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Outlaw six: Libertad
Posted By: Andres<andres_vera2000@yahoo.com>
Date: 9 June 2006, 12:18 am

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Ricardo looked away from the picture of the burning village, every building and shop aflame. The Covenant had released their wrath on the town and glassed it to bare ash. In a second picture on the same folder, however, was the new target of Saint Denis halfway between the Covenant landing site and no-man's-land.
"We got to plan this right," said Ricardo staring at the satellite photo of the town. It was smaller that Saint Paul, granted, but more compressed that been, the town was a small cement maze. Around it were three Covenant shade guns together –forming an out of shape triangle around the village- with six parked Ghosts vehicles. On the bottom right, next to it was the time 0056h, twenty five minutes before.
"Platoon sized force," noted O'Connor the second team leader of the mission. "Easy enough."
"Yes ma'am," said the satellite Techie. "Infrared shows thirty Grunts, twelve Jackals and two Elites. I'm downloading an up-to-date frame now."
"We go by H-E-Vs, we land on their feet and kick them in the nuts."
"Copy," replied Lieutenant Commander Samantha of the Space Jumper Service, a ramification of the ODST. "Jackhammer the Shades fast."
"Uh… sir…" said the Satellite Officer. "You better check this out."
"Oh my god," said Sam. Right next to one of the Shades there was a large red force. "Turn it to optical."
Yes, all what they feared was right. "Hostages." The orphans sat on the grassy fields surrounded by Jackal guards and, if Ricardo thought it right, they were the evening meal for the carnivore birds.
Ricardo sighed. "I have an idea," he pointed at once of the Shade guns. " We divide the force by three, eight men per chalk, drop right on top of the Shades and nock them up but secure one," Ricardo smiled. "Guess which one."
"I concur," said Samantha. The room for planning the mission was not the most adequate, it was a closet right next to the armory. "We use it to pin the Covenant in the town while we move the orphans to safety, call for the Cavalry after we secure it and hold it until we can exfil the orphans." Lieutenant Commander removed her sweat dotted glasses and sighed. "We have no room for error."
Ricardo chuckled. "Helljumpers never have room for mistakes."
"Granted." They both left the room and made a right turn, landing immediately on the armory.

"Feet first!" men as Sam O'Connor and Ricardo entered the armory. Each wore a bubble style helmet, with a IR probe extending out the forehead, body armor –which resembled a lifejacket- brown, green and black fatigues and different kinds of arms.
The mission was special enough to avoid the luxuries of a briefing room. Instead the armory of the freighter UNSC Libertad was enough for the twenty five men to gather for a small overview of the mission at hand. They were divided into three squads of eight, and the plan was simple. Ricardo's squad was to go first, land and secure a hostile gun, maintain suppressive fire and wait for the reinforcements while keeping casualties to a minimum –getting the hostages away from the Covenant-.
"Indeed," said Samantha. "We are now part of operation Libertad, our job is to secure a Covenant held town, and extract a hundred orphans through two Albatross aircraft."
"Rules of engagement?" asked a random trooper whom Ricardo had never seen before.
"Fire at will," said Ricardo. "The town is hostile and enemy will be there in force."
Ricardo took a step forward looking at the new faces he was to lead, so young and inexperienced. He missed his men.
"And they shoot right on the dot," said Igor entering the room. Behind him were Martini and Commons, both patched up on the face and arms, a needle had gone of near them the day before. Ricardo shook his head and laughed, the universal gesture of understanding an inside joke. "No kidding."
"How is the leg?" said Ricardo walking to one of the racks and grabbing a BR by the upper receiver.
"Good," said Igor tapping with his right hand the holster belted on his right thigh. "To go that is."
"I need someone to fire a Jackhammer."
Igor smiled, "I love those suckers."
"Then good," said Ricardo pointing at one of the launchers on the south.
"Hey ell-tee," whispered Commons. "Is the Cole thing right?"
Ricardo raised his shoulders and nodded to his right.

