and Cage held his breath.
"Wait for my signal to fire," Cage commanded the soldiers now set up in a rough crescent moon.
The footsteps were getting closer but were not as heavy as a Brute or Jackal, a UNSC soldier crashed into the cleared opening in front of the soldiers narrowly missing the leaf covered mines. It was JT, and in ODST fashion he quickly understood the situation, dived behind cover and set his sights on the clearing. A Jackal and Brute rushed into the clearing and tripped a mine blowing them clear of the area and sending a cloud of dust into the air. The first thing Kurl noticed as the dust settled was the instantly recognizable purple of a Jackal's goggles, a Carbine sang out in the forest and a Marine dropped but so did the Jackal as the JT scored a headshot with his BR. A huge Brute Chieftain rushed into the clearing urging his troops on, he was brandishing a Brute Shot and soon let loose showering the log where the remaining seven Marines were behind in explosions, until he stood on the other mine. Cage ordered the soldiers to fire at will and the Marines opened up with their Assault Rifles, riddling two Brutes as they rushed in. Two Carbine rounds in quick succession found the chest of a Marine and the head of another. Sergeant Brown seemed to lose control at the loss of two more of his troops and leaped over the log into the now not so peaceful clearing shooting another Brute down at close range and killing a Jackal with a frag grenade, he was quickly dispatched by the same Jackal that had dropped his troops. JT, the apparent marksman retaliated and avenged Brown's death with another headshot. The battle was not going well for the UNSC; they were now down to only nine men. The Brutes had gained some composure and had stopped charging in; they had set up a deployable cover and were sending a hail of bullets through the shield. Kurl decided enough was enough and arched a frag grenade over the top of the cover, bouncing it at the feet of a couple of stunned Brutes, the explosion toppled a tree as well as destroying the cover and taking the perplexed brutes out of the action. During the confusion a rampaging Brute managed to flank the UNSC soldier's position and crushed the skull of a screaming Marine, Jade emptied a clip into the beasts back. "Shit," Cage cursed as he watched first Jade fall, punctured by a Brute Spiker rounds, followed by two more Marines set ablaze with a Brute Firebomb. Cage caught sight of a Brute in his Battle Rifle scope and blew his head apart without hesitation. The last Marine got stuck with a Plasma Grenade and whimpered as it beeped his remaining seconds of life away. Buster shouted with anger as he blasted a Jackal out of a tree where it tossed the Plasma Grenade from. The remainder of Raven Squad with JT in tow then rushed the last of the Covenant tracking party and decimated them with a hail of bullets, cracking the skulls open of the recently deceased Brutes with the butt of their rifles, suffering no further loses.