To open the ceramic door of a Human entry vehicle was always easy. To close it, there it was the dilemma, as it may never open again. Ricardo sighed as he sat down on the leather chair of the vault. "Good luck sir," said the sailor who slowly swung the door close, and a digital screen on the door was left at head level.
"Right," he said placing the MA-5H between his legs. "A walk in the park."
"All Outlaw units," called O'Connor. "Jackhammer shooters sharp, gunners steady and shooters calmed," she warned. "Covenant is no joke."
"Now how do we do this?" asked Ricardo through the network.
"Feet first!"
"Feet first?" said Igor on the HEV right next to Ricardo's one. "Never landed on my feet on an HEV drop," there were chuckles over the COM channel, "flat out on my ass."
"You like that, don't ya," replied Commons. The HEVs lined up next to each other on the hull of the freighter, the troopers inside waiting, expecting for that exact moment where the orbit of the ship was right on top of the town itself. All knew exactly when. There was a thud and the entire team was dropped out of the galleon.
Then, there was silence; all troopers knew that for the next few seconds there would be peace in the cold void of space. That few seconds before the coffins penetrated the atmosphere. Ricardo snapped out of his day dreaming as soon as the Human Entry Vehicle jumped out in the atmospheric breach.
"ETA to Delta Zulu is three- five sierras," said an electronic voice on his helmet. Ricardo gripped his assault rifle and thumbed off the safety off on the receiver. Sweat began to pour through his front. The Human Entry Vehicle began to be covered by the intense heat of the atmosphere and the velocity too, thus creating a red wake as the twenty seven Single Occupant Exo-atmospheric Insertion Vehicles tore through.
"Triple A detected," suddenly the crafts began to jump upside down as red and blue fireballs envolved them.
It only took two seconds for Tango three-two, one of the HEV to disappear on a giant fireball. Ricardo gripped his assault rifle, by pulling it from between his legs, and pissed himself off. Another Kilo-India-Alpha to his belt.
"Touchdown in three-two-bang."
Compressed air propelled the large door outwards, landing it ten feet away, and Ricardo jumped out, landing on his knees. He checked his sectors –north, northeast and east- and found no targets in the grove. "Clear," he said as six of his men joined him forming a cocoon around him.
"Set timers," said Ricardo lowering the visor of his helmet. "Now," he tapped a button on his right forearm and nodded. "We have two-five mikes to pull this off and three miles to cover."

The path from the DZ had been a tense, silent one. No one had ever expected to perform such mission, hostage rescue, against the Covenant. Only a bad joke tried to change the ambient to no avail. It was too grim and dark for that.
From the inside of the tall-grass grove the form of the small, blue armored Grunts was perfectly visible in the dark night through the NVGs, so clear that the conducts of their breathing apparatus were delineated perfectly from their bodies. Range was about two hundred meters away and with the x4 sights it was a turkey shot.
The eight troopers knew one thing, timing was of the essence. The eight Grunts lay guard around the orphans unaware of what was coming towards them, that meaning, if a shot failed the survivor could harm the Hostages, which was unacceptable. "Left to right, Igor has priority on secondary target, the Shade."
The team acknowledged, by simple radio squeaks, the order and waited. Ricardo, using his left elbow as support waited for that millisecond when the aimpoint of the sight touched the face of the creature. It happened automatically, he pulled the trigger and the creature fell instantly. It happened eight times and the beasts lay limp on the ground. "Guards down, move."
Ricardo stood up and began a crouch walk towards the unaware hostages.
"Compromised!" shouted Igor almost immediately. Several Grunts, from the town, were making a run for it –the Shade that overlooked both the troopers and the hostages- and his chalk were already pounding on them. The Jackhammer shooter knelt waited a second for the lock and landed limp on the earth. "Shit! Man down!" he looked around to his men, all exposed in the open and grunted in anger and satisfaction, combined. The bipeds fell on their faces as small chunks of tissue, earth and grass were pulled out of their bodies and flora. It was a slaughter that placed the ratio 14:1. Good enough as far as he could tell.
Ricardo was the only one of them to see the Jackal running incredibly fast towards the tripod-mounted gun; it seemed in slow motion in spite the inhumane speed of the small, arched bird. It jumped and landed on the seat, swung the barrel, or whatever the trio of rectangles were, and aimed it on the panicking, scattering orphans. Ricardo centered the sight of his rifle on the creatures head and pulled the trigger. He got a simple click in response.
"Shit!" he bellowed. "Get that son-of-a-bitch now!" Out of the blue the creature's pointy head disappeared.
"Got you covered sir," called Eyeball. Ricardo's gut was filled with a nearly forgotten feeling, joy. One of his men, the ones he trained, was alive and well, he grunted in approval and made a turn around the battered HEV.
"Where are you James?"
"About a mile from where you are, good and ready, holding on covering pattern."
"Roger, get down here for extraction," Ricardo breathed deeply. "Chalk three, sound off."
"Five ready!"
"Six ready!"
"Seven ok!"
"Igor get on that Shade, the rest of you move the orphans towards the grove, fast." He made a quick equipment check of his men, visually, and ordered two men towards him. "Cover the Shade at all costs," he pointed at it. "Don't let the Jackals get near it."
The Jackal, still holding the triggers, laid headless on the sit. "Don't get yourself filthy on brains." Then, his troopers began to approach the orphans and group by group they started to fall out of formation.
"Winchester, Winchester, Winchester," said Ricardo into his headset calling the rest of the Helljumpers down. "Igor, hit the buildings." The Ukrainian kicked the Jackal of the seat and sat on the leather-looking chair. He pressed the two buttons on top of the pair of handles and red beams began to hit just short of the houses. He selected one of the houses and walked the beams towards it. The structure fell down to bits, one brick at a time.
Then, exactly timed as planned, on the sky several red dots began to glow downward from the sky, like a red shower of shooting stars, and slowly converted into red vaults. They were the rest of the platoon ready to reinforce. The vessels landed on the ground causing def thuds and brown dir clouds and within seconds for the first time since the mission started, there was gunfire.
"Chalk one, on the ground and engaged!"
"Chalk two, situation is same."
"Sir, hostages secure." Called SSG Diaz, by the edge of the grove where eight men maintained a perimeter around the Orphans. Still, missing were the soldiers of the seventy eight civil affairs. If anything was certain, they were still inside the town and phase two of the mission was about to begin, the problem at hand was, that phase two, consisted in destruction of the town and if they were in-town, dead or alive, they would stand luckless against the odds. "Igor," he calmly said over the town. "Base of fire on the town."
"Chalk three, hold position," he stood up and began to walk towards the town. "I have five minutes, if and only if I don't get out, bomb the shit out of it in five mikes." He was halfway towards the town when a plasma bolt smeared over his head, he dropped, looked up and identified the threat.
Jackal on a window, third on the right from the main road. He centered his sight on it and opened fire, killing the bird instantly. "Igor, base of fire."
He got back up on his feet, and resumed walking amidst the battle. He reached the town outskirts when Igor ceased fire, he choused the broken house to assault it, jumping over the debris and scanning the rubble for any survivors. Pinned under a stone was a blue armored Grunt, a rookie. He moved beside him and crouched –waiting for the beast to try to move- and saw it painfully squeak.
He pointed at his shoulder where a patch showed the UNSC sing, earth surrounded by stars, and circled his right index finger, a question the alien creature could not, not understand.
It tried to move but the stone kept it pinned, Ricardo stood and kicked it down breaking the leg of the inferior being. He pointed his rifle on the creature's shoulder and waited. It took three seconds for the beast to comply it pointed at the tallest building –a Hotel- and squeaked again. Ricardo smiled and turned around leaving an unpinned frag grenade on the ground.
"Igor," said Ricardo. "Tallest building, hold on it."
"Chalk one and two, got a location on Hostages, center building Hotel Saint Denis."
"Roger," called number one. "Advice?"
"Hold position, base of fire on the structure with small arms, I'll handle the pickup."
"Roger that," Ricardo leveled his rifle and began to walk over the rubble towards a second building which was intact. He cornered it, and took the main street –which lead to the Hotel- he began to cover, scanning the frames with his eyes and rifle. He covered it and made a right turn at the first corner.
He jumped-backtracked his way back after a dozen beams of a plasma rifle struck it. It was close, thought Ricardo. He pressed himself against the wall and peeked right, with his rifle shouldered, and opened suppressive fire. He waxed a Grunt.
"Chalk one, suppress the Hotel now," he took a small peek right and saw the top floor of the building being disintegrated, chunks landing on the street scattering the enemies that lay on it. He ducked, went prone and rolled to his right. He aimed at a running Jackal –which used it's shield as an umbrella- and killed it with two slugs. The rest of the creatures were crushed, smashed and broken apart by the large chunks of cement landing on the street that were ripped apart by the rounds from the two squads on the outskirts of the town.
Ricardo snapped to his feet, and ran across the avenue towards the Hotel. Still aiming his rifle at the doorway he crouched. Time to wait. One by one the Covenant began to pour out passing by the smoking ball at their feet.
The Lieutenant passed the carcasses by and entered the lobby of the hotel. There, eight men unconscious on the ground. "Chalk one; target is secure, requesting backup."
Ricardo shouldered his rifle and checked the fancy counter, stairways and elevators. There were no threats, He went for the oldest of the soldiers, an old man who used to be a Colonel and checked his pulse his index finger. The faint thuds on the skin indicated a weak pulse.
"Winchester, requesting MEDEVAC at Hotel Paradise," he chuckled at his own joke. "Soldiers are OK."
"This is Chalk one, we are on the main street, be there in two mikes taking fire from the top floor."
"Roger that," Ricardo walked to the entrance and leveled his rifle at his eye. The narrow cement corridor which could be called a street was clear, the problem, however, was the top floor. He could hear the plasma pistol shots from the upper levels.
"Chalks, this is one, cease fire."
"Negative taking fire from one's position."
"I'll handle it," said Ricardo. "You don't want to shoot me don't you?"
There was no reply. He turned around and headed for the wooden doorway that led to the stairs, he peeked in and it was clear. The trooper immediately burst inward scanning with his rifle the top flight.
He began to go one step at a time before getting to the half of it. He rechecked the down doorway, then the upwards. He covered the second flight of stairs with two jump-steps.
He kicked the door and a cement shot-up wall was revealed, he followed the sounds of the plasma rifle turning right and passing to doors which he checked, both were clear. Ricardo pulled a Heavy Explosive grenade out of his harness and rolled it into the third room of the corridor.
After the dust cleared he jumped inside and waxed the Elite cold with a single slug to his head. He breached in and called a "clear" over the radio. It was over. The last of the enemy had been wiped out and it was all OK; or so he thought.
"Damn," he said through the COM. "Loads of them, north by northwest."
"Roger that," called Chalk one. At least a Company of Grunts charged inward as a tidal wave over a small rock. "We are going to need air to take them out."
"Roger that Outlaw six, this is bravo two, on station," then he remembered. The two birds have been task to provide Close Air Support in case it all went to hell. "Moving into the town, two-niner-three," Ricardo watched both aircraft descend covered in contrails, dove down and drop two rockets on the formation. The two red mushroom clouds emanated at the center of the Covenant wave wiping them out.
Next targets began to pour out of everywhere, leaving him alone. "Shift target, zero-one-zero," he aimed his rifle and waited. "Range two hundred yards."
The crafts dove again and struck the Grunts. "Two-seven-zero," there comes a time in battle when all the training and experience comes to mind, when one can possibly perform any given mission. Now he was a Forward Air Controller, not a Lieutenant. There all his training would be consummated. "Approaching chalk two, three-three-three."
"Sir," said Gunnery Sergeant Smith, "Great job."
"Sure," said Ricardo. "What is your situation."
"Commander O'Connor is prepping for touchdown of the Albatross."
"Good, I'll keep the Covenant busy."